A TAILOR’S ADVENTURE IN EDINBURGH
A cautionary tale for visitors, from the Edinburgh Evening News, 3 Oct 1898.
The Edinburgh detective staff are at present investigating a case in which a young tailor, belonging to the Isle of Skye, got swindled out of close upon £10 by means of the confidence trick, in Picardy Place, on last Friday night.
About half-past eight o’clock that evening, the tailor was sauntering up Leith Walk when he was accosted by a polite and affable gentleman, who asked if he would be kind enough to direct him to the Picardy Place Hall.* The tailor stated that he was a stranger, and regretted being unable to give the desired information.
The gentleman explained that he also was a stranger in Edinburgh, and the two soon got into friendly conversation, and the tailor was invited to a public-house to have some refreshments.
A bottle of lemonade for the tailor and a glass of beer for the friend having been disposed of the couple were in the act of leaving when they were met at the door by a second ‘gentleman,’ who was also politely asked if he could direct them to the Picardy Place Hall. This he agreed to do, and by the time they arrived at Picardy Place the three appeared to have got quite confidential.
Gentleman No. I explained to Gentleman No. 2 (the temporary guide) that he was on his way to get some money from a person occupying offices in the hall. Money was no object to him, and to show appreciation of the friend's kindness in coming to direct him to the hall he offered to give him £15 for a loan of £5 until he returned from the office. The ‘fiver’ was merely wanted to show that both were equally honest and had every confidence in each other.
This rate of interest appears to have taken the tailor’s fancy, and he had no doubt of the bona-fides of the transaction when the guide, with every manifestation of regret brought forth £2, and nearly wept because he did not happen to have any more.
The bait was then next thrown skilfully to the tailor, who at once advanced £5 on his own account, for which he was to receive £15 whenever this new-found philanthropist got this business completed in Picardy Place Hall. He also advanced other £4 on behalf of Gentleman No. 2, to be repaid at the same time, and for which he was to be paid a similar rate of interest.
Having thus obtained from him £9, all his earnings,* Gentleman No. I crossed over to the hall, while No. 2 had occasion to see a friend along the street. No. 2 handed the tailor his walking cane, while No. I left his umbrella in the same safe keeping, and both advised him strongly not to leave that particular spot until they came back.
This took place about nine o'clock, and about half-past 11 the dupe was found by the police standing in Picardy Place carefully guarding an old umbrella valued at about sixpence, and a cane worth half that amount. It was with difficulty the man could be led to believe that he had been swindled.
** Equivalent to about £700 today.