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A Living Statue

A Living Statue image
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Li the hei#ht of tlie Exhibitien scrcftm of 1862 thero was a great deal of unpleasantness, mystery, and suspicion generatod in the Industrial Palaco by a constant succession of petty robbories, wliioh took place nearly cvery night at the best stalls. Articles of value were stolen from drawers aud boxes ; inoney left by stoll-keepers often went, unless very securely stowed away ; but the depredators dia not venture on taking any bulky articles, or on breaking open any receptacle wllich woidd requiro groat force. They knew their risks, that wa3 evident ; and that the thefte wefe committed by some person or persons oonnected with the Exhibition was also beyond a doubt. Watches had been sot, traps had been laid over and over again, but all in vaiu. When too much had been done in the way of planting watchmen, no roVjberies took place at all ; and whon articles liad been purpoeely left, apparently forgotten, but in reality flxed by the niinutest wires to bülls which Boundod at the slightest touch, they were left untouchod. 'ïho thief, if only one, ahvavs stole. too, from places in the íkado, so that lie could commaud a view jf the more open spaces, while ho himself was ruiseen. One momiug, as tlic Sergeant of Polioe was going is carly round beforo tha building was opened f or the day, he came upon an exliibitor and liis staiï of assistants, who were grouped niound a box whioh was open boforo them, and at whioli they were lookiiig with (hpparent interest. " Good morning, Mr. Baselton," said the offlcer; "a vory ftne day we aro likely to have." "Piue day, sir ! And a very flne night wo have had, too, I suppose;" retorted the exhibitor, in a tono far lcss pleasant than that in which ho had boen addrossod, "Here's a pretty aiïair ! Sovon' pounds' worth of Scotch peoblee set in silver brooohes, ear-rings, and eo forth- ihë wholo of them clean gone." The Sergeant, with exprossions of regi-et, said ho would see the oflioer who had been on duty. Mr. Baselton pro fessed to havo lost all confideuoe in the polioo, and asserted that if hc were to watch, the tluet wotua oerramiy uu uiboovered the very tirst night. "I wish you would try, tlien," stiid tho Sergeant, "I would obtain perrnission to wateh witfa yon, aud if yon can suggost anything fresh, I will gladly support you." , Although, wheu he made this last assertion, Mr. Bnaelton probaVjly meant uothing at all, yot, after a little talk with the offleer, the dedire of iiiidiiig tho thief , and Ms belief iii his own superior acutenoss, were strong euough to make him voluuteer to wateh ; and it was agreed that tho Sergeant should join him jiist as the Palaco was closing at night, when they would be on the look-out tlireetly, for it was impossiblo to say at what time of the night the robberies were comnaitted. Strict silence was eujomed on either side, and observad by the Sergeant entirely, and by Mr. Baaelton pretty well, as he only muntioned his plan to Mr. Chattenoux at tho French stall just by, and to his neighbors, Mr. Hynks and Mr. Carrables. Mr. Carrables, by the way was not thoro tliat niormng ; o Baselton told Mr. Glisser, Mr. CarraÍ)1bs' foreman, instead, who in a becomingly sympatbizing tone, wished Mm iuccess. ïhe evening came, tho spios met, and hung about the passages of the vast building until doepest twilight, and lintil Basolton was pretty noarly tired of being on his foet. " Now," said tho Sergeant, unconHciously dropping his voice as lie spoke, "wewilltako up our quarters. If we can only got there unpereeived, I have aiTangod what I think you will ünd a pretty good orner. " " All right," retiu-ned tho oxhibitor, in the same giiarded tone ; and tíiey stole noiselessly on, passing, once or twico, a Constable ; bat the presenoe of the Sergeant, of coui-se, prevented any qnestirming. Some largo 1-oxes, left, apparenfly by accident, at the angle of a Btaü, were, in reaKty, ko placed that th-y formed an almost perfect screen ; and, without any reason to Buppose that thoy had boon noticed, they slipped in and Rat down. Presently tho moon rose ; and, as n climbed higker, and its ugnt grew Htroiigor, tho building beoame visible t'ironghout with a light wliich was most unenrthly and ghostly in its eharacter. Thia impreased itself very much upon Baselton. " r had no idea, Sergeant, he pared t the offloer, " tbat tbe placo was j mik'Ii a strange, cometeryish sort of n)iot I as it ÍB. I must imn, L sbould not likc to be on duty hrac all iiight However, I liave brouglit somo little refreahmente with me, HO let us rnake ottteelves comfortable. In silence th-y ate and drank ; and in silenoe, save for the cliiming of the clock, or tbe oecasionnl tread of a policeman, the houra orept on. The ppliceuften paissed within a couple of yards of üie fltohöM rcpeatedly, but whether they kiiew of their presence or not, Baselton could not judge. The ength and weariness of the hours grew at, lant intolerable to him, mul, seeing thut the Sergeant was as eool aud Wideuwuke as when tbey fust entered their luir, he whispered, "I leel terriblj drowsy, Sergeant ; 1 ahvuyH do about thi.s time. i'ivo miimtes' nap will moke me aa freeh as a ilaixy. Rouse mo up il' you heiir befofe tliat time.' His compiuiion sniiled, and, in tuo name Bubdued tono, gave the promise. Notliing did happen requiring Mr. Biuseltoii's presenco either beforo or aiter tho oxpü-atiou of flve minutes, altbongh the officor Htealthily looked out a huudred times during the night. At last the darkness öiinned away, and tlnn. aftor a short gray twilight, dawn came, and the Sergeant shuok BaseltoB by tho shoulder. " Yes, yes ; I am ready," stammered Üie exhib'itor, thon oponed his eyes very wide indeed. " Why, it's daylight ! I inilQf llllW slplit, " " Yes, of conreo yon havo," ïnterrnpted the other, " but lot us g.i ont quietly. I don't mind our raen seeing us, of eourse but others need know uothing of oiir vmtch. " "Ithink the loss your men or anybody else know about" the way we kopt our'watch fche better," said Mr. J5asclton, as thoy loft the counter ; " in faei, T shall regard it as a frieudly lliing if yotl say nothing about it." Tlio Sergenlit miled, but kept his own colüisel ; and it may be hinted that Baselton wius a very liberal fUow, although somewhat hasty. It turned ont that no pilfering had taken place that yjght, nor did any occnr for two or thíee nights aft(r, a fact which Mr. Glisser attributed to tho influence of Mr. Baselton's vigilai)ci, He took great interest in the exhibitor's plans, and paid him several compliments, which the latter received ■with bnt indifferent grace, having reasons that the other knew not of for thinking but modestly of this same 1 lance. One moming, a little while aftor tlie i fruitless watch, Mr. Baselton was in a e very bad temper, for he had sustained a ( freèh loss. He was leaning against a i pillar, somo short distance frorn liis 1 counter, thoughtfully biting the end of f his penoil-casc, when a man spoko to ] him. He looked round at the sound, 1 and saw a Pólice Constable, whoua he 1 very much disliked for his apathy and unbusiness-like way, standing close by i him. He growled out somo hardly civil i words, and tiu-ned from the man, but the latter was not to bo daunted. "I am af raid you have hada loss, sir," said the man, " and hope it is not very serious ; but, at any rato, I should like a word or two with you." " What for ?" retorted Baselton. " I havo lost a gold watch, and as I have not breatned a sy Hable about it to a soul, I don't seo liow you could know anything of it, unless somo of your lively ' i'orco ' have " ,, " You are too severe. Mr. Baselton, said the otliev, tindingho stopped ; "you „ itidflflï. sir. Now. sir, I have my pinion nbout theíie robberioH, and I link I have found out tho ordor the lief worka in, and cuu pretty well guoss i wli at quarter he will next try. I beicvc I eau catch biin." "You!" exclaiined Baseltpn, with au mphasis wliich waa anything but coinilimentary to the offloer. "Yes, sir," reilicd the man, firmly ; "I eau. You havo a good deal of inlluenco -with tho authovities, and, ií' yon will aak, I nhall he tsikon off regular duty and detailed for special service, and I eau then oatchhim." "Well, teil me yojr plans," saidBaselton ; "and, in return, I will teil you this ; you knuw these ore L60 offered on tho quiit for tho iprdiension of the thiof. Kad hini, and I will make it L100." The Ckmstable smiled, and, lowering his voice, spoke to the eihibitor in v.liisjjera. Wlion he had liuished, Baseltsn slappod his hand on the counter with a foroe that Jarred every arlicle around, andexclaimed: "You aro right. Are you on duty?" " No, sir," said tlie man. "Then yon shall be." The application for tho Constable s chango of duty was doubtless made, for he disappeared from liis acoustomed patrol. During the next day or two Baselton became loqnacious on the subject, and, in conversation with Mr. Glisser, who took a very kindly interest in the matter, owned that he had chauged hia opinión abont the manner of the robberies. He ■WOB convineed, he said, that, if tho tlnet oame by night, he wonld have been eaught long before, but that everybody was on tho wrong scent, and that the kefte were really committed in the bustlo of elosing i'or the evening, and then, not being found out till the morning, it was naturally supposed that the thief oame in the night. Mr. GUsscr was very much struok by this view, which he commended highly, and nrged mcreased vigilanee about the time spoken of. While this was going on there had been no fresh depredatkmB from the counters, and Constable Lowcliffe had been absent from duty, although no one secined to have noticed it. When the visitas departed at the close of the day, all the mterior of the building bceann; depressing cnough as the Iight i'aded uway, and there were 110 plaoes more spectral in their aspect than those where clustered most elosely tho white statuen, which were plentifully sprinldod about. Nymphs, Venuses, Bacchuses, and Apollos, Grecian huutevs, SoripturaJ and mythologicai figures, all looked eriually ghostly in their dim white, when the twilight or night had fallen upon them. So, in tho gray of the mormng, all tho statuivry looked mystic and unearthly onough, as tho stony figures looked down from their pedestals ; l'ut none looked moiv aepulohral than did a tall sheeted flgiu-e which occupied a pedestal slightly screened - oome irom which direction the yisitora DMght--by two or three group. Tlils liguro might luwe been taken in the distance, and m the dim Iight, for a Jevish priest, or a Druid, or anything of tho kind ; btlt, had any onc come neaft enough to ine] ■■, it would Lavo boen seen tliat tlie leng robe was of liiien, not stone, and thnt the face was less that of an sadent hero than a modem oae. And, what was ether strange, Ürifl particnlar pedestal waa empty all day, aud only oocupifid at night, Htnnding at thia pariacalat spot, any one could sco, in eveiy diroction íor a ponaiderable distonoe, and there waa scaiícely any Indüig-plaeo near ; the Droidon his pedestal liad uo doubtreckoned on these f acts having great Weight with the maiTOidcr. Several nights had Kone by, and no discovory made, yot Ned Lowdiffe crept silontly to his selectcd station, and, aasmning his disguiaö as the Bhrondea Btatne, patiently watched all through the darkness; m patieaÜT ! that no one not near enongh to touch I him coiüd have imagined that he differed Í f rom the effigies around. It was yet oomparativeïy enrly 111 liis waUh, oii a eertain night, and a young moon just tljrow sufiieieut light here and there tu niaki' cvcr.vthhiK more unoertaln , tluui usual, whcn LowcliftV, findiug himsolf u little oramped from standing so long Lu one positioii. pniavcil to mako oue of tho guarilcil sktftó ne was foroed tü indulge üi during the eveaing; but, just as lio commenoed carefully to draw ono leg beliiud tlie otlier, ho stopped, rolled his eyes eagerly round, and tiien renaained so motionless ho sowwely breathed. With stop almowt noiaeless-- but not quite so for such a listener's ears - a man glided round the ngle of u j cloHo by, and, standing close by ■[ Lowcliffe, paused, stooped, lookcd along the floor in every direction, tlien sat apon an adjacent pedestal, and, leaning against j the legs of a Hercules, listened. If tho procesa of pei-Bpiration were not wholly a oiiuiit r,nr. T,r.w'liflT wnnlil have been trayed, for the cokl beads caino upon hiB forehead, m he saw liow near ha wan to a dÍBcovery. The lnan WM sitting on the very next pedesiaï, a. block which most touched his ora. There he waited quictly for a while, not very long, but ! long enough to assure himsolf that no patrol was cotiiing that way; tlien he rose, and iü a few steps was at the nearest i counter, and had tried a key in the look; I one or two attoinpte failed, but at last a door opened, and his hcad and shoulders were lost to sight; he reappeared with a small box, which he placed on the ; ground beforo him, and then tóed onc or two keys. Again tlie lock yielded, the lid was thrown back, and a few articles were rapidly transí eiTed tófiio man's pocket. 8ome object, however, seemed tinknown to him, and he held it up against ! the dim light, endeavoring to make out what it was. To liis horror, one of the statues sprang frm its pedestal toward lim. It was instantaneous, but the flash was enongh; the figuro all in white j ( moved, and leaped upon him; thon, with j , i feariul yell, which rang from oud to , and of the building, the thief feil in a fit j , upon the floor. Alarmed by the scream, , two or three oflïcers were speedily at the , spot, and tnrning on their lanterns, were , nearly as mucli astonislied in thi'ir turn to see a white-sheeted figuro standing by the side of a man in convulsiona. When their momeutary surprise had oeased upon their discovoring whp tho sheeted figure was, Üioy proceeded to unfasteu the prostrate man's scarf and collar, sprinkled him with water, and Lifted him from tho ground ; bis j gles oeased, and a few long breaths announced that he was " coming to." "Idon'tknow him," said one of tho Constables. " I do, though !" exdaimed Lowoliile " Well ! of all th parties as 1 oould have i Bupposed, I never could have supposed lüm. "Why it's that blcssed Glisser,- from the stall nêxt to old Basélton ; a fí-llow that look as if buttor wouldn't melt in his mouth." "WhereamI?- who oio youï saad ;ho miserable oulprit. " Oh, we're partietdar f rienda of yoiiTB," replied the officcr. " Rut I saw- I Biuv oae of thosc tbings move," Baid tlio man, lookiiig timidly round with a dreadful shudder. Lowi'Hli'e had Btripped 08 his white rabnent ly this tim# and SO did not shock tlio wretched Qlisser's eyes. . "We will teil you all abont tliat 111 the morning," said the Constable. "Whatyou havo got to do is to como along with us." ); It-WBBSO- he had to " come along, and directly the exhibitors and their staff mustored in the buildiag, the mtelligenco flow like wild-flre th&t Mr. GliHser was in euatody for breakuig into stnlls atnights. It was a shock to a largo cirelo of lus aoquaintanoes and admiréis, who oould hardly believe it, and when, on hfa lodgings being searched, the Inük of all the wrticles missing from the oounters was found, the thing Boemed more inoredtblfi Ktill. Mr. Baselton was espeoially toniáhed, beoause lio bad mudo quito a confidantof the young man, and luid the mortification of remembering how lio himself had rovealed to Mr. C.lisser the varióos plana for detectmg the thief ; and that, if it had not been for Lowcliffe ] insistíng on tho rase of attribnting the pilfering to tho afternoon instoad of the ; night, he probably mmld havo put the young man on his giiard agamst tíio soheme wMoh had proved sucoessful. Hereoovered his watoh and oüiorarticlos, paid his L100 choerfully, and gaineda repniation with the "forcé for tho extremo readinesa with which he put his name down to their subscriptions for desorving objeets. Mr Glisser'a proved a veiy bad case, and he was lost to sight for sonio yonrs fter tho dato of tho Exlábition of 18G2.


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Michigan Argus