Louis, Missouri. Severing his connection with that company, he went to Washington, D. He then took up the business of railroading, and for the following nine years occupied positions as fireman, brakeman, switchman, conductor and general yard master. When the gold fever broke out in the Black Hills in , Mr. Wooldridge along with many others went to that region to better his fortune. The work was not only very difficult, but very dangerous, and at times, when he was assisting in locating the line through the Royal Gorge in the Grand Canon of the Arkansas, he was suspended from a rope, which ran from the peak of one cliff to the other, with his surveying instruments strapped to his back.
This gorge is fifty feet wide at the bottom and seventy feet wide at the top, the walls of solid rock rising three thousand feet above the level of the river below. The work was slow and required a great deal of skill, but it was accomplished successfully. Wooldridge went to Denver in and engaged in contracting and mining the following eighteen months. He then took a position as engineer and foreman of the Denver Daily Republican, where he remained until May 29, Paul railway. In , he severed his connection with the railroad and founded the "Switchman's Journal.
Thus the savings of many years were swept away, leaving him penniless and in debt. The strike included the engineers, firemen and switchmen, and continued nearly a year. On [Pg 29] October 5th of that year Mr. Wooldridge made application for a position on the Chicago police force, and having the highest endorsements, he was appointed and assigned to the Desplaines Street Station. It was soon discovered that Wooldridge as a police officer had no superiors and few equals. Neither politics, religion, creed, color, or nationality obstructed him in the performance of his police duties, and the fact was demonstrated and conceded times without number that he could not be bought, bribed, or intimidated.
He selected for his motto, "Right wrongs no man; equal justice to all. The mass of records on file in the police headquarters and in the office of the clerk of the municipal and criminal court demonstrate conclusively that he has made one of the most remarkable records of any police officer in the United States if not in the world. Wooldridge has seen twenty years of experience and training in active police work. Ten years of this time he was located in what is commonly known as the Levee district, a territory where criminals congregate and where crimes of all degrees are committed.
Wooldridge is therefore of Southern extraction. And in spite of the "big stick" which this terror of the grafters has carried for twenty years, he still "speaks softly," the gentle accent of the old South. But behind that soft speech there is a determined soul. The smooth-running accents of the South are in this case the velvet which hides the glove of iron. These wine rooms were the downfall and ruination of hundreds of innocent girls.
These companies paid no losses, and there were, it is estimated, 1,, persons who had taken out fire insurance policies in these wildcat companies. They had sustained fire losses and were not indemnified. At that time there were 64 uniformed officers stationed in front of the panel houses. Detectives Wooldridge and Schubert were assigned to break them, which was accomplished in three weeks' time.
July 31, , Detective Wooldridge, in charge of 50 officers, arrested men and landed them in the Harrison Street Police Station, and dismantled the following bucketshops:. It was one of the largest and most sensational raids ever made in Chicago, and will be long remembered. Emma Ford, sentenced to the penitentiary April 5, , for five years. Pearl Smith, her sister, sentenced to the penitentiary June 19, , for five years. Mary White, May 20, , for two years. Flossie Moore, March 27, , for five years.
Seventy-five thousand dollars is said to have been stolen by her in eighteen months. Johnson, a retired merchant, aged 74 years. She went to Toledo, O. One of the girls escaped in her night clothes by tying a sheet to the window. There were six in number, as follows:. After Mary Hastings was arrested and she found out that she could not bribe Wooldridge she gave bonds and fled. Some months later she was again arrested, and the case dragged along for two years.
The witnesses were bought up and shipped out of the state. The case was stricken off, with leave to reinstate. The following are the names of the women arrested:. Detective Wooldridge has been under fire over forty times, and it is said that he bears a charmed life, and fears nothing. He has met with many hair-breadth escapes in his efforts to apprehend criminals who, by means of revolver and other concealed weapons, tried to fight their way to liberty.
He has in his crime hunting associated with members of the "" and fraternized with hobos. He has dined with the elite and smoked in the opium dens; he has done everything that one expects a detective of fiction to do, and which the real detective seldom does. Wooldridge, the incorruptible! That describes him. The keenest, shrewdest, most indefatigable man that ever wore a detective's star, the equal of Lecocq and far the superior of the fictitious Sherlock Holmes, the man who has time and again achieved the seemingly impossible with the most tremendous odds against him, the man who might, had such been his desire, be wealthy, be a "foremost citizen" as tainted money goes, has earned the title given him in these headlines.
And if ever any one man earned this title it is Clifton R. It is refreshing to the citizenship of America, rich and poor alike, to contemplate the career of this wonderful man. It fills men with respect for the law, with confidence in the administration of the law, to know that there are such men as Wooldridge at the helm of justice. The writer of this article has enjoyed intimate personal association with the great detective, both in the capacity of a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and anti-graft worker.
The ins and outs of the nature of the greatest secret service worker in Chicago, Clifton R. Wooldridge, have been to me an open book. And when I call him Wooldridge, the incorruptible, I know whereof I speak.
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I have seen him when all the "influences" and they are the same "influences" which have been denounced all over the country of late were brought to bear upon him, when even his [Pg 34] own chiefs were inclined to be frightened, but no "influence" from any source, howsoever high, has ever availed to swerve him one inch from the path of duty.
He has been offered bribes innumerable; but in each and every instance the would-be briber has learned a very unpleasant lesson. For this man, who might be worth almost anything he wished, is by no means affluent. But he has kept his name untarnished and his spirit high through good fortune and through bad, through evil repute and good. Wooldridge does not know the meaning of a lie. A lie is something so foreign to his nature that he has trouble in comprehending how others can see profit in falsifying.
It has been his cardinal principle through life that liars always come to a bad end finally.
And he has seen his healthy estimate of life vindicated, both in the high circles of frenzied finance and in the low levels of sneak-thievery. But the most remarkable thing to me about Wooldridge is the work he has done. Consider for a moment the record which heads this article. Could anything shout forth the tremendous energy of the man in any plainer terms? There are men in the same line of work with Wooldridge, who have been in the service for the same length of time, who have not made one arrest where he has made thousands.
Twenty thousand arrests in twenty years of service, a thousand arrests every year, on an average. A thousand get-rich-quick concerns, victimizing more than a million people, raided and put out of business; thirteen thousand one hundred convictions; hundreds upon hundreds of wine rooms, gambling houses, bucketshops, opium joints, houses of ill fame, turf frauds, bogus charity swindles, policy shops, matrimonial agencies, fraudulent guarantee companies, spurious medicine [Pg 35] concerns, thieving theater agencies and mushroom banks brought to the bar of justice and made to expiate their crimes.
That is the record of the almost inconceivable work done by Clifton R. Wooldridge on the Chicago police force. The figures are almost appalling in their greatness. It is hard for the mind to comprehend how any one man could have achieved all this vast amount of labor, even if he worked twenty-four hours a day all the time. And yet it is the bare record of the "big" work done by Wooldridge, aside from his routine. Detective Wooldridge from March, , until April 5, , was attached to the office of the General Superintendent of Police and worked out of his office.
During that time over 1, letters and complaints were referred to him for investigation and action. April 5, , Detective Wooldridge was relieved of this work and transferred, and crusade and extermination of the get-rich-quick concerns ceased. September 20, , Detective Wooldridge was placed in charge of twenty-five picked detectives, who were placed in charge of the suppression of hand-books and other gambling in Chicago. He remained in charge of this detail for three years. On December 13, , at the residence of Charles Partdridge, Michigan avenue and Thirty-second street, while three desperate burglars were trying to effect an entrance into the house, Detective Wooldridge espied them and in his attempt to arrest them was fired upon by the trio.
One shot passed through his cap, clipping off a lock of his hair and grazing his scalp. The next shot struck him squarely in the buckle of his belt, which saved his life. August 20, , he met with another narrow escape at [Pg 36] Thirtieth and Dearborn streets, while attempting to arrest Nathan Judd, a crazed and desperate colored man. Judd threw a brick at him, striking him over his left temple, and inflicting a wound two inches long. Judd was shot through the thigh, and afterwards was sent to the house of correction for one year. Detective Wooldridge, alone in a drenching rainstorm at 4 o'clock on the morning of June 23, , at Michigan avenue and Madison street, intercepted three horsethieves and hold-up men in a buggy trying to make their escape.
At the point of a revolver he commanded them to halt. As they approached him no attention was paid to him, or to what he was saying. Seizing the bridle of the horse, he was dragged nearly a block before the horse was checked. A twenty-pound horse weight was hurled at him by one of the robbers, which just missed his head.
Another one of the robbers leaped upon the horse and rained blow after blow upon his head with the buggy whip. Detective Wooldridge shot this man in the leg; he jumped off the horse and made good his escape while Wooldridge was engaged in a desperate hand to hand encounter with the other two robbers. Wooldridge knocked both senseless with the butt of his revolver. Both were found guilty a month later and sent to the penitentiary by Judge Baker. March 4, , Detective Wooldridge by his prompt and courageous actions, and the immediate risk of his own life, succeeded in rescuing from the Waverly Hotel which was on fire , at and S.
Clark street, two ladies who were overcome by smoke on the second floor of the burning building: also a lady and two children, aged two years and five months, respectively, from the fourth floor. This act was performed by tying a silk handkerchief around his mouth, and on his hands and knees crawling up the winding stairs to the fourth floor, where he found Mrs.
Dwyer unconscious. Placing the two children in a bed quilt, he threw it over his shoulder, and seizing Mrs. Dwyer by the hand, dragged her down the stairs to a place of safety, where medical assistance was called. He also had charge of the suppression of gambling at parks and other places of amusement, the inspection and supervision of picture exhibitions in penny arcades and museums, and the inspection and supervision of illustrated postal cards sold throughout the city for the purpose of preventing the exhibition, sale and circulation of vulgar and obscene pictures, the work of gathering evidence against and the suppression of dealers in "sure thing" gambling devices, viz.
Sales whipped out his gun and fired four shots at Wooldridge at short range; two of the shots passing harmlessly through his coat. Sales was arrested and given one year in the house of correction. June 6, , Detective Wooldridge arrested Eugene Buchanan for committing a highway robbery at Polk and Clark streets. A few days prior he had held up and robbed Philip Schneider and kicked out one of his eyes. Buchanan was met in the alley between Clark street and Pacific avenue, where he resisted arrest and fought like a demon, using his hands, club and head.
In the scuffle he ran his head between Wooldridge's legs and [Pg 38] tried to throw him, but Wooldridge was to quick for him and fastened his legs around Buchanan's neck like a clam. Buchanan could not free himself. Wooldridge pulled his gun and placing it in the ear of Buchanan compelled him to carry him to the Harrison street police station on his shoulder. It was one of the most novel sights ever witnessed, and will be long remembered by those who saw it.
Buchanan was convicted and sent to the penitentiary for three years. Upon his release he applied to Wooldridge to assist him in securing a position. He afterwards committed a highway robbery in Washington Park and is now serving an indefinite term in the penitentiary. Kelly was a hold-up man, ex-convict and a notorious safe-blower, who several years prior to this shot two officers in St. Louis, Mo. Kelly was found behind locked doors on the second-floor and refused to open the doors. Detective Wooldridge went to the adjoining flat, opened a window and crawled along the ledge until he had reached Kelly's room; with a revolver in his mouth he pushed up the sash and was faced by Kelly and his wife.
Wooldridge had meanwhile secured a good hold on the sill of the window, but was not in a position to defend himself. The Kelly woman tried her best to shove him off; she succeeded in loosening one of his hands, and for an instant Detective Wooldridge thought he would have to fall. With an almost superhuman effort Wooldridge broke in the window and covering Kelly with his own revolver ordered him to throw up [Pg 39] his hands, which he did. He was taken to the police station and heavily fined. A dozen of the highwaymen and robbers on whom Wooldridge was waging a relentless warfare gathered together on the morning of July 4, , and formed a plot to kill Wooldridge and get him out of the way.
They concluded that the night of July 4, when everyone was firing off revolvers and celebrating, would afford the best opportunity. They imagined it would be an easy thing to shoot him from one of the windows or from a housetop while he was on duty patrolling his post, and no one would know where the shot came from, as there was shooting from every direction. An oath of secrecy was taken by all present, and lots drawn to see who was to do the deed. In all probability their plan would have been carried out had it not been for a colored woman, who was watching them and heard the whole plot, and who went with the information to the Harrison Street Police Station.
Captain Koch and Lieutenant Laughlin were notified and upon investigation found the report to be true. They took immediate steps to protect Wooldridge by placing three additional officers in full uniform with him, and also placing six men in citizen's clothes on his post. Every man they met was searched for a gun; every crook, vagrant and thief that they could lay their hands on was placed under lock and key in the station, and by 11 o'clock that night there was no square in the city quieter than the one this officer patrolled, and in two weeks' time "Coon Hollow" and the whole neighborhood for half a mile in every direction had undergone the most remarkable change known to police history, and this change was apparent for a long time thereafter.
February 11, , Detective Wooldridge, while trying to arrest a panel-house keeper and three colored hold-up men at [Pg 40] Dearborn street, was fired upon by one of the trio, Kid White, the shot striking the bar of his watch chain, which was attached to the lower button of his vest. When the bar was struck the bullet was diverted from entering Wooldridge's stomach, and it glanced off and passed through his overcoat.
In Wooldridge's fiercest fight came when he arrested George Kinnucan in his saloon at Clark street. A dozen roughs, henchmen of Kinnucan, who were in the saloon at the time, came to the saloonkeeper's rescue. The officer was knocked down, his billy taken from him and himself beaten unconscious with it, and his face and head kicked into one mass of bruises.
Through it all he managed to hang on to his revolver. This alone saved him. He finally managed to shoot Kinnucan through the hand and forearm, and a moment later a uniformed man burst in and evened up the battle. Six of the toughs were arrested, and Wooldridge was left alone by them for a long time. In the same year of , Detective Wooldridge, disguising himself as a cheap thief, entered a Clark street criminals' resort and fraternized with thieves, murderers and vagabonds of all kinds, in order to obtain information, leading Wooldridge into the most amazing school of crime ever witnessed by a Chicago police officer.
He was accepted in good faith as a proper sneak thief by the brotherhood, and for his benefit the "manager" of the den put his "pupils" through their "lessons. These lessons were in shoplifting, pocket picking, purse snatching and other forms of larceny requiring skill and deftness. When he had seen enough Wooldridge generously volunteered to "rush the growler" and went out—and called the patrol wagon. Twenty-three crooks were arrested this time. Each one of them swore he would have killed the detective had [Pg 41] his makeup or conduct for an instant directed suspicion toward him.
To offset his aerial stunt he took a high dive from the top of a building, landing on his head in a pile of refuse with such force as to go "in over his head" and stick there so tightly that it required the combined strength of two officers to pull him out by the legs. It was near Twelfth and State streets while pursuing two women across a roof that his remarkable stunt took place. The women jumped from the roof into a pile of refuse. They landed on their feet.
Wooldridge came after them. He landed on his head. As he landed he grasped a woman with either hand, and held them until the arrival of his brother officers effected his release and their capture. But these are only humorous incidents, things to laugh over when the day's work is done. In the parlance of the detectives, they belong to "straight police work.
A black cat helped solve a murder in a way which puts a distinct strain on the credulity of the uninitiated. A rich man had been murdered in a certain part of the city. He was in his library at the time of the crime. His family was in an adjoining room, yet none of them heard any noise, or knew what had been done until they found him lifeless on the floor.
Investigation proved that he had been shot, but not with an ordinary weapon. The missile in his heart was a combination of bullet and dart, evidently propelled from a powerful air rifle or spring gun. But no clew was left by the perpetrator [Pg 42] of the crime, and Wooldridge carried the strange missile in his pocket for several months before a single prospect of apprehending the murderer appeared.
Then it was the black cat that did it. What strange coincidence or freak of fate it was that impelled the cat to literally lead the detective to a little pile of dirt in an alley that night Wooldridge never has attempted to explain. But lead him it did, and when he dug into the disturbed ground he found something entirely new in the gun line, the weapon that had discharged the fatal bullet in his pocket.
Eventually he traced the gun to its inventor, and from there to the man who had purchased it, a young fellow named Johnson, and a supposed friend of the murdered man's family. The consequence was that this man proved to be the murderer. When arrested he at first denied his guilt, broke down under the sweatbox ordeal and confessed, and—killed himself in his cell next morning.
For mystery and good fortune in bringing an apparently untraceable criminal to justice this incident perhaps has never been equaled in Chicago's police records. In Chicago's great building trade strike occurred in which 60, men were thrown out of employment. Many acts of violence were committed. Several men were killed and many maimed and injured. Detective Wooldridge was placed in charge of thirty picked detectives from the detective bureau with orders to suppress these lawless acts and arrest the guilty offenders.
Through his vigilance and untiring efforts law and order were soon restored, and he was highly complimented by Chief of Police Joseph Kipley and the public press. Literally speaking, the darkest situation into which his experiences have led him was the tunnel by which inmates of Mattie Lee's famous resort at Custom House place escaped when the place was raided. Mattie had decided that it was a [Pg 43] nuisance to go to the station every time the police wanted to arrest her, so she had the tunnel dug.
After that when the police called on her Mattie greeted them with an empty house and a sweet smile, while underground the inmates were crawling on their hands and knees to safety. Wooldridge found the tunnel and, crawling in, "snaked out" six colored men and women whom he found in the darkness. Versatility is a requisite with the successful detective. May 28, , perhaps, his appearance in the role of a ragpicker, which led to the arrest and conviction of two negro highwaymen, Henry Reed and Ed Lane, was his most daring and successful effort at disguise.
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Lane is at present serving a life sentence in Joliet for the murder of Robert Metcalfe. The assault and robbery of a contractor named Anderson was the occasion for Wooldridge's assumption of the guise of ragpicker. Anderson had described Lane so accurately that the detective was sure of recognizing him once he put his eyes upon him, but in those days a detective to go into the black belt looking for a criminal was to spread a wide alarm over the whole district. Consequently he "made up. While thus pursuing his way Wooldridge not only discovered the presence of Reed and Lane, but actually worked through the refuse in a garbage box upon which Lane was sitting quarreling with some confederates over the division of the previous night's spoils.
He even went so far as to pick up an old coat [Pg 44] which Lane had discarded. Thereupon Lane ordered him to get out of the alley or get his throat cut from ear to ear. Wooldridge went humbly out, and waited. Presently Lane and Reed appeared and went south on State street. Wooldridge followed, and at an opportune moment seized them both from behind. The fight that followed is historic.
Only sheer luck and the threat to kill both antagonists on the spot if they did not cease resistance saved the detective's life. After knocking both men down with his billy he succeeded in holding them until a fellow officer came to his rescue. They were arrested and convicted June 25, , and sent to the penitentiary for three years. May 19, , Detective Wooldridge raided the following places: H. Evins, S. Clark street; George Deshone, 64 N. Clark street; E. Disclosures of conditions which so seriously threatened the discipline of the United States army and navy that the secretaries of the two departments and even President Roosevelt himself were called upon to aid in their suppression.
It was charged that a coterie of Chicago men engaged in making and selling these devices had formed a "trust" and had for years robbed, swindled and corrupted the enlisted men of the army and navy through loaded dice, "hold-outs," magnetized roulette wheels and other crooked gambling apparatus.
The "crooked" gambling "trust" in Chicago spread over the civilized world, had its clutches on nearly every United States battleship, army post and military prison; caused wholesale desertions, and in general corrupted the entire defensive institution of the nation. Besides the corruption of the army, these companies are said to have aimed a blow at the foundation of the nation by offering, through a mail order plan, for six cents, loaded dice to schoolboys, provided they sent the names of likely gamblers among their playmates.
This plan had not reached its full growth when nipped. But the disruption of the army and navy had been under way for several years and had reached such gigantic proportions that the military service was in danger of complete disorganization. Thousands of men were mulcted of their pay monthly.
Desertions followed these wholesale robberies. The war department could not find the specific trouble. Post commanders and battleship commanders were instructed to investigate. The army investigation, confirmed after the raid and arrests, showed that the whole army had been honeycombed with corruption by these companies.
Express books and registered mail return cards showed that most of the goods were sold to soldiers and sailors. In August, , complaints had been made at the Stanton Avenue Police Station for several weeks concerning the establishment of a disorderly house at Thirty-first street, but try as they would uniformed officers were helpless so far as securing evidence enough to convict was concerned. Wooldridge at that time a uniformed man, was put in plain clothes and detailed on the case.
One of the great stumbling blocks in the way of the police had been the high basement under the house, which made it impossible for any one to look in the windows of the flat without the aid of the ladder. As the presence of a ladder would arouse suspicion, the problem of viewing the inside of the flat was a difficult one.
One thing the other men on the case had overlooked. This was the presence of a beam jutting out from the top of the building to which a rope, pulley, and barrel were attached, used as a means of lowering garbage and ashes from the second floor to the alley. Wooldridge saw the possibilities of the rope and barrel trick. Attaching to the rope a vinegar barrel with holes bored in it at convenient intervals, he awaited an opportune time, curled up in the barrel, and had himself drawn up to the level of the windows by two officers.
The lowering and raising of the barrel being a customary thing in the building, excited no suspicion in the minds of those in the flat, and Wooldridge, with his sleuth's eye at one of the holes, saw what served to drive the place out of existence and secure the conviction of its keeper.
One of the last exploits of Detective Wooldridge before his completion of the twenty years of service, was the breaking up of the cock-fighting mains, which infested Chicago during the latter part of and the early part of The story savors of the burlesque. Wooldridge obtained information as to the whereabouts of a cock-fight which was to be pulled off. Then he sought out and purchased a pair of decrepit old roosters, that would not fight an English sparrow, bundled them into a sack and started for scene of action.
Arrived in what he knew to be the neighborhood of the fight, he declared that he had been sent to deliver some "fightin' chickuns. Here he was admitted and left the antique roosters. Then he said he was going for more birds. Instead he went for a patrol wagon. And that was the end of the chicken fight. The trapping of the Wildcat Insurance companies furnishes one of the most dramatic chapters in the financial history of the United States, if not in the world. The police and postal authorities worked together. Two thousand eight hundred letters were sent out asking for information and gathering evidence.
At the trial of Dr. Jacobs, on one of these cases, there were witnesses present. Five of these witnesses were victims, and lived in tents. Three were living in wagons: One, Samuel James, of Westfield, Illinois, a carpenter, 64 years of age, had a wife and six children. He had built his house morning and evening. James accomplished the end of his heart's desire. Fearing lest the fruit of his life-work should be swept away by fire, James took out an insurance policy in one of Dr.
Jacobs' Wildcat Insurance companies. The house burned down and he was not indemnified. With his wife and six little children James was forced to take shelter in a chicken coop, where they were living when the broken-hearted father came to Chicago as a witness against Dr. The breaking up of the drug ring, however, was a delicate task. It was strongly backed financially, and it was aided and abetted throughout the United States by political rings galore.
Chicago was the headquarters. A ten thousand dollar bribe was offered Detective Wooldridge, October 29, , by the spurious medicine concerns to return their goods and stop the prosecution; this failed. Then false and malicious charges were filed with the Civil Service [Pg 48] Commissioners against Wooldridge, which was taken up and the trial lasted nineteen sessions.
Detective Wooldridge was exonerated by the entire board of commissioners, and complimented by the press and public-spirited citizens. Detective Wooldridge secured four indictments against the above four men, which was returned by the Cook county grand jury May 25, Dean turned state's evidence and assisted the prosecution. Carson promoted and run eighteen different matrimonial agencies. He was arrested eighteen times. The next day after filing the suit he was arrested again, and was finally driven out of Chicago. Every political pressure was brought to bear, but to no avail. Ex-Chief of Police Francis O'Neill, in his annual report of , states that Detective Wooldridge accomplished more work in breaking up the get-rich-quick concerns in Chicago, in the year , than the whole Chicago police department had in its lifetime.
He did equally as much work, if not more, in the years of , and The day is never too long nor the night too dark for Detective Wooldridge to find time to succor or save a young girl who has gone wrong or strayed from the path of rectitude. Detective Wooldridge, without fear or favor, for many years inaugurated crusades and waged wars against the hosts of criminal enterprise. Whenever a man or concern could not show a "clear bill of health" he forced him to "disinfect, depart, or submit to the quarantine of the county jail.
By vigilance and hard work he succeeded in obtaining good results. Units, scores, and legions of fraudulent concerns have [Pg 49] been exposed and driven out of existence. Owners of others, anticipating exposure, did not wait, but closed their places and fled. Many headquarters of contraband schemes have been raided and their promoters arrested, fined, and forced to cease operations. During that time retributive justice has been visited upon countless heads that were devoted to devising criminal schemes. Detective Wooldridge permits no creed, color, religion or politics to interfere with him in his sworn duty.
He wants and exacts the truth, and a square deal for himself, and accords the same to his fellow men. He has never been known to wilfully persecute any man or to lie or strain a point to convict him, neither will he suffer the same to be done by any man if he can prevent it. The professional thief is the 'mugged grafter'; his photograph and Bertillon measurements are known and recorded. The world of graft is whereever known and unknown thieves or bribetakers congregate.
In the United States it is found mainly in the large cities, but its boundaries take in small county seats and even villages. A correct map of it is impossible, because in a great many places it is represented by [Pg 52] an unknown rather than by a known inhabitant, by a dishonest official or an unscrupulous and wary politician rather than a confessed thief, and the geographer is helpless until he can collect the facts, which may never come to light.
The most that one man can do is to make voyages of discovery, find out what he can and report upon his experiences to the general public. Within the last year or two it has become practically a synonym for a thief who filches public money and money of large enterprises. It has been so largely used in the public prints and periodicals, and more recently in books, that it has spread abroad; and London and Paris and Berlin, in referring to many American disclosures, adopt the word without any translation. So today no American word is better known either in this country or in Europe.
When men in office take a bribe and give away what does not belong to them, it is more than the double crime of extorting and stealing; it is treason. Graft is the worst form of despotism. It is a usurpation of government by the forces of crime. There have been many virtuous kings and honest feudal lords, but the despotism of graft never founded its rule upon a semblance of the moral law. Graft in its highest personification is the king of the American nation in political, commercial and social life.
Overlord of 80,, people in the greatest republic of history, commanding his tens of millions of dollars annually as tribute to graft in a million of his impersonations—was Solomon in all his glory to be compared with this? Nine states in the union of forty-five states recently have declared that graft exposures have not been in their categories of political publicity for a year.
But who shall say what another six months may bring forth? In industrial, commercial and social life of the American people there is not a state in which King Graft has not his court and his following. In the capital of capitals at Washington for generations the powers of government as dreamed of for the republic have been superseded by King Graft time after time, and the impeachment of his princes, grand dukes and courtiers generally have not threatened his reign in future generations.
Within the last few years names that have stood honored for a generation in financial, political and social life have been dragged down from high places perhaps as never before in America. The court of King Graft has been attacked and threatened as never before, and with greater showing.
There is war in the open against this pretender king, and his legions everywhere are retiring behind their breastworks, broken but not defeated. Graft in its nakedness, has been exposed and the people are aroused, fearing that the grafter has sucked the life blood of the republic.
What they have seen is but a glimpse of real conditions—the ulcer spots where the rottenness beneath has broken through—but they have seen enough to realize the peril and attack it. While the conditions revealed are astounding and alarming, they are signs of improvement. The nation is better than it was a decade ago, since tens of thousands of grafters have been stamped out, since the leaders of the greatest grafts of the land have been exposed to the withering light of contempt of all decent Americans.
Also, born of the conditions, there has arisen a little army [Pg 56] of leaders willing to engage the enemy and lead the people against the grafters. They have been raised up to meet the crisis of the nation's life, and with every blow they strike new recruits are joining them in the war against graft. They are still weak, and King Graft and his votaries are still strong, but during the last year the leaders have won some remarkable skirmishes and routed the grafters.
The Public stands at the crossing of the roads, wondering which way he shall go with his money. Wherever he turns he sees a grafter in the road before him. The labels on these seven grafters give the names of a few of those that beset every honest man's pathway. The grafters spend twenty million dollars a year advertising; and they swindle the people out of one hundred and sixty million dollars annually. Senators and congressmen at the national capital have been impeached, and indicted, and tried, and convicted of grafting. Bureau officials, as in the cotton scandal, the postoffice frauds, and other of the departments, and civil service exposes have been arraigned by their own democracy for traitor intrigues with King Graft, and have been beheaded.
State senators, representatives, treasurers and the innumerable "small fry" of official life, together with the millionaire briber and his henchmen at state capitals, have been uncovered and convicted of debauching democracy in behalf of a pretender sovereign. Great cities have been shaken with the inquisitorial rounds of investigations. Philadelphia of Independence memories has been weighed in the balance and found wanting; in St. Louis the prosecutor governor, Folk, has stirred corruption to the depths; New York has been moved as it has not been since the overthrow of Tammany; Minneapolis has been cleansed; and the spectacular "graft hunt" in Milwaukee has been a lesson in "how to do it.
But King Graft wears the crown of the pretender still, and there are few of his fighting enemies who are disposed to rest upon their arms in either truce or armistice. The war against graft is led by the president of the United States, who stands as the foremost foe of grafting—political, financial or social—in the world, and behind him is a phalanx led by Folk, Jerome, Riis, Lawson, Hadley, Miss Tarbell, Deneen, Monnett and others of their type, fighting the nation's most crucial battle.
The grafters have declared that the objects of some of these men were selfish, but, no matter for what object they fight, they are routing the grafters in many fields and showing to the awakening public the peril of the situation; revealing to a commonwealth the worms gnawing at the vitals of the republic. Never were the forces of money and commercial and industrial power so bewildered and so uncertain of the way to turn as they are now.
Graft, to their best interests, is still covertly a necessity to them, but covert graft never was so hard to keep covert, now that briber and the bribed are the common quarry of the law. The time was when the rich man who bought political power to his uses was unnamed, standing apart. The grafter legislator was the cause and the consequence. Beginning and ending with the corrupt official whose official place was grafted upon corruption, the official became immune from the consequences. But this false philosophy slowly was undermined. Not only was it found that graft did cost money to the state, but it became a certainty that it was costing something even more valuable than money.
Graft became the one object of the political seeker after office. The impersonal graft-giver was a hanger-on at lawmaking centers, and the political graft-seeker [Pg 58] was insisting upon election or appointment to the machine positions. The result, first, was a campaign upon the man who had the graft to dispense. He was sought out, and was found in high places.
His lobbyists were more easily marked than was the principal. So the law and the law's executive began also to campaign against the lobbyists. Suddenly the "good fellow" at a state capitol who had with him the perquisites of good fellowship in graft measure found himself facing the interrogation:. The scope of the query has grown, and it is still growing, in some quarters even to the point of requiring the man who is elected to office to render the cost figure of his successful campaign.
All over the country, and touching nearly every relation in official, commercial and financial life, men have been put on the griddle of publicity by courts and commissions, and with backs to the wall have been sitting in the witness chair, holding to the one surly response to an irritating, penetrating cross-examination: "Decline to answer on advice of counsel. Under the growing interrogations of the time, names have been thrown from pedestals within a year as names never before were juggled by the fates. Depew, once a candidate for nomination for the presidency, a United States senator still by some grace of toleration, and at one time referred to in European royal circles as a "representative American citizen.
Then followed a long list of the commercially and financially prominent civilians, blackened, and with such blackness as never to be white again by any of the old processes which once sufficed. Graft is still king. But, truer than of any other monarch, it may be repeated: "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. It was a rhetorical and sensational sentence in which a recent speaker in this city declared that the worst grafter is the man who does not vote.
But there is much more than a kernel of truth in the words. The citizens of a republic need constant stimulus to the fulfillment of the plainest duties of life. The better the working of the machinery of government, the less the average man is affected. He rarely feels the pressure of taxation. He lives in a generation from which no military service is demanded. He is permitted freedom of thought, speech and religion, and almost insensibly, as a result, [Pg 61] he loses sight of the supreme obligation which is due his country.
He forgets that that country, in time of public stress, may demand his time, his property and his life, drafting him for its armies if he does not wish to volunteer, governing him under martial law, which sets aside the usual privileges accorded him, and exercising over him, if need be, a tyranny ordinarily associated with despotism among the older peoples. The very fact that the American citizen does not often feel the exercise of the sovereign power, and is not called upon to pay the supreme obligation of service, makes him careless of his civic duties, when, it might be thought, he would feel the utmost gratitude for the privilege of living under such favoring conditions.
This carelessness becomes chronic, and there is abundant need for the constant reiteration of the call to duty. If, then, a citizen is content to enjoy the comforts and the quiet of American life without rendering any return therefor, he may justly be called a grafter, and a grafter of that worst sort, who robs his benefactor. For, with duty faithfully performed by the citizen, public opinion is readily shaped, laws quickly secure enforcement, and public servants are kept clean and true. It all comes back at last to the individual citizen, upon whom must rest the responsibility for failure or success of government.
It is easy enough to cry out against the grafter in official position who puts his hand into the public treasury. Perhaps, after all, the worst offender is the citizen who does not vote, who does not take a lively interest in the selection and election of his rulers, who fails to recognize the underlying obligation of service which his country has a just right to demand of him. But, thus far, only the beginning of the truth has been shown.
There remains the senate of the United States, the railway companies, the Standard Oil Company, the great trusts, the multimillionaires, to be investigated. All of them [Pg 62] now are in the limelight. The courts of law are under suspicion and must clear themselves by their acts, for undoubtedly the revelations of the last year have shaken the faith of the people in their judges.
After these, the huge powers of the land, cleansed states, counties and cities must join the Augean stable-cleaning, for graft is everywhere. The fight against graft is only beginning, and it will end only when a new generation learns that honor is above money, and that "grafting" is the most disreputable form of theft. A chain of stores in various cities for no other purpose than the obtaining of goods under false pretenses from wholesale merchants is the latest novelty in the swindling line.
It has often been remarked that the originators of plans to dupe the public might coin their brains into cash without nearly the draft upon their originality that is called for by the devising of a swindling game. But the criminal instinct or incentive seems to lay its hold upon persons who might otherwise fill a leading and respected place in honorable avocations.
The men who conceived the system of credit for goods to the value of many thousands of dollars, which they quickly disposed of in different cities by auction and attractive sales, closing up their stores and decamping when they had converted the credited stock into cash, were swindlers of unusual calibre. The police of several cities now have the task of unearthing the frauds and bringing them to justice. They may or may not succeed in so doing, as the scheme was craftily laid and carried out.
The ingenuity of these cormorants calls for constant readjustment of honest persons to the conditions [Pg 63] created. The lesson of the so-called bargain-house fraud will be conned, and for a long time to come it may be practically impossible for the same scheme to be worked again. But the feature of such enterprises is that they are designed only for the one operation. After that they become worthless to their originators. The readiness with which a good share of the people are always anxious to receive any new religion, or an old religion revamped in new fashion, makes the road of the charlatan whose trade is the promulgation of a fake religion one strewn with roses and money.
Women are principally his victims, although there are plenty of men with a penchant for adopting strange religions, and from them the faker manages to reap a harvest that makes the pay of the average minister look like the earnings of an office boy. While the manner of securing money through the cloak of a false new sect is generally so hidden that the votaries of the cult are never aware of its existence until after their leader is exposed, the main object is never lost sight of by the leader, and the main object is always, "Get the money.
Out of the great mass of religions or NEW THOUGHT sects started each year in this country, it is declared that but extremely few are started with any idea other than that of separating a lot of people from their money. Occasionally there is a man who sincerely believes that he has discovered something new and precious in the way of a religion, and establishes a cult with the motive only to help people according to his own lights. But the mass of the new religions, sun worshipers, psychists, Brahmins, Hindus, theosophists, mystics, [Pg 64] etc.
The financial yields of the new religions are incomparably higher than is the voodoo man's gain. His followers, who believe in black art and other foolish, old-fashioned things, are nearly always drawn from the poorer, even the indigent classes—classes that have but little to spend, even on a religion.
But the East Indian religionist, or the sun worshiper, draws his clientele from the better classes, and his followers have the money to reward him in a way that is astounding. He dabbles not with the poor—neither, it must be confessed, entirely with the ignorant. His victims come from the upper walks of life, sometimes from near the top, and their name is legion.
There is a Hindu who has now left this country to go back to spend the rest of his days in luxurious idleness, the while chuckling over the gullibility of the smart American people, who came here with a new religion and made a fortune. This man was an educated, cultured man of high caste. Sent at an early age to England to attend school, he returned to his native country at the age of 28, wise in the things of two worlds, that of his own and that of the occidentals.
For a while he buried himself in the native life of a loathsome colony of Fakers. There he learned much of their religious style by rote, and, putting this along with a smattering of Buddhism, psychology and sun worship, he managed to appear in America with a new religion, fairly reeking with the essentials required by those who want mysticism served along with their religious beliefs. He had a new god, a new heaven and forty different and distinct ways of torturing one's self while worshiping his deity.
He first held forth in a sumptuously furnished city flat, where he managed to draw to him a small gathering of the select who love to dabble in mysterious oriental affairs. The flat was a dream in itself, and when to it was added a tall, ascetic young Hindu, with the look of the fanatic burning brightly in his eyes, and mystic rites of a religious nature, the effect was irresistible; at least it proved to be to those foregathered under the tutelage of the young oriental.
There were incense burnings and incantations galore. At first these things did not cost anything. The young mystic was simply working for the enlightenment of the world, working to spread light into the stygian darkness of the old and false dogmas and creeds. After those who flocked to his standard had been so thoroughly imbued with the sincerity of his teachings that his word was law to them, the money question came to the fore.
He, the missionary, wanted nothing for himself—oh, no. But there was need for funds for the establishment of the cult in India. A school and home must be founded for the young devotees of the new religion in that country, a place where they could go and live and be trained in the tenets of the creed and prepared to go out in the world and teach.
And it was for this that the Hindu had come to this country, to permit the chosen ones here to acquirement with the new deity by subscribing to the school fund. Since the beginning of things, when man first beheld the sun and bowed humbly before it, it has been the custom to heap offerings on the altar of worship. So the Hindu went back with funds enough to start half a dozen schools if he had been at all inclined that way, which he wasn't, and [Pg 66] the people who were his followers are still living in the hope that he will return.
Then there is another kind of charlatan, the American fake religionist, of which, perhaps, there are just as many as of the foreigners with the weird doctrines of the orient. This type of faker is coarse compared with the soft-shod, incense-burning Hindu, but he "gets the money" without much trouble. He is generally a ranter as far as preaching goes. His methods are those of the shouter, his religion includes visitation of spirits, shaking of bodies and other manifestations of divine power.
He boldly asks for contributions, not for a school to be established for the training of missionaries for his faith, but for the furtherance of his own work right here in this country. The stronghold of the religious faker is that the people who follow him believe in him implicitly. One faker recently proclaimed himself the son of God, come to revisit earth, and, when assailed by a paper for it, stood up in an audience of his believers and asked them who they thought him to be and how they regarded him. The answer was that he was the son of God, and his mission was to save all mankind from sin.
It is obvious that, when a man with such a hold on a clique asks for money, it is sure to be forthcoming without question. At times he does not have to ask for it, one man of this kind having had money showered upon him at a meeting by the hysterical women of his flock. This man has operated in at least four sections of this country, has served a term in state's prison for alienating a wife's affections along with the husband's money, has been driven out of two towns by angry husbands; but now he is again in possession of a following which believes implicitly [Pg 68] that through him, and through him only, is it possible to obtain eternal salvation.
In appearance this man is a human shark, long-faced, thin of jaw and nose, and with a mouth that is nothing but a straight line cut in the face. In repose he might be taken for a shyster lawyer, but when he begins to speak and the artificial frenzy is burning in him it is easy enough to see why impressionable women may be drawn to him.
Even a strong-willed man, observing his actions and the degree of enthusiasm in him, is apt to feel that he can be nothing other than sincere in his beliefs. But, if he is sincere, his sincerity runs only towards making of his beliefs a good business proposition, and avarice is one of his strongest points. The persistency with which women will take up and practice the cruelest of religious customs is evidenced by the manner in which a Chicago girl tortured and starved herself to death in an effort to obtain salvation through the mortification of the flesh.
She was not of an ignorant type, either, as might be imagined, but fairly well educated and extremely intelligent, with running to intellectuality. Harold resolves to learn every European language from now onwards. Poirot is asked for assistance by a young lady, Diana Maberly. She was engaged to marry Hugh Chandler for over a year but he has broken it off as he thinks he is going mad.
There is a history of insanity in the family, with his grandfather and a great aunt being afflicted, and his father, Admiral Chandler, has insisted his son leave the Navy before his condition gets worse but the reason was hidden under the pretext of having to manage the family country estate — a reason no one believed, including Colonel Frobisher, a family friend and Hugh's godfather.
At Poirot's prompting, Diana admits that there have been some unusual occurrences on nearby farms with the throats of sheep cut and the like but insists it has nothing to do with the situation. The Admiral refuses to let a doctor see his son. Poirot travels with Diana to the family seat of Lyde Manor where he meets the people involved. Hugh strikes Poirot as a fine young bull of a man. He learns further details of the history of insanity in the family from Colonel Frobisher, including Hugh's grandfather who was committed to an asylum.
Poirot learns that Hugh's mother died when he was ten years old in a boating accident when she was out with the Admiral, and that she was previously engaged to Frobisher before he went off to India with the British Army. When he came home he learned she had married Admiral Chandler, however this incident did nothing to lessen the ties of friendship between the two men. Poirot forces Frobisher to tell him more details of the incident with the sheep and finds out that on the night concerned, the Admiral found his son in bed with blood on his clothes and blood in the washbasin but Hugh remembered nothing of what he had done.
Poirot questions the Admiral who has aged immensely since these incidents started and who feels that breaking the engagement is best for everyone, remarking that there will be no more Chandlers at Lyde Manor after he and his son have died. In questioning Hugh, Poirot hears of his dreams which always seem to include elements of hydrophobia. He also suffers from hallucinations and has one while speaking to Poirot of seeing a skeletal figure in the garden. Poirot however is convinced that Hugh is sane and begins his investigations, asking Diana to arrange for him to spend the night in the manor.
He searches Hugh's room and also makes a trip to a local chemist, supposedly to pick up a toothbrush. That night, Hugh somehow manages to get out of his locked room and is found outside Diana's room, a bloodied knife in his hands from having killed a cat. Hugh recovers consciousness and tells the others he intends to go out shooting rabbits.
It is clear that his real intention is to commit suicide in the woods with a shotgun and therefore save himself and the others further pain. Poirot stops him and tells them all that Hugh is being set up to commit suicide. He is being poisoned with Datura. The alkaloid produces hallucinations and causes great thirst. It is being given to Hugh as part of his shaving cream and thereby continually entering his system with each day's application.
Poirot took a sample to the chemist for testing. As to who is responsible Poirot reveals that Admiral Chandler has inherited the insanity of his family but Hugh is not his biological son. Hugh is the natural son of Colonel Frobisher who had an affair with Mrs Chandler before he went to India.
The Admiral recognised the resemblance in his son to his friend and learned the truth from his wife before she died in that curious "boating accident". He blocked Hugh from seeing a doctor who would have confirmed his sanity. Hearing this explanation from Poirot of the facts of the case, the Admiral, who is now described in the narrative as "the last of the Chandlers", briefly speaks a pro forma denial.
He takes the shotgun and states that he is going rabbit shooting. He is last seen entering the woods with the gun, and a shot is fired. One night, Poirot is telephoned for help by a young medical acquaintance, Dr Michael Stoddart. Going to the address given to him, Poirot finds Stoddart in the flat of Mrs. Patience Grace, where a debauched party was ending, including use of cocaine. Stoddart had been summoned after Mrs Grace had an argument with her boyfriend, Anthony Hawker; she tried to shoot him as he left the flat, and inflicted a flesh wound on a passing tramp.
Stoddart patched up the tramp who has accepted a pay-off. Stoddart's concern is for Sheila Grant, whom he met at a hunt ball in the country. Sheila was at the party, is still at the flat having just woken up and is feeling terrible after the high of the drugs. She is one of four daughters of a retired general and there is every sign that Sheila and her sisters are going wild, getting into a bad set where the cocaine flows freely. Stoddart lectures her about the cocaine and Poirot introduces himself. It is obvious that Sheila has heard of him and is nervous of him. Poirot compares drug-peddling to feeding on human flesh in his mind, like the horses of Diomedes, who were fed on human flesh.
Poirot visits Mertonshire, where an old friend, Lady Carmichael, gives him details of the Grant family. All the girls are going to the bad as their father cannot control them. They keep company with Hawker, who has an unpleasant reputation, as does another of his 'lady friends', Mrs Larkin. Lady Carmichael is thrilled to think that Poirot has visited to investigate some special crime but the detective tells her he is simply there to tame four wild horses.
He visits General Grant whose house is filled with artifacts from India. Poirot breaks the news of the drugs and listens to the old man's cries of anger and sworn threats against whoever is getting his girls into trouble. Leaving the room, Poirot clumsily trips against his host. Poirot gets himself invited to a party at Mrs Larkin's home where he meets Sheila's sister Pamela. Hawker arrives with Sheila in tow, having just come from a hunt, wanting to fill up his liquor flask. Sheila has heard from one of the house servants that Poirot visited her father the day before.
He tells her of the threat she is under from her drug taking; as he leaves he hears Pam whisper to Sheila about the flask. Poirot sees the abandoned flask and finds it full of white powder. Some time later, back at Lady Carmichael's, Poirot tells Sheila that her photograph has been identified by the police. Her real name is Sheila Kelly; the four girls are not the daughters of General Grant, who is not a general, but head of a drugs ring; the four young women push the drugs for him. He tells an astonished Michael that the "General" overdid his act, as gout is usually suffered by very old men, not the middle-aged fathers of young women.
When Poirot tripped deliberately, he bumped Grant's "gouty" foot, but Grant did not notice. Hawker was not a pusher of drugs but a user; Pam and Sheila were trying to frame him on Grant's orders with the flask of cocaine. Poirot persuades Sheila to give evidence against Grant and thereby smash the ring. By doing so she will copy the horses of the legend, who became normal after Hercules fed their master to them. Poirot tells an embarrassed Stoddart that Sheila is certain to lose her criminal tendencies with him to look after her.
Alexander Simpson asks Poirot to help in the investigation of a painting by Rubens which was stolen from the gallery that he owns. A group of unemployed men were paid to carry out a demonstration in the gallery which, once it was cleared by the police, was found to have been a diversion to enable the picture to be cut out of its frame. Simpson knows the picture is being transported to France where it will be bought by a millionaire collector and he wants Poirot to assist as he thinks he will be better at dealing with an unscrupulous rich man than the police will be. Poirot reluctantly agrees to help.
He is far more interested in a case that Japp has about Winnie King, a fifteen-year-old English girl who was being escorted to Paris as one of a party of such girls for the new term at Miss Pope's exclusive school there. On the way back from the dining car of the train, just after it left Amiens the last stop before Paris , Winnie King went into the toilet and seemingly vanished.
No body has been found by the side of the tracks and the train made no other stops, only slowing down for a signal; however, Winnie's hat was later recovered near the tracks. Poirot asks if her shoes have been found. Some time later, Japp phones Poirot and tells him Winnie has been found about fifteen miles from Amiens. She is in a daze, has been doped according to the doctor who examined her, and is unable to remember much after setting off from her home town of Cranchester. Despite the girl being found, Poirot speaks with Detective Inspector Hearn, who has been dealing with the case and is no nearer to solving the mystery of how the girl disappeared.
The only other people in the carriage seemed clear of suspicion — two middle-aged spinsters, two French commercial travellers from Lyon, a young man called James Elliot and his flashy wife, and an American lady about whom very little is known. He is able to confirm that Winnie's shoes were found by the rail line which confirms Poirot's theory. Poirot goes to France and visits Miss Pope's establishment at Neuilly.
The formidable headmistress tells Poirot of the advantages of her school being close to the music and culture of Paris. He hears how two sets of Parisian police asked to search through Winnie's trunk, neither seemingly having spoken to the other, and sees a badly painted picture in oils depicting the bridge at Cranchester, executed by Winnie as a present for Miss Pope. In front of the startled woman, Poirot begins to scrub the picture with turpentine whilst telling her that Winnie never made the trip across to France.
Miss Burshaw met a girl in London whom she had never seen before, and who then totally changed her appearance in the toilette on the train, discarding the schoolgirl hat and shoes through the window and transforming herself into the flashy wife of James Elliot. At the same time, Poirot has stripped away Winnie's "dreadful" painting to expose a second one beneath it: the Girdle of Hippolyta, the missing Rubens masterpiece. The thieves smuggled the painting in an escorted schoolgirl's trunk, knowing such a thing would never be searched by customs, and one of the gang then threw off her disguise of a plain schoolgirl.
Other members of the gang, disguised as policemen, could search the trunk later and retrieve the painting. They did not know that Miss Pope, who insisted on trunks being unpacked upon arrival, would find the "present" and take possession of it immediately. When Poirot leaves, the girls swarm around him asking for his autograph which Poirot refers to as the attack by the Amazons.
Poirot is reacquainted with Miss Carnaby, the companion from the episode of the Nemean Lion, whom Poirot praises as one of the most successful criminals he has ever met. She is worried as she constantly thinks of illegal schemes which she is sure would work and she fears she is turning into a hardened criminal. She wants to put her talents to good use and assist Poirot in fighting crime in any way she can. She also has brought to him a possible case in which she can prove herself. She has a friend, Mrs Emmeline Clegg, a widow who is comfortably off.
In her loneliness, Mrs Clegg has found comfort in a religious sect called "The Flock of the Shepherd", based in a retreat in Devon. Their leader, Dr Andersen, is a handsome, charismatic man. Mrs Clegg has made a will leaving all of her property to the Flock.
Miss Carnaby is especially concerned as she knows of three women in a similar situation who have all died within the past year. She has investigated and found nothing unusual in the deaths, all of which were due to natural causes and none of them happened within the sanctuary but at the deceased's homes. Poirot asks Miss Carnaby to infiltrate the sect. She is to pretend to be dismissive of them and then, once within the sanctuary, be persuaded to be a convert. Poirot consults Japp.
The Scotland Yard detective finds out that Andersen is a German chemist, expelled from a university there by the Nazis because he had a Jewish mother and that there is nothing suspicious about the deaths of the women whose names have been supplied by Miss Carnaby. Nevertheless, Poirot views Andersen as the monster Geryon whom he is determined to destroy.
At the service, she is dismissive of the liturgy but suddenly feels a needle-prick in her arm.
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Almost instantly she starts to experience a feeling of well-being and euphoria which makes her sleep for a short while. Poirot instructs her to tell Andersen that she is going to come into a large sum of money that she will leave to the Flock, that she has problems with her lungs, and that Mrs Clegg will soon inherit a large sum from an aunt, more than her present estate.
Poirot also asks if she has met a Mr Cole at the sanctuary. Miss Carnaby has and to her he is a very strange man. As if to prove her assertion correct, soon afterwards Mr Cole accosts Miss Carnaby with tales of his strange visions which involve sacrifices, Jehovah , and even Odin. She is saved from further strange tales by the arrival of Mr Lipscombe, the lodge-keeper of the Devonshire estate. The day before the next divine service, Miss Carnaby meets Poirot in a local teashop.
She seems to have had an about-face and tells Poirot that Andersen is a great man and that she cannot betray him. She rushes out of the shop and Poirot sees that a surly-looking man has been listening into their conversation. The next service is proceeding and Miss Carnaby is about to be injected again when Mr Cole steps in.
There is a fight and the police pour into the room. Later the parties confer. The man in the teashop was Mr Lipscombe and when Miss Carnaby recognised him, she put on an act of allegiance to Andersen. Poirot realised this when he had the man followed back to the lodge. Andersen's chemistry background although he was probably not a Jewish refugee came in useful for preparing injections of hashish to produce ecstasy in his adherents, and also for injecting them with relevant bacteria when he wanted to kill them and inherit their estates.
Andersen was about to inject Miss Carnaby with tuberculosis bacteria to tie in with the fictional ailment she told him about. The proof has been obtained in the laboratory in the sanctuary that the police have raided. Poirot receives a visit from Emery Power, a rich art collector of Irish birth.
Ten years ago he purchased at auction a gold goblet which was supposedly made for Pope Alexander VI by Benvenuto Cellini , which the Borgia Pope used to poison his victims. The design of the goblet is a coiled serpent, surrounding a tree bearing apples represented by emeralds. Poirot is immediately interested at the mention of apples. Power paid a sum equal to thirty thousand pounds to buy it at auction in , but on the night of the sale the goblet and other items were stolen from the home of the seller, the Marchese di San Veratrino.
The police at the time were certain that a gang of three international thieves were responsible. Two of the men were captured and some of the stolen items recovered but the goblet was not among them. A third man, an Irish cat burglar called Patrick Casey, died soon afterwards when he fell from a building attempting another crime. Power has spent ten years and a lot of money trying to locate the goblet but without success.
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The Marchese has offered to refund his money but Power does not want to take advantage of this offer as he would no longer be the legal owner of the goblet should it be found. He had suspected that the real criminal was Sir Reuben Rosenthal, who was his rival bidder at the auction in , but they recently become business allies and Power is now convinced Rosenthal is innocent.
Poirot takes up the commission and interviews the detective on the case — Inspector Wagstaffe — about the suspects. Patrick Casey's wife, a strict Catholic, is dead. His daughter is a nun in a convent and his son, who took after his father, is in jail in the United States. There are many leads connected with the gang which stretch all over the world and Poirot sets his inquiries in motion. Three months later Poirot goes to visit the convent Casey's daughter entered, in a remote part of the western coast of Ireland. He discovers that she had died two months earlier. Poirot makes the acquaintance of one of the locals who helps him break into the convent — where he recovers the goblet.
He returns it to Power and tells him that the nuns were using it as a chalice. Casey's daughter probably took it there to atone for her father's sins and the nuns were ignorant of its ownership and ancient history. Poirot deduced it would be at the convent as there had been no trace of anyone having the goblet after it was stolen. Therefore, it was somewhere where "ordinary material values did not apply". The mention of Casey's daughter being a nun supplied the obvious place. Poirot shows Power how, during the Renaissance, the Pope used a hidden mechanism in the goblet to put the poison in the victim's drink.
Poirot suggests no good will come out of owning an object with such an evil history. If it is given back to the convent, the nuns will say masses for Power's soul. He reminds Power of his boyhood in western Ireland. Power agrees; he has got what he wants, which was to own the goblet. Poirot returns the goblet to the convent as the gift of a man so unhappy he does not know he is unhappy. Poirot is leaving the London Underground at Piccadilly Circus when he passes an old acquaintance, the Countess Vera Rossakoff, on the escalators, going in the opposite direction.
She insists that they meet and when asked to suggest a place, responds "In Hell …"! Poirot is puzzled but it is the unflappable Miss Lemon who coolly informs him it is the name of a new London nightclub and books him a table for that night. The club is in a basement and is decorated in styles of hell as represented by different cultures. It even has a large black, vicious-looking hound at the entrance called Cerberus. Rossakoff introduces him to Professor Liskeard who advised her on the decorations although he is ashamed of the gaudy results , and to Dr Alice Cunningham, a practitioner of psychology who is engaged to Rossakoff's son, currently working in America.
Alice and Poirot do not get along. She is coldly interested in criminal tendencies and finds Rossakoff's kleptomania interesting, but to Poirot's chagrin, she does not seem at all interested in the legendary detective! His questioning of her manner of dress with her heavy coat and pocketed skirt instead of a more feminine style of clothing does not go down well. However, Alice does find an individual called Paul Varesco fascinating.
He is a good-looking lounge lizard with a very dubious reputation and she spends time dancing with him, questioning him incessantly about incidents in his childhood which could have contributed to his personality. Poirot recognises a young Scotland Yard detective in the crowd in evening dress and feels that something is going on Seeing Japp the next day, Poirot's suspicions are confirmed.
The club is being watched by the police as they have linked it to a dope ring. They cannot trace the person who put up the money to buy the club but they do know the dope is being paid for by jewellery. Rich ladies swap their stones for paste imitations and drugs, later denying they knew of the substitution when they contact the police and their insurance companies. Scotland Yard have traced the work done on the jewels to a company called Golconda, and from there to Paul Varesco. Under the guise of picking up a wanted murderer, the police raided the club but were unable to find any jewels or dope secreted in the club or on anyone there, particularly Varesco.
Poirot questions Rossakoff about the true owner of the club. She denies that anyone else is the owner, but she is horrified to be told of its dope connection. Japp tells Poirot of another plan to raid the club and Poirot makes his own arrangements. On the night of the raid, Poirot stations a small man called Higgs outside the club. The morning after the raid, Japp phones Poirot to tell him they found jewels in the pocket of Professor Liskeard but he has been set up. However no dope was discovered so someone must have removed it from the club.
Poirot tells the astonished Japp that he was responsible, and then puts the phone down. Rossakoff arrives at Poirot's flat. She happily confesses to Poirot that she put the jewels in the professor's pocket as she had found them in her own bag when the raid started, and so she had to get rid of them as quickly as she could. It was Varesco who planted them on her and she admits that he is the true owner of the premises.
Poirot takes her into the next room where Higgs and Cerberus are waiting. Higgs can handle any dog and took the otherwise fierce animal out during the raid. Poirot asks Rossakoff to order the obedient dog to drop what it is holding in its mouth and it does so. A small sealed packet of cocaine drops to the ground. A shocked Rossakoff loudly proclaims her innocence and Poirot says he believes her — the true criminal is Alice who is in league with Verasco. She carried the drugs in her large skirt pockets and dropped them into her clients' pockets on the dance floor.
When the raid occurred and the lights went out temporarily, Poirot was waiting by Cerberus and heard her put the packet in the dog's mouth — and Poirot took the opportunity to cut off a sample of cloth from her sleeve as proof. No review of this book appeared in the Times Literary Supplement. Maurice Richardson, in the 5 October issue of The Observer wrote briefly, "the Queen of Crime tries the difficult, unrewarding sprint form. The Labours of Hercules consists of twelve Poirot cases, neatly constructed but inevitably lacking the criss-cross of red-herring trails that make our arteries pulse over the full distance.
But will Agatha Christie allow the little egg-headed egomaniac to carry out his frightful threat of retirement? As the old-timer tackled the 12 classical labors Christie turns her dapper sleuth loose on 12 modern counterparts in the detection-mystery line. A tricky task, neatly done. Robert Barnard : "Probably the best single short-story collection, because more varied in its problems and lighter in its touch than usual. Lots of tricks from her novels, and other people's used very skilfully.
But the mention of the goblet made by Cellini for Alexander VI before the age of three? The plots of "Deer" and "Birds" are also included fairly faithfully, while only elements from the others are present. Minor elements of The Nemean Lion , The Augean Stables and The Lemesurier Inheritance , the only Poirot short story not previously adapted by the series, are also included in this adaptation. Unlike in the novel, the titular Labours are not undertaken by Poirot as cases, but rather refer to a series of paintings that are stolen by Marrascaud, the main villain; the title is also symbolic of Poirot's path to redemption after his plan to snare Marrascaud leads to the senseless murder of an innocent girl, Lucinda LeMesurier.
The most significant departure from the source material is the change in Marrascaud's identity, the only time when the identity of the murderer has been changed throughout the series; [ citation needed ] in the book it is Gustave who is Marrascaud, but in the adaptation it is Alice Cunningham who is changed not to be Rossakoff's daughter-in-law, but a biological daughter , with Gustave being her accomplice, along with Dr Lutz.
The adaptation marks the second and final appearance of Countess Vera Rossakoff in this series, played here by Orla Brady. Filming for this episode took place in April and May and was directed by Andy Wilson , who also directed Death on the Nile and Taken at the Flood for the series. The location in this adaptation, a Swiss hotel called "Hotel Olympos", was shot in Halton House in Aylesbury , however the bedrooms were built at Pinewood studios.