From Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal
——
Recollections of a Police-Officer
——
Mary Kingsford

Towards the close of 1836, I was hurriedly dispatched to Liverpool for the purpose of securing the person of one Charles James Marshall, a collecting clerk, who, it was suddenly discovered, had absconded with a considerable sum of money belonging to his employers. I was too late—Charles James Marshall having sailed in one of the American liners the day before my arrival in the northern commercial capital. This fact well ascertained, I immediately set out on my return to London. Winter had come upon us unusually early; the weather was bitterly cold; and a piercing wind caused the snow, which had been falling heavily for several hours, to gyrate in fierce, blinding eddies, and heaped it up here and there into large and dangerous drifts. The obstruction offered by the rapidly-congealing snow greatly delayed our progress between Liverpool and Birmingham; and at a few miles only distant from the latter city, the leading engine ran off the line. Fortunately, the rate at which we were traveling was a very slow one, and no accident of moment occurred. Having no luggage to care for, I walked to Birmingham, where I found the parliamentary train just on the point of starting, and with some hesitation, on account of the severity of the weather, I took my seat in one of the then very much exposed and uncomfortable carriages. We traveled steadily and safely, though slowly along, and reached Rugby station in the afternoon, where we were to remain, the guard told us, till a fast down-train had passed. All of us hurried as quickly as we could to the large room at this station, where blazing fires and other appliances soon thawed the  half-frozen bodies, and loosened the tongues of the numerous and motley passengers. After recovering the use of my benumbed limbs and faculties, I had leisure to look around and survey the miscellaneous assemblage about me.

Two persons had traveled in the same compartment with me from Birmingham, whose exterior, as disclosed by the dim light of the railway carriage, created some surprise that such finely-attired, fashionable gentlemen should stoop to journey by the plebeian penny-a-mile train. I could now observe them in a clearer light, and surprise at their apparent condescension vanished at once. To an eye less experienced than mine in the artifices and expedients familiar to a certain class of “swells,” they might perhaps have passed muster for what they assumed to be, especially amidst the varied crowd of a “parliamentary”; but their copper finery could not for a moment impose on me. The watch chains were, I saw, mosaic; the watches, so frequently displayed, gilt; eyeglasses the same; the coats fur-collared and cuffed, were ill-fitting and secondhand; ditto the varnished boots and renovated velvet waistcoats; while the luxuriant moustaches and whiskers, and flowing wigs, were unmistakably mere pièces d’occasion—assumed and diversified at pleasure. They were both apparently about fifty years of age; one of them perhaps one or two years less than that. I watched them narrowly, the moreso from their making themselves ostentatiously attentive to a young woman—girl rather she seemed—of a remarkably graceful figure, but whose face I had not yet obtained a glimpse of. They made boisterous way for her to the fire, and were profuse and noisy in their offers of refreshment—all of which, I observed, were peremptorily declined. She was dressed in deep, unexpensive mourning; and from her timid gestures and averted head, whenever either of the fellows addressed her, was, it was evident, terrified as well as annoyed by their rude and insolent notice. I quietly drew near to the side of the fireplace, at which she stood, and with some difficulty obtained a sight of her features. I was struck with extreme surprise—not so much at her singular beauty, as from an instantaneous conviction that she was known to me, or at least that I had seen her frequently before, but where or when I could not call to mind. Again I looked, and my first impression was confirmed. At this moment the elder of the two men I have partially described placed his hand, with a rude familiarity, upon the girl’s shoulder, proffering at the same time a glass of hot brandy and water for her acceptance. She turned sharply and indignantly away from the fellow; and looking round as if for protection, caught my eagerly-fixed gaze.

“Mr. Waters!” she said impulsively, “Oh, I am so glad!”

“Yes,” I answered, “that is certainly my name; but I scarcely remember— Stand back, fellow!” I angrily continued, as her tormentor, emboldened by the spirits he had drank, pressed with a jeering grim upon his face, towards her, still tendering the brandy and water. “Stand back!” He replied by a curse and a threat. The next moment his flowing wig was whirling across the room, and he standing with his bullethead bare but for a few locks of iron-gray, in an attitude of speechless rage and confusion, increased by the peals of laughter which greeted his ludicrous, unwigged aspect. He quickly put himself into a fighting attitude, and, backed by his companion, challenged me to battle. This was quite out of the question; and I was somewhat at a loss how to proceed, when the bell announcing the instant departure of the train rang out, my furious antagonist gathered up and adjusted his wig, and we all sallied forth to take our places—the young woman holding fast by my arm, and in a low, nervous voice, begging me not to leave her. I watched the two fellows take their seats, and then led her to the hindmost carriage, which we had to ourselves as far as the next station.

“Are Mrs. Waters and Emily quite well?” said the young woman, coloring and lowering her eyes beneath my earnest gaze, which she seemed for a moment to misinterpret.

“Quite—entirely so,” I almost stammered. “You know us, then?”

“Surely I do,” she replied, reassured by my manner. “But you, it seems,” she presently added with a winning smile, “have quite forgotten little Mary Kingsford.”

“Mary Kingsford!” I exclaimed almost with a shout. “Why, so it is! But what a transformation a few years have effected!”

“Do you think so! Not pretty Mary Kingsford now, then?” she added, with a light, pleasant laugh.

“You know what I mean, you vain creature!” I rejoined; for I was overjoyed at meeting with the gentle, well-remembered playmate of my own eldest girl. We were old familiar friends—almost father and daughter—in an instant.

Little Mary Kingsford, I should state, was, when I left Yorkshire, one of the prettiest, most engaging children I had ever seen; and a petted favorite not only with us, but of every other family in the neighborhood. She was the only child of Philip and Mary Kingsford—a humble, worthy, and much-respected couple. The father was gardener to Sir Pyott Dalzell, and her mother eked out his wages to a respectable maintenance by keeping a cheap children’s school. The change which a few years had wrought in the beautiful child was quite sufficient to account for my imperfect recognition of her; but the instant her name was mentioned, I at once recognized the rare comeliness which had charmed us all in her childhood. The soft brown eyes were the same, though now revealing profounder depths, and emitting a more pensive expression; the hair, though deepened in color, was still golden; her complexion, lit up as it now was by a sweet blush, was brilliant as ever; whilst her child-person had become matured and developed into womanly symmetry and grace. The brilliancy of color vanished from her cheek as I glanced meaningly at her mourning dress.

“Yes,” she murmured in a sad quivering voice—“yes, father is gone! It will be six months next Thursday, that he died! Mother is well,” she continued more cheerfully, after a pause: “in health, but poorly off; and I—and I,” she added with a faint effort at a smile, “am going to London to seek my fortune.”

“You seek your fortune!”

“Yes; you know my cousin, Sophy Clark? In one of her letters, she said she often saw you.”

I nodded without speaking. I knew little of Sophia Clarke, except that she was the somewhat gay, coquettish shopwoman of a highly-respectable confectioner in the Strand, whom I shall call by the name of Morris.

“I am to be Sophy’s assistant,” continued Mary Kingsford; “not of course at first at such good wages as she gets. So lucky for me, is it not, since I must go to service? And so kind, too, of Sophy, to interest herself for me!”

“Well, it may be so. But surely I have heard—my wife at least has—that you and Richard Westlake were engaged? Excuse me, I was not aware the subject was a painful or unpleasant one.”

“Richard’s father,” she replied with some spirit, “has higher views for his son. It is all off between us now,” she added; “and perhaps it is for the best that it should be so.”

I could have rightly interpreted these words without the aid of the partially-expressed sigh which followed them. The perilous position of so attractive, so inexperienced, so guileless a young creature, amidst the temptations of London, so painfully impressed and preoccupied me, that I scarcely uttered another word till the rapidly-diminishing rate of the train announced that we neared a station, after which it was probable we should have no farther opportunity for private conversation.

“Those men—those fellows at Rugby—where did you meet them?” I inquired.

“Thirty or forty miles below Birmingham, where they entered the car in which I was seated. At Birmingham I managed to avoid them.”

Little more passed between us till we reached London. Sophia Clark received her cousin at the Euston station, and was profuse of felicitations and compliments upon her arrival and personal appearance. After receiving a promise from Mary Kingsford to call and take tea with my wife and her old playmate, on the following Sunday, I handed the two young women into a cab in waiting, and they drove off. I had not moved away from the spot when a voice, a few paces behind me, which I thought I recognized, called out; “Quick, coachee, or you’ll lose sight of them!” As I turned quickly round, another cab drove smartly off, which I followed at a run. I found, on reaching Lower Seymour Street, that I was not mistaken as to the owner of the voice, nor of his purpose. The fellow I had unwigged at Rigby thrust his body half out of the cab window, and pointing to the vehicle which contained the two girls, called out to the driver “to mind and make no mistake.” The man nodded intelligence, and lashed his horse into a faster pace. Nothing that I might do could prevent the fellows from ascertaining Mary Kingsford’s place of abode; and as that was all that, for the present at least, need be apprehended, I desisted from pursuit, and bent my steps homewards.

Mary Kingsford kept her appointment on the Sunday, and in reply to our questioning, she said she liked her situation very well. Mr. and Mrs. Morris were exceedingly kind to her; so was Sophia. “Her cousin,” she added in reply to a look which I could not repress, “was perhaps a little gay and free of manner, but the best-hearted creature on the world.” The two fellows who had followed them had, I found, already twice visited the shop; but their attentions appeared now to be exclusively directed towards Sophia Clarke, whose vanity they not a little gratified. The names they gave were Hartley and Simpson. So entirely guileless and unsophisticated was the gentle country maiden, that I saw she scarcely comprehended the hints and warnings I threw out. At parting, however, she made me a serious promise that she would instantly apply to me should any difficulty or perplexity overtake her.

I often called in at the confectioner’s, and was gratified to find that Mary’s modest propriety of behavior, in a somewhat difficult position, had gained her the goodwill of her employers, who invariably spoke of her with kindness and respect. Nevertheless, the care of a London life, with its incessant employment and late hours, soon, I perceived, began to tell upon her health and spirits; and it was consequently with pleasure I heard from my wife that she had seen a passage in a letter from Mary’s mother, to the effect that the elder Westlake was betraying symptoms of yielding to the angry and passionate expostulations of his only son, relative to his engagement with Mary Kingsford. The blush with which she presented the letter was, I was told, eloquent.

One evening, on passing Morris’s shop, I observed Hartley and Simpson there. They were swallowing custards and other confectionary with much gusto; and, from their new and costly habiliments, seemed to be in surprising good case. They were smiling at the cousins with rude confidence; and Sophia Clarke, I was grieved to see, repaid their insulting impertinence by her most elaborate graces. I passed on; and presently meeting a brother-detective, who, it struck me, might know something of the two gentlemen, I turned back with him, and pointed them out. A glance sufficed him.

“Hartley and Simpson you say?” he remarked after we had walked away to some distance. ‘Those are only two of their aliases. I cannot, however, say that I am as yet on very familiar terms with them; but as I am especially directed to cultivate their acquaintance, there is no doubt we shall be more intimate with each other before long. Gamblers, blacklegs, swindlers, I already know them to be; and I would take odds they are not unfrequently something more, especially when fortune and the bones run cross with them.”

“They appear in high feather just now,” I said.

“Yes; they are connected, I suspect, with the gang who cleaned out young Garslade last week in Jermyn Street. I’d lay a trifle,” he added as I turned to leave him, “that one or both of them will wear the Queen’s livery, gray, turned up with yellow, before many weeks are past. Good-bye.”

About a fortnight after this conversation, with my wife I paid a visit to Astley’s, for the gratification of our youngsters who had long been promised a sight of the equestrian marvels at that celebrated amphitheatre. It was the latter end of February; and when we came out, we found the weather changed; dark and sleety, with a sharp, nipping wind. I had to call at Scotland Yard; my wife and children consequently proceeded home in a cab without me; and after assisting to quell a slight disturbance originating in a gin-palace close by, I went on my way over Westminster Bridge. The inclement weather had cleared the streets and thoroughfares in a surprisingly short time; so that, excepting myself, no foot passenger was visible on the bridge till I had about half crossed it, when a female figure, closely muffled up about the head, and sobbing bitterly, passed rapidly on the other side. I turned and gazed after the retreating figure; it was a youthful, symmetrical one; and after a few moments’ hesitation, I determined to follow at a distance, and as unobservedly as I could. On the woman sped, without pause or hesitation, till she reached Astley’s, where I observed her stop suddenly, and toss her arms in the air with a gesture of desperation. I quickened my steps, which she observing, uttered a slight scream, and darted swiftly off again, moaning as she ran. The momentary glimpse I had obtained of her features, suggested a frightful apprehension, and I followed at my utmost speed. She turned at the first cross street, and I should have soon overtaken her, but that in darting round the corner where she disappeared, I ran butt against a stout, elderly gentleman, who was hurrying smartly along out of the weather. With the suddenness of the shock and the slipperiness of the pavement, down we both reeled; and by the time we regained our feet, and growled savagely at each other, whoever she was had disappeared, and more than half an hour’s eager search after her proved fruitless. At last I bethought me of hiding at one corner of Westminster Bridge. I had watched impatiently for about twenty minutes, when I observed the object of my pursuit stealing timidly and furtively toward the bridge on the opposite side of the way. As she came nearly abreast of where I stood, I darted forward; she saw, without recognizing me, and uttered an exclamation of terror, flew down towards the river, and where a number of pieces of balk and other timber were fastened together, forming a kind of loose raft. I followed with haste, for I saw that it was indeed Mary Kingsford, and loudly called to her to stop. She did not seem to hear me, and in a few moments the unhappy girl had gained the end of the timber raft. One instant she paused, with clasped hands, upon the brink, and in another had thrown herself into the dark and moaning river. On reaching the spot where she had disappeared, I could not at first see her in consequence of the dark mourning dress she had on. Presently I caught sight of her, still upborne by her spread clothes, but already carried by the swift current beyond my reach. The only chance was to crawl along a piece of round timber which projected farther into the river, and by the end of which she must pass. This I effected with some difficulty; and laying myself out at full length, vainly endeavored, with outstretched, straining arms, to grasp her dress. There was nothing left for it but to plunge in after her. I will confess that I hesitated to do so. I was encumbered with a heavy dress, which there was no time to put off, and moreover, like most inland men, I was but an indifferent swimmer. My indecision quickly vanished. The wretched girl, though gradually sinking, had not yet uttered a cry, or appeared to struggle; but when the chilling waters reached her lips, she seemed to suddenly revive to a consciousness of the horror of her fate: she fought wildly with the engulfing tide, and shrieked for help. Before one could count ten, I grasped her by the arm, and lifted her head above the surface of the river. As I did so, I felt as if suddenly encased and weighed down by leaden garments, so quickly had my thick clothing and high boots sucked in the water. Vainly, thus burdened and impeded, did I endeavor to regain the raft; the strong tide bore us outwards, and I glared round, in inexpressible dismay, for some means of extrication from the frightful peril in which I found myself involved. Happily, right in the direction the tide was drifting us, a large barge lay moored by a chain-cable. I seized and twined one arm firmly round it, and thus partially secure, hallooed with renewed power for assistance. It soon came; a passer had witnessed the flight of the girl, and my pursuit, and was already hastening with others to our assistance. A wherry was unmoored; guided by my voice, they soon reached us; and but a brief interval elapsed before we were safely housed in an adjoining tavern,

A change of dress, with which the landlord kindly supplied me, a blazing fire, and a couple of glasses of hot brandy and water, soon restored warmth and vigor to my chilled and partially benumbed limbs; but more than two hours elapsed before Mary, who had swallowed a good deal of water, was in a condition to be removed. I had just sent for a cab, when two police officers, well known to me, entered the room with official briskness. Mary screamed, staggered towards me, and clinging to my arm, besought me with frantic earnestness to save her.

“What is the meaning of this?” I exclaimed, addressing one of the police officers.

“Merely,” said he, “that the young woman that’s clinging so tight to you has been committing an audacious robbery.”—

“No—no—no!” broke in the terrified girl.

“Oh! Of course you’ll say so,” continued the officer. “All I know is, that the diamond brooch was found snugly hid away in her own box. But come, we have been after you for the last three hours; so you had better come along at once.”

“Save me!—save me!” she sobbed, tightening her grasp upon my arm and looking with beseeching agony in my face.

“Be comforted,” I whispered. “You shall go home with me. Calm yourself, Miss Kingsford,” I added in a louder tone: “I no more believe you have stolen a diamond brooch than that I have.”

“Bless you!—bless you!” she gasped in the intervals of her convulsive sobs.

“There is some wretched misapprehension in this business, I am quite sure,” I continued; “but at all events I shall bail her—for this night at least.”

“Bail her! That is hardly regular.”

“No; but you will tell the superintendent that Mary Kingsford is in my custody, and that I will answer for her appearance tomorrow.”

The men hesitated; but I stood too well at headquarters for them to do more than hesitate; and the cab I had ordered being just then announced, I passed with Mary out of the room as quickly as I could, for I feared her senses were again leaving her. The air revived her somewhat, and I lifted her into the cab, placing myself beside her. She appeared to listen in fearful doubt whether I should be allowed to take her with me; and it was not till the wheels had made a score of revolutions that her fears vanished; then throwing herself upon my neck in an ecstasy of gratitude, she burst into tears, and continued till we reached home crying on my bosom like a broken-hearted child. She had, I found, been there about ten o’clock to seek me, and being told I was gone to Astley’s, had started off to find me there.

She still slept, or at least she had not risen when I left home the following morning to endeavor to get to the bottom of the strange accusation preferred against her. I first saw the superintendent, who, after hearing what I had to say, quite approved of all I had done, and intrusted the case entirely to my care. I next saw Mr. and Mrs. Morris and Sophia Clarke, and then waited upon the prosecutor, a youngish gentleman by the name of Saville, lodging in Essex Street, Strand. One or two things I heard, made necessary a visit to other officers of police, incidentally, as I found, mixed up with the affair. By the time all this was done, and an effectual watch had been placed upon Mr. Augustus Saville’s movements, evening had fallen, and I wended my way homewards, both to obtain a little rest, and to hear Mary Kingsford’s version of the story.

The result of my inquiries may be thus summed up. Ten days before, Sophia Clarke told her cousin that she had orders for Covent Garden Theatre; and as it was not one of their busy nights, she thought they might obtain leave to go. Mary expressed her doubt of this, as both Mr. and Mrs. Morris, who were strict and somewhat fanatical Dissenters, disapproved of play-going, especially for young women. Nevertheless Sophia asked, informed Mary that the required permission had been readily accorded, and off they went in high spirits; Mary especially, who had never been to a theatre in her life before. When there they were joined by Hartley and Simpson, much to Mary’s annoyance and vexation, especially as she saw that her cousin expected them. She had, in fact, accepted orders from them. At the conclusion of the entertainments, they all four came out together, when suddenly there arose a hustling and confusion, accompanied with loud outcries, and a violent swaying to and fro of the crowd. The disturbance was, however, soon quelled; and Mary and her cousin had reached the outer door, when two police officers seized Hartley and his friend, and insisted upon their going with them. A scuffle ensued; but other officers being at hand, the two men were secured, and carried off. The cousins, terribly frightened, called a coach, and were very glad to find themselves safe at home again. And now it came out that Mr. and Mrs. Morris had been told that they were going to spend the evening at my house, and had no idea they were going to the play! Vexed as Mary was at the deception, she was too kindly tempered to refuse to keep her cousin’s secret; especially knowing as she did that the discovery of the deceit that Sophia had practiced would in all probability be followed by her immediate discharge. Hartley and his friend swaggered on the following afternoon into the shop, and whispered Sophia that their arrest by the police had arisen from a strange mistake, for which the most ample apologies had been offered and accepted. After this matters went on as usual, except that Mary perceived a growing insolence and familiarity in Hartley’s manner towards her. His language was frequently quite unintelligible, and once he asked her plainly “if she did to mean that he should go shares in the prize she had lately found?” Upon Mary replying that she did not comprehend him, his look became absolutely ferocious, and he exclaimed; “Oh, that’s your game, is it? But don’t try it on with me, my good girl, I advise you.” So violent did he become, that Mr. Morris was attracted by the noise, and ultimately bundled him, neck and heels, out of the shop. She had not seen either him or his companion since.

On the evening of the previous day, a gentleman whom she never remembered to have seen before, entered the shop, took a seat, and helped himself to a tart. She observed that after a while he looked at her very earnestly, and at length approaching quite close, said, “You were at Covent Garden Theatre last Tuesday evening week?” Mary was struck, as she said, all of a heap, for both Mr. and Mrs. Morris were in the shop, and heard the question.

“Oh no, no! You mistake,” she said hurriedly, and feeling at the same time her cheeks kindle into flame.

“Nay, but you were, though,” rejoined the gentleman. And then lowering his voice to a whisper, he said, “And let me advise you, if you would avoid exposure and condign punishment, to restore me the diamond brooch you robbed me of on that evening.”

Mary screamed with terror, and a regular scene ensued. She was obliged to confess that she had told a falsehood in denying she was at the theatre on the night in question, and Mr. Morris after that seemed inclined to believe anything of her. The gentleman persisted in his charge; but at the same time vehemently iterating his assurance that all he wanted was his property; and it was ultimately decided that Mary’s boxes, as well as her person, should be searched. This was done; and to her utter consternation the brooch was found concealed, they said, in a black silk reticule. Denials, asseverations, were in vain. Mr. Saville identified the brooch, but once more offered to be content with its restoration. This, Mr. Morris, a just, stern man, would not consent to, and he went out to summon a police officer. Before he returned, Mary, by the advice of both her cousin and Mrs. Morris, had fled the house, and hurried in a state of distraction to find me, with what result the reader already knows.

“It is a wretched business,” I observed to my wife, as soon as Mary Kingsford had retired to rest, at about nine o’clock in the evening. “Like you, I have no doubt of the poor girl’s innocence; but how to establish it by satisfactory evidence is another matter. I must take her to Bow Street the day after tomorrow.

“Good God, how dreadful! Can nothing be done? What does the prosecutor say the brooch is worth?”

“His uncle, he says, gave a hundred and twenty guineas for it. But that signifies little, for were its worth only a hundred and twenty farthings, compromise is, you know, out of the question.”

“I did not mean that. Can you show it me? I am a pretty good judge of the value of jewels.”

“Yes, you can see it.” I took it out of the desk, in which I had locked it up, and placed it before her. It was a splendid emerald, encircled by large diamonds.

My wife twisted and turned it about, holding it in all sorts of lights, and at last said, “I do not believe that either the emerald or the brilliants are real—that the brooch is, in fact, worth twenty shillings intrinsically.”

“Do you say so?” I exclaimed, as I jumped up from my chair, for my wife’s words gave color and consistence to a dim and faint suspicion which had crossed my mind. “Then this Saville is a manifest liar, and perhaps confederate with— But give me my hat: I will ascertain this point at once.”

I hurried to a jeweler’s shop, and found that my wife’s opinion was correct. Apart from the workmanship, which was very fine, the brooch was valueless. Conjectures, suspicions, hopes, fears, chased each other with bewildering rapidity through my brain, and in order to collect and arrange my thoughts, I stepped out of the whirl of the streets into Dolly’s Chophouse, and decided, over a quiet glass of negus, upon my plan of operations.

The next morning there appeared at the top of the second column of the Times an earnest appeal, worded with careful obscurity, so that only the person to whom it was addressed should easily understand it, to the individual who had lost or been robbed of a false stone and brilliants at the theatre, to communicate with a certain person—whose address I gave—without delay, in order to save the reputation, perhaps the life, of an innocent person.

I was at the address I had given by nine o’clock. Several hours passed without bringing anyone, and I was beginning to despair, when a gentleman of the name of Bagshawe was announced: I fairly leaped for joy, for this was beyond my hopes.

A gentleman presently entered, of about thirty years of age, of a distinguished, though somewhat dissipated aspect.

“This brooch is yours?” said I, exhibiting it without delay or preface.

“It is; and I am here to know what your singular advertisement means.”

I briefly explained the situation of affairs.

“The rascals!” he broke in, almost before I had finished. “I will briefly explain it all. A fellow of the name of Hartley, at least that was the name he gave, robbed me, I was pretty sure, of this brooch. I pointed him out to the police, and he was taken into custody; but nothing being found upon him, he was discharged.”

“Not entirely, Mr. Bagshawe, on that account. You refused, when arrived at the station house, to state what you had been robbed of; and you, moreover, said, in presence of the culprit, that you were to embark with your regiment for India the next day. That regiment, I have ascertained, did embark, as you said it would.”

“True; but I had leave of absence, and shall take the overland route. The truth is, that during the walk to the station house, I had leisure to reflect, that if I made a formal charge, it would have led to awkward disclosures. This brooch is an imitation of one presented me by a valued relative. Losses at play—since, for this unfortunate young woman’s sake, I must out with it—obliged me to part with the original; and I wore this, in order to conceal the fact from my relative’s knowledge.”

“This will, sir,” I replied, “prove, with a little management, quite sufficient for all purposes. You have no objection to accompany me to the superintendent?”

“Not in the least: only I wish the devil had the brooch, as well as the fellow that stole it.”

About half-past five o’clock on the same evening, the street door was quietly opened by the landlord of the house in which Mr. Saville lodged, and I walked into the front room on the first floor, where I found the gentleman I sought languidly reclining on a sofa. He gathered himself up smartly at my appearance, and looked keenly in my face. He did not appear to like what he saw there.

“I did not expect to see you today,” he said at last.

“No, perhaps not: but I have news for you. Mr. Bagshawe, the owner of the hundred-and-twenty guinea brooch your deceased uncle gave you did not sail for India, and—”

The wretched cur, before I could conclude, was on his knees, begging for mercy with disgusting abjectness. I could have spurned the scoundrel where he crawled.

“Come, sir!” I cried, “let us have no sniveling or humbug; mercy is not in my power, as you ought to know. Strive to deserve it. We want Hartley and Simpson, and cannot find them; you must aid us.”

“Oh, yes; to be sure I will,” eagerly rejoined the rascal. “I will go for them at once,” he added, with a kind of hesitating assurance.

“Nonsense!” Send for them, you mean. Do so, and I will wait their arrival.”

His note was dispatched by a sure hand; and meanwhile I arranged the details of the expected meeting. I, and a friend whom I momentarily expected, would ensconce ourselves behind a large screen in the room, while Mr. Augustus Saville would run playfully over the charming plot with his two friends, so that we might be able to fully appreciate its merits. Mr. Saville agreed. I rang the bell, an officer appeared, and we took our posts in readiness. We had scarcely done so, then the street-bell rang, and Saville announced the arrival of his confederates. There was a twinkle in the fellow’s green eyes which I thought I understood. “Do not try that on, Mr. Augustus Saville,” I quietly remarked: “We are but two here, certainly, but there are half-a-dozen in waiting below.”

No more was said, and in another minute the friends met. It was a boisterously jolly meeting, as far as shaking hands and mutual felicitations on each other’s good looks and health went. Saville was, I thought, the most obstreperously gay of all three.

“And yet, now, look at you, Saville, closely,” said Hartley, “you don’t look quite the thing. Have you seen a ghost?”

“No; but this cursed brooch affair worries me.”

“Nonsense!—humbug!—it’s all right; we are all embarked in the same boat. It’s a regular three-handed game. I prigged it; Simmy here whipped it into pretty Mary’s reticule, which she, I suppose, never looked into till the row came; and you claimed it—a regular merry-go-round, eh? Ha! ha! ha!”

“Quite so, Mr. Hartley,” said I, suddenly facing him, and at the same time stamping on the floor; “as you say, a delightful merry-go-round; and here, you perceive,” I added, as the officers crowded into the room, “are more gentlemen to join in it.”

I must not stain the paper with the curses, imprecations, blasphemies, which for a brief space resounded through the apartment. The rascals were safely and separately locked up a quarter of an hour afterwards; and before a month had passed away, all three were transported. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that they believed the brooch to be genuine, and of great value.

Mary Kingsford did not need to return to her employ. Westlake the elder withdrew his veto upon his son’s choice, and the wedding day was celebrated in the following May with great rejoicing; Mary’s old playmate officiating as bridesmaid, and I as bride’s father. The still young couple have now a rather numerous family, and a home blessed with affection, peace, and competence. It was some time, however, before Mary recovered from the shock of her London adventure; and I am pretty sure that the disagreeable reminiscences inseparately connected in her mind with the metropolis will prevent at least one person from being present at the World’s Great Fair.

 

The International Monthly Magazine, III, 1851, 417-23.

This story was originally published as “Recollections of a Police-Officer: Mary Kingsford” in Chambers' Edinburgh Journal on May 3, 1851.

It was later published in the collection Recollections of a Police-Officer by William Russell, under the pseudonym Thomas Waters (London: J.& C. Brown & Co., 1856).

Prior to the British publication of this volume, a pirated collection of the stories—also titled Recollections of a Police-Officer—was published in America (New York: Cornish and Lamport, 1852).