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The San Francisco Sunday Gail
THE $250,000 GOLD BULLION ROBBERY T~> /"v It T!O the patrolman ■ ■ tli.-ft ol f j". rrlmlnatinsr The newspapers published lengthy. detailed reports as to the progress. lack of progress rather, of the case. There was not a Kenulne clew, not a suspicious character under surveillance, not an arrest, nor likelihood of one. The Imported detectives -were working bllr.dly. up aprainst a brick wall. The robbery was the most stupendous that had ■en reported in the annals of the police department. To the acumen of one man was due the final solution of the mystery, a simple solution when it came. ■Tack Winters a lad when be secured a position with the smelt lng and refining company. Big hearted In a way. ambitious to forge a likeable lad—that was Jack Winters. He started from Hip bottom rung of the ladder, gradually working hi up the scale until lie became an ex pert gold aasayer anil refiner. educational privileges hud been scanty. Ms schooling vague. His parents bp !rcg poor it became necessary for the coy to go to work when other lads were in the grammar school. Us was -. fairly good ron and helped his par - ■ nts along until their demise. There '"■as no one else, no young brothers or « Inters. Winters had nobody to take .•are of but himself. His record up to his SOth year had been fairly clean. He drank and smoked and gambled his pro rata—that was all. His work called for the constant and continu ous handling of huge gold bars and slugs, but even though he realized the enormous value each bar represented, there was no temptation to Jack Win ters In the handling of the precious metal. Then Jack met a woman and fell in Ibve. Ida Prazer was a sweet, pretty little country girl, unaccustomed to the attentions of men: a young girl born and brought up in a small village, ■where her wants and desires were com mensurate only with her lowly sta tion. Her parents were poor farming people, and their daughter was per fectly content In her own sphere, work- Ing hard all day long in her domestic duties. She knew no larger life. Winters lived In a little cabin about -. a quarter of a mile from his place of employment. He led a lonely bachelor life and it began to pall upon him. He was earning good money, spending it In the little village every Saturday and Sunday with the rest of the boys, . enjoying those holidays as any man ' of his impulses would. A country circus came to the little town lome miles away from the works, , Jack and his comrades attended. Ida Frazer and some of her friends came, also. The girls and the men from the works sat side by side on the bleach ers. Ida next to Jack. Her blonde head was In close proximity to his, many times, as both bent forward to watch a clown's antics of a rider's maneuvers In the ring. Jack stole a glance at her. She struck his fancy as a mighty pretty girl. She dropped her program. Jaok was there to pick It up. and that was how they became acquainted. Fre quent Jaunts to the city followed. Ex pensive gifts found their way to Ida's home. Jack was head over heels in love and did not care who knew it. Ida and Jack became engaged to be married. "Jack," said the girl one day as they left the theater, "I want to have an honest chat with you. To begin with, I don't want you to think I'm merce nary, but I've seen the struggle of my father and mother, and I want things different for you and me. Mind you. Jack. I love the pretty little attentions • you heap on me, but—they cost oodles of money. Cut them all out, and start In to save. The very first thousand you accumulate I'll be ready and eager for you. Now. Jack, you know I love you—of that there's no question. We know each other well enough now, and I know my future will be safe with you. but—" "Here, child." interrupted " Jack, laughing, "what dope have you been . reading? You sound Just like a novel I Just finished. "Why Girls Leave Home.' Just get hip that I'll take care of you, and cut the rest of the etory short." "Jack, dear," Ida continued, "listen, I'm not Joking now. I'm going to be sensible about this, It's too serious a ■ matter to make Jokes about, and is of too much Importance to me. I have been thinking about it for days and days. I've made up my mind quite thoroughly that there's nothing doing In the 'doubling up' line between you and me until—mind you, I'm from Mis souri—jjpu've Just got to show me. You're getting a good salary now, and you're blowing in every cent you earn, and In these mercenary days, dear boy, that's not business *"' Thus spoke the matter of fact, sen sible little woman, young in yeaTS, country bred' but wise. "O. X., kiddo," answered Jack, quite seriously; "you're on the level and you're dead game and right. I'll knock off on booze and gambling and start In and place temptation in some bank cashier's way by making weekly de posits and in a Jiffy I'll be to the good and we'll hike to Father O'Malley's, God bless his soul, and get spliced. Give us a kiss on it." Of course Jack Winters meant every word he said. There was nothing vicious or criminal in Jack's composi tion. He was just a natural weakling and a spendthrift. Months slipped by quickly; the weekly salary slipped from Jack's fin gers quickly. The good resolutions slipped by even more quickly. "Jack." said * Ida, "has the cashier you spoke about to me some months ago been tempted yet?" This"" was indeed a picturesque way of putting It. They had not discussed the matter since the eventful day Ida mustered sufficient courage to men tion it. --385E58 . •Has he been tempted yet?" repeated Jack. "Why. honey bunch, there's pretty nearly six hundred to the good right now. And in Just a little while you and I .ire going; to make a date, with the good father." ' ' ''Oh Jack," responded Ida, her bril liant eyes beaming with happiness, her whole being radiating joy. "now I really believe you do love me. You're a darling." - , - • , Enthusiastically and . lovingly she threw her arms about him. kissing him tenderly. He .accepted her. caresses afind returned them twofold. Winters c girl in his shallow W "Jack Winters," he ejaculated on his way back to his cabin, "you're a cur. a contemptible liar. You haven't c and you're queering' yourself with the it will evei come into your life." Winters entered his cottage, pi. It, tooh out his pipe. I were In direction were they drifting? Xo. he had not a red cent to his name. He spent his . wage as lie earned it. He loved Ida Frazer hon estly, yet he had lied to her. He had maliciously and deliberately lied.? Oh. he was a fine specimen for the husband of a simple, trusting girl. Jack Win ters for the first time in his life hated himself. a impish influence direct, mind to the wouks. He had never vis ited the place at night, hut he threw his pipe down and his foots' direct to the big smelting plant. He knew how to get in. Once inside, the man ivas nowhere to be seen. Stealthily lie crept to t: r room. lie glanced fearfully around. No. there was im so; human being In the vicinity. In the room, piled one on top of the other, were gold bars ; 0, perhaps more. Winters picked up one of the bars and hefted It. Again he looked stealthily and with suspicion around the room. He'was quite alone. He glanced at the window. There was a dim light burnlns; in the assay room. He looked up. What was it lie saw? A vision? He gazed steadily at the open window. He heard the waves from the bay beat on the beach. His eyes were glued/to the spot. The heavy bar of gold he still held in bis hands. A thousand dollars —and lif couM marry the woman he lovprl! A sand dollars—the sweat dripped his forehead. There by the win recognized the face and form of his sweetheart. He believed he i of her warning him, shaking mournfully. The man placed the bar <>f bullion back in its place and crept silently out Into the night. A few months glided by, and Win ters' weekly wage was frittered away with the regularity of the pay day. Again Ida asked him about the cashier and again Jack lied. That same night conscience and Jack Winters severed their relationship. He worked his way to the assay room with stealthy steps. He was fortunate. The night watchman was again absent from his post of duty. Fate seemed deter mined to make Jack Winters a thief. The works were in an Isolated part of the beach. There had never been a robbery or a crime committed in the peaceful vicinity, and the corporation had grown careless. The night watchman was indifferent to his duty, slovenly In his manner of going his rounds. Winters entered the assay room. His eyes fearfully sought the window through which he had before fancied he had seen a vision. Tonight there were no mournful eyes gazing at him. Conscience was left behind. Winters glanced about the room. The gold bullion -was not In Its accustomed place. The management had placed the shining bars In the vault. Tiiis Win ters understood at once. Now, hqw to get to that vault? The man was not an expert cracks man. Crime was utterly foreign to^ him. But he was a clever mechanic, and possessed of courage. He knew he must reach that vault. Reach it he would. Just a thousand dollars —pshaw,- a trifling Bum! Who would ever know? He was the last man in the works they would ever suspect. Had he no; with the corporation for nearly twenty years, and was he not one of its best and most trusted workmen? He smiled complacently. Ten bars of gold bullion would represent an inde pendent fortune. What should he do with them? How could he dispose of them, even If he did steal them? Quickly his mind acted. He woulJ steal them first, and then figure out their disposal. Clumsy of body, he was far from that in mind. He would smelt them somewhere himself, and dispose of the gold In some far off country. Gold was gold all over the world. He would not worry about that. He would resign from the com pany after a proper interval, and that no suspicion should be directed towarj himself he would deliberately mutilate one of his members, either a leg or an arm, and ask for a long lea absence. The accident could easily happen. He could catch his arm or leg in the leather belting of the ma chinery, and withdraw it after It had been sufficiently mangled. Yes. he was game for that. That was easy. The gold was worth the risk. Winters went to work. He told Ida that he meant to be very busy at the works for several weeks, as they were overloaded with business and In time she must not expect to lei often. For two weeks, night after Winters toiled as he had nevei before, though he was no Ind workman. He dug a tunnel und building of the works. sqUan vault. This monstrous job he ai plished during the hours of midnight on, drilling the vault finally and tracting from it bars of gold bullion aggregating over $250,000. Tl ■ even interested him for its own irrespective of its great result. It was cleverly done. He would have enjoyed telling the company what he had done in Just two weeks of early morning labor. But of course he could not tell. And now he had the gold, what should he do with it? Should he take, it to his cabin and bury It? No, that would not be feasible. There was too much danger of a slip-up, too many possibilities of detection and arrest. In a few short weeks Winters ha veloped Into an adept criminal, a clever, Shrewd thief. What, then? Ah, an Inspiration. He would procure a wheelbarrow, anJ when the tide was low h^ would bury the bars in the slimy mad. After a few weeks, c hue and cry would be over, be would extra< ■•■ one bj melt thorn him and then, Ida and everlasting wealth and happiness. Between the hours of midnight'and early morning, Winters wheeled the bars of gold in his barrow, anJ buried the precious metal in the slimy mud of the bay, returning to his cabin and sleeping the sleep of the just and weary. His labor was worthy of a better cause, but his sleep was not disturbed by any qualms of conscience. The gold meant to him —Ida. The following morning the news papers blazoned forth the detai far as obtainable, of the 1250,000 gold bullion robbery. Private detective agencies, in conjunction with the local police department, worked doggedly and insistently on the blind, baffling, mysterious robbery. Every employe of the works, from the highest official to the office boy, underwent a third degree examination, Winters included. Daily Winters attended to his work and returned to his little oabln. He dis cussed the robbery with his affianced bride, and even expressed to her the hope that the guilty one would even tually be captured. He expressed the keenest sorrow for his employers and joined in the efforts of the detectives in their search for some live, material !)i'P. But for weeks not a scrap of Infor mation could the hawkshaws glean. Every day Winters became more hope ful; every day the detectives became more hopeless. The works were still diligently and carefully watched. The detectives were continually on guard. Night and day Winters observed forms and shadows which he instinct ively knew were keen eyed sleuths. It was too soon yet for his next move in the desperate game he had played and was still playing. One night he called on his sweetheart. The old subject of his savings had never been renewed. Now Jack Win ters made his first mistake. "Sweetheart," he said, taking the girl's hand in his large, callous, grimy one, "it's just about time for us to go and see the reverend father, eh? You haven't spouted about the 'long green 1 for some time, have you? Well, I'm there, old girl, and I want to get busy with my own boodle before the bank cashier sets the itching hand, see? How you?" He grinned admiringly at Jack, darling," murmured Ida. ill really mean that you've saved the whole $1,000? You have it In the bank now?" looked at him with eyes full of tion. confidingly and trustingly. 1 noiv'" he repeated. you can just bet your at I have, and more, too. I <nt I could for months and months, and, besides, one of my '1 and left me some money; quite a bit, too. Say, how much ; think your old man would want ■■<>? I've had my eyes on it •me time, and would like to buy it from him. Do you think he'd fall for |S D "Oh, Jack, dear,, you just quit your j"kiiiK I don't tfelteve a word you aughlfigly. replied. "You're fess, aren't ■ "listen, honey," he answered quite" seriously. "Tin on the square about, this.'.l'm there, and; I'm there good and strong-, and m* and you arenever going to want for anything as long as we'reon the earth. As soon as .1 can- I'm going to shake the: company. I don't want to do it now, as I don't want suspicion directed; on me about that .robbery. I don't want to quit them un til they get the guys that did the job. As soon as: they: do, me and you ■ for the good father, and then a trip back r to the old country for us kids. Does it listen good, kiddo? But for a while just keep this mum. 1 don't care about your own , folks, but don't spread it. around the works. If the-bunch up there get wise that I have a barrel of coin there'll be 10,000 touches: and they'll make me come through, and I don't want any more booze, or treating the boys as long as I got you." "Jack.'.' she exclaimed, all' excitement, and throwing her arms around him; "I believe; you. You're; the grandest: man ■; on this earth,'" with another kiss' and hug,;"and I'm the happiest woman." .'.'Daddy, oh, daddy," She called: to an elderly man coming' in at the gate, : "Jack inherited : some money and j he's" going to buy, this place from you, Ain't It perfectly grand?" She hugged*- her father rapturously. She was simply, wild with Joy. ■:.;• • • . A clean shaven, well dressed man passed the Frazer homestead a day or two after the event of Jack's good for tune had become known in the ? house- ■ hold. The man . leaned idly V against ' the fence, apparently, interested 1 in» the : pretty little garden and the flowers, in full bloom, that blossomed -In t the bright sunlight. ■ : Ida" Frazer was watering the flowers. "Good ; morning," said the stranger, politely doffing his hat. "Good ; morning, sir." replied the girl, i pleasantly. "May I ask you the name of that particular flower?'"asked i the stranger, ; pointing to a : bush with particularly • dark colored red roses on It. "Oh, that," ' returned % Ida;' "well.:" I * don't really • know If iti has \ any name, i Just a rose, you know. Jack Winters brought me tome slips some time ago and told me to plant them. He saw that rose growing wild near to where he lives, and so many people have stepped to admire It. Would you like a slip?" she generously added. "Jack Winters, the ajssayer at the works?" ho Inquired, disregarding her kind offer. "Oh, I know Jack quite well. Good fellow, isn't he? See him most every day." "Oh, do you know Jack?" her eyes beaming, "and you think him a good fellow? I'm glad." She blushingly turned away. "Glad?" he repeated, quite carelessly. "Why?" "Well, if you must know," with all a girl's Innocent egotism and desire to take the world into confidence about her happiness, "Jack's inherited a big fortune, and him and I are engaged and have> been for some time, and we're going to be married." She blushed furiously. Her joy was too great to keep to herself. The news was too good to retain. She was bubbling over with the joy of living. Her soul sang with happiness and she must have every one happy with her. "Well," the stranger ejaculated, "I really congratulate you and Jack also. Why, I'll have quite a story to tell him when I see him. I'm sure. I trial oceans of luck. I didn't quite your name," he said again, emphasizing his apparent unconcern in the inquiry. "Ida. Ida Frazer," frankly, "if you're a friend of my Jack's you'll surely tell ir name, won't you?" "Why. surely," answered the stran ger, "my name is Edward StrOßff, at your fervico." Courteously he tipped his hat and started to walk away. "By the way. Mr. Strong," she called after him, "don't you want a sprig of the rosebush you admired so much? Perhaps Mis. Strong would appreciate such a beautiful flower." "Oh. yes. I beg your pardon; indeed I'd be very glad to have it," he hastened tn reply. She plucked the sprig from the bush and handed it to him. She watched him disappear over the hills. Strong had the reputation of being one of the cleverest men in the detect ive department. Keen, alert, splendidly <i, well read, also always well groomed, he could win the confidence pie of all classes. His reputa tion as a skillful operator had firmly established for many yoars. While lie invariably worked alone. ho cheerfully discussed his theories and deductions with his brother officers. lewa, his thoughts, however, were i. Those he did not share. l"pon his first investigation Strong realized at once that this was an In side Job. Some employe of the company was responsible in some way. He may have had outside assistance, but who was he? Every one of the men was placed under surveillance, his every action watched day and night. The works people were shadowed anil cov ered constantly by shrewd, observing detectives. The watchmen were closely questioned. The big officials of the company were suspected. All the men. were sweated and cross examined indi vidually arid collectively without "So .(a''k Winters money," cogitated Stroi Ida Frazer, "and not a soul ■ the works mentioned man being save Winters and the girl has heard of it. That's rather strange. Now I wonder " His speculation was interrupted. Winters was approaching. Hello, Winters," yelled Strong, "lot me congratulate you. I just heard about your good luck. Fine girl you've got, eh, old man?" "Hello. Mr. Strong!" answered Win ,ters, shaking the detective's hand, "con gratulate me? What for?" "Oh, I just heard one of your rela tives, had died and left you quite a sum of money and I—" . "The devil you did." Interrupted Winters, a flush of anger overspread ing his features. "Who told you that yarn? Some one's been shooting a bunch of hot air into you. 1 ain't Rot no money; wish 1 had. So lons, Air. Strong? Anything new yet in the case?" "Not yet, Winters," with his eyes ■taring directly into those of the as ■ayer. "hut I'm expecting develop ments daily." . left the detective abruptly. It the first trace of uneas'.ness the ad r-ver betrayed It created an Immediate impression on the mind of the qui^k witted officer. "Think I'll nn.se a bit around that man's cabin. I may be radically wrong in my impression, but there was a certain something in his appearance and attitude that's made me just a Strong fo inclination and his thought.--. • I Wfnters' cabin and gave !t a systematic search. But he developed nothing of any, im port. Had his impression been a mere vagary? Had this man Winters any reason to inform his fiancee that he had an inheritance? What was the motive? Why should he lie to the girl? Strong' had investigate! Winters' reputation and had found nothing wrong. He was the average young workman, fond of his liquor, gambling and sports, but no crooked, underhand ed quality in Jack Winters had come to light. Everybody liked and respect ed tii« man. In a little outhousn the sleuth found a shovel. It was a plain working man's 1. There were still the remnants of a peculiar colored mud on it. Strong examined the shovel and the mud close ly. There was no mistaking that color of mud. It was the same quality of earth that he had noticed In the tunnel that had been dug to the entrant*; of the vault, where the bullion was, where the safe had been drilled. The !!rst tangible, Important clew! :ian's eyes glistened. At. last a an important clew, that might lead to some definite result. Carefully Strong wrapped up the shovel and carried it away with him. Again he made an examination of the the 1 unnel. Vos. it. wa 'V.' How did Winters become tl of that .: "Why was It In his possession? What earthly use could Winters have for a shovel unless for use about his stove? Xshes and coal do not spell mud. The detective returned to the cabin and continued to search the premises and surroundings. lie looked for some misplaced earth. some tree with a, mark. He explored the grounds in and around the house minutely and care fully. Down on hands and knees he crawled about, feeling, scratching, fer reting, investigating each and every part and parcel of the earth. What were his theories, his deduction? Could is have buried the bullion some where around the cabin? A half mile from the premises the sleuth fell over a wheelbarrow hidden in the tall grass. T!ip developments were progressing with some rapidity. The shovel and •■trrow— whoever stole that bullion made use of that wheelbarrow. There were no footprints to guide Strong. From the works to the beach all the -workmen came and went by the same road. There was no trace of a vehicle in the sand. The footsteps of the workmen eliminated that on the morning of the day after the robbery. Well, if Winters were guilty he was the only human soul who could tell. Strong took the wheelbarrow and hid it where he could find it again. Tliat evening Strong returned. There was a light in the cabin win dow, and the detective rapped on the door. "Come in," was the reply, in gruff Strong entered. Winters, In his shirt . was smoking a clay pipe. He had a paper in his hand. He had been reading about the progress In the great robbery case. "Well." he said, shortly, "what's wanted?" " answered the detective, gazing directly. Intently, into his victim's eyes. "Me? What for?" 'For the robbery," was the blunt, de cisive rejoinder. "Oh, don't make me laugh. My lips are cracked," answered Winters, grin ning-. "Sorry for your lips, old chap," said Strong, his eyes never wavering-, "but perhaps the climate over in the prison may have a tendency to remedy your ailment." "What In hell do you mean? You're kidding me, ain't you." The man was nervous now. His derisive grin had vanished. 'Winters, old man," said the detec tive kindly, but with firmness, "I'm going- to ask you something and you can answer it or not, just as you please. Do you know ■what a hypo thetical question means?" "Xope." •Well, I'll tell you briefly. It Is a condition that involves a conjecture. You might call it a possible case. Just H> tins story, Winters, and tell at you think of it. Don't in terrupt mo until I'm all through, and on give me your opinion on the hypothetical question, will you?" The detective's voice was pleading; lie had thoroughly read the thoughts of the man he intended sweating. The third degree was a necessary quantity in the establishment of the Kuilt of the perpetrator of this crime. Winters was unnerved. His pipe dropped from his fingers. His eyes strayed uneasily about the room once did he raise them to the keen orbs of his inquisitor. Strong began his story. "Winters," he said, leaning his head on his hand, and still gazing intently at the man opposite, "Winters, sup posing I was a clever assayer and had a good paying job. Hupp. gambled and drank and spent all I earned foolishly every week. Then, for .instance, I meet a sweet young girl, and I come to the conclusion that I've been a clashed fool and that I'm going to change my life and try to save enough money to make that sweet young girl my wife. My intentions are all the best and I make up my mind to save. Time passes. I'm too weak a specimen of a man, and in stead of adhering to my resolution I go on throwing my money to the saloons and gambling houses. One day the sweet young girl asks me about finances. I'm so ashamed with my unworthy self that I deliberately lie to her. Further time passes. She asks me again, and I lie again. The secondjie is easier than the first. Then T get desperate. One night I take a shovel and a wheelbarrow and I go into the assay room for the purpose of robbing" my employer in order to make good to my girl. I steal some gold bars and I bury them, and then —" "You He, you know you He!" yelled Winters, his face ashen under its tan, his eyes staring, his huge frame shak ing with convulsive sobs, "you lie. I didn't —I never stole In my life. I'll kill the first who dares accuse me." The man sank back Into his seat. His body was bent, his head lowered, his hands clasped in front of him. Agony, despair, misery, were de picted in his guilty face. The detective quietly arose, took his handcuffs and adroitly slipped them on the wrists of the cowering wretch. "Now, Winters," he said, "do you want me for a friend or an enemy? I found the shovel with which you dug the tunnel to the vault. I found the wheelbarrow In which you removed the bullion. I'll aUmit I haven't yet discovered where you buried the gold. Tf you'll confess I'll do all I can to help you and will use all the Influence I have to make your punishment a minimum sentence. Don't you see tha company will be inclined to be lenient if you return their gold, while If you don't, yo u may get Jailed for life? You're up against it, man. You'd better have me for a friend, don't you think so?" "On your word of honor—you'll be on the square with me?" "On my word of honor," said the officer. Winters broke down completely. The evidence against him was hardly suffi cient to convict. The man was an in experienced criminal. He had not con fessed, a conviction would have been most unlikely, and the company would have been the loser. Winters ac companied the officer to the beach and pointed out the place where he had sunk the bullion. At low tide the officers recovered every bar that had b.een stolen. Winters pleaded guilty and was sen tenced to 15 years In the state prison. Ho served a few years, and through the Influence of Strong, was paroled. But Ida Frazer was dead. Her girlish heart, wounded in its trust and belief, had broken under the strain. She never completely recovered from the shock occasioned by her lover's confession. Perhaps the knowledge that had it not been for her he would never have been tempted hastened her end. Years afterward. Strong told the story tof ; his hypothetical; question and always ": concluded -by saying: "Of all the crimes and; criminals I've ever handled, poor old. Jack Winters was the ; softest. , We hadn't a .thing on : him. The evidence I ha* gathered would".never.;have recovered- a dollar,- If I' Winters'had.only^stoodipat. I al ways thought.?' and think so today/ that it was .the^ worj[^'hypothetical** that 1- was responsible " for the " break down. i' suess Winters ' thought It was.a cannon ball. I intended: hurling at him- or n. dose of «cyanJLfle . 11hfJL ! ready 'to hand to h,imj>Jr "''""' .