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Title:
Knaves in high places, or, Nick Carter's subtle foe
Creator:
Carter, Nicholas
Publisher:
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Source Institution:
University Of South Florida
Holding Location:
University Of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
030649980 ( ALEPH )
10460709 ( OCLC )
C21-00029 ( USFLDC DOI )
c21.29 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Children's Literature Collection

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Book

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MAGNET LIBRARY-No.860 () ,.......,._

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NICK CARTER STORIES Ne1N Magnet Library PRICE, FIFfEEN CENTS N o t a Dull Book in This List JlllnllnlillllUIHIHIUIUlllOUll Nick Carter stands for an interestlng detective story. The fact that the books in this line are so uniformly good is en tirely due to the work of a specialist. The man who wrote these st o ries produced no other type of fiction. His mind was conc entrated upon the creation of new plots and situatio n s in which hi s hero emer g ed triumphantly from all sorts of trouble, and land e d the criminal jus t where he should be-behind the bars. The author of these s t ories knew more about writing detec tiVt stories than any other single person. Following is a list of the best Nick Carter stories They ha ve been s ele c ted with extreme c:ire, and we unhesitatingly recom :.nend each oi them as fully as interesting as any detective nory between Gloth cover& which seJ\s at ten times th e pric e If you do not know Nick Carter, buy a copy of any of the New Magnet Library books, and get acquainted He will sur J>rise and delight Af..L 111t.B:f ALWAl'S IN PRIN1 '550-Wante
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,1-.:,EW V AG NET LIBR l\ RY. 868--A Rope cf Slea<.ier Threads ........... By Nicholas Carter 8(.g-..-Thc Last Call .................... By Nicholas Carter b70-The Spoi.h; of Chance .......... By Nicholas Carter 871-A Struggle With Destiny ...... By Nicholas Carter 872-The Slave of Crime ...... By Nicholas Carter 8;-3-The Crook's Blind ....... By Nicholas Carter 8 74-A Rascal of Quality ................ By Nicholas Carter 875-With Shackles of Fire ............... By Nicholas Carter 876-The Man Who Changed Faces ... By Nicholas Carter 877-The Fixed Alibi .................... By Nicholas Carter 878--0ut With the Tide ........ By Nicholas Carter 879-The Soul Destroyers ................. By Nicholas Carter 88o-The Wages of Rascality By Nicholas Carter 881-Birds of Prey ................ By Nicholas Carter 882-When Destruction Threatens .. By Nicholas Carter 883-The Keeper of Black.Hounds .... By Nicholas Carter 884-The Door of Doubt ..... By Nicholas Carter 885-The Wolf Within ........ By Nicholas Carter 886-A Perilous Parole .......... By Nicholas Carter 887-The Trail of the Fingerprints ......... By Nicholas Carter 888--Dodging the Law ........... By Nicholas Carter 88<.r-A Crime in Paradise ..... By Nicholas Carter 890--0n the Ragged Edge ..... By Nic110las Carter 891-The Red God of Tragedy ............ By Nicholas Carter 892-The Man Who Paid .... By Nicholas Carter 893-The Blind Man's Daughter By Nicholas Carter 8 9-1-0ne Object ir. Life ... By Nicholas Carter 8 95-As a Crook Sows .. By Nicholas Carter 89()----In Record Time ..................... By Nicholas Carter 8.y7-Held in Suspense ,. ............... By Nicholas Carter & ;8--The 100,000 Kiss .................. By Nicholas Carter & J9-Just One Slip .. ................... By Nicholas Carter 900-0n a Million-dollar Trail ............. By Nicholas Carter 9 or-A Weird Treasure ................... By Nicholas Carter 902-The Middle Link .. .By Nicholas Carter 903-To the Ends of the Earth By Nicholas Carter co-1-When l{onors Pall ... By Nicholas Carter 905-The Yellow Brand ..... By Nicholas Carter 906---A New Serpent in Eden .............. By Nicholas Carter 907-When Brave Men Tremble By Nicholas Carter go8--A Test of Courage ................... By Nicholas Carter 909-Where Peril Beckons ........... .... By Nicholas Carter 910-The Gargoni Girdle ............ By Nicholas Carter 9 rr-Rascals & Co .......................... By Nicholas Cartet 9i2-Too Late to Talk .......... .By Nicholas Carter 913-Satan's Apt Pupil ... By Nicholas Cartel 9 r4-The Girl Prisoner ..................... By Nicholas Carter ;;.15-The Danger of Folly ....... ........... By Nicholas Cartet 9 t6-0ne Shipwreck Too .MaD,F .... ...... ,.By NichO'las Carter 917-Scourged by FW' --- .. By Nicholas Carter PAGE 4 .. NEVv MAGNET LIBRARY. 918-The Red Plague ...................... By Nicholas Carter 91g-Scoundrels Rampant .. .......... ... By Nicholas Carter 920-From Clew to Clew ................ By Nicholas Carter 921-When Rogues Con s pire .............. By N icholas Carter 92z--Twelve in a Grave ................... B y Nicholas Carter 923-The Great Opium Case .............. By Nicholas Carter 924-A Conspiracy of Rumors .......... By Nicholas Carter 925-A Klondike Claim .......... ..... By Ni cholas Carter 926-The Evil Formula ................... By N ichola:. Carter 927-The Man of Many Faces .......... By N icholas Carter 928-The Great Enigma ..... .......... By Nicholas Carter 92g-The Burden of Proof ................ By Ni cholas 'Carter 930-The Stolen Brain .............. By Nicholas Carter 931-A Titled Counterfeiter ......... By Nic holas Carter 932-The Magic Necklace ................. By Nicholas Carter 933-'Round the World for a Quarter ....... By N icholas Carter 934-0ver the Edge of the World ........... By Nicholas Carter 935-In the Grip of Fate .................. B y N i cholas Carter 936-The Case of Many Clews .............. B y N icholas Carter 937-The Sealed Door ................. B y N i ch olas Carter 938-Nick Carter and the Gr e en Goods Men B y N icholasCarter 93g-The Man Without a Will ............. By Ni c holas Carter 940-Tracked Acros s the Atlantic .......... By Nic holas Carter 941-A Clew From the Unkno wn .......... By Nicho las Carter 942-The Crime of a Coun t ess ........ B y Ni cholas Carter 943-A Mixed Up Mess ........... .... By Nich o las Carter 944-The Great Money Order Swindle ...... By N i c holas Carter 945-The Adder's Brood ..... ...... B y Nic h o l as Carter 9 46-A Wall Stre et Haul ........ .... By N icholas Carter 947-For a Pawne d Crown .... .. B y N i c hol as Carter 948-Se aled Orders ......... By N i c h o l a s Carter 9 49-The Hate That Kills .. By N ichE:>bs Carter 950-The Ame rican Marquis .. B y Nich o l as Carte r 95r-The Nee dy Nine ............. ....... By N ichola s Ca r te r A g ainst Millions ............. By ca:ter I 953-0utlaws of the Blue .......... By NichoL"' Ca, te r 9 5 4-The Old Detective s Pupil ...... By Nic holas Carte r I 955-Found in the Jungle .................. By Ni::h olas Carter 956-The My s terious Mail Robbery ........ By Ni c h o l as Carte r 957-Broken Bars .................. By Nichol as Carte r Fair Criminal ..... .... By Nich olas Carte r 959-W on by Magic ..................... By Nich o l as Carter 960-The Piano Box Mystery By Nich olas Carte r 96r-The Man They Held Back ............ By Nich olas Carter 962-A Millionaire Partner ,, ,, ... By N ich o l as Carte r g63-A Pres sin g Peril ... ,. By Nichol as Car te r 964-!\n A u st r a iian Klondyke ........ By Nic h o l as Carter 965-The Sultan's Pe arl s ... By N i cho l a s Ca r te r D o u b l e Shuffle Club By Nicholas Carter !)67-Pa;y; n g the Price .......... .. By Nichola s Carter PAGE 5 NEW MAGNET LIBRARY. 9')8-A Woman's Hand ......... ........ By Nicholas Carter 969-A Network of Crime ................. By Nicholas Carter 97<>-At Thompson's Ranch .............. By Nicholas Carter 971-The Crossed Needles ................. By Nicholas Carter 972-The Diamond Mine Case ............. By Nicholas Carter 973-Blood Will Tell ...................... By Nicholas Carter 974-An Accidental Password ..... By Nicholas Carter 975-The Crook's Bauble .. ,By Nicholas Carter Plus Two ....... By Nicholas Carter 977-The Yellow Label ........ By Nicholas Carter 978-The Clever Celestial ... .... .By Nicholas Carter 97c;>-The Amphitheater Plot ..... By Nicholas Carter 98<>-Gideon Drexel's Millions ............. By Nicholas Carter g81-Death in Life ........... By Nicholas Carter g82-A Stolen Identity ........ By Nicholas Carter g83-Evidence by Telephone ............... By Nicholas Carter 984-The Twelve Tin Boxes .............. By Nicholas Carter 985-Clew Against Clew .. By Nicholas Carter Velvet .......... By Nicholas Carter g87-Playing a Bold Game ................. By Nicholas Carter g88-A Dead Man's Grip .................. By Nicholas Carter 989--Snarled Identities ............ By Nicholas Carter 990-A Dej>osit Vault Puzzle .............. By Nicholas Carter 991-The Crescent Brotherhood .......... By Nicholas Carter 992-The Stolen Pay Train .. .. By Nicholas Carter 993-The Sea Fox ............... ......... By Nicholas Carter 994-Wanred by Two Clients .............. By Nicholas Garter 995-The Van Alstine Case .......... By Nicholas Carter No 777 .. By Nicholas Carter 997-Partners in Peril .................... By Nicholas Carter 998-Nick Carter's Clever Protege ... .. By Nicholas Carter 999-The Sign of the Crossed Knives ..... By Nicholas Cartet Jooe>-The Man Who Vanished ........ By Nicholas Cartct 1001-A B a ttle for the Right. ..... ,, ... By Nicholas Cartel 1002-A Game of Craft By Nicholas Cartef 1003-Nick Carter's Retainer .. By Nicholas Cartet 1004-Ca ught in the Toils ...... By Nicholas Cartct 1005-A Broken Bond .............. By Nicholas Cartel mo6--The Crime of the French Cafe .. By Nicholas Cartet Joo7-The Man Who Stole Millions By Nicholas Cartet 1008-The Twelve Wise Men ............... By Nicholas Cartet 1009--Hidden Foes .............. .By Nicholas Cartet 101e>-A Gamblers' Syndicate ... By Nicholas Cartet 1ou-A Chance Discovery ................. By Nicholas Cartet 1012-Among the Counterfeiters .. By Nicholas Cartet 1013-A Threefold Disapi>earance By Nicholas Cartet 1014-At Odds With Scotland Yard ......... By Nicholas Cartet 1015-A Princess of Crime ......... .... By Nicholas Carter on the Beach ................ By Niche.las 1017-A Spinner of Death ................. By Nichol.2.s Carter PAGE 6 NEW MAGN...ET LIBRARY. 1018--The Detective's Pretty Neighbor ...... By Nicholas Carter IOI9--A Bogus Clew ................. By Nicholas Carter rnso-The Puzzle of Five Pistols ........... By Nicholas Carter 1021-The Secret of the Marble Mantel. By Nicholas Carter 1022-A Bite of an Apple .................. By Nicholas Carter 1023-A Triple Crime ..................... By Nichol4s Carter 1024-The Stolen Race Horse ............. By Nicholas Carter 1025-Wildfire .......................... By Nicholas Carter 1026-A Herald Personal .................. By Nicholas Carter 1027-The Finger of Suspicion ......... By Nicholas Carter 1028--The Crimson Clue. .............. By Nicholas Carter 1029--Nick Carter. Down East. ............ J3y Nicholas Carter 11030-The Chain of Oues .................. By Nicholas Carter 1031-A Victim of Circumstances .......... By Nicholas Carter J03,2--I!JoUght to .Bay ................ '. .. By N!cholas Carter 1033-The Dynamite Trap ............... By Nicholas Carter 1034-A Scrap of Black Lace ........ ; .... By Nicholas Carter 1035-The Woman of Evil .............. By Nicholas Carter 1036-A Legacy of Hate .... ..... By Nicholas Carter 1037-A Trusted Regue .............. By Nicholas Carter 1038--Man Against Man ................ By Nicholas Carter 1039--The Demons of the ....... By Nicholas Carter 1040-The BrotherhoQd of Death ......... By Nicholas Carter 104r-At the Knife's Point ................ By Nicholas Carter J042-.(\ Cry for Help .................... By Nicholas Carter 1043-A Stroke of Policy ............ By Nicholas Carter 1044-Hounded to Death .................. By Nicholas Carter 1045-A Bargain in Crime ........ By Nicholas Carter 1646--.The Fatal Prescription ..... By Nicholas Carter I01Z,-'fhe Man of Iron ............. By Nicholas Carter Amazing Scoundrel ........... l3y Nicholas Carter 1049--The Chain of Evidence ............ By Nicholas Carter 1050-Paid with Death ............. By Nicholas Carter 1051-A Fight for a Throne ..... By Nicholas Cart e r 1052-The Woman of Steel ............ By Nicholas Carter 1053-The Seal of Death ..... By Nicholas Carter 1054-The Human Fiend .................. By Nicholas Carter 1055-.A Desperate Chance .... By Nicholas Carter 1056-A Chase in the Dark ................. By Nicholas Carter 1057-The Snare and the Game ..... By Nicholas Carter 1058--The Murray Hill Mystery ........... By Nichol11s Carter 1059--Nick Carter's Oose Call ....... By Nicholas Carter 1o6o-The Missing Cotton King .. ..... By N!chQlas Carter Game of Plots .............. By N1cho1as Carter 1o62-The Prince of Liars ................. By Nicholas Carter !o63-The Man at the Window ............. By Nicholas Carter 1o64-The Red League ... By Nicholas Carter to65-The Price of (.l Secret ............... By Nicholas Carter ro66-'1'he Worst Case on Record .......... By Nicholas Carter 1e67-From Peril to .. Peril .............. By Nicholas Carter PAGE 7 NEW MAGNET LIBRARY 1068-The Seal of Silence ...... By Nicholas Carter 1069--Nick Carter's Chinese Puzzle ....... By Nicholas Carter 10'70-A Blackmailer's Bluff ............. By Nicholas Carter 1071-Heard in the Dark ............... By Nicholas Carter 1072-A Checkmated Scoundrel ............. By Nicholas Carter 1073-The Cashier's Secret. ............... By Nicholas Carter 1074-Behind a Mask ...................... By Nicholas Carter 1075-The Cloak of Guilt. ................. By Nicholas Carter 1076-Two Villains in One ................ By Nicholas Carter 1077-The Hot Air Clue ................... By Nicholas Carter 1078-Run to Earth ........................ By Nicholas Carter 107\}-The Certified Check. ................. By Nicholas Carter 1080-Weaving the Web ................... By Nicholas Carter 1o8r-Beyond Pursuit. ..................... By Nicholas Carter xo82-The Claws of the Tiger ............. By Nicholas Carter ro83-Driven From Cover .................. By Nicholas Carter xo84-A Deal in Diamonds .................. By Nicholas Carter lo85-The Wizard of the Cue ............... By Nicholas Carter lo86-A Race for Ten Thousand ............ By Nicholas Carter lo87-The Criminal Link ................... By Nicholas Carter lo88-The Red Signal. ..................... By Nicholas Carter loS\}-The Secret Panel .................... By Nicholas Carter 1090-A Bonded Villain .................... By Nicholas Carter r09r-A Move in the Dark .................. By Nicholas Carter 1092-Against Desperate Odds ............ By Nicholas Carter 1093-The Telltale Photographs ............. By Nicholas Carter 1094-The Ruby Pin ........................ By Nicholas Carter 1095-The Queen of Diamonds ............. By Nicholas Carter In order that there may be no confusion, we desire say that rhe books listed below will be issued during the re ctive months in New York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance promptly, on account of delays in transportation. To Be Published in January, 1923. 1096--A Broken Trail. ..................... By Nicholas Carter 1097-An Ingenious Stratagem .............. By Nicholas Carter To Be Published in February, 1923. TQ98-A Sharper's Downfall ................ By Nicholas 1099-A Race Track Gamble ...... .. ........ By Nicholas Carter To Be Published in March, 1923. noo-Without a Clew ...................... By Nicholas Carter uor-The Council of Death ........... : By Nicholas Carter l IC:?The Hole in the Vault ............ By Nicbolas Carter T? PAGE 8 KNAVES IN HIGH PLACES; OR, Nick Carter's Subtle Foe NICHOLAS CARTER I of the celebrated stories of Nick Carter's adventures, which cl are published exclusively in the NE.w MAGNET LIBRARY, con ceded to be among the best detective tales ever written NEW YORK STREET & SMITH, PUBLISHERS 79-89 S E VEl"TH A VENUB PAGE 9 . I I .. 1. Copyr!gltt, ., By STREET & SMITH Knaves In High Places (Printed in the United Sta.tes ot America; i\i1 rights rese:-ved, Including tht of translation into furelga lngu.s-. the Sr.,ndinlvin. PAGE 10 rl I KNA YES IN HIGH PLACES. CHAPTER I. A MYSTERY COMES TO LIGHT. "\ Vhat do you think that fellow is doing? He seems to be anxious over something at the bottom of the lake!" "I question if he's in his right mind. I've been watching him twenty minutes before you came up. and he's been dragging away at the lake as if a treas ure were hidden there, and from his actions h e fancies no doubt there is one "Yes, poor devil, that's all he'll get for it." "I wouldn't mind to bet five dollars that he's an escaped lunatic-the chap who got away from Flat bush there days ago." ''In which case it is dangerous he should be at large," said the first speaker. "Precisely," rejoined the second. "He is a most violent lunatic, too, and has already tried to murder two of the doctors Besides, the de scription of Mike Berry tallies with him in the most marked degree. I thought so when I saw him drag ging the lake in the first place; I may be mistaken, though." "He has not seen you as yet, I think," said the other. "X o. In fact, he never turned his eyes; and if he did this clump of timber would have hi PAGE 11 8 A lvfystery Comes to Liglzt. its operations through all of the principal towns and cities of the United States, and that in its ranks could be found burglars of high and low degree, counter feiters and forgers the ablest in the country, rfot to mention the smaller fry of pickpockets and sneak thieves. Farmers, returning from Brooklyn and New York, after disposing of their produce, were often "held up" in broad daylight, and beaten and robbed with im punit;r. After about a dozen such complaints c9ming into the Brooklyn police headquarters, the inspector in charge of the detective bureau had decided to en gage to discover what truth lay in these reports. Goodrich was sent to assist him. And thus it came to pass that on this lovely morning in April, Goodrich had reached a fringe of timber overlooking the little lake, about twenty to thirty min utes in advance of Nick. The extent of the water was between three and four acres, and so picturesque in appearance that it was called Silver Lake. A more enchanting spot could not be found in summertime than this clear, shimmer ing body of water; and even as the trees were bud ding in the warm sunshine, Goodrich was fairly ra'.' ished with the sight which opened to his eyes. He was about emerging from timber to take a better view. of his surroundings when he espied the strange, wild-looking figure in the boat who so closely tallied with the description of the insane Mike Berry who, a few days before, had escaped from the Fl;;itbush Lunatic Asylum. PAGE 12 A Mystery Comes to Light. 9 It did not occur just then to GooJrich that the man in the boat could be the escaped lunatic, whose mania, as has been stated, was of a most violent character, and who had already made a murderous attack on two of the physicians, which might have terminated fatally but for the prompt aid of some attendants, who luckily happened at the time to be close at hand. For an instant the detective stepped from the shel ter of the timber. He was about to hail the man in the boat, when he thought better of it, and got in again among the boles of the trees. ,\s nearly as Goodrich could judge, the frail, corn111011-looking craft was about fifty paces from the shore. "I should like to know what that fellow is about," said the detective, as he watched the man's strange antics. "It appears he is dragging the bottom of the bke-for what? Surely not a treasure-tro\'c !" \nd thus he watched the man dragging the lake u1,til the arrival of Nick. "Well," said Carter, in reply to the last words of Goodrich, "we shall now see how much his cun ning will a\'ail him. I must get him to land by hook or by crook." "Don't alarm him or you may find it more difficult than you think," was Goodrich's reply. "] ust leave that to me," said Nick. \ \'ith which words he stepped out into the open. It \\ as a solitary though beautiful spot. Not a sound brok e the silence. The man in the boat had ceased dragging the lake, and y:as leaning on his grapnels. PAGE 13 IO A Mystery Comes to Light. His face was partly turned from where Nick stood. This was done no doubt to shade his eyes from the bright sunlight which shimmered and sparkled on the mass of waters. "Now's my time," said Nick. A yard from him was a little heap of peobles. Nick Carter bent over and picked up some of the pebbles. Then he threw one of the larger of the stones into the lake. Splash! The noise was so slight, however, that the man in the boat either didn't hear it or was so much absorbed in his reflections that he paid no atten tion. Another and another was sent-nearer and nearer the boat. Splash !-splash! This appeared to arouse the fell ow from his cogitations. He suddenly turned till the full glare of the sun was in his eyes. "Good inorning," greeted Nick, good-humoredly "What's the matter out there?" Without replying the fellow looked hard at the de tective. It was apparent that he had been taken by surprise, and no wonder, to find himself confronted so unexpectedly by a stranger. "Hello!" called out Nick. "Haven't you a tongue in your head, my friend ?" The man by way of answer burst into a rollicking laugh: It was so odd and infectious that the detec tive couldn't help joining in with him. "Oh, yes, I've a first-class tongue," he replied. "Now what do you think I'm laughing at? I'll wager you wouldn't guess, though you were guessing a year." "Perhaps not," replied Nick, to humor the fellow. PAGE 14 A Mystery Comes to Light. I I "Now I suppose you won't object to telling me what you are laughing at?" "Not at all. I was laughing at you, Mr. Carter." The detective gave a sudden start. The man knew his name! Could it be the escaped lunatic, Mike Berry? Nick concluded, after a look or two at the fellow, that he was not Mike Berry. But who then was he? "You know me, it appears?" said the detective. "Yes, well," was the pert reply of the man on the lake. "But of all men I didn't expect to find you here, Mr. Carter, and no man's presence is more necessary under the circumstances." "Indeed! Well, what are you dragging the lake for? Are you fishing for a treasure some modern Captain Kidd has sunk-or what?" "I am fishing for the body of a murdered man, Mr. Carter-and-by Jove! I think I've got him at last! Just an instant, sir. My grapnels have come in con tact with the body, I'll be sworn!" The man in the boat had resumed his labors. His implement had caught some heavy substance beneath the surface of the water, and pulling with all his might he brought the body of a man into view. The sun shone full on the livid, glistening face, from which the water was dripping. Over the right temple was a hole which might have o e en made by the bullet of a forty-two caliber re v o h er. "Yes, Mr. Carter, I thought I'd hooked the mur dered man, and I have." PAGE 15 'CHAPTER II. THE GOLDEN CLEW. By this time Goodrich had emerged from the timber and joined Nick. "You don't appear to be able to manage getting the body into the boat," shouted the detective, over the lake. He saw the man tugging with all his might, tiiJ lc.rge beads of sweat stood out on his brow. It was plain that something heavy was attached to the legs of the murdered man, which, by its weight, had kept the body at the bottom of the lake. "What is the trouble?" called out Nick again. "Can't you get it into the boat?" "They have tied a big iron bar to the poor fellow's feet. It must be a hundredweight, at least. But I guess I can manage, if you will only have a little pa tience. Another pull, a strong pull, and pull all to gether !" sang the wild-looking figure. "\i\Thy not sever the cords that secure the weight?" chimed in Goodrich at this moment. Hearing the strange voice, the man in the boat turned suddenly-too suddenly for himself, for he .lost his balance and fell sprawling into the bottom of the boat, to the intense dismay of the detectives, who, from where they were, were wholly powerless to help him Fortnnately, however, he held a good hold of thl? PAGE 16 The Golden Clew. 13 grapnels, and though the body of the murdered man splashed back into the water and disappeared, the sharp-pointed irons were still fastened securely in the clothes, and, of course, held on to them. "It's gone for good this time," said Nick. "My friend's voice took you by surprise?" "Not at all," replied the man in the boat, as he coolly picked himself up. "I admit the gentleman's voice was the reason of it, and the sudden surprise at hear ing it caused me to lose my footing. But won't matter much; the grapnels can be depended on; I shall soon have him up again." Will you tell us how we can help you?" shouted Nick from the shore. "No; unless you are foolhardy to wade into the lake, which at this season might probably cost you your life. And, let me say, pneumonia is not a very pleas ant illness to be down with. No, Mr. Carter, I am bound to do this job myself and by following your friend's advice I fancy I won t have much trouble in landing the poor fell ow. You perceive I am read y to act upon his suggestion-I mean your friend's." The man now produced a big dirk knife from one of his pockets and flashed its formidable blade in the sunlight. "I will speedily free his legs from the weight," added the s tranger. Then he set to work once more, and bracing himself up hauled the body to the surface of the water, then p a rtly into the boat. A few quick strokes. from the dirk knife severed the rope s which held the iron bar, PAGE 17 The Golden Clew and wit a splash it fell to the bottom of the lake. \.Yh e n thi s was done the body of the dead man was h au l e d into the boat without further trouble. "Can you mark the spot where the bar has sunk?" cried Nick to the man. "Cer tainly I can rig a buoy in a few seconds and put it there, for the cha,nces are we may need this bar again-as evidence The man laid considerable emphasis on the last two 'vords, and it was apparent to the detectives that he knew what he was about, too. Nick and Goodrich looked at each other for an instant as if for an ex planation "Guess I've been barking up the wrong tree," Good rich whispered. "This fellow is no more Mike Berry than I am the Emperor of Russia. But who can he be? This is the question." "Wait! He's coming to shore." The stranger, having arranged his improvised buoy over the spot where the iron bar had sunk, .now took up a pair of oars which he had in the boat and pulled in shore. It was evident that he did not appear to have much fear of the detectives, for, as the boat' keel grated on the sand and pebbles, he shipped his oars, and, throwing them to the bottom of the queer, frail-looking craft, sprang without hesitation to land. The sweat was rolling down his brow in great, drops, but coolly mopping his face; he said: "It was hot work while it lasted. It took me two hours to find the body. But I successfully accom plished my mission, 2::: o n see. PAGE 18 The Golden Clew. 15 His mission! Who then was he? Was he engaged in the same work as they-to investigate the mys teries .of the "holdups," which had taken place recently in that neighborhood? While the detectives were thus speculating, the stranger came to their aid with an explanation. "It appears I am an enigma to you so far, my friends," said he cheerily, "but I hope I shall not be long so. To you, Mr. Carter, I will start in brief to explain my errand here-which, no doubt, is similar to your own and your friend's, with whom, by the way, I have not the pleasure of an acquaintance, from the fact that this morning is the first time I have ever seen him--" "And the first time we have ever seen you," inter posed Nick dryly. "Upon my conscience, I don't recol lect ever having met you before, and, indeed, your voice is as strange to me as your "Of that I have no doubt," replied the other. "But, Mr. Carter, I have met you both in Brooklyn and New York. Recall the first of April three years sinc e within a few minutes of midnight. You were pa ss ing along Court Street. Just as you got to Atlant i c A venue you saw four men attack a lad barely nin e teen. They would have beaten him to death but for your timely arrival. Not waiting to inquire into the cause of the trouble, you assailed the four stalwart longshoremen as I never saw men assailed before or since. Down they went right and left, sprawling in the road, and ended by taking to their heels and run-/ / PAGE 19 16 Tl1e Golden Clew. ning in the direction of the ferry. I was the young man, Mr. Carter, whom you saved that night." ''I had quite forgotten the occurrence," said the de tecti ve. "But now you recall it, I remember that I purs ued the fetlO\ .vs some distance, and when I came back you were gone." "Yes; I was arrested by a blundering policeman, who, in spite of my efforts to explain, took me to the police station, from which I was liberated next n orning. Since that memorable night, sir, I have seen you often." \nd never spoken to me or recalled the incident?" Never." "Well, that is settled, said Nick. "And now what are you here for?" "\Vhen you rescued me from the rawboned long shoremen I was studying law," explained the queer lo o king stranger. "Discovering that iaw was not my natural bent, I threw up my position and joined a New York private detective agency, and I've been en gaged moi:e or less at that work ever since Carter and Goodrich looked at each other, amazed. The man did not look like a detect i ,c, and no one could believe that he was not nearer thirty than twenty-two. But an explanation came in the fact that he was disguised, and engaged on the same mission as was Nick and GDodrich. "And now let me explain still further," pursued Ramsey, for it transpired that this ,\ras the young man's name. "Four days ago a rich farmer named PAGE 20 TJie Golden Clew. 17 Renton, whose lands are adjoining Babbington Manor, came into our Broadway office and gave the principal details of a holdup through which he had passed little less than a week before. Not only had he been robbed of four hundred dollars and a valuable gold w atch but he had received an unmerciful beating. Then he g av e an account of others who had been attacked similarly and stated that it was his finn belief that these frequent holdups among the farmers of his neighborhood could be traced to a band of marauders who had their rendez vous somewhere in Babbington Woods. With a fe w more particulars he engaged my firm to investi ga te with the result that I was sent on here to see wh a t I could make of it, and if it were necessary to send m o re men to my aid. As it was a job I liked, I disgui se PAGE 21 18 The Golden Clew. lake, where this boat was secured-the other two re maining in the background as if superintending the ar rangements. It was_impossible to see any part of the men's faces, as they were so muffled as to be unrecog nizable, even though the moon had come out from beneath the clouds bright and clear, which, as it happened, it did not. / "One of the men removed the tarpaulin from the lit ter, and at the same instant a bright gleam of moon light shot through a rift in the clouds and fell on the face and form of a dead man," continued Ramsey. "In this sudden light the face of the unfortunate was horribly ghastly, and I couldn't help noticing the bullet hole in the temple, around which a dark mass of blood had congealed. I knew then that it was a murder, and, further, that the body of the poor unfortunate was to be disposed of in the lake. If I had any doubts about that they were soon set to rest. The four men, under the direction of the two in the background, carried the body to the boat and threw it in indifferently enough. As they did so I heard the clank of some heavy iron substance, then a torrent of oaths from one of the men in the background, warning the others to have more care, and to make as little noise as possible, as nobody could tell who might be in the vicinity. The men grumbled a little at this and one said: 'Do you think it will be well to let that gold charm go witj1 the body?' 'Yes,' replied the man who had spoken before, and I could see that he was strangely nervous. 'Yes, let it sink beneath the lake. I wouldn't touch it or havE! tQuched for a gold mine. It's an heirloom, PAGE 22 The Golden Clew. who!'!e age is hundreds of years, and whoever touches it it will bring nothing to them but trouble and dis aster. No, let it go with the body.' 'But it's worth a couple of hundred dollars,' objected one of the bearer s of the litter, 'and a couple of hundred dollars ain't to be picked up every day.' 'Do what you're bid!' came the stern command from the other man. 'Let the bauble go to the bottom of the lake with the body Now, my lads, move lively, and get this thing through before you are seen by any chance passers !' "This was enough. Two of the four men got into the boat, and, rowing out into the lake, they disposed of their ghastly burden by tossing it over the sicle of the boat. There was a loud splash that came weirdly on the hush of the night, and the moon's radiance broke for a moment through a rift in the oily mass of clouds and lit up the whole scene with a light as bright as day. After this the men in the boat pulled for shore, and securing the craft, they hurriedly left the spot and disappeared in the darkness, which ensued after that sudden blaze of light from the partly hidden moon. "That, gentlemen, is my story," ended Ramsey, "and it explains my seemingly insane antics on Silver Lake." Nick, who had been listening attentively up to this moment, now approached the body of the murdered man The corpse was clad in costly and fashionable gar ments, and the detective could see that the murdered man, when alive, had moved in a sphere far above the common ruck, and that, in fact, he was the world PAGE 23 20 The Golden Clew. would call a gentleman. In spite of the ghastliness of his face, he bore an air of culture and refinement. "But this heirloom?" observed Nick. Yes, the heirloom?" chimed in Goodrich quickly. "I think you will find it in one of the poor fellow's pockets," replied Ramsey, with apparent indifference "providing it was not stolen by one of the men wh0 rowed him out into the lake and who appeared to be so solicitous about it." "Just so, Nick rejoined; "such a fellow would rob the body if he could But it's little use speculating; we must search." Sui t ing the action to his words the detective bent over the murdered man and look e d through his pockets. "It's all right," he said a minute later "Here i t is, and a very unique jewel at that." The "charm" was in the form of a Greek cross, o f solid gold, and set with three small rubies, the latter sparkling in the sun. The gold itself was of rich, antique scrollwork, but sadly tarnished by the waters of the lake, which se. emed to have produced some chemical action on it which was a detriment to its beauty. "Yes, yes," musingly declared Nick, "here's the golden clew and through it may be discovered the iden t ity of this unfortunate man, attd may also be the means of bringing his murderers to justice." PAGE 24 CHAPTER III. THE PARTNERS. "This is properly your case," said Nick to Ramsey; "and, of course, for the time this is your proper t y "What?" "The golden heirloom." The young man smiled at thi Nick held out the valuable Greek cross, expecting nothing less than that Ramsey would take it. But both detectives were sur prised when the young man said : "l\ o, no, Mr. Carter. You must keep, it yourself. It cannot be in better hands." "But this is properly your case," again insisted Nick. "The honor of unearthing this fearful crime belongs to you, and it is you and you alone who should reap the benefit." Ramsey shook his head. "Don't cater too much to my vanity, Mr. Carter, he said earnestly. "I'm vain enough, goodness knows, without your adding 'swelled head' to the list of my other follies. No, no, my friend, this must be your case; without your aid I fear I would have a poor chance of clearing up the mystery. But I tell you what I will agree to, if you have no objection-and, of course, I must add your friend, too." "You are about to make a proposition?" "Yes; I trust one that will be agreeable tq you both." PAGE 25 22 The Partner.s. "Is it in connection with this murder mystery?" asked Nick. "Well, if you please, yes," Ramsey simply answered. "But that is by no means the main object. If I understand aright, you are here to hunt down this gang of robbers who have their rendezvous somewhere in the Babbington Woods, and which I have not yet suc ceeded in discovering Am I right in my conjecture?., The detective decided to be frank with the young man, so replied : "Yes, you a:re. Mr. Goodrich and myself are here to break up this band of marauders and d:rive them out of Long Island." "That's right," said young Ramsey quickly, "and I want to help you in a minor capacity. If you say the word I am with you; if you object 1 will return at once to New Yark and have nothing more to d o with it. Now it is for you to say, gentlemen, whether or not I will throw up this case and back out with as good a grace as possible." "You are too unselfish!" declared Nick. "Have y o u no ambition, n1y friend?" "Lots. But I'm not fool enough to run up against men of experienee such as you and Mr. Goodrich p os sess. I am content to play a minor role, if you w ill only let me. It's for you to say whether I go or sta y I'm sure I shall be o] some help-perhaps much more than you dream of." Both detectives could not avoid expressing their admiration of Ramsey's modesty, and at once agreed PAGE 26 Tlie Partners. 23 to take him in as a partner with and if any profits resulted from their investigations, to share and share alike. This point being settled, they found the young private detective under less restraint, and in clined to be more at his ease, and far more communica tive than formerly. "I think I can give you some valuable information," said Ramsey, "if you don't know of it already. It's connected with Babbington Manor and its former om1ers. It's a queer history, and if you should like to hear it I will tell you. But perhaps you already know it?" No, they frankly admitted that they knew little or no thing about the old place, and begged him to go on and give them what he had ascertained. Thereupon R a msey detailed the history of the old manor, as we related it in the initial chapter. "Very interesting-very much so, indeed," said Nick and Goodrich in a breath. "But is the present owner going to let his property run to waste, while he stays in England?" asked Nick. "He is not in England," replied Ramsey, with a brightening face. "I have a theory about this matter. You recollect my describing the two men in the back ground, while the others rowed this unfortunate man out on the lake?" "Yes; well?" said Nick. "You also remember the strong objection which one of the men had to have the golden charm removed from the body] Ii!! Qi b !!San heirloom whv::..= PAGE 27 24 The Partners. age must have been hundreds of years, and betrayed a horror when the man mentioned the appropri a tin g of it. D1d it occur to you, gentlemen, that this w a s no eommon murder, and had everything to do wit h the possession of the Babbington acres?" Then, turning with sudden dramatic fervor t o wa r d the corpse which still lay in the boat, he exclaimed : "There, gentlemen, lies the owner of the Bab b i ng ton e state-cold and rigid in death t" "But this i s only a theory," Nick hastened t o add "You cannot prove what you advance. "A theory-yes," Ramsey answered, "but a the o ry which rests on a big mountain of truth, as y o u will find-maybe sooner than you dream of. I t ell you gentlemen, that this unfortunate young man-he c a nn o t be more than two or three and thirty-had been inveigled from England for a purpose, the re s ult s o f which you s e e now. Yes, he was enticed over h e re to murde r him, and his cruel taking off may be attributed to one of the two men in the background-who m I have alread y alluded to-pe rhaps t o b o th. Now, gen tlemen, may I venture on a sugge stion?" asked Ram sey. "Certainly. Proceed," responded the detecti ves. "The sug-gestion is that we make a thorough searc h of the clothes of the murdered man. Something in t h e pockets--even a slip of paper-may ft1rni s h a further clew to this murder mystery." "That's so," rejoined Carter. "Even the poor fellow's linen or underclothing may serve to identify him. PAGE 28 The Partners. 25 We'll appoint you as searcher, Goodrich, knowing, as I do, that little of ariy value escapes your practiced eye." The first thing the detective did was to open the wai s tcoat of the dead man. l PAGE 29 CHAPTER IV. THE BODY DISAPPEARS. The criminals leave many things undone which they should not have overlooked-and which have been the means of bringing their crimes directly home to them, with little more than an effort on the part of the police. In an inner pocket of the murdered man's waistcoat Goodrich found a letter addressed: "Ernest Brabazon, 44 Woburn Square, London, W. E." "\i\That is it?" asked Nick. "A letter. I've always said a criminal is a fool-and this proves it once more." "The letter may have been a decoy; read it, please." The writing was somewhat blurred by the water o f the lake, which induced Goodrich to be doubly careful how he handled the paper, especially during its remo v al from the envelope. He soon had everything smoothed out, however; and 1.he sheet of note paper, though wet, was not otherwis e damaged, the writing being legible all th.rough. "Be careful how you handle the letter," warned Nick. "The least thing will blur writing, and may make its worthless." "You leave that to me," replied Goodrich quietly No infant was ever handled more tenclerly than the note. "This may prove as good a s a treasure-trcwP. PAGE 30 The Body Disappears. "Well, I hope it turns o u t a s you say," rep l ied Car ter. "But go on. Let"s hear what's in the lette r." "\Vell, here goes. The h and is cramped somewhat, but I guess I can make everything out a ll right; if no t I shall pass it to you. "Here goes: "DEAR CouSIN: I cann o t h e lp expressing my surprise that y o u will in sist in l etting your property go t o min. N o more gloriou s s p o t in t his -county-where e\ crything is on the grandest, mo s t magnificent scalethan your pro perty, Babbington Manor! In summer i t i s a ery p a radi se of flowers plants, and grand old t re e s-some o f the latter a thousand years old, if they are a clay. Besides, the estate is the most valuable one on Long I s land. It is a thousand pities you should p roy e such an indifferent owner. Even the favoured o l l mano r house is going to decay, and if this destruc t i 0 n is allowed to continue, you may take my word for i t t h a t Babbington's broad acres will soon be worth n e x t t o n othing-an absolute drug in the market, so t o s peak. l\Iy advice is that you set sail immediately f o r t hese liberty-loving shores, .and prove to me that you h a \'C s o me of your old energy still left. I shall e xpect y o u. a t the latest, four weeks after you receive the incl osecl. Y our sincere friend and cousin, "EVERARD THROGMORTON. E Yerarcl Throgmorton, eh?" said Nick. "This, th e n, i s the man we must find. He's an Englishman, t oo, 1'11 be sw orn." "Yes, and his spelling is the spelling of an English m a n ," Goodrich declared; "for instance, in the word fa \ o red, which he spe lls-f-a-v-o-u-r-e-d." PAGE 31 The Body Disappears. "We'll never mind his orthography; the name is good enough for me," interjected Nick. "The first thing to do now," proceeded Carter, "is to remove the body from the boat and conceal it in the timber. The next, to summon the coroner and a jury." "According to law," ventured Ramsey, "the body of the murdered man shouldn t be touched until the coro ner sees it. I believe there is a penalty attached to such action." "Not in this case," chimed in Nick. "If we lea:-e the body in the boat, ten to one but some of those fellows will see it that were here last night. This would put the111 on their guard, and soon Mr. Throg morton would be conspicuous by his absence. No; we shall remove the body into the timber." "Guess the best way to settle it is to remoye it at once," said Goodrich. This was done. Then the detectives ha stened into the main road in search of the coroner and a justice of the peace. While they are away on this mission, let us see what else takes place. It is generally the unexpected that occurs. The detectives were wholly ignorant that t hey had been watched by keen eyes wh i le the body was b eing drawn up from the bottom of .the lake, and sub s e quently, when it was concealed among the trees. On the west side of Silver Lake was a dense clump of trees-pines, larches, and elms Here a dozen men could easily 11icle themselve s without being see:t'l. Amid PAGE 32 The Body .Disappears. 29 the intricacies of this clump, as it happened, were two strongly built, roughly clad men. They had been com ing through the woods, when their attention was riv eted by sounds from the lake. They stopped a moment and listened. A loud splashing ascended from the water, but as they were too far away to see what was occurring, they concluded to steal up to the brow of a little hillock, where the trees were The sight that caught their eyes startled them. There was the strange, wild figure-such as we have de scribed Ramsey to be-dragging with grapnels the bottom of the sheet of water. One of the two men, as it turned out, was connected with the sinking of the body of the murdered man the night before, and as he gazed a torrent of muttered profanity left his lips. This man went under the euphonious cognomen of Scaldy Bill. "Well, Scaldy," demanded his companion, "what's all these half-expressed prayers about? It would ap pear as how you knew the cuss." "No, I don't know him, and I don't wanter," growled Scaldy Bill. "But it happens as he's just got on to a rackit that'll }and a baker's dozen of us by the heels." "Indeed! What's the matter with him? Is he loony?'' "No more loony than you are," snarled Scaldy B:Jl. "He's a detective." "A detective?" "Yes, a detective." "He looks more liks an escaped lunatic. But whJ..t .. PAGE 33 30 'l'he Body Disappears he dragging the lake for? Does he expect to fini a treasure at the bottom?" Before Scaldy Bill could reply, Mr. Goodrich had been drawn to the spot. In his surprise to discover what the man in the boat was doing he had emerged from among the timber. "Hum! there's another of 'em," interjected Scaldy Dill, swearing, "one of the sharpest detectives on Long I s land. His name is Goodrich; curse him!" When they saw Goodrich slip back again among the ti111ber, Scaldy Bill wasn't so sure that the wild look ing fellow dragging the lake was a detective. "Guess I was wrong in sayin' that feller was a cop," h e ground out. "If he was, Goodrich wouldn't have adecl as he did-gettin' back into his hidin' place." "You didn't say what was in the lake," said Jim Hartrey, for such was the man's name, as a reminder that Scaldy Bill had not as yet enlightened him on 1 ;w t point. "\Vater, -you fool! water," growled the other, en PAGE 34 The Body Disappears. 'After this occurred a seemingly spirited colloquy between Nick, Goodrich, and Ramsey, not a word of which they could hear.' Then came the searching of the pockets, and finally the bearing of the body in among the timber. "Them ducks is 1aborin under the deloosion that they have not been seen,'' snorted Scaldy Bill, when the trio of detectives had left the spot, "but we'!! go them one better, Jim." Then Scaldy Bill concocted a nice little story about the body-just to satisfy Jim Hartrey, as he subse quently expressed it. "Now as yer know all, ole fel," said Bill, "guess we'll move on the works of the enemy, an' see where theyve chucked thet body.'' "Where do you think they've gone?" asked Hartrey. "Where? Why, fer the coroner, o' course. But when they gets back they finds no body-see?" .\llowing the detectives time to get away a good dis tance, Scaldy Bill and his companion left their hiding place, and circling the little lake, got in among the fringe of woods where the body had been left. Ten minutes of a search led to the discovery of where the body had been hidden under a thick covering of de cayed leaves and branches. Having found the body and marked the exact spot where it lay, the two men betook themselves off, and their strong, rugged forms were soon lost in the denser portions of the woodland. An hour later Carter, Goodrich, and Ramsey got back to the little lake. The coroner of the district, justice of the peace, and several men to act as a jury ac- PAGE 35 The Body Disappears. -companied them. The coroner's name was Philip O'Ilanlon, a medical student, who had once studied theology for the priesthood, and failing in the latter, had taken up medicine. A pompous little gentleman was O'Hanlon. He regarded the justice of the peace as a nobody who knew neither law nor manners. "Now, coroner," said the justice "I guess we'll start in." "You guess you'll what, sir?" queried the coroner, frowning. "Look after that body. Show us the spot where you left it, Mr. Carter." Another frown from the coroner, and a look of un mitigated contempt, which had no effect whatever on the dapper little justice, who had been a tailor pro fessionally until he had taken up the law as a justice. Nick, amused at the airs of O'Hanlon, led the way t o where he had left the body of the murdered man. "This is where we hid it," said he, indicating a spot a few yards to their right. Rut the place was searched m vam. The body ef Ernest Brabazol'l was gone! PAGE 36 CHAPTER V. THE CON SPIRA TORS. The, plot that culminated in the murder of Brabazon had its origin in London, and there we shall now proceed by retracing our steps to a period some tluee or four months before. The time is night, the scene an old house on one of the side streets leading from the Strand to the River Thames. The dramatis pers0me, two fashionably dressed men, and the apartment a cozy sitting room on the second floor of said house, from which one had an excellent view of the flashing lights of the Thames Embankment; and, as it was the end house of the street; Westminster Bridge and the houses of parlia ment likewise came in full view, with the giant clock, "Big Ben," the pride of the English capital. The two well-dressed gentlemen were1 and had been for an hour previously, in earnest conversation. It appears that earlier that day the younger of the mennamely, Captain Edward Throgmorton-had called upon Ernest Brabazon, of vVoburn Square, W. E. The reader has been already informed that Throgmorton was th wealthy young aristocrat's cousin, but the reader has not been told that the gallant captain had been sent out of the army in disgrace for gross misconduct, and that he. w:u now a frequenter of the race courses and living more or less by his wits. Vv e can all understand what kind of a man this is- PAGE 37 34 The Conspirators. utterly a bully and a blackguard; and let us add, so we do not miss even one of his good qualities, a blackleg. Still Edward Throgmorton bore the look of a refined and cultured gentleman. The university had done 1111,lCh for him and his experience as an officer in a crack regiment of cavalry had completed his education as a man of the world. His companion, Major Mesurier, was also a man of parts, had served in the regular army of the United States, and h av ing ?bsconded with a considerable sum of money, the property of Uncle Sam, was cashiered and had to leave the service in disgrace. But for the very prominent friends and great influ ence he had i n \Vashington, he would likewise have received a long term in one o r other of the peniten tiaries. So you perceive that these two gentlemen were "birds of a feather," so to speak. At any rate their records were strangely s imilar and their subsequent careers ran in a groove that was anything but en viable. Let us hear what these men have to say. Throgmorton is speaking. "Well," said the ex-captain of the British cavalry. "I called on that precious cousin of mine at Woburn Square, and must say was received very cordially by him. We cracked a couple of bottles together, smoked prime cigars and had quite a long chat about this American property left him by his uncle, old Colonel Maltravers. I was surprised to discover what little PAGE 38 The Conspirators. 35 interest be took in the subject. The only thing which seemed to tickle him was the name o f Lhe estate-it sounded so Englishlike. He laughed a good deal, and began to inquire into the history of i t When I had gratified him as well as I could, he put a question me-how much did I think it was worth." "And you, of course, exaggera t ed its value?" asked Mesurier. Well, that was but n atural. What did you say it was worth?" "I said I thought it must be worth close on two mil lion dollars-though not in its present state-as the old manor house would need c o n s id e rable repairs, and that a good part of the property wou1d need being fen<:ed in, and much more to the s am e effect." "This, of course, interested hi m ? said Mesurier "Not a trifle He yawned and ya wned during 111Yi recital, and before I had got thro11gh l o oked a bad1y; bored man. The trouble wi t h th e y oung whelp is this," said Throgmorton, "he has to o much money "A millionaire, eh?" exclaimed th e American. "A multimi11ionaire, major, wo uld be 'llearer the m a rk. H o wever, I succeed e d in getting a promi s e from the youn g jackanapes tha t h e would attend to his Babbingt o n Manor estate a s soo n as possible." "That at least was one point g ain ed,'' said Mesuri e r, rubbing his white, plump hand s wit h evidence of sat i s faction. "The next thing in order is-whether he will keep his word. He does n o t a ppear to be a ve r y energetic young gentleman. bid you convey to h i m that it would require considerable of an outlay to make Babbino+n.!l Manor habitable and resuectablc ?" PAGE 39 Tlie Conspirators. "Oh, yes replied Throgmorton, laughing, "I did not forget that. He asked me carelessly-'How much?' I thought of a figure. I didn t want tO' frighten the lad, I therefore said, 'A hundred thou sand dollars.' This sum seemed but a fieab i te to my dutiful coz, and he replied-'Is that all?' I then said it might be a few thou s and more, which haJ ab o ut as much effect on him as water on a duck s back." "He doesn't think much o f that s plain," said the American, grinning "But before we get through with him his surplus will b e pretty much diminished. Had Brabazon much more to say?" "No, he is not anything of a talker. In fact I had to use tongue sauce for both him and myself. I don't think his understanding amounts to a great deal at his best, which will be s o much the better fo r the carry ing out of our plot. What time are you, Mesurier ? asked the captain suddenly. "My watch is stoppedsomething wrong with the works, I fancy The American looked at his watch, and said : "A good deal later than I thought-five-and-twenty minutes of twelve." "The deuce!" exclaimed Throgmorton, s urprised; ''I miss one of my engagements, then. I was to meet !Miss Tempest at eleven, sharp; and I leave h e re tomorrow for the States to take a run over that Babbing1 ton estate and make an estimate of c os t s before my precious cousin ventures to set foot on shipboard. He is not much in love with the voyage But a letter from me will infuse new energy into him-and you kn o w two-million-dollar prop e rty," with a sly laugh, "is PAGE 40 The Conspirators. 37' not to be despised, especially when I can add another million to it, which will make all the difference, even with Brabazon. Money is money, you know, rny dear Mesurier." "Yes, truly; money is money. My palm is itching for a portion of that one hundred thousand dollars, which you mentioned a short while ago. If I stay much longer in London I will be living on my credit -and, in a comparatively strange city, that won't be pleasant, as you know. And so you sail for the land of the free?" "Yes. I catch the Cunarder between three and four to-morrow at Queenstown ." "And Miss Tempest?" said Mesurier, with a sly leer. "Must be an afterconsideration. However, I will write her and explain that to meet the appointment was a moral impossibility. Women are women, you know major; some are devilish artful, some devilish innocent; and to the former belongs my charming friend, Miss Tempest. And now I must get some few hours' sleep and be up betimes." "Well," said Mesurier, "if you will go, good-by, and good luck. I will be with you in the States in less than two weeks." And thus the two conspirators parted. PAGE 41 CHAPTER VI. THE LETTER ON THE KNOLL. We may now return to the morning on which Ramsey had succeeded in rescuing the b o dy of the murdered man from the bottom of Silver Lake, where it had bee n sunk the night before. The dete'ctives never dreamed that such a surprise was in store for them as the disappearance of young Brabazon's body. But, if a surprise to them, it was doubly so to Coroner O'Hanlon, who could not but believe he was in some way imposed upon. But who would dare impose on a public of-ficer of his impor tance? Had the detectives the foolhardiness to play him a tri c k and insult his hi g h office? No !-perish the thought-they wouldn't dare take such liberties And yet, where was the body of the murdered m a:1 w.hich they had described so minute ly to the little coroner? The strangest part of it was there was not the slighte s t trace of its ever having been there at all. EYen the le s s dignified justice of the peace had his doubt s more or less, in regard to the foregoing; or might they-the detectives-not have made a mistake with re s pect to the spot where they had left the un fortunate man ? Yes surely they might. This would no doubt e x plain the trouble. And, on this hypothesis the justice, who was a plain, simple-minded man, said : "Like enough, you have m a de a mistake in the spot, PAGE 42 The Letter on the Knoll. 39 Mr. Carter. N ebody has been here, that is certain. Let u s go farther into the timber and pursue our in vestigations. We may probably do so w ith better s uc c ess.'' "Fish!" snorted the coroner contemptuously; and so saying, he frowned the l ittle justice down in such a way that he had not another word to say. "There is no misiake about the place," Nick ex plained. "Vlf e left the body here, and here we ought to find it." "Well, where is it?'' demanded O'Hanlon peevishly "If you left it here as you say, it ought to be here still." "True enough, if it hadn't been removed,'' chimed in Mr. Goodrich, frowning on him; he didn't quite relish Mr. Coroner's airs, doubts, and pomposity Nick paid no heed to the small, inflated medical man. As far as he was concerned, O'Hanlon might have been a thousand miles away. Indeed, his sham dignity was wholly lost on the detective, and his bluster was of such little consequence that it was not worth noting Ramsey, on the other hand, was indignant, and in clined to kick O'Hanlon for his impertinence. How was the body of Ernest Brabazon removed? This was the question which troubled Nick more than enough. He bent over and searched for clews which might give him some well-defined idea, but not one could he find. There were no impressions of steps; the decayed leaves and branches were just as he had PAGE 43 The Letter on the Knoll. left them. He was sorely puzzled as to how the body of the murdered man could have been removed. "Well," exclaimed Nick, at last, "but this is a mys tery, and no mistake!" "The only explanation is, that during the removal of the body from the boat we were being watched," Ramsey ventured. "Perhaps the whole thing was seen from the time I dragged the body from the water. There's a piece of woods on the other side of the lake, and our every movement could be easily watched from there and when we left they took care, of course, to search for the body and remove it in the way in which they brought it the night before." While Ramsey was speaking, Nick had picked up a torn slip of paper on which were some scribbled words, written hurriedly with lead pencil. "This will explain," he said. "Hum," grunted the consequential Mr. O'Hanlon -"mighty little to explain in that filthy screed, I'll be bound. First, it doesn't look as if it had been r e cently written." \ "Don't be in too much of a hurry, Mr. Coroner," expostulated the little justice. "It may be as you say, but more likely it isn't. Ho\vever, Mr. Carter will set all doubts at rest by reading it. Will you be so goou as to oblige, Mr. Carter?" "Certainly," replied Nick. "There isn't much in it; but here is what it says: "When you find this note the body which one o f you took from the lake will be placed where all your ingenuity wiIJ never discover it, though yott searched PAGE 44 ..---The Letter on t l1e Knoll. 41 for a dozen yea r s to come; and, furthermore, take warning, if you stay much l onger around these stamp ing grounds, you will find yourselves in a condition not overpleasant to your health, not to mention to your prospects. ONE WHo KNows." "Bosh!" ejaculated the c o roner, when this had been read. "Silly twaddle! Humbug! Did any one eve r hear such rot?" "Well, I suppose we can't do anything more at pres ent," chimed in the justice. "That note explains how the body was lef t here, and that it was spirited away. Now it is for these gentlemen to disco\'er who re moved it, and where it is. Nothing fur ther can be done just now as far as I can see." "No," returned Nick; "not until we find the body of the murdered man, anyhow." "It lo o ks so much like a fool's errand that I'm sick of it," exploded tne coroner. "VI/ho is the murdered man, anyhow? How did he come by his death? \Vhat, in fact, is his name, and where does he hail from?" As nobody voucllsafed the information sought, the l ittle coroner went away in a great huff. He was fol l o wed by the justice and the improvised jury. "Good riddance to bad rubbish-," smiled Goodrii;:h, a s he watched them depart. "Of all the solemn, con sequential asses it has been my lot to meet, that coroner cap s the climax." "I regret one thing, Nick said. "What?" '.'That it w on't be t h e b s t w e shall see of him. 1! /' PAGE 45 42 The Letter on the Knoll. can get on well enough with the simple-minded justice, but this O'Hanlon is a nuisance." "Yes, he is But the only thing is to ignore him as much as possible. And if that don't turn his idiotic head, I don't know what will." "Did you hear the remark he made to me?" inter jected Ramsey, at this point, "when we first called upon him?" "No, I can't say that I did," replied Nick. "\Vhat was it?" "I happened to observe that he had a good old frish na1ne." "Well?" "Well, it made him fairly explode with rage. 'An Irishman, eh?' said he, showing his ugly, yellow teeth. 'I give you to understand, sir, that I am no Irishman -in creed, or otherwise. I'm as much of an American as those who came over in the M ayftower. I happen to have an Irish name, yes-worse luck-but that doesn't make an Irishman of me. I have nothing in common with such people.' "Which is a good thing for the Irish," interpolated Goodrich, laughing. "Such a man would be a credit to no civilized country on the face of the globe. Let him have rope enough and he'll hang himself, and very small loss." "Well, what next is to be done?" said Ramsey, changing the subject. "Find the body of Brabazon," replied Goodrich. "I'll go you one better," interposed Tick. "Let us find the Throgmorton, and, getting him we shaJI PAGE 46 The Letter on tlze Knoll. 43 discover where the body is hid, and how they suc ceeded in spiriting it away so deftly. I cannot understand yet why theyl'left no traces. They did not take the murdered man in any hack or wagon, that's sure. }f they had we should have made out the impression of the' wheels as well as the hoofprints of the horses." "They must have borne it away as they brought it --on a litter," put in Ramsey. "Yes, that no doubt explains it. But let LlS make a further search-we may discover something we have not yet seen." The suggestion was by no means bad. They passed around the semicircular lake and, ascending the knoll, r eached the point where the two eavesdroppers, Hartrey and Scaldy Bill, had watched them from among the trees. The gound among those trees was clayey, therefore impressionable. "Ha!" exclaimed Nick. "Here they are at lastthe footprints of at least two men, and recently made, too." "And here is a letter that somebody's dropped," ex claimed Ramsey, picking up a rather soiled and rumpled envelope. 'Mr. James Hartrey,' he read. 'Post office, Brook l yn, till called for.' Postmark April 2." "And the date now is the sixth," said Nick. "Now for the letter-what does it say?" PAGE 47 CHAPTER VII. NIGHT AND A DISCOVERY. :As this request was put by Nick Carter, Ramsey re moved the sheet of note paper from the envelope. It was crumpled and soiled, as though it had been read a good many times. It was in a woman's writing an ran as follows : "DEAR }IM: Don't you think it time that you aban doned the lawless life you have been leading? Your so-called luck won't always last, and though you escape to-day, imprisonment may follow to-morrow. It is sure to be the encl of a Ii fe of crime; and I am confi dent that you have had ample experience to that effect; yes, when we were together, we ran no small risk of capture and in1prisonment; but, thank G o d I ha\ e overcome all my criminal tenJencies, anJ am now leading an honest and, I may say a truly Christian life. I am not afraid to write t o you in this spirit; I dread n o ridicule; for I am n o w nearer contentment an PAGE 48 Night and a D i scovery. 45 "That is ali," said Ramsey. "Night of the eighth, nine sharp, corner Twenty-ninth Street and Sixth, Avenue, New York." "And to-day is the sixth of April," repeated Nick. "Hartrey is a pickpocket or sneak thief, and without doubt this woman has been hrs partner. But she has reformed by attending one of the missions, and she is prayerful and anxious that he shall do the same." "Many an unfortunate has been rescued thus," said Goodrich feelingly. "But this Hartrey must have been one of the men who removed the body, and if we don't see him sooner, we shall no doubt do so at nine o clock on the night of the eighth, as per appoint ment. "We must hunt up Hartrey, by hook or by crook, said Nick. "And once we get him, the find ing of Brabazon's body will be a much easier task." But we must not lose sight of one thing, gen tl e men," interjected Ramsey, "the mission on which w e were sent here-the breaking up of this gang of thi e ve s and murderers-I think I speak advisedly when I say murderers," added he. "Certainly," chimed in Goodrich. One murde r can at least be traced to tilem -thcre may be others of which we know nothing." "Surely. But I have made a disc overy, gentlemen," cried Ramse y s uddenly. "Careful n o w or we may frighten him away. "Who?" PAGE 49 Night and a Dscovery. "Not a word. I caught a face peering through yonder fringe of bushes. I have seen the same face twice before-once in the village, and once out in the woodland here. In the village I was told he was a half-witted lad-a kind of tramp, who got a meal here and a meal there, from the charitably disposed, and who put up at night in an outhouse or barn or wherever he could get shelter. I have been also informed that a great part of his time is taken up in his wanderings on the lands of Babbington Manor. \i\!hen I saw him gazing at me fro m a clump of tim ber yesterday I concluded to go over and speak to him, th inking that I could glean some information concerning this gang. But the instant he saw me approach h e l e t a scream out of him and ran as if the very Old Harry was after him. Now, if you gentlemen remain qui e t I shall see if I can't steal a march on the halfwitted fellow, and we may discover s omething worth w hile. Please go on with any small task you may d esi re to indulge in, while I go a roundabout way and c o llar my young friend, the dafty." N ick and Goodrich had already n o ted a half-witted fa ce, with a wild pair of eyes glancing at them th ro ugh some bushes about thirty or forty yards away. Acting according to Ramsey's instructions, the de tectives without turning their heads, bu s ied them selves in apparently talking earnestly to each other, while their companion slipped quietly away and made a circuit of the timb er. Notwithstanding all hi s c a uti o n however, the half- PAGE 50 Night, and a Discovery. 47 witted creature hacI already observed the movement, and long before he had reached the fringe of bushes he had darted away with the fleetness of a fawn. When Rams ey had returned, a quarter of an hour later, Nick said: "It appears you didn't succeed in trapping the half witted fellow, after all?" "No. When I got in among the bushes he was gone. But I'll catch him yet, or my name is not Ramsey. Now, gentlemen, I should fancy you are both hungry and fatigued, and as our staying here at present will effect little good, I vote an adjournment for purposes of rest and refreshment. I know a fir st class inn in the village where we can obtain both; and when darkness sets in we can once more be at our post. Darkness is our time to make discoveries in Babbington Woods. This, at any rate, is my experi ence." It was about two o'clock in the afternoon when they reached the village, and a little later they were com fortably ensconced in the only house of entertainment in the place, which, by the way, was called the "Cen tral." Here they were served with an excellent meal, and lounged about ttntil darkness had fallen with black and cheerless aspect. Then the detectives set out for the grounds of Bab bing ton Manor. Nick lo oked up at the sky.' It seemed to hang very low, with inky ragged-looking clouds, through which not as much as the glimmer of a star could be seen. There was an ominous stillness PAGE 51 Night and a Discovery. in the air, with not the whisper of a breeze to even stir a blade of grass. "This looks mighty like the coming of a storm," observed Nick. "Such PAGE 52 Night a nd a Discovery. 49 Babbington W oods, and as the rain was about to de in torrents, they took shelter under the trunk and withered branches of a lightning-riven elm. An other eye-blinding flash of lightning, and Nick ex cla imed: "Gentlemen, I have made a discovery!" / PAGE 53 CHAPTER VIII. THE SECR'ET CAVES. Nick's excl a mation was followed by a terrible peal of thunder, which shook the ground upon which they stood. Again ca me many brilliant of light nin g and th e rai n da s hed down in s heets. But Nick Cart e r had m ade a discovery-a disco very that might or might not b e of importance. The three detectives w ere standin g under the branches of the lightning rinn elm, up w ho s e trunk and bra nches was a thi ck n<'tw ork of vines, which more or less s heltered them fro m the viol e nce of the rainstorm which had now set in. A few yards from the old elm was the trunk of a fall e n oak. It was of great girth, but was fast fall in g to pieces from age and decay. In one of the brilliant flashes of the ligh t ning the detective had. caught si ght of a copper wire This wire ran into and slightly u n d e r the surface of the ground. It led to a very large sycamore stump, fifteen feet high. Then the copper w ir e dis appeared among the roots. It was a question wh ether Carter would have detected this as plainly in d aylig ht, for more than likely in daylight the spot h e re he stood would have been much darker, the re s ult of what we may call the trelliswork of vines. But those wonderful vivid flashes of lightning had revealed the glistening copper wire, and as Nick's eyes followed its trail to the roots of the syc a more he at PAGE 54 The Secret Caves. 51 once concluded that the wire had been placed the re as a means of communication with the occupant s of some hidden rendezvous in the bowels of the earth "What is the nature of y our d isco very, Mr. C a rter?" Goodrich "Yo u h ave a keener vi s ion than I, for I' see nothing, save those blinding lightning flashes and the descending rain Do y ou, Mr. Ramsey?'' "No," replied Ramsey, "I co n fe s s I d o not. But here is Mr. Carter about to expl a in." Nick in a few words told of the nature of his dis covery. "A secret cave no doubt," said G o odrich. "Had we not better investigate?'' "Just wait for a few minutes," said Nick. "This storm is at best only an April shower. It won't la st." "Rather unexpected to have thunder and lightning so early in April," was the observation of Goodrich as he endea v ored to pierce the obscurity above. The brilliant play of lightning had passed, and the last rumble of the thunder could be heard away in 1.he distance. "Not at all," said Nick. "In the West I've seen a thunderstorm in March and even in February. Such cases are not at all isolated or wmsual. But," add e d he, "I'll give the rain just five minutes to clear off, and a few minutes later we shall see the peeping o ut of rs and the-" "Moon! You were going to say the moon but it so happens there is no moon to-night." "Surelv I was forgetting that. No. the night PAGE 55 The Secret Caves. will be moonless, sure enough," interjected Nick. ''Sometimes unimportant matters of that nature escape me. I'm glad you reminded me." "It was only by the merest accident, I assure you. I had forgotten it myself," Goodrich interrupted, laugh ing. "Even one's memory is not always to be re lied on." Nick was right when he said the rainstorm would soon pass away. In less than the stipulated number of minutes not a drop of rain fell, while the inky sky, as if by magic, cleared of its clouds, and out darted the silver pencil points of light through the rifts, which they could see above their heads. The network of vines hampered their v1s10n more or less, so the light of the stars did not make the partly open spot much brighter. "Now we shall find what this discovery tends to," said Nick. "Wouldn't it be better to wait till it gets a little said Ramsey. "That would mean all night," interjected Carter. "But here is something that will replace the light, an article which I rarely travel without." Nick took an electric flash from his clothes, and pressing the button, shot a powerful glare through the gloom "The next best thing to daylight," gruntert Ram sey. "And now for this copper wire, which certainly could rwt have got here by accident. It is doubtless a:ome electrical contrivance." PAGE 56 The Secret Caves. 53 Nick, without speaking, bent over and followed the copper wire to roots of the sycamore, and there it seemed to descend into the bowels of the earth, and was fost. We have already said that the top of the sycamore stump was fully fifteen feet from the ground, and therein, Nick concluded, was held the secret of the copper wire. Now there was an obstacle to surmount. How were they to reach the top of the sycamore stump? "I have it," said Nick, after looking around for a moment. "This young oak tree will help solve the difficulty." Nick, without more ado, was soon in among the branches of the oak, some of the topmost of which reached and hung over the old sycamore stump. In less than two minutes he was examining the top of the stump by the aid of his electric flash. "It's all right!" he shouted down to his friends. "The sycamore is hollow, and by the help of an iron ladder, which is here, I can descend into the tree. It evidently leads to some subterranean apartment. D on't be alarmed. I am going to descend. I may be ba c k with you in five minutes, and I may not reappear for half an hour. But be patient, as this place may b e well worth exploring." He did not wait for his two friends to reply. His head had already disappeared in the hollow of thtt sycamore stump. Nick now cautiously descended into a subterranean passage. It :was mucli more extensive than he ever dreamed o f-fully twenty by twenty-five feet. On PAGE 57 54 The Secret Caves. each side was a room, and there was a furnace underneath the stump. All this was revealed by the aid of the detective's flash, which s hot out its powerful light -here, there, and everywhere. In each room Nici{ found bunks for a dozen per sons, together with tables chairs, di s h es, and all sorts of cooking utensils. A workbench ran alongside of one of the apartments, on which wa s a full set of counterfeiter's tools and a fine electroplating appara tus, together with base metals and a quantity of fine alloy. The discovery was interesting so far. Blll.t there was more yet to come. This Nick, too, found out. "I should like to know whether there is some other way of getting into this place, bes id e s coming down by that old stump!" said Carter. V e ry likely there is. A further explorati o n may prove that I am right." A continued search revealed a s ecre t door leading into a chamber. This was u s ed apparently as the treasure h ome of the gang. But now ca m e the que s tion: 'Nho were the memb e r s o f thi s gang o f c o unterfeiters? When had they been in th e s u bterranean apartments last? The detecti ve, not troub l ing him s elf at the time to reply to this had already entered the chamber to which we have alluded. Here he found counterfeit gold and silver coins in all processes of execution. The money was well made and was in every respect superior to the spurious coins then in circulation-in New Yark State, and even in some of the towns of New Jersey. Many specimens of this counterfeit money Nick had already seen, and PAGE 58 T h e S ecret Caves SS was not greatly impressed with them. In sea r ching aron nd, the detective's attention was attracted to a cupboard. He opened it, and found two boxes filled 'vith gold and silver money, also counterfeit. The next discovery the detective made was that the copper wire was connected with a battery and to all appear ances was used as an outside signal. Nothing further of any account was found, and the detective was finally forced to the conclusion that the subterranean chambers had been abandoned some con siderable time before. And 1t occurred to him that the members composing the gang of counterfeiters were either in prison, had died, or had been forced to leave the country. "The Babbington Manor band of thieves and cutthroats don't know even of 1.he existence of this re treat/, was Nick's menial comment. "If they ever discover it, it will be a veritable windfall to them, providing they succeed in getting us out of the way." His further investigations revealing no outlet from the place, saying by the path he had come, the detec ti ,e made his way back to the iron ladder and ascended 1.he hollow stump of the sycamore. He had been more t han half an hour gone, and expected to find his friends chafing with impatience at his long absence. Dut Nick was, if anything, a man of considerable cau ti on. He did not stick his head out of the hollow stump to apprise the detectives of his safety by calling to them. Not knowing what might have happened, dur his absence in the &ubterranean retreat, he raised PAGE 59 The Secret Caves. his head cautiously, and looked in the direction where he had left Ramsey and Goodrich. It wasn't so dark but he could see them if they were still there. The sky was fairly glittering with stars, and not a cloud obscured the whole firmament. Carter's first glance revealed nothing. Rubbing his eyes, which must have been somewhat affected. by the subterranean retreat he looked again. He could dis c ern nothing but the fallen oak and the deep shad ows cast by the trunks and branches of some giant trees, which stood a little away from the young oak we have de s cribed. E v en the network o f vines caught his eye clearly and di s tinctly. Nick became alarmed. The more he looked the more uneasy he grew. A silence as of death reigned over 1.he spot; not a breath of air, n o t a sound of any kind. The detective s suspense grew unbearable; finally in a husky voice he called out the name of Goodrich Rut tfiere came no response. PAGE 60 CHAPTER IX. MISS TEMPEST FROM LONDON. Let us go back to the earlier part of that day. It was much earlier than when we introduced Ramsey to the reader, and more than a dozen miles from the scene in the Babbington Woods described in the previous chapter. Three people had crossed the Brooklyn Bridge in the cars. There was nothing so ,ery remarkable in their appearance that we should mention this fact, excepting that we have met two of the three before, the ex-army officers, Throgmorton and Mesurier. The third passenger was a woman, of petit figure, dressed in black and veiled. It would take no keen observer to tell that this woman was a new arrival in the country. She was one. The Miss Tempest alluded to on the night of the meeting between Mesurier and Throgmorton in the house near the Thomes Embankment. Miss Tempest had arrived in New York the night before by a Cunarder, and, not b eing met as she expected, was driven to the Hotel 11arnmoth, from where she communicated by tele graph with the ex-British army officer, Throgmorton. Early the following morning Mesurier and Throg morton called at the Mammoth, with the result that three people were now on t,heir way to Brooklyn. At the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge was a limousine in waiting, with a smart-looking chauffeur in livery on the box. PAGE 61 58 Miss Tempest from London No sooner had the three people got into the con veyance than it was driven up Washington Street, thence into Fulton, and from Fulton Street into Schermerhorn. The vehicle went some distance along the latter thoroughfare, when the chauffeur pulled up before a four-story brownstone front. It was an exclusive part of Schermerhorn Street, where the residents were wealthy, and, as the hour was scarcely nine o'clock, there were few people about, and these betrayed no interest in the limousine or its occupants Immediately the conveyance stopped, Throgmorton and Mesurier sprang out quickly and helped Miss Tempest to alight. Then the three went up the stoop. There was no need of ringing the bell. The door was open In an instant they had disappeared within the house. Then the door was closed with scarce a sound; the car drove off with almost as little noise or ceremony, and the street once more resu med its accustomed quiet ness. Having got thus far, we may now enter the hou s e with the three persons described. In a cozy parlor on the first floor in the rear of the brownstone front our characters are seated. The woman l:_ias removed heT wraps, hat, and veil. She has a prepossessing face, not distinctively characteristic, with brown hair, haz e l eyes, fine teeth, and an exquisitely shaped month Her nose is slightly aquiline and delicately chiseled Her voice cultivated and sweet in intonation. On the whole she is, :what might be called a verv PAGE 62 Miss Tempest from London. .59 ing woman, though certainly not a woman of any great strength of character. I'm not sorry," she said, "that my disagree able voyage is past. Though I feel as if I am a-ship board, and my head is still dizzy." "Very sorry, indeed," said Throgmorton, "that the trip didn't agree with you. But what can you expect on a first voyage? Seasickness, of course, sadly handi caps one's pleasure aboard ship, and though I can't say that I ever experienced it, I can pretty well guess the misery it occasions." "You see," put in Mesurier, "our friend Throgmort on is an admirable sailor. As to myself, I am about in the same boat with you, Miss Tempest. I never went to sea yet but that I was ill from its effectsin PAGE 63 6o 111.iss Te171j;est fro1n London. "Yes, and that is the way I feel," declared Mis11 Tempest, with a shudder at the thought of her voyage across the Atlantic. I can view the ocean with pleas ure and complacency, but it must be from dry land. I could never see any romance a-shipboard, unless in Marryatt or Russell. They appear to have enjoyed the life, and to such I don't grudge the happiness. But, by the way, what was the cause of Brabazon returning so soon ?" Throgmorton shrugged his shoulders in answer. "He wasn't stuck on the country, I believe," he re plied carelessly. You see Brabazon is a veritable cock ney, and couldn't survive out of that blessed London of his. He stayed four days with us, and it was pain ful to witness the state he was in till he shook the dust of New Yark from his feet. And it occurs to me that America has seen him for the first and last time." "Was he not satisfied with hi s property?" "Well, I'm sure I couldn't tell you, for he didn't say. He is one of the queerest young men in the world, and has so little to say that you can never tell what he i s thinking of." "The question is-does he think?" said Mesurier dryly. "It always occurred to me that the slightest effort at thought bored the young man. Maybe he is too rich t o think. Such chaps like others t o do their thinking for them." "Come, c o me," expostulated Miss Tempe s t warmly "you are by far too hard on Mr: Brabazon. I think t!Je young gentleman positively charming. He is th e best i!stener I ever met-and so polite and patient that PAGE 64 l'vliss Tempest from London. Gr he never contradicts one. You must admit that he is a model in that respect." "Oh, yes," said Mesurier, "all idealess young gen tlemen are. There is one thing certain: Mr. Brabazon did not appear to be at all grateful to the late Colonel Maltravers for leaving him his property, and though it is the finest estate on Long I s iand, he did not seem to be in any way preposse s sed with it." "Nor with the old mansion either," chimed in Throgmorto!-:: grimly. "Ah, gentlemen, you don't quite comprehend the good points in Ernest's character. Even his cousin, Mr. Throgmortnn, entirely misunderstands him. He doesn't talk, he feels, gentlemen-l1e feels." "It takes a woman to find out what a man is," said Throgmorton, with mock gravity. "Yes, and to get at the bottom of his purse, too," cried Mesurier, laughing. "Commend me to a cle\'er woman for that." "For shame, major! That is not so-at least, not so far as I am concerned. The dear boy w o uld do anything for me-I know that-but--" "You wouldn't accept," finished Throgmorton, with a leer. "Now, my dear Lydia, what did that nice lit tle establi s hment in St. John's Wood cost him? A pretty penny, I'll warrant!" "\Vell, as yon have fired the question straight at me -and as it's no secret," replied Miss Tempest, "I will tell both of y o u four thou sand!" "Pounds or dollars?'' M e rnrier. "Pounds, o f c ource," r:c>p!ied Lyclid. airily. "Four PAGE 65 thom;2.ncl poundsa year, and not so out-of-the-way a sum, either, coming from a rich man. Edward o nght to know something about that, too." "Not the amount," interrupted Throgmorton depre catingly. "I never knew, Lydia, what you got." "But when you were short, you knew where to get a few hundreds, didn't you?" said the woman, flush in g indignantly. "Now let us please drop the subject. It's not pleasant, and assuredly ought not to be pleasant to you, Captain Throgmorton, who has benefited by it." "Yes, that is true enough; I have benefited by it," r eturned Edward unblushingly. "And you are the d eares t little woman in the world to have gi v en me the chance." Then, turning to the major: "But what the eye never sees, Mesurier, the h ea r t n eve r grieves over. The young fool had more m oney t l : an he knew what to do with, and he had to part with it to some. one, and why not to one of his poor r elations ?" "Yes, why not to one of his poor relations? re p e at ed Mesurier dryly. "}\J ow that Ernest has gone back, I suppose I must g o back, too," said Miss Tempest. "Not at all, Lydia," interposed Throgmorton. "You must remain in this charming country for some time yet. You have come to a veritable paradiseonce the summer sets in, my dear. You wouldn't c!ream of going back to smoky, foggy London-at kast, for some time to come." PAGE 66 11!fss Tempest from London. 63 "But Ernest?" int e rjected Lydia. "Oh, lea v e that y o ung g entl em an to his shekels and plea s ures. H e 'rnn t break his h e a rt, my dear, rest assured "Will h e m.aj or?" "Not likely to no w as the m a rked answer. "It would take m o r e t11an a n en c hanted st e thoscope to enumerate its {)Ulsati ons as his heart now stands." PAGE 67 CHAPTER X. THE CONSPIRATORS RETURN. "Say, Mesurier, didn't you put that rather strong?" "What?" "About the enchanted stethoscope enumerating the pulsations of Brabazon's heart? I thought rnysel f that you were treading on dangerous ground. The shallowest of these women are confoundedly sharp 'Arouse their su s pici ons once and you don't know where they'll stop. I saw her l o oking at you pretty hard when you said that." v "Mere fancy, my boy." "No, major, you were neYer more mistaken. lf I didn't happ e n to know the woman I would think nothing of it. But knowing her. I'm sorry now you went so far." "Do you think she had any genuine affection for Brabazon?'' "I won't go quite so far. Such a woman has little affection for anybody. But I've no doubt she'd a sort of sneaking regard for him, and as she could bleed him t o any amount. that is not unnatural." "Well, even so the woman has more regard for y o u than she had for him "You forget-money had a good deal to do v;ith it. Ernest had money. while I was as poor as a church mouse. That was the principal reason why I brought them together." PAGE 68 The Conspirators Return. "Did Brabazon know of this? "Did he know it? Certainly not! And it would 11ave been a very evil day for me if he did. N o he didn t as much as know that we were acquainted; and as to that, she took precious good care to keep him in ignorance. Oh, innocent as she looks, Miss Tempest is a pretty artful young woman and fully capable of hoeing her own row in the world. You see, she was on the variety stage when I met her first, sing ing serio-comic songs." "Genius?" "Not an atom. "However, she was pleasing, and she caught on, as they say in this country. And it o ccurs to me that she will have 1.o go back to the variety stage, as I am not particularly stuck on her, and another such speech as yours may c a use some trouble." "Pis h You make a mountain out of a molehill. And what does it matter, anyway, now he has gone? The only thing I am sorry for is that we couldn't get at the bulk o f his possessions." This coll o quy was indulged in between the two e x arrny officers, as they drove in an open carriage to Babbington Manor. We have already said that it was a glorious clay warm with sunshine and a clear, bracing air, which made the very blood in one's veins tingle. They had entered the lands of Babbington Manor just as Nick Carter and his companions had hastened in search of the coroner, after having concealed the body of Bra bazon among the trees. PAGE 69 66 The Conspirators R etitrn T he car had not g o n e far on i ts way when Scaldy Bill a n d Jim Har t rey ove r too k it l I ll bet a new hat that these fellows hav e som e news of im p ortance," said Mesurier, as he l ook e d and saw the men runn ing after the machine.. f "Why, one of them is our good friend Sca ld y B ill !" I declared Throgmorton. The vehicle was stopped The two men came run ning up out of breath. "Well, Bill," said the major, "what is the t r oub le? 'Anything?" "Yes-ev erything. But let me get breath and I will tell you," was Bill's rejoinder. Then Scaldy Bill briefly related what had transpired a little while before. Both Throgmo rton and Mesu rier were apparently badly frightened. They paled t o the very roots of their hair. "Cursedly unfortunate!" ground out Mesurier. I "The sinking of the body in the lake last night was s een-and, no doubt, by some confounded detective 1Vhatever's to be done now must be done quickly." "Vve can't afford to take chances, growled Throg morton, as he bit his nether lip till the blood came. "l'\ o you c a n't, indeed, sir," chim e d in Scaldy Bill I "The cusses won't be gone long when they'll be back '-with the coroner and a j ury. Will you follow my advice, major?" "Quick-what is it?" gruffly from Mesurier. "Let us get back to the timber where the body is, at once. We needn't bring the car all the way, as me and Jim can cm-ry the 'stiff' in the litter, s o' s t o leave no PAGE 70 The Conspirators Return. tracks of tires-then we can cover it with canva s and hoist it into the machine, and drive off, an' no one'll be the wiser." "I don't see any better plan that could be su g gested," averred the major. "Jump in, boys, and we'll drive as near the spot as wiil be safe; then the litt e r you allude to can do the rest." was done with expedition. "Now, gentlemen," said Scaldy Bill, "I gue s s the car has gone far enough-and you two had better st ay here, while we go fetch the b o dy. Jim an' me will do the thing in such a way so's to leave no marks, a n that'll puzzle 'em like the devil. What do you say ? "Do you think Jim and you can manage?" asked Mesurier. "Sure!" "Then be off, and be as lively as you can," said the major. "Never fear, sir!" cried Hartrey. "We'll do our part up to the handle. We' ll give them as awkward a puzzle as they ever had in their lives." And with these words the men hurriedly made for the timber. "Now for the litter," said Bill, when they had passed into the wood. "Wher e is it?" "Follow and say nothing." "It was at my suggestion it was left here," pursued Scaldy Bill, after a while. The others wanted to take jt away, and I said 'no,' and 'no' it was." Before they removed the body of the mur-Oered PAGE 71 68 The Conspirators Return. man from where it lay, Scaldy Bill said with a grim smile: "Guess I'll leave them a note in the shape of a few scribbled words. If it does nothing else, it will mys tify them. Let me have that lead pencil o' yours, Jim. Thanks." "Have you paper?" "Yes-lots. It's not very clean, and )t don't smell very sweet, but it'll answer well enough for the pur pose." Having indited the note, Scaldy Bill left it where there was every chance that it would be f Gttnd. Then he and Hartrey, picking up the b o dy of the murdered man, placed it on the litter, and, having covered \t over with canvas, they bore it to the car, which was waiting at some distance from the piece of woods The corpse was next put in the vehicle and Mesu rier and his accomplice drove off, Scaldy Dill and Jim Hartrey following on foot. "We haven't seen the last of them detectives," said Jim. "I don't suppose we have," replied his pal. They'll be nosing around until they get their heads into jeopardy. There's something I don't relish about that Throgmorton, though," declared Scaldy Bill. "I don't know what this PAGE 72 The Conspirators Return "But he doesn't talk like an Englishman." "No, that's true enough. "But when it comes to an educated man, Jim, you can' t tell what country he belongs to-always pur vided he speaks the English langwidge-jus t as I do, for instance. An' I'm a purty good s pecimen of a gentleman myself," said Scaldy Bill proud l y "But I like that English cove for a cent; I don't, h o ne st." "What don't you like about him?" "His eyes and face in the first pla c e He looks t o m e to be an awful sneak-a feller a s w o uld li v e o n a n y one an' poison him a f ter. I'd give fiv e years o f my life to know what that young feller did to him, that he should go an' put hi s light out. And I have s ome thing else in for that chap, too. The 'stiff' had a n old family charm in his p o cket. It was in the s ha pe of a cross It was gold, too and mi g hty heavy, s e t with three flashing rub i e s and worth more'n a h undred dollars, and d o you thi n k he vYould let us t ak e i t ? Not for Joe! "He s a i d it would bring bad luck, and t o let it g o w ith the body; an' what was the outc o me?" went o n Bill. "Them detective s have it safe an' so und an' like as not will. bring it up in evidence against the fo o l." But how do you know the detecti v e s have the cro ss ?" asked Hartrey. Because while you were arranging the can v as, I went through the dead man's pockets." "And it was gone?" PAGE 73 70 The Conspirators Retitrn. "Yes, and everything else. But this Englishman and Mesurier are two different stripes, though the deuce of it is, we can't help one without helping the other, an' vicey versa." "I don't quite understand what you are driving at now," said Hartrey. "Well, then to make it plainer, by helping Throg morton, we help our own man, the major. So, y o u see, however the Englishman acts we must do wh a t we can for him, and by doing this we protect our selves and our captain. But I've hit upon a nice little plan to entrap the and all I want now is the major to agree to it." PAGE 74 CHAPTER XI. NICK AND DAFT NED. We shall now retun;i to Nick Carter, whom we left in the hollow of the old sycamore stump, from which only his head and shoulders were protruded. He called out Goodrich's name a second time, but there was no furfher response than at first. The spot bore a silence which was almost appalling, and strong nerved as the detective was, he felt an indefinable feel ing closely approaching to fear creeping on him. But this did not last more than a few seconds. With an effort he shook this feeling off, and seeing no one abot1t whichever way he looked, he concluded to de scend to the ground by -the help of the young oak tree, which we have before a1luded to. He drew him self out of the sycamore stum_p, and got hold of the branches of the oak, and in this way reached the ground. Nick meanwhile had his weapons ready for any at tack that might be made upon him. But he had no need to fear-for none was made. The spot was evi dently completely deserted, nor could he detect the slightest sound in any direction-save the faint barking of a dog coming from some distant farm house. Sounds travel a long way on a still night, and this dog might be two or three miles oistantif not even more. It struck N1ck that his companions PAGE 75 Nick and Daft Ned. should have gone, without having given sign or sound of their departure. Nor were there any marks that he could see of a struggle anywhere. Nick discovered this by the help of his electric flash. Had there been a struggle he couldn't fail but have heard it, even in the deep recesses of the subterranean apartments. "Oh, no, there was no struggle," thought he, con fidently. "Something's happened, though, or they wouldn't have left without giving me a hint of where they had gone to, and for what purpose. I'll just gh e them ten minutes, and if they don't come back, well, I'll go and find them." Carter chose a spot now where he could be free from observation-that is, should anybody happen to be lurking in the neighborhood-as he could not be sure but some of the gang might be prowling around, and his best plan under the circumstances was to act with all the caution necessary. He got under a fir tree, whose branches spread out and descended unusually low. This tree served as b oth shelter and hiding place for him. The detectiye waited quietly for five minutes. Once he heard sounds as of stealthy steps. He listened. But, as the sounds were not repeated, he thought he must have been mi s taken. "The noise might have been made by a squirrel '' reflected Nick. "I saw a colony of them ieaping anr l gamb oling in daylight near the lake. it must be PAGE 76 and Daft Ned. 73 one of those shy little -creatures whose friendship is so very hard to make." Squirrel or no, Nick heard no further sounds. Five minutes more passed away. But there came no Goodrich or Ramsey. "I'll give them five minutes longer," said Nick. "If they don't come then I'm off. It leaves me in a pretty predicament, all the same. It's annoying that they sho uld have gone off without any sort of explanation." Seei n g no evidence of a struggle, it PAGE 77 74 Nick and Daft Ned. thing among the weeds and tufted grass which grew there in abundance. Whatever the boy was seeking he soon found, f o r a few seconds later he arose fro m his stooping p o s ture, and with a low chuckle came out into the op en Here the detective could see him with greater dis tinctness, as the night had been growing gradually brighter since his emergence from the subterranean apartments beneath the old sycamore stump. The starlight fell on the b o y s face, and N i ck watched it for some moments attenti v ely The study was interesting. It was far from being unin t ellig e nt. It looked serious and prepossessing now-so much so that the d e tective concluded that if an yt hing the la d was only acting a part. That he was, in fact neith'er dull-witted n or a fo ol. "But what i s his object in being here?" Nick re flected The an swe r came presently. The b oy, wh o c o uldn't have been less than sev enteen or eighteen years of a ge, t oo k a fe w step s to his front now and bent o v er t h e fallen oak tree jus t as Carter had done previ o u s l y when he had di scov ered the copper wire. Nor did thi s "find escape the b o y s keen eyes. He uttered an exclamation of delight as he caugh t sight of th e wire His next mo v ement wa s a c o mplet e sur prise to the d e t e ctive, for while he wa s bu sily watch ing him the lad t o ok out a s mall electric flash fr om the old ragged coat which he had on, and, pressin g the button, soon had the spa c e flooded with light. Next he tra&ed the wire to the roots of the old syca- PAGE 78 Nick and Daft Ned. 75 tnore and there stood for some moments in apparently profound thought. "I perceive the lad is no foo.1," Carte r muttered. "He'll not rest easy until he discovers why that wire is there. And now I'll see this adventure -0ut with out disturbing him," he decided. Nick was right. The boy was not inclined to leave the spot before he discovered the use of the copper wire. And this is how he set about it-as Nick did before him. For a few seconds he looked intent1y up 2t the sycamore .stump, The next thing which ap peared to occur to him was bow he was to get to the --top of the stump. We have already said it was fifteen feet in height, and the lad knew he couldn't climb up unless by some other help than his hands and knees. The young oak tree next came in for an inspection. He saw that some of its branches hung over the top of the stump, and he decided to climb 1nto the young tree and reach his point of vantage from there. He went deliberately about his work. First he put hi s flash in his pocket. This done,, he swung himself into the branches of the oak, and so reached the top of the sycamore. The lad had much less trouble to reach it than Nick-being younger, lighter, and lither. Then qtme the flash again into play, 'by the light of which the youth made the discovery of the iron ladder, which led down into the interior of the stump. The b oy did not hesitate what he should next do. For a moment there was a brilliant halo of light around the of iycamore, then-darkness# PAGE 79 Nick and Daft Ned. This was occasioned by the lad's disappearance within the tree. Nick, having given the boy ample time to make the descent, now emerged from beneath the branches of the big fir and approached the base of the sycamore. The detective had an experiment to make. It was to ascertain whether he could hear the lad's movements from the counterfeiters' subterranean retreat. This would maybe explain the mystery of the disappear ance of Ramsey and Goodrich. If they had been at tacked he could not but have heard sounds of the struggle, even though he were in the bowels of the earth when that attack was made. Now for the proof. Nick bent his ear against the old sycamore stmnp and listened for some minutes Not a sound reached him from the subterranean cham bers, although there was no doubt but the boy was making considerable noise in moving about during his explorations. Not satisfied with this experiment, the detective threw himself flat at the base of the stump and bent his ear to the ground. With no better suc cess, however. Not a sound came up; instead a still ness as of death reigned at the base, among the gnarled roots, where the copper wire disappeared in the earth. "That explains it," commented Nick. "I can now understand how my friends could have been set upon, and my never t1earing a sound to warn me of their danger." Having thus satisfied himself in this respect, the de tective, expecting the int>epid lad' s retum, went back PAGE 80 Nick and Daft Ned. 77 to the fir tree and, resuming his former position, waited. The boy was quite a time before he reappeared at the opening of the sycamore stump. Twenty minutes passed. Then the half hour. This was followed by ten minutes more, and Nick began to grow decidedly impatient, and was sorry now that he had allowed the thing to go so far. "I should have pounced on that boy before he went up," he said to himself, "and demanded an explana tion of his peculiar antics. Instead, J have allowed precious time to pass, and maybe have jeopardized the lives of my friends. Pshaw! where can my head ha Y e been t' As Carter thus expressed himself, a shaft of flame l>roke through the darkness. It came from the top (Jf the sycamore stump. "Ha! here he comes at last," reflected Nick. Following Nick's words came an unexpected jangling sound-twice repeated. It was as if some hea v y bags of corn had been thrown to the ground. "What in thunder does he mean by that?" muttered the detective. "Surely he doesn't believe that the money is genuine?" Then the powerful light of the bull's-eye vanished as the adventurous boy swung himself in among the branches of the oak tree. Then came a rapid descent to the ground. As the lad reached terra firma Nick, stepping from his hiding place, caugh t him in his arms. PAGE 81 Nick and Daft Ned. "Who are you?" he sternly demanded. "And what are you doing here?" If the detective thought the boy would be taken by surprise he was badly disappointed. "You are Nick Carter," replied the lad, not in the lea st abashed. "I can't tell you how glad I am to see you. Now as to my name-I'm known in the village as Daft Ned-and to those precious hayseeds I shall remain Daft Ned as long as it suits me." PAGE 82 CHAPTER XII. DAFT NED PROVES A SURPRISE. Nick could not help being surprised at the boy's coolness and grit. Had he not been a nervy youth he would have been startled almost out of his wits by the detective's pouncing on him. As it happened, he wasn't fazed in the slightest. "And so you are known as Daft Ned?" Nick began, releasing the youth's arm. "Yes, that is what they call me hereabouts," coolly, almost laughingly. "But guess they'd find consider able method in my daftness, if they knew me better. But they don't, and ain't likely to-not if I know my self, anyhow, and I guess I do know myself, to some small extent." "That is very likely," said Nick, in dry response. "But what was that you threw down from the syca more a while ago?" The boy chuckled softly as this question was put. "What do you think?" he asked. "Well, I don't know, but it sounded like the jangle of bags of coin," replied Nick, as though not quite sure of that even. "Yes, spurious coin; and, by the way, very good counterfeit, too. In fact, I never clapped eyes o n better. It would open many an expert's eyes as te how easy it would be to flood some of the big cities with such The truth is, Mr. Carter, I have made a very important discovery." PAGE 83 80 Daft Ned Proves a Surprise. "Indeed! Where and when?" asked the detective. "Now and here. At the top of that sycamore stump, which is hollow, I found an iron ladder. It took me down into a series of underground apartments -the most wonderful I ever saw-and there I discov ered base metals, any quantity of alloy, and coin in various stages of progression. I filled two canvas bags with the coin, carried them up the ladder, and threw them from the opening of the sycamore to the gro nd. This was the cause of the jangling sounds u heard." "Then you have discovered a counter eiters' den?" "Yes; but a den, Mr. Carter, that has not been uscu in years." "How do you know?" "Oh, I explored the whole place, and made a minute examination of everything which came under my eye, from which I could see that no work has gone on there for some time." "You are a sharp fellow for one so young," said Nick reflectively. "Now how old would you take me to be?" said Ned jauntily. "Not more than seventeen." "Add four years to it and you will be right. No, Mr. Carter, I was twenty-one the third of this month. Of course, with a certain make-up which I've assumed I don't look it, which is of great advantage to me." "So you are one and ?" said Nick, scar c ely crediting what he had heard. "Yes, and three days added; but my age is of little PAGE 84 Daft Ned. Proves a Surprise. 81 consequence to the work I have cut out for me here abouts." "Do you mean that you are an amateur detective?" questioned Nick in his surprise. "No; not an amateur detective, but a full-fledged private detective, from New York City." "You surprise me," cried Nick. "You are not the only one I've surprised, Mr. Car ter." "You have a mighty good opinion of yourself, too, I find." "Who has a better right?" ,;There is a headline in a certain copybook which I used to write in as a boy," pursued Nick, "which contained these words: 'Self-praise is no recommen dation." "True, but is only a matter of temperament, replied Ned calmly. "I never saw a clever man who hadn't" a good opinion of himself-that is, if he only dared express it. But fear, or dread of ridicule, in nine cases out of ten prevents him. It' s not that he doesn't know that he is bright, but he's a fraid to hurl it at people's heads, for fear of their and stric tures, which is the only thing him from coming out flat-floated and saying what he think s." "It won't prevent you, that's certain," said Nick dryly. "No, sir, I'll take care it don't. Why? Because I've the courage of my convictions But setting that aside," pursued Ned, "I can simply say this-that I can be of considerable assistance t o ycm." PAGE 85 82 Daft Ned Proves a Surprise. "In what way?" "In the way of helping you find your two friends, Goodrich and Ramsey." "Ha!" cried Nick, now thoroughly interested. "You know something about them?" "Yes. I saw them attacked and carried off by Mesurier's men. A surprise they did not expect, in con equence of which they were easily jverpowered before they could defend thems e lves, and were 4urried away in the direction of the old manor house. Oh, there was no earthly chance of helping them, Mr. Car ter, and had you been there you, no doubt, would have been equally h e lpless as myself. A dozen men, armed to the teeth, are big odds to tackle, and discretion sometimes is of more value than a lion's courage, ,\hich, under certain conditions, is foolhardy rash ness." "That is so, too," acquiesced Nick, surprised at the Yolubility, not to say eloquence, of a young fellow said to be half-witted, but whose senses were as acute a s it was possible for them to be. "Yo u alluded to a Mesurier," said the detective. "Who and what is Mesurier ?" "Well, he was once a paymaster in the United States army-a major. Certain defalcations were discovere d in his accounts-to the extent of thousands of dollars I believe He was tried by court-martial, and dis missed from the army in disgrace Being a born r o gue, and a daring one, he threw his lot in with a gang of criminals, and almost ever since he's been as the leader of one of the most powerful PAGE 86 Daft Ned Proves a Surprise. 83 organizations of outlaws in this country. The rami fications of this band of marauders extend even to London, the capital of England." "You seem to know considerable of Mesurier and his gang. Perhaps you know, also, that a murder was committed here yesterday and how they disposed of the body of the murdered man?" "Yes, I know a little about that, too," Ned said, smiling, "I saw them last night sink the body in the lake-the body which Mr. Ramsey recovered, only to lose again, when you gentlemen went in search of the coroner." "You know a good deal." "Yes, much more than Mr. Carter is disposed to give me credit for. But that cuts no ice with me. I'm here to do my duty, and if Mr. Carter will ac cept my services, he is wekorne to them. There's much more at stake in this case than his wildest im aginations can dream of." "Why did you run away when we saw you to-day?" Nick asked. "I had to play a role and played it. I had con cluded to work alone. But since then-I mean the earlier part of the day-I have changed my mind. I am going to work for Mr. Carter if he will have me. I don't think he'll regret it, either. That is what Ned Richardson says, and he will abide by his words." PAGE 87 CHAPTER XIII. NED RICHARDSON'S IDENTITY. It was the morning of the seventh of April. The hour, eleven o'clock. The scene, an apartment in the brownstone front on Schermerhorn Street, alluded to before by us on the arrival of Miss Tempest in Brook lyn. Miss Tempest is in the cozy parlor in the rear of the house, engaged in the composition of a letter, when the doorbell rings. She puts pen and paper in the drawer of the little desk at which she is seated, then rises to her feet. A smile crosses her face. She has been evidently expecting some one. She hears the front door open, then come light steps along the passage. These stop at the door of the parlor. Then a gentle rat-a-tat sounds into the room. Lydia walks lightly to the door and opens it. What follows is surprising. A boyish-looking figure is clasped in Lydia Tempest's arms, and in another second they are hugging and kissing each other at a great rate The reader would never dream who the newcomer is. So it is manifestly our duty to tell him. The visitor is the Ned Richardson of the night be fore, the supposed "Daft Ned" of the village and the Babbington Manor grounds. What has he in common with the ex-variety actress, Lydia Tempe st? Let what follows declare itself and explain "I am glad you landed all safe, dear," began Ned, when he had taken a chair and seated himself. PAGE 88 Ned Richardson's Identity. 85 dear, I am also glad. The voyage came nigh killing me, and but for poor Ernest's sake, I should never have taken it. But they tell me he has gone back again--" "They told you a falsehood," interrupted Ned ex citedly. "Your worst fears, Lydia, have borne bitter fruit. Can you hear bad news, or are your nerves strong enough to learn the worst?" "Oh !-oh !-oh!" And Lydia Tempest immediately w.ent to weeping, sobbing as if her heart would break. "Oh, to think of it!" she cried. "Poor fellow! I knew they would kill him, and they did! There was something that that Mesurier said yesterday morn ing. and it struck me that poor Ernest was no more something about an enchanted stethoscope and heart pulsations, and it referred to Ernest-oh !-oh !-oh! -and so they have murdered him? Poor little chap; it was a beastly shame, and him so good, and him so good." Another outburst of weeping followed. "How much worse would it have been," Ned inter rupted, "had you loved the lad-instead of--" Lydia stopped her sobbing instantly, and, flashing up. said: "lnstead of what?" "Well, to indulge in plain language, bleeding him! Yon must admit, Lydia, dear, that he was your dupe as well as Throgmorton's, and Throgmorton, in my opinion, is worse than Mesurier-ineffably worse. Ifs no use doing the indignant, Lydia, "the truth ca1 - PAGE 89 86 Ned Richardson's Identity. not be gainsaid. If you loved the young man then, of course, all would be very different." Lydia had already dried her eyes. Her grief was not of a very protracted character. It was evident that what Ned said was the truth, and that the loss o f young Brabazon was not irreparable. Now he was dead and she would soon forget him, and console her self with some new admirer. "I was very fond of him though," she murmure PAGE 90 Ned Richardson's Identity. 87 "How dare you!" cried Ly PAGE 91 88 Ned Richai-dson's Identity. funny. No, seventeen! I disillusioned him by add ing four years more; and the man looked as if he didn't me-and I don't think he did," added Ned, laughing. "So you said you were twenty-one?" said Lydia. "Yes, and a few days over." "You deceived the man even at that," Miss Tempest bluntly replied. "Now, Bertha, how old are you?" she went on. "You're a fine sister to ask such a question!" came from Ned frowningly. "You know what my age is well enough-twentyseven next birthday." "\iVhy, you have been twenty-seven the last three years!" cried her sister, laughing. "Bertha, you are thirty, if a day. But I'll admit you look young-very young. That comes, of course, from not worrying over anything." "What's the good?" said Ned, with an expressive shrug. "Let me tell you, Lydia, there is nothing in this world worth worrying over five minutes. Even existence itself is so transitory that it is barely the fraction of a second compared to the eternity of time." "I declare, you are getting quite a philosopher," said Lydia, laughing. "Better be a philosopher than a foal," interjected Ned coolly. "But let us stop all this nonsense for the present, and get down to business. I cannot rernam long with you, for I must be back to Babbington Manor.' PAGE 92 Ned Richardson's I 89 Lydia managed to squeeze a few tears out as she pictured the dead body of Brabazon, as described now by the amiable but material "Ned." "But you are sure that it is poor Ernest?" said the sis ter quaveringly. "Sure! As sure as I see you sitting there now. Why, my dear, I saw the body twice, and the ugly hole in Brabazon's temple. That he was murdered there can be no doubt. Are you aware that he brought a large sum of money over wi th him?" ''.From London, you mean?" "Yes." "I believe he brought a hundred thousand dollarsif not more. Poor, dear boy! How much better would it have been for him to have stayed in London and left this wretched property to anybody who wanted it! It was the money that tempted them. But for that he would have been alive and well to-day. P oor Ernest-poor Ernest!" kept repeating Miss Tempes t till she was told to "shut up!" by the matter-of fact Neel, who knew that her grief was more or less assumed. What the woman really regretted was the money' she would lose by Brabazon's untimely end. "It is shocking," she averred later. "But an end must come to all things, and my sorrow for poor Ernest can never bring him back to life." "Now you speak like a sensible person!" exclaired Ned. "It's for you now to make the best terms with his murderers. As I have said before, I would hang th e m myself, but that would be very poor satisfac- PAGE 93 90 Ned Richards o n' s Identity tion. For myself, I have no use for revenge while there's a chance of getting twenty or thirty thousand dollars out of the murderers. I must tell you, my dear Lydia, that .there are three detectives on the track. I had seen them s eyeral times in the village, and kept keen watch upon t hem, discovering all I could wit h regard to them. They mu s t be checkmated somehow, or your chance of making anything out of the c as e will be very slim inde e d." Then Ned detailed his meeting with Nick Carter, and the latter's disc o very of the counterfeiters' retreat by means of the copper wire, and the subsequent at tack a nd c apture o f Ramsey and G oo drich by Mesu rier and some of his followers. "I think I pla y ed my cards very n e a t ly there," Ned pursued with a laugh "I made e v en Carter belie v e that I was in ignorance of his pre s e nce an d the e x ist ence of the copper wire until I had made a sham e x ploration by descending into the subt erranean apart ments, while I knew well that he was watching me. To further the deception I brought up a couple .of small bags of the spurious coin and threw them to the foot of the sycamore. Mr. Carter is as shrewd a m a n as I ever met but, my dear, he was no match for a woman's cunning. Then I volunteered to hel p him dis cover his friends, searching every place but the right one until it was between one and tw o thi s m o rning, when we parted to meet again this afternoon bet w e e n the h o urs of four and five o'clock." 'I am almost sorry for the poor man." Mis s Tem pest PAGE 94 Ned Richardson's I de11tity. 91 'And wherefore?"' "That you should ha'tloG so deceiYed him. Did he never suspect you?" "Not for an instant." "What did he think you were?" "A New York private detective, my dear, and he parted with me under that impression.'' "Very clever indeed, Bertha," said the sister "But how long do you think that deception will last?" "Until you arrange with Mcsurier and Throgmorton. Be candid with them. State the amount of your claim; then tell them, in case they agree, that their only chance to escape arrest is to fly the country. Tell them, too, about me, if you feel disposed. I've had a good chance of studying both men, and if my opin ion is worth anything, I think they're abmtt two as big cowards as walk the earth. You'll frighten them into giving you a share of Brabazon's money, take my word. But le:,t they're inclined to play I've a couple of spiendid revolvers, which I have bought for you, and, as Throgmorton knows you're an Ar shot, there will be no such thing as molesting you. Play your carrJs well, Lydia, and we can go back to Lon dot.:i comfortably fixed. Do you see how prettily I have arranged it all?" Miss Tempest took the revolvers and examined them. "Yes, my dear, you have arranged it very prettily indeed," she replied. "They will be here to-night at seven, and I will spring a surprise on them." "Can you keep them till eight?" asked Ned. PAGE 95 92 Ned R ichardson' s Identity. "Yes, without a doubt," was Miss Tempest's reply. "Don't say it if you can't do it." "I tell you I can do it !" replied the si!'lter sharply. "Very well, then; I'll be in at the death, and it will be surprising if we can't both manage them. Twenty to thirty thousand dollars, or nothing. You'll n0t fail to remember?" "No." PAGE 96 CHAPTER XIV. NICK'" CARTER AT SEA. Let us now return to Nick Carter. After the most ineffectual eff ort..i to discover where Mesurier and his men had conveyed Goodrich and Rams ey the detective parted with Daft Ned, and re turned to the village inn completely There was nothing to do now but to retire to h : s room, and indulge in the few hours' sleep he so ba d ly needed. The Babbington Manor house had been searched from attic to cellars. Nothing had been found, however, to show that it had the slightest co n nection with Mesurier and his gang. Other places hai l been explored too, with a like result. Ramsey aml Goodrich had di s appeared as completely as if the earth had swallowed them. Nick had ample food for thought. But his tired mind, for maybe the first time in his life, failed him, and he fell into a deep sleep, from which he did not awake till it was close on eleven o'clock the following morning. He might have slept on even then but a l oud hammering on the door of his bedroom promptly brought him out of bed with a spring. "Well, what's up?" he ca1led out, half angrily. "Is t he inn on fire?" "No; a gentleman to see you sir," replied a voice, which he knew to be the landlord's. "I've been trying to wake y0ti up for the last ten minutes You mu s t me !'ir for hammering at the d oo r a 1 did." PAGE 97 94 Nick Carter at Sea. "That's all right," said Nick. "Tell the gentleman I will join him in five minutes. I must have been in a sound sleep, indeed, or I would have heard you be fore." "Much obliged, sir; I'll tell the gentleman." Then the landlord's steps could be heard descending the stairs to the lower apartments of the inn. Nick hastily made his toilet. Then he descended to the common room of the tavern. He looked around and saw a rough but powerful-looking man seated at a table The man had a pewter measure before him, and he 'ms engaged in making a meal of bread and cheesew hich he devoured with the zest of a sharp appetite. There was no other body in the room, so Nick con cluded that this must be the man who wished to see him. If he had any doubts about it they were soon dispelled by the entrance Qf the landlord, who broke i11 \\'ith: "This is the gentleman, sir, who desires to see you." Oh, indeed! Well, sir?" said Nick. "Will you pl eas e explain the nature of your business?" The man's mouth was so full of the bread and cl1eese that he had to take a big swallow of the liquor which the mug contained so hecould reply to the detective's interrogation. When he had succeeded in clearing his throat, he said abruptly: "I understand you are Mr. Carter, the detective?" "Yes, that's my name-well?" "Well, sir, I've c o me here e s peciatly to see you PAGE 98 Nick Cart er at Sea. 95 You have two friends named Goodrich and Ramsey, I believe?" Nick admitted that he had, but at the same time he could not help regarding the man suspiciously. In the first place he did not like his face, which was of a very coarse, cunning, iow order-more befitting a criminal than an honest: man. "Well, what of Goodrich and Ramsey?" questioned Nick. "What do you know about them?" "I know that they're in danger-and, what is more, I know where they have them incarcerated." "Who has them incarcerated?" the detective asked. "The outlaws of Babbington Woods. Maybe you don't know who the outlaws of Babbington Woods are? said the fellow with a leer. "They are the men who attacked your friends last night in the timber surpriosed them in fact-and then hurried them away to a certain place which I can point out-always pro viding there's some money in it for my time and trouble." ''You are not doing this for charity, I see," said Nick dryly. "What would you account fair payment for your time and trouble?" "So long as yqu are a generous paymaster, I will leave that to yourself," replied the fellow,, finishing his pewter measure of ale, after which he put the re main s of his bread and cheese in his coat pocket. "Time .)s money with me." "And you know these men are deprived of their iberty-and where they are?" "That is it exactly." PAGE 99 96 Nick Cart er at Sea. "Where are they?" "Half a dozen miles from here-in an old house near the seaside." "How did you get to know that?" suspiciously. "Because I followed them," unhesitatingly. "And saw them attacked?" "No-that is, I wasn't on the ground when they were attacked. It was subsequently I traced them through the woods, and to the rookery where they are at present imprisoned." "Did you ever see these gentlemen before?" questioned the detective sharply. "No, I did not." "Then how is it that you know their names?" "I got that from their captors." "Then you know the men who attacked them; 1s that it?" queried Nick, more than ever suspicious. "No; you are wrong, sir. I do not know the men who assailed them; but, as I followed up, I heard those names mentioned, not once but several times, so th PAGE 100 Nick Carter at Sea. 97 "I heard him saying he was a farmer," remarked the landlord. "That is not so, as I know every farmer within a radius of twenty miles of the village. "And you thini< he' s lying? said Nick. "If he says he's a farmer, I'm sure he i s lying, the landlord rejoined. "There's not much of the farmer about him, I assure you." "That' s what I think. He looks to me more like a criminal than an honest man," said the detective with emphasis. "Don't let him lead you on any wild-go ose chase, sir "Reit assured I won't," said Nick. PAGE 101 CHAPTER XV. THE VISITOR COMES TO GRIEF. The detective, after ordering his breakfast, went back to the man whom he had left in what is called, in hotel parlance, the common room. He coul(I obtain no further information from the landlord of the inn, excepting that the latter had seen the stranger for the first time, and that it was no doubt his object to lead the detective into some possible danger, an opin ion which, we may add, was shared in by Nick him scl f from the beginning. He resolved to watch every movement the fellow would make, and yet not give him an opportunity to see that he was doing so. So while his breakfast was being prepared, he started in to chat pleasantly with him. "Have you been long in this neighborhood?" the de tective casually asked. "\i\Tell, no and yes," replied the burly stranger, as he filled a well-seasoned brier root with tobacco and lit it. "I've thirty acres of land about ten miles east of here, but I've not been long enough in my present location to be acquainted around about as I should be -not, at least, in the village; though I was born and Lred near the seaside, fifteen miles due west of this "Before I went to farming," he went on, "I was a fisherman, but as the profits were not worth talking about, I thought I'd ch<'Ose an agricultural pursuit for a while, anyhQW1. till times changed." PAGE 102 The Visitor Comes to &nr:f. 99 "Farming is not the lightest work in the world," said Nick reflectively. "I was a farmer once myself, and know where,of I speak." "You surprise me!" the other ejaculated. "I should never have taken you to have been a farmer. It must be some years ago, 9f 'cour se?" "Yes, indeed. I was but a stripling at the time. But I'm as good at the business rn;>w as I was then --once a farmer, you know, always a farmer," Nick added, laughing pleasantly. "It doesn't seem to fit your case, though, Mr. Car ter," said the other dryly. "No? How so?" asked Nick. He kept his eyes fixed on the man's hands, which appeared to make the fellow nervous and anxious, for he kept moving them about in every conceivable way. "Well, Mr. Carter, if anybody told me you were ever in that line, I should be inclined to say he lied. That probably would be too harsh an expression; I would doubt him, that's all. Why are you a detec ti ve, pray?" "Because it suits one of my peculiar temperament," smiling. "Have you made a fortune at the business?" "\Vhy do you ask that question?" "Because from every indication I think you're n o t a heap better off than myself." "You judge rashly maybe?" "I think not. Would five thousand dollars cover your wealth?" the stranger put bluntly and impu dent)- PAGE 103 roo The Visitor Comes to Grief. "It might not," replied the detective, without the least show of temper. "But I suppose five hundred would cover yours, and no doubt it does?" "My bit of land is worth t w o hundred dollars an acre," was the boasting reply. "Thirty acres at two hundred dollars would foot up to the nice little sum of six thousand." "And all under cultivation?" "You can rest assured as to that, sir. I allow not a rod to go to waste, so, you see, my busine s s is a better paying one than yours That i s the reason I concluded you were a poor farmer, and ha v ing no talent for agriculture you must need be a thief catcher, a position which I don t think much of, to tell you the truth. "Humph I said Nick, and said no more just then, for at that moment the landlord brought in his breakfast. Carter, in a way, had forced this conversation him self. Of course he had an object in view in doing so. He had followed the man's hands sufficiently l o ng to see they were small, remarkably well formed, and that the palms were uncalloused. It was easy to detect, too, that the stranger had not worked in years at any kind of manual labor. This was the one thing that the de tective considered well worth noting. He said no more but went on with his breakfasta delicious dish of savory bacon and eggs, several slices of sweet homemade bread, and a pot of the most fragrant coffee. Nick had al s o observed that the soi-disant farmer PAGE 104 The Visitor Comes to Grief. IOI was armed with a brace of revolvers and a murderous dirk knife. In his nervous fidgeting about his coat had got dis arranged, disclosing the small but dangerous armory of weapons to which we have alluded. "So you want to entrap me?" cogitated Nick. "But, farmer or not you will find how mistaken you are m your man." Then he went on eating with evident relish and as coolly as before, just passing an occasional word with his burly-looking visitor, but all the time closely watch ing him out of the corner of his eye. Whether the stranger observed this or not, his uneasiness seemed to grow on him. It was while the foregoing occurred that two new arrivals entered the common room of the inn. They proved to be the little justice of the peace, whom the detective had met the day before, and a man who had been chosen to act as a juror in the case of the mur dered Brabazon. The justice, seeing Nick, saluted him cheerily. "Good morning, Mr. Carter," said he. "Anything more about that stolen body?" "I regret to say not even as much as a dew," was the detective's disappointing response. "And no possible chance either. Am I so to iufer, Mr. Carter?" pursued the justice. "I'm not prepared to speak as to that," replied Nick. "I have no hesitation, though, in that the remains of the murdered man will be discovered! PAGE 105 102 The Visitor Comes to Grief. It is only a matter of time when the assassins will be brought to justice, and the whole mystery cleared up. How is our testy little friend the coroner? Has he got over his tantrums yet?" "Upon my word I don't think he bas. He's already given the details to every patient in his district." "And doubtless added to the story. Well, weil Carter pursued with a smile, "we have all our pec cadillos, and the pompous little doctor is no exception. Five inches added to his height might make him a veritable tyrant though." "He's tyrant enough as it is," the justice inter jected. "God forbid that he should be any taller. If he was there would be no putting up with him. They call me 'Shorty,' but I can beat him in height by the fraction of an inch every day in the week." At this the little man laughed lleartily, mimicking O'Hanlon in one of his "fiery" moods to perfection. But while this byplay was occurring, another and more important feature was taking place within a few yards of them. The man who had come in with the justice of the peace was almost a Hercules in height and build. His attention at first was riveted on the magistrate and Nick Carter. But, turning suddenly, he caught sight of the detective's visitor. For a moment he started back as if an adder had bitten him. Then his powerful face flushed angrily, his eyes glowed with uncontrollable rage, and with a bound he sprang across the table, and before the soi-disant farmer could med this fierce onset he was hurler! to the i:"round. PAGE 106 The Visitor Comes to Grief. 103 This was followed by the deafening report of a: pistol shot, the bullet of which did no further damage than the shattering of a small circular mirror, which hung from the wall nearest the barroom. "I have him! I have the rascal!" cried the excited farmer. "He tried to shoot me, but I have naile him this time to rights !" ,, I PAGE 107 CHAPTER XVI. THE OUTLAWS' RETREAT. N to know what had actually become of Goodrich 11d Ramsey. We shall go back to four o'clock on the afternoon of the previous day, while the de tectives were lounging about the village tavern wait ing for darkness to set in before setting out for the Babbington Woods. Two miles due west of the Babbington Manor house stood an old, deserted, forlorn-looking brick build ing. In appearance it might have been a farmhouse -once prosperous and respectable, but now in the last stages of ruin and decay. This possible homestead had once been girdled by stout wooden palings, in the center of which was a large, dilapidated-looking gate; half of the latter had fallen and lay on the sodden, weed-covered ground. The windows in front of the huilding were for the most part broken and shattered almost in every pane; even the sashes in some in stances had been bodily carried off by the vandals o f the neighborhood, to whom the old homestead had been apparently an eyesore for many a long year. The farmhouse-that is, if it ever had been onewas situated in the depths of a thickly studded forest of pine, larch, elm, and oak and any guantity of brush and undergrowth. It was as wild and dreary a sp o t as the mind could conceive of, and for that reason pe r haps a far safer asylum for Mesurier and hifi men .. PAGE 108 The Outlaws' Retreat. I05 than any other part of the Babbington Manor prop erty. The hour, within a few minutes of four in the ,..... afternoon. Three men have merged from the dep't11s of the dense forest. Two of the three need no further introduction at our hands. They are Scaldy Bill and Mesurier. The other, .. a coarse, man, whose hands and feet are quite PAGE 109 106 The Outlaws' Retreat. lowers. Here they sleep, eat, and plan their depreda tions. "Comfortable, very," began the big man, glancing up at the building. "No one would dream it was in such good repa:ir by taking a front view of it." "No; you're right. But what do you think of the water there?" said Mesurier, turning and pointing to the slimy pond. "Fever and ague, and in plenty," replied the big man. "Full of malaria," coincided Scaldy Bill, with an expressive shrug. It would be an A1 place for th ose now. A fortnight in the cellars :would do for them as good as a knife thrust, pistol bullet, or a dose of strychnine. I'll warrant a short term here would make them sick of nosing around the Babbing ton MatJor grounds. And now that we've disposed of the 'stiff,' why not turn our attention to them, and settle them? What if I should go to the village and get all the information possible. You may rest as sured, major, we've not heard the last of those chap s ; and if they're not hereabouts to-night, I'll eat my hat -and boots, too. Such 1l1en usually do their fine work under the cover of darkness. If you say 'start,' I'll be off now at once." "Where to?" said Mesurier languidly. It was easily seen that the ex-army paymaster was suffering from a congested liver, the outcome o f breathing exhalations from that poisonous bod y of water which we have already adverted "I have hi>.a.rd they are stopping at the. inn there. ( PAGE 110 The Outlaws' Retreat. It would be no hard thing for me," went on Scaldy Bill, whose language was much choicer to Mesurier than to Hartrey. "It would be no hard matter to me," pursued he, "to lounge about the inn for half an hour and ascertain the particulars of what their plans are to be." "Seeing you loitering about might make them sus picious!" objected Mesurier. "Oh, no; I'll take care of that. "They won't have the remotest suspicion but what I am what. I have al ready represented myself-a buyer of butter and eggs from the farmers, for one of the big restaurants of New York City. Trust me, major, to bring you good news. Rest assured I'll return knowing considerably inore than when I went; and as I'm not a bad actor, I'll have less difficulty in obtaining my information. You see, I can do the educated or the noneducated racket equally well, and can, if it serves me, be as tough as the worst of 'em." A little later it was decided that Scaldy Bill should g o to the village, and discover all he could about Car ter, Ramsey, ana Goodrich and their next probable mo v ements. Scaldy Bill did his work to perfection in this respect. Reaching the village, he went boldly into the com mon room of the inn, sat down at one of the tables and ordered refreshments. The landlord seemed to kn o w him, and they had quite an interesting chat together-mostly about the butter and egg market, and the prospect of things getting cheaper as spring ad vanced. PAGE 111 ro8 The Ou,tlaws' Retreat. Scaldy Bill did not seem to pay much attention to the detectives who were lounging about, smoking and chatting. But, careless and indifferent as he seemed; he had his ears and eyes open, and drank in everything of value that the detectives said; and, indeed, on that occasion Ramsey's soi11ewhat thoughtless, or, rather, impudent, questions brought out many important points, which had far better have been left unex plained. Learning all he cared to of the detectives' prospective movements, he paid his -reckoning, shok hands with the landlord and went away. Making a s t cut through the woodland, he reached the dilapi dated house some time before dark. His story was eagerly listened to by Mesurier and the man with the abnormally small feet and hands, and, at the end, the former exclaimed : "You have worked out all your points admirably, and, if everything goes as I expect, the detectives will be confined in the cellars of this old house before morning." "I see no prospect of failure," ventured Scaldy Bill, "providing you take men enough with you and pounce on them quick enough. Let them have a chance to use their guns, and they'll give you an argument you'll little relish, for I've heard that they are pretty good shots." "I, myself, shouldn't care to take chances with them," chimed in the big man. "No, and we won't take ch a nces," interpolated major. PAGE 112 The Outlaws' Retreat. 109 Then he gave some instructions to Scaldy Bill, and the latter went away in search of the outlaws who were to compose the capturiog party. By dark, twelve heavily armed men left the old house and made their way through the woods. The sudden, heavy thunder storm forced theh1 to take shelter in an old, deserted hut in one of the clearin .. gs of the forest. This halt, brief as it was, was favor able to Nick's escape, for, while the detective was expl,oring the sub terranean apartments underneath the sycamore stump, hi s two fi:iends Ramsey and Goodrich, were suddenly pounced upon, and, before they could make the least defense, they were bound and gagged. After searching for Carter for a few minutes, they started back through the woods with their captives. Then it was decided that the big ma.n with the small hands and feet should visit the village inn 'next day and inveigle the detective, by some specious story, to accompany him to the "old by the seaside," as he called it. PAGE 113 CHAPTER XVII. WHAT HARRINGTON HAS TO SAY. "Yes, the scoundrel thought to shoot me, but I've got him to rights," cried the farmer. "He'll not hold up another man, you can bet your life on that." As he spoke, bang went another pistol shot. The landlord and some of his help came rushing into the ro om-among others several stalwart young farmers, who had been attracted to the inn by the startling report of the first pistol shot. when the second had been fired, Nick thought it high time to make a move-knowing how the man was armed and what desperate tactics he would resort to to escape. He was about to fire his third shot, when N i ck wrenched the pistol from his grasp, grabbed his arms and held them until the other pistol and dirk knife had been taken from him by one of the farmers. "Are you much hurt?" asked Carter of the Hercules who was panting after his fierce struggle-for he saw that the farmer was bleeding freely from a wound in the fleshy part of his right arm, near the sh o ulder. "Not much-a mere scratch," replied the farmer, still breathing hard. "But the case might have been different, if I hadn't made a quick turn when he fired the second shot. That fnove saved me without doubt." "And I express my sincere regret that it did," chimed in the would-be mnrclerer viciously. PAGE 114 What Harrington Has to Say. 11 l "You attacked me without cause, choked me almost into insensibility, and if J.OU had been killed it was only what you deserved. I shot you in self-defense save my life," he said. "Don't believe the infernal robber!" exclaimed the farmer, almost beside himself with rage. "Next he'll tell you that he and three more of his pals didn't hold me up this night two weeks ago when I was returning from New York, after selling my load of producerobbing me of three hundred dollars and a valuable gold watch-which I wouldn't have lost for three hun dred more, as it was a presentation gift. Yes, he will tell you that-and deny he held a pistol to my head, and swore he'd blow my brains out if I gave an alarm! But it was lucky the moonlight was on his face and his f ea tu res were so impressed on my mem ory, that I could never forget him." "But he's a farmer, is he not?" said Nick ironically "As much a farmer as you are President of these United States, Mr. Carter," declared the man who had been robbed. "Yes, I fancy you're right," interjected Nick. "But farmer or not, I'm going to handcuff him. Come, no nonsense," to the prisoner; "your struggles will no t avail you any." Snap! went one of the cuffs-and snap! went the other-to the infinite disgust of Nick's visitor, who, perceiving his struggles useless, bowed with as good grace as he could to what he couldn't help-in a word, to the inevitable. "I don't relish trusting to those wrists and hands of PAGE 115 112 What Harrington Has to Say. yours," pursued the detective "If I had smaller brace lets I would use them. So you're a farmer, wit h thirty acres of well-cultivated lands, and living by the seaside? If I mistake not, my friend, those white, shapely hands of yours have not done work in many years-unless, indeed, in picking a pocket or cutting a throat," he added sarcastically. \Vhile this was going on Coroner O'Hanlon dropped in, and set about examining the farmer's wounded arm. "It's not serious," was his final opinion. "It might have been vrnrse But slight as it is, it will cause you some trouble, and keep you indoors for the next eight or nine days. I perceive the bullet has passed through the fleshy part of your arm-and thus saved you in a measure." The doctor then se about binding the wounded man's arm, and, having received a liberal fee, left the inn without further comment. During the proceedings he did not affect to notice either Nick dr the justice-a fact, if the truth must be told, which gave the gentlemen named little or no c o ncern. "And now what are you going to do with him?" th e farmer inquired; when the coroner had retired "It \ not safe to keep him in the village twenty-four lvH rs, for when his accomplices find where be i s they'll make an attempt to rescue him." "Isn't there a strong room in the inn which can hold him till to-morrow?'' asked Nick. PAGE 116 What Harrington Has to Say. IIJ The landlord did not relish such an arrangement, for he said: "Would it not be safer to take him to Brooklyn?" "No doubt of it, if I could but spare the time, re plied the detective. "But the deuce is I can't.' "Besides," added he ih a fower key, "I should like to have some talk with him before he leaves. It's with regard to the two gentlemen who were here yes terday." So it was decided to hold the prisoner at the tavern, until his removal could be effected safely the following day. several of the young farmers volunteered to guard the pri s oner till h e could be thus removed. They understood the importance of the capture too well to allow any of the landlord's timid scruples to inter ere in the matter; so the prisoner was marched upsta i r s and lodged in the strongest room in the build ing, with a stalwart guard outside the door to see he didn't escape, or hold communication with any of his acc o mplices, who might happen to be lurking about the village. This done Nick waited for the arrival of Ned Richardson-otherwise Daft Ned-o!herw1se Bertha Tempest. He did not quite know what to make of this young person, and had grave doubts with regard to Ned's professions. He did not for a moment, however, sus pect Ned to be a woman. The alleged private de tective was a puzzle to him, but a puzzle which soon .er or later would be made as plain as day. Nick expected Ned Richardson to call on him at PAGE 117 114 What Harrington Has to Say. three o'clock. He had still an hour and a half to wait, and in order to pass the time he concluded to interview his prisoner. Having made known his in tention to the landlord, he passed upstairs. The door of the prison room was guarded by a stalwart young farmer named Kane. He was armed with one of the prisoner's revolvers, which he was determined to use if the case called for it. This was not unlikely if the man, as the wounded farmer had alleged, was one of the highwaymen wh6 ha PAGE 118 What Harrington Has to Say. I I 5 expect this, but as it's come, where's the good of crying? I'm not one of that kidney, as you have no doubt discovered before this." "It was unlucky for you the farmer came in as he did," interjected Nick, as he kept his eye fixed on every movement of the other. "I have nothing to say about that. That is for a court of justice to decide, and the less said now the better." "It will go hard if the crime is fastened on you," pursued Nick. "It means a fifteen years' sentence in Sing Sing. Then what could a farmer want carrying a small armory about with him? This alone would condemn you on the face of it." "Well, I admit appearances are against me," re plied the prisoner gravely. "But people must go armed these days to protect themselves." "What, with two revolvers and a murderous dirk knife?" cried Nick, with raised eyebrows. "Why, man, that very fact would convict you in any court in the land. There would be no saving you if that came out. Don't you perceive the danger you are in ?" "And you are going to save me, eh?" sneered the prisoner, as he returned his pipe to his mouth. "I don't see why I shouldn't, if you help me to bring this rascally gang to justice." "What gang do you allude to?" coolly. "The l\1esurier gang, of which you are a member," returned Nick pointedly. "It is no use of your deny ing it; I knew it from the first-just as soon as I clapped eyes on you. The story -oi vour being a PAGE 119 1 r6 What Harrington Has to Say. farmer I knew to be false. In that regard even y>ur bands would give you away." The prisoner involuntarily looked down at his hands. "Yes; they are small and white, and don't look like a workingman's hands," he admitted slowly. "It would have been better if you had thought of that before," said Nick. "Possibly." "Another thing-that man wouldn't have jumped on }OU,_ if you hadn't robbed him." "A case of mistaken identity," with a forced laugh. "Tell that to the marines," said Nick brusquely. ''If it were only a case of mistaken ideniity, would you try to murder the mijl? You did your best to kill him! Not content witli firing one shot-you must discharge another-and. a third, if I hadn't stoppe PAGE 120 J 'vhat Harring.ton Has to Say. 117 unly an envelope, anyhow, and much good may it PAGE 121 u8 What Harrington Has ta Say. he has in a way gone back on them. That little shoot ing scrape has blown over, and you may return safely without the turning of a hair. Y oursJ "'CHARLEY.' 'Charley' has given you good advice, Dick; and had you heeded it, you would have escaped from your present trouble," said Then he proceeded, after again glancing at the letter: "I fancy, Dick, that I know a little about your pal, 'Charley,' and the shooting scrape he aUudes to. Your case is far worse than I believed it, my boy. But I can square you all right in even that, if you'll just do what I want you to, which are much better terms than you'l1 get elsewhere, believe me." I PAGE 122 CHAPTER XVIII. THE DETECTIVE MAKES TERMS. Dick Harrington was fairly cornered now. The letter had served to make a striking change in his de meanor. He was no longer defiant and indifferent as formerly. He was anxious and fearfulearful of the outcome of that unlucky letter-a letter which he h a d made sure he had destroyed, but which he had failed to do. "The devil take it," he growled; "I'm in for it now, anyhow." T ot if y:::>u help me," replied Nick. "The existence of the letter need never be known but to us two.' "Do you mean it?" "Yes, if you will do what I ask. 'Charley' was right when he said you were running a big risk by st i cking to the Mesurier gang. Now you know Mesu r ier as well as I," pursued Nick, feeling his way skill fu lly, "and you know he would sacrifice you or a h u ndred like y o u t o save himself. Is it your duty to b e loyal to such a man as Mesurier? Certainly not! You have yourself to see to, and nothing but right, either. Now let us take Mesurier's case. First, he is a coward; second, he's a murderer and a false friend; third, he's going to leave you fellows in the lurch the instant he sees it's safe to get out of the country." "Who told you that?" demanded the prisoner, his eyes flashin6. PAGE 123 120 The Detectt"ve Mailes Terms. The next instant his face was without a vestige of color. Nick saw he was working the man on the right lines, so continued to make an impression in him -an impression which would be lasting. "You would be surprised if I told you from whom 1 obtained the information," said the detective with a serious face. "You mightn't believe me, but it's a fact. Now look here-let me tell you one thing-the moment I saw you I knew the purpose of your errand just as well as yourself. I knew you were no farmer; I knew also your object was to inveigle me into Mesu rier's power ; your story about the house near the sea was false in every particular. But I wanted to see how far you would go before I stopped you. The pouncing on you by the man you robued saved me the trouble; and let me say right here, but for me you v. ould be in a worse predicament than you are, for you would have had a cold-blooded murder to answer for--" "No, not cold-blooded," demurred the prisoner with twitching hands. "Yes, cold-blooded! But I saved you the commis sion of a fearful crime, and I am ready again to serve you if you let me--" "The price of which," interrupted Harrington, "is the betrayal of my friends?" "Bah!" interjected the detective. "Mesnrier ancl his gang are no more your friends than mine, or than they were poor, foolish Ernest Brabazon's, whom they murdered and sank in the lake. Yon perceive I know :tll about it, and about thi Throgmorton's c0m- PAGE 124 The Detective Makes. Ter7ns. 121 plicity in the crime. would surprise you ton, the ex-English murderer!" I have e v idence on me now that in regard to Edward Throgmor officer, blackguard, blackleg, and "Carter, you are the devil!" exclaimed Harrington, with an oath. "Where did you tet all your informa tion from?" "I have pledged my to hold that inviolate," replied Nick solemnly, "and my word h a s always been a s good as my oath. I intend that it shall ever remain s o !" "You are a sincere, strong man, Carter-I know that," from Dick. "Thank you for your good opinion," s aid the detec tive, "But recollect, we're not here to compli n 1 ents." "What do you want me to do?" from Harrington. "To help me break up that infernal gang-to aid me in l"escuing my friends, Ramsey and Goodricht o tell me without reserve all you know about Braba z on, and the object of his assassination." "Hold on, Mr. Carter!" cried Harrington. "That fin al clause is as a sealed book to me." "Do you mean the murder of Ernest Brabazon?" l oo king steadily into Dick's eyes. Harrington nodded And then proceeded : "I know they did murder him, but what the object was i s a mystery to me, and doubtless to every oth e 1 member of the gang. "Where do you leave Throgmorton?". PAGE 125 122 The Detective 1.1 akes Terms. "in regard to what?" "The gang." "Throgmorton, so far as I know, is not a memb.e.r of the gang, and never was. He is simply a friend of Major Mesurier--" "And an accomplice in the murder?" "Well, that may be, but not knowing it for .certain, I will not venture an opinion," answeced Harrington, with caution. "One favor I ask of you, though, Mr. Carter," said Dick, '"that is to give me one hour to think this matter over and see what I am going to do." "I'll give you till four o'clock," agreed Nick. "But I warn you that if you are not trnthfu.l in every re spect-if you try to conceal anything from me-I shall cancel all obligations and regard my promise as not having been made. Remember this, Harrington -if you act loyally to me in every respect, I pledge my so1enu1 word that no harm shall come to you, even the shooting and robbing of the farmer. I'll see to it that those charges are never pressed." "This is honest?" "I have pledged my word," replied Nick quietly, "and I never break it. Recollect, four o'clock, which will give you ample time to determine how you are to act." "My mind is almost made up now," said Dick. "But I'll avail myself of the time and weigh every thing carefully." "Do so. Rest assured you will find it to vour in- PAGE 126 The Detective Makes Terms. I23 terest. As to the letter, I will return you that when I find you have acted faithfully by me." .And so saying, Nick left the room, enjoining the guard to take the greatest care of his prisoner. "Trust me," said Kane. "No one goes into the room but you. unless he can make himself invisible and shin through the keyhole." PAGE 127 CHAPTER XIX. OLD ACQUAINTANCES MEET. When Nick Carter went down to the common mom of the i nn it wanted j ust fifteen minutes of three. Ned R ichardson was t o be there at t h ree o'cl o ck sha r p "I'll now have a chance to see the yo u ng gentle man's face by daylight," ruminated Nick, "which at least will be of some advantage. All other l ights are more or less deceptive." He said no more, but took a cigar and lit it, an PAGE 128 Old Acquaintances J.1eet. 125 The second, much beiow the average height-a lad who does not appear to be more than seventeen or eighteen at the most. The ma11 is Captain Edward Throgmorton-the youth "Ned Richardson." when they get within twenty paces of each other Throgmorton stopsstops suddenly, and sharp cry. It is a cry of recognition. Ned affects not to notice it, but the ex-British army officer steps to the front and says: "I was on the outlook for son'le such trick, Miss Tempest. I !"<:cognized you instantly. Besides, I am in recei!}t of a communication from London that you are here-in the interests of Ernest Brabazon." "The reader might think that this girl was abashed at the discovery made by Throgmorton. But such was not the case. Seeing that it was no use denying her identity, she with charming candor acknowledged the ex-army officer was right. "You have sharp eyes, Mr. Throgmorton," she laughed "I've just seen my sister Lydia-and I have prepared her for a visit that you and Major Mesurier intend to make. As to poor Brabazon, the less said about him at this stage the better." "Poor Brabazon !" -Throgn1orton turned crimson at the name, which in turn was succeeded by a deathly pallor. In spite of himself he trembled like an aspen leaf, and for a full minute he couldn't summon up courage enough to speak. When he had sufficiently contr61led himself, he gasped out : "\Vhat do you mean by 'poor Pr:ibazon,' girl?" PAGE 129 "You know well euough \\hat I mean, captain," without a tremor of excitement in her tones. "You gave Lydia to understand that your cousin had returned to England, and she believed you, but I know 'better. Ernest Brabazon is dead. Oh, you needn't frown," said the girl, looking the wretch steadily in the eye; "I am past fearing either you or Mesu rier--" Throgmorton, infuriated with passion, made a step toward her, as if he would seize her by the throat and choke her life out. But the daring girl didn't budge an inch. "f would advise Captain Throgmorton to keep his distance," warned she, coolly, as she flashed in his '.C)"CS the long, shining tube of a revolver. "This weapon happens to be a hair trigger," she 1went on icily, "and the least effort on my part would 5e n d my gallant countryman to kingdom come. I sb J ufd not like to resort to such measures, unless per sonal safety compels me, and then it will be Captain Throgmorton's fault, not mine." "\Vhat does this farce mean, I demand?" Edward Throgmorton was white to his very lips. "It means simply, my sweet friend, that the sooner y o u fly this country the better. It means that the de tectives are already on your track for the murder of Ernest Brabazon!" "It's an infernal lie!" gasped the captain angrily. "Oh, do be a little gentlemanly, do! Don't give a lady the lie! It is positively brutal!" PAGE 130 Old Acquaintances A: eet. 127 The sneering tones of infuriated the man, but that pistol pointed <..t him, with such deadly precision, cvwed him Cold beads of sweat came out on his brow, and by and by rolled down his cheeks while his knees almost smote each other with fear. "Don't you see,'' went on Bertha, "I'm not acting as your enemy, and I am not your enemy; I am simply warning you and Mesurier to leave the country, and thus avert the frightful consequences of your act. It would be folly for you to deny it, as I know the cir cumstances of poor, foolish Brabazon's removal as well as yourself. You and Mesurier must leave the country, I tell you-and at once-unless you wish to brave an ignominious death. But before I wi11 agree that you shall even do that, you must arrange with my sister as to the sum of money you will leave her--'' "Is the girl mad?" gasped Throgmorton, shaking in every limb, "No, captain; I assure you I never was saner. "The detective, Nick Carter, has a letter of yoursthe letter by which you decoyed Brabazon to thi;; country. Not alone that, but a golden clew-a Greek cross set with three rubies-which you were so im prudent as to leave in the slain man's pocket. This last, if nothing else, would furnish his identity-and the letter which you were foolish enough to autograph would complete the rest. Take my advice, call on my sister, let her have thirty thousand dollars as her share-and that is an insignificant sMm in comparison to what yoM have deprived her of-and all will be well PAGE 131 , 128 Old Acquaintances Meet. My lip&' will be sealed, and so will hers. But I warn and Mesurier of one thing-if you try to trick .or play foul, your next ,,abiding place will be within the four walls of a prison. Go now, convey what I have said to Mesurier, and do the right thing by Lydia, and you are safe. I want nothing, and would not ac :cept of anything were you to offer it." "Well, you are a most extraordinary young woman, Miss Tempest," blurted out Throgmorton, scarcely crediting his senses. Am I to understand you are doing all this for fun?" "You may understand what you p lease," replied the ,woman. "I have said all I have to say on the subject-and now it is your and Mesurier's turn to act. Carry out my suggestion and you are safe; fool away precious time, and attempt to play my sister false, and you are done for. Let me advise you to hunt up Mr. Mesurier, and give him in brief what I have said. Good day." Throgmorton, thoroughly unnerved, stepped aside, and Bertha Tempestpassed on to meet her appoint n1ent in the village.' The girl did not seem to have the least fear that the captain would follow her, nor did she even take the trouble to look back to watch any movement he might make. Throgmorton followed her listlessly with his eyes until she made a turn of the road and disappeared among the boles of oaks, elms, and firs through which the path wound. "I could almost admire her calm power," he mut tered, when she had gone. Her sister isn't a circum- PAGE 132 Old Acquainta. nces Meet. 129 stance to her. She must be the very devil, and no mistake. And now to find Mesurier.'" It did not take Throgmorton long to hunt up Mesu rier, and, having found him, he detailed his interview with Bertha Tempest. The major listened to the cap tain's story with a blanched face. "I see nothing for it but to light out," he said. "It's dangerous to remain here longer than we can help. I find there is an ocean steamer sailing from Phila delphia to-mon:ow noon. We must catch it and cut out, if we know what's good for us." "And what about the prisoners?" "The detectives, you mean?" "Yes." "We have no time to bother with them. We must cut, I tell you, and get to Philadelphia by to-night's train. Before leaving, however, we must see this Lydia of yours and fulfill the conditions made by that vixen of a sister of hers. Who would imagine that these women would have such craft? A man's a mere .. child compared to them, Throgmorton; they're as art-ful and cunning as the archfiend himself. Besides, it's as well that we are forced -to run away in this surreptitious manner?" "How so?" from the captain. "How so? \:Vhy, that idiot of a Harrington has been arrested, and, rather than run the risk of fifteen or twenty years' imprisonment, he will tell all he knows, and so bring about the destruction of the gang. No, no, Throgmorton, Babbington Manor is no tonger a safe asylum. We rpust get to London or PAGE 133 1 .130 Old Acquaintances Meet. 1 IParis, where we can lose ourselves. I don't fancy I the thought of paying out that money, though. But I I see nothing else for it. Come, we must get to Brooklyn and call on that Tempest woman. Then off I t o foreign parts. Curse the luck! But I can see no other way to save us." / "One thing. you seem to forget," said Edward, "Brabazon's body." f "True. That must not be found-and won't be, if I can help myself," said Mesurier. "But it is folly 1 losing time n ow Let us hasten and burn that old building to the ground After which nothing will be found but a few charred bones, which will be utterly impossible for them to identify. The worst that I I can see is that letter of yours and the gold cross These you say, the detective has?" "Yes," ground out Throgmorton. PAGE 134 CHAPTER XX. FIGHT AND FLIGHT. When Bertha Tempest wa s with i n a mile ancf a hal f of the village she stopped. "I don't see now why I should meet the detective, she said to herself. "What will be the good of it? I don't want to deceive the man more than I have, and as to saying that I met Throgmorton, that'll be O L'.t of the question. Besides, Mr. Carter is too keen t o fool with-so I'll let well enou g h alone return to Brooklyn, and keep an eye on the two ex-army officer s who may be inclined to act foully with L ydia-no t dreaming she will have any one there to her. It i s seldom I change my mind, but I will change it in this instance." While she was standing in the road, Bertha heard the whirring of a motor. The conveyance was still at some distance, .but rapidly approaching. Presently from a bend in the r oad came bowling along a taxicab which had no doubt come from the v illage, and was journeying Brooklyn ward. The chauffeur was in plain clothes-a fact very gratifying to Miss Tempes t who knew that he could be hired. As the machine came up she called to the chauffetfr to stop. "Going to Brooklyn?" said she. "Yes," he replied. "What will you charge to take me to the junction of FuJton and Flathush A venues?" PAGE 135 132 Fight a11d Flight. The chauffeur named his price, and the fare being moderate, Bertha opened the door and sprang in. It was within a few seconds of the half hour after four :when the car stopped at its destination. Bertha alighted, settled with the chauffeur, and made her way to Schermerhorn Street. A few minutes later she was ensconced with her sister in the cozy back parlor, where we leave her giving an account of her meeting ;with Throgmorton. Let us meanwhile return to Nick Carter. The de tecti ve was patiently awaiting the arrival of "Ned Richardson." Three o'clock struck. "He may be here at any moment," said he; "yet, somehow, I have my doubts that he will come.' There is something peculiar about that young person, and, if for that and no other purpose, I should like to meet him again, and have a good square look into his eyes. Maybe I am wrong, but I doubt his sincerity, and that doubt grows on me the more I think of him." W: The landlord came in and chatted with the detective till three-thirty, but no "Ned" put in appearance. The detective, not much disappointed, went on smoking. But when it was within two minutes of four o'clock, Nick gave Mr. "Ned Richardson" up as an ttnreliable case. I "Well, where's the difference," he said, ''\vhether he comes or not? His absence will neither make nor break me." Then he dismissed "Ned Richardson" from his cal culations, and, rising from his seat, prepared to go upstairs. It was four o'clock, and the detective had PAGE 136 Fight Fiight. 133 to ..t?eet his appointment with the prisoner, Dick Harrington. For an hour. or two that afternoon the PAGE 137 134 Fight and Flight. nor do I want to take a journey to Brooklyn. All I ask is, let 1ne go my own gait, and I'll show these hayseeds as slick a pair of heels as any man in this coUtl.t{Y But I don't want you to do it till I satisfy you tflat I mean a fair deal with you." "Well, let me hear :first of all what you are goi n g to do?" urged Nick. "I'm going to take you to the sp o t where the d e tectives are imprisoned, and help y ou, of course, to liberate them." "They' re n o t in that mythical h o u se by the sea a rc they?" said the detective quizzically. "No, becau s e that place existed only in my imagin a tion," repli e d Harrington, laughing "as well, indeed, as my well-cultivated farm of thirty acres, which occurred to me on the spur of the moment, and whi c h was the wor s t claim I could have made to a man who knew better." "You admit that?" "Indeed, y es! And in admitting it, I :find I'm n o t as clever as I thought-not by a good deal. You are right, Mr. Carter, all criminals are fools. They o v er look some simple matter they should have seen to and as a result, are bowled out and run down all for the want of' caution and common sense. Will you believe me if I tell you this, Mr. Carter?" "I must hear it first. What is it?" "I have done my last stroke as a criminal. Once away from here I mean to reform." "Where will you go?" interrupted Niek, half amused. PAGE 138 Fight and Flight. 135 "To Australia, for there shall have a chance to redeem myself. I have a brother about a hundred miles or "0 from Sydney-as honest and noble a man as ever broke bread. He's wealthy-a great stock farmer-and has written me time and again to come to him, and he would help me with money and lands to build a for myself. The last letter I got was about four months ago. I wish I had it here so I could show you it," pursued Harrington, with much feeling. "It was the letter of a Christian and a scholar-God bless him! That's all I say." Nick would fain credit that Harrington meant well. But he had his doubts, for that very day he saw he was a man of murderous instincts, and his sudc;!en desire to reform did not strike the detective as the genuine article. he trusted he might be wrong, and that Dick meant at least a part of what he said "I suppose you're aware that a good many of Mesu rier's followers are prowling around the village?" said Nick, resuming the colloquy. "Yes," frankly admitted Harrington. "I saw them from the windows of this room. But there were too many eyes on them for them to do any damage. They evidently kt;iow it and have gone. Now, Mr. Carter, listen : When you leave here with me to-night you must take at least half a dozen well-armed me\i, though y@u may not need so many, and I'll tell you why. This is a sort of meeting night, when most of the gang will be ten or twelve miles away from here. The meeting PAGE 139 Fight and Flight is t o d e cide cer tain im p ortant measures connected with the band." "\iVhat are they?" "I ca t\' t tell you I don't know and I question if any member of the band, outside of Mesurier, kn o ws the particular purpose for which this meeting is call e d Howev er, it's just a s well that the great majority of the men will be ab s ent, for then you will hav e less trouble in accomplishing your object. Now, a s to the body of Brabazon, I don t know where they can haYe put it." Nick recalled the note that had been written to Hartrey by Ethel Fraser. It was now the afternoon of the seventh, and the New York meeting was dated to take place on the night o f the eighth, as the reader will doubtle s s recall. "Do you know a Jim Hartrey ?" Nick questioned. "Yes, but very slightly," returned And Dick went on to describe Hartrey's appearance. "Now you mention him," purs ued the cro ok i t occurs to me that he will know somethi n g o f whe re Brabazon's rr-dy is hidden.' "I tho ught as much," said Nick. "Where i s H a rtrey to be found ? "At the old house in the woods." "Do you mean the manor house? asked the d e tective. "No; the general r e ndezvous. The place to which I will guide you tonight. Your question about Hartrey reminds me," pursued Dick "that he is one of the men told off t o guard the P.risoners, while the majority PAGE 140 Fight ana Flight. 137 of the gang attends the meetings. There is also an other man whom we must take into account; he goes by the name of Scaldy Bill, Qu.eer :aame, isn't it? But a mighty intelligent fellow, who, when it suits him, can be as ignorant as a boor. He was here only yesterday taking ".stock of you and your friends; the result of his visit was that Ramsey and Gcodrich were pounced upon and captured. The intention was to bag the three of you; but while the was on you, somehow, got away." Nick pricked up his ears at this. He recalled the man who went among the farmers making purchases for the big New York restaurant, as the landlord led him to believe. "'Will you describe the man you call Scaldy Bill?" he asked. -\ "Certainly," replied Dick. And he did so with a few graphic words. "Yes, I remember the fellow well now," said NicK-. "The trouble is, poor Ramsey was too glib of tongue, and this chap took it all in, though seeming deep in co1wersation with the landlord. It proves that no man can be cautious enough of his words when strangers are about. It will be a lesson and a good one-not alone to Ramsey, but to myself." "The question now is," asked Dick, "when are we to start, and the number of gritty n1en we can get to gether?" '"Will six be enough?" "Ample. But bear in 1rind, every man must be armed.'' PAGE 141 F-ight and Fli{Jht. It was well on to seven o'clock when Nick had his forces marshaled-half a dozen stalwart farmers armed to the teeth. The night was dark, close, and the sky overcast with inky-lined clouds, but without any indication of a storm setting in All of Nick's arrangements had been completed without a hitch, and the villagers were kept in the dark as far as it was possible to keep them. At twenty minutes after seven Nick once more entered the pris oner's room. "Everything is ready," he said. I "Have you your men ?" "Yes." "What about these handcuffs?" said Harrington, indicating them. "You are surely not going to keep me handcuffed through the woods ?" "Oh, no; I'll remove them now. But recollect," said Nick, with firm emphasis, "the first attempt on your part to play me false, you are a dead man !" "I fully unde .. rstand the obligation," replied Dick, smiling. "But if you harbor a doubt as to my word, why, then, leave the handcuffs on." "No, I'll remove them." At seve1a-thirty the little party was in motion, guided by Harrington, who, it was plain, knew every path through the dense timber, and who could have gone to the outlaws' rendezvous, for that matter, blind folded. Nick had faith that Dick would fulfill all he had promised, nor was he wrong in his conjecture, for PAGE 142 Fight and Flight. 139 they presently emerged from the forest and drew up in sight of the old house. "This is the place," whispered "Look ing from the front you would never dream it was oc cupied. Now we'll just steal around to the rear; if we don't give my former comrades a surprise my name's not what it is. Don't forget to have your weapons in readiness, gentlemen, as y 0 u may heed them." This was all. Still guided by Harrington, the party stole to the rear of the old house, and saw a few flash ing lights shooting out. These lights proceeded from the windows, and these windows were on the ground floor. Then could be heard a hum of voices. But not a word of what was said could be distinguished. "Come," whispered Harrington to the detective. "You gentlemen will please stay here for the present. We must get our bearings before acting." Nick Carter followed the crook, revolver in hand. They stole up to the windows of the room whence the shafts of light came. By standing tiptoe it ; as not a difficult matter to look into the apart ment. There were four men in the room, and two out of the four were our acquaintances, Jim Hartrey and Scaldy Bill. "There they are," Dick whispered. "You, of course, recognize two of them?" "Yes. Hartrey and Scaldy Bill." "Precisely. We're far luckier than I had hoped for. We'll now go back, and bring up your men, and please warn them to keep perfectly quiet." PAGE 143 Fight and FHght. "I think we'll have little trouble in bagging them," said Nick. "To be frank, I'd much rather they escaped," re plied Harrington. ''.If Mesurier and Throgmorton were of the party I shouldn't mind. But those two gentlemen will show you a 1slick pair of heels-by get ting out of the country-as you yourself observed. But there is no time to lose. Let us get this thing through with. And recollect, Mr. Carter,the moment you find your friends, you must allow me to make my self scarce. In getting back to the village one of the farmers will act as guide-for I find he knows every bridle path in the forest as well as myself." Nick and Harrington rejoined the party of farmers, and, after a few instructions from the former, they stole into the old house. Harrington led them along a low-browed passage, which was lighted by a feeble light from an oil lamp. At last they stopped before the door of the room from which proceeded the voices of the occupants before alluded to. Unfortunately for the complete success of Nick's mission, a chamber of one of the farmers' pistols was discharged prematurely. The report in that confined space was deafening and so sta rtling that Carter's party for a moment were confused, almost panic stricken. When the door of the room was dashed open, they found the place in utter darkness-and two black figures leaping from the windows. This was followed by the reports of several pistol shots, and a wild ye11 ;:hat could be heard throughqut the building, succeeded PAGE 144 Fight and Flight. by the fall of some heavy body. After this silence. the detective appeared to be the only man who kept his head. He soon had the room lit up, and while three or four of the farmers, who had recovered their self possession, sprang through the windows in pursuit of the escaping outlaws, he turned his attention to a man who was lying prone on the floor, apparently dead. It proved to be Jim Hartrey. A bullet from one {Jf the weapons had passed through his head. Nick, in bending over to lift him up, saw a few spas n1odic twitchings of the wretched man's hands, a slight convulsion of the and body, then the form stiffened out rigid in death! Jim Hartrey had passed before another judge. Ethel Fraser's warning had come too late. "I am glad he didn't suffer much," said a voice at )Jick's elbow. It was Harrington-Harrington, as white as a sheet and trembling in every limb. "I'm glad he didn't suffer much," he repeated. "By all accounts he wasn't such a bad fellow. He was more sinned against than sinning." Carter said nothing. He simply recalled the letter Ethel Fraser had written, and for her sake he wa sorry. "Now, Mr. Carter-for your friends," reminded Dick. "It won't do to stay much longer here." Nick shared a similar opinion, and a few minutes later they were searching the cellars of the old house for the detectives. In a cell-like chamber Ramsey and PAGE 145 Fight and Flight. Goodrich were discovered, stretched on some damp straw, bound hand and foot. It is. unnessary to de scribe the joyous meeting between the three friends; and how the farmers succeeded in capturing Scaldy Bill, whom one of their number had wounded as he was trying to escape. The wound, as in the case of Hartrey, proved mor tal, for the outlaw survived not more than twenty minutes after his capture. His last words were : "It was you who brought this on us, Harrington. It was bound to come to this at last, and I-I forgive you, as I hope to be forgiven!" And with these words trembling on his white lips he died. There is but little more to be told. The bones of poor Ernest Brabazon were never found till years after-in a woodman's hut which had been burned to the ground by Major Mesurier-and even then, of course, they could not be identified as the last relics of the young English aristocrat, whose life had been ended so prematurely and cruelly. Throgmorton and Mesurier had been traced to Philadelphia as passengers on an ocean liner-which ocean liner subsequently foundered at sea within twenty miles of an English port. Had the ship ever got_ safely to _port they would have been arrested for the murder of Throgmorton's cousin. What had become of the sisters Lydia and Bertha Tempest, the detectives made no effort to discover, from the fact that they 1-:new l \ ttle or nothing about PAGE 146 Fight and Flight. them, save for a few rumors Nick had heard several months after, which certainly had no bearing on the Brabazon's case. But we have been credibly informed that the sisters went back to London, and are living quite comfort ably on part of the money stolen from the murdered Englishman. A few days after the fight in the old deserted house Nick had occasion to go into the financial district of New York. It was while strolling along Wall Street that be was recognized by a policeman, who asked him to accompany him to the office of Kasper Kline, who had just been murdered while at his desk. Kline was one of the wealthiest men in "the street." PAGE 147 CHAPTER XXI. DEAD IN HIS DEN. Everybody who clicl business in Wall Street knew old Kasper Kline. He was a man past sixty, as shrewd as a weasel, had a mint of money, and seemed to turn everything he touched into gold. He had a little office in 'Nall, near Broad, and there, with no help but Rolla Narks, his confidential clerk, who seemed to know the old man's business as well as he knew it himself, he grew richer and richer, till one day 111 June ,.,,hen the end came. Old Kline, as he was called, or "Old Money," lived in another part of the city, but none of his associates knew anything about his family and few indeed cared for it. He had a habit of slouching down to toe little office at nine, and there he would remain till four in the afternoon, at which hour he would emerge from the den back of the front room which Rolla Narks presided oyer and betake himself back again. In this he was as methodical as a clock, and for twenty years he had not missed a day. Rolla Narks was a queer-looking man with a long face and a hook-billed nose, which almost touched the ledger as he bent over the desk from his stool. He was as punctual in everything as his master, and more than one man smiled as he, entered the place to find Rolla there as silent as a sphinx and as cool as one. Narks might have been fortr. but he looked ten PAGE 148 Dead in His Den. years older, though, despite his term at the desk he was as limber as a gazel}e whenever he had to catch a car. One June afternoon a woman might have been s een standing in front of old Trinity. It was nearly four o'clock and the crowd that hurrie d past her did not seem to take the slightest notice of her. Four is the last business hour for Wall Street and its money sharks, and a stream of men was pouring from that famous thoroughfare. T he woman, who was well dressed and aLo ut thirty, from her looks, appeared to watch the people who came from the gold street. Every now and then she would move up Broadway a few paces, but she never got far from old Trinity, and she always came back to the same spot, where she would stop again and watch the mouth of Wall Street. Four struck and she smiled. "Hi, there, looking for some one?" asked a boy who had been watching her some time. At first the woman paid no attention to the little '.Arab; but when he repeated this question she turned on him a pair of eyes which seemed to pierce him like an arrow. "Could I hurry him up for a nickel?" queried the boy. "No," snarled the woman. "You can't do anything for me," and she turned up Broadway once more, go ing the length of her beat, and coming back; only the repuls1td boy had vanished. By and by she caught sight of a man who came PAGE 149 Dead in His Den toward her with rapid steps. It was for this person she had waited. There was no doubt of this, as her manner indicated. The couple came together right before the old church, and stopped there a moment. They made the meeting as casual as possible, but it meant something. As the man came up both parties turned down Broadway and walked half a square to gether. The man was saying something to the woman in low tones, and she was listening. No one seemed to take notice of them, for such meetings are every day occurrences in busy New York. "I tell you, Velma, it was a neat job," said the man, who was dark of face and good looking. "YOU didn't fail, eh?" "How could I fail when I had it all to myself?" "Of cour .se not." "You will h ear from it soon Now we will separate and you can go home." "You will come to-night, will you?" "If not to-night, some other night. It is all right and there has been no mistake." They separated, the man keeping on, while the woman turned to the left and walked toward the ferries. About this time Rolla Narks, Kasper Kline's clerk, threw down his pen and turned on his stool. He had had a busy day, and he felt that he could enjoy his evening meal in a little grill not very far off. It was a few minutes past four. Rolla shut the ledger slowly and put the pen on the rack with the utmost cool-: ness. He did not se:xm to be much in a hurry. Per- PAGE 150 Dead in H-is Den. 147 haps he remembered that his employer, Kline, was still in his private room, a little place seven by nine which opened upon an alley. A number of people had seen Old Money on business during the day, and he had just seen the last one, a well-known man, pass out. As if to give his master time to emerge from the den, Rolla Narks methodically placed the ledgers in the safe and then went over to the little washstand in one corner of the room and washed his long hands and brushed his Indianlike hair of inky blackness. It seemed to take him longer than usual, and then he his boots, something which he seldom did. All this took time. It was a quarter past four when Rolla Narks went toward the pri v ate den. It was always open to him. Kaspe r Kline, reputed a mil lionaire, never locked his door to his clerk, and some times he would call Rolla in and ask him about some bonds which he had a notion to buy. When Rolla opened the door he saw that the room was rather PAGE 151 Dead in His Den. Just then, so testified Rolla Narks, he saw a dark stain on the old man's back, just behind where he tC.ought the human heart was to be found. It strangely suggested blood, though he could not think who would kill Kasper Kline. The next moment he raised the old man's head, but dropped it an instant later. Blood was oozing from between the lips, and it had trickled down his white shirt front. Horror of hor rors, the man was dead! Of course Rolla Narks was terribly shocked. He admitted that he felt faint, and that he went over to the sofa and sat down until he could collect his senses.' It seemed to come to him like a whirlwind that his master had been killed-coolly murdered in his own office, and within call of him-Rolla Narks. Perhaps this added to his horror, for he would have rescued Kasper Kline from the murderer's dagger if he had known it was so near, but the crime had been com mitted with great silence, and a life had been taken without a sound. \Vhen he had recovered he passed through the office. so he afterward told everybody, and ran into the nearest office open. "l\1 urder murder!" he shouted, as he ran up to a man seated at a desk. Rolla was as well known in Wall Street as his old master. "Mr. Kline's been killed," he cried. "He is dead in his room!" and then he staggered to a chair and sank into it, utterly overcome once more. Of course there was commotion in the gold street PAGE 152 Dead in His Den. Kasper Kline had been found dead, and just as Rolla Narks had describ d. He had been killed with a dagger, as an examination showed; the blow had been dealt from behind and the heart had received the steel. The windows were found fastened on the inside; the door which led to the second floor was locked, and i t was a mystery which confronted all who came to t h e scene. By this time Rolla Narks had recovered, and was able to talk intelligently. He seemed to be the only man who could tell anything. The authorities took him in charge, and they faced him in the little room and in the presence of the dead. A physician had S1:'lid that Kasper Kline had been dead about an hour ,, hen the old clerk discovered him. Rolla of course could not say. He found looking at him a man with ':l smooth face and a pair of pene trat.ing eyes. This man wore no uniform, but the po live gave way to him as if he was an important per s o n and he did the talking in a soft, persuasive voice. "You generally see your master's callers, don't y ou?" he asked Rolla Narks. "Oh, yes." "You must have seen them all this afternoon?" "I wouldn't like to say that." "\Vhy not?" "Because I might direct suspicion to some innocent person." "Yet it is your duty to tell all you know about Mr. Kline's callers." PAGE 153 Dead in His Den. "I rea lize that. "\iVho was the last one?" "The last one I saw come out of the room?" "Yes, sir." "It was a young Mr. Vane; he has called before ." "When did he leave the office? "It might ha v e been half-p a st three. "Are you s ure he was the last caller?" "The last one I saw, sir." "And you can see all who come to the broker's office?" "Oh, yes, sir," said Rolla Narks, with a smile "Mr. Kline bad my desk placed where it is for that pur pose." "And you think Mr. Vane was the las t caller?" "God help me! I did not see any after he left." PAGE 154 \ CHAPTER XXII. THE DETECTIVE AT FAULT. Rolla Narks uttered his last words with a solemnity that carried weight with it. He did not want to cast suspicion upon an innocent man-it was the last th ing he would do in this world-and he wanted it un derstood that he might have been busy with the ledger busy, in fact, that some assassin rpight have stolen into the private room and passed out again without being seen by him. But this was not likely. No, it was the last thing ..,, one would naturall y think of who knew Rolla Narks. No one ever entered that little place on Wall Street without being seen by him. He had good eyes and ears, and they had never deceived him. The man who was dressed in plain clothes, and who sat with his legs crossed while he plied the clerk with questions, was Nick Carter, the famous detective. It had been his luck to be near the scene of the mur der when Rolla gave the alarm, and he was among the first on the tragic spot. Nick had known Kasper Kline. He had seen the old man on several occasions, but had never had any business transactions with him. As to Rolla Narks, he had never run across him be fore, and now he saw him for the first time. Who was this Mr. Vane, supposed to be the murdered man's last caller? Rolla supplied the information by saying that he was a, ,Y.Qllll&' man wb9 had a position of sc PAGE 155 The Detectirue at Fault. kind on Bvoadway, that his name was Oriel Vane, and that he had called on old Kline several times prior to the tragedy. Beyond this Rolla professed to know nothing ab ou t the young man. When he had answered all questions, Rolla was permitted to go, and, saying that he felt the strain of the excitement, he vanished. Carter remained, and the policeman strolled out t o guard the place till the body shbuld be removed. N ic k turned to the room itself. The body he had examined along with the doctor. He shut the door and look e d at the windows. They were fastened on the inside by a spring, which showed that they could not have been opened from the alley. The door which led to the upper floor was locked on Kline's side, and from what those on the 11ext floor said it had not been opened for months. The detective went through the room with the minuteness of a skilled ferret. The shadows deepened while he searched the prem ises, and when he emerged from the private room into the front office his face told nothing. It seldom d id He sought out a directory, and ran over the V's till he came to the name "Oriel Vane." The directory showed the young man to be a clerk at No. Broadway. In another moment Nick was on his way to the place. He arrived' a few minutes too late, for the pro prietors said that Mr. Vane had obtained two days' leave, and had not at the establishment since ten morning. But Nick obtained the yo.ng man's PAGE 156 I The Detective at Fa1tlt. .. .!J J address-he having mo ve d since the dire ctory w a s p rinted-and again he starte d out 011 th e trail. In a quiet street, s om e distance from the hum of B roadway he fo und the right numb er. A t the door h e was met b y a lady who wait e d for him to speak. \ Yas Mr. Oriel Vane in? She regretted to say that the detective had called a few minufes too late. He h a d left the city. B y boat or car, madam?" asked Nick. By both. He took the ferry first and then the c a rs." Which way did he go? "I cannot tell you. I heard him say that he would be ou t of town for several days, and that he would h av e time to catch the ferry; and, if lucky, the train a lso ." "How long has he been gone?" A b out thirty minutes." If he knew something about Oriel Vane's destina tion he might overhaul him this side the cars, but there wa s the stumblingblock. "Has he relative s anywhere?" he asked at la st. "None that I know of, except a cousin somewhere i n N e w Jersey." Yo n don't know at what particular place?" "I ne v er heard him say." It was v ery perplexing; but the detective had met wit h such obstacles before. l\'. setback at the opening o f a trail was nothing to him; indeed, he nearly al ways expe<:ted it, and finding that he could not track Oriel Vane by standing and quizzing the landlady, he PAGE 157 154 The Detective at Fault. turned back and saw the door closed. Night had closed around the city. Everywhere the lamps were burning brightly, and Nick Carter came down the street with his head bent down and his wits at work. Suddenly he turned into another street and entered another district. "I'll see how the old man lives at home," said he. Half an hour s bri s k walking brought him to the door of an old-fashioned house, and he rang. The portal was promptly opened by a woman, who seemed about to slam it in his face when he spoke. "Is this where Mr. Kline lived?" he asked. "Yes, sir. Are you an officer come to pump me?" "Don't be so tart, madam," said Nick, gazing at the woman, who was a creature of about forty, Amazo nian in her build and a hard person to deal with. "I've been bothered enough since they found him dead at his office." "Of course. You must expect this, for Mr. Kline was a person of some importance, and you--" "Come in, then, and make a martyr of me," broke in the woman. "I am Mrs. Beeson, his housekeeper. I suppose y o u knew that he was a widower with no children, and I have been his housekeeper for thirteen years." "Ah! You knew him well, then?" "No, I didn't; no one did that. He took care o f his own secrets, Kasper Kline did, and he held them und e r lock and key at all hours. I am at your service." Mrs. Beeson folded her arms and stood up before the detectiw PAGE 158 Tlie Detective at Fault. "Did he ever have callers at the house?" "Rarely, sir, rarely." "But he had a few?" "Yes, sir." "Business callers, of course?" "Pretty nearly all of them." "Oh, then he had social friends, eh?" 155 "You'd think so from the bottles they opened m the library sometimes." "Mr. Kline and his friends?" "Yes." "Did they call often?" "Not very. Besides bis lawyers, he had one other friend who came now and then." "What legal firm did he employ ?" "I think he employed Ketch & Fleecem, lawyers, near Wall Street, but I am not sure about the loca"' ti o n of their office. The other friend I know but little about. He was a dark-faced man, who seemed to be v>e!comed whenever he came, and be stayed late some times." "You never heard his name, did you?" "I never did-in fact, I did not care to pry into 1ny master's business. He paid me well, and that was enough." "Certainly "The friend was here for the last time last night." :'Ah! Would you mind, Mrs. Beeson, letting me look at the library?" The woman dropped her arms. "Who are you?" she demanded. PAGE 159 The Detective at Fault "A detective." "I thought so. I had that in my hood the moment you began on me. Let you look at the library? Cer tainly. I am willing to let you see anything in t h e house. This way, sir." Mrs. Beeson led the way to a small room along s i d e the hall and opened the door. "That is it. There is where he received all who came to the house. You see how the chairs are ar ranged? Just that way I found them this m o rni ng They show that he had company last night." Nick stepped forward. As he did so, Mrs. Be eso n lit the gas and withdrew. He heard her f oots teps vanish in the hall, and then all was silence. He wen t over to the desk where the chairs were and stood there. The top of the walnut desk was covered "it h papers, and the blotting pad was well s potted i t h ink. But all at once something greeted the detecti \'e s gaze, and he pounced upon it in a jiffy. As he held the find up to the light he let a s mil e wreathe his lips. It was a silken corJ about two fee t long and dark scarlet in color. At each encl a small silver ball, perfectly solid and apparently th er e for ornament. Nick looked at it, and then at the plac e wher e h e had found it coiled in the chair like a s nake. A silk cord and a dark-faced man! Perhaps Nick th ough t the combination quite suggestive But l1e said n oth ing After a while he placed the cord in his po c k e t and turned to the desk. A II a t onc e he heard the d oo r open. PAGE 160 The Detective at Fault. 157 "\Ve are admitting no one to-night," said Mrs. Bee son's voice. "You know, of course, what has hap pened, and we are expecting the body every minute." The reply, if there was one, the detective did not hear; but a moment later he caught the housekeeper's voice agam: "'You have lost your friend, but that is the way of the world. A detective is in the library now, and we all hope he will find a 'clew,' as they call it." Nick sprang up and crossed the room at a bound. "You have lost your friend" were the words that startled him. As he reached the door, the front portal was shut, and the next instant he was in the hall, facing Mrs. Beeson. "He came back, sir, but I didn't care to let him in to disturb you," she said. "Who came back?" "Why, the dark man who was here last night with Mr. Kline." "Was that he on the step just now?" "Yes." Nick was at the door in another moment. He fhtng it open and looked out. The trees that nodded over the curb of the quiet street threw their shadows again t the houses, and he could see no one. The dark unknown was gone. "Which way did he turn?" he asked, turning to the housekeep er, who had followed him to the step. "That way-toward the corner." PAGE 161 158 The Detective at Fault. Nick started off. He would give much for a look at that man. A few steps brought him to the cor ner, and as li.e turned it he saw a taxicab leave the curb. At the same moment a gloved hand shut the car door, and vanisbecf_ Just too late! As Nick grated bis teeth the machine speeded away, and he realized that some one of importance ta him just then was sftpping through his fingers. \ PAGE 162 I ( o A Sweetheart in the Game. tinuing. "He may have gone to the old brok er's of fice, as I believe he did, and probably at the time men tfoned by Mr. Narks; but that he killed the old man, or even quarreled with him, is not to be thought of for a moment by those who know him best." "Are you aware, miss, that he has left the city?" "I know he has. He came to see me before quit ting New York, and that is why I am here Nick admired the girl's honesty. "Vv e don't want to keep anything from you, for I learn that you are the detective who has taken the matter in hand. \Ve want you to know everything, for we will conceal nothing." "You feel, then that your friend Mr. Vane has damaged his cause by quitting the city just at this time?" "Perhaps," answered the girl. "He was compelled to go away just now, and I am sorry that it is so, fo r if he did not have to go he would answer for his own movements yesterday, and not let the whole city be lieve that he may be mixed up in this awful crime." Miss Darrell spoke with feeling and the detective waited till she had finished. "He went to the old broker on a matter of peculia r business," she went on. "I don't know that you hav e made any discoveries concerning some bonds whic h the dead man had purchased in large quantities o f Jate; but Oriel believes that he has been deceived an d that the honds are forgeries." Nick knew nothing of the bonds; indeed, that very PAGE 163 CHAPTER XXIII. A SWEETHEART 1N THE GAME. The -evidence which Rolla Narks gave came out i n the new.spapers next day. Of course it told that according to the clerk's testimony Oriel Vane was t h e last man seen to enter the little room in which o ld was murdered. It was still early in the day and Nick had not yet breqkfasted when a rap sonnu e d on his door, and he opened it. A young girl stood on the threshold, and she dre w back the moment she saw the detective, as if afrai d to come farther. The girl walked forward and took a chair. H e r age could not have been past nineteen, and she was very pretty. There was about her a certain resoluti o n which Nick noticed when he came to look at h er closely. "My name is Dot Darrell, and I am a friend of :Mr. Odel Vane," and here her cheeks reddened. "I am here in his interest, for I have just read the newsp a pers about the murder in Wall Street, and what the c1erk had to say about him." Carter had not forgotten his adventure after O riel \T ane, and he had been thinking of trying to find the young man agalnst whom the darkest suspicion had been directed by Rona Narks' testimo11y. "I am quite sure that Mr. Vane had nothing what ever to do with the crime," said Miss Darrell. con.... PAGE 164 A Sweetheart in the Game. 161 day he was going to i:nake inquiries into Kasper Kline's brokerage, and he listened to the young girl with a great deal of care. "I am quite sure tl1at Oriel went to V./ a11 Street, in tending to tell Kline about those very bonds," she said. "He has discovered that they are fraudulent." "What bonds are they?" "Erie and Northern," was the reply. "Oriel says that the market is glutted with them, and all are beMeved to be genuine." "Who negotiates them?" "A firm of lawyers near Broad Srteet-Ketch & Fleecem." "Do you believe that those men are aware of the nature of the bonds?" "I-I don't know, for I would not like to accuse any one of crime. Oriel will not tell me all he knows about those bonds, and I am in the dark." Nick looked at the girl a moment. "Will you tell me where I can find your friend?" "I promised him not to tell," she said with a smile. "When will he return?" "I don't know." "What if he knew--" "He knows ere this," was the interruption. "Oriel knows that he would be arrested on sight for the mur der of Kasper Kline. He went down to the office yes .. terday. He was half an hour in the old man's pres ence; but be.yond tha,,t :will ieH me nothing." PAGE 165 .... r62 A Sweetheart in. the Game. "Don't you see that his silence places him in a bad p.tace?'' "I see that readily," said Miss. Darrell. "I would it were otherwise; but,. my Godi it will not be so." Sl1e arose and went to the window, watched like a hawk by the detective. "Has Oriel any enemies t" he asked at last. Dot Darrell turned as if a snake had hissed behind her. "He has," she exclaimed. "He has enemies, and they are ready to do him evil. But although he went t o Wall Street, he never killed Kasper Kline.." "Granted, miss; but why doesn't he come back and say so?" There was no reply for a moment, and then the fair girl came toward Nick, her face as white as a shroud. "It is terrible.. I am tempted to reveal his hiding place. He will come back in time-I know -that; but you are the bloodhound on th.e. trial, and you want him 110-'N." "Why has he enemies?" "Because of those infamous. bonds." "Because he has discovered something about them?" "Partly that." "Look here, miss : Don't you know that al1 this time you are getting him deeper and deeper into th e slough of despond? Why don't you tell me where he is, or give-me a clew to his enemies?" "I am partly in the. dali'k. concerning them. I kno w PAGE 166 A Sweetheart i-n the Game. 163 but Tittle about their movements, but I do know that a cool, designing woman 1s among the "A woman, eh?" "Y_ es," cried Dot. "A wh o has aTI the cool ness of a Borgia and the hand or a female thug. I have seen her-it must have been her face, and I have felt her hand at my wrist." "Wfaere, nnss ?"' "On the str. eet, and :as late ;as last night." "After the cri.nie ?" "Yes; I was cr9 s.sing the little park just o_pposite my home when a veiled .figure darted .at me and a hand clutched my wrist. Certain words were hissed into my ear, and 1 staggered back, almost out of breath and on the edge of a faint." "Did you see her face?" "No, the veil hid it, but I caught a glimpse of it as she turned away. It is fair, but serpentlike. She bas eyes that seem to look one through, and her stq1 w a s catlike and quick." "What did she say?" The young girl recoded, _a'ncl for a rrtoment seem e PAGE 167 164 A Sweetheart in the Game. ""To, but after I came to I picked up at my feet a card which she may have dropped, though as to that I cannot say." "Did you fetch it with you?" In reply the girl took from her pocket a 1ittle card; somewhat crumpled, which she handed to the ferret. He leaned toward the light and read thereon a name which seemed to startle him: "Velma Velatine." "You found this on the ground where you encoun tered the veiled one, did you?" he asked. "It was lying there, and my eyes saw it the first thing after my recovery from meeting." Nick's eyes wandered back to the card with the singular name. "Have you ever seen the name before, miss?" "It is a strange name to me." "There is no street address on the card." "I noticed that." "Nothing but the name." "That is all." Nick put the card into his pocket, and seeing that for the present Dot was not willing to betray Oriel Vane's hiding place, nor tell more about him, he let the girl depart, after furnishing him with her number, in case he desired to call or communicate with her. "Velma Velatine ?" said the detective, taking the card from his pocket, as the footsteps of his visitor echoed on the outside stairs. "I think I know some thing about this woman. If she is the same whom I met last year in Cuba when I went down Lt.. PAGE 168 A Sweetheart in the Ganie. 165 son, and liable to give us s ome trouble. But with whom is she connected here just now? The young lady be get the Broad Street forger, she is a dangerous per lie v e s that she is found among her l o ver' s e n emies, and she is ready to lodge informa ti o n again s t Velma V elatine." After Nick strolled over into Wall Street, an d suddenly turning from that busy th oro ugh fare he ran up a flight of steps and opened .a door He en tered a small, officelike room, containing two desks exactly alike, and at the nearest one sat a man, who l o oked up as the detective came forward. "Mr. Clover Ketch, I believe?" said Nick with a loo k at the keen hawklike features before him. Yes sir, of Ketch & Fleecem," was the reply as t he detective took a chair. "You do a brokerage bu s iness in addition to your regular law practice, don't you?" We do, sir. Are you in need of anything in our l ine?" "I have been thinking of investing a little in good b o nds if I can get them gilt-edged. Now, Mr. Ketch, wha t would you recommend?" A change overspread the angular face of the law4 yer and broker. He wheeled his chair around so as to bring his eyes full upon his visitor, whom he seemed to look through and through in a moment. "'Vhat amount have you to invest?" "Say a matter of twe11.ty thousand." "Then, sir, let me rei'er you to Erie and was the reply. - PAGE 169 ( I 166 A Sweetheart in the Game. "I can deliver the amount of bonds needed within th:i;ee hours. They are just you want," and as Nick smiled to himself the door opened, and who should enter the little office but a man already well k now n to thousands-Rolla Narks, Kasper Kline s c o nfidential clerk! The detective, cool at times, cpuld hardly repress a start. '. f_., \ \ .... .,.': : ._ I ,. I .... t. d \1.:' I I 1 PAGE 170 CHAPTER XXIV. THE OLD HOUSE IN NEW JERSEY. A -significant look passed between the lawyer broker and Rolla Narks as the latter shut the door. It was seen by Nick, who had disguised himself for the visit to Ketch & Fleecem, and as Rolla dropped into a chair Clover Ketch resumed the conversation, raising his voice a little so as to be heard by the man who had just come in. "Twenty thousand worth of Erie and Northern, eh?" he said. ''I can have them ready for you in a jiffy, and you'll find them gilt-edged at all times." The detective said he believed he would take that amount of bonds, and suggested that they be ready for delivery at riine the following morning. "All right," said Ketch. "We will have them here, or at your place of business, just as yot1 like." "l will call for them." Five minutes later the detective came out of the office and took up a position on the sidewalk, from whence he could watch the door without being de tected himself. He had to wait half an hour before a man came out, and then the gliding figure of Rolla Narks made its appearance. The clerk looked around with a quick glance, and then started off. Nick was immediately at his heels. Halfway across the city, in the soft morning light, the keen detective tracked the man whom he was shadowing. Rolla PAGE 171 168 The Old House in New Jersey. seemed equipped for a journey, for he was dressed in r his best, and went toward the ferry, which he crossed at De s brosses Street. Not for a moment was he out of the detective's sight. In the depot on the New Jersey side he bought a ticket for Hackensack, and took a seat in a car. Nick strolled into the coach and selected a seat from which he could watch the man without fear of being se e n himself. Rolla Narks seemed to know a good many people in Hackensack, for when he alighted from the cars, after a brief run, he spoke to several persons, and started off toward the suburbs. Now the detective was compelled to exercise a great deal of caution, for he was no longer in New York, and Rolla Narks was a man of keen observation, and in the country, as it :Were, he was apt to be careful and full of tricks. He tracked the clerk to a large house which stood back of some shade trees, and when he had seen him vanish he turned back to town. "Who lives in the big house o ver there behind the trees?" be asked a boy with whom he got acq1:1ainted. "The man what bou g ht it la st. You see, sir, the former tenant was found dead in the house a year ago, and it was bought by a man who came from the city and who lives there at times." "Not all the time ?" "No, sir; though a servant takes charge of the house when he isn't there." "Is the gentleman a married man ?" PAGE 172 The Old House in New Jersey. 169 "Yes, sir. At least, a fine-looking woman comes up sometimes and stays there." "Have you ever been out to the house?" The boy thought a moment, and then said with a gnn: "They have good peaches there in season, and I guess we boys have all been ta the old place." Nick dismissed the boy before he could grow suspicious, and gave him a coin. All that day he remained in Hackensack, and when night came he strolled out toward the old house behind the trees. During the day he had learned a little more about it, hearing that its present occupant was a fine-looking, dark-faced man, kn own to the people as Captain Mer cedes, a retired officer of the Spanish army, and a man of wealth and leisure. The detectiye approached the house with a great d eal of caution, and through the shadows of the tall trees, \vhich grew close together in the front yard, he gained the rear where he became as as the shrubbery itself. D espite t he fact that he had seen Rolla Narks van i s h am o ng the trees, he remained for three hours in the s hadows before he detected a sign of life about the premises. '.All at once he saw a door open and the fig u re of a woman appeared therein. From what he h ad heard in town this was the old servant who kept the place for Captai n M e rcedes, and he watched her \vhile she remaii i ed i n the doorway. In another mom en t the detective was at the bad' PAGE 173 170 The Old House in New Jersey. wm a ow on the ground, and he was looking at the woman whom he had just seen. Now he saw her well. She was fifty at least, with a sallow face, foll of evil, as the deep-set eyes showed, and her hands were long and dark, suggestive of eagle talons. She stood alone in the room, with the light falling upon5 her figure, and the detective watched her with curiosity. All at once the tigress turned, and at the same time a door opened. Rolla Narks came into the room. "Are you going back to-night?" said the woman. "Yes, on the midnight train." "Are you sure you got what you came for?" "Of course I am. Do you think I would forget an errand like this? I know what I want." ''Let me see." For a moment the man hesitated, but the mien o f the woman seemed to conquer. Rolla Narks di v ed into his bosom and brought out some papers which were in a strong manila envelope. "Don'.t separate them. They are put up just as they are to be delivered," said Rolla. "Hush up! I know my business," was tl:ie reply as the dark eyes flashed madly. "If you open your head when you are not addressed I'll choke you." Rolla Narks seemed to fear the woman, for he s a i d nothing more, and watched her as she took some pa pers from the envelope and looked at them. "Who made this sale-the captain?" she asked "No, the lawyer made it." "What that old devil?" cried the woman. "You don't. seem to like him?" PAGE 174 The Old House in New Jersey. 17r "I don't Some day I will get even with Clover Ketch, as he calls himself. Nice name, isn't it-very nice for an honest man to wear," and she laughed. "Are you sure you got these from the right pigeon hole?" "They are the right numbers, anyhow," said Rolla. "Did you get them from old Ketch?" "He gave them to me, and l took them down in penc.iL" Slowly the talon fingers of the woman returned the papers to the envelope, which she handed back to Rolla Narks, who was glad to get it, and placed it in bis pocket again. "When will he come back?" she asked. "I don't know." "And how is she?" "I haven't seen her for three days." "See here! but you know all about it!" and the woman snatched a paper from the table and extended it toward Rolla, who saw the headlines which an n o unced the tragedy of Wall Street. "What are they doing about it?" she went on. "I don't know." "You don't, eh? and you his clerk? Did they ask you any questions?" thousand, more or less." "A ncl you told them all you know?" "I had to." The grin that took possession of the woman's face was devilish though ludicrous. "You can lie like the rest of mankind. You are PAGE 175 172 The Old House in New Jersey. just the man to play a deep game if you are properly co ached." Rolla said nothing, and the woman approached him. "Sit down!" she commanded. The m,an obeyed, and looked up at her from the depths of a chair. "Take your coat off." "What do you want of me now?" "Ask me no questions, but remove your coat." It was plain to be seen that Rolla Narks was struggling against a will superior to his own. He tried to' resist, but the keen eyes of the woman seemed to pierce him through, and at last, without another word, he drew off his coat and waited for further orders. "Stand up!" The hypnotized man arose. "Roll up your right sleeve and bare shoulder." Rolla did this, too. Gloating over her victory, the demoness took from her bosom a little vial almost fiat, and uncorked it. Rolla Narks held out his bared arm and seemed to grate his teeth. The woman poure PAGE 176 The Old House in New Jersey. 173 Bottle and glass were produced from a sideboard ingeniously set in the wall, and Rolla Narks emptied the latter twice ere he appeared to have had enough. He buttoned his coat at the throat as if to keep safe the papers beneath it and withdrew. "They don't know Mother Murder yet!" cried the woman, gazing after him with a malignant grin. "I hold them all in the hollow of my hand, and I could crush them like an eggshell. \Vait I will shut my hand one of these PAGE 177 CHAPTER XXV. TO BE KILLED ON SIGHT. The reader has not forgotten the woman who waited on the pavement in front of old Trinity whiJe the murder of Kasper Kline was being done in the little back office on Wall Street. He will recollect that the man who joined qer at last was a dark-faced person age, and that while the two walked away, he talked earnestly to her that "it" had been done, and well done at_ that. On the very night of Nick's visit to Hackensack, a man who was handsome and dark of face sat alone in a most luxuriously appointed parlor in New York. He was a man with a record, and in Wall Street and at the Stock Exchange he was known as Captain Cas tellar, a Spanish gentleman, who had resigned from the Spanish army and had come to New York for the purpose of spending the remainder of his days. He was five and forty, with a full form and large, expressive eyes that were capable of captivating any one. In order to learn something about the ways of money-makers in America, Captain Castellar had en tered Wall Street, where, after he had made some big hits, he became a member of the Stock Exchange, so that at the time of his introduction to the reader, he was well thought of there and his check was good for almost any amount. PAGE 178 . Tp be Killed on Sight. 175 The captain made bonds a specialty, and he dealt in none but gilt-edged ones, selling whenever he cared to make a little money and buying with a lavish hand. He was understood to be a bachelor, though he had lady callers, who seemed to be his clients, and every now and then he was to be seen driving in the park with a beautiful companion, who was the envied of all female observers. On the night in question, as we have already ob served, Captain Castellar was alone. Seated at his table, which was covered with papers looking very much like bonds, be was enjoying a fragrant cigar and seemed peace with the world. The clock was near the stroke of ten, and for some time he had been smoking like a king at his ease. The walls of the room were hung with costly paint ings, and every article of furniture denoted great wealth. The carpet was soft and thick, and the sound of one's feet could not be heard in the apartment. All at once a door opened and there entered, with a smile which heightened her beauty, a woman of exquisite loveliness. "Dressed, are you?" said Captain Castellar, up and dreamily admiring her. "Yes. Was I long gone?" And she looked at herself in the mirror, that reached from floor to ceiling on the other side of the room. "Not very. Indeed, I did not count the moments," smiled the Spaniard "You never count them, save when you don't see her." PAGE 179 To be Killed on Sight. 1 here was a fl.ash of the dark eyes and a haughty toss of the woman's head. "You are inclined to be jealous," said he. "Haven't I a right to be?" was the quick retort. "You remember what I told you about this girl? I said that it would be an evil day for her whenever I found her out. You hide her well." "I hide no one, Velma, It is you who are so insane ly jealous that you let your passions get the better of you." "Never mind. We will meet some day, and then the coroner will have another job." Captain Castellar laughed. "Come. You wouldn't dagger any one. You are too mild to harm a fly. No one is going to lose any blood if he waits till you strike." Velma came toward him and stopped at the table. There she stood like a queen, and drew her figure up to it true stature. "Do know that the detectives are at work?" she suddenly asked. The Spaniard grinned. What do I care if they are? The secret is safe." "Oh, well, they are at work all the same." "I know that." "Who found it out for you?'' "1To one. One discovers things for him self no\vada ys." "\Vhat are you going t do with the t oo l? .. "What should I do with him?" "He'll 'peach' some day." PAGE 180 To be Killed on Sight. 177 "What, that man? Never! He will do nothing of the kind." "Time wiil come when .our peculiar power over him :will end." "Then we will talk," smiled the captain. "Then, Velma, we will make security doubly sure." "Don't you think we had best apply the match?" "Not yet." ''We are rich enough." "Not yet, I say; the time has not yet come." "You made a million by the last throw of the dice of fate." know that." "You don't intend to try to add another million to it, do you?" "No; but we won't apply the match yet." "When?" "In the pear future." "vVhen the detective closes in, and when the last links o{ the chain have been forged?" "You are frightened, Velma. Your cheeks are pale now, and you had best take some wine. You know where it is." "I hate it!" cried the woman ; "it warms my blood for a spell, and then it becomes as cold as ice. I want 110 wine; all I want is love and affection." "You have that in abundance." "Not while the unknown rival exists in your eyes." "What, back again to the girl who lives but in ycur jealous imagination?" She is flesh and bl9:Q PAGE 181 To be Killed on Sight. "Prove it." In an instant the jeweled hand of the beauty died into her pocket, and a picture fell upon the table at Captain Castellar's elbow. "Look at that and then answer me without lying," she cried. "Say to me, if you dare, that that is not the face of the girl for whom you ha v e thrown Velma o v erboard. Look at the name you have scribbled on the back of the picture-'Dot.' You were afraid to wri t e the other name, for if you had she would be a dead beauty now." Captain Castellar looked for a moment into the s w imming eyes ab0.,e him, and saw the heaving bosom and the clenched hands of the woman. The portrait which she had thro wn upon the table was a small one, like those taken by a kodak, and while it was not a finished picture, it told that the o r iginal was possessed of great beauty, and that she wa s young, perhaps but nineteen. "I am going to bunt 'Dot' down," suddenly continued the woman. "And make a scene and a fool of yourself?" "Yes, I am going to kill this girl.'' "\,Yhat a ninny !" laughed Captain Castellar. "You imagine that I cannot find her. You think that you have her so well hidden that I cannot dis"" c oye r her. I will be my own detective, and if I fail at that I will employ the best bloodhounds in New York. The one who is said to be on the Wall Street trail just now is a good one, and I have money enough to hire him," PAGE 182 To be Killed on Sight. 179 "Nick Carter, they call him. You see how clever I am. I even help you along." "Thanks!" said Velma, with mock courtesy. "Here, take the picture which you got hold of Heaven knows how." "I found it in your room." For a mpment the Spaniard seemed inclined to become angry, but he laughed it off. "You look fairer when you play tigress and show your claws," he said. "Do I? The girl won't think of my beau 'ty when I find her." All at once Captain Castellar's expression changed. "Listen to me, Velma," he said as he watched her with his keen, black eyes : "You haven't forgotten what you were when I picked you up? I don't think you can e ver forget your social position when I lifted you from the mire--" "Hush!" rang out her voice as the color fled from her face. "I will not have the past recall ed by you in this manner. I forget nothing, but in what way did I better my position when I allowed myself to be taken under your protection? You are Captain Castellar in the eyes of thousands, but you are quite another per son before a few. Will you do me the pleasure of showing me your shoulder with the devil's autog raph on it? Will you l et me look at your ankle -..vith the marks of the chain still there? Will you, Captain Mercedes, let me look at your back and see whether the scars made by a dog's teeth are there yet?" The Spanwd's face was white. PAGE 183 r8o To be Killed on Sight. "Now I guess you won't ref er to my past -very soon again," she went on. "It is equally as good as yours. But let me repeat that when I find this girl, I care not what station she occupies in .this city and its society, I intend to kill her!" Velma swept across the room and paused at the dopr on the farther side of it. From there she looked back at Captain Castellar. "Go on and sell your bogus bonds and fleece the people. Make the bulls and bears of Vv all Street be lieve that you are the pink of honor. I won't inter fere with your money-making; but of your lo ve-mak ing I will be the death!'' In another moment she was gone. Captain Castel !ar stared at the closed door a moment and then laughed. "The tigress shows her teeth. But when did I drop that picture? She will set her wits to work. What if she tries to hire a detective, and most of all, this one called Nick Carter? I will put Dot on her guard. I will balk this woman from the beginning." He drew paper and pens from the desk near at hand, and in another moment he had written: "Mrss DARRELL: You have an enemy who will ransack the city for you. She knows your face, and she carries a dagger. For the sake of one who loves you. keep indoors till the rage of this tigress abates. A word in time may save your life. The time will come when the writer of this warning will stand re vealed; but now he can, Qnly sign himself, "YouR TRUE FRIEND."' PAGE 184 To be Killed mi Sight. r8r This warning note was sealed and the envelope ad dressed to Miss Dot Darrell, after which Captain Cas tellar put it in his pocket and picked up another cigar. All this time, looking down into the room from a step on the staircase in the hall, stood the beauty in silk, and her eyes flashed more balefully than ever and her hands were clenched till they bled. Woe to Oriel Vane's sweetheart if she falls into the clutches of Velma Velatine, the beautiful fiend. The girl would be a child in the woman's hands. l PAGE 185 CHAPTER XXVI. A RIVAL'S TRIUMPH. Meantime there were other detecfr\res on the trail. Nick Carter was not the only man who had taken the trail of the murderer of old Kasper Kline, and just at this time the detective had a man pitted a.gainst him who promised to be a formidable rival. Claude Hanks had tracked men a long time. He knew all the crooks and turns in the lane of crime, and he was the person who had taken up the Wall Street trail. He was a man of forty, keen and never tiring. In common with many others, Claude Hanks believed that Oriel Vane was the murderer of Kasper Kline. He worked against Nick in every manner possible and whenever he could He was anxious to drive the great detective out of the business, for then the best cases would come to his riet, and he would be the much-sought-after detective of New York. If Nick feared Claude Hanks he said nothing. He took the chaffing of his associates good-naturedly, and now and then would say that the wcr:rld was wide and large enough for two trackers like himself and .his rival. If Nick had failed to find the hiding place of Oriel Vane, Claude Hanks fared better. He was a man who had the good fortune to hit upon clews when none appeared in sight, and in this instance his good l u ck came to his r escue. PAGE 186 A Rival's Triumph. It was the morning after his adventure in New J er sey, and Nick, while waiting for breakfast, picked up the paper. Of course he looked first at the police news, and saw staring him in the face his rival's tri umph. Oriel Vane had been arrested. Claude Hanks h a d tracked him down, and the exploit was blazoned to the world, first in great headlines, and then in a text which lauded the detective's cunning to the skies. In the article was a concealed sting for him, and the detective smiled when he saw it. Hanks was the hero of the hour, for he had caught the man supposed to have killed the old broker, and even then he was in jail, as silent as a sphinx, but this did not prevent the reporters from lauding Claude Hanks to the heavens, and making him out the Vidocq of the day. The news did not prevent Nick from enjoying his meal, and he finished leisurely while he read the half column of stuff between bites. \,\Then he left the dining room he went back to his library for a smoke before work. He had hardly set tled himself when Dot Darrell was announced. .N deathly pallor spread over her pretty face. He knew the purport of her mission even before she spoke. The girl had heard about her lover's arrest. "You have heard?" said Nick, as he led the girl into the room. "It is terrible l Arrested!" cried Dot. "I have seen the paper which seemed to seek me out for the ex press purpose of telling me the dire news. How did the man find him?" PAGE 187 A RiJJal' s Triumph. Nick smiled. Claude Hanks was a man who kept his secrets, and, .of course, there was no of his ever becoming their custodian. "Where was he?" asked Dot. "In Freehold." "All the time ?" "Yes." "Some one l)1ay have given Hanks a pointer," re plied the detective. "At any rate the young man is behind the bars charged with a very grave crime." "But he is not guilty!" cried the girl. "I know that Oriel never took that old man's life." "But you know what the clerk says?" "That he was the last man to visit the murdered broker? I know that, too." "That will go hard with him." "But it is false. Oriel was not the last man, for the last man killed him." Nick could not suppress a smile at the girl's persist ence, and when Dot became calm, she suddenly ran her hand into her pocket and drew out a letter. "Here is proof of what I told you about my ene mies," she said. "This letter was poked underneath my door last night, at what time I cannot say. I found it on the floor this morning, and when I opened it I nearly fainted'." "You heard no noise during the night?" "None at all." "No one came up the steps to your room?" "No one that I heard." Nick had taken the letter, had been read half PAGE 188 A Rival's Trt'z.miph. 185 a d o zen times by the fair girl and opened the sheet. Then he read what we have already seen Captain Cas t d l a r write in his luxurious rooms and jus t after his i n t e rview with Velma D o t watched the detecti v e eagerly, and waited for him to pass s o me comment on the letter. "You to have a foe sure enough. "I t old you so, you recollect?" "Yes; and the writer of this would be your friend, y e t he does not reveal himself." I can't imagine who would send this letter and not c o me to me himself." "You have tried to think have you, mis s?" I have racked my brains over the my s tery ever siuce the letter fell into my hands I cannot get at him and I would give a great deal to know his identit y "It seems to be some one who would take the place of Oriel Vane in your affection s ." A rich", ros y blush overspread the young girl s face, a nd s h e for a moment turned it away. "Do you belie v e that?" she asked. "I d o." For a m o men t Dot was silent, and then her eyes l igh t ed up as she turned them once more upon the de te c tive I rec all now a man who has watched me in the but at a respectful distance s aid she. "I have s een him driving with ladies, and he is very hand Sf)me; b u t I can't think that he is the writer of this n o t e." PAGE 189 186 A Rival's Triumph. "Stranger things than this have happened!' "I know that. I have seen him in Wall Street, on the steps of the subtreasury building, with a lot of fine-looking men, and he looked at me as he did in the park." "What was the gentleman like?" In a few words Dot described her admirer, and the dectective listened with his usual coolness. "We won't say that this is the man who sent you the mysterious note last night, but we will look into the matter. You are warned against one of your own sex." "A woman who carries a dagger for me; but why for me?" Dot thought of her humble position, and wondered why any one should arm herself against her. "In all my life I have never given offense to any one that I can now recall," she said to Nick. "\Vhy I should be pursued by a woman with a dagger is pa s t my comprehension. After all, this warning may be a fake." "I don't know," answered Nick, cautiously, as he glanced at the letter. "I would not like to say that just at present. It bears marks of genuineness, an PAGE 190 A Rival's Triumph. "Now, if you will go back quietly, I will try to get an interview with Oriel Vane." "I had thought of doing so myself." "No, you would excite him, and besides, get into the papers, which might give the woman with the knife a clew to your whereabouts." "I had not thought of that." Dot thanked the detective for the interest he was taking in her welfare and withdrew. Nick had been permitted to keep the note of warn ing. He looked at it again and then put it away. The might come when it would be of great service to :(t PAGE 191 188 A R ival' s Triumph. "I guess Hanks got the right man," said the man who spoke to Nick "He tracked Mm to freehold and came upon him when he wasn't looking for any one. 'And what do you think he was doing?" Carter made no reply. "He was burning a lot of letters, some of which were signed by Kasper Kline, and others seemed to be papers belonging to the murdered man." "And did Hanks get the fragments?" "All of them," was the reply. "They have been all morning putting them together at Hanks' place, and from what I've learned they have a chain in not a link seems to be missing. Then, there is the uncon tradictecl testimony of Rolla Narks, the clerk, that Vane was the last man to pass from the office. That's bad-it's devilish black, Mr. Carter." Yes, it was black, very black, indeed; and as Nick walked from the station with all these things arr PAGE 192 CHAPTER XXVII. A S T f, R -; L I N G L I N K The detective had not forgotten his promise to Clo v er Ketch, the lawyer-broker, to take twenty thousand d ollars' worth of Erie and Northern bonds. He be lieved he had seen those very bonds in the hands of Rolla Narks in the old house in Hackensack, and that he! had gone to New Jersey for the purpose of getting t hem for Clover Ketch. Shortly after his visit to the station the detective found himself in the lawyer's room. "I can t take the bonds this morning, as my money did not !naterialize as I expected," he said with frank ness to Clover Ketch "I'm sorry; for we hhd the bonds ready." ''\Vould you Jet me see them?" The lawyer-broker opened his desk and took out a stout manila envelope, the counterpart of the one he h ad seen in Rolla Narks' hands, and from this he took a package of bonds which he handed to the detective. Nick knew what bonds were, for in his life he h ad handled many, both good and forged, and he looked at these with a keen eye, though to Ketcli hat f casually. It would not do to inspect them too closely. ''They're all right," said the detective, returning them. "I could not expect you to keep them for me, say for five days?'' "We might try," said the la\Yyer. "I will not prom ise; but we can try. PAGE 193 /1 S'art!ing Lin!?. "That's fair." "By that time I may V':ant more "You can have all you want." Nick handed the b onds back and arose to go. He was about to pass out, when the door opened without warning and a handsome man enterecl There wa something about him that struck the detective from the first, and the picture Dot had dravm of her un known admirer flashed through :lis mind. This per son was faultlessly dressed, and Clover Ketch saluted him with a "Good morning., captain," as he took a chair near the table. Having transacted hi" business with Ketch, Nick withqrew, but stationed himself at a convenient place on the sidewalk and waited. When the handsome st r anger came out he was shadowed, and to the detec tive's surprise he walked into \Nall Street and entered th e office of a well-known millionaire. From this place went over to the subtreasury, where he remained a short time, after ;vhich he entered the Stock Ex change, and there Nick learned who his man was. It was Captain Castellar, the well-known Spanish r.1 illionaire, and a man who had the respect of the gold vVas this man Dot's admirer, and was he the s ende r of the mysterious note to her? He wanted to g e t a sample of the man's handwriting, and he forth w it h set his wits to work with this end in view Captain Castellar had a favorite corner in the Stoc k Exchange room, as one of janitors told him, an d there the detective sought him out. The handsom e

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A Startling Link. side. He was rewarded for all his trouble. A good many letters in both writings were the same, and he was expert enough to say that the same hand had trace
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A Startling Link. 193 By this time Clover Ketch was out of with the man, and he swore so roundly and fiercely that Rolla Narks arose and sat up. "You remember the man who came in here after tl;Jose Erie and Northern bonds(:' "Of course; he was here again this morning and said he couldi1't get the money on the sale just' now." "Yes. The captain came in while he .was here, didn't he?" "Yes." "Do you know who that is?" "Well, no; but I guess he's our pigeon in time." "You do, eh?" grinned Rolla Narks. "You think that man is playing fair with the bond sale? Well, you were never so mistaken in your life." "How so?" "That man is a sleuth." Clover Ketch started a little and lost color around the gills. "What have you been drinking?" "Nothing but one cocktail, and that three hours ago." "And you tell me that man is a detective?" "I do; I have seen him at work. He was at the Stock Exchange, and I saw him watching Captain Castellar; he even had a talk with him, and the captain wrote something on a bit of paper for him. That man is called Nick Carter." This time c;Iover Ketch did not speak for half a minute. He looked at Rolla Narks as if he thought

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194 A Startling Link that person was losing his mind, but Rolla stood t he with a smile "Are you sure of this man?" he asked at last. "I'd stake my head on it; I know a few things for certain, and this is one of them." "Did you tell the captain?" "No, sir. I tracked the detective home-straight to Nick Carter's house, and I left him there to come to you." "You ought to have a medal." "I don't want any, but you know what's got to be Clone." "What?" "That man must be stopped at once. Do you sup1 pose we can play the game out with that cool head on the trail? Why, they've arrested Oriel Vane, and he refuses to open his head." "I've heard that," said Ketch, glancing at a paper open on his table. "With this man on the trail-with this cool-headed detective-one of the most dangerous men in all New Yark-after the prize, how can we expect to win?" "Couldn't you lower your voice just a little?" asked Clover Ketch, clutching Rolla's arm. "Our walls here are not walls of stone, and it behooves us to speak with ordinary caution." "All right. I was a little excited, you see. But the captain ought to know what I saw." "He shall. Have no fears on that score." "When will he know?" "At once."

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A Startling Link. 193 "That's business. Now, do you think the man will come for the bonds?" "He may." "If he does, what?" Clover Ketch dropped his eyes, and seemed to shut his hands. "We might turn him over to the captain." "Good! That's the idea. Turn him over to the cap tain," cried Rolla Narks. "And the sooner the better." Half a minute later the old clerk walked from the room and the lawyer-broker leaned back in his chair. 1 "Great Cesar! This is the unexpected!" said he. "I never looked for a play of this kind. And what have we done? Showed the bonds to this man who is a riddle solver-a hunter of mysteries and a s leuth of the first rank. Where is the captain? He must know at once; there must be no delay." He grabbed his hat and started for the door. Tl1e lawyer-broker was frightened. As he reached the staircase a man was seen coming up, and he saw, with a grin of delight, that it was Captain Castellar him self. "Thank Heaven!" gasped Clover Ketch. "Now I will post the captain, and from this moment the de tective is in the shadow of death. He has played the death cards against himself." The following moment he accosted Captain Castel lar, the Spanish speculator, and the two retired into the office.

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CHAPTER XXVIII. THE DAGGER QUEEN. Dot went home with the warning, from some un kn'vn person, in her mind. She had given the letter to Nick, and the detective had promised to look into the matter. Oriel's sweetheart did not know what to make of his arrest, nor how Claude Hanks, the de tective, had tracked her lover down. She longed to go to him in prison and console him as a true girl should do, but she had taken Nick Carter's adYice and had refrained from making the visit. She felt that she was in the shadow of a great woe, that she had an enemy, as the letter stated, and thai the woman who was looking for her with a dagger was dangerous. Velma V elatine intended to carry out her threats to the let ter. Insanely jealous of the girl, whom she be lieved had usurped her place in Captain Caste1lar's affections, she resolved to find that person and kill her. But how would she track the unknown beauty down? Where should she look for the original of the photograph? Chance might aid her, but chance in a city of four millions of people was not to be depended upon. Velma remained indoors till night fell. Then she threw a veil over her face and went out. Every face she saw she looked into with scrutiny and hoped to be able to find the person whom she sought. Captain l.::istellar, as the ''Spanish specubtor," had

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The Dagger Queen. an office d o wntown, and he sometimes remained there til1 quite late. He might go to his new love afrer closing the office, and Velma made her way to the street where it was located. All at once she stopped. A man standing in t he light of a street lampattracted her and s he moved nearer. It was Clover Ketch. She knew the lawyer broker well. He did not see her till she was at his very elbow, and then he gave a quick start and said : "You here, Velma? I was not looking for this agreeable pleasure; but you are none the less welcome. I was just going down to the Crystal for dinner. Will you go along?" Velma eagerly accepted the invitation and the -two walked off together. Clo ver Ketch still had the events of the day in his head, and he recalled the startling information which Rolla Narks had brought to his office. They entered the magnificent dining room on lower Broadway and took seats at a small table away from the general public. The lawyer shark was cool and calculating, and for s o me time he had been attracted by the deep-black eyes o f Velma Velatine. He had often thought what a prize she would be, even when s he had been discarder\ by Captain Castellar, and on this occasion he o nly too willing to pay her bills, no matter how large they were, at the restaurant. Velma was not modest in her demands on his purse She never was. The dinner was excellent, and as they sipped their Mocha she looked across the table and said:

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198 The Dagger Queen. "By the way, Mr. Ketch, you have a great many clients, and your list of acquaintances is a long one." The lawyer admitted that what she said was true, and he said furthermore that he prided himself o n being the best-acquainted man in the cit y "You never forget faces, they tell me ? "I seldom forget one that impresses me, and no\Y adays a man of my calling must be impressed in s o me way by nearly every face he sees." Velma thought of the photograph in her pocket and her hand went to it mechanically. "I have here a little picture which I w ould like to know something about," said she. "You see, it fell into my hands rather roman t ically, and I have a ntri osity to kn o w s omething about the original. Clover Ketch took the picture and leaned toward the light to loo k at it. "Why," exclaimed he, "that is the likeness of a young girl who just now i s at the front in a manner." "How is that?" exclaimed Velma "At the front?" "Yes, she is mixed up a little in the tragedy at the broker's office. "You mean the deaih of Kasper Kline?" "Yes." "In what manner c a n sh e be mixed up in the affair?" "She is the sweetheart of the man who has been arrested for the 11111rder." "Oriel Vane's sw etheart ?" "I believe so." "You have seen her, have you?" "Once-and that by acciden t."

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The Dagger Queen. 199 "I can't believe that this fair girl is mixed up m this affair at all." "Only in that way," smiled the lawyer. The next question bubbled to Velma's lips with eagerness, and she did not try to keep it down. "Do you happen to know where the young lady re sides?" she asked. Clover Ketch thought a moment. "If he knows the game Captain Castellar is playing with this girl, he won't tell me," thought Velma. "I think she lives on Fifty-ninth," said he. "In deed, I am quite sure of it. I believe one of the papers at the time of the affair brought her to the front as Vane's sweetheart, and by 1hat means I obtained her address." Velma was beside herself with joy. At last she had tracked her rival down. All she had to do was to go to the number which the lawyer gave her, and finish the girl before Captain Castellar could warn her. Velma was eager to get rid of the lawyer, and in a short time she did so. She declined the taxicab which he offered to order for her, and sprang into one the moment Clover Ketch was out of her sight. "It shall be quick work," said she, between her teeth. "I don't intend to stand upon ceremony, and this chit shall know what it is to steal Captain Paul Ca tellar from me !" Her fury was that of a tigress, and as she settled back int-0 the .car she looked the demoness that she

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200 The Dagger Queen. was, an
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The Dagger QueeJI. 201 fingers to the bone. The housekeeper almost screamed at the top of her voice. "Where is she? Quick!" But the woman shrieked agam and was pu she
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202 The Dagger Queen. he r self against it, but she had heard the lock click, and knew that the portal would resist her powers. "Better luck ne x t time! I know where she hides now, and she shall from me again," she gritted. "I live to hate that person and to find her heart with my dagger! Aye, she is beautiful, and her eyes ha v e charmed Captain Castellar He dare not tell me that he is not untrue to Velma Velatine. I could send him to a felon's cell, and astonish the city, but I will not. No, let the detectives hunt the guilty. They have that girl's lover in the toils. Let them keep h im there and send him to his death! What do I care?" Velma marc hed back to the car in waiting Entering it, she growled her commands to the chauffeur and was hurried off at breakneck speed. As for Dot Darrell she stood in the hall where sh e had made her fight for life with a white face a n d tremulous ner ves. She had met her enemy face to face. The warning had a terrible foundation. Sh e was hunted w ith a dagger; but as yet s he did no t know what fo r and the words: "Here i s the se rpen t who has charmed Captain Castellar !" were all Greek to her. She had never heard of "Captain Castellar b u t sh e was destined to hear and see more of Velma, th e jealous.

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CHAPTER XXIX. ROLLA MAKES A CALL. Oriel Vane, who found himself in the station house with the charge of murder set opposite his name, was surely in the toils. He withheld himself from all re porters who came to get his side of the matter, and when approached by the authorities, he said he had nothing to tell. Claude Hanks, the detective, who had found him at Freehold, told what he knew, and in the light of Oriel's silence, it told heavily against him. \Vhen he was taken before the court for his pre liminary examination, the room was crowded and ex pectatidn ran high. What would the prisoner say? \Vould he deny that he went to Kasper Kline's office that fatal afternoon, or would he confess to having taken the old broker's life? When asked for his plea h e st o od up and said "Not guilty!" in firm tones. That was all. The whole affair was a disappoint ment. He had told nothing. Oriel was taken back to prison and the newspapers speculat e d as to his guilt or innocence, and the consensus of opinion was that h e h a d shed human blood Rolla Narks was in court ready to testify as to what happened in Wall Street, and he did so in his clear but insinuating tones. He was positive that Oriel Vane was the last man to vis it old Kline. Since the tragedy he had refreshed his memory and had come to the conclusion that he c o uld not be mistaken. He saw everybody who en-

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204 Rolla Makes a C all. tered and left the office. That was what he hac been put there for. His dead master was bothered by a lot of blood sucker human leeches who wanted to suck him blood less, and he was charged with the duty of seeing that no such people, so far as he knew them, bothered Kasper Kline. Oriel Vane he knew well by sight and name. He had been coming to the office for some time, pre sumably in Rolla's mind for the purpose of making in vestments. When the half-burned letters and papers which the detective found in the room where he a r rested the young man were produced, they were iden tified by Rolla Narks. He was sure he had seen them in the dead man's desk a few days prior to the tragedy, and with such an array of testimony against him, it is no wonder that Oriel Vane went back to pri son with the shadow of the electric chair across his path. In the courtroom one of the most interested of spectators, but so well disguised that even the sharp eyes of Claude Hanks failed to recognize him, was Nick Carter. The detective deemed it his duty to Le present and to hear and see what was going on. Noth ing escaped him. He heard Oriel's plea and saw him led from the room. On the face of Claude Hanks all through the proceedings sat a grim smile. The de tective had triumphed, and felt that it was another feather in his cap. \Vlrnt was more, he had beaten Nick Carter, and

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Rolla Makes a Call 205 this pleased him more than anything else. Rolla Narks walked from the courtroom alongside the detective. Nick sauntered near the pai'r. "Did I make it strong enough?" asked Rolla. "I think so;" was the reply. "Indeed, I don't see how you could have added anything to it." "I tried to make it as strong as possible. I think I didn't omit anything." "It was all right." The two separated, and Nick took after the clerk as he walked away Rolla had rooms in a snug quar ter of the city, and he went direct to them. He did not remain there long, but came out, having chang e d his clothes, and now he wore a well-fitting suit of black. He looked almost clerical in garb, and to heighten the impression that he was of the cloth, he wore a white necktie. He called a taxicab to the curb and got in. At the same time another machine came slowly down the street, and as Rolla's turned the corner Nick stopped it. "A green taxicab has just turned the corner," a=1 he to the chauffeur. "You will please keep it in sight for me.'' "All right!" A way went the two motor cars, the chauffeur o f the foremost having no suspicion that he was tracked by the one behind. It was a long drive, and at last Rolla's taxi drew to the sidewalk in Thirtieth Street, c.nd Nick's did the same The detective aw Rolla

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206 Rolla i'vl akes a Call. alight and pay the fare, alter which he entered a well to-do house near t he c o rner. He had come to see some one there, and as the door shut the detective alighted also. In the neighborhood of the house entered by Rolla was a small store into which Nick strolled, to find a young girl on guard. The detective bought a cigar and leaned against the c o unter, but in such a position that he could see the house which the clerk had visited. "I am looking for a friend, who lives on this street," said Nick. "I am a little at a loss to locate him just right, and I wouldn't enter the wrong house for the world." The girl was talkative. "You are pretty well acquainted here, I suppose?" continued Nick. I "We ought to be, sir, seeing that we have had the store here for nine years." The detective took a bit of paper from his pocket and appeared to consult it. "I think that is the house yonder-the one with red bri cks and green shutters." "Tha t is where Mrs. Jonas lives." "Is the lady a widow?" "Yes, sir, but we guess she won't remain one much longer. Did you see the gentleman enter the house just now!" The detective said that he had not. "vVell, sir, that is her intended, I guess," smiled the girl. "She is quite a lady, i s Mrs. Jonas, and the gen tleman who called ju" t :1C\'' i:; ;ery devoted."

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Rolla M ake s a Call. "How l on g has he been com ing?" A year, at least." "And w hat is his name?" 207 "Mr. Narks, I think, for that was the name on the lett e r whic h Mrs. Jonas gave me to post the other d ay "Does he l ive in the city?" "Oh, yes, sir He is a man of means, for he dresses well, and whenever he calls it is in a machine, probably his own." Nick smiled "Is Mrs. Jonas wealthy?" "She seems to be," said the girl. "She rides ou t every evening and puts on a good deal of style I h ave understood that her former husband was a ma n of money and that he left her well-to-do in t h e worl d when he concluded not to stay here any longer. "Has she any children?" "Bless you, n o The detective remained in the store for ten minute s at the end of which time Rolla Narks came down t he widow s steps and walked away. "That's one of the shortest calls I ever knew him 1.o make," said the girl. ''You see he is a gentleman b y th.e way he dresses; he may be a minister, for he wear s a white necktie just like our pastor, Mr. Golightly By this time Rolla was some distance away, and h a d tu rned the neare s t corner. "I think I shall visit Mrs. Jonas. That is the name of my fri e nd and she may know of him." He gave the> l itt l e girl a silve r dollar, for which s he

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) a Call. thanked him profusely, and rang the widow's bell. !\:. woman, perhaps thirty-three, came to the door and u"h e red him into the hall. He had no doubt that it was "Mrs. Jonas" herself. .\ she crossed the threshold of the parlor she turned upon the detective, and looking at him search-. ir:g ly, awaited his pleasure. Nick told her that he was looking for a Joseph Jonas, who used to be an ac quaintance, and that as the last he had heard of him w :is to the effect that he had come to New York, he va.; trying to hunt him up. The rnman who listened to all this told the detect; that she knew nothing of the person sought, and a brief stay he took his leave. But he had dis C(1\ere
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Rolla a Call 209 the right shoulder with a large T; supposed to have been branded in an English prison. Age thirty-one; fair, black eyes and hair." To this description of the woman whom h e had just visited was written an addenda, which was b r ief and confirmatory to Nick: "Now known as Mrs. Jonas, widow, Thirti elh Street." "It's quite enough," said Nick, as he turned away. "Birds of a feather flock together, and I've just seen a meeting of blackbirds. I will see more of Mrs. Jonas by and by Once more he was on the street, and when he reached hi home he found in the letter box attached to the door on the inside a Jetter, which he tore open quickly. It was brief and conveyed some startling informa ti on. It told him that Dot's enemy had found her and that the girl, fearing for her life, had changed her quarters, and would like to see him at once. Nick folded the letter and smiled "I thought the woman with the dagge r was danger he said.

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CHAPTER XXX. LOVE BREAKS THE SILENCE. After his visit to Dot, who narrated her adventure with Velma, Nick went back to the trail, and when an other night came he found himself in a room which he had contemplated visiting for some time. This was no room but the one of the tragedy, and all alone in the place where Kasper Kline was murdered, the eagle eyed detective began a search which was to be fruitful of results. He had admitted himself to the place with the knowledge of the police in the neighborhood, and the watchful guardians of Wall Street had promised to see that he was not disturbed. The reader knows that on his former visit the de tective found the windows fastened on the inside. He found them in the same conditipn when he entered it this time. It was impossible to raise the windows from the alley, and Nick discovered this in a short time. But now he examined the fastenings with more care than ever before. Nothing escaped his eyes Sud denly he paused and smiled to himself. The heavy shutters that protected the windows were closed, but he recalled they were open the day of the crime. He had discovered that the lower sash had been grease d in its groove, and that when the fastenings were no t on duty it could be raised without the slightest noise.

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212 Love the Silence. lighter and its glossiness to wane. It was queer that he should find it in the little office, when the assassin would be likely to have carried off such a clew 'to the dastardly crime. Nick examined the sheath from all sides, and turned it over and over in the light. At last he hid it beneath his coat, and ten minutes later left the place and, slip ping past the man on guard near by in Wall Street, told him that his search of the night was over. The hour was not very late, and he surprised Dot Darrell again with a visit. "I am glad you have come," said the girl. "I have just received something startling from my former landlady, the one the madwoman forced against the wall while trying to get at me. She says a boy picked it up in the gutter in front of the house." The girl opened a drawer in her little table and brought out something wrapped in paper. 'As she unwrapped it a dagger sheath, the exact counterpart of the one he had found in old Kline's office, fell upon the table. Nick started. "I think I can match that, Miss Dot," said he. The fair girl fell back with a cry when the second sheath was laid beside the first, and the next moment her eyes were riveted upon the detective. "They are exactly alike," she said. "Both are of the same size, and, for aught we know, may have shel tered the same blade." "I won't say as to that," was the reply; "but I cart see that the dagger sheaths are identkal, though they were not found in the same place.'"

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Love Breaks the Silence. 213 'vVhere did you find yours ?" "In the little office where the dagger killed Kasper Kline." "Oriel never had a dagger; I know that. He was ave rse to carry ing weapons of any kind, and I once heard hi m sa y that the dagger was the meanest weapon a man could wield." K i ck for a moment lo o ked up into the girl's face. "If we c o uld get him to talk we might know more," said he "He would talk for my sake; I am sure of that," was the q uick re s ponse. "Do you think they would kt me see him now?" "I can get you an audience." "Come, then! cried Dot, springing up and finding he r hat at once. "To the jail at once! He shall un sea l his lips, and I am sure he will give us a clew to the tragedy of the gold street." H al f an hour later the gates o f the Tombs opened to admit Nick Carter and Dot Darrell. The detective was kn ow n ever y where, and the prison s of the city were ope n to him at any time. He accompanied Dot to the vicin i ty of Oriel Vane's cell, and left her. The meeting between the lovers was affecting, and the fair girl appeared as calm as a May morning. She passed into Orie l's cell and for an hour remained the re, the two talking earnestly When she came back to Nick, awaiti11.g her in the little office where he had s aid good-by, her face was white and she was agi tated. They passed from the great prison together. For

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214 Love Breaks the Silence. some time neither spoke, the detective watching the girl and letting her take her time. "Look, look! the dagger fiend again!" suddenly cried Dot, as they reached the street. The detective looked over her outstretched hand, and saw a figure skulking among the shadows of the buildings. "She will watch us home," continued Dot, all in a tremble. "That is the same tigress who sought my life in the old place. She is gone now, but we are not out of her sight." Nick moved toward the shadows, but the hands of Dot pulled him back. "She will stab yOLt, and then who would I ha\'e for a friend?" she exclaimed. "If we escape her, that is aTI I shall ask. Come, we will go back." As the figure was not to be seen now, the pair started back, and some distance from the spot the de tective called a taxicab, and took good care to see that they were not followed. Dot said nothing about her visit to the Tombs till they were again in her new retreat. "He taII ed," she said, as her eyes brightened. "I knew he would when love held the key." "And what did he say?" "He was in the office the day of the murder." "Yes." "He went there on a singular mission. He had dis covered that a great many fraudulent bonds were on the market, and that they were being put off on Kasper Kline by shrewd rascals. He had talked with the old

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Love Brea/is the Silence. 215 man before, but that day he went to the office with proofs of the whole fraud. But he arrived too late. Kasper Kline was dead w hen he found him." "Dead?" exclaimed Nick. "Dead, he solemnly says. He was dead at his desk, jus t as he was found. The window was open and t h ere were papers and letters on the floor." "Why didn't he raise the alarm?" "There is where he blundered. Bu t he says a sin gu l a r idea took possession of his mind. He wanted to know something about Kasper Kline's business re g a rding the false bonds, and with this end in view h e picked up certain letters and paper s from the floor and stuffed them away in his pocket. The n he thought t hat, being thus secret, h e c o uld give the police a clew, and so he walked from the room, going out through t h e front office where Rolla Narks was. He went down to Freehold for the purpose of looking over the letters and papers, and there he was found by Claude Hanks and brought back to the city. He realized that, h a:ing kept silent so long, his story of his visit to t h e old broker's would not be believ ed, since the news pa pers prejtJdiced the public mind against him, and he i s almost beside himself over his mistake." "It was a mistake sure enough," said Nick. "What d o e s he say about the dagger sheath?" "He never had one like it-in fact, he never owned a dagger at all. But I was sure of this beforehand." "So the back window was raised when he entered the office and found Kasper Kline dead?" "He tells so."

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216 Love Breaks the Silence. There was silence on the detective s part. Ifo in stinctively recalled Rolla Narks' testimony. That worthy had sworn that he found the windows fastened from the inside, and he himself had found them so the same afternoon of the murder. What did this mean, if Oriel Vane told the truth? Nick turned to Dot. "Do you believe his story?" he asked. "I do-every word of it. He is incapable of lying, and to me he would not be guilty of the smallest decep tion. He is innocent, and you must prove it to the world, 1Ir. Carter." "I will! I will if it costs me a year's work and all my cunning. Good night, Miss Dot. Keep a stout heart in your bosom, and don't let the dagger woman see you out again." She promised that she would not, thanked Nick for his vow, and then thanked Heaven for the friend it had sent her in her need. In another instant the best detective in America was gone

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CHAPTER XXXI. THE FORGER'S DEN. Nick did not believe that Rolla Narks was a mur derer. The clerk, while evidently a rascal of the deepest dye, had not the low cunning of the assassin He might be the tool of designing people, the aide r and abetlor of murder, but not a murderer himself. \Vhen the detective had left Dot Darrell's new hom e he reYolved the events of the last few hours in his mind. He, with Dot; believed Oriel Vane's sto r y about his visit to the murdered broker The yo ung man '" : as not guilty of murder, but the chain of cir cumstances was strong against h.lm, and despite his story, he was so deep in the toils that the shrewd ness and eloquence of the best lawyers would not be suffi cient to save him. There was 01;e person whom the detective wante d to see, and that was the janitress of the old house in Hacken ack-Mother Murder, as he had heard her call herself. Finding that he could be spared from the city for a few hours, he took a train for Hackensack and landed in that sleepy town. He recalled his last vis i t when he watched Rolla Narks and Mother Murde r in the house, upon which occasion, as the reader will recollect, the woman burned some sort of ma r k on the man's arm after submitting him to her hypnotic powers.

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218 The Forge1,; s Den. Disguising himself as a man of business whose oc cupation was the finding of heirs, he walked up to t.he old house and knocked. Some moments elapsed ere any one came to the door, and when it was opened he found himself face to face with Mother Murder. The sallow-faced woman had an eye which was doubly dangerous, and the old detective was shown into the room with that evil eye fastened upon him. The moment he had stated his business the woman laughed. "I'm no lost heir. I'll tell you that to start with. If I was, I wouldn't wait for any one to find me." Nick pulled a prepared book from his pocket and began to examine it. "Queer names we have on our lists sometimes ," said he, without looking up. "I don't doubt it." "Now, here's the name of Narks, for iDstance. I suppose you don't know any one by that name? Mother Murder started. "I don't," she said. "I don't care muchfor names." "No?" said the detective. "That's the way with some people. Our agency makes a business of fi11di11g lost fortunes, and you see we run across some rare names. We would give a good deal to find certain people, and we keep a standing reward for some of them." No answer. The hypnotic eyes were regarding the detective, and he seemed to feel their power. "If you knew any one by the name of Jonas you might strike it rich."

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The Forger's Den 2 1 9 "I never heard the name." "Nor that of-let me see-yes, Vela tine." "Man or woman?" asked Mother Murder quick ly. The janitress seemed to take a long breath. "Won1an." "Old or young?" "Say about thirty." "\iVhere from ?" "Oh, the estate's in Scotland," said Nick. "You see, we would like to find some fifty people who are real heirs, but, as you can't give me any information, why, I won't trespass longer on your time." He picked np his hat and restored the book to his pocket. "\iVait here a moment," cried Mother Murder, leaYi ng the room. Half a minute later the detective heard the sounds of voices. They seemed to come from a distant part of the hous e, and he went forward to catch their im port. At the door where he stopped he heard a little p l, iner, and when he pushed it open he heard still better. "Mebbe he's a spy," said a voice. "I don't think he is." The last words were spoken by the woman. "Is he old?" "Not very." 'VI/ ell dressed ?" "Rather." "And he says he is looking for heirs?,. "Yes."

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The Forger's Den. 221 did not follow, but approached the lodge and then en tered. Nick found himself amid pitch darkness. Everything was silent in the house. Presently he caught sight of a light directly beneath his feet, and he dropped to his knees and looked down. The light seemed to be underground, and while he looked he saw that it was being carried through a tunnel by Mother Murder. Here was a mystery which delighted the detective. He watched the woman till she vanished with the light, and then began to search for a trapdoor. He found it. Lifting it, he disc ov ered a ladder leading down into the bowels of the earth, and, looking to his revolver, the detective dccended. He set foot on the ground and in a corridor, the width of which he could ascertain with his hands. In a little while he came to a door which seemed to be set in a solid wall, and he opened it with eagerness. The change of air told him that he was in a room of spacious dimensions, and from which, no doubt a tunnel ran back to the main house, in which directi on he had seen Mother Murder vanish with the light. Nick stood in the underground nest for five minutes without moving, and then he ventured to use his pocket flash. It was a risk, but he had taken risks before. By the aid of the bright circle of light he saw the outlines of a handsomely furnished room. There were chairs, tables, and desks galore, and the walls were adorned with fine paintings in great gilt i. ames Such a place underground would attract at '
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222 The Forger's Den. complete surprise. Everything told that the room had been fitted up without regard to expense, and Nick knew that he was in a den of some kind of crime. Was this the room which the man whom he had seen leave the lodge inhabited? Had he come from all this sumptuousness to vanish toward town, per haps in hunt of him? He remembered having heard a man talking to Mother Murder, and it naturally occurred to him that he was connected with the establishment. Nick saw by the light of his flash some papers lying on one of the tables. He approached and held th6 l ight over them. They were half-finished bonds, and with a thrill the detective saw that the y were the famous Erie and Northern securities. He had simply d ropped down into the workshop of the forgers. He h a d discovered the place where the fraudulent bonds were prepared by skillful bands, and he wondered if this was the information which Oriel Vane intended t aking to Kasper Kline. The detecti v e heard a slight noise. Quickly he ex tingui s hed his flash. In a minute a door opened, and h e knew that he was not the sole tenant of the' underground den. But who had come in? Of course, as all was dark, he did not know. "Where the devil is Dagon ?" said a strange voice. Here I have slipped over from the city to see him a n d he is gone. Mother Murder said he was in the workshop, but he isn't." As the voice ceased a light was struck, and Nick, y.rho had retreated to the wall, saw a handsome man in

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The Forger's Den. 223 the gleam. was Captain Castellar, of New York. The Wall Street Wizard, as he was sometimes called, stood revealed to the keen hunter of men. "What has he done, anyhow?" continued Capta in Castellar. "I would like to see Dagon, but I can't stay here. Must take the next train back, for I have busi ness of importance in the city." Foc a moment the man bent over the table, examin ing the bonds there, and the detective noted a flash of triumph in his eyes. "Dagon is a marvel," the Spaniard said. "He can make anything o n paper, but he can't meet men and fight them with other weapons. He would be at a loss how to play a hand against detectives and the like. I am the man for that. I am the person who can play the cool hands with a cool head on my shot:l ders. I'll leave a note for bim." The man hastily scrawled something on a sheet of paper and then extinguished the light. Nick heard him quit the chamber. and then he stepped forth. He had seen more than he bargained for. He had pickc l up the most important link in the whole chain. Cap i:ain Castellar was a grand rogue; he was more than mat.

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CHAPTER XXXII. ROBBED OF HIS SECRET. Clover Ketch, the lawyer broker, was seated alone in his little office. It was quite late at night, and, as he kept late hours whenever it suited his purpose, he seemed to be waiting for some one, for he was doing nothing but enjoying a prime cigar, while he watched the dial of the clock that ticked away on the shelf above his head. "Con found it all!" cried he at last. "Why don't he c 0 me ?" At this instant the door opened with a slight squeak, and a man slid into the room. It was Rolla Narks. The moment the broker saw the clerk a strange smile passed over his face, and when Rolla came forward and dropped into a chair the smile vanished. "\Vell, they committed him?" said Rolla. "Of course. 'Vl'hat else could they do?" answered Clover Ketch. "\!i.l ere you there ?" "No, business of importance kept me m the office. 0 f course you went?" "I had to go, you know." "Oh, yes! You are an important witness for th e S.:ate." Rolla Narks rubbed his thin hands together, an d gave a smirk of guiltiness. "Did they cross-quesfr:m vou ?"

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. Robbed of His Secret. 225 "Bless you, no. He hadn't any lawyer, you know." "And pleaded not guilty, of course?" "])id it brazenly." "Why shouldn't he?" Rolla Narks nearly fell from his chair. "Wha-what's that?" he gasped "I guess you're not hard of hearing. If .you are, ;here is my partner's ear trumpet hanging on the wall, and you can use .it." "i hear very well, but at times I am a little obtuse." "Especially on an occasion like this." don't know." ''I said why should not the accused plead not guilty?" "\i\Tith all the array of evidence against him?" "Yes." "I don't see what good a plea o-f that kind will do him." Clover Ketch looked at Rolla a second, and then turned to the table. Rolla followed him with his eye, and saw that he was thinking deeply. "What do you get for it?" suddenly asked the law yer broker. "What do I get for what?" "Come, you know, man. The aoor is locked, and if you don't play fair with me, by heavens, I 'll hand you over to the law." The clerk turned deathly white. "Before God! I do-r't know anything more than I have sworn to !'' he exclaimed "You don't, eh?"

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:;1IF" -. 2 2 6 Robbed of H i s Secr et. "Before H eave n I don't." Lawye r Ketc h smi l ed. "Look here: You may deceive the officer s a n9 t h e courts; you may even hoodwink the detectives, but yo u can't draw the woo l over my eyes Rolla stared and said nothing. "How much were you to be paid for your share of the plot?" No answer. "See here: I am Clover Ketch, and I can't be fooled. You tell what passes between us at the risk of your life. You didn't kill him. Oh, no. You haven't the 'sand' to kill any one. You are a coward at heart; but you can do the accessories, and so forth. 1 For instance, you can prepare the way--" "But I say I didn't." "You simply lie, Mr. Narks!" interrupted Ketch 1 the lawyer "vVhat's that?" "You lie; that's pretty plain, I guess!" Rolla looked like a man suddenly struck dumb Clover Ketch, with a grin of mercilessness, leane d toward him and seemed to look him through. "Here, you needn't speak his name; you can jus t write it for me on this bit of paper." "No, I can't do anything of the kind." "But you must." "I ay--" "You shall!" and the lawyer's hand seized Rolla' s arm and he was drag ged to the table. "Here, write

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Robbed of His Secret. 227 the nat\le on this paper, and I will seal it without seeing whose name you have written." "If I refuse, what?" "You might guess; I'll forever blight your prospects with Mrs. Jonas." Rolla started. "Then you know--" "Of course I know. Write the name there; here is the pen. Make no mistake; I'll turn my head away." Rolla Narks looked at the lawyer once picked up the pen. He was still white. looked at Clover Ketch and hesitat e d more and Once he "The name or the wreck of your fortunes. I can wreck them." The clerk bent ove_r the table. The pen moved across the paper, which he blotted and folded, afte r which he handed it to Ketch. Without opening the paper the lawyer put it into an envelope, and sealed it in R o ll a's presence. "I'll keep the secret never mind," said he. Do, for God's sake! You don't know what a struggle this has cost me." "It mus t have been a dreadful one; you are a m : m of such clea n c o nscience," sneered the lawyer. "Will you lock the envelope up?" "Yes, if you like, in the safe yonder." Half a minute later Rolla Narks stood erect, looking at the lawyer who had wormed a secret from him. "By the way," said Ketch, "how is your arm?" "11 v ",.,,, ?" echoed Rolla

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Robbed of Ilis Secret. "Yes. I had a strange dream the other night. I dreamed that your arm was marked in a strange manner by a woman." "My God! Did you have a dream like that?" "Yes; singular, wasn't it?" "Very." "Let me see your arms. I don't take much stock in dreams. But, you see, my dream appeared so real that it has been recurring to me ever since." "Why, there's nothing on my arm." "But it will do no harm to look." "Of course if you care to see," and Rolla began to roll up his sleeve. He could recall nothing about the hypnotic work of Mother Murder in the house in Hackensack. He did not know that the contents 0 the vial had traced a serpent on his bare skin. As the sleeve came up he staggered back, staring at the arm. "Merciful heavens! I knew nothing about that!" he cried. His eyes seemed ready to start from his head "You see what a dream was," smiled Clover Ketch. "But look! look! the infernal thing seems to writhe. It is a snake complete. How came it there?" The excited man tried to rub it off, but could not "It is burned into my arm forever," he said "Where did I get it?" and then he thought for a moment. "Did she do it? Was it her work? If I thought by Heaven, I'd kill her!" "Whom would you kill, Mr. Narks?"

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Robbed of His Secret. 229 "Never mind. I can't account for that infernal sign on my arm. I must have beer.. put under the -111-fluence of some drug." "When? Where?" "That is what I don't know." "You sleep behind locked doors, don't you?" "I have for twenty years." "You sleep lightly, too?" "It is a cat's sleep." Rolla pulled down the sleeve and groaned. "What would Mrs. Jonas say to the sign on your arm?" asked the lawyer broker. "She must never see it." "Go and s h ow it to her. Tell the truth." "I can't do that. I'd sooner die!" "Oh, well, if you are such a coward, you deserve to carry a mark like that to your grave." The agony of the clerk was terrible even to such a hard-hearted man a Clover Ketch. He let Rolla withdraw. "Poor fool!" said the lawyer. "I got your secret without much trouble. You are in my power, and so is your master. Let me see. The envelope with the name? Here it is!" He pulled the prize forth, and held it between him and the light. The envelope was a thin affair and as Rolla had written with the blackest of ink, the writing showed through. The name was there, and a devili s h grin appeared on Ketch's face as he read it. "It's all right. I'm on the right road, and this i money in the pocket of Clover Ketch. I know what

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Robbed of His 'Sec1-et. I'm about, and when I play a hand I know what it means. Now, with the detective out of the way-for I can't bear the thought of that man on the trail-I will be in clov er, and my fortune will be made." Meantime, Rolla Narks had sneaked home. Behind bolts and bars the man removed his clothes and lookerl again at his arm. The serpent branded there by Mother Murder seemed to writhe and twist the length of the member. Rolla grated his teeth wnile he looked at it, and his frame underwent a nervous tremor. "Rosa must never see this; but after our she can't help seeing the accursed mark," he said to himself. "I can't get it off. I can't have my arm amputated, for I hmen't that much nerve. The per-on who put it there must have the power to remm e it. I can think of only o ne person capable of placing s11ch a thing on a man's arm, and she is capable of anything." what should he do? The longer he looked at the arm, the cleeper grew his hatred of i t and its mark. "I know what I will do," he cried. "I will within the next few hours have that thing removed, o r blood!" The man was desperate, as well he might be.

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CHAPTER XXXIII. THE DEATH TRAP. Lawyer Ketch had a secret. No sooner had Rolla Narks left his office than he opened the envelope and took the bit of paper out. It confirmed what the light had told him. He looked at it with a smile, and said something not intended for human ears. In short, the man was delighted. A rascal himself, he could deal with men of the same type, and he would let them know that he was a dangerous person to fool with. After a while he locked the office and went away. Some blocks from the office he stopped and a house, where he ascended to a room on the second floor. Here he found his partner. A good many people had wondered where Fletcher Fleecem was, but Ketch always said he was away on business, and every one believed him. Fleecem sat in an easy -chair, with his head propped up by cushions. He was a man of fifty, cadaverous in appearance and sour of countenance. He had become afflicted with a disease that prevented him from walking, and for s om e cause the two lawyers had kept all knowledge of it from the outside world. As Ketch closed the d oor the face of the sick man seemed to brighten. CIO\er Ketch came forward and sat down at the arm chair. "Vv e've made a ten strike," said he. "That's good. I have to depend on you for work .,.._

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232 The Death Trap. now, Cl01Ver. I am willing to do the if you will only e x ecute." "Trust me for that. I am ready for anything, and thi s time we have struck it rich, sure enough." Fleecem watched his partner, and while he did so he seemed to notice that Ketch was immensely pleased. "\Vhat do you think I've done?" asked Ketch. Really, I don t know. I'm a poor guesser, you see." "I've robbed Rolla Narks." "You have?" "Yes. "Robbed him of what?" "His secret. Ah, that is good, sure. You have robbed him, eh?" "It was no trouble at all. The fellow has nerves, and he don't care to have them tried very much." "So you told me once before." "He turned pale, but I put the screws to him and he weakened." Both men laughed together. What did they care how many men they bled so that money came to thei r coffers? "\Vell, what was his secret?" asked Fleecem. "The name of the man who did the deed." "\Vhat, he didn t giye that up to you?" "That's just wl'iat he did." "And it is ours now?" "Of course."

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The Death Trap 233 "By Geo rge! Clover, you're a trump; you're worth your weight i n gold." "I begin to think so myself Fletcher Fleecem made no reply for a moment. "Would you mind telling me?" he asked at last. In reply Ketch took a bit of paper from his notebook and showed it to hi s partner. In an instant the eyes of the t>Yain met. "You don't say so?" cried Fleecem. "That's \\'hat Narks wrote for me.'' "It's a bonanza, sure enough Did you ever see such a pud, Clover? I never did." "Ditto," said Ketch, as he grinned. "You see what we ha,e got now. Why, that secret is worth millions to us if we but play the right carcfs." "And we'll play them, eh?" "Of course we will. There's only one thing 111 it I don't like." "\Vhat's that?" "There's a detective on the trail-a man who is noted for his shrewdness, and he is liable to giYe us some trouble." "But I thought they had a man arrested for the deed?" "They have; but, don't you see, the man who did the arresting is the rival of the other detective, and the game, in his mind is not yet played out." "Oh, I see," said Fleecem, looking across the room with half-shut eyes. "You want this detective out of the way?"

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234 The Death Trap. "He ought to be got rid of, else he may give us trouble." ''Get rid of the man, then." Fletcher Fleecem spoke without any mercy Mercy was something he knew nothing about, and while he spoke there was a malignant smile at the corners of his mouth. "That's what I say, too; but you are the planner of the firm, and I have come to you for that part o f the scheme." "Tell me all about this man." "His name is Nick Carter." "I've heard of him. And you say that this man is likely to give us trouble?" "That's the man." "I had hoped it was some one else, but never mind \i\lhat do you think he knows?" "I believe that he believes Oriel Vane innocent o f the crime, no matter how black it looks for the young man just now." "Yes, yes!" "Believing this, he is at work trying to fas ten t L e murder upon some one else." "Of course." "I don't think he suspects Narks, though he m a y believe that the clerk knows something. You see, the danger is that he may track Rolla Narks clo\rn and frighten from him the same secret we hold now." "There's danger in that, Clover." "I so, and that is why the man is so dan gerous."

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The Death Trap. 235 "Curse him! then he must get out of the way." Clover Ketch said nothing, but looked at his part ner. "Couldn't you set the captain at him?'' "I could. Indeed, he knows that Carter is playing his hand; but I can't say that we can depend on Cap tain Castellar just now." "Very well, then; I will take the matter in hand." "You, in your condition?" "Yes. You know what I can do. Don't think that because I am confined to this house I am powerless. S it down at that table, Clover. You can change your handwriting. I have seen you do it." Ketch went to the table and drew a chair up to it. "Now, make a hand small and somewhat crampy," said Fleecem, "and write after my dictation. Are you ready?" "Ready." "Very well. Now begin : 'NICHOLAS CARTER. "'DEAR Sm: I have some important information for you, and if you will call at my house after ten to-night I will impart it, if you are discreet. I will wait for you, and if you have the interest of an ac cttsed young man at heart, I think you will come. 'Yours, S. D.' Clover Ketch wrote this and then looked up at his partner. "\Vhat if he comes?" he asked. "I'll be responsible for what follows the call," was said with a devilish grin.

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The Death Trap. "Shall I post this letter?" "At once. He will get it yet to-day and that will brin g him to the trap." "Do you need help?" "No.'1 The letter was sealed and stamped and Ketch put it away in his pocket. "Leave everything to me," said Fleecem. "I am apparently helple s; but sometimes the will is as strong as the flesh. I can kill as well as a lion. My claws are just as sharp, as you shall see." "You don't intend to make any noise about it, do you?" "Not much," smiled Fletcher Fleecem. "You don't know this old house as well as I do. It must have been used for diabolical purposes before we took it. I haye been all over it on all fours, but I have made some important discoveries. I know where the trap doors are and how to operate them. I have occupied my spare moments in making this trap complete and it is finished again. Why, man, let me show you something." "All right, old man." "Watch that little square in the carpet yonder. You see that it is apparently solid, an
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The Death Trap. 237 "To China, perhaps; but at any rate it leads to death." "And you intend to spring that trap on Nick Carter?" "I have told you that I intend to do the thing de cently and in order; there shall be no noise, and all will be well when you come again." "You're worth a dozen dead men yet," cried Ketch. "I hope so." Clover arose and picked up his hat. "The detective first, and then the other one," said Fleecem, looking up in his face. "Thaf s the program." "If Rolla Narks falls into Nick Carter's clutches before we get a chance at the detective we may be balked for a time." "I will see that he does not do so before night.., "That will do. Have Rolla Narks sure of not meeting Carter till then, and trust me for the rest." K_etch went away laughing, and Fleecem ettled back in his chair with a glare of tigerishness in the depths of his eyes. "I know he will come, and I want to see the death trap work," said he, rubbing his thin and bloodless hands. "I may be a silent partner just now, but I'm a dandy." He shut the gaping hole jn the floor and shut his eyes. Clover Ketch posted the letter. knowing that it would reach Nick before night.

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The Death Trap. What a man Fletcher Fleecem was, and how full of expedients his head was. And as he walked off, Clover Ketch almost felt the fortune for which they were playing in his hands, and he smiled when he thought that Nick's eventful career was about to close. Once in the pit beneath the house, the detective would be lost forever, and his would become a trail of dark mystery .....

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CHAPTER XXXIV. IN DREADFUL TOILS. The death of Kasper Kline had thrown Rolla Narks out of employment. He was no longer seen bendi ng over the ledger, and ever since the murder he was ( 1 ) be found well dressed, and apparently taking his ease like a man who has earned his vacation. When he arose, after an hour of half-sodden sleep, he resolved to attend to the business which just then troubled him some, and with this end in view he went across the ferry and took the train for Hackensack. Reaching the town, he went direct to the old hou e where Nick had made such important discoveries, and knocked. Mother Murder came to the door. She smiled when she saw Rolla and as the clerk entered she st epped back and looked at him. Rolla walked straight to the parlor and turned abruptly upon the woman. ''I'm here on a matter of business, said he, with a flash in his eye. I have every rea so n to believe that when I was here last you served me a mean trick." Mother Murder said nothing, but fastened her eyes on him, and Rolla retreated for he always feared those orbs. "Don't look at me that way!" cried the clerk. "Very well. Are you afraid of eyes?" "Never mind, but I don't care to have you }<()Qk at me in that manner."

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In Dreadful Toils. 1Iother Murde r made no reply, and Rolla began to unbutton his slee\ e. "What are you going to do?" asked the woman. "I want you to remove what you put on my arm." "I?': "Yes, you." Rolla thought he was cowing the woman. "See here, man: I am not to be accused of things in this manner. You will either take back the accusa tion or quit the house." "I'll do neither." By this time Rolla Narks had Qpened his sleeve and Mother Murder saw her work onc e more. "You did that!'' cried Rolla. "\Vhy, it's a snake!" "It's the devil s serpent! I want it taken o ff my arn1." "\Yell, why don't you have it taken off th en ? I have no objections." "Take it off!" Mother Murder again fixed her eyes upon Rolla, and he suddenly threw up his hands to work off the dangerous spell. "Don't eye me that way," he said. "You have s t range powers, and while I was under the spell you marked me for Ii f e T h e re was no reply. The woman, standing so lid, continued to watch the man and his powers seemed t o fail. All at once Mother Murder went toward him, a ncl h e listless into a chair He was under the p o t ent spell on c e m o re. The woman looked at him

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In Dreadful Toils. a few moments and then Lent over him. One hand went into his pockets and she drew out a scarlet cord with two little balls at the ends. It was the exact counterpart of the cord which Nick Carter found in Kasper Kline's library the day after the murder. Mother Murder held the cord up and grinned while she looked at it. Rolla never moved. A moi11ent later the woman thrust the cord into her bosom and again ransacked Rolla's pockets. She found two letters which she read, and put them back, but not till she had torn the smallest corner from each. For ten minutes Rolla Narks lay in the trance, and when he came out he was alone in the room. "What has happened?" cried he, as he staggered to his feet and looked wildly around. "What has hap pened, I say? I am in the olJ house in Hackensack and alone. Mother Murder let me in. Have I again been under the spell? My arm! How does it look?" He saw with a start that the serpent was still there in all its hideousness, and then he started toward the door. "I'll have it off or blood!" cried he. "Where is the she-cat?" "Here!" said a voice as the door opened, and he recoiled from the dark face of Mother Murder. "Here I am," continued the woman. "You have been asking for me; I am al ways on hand." Rolla Narks was speechless. "Sit down!"

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In Dreadful Toils. He did not obey, when the woman's hand clutched his wrist, and he was seated by force. "That's a pretty thing for a man like you to carry," said she, displaying the scarlet cord. Rolla uttered a cry of alarm. "You've robbed me," he said. "Yes, I robbed you." "Let me have it," and Rolla put out his hand for the scarlet cord. But Mother Murder held it out of his reach. "You belong to the Scarlet Stranglers, do ;you?" "No, I found that cord on the sidewalk the other day." "Don't lie to me. You belong to the Stranglers. \\Then were you initiated?" "I don't belong." "No man carries this cord who is not a member of the order," said the woman. "'Well, what are you going to do about it?" Rolla had grown defiant, as if he thought it the best way to meet Mother Murder. "\Vhat am I going to do about it? I owe that order a grudge, and I have taken an oath to deal with it summarily." "It never harmed you." "Silence! The man who is at the head of the or' der in this city is known to me, and yet he never suspects the truth. What do you call him?" Rolla looked at her in silence. "I mean, by what name do you know the man who

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In Dreadful Toils. 243 ga,e you this cord when you were taken into the Scar !et Stranglers?" The clerk said that he could keep secrets as we!l as any one, and that under no circumstances would he answer the question. "You won't answer me, eh? Very well. Then you perish here." He looked like a trapped bird. The room was small, and all its doors were shut. Mother Murder stood between him and the door by which he had entered, and her :figure presented an in surmountable barrier. Rolla feared the woman, yet he wanted t.o show her that he was a man of nerve, when, in fact, at that very moment his courage was oozing out at his finger ends. "Tell me by what name you know him," said the woman. "Tell me the truth." "I will not!" Mother Murder advanced a step. Her right hand was thrown forward and her eyes got a new flash. Rolla was caught by the throat before he could make a move. The cry for help which came to his lips died there. He was helpless in the power of the fem ale fiend. "Name him?" cried Mother Murder. No answer. "Don't you call him Captain Castellar ?" Rolla felt the name go through him like a dagger. "Do you ever call him Captain Mercedes?" "N n

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In Dreadfitl Toils. "'It is Castellar, then. And the woman with whom he lives. Is she more than Velma to you?" "No." "He got you into the order, did he?" "Yes." "He gave you the cord and swore you to the secrets of the league? Captain Castellar got you into the order and made you his slave?" "He did." The woman's hand fell off and Rolla almost dropped to the floor. He was nerveless and white "Now, tell me where he found you, and all about how he got you into the trap Afraid of the creature of m y stery, the clerk talked in gasps for a few moments, when his v oice grew stronger. Mother Murder listened with a smil e at her lips, and when he had finished she said: "Bare your arm now." A minute later some dark-colored fluid was p o ured over the member and when the woman wip e d i t off the serpent was gone. Rolla lo oked pleased "No w," said Mother Murder, "you mu s t remain here." "In thi s h o use?" "Yes. You are safe nowhere else. Hav ing be trayed the man you have served, havililg proved a traitor to the Scarlet Stranglers you will be hunted down when your treason is discovered." "But he will come here "No more to this house," said Mother r rder, with emphasis.

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In Dreadful Toils. 245 "But he owns it." "I know; but he will never cross its threshold again. The days of the Stranglers are near an end; and you, Rolla Narks-I won t say what will become of you." "But I have told you everything. "I had to force it from you." R o lla was escorted from the room, and down a flight o f steps that seemed to lead into the very bowels o f the e arth. Mother Murder stopped at a small door, which s he unlocked and then pushed him forward. The air was close; and he heard the door close, leav in g him in darkness "What does this mean? cried the imprisoned man. R olla struck a match and held it over his head. The next mo ment he dropped it, and, uttering a shriek, staggered to the wall and shivered there. It was some t i m e before he ventured on another match, and then h e w ent through the same operation. But this time hes aw m ore. He s a w again s t the other wall a flesh l ess ske l et on and above it s head in letters of what s eem e d l i \ ing fir e he read : "This man was a Scarlet Stran gler!" T h en h i s match went out again and the hapless man, shut in w ith the grim skeleton and housed with a ,,_cr et t hat made hi s blo o d run cold, recotled to the wall, and seemed ready to drop dead at its foot. He now k n ew that Mother Murder was an avenger, and tha t he r 1ickname did not belie her character.

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The Death Trap Fails. 247 What could he do caged in a chair, as it were? Car ter resolved to call. A careful perusal of the letter t old him that it was a decoy, yet eager to see what it m e ant, he determined to obey it. Night came. The detective q1ade his way to the s t reet where the trap was. He was to call at ten, or p as t that hour, and he concluded to let the clocks strike b efo re he ventured. He reconnoitered the house, and found it an ordinary affair, and not at all like a death trap. Meantime, Fleecem waited for his victim like a s pider at the door of its den He counted the moments as they waned, and when th e clock sent ten throughout the house he waited for th e knock at the d o or. It came at precisely a quarter pas t the hour. B y pulling a cord which hung near at h : md, the crippled lawyer shark managed to open the d oo r, and as the figure of a man appeared in the hall, .he called to its owner to come on. fa another instant Nick appeared to the spider. Fle tcher Fleecem nodded and smiled. Why shouldn't h e smile? The bird had come to the fowler. The chair intended for the detective had been placed directly over the trap. The lawyer's foot rested on t he button in the floor beneath the carpet, and all was -, i:ea
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The Death Trap Fails. "Yes, rather," answered the lawyer, a little nerv ous, but this soon vanished. Nick had not sat down. "Be seated," said the lawyer waving his hand to ward the chair. Nick remained standing. He lo o ked the man in t h e eye. Fleecern never quailed. "You are the 'S. D.' of the letter," said the dete c tive. I see now that you had good reasons for not giving me yo .ur real name." "Ah!" "You are Fletcher Fleecem, the well-known lawyer and Clover Ketch's partner." A s light s t art on the lawyer's part was the answe r ''I am here in answer to the letter. You said you ha v e something to communicate concerning a person who is accused of crime "I have sir, but be seated, pray." Nick glanced at the chair. He suddenly caught hold of it and tried to lift it to another place but he could not. This confirmed his suspicions. The chair had been made fast over a trap. Fleecem turned pale when he saw the detective's movement. "Go on," said Nick, as he folded his arms and l o oked down at the lawyer. "Since you decline the comm o n courtesies o f life, I refuse to communicate anything." "V &ry well. You see, Mr. Fleecem, that the chair is stationary. You know what it means. It is simply fastened over a trapdoor."

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... The Death Trap Fails. 249 But for his ailment Fletcher Fleecem would have rolled from his chair. The trap had failed. "Now, sir," said the detective, continuing, "since the trap has failed you will be so kind as to give me a little information." "I, sir?" "Certainly. You know a good deal about some things and you have made rascality a part o f your e x isten c e." "Beware how you talk to me. You may believe that I am helpless, but you are liable to discover the contrary." I say you have made rascali t y a s tudy. You and your partner have swindled more people than any t w o other so-called lawyers in New York." "You would not talk thus to me if I were a well man Nick looked at the man and smiled. "I want to know how many forged bond s you have in t he table drawer before you." "Take care, sir.' I know the law of ribel, and, th ou gh I am practically helpless, I can get even." 1 "All right. You and your partner have been deal i n g in bonds these five years, and you were not over particular what kind they were-forged or genuine." Fletcher Fleecem opened a drawer at his right hand a n d into it. All at once his eyes seemed to light up with a flash. A revolver lay there. Whether he k n ew it was there or not before he open eel l h e drawer matters little; there it lay, and his h e 'ld

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The Death Trap Fails. clutched it. Nick, though standing before him, coul d not see the deadly weapon. "You just asked me about bonds," said tbe des per ate lawyer. "I will show you what we have here and you can draw your own conclusions; but I must say you are rather fresh to a man in his own domi cile." As he spoke his hand came up, and at the same time the click of a lock was heard, and the detecfoe was looking down the barrel of a six-shooter A pistol was never held by a more desperate man than Fletcher Fleecem. Villainy looked out of his eyes, and he glared at the detective with all the vindictiYe ness of a murderer. "You see where I hold you," said he. "I guess the boot is on the other leg now." The detective seemed to measure the distance be tween them, but he did not move. To spring forward would be to press the trigger, and perhaps to end his career at the muzzle of a desperate man's revolver. "I am going to kill you where you stand, Nicholas Carter," continued the la wyer shark. There was no doubt that such was the cripple's in tention. "I promised Clover that I would make no noise, but I am going to assume all risks. I shall kill you and then open the trap." "You are a coward, whose career will end just as soon whether you carry out your hellish designs or not," said the menaced detective "That's .:i 11 very nice, but the bullet will nrove it ,.

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The Death Trap Fails. 251 "You are even now in the shadow of death by disease, but you will live to be hanged." "Will I? You think so, do you?" "I know it." "Come! You are only talking for time now. I can see that, but it won't save you." Nick had moved one foot a little forward. It was a preliminary move to a spring, and he gathered him self together for the leap. "I will give you a moment. b. man can do a good deal of praying in that length of time. It is more than the dying thief had. Do you ever pray, Mr. Carter?" Silence followed these words, and the glistening eyes behind the revolver looked deadlier than ever. "I give you one minute. Time is precious with me and short with you." Nick looked once more at the man in the chair He thought he detected a nervousness on the part of the lawyer; but it was only the steadying of the nerves fur the death shot. "Time up," suddenly cried Fletcher Fleecern, and th e next moment he pressed the trigger. There was a click, nothing more. The hammer c a me down on the shell, but no explosion followed. The baffled man fell back in his chair, his nerves en tirely gone. The revolver had failed him. He was at the detective's mercy. Nick went toward him and wrenched the six shooter from his grasp. "The next time you want to inspect your death agent before using it. You didn't fail purposely. I

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252 The Death Trap Fails. give you that credit. You certainly intended to send a bullet through my head ; but, you won't now, eh?" "What are you going to do with me?" "I shall leave you to the disease and the law. It will be a race as to which gets you first. Good night. When you want me again don't fail to let me know." The trap had failed. Fletcher Fleecem, lying back in his chair, gasped like a madman. He looked duwn and saw the revolver; then he picked it up. and ex amined it. "It was the shell I fired yesterday," he cried. ") l ..

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CHAPTER XXXVJ VELMA'S "JAG." Clover Ketch, this man's partner in crime, waited till twelve that night. He was anxious as to the suc cess of the trap and wanted to know how it had worked. "I'll go and see how he got along, and whether the detective c:lme to the trap," said he. And so he sneaked from his little office, and went over to the street where Fletcher Fleecem Jived. Mr. Ketch never knocked. The door was always open to him, and he slipped into the hall and made his way to the lawyer's room. Everything was still. As he opened the door leading into the room he noticed that the light was turned low. Fletcher Fleecem was at the table but his head was bent forward on hi s Clover saw no evidence of the success of the plot He went forward and laid his hand on the cripple's shoulder. Fleecem did not move. "He is dead!" cried Clover Ketch. Then he Ji fted the head and looked at a face cov ered with dried blood. The next instant he saw the revoker which was still clutched in the dead hand. Fleecem had taken his own life. For half a minute the lawyer broker stood in the presence of death, spellbound and horrified. He had never seen anything like this. When his courage came back to him he set the dead back in the chair, and then dic;covered

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a bit of paper on : h.: table st:iined wi t h blood, but covered with writing. He read it with bated breath. It was addressed to h im, and in a few brief lines t old e\erything. Then Clover Ketch knew that the plot had failed, that Fle ecem had tried to kill Carter, but that the revolver had failed to work. He reaw. It will all be mine !" He studied for a little while, and then h e saw that th::: doors were fastened, and made sure that he was il '2 only person in the house besides the dead. It did nc t take him long to find the spring that operated t h e trap in the floor. He lifted Fletcher Fleecem in his arms and laid him on the trapdoor. Then h e \\ent h1ck. and with a long look placed his foot on the but t < 11 and pressed it quickly. In an instant the door ( '.rnppe d and the body disappeared from sight! A:; i t came back to its position the carpet returned t o its 011 I-time looks, and the deed done. Clmer Ketch sat down and took from the desk what h e thought he might need. He carried away some t hings which belonged to them jointly, and then arose. The pit under the floor had its secret, and so had

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Velma/ s "] ag." 255 he. He was without a partner now, and he could keep his own secrets, and had no one to divi de the stake with \\'hen it shou ld fall into his h
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Velma's "! ag." woman, with a laugh. "Let me tell you. 'Ever since I failed to kill that girl--" Clover Ketch thought her insane. "Come, you never tried to kill any one," he said. "Yes, I did, and I'm not through with her yet. I have seen her since; but the last time she had an escort and they got away from me." "This won't do You don't want to kill any one That's against the law." "\Vhat do I care for the law?" cried the woman, bringing her fist down on the table. "They electrocute people for murder. "Then why don't they electrocute him?" was _the quick retort. Clo, er Ketch did not care lo ha,e a11y one overhear Velma. and he glanced around the room to see if any one was listening, and he noticed that a man seated at one o f the tables, and apparently in a worse condi tion than Velma was, was oblivious to his surroundings. "Why don't they kill him, if they kill for murder?" cried the woman "Hush! Not so loud!" At this moment the drink that Velma had ordered wa brought. "Here' to our enemies men or women!" exclai111e1l the woman, as she tried to rise to her feet; but Ketch pulled her back into her chair. "Don't make a scene here. Shall I order a taxi?" "No; let's make it all 11ight. I can kill her to-mor-

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Velma's "lag." 257 row or next day, and if I don't, why, I can tell them who the murderer of the old broker is." "You'll have the police down here in a little while." "Where's the p'lice ?" "Nearer than -you think," was the response, intended to terrify Velma; but it did not. "Call 'em in. I'll 'peach' now. I know who did it, and how it was done. And he has thrown me over board for that girl I want to get even with both of them. Had the girl foul when she wriggled out of my hands and pitched me into the street. Ha, ha! Bring me another." This to the waiter. Clover Ketch was almost in despair. He did not know what to do. "Where's the clerk?" cried Velma. "Where's the man what helped him?" This was the straw that broke the camel's back. Ketch resolved to get her away in spite of her stub bornness, and he caught her arm and pulled her from the chair. Velma insisted on treating the house, and seeing the drunken man at the table, she ran toward him, and was pulled away just as she was about to drag him to the bar. But Ketch got his charge into the night air at last, and fortunately a taxicab was standing near the resort. "Lemme go back," cried Velma. "Where's the p'lice? I'll tell 'em all about it, for I know. Lemme go! But Ketch held on like grim death, and by force he dragged the wild creature to the machine and uncere moniously dumped her in.

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Velm a s "Jag "Don't t ake me home," said Velma, as she back into the cab, quite for a moment. "Where to, then?" "Anywhere. Drive about till morning.'" "No, you've got to go to bed." "But not to his house." "Very well, then Then the lawyer gave the chauffeur the name of a h o t el, and the car turned into another street. Half a n hour later the vehicle stopped at the hotel named and Clover Ketch got out. Velma, stupidly drunk n ow, was helped out and upstairs by the lawyer and the porter. Clover Ketch took the bull by the horns and placed her on the bed. \;vhen he came downstairs he looked like a man much relieved. He walked into the bar and took a l o ng drink, which seemed to brace him up. "What a time," said he as he walked out. "I don't care to have another like it. She would have told e\' e rything, and I would have lost a fortune. That's what. To-morrow she will wake up with a big head, but otherwise all 0. K." He went back toward the resort where he had en countered Velma. It was an all-night place. He did not enter, but looked in a moment. The tables were almost empty, and the drunken man was gone. "It was luck that no one paid any attention to her, muttered Clover as he walked off. "That drunken bloat at the table was in no state to hear Gabriel"s trump, and it was lucky for her that he was not." If he had watched "that drunken bloat" he might

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Velma's "Jag." 25<) have been undeceived. He might have seen him and walk out of the place, after he took Velma out, as straight as an arrow. He might have seen th i s same man, if he had taken the trouble to follow him, go into another part of the city with a s mile o n h is face and val)i sh. But Clover Kelch did not s e e an y of these things. He had come back too late for the m While Velma was s leeping off her stup o r and foofo h spree, the lawyer went home. It had been an e v ent L J night to him. But he should have se e n the bloat." He should have seen him unlock a door, and stri k e a light in a little room near Wall Street. whom he had dubbed a "drunken bloat" Carter, the king of detectives. ,.b \ The m n was Ni ckl

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CHAPTER XXXVII. THE LEAGUE OF TWO. Rolb Narks, in the dark cell attached to the secret parts of the old house in Hackensack, felt that his end had come. He could feel the cold bones of the skeleton fastened to the wall, and every time he touched it his blood ran cold. He had gone too far with Mother Murder. While she had removed the sign from his arm he was still in a tickli sh position, and he believed that it was the full intent ion of the woman to doom him to a lingering death in the cell. That she was a dread avenger she had told him herself, and she was ready to wipe out all who in any way IJelonged to what she called the Scarlet Stranglers. Rolla Narks saw that unle ss he effected his escape he \VOuld soon pass into the category of missing men, and that his trail woulJ vanish forever so far as he was concerned. But how could he get out? He had never been per mi ttecl during his trips to the old house to become acquainted with its secrets, and be had believed that Mother Mt1rder was its keeper for Captain Mercedes, or Captain Castellar, as he knew the man. The clerk stood for some time against the wall with his last match out at his feet and his blood cold in his veins. He could not see his hands before his face, and whenever lie listcnC'd for a sound not one came to

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The League of Two. 261 ears. It was a horrible place anc.l reminded him of what he had read about the dungeons of the Old World. When he thought of Mrs. Jonas he resoh-ed that he would escape, but how ? Some hours passed, and all at once the imprisoned man heard a noise which seemed to come from beyond the wall of the cell. Some orte was there. He went to the wall and glued his e<;tr to it. For a moment he heard nothing, and then he smiled. \Vhat he heard sounded like the gnawing of a rat, and he took hope for half a second But suddenly he was blinded by a flash of lig ht, and then he looked into a room in which a man was seated at the table there. This person was a middle-aged man with a beard and black eyes. He had a lot of papers spread out before him on the table, and as Rolla eyed him he saw him take a pen and write cau tiously. "He seems to be doing some fine work," thought the shut-up man. "Oh, I see! he is at work on the b o nds. He is the man who makes the bonds, which t!1e captain puts upon the market." Rolla Narks watched the man for some time. He saw that he was very busy with the pen, and for nearly an hour he did not lift his eye At last the strange man arose and deposited a lot of papers in a secret place in the wall, the button of which was not visible to the watcher's gaze. "I will signal him now, come what may. He may be able to help me out of this dungeon, for I will die here if I remain long."

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The League of Two. Rolla was about to raise his hand for the purpo e of signaling the man, by striking on the waH, when a door opened and he saw a worn<..n walk into the room into which he had been looking. It was Mother Murder. The man at the table \;lid not see her. The woman advanced with noiseless tread, and at last took something from her bosom. Rolla Narks saw to his horror that it was a small red cord, which her hands seemed to toy 'IYith fiendish delight. Was she going to strangle the man? The scene seemed to stili the watcher's voice, and he stood at the crack in the wall held spellbound by it. Mother Murder suddenly threw the cord over the man's head, and then let it drop softly. He fell back in his chair and looked up with a start. "What! were you going to help me out of the world?" said he, with a grin. "I could do it, and with this little cord," was the re ply. "See? it i s as strong as a w1re rope, and with it I could send you to the land of dead men."' "I know it; but take the infernal cord away." Mother l\forder did so, and came around the table, where she stopped and iooked down at tbe man there. "You've been at work," said the woman. The man looked at his hands. "Yes; I've been doing a little at the papen;.'' "The market is st ill flooded with them, eh?" "I guess so." "\Vhen is he going to quit?'' "Oh, when he thinks he is rich enough." "But don't you think it will then be too late-t-hat

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The League of Two. the detectives will have found out the truth before that time?'' "I can't say." M other Murder was silent for a spell "vVhere did you get that c o rd?" a s ked the man. I stole it," was the reply, accompanied by a grin. "\Vhen ? "Not l ong ago. "You haven't been to the city? "No." "No one but the captain has been here as I have s e en by the note he left for me. "Are you sure of this? Reasonably sure." But you don t know, and the woman bent over the man and seemed to touch him with her lips R o lla could not hear what she s a i d but il must haYe been something startling for all at once the man sprang up with a cry and stared at Mother Murder. "You don t tell me so? he cried. I do. He is yonder. A nd what are yo u going t o do \vi th him? "Let him be." "He will die miserably where he i s." "I know that; and doesn t he deserve to perish there ? He belongs to the order, and I have sworn to exterminate it. You know that, Dagon. You heard tny vow years ago. "Yes yes but--" "The time for the great revenge is nearly here I

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The League of Two. c an see it in the near future, and now I have trapped one of the birds, I will see that the cage holds him forever." Dagon, the maker of the false bonds, seemed t o r e flect. "The captain will miss his man," he said at la s t "Perhaps But soon I will settle with the captai n "After that, what?" "What is to prevent us from getting rich? What is to hinder us from rolling in wealth? I know he made i t wrongly by swindling the millionaires, but th;1t mak es n o difference. It should all be ours, Dagon and can be after I have struck." "But, you s ee, we might not be able to hide it .. "Co me, now! we will h i de all we want of it. T h e yonder immured for life in that dark r o om and Ca p tai n l\Iercede s can be decoyed to the hou s e and fin i s hed. You are not a man of nerve, Dagon. Y c n can make bonds, but you can't plot for g o ld o r r e venge. I can do both. I can burn my brid g e s be hi n d me and escape." He looked at her like a man amazed. "vV hat will he do?" thought Roila Narks Oh, for a chance tp get away!" "It shall be as you say, Madge, said Dago n t h e forger. "I will trust everything to you. You shall lead the way, and I wil} follow with a heart as true as steel." "Very well, then. I wi!I see t'.:-it :omes to this

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The League of Two. house within twenty-four hours. Sit down there and write him." "I?" "You, Dagon." The man sat down. Rolla heard the woman dictate a Jetter which Dagon wrote and sealed. It was ad dressed to Captain Castellar, and he was asked to come to the old house at once. "That will bring him," said woman, with a tri umphant grin. "He will leave off everything to come We must strike at once, or the detectiye will get ahead of us." The imprisoned man saw the woman put the letter into her bosom, and with a triumphant look at Dagon walk toward the door. "But the man yonder?" said the forger. "\Vhat will you do with him in the meantime?" "Never mind him. I will see to that bird," laughed Mother Murder, and then she vanished. Dagon vent back to the table and picked up a pile of bonds. "I have made enough money for Captain lVIercedes," said he aloud. "I have been his slave long e no ugh. I don't know how I will come 011 with Madge, but I guess I can manage her." He laughed at the end of the last sentence and leaned back in his chair. "That man wouldn't help me for the world," said Rolla, as hope left him. "The two are leagued to gether and I am lost." Cold drops of sweat came out 011 his forehead and he seemed to gasp. He was doomed to die where he

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The League o f Two was! It was a horrible thing, yet he was afraid to appeal for aid to a man who was in league with Mother Murder. Rolla went back to the crack in the wall, and again watched Dagon as he bent over the table. A t last the man went away Then Rolla when all was quiet, stepped back and threw his whole weight again s t the wall, but it did not yield. Indeed, it seemed as s o lid as steel, and as he recoiled he felt the air grow den ser and his lungs seex:ned to fill with a suffocating od o r. Had the encl reached him? After a while he staggere d forward again and fell against the skeleton. T he clerk seemed mad. He tore the s kelet o n from its fastenings and as it fell piecemeal to the floo r h e found that the wall behind it was yielding a little The next moment, with a cry, he plunged forward and fell headlong into another place as dark a s t he one just de s erted. Maybe he had found a way o ut of pri-son. The skeleton had assisted him at last.

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CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. Velma awoke the next mo ming after her bout with Bacchus with a pain in her head. As she looked around on the walls of the room and to ok in the furniture, her recollection gradually returned, aml she remembered a part of her fiasco. She was in a hotel where had passed several nights previous to the one of her dnmken experience, and ringing for the waiter, she ordered something to stimulate her wasted energies. When she felt better she went down and ordered a taxicab. Entering this, she was driven home, and in a short time she was seated in the parlor as if nothing had happened. She now showed no visible signs of her jag, and as she watched a certain door a smile came to her lips, and she seemed to be expecting some one whose coming was delayed. At length the door opened and Captain Castellar en tered. He stopped when he saw Velma in the arm chair, and a stern look for a moment lit up his eyes. "I trust you had a nice time," said he. Roses came to Velma' s cheeks, but she did not speak for half a second. "You don't show it, thanks to the secrets of the boudoir," he went on. "What do you mean, sir?'' "Is your memory that bad?" gri1med the captain.

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The Dangerous W onian. 269 "I guess we will quit," she suddenly said, spring-ing up and standing in the middle of the floor. "Very well." She did not expect such a reply: "I can find another place." "Certainly." "I am not an entire stranger m this city "No, the bars know you." "Silence, assassin!" Captain Mercedes started. The words had escaped her with a hiss. She had spoken while she looked him in the eye, and her regal figure was drawn to its true lheight, and her white hands were tightly closed. Sud
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270 The Dangerous Fl oman. "I was packing the revolver \\ hen it went off and the bullet just touched my face Captain Mercedes looked disgusted. "You can go back," continued Velma. "I know what I am doing, and can pack my things without any suggestions." "Are you really going?" "I an1." "Look here, Velma ': "Silence! I am going! You shall hear from me again-you and the girl whose throat escaped me not long ago." He did not retreat. "Quit this room!" she suddenly cried, and the re Yol er covered him. "I am mistress here, and you \\ill fall dead where you stand if you interfere with me!" She advanced, thrusting the weapon still closer to his face, and her look was sternness itself. Captain 1\Tercedes saw that the woman's nerves were as steady a nerves of steel, and he thought that it would be best to let her have her way. So he retreated downstairs ancl waited in the parlor. It did not take Velma long to pack up. When she was through she came down stairs, and he waited for her to say good-by at the d 0or. Perhaps she would relent at last. But she passed the door, and was about to let herself out of the h o use when he accosted her. "Don't you think you're acti1 g foolish again?" he said. "I am taking my own part. That is all."

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The Dangerous Woman. "But what will you do in the street?" "I can go to the bars you accuse me of frequenting." "And from there to the gutter?" "Perhaps." He did not want her at large. She was too danger ous a woman to be out in the city against him and his interests. "I've given the girl up," he went on. A cynical smile came to Velma's mouth. "It is true. There never was half as much in it as you thought.' You made the case worse than it was. This is true, as I stand before my God!" She looked at him in a half-doubting way. "We are not the ones to quarrel on such a frivolous subject," he resumed. "It may be a foolish thing to do, but you know me, Captain Mercedes." "Of course I do, Velma; I know you for a big hearted woman who wants love and plenty of it. I will give up this girl; indeed s he was given up before this." The little valise which Velma carried fell to the floor, and she came toward him. "You swear this, do you?" she said. "By all that is solemn." She S\vept past him to the parlor. Lying on the table was a book which she caught up and held for ward. "S\Year on the book!" she cried. __

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272 The Dangerous TVoman. He did so, kissing the book as he finished, and then Velma's eyes got a new glitter. "Now, go upstairs and change your garments, girl." She left the room, and Captain Castellar laughed "I had to do something. I had to hold her back, for I can't afford to have her on the streets yet. That wolllan is a tigress, and when I am ready I will clip her claws in a manner she doesn't dream of. She was drunk last night and made an exhibition of herself in several places. I don't know what she let out maybe nothing." He took a drink from a bottle which he found o n the sideboard, and then lit a cigar. And while Velma was dressing anew he strolled out and took a tax icab for Captain Castellar's office downtown. The Spanish speculator entered and took a seat at his desk. He was writing when the door opened and a footstep crossed the room. Captain Castellar looked up and encountered the face of Clover Ketch. "Good morning, Ketch," he said The lawyer sat down. "\Vell, what' s up? asked the Spaniard. "Not much but they've got it into their heads that something's wrong with the la s t block o f bonds." "\Vho's got it in their head s ? "\Vell, the brokers, for one thing ." "\Vho else?" "The detectives "Ho!" laughed Captain C a stellar. "The y d o n't frighten you, do they? They h a v e n t dri, en a.-.

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The l)angerous TtV oman. 273 color from your cheeks, have they? These bonds are just as good as the genuine." "Yes; unless Dagon has made a mistake some where." "Dagon never makes mistakes," cried Captain Cas tellar, looking at Clover Ketch. "By the way, what sort of time did you have last night?" The lawyer sha;k nearly fell froin his seat. "Come, Ketch, I'm glad you befriended her," con titmed the captain. "She was unfortunate last night, and I happen to know that you found her and escort ed her to a hotel. Velma is a good woman, but she likes a nip now and then, like more of our society la dies. She didn't any one away, did she?" "Not at all," said Ketch. "She managed to keep her mouth shut pretty well, but I got her away as speedily as I cold." "That was right. I am glad she didn't mention the bonds." The smile of an archfiend came to the lawyer's face, and as he turned his head away he thought of what Velma had said about the murder of Kasper Kline, the Wall Street money sh;i rk.

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CHAPTER XXXIX. THE SPANIARD' S VISITOR. It was late in the afternoon when the letter which Dagon had written at Mother Murder's dictation came to the Spaniard's office. He was not in at the time, and the clerk who opened his mail which was not marked "Private," glanced at it and laid it down. Night came, and Captain Castellar, as was sometimes his wont, came back to the little office and spied the letter. "Want me at the old house, do they?" he ejaculated. "I wonder if anything has gone grong ?" He looked at his watch, and seemed to make a men tal calculation. Suddenly a knock sounded on the door, and he left the chair and went to it. He stood stock-still the moment he saw the man who greeted him there. "Corne in," he said at last, and as the man entered he looked him over from head to foot. Captain Castellar's visitor was a person perhaps fifty, angular of figure, and with a thin, sharp face and deep-set eyes. "I see you're here yet," said the man. Captain Castellar made no reply for a moment. "When did you come?" he asked at last. "Just got in. Have had a long trip and am tired. Any wine in the office?" There was always wine in that particular office in

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The Spaniard's Visitor. 275 Wall Street. In a little while a glass and a bottle were placed before the newcomer, and the broker watched him as he helped himself. "It's good wine, but not like we used to drink in Paris and Barcelona." "No, not so g ood," was the reply. "You're looking well; but I see a l i ttle whitening of the hair and your face is thinner. H o w come you on?" "Fairly well." "Got rich, they tell me?" "Fairly so." "Making money hand over fist. Got a fortune at your command; but that's not the way it used to be when we marched one behind the other and-"Man, don't go back that far," cried Captain Casteflar. "vVhy not? I'm not ashamed of that life, for then I was really happy, even if they did mark us, y o u know." "Look here and the captain's face glowed dark. "I don't like to hear of those times." "No? You're ashamed of them, eh?" "Why shouldn't I be?" "Married yet?" "No." "But she is with you. How can you trust that woman?" "I know her." "Yes, but don't you know that she is dangerous? It was she who got us into trouble in farseilles."

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The Spaniard's "I know it." "Yet you keep her. See here, coming down to busi n ess, I want a little money." "Yes, yes," said Captain Castellar, turning his head away. "You want money. How much?" Thus far he had not asked the man his name nor had he spoken it. His visitor looked across the table and seemed to make a calculation. "Gi\e me enough to look want squarely in the face.' "I'll do that." "Give me enough to let me play gentleman. I've been rogue long enough." "How much?" "Say fifty thousand.'' Captain Castellar looked at the speaker in blank astonishment. l7ifty thousand dollars! It ;vas a large sum. "That's a good deal," said the Spaniard. "Don't you know that I can't spare it?" "You can't, eh?" he helpe
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The Spaniard's Visitor 277 "There!" cried Captain Castellar, reaching forth and grasping the man's wrist. "And the time the pr:son was invaded by the small-pox--" "For God's sake, man-Antoine--" "I see you haven't forgotten my name." "No, I haven't." "Nor your number and mine-667 and 899." Captain Castellar seemed to shiver. "I'll take the money now," and Antoine crossed his long limbs and grinned. Captain Castellar, or Mer cedes, twisted in his chair and looked toward the steel safe in one corner of the room. The quick eyes of his visitor followed the glance. "I'm in a sort of a hurry." he continued. "I want that money The man's eyes seemed to flash. He was desperate. Captain Castellar crossed the room and opened the safe. He took out two things-a large pocketbook and sometfaing that lay near by, curled up like a little red snake. He hid the latter in his palm as he came back to the table. "How do you want it-in large bills?" "Yes, in any sort of bills, so the aggregate is all there." Castellar opened the pocketb oo k and took out a new one-thousand-dollar note, which he tossed toward the man. "Isn't that pretty money?" he said. "Just look at the lathe work. It is better d one than ever old Cos t ello did in his palmiest d:iys."

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The Spaniard's Visitor. Thrown off his guarJ for a moment, Antoine leaned forward and picked up the bill. Captain Cas tellar seemed to see his opportunity. The red cord whizzed straight in the air. It went straight toward the man's head and dropped over hi s head. The silver balls at the ends of the cord tightened the cord itself, and as the poor wretch staggered to his feet with a wild cry dying on his lips, he turned black in the face. Captain Caste!lar grinned like a fiend. "That's better than the money," he hissed, as the man sank to the floor. Castellar put the pocketbook away, and came back to his Yictim. He looked down into the face without a sign of pity. Castellar was an unpitying monster. At last when he thought the man was dead, he raised him in his arms and started across the room. Behind a curtain he laid the body on a sofa. Then he sea rched the form. He did not find much that rewarded him, but in one pocket he found a broken link. It >vas a link of an iron chain. He looked at it some time. It seemed to call up the past, and at last he threw it across the room. It was too much for Captain Castellar. With the body of Antoine behind the curtain, he went back to the desk, having previously put the rerl cord back into his pocket, and there he wrote a few minutes. When he went out he locked the door ca1e fully behind him. He went down into the street full of shadows, as Wall Street always is, and crept through them to Broadway. Up Broach\'ay he went, until he found a place which suited him, and he entered. Barn: at the

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The Spaniard's Visitor. end of the building which he entered, he found a man, who started at sight of him. 1 hi man was hurnpbackea and old, but he had an evil eye and a hard face. "Here's twe nty dollars, Louis," said Captain Cas tellar. "Go to my office, and find a man on the settee back of the curtain." "Is he asleep?" "No; he 's dead." "All right." "And when you have found him disfigure his face and carry him down the back stairs, and open the door which leads into Lynn Bodley's office--" "Young Bodley, the broker?" "Yes; the young fellow who is trying to lose all the old man's wealth in Wall Street. \ Veil, carry the body into his office and leave it there. You'll do this, Louis?" "I'll do it!" Captain Castellar withdrew. He had known old Louis for years, and there was a part of the li ves of these two men whic h Captain Castellar would not have had told for the world. Old Louis waited till the captain was fairly out of the building, ere he left the room himself. He slipped down to the Spaniard's rooms. He opened the door and slipped over to the curtained settee. But when he drew the curtain aside he started back with a white face and a cry. No body was there. The dead man was gone For half a minute old Louis stared at the place, and then he smiled. '.All at caught sight of an opca

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The Spaniard's Visitor. wimlow near by. Something seemed fastened to the sill in a curious manner. It was a rope, and he dis covered that it dangled for some distance toward the dark alley. All was plain now. Captain Castellar had not left the man dead. Life had come back, and, un able to get out by the door, the victim had taken to the window. Old Louis went back with smiles all over his face. "A good one on Captain Castellar," he grinned, as he slipped back to his cramped quarters. "I'll have a joke on him when we meet again." But they were never to meet again, though if old Louis had known this at the time he would not have remained very long at home. The toils were slowly tightening around the guilty. The sleuthhound was gathering up the links and putting them together. Something_ was about to happen.

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CHAPTER XL. THE DETECTIVE'S CATCH. Nick Carter was still at work. We have seen how he played the role while Velma and Clover Ketch, the lawyer, were talking in the saloon, and how, after the broker took Velma home, he slipped away, having heard a good deal. Velma, after the reconciliation, felt good. She be lieved for a spell that Captain Castellar's promi es were good, and that he no longer would seek Dot Dar rell. But she did not know the thorough-paced ra:;cal. She feared that Carter would giye both her and the captain trouble, and on the same night that witnessed the eve,1ts of the foregoing chapter, he slipped from the house and went downtov\ n. There was a great deal of the tiger about Velma the keeper of the cap tain's secrets. She had followed his fortunes so long that she knew all about them, and he had nothing that was hidden from her. She knew where Nielhad a downtown office, for she had made it a busines lo trace out the detective in case she ever wanted to betray Captain Caslellar to him. Alone she sought out the building in which the detectiYe had worked out more than one dark puzzle of crime and paused al the door. After some hesitation she opened it and walked into the room. No o ne w:is in the office, and Velma was a toni heel al findin g tlw d11c1r tlnl o cked. Perhaps the

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The Detective's Catch. detective hall seepped out but for a moment, and she resolved to wcfit for him. She sat down where she could see the door at all times and began to wait. Ten minutes elapsed. Then footsteps came up the steps, and she arose. The door was thrown open, and a man, not Nick Carter, staggered into the room. He stopped at the table. "Velma!" he cried. The woman nee.rly sprang from her chair. "Don't be frightened," said the man. "I didn't 111tend to frighten you." "I don't know you." "I'm Antoine." "My God! I thought--" "That I was burned to death when the Marseilles prison took fire? A great many people think I was; but they took me to the hospital, an
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The Detective's Catch. Velma looked at him increclulou ly. "vVait, here comes the detective," as sounds of ap proaching feet came to the room. "I can't remain," said the woman, rising. "But you must. I came back here to see him. I want to tell him what happened to-night-tell it in your teeth. You came here to see him, too, didn't you?" "But not to hear you talk." "Oh, that's all right, Velma; it will be a great thing to tep Nick Carter what I know about both of you." "You're not going to confess, are you?'" "\Vhy not?" Velma was confronting him with the mien of a tigress, and he had prevented her from going out by cl her wrist. "Here he is," as Nick entered the room. "Now go ba c k to the chair, woman." \el ma went back sulking. The detective looked at her with amazement. "This is Velma," said Antoine, with a grin. "This is 'the countess' I have told you about-the woman h o has the face of an angel and the claws of a lio ness "It is false," cried Velma. "Don't mind that," smiled Antoine. "Sit still, ple a se," and he turned again to the detective. "\Vel1, I found him, Mr. Carter. I met him in the \Vall Street office. met him all alone, and we talked O\er old times." "Well?"

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The Detceti'le' s Cat ch. "I struck him for fifty thousand, and he caught me napping." "You promise
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The Detective's Catch Antoine pulled forth something wrapped m paper which he threw upon the table. The detective picked it up and began to open the package. A dagger fell out. Velma uttered a cry at sight of it. "Silence, woman!" said Antoine. "You'll arouse the neighbors." "You miserable prison bird, you are bound to con demn Captain Castellar, and all because he wouldn't be blackmailed." "Ho w s that?" grinned Antoine. "You were whipped repeatedly in prison for lying." "And what did they whip you for, my jailbird? What for?" Velma fell back in her chair and breathed hard while s he glared at Antoine. You don't care to speak," he went on. "You don "t lik e to say why they whipped you, do you? One night, Mr. Carter. in the female prison of Marseilles, a w oman--'' "Hold !"' cried Velma, leaping up like a tigress. "I forbid you t o say another word!" Antoine seemed to shrink from the maddened crea ture. "You see, s he re s ents all mention of it,., he grinned. "It i sn't s trange that she should. But as I was saying, o ne night in the female pris o n of -:\Iarseilles a w o man t o ok her babe--" "Silence! Fiend, for Heaven's sake hush!" N ick put out his hand. You needn t go on," he said to Antoine.

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286 The Detective's Catch. "Just as you say, Mr. Carter," with a glance at Velma, who was as white as a shroud. "I'll go now," said the woman; but the figure of the detective fell between her and the door. "You came here to see me," he said. "You need not go away till I let you out." She drew back with a hiss. Meantime Nick had un locked a drawer in the table, and taken out a dagger sheath which he had discovered in Kasper Kline's office. The blade fitted exactly. "If you believe that common thief you will be de ceived," suddenly exclaimed Velma, co, rering Antoine with quivering finger. "He would have you believe that that dagger was found in Captain Castellar's safe. That dagger belongs to me." "To you, madam?" "To me," repeated Velma. "I lost the sheath some time ago." Nick made no reply. "Madam, how long hav e you been acquainted with C a ptain Castellar? where did you meet him first? Velma seemed to retire within herself, and for a m o ment her lips remained glued together. "Ask me how long I ha Ye known Antoine there!" she "Ask me for that villain's record. I ha1 e it at my tongue's encl." "She ought to," grimly aid A ntoine, "for they pulled all of us at the same tim e on the Rue Pomfret." "Liar!" "That's old-very o ld You s a i d that when I turned against you at the assiz es

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The Detective's Catch "I know that that man is marked with the prison brand-that he has been a jailbird from boyhood I know that he first arrested for stealing and next for housebreaking." "She's very clever. I'll have quite a history by ihe time she gets to the denouement." Antoine's coolness maddened Velma. She caught up a heavy inkstand from the table, and, before the hapless Antoine could dodge, she threw it full at his face, striking him squarely, and the ne x t instant he went clown as if struck with an ox hammer. "I guess he won't interrupt me now," said Velma, coolly, as she resmped. For ten minutes she talked about Antoine's pa s t l ife in several European prisons, and when s he fini s hed she had given him a very black record. Nick had lis tened to her with attention. She had not been inter rupted once. Meantime, Antoine, on the floor, had remained as quiet as a mouse. "I will go now said Velma, rising at last. "Not yet, madam," and the detective pushed her gently back. "Vvhat means this detention? she cried, white to the gills. "It means that you need not see Captain Castellar again till I have secured him." Velma sank back into the chair with a groan.

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CHAPTER XL!. TIIE TRAIL OF HOLLA NARKS. \Vhere am I? Into >vhat kind of place have I fallen?" These words fell from Rolla Narks' lips as he pulled him s elf together after his plunge through the wall in the underground room of the old house in sack. He was out of the cell into which he had been thrust by Mother Murder, but he was yet to discover into what sort of place he had tumbled. The place was dark and musty. He had made a noise in break ing through the wall, and he wanted to get out before any one came ahd remanded him back to prison. Rolla waited a while and the n proceeded to itwestigate the new dungeon. After a while he found a door, which \ ":J.S l o cked, and there he stopp e d Not a sound came to his ears. He did not know what time it was, and was at a loss to say just where he was now confined. It seemed to him that he was to peri s h there, and that the new dungeon was as ter rible as the home of the skeleton. For some time he waited, and not hearing any one, he r e solved to make m other break for freedom. He felt of the door and drew back, at the same time summoning all his strength He thre>v him self against the door with all his might and felt it yield. In another moment he stood in a narrow corri
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The Trail of Rolla Narks. 289 Rolla saw a light ahead, and when he reached an other door, which was easily forced he emerged into the starlight, and for half a minute stood there with his heart beating for joy. The old house with its mysteries was before him. He could look back and see it rising like a thing of
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290 The Trail of Rolla Narks. Then he thought of Mrs. Jonas, the "Rosa" of his affections. Had she missed him, and was she fearful that danger, if not death, had befallen him? When Rolla unlocked the little room which he inhabited he struck a light and sat down. The clock struck one as he did so. Presently some one came up the stairs with a cautious tread, and the man, as he listened, started up and stood in the middle of the room. The foot steps stopped at his door. Rolla uttered a cry the moment his eyes fell upon the man's face. It was Captain Mercedes. "I've been here before, but you weren't in," said Castellar as he came in. "I wanted to see you." "And I wanted to see you," said Rolla. Captain Castellar sat down. "You haven't gone to Hackensack yet?" eagerly inquired the young man. "Not yet." "They've sent for you." "How do you know?" "I saw the letter written." "You?" "Yes, I saw them write it, and a death trap they haYe for you there. Mother Murder and Dagon have turned against you, and they intend to get the money in their hands." Captain Castellar looked astonished. "You are trifling with me now," he said, sternly. "Not at all. I was a prisoner in the dungeon be-111eath the house, and the tigress there said that the

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The Trail of Rolla Narlu. 29r days of the Scarlet Stranglers were near an end, and she intends to take vengeance." "\Vhat for?" "I can't tell you. She says she has hunted the Stranglers for years, -ancl that now she is near the end of the game. That woman thre w me into a dungeon where there was a human skeleton fastened to the wall, upon which, in turn, was the legend: 'This man was a Strangler!' "Did all this take place in the old house in sack?" "Yes." "Detail it for me. I have time," and Captain Cas 1 tellar looked at his watch. Rolla did so, listened to by the Spaniard with the closest attention. Not a word that he mtered escaped the broker, and when he had finisnecl Captain Castellar looked at him a moment speechless. "I remember that a friend of mine mysteriously yanished five years ago," said he. "Before we met?" "Yes; he went over to Hackensack and that was the last I ever saw of him." "Did he belong--" asked Rolla. "He did. And now the skeleton in the dungeon tells the truth; it reveals the mystery of that man's disappearance." Rolla made no reply. "If Mother Murder is a vengeance hunter, she has played the deepest game ever plaved by woman. I never c:m:nPcted her.

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2)2 T!ic Trail of Rolla N did you meet her?" "In the South. I recollect that the meeting was apparently accidental. We came together as if by ac cident, and from that time she has been the keeper of the old house in Hackensack. So, she is an avenger." "And Dagon is with her." This seemed to shock the captain. "V cry well," said he, brightening. "We will play a hand that shall be as swift and as terrible as the one they have turned on us. 'vVe will show this pair that there is a hand which can smile with the yengeance of a fiend. My play shall be desperate." Captain Castellar settled back in his chair and a smile crept over his face. Rolla watched him a mo ment, and then turned his head away. The cold, steely glitter in the Spaniard's eyes told that he was planning something terrible. "\Vhat are the detectives doing now?" ventured the clerk. "Ah! I don't fear them any longer," was the re ply. "They can't find a clew, and all of them are at sea. You don't fear thctm, Rolla?" "Not at all, sir," answered the young man, with a show of fearlessness which he did not feel. "I don't 'fear them at all, but I thought I would like to know what they are at." "They have given up the hunt so far as I can see ;i nd when we have settled with the traitors in Hacken"e will turn to things far more profitable." Captain Castdhr lwghed at the close of hi se11-,, r

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The Trail of Rolla 293 tence. He quietly lit a cigar and looked at Rolla, who could not but admire his coolness, and while he smoked he looked the cool, uncompromising villain he was. It \Ya near morning when the handsome figure of the Spanish captain left Rolla Narks' room. He went clown upon the street with the tread of a conqueror vanished. As for Rolla, he threw himself dressed upon the bed and fell into a deep sluni,ber. The adventures through which he had just passed had wearied him, and he wanted rest. \Vhen he awoke daylight was streaming into the room, and he sprang up somewhat refreshed. His little room in Stanton Street was infinitely better than the dungeon. Rolla resohed not to show himself much on the street that day, but he could not help paying a visit to Mrs. Jonas. At ten, well dres eel, he called a cab and was driven to the widow's house. He was ushered into the parlor by a maid, and was told to wait a few moments. Mrs. Jonas, though hav ing her picture in the rogues' gallery, had deceived Rolla Narks, and he had no idea that she was a woman with a thief's record and a shoplifter of the deepest dye. Rolla grew a little impatient as the moments went by without bringing Rosa into the parlor, and he watched the door with a great deal of interest. Why didn't she come? "This is insufferable," said he at last. "I didn't come here to be treated in this manner. I want to see her, and by heavens! if she doesn't come pretty soon, I'll leaye and it ll be a long time till she hears from me again."

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294 The Trail of Rolla Narks. He was on his feet, and was about to step to the door, when it opened. A man came in Rolla Narks fell back with a cry, and stared at the man with eyes that seemed to bulge from his head. "Sit down, Mr. Narks. This is a meeting which may be mutually pleasant to both of us. You we r e looking for Mrs. Jonas, or 'Branded Bess,' as \\"C sometimes call her?" "Branded Bess !" echoed the astonished man. "Yo u seem to ha"e gotten into the wrong house." "Oh, not at all. I never get into the wrong house."' the man smiled. "'Vho the devil are you?" cried Rolla. "I am called Nick Carter by those who know me .. "Nick Carter, the detective!" and Rolla nea r l y dropped to the floor. A smile passed over the face of the celebrated d e tective.

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CHAPTER XLII. ON THE RACK. To be caught thus in the hou s e of the woman who h a d infatuated him was too much for the clerk. For a minute he looked at the detective and wond e red what \You! I come next. r ick said: "Mrs. Jonas is not at home jus t n ow. She will not c om e in to disturb us. We can talk without interrup ti o n, for even the servant has gone out." R o lla for a moment was inclined t o be ob s treperous. "\\That if I should refuse to r e ply to the questions y o u may want to ask me ?" "It' s all one, Mr. Narks. Y o u can do just as you plea se. It all rests with you." Rolla looked at the window, as if he thought of t a king a leap in that direction. But hi countenance f e ll a s he saw that the shutter was closed, and 1.hat Nick sat between him and the door. The detective w a s the lion in the way. "How did you leave the people at Hackensack?" a s ked Carter. R o lla started. What did the detective know about his adventures in New Jersey? "I left them all pretty well answered the youngi man with a peculiar grin. "Mother Murder there yet?" "I st1)11ose so."

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On t/1e "I-don't remember." "Come, let me refresh your memory." Silence. 297 "You went to the shop about three o'clock m the afternoon, when Kasper Kline was engaged 111 his office.'' "I attended to the books in the afternoon.'' "Oh, yes, but your duties di the clerk's face.

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On the Rack. ''I say you looked into the office after Oriel Vane went out," continued Nick. "You found the old man just as he was when the young man entered the place -dead!" "How do you know ?" "Because the surgeons agree as to how long he had been dead when discovered by them. Now, sir, you know that Oriel Vane did not kill Kasper Kline." Rolla moved uneasily in the chair, and his eyes be came glassy in expression. "You greased the window for the assassin You paved the way for the hand that struck the blow! Oh, no; you never killed the old man, but you know who did." The clerk arose and started across the r oom. He was brought to a sudden halt by the detective, \Yho sprang up and caught his arm. "Not yet, Mr. Narks," said Nick. "You still ha, e a bit of business with me. Do you know this?" Carter pulled the dagger with its black sheath from his pocket, and drew forth the blade. Rolla's look be came a stare as he looked at the shining steel, and a. whiteness crossed his face. "It's not mine," he said, with an effort. "I know it is not yours. But you have seen it?" "Never!" "Then, how about this?" The red cord with the two balls came forth, and Nick held it up in the light. "You've seen this, Mr. Narks?" said he. A quick start and a tremor answered thP cletective.

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Rolla walked back to the chair and sank into it. He was overcome. Why did you help this man?" asked Carter. "I had to." "You mean that the oath of the order made you do his bidding?'' "Yes, yes." "You greased the window for him?" "I could do nothing else." "You worked deliberately in the front office while murder l\1as being d o ne in the back one?" "I had to." "You knew all the time that Kasper Kline was dead, but you never came forward to save Oriel's neck." "The oath-the accursed oath!" cried Rolla, with a s hiver. Nick did n o t move but his eyes fell upon the young man with an eYil gleam that terrified him still further. "Ho w l ong have you known thi s man?" asked the d et ecti ve. F o r five years." "Yo u ent e red the order willingly did you?'' "I don't know; but I entered it." "Yo u knew that the bonds were forged?" "I discovered it." "But afterward, when you got to going over to N C\Y Jersey, you found out all about it?" I did. I di s covered how they were made, anrl watched Dagon as he worked." "And Kasper Kline was induced to buy '; of thousands of dollars' worth of these bogus

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300 On t!1e Roell. and, when exposure wa threatened, it was agreed that h e should die?" Rolla sat silent and sphinxlike in the chair, and for half a minute the detective did not continue. "I gness that is all for the present," he said "My God! am I to be put upon the rack any more?" "Perhaps; but I won't conduct the torture next time." "Who will, then?" "The State's attorney!" Rolla arks sprang from the chair with a startling cry. It seemed to be torn from his heart, and he stood before Nick with his big eyes ready, as it seemed, to pop like kernels from hi s head. "I will never tell anything bnt to yon and from this moment my lips are sea led as to the doing of that aw ful clay in Wall Street," he aid at last. "Then, you don't care to win the lovely Mrs. J on as, alias Branded Bess?" The guilty clerk groaned. "Where is she?" "Never mind. She is an old offender and she will
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On the Rael?. 301 quick as a sh ot. As Nick sprang to interc ept him, he suddenly caught up a chair and hel
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CHAPTER XLIII. A FIEND'S WORK. Captain Castellar did not know that Velma was in the toils. The woman who had walked into Nick Carter's hands was occupying a cell in a station house, and she had refused to talk about the cause of her arrest. The captain himself was unaware of all this, and, seat ed in his sumptuous room, he was enjoying a cigar with the rich lights of the place falling around him. He recalled the last interview with Rolla Narks and the news that worthy had brought from New Jersey. \\'hen he thought of the plot which had been hatched oul by Mother Murder and Dagon, his blood became hot and he felt like going thither at once and facing the pair. \Vhy shouldn't he? He believed in carrying out things as soon as formed, and the more he thought of it the more he wanted to quit the city on the mis sion of vengeance. He looked at his watch and smiled. H e had just thirty minutes in which to catch a train, and his eyes flashed as he thought: "I will go! I will surprise the nest of treason, I \\ ill leave its birds dead!" Captain Castellar crossed the river and was soon speeding toward Hackensack. He settled back in the seat with the gleaming orbs of a demon, and thought of whathe would do when he had the conspirators in his power. It was nearly daylight when he found himself facing the house behind the trees.

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A Fiend's rv ork. the woman's lips-a green vial, from the mouth of which exuded a few drops of a strange-looking liquor. The woman started a little as the first drop touched lier, and that was all. Then Captain Castellar took a ring from her finger and opened it in the light. He smiled as he shook a grayish powder from the setting of the ring, and then he went again to where Dagon was. Now he grasped the sleeping man and shook him awake. Dagon sat bolt upright in bed and stared at Captain Castel1ar. "You weren't looking for me, eh?" aid the Spani::lrd. "Not just at this hour." "I got your letter." "How?" "The one Mother Murder dictated." Dagon stammered and turned pale. "Come, you ha\'en't forgotten it, I see," laughed the heartless man. "You remember the circumstance Yery well. You always had a good memory, Dagon." Dagon gasped. "Get up!" sternly said Captain Castellar. The trembling man obeyed. "You needn't dress," he went on, seizing Dagon' wrist. "I will give yO'U time for that by aud by." He led him from the room into the chamber wl ere 1Tother Murder was. "\Vho is that woman?" he asked, pointing toward the bed. ''You ought to know."

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A Fiend's TV ark. ''But she says s he is th e aYenger, and that she has :found the Scarlet Stranglers. \Vho is she, Dagon?" The man shook his he ad All at once Captain Cas tellar pushed his victim u p to the bedpost and began to lash him with a cord. "\Vhat are you going to do?" cried Dagon. "Reward yo u." "What ha \e you done to the woman?" "She will slee p forever." "Mercy! mercy!" "Not now my man!" "But, Captain Castellar, it was all her fault. She drew me from the path of duty." "You had no business t o listen to her tongue. Do you think you will have a g oo d time on the wealth of Captain Mercedes ?" There wa s no answer from the white-faced wretch. When Captai n Castellar had finished lashing Dagon to the bed he opened a cupboa rd in the wall, and bropght out a can. The contents of it he scattered over the floor and on the bed. Dagon looked on thun derstruck. He knew what it meant. "\Vhere are th e bonds-the finished ones?" asked the Spaniard. "In the wall." "All of them?" For three minutes Captain Castellar vanished, and when he came he carried a lot of papers iri his hands. These he threw on the couch with 1\fother Murder. "T will leave both of you together?" sa.id he. "The hou s e shall be yours as long as it lasts I"

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306 A Fiend's Work. "I see what you are going to do," wailed th\: .. man. "You intend to burn it." "But the bonds which you have plott e d fr, be yours, don't you see?" he grinned. "Da;,;; : l boy, you had a good master while you l l. : :.1 Castellar; but the moment you turned t r:ir:;'" ".u sealed your doom." Dagon knew there was no mercy in t he i:. ..i'' 1;,) fac e d him. He cou!d look at the cool for his own death, and shudder when he nf th e m Presently Captain Mercedes stepped bacl< aid t oo k a match from his pocket. "Good-by, Dagon," he said. "The time has come for us to part. This is the doom of traitors!" There was no reply. The eyes of Dagon followed him as he closed the door, and then they turned to the unconscious woman on the bed. Captain Castellar lit the match and threw it blaz ing over the transom; then he stopped long enough to see the interior of the chamber on fire, after which he ent out again. He now ran nimbly from the old h o use .of crime and mystery. Once outside he looked back and saw a light in one of the rooms. He now adjusted a heavy beard to his face and altered his appearance. "I will still be Captain Castellar in spite of treason and detectives," said he, with a flash of the dark eyes. "I will continue to be the money king of Wall Street." By this time the whole house seemed to be in flames, and he knew that it was so situated that the fire would not be discovered for some time. For a little while

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A Fiend's Work. 307 he stood and watched the course of the fire fiend. It did his heart good. "Come now, captain. Back to Gotham," he said to himself, and he bolted away. The fire fiend did its work. It was a roaring, crack ling demon long before the sleepy inhabitants of Hackensack saw its work. Then there was a cry of alarm, a rush down the street, and a grouping of hor rified people in front of the doomed shell. Day came. A man who had stood among the peo ple walked slowly over to the depot and waited calmly for the New Yark train. He was a fine-looking man with a black beard. Not long afterward this same man aligJtted at the ferry and looked around. He accosted a taxicab and stepped in aftt;r giving his order in a low tone. Near his house he alighted from the machine and ran up the street. Captain Castellar had come home from his expedi tion in New Jersey. As he entered the room he left a few hours before he threw his hat to the floor, re moved the false beard, and opened a sideboard. "Here's to you, captain," he laughed, as he gulped down the red liquor that sent a of warmth to his cheeks. "Now you can go on and play out the golden hands you hold!" Could he? At that moment a man crossed the street below-a man who looked searchingly at that very house.

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The Chain Con iplete. Clover Ketch turned white. "That's none of your business if I was," he said. The hand of Nick Carter closed instantly on his arm. "You will def er your visit to Captain Castellar for a while," said he, "and meantime you will take a walk wit h me." .Five minutes later the detective came back. This time he mounted the broker's stairs and found the door slightly ajar. Beyond it he caught sight of the figure of Captain Castellar, with hi s back turned to th e entrance, and the detective watched it a moment. He was about to close the game. All at once the form at the desk seemed to straighten, and a hand opened a drawer. Captain Castellar had dropped a newspaper and the detective saw that his face was white. He t o ok from the drawera bottle, small, and of green glass "Arrested! Caught by that prince of detectives, and lodged in jail. This shows that the right time has come. Captain Mercedes, the jig is up. I don't suppose the secret was to get out, but some sharp re porter has done me a service. I should thank him. But why fool with the bottle when the dagger is so near?" The Spaniard crossed the room to the safe and opened it. In another moment he was seen to recoil, for something had startled him terribly. "Gone! It was here the other day. I had it wrapped up and it occupied that corner," he said, staring at the safe. "\JVho coukl have done it?"

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The Chain Complete. Nick Carter stepped forward. "Is this it, Captain Castellar ?" he asked. The man turned as if a serpent had hissed in his path. In Nick's hand lay a sheathed dagger, and the Spaniard's gaze was riveted upon it. "This seems to have been yours, though the sheath was found in one place and the blade in another," co n tinued Carter. "I am willing to restore your propert y if you need it." "You lie!" cried Captain Castellar, looking at the bottle which he had left on the desk. "You mean to destroy me!" "As you destroyed Kasper Kline in his office, after Rolla, the traitor clerk, had greased the window sash, and turned the catches for you." "My God!" For once in his life at least all coolness seemed to leave the man from Europe. He sank into the nearest chair with an effort, but still his eyes regarded the bottle on the desk. "It was a neat game, captain." "What was?" "The murder. Y 01J entered like a cat, and when you had accomplished it you stole out as noiselessly as before. And all the time your accomplice, Rolla Narks, sat writing h1 the front office, ready to swear the crime on Oriel Vane." "It was a neat scheme, and but for you it would have succeeded." "As the last one succeeded, eh?" "Which one?"

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JII "The tragedy of the old house in Hackensack." That was the last straw Captain Castellar sp.rang up and glared at the detective. "Has Rolla Narks confessed?" he cried. "He has told all. And Velma, she, too, is begin ning to weaken." "Then tal
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312 The Chain Co111pletc. Time came when Nick's catch were placed on trial. Claude Hanks made an effort to recover his prestige, but he was balked at every step, and at last Rolla Narks' confession finished the business for him. That delectable rascal and murderer's tool, finding that he was in the toils woven around him by the greatest of ferrets, came forward with a full confes sion which made clear the mystery connected with Kasper Kline's death, and the whole city soon knew that it was the sure hand of Captain Castellar that had sent the old man to his Maker before his time. As great was the discovery that thousands of dol lars' worth of Erie and Northern bonds were fraudu lent and not worth the paper they were written on. It almo s t caused a panic in \i\T all Street, and when it was learned that Captain Castellar was at the head of the forgery, indignation against him increased. He had moved in Wall Street as a money king, and the nabobs there, deceived by his fine address, had trusted him and taken all the bonds he offered, prin cipally through the firm of Ketch & Fleecem. If the brokers could have got hold of Castellar they would have lynched him from a Wall Street lamp-p ost. But the law wanted all concerned in Kasper Kline's murder. Captain Castellar was tried, condemned, and exe cuted. CJoyer Ketch receiYed a long term of impris onment, but Rolla Narks, for turning against the guilty, escaped with his life and ended it afterward in his cell, hanging himself with his meager bedclothes. Y elm!_i was se_t nQt guilty of any-

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The Chain Complete. thing mo re than an assault on Dot Darrell's landlady, d10 refused to prosecute. Antoine, who had assisted Nick in the last stages of his work, quietly left the city and was not molested It never transpired who Mother Murder really was, for Capta in Castellar had prevented such discovery by hi awful tragedy in the old house in New Jersey. Dot became the wife of Oriel Vane, and the young couple received the gratulations of thousands when the story of their vicissitudes became known. But for the murder of old Kline, the young man would have exposed the bond forgers; and but for the mistakes he made when he went to the broker's office he might have escaped the great trouble and suspicion that befell him. Claude Hanks was so disgusted with the outcome of his man hunt that he h ied him elf to a
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