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   Chapter 29 No.29

The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 9610

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


At Jenkintown there was no lull in the fight. The battle was going on gloriously. Breakfast at Cox's was a meagre meal, even the children were neglected, as all the grown portion of the household were on the lookout for the book-peddler.

"Sister Ann! Sister Ann! do you see any one coming?" was the cry.

Every once in a while one of them would go to the gate and look anxiously down the road, in the direction of Philadelphia. Mrs. Maroney was impatiently awaiting the arrival of Madam Imbert. She did not have to wait long, as the Madam came down immediately after breakfast. Her commanding figure and decided expression made her appear like a general giving orders. She was perfectly calm, while all the rest were so excited that they did not know what to do or say. She controlled the position.

Mrs. Maroney had not slept any and was still unable to decide upon her action. She strolled out with the Madam a short distance, thinking to find relief in a quiet chat. She said she was filled with doubts and fears. She was afraid to trust Josh., and he might go off at any moment with the packages. Madam Imbert told her that there was only one thing to be done, and that was to give up the packages to White as her husband ordered.

"Are you sure," said she, "that the letter is in your husband's handwriting?"

Mrs. Maroney looked at her in a startled manner and pulled the letter from its hiding place in the bosom of her dress. She scanned it over carefully and said:

"Yes, it is Nat.'s writing."

"Then there is nothing to do but to give it up. If my husband ordered me I would gladly give up all I have in this world to please him."

They remained away from the house for some time, and when they returned it was nearly noon. On looking down the street they discovered a book-peddler slowly toiling along from the direction of Philadelphia and evidently bending his steps towards Cox's. As Mrs. Maroney saw him coming along sweltering in the sun and bending under the weight of his load of books, she gave an involuntary start, and Madam Imbert, on whose arm she leaned, felt that she was trembling with excitement. Cox stood beside his wife in the door-way with his teeth clinched. His wife looked unutterable things, but neither uttered a word.

Madam Imbert and Mrs. Maroney went into the yard and stood leaning over the gate, watching the peddler, who was rapidly drawing near. He arrived at the gate at the appointed time.

"Do you wish to buy any books?" asked he, at the same time handing Mrs. Maroney a novel to look at, which he opened so as to disclose a note. He spoke to her in a low tone and said:

"I am from prison," then glancing at the note, "I think that is for you."

She took the novel, and, holding it open as if reading it, scanned the contents of the note:

"My Dearest Wife: This is the book-peddler. You will want to buy books from him. Buy what you want. Give him the packages for me. He is honest.

"All is well.

Nat."

When she had read the note she stood looking at it, apparently unable to speak. Madam Imbert looked at her, and as she began to fear that some of the neighbors might notice the long stay of the peddler, said:

"Have you no message for the man? Time is precious!"

"Yes," she answered, looking up as from a trance.

Madam Imbert spoke in a low tone:

"Tell him to meet you down the lane."

"Yes," said she, "I will meet you down the lane at two o'clock and take some books from you."

The peddler left a few novels and walked off. Mrs. Maroney and Madam Imbert walked into the house. Now was the time for Madam Imbert to show her power.

"Come, Mrs. Maroney, be quick! You must act at once! Get the money for the book-peddler, quick!"

Mrs. Maroney seemed to act mechanically. Madam Imbert's strong will had asserted a power over her that she could not resist. They went into the cellar accompanied by Josh. and his wife.

"Dig the money up," commanded Mrs. Maroney still in the same mechanical tone.

Josh. hesitated.

"Give me the spade!" said Madam Imbert. "Show me where the money is secreted!"

Then, turning to Josh. and his wife, she said:

"You are fools! You would not only ruin Mrs. Maroney, but yourselves. Maroney knows best what is for his interest."

Mrs. Maroney pointed out the spot where the money was buried. The Madam struck the spade into the ground.

"Stop, I'll do it!" said Josh.; "if you are bound to make a beggar of yourself it is no fault of mine."

The money was about eighteen inches under the level of the cellar floor, wrapped up in a piece of oil skin. It was soon unearthed and taken up stairs. Mrs. Maroney said:

"I will go and get the buggy, or-no! Josh.! you go to Stemples's and get his team; tell him it is for me."

Josh., without waiting t

o fill up the hole, started off. Madam Imbert wrapped the money in two newspapers, and when Josh. came with the team, which he soon did, put it into the front part of the buggy and covered it with the apron, and, getting in with Mrs. Maroney, drove down the lane.

White, when he received the message from Mrs. Maroney, returned to the Rising Sun and reported to me. We (the Vice-President and I) secreted ourselves under some magnolias growing close by the lane, and near where the meeting would take place. At the appointed time the book-peddler was seen by us coming up the lane, and at almost the same moment a buggy came in sight going down. It was a moment of breathless interest to both of us.

They met almost directly opposite to where we were concealed. Madam Imbert said: "Let us have some books!" The peddler lifted his satchel into the buggy; the Madam hurriedly emptied it of its contents, and holding it open jammed the bundle of money into it and handed it back to the peddler. Not a word more was said. Madam Imbert turned the team around and started the horses on a fast trot toward Jenkintown, while the peddler sweltered along under the broiling sun in the direction of the tavern.

"The peddler lifted his satchel into the buggy; the Madam hurriedly emptied it of its contents, and holding it open, jammed the bundle of money into it, and handed it back to the peddler."-Page 268.

Madam Imbert drove up to Stemples's, took the books, which were wrapped in papers, to her room, and invited Mrs. Maroney up to take some brandy.

Mrs. Maroney was in a passive state, and did everything Madam Imbert told her to do, as if powerless to resist. She remained for some time with Madam Imbert, but finally said, in a pitiful tone: "Well, I believe I am sick. This excitement has nearly killed me."

Madam Imbert advised her to lie down, and accompanied her to Cox's. Josh. had gone out with Rivers, and Mrs. Cox refused to be seen. Madam Imbert administered an opiate to Mrs. Maroney, and then returned to the tavern. Toward evening she hired Stemples's team and drove into Philadelphia.

The Vice-President and I remained concealed until the two women were well out of sight, when we overtook White, who was slowly toiling down the road. I received the satchel containing the money from him. From the time he received the money until he handed it over to me, I had had my eye on him-not exactly because I did not trust him, but I thought it wrong to lead the poor fellow into temptation.

We went to the Rising Sun, where we took dinner, but did not mention the subject which was uppermost in our minds. After dinner we drove into the city and placed the money in the vaults of the Express Company.

The Vice-President at once telegraphed to the President of the company to come from New York, as he did not wish to count the money until he was present.

In the evening Madam Imbert arrived at the hotel, and finding I was in consultation with the Vice-President, sent word in that she would like to see me. When I came to her she eagerly asked: "Is the money all right?"

"All right," I answered. When she heard this her strength seemed suddenly to leave her, and she nearly fainted. The victory was complete, but her faculties had been strained to the utmost in accomplishing it, and she felt completely exhausted. She had the proud satisfaction of knowing that to a woman belonged the honors of the day.

The President arrived on the third of August, and we met at the Lapier House, where we counted the money. The package proved to contain thirty-nine thousand five hundred and fifteen dollars-within four hundred and eighty-five dollars of the amount last stolen.

The officers of the Adams Express Company were much pleased at my success, and perfectly satisfied with everything. The money had been recovered, and the case had come to a stand-still.

I held a consultation with the President and Vice-President, and asked them if they had any further orders for me. The President said I had better finish the operation, and not give up until Maroney had been convicted and placed in the Penitentiary. I had done them invaluable service so far, but it still remained to "cap the climax" by bringing the guilty party to justice. This I assured him would soon be accomplished, and I left to give the necessary orders to my detectives.

I told Madam Imbert to return to Jenkintown, and ordered Rivers and Miss Johnson also to remain as before.

The Vice-President also told De Forest to remain in Jenkintown for the present. Green was to continue in Philadelphia. Roch, who had been sent back to Montgomery, was to await orders there, as was also Porter. White was to attend to Maroney, while Bangs was to continue in Philadelphia in charge of all.

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