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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 27, 1864

Harper's Weekly newspapers served as the primary information source for people during the Civil War. We have posted our extensive collection of these old papers to this WEB site to allow people to access this important resource. We hope you enjoy browsing these original documents.

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Poem

Poem

Thirteenth Amendment

Thirteenth Amendment

Sherman in the Southwest

Colt Armory

Fire at the Colt Armory

Hospital Train

Hospital Train

Colt Fire

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island

Fashions

Mason and Hamlin Organ

Mason and Hamlin's Organs

George Washington

George Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[FEBRUARY 27, 1864.

134

FIRE IN COLT'S ARMORY.

WE give on page 132 a faithful picture of the mass of ruins consequent upon the fire at Colt's Armory. Our admiration is especially excited as we glance at the confused debris of what was once the most magnificent and elaborate machinery in the country. This pile of stupendous cylinders, mingled with broken gearing and the bricks of the fallen structure, quite fills up the interior. The loss of machinery alone is estimated at eight hundred thousand dollars. If the steam-pipe used for heating the building were stretched out, it would extend a distance of about six miles. The crumbling mass of ruin reminds one very forcibly of the remains left of the stupendous buildings of antiquity.

[From CHARLES DICKENS'S "All the Year Round.")

A WHITE HAND AND A BLACK THUMB.

IN THIRTEEN CHAPTERS.

CHAPTER IX.

THE extra post-coach which carried Arthur and his fortunes had, by reason, no doubt, of its exceptional character, so many extra preliminaries to perform, and adieus to make, that it did not rumble finally from the yard of the Merry Privateer till after dusk. Government—which collective substantive, for reasons best known to itself; evinced quite a personal interest in this present coach-journey—had allowed fourteen hours for the vehicle to reach Harwich, a distance of seventy miles; and, as these would for the most part be hours of darkness, a trusty guard had been further provided to watch over its safety.

This individual, after the fashion of other important characters, made his appearance only at the last moment: and, when he did show, nearly frightened a nervous lady-passenger into hysterics by the multitude of lethal weapons sprinkled about his person.

Just before leaving, a very weighty square box, iron-bound, and secured with a most ostentatious padlock, was borne from the inner office, and let down with great care and ceremony into the fore-boot.

"Treasure," said a knowing passenger to his neighbor, with a wink.

"Oh, I do wish they wouldn't!" said the nervous lady, trembling from head to foot.

"Wouldn't what, ma'am?" said the formidable guard, bending his bushy brows.

"Put in money, please, Sir," said the lady, timidly. "It's like inviting them. Does government want us murdered, please?"

"They sent me to prevent it, ma'am," replied the haughty guard. "Jump in, if you please. Coach waits."

Five miles an hour, including stoppages, was regarded in those days as excellent speed. The extra post-coach disdained such creeping ways, and had been scarcely three hours on the road when they approached Ingatestone, nearly twenty miles from town.

A long hill, however, intervened, and the sudden change of pace aroused the dozing travelers to the knowledge that they were crawling up an ascent, lined on either hand by a bank and woodland. They were within a few yards of the summit of the hill, when a loud exclamation from the guard startled every body. The coach gave a rough jerk onward, as if the horses had been urged to sudden speed. Then came a halt, and an authoritative voice:

"Fling that down!"

Down went a blunderbuss on the road. It was that borne by the formidable guard. He had snapped it, honestly enough, at the speaker; but the piece had missed fire, the robber's pistol was at his head, and all the fire-weapons in the world could not have saved his skull.

With one hand the robber took away the guard's remaining arms, the other still holding the pistol about an inch from his eye. There was a moment's pause: then the coach-door was opened, and a white hand, sparkling with gems, but with the thumb black as ink, was extended into the circle.

"Forgive me! Purses. Quick, you please. The mail for London is coming. You know very well I can't search two coaches at once."

A rapid fumbling ensued, and several purses were put into the hand. Then commenced a reluctant tugging at watches.

"Keep those! Purses only! Now, Sir!" said the highwayman, touching Haggerdorn.

"I have not a purse, nor much of moneys," replied Arthur, "but—"

"What's that in your hand?"

"Only a—"

"A snuff-box. I've lost my own. Toss it hither."

"I'll die first," said the boy.

"Young fool!" was the only retort, as the practiced hand made one swoop into the coach and vanished with the snuff-box. "Enough, gentlemen! A good journey!"

"Heaven be praised!" ejaculated the nervous lady. "Have they got the treasure, you?" inquired a male passenger of the discomfited guard.

"No, they ain't got the treasure," growled the latter. "For why? There wa'n't none. It were a trap, you see. The treasure's gone by the reg'lar coach. And the robber he know'd on it."

"This is a paternal government," said the passenger, dashing up the window. "Trap, indeed! Baited with the public!"

Every aggrieved individual feels for the public. The coach was in the very act of getting into motion, when—

"Hold, there! Stop!" was shouted, and the steaming horse of the robber reappeared at the coach door. The glass dropped, as if it knew the touch of his finger.

You—boy! Where did you steal this?" he questioned, roughly, thrusting forward the snuff-box.

"I steal not!" said Arthur, indignantly. "Zey found it in—"

The robber seized the boy by the collar, and dragged him forward, so that the light of the coach-lamps fell full upon both their faces. The upper part of the robber's face was covered with a black silk mask.

"You are a thief, Sir," he muttered. "I take you into my custody. Descend. Do you hear?"

Arthur was powerless in the man's gripe, and was obliged to obey.

"Drive on!" said the robber, leveling his pistol. The coachman lashed his horses, and young Haggerdorn was left alone with his captor.

"Follow me, boy," said the latter, and, if you can trust a robber's word, be sure you shall receive no injury. I must speak with you, and this is ticklish ground. Follow close."

He touched his horse with the spur, and sprang into the thicket, Arthur scrambling over the barrier as best he might. Threading the copse they crossed a field or two, entered — lane, came passed into an orchard, and stopped before a decent cottage. Here the robber dismounted, and allowing his horse, which seemed perfectly at home, to seek his own place of concealment, conducted Arthur into the hut. A fire was smouldering on the hearth. The robber flung upon it a bundle of dried furze, producing a blaze which made the room as light as day.

"Now, answer truly, boy. Where did you get this box?"

Arthur replied that it had been found in a house in Jermyn Street, left there by nobody knew whom. "You know. Speak, Sir," said the robber, seizing him by both arms with force which, though gently exerted, seemed to paralyze every nerve.

Arthur hesitated.

"I can guess," he said.

"Who?"

"Lord Lob."

"Lord Beelzebub! These are the arms of —Who was your father, boy?"

"I never knew him."

"Your mother?"

"Dead."

The robber started.

"Dead!" (He drew his hand slowly across his brow.) "My boy, this was hers, your mother's and mine!"

"Yours!"

"I am Lord Lob, your brother."

Arthur turned white as ashes.

"And—and—ze murder?" he gasped.

"The murder, lad?" said Lord Lob, showing his white teeth. "Be more particular. Which murder? What affair concerned you?"

"I mean—in Jermyn Street—the—"

"Old Humpage? Ha!"

A light flashed across the casement. Next moment the door was dashed in, and the officer Armour, followed by half a dozen others, flung himself boldly on the Black-Thumb.

Whether the latter was actually confounded by the sudden onslaught, or, at once comprehending the hopelessness of escape, purposely forbore resistance—certain it is he was secured without difficulty—after which, Armour, turning to Arthur and congratulating him on the safety of his person and property, requested him to accompany them to the house of the magistrate, a short distance off. The young man, feeling as though walking in a dream, assented, and, the little dwelling having undergone a rapid search, without producing any thing of a suspicious nature, the party set forth.

 

CHAPTER X.

THE demeanor of Lord Lob was singular, and contributed in no small degree to the confusion of Arthur's brain. Since his capture, the robber had neither turned his eyes toward his brother, nor had he addressed a single syllable to him nor to any one else. Still preserving the same strange silence, he was placed before Mr. Thickles, the magistrate of Ingatestone, who had apparently sat up to that unwonted hour in the expectation of such a visitor. Several of the coach-passengers and the guard were already in attendance; and so eager were these good folks in furthering the ends of justice that Arthur's testimony was not, for the present, required. The examination ended with the committal of the prisoner on the charge of highway robbery, the magistrate intimating that, by express order from the government, he would not be sent to the county prison, but to London, there to answer charges of a more serious nature.

So effectually, in fact, was Lord Lob compromised in the eye of the law through many a previous exploit, that it was scarcely deemed necessary to take the usual measures for securing his conviction on this charge, and it was finally settled that all the outward-bound witnesses, with the exception of Arthur Haggerdorn, who evinced no kind of reluctance to remain, should be allowed to proceed on their voyage.

A chaise was then ordered to convey the redoubted prisoner to town, and Arthur was about to follow the others from the room when Armour touched his arm, and showed the snuff-box.

"Where did you tell me you got this, young gentleman?"

"I tell you not," replied Arthur, "but I do now. Miss Humpage gave it."

"Hah!" said Mr. Armour. "Yes? Good-night, Sir......Meant you to be him, did she then,
my pretty?" soliloquized the officer, with an odd confusion of persons. "Now who'd have thought it? Deep, deep!"

Arthur found a lodging in the little village inn; but to sleep was out of the question, and he passed the greater part of the cheerless night sitting with his head buried in his hands, a prey to that complete despondency which, in such natures, succeeds, on a sudden check, to the highest hope. His guiding star had fallen, and left him in darkness. Polly was lost to him. His own brother was probably her father's assassin. He himself might be called upon to take some share in the convicting testimony, and this officer would claim the rich reward.

Mr. Armour and Lord Lob rode together in the chaise, two of the former's satellites, well armed, seated on the box, and four others trotting merrily alongside. There was no apprehension of any attempt at rescue, and the worthy officer, who felt the continued silence act painfully upon his own exhilaration of spirit, did his utmost to cheer and lead his companion into discourse. The illustrious prisoner remained inscrutable. He replied, courteously indeed, but curtly, and neither smile nor retort rewarded Mr. Armour's exertions. The white fine face gazed millions of miles away, and the officer felt, with disgust, that he was no better company for his captive than an indifferently-trained baboon might have been for Socrates.

Moreover as they drew near London in the early dawn, an expression passed at intervals over the robber's face, which went near to appall even Armour. Such a look it was that, in the case of a wretched woman condemned some years since to die for many murders, all but scared the watchers from her cell. Frightful throe of the awakened spirit, in it last despairing effort to pierce upward through the load of suffocating crime!

Sufficiently cognizant of the workings of the guilty mind to form some idea of what was passing in Lord Lob's, Armour resolved to make attempt to turn it to account, and, accordingly, began in an easy tone:

"That was a nice May-game you played me, my lord, now wasn't it? But, bless my body, of all the queer matters you've put a hand to, that what d'ye call it—yonder—Jermyn Street way—was about the queerest! Whatever your folks wanted with that old chap, bothers me; and I don't mind telling you, in confidence, it did bother me. We gave it up. Soon as we knew for certain 'twas a plant of yours, up we gave it! 'It's just one of his games,' says the governor, 'p'r'aps for fun.' But there's people that don't like mystery and, I tell you what —no, I won't, for you seem o' sorts, and I, ah, ah—"concluded Mr. Armour, with a yawn, and sinking back into his corner.

The prisoner turned, and looked at him with something of his old humorous expression.

"Out with it, Henry," he said.

"Come, that's better, my lord. That's what I like to see!" rejoined the officer. "You and me have jogged on together a good many years, comfortable, on different sides of the way to be sure. Now you win, now I. Lots of doubles you've run upon us, but we've got three-fifths of them originals you set up with, and now we've got you, so that's even."

"Not quite," said the prisoner.

"Now what's the use of your contesting that?" asked the officer, as if rather injured. "You might do a deal better than that. Ah, here we are in London. We shall soon shake hands, my lord—"

"Shall we? Then push on, Henry, my boy, with what you are dying to say."

"Well, here it is, my lord. You ain't a common cracksman," said the officer, deferentially; "I wouldn't be so rude as to say you was. Naturally, folks like to know something of your ways and workings, and what a man like you meant by such and such things, that seemed no particular good to any body. There's nothing the public pays for more sweetly than curiosity. Bless you, they don't care what they pay to know why's why! Now you're booked, you'll have letters every day, perhaps bookys and billydoos, but all wanting to know about this, that, and t'other. You'll want a secretary, my lord!"

"Accept the post, my Henry," said Lord Lob, leaning back wearily.

"I can't, my lord; you've no confidence in me even now, when it don't signify this pinch of snuff," said the officer, drawing out the mysterious box, as if abstractedly. "Now, for example, this reminds me. Here's a business, which don't matter, for you're not going to be bothered about that. Yet the old man's daughter would give—I declare I don't know what that girl wouldn't give—to know what went of her father! But it's no manner of use your telling. A thousand pound, nor ten, would be no good to you."

"What does she offer?"

"As if you didn't know, my lord!" said the other, with affected disbelief.

"Suppose me ignorant, Henry. What does the young lady propose?"

"To marry the man who finds out who spirited away her father, alive or dead. And her fortune, which is her own, isn't less than one hundred thousand pounds," said Mr. Armour, almost solemnly. "Now, there's a chance in a poor fellow's way!"

There was a minute's profound silence. Then their eyes met. The prisoner made a slight movement, that night be interrogative, with his head. Armour shook his.

"Can't do that, noways, my lord; but I'll tell you what, if there's any thing or any body you want looked to after the—you know, I'll give you my bond for five thousand."

"I'll think of it," was the reply. After which not another word was exchanged till the gloomy walls of Newgate received the illustrious prisoner.

CHAPTER XI.

ARTHUR returned to London within a few hours of his brother, but feeling utterly unable, under the changed circumstances, to face his former home, engaged a small lodging in Skinner Street, Snow Hill, and then (in accordance with directions he had received from the police) walked down to the prison to communicate his address. Requested to walk into the governor's room that functionary accosted him in a very civil tone.

"You are claimed, I understand, Sir," he remarked, "by our latest arrival—a personage but too well known—as his near relation, though for many years a stranger. Is it so? Are you his brother?"

Arthur replied that he had, at present, no other testimony than the assertion of the person in question; but that he was well aware that his mother had had a son older than himself, of whose death she had never received assurance.

"Nature, at all events, throws in her evidence," said the governor, looking steadily at him. "I have seldom seen a more extraordinary resemblance."

Then adding that the prisoner had requested that his brother, and he only, might be admitted to his cell, he committed Arthur to the charge of a turn-key, and in another minute, in the strongest room in the prison, the two brothers stood once more face to face.

"Sit down, Arthur Haggerdorn, and make yourself comfortable," said Lord Lob, "and don't interrupt me so long as you understand, for you speak an odd sort of lingo for a Briton. We are quite alone (no, that fellow's a dummy—stone-deaf)," glancing at a warder who sat in a corner of the cell. "So you needn't sing out it I own that I am the greatest miscreant that ever scourged mankind. If I could only tell how, when, and why, I embraced scoundrelism as a profession, it might be useful; but I can't. I was flung into the world a little lump of iniquity, and my soul was never scraped from its beginning. There's a crack in the crust now, or you wouldn't be here to peep into it, take your oath of that! Our father, Lord Hawkweed, was a scoundrel (I beg the peerage's pardon) —a scoundrel, I remark, a poltroon, and, I hope, for his own sake, a madman too. He gave me bread, that's true—not much even of that—he cheated my mother—our mother, with a mock-marriage (you've no chance of the coronet, my boy!)—deserted her; very likely broke her heart. How the devil, with such a fellow's blood in your veins, you ever esc— I forgot our mother, child," added the robber, almost apologetically, as he half-extended his hand, then instantly withdrew it. "But time presses; this is not what I want to say. You're in love, boy, That's enough. Don't answer, In love with Miss Jermyn Street—what's her name?— Miss Humpage, who considers me the murderer of her substantial sire, and has commissioned you to track me out as the price of her hand. She gave you that snuff-box as a talisman, thinking, I suppose, that it would leap from your pocket at the owner's approach! How did she know that box belonged to my mother?"

"She did not know that, nor even I that," said Arthur. "My mother must have concealed ze box of purpose. Armour, ze officer, said it had been yours."

"Not mine. My father's," said the robber. "However, boy, it seems you've caught me. And now?"

Arthur gazed wistfully at his brother, but made no reply.

"Tell her," resumed the latter, speaking slowly, "tell her—I am sorry to disappoint you—sorry, too, for my own reputation, for, by the blood of all the Hawkweeds that ever poisoned air, it was as clever a thing as I can remember; but, Arthur, boy, your own hand is not clearer of that old man's blood than mine."

"God be praised!" said Arthur, fervently.

"That's kind, at least, since it may cost you your bride!" remarked Lord Lob. "I owe you something in return, my boy. Stay a moment; let me think." (He paused for a minute.) "If this Jermyn Street affair were the work of any London hand I must have known who was in it. No; 'tis impossible. Now, there's a tidy knot of Halifax boys—'tis much their style of work—pluck, and finish. But, then, Caunter would have been down on his old pals: that won't do. Jilling George, of Liverpool? Just the cull. Exactly the kind of fancy-business he takes to. It's some foreign game, Arthur, rely upon it. Now, my friend, Jilling George jabbers Dutch and French like a magpie; there must have been much to arrange; they could have gone to nobody but him. 'Twas Jilling George, or nobody.... Be off now, boy, and come to me to-morrow at noon."

He made so imperative a gesture that Arthur was fain to obey without a word; and returned, sadly enough, to his humble lodging.

News at that period was neither swift nor sure. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of twenty-seven Jermyn Street were still at breakfast, when a rumor, dating from the delivery of the milk, began to circulate in the house that the past night had been signalized by an important capture—no less than the redoubted chieftain of the Black-Thumbs—while the apparition of Mistress Ascroft at her window, making wild and agitated but unintelligible signs, gave a sort of color to the further report that the Harwich road had been the scene of, and the extra post-coach a sharer in, the adventure.

Presently arrived Mr. Hartshorne in high excitement. Yes. It was true. The coach had been stopped and plundered, the guard having been first disarmed. Nothing could exceed the cowardice of the passengers, male and female, who, at sight of the black thumb, permitted themselves to be stripped like lambs, until one of the party (a very young man, who had hitherto been unable to disengage his arms from his roquelaure) leaped from the carriage, flung himself upon the assailant, and, though dragged through a hedge and several fields, succeeded at length in mastering his antagonist and delivering him up to a mounted patrol, who most opportunely made his appearance.

Great as was the difficulty of identifying this intrepid champion with the slight and delicate young artist, love might have overcome the obstacle had not the arrival of more authentic tidings saved him the trouble. A note from Sir James Polhill, without especially mentioning Armour, announced the capture of the noted robber by a party of police, detached with that express design.

Then passed a long and anxious morning, unrelieved by further news, Polly wandering about, utterly unable to devote her thoughts to any of the usual occupations. What was to be the result. Was Lord Lob in reality the guilty person? Hopeless as was the unfortunate man's situation, would he not surely confess? The conviction of the authorities that the outrage was of this man's contriving was strong as ever, and Polly herself had learned to regard it as a fact. The vengeance she had invoked was about to descend. Her


 

 

  

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