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   Chapter 19 No.19

The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 12505

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


When Mrs. Maroney left the cars at the corner of Prime and Broad streets, she accidentally ran across De Forest, who was in the city on some business of his own.

"Oh! I am so glad to meet you," exclaimed Mrs. Maroney.

"And I am delighted to hear you say so," replied De Forest.

The poor fellow had missed her sadly. She had parted from him in anger, and he felt cut to the quick by her cold treatment. He had at first determined to blot her memory from his heart, and for this purpose turned his attention to Miss Johnson, and tried to get up the same tender feeling for her with which Mrs. Maroney had inspired him, but he found it impossible. He missed Mrs. Maroney's black flashing eye, one moment filled with tenderness, the next sparkling with laughter. Then Mrs. Maroney had a freedom of manners that placed him at once at his ease, while Miss Johnson was rather prudish, quite sarcastic, and somehow he felt that he always made a fool of himself in her presence. Besides, Miss Johnson was marriageable, and much as De Forest loved the sex, he loved his freedom more. His morals were on a par with those of Sheridan's son, who wittily asked his father, just after he had been lecturing him, and advising him to take a wife, "But, father, whose wife shall I take?" Day after day passed wearily to him; Jenkintown without Mrs. Maroney was a dreary waste. He felt that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," so when Mrs. Maroney greeted him so heartily he was overjoyed.

"Have you been far South?" he asked.

"Yes, indeed? Flora and I have not had our clothes off for five days, and we are completely exhausted; what a fright I must look!"

"You look perfectly charming! at least to me you do," fervently answered De Forest. "Let me have your baggage transferred to the North Pennsylvania Railroad. In that way you can send it to Jenkintown without any trouble. You and Flora honor me with your company to Mitchell's, where we will have some refreshments, and then I will drive you home in my buggy."

After a little persuasion Mrs. Maroney consented to the arrangement, and De Forest, once more himself, got their baggage checked to Jenkintown, and calling a hackman, as he had left his own team in the stable, they were driven to Mitchell's. Green followed them up and watched them from the steps of Independence Hall, while Rivers mounted the baggage-wagon and was driven to the North Pennsylvania station, and in less than an hour was in Jenkintown. De Forest ordered a substantial meal at Mitchell's, and when they had finished it, ordered his team and drove gaily out of the city, closely wedged in between Mrs. Maroney and Flora.

When he went to get his team he hurriedly reported to the Vice-President that he had Mrs. Maroney at Mitchell's, and that her former coolness had vanished. As they drove up to Cox's, Mrs. Maroney was much pleased to meet Madam Imbert and Miss Johnson. The ladies bowed, and Mrs. Maroney requested the Madam to stop a moment, as she had something to tell her. Madam Imbert told Miss Johnson to walk on home, while she went to Cox's, and was warmly embraced by Mrs. Maroney. How De Forest envied her! De Forest drove up to the tavern with his team, and the rest of the party went into the house, where they were cordially welcomed by Mrs. Cox.

Mrs. Maroney said she was tired almost to death, but wanted a few moments' conversation with the Madam before she changed her clothing. "Madam Imbert," she said, "you don't know how happy I am to meet you. I have just come from the South, where all my husband's friends are. He is now in deep trouble, and is held a prisoner in New York, at the instigation of the Adams Express Company, who charge him with having robbed them of some fifty thousand dollars. They charge him with committing this robbery in Montgomery, but hold him in New York. I went South for the purpose of getting a requisition for his immediate return to Montgomery. When I got there I was much surprised to find that nearly all his influential friends had taken the part of the company, and I now return almost crazed, without being able to get the necessary papers, and my poor husband must languish in jail, I don't know how long."

"Mrs. Maroney, I can sympathize with you thoroughly. When my husband was prosperous we had hosts of friends-friends whom I thought would always be true to us; but the moment he got into trouble they were gone, and the only friend I now have is the abundance of money he left me."

"In this respect I cannot complain," replied Mrs. Maroney, "as my husband gave me money enough to support me a lifetime; but it is so hard to be separated from him! I am fortunate in having found a friend like you, Madam Imbert, and I trust we may spend many hours together. I must write a letter to my husband to let him know I am again in the North."

"I will take it down to the postoffice for you," said Madam Imbert.

"Oh, no, I thank you, I will not put you to the trouble; Josh. is going down to Stemples's, and he will post it for me."

Madam Imbert could not well stay longer as Mrs. Maroney seemed very tired. So she bade her good-bye, Mrs. Maroney promising to call on her the next day.

She was not satisfied with what she had accomplished, and feared that Mrs. Maroney had some secret arrangement under way. As she walked musingly along, she met Rivers in a place where no one appeared in sight.

"Rivers, I wish you would keep a sharp lookout on Cox's to-night. I think they are up to something, but what, I can't find out. Will you?"

"Certainly," replied Rivers; "I am pretty well tired out, but I can stand it for a week, if necessary."

"There is another thing which ought to be attended to," said Madam Imbert. "Mrs. Maroney is writing a letter to her husband; I think it is an important one. Don't you think you could manage to get possession of it? She is going to send it to Stemples's by Josh., so you might get him drunk and then gain possession of it."

"Leave that to me. I think I can work it all right," said Rivers, as they separated, no one being aware of their interview.

Rivers went to Stemples's, and calling up every one in the bar-room, asked them to have a drink. Barclay and Horton were there, and

as they swallowed their liquor, looked at each other and winked. Horton whispered: "Rivers is a little 'sprung' to-day."

"D--d tight, in my opinion," replied Barclay.

In a few moments Josh. came in, and in a very important tone asked for Stemples.

"Stemple sout! Hellow, Josh., that you?" said Rivers, slapping him on the shoulder. "I've taken a leetle too much bitters to-day, but I'm bound to have another horn before I go home. Come and have something?"

"Where is Stemples?" reiterated Cox.

"Oh, he's up stairs. Come and have a drink?"

Josh. willingly assented, and with Barclay and Horton they went up to the bar. Rivers seized the whisky-bottle as the barkeeper handed it down, and filled his glass to the brim. Josh., Horton, and Barclay took moderate quantities of the liquor. "Drink hearty, boys," said Rivers, "I am going to have a good horn to go to bed on."

Josh. looked closely at him, and then turned and winked knowingly to Barclay and Horton. The moment he turned, Rivers changed glasses with him, emptied out nearly all the liquor that Cox had put into his glass, and filled it with water.

"Here, boys, drink hearty! Ain't you going to drink up?"

Thus admonished, all four raised their glasses and drained them at a draft. Josh. swallowed down the brimming glass of pure whisky without a wink, and it must be admitted that, to his credit as a toper, he never noticed the difference. They had two or three drinks on about the same basis before Stemples came down.

Josh. was standing with the letter in his hand ready to give it to him when he came in. When Stemples came in Rivers snatched the letter from Josh.'s hand and said:

"Here, Stemples, is a letter for you!" and handed it to him.

Cox was in a condition not to mind trifles, and scarcely knew whether he did or did not give the letter to Stemples. So long as he had it, that was all he wanted.

Rivers, quick as a flash, had read the direction on the letter: "Nathan Maroney, Eldridge Street Jail, New York."

Stemples took the letter and placed it carelessly in a pigeon-hole, behind a small, railed-off place just at the end of the bar. Josh. started home with Barclay and Horton. Rivers accompanied them a short distance and then returned to Stemples's. He looked through the windows and saw that the bar-room was completely deserted. He peered around and found that both Stemples and the barkeeper were in the stable harnessing up the horses, bent on going to a ball at a neighboring town. He glanced around in all directions until he was sure there was no fear of detection, and then stealthily entered the bar-room. He noiselessly crossed the floor, went behind the railing, pulled the much desired letter from the pigeon-hole and, with his treasure, returned safely to the street without detection.

He returned to his boarding-house, procured a lamp and went directly to his room. He then dexterously opened the letter in such a manner that no trace was left to show that it had been tampered with, and tremblingly proceeded to read it, filled with the hope that the mystery would be solved by its contents. He read as follows:

"My Dear Husband:-I know it will pain you to learn that a notice of our marriage has been published in Montgomery. It has caused a great many of our old friends to turn away from us, among others Mrs. May, who was the first one to inform me, and who grossly insulted me and fairly ordered me out of her house. Who could have spread the news? I think the only true friend you now have in Montgomery is Mr. Porter. Patterson swindled me in the bargain for the livery stable, and Charlie May is, you know, as variable as the weather in the North; but Mr. Porter did me many kind turns without seeking to make anything out of me. Flora and I arrived in Jenkintown this afternoon thoroughly tired out. I could not get the requisition. I will write fully to-morrow or the next day.

"I have all safe in the trunk. Left --- at hotel in Athens. I afterward found it convenient to alter my bustle and put paper into it and strips of old rags. It set well, but I was tired when I got home with it.

"Your loving wife."

Rivers scribbled off a copy of the letter and then sealed it up again. He walked back to Stemples's and found a party in the wagon waiting for the barkeeper to close up and go to the ball with them. Rivers, still pretending to be drunk, staggered up to the door of the bar-room, which was just about to be closed, and walked in. There was no one present but the barkeeper; the people in the wagon were yelling to him to hurry up.

"Give me a drink," said Rivers.

"You have had enough for one night, it seems to me," remarked the barkeeper.

"No," said Rivers, "just give me one drink and I'll go!"

As the barkeeper turned to take down the bottle, Rivers flipped the letter, which he had in his hand, over towards the pigeon-hole; it just missed its mark and fell on the floor.

"What's that?" exclaimed the barkeeper, turning hastily around, "a rat?"

"No, a mouse, I guess!" said Rivers.

"I declare, if that mouse didn't knock a letter out of the pigeon-hole!" remarked the barkeeper as he picked it up and put it in its place. "Hurry up, Rivers, I want to go!"

Rivers swallowed his drink and went off well pleased with his success.

His work was not done yet, as Madam Imbert had requested him to keep a watch on Cox's house. He walked along in the direction of Cox's, and felt almost oppressed by the perfect stillness of the night. It was not broken even by the barking of watch-dogs. The whole place seemed wrapped in slumber. When he reached the house, he walked carefully around for about an hour, when a light in the second story-the only one he had seen-was extinguished. He then crawled up close to the house, where he could hear every movement within; but all he heard was the shrill voice of Mrs. Cox, occasionally relieved by snorts from Cox, and he concluded that all that was transpiring at Cox's was a severe curtain lecture, brought about through his instrumentality. At two a. m. he returned to his boarding-house, wrote out his report for Bangs, enclosing the copy of Mrs. Maroney's letter, and retired after an exciting day's work.

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