Hands were shaken, the last words of advice given, and Cummings plunged into the labyrinth of gullies and underbrush, leaving his companions each to pursue his own way, Moriarity going west, while Haight, going east, sprang the fence, and entering a thick patch of bushes, brought out a horse, saddled and bridled. Mounting this he struck into a quick canter across the country toward St. Louis.
The first clew found.
Mr. Pinkerton had passed an anxious week, Never before had he been so completely baffled. The finding of the letter-heads with Bartlett’s name written on them in Fotheringham’s trunk had quite upset his theories. Yet the most searching examination could find nothing in the suspected messenger’s previous movements, upon which to fasten any connection with the robbery.
The vast machinery of Pinkerton’s Detective Agency was at work all over the country. His brightest and keenest operatives had been brought together in St. Louis, Kansas City, Leavenworth and Chicago. False clews were sprung every day, and run down to a disappointed termination. But all to no purpose. Outwitted and baffled, Mr. Pinkerton was treading his apartment at the Southern Hotel with impatient steps; his brow was wrinkled with thought and his eyes heavy with loss of sleep. In his vast and varied experience with criminals he had never yet met one who had so completely covered his tracks as this same Jim Cummings. Of one thing he was satisfied, however, and that was, that no professional criminal had committed the robbery, and again that two or more men were concerned in it.
In Fotheringham’s description of the robbery, he had mentioned hearing an unusual noise in the fore part of the car, as if some one were tapping on the partition, and on examining the car, the bell-cord was found to be plugged. This showed an accomplice, or perhaps more than one.
That it was not done by a professional was clear, because Mr. Pinkerton, having the entire directory and encyclopedia of crime and criminals at his fingers’ end, knew of no one that would have gone about the affair as this man Cummings had done.
As everything else has its system, and each system has its followers, so robbery has its method, and each method its advocates and practitioners. This is so assuredly the fact that the detective almost instantly recognizes the hand which did the work by the manner in which the work was done.
This particular robbery was unique. An express car had never been looted in this manner before. “Therefore,” said Mr. Pinkerton, “it was done by a new man, and although this new man had the nerve, brains and shrewdness necessary to successfully terminate his plans, yet he will lack the cunning and experience of an old hand in keeping clear of the detectives and the law, and will do some one thing which will put us upon his track.”