15. Three ‘Detective’ Anecdotes

by Charles Dickens

‘I never was more astonished in my life, than when I heard them words come out of his lips. “You’re a glove-cleaner, are you?” says I. “Yes,” he says, “I am.” “Then, perhaps,” says I, taking the gloves out of my pocket, “you can tell me who cleaned this pair of gloves? It’s a rum story,” I says. “I was dining over at Lambeth, the other day, at a free-and-easy — quite promiscuous — with a public company — when some gentleman, he left these gloves behind him! Another gentleman and me, you see, we laid a wager of a sovereign, that I wouldn’t find out who they belonged to. I’ve spent as much as seven shillings already, in trying to discover; but, if you could help me, I’d stand another seven and welcome. You see there’s TR and a cross, inside.” “I see,” he says. “Bless you, I know these gloves very well! I’ve seen dozens of pairs belonging to the same party.” “No?” says I. “Yes,” says he. “Then you know who cleaned ’em?” says I. “Rather so,” says he. “My father cleaned ’em.”

‘“Where does your father live?” says I. “Just round the corner,” says the young man, “near Exeter Street, here. He’ll tell you who they belong to, directly.” “Would you come round with me now?” says I. “Certainly,” says he, “but you needn’t tell my father that you found me at the play, you know, because he mightn’t like it.” “All right!” We went round to the place, and there we found an old man in a white apron, with two or three daughters, all rubbing and cleaning away at lots of gloves, in a front parlour. “Oh, Father!” says the young man, “here’s a person been and made a bet about the ownership of a pair of gloves, and I’ve told him you can settle it.” “Good evening, sir,” says I to the old gentleman. “Here’s the gloves your son speaks of. Letters TR, you see, and a cross.” “Oh yes,” he says, “I know these gloves very well; I’ve cleaned dozens of pairs of ’em. They belong to Mr. Trinkle, the great upholsterer in Cheapside.” “Did you get ’em from Mr. Trinkle, direct,” says I, “if you’ll excuse my asking the question?” “No,” says he; “Mr. Trinkle always sends ’em to Mr. Phibbs’s, the haberdasher’s, opposite his shop, and the haberdasher sends ’em to me.” “Perhaps YOU wouldn’t object to a drain?” says I. “Not in the least!” says he. So I took the old gentleman out, and had a little more talk with him and his son, over a glass, and we parted excellent friends.

‘This was late on a Saturday night. First thing on the Monday morning, I went to the haberdasher’s shop, opposite Mr. Trinkle’s, the great upholsterer’s in Cheapside. “Mr. Phibbs in the way?” “My name is Phibbs.” “Oh! I believe you sent this pair of gloves to be cleaned?” “Yes, I did, for young Mr. Trinkle over the way. There he is in the shop!” “Oh! that’s him in the shop, is it? Him in the green coat?” “The same individual.” “Well, Mr. Phibbs, this is an unpleasant affair; but the fact is, I am Inspector Wield of the Detective Police, and I found these gloves under the pillow of the young woman that was murdered the other day, over in the Waterloo Road!” “Good Heaven!” says he. “He’s a most respectable young man, and if his father was to hear of it, it would be the ruin of him!” “I’m very sorry for it,” says I, “but I must take him into custody.” “Good Heaven!” says Mr. Phibbs, again; “can nothing be done?” “Nothing,” says I. “Will you allow me to call him over here,” says he, “that his father may not see it done?” “I don’t object to that,” says I; “but unfortunately, Mr. Phibbs, I can’t allow of any communication between you. If any was attempted, I should have to interfere directly. Perhaps you’ll beckon him over here?’ Mr. Phibbs went to the door and beckoned, and the young fellow came across the street directly; a smart, brisk young fellow.

‘“Good morning, sir,” says I. “Good morning, sir,” says he. “Would you allow me to inquire, sir,” says I, “if you ever had any acquaintance with a party of the name of Grimwood?” “Grimwood! Grimwood!” says he. “No!” “You know the Waterloo Road?” “Oh! of course I know the Waterloo Road!” “Happen to have heard of a young woman being murdered there?” “Yes, I read it in the paper, and very sorry I was to read it.” “Here’s a pair of gloves belonging to you, that I found under her pillow the morning afterwards!”

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