The Good Intent left Dover on February 23, went as far as the Downs about two miles from the coast, and under cover of darkness took on board from a French vessel, which was there waiting by appointment, about forty bales of silk. In order to be ready to deal with these, the Good Intent had been provided with sufficient empty crates and boxes. The silks were put into these, they were addressed to some persons in Birmingham, and, after being landed at one of the London quays as if they had come from Dover, they were sent across to the Paddington Canal, and duly arrived at their destination. Allen’s share of that transaction amounted to about L80. He had done so well that he repeated the same practice in April and May; but in June some tea which he brought in was seized, and although he was not prosecuted yet it gave him a fright. But after being entreated by the two tempters, he repeated his first incident, took forty more bales on board, and arrived at the Port of London. But the Custom House officials had got wind of this, and when the Good Intent arrived she was searched. In this case the goods had not been put into crates, but were concealed in the ballast, the idea being not to land them in London but to bring them back under the ballast to Dover.
[Illustration: “Under cover of darkness took on board ... forty bales of silk.”]
The first remark the Customs officer made was, “There is a great deal more ballast here than is necessary for such a ship,” and promptly began moving the same. Of course the goods were discovered, and of course Allen pretended he knew nothing about the forty bales being there concealed. They were seized and condemned.
Becker got to hear of this disaster and that a warrant was out for his own arrest, so he quickly hopped across to Calais. An officer was sent both to Deal and to Dover to find Tomsett, but found him not, so he crossed over to Calais, and among the first people whom he saw on Calais pier were Tomsett and Becker walking about together. The officer had no wish to be seen by Becker, but the latter saw him, and came up and asked him how he was and what he was doing there. The officer made the best excuse he could, and stated that he had got on board the steam-packet and been brought off by mistake.
“Oh, I am here in consequence of that rascal Allen having peached against us,” volunteered Becker, and then went on to say that he was as innocent as the child unborn. However, the judge, at a later date, thought otherwise, and imposed a penalty of L4750, though the full penalty really amounted to the enormous sum of L71,000.
FORCE AND CUNNING