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KING OF THE SLEUTHS
__ R. WILLIAM A. PINKER #T "1 TOX was engaged in his pri f if vate office. I f One of the several clerks i fn his outer office gaye. me % this information with a chair. The others did not lift their eyes from their ledgers or typewriters or memoranda or whatever occupied them at the moment of my entering the room. ,-f It was a very handsome and spacious THE CALL SUNDAY Sunday Edition room, one of a suite on the second floor of the Crocker building. I could read backward the gilt letters on the great arched windows which announced to the world without that this was an of fice of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, founded by Allan W. Pinkerton in the year 1S50; that Its other offices were in New York, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, St. Paul and Kansas City, "Portland, Oregon, and a few other places; that its correspondents were in all parts of the world; that its Principals were Robert A. Pinkerton and William A. Pinker ton—sons of that famous Pinkerton the first, whose pictured face, of the grim, strong, granger type, high-boned, keen eyed, clean-shaven to the beard beneath the chin, hung on the west wall of the room. Oppo site hung the portrait of a young and a very different looking man, and this, although I did nr»t know it then, was William A. Pinkerton, his son. Beneath a windc/w stood the man ager's desk, and before it stood the manager. He was running busily through some papers in his hand. There was no sound In the place except the rustling of these papers, the scratching of pens, the tap-tap-tapping of type writers, the light footfall, the subdued tones of a 'clerk who left his desk to consult with his superior and returned quietly as he came. There is an office stillness eloquent above words of the Importance of vast businesses. It belongs exclusively to them. It is a quiet distinct and apart from silence imposed on employes by the starchiest of small shoppers and little professionals. It is the actual dig nity of the big enterprise which com municates itself, perhaps without his consciousness, to the least who serves its needs. You are impressed, solemnized by this atmosphere at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. It is as respectable as a bank. bomehow you do not expect this. There is no reason why you should not There is no- real reason why you should respect the detective less than the criminal lawyer. If you are handling crime what difference does it make whether you pick it up by the head or the tail? If you are stalking the crimi nal what difference does it make whether you run him into jail or onto the gallows? Only it is not the real but the imaginary differences which are of the greatest importance in this world and half the accepted facts in life are standing without a,ny legs under them. Society, which is more particular than Just, admits the detective to her fearful need. And so, for the matter of that, she doea the hangman. But she does not concede either of them to be quite respectable. She sets the detective at the stalking of her crimes and makes it nip and tuck and toss a coin between the hunter and his quarry. It is only when her relatives are found mysteri ously murdered in their beds or her family plate and jewels are taken from beneath her pillow while she sleeps that she seeks to know what manner of man he is. and then she goes about it as if she were pawning her watch. For myself, I never before thought of the office side of detective work. I have pictured the ferret of the law ever in the act of ferreting. He has coursed through my mind hot on the trail of crime, disguised beyond recognition by his own mother, schemes in his head, handcuffs in his pocket, Bix-shootera under his duster, transacting such busi ness as he might have to transact other than pursuit in the dark hallways of low lodging-houses, the skulking back chambers of little evil inns. After this ingenuous confession It Is superlluous to say that I read the elder Pinkerton faithfully in my youth— without the knowledge of fond but un romantic parents— and if the portly, dressy, prosperous, comfortable man who now opens the door of Mr. William A. Pinkerton's private office and waves me cordially to enter in is not the old sleuth of many a dear and troubled dream it is through no fault of his father. No, nor of Mr. Nick Carter's neither. He is of great breadth as well as height, Mr. William A. Pinkerton, a man of quite unusual size, with a rather heavy, string- featured face, a good brow, deep-set eyes, one of which is gray-brown and the other brown-gray, so that the difference is quite notice able as he sits facing the light, a full, dark mustache and a sporty taste in clothes. His invisible check suit was cut by a good tailor, his linen is fine and his gray silk tie admirably in sea son. He wears a superb emerald and diamond ring on his left hand, a fine sapph're in his shirt bosom, elaborate link? of cats' eyes set with diamonds in his cuffs and a gold and Jeweled dagger, sheathed, which may be a pencil, or a toothpick, or a cigar cutter, or a court-plaster «ase, or a mere watch charm, dangling from a chain, but whatever it is it is large enough to be seen. His manner is easy, natural, dignified and modestly reserved — all agreeable ciiar acteristics of a manner, even when con sidered separately — altogether irresist ible when taken in a lump. I decide that I shall like Mr. William A. Pin kerton very much, in spite of his jew elry, of which I am naturally a little envious, but of course I can never love him as I loved his father. One of the old books, bound in red, pictured outwardly with the great gilt eye and the motto, "We Never Sleep," lies on the son's table. I pat it in lov ing recollection. "I have read them all," I said. "I think I should like to read at least one of them again." "Yes?" replies Mr. Pinkerton, coldly. OPTHE BY ALICE RIX "We do not approve of them, you know." "You do not approve of your father's books?" "Of what I might call detective liter ature," he replied. "We believe it hurts the dignity of the profession. It creates an entirely false impression concerning it and exerts a bad influ ence on young mincls." Mr. Pinkerton passed a strong: hand, on which the handsome emerald glowed greenly, across his brow. "My father's name has been used," he continued, "by a number of unscru pulous men to sell books which were in every sense unreliable and perni cious. The name is, of course, widely known, and we endeavored to bring persons who were trading on it to Jus tice, but on questioning several firms which sold the so-called Pinkerton books -we found they had purchased the right to use the name Pinkerton from some obscure newspaper man in the South. He may be a Pinkerton as he claims to be, but we never heard of him." Mr. Plnkerton paused. "You se<-," he went on gravely, "we have extended the business greatly since my father's death and it is carried on now on prin ciples that I am sure he would apjrove, but which were not possible In his time. We are now a very large con cern, with offices in the principal Amer ican cities, and correspondents every where. We particularly dislike and avoid anything approaching sensation alism. We handle no scandals. We accept no family cases." "Family cashes?" "Divorces and such matters. Whon a divorce case requires detective work it argues scandalous details. We do not care to lend our name to histories of that nature. We are practically the agents in our line of all the large banks, mercantile houses and Jewelers' establishments in America. Our busi ness is almost exclusively in, that di rection. We do the work [ of three thousand banks alone." "That, of course, means big bank robberies 3" "Robberies, forgeries, confidence games and," Mr. Plnkerton smiled, "preventing them. I presume you have heard of the Jewelers' Protective As sociation? No? Well, that was formed for the protection of traveling men — traveling for large jewelry houses, you understand. They used to be the great est sufferers from hotel and railway thieves. You see a jewelry drummer has his fortune, or a good bit belonging to his firm, in his trunk or whatever baggage he carries— all the way from five hundred to twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of stock. The minute he takes his eye or his hand off his bag gage he's running a risk. Well! they used to be robbed right and left. So all the big Jewelry houses entered into a Protective Association with us. The firms pay an initial fee and every dfum mer has to belong and pay his fee; then if he's robbed on the road he imme diately notifies our nearest agent and we act under instructions from that office, so that there's a hand out every where for that jewelry thief. Luck went with us from the first. We got the men and the jewelry the first three cases running. Then of course the word got round that it wasn't a safe lead, and now a jewelry drummer's pretty seoure. When you hear of one being robbed to-day you can be pretty sure It's the work of an amateur. Reg ulars don't want to touch it. That's what I meant when I said we prevented crime. The success of this work led to the establishment of the Jewelers' Se curity Alliance. That is about the" same thing for the protection of Jew elers'^ safes. You see, a Jeweler's capi tal is in his safe. Then there's the American Bankers' Union. They're all on the same order and all In our hands. We've *een wonderfully successful. We lose some few cases, but we usually get both the men and the property." "Which do you want to get most?" I asked out of a desire to know. "We want the men," replied Mr. Pin SAN FRANCISCO, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1898. kerton promptly, "and the owner wants his property." So the spirit of the chase is in it still, after all. "Luck's been with us a good deal," he went on reflectively, "and luck is nearly everything in this business." "And, I suppose, experience is some thing, and, in your case, perhaps he redity?" "Training more than heredity. Luck and training make a good detective." "How many years of training did you have?" "Well, I went into the secret service of the United States Army under my father," said the son of the famous first, "and I was fifteen then. I served through the war, and then I went to school. Not for long, though. Then I got back Into the office again and I've been there ever since and I'm still training. You are always learning something in any game you play with men. I tell my new men that. The new ones are always the sure ones, you know. We train our own men. We don't want any botching to pick out and do over, and we don't want the tramp detective who goes from office to office exchanging methods. We'd rather begin with them and teach them Btting, shadowing and roping. Those the three Rs of this business. You •W what they mean, don't j«du?" Well, spotting and shadowing, yes. But roping?" "That's getting their confidence — some offices call it worming." "Oh! And is it hard business to learn, •you think?" No harder than any other if you c your mind to it. You've got to c a mind though to go with it. And yet every man you meet thinks he'd make a good detective. Have you ever noticed that? We're simply besieged with suggestions from amateurs when ever we have a big case on. And wo men! Do you know lots of women are crazy to go into this business? You'd be surprised at the number of applica tions I get from women in private life. Crazy over the idea! What do you suppose it is?" "I don't know. The roping, perhaps, appeals to the feminine nature." "Well, it's anything but feminine work, I can tell you. Some women are smart at it, but I won't employ them on principle. I don't want to have anything to do with unsexing women. I like them just as they were made, good and womanly. If they're that they're no good as detectives. And if they're successful detectives they're no good as women. There are plenty of bright men in the world who can do that work. Of course, as I said, a man has got to have brains, because the business is half management, which will come to a bright men with a little training, and half luck — more than half luck. Why! I have been wonderfully successful in the business and I can see where nearly all of it was luck. Time and again I've had men I've been looking for walk right Into my arms and I pledge you my word if I'd had to look for them I wouldn't have known where to look for them. I've run across a man one day — some suspicious char acter I mean — and taken a few notes on- him on general principle and had a demand for that man perhaps be fore the week was out. I was in the Louisville (Kentucky) Jail once, and happened to notice a couple of pretty hard cases in for some kind of bank work, and meeting these men in Lon don, England, several years afterward I put the London authorities on to them, and when I got back to New York I sent over their pictures to the London office. Right after that came the discovery of the frauds on the Bank of England, and the English po lice picked those two gentlemen right out of Piccadilly, where they were liv ing in style on the Bank of England's money. It was nothing but luck my meeting them in London, wasn't it? And it was nothing but luck that I remem bered them. Then there was that train robbery, when Kellogg Nichols, the ex press messenger for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, was killed. I went into the dressing-room of the car to wash my hands and I found the scrap of paper that led to the identification of the man who did the killing and robbing. Now it was luck that took me into that room, wasn't it?" "And how about the rest of it?" "Well, training," said Mr. Pinkerton modestly. "You don't think, then, that people are born to it, like Sherlc-ck Holmes?" "Ha-ha!" laughed Mr. Pinkerton. "He's a great one, isn't he?" "Is he, really?" "For a book he is," said Mr. Pinker ton. "He'd make a terrible lot of trouble in the business, though. It's all made possible, you know — perfectly possible — in the book — cmly things don't happen that way in life. Some of it is probable, too — his finding things, for in stance, where there didn't seem to be anything to find. I traced a big rob bery once through three hairs from a horse. That's so! A horse had been seen tied in the woods, but he was blanketed down to his hocks and the snow had fallen thick all over his tracks and nobody saw him ridden off. I found two bay hairs and a long black ' one sticking to a twig, and I put him up for a bay horse with black points, and I set out to look for a horse like that and a man that owned him or rode him, and I landed my man. CNow that was a great piece of luck, finding that horse hair, wasn't it?" "Great!" I said, laughing. "That's what it was," said Mr. Pin kerton, "and things have happened that way often to help along' a case for me." "What Is the most interesting piece of luck that ever happened to you?" "Finding that scrap of paper in the Nichols case," replied Mr. Pinkerton promptly. "That's my pet case. I was greatly interested in those Bank of England frauds, too." "And the big strikes, when the Pin* kerton men were all disguised among the strikers, and ?" "No, thank you," replied Mr. Pinker ton. "We were too unpopular to make that an interesting recollection. There is a law now against that work, and I am not at all sorry. In Chicago during the riots over those anarchists — that was exciting enough! But it isn't the sort of thing you can go over. It was being In it that made it so stirring. We Continued on Page 2*.