The Mystery of Monastery Farm

By H. R. Naylor, 1908
The Mystery of Monastery Farm

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Excerpt

CHAPTER I

A GREAT BANK ROBBERY

On the eleventh day of April, 18—, the officers of the Bank of England were greatly excited on receiving notice of a special meeting called for that night at ten o'clock, an unusual hour, and indicating, surely, something of great importance. Promptly at the hour appointed fifteen directors occupied their usual places in the council chamber. There were also present two paying tellers, which was not usual. Besides these two bank clerks was observed Major Andrews, the well-known chief of the Bow Street detective service, and by his side sat two of his assistants. As yet, there were only five persons present who knew the cause of this meeting—the president, cashier, and the chief and his assistants.

No time was permitted to waste. The president of the bank in a few nervous words asked the cashier to state the object of the call. Mr. Bone at once stated that there were strong indications that a robbery of the bank had been perpetrated; that a large amount of currency had been abstracted from the paying teller's room. Hence this sudden call for consultation; this, also, accounted for the unusual presence of Chief Andrews and his colleagues. He then called on Mr. Roe, the senior paying teller, to make a statement of what he knew of the matter.

Mr. Roe arose, and told that at nine o'clock that morning in his preparations for business he had brought from the vault a quantity of currency and placed it with other moneys on a side table conveniently situate for ready use. And that when, about two o'clock, he had occasion for its use, it was gone. Everything possible had been done to gain a clue, but there was not the slightest thing upon which to hang the faintest suspicion.

Major Andrews, stepping in front of the table, then requested permission to ask Mr. Roe a few questions simply for information. This permission was at once granted.

"Mr. Roe," asked the chief, "what was the general appearance of this money? Was it loose or in a package?"

"It was a neat package," replied Mr. Roe, "wrapped in brown paper, with its character and value marked distinctly on the wrapper."

"You say," said the chief, "'character and value distinctly marked on the wrapper.' Please to explain what you mean by these terms."

"I mean," replied the teller, "by 'character' that there were one hundred and fifty one-thousand-pound notes, and by 'value' the value of the package—one hundred and fifty thousand pounds."

"Mr. Roe," continued the major, "is it the custom of your department to have so large an amount of currency upon your side table?"

"No, sir," replied the teller, "but I had been notified that a large draft would be presented today, and this package came nearest to the amount spoken of; consequently, I selected and brought it to my table out of the vault to be in readiness to pay the draft when presented."

"You say you had been notified that a large draft would be presented. May
I ask who notified you?"

"The cashier told me this morning when we were getting ready to open," was the prompt reply.

"Mr. Roe, when did you last see this money?"

"This morning about a quarter after nine, when it was placed upon my table; I counted the notes."

"Mr. Roe, do you feel free to tell the Board the name of the party who was expected to draw on you for this large amount?"

The teller's head dropped somewhat, and after a slight hesitation he replied: "Major, I cannot do this in accordance with the rules of the bank."

"Ah! that is all right, Mr. Roe; I forgot your rules. We can get at this in some other way. Mr. Roe, will you tell us if you did cash the large draft today which you say the cashier had indicated?"

"Yes, sir. I cashed a draft for one hundred and thirty-eight thousand pounds."

"Mr. Roe, was anyone in your room during banking hours?"

"Yes, the president and cashier both visited my room; it is their custom and, I believe, duty to do so each day."

"When did you first miss the package?"

"When the large draft was presented about two o'clock."

"What did you do then?"

"I spoke through the 'phone to Mr. Bone, asking him to come in."

"Does not the porter come to your room occasionally?"

"He never comes into the room after nine o'clock."

"Cannot other clerks enter?"

"Not without permission. The door fastens with a spring lock."

"How about your lunch?"

"Our lunch is handed us at half-past twelve through the door which we open."

"Now, Mr. Roe, with your knowledge of the case, what is your conviction concerning this lost package of money?"

"Major, I am compelled to say that I have not the faintest suspicion as to how it was taken."