previous next

Moses Oran;
the burglars' Nest!
by Geo, Clarence Blanchard.
chapter I:
the Nest of the Tomtit.

Near the close of a cold day in October, a traveler dismounted from his jaded horse, and entered a little hostelry, or tavern, situated in the then wildest region of Pennsylvania. The stranger, who was a large, stout-looking man, heavily bearded, paused before the door that led into the bar-room, and peeped inquisitively in; seeing a small group sitting around the table, he walked very leisurely toward them, introducing himself in a frank, easy style.

"A good evening, gentlemen, to you all."

The company, who were earnestly engaged in conversing, hardly noticed his entrance, but when he spoke, they instantly paused and greeted the new-comer with a look plainly expressive of surprise, curiosity and anger. One of the party, who had a less sinister and surly face than the rest, gravely advanced toward him, eyeing him sharply, as he said:

‘ "You wish lodgings, my man!"

"Certainly I do, Mr. Beg; (who at the mention of his own name visibly started,) what else should I stop here for? There's my pony wants the same thing; attend to him first, and in the meanwhile I will make myself at home."

’ So saying, the stranger, scarcely heeding the general scowl which greeted him as he said this, coolly lit his cigar, and forthwith stretched himself in an easy posture in Tim Beg's favorite arm-chair, much to the astonishment of that gentleman, who slowly moved toward the door, winking silly to his companions as he did so.

The stranger commenced to smoke, eyeing the company with a nonchalance and familiarity that took them completely by surprise.

"Vot yer doing here for?" growled a dark-visaged, ugly-looking scoundrel, whose pox-marked face was half obscured by a dirty cap. He rose as he spoke, and drew out a sharp knife.

"Oh, ho!" laughed the stranger, sending up a long spiral column of smoke, and regarding the other with a half sneer. "Don't attempt to frighten me; aint your name Dick Hatton?"

Scarcely had he asked the question before the whole party sprang instantaneously to their feet, and confronted him with the rage of tigers — and a more precious crew of cutthroats could hardly have been found.

"Kill him! kill him!" was the general cry. Pistols and bowie-knives were promiscuously drawn, and one could see they longed to lap the blood of the unfortunate man, as they crowded round their victim. Dick Hatton, with an ugly grin, interposed.

"Stop, boys, the fellow is safe. I vant to catachise im afore he's made mince-meat of. Come, now, who are ye!"

During all the tumult occasioned by his remark, the stranger had kept his easy, half-recumbent position, regardless of the menacing group, continuing to smoke with the most astonishing coolness, and eyeing them all with a sort of saucy smile that was absolutely provoking.

"Come, now, who are ye?" repeated Dick Hatton, tightening his grasp on his bowie-knife.

The ruffians pressed nearer, a dozen knives were raised, but still the stranger manifested not the slightest symptom of alarm. Carelessly divesting himself of his beard, he proceeded in the same quiet way to displace a black curling wig. In one second more the gang had burst into a wild halloo, which sent Tim Beg rushing back.

"Blow my eyes!" exclaimed he, letting his pipe fall from his mouth in his amazement.--"Why, it's the Tomtit!"

"Nobody else," replied that individual, who had not changed his position, but was puffing vigorously at his cigar. "You're bright people, all of you, 'pon my word; now, Beg, see if you can trot back to the stable, and put my horse in better quarters than you at first intended; and hearken, lad, tell that spoony of a wife of yours to fix up something hot — I'm blasted hungry. Now, then, what are you all gaping at me for!" added the Tomtit, surveying the group with a derisive smile. "Didn't know me, when I've cheated you so often!--Nice fellows!"

The gang, indeed, looked very foolish at the unexpected denouement; their weapons were once more returned to their hiding-places, and they stood staring at their chief, scarcely believing their own eyes.

"Ther devil 'imself would find it 'ard to tell ye," observed Dick, sulkily. "Vy, Beg, as knows everybody, with von eye, gets taken in; but, Tomtit, vot's the news!"

"Never you trouble your head for that, it will come in good time," replied the Tomtit, draining a glass of ale, officiously placed before him. "Everything just as I suspected; the police were on our track at Gamble's, but I fixed 'em." With this brief synopsis of news, the Tomtit leaned back in his chair, and continued to smoke in a thoughtful, meditating manner.

In about fifteen minutes, Mrs. Beg, a portly, red-haired lady, announced that supper was ready, and the gang adjourned to a small apartment in the rear part of the building, where a rude meal was served up; a roast pig forming the principal feature of the entertainment, which was quickly washed down with a liberal supply of whiskey.

"Now, then," said the Tomtit, after he had satisfied his hunger, and was stirring the components of a second glassful of punch; " now, then, boys, I'm ready to tell the news. In the first place, Crib has been cribbed."

"What!" ejaculated the gang with one voice, "Crib nabbed!"

"Crib is cribbed, and that's the short and long of it," observed the Tomtit, gloomily.--"Once was the time the trade could be carried on, and none of us ran the least bit of a risk; even a 'Nest' wasn't necessary; now the thing gets every day more dangerous, and the profits grow smaller."

"But what about Crib?" inquired several of the gang, anxiously.

"Crib," continued the Tomtit, "acted like a precious fool; I told him all the boys had left but him, but he was so blasted confident he kept lagging, and putting off, till he got cribbed. He would just close his peepers, and walk into the pit without any one helping him in; confound him, he nearly dragged me with him."

The company now pressed the Tomtit for more detailed information, from which it appeared that unlucky individual had indulged in a spree, and having boasted pretty freely of his achievements in the burglary line, was incontinently pounced upon by the Philadelphia police, who had long been on the lookout for him.

"He von't peach, I 'ope," observed Dick Hatton. "It would be a werry bad blow-up arter all the trouble of 'ouse keeping, not saying nothing about 'aving no private conweniences, and a place for to 'ide when ther vind blows 'igh."

"He aint going to peach," said Mr. Beg, authoritatively, "not he, I know him to be a bully man."

"So do I, so do I," exclaimed several voices at once.

"As to the matter of that," remarked Tomtit "he'll keep things dark, and may-be set them on the wrong scent — let him alone for that.--But blast me, " continued the gentleman, "that isn't the thing; we can't spare Crib; why the whole twelve of us are wanted for next week's job, and Crib was such a locksmith that his services were next to gold, but it is just our confounded luck."

The Tomtit, with this brief reference to the valuable qualifications of Mr. Crib, proceeded to mix a third glass of whiskey punch, and to swallow the same with a look of becoming sorrow and resignation.

"As he's gone," continued the Tomtit musingly, "I suppose it's best to try a different plan; I tell you what boys, I have a great mind to postpone the visit to old Van Cleeker's for a fortnight at least, till I can get one of us in some way connected with the house; I heard the other day the old gentleman wanted a coachman, and if I had somebody to personate one, why it would be a very rum thing to get him in there, and then, don't you see, there would be no need of a locksmith."

"Vy don't you go, Tomtit; yer vould make a rum coachee, yer vould?" suggested Dick with a grin.

"Why, as to that, I suppose I might suit the old gentleman to a hair," returned the Tomtit complacently; "but I have something more important to manage; no, I'll tell you what boys, I've a good mind to send one of you."

"Good," said several voices.

"I know," continued the Tomtit, "all about the house, as far as that goes, for I have visited every nook and corner myself, but still it would be very convenient to have somebody to let us in; Crib could have opened the back door easily, but seeing he's caged, we'll have to give up getting in that way."

"Hist!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Beg, describing with his finger a rapid movement in the direction of the window. The burglars started and pricked up their ears as they distinctly heard the sound of an approaching vehicle; it was just wheeling up before the tavern, and Mr. Beg, who had been sent to reconnoitre, quickly returned to report to the anxious gang that it was only a traveler who had lost his way and wished to stay over night. "He's a jolly looking 'un and has a big carpet bag," whispered Mr. Beg.

This intelligence caused a momentary excitement; the burglars started up, their fierce eyes sparkling with eager delight, but meeting the gaze of their chief they sullenly resumed their seats.

"Is it a worry comfortable looking bag?" enquired Dick, rubbing his hands in expectation of plunder.

"Very promising looking, I should say," replied Mr. Beg; "but what shall I do with the owner?"

Four tallow candles were now brought into the room, and the burglars held a hurried conversation as to how they should dispose of their visitor; some were for dispatching him at once, others were for making away with

him silently; but as a prolonged discussion seemed likely to arise, Mr. Beg was commissioned to see to the personal comfort of the gentleman, provide him with a supper, and make ready his apartment, which last direction caused Mr. Beg to grin from ear to ear.

"Mind," said Dick, "to put 'im in the room vot's got the trap-door, vich is ther worry model of conwenience, and the comfortable room in ther 'ouse."

Mr. Beg laughed approvingly at Mr. Hatton's humorous allusion to the trap-door, and left his friends to continue their consultation.

"My advice," said Dick, "is to run 'im down ven he's snoozing, and drop 'im in ther vat; dead men doesn't tell tales."

"Dead men does tell tales, though," interrupted one of the burglars, lowering his voice to an impressive whisper; "they come up and peach, if its only to get a cove in trouble."

"I think so, too," chimed in another, who was known by the soubriquet of Molecat; "they'll come up sometimes ven its werry inconwenient and troublesome. Vonce, ven I wos doing business in the pad line, in York, we cotched a fellow one night who wos werry lushy. It was a werry good haul, an' some on us was for letting him go; but he kept such a hollorin' and threatening, that, arter parleying a leetle, Bill Hedges gives him a knock on the head vich silenced him; vell, afore we tossed him in the river, Bill ties a big rock to his neck to prevent his coming up and breeding a lot o' nasty questions; but the werry next morning the spiteful corpse comes ashore without the rock, and holding tight onto a piece of Bill Hedges' jacket, vich wos the means of conwicting him and sending him to the gallows."

Mr. Molecat's record of his personal experience seemed to make but little impression on his listeners, for the main subject under consideration was resumed, and a lively debate sprung up, which was, however, not participated in by the Tomtit.

That gentleman sat quietly listening to the various opinions, deigning no other comment than an occasional nod of his head. It was evident that the burglars were unanimously in favor of instantly destroying the traveler; though they essentially varied in their proposed plans of operation.

Mr. Dick Hatton watched his leader's countenance during the progress of the conversation, but it looked stolidly indifferent.

"Vot's yer opinion, Tomtit?" he inquired anxiously. "Aint yer going to say nothing?"

"Of course I am," replied Tomtit, planting his legs defiantly on the table; "my opinion is the opinion that's got to be adopted, and no chattering. Now, look here, " continued he, fixing his restless eyes on the group, "you all want to make way with this traveler?"

"That's so," exclaimed the burglars.

"And I," continued Tomtit, coolly, "am for letting him go."

It would be impossible to describe the effect produced by this decision. The burglars jumped up, and oaths and imprecations of every description were showered on their leader.

"I say," repeated the chief, unmoved by the threatening attitude of his men, "he shall go free — not a hair of his head shall be touched; and who dares object? " His stern, grey eyes glanced from burglar to burglar, and they involuntarily quailed before their defiant gleam.

"Now listen, you fools, to my reasons," continued the Tomtit, angrily, as the overawed villains shrank back into their seats. "You all know next week we do a heavy job in the wholesale line; after it's done we must keep dark; the 'Nest' is the only place we are safe in, and here we must remain till the matter blows over; but, if this man is missed, between that and the job there'll be such a hue and cry raised that we won't dare to show our heads; now do you understand?"

"Vell, s'pose we run the horse and wagon up the country, and hitch his clothes by the side of the river, vich vill look as though he circum wented himself." suggested Mr. Molecat.

The Tomtit shook his head contemptuously.

"Now, then, what would you get for the painstaking and risk? Why, just a carpetbag, and may be a few trifles; people aint such fools as you take them, to go lugging money round the country — there would be plenty of questions asked about the carpet-bag, and likely enough the horse might take it into his head to come back — horses aint fools either," observed the Tomtit, sarcastically.

Mr. Molecat scratched his head, as an expressive indication that the argument was unanswerable, and a short pause ensued.

"Vell," remarked Dick Hatton, breaking the silence, "ther Tomtit's right, I s'pose, but it does look sorter hard arter the bird's cotched to perwent the picking of 'im. It's mean, that's vot it is!"

The Tomtit vouchsafed no reply to this sullen speech, but lighting a fresh cigar, he rose, shook himself, and called Mr. Beg into an adjoining apartment.

"Where is the man?" said he.

"In the back room, eating his supper," was that worthy's reply; "you can peep at him easy enough, for I left the door on the swing."

The Tomtit accordingly crept stealthily into the passage, and getting on his hands and knees, obtained a very excellent view of the stranger, who was quietly proceeding with his meal. Scarcely, however, had the Tomtit's restless eye peered within, than he gave a start of surprise, and retreated immediately.

"Here, Beg," he whispered, in an excited tone, as that individual followed him back again to the private room; "here's a confounded go. Who do you suppose that man is?"

Mr. Beg, of course, intimated that he didn't know, whereupon the Tomtit, looking around to satisfy himself they were alone, brought his hand in the form of a trumpet close to Mr. Beg's ear, and whispered:

"It's Duffy!"

Mr. Beg's face turned deathly pale.

"What," he whispered, "the Detective?"

"The same," rejoined the Tomtit, with an expression plainly denoting his agitation.--"Who or what should bring him here alone, I neither know or can guess — Beg, keep this from the boys, they are savage enough now, but if they should find out the truth, I couldn't control 'em. They would tear this man to pieces, but, Beg, that mustn't be; they must be led off; for it would be the worst thing yet to kill him; he would be missed as sure as preaching."

"Is this the one who has been trying so long to find our Nest?" inquired Beg.

"The very same," replied Tomtit. "You know the State government has offered a reward of over five thousand dollars for the discovery of our whereabouts, and this Duffy has been sneaking around trying to find us, not so much for the possession of the reward as some private aim; he aint a regular Detective, or he might be led off; years ago he was on our track. I have been watching him all along, designing to finish him when a good opportunity offered, but the wiry scoundrel managed to escape me; he may disguise himself as much as he likes, he can't cheat me."

"He's disguised, then?" said Mr. Beg, amazed afresh.

"Of course he is — that fatness isn't real. He thinks he's unknown to me, but I'll pay him off yet," rejoined the Tomtit, with a silent imprecation. "I'll get rid of him, but it mustn't be done here. Now, then, Beg, listen: Fetch me a lantern and the key of the — You understand me."

Beg nodded his head and flew off with alacrity. No one entertained a greater admiration of the Tomtit than that gentleman: he regarded him with the same deference a dog would show to his master, and was contented as long as he could testify his servile affection; he quickly returned with the lantern and key, and to his great surprise found the burglar chief absorbed in the contemplation of the miniature of a young girl, seemingly some seventeen years of age, and of surpassing loveliness, and heard him mutter, "He certainly has good cause to hate me, but I would have spared him had he kept away from 'the Nest.' Now, however, he has rushed upon his doom!" Then, becoming aware of Beg's presence, the Tomtit hastily thrust the picture in his bosom, and turning to the inn-keeper, whispered:

"Let me out by the back-door, Beg."

"All right," was the quiet response.

"Not a word to the boys, mind; if they miss me, tell 'em I've gone to bed."

The Tomtit, with this parting caution, made his exit from the door, which Mr. Beg held open, and walked rapidly off.

The faithful custodian of the Burglars' Nest stood for a few minutes listening, till the retreating footsteps of the burglar chief had died away in the distance; then he carefully closed and relocked the door, and returned to the bar, there to muse over the surprising and startling disclosures which the Tomtit had made to him.

It was one of those remarkable circumstances that sometimes happen in real life, that Mr. Detective Duffy should have unconsciously blundred into the very place he had been searching for vainly the past two years. As he sat quietly eating his supper, he little dreamt that a few yards off stood a figure which, the mere sight of, would have moved him to an absolute frenzy; and well it might — for there was a story connected with that figure, a tale so heart- rending, so terrible, so revolting — of faith broken, of hospitality abused, of wrongs perpetrated, of an idolized daughter consigned to wretchedness — that it could not have been passed over. It had left its impress on the care-worn features of that old man, discernible in every lineament; his grey eyes seemed to flash with the same spirit,--of deep, absorbing revenge.

And now those two men were about to meet — the Detective known to the Burglar, the Burglar unknown to the Detective — to engage in a desperate game, the issue of which was to be death to one or both. Intelligence and honesty were to be pitted against cunning and crime. What was to be the result of this fearful struggle and thirst for vengeance, we shall be able to see in our next chapter.

The above is all of this story that will be published in our columns. The continuation of it from where it leaves off here can be found only in the New York Ledger, the great family paper, which is for sale at all the stores throughout the city and country, where papers are sold. Remember and ask for the New York Ledger of January 5, and in it you will find the continuation of the story from where it leaves off here.

The Ledger is mailed to subscribers at $2 a

year, or two copies for $3. The bills of all good, sound banks in any portion of the Union taken at par. Address your letters to Robert Bonner, publisher, 40 Park Row, New York. It is the handsomest and best family paper in the country, elegantly illustrated, and characterized by a high moral tone.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Park row (United Kingdom) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Beg (16)
Dick Hatton (7)
Dick (5)
Molecat (3)
Detective Duffy (2)
York (1)
Nice (1)
Hist (1)
Geo (1)
Gamble (1)
Crib (1)
Cleeker (1)
Robert Bonner (1)
Clarence Blanchard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
10 AD (1)
May, 1 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: