Mrs. T.P. O'Connor
New York: George H. Doran Co., 1915.
Reprinted below are pages 61-79, which deal specifically with the Ripper case.
Max and Jack the Ripper
I whistled and called, "Max! Max! Come along. Where are you? Hurry up." What could have become of him? His patience was inexhaustible. He always waited, no matter how long the time. My heart sank. He must have been stolen. Forcibly abducted. I walked hurriedly to the end of the street, where an authoritative policeman was standing.
"Have you," I said, "seen a beautiful collie anywhere?"
"Was he in front of Gorringe's Shop for some hours?"
"Yes," I said, "he was waiting for me."
"Oh, you young ladies!" said the policeman. "I thought he was a lost dog, and took him to the nearest police station."
"You did," I said," well, you might just as well have taken me! Did he go willingly?"
"No, he didn't, he lagged a good deal, and looked back. I ought to have known. But he was very sweet-tempered. I'm sorry, mum. The station ain't very far. They ain't yet took him to the Dogs' Home."
"I certainly hope not," I said. "A second visit there would break his heart."
And when I hurried to the station, there sat Max, quiet, serene, and certain of delivery. Shaking hands with all the policemen, he had made friends, and was the center of an admiring crowd.
"He's quite a gentleman, Miss," said the sergeant in command.
And then I explained that only Max's politeness, and respect for the force had brought him there at all. As we left the station I met Mrs. Labouchere, who insisted on my going home to Queen Anne's Gate to lunch with her. And afterward we drove in the park, with Max trotting sedately behind the carriage, and it was six o'clock when we arrived at Grosvenor Road.
T.P. was in his study, rather disturbed and anxious.
"These dashed English suspect me of something!" he began. "All day long a red-headed policeman has been standing just outside the door. Several members of the Irish party have been here and noticed it. We are going to have a consultation at the League to-night, to see what course we had better pursue. What they think they have up their sleeves I can't imagine."
I began to laugh.
"It's no laughing matter," said T.P. "I daresay the neighbors imagine we are concealing dynamite. The fellow's got a most foolish face. If I had tried, I daresay I could easily have got out of him why he's there. I don't know though, if it's wise to speak to him. He looks the sort of sly dastardly Irishman that these English would set on us."
I laughed still more.
"You are about as foolish as the policeman," said T.P. irritably. "I must say, it doesn't seem to me at all a laughing matter."
"Have you spoken to the servants?" I said.
"No," said T.P., "and I hope they haven't noticed the assassin."
"Trust a housemaid to spot a policeman," I said. "I'll ring and ask Annie."
"Don't do anything of the kind until I've been to the League."
"You won't have to go," I said. "I'm responsible for that policeman."
"You?" said T.P., astonished. I rang the bell, and when Annie answered it, asked her if she had spoken to the policeman standing by the door.
"Yes'm," she said. "He come here at twelve o'clock, an' said he had a note for you. An' was to give it to you himself, an' if you wasn't in he was to wait until you come in and you was to tell him what to do."
"Well, upon my word," said T.P. "What is the meaning of this?"
"Tell him I'm in, Annie, and fetch me the note," I said. It was from Sir E-and read:
"DEAR MRS. O'CONNOR,
I send you one of your husband's countrymen, a young policeman, to prevent boys from bathing in that part of the Thames which you have convinced me is so dangerous. Will you and Max show him the exact spot where he is to stand? I have told him to await your orders.
With kind regards,
Yours very truly,
"When," said T.P., "Ireland has Home Rule, and I am in the Cabinet, I shall only remain there two days on account of some extraordinary performance of yours."
"You owe me," I said, "half a sovereign."
"Well," said T.P., "you American women are - "
"Excuse me, I must give my policeman his orders," I said. "He isn't to stand permanently in front of our door. Come Max."
The policeman smiled, greatly relieved, when I came out, and Max greeted him like an old friend.
"It's been a tryin' day," he said. "People's bin wonderin' what I was doin' forninst the dure. But I was told to wait. An' I waited."
It was then half-past seven o'clock, a soft, clear English June twilight. I crossed the street with him, and pointed out the swift-flowing current where two accidents had occurred and told him he must stop all boys who wanted to bathe.
"Niver a one will be wet with the wather, this summer, ma'm," he said, "niver a one."
I looked at his lithe six feet, and well believed it.
"And I'll write to the chief of police," I said, "and tell him how manfully you've stuck to your duty to-day."
"Whin Mr. Tay Pay O'Connor luked at me the way he did luk, I was put to it to stay, an' I wud have spoke, but he wint by so quick I didn't have the chanst."
And how Max and Annie did adore that policeman! I am sure he had lashin's of drink - for T.P.'s whisky disappeared as if by magic - and partook of every dainty provided for our table. And Max walked with him hour after hour, until he got a regular policeman's stride. And he saw and hailed, and tried to deliver every boy that came up or down the Embankment, innocent or guilty, into Patrick McDermott's red shining hands.
That autumn T.P. started the Star, and as he insisted that he could only edit it on the premises, we gave up our dear little house on the river, and moved down to a flat which occupied the two top floors of the Star building.
This was not a very happy time for either Max or me. The rooms shook and trembled from the whirring machinery, the air reeked of printer's ink, and boys came up and downstairs with telegrams, and messages, and copy, from morning until night. Max detested boys to such an extent that he must have had some painful memory connected with them. Perhaps he was entrusted to a boy who lost him, when he was found at the Dogs' Home.
I asked him about that mysterious mishap, once or twice, but it made him so sad that I ignored it ever after. He considered it a reflection against his intelligence, and a reflection against his former master, that a dog of his importance should have gone through the experience of quite ordinary dogs. Like human beings who are brave, he did not wish to nurse his sorrow, but to endure, and, if possible, to forget.
The most agreeable part of his life during his journalistic career were the long Sundays which he spent in the country with the night watchman, who lived in an old cottage surrounded by a little garden on the outskirts of Brixton.
At seven o'clock on each Sunday morning he, Ram Jones - a very inferior German dog - and the watchman, departed for green fields, returning at eight o'clock in the evening.
The Star Building, a thing of mushroom growth, was largely composed of wood, so fire was to be dreaded; and every hour of the night the watchman made frequent inspections to see if we were safe. And Max, although he enjoyed long nights of undisturbed sleep, considered it his duty to follow the watchman.
Up and down, up and down the stairs I would hear his quiet footfall, and always, - though Peters and Ram Jones continued their rounds - a listening pause at my door to see if all was well.
Oh, devoted, loyal friend, you never forgot your mistress for one moment, in the whole of your gentle life. There was ever in your noble heart, a background of her whom you loved faithfully, and obediently to the end . . .
Max was more of a statesman than a journalist. He could think over, and come to a very logical conclusion. His brain was rather serious and contemplative, than nimble and quick. Only once did he show the true reporter's instinct and nose for news.
It was the time that Jack the Ripper, in the open, populous streets of London, with superhuman cunning and absolute immunity of being discovered, was slaughtering like sheep one woman after another.
T.P. was in Scotland. A friend had taken me to drive, and we had gone to the East End, to see the "damned spot" where the last horrible murder had been committed.
The wide clean street suggested neither mystery nor tragedy. Customers were continually entering and leaving prosperous shops well stocked with pleasant looking merchandise, boys and girls, men and women, laughing, talking, grave and gay, careless, careworn, or happy, passed and repassed. There were always people. But in the midst of this pulsing life one solitary moment came, and it shrouded a grewsome murder in utter darkness.
We got out of the carriage, and I showed the affrighting place to Max. He barked, snuffed, became excited, and behaved as if he comprehended that a terrific drama had been enacted there.
That night my dear lad and I dined at the Laboucheres'. Mr. Labouchere always said Max had the best and least obtrusive manners of any dog he had every known; being a gentleman, he was always a welcome visitor, first to Queen Anne's Gate, and afterward to the historic house in Old Palace Yard.
A number of letters, including one that Mr. Labouchere said was from the Ripper himself, had been written to Truth. And, when I left, which I did early, we were still talking about the destroying Moloch with his lust of blood and apparent power of invisibility.
Mr. Labouchere went with me to the door.
It was a cold night, but clear, and the air was charged with electricity.
"He'll do a murder to-night," said Mr. Labouchere. "It's time for another."
"Oh, no" I said, "the stars are shining. He'll wait for a fog."
When we reached the Star Building I went upstairs, leaving Max with the watchman, but I could not get to sleep.
When eleven o'clock came, and I heard Peters' heavy footfall on the stairs, I opened the door, and to relieve my loneliness said, "Everything all right?"
"Yes'm," he said, "but I've just give a evil looking man a' arf crown for bringing Max home. He went out at ten o'clock, and never came back. About five minutes ago a man brought him in. He seen his address on his collar, an' said he was makin' for the East End. He seems to have somethin' on his mind."
"Oh," I said, "Max was with me this afternoon when I went with Major Webster to see the street where Jack the Ripper murdered his last victim. But I wonder what he wanted to go back for."
Max barked, and indicated that he wanted to go downstairs.
"The man that fetched him back," said the watchman, "looked like he might have been Jack the Ripper himself. His skin was green white, just the color of the stomach of a frog. He didn't have a drop of red blood in him. And his fingers was like tough white roots. He had little, awful eyes. A hat down to his collar, an' he spoke so queer. Once he looked up at the buildin' and smiled most horrible, as if he had a blood curdlin' joke all to hisself. He was a rum customer, he was, and yet Max wanted to follow him."
"Oh, Peters," I said. "Do you really think we've had a visit from the Ripper? I won't sleep a wink to-night. Watch Max. Don't let him out again. See how restless he is."
"You go to bed, mum," said the watchman, "and be quiet, me and the dogs will be up and down constant to-night."
I opened a book, and read for a while, then I laid it aside, and thought what a strange personality the man with the livid face must have to arouse Peters, who had no imagination to such picturesque description.
Then I closed my eyes and willed myself to sleep until seven o'clock in the morning, when the buzz of the machines would rouse me whether I would or not.
Suddenly there was a quiver, and the bur-r-r-r of grinding machinery. I listened. The Star was an evening paper, what had happened to warrant a morning edition. The big linotypes were going at full speed.
There were hurrying footsteps, and voices calling out orders. "Go ahead. Look sharp, and we'll be out with the Telegraph and the Times."
"Wire for Massingham" (the assistant editor), I heard someone say.
Max was barking, barking in a strange hoarse voice.
Peters was coming upstairs with hurried feet. I opened my door and called out:
"In Heaven's name, what's the matter?"
"Jack the Ripper has murdered two women to-night!"
"My God," I said, "how shocking! Where did he do it?"
"Not far from where you was to-day, mum." Max, still barking, had rushed to me with wildly excited eyes.
"He knew it," said the watchman, "long before we did. When the poor woman was bein' butchered, maybe, he lifted his head right in my box, an' he howled, an' he howled, an' howled, and looked just as if he seen some awful thing. I tell you my blood run cold."
"Be quiet, Max," I said, "be quiet, sir."
He began to whimper.
"An'," said the watchman, "it wasn't long after that a reported run in and fairly shouted: 'The Ripper's at it again. He's killed two this time. We must make things hum, and get to press at once.'"
The watchman left Max with me for the rest of the night. He was quite unlike himself. Quivering with nervousness, restless, and dissatisfied. He seemed to be making a protest, and to be saying with his wonderful eyes: "If I had been allowed to go to that fatal spot, I would have seized the Ripper, held him until help came, and saved the woman." And he did not recover his serenity for many days, not until I had my accident in the fire escape.
(the remainder of the chapter describes her broken ankle)