Chapter 20
1 October, evening.--I found Thomas Snelling in his house at Bethnal Green, but
unhappily he was not in a condition to remember anything. The very prospect of
beer which my expected coming had opened to him had proved too much, and
he had begun too early on his expected debauch. I learned, however, from his
wife, who seemed a decent, poor soul, that he was only the assistant of Smollet,
who of the two mates was the responsible person. So off I drove to Walworth,
and found Mr. Joseph Smollet at home and in his shirtsleeves, taking a late tea
out of a saucer. He is a decent, intelligent fellow, distinctly a good, reliable type of
workman, and with a headpiece of his own. He remembered all about the
incident of the boxes, and from a wonderful dog-eared notebook, which he
produced from some mysterious receptacle about the seat of his trousers, and
which had hieroglyphical entries in thick, half-obliterated pencil, he gave me the
destinations of the boxes. There were, he said, six in the cartload which he took
from Carfax and left at 197 Chicksand Street, Mile End New Town, and another
six which he deposited at Jamaica Lane, Bermondsey. If then the Count meant to
scatter these ghastly refuges of his over London, these places were chosen as
the first of delivery, so that later he might distribute more fully. The systematic
manner in which this was done made me think that he could not mean to confine
himself to two sides of London. He was now fixed on the far east on the northern
shore, on the east of the southern shore, and on the south. The north and west
were surely never meant to be left out of his diabolical scheme, let alone the City
itself and the very heart of fashionable London in the south-west and west. I went
back to Smollet, and asked him if he could tell us if any other boxes had been
taken from Carfax.
He replied, "Well guv'nor, you've treated me very 'an'some", I had given him half
a sovereign, "an I'll tell yer all I know. I heard a man by the name of Bloxam say
four nights ago in the 'Are an' 'Ounds, in Pincher's Alley, as 'ow he an' his mate
'ad 'ad a rare dusty job in a old 'ouse at Purfleet. There ain't a many such jobs as
this 'ere, an' I'm thinkin' that maybe Sam Bloxam could tell ye summut."
I asked if he could tell me where to find him. I told him that if he could get me the
address it would be worth another half sovereign to him. So he gulped down the
rest of his tea and stood up, saying that he was going to begin the search then
and there.
At the door he stopped, and said, "Look 'ere, guv'nor, there ain't no sense in me
a keepin' you 'ere. I may find Sam soon, or I mayn't, but anyhow he ain't like to
be in a way to tell ye much tonight. Sam is a rare one when he starts on the
booze. If you can give me a envelope with a stamp on it, and put yer address on
it, I'll find out where Sam is to be found and post it ye tonight. But ye'd better be
up arter 'im soon in the mornin', never mind the booze the night afore."
This was all practical, so one of the children went off with a penny to buy an
envelope and a sheet of paper, and to keep the change. When she came back, I
addressed the envelope and stamped it, and when Smollet had again faithfully