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The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 11946

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Roch walked carelessly past the door of Maroney's room and saw him busily engrossed in packing up. He lost no time. Where Maroney was going he did not know. He rushed to the office, paid his bill, went to his room, changed his clothes, and in less than ten minutes issued from the hotel, again the plodding Dutchman. Aladdin with his wonderful lamp, could not have brought about a much more rapid transformation. As he reached the sidewalk, Maroney had just stepped into a hack, and he heard him order the driver to get to the steamboat landing as soon as possible. Roch, with his long pipe and old satchel, followed on behind, and the citizens he met gazed in wonder to see a sleepy Dutchman travel at such a rate.

The "Mary Morrison," one of the fast boats of the river, was just casting off from the wharf as they arrived, and they had barely time to get on board. Roch had taken up his old quarters in the steerage, and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful view as they steamed up past the famous Crescent City. He had now time to wipe the sweat from his brow, and wonder what place Maroney was going to. He concluded that he was going back to Montgomery by way of Memphis. True, it was rather an out of the way route, but such seemed to be the sort that Maroney preferred. He could not tell to what point Maroney would pay his fare, but as Memphis seemed to be the objective point, he took a through second class ticket to that place. The first one hundred and fifty miles of the journey up the river is though the richest and most beautiful part of Louisiana. This part of the river is known as the coast, and is lined on both sides by waving fields of cane, interspersed with orange groves. Alligators lie basking in the sun, and the whole scene speaks of the tropics. Beautiful as was the country, it had no charms for Maroney. His mind was occupied with other thoughts, and he paced up and down the deck as if anxious to get to the end of his journey.

All went quietly until they reached Natchez, "under the hill," when Roch was again astonished to see Maroney's trunk being placed on the wharf boat. He could not understand this move, but had nothing to do but to follow. Maroney loitered around the wharf-boat, seeming to have no business to attend to, but when the Morrison steamed up the river, he advanced to the agent of Jones' Express, had a brief conversation with him, paid him some money, and an old trunk was delivered to him. Maroney did not seem to place any value on the trunk, and had it put carelessly along with his other baggage. Strange indeed, thought Roch, what can he want with that old trunk? It was an old box, painted black, and thickly studded with nails. It was a shaky looking affair, and did not look as if it would stand much of a chance with a modern "baggage smasher." It had some old tags pasted on it, which showed where it had been. One which was partly scraped off, read Montgomery, another Galveston, and still another New Orleans.

There was nothing to show that it was of any consequence, and Roch looked carelessly at it, as Maroney had left it carelessly on the wharf-boat, along with his other trunk, and sauntered up the hill. Maroney put up at the hotel, still leaving his baggage in charge of the agent of Jones's Express,-who was also proprietor of the wharf-boat.

Roch followed Maroney up town, but, as he did not know when the boats arrived going up or down the river, and as it began to grow dark, he concluded he had better stay on the wharf-boat and keep track of the luggage. Maroney might leave at any hour of the night, as, on the Mississippi it is not an uncommon occurrence for an unexpected boat to land or take off passengers with little or no delay, even at the dead of night. So he got some lunch, and lay around the wharf-boat, as many poor people do while travelling. Maroney did not come down during the night, but Roch felt perfectly easy, so long as he kept the trunks in view.

In the morning a steamer came along, bound down the river. Maroney made his appearance, but paid no attention to the poor immigrant, whom he considered beneath his notice. He had his trunks placed on board, and took passage for New Orleans. Roch was all amazement, and could not understand why such a chase should have been made after an old trunk. He was inclined to think that Maroney must have had some business with the store-keeper in Natchez, but what sort of business he could not determine. He was sure something had been done in New Orleans or at Natchez. It might have been with the ladies on the hill, or with the negro and the lame foot. Whatever it was, it was completely covered up.

He managed to telegraph these particulars to me, at one of the places where the steamer stopped, and I instructed him to keep right on, and that I would answer more fully in time.

On arriving in New Orleans, Maroney again put up at the City Hotel, while Roch went to a neighboring restaurant, to get some refreshments, intending afterwards to change his clothes, and make his appearance as the dashing Southerner. He had just finished his meal, when, on looking over to the City Hotel, he saw Maroney getting into a carriage, on which his two trunks were already placed. He rushed out as Maroney drove off in the direction of the depot where passengers take the cars for Pontchartrain, and then go by steamer to Mobile.

He had to make quick time again, and was fortunate enough to secure the services of a negro drayman who had a fast horse. With this assistance he got to the station "on time," and, securing a second-class ticket to Mobile, was soon away on another route.

After reaching Pontchartrain, and embarking on the steamer, Maroney seemed happier than he had yet been, and walked around the deck, singing and whistling, apparently overflowing with good spirits. As his spirits rose, Roch's fell in a corresponding degree. He was unable to understand the cause of this change; everything seem

ed confused to him, and he did not know what to do. He finally concluded that Maroney had left Montgomery, going to Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, etc., merely to see if he would be followed, and now, finding he had not been, he was returning home in a perfectly easy frame of mind.

So much at least had been done. Roch knew that all his actions had met with my approval. I was the responsible party, and if I was satisfied, he was. In the meantime, I was unable to form a definite opinion as to the reason for the change which had evidently taken place in Maroney. There was no denying but that something had happened to give him more courage, and it flashed through my mind: Has he got the money?

I thought nothing about the old trunk, as, if he had had anything valuable in it, he would not have left it so carelessly exposed, at the stations, on the wharf-boat, etc. All I could do was to carry out my old plan: "Watch and wait."

Roch, on the journey to Mobile, took a seat on this identical trunk; he saw nothing suspicious about the old thing, which was not even locked, but tied up with ropes. Had it entered his mind that the trunk contained the money he was after, the battle would have been a short one. But he knew nothing, positively nothing, which would lead him to suppose that this was the case; so he had nothing to do but to wait, and wait he did.

On Saturday, the thirtieth day of April, the steamer arrived at Mobile, and the passengers speedily disembarked. At three in the afternoon a steamer started up the Alabama river, for Montgomery, and on this boat Maroney took passage. Among the passengers going to Montgomery were a number of his friends. There were many ladies among them, and he was well received by all of them. He took no notice of his baggage, and his trunks lay carelessly amidst a pile of luggage.

On board all was life and hilarity. Fun and frolic were the order of the day. There were several horse fanciers on board, with whom he was acquainted, and he got into a conversation with them, his spirits rising higher and higher still.

When the boat touched at Montgomery he sprang ashore, where he was welcomed by a crowd of his friends, and gave orders to Porter to have his trunks taken up to the hotel. Porter, during his absence, had been appointed clerk of the Exchange. He was on the wharf when Maroney arrived, and shook hands with him. He told him he was now at the Exchange; that it was the best house in town, and that Mr. Floyd would be glad to welcome him as a guest. Maroney was pleased to hear this, and told Porter that when his trunks came up to the house he would give him some splendid cigars to try-some that he had bought on his trip. Porter saw Roch, but dared not speak to him.

Roch seeing Maroney placed under the espionage of Porter, proceeded to his Dutch boarding-house and gave himself a thorough cleansing.

Porter had a carriage at the wharf, which Maroney and he entered, and drove up to Patterson's. They took a few drinks and then went over to the Exchange, where they arrived just as Maroney's trunks came up. He directed Porter to send the large trunk to his room, but to place the old one in the baggage room, and to mark it plainly with his name, so that no one would take it by mistake.

In the evening Maroney and Porter stepped over to Patterson's and there met Charlie May, a wealthy harness-maker and a very prominent man. He was one of Maroney's best friends and was so convinced of his innocence of the crime he was charged with committing that he had gone on his bail-bond. They went into a private room and had a social chat, interspersed with an occasional drink. Several of Maroney's friends came in and joined the party.

Maroney spoke of the splendid cigars he had bought on his journey, and told the assembled company that when he opened his trunk he would give them a chance to prove their quality. All went pleasantly with him, and Porter was unable to notice any change, with the exception that he was perhaps a little livelier than before.

He recounted the incidents of his journey, the routes he had taken, the places where he had stopped, etc., and Porter found it varied little from the truth. He alluded to the girls he had visited in Chattanooga, said the stock was splendid, described the situation of the house and advised them to pay it a visit if they ever went to the town. He spoke of the fine horses he had seen at Cook's livery stable and of Cook's being a fine fellow. He also spoke of inspecting the live stock in the stables at Nashville and at the pleasant dwelling at Natchez, on the hill, and wound up by declaring he had had a splendid time, and ordering in Champagne for all the party.

In the morning, after breakfast, he told Porter to have the old trunk sent up to his room and he would get the cigars he had spoken about. Porter ordered the colored boy to bring the trunk up, and at Maroney's request went to the room with him to assist in the opening. When the trunk was brought up the negro and Porter took off the ropes and Maroney carelessly opened it. There were four boxes of cigars in it. Maroney opened one of them, took a handful of cigars from it, gave a number of them to Porter to try, and when Porter had lit one, said:

"What do you think of that? don't you call that a splendid cigar?"

Porter admitted it was an unusually fine-flavored weed. Maroney then put some, from each of the boxes, into his pockets, and said he was going to drive out with "Yankee Mary."

Porter having no good excuse for remaining longer, returned to the office, whence he was soon recalled by Maroney, who requested him to have the trunk roped up and placed in the garret, where unclaimed baggage was usually stored. While this was being done, Porter observed the four cigar boxes lying carelessly on the bureau. Shortly after he saw Maroney and Charlie May pass rapidly up the street behind "Yankee Mary."

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