The Project Gutenberg EBook of Bidwell's Travels, from Wall Street to
London Prison, by Austin Biron Bidwell

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Title: Bidwell's Travels, from Wall Street to London Prison
       Fifteen Years in Solitude

Author: Austin Biron Bidwell

Release Date: March 2, 2008 [EBook #24739]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Afra Ullah and the Online Distributed
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Transcriber's Note:
Page 457 has missing text. It is shown in the text with a mouse-hover popup.



Wall Street

To London Prison

Fifteen Years in Solitude.




490 Pages. 80 Graphic Illustrations.


Editorial New York Herald.

Referring to a Whole Page.

"If an American dramatist or novelist had taken for the ground work of a play or work of fiction the story of the Bidwell family to-day related on another page of the Herald, all European critics would have told him that the story was too 'American,' too vast in its outlines, too high in its colors, too merely 'big' in fact.

"The story has its lesson. The play is not a mere spectacle. The lesson is that in the doing and undoing of wrong the Bidwell family expended enough ability and energy to stock a good many reigning European families for generations.

"Let the Comedie Humaine write itself and it will outwrite Balzac."

Hon. Lyman J. Gage.

Having read the Bidwell book I believe it will benefit every one to read this marvellous history of human experience.

Aside from its dramatic interest there are great moral lessons involved of especial value to young men and employees in positions of trust.

Therefore, I recommend this book as unique and a valuable acquisition for home and office.

From Chas. M. Stead, Union League Club, New York.

"Dear Sir—I read your book with a good deal of interest, and would like to change it for a higher-priced binding if you have one."

The Worcester Spy.

"Mr. Bidwell's book has been compared with Dumas' famous 'Monte Christo.' The extraordinary character of its adventures, indeed, would render it dramatic and powerful as fiction; as human truth, it is simply overwhelming. No one can read this book unmoved. From every conceivable standpoint, physiological, sociological, and literary, it is a marvel."

Philip W. Moen.

Mr. Moen, of Washburn & Moen, Worcester, Mass., writes: "I have read Mr. George Bidwell's book with the deepest interest. It is a book that deserves to be widely read, and I am very glad to recommend it."

A Niece of Oliver Wendell Holmes

writes: "Few books have so stirred my mind for years as the book by George Bidwell. Hearing of the book, prejudice immediately seized me against it. The history given by himself, to be interesting at all must be sensational, therefore disastrous to morals. So avowed prejudiced thought; and, determined to find fault, I began this remarkable history. It is impossible to find fault with the book, which is valuable and wonderfully absorbing."

From Ira D. Sankey, Esq.

"Mr. George Bidwell, Dear Sir—I have read with great interest your book, and believe it will do much good among young men wherever read. Your life is a proof and your book a burning record of the truth that 'Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.' I believe in throwing light into all the dark places of this life, that men, seeing the dangers, they may avoid them. I wish you success."

From Hon. Robert G. Ingersoll.

"George Bidwell, Esq.:

My Dear Sir—Knowing as I do that you will tell a candid story of your career, I believe you will do good. Crime springs mostly from a lack of intelligence and imagination. Only the foolish can think that the practice of vice is the road to joy. As a matter of fact, the wrong does not pay. You have, in your remarkable book, made this fact perfectly clear, and you will enforce this great truth on the platform. In the world of crime success is failure. Good luck to you."

Rev. Dr. Edward Beecher

writes; "I recommend this book to the friends of morality."

Office of Street's Insurance Agency, Hartford, Conn.

"Mr. George Bidwell, Dear Sir—A clergyman consulted with me regarding his son, who had fallen into bad associations, taken part in many small thefts, and seemed hardened against shame or dread of exposure. I believe the mean, dangerous boy has become a man by reading your book." Yours very truly,

F.F. Street, Hartford, Conn.

Hartford Daily Times.

"This autobiography is a story of thrilling interest."


Brooklyn Public Schools in the Sixties—Old. No. 13—Parents Suited to the Golden Age—A Curious Preparation for the Battle of Life—Knew that Brutus Slew Caesar—George the Third Was a Bad Fellow Who Got a Tea Kettle Thrown at His Head In Boston Harbor—My Model Home Library—An Innocent Leaves Home. 19
In a Broker's Office—A Nice Old Gentleman—Situation in Wall Street—An Up-to-Date Young Man—Visions of Wealth—Speculations—Wall Street in the Sixties—The Hon. John Morrissey, ex-Pugilist—His Famous Gambling House—I Try a Game of Faro—Midnight Banquets—I Have Entered the Primrose Way. 24
Pleasure Before Business—Result of That Method—On Financial Rocks—James, Otherwise "Jimmy," Irving—He Was a Model Chief of Detectives—Police Headquarters, 300 Mulberry Street, in the Early Seventies—He Takes Me for a Drive out Harlem Lane—A Trio of Detectives—They Make a Startling Proposition—A $10,000 Temptation—Mental Conflicts—I Dare Not Be Poor—C'est le Premier Pas Qui Coute. 28
History of the Famous Lord Bond Steal—"On the Office"—Three Sneaks Stumble on a Fortune—A $1,250,000 Tin Box—Dazed Crooks—What to Do with Their White Elephant—Excitement at Police Headquarters—Bullard et al.—A Violin Virtuoso—Superintendent of Police Kelso Presents a $500 Silver Punch Bowl to the Daughter of Boss Tweed—Paid for with Stolen Cash. 36
Police Protectors—New York Gangs—Irving & Co. Give Me $80,000 Lord Bonds to Sell Abroad—A Midnight Farewell—Alone on the Sea—When Jim Fisk Owned Our Judges—Chief Irving Plans a Famous Bank Robbery—His Three Burglar Confederates. 48
The Bank Looted—Irving Notified by Bank Officials—His Feigned Surprise—Hunts the Burglars, but Divides the Plunder at His Own House—Count Shinburne and His Palace on the Rhine—Twenty Years Later. 58
I Arrive in Paris—Field of Waterloo—Meet the Antwerp Chief of Police—He Is on Trail—A Dutch Van Tromp and the Countess Winzerode—His Dream of Bliss and Tragic Death—My Negotiations in Frankfurt-on-the-Main. 65
Marpurgo & Weisweller, Bankers—Francoise Blanc, the Gambler King—His Casinos at Monte Carlo, Homburg and Wiesbaden—I Meet Van Tromp's Countess—Outlived Her Beauty—Now a Hanger-on at the Rouge et Noir Tables—Takes My Advice—Marries a Rich Burgher—Becomes a Good Stepmother—Her Pious End and Epitaph. 73
I Sell the $80,000 Bonds—Reach London Safely—Drifting—Success in Crime a Failure—A Desolate Woman—Beautiful Barmaid Show—Westminster Abbey—Good Resolutions—Sail Home—Irving at the Wharf—Meet at Taylor's Hotel—The Total: "I Have Another Job for You"—A Fool's Game. 84
Edwin James, Q.C., and a Possible Lord Chancellor of England—His Extravagance—On the Border Land of Crime—He Oversteps—Disbarred—Comes to New York—Richard O'Gorman's Great Heart—The Brea Will Case—A Dark Plot—$20,000 out of Wall Street—Jay Cooke & Co. Narrowly Escape Loss of $240,000—Chief Irving in the Plot—Detective George Elder Not in Our Ring—Accidentally He Appears and Thwarts Our Plans. 94
Eastward Ho!—The James and Brea Exit—Ezra, the Shrewd Lawyer—Three Unhappy Daughters—He Marries One—Detects Forged Will—Flight of Brea to Montana—A Sunrise Surprise at Butte City—James Returns to London—Fills a Pauper's Grave Instead of a Lord Chancellor's. 114
Bordeaux, Marseilles and Lyons "Donate" $50,000—A Bad Quarter of an Hour—Eggs and Peasant Women—"Sweets to the Sweet"—A Mysterious Stranger Disappears Among the Tombs. 123
A Starry Talk—Contrast Between Mac's Philosophy and His Errand—A Financial Trip Through Germany—From Leipsic Fair to London—Return Loaded with Thalers. 132
A Drive to Hampton Court—Send $10,000 Police Tribute to New York—Discussing the Bank of England in the Throne Room at Windsor Castle—Believe It to Be a Fossil Institution—Greene, the Tailor—Introduces Me to Bank—No References Required—Joy That Ends in Sorrow. 142
Voyage to Rio Janeiro—The Lady of the Lucitania—A Swedish Colonel's Party of English Engineers—A Bibulous Chaplain—Modern Buccaneers—Scenes at Bordeaux—Crossing the Line—Father Neptune's Visit—Fun at Sea—Arrival in Rio—Maua & Co.—Our Plans. 154
Fifty Thousand Dollars on Bogus Letters of Credit—Visit to a Coffee Plantation—Slaves Dining—Dangerous Errors in Letters of Credit—A Nervous Day—An Eagle-Eyed Hebrew—"Show Me Your Letter of Credit"—Mac in a Corner—A Bold Coup—Strategy—Can We Get Out of Brazil? 160
Brazilian Law—Visit Police Headquarters—A Douceur to the Chief—In a Tight Spot—A "Doctored" Passport—A Detective on Trail. Who Ingratiates Himself into Mac's Confidence—Manoeuvres—The Detective on a "Wild Goose Chase"—Safely on Board—A Distinguished Party in a Rowboat—A Stern Chase—Off at Last. 173
Rio to Buenos Ayres—Return and Meet Mac in Paris—Determine to Abandon a Dangerous Business—Vienna—Watching the Game—Must Have More Money—Good Resolutions Vanish—Return to London—Determine to Assault the Bank of England—Deposit $67,000. 186
Bank of England Requires No References—Letter from Paris—A Gilded American Young Man—Duped into Marriage with a Parisienne Möndaine—A Ghost at Monte Carlo—In a Greenwood Mausoleum—Earthly Happiness and the World to Come. 193
A Council of War—Description of Bills of Exchange—Frederick Albert Warren, the Great American Railway Contractor—The Great Bank Proves Fallible—Discounts Bogus Bills of Exchange. 200
Draw Fabulous Sums—Bags of Sovereigns by the Cab Load—In a French Railway Wreck—Baron Alfonse de Rothschild, Head of the Paris House—A Famous £6,000 Draft. 206
Last Call at the Bank of England—Noyes Arrives in London—An Artful Plot—Introduce Noyes—Plan Now Complete—Our Wise Forefathers—No Change in a Century—Our Paper Is Discounted—Prepare for Flight—Thou Shalt Not. 214
Fifty Thousand Dollars a Day—The Golden Shower Continues to Fall—Operations Shrouded in Midnight Darkness—No Possibility of Discovery—Finish and Begin Again—Amazing Oversight—Pitcher Goes Once Too Often—Noyes Arrested—Unparalleled Excitement on the Stock Exchange. 224
Consternation—A Mob of Bankers—The Financial World Shaken—Noyes Taken to Newgate—Mac Cables Irving—His Flight to France—Sails from Havre on Board Thuringia—Arrested at Quarantine—The Pinkertons on Trail. 236
Hunted Through Ireland—$2,500 Reward for My Capture—Detectives "Spot" Me at the Cork Railway Station—Obliged to Abandon Taking Passage by the Ill-Fated Atlantic—A Game of "Hare and Hounds"—Eluding a Detective "Trap"—English Misrule in Ireland—Am Taken for a Priest—A Typographical Thunderbolt at Lismore—An Early Morning Walk—A Ride on an Irish Jaunting Car—"On the Road to Clonmel"—Shelter in a "Shebeen"—How Thirsty Souls Get the "Craythur" In Ireland—A Good Old Irish Lady—Pursuit and Refuge in a Ruined Cottage at Cahir. 248
An Unceremonious Call—"I am a Fenian Leader"—A "Story" Told in the Dark—Maloy Helps My Escape on an Irish Jaunting Car—Eggs—A Policeman Anxious to Obtain the Five Hundred Pounds Reward—Dublin Again—A Jewess' Blessing—I Turn Russian, and Later Become a Frenchman—Belfast Detectives—Escape into Scotland—The Other Side of the Story—A Bow Street Detective's Adventures While Hunting Me Through Ireland—Cross-Questioning—My Jaunting Car Driver—"A Cold Water Cure"—Hot on the Trail—Not in the Fort—A Fruitless Hunt—Many Innocents Arrested—Maloy Becomes a "Know-Nothing." 261
A Marriage at the American Embassy in Paris—Anxious Moments at Versailles—Off for Spain—Crossing the Pyrenees—Gunshots—Train off the Track—Captured by Carlist Bandits—Released—Through the Pass on Ox Carts—A Mountain Blizzard—Camp in a Snowstorm—Mutiny—A Morning Dream. 275
A Carlist Officer—A Picturesque Caravan—Arrival at Burgos—Startling Telegrams—Revolution at Madrid—The Railway Seized—My Party in a Trap—Madrid Cathedral and a Bull Fight—A Special Train Proves a Slow Train—No News Good News. 292
Arrival in Santander—Gloomy Forebodings—Sail for Cuba—Watch the Pyrenees Sink in the Sea—Two Sisters of Charity, Innocents on a Voyage—Circus at St. Thomas—Sunset Gun in Havana—Thirty Seconds Change My Destiny. 301
Slavery in Cuba—Life in Havana—The Million-Pound Forgery Discovered—My Opinion Asked—Trip to the Isle of Pines—The Cuban Rebels—A Battle Field—A Slave Cook—The Missionary and the Cannibal—Going into the Interior. 312
On the Caribbean—A Motley Cargo—Turning Turtles and Shark Fishing—A Dinner Party in Havana Proves a Surprise Party—Capt. John Curtin of the Pinkertons Appears on the Scene—Consternation Among the Diners—Offer the Captain $50,000 for Ten Minutes' Start—No—I Shoot Him—Struggle and Capture—In the Arsenal. 327
Friendly Spanish Officials—Plots to Escape—Leap for Liberty—Escape out of Havana—Travel the Beach Nights—Refuge in the Jungle Days—Construct a Raft—Food and Water Gone, but Pluck at the Fore—I Will Join the Rebels And Win Military Laurels—Man Proposes, but—— 338
Creeping Across a Bridge—Sentries Discover Me—They Challenge: "Quien Va?"—They Fire—Flight and Escape on the Raft—A Tropical Night Swim—Sharks Everywhere—Knife Between My Teeth—Regain the Shore—Nearing the Rebel Camp—The Black Soldiers Surprise and Capture Me—I Strike the Captain—He Dashes at Me with a Bayonet—Stopped by a Woman—Desperation. 355
Back in Havana—Curtin's Story—Extradited—Spain Delivers Me to England—Pinkertons Escort Me on Board Steamer—Arrival at Plymouth—Newgate at Last—When Time is Old and Hath Forgotten Himself. 372
Life in Newgate—Legal Sharks—A Pattern Solicitor—A Lame Defense—Before Lord Mayor Waterlow—Trial at the Old Bailey—Thronging Crowds—Days of Mental Torture—Jury Retires—Suspense—Guilty. 383
A Modern Jeffreys—Penal Servitude for Life—End of the Primrose Way—A Resolve—Will Fortune Ever Smile Again?—Newgate to Chatham Prison—A Cocky Little Major—You Were Sent Here to Work—In the Mud—Night and Silence. 387
Events of the First Day—Hopeless Outlook—Lack of Mental and Physical Food—A Shakespeare Won and Hope Dawns—In the Infirmary—Effects of Prolonged Imprisonment. 401
Prison Management—Warders Under Military Discipline—Their Long Hours and Small Pay—Their Character and Antecedents—English Prison System Not Reformatory—Turns Out Murderers—Prison Pets—Rats, Mice and Beetles. 404
A Genius—Strange Story of Arthur Heep—Unwise Parents—Driven from Home—Temptation and Fall—In a Lunatic Asylum—Escapes Naked in a Storm—Clothes Secured from a Scarecrow—Rearrested—Serves Five Years—To America and Return—Again Behind the Bars. 417
English Prisons Schools for Crime—Two Prison Aid Societies—United States Laws Evaded—Snug Berths for Reverend Barnacles—Contributions Go for Salaries—No Benefit to ex-Prisoners—How Discharged Prisoners Are Hustled to the United States. 426
Rev. Mr. Whiteley—How to Stop Influx of Foreign Criminals—Foster an Example—Whiteley, Secretary of Aid Society, Sends Foster to Sea—His Arrival in Chicago—Meets an Old Prison Chum—Turns Detective—Chicago Justices—Foster's Story—Human Tigers—A Plot and $20,000—A Letter and Diamond Pin—In the Toils Again. 430
A Gettysburg Veteran—In the Wethersfield, Ct., State Prison—Makes and Conceals a Set of Burglar's Tools—Liberated—Returns and Burglarizes the Prison—Boat Load of Plunder—Captured—Sixteen Years More in Prison—Then Goes to England—Gets Twenty Years—Joins Me at Chatham. 436
The Fenians at Chatham—Dr. Gallagher—McCarty, O'Brien and Others—We Become Friends—Excavating the Chatham Ship Basin—Starvation and Despair—Self-Mutilation of an Arm or Leg to Reach the Hospital—Release and Death of McCarty—Gallagher Breaks Down—Speedy Release or Death for Him. 443
Fenian Prisoners in English Prisons—McCarthy, O'Brien—A Plan Miscarried—In the Tolls—Severe Punishments—Curtin, Daly, Egan—Poor Dr. Gallagher. 447
A Dictionary and Life of the Prophet Jeremiah vs. a Shakespeare—Prison Hospital Proves a Paradise—Nature's Compensations—Reality Not So Terrible as Imagined—Human Nature Unchangeable. 453
Public Opinion Within Says the Same as Outside—A Sensible Fellow—Pluck Wins—Roses Scarce, Thorns Plenty—Woe to Mutineers for "More Bread"—Sentiment Banished—Resistance Crushed—English Judges Are Autocrats—No Appeal. 459
Hard Lines—A Boaster—A Veneered Flunkey—Billy Treacle's Aunt Dies Again—Frederic Barton and His Vain Petitions—I Give Him a Pointer—His Inherited Fortune Fake—Surreptitious Mail Route—Warders as Letter Carriers. 463
Sixteen-Thousand-Acre Tea Plantation in India and Sixty Thousand Pounds Imaginary Inheritance—Barton Becomes a Great Man—The Plot Thickens—Letters from London—Smith Discharged—Petition for Barton—Smith Presents It at Home Office—Home Secretary Swallows the Bait—Barton's Triumphant Release—His Imaginary Fortune Does Not Materialize. 466
Tantalizing the Home Secretary—Refused a Letter Sheet—Petition the Home Office for One—Sarcasm About Barton's Release on My Sub-Rosa Petition—Good Conduct Fails—Feigned Wealth Wins Freedom for Barton—Apropos Quotation from Goethe—Sir Vernon Harcourt and His Opinion—I Tread Dangerous Ground. 471
Niblo Clark—The Mysterious Three R's—His Characteristic Verses—My Tenth Anniversary at Chatham—All Efforts Fail and Fifteen Years Gone Forever—Despairing When Good News Comes—My Sister in England—George Freed—Hope Returns and Abides—George Gets James G. Blaine, J. Russell and Others to Intercede—Fresh Failures—Home Secretary Matthews Won't—George and My Sister Will—Which Will Wear the Other Out—George and Sister Win—Night and Gloom in My Cell—These Walls Have Frowned on Me for Twenty Years—Warder's Tramps on Stone Corridor Arouse Me—Door Opens—"You Are Free"—First Sight of Stars in Twenty Years—I Shout, 'Twas Like a Prayer: "God Is Good." 478


The Hon. Lyman J. Gage, Dr. Funk and hundreds of others have said that my book should be put at a price which would place it within the reach of every young man, etc.

Hitherto, it has been sold by subscription at $3.50, $5 and $10 per copy—the five editions printed having been easily sold at those prices.

Notwithstanding the thousands of friends their circulation has made, I did not care to have my family name go any further in this connection than financial needs required in working for the release of the men still undergoing life sentences in English prisons.

At last, however, certain influence causes me to let it go in the revised and improved form here presented, and may it prove as valuable and engrossing to the general public as it has to 20,000 subscribers to former editions.


[Pg 19]



We lived in South Brooklyn, near to old No. 13, the Degraw Street Public School. To that I was sent, and there got all the education I was ever fated to have at any school, except the school of life and experience.

I attended for some years, and even now I cannot recall without a smile the absurd incompetency of every one connected with the institution and their utter ignorance of the art of imparting knowledge to children.

At home I had picked up that grand art of reading, and went to school to learn the other two R's, with any trifle that I might come across floating around promiscuously.

I certainly hope our much-lauded public schools are conducted on better lines now than then; if not, they are frauds from the foundation. The instruction in No. 13 was so lax and radically bad that the whole governing body and the principal ought to have been sent to the penitentiary on the charge of false pretense for drawing their salaries and giving nothing in return. And yet I remember when examination day came, instead of the committee investigating the progress of the pupils, it usually turned into a mere hallelujah chorus upon our "grand public school system."

Here is a remarkable fact: I seldom missed a promotion and passed from grade to grade until within two years I found myself in Junior "A," the next to the highest class in[Pg 20] the school, just as ignorant as my classmates, and that is saying much.

It was all very pitiful. My blood boils even now when I think of the traitors chosen and paid to see me fully equipped and armed to begin the battle of life who left me with phantom weapons which would shiver into fragments at the first shock of conflict.

I left Junior A of old No. 13, with its algebra, logic, philosophy (heaven save the word!) and advanced grammar, unable to write a grammatical sentence. I had been taught spelling out of an expositor—a sort of pocket dictionary containing about fifteen hundred words. Most of these, with their definitions, parrotlike, I had learned to spell, but never once in all my school experience had I been taught the derivation of a single word. Indeed, I took it for granted that in the good old days Adam had invented the words much as he named the animals, and, of course, supposed that he spoke good English. The knowledge of history I gained at No. 13 was strictly limited and exceedingly primitive. I knew the Jews in the old days were a bad lot. That Brutus had slain Caesar. That the Mayflower had landed our fathers on Plymouth Rock. That wicked George III. was a tyrant, and that the boys in Boston had thrown a tea-kettle at his head. I knew all about our George and the cherry tree, and there my historical knowledge ended.

So here I was launched out in the world a model scholar! Stamped as proficient in grammar, history, logic, philosophy and arithmetic, but yet in useful knowledge a barbarian, unable to spell or even write a grammatical letter and unversed in the ways of the world—a world, too, where I would be cast entirely upon my own resources.

My home life was happy. My father had lost his grip on the world, but his faith in the Unseen remained. My mother, caring little for this life, lived in and for the spiritual. To her heaven was a place as much as the country[Pg 21] village where she was born. She was never tired of talking to us children about its golden streets and the rest there after the toils and pains of life. But, boylike, we discounted all she said, and felt we wanted some of this world before we knocked at the gates of the next.

We loved our mother, but her soul was too gentle to keep in restraint hot, fiery youths like my brothers and myself. On the whole we were good boys, and I suppose caused her no more pain than the average youngsters. Perhaps the keynote of her character can best be found in the following incident, if that which was of daily occurrence could be called an incident:

Every night of my life in those days she would come to my bed to pray over me, ever saying, as she kissed me or clasped my hand: "My son, remember if you were to pass your whole life here in poverty and hardship it would not much matter so long as you attain to the Heavenly Rest." This teaching would have been well had she only taught me some worldly wisdom with it, but that all-essential knowledge was kept from me, I being left to learn the ways of man in that terrible school of experience. The consequence being that when after some months I was launched out in life I was a ripe and apt victim to be caught in the world's huge snare. In fact, had my parents designed me to become a traveler in the Primrose Way they could not have educated me to better purpose.

Save when in the school I had never been permitted to associate with other boys, but was kept in the house, and up to my sixteenth year hardly dreamed there was evil in the world. I was told much about the "wicked," but thought that meant those who smoked tobacco or drank whisky. I hardly thought any women came under that category, but if any, then it must mean those who came around selling apples and oranges. The reader will see that when once away from the shelter of home, in threading the world's[Pg 22] devious ways, I would be crossing the roaring torrent "on the perilous footing of a spear," all but certain to fall into the flood beneath.

During my last year at school and for a long time after leaving it, my father and mother were never tired of talking about my good education. Possibly they were not very good judges, but I am confident that they, after all, did not realize the importance of a boy being well equipped in that regard. Their thoughts and minds were so bent on the other world, and things unseen bulked so hugely on their mental vision, that there was small space left for things of this earth. They, good, simple souls, were made for and ought to have lived in the Golden Age, when all men were brave and all women true, where neighborly eyes reflected the love and faith within; but in our utilitarian days they were sadly out of place, and little wonder if they had lost their way in this world.

In their intense longing for the life beyond the grave, their passionate desire to walk the streets of gold, they, by their actions, seemed to forget that we were on this earth, and that we were here with many sharp reminders of the fact.

The same guilelessness was manifested in their choice of our home reading. The books I was allowed access to in the house were "The Life of King David," "The History of Jerusalem," "Baxter's Saints' Rest," "The Immortal Dreamer's Pilgrim" and Fox's "Book of Martyrs." His first martyr is Stephen, and such was my gross ignorance of history that I always supposed Stephen had been martyred by the Church of Rome. Here was mental food for a boy who had his own way to make in the world.


Craving other mental food than "The Life of David," I used to club pennies with a chum and buy that delectable sheet, "Ned Buntline's Own," then in fear and trembling would creep to an upper room and read "The Haunted[Pg 23] House" or "The Ghost of Castle Ivy" until my hair stood on end in a sort of ecstatic horror; or the stirring adventures of "Jack the Rover" or "Pirate Chief" until my brain took fire and a mighty impulse stirred every fibre impelling me to follow in their footsteps.

I had remained idly at home for some six months after my release from school, when one night my father returned from New York and said: "My son, I have found a situation for you." That was delightful news, and when I went to bed that night I was too excited to sleep.

The future was full of color, red and purple, of course. Happily for me the future in all its black misery was hidden behind those gilded clouds.

So now at sixteen I was about to sail out of harbor, and how equipped!

Absolutely without education, void of worldly wisdom, and in my boyish brain dividing the world into two sections. In one was King David slaying the Phillistines or dancing before the Ark. In the other was Jack the Rover and the Pirate Chief. How easy to guess the rest! Yet I was not a bad boy—far from it. I only needed wise guidance and good companionship, and as the ignorance and crudity of my character dropped off, the innate virtue—mine by lawful heritage—would have been developed. But pitchforked into the wild whirl of Wall street and its fast set of gilded youth, the gates of the Primrose Way to destruction were held wide open to my eager feet.[Pg 24]



The situation my father had obtained for me was with a sugar broker by the name of Waterbury. He was a partner in a large refinery, his office being in South Water street. He was a nice, conservative old man, and let things run on easily. His chief clerk, Mr. Ambler, was every inch a gentleman, who, quickly perceiving what an ignoramus I was, out of the goodness of his heart resolved to teach me something.

There were two sharp young men in our office. They liked me well enough, but used to guy me unmercifully for my simplicity and clumsiness. One of them, Harry by name, was something of a scapegrace, and soon acquired quite a power over me. I stood in much fear of his ridicule, and frequently did things for which my conscience reproached me, rather than stand the fire of his raillery. The greatest harm he did me was in firing my imagination with stories of Wall street, of the fortunes that were and could be made in the gold room or on 'Change. He made tolerably clear the modus operandi of speculators, and I secretly resolved that some day I, too, would try my fortune.

My friend Mr. Ambler's health was bad, and frequent attacks of illness caused him to be away from the office for weeks at a time, and that meant much loss to me. When I had been there about a year, he resigned his position and went as manager for a factory in New Haven. But before[Pg 25] leaving he interested himself so far in my welfare as to secure me a position with a firm of brokers in New street, at a salary of $10 a week. My employers were good fellows, lovers of pleasure and men of the world, not scrupling to talk freely with me of their various adventures out of business hours. I had lost much of my awkwardness and gauche manners, and under the $10 a week arrangement began to dress fairly well. My employers did a brokerage business and speculated as well on their own account. My duties were decidedly light and pleasant, and brought me into contact with some of the sharpest as well as the most famous men in the street. Among them was a brilliant young man of my own age, who took a great fancy to me, and frequently proposed that we should start for ourselves. Being doubtful of my powers, I shrank from risking my scanty funds in any speculative venture. Much to my mother's concern, I had begun attending the theatre, and one night, on my friend Ed Weed's invitation, I went with him to Niblo's. After the performance we went to supper at Delmonico's, and I was perfectly fascinated by the company and surroundings, going home long past midnight a different man than I had last left it.

The next day Ed came to the office and invited me to lunch, where, after making some disparaging remarks about the country cut of my garments, he offered to introduce me to his tailor, who was never in a hurry for his money. After business that day we walked uptown together, and, prompted by Ed, I ordered $150 worth of garments, then went to his outfitter and ordered nearly an equal amount in shirts, ties, gloves, etc.

One amusing result was that when, a few days later, I walked down to our office, comme il faut in garb, my employers raised my salary to $30 a week, but this left me poorer than when I had husbanded my poor little $10. Soon after, piloted by Ed, I ventured $50 on a margin in[Pg 26] gold. Unluckily, I won, invested again and again, and within fourteen days was $284 ahead. I paid my tailor and outfitter's bill, bought a $100 watch on credit, and gave a wine supper on borrowed money. Soon after this I went to board at the old St. Nicholas, the then fashionable hotel. From that time I began to drift more and more away from home influences.

Soon after the wine supper episode I threw up my position, and Ed and I started on our own account under the name of E. Weed & Co. My partner's parents were wealthy, and his father had been well known in the street, which fact gave us standing.

The years I speak of were fortunate ones for Wall street, stocks of every kind on the boom, the general wealth of the country massing up by leaps and bounds, and every kind of speculative enterprise being launched. Our firm history was the usual one of broker firms in that tumultuous arena—the Wall street of those days—commissions in plenty, a large income, but one's bank account never growing, for what was made by day in the wild excitement of shifting values was thrown away amid wilder scenes at night. Those, too, were, indeed, the flush times for the professional gambler; for men were not content unless they burned the candle at both ends. Day faro banks were open everywhere around the Exchange, and enormous sums were nightly staked in the uptown games. These were everywhere—all protected, and the proprietors invested their money for rent, fixtures, etc., with as much confidence, and kept their doors open as freely, as if embarked in a legitimate speculation. Hundreds who spent the business hours of the day in the mad excitement of the Exchange flocked around the green cloth at night, devoting the same intensity of thought and brain to the turning of a card which earlier in the day they had given to the market reports of the world. Small wonder that death cut such wide[Pg 27] swaths in the army of brokers. Statistics show that it was more fatal to belong to that army than to an army in the field.

Ed loved to have me with him, and I used to accompany him to a game, then quite famous, run by John Morrissey, who later became a member of Congress. At this time I never ventured a single bet, and did not like to visit the place. But Ed would beg me to go, and always promised faithfully not to remain more than twenty minutes. Of course, his twenty minutes would lengthen into hours. Frequently I would take a chair into a corner and go to sleep until he left the game, that being almost any hour between midnight and morning. As usual, in such places, an elegant supper was served free at midnight. The proprietor was always rather attentive to me, and, to give him the credit due, seemed anxious that I should not play. At supper he always reserved the chair next to himself for me. One night while standing beside the roulette wheel, no one was playing, and the dealer was idly whirling the ball, a sudden impulse seized me, and the ball then rolling, I pulled a $20 bill from my pocket and threw it down on the red remarking, "I'll lose that to pay for my suppers." Unhappily I won, and, laughing, turned to the dealer and said: "Here, give me my money. I am done," and a moment later went out with my friend, fully determined never more to gamble. But, being in there the next night, I, of course, ventured again. Again I was so unfortunate as to win, and within a short time staked and lost or won nightly. But something worse than gambling was ahead of me, just at the very door.[Pg 28]



We had latterly somewhat neglected business—our real business being at night, when we made the pursuit of pleasure hard work. Soon the finances of our firm not only ran low, but were on three several occasions exhausted, so that we not only had recourse to borrowing, but were barely saved from bankruptcy by liberal donations from Ed's parents. His father was a fine, jolly old gentleman, and took it quite a matter of course that it was his duty to help us off the rocks when we ran on them. My partner took everything easy, but I, having no indulgent parent behind me ever ready to draw a check, began to be uneasy over the financial situation. Strangely enough, however, it never occurred to me to cut down my personal expenses, and I continued living at the same extravagant rate as when money was plenty—dining and wining and being dined and wined. Just here an important character, one destined to have an influence for evil on my future life, came upon the scene, and I will halt for a moment in my narrative to give some account of him.

This man was James Irving, popularly known as Jimmy Irving, chief of the New York Detective Force, and a bad-hearted, worthless scamp he was. I was with several friends in the Fifth Avenue Hotel one cold January night when he came in, and one of our party, knowing him, introduced us. He was a man of medium height, rather heavy set, blond[Pg 29] mustache, pleasant eyes, but with a weak mouth and chin, and a flushed face, telling a tale of dissipation. It was when Boss Tweed ruled supreme in New York and the whole administration was honeycombed with corruption. Except under similar political conditions could such a man attain to so responsible an office in a great city as that of chief of the detective force—a position which at that time invested him with all but autocratic power. An old rounder and barroom loafer, without one attribute of true manliness and not possessed of any quality which would point him out as a fit man for the place. Nevertheless, when the position became vacant his political pull caused his selection. From being a mere detective on the staff he became chief. And truly this meant something in those days. The great civil war had but lately ended, and the country was still reeling from the mighty conflict. The flush times, resultant from the enormous money issue of the Government, kept everything booming. The foundations of society were shaken and vice no longer hid itself in the dark caves and dens of the great city. The Tenderloin, with its multifarious and widereaching influence for evil, was then created, and the police of the city reaped a royal revenue from its thousand dens of vice for their protection. To be captain of the Tenderloin precinct meant an extra weekly income of $1,000 at least. He had the lion's share; about an equal amount went to Headquarters, to be divided between the Chief of Police and the gang, Irving being one of the half dozen who had pull enough to get in the ring. The Tenderloin lieutenant, roundsman and sergeant came in for about $100, $50 and $25 a week, while the common patrolman got what blackmail he could on his own account from the unhappy women of the street. These were considered lawful game, and woe betide the poor unfortunate who refused to pay the tax. Too well she found it meant a violent arrest, accompanied with brutal treatment, a night in a filthy cell,[Pg 30] and then to be dragged before the magistrate, who was some ward heeler, hand in glove with the police. The form of a trial and a speedy "six months on the island" from the lips of the judge followed.

From Spring street to Tenth, Broadway was full of night games—faro—each and all paying large sums for protection. This money, however, did not all go to Police Headquarters, there being a host of parasites aside from the police. The shoulder-hitter politicians, each with his pull, and each having a claim to his percentage. Most of the Broadway games were known as square games, but then there was the host of skin games in the Bowery, Chatham square, Houston, Prince and other streets. The Eighth Ward and all Broadway were considered the lawful happy hunting grounds for Headquarters detectives, and this by long prescription. Outside of that they had no claim save only to a percentage from the Tenderloin. But the protection money paid by the swindling games around Chatham square, Bayard street, and the whole length of the Bowery, by a sort of sacred prescription, belonged to the captains of those precincts, save only that part absorbed by the politicians of the district who had a pull. These usually were the Aldermen and Councilmen with their henchmen.


But to return to my friend, Capt. Jim Irving, who, before our party separated, had opened three bottles of wine. Before leaving I had asked him to call on me at the St. Nicholas. The next day he came and invited me to take a drive with him to Fordham the following Sunday. On Sunday he appeared behind a fast trotting horse, and in every respect an elegant turnout. During our drive he casually remarked that he had paid a thousand dollars for the rig, and as his pay was some two thousand dollars per annum I easily figured that his rig and diamond pin had cost him about a year's salary. It was a lovely morning, not cold, but bracing, just the day for a ride. We started for[Pg 31] Fordham, but changed our minds and drove to the High Bridge, through Harlem lane, and well out into Westchester County. Returning, we stopped at O'Brien's Hotel for dinner. We fared sumptuously the whole day through, our dinner being particularly fine, my companion paying for everything, and really it was all highly enjoyable. He had a vast fund of anecdote, and many strange stories of city life and adventure, which naturally would be expected from one in his position. Many of those we passed or met during the day were personally known to him, and some, both women as well as men, who were then clothed in purple and fine linen, had histories, and many had at some period of their lives looked on life from the seamy side, having passed through strange vicissitudes.

Soon after dark we returned to my hotel, and after dinner, lighting our cigars, we started for Police Headquarters. There he attended to some routine business, having introduced me to two of his chief detectives. Many who read this will recognize the men, but in this narrative they will be known as Stanley and White. I will not further describe them now; as they will appear in the story from time to time, the reader will be able to judge what manner of men they were.

For the next eight weeks my life went on much the same as usual. In our business we made some money, but by one unfortunate investment lost our entire capital, and what proved worse for me, my partner's health began to fail. Dissipation, late and heavy dinners and irregular hours began to break a not over-strong constitution; consequently one Saturday he abruptly announced his intention of withdrawing from the partnership to take a trip to Europe. There was nothing to divide save the furniture in our office, which he presented to me. The following Wednesday he sailed with two members of his family. I saw him off, bidding him what proved to be a last fare[Pg 32]well. I left the wharf feeling very lonely and miserable. It may be well to remark here that he died a year later in Italy, one more victim of a fast life, while I was spared, but took no warning from his fate. In truth, I was in the Primrose Way, which is ever found a most tormenting and unhappy thoroughfare.

How I grieved all through the twenty years of captivity that I had not had the moral courage to start afresh upon a basis of truth, sobriety and honorable endeavor.

Instead of cutting down my expenses, I rather became more extravagant, fearing my companions would suspect I was pressed for money. How much more manly had I called them together and told them we must part company.

Meeting Irving from time to time, he was most flattering in his attentions, while I was young enough and silly enough to be pleased with his notice. One evening about this time I met him while coming out of Wallack's Theatre. Shaking hands warmly, he invited me to supper at what was then known as upper Delmonico's. After supper, walking to the St. Denis Hotel at Broadway and 11th street, we found Detectives Stanley and White. Here wine was ordered, and long after midnight we parted, they first having exacted a promise to dine with them the following night at Delmonico's, at the same time stating that they wished to make me a business proposition.

The next evening White came in and said we would dine at a restaurant at Sixth avenue and 31st street, instead of at Delmonico's; then he left me, upon my promise to be on hand.

At eleven I arrived, and entering the restaurant was at once recognized by a waiter, evidently on the lookout, and ushered into a private room upstairs. Only White had arrived, but soon Irving and Stanley came, and supper was ordered. With such gentry as these wine is always in order. Then they became confidential, and the conversation turned[Pg 33] to the subject of making money. Very skillfully they extracted the confession that I had none. When excited by the talk and the wine I cried out, "By heaven, I want money!" Stanley grasped my hand and said: "Of course you do; a man's a fool without it." Irving interjected: "Are you game to do us a favor and make ten thousand for yourself?" "But how?" I gasped. "Go to Europe and negotiate some stolen bonds we have, will you?"

For $10,000 to become accessory to a crime!

It was an appalling proposition, and I shrank from it with an aversion I could not conceal any more than he and his confederates could conceal their chagrin over the way I took it, and over the fact that their secret had been imparted to another. More wine was ordered, and before we parted I had promised not only secrecy, but, worse still, I had also promised to consider the proposition and give my answer the following night.

As my evil genus would have it, that very morning I had a visit in my office from the agent of my landlord, requesting arrears of rent, and from a tradesman whom I was owing, demanding immediate payment of an overdue bill.

Pressed for money as I was, the $10,000 seemed a large sum and offered an easy way out of my difficulties. I shall never forget that day nor how its slow minutes dragged during the mental struggle. Time after time I said: "What could I not do with $10,000?" How vast the possibilities before me with that sum at my command! Then, after all, had not the owner of these bonds lost them forever, and why should not I have a share instead of letting these villain detectives keep all? And through all I kept saying to myself: "This, of course, is only speculation. I will never do this thing."

At last the stars came out, and I started for a long walk alone up Broadway to Fifth avenue and into the Park. Since that Park was formed few men have ever passed its walks[Pg 34] in whose bosoms raged such a tumult as in mine. I was young, in love with pleasure, and poverty seemed a fearful thing. I kept saying; "I cannot do this thing!" and then I would add: "How am I to keep up appearances, and how am I to pay my debts?" Unhappily, I had taken an enemy into the citadel. In the misery of the struggle I drank heavily.

In my excitement I exaggerated my poverty until it seemed impersonated and assumed the guise of an enemy threatening to enslave me. From 8 o'clock to 11 I paced that mall, and then left it to keep my appointment with Irving & Co., with one thought surging through my brain, and that was that I dared not be poor, the result being that before we parted, to their renewed question: "Will you do this for us?" "Of course I will!" I cried, and my feet had slipped a good many steps further down the Primrose Way to death.


[Pg 35]


[Pg 36]

[Pg 37]



The present generation has become tolerably familiar with defalcations and robberies involving enormous sums. Previous to 1861 they were comparatively unknown, the reason being that the currency of the country was strictly limited. There were absolutely no Government bonds or currency, while the few bonds issued by corporations were not usually made payable to bearer, and, therefore, were not negotiable, and were of no use to the robber. But in 1861, to meet the expenses of the war, the State banks were taxed out of existence and our present national currency system came into being. In addition to the enormous issue of greenbacks, bonds payable to bearer, amounting to hundreds of millions, were issued by the general Government, by the individual States, counties, towns and cities, all becoming popular investments. Patriotism, and profit as well, led banks, corporations and individuals all over the world to invest surplus funds in bonds, those of the Government being most popular of all. The various issues authorized by act of Congress were known as "seven-thirties," "ten-forties," "five-twenties," etc., these terms denoting either the rate of interest or the period of years, dating from the first issue, wherein it was optional with the Government to redeem them. Everywhere, at home, in the theatres and public resorts not less than on the Exchange, were heard animated discussions about "seven-thirties" and[Pg 38] "ten-forties." The business of the express companies of the United States took a new phase, and for the first time in their history they began to be the carriers of vast sums from city to city.

Then it was that those gentlemen who work without the pale of the law discovered new prospects of wealth, and realized that even to crack a safe or vault of a private firm would be rewarded by a find of bonds that might amply repay all risks of robbery under police protection, while to execute a successful raid on a car or even an express delivery wagon on the street would mean wealth. To burglarize the vaults of a bank meant, if undetected, anything from opening a magnificent bar or hotel in New York to a steam yacht and Winter cruises in the tropics and Summer nights on the Mediterranean.

The first coup in this line, which at once became famous, was startling in its ease and magnitude. It was known, and still is, as "The Lord Bond Robbery." Lord was a very wealthy man, who had inherited his millions. His office was in Broad street, where he managed his estates. He had invested $1,200,000 in seven-thirty bonds, all payable to bearer. For the thief, if he had any knowledge of finance, and knew how to negotiate them, such a sum as this in bonds was better than the same amount in gold, it being more portable. One million two hundred thousand dollars in gold would weigh upward of a ton, and would be difficult to handle, but that sum in bonds would hardly fill a carpet-sack. In our day, with safety deposit vaults everywhere, it seems strange that any sane man would keep so vast a sum in an old-fashioned vault in his private office, but Lord did so. His office was a very quiet one, with but few visitors, there being no business transacted in it but that of his estate.


At this time there were three or four gangs in New York, all well known and friendly with the police—that is, some or[Pg 39] all were more or less under "protection," and had pulls at Police Headquarters. But the pull could not be depended upon at all times, particularly if the robbery made a noise and the press took it up. Then there would be violent kicks at Headquarters, and a general all-around scramble to get the thieves, and so far as safe, stick to more or less of the plunder. The gang that got Mr. Lord's bonds was what in police and thieves' slang was known as "On the Office," so named because they went around visiting offices in the business part of the city, one of the gang going in on pretense of making some inquiry and so engaging the attention of one of the clerks. Then the second member would come in and endeavor to attract the attention of any remaining clerks, while the third would try to get in without attracting attention, and, if unnoticed by those now busy talking, would slip around behind the counter to the money drawer or vault and carry off any cash box or package visible which appeared to be of value. This gang consisted of three men, Hod Ennis, Charley Rose and a man by the name of Bullard, afterward made notorious by engineering the Boylston Bank robbery in Boston.

In the absence of Lord the office was under charge of two men, old-fashioned fellows, who had grown gray in the service of the Lord estate. The bonds were all in a tin box something larger than a soap box. The interest on the bonds being due, the box had been taken out in order to cut off the coupons, and was left in the door of the open vault. None of these circumstances was known to these men; in fact, while "looking for chances," they stumbled on the prize. The night previous they had spent at a well-known faro game and had lost their last dollar. At 9 o'clock in the morning they met at a saloon on Prince street, where none but crooks consorted, and, borrowing a dollar from the barkeeper, they took a South Ferry stage and started downtown on one of many similar piratical ex[Pg 40]peditions. Of course, each paid his own fare, as from the moment of starting until their return they appeared to be strangers. Alighting at the ferry, they started up Front street, Rose in lead, he being pilot-fish. From Front they turned into Broad, and up Broad to No. 22, where there were a number of offices. Rose mounted the staircase, it now being five minutes to 10, Bullard coming close behind. Rose entered the first office to the left at the head of the stairs, which was Lord's, and at once inquired by name for a member of a well-known firm located a few doors down across the street. Lord was away. The clerk, in his desire to serve the gentleman, went to the front windows to point out the location of the firm. Bullard, who had lingered in the hall, entered, leaving the office door open behind him, and at once engaged the attention of the remaining clerk with a letter. Ennis, seeing the coast clear, slipped in, went softly to the vault, and perceiving the tin box, seized and carried it out, unseen by all save his companions. They, seeing him safely off, found a quick pretext to follow without any suspicion arising in the minds of the clerks. As a matter of fact, they did not miss the box for nearly an hour.

Ennis carried it to Peck Slip, closely followed by his chums, and there the three boarded a Second avenue car, all unsuspecting as to what a prize they had. At the corner of the Bowery and Bayard street they got out and entered that old red brick hotel on the corner—I forget the name. They were acquainted and occasionally rendezvoused there, hiring and paying for the room. They speedily opened the box, and were amazed to find it packed full of bonds—five hundreds, thousands, five-thousands, all payable to bearer. The very magnitude of their plunder terrified them, and, knowing as much as I do about such men, I am free to affirm that if a buyer of stolen property had appeared on the scene and said: "Here, I'll give you $10,000 apiece," they[Pg 41] would have closed the deal at once and turned over the bonds, glad to get them off their hands. What they did was this: Rose went out and bought a second-hand carpet bag and put the bonds into it, save sixty five-hundreds, which they divided, and Bullard resolved to leave the bag with a friend of his. This friend, strangely enough, was the widow of a policeman and sister of two others. But she knew nothing of Bullard's character, believing him to be a workingman. Ennis and Rose were two ignorant fellows, without the remotest idea of how to negotiate bonds, but Bullard had, and, realizing how important it was to get some cash before the thing was noised around, he started out to sell some, agreeing to meet Rose and Ennis at No. 100 Third avenue, a large beer saloon then, as now.

Going to different brokers' offices, he disposed of ten for $5,000 without any difficulty, and stopped at that. He met his two friends and divided the $5,000 with them. Then, as a natural consequence with that class of men, all got drunk, and before the next morning had spent, loaned or gambled away every dollar of the $5,000.

I remember perfectly the tremendous sensation created when a rumor of the robbery spread in Wall street and over the city, and what mystified and intensified the matter was the fact that no complaint had been made to the police. When Mr. Lord was interviewed by them and by reporters he would not admit that he had been robbed, and said if he had been he would prefer to lose the money rather than have a fuss made about the affair.

This was really the first of many great bond robberies, and it struck the popular fancy; but if it stirred Wall street greatly, who shall describe the frenzy of excitement that broke out at 300 Mulberry street—Police Headquarters—when the first vague rumors of a gigantic robbery were fully confirmed, and it became known that Hod Ennis and his gang had a million and more of plunder?[Pg 42]

All rings and pulls and gangs were smashed, combined and recombined again, while each and all were in an agony of fear lest the booty should be returned to the owner—minus a percentage divided between the gang and the ring, or sold to some clever fence, who would plant them away safely and sell them in Europe from time to time, keeping all for himself and they to have no share. What visions of diamond pins, of eight or twelve carats, all Brazilian stones; of swift, high-stepping horses; of the heaven of Harlem lane on Sunday afternoons, with a bottle or two under the vest, haunted the sleep of all the detective force. I say the police knew Hod Ennis and his gang had stolen the bonds, for in those days there was not a gang of confidence men, card sharpers, bank burglars, counterfeiters or forgers traveling the country but that the gang and every member of it was well known to the Police Department of each of our large cities. Whenever a job was done a score of detectives all over the country could say such and such a gang did the job, and they were almost always right.

Whether there was "something in" for the force to arrest and convict or not, as a matter of fact the thieves were sooner or later hocus-pocussed out of their share, either by the police, by some untrustworthy fence, or by some lawyer who was pitched upon to work back the securities on a percentage. In case the thief succeeded in saving part of the proceeds he immediately lost it at faro or in revelry, and then risked his liberty for more.

I know two men who to-day walk the streets of New York, the types of conservative respectability, members of many fashionable clubs, who, in the sixties, were known as fences, and were always ready to invest cash for stolen bonds. Both of these men compromised with their conscience by beating down the price and giving the thieves but a moiety of their value. Both of them have their fads; one is a connoisseur in violins, the other has a penchant[Pg 43] for orchids, and has much local fame for the rarities in his collection.

Before midnight of the day of the robbery it became known to the force and many of the hangers-on of the gambling saloons and barrooms of the Eighth Ward that Hod Ennis and his gang had money, and it was surmised that it must be from the Lord business. In the mean time Bullard took the bag of bonds up to Norwalk, Ct., and placed them for safe-keeping with a trusty friend, first taking out one hundred bonds of five hundred each and fifty of one thousand each, and, returning to the city, divided them with his comrades. During his absence the photographs of the three men had been shown at Police Headquarters to the two clerks, but they were unable to identify them.

Within the next few days the $100,000 in bonds were completely dissipated; some were sold to buyers of stolen goods for a percentage of the value, some were lost at the gambling games—mostly at Morrissey's, or at Mike Murray's on Broadway, near Spring street, and probably some went Mulberry street way. Matters were thickening, and, fearing arrest, Ennis fled to Canada, Bullard to Europe and Rose went West to California. Eventually Ennis was convicted of a crime committed some time before. He was sentenced to a long imprisonment, and came out an old, broken-down man, without a dollar and without a friend. Rose was sentenced to five years for another crime, and then disappeared. Bullard settled down in Paris. He afterward returned and planned the Boylston Bank affair in Boston. With his share of the plunder he went back to Paris and opened an American bar at the Grand Hotel and flourished for some years; but, wanting money, he committed a robbery in Belgium, was arrested, and is now serving a long sentence for the same; no doubt, if he survives, he will emerge friendless, penniless, a stranger in a strange world.[Pg 44]

If I were inclined to indulge in reminiscences, what a catalogue could be given of men who had, like myself, drifted into the Primrose Way, and all, or nearly all, have paid a terrible penalty for their wrongdoing—none more terrible than myself. As for our violin virtuoso, he seems to have conquered fate. So, too, with the connoisseur in orchids; but let us wait until the end before we say all is well with them.

Some time later on, meeting one of these detectives, now dead, who then ranked as the best in New York, in the confidence of the bankers, he said: "I am getting old and am now working for reputation, and consequently am not taking any more percentages. Of course, I don't molest any of my old friends, but those who are not under protection I run in and send them up the river (Sing Sing) as fast as I get them to rights."

This need not be considered a condemnation of all detectives, for there were, even in my time, a few honest ones of the Pinkerton and John Curtin class—the latter being now one of San Francisco's most reliable, who, by unusually considerate judgment, has made honorable citizens of a very large number of clerks whom he had been called upon to detect and arrest. This he accomplished by extracting a confession in writing, filing it among his secret papers, then saying to the trembling clerk: "I shall have you reinstated in your position, but if you go wrong again this confession will be made public."

The following incident will further enlighten the reader as to the way things were done in those good old days:

When Boss Tweed was in the full zenith of his power and glory and of the wealth so easily acquired by certain methods, his daughter was married. All of the then chiefs and district officers of Tammany, city officials, judges and heads of departments vied with each other in the presentation of wedding gifts, among which was a check for $100,000 from the[Pg 45] father. Seldom has any bride received a more magnificent tribute, for, coming from such sources, they were nothing less than a tribute. Especially was this the case with one much-admired gift which was contributed by us just after an illicit operation of $40,000 in Wall street, $4,000 of which was paid to Irving.

In the column list of wedding gifts in the next morning's papers was: "One solid silver punch bowl, value $500, presented by Superintendent Kelso." Shortly after paying Irving the $4,000 percentage we met him one evening at the St. Cloud Hotel. Mentioning the approaching Tweed marriage, he suggested that it would be the thing, and make us more solid with the Superintendent of Police, for us to make a fine present to "the old man," one that he could use as a gift to the bride. As $500 was not much to our party in those days, we assented, and handed over that amount.

Tiffany's was then located down Broadway, and among other things on exhibition in the window was a large, handsome silver punch bowl. This was purchased with our money, which was known to have been obtained by forgery, and presented to Superintendent Kelso. A few days later the bowl reappeared in the window of Tiffany's thus inscribed:


Presented by


Superintendent of Police.

"May loyalty and love know no end."

[Pg 46]



What a look of relief and triumph swept over the faces of Irving, Stanley and White when I gave my consent to their proposal to take the stolen bonds to Europe and negotiate them there. We understood each other now, and casting aside all reserve, their tongues wagged freely, and they eagerly told me how confident they were of my ability to dispose of the bonds successfully, and also of my good faith; and, furthermore, told me I was the only man they would have trusted. Of course, they had no security save my word, for under the circumstances they could hardly ask me for a receipt, and even had I given one it would have been valueless had I chosen to retain the proceeds of the bonds. Thus, becoming the important member of the firm, I told them to produce the securities and I would sail immediately. It was finally settled that I should go by the steamer Russia of the Cunard line, which was down for sailing at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and they were to deliver the bonds to me on Tuesday night. Upon my demanding cash to pay expenses, their faces fell, but quickly brightened when I told them to give me a thousand-dollar bond and I would borrow that amount from a friend, using it for security. There was no danger of the number of the bond being inspected, and, of course, I would pay the note upon my return and receive the bond again.


[Pg 47]

They told me many amusing lies as to how the securities came into their possession, and as to who were the rightful owners. The truth was, as I afterward learned, they were a part of the stolen Lord bonds.

Bonds issued by our Government and held in Europe, chiefly in Holland and Germany, were so enormous in volume and passed so freely from hand to hand, that it was easy for a well-dressed, business-appearing man to sell any quantity, even if stolen, as by law the innocent holder could not be deprived of them. One great advantage a dishonest man had at that date in Europe, especially an American, was that if he dressed well they considered he must be a gentleman, and if he had money that was a proof of respectability—one they never thought of questioning, nor how he came by it; then, again, it was an article of their creed that all Americans are rich.

The next morning (Tuesday), Irving met me near the Exchange, and, with some trepidation, drew from an inner pocket an envelope containing the thousand-dollar bond. Without waiting to examine it, I walked off, saying: "I'll be back in ten minutes." He was evidently alarmed, and, like all rogues, suspicious of every one. He probably had some wild idea that I was laying a trap for him. In his ignorance of money methods he thought it would be a long, perhaps difficult, negotiation to borrow money on the bond, but, of course, I made short work of it; and "Jimmy" was more than delighted when within the ten minutes I walked in with ten one hundreds in my hand. A trifle like this made a great impression upon Irving, and from that time on I had his entire confidence. Tuesday evening I said good-bye to my mother, merely remarking in explanation of my journey that I had a commission given me to execute in Europe.

Leaving her, I went to our rendezvous, near Broadway and Astor place, where I found Irving, who handed me[Pg 48] over his "boodle" (as he termed it), remarking confidentially that I was to give him on my return his share into his own hands; and, singularly enough, each of the others did precisely the same thing. About 11 o'clock the other two came in, and after some parley White handed over his bonds, and Stanley informed me he would give me his on board before the steamer sailed the next morning. I had already paid my bill and sent my baggage over to Jersey City, so about midnight I set out, they accompanying me as far as the ferry, and there, after shaking hands a half dozen times, we said good-bye. Having bought my ticket and engaged my cabin, I went direct to the steamer and went to bed. In the morning Stanley appeared and gave me his bonds. Ten minutes later the hawsers were cast off and we were steaming down the bay. Two hours later Fire Island sank beneath the horizon, and we were alone on the sea.

Alone on the sea! and a fitting place to tell the story of a famous New York bank robbery.

In the good old days when Bill Tweed was New York's owner, when Jim Fisk was the proprietor of our judges and Kelso sat in Mulberry street, the king of those good men, the police, who defend our lives and property, this city became a spectacle to gods and men such as we thought then could never be equaled. We thought so then, but we were not endowed with second sight, nor with the gift of prophecy, or we might, perhaps, have reserved our judgment. Still, our masters were a unique collection, and if they have been equaled or surpassed since, they held with easy grasp the pre-eminence among all American rulers who had shone and flourished up to the time when those great men gave us new ideas upon the science of government. The average and quiet citizen, shocked as he might be and grumble as he did at the impudent plundering by our masters, their contempt of public opinion and the cyni[Pg 49]cal display of their luxury, would doubtless have confined himself to grumbling and to calling for slow-arriving thunderbolts to crash the oppressors who were despoiling him had he felt certain that the plunder would be confined to them, that his property would be safe, at least, from the attacks of those insignificant, despicable but eminently dangerous plunderers who became known to the police as common criminals. This, however, was not so. After being flayed by iniquitous taxes, which he knew were destined to add to the stores of Tweed, Connolly & Company, he had every day abundant proof that what the big rascals left him, the little ones would soon try, by burglary or robbery, to ravish from him, and that they would do it with perfect immunity, unterrified either by the fear of present arrest or of later punishment. The Mulberry street office was divided into three or four little pools, each with its clientele of dependents, all of whom faithfully and immediately reported to their patrons the result of any little job they had been engaged in, handing over to the representative of the pool the 20 per cent. of the result, which was Headquarters' established commission. This was the ordinary rate when gentlemen skilled in transferring other people's watches and portemonnaies from the pockets of their owners to their own, or when others who had devoted their talents to demonstrating practically the enormous power of the jimmy and wedge originated and carried out by themselves the operations peculiar to those classes of industries.

It sometimes happened that special cases offered, for which special terms were arranged. Such cases stood by themselves. They were confided only to the acknowledged heads of the profession. Standing outside of all recognized rules, they were treated apart. Headquarters men were always sent to the seat of operations to prevent interference, and, in case of need, to protect their partners. Many a mysterious robbery was perpetrated to which no clue[Pg 50] was ever found; many an anxious search was undertaken by the bloodhounds of the law to find the robbers, that they might crack a bottle together and rejoice over the success of their operations, and sometimes they were joined by men the mention of whose names in such company would have excited incredulous and unbounded amazement.

The gigantic heavings of the war were struggling to rest, but the men whose minds were unhinged and thrown off their balance by the possession of large sums flowing from transactions, a little irregular, perhaps, but which the necessities of Government permitted, were endeavoring, by any means, to open up new fountains of wealth in place of those which the close of the war had exhausted.

One of the resources presenting itself most naturally to men in a position to profit by it was speculating with other people's money, and very naturally the result of such speculation was disastrous in the highest degree. When detection became inevitable the defaulter generally fled, hoping to find in a foreign land safety from the stroke of justice and a shelter from the reproaches of his victims.

Occasionally, one more resolute, dreading flight as much as detection, flung himself into schemes which, if they failed, meant the most hideous and utter ruin, but which, if they succeeded, rendered discovery impossible, and made his position more solid than ever before. One day, late in the sixties, in the parlor of a bank in Greenwich street, a gentleman was anxiously scanning the books of the establishment. He alone in all the institution knew of a secret which would horrify his brother officials and carry desolation to scores of homes, the first to suffer being his own. Perhaps had it been possible to exempt this one home, the misery of the others would not have greatly affected him. But suffering must be kept from his own house, and all and any means to banish it would be and must be good.

The gentleman in whose mind these thoughts were pass[Pg 51]ing was the president of the bank, who knew himself to be a defaulter to an enormous amount, and who was now anxiously reflecting upon the means to cover up his robberies. Fortunately for him he was acquainted with the one man who more than any other in all America was able to help him. This was Capt. Irving. The president was a man of nerve. He knew, as everybody else knew, the relations in which the police stood to the thieves, and he felt that if he could arrange to have his own bank robbed, his difficulties would vanish, and his share in the defalcations be covered up.

Little time was left to him before the inevitable discovery, but the prompt and skillful use he made of it to extricate himself from the fearful danger of his position makes one almost regret that a man of such resolution and such opportunities should prove to the world that high qualities may exist when the moral sense is entirely wanting. Irving was quickly taken into his confidence, the position explained, the proposition to rob the bank broached, all possible co-operation in the way of leaving safes unlocked and doors open, or what, of course, amounts to the same thing, of furnishing keys and information to open everything, promised, and then Irving was asked if he could find men to carry the job into execution. New York in those days was well supplied with such artists, but the right men to carry out so momentous an operation had to be sought. The difficulty, however, was not great, and Irving promptly assured the honorable president that he might confidently count on the right men at the right time.

Among the professionals who twenty-three or four years ago were considered "valuable" men at Police Headquarters were Mike Hurley, Patsey Conroy and Max Shinburn. These were the men whom Irving instantly determined to employ, and whom he forthwith set about to find. That not being a matter of any difficulty, the same night the three[Pg 52] men met Irving at his own house, and were delighted over the revelation he made to them.

One would like to know with what sentiment a man occupying an honorable and responsible position, a Sunday-school superintendent, the head of a great financial institution, well known in the money world and respected in society, slunk to a midnight meeting with burglars.

Did no feeling of shame crimson his face, no sinking of disgust oppress his heart, as he slipped into a house, where, although he kept aloof from actual contact with the ruffians, the details of an enormous crime of which he was the author were debated and settled?

Prudential reasons doubtless kept him from forming a personal acquaintance with his agents. The risk of exposing himself to future blackmail must not be incurred, and one may well believe that he shrank from clasping the hands of these men, who were eagerly awaiting him. Whatever were his feelings, his desperate position suffered no halting. The storm was ready to break at any moment. In an instant he might be a wretched fugitive, with terror before him and infamy howling behind. But one way led out of this labyrinth. He had resolutely planted his feet in that way, determined to tread it to the end. He did tread it to the end, and he came out victorious.

If the suspicions of any afterward pointed toward him, no syllable of the suspicions was breathed. Who dared suspect that an honorable citizen had ever, in the dead of night, crept like a robber to a meeting of outlaws, to concoct the details of an outrageous breach of trust, of a crime which—none knew it better than he—would carry life-long misery and suffering to the families of nearly every man who trusted him?

[Pg 53]
[Pg 54]


"The evil that men do lives after them," but where does the responsibility of its author end? Who will ever say what crimes may spring from the one act of wrongdoing, crimes[Pg 55] committed, it may be, by persons who were directly led into them by the consequences of an act the perpetrator of which had never heard of those affected by it? How far does the responsibility of the wrongdoer extend? What weight of horror is he accumulating on his head?

Such questions may perhaps occur afterward, when the pleasure has been tasted and is gone, and nothing remains of the detected crime but the ruin it has wrought; but in the excitement of laying the plot, in the glamour which the hope of success casts over the schemer, they probably never intrude, conscience is smothered, and he is left to carry out his schemes to the end.

Doubtless no such thoughts disturbed the president, as he waited that night while Irving acted as go-between, carrying messages from him to the agents and from the agents back again to him. At last the arrangements were made. Duplicate keys of the safe were to be provided, and a way, to be presently explained, was to be left open to each of them. Whatever the robbers found in the safes was to be theirs, and the task of getting it was to be of the easiest. This, of course, was highly satisfactory to the thieves, but something more must be prepared for the stockholders and the public. Bank safes are not so easily emptied; there must be the appearance, at least, of great effort to effect the robbery, and marks of the effort must be left behind.

It was, therefore, settled that powerful tools were to be provided, tools able to tear open any strong-box in the world. Such articles are expensive, and the burglars had no money to procure them. No man who knows those people will be surprised at this, for, however much money they may obtain, they never have anything. It melts out of their hands, and they would be themselves embarrassed to say what becomes of it.

The president's first necessity, therefore, was to pay out about a thousand dollars for the jimmies, wedges and all the[Pg 56] paraphernalia of the burglars' industry. This he did. Irving took charge of the money, and he had far too great an interest in the scheme to suffer the cash to be squandered. The agreement was that on the following day Conroy should present himself at the bank to hire a vacant basement, the roof of which formed the floor of the room where the safes were lodged. The president undertook to smooth any difficulties in the way of requiring references, and promised that he should be accepted as a tenant.

This agreement was punctually carried out. Conroy made his application, the basement was granted to him, the rent paid in advance for the edification of the clerks, and he at once entered in possession. Hurley and Shinburne joined him, and the following Saturday they removed so much of the ceiling that but a few minutes' work was required to complete a hole which should serve as a doorway to the vaults above when the bank closed in the evening.


[Pg 57]



Saturday night was the time chosen to get into the bank, and the plunderers were to remain there until Sunday. The members of Irving's ring were to keep watch to prevent any officious interference from passers-by or from ward policemen. Carriages were to be in waiting at some convenient place on Sunday morning, and when the men inside received a signal from their police accomplices on the outside, they were to leave the bank, abandoning their tools, and carrying away nothing but the money and the securities they had stolen. So far, the way was plain; the keys had long before been prepared, tested and found to work properly; full instructions were given as to the way to use them, but the way inside was not yet open.

A night watchman was employed on the premises, and he, of course, was to be got rid of. Little ceremony was to be used in treating him. He was to be seized, overcome by any means, bound, gagged and rendered helpless until Monday, and the fact that he always passed Sunday in the bank, prevented any remark at home upon his continued absence. The details of the plot were thus satisfactorily settled, and at a late hour the conspirators separated.

In the early morning of that day the three burglars were standing in the cellar to which they had lowered their booty, waiting for the signal to come out. At last it was given, when the precious trio slipped out, carrying their precious[Pg 58] bags. A covered carriage was posted in an adjoining street, into which the whole party entered, flurried and excited, and rapidly drove to Irving's residence. There the contents of the bags were carefully examined. The actual cash was easily disposed of, but what was to be done with the bonds?

The arrangement finally agreed upon, to be detailed presently, shows that if there be circumstances in which a little learning is a dangerous thing, one of them is not just after the perpetration of a gigantic burglary.

The Monday following its execution confusion and amazement reigned in the bank. The clerks on their arrival were astounded to find the safe doors wide open, torn and smashed by the tools which lay scattered over the floor, and the night watchman, gagged and bound, was discovered, nearly dead, in a neighboring room. One of the clerks jumped into a cab and rushed to Police Headquarters in Mulberry street to report the robbery. Irving was sitting in his office, busy with the night reports, when the messenger was introduced to tell of the bank's calamity.

The excellent chief listened with breathless attention, and was naturally horror-struck at the perpetration of such a crime. Calling a couple of his trusted sleuths, he hastily communicated the surprising news, and the three hurried with the clerk back to Greenwich street. Arrived there they minutely examined the premises, and gave it as their opinion, judging from the style of the work and from the tools which lay around, that the burglary had been committed by a well-known burglar named Harry Penrose, and that the night watchman, whom they immediately placed under arrest, must have been his accomplice.

The president had sent word to the bank that he was unwell, and would not be able to attend to business that day, but the terrible news was immediately telegraphed to him, and, in spite of his illness, he hurried to town. It is impossible to describe his astonishment and distress at the sight[Pg 59] which met his eyes. In the presence of the clerks he held anxious consultations with the detectives, who assured him that they had already taken the first steps to unravel the mystery, and that every possible effort would be made to discover the criminals. In the privacy of his own office he explained to the reporters that he had left in the bank four hundred thousand dollars in cash and bonds, every farthing of which had disappeared.

As soon as the news was published the excitement among the depositors and the stockholders of the bank was, of course, immense. A run set in, which the directors by the help of friends and of their own private resources were able to meet, but the Wall street appreciation of the calamity was shown in the drop in value of the bank's stock from 130 to 40.

I repeat, a little learning is a dangerous thing. Much knowledge is not to be looked for among men who engage in such crimes, but one would fancy that the everyday experience of Irving and his people would have given them some idea of financial business. The fact is, they were, if possible, more ignorant than their felonious partners. The financial ideas of the latter scarcely went further than "making cheap pennyworths of their plunder, giving to courtesans and living like lords till all be gone," so that negotiating the sale of bonds was a mystery far too high for them—something which they could never hope to attain to. But the company included one man who was a rare exception to the ordinary ride of such society. This was Max Shinburne, a German, a man of considerable education, who, in some inexplicable way, had fallen so far from honor and respectability that when he saw a thief he "consented unto him."

How is it that such men are often found in the ranks of professional criminals? They would probably have difficulty to explain it themselves. A want of savoir faire, the fact that they have never been taught to make a practical use of[Pg 60] their acquirements, the pressure of temptation at a critical moment, the absence, possibly, from harm, leading to the hope of immunity—all, perhaps, enter into the explanation of the secret promptings which have led to the first false step, to the first planting of the feet in the path which leads to destruction. Once the step is taken, to retrace it seems impossible. The line which society draws, and which it proclaims no man shall overstep without punishment, may be approached very closely, but once on the wrong side, once the fateful step is taken, the act is irretrievable; to attempt to retrace it is to attempt to undo the past; it is all but impossible.

Thus probably it is that the fall of an educated man is more hopeless than that of one who knows no better. A carpenter or a blacksmith who has got himself in a tangle has only to move to another town, and if he shakes off perverted thoughts and perverted influences, he is not much worse off than before. He has kept his trade, and his trade will keep him.

Nobody is going to inquire about a workman who can do his work. The employer requires nothing more than that the work be done, and if it be done he neither thinks nor cares anything more about either it or the worker.

With the educated man the case is different. The sentiments of the class he belongs to are less yielding, the fineness of his own feelings has been too deeply wounded, and when he has stabbed his reputation, he is apt, foolishly, of course, to fling the rest of his respectability after it.

With qualities and advantages which might have fitted him for a useful and honorable position in life, Shinburne was at less than 30 years of age the companion of outcasts. But whatever his moral failings, his knowledge remained, and it was for him, at least, to be valuable.

To get rid of the bonds in America was impossible, except by sacrificing them to a stolen goods receiver, who[Pg 61] would have given but a small percentage of their value.

A steamer was to sail for Europe that day, and it was agreed that Shinburne should go by her, with one of the other robbers as company, sell the bonds before the news of the robbery could get across the ocean, then return and fairly divide the proceeds.

This was the arrangement, but Shinburne had already begun to have other dreams and other ambitions. He saw a chance to restore himself, or, at least, to snatch at a position which would give him weight to crush down sinister reports or envious whisperings, and he determined forthwith to seize it. What the bank president had done to save himself from infamy, Shinburne would do to recover himself from infamy. It can be, therefore, easily understood that he accepted without hesitation the other's proposal.

The steamer did not sail until noon. There was, therefore, plenty of time to make preparations, and, besides, he had a little private business to attend to. Leaving the securities in Irving's charge, with a promise to meet the party at 11, he took his share of the cash and departed.

Some time before this, with a skill and forethought rarely to be found in the class he then belonged to, he had bought some building lots near the park. Fortunate, indeed, the speculation eventually proved to be. In the mean time, placing his lots in the hands of a responsible agent, and taking drafts on Europe for his money, he rapidly made the little preparation he needed, and at 11 joined his party, there to receive nearly $200,000 in bonds, and to set out with Mike Hurley for the steamer.

After hurried parting injunctions from the Headquarters men, the two travelers, accompanied by Conroy, to see them off, were rapidly driven to the steamer. Punctually to the hour the hawsers were cast off, and with barely time to say good-bye the cronies parted. A moment after the screw began to turn, and the Cunarder's bow pointed toward England.[Pg 62]

Arrived in Liverpool, the pair proceeded at once to London. Hurley, who was as ignorant of foreign travel as of everything else, was easily tricked by some tale of no evening trains for the Continent. Shinburne plied him well with liquor, taking care to mix the bottles, and when he had got him helplessly drunk he took the bonds and with his little luggage slipped quietly off to the Continent, never to see his dupe or his New York friends again.

He went to Germany, called himself "Count" Shinburne, bought an estate and began to exercise large hospitality toward his neighbors.

No man on all the length of the Rhine was so popular as he. No man's house and table, horses and gardens were so praised as his. In the eyes of the beggar nobles of the Fatherland the man who could give such dinners and in such succession, must belong to the choice members of the human race. Day by day Max's position grew more solid. No breath was ever whispered against him, and with a little prudence he might have kept up his state and died in the odor of sanctity. But the taste of grandeur was too sweet, the incense of his little world's flattery too precious to run the smallest risk of losing it. His display exceeded his means, but for nothing in the world would he have curtailed it.

Matters were in this way until he awoke one day to find his account overdrawn on his bankers. Then it was that he began to remember his operation in Greenwich street, and he seems to have thought that if he succeeded in New York, surely nothing could stand in his way in some sleepy town in Europe.


He went to Brussels prospecting, and soon pitched upon an establishment which he thought likely to reward his industry. But the result showed that to walk into a bank when the way was left open, with the authorities anxious to see him there, and to force his way in when the entrance was jealously barred with the guardians determined he should[Pg 63] stay out, were two very different things. He made the attempt, was arrested and sentenced to sixteen years' imprisonment. His German friends heard of his mishap, and his glory faded like the early dew.

Naturally, every one thought that the count's career had closed, that the star of his fate had declined, that the bars of his prison house were about him forever. They were greatly mistaken. After some twelve or thirteen years he succeeded in getting a pardon and managed to make his way to America. His first visit was to the agents in whose hands he had left the management of his park lots. He went into their office, not knowing whether or not he was a pauper. He came out knowing himself to be nearly a millionaire.

During the almost twenty years of his absence his lots had increased enormously in value. Once more he was a rich man, once more he might emerge from his eclipse and become a power of a certain kind in the class of society he could get access to, but his experience had taught him something. His advancing years had left him but little desire for display. He came back to a world which knew him not: and few of those who notice a benevolent-looking old gentleman, who often passes an afternoon in upper Broadway, suspect that under an assumed name he hides the identity of Max Shinburne, the bank burglar.

When Hurley awoke from his drunken fit in London and recognized that his partner had both robbed and deserted him, he felt that his mission was over, and that nothing remained but to return at once to America. Loud and long and wrathful were the complaints over Shinburne's treachery. Whatever he did to others, all felt that his dealings with them ought to have been "on the square," but there was no help for it. He had disappeared, and faint, indeed, was the chance that they would ever see him again. The success of the crime, so far as they were concerned, had, after[Pg 64] all, been a failure. Vanished hopes and cheated visions were their share, instead of the wealth they had anticipated, and in their devouring rage they tried to console themselves with the thought of what they would do to him if they ever met Shinburne.

The only man who had any real success from the scheme was the president. Exposure had become impossible. He had taken good care not to leave too much in the safes for his accomplices, and he was henceforth a wealthy man. The bank, desperately shaken by the robbery, fell so greatly in the esteem of the public that not long after it failed. The president gave up banking, and began to speculate in real estate. He increased in riches and prospered in the world. He called his lands after his own name. He thought his house would continue forever, and men praised him, because he did well to himself. He settled his children comfortably in life, and when he died, not so very long ago, all felt that the world was better because he had lived in it, and that, although their loss when he was taken was heavy, it was, nevertheless, his great gain.[Pg 65]



After a pleasant voyage the Russia arrived, and one May morning I walked into the Northwestern Railway station in Liverpool to take the train for London. The bonds were in a little handbag, and I was free to look around. Everything was novel and strange, and all things told me I was in a foreign land. I had, like most young people, a particularly good opinion of myself and something of an idea as to my own importance.

We arrived in London amid a drizzling rain, and I was much impressed with the mighty roar of the traffic in the streets. We drove to Langham place, where I had a regular English tea, and liked it immensely, too. The next night I left Victoria Station for Dover, and crossing the Channel to Ostend, went through to Brussels and stopped there, having wanted, ever since boyhood, to visit the field of Waterloo. I looked through the city that day, visiting the famous City Hall and one of the art galleries. Retiring early I arose early and drove out to the plain immortalized by the giant struggle of those valiant hosts, but did not purchase any of the relics which were freely offered. These have been sold by shiploads to two generations of visitors. Returning to Brussels, I paid my bill at the Hotel de Paris, and was amused over the inventiveness of the proprietor in making charges—towels, candles, soap, attendance, paper, envelopes, being among them.[Pg 66]

Going to the station I bought my ticket for Frankfort—that old town I was destined to see so much of during the next few years. On my journey I would pass through Cologne, and from there the railway skirts the bank of the Rhine. This being my first visit to Europe, I was intensely curious to see everything, especially the Cathedral at Cologne, and was eager to linger a few days along the banks of the Rhine. But I was more eager to complete the bond negotiations, and wisely resolved to go direct to Frankfort, sell the bonds, then, with the money in my pocket and all anxiety over, I would be in a state of mind to enjoy a short holiday.

I traveled through Belgium and some parts of Germany by daylight, and was, as most Americans are who travel on the Continent, shocked to see the employment of women. Soon after leaving Brussels I saw the, to me, novel sight of a number of women shoveling coal, handling the shovel like men. In other places I saw them laboring in the brick yards, digging and wheeling clay, and everywhere they were to be seen working at men's work in the fields.

A traveler in my compartment proved a most entertaining companion. He described himself to me as one who "went about pottering over a lot of antiquities and fooling around generally."

But my friend, the pottering old antiquary, gave me something of a surprise. At Chalours all of our fellow travelers in the compartment left us. Two of them were voluble French women, and they kept it up with amazing energy for the six hours from Brussels to Chalours. At every unusual swaying of the car there would be a volley of "Mon Dieus!" and ear-piercing exclamations, and it was certainly a relief when they left.

Bringing out a box of cigars, and my companion producing a flask of wine, we soon became confidential. Presently, to my great amusement, my Old Antiquary, warmed by the[Pg 67] wine, confided to me that he was a detective police officer and chief of the secret service at Antwerp, that he was then working on a famous case, and had been shadowing one of the ladies who had journeyed with us from Brussels. Before leaving Brussels, he had discovered his quarry was to quit the train, and as he had to go on to Mayence, he had turned the business over to a confederate.

I was young, and no doubt he thought me innocent; certainly he did not withhold his confidence. This is the case he was investigating:

There was a wealthy gentleman by the name of Van Tromp living in Antwerp, a widower, 70 years of age, the father of a grown-up family, and many times a grandfather. It had been his custom to go to Baden-Baden every Summer, spending money freely both in pleasure and in the famous gambling resorts there. The last time he had met a woman, the Countess Winzerode, one of the many adventuresses to be found there, and speedily became infatuated. This Van Tromp was a descendant of old Admiral Van Tromp, who, in the mighty life-and-death struggle between Holland and Spain, and in the two wars with England, the first when Cromwell ruled, the second when the Second Charles was on the throne, held up the fame and glory of Holland. In one case he swept the proud navies of Spain from the seas and carried the Dutch flag around the world. In the other, he was only vanquished after stubborn sea-fights lasting for days, and only ended then because the stout admiral lay on his deck with an English bullet in his heart. This Van Tromp was the heir of the fame and the wealth of all the Van Tromps, and both had gone on accumulating for 300 years.

The self-styled Countess knew all this, and, as the sequel shows, knew her man. She was 40, had been beautiful, was still comely, with good figure, fair-haired, but with steel-blue eyes. She spoke many languages and had dwelt in every land from Petersburg to Paris. It is needless to tell how[Pg 68] they first met or of the intimacy that sprang up between them, but I will merely say in passing that within five days of their first meeting he had given her a magnificent diamond bracelet, which had been in his family more than a century. This alarmed his two daughters, who were terrified at the mere suspicion that their father was in earnest, and might possibly present them with a stepmother, above all, a comparatively young stepmother, and, so far as physique went, a magnificent animal, with promise of a long life—so long that her rights of dower would make a cut in the Van Tromp estates and treasures, which might well cause the old Admiral to rouse himself from his three-century sleep in Dordrecht Church and once more walk these glimpses of the moon in protest of the sacrilege. Then the scandal of a Countess-adventuress becoming a Van Tromp—- head of that family, too! They knew of his penchant for the Countess, and cared nothing for it, until, with a feeling akin to horror they observed at the dress ball one night the Countess airing the historic bracelet. It would require a volume to relate the scenes that followed in the Van Tromp domicile on this paralyzing discovery; but prayers, tears and histrionic touches were all met by the stolid reply of Van Tromp: "I please myself."

As a last resort the daughters appealed to the Countess, offering all their ready cash and a pension if she would only disappear. But visions of the Van Tromp diamonds and of the Van Tromp bank account were in her head and she was deaf to every appeal. In fact, she despised these heavy, matter-of-fact Dutch ladies, and rather gloried to think that she would soon be the female head of the Van Tromp house and stepmother to these two highly respectable dames, who would perforce have to live in her shadow. But then, of course, the Countess was a woman, and it is to be feared that even good women love to triumph over others. She, of course, could have no love for this portly old gentleman[Pg 69] of seventy. But it is pitiful to think he was madly infatuated. The poor old man, in spite of his unromantic appearance, had warm blood in his veins and plenty of romance in his heart. At last, in spite of gossip and opposition, they were married, and then, instead of settling down, as the happy groom had hoped, to a life of wedded bliss in one of his country houses at Dordrecht, Lady Van Tromp insisted on spending her honeymoon in Paris. There they went, and the very day of their arrival the bride resumed a liaison with a beggarly count, who, not being an actual criminal, yet was written black enough in the books of the Paris police, and for whom the Countess had as warm an admiration as one of her cold, calculating nature was capable of feeling.

Van Tromp speedily found his dream of bliss blown to the winds, but he was not so blind as not to see that his wife not only did not love him, but was false to him as well. Poor old Van Tromp felt he had made his last throw for happiness, and hoping against hope, dreamed she in time would learn to appreciate his devotion and would love him, and so tried to persuade himself of her truth. The first anniversary of the marriage found them at Baden-Baden, and there the unhappy husband, thinking to give his wife a pleasant surprise, entered her chamber at an unusual hour bearing a diamond necklace for a present, and found her in a position which could no longer leave any doubt as to her faithlessness. Seizing a chair he felled her companion, who never stirred again; but the shock was too great for the husband, who himself fell to the floor and instantly expired—the doctors said of heart disease, and I think they were right. This event was only a few weeks old. The will had been read, and it was found that he had literally left everything "to my wife, Elizabeth."

Here my friend, the chief of police and a distant relative of Van Tromp, came to the front, determined quietly on his own account to investigate Lady Van Tromp. He found this[Pg 70] last was at least her third venture on the stormy sea of matrimony. He had a fancy that some one of her husbands might still be living and undiscovered. If this could be proved, then her marriage to Van Tromp was no marriage, and the ducats, dollars and diamonds bequeathed by Van Tromp to "my wife, Elizabeth," would instantly melt into air—into very thin air, so far as the Countess was concerned; provided, of course, they had not actually passed into her clutches. In fact, they were legally hers, for the will had been admitted to probate. Those of the family objecting could offer no valid opposition, and she had been put in possession, but, by a strange neglect on her part, left everything intact, save a deposit of 300,000 gulden in the Bank of Amsterdam, which she secured and set out for Naples with a new lover.

[Pg 71]
[Pg 72]

The detective—whom I will call Amstel—discovered that she had first been married when only 15 years old to a young Swiss in Geneva, who soon left her and fled to America. He had subsequently returned to Europe, but Amstel was unable to discover his whereabouts or if he was living. He suspected that the Swiss was not only alive but in communication with the Countess, and that she, in fact, might be his legal wife. He had followed the Countess from Naples to Paris. There she left her lover and was now on her way to Nuremberg, as Amstel believed, to meet her first husband, but she had arranged to remain a few days with some old friends of hers. Every movement she made there would be watched, while Amstel, going on to Cologne to look up some clues, intended to wait there until informed that she had departed, and when the train arrived at Cologne he proposed to enter it and follow my lady on, hoping to witness a meeting between her and the much hoped-for husband. Happily we had arrived at Cologne at this point in the story, and as Amstel was to remain here we had to say good-bye; but for the whole twenty minutes of my stay we walked up and down the platform talking eagerly of the case. I had be[Pg 73]come much interested, so deeply, indeed, that had I had leisure I certainly should have turned amateur detective and joined Amstel.


The train started, and, promising to write me in New York the outcome of the case, we shook hands warmly and parted. He wrote me twice, and the following year I returned to Europe and met Amstel at Brussels. We had a very delightful time together, during which he told me the sequel of the Van Tromp episode. Instead of one, the Countess had two husbands living; but the Van Tromps preferred to buy off the woman at a good round sum rather than have a public scandal.

Amstel interviewed the Countess, and gave her the choice between arrest and a full release of all claims on the Van Tromp property for the sum of 100,000 gulden. She made a hard fight, but at last gave in gracefully. But my chapter has grown too long already, and I will close it with the remark that I myself met the lady at Wiesbaden in 1871, and became acquainted with the brilliant adventuress. She will appear again in the sequel.[Pg 74]



From Cologne to Frankfort is about 140 miles, and swiftly our train sped along up the Rhine—the lovely stream about which poets have raved for twenty generations. What classic ground! What scenes have its waters reflected, its mountains looked upon! In the old days its rolling floods made a deep impression on the stout Roman heart. More than one army, carrying with it the hearts of the Roman world, had crossed that river and plunged into the unknown forests beyond, only to go down in the shock of conflict with the brave but barbarian foe, leaving not one solitary survivor to carry back tidings to Rome of the fate of her army. And down through all the linked centuries the history of the Rhine has been the history of giant armies marching against each other, and of brothers slaughtering brothers. To-day the plains of Germany and France bear a million of armed men, ranged face to face, with only the Rhine between, eagerly awaiting the signal to pour a deadly rain on each other. And for what?

The last face that I saw at the Cologne station was that of Amstel, lit up with smiles as he waved his hand in adieu. Sitting cozily in the corner of the carriage, eager to see all that was to be seen, I found, as all tourists do, much to charm and delight. But my thoughts were on the bonds I had to sell, and I was glad enough when at 5 o'clock our train drew into the depot at Frankfort.[Pg 75]

Alighting I took a cab and drove to the Hotel Landsberg, and, although tired, the scenes and surroundings were too novel for me to think of sleep. So I dined and went out to view the city, but as I will have occasion to refer to the place again, I will leave any description of it until another chapter.

In London there was an American banking house that has since failed, but which at this time was doing a large business in the way of issuing letters of credit. The firm was patronized chiefly by Americans. It issued credits, or letters of credit, without inquiry, to any one applying for them. While in London I called at their office, 449 Strand, and paying $750 was given a credit for £150, which I took under an assumed name. I wanted this letter to serve as an introduction to some of the bankers at Frankfort, and to open the way for the negotiation of the bonds. The Frankfort correspondents of the London firm were Kraut, Lautner & Co., on the Gallowsgasse. The next morning I repaired to the office of this firm, and producing my letter was very cordially received, and invited to make my headquarters in their office during my stay at Frankfort, which for the next day or two I did. However, I called on several other bankers, also feeling the way, and finally selected the firm of Murpurgo & Wiesweller, bankers widely known and of enormous wealth. I had several talks with Murpurgo, and told him I was arranging to purchase a number of copper mines in Austria, and if the deal was closed I should sell a large block of American bonds and use the cash I realized to pay for the purchase of the mines. I suppose he thought to make a good thing out of it, and was eager to purchase.

My reader will recall that payment upon all United States bonds payable to bearer, as mine were, could not be stopped, and so far as the innocent holder was concerned he was perfectly secure. But the custom among bankers was, whenever any bonds were lost by theft or fraud, to send out cir[Pg 76]culars containing the numbers, asking that the parties offering them might be questioned and held. But as American bonds were sold in millions all over the Continent, and were passing freely from hand to hand, as a matter of fact, little or no attention was paid to such circulars, but, of course, had strangers of disreputable appearance offered bonds in large sums, the lists might have been scrutinized and awkward questions asked. Therefore I felt a trifle nervous, and determined to run no chance of losing my bonds—at least not all of them. So I resolved to go to Wiesbaden, some fifteen miles away, stop at some hotel under a different name, leave the bonds there, and take the morning train for Frankfort, conduct my negotiations, and return to Wiesbaden every evening. It was at this time easy to lose one's identity in Wiesbaden, for the town then was, along with Baden-Baden, the Monte Carlo of the Continent, and adventurers, men and women, from all over Europe flocked there in thousands to chance their fortune in the gambling halls. Although a little in advance of this portion of my history, I will here relate an adventure of mine there, some years after the period of which I am speaking.

I will, however, preface my narrative with a brief account of the history of the place. The city of Wiesbaden, previous to the Franco-German war of 1870, was the chief town of one of those petty principalities which were plentifully sprinkled over the face of Europe. Since the old Roman days the town had been famous for its hot springs, and consequently for its hot baths, and a good many people—during the Winter particularly—resorted there to bathe and to drink the waters. As a matter of course, the townspeople, as the custom of such places is, have recorded many a marvelous cure, ranging all the way from headache to hydrophobia. But still the town was of little importance save locally. The petty ruler, with a title longer than his income, lived in the pretentious castle, beguiling the time by smoking cheap[Pg 77] cigars or ordering on banquets whose piece de resistance consisted of Gebratene Gans und Kartoffeln, the unlucky bird being tribute in kind from the farmyard of some peasant subject living in a miserable hut on black bread.

But a change was impending. A mighty wizard had visited the place, with an eye quick to see the possibilities of the situation, with a brain to plan and a hand to execute. His name was Francois Blanc, the head of the great gambling establishment at Homburg. Vast as were his ambition and achievements, he was a man of the simplest tastes.

To see him—as I often have—in his seedy coat, his old-fashioned spectacles on the tip of his nose, one would have taken him for a country advocate whose wildest dreams were of a practice of two thousand thalers a year, with an old gig and wheezy mare to haul him around the country side from client to client. Before his Wiesbaden days he had been the guiding spirit in the direction of the splendid gambling halls, the Casino at Homburg. Blanc was impervious to flattery; a hard-headed, silent man, a man without enthusiasm and without weaknesses, who kept a lavish table and ate sparingly himself, who had a wine cellar rivaling that of the Autocrat of All the Russias and yet contented himself with sipping a harmless mineral water; who kept and directed a huge gambling machine—a mighty conglomeration of gorgeously decorated halls, wine parlors and music rooms, crammed day and night by giddy and excited throngs, but himself never indulging in anything more exciting than an after-dinner game of dominoes or a quiet drive with his wife through the country lanes.

Thus this Francois Blanc, with perfect equanimity, watched the thousand thousands of butterflies and moths of society scorch their wings in the terrific flame that glowed in his Casino, while he looked on, a cynical observer, despising the fools enraptured with roulette and fascinated with rouge-et-noir.[Pg 78]

But one thing he was not afraid of, and that was spending money. To compass his business ends he laid it out lavishly, and in the end he drew all Europe to Wiesbaden. Still broader and still deeper he laid the foundations of the fortune that ultimately grew to colossal proportions. But he did not make Wiesbaden famous without keen opposition. He made the fortune of the beggarly Prince Karl and the whole hungry crowd of royal highnesses in spite of themselves. At every fresh opposition he simply opened his purse and a golden shower fell on them.

It required a hard head to withstand the attacks made on him when it became known that he had bought up both prince and municipality, and proposed to make Wiesbaden par excellence the gambling city of the Continent. But, despite of all, he pushed on his plans to wonderful success. A great park was laid out and stately buildings arose, all dedicated to the goddess of chance. Slim was the chance the votaries of the game had in his gorgeous halls. He threw out his money in millions, but he knew the weak, foolish heart of man, the egotism of each and every one of us, that leads us to ignore for ourselves the immutable law of numbers. So he counted upon his returns, and never counted in vain.

As I say, he had a hard head to withstand the attacks made upon him. Every day the post brought hundreds of letters containing propositions of threats from people who had lost their money and demanded its return with fierce threats, pitiful supplications and warnings of intended suicide, place, date and hour carefully specified, so there could be no mistake, and more than one attempt was made upon his life. But the equanimity of Francois Blanc was equal to all adventures. Threats, prayers, temptations, left him untouched. This man of ice, self-possessed, cold, indifferent to the ruin of the thousands of victims of his will, had a fad or fancy. It was for raising red and white roses, and while the mad throngs were fluttering in frenzy around the tables in his[Pg 79] halls at Homburg, Wiesbaden and Monte Carlo, he, hoe or trowel in hand, would be training and transplanting his roses, solicitous over an opening bud or deploring the ravages of an insect; or, again, refusing all invitations, would sit down with his wife to a dinner of boiled turnips and bacon, washed down with a glass of Vichy water and milk. This was the town and these the scenes constantly occurring there.

Now for my adventure. In 1870, just before the war cloud burst, covering all that part of the world, I was stopping for some weeks at the Hotel Nassau. It stands in the main street, opposite the park gate leading to the Casino. All the world went to Wiesbaden to be amused. However fashionable frivolity and vice may be elsewhere, here it was strictly de rigueur, and to pretend to decency and sobriety would be to stamp one's self a heathen and barbarian, all unversed in the glorious flower-wreathed Primrose Way of our orb.

The daily routine for the throng began with coffee in bed at 8 a.m., then dressing gowns were donned, and the bath in underground floors of the hotel were sought and a bath had in the hot mineral waters, which were conducted to all the hotels direct from the hot springs of the town. Half an hour in the bath, then a light breakfast, preparatory to sallying out for an hour on the Spaziergang around the Quellen to drink the water, listen to the band, see and be seen, but, above all, to gossip and tell lies. At 11 a.m. the gambling began in the Casino, and with a rush the seats around the tables would be filled. Then speedily there would be rows behind rows of eager players or spectators, and what a sight it all was to the cool-headed observer.

With what keen interest all watched the result of the first turn of the card at the card tables and the color of the first hit at roulette. For all gamblers are superstitious, and are devout believers in omens. Those whose luck or pocketbooks held out gambled steadily on, or, if luck turned against them,[Pg 80] would leave the table, go to do some fantastic thing to change their luck and then return. At 2 p. m. the band (a very fine one) played in the Musik Saal, and most of the idlers and morning players gathered there to listen to the music and to drink and dine. Here in this hall the intrigues begun on the promenade or in the gambling-rooms were helped along by the ample opportunities of meeting, with the passions stimulated by the music and the wine. At 4 o'clock many took an afternoon nap. Then came the chief event of the day, the ponderous table d'hote. At 9 p. m. every one flocked to the Casino, and the game went merrily on until midnight. Then to bed, each and all with more or less Rudesheimer or Hochheimer stowed away.

At the time of which I speak many were my idle days, in which I was free to seek pleasure. I used to find much enjoyment in frequenting the Casino to watch the people and to play the role of "looker-on in Vienna," which, by the way, is a star role and therefore rather agreeable. One evening while watching the rouge-et-noir I noticed a lady just in front of me, magnificently dressed in all, save that there was an entire absence of jewelry. She was literally dressed to kill, and, although near 50, yet to the casual observer she seemed no more than 40, or even less. She was a well-preserved woman of the world, and was known as the Countess de Winzerole. This was the adventuress who had married Van Tromp some two years before. What a career had been that of this woman!

She had been mistress from first to last of a dozen men, noblemen, diplomats, soldiers, but being an inveterate gambler, one after another saw, with dismay, the cash, estates, diamonds, carriages, costly furs and laces he showered upon her all go whirling into the ever-open maw of the Casino, or in the drawing-room games of the bon-ton in Paris or Petersburg. One brave youth, an officer in the Prussian Guards, had, in his infatuation for the Countess, and impreg[Pg 81]nable, as he thought, against bankruptcy by reason of his great fortune, tried to satisfy her cravings for splendor of entourage and her infatuation for gambling. The result was that one day the crack of a pistol-shot was heard in the Countess' chamber, and the servants rushing in found the young bankrupt dead, lying across the bed, with a bullet through the heart. The next day a horde of clamorous creditors besieged the house, where the Countess calmly told them she had sent for her bankers and on the morrow they would be paid. That night his comrades buried their dead friend with military honors. At midnight the cortege passed the hotel, and all eyes watched the lovely Countess robed in white as she appeared, her bosom heaving with emotion, while she waved a farewell to her dead lover. Ten minutes later she fled through the back door and over the garden wall, falling into the arms of another lover waiting there. He himself did not go the way of the last, but half of his fortune did; so one morning, leaving a polite note of farewell, he, taking for companion the dressing maid of his mistress, embarked for America.

At the time I met her the Countess' reputation was too well known and her beauty too much fallen off for her to make any more grand catches. A local banker at Wiesbaden became very friendly. However, the friendship lost all its warmth when the banker's stout wife one day caught them together, and having already provided herself with a whip in anticipation, visited them both with a jealous woman's rage and a sound thrashing.

Now, the Countess spent her time around the tables, following the winners and getting douceurs from them. These were by no means small—most of them being gifts pure and simple, given from mere goodness of heart or sheer prodigality for there were too many gay and beautiful women flocking around ready to smile on winners in the game for the Countess now to make even a temporary conquest. How[Pg 82]ever, at this period she lived well—even extravagantly—but, of course, saved nothing. As related, I first met the Countess here at the table where the game was going on. She had just staked and lost her last gulden. She was betting on the black, and four times in succession the red had won. She turned, and looking in my face, implored me to bet a double Frederick on the red. I instantly placed the money on the red and won. She begged me to transfer the stake to the black. I did so, and black won. Placing her hand on the stake, she said: "Sir, leave it; black will win again." Sure enough, it did. She seized the cash, $80, and handing me a double Frederick, said in her most bewitching manner: "Oh, sir; be generous and let me keep this!" I said: "Certainly, madame." She promptly staked it, and in two turns of the cards it was gone.

We met several times the next few days, but merely bowed without speaking.

One afternoon, entering the Musik Saal, I took a small table, and, ordering a bottle of wine, sat down to listen to the music and watch the throng. The Countess came in, and seeing me alone, came straight to me, shook hands warmly and sat down. I, of course, invited her to have a glass of wine. We soon finished that bottle and ordered another. We had what was to me a most amusing talk. She was a character—had been everywhere and spoke all the modern languages. She assured me that I was a very charming gentleman. In paying my bill I incautiously displayed a gold piece or two, and, seeing she was going to ask me to give her one, I saved her the trouble by placing one in her hand. In time we became quite good friends. Twice I paid her board bill in order to rescue her wardrobe from the clutches of her landlord, and once I saved her from the hands of an irate washerwoman. When, after a time, I left Wiesbaden, I left her as gay, as prosperous and as extravagant as ever.

I did not see Wiesbaden again for over two years, but the[Pg 83] second week of January, 1873, found me there. The Prussian Government now ruled in the town, and refused to renew the license of M. Blanc. It had expired fourteen days before my arrival. What a change had fallen on the town! The Casino was gloomy and cold, the gay crowds had fled. All the life and movement of the street and promenade was forever a thing of the past. I had located there simply as a precaution, disposing of large amounts of bonds in Frankfort, fifteen miles away, and returning to Wiesbaden each night. At this time I put up at the Hotel Victoria, near the railroad station. One Saturday, going up to Frankfort rather late, my business detained me until after dark. On reaching the station I happened to look into the third-class waiting-room, and there I spied a figure alone that looked familiar. I soon recognized the Countess. From her appearance and surroundings it was plain that there was now no wealthy lover at her beck and call. Because she looked so unhappy I gave her a cordial greeting, which she returned rather wearily. It was very cold, and I was clad in furs from head to foot; besides, I was, apparently, on the full floodtide of fortune, having with me then a very large sum of money, some of which she could have had for the asking.

I said: "Come, Countess; let us go together first class to Wiesbaden." She replied that she lived at Bieberich, a small town on the Rhine, four miles below Mayence, and four miles from Wiesbaden. As the train was starting I bade her good-bye, but asked permission to call on her the next day. She consented, giving her address as Hotel Bellevue.

The next morning was very cold, but I enjoyed that, so, after a light breakfast, I started over the hills for a walk to the town, arriving there soon after noon. I found the hotel, a fifth-rate one, and entering, was shown to the room of the Countess. What a change for her from the past! Her room was a small one, plastered, but unpapered, and with a[Pg 84] few articles of furniture of the cheapest. The poor woman was too evidently in a state of frightful depression, and well she might be. Hers had been a butterfly existence, life all one Summer holiday, no hostages given to fortune, no bond taken against future wreck or change. Like the butterfly, she had roamed from flower to flower, sipping the sweet only, or, like the cricket, had merrily piped all the Summer through, thinking sunshine and bloom eternal. Even when youth and beauty had fled, and lovers no longer stood ready to attend and serve, she still found a good aftermath in her happy harvest field on the floors of the Casino, but when the Casino lights at Wiesbaden went out, then, for the Countess, had the Winter indeed come.

My walk had given me something of an appetite, and it now being 2 o'clock I at once proposed to have dinner. To my surprise she said she had already dined, and upon my remarking that it was early for dinner, she replied that it was, but as she was owing quite a hotel bill she feared to give any trouble lest the landlord might present his bill, and in default of payment she was liable to arrest and a very considerable imprisonment. I need hardly tell my readers that they do these things differently in Germany than with us. I could easily afford to be generous with other people's money, and did not mean to see the Countess suffer for a hotel bill. Ringing the bell, I told the waiter to bring me some dinner and a bottle of wine. The Countess looked very uneasy over my order. Of late years she had seen life from the seamy side and had observed so much of the falseness and cruelty of men that she had apparently lost all faith in them, and no doubt thought me an adventurer, one who might possibly dine and order expensive wines, leaving her to face an angry landlord. While dinner was being prepared she told me she was in the greatest distress; had not even a single kreutzer to pay postage, and, worst of all, was owing for two weeks' board. She had no means to fly, no place to fly to,[Pg 85] and if she remained incarceration awaited her. She had for weeks been writing everywhere to every one she had known, former lovers, distant, but long-neglected relatives. The result—dead silence; no response from anywhere. She at last was alone, caught in the world's great snare, with no friendly hand to shelter or save. It was a sight to read this woman's face. There swept over it all the conflicting waves of regrets over might-have-beens and the gloomy shades of despair. Both proprietor and waiter appeared to set the table; it was for one, but wineglasses for two were brought unsolicited. They were officiously anxious to please "Your Highness," as they christened me. The Countess sat looking gloomily out of the window across the Rhine, while I watched her face until an infinite pity for the shipwrecked soul filled my mind. Dismissing the waiter I went to the window, and standing by her chair I said: "Don't worry any more, Countess; I will pay your bill." At the same time drawing from an inner pocket a book crammed with notes, I placed seven 100-thaler notes in her lap, saying: "This one is for your board bill, and the other six are for your pocket money." I need not attempt to picture her amazement and delight. Certainly she appeared very grateful. We had a long conversation and I was talking to her like a brother. Perhaps had she still been beautiful and young my manner and language might have been less brotherly. I told her she had danced and sung, but at last the time had come for toil, and suggested she should go to Brussels, which is ever thronged with tourists, where her knowledge of languages and her savoir faire could be made available in one of the many shops where gimcracks are sold to travelers. I advised her to offer a small premium for a position. This she said she would do.

In saying good-bye I promised to see her again the next night, but I found a telegram awaiting me on my arrival at my hotel which called me to meet two of my companions at Calais, and I was forced to leave by an early train. The[Pg 86] next time I saw the Countess was at Newgate. She visited me there, and was in perfect despair over my position and her inability to serve me. For those who may care to know more of her, I will say that, following my advice, she went to Brussels and obtained a position in a Tourist Exchange and within a year married the proprietor, who was a Councilman and a man of considerable local importance. She made him a good wife and became a true mother to his five daughters. When he died he made her guardian to both of them and his wealth. She became very religious, and to the last was a devout member of the Roman Church. She died in 1886, thirteen years after the episode at Rieberich. Her ashes rest in the little graveyard of the Convent des Soeurs de Ste. Agnes, on the Charleroi road, two miles from the city, and on her monument is engraved:

TO ELIZABETH, The Beloved Wife, Pious and True. She Served God and Has Gone to Live with the Angels


[Pg 87]



About every second day I called on Murpurgo & Weissweller in Frankfort, and talked over matters, and easily saw that everything would go right. All that was necessary was to produce the bonds, and they would hand over the cash. Here in America, though we scrutinized a man's garments, the quality and fit of the same having a certain value, we never take much stock in a stranger because an artist tailor has decorated him, or because he has plenty of money. But in the seventies, all over Europe, from the mere fact that a man was an American and had the appearance, dress and manner of a gentleman, they always took it for granted that he must be a gentleman.

Therefore, seeing that I was taken for a capitalist, and that no question would be asked, I told the firm my deal in Austrian copper mines appeared so certain to be completed that I had ordered the securities I intended to dispose of to be forwarded from London. Giving them a list, they gave me a memorandum offer for the lot. I accepted their offer. The next hour was a very bad sixty minutes for me. There was considerable delay, and my suspicions were fully aroused, and at one time I thought they had made some discovery; but, as a fact, my suspicions were wholly unfounded.

The banker and clerks were simply hurrying around, anxious to oblige me and have the money out of the bank before it closed. At last the amounts were figured up and veri[Pg 88]fied by myself. One of the partners hastened off to the bank and in five minutes returned with a very pretty parcel of 200,000 gulden; but, in spite of the evident safety of the business, I was nervous, and resolved to put a good distance between me and the town as speedily as possible. Before 5 o'clock I was in Weisbaden, and, going directly to the Casino, where they kept at all times a million francs, in addition to German money, and where the possession of large sums attract no attention, I readily exchanged my money for 350 one-thousand-franc notes.

Going to Rothschild's, I bought exchange on New York for $80,000, and left the same night for London. Very many times I journeyed over that route in after years, but never with so light a heart. I was young and enthusiastic; all the glamour and poetry of life hung around me, while I was too inexperienced to notice whither I was drifting, or to understand the powerful current upon which I had embarked. In fact, I had sold myself to do the devil's work, and day by day the chain would tighten, while all the time I thought I could when I pleased stop short on the downward grade and take the back track. More experience would have taught me that every one who forsook the path of honor not only thought the same, but had a purpose to even everything up some day and make restitution. And to-day there is not a criminal but who, at the start, looks forward to the time when he will no longer war against society, but will go out and come in at peace with all men. But when one comes to think of it, what a fool's game is that of a man who fights against society!

[Pg 89]
[Pg 90]


The criminal has but two arms, very short and weak they are, and of flesh, too. He has but two eyes that cannot possibly see around the nearest corner, while society has a million arms of steel that can reach around the world, and a million eyes which are never closed, that can pierce the thickest[Pg 91] gloom with sleepless vigilance. The poor, unhappy criminal, by fortunate dexterity, may escape for a little, but at last society lays her iron grasp on him, and with giant force hurls him into a dungeon. As for the short-lived, tempestuous success that some few criminals have, is there any sweetness in it? I say no; success won in honest fight is sweet, but I know from my own experience that the success of crime brings no sweetness, no blessing with it, but leaves the mind a prey to a thousand haunting fears that make shipwreck of peace.

There were no sleeping cars in all Europe then, so I sat up in a compartment and really enjoyed the ride, viewing the country by moonlight. At midnight we arrived at Calais, and took the boat for Dover. Then the express for London. Arriving at Victoria Station I took a cab to Mrs. Green's, where I had breakfast a l'anglaise.

I had a little adventure that night going down the Strand. At Bow street, on the corner, is the "Gaiety," a famous drinking saloon, flooded with light inside and out, with more than a half-dozen handsome barmaids. Barmaids are a great institution in England—that is, they have never more than one man behind a bar, none at all in the railway bars. And a fearful source of ruin to the girls, as they are to thousands of young men—I might say tens of thousands every year. These girls are chosen for their beauty and attractiveness. Yearly, in London and in other large cities of England, a "Beautiful Barmaid Show" is one of the stated features, and is held in some public garden or monster hall. These exhibitions are wonderfully popular, and thousands flock to them. Various beauty contests are got up, and all the popular features of voting, etc., are in vogue. Those of the young women who win the prizes make their fortunes, for they are at once engaged at high salaries for the more aristocratic barrooms. Fancy what an attraction and even fascination the gin palace with lovely girls behind the bar must have to[Pg 92] the youth of a great city. Many of them strangers, busy during the day, but with nothing to do at night, with the choice of the street or a sombre room, but sure of a sweet smile of welcome from a fascinating woman in the barrooms. How easily and how naturally, too, does a young man become ensnared. But how if he has no money? No smiles and no welcome for him! And then what a temptation to help himself to his master's cash!

Happy for our country that our laws forbid women entering that occupation!

While standing in the brilliant light of the Gaiety, watching the thronging crowd of passers-by, with its sprinkling of unfortunates, I saw one poor, bedraggled creature, wan-faced and hollowed-eyed, with hunger and despair imprinted on every feature. Looking sharply at her she caught my eye, and, crossing the street, she spoke to me. The poor thing looked as if she had been dragged through all the gutters of London. She said that herself and her baby were actually starving—that her husband had been out of work thirteen weeks and had then deserted her, owing twelve weeks' rent, and the landlady had just told her that unless she paid her some rent before 9 o'clock that night she would be turned out with her baby into the streets.

Those of my readers who have been in London know something of what it would mean for this woman to be turned out into the streets of that fearful Babylon. No wonder, then, the poor soul was frantic with despair. In her poverty a shilling looked as big as a cartwheel, and when I said to her: "Will you promise to go direct home if I give you a sovereign?" she cried out: "Oh, sir, God forever bless you if you will!" I gave her the $5, and as she started to run I caught her by the sleeve and said: "I will go home with you to see if you have told me the truth." She lived close by, in one of those teeming courts that run off from the Strand. We found her baby naked on a heap of rags, in a small, dirty[Pg 93] room, containing two broken chairs for furniture. I felt that there were in the large city thousands of similar cases, but this one was brought home to me. I was young and impressionable—more than that, I had other people's money to be liberal with; so I called up the landlady, who, almost dumb with surprise, received the arrears of rent, along with a month in advance. Eliza, for that was her name, told me she could get work if she had clean clothes for herself and baby, which she could buy for £2. I gave her five, and giving her my address in New York, told her to find work and let me know how she got on. She did find work in an eel-pie shop in Red Lion Square, High Holborn. I saw her two years later in London, and possibly may refer to her again in this story.

I went down to Liverpool and embarked on the good ship Java. Ten days later we sailed through the Narrows.

During my last day in London I went to Westminster Abbey, and spent three hours in that Valhalla of the Anglo-Saxon race. It made a tremendous impression upon my mind. In no other work of human hands do the spirits of so many departed heroes linger, certainly in no other does the dust of so many of the great dead rest, and as I read memorial upon memorial to departed greatness I realized that the path of honor and of truth was the only one for men to tread. All through the voyage the influences of the Abbey were upon me; I felt I was treading on dangerous ground, and resolved I would have no more of it. Would I had then resolved, when I met Irving & Co., to throw all the plunder in their faces and say: "I'll have none of it, and here we part!" I felt that I ought to do that, but weakly said: "I need the $10,000, and I'll give the rogues their share and then see them no more." I had fully made up my mind to that, knowing Irving would be on the wharf, eager to meet me.[Pg 94]

In sailing through the Narrows and past Staten Island I was making up my mind as to the little speech I would make. We rapidly neared the wharf in Jersey City, and I quickly recognized Irving standing on the edge of the closely packed crowd, watching the steamer with a nervous look on his face. A rogue suspects every one, and although by this time he had become pretty well satisfied as to my good faith, no doubt he would be happier when he had his share of the plunder safe in his pocket. I was standing close to the rail between two ladies, and saw Irving before he saw me. Waving my handkerchief, his eye suddenly fell on me. With a smile and pointing significantly to my pocket, I gave him a salute. An eager look came into his face, and waving his hand he cried out: "I am glad to see you!" and no doubt he spoke the truth. When the gangplank was thrown ashore, and I saw him making his way toward it, evidently intending to board the steamer, I thought how surprised he would be when I told him I would have no more of his game. He sprang on board, rushed to me with a beaming face, grasped my hand, and putting the other on my shoulder, led me toward the gangway. He had not spoken yet, but as we were going down the gangplank he said: "My boy, you have done splendidly," and then, putting his mouth close to my ear, whispered: "We have got another job for you, and it's a beauty!"

I don't mean to pester my reader with a moral, or by too much moralizing, although I am tempted to do so. There is ample material for a course of sermons in that "we have another job for you" coming to me just then. But, leaving my reader to draw his own moral, I must go on with my narrative.

Going up the wharf with Irving, I was on the point of telling him I wanted no more jobs, but weakly put it off, and by so doing, of course, made it more difficult. He told me Stanley and White were waiting at Taylor's Hotel on[Pg 95] Montgomery street, a few doors up from the wharf. We soon were there, and they gave me a warm and even enthusiastic reception. Then I began to tell some of my adventures on the journey, to which they listened with unfeigned admiration, and, opening my bag, I produced the sixteen bills of exchange for $5,000 each, informing them they should have their cash in ninety minutes. It was curious to see these men handle the bills of exchange, passing them from one to another, examining them with anxious care. But where were my good resolutions, and what had become of them? Why, they, under the effect of the wine and the magnetic influence of these three minds, had gone flying down the bay, and under a favorable gale were fast speeding seaward beyond the ken of mortal eye, not to be found by me again until years after, when, with the toils about me, I found myself in Newgate. Then the fugitives all came back, this time to stay.

My three graces who adorned the Police Department of New York were full of matter of a new enterprise, which by my co-operation was to make the fortunes of us all. But they were too evidently anxious, too eagerly desirous to handle the greenbacks my bills of exchange represented, to fix their minds upon anything else.

Stanley and White went away together, but first each once more told me privately that he depended upon me to put in his own hands his share, showing how these rogues suspected each other, and, indeed, were full of suspicions of every one and every thing. Irving crossed the ferry with me, but on the New York side dropped behind, and, although I paid no more attention to him, no doubt he followed me. The excitement of success and of being at home again banished any possible regrets or fears over the course I had entered, and with a light heart and buoyant step I quickly made my way to a friend of mine, a well-known broker in New street, shook hands with him, and, telling him, very much to[Pg 96] his surprise, that I had just returned from Europe, asked him to step around the corner to the office of the bankers and identify me. In a minute we were there. Indorsing the drafts, I told them to make it in five-hundreds; they sent out to the bank for them, and I was speedily on my way to our rendezvous with 160 $500 greenbacks in a roll, and meeting the three at the wineroom I made their eyes grow big when I flashed the roll on their delighted orbs. The division was speedily made, I retaining $10,000 for my share, and each promptly threw out a thousand, and we shook hands all around and parted.

Here were four conspirators of us, and it was comical to see how anxious we all were to get away so that each could stow his plunder in a safe place. For my part I went home, but I shall say nothing of the meeting with the members of my family. I told them I had made a lot of money in a speculation, and not knowing the inside history, or suspecting anything, they rejoiced with me and were proud and happy for their boy. I spent about a thousand dollars making things comfortable for them, but to their grief I told them that circumstances required me to take up my former quarters at the St. Nicholas.

It would be interesting to tell of my reception among my acquaintances on Wall street and other parts of the city. Rumor magnified my resources, and it was reported I had cleared a hundred thousand dollars in some fortunate deal. It was strange to see the new-found deference all around, from my former employers down to my old waiter at downtown Delmonico's, where I dined; but I will pass over all these matters and proceed with my history of the Primrose Way.

The next few days I went about engaged in the to me very agreeable task of paying all my debts. The largest debt I was owing was one of $1,300, partly borrowed money and partly a long-standing balance due on a speculation nego[Pg 97]tiated on my account, and which did not pan out, but entailed a loss. Then I indulged pretty freely in many little extravagances in the way of tailor bills, etc. Two friends struck me for a loan, and, strange to say, both remain unpaid to this hour, along with some twenty-five years' interest. So, within a fortnight of my landing I found my $13,000 reduced quite one-half, and as I was cherishing visions of unbounded wealth, I began to feel quite poor, and anxious to see some outcome to this "other job" my friends said they had ready for me. It was at the very door.


[Pg 98]



Let no man who may be tempted to commit a crime ever fancy that if he takes the first step down hill he will stop until he reaches the bottom. If one of my readers flatters himself he can go one step, with no more to follow, on the downward road, let such an one read this story to the end and then forever abandon such an idea as a fancy born of inexperience. For this history is as a handwriting on the wall, full of warning to all and every one who may be tempted to take one step in any other path than the path of honor.

In 1865 there lived in London a famous Queen's Counsel, Edwin James. Fame and fortune were his. A born orator, a talented scholar, he rapidly pushed his way from the very bottom of the legal profession to all but its topmost height. At 40 he found himself facile princeps of the English Bar, and public opinion, that potent factor in popular government, had already singled him out for the high position of Attorney-General. That secured, only one step remained to place him in the seat of the Lord Chancellor. Truly, an imperial position—one that satisfied the proud ambition of a Wolsey and fitted the genius of a Thomas a Becket. It carries with it the position of keeper of the conscience of Her Majesty, giving the possessor precedence in all official functions over the English aristocracy, next to royalty itself.

But about this time dark whispers began to fly about through the clubs of London. Soon it became known that[Pg 99] Edwin James, the Lord Chancellor to be, was in the toils, and it shortly transpired that, in spite of the fact that his income from his profession was nearer twenty than ten thousand pounds per annum, it had proved insufficient and he was heavily in debt, and worse.

It would seem he was keeping up what in the polite language of society are known as dual houses. A woman of brilliant beauty presided over one, and the marvelous beauty of its mistress was only equaled by her extravagance. He also had a fondness for associating with younger men than himself, and had got into a particularly fast set of young lords and army men. At his club he had lost large sums at baccarat and loo, and, in an unhappy hour for himself and his, he stooped from his high position and—miserable to think of—committed a crime. This, in the expectation that he would relieve himself from some of the more crushing obligations he had heaped upon himself, either through the extravagant vagaries of his imperious mistress, or by his own rashness in trying his luck among a lot of titled sharpers. He had among his clients one fast, even madly extravagant youth, heir of an historic name and of a lordly estate. To supply his extravagance "my lord" had applied to the money lenders—those sharks that in London, as elsewhere, fatten on such game. These gentry were eager to lend the young blood money upon what are known in English law as post-obits, which loans in this particular case carried the trifling interest of about 100 per cent. per annum. James was cognizant of his friend's excursions among the money lenders, and no doubt he thought the young spendthrift, when he came into his fortune, would never know within a good many thousands how much he had borrowed, nor even the number of post-obits he had given.

I will just explain that a post-obit is a form of note or due bill given by the heir of an estate (usually of an entailed estate), which matures the moment the drawer of the docu[Pg 100]ment enters into that estate. That is to say, the tender-hearted son discounts his father's death to provide fuel to feed his flame. So Edwin James, driven to his own destruction, stooped from his imperial position into what one might call ankle-depth of crime.

How little he dreamed there was a beyond—a huge, seething sea of crime; an ocean whose billows are of ink, and which would soon sweep him from his high place into the black waters, there to be buffeted until, honor and hope all gone, he would, throwing his hands to heaven, with one despairing cry, sink into its inky depths, adding one more ruined life to the millions already engulfed. In that long, sad catalogue of the dead there is probably not one, who, when taking the first step into crime, ever thought a second would follow the first.

But to come back to our gilded sir. He made out two post-obits for £5,000, wrote his client's name at the bottom of each, gave them to the money lenders, who, never doubting that the prodigal son had signed and given them to his counsel, made no question, but gave James the money for them at once. But James had reckoned without his host, for this nineteenth century prodigal was made of keener metal than he of the first. Strange to say, and utterly unexpected as it was to all who knew him and had looked upon his riotous living, he kept his books straight, and knew to a single guinea how much and to whom he was owing.

His discovery of the forgery was accelerated by the sudden and most unexpected death of his father, his return home and stepping into his estate.

The various post-obits were presented and placed before him. He instantly pronounced the two for five thousand pounds each to be forgeries, and the crime was easily laid at the door of the Queen's Counsel. The heir indignantly refused to condone the offense, and, revealing the fatal secret to a few, within a month it was known in every clubroom in[Pg 101] London. From there it got into the newspapers, and they, under a thinly disguised alias of a "distinguished member of the Bar," gave more or less accurate details of the damning truth. His former client eventually said he would not prosecute the forgery if the criminal left England; if not, he would immediately go before the Grand Jury, procure an indictment, and have this man, who had moved a prince among men, arraigned in the dock at the Old Bailey, there to plead and stand trial like any common criminal.

And he fled. Of course, like all fugitives from justice throughout the Old World, he looked to America for a city of refuge, and here he came. Not to keep my readers too long from the main narrative, it will suffice to say that soon after his arrival he applied for admission to the Bar of New York, but first he won to his cause the high-souled Richard O'Gorman, then a leader of his profession.

It was for Edwin James a lucky stroke, for at this time O'Gorman was in full possession of his magnificent powers. Few could resist his magic. His great heart was stirred, and he took up the cause of his friend as if he had been his brother. The English lawyer's reputation was known to every member of the Bar of New York, and there had been and still was a bitter opposition to his admission; but when it became known that their eloquent leader was his champion, many began to feel that after all "the poor fellow ought to be given another chance," and when at the next meeting of the Bar Association O'Gorman in a set oration brought all his splendid eloquence into play the cause was won.

Great-hearted O'Gorman had helped this lame dog over the stile, but the dog's heart was not in the right place, and, as my reader will see in the sequel, he soon went lame again. * * *

In the rear room of a somewhat luxurious range of offices in a building on Broadway, facing the City Hall, four men[Pg 102] were engaged in discussing what was evidently an exciting topic. The door of the main office bore the sign "Edwin James, Counselor-at-Law and Register in Bankruptcy." He was one of the four. He had failed lamentably in his efforts to secure a practice. The effects of O'Gorman's eloquence had in the gray light of commonplace day faded away, the more so when the ideal his magic had created in the minds of men was in hourly contrast with the man himself and his history. His professional brethren looked upon him with suspicion, and there was a general impression abroad that his escapades were not over yet.

He had launched out in his office and home somewhat extravagantly, and now, once again pressed by clamorous creditors, he had once more drifted upon the borderlands of crime, and was here with his companions planning a criminal transaction in order to pay his more pressing debts.

One of these four was Brea, who, with a keen eye to business, had married the discarded daughter of a wealthy but not over-respectable New York family, and he had, unsuspected, pulled the wires so that James had been employed as the family lawyer, and in that capacity had drawn the will of the mother. She was an imperious, hot-tempered body, one who, when aroused, was accustomed to use language more vigorous than polite, and who not infrequently went to fisticuffs with her daughters. The husband and father, the creator of the fortune, was dead and the vast family property, in securities, stocks and lands, was vested absolutely in the mother. In the old lady's will Brea's wife, the second daughter of the house (there were no sons), was down in the very first paragraph for the magnificent sum of "one dollar lawful currency," and her name nowhere else appeared in the lengthy document. The old lady was such a termagant and so implacable in her hatreds that it was a moral certainty she would never relent and change her purpose toward her daughter. But James had also drawn up a second will of[Pg 103] his own and Brea's concoction, and a precious piece of villainy it was, in which the wife was down for legacies amounting; to $750,000. The genuine will James kept in his own possession, ready to destroy the very moment word came that the old lady was an immortal, while the spurious will was kept in the vaults of the Safety Deposit Company, there to remain until the death of the testatrix, when, of course, it would in due time be produced.


Brea had been introduced to the other three men, and cultivated their acquaintance in the belief that they would some day be useful to him. He had a few days before introduced them to James. As a matter of precaution he had concealed from them all knowledge of the will. At the same time he gave them a hint that there was something in the wind, but that some way must be found to secure at once a few thousands, enough for a year or two, until the good time came when fortune was to lavish her favors on them all with a liberal hand. But money must be had at once, for Brea and James were in sore straits, particularly James, who had been threatened with arrest, and was so far involved that he always entered and left his house at night in order to escape importunate creditors. This was James' second interview with the men, and the first time he had been alone with them. He saw at once that he had to do with able, clear-headed men, took them into his confidence, and, in order to excite their hopes and to bind them to him as well, he confided to them the plot of the forged will, producing the genuine for their inspection. He assured them that it was a sure and speedy fortune, as the lady was old and frail in health, and he also promised they should share between them $100,000, provided they would stand by to give a hand in the somewhat improbable event of the other heirs disputing the will, but above all, if they would devise some means to furnish him at once $10,000, or at least $5,000. Money he must have, and he could no longer do without it.[Pg 104]

The result of our conference in James' office was that the very next day an office downtown was engaged under a fictitious name, and a simple, unsuspicious fellow hired as porter and messenger. After some little negotiation, we obtained particulars of parties banking with the then great firm of Jay Cooke & Company, corner of Wall and Nassau streets. Briefly told, the result was that four days later a messenger walked into their banking house with a check for $20,000, purporting to be signed by another firm, who banked with them. Along with the check went a letter bearing a signature well known to the cashier, asking him to pay the check to bearer. The result of all being that five minutes thereafter we were walking unconcernedly up Broadway, and sending a message to James to meet us at Delmonico's, corner of Broadway and Chambers street, we sat down awaiting his arrival. He had anxiously been looking for news, and almost before we had seated ourselves he entered, eager and anxious-looking; but, when he glanced at our faces, a happy expression came over his own, and without a word he put out his hand. After a warm greeting, I produced the roll, and, to his delight, I handed over to James ten five hundreds. On the morrow I went to the office, and, paying my messenger a week's wages, besides making a small gift, told him he need not come any more.

With this twenty thousand coup we fondly thought all our troubles and all our unlawful acts were ended. We now had a few thousands, sufficient to last until the $5,000 we had invested in the will case should bring in a dividend that would mean a fortune for us all. So we took things easy about town, and altogether thought ourselves pretty good fellows, and this world a very good sort of place to be in.

Thus the Winter passed by and the Summer was at hand. Our thousands of the year before had dwindled to hundreds, and the old lady whose heirs we had constituted ourselves[Pg 105] seemed to have renewed her youth, and threatened to outlive us all.

Besides this there had grown up a repugnance in our minds to the business, and when one day my friend Mac remarked it was a scoundrelly business to rob the heirs of an estate, and they women, George and I heartily acquiesced; and we vowed we would take no part in the matter, and then and there resolved we would throw both James and Brea over, but first to use Brea and James for our own purposes. Once more we found ourselves planning a coup in Wall street. Talking the matter over, we three soon had a plan, and, being dowered with intense energy, it promised a successful termination. Audaciously enough we determined the lightning should strike once more in the same place—that is, to make Jay Cooke & Company again the victims. Irving and his honest fellows were to co-operate by watching everything, and, if any arrest threatened, to be on hand to make it themselves; and then let the prisoner escape. Most important of all, when the bankers drove up in hot haste to Police Headquarters to give information, James, Honest James, would be on hand to receive them, would call in his two trustys to get with him full particulars of the robbery and a description of the men. Then the bankers would be sent away with assurances that "we know the men and will have them," but at the same time warning them to keep the matter a secret in order better to enable them to catch the villains.

If successful, the detectives were to receive 25 per cent. between them. Our plan required James to play an important part, and, although no confederacy could be fixed on him, yet he would hardly escape questioning and a very considerable degree of suspicion, so much so that it probably would put an end to any lingering remnants of character he had on hand or in stock. But he was tired of America, and determined to go to Paris with his share of the plunder.[Pg 106] Our visits to James had always been in his private office, and his clerks had never seen either of us or Brea.

Our plan was to make use of James' office in a way that will appear later. As related, he was suspected by his profession, but the general public thought him a very great man. He had appeared as (volunteer) counsel in two or three murder cases and had delivered powerful addresses which had attracted considerable notice in the papers.

One day, soon after our plan was matured, Brea went to Philadelphia, and, by a mixture of audacity and finesse, procured from Jay Cooke himself (the parent house of the New York firm of Jay Cooke & Co. was in Philadelphia) a letter of introduction to the manager of the New York firm. He wanted the letter ostensibly in order to consult the manager about certain investments which he, as executor of an estate, desired to make for his wards.

[Pg 107]
[Pg 108]

The transaction was made to appear as one of considerable magnitude, in which there would be large commissions paid. With the grand send-off of a letter from Jay Cooke to his subordinate in New York, the speculation opened well—so well that we at once decided what we would do with the money when we got it—a case in point for the old proverb. We had ascertained the name of a Newark manufacturer who had recently failed in business. I will call him Newman. On the morning after his return from Philadelphia, Brea presented himself at James' office—it being arranged that James himself be out, so Brea told the clerk that his name was Newman, that he had lately failed in business, and intended to employ Mr. James to put him through the bankruptcy court. The clerk told him to come again at 12, and he would find Mr. James in. At 12 he came; the clerk introduced him. James kept the clerk conveniently near, that he could hear the conversation. Brea, as Newman, told James he had used in his business $240,000 belonging to his wife and her mother, and that in scheduling his assets he proposed to use[Pg 109] enough to make those amounts good, intending to conceal the fact from his creditors. He determined to invest the amount in bonds—so ran his story—and was going to deposit the money in the bank that very afternoon, at the same time producing his letter of introduction from Jay Cooke. All of this, of course, being for the eye and ear of the clerk, who might be required as a witness of his employer's good faith.


Brea-Newman also paid James, in presence of the clerk, a retaining fee of $250, which was privately returned. James banked in Jersey City, and when Newman said, "Introduce me at your bank, as I want a small credit handy," James said, "My bank is in Jersey City." The clerk's brother was paying teller at the Chemical Bank, and, as was expected, he at once spoke up, saying: "Let me introduce Mr. Newman in the Chemical Bank," so down went Newman and the clerk, and in ten minutes our man had the Chemical Bank checkbook in his pocket and $5,000 to his credit in the bank. The same afternoon he presented his letter of introduction at Jay Cooke & Co.'s, and was cordially received. He, of course, told a totally different story there. In this case a relative, lately deceased, had left him an estate of great value. He was, he said, realizing on his real estate, and buying bonds as fast as his money came in, and he wanted to invest a million in various railway bonds. At present he had $240,000 on hand, which he wanted to invest in Government bonds. He then left for the time being, leaving a good impression, which his refined manner and appearance confirmed.

So far all was well; that is, all was well from our point of view. The next two or three days Brea paid several visits to the Chemical Bank, getting small checks for $500 and $1,000 certified, and now had his account drawn down to $1,000. The day before he had called on Jay Cooke & Co. and told them he would take $240,000 in seven thirties, "Bearer" bonds, and that he would call the next day and pay[Pg 110] for them. At the same time he got them to give him a proforma bill for them.

The eventful day had come, and James, to get his head clerk out of the way, sent him to the Admiralty Court to take notes of the evidence in a case going on there.

At 10 o'clock Brea sent a messenger with a note to the bankers, requesting them to send the bonds to Edwin James' office, and he would pay for them on delivery. He could not come himself, as he was in consultation with the executors of the estate.

In the mean time a check for the full value of the bonds, $240,000, had been made out. It was drawn on the Chemical Bank, and was, in fact, similar to those always given between bankers on bond transactions.

Brea had drawn his own check for $240, and had it in his hatband with the $240,000 dummy check. The plan is palpable enough. When the messenger brought the bonds Brea, or Newman, was going to say: "All right, I have the check here; bring the bonds and we will go to the Chemical Bank and get them to certify my check." Then when at the bank he would take out both checks, letting the messenger only get a glimpse of one, and that would be the small $240 one, which Brea would pass in through the window with a request to have it certified. This would be done, and when handed out, of course, Brea was to change it and hand the messenger the big one of home manufacture.

It seemed impossible for the scheme to fail, and success in it meant on the surface comparative wealth for us all, with, perhaps, in the not distant future an entrance through the McAllister-guarded portals of the Four Hundred.

But here we have a vivid instance of how easily an elaborate scheme can by the merest accident fall to pieces.

The night before the expected coup we met James for a final full-dress rehearsal for the morrow, and after everything was settled adjourned to the uptown Delmonico's for supper.[Pg 111] It so happened that Detective George Elder was there. This Elder was a bright fellow, was in a ring—but not in our ring—and, of course, had his bank account, diamond pin and turnout for the road. He had had some acquaintance with me, but the rest of the party were strangers. I did not see him at the time, but it would seem he was curious, even suspicious, from some scraps of conversation he overheard. However, neither his curiosity nor suspicion would have been of any consequence or concern to us had it not been that, in going out, Brea left on the table with some papers the memorandum or pro forma bill of the bonds given him the day before by the bankers. Strangely enough, the body of the bill alone was intact. The heading bearing the name of the firm and purchaser had been torn off and destroyed.

Elder picked it up and, having some vague suspicions of a plot somewhere, he determined to go around among the hundred or more bankers and brokers in and around Wall street and investigate quietly, without making any report to his superiors, his immediate superior being, of course, our honest friend, the worthy chief of the detective force, who was anxiously looking for his percentage of the deal. The whole force was split up into cliques, each intensely jealous of every other, each with its own stamping grounds, and each strictly protected his own preserves.

At 9:30 the next morning Elder started around carrying the fragment of the memorandum he had picked up from bank to bank and from one broker to the other. He had spent over an hour making inquiries, and walked into Jay Cooke & Co.'s office just as the messenger was leaving with the bonds for James' office. Fifteen minutes more and the game was ours! Elder produced the memorandum, and they at once recognized it as their own. Elder asked them if they knew their man and were sure it was all right. They said it was perfectly right, that Mr. "Newman" had been introduced by the head of the firm in Philadelphia, and was[Pg 112] also a client of Edwin James; but then it was strange the bill should be mutilated. Elder averred his belief that a fraud was intended, and suggested that he and the manager should accompany the messenger with the bonds. This alarmed the manager, and he directed Elder and the messenger to await his return. Seizing his hat, he started for James' office to investigate. James was there, and Brea (the pseudo Newman) was in the private office with the two checks ready, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the messenger with the bonds.

Myself and all the other members of our party were nearby, watching and awaiting developments. The manager, considerably perturbed, entered the office, and James saw at once the business was a failure, for he knew, of course, that any suspicion as to good faith would be fatal to the success of the plot. Brea, hearing the voices and supposing it was the messenger with the bonds, opened the door of the private office and was vexed to see the manager, who, shaking him by the hand, told him the bonds would arrive soon, at the same time saying: "I suppose you will pay currency for the bonds?" To which Brea replied: "I will go to my bank with you now and get my check certified for the amount and give it to you, or leave it until the messenger comes with the bonds."

This offer, along with Brea's coolness, apparently disarmed all suspicions, and he said: "Oh, all right, the messenger will go to the bank with you." He left the office, but stopped in the hall for a moment, then turned and hastily re-entering, said: "By the way, Mr. Newman, please draw the currency from the bank, and pay the notes to the messenger upon delivery of the bonds."

So the grand coup had failed, ignominiously failed, and through what appeared a trivial accident. More such "accidents" at critical periods will appear before this history is ended.[Pg 113]

The dummy check was still in our hands, and was at once destroyed, so, with nothing to fear, we coolly walked up Broadway to dinner, and talked of the future over a bottle of wine. At last we fixed upon a definite plan. Clinking our glasses, we drank to "Eastward, Ho!"


[Pg 114]



The Eastward Ho was a hint of a project we had frequently talked over as a possible speculation. Here we see how men are led on step by step from bad to worse when once they set out on the Primrose Way.

In returning from Europe with the $10,000 commission in my pocket, I vowed never again to engage in any unlawful speculation. I was through! No criminal life for me! Then came the day when we struck for the $20,000 and won, and we were all happy in the thought that our last unlawful deed was over.

Then we took the third step we had vowed never to take, and had discussed the $240,000 project. We had spent money on it, had laid our plans cunningly and deep, and were confident of success. We had even planned how to invest our thousands in an honest business, and so win the esteem of all good men, and, of course, in some happy future would make restitution. But that is a future which never comes in the history of crime. These three wrong steps had been taken only after convincing ourselves that the circumstances justified each separate act.

Such is the contradiction of human nature that even when planning crime we not only intended to make restitution, but despised all other wrongdoers and reprobated their[Pg 115] crimes. Each wrongful act of ours was to be the last, and it was with something like despair that we began to realize that there was no stopping place on the dangerous road we were treading.

My $13,000 commission from the European trip had melted away. Our share of the $20,000 got from Jay Cooke & Co. was fast going. Our deep-laid plot to win $240,000 had miscarried, and now the necessity was upon us of engaging in another illegitimate operation if we would continue in our life of ease and luxury.

For the next few days we did little but dine and plan. Discussion followed discussion, and through them all we clung to the general proposition that we would not do any more in our particular line in America. At last we resolved to go to Europe and realize the fortune that seemed to elude our grasp at home.

We resolved to tell Irving in a general way that we were going to Europe to make some money, and would pay him and his two fellows their percentage. Then we could (apparently) work with impunity; for, of course, if we committed a forgery in Europe and were recognised as Americans—as probably we would be—the foreign police would report the case to the New York police—that is, to Irving—and we should be safe in New York.

Edwin James and Brea had dropped out of our lives for good, but as my readers will be curious to know of their fate in after times, I will relate it in this chapter.

The morning our scheme on Jay Cooke & Co. fell to pieces, as soon as the manager left the office, telling Brea he was to pay cash for the bonds in place of the check, it was recognized at once that the game was up, and the only thing remaining was to shield James as much as possible. So Brea left the office, but first instructed the clerk to tell the messenger when he came that he had gone for the money, and would call for the bonds. This was done, the messenger ar[Pg 116]rived, being accompanied by Detective Elder all the time, and took the bonds back again.

At 2 o'clock James went down to the bankers, where he was well known, and inquired for Mr. Newman. Being told he was not in, he said he had made an appointment to meet him there. Invited into the inner office, the manager asked him if he had any personal knowledge of this Mr. Newman, and James said no further than that he had called and given him a retaining fee of $250, and had engaged him as legal adviser, etc. Then the manager produced a telegram he had received in answer to one he had sent to the Philadelphia house, inquiring about Newman, and asking if his letter of introduction was genuine or not. James read the reply; it said the letter was genuine, but that they knew absolutely nothing about the man, and warned him to be cautious. James pretended astonishment, and feigned to be very indignant, declaring that if Mr. Newman did not put in an appearance within half an hour he should begin to fear a fraud had been attempted. When the closing hour came at 3 o'clock, the manager announced to James that he should give the whole matter to the press, but would keep his name out of it.

So they parted with warm congratulations over their escape, the manager pretending to believe James was an innocent tool, but no doubt with a shrewd suspicion that he intended to have a finger in this pie, had the pie ever been baked and divided. Had the bankers been victimized they would have striven with all their power to keep the fact a secret and forbidden their employees to breathe a word about it to any one. But now the case was different. All the morning papers had long accounts of the transaction. They were absurdly inaccurate, but all agreed as to the extreme cleverness of the manager, and noticed how he had suspected, etc., while poor Elder, who both expected and really deserved all the glory, was not even mentioned in the news[Pg 117]paper accounts. However, his feelings were soon after solaced, as Irving informed us that Elder had stood in on a deal that paid him well.

The $5,000 we gave James eased up matters for a time. Practice he had none, but managed to hold on in the hope of realizing on the Brea will matter, but getting deeper and deeper in debt. One night, four years later, the old lady, Brea's mother-in-law, had a more than usually furious outbreak of temper, and fell to beating the three daughters still living with her. Before it was over she had attacked and seriously injured the eldest, and then flew to her room in a passion. Not appearing at breakfast the next morning her daughter went to her room, but she was not there, and the bed was undisturbed. Going to the room that served for office and library, they found the door, as usual, locked. Bursting it open the poor old maids found their mother huddled in a corner of the room dead.

Truly a happy relief for the daughters. Poor girls, theirs had been a hard life. Every suitor who tried to cultivate their acquaintance had been driven from the door by the mother, who never spent a dollar on their education, and her death found them all unused to the ways of the world. The result was that all became victims of fortune-hunters, and the unhappy ladies only changed the tyranny of an unnatural mother for the tyranny of a husband, who in each case wedded for wealth alone, and all three husbands were uncultured men. What an experience! Two of the three still live. How sweet the rest of the grave will be to them!

The genuine will was destroyed and the "family lawyer," James, immediately after the funeral, produced and read "the last will and testament" of the dead woman. The four sisters and a host of poor relations were present at the reading. When Sarah, Brea's wife, heard her name read as chief heir of the vast estate, she was stunned, but if she was stunned, the rest of the family were paralyzed. Legacies[Pg 118] were left to many, small in amount, save in the case of the other three sisters, who were to have a certain tenement and land in Harlem and three thousand a year for life out of the estate. None of those present thought for a moment of questioning either the genuineness of the will or the validity of the testaments, save only a poor relation, a nephew, whose name was down for $500. He was indignant with the old lady and loudly declared that he would not put up with it. The next day he employed a briefless lawyer, one that had wit and brass enough and who had his way to make in the world, and was determined to make it.

Without waiting for the will to be probated or having legal authority to do so, Brea and his wife, the very day of the funeral, moved into the house and took possession. But before the week was out he had persuaded the three old maids that they would be happier if away from the scene of their parent's death, so he had them installed in their own house at Harlem, he remaining in undisturbed possession, waiting only for the will to be probated in order to take possession of upward of $200,000 in cash and bonds still in the custody of the old lady's bank. He had full possession of the house, and with entire confidence waited to be put in legal possession of all. But little did he dream that at that moment there was one poor torn sheet of foolscap in the library, casually thrust in a book, lying completely at his mercy to destroy, if he could only have known it, which was going to tear all his wealth from his grasp and drive him forth a foiled plotter, to become an adventurer and ultimately to perish a miserable outcast.

The executors of the will (the same in the forged will as in the genuine) were two simple shopkeepers living near. Eagan was the name of the nephew, and to the surprise of the executors his attorney notified them he should contest the will on behalf of his client, and warned them to dispossess Brea of the house until such time as the law decreed it to[Pg 119] be his wife's property. The attorney knew the standing of James in his profession, and, being capable of pretty sharp practice himself, he, by some extraordinary intuition, boldly asserted his belief that the will was a forgery. The three sisters declared they would not contest the will, and had Brea acted wisely by fixing it up to give the attorney a liberal fee, and Eagan a paltry thousand dollars, it would have ended there. But, feeling perfectly secure, no doubt he thought an appearance of firmness would strengthen his position still more, and he was so rash as to denounce the attorney as a shyster and blackmailer.

The attorney's blood was up; he frightened the sisters into supporting him in disputing the will, and had Brea and his wife ousted from the house and the sisters reinstalled. Brea then attempted negotiations with the attorney. Cautious as he was, he said enough to convince the lawyer that for some reason he did not want the case to come before the courts; still the attorney was half inclined to join hands with Brea. In the mean time Ezra (this was the name of the man of law) had acquired great power over the sisters, and they all looked to him both as champion and protector. He resolved to be protector to one, at least, paying assiduous court to Jane, the youngest. Although past 30 and without education or accomplishments, she was warm-hearted and extremely sentimental, and a thrill went through her tender heart when it became evident that Ezra's attention pointed at her. She quickly made him a hero, and invested the thin-shanked, narrow-chested, waspish attorney with a thousand tender attributes, and when, after one month's acquaintance, she found herself alone with him in the poky little parlor and he asking her to be his wife, her woman's heart overflowed, and telling him she had loved him from the first hour they met she threw herself into his arms, crying she was the happiest and most favored woman in the world. In the midst of the happy lovers' talk she ran to the shelf, took down a[Pg 120] book, and, opening it, revealed a soiled sheet of paper and asked her lover what it was. His love had given him a gift, indeed. His trained eye recognized it at once as a draft of a new will, in the handwriting of the deceased mother, and dated the very night of her death. It was a rough draft, but across the bottom was drawn the bold, masculine signature of the old lady. There were no signatures of witnesses, but Ezra was lawyer enough to know it would stand and that it revoked all previous wills. Calling in the two elder sisters he read the will to their amazed ears, and then and there wrote out a full statement as to the circumstance under which it was found. All four attached their signatures to the document, and when Ezra kissed his love a tender good night and went home, he hardly felt the paving stones under his feet, for he had carefully tucked away in the inside pocket of his vest, just over his heart, the little soiled piece of paper which told him in unmistakable terms that his fortune was made, and the wedding ceremony once over, that it was beyond all chance of change.

It would seem that the old lady, after her quarrel with her daughters, went to the library in a rage and made the draft of a new will. The chief change in it, as compared with the old genuine will which the conspirators had destroyed, was that it was more favorable to Jane, Ezra's wife to be. But what gave Ezra the greatest satisfaction was the fact that Brea's wife was down by name in the new will for one dollar lawful currency. The will was promptly filed and probated. Ezra gave bonds and was appointed one of the executors, and he had what to him was the immense satisfaction of denouncing Brea to his face as a forger and villain.

Before the discovery of the new will, while it was believed that Mrs. Brea was an heiress and her credit good, she and her husband had made use of the fact, and had incurred debts to a large amount. Brea got his wife to indorse his note for $10,000, and he borrowed that sum from the bankers,[Pg 121] but as soon as the true state of the case was known, his creditors became clamorous and had him arrested on civil suits. Unable to give bonds, he was locked up in Ludlow Street Jail, and there he remained six months, until, acting upon Ezra's advice, the sisters agreed to pay all his debts and give him and his wife $1,000 each if they would live west of Chicago. This they were forced to accept, and went to Montana. Brea opened a saloon at Butte City, but he never recovered his spirits again. He became his own best customer, and that, of course, meant ruin, but what, after all, killed him was the knowledge that he had been for more than a score of days in full possession of that old house and had spent scores of hours alone in the old library, and yet had not discovered and destroyed the new will lying there at his mercy.

The Sheriff soon sold out his saloon, while his wife eloped with his best friend. Ruined in pocket, health and character, poor old Brea was left bare to every storm that blew. One morning, as the sun was rising over the town, surprising half a dozen belated gamblers in Ned Wright's saloon as they were getting up to leave, they found lying across the threshold the body of a man, ragged, emaciated, forlorn. It was Brea.

As soon as James had read the will he insisted upon having $5,000 from Brea at once, and he got the money. But when that thunderbolt of the new will fell on the two men, James sadly recognized that fortune and he would shake hands no more, so far as this world is concerned, and he resolved to chance returning to London before the whole of the $5,000 he had from Brea was gone. To London he went; he lived a few years in extreme poverty, driven to all manner of miserable shifts, and at last died. This man died who ought to have been buried in Westminster Abbey, so adding one more brilliant name to the long line of illustrious Lord Chancellors from Thomas a Becket and Cardinal Wol[Pg 122]sey down; but he, hating his own soul, took the first step in wrongdoing, and, instead of resting in the mighty Abbey and bequeathing his dust as a precious legacy to succeeding generations, perished forlorn and alone, and was buried in a pauper's grave.


[Pg 123]



We all landed in Liverpool in the highest spirits, and at once took the train for London, enjoying the novelty of everything.

It was settled that George should pursue the venture alone in France, while I should go with Mac to Germany to act as his second there. To keep entirely clear myself, but at the same time to watch everything, to exchange the German notes he obtained and to be ready to help if any one should attempt to detain him.

Therefore, after completing certain preparations which required skill and considerable business knowledge, we departed to execute this new and, of course, last shuffle for fortune.

We had selected Berlin, Munich, Leipsic and Frankfort as the scenes of our operations in Germany. In France we sought to operate in Bordeaux, Marseilles and Lyons. At 8 p.m. Saturday we all crossed to Calais together, where George said good-bye, and, leaving us to take the train eastward to Berlin, he started west to Bordeaux. We were not to meet again until after our hurried rush through the Continent and our return to London with the proceeds. Before I give an account of Mac's adventure and my own for the next three days I will here give George's narrative in his own language, as related to us when we all met again in London:

After saying good-bye to you I arrived in Paris in due[Pg 124] time, and sauntered about for two hours until the train left for Bordeaux, where I arrived at 8 o'clock Monday morning, and went at once to the Hotel d'Orient, and after a bath and breakfast repaired to the bankers. As soon as I presented my letters of introduction they received me with the greatest consideration, lavishing every attention upon me, inviting me to dinner and to a drive through the city afterward. I thanked them, and[Pg 125] explained that I was obliged to decline, as my agent was waiting for me at Bayonne, where I had purchased some real estate, and, having been recommended to their firm, I should feel obliged if they would cash my draft for £2,000 and indorse it on my letter of credit. The manager replied that it was the custom of the French bankers to require twenty-four hours' notice before drawing a check, and asked me if the next day would not answer. "We shall be happy to assist you," said he, "in passing the time pleasantly." This was a new custom to me, but I[Pg 126] answered instantly, expressing regret that the nature of my business precluded delay, it being necessary that I should reach Bayonne that night. "I suppose," continued I, "that your bankers will not mind your checking out a small sum without the usual notice. However, if it occasions any embarrassment or inconvenience, I can easily procure the money elsewhere." One of the partners replied that their bank would without doubt honor their check, and the matter should be attended to at once. I sat down for a half hour, conversing on a variety of topics. Of course, this was a most trying period to me; the least show of haste or anxiety might have betrayed me to those lynx-eyed, experienced men of business. In the midst of our conversation an undercurrent of thought kept running through my mind thus: "Who knows but they have sent a dispatch to the Union Bank of London, merely as a matter of business precaution, and that they are delaying me to get a reply? In that case I shall have a good opportunity to learn the pure French accent[Pg 127] while passing my days in the Bagnio at Toulon." At last, however, the amount was paid over to me in French bank notes. I deliberately counted them and took leave, lighter in mind and heavier in purse by 50,000 francs.

London in 1873, in official costume. THE RIGHT HONORABLE SIR SIDNEY WATERLOW, Lord Mayor of London in 1873, in official costume.

I had arranged that I would send all the money I obtained to the Queen's Hotel, London, by post at the earliest possible moment after receiving it, that in the event of any accident to myself the money should be safe.

After receiving the money I inclosed it in a large envelope, addressing it to the hotel in London. I also wrote on the envelope: "Echantillons de papier" (i. e., samples of paper), after which I threw it into the postoffice.

As I wished to reduce the risk as much as possible (the train for Marseilles not leaving for three hours), I took a carriage and told the driver to take me toward the next station on the way to that city. After we were fairly out in the country I got outside and sat with the driver, chatting with him about the country we were driving through, arriving in the village about half an hour before the train from Bordeaux was due. I dismissed my driver at a small village cabaret (tavern), walked to the station, got aboard the train, and early the next morning was in Marseilles. I breakfasted at the Hotel d'Europe, and looked over the papers to see if the Bordeaux fraud had been discovered. As I could see no indication of it, about 10 a.m. I took a carriage and went to call on Messrs. Brune & Co.

On making myself known I was, as usual, received with the utmost courtesy, began to talk business, and one of the firm got into my carriage and rode with me to his bank to effect the sale of my draft on London for the sum of £2,500. Arriving at the bank I took a seat in the front office, while Mr. Brune went into the manager's room to introduce the transaction; the clerks eyed me, as I thought, suspiciously, but doubtless only curiously, because they perceived I was a foreigner. Another thing which I noticed sent a shiver[Pg 128] through me. After Mr. Brune had been a few minutes in the manager's room, the bank porter stepped to the outer door, closed and locked it. It being but 12 o'clock, I imagined the precautionary measure must be due to my presence. "The Bordeaux affair is discovered and has been telegraphed all over France," was my first thought; "all is over with me. I am a candidate for a French prison, sure."

These and a thousand other thoughts flashed through my mind during the quarter of an hour preceding Mr. Brune's reappearance with his hands full of bank notes. I could hardly believe my eyes. I had suppressed all signs of the internal hurricane which raged during those prolonged moments of suspense.

Now the revulsion of feeling was so great that I nearly fainted. However, by a mental effort, I recovered my self-possession and effectually masked all inward convulsions.

Mr. Brune placed in my hands 62,000 francs, in notes of the Bank of France, and we then descended to the carriage and drove to my hotel, where we parted. I paid my bill, and at once made preparations to start for Lyons, which was to be the next and last scene of my operations in France.

As my train did not leave for three hours, I got into a carriage at some distance from the hotel and was driven toward the next station, located on the beautiful bay a few miles from Marseilles.

After driving along the shore of the bay for some miles I remember we met two women, dressed in the quaint costume common to that part of the country, each carrying a basket of eggs. I stopped the carriage and endeavored to enter into conversation with the pair, but could not understand a word of their patois. I then took a couple of eggs, handed out a silver franc piece, and drove on, leaving two astonished women standing in the road, gazing alternately at the piece of money and at the back of my carriage. Arriving at the station I found it would be an hour and a half to[Pg 129] train time, and driving to a hotel on the shore I ordered dinner to be served in the upper room of a two-story tower overlooking the bay, with Marseilles in the distance. After dining I strolled along the beach, looking at some queer fish not found north of the Mediterranean, their colors vying in brilliancy with the plumage of tropical birds. Returning to the station I took a ticket for Lyons, stopping off at Arles about sunset, as I wished to see the amphitheatre and other relics of the Roman occupation.

I remained in Arles till midnight, then took the train, arriving in Lyons at 9 the next morning. Repairing to the Hotel de Lyons I had breakfast, and on looking over the papers became satisfied that as yet no discovery had been made. Therefore, I resolved to carry out my third and last financial enterprise and then return to London with all speed.

I called a carriage and drove at once to the establishment of Messrs. Coudert & Co. I sat near the desk, conversing with the head of the firm, and opened a dispatch I sent from Arles, and, after reading, handed it to him, saying: "I see that I shall have use for 60,000 francs, and must ask you to cash a draft on my letter of credit for that amount." He immediately stepped to the safe, took out a bundle of 1,000 franc notes, and counting out sixty, gave them to me.

As it was almost certain that the Bordeaux fraud would soon be discovered, I determined, now that my risky work was completed, to attempt an immediate escape from France by way of Paris and Calais. I did not, therefore, take the train direct from Lyons to Paris, but engaged a carriage and drove back to a junction toward Marseilles. Here I took a train which intersects further to the northward with another road leading through Lyons to Paris. After going the roundabout route above described, I was back at the Lyons station at 9 p.m. in a train bound for Paris, where I arrived without further incident.[Pg 130]

The next morning (Sunday) as I left the railway station I thought detectives were watching me, but, in all probability, it was only the imagination of a guilty conscience. I was then wearing a full beard, and as a precautionary measure I, that morning, had all shaved off save the mustache. Not daring to leave Paris on the through express, which started at 3 o'clock p.m., nor to purchase a ticket to either Calais or London direct, I went to the station and took the noon accommodation train, which went no further toward Calais than Arras, a town some thirty miles from Paris. I arrived there about 1 p.m.

As it would be a couple of hours before the express train was due, I went to a small hotel and ordered dinner. To while away the time I took a stroll through the main street, where were many mothers and nurses with children, nice black-eyed French babies. As I was always a devoted lover of children and other small creatures, I stepped into a shop and bought a package of confectionery, which I distributed among the little ones and their smiling nurses, receiving therefor, almost invariably, the grateful exclamation, "Merci, Monsieur!" I gave some to children 8 and 10 years old, a crowd of whom soon gathered about me. Perceiving that I was attracting too much attention, it was clear that I must get rid of my young friends as soon as possible, or the police might also be attracted, and their presence would lead to unpleasant results in case the frauds had been discovered and inquiry was being made for an Englishman. Purchasing a second supply of candies I hastily gave them out, and with a "Restez ici, mes enfants," I passed through them and continued my walk up the street. Quite a number followed at a respectable distance, and I was cogitating how to double on them when I came to the gateway of the town cemetery, through which I hastily entered. The children remained outside and watched me as I walked up the slope and disappeared. At the rear of the cemetery I observed an old[Pg 131] man at work in the adjoining field. I climbed upon the stone wall, which instantly crumbled away, and I was landed on the old Frenchman's domain without leave, amidst a pile of stones. Startled by the racket, he looked up from his digging, and, seeing a stranger uprising from the ruins of the fence, began consigning him to "le diable," with a volley of vigorous French expletives delivered in peasant patois. I listened to him, much amused for a moment, and then held up a five-franc piece. As soon as he beheld it a wondrous change came over him. He eagerly seized the silver and straightway showed me to a lane which led almost directly to the railway station. I purchased a ticket for Calais and took the Sunday afternoon express, and here I am.


[Pg 132]



After we saw George off to Paris on the train Mac and I walked up and down the platform outside of the station, star-gazing. Mac, with his brilliant scholarship, elegant speech, logical force and fiery enthusiasm, made a most fascinating companion.

The study of mankind is man, the old proverb says, but like many other proverbs there is a full measure of unreality in it. It takes a good amount of arrogance and conceit for one to fancy he is going to study and understand men. No man can understand himself, and by no amount of experience or study will he ever come to understand that subtle thing he calls his mind or understand the motives that sway him.

I only wish one of those scientists who amuse themselves by pretending to study and understand human minds and motives could have sat in Mac's brain that night, have thought his thoughts and heard his speech, while remaining ignorant of our history and mission. Mac's mind was a storehouse of erudition, his memory a picture gallery, whose chambers were gilded and decorated with many a glowing canvas. As a child he was familiar with the Bible, the Old Testament particularly, and, improbable as it seems, was still a diligent student of Holy Writ. His mind was completely saturated with Bible imagery, yet there we were with our[Pg 133] pockets full of forged documents walking up and down that platform star-gazing, while he talked with intelligent enthusiasm of those silver flowers in the darkened sky, of stellar space, how in its infinity it proved the presence of Deity. That with him there was no great and no little. That a thought sweeping across the God-given mind of an infant was as wonderful and as much an evidence of power as the millioned arch of radiant suns in the milky way. While speeding through Belgium on our way to the Rhine, he continued until the sun shone upon the horizon. It was something to stir one's enthusiasm to see his sublime faith in the mighty destiny of man, and to listen to him tell of the dignity and grace of every human soul and his sure faith that all would be garnered in the mighty plains of heaven, and he meant and felt it all; yes, meant all he said, believed all he said, believed that he himself was a potent factor in the Divine economy, and, furthermore, believed it behooved every man to do all things, to be all things good and true, yet on this Sunday morning we were fast speeding to the scene of our contemplated schemes, and with light hearts looked forward to a speedy return to London, fairly well laden with plunder.

We talked the whole night through, or rather Mac talked and I listened, and it was a treat to be a listener, he being the speaker.

A period was put to his oration by the train stopping at Luxemburg, we being summoned to breakfast.

On resuming our journey we took a nap, and when we awoke we found ourselves nearing the Rhine; about noon we arrived at Cologne, and going to Uhlrich platz, drank a bottle of Tokay in a famous wine cellar there, then hurrying back to the station we traveled across the sandy plain that stretches from near the Prussian border to the capital. We arrived soon after dark, and Mac went at once to the Hotel Lion de Paris and registered. I waited across the street in the shadow of the Empress Palace. Mac soon came out,[Pg 134] and we went to dine in a large cafe. We enjoyed the novelty of the scene, and were never tired of marveling over the all-predominant militarism. Soldiers everywhere, all with good lungs and loud voices. We spent the evening seeing the town; at midnight we parted to meet and breakfast together at the cafe at 8. I then went to an obscure hotel and soon was in the land of dreams. In the morning I awoke with an anxious feeling, and found myself wishing it were night. At 8, the appointed time, I met Mac. He may possibly have felt some anxiety; if so, it was invisible.

When an honest man makes a mistake he has not only sympathy, but can always pick himself up again. With a rogue a mistake may easily be and almost always is fatal. We feared the unseen and the unexpected. Above all, our imagination magnified the danger while tormenting us with needless fears. In Germany the banks open at 9 o'clock, and we knew they would receive soon after 8 the letter we had deposited in the mail in London. We decided that it would be best for Mac to enter the banker's at five minutes after 9. We had discovered the night before the location of the firm. During breakfast Mac went carefully through his pockets, taking out every scrap of paper and turning everything over to me; then taking out from among the others in our bag the letters of credit and introduction we made our last scrutiny of them. We had not settled upon the amount he should ask for, but agreed that it should not in any case be less than 25,000 gulden ($10,000). If everything seemed favorable then Mac was to use his own judgment and demand any sum under 100,000 gulden ($40,000). His letter of credit was for £10,000, and we did not want to leave it behind. Of course, if we drew any less sum than the amount the credit called for, the sum we drew would be indorsed on the letter, and it would be returned to Mac and be instantly destroyed. So with the documents in his pockets and giving me a smile, out he went, and I followed after, keeping[Pg 135] him in sight, and very anxious I was. We were on Unter den Linden. Walking one square and turning to the left half a block away were the bankers—Hebrew, by the way. I saw Mac saunter up the steps and disappear from view. Outside of America money transactions are carried on with the utmost deliberation; to an American with exasperating slowness; so I thought it possible he might remain invisible for a whole half-hour, and a long half-hour it would be to me. In order to have my anxiety shortened by even a half minute we had arranged that when he came out if he had the money he was to stroke his beard as a signal. If it was all right, but delayed, he was to put his handkerchief to his face, but if everything was wrong he was to clasp his hands across his breast for a moment.


In that event I was to keep a lookout to see if he was followed; if so, I was to give him a signal, when he would go straight to his hotel—in passing through would dispose of his tall hat, and put on the soft hat he had in his pocket—then pass out the back entrance and hasten to a certain hat shop, where I would meet him, and take a cab to a little town six miles away, called Juterbock, where all trains going south, west and east stopped. While driving out, we would settle on some plan; but this emergency did not arise. I had stationed myself in a little shop across the street, and from that vantage ground was watching for Mac's reappearance, and just as I had settled myself for a weary watch out he came, smiling and stroking his beard. A moment's glance satisfied me he was not followed. I hastened after, and, coming up with him as he turned the corner, he merely said 2,600 pounds ($13,000). It seemed too good to be true, and I said: "I don't believe you." He replied: "It is all right, my boy; here it is," at the same time thrusting a big package containing gulden notes into my hand. We instantly separated, I hastening to different but near-by brokers' offices, buying for nearly the full amount French bank notes and[Pg 136] gold. We went straight to the hatter's and bought one of those broad-brimmed German student hats, which, when he had placed it on his head, put on a pair of spectacles and parted his flowing beard in the middle, made such a transformation in his appearance that I myself would have passed him unrecognized. In the mean time I had picked out a cabdriver, a stupid-looking, conservative-appearing old fellow, and engaged him to drive "mich und meinen freund nach Juterbock." So we entered the cab, an open one-horse affair, and started for that town. Our next objective point was Munich, but as the train did not leave until noon we preferred to spend the time in a pleasant drive, and at the same time make assurance of our escape doubly sure. Around Berlin the country is flat and uninteresting. Our driver was a crabbed old fellow, but we managed to extract some amusement out of him.

What pleased us greatly was to see him from time to time take out from under his seat a loaf of black bread and cut off a slice for himself and one for his horse, and then, seeing we were in no hurry, he would get down, and, walking beside the horse, would feed him and himself at the same time. When we arrived at Juterbock we had an hour to spare, so we drove to an inn, and ordering a bottle of Hochheimer for ourselves and beer and pretzels for our driver, we passed the time pleasantly. In the mean time we had touched a match to the letter of credit, and at train time we went by separate routes to the depot. Each purchased his own ticket; to Nuremberg mine was, his to some near-by city, and at 12.30 we boarded the train and were off for Munich and more profit there on the morrow.

Late at night we arrived, and after locating the bank we went to a theatre, where a variety show was going on, and found the performances good; quite up, in fact, to similar exhibitions here. When the house closed we separated for the night, each going to a different hotel. Our plan was to[Pg 137] secure all the cash we could in Munich in time to take a train that left for Leipsic a little before 10 o'clock, arriving there soon after 1, in time to visit the Leipsic bank the same day; then leaving the city that night we would be in Frankfort early on Wednesday. We would then make all haste to escape from Germany to the shelter of mighty London.

Tuesday morning at 7 we met at a restaurant, as agreed, and soon had over again our Berlin experience; but the amount we obtained here was only 12,000 gulden (£1,000), Mac thinking it best to ask for a small sum, Munich not being much of a commercial city. In cashing his credit, although the amount was in gulden, the bank paid him in New Saxon thalers, the thaler being 70 cents. We did not like the new thaler notes, and wanted to change them there, but there was no time if we were to catch the 10 o'clock train. I had Mac's derby hat in a box, and in three minutes he had the hat and spectacles on, and, with his beard again parted, the transformation was complete, and he, a perfect picture of the dreamy German student, sauntered down to the depot and bought his ticket for Leipsic. I followed him, carrying all the cash and documents in my bag. We arrived at Leipsic soon after dinner. Times were brisk, with plenty of bustle there, for the great Leipsic fair was in full blast. Here was an opportunity missed; we ought to have had three or four letters to as many banks. The place was thronged and the banks were paying out and receiving money in thousands. On the train I had sat apart from Mac, but in the same compartment, which was filled. Arriving at Leipsic he left the train, and, walking up the street, entered a wine room, where I joined him. He scrutinized his letters carefully, and, placing them in his pocket, in five minutes was in the bank. Seeing the bank was full of customers, instead of remaining outside to watch, I entered and stood among the crowd, anxious, of course, but letting nothing escape.

Instead of waiting or trying to transact his business with[Pg 138] a subordinate, Mac demanded to see the head of the firm. He was received at once, and upon the production of his letters was treated with the utmost consideration. He asked for 50,000 gulden ($20,000), which was given him at once. The amount for fair time at Leipsic was not large. In a very short time the business was done. The money being paid in gulden notes, it made a pretty big bundle. As agreed upon, he went direct to the cafe, carrying the money, while I stopped at a broker's office and bought French money, notes and gold, for my new Saxon thalers. There the transformation scene was re-enacted, but we could not leave town until 5 o'clock. We spent the time visiting the famous fair. Leipsic overflowed with the fair. It was fair on the brain with every one. This annual fair has been a yearly feature of the old city for four centuries, and draws to it people from all over the European world, even from furthest Russia. Soon after 5 o'clock we were on the train, but, for some reason which I now forget, we did not arrive until 10 o'clock the next day at Frankfort.

Frankfort, the home and still the fortress of the Rothschilds.

In Frankfort the Bourse opens at 10 a.m., and closes at 2. During those hours the bankers are to be found on the Exchange only, and not at their offices. Many of the offices are then deserted and fast locked. It proved to be the case with the firm to which our letters were addressed, and if we were to do any business in Frankfort we had of necessity to wait until 2 p.m., but as it was now Wednesday and the third day since our affair in Berlin, the first draft drawn on London, if promptly mailed, would probably have been delivered at the Union Bank this morning. Of course, as soon as the manager of the foreign department found a draft for a large sum drawn by a stranger and made payable to their correspondent in Berlin, he would at once surmise that a fraud had been committed and undoubtedly would send a telegram to Ger[Pg 139]many to that effect. The forgery once known in Berlin, the rumor of it, with a thousand exaggerations, might easily fly to every Bourse in Europe, and I feared that by 2 o'clock the story might possibly become known on the Frankfort Exchange. So far we had $43,000, the result of our two days' operations, but we had from the first great hopes of Frankfort, chiefly because it was the money centre of the Continent, therefore the bankers were used to handling large sums of money, and so long as everything was all right they would hand out any sum, however large. We really ought to have taken in Frankfort first. Had we done so, we probably would have left the town with $50,000.

Soon as we arrived we went to a cafe, and, leaving Mac there and all the money and papers in the bag, I hastened to the bankers, hoping to find them open and ready for business. In that case I should have talked business—that is, about having letters of credit, etc.—and I could probably have told by their actions if any rumors of our transaction of the two preceding days had reached the city. Had this been so the bankers would have betrayed it by their looks and questions, and would have been anxious to see my credits. Had such questions been asked, I would have simply said that my letters of credit had not yet arrived from Paris. This would have, of course, thrown them off the track, and given us time to move off.

But when I arrived I found the doors locked. I at once returned to Mac and said: "We are through; let us catch the train for Cologne at once." He was anxious to wait until 4 o'clock and make a dash. We both knew the Germans were slow, and might not think of using the telegraph, and we agreed that we had more than an even chance of success; but Mac said: "My boy, you are my manager, and I leave it for you to decide." Then I said we were through, and that he should take no more chances; so we settled it right there,[Pg 140] in the little French-German cafe, and taking out all the letters and every scrap of paper we destroyed them.

This decision, of course, brought a great relief—for the strain had been greater than either of us had been willing to confess to the other. So, easy in mind, we ordered lunch. Of course, we would have no news of George until we met in London. We had no anxiety about him; we felt certain he would come out all right. While waiting for the train we discussed the future, and took it for granted that he would secure as much as we had done. We counted ourselves possessors of $90,000. Of this, fully $10,000 would go to our three honest detectives in New York; we would spend about another $10,000, leaving us about $23,000 each. Making this calculation, we sat down, and with the cash safe in our hands we began planning for the future. Did we say: "Now we have a sum of money ample to start us in an honest business, and, as we have promised, we will quit?" Nothing of the kind; we simply ignored our many promises and resolutions. Our ideas had grown with our success, and we felt poor; so we quickly came to the conclusion that it was the part of wisdom, since we were already so far in, to secure $100,000 each, and then to call a halt; so there in Frankfort, in the very hour of our success, we found ourselves planning new schemes, and further down the Primrose Way.

Soon after the noon hour the train started, but first I took Mac's tall hat to the hatter's and left it to be ironed, this, of course, to get rid of it, and leave no trace behind; then, returning to the cafe, we started. I fell behind and we made our way separately to the depot. Mac had absolutely nothing about him save $2,000 in French paper and gold. I had over $40,000 in notes and some gold in my bag. He bought a ticket for Amsterdam, and I one for Belgium, both taking us through Cologne. I saw him safe into a car, while I sauntered carelessly up and down the station, swinging my bag and staring at everything; as the train was about to start[Pg 141] I entered another carriage. The railway from Frankfort to Cologne follows the river bank for the entire distance. We quickly passed Bingen, Mayence, Coblenz, and about dusk reached Cologne. This is an important junction, and here we had to change cars, having twenty minutes to wait. Both of us went direct to the cathedral. It is close to the station, and there we had a few minutes' talk. Here Mac threw away his ticket to Amsterdam and I gave him mine to Brussels. We agreed to take separate cars at the station, but at the first stopping place I was to join him in his compartment, for we had before us an all-night ride to Ostend (the rival port to Calais), where we would embark for Dover. At the depot I purchased a ticket to London via Ostend. We left Cologne all right, and at the first station out I alighted and joined him.

We had a pleasant all-night journey, arriving very early the next morning at Ostend. How lovely the sea looked, with the morning sun shining on its restless waves!

We got to Dover without accident, and two hours after the express landed us in London, and we drove at once to our appointed rendezvous, the Terminus Hotel, London Bridge. We had no news of George, but that evening, opening the door in response to a loud knock, he walked in, receiving a boisterous welcome.[Pg 142]



The next morning we all drove to Hampton Court, the creation of Wolsey, and when tired we went to the Star and Garter. There we talked over matters, and came to the conclusion we must have a hundred thousand apiece before we could afford to settle down at home.

We resolved to send off the "percentage" to Irving & Company, and to pay all debts we were owing at home.

Mac's heart went out to his father. He longed for a reconciliation, and he determined to send him $10,000 and so make good the money his father had given him to establish himself in New York, at the same time write the old gentleman he had made a big strike in a cotton speculation, in order to explain his having so large a sum to spare.

Our accounts were pretty well mixed up, and I hit upon a novel way to settle them and give each of us an equal start. My proposal was that we should pool everything. To put every dollar we had in the world on the table then and there, and let the firm assume all obligations, purely personal as they were, save only the Irving "percentage," and pay them from the general fund, then divide the balance. This was agreed to, and the queerest balance sheet ever made out was soon ready.

[Pg 143]
[Pg 144]


We all had planned certain gifts and presents to friends in America, a considerable sum in the aggregate; all the cost of this was assumed by the firm. The main item was $10,000[Pg 145] to the New York police. When the balances were finally struck nearly $30,000 had disappeared from our cash capital, but on the whole it was a good plan. It drew us all closer together, consequently increased our faith in each other and at the same time prevented all chances of future dispute. This matter settled, we determined to have a little recreation by taking a tour in Italy. After studying guide books and routes we resolved to take a steamer from Southampton to Naples, spend a few days there in seeing the town and visiting Pompeii, etc., then north to Rome.

We had made considerable preparation for our tour, when a circumstance arose that not only changed our plans, but in the sequel changed our lives as well.

We had been paying another visit to Hampton Court, and in place of dining at the Star and Garter we returned by boat on the Thames and dined at Cannon Street Hotel. Before going to the hotel we took a stroll down Lombard street, and, arriving at the intersection of streets opposite the Bank of England, we came to a halt. While watching the human whirlpool in that centre of throbbing life, I turned to my friends, and, pointing to the Bank of England, said: "Boys, you may depend upon it, there is the softest spot in the world, and we could hit the bank for a million as easy as rolling off a log." No response was made at the time, and the casual remark was apparently forgotten. Well for us if it had been.

The next day we went for a drive to Windsor, and were to dine at a famous old roadside inn. On arriving we, of course, visited the castle, and, while viewing the decorations in the stately throne room, Mac stopped us with the remark that something I had said the day before had been sticking in his mind. He went on to say that we wanted a hundred thousand apiece in order to return home in good shape; that the Bank of England had plenty to spare, and it was well for the lightning to strike where the balances were heavy. The bank would never miss the money, and he firmly believed[Pg 146] the whole directorate of the fossil institution was permeated with the dry rot of centuries. The managers were convinced that their banking system was impregnable, and, as a consequence, it would fall an easy victim, provided, as we suspected, the bank was really managed by hereditary officials.

Here was a picture, indeed. Three American adventurers, two of them barely past their majority, standing in the throne room of Windsor Castle, and plotting to strike a blow at the money bags of the Bank of England!

The idea grew on us rapidly. After dinner we sat in the twilight of that old inn and discussed the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street from a point of view from which she had probably never been discussed before. I can imagine with what scorn the idiotically puffed and bepuffed magnates of the bank would have regarded us had they known of our discussion.

They afterwards boasted to me, as they had boasted for a century, that their system was perfect, and as a proof that it was so they widely proclaimed they had not changed it in a hundred years. They had proclaimed so loudly and so long its absolute invulnerability that they not only believed it themselves, but all the world had come to believe it as well. "Safe as the bank" was a proverb everywhere underlying the English tongue.

In our discussion we speedily came to the conclusion that any system of finance unchanged in detail for a century, belief in the perfection of which was an article of faith not alone with the officials charged with its management, but with the people of England at large, must, in the very nature of the case, lie wide open to the attack of any man bold enough to doubt its impregnability and resolute to attack.

What a figment of the imagination this boasted impregnability of the Bank of England was the sequel will show. And as for those masters of finance, those earthly Joves of the financial world who sat serene above the clouds, "the[Pg 147] Governor and Company of the Bank of England," they soon had the whole money world shaking with laughter when they stood revealed the Simple Simons they proved to be.

We wanted a hundred thousand apiece now, and had resolved to get it from the Bank of England. Such was our confidence that we never thought failure possible. Truly, if there ever was a plan laid in ignorant enthusiasm this was one. Here we were, absolutely without any knowledge of the inner workings of the institution, strangers in London, being under assumed names, without business of any kind, and not only unable to give any references, but unable to stand any investigation.

Exactly how we were to manipulate the bank we did not know. We were inclined, now we had some fifty thousand dollars capital, to avoid so serious a thing as forgery, but had an idea for one of us to obtain in some way an introduction to the bank and to use all the money of the party to establish a credit. In the mean time all were to get in the swim in or around the exchange, and use the one who had the account in the bank for reference for the others. If some good chance offered to go into a straightforward business we could drop forever all thoughts of breaking the law again. This was the theory; in practice, we were almost certain to try on the game we had of late played so successfully.

In conference it was determined an account should be opened with the bank, anyway; after that was done we could decide what use to put it to.

As I had not yet shown up in the previous transactions, I volunteered to go to the front in this; so, telling my two friends to go to the Continent—Italy, if they liked—I would remain in London and manage to get the account started. They took me at my word, and a day or two after sailed from Liverpool to Lisbon, and passed through Portugal to Spain, visiting the chief cities of that country.

I was left alone in London and began prospecting at once,[Pg 148] setting all my wits at work to see how I could manage to get an introduction to the bank. I had only $20,000 to start the thing with, as we did not think it policy to risk our entire capital in one place. My first idea was to find some solicitor of standing who kept his account at the Bank of England, to give him a retaining fee of £100 to act as my legal adviser, telling him some fairy tales about establishing a branch firm in London, and engage him, as soon as we started, to devote all his time to our business at a fat salary. But there were many objections to having a lawyer to introduce me, they being wide awake and liable to scrutinize too closely. If one should depart so far from his policy of caution as to introduce a new client he might after the introduction easily notify the bank that I was a stranger to him and perhaps advise them to investigate, and investigation was the one thing I must avoid. Of course, one is supposed to give reference, even if introduced. Although I had no acquaintance with this bank's methods, yet I was confident that all those at the top must be a stupid lot of red-tape sticklers, and I resolved to do my business with them alone. I was pretty sure that the routine of an introduction once well over, so as to give me access to the officials, they could be easily satisfied and made to help on the fraud, in place of being obstacles. The result proved my surmise correct, for such a lot of self-sufficient barnacles no institution in the world was ever burdened with.

The dry rot of officialism permeated the bank through and through; even the bank solicitors, the Messrs. Freshfields, were merely "highly respectable," and sometimes when that term is applied in England it indicates mediocrity. The Freshfields managed to spend four hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the bank's money in our prosecution. That fact alone would have ruined the reputation of any law firm in America, but the ring of toadies who control that close corporation called the Benchers of the Inn was loud in its[Pg 149] praise of this firm for the extreme ability shown in working up the case for the bank.

I finally made up my mind to find some old established shopkeeper who kept an account at the bank, and secure an introduction through him.

I determined to carry out the plan at once. The thing was first of all to find my man; so at 2 o'clock that afternoon I stationed myself near the bank to watch depositors coming out and then follow them. Four out of five depositors when they take money to the bank come out examining their passbooks. That afternoon I followed several; of these I selected three; one was an optician and electrician, an old-established firm, doing a large business. Another was an East India importing house. The third was Green & Son, tailors.

The next day I went to the optician and purchased an expensive opera glass, and had him engrave on it "To Lady Mary, from Her Friend," and paid him for it with a £100 note; then I went to the East India firm and bought a costly white silk shawl and a lap robe fit for a prince, and looked at a camel's hair shawl at one hundred guineas.

I had brought from America with me a Western hat, and as I had resolved to play the Silver King, I wore it when going around among the tradesmen. The English had, and still have, absurd ideas concerning that desirable article, "The American Silver King." The stage article they take for the genuine, and devoutly believe that the pavements are thick with them in America, all marching around with rolls of thousand-dollar bills in their pockets, which they throw out to bootblacks and bartenders.

Therefore, I resolved to play this role. After my purchase of the shawl and robe, I drove in my brougham up to Green & Son, and entered, smoking a cigar, and with my big hat pulled well down over my eyes. Soon as I saw the elder Green I felt I had my man. Certainly I had hit well, for the firm (fathers and sons) had been depositors in the Bank[Pg 150] of England for near a century, and had considerable wealth; but, English fashion, stuck steadily to business. This is a firm of ultra-fashionable tailors, that, like the historic Poole next door, charge for their reputation more than for the fit of their garments.

One of the firm and an attendant flew to wait upon me, but, paying no attention to them, I started on a slow march around the establishment, examining the array of cloths, they following at my heels. I went down one side and returned on the other to the door. Arriving there I halted and, pointing first at one roll of cloth and then another, said: "One suit from this, three suits from that, two from that, a topcoat from that, another from that, another suit from that, one from that. Now, show me some dressing gowns." The first shown was twenty guineas. I instantly said that would do. One may be certain the tailor and his assistant flew around, one to measure and the other to write the measurements of this American sheep that Providence had led astray into their shop. When asked my name and address, I gave F. A. Warren, Golden Cross Hotel, and then, for fear I might forget my name, I made a memorandum of it and placed it in my vest pocket. They bowed me out, evidently greatly impressed with my taciturnity, and especially my big hat, confident also that they had hooked a fortune in a genuine American silver king. I entered the brougham and drove directly to the Golden Cross Hotel, Charing Cross, and there registering "F. A. Warren" and securing a room I left for my hotel. This room at the Golden Cross I kept for a whole year, but never slept there. It was the only address the Bank of England ever had of their distinguished customer, Mr. Frederic Albert Warren.

I did not trouble any more about the other two store people, but looked about the town, amusing myself. In due time I called and tried the garments on, and, when ready to deliver, I left the cash with the hotel people with orders to[Pg 151] pay the bill, which was done. There the matter rested for ten days, when I drove up again, and, remaining in my carriage, the head of the firm came out to me and I remarked: "I must have more garments; duplicate that order," and drove off.

A week after I called to have them tried on, and then said that as I was going to Ireland for a few days' shooting with Lord Clancarty, I would send down a portmanteau for the garments and call for it on my way from the hotel to the station. So I bought the most expensive trunk I could find and sent it to the tailor. When the day came for me to call I provided myself with six £500 bank notes, five £100 and about fifty £5 notes to go on the bottom of the roll. Before leaving my hotel I had a large trunk put on the cab, and then taking inside of it all the dressing bags, rugs, silk umbrellas and canes in the whole party, I drove to the tailor's, paid my bill with a £500 note and had the portmanteau put on the cab. I turned to go, but, halting at the door, I remarked quite in a casual manner: "By the way, Mr. Green, I have more money than I care to carry loose in my vest pocket to Ireland; I think I will leave it with you." He replied, "Certainly, sir," and as I was pulling the roll out of my vest pocket he said: "How much is it, sir?" "Only £4,000; it may be £5,000;" to which he replied: "Oh, sir, I would be afraid to take charge of so much; let me introduce you to my bank." He ran for his hat, accompanied me to the Bank of England, and, calling one of the sub-managers, introduced me as an American gentleman, Mr. F. A. Warren, who desired to open an account. A check and a pass book were brought and the signature book laid before me for my autograph, and I was requested to sign my name in full, so I christened myself Frederic Albert. I drove to the North Eastern station and telegraphed the boys at Barcelona that the thing was done and they could, if they liked, curtail their excursion and return to England at once.[Pg 152]

So the first step had been taken and successfully. We talked of now giving up all further idea of breaking the law, and starting in London as brokers and promoters of stock companies. The plan was for me to take the money of the firm, £10,000, place it all in the Bank of England, and begin to buy and sell stock and keep my money moving in and out of the bank. Then George and Mac were to start an office and launch out as promoters and refer to Mr. Warren of the Bank of England. This would place them on a footing at once, and I would gradually drop out of the Bank of England after introducing George and Mac in their right names. This was a grand plan, and had we only carried it out fortune would have been ours, and honor as well, but we were too impatient of any delay in securing wealth and overconfident of our success and cleverness. Above all, we were anxious to get home again. But I have got somewhat ahead of my story.

Soon after I had a telegram from George and Mac saying that they would arrive in time for a late dinner, and for me to wait and dine with them. At the time I was living at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria Station. We had a pleasant meeting and a good dinner to celebrate it. I exhibited my check book, and they were eager to know all details of my interviews, not only at the bank, but with the tailor, and over the wine I related with great spirit the details of the little comedy. I have to this very day a vivid recollection of the shouts of laughter that arose from my companions during the recital. We laughed then, but we did not laugh for the next twenty years, neither did we partake of any sumptuous banquets. In the world of crime success is failure, and perhaps never had the absolute accuracy of that statement been so fully confirmed as in our own lives.

That merriment of ours ended in anguish too deep for words. For twenty years I never looked upon a star, nor saw the face of a woman or of a child; that is to say, from my[Pg 153] early years when the heart beats fast and the blood runs warmly in the veins. That fearful gap of time was filled to the brim with the peltings of a pitiless storm, hungry, driven, toiling like a galley slave under the Summer's burning sun, or thinly clad exposed to every blizzard and all the whirling storms of Winter, until my early manhood had vanished and the best years of my prime were all melted away, and at last I came forth from my dungeon, but with the mark of suffering and desolation burned deep upon me, to face a world of which I could not but be ignorant.


[Pg 154]



The way to the bank vaults with their treasures had been laid open, but there remained many matters of detail to be carried out before we could enter them. There promised to be a delay of several months, but we were impatient over the prospect of delay of even six months in securing the fortunes we wanted, and which we had come to consider essential to our happiness.

Our plan to ease the bank of a million or two of her forty million sterling was, roughly stated, to borrow from day to day large sums upon forged securities, the bad feature of the plan, from our point of view, being the fact that the bank, as a matter of course, would retain these documents, which could be produced at any future time to found a criminal charge against us, provided justice ever had the opportunity to weigh us in her balances.

Protected as we were by the police in New York, we felt that the chance of our identity ever becoming known was remote. Still, there was an element of chance we wanted to eliminate entirely. In our recent raid on the bankers of France and Germany we never exhausted our letter of credit, but had the amount of cash we drew indorsed upon it, and brought the actual forged document away and instantly destroyed it. Had we been arrested in Europe, no doubt, under the laws prevailing there, they would have made us suffer upon the verbal statement of the banker; but in Amer[Pg 155]ica to convict one of forgery the document itself must be produced in court.

I paid several visits to the bank, depositing and drawing out various sums of money. I had talks with the sub-manager, and, on various pretexts to get information, I interviewed bankers and money men in the city. Finally, after many conferences, we came to the conclusion that the boasted impregnability of the bank was imaginary, and that the vanity and self-sufficiency of the officials would some day prove a snare to the institution they ruled over.

The next conclusion we arrived at was that, easy as it might be to defraud the bank, yet there was an infinity of detail which would require six months of preparations to carry out. Then, again, the word forgery began to look black in our vocabulary. We knew John Bull was an obstinate fellow when he once got his back up, and we began to think it wise to keep beyond his dull weather eye.

Finally, as the result of many debates, we resolved to abandon the Bank of England matter temporarily, possibly forever, because it was too dangerous, and the delay would be too great. Our new plan was to go to South America on a buccaneering expedition. There being no cable in 1872, and it took, as we ascertained, forty days to send a letter from Rio de Janeiro to Europe and get a reply; so that, if we executed an operation boldly and well, we might hope for anything. We resolved to go to South America, but to leave my account stand in the bank, and if our success was as great as expected, we would let the Bank of England keep the million or two we wanted, and continue her century-long slumber until the time came when some adventurous but unscrupulous mind should accept the temptation she held out to seize some of her bags of sovereigns.

Our plan was, in the main, similar to the one we had lately used with so much success in Germany and France. Only in this case we proposed to use the credit of the London and[Pg 156] Westminster Bank, and, therefore, obtained the documents required to carry through such an operation successfully.

The steamer Lusitania of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company was advertised to sail on the 12th, and we determined to go by her. Our plan was to go on the same steamer, to be ever within supporting distance of each other, and yet pretend to be strangers, or if associating together, to act so as to make all observers think our acquaintance merely casual.

Mac had his tickets in the name of Gregory Morrison. He carried letters of introduction to Maua & Co., who had branches in all the coast cities down the coast, including Montevideo and Buenos Ayres on the east coast, and Lima, Valparaiso and Callao on the west.

The steamers of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, leaving Liverpool, touch at Bordeaux, Santander and Lisbon, then are off 6,000 miles away to Rio, never slowing the engines for a moment during the voyage. Two days at Rio to discharge cargo and take in coal, then off again to Montevideo, discharge cargo, and coal again, then away round the Horn, and thousands of miles up the west coast, touching everywhere to land mails and passengers; finally after 14,000 miles of sea travel they reach Callao, then take the home track for Liverpool.

Modern buccaneers, indeed, were we, engaged in a nineteenth century piratical descent upon the shores of South America. Instead of the burly, much-beweaponed pirate of other years, we were mild-mannered, soft-spoken, courteous youngsters, yet our steel pen and bottle of ink were more deadly instruments or at least of surer fire and of better aim, than the long toms and horse pistols of the piratical braves of the seventeenth century. Our hopes of gain were high, and we counted on an ample return for the trouble of our adventure. I say trouble, for danger we feared none, so confident were we of our ability to carry off everything with a[Pg 157] high hand, and so complete was our faith in each other that we had no anxiety as to the result, but simply regarded our trip as a pleasant voyage into tropic seas—a happy change from the March wind and sombre skies of England to the bright skies and balmy air of the tropical world in the Winter months.

I had a balance in the bank of £2,335, and we, as a matter of policy, wanted to have our capital ready at hand. The bank has a rule that a depositor must never have less than £300 to his credit. My friends were somewhat skeptical as to whether the bank did not regard their new customer, F.A. Warren, with some suspicion and as a depositor to be watched. My personal relations with the bank people convinced me everything was all right, but to convince my friends I determined to give them a proof that the bank would break their rule on my account.

The Monday before we sailed for Brazil I called at the bank and told the sub-manager that I was going to St. Petersburg and on to Southern Russia for a time to inspect some work I was doing there, and I purposed to withdraw my account. He begged me not to do so, said many flattering things to me, and urged that it would be convenient to have an open account in London.

"Well," I said, looking at my passbook, "I see I have £2,335 to my credit. I will leave the odd £35 with you." He instantly acquiesced. Had he said: "No, you must leave at least £300, as our rules require," I should have said "All right," and made it five hundred. I drew out the £2,300 at once, intending to deposit £300 before leaving London, but in the haste of our preparations I neglected it, and my balance at the bank stood £35 for all the weeks I was on our piratical cruise to the Spanish Main.

Storing most of our baggage in London, we took the train to Liverpool, and, purchasing tickets for Rio, we went on board the good ship Lusitania, but not the "good" ship, for[Pg 158] her first trip, this being her second, had won for her the name of being unlucky, and Liverpool insurance men, no less than Liverpool sailors, do not bank on an unlucky ship—their faith of ill luck following an unlucky ship has been justified in thousands of instances, as it was in the case of the Lusitania. But I am not going to relate the after history of the ship.

From the hour of our arrival in Liverpool we were outwardly strangers, and during the voyage no one ever suspected that we were anything else. We soon discovered we had a pleasant company of fellow voyagers, and as we steamed out of the Mersey and headed southward we settled down to have a good time. Boreas was friendly, and away we sped across the Bay of Biscay, rapidly neared the mouth of the Garonne, on an estuary of which is situated the old city of Bordeaux. Arriving there, the ship lay at anchor for some hours, taking in and discharging freight, and receiving emigrants for various parts of South America. When the steamer was about to leave, it was a strange and rather comical sight to witness the farewells and leave-takings from the crowds of friends who had come to see them off. The customary performance appeared to me so peculiar that I will describe it as well as I can after so many years: Two men standing face to face, one clasps the other round the body, the other passive, then leaning back lifts the party clear off the ground once, twice or thrice, probably according to the degree of relationship or amount of affection; then the operation is reversed, the embraced becoming the embracer. In some cases the ceremonial is repeated the second or third time, neither kissing nor crying being the fashion there.

The next morning we were off the coast of Spain, watching the silvery gleam from the ice-clad peaks of the Pyrenees—at least those of us who were not engaged in the more disagreeable employment of discharging their debt to Father Neptune. However, by the time the ship arrived at the[Pg 159] small port of Santander the passengers were mostly recovering from the mal de mer occasioned by the rough water in the Bay of Biscay. While leaving this tiny landlocked harbor, one of the propeller blades touched the rocky bottom, and broke short off, but our ship continued her voyage with undiminished speed, and within three days was steaming up the Tagus to Lisbon. Here the passengers who wished to avail themselves of the opportunity had a few hours on shore; then we were off for the long diagonal run across the Atlantic.

"The Lady of the Lusitania," as she was called, because there was no other lady among the saloon passengers, was the wife of a captain in the British army, who was going out for a few months' hunting on the pampas of Buenos Ayres, and, of course, accompanied by many dogs, with an assortment of guns. There was also a chaplain in the British navy who was going out to join his ship at Valparaiso. A strange character was he; a big, burly man, about 28 years of age, the most inveterate champagne drinker on board, and that is saying a good deal. Whenever he met any of the "jolly" ones of the saloon passengers it was "Come, old fellow, will you toss me for a bottle of fizz?" as he called his favorite wine, and he had no lack of accepters. The majority in the saloon consisted of a party of fifteen young Englishmen, civil engineers, who were going under the leadership of a Swedish colonel to survey, for the Brazilian Government, a railway line across the southern part of Brazil, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In all there were twenty-five young men, full of frolic and fun, who made things rather lively about the ship. They went in for everything from which any fun could be extracted. At the equinoctial line they roped in the "greenhorns" to look through the field glasses at the line, and having fastened a hair across the field of view, of course, we could all see it plainly. Father Neptune came on board and those of the crew who had never crossed the Equator were hunted out of their hiding places, dragged on deck,[Pg 160] lathered with a whitewash brush dipped in old grease, shaved with a lath-razor, and then tumbled unceremoniously backward into a cask of water.

After a prosperous voyage of three weeks we arrived within sight of the famous "Sugar Loaf," and were duly disembarked at the Custom House, our baggage passed, and were off to our hotels, each going to a different one, and each registering the name our letters of credit and introduction bore. While in Rio we went by day in the parks or cafes, and spent our evenings together, having a most enjoyable time.

This was our first experience of the tropics, and life under the Equator proved as novel and as fascinating as it ever does to the inhabitant of a cold climate. The show of tropical fruits in the markets was magnificent, and, although strangers are warned not to partake of it, yet our health was so good and our digestion so perfect that we disregarded all warnings and gratified our palates without stint, with no bad results following.

However, we felt after all that we were there on business; we wanted plunder, in fact, and not pleasure, in Rio. Our pleasure lay in Europe or America, there in the good time just ahead, when, as moneyed men, we returned, and, surrounded by those nearest and dearest, we would enjoy life to the full.

Mac was the grand swell of our party, and, wanting to excel us all in his financial successes, was eager to go to the front. Accordingly, we fixed everything so that he could everywhere strike the first and the heaviest blow.

Of course, on our twenty-two days' voyage we had ample time for discussion, and before we passed the Equator had settled on our plan. First of all, it was agreed that one of the party should keep his neck out of the noose, to stand by if either of the others came to grief. Very much to my satisfaction, it was again decided that I was the man to stand from under.[Pg 161]


[Pg 162]
[Pg 163]

The firm of Maua in Rio was the most considerable in all South America, and Mac's introductions were to this firm. The plan was for Mac to present himself to Maua & Co., and to draw within twenty-four hours, at least £10,000, so as to make sure of our expenses, and a day or two before steamer day to arrange for a very large sum, twenty or thirty thousand pounds. As soon as that was obtained, George was to go to the Bank of London and Rio de Janeiro, and secure as much as he thought it safe to ask for, five or ten thousand pounds. This would be paid in Brazilian paper money, which I was to exchange for sovereigns. Then I was to buy a ticket for myself on the steamer going south, take the gold off and stow it away in my stateroom. At the last moment, in the bustle and confusion of sailing, Mac and George were to slip into my stateroom, conceal themselves and sail with the steamer, and when once out of the harbor, to see the purser, explain that they had arranged with a friend to purchase tickets; but, as he had not put in an appearance, they would be obliged to pay a second time. We purposed to go down the east coast and up the west to Lima. Visiting the cities as we went from Lima, we would go to Panama, there catch the steamer to San Francisco, and after a pleasant sojourn in California go overland to New York with a million.

This was our plan, but, as all the world knows, there is a vast difference between making plans and carrying them into successful execution.[Pg 164]



Fate, Providence, call it what you will, seldom fails to upset wrongdoing, making it rocky for the wrongdoer.

By an irony of fortune we carried with us that which was going to balk all, or nearly all, our fine scheme.

In our letters of credit in some mysterious way the name of the sub-manager of the London and Westminster Bank had been omitted, although this was absolutely essential to the validity of the letters. There was also another error, an error of such an extraordinary nature—that of spelling "endorse" with a "c"—that it is enough to make any man contemplating an unlawful act despair of success, since we could be defeated by such mysterious and unforeseen accidents.

A few hours after our arrival Mac called at the bankers' and was well received by the manager.

He told the manager his letters of credit ran from £5,000 to £20,000 each, and that he should want £10,000 the next day. Would they have it ready?

The next day he went to the bank, George and myself being posted outside. In ten minutes he reappeared with a square bundle under his arm. He smiled as he passed us, and, turning a corner, entered a cafe, where he joined us. His bundle contained £10,000 in Brazilian bank notes. He assured us that everything was serene at the bank, that he could have £100,000 if he wanted to ask for it.[Pg 165]

I had already been to the three largest money brokers and arranged to buy gold. So, leaving Mac and George, I got a sole leather bag we had for the purpose, and, hiring a stalwart black porter, went to the brokers. I bought sovereigns for the whole £10,000. It was ten bags with one thousand pounds in each. The weight was 168 pounds. The black fellow put it on his head, and followed me to my hotel, and found it a pretty good load, too. So here we had one big fish landed, and confidently counted on several more.

I related above how we had in some incomprehensible way omitted putting on the letter of credit the sub-manager's name. How could we have committed such a blunder? My answer is that this is only another example of the unforeseen "something" ever happening to defeat any anticipated benefit from ill-gotten gains.

The next day Mac went to the bankers again, and was requested by the manager to show the letter of credit on which was indorsed the ten thousand pounds he had drawn against it. Looking at the letter, the manager said: "This is singular; there is only the name of Mr. Bradshaw, the manager, on this letter; J. P. Shipp, the sub-manager's name, should be on the credit as well." And then he went on to say that some time since they had been notified by the London Bank that all letters issued by them would bear two signatures.

Mac was a man of nerve, but it required all he had not to betray his uneasiness. He said he really could not say how the omission had occurred; he supposed it must have been accidental, but he would examine his other letters as soon as he went back to the hotel.

The look of chagrin and vexation on Mac's face when he came out was a sight to see, and one that is as vivid in my memory now as in that far off day in 1872.

He went direct to the hotel, and there George and I soon joined him. We sat down and looked at each other. The game apparently was up, and we were a sorely disgusted[Pg 166] party. We did not fall out with or reproach each other, but felt we deserved a kicking. We did not ask each other any questions, but I know our faces all wore a sadly puzzled look as we repeated mentally, "How could we have made such an oversight?" But soon another blunder—the misspelled word—was to crop up, that made this one of the omitted name seem as a fly to an eagle.

Mac and I thought the game up, and were mentally planning for flight. But George, being a man of extraordinary courage and resource as well, declared we could and would retrieve the blunder. He declared a bold step must be taken, that, as the bankers had only seen the one credit, the name of Shipp, the sub-manager, must be instantly put on the others. We had the genuine signature of J.P. Shipp on a draft, and Mac at once sat down to write it on all the letters. It was a trying ordeal for him, Mac's nerves having had a wrench. He was a temperate man, but under the circumstances we advised him to take a glass of brandy to steady his nerves. Then placing the genuine signature before him and the forged letters, he began to put in the name. The signatures were not well written, but under the trying circumstances they were wonderfully well done. All this had taken place within half an hour after he had left the bank.

It was a trying ordeal, but Mac was quite willing to do as George advised. That was that he should take several of the letters and march boldly into the bank and say: "Here are my letters; they are all right. Both signatures are on all my letters but the one, and from that the second signature has been in some way omitted." George's last word to Mac was: "Rely upon us to extricate you from anything. Keep cool. Act up to the character you have assumed. They can never fathom that the names could have been written in so short a time. Boldly offer them more exchange on London, and if there is any hesitation say you will transfer your business to the English Bank of Rio at once."


[Pg 167]

He started on his decisive errand, followed by us, in a miserable state of anxiety. He was not long in the bank, but returned empty-handed. Upon meeting at the designated place, he informed us the manager was evidently agreeably surprised when shown the letters with both signatures, and transferred the indorsement from the letter that had but one signature to one with two. Once more we had matters all right, and the broken place patched up again, but it behooved us not to do so any more. But we did.

During our stay in Rio we saw much to interest us. The negro was very much in evidence. Slavery was still the law of the land; all the toil and burden-bearing falls to the poor slave's lot. One day we all three took an early train and alighted at a small hamlet on the border of a stream about thirty miles from Rio, beyond the ranges of mountains that hem in the city. We managed to find some saddle mules and started to see the country. We rode for some miles through a land covered with moundlike hills, no sooner coming to the bottom of one than we were ascending another. These hills are covered with coffee bushes filled with red fruit, about the size of a cherry, each containing two kernels. The coffee was being picked into large flat baskets by slaves, which, when filled, they carried away on their heads to the drying grounds.

The roads were bordered with orange trees loaded with luscious fruit, to which we helped ourselves. After a time we turned into a bridle path and rode some miles through a dense forest. We emerged upon the outskirts of a coffee plantation, where the slaves were just on their way to dinner, and another half mile brought us to the planter's residence. Thirty or forty slaves of both sexes and all ages were grouped upon the grass, engaged in eating a black-looking stew out of metal dishes, their fingers serving for knives, forks and spoons. Seeing three horsemen ride out of the forest, they stared in stupid wonder, until one more intelligent than the[Pg 168] others went in search of the overseer. Presently a white man appeared, and, in response to Mac's "Parlate Italiano," came the smiling answer, "Si, Signor," proving, as we wagered he would be, a native of beggarly, sunny Italy.

The overseer showed us over the place, and explained all the processes of preparing coffee for the market. In one corner of a large, unpainted building was what he called the infirmary, and a comfortless looking place it was. He said there was no doctor employed, and that he dealt out medicine to the slaves himself. After being served with coffee we thanked him for our entertainment and returned to Rio by an evening train.

The mail steamer Ebro was advertised to leave Rio for Liverpool on Wednesday of the week following the exciting events narrated in the last chapter. This was the mail that would carry the draft for £10,000 on the London and Westminster Bank, along with a letter from the Rio bank, stating that they had cashed Mr. Gregory Morrison's draft upon the letter issued by them.

Twenty-two or three days after the steamer left Rio the London bank would know their correspondents in Rio had been victimized, but 8,000 miles of blue water was between them, with no way to bridge it but by steam; so we had at least forty-four days more to gather in our harvest. I ought to say, apparently forty-four more days, for by an amazing blunder we were about to bring a storm upon our heads.

The steamer we purposed to load our money on and ourselves, too, was the Chimborazo, advertised to arrive on Tuesday and to leave for the River Plate and the west coast the next day. So it was agreed that on Monday Mac should go to the bank and arrange to cash his letters for twenty or thirty thousand pounds, and go the next day for the money. As soon as Mac came from the bank and announced that all was well, another of us was to call at the Bank of London and Rio and the River Plate Bank, present his letters of introduction[Pg 169] and ask in each bank to have the five thousand pounds or ten thousand pounds ready the next day. They purposed to call about 11 o'clock, so as to give me time to exchange the Brazilian bank notes for sovereigns, and to buy my ticket by the Chimborazo, to secure my stateroom and to take the gold to the steamer, and, above all, to get my passport vised by the police.

Monday came. We expected a nervous day, not such a paralyzingly nervous one as it proved to be. In fact, a nervous Tuesday followed a nervous Monday. My reader must remember that we were in the tropics, with a blazing sun looking down on us with an intensity that made one long for Greenland's icy mountains to cool us.

We went into the public park for our last consultation before our fortune, which never came, was to come.

Mac had in the little morocco case in his pocket two letters each for £20,000. Certainly no man in the world, save him, could have carried off such a game played for such high stakes. Handsome in person, faultless in address, cool in nerve, a master of all the languages spoken in Rio—Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French. Above all, he had a boundless confidence in himself. What an honorable future might have been his but for his youthful follies! Truly he could have achieved a wonderful success in any honorable career. Unhappily for him, he, like thousands of our brainiest youth, had entered the Primrose Way. In our youthful fire and thoughtlessness we saw only the flowers and heard the siren's song, but at last the Primrose Way led us down into a gloom where all the flowers withered and the gay songs turned into dirges.

Looking at his watch Mac jumped up, saying: "It is 10.45 and time to be off." So he started for the bank, we following at some distance, our nerves all on the stretch. We felt that our lives and fortunes were trembling in the balance. The minutes dragged like hours. While watching we saw[Pg 170] several persons enter or leave the bank, and still our friend delayed his appearance.

To our suspicious minds there appeared to be strange movements about the bank that boded ill for us. A thousand suspicions born of our fears came and went through our minds, until at last, unable to endure the suspense, I entered the bank myself, and stood there, pretending I was waiting for some one. I sharply scrutinized every one and everything. Mac was somewhere out of sight in the private offices. The clerks were gossiping together, and that fact to me was suspicious. Then, to my alarm, a bank clerk entered from the street with an eagle-eyed man, a Hebrew, evidently, of about 45 years of age. Both passed hurriedly into the private office, leaving me in an agony of suspense. My only relief at that moment was the thought that George and myself had not as yet compromised ourselves, and could, in the event of Mac's arrest, manage to save him, either by bribery or a rescue.

Without appearing to do so, I watched that dingy, mottled door leading into the private office until every crack and seam in it was photographed indelibly on my brain.

In the trying periods of one's life, when the heart and soul are on the rack, how strangely trifling details of the objects about one will be noticed and remembered. It seems some cell of the brain, quite separate from the cell of feeling and sensation, works calmly and steadily on, photographing the material of one's surroundings.

I can never forget a flower worn by a lady guest at my table, when, in the midst of enjoyment and surrounded by friends, the hand of the law in the form of a burly detective was laid on me in Cuba. In all the misery and humiliation of that scene I remember the peculiar color of the wood of a cigar box standing on the sideboard. Doubtless each of my readers will recall some similar phenomenon in his own life.[Pg 171]

At last, unable to endure the suspense, above all, the uncertainty, I went to the little door, and, opening it, looked in. To my intense relief I saw Mac sitting there apparently talking unconcernedly with Braga, the manager, and the Hebrew. As I had not attracted attention I closed the door, went out in the street and gave George the pre-arranged signal that all was well. Just then our partner appeared but with telltale face. It was flushed with chagrin and vexation, and there was gone from the contour of his body that indescribable port that tells, better than words, of confidence and victory.

We went by different routes to our rendezvous, and I will leave it to the imagination of my readers to picture our state of mind as we listened to his recital of woe—the tale of Priam's Troy over again.

Mac had been cordially received by the manager, and had told him he would require £20,000 the next day; would he please have it ready? The manager replied that he did not require any more exchange on London, but that he would send out for his broker, who would sell his bills on the exchange. He (the manager) would indorse the bills of exchange and indorse the amounts on his letters of credit. Of course, Mac could only acquiesce, and Mr. Braga sent a clerk to his broker, Mr. Meyers, to come around. This was the sharp-eyed Hebrew whom I saw enter.

The manager introduced Meyers to "Mr. Gregory Morrison," and explained that he was to sell exchange for £20,000 on Morrison's credit, which the bank would indorse. Meyers said: "Please show me your letters." Putting his hand into his breast pocket and pulling out the little morocco case containing the two letters, he handed the case and contents to Meyers, who, probably without suspicion of anything being wrong, unrolled both letters, and holding them in his hands, ran his sharp eyes down one of them and read right through the body of the letter. They came to the "note," which read: "All sums drawn against this credit please en[Pg 172]dorce on the back, and notify the London and Westminster Bank at once." Here he suddenly halted, turned his hawk's eye on Mac and said: "Why, sir, here's the word indorse misspelled. Surely the clerks in the London banks know how to spell!"

Here was a thunderbolt, indeed, that pierced poor Mr. Gregory Morrison through and through, but he showed no sign. He coolly remarked that he did not care to have his bills sold on the exchange, but would go and see the people of the London and Rio and River Plate Banks, as they probably would want exchange and would doubtless let him have what money he required. Meyers said very sharply, "Have you letters to those banks?" "I have," said Mac, at the same time producing two, one to each bank, and each bearing the stamp of their respective banks.

That he had these letters was a happy thing, and no one under forty days' time could say for a fact that they were not genuine. The dramatic production of these letters lulled the fast gathering suspicions, and would have called a halt had they purposed any serious action, for the reason that during the forty days it would take to communicate with London the credits could not be proved to be forgeries. That such letters existed at all was due entirely to the foresight which had provided to meet just such a contingency.

We all were for a brief few seconds utterly dumfounded, but quickly aroused ourselves to the necessity of instant action to protect our comrade. We saw that we must at once give over all thought of trying to do any more business in Rio, and set all our inventions and energy at work to save the £10,000 and to smuggle our companion safely out of Rio. But how?[Pg 173]



Here in our country we know nothing of the annoyances and humbuggery of the passport system, but now, as in 1872, every person desiring to leave Brazil must be provided with a passport—if a foreigner, from his own Government; if a native, one from the government of Brazil. When ready to leave the country he must take his passport to police headquarters and get it vised, at the same time notifying the police of the steamer he proposes to sail on. Leaving the passport with the agent from whom he buys his ticket, the latter, after ascertaining from the police that the intending passenger is not wanted by the authorities, transmits the passport to the purser of the steamer, who, in turn, hands it to the passenger after the vessel is at sea.

It will be seen that these regulations make it difficult for a suspected person to leave Brazil by the regular channels of communication, and there are no back doors of escape in that country. Once in any seaport town you must, if you leave at all, sail out of the harbor mouth, for in the other direction, that is, inland, one is confronted by the mighty tropical forests, the greater portion of which has never been looked upon by the eye of man; and between all the seaports the same impenetrable forest stretches.

So, straight out of the harbor between the Sugar Loaf and Fort Santa Cruz Mac had to sail. How he should do so with safety was the problem we had to solve. In this venture it[Pg 174] would not do to have any blunders. Without doubt the steamers would be watched for him, and instant arrest and incarceration in the deadly tropical prison would be his lot if discovered in the attempt to slip out of the country.

To complicate the matter here it was Monday, and no steamer to sail until Wednesday, so there were forty-eight hours of frightful anxiety ahead of us.

The Ebro, going to Europe, was in the harbor taking in cargo and coal. The Chimborazo, going South, was not yet signaled, and we determined at all hazards to get him off by the Ebro. We all had American passports, and by the use of chemicals could alter the names and descriptions on them at will.

Of course, the names in our passports were the same as we had in our letters. George went to police headquarters, and giving a douceur to an attendant, had the "vise" put on his passport at once. Then going to the passenger agent he bought a ticket to Liverpool by the Ebro, and by paying ten guineas extra had a stateroom assigned to him alone. After this he took a boat and went out to the steamer, carrying with him two bags of oranges and stowed them away under the bottom berths.

To make the escape a success it was decided prudent for George as Wilson to get the agent well acquainted with his face and appearance, so if the question was asked, "Who is this Wilson?" the police would see by the description it was not the man they were looking for. For the next forty hours George made the agent very tired. At one time he would want to know if he could not get some reduction in the passenger rate, or if the Ebro was seaworthy, or if there was any danger of her engines breaking down, etc., until the agent got not only to know "Mr Wilson," but wished him at the bottom of the sea.

When George started for the police office he left Mac and me alone in the park.


[Pg 175]

It was absolutely essential that Mac should put in one more appearance at the bank. It was an ordeal, but one he had to undergo. He even dreaded to return to his hotel, but go he must; so, just before the bank closed, he called in and casually informed the manager that he should start the next morning for S. Romao, a town in the interior of Brazil, to be absent a week. He was then to go to the Hotel d'Europe, pay his bill, at the same time stating that he was to leave Rio by the 4 o'clock train the next morning, for San Paulo. As Mac had two trunks and other impedimenta befitting a man of his importance, it was necessary to take a carriage to the station, which was nearly a mile distant. It would be unsafe to go in a carriage belonging to the hotel; therefore, he was to say that a friend would call for him. As it was still two hours to sunset, I suggested that after he had arranged matters he should saunter out, walk about the streets until dark, then return to the hotel and be ready when George should call for him at 3 o'clock the next morning.

After these arrangements we separated, George and I following to ascertain if he was being watched or shadowed by detectives. When he entered the hotel we remained in view of the entrance. It was not long before he reappeared and walked leisurely along the street. A few seconds after we saw another man come out, cross the street, and go in the same direction. I followed him, and was soon satisfied that he was keeping Mac in view. This sort of double hunt was kept up until dusk, when Mac returned to his hotel, unconscious that a moment later his "shadow" entered the place also. Here was a complication, indeed, though it was no more than we had anticipated among the possibilities; still, I had indulged in the hope that the bank would rely entirely upon the passport system, and take no further steps for a day or two, which was all the time required to carry out our plan. Though Mac had good nerve, it was already somewhat shaken, and surely the situation would have unnerved most men.[Pg 176] Therefore, fearing that the certain knowledge of imminent danger might still further confuse him and cause some false move, we determined to keep our discovery to ourselves.

George next proceeded to an obscure part of the town, and stopping at a small but respectable looking tavern, he engaged a room for the next day, also a carriage, with an English-speaking driver, to be in readiness at 3 o'clock the next morning. Promptly at the hour he was at the livery stable, where he found the carriage ready, and was driven to the Hotel d'Europe. Sending the driver up to the office on the second floor, Mac soon appeared and informed him that he had promised to take to the station a man who was stopping at the hotel. "He is going to S. Romao by the same train," continued Mac, "and seems a good fellow, for I had a long talk with him last night." Upon seeing signs of disapproval in my face, he explained: "Well, you know, he said he could not get a carriage at so early an hour in the morning, and I thought it could do no harm to take him in, and he is waiting upstairs."

Here I joined them, and it would be difficult for the reader to imagine the effect of this surprising communication upon our minds, for it was clear enough that this was the very person who had been "shadowing" Mac the day before, and had skillfully ingratiated himself into his new friend's confidence. I could but admire his nerve in asking a contemplated victim for a ride to the station. I said to Mac: "What in the world can you be thinking of? Don't you see you are blocking our whole plan? Go up and tell him your carriage is loaded down with luggage, and express your regrets that you cannot accommodate him."

During this time the baggage was being placed in the carriage, and as soon as Mac had dismissed his "passenger," who for some reason did not show himself, we started rapidly for the station. On the way I requested him to avoid[Pg 177] making any new friends until he should find himself well out at sea. I said:

"It might be fatal to attract the attention of any one, or to let any one see you leave the train. Of course, this new acquaintance of yours is only a countryman, but it is not possible to foresee what disaster the least mistake or want of caution might originate. These cars are on the English system, divided into compartments. You must go into the station, stand near the ticket office until your new acquaintance comes, then observe if he buys a first-class; if so, you take a second, and vice versa. Pay no attention to him, and let him see you get into your compartment, but keep an eye on his movements. In case he comes to get in where you are, despite the different class of the tickets, tell him the compartment is engaged. Everything depends on how you carry yourself through the next twenty minutes. A single false step, a word too little or too much, will surely prove fatal to all, for if anything happens to you, we remain in Brazil."

In accordance with our pre-arranged plan, I stopped the carriage opposite the station, it being still dark. Mac alighted, went straight inside, and in a few minutes saw his "passenger" come puffing in, nearly out of breath. Unquestionably supposing Mac's baggage to be already on the train, he purchased a ticket, and after seeing his intended victim enter a compartment, got into another himself just as the train began to move. This was the vital moment for which Mac had been waiting, and, quickly opening the door on the opposite side, he stepped off on that side, hastily crossed to the other platform of the dimly lighted station, and made his way unnoticed into the street. While this was passing, I sat in the carriage, and it was not many minutes before I had the satisfaction of seeing Mac coming back. But for the benefit of the driver we then had a dialogue somewhat as follows:

"It is too bad. Our friends have not arrived. What shall we do?"[Pg 178]

"Well, I suppose we must go back to the hotel and wait for the afternoon train," I answered.

"But I have paid my bill there," said Mac, "and do not care to go back."

"Then," I replied, "meet me at the station, and I will look after the luggage."

In case they recovered the trail, the information obtained from the driver would cause confusion and delay sufficient, I hoped, to enable us to get Mac out of Rio.

I then told the coachman to drive me into the city. It was not yet daylight, but after a while I saw a sort of eating house and tavern combined, and had the carriage halted there. Alighting, I entered and said to the person in charge that I did not wish to disturb my friends at so early an hour, and would pay him for taking care of my baggage, as I wished to discharge the carriage. The offer was, of course, accepted, the baggage housed and the carriage dismissed. In the mean time Mac was waiting for us in an appointed place not far away, where I joined him, and we went to the obscure tavern where the room had been engaged. George was awaiting us.

So far our plan was successful. Mac was safely hidden away, while his clever friend was speeding miles away on a wild goose chase. There was only one train a day each way, and we knew the detective could not get back to Rio until late. We felt certain that when he found Mac was not on the train he would think his intended victim had slipped off at some way station—possibly with a view of making his escape into the interior; even if he sent a dispatch to the bank—an unlikely thing for a Brazilian to do—it would doubtless be to the effect that his quarry had left Rio on the early train that morning with him.

[Pg 179]
[Pg 180]


We passed some trying hours together. Then George left to take Mac's baggage off to the steamer. He engaged two stalwart porters; they stand on every corner busily en[Pg 181]gaged in plaiting straw for hats while waiting for a job. Dividing the baggage between the two he had it carried to the wharf, and, taking a small boat, quickly had it stowed in the hold and the small articles carried to the stateroom. Soon after he joined us on shore.

It was but 10 o'clock when he came, and it was with something like dismay that we realized that the whole day was before us. Until the day before, when Mac was in the bank, I had never known how long an hour was, but this day we all came to know how long a day could be.

The Ebro was anchored out in the bay. Her coal was all stowed, but strings of barges laden with sacks of coffee were alongside. She was advertised to sail sharp at noon.

I went out once or twice to the bank and police headquarters, hanging about for a few minutes to see if there was anything suspicious, but there was nothing, and each time I hastened back to Mac.

Our presence cheered him up, and he could not brook our absence. At last the long day drew to an end and the shadows, to our intense relief, began to darken in our little room, where we were holding our watch. The tropic night closes quickly in. Soon the city was shrouded in darkness, and we sallied out to the beach at the head of the bay to find relief in movement. The time passed quicker then, and at last we sat down on some wreckage there and watched the tropic night as it revealed its wealth of stars, and sitting there we began to philosophize, moralizing upon the destiny of man and his relations to things seen and unseen, upon spiritual force; most of all upon divine justice, which in the end evens up all things. But like so many other philosophers who write the style of the gods and make a pish at fortune, we failed to make a personal application of our philosophy.

Near by there was a boat stand from which we had resolved to embark for the steamer about two miles away.[Pg 182] The night was lovely as a dream, and we knew that midnight would find a large number of passengers on deck, many of whom would pass the night there. Forward was all the bustle and confusion inseparable from receiving and stowing cargo.

At 9 o'clock I left them to go and get the remainder of the gold not yet on board—some four thousand pounds. The street cars passed near by, and within half an hour I returned with the gold in a bag swung from my shoulder by a heavy strap. I also had with me a woman's wrap and a silk shawl. We sat for an hour longer, and then securing a boat with two negro rowers, we pulled for the ship. Three or four small boats were fastened to the companion ladder, and our arrival attracted no attention. Two officials in uniform—probably custom officers—stood at the companion way. It was an anxious moment, but we slipped through the dimly lighted cabins and passages, and were soon safely in the stateroom. Bidding both good-bye, and promising to be on board again at 8 in the morning, I went ashore and straight to bed, and soon was dreaming of starlit seas, of tropic woods and Summer bowers, white and sweet with May blossoms. My health then, as now, was perfect, and I awoke fresh and hopeful. After breakfasting on a dish of prawns and another of soft-shelled crabs, I was off across the bay. Soon after 8 I knocked softly at the stateroom door, was admitted and presented the lunch I had brought. They gave me a warm greeting, but neither had slept. The room had been hot and stuffy, and the noise of stowing cargo had helped to banish sleep. Both were unnerved somewhat, but I had just come off shore confident and cheerful, and my confidence and spirits proved infectious.

I knew by sight the chief of police and those just under him. I also knew Braga, the bank manager, by sight. They, of course, did not know me, and I could, unsuspected, be a looker-on in Vienna. Soon the passengers, their friends[Pg 183] and many idle visitors came off in boatloads, while I, of course, scrutinized every boatload as it came up the side of the ship.

At 9.30 I saw a boat coming, which, when half a mile away, I recognized as containing the chief of police and several of his subordinates; ten minutes after Braga and one of the bank officials came, the only passengers in their boat, and at once joined the police on the after deck and stood with them waiting and watching the boats as they arrived. In the mean time babel reigned around the ship. About three score boats surrounded her, the owners selling to the passengers everything from oranges to monkeys, snakes and parrots.

I determined to conceal from George and Mac that Braga and the police were on the ship, and about every twenty minutes I would slip down and report "All's well;" but soon after 10 o'clock the enemy were joined by the ticket agent from shore, and I could see they were contemplating some movement. Slipping down to the cabin, I said: "Boys, everything is all right; keep perfectly cool. Braga and the police are pulling to the ship and may search it; if so, it will take half an hour to get here. I will keep everything in my eye and give you ample notice." I then returned on deck and stood among the officials. They conversed in Portuguese, which was Greek to me; soon the agent dived below and reappeared with the manifest of the passengers, and an enormous heap of passports. After some conversation they sent the passports back; then, headed by the agent and purser, manifest in hand, they began to verify the list and scrutinize the passengers in the staterooms. Once more I hurried below and reported.

Mac was naturally very dignified, but divesting himself of coat, vest and dignity at the same time, he planted himself under the berth. Very close and very hot quarters he found it, and we put the bags of oranges in front, disposing of them[Pg 184] so as to make it appear as if they filled the whole space, when in reality they were a mere screen.

Then we opened the door to the fullest extent. We had taken off our coats—it being frightfully hot—and with a bottle of claret and a bowl of ice standing on the little washstand and two glasses all in full view, we awaited the arrival of our friends, the enemy.

Our door was flat against the partition, giving a full sweep of the room to the eye of the passerby, and George and I waited confidently for the inspection we knew was inevitable. I sat on the foot of the lower berth, smoking and swinging my feet. George sat on a folding camp-stool, with his face toward the door, but not obstructing the view. Soon the procession arrived, with the ticket agent in front. When he saw George he at once recognized him as the Mr. Wilson who had bought the ticket, and he simply said: "How do you do, Mr. Wilson?" and passed on without looking in the room. Braga and the police followed, casually glanced at us two, and were gone. I put on my coat and followed the procession, and at 11.30 they went up on the after deck, evidently satisfied that their man was not on the ship, and contented themselves with watching new arrivals. I flew down, gave them the good news that the search was over, and poor Mac, half-roasted, came from behind the bags of oranges. Declaring he was roasted alive and dying of thirst, he finished the bottle of iced claret.

Ten minutes before 12 the bell was rung and all people for shore were warned to leave. Soon we heard the pleasant sound of the steam winch lifting the anchor, and at noon precisely, to our relief, the screw began to revolve at quarter speed, and the Ebro to respond by forging slowly ahead. All boats fell off but ours and the police boat. At last, after giving a good look up and down the bay, Braga and the police entered the boats, and, casting off, soon were left behind. Once more and for the last time I flew down[Pg 185] to the cabin. They saw the good news in my face; then, shaking Mac's hand in hearty farewell, we ran to the upper deck, down the ladder into our boat, and a moment later the big ship, putting on full steam, left us astern, we ordering the boatman to pull hard after the ship. Mac soon appeared on the after deck, and waved his handkerchief to us in farewell. We gave him three cheers, and, excited and happy, with our long anxiety over, we returned to the shore.

With Mac sailing northward ho! with Wilson's passport and ticket in his pocket, and all our money save two thousand pounds in his trunk, our buccaneering expedition on the Spanish Main was over and all but a failure when comparing the £10,000 we had captured with our magnificent expectations.

Here was a gigantic and well-conceived scheme which had almost collapsed through trifles, which, to an honest enterprise would have been light as air, but which to us and to our plans were of crushing force, built up, as all schemes of wrong doing are, on foundations of sand.

To conclude very briefly the narrative of this expedition, I will here add that the day after Mac's departure, altering his passport to fit George's description, we sailed on the Chimborazo south to Montevideo. Upon our arrival we, with all other passengers for the town, were promptly put in quarantine for ten days in a vile little island called in irony the Isle of Flowers; but the mails were fumigated and sent through, as were two additional mails arriving from Europe and Rio. When our quarantine was over we were permitted to enter the city. We found that some advice or rumor had reached there, and we feared to venture our letters of credit for money. So, destroying all documents save our passports, we paid a visit to Buenos Ayres, and then we embarked on a French steamer for Marseilles, arriving there without any particular adventure, and the next day had a happy meeting with Mac in Paris.[Pg 186]



Once more together and our adventures since we separated related, the question arose: What next?

We determined to abandon our dangerous business, for we had capital sufficient to start in an honest career, and resolved to do so. For a long time our attention had been turned to Colorado, and we had frequently talked over a project of going to some growing city there, starting a bank and building a wheat elevator and stockyards. Fifty thousand dollars would start our bank, and $10,000, with some credit, the elevator and yards. This sum we had, with an additional $10,000 to pay our way until profit came in from our investments. Here was another great and honorable scheme—one easily carried out had we only gone on with it. What a success we might have made, particularly so when considered in the light of the development of Colorado since 1872 and our energy and knowledge of business.

In Paris we all stopped at the Hotel Meurice, Rue Rivoli, and spent much time sightseeing. We were particularly interested in viewing the battlefields around Paris—so interested, in fact, that we read up the whole history of the mighty struggle with Germany, which ended in throwing France into the dust. We, like most of the world here, got our ideas of the war and the battles from the current news of the day, as published in the newspapers, and we had a general idea that the Frenchmen had not made much of a fight.[Pg 187] That conclusion could only be arrived at by a superficial knowledge such as had been ours. Investigation upon the spot and a study of impartial authorities soon opened our eyes to the fact that France only succumbed after a mighty and most heroic struggle. The first few weeks of the war saw her entire regular army captive, and transported prisoners across the Rhine. That army had made a brave but unfortunate fight. Badly commanded, with the transport and subsistence utterly demoralized, they were no match for the mighty hosts that Germany poured across the Rhine. Perfectly equipped, matchless in discipline since the palmy days of Rome, commanded by the foremost military intellects of the age, they met the French, overmatching them at every point of contact; enveloping their columns with masses of infantry, or sweeping them with murderous storms of shot and shell, or launching a magnificent cavalry at them, against which French valor—ill directed as it was—proved futile, and that splendid array of 480,000 men had to ground their arms, surrender their colors, and, to their own unspeakable shame and humiliation, become captive to their foes, leaving their beloved France defenseless. But the loss of their army, no more than their thronging foes, dismayed France. The heart of the nation was stirred, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic, from the Channel to the blue Mediterranean, France rose as one man. They saw the entire military force of Germany encamped on their soil, and in their undisciplined valor, hurled themselves against it, and gave to their astounded foes an exhibition of Titanic force and determined valor whose story, when known, will become the admiration of all generations of men.

It was against the decree of Heaven that France should win in the struggle, but she fell only to rise the higher for the fall. The year 1871 saw France in the dust, with the armies of her foe encamped over more than half her soil, with robber-like demands for huge sums of gold ere the modern[Pg 188] Goths would march home again. To-day she stands the marvel of the world. Twice the France of 1870, with the busy hum of industry through all her borders, an overflowing treasury, a contented people and an army and many which are the awe of Europe. To-day the enemy that flung her to earth twenty-four years ago, seeks safety from her attack in defensive alliances with all the nations of the Continent.

We resolved to see Europe before returning to America, so the next few weeks were spent in a pleasure jaunt.

In the course of it we visited Vienna, remaining there some time and bringing away many and pleasant memories of that music-loving old city on the Danube. We finally all returned to Wiesbaden together and visited the Casino, watching the play and players with an interest that never flagged. Here we saw such vast sums of money ever changing hands that we almost insensibly began to think the thousands we had were as nothing, and when divided up, the sum coming to each seemed almost beggarly.

Gradually we began to speculate as to the desirability of doubling our capital once or twice at least, before we threw up our hands and gave up the game. I need hardly tell the reader that what at first was a philosophical speculation, an airy theory of a possibility, rapidly crystallized into steadfast purpose and determinate resolve, and soon our brains were working, and readily brought forth a new scheme. For was not there the Bank of England, with uncounted millions in her vaults, and was not I, as Frederick Albert Warren, a customer of the bank, and as such were not the vaults of the bank at our disposition?

We rated our powers high and fondly thought that, speaking in a general way, honesty was the best policy, yet in our case there was an exception to the rule. We felt and acknowledged we were doing wrong, but since the wrong (apparently) profited us, we would do wrong that good might come thereby.[Pg 189]

Finally we resolved to go on with our postponed assault upon the money bags of the Bank of England, at the same time evolving a plan that seemed to promise unbounded wealth and complete immunity for us all.

So we packed our baggage, bade farewell to Wiesbaden, and one early June morning in 1872 saw us all once more in smoky London, resolved to rouse that Old Lady called the Bank of England from her century-long slumber spent in dreaming of her impregnability.

In Frankfort there are several firms, Fischer by name, all bankers, and as soon as we determined to return to London, Mac wrote a letter in French to the Bank of England and signed it H. V. Fischer, which, of course, would leave the manager to suppose his correspondent was one of the Fischer bankers. In the letter he said his distinguished customer, Mr. F. A. Warren, had written him from St Petersburg, requesting him to transfer to his account in the Bank of England the small balance remaining to his credit on his (Fischer's) books, therefore he had the honor to inclose bills on London for £13,500, payable to the order of the manager, said sum to be placed to the credit of Mr. F. A. Warren.

I took this letter to Frankfort, and, having purchased bills of exchange on London to the amount named, inclosed them and mailed the letter. A day or so after I received a letter at Frankfort from the manager of the bank, acknowledging the receipts of the drafts, and announcing that the proceeds of the same had duly been placed to the credit of F. A. Warren. So I had over $67,000 to my credit, and had now been a depositor for five months.

George took up his residence at a private house in the west end of London, while Mac and I went to the Grosvenor Hotel.

This hotel was one of the very few then in England which were allowed by the aristocrats of London society to be what[Pg 190] they called highly respectable, that is, exclusive, and, therefore, a fit dwelling place for their dainty selves. In Dublin there is one of these highly respectable hostels, the Gresham, on Sackville street. This hotel was a type of all of the sort I mention. I once stopped at the Gresham for a week and became one of the "nobility and gentry" that frequent these hotels. The waiters all wore full-dress suits, faultless in cut and fit, and the chief event in their daily existence, the serving of the table d'hote, wore white kid gloves. The bewildering changes of varied colored dishes (I mean crockery ware), was something to make one stare. Course number one brought on a soup dish of pale violet color, quite a work of art, but its contents was a watery compound with an artistic name. Course number two consisted of a unique plate, light green in color, with little fishes wriggling through green waves, but bearing on it a small insipid portion of a genuine inhabitant of the deep; and so on, course followed course, each on a different colored plate. If the dinner was intended for an exhibition of crockery, each one of the seven I had there was a success, but, however gratifying to the eye the dinners might be, they were lamentable failures so far as stomach and appetite were concerned; but when I came to pay my bill I found the white kid gloves and the fancy china again; they were all in it, and many more things as well. The bill was more than a foot long, filled with such items as soap, sixpence; one envelope, one penny; one sheet note paper, one penny; bath, two shillings; extra towels and soap for same, sixpence, and so on through the line.

We found the Grosvenor another Gresham. However, as we wanted to stop at a swell hotel, we concluded—so long as we were there—to remain; but after a few days we found the cuisine "highly respectable;" that is, for dinner one could get roast—either beef or mutton. As for vegetables, we were strictly limited to turnips, cauliflowers, cabbage and[Pg 191] potatoes, and, for dessert, the famous apple tart of England, more deadly even than our mince pie.


The proprietor of a certain popular restaurant in New York has a fad for hanging elaborately got-up Scripture texts—exhortations mostly—around the walls of his restaurant. Interspersed with these are advertisements of his eatables—also exhortations—such as, "Try our buckwheat cakes, 10 cents;" "Try our doughnuts and coffee;" between the two exhortations, a third bidding one flee from the wrath to come; but the most fetching of all are two companion cards. On the one is the legend, "Try our hot mince pie;" on the other is displayed the apropos warning, "Prepare to meet thy God."

So we resolved to sleep at the Grosvenor, but to avoid the apple tart. We soon discovered a good restaurant near by, where we dined, and, as I am on the subject of dining, I will finish this chapter with a little narrative, the moral of which I will leave my readers to find: We were now settled down in London, prepared to devote all our attention to that Old Lady—The B. of E.—and, in accordance with a habit of ours, we began to look for some safe place—hotel, cafe or restaurant—where we could meet, run in at any time for consultation, or to write notes. Three things were requisite—nearness to the money centre of the city, a room where we could be secluded from people coming and going, and a proprietor clever enough not to be inquisitive, with a genius for minding his own business. A man who has a genius for that thing always carries it in his face, just as his opposite—the busybody—carries the traces of his restless inquisitiveness in the face and manner.

That same day we discovered, in a small street leading off Finsbury, a shop with a sign over the door bearing the legend: "Licensed to sell spirits and caterer." It had canned and potted meats, along with bottles of wine, in the window, but was evidently fast going to seed. We pushed our way[Pg 192] in and found a bright, fresh-looking young Englishman, evidently a countryman, but intelligent and civil, much like a gamekeeper. We knew at once we had our place and man.

After some weeks we observed, now and then, a couple of sharp-looking customers hanging about the place.

We feared being watched, and began to think it time to change, so suddenly ceased calling at mine host's snuggery and took up new quarters in a private house not far away. About two months later I happened to be near and called. He received me warmly, and told me we had saved him from bankruptcy. He had been a gamekeeper on a nobleman's estate, and his wife had been a housemaid there. They married against the wishes of their master, but they had five hundred pounds, and, coming to London, started business on that. Custom was poor, and soon they were at the end of their rope, when, happily for them, we came along and spent money enough in his place to set him on his feet again.


[Pg 193]



Although I had the very respectable balance of $67,000 at the bank, I had not as yet, since my arrival in London, paid it a visit. This was in pursuance of our plans. So far I had only done business with the supernumeraries, and none of the people at the top had ever even heard of me. But we determined that they should not long remain in ignorance of the great American contractor, F. A. Warren.

Three months had elapsed since our departure from London on our piratical tour to the Spanish Main. In all nearly five months had elapsed since Green had introduced me to the Old Lady whose impregnable vaults we had now at last determined to loot. That in itself was a favorable circumstance, as it would give me a chance to flourish in a grandly indefinite way to the effect that I had "for some time" been a customer of the bank, and none of the officials would probably take the trouble to ascertain how very brief, in fact, my acquaintance had been.

I left London by the night mail from Victoria Station for Paris, the first of many hurried trips I took to the Continent on the business we had entered upon. Truly, we worked hard, spent money lavishly, brought all our power and genius to work—for what? To have the lightning fall on us.

Upon my arrival I drove at once to the Hotel Bristol, Place Vendome, a swell hotel, where none but the great sirs o' the earth could afford to stop.[Pg 194]

Here I registered as F. A. Warren, London, and at once sent off the following letter:

P. M. Francis, Esq., Manager Bank of England, London.

Dear Sir: I am a customer of the bank, therefore I take the liberty of troubling you in the hope to have the benefit of your advice.

Will you kindly inform me what good 4 per cent. stocks are to be had in the market, also if the bank will transact the business for me?

I remain very truly yours,


By return mail came a letter wherein I was advised to invest in India 4 per cents or London Gas. I wrote an immediate order to have the bank purchase ten thousand pounds of India stock and sent my check for that amount, on his own bank, payable to the order of the manager. I received the stock, instantly sold it, and replaced the money to my credit, and the next day sent off an order for ten thousand pounds gas stock, and repeated the operation until I had made the impression I wanted to make on the mind of the manager, so that when I returned to London for my decisive interview and sent in my card he would at once recognize the name, F. A. Warren, as the multi-millionaire American who had been sending him ten thousand pound checks from Paris.

All the time of my stay in France I had nothing to do but enjoy myself, and I entered upon a systematic sightseeing in and around Paris. There are some strange contrasts in that old town. One day I made one of a coaching party to Fontainebleau, twenty-one miles from the city. Every foot of the road there is classic ground, and I had assiduously studied day by day the history of France. That Paris is France is nearly a truth, and I had in my mind a tolerably clear view of the history of the country and of the men who made its history. I was right there on the scene of the history-making, and I found an intensity of interest in my excursions such as I had never experienced before. The driver[Pg 195] of the coach was an Englishman by the name of Nunn. I mention this here, as he eventually became my servant, and will appear again in the narrative.

To the Parisian hotel proprietor and shopkeeper the American visitor is truly a providence. "Mine host" looks to him for loaves and fishes, and is never deceived. The antics of our rich countrymen in Paris are portentous in their amazing prodigality, and I fear we are the laughing stock of the shopkeepers there.

At the Cafe Riche and Tortoni's I have seen extravagances in ordering expensive wines and viands by my countrymen that made me regret that the fools who were being served were not forced to toil for the mere necessaries of existence. Certainly they were unworthy stewards of the wealth heaven or the other place had bestowed on them by inheritance. I remember one boy there throwing away in vice and dissipation the fortune his father had through years of a long life spent toilsome hours in accumulating. I sat at a table near him on several occasions, when, after his banquet was half over, he used to reward the waiter with a five-hundred franc note ($100), but the proprietor was ever close at hand and would instantly despoil the garcon of his prize. He was companioned by a member of the demi-monde, who, when arrayed in male attire, as she was nightly, would cut up enough monkey tricks in one night at the Valentino or Mabille to have made the fortunes of all our comic paper artists had they been on the spot to catch her antics with a kodak and then lay them before an admiring public.

The fortune this boy had inherited was unfortunately too vast and too well-invested by his overfond and madly foolish father for the son to run through it entirely. A very few years left him an imbecile in body and mind, to become the prey of a parcel of sharks who, dressing in purple and fine linen and faring sumptuously every day, held him in a state of abject slavery and fear. One day, aboard his own yacht,[Pg 196] off Naples, they married him to a notorious woman. Under the guardianship of his wife and her villain paramour he wandered like a spectre amid the scene of his former riot.

For long at Monte Carlo he lingered like a ghost, and at last died in Florence. The American colony attended his funeral in a body, while his widow, dissolved in tears, refused to be comforted. Although many dark stories were whispered, the Americans there forgave her all, for her grief and sorrow were so overpoweringly evident that it would have seemed a crime to doubt her tender love for the departed. After having the body embalmed, she embarked with her dead love for America, and to-day his ashes rest in that mighty city of the dead, Greenwood, under a Greek cross of white marble, bearing the date of birth and death. I went to see it last Easter week. The grave was strewn with flowers, and the pedestal bears this inscription:

"Too good for this world,
The angels bore him to heaven,
Leaving his heartbroken wife
To mourn her unspeakable loss."

Unopposed she succeeded to her husband's estate. It was large then; to-day it has grown to enormous proportions. She is not, but easily might have been, one of the Four Hundred.

At Saratoga last August I saw her sitting on the balcony of the United States Hotel—fat, wrinkled, vulgar-looking, covered with diamonds. Nemesis appears to have postponed her visit to the lady. Her life from her own standpoint has been a tremendous success. She has been philosopher enough to appreciate what an immense factor mere eating and drinking is in the sum of human enjoyment. Born with a cold heart, a constitution of iron, and the digestion of an ostrich, happily for her peace of mind she was absolutely without imagination.[Pg 197]


[Pg 198]
[Pg 199]

To fill the sum of human happiness (from her own standpoint) she only required one other thing, a good bank account, and that, she said, heaven had put in her way, so her life has been filled full of joy, and of the only sort she cared for or could appreciate. In her early years, when her passions were strong, lover and paramour followed in rapid succession. When her blood grew cold she found her delight in the pleasures of the table, and keeping the same cook, who was an expert, for twenty years, and exercising freely, 1894 found her at 60 with a strong pulse, a perfect digestion and a keen enjoyment of sport, racing in particular, and, on the whole, enjoying life as well as any woman in the universe, with no regrets, no torturing remorse, but with a serene faith that when done with this world she—never having done anything very bad here—will have a pretty good time in the world to come.


[Pg 200]



After the events narrated in the last chapter, I returned to London. I arrived early in the morning, and, meeting my companions, we had a long and anxious talk over my near-approaching and all-important interview with that great Sir of the London world, the manager of the Bank of England. Happy for us if in that interview the manager had asked for the customary references, or had used ordinary business precaution and investigated me, or, indeed, had acted as any ordinary business man would have done under ordinary circumstances. Our own conclusions were that the fact that I was already a depositor, together with the impression made by the letters and my £10,000 checks, would put the thing through. Yet we, of course, felt that a thousand things could arise to block our way effectually. A look, a word too much, a shadow, or a smile in my face might ruin all; but still, after providing so far as possible for every contingency, after planning what was to be said or left unsaid at the interview, after my companions filling me full of advice, we felt after all that everything must be left to my discretion, to say and to act as I thought best under the circumstances.

This council of war was held in my room in the Grosvenor. I had arrived from Paris at 6 o'clock. Mac and I breakfasted together at 8. George joined us at 9, and we talked until 10, then we set out together for the bank. Arriving there, they remained outside, watching for my reappearance. En[Pg 201]tering the bank, I sent in my card (F. A. Warren) by a liveried flunkey, and was immediately ushered into the manager's parlor. He has long since gone over to the majority, so here I will not so much as name or describe him. Sufficient to say, that as soon as I set eyes upon him I thought that we would have no particular difficulty in carrying out our plans, save only so far as details went.

The manager, who had been told that I was a railroad contractor, expressed himself highly gratified to have me do my business through the bank, and said they would do all in their power to accommodate me. I told him that, of course, I was financing large sums, and would require more or less discounts before the year was out. Then I came away, and meeting my two friends outside of the bank, in answer to their eager inquiries as to what had transpired, I told them that, so far as the bank officials were concerned, our way to the vaults of the bank was wide open.

So ended the last scene of Act I.

The next day I went to the Continental Bank, in Lombard street, and bought sight exchange on Paris for 200,000 francs, paying for it by a check on the Bank of England. I was given a note of identification to the Paris agent of the bank.

That night I left Victoria Station for Paris. At 10 the next morning I had my money, and, going to the Place de la Bourse, near the Exchange, I commissioned a broker, who was a member of the Exchange, to purchase bills on London for £8,000. I cautioned him to buy bills drawn only on well-known banking houses. About 3 o'clock he had the bills ready. I paid him the amount, along with his commission, and, examining the paper, found that he had purchased for me about what I wanted.

I will explain, for the benefit of any reader not conversant with financial transactions, that if John Russell, cotton broker in Savannah, ships a thousand bales of cotton to a firm in Manchester, England, the firm in Manchester authorizes him[Pg 202] to draw a bill of exchange on their firm, payable at some London bank at three or six months' time, for the value of the cotton. We will say the price is £10,000. Russell draws ten bills for £1,000 each, say payable at the Union Bank of London. He gives these bills to a money broker in Savannah, who sells them on the Exchange and gets for them whatever the rate of exchange may then be on London. The president of the Georgia Central Railroad may have ordered a thousand tons of steel rail in England for his road, and to pay for them he orders a broker to buy for him bills on London to the amount of the cost of the rails. He purchases the Russell bills, and these bills of exchange he sends in payment to the steel rail manufacturers in England, so, as a matter of fact, the president of the Georgia Central pays Russell for his thousand bales of cotton, but has the bills of exchange. So, in place of £10,000 in gold being freighted twice across the ocean, the ten pieces of paper cross only once. These ten bills for £1,000 each, drawn on the Union Bank of London at six months, in due time are presented, duly accepted and paid at maturity by the bank.

Instead of commercial notes or bills they are now known as acceptances, and are just as good as a bank note. Therefore, if the owner—no matter who it is—wants the money at once, any bank will discount all or either for the face value less the interest. In every commercial centre of the world these accepted bills are being discounted by banks and moneyed corporations for enormous sums, but by no bank in the world in such huge amounts as by the Bank of England. Their daily discounts run into the millions.

What our plan was will be made clear later.

[Pg 203]

View larger image

The evening of the day of my arrival in Paris found me on the express speeding to Paris. Two hours past midnight I was on the miserable little passenger steamer that plies across the chopping channel, and which I suppose has seen more of human misery than all the fleets that sail the Atlantic, for[Pg 204] the channel has stronger counter currents, and wind, tide and currents seem ever to be in violent opposition, and here

"E'er across the main doth float
A sad and solemn swell,
The wild, fantastic, fitful note
Of Triton's breathing shell."

And Triton (old Neptune's t'other name) makes all passers over this part of his realm pay ample tribute for "his fantastic, fitful notes."

The Paris night express lands one at early dawn in London, nearly always weak on the legs, however. I breakfasted with Mac, and after that took the bills to the various banks on which they were drawn, and leaving them for their acceptance, I called again the next day and received them back, bearing across the face, the magic words:

"London, Aug. 14, 1872.

"Accepted for the Union Bank of London.

"E. Barclay, Manager.

"J. Wayland, Assistant Manager."

Then I hurried to the Grosvenor, and we all looked at them with curiosity, for it was upon the imitation of just such acceptances that our whole plan was based. I intended to present this and many more batches of genuine bills for discount at the bank until the officials should become accustomed to discounting for me. In the mean time, as fast as I got genuine acceptances and bills, we kept on making imitations of them for future use, only leaving out the date until such time as we should be ready to put them in for discount. Of course, the success or failure of our whole plan turned upon this point. Is it the custom of the Bank of England (in 1873) to send acceptances offered for discount to the acceptors for verification of signatures?

This is always done in America, and had this very requisite precaution been used by the Bank of England our plan[Pg 205] would have been fruitless and we should have been a few thousands out of pocket; but, if not, then we could throw into the hopper enough acceptances of home manufacture so that through the red tape routine of the bank millions of sovereigns would be ground out into our pockets.

Taking my deposit book and the genuine bills, I went to the bank and left the bills for discount. This was at once done and the amount placed to my credit. I drew £10,000, and that night found me once more one of 500 unfortunates paying tribute to Neptune. This time I landed at Ostend and took the train for Amsterdam. There I repeated the Paris operation, securing £10,000 in genuine bills. I returned to London, and as before left them for acceptance. Then my companion manufactured a lot of imitations and put them away with those previously manufactured, to be all ready when the day came to use them. The genuine bills were then discounted. Again and again I went to the Continent, repeating the operation, until at last my credit at the bank was firm as a rock, and we were ready to reap our harvest. But these operations, simple as they seem, lasted over a period of six months, and had been made at heavy cost. Our ordinary living expenses were not less than $25 a day for the three, while our extraordinary expenses were enormous. I probably traveled 10,000 miles over the Continent in my bill-buying expeditions to Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfort and Vienna.

Another source of expense was the commissions paid to brokers for buying bills on the exchange. Then we had many expenses purely personal, and, enormous as it seems, the sum total from the day of our return from Brazil until the day of our operations against the bank began to bring us in cash were quite $500 a week, so that we had invested $15,000 in preparation, not to speak of our hard work—and it was hard work, and trying, too, for there were a multitude of details to be worked out.[Pg 206]



All the details of events leading through the long Summer and Autumn days of 1872 up to the hour when the golden shower began to fall on us are of intense, almost dramatic, interest. I will not, however, lengthen the narrative by giving here any further account of them, but will merely relate the story of the last five days before the actual presentation of our home-brewed acceptances.

The bank had been discounting for weeks comparatively large sums for me. Many thousand pounds of the genuine article discounted had matured and been paid, and more thousands were still in the vaults, awaiting maturity, and would fall due, while our home-manufactured bills would be laid away in the vaults, there to remain for four or five months until due. Of course a full month or two months before that we could pack our baggage and be on the other side of the world; I on some hacienda in Mexico, George and Mac at some fashionable resort in Florida. They soon to knock at the gates of the Four Hundred, I to spend a year or two in Mexico, playing "grand senor," until, under the skillful management of our friends, Irving, Stanley and White, at Police Headquarters in New York, the affair had blown over, and they invited me to return.

But, as the sequel will show, the reality took on a different complexion from the ideal.


[Pg 207]

My credit at the bank was solid as a rock. That means I had gone through the red-tape routine. It only behooved us to use circumspection enough to avoid making mistakes in our papers, and fortune was ours. I knew everything was all right, but George, being a thorough business man himself, could not comprehend that it could be quite right, and he insisted upon one supreme test. Any single bill of exchange is seldom drawn for more than £1,000, rarely for £2,000, and one of £6,000 is almost unheard of. If a party in Bombay wanted exchange on London for £100,000, his broker would probably furnish him with one hundred bills for £1,000 each. But George had made up his mind that as a test, and to make an impression upon the bank manager, I should go to Paris and get a bill on London from Rothschilds drawn to the order of F. A. Warren direct. Could this be done it would, of course, make it appear that I had intimate relations with the Rothschilds, and as a minor consideration we could use the Rothschild acceptance—a pretty nervy thing to do, as Sir Anthony de Rothschild, the head of the London house, whose name we proposed to offer, was a director of the Bank of England, and would have to pass his own paper for discount—that is, paper bearing his name, manufactured by ourselves.

We tried to talk George out of this notion, which Mac and I regarded as a freak, unnecessary in the first place, and impossible anyhow. But he was persistent, and I had to start out and try. I expected an expense of $1,000 and a delay of two weeks, but fortune or the devil favored us. So, purchasing at the exchange broker's in London 200,000 francs in French paper money, once more I left Victoria Station for Paris. Once more, an unwilling victim, I heard the "wild, fantastic, fitful note of Triton's breathing shell." At Calais I took my place in what the French call a coupe; that is, the end compartment on a car, which, by paying ten francs extra, you can occupy alone. It is unlike the[Pg 208] other compartments in that there are no arms dividing it into seats; so one can lie full length on the cushion.

Before this night I speak of I had cherished a theory as to what I should do in the event of an accident happening to any train whereon I was a passenger. In such a case I proposed to catch on to some object and hold on, leaving my body and limbs to swing freely. My theory ever since that night has been that I will go just wherever the breaking timbers and flying furniture send me. I had fallen into a sound sleep before the train started, and was aroused from it to find myself hurled about the compartment much as a stout boy would shake a mouse in a cage, and quite as helpless.

Our train was off the track. My carriage was near the engine, and the momentum of the long train forced the car in the rear of mine up on end, and it appeared as if it would fall over and crush me. I thought my hour had come, and I cried out, "At last!" There was no fear or terror in it, but merely the thought that after many months of almost incessant travel, and necessarily of peril, "at last" my fate had come. It had not. How good heaven would have been if it had sent me to my doom then and there!

The accident had occurred at Marquise, a small town sixteen miles from Calais and four from Boulogne, the first stopping place of the express. It was a very long train, but the carriages were all empty except two. A heavy excursion train had left Paris, and the cars were going back empty. What lessened the number of passengers was the fact that it was Sunday night. The English do not travel on Sundays as a rule. So, fortunately, a great loss of life was prevented. However, two were killed and half of the remaining passengers injured. My own injuries were slight and consisted of trifling cuts on the face and hands from flying glass. But, far worse than that, I had received a nervous shock, which took some weeks to wear off, and during[Pg 209] the rest of my journey to Paris and return to London I was as nervous as a timid woman. I stayed at Marquise until noon, when the express passing at that hour made a special stop to pick me up.

In our glorious and free country the killing or mangling of a few persons more or less is of no particular concern to any one beyond the friends of the victims, least of all to the railway magnate or to his servant. But in France an accident which results even in the wounding of a passenger is a very serious matter to the road where it occurs and to its officials. They always hasten to take the fullest responsibility, and if attention or the more solid matter—cash—can comfort the sufferer, he will have no occasion to mourn long. If one life be lost—even a servant of the road—a strict judicial inquiry takes place upon the scene of the accident, by a high official of the State, advised by experts, not as in this country, by some drunken country loafer or ward heeler, who, all ignorant of the law, has been "elected" county coroner, and one who is more anxious to procure free passes on the road than he is concerned for the victim murdered by the neglect or parsimony of inefficient railway officials.

The road from Paris to Calais is known as the Chemin de Fer du Nord, and Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, head of the Paris Rothschilds, is the president of the road. This fact occurred to me within a few minutes of the accident, and I thought I might make use of the affair as a means to help me in my business at Paris. I arrived about dark, went to the Grand Hotel, and to bed at once. My nerves were so shaken that I was timid, even when in the elevator, but I slept well and awoke at daylight feeling better.

At 10 o'clock, limping badly and leaning on a cane, I entered a carriage and drove to the Maison Rothschild, Rue Lafitte. The banking house might well be called a palace. The various offices open upon a courtyard, while the whole architecture of the building would suggest the residence of[Pg 210] an officer of State or nobleman rather than a building devoted to finance. But the currents which centre there are potent and far-reaching, and come richly laden with tribute from the four quarters of the world. To win that tribute slaves toil, and, toiling, die, in Brazilian diamond mines, and thousands of coolies, entrapped by agents in China and India, enter into perfidious contracts which commit them to hopeless slavery and send them to wear out their lives in despairing toil amid the pungent and murderous ammoniacal fumes of the guano islands of Chili and Peru. The Rothschilds, too, own the Almaden quicksilver mine and others.

They control the quicksilver industries of the world, and to swell their abnormal hoard, portentous in its vastness, other poor wretches, condemned under form of law, are doomed to days of wearing toil, and, their bones rotting from quicksilver absorption, to nights of racking pains. So, too, far Siberia contributes its quota of human misery that the golden stream of interest on century-old loans may have no interruption, but pour on unceasingly into the vaults of the Rothschilds.

Alighting from the carriage and mounting the steps with difficulty, I entered the English Department, and, seating myself, awaited the manager's presence. He came, and expressing great concern when he learned I was a victim of the Marquise disaster, asked what he could do for me. I replied I wanted to see the Baron. He disappeared into a range of offices, and no doubt told Baron Alphonse I was some important personage, doubly important because injured on his road.

Soon a slight, sallow man of about 43 appeared, wearing an old-fashioned stovepipe hat and a shabby suit of snuff-colored garments. The look of the attendants testified that the deity was before me. Taking off his antiquated chapeau he began a profuse apology for the accident, explaining[Pg 211] that accidents were most unusual events in France; that he would order his own physician to attend me, that I should have every attention without the slightest charge or expense to myself, etc., etc., and ended by saying I was to command him if he could serve me. In return I told him since he was so distressed over the accident and my plight, I should say no more about either, but as I was too badly shaken to complete the business on which I had come to Paris I should request him to instruct his subordinates to aid me in transmitting the funds I had brought from London back again. He called the manager and told him to accommodate me in anything, then, shaking hands and with many expressions of regret, he withdrew.

I told the manager I wanted a three months' bill on London for £6,000. He informed me that the house of Rothschild was not issuing time bills, but since the Baron's order suspended the rule in my case, he would procure me six bills for £1,000 each. These really were just as good for our purpose as one bill for £6,000, but I had come to Paris on George's demand that I should procure one bill for this unusual amount, so perforce I had to say "No," that I wanted one bill only.

The manager began to remonstrate, saying it was unusual, and wanted to explain the nature of a bill of exchange, but I cut him short, bidding him recall the Baron at once. The thought of recalling that Jupiter to repeat an order was enough to send a thrill through the entire staff, and he instantly said: "Oh, sir, if you wish the £6,000 in one bill, you shall have it, but it will involve some delay." So paying him 150,000 francs on account, I ordered the bill sent to me at 2 o'clock precisely at the Grand Hotel, and drove off to the Louvre, where I spent two hours in the picture galleries. At 2 o'clock I was at the hotel, and an attendant came with the bill, and, pointing to a signature on it, informed me it was that of a Cabinet Minister, equivalent to our Secretary[Pg 212] of the Treasury, certifying that the tax due the government on the bill was paid. He explained the revenue stamp required upon a bill of exchange was one-eighth of 1 per cent. of the face of the bill, making the tax on my single bill 187 francs, or about $37. All bills are stamped in a registering machine, which presses the stamp into the paper; but there were no registering machines for a stamp of so high a denomination as 187 francs either in the branch revenue office in the Rothschild bank or at the Treasury, so the Baron had taken the bill to the Treasury himself and got the Cabinet Minister to put his autograph on it—probably the first and only time in history that such a thing had been done. I wanted very much indeed to keep that bill as a curiosity, but then the necessity of the time was on me, and I was not then a collector of curios.

I had been only eighteen hours in Paris, and by a happy fluke the business was done over which I had counted upon spending a good part of the month.

When I left London I was all at sea as to how I should carry out the objects of my visit to Paris. One plan was to procure an interview by strategy with the Baron Alphonse and try to cajole him, but without reference, and devoid of all business relations or acquaintance in Paris, it was at best a questionable expedient, and I probably would have had a take-down. But the accident at Marquise came and smoothed the apparently insuperable difficulties in my way. But I have found that something unusual does come to help a man on his way to the devil when he is anxious to get there, which he is pretty sure to do, if he is only diligent and careful to improve his opportunities.

What diligence and strict attention to business do men exhibit when they start out to wreck their own lives and break the hearts of those near to them! In a play by a modern writer, one scene presents Satan flying at midnight over one of our cities, while the drunken songs and joyous shouts[Pg 213] of some gilded revelers rise in the night. The merry songs and laughter are music to the ears of Lucifer. He pauses in his flight to listen, and as the songs and shouts increase in volume he looks down on the revelers and with a bitter sneer soliloquizes thus of them:

"Ye are my bondsmen and my thralls,
Your lives I fill with bitter pain."

And that sums it up pretty well; but we must look straight away from the entrance of the Primrose Way to the exit.

Well, I had successfully played my trump card on the Rothschilds, and, not seeing the end, thought I had won, and cleverly won; so before sitting down to dinner I went to the telegraph office and telegraphed to my partners:

"The Egyptians all passed over the Red Sea. But the Hebrews are drowned therein."

Thinking this rather witty, I went to dinner well satisfied. An hour past midnight the moon looked from behind a cloud and saw me, one of many miserables, leaning over the bulwark of that wretched Dover steamer, again paying tribute to Neptune.[Pg 214]



When George and Mac received my telegram they, knowing the difficulties of my mission, deemed it incredible that I had succeeded within a day, so when my telegram came they thought I was attempting some jest. Upon my arrival in London, walking into Mac's room—he being still in bed—I announced that I had in my pocket Rothschild's bill for £6,000, drawn on the London house. He flatly refused to believe me, but when he, and later George, saw the bill, they were forced to believe. I at once took it down to St. Swithin's lane, and, leaving it for acceptance, called the next day, when I found scrawled across it in thin, pale ink the mystic words "Accepted. Lionel Rothschild."

The bill itself was drawn on cheap, blue paper, on the same form as the blank bills to be had at the Paris stationers', where I had bought some. From Rothschilds' I went direct to the hotel where we had our rendezvous, and the acceptance was so simple and easy that Mac had it copied on another bill in ten minutes. The business methods of the bank were so loose that there was no necessity for imitating signatures, but as a precaution this was done to some extent. I then proceeded to the Bank of England for my last personal interview with the manager. I must halt here for a brief space in the narrative, in order to enlighten my reader upon some new developments, also to introduce the new member we at this time brought into our firm.[Pg 215]


[Pg 216]
[Pg 217]

There was a friend, a very old friend, of mine residing in Hartford, Edwin Noyes by name. We had known each other from our schoolboy days, and there was a warm friendship between us. Our paths in life had been wide apart, but we maintained a frequent correspondence and often met. He knew nothing of my primrose life, but supposed, of course, from the style of my living that I was the possessor of a handsome income from my business, which lay, as he imagined, in that mysterious precinct known as "The Street," which, of course, meant Wall street, and that my business was speculating in stocks.

He was a trifle older than myself, of a steady, reserved nature, and a discreet and safe friend. This was the new member of our firm. How he came to be so I must explain. Up to this time, as the reader will have noticed, I was the only one of the party known at the bank, and, of course, was the only one who seemed to be taking any risk. Even in the event of discovery it would apparently be necessary for me only to take flight. George and Mac, not being known in connection with the fraud, could remain in London until such time as they chose to go home. To make matters absolutely safe for me as well we got up this scheme.

I told the manager of the bank that I had bought an immense plant and shops in Birmingham to manufacture railway material, and that I should be there superintending the work a good deal; therefore I might occasionally send any bills I had for discount from there by mail. I had sent two or three lots of the genuine bills in that way. If I could send the imitation bills the same way, Mac and George could carry on the business through the mail in my name and I could be at the other side of the world while the actual operation was going on, so that, far from my ever being proved guilty, there would be proof of my innocence, for how could I be guilty of a crime committed in England at the very time I was on a pleasure jaunt in the West Indies and Mex[Pg 218]ico? Thus it was arranged. Mac and George could do everything and remain in the background themselves, provided we had a safe man whom I could introduce at the bank as my clerk or messenger, also to represent me in different places where I could introduce him as my messenger before I left England.

The reader will see the extreme artfulness of the plot, but in all wrongdoing there is sooner or later a slip up. Be the plot ever so artful, or however safe the wrongdoing may appear, the unforeseen something will happen.

Of course, Mac and George not being known at the bank need not care, but it might easily be serious for me.

When the explosion came, fifty people in and about the bank would remember my face. But if I brought Noyes on the scene to act as my clerk I need only introduce him to the paying teller of the bank, and to Jay Cooke & Co., the American banking house, where I proposed to buy enormous quantities of United States bonds, paying for them in checks on the Bank of England. Of course, the bonds being all bearer bonds, would, with our knowledge of finance, be as good as so much cash.

So, knowing Noyes, if he would embark in the enterprise, had plenty of nerve and could never be bribed or bought into betraying us should he by any failure of our plans happen to be arrested, we determined to send for him. A short time before we arrived at this conclusion I had sent this precautionary letter to him:

"Grosvenor Hotel,
"London, Nov. 8, 1872.

"My Dear Noyes: You will be surprised to hear from me from London, but the fact is I have been here with George and a friend of ours for a year, and have made a lot of money from several speculations we have embarked in. In fact, we have been so successful that we have determined to make you a present of a thousand dollars, which find inclosed. Please accept the same with our best wishes.[Pg 219]

"We may be able to give you a chance to make a few thousands, if you would care to venture across the ocean. Perhaps we can make use of you. If so, I will send you a cable. If I do, come any way, as we will pay all your expenses should you determine not to go in with us on the deal. Be cautious and preserve absolute secrecy when you leave home as to your destination. Will explain the reason for this when we meet. Keep your weather eye open for the cable. It may come any hour after you have this.

"Hoping you are quite well, I remain," etc., etc.

A few days later we sent him this cable (it was afterward produced in court in evidence against him): "Edwin Noyes, New York. Come by Atlantic on Wednesday; wire on arrival at Liverpool; meet at Langham."

He arrived ten days later, and at a little dinner given in his honor we told him our plot. He was astounded, and for the remainder of the dinner, and for the day, too, for the matter of that, he acted like a man in a dream, and we three were amazed that he did not instantly fall into our plan.

Here was the dramatic representation of the poisonous effect of wrongdoing. We three had by degrees become accustomed to look upon a fraud committed by ourselves with equanimity. I say by degrees. Insensibly we had been sinking deeper and deeper, until, our moral senses blunted, we found excuses to our own consciences. But here was my companion and friend; he was no Puritan, but, like ourselves but a few brief months before, regarded crime with detestation, and now, when the men he trusted proposed he should become a party to a crime, his mind revolted in horror. Well for him had he yielded to the prompting of his own conscience and fled from us and the fearful temptation of sudden wealth. At last he said he would consider it. After a day or two of silence he began to question us as to our mode of operation, then his mind became more and more familiarized to the thought, until at last, fascinated by our association, he acquiesced, saying: "I will do it. I want[Pg 220] money badly. The Bank of England, after all, will not miss it. So I'll go in for this once."

By our direction he went to an obscure hotel in Manchester square, and then purchased clothes more suitable for his new position than the fashionable tailor-cut suit he wore from New York.

On several occasions I had gone to Jay Cooke & Co. in Lombard street and purchased bonds under the name of F. A. Warren and giving checks in payment upon the Bank of England. So one day I went there with Noyes and purchased $20,000 in bonds, giving my check for them. I then introduced Noyes as my clerk, directing them to deliver any bonds I bought to him at any time. The next day he called and they gave him the bonds which I had given my check for the day before, so there was no necessity any longer for me to come in person to make purchases. Noyes could appear there any day, give an order for bonds, secure a bill for them, and in half an hour bring a Warren check for the amount of the bill, pretending, of course, that he had got it from me, but really getting it from Mac, leaving the check for collection and to call the next day for the bonds.

The same day that I introduced him to Jay Cooke & Co. I took him to the Bank of England at a busy time of day, and while drawing £2,000, I casually introduced him to the paying teller as my clerk, requesting the teller to pay him any checks I sent. Then for the next few days I had Noyes take checks to the bank and had him order two or three small lots of bonds from Jay Cooke & Co., so that they became familiarized with seeing him come on my business.


The plan was complete at last. Everything was ready to carry out our scheme in perfect safety to all, and, as related in the beginning of the chapter, I was now on my way to the bank for my last visit, with the Rothschild bill in my hand. Many accounts were given of this famous interview in the English press just after the discovery of the fraud and[Pg 221] prior to my arrest, also when the details transpired at the trial. The facts were simply these: I presented myself at the bank, and, sending in my card to the manager, was ushered at once into his parlor. After a few remarks upon the money and stock market, I produced the bill, remarking that I had a curiosity to show him which had been sent me by a correspondent in Paris. It was certainly a curiosity; it was a thing entirely unknown in the history of the bank to have a bill of exchange bearing the signature of a Cabinet Minister certifying that the internal revenue tax had been paid on it. This, along with the circumstance that the bill was made payable to myself, evidently made considerable impression on the manager and confirmed him in his good opinion of his customer. The unusual features of this bill of exchange led him to relate some of the inner events of the bank's history, during which I asked him what precaution the bank took against forgery. He told me a forgery on the bank was impossible. But I asked: "Why impossible? Other banks get hit sometimes, and why not the Bank of England?" To that question he gave a long reply, ending with the assertion that "our wise forefathers have bequeathed us a system which is perfect." "Do you wish me to understand you have not changed your system since your forefathers' time?" I said. To which he emphatically replied: "Not in the slightest particular for a hundred years." In conclusion I told him I should be fully occupied looking after my different business interests, but would give him a call if I found time. I also said I would have the bill discounted and take the cash away with me, instead of having it placed to my credit. He called an attendant, gave the necessary order, and the cash was handed me. Bidding the manager good-bye, I repaired to our meeting place and showed the notes for the discounted bill. Even George was satisfied that my credit at the bank was good for any amount of discounts on any sort of paper.[Pg 222]

Everything now was ready for my departure from England. For some weeks my partners had been busy preparing for the completion of the operation.

The first lot of bogus bills were ready to go into the mail at Birmingham as soon as I was out of the way—it having been decided that I should then be out of the country. So one Monday late in November I packed my baggage, and, after many warm hand shakings, I bade my friends adieu. We had had many talks about the happy future. We had planned pleasant things in the future, and spoken confidently of our four-in-hands, our Summer cottages at Saratoga and Newport, of our town house, fine suppers and our boxes at the opera. After that I saw them for a brief hour on the coast of France and once more said adieu. When we met again it was in Newgate. I need hardly say that for the next twenty years we had no boxes at the grand opera, no four-in-hands, nor yet any fine suppers, but all that which was merely external passed away, consumed in that fierce flame, but all that was manly and true remained; that is, our devotion and courage and our high resolve to conquer fate and live for better things.

Before leaving London we had squared up our cash account. It was something to make one stare to see how our money had melted away. It was arranged to send in the first lot of bogus bills on Thursday, giving me two full days out of the country. Here I made a fatal mistake in determining to go to the West Indies, then on to Mexico. As George had planned I should have gone at once to New York, stopped at the best hotel in the city and registered in my right name. By taking this course I should have been safe and could have laughed at any attempt of the bank authorities to extradite me, for the first lot of bogus bills could have been held back until I had actually arrived in America. Then there could not have been found a single particle of evidence against me.[Pg 223]

I say "if I had come to New York." But there is some mysterious spell over men embarked in crime that blinds their eyes to the plainest dictates of common sense or prudence. This has been proved in a thousand dramatic instances, but never more forcibly than in our own. It would seem as if clever, daring men do almost impossible things with ease, but there is a Nemesis which blinds them to trifles, fatal if overlooked, causing them to make mistakes of which a schoolboy would be ashamed.

When we first got our combination together I thought we had found a short cut to fortune, and never doubted of our success to the very end, and amid many mishaps, that either crippled or ruined our schemes and lengthened this short cut to fortune, I maintained my confidence until on that day down in blazing Rio, when the letter "c" in lieu of the "s" in indorse came to the front to crumble our "sure thing" into ruin. I remember that in the stupefaction which for a few minutes settled down on us, I felt we were really fighting against fate. A fate that like the fiat of Deity says "Thou shalt not," to all wrongdoing.

For some time after that "indorce" takedown a feeling took possession of me that such short cuts to fortune were risky, and that if success did come the success would in the end prove a failure. But there is so much in companionship and such magnetism in human association that when we all three met in Paris and went in and out together, then, under the stimulus of our union, I forgot all my forebodings and began to think the unforeseen fatal something would not happen, and that we could conquer fortune whether she would or no, and by any method on which we chose to enter. But, as will be seen in the sequel, when reveling in an unheard-of success, literally loaded down with wealth, Nemesis appeared and by means even more simple than our error in Rio stripped us of our wealth and dignity and left us naked to every storm that blew.[Pg 224]



I shall try and condense into a single chapter the narrative of events in London from the time of my departure until the day, some months later, when our scheme exploded and all took to flight when Noyes was arrested.

Our expenses had been so enormous that we were anxious to make enough to recoup them, so it had been agreed that the first batch of bogus bills should not exceed the amount paid out since leaving Rio.

I left for Paris on Monday. On Wednesday, Noyes went to the bank and drew out all the money to my credit, except three hundred pounds. The same day he went to Birmingham and mailed lot number one of home-manufacture bills representing £8,000.

The next twenty-four hours was an anxious time for my friends. The bills would be delivered by the early mail on Thursday, and if all went right the proceeds would be placed to my credit by 12 o'clock, and the bills themselves would be stowed away in the vaults until they were due some months ahead. George and Mac waited with the greatest anxiety until 2 o'clock. They had everything packed for instant flight, when at that hour they sallied out of Mac's lodging and started for the bank to make the test. They had filled out two Warren checks, one for £2,300 payable to Warren, another for £4 10s., payable to bearer.

Noyes went on ahead, the others following, and took his stand on the steps of a hotel in a side street not far from the[Pg 225] bank. Keeping his eye out for a suitable appearing party he finally stopped a uniformed messenger, and, telling him to take the £4 10s. check to the bank, bring the money to him there, and he would be paid for his trouble.

Of course, as soon as the messenger had turned his back Noyes bolted around the corner to a place agreed upon, while Mac followed the messenger to the bank and saw he was paid without question. He gave the pre-arranged signal to George, who went with all haste to notify Noyes, and when the messenger arrived with the cash, he found him standing on the steps as cool and unconcerned as possible. Paying the messenger, all three started to the bank, Mac on the way giving Noyes the £2,300 check, which he presented. Nodding good day to the cashier he asked for £2,000 in gold and the remainder in notes, which were handed him at once, and three very happy men sat down that evening to dinner, because the day's operations had conclusively proved that the Bank of England methods were fallible.

The next morning Noyes went to Jay Cooke & Co. and ordered $75,000 in United States bonds, giving a check for them on the bank. The same afternoon he went to Birmingham and mailed another letter, this one containing £15,000 in bills, and later drew £2,000 in gold from the bank. On Monday he went after the bonds, and the $75,000 was handed over to him without questions. The whole operation was a repetition of these tactics, but with an ever-increasing volume in the amounts of the bills. On some days the mail brought to the bank letters with bills for $100,000, sometimes for more, sometimes for less. So November and December passed away, and the bank continued day by day and week by week laying away in its vaults the worthless collateral of Mr. F.A. Warren in exchange for its gold.

But why not be satisfied and stop while it was all right? That is the question of a wise man, but who ever knew any man who wanted to do a thing, whether he did it or not, who[Pg 226] could not find half a hundred good reasons why he should do it. But as Christmas came near Mac began to long for home. He had repaid his father every penny of the large sum he was owing him; there had been a reconciliation by mail, and each steamer that came bore many long letters from parents and sisters, all speaking of their joy over the happy turn of events that was going to bring the absent member of the flock home within its walls again. The father's heart, long estranged, grew very tender toward his boy, and with pride he thought his eldest had thrown off the follies of his youth, and in manful strength was making ample atonements for the thoughtlessness and the wanderings of his youth. He and they were all destined to a terrible awakening. For soon the press of the world was to teem with accounts of his son's arrest and incarceration for participation in a gigantic fraud. When the blow fell it came with crushing force on that home, and a shadow deep as night settled down on the household; all joyousness and even hope itself fled when the cable bore the news that their boy had been condemned to life imprisonment in a foreign dungeon. And one by one the members of that family passed away from a world that held no more for them since their good name had been tarnished.

In London the boys talked of spending Christmas at home, but the argument to stay—and it prevailed—was that since the money came in so easily and in such amounts it was a pity to run away from it. Then, again, by obtaining an enormous sum and putting it in a place of absolute security, the bank would be glad to compromise the matter in consideration of receiving a million or two back again.

So they spent a pretty merry and an exceedingly expensive Christmas in London, but later in February they determined to pack up and leave.

Everything smiled upon them. The gold and bonds they had, meant fortunes for all. I was away in tropic islands[Pg 227] leading an idle life with my bride amid the cocoanut and palm trees. Mac and George had never appeared in the transaction, and as for Noyes, not a soul in all America knew he was in Europe, and in all Europe only three or four people had seen him, and knew him as representing Warren.

The business was finished. All three laden with money were going to leave England, leaving the bank to slumber on for weeks until the first bills became due before there could be a discovery. By that time the cash would have been safely stowed, and how or where or to whom could anything be traced?

So in council they had decided to be content with the enormous amount they had. The last batch of bills was in the mail. Only one day more and the strain on the nerves would be over. That day Noyes bought bonds and drew cash for more than $150,000. At 3 o'clock they sat down to lunch, their last in London, and then went direct to Mac's apartments in St. James' place. All the material for making fraudulent bills was there, and what could be burned was to be thrown into the grate, and the rest to first be filed into blank nothings and then thrown into the Thames. The three were there and they were happy. They had engineered a gigantic scheme, had struck for wealth and won. The short cut to fortune in defiance of fate had been traversed and now they set about a grateful task—that of getting themselves and their rich argosy out of England. Mac being the artist of the party, and having executed the actual writing, drew the sealed box containing the unused bills up to the fire and began throwing them in one by one. In doing so he occasionally would throw some bill more elaborate than the common run on the floor beside his chair. He had finished his task and took from the floor those he had thrown there, looked at them for a moment, then crumbling them together, raised his hand to throw them in the fire, but as the devil always forsakes his friends at the critical mo[Pg 228]ment, he stopped, smoothed out the bills and turning to the others, said: "Boys, these are perfect works of art; it is a pity to destroy them." From our point of view it was, since it was only necessary to drop them into the mail and they would coin us thousands. Then George said: "Suppose we send them in." The others said "All right," and our doom was sealed.

There were in the lot nineteen bills of exchange for £26,000. A date had been left off one of them! They failed to note it! Poor fools, we had sold ourselves.

Was this an accident? No, it was Nemesis; it was anything you want to call it, but it was not an accident.

So a letter was written, the bills, with memorandum, inclosed, the envelope directed and stamped, and the three fools went to Birmingham, mailed the letter, and then laughed over their success in the fight against society, facilitated themselves that they had discovered the undiscoverable, that they had safely traversed the short cut to fortune. There is no short cut by wrongdoing to fortune, Boss Tweed and the long list of robber barons to the contrary!

The bills were mailed on Monday. As that fatal letter slipped from their fingers into the mail-box the last act of the deadly tragedy began. When it ended the curtain fell upon us descending from the dock into the chill dungeons of Newgate, never, so far as the sentence was concerned, to emerge again.

On Tuesday morning the letter with the bills arrived at the bank. Following the routine, they went to the discount department, were discounted and placed to my credit. As I had a balance of £20,000, when the proceeds of the bills were added to it, it brought up the whole to the handsome sum of £46,000.


When the bills arrived at the bank a strange thing occurred. The fatal omission was made on an acceptance of Blydenstein & Co., a great banking firm in London. The[Pg 229] discount clerk noticed the omission of the date of acceptance, but this being a mere formality, he thought it a clerical error on the part of the bookkeeper of Blydenstein & Co. He made no report of the matter, and it was discounted along with the other eighteen, which were put away in the vaults with the batches that had preceded it, while he laid this one aside until the next day, which was Wednesday. At half past ten he gave it to the bank messenger, telling him when he went his regular rounds to take the bill to Blydenstein's and request them to correct the omission.

At 2 p. m. on Tuesday Noyes went to Jay Cooke & Co. and ordered $100,000 in United States bonds, and gave them a check on the Bank of England for the amount. He was to call for the bonds next day, of course, after the check had gone through the Clearing House and had been paid.

As soon as the bank opened on Wednesday, in order to test if everything was all right, Noyes sent in a messenger with a small check, and the money was thrown out as at all other times without remark. And that was a complete demonstration that everything was all right. So it was then, but within thirty minutes from that second the messenger was going to start with the bill to Blydenstein's for correction.

This was 10 o'clock Wednesday. The bills had been twenty-five hours in the possession of the bank, had been discounted and the proceeds placed to my credit for twenty-four hours.

Who with intellect less than an archangel's could have divined the true combination? First of all, that men brilliant and clever, gambling with their lives, could have made such an omission, damning, fatal. Second, if made, that the great Bank of England, thought absolutely infallible by the whole world, conservative, supposedly cautious, would have discounted a bill for £20,00 with the date out of the accept[Pg 230]ance, and having done so, hold the bill well on into the second day, without a discovery, and that, too, when the firm whose acceptance was a forgery was not 100 yards away! So when at 10 o'clock on Wednesday Mac saw the small check paid without question to the messenger it seemed he had an assurance doubly sure and a bond of fate that all was well, and that the last batch of bills was packed safely away for another three months in the vaults of the bank.

So Noyes went at once to Jay Cooke & Co., and as the check had been paid at the bank they handed over, as in so many other occasions, the $100,000 in bonds to him.

Mac and George were outside. George took the bonds and gave Noyes a £10,000 check, and one minute from his leaving Jay Cooke & Co., Noyes was at the counter of the bank. The cashier counted out the $50,000 to him. He walked out of the bank with a lighter heart and more buoyant step than ever before, for was not the danger all over and the long strain on the nerves at an end, the transaction complete and fortune won? He was never going to the bank again.

They had arranged to meet at Garraway's Coffee House in Exchange alley. This is the Garraway's that became so famous at the time of the South Sea Bubble, and its fame continued down to the end of the wars of Napoleon. Then its glory departed as a centre of speculations, but its renown as an old-fashioned chophouse remained till 1873. Everywhere in contemporary English literature, from Swift and Addison to Goldsmith and Johnson, one meets references to Garraway's.

The Dean immortalized it in his well-known lines on 'Change Alley:

"There is a gulf where thousands fell,
Here all the bold adventurers came,
A narrow sound, though deep as hell,
[Pg 231]'Change Alley is the dreadful name.

"Subscribers here by thousands float
And jostle one another down.
Each paddling in his leaky boat,
And here they fish for gold and drown.

"Meantime secure on Garraway's cliffs
A savage race by shipwreck fed,
Lie waiting for the foundered skiffs
And strip the bodies of the dead."

Dickens also makes it the scene of the writing of the famous chops and tomato sauce letter from Mr. Pickwick to Mrs. Bardell.

One can imagine the elation of my friends as they sat around that little table at Garraway's. It was only 10:35. Their income that morning had been $150,000. And many more such days had gone before. All danger was over, wealth was won. They saw themselves back in America, among the Four Hundred, possessors of a fortune, however wrongfully obtained, yet obtained in a way that would leave behind no ruined widows and orphans to linger out the remainder of their blighted lives in poverty and misery. That was a point which added zest to their enjoyment of the prospect.

"I am never to go to the bank again. Come, shake hands on that," said Noyes. And in their excitement and wild delight they shook hands again and again.

But they would have moderated their joy had they known that at the very moment the bank porter, pale and frightened, was rushing past the room where they sat, carrying the news to the bank that the two-thousand pound bill was a forgery. Instantly all was confusion and excitement in the bank. Telegrams were at once sent to the detective police, and at that moment swarms of them were pouring out of the Bow street and Scotland Yard offices.

That already stories of gigantic frauds, multiplied a thousand fold by rumor, were flying everywhere that every bank[Pg 232] in London was victimized. In ten minutes the story reached the Stock Exchange and a scene of terrific excitement ensued, and, through it all, our three innocents sat on in that dingy old coffee-house, serenely unconscious of the fearful storm that was rising. Still they were safe. Everything was confusion in the bank. The terrified official, frantic with fear, could only describe a tall young man, an American, who said his name was Warren.

Had my three triumphant friends only known what was up they might have sat where they were the day through and drank porter out of the pewter mugs in safety. There were a hundred thousand men in London who would answer any description the bank could have given of Noyes, Mac and George had never appeared in the transaction, and I, the F.A. Warren they were looking for, was living quietly with my young wife in a lovely isle in the tropic sea.

Surely then, these three high-toned financiers still had the game in their own hands. They had nothing to fear. They had wealth. There was no clue to their identity and the world was before them—a world which lays her treasures and pleasures at the feet of him who commands wealth.

But that mighty Something had decreed otherwise, and a subtle spirit under whose power they were but purposeless puppets inspired them to commit an act of folly which was to hurl them from the fools' paradise wherein they were reveling down to the pit of despair.

Upon Mac casually remarking that they had still a balance of $75,000 to Warren's credit, Noyes spoke up and said: "Boys, that is too much money to leave John Bull; suppose you make out a check for £5,000. I will run over and get the cash, and it will do for pocket money." And the two others, triumphant in success, became idiots and assented. Making out a check for £5,000, Noyes started for the bank, check in hand, and entering, instantly found himself with a hot and angry swarm of hornets about him.[Pg 233]


[Pg 234]
[Pg 235]

There were twenty-five detectives in and around the bank. Special messengers had summoned the affrighted directors. The great bank parlor was packed with a host of stockholders and directors, who were questioning the manager and clerks. And excitement rose to fever heat when, with twenty hands holding him, poor Noyes was hustled in among them. They rushed at him like a pack of wolves. Had that been a bank parlor in festive Arizona, they would not have endured the delay incidental to procuring a rope, but would have ended it and him by gunnery at short range. Noyes could not be shaken; his nerve never failed. He said a gentleman had hired him as a clerk, and that was all he knew. He had left him at the Stock Exchange; if they would let him go, he would try and find him and bring him around to the bank. J. Bull is gullible, but not so much so as to swallow that yarn.

So they held tightly to him, and a committee of indignant Britons escorted him to Newgate.


[Pg 236]



Mac and George were without, and were stricken with consternation, for a minute's observation of the gathering crowd and the rushing into the bank of excited people convinced them something unusual was in the wind, and they knew Noyes must be in deadly peril. Mac rushed into the bank in hope to warn or to be of help. Everything there was in confusion. Unobserved in the excitement, he made his way into the parlor and there saw what made his heart stand still—Noyes surrounded by an angry crowd of officials. With great presence of mind and great nerve he pushed through toward Noyes, who saw him and knew he was there to help if he had a chance to bolt from his captors; but there was no chance. As they were about starting for Newgate, Mac slipped outside and told George what had befallen Noyes, and discussed the possibility of a rescue when on the way to Newgate with him. While they were waiting in the entrance Noyes came out in custody. He saw and recognized them. They joined in the crowd and were within arm's reach of him every rod of the short distance to Newgate, but the crowd was packed so tight that one could hardly move, and a rush for escape was hopeless. Arrived at Newgate, Mac in his desperation was entering with the escort, when George pulled him away, and as they got out of the crowd they heard the newsboys crying: "Great forgery on the Bank of England by an American; £10,000,000[Pg 237] obtained." That afternoon Lionel Rothschild, president of the Board of Directors, called on him at Newgate, and offered him his liberty and £1,000 reward if he would tell all he knew; but Noyes' nerve was not to be shaken. He said a gentleman, an entire stranger, had hired him as a clerk and messenger, and he knew nothing about Mr. Warren nor his business.


All this time the $150,000 drawn that morning was in a stout bag behind the counter at Garraway's.

Little did the barmaids dream of the treasure that was in the bag at their feet. When Mac went for it, one of the barmaids asked him if he had heard of the great bank robbery. He drove to St James' place, and soon George joined him there.

Here again was enacted the scene we had in Rio; as there, so here, they looked at each other in helpless stupefaction. Why had they not been satisfied? Why had they let Noyes go for a paltry £5,000? Why had they not understood the meaning of the evident excitement in and around the bank?

In Rio there was only a suspicion aroused. Here our companion was a prisoner in Newgate. Scarcely an hour had passed since he was free and without a fear had joined in the congratulatory scene at Garraway's. Now ruin was threatened. Upon cool reflection they came to two conclusions. First, that Noyes not only would never betray them, but that he could be depended upon to keep so close a mouth that no clue could be pumped from him; and next, that he could never be convicted of the forgery.

He might, of course, be subjected to a few weeks of Newgate life. That was very awkward, of course, but it would come all right.

So they resolved for the present to remain in London and await developments.

That night the cable flashed the news of the forgery over the world, dwelling particularly upon the fact that the per[Pg 238]petrator was an American. The next morning the London press overflowed. Every prominent paper gave a leader in the editorial column, and when the weeklies and monthlies came out they followed suit. These editorials make now to us who were on the inside amusing reading. They were full of Philistine talk and amazement, and generally conceded that Noyes was an innocent dupe, and all more or less doubted if his principal, the mysterious Mr. F. A. Warren, would ever come back to say so.

Day after day went by, and Mac and George hung around London reading the accounts of the affair and of the examination of Noyes before the Lord Mayor.

They had communicated with him through his solicitor, and he sent them word to leave England at once. In the mean time they had been sending away the cash, and so entrenched were they in the belief that by no possible chance could their names become mixed up in the affair that in every instance but two they sent the money or bonds to America in their right names.

In the mean time the bank very wisely sent a cable to their legal agent, Clarence A. Seward, in New York, asking him to set the American detective force on the alert. He was a man of the world and understood quite well what sort of men then ruled at Police Head quarters. So he sent at once for Robert A. Pinkerton and gave him entire charge of the American end of the line. Eventually they unearthed the whole plot, secured the evidence that convicted us and recovered the greater part of the money. The first step taken by the private inquiry men was to have our friends, the detectives at headquarters, led to believe that they had the case entirely in their own hands and to strengthen this Pinkerton had the Bank of England agent in New York go to headquarters every day and pretend to consult with Irving.

After the continental raid, on our return to London we sent Irving $3,000 in greenbacks in a registered letter, but[Pg 239] in order to have a hold on our three honest friends at headquarters in case of any possible treachery in the future we put the money in the envelope in the presence of a magistrate and had his clerk register it and make it a part of the court record. The envelope was simply addressed "James Irving, Esq., 300 Mulberry street, New York," and of course the officials in London supposed it a private address.

When we returned from Rio we sent another $3,000, $1,000 each for Irving, Stanley and White, and took the same precautions.

Soon after the floods of money coming to us in London Mac sent $15,000 to Irving in another registered letter, without any precautions, however. Irving & Co. did not know what game we were playing, but were very happy over the dividends past and to come. But when they read the cable dispatches in the press about the bank forgeries, their bliss was ecstatic. Each in fancy saw himself decked out in a magnificent diamond pin and ring, spinning along Harlem lane behind a particularly fast pair in a stylish rig. This was their day vision. At night each saw himself in certain resorts ordering unlimited bottles, or seeing New York by gaslight at the rate of $100 a minute, and the Britishers paying for it all. But the lawyers and the Pinkertons between them played Irving and headquarters for fools and knaves. Day after day one of the lawyers visited Mulberry street, and, being tutored by Pinkerton, gave deceptive points to Irving, who, with his two chums, was completely hood-winked and never suspected the game being played on them.

But as I have got somewhat ahead of events in London I will return there and very briefly narrate what was taking place there. Nearly every day Noyes was brought before the Lord Mayor and officially examined, but, acting under advice of his lawyer, he was strictly non-committal. The detectives and officials were convinced he knew all about it,[Pg 240] and tried by both threats and promises to make him talk. Baron Rothschild and others of the directors visited him again, but our friend was deaf, dumb and blind, and they were foiled. In time two Pinkerton detectives had arrived in London, and by a series of lucky hits soon began to let in some light on the business.

In searching Noyes the English police had found his garments were made by a certain London tailor who had several establishments. They brought the foremen and salesmen down to see him, and none could identify him; but the American detectives went over the ground again, and discovered that the London officers had missed one branch store. This was the one Noyes had patronized. They remembered him as a customer who had, when ordering garments, given the name of Bedford. This in itself was a bad point against Noyes, and the New York men wanted very much to make him talk, and had they been permitted to adopt the vigorous American methods they might have succeeded.

A salesman remembered seeing Noyes or Bedford one day walking in Mayfair with a gentleman who really was Mac, of whom he gave a good description, and taking the clerk the detectives started out to make a house-to-house investigation. Now, No. 1 Mayfair, the first house they entered, was the residence of a famous London doctor by the name of Payson Hewett, and Mac had been a patient of his. But Hewett knew absolutely nothing about him save only his name and the address he gave, Westminster Palace Hotel. The detectives were elated, and flew to this hotel, but as Mac had never been a guest they could learn nothing; still they had cause for rejoicing. Here was Noyes giving a fictitious name to a tailor and in company with an elegantly dressed American, who gave a fictitious address to his surgeon. And they were well satisfied that whenever the matter was dug out it would be found that the elegantly[Pg 241] dressed stranger, as well as the clerk, had a hand in the business. Payson Hewett stated that Mac said he was a medical graduate from an American university, and said that, no doubt, he spoke the truth, as he had a perfect knowledge of medical subjects.

Here they were getting matters down pretty fine, and cabled all the facts to America with orders to look Mac up, also his friends. This information was the fruit of hard work—many blind trails had been followed that ran nowhere.

In the mean time George and Mac had determined to return to America. The last thing Mac did before leaving his lodgings in St. James' place was to roll up in three rolls $254,000 in United States bonds and send the trunk containing them by express to Major George Mathews, New York. He wrapped them in a nightshirt belonging to me, which in some way had got into his baggage. Then he bought a ticket to Paris and sent his baggage over, waiting in London a day or two longer before going himself.

George determined to go to Ireland, and to Ireland he went, and I shall let him in a later chapter tell in his own language the stirring events in Ireland and Scotland that finally ended in his arrest in Edinburgh some weeks later. Mac, before sending his baggage away, had intended to sail from Liverpool by the Java of the Cunard line, and he cabled Irving at Police Headquarters to meet him on the arrival of the steamer. Mac went to Paris, stopping at the Hotel Richmond, Rue du Helder, under his right name, never for a moment thinking he could possibly come under suspicion.

In the mean time the Pinkerton men continued their house-to-house visitation of the fashionable lodging houses to hunt out Mac. This, in huge London, was a Titanic task, but they exhibited a marvelous activity in tracing out clues. In a lucky moment for the Pinkertons, a subordinate[Pg 242] inquiring at every number in St. James' place if an American gentleman was lodging or had lodged there was informed by one landlady that Mac had been a lodger, but had left a few days before. As soon as this important report arrived they flew to St. James' place and found the landlady a warm friend of the man they were looking for. The detectives were forced to tell her their business. She was indignant that any one should so wrong Mac, and ordered them out of the house.

They brought the bank solicitors and other important people to see her before she would consent to be questioned; when she did, her information was important indeed. She had seen very little of George, but much of me, though she had never heard my name, but still the detectives knew from her description that the man she described was the F. A. Warren they wanted, and whom to get meant fame and comparative fortune for them.

The rooms had been unoccupied since Mac left and a careful search was made for clues, but nothing was found until she was asked for the waste-paper basket. The basket proved to be a bag, and when turned out some pieces of blotting paper appeared, which, held in front of a mirror, of course would reflect the writing the same as on the written sheet, and on holding the last of the lot to the glass they were thrilled through when the Pinkertons saw reflected there:

Ten Thousand......................Pounds Sterling.

which, when compared with a canceled check of mine, then in the possession of the bank, exactly fitted it. Here was a piece of evidence, which, if it could be brought home to Mac, was a chain to bind him fast and sure.

Pinkerton and his man started at once for Paris, and going to the American bankers, where most Americans register on[Pg 243] arrival, they found Mac's name as large as life, registered at Andrews & Co.'s as stopping at the Hotel de Richmond.

Pinkerton was not long in reaching Rue du Helder, and learned that Mac had left for Brest the night before. In short order he was at the Paris agency of the steamship company, and found that Mac had purchased a ticket to New York by the Thuringia, which was due to sail that very hour from Brest. He did not let the grass grow under his feet between the ticket and telegraph offices, and there he telegraphed the authorities to arrest Mac, but he had a speedy reply that the Thuringia had sailed half an hour before his telegram came. On second thought he quite possibly was not sorry Mac had got off to New York, as it would lengthen out the bill and scatter some of the bank's money in New York.

He therefore cabled to his office in New York particulars as to Mac's departure, and then he turned all his attention to discovering who this F.A. Warren could be. Mac had cabled Irving that he was coming by the Thuringia. Pinkerton, feeling that there was no secrecy required about his man being on the steamer, gave the fact to the press, and Irving discovered, very much to his chagrin, that all the world shared with him his secret as to Mac's whereabouts, and that if he would save his reputation he would have to be on hand, not as a friend and confederate, but in his official capacity and make a genuine arrest—that is, unless he could arrange to have Mac taken off the steamer in a small boat as soon as she came into the lower bay and before the police boat, with its load of officials, came alongside. This Irving and his two subordinates resolved to attempt, so he took into his counsels a great chum of his and a well-known burglar by the name of Johnny Dobbs. To him was given the job of getting Mac off the steamer, but he made a serious blunder. Instead of hiring and manning two boats, one to relieve the other, he got only one. For a day or two they[Pg 244] came within hailing distance of all incoming steamers, but were ashore on Staten Island, taking a rest, when bright and early one morning the Thuringia slipped into the harbor. There was a man in the boat with Dobbs who knew Mac, and the plan was to meet the steamer, and as Mac was sure to be on deck on the lookout, to shout to him to jump overboard and they would pick him up and make for shore. Once ashore and warned they would not have seen him again.

After the Thuringia came into the harbor, Irving kept the police boat waiting over an hour. Then, supposing his friend was safe ashore, he boarded the ship. There were five United States Marshals on the police tug, the bank lawyers and some of the private inquiry officials.

Irving, accompanied by White and Stanley, jumped aboard the big ship, after giving orders to the captain of the tug not to let any one off until he gave permission. Mac saw the tug and recognized his three friends, but was in no way alarmed until Irving, shaking hands with him, hurriedly explained the state of affairs. Mac took them to his cabin and gave them $150,000 in bonds, $10,000 in greenbacks, which he had bought of the brokers in London, besides English bank notes and two or three valuable diamonds. Then taking out several bags of sovereigns he said: "Now, boys, help yourselves. Load yourselves down and keep them from the enemy." What a picture those fellows loading up with that golden store of sovereigns would have made! They knew the marshals and detectives they held entrapped aboard the tug would be furious, and morally sure that Irving & Co. had plucked their bird. Therefore any appearance of pockets bulging out might lead to disgrace, so, while they hated to leave any, for their fingers itched for all, yet they were forced to that cruel self-denial.

One amusing piece of impudence on Irving's part occurred when looking with greedy eyes on the eight-carat[Pg 245] diamond Mac wore on his finger, he said: "My God, Mac, I wish I had brought along a paste diamond. You could wear the ring and give me yours in exchange." The ring having been seen by so many he feared to chance taking it. No doubt his enforced denial for long sat heavy on Jimmy's soul. What a penchant all our honest detectives have for gems, and where do they get them?

In the mean time a storm was raging among the rival officers, who did not relish being duped, and finally by threats forced the captain to bring the tug alongside the steamer. Then they rushed on board to find Irving & Co. with their prisoner awaiting them.

The marshals went to the cabin and found some £4,000 or £5,000 in sovereigns, but when Mac was searched nothing was found on him but $20 in greenbacks. He was turned over to the United States officials and landed in Ludlow Street Jail, pending an examination before the United States Commissioner with a view to his extradition.

How the Pinkertons unearthed the $254,000 wrapped in old clothing in Mac's trunk at the European Express Office, 44 Broadway, would take too much time to tell here, or how circulars were sent out to the banks and trust companies warning them to hold all funds deposited by any of our party, or how Pinkerton and his men recovered large sums in various places, must all be passed over here. Suffice it to say that the fatal piece of blotting paper was produced in New York along with many lesser points of evidence, and after a hard legal fight Mac was finally ordered to be given up to the English Government to stand his trial for complicity in the great bank forgery.

The legal proceedings before the commissioner lasted three full months. The array of counsel on both sides made it a forensic contest between giants, in which all past history was invoked for precedents. This extradition case attracted wide attention.[Pg 246]

After United States Commissioner Gutman had finally decided to surrender him to the demand of the British Government, appeal was made to the United States Circuit Court, Judge Woodruff, then to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett, before whom Mac was brought by writs of habeas corpus; but the commissioner's decision was sustained. Mac was sent to Fort Columbus for safe-keeping while counsel were vainly arguing on new writs of habeas corpus and certiorari, but before any conclusion could be reached, he was hurried away by his custodians. He had scarcely time to bid good-bye to his counsel, when with a United States officer he was hurried into a carriage in Chambers street, guarded by Chief Deputy Marshal Kennedy and Deputies Robinson and Crowley, and driven rapidly down Broadway to the Battery, so that the large crowd who gathered to witness his departure from the metropolis had very little time to feast their eyes.

He was transferred from the Battery to Governor's Island by a tugboat and subsequently handed over by the deputy marshals to the charge of Major J. P. Roy, who had him escorted to Fort Columbus.

The following morning United States Marshal Fiske, with Deputies Crowley and Purvis; Mr. Peter Williams, solicitor of the Bank of England; Sergt. Edward Hancock, a London detective; Deputy Marshal Colfax and others, boarded the steam tug P. C. Schultze at the Battery and steamed across to Governor's Island. At 10.30 o'clock Capt. J. W. Bean, on post at the fort, received an order to deliver him over.

Capt. J. W. Bean then delivered him over to United States Marshal Fiske's charge, with whom he descended the steps from the balcony of the fort, and marched, with a deputy at either side, through tiled pathways and groved and shaded avenues, to the wharf at the other end of the island, where the Schultze was awaiting his arrival. A large crowd of spectators, soldiers and civilians lined the wharf, lingering[Pg 247] anxiously to see him off. But he walked very leisurely, smoked, laughed and appeared in a state of unaccountable good humor.

It was nearly 11 o'clock when the Schultze steamed away from Governor's Island wharf and whistled and rattled down the Bay to await the arrival of the Minnesota, which lay at anchor during the forenoon near Pier 46, North River, and did not sail until some minutes after 12 o'clock. The Schultze meantime waited, steaming around the lower bay until the Minnesota arrived. The steam tug neared the bulky and huge vessel, and Mac was finally taken on board by United States Marshal Fiske and Deputy Marshals Robinson, Crowley and Colfax, and given into the custody of the English detectives, Sergts. Webb and Hancock, who in return gave the usual receipt to Marshal Fiske.

For the present, I leave Mac on the Atlantic, sailing swiftly eastward, to meet his terrible doom.


[Pg 248]



In this chapter I give in his own words George's account of his flight from London and his arrest.

"Without the remotest suspicion that my right name was known or that anything had been discovered to show my connection with the fraud, I resolved to take the steamer Atlantic of the White Star line at Queenstown for New York. Knowing that all the railway stations in London were being watched, and that any man buying a ticket for America might have to give an account of himself, I sent a porter to purchase a ticket for Dublin via Holyhead. I intended taking the 9 p.m. mail train, and, as a precaution, I waited until the last moment, after the passengers were on board, and the waiting-room doors shut. As the mail was being transferred from the wagons to the train, I took the opportunity to walk through the big gate unobserved amid the rush and confusion. The car doors were all locked, but on showing my ticket to a guard (conductor) he let me into a compartment, no doubt supposing that I had obtained admission to the station from the waiting-room and had been loitering about. The same was probably the case with the two or three other men looking out of the waiting-room window at the platform, whom I judged to be detectives. The train rolled out of the station, and soon I was leaving London behind at the rate of fifty miles an hour. After midnight we took the steamer at Holyhead and arrived at Dub[Pg 249]lin about 7 a.m. I should not have felt so comfortable throughout this night's journey had I known that the telegraph was flashing in all directions five thousand pounds reward for my capture.

"A whole column regarding myself and my supposed movements was published in the Dublin papers of that morning. Not suspecting they contained 'news' regarding me, I neglected purchasing one, and, remaining ignorant of my imminent danger, took the train for Cork, where I arrived about 4 p.m. I had two or three London papers of the previous day in my hand as I left the station. I had never been in Cork until then, and as I passed into the street two detectives, who were watching the passengers, turned and followed me. A few yards from the station one of them stepped up by my side and said:

"'Have you ever been here before?'

"I slightly turned my head toward him, gave a haughty glance as I replied: 'Yes,' then looked straight ahead and continued my slow gait, paying no further attention to him. He continued walking by my side for a few steps, as if irresolute, then dropped to the rear, rejoining his companion. I did not dare to look around or make inquiry as to the location of the wharf from which the tugboat started to convey mail and passengers to the New York steamers, which waited in the outer harbor. Therefore I continued my walk along what appeared to be the main business street, perhaps for a quarter of a mile, then turned into a druggist's and called for some Spanish licorice. This was done to enable me to ascertain if the detectives were still following. In a moment they passed the shop gazing intently in and saw me leaning carelessly against the counter with my face partially turned to the street. As soon as I had paid for the licorice I continued my walk in the same direction, but saw nothing of the men, they having evidently stopped in some place to let me get ahead once more. In a short time I ap[Pg 250]proached an inclosure over the gate of which was a sign that informed me I had come by accident direct to the wharf of the New York steamers. Entering I found the place crowded and the tugboat ready to convey the passengers to the steamer Atlantic. Before attempting to step aboard the tug I took a covert look around and saw my two detectives standing back in one corner with their eyes fixed upon me, all but their heads being concealed behind the crowd waiting to see their friends off for America. Apparently unconscious of their presence, I threw my papers, one by one, down among the passengers; and as the deck of the boat was eight or ten feet below, the detectives could not see to whom they were thrown. I stood leaning on the rail a short time gazing at the scene, then left the wharf not even glancing in the direction of the detectives. I felt that any attempt of mine to embark would precipitate their movements, therefore I at once abandoned all ideas of taking passage from Queenstown.

"Now mark the irony of fate! That was the last passage ever made by the magnificent steamer Atlantic! Some magnetic influence deranged her compass so that she ran twenty miles out of her course, striking on the coast of Nova Scotia, at Meager's Head, Prospect Harbor, broke in two, then rolling into deep water sank in a few minutes. Out of 1,002 persons on board 560 perished, including most of the saloon passengers and all the women and children. The elegant cabins and staterooms became their tombs—and one might have been mine. But not for me such favoring fate; a moment's struggle ended their sufferings, while I was left to undergo the pangs of a thousand deaths!

[Pg 251]
[Pg 252]


"I continued my walk up a hill among the private residences of the city, and, hailing a cab, told the driver to take me back to the station. Eager for a job, he asked to drive me a mile beyond on the railway. Thinking I might elude the detectives at the Queenstown station, I acceded, and he[Pg 253] made his little Irish horse rush along at a pace which brought us to the stopping place just before the train arrived.


"I purchased a ticket and hastened into a carriage, where, lo and behold! sat the two detectives. A few minutes brought us to Cork again. I was not yet aware they were in possession of my right name and the knowledge that a reward of £5,000 was offered for my capture, nor that their hesitation was occasioned by doubts as to my identity, which the first false step on my part might remove. I did not suppose they were looking especially for me, but for any one in general whose actions and appearance might indicate that he was one of the operators in the bank forgery. Under this erroneous belief I crossed to the Dublin station, which was a quarter of a mile from that of the Cork and Queenstown. As I entered the waiting room I saw my two detectives standing at the other side. 'Well,' I thought to myself, 'this is very strange; I left the Queenstown station ahead of them and here they are again, all alive!' I walked away into the most thronged streets of the business part of the city; turning a corner I glanced backward and saw them following at some distance in the rear. As soon as I had fairly turned the corner I started at a fast walk, turning the next before they came in view, and after three or four such turnings I went into a small temperance hotel and took lodgings for the night. There was but a single commercial traveler in the sitting room—a special room set apart in every English hotel, sacred to the 'drummer' fraternity. In the course of the evening he handed me a small railway map of Ireland, which, in my subsequent flight through the country, proved of incalculable service to me.

"The next morning I went out and purchased a handbag, a Scotch cap and a cheap frieze ulster. My night's cogitations had not enabled me to solve the detective problem, but I felt confident that something was decidedly wrong. I then[Pg 254] hired a covered cab, driving past the postoffice to recoinnoitre, and saw one of the detectives standing in the doorway. This sight deterred me from going in to ask for a letter. Dismissing my cab, I took another and drove to the place where I had made my purchases, taking them into the cab and going through a by-street which brought me close to my hotel.

"From the commercial room in the second floor front I looked out and marked the farthest house I could see to the left on the opposite side. Stepping to the desk I wrote an order directing the postmaster to deliver any letters to my address to the bearer. This I gave to a cabman, instructing him to drive to the postoffice and bring my mail to the house I had marked, returning myself to the commercial room to watch. In a few minutes I saw the cabman drive to the house, and seeing no one waiting there, he turned and drove slowly down the street past the hotel, holding up at arm's length a letter to attract my notice—which it did to my two detectives walking along a short distance behind him, on the hotel side of the street, with noses elevated and eyes peering everywhere.

"'Well,' I thought, 'this is getting to be hot, and it is time for me to leave Cork.' I was now fully aroused to a sense of my danger. No one happening to be in the commercial room for the moment, I left my hat on the sofa, and wearing the Scotch cap, slipped downstairs just as they were past the hotel, following them until I came to where the cab was waiting with my luggage. I ordered the driver to take me to a canal-boat wharf, where I dismissed him; then, with bag in hand, I walked across the canal bridge, stopped in a small shop and hired a smaller boy to go for a jaunting car, and a few minutes later I was rolling to the northward.

"On the road I threw some small coins to poor-looking people, who then, as now, comprised among their numbers the most honest patriots and the truest-hearted sons of Erin.[Pg 255]

"Seeing me throwing the pence to the poor folk, cabby took it into his head that I must be a priest—a good criterion of the estimation in which the benevolence of the fathers is held by their own people. And I may here remark that all the Catholic priests I have known, occupying the post of chaplain, were without exception faithful and entirely devoted to the duties of their holy calling. I had no intention of traveling as a priest, and when I told the driver as much he would not believe it, but insisted that I was really a priest traveling incognito; therefore, when we stopped at a small wayside tavern, about twelve miles from Cork and two to Fermoy, he privately informed the mistress that I was a priest who did not want the fact to become known. Accordingly the good woman treated me with marked attention during my short stay. It was then nearly sunset, and as I did not wish the cabman to get back to Cork until late at night, I kept him eating and drinking until dark, when I paid the bill and started him homeward, uproariously rejoicing. I then started for Fermoy station, about two miles distant, taking the hostler along to carry my bag. When within half a mile of the village I let him return. While passing through the village I went into a shop and purchased a different Scotch cap, the 'Glengarry.'

"Arriving at the station, I noticed a man near the ticket office who appeared to be watching those who were purchasing tickets. This made me change my plan—instead of taking a ticket to Dublin, I bought one for Lismore, the end of the road in the opposite direction. The exclamation, 'Well, are you going to stay all night?' was the first intimation I had of our arrival at that place. I rubbed my sleepy eyes, and saw with dismay that all the passengers were gone and one of the porters was putting out the lights. At the platform I found a cab, and by 9 p.m. I was at the Lismore House. After eating supper I entered the sitting room, finding a single occupant whom I took to be a lawyer, and judging[Pg 256] by his conversation and manner, in the light of later events, I do not doubt that he surmised who I was. He was reading a newspaper, which he once or twice offered to me; but, not dreaming of the interesting nature of its contents, I declined to take it from him. About 10 o'clock the gentleman retired, leaving his paper on the table. I carelessly picked it up, and the first thing that caught my eyes was a displayed heading in large type, offering £5,000 reward for my arrest.

"A thunderbolt, indeed! For a few minutes I stared at the paper in blank dismay. It was fortunate for my temporary safety that there were no witnesses present. 'Well,' I thought to myself, 'this is a predicament! How did they obtain any clue to me? I thought we had covered up the whole affair so deep in mystery that not a clue to our personality could ever be obtained!'

"I sat for an hour alone in this Lismore Hotel, utterly dumfounded, bewildered, paralyzed. I had experienced some shocks, some 'take-downs,' in my time, but never one to compare with this.

"Arousing myself from a state of mental stupefaction hitherto unknown, I began to realize the necessity of immediate action if I wished to avoid falling into the merciless jaws of the British lion. I put the paper into the fire, and retired to the room allotted to me.

"Before daylight in the morning I had decided upon the first step, and as the lawyer had asked me if I intended to remain over Sunday, I resolved to be as far away as possible before he was out of bed. While it was yet dark in the house, I left my bag in the bedroom and crept gently down the stairs to the basement, where the porter-hostler was sleeping in a box of rags. I suppose the poor wretch had not long finished his multifarious duties, for I could arouse him only to a state of semi-consciousness, and could get no information from him. I then went up to the front door, carefully turned the key and stepped out on the piazza which[Pg 257] ran along the front of the hotel. Another shock was in store for me. A man posted on the other side of the street was watching the hotel!

"It was now quite light, and I sauntered carelessly up the street, apparently taking no notice of the man over the way, and endeavoring to show by my actions that I was out for an airing before breakfast.

"As I turned the next corner and glanced back, I saw him following. I noticed a place where jaunting-cars were to be let, but passed on, at each turn glancing back to see my follower the same distance in the rear. I now took a circuit around by the hotel, but instead of going in I hastened and turned the next corner beyond—he, when reaching the corner near the hotel, not seeing me, doubtless thought I had gone in, and planted himself in his old position. I thought Lismore to be getting rather hot, and hastening to the livery stable, found the hostler just getting up. He informed me that all the horses were engaged for the day except one, the fastest they had, but as this was engaged for a long journey on Tuesday, they were letting him have a rest. I said: 'But, my good fellow, I must have a horse, and at once, with you to drive, and there will be a half sovereign for a good Irishman, such as I see before me.' My 'blarney' began to do its work. Scratching his head, he finally said: 'Well, I will waken up my master, and you can talk with him.' So he rapped at a window, and soon a night-capped head appeared, and after some parley the master consented to let me have his equipage. In a few minutes from the time I had lost sight of my follower we were rattling out of the town of Lismore at the full speed of a blooded Irish horse. I had left my bag behind, taking only the Scotch caps and ulster with me from the hotel. I found, by reference to the small map and railway guide, that Clonmel was less than thirty miles distant, and connected with Dublin by a branch line. When I engaged the jaunting-car I had[Pg 258] told the owner that it was uncertain what part of the day I should require it, and after we were about five miles from Lismore I said to the driver:

"'You say that you are going to Clonmel on Tuesday for a passenger. Well, now, as I must go there before I leave this part of the country, you may as well continue in that direction, and I can return with you on Tuesday.'

"This pleased him, and we drove on till about noon, when we stopped at a country grocery about five miles from Clonmel. As we drove up to the door, the words of an old Irish song went jingling through my brain:

"'At the sign of the bell,
On the road to Clonmel,
Pat Flagherty kept a neat shebeen.'

"The rain poured down in torrents. I gave my driver a lunch of bread and cheese, which—of course, there—included whisky. I also gave him a sovereign, telling him to pay his master for the horse-hire and keep the change for himself; then started him back, brimful of delight and the 'craythur,' receiving his parting salute:

"'Yer 'onor is a jintleman, and no mistake.'

"I arranged with the storekeeper to let a boy take me in his car to Clonmel.

"The Green Isle! Well, I found out that day what keeps the grass green in Ireland. My Irish frieze and every thread on me were water-logged, yet the Irish lad, my driver, took the 'buckets-full' as a matter of course. Amid this deluge of rain we arrived in Clonmel and stopped at a 'shebeen,' kept by the boy's uncle—driving into the back yard through a gate in a board fence fifteen feet high, which shut it in from the street.


"I went into a room in the rear of the sale room, the door of which stood open so that I could see all that passed within, and, as I stood drying my clothes by the turf fire, I[Pg 259] saw how thirsty souls on the 'ould sod,' evaded the Sunday liquor law. The proprietor stood in the shop in a position whence he could covertly keep an eye on the policeman patrolling the street, and as soon as he was out of sight a signal was given, the backyard gate thrown open, when a dozen men rushed in, and the gate closed. Coming hilariously through the dwelling into the shop, these were soon busily drinking their 'potheen.'

"It was now 2 o'clock p.m., the rain had ceased, and starting out, I walked along a main street until I saw a sign 'cabs to let.' I went into the house and was shown into an inner room, where the proprietress sat crooning over a turf fire. She motioned me to a seat beside her, and when I told her I wished for a conveyance to take me to Cahir, a place eight miles distant, she asked me several questions, among others, how long I wished to be gone, and if I were not an American. To all of which I replied to the following effect: That I was going to visit some friends who were officers stationed in the fort at Cahir; and as to her mistaking me for an American, the ancestors of the 'Yankees' went from about Norfolk County, England, to America, of course, taking the accent with them, and I being from the former place, (Norfolk) of course had the same accent.

"This explanation appeared to satisfy the old lady, and she became quite confidential; and, anxious to remove from my mind any trace of offense at her unusual questioning, she drew closer to me and said:

"I can see that you are all right; but the fact is that the captain of police sent an order that I should notify him at once in case any stranger wished to hire a vehicle, especially if I thought him an American. But I do not care for the curs; they are nothing but a parcel of spies and informers in the pay of the English Government; so even if you were the one they are looking for they will wait a long time for[Pg 260] me to inform them, and you shall have my best horse and a good driver.'

"I heartily thanked the good old Irish lady—for I have found true ladies and gentlemen among the poor and humble, as well as the wealthy, especially in Ireland—and in a few minutes I was bowling gayly along toward Cahir.

"This is a small, ancient, walled garrison town, the nearest railway station being at Clonmel. This miniature city has been the scene of many a heart-stirring event in the distant past. Here Cromwell was for a time held at bay, and his fanatical hordes made their Celtic opponents pay in blood for their patriotic and desperate defense of their homes and firesides.

"Driving through the town gate, I saw in the main street a grocery store with a blind down, and telling the driver to halt there, I paid him and sent him back. I then went into the grocery, and after taking a lunch of bread and cheese, continued my walk up the street. I saw a hotel just ahead, but not wishing to attract attention to my movements, I crossed to the opposite side, and while doing so glanced back and saw a car come through the same town gate I had just entered, and dash furiously up the street, pulling up at the walk a few yards behind me. Just as they sprang out I turned to the left in a narrow lane in which I saw a gateway to the fort, just within the entrance of which a sentry was pacing, there being opposite several roofless cottages. The soldier's back being turned, quick as thought I sprang unseen within one of these, and in a moment I heard some men run around the corner and interrogate the soldier, who stoutly declared that no one had entered. The men then demanded to see the captain, were admitted, and after a short time I heard them come out and depart. I stood in that ruin two mortal hours until dusk, then walked out unseen by the sentry, and turning to the left, came into a narrow street lined with small dwelling houses.[Pg 261]"



"Crossing the narrow street in Cahir, referred to at the close of the last chapter, I went in haphazard at the first door, without knocking, and saw a family eating their humble supper. As I walked in I addressed the family at the table thus:

"'Good evening. Pardon my intrusion, and do not disturb yourselves; but by all means finish your supper.'

"'Good evening, sir,' was the reply from the man, whom I will call Maloy. 'We are glad to see you; will you sit by and have pot-luck with us?'

"'No, thank you,' I answered. 'I am an American—and it is my custom when traveling in any country to make unceremonious calls like this, in order to see the people as they really are at home.'

"After supper was over I related to Maloy and his family several stories and incidents concerning the Fenians and their doings in America, which, of course, interested them greatly. When it was fairly dark I arose to go, and Maloy went outside with me. He had previously informed me that he was employed by the government in the civil service. I will not state in what capacity, for, although so many years have elapsed, the true-hearted Irishman may still be earning his bread in the same humble employment, and the knowledge that he assisted one whom he supposed to be a Fenian[Pg 262] leader in 1873 might even now cost him dearly. When we were outside the door I said:

"'The fact is, Maloy, I am a Fenian leader, and the police are after me! I have been dodging them for two days, and they are looking for me now in Cahir! I have important papers for prominent Fenians in various parts of Ireland, and it would delay our plans if I am obliged to destroy them. But I fear I must do so at once unless you can help me. I would almost sooner forfeit my life than to lose these papers, and I shall fight to my last breath rather than let them fall into the hands of the police, for it might be the ruin of several good men! My plan is to double back to Clonmel, and I want your assistance to get me out of Cahir!'

"'Oh, sir,' he replied, 'it is too bad you did not let me know a little sooner, for the mail car is gone; it starts at 6 o'clock.'

"Just as he had finished speaking, a car came rumbling past and he exclaimed joyfully:

"'We are in luck! There goes the mail car to the postoffice! Come with me!'

"We hastened through a narrow, dark lane to the gate—the same I had entered from Clonmel—walked through and at a hundred yards beyond waited for the mail car, which soon came along. Maloy being well acquainted with the driver, hailed him, saying that a friend of his wanted a ride to Clonmel.

"After shaking hands warmly with Maloy, I climbed upon the car, and the next instant I was whirling along—into fresh dangers—in that unique vehicle, an Irish jaunting car.

"Arriving near Clonmel I saw a tavern, and ascertaining from the driver that it was near the railway station, I left the car and entered the place, only to find that the best, and, in fact, the sole food to be had for supper was eggs. Having been on the move since dawn, after a sleepless night, and almost without food, I hesitate to divulge how many eggs[Pg 263] I disposed of that evening, for the statement might tend to throw distrust on the general veracity of my narrative. Having dried my wet clothes and put myself into a presentable condition, I went to the railway station to take the 11 p.m. train to Dublin. Seating myself on a bench outside, I handed some money to a porter and sent him for a ticket, which he obtained. There were but a few waiting about, so I stepped into the small waiting room and sat down near three other men. The one nearest, whom I at once put down for a local policeman in private clothes, turned and spoke to me. I replied with civility to his questions until finally he said: 'But are you not an American?' I replied to his startling question in such a manner that he appeared satisfied.

"'You must excuse me, sir, for questioning you,' he explained, 'but there has been a great forgery in London, and it is said some of the parties are in Ireland, and I am anxious to get a claim on the £5,000 that is offered for each one of them.'

"I told him that instead of being offended I was greatly pleased to see the zeal he exhibited in the execution of his duties, and expressed the hope that he might be successful in securing at least one of the forgers, which would give him not only the £5,000, but undoubtedly promotion. I got on the train all right, resolving that I would not speak another word of English while in Ireland, and forthwith turned into a Russian, who could speak 'une veree leetel Francais,' confident that I should not be in danger of exposure by encounter with any one who could speak the Russian language. I threw away the ordinary Scotch cap I had been wearing, and put on the Glengarry. When I arrived at the Maryborough junction, the train on the main line from Cork was late, and I walked up and down on the platform, well knowing that the detectives would scrutinize more closely those who appeared to shrink from observation; therefore, I af[Pg 264]fected the bearing of a Russian prince as nearly as I knew how.

"I got on the train unmolested, and arrived in Dublin at 1 a. m.

"There appeared to be some special watching of those leaving the train, but I passed out unchallenged and took a cab. Not knowing the name of any hotel, I told the driver I would direct the route as we passed along, and he drove away at a great pace. Very soon I noticed another cab following at an equal speed. I had mine turn a corner, but the one behind came thundering after; and though I bade my driver to turn at nearly every corner still I could not shake off my supposed pursuer until, after apparently being followed about two miles, the stern chaser turned off in another direction, much to my relief. We soon approached the Cathedral Hotel, where I alighted about 2 a. m., rang up the porter, and was shown to a room.

"At 7 o'clock in the morning I sent for my bill, left the hotel, went direct to the 'Jew' quarters, and purchased a valise and some second-hand clothes. Noticing the old Jewess' looks of curiosity at seeing one of my appearance making such purchases, I remarked: 'A Fenian friend has got himself into a scrape, and the police are after him; so I am going to get him out of the country, and wish to let him have some things that do not have too new a look.' At hearing those (in Ireland) magic words, 'Fenian,' 'police,' she became all smiles, let me fill the valise with old garments at my own price, and at starting said: 'God bless you! May you have good luck, and get off safe to America!'

"I then went to a more pretentious locality, where I procured a silk hat draped with mourning crape, put the Glengarry in my pocket, and became a Frenchman. At this moment I discovered that I had left in my room at the hotel a large silk neck-wrapper on which were embroidered my initials. I immediately stepped into a shop and left my new[Pg 265] purchases, resuming the Scotch cap, and started for the hotel (where I had given no name), to secure the dangerous article left behind. Coming in sight of the hotel, I saw a man stationed opposite, leaning on a cane, who appeared to be watching the house. As I approached nearer he kept his eyes covertly fixed upon me; therefore, instead of entering the hotel, I walked past it and turned the next corner, glancing backward as I did so, and, to my dismay, saw the man following me. I now adopted the same plan of action that succeeded so well at Cork, and in half an hour I had shaken him off and returned to the place where I had left my new silk hat and valise. Donning the hat, with valise in hand, I was soon seated in an Irish jaunting car, on my way to a station about ten miles out on the railway to Belfast.

"Upon reflection I was satisfied that the chambermaid had found the silk wrapper and taken it to the hotel office. There the initials, together with the knowledge of my arrival at so unusual an hour, without baggage, and my early departure, had aroused suspicion, and the police had been notified. At about 11 o'clock I arrived at the station, and going into a store paid my Dublin cabman and called for lunch. About five minutes before the train was due from Dublin I walked into the empty station, presented myself at the ticket office, and said: 'Parlez vous Francais, Monsieur?' and received the reply, 'No.' I then said in a mongrel of French and English that I wished for a ticket to Drogheda—not daring to purchase one through Belfast. Supposing me to be a French gentleman, he was very polite and ordered the porter to take my baggage to the platform. There I found myself the solitary waiting passenger. As the train approached I saw a pair of heads projecting from the carriage windows, eagerly scanning the platform. Two men jumped off, and, hastening to the station master began to talk to him in an excited manner, all the time glancing toward me. As I passed near the group to get on the train, I heard the agent[Pg 266] say: 'He is a Frenchman.' No doubt he informed them that I had purchased a ticket to a way station only—a fact that would naturally allay suspicion. At the next stopping place they actually arrested a man, but went no further.

"I afterward ascertained that twelve men were arrested on that and the preceding day, among the number being a fraudulent debtor trying to escape by the same steamer, the Atlantic.

"The following extracts from contemporary newspapers will give the reader some idea as to what a 'hot' place Ireland was for me:

"(By Cable to the New York Herald.)


"Three shabbily dressed men, who, from their accent, are believed
to be Americans, were arrested in Cork, Ireland, this morning while
attempting to deposit $12,000 in that city.

"They are supposed to be the parties who recently committed the
frauds on the Bank of England."

"From the London Times of same date."

"To Editor of Times.

"Sir: The case of Dr. Hessel has been so lately before the public, and so much has been written both in the English and German papers against the English police, that probably a little evidence upon the procedure of the German (or, I ought probably to say, the Bavarian) may not be uninteresting at the present moment. Myself and son, a sub-lieutenant, R. N., made a great attempt to reach the grotesque old city of Nuremberg on Saturday last, arriving there about 7 o'clock. We were asked to put our names in the stranger's book, as usual, which we did, and retired to bed. Imagine our surprise, on rising on Sunday morning, at receiving a visit from one of the chief police officers, requesting us to 'legitimize ourselves.' I asked him his object for making this demand, when he replied that a man named Warren was wanted by the English police.[Pg 267]

"In vain I showed him an old passport and letters addressed to me, showing that my name was Warner; he informed me that I could not leave my room, and placed two policemen at the door. At 1 o'clock I remembered an influential inhabitant of the town who knew me, and I sent for him. He at once went to headquarters and gave bond for me to a large amount, and at 6 o'clock in the evening myself and son were released. You will remember that in the case of Dr. Hessel four persons swore to his identity before he was deprived of his liberty. In my case a similar name to that required was sufficient to deprive me of mine.

"I have since received, thanks to the strenuous and prompt action of the British Minister at Munich, a very ample apology in writing for the blunder that had been committed. It was signed by the Burgermeister of the city, and as the intelligence of this worthy seems to be equaled by his simplicity, he sends me a safe pass to protect me in my further travels, in case Warner should again be considered the same as Warren. I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

"Ex-Sheriff, London and Middlesex

"I now return to my narrative. In the second-class compartment where I sat were two burly, loud-talking, well-informed farm proprietors, one of whom had imbibed a little too freely of the native distillation. The sober one had just finished reading a column article on the 'Great Bank Forgery' to his lively companion, who at length turned and addressed me. I answered him politely in broken French, and he then went on to give his opinion of the bank affair, as nearly as I can remember, as follows:

"'You, being a Frenchman, don't understand about our great bank; but I tell you those Yankees did a clever thing when they attacked that powerful institution. The one they have got penned up here in Ireland can't possibly escape; indeed, according to the newspapers, he is already in the hands of the police. I am almost sorry to hear it, for in getting the best of that bank so cleverly the rascal deserves to get off; and see, here is a description of him.'

"I looked at the paper and saw that it was a fair general outline of my appearance, even to my ulster which I had with[Pg 268] me in the valise, and the Scotch cap which was in my pocket. Before we reached Drogheda I had explained to one of my new friends, in broken French, that, owing to my ignorance of the English language, I had purchased a wrong ticket, and being liable to make a similar mistake, should feel obliged if he would take the trouble to procure me a ticket at that station. He readily assented, and by this means I procured it without exposing myself. The hunt for me was becoming so extremely hot that I dared not show myself again at a ticket office; and if I should be found on a train ticketless that fact might lead to closer scrutiny—the rule in that country being that every passenger must be provided with a ticket before entering a car.

"The train arrived in Belfast at 9 o'clock, and I at once took a cab to the Glasgow steamer. It was very dark, and I went on board unobserved, two hours before the time of departure. Going down into the saloon cabin, I saw the purser sitting near the entrance, to whom I said: 'Parlez vous Francais?' He shook his head. I then asked in jargon for 'une billet a Glasgow.' Surmising what I wished, he gave me a ticket, putting on it the number of my berth.

"Expecting to be followed, I had taken that instant precaution of impressing on the purser's mind that I was a Frenchman. I passed into the washroom, just opposite where the purser sat, washed myself and brushed my hair. Just at this moment I heard steps descending the cabin stairway, then the words:

"'Purser, a cab just brought a man from the Dublin train. Where is he?'

"'Oh, you mean the Frenchman,' replied the purser; 'he's in the washroom.'

[Pg 269]

[Pg 270]


"While this was passing I had put on my silk hat and taken up my valise, and was standing before the glass (a la Francais) taking a final view of my toilette, and snapping off some[Pg 271] imaginary dust and lint, as the two detectives stepped in, and after looking me well over went out, and I saw them no more. That proved to be the last ordeal through which I passed in Ireland. After being convinced that they had left the steamer I went to my berth, and being thoroughly exhausted I fell asleep in an instant, not awaking until the steamer was entering the harbor of Glasgow.

"After my arrest a month later in Scotland, during the transfer to London and afterward to Newgate, while awaiting trial, the detectives told me that they were in Cork three hours after I had left, and one of them related their adventures substantially as follows:

"'We arrived in Cork Saturday afternoon and were not long in finding the temperance hotel where you stayed on Friday night, and the hat you left behind. After a long hunt we ascertained that a jaunting car had left the stand some hours previously and was still absent.

"'We had a good laugh at those blunder-heads, the Cork officers, letting you slip through their fingers, and then showed them how we do things. After some delay we traced the cab across the bridge to the shop where you got the boy to go for it. The shopwoman was quite voluble about you, saying she knew all the time that you were an American by the accent, and described the bag and ulster which we had ascertained were in your possession. Of course, we were now satisfied that we were on the right scent, but could get no further trace or the direction taken by the cab. We therefore sent dispatches to all the telegraph stations within fifty miles to put the police on the watch and sent messengers to the outlying places, but somehow you slipped through our meshes, and nothing turned up until the car man returned at about 11 p.m., as drunk as a soldier on furlough. After putting him under a water tap until he was half drowned we got him sober enough to tell where he had left you; but he swore you were a priest, and his evident[Pg 272] sincerity caused us all to roar with laughter. This angered him, and he said: "Ye may twist me head an' dhroun me intirely, but I wull niver spake another wurrud about the jintelman at all, at all," and sure enough we could get nothing more out of him.

"'We had a carriage ready, and, jumping in, we were at the wayside inn by midnight and terrified the old woman half out of her wits in arousing her out of bed. After a while she gathered them sufficiently to show us that you had six hours the start of us. The boy who carried your bag could give us no points, but we concluded you intended taking the branch line at Fermoy for Dublin. We drove right on, arriving at the Fermoy station at 1 p.m., but, getting no trace we telegraphed to all the stations along the line to Dublin, and there as well to be on the lookout. Who would ever have thought of your taking the opposite direction, penning yourself in at the end of a branch line, at a small inland town like Lismore? Why, you were, as we discovered the next morning, at that moment sleeping quietly at the Lismore Hotel, and only about ten miles from where we were working so industriously for that £5,000! Well, you "done" us fine that time!

"'After you so cleverly threw us off the trail, we could get no trace until Sunday morning, when we received a dispatch from Lismore, stating that a man had come on the last train, stayed at the hotel and left at daylight without paying his bill. "Hello!" said I, as soon as I read the dispatch, "we never suspected Lismore; he has been there all night and is off again!" We telegraphed to Clonmel, Waterford and other places; then left for Lismore, where we arrived, paid your bill and took the bag with us. Surmising that you might make for Clonmel, we looked for and found the place where you got the car, but no news as to what direction you had taken. It would have made you laugh, as it did us, to see the old livery man stamp about and tear his hair when he[Pg 273] found how easily he could have made the £5,000—if he had "only known."

"'Starting on the way to Clonmel, we soon had news which satisfied us we were once more on the right track. Shortly after we met, sure enough, the cab you had sent back from the country store. Arriving there we took the boy, who had just returned from driving you to Clonmel, with us, and, feeling sure that we should soon come up with you, we made our horses spin toward that town. Arriving there, we saw the inspector, who informed us that he had sent a constable in pursuit of a man who had hired a car to go to Cahir.' (This must have been one of the men in the car whom I escaped by dodging into the ruined cottage.) 'It being then sundown we drove to Cahir with all speed, arriving there just after dark, passing the Clonmel mail car inside the gate; but it contained no one but the driver.

"'We soon found the constable sent from Clonmel, who said you had disappeared into the fort, where a friend must have concealed you, and that you must be there still. He then took us to the fort, which was closed for the night. As soon as my eyes lighted on the ruined cottages I asked him if he had searched them and received an answer in the negative. "Why," said he, "they are, as you see, all open to the day, without roof, doors or windows, and no one would think of hiding in them." "You are a fool," I replied. "Give me your lamp and come with me." After a look around and seeing how easily any person could stand in a corner out of sight, I remarked to him emphatically that he was the biggest specimen of a goose I had ever seen in my line. "I think," said I, "you had better go home and play pin. Here is where he dodged you, and now he is off again, with an hour or more start." We worked until after midnight and gave Cahir such a "turning over" that the inhabitants won't soon forget, but could not get hold of the least trace, except at one place (Maloy's), where a woman said a stranger came[Pg 274] in at supper time, who said he was an American seeing the people in their homes. We cross-questioned the man, but could get nothing out of him more than that you had departed.

"'At last we gave it up, went to the hotel to get some sleep, which we needed badly, and the next day went to Dublin, heard about the finding of your neck-wrapper at the Cathedral Hotel, and knocked about Ireland for some time. During this time we arrested several persons, but soon discovered none of them was the right party, and we never obtained a genuine trace until you were discovered later in Edinburgh.'"


[Pg 275]



As narrated in an earlier chapter, I left England two days before the first lot of forged bills were sent in. I left serene and confident of the future. My departure was a happy event in a double sense. All my negotiations had been carried on at a considerable expense of nerve, and in leaving I left everything in such trim that success seemed certain, with all chance of danger eliminated from the venture. I felt that the trying toil was now all over, with nothing for me to do but to reap the harvest, and that without effort or care on my part.

So, when the late November sun looked down on me—I crossed by daylight this time—standing on the deck of that same wretched Channel steamer, it looked on a happy man. I did not know then that success in wrongdoing was ever a failure. The anxious toil of the London and Continental negotiations was a thing of the past. Was I not young; wealth was or soon would be mine; was I not in perfect health, body sound and digestion good, and, above all, was not the woman I loved awaiting me in Paris, to give herself to me, in all her youth and beauty, and then somewhere across the Western waters would I not find in some tropic seas a paradise, which gold would make mine, where I could bear my bride, and there, turning over a new leaf, live and die with the respect of all good men mine?[Pg 276]

Here was a stately structure I was going to erect, but how rotten the foundation! I, in my egotism, fancied, in my case, at least, the eternal course of things would be stayed, and that justice would grant me a clean bill of health. She did give me that, but it was long years after, and only when she had had from me her pound of flesh to the very last ounce.

I joined my sweetheart and her family at the Hotel St. James, Rue Saint-Honore. She was an English lady, and for a whole year our courtship had been going on, and now, our wedding day being fixed a week ahead, we all set out sightseeing and having a good time generally. I now engaged the coachman I had met before as my valet, and a very good, all-around, handy man he proved to be. Of course I was anxious to hear that the first coup on the bank had succeeded, but I was tolerably confident it was all right. Had it fallen through it would have proved awkward for me. In that event the Paris climate would have been too warm for me, and I would have had to find a score of excuses to hasten our marriage and leave for the Western World as speedily as possible.

I had a four-in-hand coach, and we drove everywhere in and around Paris, once to Versailles and on to Fontainebleau, where we dined, a merry party. What a strange world is this, what a stage it is, ever crowded with tragedies, too! How absolutely in the dark we are as to the motives and actions of men.

There I was, the centre of merry pleasure parties in gay Paris. A young dude, driving my four-in-hand, and yet a criminal, waiting in hourly expectation a telegram announcing success in a great plot which, when it exploded, was destined to startle the business world, and to hurl me from the summit of happiness, where I was reveling, apparently free from care, to the misery of a dungeon, banishing the happy smiles from my face and the joyous ring from my[Pg 277] voice, leaving in place of the smiles the sombre gloom of the prison, and in place of the snatches of song and eager accents I was wont to speak with, the hushed voice subdued to prison tones.

Late one morning, on opening my eyes, my first thought was: It will be hit or miss at the Bank of England within the next sixty minutes. We had engaged for a coaching party to Versailles and were to dine there. I left for the drive that day with a dim fear that before the sun set I might be under the necessity of leaving Paris in a hurry.

When starting for Versailles I left my servant behind to wait for the expected telegram, and to bring it to me by rail. We were at dinner, and I was just raising a glass of champagne to my lips when I saw my valet, Nunn, crossing the esplanade. He entered the room and handed me a telegram. Tearing open the envelope I read:

"All well. Bought and shipped forty bales."

That meant the first lot for $40,000 had gone through safely. It was certainly a great relief. The next day I received $25,000 in United States bonds, from George in London, my first share of the proceeds. I sold the bonds in Paris, receiving payment in French notes.

On Thursday, the day before our marriage, I had a telegram from Mac and George to meet them in Calais, and to Calais I had to go. I arrived there at midnight, just before the Dover steamer got in, and was on the pier to meet them. We exchanged warm greetings; as we did so Mac placed a small but very heavy bag in my hands, and they began laughing over my surprise. It contained £4,000 in sovereigns, and was stuffed with bonds and paper money. We went to a hotel near by, and there they counted out to me the very nice sum of $100,000 in gold, bonds and French money. As they were going back on the same steamer, and I was to return to Paris by the train carrying the passengers of the steamer just arrived, we had only a brief half hour's talk.[Pg 278] After giving me the money we went out and sat down on the pier, and that conversation and scene are forever impressed on my memory. I shall make no attempt to describe either, but could both be put on the stage, with the audience in possession of a full knowledge of the enterprise we were embarked in, there would be seen a picture of human life such as the novelist or playwright never had the imagination nor the daring to depict. To the earnest student of human life it would have been a revelation.

There we were, three earnest, ambitious young men, enthusiastic for all that was good and noble. I about to wed a pure-souled woman, who thought me an angel of goodness, and about to fly with my plunder and bride to Mexico. My two companions were returning to London to continue carrying out a giant scheme of fraud against a great moneyed institution, but there we were, with $100,000 in plunder at our feet, sitting under the stars, listening to the dash of the waves, and talking not at all like pirates and robbers, but much more like crusaders setting out on a crusade, or like pilgrims going on a pilgrimage.

I told my friends I should go to the City of Mexico for a year or two, and then meet them somewhere in America where we would unite our wealth to inaugurate some scheme that would benefit thousands in our own generation and millions in the generations to come. We would hedge ourselves about with kindly deeds, so live as to win the respect of all, and when under the sod live in the eyes and mouths of men.

Too soon the whistle sounded, and we had to say good-bye, which we did in an enthusiasm that told how deeply we felt. We were walking in the Primrose Way, its flowers and songs were sweet, and we thought their perfume and melody eternal.

I again arrived in Paris at daylight, but early as it was, my sweetheart, escorted by my servant, was waiting my arrival.[Pg 279] It was our wedding morning. During our drive to the hotel, radiant with joy, she told me the separation had been a cruel one, and she was so happy to know we should never be separated again!

At 4 o'clock that afternoon we were married at the American Embassy.

I had told every one I was going to leave the next day for Havre, to embark for New York. Our baggage was all packed and placed in a van, which I accompanied to the Havre station, and had stored there. Sunday I purchased one ticket to Bayonne, one for Madrid and one to Burgos, each from different agencies. On Sunday morning I took a van to the Havre station, and transferring our baggage to the road into Spain, checked all of it to Madrid.

My purpose was to sail by the Lopez & Co. steamer El Rey Felipe from Cadiz to Mexico, which was advertised to sail ten days later.

We were married very quietly on Friday, and our friends, wisely recognizing the fact that young married people like to be alone, the next day said good-bye and returned to Normandy. We spent a quiet and happy Saturday and Sunday, and on Sunday night we left—my wife, servant and self—for Cadiz, via Madrid. My wife, like all English people, knew little of geography, and had such hazy notions of America that she thought it quite the thing to go to such an outlandish and far off quarter of the globe as America via a Spanish port. Columbus, she knew, had gone that way, and why should not we?

We had an all-night ride to Bayonne in one of those antiquated compartments used in railway carriages all over Europe, but the ride was not tedious, nor was the night long. This little earth had no happier couple, and, talking of the happy years that lay before us, the night rushed by like a fairy dream.

Where was my conscience? Why, my dear reader, I had[Pg 280] sung it such a song that it was delighted with the music, and had, I was going to say, gone to sleep, but it had not. It was wide awake, and we were good chums. We both—conscience and I—had persuaded ourselves it was a virtuous deed to do evil that good might come. My conscience was perhaps as old as the sun, but I myself was young and too inexperienced to see the fallacy of the argument, since I myself was the doer of the wrong; but, of course, I should have hotly denounced any other such philosopher as a villain and rogue.

The night flew by, and to our surprise we found 240 miles had slipped away and we were in Bayonne. Thirty minutes more and we were speeding south, and soon crossed the Bidassoa, the boundary between France and Spain. Then my wife saying, "Now I will sleep," laid her head on the shoulder of the happiest man in or out of Spain, and in ten minutes her regular breathing told me she was in the land of dreams.

The Pyrenees, in dividing France and Spain, stand between two distinct peoples, and as the centuries go by the streams of national life meet, but only to repel each other, never to mingle. One has but to cross the bank to realize that he is among a different race. Dress, food and cooking—social life, religious devotion, modes of thought—are all different. To us here in America it is difficult to realize that so slight a thing as a mountain barrier, easily traversed, crossed by many defiles and good roads, should continue to separate two distinct peoples. But so it is. Stranger still, for nearly all time the inhabitants of the Spanish mountains have been more or less opposed to the people of the Spanish plains, and every century has seen several insurrections among the mountaineers. In 1872 and '73 the Carlists held the mountains and more or less fusillading was going on. The possibility of my way being blocked by the Carlists never entered into my calculations.[Pg 281]

The railway from Bayonne to Madrid is owned in Paris, and it seems that the directors were paying blackmail to Don Carlos, ostensibly to him, but really to several marauding bands who plundered under the name of fighting for the Don, upon the understanding that the railroad was not to be meddled with. The directors had been paying 100,000 francs a month. As will be easily believed, there was a difficulty in the distribution of the money among so many greedy and inartistic robbers, and the discontented determined to hold up the railroad itself and stop all trains. Unluckily, the train we were on was the one they proposed to experiment on first, and they proposed drastic measures, too—in fact, had blown up or down a short tunnel, and torn up the rails in front of our train. As we crossed the frontier a French gendarme and Spanish civil guard appeared, demanding passports. It was, of course, a sure thing that I had them all right. It is a safeguard under the protection of which the man who has anything to fear slips through the fingers of frontier guards and police, while the honest man quite frequently neglects the necessary formalities and is detained.

Our train crossed the bridge over the Bidassoa and we were on Spanish soil. Soon we entered the gorges of the Pyrenees, and while speculating whether I should awaken my wife to see the magnificent scenery all necessity for awakening any one on that train was over. Three or four musket shots rang out, our train was off the rail, and after a crash or two came to a sudden stop, and then a babel arose, while the train was surrounded by armed men. It was laughable. It seemed like an opera bouffe, the real thing, this motley array of brigands, all trying to maintain under difficulties the grave Spanish exterior.

One monkey of 18 or 19 years, armed, came to our compartment, and, pointing to my chain, said he wanted it and my watch. None of us understood Spanish, but we all com[Pg 282]prehended his meaning readily. I refused to make him a gift, and got rid of him easily.

We were all ordered to alight and our captors seemed inclined to be ugly. Myself and party were about the only well-dressed people on the train, and, seeing a priest close by, I went up to him, and ascertaining he could speak French, I began, in very bad French indeed, to threaten with very dire consequences Don Carlos and every band of Carlists who dares to annoy an English Duke and Duchess, and demanded instant shelter and a guard for my wife, the Duchess. We could hardly keep from laughing, it was so very like a melodrama. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the situation, and I should have done so too, had I not had such strong reasons for quick passage through Spain to blue water on the South, for I desired to speedily put some leagues of Neptune's domain between myself and the Old World.

The priest, although a sallow, sombre fellow, was a very good one, and seemed to realize the gravity of the situation, for, calling the chief to him, he warned him to be careful. That gentleman came up, and drawing himself up said very proudly: "Sir, we are soldiers, not robbers." I said I was very glad to know it, and demanded to be informed if I was a prisoner or not, and was told I was not, but with the same breath he said he would be obliged to detain us for a few days. There was a fonda, or inn, close by, and leaving my wife there, I finally managed by a liberal use of money to secure an ox-cart, and by virtue of great generalship on the part of myself and servant, got all our baggage out of the wrecked train and safely up to the inn.

Spaniards are provokingly slow, but by riding mule-back five miles away I succeeded in seeing the local commander of the Carlist forces, and he promised to send me the next day a pass through the lines, going either south or north. I got him also to include in the pass my fellow passengers. I did this because there was a Portuguese family who had tick[Pg 283]ets for South America. They were then on their way to embark at Lisbon, and the old gentleman, the head of the family, was very weak and ill.

My safe plan would have been to return to France, make my way to Brest and embark from there to New York, and that would have been my course had I had any conception of the slowness of the Spanish officials and of the fierce storms and snows that dominate the passes of the Pyrenees in Winter.

We were informed by many officials, railway guards, Custom House officers, Carlists, etc., that by crossing thirty miles south we would pass the lines and get to a little town on the railway where trains left frequently for Madrid. The Spaniards about the place would never have let us start out on that perilous trip had it not been for the money there was in it. I had secured at a round price three century old bullock carts, and in the afternoon of the second day we got off. I had all the women and the sick Portuguese in one cart, with the two other carts ahead heaped with luggage. Thus there were eight bullocks, four mules and (unlucky number) thirteen men engaged.

I had very misty notions as to our destination, but took it for granted the baker's dozen of natives I had with me knew what they were about. Snow was everywhere, and we were mounting up, up, up, on wheels, but I supposed the highest altitude was only four or five miles away, and that the down grade would be easy until we reached some snug inn where we would find shelter for man and beast. Then an early start by daylight and our novel jaunt would come to an end in civilization and a railway. But I did not know Spaniards, their country, the Pyrenees, nor what blizzards can blow in sunny Spain.

Myself and my servant Nunn trudged on alongside the cart with the women. It took an hour to get out of sight of the fonda, and then we struck a fine, wide military road[Pg 284] that wound in and around the mountains, but always up and deep in snow. Three, four o'clock came and still no sign of the summit, but with the road winding in and out for miles ahead. The sky began to darken, and without warning down came the snow. Then frequent halts of the caravan to rest the cattle. Deeper grew the snow, and as the darkness began to settle down I realized the responsibility I had unwittingly taken on my shoulders. I had four delicate women in my forlorn party and found myself fast in the midst of a snowstorm, in a wild pass of the Pyrenees. I recognized one blessing, however, and was profoundly grateful—the air was calm—and though the snow fell thick and fast it was not driven by a storm.

Nunn proved to be thoroughly reliable, helpful and full of cheer. Between us we kept up the spirits of the party. But all hands began to grow hungry. Fortunately I had in my baggage a large pate de foie gras. That is a fat goose liver pie, and it was fat, happily so, as it went the further. Then I got rugs and wraps out of my trunks for the women and a couple of bottles of brandy, and administered liberal doses all round. I soon had them happy and full of courage. It was certainly better to have them full of Dutch courage in a fool's paradise than to have them awake to their position, for I quite expected it would end in a night camp-out in the snow and sending an empty cart for supplies. Two hours after dark we came to a dead halt, and my guides—they were beauties—said they could go no further; the oxen could not pull the carts. There was a fonda, they said, two miles away, but did not show any disposition to help to get there, and for that matter did not seem to care whether we did or not. I ordered them to leave the middle cart behind and divide the teams, one team to be added to the front cart and one to be hitched in front of the mules. Our interpreter was one of the Portuguese women, but we did not get on very well, the Spaniards objecting to anything being[Pg 285] done, all of them apparently waiting for the Virgin or some of the saints to come to our aid; but as neither did, Nunn and I were exasperated, and finally took the matter into our own hands. By my orders, despite the energetic protests of the drivers, he unhitched the oxen from the middle team, and between us we got them to the mule cart, hitched them in front of the mules and pulled out and past the other carts. Here the Spaniards halted us, and after an angry altercation in the dark—and it was dark—they agreed to go on. So, taking a yoke of oxen from our cart, they were put in front of the four of the first cart, and off we started. Nunn volunteered to stand by and guard the stranded cart; so giving him two blankets and a little brandy we drove off in the darkness. But not until, in sight of all, I had given him a revolver, and each of the unlucky thirteen a good nip of brandy. My anxiety about serious results was over as soon we started, and in an hour and a half we halted in front of a wretched mountain inn, patronized by muleteers, with the first story for a stable, but none of us were disposed to be particular. A supper of Spanish beans was soon ready, and then a bed was made up on the floor, and the women were soon asleep. After seeing that the mules and oxen were fed, I took half an hour's nap. Then with two drivers we started back, taking three yoke of oxen. What a tramp I had back through the snow and storm! I was very happy, however, for I knew my wife and party were safely sheltered, and the excitement of action kept one from being gloomy.

In due time we found our stray, hitched to and started, but it was hard pulling and the exhausted oxen had to come to frequent halts. At last, just as I was beginning to feel tired, we came to the fonda.

The snow had slackened, but the wind was beginning to blow, so Nunn and I carried all the luggage and traps into a corner of the stable below, and tumbling down into the hay we were soon in the land of dreams. In my dreams I[Pg 286] was on a shoreless sea in a bark that silently and swiftly circled around. Dark clouds closed in on all sides, while my boat sailed between ever-narrowing walls, the clouds still closing in, until a giant hand grew out from a ragged edge of the cloud wall, which, seizing the prow of my boat, pulled it into the gloom and darkness. I felt the clouds brushing my cheek. I heard the roar of falling water, and felt that my doom was sealed. I thought of my wife, and, trying to call her name, was dumb. I looked behind. Far off and far up there was a glow of rosy light, and within the aureole was her face, full of sorrow, looking at me with pity in every feature. As I looked, her face was slowly eclipsed by a cloud. Then with one cry I plunged into the sea—and awoke.

That dream would easily have joined the long procession of forgotten dreams, but it was recalled many a time during many years. And, try as I might, I felt it to be a portent and a prophecy.

When I awoke in the morning I was dumfounded to find a blizzard blowing that the cattle could not face, and with every appearance of continuance. In reply to my inquiries I learned they sometimes blew in those altitudes for a week. This was unpleasant news for me, and the prospect made me nervous. It was now Thursday, the fourth day since our departure from Paris. And what might have happened in London in that time! Here was I as completely isolated from the outside world and from all news about my companions in England as if on a desert isle. For all I knew discovery might have been made, and full details of the fraud might be blazing in the press of Europe. I began to fear I had run into a trap. To make matters worse, the steamer El Rey Felipe was advertised to sail Monday from Cadiz, and to miss her seemed danger indeed.

[Pg 287]


I was a prisoner in a wretched inn in a defile of the Pyrenees, with a civil war raging, and no telling what might[Pg 288] arise to detain us. Our objective point was only some thirty-five miles away, but with roads deep in snow, with wretched cattle and more wretched Spaniards for drivers, there was poor prospect of making headway. I felt it would never do for me to suffer longer detention.

I determined to leave my wife and baggage in charge of Nunn, to put the $120,000 I had in a bag and start back to the French frontier, cross into France and catch the Saturday steamer from Havre to New York, explaining to my wife that important business demanded my presence in America, that she could follow on the next steamer and that I would meet her on arrival.

In the mean time my unlucky thirteen were happy. For were they not sheltered, with plenty of food and high wages, all out of the pocket of the great lord the Virgin herself must have sent to them? In fact, they were winning from me what to them was a fortune. I was paying each man a dollar a day and $5 for each team and cart.

From my experience I must give the Spaniards a good name for honesty. Of course, they were charging me cut-throat prices, but they were poor, and wealthy lords did not often come their way. Aside from that they were very honest. Many things, such as rugs, shawls, lunch baskets, dressing cases, etc., that must have seemed of value to them, lay around everywhere, but not a single article was missing during the entire trip.

All day long the blizzard blew. It was a novel situation, and how I should have enjoyed it had I only possessed that greatest of all blessings—a good conscience! As it was, I was in misery, and could find no peace, not even in my wife's smiles and evident content to be anywhere with me.

I saw that the cattle were well cared for and that the men had both food and wine. Then my servant skirmished around and decapitated sundry chickens he found. So we had roast chicken three times a day, and as I had a case[Pg 289] of brandy in my luggage, we did not suffer. Nunn roasted the chickens, made the punch, got the Spanish men and women to dance for our entertainment, and made himself generally of service. About midnight the storm broke up, and to my great satisfaction the stars came out. That night I slept in the same room with the women, with a sheet hung between us.

At 5 o'clock I had all hands up and breakfast under way. I ordered the drivers and hangers on to have the teams hitched up and ready at daylight. They all ate breakfast heartily enough, but were not zealous about starting out. They made all sorts of pretexts and excuses to avoid leaving their comfortable quarters. Certainly the road was not an inviting prospect, there being quite eighteen inches of snow, but I was determined to start one way or the other, either south with the party or north alone. After long argument they, thinking they had me at their mercy, refused to hitch up the cattle to make the attempt. I at once paid and dismissed them all. Determining to set out immediately alone for the French frontier, carrying only a small bag slung over my shoulder, and concealing the bonds and paper money on my person, I would leave the greater part of the gold in charge of my wife. I knew Nunn would be a trusty guard to her.

[Pg 290]

I had not given her any intimation of my purpose, but got my bag ready, and, secreting about me the bonds and paper money, I took my wife into a room, and, first telling her she must be very brave, explained my plan, pointing out I must not miss the Saturday steamer. She should follow on the next, and I would leave her $20,000. But she pleaded to go with me, said she would be no encumbrance, would ride mule-back to the railway, no matter how far away. I then called Nunn and told him I should leave him in charge of the baggage, and that we were going to set out at once. I praised his fidelity, and informed him I would[Pg 291] make him a present when he arrived all safe in New York with the baggage. But when the sick man and his family were told we were going they raised a howl. The women all hung on me crying and imploring me not to leave them to despair and death. They would all perish, etc.

Henry Hawkins, Esq. Q.C. Hon. Sir. J. Kellog, KKT Judge
of the Queen's Bench Rt. Hon. Sir R. J. K. Cockburn, Chief High Justice
of England View larger image

I had secured a good saddle mule, but with a man's saddle, and my wife was sensible enough not to make an outcry over the prospect of a ride man-fashion. She came out warmly clad and mounted the mule, and I strapped some rugs and a bundle of lunch behind the saddle. The owner of the mule was at his head, halter in hand, ready to lead off. The entire population were out staring open-mouthed. I delivered a speech to my lucky-unlucky thirteen, telling them in the best way I could that I was going in order to deliver them all over to the vengeance of the military chief of the district. That I should accuse them as robbers and thieves, and that they might look for anguish that would wring their hearts and souls.

They were greatly moved, and, pulling out my watch, I informed them by pantomime and bad Spanish that if they got the teams in harness and the luggage all packed on the carts in twenty minutes I would take them into my favor and resume our journey southward.

Spaniards are proverbially slow. But these Spaniards were not slow, and a very few minutes saw us all once more mounted on our cart, with the two baggage carts following, and on our rocky way southward.[Pg 292]



We passed during the day a military post and several squads of armed men. Poor fellows! they were wretchedly equipped, so far as garments went. They all examined us curiously, but did not offer to stop or question us while I marched on ahead of the cavalcade like a drum major, giving the military salute to each party as we passed. I ought to have been fatigued, but I was not. After about five miles of uphill work we began to descend. The road was a masterpiece of engineering, and well it might be, for it was one of five military roads the great Napoleon ordered to be constructed across the Pyrenees, and it was done in a thoroughly workmanlike manner. It wound in and out and along defiles of stern beauty.

We halted for rest and refreshment at noon, and again at 4 o'clock for an hour. At the last place we found some Carlist officers, one a young Englishman, who was a good fellow and most attentive. He was an aide-de-camp on Don Carlos' staff. He told me there was no chance of his side winning, but he was in it for the fun of the thing and in hope of seeing some fighting. He had taken part in a number of skirmishes, and was by no means satisfied yet. He volunteered to escort us through the lines, and was evidently more than pleased to meet an English lady in the person of my wife.[Pg 293]

It was beautiful to see him order about my muleteers and bully them up hill and down dale, not hesitating to use his whip on them. About 5 o'clock we started off in great shape, having some twenty miles to go to the little town on the railway south of the Pyrenees. We had two lanterns and a number of torches; it was a picturesque caravan in the darkness. The young officer rode beside the first cart, conversing with my wife, while I walked in the rear. We had reason to congratulate ourselves over our escort, he being a brave and brilliant fellow and evidently a person of importance. He little thought whom he was escorting. I was pleased on my wife's account, as he was company for her, and, altogether, she thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of the whole situation.

We had made a fine bed of hay and blankets for our sick man. Nevertheless, he was a source of much anxiety and trouble. At last, to the intense relief of all, we heard far away the shrill whistle of a locomotive. It was sweet music to my ears, for I realized the peril of the delay. We had now arrived at the base of the southern slope of the Pyrenees and the plain stretched out before us. We had just passed through an intrenched camp that guarded the entrance to the valley. Our escort had ridden ahead, and not satisfied with smoothing the way for us, had turned out the guard to do us honor. We halted for a few minutes, and several uniformed officers came forward and were introduced to my wife and me. It was a picturesque scene. The mantle of snow covering all, the strange-looking mountaineers, the eager-faced, boyish officers—French, English, Austrian—all soldiers of fortune, who, in the dearth of great wars, were seeking fame in the inglorious civil contest; our torches casting fantastic shadows until the forest-covered mountain, dark and frowning, though snow lay everywhere, seemed peopled with hosts of men—all made a picture never to be forgotten by some of the observers.[Pg 294]

Another mile and our escort had to leave us, but the town, standing dark against the snow, was in plain view. By his advice I went ahead on foot with two men, in case any of "the enemy" were prowling around, but found none until we arrived in the town; then a scene of great excitement to the townspeople arose.

We were examined and cross-examined, and our statements taken down in writing and sworn to by all hands. In the mean time I had made beds for our sick man and the ladies in the waiting room of the station, and about 2 o'clock I went to sleep. The station was fortified and full of soldiers, but I did not care, being told the Madrid train would start at daylight; if so, I would be in time for El Rey Felipe, and would be sailing out of Cadiz harbor on Monday over the blue water, westward ho!

After a two hours' nap I was up, paid off my lucky thirteen, giving them a present in addition to their due, with a written paper certifying that they were honest and brave, and had delivered me and mine in safety.

The weather continued very cold, and when the train, consisting of two passenger and one baggage car, arrived we found there were no heating arrangements, and we shivered at the thought of an all-day's ride without fire or heat across that windy plain. I determined to have a compartment to ourselves, for my wife and I had not had a moment's privacy since the smash-up of the train. So we fixed up a bed on the floor of a compartment for our sick man, and I put his family in to look out for him. When the train left we found ourselves, very much to our satisfaction, alone. I had telegraphed ahead to Burges to have hot water cases, then the only mode of heating cars in Europe, ready on our arrival.

The engineer of our train was an Englishman. As it was so important that I should not be delayed I gave him a sovereign and his stoker another, and asked him as a[Pg 295] favor to make time. He said he would and kept his word. But arriving at Burgos we found that the train from Santander going south was two hours late, so my wife and I started out to see the famous town.

After a short view we made our way to the Cathedral, and it was a sight! It is one of the many sacred edifices which the piety of former ages bequeathed our own. One of these sacred buildings—like the Strasbourg and Cologne Cathedrals, in the construction of which generation after generation of pious souls—pious according to the fashion of their times—had given their days to the building and decoration of the cloister or church where their lives were lived, and all was done with loving and patient care.

We in our day may sneer at the monks and brothers of the Dark Ages, but in those times of rude violence all gentle hearted, scholarly souls found in the sanctity and quiet of the cloister the only refuge open to them, and they did good work, both in the domain of mind and in the world of material things. Much that was "piety" and much that was "faith" in their day is termed superstition in ours; but who will deny that the simple piety and credulous faith of their day was a million times better than the restless skepticism and sad unrest of ours?

At Burgos I tried to get an English paper, but none was to be had and no one there had ever seen one.

But here some startling news came flashing over the wires. Nothing less than that there had been a revolution at Madrid, the capital. Amadeo, the lately elected king, had suddenly resigned, and a republic had been proclaimed with Castelar at the head.

I began to see more and more what a fool I was to let myself be caught at such a time in such a land, but still had so much confidence in my good fortune that I felt I would be on time for the steamer on Monday.

It was now 3 o'clock Friday. We were all aboard for[Pg 296] Madrid and just pulling out of the station. We would be due there the next morning. From Madrid to Cadiz there is only one through train in twenty-four hours, and that leaves seven mornings a week; but, as it runs only fifteen miles an hour, and is seldom on time at that, one must figure on taking an entire twenty-four hours for the journey. Still, as we would be due Saturday morning, I had a big margin for delay.

At last we were off. On the train and in every group we passed there were signs of subdued excitement. Between Royalists and Republicans sharp lines were evidently drawn which soon were to culminate in bloody conflict.

Soon after 10 o'clock we arrived in the walled town of Avila, about eighty miles from the famous Escurial built by the second Philip, and about 150 miles from Madrid. Here we got an excellent dinner and good coffee. But dinner was spoiled for me by the disastrous intelligence that martial law had been proclaimed and that the Government had seized the roads running north from Madrid to transport troops.

Here was a pretty pickle! I was enraged. I saw the chief of the railway at Avila, but he was a fool, and under the unwonted state of affairs had lost what little head he ever had.

So once more our baggage was all piled out of the train, and once more we had to go into camp on the floor of the station, with a terrific din around us.

I arose early, and looking up the telegraph clerk and railway chief, I made them both rich by the present to each of five escudos.

Then I telegraphed Castelar and the Minister of War that I was an Englishman, that I had my family with me, and having important business in Madrid I must not be detained in Avila. I demanded that he should at once direct the military officials to send me on to Madrid by[Pg 297] special train. I also sent a telegram to Hernandez, president of the road in Paris, offering 5,000 francs for a special train. Another urgent message was sent to the superintendent in Madrid repeating the offer for a special train, the same sum to himself if he expedited the train. I also authorized him to spend a similar amount if necessary in bribing the military authorities.


At 11 o'clock I had a long telegram from him saying a train would be made up at Avila. But an hour having passed away, I sent him a message to order up an engine and one car from Madrid. Another message arrived at 12 o'clock, and down came an engine and car.

Our baggage was hustled into the three front compartments. I put Nunn and the Portuguese party in one and my wife and I occupied the rear compartment. Thank Heaven! once more alone together. The soldiers and inhabitants flocked around, and we were the observed of all observers.

The local railway chief was more than anxious to see us off, as I added another five to the five escudos already given. Just then the telegraph operator flew out with an order for our train to await the arrival of the train from Madrid.

I stormed. I kept the wire hot with messages of protest to officials. Two messages came from Madrid saying the delay was but temporary. So there I sat in that musty compartment, my wife by my side and with a heart full of bitterness, for I saw the precious hours slipping away, and with them my chance of taking the Sunday morning train so as to catch the Cadiz steamer. To miss it, I thought, meant ruin.

Hour after hour passed by, and there we sat. My secret cause of unrest had to be kept locked in my breast, while my young wife, all unsuspecting, was merry and happy, chanting little snatches of song and telling me a hundred times she was the happiest of women. She did not care[Pg 298] for revolutions, nor for delays. Was she not with me! The sun began to go down the sky, and the shadows fell. Still we sat on, expecting every moment an order to proceed. The suspense was terrible.

At last about 6 o'clock an order came to have everything ready to pull out for Madrid at 7, so very reluctantly we dismounted to take supper in the station, and once more got into the car. But no order came. The hours dragged on, and I saw fate closing her hand on me.

The night wore on, when suddenly, toward midnight, the operator rushed out of his office and, shouting to the engineer, flew up to our compartment, said good-bye and in a minute we were off. After that long and terrible day it was happiness to be moving.

I had given the engineer a tip; he put on steam, and as we flew over the road hope returned. I felt we were safe. At the rate we were going I should have two or three hours to spare. We soon were at the Escurial. As fate would have it we found here an order to run us on a side line and to keep the track clear for a train going north. For two miserable hours we waited and no train. Then I set the wires in motion again, and just as the eastern skies grew gray we started.

Soon after midnight I telegraphed to the railway authorities at Madrid to hold the train going south to Cadiz until my arrival, offering $100 an hour for every hour's detention.

Madrid is situated on a high sandy plain, storm-swept in Winter worse than any plains in Northern Europe. We had a wheezy engine. Four miles out it broke down, and then I gave up the struggle.

At 4 o'clock Sunday afternoon, nine hours too late for the Cadiz train, we arrived at Madrid, too late to reach Cadiz by a special train. Not too late could the train have[Pg 299] been started off as soon as ordered, but in Spain a special train is an unheard-of thing.

Mine from Avila was an innovation, only possible because there was so much money behind it to all concerned at both ends of the line. No Spaniard was ever known to be in a hurry, and no particle of matter between his chin and his sombrero holds any lurking suspicion that anything born of a woman could be in a hurry or have any reason for any such insanity.

Here I was at last in the much-longed-for Madrid, but not on time, and I had nothing to do but to put in execution some new plan. Had I even at that late date resolved to go to New York, I could have returned to France by the Eastern route, via Barcelona, and all might have been well.

I telegraphed to Lopez & Co. to Cadiz inquiring if they would hold the El Rey Felipe for twenty hours. They replied they were under contract with the Government and had to sail on time. So I said good-bye to that plan.

On consulting my memorandum I saw there was a French steamer sailing from St. Nazaire, on the west coast of France, for Vera Cruz, Mexico, which would touch at Santander on Saturday for mails and passengers, and I resolved to go by her; this, of course, meant retracing our way through the hated Avila to Burgos, and changing there for Santander.

Here we saw the last of the Portuguese family with their sick member. They said good-bye with every expression of gratitude, and in truth I was glad to see them off. We were all very tired of them, and they had been a serious expense. That is, might have been serious, but as I paid that expense out of the Bank of England's cash I naturally could be liberal in the extreme, and gave a salve to my conscience by reflecting what a good-souled, charitable young man[Pg 300] I was in looking out for these strangers and putting my hand freely in my pocket in their behalf.

As soon as breakfast was over I hurried to the English Embassy, and there securing files of the London papers looked eagerly and nervously through them. To my intense relief I saw there was nothing in them. Therefore, I knew all was serene in London and that the Old Lady was without doubt giving out sovereigns by the tens of thousands for us.

Very much relieved in mind I returned to the hotel, and we set out to see Madrid.


[Pg 301]



It was 11 o'clock when we started. The streets were thronged, and the throngs moving in one direction. That was to the street lined on both sides with churches, whose doors were flung wide open to the surging masses. We went with the current and entered a famous church which was crowded with the pious, their souls rapt in their devotion. Like all European churches, there were no seats, but the audience, closely packed, knelt or stood. We joined the worshipers, but looked around with curious eyes. When the prayers were ended the street was one living mass of people, all moving toward the outskirts of the town. We went with the tide, and with the tide entered the arena, where a bull fight was on—curious transition from church to arena. It was a great sight—I mean that of seeing the people—there were 15,000 present in that amphitheatre. It looked just like the old Roman arena, and to us was in all its details intensely interesting.

On Monday we visited the picture galleries and museums, and on Tuesday we got our baggage down to the depot once more, and purchasing our tickets we were off for Santander. I was too anxious to enjoy the scenery. We were a day and a night on the journey, and arriving on Wednesday I still had before me three days of anxiety.

Being thoroughly sick of Spain, I longed to be on blue[Pg 302] water with our good ship's prow pointed to the Western World. Then I felt I could begin to enjoy life. I had a charming wife—delightful companion—and once up anchor all my haunting fears would die, and life's pleasures would be mine to the full. But there in Santander the time dragged wearily. To be sure, I had the English papers, but they were nearly a week on the way, and a bad conscience finds many a cause for fear. I was aching to be aboard. Saturday came at last, and going early down to the headland at the harbor's mouth, with my field glass I anxiously scanned the Bay of Biscay to see if I could discern anywhere on the horizon the smoke of the approaching steamer. Lingering there until the dinner hour, I hastened to the hotel.

My wife was merry and happy. I was glad to see her so, and found it difficult to conceal my solicitude. Going both together to the headland we spent most of the afternoon there. Night and then midnight came, and no steamer's lights flashed in the dark waters of the bay. Heartsick and anxious I went to bed, half resolved to take my wife into my confidence, tell her in some measure the truth, and point out to her the necessity of my taking flight, leaving her to follow at her leisure. It would have been a terrible shock to her, but I began to fear that the truth would come to her ears some time.

Early the next morning my servant awoke me, asking me to look out of the window. I ran to it, and looking out, there in the bay, just in front of the hotel, lay a steamer of the largest size and magnificent in her beauty. It was a happy sight for me.

Nunn hired a boat for our luggage and a second for me, and then, after a hurried breakfast, we boarded the steamer, Nunn following with the baggage. Among other things I had a favorite dressing case, and had given the servant strict orders to keep it under his eye, but as soon as he came aboard he inquired in great agitation if I had brought[Pg 303] it off with me. Upon my saying no he was quite overcome, at the same time explaining that he had laid it on top of the baggage in front of the hotel, and some one had stolen it. While he was speaking a passenger came walking by with the identical case in his hand. Nunn flew at the man and seized both him and the bag, and sure enough he had the thief, but I ordered him to let the man go, and he went away shamefaced enough. He little thought when stealing the bag that the owner was going on the same steamer. At last we were afloat, and now I was all eagerness to hear the steam monkey start to bring the anchor a-peak. It is simply amazing how a bad conscience "moldeth goblins swift as frenzy's thought." Even as I stood there I was not at rest, but was impatient and suspicious of every movement from the shore. As the long day dragged slowly on and 4 o'clock came, preparations for getting under way were going rapidly forward. I took my field glasses, stationed myself on the after deck and anxiously scrutinized every boat leaving the shore. Suddenly a boat started out from the head of the bay, pulled steadily by eight rowers, and my conscience told me it meant danger, but the boatmen pulled down along the shore, then suddenly stopped, and I could see that they were passing a bottle around, taking a drink. Soon I discovered a heap on the stern, which on closer inspection proved to be nets, and my fears boiled down showed me they were simply fishermen and I an ass and somewhat ashamed of myself. I felt I had really no cause for fear, even had the steamer remained in harbor for a week. Just then, with a mighty throb, the screw gave a turn, and it was music to my ears. Then the waters of the bay were churned into yeasty waves. The city and shores seemed to glide by and our prow was pointed direct to the blue sea rolling beyond. Soon the joyous billows were toying with our ship, and huge as it was were tossing it as lightly and easily as a child a toy.[Pg 304]

But, still ill at ease, I walked the deck restless and unhappy.

I no longer feared arrest, was confident that never would hand of human justice be laid on me, but I dimly felt that there was a divine justice which would exact retribution. I felt that if there was mind behind this frame of matter we see, then He who made the natural law and decreed a penalty for every infraction must have made an infallible decree for every violation against the moral law. If so, where could we poor insects go or hide, or how scheme or dodge to escape the divine vengeance?

But as I stood on the deck that night and watched the mountains sink into the sea I felt this all dimly, and tried to shake off the feeling. I stood fascinated, with many conflicting emotions sweeping through my mind, sadly watching the receding shores of Spain, and just as the highest mountains were sinking in the sea my servant appearing at my side informed me that dinner was ready and my wife waiting. Sending him away and turning my face to the land, I strained my eyes through the gathering gloom to discern the distant shore. Then with a bitter feeling in my heart I set out for the saloon, but stopped and quoting these lines—

"The day of my destiny is over,
And the star of my fate hath declined"

—went below.

[Pg 305]
[Pg 306]

Soon, under the warming influence of wine, forgetting all my forebodings and looking into my wife's face beaming with love and content, I could not refrain from saying to myself: I am a fool to doubt that happiness is mine. Am I not Fortune's favorite? With love, youth, enthusiasm, health and wealth on my side, what else save happy days and nights and long years filled with content can be mine?

So, shaking off my forebodings, the eighteen days of our voyage over green Neptune's back were ideal, and we became objects of envy to all the passengers.[Pg 307]

Our ship was the Martinique, with French officers and crew, and a fine, manly lot of men they were. The passengers were mostly colonial people returning home to the French colonies in the West Indies. They were nice, refined people, but we were rather reserved and kept to ourselves. One of the passengers had a dozen Spanish fighting cocks, and they afforded us much amusement. There were frequent mains on the after deck and sometimes on the dinner table. These were very popular, particularly with the ladies, who were continually asking to have the cocks brought on after dessert. A space would be made in the centre of the table and two cocks placed on it. How they loved fighting! They certainly enjoyed it far better than the spectators. There were four long tables, all crowded, but when the main was started the other tables were deserted and the passengers packed around ours.

Our opposite neighbors were two Sisters of Charity who were on their way to the City of Mexico to fill a gap that death had made in the ranks of their order there. They were simple, sainted souls and had never known any life other than the religious, and never emerged from the cloister save only to do deeds of mercy in the country town outside. They had been selected by lot to go to Mexico. We were favored to become fast friends of theirs, and I was glad to have them accept such attentions as we could give. It was delightful to meet such simple, unsophisticated people under circumstances when, they being travelers, the rules of the Church permitted them to throw off their reserve, to associate with strangers and to live—so far as food and drink were concerned—like the people they were associated with for the time.

My wife and I grew to like them well, and I was never tired of getting their views of men and things. Truly their lives were a thing apart from the world and the ways of men. They told me with a kind of rapture that the average[Pg 308] life of one of their order in Mexico was only five years, and they thought heaven had been very gracious in selecting them, that they might give their lives to the Church and so become members of the mighty army of martyrs who were honored in heaven by looking upon the face of the Virgin and her Son and serving them.

They knew nothing of wines and did not suspect the costliness of those which during the entire voyage they drank at my expense.

The dinners were rather formal affairs and occupied an hour and a half, and between the good sisters and us two we always finished a bottle of claret and two of champagne, and about a like quantity between dinner and bedtime. I don't believe that up to the hour they left the world they ever quite understood why they were so happy and merry on that voyage.

We used to visit the steerage forward nearly every day. There was an unmistakable lady so unfortunate as to be a passenger there. She appreciated our visits, and eventually confided the story of her life to my wife, and what a story it was of woman's love and man's perfidy!

I had an electric battery which I frequently took into the steerage to astonish the natives. When I first put a silver piece in a basin of water and told them the man taking it out could keep it, what a rush there was! There was one would-be clever clown who was perfectly willing to test the power of the battery, but was so clever he never would take hold of both handles at once. He dodged around for two or three days greatly pleased with his sharpness, but I determined to have him some day and have him hard when I got him. So one morning when dancing about as usual he happened to be barefooted. Apparently by accident, I upset the basin of water over the deck, making it a good conductor, then accepting his offer to try the machine by holding one handle, I dropped the other on the wet deck[Pg 309] and gave him the benefit of the whole power of the battery. He let one terrific yell, then stood rooted to the deck speechless for a moment; then gave vent to a series of whoops that would have made the fortune of a Comanche Indian. When freed from the current the clever fellow made a break for the steerage and never appeared again at any of my electric seances. All those ignorants insisted that my battery was surely el diablo.

After eighteen days we cast anchor in St. Thomas harbor, and pleasant as our voyage had been we were glad to see land. We were to stop a day for coaling.

Taking the two sisters, we went ashore in one of the many boats surrounding the ship, all manned by scantily robed black fellows. The town, with its hordes of gaudily dressed and noisy blacks, was most interesting. I had hired the boat for the day, so the three black fellows accompanied us around the town. Each wore a stovepipe hat. The remainder of their furniture consisted of cotton shirt and trousers. The men were barefooted, of course.

My wife was the typical blue-eyed, golden-haired Englishwoman, and was the observed of all observers in that black mob. I myself was all in white, from canvas shoes to white umbrella. So, between the two sisters in their black robes and white bonnets and our attending boatmen, along with a mob of half-naked black boys that followed, we formed quite a circus and created a commotion in the town.

First I took the sisters to the cathedral. Both were grateful and knelt at the altar for a full half hour while we waited. Then after visiting several stores to make some small purchases, we went to a circus showing there that week. I bought ten tickets for my party. Everything they saw in the town was marvelous and strange to them. When we entered the circus tent the sisters were perplexed and thought it must be a new sort of church. But words would fail to express their amazement when they saw the clown and bespangled[Pg 310] horseman enter the ring and the performance begin. They were in a new and hitherto undreamed-of world, and gazed in childlike wonderment on the scene, and, like children, only saw the glitter of the spangles and thought both men and women performers were angels of beauty. Even after the thing was over the magic and witchery of it all rested on them. Their hearts were deeply stirred and their thoughts were with the performers. To please them we sat until the audience had dispersed, and, when going out, one of them, speaking of the performers, told my wife they must be "very near to God."

Then we went to the hotel. I dispersed my cortege and ordered a room for ourselves and one for the sisters, and we all took a nap until evening. Then we had some negro singing and dancing for our amusement in the courtyard of the hotel, and at 9 o'clock we went out for a moonlight walk under the tropical sky. About 10 we found we had had enough of it and were glad to betake ourselves to bed.

We all breakfasted together in the courtyard the next morning and soon after went aboard. At noon up came the anchor and we were off for Havana, our next stopping place, twenty-four hours' sail away. The steamer after one day's detention to take in cargo would continue her voyage to Vera Cruz. It was my intention to go on to that port, and from there across the country to the capital, the City of Mexico. There was no cable to Mexico in 1873, and things there were in rather a primitive condition. Of course, I never anticipated pursuit beyond New York, and took it for granted that my friends at Police Headquarters would squelch it there. But once in Mexico there would have been no danger for me. To be in Mexico was like being in the centre of darkest Africa. There was no extradition treaty, no railroads and no telegraph; above all, I had plenty of cash.

I intended to buy an estate near the capital, and settle[Pg 311] down for two or three years, and by a liberal expenditure of money secure the friendship of the government officials and the chief people of the country. Official and social morals being not of the best, if my history transpired I would probably become the lion of society, as they would all esteem it a creditable thing to any man to secure a few millions from the English, whose enormous wealth is the plunder of India and all the world for centuries.

The next morning I found we were sailing along the Cuban coast, quite near the land, which looked so inviting that I made up my mind to go ashore and stay a month in Havana, so I had my baggage got on deck. Soon after dinner the engines were stopped for some hours for repacking, the captain informing me that it was doubtful whether we should arrive in Havana in time to go ashore that night. At 6 o'clock the sunset gun is fired, the custom house closes and no more debarkations are allowed that day. If I went ashore the next day I must be up and off at an early hour, as the ship sailed at 7.30, so I told the captain if he arrived before 6 o'clock I would go ashore and wait for the next steamer, but if we were late I would go on to Vera Cruz with him.

Once having made up my mind to go ashore, I was all eagerness to push matters. To do so I even asked the captain to tell the engineer to force the engines a little if possible. It was well on to 6 o'clock when we steamed past Moro Castle and dropped anchor in the harbor. I engaged two of the boats alongside, our baggage was hurried into them, my wife went down the ladder, and speaking some hurried farewells I ran down after her and sprang lightly into the boat. That instant the sunset gun was fired. Two minutes later and the custom house officers on board would have forbidden my leaving the steamer. I say two minutes, but it was less than half a minute. Half a minute! Thirty seconds changed my destiny.[Pg 312]



Cuba! What a productive and fertile island it is, with its charming climate and lovely scenery! But, as in so many of the green spots of this world, man has blasted and spoiled all that indulgent nature has lavished here. From the days of Columbus the story of Cuba has been one of wholesale murder of natives, of revolutions—later of insurrections, and deadly civil strife, which have ruined whole provinces once covered with large sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations.

Slavery now, as in all her past Christian history, is everywhere. Previous to 1861 40,000 slaves were yearly imported in slave ships into the harbor of Havana.

Perhaps all men are cruel when they are absolute masters of the lives and fortunes of their fellows and amenable to none for their acts. Certainly the white Cubans, as a rule, are cruel masters in all their dealings with their slaves.

Probably to-day, certainly in 1873, most of the large plantations witnessed scenes of cruelty never surpassed in the long annals of human servitude.

During my stay I was invited to visit many plantations, but visits to two were enough for me, there being too many signs on the surface of the brutality that lay beneath. I could easily give cases that I saw or heard of, but refrain from doing so here.

One day's stay in Cuba convinced us we could spend a month very happily on the island, and, discovering that[Pg 313] Don Fernando, the proprietor of the hotel, had a furnished house in a lovely situation to let, we resolved to remain, renting the house for a month at a fixed rate per day. This rate included the ten servants—slaves—in the house, he to furnish good horses and everything except wine. The service proved good, and the cooking exquisite. This was rather expensive, but certainly a handy kind of housekeeping, taking all worry and household cares from my wife's shoulders.

There were a large number of American visitors on the island, lovers of and seekers after sunshine and warmth, which they found in abundance while swinging in hammocks under the palm or cocoanut trees, or in strolling along the white strand, with its innumerable sunny coves, while the Winter storms and blizzards were raging in the Northern States. Here we formed many pleasant acquaintances, and, throwing off much of the reserve maintained during the voyage, we mingled freely in the nice but gossipy society which winters there.

Our house was on a lovely slope in full view of the Gulf of Mexico, and in the midst of what was more like a tropical plantation than a garden.

I made the acquaintance of Gen. Torbert, our Consul, and was introduced by him to the Spanish officials, including the colonel of police. I assiduously cultivated the acquaintance of the latter, and frequently had him out to the house to dinner and lunch, and felt pretty confident that if any telegrams came about me he would certainly bring them to me at once for an explanation. Even if my presence became known, and telegraphic orders for my arrest should arrive, no speedy action would be taken and ample time given me to escape. In all the assemblies, picnics and balls I was gratified to find my wife very much sought after and admired. It was well she had a few happy days; enough misery lay not far ahead.[Pg 314]

In the mean time I had no word from my friends in London. In fact, they did not know where I was. When I bade them good-bye at Calais they told me not to inform them of my destination until I had got there, and then to do so through some relative.

Every day I watched the New York papers to see if there had been any explosion in London, but the silence of the press told me my friends were having an amazing success, and we might expect two or three months more to elapse before there would be any discovery.

We had been some weeks in Havana.

It was well into the month of February when one day, being in my hammock on the veranda, with my wife sitting near me, my servant rode up with the papers, and, handing me the New York Herald, I leisurely opened it, while chatting with my wife, but could not suppress an exclamation when my eyes fell upon an Associated Press dispatch from London, in staring headlines. They read:





"London, Feb. 14, 1873.

"An amazing fraud has been perpetrated upon the Bank of England by a young American who gave the name of Frederick Albert Warren. The loss of the bank is reported to be from three to ten millions, and it is rumored that many London banks have been victimized to enormous amounts. The greatest excitement prevails in the city, and the forgery, for such it is, is the one topic of conversation[Pg 315] on the Exchange and in the street. The police are completely at fault, although a young man named Noyes, who was Warren's clerk, has been arrested, but it is believed that he is a dupe.

"The bank has offered a reward of £5,000 for information leading to the arrest of Warren or any confederate."


I took a long walk on the beach to think over the situation. I was alarmed over the arrest of Noyes, which I knew ought not to have occurred if the proper precautions had been taken, but I concluded that at the worst his arrest only meant for him a brief incarceration.

I knew that no human power and no fear could ever make him betray us. Two things never entered my calculations at all; that is, that my right name would ever transpire, or that George and Mac would ever, by any possibility, be brought into question for the fraud.

So I came back from my walk with my plans outlined. It was to remain quietly where we were for a fortnight longer, then take the steamer to Vera Cruz, go to the City of Mexico and there buy an estate, as I had originally proposed. Then, after a few months, leave my wife there and travel incog. through Northern Mexico and Texas, meet Mac and George and afterward return to Mexico.

Not a soul in all Europe knew I was in Cuba, and so long as my name did not transpire I was as safe in Cuba as if in the desert.

Consequently I determined to go on in the same way since our landing. In the mean while I would watch the papers, and if any signs of danger appeared I could take instant measures for my safety.

As the days passed the cable dispatches appearing in the papers increased in volume, and the papers everywhere had editorials, which, as a rule, were humorous or sarcastic, poking fun at the Britishers in general and the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street in particular. Then the comic[Pg 316] papers took it up, and from week to week published cartoons intended to be funny.

One of the funniest of these came out in one of the New York comics, which appeared after the mail arrived from London with the particulars of the simplicity of the bank officials in their dealings with the mysterious F.A. Warren. This full-page cartoon represented a young dude, seated on a mule, riding down a steep declivity.

At the bottom the devil stood, holding in the fingers of his extended hands a quantity of thousand-pound bank notes tempting Warren, and John Bull stood behind the mule, belaboring it with an umbrella and driving Warren down to the devil.

I tried to keep the papers from my wife, but one day she came home from a visit with a flushed face and eager to talk, and began telling me about some daring countryman of mine "who had the audacity to rob the Bank of England," and "who ought to have a whipping." On several occasions Americans there asked my opinion as to who the party could be.

I always told them he was some clever young scamp, with plenty of money of his own, who did it for the excitement of the thing and from a wish to take a rise out of John Bull.

The next French steamer for Mexico was advertised to land at Havana for passengers and mails for Vera Cruz in a few days, and I determined to sail by her. Soon after my arrival I had formed the acquaintance of a wealthy young countryman of mine from Savannah by the name of Gray. We soon became fast friends, and I had him out to dinner nearly every day. He had a warm friend in Senor Andrez, a rich young Cuban planter, and had accepted an invitation to visit his coffee plantation in the Isle of Pines, the largest of all that immense body of islets and keys of the south coast of Cuba in the Carribean Sea, one of the loveliest tropical[Pg 317] isles imaginable, and Gray insisted upon my making one of the party.

It was proposed to spend a week on the island, and to take three days in going and coming. But if I went then I would be unable to sail on the steamer of the 25th, and would have to wait another week.

One day Gray brought Senor Andrez to dinner, along with a common friend, a Senor Alvarez. All three joined in imploring me to make one of the party, promising sport as novel as good; said the wild boars were plentiful; that we would have two days' shark fishing, turning turtles and hunting their eggs, and could vary it by a slave hunt, the jungle and some of the smaller islands being "full of runaways," and as they were by law wild beasts we might be lucky enough to shoot a few of them—shoot, not capture, as the planters knew that a runaway slave who had tasted the joys of freedom if caught was useless as a slave. So, as a matter of sport, as well as a warning to other slaves, they organized yearly hunts to bag a score or two. But so great is the depravity of the human heart that these wretches, in their desperate wickedness, objected to being shot, and at times were guilty of the enormity of shooting back again. History records how, on certain occasions, they did so with such good effect that the hunted became hunters; but these were rare events.

After long urging I consented. At the time there were only two short railways in all Cuba. We were to cross the island to the south coast, and there embark for the Isle of Pines in a boat owned by our host, which would be in waiting. The railway would take us to the little hamlet of San Felipe, some forty miles south, and there we were to take horses to the seaport town of Cajio. We were to start on Saturday, two days ahead. My wife did not relish my going, and I disliked it more than she did, but for totally different reasons. Mine were that, as a matter of prudence,[Pg 318] I ought to recall my consent and remain in Havana until steamer day, and then sail without fail to Mexico. But fearing the ridicule of my friends, I went, persuading myself that there could be no danger and that everything in London was buried in so dense a fog bank that the detectives would struggle in vain to find a way out of it or any clue to our identity.

Had I known of the clever work of the Pinkerton brothers in London and the discoveries in Paris I should have been ill at ease; but had I known that Capt. John Curtin—then a member of the Pinkerton staff in New York, but now (1895.) of San Francisco—had with perfectly marvelous intuition and rare detective skill let daylight into the whole plot, and had reported to his chief that whenever F. A. Warren was discovered he would prove to be Austin Bidwell; I say if I had known this, instead of going off on a ten days' pleasure jaunt into an isolated corner of the world I should have taken instant flight, leaving Cuba, not by the usual modes of departure, but by sailing boat, and alone, for one of the Mexican ports.

Capt. Curtin had been detailed to work on the New York end of the case, to look for clues. It seemed a hopeless task. He is a warm friend of mine now, after twenty years, and has long forgiven me for the bullet I lodged in him in 1873. A few years after arresting me in the West Indies he went to San Francisco and started a private inquiry office of his own at 328 Montgomery street. When, after twenty years' incarceration, I arrived there one lovely May in 1892, he was waiting for me at the ferry, and gave me warm greetings, and as hearty congratulations, too, as any man could give another; then introduced me to his friends everywhere, and, in fact, from the hour of my arrival until my departure, three months afterward, was never tired of doing me a service and forwarding my business, so that by his kind offices I made a great success out of what, by[Pg 319] reason of the great financial depression, might otherwise have proved a failure. But as Capt. Curtin, after effecting my arrest, having recovered from his wound, was one of the four who took me to England, I will wait until a later chapter to tell how it was he discovered my name and located me in Cuba.

On Saturday morning our party of four, accompanied by a following of black fellows and half a dozen dogs, set out by train. Before reaching San Felipe our bones had a shaking. The roadbed was execrable, the trucks of the cars were without springs, and to me it seemed as if we must leave the rails at any moment.

In Havana we regarded Don Andrez as a good fellow, but upon our arrival at San Felipe he had grown into a man of importance. When we came to Cajio he had grown into a person of distinction, and at the island he had swollen into a local Caesar. At San Felipe, a mere hamlet, horses were waiting for us and mules for the baggage, but before setting out we went to a nearby hacienda and sat down to what was simply the best lunch of which I ever partook.

The town was chiefly remarkable for the number of its fighting cocks. At the hacienda there were dozens, each in its separate compartment—regarded the same as horses and game dogs are in England and America—and half the black boys we met were carrying game birds.

At last, starting for Cajio, the road soon degenerated into a mere track, which led through some barren hills with scanty growths of a species of oak without underbrush, and here and there a sprinkling of cacti, and in the lower reaches between the hills grew dense green walls of Spanish bayonet.

We were crossing Cuba at its narrowest part, and from San Felipe to Cajio was only some thirty miles. After fifteen miles we came into the fertile coast belt and passed a number of deserted sugar plantations where tropic vegetation was trying to cover up the work of ruin wrought by[Pg 320] man. Residences and sugar houses destroyed by fire were very much in evidence. To my surprise I learned that bodies of insurgents—who then held and had held for six years nearly the entire eastern province of Santiago de Cuba and Puerto Principe, and part of the extreme western province of Pinar del Rio—had only a few weeks before landed by night at the port La Playa de Batabano, fifteen miles away, and with the cry of "Free Cuba and death to the Spaniard!" had blotted out the town and then marched into the heart of the country, burning houses, killing the whites and calling upon the slaves to join them in freeing Cuba. Many did, and terrible were their excesses, and terribly did they pay for these. The Spanish soldiers and loyal Cuban volunteers closed in upon them, and at the little hamlet of San Marcos, where we halted and examined the too evident signs of the battle and massacre that followed, they made their last stand, but were no match for their well-armed and disciplined foes. After a desperate struggle they were overpowered, and every surviving soul was butchered by the infuriated soldiers. It was better so. Had they been spared it would have only been for the moment, for by official decree of the Captain-General of Cuba, indorsed by the Madrid Government, every inhabitant within the insurrectionary line, without regard to age or sex, was doomed to death without form of trial.

At San Marcos we made a halt to view the scene of the fight and examined the heaps of ashes where the fires were kindled which consumed the bodies of the slain. Two or three were my countrymen. At the time it was quite the thing for venturesome Americans to go and join the rebels and help the fight for "Cuba libre." For some years every few days notices would appear in the press about some Americans having been shot for joining or attempting to join the rebels. This went on until the affair of the steamer Virginus, when her crew and passengers, to the number of[Pg 321] 150, were shot, the steamer having been captured close to the shore and about to land men and guns. Then our Government awoke and forbade Spanish officials to shoot Americans without trial.

As I stood there curiously examining the marks of the conflict, or examining some part of an unconsumed bone, I little thought that in a very few days I myself would be a fugitive, creeping through jungles and over tropic plains, seeking to join the comrades of the men on whose ashes I was then treading, to aid their fight for free Cuba.

Perhaps my subsequent fate made me ponder over my happy life in Cuba, and compare the horrible misery of my prison life, with its hardships and degrading detail, with the brightness of those days, when love, obedience, wealth and luxury were mine.

But in those long years, when in their gloom and depression I was fighting to keep off insanity by ignoring the dreadful present and dwelling on the past, no incident of all my life on the island haunted me more than this at San Marcos. Every detail was photographed on my brain, and as I recalled that blackened spot strewn with ashes soddened by tropical rains, soon to be all the greener for the fertilizing tragedy, many a thousand times I said, "Would to God my ashes were mingled with the dead there."

Soon after leaving San Marcos, striking into the jungle, the road became so narrow that we had to go single file. I found the silence of the tropical forest impressive, and think it had its effect on us all—even the negroes and dogs moved on, making no sound. Although novel scenes, yet I was glad when 5 o'clock came and we emerged from the jungle on to the coast road. It was sandy, but well traveled. Another mile and we were in Cajio, and the Caribbean, blue and lovely as a dream, lay spread before us, with hundreds of palm crowned islets and coral bays, all with sandy beaches of dazzling whiteness.[Pg 322]

Senor Andrez had a house here, and as they had notice of our coming everything was prepared for our reception. Entering the house, we were served with black coffee and thin rice cakes fried. Gray and I wanted a swim before supper in the waters, which looked very tempting, but it would have been a breach of etiquette to indulge then—and, by the way, there is a strange repugnance to water inherent in the Spanish nature, there being no bathhouses in Spain, they say, and I believe it. Gray and I, during the next few days, were in and out of the water at all hours, but could never persuade any one else to try the experiment of a swim in the warm water of the Caribbean. At the house, or when out in boats, we frequently invited some of the company to join us in a plunge, but none ever accepted the invitation. We are told on good authority that "our virtues depend on the interpretation of the times," and one might add "on the interpretation of our nation." The Anglo-Saxon loves soap and water and plenty of it; the Spaniard does not. But this contrast may mean nothing in our favor; there may be a reason for it, racial probably, but possibly climatic.

Supper came, and it was a treat. Gray and I noted that in suitability of material to the purpose intended, and in cookery, it excelled anything in our experience. Cafe Riche and Tortoni's were not in it. We were curious to see the cook. She was ordered in for our inspection, a sober, sad-faced negress, angular, bony, and, strangely enough, knew only a few words of Spanish, her language being some African dialect, Africa being her natal place, as it, indeed, was of most of the slaves.

[Pg 323]

What views of life, what views of the Christian world most of these slaves must have! Torn from their homes, leaving their slaughtered family on the ashes of their homes, and carried off to toil and wear out the only life nature will ever give them—for what? To toil amid hunger and abuse[Pg 324] too foul to name in order that the Christian robber may have gold to gratify his desire.


She was evidently alarmed over the summons—it might mean anything—she was unused to the coin of compliment; but we gave it freely, however, and the next morning each of us did better, and when departing placed a sovereign in her hand and made Senor Andrez promise to be good to her.

Our host grew his own tobacco and made his own cigars. These were famous even in Havana, and Gray and I enjoyed them that evening. A number of grass-woven hammocks were swung under a roof in front of the house. It was delightful lying there watching the phosphorescent waves rippling or breaking on the beach under the light of a full moon and listening to the chatter or the songs of the black fellows who swarmed around while smoking cigars worth the smoking. The negro children, shrill-voiced and loud, were very much in evidence.

The air was delightful, and following the custom of the country we slept in the hammocks without undressing.

[Pg 325]

The next morning, under a sunrise sky, which in its glowing colors looked like the New Jerusalem, Gray and I made a break for the glorious water that rippled on the beach. What a swim we had! We were the only humans visible. All other unfeathered bipeds were asleep, and we varied our bath by wandering around the beach in a state of nature, viewing things generally, but a turtle pond held us fascinated. Stakes had been driven down inclosing a space, and upward of twenty great turtles were prisoners, waiting apparently with the greatest of patience to be devoured—that being, so far as I can see, the ultimate destination of all life—that huge procession to the stomach. The rocks tell us that it began a good while ago, and it has kept up with crowded ranks ever since. When the missionary landing in Fiji anxiously inquired of the boss cannibal gentleman[Pg 326] where his predecessor might be sojourning, he was promptly informed that he had "gone into the interior." To "go into the interior" is the decree fate writes in her book of doom and copies on the birth certificate of all the breathers of the world.

SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN, View from Rio de Janeiro. SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN, View from Rio de Janeiro.

[Pg 327]



I was very fortunate in my servant Nunn, he being devoted to me, a resolute fellow as well, and thoroughly trustworthy. He felt very badly over my leaving him behind in Havana. Nor would I have done so under ordinary circumstances.

The day before leaving on the trip, taking him aside, but not wishing to actually disclose anything, I talked in a very impressive, grave way, instructing him to leave Havana secretly after telling his mistress that I had ordered him to go to Matanzas, a city forty miles east by rail. He was to bring all the New York papers, meet me at Cajio and not let a soul know his destination, but be there awaiting my arrival from the Isle of Pines the following Sunday week. If in the mean time anything unusual, no matter what, happened, then he was instantly to depart for Cajio, there hire a boat and crew and come after me, not to mind expense and not to lose a moment's time. Nunn was one of those wise men who know how to obey orders without self-questionings as to the whys and wherefores.

I had secured gun licenses from the authorities, and, giving them to Nunn, ordered him to bring a breech-loader and a brace of revolvers with him.

During my stay in the Isle of Pines I would be out of reach of the outside world. If on meeting Nunn I found from the papers he brought that there was any sign of danger[Pg 328] I would not return to Havana, but would secure a boat, provision it, set sail alone for some port in Central America and send my servant back after my wife.

At 10 o'clock our party set out in an open-decked cargo boat from Cajio for San Jose, seventy miles across the water and on the west coast of the island. San Jose was one of the half-dozen plantations belonging to our host, the chief product being coffee, and on this one there were 130 slaves.

We had a motley cargo. Twenty black fellows, dogs, turtles, fighting cocks, two trained pigs, a good-sized snake that answered to the name of Jacko and had the run of the ship. Ship, men, women and young darkies, trained pigs and everything except we three guests were the absolute property of our host.

We were passing through the gate of the Gulf of Matamano. The bottom was so white and the water so clear that we could see distinctly all the wondrous marine life beneath. Ashore in the thick forests all seemed to be dead, but here in the water and beneath the surface all was teeming with life. Flocks of sea fowl were in the air or whitened the rocks which everywhere rose above the waters, and innumerable little islets rested like lovely pictures in the blue setting of the sea.

At one of the loveliest, called Cayos de Tana, with a wide fringe of white beach, we landed; that is, our boat ran toward it until the keel stuck in the sand, when a dozen black fellows sprang over into the water, and, taking us white trash on their shoulders, carried us ashore. Once there we set out to find turtle eggs, and soon found heaps of sand which, when scraped away, revealed the eggs in dozens. We took away about a bushel, but they had a rancid flavor, so Gray and I backed out of our promise to eat them, as did Senors Andrez and Mondago.

The man in charge of the boat was a skillful sailor, and,[Pg 329] having a fine breeze, we rushed through the water at a great rate. At last, after a day of novel enjoyment, just as the short twilight of the tropics was fading out, we ran alongside of the little pier of San Jose and were welcomed with loud shouts and gun shots from about a hundred gaudily attired slaves, who were excited and seemingly glad over the return of their master, this being Sunday and a holiday.

Did any of my readers ever think what the rest of Sunday is to the toilers of the earth? If Christ left no other legacy to the Christian world but that happy day of rest, then must we still bless and praise him as the Mighty Benefactor of the world, the Saviour and glorious hero of the workingman. For nineteen years I toiled, exposed to every storm that blew, and was sustained through all the six days' misery by the blessed knowledge that Sunday, with its rest, was never far off. And when the Sunday morning dawned and the happy consciousness filled my mind that for one day at least I was free from toil, my heart filled with gratitude to the Galilean carpenter, who, by his gracious deeds and genius, had so impressed the hearts of men that for his sake they had taken the seventh day of the Hebrew and bequeathed it as a day of rest to all the toiling generations of the sons of men. The Roman Empire, which overshadowed the world and held the nations in subjection, knew no day of rest, and to-day the toiling millions of China never wake to say: "This is a day of rest on which I can turn my thoughts to other things than toil."

I must not here enter into details of that week of rare sport and keen enjoyment in the Isle of Pines. We went shark fishing by day and tipping turtles in the moonlight by night, when they came ashore to deposit their eggs in the sand. One never-ending source of enjoyment to the Cubans was the battles of the fighting cocks. I had got over some of my repugnance to the sport, and enjoyed it almost as well[Pg 330] as the cocks themselves. How soon one learns to do in Rome as do the Romans!

The week had come to an end, and, although importuned by my host to delay my departure, my anxiety as to the state of affairs in the outside world was too great to postpone my return to the mainland. So, after a rousing send-off from every one on the plantation, I departed. Just as the sun was flinging its dyes over the clouds and waters, one week from the Sunday of my arrival at San Jose, I was sailing into the little bay of Cajio. Gray was to remain another week, and I was returning in a small sloop manned by two of Senor Andrez's men. I found Nunn waiting for me on the beach. He handed me a letter from my wife and said everything was well at home. Opening the letter I found an earnest appeal to return at once. Going to the hacienda near by I took the bundle of New York and London papers Nunn had brought. I went to my room, and, opening the Herald I was amazed to see the storm over the Bank of England business and the great desire to discover the mysterious Warren.

I felt that the time had come when it would no longer be prudent for me to live under my right name. It was an easy matter to invent a name and live under it, and I determined to do so, for a time at least, until after I saw how matters developed. But I could not do this in Havana, for in case of using an alias it would be necessary to take my wife into my confidence. She was sure to discover the matter sooner or later, and it was better for her to learn the miserable truth from my own lips than to leave the discovery to come to her through the public press.

In Mexico I should really have nothing to fear, even if it was known I was there. So, after some cogitation, I determined to return to Havana, say good-bye to all our friends and embark as soon as possible for Vera Cruz. I was impatient to set off at once, but it was both dangerous and[Pg 331] difficult work to go through the jungle by night, so telling Nunn to be ready to start at sunrise I went to bed.

At dawn we set out and did not halt until we reached San Marcos, with its gloomy memorial of human savagery. After an hour's halt we set out and arrived at San Felipe in time to catch the train to Havana. On arriving there at dusk I sent my servant to inform his mistress of my safe arrival while I called on Don Fernando at the hotel. His frank and hearty reception told me at once that he had heard nothing, and he knows pretty well everything going on in the town. From the hotel I drove to the police barracks and called on the colonel of police, with the same result, which satisfied me beyond all doubt that however the storm blew in London or New York there was not a single cloud on the horizon in Havana. But it was soon to blow a hurricane. I had a very happy meeting with my wife, and found her the picture of health and happiness.

As I looked in her face, beaming with confidence and faith, I realized how hard it would be to tell her the terrible truth, and what a shock it would be to her when she discovered the husband she believed the soul of honor stood in danger of a prison. Yet I was tolerably certain she would forgive me upon my promise never to do wrong again.

She had sent out invitations to dinner for Thursday to twenty friends. There was then a steamer in the harbor advertised to sail in two days for Mexico, and I had thought of going by her. Had we, this book would never have been written.

As invitations were out for Thursday, I concluded to wait for Saturday's steamer, but determined to sail on that day without fail.

Under our system of housekeeping a dinner party was a simple thing. We merely had to notify our landlord how many guests we expected and the thing was done, so far as we were concerned. Don Fernando would send his hotel[Pg 332] steward down to the house with reinforcements of cooks and waiters, and my wife had simply to usher the guests into the dining room and out again. Don Fernando's supernumeraries did the rest. On the day of our dinner I was strongly tempted to give some hint to my wife that I was in some way entangled in a web, but as she was so happy I could not do it, but resolved to wait until we were settled in Mexico, and then to tell her a little, but not all the truth.

My wife, all unconscious of the frightful calamity impending, entered upon the last half day of happiness she was to know for many long years. The same statement would be true of myself. As the guests were arriving I was in a happy vein, and in the same happy frame of mind sat down to dinner. Twenty happy mortals, but not one divined the termination of that dinner party, least of all the proud and happy hostess. It was a great success, and at 8 o'clock was drawing to a close. The long windows were open, while the warm breeze from the nearby gulf was pouring through the room. The clock had just chimed the quarter when there came a sudden rush of feet over the veranda and through the hall. All eyes were fixed on the open door leading to the hall, when an eager, resolute-faced man, evidently an American, stepped with a firm pace into the room, followed by a dozen civilians and soldiers. With a quick glance over the company his eyes rested on me, and coming direct to my chair, while my guests gazed in amazement, he bowed and said in a low voice: "Mr. Bidwell, I am sorry to disturb your dinner party or to annoy you in any way, but I am forced to tell you I have a warrant in my pocket for your arrest upon a charge of forgery upon the Bank of England. The warrant is signed by the Captain-General of Cuba, everything is in due form, and you are my prisoner. I am William Pinkerton."


Every man who enters the arena and joins in the struggle of life has more or fewer takedowns in his history. But[Pg 333] my wish is that between this hour and my last I may have no more takedowns so near the freezing point as this was. I shall never forget the look on my wife's face. First she gazed at the intruders with indignation, then turned to me with a look of eager expectation, as much as to say: "Wait till my husband raises his arm and you will all go down." But instead of seeing me rise, indignant and angry, driving the intruders out, she saw me talking quite calmly to Curtin. Then her face grew deadly white. None of the guests heard Pinkerton's words, but, as will be easily imagined, there was a painful silence, which I broke by standing up and saying that there was some unhappy mistake, that I was arrested upon the charge of furnishing arms to the insurrectionists in the eastern provinces. I requested my friends to withdraw at once, and everything would be explained on the morrow.


There were five soldiers present, Mr. Crawford, the English Consul-General, Pinkerton and Captain John Curtin, my servant Nunn being in custody of the latter. It was a strange and unhappy scene, and every one felt extremely awkward and ill at ease, especially the writer. In the rear of the dining room was a large sitting room, where I kept my valuables in trunks and did my writing. I turned to Mr. P., and said: "Will you come in the other room?" "Certainly," he replied, without the slightest hesitation. The room was brilliantly lighted. Motioning him to a seat, I said:

"Will you have a glass of wine?"

"Yes, but I never drink anything but Cliquot," replied Mr. Pinkerton, pleasantly.

A servant brought in a bottle and glasses, and I turned the conversation upon the subject of money. The captain, being a stranger to me, guided by former experience with Irving & Co. I fancied he might be bribed. Sometimes the police are susceptible to this form of temptation, and I[Pg 334] was at bay and desperate. I intended to offer him a fortune for a bribe. If he refused to take it I resolved to shoot him and dash out of the window, for at my elbow was an open drawer, with a loaded revolver ready at my hand.

I said: "You know the power and value of money?"

"Yes, and I need and want plenty of it."

Pointing to a trunk I said: "I have a fortune there. Sit where you are ten minutes, give no alarm, and I will give you $50,000."

Then a scene ensued that if put upon the stage would be deemed farfetched, if not incredible. When I said this the captain never moved a muscle, but looked at me seriously, earnestly, then dropped his eyes to the bottle. As he did so I placed my hand on the revolver. He took the bottle up, filled his glass, and, looking steadily at me, drank it off, and, replacing the glass on the stand, coolly remarked:

"Why, sir, that is $5,000 a minute!"

"Yes, and good pay, too," I said.

"But I won't have it!" he interjected, and sprang to his feet as he saw me make a movement; but I was too quick for him.

I fired point-blank, and down he went as if felled by lightning.

I rushed to the window, when the Venetians were torn violently down, and one of Curtin's subordinates, revolver in hand, sprang from the outer darkness through the window into the room, and the others came with the soldiers. My wife, too, white faced, rushed in from the dining room. A lively struggle followed, in which Curtin, having risen from the floor, joined. The struggle was soon over, leaving me a prisoner under close guard.

My bullet had struck the captain, breaking a rib and glancing off, but he was game, and when we shortly after[Pg 335] departed for the city he rode with me in the same carriage. I tried to soothe my wife's fears, but it was attempting the impossible, so we drove away to the city in three carriages, Mr. P. assuring my wife that I would sleep at the hotel.

By the time we arrived the news had spread among the American colony, and as the hotel was a sort of American club delegations of my acquaintances speedily arrived. All were loud in the denunciation of the outrage. Of course, they saw things on the surface only. Soon our Consul-General Torbet arrived, and assured me he would see that I should be treated with every consideration until such time as the unfortunate mistake was corrected.

That night I slept at the hotel with Curtin and his two companions for roommates. Mr. P. took his wound and close call very good naturedly, and said he did not blame me at all, but felt taken down to think I had got the drop on him. Early the next morning my friend, the chief of police, Col. Moreno de Vascos, called on me, indignant and angry that I should suffer such discourtesy. He was particularly indignant over the insult to himself in not being consulted, so that he could have sent me a note to call on him and explain. Then he turned to Pinkerton and told him to liberate me, as he would be responsible for me whenever wanted. But the captain knew what he was about, and knew his business too well and the backing he had to pay any attention to Col. Vascos. I claimed the protection of our Consul, but Torbet regretfully told me that on account of the orders Pinkerton bore from the State Department at Washington he was forced to consent to my detention, but he would not permit me to be kept in the ordinary prison. So about 12 o'clock next day I was transferred to the police barracks, and put into the lieutenant of police's room and a guard of soldiers placed over me.[Pg 336]

The New York Herald of the next day contained the following:

(Editorial, New York Herald, Feb. 26, 1873.)


"The special telegraphic advices which we publish to-day in reference to the arrest and imprisonment at Havana of Bidwell, one of the parties accused of the recent forgeries on the Bank of England, are very interesting, touching the jurisdiction of the Island authorities in this matter. It appears that Bidwell was arrested at the request of the British Government on the supposition that he was a British subject; but it is represented that he is a citizen of the United States of America, and that his arrest in Cuba is not justified by any extradition treaty with England, nor by any authority, except that of the Captain-General, whose will over the Island is the supreme law. If it can be established that Bidwell is a citizen of the United States his case certainly calls for the intervention of the Secretary of State. The prisoner, it seems, desires a transfer to New York, which is perfectly natural, but we suspect that the international difficulties suggested touching his detention in Cuba will not materially improve his chances of escape. Such proceedings could be carried out in no other country than Cuba, where the Captain-General does not always act in accordance with law. Distinguished lawyers and judges of that city, in conversation with the Herald correspondent, denounced the act as being utterly illegal and without precedent."

(Cable dispatch to the London Times, March 3, 1873.)

"Havana, Cuba, March 2, 1873.

"Great efforts are being made by the lawyers and prominent citizens here to obtain the release of Bidwell, supposed to be Warren. To-morrow the American Consul will demand his release on the ground that he is an American citizen. The British Consul-General, E. H. Crawford, is doing everything in his power to counteract these efforts. There is great excitement here over Bidwell's arrest and the popular sympathy is with him."[Pg 337]

(By cable from Havana to New York Herald, March 31, 1873.)

"Bidwell, the alleged Bank of England forger, whose arrest caused so much excitement here, escaped by jumping from the second story balcony of the police barracks late last night in the presence of his guards. He was partly dressed at the time. Bidwell and his wife are greatly liked here, and no doubt his Havana friends, seeing the impossibility of counteracting by legal means the efforts of the British Consul to secure his extradition, planned the affair.

"It is the general opinion that John Bull has seen the last of Bidwell, there being dozens of planters in the district ready and willing to shelter him, which they can do effectually."


[Pg 338]



So at last justice had laid hold of me, but I thought it a very shaky hold—so much so that I was confident that I could break away from her, so that she could never weigh me in her balance.

I will not enter into the details of events in Havana for the next few days—briefly told, I was nominally a prisoner; actually so, as regards leaving the barracks. The commander, Col. Vascos, was a warm friend, and, living in the barrack, he wanted me to dine at his table, but as I was already planning an escape, I deemed it best not to accept.

My wife spent many hours with me daily. All my meals were brought from the hotel. Nunn was kept a prisoner for two days, then liberated. I took him into my confidence, telling him I was going to escape, and directed him to make all outside arrangements for that event, and he was greatly rejoiced when I told him he should accompany me in my flight.

Pinkerton, was awake to the danger of losing his man, and had lodged a written protest with the English and American Consuls against my being confined in the police barracks.

The only result was that Col. Vascos issued an order to keep him and his men out of the barracks.

I had a great many visitors, including officers of the army and navy, and all were loud in protestation and indignant[Pg 339] at my arrest. None seemed to care whether I was guilty or not, but all demanded my liberation, as there was no extradition treaty and no law to surrender me. Even my lawyer, the most influential in Cuba, assured me there was not the slightest danger of my surrender, but I knew that the bankers Rothschild would ask Spain to give me up, and to an impecunious Government like that of Spain the word of a Rothschild was more potent than that of a king.

Then I knew such bright men as William A. Pinkerton (who had arrived) and his lieutenant, Capt. John Curtin, would never have made the mistake of coming to Cuba without full powers; therefore, feeling confident that my surrender would be only a question of time I resolved to escape.

At my request Col. Vascos had sent a guard of soldiers to my house and brought to the barracks two of my trunks. I had $80,000 in cash and bonds, besides many valuables as well, in them. I gave my wife $20,000 and my servant $1,000 in gold and $5,000 in Spanish bank notes. Curtin had in vain tried to seize my luggage, but the Spanish law stood in his way.

All this time the rebellion in the island was in full blast, the insurgents—consisting of native Cubans, mulattoes and negroes (ex-slaves)—held possession of the greater part of the Eastern provinces—that is, the whole eastern end of the island, and the western end, called Pinar del Rio. They had kept the flame of rebellion alive for six years and were still making a desperate and fairly successful fight to maintain themselves. The sympathies of the American people were with them, and they looked to our country for arms and recruits. The former were smuggled into the island as opportunity offered by a Cuban committee in New York. Not many, but yet some, recruits went, for it was death to be caught going or returning, and few ever returned. The civil conflict was murderous, neither side giving quarter. The spirit of adventure was strong upon me, and I resolved,[Pg 340] if I escaped, to make my way to the Western Province and join the insurgents for a year, then make my escape by crossing the narrow body of water between Cape San Antonio and the mainland of Central America.

Once among the rebels all pursuit of me was at an end, as army after army had been sent from Spain to crush the rebellion, and each had in turn melted away before the valor of the rebels or the deadly climate.

Nunn volunteered to accompany me, and I gave him $2,000 to send to his wife in Paris, that his mind might be easy on that score. No one knew my real destination save Nunn and my wife. It was hard to obtain her consent, but at last it was given. I arranged with her that she was to leave Havana as soon as she knew I was off, cross to Key West, wait one month there, and, if she then heard nothing of me, she was to telegraph my sister to meet her in New York, take the steamer to that city and live with her until I rejoined her.

Among other things, Nunn, by my orders, procured good maps of the country. A Spanish gentleman, a warm friend, but whose name I will not mention, was my counselor in the plot. He advised me to go to the Isle of Pines, as Senor Andrez had promised to keep me safely from all pursuit. I let my friends think that was my destination. I proposed as when on my visit to embark from Cajio, but to take a westward course along the coast, and when well off Pinar del Rio and night fell to put about and steer to shore under cover of the darkness. Once ashore, to get as far inland as possible before dawn. Then to keep a lookout for any body of rebels and join them as a volunteer in the cause of "free Cuba." We were sure of a welcome, particularly as we would come well armed.

[Pg 341]
[Pg 342]


I had made it a practice to give the sentinels in the police barracks a bottle of brandy every day and a box of cigars every second day during my stay, besides what were to them[Pg 343] valuable presents, so I was highly popular in the barracks. We had fixed on the night of March 20 for the venture.

My room was in the second story of the barracks, but I was allowed to go freely through all the rooms on that floor, followed more or less by a guard. None of the windows opened on the street. There was a room leading to an open window, but the door was kept locked. It was arranged to have it unlocked with the key on the inside at 10 o'clock that night. I was to walk about as usual, and, when the hour came suddenly step through the door, lock it behind me and then bolt through the window into the street. Nunn and my friend were to await me outside of the window with orders to shoot any man (not a native) who attempted to stop me, as I feared Curtin or his men might be on guard in the street, and once in the street I did not propose to go back again alive.

The guns and two extra revolvers had been made into a bundle and left at the station. At a nearby room were disguises for Nunn and myself, consisting simply of cloaks and whiskers. We intended to board the 10:30 train going South, and once well out of the station would dispense with all disguise but the Spanish cloak each of us wore.

The day for the venture came. I had previously instructed my wife to send word she was indisposed, and to remain at the hotel. She had very bravely offered to be on hand and with me up to the moment I disappeared through the door, but fearing that in the excitement some of the soldiers might say or do something insulting, I forbade her being on the scene. I had had an unusually large number of visitors during the day. I felt but little anxiety over the result, save only on the side of Pinkerton. I had a sort of suspicion or presentment that, once fairly outside of the barracks, I would run against him. The day passed rapidly away, and 6 o'clock came, and all the civil officials, with the horde of hangers-on, departed, leaving the usual[Pg 344] evening solitude in the barracks. Soon Nunn came with my supper and cautiously produced a revolver and belt. I strapped the belt around me under my vest, placing the revolver under a pile of clothing. Nunn reported everything all right. He had seen Curtin that day as usual around the hotel and apparently unsuspicious of anything unusual going on.

The window I was to jump out of opened on the public street, and the street would be jammed full of people at the hour I was going. Of course there were a good many chances of failure, chiefly so because all the police from top to bottom knew me by sight, and if one of them happened to be one of the half hundred witnesses of my jump he might have wit enough to seize me.

Nunn and my friend were to be under the window ready to act according to circumstances. Above all, to be ready to seize hold of any one who manifested any intention to detain me. Nunn was full of courage and hope. At 7 o'clock he went away, not to see me again until we met outside the barracks. I called the guard and three or four idle soldiers into my room and served them out liberal doses of brandy. Unluckily enough, however, the one on duty would drink but lightly. Soon after 8 Consul-General Torbet came in to smoke a cigar and have a chat. He remained until nearly 10, and then departed. Then I felt the hour had indeed come. I thrust the revolver inside my shirt, and rolled up a cap and put it in the same place. Then calling the sentry, I gave him a drink and a cigar, and stepping out into the hall, I began my usual march around through the upper rooms of the barracks. I was to go out of the window at precisely 10. It wanted ten minutes of that time. It was a long ten minutes to me, but I marched around puffing my cigar unconcernedly, with an eye on the door I was to slip through. At the hour I had my watch in my hand, and was in the room farthest from the door of exit into the room[Pg 345] opening on the street. I walked swiftly through the two intervening rooms and so was for a brief four or five seconds out of sight of the slow following sentinel. I reached the door, opened it, stepped through and instantly locked it. In a moment I was through the open window into the little iron balcony outside. One swift glance showed me the street thronged with people, but hesitation meant failure and death. I climbed lightly over the railing and hung suspended for an instant from the bottom; the crowd below made a circle from under, and I dropped easily to the ground, bareheaded, of course. Nunn was there, and instantly clapped a large straw hat on my head. The strange incident did not seem to attract the least notice, for in a moment we were lost in the crowd. I had my hand on my revolver, and had so strong a belief I should every second be confronted by Curtin that I was strangely surprised when I saw no sign of the gentleman. In less time than it takes to tell it, I was down into an open hallway and then into a room. I and Nunn, who were smooth-faced, were given bushy whiskers and a cloak. In the mean time, I paid an agent in waiting $10,000 in French and Spanish notes, then we hurried out of the rear into a cab and were driven to the station, arriving just in time to catch the 10:30 train.

The cab ride and train ride that night were happy rides. I had been a captive and now was free. The sights and sounds all around me took on a deeper purpose and a more significant meaning than they had ever borne before.

I had for a few brief days been a captive, shut out from nature's sights and sounds, and that brief deprivation awoke in me a feeling of appreciation for the feast that is everywhere around us spread with a lavish hand. My mind was in a tumult of delight, and I almost forgot I was a fugitive; fortunately the Spaniard is not a suspicious animal, and no notice was taken of us; and so we bumped slowly on southward through the tropic night.[Pg 346]

Seven o'clock on the morning of the 11th found us at Guisa, a small station on the railroad about ninety miles from Havana and west from Cajio some twenty miles. Our friend here procured us horses, and, bidding him good-bye, Nunn and I started on our ride to Cajio. We were both greatly elated over the success of our adventure. Our friends had procured for us police passports and gun permits under the names of Parish and Ellis.

I had a chronometer, several valuable diamonds, a revolver and gun. Nunn carried a canvas bag containing, among other things, 250 capital cigars, tobacco, matches and 300 cartridges. Then we had good maps of the island and current charts of the Gulf of Mantabano, with its hundreds of rocky inlets, spreading everywhere along the south coast. But, armed as we were, it would never do to be picked up by any Spanish boat or patrol anywhere near the rebel border. It probably meant death if we were captured.

I think on the whole it would have been the wiser plan to have gone to Senor Andrez's plantation at San Jose. The fear in that case was that if an order arrived from Madrid to deliver me up I might not be safe even in the Isle of Pines. At Cajio I resolved to lose myself so far as the Spanish authorities were concerned, and only travel by night. If we remained on land this would be necessary, as soldiers were everywhere and our police passports would not hold good if we were found traveling in the direction of the rebel lines.

I proposed going by sea, and then all our voyaging would necessarily be by night, for there were Spanish gunboats everywhere patrolling around the shores, but there were innumerable small inlets where we could draw up our boat, lay perdu during the day and spy out the next island to sail to at night.


We arrived in due time at Cajio, and here our passports were demanded by a little yellow monkey of a sergeant. I[Pg 347] did not quite like having passports scrutinized and determined to try and avoid any more of it.

We found no boat at Cajio, nor could we buy, or, if we bought, could not manage one alone. The only thing we could do was to charter one with a crew of four men. During my stay in Cuba I had been studying Spanish. I had become a tolerably proficient speaker, so I had no great difficulty in associating with the natives.

I found my idea of joining the rebels by sea impracticable, and as to go by land was perilous in the extreme, I made up my mind to send Nunn back to Havana and to make the venture alone. I did not care to chance his life, and I also felt that it was safer for one than for two.

Forty miles away was the last fortified post on the Rio Choerra, at the small town of Voronjo. Once across that small stream I would be on neutral ground, liable at any time to fall in with a rebel band.

Nunn was very plucky and most devoted. He by no means wanted to go back, but at last consented.

I determined to chance traveling on the beach by night. So at 12 o'clock the day after our arrival at Cajio we mounted our horses and announced that we were returning to Havana. Two miles away, at the small hamlet of Zoringa, we put our horses out and struck for the beach about four miles west of Cajio. Then we went a few yards into the jungle and sat down for our last talk and to wait for the darkness. We were no longer master and servant, but friends. The hours went slowly by; we did not say much, but felt strongly. We had good cigars and smoked almost incessantly.

I told him to see Curtin, to give him my regards and laugh at him in a nice way, and to tell my wife that I would limit my stay with the rebels to a year. I told Nunn to send for his wife to join him in New York, and my wife would take her into service so that they could be together.[Pg 348]

I did not dare to keep the gun we had, but retained the revolvers in a belt around my waist. They were rather old-fashioned, and, as the sequel proved, the ammunition was not waterproof or else was defective. I had two bottles of water, a hundred cigars in my pocket, 300 cartridges, four pounds of dried beef and a loaf of bread. I wore a soft hat and had on a fine pair of English walking boots, an important article for the tramp ahead of me. I wore my chronometer tied by a stout string. I sent my wife all my valuables save three diamond studs, $700 in gold and $5,000 in notes, mostly Spanish bank notes, and I kept $10,000 in bonds.

Nunn cut me a stout ironwood cudgel as a handy weapon.

At last the night came, and still we waited, loath to say good-bye. We had come out of the jungle and were sitting in the still warm sand talking in low tones and watching the stars. At last when my watch told me it was 10 we rose, and, shaking hands warmly, parted, he going east to Cajio, I west toward Pinar del Rio and the rebel camps.

Of course, my great danger lay in meeting soldiers who would stop me. Indeed any one who met a stranger and a foreigner heading west would either stop him or give an alarm, and if once arrested (passports so near the enemy's camp were useless) it meant death, or what was quite as bad, incarceration in a filthy prison until my case was reported on to the Captain-General in Havana. That, of course, meant my return to Havana and possibly to England.

Everything is very primitive in Cuba. The common people—that is, the whites and free people—live in mere huts or cabins, and sleep in hammocks under roofs open on two sides. All go to bed soon after sunset, so there was no danger in night traveling, save only in meeting the sentries or running on some detached post of soldiers.

In case of meeting these, I had resolved to plunge into the tropical jungle which came close down to the beach.

Neither night traveling nor the situation had any terrors[Pg 349] for me. I felt my only danger lay in stumbling upon some outpost or sentry who might perceive me before I saw him and so cover me with his rifle before challenging, but I knew from observation since my arrival in Cuba that the discipline among the Spanish soldiers was very slack, and I had a pretty firm belief that isolated sentries usually took a nap while waiting the relief.

After leaving Nunn I started out at a quick pace, alert and confident. The moon had gone down, but the Caribbean Sea was lovely in the starlight, and between watching the phosphorescent ripples of the waters and listening to the night noises of the jungle I soon discovered I was enjoying my jaunt and found myself anticipating the pleasure of the free, open life ahead of me when once beyond the Spanish outposts and a soldier of fortune. I thought what a story of adventure I would have to relate when a year or two later I rejoined my wife and friends, and I felt that a good record won in a fight for "free Cuba" would make men willing to forget my past.

I found my westward march frequently interrupted by spooks—some rock, stump or bush would, to my suspicious eye, take on the human form until I thought it was a sentry on guard and meant danger. Once or twice I sought the shelter of the jungle and spent a long time watching for some sign of movement. On one occasion I painfully made a circuit of nearly a mile to pass a projecting mass of bushes in the belief that there were men behind it. The air was balmy as on a June night at home. I trudged along with my two bottles of water slung across my shoulder tied to a cord, and between them and my revolvers and cartridges I was pretty well loaded down.

Nowhere during the night did I come across any fresh water, but was fated to have a water adventure before daylight which I did not relish. Soon after midnight I sat down on the sand well in the shadow of some palmetto trees and[Pg 350] had a very enjoyable lunch of bread and dried beef, washed down by water from my bottle; then lighting a cigar and reclining at full length on the dry sand I passed a pleasant half hour enjoying the fine Havana. I looked forward to the hours of daylight to be spent reclining at ease in the jungle with many anticipations of pleasure. I had a supply of fine cigars, plenty to think about, and the consciousness of having overcome serious difficulties gave me a feeling of elation—then my surroundings were so novel and I was fond of outdoor life.

At 4 o'clock the sky put on a ragged edge of gray in the east, and feeling pretty well satisfied with my progress I began to think of selecting a retreat for the hours of daylight. Suddenly I found myself upon what was evidently the neck of a swamp extending far and wide into the land. I had discovered during the night that there was a well-traveled road skirting and following the beach at a distance of a few hundred yards, but there was danger of my meeting some one there, so I stuck to the beach.

In the middle of the swamp was a clear space of water with marshy banks. As it was nearly daylight, and being in no hurry, my presence in the country unknown, and in no immediate danger, I determined to halt and not tackle the swamp until nightfall again. Then, if seen by any one, I would have some hours of darkness to make myself scarce in the neighborhood.

Turning to follow the edge of the swamp I saw before me on a little lower level than where I stood in the sand what appeared a plot of vivid green grass, and without any precaution stupidly stepped with my full weight upon it, and instantly found myself floundering in four feet of mud and water. I had fallen, and getting back on the solid ground I found myself wet to the shoulders, my legs covered with mud and my pistols, bread, etc., soaking with salt water. At once I ran across the beach and sat down in the warm water[Pg 351] of the sea, washing off the mud as well as possible. Then I made my way into the jungle, crossing the road, and going into the thicket a short distance sat down waiting for daylight, purposing to remain concealed near enough to the road to see all passers-by, so that I might judge what sort of people I was among.


As the ground where I stood was low and wet, and my clothes soaking, I feared catching the fever, so made my way well back to where some fallen trees had made a rift in the dense mass of trunks, creepers and foliage, letting in the sunlight. There I pulled off my garments to dry, taking great care not to let any of the poisonous leaves come into contact with my flesh, and made myself comfortable, sitting down to lunch nearly in the state of nature. I was more concerned over my damaged cigars than my dampened cartridges. On examination I found the cigars but slightly wet, so, spreading them out to dry along with the drapery, I lit one and surveyed the position. As the moisture was already steaming out of my garments I took matters cheerfully and considered the outlook good.

Having finished one of my bottles of water, I made up my mind to carry only one, and to take my chance of replenishing that. So long as my health continued perfect I did not require much water; what I feared was that my exposure and change of diet might make me feverish; if so, I would suffer from thirst unless I struck a hilly country.

How much company my watch was to me during those long days and nights! I was never tired of examining it. About 10 o'clock I made my way to the road and placed myself in a mass of foliage, where unseen by any one I had quite a range of the road. Up to this hour I had not seen a soul. At first I watched the little stretch of road with eagerness, but no one appearing I turned my attention to watching the evolutions of a huge yellow spider which was spreading its net near by. While absorbed, and almost fasci[Pg 352]nated, I was suddenly roused by the sharp, quick beating of hoofs on the sandy road. Giving a startled glance, I saw a man unarmed, but evidently a soldier, gallop quickly by on a mule. Twenty minutes later an old-fashioned cart containing four half-dressed negroes and drawn by four wretched mules passed. The men were silent and downcast. Before 1 o'clock thirty people had passed, several being soldiers of the guardia civil (armed police).

Then starting to spy out the land from the bushes and vines bordering the swamp I could see a bridge crossing the neck of the swamp, but, worst of all, quite a collection of houses at the other side, reaching down to the beach, and a wharf that ran out into the water quite fifty yards, with, no doubt, a guardhouse and police station among them. I saw my way blocked. It seemed certain there would be sentries on guard at the bridge, or so near it as to make it impossible for me to cross unobserved. The swamp extended inland apparently for three or four miles, and the jungle grew so dense as to make it impossible to penetrate it in an effort to go around, so I determined not to venture crossing the bridge, but to swim for it.

The swamp spread on both sides of the lagoon, and there was no such thing as wading in that almost liquid morass, so I tried to find by daylight a place where the mud was covered with water enough at least to make swimming possible, but no such place could I find.

Everywhere a black tangled mass of rotting leaves and creepers spread, making such a horrible slime that I shrank from attempting to cross it to the open water. Once over that there was the same ordeal to go through on the other side, and I knew I could only do it at full length—that is, to lie flat and pull myself along as well as possible. The simplest way was to wade out into the sea, then to swim far enough outside of the pier to escape observation from any one who might chance to be on it.[Pg 353]

But this involved the chance of a horrible death, the sea there swarming with sharks, which at night come in shore. Therefore, after cogitating the matter, I resolved to attempt the bridge, taking the risk of being seen. It might prove fatal to be seen, as I would have to bolt back, and once knowing a fugitive was in the jungle they might turn out and hedge me in, unless I took the sea route. This I resolved to do, if the one by the bridge proved impracticable.

So during the afternoon I gathered a small lot of dried limbs and broke them off in sufficient quantity to make a raft capable of bearing about twenty pounds. On this I intended to put my revolvers, cartridges, cigars, etc., and also to rest lightly on it myself, pushing it before me as I swam. After dark I crossed the road into the jungle skirting the beach, carrying my raft, and deposited it on the sand. Lying down in the hot sand near by smoking a cigar, I waited for the moon to go down. I was doing more than watch the stars and moonlit water. I was saying to myself, "What a jolly world is this!"

Then, beginning to argue of human destiny, at last I brought the argument around to Ego, and decided that he was a pretty clever fellow, and that the world meant to treat him well. So Ego, settling down into a very comfortable frame of mind, lighting a fresh cigar and looking across at the dark masses of the coral islets crowned with foliage set in the mirrored waters, passed two delightful hours.

I watched the moon go down and was not impatient, for the beauty of the scene more even than the novelty of the position cast a charm over the spirit and soothed the eye and mind. I wondered how many were seeking me and how many thousands were speculating over my identity and whereabouts, yet not one in his wildest imagination could ever picture the reality of my position in all its strange and magic surroundings. Through all the coming twenty years,[Pg 354] nightly in my dungeon, the magician memory would unroll that scene from his pictured chambers. It was all there—the physical that the eye took in and the thoughts evoked and sent swarming to the brain, there to remain engraved until life and memory end.


[Pg 355]



The bridge had no protection along the side save a simple stringpiece of timber. On the far side the houses rested nearly against the bridge entrance, forming a street, which I had to pass through.

The moon went down at 10, but I could hear loud voices and occasional bursts of laughter until 11. Then all grew still save the night noises of the woods and swamps.

At midnight I carried my raft down to the edge of the water, then leaving it there for use in case of a repulse, with my ironwood stick in my left hand and my revolver in the right, I marched down to the bridge, but fearing my upright figure might be seen, dark as it was, outlined against the sky, I stooped and crawled along the stringpiece of timber until within twenty feet of the large house at the end of the bridge. Peering through the gloom I listened, but could not see or hear any movement. Straightening myself up I took half a dozen paces, when, in the stillness, I heard a sharp crackle that turned me to stone as the flame of a wax match revealed two soldiers sitting on a bench within the porch of the guardhouse not ten feet away. One had struck the match to light a cigarette. The flame that betrayed them to me showed to them my form outlined on the bridge.

There was a sudden exclamation, a hail, "Quien va!" then a sudden and thrilling rattle of accoutrements, but I had turned and was flying back across the bridge. Suddenly a[Pg 356] rifle shot rang out sharply on the night; a second followed, but I was unharmed. In ten seconds I was beside my little raft, and, pushing it before me, waded out in the shallow water. When up to my knees I halted, unstrapped my revolvers and placed them on the raft. Then pulling off my shoes I put them and my load on the raft, fastening all with a string put there for the purpose. Sticking my knife through the lapel of my coat and resting my chin on the raft I began to swim, keeping well out, so as to go outside the long wharf.

In the mean time everything was in commotion ashore. Two more shots were fired, and flashes of the guns proved that a squad had turned out and had crossed the bridge in hot pursuit. Then I blessed the wise forethought that had led me to construct the raft. Certainly it had saved me, for they would surely search the jungle.

During the fearful excitement I had forgotten all about the sharks. In the darkness I had given all my attention to trying to get a glimpse of the wharf. Suddenly, near me in the calm and awful stillness, there sprang out of the dark waters a large fish which fell back with a splash.

My heart stood still and my blood seemed to freeze, for to my horror I fancied I saw the black fins of numberless sharks cutting the water. I saw myself dragged down into the awful depths and torn limb from limb, by the fierce and hungry monsters. I gave up hope and ceased my swimming, expecting every minute to see the water churned into angry foam by the furious sharks. Instinctively I placed my hand on the knife I had thrust through the lapel of my coat for just such an emergency, but strength and courage were all gone and my nerveless hand could not draw it out. It seemed a long time that I waited, half dazed, for death, which I hoped when it came would be swift.

Then I began swimming again, but in a hopeless way. My nerve was all gone. I fancied I was ringed around with[Pg 357] the black-finned devils, and thought I could discern the currents from their waving tails; but I kept on swimming, pushing my raft before me, until suddenly I was thrilled through by my foot striking the bottom.

Making a rush for the shore, and once there, heedless of the fact that I was in the rear of the houses, I fell down in the sand, weak and panting, and there I lay until strength enough to walk came to me. Then, taking my baggage from the raft, and cutting the cords that bound it together, I started on. Courage and confidence soon came back, and I kept steadily on for three hours, passing several small salt water inlets, but no fresh water to fill my now empty bottle.

At the first sign of day I went just within the border of the jungle, and lying down was soon asleep, and sleeping soundly, too, for waking I found the sun high in the heavens, and, looking at my watch, saw it was 9 o'clock. At the same time I discovered that I was hungry, with no food save a small piece of dried beef and not a drop of water in my bottle.

The salt water lagoon, or inlet, where I had my adventure of the previous night was marked on my map as a river, but it was not. However, I did not worry over the water question, as I knew I was near the hilly country surrounding the town of Alguizor, an important military headquarters, and I was confident of soon meeting some creek flowing from the hills. As for food, there were to be found in the dense jungle, where the soil was moist and wet, the holes of the nut crabs. They were large and fat—that is, appeared to be fat—and I knew that with plenty of them in the jungle I should not suffer from hunger.

Before starting inland for the day I turned to look at the blue waters rippling under a light breeze, and glancing in the sun, only a few yards away, I smiled to think of the phantoms my fears had conjured up, but for all that I re[Pg 358]solved that no more night swims in the sea should find place in my programme.

I made my way with difficulty through the tangled woods, but had gone nearly a mile before I came to the road. After a cautious survey from my shelter, I stepped out on it, and looking away to the west I saw cultivated hills with teams and people moving about; I also saw the road became two—the right-hand one led away from the coast into the hills, the one to the left continued to skirt the beach. Both roads were well traveled, and I knew I was near the tobacco belt, which is cultivated throughout its entire length, from the Gulf to the Caribbean Sea, for a breadth of twenty miles, its western border touching the province of Pinar del Rio. Forty miles beyond that border the rebels held the town of San Cristoval, but I had made up my mind to follow the coast until I reached the hamlet and harbor of Rio de San Diego, fifty miles south from San Cristoval, then to strike north to the town of Passos, twenty miles west of San Cristoval. Once past San Diego, I would be well within the rebel lines, and could safely show myself, although I determined not to do so voluntarily until I was at Passos.

The roundabout way I was traveling doubled the distance, but, aside from getting outside the lines of the Spanish patrols, I was in no particular hurry, and my mode of life was hardening and fitting me for the service in which I was to embark. I counted upon taking ten days, or rather nights, to reach San Diego, and five from there to Passos, where I would make myself known to the rebel chiefs as an American volunteer in the cause of Cuban liberty. And, I thought, what a change of scene for Mr. F. A. Warren. From the Bank of England to a volunteer in a rebel camp in Cuba!

[Pg 359]
[Pg 360]


I crossed the road and entered the jungle to pass the day, but as the ground was dry the trees and vines were not so closely matted, making it easier to move about, and a far more agreeable place it was for a daylight picnic than the[Pg 361] jungle where I had passed the day before. But no crabs showed themselves, and as there was no animal life to be found, there was nothing but my piece of dried beef to be had "to go into the interior," so I dined off that; then, lighting one of my precious cigars, lay down in a sort of fairy bower to enjoy myself, and succeeded. During the entire day no sight or sound of human form or voice came to me, nor yet of animal life, save only a mateless bird, garbed in green that flitted around. Of course, not a drop of water this whole day long for me, and, though I was moderately thirsty, I did not suffer, despite the fact that I smoked several cigars. But I felt that I must have food and drink that night, whatever risk I incurred in securing it. I determined, therefore, to start early on my journey and get food before the country people were all in bed. As soon as night fell I stepped out on the road and cautiously started westward. Knowing there must be some town or hamlet near by, I purposed to enter, spy out some shop and watch until the shopkeeper was alone, then enter and purchase a supply of such food as he had, then march out and disappear as quickly as possible.

Soon after starting I came to a small place such as the poor whites of the country inhabit, and seeing two women in the doorway I walked in, and with a salute and "Buenas noches, senoritas," I asked for water (agua); they responded with alacrity and brought me some in a cocoanut shell. I saw it was vile stuff, with an earthy taste, but thirsty as I was it tasted like nectar. There was some food on a wooden dish inside, and I suppose they saw me looking at it, for the older woman ran in and returned bringing me two roasted plantains and a rice cake. Just then I discovered a man inside and two others came up from the rear of the house, or I would have purchased food of the women; but, seeing them, I thanked the ladies, and, saying good night, disappeared in the darkness. Picking up the empty bottle I had left in the[Pg 362] road I walked on, feasting as I went on my roasted plantains. How nice they tasted!

A mile ahead I came to a tumbledown roadhouse, with quite a crowd of loud-voiced men standing around, who evidently had been indulging in the fiery aguardiente sold there. Like the Levite and priest, I passed by on the other side, giving the place a wide berth. Soon after I entered a town or hamlet of a dozen houses. Two or three passed me in the darkness with a "Buenas noches, senor," to which I mumbled some reply, they doubtless taking me for a neighbor. Two uniformed men, evidently police or soldiers, were lounging in the only shop, and I dared not enter until they were gone. Planting myself in a deep shadow, I sat down waiting for them to go out, but they showed no sign of moving until a shrill voice from a female throat issued from a nearby house, bidding one of the loungers to lounge no more just then, and he, hurriedly obeying the summons, went; soon his companion followed; then, leaving my empty bottle in the road, and with my hand on the revolver in my outside pocket, I entered the shop. The easy-going Cuban shopkeeper paid no particular attention to me, did not even stop rolling the cigarette he was making. After deliberately lighting it, he lazily responded to my "Buenas noches, senor," I saw bread, cakes and ham, and ordered of each; then, seeing some Spanish wine, I took a bottle; also a bottle of pickles. Producing a $10 Spanish bank note, I paid the bill, and emerged into the night with the precious load, and so strong was the animal instinct of hunger upon me that I would have fought to death sooner than surrender the provisions I carried.

Picking up my empty bottle I looked out for a chance to fill it as I walked through the town on the main road, which went straight west, but intending to abandon it as soon as I came to the fields and found it was safe to sit down for a feast, then make my way to the beach, now some two miles[Pg 363] away, and put in a good distance before daylight. But for two mortal hours the road was bordered by impenetrable walls of cactus and bayonet grass, and to make the matter worse the moon came out from behind the clouds and poured a flood of light on the open road. Twice men on horseback passed me, coming from the opposite direction, and both times I sank down in the shadow of the cactus, both times with revolver in hand, but dreading an encounter, as the noise of firing might wake a hornets' nest about my ears.

At last I came to a road which entered a field. I was soon over the bars and found myself in an old tobacco plantation, now partly planted in Spanish beans. Crossing a couple of fields at the foot of the hills and in going over a triangular piece of ground, I found the ruins of a house, and nearby a small stream of water. I was in luck, and, taking a good drink and filling my bottle, I sat down in a convenient shadow and spread out my eatables. They were a goodly sight, and consisted of four pounds of good ham, a dozen good-sized sweet cakes, two loaves of bread, a bottle of pickles and one of wine, and one of water. I began with a drink of wine, then followed ham and bread and cake for dessert, all washed down with a fine long drink of water. Then lighting a cigar I stretched myself at full length and spent a delightful hour star-gazing.

Then I arose, took another drink of wine, but as it was not particularly select, threw the remainder away, and, filling both bottles from the brook, I prepared to march.

How I wish the kodak fiend existed then and that one of them had happened along just then to take a snap shot at me as I stood there in full marching order, with my water bottles slung over my shoulders, my eatables tied up in a large silk handkerchief, with my garments all in tatters, the result of thorns and creepers snatching at them in my jungle trampings; but, worst of all, my trusty and precious walking boots were beginning to show signs of rough usage.[Pg 364]

I struck the road leading to the beach and marched westward, but it was an unknown land, and I was in constant fear of running against some military post or patrol, being thus constantly delayed by long halts to watch some suspicious object or by making long detours to avoid them. Once I had a fright. Two men on horseback riding on the sandy road were almost on me before I saw or heard them, and I only had time to sink into the shadow as they passed almost within reach of my hand. Both were smoking the everlasting cigarette, and were engaged in earnest talk. Daylight came and found me not more than eight or ten miles further on my journey, but I was very well content as I pitched my camp for the day. I had a royal feast, then, after a cigar, lay down to sleep in another fairy bower and slept until noon, and awoke to find myself wondering how matters were going with Capt. Curtin in Havana, rather amused over the state of chagrin I knew he must be in. I thought of a possible future meeting some years ahead, when, all danger over, I would see and chaff him over a bottle of Cliquot and the $50,000 he wouldn't have, and how I went all the same and saved the money.

I realized I must be frugal or my provisions would never hold out; so, after a light lunch, I began to make my way slowly to the beach through the tangled maze of trees and vines. Coming in sight of the blue waters I lay down to sleep again and awoke when the stars were out. The moon would not go down till late, but as there was a deep, broad shadow cast by the trees I walked in it.

Good food and the long day of rest restored my strength. All my confidence returned, and I made good progress. At last the moon went down, and then I pressed rapidly forward, always with revolver in hand, ready for instant action. I think I made fully twenty-five miles this night, but as the coast was indented my progress in a straight direction was not more than half that distance. Just as it began to grow[Pg 365] gray in the east I came out on a wide inlet. It ran deep into the land. I recognized it from my map as Puerto del Gato, and then I knew I was in the province of Pinar del Rio and almost out of danger.

I went into the bush again and pitched camp, waiting for daylight to come and reveal my surroundings. Pitching camp consisted in scraping a few leaves together and lying down; but this morning I was too excited to sleep. I felt that I was near my goal, after having safely gone through many dangers. Once across the Puerto del Gato, two nights of travel would place me outside of the farthest Spanish pickets and bring me among friends, far beyond chance of pursuit, and I also knew that the mere knowledge of my presence in the rebel camp would cause all thought of pursuit to be dropped.

When daylight came I stood and looked around. Across the inlet, twenty miles away, I could see only dark masses of green, with no sign of life. To the north the land was hilly, with houses here and there in the distance, and signs of animal life. I cautiously searched the shore for a mile in the hope of finding a boat to cross to the other shore of the inlet, but none was in sight.

About 9 o'clock I saw smoke off at sea, and soon I made out a small Spanish gunboat coming rapidly up. Dropping anchor about a mile up the inlet, she sent a boat ashore. I was feeling sleepy, and, going into the woods again, I took a light lunch, and, emptying one bottle of water, lay down to sleep, resolved to make my plans when I awoke. I did not like the appearance of this gunboat; it seemed to promise the presence of the enemy in force around me, besides being a visible manifestation of the power of that enemy.

When I awoke from my nap I started on a cautious spying out of the land, making my way toward the head of the inlet, but keeping always under the protection of the woods. While going cautiously along I was startled by the notes of[Pg 366] a bugle ringing out some military call not far away, and a moment later the gunboat replied with a gun, then steamed out to sea. Continuing my progress through the woods I came to the road, and, hiding securely in a thicket where I could see unseen, I watched. Soon I heard the sound of voices, and then a detail of armed men passed, going leisurely east, escorting an empty wagon drawn by four mules. It meant much, these armed escorts, showing they were in the face of the enemy. Several others passed during the hour of my watch. Then, with many cautious glances up and down the road, I slipped quietly across and crept for two hours through the jungle. Making my way to the side of the bay, I saw that I had left the military post behind me. There were white barracks and a wharf with people walking on it, and here the road and beach were one. This much discovered, I went a safe distance into the jungle and lay down to have a good sleep, feeling I would need all my energy and strength for the coming night, as it promised to be a critical one, especially as I could not afford to wait for the moon to go down, and would not have the shelter of darkness, for the moonlight was so powerful that one could easily read print by it.

I slept until dark, and awoke refreshed, then lunched and nearly finished my last bottle of water. I had only sufficient food for two more light meals. After lunch I smoked for an hour, star-gazing and philosophizing. At 9 o'clock, emerging into the road, I started cautiously out, walking in the shadow of the jungle as much as possible. I thought the head of the inlet was about ten miles away, and expected to find a military post or at least a picket stationed there.

Daylight once more. But it found me happy and content, for the difficulties of the passage of the wide inlet, which had confronted me the night before, had all been surmounted. I was now in a densely wooded point on the western side of[Pg 367] the bay. Between me and San Diego lay a wild no man's land of fifty miles. That meant only two nights more of peril and uncertainty, and it was all straight going. So far as the coast line was concerned I was outside of the Spanish lines. Tired out and very well contented, just as the sun rose fiery red above the horizon, I lay down and was at once in dreamland. At noon, hungry and with only a few ounces of food to satisfy my hunger, I woke. Finishing my last bit of ham and bread, I lighted a cigar and set about planning. Pulling out my little map, I began to scan it for the thousandth time. About six miles to the north was the little town of San Miguel. Between me and San Diego lay fifty miles of wild country swept by fire and sword, without an inhabitant and without food. Hungry as I already was, I felt it would not do to undertake a two days' journey through that wilderness without eating. Of course I made a mistake. I was clear of the toils, and I ought to have taken every and any chance rather than enter the enemy's lines again.

I resolved, soon after night came, to set out for San Miguel, watch my chance to enter a shop and purchase food, then, beating a hasty retreat, strike out across the country straight for San Diego, there to find myself among friends in the rebel camp.

I set out and without any particular adventure arrived about 9 o'clock at San Miguel. It proved to be a hamlet with the houses ranged close together on opposite sides of the streets. The moonlight cast a deep shadow on one side, while the opposite side was almost like day. I stood in the deep shadow watching. The first building was evidently a police or military barrack. The door was wide open, but no one was visible inside. About five doors off was a shop, but the door was closed, and from where I stood there appeared no sign of life within. I waited about ten minutes, and rashly concluding that there was no one save the proprietor there, I stepped out of the shadow into the moonlight[Pg 368] and hurrying across the street, put my hand on the door, opened it and stepping within found myself in the presence of twenty soldiers, all gossiping, smoking or gambling. Belts and cartridge boxes along with bayonets decorated the walls or were lying about on boxes and barrels.

All eyes were turned on me. I saw myself in a fearful trap and nothing but consummate coolness could keep them from questioning me. My heart beat fast, but with an affectation of indifference I saluted and said: "Buenos noches, senores." They all returned my salutation, but looked at each other eagerly, each waiting for the other to question me.

I stepped to the counter and asked for bread; two loaves were given me. I picked up some cakes and paid for them. From the door I turned, and putting all my dignity into a bow, I said: "Good night, gentlemen." They all seemed held by a spell, but they looked and were dangerous as death. I closed the door, fully realizing my peril, feeling the storm would break the instant I was out of sight. Fortunately there was no one near, and I ran swiftly across the street into the protecting shadow and crouched down in a dark space between two houses. The cactus-like weeds grew there and pricked me, but I heeded them not, for that instant the soldiers poured out of the shop, an angry and excited mob, buckling on their belts, cartridge boxes and bayonets as they ran. Some had their muskets, others hastened to get them and all save two stragglers rushed out of the town in the direction from which I had entered. I wondered at this, but soon discovered the reason. Some few women, hearing the tumult, came into the street, but seeing nothing, went in again; the stragglers all disappeared and the street was quiet.


I came out of my corner and hurried in the shadow down the road in the opposite direction to the course followed by my pursuers. Arriving at the last house at the foot of the street, I found myself confronted by a small river, quiet and[Pg 369] apparently deep, with all the space from the last house to the river one impassable barrier of giant cactus, I had either to swim the river or turn back, and I ought to have plunged in as I was, revolver and all, the distance over being short; and, as I am an expert swimmer, I could easily have got across, loaded down as I was. But a contemptible trifle had weight enough to cause me to adopt the suicidal course of turning back.

The fierce animal instinct of hunger was on me, the smell of the food enraged me, and I thought if I swam the stream the cakes and bread I carried would be soaked and probably lost, for I had them loose in my arms; beside, I was overconfident of my ability to escape my pursuers. They had marched by the road that led behind the village to the bridge crossing the river some distance up; evidently, not seeing me, they took it for granted I knew of the bridge, and had gone that way.

To appease at once my hanger, in a fatal moment I retraced my steps. As I passed a house three women came out. They spoke to me, and in my excitement, instead of saying good evening in Spanish (buenas noches), I said good morning (buenas dias). They, of course, saw I was a stranger.

Just then four soldiers came hurriedly into the street from the road, and I was forced to leave the women and crouch down in my former hiding place. Then they did what women seldom do—betrayed the fugitive. Calling to the soldiers, they pointed out the place I was in. All four came running, and in a moment were almost on top of me. I presented my revolver and snapped the trigger twice without exploding the cartridges; they were too close or too excited to use their muskets, but all four grappled with me, and naturally used me pretty roughly.

There was a terrific hullabaloo, as in response to their cries their comrades came running in. By the time they had[Pg 370] hustled me across the street into the shop there was a mob of half a hundred around me. Soon the commander, a captain, appeared. I wish I could say he was a gentleman, but he was not. He was a little, peppery young fellow, apparently with negro blood in his veins, and dictatorial and insulting in manner.

Surely I was an object—a tramp in appearance—but with a diamond ring on my finger (which I had taken from my pocket and slipped on), a revolver strapped to my waist and a splendid chronometer in my pocket. Such an object had never before loomed on their horizon. Was not one glance enough to show that I must be a notable rebel, and there was but one doom for such.

My desperate situation cast out all fear, and I was cold and haughty. Flourishing my police passport, I informed him that I was Stanley W. Parish of New York, a correspondent of the New York Herald, and he had better look out what he was about.

But it was evident that police passports made out in Havana had no currency in the face of the enemy; but at any rate it proved that whatever my intentions might be, I had at least hailed last from Havana, and not from the rebel camp, and this would prevent my peppery captain from enjoying the pleasure of standing me up in the morning, to be fusilladed, such being the law for all captives in the savage contest.

Down my gentleman sat on a barrel, pompous and important, and ordered me to be searched. All this time a dozen hands were holding me fast. I told my officer he was a fool and a clown, but my captors began to go through my pockets, and speedily there was a heap of gold and paper money on the barrel, and my little friend fingered it with a covetous eye. I had my $10,000 in bonds pinned in the sleeve of my undershirt. This they missed, but found all else I carried. In the mean time there was an eager audience looking on, absorbed in the interest of the scene.[Pg 371]

There was a collection indeed on that barrel. Beside my ring, there were five other valuable diamonds, my chronometer, which with its regular beat and stem-winding arrangement was a great curiosity. Then the heap of money was a loadstone for all their hungry eyes. The captain was making out an inventory and statement, while I stood white with rage to see the half-breeds, blacks, browns and yellows, handle my property so freely. I was especially in a rage with the impudent captain, who had the nerve to put my watch in his pocket. Absorbed by the interest of the scene, my captors had insensibly loosened their hold, and I determined to have some satisfaction out of the captain. Suddenly seizing one of the revolvers before I could be stopped I gave him a stinging blow with it and sprang on him. We rolled on the floor, and there was a scene. I was dragged off by fifty hands, every one trying to seize me, if only by one hand. My captain got up with the blood running down his face, and, rushing to a peg, he seized a sabre bayonet and flew at me like a mad bull. I shouted at him in Spanish, calling him a cur and coward, bidding him to come on. He was not unwilling, while my captors held me firmly exposed to his assault. Another second would have ended my life, when a woman spectator, who stood near nursing a child, threw her arms around him; this, joined to my indifference, for I continued my jeers and taunts, changed his purpose, to my disappointment, for I preferred death to going back to Havana.

"From Wall Street to Newgate" is replete with stirring incidents, marvelous adventures, hair-breadth escapes and remarkable experiences, such as few men have met with. They are narrated in any easy, picturesque style, evincing sincerity and candor, with no attempt at sensation or exaggeration. The truth told is stranger than fiction, and history may well be challenged to produce another life into which has come so many varied and bewildering events, or to disclose another character, trained in a religious home, having culture and an unusual business talent, whose deflection from the path of honor has stirred to its very depths the entire civilized world.

[Pg 372]



Ten days after the events recorded in the last chapter I sailed once more into Havana. This time a prisoner. Two days after my capture, by order of the Captain-General of Cuba, I was put on board the little gunboat Santa Rita, a wretched little tub that steamed four miles an hour and took eight days going from Puerto Novo on the south to Havana.

I was taken by a guard of soldiers, not to the police barracks, but to the common prison, where an entire corridor was cleared of its inmates to make room for me and my guards. Pinkerton was the first man to call. He, of course, was delighted to see me. While giving me credit for my escape, he told me he did not purpose to have me leave him again, and having permission from the authorities, he or some of his men intended to keep me company night and day. Of course I respected him for his honest determination to do his duty. He really was an altogether good fellow, and showed me all possible courtesy and consideration; in fact, on his first visit he brought me a letter from my wife, along with a box of cigars and a bottle of wine on his own account.

One of his men, by the name of Perry, used to sleep in my little room with me, and every morning Mr. P. would relieve him, remaining until dinner time. We had many long talks[Pg 373] on all sorts of subjects, and he gave me many inside histories of famous criminal cases which he had been engaged in. In time we became very good friends.

He also gave me full particulars of the really extraordinary way in which he discovered my presence in the West Indies and the reason which led him to conclude that F.A. Warren and I were one. William Pinkerton ordered him to look up the New York end of the business and see if he could discover the identity of Warren. He was one of the many working on the case, but to him belongs the credit of establishing my identity, also of locating my whereabouts and of effecting my arrest.

When ordered on the case he knew no more about me or the forgery than what he read in the newspapers. He soon made up his mind that I was an American, and that I was a resident either of New York or Chicago. This because I was so young and evidently had a good knowledge of finance and financial matters. So he determined to seek for a clue to F.A. Warren in Wall street. He procured a list of the names of every banker and broker in New York, and then spent some time in interviewing them, his one question being "Now, who is he?" With their assistance he soon made out a list of nearly twenty possible Warrens, and speedily narrowed it down to four, my name being one of the four. He soon located my home, and began making cautious inquiries on the spot from neighbors and others. He discovered that I was believed to be in Europe, and had been there before, and that when I last returned I had paid off debts and apparently had plenty of money. He had become convinced of my identity, but if I were Warren—where was I?

Without arousing suspicion, he heard from some of my acquaintances a saying of mine that whenever I had a bank account, I should live in the tropics. So he reported to his superiors that in his opinion F.A. Warren and I were one,[Pg 374] and he believed that, if in America at all, I might be found at some fashionable resort in Florida.

He concluded to go to Florida, and visit the various resorts. Upon his arrival at St. Augustine, he sent letters to several of the West India islands, including Martinique, Jamaica and Cuba, inquiring for the names and descriptions of all wealthy young Americans lately arrived. One letter he sent to Dr. C.L. Houscomb, then the leading American doctor in Havana, who, replying to his inquiry, gave my name among others. After my arrest Dr. Houscomb told me how grieved he was to have betrayed me, but that he thought that Pinkerton was a newspaper man, and wanted the information as a matter of news.

With this letter in his hand, Pinkerton found a plain path before him. To go ahead of my story a little, I will say here that eventually the bank authorities made him a considerable present in cash, along with their congratulations over his clever detective work. Capt. John Curtin is to-day well and hearty, a prosperous man and very generally respected by the citizens of San Francisco, where he lives.

About ten days after my arrival he brought me a New York Herald containing these dispatches:

(Special to New York Herald.)

Madrid, April 12, 1873.

The American Ambassador, Gen. Sickles, has formally notified Senor Castelar that the American Government will consent to the surrender to the British Government of Bidwell, now under arrest in Havana upon charge of being concerned in the Bank of England forgery.

(Special to New York Herald.)

London, April 12, 1873.

To the great gratification of the authorities here, official confirmation is given to the rumor that the Spanish Government has concluded to grant the extradition of Bidwell, now under arrest in Havana. There seems to be no doubt that[Pg 375] Bidwell is the mysterious Frederick Albert Warren, and there is a very general curiosity to see him. Many conflicting stories have been published of his extraordinary escape and equally extraordinary capture. The Times' report had it that he was mortally wounded, and that he had on his person when captured diamonds to an enormous value, which had disappeared soon after. Sergeants Hayden and Green of the Bow Street force and Mr. Good of the bank of England sail on the Java to-morrow to escort Bidwell to London.

So the web was closing in on me. Of my daily sad interviews with my wife I will say nothing here. But could I have foreseen that this woman, on whom I had settled a fortune, would have married another soon after my sentence, I should not have felt so sorrowful on her account. In due time Green, Hayden and Good arrived, and were introduced to me. I did not give in, but made, by the aid of my friends, a hard fight to persuade the Captain-General to suspend the order for my delivery, and succeeded for a time.

At last, after many delays and many plans, early one May morning I was taken to the mouth of the harbor. There the boat of the English warship Vulture was in waiting, and I was formally transferred to the English Government, and Curtin. Perry, Hayden and Green went on board with me. Soon after she steamed out of the harbor. Later in the day the Moselle, the regular passenger steamer to Plymouth and Southampton, came out, and about ten miles out at sea was met by the Vulture's boat, and I and my four guardians were transferred to her.

At last I was off for England, and it looked very much as if Justice would weigh me in her balance after all, the more certainly because I found my wife on the Moselle. I had secretly resolved never to be taken back, but intended the first night out of Havana to jump overboard, possibly with a cork jacket, or something to help to keep me afloat. The waters of the gulf were warm, there were many passing[Pg 376] ships, and I would take my chance of surviving the night and being picked up. But, very cleverly, Curtin decided to send my wife with me and treat me like any other cabin passenger, rightly divining I would not kill her by committing suicide or going over the side on chances.

I was well treated all the way over, but every night my prayer was that we might run on an iceberg or go down, so that my wife might be spared long years of agony and me from the misery and degradation of prison life.

I had obtained a position in Havana for one of my servants, but Nunn was returning with me, feeling very badly and most unhappy over the sure prospect of my future misery. I was pleased to think he had held on to the money I had given him. Altogether, he was quite $2,000 ahead, and I wanted to make it $5,000. He certainly deserved it for his constancy and affection.

One lovely June day we sailed into Plymouth, there to land mail and such passengers as wanted to take the express to London. I instructed my wife to go to Southampton while I went ashore with my guardians.

From the London Times, June 10, 1873:

"Among the passengers who landed at Plymouth yesterday morning from the royal mail steamer Moselle was Bidwell, otherwise F.A. Warren, in charge of Detective Sergeant Michael Hayden and William Green, accompanied by Capt. John Curtin and Walter Perry of Mr. Pinkerton's staff. They were joined by Inspector Wallace and Detective Sergeant William Moss of the city police, who had come down from London the previous night to meet the steamer.

[Pg 377]
[Pg 378]

"It being known that Bidwell was expected from Havana in the Moselle, an enormous crowd assembled in Milbay pier to await the return of the steam tender with the mail, in order to get a sight of the prisoner, and so great was the crowd that it was with some difficulty that Bidwell and his escort managed to reach cabs, and were driven to the Duke of Cornwall Hotel adjoining the railway station. They left by[Pg 379] the 12.45 train for London. A crowd of 20,000 persons were present to see them off, and cheered Bidwell heartily.

"Bidwell will be taken before the Lord Mayor in the justice room at the Mansion House this morning."


Accompanied by my escort of six, I arrived in London one bright Spring morning, just as the mighty masses of that great Babylon were thronging in their thousands toward Epsom Downs, where on that day the Derby, that pivotal event in the English year, was to be run. All London was astir, and had put on holiday attire, while I, now a poor weed drifting to rot on Lethe's wharf, was on my way to Newgate.

Newgate! Then it had come to this! The Primrose Way wherein I had walked and lived delicately at the expense of honor, ended here!

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," was written by one Paul. The wisdom of many was here and condensed in the wit of one, and one with the shrewdest insight into things and a practical knowledge of human history.

I was a prisoner in Newgate. Newgate! The very name casts a chill; so, too, does a sight of that granite fortress rising there in the heart of mighty London. Amid all the throbbing life of that great Babylon it stands—chill and grim—and has stood a prison fortress for 500 years. Through all those linked centuries how many thousands of the miserable and heartbroken of every generation have been garnered within its cold embrace! What sights and sounds those old walls have seen and heard! As I paced its gloomy corridors that first night, pictures of its past rose before me so grim and terrible that I turned shuddering from them, only to remember that I, too, had joined the long unending procession ever flowing through its gates, which had heaped its walls to the top with one inky sea of misery.

In the cruel days of old many a savage sentence had fallen from the lips of merciless judges, but none more terrible[Pg 380] than the one which was to fall on us from the lips of their ferocious imitator, Justice Archibald.

I found my three friends already prisoners there, and a sad party we were. When we said good-bye that night on the wharf at Calais, where we sat star-gazing and philosophizing, we little anticipated this reunion.

What a rude surprise it was to find how things were conducted in this same Newgate. I took it for granted—since the law regarded us as innocent until we were tried and convicted—that we could have any reasonable favor granted us there which was consistent with our safe keeping. But no. The system of the convict prison was enforced here, and with the same iron rigor. Strict silence was the rule along with the absolute exclusion of newspapers and all news of the outside world. The rules forbid any delicacy or books being furnished by one's friends from the outside. This iron system is as cruel as unphilosophical, for, pending trial, the inmates are more or less living in a perfect agony of mind, which drives many into insanity or to the verge of insanity, as it did me. How can one, then, when the past is remorse—and the present and future despair—find oblivion or raze out the written troubles of the brain save in absorption in books.

When Claudo is doomed to die and go "he knew not where," peering into the abyss, the fear strikes him that in the unknown he may be "prisoned in the viewless winds" and blown with restless violence round about this pendant world. A terrible figure! It filled at this time some corner of my brain and would not out. It went with me up and down in all my walks in Newgate.


If I had the pen of Victor Hugo, what a picture I would draw of a mind consciously going down into the fearful abyss of insanity, making mighty struggles against it, yet looking on the cold walls shutting one in and weighing down the spirit, feeling that the struggle is ineffectual, the[Pg 381] fight all in vain, for the dead, blank walls are staring coldly on you, without giving one reflex message, bearing on their gray surface no thought, no response of mind. For they have been looked over with anxious care to discover if any other mind had recorded there some thought which would awake thought in one's own, and help to shake off the fearful burden pressing one to earth. As a fact, a man so situated does—aye, must—make an effort to leave some visible impress of his mind as a message to his kind. It is a natural law, and the instinct is part of one's being. It is a passion of the mind—a longing to be united to the spiritual mass of minds from which the isolated soul is suffering an unnatural divorce of hideous material walls.

It is this law which makes the savage place his totem on the rocks, and it is, thanks to the same instinct, that this very day our savants are finding beneath the foundations of the temples and palaces which once decked the Phoenician plain, the baked tablets which tell us the family histories, no less than the story of the empires of those days. When the impress was made on the soft clay to be fire-hardened, each writer felt or hoped in the long ages in the far-off unknown,

"When time is old and hath forgot itself,
When water drops have worn the streets of Troy
And blind oblivion swallowed cities up,
And mighty States, characterless, are grated
To dusty nothing"——

then some thought, some message from their minds, there impressed on the senseless clay, would be communicated to some other mind, and wake a response there.

Many a time, with a brain reeling in agony, did I turn and stare blankly at those walls, and, in a sort of dumb stupor, search them over in hope to find some word, some message impressed there, some scratch of pen or finger nail. It might be a message of misery, some outcry from a wounded spirit, some expression of despair.[Pg 382]

Had there been one such—had there been! Every one of my predecessors had left a message on that smooth-painted wall, but the red-tape official rogues—the stultified images sans reason, sans all imagination—had, after the departure of each one, carefully painted over all such legacies.

The hideous cruelty of it all! My blood, boils even now, when I think of it. Even in the days of Elizabeth the keepers of the Tower of London had enough human feeling to leave untouched the inscriptions made by Raleigh and others, and there they are to-day, and to-day wake a response in the heart of every visitor that looks on them.


[Pg 383]



My life at Newgate was an ordeal such as I hope no reader of this will ever undergo. Day by day I saw the world slipping from under my feet, and the net drawing its deadly folds closer around me. Soon we all were forced to realize there was no escape for any of us.

Of course, we were all guilty and deserved punishment—I need not say we did not think so then—but the evidence was most weak, and had our trial taken place in America under the too liberal construction of our laws, undoubtedly we all would have escaped. But in England there is no court of criminal appeal, as with us, and when once the jury gives a verdict, that ends the matter. The result is that if judges are prejudiced, or want a man convicted, as in our case, he never escapes. The jury is always selected from the shopkeeping class, and they are horribly subservient to the aristocratic classes. They don't care for evidence—they simply watch the judge. If he smiles, the prisoner is innocent. If he frowns, then, of course, guilty.

With us when a man is charged with an offense against the laws he engages a lawyer—one is sufficient and quite costly enough. In England they are divided into three classes, viz.: solicitors, barristers and Queen's Counsels.

The solicitor takes the case and transacts all the business connected with it. A barrister is the lawyer who is employed by the solicitor to conduct the case in court and make the pleadings. He never comes in contact with the[Pg 384] client, but takes the brief and all instructions from the solicitor. The Queen's Counsel is a lawyer of a higher rank, and whenever his serene lordship takes a brief he must, to keep up his dignity, "be supported" by a barrister. So my reader will perhaps understand the raison d'etre of the proverb, "The lawyers own England." As no solicitor can plead in court, so no Queen's Counsel will come in direct contact with a client, and must be "supported" by a barrister. Ergo, any unfortunate having a case in court must fee two, if not three legal sharks to represent him, if represented at all.

We employed as solicitor a Mr. David Howell of 105 Cheapside, and a thoroughgoing, unprincipled rascal he proved to be. He was a small, spare, undersized man, with little beady eyes, light complexion, red hair, and stubby beard, and when he spoke it was with a thin reedy voice. From first to last he managed our case in exactly the way the prosecution would have desired. He bled us freely, and altogether we paid him nearly $10,000, and our defense by our eight lawyers—four Queen's Counsels and four barristers—was about the lamest and most idiotic possible.

We early came to the unanimous conclusion that in our country Howell would have had to face a jury for robbing us, and that but one of our eight lawyers had ability enough to appear in a police court here to conduct a hearing before an ordinary magistrate.

I do not propose to enter into the details of our preliminary hearings before the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House, or of the trial. Both the hearings and trial were sensational in the highest degree, and attracted universal attention all over the English-speaking world. Full-page pictures of the trial appeared in all the illustrated journals of Europe and America, and our portraits were on sale everywhere.

After many hearings before Sir Sidney Waterlaw, we were finally committed for trial.[Pg 385]

Editorial from the London Times of Aug. 13, 1873:


"Monday next has been fixed for the trial, and the depositions taken before the Lord Mayor at the Justice Room of the Mansion House by Mr. Oke, the chief clerk, have been printed for the convenience of the presiding judge and of the counsel on both sides. They extend over 242 folio pages, including the oral and documentary evidence, and make of themselves a thick volume, together with an elaborate index for ready reference. Within living memory there has been no such case for length and importance heard before any Lord Mayor of London in its preliminary stage, nor one which excited a greater amount of public interest from first to last. The Overend Gurney prosecution is the only one in late years which at all approaches it in those respects, but in that the printed depositions only extended over 164 folio pages, or much less than those in the Bank case, in which as many as 108 witnesses gave evidence before the Lord Mayor, and the preliminary examinations—twenty-three in number from first to last—lasted from the first of March until the 2d of July, exclusive of the time spent in remands."

From the London Times, Aug. 10, 1873:

"On the opening of the August sessions of the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court. The court and streets were much crowded from the beginning, and continued so throughout the day. Alderman Sir Robert Carden, representing the Lord Mayor; Mr. Alderman Finis, Mr. Alderman Besley, Mr. Alderman Lawrence, M.P., Mr. Alderman Whetham and Mr. Alderman Ellis, as commissioners of the Court, occupied seats upon the bench, as did also Alderman Sheriff White.

"Sheriff Sir Frederick Perkins, Mr. Under-Sheriff Hewitt and Mr. Under-Sheriff Crosley, Mr. R.B. Green, Mr. R.W. Crawford, M.P., Governor of the Bank. Mr. Lyall, Deputy Governor, and Mr. Alfred de Rothschild were present. The members of the bar mustered in force, and the reserved seats were chiefly occupied by ladies. Mr. Hardinge Gifford, Q.C. (now Lord Chancellor of the British Empire), and Mr. Watkin Williams, Q.C. (instructed by Messrs. Fresh[Pg 386]field, the solicitors of the bank), appeared as counsel for the prosecution."

For eight mortal days the final trial dragged on, and there we were pilloried in that horrible dock—a spectacle for the staring throngs that flocked to see the young Americans who had found a pregnable spot in the impregnable Bank of England.

The misery of those eight days! No language can describe it, nor would I undergo it again for the wealth of the world.

The court was filled with fashionables, ladies as well, who flocked to stare at misery, while the corridors of the Old Bailey and the street itself were packed with thousands eager to catch a glimpse of us. The Judge, in scarlet, sat in solemn state, with members of the nobility or gouty Aldermen in gold chains and robes on the bench beside him. The body of the court was filled with bewigged lawyers—a tippling lot of sharks and rogues, always after lunch half tipsy with the punch or dry sherry which English lawyers drink, jesting and cracking jokes, unmindful of the fate of their clients. Capt. Curtin and a score of detectives were present.

No fewer than 213 witnesses were called by the prosecution. Of these about fifty were from America, and by them they traced our lives for many years before. As the forged bills were all sent by mail it was necessary to convict us by circumstantial evidence. The evidence was all very weak, save only in that remarkable matter of the blotting paper. Our conviction was a foregone conclusion.

The jury retired to consider their verdict shortly after 7 o'clock, and on returning into court after the lapse of about a quarter of an hour they gave in a verdict of guilty against all of the four prisoners.[Pg 387]



Judge Archibald proceeded to pass sentence. He began with the interesting and truthful remark: "I have anxiously considered whether anything less than the maximum penalty of the law will be adequate to meet the requirements of this case, and I think not." We had information that a few days previously a meeting of judges had been held and that he had been advised to pass a life sentence. What he really meant to say was that he had anxiously considered whether anything less would be adequate to satisfy the Bank of England. He went on to say that we had not only inflicted great loss on the bank, but had also seriously discredited that great institution in the eyes of the public. He continued: "It is difficult to see the motives for this crime; it was not want, for you were in possession of a large sum of money. You are men of education, some of you speak the Continental languages, and you have traveled considerably. I see no reason to make any distinction between you, and let it be understood from the sentence which I am about to pass upon you that men of education"—and he might have added, what he undoubtedly thought, Americans—"who commit crimes which none but men of education can commit must expect a terrible retribution, and that sentence is penal servitude for life, and I further order that each one of you[Pg 388] pay one-fourth of the costs of prosecution—£49,000, or $245,000 in all."

And, after all, what aroused so greatly his indignation? It was simply this—because we were youngsters and Americans, and had successfully assaulted the fondly imagined impregnable Bank of England, and, worse still, had held up to the laughter of the whole world its red-tape idiotic management, for had the bank asked so common a thing as a reference the fraud would have been made impossible.

Let my reader contrast this modern Jeffreys, his savage tirade, and, for an offense against property, this most brutal sentence, with the treatment of the Warwickshire bank wreckers. Greenaway, the manager of this bank, and three of the directors by false balance sheets and perjured reports for years had looted the bank, finally robbing the depositors of £1,000,000, several of whom committed suicide and thousands more of whom were ruined.

They were tried, convicted, and in being sentenced were told that, being men of high social position, the disgrace in itself was a severe punishment; therefore, he should take that fact into consideration, and ended by sentencing two to eight months', one to twelve and one to fourteen months' imprisonment.

We were sentenced late at night—nearly 10 o'clock—a smoky, foggy London night. The court was packed, the corridors crowded, and when the jury came in with their verdict the suppressed excitement found vent. But when the vindictive and unheard-of sentence fell from the lips of this villain Judge an exclamation of horror fell from that crowded court.

We turned from the Judge and went down the stairs to the entrance to the underground passage leading to Newgate. There we halted to say farewell.


To say farewell! Yes. The Primrose Way had come to an end, but we were comrades and friends still, and in order[Pg 389] that in the gloom of the slow-moving days and the blackness and thick horror of the years to come we might have some thought in common, we then and there promised—what could we poor, broken bankrupts promise?

Where or to what in the thick horror enshrouding us could we turn? We had

"Nothing left us to call our own save death,
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones;"

nothing but a grave, that

"Small model of the barren earth,"

with dishonor and degradation for our epitaph!

But there, in the very instant of our overwhelming defeat, standing in the dark mouth of the stone conduit leading from the Old Bailey to the dungeons of Newgate, by virtue of the high resolve we made, we conquered Fate at her worst, and by our act in establishing a secret bond of sympathy in our separation dropped the bad, disastrous past, and starting on new things planted our feet on the bottom round of the ladder of success, feeling that, with plenty of faith and endurance, Fortune, frown as she might now, must in some distant day turn her wheel and smile again.

And what was this act? Why, it was a simple one, but bore in it the germ of great things.

As we halted there in the gloom we swore never to give in, however they might starve us, even grind us to powder, as we felt they would certainly try to do. We knew that in their anxiety about our souls they would be sure kindly to furnish each with a Bible, and we promised to read one chapter every day consecutively, and, while reading the same chapter at the same hour, think of the others. For twenty years we kept the promise. Then, making the resolve mentioned in the beginning of this book, I marched back to my cell. The door was opened and closed behind me, leaving[Pg 390] me in pitch darkness—a convict in my dungeon. Dressed as I was I lay down on the little bed there, and through all that long and terrible night, with a million dread images rushing through my brain, I lay passive, with wide-open eyes, staring into the darkness, conscious that sanity and insanity were struggling for mastery in my brain, while I, like some interested spectator, watched the struggle; or, again, I was struggling in the air with some powerful but viewless monster form, that clutched my throat with iron fingers, but whose body was impalpable to the grasp of my hands. A mighty space, an eternity of time and daylight came. Then, like one in a dream, I rose mechanically, and, finding the pin I had secreted, I stood on the little wooden bench, and, impelled by some spiritual but irresistible force, I scratched on the wall the message I had resolved to leave:

"In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men."

Then I thought of my friends and my promise, and, like one in a dream, I took the ill-smelling and dirty little Bible from the shelf, and, turning to the first chapter, read:

"And the spirit of God moved upon the waters." ...
"And God said let there be light, and there was light."

Then the book fell from my hand, and I remembered no more. My mind had gone whirling into the abyss.

I was sentenced on Wednesday. For three days, from Thursday to Sunday, my mind was a blank. I have no recollection of my removal under escort from Newgate to Pentonville.

On Sunday, the fourth day of my sentence, like one rousing from a trance, I awoke to find myself shaven and shorn, dressed in a coarse convict uniform, in a rough cell of white-washed brick. The small window had heavy double bars set with thick fluted glass, which, while admitting light, foiled any attempt of the eye to discern objects without. In the[Pg 391] corner there was a rusty iron shelf. A board let into the brickwork served for bed, bench and table. A zinc jug and basin for water, with a wooden plate, spoon and salt dish (no knife or fork for twenty years!) completed the furnishings.

As I was looking around in a helpless way a key suddenly rattled in the lock and, the door opening, a uniformed warder stepped in and, giving me a searching look, said in a rough voice: "Come on; you'll do for chapel; you have put on the balmy long enough." His kindly face belied his rough tones, and I followed him out of the door and soon found myself in the prison chapel. None was present, and I was ordered to sit on the front bench at the far end. The benches were simply common flat boards ranged in rows. Soon the prisoners came in singly, marching about two yards apart, and sat on the benches with that interval between them—that is, in the division of the chapel where I sat, it being separated from the rest by a high partition. Soon a white-robed, surpliced clergyman came in, and the service began; but I had no eye or ear, nor any comprehension save in a dim manner, as to what was going on. My brain was trying to connect the past and the present, feeling that something terrible had befallen me, but what it was I could not understand. When the services were over I returned under the escort of the warder, who, when I arrived at my cell, ordered me to go in and close the door, which I did, banging it behind me. It had a spring lock, and when I heard the snap of the catch and looked at the narrow, barred window, with its thick, fluted glass admitting only a dim light, I remembered everything. Like a flash it all came to me, and I realized the full horror of my position. Sitting down on the little board fastened to the wall, serving as bed, seat and table, I buried my face in my hands and began to ponder. Regrets came in floods, with remorse and despair, hand in hand, when, realizing that it was madness to think, I sprang up, saying to myself the[Pg 392] hour and minute had come for me to decide—either for madness and a convict's dishonored grave, or to keep the promise I had made to my friends—never to give in, but to live and conquer fate.

I determined then and there to live in the future, and never to dwell on the horrible present or past. Then I remembered the last scene in Newgate and my promise to accompany my friends step by step, day by day, in our readings. Finding a Bible on the little rusty iron shelf in the corner, and this being the fourth day of our sentence, I turned to the fourth chapter. It gives the story of Cain's crime and punishment, and I read the graphic narrative with an intensity of interest difficult to describe. When I read, "And Cain said unto the Lord, my punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth," I felt that the cry of Cain in all its intense naturalness, in its remorse and despair, was my own, and I was overcome. Laying the book down, I walked the floor for an hour in agony, until fantastic images came thronging thick and fast to my brain. I realized that my mind was going and felt I must do something to make me forget my misery.

I opened the Bible at random and my eye caught the word "misery." I looked closely at the verse and read:

"Thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away."

I threw the book down, crying with vehemence, "That's a lie! God never gives something for nothing." Soon I opened the book again and looked at the context. Those of my readers who care to do so can do the same. The verse is Job xi., 16. The context begins at verse 13. From that hour I never despaired again.

The same day I began committing the Book of Job to memory, and worked for dear life and reason. I became interested, and my interest in that wondrous poem deepened[Pg 393] until the study became a passion. Thus I turned the whole current of my thoughts into a new channel. Reason came back, and with it resolution and courage and strength.

I was in Pentonville Prison, in the suburbs of London. All men convicted in England are sent to this prison to undergo one year's solitary confinement. At the completion of the year they are drafted away to the public works' prisons, where, working in gangs, they complete their sentences.

Of my experience in Pentonville during my year of solitude it suffices to say that, passing through a great deal of mental conflict, I found I had grown stronger and was eager for transfer to the other prison, where I could for a few hours each day at least look on the sky and the faces of my fellow men.

At last the day of transfer came, and, escorted by two uniformed and armed warders, I was taken to the famous Chatham Prison, twenty-seven miles from London on the river Medway....

"You were sent here to work, and you will have to do it or I will make you suffer for it," was the friendly greeting that fell on my ears as I stood before a pompous little fellow (an ex-major from the army) at Chatham Prison one lovely morning in 1874.

I had arrived there under escort but an hour before, strong in the resolve to obey the regulations if I could, and never to give in if I had a fair chance; also with a desperate resolve never to submit to persecution, come what might, and these resolutions saved me—but only by a steady and dogged adherence to them on many occasions, through many years and amid surroundings that might well make me—as it did and does many good men—desperate and utterly reckless.

After a few more remarks of a very personal and pungent nature the little fellow marched off with a delicious swagger and an heroical air. I at once turned to the warder and asked, "Who is that little fellow?" "The Governor!" he[Pg 394] gasped out. "If he had only heard you!" and then followed a pantomime that implied something very dreadful. Then I marched off to the doctor, and next to the chaplain, who (knowing who I was) asked me if I could read and write, to which I meekly replied, "Yes, sir;" but apparently being doubtful upon the point he gave me a book. Opening it and pretending to read, I said in a solemn tone of voice: "When time and place adhere write me down an ass." He took the book from me, looked at the open page, gazed solemnly in my face with a funny wagging of his head, as much as to say, "you will come to no good," and followed the little major.

Then my cicerone took me into the main building, filled up to the brim with what seemed to be little brick and stone boxes, and, halting in front of one, said, "This is your cell." Looking around to see if it was safe to talk, he began to question me rapidly about my case, and getting no satisfaction he wound up the questioning with the remark: "Well, you tried to take all our money over to America." Then, becoming confidential, he told me what wicked fellows the other prisoners were, chiefly because they went to the Governor and reported the officers, charging them with maltreatment and bullying particularly, and knocking them about generally. Of course, the warders never did such things, but were really of a very lamblike and gentle nature. In order to back up their lies the prisoners would knock their own heads against the walls and then swear by everything good that some one of the warders had done it. I said, perhaps he had.

[Pg 395]
[Pg 396]

Well, he said, perhaps an officer might give a man "a little clip," but never so as to hurt him, and "only in fun, you know." I felt at the time that I would never learn to appreciate Chatham "fun," but on the very next day I was convinced of it when a man named Farrier pulled out from his waistband a piece of rag, and, unrolling it, produced two of[Pg 397] his front teeth with the information that a certain warder had struck him with his fist in the mouth and knocked them out.

But to return to my narrative. After many "wise saws and modern instances," he locked me up in the little brick and stone box and departed, having first informed me that I "would go out to labor in the morning."

I looked about my little box with a mixture of curiosity and consternation, for the thought smote me with blinding force that for long years that little box—eight feet six inches in length, seven feet in height and five feet in width, with its floor and roof of stone—would be my only home—would be! must be! and no power could avert my fate.

On the small iron shelf I found a tin dish used by some previous occupant, and smeared inside and out with gruel. There being no water in my jug, when the men came in for dinner, I, in my innocence, asked one of the officers for some water to wash the dish. He looked at me with great contempt and said: "You are a precious flat; lick it off, man. Before long you won't waste gruel by washing your tin dish. You won't be here many days and want to use water to clean your pint."

After dinner I saw the men marched out to labor, and was amazed to see their famished, wolfish looks—thin, gaunt and almost disguised out of all human resemblance by their ill-fitting, mud-covered garments and mud-splashed faces and hands. I myself was kept in, but the weary, almost ghastly spectre march I had witnessed constantly haunted me, and I said, "Will I ever resemble them?" And youthful spirit and pride rushed to the front and cried, "Never!"

Night and supper (eight ounces of brown bread) came at length, and I rose up from my meal cheerful and resolute to meet the worst, be it what it might short of deliberate persecution, with a stout heart and faith that at last all would be well.[Pg 398]

In the morning I arose, had my breakfast (nine ounces of brown bread and one pint of gruel), and was eager to learn what this "labor" meant. I was prepared for much, but not for the grim reality. I had been ordered to join eighty-two party—a brickmaking party, but working in the "mud districts." So we, along with 1,200 others, marched out to our work, and as soon as we were outside of the prison grounds I saw a sight that, while it explained the mud-splashed appearance of my spectral array, was enough to daunt any man doomed to join in the game. Mud, mud everywhere, with groups of weary men with shovel, or shovel and barrow, working in it. A sort of road had been made over the mud with ashes and cinders, and our party of twenty-two men, with five other parties, moved steadily on for about a mile until we came to the clay banks or pits. Fortunately we had a very good officer by the name of James. He wanted the work done, and used his tongue pretty freely; still he was a man who would speak the truth, and treated his men as well as he dared to do under the brutal regime ruling in Chatham. He speedily told me off to a barrow and spade, and I was fully enlisted as barrow-and-spade man to Her Majesty.

A steam mill, or "pug," like a monster coffee mill, was used for mixing the clay and sand and delivering it in form of bricks below, where another party received them and laid them out to dry, preparatory to burning. Our duty was "to keep the pug going"—keep it full of clay to the top. The clay was in a high bank; we dug into it from the bottom with our spades, and filled it as fast as possible into our barrows. In front of each man was a "run," formed by a line of planks only eight inches in width, and all converging toward and meeting near the "pug." The distance we were wheeling was from thirty to forty yards, end the incline was really very steep; but that in itself would not have been so bad, but the labor of digging out the clay was severe, and[Pg 399] that everlasting "pug" was as hungry as if it were in the habit of taking "Plantation Bitters" to give it an appetite.

One had no period of rest between the filling of one's barrow and the start up the run. In an hour's time my poor hands were covered with blood blisters, and my left knee was a lame duck indeed, made so by the slight wrench given it each time I struck in my spade with my left foot; but I made no complaint. About 10 o'clock the man next to me with an oath threw down his spade and vowed he would do no more work. Putting on his vest and packet, he walked up to the warder, and quite as a matter of course turned his back to him and put both hands behind him. The warder produced a pair of handcuffs, and without any comment handcuffed his hands in that position, and then told him to stand with his back to the work. No one took the slightest notice and the toil did not slacken for an instant, but one man was out of the game, and we had to make his side good.

Noon came at last. We dropped our spades, hastily slipped on our jackets and at once set off at a quick march for the prison. I naturally looked at the various gangs piloting their way through the mud and all steering in a straight line for the Appian way whereon we were, for, as all roads lead to Rome, so all the sticky ways "on the works" led to the prison. Our laconic friend was trudging on behind the party, and to my surprise I noticed that several of the other parties had un enfant perdu, hands behind his back, marching in the rear, and as soon as we reached the prison each poor sheep in the rear fell out quite as a matter of course. When all the men were in, a warder came up and gave the order, "Right turn! Forward!" and off the poor fellows marched to the punishment cells for three days' bread and water each, and no bed, unless one designates an oak plank as such. It was all very sad; 'twas pitiful to see the matter-of-fact way in which every one concerned took it all.[Pg 400]

So my first day in the mud and clay came to an end, and I found myself once more in my little box with a night before me for rest and thought. Although I had suffered, yet there were grounds for gratitude and hope, and I felt that I might regard the future steadily and without despair.


[Pg 401]



The first day was over, but it seemed to me that something more must come. That what I had gone through could mean the life of a day must surely be impossible. Was there nothing before me but isolation so complete that no whisper from the outside world could reach me, that world which compared with the death into which I was being absorbed seemed the only world of the living?

Had I actually nothing to look for but the most repulsive work under the most repulsive conditions? I said there must be surely some change, that wheeling mud forever was not the doom of any man and could certainly not be mine.

I looked about my little cell, the stillness of the grave without, the utter solitude within. The ration which formed my supper was on the table, eight ounces of black bread. Try as I might to cheat myself with hope, I knew that hope for many a long year there was none, that so far as the most vindictive sentence could compass it, for many a long year the earth with her bars was about me.

No "De Profundis" cry could ever ascend from the abyss to the bottom of which I had fallen. What was outside of me had nothing but the hideous.

But although the visible seemed corruption, and the things which my soul, and body, too, had refused to touch were become my sorrowful meat, yet I could not but feel[Pg 402] that the invisible, that part of me which no bars could hold and no man deprive me of, was still my own, and that in it I might and would find sufficient to support what I began to feel was, after all, the only man.

To face the actualities of the position was the first thing; not to cheat myself, the second. I had seen the sort of men I was to be with. I set to work to study and to understand the kind of life we were to live together.

At early dawn we rose, receiving immediately after the nine ounces of bread and pint of oatmeal gruel which composed breakfast. At 6.30, to chapel to hear one of the schoolmasters drone through the morning prayers of the English Church service, and listen to some hymn shouted out from throats never accustomed to such accents. Then the morning hours would drag slowly on in the Summer's sun and Winter's blast until the noon hour; then there was the long march back from the scene of my toil to the prison for dinner. Arriving there, each man went to his cell, closing his door, which snapped to, having a spring lock. Soon after a dinner is given consisting of sixteen ounces of boiled potatoes and five ounces of bread, varied on three days of the week with five ounces of meat additional. At 1 o'clock the doors were unlocked and we marched out to our work again. At night, returning to the prison, eight ounces of black bread would be doled out for supper. Then came the hours between supper and bedtime, when shut in between those narrow walls one realized what it was to be a prisoner.

In the corner of the cell there was a board let into the stonework. There was a thin pallet and two blankets rolled up together during the day in a corner of the cell that served for bedding, but so thin and hard was the pallet that one might almost as well have slept on the board. For the first few weeks this bed made my bones ache. Most men have little patience and small fortitude, and this bed kills many[Pg 403] of the prisoners. I mean breaks their hearts, simply because they have not the wit to accept the matter philosophically and realize that they can soon become used to any hardship. It took six months for my bones to become used to the hard bed, but for the next nineteen years I used to sleep as sweetly on that oak board as I ever did or now do in a bed of down, only, like Jean Valjean, in "Les Miserables," I had become so used to it that upon my liberation I found it impossible for a time to sleep in a bed.

On a little rusty iron shelf, fixed in the corner, was our tinware. Although called tinware, it really was zinc, and was susceptible, through much hard work, of a high polish, but this "polishing tinware" was a fearful curse to the poor prisoner. It consisted of a jug for water and a bowl for washing in and a pint dish for gruel. There were strict and imperative orders, rigidly enforced, that this tinware should be kept polished, the result being that the men never washed themselves, and never took water in their jugs, for if they did their tinware would take a stain—"go off," as it was termed—the result being that if the poor devil washed and kept himself clean he would be reported and severely punished for having dirty tinware.

A prisoner is not permitted to receive anything from his friends or communicate with them in any way, save only once in three months he is permitted to write and receive a letter, provided he is a good character and has not been reported for any infraction of the rules for three months; for if reported for any cause, however trifling, the privilege of writing is postponed for three months, and, as a matter of fact, more than half of the men never get a chance to write during their imprisonment.

A visit of half an hour once in three months is permitted, but this is a favor that is only granted upon the same condition as the privilege of letter writing.[Pg 404]



It will be well to present here some account of those who were to rule my life for so many years.

The Board of Prison Commissioners have their headquarters at the Home Office in Parliament street, London, and are under the control of the Home Secretary of State. One of these visits each of Her Majesty's convict establishments once a month, in order to try any cases of insubordination which are of too serious a nature for the governor of the prison to adjudicate upon, he not being permitted to order any penalty beyond a few days of bread and water and loss of a limited number of remission marks.

The head authority at each prison is the governor, of whom the largest establishments, like Chatham, have two. Next comes the deputy governors—the medical officer and an assistant doctor; the chaplains and schoolmasters, Protestant and Catholic. There are four grades of prison warders, viz., the chief warder, principal warders, warders and assistant warders. The chief warder, of course, stands first in the list, and his duties, if honestly executed, render him the most important, as he is the most responsible of the prison officials, save, perhaps, the medical officer, who is the autocrat of the place. But, in case anything goes wrong, he is the man who gets all the blame, and when matters run smoothly and well, the governor gets all the thanks. During the absence of the governor the deputy takes his[Pg 405] place, and in turn the chief warder performs the duties of the deputy governor's office. As all business passes through the chief's hands, he must be a fair scholar, though sometimes a principal warder who understands bookkeeping is detailed to assist him. He must be of strict integrity, a thorough disciplinarian, and of a character to make him respected both by his superiors and inferiors in position. The warders of all grades are under his command, and must fear him for his inflexibility in punishing any breach of regulations, and have confidence in his disposition to act justly toward them, he being the one on whom the governor relies for all information regarding their conduct. It is on the reports of the chief warder that the governor acts in all cases involving their promotion, reprimands or fines, and their application for leave of absence must be approved of and signed by him. It is clear that unless he is very straight in the performance of his duties, he would soon place himself in the power of some of the warders, who would not fail to take advantage of any knowledge of his derelictions to benefit themselves, and to the detriment of discipline and good order. Under the English Government the salary of a man possessing these superior qualifications is between $500 and $600 a year and his uniform. This is of blue cloth, the sleeves and collar of his coat and his cap embroidered with gold lace. On alternate days, at the prison where I was confined, he came on duty at 5 a.m. in Summer and 5.30 in Winter, and left the prison at 4 p.m., leaving in charge a principal warder, coming on duty the following morning at 7 a.m. At 6 o'clock p.m., after receiving the reports from the ward officers, stating the number of prisoners each has just locked up, and thus seeing that all are safe, he locks with his master key the gates and outer doors of the main buildings, and before finally retiring for the night he must lock the outer gate, so that no one but the governor can get in or out—each watchman being locked[Pg 406] into the ward which he is set to guard. There are bells in his room connecting with the various wards, and in case of sickness or any other emergency, he is the man who is aroused. It is the chief warder who keeps everything connected with the prison in running order, and whatever goes wrong the cry is for the chief, and he is sent for, be it day or night.

In a large establishment there are a dozen or more principal warders. These are the lieutenants of the chief, and have general supervision of the working parties. Their pay is about $400 a year and uniforms. There are of the other two grades, warders and assistant warders, from two to three thousand employed in all Her Majesty's prisons in Great Britain and Ireland. Warders and assistant warders are provided with a short, heavy truncheon, which each carries in his hand or in a leather sheath which hangs from his belt, to which is also attached a sort of cartouch box in which he keeps the keys, which are fastened to a chain, the other end to his belt. When about to leave the prison, on going off duty, he must hang up the belt and attachments in the chief warder's office. Their pay, besides uniforms, which are of blue cloth, is $350 a year for warders and $300 for assistant warders. All promotions are by seniority. In case of transfer by authorities to any other prison, they retain their position in the line of promotion, but if they volunteer or make application to be transferred they have to begin at the bottom in reckoning the length of service for promotion. When the authorities wish to transfer warders, it is usual for them to call for volunteers, of whom they find a sufficient number anxious for a change, unless the transfer is to an unpopular station, such as Dartmoor, which is among the bogs, and a lonely, bleak place.


Warders are exempted from doing night duty, which is all done by the assistant warders, who are on that service one week out of three. Although when on night duty they[Pg 407] had the day for sleep and recreation, I never saw one who did not detest it, because they must remain on duty continuously for twelve hours, and must not read, sit down nor lean against anything, nor have their hands behind them. These military regulations apply as well to the whole time they are on duty in the prison, day or night. A few years ago the time of daily duty was reduced to twelve hours, with one hour at noon for dinner. Besides this, at times they must do a good deal of extra duty. Each is allowed ten days annual holiday, but is frequently obliged to take it piecemeal, a day or two at a time, so that he cannot go far away from the scene of his servitude. Their duties require unflagging attention and never-ceasing vigilance, which must be a heavy tax on the brain, and the twelve hours must be passed in standing or walking about. In fact, they are subjected to military discipline, or rather despotism, and any known infraction of the rules subjects them to penalties according to the nature of the offense. Leaning against a wall, sitting down, etc., for a first offense, they are mulcted in a small sum—12 to 60 cents, usually—and are put back in the line of promotion. The fines go to the Officers' Library fund. I knew one officer, Joseph Matthews, who had been assistant warder twenty years, and, being frequently set back for doing some small favor to prisoners, was discharged from the service in 1886, without a pension, for some slight breach of regulations. He had a wife and six children, and had worked twenty years for less than $7 per week. For giving a convict a small bit of tobacco, a heavy fine, suspension, and in case it was not the first offense, expulsion from the service without a pension. For acting the go-between and facilitating correspondence with the friends of convicts, expulsion—possibly imprisonment. One of the assistant warders, who was convicted of having received a bribe of £100 from one of us at Newgate, was expelled from the service and imprisoned eighteen months. Another at[Pg 408] Portsmouth Prison underwent the same fate, save that his term was but six months, for sending and receiving letters for a prisoner, and similar cases are of frequent occurrence.

The warders and assistant warders are the ones who come in direct and constant contact with prisoners, and when the eye of no superior authority is on them, or nothing else to deter, they are "hail fellow well met" with such of the convicts as are unprincipled enough to curry favor with and assist them in covering up their peccadilloes from their superiors. They naturally recoil at the hardness and parsimony of the Government toward them, evading the performance of duties when they can, and I have heard more than one say: "Why should we care what prisoners do, so long as we don't get into trouble? The Government grinds us down to twelve hours' daily duty on just pay enough to keep body and soul together; then, if we complain, tells us that we can leave if we like, as there are others ready to step into our places. Bah! what do we care for the Government? It is of no benefit to us; the big guns get big pay, and the higher up the office the more the pay and the less the work. To be sure, we can go out of the prison to sleep, but otherwise we are bound as closely as you are." Yet these very warders, the moment any superior authority appears on the scene, are as obsequious and fawning as whipped dogs, and recoup themselves for this forced humiliation by taking it out of such of the convicts as fail to curry their favor, or offend, or make them trouble. Surely their office is a very responsible one, and it is blind, false economy to retain low-priced men in such a position. The present English system of penal servitude is perfect on paper, but the moral qualities of most of the warders and assistant warders preclude all possibility of the reformation of those in their charge.

Notwithstanding the expositions of the English delegates at the international meetings, prison reform has never yet been tried in Great Britain and Ireland. In other words, all[Pg 409] efforts in that direction have been defeated by placing convicts in the immediate charge of a class of men who, by education and training, possess none of the qualifications requisite for such a responsible position.

In so far as forms are concerned, the business of the prison is carried on most systematically. There are blank forms which cover everything, from provisioning the prison to bathing the men, and these must be filled in and signed by the warder in charge of the particular work being done. For example, every week he must fill in the proper form and certify that every man in his ward has had a bath. I have known men to go unbathed for many months, simply because they did not wish to bathe, and it saved the warder trouble—nearly all others in the ward only bathed about once a month, and yet at the stated times the officer filled up and signed the form, certifying to the superior authorities that those in his ward had been bathed at the regulation times.

A great majority of the officers are soldiers who have been invalided or pensioned off after doing the full term for which they enlisted—twelve years—and of sailors in the same condition. In order to encourage enlistment into the army and navy, the Government gives discharged soldiers and sailors the preference in the civil service, apparently heedless as to their moral qualifications. Indeed, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain about these, for the very nature and present requirements of these services tend to harden and make men conscienceless, subservient and fawning toward their superiors, and tyrannical to those in their power.

As to those in the prison service, there are many who would be good men in a situation suited to their acquirements, and there are but a few of those who are brought into immediate contact with the men—who, in fact, virtually hold the power of life and death over them—whose influence is of an elevating or reforming kind. Indeed, I have heard[Pg 410] many of them telling or exchanging obscene stories with prisoners, and using the vilest language and bandying thieves' slang, in which they become proficient. I am bold to say that at least one-half of all I have known are in morals on a level with the average prisoner, or, as I have heard more than one assistant warder say, "Too much of a coward to steal, ashamed to beg and too lazy to work"—therefore became a soldier, then a warder. This may, at the moment, have been spoken in a jesting way, but it is none the less true.

What can be expected in the way of refinement and good morals from a class of men who entered the army or navy, coming, as they did in most cases, from the untaught and mind-debased multitude with which that land of drink and debauchery swarms?

It will be seen from the foregoing that very much is expected from them, and in order to fulfill the very hard terms of their contract with the Government, and keep their places, they are forced to resort to trickery, deception and perjury, until these, in their attitude toward their employer, the Government, become second nature, readily resorting to lies to clear themselves from blame, even in trivial matters, to save themselves from a sixpence fine. There are jealousies among themselves, but when it is a question of deceiving or keeping any neglect of duties or violences against prisoners from the superior authorities they all unite as one man and affirm or swear to anything they think the position requires.

A real pleasure was derived from those prisoners' friends, the rats and mice, which I easily tamed and taught to be my companions.

"COME ON. YOU ARE FREE."—Page 480. "COME ON. YOU ARE FREE."—Page 480.

Not long after my arrival a prisoner gave me a young rat which became the solace of an otherwise miserable existence. Nothing could he cleaner in its habits or more affectionate in disposition than this pet member of a despised race of rodents. It passed all its leisure time in preening its fur, and after eating always most scrupulously cleaned[Pg 411] its hands and face. It was easily taught, and in course of time it could perform many surprising feats. I made a small trapeze, the bar being a slate pencil about four inches long, which was wound with yarn and hung from strings of the same; and on this the rat would perform like an acrobat, appearing to enjoy the exercise as much as the performance always delighted me. I made a long cord out of yarn, on which it would climb exactly in the manner in which a sailor shins up a rope; and when the cord was stretched horizontally it would let its body sway under and travel along the cord, clinging by its hands and feet like a human performer.

A rat's natural position when eating a piece of bread is to sit on its haunches, but I had trained this rat to stand upright on its feet, with its head up like a soldier. Placing it in front of me on the bed, I would hand it a piece of bread, which it would hold up to its mouth with its hands while standing erect. Keeping one sharp eye on me and the other on its food, the moment it noticed that I was not looking it would gradually settle down upon its haunches. When my eyes turned on it it would instantly straighten itself up like a schoolboy caught in some mischief. It always showed great jealousy of my tame mice, and I had to be very careful not to let it get a chance to get at one. On one occasion I was training one of the mice, and did not notice that the rat was near. Suddenly, like a flash, it leaped nearly two feet, seizing the mouse by the neck precisely as a tiger seizes its prey. Although I instantly snatched it away, it was too late, the one fierce bite having severed the jugular.

I have mentioned mice, and indeed they were most interesting pets, easily trained and as scrupulously clean and neat as any creature of a higher race could be. I at times had a half dozen of them, which I had caught in the following simple way: I first stuck a small bit of bread on the inside[Pg 412] of my pint tin cup, about half way down; then turning it bottom up on the floor, I raised one edge just high enough so that a mouse could enter, and let the edge of the cup rest on a splinter. It would not be long before one would enter, and as it could not reach the bread otherwise it stood up, putting its hands against the sides of the cup, thus over-balancing it, causing the cup to drop, and simple mousie would find itself also a prisoner.

Although there was an order that no prisoner should be permitted to have any kind of pets, especially rats and mice, and as the prison swarmed with these, the warders had become tired of being obliged to turn over the cells and prisoners daily in search of these contraband favorites, the loss of which generally provoked the owners to insubordination; in consequence of which there was a tacit understanding that they were not to be interfered with, provided they were kept out of sight when the governor made his rounds.

Nothing could overcome the jealousy of my otherwise gentle rat when it saw me petting a mouse, and it would watch for an opportunity to spring upon its diminutive rival and put a speedy end to its career.

I had one mouse which to its other accomplishments added the following: It would lie in the palm of my open hand, with its four legs up in the air, pretending to be dead, only the little creature kept its bright eyes wide open, fixed on my face. As soon as I said, "Come to life!" it would spring up, rush along my arm and disappear into my bosom like a flash.[Pg 413]

1 Austin——. 2 Geo. McDonald. 3 Officer. 4 Geo. Bidwell.
5 Officer. 6 Noyes. 7 Mr. Straight, Q.C. McDONALD SPEAKING TO MR.
STRAIGHT, Q.C., DURING THE TRIAL. 1 Austin ——. 2 Geo. McDonald. 3 Officer. 4 Geo. Bidwell. 5 Officer. 6 Noyes. 7 Mr. Straight, Q.C.

I had a mouse trained the same as the one above described, and was in dread lest a warder should see and destroy it. Therefore, in the hope of getting a guarantee for its safety, one day when the medical officer on his round came to my cell with his retinue I put my mouse through the "dead dog" performance. The little fellow lay exposed[Pg 414] in my hand with one of its twinkling eyes fixed on me, and the other on these strangers. Such was its confidence in me that it went through the performance perfectly, and when I gave the signal in an instant it was in my (as the poor thing believed) protecting bosom. The doctors laughed, and the retinue of course followed suit—if they had frowned the latter would have done likewise. The doctors appeared so pleased that I felt certain they would order the warder, as was in their power, to let me keep my harmless pet, the sole companion of my solitude and misery, unmolested.

They went outside the cell and lingered; in a moment then the warder came in, and after a struggle got the mouse out of my bosom and put his heel upon it. I am not ashamed to confess that I cried over the loss of this poor little victim of overconfidence in human beings.

I once procured a beetle with red stripes across its wing-sheaths, and trained it to show some degree of intelligence. This was for months the sole companion of my solitude, but it was at last discovered in my possession and taken away.

[Pg 415]

I made friends with the flies, and found that they displayed no small degree of intelligence. I soon had a dozen tamed, and in the course of my long observations I discovered, among other things, that the males were very tyrannical over the fair sex, and tried to prevent them from getting any of the food. In the Summer mornings at daylight they would gather on the wall next my bed and wait patiently until I placed a little chewed bread on the back of my hand, when instantly there was a rush, and the first one who got possession, if a male, tried to prevent the rest from alighting, and would dart at the nearest, chasing it in zig-zags far away. In the mean time another would have attained possession, and it went for the next corner, and for a long time there would be a succession of fierce encounters, until at last all had made good their footing and feasted harmoniously; for as fast as one succeeded in alighting it[Pg 416] was let alone. Sometimes a male would take possession of my forehead, and, in case I left him unmolested, he would keep off intruders on what he evidently considered his domain by darting at them in a ferocious manner. On one occasion I noticed a fly that had one of its hind legs turned up, apparently out of joint. As it was feeding on my hand I tried to put my finger on the leg to press it down. During three or four such attempts it moved away, after which it appeared to recognize my kind intention and stood perfectly still while I pressed on the leg. It may be unnecessary to add that I failed in performing a successful surgical operation.

As the Winter approached the flies began to lose their legs and wings; those that lost their wings would walk along the wall until they came to the usual waiting spot, and as soon as I put a finger against the wall the maimed creature would crawl to the usual place on my hand for breakfast. Indeed, the long years of solitude had produced in me such an unutterable longing for the companionship of something which had life that I never destroyed any kind of insect which found its way into my cell—even when mosquitoes lit on my face I always let them have their fill undisturbed, and felt well repaid by getting a glimpse of them as they flew and with the music of their buzzing.[Pg 417]



In the cell next to mine was a prison genius named Heep, who was one of the most singular characters I ever met. As I shall have occasion to speak of him frequently, I may as well give here a sketch of his life as related to me by himself. He was born in the town of Macclesfield, near Manchester, in 1852, of respectable mechanics, or tradespeople as they are called in England. His father died when Heep was about 5 years of age, and after a time his mother married a carpenter and joiner of the place.

Young Heep was a lively child, up to all sorts of tricks, and does not remember the time since he could walk that he was not in some mischief, and, as he remarked, "took to all sorts of deviltry as naturally as a duck to water." As long as his father lived there was not much check on his mischievous propensities, but his stepfather proved to be a severe and stern judge, and brought him to book for every irregularity, thrashing him most unmercifully for each offense. His mother could not have filled her maternal duty very judiciously, judging from the fact that before he was 12 years old she set him to follow and watch his stepfather to the house of a woman of whom she was jealous. The boy possessed great natural abilities, and in good hands would have turned out something different than a life-long prison drudge. He was handsome, genteel in[Pg 418] appearance, an apt scholar, though very self-willed and headstrong, and as he grew up his naturally hot temper became uncontrollable. At an early age he had discovered that by threats of self-injury he could bend his parents to his wishes, but found in his stepfather one who would put up with no nonsense; even when he cut himself so as to bleed freely, instead of the coveted indulgence it only procured him an additional thrashing.

At 15 he had become ungovernable at home, and his father had him put in the county insane asylum, where he remained a year and a half. While there he caused so much trouble that the attendants were only too glad when he escaped and went to Liverpool. Here he succeeded in getting a situation with a dealer in bric-a-brac, rare books and antiquities. In a short time the proprietor placed so much confidence in his integrity that he gave him the charge of his place during his own absences, and young Heep was not long in taking advantage of his position to rob his employer by taking a book or other article which he sold to some one of his master's customers. This went on for some time until on one occasion he took the book to a shop kept by a woman to whom he had previously sold several articles and offered it for a sovereign. She examined it and found that it was an ancient, illuminated Greek manuscript, worth fifty times more than the price young Heep asked for it, and, suspecting something wrong, she told him to come again for the money the next evening. At the appointed time he entered the place and was confronted by his master, who contented himself with upbraiding him for his perfidy and discharging him from his service.

At this period of his career he had contracted vicious habits, the most pernicious for him being that of drink, for when sober he was in his right mind, but the moment the drink was in his common sense departed, and he became[Pg 419] a raving maniac, ready to fight or perpetrate any other act of folly. Up to this time he had never been tempted to steal only in order to supply means for improper indulgences.

Not long after being discharged from his situation he was found by the police acting in so insane a manner under the influence of drink that the magistrate before whom he was taken had him sent to the Raynell lunatic asylum. Here, being perfectly reckless, he carried on all sorts of games which made him obnoxious, although making himself very useful in work which he liked, such as gardening, etc. He also took up fancy painting and soon became a skillful copyist of prints of any description, enlarging or reducing, and painting them in oil or water colors. He also became a good decorator and scene painter, besides devoting time to various studies, including music.

At last he found means to effect his escape and lay in hiding until night; then as he had on the asylum clothes, which would betray him, he went back and got in through the window of the tailors' shop, which was in an isolated building, and exchanged the clothes he had on for a suit belonging to one of the attendants. Thinking himself now safe from recognition he started off across the country, but had not gone more than twenty miles when, in passing through a small town, a policeman who had just heard of the escape from Raynell arrested him on suspicion.

The Raynell authorities sent some one to identify him; he was taken back, tried on the charge of stealing the attendant's suit of clothes, which he still had on, was convicted by the usual intelligent jury and sentenced to five years' penal servitude.

He finished his term of imprisonment at Chatham, and instead of being set at liberty was sent under guard back to the asylum!

According to English law, if a person confined in a lunatic asylum escapes and keeps away fourteen days he[Pg 420] cannot after that be arrested, unless he commits fresh acts of insanity.

After several futile attempts he at last made good his escape and obtained work with a farmer, where he remained safe for thirteen days, and was congratulating himself that in less than another day he would be free, when his thoughts were broken off by the appearance of two attendants who seized and carried him back to the asylum.

The events above narrated had driven him into a state of desperation at what he felt to be gross injustice, and he carried on in such a way that the doctor ordered his head to be shaved and blistered as a punishment, the straitjacket and all other coercive measures having been of no avail. The night watchman had orders to watch him closely, but he kept so sharp an eye on the watchman that he caught him asleep, and, creeping to the closet window, which he had previously tampered with, crept out, and after climbing the low wall found himself on a raw November night, with the rain falling in torrents, a stark-naked, head-shaved-and-blistered but once more a free man. In this condition he wandered on throughout the night, and just before daylight he entered a cemetery to find that refuge among the dead of which he thought himself so cruelly deprived by the living.

Beneath the entrance to the church there was a passage which led to some family vaults in the basement, and he crept down the passage to seek some shelter for his nude body from the driving rain, which had chilled him through. While groping about in the dark his hand rested on something soft, which, to his unbounded delight, proved to be an old coat which had probably been left there by the sexton and forgotten. He remained hidden all day, and traveled through the fields all night, during which he found a scarecrow, from which he transferred to his own person its old hat and trousers.[Pg 421]

He said that although so hungry, he never had felt so happy as he did at finding himself once more dressed up. After proceeding a few miles farther, he ventured into a laborer's cottage in quest of food, which was given him, and with it a pair of old boots. As dilapidated, ragged, vagabond-looking, honest people are common in England, no questions were asked, and he proceeded on his way rejoicing in that freedom of which he had been deprived for ten years or more.

Amid all his pranks he had never been charged with idleness, and now worked at odd jobs about the farms until he had procured a decent suit of clothes, when he applied to a master house painter for work as a journeyman, though he had never done anything of that kind. The master, pleased with his appearance, gave him a trial, but the first job showed such ignorance of the art of house painting that he was forthwith discharged with half a day's wages. However, he had picked up some valuable hints, and being very apt by the time he had been more or less summarily discharged from half a dozen places he had become a good workman, and henceforth had no trouble about retaining any situation as long as he refrained from beer and restrained his temper; but at the slightest fault-finding on the part of the master he would fly into a passion and throw up the situation, and this, especially, if he suspected that anything had leaked out about his imprisonment.

While at work with a companion at painting the interior of a gentleman's residence near Bradford a word or two was dropped which made him believe his fellow workman had become aware of his being an ex-convict. Quitting work, he went to a public house, passing the rest of the day in carousing. About midnight, while on his way to his boarding house, it occurred to him that he had noticed a good many valuable things about the gentleman's house[Pg 422] which he could obtain. No sooner thought than done; the entrance was in a moment gained; he had just consciousness enough left to gather a few things, then lie down by the side of them and fell into a drunkard's sleep, in which the servants found him when they came down in the morning. A constable was sent for, he was given in charge, tried, convicted of the crime of burglary and sentenced to seven years' penal servitude.

His former term of five years had made him proficient in all the dodges of prison life, and he felt justified in his own mind in using all his craft in order to put in his seven years as easily as possible. As he had been in Raynell asylum, he knew that by "putting on the balmy" so as to be sent to the lunatic department he would not be subjected to the prison rules and be as well off as he had been in the free asylum. Persistent attempts at suicide by cutting himself in the arms and legs with a piece of glass so as to bleed freely accomplished his purpose. Being placed with the other convict lunatics, he made himself useful, but on account of his bad temper and overbearing, quarrelsome disposition, obnoxious to his fellow prisoners.

Eventually he was discharged with an eighteen months' ticket-of-leave and $2.50 as capital for a new departure.

He went to Liverpool, procured a passage on board a freight steamer to America, which he paid for by working at painting. Landing at New York, he made his way to Norfolk, Va., where he procured work as a painter. Owing to his infirmity of temper he did not keep his place long, and after knocking about for a few months he took a freak to return to England—the last place of all for any man who has once been a prisoner.

(From Photo. by Stuart, Hartford.)

Once more in his native land, he procured work without difficulty at house painting, but, as usual, remained in one place but a very short time. His earnings, like those of a[Pg 423] great majority of the working class in England, were squandered in the public house.

Soon after the events just recorded, Heep concluded to visit his old home in Macclesfield. He accordingly threw up his situation, and arrived at the railway station an hour before the train was due. In order to while away the time he entered a public house and drank several glasses of ale. The compartment which he entered happened to be empty, and as usual whenever he indulged his appetite for anything containing alcohol, he was soon quite out of his mind and fancied that some one on the train was coming to murder him, and leaped headlong from the train, which was going at the rate of forty miles an hour. This came to a standstill, he was taken on board again, not seriously injured, and left at Wrexham in Denbighshire, from which he was sent to the Denbigh Insane Asylum. This being a Welsh institution, did not, according to Heep, possess those facilities for enjoying life which were so liberally supplied to the inmates of the Raynell asylum near Liverpool. Accordingly he behaved himself with so much propriety that the doctor discharged him as cured.

Not long after his return he got work near Manchester at painting in a block of new houses where the plumbers were at work putting in the gas and water pipes. On a Saturday, when he left work at noon, he met a young plumber who was out of a job. This man said he knew where he could earn a sovereign if he had tools to do a job in a butcher shop, and told Heep that if he would go to the houses where he had been painting and borrow a few plumbers' tools and assist him he would divide the amount. Heep went back, but finding that the master plumber and all his men had gone (Saturday afternoon in England being a half-holiday for laborers), he took the few tools required, went and finished the job by 7 p. m.; then instead of taking the tools back, they went into a[Pg 424] public house where they caroused till midnight, when they separated, Heep taking the tools to his boarding house. On Monday he started early, so as to get the tools back before the other workmen arrived. On nearing the houses he passed a policeman who walked a little lame. He turned his head to look back, and the policeman happened to do the same thing, and seeing Heep looking at him his suspicions were aroused. Turning back, he came up and asked him what he had in the two bosses (tool baskets). Heep informed him, and on further questioning showed him the key to the house from which he had taken the tools, and asked him to accompany him there, which he did. They entered, Heep putting back the tools, and showed the policeman where he had been painting and wished him to stay until the master came in half an hour. This the policeman declined to do, and took the tools and told Heep to come to the police station.

Heep lost his temper and began cursing him. The policeman went to the door, and seeing another just passing beckoned him in, and the two marched him to the station. The plumber was sent for, and was induced to make a charge against Heep and value the stolen goods at ten shillings. Seeing that the police were bound to make a case against him, he seized the plumber's knife and cut his throat, severing the windpipe. The doctor was sent for, he was transferred to the jail hospital, and in the course of two or three weeks was well enough to appear before the magistrate, though he could not speak, and was bound over for trial.

In the mean time the police had discovered that he had served two penal terms, on the strength of which, when convicted, the magistrate sentenced him to ten years' penal servitude.

At the trial he had not yet recovered the use of his voice, nor did he have any one to defend him, for at that[Pg 425] time, unlike the present, the Crown did not furnish a lawyer for the defense of those who were unable to employ one at their own expense. When the magistrate was about to pronounce the sentence, he said that as the prisoner had escaped from ordinary asylums he should send him to a place from which he could not escape—meaning a prison.


[Pg 426]



Once convicted of a crime in England it is impossible, unless a man has money or friends, for him to obtain an honest livelihood unless he is the happy possessor of a trade. All the great corporations demand references that will cover a series of years of the applicant's life, and, above all, strict inquiry is made as to his last employer. This cuts the ground out from under the feet of the unfortunate, and feeling that England can no longer be a home to him he turns his eyes as a matter of course to America.

A fair percentage of the prisoners are men who perhaps under great temptation, or while under the influence of drink, have broken the laws, but yet are honorably minded and resolved in future to lead an honest life. Such are not undesirable citizens; but there is another class, that of the professional criminal; with these the prisons swarm, and, worse yet, the slums and saloons of the great cities are breeding thousands more that will take the places of those now on the stage.

The conditions of society in England are such that the procession of criminals is an unending one. The society that creates the criminal also has established a system of police repression that makes the life history of society's victim one of misery, until such time when the criminal, growing wise by experience, shakes the dust of English[Pg 427] soil off from his feet and transfers himself, a moral ruin, to our country, here to become a curse and a burden.

This flow of moral sewage to our shores is constant and unceasing. Our Government has frequently protested against it, but with no success, for the officials in England indignantly deny that the State either encourages or assists the exodus of her criminal classes; but from my personal knowledge I know this to be false. The officials over there have found out an effectual way to rid themselves of their discharged prisoners as fast as their sentences expire, and cast them on our shores, and this is so ingenious a way that the wrong can never be brought home to them.

During my twenty years' residence in Chatham I suppose nearly half as many thousands asked me for information about America, and at least 95 per cent. assured me that when released they would "join the society" and depart at once for that happy hunting ground—that Promised Land which charms the imagination no less of the criminal than of the honest poor of the Old World. In every English prison the walls are decorated with placards, gorgeous in hue, of rival firms appealing to the readers for patronage. "Join us," they all say; and every prisoner knows the appeal "join us" means if you do we will ferry you over the Jordan that rolls between this desert land and the plains flowing with milk and honey on the other side. The "firms" I mention are those arch humbugs, the Prisoners' Aid Societies of England.

Elizabeth Fry, who made "aid to prisoners" fashionable and a society fad in England, has much to answer for. Prisoners' Aid Societies have sprung up in every quarter of England, and having a rich soil, and under the fostering care of the Government, have flourished with a rank and luxuriant growth. These societies draw their nourishment from English soil, but, unhappily for us, their tall branches[Pg 428] hang over our wall and their ripened fruit falls on our ground.

From the time a prisoner becomes accustomed to his surroundings until the hour of his release the one thing ever uppermost in his thoughts, the one distracting subject and cause of anxious solicitude, is the question, "Which society shall I join?" It is a tolerably safe venture to predict that he will "join" "The Royal Prisoners' Aid Society of London," which society is happy in having Her Gracious Majesty and a long list of illustrious lords and ladies for "governors." What that may mean no one knows. Certainly no benefit from these people ever accrues to the discharged prisoners, but who can describe the glory that falls on the four or five reverend gentlemen, sons, nephews or brothers of deans or bishops, high-salaried secretaries of this particular society, who pose at the annual meeting in Exeter Hall, before a brilliant audience, and after have the felicity of seeing their report in the church and society journals and their names connected with such exalted people.

The way the Government over there accomplishes its purpose of getting rid of its criminal population at our expense and at the same time is able to answer the charges of our Government with disavowal is this:

The Home Secretary alone possesses the pardoning power for the United Kingdom, and directly controls every prison, his fiat being law in all things to every official as well as to every inmate. He has officially recognized and registered at the Home Office every prisoners' aid society in England, Scotland and Wales, and in order to boom them he gives to every discharged prisoner an extra gratuity of £3 provided he "joins" a prisoners' aid society on his discharge, the result being that all do so. England is a small and compact country, and the police have practically one head, and that head is the Home Secretary.[Pg 429] Under the circumstances the system of police espionage is so perfect that whenever a discharged prisoner is reconvicted for another crime he cannot escape recognition, and in all such cases the Home Secretary notifies the particular aid society who received the prisoner on his discharge of the fact, very much to the vexation of the officials of the society, who are all anxious for a good record in reforming men that come officially under their auspices. They publish that all who are never reported as reconvicted are reformed, and all love to make a big showing for the money subscribed at the all-important annual meeting, the result being that all the men hustled out of the country by the society count as reformed men.

These societies are supported by subscriptions, which all go in salaries and office rents. The assistance given to the discharged prisoner is limited to the £3 extra gratuity given the society by the Government on the prisoner's behalf. The London societies have an agreement with the Netherlands Line and the Wilson Line of steamers to "take to sea" for £2 10s. all "workingmen" they send to them. I have talked to thousands of men who "joined the society," most of whom intended to go to America, and I have talked to scores who had "joined," but who, unluckily for themselves, not leaving England, were reconvicted and sent back to Chatham. Throughout twenty years I conversed with several thousand men who joined the society avowing they were going to America, and were never heard of again in England, and have also known some scores of men who passed through the hands of the society agents, yet were afterward reconvicted. Therefore I am in a position to speak with authority on the important question of England dumping her criminal population on our shores.[Pg 430]



The Royal Society and The Christian Aid Societies, presided over by a Rev. Mr. Whitely, enjoy a bad pre-eminence in this respect. The year before my release the latter stated at the annual meeting that six thousand discharged prisoners had passed through his society, and I venture to assert that five thousand of these found their way to this country through the assistance of this society. These two societies have been boomed to an incredible extent, and it would be a curious study if any report could be had as to how the large subscriptions were actually expended.

For the sake of making my narrative clear, I will here only speak of the first-named society.


Two months before release the prisoner must inform the warder that he intends to join the Royal Society. He notifies the Home Office, which in turn notifies the society and forwards a warrant for £3. The prisoner upon discharge takes a certain train for London, and is met upon his arrival at the station by an agent of the society. This agent ranks as a servant, is usually an ex-prisoner and is always paid 21 shillings a week. He pilots his man at a certain hour before the Reverend Secretary, and here follows a verbatim report of the dialogue between the great[Pg 431] man and the poor, timid and dreadfully embarrassed ex-prisoner:

Great Man—Well, my man, what do you intend to do?

[Pg 432]

Ex-Prisoner—I want to go to America.

Great Man—Tut! tut! my man; you mean you want to go to sea.

Ex-Prisoner (taking the hint)—Yes, sir; I want to go to sea.

Great Man—Very well, my man. Go with this agent, who will fix it with the ship captain so you can go to sea.

If a steamer of either line named is about to sail he is taken on board at once goes to the steerage, and just before sailing the agent hands him a ticket and the criminal is safely off for America. England is rid of a bad subject, and the Royal Society has one more "reformed" man to put in its report. In addition to the £3 gratuity the ex-prisoner has been paid £1, £2 or £3 in addition, provided his sentence had been at least five years. The society is not a cent out of pocket over him, and forlorn and friendless he lands here with from $2 to $15 in his pocket. He has got the cheap suit of clothes he wears, one handkerchief and one pair of stockings extra. It is almost certain he will speedily drift into crime, spending the remainder of his life in prison, and finally dying there or in the poorhouse.[Pg 433]

There is just one way this evil can be stopped—I might say two ways. The first, and a method that would be effectual in stopping the influx of criminals from all countries, is to let Congress put a tax of $30 or $50 on the steamship companies for every passenger not an American citizen whom they bring to America. Not one discharged criminal in a thousand could meet the tax in addition to the fare. The only other way possible would be for our Government to request the English Government to furnish them with photographs, marks and measurements of all discharged criminals. Then have them copied and sent to[Pg 434] the Immigration Commissioners of our ports. But that would involve a radical change in these boards and their methods. Efficiency there under our corrupt system is, I fear, hopeless.

I visited Ellis Island a few days ago and saw how they passed a shipload of immigrants in a few minutes, and as I looked I felt it was hopeless to expect any efficient measures to throw back the foul tide that is polluting our shores.

Seldom as men of the criminal class once safe in America ever return to England, yet they do now and then return. In the two or three cases that came under my observation it was very much to their loss and grief, for they only came back to undergo another term.

One day, in 1890, a man working in my party slipped a note into my hand that had been given him for me in chapel that morning. As in similar cases, I secreted the note, and when safe in my little room I read it. The writer said he had lately come down from London, and was most anxious to get into my party in order to have a chance to talk with me. He said he had been living in Chicago and could give me all the news. He ended the note by stating he was being murdered by hard work, and implored me to try and get him into my party, where it was not so hard. This I was most anxious to do, as in my party you could talk almost with impunity. To have a man near me fresh and only a year before in Chicago would be like a letter from home and also a newspaper. Therefore, I determined to get Foster in my party if possible. At this time I had been seventeen years a resident, and was, in fact, the oldest inhabitant, and had some little influence in a quiet way. About eleven years before I had been put in the party, and had a chance to learn bricklaying, and having become an expert in the art was given charge of the bricklaying. I was on the best of terms with our officer, so when, a day or two later, one of our men was so fortunate (in the Chatham view of it) as[Pg 435] to meet with an accident and be admitted to that heaven, the infirmary, I told my officer to ask for Foster to replace him. He did so, and he, very much to his gratification, found himself by my side, with a trowel instead of a shovel in his hand. We worked side by side, Winter and Summer, storm and shine, for two years, and in spite of myself I began soon to like the man. His chief and only virtues were truthfulness and fair-mindedness toward his friends—rare and incongruous virtues for a professional burglar; nevertheless, he possessed them in a marked degree. This is a statement to make a cynic smile, and is one of those cases where the result is justifiable; yet, however the cynic may smile, there is plenty of all-around good faith in the world, and there is no nation, race or color, no clique, religion nor social strata, that has a monopoly of the article. Good faith and truth grow in unlikely places, as I have found in my career, for I have looked on life from both sides, and to look on it from the seamy side is instructive, indeed, for then the mask is off and the true character is revealed. I have been away down in the depths, and for years have toiled cheek by jowl, through sunshine and storm, in blinding snows and pelting rain, with my brother men under conditions too brutal and demoralizing to be understood if described—conditions where the very worst side of human character would naturally be thought to come to the front, and I came out of the fierce struggle in that pit of death with conclusions as to the human animal that are decidedly favorable, and I am inclined to the view that man was born almost an angel, and that, in spite of the fearful temptations of the world into which he has been thrust, much of the angelic pottery abides.[Pg 436]



Foster's experience during his four years' residence in Chicago was decidedly novel, and it had evidently brightened his wits—that is, increased his cunning without adding to his honesty. And as I think it will interest my reader to get a view of life from the actor's own standpoint, I will relate one of the many stories he told me during the years we worked together.

Upon Foster's release from his first term of imprisonment he joined the Christian Aid Society of London, and Mr. Whitely, the secretary, promptly "sent him to sea," as he has thousands of others. In due time he arrived in New York, but as he had heard much of Chicago he determined to go there. He arrived penniless, but within an hour ran against an old friend in the person of a former partner in the art of burglary who had been a fellow prisoner with him in London. This man's name was Turtle, and Mr. Whitely had only "sent him to sea" two brief years before. It was plain from his magnificent diamond ring, pin and big bank roll, freely displayed, that the seafaring life of the former protege of the London Prison Aid Society was a profitable occupation. He was delighted to meet Foster, and took him to a tailor's at once and fitted him out liberally, at the same time handing him $250, just for pocket money.[Pg 437] When, on the next day, Foster stated to his friend that he was ready to undertake a burglary, Turtle was displeased, and said: "No; we are on the honest game, which pays better." What that was will appear. Turtle had a large private inquiry office, with two of the city detectives for side partners, who turned over to him all business in which there was a prospect of mutual profit. All imaginable schemes of villainy were concocted and executed there, and with perfect impunity, too. For Turtle had the ear of all the magistrates, and was in with all the gangs that made the City Hall of Chicago the worst and vilest den of robbers that encumbers this earth.

What cause the pessimist has for his boding views when in cities like New York, Quaker Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco, the City Halls, those centres of municipal life, hold and are ruled by the worst and most dangerous gangs of criminals sheltered by any roof in any city!

Alas! that the centre which should be the purest stream within the city should be a foul cesspool, sending out poisonous vapors to pollute the life of the citizens!

Universal suffrage in our great centres is a corrupt tree and its fruits must needs be poisonous.

Turtle gave his friend Foster a welcome at his office and at once enrolled him on his staff, but virtually made him a member of the firm. So, between the two Police Headquarters thieves and the two English ones, they had a combination indeed.

Many stories Foster told me during the years of our intercourse that were novel and strange, and gave me a view of the social world seldom seen. Here is a specimen:

One day a countryman appeared at Police Headquarters in Chicago and announced that he had been robbed of $20,000, and showed how his coat pocket had been cut open and the money taken. This, he explained, had been done in a crowd. It was a strange place for a man to carry so[Pg 438] large a sum, and, still stranger, the pocket was cut on the inside. Of course, a pickpocket in the rare event of cutting the pocket of an intended victim must of necessity cut the pocket from the outside. The countryman had fallen at Headquarters to the tender mercies of the two partners of Turtle. One glance at the pocket showed them there was a colored gentleman in the woodpile, and as there was $20,000 in the deal somewhere, they determined to have some share of it. They, of course, pretended to believe the story of the countryman, but for fear some of the other Headquarters men might hear and want a share, they hurried him away from the office over to the Sherman House; then one went to Turtle's office and posted him on the situation. The countryman was anxious to leave town, but on various pretenses they held him for two days, but as he stoutly affirmed that the lost money was his own they were puzzled to solve the mystery; but their knowledge of human nature was such that they felt certain that if they could only arrive at the bottom the old gentleman would not be quite as white as he pretended to be. He came from an obscure mountain town in East Tennessee, and while they fancied a trip there might solve matters they feared to lose their victim—- for victim these human tigers determined the countryman should be. The second day they resolved on decisive measures to get at the truth, and at the same time secure some plunder, provided the Tennesseean had any cash.

So far Turtle and Foster had not been seen by the victim. The detectives asked the countryman to remain one more night to see if they could not catch the men who had robbed him. That afternoon one of Turtle's staff secured a room at the same hotel, and, seizing an opportunity, slipped into the countryman's chamber and concealed some burglar tools under the mattress of his bed and in his carpet bag. This once done, they marched the "guy" along Clark street, and, as arranged, Turtle and one of his staff met them, and[Pg 439] shaking hands with the two detectives asked if they were arresting their companion for a job. Upon their saying he was a wealthy gentleman from the South, Turtle burst out laughing, and said he knew him for an old-time burglar, and if they would search his house they would find stolen goods, and ended by saying, "Bring him down to my office and I will show you his picture." The detectives now changed their tones and threatened to arrest him. He having, as the sequel will show, a bad conscience, became frightened. Then they arrested him, and announced that they were going to search his room at the hotel. This they did, taking him along. Of course, they found what they had previously hidden, very much to the terror of the countryman, who, lashed by a bad conscience, began to think he was in a fix. The friends of the hour before now became threatening bullies, promising to get him ten years for the possession of burglar tools. They took him to Turtle's office, and there stripping him they found to their disappointment that he had no money, but found carefully folded up in an inner pocket a postoffice receipt for a registered letter sent from Nashville to St. Paul. They kept him a prisoner that night while Turtle left by the first train for St. Paul with the receipt in his pocket. The next morning found him in St. Paul, and a few minutes later he walked out of the office with the registered letter, which proved to be a bulky one. Tearing it open he found it full of United States bonds and greenbacks, amounting in all to $20,000. The next day all save $1,000, reserved for the victim, was divided among the four birds of prey. That day the victim was taken before a friendly magistrate and fully committed to await in jail the action of the Grand Jury. Twenty-four hours later a tool called on him at the jail, and gave him the option of taking $1,000 and getting out of town by the first train or getting ten years for the possession of burglar tools. The poor fool, with trembling eagerness, accepted the first part[Pg 440] of the ultimatum, and within an hour a bail bond was filled up, and darkness found the baffled old man speeding westward, never again to look on his own people.

But how was he a baffled old man? He had embarked in a scheme of villainy, but had been beaten at his own game by sharper rascals. From whom did he steal the money? Read:

In a small Tennessee town there lived a widow whose husband had been killed in the Confederate army and who found herself, like so many more Southern ladies at the close of the war, impoverished, and with a family of children to be provided with bread. But it seems she was a brave body, and with a head for business. She opened a small hotel in Nashville, and by reason of her history, no less than her excellent hostelry, she thrived apace, and, investing all her savings in newly started industrial enterprises in Nashville, her small investments brought in large returns, which were reinvested, until at 40, finding herself mistress of a competency, she quit business and went to spend the remainder of her days where she was born. The hero of the adventure in Chicago was not only her neighbor, but had been the comrade of her husband through the deadly fights of the war. She naturally turned to him as a friend for advice. He first asked her to be his wife, and upon her refusal he began to urge her to dispose of all her interests in Nashville and reinvest her money in the nearby city of Knoxville. At last she consented, and sent him to Nashville with authority to act as her agent. He disposed of her property, except the old hotel. He was paid $20,000 on her account, and once with the money in his possession he determined to keep it. It was a cowardly deed, and dearly did he pay for it. He wrote her he was going to Chicago, and would take the money with him, as he would only remain for a day. To Chicago he came, and, as related, robbed himself, sending off the money in a registered letter to himself[Pg 441]. Then he appeared at Police Headquarters with his cut pocket and clumsy story, which appeared in the next morning's paper. He sent a marked copy of the paper to the lady, and at the same time wrote a hypocritical letter stating that he was so heartbroken over losing her money that he did not have the courage to look her in the face, and never should until such time as he could repay the money. He said he was going to California to work, and when he had enough she would see him again, but not before.


How easy it is for a man to become an unspeakable villain, and how nicely this one was hoisted with his own petard!

Eventually this catastrophe proved a blessing to the widow. It drove her back to her hotel again, and soon after she became the wife of one of the bravest and best men Tennessee ever produced. I was so interested in the fate of this lady that when in Nashville in 1893 I tried to hunt her up. I found several who knew the whole story, and from them I heard her after history and a full confirmation of Foster's narrative.

Foster remained four years in Chicago and flourished. He and Turtle became very influential in politics and partners in a combine of rascally Aldermen and police magistrates that robbed the city and the citizens with impunity. But unluckily for him, he one day took it into his head to pay a visit to his old haunts in England, there to display his diamonds and bank roll to such of his former cronies as happened to be at liberty. On arriving in London he began to play the role of a rich American, but was recognized by the police, an old charge raked up against him, arrested, promptly placed on trial, found guilty and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. Although the possessor of considerable property, he is to-day toiling at Chatham like a slave and probably if he lives he will come out a broken man. It is a certainty that the very day he is liberated he will[Pg 442] "go to sea," being sent by a prisoners' aid society, and a few days later become an ornament to that good city of Chicago. Once there, his ambition will not be satisfied until he takes his seat as Alderman, becoming one of the City Fathers. Many more immoral and dangerous than he write Alderman after their names in that windy city.


[Pg 443]



I am glad to say that during the almost lifetime I passed at Chatham there were only a scant half dozen Americans who came down to keep me company. One, Stoneman by name, interested me. He was a man of great nerve and quick apprehension, and very truthful, therefore I found his stories of his adventures most interesting, besides the fact that his history was another proof of the truth that wrongdoing never pays. Stoneman was of good parentage, and had entered the army in 1861, making a good record up to and including the battle of Gettysburg. There, owing to a quarrel with his captain, he deserted, and became a bounty jumper, making a large amount of money, but when the war ended, finding his occupation gone, he entered upon a life of crime, starting out first as a very successful express robber. The last robbery he engaged in in that line was on the New Haven road near Norwalk. His share amounted to some thousands, but he was literally bowled out, and by a singular circumstance. One of his confederates by the name of Riley had been arrested, and was confined at Norwalk. He engaged as counsel for his chum a well-known criminal lawyer of New York by the name of Stuart, and arranged with him to go up to Norwalk to see Riley the following day. Although Stoneman had plenty of money, he told Stuart he had none, but Riley had. Then he gave[Pg 444] Riley's wife $2,500, and told her to be present at the interview between the lawyer and her husband. At the interview Riley told him he would give him $2,500 if he cleared him or $1,000 if he got him off with a sentence of two years or less. Stuart was hungry as a shark to finger the money, and writing out a receipt for the full amount inserted the conditions agreed upon. Putting the money in his pocket he started back to New York with Mrs. Riley. Stoneman was on the train waiting for them, and as soon as they started he joined them. It happened the train was crowded, and they had to stand. It seems some pickpocket saw Stuart pull out the money, and determined to get it from him. On the arrival of the train in New York he succeeded in doing so. Stoneman had hurried out of the station, and, of course, knew nothing of the loss. So soon as Stuart discovered his loss he blamed him for it, and, being in a fury, he flew to Police Headquarters, secured the services of a friendly detective, and, going to the hotel that he knew Stoneman frequented, had him arrested on a charge of robbing him. The end of it all was that Stuart and the detectives got all his money, and then, knowing him to be a daring man, one that would neither forget nor fear to avenge his wrong, to get him out of the way they betrayed him to the Connecticut police as one of the express robbers. He was sent to Norwalk to stand his trial, was convicted and sentenced to five years, and sent to Weathersfield. Being a good mechanic, he was put in the blacksmith shop, and there, with an eye to the future, he did what is frequently done by professional gentlemen in our prisons, made a complete and most finely tempered set of burglar tools. They were too bulky to be smuggled out by friendly warders, so he secreted them in the shop where he worked and ruled. Many of the prisoners in Weathersfield are expert workmen, and from the machine shops there a high class of work is turned out. Among other workshops, there is one for the manufacture of silver-[Pg 445]plated ware. Stoneman had made chums with one of the prisoners who held a confidential position in the silverware manufactory. As Stoneman's sentence was the first to expire, he gave him points, and it was plotted between them that the prison itself should be burglarized by Stoneman on a certain night after his release. The confidential man was to leave the way clear to the safe where the silver bars used in the business were stored. He in due time was liberated, with the customary injunctions from the warden and officers "not to come back any more." He did come back, but in a way entirely unanticipated by them.

He, of course, knew the whole routine of the place, the stations of the guards, and that the wall after 8 p.m. was left entirely unguarded. The second night after his liberation found him beneath the wall with no other implements than a light ladder of the right height. In a minute he was on top, had pulled his ladder up and lowered it inside.

Once inside, every inch of the place was familiar to him, and he had a clear field. The shops, although inside of the boundary walls, were quite separate from the main building, where the men, closely guarded, were confined. He entered the familiar room where he so long had worked, and easily placed his hands on his (to him) precious kit of tools, and carried his jimmies, wedges, sledges, bits, braces, drills, etc., to the wall, and then landed them safe outside. Then he returned and entered the room where the plunder he sought lay. Thanks to his friend, the way was easy, and his art was not required to secure it. There were 600 ounces in silver bars, a pretty good load in avoirdupois, but he only made one journey of it, mounted the wall and speedily was over.

Stoneman was a long-headed fellow. He had taken, without the owner's leave, one of the many boats on the banks of the near-by river. He carried his plunder and tools down to the boat, and pulled across the river, two miles down, to[Pg 446] where quite a stream empties into the Connecticut. He pulled some distance up it; then putting everything into bags he sank them in the creek. Then drifting back into the Connecticut River again he threw his ladder over and turned the boat adrift. At 7 o'clock the next morning he was in New York.

In due time, in the idiom of the professionals, he "raised his plant," and the burglar's kit manufactured in the Connecticut State Prison did what Stoneman considered yeoman service. With all his art and cunning, justice would not be cajoled by him, but weighed him in her balance, to a good purpose too. His success in his particular line was great, but he paid dearly for it all. Many times he escaped detection, but not always. Not to escape, but to be brought to the bar, means a fearful gap in the life of a criminal. He was, as I say, famous in certain circles for his success in his lawless course, yet in the twenty years between 1865 and 1886 he passed sixteen years in captivity. In that year he went to England with a confederate, and a few hours later in London they snatched a parcel of money from a bank messenger in Lombard street. Both were caught in the act, and sentenced at the Old Bailey to twenty years each. To-day Stoneman is toiling under brutal task-masters, and it is all but certain he will perish at his task, friendless, alone, unpitied. Better so even, for should he ever be freed it will not be until the twentieth century is well on its way to the have beens of time, then only to find himself a battered hulk stranded on a shore from which the tide has ebbed forever.[Pg 447]



I had, of course, for many years heard much of the Fenian prisoners in the English prisons, particularly Sergeant McCarty and William O'Brien. Soon after my arrival at Chatham I was placed in the same party with them. We were all three strongly drawn together, but were shy of being the first to speak. Of course, it was strictly against the rules to talk, but as a matter of fact the prisoners find many opportunities for talking, particularly if they do their work. The officers are reported and fined if their men fall behind in their task, so if a man is any way backward in working the officer keeps his weather eye open, and reports him for any infraction of the rules.

One day, soon after they were put in my party, I gave O'Brien a hand in fixing his run. We spoke a few words. The ice was broken; we soon became fast friends, and our friendship remained unbroken until their happy release some years after. They were fine, manly fellows, and I in time came to have a warm affection for them.

McCarty had for nearly twenty years been a sergeant in the English army. He had come out of the Indian mutiny with a splendid record, and had been recommended for a commission. But while wearing the British uniform, his heart was warm for Ireland and her cause, so when, in 1867, his battery being then stationed in Dublin, he was informed many devoted adherents to the Fenian cause had determined[Pg 448] to try and seize Dublin, with a view of starting a wide revolt against English domination, perilous as it was, he cast his lot in with them, and speedily found sufficient adherents in his own field battery to seize it and bring it into action against the English. The plan miscarried. Sergeant McCarty, along with many others, was arrested and tried for treason; as a matter of course was speedily convicted, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. This sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.

O'Brien was an enthusiastic youngster of 17, and an ardent patriot. He had enlisted in a regiment then stationed in Ireland for no other reason than to familiarize himself in military affairs, also to win over recruits to the Fenian cause, and when the revolt began to be in a position to seize arms. The result of it all, so far as my two friends were concerned—they found themselves by my side in the great Chatham ship basin loading trucks with mud and clay, and that upon a diet of black bread and potatoes. The cars, or trucks, held four tons, there were three men to a truck, and the task was nineteen trucks a day, and between the urging of officers, frightened themselves for fear the task might not be done, and the mud and starvation, it was despairing work.[Pg 449]

The punishments were not only severe, but were dealt out with a liberal hand. The men, as a rule, were willing to work, but between weakness, brought on by perpetual hunger, and the misery of the incessant bullying of the officers, some few suicided every year, but many more did worse to themselves; that is, the poor fellows, seeing nothing but misery before them, would when the trucks were being shifted on the rail deliberately thrust an arm or leg under the wheels and have it taken off. No less than twenty-two did this in 1874. Of course, the object was to get out of the mud. When once a man's leg or arm was off he would no longer be able to handle a shovel, and would necessarily be[Pg 450] placed in an inside or cripples party and set to work picking oakum or breaking stones, with the result that, being free from severe toil and sheltered from the storms, they would not be so hungry. Then, again, they could more easily escape being reported, and that meant much.


There was never anything but black bread for breakfast and supper, save only one pint of gruel with the bread for breakfast. For dinner every day we got a pound of boiled potatoes and five ounces of black bread; three days a week five ounces of meat—that is, fifteen ounces a week for a man toiling hard in the keen sea air. We were always on the verge of starvation; our sufferings were terrible. In our hunger there was no vile refuse we would not devour greedily if opportunity occurred.

O'Brien was a slight, delicate fellow, quite unfitted for the hardships and toil he was subjected to, but he was a high-spirited, brave youngster, and his spirit carried him through, while many a man better fitted physically to endure the toil gave in and died, or became utterly broken down, and would be sent away to an invalid station a physical wreck. McCarty and I used to do extra work so as to shield O'Brien, and so long as our trucks were filled on time the officer made no complaint. The prisoners were certainly very good to each other, and usually did all in their power to help and cheer up the weaker men.

In 1877 my two friends were liberated. I was glad to see them go, but I missed them sadly. But McCarty had suffered too much. He only survived his liberation a few days, dying in Dublin, to the grief of all Ireland. O'Brien started a tobacco store in Dublin, where he still is.[Pg 451]

I knew all of the dynamiters—Curtin, Daily, Dr. Gallagher, Eagan, etc. However misguided, yet they meant to serve their country, and dearly have they paid for their zeal. I pitied poor Gallagher. The strain on his spirit was too great. He soon broke down, and his dejected, forlorn looks, his stoop[Pg 452]ing shoulders and listless walk made me and all think his days were numbered; but he had immense vitality and still lived when I was liberated; but he was truly a pitiable object, and if he is ever to live to breathe the air a free man then his friends must secure a speedy release, for he is slowly sinking into his grave.


[Pg 453]



I have related how, the Sunday after my sentence, in my despair I took the little Bible off the shelf. The other books I had at Chatham besides the Bible were a dictionary and "The Life of the Prophet Jeremiah." Once, soon after my arrival in Chatham, I took the Jeremiah down from the shelf, but speedily put it back and made a vow never to take it down again; and I never did. It remained in view on the little shelf for nineteen years, while I sat there watching it rot away. The dictionary is a good book, but grows tiresome at times. As for the Bible, there is no discount on that. For fourteen years I was a careful student of its sacred pages. Every Sunday of that fourteen years, from 12 o'clock until 2, I used to walk the stone floor of my cell preaching a sermon with no audience but my dictionary and "The Life of the Prophet Jeremiah." I at first began my Bible studies and my sermons as a means to occupy my thoughts and keep my mind bright. It saved my life and reason. I need hardly say that I became tolerably familiar with the book, and I had the great advantage of studying the Bible without a commentary.

I thought in my enthusiasm I should never tire of the Bible, but after ten or twelve years I began to grow weary of it, and grew very hungry for other mental food. I wanted a Shakespeare, for with him to keep me company I could no longer be in the desolation of solitude. At last I deter[Pg 454]mined to get my friends to try for me. I had learned the Bible almost by heart; the smallest incidents in the life of the Prophet Jeremiah were much more familiar to me than the history of the civil war, and Anathoth took on proportions which made it as real as New York and far more important. The desperate efforts I had made to keep myself from falling into the condition of so many I had seen drooping to idiocy and death were, I felt, successful, and any occupation which kept alive the intellect could not but be beneficial. I was hungry, starving for mental food. Never had books appeared so attractive, never was kingdom so cheerfully offered for a horse as I would have offered mine for an octavo. My friends had written for me to the Government, but with no success. At last they had interested the American Minister in London, who promised to write to the Home Secretary for me, but a year had slipped by and I had heard nothing.

Jeremiah continued with me, and it seemed he was to remain with me to the end. But a change was coming.

Can I ever forget the day it happened! Can I ever cease to remember the delight, the incredulity, the astonishment of that happy day! I had come in at night hungry, cold, wet and miserable. I made my way a little depressed to my cell. As I was about to step across the threshold I saw a book lying on my little wooden bed. Amazed and astonished, I hesitated to enter. Small as such a circumstance appears, the very sight of the book brought on a weakness. I feared to pick it up, a horrible dread seized me that it might be a new Bible, and I was unwilling to risk another disappointment. The footprint on the sand was not more suggestive nor more awe-inspiring to Robinson Crusoe than the appearance of that book was to me. In mood as lonely, in plight as desperate as his, there lay before me a sight as unlooked for and, as it seemed, as full of meaning as the footprint was to Robinson.[Pg 455]

At last I pulled myself together, determined to end the suspense and know what was before me. I picked up the book, and who can understand the delight, the joy, the rapture even, with which I read on the title page, "The Works of William Shakespeare." In an instant I became a new man. If ever one human being felt gratitude to another I felt it at that moment for the American Minister. To him I owed it that henceforth a new light was to stream through the fluted glass of my window, that henceforth a new world was opened up for me to live in, and the world seemed lighter to me. Many a month and year afterward my cell was filled and my heart cheered by the multitude of friends the divine William provided for me.

About the time I received my Shakespeare another piece of happy fortune befell me. A smallpox scare was existing outside, and all hands in the prison were ordered to be vaccinated. When the doctor came around a few days afterward to examine the effects of the operation he found my arm so swollen that he directed me to be taken to the hospital.

For twenty-five days I had full opportunity to learn what the girl in Dickens' "Little Dorritt" meant when she called the hospital an "'eavenly" place. It was the first time I had ever been admitted, and the change from the horrible mud hole to the rest and comfort of a cell in the hospital was indeed almost "'eavenly." With nothing to do but to read my Shakespeare, the cravings of hunger for the first time since my imprisonment satisfied, I was tempted to believe—I did partly believe—that the world had few positions pleasanter than mine.

Godliness with contentment is undoubtedly great gain. Contentment alone without the godliness is no poor thing, and was I not content? Few, indeed, of all the thousands who have toiled in that torturing prison house have ever been or are likely ever to be so content as I was.[Pg 456]

How true it is that happiness is altogether relative, and that it is divided much more evenly among men than we are willing to believe! A mere respite from an intolerable position, a single book to keep the mind from cracking, transformed gloom and misery into light and at least comparative happiness.

After a time I began to watch the effects of the unnatural life upon others. They arrived full of resolution, buoyed often by hopes which they were soon destined to find delusive. The short-time men, those with seven or ten year sentences, could face the prospect hopefully. To them the day would come when the prison gate must swing back and the path to the world be open once more. But no such hope cheers the long-timers, the men with twenty years and life, who quickly learn how great the proportion is of their number who find relief only in the box smeared with black which incloses what is left of them in the grave. Every day I used to see the effects on them of hunger and torment of mind. The first part visibly affected was the neck. The flesh shrinks, disappears and leaves what look like two artificial props to support the head. As time wears on the erect posture grows bent; instead of standing up straight the knees bulge outward as though unable to support the body's weight, and the man drags himself along in a kind of despondent shuffle. Another year or two and his shoulders are bent forward. He carries his arms habitually before him now, he has grown moody, seldom speaks to any one, nor answers if spoken to. In the general deterioration of the body the mind keeps equal step; and so unfailing is the effect that even warders wait to see it, and remark to each other that so and so is "going off." When the sufferer begins to carry his arms in front every one understands that the end is coming. The projecting head, the sunken eye, the fixed, expressionless features are merely the outward exponents of the hopeless, sullen brooding within. Sometimes the man merely keeps[Pg 457] on in that way, wasting more and more, body and mind, every day, until at last he drops and is carried into the infirmary to come out no more.

Truly I was looking on life from the seamy side.

Before my own experience had taught me I used to think at times when such a subject ever came into my mind at all: "What must be the thoughts and anticipations of a man condemned to separation from other men, to lead an unnatural life under the strained and artificial conditions of prison?" The change is so violent, it comes so suddenly, the unknown possibilities are so terrible, the sufferings naturally implied are so inevitable, that had any one gifted with a knowledge of futurity shown me that such experience was to be mine I would have thought it utterly impossible that such horrors could be withstood by ordinary strength.

The delights of pleasure are seldom equal to the anticipation of them, and it is probable that the pain of suffering is more unbearable in the shrinking expectation than when affliction actually opens her furnace door and commands us to enter. Perhaps there is a compensation of some kind in nature, a provision to deaden feeling when a death stroke falls—some merciful dispensation by which we fail to realize or to understand in its exactness the meaning of the stroke which is crushing us.

The man rescued from drowning or from asphyxiation has felt no pain. The animal that falls beneath the rush and the murderous claws of a beast of prey seems to fall into a torpor-like indifference, under the influence of which he meets with no great suffering the death his captor brings him. Probably all great suffering comes accompanied with a reserve of strength or with a power of resistance which may even spring from weakness, but which invests the sufferer with courage, and perhaps, too, with hope, to meet it. —Transcriber's note[Pg 458] but the pitiless application of a discipline designed with consummate skill to find out all the weak points of a man's inner armor and to inflict the utmost possible suffering upon him, I used to ask myself if it could be possible that I was really the man upon whom so hideous a fate had fallen.

The blackness of darkness was round about me. Infinite despair stood ready to seize me. It seemed an amazement that life should be forced to remain with him who longs for death, who would rejoice exceedingly and be glad could he find the grave. But when the first horrible numbness of the shock was disappearing, when the first glimmering perception came to me that "as a man's day so shall his strength be," I began to suspect, and soon to know, that in many ways the reality was not so terrible as imagination pictured it.

However ample the provision be which men may make to inflict suffering upon other men, however well and successfully they may apply the provision, they cannot alter men's nature. That will assert itself under all circumstances. The fact that a man is restrained of his liberty by no means alters his nature. The things he liked or disliked when he was at liberty he will like or dislike when a prisoner, and he is not long in finding that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" is just as certainly true of the seed he plants in inclosed ground as it is of what he scatters in the open field.[Pg 459]



The world inside of the walls has a public opinion of its own, and it is at least quite as often just as the public opinion whose sphere is not circumscribed by stone walls and iron bars. The man who accepts the situation, resolved to get his hand as easily as possible out of the tiger's mouth, soon becomes known as a sensible fellow, willing to give others no trouble and anxious to have no trouble given him. Such a man will rarely be molested.

Patient, uncomplaining endurance always excites pity and sympathy. The most ignorant, the most brutal warder will scarcely oppress the man who goes quietly and unresistingly along the thorny road stretched out before him; who, not taking the thorns for roses, is not disappointed at finding few roses among the thorns.

Those, however, who are determined to see the rough side of prison life may easily do so; the appliances are there and they will certainly be accommodated. An English prison is a vast machine in which a man counts for just nothing at all. He is to the establishment what a bale of merchandise is to a merchant's warehouse. The prison does not look upon him as a man at all. He is merely an object which must move in a certain rut and occupy a certain niche provided for it. There is no room for the smallest sentiment. The vast ma[Pg 460]chine of which he is an item keeps undisturbed upon its course.

Move with it, and all is well. Resist, and you will be crushed as inevitably as the man who plants himself on the railroad track when the express is coming. Without passion, without prejudice, but also without pity and without remorse, the machine crushes and passes on. The dead man is carried to his grave and in ten minutes is as much forgotten as though he had never existed.

The plank bed, the crank, the bread-and-water diet, unauthorized but none the less effectual clubbing at the hands of warders, the cold in the punishment cells penetrating to the very marrow of the bones, weakness, sickness and unpitied death are the certain portion of the rebel.

Some are found idiotic enough to invite such a fate, though fewer now than formerly. The progress of education in England during the last twenty years, and the philanthropic efforts of many societies and private persons, but above all the covert but successful efforts of the authorities to deport them to this country instantly after their release, have had an immense effect in thinning the ranks of prison inmates. The Judges, too, have been forced by public opinion to be much less severe than they used to be, and that counts for much even in the inside of prisons.

Nothing can be more capricious than the sentences they pass. In very few cases does the law set any limit. "Life or any term not less than five years" is the usual reading of the statute books, and the consequence naturally is that one Judge will give his man five years, while another will condemn his to twenty years for precisely the same crime committed under precisely the same circumstances as the first one.

Another great blot on the English judicial system is that no court of appeal exists to which a sentence might be referred for review, so that the most unjust and unequal sen[Pg 461]tences are constantly passed from which there is no appeal but in the forlorn hope—rather, entire hopelessness—of a petition to the Home Secretary. I have often seen a man who had been sentenced to five years for murder working by the side of another whose sentence was twenty years for some crime against property. Such contrasts, of course, excite great discontent, and in some cases are the reason why men set up a hopeless resistance to what they feel to be persecution and injustice.

It always seemed to me that the standpoint of the Board of Directors, established in 1864, and which continued without change until very recently, was altogether wrong. They appeared to think that in their dealings with other men the only course was to be the application of "force, iron force," as one of the governors expressed it. The very great majority require no such application, and the few difficult ones could easily be managed in another way. Certainly it is necessary that all prison discipline be penal, but it is not necessary that it be ferocious and inhuman, as certainly is the English. Starvation, the crank, the plank bed, the fearful cold of the cells are not measures necessary in dealing with any man.

Whatever they could think of to harden, to degrade, to insult, to inflict every form of suffering, both physical and mental, which a man could undergo and live, was embodied in the rules they made. Their prisons were to be places of suffering and of nothing but suffering.

So far as the directors were concerned the regulations were carried out to the letter, but each prison is under the control of a resident governor, with a deputy governor to assist him. These gentlemen are always men of good social position, retired officers of the army, who have seen the world and have experience in controlling men. They are rarely inclined to unnecessary severity, but are generally willing to apply the rules with as much consideration as such rules admit.[Pg 462] The governor's discretion, however, is limited, but daily contact more or less with men whom he sees to differ very little from free men, and whom he sometimes finds to be even better than many he knows who are not, but who perhaps ought to be, on the wrong side of the bars, makes him unwilling to throw too many sharp points on the path which has to be trodden by men for whom he often cannot help feeling considerable sympathy.

I have more than once heard governors express their disapproval of the starvation system and of the ferocity of treatment toward men who some day or other must go back to society.

Under such governors the new arrival speedily finds out that to a certain extent his comfort depends upon himself. No man can make a bad thing good or trick himself into believing that suffering is pleasure. If pain be not an evil, it is an exceedingly good imitation, and the wisest philosopher is just as restless under the toothache as the most perfect idiot.


[Pg 463]



The inhabitant of a cell has a very rough row to hoe under any circumstance, and it has to be hoed, but there is no necessity for him to fill his row with stones and to plant roots in it himself. He soon finds his level, and the impression he makes on his arrival is the one which, as a rule, clings to him to the end.

When prison air and prison influence have succeeded in incasing a man with the sort of moral hardbake that renders him callous to those feelings which at first so gall the raw spots, he finds himself watching with curiosity the shapings of newcomers. Some announce immediately on arrival that they cannot possibly be there more than a month or two; their arrest was a mistake, and their uncle, the member of Parliament, is now busily engaged making representations to the Home Secretary. One of the very few amusements prisoners have is in watching the important fellows, the men whose friends could do so much for them if they would only let them know where they are. Sometimes a chap who has perhaps been a body servant or something of the kind, who has picked up the kind of veneer he could catch by aping his master, will furnish food for smiles to every one he comes in contact with during his stay. He never receives a letter without explaining confidentially to every one that another aunt whose favorite he was has just died, leaving him £10,000[Pg 464] in cash, not to speak of a trifle or two in the shape of half a dozen houses. These gentlemen are immediately furnished with a name which becomes much better known than their own, and whenever they have delivered themselves of their periodical brooding of lies the news goes smiling round that Billy Treacle's aunt has died again and left him another fortune.

So long as their inventions do no more harm than make them ridiculous, they are only laughed at and let alone, but when one of them develops a talent for invention which molests or injures others, especially when it takes the form of confidential communication to the governor of what he sees, and still more of what he does not see, such retribution as both prisoners and officers can inflict is not long in falling. His row becomes filled with very sharp-edged stones indeed, and roots which tear his hands painfully. Nearly always these boastings are fathered by an absurd vanity—a desire ever to appear what they are not, and while they think they are deceiving others they deceive no one but themselves.

One case I remember, though, was an exception. One young fellow made such use of his invention, and the story is so interesting and instructive as showing with what lofty respect English gentlemen are educated for the rights of property, that I shall relate it.

Four or five years after I went to Chatham a young fellow named Frederick Barton arrived with a ten years' sentence for forgery. His appearance and manners were very much in his favor, and his conduct so confirmed the good first impression that he speedily became a favorite with everybody from the governor down.

Some three years had slipped by when one day he asked me if I would prepare a petition which he might send to the Home Secretary in the hope of obtaining a commutation of sentence. I liked the youngster very well and readily[Pg 465] consented, but told him that I doubted very much if he would get anything. The petition was sent, and in a few days the usual answer was returned, "No grounds." He told me of his ill luck, and I said to him: "Look here, so long as you send up whining petitions asking for mercy both you and they will be treated with contempt. If you wish to get that English gentleman in the Home Office to do anything for you, make him believe you are a millionaire; you will see whether he will do anything then for you or not." He laughed merrily at that. "A millionaire! Why, I haven't a sixpence. My father is only a private coachman at Tunbridge Wells." "That is nothing at all," I said; "if you will be guided by me, and let me manage things for you, I will have a petition sent in for you from the outside, and I feel sure we can get you out." An idea had just flashed into my mind, and I was eager to try it.

At first he was a little timid about the venture, fearing that I might get him into trouble, but when he became convinced that I would do nothing of the kind he consented. I had a warder in the prison who in consideration of an occasional tip used to act as my postman, sending my letters to my friends and bringing in theirs to me. This was a deadly offense against the rules, but as the permitted correspondence was outrageously limited I saw no reason why I should deprive myself of letters when I had the chance to have them, and as I took good care that the great men in London should get no inkling of my misdeeds I dare say their hearts did not grieve after what their eyes did not see.[Pg 466]



My warder friend supplied me with writing materials. I prepared one letter, which I had him copy, and another in my own handwriting. Both were directed to Barton, and informed him that his rich uncle had lately died and had left him one hundred and sixty thousand pounds in money and sixteen thousand acres of cotton land in India. He was also informed that his father had gone to India to look after the property, and that upon his return a petition would be presented to the Home Secretary, who it was hoped would grant his release. These two letters my warder sent to a friend of mine in London with a note from me requesting him to post[Pg 467] them immediately. I told Barton what I had done, at the same time cautioning him to guard the closest secrecy. Two days afterward the letters arrived, and I directed my protege to spread the news as much as possible, to tell all the warders he saw and to show them his letters. We had at that time in the prison a wideawake but tricky fellow named George Smith. He had been clerk to an important firm of auctioneers in London, and had been sentenced by probably the most savage judge on the bench, Commissioner Ker, to fourteen years' imprisonment for receiving a quantity of stolen silverware, which he had his employers sell for him. He was about to be released, and I determined to make use of him, but with[Pg 468]out letting him know the truth, for I knew that if he suspected he was merely doing a good turn for the chum he left behind him, he, like the Home Secretary himself, without the right kind of inducement would have left his friend to stop where he was until the bottomless pit was frozen over hard enough to hold a barbecue on it. Barton, by my directions, told Smith of his good fortune, and that he hoped on his father's return to be liberated. Smith then did exactly what I expected and wanted him to do. He said there was no need to wait until then; he was going to be released in a few days, and "if you like I will send in a petition for you; it can't do you any harm, and it may get you released immediately." Barton at once accepted the offer, and told him that if successful the post of manager on the Indian estate would be at his disposal. He also suggested to ask me to write the petition. Smith managed to see me in the course of the day, and, supposing me to have no knowledge of the matter, explained the situation and asked me to write the petition. Needless to say, I promised everything asked for, and added that I would make it my business to have the petition in London at some place where he could find it the day of his discharge.


The petition was prepared, setting forth all the interesting facts for the edification of the right honorable gentleman in the Home Office, and after being submitted to Barton and Smith, sent to the latter's address in London.[Pg 469]

Millbank is a gigantic prison in the heart of London every one of the thousand cells of which cost the Government £300 to build. This is the establishment where David Copperfield visited Mr. Uriah Heep when that gentleman was under a cloud, and heard him express the wish that "everybody might get 'took up' so that they could learn the error of their ways." For many years all London men whose sentences had expired were brought here for release, and here Smith came a few days after the petition was posted.[Pg 470] On the morning of his discharge and within an hour after passing through the gates of Millbank he left the petition personally at the Home Office. Two days afterward one of the clerks acknowledged its receipt, accompanied with the gratifying assurance that it was under consideration. A week later Mr. Smith was notified that the release would be granted. He immediately telegraphed the news to my warder, who told me, and I told Barton. Two days more and the release came down, Barton went on his way rejoicing and every one was glad at his happy fortune. The only one who felt much disappointment was very likely poor Smith, who never heard of his friend again.


[Pg 471]



The successful issue of this little enterprise gave me great satisfaction. There was, of course, nothing in it for me, nor did I want anything, but it furnished me with an excellent standpoint from which to address the Home Secretary should the occasion ever arise.

The occasion did arise some time after, and I utilized it in this way: A friend of mine had come over from America to see me and to try if it were not possible to obtain some reduction in the sentence. My postman warder was away at the moment, so letter-carrier facilities were cut off. I wanted very much indeed to communicate with my friend, and applied to the Home Secretary explaining the position and asking him to let me write two letters immediately. At the end of eight weeks an answer came back that the Home Secretary had carefully considered the application and could find no sufficient grounds for advising Her Majesty to grant the prayer thereof. The next day I obtained a petition sheet from the governor and wrote the following petition:

"To the Right Hon. Sir William V. Harcourt, Secretary of State for the Home Department:

"The petition of, etc., humbly showeth: That two months ago I petitioned the Home Secretary for permission to write two letters, explaining the urgency of the occasion and pointing out that the request was by no means unusual. Yesterday the answer arrived telling me, with as much truth,[Pg 472] I have no doubt, as kindness, the anxiety with which the right honorable gentleman has been for eight weeks considering the petition.

"I hasten to express to the Home Secretary the regret I cannot but feel at the thought of causing him so much concern, which I sincerely trust has had no prejudicial effect upon his health. I regret this the more as there was really no necessity for requiring eight whole weeks of his time to the inevitable great neglect of the public business, for no man who owns or who is known to be able to get a half sovereign ever has the slightest difficulty in sending out as many clandestine letters as he chooses. This, of course, is an infraction of the rules, and any reasonable man would rather get along in a friendly spirit with the prison authorities than be at war with them, but when trifling favors which it requires but to stretch out the hand to take are refused, rules, prison authorities and the Home Secretary himself are contemptuously set aside and the forbidden favor taken.

"I trust that this knowledge will save the Home Secretary any repetition of the anxiety he has suffered on this occasion, but while regretting my want of success in petitions for myself I desire to thank the right honorable gentleman for the kind attention he pays to my petitions for others.

"The Home Secretary will perhaps remember his merciful consideration of the case of Mr. Frederick Barton, whom he released some short time ago, but it will perhaps be news to him to hear that it was I who invented Mr. Barton's fortune and wrote the petition which furnished the grounds for advising Her Most Gracious Majesty to extend her royal clemency to the deserving young man. The result of my petition by no means surprised me, for I was always confident that an English gentleman could never be guilty of the solecism against English customs implied by keeping in prison a young gentleman who could perform so meritorious an act as to fall heir to many bags of gold and sixteen thousand acres of cotton land in India.

"Mr. Barton had previously petitioned for mercy pointing out that he was but 17 years old at the time of his arrest, and asking that his extreme youth might plead for him. This petition the Home Secretary treated with very proper contempt, but it was really delightful to contrast that contempt[Pg 473] with the respectful and instant attention shown to the petition of the young heir.

"I have a difficulty in expressing the comfort with which I saw an English Home Secretary, with all the power of the Empire in his hands to protect him against imposition, releasing a criminal after reading a sheet of foolscap covered with lies, which had been left at the Home Office by a released convict within half an hour after passing through the gates of Millbank. It is but the merest justice, however, to add that poor Mr. Smith, the presenter of the petition, was as badly humbugged as the Home Secretary himself. The glitter of gold was flashed before his eyes as it was before the eyes of Sir William Vernon Harcourt, and with equal effect.

"To me this effect was certain, as not the slightest doubt existed in my mind that the moment it became a question of great sums of money all distinctions would vanish and pickpocket and Home Secretary would scramble on to the same foothold.

"The result, it is unnecessary to add, perfectly justified me. As I watched the lucky Frederick set out to return to the stable he came from it occurred to me that had he understood German, which he did not, nor English either, for that matter, he might have whispered joyfully to himself, in the words of another dealer in ways that are dark and tricks which are vain:

"'Es ist gar hubsch von einem grossen Herrn,
So menschlich mit dem Teufel selbst zu sprechen.'

"Doubtless, however, the Home Secretary will feel, as I do myself, that he acted in this matter in accordance with the commonest dictates of duty, and I beg to assure him that, having every facility for sending out as many letters as I please, I shall never again cause him weeks of anxious consideration. Respectfully submitted,


Whatever Sir William Vernon Harcourt may have thought about the petition, he said nothing, but I dare say he did not feel flattered. It required no small daring to send it, but as I knew I had nothing to hope from him I[Pg 474] could look with perfect equanimity upon any consequences likely to follow.

The governor of the prison did not dare to violate the regulations by refusing to send my petition, written as it was on an official form and duly entered on the books of the establishment, but he sent for me in hot haste. Assuming a threatening air, he demanded how I dared to play such monkey tricks. Officially the governor was a hot member and enforced an iron discipline both with wardens and the men, but personally he was not a bad fellow, so I merely laughed and asked him if he was a critic and reviser of petitions; therefore, a local Home Secretary. He saw I was not to be intimidated, and almost begged of me not to do so any more. As he was a pretty good fellow, and I had no wish to cause him any embarrassment, I readily promised, provided I was permitted now and then to write a special letter. This permission he intimated would not be withheld, and there, so far as the governor was concerned, the incident ended. But so unheard-of a document emanating from a prisoner created a sensation among the officers, who all came to know of the matter, and added several degrees to whatever respect they were inclined to have for me.

As there is no attempt at humor in this book, and since I am on the subject of petitions, I will give here a copy of one sent by a fellow prisoner who was somewhat of a character and whose name was Niblo Clark.

To some of the prisoners the art of reading and writing is an all but insoluble mystery. Every man is allowed a small slate, and many of the prisoners spend an incredible amount of painful toil and mental wrestling in preparing a petition, which, by the way, never does any good. Poor Niblo for a whole year, through all the Summer's warmth and Winter's frost, spent his spare hours producing this petition, and I think my reader will agree with me that it is a masterpiece of its kind.[Pg 475]


Register No. Y 19.Name, Niblo Clark,
Present Age, 40.Confined in Chatham Prison.
 Date of Petition, January 15, 1890.
Old Bailey, London.
Burglary. 15 years. In Hospital.

To the Right Honorable Henry Mathews, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department:

The Petition of Niblo Clark Humbly Sheweth—

The Right Honorable Secretary the great benefit your humble petitioner would derive by a speedy removal from this damp and foggy inhospitable Climate to a milder one; the atmostphere here his thoroughly prejudicial to your petitioners health and causes me to be a great Sufferer i am Suffering from asthma accompanied with bad attacks of Chronic bronchitis and have been now 3 long years Confined to a bed of Sickness in a Sad and pitable Condition and upon those Clear grounds and physical proofs your petitioner humbly prays that it may please the Right Honorable Secretary to order my removal to a warmer and milder Climate necessity also compels me to complain of repeated acts of injustice and Cruely committed again me, and which in some respects Might Justly undergo the imputation of ferocity there are numbers and frivolous and false charges conspired against me and every time i am discharged from here the Governor takes them Seperate one each and trys to murder me: i have been No less then Six weeks at one time on bread and Water accompanied with a little penal Class and all the officers are incouraged to practise all kinds of barbarious maltreatment against me and other sick men—theres is one officer here place here for the express purpose of tantelizing me and other his Name is Warder Newcombe this officer sir has barbariously struck and assaulted patients on there Sick bed and Several has complained of it to the Governor—But i am Sorry to say its greatly fostered and incouraged especially upon me it is quite useless to complain of anything to the Governor.[Pg 476]

Right Honourable Sir i humbly beg that you will listen to my woe
for what i Suffer in Chatham prison the one half you do not Know
From repeated attacks of this frightful disease i am getting worse each day
So i humbly trust you will have me removed without the least delay

In making my request in poetry Sir i hope you wont think i am Joking
for the greatest favour you can bestowe upon me is to Send me back to Woking
For in this damp and foggy Climate its impossible to ever get better
So i humbly trust in addition to this you will grant me a Special letter

Another little case i wish to State if you Sir will Kindly listen
has it would Cause a Vast amount of talk all round and about the prison
I mean if Niblo Clark Should be sent upon some public Works
it would cause more talk then the late dispute between the russians and the turks

in foggy wheather with my disease it would be impossible to larst one hour
and if you doubt the accuracy of what i say i refere to doctor Power
or any other naval doctor or one from the army garrison
they one and all would say the Same and likewise Doctor Harrison

Since my reception in this here prison i have been a most unfortunate man
and i will tell you the why and wherefore as well as i possibly Can
for every time i been in this hospital its the whole truth what i Say
[Pg 477]for my medical treatment i assure Sir i have dearly had to pay

A regular marked man i have been for them all its well known to Captain Harris
for the list of reports against me would reach from this place to paris
So i humbly beg Right Honourable Sir you will grant this humble petition
for i am sorry to State i have nothing to pay having lost both health and remission

Such Cruel injustice to poor Sick men is far from being just and right
but to report Sick patients in hospital is the officers Chief delight
But perhaps kind Sir you might imagine that they only do this to a dodger
But its done to all—Austin Bidwell as well and likewise to poor Sir Roger (Tichborne).

like Savage lions in this infirmary the Officers about are walking
to Catch and report a dying poor man for the frivolous Charge of talking
and when we go out from hospital our poor bodies they try to Slaughter
by taking these reports one at the time and Killing us on bread and water

I am suffering a Chest and throat disease a frightful Chronic disorder
and to go out from hospital is attempting Suicide to get heaps of bread and Water
for it is such cruel treatment made me as i am and brought me to the Verge of the grave
So in conclusion Right Honourable Sir a removal i humbly Crave

if this petition should not be sent prisoners abstain from further writting who will explain his case more Clearly to the Visiting director and i wish to have this petition Submitted to the director by your truly humble servant Niblo Clark[Pg 478].



By a refinement of cruelty we had been separated and sent to prison wide apart; for twenty years I had not seen the face of one of my friends. But there was an invisible bond between us that no tyranny could break. How blessed the happy forethought that made us, in that dark hour, amid our despair, make that promise!

Ten years had slowly dragged by, 1883 came, and my devoted family felt that I, and my comrades, too, had paid, as was right, our due to justice, and we ought to be liberated. They determined that it would not be their fault if I remained in captivity. So that year my sister came to England and remained permanently there. She worked bravely and well, but year after year passed without result. None of us was prepared for the vindictive fury of the Bank of England—its power was all-potent with the Government. George had been bedridden for years, and was slowly dying. At length, in 1887, the medical officer of the prison certified his speedy death was certain, and the Government released him to die; but he resolved that he would not die until we were free. With liberty and hope health came slowly back, and he devoted every hour to working for our liberation; but for a time devoted in vain. More than once had I seen the prison emptied and filled again. Of all the life prisoners I had met there on my arrival, or who for years after had joined me, I was the sole survivor.[Pg 479]

One by one sickness or insanity, born of despair, had laid them in the prison graveyard or buried them in the asylum. Out of more than seventy life prisoners none had lived to be liberated, and determined appeared the Bank of England directors that I should not form an exception; but that if ever the prison doors were opened to me it should be only when so near death that I might join the many who had gone before.

My fate seemed inevitable, but never for a moment did I cease to believe that Fortune's frowns would one day disappear and that I should yet again feel the warmth and sunshine of her smile. From his sick bed, and in his health, our comrade never ceased his efforts. He succeeded in interesting James Russell Lowell and many others in my behalf. The President asked the English Government officially to grant my release. Mr. Blaine, the Secretary of State, sent a very strong letter through Minister Lincoln in London, and I thought when told of it that my day to go was not far away.

It will interest Americans, perhaps, to hear that the representations of the President and of the Secretary of State of the United States met the same courtesy as was shown to all the previous ones. Still, George was not discouraged. He sent agents to England, who managed to interest the newspapers in the matter, and never did he cease, until by the statements of the press upon the ferocity of my treatment, the reproaches of my friends and the representations of many I had never seen, including Lady Henry Somerset, Mrs. Helen Densmore (then residing in London) and the Duke of Norfolk, at last the Home Secretary felt the pressure, and all unwillingly—"much against his will," as he termed it—was forced to order my release.

"Thou shalt forget thy misery and remember it as waters that pass away."[Pg 480]

Twenty years had passed away since I had bade my friends good-bye under the Old Bailey, and now 1893 had come. It was a frosty February night, and I was alone in that little room with its arched roof and stone floor. It was past 7 o'clock, and the prison gloom and stillness had settled down on all the inmates, when suddenly there came the noise of hurrying feet that echoed strangely from the arched roof as the warders tramped loudly on the stone floor of the long hall. A rush of feet, or, indeed, anything that broke the horrible stillness at that hour, was startling. They were the feet of the reserve guard, which was never called in save when the patrol who glided around the corridors in slippered feet discovered some suicide. Many a heartbroken man had I known in that twenty years who in his despair ended his misery thus.

While wondering who the unfortunate could be I heard their steps mounting the stairway leading to my landing, and then a sudden thrill shot through me as they turned down the corridor toward my cell. My heart stood still as I thought, could they be coming for me? I had a sudden frenzy of fear that they might pass my door, but no, they came straight on, halted, and Ross, a principal officer—I had known him twenty years—gave a thundering rap on my door and shouted, "I want you!" Then a key rattled in the lock, the door was thrown open and three friendly faces looked in. Faint, deadly white, trembling like a frightened child, I started to my feet trying to speak, but no sound came from my lips for a moment. At last I stammered, "What's the matter?" Ross thrust his form through the door, and with face close to mine said the thrilling words, "You're free!" I cried, "I don't believe you!" and Ross said: "Come on, my boy; it's all right."

Like one in a dream I passed out through the door of that little cell whose grim, narrow walls had frowned on me for a score of years and had in vain tried to crush my spirit.[Pg 481]

Still like one in a dream I went down that long hall listening only to the strange sound of my own footsteps and saying to myself: "It is all a dream. I will awake, as I have from thousands of like dreams, and find myself again in my dungeon."

I was led into the outer office, where some papers were read to me, and then others given me to sign, but I listened or signed like one in a maze. Suddenly I saw Ross thrust the key into the outer door. That roused me, and the thought flashed into my mind, now I will see a star.

The heavy door rolled on its hinges, the ponderous gate was flung back. Stepping out, I intuitively looked up, and a sudden awe fell upon me, for there, like a revelation, shone the Milky Way, with its millioned arch of radiant suns. At the sight of that miracle of glory, my heart beat fast. I realized that I was free, with health and strength, with courage to begin again the battle of life, and in my irrepressible emotion I cried aloud, and my cry was like a prayer—"God is good."


The counterfeit plate. A FIVE-POUND NOTE.
The counterfeit plate.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Bidwell's Travels, from Wall Street to
London Prison, by Austin Biron Bidwell


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