February 24, 1889
She Has Herself Arrested to Gain Entrance to a Station-House
Just What Happens to a Girl After The Police Seize Her
The Need of Many Improvements in Police Prisons Clearly Shows
Takes from a Hotel on the Charge of Larceny and Locked Up in Capt. Riley’s station House—Detective Hayes in the Double Role of Policeman and Feminine Charmer—Compelled to Disrobe in a Room While the Officers Peeked Through a Crack in the Wall—Scenes in the Cell Room During the Night—A Kind-Hearted Turnkey and Jelly Prisoners—Arraigned Before Judge Duffy at Jefferson Market and Discharged
The reasons for the undertaking which I describe below were:
First, THE WORLD wanted to know how women—particularly innocent women—who fall into the hands of the police are treated by them, and, second, what necessity, if any, there is for providing station-houses with matrons.
About 10 o’clock Thursday a carriage drove up to the Gedney House, corner of Broadway and Forty-first street, and two travel-stained women sprang out and entered the hotel. From their appearance even the most careful observer would have said that they could tell more about sowing hay-seed than about late suppers. They were so fortunate as to get the best room but one, and the hotel register soon bore these entries:
MISS JANE PETERS, Rochester, N.Y., room 130.
MISS F. KENT, Albany, N.Y. room 130.
Number 130 was a very comfortable corner room on the sixth floor, from the windows of which the two country women could see the crowds of muffled figures going into the Metropolitan Opera-House to the Arson Ball. But they had other things to think of, so they ordered a fire built in the stove, which filled a corner, and turned their thoughts to what they would have for supper. Apparently Miss Kent was the leader and from their conversation, which the waiters who fussed about could overhear, it seemed as if she had undertaken to make Miss Peters, whom she met for the first time on the train to New York, feel at home and enjoy herself. Miss Peters was very inexperienced and was charmed with the ease of her new found friend. Miss Peters was also very obliging and at Miss Kent’s wily suggestion paid all the bills. Of course Miss Kent, in the sweetest way, assured her verdant acquaintance she would repay it all in the morning.
The waiters smiled and were more attentive to Miss Kent than to Miss Peters, strange as it may seem.
At 11.30 a dainty supper was served and the young women were very happy and amiable over it. Indeed they grew quite confiding, and Miss Kent charmed her friends with her tales of adventure and travel. No scene could have been lovelier, and the waiters smiled and pocketed their tips—from Miss Peters’s purse, of course.
It was growing late and there were scarcely any carriages driving up to the Metropolitan Opera-House, save to the early-to-bed people. The hotel has become very quiet, and a waiter was removing the supper dishes when Miss Peters, who had gone to her satchel for some unknown reason, raised an outcry.
“My money is gone! Oh, Miss Kent, Miss Kent. I have lost my money!”
AROUSING THE HOTEL POOL
Miss Kent and the waiter hurried to the frightened woman and tried to quiet her, meanwhile aiding in a search for the missing money, It was not found and as Miss Peters insisted on raising an alarm Miss Kent became very indignant at the prospect of being connected with such a scrape. She put on her hat and remarked that she would leave, as she did not want to stay there and run the chance of having her name in the newspapers.
Instead of having a quieting effect Miss Peters immediately accused Miss Kent of knowing what had become of her money. For it was Miss Kent who advised her to divide her money and put half in her satchel, lest her purse be stolen and she lose it all. And after following this advice and putting two fifty-dollar bills in the satchel, had not Miss Kent been the only one to take charge of the satchel during Miss Peter’s absences from the room and parlor car?
The bell boy went downstairs for the clerk and Miss Kent, now very indignant because of the charges made by Miss Peters, started to leave the hotel. Miss Peters excitedly placed herself … an outcry if Miss Kent made the slightest move to go. With a cool little laugh and a sarcastic reply Miss Kent sat down to wait the pleasure of her frantic roommate. The clerk came and Miss peters sobbingly related her story anew.
She was coming from Rochester to New York, and on the train she made the acquaintance of Miss Kent, who was so agreeable and nice that they became friends. Then Miss Kent suggested as they were both travelling alone that they stop in New York all night at the same hotel instead of Miss Peters going on to her destination—Orange. Miss Peters, being desirous of doing some shopping, and really pleased with her new friend and loath to part from her, acquiesced. Then Miss Kent had advised her not to carry all her money in her purse, for if she should have her pockets picked she would be penniless. Miss Peters, acting on this advice, had put two fifty-dollar bills in her satchel, which she had left in Miss Kent’s care several times. And now the money was gone.
Leaving a man in charge of Miss Kent the clerk took Miss Peters down to the office. Careless and indifferent, Miss Kent stood by a window looking out, while the man in the room watched her steadily.
“Do you think she had the money,” he asked, at last.
ADVISED TO RUN AWAY
“Oh, yes, I saw it,” said Miss Kent indifferently, shrugging her shoulders, but still looking out.
“Why didn’t you get away?” he asked, going nearer.
“How?” asked Miss Kent shortly, turning to face him. He was of medium height, had a decided brogue and not an unkind face.
“Why, didn’t you see me tip you the wink when she began to make a fuss?”
“I did not understand it,” said Miss Kent.
“Well, I could’ve skipped you out then, an’ I’ll ’ave taken you to any hotel you wanted to go to. You could ’ave went across the street and they would never ’ave found you out.”
“Oh!” Said Miss Kent, drily. “And why should I run away?”
“Haven’t you enough to pay your bill?” he asked, apprehensively.
“I have,” Miss Kent replied. “What is she doing now?” referring to Miss Peters.
“She’s in the office trying to get an officer. I can get you out and over the stairway if you want to go.”
Miss Kent was more careful of her money than of her liberty, for she refused to escape. As the man went out into the hall Miss Peters returned with Mr. Brugh, one of the hotel proprietors.
“Go out into the hall, Miss Peters, until I talk to Miss Kent,” he said as he seated himself near to the accused girl. He was so kind and nice!
THE DETECTIVES CALLED IN
“Now, Miss Kent, I would advise you to give back the money while you have the chance.”
“But how can I give back what I have not got?” she exclaimed.
“Oh, yes, I know, Miss Kent,” he replied with a smile, “but now, look here, it can all be settled quietly now. If not, Miss Peters will insist on your arrest and you will be taken to the station-house, and tomorrow to the Police Court, and it will go very hard with you.”
Miss Peters sat guard over her while Mr. Brush went down for the officers. The case was hopeless, there was no escape for the accused girl; so with flaming cheeks and scornful eye she listened unmoved to the sobbing and pleading of her new acquaintance and now accuser.
No one ever waited so quietly to be arrested. Doubtless, Miss Kent’s calmness and quiet was due to the hopelessness of escape. A man guarded the hall and elevator and Miss Peters guarded the room. So Miss Kent quietly awaited her fate. It came.
Mr. Brugh returned at last when Miss Kent had almost fallen asleep in a big arm-chair. He opened the door and invited the detectives in.
They looked very big and burly, and it’s not surprising that even Miss Peters begged Miss Kent to restore the money instead of going to the station-house. They took everything off the bed and turned the mattresses. They pulled the wardrobe out from the wall and examined it carefully. The washstand, the bureau, the carpet, the stove and the chimney, but no money or remnants of money were found.
“You are wasting time and strength doing that,” said Miss Kent, laughingly. “I did not take the money and it is not hidden in this room.”
When everything was thoroughly gone over, the detectives took Miss Kent—and Miss Peters to tell her story—to the Thirtieth street station-house.
IN THE STATION-HOUSE
The Nineteenth Precinct Station-House had the appearance, as usual to public places in early morn, of being half asleep. The gray-haired Sergeant rested his arm on his desk, while an expression of dreaminess stole over his chubby, flushed face. Two late reporters leaned against the railing which inclosed the Sergeant’s desk, taking but little interest in the case. The fire in the stove, which marked the centre of the room, seemed to be tired of living, and the gaslight gave little spurts occasionally, as if to shake itself to wakefulness.
Even the big old clock at the door, whose fingers pointed to 2 o’clock, moved as if it had began to tire of its long duty. The whole atmosphere of the place was filled with an air of languor.
The door was flung open and in from the darkness came four persons who ranged themselves in a line before that Bar of Complaint. Two women and two men. The Sergeant lifted his gray head, and his eyes flashed with positive pleasure. They reporters straightened up and smiled as they moved into the best positions to see and hear. A few dead ashes rattled through the grate of the stove and the fire grew brighter. Even the clock seemed to take up a more cheerful tick.
I—Nellie Bly—was Miss Kent, the girl who stood there accused of grand larceny.
Miss Peters, my accuser, stood beside a detective on my right; the other detective stood on my left. Miss Peters is not the verdant spinster she represented, but is a very bright and well-known newspaper woman. I concocted this plan for my arrest for the reasons given in the first of my article, and owing to “Miss Peters’s” most able assistance I had now reached the threshold of my goal.
“Sergeant,” said the detective on my left, as he flung my satchel on the desk before him. “I was called into the Gedney House to arrest this girl. She is charged with stealing two fifty-dollar bills from this woman.” After repeating “Miss Peters’s” story of our meeting he added: “We searched the room all over, but we did not find anything.”
TAKING THE PEDIGREE
“What’s your name?” asked the Sergeant in a gruff way.
“Must I tell,” I asked faintly.
“Well, it’ll go all the harder with you if I give you a name,” he replied.
“What will I do?” I asked the detective. “I don’t want to tell my name.”
“Say Jane Smith, anything will do,” he whispered.
“Well will I give you Jane Doe for a name?” asked the Sergeant.
“Jane Smith,” I said by way of reply.
“Where do you come from, Jane?” he asked.
“Where?” I asked, turning to the detective in a pseudo-helpless way. It is always so much easier to allow someone else to do one’s prevaricating, and there are always so many ready to do it.
“Gedney House,” whispered the detective.
“Gedney House,” I said to the Sergeant, and the reporters wrote it in their note-books.
“How old are you, Jane?” asked the Sergeant, lifting his eyes for a moment from the ledger in which he was writing all this new.
“Twenty years old.”
“Married or single?”
Then I kept quiet until the others helped “Miss Peters” to tell her tale of woe. They also helped her to a chair and I was allowed to stand. “Miss Peters” told her story with many a flourish, painting me blacker and blacker with every word until I began to half expect that I had stolen her money.
SEARCHED BY A LODGER
Some poor man, whom misfortune had overtaken, was brought in and stood beside me at the railing. He was given a chance to tell his story, but I don’t see of what avail it is. The officer is always believed in preferences, and let the accused tell what he may, it never saves him from a night in the cells.
“Come with me, Jennie,” said my detective on the left, and I followed him through the gate into a small room.
A poorly clad and unkempt woman was there. She was not strikingly clean and her face showed traces of a wearisome life. I felt sorry for her.
“This woman is a lodger here, Jennie, and is to search you,” the detective informed me.
I had intended to buy her off—that is, if it had been a paid matron, but I had not the heart to tempt a poor creature who had to beg lodgings. I did not want to be the case of any misery to her, so I quietly submitted to being searched.
“You will have to undress, Jennie,” said the detective, whose name I had learned was Hayes, and then he went out and left me in that little pigeon-hole alone with the woman.
As I began to undress I thought I detected an eye at a crevice, and, horrified, I got back as far out of the range of it as possible. I managed to keep the searcher between me and the crevice while I wondered what sort of a man a Sergeant must be who would permit such things. I gave the woman all the money I had, which she handed to the detectives. She was altogether an unfeeling creature, and no more fitted to search women than a vulture is fitted to nurse a sick lamb. She was utterly regardless whether I was seen dressed or undressed. Of course, the fifty-dollar bills were not found on me, and I was taken out through the station-house to a little low building.
LOCKED IN A CELL
A little old man with kind eyes ad grayish whiskers and a cap and a great black pipe, from which came dense clouds of smoke, received me and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was locked in where the cells were and the detectives were locked out.
As far as I could see in the dim light the cells went to the top of the building, and as there was but one tier of cells the building must necessarily be low. All these cells had big iron doors. Snoring was about the only thing I heard as I followed my jailer around the stone corridors. Indeed, there was so much snoring, and it was so loud, that when he said:
“Do you want a cell close to the stove or a bit away?”
I had to yell back: “What’s that you said?”
But one becomes accustomed even to the noise of a cannon. When the snoring began to resembled the sounds of a heavy sea tearing down things that were meant to stand I found I could talk.
“Don’t put me too near the stove,” I yelled above the chorus of snores. “It’s very warm in here.”
So he led the way past a cell where a young man stood looking through the bars, past where a woman leaned her pale face against the bars, away down to a place where half a dozen doors stood ajar.
“Is there no way to get a drink of water during the night?” I asked.
“Oh, yes, I will give you a tin cup which you can keep in your cell,” he replied.
I went into my cell. It was not luxuriously furnished; indeed, some might call it bare. There was a bare cemented floor, brick walls painted brown half way up and then whitewashed; a brass faucet where I could get water. The bed was the very personification of simplicity. It was only a board fastened securely to the wall about two feet from the floor. There is no saying that there was no spread or pillow or any of those little things we think we can’t do without at home, because there was only board and nothing but board. My jailer fastened the grated door. I was not very sleepy and felt inclined to talk. I peeped out between the bars, catching alternately a cloud of smoke and a glimpse of his kind old face.
CHATTING WITH THE TURNKEY
“Say, what are you called?” I asked by the way of an introduction.
“A Turnkey,” he answered, peeping back at me.
“Well, now, if that stove would fall down out there how could we be saved?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I’m sure,” he said, with a smile.
“Would we all have to roast here in our cells?” I continued.
“Yes, I think that would be the end of you,” he laughed; “but there’s no fear of it; it can’t catch fire here.”
It was not very pleasant when I was alone with nothing to think about except the different varieties of snoring. I began to have a fervent wish that some one would waken and move. I felt cheated of the company I had expected to have in the yells and cries and songs of the different prisoners. As if in answer to my wish, I heard some door rattle, rattle, and then a voice—a woman’s voice—cried:
“Say, Captain, Captain. Come here, won’t you?” and rattle, rattle, rattle went the door.
“Ho, now. What do you want?” I heard my jailer ask.
“Say, open this door for me, won’t you?”
“And what do you want the door opened for?” he inquired in a cheery voice.
“I just want it opened, that’s all. Open it, won’t you? Please, Captain.”
“I’m afraid of you. You’ll bit me if I open the door,” he said, and she laughed at this quite heartily.
“No, I won’t bite you. Open the door; do open the door.”
“I can’t, I’m afraid you’ll bite,” he still replied lightly; and pleased, the poor woman laughed again and then went to sleep.
SCENES IN THE CELL ROOM
I heard him open the grating of another cell and then heard him say: “Come, come, now! Don’t double up that way. There, that’s better,” and the grating was locked again.,
“Is anything wrong?” I asked, as he came down the corridor. I was still looking through the grating.
“No. There’s a woman down there that I’m afraid may smother,” he said, putting his face close to the bars.
“What is she in for?”
“Drunk,” he replied shortly; “and I just now found this,” holding a still burning cigarette between the bars, “beside here, and I’m afraid of her smothering.”
“What brings the largest number of women here?”
“Drink. We have five drunks for any other one complaint,” he said sadly. “We’ve got four in here now.”
“What time is it, turnkey?” someone asked.
“Hello there, officer!” yelled another, “let me out! I can’t stay in this cell.”
Occasional spells of silence would come which were very tiresome to me. I began to feel weak from standing, so I decided to lie down and take to rest. I folded my jacket for a pillow, and wrapping myself in my silk circular tried to sleep. Just as I was dropping into a pleasant doze the turnkey returned.
“Here,” he said, unbarring my door, “I found this comforter. It may be some good to you.”
“You are very kind,” I said earnestly, “and believe me, I am very much obliged to you. Tell me,” to change the subject, “do you have much trouble with the women brought here?”
“I have to watch them, because they are ill and they will do anything, especially when drink is wearing off. Right in here—no, in the next cell—I had one of the finest girls in the world die on my hands. Oh, she was a beauty and such a fine girl—as fine a girl as you’d ever see. I left here after talking to her at the door. Ten minutes afterwards when I made my rounds she was lying there dead.”
THE TURNKEY REMINISCES
“Did she kill herself?” I asked quickly.
“No; heart disease,” he replied softly. “She went off in a minute, and a fine girl she was. I had another, in this very cell you’re in, hang herself. Yes; I was away from her just a few minutes, and when I came back she was hanging to the cell door. I cut her down and I was sure that she was dead, but they brought her to.” I sigh, relieved, and reserve my decision to ask to be removed. “I watch them carefully all the night and I always talk to them cheerfully to keep their spirits up, but they will sometimes give up all hopes.”
“What do you do with their bodies?”
“Dump them in a box and haul them off,” he replied quite cheerfully. We’ve had babies born in here, too, and we always bundle the women off to the hospital the first thing. But I must make my rounds. Try ad rest a little, and if you want to pay for a cup of coffee I’ll have one sent in to you in the morning.”
“Thank you—good-night,” I said, and he called back quietly as he went down the corridor.
I folded the comforter into a pillow and found it very easy. I don’t know when or how I went to sleep or how long I had been asleep, but I was wakened by some man yelling.
“Say! Say! SAY!” he yelled, “What am I locked up here for? I haven’t a cent. I don’t know what you lock a man up for as hasn’t a cent. Say ! Say! SAY! I want to get out. Unlock this door.”
“Shut up.” “You’re drunk yet.” “Go sock yer head.” “Bag his mouth.” “He’s —- c crazy,” were a few of the remarks the awakened lodgers hurled at him, and one began to sing. “Where is my wandering boy tonight?”
From this on there was no quiet in the station-house. It was not yet daylight, but I have no idea of the hour., It was very funny to hear the remarks of those who had been brought in dead drunk the night before. One man yelled, “Mary, —- you, Mary; come open this door! What did yer shut it up for? Is breakfast ready?” which excited the merriment and remarks of his more sober companions. I felt a little relief that “Mary” was no present, and I drew a hasty mental picture of that brute at home.
Some time early in the morning the watch was changed and my kind-hearted old jailer was replaced by a younger man. I moved slightly when he passed my cell and he yelled in:
“Hello, Birdie, are you awake? Say, Birdie, give me that tin cup you have.” I got up and taking the tin off the faucet-handle handed it to him.
“Say, where did you come from?” he asked curiously as I came near to the door and into the gaslight. “What are you in for?”
“That doesn’t make any difference,” I said crossly.
“Wait a minute, I’ll be back,” he said when he returned, and I repeated again the story of my arrest, making it as black as possible for myself.
“What are you going to do if you are discharged?” he asked afterwards.
“I don’t know. Why?” I asked.
“Well, if you are going to stay in town I would like to see you again.”
“Oh!” I said simply. I was surprised.
“Will you stay in town?”
“No, I will leave on the first train after I am released.” And off he went to answer some call.
By this time they had begun to remove prisoners. One after another the doors were unbarred and some prisoner went forth to face a Judge. I could hear everything, but could see nothing. Most of the prisoners were talking among themselves in a friendly way. At last a woman evidently recognized a voice, for she called out to two young men who were the most vulgar and profane talkers I ever heard.
“Hello! Petie. Is that you?”
“Yes. Is that you, Mamie?” he responded.
“Judge Duffy’s on today and he’s all right. I’ll put my bangs back and he’ll say: ‘Well, Mamie, they charged you with being drunk and disorderly again. What have you got to say?’ I’ll say, ‘Go to —-,’ and Duffy will say, ‘Ten days or ten dollars.’ I haven’t a —- cent.”
Everybody laughed at this as if it were very funny, and someone called out:
PRISONERS EXCHANGING PLEASANTRIES
“Say, Mamie, give me your address and I’ll call on you when I get out.” The conversation became very foul, and addresses were exchanged and friends were made as well as promises to meet at Jefferson Market and sign signals agreed upon, so they would recognize each other. A station-house is a good place for bad people to become worse.
The new turnkey returned to me and offered me a towel, if I wished to wash my face, so I would look clean and bright in court. He was very nice and kind, and also ordered breakfast for me. I heard many of the prisoners speak of his kindness.
Many of the “drunks” had to be awakened. One man, with a deep bass voice, was called and commanded to wash the blood off his face. When the turnkey went out another prisoner advised the newly awakened man not to wash, but to go before the Judge in his bloody condition. It seems, from their conversation, that this man had been a bartender on Broadway for seven years. This was the first time in his life that he had ever been arrested. He was drunk and went to sleep in a doorway, I believe, and a policeman clubbed him into insensibility. However, he washed his face, as he had been ordered, and removed all traces of blood.
That bartender was very honest compared with the others in the place. His questions and his other greenness and simplicity about court proceedings amused me. The others understood that he was new, and Mamie immediately gave him her name and address and asked him to call. Then she asked him if he got out first to either pass her cell or meet her at Jefferson Market. At last she told him to listen carefully, and in a low voice asked him to lend her some money. He immediately consented. Then a man, who said he was a street-car driver, said that he had only six cents in his pockets and that if he did not get out by 10 o’clock, which was his hour to go to work, that he would lose his “job.” Then he asked the bartender if he would pay his fine, which he thought would be $5. The bartender said he would.
“And if it is $10 will you pay it?” the driver asked, and the bartender responded that he would go $10 on him.
TAKEN TO COURT
My breakfast came—a steak, fried potatoes, a pot of coffee, several rolls, sugar and salt. The waiter told me that it was 45 cents and I gave him 50. He thanked me. The turnkey considerately turned up the gas so I could see and I was left alone to eat. It seemed an eternity before the hour came for me to be taken to court. Nearly every one had gone before me and I began to fear that I would be forgotten. At last Detective Hayes, looking very sleepy, made his appearance.
“Good morning,” he said, and the door was opened for me and I left the cell where I had spent such a long night. We went out through the station-house and taking a Seventh avenue car were soon at Jefferson Market court.
I was put into a large cell with some twenty women. I have nothing to tell about it that could be published. The men in charge seemed to take a delight in the horrible remarks which the women prisoners hurled at them, and the women seemed to be having a contest to see which could say the most horrible things. Those who had no breakfast were having coffee served to them. One woman spoke to me and told me that she had been found drunk on the streets the night before. She was a very plain, homelike-looking creature, so I asked her where she got her load, which I had learned was the expression used.
“By picking up strangers on the streets and getting them to treat me,” she said. “I haven’t a cent to pay my fine, and I guess I’ll be sent up. I feel very shaky.”
THE SHYSTER LAWYER ON HAND
I was the last one left in the cell. Detective Hayes came to me and said there was a lawyer outside who wanted to see me. I stopped at an interesting passage in the Prado story now running in THE WORLD. The gate was unlocked and I passed several officers who knew me well, but who failed now to recognize me, and into a quiet room where a thin-looking man was waiting for me.
“Miss Smith,” he said to me. “I am a runner for Lawyer McClelland, and as your case is going dead against you I thought you would like to have some advice. If you retain me I will run over to McClelland’s house, which is just across the way, and he will come over and fix things. He is a politician, and has a pull on all the officers and the Judges, and he can fix you. Will I go for him?”
“I don’t think you will for me. I am innocent, and I am not afraid,” I replied.
“They have got a dead case against you, and the woman whose money is gone is out there with two witnesses to appear against you. You give me $10 to retain me and McClelland will fix you all right.”
“I’ll think it over,” I answered.
“It’s too late to think. Take my advice. The money’s nothing to me. I don’t want your money. But if you don’t do it, I’ll stand out there beside you and”—I looked at him scornfully and he changed his taunt to—“”see you put under $1,000 bail and then the Grand Jury will get you. You’ll be sorry.”
I went back to the cell, and presently Detective Hayes came for me and I was taken out before the little Judge, whose kind heart is ever with the unfortunate. The detective began his story about my doings. I corrected him in several misstatements. Then Judge Duffy told me to lift my veil.
“Why this lady hasn’t the face of a thief,” he said warmly. “I have seen lots of thieves and she hasn’t the look of one.”
I gave him a grateful glance and repressed an impulse to give him a wink to try his recollection of the time he sent me to Blackwell’s Island as a crazy girl.
“Where’s the woman who made the charge?” he asked.
“She promised to come here,” said the detective, “but she hasn’t arrived.”
DISCHARGED BY JUDGE DUFFY
“I suppose she has found her money. This lady never stole it. I know. She is discharged.”
I did not say “Thank you,” although I was very grateful for the good opinion of one of the kindest-hearted men in New York. I followed the detective down to another place, where he told a man, who had seen me quite often that Miss Smith, arrested for grand larceny, was discharged. Then we went out of the courtroom together, several men stopping the detective to inquire about the case.
“Where are you going now?” asked the detective as we reached the corner.
“I am going to the Gedney House to pay my bill,” I replied. “I will send for my satchel.”
“Am I not to see you again?” he asked.
“I hope not,” I replied, purposely misunderstanding him. “I never want to be in such a scrape again.”
HOW ABOUT THIS MR. HAYES?
“I don’t want to see you that way, you know, but if you will let me know where you are to stop”—
“I don’t see what you want to see me again for. I hope never to see you.”
“Tell me your name,” he urged, “or where you live.”
“Not for worlds.”
“Well, what is I know it? Your name is Kent and you live in Albany.”
“I think that you would want to stay in town and get rested,” he said, after we were on the Seventh avenue car. He had informed me that I could not get my satchel by sending for it; that I had to apply in person and sign a receipt for it. So we were on our way back to the station-house. “I can take you to a hotel to stop where no one will ever find you.”
“I am going directly out of town,” I insisted.
“What is to be my reward?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I have been good to you. Instead of you being dismissed I could have asked the Judge to remand you until we could get more evidence, but I let you go free. I am not glad you got into trouble, but I am glad of meeting you and I would like to see you again. I think I have been kind to you.”
“Oh, yes, you have,” I replied. “Everybody has been very kind. I expected to be clubbed to death.”
“We are not such a bad lot, and we never club until the last moment.”
“Jennie Smith, discharged, and wants her satchel,” he said to the pleasant man in the station-house behind the desk. “:She thought she would get clubbed by the police.”
“She is more likely to get embraced than clubbed,” the man laughed.
“I believe that,” I replied, and the detective held the door open for me.
“Won’t you let me hear from you?” he said, as he took off his hat.
“I may,” I laughed. “I know your name and you may hear from me.”
REFORMS BADLY NEEDED
I walked up Seventh avenue, rang a bell in a flat-house, went up several flights, inquired for a family that never existed, and came out at last satisfied that if any one was following me I had put him off the track.
I have come to several conclusions:
First—That a regular woman-searcher should be employed in station-houses.
Second—That the male officers should be given no opportunity of squinting through a peep-hole at women who are being searched.
Third—That innocent women who fall into the hands of the police are not necessarily badly treated.
Fourth—That the male and female prisoners should not be kept within earshot of each other.
Fifth—That if all the turnkeys are as kind as those I encountered no woman could ever fill their places, because women are never so kind to their unfortunate sisters as men are.
(Source: Nellie Bly Online, http://www.nellieblyonline.com/herwriting)
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