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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


258 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. A friend of his, a Mr. Corbett from Stirling, had occasion to visit the Excise Office for the purpose of drawing money. Brodie accompanied him ; and while in the cashier’s room the idea first occurred to him. He immediately acquainted his colleagues with the design, and frequently after made calls at the Office, under a pretence of asking for Mr. Corbett, but with the sole purpose of becoming better acquainted with the premises. On one of these visits in company with Smith, he observed the key of the outer door hanging on a nail, from which he took an impression of the wards with putty ; and on the night of the 30th November, with the key formed from this model, they opened the outer door, by way of experiment, but proceeded no farther. It was not till the 5th of March following that the final attempt was made; on which occasion all hands were engaged. Their plan of procedure was previously well concerted, and their tools prepared. They were to meet in the house of Smith about seven o’clock ; but Brodie did not appear till eight, when he came dressed in an old-fashioned suit of black, and armed with:a brace of pistols. He seemed in high spirits for the adventure, and was chanting the well-known ditty from the “ Beggars’ Opera : ”- “ Let us take the road, Hark ! I hear the sound of coaches ! The hour of attack approaches ; To your arms, brave boys, and load. See the ball I hold ; Let the chemists toil like asses- Our fire their fire surpasses, And turns our lead to gold.” Brodie also brought with him some small keys and a double picklock. Particular duties were assigned to each. Ainslie was to keep watch in the courtyard- Brodie inside the outer door-while Smith and Brown were to enter the cashier’s room. The mode of giving alarm was by means of a whistle bought by Brodie the day before, with which Ainslie was to call once, if only one person approached-if two or more, he was to call thrice, and then proceed himself to the back of the building to assist Brown and Smith in escaping by the windows, All of them, save Ainslie, were armed with pistols. Brown and Smith had pieces of crape over their faces. They chose the hour of attack from the circumstance of the office being generally shut at eight o’clock, and no watchman being stationed till ten. Ainslie and Brodie took up their respective positions, while Brown and Smith proceeded to the more arduous task of breaking into the cashier’s room. Smith opened the first door with a pair of curling-irons ; but, in forcing the second or inner door, they had to use both the iron crow and the coulter of a plough, which they had previously stolen for the purpose. Having with them a dark lantern, they searched the whole apartment, opening every desk and press in it. While thus engaged a discovery had nearly taken place, the Deputy-Solicitor, Mr. James Bonnar, having occasion to return to the offibe about half-past eight. The outer door he The party accordingly advanced to the scene of action.
Volume 8 Page 362
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