Serial novel: “The Plot to Kill Susan B. Anthony”

Editor’s note: “The Plot to Kill Susan B. Anthony” is a novel written by William Fleeman, a Cassadaga-area resident. This is the conclusion of Chapter 6.

I explained that my father had been a slave of both African and white origin, his father a white landowner. When England outlawed slavery in the 1840s, my father stole aboard an English ship in Savannah and escaped to Liverpool, where he met and married my English mother, and where I was born. My mother and I immigrated in 1875, upon my father’s death.

“Miss Goldberg,” I said, “you are very observant. Most people don’t recognize my African features.”

Most people don’t know that MacDuff is one-quarter Cherokee Indian either. Most of the time, we both pass for white. Often, people think we are Italians.

“My father also was slave,” Emma said sadly. “He was serf. There is little food all one winter. My father go off in woods, for to give to us his food. My father_ he starve to death in woods!”

“Speak no more of this, my Emma,” Berkholdt said, touching her arm. “It is very sad and we have guests.”

Emma looked at Berkholdt. “But who would think, that my Sasha, son of wealthy Russian businessman from Vilna, to the United States would come only few months ago, and to join anarchists whose business is to overthrow capitalists like his father?” She laughed.

“Hush now, Emma,” Berkholdt grimaced.

“But of course, my Sasha,” Emma said. She forced a smile. Then to me:

“Did you know Miss Anthony will to speak tomorrow evening at Brooklyn?”

“Yes! Will you be there, Emma?”

“Oh! But I cannot go.”

Finally, MacDuff said: “Mr. Berkholdt, why did you and Miss Goldberg leave by Justice Schwab’s back door when you saw us there last night?”

Berkholdt squirmed. He started to speak, but Emma interrupted.

She struck the table with her fist. “Some men in movement, other anarchists, they are stupid! They think my Sasha speak of too much violence. But kings of Capitalism never willingly will to abdicate their bloody thrones”

MacDuff raised his hand. “Please,” he said. “My partner and I and I aren’t here to talk politics.”

“MacDuff is right, Emma,” I said. “We are here to talk about the plot to kill Miss Anthony why, then, did you and your Sasha leave Justus Schwab’s when we came in last night?”

Berkholdt took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. “I thought you, MacDuff, were of those men who think me dangerous to the Anarchist cause. In the dim light of Justus Schwab’s, you look like a man who once threatened my life.”

MacDuff gave Berkholdt a searching look. “As to our main reason for calling on you and Miss Goldberg, we want to know if either of you have heard anything about a plot to kill Susan B. Anthony?”

Berkholdt removed his glasses. Holding them up to the light, he inspected them for dust.

Berkholdt told us he had been walking one day recently in Little Italy, had come upon Gaetano’s Saloon on Baxter Street, and went in to have a beer.

“I know the place,” MacDuff said.

“Gaetano is a good friend of the people_a good anarchist,” Berkholdt said.

Berkholdt said he overheard two men talking at a table near his. One of them was Five Points Gang member Tony Daniello. The other was a man named Johnny Monk. Berkholdt said he heard Monk tell Daniello that somebody had hired a Five Points gang member to kill Miss Anthony.”

“Johnny Monk also owns a saloon, doesn’t he?” I said, addressing MacDuff.

“Yeah, over in Mulberry Bend,” MacDuff said.

“Did Daniello name the man hired for the job?” MacDuff said to Berkholdt.

“No, Daniello did not give a name.”

“Where can we find Daniello?”

“He used to stay in tenement on Canal Street,” said Emma.

“Wait a minute,” I said, looking at MacDuff. “I think I have seen this Daniello. At a caf in Little Italy. I was once in a play at a theater near there, and went to the caf with friends after the last act. A well-known anarchist Leon Czolgosz gave a talk at the caf that night, trying to raise funds. Czolgosz had hired Daniello to pass the hat.”

“Ah! But I see my friend Gaetano yesterday,” Berkholdt said. “He tells me Tony Daniello is now on way to Europe.” Berkholdt gazed at the ceiling. “But one never knows who is really on way to places.”

MacDuff gave me a nod. We thanked the two anarchists for their hospitality and information.

“One more thing,” MacDuff said. “Do either of you know if Daniello knows how to use a typewriter?”

They both laughed. They thought that Tony Daniello was too stupid.

MacDuff picked up his revolver and tucked it in his belt.

We retraced our steps back through the garbage-strewn court, past the reeking privies, past the leaky hydrant, back onto Hester Street.

“MacDuff,” I remarked after we had walked some distance, “you are unusually quiet tonight. Even for a Cherokee detective.”

“Miss Goldberg’s paramour, this Alexander Berkholdt. What do you think of him?” MacDuff said.

“You mean, do I believe his story about being an anarchist from Vilna?”

“Well, do you?”

I thought about it for a few moments. “I have reservations, MacDuff.

“What about his accent?”

“Russian, like Emma Goldberg’s.”

“I thought it sounded more like German.”

We walked a few more blocks in silence.

“By the way, Millicent, what’s Daniello look like?” MacDuff asked, as we strolled along Hester Street.

“Daniello, as I recall, is of average height, thin build with narrow shoulders, and is, I think, not more than twenty years old. When I last saw him, MacDuff, I thought he looked, well, unkempt.”

“Not your Dapper Dan, as assassins go?”

I was silent.

“Okay, Millicent. Let’s go and talk to Monk. Maybe he knows something.”

“Maybe he could at least tell us where Daniello really is right now.”