Press enter after choosing selection

Robbing The Bank

Robbing The Bank image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

A few weeks ago, whilfl staying at Atantic City, I met at my hotel ti gray-haird olcl gentleman, yhose couversation reatly inteaested me. He luid evidttntly een a great deal ot' the world, and was espeeially conversant with evorythiug connected with the banking business In a few days we beeame quite companons, and Mr. James Archer (for that was he nanio of my new friend) iuforined me bat he had been engaged in the bank msiness all his life, having at different imes füled the various oflices of oashier, lier, and President. ' 1 should suppose," I observed, " that he banking business offers fewer dramaic episodes than any other profession.'' " I don't agice with you there," returned Mr. Archer. " Judging from my own experience, I should say there are few othr professions which offer more dramatic cenes." " You have been an actor in some cenes of tliis character ':" I askcd. "I have indeed. Let us sit down upon his )nircb, and I will teil you what hap11 ii'-il to nie once out West." So saying, we fixed oursolves comfortaly, and Mr. Archer relatad to me the folowing exciting episode of his lifo. v ' : Soiue thirty vears ago I was cashier in a bank, situated in the city of Milwaucee, in the State of Wisconsin. Although a large place now, Milwaukee was at the time I refer to a long straggling town, I with a vcry rough elass of in habitan ts. Like all places on the extreme vergc of civilization, the law was aUu.ost. a dead e.tter. Iloise thieves, robbers and murlèrers were there in such numbers that hey struck terror ia Ja.v abidiflg citizeus, md no jury could be found to convict he most heinous offender. If it chanced o leak oui that any of the twolvo jurors wore in favor of 1 u i i;íí i i _: in a verdict of piilty, his or their lives were sure to pay the forfeit of their senge fï ] ustice. As a natural consequente of living in such a state of 6ociety, every man walked abroad with his life in his hand, and, without a single exception, every one went armed to tlie teeth. I havo known men to be shot down like dogs for a -word, or even a look. There were hundreds of men who made it tlioir business to try to piek quarrels with the botter elass, that they might get a chanco of killing and robbing them. You will readily understand that carrying on a bank under tliese circumstances was a most arduous task. Every om: of the vaults built for the specie and valuables of the bank were of the most niassive character. In faet, so umch was tliis the case, .that they becamc kind of' show place for strangers, and evt ry one who happej,Lci to be detainod in the tity m s suro to visit the vault of tho Citizens' Bank. Our President was a strong, powerful, energetic man, who had more th;m one ■ proved his courage in a meUe ; conseqiuntly the ruffians of the place kept him at a distance, and for tw.o years after the bank was started t one oftered to inolest us. We had orders from him to shoot down the first man that showed tho slightest disposition to be aggressive. Mr. Bxaotre,e, for such was our Prcside;it'8 name, was accustomed to mingle a great deal with the rougher portion of the community, thinking by tías nieans he might leam if there was any scheme on iqot to attack the bank. Of course these inquirios were alwayí made in disguise, and indeed, Mr. Braintree possessié. thc.rt.f}f so al tering his features that he could deceive even his own fauaily and particular friends when assisted by the aid of dress. He had carried out his plan for about two years without auything occurring to prove its necessity or usofulnes, when one hot July morning he eutered the bank an ho.ux earlier than was usual with him. " Good morninc;, Mr. Archer," said he to me, as he took off his íine black coat and put on an easy fitting blouse. " Good morning, Mr. Braintrue. You are early this mornwg." yeg - J hayo .something to teil you, and I thought t botter to lose no time. You must know, in the first plaoe, that I visited the 'ïhrae Swans' last night.'" The "Three Swans" was one of the lowest taverns in the place, and the reudezvqhs Lm all ,tke desperate charaeters ia the town and neighborhood. Therc was scarcely a night passod that souie onc was not killed there. " You visited in disguise, I suppose, I remafked. " Certainly. I was disguised as a drover, and had the extreme ploasure of being taken for a horse tliicf by all the scouTidrels present." " That is a compliment to your success in disguising yourscslf," I returned. ■I Yes - that's truc. I learned something at the 'Thrce Swans' last night, Mr. Archer, which noarly concerns us." " Indeed," I returned, pricking up my "You have heard of White Haired Bobby 't" said Mr. Braintroe. "Do you mean the great bank robber F I asked. " Yes, he himself. He has robbed more banks than any ten men in the United States. He has never failed in any one instance. His sucess in breaking into safes and vaulta has something marvulous in it. He works generally in company with a friend of his who goos by the nom de g u erre of Slippery Jim." " I have heard of that rascal, too,' I returncd. . " Woll, now for my information. l_iast night I learned that White Haircd Bobby and Slippery Jim aro about to visit Milwaukcc for the expresa purpose of relieving the Citi.en.s' Bank of its money and vulualilcs." " Thu duece thoy aro'." was all 1 could 8HV "Mr. Aroher, I do not inteud that this worthy pair shall acooniplish their purpose so I want you tokeepan extra lookout. I shall visit tho Tlirce KwansniRhtly for some weeks, to find out, if possible, the moment thuy arrivc." Six weeks passed away and vo beard no mote of white Haired Bobby or Slippery Jim. Mr. Braintroe eontinued to visit the Three Swaus nightly, bat heard aothing further. We oame to the eonclusion that the two famous robbers had changed their minds. and had gone toexerciso thoir onterprising profession in a different field. Wu had forgotten all about tlio matter, when one Baturday, in the middle of Uio ruonth of Soptenibor, whilo we were busLly engaged in uur varlous duties, a clerical lookiugiudividualenteredandasked to 8oe the President. The requeat was addressed to me, and I had in ozoell nt opportunity for observing his externul uppcaraiice. He appeared to be nbout forty-five ' years of age, of COmmanding presenee. Ilis faeo was frosh, fair and exoeedingly good looking. His hands were very white, and he wore a fino diamond ring on the littlo fingel of his right hand. Ho ' was dressed in a suit of black, which fitted him perfectly and must have boen made by a first-class tailor. It was this black suit, together with the whitest and stiffest of cravats, and a short-sighted eye-glass whieh dangled froto his neck, and whieh hu overy now and then raisod to his eyes, (hat gave hiiu tho intense clerical appearauce which I have refarred to above. " Do you wish to sec Mr. Braintreo on business ':" I usked. " Not exuctly on business," returncd the strangi-r, " but il' hü is disengaged I shonld like to see hini." " Hcrc is Mr. Braintrcc, now," I replied, as the Presidí ut steppcd out of his private room into the bank. " Mr. Braintrec," said the stranger, romoving Uis bat and spcaking in the politest tone, "illow me to introduce niyself. My name is Elliot - the llev. Itobert Elliot. I am an Episcopal crergyman, lately appointed pastor to a church in St. Paul. I ara now on my way tliere, but eaiuiot leave until Mouday. At my hotel, to-day, I heard the landlord speak ot the extraordinary safety vault you have attached to this bank. As I have a li'iiihant for seeing such structures, I thought perhaps you would let 1110 see yours, of which 1 háve huurd so niuch." . " Certainlv, sir, with great pleasure," replied Mr. iirtuiitroe, Arno, by the way, was partioularly partial to clergymen, doubtless because thcy formcd such a contrast to the iuhabitants of froutier settlements. " Mr. Archer," addcd my chici', " will jou bc goo'l cnough to light the dark lantern and acoompany usV" It wantod about twenty minutes tooúr usual time of closing the bank, and I had juat finished my work. Had suoh not been tho case, 1 should in all probability have seut one of the clerks in my place. There was notliing, howevcr, to prevent me from doiug as the President requested. 1 thetefore lighted a dark lantern, and we all threo descended the steps leading to tho vault. The specie and valuablos of the bank were kopt in an immense iron safe which was placed in u stone chamber. The walls of this chamber were . of extraonlinary thickness, and the entranoo to it wns through a massivo iron door, which was secured by an immense padlock. By tliis meana the specie of the bank was doubly proteoted, for even sipposing that a robber should suoceedin obiaining an ontrance into the stone vault, he would still have to force the immense safe, a matter of impO88Íbüity, aniega lie happened to possess the secret, wbich was turning the huiulle aroniul cxaolly seven t'mcs. Once moro or Icss would be of no avail. I nnlocksd the padlock, lea ving the key in the lock, arifl w.! all enterad the stone v.iult. Tin1 l'iv. Mr. Eliiot appeared to be stnmgely iut. resUd in tLo place. Ke gazed around liim in sseming vonder ; he nieusurod the thickness of the wall, and the kngth and breadih of tho Btone room. "Very secure! verysoeuro indeed!" he murmured. " You can set bank robbers ut deflance with a room like this, Mr. Br.úntree." " Yo -, sir, I believo wo can ; for even if i.ny o ie 6houll succeed in getting in the st ae vault, thuy would &till have the safe to fi re '." " Tiue, very truc," responded the reverend gentleman ; "butl notice one peculiavity aboit your safe," he added, glancing toward it as he spoke, " you haVe no lock on it." " It is not necessary," rcturned Mr. Braintrce, " for uuless a persun happened to know the secret of opening tlio door, I w.puld defy him to open it. You see," added the President, suiting the action to the word, " In order to effect an entranco it is necessary to turn the handle exactiy seven times." Aftcr the sevcnth timo Mr. Braintreo gave a strong pull, and tho heavy door slowly turnud op its hinges. The reverend gentleman glanced inside with excusable curiosity. " Vcry curious!" vory ourious, indeed . he ruurmured. How very curious is the ingenuity of man !" At that moment Mr. Braintree callcd the clergyman to sco somethiug else in the stono vault, and they both moved to the extreme end of the apartment. On into the safe I notieedthat two lédgers were out of thcir places. I entered the safe to placo tham in their respectivo cases, when eithpr the clergyman or Mr. Bniintreo brushcd past the safe, unconsciously knocking against the door as he did so, which gave it such ;m Ímpetus that itclosod on me and the bolts slid noiselessly into their sockets and I was a prisoner. There was an acoustic phenomena connccteJ with this safe wbioh I nover heard explained, and that was, any one shut inside it could hear evcry word uttered in the vault, while no noise that he might malie could reach tho outside. I was aware of this peculiarity, and know that it would bc useless for me to cry out. The only hope I had was, that whon Mr. Braintree missed ïn'c he would surmise where I was. But in a few momenth tbis illusion was dispelled. " Why, whero can Mr. Archer be :" heard ïïr. Braintree observe. " Oh,J[ re member now, he had an engagement af ter banking hours, and I suppose he has o-oneto keep it, butlthink he might have left tbo lantorn with us. But we can find our way out easy unough." 1 heatd theru le.ive the vault, the iron bar put up in its placo, and thü key turaed in the padlook. I realized tho fuct that thero was 110 hope for me. I was a prisoner, and thero I wonld havo to rumain until llonduy inorning. It was no pleasant thing to remain shut up there ftn-ty-two liours without t'ood or wateT, but there was no help for it, for I knew that all the goreamütg in Üio world would only bo M much lireath wasted. 1 therefore aetermined to take matters as philosophically as I uould, ana not indulge in uselcss ropining. Fortunately I hal in my pocket a totume of Shakespeare, aud the (lurk l:tti L rn WM also in my posseeeion. 1 wade a so;it foi myself of mme ledgers, and fcoming down tlm lamp to a point to wbich I could read convoniently, I began to enjoy inyaelf a wrll as the circumstancos oí the caso would jiennit. I read for fivö or six hours, and I can safely affirm th:it I nevor enjoycd Shakespeare as well before. Theabeolute quiei prevftiling and the fact of boing shut off trom íll exterior influcnces seemed to makc me appniciato the hiddcn beftuties of the gre;it poet moro than I ever did in my Ufe before. I read until I grow sleepy, and I thrn made a bed for inyself on the account books, tui ned the lamp down to the faint1 est glinimor, for the sako of eaving oil, and, closing my eyes, I was soon fast asleep, Wnen I awoke and looked at my watch I found it was ton o'clock on Sunday inurniug. I had thorcforo slept twolvo houfs. I feit vory hungry, but I know that I had twenty-four more hours to pass there before I could get anything to ent, so I dctermined to try to sleep as much of my timo as possible, remeni bering the Frenen proverb, 'Uni dort dine" I liad read a groat deal of Shakspeare during the day, and about eight o'clock in the övening I agaiu disposud tnyself to sleep. I was suddenly awakened by the sound of voiees in the stone vault, and naturally supposing thftt it was 1Í) o'clock on .M'Mi.lay moining, and that some of tbe clcrks wero coiiiïng to open the safe, I glanoed at my watch and found to my ''.:r;': Burprise that it was exactly twelve o'clock at niglit. By somo intuition, the truth struck me in a moment. It was soino one who had como to rob the bank, and tho reverend of the day bofore was a spy. Tho fint words I heard confirme! the truth of this conclusión, for I heard the ltev. Mr. Kiliot's voico exclaim touis confedérate : " Wcll, here we are in the famous stone vault - do you know, Jim, we got into it much easiur than I exptcted F" " ïhanks to your visit on Saturday aftornoon, Bobby, as one of the black-coatcd gontry." The robbers, thon, were the famous " White-Haired Bobby" and "Slippery Jim." " Tos," returned Bobby, " I think that l gamraoncu tüc tvvo butlers pretty woll You see, Jim, what it is to be a man oí' education. 1 should just liko to seo you in the part of the Rev. Mr. Elliott, and Boe what a figure you'd cut in it" " Tbat aiu't in my line nohow - but I teil you wliat. Bobby, you oan't bout me picking a kn:k." " You ure pretty good at that, and no mist.iki". But come, lut's go at the swag " " You are sure you haven't forgotten how to open the safe, Bobby 'f" " No, indeed ; thu fooi told me it was done by turning the handlo around seven times. Of all the blessed babblcs thut I over saw, I never siw any one como upto this man Braintree." I saw that it was now time for me to act. Fortunately I had iny pistol in my pocket with me. I drew it trom my pocket, cocked it, and turnod up the lamp to its full. I waited for the door of the safe to be oponed, roalizing fully that my only chance of overpowering the two rufiians was to tako them by surprise, for if I ullowcd them to recover front the effect of my sudden appearaaice, tliey, beiiig two to ouo, would soon overpower roe. I had not long to wait. I hcard the handle turn soven successive times, aad tlien Bobby gave a strong pull at the heavy door of tho 6afe. It yielded, but in a moment I stepped out with the dark lantorn turned full uponthe robbers, and with niy arm strotched out, holding the cockod pistol in my hand. The effect of my appearance upon Bobby and Jim w.ts ;'. solutely terriíic. Tliey must have tlxmght me a ghost, for they both turnod perfeotly livid with fear. Before thoy had time to recover thomselves I kr.ocked Jim senseless to tho floor with the butt end of my pistol, and, pringing upon tjie othor, I graspod him )y the throat and bore him to the ground. Fortune favored me in another respect, or 1 saw hanging out of the pocket of' .h3 ruffian 1 had under me, a long piece oí strong cora. lio struggled violently, )ut I was the stronger man of tho two ainl succeeded in bindiug him fast without rauch trouble. Wben I liad White-Hairod Bobby secured I turnea my attention to his com)anion, who,fortunately for me, remained n a state of insensibility. In uve minutos I had them both so securoly bound that thoy could not move íaud or foot. I left theni whilo I went o arouso the house. I proceeded first to Mr. Braintree's rooin. lie slept over the bank. I knockod loudly at his door. " "Who's therc? What is it?" he exclaimed. " Gct up, Mr. Braintree," I cried out. ' ' White-Hairod Bobby ' and ' Slipper? Jim' have made an attempt to "rob the bank. They are both now lj'ing in tho vault, securely bound." " You are jesting, Arthur," said Braintree, jumping out of bed and opening the door. " It „is positive truth. The Eov. Mr. Elliot, to whoui you so obligingly shcwcd the vault on Saturday aftcrnoon, and explained to him how to open the sufe, was none other than "Whito-Haired Bobby himself." It was a minute or two before Mr. Braintroo could roalize the nows I brought him. At last the truth bogau to dmvn on his mind. ' You say boih tho villains are sccurely bound on the floor in thü vault ?" " Yes." " But who bound thora?" heasked, becoming more and more puzzled. " I did." "Who helped you?" " No ono." " But how tho deuce comes it that you were on tho spot r" I then told him how I had been fastened in tho safe, and he began to seo through the f'ojj. White this conversation had been pro CTenixig, Mr. Braintrce had been dressin hiiiKilt. We went down together, sum nioncd the oiiicers of the law, and all pro ,■ led t shfl vault. We found our prisoners just wherfi I had left them, and in a quarter of au liour tbcy were safely lodged in jail. It was the last exploit of " White-Haired Bobby" and "Süppery .Tim," for they were tried, and public opinión having at tast been aroused at their terrible contempt of laws, human und divine, fchey were sontenced to tho penitentiary for life. Mr. Braintreo and tho diroctors of tho bank ooinpensated ine for my incarceration, deeliiringtliat it was the most "fortunate imjrionment"thateTerhappened.


Old News
Michigan Argus