So screwen cold was it that Thomas Warne wondered what compelled him to marshall his men, and head down to the docks in the company of Allan Pinkerton. So cold was the air that the merest breeze seemed to rake his flesh and seep into his bones, yet he also felt mildly feverish and this discomfiting state of affairs left him feeling humiliated. That and the way his heart beat seventeen to the dozen as they neared the docks (skipping a beat as he espied the Resurgam, moored within the harbour). He felt shamed for here he was, about to ride in to the rescue of a woman who clearly didn’t need no rescuing! For a battle encounter with Kitty Grid-Iron was the equivalent of being tied to a ships hull and keel-hauled. If you were a border ruffian you hoped to survive the collision with life if not limb intact. But if you were a secessionist, unless might hisself – accompanied by a Gatling gun and several pistols -was on your side, survival was a tenuous option. The woman was thought by some to be the very devil when it came to meting out northern justice! For all that he loved her and would gladly have laid his life down for her, if she had ever asked!
“Tread carefully gentleman” warned Pinkerton, “Have your pistols at the ready, but we aren’t aiming for discord, there’s only watchmen and constables around this early in the day, and mayhap we will get our business done without so much as a shot being fired”
“Mayhap” murmured one Cletis Halliday under his breath,
“Then again maybe not” replied another. t’is all one to the men riding alongside him, who are so at ease that one could be forgiven for thinking that they meant no harm. Not so, for unlike Allan Pinkerton they harbour no slumbering moral sense, at the first sign of trouble they will draw and fire and the devil take the one who gets in their way! T’is the way of New York Harbour, where the constables and watchmen are allowed to steal all they can from those who won’t pay the Tammany Hall ‘tax’, and where those businessmen who try to take their ship’s cargo entire, are liable to wind up floating in the bay with a bullet in their backs, courtesy of the Tammany ‘taxmen’. As a consequence, Thomas Warne rode with his men when conducting business at the docks, and in that way he avoided the harsh bribes and most of the violence. As they continued to make their progress slowly along the harbour they perceived a wagon waiting to one side of the Resurgam and two burly men staggering under the weight of a carpet bag. This weighty encumbrance seemed to have taken on a life of it’s own, for it writhed and buckled as if for all the world there were a human being contained therein. At one point the men saw fit to drop the carpet bag heavily upon the dock, before picking it up once more and loading it into the back of the wagon. Thomas Warne and Allan Pinkerton looked at each other and then towards the two men who, muttering many salty curses, clambered into the back of the wagon.
“Is that the good English Lord they have bundled into that carpet bag?” asked Thomas Warne smiling grimly Pinkerton nodded,
“None other, though he may parade himself like an Englishman, and dress like an Englishman, he is most emphatically Irish, and it is as an Irishman remiss in his duties to his fellow Irishmen, that he shall be summarily tried (by his own people naturally), and either set free or executed!”
Soon two other figures appeared, one dark and slender, and the other dressed as becomes a New York gentlewoman, except that Thomas knew her skirts were artfully split to the waist so that she could run at a tilt, kneel, and fire several volleys off a rifle. Climbing aboard the front of the wagon and grabbing the reins they sought to leave the docks, but as if from nowhere men emerged one of whom took hold of the reins staying the horses progress.
“Remember what I said! No shooting less’n there’s a need!”
In no time at all they reached the Tammany thugs who, perceiving that there was nought but a woman and a ‘nigrah’ in the wagon, mistook Kitty for a blowen and were even now in the progress of trying to elicit a ‘tax’ from her ill-gotten gains.
“Gentlemen, I’ve no wish to interfere with your commerce, but this lady is under my charge, if you would be so kind?” the two ‘gentlemen’ cock their heads, narrow their eyes and reach for their pistols. In turn Thomas Warne’s men sliding nimbly off their stallions, cock their pistol hammers back and get ready to fire. The Tammany ‘taxmen’ look confused, nay offended, to shoot a businessman who won’t pay his taxes is permissible, but to be shot at? T’is the height of bad manners!
“Ain’t a man uses these docks don’t pay for the use!” they wail piteously,the vicious glare they cast at Kitty says more than words will tell,
“Till now” hissed Alan Pinkerton aiming his peacemaker at the thugs,”Step away from the wagon if you please sirs, farther thank you!”
Snatching the reins back Kitty jerks hard on them, driving her wagon out of there with all speed. With mounting rage the thwarted thugs aim to wound at least one of the malefactors and cause them to fall beneath the hooves of their horses. But as they cock their pistols at the ready, aim, and get ready to fire, they hear another click, and this one sounds altogether different from their own. T’is Methuselah O’Houlihan displaying his usual lack of grace toward Boss Tweed’s men.
“Make one more motion and I’ll put a hole in you so big they’ll have to pack your corpse with dirt before they bury it, now git!” one look in those rattle snake eyes is the end of all argument, they swiftly make their exit!