This is the second part of a story based on a real incident on the Great Western at the turn of the century. It draws on the transcripts of a court case at Old Bailey. The story is narrated by Dennis Watts, a slipper boy in the employment of the GWR. Part one is here.
As I stood there, surrounded by thieves in a dark corner of the goods yard, I thought my last hour had come. Luckily the moon came out, which seemed to unsettle them, and so they let me go.
The next morning I went to find Walmsley. He is with the GWR police. His job is to prevent theft in the goods depot.
I told him what had happened. Walmsley has more muscle than brains, so he sent for help.
So then Detective Benton arrived. He is with the GWR Detective Department at Paddington. That’s him on the left. Walmsley showed him the scene of the crime, and they found the remains of the stolen box. The silks it had contained were gone.
The Detective was very meticulous. He kept searching, until he found what he was looking for: It was a torn piece of paper wrapping from the box.
Then the detective demanded to see the suspects. I watched as they confronted Woods and Lawson, two of the thieves I had seen the night before.
As the law enforcers came upon the villains, they found them carrying a sack. The detective demanded to see what was in it.
The sack contained thirty-five yards of silk, sixty-six yards of grenadine and a piece of paper wrapping.
The thieves were stubborn. They claimed innocence. They had not stolen the goods, they said. They found it lying on the ground. Someone must have dropped it, they said.
But Detective Benton was shrewd. He produced the fragment of paper he had found by the stolen box, and placed it next to the wrapping from the sack. We all gathered around to see...
The two pieces of wrapping were a perfect fit. It was damning evidence.
Well dear reader, you may think that was that. But there is more to the world than meets the eye! Watch this space for the third and final episode, where all will be revealed.