Won seven pounds of any prizes
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The racing lottery
The owner of Gut Graeside, one of the nicest country houses near the northern English city, used to spend most of the year in the high Alps to cure his chronic breast disease there. Magnificently furnished and located, the English country house was nonetheless a source of constant worry for the sick owner because he had not been able to rent it out for more than seven pounds a week. At the moment it was empty again, and over the dessert cigar in the Hotel Bellevue in Interlaken he confessed how much he would like to see it if he could find a permanent tenant for Graeside. Mr. Burnstid, an accidental friend of Mr. Ferguson the sick, listened to the lament with little interest, but awoke to full attention when Ferguson began to describe the merits of his unlet mansion.
Mr. Burnstid was quite stout, and his gently flushed face with a nose of the same color showed more clearly than words can that he was no despiser of a good drop. As for clothing, its elegance could easily compete with the rest of the public in the elegant hotel.
"So, so?" He said. 'Well set up, eh? And is the neighborhood pleasant too? "
"You can rest assured of that," the unfortunate owner of this pearl among all the country houses assured him.
"The house is alone, you said, isn't it?" Burnstid asked, whereupon Ferguson explained again that it was completely alone and that no one could see it.
"Hmm!" Interrupted the now most interested man. “Are you renting out the house yourself, or have you hired a real estate agent to do it, Mr. Ferguson? I would only let agents do this sort of thing. "
"I've given the rental to an agent," the other reassured him, giving Burnstid the name and address of his English agent.
A short time later Burnstid said goodbye to Ferguson and went to his room. He immediately put the address Ferguson had given him in his notebook. That finished Graeside for the two gentlemen's talks, but eight days later the owner of the country house was pleasantly surprised by the news from his property manager that Graeside had finally found a well-paying tenant. Little did he suspect that it was Burnstid who had relieved him of worrying about the unlet Graeside, because he never saw the compatriot in Interlaken again.
Burnstid had taken the case to his associates, also two stout gentlemen who only differed from their reporter by smoking very expensive cigars. The rendezvous had taken place at the instigation of Burnstid in a hotel on Lake Geneva. Mr. Epstein and Mr. Cowan looked inquiringly at their partner.
"Well?" Epstein had greeted him. "What are the prospects?"
"Good," said Burnstid. “I'm going to send over seven hundred thousand circulars, not from here, but from England. I am sure that we will receive at least two hundred thousand applications, just as we did with the Caesarevich racing lottery. You can see that I was not idle during the winter months. "
"Fine," Epstein nodded approvingly. "So you think this Lincoln racing lottery will bring us success?"
Burnstid repeated with a laugh. “There is nothing to believe. I am sure of success! It'll be easier than peeling pods; A hundred thousand beautiful round pounds will surely jump out for us. "
"What rewards did you offer?" Asked Cowan, with great interest.
Burnstid took a tightly printed sheet of paper from his wallet and placed it on the table in front of him.
"Everything is here exactly," he said. “Jackpot: twenty thousand pounds, second jackpot ten thousand, third five thousand, fourth one thousand. Then there are ten consolation prizes of six hundred pounds each and another five hundred for each horse on the starting list. "
Cowan seemed satisfied. He nodded approvingly.
"These baits should be enough to lure a lot of birds into the twine," he said. "Wouldn't it be better if we increased the top prize on the winning horse to forty thousand?"
Burnstid shook his head reproachfully.
“Nah, my boy, then the idiots would be scared. Twenty thousand is enough as the first prize. You have to remember that the audience starts from a different point of view than we do. You know, or think you know, that we will earn something by organizing this horse racing lottery. If we were to offer forty thousand as the main prize, most of our little birds would smell a fuse. The Lincoln race isn't as important to justify as big a jackpot as you are proposing. No, our chances of winning must be on hand, not too low, but not too high either. I think my proposal strikes a happy medium. "
"Good," agreed Epstein too. "Who is supposed to come up with the money for the initial expenses?"
"It's going to cost us about ten thousand for the fun," Burnstid said after a moment's thought. “Of course, this doesn't include my personal expenses. For my part, I want to raise two thousand pounds while you each have to pay four thousand. The net profit, however, would be divided into three equal parts. "
After a short action, which remained in vain, the two partners agreed to the distribution plan drawn up by Burnstid for expenses and net profit.
"Where are you going to get the necessary personnel from?" Epstein asked at last.
"It's all right," Burnstid reassured him. “I was lucky in this too; I got the rooms I need cheaply; there are some rooms that were occupied by the War Office during the war. My new director is an intelligent young person whom we can rely on. "
This remark seemed to arouse the suspicion of Epstein.
"A young, intelligent person?" He asked. "Where did you get it from?"
"He's a former English field officer from a good family," said Burnstid. “He speaks German and French and gives the impression that he'll do whatever is asked of him for money. He seems to have the best connections with the authorities. I'll arrange the whole thing so that he'll be the right man if anything should go wrong. "
Epstein smiled faintly, Cowan grinned, and Burnstid laughed out loud at his own shrewdness.
"Do you think he's honest?" Asked the cautious Epstein. “We can't use crooks in this business. You know that, Burnie, don't you? What do you think he will do when he finds out that we have no intention of paying out any big winnings? "
"You can leave the worry to me," Burnstid said with evident confidence. “I know that for a thousand pounds he will go through fire for us. And because of the drawing itself? Well, you'll trust me with enough talent that I can handle it in such a way that he won't notice. I've already made provisions to find the future winner of the main goal. "
His partners in the noble game believed him this assurance, even without his giving them further explanations. That same evening, Epstein and Cowan went to Paris and left the rest of Burnstid to carry out their plans. The latter had really not exaggerated the excellent qualities of his manager. The acquaintance of the two went back to a chance encounter on the steamboat trip to Ouchy, and Burnstid, who was an excellent psychologist, soon recognized the young, intelligent-looking person for what he really was: an unscrupulous, somewhat talkative soldier of fortune.
After accompanying his friends to the train station and saying goodbye to them, Burnstid drove back to the Café du Planet, where he wanted to meet his future manager. He found him bored in front of a cold cup of coffee. At the sight of his future boss, he looked up.
"All right, Stevens," Burnstid reassured him affably. "My partners agree with your commitment."
"That is really too kind of you, Mr. Burnstid," exclaimed the grateful young man. "What a fine old man you are."
"Well, well, I'm not really that old yet," said Burnstid, because he was quite sensitive about age. “In short: you understand that with your commitment I have taken on a great deal of responsibility towards my partners, don't you? Because the business we have in view is not ... hm ... what one would call a ... hm ... regular business. "
"I understand, I understand," Stevens said to him. "I think you are a good sportsman, and you don't need to worry your head unnecessarily, because I am fairly unencumbered by what is called a conscience."
In a few words, Burnstid introduced him to his duties. It seemed to mean that Stevens had to sit all day in an elegantly furnished office and keep his keen eyes on the work of many young men and girls who were busy opening envelopes containing money.
These funds would be sent in from England, Scotland and Ireland by people who wanted to contribute their share to the great racing lottery hosted by Burnstid, Epstein and Cowan.
“You will take all of this money, Stevens,” the company representative instructed him, “and generally be the 'Boss of Janze'. If someone comes and wants to know who the race lottery organizers are, you will tell them that you are the only one who got things going. You will also sign all checks, incoming and outgoing. "
The man honored with such great confidence smiled in flattering.
"That means the outgoing checks will be countersigned by me," Burnstid gave him a shower.
"I think that's all right," the young man agreed.
Burnstid lowered his voice until it was like a whisper.
“Of course, it happens very often,” he said, confidentially to his manager, “that there are not enough participants in the lottery to pay the high bonuses that are suspended. In that case, of course, as you will see, the jackpots are reset, aren't they? That's only fair. "
Stevens seemed to understand this because he nodded in agreement.
"On the other hand, money comes in very often, but the expenses are so high that a reduction in the main profits must be considered here too, doesn't that make sense to you, too, Stevens?" Well, we usually do it in such a way that nobody at all can think that we have reduced the main prizes. "
"That's a damn smart thought," Stevens said enthusiastically. “You're saying, Mr. Burnstid, that the poor devil who would have won the jackpot won't see him at all, is he? Isn't that the trick? "
“No, it's not that bad.” Burnstid rubbed his nose in embarrassment and hesitated a little before continuing fully enlighten. You get a thousand pounds as a share of ... "
"... the Sore?" Stevens interjected sympathetically.
“Yes, that's the right name. We need to find someone who will act as the recipient of the jackpot. You know that the drawing takes place the day before the race, before anyone knows which horses are running. It could easily happen that one of our teammates guessed the favorite and would have to get the money. So we won't publish the names of the winners until one day after the race, because then you already know who had the winning horse, and among the many who are drawn to get the prizes, none of the others will know anything. So the thing is very simple, 'concluded Burnstid.
"Yes, really, you're right," Stevens agreed. “I already know how to do it. We have to run the lottery from a purely business point of view, and nothing in real business can be left to chance, can we, Mr. Burnstid? "
The other one smiled.
“Keep listening, Stevens. I've rented a country house in northern England - it's called Graeside - and I'm going to put someone there I can trust. The person in question is to stay there until after the draw, and I need not emphasize that the main prize will go to the man who lives in Graeside. If someone thinks they have been damaged, they can inquire in Graeside. The winner exists and will be able to answer any question satisfactorily. I intend to send my son Barney there. Nobody suspects that with this ... "
"Dizziness?" Tried his manager to help him choose the appropriate expression.
"No, that's not the right name," said the boss sharply. “Call it Company. In any case, my son will live in Graeside and be the lucky winner of the main prize. Now you know everything and if we are successful with our lottery you will get even more than a thousand pounds. I am not a curmudgeon and I like to reward loyal work. If there are really messes and any inconveniences, you must never forget that you are always the one responsible. You get paid and have to swallow the medicine, no matter how bitter it tastes. "
The young man obviously didn't worry too much about this question. If something really happens, he won't kill himself. May Mr. Burnstid be completely at ease on this point.
The next few weeks saw all of Burnstid's wishes come true.
His Geneva office, headed by Stevens, was functioning perfectly; the lottery had been well prepared and promoted and the success was commensurate. Postal orders and banknotes poured into the company's coffers in an almost inexhaustible flood. As much as the work increased, Stevens kept everything in hand and did not lose his head even in the greatest crowds. Only when everything was coming to an end in perfect order did Burnstid hit the first blow like a bolt of lightning out of the blue.
One day Stevens was urgently ordered to the Bellevue by his boss. Burnstid paced up and down the elegant drawing room like a captive lion.
"What a mess," he scolded. “Somebody in England found out Barney was my son. It's all the worse since Barney already lives in Graeside with his wife. "
"Hell, that's a really bad thing," said Stevens. "Now your beautiful plan has fallen into the water and you can no longer give your son the main hit."
Burnstid didn't answer. Then he cursed the curious newspaper writers in all keys. The reporters poked their noses into all things that were no one's business.
"Damn it, too bad," he said at last. "We don't even have time to find another straw man who could take on the role of my son."
"What is going to happen now?" Asked his director.
Burnstid pulled himself together forcibly.
"My partner, Mr. Cowan, has already made a plan," he said. “I think his idea is a good one. Have you ever heard of the Preller? "
“From the Preller?” Stevens smiled. "Surely there is more than one of them."
"Nonsense. I mean the real one, the famous bouncer! Just a few days ago there was something about him in the newspaper. He cheated a crook in London out of the fruits of his activities and stole his entire wad of banknotes. "
Shouted Stevens in amazement. "Who is he then?"
“The papers say he's a former officer who wants to make money easily. His victims are the crooks. It's actually very moral, "he added in a Pharisee-like manner," I think this preller's undertaking is very good. If someone steals, then it will serve him well if he is stolen again. "
"What does the Preller have to do with our cause?" Asked Stevens.
“Have a seat and I'll tell you.” After a pause he went on, “Assume that you and I will personally take the money to London after the draw and that it will be stolen between Folkestone and London. From the Preller, of course, ”he added to Stevens' questioning look.
"You mean it is not stolen, we just pretend it happened?"
“Right!” Burnstid slapped the intelligent Stevens enthusiastically. “Damn it, Stevens, you really aren't stupid. So we're breaking up the rumor that the preller stole all of the prize money from us. But we, my partners and I, don't let that influence us; we will pay half of the profits that were stolen from us out of pocket. "
"A brilliant idea," said the young man with admiration. "But you really got it."
“On top of that, our offer to pay half the winnings out of pocket even though they were stolen from us will be a brilliant advertisement for our next lottery. Our honesty will be admired when we have around fifty thousand pounds in bonuses alone in our pockets. In order to cut off the tip of any suspicion, we will invite the press to send reporters to the drawing. "
"I have a thought, Mr. Burnstid," said Stevens. “So that everything looks as real as possible, I suggest that we have two detectives escort us while we are taking the money that is supposed to be stolen from us to London. I know a man who runs an agency and I'm sure he could get us some suitable people. "
Burnstid was by no means delighted with this suggestion. He only agreed after much deliberation.
Exactly how the two envisioned things, they later played out. The drawing took place in the presence of members of the press. Two strong young London detectives arrived in time to accompany the two money transports, Burnstid and Stevens, from Basel to Boulogne.
"We brought in the detectives," Burnstid told the press, "to reduce the risk of transportation."
The plan he'd agreed with Stevens was simple enough. In Folkestone, the sack containing the cash prizes was to be given to one of the partners, who was to give Stevens a sack of old newspapers in exchange. The partner with the real money had to get to London by car as quickly as possible. The ship would arrive at Folkestone at dusk. In the confusion of the landing, despite the presence of the detectives, the sack with the newspaper was stolen. Stevens took on the task of staging this robbery as realistically as possible.
Everything went according to plan, with one exception. One of the supervising detectives got so sick in Boulogne and on the crossing to Folkestone that he had to get off immediately and stay behind in the city mentioned. Burnstid therefore only continued the trip to London with Stevens and one of the supervising detectives.
On arrival at Charing Cross station in London, Burnstid opened the money bag in the presence of the accompanying detective and when he saw the newspaper instead of the money, he cried out in well-played horror.
“We have been robbed, robbed! My God! ”He pulled a sheet of paper from the pouch containing the following words:
"With regards and many thanks from Preller."
"Terrible!" Muttered Stevens.
A number of newspaper reporters had gathered at Charing Cross to await the gentlemen who carried a hundred thousand pounds of banknotes with them to pay off the winnings. Burnstid confided the terrible event to them. Some of the winners also appeared. Their faces grew noticeably longer when they heard the myth of the theft of winnings.
"Gentlemen," Burnstid said to the reception committee, and his voice seemed to tremble with suppressed emotion. “The winners should not be harmed. I myself, yes I, will pay half the premiums out of my pocket. This promise of mine is meant seriously and may serve as a consolation for those affected. "
Stevens and Burnstid reached the hotel. When they were finally alone in their communal drawing room, they smiled at each other.
"Everything in the very best butter," said Burnstid. “You swallowed the bait like sugar. Wonderful, the advertisement for me, my friend. "He glanced at his heavy gold pocket watch:" I'll be going to Ealing soon, where Cowan will be waiting for me with the money. "
Cowan greeted him on the threshold.
"Do you have the money!" Asked Mr. Burnstid without an exchange of courtesies.
"Money?" Yelled Cowan. "You telegraphed me to wait for you in Folkestone tomorrow."
"What? You haven't been to Folkestone? "
“Of course I wasn't there. I just told you that I have a telegram from you ... "
But Burnstid was no longer listening. He hurried back to the hotel as quickly as possible to have a few serious words with Mr. Stevens.
But Stevens - better known to his friends as Anthony - was at that moment in the company of the two detectives, counting and sorting the stolen banknotes. With the help of his gentle friend Paul and the funny Sandy, the Preller had turned the pseudo-crime into a real one.
"You can count the ten pound notes, Paul," he said to his friend. “I'm sorting the postal checks I'll be sending back to old Burnstid. It's not much anyway, but it will help him a little to keep his promise to pay half the winnings out of his pocket. He officially promised. "
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