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Title: A Successful Shadow - A Detective's Successful Quest
Author: Halsey, Harlan Page, 1839?-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Successful Shadow - A Detective's Successful Quest" ***

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A SUCCESSFUL SHADOW;
OR,
A Detective's Successful Quest.

BY OLD SLEUTH,
_Author of All the Famous Old Sleuth Stories_.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


PROLOGUE.


Chapter I

THE SAME OLD INCIDENT OF A MISSING BEAUTY--A WIDOW'S
NARRATIVE--AN AROUSED INTEREST--THE POSSIBILITIES IN
A NAME--STARTLING SUGGESTIONS--WAS IT A CLUE.


Chapter II

A MOST SINGULAR AND WONDERFUL COINCIDENCE--THE
DETECTIVE STRIKES A NEW TRAIL--A DENOUEMENT MOST
WONDERFUL--POSSIBILITIES AND PROBABILITIES BEYOND
PERADVENTURE.


Chapter III

ONE MYSTERY SOLVED--A SUCCESSFUL "SHADOW" INDEED--ON A
NEW "LAY"--IN A GAMBLING ROOM--A NEW ACQUAINTANCE--THE
DETECTIVE PERPLEXED--FALSE OR TRUE?--A RIDDLE TO BE
SOLVED.


Chapter IV

PLAYING A DEEP GAME--AN AMENDED NARRATIVE--IN THE
OPERA HOUSE--A RECOGNITION--GETTING DOWN TO FACTS BY
ACCIDENT--THE STORY OF AN EXPECTANT HEIR--GAINING A
CLEARER LIGHT.


Chapter V

A STARTLING BETRAYAL--THE CUTENESS OF THE
DETECTIVE---SUGGESTIONS THROUGH A WORD--THE BODY IN
THE BRUSH-WOOD--JACK LAYS A SCHEME--SADDEST OF ALL
CONCLUSIONS.


Chapter VI

JACK'S DEEP INTEREST IN THE AFFAIR--A NEW
GAME--BETTER PLAY--SHOTS THAT TOLD--A SCHEME
UNMASKED--A HURRIED MESSAGE--THE DETECTIVE PLAYS
SPANISH.


Chapter VII

A MEETING WITH THE BARON--STARTLING DISCLOSURES--AGAIN
THE SPANISH MILLIONAIRE--SHADOWING DOWN FOR A CHAIN OF
STEEL--THE DRAFT--A TRIUMPHANT TRICK--A DENOUEMENT TO
COME.


Chapter VIII

JACK'S GREAT DETECTIVE WORK--"WALK INTO MY MESHES,"
SAID THE DETECTIVE--A ROGUE WALKS IN--THE FORGED
ACCEPTANCE--CLOSING DOWN FOR A CONFESSION.


Chapter IX

JACK AT HIS BEST--THE HEARTLESS MILLIONAIRE--A TRICK
THAT BROUGHT RESULTS--A CONFERENCE--TERRIBLE
INTIMATIONS--THE MYSTERY CLEARED UP--SAFE BUT GREAT
WORK DEMANDED.


Chapter X

CONCLUSION.



PROLOGUE.


Those of our readers who read our narrative "Two Wonderful Detectives,"
will more especially enjoy the further adventures of Jack Alvarez. To
those who did not read that narrative we will state that this remarkable
detective had just solved a great mystery--one of the most remarkable
detective feats ever accomplished. He had found that there had been a
true heir to a great fortune which had been deposited in a most
mysterious manner with a banker, but, alas! when his "shadow" appeared
successful in one direction, he encountered a little tombstone in an
out-of-the-way graveyard, which appeared to settle beyond all dispute
that the heiress had died when a child, and the great fortune which she
would have inherited was diverted in another direction. Indeed through a
singular combination of circumstances, the detective himself became heir
to a portion of the great estate. He did not feel disposed, however, to
accept the benefice, and made up his mind that there were actual heirs
living who were through kinship entitled to the fortune. He had started
out on a former "shadow" without a clue, and in his resolve to find the
collateral heirs he also started out minus a single clue, but he was a
man, as our readers know, to discover clues, and in a most remarkable
manner he succeeded through a series of thrilling adventures in finding
a legitimate heir to an immense estate.



CHAPTER I.

THE SAME OLD INCIDENT OF A MISSING BEAUTY--A WIDOW'S
NARRATIVE--AN AROUSED INTEREST--THE POSSIBILITIES IN
A NAME--STARTLING SUGGESTIONS--WAS IT A CLUE.


"Mr. Alvarez, I am very poor; I cannot offer you a large reward, but I
have saved a few hundred dollars, and those I will give you if you are
successful in finding my lost child."

Jack Alvarez, the detective, was seated in his office when a veiled
woman entered and addressed him in the language with which we open our
narrative.

The detective was a kind-hearted man, well-to-do financially, and as it
occurred not immediately engaged on any special job. He looked the
visitor over a moment and then said:

"Madam, before I can entertain your proposition at all, I must see your
face."

"Is that necessary, sir?"

"It is."

"I am sorry."

"Why?"

"Simply because I fear that you will be so shocked you will not aid me."

"Why will I be shocked, madam? Are you a criminal?"

"I am an honest woman, sir, but oh, how bitter has been my life--yes,
sir, it has been one of humiliation and suffering, and now there has
come to me this terrible sorrow. It may prove even a greater sorrow than
I at present dare anticipate, but I trust not."

"You need not fear to show me your face."

"May I first tell you my story, sir?"

"Yes."

"I was left an orphan at a very early age. I was reared in an
institution until I was able to go out to work. I never knew my parents,
I never knew my real name. I was deserted in my infancy and I grew up to
be quite a fair-looking girl. I can say this now, sir, without any
feeling of exultation, for what beauty I may once have possessed
vanished in one night, and I am now hideous to look at. When I left the
asylum in which I had been placed I went to live with a very kind
family, and at the age of twenty I married a poor but very worthy man.
My little daughter was five years old when one night our little family
was aroused by the barking of our dog. We lived up in the country in
New York State. My husband was an invalid and slept in a room adjoining
the one I occupied with my child. As I told you, I was aroused by the
barking of our dog; I knew it meant danger, and I leaped from my bed and
instantly discovered that our little home was on fire. I rushed down the
one flight of stairs with my child in my arms, and then returned to aid
my husband to escape, but, alas! I was overcome by smoke and flame and
fell unconscious, and would have been consumed had not a neighbor rushed
in and dragged me forth. I was saved, but when the fire was subdued and
they entered the room of my husband, they found him dead. He had been
suffocated, and I, alas! was horribly disfigured for life, being
terribly burned in the face. This, sir, is a part of my story. I am
terribly scarred and, now if you still desire to see my face I will
remove my veil before continuing my story."

"Madam, you need not be ashamed to remove your veil. Your scars were
honorably won; you should be proud--yes, I will look upon your face."

The woman removed her veil, and indeed she did have two ghastly looking
scars, but she had exaggerated her disfigurement, for despite the scars
hers was not an uncomely face to look upon. Her eyes were beautiful, and
the detective was led to say with chivalrous truth and gallantry:

"Madam, you may once have been so beautiful, over-sensitiveness causes
you to exaggerate your misfortune, but enough, tell me your story. Tell
me about the loss of your child."

The woman's voice was very musical; she spoke in low tones and her
pronunciation and general demeanor betrayed the fact that gentle blood
ran in her veins.

"As I told you, sir, my husband was suffocated, and I was left a widow
with one little child, a daughter. I will not dwell upon my sorrow, but
kindly permit me to say that the horror of that catastrophe has never
passed from my mind, and I have been a sad woman; and now, alas! it
appears as though a greater sorrow were about to overwhelm me."

"Not if I can aid you, madam."

"It is refreshing and gladdening to hear you say so. I had been told
that you were a wonderful and very kind man, and a hero whom any one
could trust. I need the services of a brave, discerning man."

"And if I can serve you, madam, I will; continue your narrative."

"After the death of my husband I removed with my infant daughter to New
York City, as it was necessary that I should earn a living for my child.
I was ambitious to give my daughter a good education--yes, give her
opportunities that were never vouchsafed her mother. I was a very
skillful needlewoman, and taking cheap apartments I applied for work at
some of the large stores, and my skill soon secured me employment and I
continued to live economically in order to save money to educate my
child; and, sir, I succeeded. I worked steadily and was always
successful in securing work, for as I have said, I was a very expert
needlewoman, and so the years sped by until my child became sixteen,
and, sir, I can say that she was indeed splendidly equipped as far as
education is concerned. I intended that she should become a governess
and thus be surrounded by environments in line with her education and
refined tastes. She was always a dutiful and loving daughter, cheerful
where I was sad; hopeful where I was despondent. One year ago my
daughter became appointed as governess in a well-known family and they
treated her in the kindest manner, and became very much attached to
her--indeed they treated her more as an equal than as an employee. As I
have said, my daughter is not only very beautiful, but splendidly
educated, and during her residence with the family I have named she met
among their guests a young German, who claims to be a baron. This young
baron fell in love with her, and from what information I can obtain his
love, or pretended love, was not reciprocated by my child; and now comes
the mystery. One day my daughter went out to do a little shopping; she
has not been seen by any of her friends since, and I am almost
distracted with apprehension. She is very beautiful, as I've said, and I
felt that she was perfectly safe while living with the family where she
was employed. I was told by a person with whom I am acquainted that I
should put the affair in the hands of a detective at once, and I was
referred to you."

"And who referred you to me, madam?"

The visitor mentioned the name of a person whom our hero knew well, and
after a moment's meditation the detective demanded:

"How long has your daughter been missing?"

"It's now nearly a week since she went forth and failed to return."

"And what is the name of this baron?"

"He is known as August Wagner. He claims that is but an assumed name,
and that he is really a baron and heir to great estates in Germany."

"Did your daughter ever speak to you about this young man?"

"Yes."

"And did she show any indication to look favorably upon his professions
of attachment?"

"On the contrary, she showed the utmost aversion to him, and it is
possible that because of her aversion she has run away and hidden
herself so as to escape his attentions, or it is possible he has
persuaded her to elope with him. Her friends favor the latter idea."

"By her friends you mean the family with whom she resided?"

"Yes."

"They are favorable to the baron?"

"They appear to be, and strangely, since my daughter's disappearance
they have turned against her."

"Against your daughter?"

"Yes."

"Where is the baron?"

"He is still a visitor at the Richards' home."

"Richards is the name of the family with whom you resided?"

"Yes."

"And they still entertain the baron?"

"Yes."

"Have you seen the baron?"

"I have."

"And what does he say?"

"He says he knows nothing about my daughter."

"And he claimed to have loved her?"

"Yes."

"Does he exhibit any sorrow or anxiety?"

"He does not, and this to me appears very significant."

The detective was thoughtful. He recognized that indeed the baron's
sudden indifference was significant.

"He has not offered to aid you in finding her?"

"He has not."

"And the Richards family, do they exhibit any anxiety?"

"They do not."

"This baron is their intimate friend?"

"He appears to be."

"And they suggest that he knows where she is?"

"Not exactly; they merely declare that my daughter was not abducted,
that wherever she is her absence is voluntary."

"And the Richards family appear to have turned against your daughter?"

"Yes."

"And previously they were very fond of her?"

"Yes, apparently."

"The apparent change has come since her disappearance?"

"Yes."

"Madam, I will undertake this case. What is your daughter's name?"

"Amalie Speir."

The detective gave a start, and we will here explain the cause. Amalie
was the name of the heiress to the fortune which he at that moment held
in trust. Ordinarily there would not be much significance in two persons
having the same given name, but our hero was a man subject to wonderful
discernments--a man who builded on the slightest incident--and from that
instant he had more than an ordinary interest in the missing Amalie
Speir, and that interest within a few hours was to grow into a thrilling
intensity under later very singular coincident discoveries.



CHAPTER II.

A MOST SINGULAR AND WONDERFUL COINCIDENCE--THE
DETECTIVE STRIKES A NEW TRAIL--A DENOUEMENT MOST
WONDERFUL--POSSIBILITIES AND PROBABILITIES BEYOND
PERADVENTURE.


"And your name?" asked the detective, in an apparently indifferent tone.

"My name is Amalie Speir."

The detective repeated:

"Your name is Amalie?"

"Yes."

"Then your daughter is named after you?"

"Yes."

The detective tried to appear indifferent as he asked:

"What was your name, madam, before your marriage to Mr. Speir?"

"I do not know."

"You do not know?" repeated our hero.

"No; I was called Amalie, that is all I can remember. You see, sir, I
most always have lived with strangers, and if my last name was ever
mentioned in my hearing it was done so rarely that I never remembered
it."

"Have you ever sought to find out what your name was previous to your
marriage?"

"I have, but I have failed."

There was intense eagerness in the tones of our hero's voice despite his
effort to conceal his interest when he asked:

"Madam, do you know your age?"

"Yes, to a day."

"How old are you?"

"I am forty-six sir, a little past."

"Do you know the date of your birth?"

"Yes, sir, I was born July 20, 18--."

The detective figured in his mind, and there came a strange gleam in his
eyes as he said:

"Madam, you can count upon my services."

"May I ask, sir, why you are so interested in my age and my maiden
name?"

"You may ask certainly, but I shall not answer your question at present.
I may to-night; tell me where you reside and this evening I may call
upon you and I may have some news of your daughter."

The woman gave her address and went away, and the moment the detective
was alone he leaped up, and pacing rapidly to and fro across the room,
muttered:

"Great Jerusalem! of all the strange, weird and remarkable incidents,
this beats them all in its fateful significance. There is the little
grave marked Amalie Canfield, died aged four years. Great ginger! here
is a nameless Amalie who may have been older than the child Amalie
Canfield."

We will here state to those of our readers who have not read Jack's
former adventures as related in "Two Wonderful Detectives," that they
will understand the detective's excitement as they proceed with the
narrative.

Jack did not waste much time in words. He left his rooms, also a note
for his brother, his partner as a detective, and started for New Jersey.
Fortunately, he caught a train, and an hour later alighted at a station,
and rapidly he walked along the road for a couple of miles, when he
arrived at a little graveyard. He entered the cemetery and almost ran to
a little grave, and dropping down he fixed his eyes on the tombstone,
and there he read:

     "AMALIE CANFIELD.
     "Born, ---- ----. Died, December --, 18--."

The detective rose to his feet, his handsome face all aglow, and he
again muttered:

"Here is a mystery--a little mystery--but it can be explained. One or
the other Amalie died. It's my opinion Amalie Stevens lives, and after
all I have at last found the heir to a million. I lose the fortune, but
the true heiress will get it. Yes, I'll swear I am on to the final
solution, the most successful shadow I shall ever make. It is the
greatest catch of my life--yes, although I lose half a million, and I'd
rather lose a million than to learn that I have been misled. I must go
slow--yes, very slow--but as it stands I believe I've struck it at
last."

The detective returned to New York, where he arrived early in the
afternoon. He had a close friend, a very wealthy banker, for whom he had
done a great service. He proceeded direct to the home of the banker, an
old gentleman, but a man of great vigor considering his age, both
mentally and physically.

"Hello, Mr. Wonderful," was the banker's salutation as our hero entered
his presence. "Where did you come from? I have not seen you for several
months."

"No, but I am here now."

"And your presence means that you have made another of your wonderful
discoveries."

"I think I have."

"What is it."

"I believe I have found an heir to the Stevens' fortune."

"I thought you would some day, if there was a surviving heir."

"I believe there is, and I can put my hand on her at any moment."

"Who is the party?"

"Amalie Stevens."

The banker started, and exclaimed:

"I thought you had positive evidence of the child's death?"

"I thought I did, but, alas! it appears now that I was mistaken. I
cannot tell yet, but I will know to-night, I will as sure as my name is
Jack Alvarez."

Again we say to our readers the significance of the above conversation
will be duly explained as our narrative proceeds.

Our hero returned to his lodgings. He had gained very important facts
and he intended to justify them, and early in the evening he proceeded
to a plain little house where the lady, Mrs. Amalie Speir, resided. He
found Mrs. Speir awaiting his presence. He was led into a neatly
furnished room, and taking a seat spoke about some everyday matter, but
his keen, restless eyes were wandering about that room. He was a man of
marvelous quick perceptions, and he discerned that no matter what had
been the early surroundings of the woman who lived in those rooms, her
natural tastes were those of a lady.

"You were to bring me news of my daughter."

"News for your daughter," corrected our hero, and after a moment he
added: "Madam, it is possible I have a very remarkable revelation to
make to you; it is possible that a strange fate brought us together."

"I care only for my daughter, sir. If you have anything to communicate
that concerns my daughter proceed, otherwise I am too distracted to
discuss any other matter."

"I desire to ask you a number of questions concerning yourself, and it
is possible that these questions may concern your daughter more
intimately than you suspect. I ask you to listen to me patiently, and
answer my questions calmly and truthfully as far as your memory will
permit."

"Let me ask, have you made any discoveries concerning my daughter?"

"As yet, no, but I propose to begin my quest to solve the mystery of her
disappearance this very night. I will tell you frankly, I do not believe
you have anything terrible to dread as concerns your child."

"On what do you found your belief?"

"On the facts that you have revealed to me. Of course I cannot say
anything positive at present; by to-morrow I may give you a more decided
opinion, but I desire now to talk about a matter which under any
circumstances is very important--yes, important to you and to your
daughter also--if no real disaster has overtaken her. I believe and
trust she is alive and well. I found my belief on evidences that I
cannot make plain to you; and now answer me. Madam, is there no name
that is familiar to you, no name that awakens memories when you hear
it?"

"I cannot recall that there is."

"Have you any suspicion why you were named Amalie?"

The woman did not make an immediate reply.

Jack saw that he was making headway, and said:

"Did you ever hear the name Canfield?"

"I cannot recall that I ever did."

"Let me see, did you ever hear the name Amalie Stevens?"

The woman turned deathly pale, and after a moment in a trembling tone
asked:

"Why do you mention that name?"

"Never mind, answer me."

"Yes, I know something about the name Amalie Stevens."

"What do you know?"

"Answer me first: Have you any reason to believe that you know anything
about a person named Amalie Stevens?"

"I may."

The woman meditated a long time and said:

"Wait a moment; I have perfect confidence in you; I will show you
something."

Mrs. Speir left the room, but in a few minutes returned, bringing with
her a little garment, age stained, but otherwise perfect. She held the
garment up to the light and pointed to a letter mark. The marks were
fine--very fine--but the detective had his glass with him. He subjected
the letters to inspection and plainly made out the two letters A. S.,
and there shot a thrill through his frame, while the woman watched him
with eager eyes, and she said:

"I never heard the name Stevens, but when you mentioned the combination
Amalie Stevens, I remembered the letters on this little garment. I have
often studied over them; for, sir, since matters have gone so far, I
will say that I have always felt that there was a mystery in my life
which would never be cleared up."

"Who wore this garment?" asked Jack.

"I did."

It was the detective's turn to become thoughtful. He had made a most
extraordinary discovery--indeed, in his own mind he had found an heir to
millions in this modest and hitherto unfortunate woman. Jack meditated
for a long time, and Mrs. Speir at length asked:

"Will you tell me, sir, what this all means? I know you are not wasting
time. You know or suspect something. Is it possible that after all these
years I am to learn who my parents were?"

The woman spoke in the plural, and the detective, desiring to be
evasive, could safely say:

"I fear, madam, that is a mystery that can never be wholly solved, but I
have something to show you."

The detective always carried the photograph with him, and our readers
will understand later the story of the photograph. He showed the picture
to the woman, and she almost fainted, so intense was her agitation. Jack
observed her agitation, and there came a look of triumph in his face. He
could discern, as he believed, that after all he had made a successful
"shadow."

"Where did you get this picture?" demanded the woman, in an agitated
tone.

"You recognize it?"

"I do."

"You knew the original?"

"I did."

"She still lives?"

"She does."

"Where?"

"Here."

"What do you mean, madam?"

"I have the mate to that picture, as I live."

"You have the mate to the picture?"

"I have."

"Where?"

"Here."

The woman drew a locket from her bosom and handed it to our hero, who at
a glance recognized that the locket portrait and the daguereotype were
pictures of the same child.

"You say you know the original of these two portraits?"

"I do. Oh, strange, strange, I never noticed it so strikingly before,
but either picture might be taken as a portrait of my dear child at the
same age. How wonderful the resemblance! and here I am a scarred-face
woman, hideous to gaze upon--so hideous I always go veiled. It's
wonderful, it's wonderful."

The detective saw that the woman was really talking to and communing
with herself, but after a moment he asked:

"Madam, was that picture taken for you when you were a child?"

"It was."

"You are certain?"

"When you see my daughter you will have proof--sufficient proof. Tell
me, sir, what does it all mean--where did you get that picture?"

"Shall I tell you the history of that picture?"

"If you please."

"Madam, I will, and you must prepare to listen to a very remarkable
story. A little more than forty years ago a gentleman in New York
received a visitor. The gentleman was a young banker; his visitor
deposited with him a large sum of money, placing the money in trust. The
banker was to hold the money for twenty years and then open a letter
that was given to him. The banker invested the money but lost the
letter, and at the expiration of twenty years found himself the
custodian of a large fortune without any knowledge as to its owner. It
was at this time that he called in detectives, but they failed in
solving the mystery, and twenty years elapsed, when the case was given
to me. The banker furnished me no clue, and I started out to solve the
mystery by methods not necessary to explain. I learned that the man who
deposited the fortune was named Jake Canfield, and was killed the very
day he left the money with the banker. Further discoveries led up to
the fact that the man Jake Canfield left a supposed granddaughter, and
just as I discovered these facts the letter was found, and it was
further learned from the letter that the supposed granddaughter was
really the child of a man whose life Jake Canfield had saved. This
latter gentleman was named Harold Stevens, and he had a child, and in
view of his own approaching death he confided his child to the care of
Jacob Canfield, and--"

At this moment the woman, Mrs. Speir, uttered a cry, and would have
fallen had not the detective held and assisted her to a chair. She
revived after a little and the detective resumed his strange narrative.



CHAPTER III.

ONE MYSTERY SOLVED--A SUCCESSFUL "SHADOW" INDEED--ON A
NEW "LAY"--IN A GAMBLING ROOM--A NEW ACQUAINTANCE--THE
DETECTIVE PERPLEXED--FALSE OR TRUE?--A RIDDLE TO BE
SOLVED.


It was evident that Mrs. Speir, who was bright and quick of perception,
had discerned partially what the ultimate conclusion of the narrative
would be, and it was her excess of emotion that affected her, but as
stated she speedily recovered and the detective immediately continued
his story:

"As I said," resumed Jack, "the gentleman, Harold Stevens, confided his
child to old Mr. Canfield because he had reason to know that Jacob
Canfield was an honorable man, and he also confided to this old
fisherman a large fortune in trust, but for reasons that will never be
known he made the singular conditions that his child Amalie should be
kept in ignorance of the fortune until she was twenty-five. The old man,
fearing to keep the money, transferred the trust to the banker, a Mr.
Townsend, and left the letter of instructions, which was not found until
after forty years; and now, madam, I come into the romance. Once more I
started out to find this heir; I learned that Jacob Canfield had placed
his ward in charge of friends to care for, but we could not discover who
these friends were, and I was compelled to go it blind. I had found the
picture which I showed you and learned a name. I spent weeks in
prosecuting my search, and at length found a little grave in an
out-of-the-way cemetery, and on the tombstone was engraved: 'Amalie
Canfield, died December 20, 18--, aged four years.' This age about
accorded with the age of Amalie Stevens, and we were forced to conclude
that Amalie Stevens was known as Amalie Canfield. I gave up the search,
concluding that there was no heir unless Harold Stevens had left other
heirs than his own child. I have been looking for those heirs, and had
about given up all hope of ever finding them when you came to me."

There followed a moment's silence and then the woman asked:

"What do you conclude now?"

"I will tell you; I believe that Jacob Canfield did have a
granddaughter, and that this granddaughter was but a little younger than
his ward. I believe he placed his granddaughter in the care of certain
people, and that this child died, while the real heiress, Amalie
Stevens, survived."

"You believe now that Amalie Stevens survived?"

"I do."

"And why have you told me this strange, weird narrative?"

"Madam, do you not guess?"

The woman did not answer, and the detective again produced his
daguereotype, and pointed to the name Amalie Stevens.

"What does this suggest, sir?"

"That is a portrait of Amalie Stevens, and Amalie Stevens is the heiress
of Harold Stevens, and you claim to be the original of that portrait.
Madam, if this can all be substantiated you are a very wealthy woman. I
will tell you candidly, I believe you are the heiress; I believe your
claim can be established. Remember, your baby clothing was marked A. S.
We need but one more proof."

"And what is that?"

"You say your girlhood lineaments are preserved in your daughter?"

"Yes, in a most remarkable manner."

"Then all we have to do is to find your daughter, confirm your claim,
and all the evidence under present conditions is gained, and you shall
be recognized as the heiress, and the fortune will be surrendered to
you."

"Who holds this fortune?"

"I do, madam--yes, the banker is now an old man. He turned the fortune
over to me to hold in trust for any heir that might be found, or failing
that the money under the original plan as outlined in the letter was to
be mine through the banker, who under certain conditions became the
heir."

"But how will I prove all the facts in court?"

"There is nothing to prove in court; I alone am to be convinced that you
are the heiress, and all I have to do is to transfer the property over
to you--yes, let me learn, or rather, be satisfied that you are really
Amalie Stevens that was, and the whole property is yours."

"Sir, you are a most extraordinary man."

"I am?"

"You are."

"How?"

"You tell me if the heirs are not found the property is yours."

"That is true; part mine, and part goes to charity."

"And you have been searching for parties to whom you might give this
fortune?"

"No, madam, I give nothing; I've been searching for parties to whom this
fortune belongs."

"And you think it belongs to me?"

"Frankly, I do."

"Again I say you are a remarkable man, and now I will ask one favor. If
it should prove that the fortune is mine do not mention the fact to a
living soul until you receive permission from me."

"I do not recognize your right to place me under any such restriction,
but I will so agree all the same to oblige you."

"And you will never regret your decision; and now, sir, how about my
child?"

"I propose to search for your child."

There came a sad look to the face of Amalie Speir, as she said:

"If anything evil has befallen my child this fortune is yours."

"What evil do you fear?"

"There are several. One is that this baron has bewitched her. If this
shall prove true, in mercy never reveal the story of the fortune. I will
never need it, and that wretch shall never enjoy it. No, sir, if my
child has become his victim, I should wish her in her grave."

The detective did have grave misgivings as to the possible fate of the
missing girl, and knowing who she was, for in his own mind he was
perfectly satisfied, he determined to devote all his time and his best
energies to discovering what her fate might be.

"Madam," he said, "one fact is assured, since what has developed you can
trust me."

"I can; you are a noble man."

"Then do not make any efforts yourself to find your child; leave all to
me."

"I will."

The detective made a great many inquiries concerning the Richards family
with whom Amalie Speir had resided. Mrs. Speir, however, knew but little
about them. He made an arrangement, however, that he would call upon
Mrs. Speir on the following day and then went forth. He had such a
description of the young baron that he did not doubt being able to
recognize the man at a glance, and when he left the humble home of Mrs.
Speir he proceeded to the home of the Richards family.

Jack had determined upon a very novel plan in order to assure the safety
of Amalie Speir in case he should become satisfied that she had been
abducted. He had thought the matter over very calmly, and had arrived at
a very positive conclusion in one direction. He arrived at the Richards
house at a very fortunate moment, for lo, the very man he had started to
"shadow" had just issued forth. The detective recognized the man at once
and started to follow him, and saw him enter a low gambling house on the
East Side. The detective followed the man, saw him put up a few chips,
and start in to gamble. His face betrayed great anxiety, although he had
only a few dollars at stake, and he was a loser. Our hero got into the
game and bet recklessly. Jack could afford to lose when set to
accomplish a given purpose, for he had plenty of money to spare. He was
very reckless and had taken a seat beside the baron, with whom he
engaged in conversation, and soon he learned that the pretended nobleman
was "broke."

"Luck went against you," said our hero.

"Yes, it always does."

"Permit me to give you a chance to win your money back."

"Sir, you are a stranger."

"A friend in need is a friend indeed."

"But I have no right to accept your money."

"You have if I offer it to you."

"But why should you offer me money?"

"I believe your luck will change."

"Alas! no, luck is against me, I cannot lose your money."

Here an enigma confronted our hero. If this man was a fraud, as had been
represented, he would have accepted money from any source. The question
arose, Was he refusing the money fairly or was he merely playing a game?

"I have good luck as a rule," said Jack; "I will play for you."

"There is no reason, sir, why you should play for me."

The detective was more and more perplexed. He had been led to believe
that the baron was a cold-blooded fraud, and yet here he was displaying
the qualities of a proud and honorable man, with a high sense of honor.

The detective played on and luck turned in his favor. He won a little
money. The baron had gotten up from the table, but stood over our hero's
chair and occasionally a word would pass between the two young men. Jack
admitted that he was mystified--all at sea concerning the real character
of the so-called baron. He discounted prior prejudice, which, as is
known, goes a great way in forming conclusions, and yet he did not
understand the young man. Finally our hero rose from the table and said:

"My luck was much better than yours."

The baron was certainly a very handsome young man. His manners were
those of a gentleman, and his language and general demeanor indicative
of one who had been well born, and we repeat, in view of all statements
concerning the young man, our hero was mystified.

"Come," he said in an offhand way, "let's go and have some supper."

"Why do you ask me?"

"I need a companion; you are a good fellow and a loser. I am a good
fellow and a winner. You will go with me?"

"As you insist I will; you appear to be a very charming gentleman."

Jack led his new friend to a fine restaurant and they were soon seated
at a table, and our hero undertook to order a very sumptuous meal, also
some very choice wine; but later, to his surprise, he observed that the
baron did not touch the wine, and Jack said:

"You do not drink the wine?"

"No, I never drink wine."

"That is strange, seeing you are a German. Probably you prefer beer?"

"No, thank you. Yes, I am a German, but I never drink beer."

"You amaze me."

"Possibly so, but I have the best of reasons for not using any sort of
liquors."

The baron spoke good English, but there was just enough of the German
dialect to indicate that he was not an American.

"Your countrymen, as a rule, are free drinkers."

"Yes, unfortunately, yes; but I am not; I repeat, I never do drink
liquor of any sort."

"To tell the truth," said Jack, "I am not a drinking man myself. I
rarely use liquors; I really ordered the wine thinking it would be
agreeable to you."

"You were very kind."

"You made a remark," said our hero, "that I did not understand."

"Indeed?"

"Yes."

"What did I say, please?"

"You said you always had hard luck."

"It is true."

"Then why do you gamble?"

"I do not desire to air my misfortunes."

The baron spoke as a reserved gentleman would speak under the
circumstances.

"Excuse me," said Jack, "I did not put the question in a specific
manner, but only in a general way."

"You appear to be a good fellow. I will answer you frankly. I gamble
because I want the money."

"It's a poor way to get money."

"Yes, I know it, but I am very poor. I have a small remittance, not
sufficient to support me. I was not reared to labor--indeed, I do not
know what to do. I am half-inclined to put a pistol to my head and end
it all."

Jack was more and more amazed. The young man talked less like a rogue
than any individual he had met in a long time. He meditated a moment and
then said:

"I have plenty of money; possibly I can be of some service to you."

"A stranger?"

"Yes, a stranger; why not? We are both young men and have the world
before us. I will admit that I have taken a great fancy to you."

"I am very much obliged for your kind interest in me, but you cannot be
of any service."

The detective was perplexed beyond measure.



CHAPTER IV.

PLAYING A DEEP GAME--AN AMENDED NARRATIVE--IN THE
OPERA HOUSE--A RECOGNITION--GETTING DOWN TO FACTS BY
ACCIDENT--THE STORY OF AN EXPECTANT HEIR--GAINING A
CLEARER LIGHT.


Jack remained nearly two hours with the young baron, and as will be
learned, made a very favorable impression upon him--indeed, it was
agreed that they were to meet the following evening and go to the opera
together. The detective was approaching his point by easy stages.

When the detective finally bade the young baron good-night he walked off
toward his own lodgings lost in deep thought. He had started out with
one theory, but following his meeting with the young baron other
suspicions penetrated his mind, and he muttered:

"There is something here I cannot explain, but I will get at the bottom
of it before I get through; and I will here say that the present aspect
of the affair presents a more hopeful view of the probabilities."

On the day following our hero called upon Mrs. Speir, and that lady
demanded in eager tones:

"Do you bring me news of my daughter?"

"No direct news, madam, but I desire to question you very particularly.
You gave me to understand that August Wagner was a pseudo baron?"

"Yes."

"Did you ever impart this fact to your daughter?"

"I hinted it to her."

"She discussed the baron with you?"

"Yes."

"And she displayed the utmost aversion to him?"

Mrs. Speir did not answer immediately, and Jack said:

"That is right, Mrs. Speir, think well. Answer me slowly and truthfully,
for this is a very important matter we have on hand."

"I cannot answer you positively."

"Aha! this is a different view from your original statement."

"I may have used too strong a word when I said aversion."

"How will you put it now?"

"My daughter laughed every time I mentioned the baron's name, as I
thought, or possibly as I wanted to believe, derisively."

"She did not say right out that she despised the baron?"

"Frankly, no."

"You admit you overstated the matter?"

"In my bewilderment and anxiety I may have done so; but, sir, what do
these questions mean?"

"They are general and intended to serve as side lights only. Now tell
me, how did you learn that the young man, August Wagner, was a pseudo
baron?"

"I have no positive evidence; I so believe, however."

"But suppose he is a real baron?"

"Then my daughter's peril is greater, and I have the saddest prospect
ahead of me."

"You told me the baron betrayed no sorrow at the disappearance of your
daughter."

"I so interpreted his tone and manner. Now tell me, sir, what you have
learned."

"I have not learned anything positively, but let me ask you, is there
any one else who would have a motive in abducting your daughter?"

"I know of no one else."

The detective had learned facts which threw a new light on the affair,
and he went to meet August Wagner under different impressions than had
governed him when he first started upon the young man's trail.

Jack met young Wagner and went to the opera with him, and during the
course of the evening he saw the young man acknowledge a recognition
from a party in one of the boxes. The detective did not immediately
inquire who the parties were, but he observed that Wagner sought to
avoid any further recognition, and just before the close of the last act
he said:

"I will go out if you will excuse me."

"I have had enough of it; I will go with you," said Jack, adding: "We
will go and have some supper."

The young men left the theater, and once outside, young Wagner said:

"I cannot go and have supper with you."

"Why not?"

"You treated last night."

"Nonsense, don't mention that to me."

We will here announce that our hero was under a disguise, and he
persuaded Wagner to go with him, and he observed that his companion ate
very heartily. He observed another fact. Near the table where he sat
with Wagner another party, a shrewd-faced man, had taken a seat, and
Jack soon fell to the fact that this shrewd-faced man had young Wagner
under surveillance, and when the two young men had nearly completed
their repast this party boldly walked over and took a seat at their
table with the remark:

"Excuse me, but, young man, I desire to ask _you_ a few questions."

The words were addressed to the young baron, and special emphasis was
laid on the word _you_.

The baron was singularly cool under the circumstances, proving him to be
a man of nerve. Really our hero was more disturbed than his companion.
The latter made no answer to the man's declaration, but quietly waited
for a further explanation, and the stranger said:

"Your name is Wagner, or at least, you are known as August Wagner?"

"That is true."

"You claim to be a German baron?"

"That is not true."

"It is not true?"

"It is not true," repeated the young man.

"Then I have been misinformed?"

"Probably not."

"What do you mean?"

"I do not claim to be a baron, but I am next heir to a barony; at
present an elder brother is the baron."

"Then you are not a fraud?"

"It would be dangerous for any one to intimate that I have at any time
made a _false_ claim."

Jack was delighted at the turn the affair had taken. Another was
eliciting facts that our hero most desired to have made clear.

"You were at the opera this evening?"

"I was."

"There was a party in Box C?"

"Yes, sir."

Jack observed that there came a glitter to the young man's eyes, and a
slight color to his cheeks as he answered:

"I was."

"The parties in that box were the Richards family?"

"Yes, but I do not know how the fact concerns either you or me."

"It may concern you, my young friend. What do you know about the
Richards family?"

"Nothing save in a social way, sir."

"That is all?"

"It is."

"Then permit me to advise you to drop all social intercourse with them
if you wish to avoid future trouble; that is all, sir."

The stranger, having spoken in the strange manner related, rose and
without another word departed, and there followed a few moments'
silence, broken at length by our hero, who said:

"So that was the Richards family who occupied the box in the theater
this evening?"

"Yes."

"They are friends of yours?"

Wagner made no answer, but asked:

"Do you know them?"

"I have heard about them."

"I met them in Paris; I know nothing about their social standing. I have
found them very pleasant people and I do not understand the hints of
that man, nor why he should address me. He appeared to know my name, and
was otherwise well posted, as it appears, concerning my acquaintance
with those people. Who can the man be?"

"He is probably a detective."

"A detective?"

"Yes."

Young Wagner became thoughtful for quite an interval, and then in a
musing tone said:

"I do not understand it."

"Let me see," said Jack; "it strikes me that this Richards family is the
same family from whose home a young lady disappeared a week or so ago.
Possibly this detective has his suspicions concerning that young lady's
disappearance. I've heard about it. I remember now that some young
baron's name was associated with her disappearance."

Wagner's face became very pale. He fixed his fine eyes on the detective,
and after a moment said:

"From whom did you hear this?"

"The girl's mother; she is an acquaintance--yes, she told me all about
it. She is very much distressed; and now, come to think, are you the
young German baron alluded to in the case?"

Wagner sat for a moment with a solemn and perplexed look upon his
handsome face, when suddenly he demanded:

"Who are you?"

"I told you my name was Jack Pitts."

"And you know the mother of this missing girl?"

"Yes."

"What did she tell you?"

"Merely that her daughter was missing, and that it was very strange. She
appeared to feel, however, that her daughter was only temporarily
absent, and would return all right in a little while."

"Did you ever see this daughter?" asked Wagner.

"I never did."

"She is a very beautiful girl."

"Then you are acquainted with her?"

"I saw her at the Richards' home."

"What sort of folks are these Richards people?"

Wagner made no immediate answer, but after a moment he said:

"I am only slightly acquainted with you. Remember, we first met last
night; I do not feel at liberty to give you my confidence. I wish I
could, for at this moment I need a friend. I have been sadly villified,
I know, and there is a false impression concerning me in some quarters.
I do not deserve to be misunderstood in this way, for I never did a
dishonorable act in my life."

"Although we only met last night, August, you can trust me--yes, trust
me as freely as though I were your own brother. Tell me about yourself."

The young German meditated a few moments and then said:

"I am really the brother of a baron. The baron is unmarried and has
been, so I have been informed, stricken with a fatal disease. My brother
has lived a very reckless life; he has mortgaged our family estates
beyond their market value. To-day should he die I would become the
baron, but alas! only an empty title would come to me. I came to America
intending to win and woo some wealthy heiress. In Paris I met the
Richards family. To me they have always appeared honorable enough, but I
will admit that I have heard stories to the contrary. Mr. Richards has a
daughter living in Paris--" and here the young man suddenly stopped.

"Go on," said our hero.

"Do not think me egotistical if I tell the truth."

"Certainly not; I see you are not an egotistical man."

"I am not, although the second son of a baron who was descended from a
long line of barons. I have known poverty all my life. My brother, the
present baron, is twice my age, and he had involved the estates as
prospective heir before I was born, and when he came into possession he
finished them up. No, I am not proud in one way, and I will tell the
truth. I know that the Richards family, who appear to have a great deal
of money, desired to have me marry their daughter. I could not do so."

"Why not?"

"I did not love her, and she is not a true type of the American girl. I
crossed in the same steamer with the Richards family, and they are about
the only people with whom I have been intimate since my arrival here,
and--" Again the young man stopped shortly, and the detective urged:

"Proceed, tell me the whole story; you will not regret it."

"I have reason to believe that while the Richards family have been very
kind to me, for reasons of their own they have circulated the stories
about me. They have recognized me at their social gatherings, but I have
evidence that they have given out that I am a pretense."

"Have you suspected their motive?"

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"They do not wish me to meet with recognition outside of themselves.
They are determined that I shall marry their daughter; I never will."

It was the detective's turn to meditate, and we will here state that he
believed the young man had told him the truth. He had brought his
logical mind to bear upon the circumstances and had arrived at a
conclusion. After a moment he said:

"I am very much obliged to you for trusting me, but there is something
you have held back."

"I believe I have told you all."

"No, I am a sort of mind-reader, and I have discerned something that you
have not told me."

"Then you have a suspicion?"

"Yes."

"What do you suspect?"

"I suspect that you know something concerning the disappearance of the
young lady who was acting as governess in the Richards family."



CHAPTER V.

A STARTLING BETRAYAL--THE CUTENESS OF THE
DETECTIVE---SUGGESTIONS THROUGH A WORD--THE BODY IN
THE BRUSH-WOOD--JACK LAYS A SCHEME--SADDEST OF ALL
CONCLUSIONS.


Young Wagner smiled sadly and answered:

"I cannot go into that matter."

"But you do not understand me."

"I do not?"

"No."

"How so?"

"That man who interrupted us is a detective."

"Well?"

"He suspects that you are an abductor."

The young man started, and after a moment said:

"If that is true it is the Richards family who have thrown the suspicion
around me."

"Then they must have had a purpose?"

"Certainly."

"And you know their purpose?"

"It is in line with what I have told you."

"Since you are the baron, so-called, I will make an admission to you.
You must not _think_ that I knew you were the baron when we accidentally
became acquainted, but now that I know you are I can tell you a great
deal. Amalie Speir's mother suspects that you had something to do with
the girl's disappearance."

Wagner was thoughtful for a long time before he answered, and then he
said:

"It's not strange that the girl's mother should suspect me."

"It is not strange?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"You appear to be an honorable man; let me ask you one question: Did you
ever meet Miss Amalie Speir?"

"I never saw her in my life," came the truthful answer.

"You know her mother?"

"I do."

"You can tell her mother that I say on my honor I do not know anything
about the present whereabouts of her daughter."

"Oh, I see, you do not trust me."

"No, I distrust you."

"You distrust me?"

"I do."

"Why?"

"Because you have not been frank with me."

Our hero smiled. He had determined to declare himself, being satisfied
that Wagner was an honorable young man.

"Do you want me to be frank?"

"Yes."

"What shall I do?"

"Tell me plainly why you made my acquaintance?"

"You suspect?"

"Yes, I suspect."

"What do you suspect?"

"That you are a detective employed to shadow me, and I suspect that the
man who spoke to me a little while ago is your confederate."

"All right; what you suspect is true."

"And you are a detective?"

"I am."

"And you made my acquaintance with design?"

"I did."

"What is your conclusion?"

"My conclusion is that you are an honorable young man."

"Thank you, and now let me tell you I know nothing about Amalie. I do
not know _whom to suspect_; I so told her mother."

There came a strange glitter in our hero's eyes, and a suspicion that
almost caused his heart to stand still. He had reckoned himself a very
shrewd, sharp man, but suddenly, and on evidence that would not have
aroused a passing comment on the part of most men, he became convinced
that he had been magnificently played. He was equal to the occasion,
however; he had always been. He was indeed a wonderful man, and he said:

"I am very glad to hear you say so. Now that I have confessed so much I
will confess more. I did believe you were guilty; I did believe that you
were the abductor."

"No, I loved her too well."

"You loved her?"

"I did."

"And did she know that you loved her?"

"She did."

"And did she love you?"

"I have reason to believe that Amalie loved me; I know that I loved
her."

"But she is a poor girl; she could not aid you to remove the mortgages
from your estates in case you should become the baron."

"It makes no difference. She is a beautiful girl, one of the loveliest
creatures I ever met in all my life. I am a sad man; I shall always be
sad."

"You shall always be sad?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because I have lost her."

"Lost her?"

"Yes."

"She may reappear?"

"Never."

"Why do you say she will never reappear?"

"She has carried out her threat."

"Her threat?"

"Yes."

"What did she threaten?"

"To drown herself."

"What led her to make this threat?"

"She was despondent--very despondent. Shall I tell you all?"

"Yes, tell me all."

"She loved me; I am poor. I offered her my love and asked that she wait
until I became the baron and then I would make her my wife. She said she
could not wait."

We will leave our readers to judge of the feelings of the detective as
he listened to this singular statement. All he said was:

"Then you believe she is dead?"

"Yes."

"I do not."

"You believe she lives?"

"I do not believe, August, that she was fooling you. She is indeed a
very beautiful woman if all reports are true, for I never saw her. I am
glad, however, that you are not implicated in any way in her strange
disappearance. This shall not interfere with our friendship. I honor and
respect you, in case you have properly represented everything to me.
Shall we meet to-morrow and lunch together?"

"No, I cannot accept more bounty; you have been very kind."

"All right; we will meet again and I may have a pleasant surprise for
you."

The detective parted from the prospective young baron and returned to
his own lodgings, and once in his own room he became a very thoughtful
man. The detective muttered aloud, and there was much of suggestion in
his mutterings. He said:

"There is a mystery here within a mystery. There is something I have not
gotten on to yet. Why should this man secrete the girl Amalie Speir?
Every move of this Richards family means something. Why should they
become so deeply interested in this penniless girl? It is not within the
bounds of possibility that they could have in any way discovered that
she is an--" Here the detective stopped short and gave utterance to an
expletive more expressive than elegant, and after a little he resumed
his musings, saying:

"Let me see; yes, yes, it is possible. I see I have a little exploring
to do in another direction, and in the meantime I must have an eye on
this dignified young baron and these Richards people. Yes, yes, there is
an underlying possibility that may explain the whole matter if I can
ever strike to its bottom fact, and by ginger! I will."

Jack had arrived at a conclusion that necessitated the very finest sort
of detective work--indeed, his task was one of the hardest because it
consisted in discovering a motive.

On the morning following the incidents related, the detective sat down
to his rolls and coffee and had his paper, when a paragraph met his eyes
which caused his blood to run cold. The paragraph was a brief statement
under showy headlines that the body of a young woman had been found in
the bushes near the Orange Mountains. There was nothing in the paragraph
really to arouse so great interest on his part were it not that he was
thrilled by one of those wonderful premonitions which ofttimes came to
him.

Jack believed that later in the day there would come further details,
and in the meantime he visited Mrs. Speir and showed her the paragraph.
Mrs. Speir became greatly agitated at first, but after a moment said:

"You observe that it is a woman; my daughter is less than twenty."

"Yes, I observe that; but do you notice that the face is mutilated so
the body will only be identified by the clothing? And now, Mrs. Speir, I
have a few words to say. I fear you are going to be called upon to
undergo a very trying ordeal, but mark my words: no matter what the
later evidences may be, it is not the body of your daughter."

The woman glared but remained silent, and the detective continued:

"I believe I can discern the whole business, and more than that, I
believe there is a most thrilling, startling and wonderful revelation
under all this business. But again I say, mark well my words: it is not
the body of your daughter, and I tell you now I believe all the evidence
will go to prove that is your daughter's body."

"You talk in enigmas."

"And I believe I know just what I am talking about. There is a great
game being played; the game is an old one. The motive is something we
are not 'on to' yet, but we will uncover the whole business. But let me
impress upon you with the greatest earnestness that I know your daughter
lives."

"Then what does it mean?"

"You can accept my word that it is an attempt to prove that your
daughter is dead."

"Why should any one wish to prove that she is dead?"

"I think I can discern; I may be mistaken, but one fact is certain: some
very thrilling denouement is to follow in the end, but your daughter is
not dead, and you can judge how reliable is my statement when I say now
that I have only seen that newspaper paragraph, but in the end the most
startling evidence will be produced to make it appear that it is your
daughter, and it may be necessary that you should seem to accept the
evidence and hold a funeral over the body of a stranger. I repeat, a
great game is being played--has been played--but we will beat it. We
will catch these people in their own trap."

"But what can be their motive?"

The detective hesitated a moment and then said:

"We cannot now tell how these folks found out that your daughter is a
great heiress, your heir, for you are a very rich woman; and it is
possible that there may be people who are ready to step forward and
claim the estate which I hold as trustee."

We will again state that the detective held no such suspicion. He was
leading the mother astray for reasons that will be disclosed later on.
All he desired to do at the moment was to make it appear to Mrs. Speir
that his idea explained the true motive, but he knew better.

Two days later the predictions of the detective in a certain direction
were all singularly verified. The clothing and other incidents indicated
that the body found in the woods was that of Amalie Speir, and that the
lovely girl had committed suicide. There were proofs that she was young
and beautiful, and acting under the detective's advice Mrs. Speir
permitted it to be assumed that she recognized the dead girl. The
remains were brought to New York, taken to an undertaker's, and after
the usual preparation and ceremony, were buried from there, and our hero
was the only attendant who accompanied the unfortunate girl to the
grave, and that same night he held a long talk with Mrs. Speir. He said:

"They have played their last card now, but I cannot discern what their
motive could have been in making it appear that your daughter is dead."

Tears were running down Mrs. Speir's cheeks as she said:

"I can."

"You can?" queried the detective.

"I can."

"Well?"

"They are seeking to cover up a more horrible crime than her murder."

This same suspicion had run through our hero's mind.

We will here state that the evidences attending the discovery of the
dead girl apparently indicated beyond all possibility of doubt that she
had taken her own life. The mutilations which prevented a positive
identification were attributed to some animal that had discovered the
remains before they were discovered by the lads who reported the find;
and as apparently there was no mystery in the case, the affair dropped
away from immediate public attention; the circumstances did not appear
to call for an investigation, but here were the facts. Mrs. Speir was
positive that it was not the body of her child, and against this was the
tragic testimony that her daughter's clothing and trinkets had been
found on the body, and these served for identification--an
identification which was apparently complete and absolute. It not being
Amalie Speir, and the fact that testimonies were present to indicate
that it was, seemed to make it appear almost positive that there was
some deep design in the presence of those articles, and we can add that
our hero sadly feared that the motive suggested by the mother was the
truth, that the girl had been the victim of some heartless villain, and
he concluded that if such were indeed the fact the smooth, cunning,
adroit and skillful baron was the despoiler.



CHAPTER VI.

JACK'S DEEP INTEREST IN THE AFFAIR--A NEW
GAME--BETTER PLAY--SHOTS THAT TOLD--A SCHEME
UNMASKED--A HURRIED MESSAGE--THE DETECTIVE PLAYS
SPANISH.


It is not necessary to state that our hero was aroused and stirred to
the very lowest depths of his nature. There did remain one remote chance
that the motive was different from the one indicated, but such a
possibility was very remote. Our hero had the deepest possible interest
in the missing girl, and he did feel that if the mother's premonitions
were correct that it would have been far better if indeed the dead had
been veritably Amalie Speir; but as long as there was a possibility our
hero was determined not to give up, and he said cheerily to the almost
distracted mother:

"I think I can assign another motive for the passing off of the dead for
the living, and I will solve the mystery. If Amalie, your child, is the
victim of villains she still lives and we can find and rescue her, and
mark my words: if any harm has come to her the perpetrators will have
reason to wish that they had never been born; but on my honor, I assure
you I can discern where there could have been another motive, and up to
this time, if I am correct, your daughter lives scatheless of any real
harm save the sorrow and anxiety she must feel in considering your
sufferings because of her strange absence."

"Can you bid me hope?"

"I can."

"And you will find my child?"

"I will; remember you are a rich woman; no one can dispute your right to
the great fortune I hold in trust for you, and I have a suggestion to
make. I desire that you follow my suggestion."

"I will."

"It may startle you, but it is for the best."

"You are my best and only friend in these present trying conditions. I
will do whatever you suggest."

"I intend with the full approbation of Mr. Townsend to turn over your
fortune to you. Among your properties is a very fine house handsomely
furnished. I desire that you occupy this house, take possession at
once."

"My doing so will excite comment."

"No, your life has been so comparatively obscure no one will pay any
attention to it. I only desire that the Richards family and this baron
become aware of the fact that you have fallen heir to a great fortune.
All inquiries as to the source of your wealth will remain a
secret--yes, a secret forever. No one can dispute your ownership. Should
there be any comment Mr. Townsend can offer the explanation, and his
high reputation as a former banker and citizen will silence all comment.
I have a special reason for the carrying out of this scheme, and should
any one so far interest themselves as to inquire whence your fortune
comes refer them to Mr. Townsend, who has acted as trustee."

Our hero proceeded to carry out the business of the transfer. He had
settled the matter as to the heirship, and in the meantime Mrs. Speir
very reluctantly took possession of an elegant residence, and when Mr.
Townsend and our hero called upon her the latter said:

"You will have a grand home to welcome your daughter to when she
returns, and this home is your own."

When everything was arranged Jack went under a disguise and through Mr.
Townsend he had himself introduced as a young Spanish millionaire of
excellent family.

To those of our readers who have not read the previous exploits of our
hero, we will say that Jack Alvarez had lived many years in Madrid and
spoke the language like a native. His boyhood years had been passed in
Spain--indeed, his mother, an American woman, was in Spain when her two
sons, Jack and Gil, were born.

As the young Spanish millionaire Jack went under a most radical change.
He was an adept at disguises, and no one would ever have suspected in
the young Spaniard who could not speak English the real Jack Alvarez,
the acute detective. Our hero arranged to play a dual rôle, and it was
as Jack Alvarez he met the baron. There had come a complete change over
the demeanor of the baron. He appeared to have money, and he actually
invited our hero to dine with him and Jack accepted the invitation, and
during the meal the baron said:

"I may appear gay, but I am very sad."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, you are my only confidant; I loved Amalie Speir, the young
governess, and I have been heartbroken since the discovery that the poor
girl committed suicide."

"It was sad. What do you suppose could have been her motive?"

"Despondency, of course."

"What could have caused the despondency?"

"Without egotism I can say that she loved me, and my inability to marry
at present caused the despondency."

"You are wrong."

"I am wrong?"

"Yes."

"Then you know what caused her despondency?"

"I do not, but I know it was not love for you, nor her inability to
marry for lack of money. Were you aware that Miss Amalie Speir was an
heiress?"

The baron's face assumed the hue of death, while a feeling of exultation
agitated our hero's heart. That sudden pallor to a man like Jack spoke
volumes.

"She was an heiress?" repeated the man, and actually in husky tones.

"Yes, she was an heiress. Do you not know that her mother has come into
her share of the property, and is at present living in a magnificent
mansion of her own?"

"It is all news to me. Did Amalie know that she was an heiress?"

"Certainly she did, but she was a girl who would not boast of her
prospects. She was to arrive at a certain age before she came into
possession. In a year or two, if she had lived, she would have been a
very rich woman; but you must excuse me; I have enjoyed your treat very
much; next time it will be my treat."

"But hold, I desire to ask you a few questions."

"I cannot answer any questions now; I am very busy; in fact, I will tell
you that evidence has been furnished that leads the friends of Amalie
Speir to believe that she did not commit suicide, but was murdered. _I
am investigating the facts._ If it is proved that she was murdered it
will go hard with her murderers, that's all."

The changing expressions upon the face of the baron were many, and every
change of expression was a telltale look to our hero, and as he was
doing so well he proceeded and said:

"In fact, the incidents of that death are very conflicting and
complicated. Mrs. Speir is beginning to believe that her daughter is not
dead, that it is all a conspiracy to make it appear that her daughter is
dead in order to rob her of her fortune. So you see, my dear baron, it
may be that after all you may win a rich and handsome bride. I have the
case in hand and am gaining ground every day. I believe I will soon be
able to establish that Amalie Speir still lives."

The baron fell back in his chair like one suddenly stricken, and as the
detective gazed upon the man the thought ran through his mind: "You
played me nicely there for awhile, but my turn has come. We are playing
another game now."

We will say that our hero did admire the man's talents, although
mystified by the incidents attending the fine play, but he was getting
even in a most thrilling manner. If ever a criminal by his agitation
betrayed guilt, August Wagner did so. Under the fire of the detective,
so skillfully directed, the schemer lost all his equipoise, for Jack had
become, as indicated, fully convinced that Wagner was at the bottom of
the whole scheme, or the instrument of the party who was putting up what
our detective denominated "a game." Jack kept pretending all the time
that he desired to get away, but Wagner urged him in almost pitiful
tones to stay.

"I haven't time."

"But tell me what are the testimonies you have secured."

"It is not in my line of business to betray our movements. I am a
regular detective and I have been assigned to this case. I am determined
to push through to some startling denouement."

The detective had already pushed through to a startling denouement. He
had purposely lingered a long time at the dinner. The two young men had
entered the place very late in the afternoon, and darkness was beginning
to fall.

Jack only took a few moments to work a complete change in his
appearance. He was down to active work and determined to move very fast.
While working his change our hero did not lose sight of the entrance to
the hotel where he and Wagner had dined, and he had prepared for what is
called a "lightning change." A few moments passed and he saw Wagner
leave the dining-room. He fell to the man's trail under his new guise.
He saw Wagner go to a district telegraph station, saw him write a note
and dispatch a messenger with it, and he muttered:

"Aha! young man, I will watch you. Never mind the messenger, I reckon it
is a case where the mountain will come to Mahomet."

Having dispatched his note Wagner issued forth and walked slowly along
the street, but in a short time he returned to the restaurant where he
had just dined, and Jack followed him in. The detective called a waiter
and addressed him in Spanish. The waiter did not comprehend, and Jack
made quite a scene in his efforts to make himself understood, and
finally the head waiter approached the table. Wagner was interested in
the scene, as the Spaniard was only a few feet distant, and he heard the
waiter say to his chief:

"This gentleman is a Spaniard; he cannot speak English. I cannot make
out what he says."

The head waiter knew a few words of Spanish and managed at length to
take the supposed Spaniard's order, and the latter ordered quite an
elaborate dinner. He had a purpose; he desired to make time. He did so;
he sat there over an hour eating very slowly and reading a Spanish paper
which he had drawn from his pocket, and soon a lady entered and
approached the table where Wagner sat. She said as she joined the baron:

"I received your hurried message; what has occurred?"

As the woman spoke she turned and glanced at the supposed Spaniard, and
Wagner said:

"You need not fear him; he is Spanish; cannot speak a word of English.
It is lucky he is there, as unconsciously he will protect us from other
neighbors, and I have a great deal to say."

"Order some wine. I am greatly disconcerted and alarmed. Your note was
so urgent."

"Necessarily urgent; I have the most startling information."

The man spoke in a low tone, but there were acute ears near by, and our
hero distinctly overheard every word that was spoken.

"You have received startling information?"

"I have."

"In what direction?"

"As concerns Amalie."

"Well?"

"A detective is employed to work on the case."

"A detective is employed?"

"Yes."

"I thought the affair had dropped from public notice.'

"On the contrary, I know personally the detective who is employed. He is
_not a very smart man_, but he is energetic and persistent. He told me
that evidence had been procured that Amalie had been murdered."

The woman laughed in a disdainful manner and replied:

"We know better."

"Certainly we do, but an investigation in that direction has already
stirred up other suspicions."

"What other suspicions?"

"Suspicions that may lead to the most perilous consequences to us."

"Consequences to us?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"In the first place it is known that Amalie is an heiress."

"Impossible!"

"It is true, and more."

"What more?"

"There are those who suspect that she still lives."



CHAPTER VII.

A MEETING WITH THE BARON--STARTLING DISCLOSURES--AGAIN
THE SPANISH MILLIONAIRE--SHADOWING DOWN FOR A CHAIN OF
STEEL--THE DRAFT--A TRIUMPHANT TRICK--A DENOUEMENT TO
COME.


The woman gave a start and also uttered an exclamation that was very
significant under all the circumstances, and after an interval she
added:

"This is all very strange."

"Yes, it is all very strange."

"How on earth any one could have _learned about that fortune_ is a
mystery to me."

Here was an admission that made our hero almost start and utter an
exclamation himself, and if the woman's remark meant what he had reason
to believe it did, once again had he given proof of his wonderful
acuteness.

"It is not more wonderful, _mother_, than the way we found it out."

Here was a second surprise for our hero. The baron had called the woman
mother, and the woman, as our hero knew, was Mrs. Richards.

"Something must be done at once, Mrs. Richards."

"What can we do but wait? The girl is buried; they can never secure any
evidence, and in case they do finally _it will be too late_."

"You know this detective?"

"I do."

"Very well, I must have time to think; I wish he were a gentleman."

"Why?"

"Then we could dispose of him."

The detective was getting a heap of information, but the information
only complicated the affair; but he had learned enough to make him feel
that he could carry the most pleasant assurances to Mrs. Speir.

The baron and the woman talked for some little time longer, but their
words conveyed no further positive information, and finally they
separated; and when once alone our hero had several problems to meditate
over. In the first place Mrs. Richards was not a German woman and yet
the baron had called her mother. Here was a mystery to solve. Jack did
visit Mrs. Speir and told her to be hopeful--ay, more than hopeful--but
he did not state the evidence on which his cheering words were founded,
but he set to work to investigate the Richards family. He learned in
good time that Mr. Richards was a well-known business man and a very
good man as far as was known. Our hero's informant, however, shook his
head when he came to speak of Mrs. Richards, and Jack asked:

"Was the lady ever married before she became the wife of Mr. Richards?"

The party questioned did not immediately answer. Jack pressed his
question, and the party asked:

"Why do you wish to know?"

"I have vital reasons."

The gentleman whom our hero was questioning was a lawyer, a very shrewd
man, who had the reputation of not being overscrupulous, but there were
reasons why he desired to oblige our hero, and after a moment he said:

"You will not use my information?"

"Not in any way to involve you."

"My communication," said the lawyer, "is confidential?"

"Certainly."

"She was married to a German who claimed to be a baron. He was a
worthless fellow; he may be living yet, but her husband, Mr. Richards,
does not know of her previous marriage. The younger children are his
children."

"There is a young man who is on very intimate terms with Mrs. Richards,"
said our hero, "known as August Wagner."

The lawyer made no remark and the detective asked:

"What do you know about him?"

"See here, I am getting into deep water."

"How?"

"You are up to something."

"I am, and if you do not give me the information I seek I shall look for
it elsewhere. I think, however, _you_ are bound to aid me."

"That young man, August Wagner, is her son by a former marriage. She
pretends he is only a friend; her husband does not suspect the
relationship."

Here was a bit of news that was very important and explained certain
seeming perplexities. In the first place the woman had at times shown
excellent feeling toward the baron, and then again she had apparently
maligned him. Jack could see now the occasion--it was done to blind Mr.
Richards. The woman was playing a double game.

"What have you to say concerning Mrs. Richards? Come, be open and frank
with me."

"She is a very ambitious woman; her husband is a man of comparatively
moderate means. She has spent a great deal of time in Europe. She was
living too fast for her husband, and he made her return to New York, and
she is now leading him beyond his means. Yes, she is socially very
ambitious, not here in America, but abroad. To tell the truth, I do not
believe her first husband is dead. She is leading a double life. She may
not be so much to blame, for I have heard that her first husband was, or
is, a contemptible fellow. She once had money in her own right, but the
baron squandered it all. Her son has lived most of his time in Germany,
and fortunately there is no family resemblance to betray the
relationship. The son resembles the father; is essentially German in
appearance, but he inherits from his mother a pretty bright intellect.
He is a shrewd fellow; his mother supports him clandestinely, and I
reckon he costs her a good round sum." The lawyer here lowered his voice
and said: "In fact, the woman has put herself in jeopardy by several
criminal transactions in connection with her son. They are carrying
forged notes, and at any time there may come an explosion and
disclosure."

"Do you think she would commit actual crime?"

"I do not think that she is a criminal by nature, but extravagance leads
to criminal acts, and when one commits one crime they are often driven
to commit others."

"You are right; but this family have come into considerable prominence
lately owing to the tragedy connected with the young lady who was
governess in their family."

"Ah! I see that is the part of it you are investigating?"

"Well, yes."

"I reckon that is all straight enough in one way."

"In one way?"

"Yes."

"What way do you mean?"

"The girl committed suicide."

"You think so?"

"Yes, and the evidence proves it."

"Yes, I know, but why should she be driven to suicide?"

The lawyer remained silent.

"Come, you have an idea," said our hero.

"I may have an idea, yes, but that's all."

"What is your idea?"

"I am perfectly willing to give you facts; I have no right to advance my
suspicions. I may be wrong."

"I can tell you what you suspect."

"No doubt."

"You think the young baron had something to do with the girl's death."

"I understand she was young and handsome. He is young and handsome; it
is probable that he may have had indirectly something to do with her
death. I know one thing--his mother would never permit him to marry the
girl. She is playing him off for a baron and seeks to marry him to a
rich wife. I believe she will succeed. It will be fortunate for her and
her son also if they succeed--indeed, certain matters are being held
back in that contingency, that I know."

The detective had made great advances and he determined to work a great
game, and within a few days he made the acquaintance of August Wagner
under the disguise of the rich Spaniard, and as they both spoke French
there was little trouble in their intercourse. Jack played his cards
well, made a great display of money, and one day he advanced matters to
a crisis. He had forced the lawyer to furnish him further details
concerning the money transactions of the baron and his mother, and set
matters in motion so that it became necessary for the baron to have some
ready cash. Well, very well and skillfully had Jack played his game, and
one day he and the baron were at dinner. The baron was being fooled and
he had not worked the same game on the Spaniard that he had worked on
the detective. On the contrary, he pretended to be very rich and
possessed of great sums of money; he even assumed to be richer than the
baron. As stated, the crisis arrived; the baron and our hero were at
dinner. The baron appeared to be greatly depressed, and the Spaniard
observed it and said, speaking in French:

"My good friend, you do not appear to be in good spirits to-day?"

"I am not."

"I am sorry; I wish I could do something to cheer you up."

"My remittance failed to come."

"Aha! that is nothing."

"Not materially, and yet I am very much inconvenienced."

"Indeed; possibly I can come to your rescue."

"I would not dream of letting you do so."

"Why not?"

"Oh, no."

"But it would be a pleasure."

"Really?"

"Why, certainly."

"I cannot borrow from you, but if you would accept a draft on
Berlin----"

"Why not?"

"For quite a sum?"

"Why not, if the draft is good?"

"I have a friend, a very rich gentleman, who has dealings with my banker
in Berlin; he will make a draft for me. His name is Richards, a
well-known business man here in New York."

"My friend, you will offend me if you go into details. No, no, it is not
necessary. Have you the draft?"

"Not with me; I can get it."

"Ah, yes; but, my dear baron, you will indorse it?"

"I will, certainly."

"That is fine. I care not who makes the draft, your indorsement is
sufficient for me."

"Have you such confidence in me?"

"Why not?"

"Then we may do better."

"Any way."

"I will get a draft accepted by my friend here in New York; I will
indorse it and I will take care of it."

"Any way, my dear friend; I am only too glad to be of service to you."

"You are very kind."

"Why not--are we not good friends. And I have not many friends in New
York. How much will you need?"

"Two thousand dollars."

"You shall have it at once--indeed, I feel ashamed to accept your note,
but you see I must do so merely as a matter of business, that is all. If
the amount were less I'd not permit you to give me the draft on your
good friend. Let me see, what is the name--did you say Richards?"

"Yes."

"Oh, I see; he will accept the draft payable in sixty days. Ah, that is
it; and you will make the draft?"

"Yes."

"Good, very good; the money is ready for you any time. I am so glad to
oblige you--why not?"

The baron was an actor, but the detective was a better one, and it was
agreed that they were to meet the following morning, when our hero would
have the money ready. Meantime, the detective as known to the baron had
most singularly been in evidence even within three minutes after
parting from the Spaniard. The baron met the detective, or rather he
thought he did, but alas! it was just that part of the game where the
twin brother of Jack, Gil, the excellent aid, came in. Of course Gil had
his instructions well rehearsed, and he played his part with splendid
address and cuteness. The baron was being outmaneuvered in every
direction, while thinking that he was playing a winning hand.

On the morning following the incidents recorded the baron met the
Spaniard, and strange to say, only a minute previously he had met the
detective. Jack had the money all right, "why not?" and the baron had
the draft, and in the presence of the detective he indorsed it. We may
add in the presence of Gil also, for our hero had so arranged his plans
that his brother was a witness, and after the money had been paid over
and Jack had the draft in his possession, he invited the baron to
breakfast with him. The baron was in high glee, excused himself, but
said he would meet Jack and have lunch with him.

Our hero sauntered over to the elegant home of Mrs. Speir. The latter
had suffered the most intense agony during all this time, and it had
preyed upon her health. Our hero had learned that Mrs. Speir was a very
lovely woman, and well fitted to adorn a mansion. On the occasion when
Jack appeared he found Mrs. Speir seated in her library. There were
tears in her eyes, and as the detective entered a photograph slid off
her lap and fell to the floor. The detective leaped forward to restore
it, and as he raised it from the floor he caught a glimpse of the face,
and he stood gazing in rapt and intense admiration.

"I did not mean that you should see that," said Mrs. Speir.

"You did not mean me to see it?"

"Not at present."

"But I have seen it."

"I cannot help it."

"One question: Whose portrait is that?"

"It is a portrait of Amalie."

"Your child?"

"Yes."

"She is indeed a beautiful girl," came the declaration.



CHAPTER VIII.

JACK'S GREAT DETECTIVE WORK--"WALK INTO MY MESHES,"
SAID THE DETECTIVE--A ROGUE WALKS IN--THE FORGED
ACCEPTANCE--CLOSING DOWN FOR A CONFESSION.


There came a look of pride through the glittering tears as the mother
responded:

"Yes, she was a beautiful girl, but alas! I fear her beauty has proved
her ruin."

"Madam, you can dismiss that fear; I have set in motion a series of
tricks which will enable me, I am assured, to restore your daughter to
your love and arms unharmed."

"Alas! I wish I could share your hopefulness; I cannot. You are a noble
man, you have proved it, and more, you have proved that you are one of
the most honorable of men. I am grateful, but I am hopeless. If my
daughter were alive, as you say, she would come to me."

"There is no doubt, madam, that your daughter is restrained of her
liberty or she would come, but mark my words: within one week I will
bring her to you unharmed. I cannot tell you now all I have learned, but
you can accept my word; I will make good my promise."

When our hero left the presence of Mrs. Speir, wild, strange hopes were
surging in his heart. He had never given much thought to ladies,
beautiful or otherwise, only as they were a part of his duties, but when
he had once gazed upon the face of the beautiful Amalie Speir there came
a great change over him. There was something in the expression of her
face, so bright and intelligent, so different from any face he had ever
gazed upon.

We have often said, and we declare again, that beautiful faces are no
rarity in America. One cannot walk the streets or even enter a public
conveyance without being able to pass the time watching a beautiful
face, and the types of beauty to be met with are varied, but not as
varied as the expressions. It is the expressiveness of a face after all
that constitutes its beauty, and among our girls who are compelled to
earn their livelihood in factories and offices, one will behold faces
delicate and features classically beautiful. The anxieties attending
daily toil do not destroy their beauty, and some of these girls have
features that light up with expressions wondrously charming, and here
also the types are varied, and it is wonderful how an impression will
sometimes be mutually made. This is what is commonly called "love at
first sight," and it is not an uncommon experience. It does seem as
though some souls were born as one.

We will not attempt to analyze the feelings of our hero, Jack, the
detective. He was young, well educated, well-to-do, and talented,
besides he possessed one of the grandest physical structures that every
held a human heart, and again, strangely enough, under all the
circumstances, he was not only an honorable man but a young man animated
with the kindliest feelings. His great physical strength did not make
him an aggressor, but a protector.

All along he had had a strong motive in solving the mystery of Amalie's
disappearance, but after having seen her portrait his previous interest
become wildly enthused, and he clinched his fist and muttered:

"If any harm has come to that fair girl, woe to the man or woman who has
harmed her, that is all I've got to say."

As intimated, Jack had carried out a very cunning scheme, and on the day
following his securing of the note he met the young man August Wagner.
He met him under the rôle of the detective, invited him to dine with
him, and together the two young man entered a well-known café. They were
seated at a table, when lo, the Spaniard entered. Here again our hero
had utilized his double, his twin brother Gil, and so well was Gil
gotten up as the Spaniard that the most intimate friend of the disguised
men would have failed to discover the "transform."

These brothers had a way of destroying their resemblance for the time
being, and at the moment there was no observable resemblance between
them. Jack had appeared as Jack in one way when he assumed the rôle of
the Spaniard. He traveled under the name of Tavares, and as his brother
Gil entered the baron leaped up and made to go toward him, but Gil,
having his cue, turned suddenly and walked out, giving the baron no
opportunity to address him. As the latter resumed his seat Jack said:

"Do you know that man?"

"Yes, he is my intimate friend."

"Your intimate friend?"

"Yes."

"Don't let any one know it."

"Don't let any one know it?" repeated the baron, in a tone of surprise.

"No, sir."

"Why not?"

"You know his character, don't you?"

"He is a young Spanish millionaire."

"A what?"

"A young Spanish millionaire."

"Hello, has he played you?"

"Played me?" repeated the baron.

"That is what I said."

"But I do not understand you."

"That man is the biggest fraud and pretense in New York--one of the most
dangerous men to have any dealings with in the United States. If you
have met him take my advice and do not keep up the acquaintance. When
that man makes your acquaintance _he has a design every time_."

The baron glared and turned pale--very pale--and finally asked:

"Are you sure?"

"I am sure. Why, has he worked you?"

"Oh, no, but I am surprised."

"He is a terrible man."

"He was introduced to me, as I said, as a Spanish millionaire."

"He is a Spanish Shylock; he loans money, and he usually gets about two
hundred per cent before he gets through. Why, I know a case where he got
a lady to forge her husband's name to a note, and as soon as he got the
note he commenced to squeeze. He got all the woman's jewels, all her
money, all the real estate she held in her own name, then exposed her,
and she committed suicide."

The baron's face became ghastly, and the detective asked:

"What is the matter? You look deathly pale."

"The wine has turned against me."

"But you haven't drank any."

"No, no, I've a sort of dizziness; I do not know what is the matter with
me. But I am amazed at what you tell me; there must be some mistake."

"No, there is no mistake."

"The Spaniard cannot speak a word of English."

"What?" ejaculated the detective.

"He cannot speak a word of English."

"Bah! he can speak English, French, and German. He is a splendid
linguist; he plays ignorance, that is all; it is a part of his design."

The baron recalled the scene in the hotel café, and said:

"I know he can't speak English."

"How do you know?"

"It was through his inability to speak English that I became acquainted
with him. He was in a café and could not make his wants known, and I
went to his rescue."

The detective laughed outright.

"Why do you laugh?"

"At the idea that he could not speak English. Why, my friend, it is
evident he had some design on you. Look out for him, or take my advice
and do not have anything to do with him, or he will make you a heap of
trouble. I tell you he is a dangerous man; the next time you meet him
sound him on the question of his knowledge of English. Suddenly say
something comical to him, and then watch. You are shrewd; you will soon
find out he can speak English, even better than yourself."

Jack had set his fuse alight, and he started to work in another
direction. He left the baron after a few more words of warning, and
enjoyed seeing the young man writhe in terror.

Once on the street the detective smiled grimly and said:

"The miserable little conniver, I reckon I am drawing the strings very
tight on him now, and soon I will make him drop to his knees and confess
all."

A little while following the scene we have described a gentleman
appeared at the house of Mrs. Richards and sent in a card, intimating
that his business was very urgent.

The lady sent back word she could not see any one until evening. The
visitor would not accept this refusal to meet him, and sent such word as
to cause the lady to have him invited inside, and after about half an
hour's wait Mrs. Richards appeared.

"Good-afternoon, madam, I am sorry to have insisted upon seeing you, but
my business is very urgent."

Jack spoke in broken English, and was gotten up as the Spaniard.

"Your name is Jones, I believe?"

"No, madam, my name is Tavares. I did not send you my own card for
reasons which you will understand."

At the mention of the name Tavares Mrs. Richards winced, and there came
a pallor to her face. She was a fine-looking woman, commanding in face
and figure, but she was a woman of wonderful shrewdness and
self-control, and she asked:

"What may be your business with me?"

"You are acquainted, madam, with a young man named August Wagner? I
believe he claims to be a baron."

The woman spoke very slowly, as though measuring every word.

"I know the baron; I have befriended him."

"Yes, madam, no doubt, and I fear he has taken advantage of your
kindness."

The woman trembled.

"Taken advantage of my kindness?"

"Yes, madam."

"You must be mistaken."

"I am not mistaken, and I thought I would come to you first--yes, come
to you before I saw him, because I know you are deeply interested in
him."

"Only in a general way."

"Don't say that, madam."

"Why not?"

"Simply because the statement does not agree with information I have
received."

"What information have you received?"

"I have been informed that you are very deeply interested in the young
man."

"It is not true; I have sought to aid him, that is all."

"Again, madam, I am sorry to hear you say that."

"And again why?"

"Because I have been informed that you take a _motherly_ interest in
young Wagner."

The woman's face became ghastly.

"Who was your officious informant?"

"I am not at liberty to tell at present."

"Will you tell me how young Wagner has taken advantage of my interest in
him?"

"I will."

"Do so."

"He got me to cash a draft for him."

"Dear me, is that all?"

"Yes, madam, that is all."

"I know you will find the draft is good and will be paid."

"You know it will be paid?"

"Yes; but why did you come to me?"

"The draft purports to have been accepted by your husband."

The woman still maintained her coolness, and said:

"Then my husband will pay it on maturity."

"Oh, that would be all right, but I have received information which
leads me to desire that your husband should acknowledge the acceptance
as genuine."

The woman began to break up, and she demanded in eager tones:

"Has my husband repudiated the acceptance?"

"Not yet, madam, simply because I have not presented the draft. I
thought I would come to you first."

"Do you believe the draft a forgery?"

"In fact, madam, I have the most positive evidence in that direction."

The woman meditated a moment, and then said:

"This rash young man, can it be possible that in anticipation of
remittances he has dared do this?"

"It so appears, madam."

"I must save him. If it is a forged note my husband must not know it.
Yes, poor young man, how I pity him! and I must save him, and I will
save him."

"That is good and kind of you, madam."

"Yes, I will save him; I will accept the draft myself."

"You are very kind, madam."

"I cannot bear to see the young man humiliated."

"You do not desire to see him humiliated?"

"I do not, I will not."

"Then, madam, you must think of some other way of saving him, for your
acceptance of the draft is not a sufficient security for me. Now if you
will persuade your husband to acknowledge the acceptance that will save
any humiliation."



CHAPTER IX.

JACK AT HIS BEST--THE HEARTLESS MILLIONAIRE--A TRICK
THAT BROUGHT RESULTS--A CONFERENCE--TERRIBLE
INTIMATIONS--THE MYSTERY CLEARED UP--SAFE BUT GREAT
WORK DEMANDED.


"Oh, no, no," exclaimed the woman.

"Then pay me the cash."

"It is not convenient at present, but I will give you my note in
exchange for the one you hold."

"I cannot accept your note, madam."

"You cannot accept my note?"

"No, madam."

"I am surprised; do you fear non-payment?"

"I do."

"Will you explain?"

"Certainly; I have received information that the baron has quite a
number of notes out with your name on them and the name of your
husband."

The detective had struck the fatal blow; the woman wilted.

"You must have mercy on the young man," she exclaimed.

"It is not in my way, madam, to show mercy. What I need is money--my own
money."

"I will give you a note in double the amount."

"But, madam, I could not accept your note, no, and now I would not
accept your husband's note, for I have information that you and the
baron, your son, have so involved him that he will be a ruined man if he
saves your honor and credit. I cannot stand to lose, but, madam, I will
see you again. You will need time to think and time to confer with the
baron. I will call again."

The detective rose; the woman was really overwhelmed.

The Spaniard evidently knew the truth--the whole truth--knew that the
baron was really her son. She did not bid the Spaniard to stay; she did
need time to think, and she walked the floor in the agony of her
thoughts. Then she rang for a messenger boy and sent a hurried note, and
in the meantime she had prepared to go forth to the street veiled, and
the detective, having worked a change, was at hand, and he fell to her
"shadow," and he muttered:

"This drama is approaching its end; the play is most over; the curtain
will soon go down."

The woman went to the very same hotel where she had met the baron once
before. She did not enter the dining-room, but proceeded to a room. Jack
was on hand. He had learned that the baron had secured a room in the
hotel and had been living there for some days, and with his usual
foresightedness the detective under a "cover" had secured a room in the
same hotel, thinking that the time might come when he would desire to
watch the baron and his visitors. He waited for the woman to enter the
baron's room and then quickly he entered the room he had secured.

Right here we desire to state that this securing of adjacent rooms when
detectives are on a "lay" is a very common proceeding. It is done daily,
it is being done to-day, and will be done in the future. It is indeed
one of the most frequently adopted methods of the profession, and it is
a common event also to place a detective as a pretended criminal in the
same cell or the adjacent cell to a criminal, with a view to catch his
mutterings awake or asleep, or to listen to conversations between the
wretched man and his visitors.

Jack was all right; he wanted to learn facts and it was delightful to
feel that he had run these schemers down to a point where he could
listen to their mutual explanations.

The baron was in his room. This was a chance in the woman's favor, and
upon her appearance he exclaimed:

"You here?"

"Yes, I am here."

The baron had gone to his room following his little chat with our hero.
He had passed the time in a very uncomfortable manner, and of course the
arrival of Mrs. Richards was a great surprise.

We wish to state one fact to our readers: Our hero could have "closed
in" on the two schemers, but he was seeking certain facts which they
could have withheld. He desired to know why they had taken such a sudden
interest in Amalie Speir, why they had commenced to scheme and make it
appear that the fair girl was dead. While seeking this information he
was proceeding very slowly; he desired to gain it rather than attempt to
force it, for in the latter attempt he might fail. He knew that neither
Mrs. Speir nor her daughter knew the motive--that is, so he had
decided--and his moves were intended, as stated, to gain information
from the schemers themselves.

Mrs. Richards sat down; her face was pale and she was laboring under
great excitement, as the baron observed the instant she entered the
room. When she did gain sufficient composure she said:

"What have you been doing?"

"I do not understand."

"That last acceptance----"

"You knew all about it; you knew we needed the money to cover another
transaction."

"But you have been trapped."

"Trapped?" ejaculated the young man.

"Yes, trapped."

"By whom?"

"This scoundrel Tavares."

The baron almost fainted as he fell back on a sofa and gazed with
starting eyes, and the woman proceeded and said:

"This man called upon me within an hour, and he knows all. He knows you
are my son, he knows the acceptance is forged. Were you drunk? did you
make a confidant of that man?"

"Give me time to think," said the baron in a husky tone, and then after
rising and drinking ice water from a goblet he asked:

"What does all this mean?"

"I tell you the Spaniard, Tavares, called upon me; he knows all."

"Did he call alone?"

"He did."

"How did he manage to convey his information to you?"

"He told me fact after fact with the utmost coolness and assurance."

"And he spoke English?"

"He did."

"Then I was rightly informed and we are in that man's power--yes, in his
power absolutely."

"You say you were rightly informed?"

"Yes."

"What was your information?"

"I was informed that the man Tavares was a Shylock, a designing devil.
You were right when you said I had been tricked."

"And who was your informant?"

The baron proceeded and told the whole story, all the facts known to our
readers, together with his recent meal with the detective who was his
informant.

The woman listened attentively with a glitter in her eyes, and when the
narrative had been concluded, she said:

"All is lost unless you can force matters, then we can legitimately
raise all the money we need. Your wife can get all the money she
desires, and at once."

The detective's blood ran cold. The words "your wife" were terrible in
their suggestion.

"I can do better."

"You can?"

"Yes."

"What can you do?"

"Recover that note with the forged acceptance."

"How?"

"I will invite that Spaniard to accompany me to some out-of-the-way
place; I will overcome and force him to give up the note."

"You mean you would commit murder?"

"No."

"And you must not, my son. We have gone far enough in crime. I will
never consent to the crime of murder."

"We need not murder him, we can abduct him and keep him out of the way
until our plans are completed."

"Yes, we might do that if we could succeed, then we could force matters
and let him loose later, even pay him an indemnity and return to Europe.
My good husband would not object as long as it did not cost him
anything."

"We must do something, and we must act at once."

"August, you are a brave and skillful man. Now you know the real danger
you will be able to devise some plan, but no time must be lost; we must
move rapidly. Let us get this immediate danger removed and we can bring
the other matter about at once, but it is strange how obstinate and
determined _that girl_ is. There we must force matters, but I did hope
that we would secure money enough to go to Europe. If we could carry her
to Europe we would be all right. We could furnish proofs of her
identity, secure the money, and all would be well, but she must first be
your wife, and I repeat, if she does not consent, then I will assent _to
the plan you proposed_. It is a terrible device, but she must be your
wife, and that within forty-eight hours. If she does not yield we will
force matters, and she will be glad to become the baroness."

The mystery was indeed all clearing up, and the detective overheard
every word of the conversation, and our readers can only imagine his
emotions and excitement, as we will not attempt to describe either.



CHAPTER X.

CONCLUSION.


The mother and son remained together some time discussing their plans in
detail, and when Mrs. Richards finally departed our hero was "on to the
whole scheme," as detectives say, and he prepared like a lamb led to the
slaughter to be entrapped by the bold baron, and there came a smile to
his face as he anticipated the turning of the tables at the last
moment.

Our hero was now absolutely assured that Amalie Speir lived, but that
she was unharmed thus far, and he determined to take such steps as would
insure her safety until such time as he "closed in" on her abductors and
forced her release. He determined to meet the baron that same night, and
he also resolved to be fully prepared to fall into the trap which he had
assumed was to be set for him. In the meantime, he called at the home of
Mrs. Speir; his face was radiant and his hopefulness inspired the lady,
who asked:

"Do you bring me good news?"

"Mrs. Speir, I bring you the very best of news, and it is my present
calculation that within twenty-four hours I will bring you your
daughter, pure, loving and unharmed."

"Succeed, Mr. Alvarez, and I will be the happiest woman in the world,
and what is more, I will surrender to you your half of the fortune."

Jack smiled, for we will here admit that away down in his heart he did
permit a little flame of hope to smolder that in a roundabout way he
might some day secure the whole of it practically, and something with
the fortune more precious to him than the gold and the houses and lands.

It was early in the evening when seemingly by chance the Spaniard and
the baron met, and the latter proved himself a great actor, and indeed a
shrewd man, and the chances are he might have been a winner were he
playing against a man less shrewd and adroit than our hero, but Jack was
hard to beat, as our readers will learn.

The baron proposed a luncheon, what he called "an early supper," and he
appeared to have plenty of money and made a display of it, and at the
proper moment he said:

"Mr. Tavares, I have good news for you."

"Indeed?"

"Yes."

"Good news is always more inspiring than bad news."

"Yes, and I am going to redeem my note."

"Is that so?"

"It is true; I have come into some money unexpectedly and I will pay you
in full, and as you were kind enough to take chances I will pay interest
to date; but you need not hold the note, I will redeem it."

"Good enough; I will be frank with you. I may have been misinformed, you
may have an enemy, but I was told that the note was not all right. I got
scared and I called upon Mrs. Richards. She demanded time to think the
matter over, but as you are going to pay the note, why, that makes it
all right. I will admit I am not as disinterested as I may have
appeared; I've lots of money, but I make my money tell to make more.
When will you redeem the note?"

"This very night, within the hour. I have a friend--a real friend--who
will help me out of my difficulty. It makes no difference to you who
pays the note as long as you get the money back."

"No difference whatever."

"Then the matter can be easily fixed. We will finish our supper and then
go to my friend's house. I was to meet him between eleven and twelve. He
will have the money all ready to settle up and redeem the note, and he
will hold it for me without making inquiries or seeking information."

"'A friend in need is a friend indeed,' and I will admit that I shall be
very glad to get my money back. I do not care about the character of the
note as long as I take no chances. See, I am perfectly frank."

"Yes, very frank, and that is your best quality."

The latter remark was made with a laugh and was satirical.

The young men finished their meal, went to a vaudeville show for a
little while, and then proceeded to the house where the pretended
Spaniard was to receive his money. The baron appeared to congratulate
himself at the ease with which he got the Spaniard into the trap, and
led him to an out-of-the-way house in the suburbs of Long Island City.
The Spaniard entered like a lamb led to the slaughter, and there was a
big laugh hidden away down in his bosom.

The baron led our hero to a rear room, sat down and bade his companion
be seated. Jack complied, and then there came a complete change over the
demeanor of the baron. He said:

"Tavares, you have a note?"

"Yes."

"I promised you its equivalent?"

"You did."

"I do--it's your life."

"Aha!"

"Yes, your life; I will have that note or your life. You secured it by
trick and device. I resolved to recover it by the same means, and let me
tell you, I am prepared to carry out my resolve. I have men here to aid
me."

"And this is your trick?"

"This is my trick."

"We will not waste words, August."

"No, we will not waste words."

"This is my trick."

As the detective spoke he cast aside his disguise and stood revealed.

The baron stared aghast and in a husky voice exclaimed:

"What! you are the detective?"

"I am the detective. Call for your aids and I will summon mine; the
latter are at hand."

"What does this mean?"

"It means that I have 'closed in' on you. I can send you to State's
prison on two or three charges, and your mother with you to look after
you there. Meyer, you thought you were playing your game well, but you
made a mistake from the beginning. I had you 'shadowed' on every move
you have made; there is but one way of escape for you."

"One way of escape?"

"Yes."

The baron saw that he had been beaten in the most complete manner. He
saw that indeed there was no hope for him but in the mercy of the
detective. The young man was no fool.

"How can I escape?"

"Surrender to me unharmed and uninjured Miss Amalie Speir. Do this and I
will surrender the note, and you can keep the two thousand dollars. I
permit the latter to save scandal."

"I accept your terms."

"So far so good, and now tell me why you sought to force this girl to
marry you. Tell me the whole truth and I will pay you an additional
thousand dollars."

"There is no need for me to conceal the facts."

"You are right."

"The girl is an heiress and does not know it."

"Tell me the facts."

"Her grandmother was a Mrs. Harold Stevens. Mrs. Stevens quarreled with
her husband and they separated. The husband returned to America, Mrs.
Stevens remained in Europe. Mrs. Richards made her acquaintance, and
during their intimacy Mrs. Stevens revealed the fact that she had a
daughter living in America, and that she had deposited fifty thousand
dollars to her daughter's credit to be surrendered upon identification.
She gave Mrs. Richards a picture of her child and employed her to find
the heiress, and placed matters in such shape that the money could be
paid over upon proof. Mrs. Richards failed in finding the heiress until
Miss Amalie Speir came to live with her, and then she recognized in that
girl the heiress, and determined that I should marry her, and we would
secure the deposit, which now amounts to nearly a hundred thousand
dollars."

"But Amalie is not the heiress."

"No, her mother is the heiress, but had she become my wife we were to
furnish evidence that the mother was dead, secure the money on the
girl's wonderful resemblance to the picture of her mother. The money was
left in such a manner that no legal steps were necessary."

"Amalie would not marry you?"

"No; and now the game is up."

"One more question: How did you learn that I was interested in the case
and start to deceive me when we first met?"

"We were watching the mother after the disappearance, and learned that
she had employed you. I knew all the time you were a detective, but you
have beaten me; I surrender."

That very night Jack and Gil accompanied the baron to the place where
Amalie Speir had been held a prisoner, and Jack had met face to face the
beautiful girl who had so long filled his thoughts. It was morning ere
he had finished the long story he had to relate to the beautiful girl,
and when morning came he led Amalie to her mother's home. Words will
never describe the joy and delight of that mother.

The baron quietly stole off to Europe. Jack had no desire to detain him
or punish any one. He had wrought a successful "shadow" to the end and
was content.

And now comes the most pleasant part of our narrative.

Mrs. Speir's heart was filled with gratitude, and the daughter, the
beautiful Amalie, learned to admit more than gratitude. She gave her
heart to the brave, persistent and determined young man who had done her
and her mother such signal service, and it was a glorious occasion when
Jack led to the altar the bride he had won in such a strange and weird
manner. We could write more, but we believe we have told the whole tale
as concerns _facts_, and comments we will leave to our readers.


THE END.



The World's Finger is the title of the most absorbing detective
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[Transcriber's Note: The original edition did not
contain a Table of Contents. A Table of Contents has
been prepared for this electronic edition. In
addition, the following typographical errors present
in the original book have been corrected.

In Chapter IV, "No, direct news" was changed to "No
direct news", "Did you ever seen" was changed to
"Did you ever see", and a colon was added after "but
after a moment he said".

In Chapter V, "one of the loveliest creaures" has
been changed to "one of the loveliest creatures".

In Chapter VI, "the demanor of the baron" has been
changed to "the demeanor of the baron".

In Chapter VII, a semicolon following "preyed upon
her health" was changed to a period.

In the advertisement for Mrs. Winslow's Soothing
Syrup, the hyphen in the word "fac-simile" was
present in the original text.]





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