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The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth George Alfred Townsend

Letter V: A Solution Of The Conspiracy

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Six weeks before the murder, young John Surratt had taken two splendid repeating carbines to Surrattville and told John Lloyd to secret them.

The latter made a hole in the wainscotting and suspended them from strings, so that they fell within the plastered wall of the room below. On the very afternoon of the murder, Mrs. Surratt was driven to Surrattsville, and she told John Lloyd to have the carbines ready because they would be called for that night. Harold was made quartermaster, and hired the horses. He and Atzerott were mounted between 8 o'clock and the time of the murder, and riding about the streets together.

The whole party was prepared for a long ride, as their spurs and gauntlets show. It may have been their design to ride in company to the Lower Potomac, and by their numbers exact subsistence and transportation; but all edifices of murder lack a corner stone. We only know that Booth ate and talked well during the day; that he never seemed so deeply involved in 'oil,' and that there is a hiatus between his supper here and his appearance at Ford's theater.

Lloyd, I may interpolate, ordered his wife a few days before the murder to go on a visit to Allen's Fresh. She says she does not know why she was so sent away, but swears that it is so. Harold, three weeks before the murder, visited Port Tobacco, and said that the next time the boys heard of him he would be in Spain; he added that with Spain there was no extradition treaty. He said at Surrattsville that he meant to make a barrel of money, or his neck would stretch.

Atzerott said that if he ever came to Port Tobacco again he would be rich enough to buy the whole place.

Wilkes Booth told a friend to go to Ford's on Friday night and see the best acting in the world.

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At Ford's theater, on Friday night, there were many standers in the neighborhood of the door, and along the dress circle in the direction of the private box where the President sat.

The play went on pleasantly, though Mr. Wilkes Booth an observer of the audience, visited the stage and took note of the positions. His alleged associate, the stage carpenter, then received quiet orders to clear the passage by the wings from the prompter's post to the stage door. All this time, Mr. Lincoln, in his family circle, unconscious of the death that crowded fast upon him, watched the pleasantry and smiled and felt heartful of gentleness.

Suddenly there was a murmur near the audience door, as of a man speaking above his bound. He said:

"Nine o'clock and forty-five minutes!"

These words were reiterated from mouth to mouth until they passed the theater door, and were heard upon the sidewalk.

Directly a voice cried, in the same slightly-raised monotone:

"Nine o'clock and fifty minutes!"

This also passed from man to man, until it touched the street like a shudder.

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The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth
George Alfred Townsend

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