THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
A CLOSE SHAYE. chapter vi— continued. “ And what are they ? ” said Pother, completely cowed and physically incapacitated by the punishment he had received. “ You must leave France forthwith for eorae place out of Europe, and engage feever to return, and you must answer unreservedly a question of mine. ” Pother hesitated. “ I have only to put my head out of that door and shout, and you are a prisoner in the hands of the French police ; and I have only to telegraph to Mr. John Hudson, detective, now at Boulogne, to hand you over to the English authorities.” “I would gladly accept the first condition if I had the means of getting away,” said Pother. “I’ll see to that. Now answer this question—What became of the money and valuables you stole from the banker ? ” John was professionally curious on this point, for it had been a principal difficulty of the prosecution that the plunder could not be traced. “ It was hidden underground for some time after the robbery, and then brought here quite lately by my wife ; but as the booty consisted chiefly of securities, and I couldn’t negociate them without being found out, they have remained unused.” . “ Of course, after what has happened, I don’t mean to let you out of my sight till you are shipped off. Come along at once, get your things together, and we will then arrange for the journey. Take care you are rot discovered, for I don’t want to be tried as an aider and abbettor in your escape. ” William Pother, perfectly astonished and thoroughly ashamed, obeyed John Lloyd like a dog. When 1 arrived at Alphonse’s shop, I found the pair just starting for the bureau of the New York and Havre line of packets, whither I accompanied them, and saw the rest of the play to the end. chapter vii. From Havre on the following day, William Pother, and our remarkable female fellow-traveller from Folkestone sailed for New York. Their few effects were collected in a modest heap on the deck of the steamer ; but conspicuous by its absence was the black leather bag, which had been already dispatched anonymously by the mail to England, addressed to Mr. , banker, Liverpool. It contained, no doubt, the securities and other valuables which by John’s assistance Mrs. Pother had brought into France. “ The scoundrel has a chance of reforming now, and I think he will avail himself of it,” said John, as we left the docks. “ I am particularly glad for the fellow’s own sake that he didn’t cut my throat. By Jove, though, I will always shave myself in future ; it’s horribly unsafe trusting one’s gorge to strangers.” Whether Alphonse ever forgave us for abucting his assistant “tfes capable,” this deponent showeth not ; neither doth he declare the motive which induced John Lloyd to act as he did towards Pother. The reader is at liberty to attribute the motive to generosity towards the n an, to John’s sense of justice for what the woman had done in warning him, to freak, or to the spirit which once said to a sinner, “Go, and sin no more.” CHAPTER VIII. Long afterwards I learnt the secret history of William Pother’s mysterious reappearance at the barber’s shop. After affecting his escape from Barnborough Gaol, he had lurked about Preston and the neighborhood for a couple of days. His wife, who had been instrumental in the escape, and who had undergone what woman alone will undergo for those they love, furnished him with a hiding-place and supplied him with clothes and a disguise. The dress of a plate-layer, a wig of shock hair, and a full moustache so effectually disguised him that even his wife averred she scarcely knew him. Purposely the workman’s dress was assumed ; Pother had been in the habit, before his conviction, of affecting fashionable attire ; and he thought wisely, perhaps, that the police would give his vanity credit for seeking a disguise—if any—in some sphere where purple and fine linen might take their place. He remained undetected, his whereabout unkonwn, though the police were active in their search after him, and were stimulated to exertion by the offer of the Government reward. It would never do, however, to remain in England. The question was, whither should he go ? Sufficient means were at hand, out of the proceeds of the robbery for which Pother had been sentenced, to enable him to go either to America or the Continent. At first he thought of America as the safest refuge; but the watch at Liverpool, he knew, would be strict and the chances were strongly against his getting through. A secret yearning, too, after Europe, with many of the capitals of which he was acquainted, induced him to turn his thoughts towards France, where he reckoned on remaining perdu for awhile, and then, if need were, upon fleeing elsewhere. It was quite certain it would not do for him to go by the ordinary routes. The watch would be too severe at all the usual ports of departure. So it was decided in the end that Pother should make his way on foot to Runcorn, or onej of the small Welsh Ports, and get a passage in some trading vessel to the French coast. He was to represent himself as a platelayer out of work, seeking for employment on a French railway. In order to save the plunder from recapture, or from being a source of trouble to the fugitive, it was arranged that Pother’s wife should go with it alone, and wait at Paris for her husband’s arrival Pother walked by easy stages to Runcorn. No man questioned him, though he had frequently to converse on the subject of his own escape, and once felt unpleasantly conscious of being scrutinised by a police-constable, while he stood to read, on the wall of the police station, a description of himself, and an offer of one hundred pounds reward for his capture. At Runcorn he engaged with the master of a lumber vessel to take him to Nantes in consideration of his making himself useful while on board, the master promising to do his best to procure the platelayer employment on the railway from Saint Nazaire. The vessel sailed with William Fother on board. Arrived at Nantes, where his coming was not looked for, Fother quitted the Ship, and having managed to elude the kindly offers of the master, set out to walk to Paris, not caring to trouble the railways, and reckoning upon avoiding the inquisition of the police. In Paris, a city he knew thoroughly, he found his wife, who had prepared a lodging for him. After a few days of rest, greatly needed after the fatigues and excitement he had gone through, Pother, who had determined to remain awhile in Paris, went forth to seek employment. He still wore a wig, but a neat and trim one, and in lieu of the heavy moustache he had adopted at Preston, he wore a slight French one, the whole disguising him yet more thoroughly than the others had done. He sought employment as a light porter, as a waiter at a cafe, and ( failing these, he put himself in the hands ] of an agent, who promised to get him i something, provided he was not too par- ] ticular about what he turned his hand to, i He could do anything, he said, from con- f ductor of omnibus to barber’s assistant, t He would prefer some employment in f
which the manual labor was not too heavy. Wisely, perhaps, he concluded to remain in Paris ; wisely, too, he concluded to get occupation. An employed man was less likely to come under the ultrainquisitive eye of the French police. The fact that he had been apprenticed to a barber in his youth, although he had absconded from his employment before he had learnt much of the business, suggested employment in this line, and Alphonse the hairdresser being in want of a helper, Pother had finally been engaged by him. William Pother fell fighting in the battle af Chancellorsville, a lieutenant in one of the New England regiments. His wife we have never heard of since she sailed for New York. CONCLUDED.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 115, 19 June 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 115, 19 June 1880
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