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HYPNOTIZING A DESPERADO.
Millionaire Southmead's Recent Experience.
B7 CLARENCE HERBERT NEW.
JOHN SOUTHMEAD is known to bo worth ten millions. Be
yond that figure his wealth is a matter of conjecture to those
who interest themselves in prominent men. Like many other
millionaires, his manner k unaffected, and he is not at all difficult
to approach. These facts were largely responsible for the dangerous
situation in which he recently found himself placed.
He had just returned from lunch at the Lawyer's Club, and was
alone in his private office, when a card was handed him by one of
the clerks, who said that a gentleman was waiting outside and
wished to see him personally. The name, "J. D. Braume," was un
familiar, but he gave directions to have the stranger shown, in and
greeted him pleasantly when be entered:
"Mr. Braume, I believe?"
"Yes, sir; and this is Mr. Southmead Mr. John Scuthmead?"
"That is my name, sir. Won't you take a seat (waving his hand
toward a seat by the desk and leaning comfortably back in his own).
What can I do for you?"
"Well, 1 want to talk with you on a little matter of private business,
Mr. Southmead . I believe you are the largest ttockholder of the
K. L. & W. roau, and that you also control the Iron Range system
am I correct?"
"Mmmm in the main yes sir."
"Would you consider a proposition to by the way, there is no
danger of our being overheard, is there? This is rather an import
ant matter, and I "
"None whatever, sir. The partition is a solid one, and the door,
as you see, closes with a Norton check."
Mr. Braume looked carefully about the room, noted the position of
both door and windows, then drawing from his pocket an envelope
containing a type-written letter, he handed it to Mr. Southmead,
saying as he did so:
"This letter of introduction will explain itself, and give us a basis
of understanding to talk upon."
Mr. Southmead took the letter, carefully adjusted his glasses, and
began to read it. Had any of his financial opponents been watch
ing him at that moment, they would have understood something of
the character which made the man a power in the commercial
world. Without the slightest change of feature not even a twitch
of the muscles he read as follows:
John Southmeade, Esq., Room 482, Smith Building:
Dear Sir:-I have in this satchel, which you see in my hand, an ex
plosive bomb of sufficient force to shatter the walls of the building.
A drop of one foot, to the floor, or an equally hard blow, will be suf
ficient tu explode it.
You will at once give me $300,000.00 in such form that I can carry
it safely away with me, or I will throw the satchel on the floor at
your feet I am a desperate man, and have no fear of death. Very
truly ours, J. D. BRAUME.
After reading it over twice the millionaire took off his glasses,
wiped them with his handkerchief, and then looked his antagonist
over from head to foot. Braume was rather undersized, with deli
cate features, thin, nervous hands, and eyes that at first appeared to
be pale and weak, but which, upon closer inspection, proved as cold
and merciless as those of a shark. Mr. Southmead, on the contrary,
wan a man in every line of whoee face was written "strength and
power. His eyes were steel blue but open and frank the eyes
of a man accustomed to command and be obeyed. His hair and
mustache were snow white, but one would have taken him to be
under sixty as far as appearance of age went.
For two or three seconds they looked each other straight in the
face; then Mr. Southmead said quietly:
"You will have to modify your demand somewhat, Mr. Braume,
because it is impractical. Although I am worth a considerably
larger sum than you mentioned, I haveu't over a hundred thousand
dollars in any one bank. You sole chance of successfully escaping
with so large amount lies in getting it into your possession before
the banks close, at three o'clock, and while you hold me hero power
less. I shall have to make out checks on different banks, and send
one of my clerks to draw the money you could do nothing with the
checks yourself. Now, if I make a draft upon any one bank for
over say, eighty thousand it may inconvenience them so seriously
that before cashing it they will send around an inquiry as to
whether it is regular, and whether I insist upon withdrawing that
amount to-day. All these delays would, of course, lessen your
ctianres of getting safely away with'your money. I think (looking
over the stubs of several check books in a drawer of the desk) that
the best I can do for you will be two hundred thousand at the out
side. Will that do?"
"No sir, it will not. Make it three hundred thousand or I drop
the bag at once." (This was said as coldly and as calmly as if the
matter were an every day transaction so col'Uy that the man's
deadly earnestness was undeniable.)
"One moment, Mr. Braume. . You say you are perfectly indifferent
to death. Let us grant that you are; but, even so, you would prefer
living to enjoy a large sum of money if you could do so safely. You
needn't answer me I know you would. Now, I am an rid man 69
last month and in the natural course of events, I can't expect to
live more than fifteen or twenty years. My affairs are all settled and
I'm not afraid to die. Still, I am willing, of course, to purchase my
life if I can. Your bomb will scarcely kill my young men in the
other office, so I don't bluff worth a cent. I have told you that an
attempt to get over two hundred thousand would be practically out
of the question. You will take that or nothing. Shall I make out
The two men looked each other in the eye for a moment. Then
"Perhaps you're right about the impracticability of drawing the
larger sum. Make them out for two hundred thousand, but I warn
you at the first suspicion of treachery, there will be an explosion
"Oh, I think that we understand each other (carelessly, as he rap
idly filled out the checks). You can look these over and assure your
self that they're regular, while I ring for one of the clerks to go and
"They seem to be all right; but that's your affair; its your risk if
they are not."
At that moment a young man opened the door in answer to Mr
"Mr. Bilder, here are some chocks I'd like to have you draw at
once and bring the cash to me."
"Yes, sir. How will you have it, Mr. Southmead?"
"Oh, I'm not particular; (carelessly lighting a cigar and offering
one to Braume which he declfced.) Say a hundred and fifty thous
and in bills of five hundred, and h bnlnr.ee in fiftys and twentys;
that will do, won't it, Mr. Brauraei- " -
"Well, five hundreds are a little inconvenient better make them
"All right. You understand. Bilder hundreds, fiftys, and
twentys. Guess you'll have to go to the cashiers personally you
won't have time to wait in line."
"Yes sir, I understand;" and Eilder vanished, wondering a little
at the magnitude of the sum, but never dreaming anything was out
of the way. When they were alone again, Mr. Southmead smoked
for a moment of two in silence, aud then asked, casually:
"How do you find business this year, Mr. Braume? I don't sup
pose the tariff affects you very much?"
"Only in scarcity of ready money."
"Been in this line long?"
"Well, no. It's a new departure for mo. I did very well last year
holding up trains in the southwest; but the large force I had to em
ploy knocked all the profits out of the business. A month ago I
made a neat thing out of diamonds, in St.: Petersburg, but there's
always more or less trouble disposing of them."
"I -hould.think the certainty of being captured, Booner or later
would affect your nerves. You can't expect to keep this sort of
thing up very long."
"Oh, I shall be able to retire pretty goon."
"Where to? I beg your pardon. That's your affair, of course.
By the way excuse my mentioning it, but I noticed that you seem
to be possessed of a strong magnetic influence I felt it when I
shoo : hands.with you. You must have a powerf ul.nervous organiz
ation. Have you ever studied the subject of mesmerism?"
"Somewhat yes. (Here MrBraune smiled for the first time, and
slightly relaxed his vigilant watch of Mr. Southmead's motions. It
would have been imperceptible to anyone else, but the wary finan
made a mental note of it).
"How did you come to go into it?"