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An Artist In Crime

An Artist In Crime image
Parent Issue
Day
11
Month
August
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

[Copyright, 1895, by G. P. Putnam's Sons.J 'Ton must provo that, " said Mr. Randolph, "and, according toour agreement, it must have boeu a crime which was inuch talked about. " "Quite right, my friend, but I shall be able to demónstrate all that. By a curious coiucidence a robbery was committed on the very night and upon the same train tipou which we made our wager, while another robbery was committed almost at the moment when the stipulated month expired. Thns two crimes transpired within the time allowed me, and with both of these my name bas been connected in the mind of the detective, Mr. Barnes. Now, tbat vou all may better understand the cnmstances I must go to what I rmght cal] the beginning. Years ago certain circumstances in my earlier life gave me an intímate acquaintance with the methods used by detectives, and I then acquired the idea vyhich led me into this tmdertaking - that where the criminal has succeeded in escaping actual watching dtiring the comniission of his crime, so that there is no witness to the act, the detective is almost powerless tmtil he learas the object for whioh the crime was undertaken. Am I not right, Mr. Barnes?" "To know the object of a crime, of course, is a great assistance, but much would depend upon the attendaut circumstances. " "True. The object then is important. From this point I reaehed the conclngion that if a man approached another, totally unknown to him, at night in a lonely neighborhood, struck him on the head, killing him, and then, unseen, reaehed his own home, itwould rest entirely with himself whether or not he would ever be caught. I wanted a chance to try this experiment - that is, to commit a crime solely to test the ability of the detectives to discover me afterward. The difiiculty was that a gentleman of honor would scarcely wish to engage in such a reprehensible piece of business. For years, theref ore, I could think of no way to have my wish, till the merest c'hance threw the opportunity within my grasp. NV aiter, fill tip the glasees. He paused a moment while this was beiiig done. The meo went around with champagne, and when Mr. Thauret was reaohed he asked to have his burgundy glass filled also. Mr. Mitchel was again speaking when the waiter retnnxed with the red wine and did as reqnested. Mr. Barnes also presented his glass for the same liquor, saying in an tmdertone to Mr. Thauret, "I caunot take too much champagne." "One of ruy hobbies," continued Mr. Mitchel, "as yon all know, is the collection of jewels. A few years ago I heard that a magnificent set wasoffered for sale. A rich East Indian nobleman, so the storv aoes, liad procured the geins as a present to his wife. They were of the cboicest quality and of each exactly two, matched precisely iu size, eatting and eoloration. Iu time he liad two danghters, twius, the mother dying at their birth. Eventually these girls grew up and were married, the cereinony being a doublé wedding. The father took the set of jewels and divided them, giving to each girl one of each. This greatly dirainished their value, for the matchiug of genis adds to their price. "Reverses of fortune tenipted one of these woinen to offer her jewels for sale. They were taken to a Paris dealer, who chanced to be a man through whom I had made many purchases. He undertook not only to dispose of thegems, but to reproduce them with a high order of imitation, so that the wonian tained the original settings and contiuued to wear what lier friends sup posed to be tbe germine gems. I botight the unset stoues. Subsequeutly her sister, learning the secret, aud seeing that there was a way by which the jewelry conld be retained, while the jewels tbemselves could be turned into rnoney, engaged the same dealer to serve her in a similar way. Of course I was doubly anxious to obtain this second lot, for by doing so I enhanced the value of those ■which I had already. I tüeref ore bought them also. " He paused a moment, to allow the compauy to recover from the surprise at learniug that the stolen jewels were his. "This lot was sent to me through tlie Boston custom house. I instructed the dealer to do this becaase I had fouud that goods can be received with lesa delay in Boston thau in New York. Being notified by my broker there that they were ready for delivery, I went to Boston and obtained tbern. I placed the wallet in a peculiar satchel which had been made to order for me, and carried it to my room at the Hotel Vendóme. Later in the day I met Mr. Eandolph, and went with him to a theater. He was to return to New York by the midnight expres, and I went with him to the depot. As we stood awaitmg our turn to purchase tickets you may imagine myutter astonishmeut to seea wornan naf-s and board the train having my fsatebel in her hafid. ïbere oould be no mistake whatever, because the satchel ■was peculiar, both ia shape and color. Of conrse I saw at once I bad been robbed. It was usoiess to go back to my hotel for that would be time wasted. If by' any miracle there were trwo such satchels, mine was safe in the hotel. I therefore astoniehed Mr. Randolpta by offering to accompany him, and I rlid so, oconpyirig the same section with "While I was thinking vbat act i on. I should pnrsue, knowing that once the train started my thief wóuld bo safe as far ns New Haven, Mr. Eandolph bégan to praise lu. Barnes, and Iika a flash ik carne to me that this was my chance. I would rob the thief of my own property. Thus if caught I could not be imprisoned, while if not I would not only win ïny wager, but I would have the exciternent and the satisfaction for which I had wished. One thing threatened to upset my plans. Mr. Barnes by an odd chance carne aboard the same coach, was given the section next to ours and overheard our conversation. This of course I could not have counted upon. " "Youdidtake it into y our account, though," interrupted Mr. Barnes. "Yon mean that I refused to teil Mr. Randolph what I meant to do, saying that I might be overheard, and that I might even be talking for the benefit of a listening detective? True, but I had no idea that this was so. It was merely extreme precaution, and only shows that we can never be too cautious in an endeavor to keep a secret. Later, however, T henrrl von set un. and Deepiue through the curtains I saw yoa sitting up or rather lying in a berth opposite, with the cuvtains drawn. I at once supposed that you must be a detective. My companion was soi.i asleep, but with $100,000 worth of jewels in the balance I could not sleep. I was busy wondering what I should do. I think, though, that 1 must have dozed, for I know that I was startled to discover suddenly that we were not moving. I looked out of our section window - fortunately I was next to it - and found that we had run into the depot at New Haven. Like a flash it carne to me that the thief might leave the train here. I was about to get up, when to my astonishment I noticed a man sneaking along by the side of the train. I was on the side opposite to that from which the passengers would alight, and the suspicious actions of the man forced me to watch him. He passed so close to me that I could have touched him had my window been open, and as he did so the light of an electric lamp rtisnlnsed the fact that he had my satchel. The thief had been robbed already. The man appioached a coal biu, and stooping shoved the satchel behiud it. Then he retnmed to the train and came aboard. "I said to myself: 'That fellow is an artist. He will remain on board till the robbery is discovered, if necessary, and even -'.Uow himself to be searched. Then hu ' 11 qtlietly come back and get the satenel and jewels. ' Thus it was my cue to act quickly. But if I lef t the train I knew that the detective would see me. I therefore gently raised the sash and deftly let ruyself to the ground out of the window. I quickly took the satchel, ran to the end of the depot, and found a place where I could sbove it far under the platform. Then I climbed back into the berth, and after that I assure you I slept very well. " The company applauded this description of how the robbery had been committed, and Mr. Mitchel bowed. ' ' Wait. mv friends ; we are not throngh yet. The woman who had robbed me had the supreme audacity to report her loss, or perhaps we should say that she ■was so angry that she becaine desperate. I have reason to believe that she had an accomplicein thisrnan, and that guspecting hirn of robbiug her she would ha-ve been willing to give testimony against hini if oaught and trust to escape herself by turning state's evidenoe. When we were running in to New York, Mr. Barnes directed that all should be searched. I enjoyed thar, 1 assure you. It seerued so amusiug to look in New York for what I knew was in New Haven. At the sanie time I was anxious to get back to New Haven as quickly as possible. With that end in view I invited Mr. Barnes to breakfast with me. I tried to make it appear that I was anxious to have him agree to be the only detective on niy track, but in reality I wished to discover whether he would be able at once to place a spy at rny heels ; that is, whether he had a man at the Grand Central already. ïhis I found was the case. I theretore waa obliged to go to my hotel as thongh having no desire to leave town again. Theu subsequeutly I eluded this man by the couveuieut bridges across the elevatud railroad. I weut to New Haveu, fouud tbe satchel, and theu deposited it at a hotel ueai by for safe keepmg. My object in this was plain. I kuew that the robbery wonld get intn the uewspapexs, aud that by behaving Buspiciously at the hotel - of course, I was disguised- attentiou would be attracted there. This did happen, and tbe result was that the jswels were given into the cnstoOy oí Uie pólice authorities, the very safest place for them, so far as I was concerned. Gentlemeu, that is the story of the crime wh.ich I comraittcd. I have only to show my receipt from the Boston custom house and ruy bill of sale from the Paris dealer to be able to recover ïny property. Are you satisfied, Mr. Randolph?" "Entirely. You have won fairly, and I have a ciieck for the amoimt -svithme, which you must accept with my congratulations upon your success. " "Ithank ycm very mnoh, " said Mr. Mitchel, taking the check. "I take this because I havo iimnertiate nse for it, as you vrill learn directly. Now I must teil you the true story of the other robbery. " , . , At this all wei-e very wuch otïs. 'He placed oue'haud over the top Of his claret glass, and let it rest there a moment, after first having taken a sip froin it. "You all recall the fact that I was sick in Philadelphia, " continued Mr. Mitchel, "at the time of the Ali Baba festival. I flatter myself that that was the most artistic thing that I have done throughout this whole affair. Any one seeing me would have been satisfied that I was truly ill, yet, in point of fact, myeough was brought on by drugs administered to me by my physician at my espress desire, and for purposes which I had explaiued to him. I guessed that I had been followed to Pbiladelphia and took care that I should not be too closely -watched, as Mr. Barnes knows. Yet I expected that after the afEair Mr. Barnes himself would come to Philadelphia to see me, and my artificially prodnced illness was to baffle him. But I am anticipating events. After the train robbery the woman was murdered. By what seemed an odd chance she was in the same house where my wife then lived. I knew that I had been followed frorn the theater to that house on the night of the nrarder. I knew that other circnmstances pointed strongly to my guilt. But I had the advantage over the detective, for I knew that the man who had stolen the jewels from the woman, not finding them when he returned to New Haven, must have been furious. Judging the woman br himself, he would suppose that at least it was possible that she bad taken them f rom the satchel herseli. Then on that sliin chance raight he not have retnrned to the woman, and, adnaitting the theft of the satchel, have endeavored to make her confess that she .still had the jewels: Failing in this, might he not either in a fit of anger or to prevent her from 'peaching,' as they cali it, have ent her throat?" "You are wrong there, Mr. Mitchel," said the detective. "The woman was killed while she slept. There was no struggle. " "Even so, we can imagine the sneak going into the house and killing her that he might search for the genas undisturbed, and also to rid himself of a companion for whom he no longer had any need. At least, that was the view that I took of it, and, more than that, I feit convinced that I knewthe man. " At this moment Mr. Thauret nervously reached forth his hand toward his glass of wine, but before he could get it Mr. Barues had taken it up and drained it to the bottom. Mr. Thauret seemed livid with wrath, and a dramatic incident ocenrred, unobserved by the rest of the company. Mr. Thauret turned toward Mr. Barnes and seemerl on the point of making a demonstration, when that gentleman just tipped back his chair slightly, and meaningly exposed to the view of his neighbor the gleaming barrel of a revolver, which he held in his hand below the table. This only occupied a moment, and immediatelv afterwaria both men seemed, like the others, siinply interested listeners to the narrative. "When I say that I thought that I knew the man," continued Mr. Mitchel, "I make a statement which it may interest you to have meexplain. Iu the first place, I saw the fellow wbo hid the satchel at the New Haven depot. Still I obtained but a ruoinentary glimpse of his face and would not have been snre of identifying him. I will all your atfcention uow to the fact that very slight incidents sometiines lead the rnind into a suspieion, which, followed up, may elucídate a mystery. Prior to the train robbery I had met a man at my club one night, or rather I had seen him playing a oard game, and I conoeived the notion that the fellow was cheating. "Within a few days of the robbery I met this man again, on which occasion Mr. Barnes was present, and an kiteresting conversation occurred. I was standing aside, pretending to be otherwise engaged, but really puzzliug over the face of this man, which uowseemed to me strikingly familiar. Of course I had seen him at the club, yet despite me therewas an intuitive feeling that I had seen him elsewüere also. In a moment I heard him admit that he had been aboard of the train on the night of thé robbery, and that he had been the firsi one searched. Awhile later he offm-pfl to waser Mr. Barnes that various ■heoriea whioh had been advauced as to the thief 's uietbod of secretiug the jgwslswere all erronecras. This one remark satisfied me that the thief stood before me. I had not theh hea-rd of the muider. Now it mnst be remembered tbat I was insnared iu the nieshes of eircumstautial evidence myself, so that, besides auy duty that I inight owe to society, it becaine of vital irnportanee to rny own safety that I should be iu a position to prove this man guilty. I fornaed a rather bold plan. I made a friend of thefellow. I iuvited him to inyroorn one night aud then aocusêd him of having cheated at the card game. He at first assumed a threateuiug attitude, bnt I retained my composure and perhaps startled him by proposing to form i partnership by vhich we could fleece die rich chibmen. I hinted to him that I really possessed less money thau I am credited with, and that what I did have I had taken at the tables ou the continent. He then adniitted that he had a 'system,' antVfrom that time we posed as good friends, thongh I do not think he ever fnlly tnisted me. I learned from him that bis partner in the game where I caught him cheating was entirely innocent and mado him promise not to play with him again, for I had discovered that the detectives had been told of this g.ame, and theref pre, knew that they would be watching both men when playing cards. I therefore preferred to be the partner inyself npou snch occasions. "Having somewhat won the fellow's confidence, I was ready for my great scheme in baffling the detective so that I might win my wager and at the same time cntrap mysuppeot. I had conceived the Ali ftaba festival. I showed Mr. Barnes one day the ruby which I afterward Dresenteji to bj wife. At the same time I told bim that if be should come to tbe conclusión that I was innocent of the train robbery, he might as well remember that I would still have to comrnit the crime as agreed upon. Then I arranged that the festival should occnr on New Year'a night, the very day on which my month would expire. I knew that all this wonld lead tbe detective to believe that I meant to rob my fiancee, a crime for which I might readily have escaped punishment, with her assistance. There he misjudged me. Iwould not for treble the surn have bad her name mixed up in snch a transaction. She knew absolutely nothing of my inteutions; though beiug at that time in ignorance of the details of the train robbery, I left her inind in a condición not to offer resistance to the thief, who she might suppose to be myself. Then, af ter laying my trap, at the last moment I baited it by asking my fiancee to wear the ruby pin in her hair. I went to Philadelphia, and feigned sickness. Then I eluded the spy and carne on myself. Mr. Barnes I snpposed would be present, and I had arranged that if so he would necessarily be in one of the dóminos of the Eorty Thieves. I had invited my suspeci to assume the role of Ali Baba, but he shrewdly persuaded some one else to take the costume, himself donning one of the Forty Thieves' dresses. This compelled me to go around speaking to every one so disguised, and to my satisfaction, by their voices, I discovered my man and alsoMr. Barnes. In the final tableau Mr. Barnes, who evidently was watching AH Baba, atteinpted to get near him, and by chance ■was immediately behind ruy man. Pearing that he would interfere with my plaus, I feil iu just behind him. My design was to tempt the fellow to steal the ruby, which, if he did, would satisfy at least myself that my suspicions were correct. It was perhaps a mad schame. but it succeeded. I had so arranged 'that every one should pass the sultan and ruake obeisance. In doing tbis, as my fiancee was seated on the floor, the ruby in her hair would be just at hand, and one who knew its high value could easily take it. I fully expected my man to do this, and I saw him gently witlsdraw it. Immediately Mr. Barnes stepped forward to seize him, but I held the detective from behind, then threw him into the advancing crowd, and, in the confusión, escaped from the house." Mr. Mitchel paused, and silence prevailed. All feit, rather than knew, that a tragedy might be at hand. Mr. Tbauret, however, in a moment said : "Are you not going to teil us the name of this sneak thief?" "No." auicklv responded Mr. el. "But you are -wrong to cali my suspect a sneak thief. If crime were a recoguized business, as gambling in Wall Street is now cousidered, this niau would be cotmted 'a bold operator. ' I confess tbat I admire hiru for his courage. But it would.scarcely do fór me to mention his name, when I am not in the positiou to prove that be is the guilty man." "I thought yon said that you saw him steal the rnby?" said Mr. Thauret. "I did, but as I myself had been suspected of that my unsnpported word would be inadequate. Let me teil you what I have done in the matter since. The most important step for me perhaps was to prevent the sale of the gern. This was not difncult, as it is knovn the world over. I warned all dealers and let my man know that I had done so. Next, I wished to delay a denouemeut until tonight, the time when my wager with Mr. Randolph would be settled. I soon discovered that my suspect wonld not be averse to a niarriage ■with a rich Americau girl. He questioned me adroitly as to the fortune which would come to my little sterin-law, aud I replied in such away that I knew he would bend his energies in that direction. Tbeu I did tbat which perhaps I should not have doue, but I feit myself master of the situation and able to control eveuts. I made a wager with Dora that she would Dot remain uneugaged until tonight, and I stipulated that shonld she have offers she should neither accept nor reject a suitor. I also told her, though I declined to fully explaiu how, that she wonld materially assist me iu winning my wager. ' ' This explains what Dora meant when she askedMr. Raudolph if money would ccmnt with hiin against ber love, When she accepted tbö wager with Mr. Mitchel, she hid been feeling resentful toward Mr. Randolph, who, as long as he suspected bis frieud of tbe graver crimes, hesitated to become counected witb him by uiamage. Tbis ruade bina less attentive to Dora, so tbat she bad not thought of him as a suitor when makiug the bet. When he declared himself, she recognized her predicameut and was correspondingly tronbled, yet determined to win, and so acted as related. By this time, tbougb Mr. Mitchel bad' oí raentioned the name of the criminal, several present knoví to whom he was alluding. Mr. Randolph said iuètuously : 'Then tbat esplains" - Here be stoppetl, confused. "Yes," said Mr. Mitchel, smiling, "tbat explains everything that has perplexed yon. Be reconciled for the time you have been made to wait, for you will now not onlj win the lady, but will recover this check, for I must pass it over to her as a forfeit. Gentlemen, shall we drink to the bealth and snccess of Mr. Randolph?" This was done in sileuce. The euests feit a constraint. They knew that more was y et to come aud ansiously -waited for it. Mr. Mitchel contiuued: "Gentlemen, that ends my story, except that I eugaged Mr. Barnes to takeup the threads of evidence whioh I gave him and to disentangle them if he could. Shall we beur his report?" There waa a curious bnttcn -which 1 fonud in the room where the nrarder was committed, ;ml vhich matched a set owued by Mr. Mitchel so closely that itjieeirjert to me to p_oint to him as dne who bad a gnilty" kuowledge. i spent inuch tirne following the clews that turned np in tbat connection, all of which, however, was not entirely misspent, for I discovcred thetrue name of the dead woman to be Rose Montalbon, and that aided me greatly in my later vork. At last, then, I abandoned tne idea that Mr. Mitchel was guilty and frankly admitted this. He then told me the name of the jeweler from whieh the buttons had boen ordered, and I weüLacros.s.the Atlantic (To ba continued )