Mr. James Bunce
by Inspector F.

I SHALL never forget that coldest day in the coldest winter I have ever known, the lucky prediction of which raised Murphy, for a time, far above Francis Moore, physician, as a weather prophet. The chill of it, as I write, seems to shiver through the marrow of my bones. No wonder that it should. I am going to tell you why.

On the morning previous to that coldest day, I was roused up long before daylight by a peremptory summons from the chief superintendent at Scotland-yard. I was “wanted” immediately. Not one minute’s delay could be permitted. So as needs must, when a certain gentleman drives, out of bed I tumbled, scrambled on my clothes, and hurried away, cold, hungry, and uncommonly savage, to ascertain the cause of my being disturbed at such an unseasonable hour, particularly as the superintendent knew perfectly well that I could not have had at the most more than three hours’ sleep.
 
“All right—glad you have made such haste,” exclaimed the superintendent, the moment I entered the office. “There’s a cab in waiting; it’s about a burglary at Messrs. Samuels’, City, the night before last; enormous plunder; from ten to fifteen thousand pounds. This gentleman, Mr. James Bunce, deputed by Messrs. Samuels, will go with you. He knows the absconded culprit, a confidential clerk, personally. Here are particulars for your guidance, and an official letter to the Liverpool authorities, requesting them to render you every assistance in their power. Now then, look sharp, or you’ll lose the train.”

“Look sharp! Liverpool,” exclaimed I, as soon as a word could be got in edgewise. “What the plague do you mean? Why I only returned from Portsmouth a few hours ago, haven’t breakfasted nor got a change of linen.”

“Nonsense—nonsense. You can breakfast at Rugby—anywhere—buy a shirt in Liverpool. Now then, here’s the cab. Here is a greatcoat and pistols. Come, be off with you.”

In such hurry-skurry fashion was I trundled off to Liverpool in company with Mr. James Bunce, confidential agent of Messrs. Samuels, eminent lapidaries and extensive importers of precious gems. My teeth chattered in my head, my blood was freezing in my veins, but he was cozy and comfortable enough. A stoutish, flaxen-wigged, judiciously wrapped-up, very respectable-looking individual, between forty and fifty years of age, I judged, was Mr. Bunce. There was, too a mild and heavenly benevolent expression in his face, which I first observed when he pulled out of a capacious pocket a large flask of champagne brandy, pressing it on my acceptance. There was no need of pressing. The generous fluid thawed both temper and blood, and strengthened by a hasty but capital breakfast at Rugby, made Mr. Bunce and myself the best friends in the world; a cordiality which was not in the least diminished by an intimation, that if I should be successful in capturing the absconded thief, fifty pounds, with the concurrence of the commissioners of police, would be presented to me by Messrs. Samuels. This, Mr. Bunce suggested, might be the reason why the superintendent, who appeared to be a friend of mine, had selected me for the duty which I had demurred to undertake.
 
I said that was likely enough, and felt obliged for what I at first deemed to be harsh treatment.

Mr. Bunce next went into particulars of the robbery. The robber was unquestionably John Carr, who had been many years in Messrs. Samuels’ service. The amount of plunder was, in Mr. Bunce’s judgment much undervalued at ten thousand pounds. It consisted of unset diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious gems, selected by Carr, who was himself a first-rate connoisseur in gems, with nice judgment. There was no bulk to hamper the scoundrel’s flight. All he had taken could be put away in one of his waistcoat pockets.
 
“Can unset jewels be clearly identified?” I asked.

“Not always; and I am afraid not in the present instance. If, indeed, they should be found upon the person of the fugitive, no jury would hesitate to convict. He will probably take care that shall not be the case. Still his conviction, if we can only catch him, will not be the less certain. A diamond bracelet, which can be sworn to, we shall be able to prove the fellow pawned for one hundred pounds at Messrs. Attenborough’s, in Charlotte-street, Fitzroy-square, no doubt to obtain ready money for his flight. Such unset gems might have excited the pawnbroker’s suspicion.”
 
“True. I suppose Carr kept up a specious appearance?”

“I should think so. First-rate. He was senior deacon, bless you, or at least office-bearer of some highish grade, at a Wandsworth chapel, and could quote chapter and verse of Scripture as glib as any parson in the world. Messrs. Samuels, you must know, are converted Jews.”
 
“It will be difficult, I fear, to put salt upon the tail of such a wily rogue.”
 
“Not a bit of it. God bless you, we shall nail him as safe as houses. Let me explain. For a considerable time past, I have had my suspicions of John Carr. He, in fact, tried to do me an ill turn with the governors, so I just thought I would try and find out if he was such a saintly man as he pretended to be, out of school, as one may say, as he was in. So I watched Mr. John Carr, and found that he had formed an intimacy with a handsome figurante; as I think they call the unfortunates who do the dancing in stage plays. I was in no hurry to divulge that pretty discovery, feeling sure that with time and patience, it would lead to other more important ones. I did not, as you may suppose, suspect that sanctimonious John Carr’s career was so very near its end.”
 
“Or a fresh and more promising start, if he escapes with the plunder.”
 
“Right. It was well for both of us,” resumed Mr. Bunce, “that I kept my tongue within my teeth about the handsome figurante.”
“For both of us?”

“Yes; the capture of Carr will be fifty pounds in your pocket—much more in mine, besides raising me in the favour of Messrs. Samuels. Now I might have set off in pursuit of the robber with any one of the officers despatched to other sea-ports, had I not, by calling at Miss Valentine’s, discovered that she had suddenly given up her lodgings, and left London, not to return, by railway from the Euston station. The woman of the house, who did not appear over friendly to the lady, moreover told me that she had managed, by peeping under a canvas cloth which was fastened over Miss Valentine’s trunk, to see the direction cards, upon which there was written, ‘Mrs. Stanton, passenger, Liverpool.’ A blind man, after that, could have seen the right road to take,” added Mr. Bunce, blithely; “and I at once, the choice being given me, decided to seek our man at that port.”
 
“Judicious of you, Mr. Bunce. By the by, I remember to have once seen Miss Valentine perform at Drury Lane Theatre.”
 
That simple remark evidently startled James Bunce; his cheeks for a moment lost their florid hue, and there was a very perceptible tremor in his eyes and voice.
 
“Would you know Miss Valentine—her stage name, of course,” he after a short and seemingly embarrassed pause, eagerly asked, “if you should chance to meet her?”
 
“I think not. Plumed and painted actresses on the stage are very different beings in appearance when met with in the street, dressed in ordinary fashion. I saw Miss Valentine but once, and my faint, fading impression of her is, that she is a woman of fine voluptuous figure and sparkling black eyes.”

“All wrong. Miss Valentine’s is thin, angular, though I dare say it may make up well for the stage, where I never saw her, as I do not frequent those places. Her eyes are light hazel, her hair brown, and she cannot be less than thirty. There may, however, be two dancing Valentines, sisters possibly, who both took the same stage name.”
 
I remarked that that was quite possible; and as just then the train reached a station, where several passengers took their seats in the carriage we had previously to ourselves, the conversation was not resumed. The emotion evinced by Mr. Bunce when I happened to remark that I had seen Miss Valentine more than once recurred to me, but I finally concluded that it must have been caused simply by surprise, or by a somewhat far-fetched conjecture he might imagine the lady to be the actual depositary of the plunder, and that with a view to the ingratiation of himself with the Messrs. Samuels he was anxious not to share with me in any honour or profit that might accrue from the arrest of Miss Valentine. One wild, hazy suspicion which shot through my brain, induced me to look over the papers given me by the superintendent, particularly the personal description of John Carr: “Tall, about five feet ten.” Mr. James Bunce in his shoes was at least four inches short of that. “Thin; sallow complexion, black bushy whiskers; age thirty-six.” Tut!—how could such a preposterous notion have got into my head? I observed that Mr. Bunce had a strong predilection for brandy, or brandy-and-water. He soon emptied a flask as capacious as that he was kind enough to present to me, replenished it at Rugby, ditto at Birmingham, where we changed carriages. The intense cold, it was true, almost necessitated strong stimulants to keep one from freezing—still—
 
It was late in the evening when the train reached Liverpool; and having ascertained that the passenger packet for America would not drop down the Mersey till ten in the morning, I supped comfortably at the Legs of Man tavern, and settled myself for a good quiet smoke before going to bed. Mr. Bunce, spite of the lateness of the hour and bitter weather, preferred taking a stroll, and calling upon a young friend formerly in Messrs. Samuels’ employ, that knew Carr very well, and might have dropped unexpectedly upon him in Liverpool. I could offer no objection, though I could not see what advantage could be gained thereby, as far as regarded the capture of Carr. Mr. Bunce differed from me, and though quite half sprung, went away supperless, but with a well-filled flask. Certainly, for so respectable man, an extraordinary brandy-bibber!
 
I had supped, and lit my second cigar, when he burst into the room in a state of great nervous excitement, pale as his shirt, and, in appearance completely sobered. A young man of some two or three and twenty years of age accompanied him.
 
“What now?” I exclaimed, starting up. “Have you seen Carr?”

“No, no, no!” he replied, “and I fear never shall. He left this very evening in the Isle of Man steamer; a lady, Miss Valentine, no doubt, with him.”
 
“Isle of Man! Who knows this—who saw him embark?”
 
“This young man, Mr. Rouse, who I told you knew Carr well. He not only saw but spoke with him. The fellow said he had important business to transact for Messrs. Samuels, both at Peel and Douglas.”
 
“That is right,” said Mr. Rouse, who also seemed a good deal agitated. “From what Mr. Bunce tells me,” continued the young man,” there can be no doubt that, fearing he should be pursued to Liverpool, and seized on board the American packet-liner, he hit upon the expedient of getting away to Douglas, from which port we have ascertained at the shipping office here, a vessel called the Recruit will sail early tomorrow for St. John’s, Newfoundland, with cargo and passengers. It will be easy for the fugitives to pass over from St. John’s to the States. I mentioned to Carr,” added Rouse—an intelligent fellow—” I mentioned to Carr that I was out of a situation, and he immediately proposed my accompanying him to Man; he would defray all charges, and we should have a jolly fortnight of it. I declined, being in hopes of obtaining a good employment within three or four days. He then made me, to my great astonishment, a present of five sovereigns. I quite understand now why he wished me to go with him, and his generous gift. He dreaded, what has really happened, that I should meet with the emissaries of justice, and inform them where the gent they ‘wanted’ was to be met with.”
 
“Yes; that is to be met with if we don’t lose one single hour’s precious time,” said Mr. James Bunce. “To slacken pursuit now is to throw up the game.”

“Did you see Carr actually go on board the steamer for Man, Mr. Rouse, and remain in her till she sailed? He is said to be a very artful gentleman, and might have doubled on his track when you were out of sight.”
 
“I saw him on board, Mr. Officer, and am certain he sailed in the Harpy for Douglas.”

“We must start at once,” exclaimed Mr. Bunce. “Unfortunately, no steamer, I have ascertained, leaves Liverpool for Man till 10 p.m. the day after tomorrow. The bird will have flown long before that.”
 
“How, then, do you propose reaching Man? Forty-five miles distant, I know. I have been there before upon police business, and not so very long ago.”
 
“The night is clear, a bright, cloudless starlight, the wind light and fair; and I have already engaged a boat to take us for ten pounds. We start in an hour.”
 
“A boat—an open boat, on such a night as this! Why, zounds, man! we should be frozen to death before morning, to say nothing of the risk of drowning, should it come on to blow.”
 
“Nonsense! We have only to wrap up well, and take a plentiful supply of brandy. If you dare not face the cold, and the slight risk, if risk there be, which I don’t believe, I must go alone.”
 
“I will make one, willingly,” said young Rouse. “I always hated that Carr!” he added, with a sly, scarcely perceptible twinkle of the eye, and without a tinge of venom in his tone.
 
“Yet you accepted five pounds of him?”

“I should think I did. Catch a weasel asleep.”

Why, I hardly knew, but a vague suspicion arose in my mind that a mystification of some kind was being played off upon me; that Messrs. Bunce and Rouse were connected by closer bonds than former fellow-service intimacy. Why should a young man of far from robust make volunteer on such a night as that to sail in an open boat from Liverpool to the Isle of Man ? To participate in the reward offered, perhaps? That might be the motive, certainly.

“Mr. Bunce has told you, I suppose, that a large reward is offered for the apprehension of Carr?”

“To be sure he has; and I only wish I had known of it when I met him; it would have been a capital day’s work for me.”
 
“What name has he assumed?”
 
“I can’t say what he called himself to others. He was Mr. Carr to me, of course. Had I heard him called by and answer to any other name, I should have been fly at once; for I long ago suspected him to be a precious sly, sanctimonious humbug, whom I would no more have trusted with such enormous values as Messrs. Samuels did, than I would a cat with cream.”
 
Again the scarcely-perceptible, sly twinkle of the eyes! Shot, too, at Mr. James Bunce.
 
“I saw on the woman’s luggage,” added Rouse, colouring slightly beneath my look, “the name of Stanton, or Stanley—I am not quite sure which.”
 
“Stanton, no doubt,” said Mr. James Bunce. “Well, sir,” he added, “you will, of course, go with us. You are armed with legal authority to arrest the robber.”
 
“You are mistaken. Any one can arrest a felon, with the aid of the first constable he can meet with—upon his own responsibility, of course. In this case none would be incurred, as you cannot be mistaken in your man. I suppose, however, I must go with you. What sort of a boat have you hired?”

“The largest, stoutest I could find, depend upon it, for my own sake. It is not decked, but perfectly safe, I was assured by the two seamen that will go with us, and to whom she belongs. They must know what they are about, and certainly would not risk their lives for a paltry ten pounds. You had better begin making ready—I shall; and as a foundation, see what I can have for supper. Come, Rouse, I can’t eat in a room where smoking is going on.”
 
“Pray understand, Mr. Rouse,” said I, as they were hurrying out of the room—”pray understand, Mr. Rouse, that you will derive no money advantage from going with us. What portion of the reward you may be thought entitled to you have already earned by the information you have given, that John Carr has embarked for Douglas. Your services will not be required to arrest him.”
 
“All’s one for that, officer,” replied the young man. “I shall go;” and both disappeared without further parley.
 
Humph! I was fairly puzzled. Was Bunce specially deputed by, and in the confidence of, Messrs. Samuels, endeavouring, from what motive it was impossible to guess—endeavouring to humbug them and me—to favour the escape of Carr with his courtezan? Had, perchance, Mr. James Bunce, when he called at Miss Valentine’s, seen that person, received a heavy bribe, or the promise of one when he should reach Liverpool?— one or more of the stolen gems, possibly. Had he already been and pocketed that reward, and now, with the help of Rouse, was scheming to get and keep me away from Liverpool till the American packet-ship should have sailed? It looked very like it. And yet, why in that case should Rouse insist upon going over with us to the Isle of Man? The Harpy would not be likely to have sailed when, if some sudden and adverse change of weather did not take place, it might be fairly presumed we should reach Douglas; and if Carr and his concubine were not to be found in the island, Rouse would be manifestly guilty of having, by an impudent fraud, lured an officer of the law from the true scent of his quarry—have lent himself to a criminal conspiracy to baffle justice; upon which charge, should I find my suspicions verified, I should not hesitate to arrest him forthwith. I would give him and his friend Bunce a hint to that effect at once. It might have the effect of rendering that detestable night voyage, which I shuddered to think of, unnecessary.
 
“Mr. Rouse,” said I, abruptly entering the room where he and his friend were at supper, “you will excuse my plain-speaking, but if you are not quite sure John Carr and his woman embarked this evening in the Harpy steamer for Douglas, you had better say so; as, if I don’t find them there, and that, in consequence of my absence from Liverpool, Carr gets away to the United States or elsewhere, I shall at once arrest you on the highly penal charge of having aided and abetted his escape.”
 
“Sir,” returned Rouse, with an offended air and tone, “I have told you the truth, and nothing but the truth. I saw John Carr go on board the Harpy, and am equally positive he did not return to the quay. As to whether the woman was Miss Valentine or not, I cannot say. All I know as to her is, that she appeared to be on familiar terms with Carr, and that the name of Stanton, or Stanley, passenger, was on the labels of her luggage.”
 
There was no more to be said, and I returned to the coffee-room, still perplexed in the extreme. I should simply be dismissed the Force with disgrace, if from unjust suspicion of Bunce and Rouse’s good faith, or a dislike to encounter the suffering and risk of a boat voyage during a calm, however piercing cold, at night to Douglas, I allowed a great criminal to escape, with an enormous booty, from the hands of justice. On the other hand—for such things are, in every instance, mainly judged by the result—if I permitted myself to be bamboozled by Rouse, with or without the complicity of Bunce, and whilst I was gone upon a wild -goose chase to Man, Carr sailed safely from Liverpool, I should be equally blamed, perhaps cashiered, certainly laughed at.
 
I finally concluded to embark with Bunce and Rouse for Douglas; but, first, in order to guard against deception, dispatch a fully-detailed account of the affair (the description paper I had received at Scotland Yard inclusive), to the superintendent of police in Liverpool, warning him to have the United States mail steamer searched on the morrow for the fugitives. The parcel finished, I rang for a porter and sent him off with it, with a separate unsealed note, requesting any officer who might be at the station to acknowledge its receipt in writing.

The porter was not long gone when Messrs. Bunce and Rouse, very rosy and jolly, came to say it was nearly time to be off. It struck me that it might be as well to state what I had just done, keenly observant as I did so of the effect upon themselves.

No effect whatever! Both said almost in a breath that they had expected I should do so as a matter of routine-duty. My suspicions wronged them then; no other conclusion could be come to; they were honest, trustworthy fellows, acting with good faith and hearty zeal. And yet, by Jove!—Well, Time is the old justice who solves all such perplexities. My position was a tolerably safe one, and I began to make ready.
 
Our preparations were at last completed, and about half-past one in the morning of that Murphy-predicted coldest day, I found myself dropping down the Mersey in an open boat, having had only about three hours’ sleep during the previous forty-eight hours and more, and with an easterly wind blowing that cut through one like a knife. It would have been far pleasanter, I shiveringly reflected, to have been just then in the snug, if small and dark, bed-closet behind the shop in Covent-garden; and the wisdom of my change of profession did not appear quite indisputable. Still, time and the hour run through the coldest or roughest day or night, and there were fifty pounds sterling in prospect; with which aids to resignation and wakefulness, helped with much more presently-potent draughts of brandy-and-water, and an occasional rough shake-up by the stroke oarsman, I managed to keep awake—having been emphatically warned that to “drop off” in such a temperature as that might be fatal to life. For about eight hours and a-half, till nine o’clock in the morning, in fact, it was impossible to use the sails of the boat, which was slowly propelled by four oars, two of which were willingly pulled by Bunce and Rouse, who managed them quite handily. So occupied, their backs were to the wind, and the exercise helped better than brandy-and-water, which was not, however, neglected, to keep them from freezing. I begged to be allowed to take an oar; the favour was granted with a growl; at the first stroke I “caught a crab,” as the sailors called it—the oar jumped out of the rowlock, and over I went backwards into the bottom of the boat.
 
No more pulling for me; I was requested to sit in the stern-sheets, facing the head wind, of course, and turn the tiller right and left as the stroke oarsman directed. Day broke at last, if day it could be called which put out the bright stars and darkened the sky with storm-clouds. “Not much wind, I’m thinking,” remarked one of the watermen; “but snow plentiful, I’ll answer for it, and soon, too.” Sure enough, snow did soon come down plentifully—a blinding snowstorm. You couldn’t—at least I couldn’t—see as far as the
bow of the boat.
 
“Hold hard,” presently exclaimed the stroke oarsman, unshipping his oar, springing up from the thwart, and gathering up a double handful of snow. “I’m blessed if this here gent wont lose his nose. It’s a mortifyin’ already, I do believe.” With which cheerful explanation he forthwith began to vehemently rub that feature with snow. I passively submitted—in fact, I was helpless, hopeless. I had neither feelable fingers or toes; my bones were round sticks of ice: the only vitality I was conscious of was savage rage at Bunce and Rouse, to whom I attributed my sufferings, and whose comparative comfortableness greatly aggravated that rage, keeping it at boiling heat, which I have no doubt helped to keep life in me. Could I have known, have suddenly discovered, the trick of the devil’s dance I was being led, the why and wherefore that I was exposed by them to be frozen to death, I almost think I should (my loaded pistols being at hand in the tails of my greatcoat) have shot them both – that is, if my fingers could have possibly, which I doubt, distinguished barrel from stock, lock from trigger.

Enough of this. The boat could at last use her sails; my friends the sailors, turn and turn about, kept the vital spark from quite going out or off by hard rubbing and drenching me with pure alcohol; and at about two in the afternoon I was carried ashore to a tavern at Douglas, placed in a warm bed, where I gradually thawed, and, thanks to judicious treatment, felt after two or three hours quite restored, without loss of nose, fingers, or toes. I was then permitted to doze off into slumber, from which I was next morning awakened by Mr. James Bunce.

He seemed in high glee. The Recruit had fortunately not sailed, but would certainly do so late that evening or at dawn the next day, whatever the quarter the wind blew from, so it blew, and there was no doubt of that. “So that we have just nicked it,” he added, rubbing his hands in triumph.

“But you have seen Carr?’ I asked.

“I have—I have—unseen by him. Miss Valentine is with him, and two berths have been secured in the Recruit for them in the names of Mr. and Mrs. Stanton.”
 
“Confound the villain,” I exclaimed, the recollection of the previous day’s sufferings rising in my throat. “Why couldn’t he stop and be taken in a regular manner at Liverpool? “Never mind, we have him now, and if he slips through our fingers I’ll forgive him.”
 
“They are both at the ‘Earl of Derby’ hotel, bless you. Carr has, we know, plenty of ready tin for the present, but I greatly fear we shan’t find the jewels upon either of them.”
 
“O, that’s all bosh, Mr. Bunce. Is it likely, do you think, that a fellow who risked penal servitude for life to get hold of such easily portable plunder would let it go out of his own possession? Bosh, I say again!”

“I fear we shall not find it so. I don’t think I mentioned to you before that Carr had given regular notice to Messrs. Samuels that he intended quitting their service, and did not in fact leave till that notice had expired. Now, that being the case, if the jewels are not found upon him, it will be difficult to get a conviction.”
 
“ Perhaps so; but that is no affair of mine. I dare say such a cunning rogue will have given the big wigs a hard nut to crack. Still the question returns, who can he have dared entrust gems of such rare value to?”
 
“To his son, perhaps; a young man from seventeen to eighteen years of age, but looking a couple of years older in my judgment, to whom he is said to be much attached. Charles Carr may have slipped out of the country by another route, after agreeing to a rendezvous with his father in America.”
 
“Possibly so; but that is not our business. The suggestion will, however, neutralise to my mind, coupled with his change of name from Carr to Stanton, any denial he may make of his guilt grounded upon the fact that none of the jewels can be found upon him or his woman. Do you and Rouse prove his identity, and I’ll have him willy-nilly to England, never fear. In the case of the dancing woman, whom it will be most desirable to secure the presence or at an English police-court, I must, I think, resort to stratagem. I’ll think the matter over as we walk to the ‘Earl of Derby.’“
 
The worthy couple were still at breakfast when I, followed closely by Messrs. Bunce and Rouse, entered the room.
 
Carr jumped up from his chair in such haste that he let fall the coffee-cup he was lifting to his lips on the floor. The lady was surprised into a small scream.
 
“Mr. John Carr, I believe?” said I.
 
“No—no—sir,” he boggled out. My name is—is—”

“Stanton, yes, I know; Stanton is your travelling name, as this lady’s stage name is Valentine. I know all about it. But Carr or Stanton, you are my prisoner, charged with stealing precious stones of enormous value from Messrs. Samuels. You know Messrs. Samuels, the eminent City lapidaries?”
 
“I certainly do know those gentlemen, but—”

“And these gentlemen, Mr. James Bunce and Mr. Rouse.”

“I do slightly know them—”
 
“Slightly know us,” laughed Bunce. “Come, come, Carr, this is all nonsense. You have played out your hand and lost the game.”
 
“I deny the accusation in toto. Search me, search my luggage. As to a temporary change of name, that is nothing to anybody.”
 
“I suppose,” said the lady, really a handsome, large, rather scraggy-figured person, as Bunce had described her, with very pretty indignation, “I suppose I may call myself Valentine, Eglantine; or any other name please. I tell you I am this gentleman’s wife—his lawful, married wife.”

“I have no right to dispute your word, madam; in that particular, at all events; but in that case, your husband is certainly the gentleman particularly wanted in London just now. The description tallies precisely with the reality. Five feet, ten inches in height; sallow complexion; bushy black whiskers; thirty-six years of age. Nothing could be more accurate.”

“D—n your description, sir,” exclaimed Carr alias Stanton, with a poor attempt to lash himself into indignation. “D—n your description, sir. Search me, search my wife and luggage; if you find a single article such as you speak of, I’ll willingly consent to return with you to Liverpool, London, anywhere.”
 
“With your consent or without it, I shall take you to Liverpool and London; be quite sure of that.”
 
“You will do so at your peril!”
 
“Just so, but I shall do it. As to searching you and your luggage, it is possible that may be labour thrown away—the ceremony will, however, be gone through. “I do not wish,” I added, “to make any disturbance here; to take you before the Manx authorities for the merely formal authorization, which they cannot refuse, to take you from the island. It would be subjecting you to a useless ignominy. Therefore if you will at once quietly pack up your things, and with your wife—this lady—go with me on board the Harpy steamer, which leaves for Liverpool this evening, much disagreeable exposure will be avoided.”
 
Ultimately this proposition was acceded to—under protest, of course, and a cloud of big words touching the terrible consequences to myself and the Messrs. Samuels, which we should have incurred. The steamer was at her moorings in the road, and her captain took charge of the prisoner and his wife, as he was bound to do, guaranteeing that they should hold no communication with the shore, nor with any one who might come on board. I had taken the precaution to seal up their trunks, valises, and so on.
 
I next went on board the Recruit. Two best berths had been secured by Mr. and Mrs. Stanton for St. John’s, Newfoundland, and the skipper was expecting their luggage on board every minute. He did not express surprise, remarking that such occurrences were very common; he, however, listened with considerable interest to the details of the robbery, and how by help of Messrs. Bunce and Rouse I had been enabled to trace the criminal.
 
Somehow or other I did not myself feel quite at ease in the matter. The Stantons, as they called themselves, had made no admission—had not dropped a word criminating themselves; yet, except indirectly, the man had not denied that his real name was Carr, and admitted he knew Messrs. Samuels, Bunce and Rouse. No more. I felt quite sure, too, that none of the stolen stones would be found upon his or his wife’s person, if wife she were, nor amongst their luggage. True, but Bunce and Rouse could not be mistaken as to their identity. Besides, the description handed to the superintendent at Scotland Yard was decisive. What more would I have? I was allowing a hazy prejudice hastily conceived against Mr. James Bunce to obscure my perception of the clearest facts. I could not, however, argue as I might, shake off the hazy impression that I was in some way—what way I could not guess—imagine—being imposed upon— duped!
 
I would clear my brain by a good smart walk, and was about to ring the bell to ascertain at what time the ordinary dinner at the tavern would be on the table, when a waiter informed me that Mr. Bunce was desirous of speaking with me. He had been suddenly seized with lumbago, was gone to bed, and appeared to be in great pain.
 
“Ah, my friend,” groaned Mr. James Bunce, as I approached his bedside, “Ah, my friend, that dreadful night and day have told upon me—O!—O!—O!—as cruelly, though not so soon as it did—O!—O!—upon you. My old complaint, lumbago.—O!—O!—O !”
 
“I am sorry for that. The attack has been very sudden!”
 
“It always is—always. I must have been crazed to expose myself to—O!—O!—O Lord.”
 
“Then you will not be able to sail this evening in the steamer for Liverpool?”

“No—no—impossible—out of the question! You—you can—O Lord—O!—You can easily get a remand for a few days, or take them on to London—O!—at once. That will be—O!—O!—it—terrible! That will be the best way. I’ll follow the moment this terrible lumbago will permit—O!—Oh dear!”
 
A complicated game this I was engaged in. What might be the significance of the new card so unexpectedly turned up. Yet, what right, after all, had I to suspect Mr. James Bunce had no more the lumbago than I had? A doctor, who entered the bedroom as I left it, had been sent for. Surely doctors could distinguish real from sham lumbago. I was not so sure of that. Yet why should Mr. Bunce wish to remain at Douglas—be desirous of not going in the Harpy steamer? There was the rub, which fretted and worried me as much at the conclusion of a two hours’ walk as it did when I set out.
 
I was still at a considerable distance from the tavern when I suddenly, after turning a sharp corner, came full butt upon Mr. Rouse. He started—coloured—apologized in a confused way, though the collision was certainly quite as much my fault as his. He then passed quickly on, but not till I had obtained a full view of a pretty, though pale, lady hanging on his arm. A very graceful carriage, thought I, as I turned and looked after them;—a very charming figure, and though not rouged as when I saw her,—the real Miss Valentine, or I’m a Dutchman! What in the name of Beelzebub does it all mean?

I was still observing the pair in the fast-increasing distance, when Skipper Parkins came along on the other side of the way, and noticing how intently my gaze was fixed upon the young man and woman, crossed over to me.

“Do you also know something of those two new passengers by the Recruit to Saint John’s?” he asked.
 
“What do you say?—The young man and woman who have just turned the corner yonder, passengers by the Recruit to Saint John’s? You are not jesting, captain?”
 
“I never jest. The young man has taken and paid for three best berths, one for himself, another for his father, the third for a lady.”
 
“May I ask in what name?”
 
“The name of Davis. They are to sleep on board this evening, as the Recruit will slip her moorings at early dawn. They will not, however, come on board till a quarter-past ten, at which hour I am to send a boat to fetch them off. You seem surprised. Is there anything amiss this time?”
 
“I am surprised—flabbergasted! At a quarter-past ten, you say, they are to be fetched off?”
 
“Yes, not a moment earlier; the young man wished it to be later indeed, but I refused, as the crew will have turned in by half-past ten.”
 
“And the steamer sails at ten precisely. O! by Jove, here is a game! You and I must talk together, captain. Let us go in somewhere and have a glass together.”
 

“You think, then, Mr. James Bunce, I had better take the prisoner Carr and his wife right on to London, without making any delay at Liverpool?”
 
“I do—do—it will be better, much better, to do so. O!—O!—I  shall be driven mad!”

“Still in as much pain as ever?”
 
“More pain, more. Torture!—torture! sir. O—O—Oh!
 
“Well, lumbago is not, I believe, a dangerous malady. You must console yourself with that. We shall see you, I doubt not, in London, before the week is out. Good-bye—I must be gone; it only wants a quarter to ten, and the steamer starts, as you know, at that hour.”
 
“Yes; good-bye, God bless you. Tell Messrs. Samuels I hope soon to be with them. Good-bye.”
 
Precisely at ten the paddles of the steamer turned—she was off. Five minutes afterwards the engine stopped, and she lay-to at about two hundred yards’ distance beyond the Recruit.
 

“The Recruit’s boat is at the steps, sir,” said a sailor, ushered by a waiter into the coffee-room of the tavern where I had put up. “Can’t wait, sir.”
 
“No occasion to wait, my man; all ready. But little luggage, you see,” said Mr. James Bunce, springing up with wonderful alacrity for an elderly gentleman suffering from excruciating lumbago. Mr. Charles Bunce, alias Rouse, and his wife, Mrs. Charles Bunce, ci-devant Miss Valentine, did the same; and the three followed the sailor and porter with luggage to the boat.

“A very dark night, very dark,” said Mr. James Bunce; “one can hardly see one’s hand before one; but you’ll be able to find the brig, I dare say.”

“Never fear, sir, if it was as dark as the inside of a tar-barrel. Shove off.”
 
I, to make all sure, had seated myself in the bow of the boat with my face turned seaward, away from the stern, and I wore a sou’-wester and a sailor’s peajacket.
 
“There’s the brig—why, we are passing her!” exclaimed Mr. James Bunce, with much discomposure.
 
“Ay—ay, sir!” was the stolid answer.
 
“Ay—ay, be d—d!” fairly screamed the terrified gentleman, who must by then have descried, dark as it was, the hull of the steamer. “It is the Recruit we are going on board of, not the steamer.”
 
“No, sir, no; you are to be taken on board the Harpy steamer, bound for Liverpool. Must obey orders, sir—must indeed.”
 
Mr. James Bunce dropped down as if shot into the bottom of the boat, and not only his, but his precious son and daughter-in-law’s heads, or brains, must have been set spinning like tee-totums.
 
Mr. James Bunce sprang to his feet, and in tones of piercing supplication offered a thousand pounds—two thousand pounds—anything, to be taken back to the brig.
 
“It is of no use, Mr. Bunce, I am here,” said I, speaking from the bow of the boat; “I thought heavy bribing might be your back game.”
 
Down again drops Mr. Bunce, with a compound of yell and groan. A minute or two afterwards the boat was alongside the Harpy, the Bunces—that is to say, the Carrs—John Carr, Charles Carr, and Mrs. Charles Carr—were sent up the side; their slender luggage followed; the paddles turned once more, and John Carr and Company’s clever plot was blown to the devil.
 
Stanton, as he called himself, but whose real name was Blake, finding himself in a terrible fix when I informed him of my infallible little scheme for getting hold of Mr. James Bunce, Mr. Rouse, and Mrs. Valentine, and soon arriving at the crafty conclusion that the very best thing he could do for himself, under the very painful circumstances, was to make a clean breast of it—did so to me. An elaborately-planned conspiracy, of which he, Blake—Stanton—was a member, had been organized and worked with singular audacity and success, till all was lost at the final throw of the dice.
 
Blake and wife, the robbery having been effected, started for Liverpool, where I, as first arranged, was to have seized him; the lumbago dodge was to have been played there, and I to have gone back to London with the supposed culprit, who, as it would have been impossible to have proved complicity on his part with Carr, would have been very soon, if not immediately, discharged. The Carrs would have met with no obstacle to their embarkation in the United States mail steamer. The plan was derailed by a very common incident: Charles Carr had courted and betrayed a companion figurante of Miss Valentine; the deserted girl, who well knew Carr senior by sight, discovered in some way that her seducer had married Miss Valentine, and intended leaving the country with her in the American mail steamer. Stung with rage and jealousy, aware, moreover, of the robbery at Messrs. Samuels, she left London by the train which reached Liverpool about an hour after that in which pretended Mr. James Bunce and I travelled. The father and son saw her alight from the train, readily divined her purpose, and by way of parrying counter-stroke, hit upon the Isle of Man expedient. The description of John Carr in the papers given me by the London superintendent was also explained by Blake. The real James Bunce had been intercepted on his way to Scotland yard, enticed into a tavern, and hocussed. His papers were taken from him, others substituted, and at about four in the morning John Carr, cleverly made-up for the character, presented himself at Scotland-yard. Nothing wrong was suspected; and it was not till the third day after we left London that poor Bunce, still half stupefied, was driven to his dwelling in a cab, the driver of which said the gentleman had been placed under his charge, and a written direction given him by a person he never before saw, and should not be likely to know again, as it was dark at the time.

Stanton, alias Blake, was admitted evidence for the Crown; the Carrs, father and son, were convicted—the elder sentenced to transportation for life, the younger to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour. The property, it will be in the recollection of many, was nearly all recovered. I obtained a good deal of credit, as well as a round sum of ready money, for my share in defeating the conspiracy, though common candour obliges me to confess that the frustration of the audacious plot was far more due to what men call accident, than to any particular cleverness on my part.

From Experiences of a Real Detective by Inspector F.
Edited by “Waters,” author of Recollections of a Police Officer, Leonard Harlowe, etc.
London: Ward, Lock, & Tyler, 1862. 94-120.