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HOW REFORT/IED KING OF CROOKS
TRICKS WORST GANG IN EUROPE By GEORGE BARTON “Father of Detectives” Eugene Francois Vidocq Becomes Member of the MoSt Desperate Paris Band Known to Crime Annals, Seemingly Immune from Police Interference and He Lands Entire Outfit. In Fearful Danger of Death Sleuth Masquerades as Denizen of the Un derworld, Joins Cracksmen and Leads Diem On— For cMonths He Is Believed Dead by cM. Henry, Prefect of Police at Paris, France. _ - _ (Bugewie Francos* Vldocq, who has been the Father of Detectives, was born *1 Arras, July 23, 1775, the son of a baker, fit; became In turn an acrobat with a traveling olrcus, a soldier in the French ,nnt' 1 vagabond, a forger and a con vict. He «u sent to the galleys for eight years but escaped and joined a band of highwaymen. He turned state's evidence on lomo of his companions and In 1S12 was made chief of the secret po lice (c>f Pari*, exemplifying the phrase ^«*t a thief to catch a thief." He was remarkably successful but Anally lost his place in 1325. He o|>ened a private detee H** agency and also published four vol ume* of his memoirs. He died in poverty In HE?.) M HENRY, the prefect of the Paris police, sat at his desk in his private office, his 0 face a picture of perplexity. He picked up a paper that lay before him and read it care fully tor the third time. It was an official report of a desperate robbery that had occurred in the heart of the French capital the night before. Moreover, it was one of many similar reports. There had been an epidemic of robberies and the police seemed powerless to stop then. M. Henry summoned M. Ber taux. famed as a cross-examiner of criminals, and M. Parisot, the gov ernor of prisons, and the three men talked long and earnestly but without coming to any conclusion. Presently O look of gratification overspread the countenance of M. Henry. He turned to his c-rtleagues. "Gentlemen, I have it.” I hat is it?” they called in chorus. "Be seated,” he responded, "and wait" They did as they were bid and the prefect touched a button. A messenger responded. "Tell Vidocq to come here at once," ■aid M. Henry. In a few minutes the door opened end a strong, well built man with square shoulders shambled into the room. He had gray hair, a thick nose, blue eyes, a smooth face and a per petual smile. He glanced about him In a furtive way and realized that he was in the presence of the triumvirate of talent that ruled the underworld of Paris He squared himself as a man would who was preparing to be on the defensive. But the first words of the prefect reassured him. "Vidocq, we need your assistance.” The bowed low. "M Henry, I am at your service ah eolutely." The prefect handed him the report., “Take that and read It carefully. It is one of many. The criminals are having a carnival. I want you to cap ture this gang. My regular police bave failed. They bring me only ex cuses; I wish you to bring me the prisoner Vidocq smiled that everlasting smile and bowAd again. "It shall be as you wish, M. Henry." He left the room with three bat leries of sharp eyes leveled at him. M. Bertaux shrugged his shoulders. “A quack doctor sent to caputre burglars." M. Parisot spread out his hands In disgust. “A showjnan’s clown, a potty thief on the detective force." M. Henry smiled blandly. "Gentlemen, you are not alone In your disapproval. Do you sen these peperw." pointing to a high pile on the aide of his desk, "these are all pro test* and complaints against the em ployment. of VJdocq. Some are from boueBt men; some from thieves. But be shall have hi? chance. His past Is behind him; hi , fti: jre In his own hands. I shall Judge blm solely by re suits ” II. Vldocq spent all morning In going over tfc* reports that, bad been placed in bl* bands. After that he returned to bin lodgings, and throwing himself am the bed lay awake all oi*lu <ie ^ f,,. .nw—r c % k. t TDOCQ r JXCTfZYJ ''7T1E7T U£> AMD ^JTCjQZrTJTD zyzztt (J7vnrzr? A vising a plan of campaign. When clay light arrived It was completely blocked out in his mind—not a detail was over looked. The first step was to discard his own personality and fake up that of another. It would have to be a thief. The honor of being Impersonated fell to one Germain, alias “the Captain." He was a fugitive galley slave. Vidocq had known him in the days—well. Iik the days before he became a detective. Germain had dark brown hair, that of Vidocq was light; he was thin, Vidocq was stout; his complexion was sallow, that of Vidocq was clear. Hut the re sourceful detective overcame all of these obstacles. Days were employed In perfecting the likeness. First he attained a seven days' growth of beard. Then he dyed his hair and beard black. By the generous use of white walnut liquor he attained a most unhealthy complexion. The original was a snuff fiend. Vidocq garnished his upper lip with a mixture of coffee grounds and gum arable. He made blisters on his feet by rubbing In a composition with which he was fa miliar. He made the marks of the fetterB on his ankles, and dressing i himself In a suitable garb was ready for his enterprise. Alter tret he became a regular fre quenter of the thieves’ dens of I’nris. Among so many little thieve* there wa* one big thief, ills name was Con stantine, a former fencing master, who, having run the gamut of dissipation, i had now reached the closing stages of i crime In his Ill-spent life, }|jg com ! panlons looked upon him as a man of | enterprise—bold in execution and on | all occasions posseting the most un blushing effrontery. The attention of the police i-ad been directed to him more than once, but they had never been able to secure the least scintilla of evidence agaln*t the man, Vldocq. knowing this, moved can tlously. He knew that a mlstep might mean his own life, for he was In the midst of desperate characters wno thought nothing of murder. He put on a sad face^ b.;moaned his own fats y i and bewailed the fact that he had no means of recouping his fallen for tunes. He became friendly with one of the intimates of Constantine, and that worthy, being piled with liquor, gave the detective full particulars of the habits of the big thief. They passed the night together, and before morning Vidocq knew all about the haunts of Constantine. On the following day he again net his voluble informant in the dance hall on the Faubourg St. Oerruain. He was quite excited. “Would you like to meet Constan tine.?” he asked Vidocq. "Most assuredly!” replied the detect ive. "Now is your time if you wlalj to speak to Constantine—he is here.'* Vldoeq only availed long annugh for the newcomer to be seated when he went up to him carelessly and said: “Would you kindly oblige me with a little tobacco from your box?” The famous thief looked the detect ive over from head to foot before re plying. After an embarrassing Inter val Constantine passed his tobacco box to Vidocq. Then he said abruptly: “You have been In the army?" The detective could have fallen to the floor. Had all of his carefully contrived disguise counted for noth Ing? Did Constantine know who he was? In any event' It would serve his Interest to answer the question truth fully. So with protended nonchalance he said: Why, yes; how did you know It?” “Simply because no man ran con ceal It. Once In the army you carry the badge of It with you through life, In your ws/k, In your shoulders. In your talk. In your manner*." Vidocq laughed uproariously, as If he considered this a good joke, and in the confusion Invited his new found friend to take a drink. He accepled, and in the course of their conversation ! the detective was delighted to find that1 the other had not penetrated his dls guise. ! “l Uko r°»C finally cried Constan ) tine, “and I want you to take dinner with some friends of mine.” I hat night Vidocq dined with a party of charming cracksmen,, every one of fhem noted in his profession. Con si antine was the chief. Joubert his able lieutenant, and the others faith ful followers. The wine flowed freely and the host of feeling prevailed. One of the company said facetiously that he had just come into a fortune and was celebrating the event. As a mat ter of fact he had “cracked a crib” the night before and was spending part of his ill gotten wealth. Con stantine. turning to Vidocq, said: "Mow n your nerve?” “Fine." “Are you In for an adventurer* “Surely. With whom?” With the locksmith’s daughter." Vidocq, keeping up the spirit of the thing, bowed gravely, acknowledging the introduction and Inquired when he would have the pleasure of going our 1 with the lady. It might he to night,” he said grum bling, if It were not for that in fernal Vidocq.” The detective pricked up his ears at the mention of his own name. He preserved the gravity of his counten ance. however, as he remarked car* iessly: un. l don t mind him If I ran keep Hear of the Informers. They tell me Paris swarms with the parasites.” I hat s true, said Constantine, "but if you ran keop Vldocq from guessing at your business you are safe enough with tne. As for these informers, I <1r»n t fear them. I ran smell those beggars as easily as a crow sce»ts powder." "Well," said Vldocq, "I cannot boast of fu» much penetration, yet. I think, too. that from the frequent description I have heard of this Vldocq his fea tures are so well engraved in my recol lection that I should pretty soon recog nl7.e him if I came unexpectedly |n his ■vay." ‘ Cod bless youf cried Constantine, ,<w In easy perceive you are a stran ger la the vagabond; Just imaging, now. that he Is never to be seen twice in the same dress; that he is in the morning perhaps just such another looking person as you; well, the next hour so altered that his own brother could not recognize him. and by the evening I defy any man to remember ever having seen him before. Only yesterday I met him disguised in a manner that would have deceived any eye but mine, but he must be a deep hand if he pets over me. I know these sneaks at the first glance, and if my friends were as knowing as myself his business would have been done long ago.” Nonsense,’ cried Vidocq; “every body says the same thing of him, and yet you see there is no getting rid of him." Constantine was on his feet at once, with an oath. He cried out: 1 o prove that I can act as well as tail:, if you will lend mo a helping hand, this very evening we will waylay him at his door, and I’ll warrant we’ll •ettle the job. so as to keep him from gi\ing any of us further uneasiness.” Vidocq immediately agreed, and was placed in the unique position of going out with a party of thieves to waylay himself. They actually went to the home of the detective, but as may be Imagined lie did not appear, and after three hours of waiting they gave up the vigil in disgust. Many days had passed and still \ idocq was without the specific evi dence w Jiich would enable him to put his hand on the shoulder of Constan tine and say "Thou art the man!” Of one tiling he was morally certain: It was that the erstwhile fencing master was at the head of a band of resource ful and unscrupulous thieves. One nigi-t after a jollification at the dance lial* tiie crisis came. "friend,” said Constantine with a leer, “do you feel like an adventure to-night?” With whom?” asked Vidocq. "With ray lady love—the locksmith’s daughter.” III join you with all my heart?” exc laimed the detective in undisguised sincerity. The plot was revealed with great attention to details. The cracksmen had been "spotting” the mansion of a wealthy banker ou one of the boule vards of Paris. “Come, boys,” cried Constantine, "a drink all around and then we’ll get down to business.” On the plea of searching Tor his hat and coat V'ldocq contrived to separate himself from the others for a few minutes. He wrote a hurried message ! on the hack of an old envelope, and finding a gendarme in the vicinity of the restaurent dispatched him with the note to the nearest prefecture. It was to the point. It told of the place of rendevous and added:, “Have half a dozen men on the spot. Frighten the cracksmen, but make no arrests until they have been driven to a place of refuge.” When Vidorq returned to the table his unsuspecting confederates were preparing to leave. In 20 minutes they I reached their destination. After that the chief advanced to the gate with his brass key—the famous locksmith’s daughter. Ty his sur prise it would not work. He turn bled with it for nearly a minute and then gave It up as a bad Job. "Hoys,” called the chief, ”we’ve got to jump the wall and get down to busi ness. We can’t fool around all night. Here you”—to the detective—"give us a hand.” \ idocq planted himself against the wall of the garden and. holding out his two hands, boosted the cracksmen ov*T the wall one at a time. Constan tine was the last one up. He held his hand down to Vidorq and assisted him to the top of the stone coping. "Now. Germain.” said Constantine to tho defective, ~yeu get In the shad ow near the end of the wall and keep a sharp lookout. If you ace the pr^ lice, give a low whistle. He on the alert, because everything depends on you." Vidocq nodded his he.id. ■Yen.” he repeated BiRniflrantlv “everythins: depends on me." Vidocq on the wall watched the op eratlon Intently. What a „n|q„e po sition! He felt like an umpire for society at that moment. The thle«.H on one side of the wall, the officers of the law on the other. And himself in the middle. Truly everythin* de pended on him. “Tick, tick, tick.” came the low. sharp soun». of the metallic lnstrt*. ment. Finally the abutter waa forced. After that a pane of gfasa «u cut and then nothing stood between the burglars and their booty. Five min utes. ten hinutes they worked there industriously. Everything was dons with business-like precision. Four stout bags stood with yawning mouths ready to receive the swag. Vldocq looked on the outside of the wall. The streets were deserted. Not a soul was in sight. Had h*s note miscarried? Would the police fail him? It looked that way. What a predicament for a sleuth! To be the confederate of thieves! If one of his many enemies should catch him in such a position he might have a hard time explaining to M. Henry. Present ly a measured tread was heard on the hard sidewalk. His heart hounded. It was a squad of police. He leaned over and whispered: “Hist!” ; A captain of police appf&ftChed. “It is I—Vldocq,” called the detect ive in a subdued voice. ”1 will giv# the alarm, but I wish you to let them go their way. Two of them ar« armed. Presently come to my old lodgings." The captain saluted and with his men sought shelter. At the same mo ment Vldocq gave a low, prolonged whistle. Instantly there was a com motion within. Hags were grabbed up and all scampered toward the walL “It's the police,” whispered Vldocq; "come quickly and you may escape.” They unbolted the gate and hun ried out. Vidocq joined them. "Where arc the police?" whispered Constantine. "They’ve gone the other way." said Vidocq. "If we're careful we can elude them.” They hurried along for a few blocks. The detective turned to the chief cracksman: “It's dangerous to go through the streets with these bags. Here's my old lodgings. Let's creep in here for shelter?” “Can you get in?” asked Constan tine. “Sure,” replied Vidocq. “I have my key and I know the room’s vacant.” Silently they crept inside, one at a time, and closed the door behind them. Constantine slapped Vidocq on th® back. “You’re a brick, Germain. I told you he'd distinguish himself, boys." “What do you call this place?" asked Joubert, looking around him. “I call it the mousetrap,” said Vi docq, with a leer. The cracksmen laughed loudly at this sally. The swag was poured out on th® table and the enterprising gentlemen were soon engaged in dividing their rich haul. Constantine and Joubert, tho only ones who possessed weapons, laid their pistols on a chair. Slily Vidocq picked them up and secreted them under a mattres^. In the midst of the exultation a loud knocking waa heard at the door. The thieves looked at one another with pale faces. Vi docq crawled under the bed, unob served. No sooner was he out of sight than the door was burst open and a swarm of inspectors and police men entered the room. In the twin kling of an eye five pairs of handcuffs were shoved onto the wrists of the cracksmen and they were being marched to the nearest police station III. It was New Year'o day at the pre fecture of police. M. Henry, follow. Ing a long established custom, was holding his annual receptiori. The room was crowded and all of the of ficers of the police, high and low, were there to present their chief with the compliments of the season. M. Bertaox, the cross-examiner of crim inals, and M. Parisot. the governor of prisons, were in the line receiving with M. Henry. During a lull in the crowd the three ruen drifted into a conversation concerning crime. “By the bye, M. Henry,” said M Bertaux, “what has become of thd fellow Vidocq?” “I really do not know,” said the pro feet gravely. “What!” exclaimed the other, “not know!” "No,” was the response. *T have not seen him sineo the day I called hlin In in your presence and dele gated him to break up the burglaries that have disgraced the police system of the city.” “And the burglaries,” continued tho other tauntingly, “they have contln uedr* M. Henry nodded. And Vidocq—he has disappeared V The prefect nodded again. M. Bertaux burst Into an Ironical laugh. “M. Henry, you have been deceived taken tn; hoodwinked.” The prefect shook his head. I am not ready to confess defeat" At that moment a great commotio* was heard on the outside. An ab tendant was summoned. “What is the confuaion?” All of the valuables stolen from the banker s house in the Champs Elyseee have been recovered.” "Good.” retorted M. Henry; “but Is that all?” No, \ Idocq is ontside demanding admittance. He ha» no card.” Admit him!" snapped the prefect A moment later five men handcuffed entered the room. Bringing up the rear was Vidocq. The first prisoner was Constantine, the others Joubert and his companions. Vidocq made a profound bow and. smiling bis pnr petual smile, pointed to the cursing culprits. M. Henry, I wish yoti the compli ments of the season, and as a New Years gift, present to you the re doubtable Constantine and his fellow cracksmen.” (Copyright^ by W. a Chapman.) -3.