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PLOTS AND SCHEMES.
THE Buffer was one of the most unmitigated villains that ever
disgraced the name of man. There was no species of crime with which he was not
familiar; and he had a suitable helpmate in his wife, who was the sister of Dick
Flairer - a character that disappeared from the stage of life in the early part
of this history.
In person, the Buffer was slight, short, and rather well
made, - extremely active, and endowed with great physical power. His countenance
was by no means an index to his mind; for it was inexpressive, stolid, and
His wife was a woman of about five-and-twenty, being probably
ten years younger than her husband. She was not precisely ugly; but her
countenance - the very reverse of that of the Buffer - was so indicative of
every evil passion that can possibly disgrace womanhood, as to be almost
The two new-comers seated themselves near the fire, for their
clothes were dripping with the rain, which continued to pour in torrents. The
warmth of the apartment and a couple of glasses of smoking grog soon, however,
put them into good humour and made them comfortable; and the Resurrection Man
then proposed that they should "proceed to business."
"In the first place, Jack," said the Resurrection
Man, addressing himself to the Buffer, "what news about Markham?"
"He will attend to the appointment," was the
"He will?" exclaimed the Resurrection Man, as if
the news were almost too good to be true: "you are sure?"
"As sure as I am that I've got this here glass in my
mawley," said the Buffer.
"To-morrow night he'll meet his brother at Twig
Folly," answered the Buffer, with a laugh.
"Tell me all that took place," cried the
Resurrection Man; "and then I shall be able to judge for myself."
"As you told me," began the Buffer, "I made
myself particklerly clean and tidy, and went up to Holloway this morning at
about eleven o'clock. I knocked at the door of the swell's crib; and an old
butler-like looking feller, with a port-wine face, and a white napkin under his
arm, came and opened it. He asked me what my business was. I said I wanted to
speak to Mr. Markham in private. He asked me to walk in; and he showed me into a
library kind of a place, where I see a good-looking young feller sitting
reading. He was very pale, and seemed as if he'd been ill."
"Fretting about that business at the theatre, no
doubt," observed the Resurrection Man.
"What business?" cried the Buffer.
"No matter - go on."
"Well - so I went into this library and see Mr. Markham.
The old servant left us alone together. 'What do you want with me, my good man?'
says Markham in a very pleasant tone of voice. - 'I have summut exceeding
partickler to say to you, sir,' says I. - ' Well, what is it?' he asks.-' Have
you heard from your brother lately, sir?' says I, throwing out the feeler you
put me up to. If so be he had said he had, and I saw that be really knew where
he was, and every thing about him, I should have invented some excuse, and
walked myself off; but there was no need of that; for the moment I mentioned his
brother, he was quite astonished. - 'My brother!' he says in a wary
excited tone: 'many years has elapsed since I heard from him. Do you know what
has becomed on him?' - 'Perhaps I knows a trifle about him, sir,' says I; 'and
what is wery trifling indeed. In a word,' I says, 'he wants to see you.' - 'He
wants to see me!' cries my gentleman: 'then why doesn't he come to me? But where
is he? tell me, that I may fly to him.' - So then I says, 'The fact of the
matter is this, sir; your brother has got his-self into a bit of a scrape, and
don't dare show. He's living down quite in the east of London, close by the
Regent's Canal; and he has sent me to say that if so be you'll meet him
to-morrow night at ten o'clock at Twig Folly, he'll be there.' - Then Mr.
Markham cries out, 'But why can I not go to him now? if he is in distress or
difficulty, the sooner he sees me the better.' - 'Softly, sir' says I.
'All I know of the matter is this, that I m a honest man as airns his livelihood
by running on messages and doing odd jobs. A gentleman meets me on the bank of
the canal, close by Twig Folly, very early this morning and says, 'Do you
want to airn five shillings?' Of course I says 'Yes.' - 'Then,'
says the gentleman, 'go up to Markham Place without delay, and ask to see Mr.
Markham. He lives at Holloway. Tell him that you come from his brother, who is
in trouble, and can't go to him; but that his brother will meet him to-morrow
night at ten o'clock on the banks of the canal, near Twig Folly. And,' says
the gentleman, 'if he should ask you for a token that you're tellin' the
truth, say that this appointment must be kept instead of the one on the top of
the hill - where two ash trees stands planted.' - Well, the moment I tells
Mr. Markham all this, he begins to blubber, and then to laugh, and to dance
about the room, crying, 'Oh! my dear - dear brother, shall I then embrace you so
soon again?' and suchlike nonsense. Then he gives me half a sovereign his-self,
and sends me into the kitchen, where the cook makes me eat and drink till I was
well-nigh ready to bust. The old butler was rung for; and I've no doubt that his
master told him the good news, for when he come back into the kitchen, he
treated me with the greatest civility, but asked me a lot of questions about Master
Eugene, as he called him. I satisfied him in all ways; and at last I rises,
takes my leave of the servants, and comes off.
"Well done!" cried the Resurrection Man, whose
cadaverous countenance wore an expression of superlative satisfaction. "And
you do not think he entertained the least suspicion?"
"Not a atom," returned the Buffer.
"Nor the old butler?" asked the Resurrection Man.
"Not a bit. But do jest satisfy me on one point [-302-]
Tony; how come you to know that anythink about this young feller's
brother would produce such a powerful excitement?"
"Have I not before told you that this Richard Markham
was a fellow-prisoner with me in Newgate some four years and more ago? Well, I
often overheard him talking about his affairs to another man that was also
there, and whose name was Armstrong. Markham and this Armstrong were very thick
together; and Markham spoke quite openly to him about his family matters, his
brother, and one thing or another. That's the way I came to hear of the strange
appointment made between the two brothers."
"Well, there's no doubt that the fish has bit and can be
hooked to-morrow night," said the Buffer.
"Yes - he is within my reach - and now I shall he
revenged," exclaimed the Resurrection Man, grinding his teeth together.
" I will tell you my plans in this respect presently," he added.
"Let us now talk about the old man that your wife nurses."
"Or did nurse, rather," cried Moll, with a
Both the Resurrection Man and Margaret Flathers turned a
glance of inquiry and surprise upon the Buffer's wife.
"The old fellow's dead," she added, after a
"Dead already!" exclaimed Tidkins.
"Just as I tell you," answered Moll. "He
seemed very sinking and low this morning; and so I was more attentive to him
"But the money?" said the Resurrection Man.
"All a dream on her part," cried the Buffer,
sulkily, pointing towards his wife.
"Now don't you go for to throw all the blame on me,
Jack," retorted the woman; "for you know as well as I do that you was
as sanguine as me. And who wouldn't have taken him for an old miser? Here you
and me," she continued, addressing herself to her husband, "go to hire
a lodging in a house in Smart Street, about three months ago, and we find out
that there's an old chap living overhead, on the first floor, who had been there
three months before that time, and had always lived in the same regular, quiet
way - never going out except after dusk, doing nothing to earn his bread, paying
his way, and owing nobody a penny. Then he was dressed in clothes that wasn't
worth sixpence, and yet he had gold to buy others if he chose, because he used
to change a sovereign every week, when he paid his rent. Well, all these things
put together, made me think he was a miser, and had a store somewhere or
another; and when I said to you "
"I know what you said, fast enough," interrupted the
Buffer, sulkily: "what's the use of telling us all this over again?"
"Just to show that if I was deceived, you was too. But
it's always the way with you: when any thing turns out wrong, you throw the
blame on me. Didn't you say to me, when the old fellow was took ill a month ago:
'Moll,' says you, 'go and offer pear services
to nurse the old gentleman; and may be if he dies he'll leave you something; or
at all events you may worm out of him the secret of where he keeps his money,
and we can get hold of it all the same.' That's what you said - and so I did go
and nurse the old man; and he seemed very grateful, for at last he began to like
me almost as much as be did his snuff-box - and that's saying a great deal,
considering the quantity of snuff be used to take, and the good it seemed to do
him when be was low and melancholy."
"Well - what's the use of you and the Buffer wrangling?"
cried the Resurrection Man. " Tell us all about the old fellow's death."
"As I was saying just now," continued Moll,
gentleman was took wary bad this morning soon after Jack left to go up to
Holloway; and the landlady, Mrs. Smith, insisted on sending for a doctor. The
old gentleman shook his head, when he heard Mrs. Smith say so, and seemed wary,
much annoyed at the idea of having a medical visit. But Mrs. Smith was positive,
for she said that she had lost her husband and been left a lone widder through
not having a doctor in time to him when be was ill. Well, a doctor was sent for,
and he said that the old gentleman was very bad indeed. He asked me and Mrs.
Smith what his name was, and whether he'd any relations, as they ought to be
sent for; but Mrs. Smith said that she never knowed his name at all, and as for
relations no one never come to see him and he never went to see no one his-self.
The doctors orders him to have mustard poultices put to his feet; but it wasn't
of no use, for the old fellow gives a last gasp and dies at twenty minutes past
two this blessed afternoon."
"Well," said the Resurrection Man; "and then, I suppose,
you had a rummage in his boxes?"
"Boxes, indeed!" cried Moll, with an indignant toss of
her head. "Why, when he first come to the house, Mrs. Smith says that all
he had was a bundle tied up in a blue cotton pocket handkercher - a couple of
shirts, and a few pair of stockings, or so. She didn't like to take him in, she
says; but he offered to pay a month's rent in advance; and so she was satisfied.
"Then you found nothing at all?" exclaimed the
"Not much," returned Moll. "The moment we saw he was
dead, we began to search all over the room, to see what he had left behind him.
For a long time we could find nothing but a dirty shirt, two pair of stockings,
and a jar of snuff; and yet Mrs. Smith said she knew there must be money, for
she had heard him counting his gold one day before he was took ill. Besides,
during his illness, whenever money was wanted to get any thing for him, he never
gave it at first, but sent me or Mrs. Smith out of the room with some excuse;
and when we went back, he always had the money in his hand. Well, me and Mrs.
Smith searched and searched away, and at last Mrs. Smith bethinks herself of
looking behind the bed. We moved the bed away from the wall as well as we could.
for the dead body lying upon it made it precious heavy; and then we saw that a
hole had been made down in the corner of the room. Mrs. Smith puts in her
finder, and draws out an old greasy silk purse. I heard the gold chink; but I
saw that the purse was not over heavy. 'Well,' says Mrs. Smith, 'I'm glad I've got
a witness of what the poor gentleman left behind him; or else I might get into
trouble some day or another, if any inquiries should be made.' So she pours out
the gold into her hand, and counts thirty-nine sovereigns.
"And that was all?" cried the Resurrection Man.
"Every farthing, " replied the Buffer's wife.
"Well, I asked Mrs Smith what she intended to do with it; and she says, 'I
shall bury the poor old gentleman decently: that will be five pounds. Then there
is a pound for the doctor, as I must get him to follow the funeral; and here is two
pounds for you for your attention to the old gentleman in his illness.' So
she gives me the two pounds; and I asks [-303-] her
what she is going to do with the rest, because there was
still thirty-one pounds left."
"And what did she say to that?" demanded the Rattlesnake.
"She began a long ditty about her being an honest woman,
though a poor one, and that dead man's gold would only bring ill-luck into her
"The old fool!" cried the Resurrection Man.
"And then she said she should ask the parson, when she
had buried the old man, what she ought to do with the thirty-one pounds."
"Why didn't you propose to split it between you and hold
your tongues?" asked the Resurrection Man.
"So I did," answered Moll; "and what do you think
the old fool said? She up and, told me that she always thought that me and my
husband was not the most respectablest of characters, and she now felt
convinced of it."
"Well, we must have those thirty yellow boys, old fellow,"
said the Resurrection Man to the Buffer.
"Yes - if we can get them," answered the latter; "and
I know of no way to do it but to cut the old woman's throat."
"No - that won't do," ejaculated the Resurrection Man.
"If the old woman disappeared suddenly, suspicion would be sure to fall on
you; and the whole Happy Valley would be up in arms. Then the blue-bottles might
find a trace to this crib here; and we should all get into trouble."
"But if you mean to put the kyebosh upon young Markham
to-morrow night," said the Buffer, "won't that raise a devil of a dust in
"Markham disappears from Holloway, which is a long way
from the Happy Valley," replied the Resurrection Man.
"And the old butler, who is certain to know that the
appointment was made for Twig Folly," persisted the Buffer, " won't he give
information that will raise the whole Valley in arms, as you call, it?"
"No such thing," said the Resurrection Man.
"Markham falls into the canal accidentally, and is drowned. There's no mark
of violence on his body, and his watch and money are safe about his person. Now
do you understand me?"
"I understand that if you mean me to jump into the canal
and help to hold him in it till he's drowned, you're deucedly out in your
reckoning, for I ain't going to risk drowning myself, 'cause I can't swim better
than a stone."
"You need not set foot in the water," said the
Resurrection Man, somewhat impatiently. " But I suppose you could hold him
by the heels fast enough upon the bank?"
"Oh! yes - I don't mind that,' replied the Buffer: "but how shall we get
the thirty one couters
from this old fool of a landlady, unless we use violence?"
The Resurrection Man leant his head upon his hand, his elbow
being supported by the, table, and reflected profoundly for some moments.
So high an opinion did the other villain and the two women
entertain of the ingenuity, craft, and cunning of the Resurrection Man, that
they observed a solemn silence while he was thus occupied in meditation, - as if
they were afraid of interrupting a current of ideas which, they hoped, would
lead to some scheme beneficial to them all.
Suddenly the Resurrection Man raised his head, and, turning
towards the Buffer's wife, said, "Do you know whether the old woman has
spoken to any
one yet about the funeral ?"
"She said she should let it be till to-morrow morning,
because the weather was so awful bad this afternoon."
"Excellent! " ejaculated the Resurrection Man.
"Now, Moll, do you put on your bonnet, take the large cotton umbrella
there, and go and do what I tell you without delay."
The woman rose to put on her bonnet and cloak which she had laid
aside upon first entering the room; and the Resurrection
Man wrote a hurried note. Having folded, wafered, and addressed it, he handed it to the
Buffer's wife, saying, " Go down as fast as your legs will carry you to
Banks, the undertaker, in Globe Lane, and ask to see him. Give him this; but
mind and deliver it into his hand only. If he is not at home, wait till he comes in."
The women took the note, and departed on the mysterious
mission entrusted to her.
"What's in the wind now?" demanded the Buffer, as soon as
the door had closed behind his wife.
"You shall see," replied the Resurrection Man. "Now let
us fill our glasses, and blow a cloud till Moll comes back."
The Rattlesnake mixed fresh supplies of grog; and the two
men lighted their pipes.
"How the rain does beat down," observed the Buffer, after
"And the wind sweeps along like a hurricane," said the
Resurrection Man. "By the by, this is New Year's Day. What different
weather it is from what it was last New Year's Day."
"Do you recollect what sort of weather it was last New
Year's Day?" demanded the Buffer.
"Perfectly well," answered the Resurrection Man;
"because it was on that evening that I and the poor Cracksman helped young Holford over the Palace
"And that venture turned out no go, did it?" asked the Buffer.
"It failed because the young scamp either turned funky
or played us false. I never could make out which. But I have an account
to settle with him too; and the first time I meet him I'll teach him what it is
to humbug a man like me."
There was a pause, during which the two men smoked their
pipes with all the calmness of individuals engaged in virtuous and innocent
meditation; and the Rattlesnake added fresh fuel to the fire, the flames of
which roared cheerfully up the chimney.
"Come, sing us a song, Meg," cried the Buffer, breaking a
silence which had lasted several minutes.
"I have got a cold, and can't sing," replied the
"Well, then, Tony," said the Buffer, " tell us some
of your adventures. They'll amuse us till Moll comes back."
"I am quite tired of telling the same things over and
over again," answered the Resurrection Man. "We've never heard you practise
in that line yet; so the sooner you begin the better. Come, tell us your
"There isn't much to tell," said the Buffer, re-filling his pipe; " but such as
it is, you're welcome to it."
With this preface, the Buffer commenced his autobiography,
in the record of which we have taken the liberty of correcting the grammatical
solecisms that invariably characterised this individual's. discourse; and we have also improved the language in
which the narrative was originally clothed.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON
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