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Title: A Cigarette Clew; - "Salted" For a Million
Author: Carter, Nicholas (House name)
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 Cigarette Clew; - "Salted" For a Million" ***


    _The Biggest Line of Copyright Detective Literature Published_

                          THE MAGNET LIBRARY

                   OF FASCINATING DETECTIVE STORIES

                         PUBLISHED EVERY WEEK


This line has become famous for its excellent stories of the detection
of crime. Of late, it has taken truly remarkable strides in the public’s
favor. The reason for this is, that every book is a marvel of its kind.
They are high-class tales, not of the “blood and thunder” order, but
with plausable plots which hold the reader fairly captivated with
breathless expectation. Among these are the stories of the adventures of
Nick Carter and his clever assistants; of “Old Spicer,” the clever
private detective, whose exploits are among the most remarkable ever
performed by any detective. If you are in search of good, interesting
matter, a decided change from that to which you have been accustomed,
purchase a few of these titles. They will not only please and interest
you, but will give you a clear insight into the methods of the various
classes of criminals.


To be Published During July

400--The Living Mark             By Nicholas Carter
399--An Oath of Vengeance       By John K. Stafford
398--Under a Black Veil          By Nicholas Carter


To be Published During June

397--A Crime Without a Name         By Dick Stewart
396--A Baffled Oath              By Nicholas Carter
395--A Kentucky Moonshiner       By Inspector Stark
394--Playing for a Fortune       By Nicholas Carter


To be Published During May

393--The Convent Mystery        By John K. Stafford
392--With Links of Steel         By Nicholas Carter
391--A Villain’s Work               By Dick Stewart
390--A Royal Thief               By Nicholas Carter


To be Published During April

389--A Deed of Darkness               By Inspector Stark
388--The Diamond Trail                By Nicholas Carter
387--Under the Surface               By John K. Stafford
386--Down and Out                     By Nicholas Carter


To be Published During March

385--The Search for a Motive             By Dick Stewart
384--A Cigarette Clew                 By Nicholas Carter
383--The Mafia’s Victim               By Inspector Stark
382--A Villainous Scheme              By Nicholas Carter

       *       *       *       *       *

381--A Millionaire’s Crime           By John K. Stafford
380--The Price of Treachery           By Nicholas Carter
379--Confederated Rogues                 By Dick Stewart
378--A Tangled Case                   By Nicholas Carter
377--The Telegraph Clew               By Inspector Stark
376--A Mysterious “Graft”             By Nicholas Carter
375--A Cruel Suspicion                 By Fay P. Rathbun
374--Trapped In His Own Net           By Nicholas Carter
373--A Bid for a Life                  By Scott Campbell
372--A Scientific Forger              By Nicholas Carter
371--The Signs of the Dagger              By H. O. Cooke
370--The Ruby Pin                     By Nicholas Carter
369--The Tell-tale Watch                 By Meta De Vere
368--In the Gloom of Night            By Nicholas Carter
367--Who Was He?                        By Philip Little
366--Ahead of the Game                By Nicholas Carter
365--A “Spurious Note” Maker         By John K. Stafford
364--Following a Chance Clew          By Nicholas Carter
363--A Political Plotter                 By Dick Stewart
362--A Broken Trail                   By Nicholas Carter
361--The Shadow of an Assassin        By Inspector Stark
360--A Missing Man                    By Nicholas Carter
359--A Daring Express Messenger      By John K. Stafford
358--A Mysterious Foe                 By Nicholas Carter
357--A Game of “Draw”                    By Dick Stewart
356--The Queen of Diamonds            By Nicholas Carter
355--An Unexpected Move                By Scott Campbell
354--An Ingenious Stratagem           By Nicholas Carter
353--The Missing Bracelet             By Inspector Stark
352--The Master Villain               By Nicholas Carter
351--Smugglers at Odds                       By John K. Stafford
350--Playing a Lone Hand                      By Nicholas Carter
349--The “Green Goods” Speculator                By Dick Stewart
348--The Mystic Diagram                       By Nicholas Carter
347--A Queen of Blackmailers        By the author of “Seth Hunt”
346--The Cab Driver’s Secret                  By Nicholas Carter
345--The Deed of a Night            By the author of “Nat Tyler”
344--Against Desperate Odds                   By Nicholas Carter
343--The Stolen Jewels                           By “Old Spicer”
342--The Secret Panel                         By Nicholas Carter
341--Two Conspirators               By the author of “Seth Hunt”
340--The Criminal Link                        By Nicholas Carter
339--The Confession of a Thug       By the author of “Nat Tyler”
338--The Wizard of the Cue                    By Nicholas Carter
337--The Palace of Chance                        By “Old Spicer”
336--Driven From Cover                        By Nicholas Carter
335--The Woman in Red                          By Scott Campbell
334--Beyond Pursuit                           By Nicholas Carter
333--A Question of Evidence                      By “Old Spicer”
332--The Certified Check                      By Nicholas Carter
331--A Secret Suspicion             By the author of “Seth Hunt”
330--The Toss of a Penny                      By Nicholas Carter
329--The Price of “Protection”      By the author of “Nat Tyler”
328--A Detective’s Theory                     By Nicholas Carter
327--The Tattooed Wrist                          By “Old Spicer”
326--A Bundle of Clews                        By Nicholas Carter
325--The Cross in the Dust          By the author of “Seth Hunt”
324--The “Hot Air” Clew                       By Nicholas Carter
323--Sherlock Holmes. Vol. II                  By A. Conan Doyle
322--Sherlock Holmes. Vol. I                   By A. Conan Doyle
321--The Missing Bullet             By the author of “Nat Tyler”
320--The Cloak of Guilt                       By Nicholas Carter
319--Tightening the Coils                        By “Old Spicer”
318--The Cashier’s Secret                     By Nicholas Carter
317--A Midnight Vigil               By the author of “Nat Tyler”
316--Circumstantial Evidence                  By Nicholas Carter
315--In the Shadow                               By “Old Spicer”
314--The Barrel Mystery                       By Nicholas Carter
313--Cunning Against Force                         By Tom Steele
312--Heard in the Dark                        By Nicholas Carter
311--A Transatlantic Puzzle         By the author of “Seth Hunt”
310--The Crown Diamond                        By Nicholas Carter
309--The Power of a Villain         By the author of “Nat Tyler”
308--The Photographer’s Evidence              By Nicholas Carter
307--A Desperate Game                            By “Old Spicer”
306--A Ring of Dust                           By Nicholas Carter
305--The Tell-Tale Tattoo                         By Jack Sharpe
304--The Twin Mystery                         By Nicholas Carter
303--The Branded Hand               By the author of “Seth Hunt”
302--Under False Colors                       By Nicholas Carter
301--The Wall Street Swindlers                    By Jack Sharpe
300--A Blow for Vengeance                       By Nicholas Carter
299--The Sleepless Eye                By the author of “Nat Tyler”
298--A Masterpiece of Crime                     By Nicholas Carter
297--The Shadow of Guilt                           By “Old Spicer”
296--The Guilty Governor                        By Nicholas Carter
295--Tracked by a Pin                         By Richard Hackstaff
294--The Blood-Red Badge                        By Nicholas Carter
293--On the Stroke of Midnight        By the author of “Seth Hunt”
292--A Great Conspiracy                         By Nicholas Carter
291--In Terror’s Grasp                By the author of “Nat Tyler”
290--The Hole in the Vault                      By Nicholas Carter
289--The Crippled Hand                     By Frederick S. Stewart
288--The Council of Death                       By Nicholas Carter
287--A Dead Witness                                By “Old Spicer”
286--A Bonded Villain                           By Nicholas Carter
285--A Rascal’s Nerve                 By the author of “Seth Hunt”
284--A Blackmailer’s Bluff                      By Nicholas Carter
283--The Crimson Glove                By the author of “Nat Tyler”
282--A Race Track Gamble                        By Nicholas Carter
281--The Stroke of a Knife                     By Burnham F. Mason
280--The Seal of Death                          By Nicholas Carter
279--On the Brink of Ruin                          By “Old Spicer”
278--A Sharper’s Downfall                       By Nicholas Carter
277--An Eye for an Eye                By the author of “Seth Hunt”
276--A Checkmated Scoundrel                     By Nicholas Carter
275--The Banker’s Millions            By the author of “Nat Tyler”
274--Paid With Death                            By Nicholas Carter
273--The Rogue With a Past                        By Robert Wesley
272--The Chain of Evidence                      By Nicholas Carter
271--A High-Class Swindler                         By “Old Spicer”
270--The Fatal Prescription                     By Nicholas Carter
269--The Man Who Knew                 By the author of “Seth Hunt”
268--Hounded to Death                           By Nicholas Carter
267--An Unfortunate Rogue             By the author of “Nat Tyler”
266--A Stroke of Policy                         By Nicholas Carter
265--The Three Finger Marks                        By “Old Spicer”
264--Two Villains in One                       By Nicholas Carter.
263--The Loaded Orange                          By Gilbert Jerome.
262--A False Combination                       By Nicholas Carter.
261--A Matter of Thousands           By the author of “Old Spicer”
260--At the Knife’s Point                      By Nicholas Carter.
259--The Band of Mystery                          By Maro O. Rolfe
258--Man Against Man                           By Nicholas Carter.
257--The Man Who Made Diamonds        By the author of “Nat Tyler”
256--The Vial of Death                         By Nicholas Carter.
255--The Sport of Fate              By the author of “Old Spicer.”
254--Behind a Mask                             By Nicholas Carter.
253--The Fatal Request                            By A. L. Harris.
252--The Man and His Price                     By Nicholas Carter.
251--The Nine of Hearts                          By B. L. Farjeon.
250--A Double-Handed Game                      By Nicholas Carter.
249--Old Stonewall, Detective                 By Judson R. Taylor.
248--The Toss of a Coin                        By Nicholas Carter.
247--The Results of a Duel                By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
246--Nick Carter’s Death Warrant               By Nicholas Carter.
245--A Victim of Villainy                      By F. L. Broughton.
244--A Trusted Rogue                           By Nicholas Carter.
243--The Man and the Crime                      By Harry Rockwood.
242--Run to Earth                              By Nicholas Carter.
241--From Thief to Detective                       By Fergus Hume.
240--Weaving the Web                           By Nicholas Carter.
239--The Man from the South                   By Judson R. Taylor.
238--The Claws of the Tiger                    By Nicholas Carter.
237--A Kidnapped Millionaire             By Richard A. Wainwright.
236--A Move in the Dark                        By Nicholas Carter.
235--True Detective Tales                        By Maurice Moser.
234--The Tell-Tale Photographs                 By Nicholas Carter.
233--The Secret of the Missing Checks           By Harry Rockwood.
232--The Red Signal                            By Nicholas Carter.
231--The Crime of the Golden Gully                By Gilbert Rock.
230--A Race for Ten Thousand                   By Nicholas Carter.
229--The Dexter Bank Robbery                    By Harry Rockwood.
228--A Syndicate of Rascals                    By Nicholas Carter.
227--From Clew to Climax                        By Will N. Harben.
226--A Deal in Diamonds                        By Nicholas Carter.
225--Tracked by Fate                               By Fergus Hume.
224--Played to a Finish                        By Nicholas Carter.
223--Found Dead                                    By Hero Strong.
222--A Prince of Rogues                        By Nicholas Carter.
221--Other People’s Money                       By Emile Gaboriau.
220--The Dumb Witness, and Other Stories       By Nicholas Carter.
219--A Hidden Clew                    By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
218--The Man from London                       By Nicholas Carter.
217--Baron Trigault’s Vengeance                 By Emile Gaboriau.
216--The Count’s Millions                       By Emile Gaboriau.
215--The Seal of Silence                       By Nicholas Carter.
214--The Missing Cashier              By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
213--Millions at Stake, and Other Stories      By Nicholas Carter.
212--A Mystery Still                      By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
211--In Letters of Fire                        By Nicholas Carter.
210--An Excellent Knave                           By J. F. Molloy.
209--A Triple Crime                            By Nicholas Carter.
208--The Condemned Door                   By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
207--The Blow of a Hammer, and Other Stories   By Nicholas Carter.
206--The Portland Place Mystery       By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
205--A Bogus Clew                              By Nicholas Carter.
204--Hunted Down                     By Richard Ashton Wainwright.
203--The Price of a Secret                     By Nicholas Carter.
202--The Lady of the Lilacs           By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
201--The Steel Casket, and Other Stories       By Nicholas Carter.
200--Detective Against Detective            By Donald J. McKenzie.
199--The Man at the Window                        By Nicholas Carter.
198--Stairs of Sand                      By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
197--The Coleraine Tragedy                       By Eugene T. Sawyer.
196--The Queen of Knaves, and Other Stories,      By Nicholas Carter.
195--Sealed Lips                                   By Scott Campbell.
194--The Tiger’s Head Mystery                    By Eugene T. Sawyer.
193--The Missing Cotton King                      By Nicholas Carter.
192--A Dangerous Quest                   By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
191--The Murray Hill Mystery                      By Nicholas Carter.
190--The Fate of Austin Craige                     By Scott Campbell.
189--The Man of Mystery                           By Nicholas Carter.
188--A Strike for Millions                       By Eugene T. Sawyer.
187--The Wall Street Wonder                    By Donald J. McKenzie.
186--A Desperate Chance                           By Nicholas Carter.
185--A Supernatural Clew                           By Scott Campbell.
184--The Secret of the Diamond           By Ernest De Lancey Pierson.
183--Hands Up                                       By J. H. Bethune.
182--The Bottle with the Black Label              By Nicholas Carter.
181--The Man Outside                               By Scott Campbell.
180--The Watertown Mystery                         By Harry Rockwood.
179--Caught at Last                                  By Dick Donovan.
178--The Handkerchief Clue                         By Harry Rockwood.
177--A Scrap of Black Lace                        By Nicholas Carter.
176--The Tragedy of Ascott Mills                   By Scott Campbell.
175--The Secret of the Marionettes           By E. De Lancey Pierson.
174--A Princess of Crime                          By Nicholas Carter.
173--The Honor of a Black Sheep                    By Scott Campbell.
172--Linked to Crime                 By Barclay North (W. C. Hudson).
171--The Silent Passenger                         By Nicholas Carter.
170--The Doctor’s Secret                           By Scott Campbell.
169--The Black Carnation                              By Fergus Hume.
168--Brought to Bay                               By Nicholas Carter.
167--The Links in the Chain                        By Scott Campbell.
166--Dr. Villagos                            By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
165--Held for Trial                               By Nicholas Carter.
164--The Reporter Detective’s Triumph              By Scott Campbell.
163--Phil Scott, the Detective                   By Judson R. Taylor.
162--Nick Carter’s Star Pupils                    By Nicholas Carter.
161--A Plot for Millions                           By Scott Campbell.
160--Harry Williams, New York Detective           By F. L. Broughton.
159--A Framework of Fate                          By Nicholas Carter.
158--The Lion of the Law                           By Scott Campbell.
157--By a Hair’s Breadth                    By Edith Sessions Tupper.
156--A Victim of Circumstances                    By Nicholas Carter.
155--Mrs. Donald Dyke, Detective                   By Harry Rockwood.
154--Driven to the Wall                            By Scott Campbell.
153--Nick Carter’s Clever Ruse                    By Nicholas Carter.
152--Fifteen Detective Stories        By Police Captains of New York.
151--The Disappearance of Mr. Derwent                 By Thomas Cobb.
150--Lady Velvet                                  By Nicholas Carter.
149--A Mystery of the Fast Mail                    By Byron D. Adsit.
148--Gipsy Blair, the Western Detective          By Judson R. Taylor.
147--Nick Carter’s Retainer                       By Nicholas Carter.
146--The Stevedore Mystery                          By Barclay North.
145--The Railway Detective                         By Harry Rockwood.
144--The Twelve Wise Men                          By Nicholas Carter.
143--An Exchanged Identity                   By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
142--A Seven Days’ Mystery                     By Frederic R. Burton.
141--Nick Carter Down East          By the author of Nicholas Carter.
140--Detective Reynolds’ Hardest Cas               By Gabriel Macias.e
139--Fritz, the German Detective                 By Judson R. Taylor.
138--Crossed Wires                                By Nicholas Carter.
137--Donald Dyke, the Yankee Detective            By Harry Rockwood.
136--In Peril of His Life                         By Emile Gaboriau.
135--The Crime of the French Café                By Nicholas Carter.
134--By Whose Hand?                        By Edith Sessions Tupper.
133--The Piccadilly Puzzle                           By Fergus Hume.
132--Nick Carter’s Girl Detective                By Nicholas Carter.
131--The Dugdale Millions                          By Barclay North.
130--A Millionaire’s Folly                          By L. E. Smyles.
129--The Man Who Stole Millions                  By Nicholas Carter.
128--The Caruthers Affair                         By Will N. Harben.
127--The Severed Hand                       By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
126--A Game of Craft                             By Nicholas Carter.
125--The Pomfret Mystery                            By A. D. Vinton.
124--The Trail of the Barrow                        By James Mooney.
123--The Elevated Railroad Mystery               By Nicholas Carter.
122--The Mystery of Orcival                       By Emile Gaboriau.
121--The Man from Manchester                        By Dick Donovan.
120--The Twelve Tin Boxes                        By Nicholas Carter.
119--The Reporter Detective                   By Donald J. McKenzie.
118--Old Quartz                                 By Eugene T. Sawyer.
117--A Herald Personal                           By Nicholas Carter.
116--520 Per Cent.; or, The Great Franklin Syndicate,
                                                   By Barclay North.
115--The Detective Tales of Edgar Allan Poe.
114--The Man Who Vanished                        By Nicholas Carter.
113--The Man with a Thumb                          By Barclay North.
112--The Garden Court Mystery                   By Burford Delannoy.
111--The Stolen Race-Horse                       By Nicholas Carter.
110--The Workingman Detective                 By Donald J. McKenzie.
109--Blackmail                             By Harrie Irving Hancock.
108--Nick Carter’s Clever Protégé                By Nicholas Carter.
107--The Passenger from Scotland Yard                 By H. F. Wood.
106--Shadowed by a Detective                   By Virginia Champlin.
105--A Bite of an Apple                          By Nicholas Carter.
104--A Past Master of Crime                   By Donald J. McKenzie.
103--Old Mortality                                  By Young Baxter.
102--Bruce Angelo, the City Detective           By Judson R. Taylor.
101--The Stolen Pay-Train                        By Nicholas Carter.
100--The Diamond Button                            By Barclay North.
99--Gideon Drexel’s Millions                     By Nicholas Carter.
98--Tom and Jerry                               By Judson R. Taylor.
97--The Puzzle of Five Pistols                   By Nicholas Carter.
96--No. 13 Rue Marlot                          By Rene du Pont Jest.
95--Sealed Orders; or, The Triple Mystery        By Nicholas Carter.
94--Vivier, of Vivier, Longman & Co., Bankers      By Barclay North.
93--Adventures of Harrison Keith, Detective      By Nicholas Carter.
92--Van, the Government Detective               By Judson R. Taylor.
91--The Great Money-Order Swindle                By Nicholas Carter.
90--On the Rack                                    By Barclay North.
89--The Detective’s Pretty Neighbor              By Nicholas Carter.
88--The North Walk Mystery                        By Will N. Harben.
87--Nick Carter and the Green Goods Men.
86--Brant Adams                                 By Judson R. Taylor.
85--A Dead Man’s Grip                            By Nicholas Carter.
84--The Inspector’s Puzzle                       By Charles Matthew.
83--The Crescent Brotherhood                     By Nicholas Carter.
82--The Masked Detective                        By Judson R. Taylor.
81--Wanted by Two Clients                        By Nicholas Carter.
80--The Poker King                                By Marline Manley.
79--The Sign of the Crossed Knives               By Nicholas Carter.
78--The Chosen Man                              By Judson R. Taylor.
77--The Van Alstine Case                         By Nicholas Carter.
76--Face to Face                              By Donald J. McKenzie.
75--The Clever Celestial                         By Nicholas Carter.
74--The Twin Detectives                               By K. F. Hill.
73--Two Plus Two                                 By Nicholas Carter.
71--The Diamond Mine Case                        By Nicholas Carter.
70--Little Lightning                        By Police Captain James.
69--Detective Bob Bridger                           By R. M. Taylor.
68--The Double Shuffle Club                      By Nicholas Carter.
67--The Mystery of a Madstone                         By K. F. Hill.
66--The Detective’s Clew                             By O. L. Adams.
65--Found on the Beach                           By Nicholas Carter.
64--The Red Camellia                        By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
63--The Chevalier Casse-Cou                 By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
62--A Fair Criminal                              By Nicholas Carter.
61--The Maltese Cross                           By Eugene T. Sawyer.
60--A Chase Around the World                       By Mariposa Weir.
59--A Millionaire Partner                        By Nicholas Carter.
58--Muertalma; or, The Poisoned Pin                By Marmaduke Dey.
57--The Vestibule Limited Mystery                 By Marline Manley.
56--At Thompson’s Ranch                          By Nicholas Carter.
55--His Great Revenge, Vol. II              By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
54--His Great Revenge, Vol. I               By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
53--An Accidental Password                       By Nicholas Carter.
52--The Post Office Detective                    By George W. Goode.
51--The Los Huecos Mystery                      By Eugene T. Sawyer.
50--The Man from India                           By Nicholas Carter.
49--At Odds with Scotland Yard               By Nicholas Carter.
48--The Great, Travers Case                 By Dr. Mark Merrick.
47--The Mystery of a Hansom Cab                  By Fergus Hume.
46--Check No. 777                            By Nicholas Carter.
45--Old Specie, The Treasury Detective        By Marline Manley.
44--The Blue Veil                       By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
43--Among the Nihilists                      By Nicholas Carter.
42--The Revenue Detective               By Police Captain James.
41--John Needham’s Double                      By Joseph Hatton.
40--The Mountaineer Detective                     By C. W. Cobb.
39--Among the Counterfeiters                 By Nicholas Carter.
38--The Matapan Affair                  By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
37--The Prairie Detective              By Leander P. Richardson.
36--The Crime of the Opera House, Vol. II.   By F. Du Boisgobey.
35--The Crime of the Opera House, Vol. I.    By F. Du Boisgobey.
34--The Society Detective                     By Oscar Maitland.
33--The Convict Colonel                 By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
32--A Mysterious Case                             By K. F. Hill.
31--The Red Lottery Ticket              By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
30--The Bag of Diamonds                 By George Manville Fenn.
29--The Clique of Gold                        By Emile Gaboriau.
28--Under His Thumb                       By Donald J. McKenzie.
27--The Steel Necklace                  By Fortune Du Boisgobey.
26--File No. 113                              By Emile Gaboriau.
25--The Detective’s Triumph                   By Emile Gaboriau.
24--The Detective’s Dilemma                   By Emile Gaboriau.
23--Evidence by Telephone                    By Nicholas Carter.
22--The Champdoce Mystery                     By Emile Gaboriau.
21--A Deposit Vault Puzzle                   By Nicholas Carter.
20--Caught in the Net                         By Emile Gaboriau.
19--A Chance Discovery                       By Nicholas Carter.
18--The Gamblers’ Syndicate                  By Nicholas Carter.
17--The Piano Box Mystery                    By Nicholas Carter.
16--A Woman’s Hand                           By Nicholas Carter.
15--The Widow Lerouge                         By Emile Gaboriau.
14--Caught in the Toils                      By Nicholas Carter.
13--The Mysterious Mail Robbery              By Nicholas Carter.
12--Playing a Bold Game                      By Nicholas Carter.
11--Fighting Against Millions                By Nicholas Carter.
10--The Old Detective’s Pupil                By Nicholas Carter.
 9--A Stolen Identity                        By Nicholas Carter.
 8--An Australian Klondike                   By Nicholas Carter.
 7--The American Marquis                     By Nicholas Carter.
 6--A Wall Street Haul                       By Nicholas Carter.
 5--The Crime of a Countess                  By Nicholas Carter.
 4--Tracked Across the Atlantic              By Nicholas Carter.
 3--A Titled Counterfeiter                   By Nicholas Carter.
 2--The Great Enigma                         By Nicholas Carter.
 1--A Klondike Claim                         By Nicholas Carter.



                       _The Radium of all Humor_

                            [Illustration:

                               _Comical
                              Confessions
                               of Clever
                              Comedians_

                           _By_ F.P. PITZER
                             - EDITED BY -
                                DEWOLF
                                HOPPER
                                   ]


Search the world over and you cannot find more genuine, original humor
than that contained in “Comical Confessions of Clever Comedians.” This
little volume has been compiled after the fashion of a continuous
performance. There is an All-Star Cast, or we might say a regular
“Whoop-De-Doo,” introducing such well known comedians as DeWolf Hopper,
Francis Wilson, Lew Dockstadter, Frank Daniels, Dave Warfield, Joe
Weber, and others. Just imagine what there is in store for the reading
public when a glance at the title page reveals the fact that DeWolf
Hopper, the hero of “Wang,” is the editor or manager of this All-Star
Vaudeville Company.

Issued in a very attractive cloth binding. Price, 75c. postpaid.


Street & Smith, Publishers, 238 William St., New York City



                           A CIGARETTE CLEW;

                                  OR,

                        “SALTED” FOR A MILLION


                                  BY
                            NICHOLAS CARTER
                               AUTHOR OF

    “In the Gloom of Night,” “The Ruby Pin,” “A Scientific Forger,”
         “Trapped in His Own Net,” “A Mysterious Graft,” etc.

                        [Illustration: S AND S
                                NOVELS]


                               NEW YORK
                      STREET & SMITH, PUBLISHERS
                          238 WILLIAM STREET


                            Copyright, 1905
                           By STREET & SMITH

                           A Cigarette Clew



                           A CIGARETTE CLEW.



CHAPTER I.

WANTED: TWO MEN.


“Well, Chick, it’s good to strike little old New York again.”

Nick Carter jumped down from the railroad car and shook himself like a
huge dog as his feet touched the stone flagging of the Grand Central
Station.

“You’re not more glad to see New York than New York is to see you,”
piped a shrill voice, and Patsy, Nick’s younger assistant, darted
forward to greet his chief and Chick, who were elbowing their way
through the crowd on the arrival platform.

The great detective had been out West on a puzzling case in which he had
to run to earth a combination of Montana swindlers. Nick and his chief
assistant had done splendid work, but there were still two members of
the swindling gang to be accounted for.

Patsy’s first question as they jumped into a cab was:

“What’s the latest from Montana?”

“We landed all of the crooks but two,” said Nick. “They took fright a
month ago when they heard we were to take the case and it has been
reported that they have come East. In that case, Patsy, you may have a
chance to bag the men who slipped through my hands.”

“Nothing would please me better,” was Patsy’s retort, and Nick laughed
at the boy’s eagerness.

“I bet Patsy will strike the fellows before you can say Jack Robinson,”
put in Chick, with a grin.

“You win your bet,” said Patsy, coolly. “I think I can put you on the
trail of at least one of the men you want. The other fellow will have to
stand till I look around a little.”

“What!”

“What!”

The word leaped from the lips of both Nick and Chick.

It was Patsy’s turn to grin now.

“When you boys stop jollying,” he said, “we will get down to business.”

“See here, Patsy, you’ve got news,” cried Nick. “Out with it.”

“Well, the truth is I have just come from an interview with a man who is
trying to get back his senses after a cold plunge in the Sound. The cold
plunge was not of his own choosing. He was thrown in at midnight, and
the man who flung him in was a Westerner. Now are you interested?”

“But there are more Westerners than one in the world,” objected Nick.

“Yes, but this one was called Yasmar.”

“Singular name for a Westerner; but that don’t help us any. The man we
want is a fellow called Ramsay.”

“And Ramsay spelled backward is Yasmar,” added Patsy.

“By Jove, you’re right! I never thought of that.”

“No,” retorted Patsy; “it’s a good thing you have a man of brains on
your staff.”

“Let that pass,” said Nick, smiling. “Any old way, this is bully
information. The report was true, then, and Ramsay and his pal have
really come East and are at their tricks again.”

“Don’t know about the pal, but I think we have come up with Ramsay all
right. The man he attacked is waiting for you at the office.”

“Great Scott, Patsy; that’s the most important piece of information you
have brought us.”

“And I kept it till the end for a good reason.”

“The reason?” demanded Nick.

“Oh, simply that the man himself is in no great hurry, and, besides,
he’s a good deal better off in Nick Carter’s study than anywhere else I
can think of. You will say the same when you hear his story.”

“Well, you need not go into the details since you have the man at home,
but what are the outstanding facts in the matter?”

“They’re not hard to tell. This man, his name is John Lansing, was on
board a Fall River boat bound from New York to Boston, when he was
attacked by Ramsay--or Yasmar as he calls himself now--and was flung
over the side. He escaped with his life and came to New York to give you
the story.

“I told him you were expected back in town by this train, and he said
he’d wait till I came back with you. He’s had a pretty close shave and
he was just a bit hysterical, but I quieted him down and I guess you
will find him quite rational when you reach home.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Half an hour later Nick was closeted with the man who had narrowly
escaped death in the waters of the Sound.

Mr. John Lansing he found to be a young man hardly more than out of his
teens.

His face was pale and on his left temple there was a large patch of
court-plaster.

“My younger assistant has told me something of your startling
adventure,” said Nick, “and I am especially interested in the matter,
for I suspect that your assailant is a man who escaped me in the West.”

“You mean Yasmar?”

“Yes, or rather Ramsay, to give him his right name. Since coming East he
has seen fit to spell his name backward--the thinnest kind of an alias
conceivable. But please let me have your story from the beginning.”

“First let me ask, Mr. Carter, have you seen a copy of the evening
paper?”

“Yes, I glanced hastily at one, and noticed your case.”

“That is what I wanted to know. What do the papers say about me?”

“Not much; they simply print a dispatch from Boston, saying that Mr.
John Lansing has disappeared.”

“Any other particulars?”

“Oh, yes, the usual gush about your being such a good man and all that.
They mentioned, by the way, that you left New York on a Fall River boat
Monday night with Mr. Yasmar, and that the last Mr. Yasmar saw of you
was on Tuesday afternoon.”

“Yes, I supposed he was spreading such a report,” said Lansing, “but
the truth is, Mr. Carter, the last this man Yasmar saw of me was off the
Long Island coast at midnight Monday, when he threw me overboard; and
that brings me to the matter about which I wanted your help. You are the
only man living who can help me; the question is will you do it?”

“Tell me your whole story first and then I will answer you.”

“I will be as brief as I can,” said Lansing.

“My parents are dead, and my sister Louise and I live with our uncle,
Horace Montgomery, on West Forty-fourth Street.

“Mr. Montgomery is our guardian, and is the trustee of certain funds
which were left to us.

“Between us, Louise and I have some five hundred thousand dollars on
interest with a trust company.

“This man Yasmar came from the West, a month or more ago, and has
interested my uncle and some Boston men in a Montana mine which he calls
the Royal Ophir.

“Mr. Montgomery, in spite of my objections, is determined to invest this
five hundred thousand in Yasmar’s mine, but I am sure that the whole
thing is a swindle from start to finish.”

“How long have you felt sure that Yasmar was a swindler?” interposed
Nick.

“I have had a feeling that he was crooked ever since my uncle first
introduced him to me.”

“Just a ‘feeling.’ No other evidence prior to what happened on the Sound
steamer Monday night?”

“No. But the fact that Yasmar hit me on the head and threw me overboard
is proof that he considered me a menace to his plans and wanted me out
of the way.”

“Of course. And then his spreading the report that you disappeared from
Boston is another convincing detail.”

“Why did he spread that report? Why didn’t he say that I committed
suicide by jumping from the boat?”

“That would have led to awkward questioning. Not only that, but if you
were dead your money would be tied up in the probate court, and your
uncle could not invest it.”

“I see. That had not occurred to me before. What a consummate villain
that man Yasmar is!”

“If he is the fellow I am looking for,” said Nick, bluntly, “I may tell
you there isn’t a more cunning scoundrel alive. But how did he manage to
get the better of you on the Sound steamer? Put in all the details of
the occurrence. They may help in working your case.”

“Well, Mr. Carter, it happened in this way. I met Yasmar on board, and
we sauntered around the deck, talking pleasantly about general affairs.
All went well till about midnight. Maybe it was ten or fifteen minutes
after. But just about that time we got down to business. Yasmar and I
were sitting on a bench in the narrow passage between the side of the
boat and the cabin, well aft where it was shady.

“There was a full moon, the sky was cloudless, and the surroundings were
almost as plain as day. But nobody seemed to care anything for the
beauty of the scene except Yasmar and myself.

“We were not, however, vastly interested ourselves in the moonlit coast
line or the white-topped waves that surged past.

“We had other things to think of just then, and I will confess that I
was giving him a piece of my mind in reference to that mining affair.

“As we talked, both of us became excited and we rose and faced one
another. In a sudden flash of anger Yasmar, who is a taller man than
myself, made a jump for my throat.

“Then he bent me backward over the steamer rail.

“For a moment he held me in that position, glaring at me like a tiger.

“‘Be a little more temperate in your speech,’ he hissed, ‘or something
will happen.’

“‘You’d kill me!’ I gasped, as he withdrew his hands.

“‘Well, something will happen,’ he repeated, threateningly.

“‘Why don’t you kill me?’ I said, with a sneer, ‘then you could have
everything your own way.’

“‘Will you be reasonable?’

“‘I am reasonable,’ I replied. ‘You come from the West, Yasmar, and
those knockdown-and-drag-out Western methods of yours won’t go in the
East.’

“He muttered something under his breath.

“‘I am armed,’ I continued, threateningly, ‘and if you lay a hand on me
again it will be at your own peril.’

“‘Don’t give me any cause to lay a hand on you, and you’ll be safe
enough.’

“‘When I tell you I think you are trying to swindle my guardian on this
Royal Ophir mine deal, I am stating what I believe to be a fact.’

“‘Swindle is a hard term, young man.’

“‘It’s the only term to use--sometimes.’

“‘This is not one of the times. Everything in this transaction is open
and above board.’

“‘That is, it seems so.’

“‘It is so.’

“‘I have a feeling in my bones that my guardian is being tricked,’ I
said.

“‘Poppycock!’

“‘Sneer if you like, but it is my sister’s money and mine my guardian is
putting into the deal; not yours or his.’

“‘Your guardian is safeguarding your interest in every possible way.’

“‘I don’t care if he is. You’re shrewd enough to pull the wool over his
eyes, and I think you’re doing it.’

“‘There’s no possible chance to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. It’s
a straight, legitimate proposition.’

“‘I tell you I have a feeling that it is not.’

“‘You’re a man--don’t be so childish.’

“‘Childish! Is it childish to wish to keep for my sister and myself what
money was left to us?’

“‘You’re a weak-kneed fool, Lansing!’

“‘Now you are using strong language,’ I answered, and I shouldn’t be
surprised if my voice trembled with anger. ‘I give you fair warning of
what I am going to do.’

“‘What are you going to do?’

“‘I’m going to hire the best detective in America to look into this
mining proposition and see whether it’s as straight as you say it is.’

“‘You’re going to put a detective on my trail, are you?’ he hissed.

“‘That’s my intention.’

“‘I see your game! You’re going to fake up some sort of evidence to
prove me dishonest and queer this mining deal!’

“‘If you are honest you have nothing to fear. If dishonest, you’ll be
unmasked and a million will be saved to these New York and Boston
investors.’

“‘Who are you going to hire?’

“‘Nicholas Carter, if I can get him.’

“‘Carter!’ When I spoke your name, Mr. Carter, it leaped fiercely from
Yasmar’s lips, and was followed by a muffled oath. ‘You’re going to get
Nick Carter to dog me about New York?’

“‘If he’ll take the case.’

“‘Then you really think I’m dishonest?’

“‘I think you’re a confidence man, Yasmar; a swindler, a ----’

“Like lightning, his hand, which had been thrust into his pocket and
stealthily withdrawn, shot toward my temple.

“The hand was armed with a set of murderous knuckles, and the blow laid
me half over the rail, silent and motionless.

“I was as nearly unconscious as I ever want to be, but I still had some
feeling left, and I, as I hung there, half over the boat, I can remember
Yasmar looking round to see if the coast was clear.

“Quickly he lifted me and pushed me over the rail.”



CHAPTER II.

TO THE CREDIT OF THE CATBOAT.


“The moment I struck the cool water it brought all my senses back with a
rush.

“I kept myself afloat, and was picked up by two young men in a catboat.
These young men were members of a fishing club that had a boathouse on
the Sound, and were out for an all-night sail.

“They were close at hand when the steamer passed, and I was hurled into
the water.”

“I see. You do not want your uncle to invest your money in the mine, and
he is determined to do it.”

“That’s it. Yasmar is a glib talker, and uncle Horace is entirely
carried away with him.”

“Could you not get a restraining order from the court and thus prevent
your uncle from using the money?”

“Under my mother’s will, Mr. Carter, my guardian has a free hand. I will
do Mr. Montgomery the credit of saying that he has gone into the matter
in good faith, and he is usually level-headed. In this instance,
however, he is playing directly into Yasmar’s hands.”

“It was Monday night when you were picked up by the young men in the
catboat. This is Wednesday morning. Where have you been in the
meantime?”

“At the boathouse on Long Island, where I gave a fictitious name.”

“You wish to make it appear to Yasmar that you are dead?”

“Yes. I feel that I can fight him better in that way.”

“That’s rather clever in one way, Mr. Lansing. In another way, however,
it may be a very foolish move.”

“How so?”

“If you went to your uncle and told him how the villain had attempted
your life, you would at once convince him that the Western man was a
fraud, and thus prevent the investment in the Royal Ophir.”

“You do not know my uncle, Mr. Carter. He is investigating the mining
proposition, and, if he is satisfied with the result of his
investigations, the money will be invested.”

“Headstrong, is he?”

“Yes, sir; very much set in his way.”

“How did you happen to be on the same steamer with Yasmar?”

“I was going to Boston to interview some capitalists there, who are also
intending to put money into the mine. By chance, he was on the same
boat.”

“How is your uncle investigating the Royal Ophir mine?”

“The Boston men sent an expert in whom they have the utmost confidence
to Montana to take a sample of ore from the Royal Ophir.

“That sample was not out of the expert’s hands, day or night, from the
moment it was taken until, in a sealed bag, it was deposited in a New
York bank.

“The Boston men and my uncle, accompanied by the expert, will call for
the ore this afternoon, take it to an assayer, and have it assayed.

“On the result of that assay hangs the investment of a round million of
dollars.”

“Who is to do the assaying?”

“Cruse & Cupell, near Sixth Avenue and Twenty-third Street.”

“Who is the expert?”

“Orlando G. Bates.”

“I know Bates, and he’s as straight as a string. The assayers are all
right, too. Will Yasmar be present during the assaying?”

“No; no one but Mr. Bates, my uncle and the Boston men. Will you take
the case for me, Mr. Carter?”

“It’s hardly a ‘case,’ Mr. Lansing. You want me to prove to your uncle
that the Royal Ophir mine has been ‘salted,’ as the saying is.”

“That’s it. I’m sure the mine has been ‘salted,’ and I’m also sure that
neither the expert nor my uncle nor the Boston men are clever enough to
discover it. You are the only one who can do that, Mr. Carter.”

The detective smiled at the young man’s confidence.

Before he could answer Lansing’s question, another rap fell on the door,
and the servant handed in a card bearing the following name:

“Adolphus Yasmar.”



CHAPTER III.

A FAMILIAR FACE.


“Bring him up,” said Nick, to the servant.

When the servant had gone, the detective opened the door of an adjoining
apartment.

“You will have to step in here for a few minutes, Mr. Lansing,” said he.
“Your man Yasmar has come to see me.”

“Yasmar!” exclaimed Lansing.

“Yes. Step in, quick. Be quiet, and do not come back until I open the
door.”

“But what can he want?” murmured the astounded youth, passing into the
other room.

“I shall find out very soon.”

Nick closed the door, and was seated at his desk, writing, when his
second caller entered the study.

“Mr. Carter?”

Nick dropped his pen, whirled around in his chair, and got up.

He saw before him a man of forty, or thereabouts, tall, muscular, smooth
shaven and wearing a long frock coat, dark trousers, patent leather
shoes and a flowing necktie.

In his left hand he held a black “slouch” hat. His right hand was
extended and an amiable smile wreathed his face.

Nick took the extended hand, and was surprised to find the palm hard, as
though roughened with manual labor.

For a “promoter,” dressed as this man was, the fact might have been
significant.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Yasmar?” asked Nick, when they were both
seated.

“I have a case, and there is no one in the city, except yourself, whom I
desire to handle it.”

“Excuse me a moment while I finish this letter, and then I will give you
my attention.”

Yasmar nodded, picked up the paper Nick had recently laid down, and the
detective touched a bell.

“Send Patsy to me,” he said to the servant.

He scribbled away for a few seconds, folded the sheet and put it in an
envelope, sealed the envelope and wrote the following:

“Look at this man well. He may be Ramsay, but I’m not sure. Shadow
him.”

Patsy stood beside the desk when Nick faced around, the letter in his
hand.

“Here’s a letter, Patsy, which I wish you to deliver immediately. You
know the party, I think?”

The assistant studied the writing on the envelope.

“No, Nick,” he answered, “I don’t know him; but I know the address.”

“You’ll attend to it?”

“Sure.”

Patsy left.

“Now, Mr. Yasmar,” said Nick, “I’m at leisure for a few minutes.”

“I only read this morning that you were expected back from your trip
West, and I hate to trouble you, but the matter is very important. Have
you seen to-day’s paper?”

“Yes.”

“Then perhaps you recall my name in connection with the disappearance of
young John Lansing.”

“Oh! Are you the Adolphus Yasmar mentioned in that account?”

“I am. And it is in relation to John Lansing that I have called on you
this morning.”

“You want me to find the young man?”

“Yes. I want you to go to Boston by first train and begin a search for
him. Lansing’s sister and uncle are very much worked up over the young
man’s disappearance, and I told them I would call here and put you on
the case--providing I could get you.”

“I’m very sorry,” said Nick, “but I could not take the case for two or
three days. As you say, I have just returned from the West, and you can
easily understand how work has accumulated during my absence.”

“You will be well paid----”

“That is a minor consideration. In two or three days, if you like, I
will----”

“That will be too late. In cases of this kind, as you perhaps know,
little time should be lost.”

“Exactly. For that reason it is strange that you allowed Tuesday to pass
without coming to me.”

“I knew you had not returned home, sir; and, besides, I was in Boston
Tuesday, Mr. Carter.”

“There are detectives in Boston--good ones.”

“But Nick Carter doesn’t live in Boston,” said Yasmar, with a flattering
smile. “The police there are doing their best. Still, the young man’s
relatives would feel better to know that you had taken the case.”

“That is out of the question, unless you wait for two or three days.”

“Would not a large retainer tempt you to lay aside your other work and
give your immediate attention to this matter?”

“No, sir.”

Yasmar got up.

“Then I suppose there is nothing else for it but for me to wait.”

“Or get some one else,” added Nick.

“Who shall I go to?”

“The New York chief of police.”

“I’ll think about it. Good-morning, Mr. Carter.”

He left.

When the front door had closed, the detective admitted John Lansing from
the other room.

“The infernal scoundrel!” cried Lansing. “He dared to come here to you
to get you to look for me--a man whom he believes he murdered.”

“He’s a pretty smooth rascal,” said the detective.

“Will you help me out in the mine matter, Mr. Carter?”

“Yes.”

“Good! My sister’s money and mine is as good as saved. I thank you very
much, and your bill will be met as soon as presented.”

“That will come later. For the present, carry out your present
policy--keep in the background, and don’t go about the city very much.
Do not even communicate with your sister. Leave that part of it to me,
and I will see that she does not worry about you. Where will I be able
to communicate with you?”

Lansing wrote his address on a card.

Then, after thanking Nick again, he left the house.

The detective lighted a cigar and threw himself into a chair.

“He certainly had his nerve with him, to call on me as he has done,”
thought Nick.

“It’s plain that he wants to get me out of town, and at once.

“I wonder if he knows Nick Carter never forgets a face?

“I have seen his face before--but whether that is the face of the
tough-looking Westerner called Ramsay, who is ‘wanted’ in Montana, I
can’t say for certain.”



CHAPTER IV.

THE ROLL-TOP DESK.


On leaving Nick Carter’s house, Yasmar walked rapidly off down the
street.

At the first corner he passed a typical East Side tough, leaning against
a lamp-post, rolling a huge cigar between his teeth.

Stepping out into the street, Yasmar hailed an open electric car.

As he got aboard, well forward, the tough jumped on the rear and took
one of the seats reserved for smokers.

At Canal Street the Western man changed to a cross-town car, getting off
again at Vestry Street.

He had not looked behind him, or displayed any nervousness whatever.

But, nevertheless, it seemed as if he had an idea he might be followed.

Vestry and Canal meet at an acute angle, forming a “V” shaped point.

Yasmar walked down Vestry Street for a few doors, then hastily turned to
the right, mounted a short flight of steps and vanished through a dingy
doorway.

The tough was close after him.

Passing through a long, dark hall, he made an exit through a door
opening on Canal Street.

The tough, apparently, did not come out of the building.

The man who did follow Yasmar out onto Canal Street looked more like a
laborer than he did like a tough.

The Westerner, walking leisurely, made his way to the next block and
halted in front of a four-story building.

There was a moving van backed to the curb in front, and at the very top
of the building two men were engaged in rigging a block and tackle.

Yasmar came to a halt before a door leading into a hallway, and from
there, for the first time, he took a survey of the street behind him.

The laborer, his hands in his pockets and a corncob pipe in his mouth,
was watching the riggers at work on the roof.

There was nothing suspicious about the laborer, and Yasmar passed into
the building and started upstairs.

When he reached the head of the first flight, the laborer was in the
doorway.

Something had been shouted by one of the men on the roof.

“All right,” the laborer called back, “I’ll bring it up to ye.”

Thereupon Patsy--for, of course, the supposed laborer was none other
than Nick Carter’s assistant--rushed upstairs with a coil of rope.

He passed Yasmar on the second flight.

At the top of the third flight, he waited and listened until he heard
the Westerner start up from the foot.

That was Patsy’s signal to make for the narrow passage leading to the
skylight and the roof.

“There ye are,” he said, as he tossed the coil of rope to the riggers.

Then, without loss of a moment, he returned to the fourth floor.

A door was just closing down the hall as Patsy stepped out of the
passage.

The detective was too late to see the man who entered the room, but he
was fairly certain it was Yasmar.

Proceeding noiselessly to the door, he halted and listened.

Voices, pitched in a low key, reached him.

It was impossible to distinguish the spoken words, although Patsy
strained his ears in the attempt.

He was anxious to overhear something which would make it absolutely sure
that he was on the right trail.

Stooping, he tried the old-fashioned trick of looking through the
keyhole, but found that a hat had been hung from the knob inside,
effectually covering the small aperture.

Raising himself erect, Patsy made a quick survey to left and right.

Instinctively, he came to the conclusion that the door to the right of
the one before which he was standing was more promising than the one on
the left.

He went to the door and tried it, but found it locked.

A skeleton key admitted him with very little trouble, and he found
himself in an empty room.

A door led from this room into the one which Yasmar had entered, but it
was closed and probably fastened.

Again Patsy tried to look through the keyhole, but this time he found
the opening stuffed with paper.

“It’s dead sure they do things in that room they don’t want people to
get onto,” thought Patsy, “and that proves, in a way, that my man is
there. Still, I’d like to get a fair and square look at him.”

Sinking down on his knees, he laid his ear against the crack at the edge
of the door.

The talkers were still guarded in their tones, and he could hear
nothing.

He remained on his knees, however, and presently he heard a movement as
of some one rising.

Steps crossed the floor.

“This is getting infernally tiresome,” said a voice. “Gillman is slow in
keeping his appointment.”

“Something has happened to detain him,” said another voice.

“Let’s go out and get a drink. Probably he’ll be here by the time we get
back.”

“I’m with you, old man.”

Some one else arose and crossed the floor.

Then the door was unlocked, opened, closed and locked again, and steps
could be heard passing down the hall.

Rising quickly, Patsy went to a window overlooking the street, raised
it, and looked down.

He was rewarded by seeing Yasmar come out, accompanied by a short,
thickset man with an iron-gray mustache.

The second man looked like another Westerner.

“Bully!” exclaimed Patsy, withdrawing and closing the window. “When
Gillman gets here, I must be in that other room.”

He went back to the door communicating with the other room.

A few moments’ work with a knife blade sufficed to pick out the paper,
and a skeleton key did the rest.

After closing and locking the door from the other side, Patsy carefully
replaced the paper in the keyhole and turned for a look at the room he
was then in.

It was almost as bare as the apartment he had just left.

A huge roll-top desk was in evidence, and three common chairs--nothing
more.

The roll-top of the desk was pushed half up.

Patsy pushed it all the way and looked into the pigeon-holes.

They were empty.

He opened the drawers.

They were empty, too.

“It looks as though this might be moving day,” thought the detective,
thinking of the van he had seen out in front. “Gee, but that’s a regular
granddaddy desk. They never got it in through the hall door, and I’ll
bet on it.”

While he stood there, taking in the situation, his quick ear caught the
sound of footsteps on the stairs.

The Westerners were coming back.

The detective looked around for a place to conceal himself.

Opposite the door by which he had entered there was another, leading
into the room on the other side.

But even if that door was unlocked, and he could get into that room, he
would be no better off than he was a little while before.

He flashed another inquiring look around.

There was absolutely no place in which he could hide himself, unless----

He looked at the desk, and then measured himself with his eyes.

The steps were coming along the hall, now, and it was too late for him
to use the skeleton key and get out of the room, even if he had wanted
to.

Without pausing another instant, he crawled into the desk and pulled at
the roll-top until he got it down.

It was a tight squeeze, and when the roll-top descended the lock
snapped.

But Patsy did not care for that.

The only thing that worried him was that one of the two men might notice
that the roll-top was shut, and not half open.

That was not a very long chance, however, and, anyway, Patsy had to take
it.



CHAPTER V.

BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY.


The door was unlocked, opened, and the men came in.

From the footfalls alone, Patsy’s keen ear could tell that there were
three men instead of two.

“We were up here waiting for you, Gillman,” said a voice.

“If I had come any sooner, I’d have missed that highball,” answered a
second voice.

“When you turn the key, Ramsay,” observed a third voice, “don’t neglect
to hang that slouch of yours over the knob.”

The wearer of the slouch hat was the man Patsy was shadowing, so he had
learned the fellow’s true name.

The key scraped in the lock.

“There you are, Starlick,” answered Ramsay. “The key fills up the hole
enough, I should think. Besides, we won’t keep Gillman over two
minutes.”

“Long enough to give me a retainer,” chuckled Gillman.

“How much of a retainer do you want?”

“Five hundred. After that, and before these capitalists turn over their
good money, I want forty-five hundred more.”

“That’s big pay for fifteen minutes’ work.”

“It’s no pay at all for the risk I run.”

“Well, well, never mind. Here’s your five hundred.”

“Thanks. And the cigarettes?”

“Here; two boxes of them.”

“Heavens, man! How many do you expect me to smoke during that fifteen
minutes?”

“As many as you can. The more the better.”

“Where do I get the forty-five hundred?”

“At Boucicault’s, Hamilton Street, Brooklyn.”

“Don’t try any of your Montana tricks with me, you two. I won’t stand
for it, and I’ll queer your game if it lands me in the pen.”

“Don’t squeal till we throw you down,” put in Starlick.

“Bring a duplicate assay certificate, Gillman,” said Ramsay, “and you’ll
get your bonus without any question.”

“Then I’ll pull out. You fellows may depend on me.”

“If you queer this deal, without our throwing you down, you’ll never
live to queer another.”

“Don’t worry about me. I’m out for the stuff, and this looks like easy
money. What time shall I be at Boucicault’s?”

“Be there at ten.”

“Good!”

Gillman went away, and Ramsay and Starlick continued their conversation.

“I’m scared all the while I’m in New York, Starlick,” said Ramsay.

“On account of this deal?”

“Thunder, no. On account of Nick Carter. He only saw me for about a
minute, some time ago, and a clean shave and these clothes have changed
me. Besides, I introduced myself as Yasmar, not as Ramsay. I’d be
willing to take my oath that he never recognized me when I called on him
this morning, and yet----”

He paused.

“Yet what?” urged Starlick.

“I’m losing my nerve, I reckon. But you never can tell what Carter
thinks, or what he’s going to do. If I could have got him out of town
for the next forty-eight hours, I’d be feeling easier, this minute.
Hello! What’s that?”

A hand tried the door. Failing to gain entrance, the same hand banged on
the panel.

“It’s all right,” answered Starlick. “No need putting your hand to your
hip, old man.”

Patsy heard the door open and a gruff voice from the hall:

“We’ve got the riggin’ fixed and are all ready ter lower the desk.”

“All right. There it is.”

“Any idea how long it’ll be kept in storage?”

“No. A year, perhaps.”

Patsy was doing some hard thinking.

He had no desire to spend a year in storage, and it was necessary for
him, somehow, to separate himself from the desk.

To do it then was out of the question.

The workmen went to the windows and took out the sash.

Patsy could hear them, and he could also hear Ramsay and Starlick moving
about the room.

Finally the workmen came to the desk, took hold of it, and shoved it
across the room.

“Empty, boss?” queried one of the men.

“Yes,” answered Starlick.

“Mighty heavy for an empty desk.”

“It’s an old-fashioned roll-top, and that’s the reason.”

“I guess the riggin’ll hold it, all right, but I didn’t figger on havin’
quite so much heft.”

“Better be sure, my man. I wouldn’t want the desk smashed.”

“I’ll risk it. If it’s smashed, it comes out o’ my pay.”

There were other things that couldn’t come out of the man’s pay, if the
rigging let go, and Patsy was as near in a flutter as his nerve ever
allowed him to be.

A hawser was put around the desk both ways.

Then Patsy heard a hook made fast.

A moment later one of the men went down.

In three minutes, the big roll-top desk was out of the window, swinging
in mid air.

The rope creaked and something gave so that the piece of furniture
dropped a foot.

“Steady!” whooped the man whose pay was to be docked in case of
accident.

“Yes, for Heaven’s sake,” muttered Patsy.

Down went the desk, the man inside breathing only when necessary until
it safely rested on the walk.

To load the desk in the wagon did not take much time, and the van hadn’t
gone a block before Patsy had exerted sufficient pressure to break the
lock.

The rattle of the vehicle drowned the noise he had to make, and he
pushed up the top, slipped to the floor of the van, and dropped out.

The two men on the seat of the van drove on, all unconscious of what had
happened, and Patsy, the moment he struck the sidewalk, drew a sleeve
across his dripping forehead.

“That was a corker!” he muttered. “I wonder if I’ve lost the trail?”

He had lost the trail, as he quickly found, for Ramsay and Starlick had
vanished from the building in which they had been but a few minutes
before.

“I’ll slide around to the house and tell Nick about it,” said Patsy to
himself. “He may want to give me fresh instructions.”

Nick Carter was not at the house, however, nor was Chick.

They had gone out together, Patsy was told.

He waited a long time for one or the other to return, but they did not
come.

“I’ll have to go to Boucicault’s,” thought Patsy; “and I can’t wait any
longer for Nick.”

Before he went, he left the following memorandum on Nick’s desk:

     “Yasmar’s real name is Ramsay. Latter name used by his pals. Guess
     he is one of the two men you want. Ramsay and his side partner,
     Starlick, are to meet a man named Gillman in Boucicault’s place,
     Hamilton Street, Brooklyn, at ten to-night. Look out for a couple
     of boxes of doped cigarettes.

PATSY.”



CHAPTER VI.

A SMOOTH GAME.


On Wednesday afternoon a prosperous-looking gentleman, of apparently
about fifty years of age, entered the private offices of Cruse & Cupell,
on Twenty-Third Street.

“Mr. Cruse?” he asked, halting at a desk.

“Mr. Cruse is out,” answered a man at the desk. “I’m Mr. Cupell.”

“My card.”

The caller handed over a bit of pasteboard bearing the name, “Mr.
Jefferson Jones.”

“I’m from Albany,” went on Mr. Jones, “and I have run down to be present
at the assay of the Royal Ophir ore.”

“Ah,” murmured Mr. Cupell. “Won’t you sit down, Mr. Jones? There’s a
paper at your elbow. I expect Mr. Bates and the other gentlemen at any
moment.”

Jefferson Jones took the chair and the paper.

In a few minutes the expert entered with three other gentlemen, the
expert carrying a small bag, bound with a cord and sealed in half a
dozen different places.

Cupell welcomed the party, and then presented Jefferson Jones.

Jones did not pay much attention to the Boston men, nor to Bates, the
expert, but he gave more than casual attention to Mr. Horace Montgomery.

“Why do you wish to see this assay, Mr. Jones?” asked Montgomery.

“Merely to satisfy myself as to the value of the Royal Ophir mine.”

“With a view to investing?”

“That remains to be seen.”

“I don’t think there will be any chance for you. The Royal Ophir, I am
satisfied, is a good thing, and myself and these other two gentlemen
want it all to ourselves.”

A slight smile wreathed about the lips of Jefferson Jones.

“I suppose you won’t object to letting me see the assay made?” he asked.

“Certainly not; only don’t deceive yourself with false hopes, that’s
all.”

Bates, the expert, here interjected a few remarks.

“This is the Royal Ophir ore, gentlemen,” said he. “I took a fair sample
from the main vein of the mine, sacked and sealed it on the spot, and
the sample was not out of my hands until deposited in the bank, from
which we just took it.

“I will take an oath that it has not been tampered with in any way. On
the result of this assay I assure you that you can spend one million, or
ten millions, and be perfectly confident that you are going into the
deal with your eyes open.

“There, Mr. Cupell.” The expert handed the sack to the assayer. “It is
understood that we are all to be present during the assaying.”

“That is my understanding,” said Cupell. “This way, gentlemen.”

He opened a door leading into one of the workrooms.

A dark-faced young man of twenty or thereabouts, wearing a white apron
and smoking a cigarette, was busying himself about the room.

On an iron slab Cupell opened the ore sack and emptied the pieces of ore
out on the slab for general inspection.

Jefferson Jones, Montgomery and the two Boston men began to look at the
samples.

“I don’t think you ought to touch this rock, gentlemen,” said Cupell.

Examination of the ore was instantly stopped.

“I don’t think any of us would put ‘salt’ into this proposition,” said
Montgomery.

But, even as he spoke, he cast a suspicious look at Jones, of Albany.

Jones looked innocent enough.

Humming to himself and holding his hands behind him, he was giving his
attention to the strange instruments arranged around the room.

Suddenly he asked if there was any drinking water about the place.

Cupell told him he would find a water cooler in the office.

Jones sauntered into the office, took a drink, and then passed into the
hall.

“Here, Chick,” he said to somebody who was waiting there, “take this to
Clarkson, around the corner on Sixth Avenue, and have him rush the assay
through.”

“Sure.”

“Then wait for me downstairs.”

“I’ll be there.”

Nick--for, of course, “Jones” was none other than the detective--gave
his assistant two small pieces of Royal Ophir ore.

Chick went away, and Nick returned to the workroom, drying his lips on a
handkerchief.

The ore was being put through a small crusher by the young man who wore
the apron and was smoking the cigarette.

Cupell watched every move of the young man with eagle-eyed vigilance.

“That’s fine enough, Gillman,” said Cupell; “now use your muller.”

The “muller” was a heavy, iron roller that worked on the slab.

Gillman took the crushed ore, held it on the slab, and then went over it
again and again with the roller.

This part of the operation took some time, and Gillman smoked three
cigarettes.

Nick noticed that he never removed a cigarette from his mouth, after
once lighting it, until it was smoked almost to the gold tip.

When the ashes accumulated, he gave his head a shake and they fell into
the ore he was crushing.

“You’ll smoke yourself to death, Gillman,” said Cupell.

“I expect so,” was the lugubrious answer. “I’ve formed the habit,
though, and I can’t break myself.”

“I haven’t any patience with a cigarette smoker,” said one of the Boston
men, with a shudder.

“Give me a cigar, every time,” said the other Boston man.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Nick; “I enjoy a cigarette now and then myself.
If Gillman would oblige me with one, I believe I’d keep him company.”

“Certainly,” answered Gillman, readily enough.

Taking the cigarette box from his pocket, he handed it to Nick.

Nick took one of the “paper pipes,” lighted it, and returned the box.

A moment later the detective sat down, a little way from the group
around the muller-board.

When ready to knock the ashes from the cigarette, he brought out a
silver match case, emptied it of matches, and carefully deposited the
ashes inside.

When he had finished the cigarette, Gillman was “quartering down” the
sample.

The powdered ore was then mixed with fluxes, put into little,
earthenware dishes, and shoved into a furnace.

When the dishes were drawn from the furnace, there was a drop of bullion
in each one.

This drop was put into a glass parting flask with nitric acid, the flask
was heated, and the gold in the drop of bullion was separated from the
other metals.

All that then remained was to weigh it.

This was done on a pair of scales so finely adjusted that they would
weigh a pencil mark on a scrap of paper.

In two hours’ time Cupell had signed the assay certificates, and
Montgomery and the Boston men were wildly jubilant.

The assay ran nine hundred and sixty dollars to the ton!



CHAPTER VII.

SHIFTING THE RESPONSIBILITY.


“There’s a five-foot vein of that rock!” declared Bates, “and it’s a
true fissure--which means that it will ‘go down’ and get better with
every foot.”

“I wonder if I could get a little of that good thing?” Nick inquired.

“No, sir, never!” cried Montgomery.

“We want it all for ourselves,” said one of the Boston men.

“Sure thing,” averred the other.

“We’ll close the deal to-morrow at ten o’clock, at my house,” said
Montgomery. “You’ll be there, gentlemen?”

“Certainly we will,” answered the first Boston man.

“And bring our certified checks with us,” added the other.

The capitalists went away, Bates soon followed, and Nick sat down in
Cupell’s private office.

“A great mine, that, Mr. Jones,” said Cupell.

“Looks like it,” returned Nick. “Could you do a little assaying for me,
Mr. Cupell?”

“Why, yes, certainly. I’ll have Gillman----”

“No, not Gillman. I want you to attend to it personally and send Gillman
out somewhere while it’s being done.”

“It isn’t possible you suspect there is anything wrong with that assay?”

“It’s immaterial what I suspect, Mr. Cupell.” The detective walked close
to the assayer and bent over him. “My real name is not Jones but
Carter----”

“Nick Carter?”

“Yes.”

“And you were here to watch and see that the assay was properly made?”

“I was here for a purpose. How long will it take you to make the assay?”

“Is it an assay of ore?”

“Of cigarette ashes.”

Cupell jumped from his chair.

“Great heavens!” he exclaimed. “Can it be possible that---- No, no! You
are wrong, Mr. Carter. Gillman has worked for me for two years and he’s
as straight as a string.”

“How long will it take you to make the assay?”

“An hour.”

“Then send Gillman out somewhere for an hour. Be sure and have him come
back here this afternoon, however, and don’t give him cause to think
that there is anything wrong. Understand?”

“I understand.”

“All right. I will return presently.”

Nick put the silver match case in the assayer’s hands and left the
office.

Downstairs, near the edge of the sidewalk, a shabbily dressed man was
selling some mechanical toys that ran by clockwork.

Nick kicked over one of the toys as it ran in front of him.

“Ain’t you got no eyes?” blustered the curbstone merchant. “That’ll
stand ye in fifty cents.”

Nick picked up the broken toy and saw a folded paper inside of it.

He deftly abstracted the paper and tossed the tin automobile at Chick’s
feet.

“Here’s your money,” he said, tendering a bill. “There’s no sense in
running those things all over the walk.”

Chick dived into his pocket for change.

“There’s a man in a brown derby and gray clothes around the corner
keeping track of this doorway,” said Chick, in a low tone.

“Tall?”

“No, short and thickset.”

“Keep your eye on him. Also take a good look at that young man who’s
just coming out of the doorway now.”

Gillman came out and Chick took his measure.

Nick walked back into the building and was soon in the assay office.

On his way he looked at the assay certificate brought by Chick.

“No trace of metal,” read the certificate.

Nick gave a whistle as he dropped into a chair in Cruse & Cupell’s
office.

“Salted for a million,” he muttered. “It’s a smooth game.”

In a little while Cupell rushed into the office excitedly.

“What’s the result?” asked Nick, calmly.

“Those cigarette ashes assay close to fifty thousand to the ton!”
declared the assayer.

“I wish I had a few tons,” remarked Nick, with a dry laugh.

“To think that I have been bamboozled by that assistant of ours! I must
call in those assay certificates and----”

“Do nothing of the kind, just yet,” cut in Nick.

“But are you aware of the position it places me in? Every assay
certificate is vouched for by us the moment it is signed. And then, to
have the hocus-pocus worked right in our own office---- But, by Jove, it
was clever!”

“Certainly it was,” said Nick, “and Gillman was only a tool and not the
leader in the swindling game. What I want to do is to get the whole
gang. If you’ll lay back on your oars a little while, I shall succeed.”

“But to-morrow morning at ten o’clock a million dollars will be paid
over to these swindlers for the Royal Ophir mine.”

“It won’t be paid over,” averred Nick.

“You assure me of that?”

“Yes. What I want you to do is to keep this to yourself. Don’t let
Gillman suspect that you know what he has done. Keep him here until five
o’clock and then let him go.”

“But my responsibility----”

“I’ll take your responsibility on my own shoulders.”

“Very well, Mr. Carter, I will do as you say.”

Nick went away.

“The young fellow had a talk with the man in the brown derby,” Chick
said, as his chief walked slowly past.

“Stay here and watch,” Nick returned. “I’ll be back in an hour. You’ll
recognize me. I’m going to shadow the young fellow, and if the man in
the brown derby follows me you follow him.”

Nick went to police headquarters and made a few changes in his disguise.

When he came out he looked at least twenty years younger.

There was a cigar store opposite the building in which Cruse & Cupell
had their assay office, and Nick stepped in there, bought a weed, and
stood leaning on the counter, smoking and watching the doorway across
the street.

It was five o’clock and time for Gillman to show himself.

Nick had not long to wait.

The clerk came briskly out and Nick went after him.

Just beyond the corner a man in a brown derby dropped in behind Nick.

Chick, keenly alive to the situation, picked up the single tin
automobile that he had left, pushed it into his pocket, and trailed
along in the rear of the man in the brown derby.

From the opposite side of the street a neatly dressed man in a sack suit
and black Fedora hat took in the situation and gave vent to a muttered
oath.

“I like the layout, Mr. Nick Carter,” he said to himself. “Keep on after
Gillman and you’ll find yourself in a hornet’s nest. You’ll never live
to put those Boston men next to my game, or to bring me to book for that
Montana job. Now for Hamilton Street.”



CHAPTER VIII.

BOUCICAULT’S.


At certain times Nick Carter had intuitions that amounted almost to
positive knowledge.

It was the “detective instinct,” amplified by years of intelligent
practice.

In the present instance he believed that he would be shadowed, and he
even figured out to himself the successive links in the chain that
brought the conclusion.

Gillman had suspected him and had conveyed his suspicions to the man in
the brown derby at the same time that he had reported the result of the
assay.

It was this man in the brown derby whom Nick had cast for the part of a
shadow, and hence Chick’s instructions to “shadow the shadow.”

The one uncertain element of the situation was Ramsay, or Yasmar, but
Nick was depending on Patsy to take care of the Westerner.

Could Nick have been made familiar with the contents of a certain note,
at that moment lying on his desk at home, there would have been a
decided change in the plan of operations.

Gillman appeared to be very well satisfied with himself, for he carried
a cane and swung it jauntily as he walked.

He paid no attention to the ground behind him, and that might mean one
of two things--either he did not think he was followed, or did not care.

At Sixth Avenue he hailed a downtown car.

It was an open car, and Nick got aboard three seats behind him.

The man in the brown derby followed the car in a hansom, a difficult but
not impossible task considering the slow speed at which the car had to
travel in that part of the city and at that busy hour.

The hardest part of the work fell to Chick.

He could not very well get aboard the car with Gillman and Nick, and, as
there was no cab in sight which he could hire, he slipped a five-dollar
bill to an expressman and told him to keep the hansom in sight.

Thus Gillman, virtually shadowed by three, made his way to his
destination, which proved to be a restaurant in the lower part of the
town--a place famous for the low price of its “table d’hote dinner with
wine.”

There he and Nick had dinner, the man in the brown derby remaining on
the walk outside and Chick watching from across the street.

The meal over, the tactics were continued, Gillman leading the chase to
Brooklyn, crossing by ferry and winding up at Boucicault’s on Hamilton
Street.

It was between eight and nine in the evening, and Hamilton Street was
just “waking up.”

A sleepy and quiet thoroughfare by day, it is anything but sleepy and
quiet under the gas and electric lights.

“Speak-easies” and other haunts of vice abound, and not the least among
the lawless resorts was Boucicault’s.

There were three stories to the building, and Boucicault’s occupied all
three, in addition to a good-sized basement.

Of the basement more will be said hereafter.

The main floor was given up to a saloon and restaurant.

The floors above constituted the hotel part of the establishment, and
here many a drunken victim had been plucked by the human harpies who
made the place their rendezvous.

If darker crimes than robbery were meditated, the intended victim was
conducted to the gloomy and vault-like regions under the saloon.

A long, low bar ran along the left-hand wall; off to the right were half
a dozen tables; in the rear were four or five small rooms partitioned
off.

When Gillman entered the dive it was half filled with a roaring
complement of sailormen, every one in the lot considerably more than
“half seas over.”

The air was thick with tobacco smoke, heavy with the fumes of cheap
beer, and resounding with sea songs--every song pitched in a different
key and sung in a different language.

Nick Carter had established his case and was ready to arrest his man.

What he wanted, however, was to make a clean haul of the entire gang,
and to this end he had shadowed Gillman.

He was now certain that Boucicault’s was the rendezvous of the
swindlers, and he followed Gillman through the fog of smoke, and saw him
vanish into one of the rear rooms.

The time had come when the detective thought it would be as well to
bring matters to an issue with the assayer’s clerk, to find out what he
could from him, and then turn him over to the police for safe-keeping.

Advancing to the door of the room entered by Gillman, Nick tried the
knob.

The door was locked, and he applied his knuckles to the panel.

“Who’s there?” called a voice.

“Yasmar.”

“What do you want to give that name for? Haven’t you got another?” asked
the voice, anxiously.

Nick saw that Gillman was very suspicious.

He felt, too, that he must act quickly. He had already guessed that
Yasmar’s true name was Ramsay, but had never verified it. Now he was
face to face with the question.

He took a long chance, and called out:

“Ramsay.”

To his delight he heard the bolts being drawn back, and the door was
thrown open.

“You know, Ram----” Gillman began, then he stopped dead, for the man who
had entered was not Ramsay, but Nick Carter.

Without taking his eyes off Gillman, Nick closed the door and locked it.

The room was about ten feet square, had paneled side walls and contained
a table and four chairs.

It was lighted by an incandescent bulb, pendant from the ceiling.

Gillman showed a good deal of surprise when he discovered that the
newcomer was not Ramsay.

“Well, well!” he exclaimed, his right hand groping under his coat. “Who
are you and what’s your game?”

“My game is to call yours, Gillman,” answered Nick, sternly, his right
hand in his coat pocket. “Bring that hand out in front of you! I’m
covering you with a gun.”

Gillman brought the hand slowly to the required position.

“You’ve been crowding me pretty close for the last hour or two,” said
he. “What do you want, anyhow?”

“I want you.”

With his left hand Nick brought out a pair of handcuffs.

“What do you want me for?” queried Gillman, sweeping his eyes shiftily
around the room.

“For smoking that brand of gold-filled cigarettes this afternoon.”

That was the point where Gillman began to lose his nerve.

“I--I don’t understand,” he stammered.

“Yes, you do,” answered Nick. “Put up your wrists.”

“Don’t you do it, Gillman!”

This counter-command came from the side of the room.

Out of the corners of his eyes Nick could see that a panel in the wall
had slid noiselessly back.

A square opening was revealed, framing a man’s head and shoulders.

The man wore a brown derby hat and held a revolver, whose point was
leveled at the detective’s breast.

A triumphant smile began to show itself on Gillman’s face; but the smile
vanished as a second head appeared in the opening and another voice
echoed sharply through the room.

“Put on the darbies, Nick! If this fellow tries to pull the trigger it
will be all over with him.”

It was Chick.

He was behind the other man, and was pressing the muzzle of a revolver
against the back of his head.

A baffled oath broke from the man in the derby hat.

Nick, realizing that there was no time to be lost, was about to adjust
the handcuffs.

Before he could do it, however, a rap fell on the door.

Silence followed.

The rap was repeated more emphatically.

“Ask who’s there, Gillman,” whispered Nick, bringing the weapon out of
his pocket and making a significant movement with it.

“Who’s there?” inquired Gillman.

“Ramsay.”

Quick as lightning. Nick put away the handcuffs and developed a second
revolver.

Covering Gillman with the gun in his right hand, Nick turned partly
around.

“Tell him to come in,” he whispered again.

As Gillman carried out the order, Nick pushed back the bolt with the
muzzle of the weapon held in his right hand.

Then two things happened, and happened simultaneously.

The incandescent light was turned off, leaving the room in total
darkness, and a rush of heavy feet followed the bursting in of the door.

Nick discharged his revolvers, but the rush of his enemies was not
stayed.

He was assailed from all sides, and when he found the quarters too close
for revolver work, he gripped the weapons by the barrel and clubbed them
to right and left.

But the odds were overwhelming.

In the midst of his desperate struggle, a savage blow on the head sent
him down.

The shouts and curses of his assailants died away in his ears, he felt
them piling on top of him, and then he remembered nothing more.



CHAPTER IX.

THE DEATH CHAMBER.


Nick opened his eyes in darkness.

Not a ray of light could be seen at any point in the surrounding gloom,
and a silence as of the grave reigned all around.

Under him was a hard stone floor, and from the dank, moldy smell of the
place he thought he must be in a cellar--presumably the basement under
Boucicault’s.

His head was throbbing painfully, and he was lying on his bound arms and
wrists.

His ankles were also bound.

“Well, here’s a go!” he exclaimed, aloud.

The words echoed hollowly through the place, and had hardly left Nick’s
lips before another voice came from a little distance.

“Hello! Is that you, Nick?”

“Chick! What are you doing here?”

“Not a thing. Can’t.”

“Trussed up?”

“Wrist and ankle.”

“The same gang that laid me out took care of you.”

“We had an enemy in our rear, and he set the longshoremen onto us.”

“The enemy in the rear was Ramsay.”

“Sure,” said Chick. “And that’s one good thing about this little
adventure--we have learned that Yasmar is really Ramsay. He has shaved
off his beard since we knew him in the West.”

“Where was Patsy that he couldn’t take care of Ramsay?” asked Nick.

“Something may have happened to the boy. These Westerners weren’t born
yesterday.”

“They’re clever in their way; but they overshot the mark when they put
you and me in the same cell.”

“You bet! If I can’t get you loose with my teeth, I’ll write myself down
as a has-been. Roll over this way.”

Nick rolled toward the point from which Chick’s voice came.

As his body turned, he felt something in his pocket.

It was his pocket lamp, undoubtedly, and its presence proved that Ramsay
and his pals hadn’t had time for a very exhaustive search through their
victims’ clothes.

“This must be the cellar under Boucicault’s,” remarked Chick, as he
twisted his body around until it lay parallel with Nick’s, and directly
behind.

“When Ramsay and his pals brought us down here,” returned Nick, “they
evidently planned that we weren’t to leave until we were carried feet
first.”

“Ramsay wants you out of the way, Nick, so he can work his
million-dollar graft without being bothered.”

Chick’s hands were bound behind him, just as Nick’s were, and he had to
locate the cords by brushing his face against his chief’s arms.

Presently he got to work with his teeth.

“This will be a good, long job,” he said, pausing. “Some sailor put on
this rope, and the easiest way to get it off is to chew it in two.”

“All right,” answered Nick.

After half an hour of hard labor, Nick pulled his hands apart and
brought them around in front of him.

“Now for a little light,” said he.

Sitting upon the stone floor, he brought out his little pocket
lamp--which was one of the things he always carried with him--and
pressed the spring that released the electric current.

A shaft of bright light pierced the gloom.

Nick flashed the gleam slowly around.

He and his assistant saw that they were in a vaulted chamber, perhaps a
dozen feet square.

The walls and roof were of stone.

There were no openings anywhere--that is, none that could be seen.

“How the dickens did they get us in here?” asked Chick.

“Possibly they lowered us down from the top. There may be a trap in the
roof of the vault. Hello! What’s this? A knife, by George!”

In sweeping the ray of light across the floor, it had struck upon a
gleaming object that lay less than a half-dozen feet away.

Nick reached for it.

It was a pearl-handled knife, such as gentlemen carry.

On a piece of silver set into the pearl there were two initials.

“‘W. H.,’” said Nick, reading the letters. “Thunder!”

“What now?” inquired Chick.

Nick turned the knife over so that the position of the two letters were
reversed.

“Upside down,” said he, “W. H. becomes H. M.”

“What of it?”

“Nothing now,” Nick answered, quietly, opening the knife’s largest
blade. “One of the men who brought us here must have dropped the knife.
Turn over, Chick, and I’ll cut off your ropes.”

Chick whirled over, and was soon freed of the bonds about his wrists and
ankles.

Nick then cut the cords from his own feet, and the two detectives arose
and stretched their cramped limbs.

“Wonder if I shot anybody up there during the set-to?” Nick muttered,
closing the knife blade and slipping the knife into his pocket.

“Give it up,” answered Chick. “I was down and out about as soon as you
were. The instant the light was turned off, somebody let me have it full
from behind. Great Scott! My head’s buzzing yet.”

“Mine, too.”

“I wonder if I’ve been touched?” Chick began, turning his pockets inside
out. “Oh, no, I haven’t been touched,” he remarked, dryly; “I’ve been
grabbed. I haven’t got so much as a toothpick left. Those longshoremen
probably got the rake-off for their trouble.”

“I have nothing left but the pocket lamp,” said Nick. “In some way they
overlooked that. The thing for us to do is to get out. I have a pressing
engagement at Montgomery’s house, in Forty-fourth Street, to-morrow
morning at ten. What time do you think it is now?”

“No idea.”

“It can’t be more than nine or ten.”

Picking up a small piece of stone that lay on the floor, Nick started
along one of the walls, tapping on every rock.

Chick took his cue, and began doing likewise.

Suddenly Nick paused.

“Smell anything, Chick?”

“I was just going to ask you the same question.”

“What do you think it is?”

“Gas.”

“That’s what I think.”

Nick flashed the light on his assistant’s face and saw that it had
become exceedingly grave.

Chick realized what the game was, and it was enough to make him sober.

“They intend to kill us with that gas,” said he.

“And they’ll do it,” answered Nick, grimly, “if we can’t find the jet
and plug it up.”

The incandescent light in the pocket lamp, of course, would not ignite
the escaping gas, and Nick flashed the penciled beam to every point of
the side walls, the floor and the roof.

Not a sign of a gas pipe could be seen.

But the gas was coming from somewhere, and coming in a quantity that
would soon fill the chamber.

Breathing was already exceedingly difficult.

“Go on tapping the walls,” gasped Nick. “If we don’t find a way to
escape, or get next to that gas plug, we’ll be laid out cold.”

Goaded by the foul atmosphere, which was rapidly becoming more and more
poisonous, the two detectives hastily tapped the walls to their full
extent.

They found nothing.

“It must come from the roof,” said Nick.

His voice was hoarse and rasping, and his lungs felt as though
compressed under a ton’s weight.

“How are we going to do any searching up there?” queried Chick, rising
on his tiptoes and stretching his arms. “I can’t come within three feet
of the ceiling.”

“Take me on your shoulders,” said Nick.

This plan was carried out without loss of time.

Sitting astride Chick’s broad shoulders, Nick was able to reach the
roof.

Beginning at one of the end walls, they proceeded to cover the flat
stones of the ceiling with the utmost care.

“I can’t stand this much longer,” said Chick, staggering, and only
saving himself and Nick a fall by a quick effort. “This gas seems to sap
all my strength.”

“Hang to it, old man,” returned Nick. “By Jupiter! I’ve struck it! Let
me down, Chick.”

“If you’ve found the pipe, Nick, plug it up.”

“I haven’t found the pipe, and we can’t stop the escaping gas.”

“Can’t?” echoed Chick.

“No.” Nick jumped from his assistant’s shoulders. “It comes between the
joints of those roof stones. If we had tow, and could calk up every
crack in the roof, we might save ourselves. But that’s out of the
question.”

“What a devilish contrivance!” exclaimed Chick.

“It’s devilish enough to do for us if we can’t find our way out of this
hole.”

“You might look for a trap in the roof.”

“As soon as you’re able to bear my weight again, I’ll try.”

“Try now, old man. Every second is worth its weight in gold.”

Nick tried to mount Chick’s shoulders, but Chick was too far gone and
could not hold him up.

“You get on my back,” said Nick.

But the deadly fumes had already weakened the detectives so that it was
impossible for them to continue their search for an exit.

“Slip off your coat, wrap it around your head, and get down on your
knees, your face to the floor.”

Nick made the suggestions in a quick voice, at the same time carrying
them into effect himself.

In this manner a temporary relief was obtained.

The foulest air lay near the roof.

It would be only a question of time, however, until every particle of
air in the chamber would be too deadly to sustain life.

The light was still burning, and Nick, with an awkward movement, turned
the ray upon his companion.

Chick had straightened out along the floor, and was lying still and
motionless.

“I guess it’s all day with us,” thought Nick. “To think that we are to
be done to death like this, and die like rats in a trap!”

He felt his senses going and fell from his knees.

As he did so, and just at the last moment of consciousness, he thought
he saw one of the blocks in the floor begin to rise.

Was it an illusion of his disordered senses?

It could not be!

For, as the stone arose, a draught of fresh air came through the opening
it left in the floor.

Nick inhaled a great draught of it, and started to his knees once more.

The ray from the pocket lamp was focussed upon the stone.

Nick turned the ray slightly, and saw the face of a man standing with
head and shoulders through the trap.

“Patsy!” he called, in a hoarse voice.

“Nick, by gum!”



CHAPTER X.

BREAKING THE NEWS.


Patsy had arrived right in the nick of time.

He had not tried to get to the saloon before ten o’clock, and he showed
up there in the guise of a Swede sailor, “three sheets in the wind.”

Ramsay was not there, and neither was Gillman, nor Starlick--the man in
the brown derby hat.

Patsy, of course, knew only Ramsay by sight, but he felt sure that he
could recognize the others by their voices.

Failing to find all or either of the three, he caught a low-pitched
conversation coming from two longshoremen in one corner.

One remark, which he caught in passing, electrified him.

“It was that prize landlubber, Nick Carter, and his mate, that’s who it
was.”

Feigning drunkenness, Patsy flopped into a chair and sprawled out on a
table, his head in his arms.

“Was the pickin’s good?” asked one of the men.

“Tollable.”

“And what was done with ’em?”

“They’re down below.”

“Will they ever show above the hatches ag’in?”

“Not this v’yage?”

Marking the first speaker well, Patsy got up and staggered out.

His manner changed when he got clear of the dive, and he rushed away in
the direction of the corner.

He was not long in finding an officer, and, after showing his badge and
telling who he was, he informed the policeman that Nick Carter was in a
bad way at Boucicault’s.

The officer gave a low whistle, a couple of patrolmen were picked up,
and the four of them returned to the dive.

To arrest the man whom Patsy had heard telling about Nick to his
companion was the work of only a few moments.

The fellow resisted and denied strenuously having raised a hand against
the detective.

A search of his clothes, however, developed Nick’s watch and one of his
revolvers.

Patsy recognized the articles, and the longshoreman was scared into
leading the officers to the place where the two detectives had been
confined.

They came up under the chamber and effected an entrance by means of a
rusty old lever which worked the movable stone slab.

Nick and Chick were dragged out into the fresher air.

While Patsy was busying himself with them, the officers went upstairs
and began a hunt for Boucicault and for any other men connected with the
outrage.

Boucicault had vanished--a habit he had when any particularly murderous
bit of work had been “pulled off” in his den.

When he appeared in court he usually proved an “alibi,” and--some
said--a political pull did the rest for him.

Boucicault could not be found, but three ruffians were discovered with
incriminating evidence concealed in their clothes.

Two of them had a pair of nickel-plated handcuffs, one the mate to
Nick’s revolver found on the first man, and one had Chick’s revolvers
and his watch.

The articles were all identified, the prisoners were taken to
headquarters in a patrol wagon, and Nick, Chick and Patsy started for
home.

There was nothing more to be done that night, Nick said, and they might
as well go home and catch forty winks of sleep before morning.

In truth, Nick and Chick were both in need of a quiet time, for they
were still weak from the rough treatment they had received, and dizzy
from the effects of the gas.

A few hours’ rest put them in shape, and next morning at nine, Nick
started Chick and Patsy off for Forty-fourth Street, suitably disguised.

Chick was to post himself at the front of the Montgomery House, and
Patsy at the rear.

When they had been gone a half-hour, Nick left the house in his make-up
of “Jones of Albany.”

He hired a cab, and was driven to the Montgomery House.

A man in a white suit was working in the street in front of the house,
and this man was Chick.

Nick told the cabby not to wait, paid him and ascended the steps and
pushed the electric bell.

A housemaid came to the door.

“I would like to see Mr. Montgomery,” said Nick.

“He’s not at home, sir.”

“Then I would like to speak with Miss Louise Lansing.”

“She is not well this morning.”

“I think she will see me. I wish to talk with her about her brother.”

A voice from the second floor came down the stairway behind the maid.

“Have the gentleman come in, Mary. Show him up to uncle’s study--I will
see him there.”

Nick was admitted and ushered up the broad stairs into a large room,
lined with books and comfortably furnished.

An open desk, strewed with papers, was at one end of the room.

A young lady of eighteen or nineteen, very pretty but very much
depressed, as Nick could see, met him as he came in.

Her eyes were red, and it was evident that she had been weeping.

“Miss Lansing?” the detective asked.

“That is my name, sir.”

“My name is Jones; I’m from Albany, and----”

“I heard you tell the servant that you wished to speak with me about my
brother,” broke in the girl, eagerly. “Do you know anything about him?
He has been gone since Monday night, and the suspense of not knowing
whether he is living or dead is more than I can bear. He disappeared
from Boston, as perhaps you know.”

“I will tell you about your brother in a few moments, Miss Lansing.
First, however, I would like to ask about your uncle, Mr. Montgomery.”

“Do you know whether John is alive? Oh, tell me that before anything
else!”

“Is your uncle in the house?” asked Nick.

“Did not the servant tell you he was gone?”

“When a servant tells a caller that her master is out, it does not
always follow that he is.”

“My uncle is not in the house, Mr. Jones.”

Nick passed to the study door and closed it.

Then he came back and took a chair by the desk.

“Your brother, Miss Lansing, is alive and well.”

Louise clasped her hands, and a sigh of intense relief escaped her lips.

“Oh, I am so happy!” she murmured. “You cannot tell, Mr. Jones, what a
relief it is to me to know that. I will tell uncle just as soon as he
comes.”

“You must not tell your uncle, Miss Lansing,” said Nick, firmly.

“Not tell uncle Horace?” she cried. “Why, what can you mean?”

“Just what I say. In a little while your uncle will know everything, but
just now he must know nothing. It is your brother’s wish as well as
mine.”

“But I cannot see why you make such a request,” said the girl,
perplexedly.

“Jones is not my real name, Miss Lansing,” said Nick.

He had been studying the girl and felt he could trust her.

“No?” she asked.

“I am Nicholas Carter.”

“You don’t tell me! John said he was going to secure your services to
look into this mine matter.”

“That is what he did, and that is why I am here now. It is also the
reason why I ask you to keep from your uncle the knowledge that your
brother is alive and well.”

“Of course, Mr. Carter, if you desire it, I will say nothing.”

“I do desire it. Call me Jones, Miss Lansing, just as though you did not
know my real name. If you could continue to act as though depressed and
anxious about your brother, whenever you meet your uncle, it would be
well.”

Her eyes opened very wide, but she did not ask Nick why he desired all
this.

It was evident that she thought it was all in the line of his duty and
that questioning would be out of place.

“I will do as you say, Mr. Car--Mr. Jones.”



CHAPTER XI.

THE CIGARETTE MACHINE.


Nick was about to speak on, but his eye caught a flash of something
among the papers on the desk.

He picked up the object and found that it was a small, nickel-plated
instrument used in manufacturing cigarettes.

“To whom does this belong?” he inquired.

“To uncle Horace. Do you know what it is, Mr. Jones?”

Nick ignored the question.

“How long has your uncle had it?”

“I do not know. I only remember seeing it here during the last two or
three days.”

“You would have seen it if it had been here before?”

“I think so.”

“Does your uncle smoke cigarettes?”

“What a curious question, Mr. Jones,” smiled the girl. “No, he does
not.”

“Does your brother John?”

“No.”

Nick laid the nickel-plated instrument back on the desk.

“Was your uncle home last night, Miss Lansing?”

“Yes.”

“All night?”

“He was at his club until midnight.”

“Ah! And at what time did he leave this morning?”

“About eight o’clock.”

Nick looked at his watch.

It was five minutes of ten.

“Did he say when he would return?”

“He said he would not return until late this afternoon. Two gentlemen
were to call here this morning, he said, and I was to give them this
letter.”

She picked up a sealed and addressed envelope that lay on a book on the
library table.

Nick apparently gave little attention to the letter.

“Has your uncle a profession?” he asked, casually, settling back in the
comfortable chair.

“Not now,” she answered.

“What did he do formerly?”

“He speculated.”

“On the stock market?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How long since he quit speculating?”

“Are you asking me all these questions because----”

“Just because I am curious,” Nick smiled. “Detectives are always
curious, you know.”

“But has this anything to do with the Royal Ophir mine?”

“Indirectly.”

“Well, it was only a month ago that uncle stopped operating on the stock
market.”

“Was he generally successful?”

“I do not know, Mr. Jones. I think he was.”

“Your uncle is wealthy?”

“I do not think he is so very wealthy.”

“Then he could not have been a very successful operator, do you think?”

“I never stopped to think of the matter in that way. Uncle has enough to
keep him as long as he lives, I guess.”

The maid rapped at the door, just then, and summoned Miss Lansing away.

“You will excuse me, Mr. Jones?” she asked, before leaving.

“Certainly,” said Nick. “Gladly,” he added to himself.

The instant he was left alone, Nick picked up the letter that lay on the
library table.

“J. Edward Bingham, Esq.,” ran the address.

Pulling out a leaf of the desk, Nick picked up a pearl paper cutter and
ran the edge around under the flap.

Then he took out the folded sheet and read as follows:

     “DEAR BINGHAM: Called away and cannot meet you and Cooper at ten
     this morning. Yasmar found it impossible to come, but will meet you
     at another place to-night, and deal will then be consummated. Bring
     your certified checks to my house at eight this evening, and I will
     take you to the place where Yasmar is to be waiting.

“MONTGOMERY.”



Picking up a blank sheet of paper, Nick took a pen and wrote another
letter.

It was slightly different from Montgomery’s.

He made no attempt to imitate Montgomery’s handwriting, nor did he sign
Montgomery’s name.

Experience assured him that receiving the communication from Miss
Lansing, and in Montgomery’s house, would make the letter plausible
enough for the purpose.

     “DEAR BINGHAM: Called away and cannot meet you and Cooper at ten
     this morning. Deal is off for to-day. Return by first train to
     Boston and wait there until Yasmar and I come.”

Nick put this in the envelope, sealed it with mucilage found on the
desk, and laid the letter on the book on the library table, just as it
was before.

In looking for the mucilage he had to disturb the papers a little, and
he found something else which he considered of the utmost importance.

This something else was a cigarette box containing five cigarettes which
fitted the cigarette machine and also bore a perfect resemblance to the
cigarette Nick had smoked, the day before, in the assay office.

Nick sank back in the chair, his face extremely thoughtful.

“Well, well,” he muttered.

Just then Miss Lansing came hurriedly in.

“The two gentlemen whom uncle expected are downstairs at the door,” she
said, walking to the table and picking up the letter. “I will return
presently, Mr. Jones.”

“I am in no hurry, Miss Lansing.”

When again left alone, Nick picked a cigarette from the box and put it
in his pocket.

He was ready to leave when Miss Lansing returned.

“Must you go?” asked the girl.

“Yes, but I would like to leave some one here, if you have no
objections.”

“Who, Mr. Jones?”

“One of my assistants. If possible, I would be glad if his presence
here could remain a secret between us--even if your uncle should come.”

“It could be arranged, Mr. Jones.”

“Then I will summon my assistant. Will you conduct me to a rear window
on this floor?”

The girl was puzzled, but led Nick to a window in the rear, overlooking
the back yard between Forty-fourth and Forty-fifth Streets.

In one of the yards, in plain view of the rear of the Montgomery house,
a roughly dressed young man was working at a clothes pole.

Nick waved his hand.

The man nodded and started to slide down.

“Now,” said Nick, “if I can go down and admit him----”

“I will do that myself, Mr. Jones.”

In a few moments Patsy was with his chief and had received his
instructions.

Louise Lansing accompanied Nick to the door.

“If your uncle should return, Miss Lansing,” said Nick, in a low tone,
“please tell him nothing about my having been here.”

“Very good. When will my brother come?”

“To-night; but that must also be kept a secret, especially from your
uncle and the servants. Your brother will explain to you.”

When Nick departed he left behind him a very much bewildered young lady,
yet a very happy one, nevertheless.



CHAPTER XII.

Montgomery at Bay.


“Meet me at the corner, Chick,” said Nick, as he passed the man who was
working on the street.

Nick waited, just around the corner on Sixth Avenue, and Chick came,
stripped of his white overalls, blouse and hat and wearing his own
garments.

He had traded with the regular street cleaner, for the time being, and
the street cleaner was five dollars better off by the deal.

“Did you observe closely the two men who called at the house while I was
there?” Nick asked.

“Yes. They drove up in a two-wheeler, and when they came out one of them
was reading a letter.”

“Did the letter excite them?”

“They seemed a trifle worked up.”

“They’ll be worked up a good deal more before they finally quiet down,”
laughed Nick. “You have got to pass for one of those men to-night,
Chick, and Patsy for the other.”

“If it’s pretty dark, I guess we can.”

“Patsy will be busy all day, and you’ll have to secure the disguise for
him as well as for yourself.”

“All right.”

“Get both disguises and bring them to the house. First, however, you are
to take this cigarette and go to Cruse & Cupell’s. Find Mr. Cupell and
confer with him privately. Tell him who you are and that you want him to
smoke the cigarette and assay it, just as he did the other.”

“I see.”

“Have him make a rush job of it.”

“Sure.”

“Then find out if Gillman has come back to work this morning.

“Anything else?”

“That’s all.”

Chick boarded a Sixth Avenue car and started for Twenty-third Street.

Nick went to the address given him by John Lansing.

It was an obscure boarding house over on the other side of Broadway.

At the door Nick asked for “Herman Trevor,” which was the name Lansing
had penciled on the card.

Mr. Trevor was sick in bed, the servant said.

“He’ll see me,” said Nick.

“Who shall I tell him wants to see him?”

“Don’t tell him. Just say it’s in regard to the Royal Ophir.”

Nick was admitted to the “sick” room and found that Lansing was feigning
illness in order to keep in his room without causing remark.

He gave the young man a brief outline of what he had accomplished and of
what he hoped yet to accomplish.

Lansing was astounded when he saw the drift of the detective’s logic.

He did not agree with Nick in his deductions, but promised faithfully to
carry out his instructions.

Nick went away and proceeded to a secondhand clothing store to buy a
suit of clothes that he desired for his own use.

It was difficult to find what he wanted, but at last he succeeded and
made for home.

Chick was already there.

“Here’s the assay,” said Chick, handing over the certificate.

“Fifty thousand to the ton,” murmured Nick, looking at the certificate.
“The cigarettes all pan out the same. You got the disguises?”

“Yes.”

“Put on yours and be ready to go with me at seven o’clock. We’ll carry
Patsy’s get-up with us in a satchel.”

“I’ll be ready. Gillman hasn’t shown up at the assay office to-day,
Nick.”

“I didn’t think he had.”

Chick went away and Nick threw himself down to smoke.

At seven o’clock Chick came into the study.

He had a brown satchel in his hand and looked like a red-haired
capitalist.

“Good!” said Nick. “You’ll do for Cooper.”

“Providing you don’t throw a flash light on me,” laughed Chick. “You’re
good, too, but I don’t know who you stand for.”

“Horace Montgomery.”

Nick wore an iron-gray wig and mustache and chin whiskers, gold-bowed
spectacles rested on the bridge of his nose, and a silk hat of slightly
old-fashioned block covered his head.

A grayish frock coat, with trousers of same material, patent leathers,
dark spats and a gold-headed cane finished the disguise.

In each hip pocket he had one of his small but reliable revolvers, and
in the breast of his coat were two pairs of handcuffs.

They rode in a cab to the Montgomery house, the cab was dismissed and
they walked up the steps to the door.

As Nick was about to press the bell the door opened and Montgomery
himself stepped out.

For an instant the two confronted each other in the semi-gloom.

“Merciful heavens!” gasped Montgomery, gazing as one transfixed at the
living and breathing counterfeit of himself.

He recoiled, brushing a hand across his forehead.

His eyes wandered to Chick.

“Cooper,” he cried, “what does this mean?”

“I’ll tell you what it means, Montgomery,” answered Nick, sternly. “Go
up to your study. Cooper will go with you, and I will join you both in a
few moments.”

As one in a dream Montgomery turned and entered the house.

He walked up the stairs, Chick close behind him.

When they had passed from sight, Nick turned to Louise Lansing, who was
standing in the parlor doorway with distended eyes.

“Is--is it really you, Mr. Carter?” she queried.

“Yes.”

“I can hardly believe my eyes.”

“Is everything all right?”

“It is.”

“How long has your uncle been here?”

“Not more than an hour.”

“Now, listen, Miss Lansing. I will give the signal by dropping a book.”

“I understand.”

Nick ran hurriedly upstairs, and, as he turned from the landing, Patsy
stepped out of a room and caught his sleeve.

“Anything happened here since I left you, Patsy?” whispered Nick.

“Not a thing of any consequence.”

“You understand what’s to be done?”

“Yes.”

“Miss Lansing knows the signal.”

Nick passed into the study, closing the door after him.

Montgomery, a harassed and apprehensive look on his face, sat in the
chair before his desk.

He turned his startled eyes on Nick as the latter entered.

“What does this farce mean?” he demanded, making a great effort to
regain his composure.

“It means that I shall pose as Horace Montgomery for a few hours.”

“What sort of a crooked game are you attempting to play?”

“It is not crooked.”

“Who in the fiend’s name are you, anyway?”

“Nicholas Carter.”

Montgomery had started to rise, but at the sound of that name he sank
back with glassy eyes.

“You--you----” he faltered. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to have a little talk with you. Could you load a few cigarettes
for me, Mr. Montgomery?”

Had a bomb exploded at Montgomery’s feet he could not have been more
startled than he was then.

He sprang forward in his chair and stared at the great detective as one
fascinated.

“When you speculated with the money belonging to John and Louise
Lansing, why did you not tell them?”

Montgomery’s white lips moved but gave no sound.

“After you lost that money, why have you tried to make your wards
believe that you were going to invest it in the Royal Ophir mine?”

The guardian swallowed a lump in his throat, and his face was as white
as a sheet.

“Did you want to make it appear that you had invested it in a salted
mine, after an investigation that was seemingly sincere, and had lost it
in that way?”

No answer came from the pallid wretch in the chair.

“What was to be your share of the money to be secured from Cooper and
Bingham?”

Still no answer.

“Horace Montgomery, you are a thief!”



CHAPTER XIII.

A NECESSARY CRUELTY.


Nick was on his feet in front of the cowering man, pointing one finger
at him.

Montgomery merely writhed in his seat, but did not say a word.

“But that is not the worst,” went on the detective, mercilessly. “You
know that your nephew, John Lansing, started for Boston on Monday night,
by the Fall River boat.”

Nick drew back to the library table and picked up a book that lay there.

“You told Yasmar--or Ramsay, to give him his real name--that John
Lansing was going to Boston to talk with Cooper and Bingham in the
attempt to dissuade them from making that investment in the Royal Ophir
mine.

“He took the same boat that Lansing boarded.

“At midnight, out in the Sound, they had a talk, angry words were
passed, Ramsay struck Lansing on the head in a moment of passion and
flung him into the sea----”

“It’s a lie!” cried Montgomery, hoarsely.

“It’s the truth!”

“Are you man or devil?” whispered Montgomery. He made a sudden movement
and jerked a revolver from a drawer in his desk. “But, man or devil,
stop this bullet if you can!”

Chick made a motion as though he would grab Montgomery’s arm.

With a look Nick warned him not to interfere and threw the book to the
floor.

Instantly the hall door opened.

“There,” cried Nick, whirling and pointing to the form of John Lansing
standing in the door, “there stands your dead sister’s son, the boy you
robbed, the boy you thought murdered!”

The revolver trembled in Montgomery’s hand.

He dropped it, sprang up and stood looking at his nephew as though
confronted by a specter.

Suddenly he threw up his hand and fell backward into his seat.

“John!” he groaned; “John!”

Nick sprang to his side.

“Where were you to meet this man Ramsay or Yasmar to-night?” cried Nick.
“I knew that you were to meet him and to take Bingham and Cooper with
you. Where was it? Tell me, quick!”

Montgomery looked into Nick’s face with frenzied eyes.

It seemed hard for him to comprehend anything.

Nick repeated the question.

“Tell me, I tell you!” he finished. “You thought your nephew was killed,
and you kept the matter a secret; and you tried to kill me and my
assistant in Boucicault’s last night----”

“Before Heaven, Carter----” began Montgomery.

“Where were you to meet him to-night?” demanded Nick.

“The Obelisk, Central Park.”

“What time?”

“Eight-thirty.”

“Who were to be there?”

“Himself, Starlick, Gillman.”

“You were to exchange money for a deed?”

“Yes.”

“Not at the Obelisk?”

“No. We were to go to a room.”

Montgomery’s desk-chair was a massive piece of furniture, with high
carved arms running from back to seat.

With a quick movement Nick slipped the man’s wrists together, one hand
under the arm.

The next moment he had snapped on the handcuffs, securing Montgomery to
the chair.

Owing to the height of the chair arms the position was not
uncomfortable.

“Oh, Mr. Carter,” cried the voice of Louise Lansing from the door, “is
it a necessary cruelty?”

“For a little while only,” answered Nick. “I have prevented the steal
that your uncle, in connection with Ramsay--or Yasmar, as you have known
him--and his accomplices, tried so hard to accomplish.

“Ramsay is wanted in Montana for another crime, but your uncle I shall
leave in your hands.”

Nick turned to John Lansing.

“Here is a key to those handcuffs,” he said. “Do not release him until
nine o’clock.”

John Lansing was very pale and was trembling visibly.

It was evident that his nerves were greatly shaken at the disclosure he
had heard.

“I will do as you say, Mr. Carter,” said he.

“Chick,” went on Nick, facing his assistant, “Patsy is in the hall. Take
him that outfit and have him make ready. There’s sharp work ahead.”

In five minutes Patsy was ready, and the detectives departed.



CHAPTER XIV.

AT THE OBELISK.


At eight-thirty sharp a “four-wheeler” dashed up the east drive of
Central Park and came to a halt opposite the Egyptian relic known as the
Obelisk, otherwise “Cleopatra’s Needle.”

Three men got out of the carriage.

An electric light faintly illuminated that particular spot, and the
forms looked dark and indistinct.

But their general outlines were plain enough.

Three more men sat on a park bench hard by the Obelisk.

One of them was tall and wore a slouch hat.

“Here they come,” he said, in a low voice to those near him.

At the same moment Nick Carter had breathed to his two aides:

“Get the cuffs on them as soon as we get within arm’s reach. I’ll take
Ramsay. Chick, you’ll attend to the man in the brown derby. Patsy, take
the third.”

The three men on the bench got up and spread out, separating so that
there were two or three yards between each of them.

The detectives also separated, each making for the man that had been
picked out for him.

A mounted policeman, further along the drive, was approaching at a trot.

He had seen the four-wheeler driving faster than the park regulations
allowed, and had started after it at a gallop.

Now that the carriage had stopped haste was not necessary, and he came
on at a more leisurely gait.

Nick and Ramsay came close together at the railing about the base of the
monument, Nick with his right hand thrust into the breast of the frock
coat and holding the second pair of cuffs.

“On time, I see,” said Ramsay.

“Always on time,” answered Nick, edging closer.

“Are those fellows all right?”

“Whisper,” said Nick, bending forward.

Ramsay brought his face close.

Snap!

Almost before he could realize what was up the cold steel was about his
wrists.

“You’re my prisoner, my dear Ramsay,” said Nick, calmly. “Make a break
and you’ll stop a bullet.”

“Nick Carter!” cried the amazed Westerner.

“The same.”

“Curse you!”

He sprang at Nick furiously.

Nick grabbed him by the collar, but he wrenched away, fighting like a
demon with his manacled hands.

“Here, none o’ that!”

It was the officer.

He had dismounted to read the riot act to the driver of the carriage,
the latter having jumped from the box to fix one of the harness tugs.

Seeing that a row, as he supposed, had started up the incline, toward
the monument, he ran in that direction.

“Stop!” shouted Nick to Ramsay, who was a yard or more away. “Stop or
I’ll shoot you.”

Nick had a revolver in his hand, but the officer was close enough to
grab it.

“Don’t you know better than to----”

“Nick Carter, officer!” exclaimed Nick. “I’m after that man--he’s a
thief.”

“Je-ru-sa-lem!” gasped the astounded bluecoat.

By then, Ramsay, making good use of his legs, had reached the officer’s
horse.

Without touching his manacled hands to the saddle he sprang to the
animal’s back, gave a yell, and dug in with his heels.

Away went the horse at a wild gallop.

Half a dozen jumps carried Nick down the hill.

Another jump landed him on the seat of the carriage.

Grabbing up the lines and the whip, with one movement he plied the lash
and the startled horses leaped madly away.

The policeman was close behind Nick, more than anxious to help undo the
evil results of his mistake.

He was athletic enough, and he grabbed at the carriage as it started,
rested one foot on the turning hub, and gained the box.

“We’ll get him,” he said. “Let me use the whip and you do the driving.”

The horses tore away at a mad gallop, the officer slapping them right
and left.

Pedestrians scampered in every direction, but, owing to Nick’s skillful
handling of the lines, no one was injured.

Nick did not think he could overtake the fugitive, but he knew that
something would happen to the fellow, and he wanted to be near enough to
see that he did not escape, in case of accident or other misadventure.

Suddenly a mounted officer appeared in the roadway directly ahead of
Ramsay.

Taking in the situation, the officer turned his horse across the road
and drew a gun.

“Halt!” he cried.

Ramsay halted, but he did not surrender.

Owing to the nature of the ground on each side of the driveway he could
not turn from the road, so he whirled the horse sharply and started full
tilt in the direction of the carriage.

Nick divined his object.

He counted on passing the carriage and making off in the other
direction--a desperate expedient at best.

In order to keep those on the carriage seat from shooting him, Ramsay
leaned down and shielded the upper part of his body behind the horse’s
neck.

“I’ll have him now,” muttered Nick, pulling the carriage team to a halt.
“Officer, take the lines.”

The officer took them, and Nick made ready for a spring.

On came the horse at a gallop, heading to pass within a few feet of the
carriage, on Nick’s side.

The detective watched his chances, and, when the right moment had
arrived, hurled himself outward and downward, grabbing the horse’s
bits.

The weight on its head brought the animal to an abrupt stop--so abrupt
that Ramsay was thrown from the saddle into the road.

Before he could rise, Nick was on top of him, pinning him down.

Ramsay, in spite of the handcuffs, had drawn a revolver from a breast
pocket, and Nick jerked it out of his hand.

“Don’t be a fool,” said Nick. “You might have been killed!”

An oath was Ramsay’s only response.

Nick, groping about under the frock coat, found another revolver in his
prisoner’s hip pocket and a knife and sheath in the breast pocket.

Both weapons he abstracted and threw to the policeman who had jumped
down, caught his horse, and was standing near, ready to lend a hand in
case help was needed.

But Nick did not require assistance.

“It’s up to you, Carter,” said Ramsay. “You’ve got me and I cave.”

“Get up, then.”

Nick got off the fellow’s prostrate form, thrusting a hand through his
arm.

The policeman picked up Ramsay’s hat and put it on his head, and Nick
marched his man over to where Chick and Patsy were holding Gillman and
Starlick.

The capture was safely effected, but the great detective had had an
exciting three minutes.

Patsy had had no trouble at all in getting the darbies on Gillman, and
Chick had not had enough to speak of in making the capture of Starlick.

Starlick showed fight and tried to run around the Obelisk, an empty
handcuff dangling from his right wrist.

Chick caught him in two leaps, threw him down, and put on the other
bracelet.

The manacles had a quieting effect, and Starlick undertook the rôle of
an “innocent bystander.”

“What does this mean?” he cried, angrily.

“If you don’t know you’ll find out quick enough,” replied Chick.

“It’s an outrage, an infernal outrage. Officer,” he turned to the man
who accompanied Nick and Ramsay, “I demand that you have these handcuffs
taken off my wrists.”

“Keep still!” exclaimed the officer, sharply. “Nick Carter knows well
enough what he’s about.”

Starlick toned down, the very name of Nick Carter having a quieting
effect.

An hour later the men were in the police station, and Nick had sent a
telegram to the chief of police, Helena, Mont., telling of the capture
of Ramsay.

Not one of the prisoners was brought to book on account of the clever
swindle which would have been perpetrated but for the skill and
vigilance of Nick Carter and his assistants.

Starlick was found to be an old offender and badly wanted for a
safe-cracking job in Chicago.

He went that far West on the same train that took Ramsay back to
Montana.

Both men were tried and sent over the road.

Gillman had all the elements that go to the making of a daring and
successful crook.

But there was little to be brought against him, and he was allowed to go
his way.

As for Montgomery, he shot himself the day following and was found
leaning over his desk, dead.

The revolver was still clutched in his hand, and a letter lay in front
of him addressed to his two wards.

A portion of the letter ran as follows:

     “I used your money in my speculative schemes without your
     knowledge. I believe I had a right to do this, for under the terms
     of your mother’s will I had an absolutely free hand to make use of
     the money as I saw fit.

     “For a time I made money on Wall Street. But my fate was the
     common fate of all stock gamblers. My own earnings went, and then I
     used your funds and they went, too.

     “I could not bear to have it known that I had lost your inheritance
     on the stock market, and so connived at this other operation. I was
     to help Ramsay. Ostensibly the Royal Ophir was to cost a million,
     of which I was to put up five hundred thousand dollars and the two
     Boston men the remaining five hundred thousand dollars. Really,
     only the money of the Boston men was to go into the deal.

     “It was my business to interest them and to help on the ‘salting’
     operation to the extent of preparing the loaded cigarettes. For
     this I expected to receive one hundred thousand dollars--which sum
     I intended turning over to you.

     “But I have failed in that, and now the utmost I can do is to die
     so that you may have the one hundred and fifty thousand dollars
     insurance which I have taken out on my life. That and this home is
     to be yours. It is all that is left of your inheritance.”



CHAPTER XV.

THE TENDER-HEARTED WATCHMAN.


Nick’s return to town had not been quite as peaceful as he had hoped.
But he was more than satisfied with the result of the work of the last
few days.

He had captured one of the men who had escaped him in the round-up of
the big Western swindle.

Only one other member of that gang was now at large, and the capture of
Ramsay served to make Nick all the more eager to repeat the operation
with the missing swindler.

Ramsay was questioned as to the whereabouts of this man, but he was not
able to tell anything save that the two had come East together and that
Ramsay had parted from his pal in Boston and had heard nothing from him
since then.

Nick sought around for clews and finally came in touch with his man
through a splendidly organized bank robbery.

The story of the bank robbery indicated that more than ordinary
intelligence had been brought into play in consummating this piece of
villainy.

The bank was the People’s National, of Latimer, Vt.

The robbery occurred at one o’clock in the morning.

The watchman was making his hourly round of the premises when a voice
outside struck on his ears.

“Help! For Heaven’s sake, do something for me!” came the cry. “Call an
ambulance, quick!”

The bank occupied the first floor of a corner building.

There were two floors above, divided into rooms and used as offices by
lawyers and real estate men.

In front of the building was a lamp-post.

Next to the lamp-post was an upright, bearing a box-like contrivance
containing a massive gong.

This gong was connected electrically with the bank vaults, and was
supposed to sound an alarm if the vaults were tampered with in any way.

Halting at one of the front windows, the watchman peered through into
the ring of yellow light thrown by the street lamp.

Clinging to the lamp-post was a man in a frock coat and silk hat--well
dressed, as the watchman could plainly see.

Nor was he drunk, although he wavered from side to side and had all he
could do to hold himself in an upright position.

It was evident that there was something serious the matter with him,
and the watchman pressed his face close to the window and craned his
neck to look up and down the street.

There was absolutely no one in sight who might proceed to the
unfortunate man’s assistance.

It was against the watchman’s orders to leave the bank for even a
minute, but he was a kind-hearted person and hated to see a fellow being
in distress and never raise a finger to help.

While the watchman stood there, the well-dressed individual gave vent to
a hollow groan, slipped from the lamp-post and fell prone to the walk.

That was more than the watchman could stand.

The next instant he had unlocked and unbolted the massive bank door and
had hurried across the walk.

“Who are you?” he demanded, kneeling beside the man. “What is the
matter?”

The man tried to talk, but his voice was no more than a faint whisper.

The watchman bent his ear to the man’s lips.

Then, in a flash, the supposedly sick man’s hands shot upward and
gripped the watchman about the throat.

Simultaneously with this movement, a figure darted out of a hallway to
the right of the bank, sandbag in hand.

A blow on the head settled the watchman, who pitched along the walk and
lay silent and still.

“Into the bank with him, quick!” hissed the well-dressed individual, and
the watchman was picked up, head and heels, and hustled back into the
room which he had so recently quitted.

The door was again locked and bolted.

“Not a second too soon,” went on the well-dressed man. “Down! Here comes
the other watchman.”

The two villains sank out of sight beneath the window.

A slow step was heard outside as some one rounded the corner; then a
pencil of light from a bull’s-eye lantern shot into the bank through the
window.

The ray swept aimlessly around, vanished, and the steps were heard once
more, dying away in the distance.

“It will be two hours before that cove comes around again,” muttered the
man who had used the sandbag.

“In two hours, then, we have got to have this job over and be away from
here,” returned the other. “Where’s Cricket?”

“On the watch halfway down the main street.”

“And Five Points?”

“He’s watching at the rear of the bank on the cross street.”

“Good! You know about the wires of that burglar alarm, Spark?”

“Sure.”

“Then go below and break the connection.”

“I’ll be back in five minutes, Clancy.”

Spark vanished in the dusky regions at the rear of the bank, and Clancy
dropped down beside the watchman.

From his pocket he took a gag and fixed it about the watchman’s jaws;
then, with two pieces of rope, he tied his prisoner hand and foot and
dragged him out of sight under a customers’ desk that stood near the
window.

After that he passed through the cashier’s cage and halted in front of
the vault door.

There was a dimly burning light in front of the vault, and above the
iron door there was a clock.

“A time-clock,” said Spark, coming up at that moment.

“Did you fix the alarm?” queried Clancy, in a sharp tone.

“Broke the battery that operates it.”

“Then out with the tools.”

Clancy threw off his frock coat, folded it carefully and laid it on an
office stool.

On top of his coat he placed his silk hat.

Meanwhile, Spark had produced the “tools”--and peculiar tools they
were.

They consisted of a rubber bag, a bar of brown soap, a coil of fuse and
some caps.

Each man knew just what work he was to perform, and went about it
without a word.

Breaking the bar of soap in two, Clancy handed one piece to Spark, and
they set to work plastering up the crack at the edge of the vault door.

This was skillfully and quickly accomplished.

From the top of another office stool, Clancy fashioned a cup of the soap
on the upper crack.

The bag contained nitroglycerin.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE CASHIER’S ANNOUNCEMENT.


Spark handed the bag to Clancy, and the latter poured some of the
nitroglycerin into the cup.

Then, crouching under one of the counters, they waited while the
explosive oozed downward about the vault door on the inside.

“Give me the fuse,” said Clancy, emerging from under the counter when a
sufficient period had elapsed.

Again he mounted the stool, fitted a cap to the end of the fuse, placed
the cap in the cup and applied a match.

Both retreated for a short distance.

Presently there came a muffled explosion, resulting in the bursting open
of the vault door.

The alarm was silent, proving that Spark had done his work well.

For several moments, however, neither of the robbers made a move--simply
crouched where they were and listened intently.

There was no sound outside, so it was evident that the explosion had
aroused no one.

“Now for the second door,” said Clancy.

The second door was treated in exactly the same manner as the first, and
within an hour from the time the night watchman had left the bank to
succor the distressed individual on the sidewalk the funds of the
People’s National lay at the mercy of the “yeggmen.”

From his pockets Spark brought out a number of canvas bags.

While these bags were being filled a shout came from the rear of the
bank, followed by two revolver shots--the two reports echoing out almost
as one.

“The devil!” exclaimed Clancy.

“It’s Five Points,” breathed Spark, in a sharp undertone.

Both men hurried to the front door and stood there, revolvers in hand.

Quick steps were heard on the walk, and a face was pressed against the
glass in the upper part of one of the doors.

“Cricket!” exclaimed Clancy, and hastily admitted the newcomer. “What is
it?” he added.

“The outside watchman discovered Five Points, and they had a wrestle and
an exchange of shots,” said Cricket.

“How’s the watchman?”

“Laid out cold, I take it.”

A muffled oath fell from Clancy’s lips.

“And Five Points?” he went on.

“He’s got it bad.”

“Able to get away?”

“Just about. He’s already started.”

“Lay hold of the plunder, you two, and we’ll make a get-away ourselves.”

Spark and Cricket hurried into the vault, and Clancy followed as far as
the stool in the cashier’s cage.

There he halted and calmly got into his coat and put on his hat, all the
time watching the door and listening intently.

The other two emerged from the vault, staggering under the weight of the
bags.

Clancy took one of the bags, and the three walked out of the bank,
fading away into the night like ill-omened wraiths.

It was six o’clock the following morning when a patrolman heard a groan
coming from the alleyway in the rear of the bank.

Stepping in to investigate, he was horrified to find the outside
watchman weltering in a pool of blood.

The wounded man was barely able to speak. He told, gaspingly, of the ill
luck that had befallen him, and added that he believed the bank had been
robbed.

Running to the nearest patrol box, the officer summoned an ambulance,
after which he hurried to the bank.

He found and released the inside watchman, heard his story, and
immediately got in some lively work with the telephone.

The chief of police was notified and also the president of the bank.

The latter, in turn, called up the cashier and as many of the directors
as he could reach by phone.

By eight o’clock there was a gathering of police and bank officials
about the wrecked doors of the plundered vault, the cashier and an
assistant being inside checking up.

At eight-thirty the cashier came out of the vault with a white face.

“They got little for all their pains,” he said, loud enough for the
police officials and a couple of reporters to overhear. “Only about five
thousand dollars, all told.”

A look of relief overspread the faces of the president and the two
directors who were present.

The next moment the president, directors and the cashier stepped into
the president’s private office.

There the cashier acknowledged that he had made a misstatement.

Instead of taking five thousand dollars, the thieves had decamped with
seventy-five thousand dollars.

“We’re a comparatively small and provincial institution,” said the
president, slowly, after a brief interval of silence, “and this loss
will spell ruin for us unless----” He hesitated.

“Unless what?” asked one of the directors, huskily, mopping the sweat
from his forehead.

“Unless we can recover the money before it is generally known that the
cashier made a willful misstatement.”

“The police of this town can never do it,” asserted the other director.

“Shall we go down in our pockets and pay out a good big fee to a man who
might be able to save us?” inquired the president.

“It may be throwing good money after bad,” said the first director,
shaking his head.

“Nevertheless,” said the second director, “I move that we try it,
anyhow.”

“Shall I go ahead?” asked the president.

“Yes,” came from both directors and the cashier.

Ten minutes later the following telegram was speeding over the wires:

     “NICHOLAS CARTER, New York City: Bank robbery here. Will you name
     your own fee and take the case?

“JULIUS HEPNER.”



“He won’t come,” said Clarkson, one of the directors. “He has all he can
attend to right in New York.”

But Clarkson was wrong, for the following answer came from the great
detective within two hours after the president had wired:

     “JULIUS HEPNER, Latimer, Vt.: Coming on first train. Keep hands off
     until I get there.

NICHOLAS CARTER.”



It was fate that influenced Nick’s reply, for he did not guess that in
responding to the summons he was going to strike the trail of the man
whom of all others he wished to capture--the missing swindler from the
West who had come East with Ramsay. Ramsay was now under lock and key,
and Nick’s journey to Vermont was to bring him in touch with Ramsay’s
pal.



CHAPTER XVII.

“OLD HANDS.”


The bank robbery took place during the night of Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, at seven o’clock, a neatly dressed man, wearing a
pair of very respectable “Dundrearies,” made his appearance at the
Memorial Hospital, in Latimer.

“What can I do for you, sir?” inquired the assistant superintendent, who
was in charge at that early hour.

“Albert Gardner, the watchman who was shot during the bank robbery, was
brought here, was he not?”

“Yes.”

“I would like to speak with him a moment.”

“I am very sorry, sir, but he died an hour ago.”

“Ah! He left an _ante-mortem_ statement?”

“He did.”

“And it is now in the hands of the police department?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you.”

In half an hour the stranger had called at police headquarters, had
introduced himself and had been cordially welcomed.

At his request, the statement made out by Gardner was brought out for
inspection.

It had nothing whatever to say about the robbery, but nevertheless, it
had an indirect value.

Some time between two and three o’clock in the morning, so ran the
statement, Gardner was rounding the block, trying doors as he went.

When opposite the entrance to the alley in the rear of the bank he heard
a sound that aroused his attention.

He started into the alley, flashing his bull’s-eye ahead of him as he
proceeded.

He had not taken more than twenty or thirty steps when he was set upon,
and, for a moment, roughly handled.

Finally he succeeded in drawing his revolver.

Just as he was about to pull the trigger, his antagonist fired a shot.

This deflected Gardner’s aim, for he was hit in the breast. However, he
fired and was certain he wounded his man.

Then he lost consciousness, and had come to himself but a few moments
before being found by the patrolman.

He could give no description of the man, for the bull’s-eye lantern was
knocked to the ground and smashed at the time the watchman was set upon,
and thereafter the struggle had been continued in the dark.

“Not much to be learned from this, chief,” said Nick.

“The whole affair is the blackest kind of a mystery,” declared the
chief. “The robbers left not the slightest clew behind.”

“You’ve been going over the ground pretty thoroughly?”

“Up to noon, yesterday. Then I got orders to wait for you.”

“How big a town is this?”

“About twenty thousand.”

“Have you brought in any suspicious characters?”

“Six or seven.”

“I’d like to have a look at them. If New York crooks pulled off this
graft I may be able to recognize one of the suspects.”

The prisoners were brought in.

They were all of the “bum” variety, and their faces were unfamiliar.

“Better let them go,” said Nick; “they’re not concerned.”

The chief was surprised.

“What makes you think they’re not concerned in the robbery?” he asked.

“Not one of the seven knows enough. If hoboes did this job, they are of
a different caliber from those you have run in. And, last but not least,
they’d have different hands.”

“Different hands?” echoed the amazed officer.

Nick nodded.

“A tramp who uses an ax, or a buck-saw, to earn a meal, has a palm
entirely unlike a cracksman.”

“But you didn’t look at their hands!”

“Yes, I did,” smiled Nick. “Now, if you please, I would like to see the
patrolman who found Gardner.”

“You seem pretty well posted, Mr. Carter.”

“I read the newspapers pretty carefully.”

The patrolman was brought in, but the interview with him developed
nothing of importance.

From police headquarters the detective went to the home of Alonzo
Burton, the bank watchman.

Burton had his head bandaged, and was lying on a lounge in his little
front parlor.

The air of the room was impregnated with a smell of arnica, and a buxom
young woman was moving about the place, waiting upon the sufferer.

Burton told the ruse by which he had been lured out upon the sidewalk.

He could give only a general and indefinite description of the man in
the frock coat and silk hat, and could give no description whatever of
the man’s companion.

Like the other watchman, Burton had been knocked insensible very early
in the game.

“They are old hands,” thought Nick, as he went away from the watchman’s
house. “Too bad that I am twenty-four hours late in reaching the scene.
It is a serious handicap.”

He was bound for the bank, now, and in approaching the bank building he
came from the rear.

Halting at the alley, he looked in.

“Twenty or thirty paces,” he mused, recalling the statement made by
Gardner.

He counted off twenty paces and then saw, a few feet in front of him, on
the right side of the alley, evidences of the struggle that had taken
place there.

The feet of ruthless people had trodden ruthlessly about and over the
spot, but the evidences had not been entirely obliterated.

The building on the right was a one-story structure, occupied by a
grocery.

At the rear was a heap of empty boxes, and close to one of these boxes
a dark stain of blood marked the place where the watchman had lain.

Nick searched the vicinity carefully.

The outlook for evidence was unpromising, but he knew very well that
appearances were not always to be trusted.

In a quarter of an hour he had gone over the ground thoroughly, and
under the edge of one of the boxes he had found a square card.

It was made of fine, heavy bristol board, and was the general shape of a
visiting card such as a man might use.

On the side which had undoubtedly borne the name and address were two
oblong blurs showing where a knife had scraped out the names and
numbers.

On its reverse the card bore a stain of blood and these words, in
pencil:

“Quarter to twelve, Mechlin, Gotham.”

“Here’s something, at all events,” thought Nick.

He placed the card carefully in his pocketbook; then, with a final look
at the spot where Gardner had had his life and death struggle, he
started slowly and thoughtfully out of the alley and toward the front of
the bank.

Before he reached the bank entrance he came to a sudden halt.

“By Jove!” he muttered.

He did not go into the bank, at that moment, but hastened past the
entrance and turned in at a telegraph office further down the street.

There he wrote out and sent the following “rush” message, the contents
being in cipher:

“CHICKERING CARTER, New York:

     “Investigate No. 1145 Mechlin Street immediately. Send Patsy along
     by first train.

NICK.”



CHAPTER XVIII.

A MYSTERIOUS BULLET.


It was ten o’clock when Nick Carter walked into the People’s National
Bank, halted at the cashier’s window, and asked for Mr. Hepner.

The cashier knew all the customers of the institution, and the sight of
a strange face prompted him to put a question on a matter that was
uppermost in his mind:

“Are you Mr.----”

“Yes,” interrupted the detective. “I am Mr. Nicholas, the man you are
looking for.”

The cashier gave a start and looked at Nick blankly for a moment.

Then his face cleared.

“Ah, yes,” he smiled. “I understand. I will go in and tell Mr. Hepner
you are here, Mr. Nicholas.”

“Just a moment. I would like a look at the vault before I talk with Mr.
Hepner.”

“Very well, sir.”

The cashier opened the door of the cage, and Nick stepped in, throwing a
critical glance about him as he walked to the wrecked doors of the
strong room.

Brown soap lay thick on the edges of both doors.

He passed inside the steel chamber, the cashier accompanying him.

“Made a pretty clean sweep, did they?” Nick asked, looking keenly around
at the evidence of pillage.

“They seemed to know just what they wanted, Mr. Car--er--Mr. Nicholas.”

“That’s a way they have--sometimes. Did they make off with any specie?”

“Both specie and bills.”

“I see. Now I believe I will talk with Mr. Hepner.”

The cashier took the detective to the president’s door and announced
him.

“When did you get in, Mr. Carter?” asked the president, after greeting
his caller.

“I would prefer to have you allude to me as Nicholas, Mr. Hepner. Cut
out the Carter, for the present.”

“All right, Mr. Nicholas. When did you reach town?”

“Last night.”

“I have been looking for you to call for two hours or more.”

“I was too busy to call before. Just how much more than five thousand
dollars did the thieves make way with, Mr. Hepner?”

The president flashed a quick glance into the detective’s face.

“What leads you to believe that they got any more than that amount?” he
asked.

“Several things. You would not have wired me to take this case on my own
terms for a mere bagatelle of five thousand.”

“Possibly not.”

“And yeggmen with the experience of those who made this haul are not
running the risk for so small a figure. They timed their operations so
as to catch the vault with plenty of the ready inside.”

“A simple case of deduction, by George!” exclaimed Hepner. “The reporter
for the papers here, however, believed the cashier’s statement as to the
amount of our losses.”

“A reporter is not a detective, although occasionally a reporter will do
good work. Generally, though, they do more harm than good. How much are
you out, Mr. Hepner?”

“About seventy-five thousand. Twenty thousand was turned in here on a
demand certificate of deposit, at almost closing time, Monday.”

Nick brought his eyes suddenly in line with the president’s.

“Did you see the man?”

“Yes; I was at the cashier’s desk at the time.”

“Please describe him.”

“Short, thickset and prosperous looking, as a man would naturally be who
had that amount of money.”

“What name did he give?”

“Leonard Martin.”

“How did he impress you, Mr. Hepner?”

“He impressed me as being a Westerner.”

“Good!” exclaimed Nick. “I am especially interested in Westerners, one
in particular, whom I’d give a good deal to lay my hands upon. But tell
me more about this fellow?”

“Well, he had an easy, independent way with him, and when he talked he
used a vernacular only to be found beyond the Missouri.”

“He was a stranger in town, you think?”

“I don’t think anything about it--I know. He is one of a party of four
who are touring New England in an auto car.”

“Still in town?”

“Yes, and liable to be here for a few days, I guess.”

“Why do you guess that?”

“Good heavens!” exclaimed the president, suddenly. “It can’t be possible
you suspect this man of--of----”

The president paused.

“It is immaterial to you whom I suspect, Mr. Hepner,” said Nick, coolly,
“so long as I run down the thieves.”

“Of course, of course! But you’re far afield, Mr. Nicholas, if that is
the point you are driving at.”

“Which is your opinion,” commented Nick. “What makes you think that Mr.
Leonard Martin and his party are liable to be in Latimer for a few
days?”

“Because their chauffeur is sick and the Red Spider cannot proceed
without a man to run it.”

“The auto is named the Red Spider?”

“Yes.”

“Where is Mr. Martin staying?”

“At the Central House.”

“He feared to have so much money with him, and left it here for
safe-keeping, I suppose?”

“That’s it. A very breezy, genial gentleman he is, too, Mr. Nicholas. I
assure you of that.”

“Breezy enough, I dare say,” returned Nick, carelessly.

“You gave a peculiar name to these robbers, a moment ago,” said the
president. “What was it you called them?”

“Yeggmen.”

“And what is a yeggman?”

“Originally he was a hobo. Association with professional criminals,
either in prison or ‘on the road,’ has taught him a knowledge of high
explosives--how to extract nitroglycerin from dynamite, and how to use
nitro in blowing open safes, and so on. The methods of the ‘yeggs,’ as
compared with the old-time, skilled cracksman, are simple and
labor-saving.”

“That is quite interesting. It has been a mystery to all of us how our
safe was blown open. Will you explain, Mr. Nicholas?”

Nick complied, very briefly, and then, after a little more questioning,
arose to go.

“If I can aid you in any way, Mr. Nicholas,” said the president, rising
to accompany the detective to the door, “do not fail to call on me. As
for your bill----”

“You can consider the bill when I turn it in,” answered Nick. “There is
only one way in which you can help me, Mr. Hepner.”

“How is that?”

“I presume there are several auto cars in this town?”

“Quite a number. I haven’t one myself, but Clarkson, one of our
directors, has a very swift machine.”

“If I need that machine will Mr. Clarkson let me have it?”

“Certainly. He will go with you himself and operate it for you.”

“I will operate it, and will stand responsible for any damage I may do.
I would like to have the machine held in readiness for instant use.”

“Where are you staying, Mr. Carter?”

“I registered at the Holland Hotel.”

“Then I will have Clarkson send the machine to the Holland Hotel
stables, subject to your order.”

“I would prefer that you have the auto sent to the Central House barn,
Mr. Hepner. I think of changing my location.”

“Very good. It will be some time, I suppose, before we can hope for any
results?”

“Perhaps not so very long,” answered Nick, and took his leave.

Going at once to the Holland Hotel, he paid his reckoning, took his grip
and had himself driven to the Central House.

“James Nicholas, Montpelier, Vermont,” was the way he inscribed himself
on the register.

Turning away, he lighted a cigar and threw himself into a chair by one
of the office windows.

The Central House, in point of location, was anything but “central.”

It was situated on the outskirts of the city, in a neighborhood at once
quiet and exclusive.

For fifteen minutes or more Nick sat in the comfortable armchair,
smoking and thinking.

He was sifting the evidence so far secured and wondering what Chick’s
investigation would lead to, if anything.

Presently, the bell boy came up to him and touched him on the shoulder.

“Mr. Nicholas,” said he, “you are wanted at the telephone.”

“Where is it?” asked Nick, getting up.

“This way, sir.”

The detective was conducted to the rear of the office, some distance
back of the counter.

The telephone box was under the stairway, side by side with a
ground-glass window overlooking a court.

So close was the side of the box to the window that the glass in the box
and in the window were scarcely more than a foot apart.

The receiver was lying on the top of the phone, and Nick took it down
and held it to his ear.

“Is this Carter?” called a voice.

“Who is this?” queried Nick.

“Call me the man from Montana. I’m the pal of poor old Ramsay whom you
bagged the other day. I’m the only man left of the Western swindlers,
and you want me badly. You’re Nick Carter?”

“My name is Nicholas.”

“By thunder, you can’t fool me, Mr. Sleuth!”

“What do you want?” asked the detective.

“Simply wanted to get you into the telephone box. Right here is where
you connect with your finish, and----”

The words were lost in a sharp report and a crashing of glass.

Nick felt a sharp pain in his shoulder, and, as he reeled backward and
dropped the receiver, he heard a mocking and triumphant laugh come over
the wire.

“Great heavens!” he cried; “I’m shot--killed!”

The next instant he burst out of the telephone box and fell into the
arms of the chief of police, the latter having arrived at the hotel but
a moment before.



CHAPTER XIX.

WARM WORK.


“Great guns!” exclaimed the chief. “What has happened, Mr.----”

“Call me Nicholas,” hissed Nick, clinging to the chief and with lips
close to his ear. “I’m shot!” he cried again. “Some one fired into the
telephone box from the court. Help me to my room! Send for a
doctor--quick!”

There was a great commotion in the hotel office.

The clerk, the porters and the bell boys came running to the scene,
inquiring excitedly about the shooting.

The chief turned Nick over to two of the porters, and he was carried
upstairs to his room and laid on the bed.

At every step of the upward journey the detective let out a groan of
pain.

One of the bell boys rushed away for the house physician.

The porters lingered in Nick’s room, and so did the clerk, who had
accompanied them.

“Don’t stay in the room, so many of you,” moaned Nick; “my nerves are
all on edge. Where’s the doctor? Isn’t he coming?”

The clerk motioned to the porters, who at once withdrew.

“The doctor will be here in a minute--ah, here he is now!”

The doctor entered hurriedly, hatless and with his medicine case under
his arm.

“What in Sam Hill is the matter?” he cried. “Man shot, right in the
hotel, in broad daylight? Outrageous! Unheard of!”

“It’s a fact, nevertheless,” murmured Nick, “and I’ve got it good. Leave
me alone with the doctor, please,” he added, turning to the clerk.

The clerk went away, closing the door softly behind him.

Then Nick sat upon the edge of the bed, a half smile on his face.

“Why--why, what are you doing that for?” queried the astounded doctor.

“Sh-h-h!” whispered Nick. “The wound is nothing--it simply grazed my
shoulder. A piece of court-plaster is all it needs. If you have that
with you, doc, you can fix me all right in a jiffy.”

“You acted as though you were half killed,” grumbled the doctor.

“That’s all right,” Nick went on, in a low tone. “I’m a detective, and
I want it to appear as though I have received a bad wound and may be
laid up for a month. Are you willing to help out the cause of justice by
creating such an impression?”

“I don’t understand----”

“Of course you don’t, and it isn’t necessary that you should. I want you
to come here about every three hours and pretend to have seen a patient.
That’s easy enough, isn’t it? Here’s a twenty to pay you in advance for
your services.”

“All right,” answered the physician, taking the money. “Now let me see
the shoulder.”

Nick divested himself of coat and vest and opened his shirt at the neck.

The wound was only a slight one, as the detective had said, and the
doctor quickly attended to it and prepared to leave.

“Mind,” warned Nick, “you think I may be laid up for some time.”

“All right,” laughed the doctor. “You detectives are queer fish.”

“We have to be,” answered Nick, stretching himself out on the bed again.

The chief came in just as the doctor went out.

“How do you find him, doc?” the chief asked, anxiously.

“Serious,” was the answer; “he may be laid up for a month.”

The doctor went away, and the chief came up to the side of the bed.

“This is too bad, Nicholas!” he exclaimed.

“Lock the door,” said Nick.

The chief was surprised at the strength of the detective’s voice.

When he locked the door, he turned around and found the detective
sitting up.

“Say,” muttered the officer, “what in thunder does all this mean?”

“It means that I am faking,” replied Nick.

“Faking?”

“That’s it. I wasn’t badly wounded: only scratched.”

“Who could have done it? What was the motive?”

“The motive was to put me on the retired list. Can’t you imagine who
would want to do that?”

“The bank robbers!”

“Exactly. They have discovered that I am at work on the case, and they
have tried to take time by the forelock and do for me. It isn’t the
first time such a thing has happened, but it is the first time a
telephone was ever used as a trap. That was rather clever.”

“I’m over my head, Nicholas; I can’t get next to you.”

“It was a put-up job to get me out of the way, chief. I was called into
the telephone box by a man who told me I could call him the man from
Montana. This fellow acknowledged that he had lured me there for the
purpose of having me shot. That much he told me, and then his
confederate in the court blazed away.”

“The audacity of it!” exclaimed the amazed officer.

“More proof that these bank robbers are old hands. Did you look around
the court?”

“Yes, but I couldn’t find a trace of anyone who might have committed the
outrage.”

“I hardly expected that you would. It was well planned.”

“But why did you act as though you were half killed?”

“Because I want these scoundrels to think that their murderous plan
succeeded. If they believe that I am out of the way, it’s the biggest
kind of a trump in my hand.”

“By Jupiter, that’s a fact! You’ve got a head on you, and no mistake.
Why, you weren’t more than half a second in evolving the plan, were
you?”

“Not much longer, chief. The point that now confronts us is this: This
farce will have to be carried through to a finish. While I am working
outside, the general impression must be that I am laid up in this room.”

“We can work that all right.”

“I think so. The doctor already has his instructions. If you will put
one of your trusty plain-clothes men next to the scheme, and send him
here as a sort of nurse, I believe the plan can be carried through
without any trouble.”

“I’ll arrange it.”

“Then there’s another thing for you to do.”

“What’s that?”

“Send a man to the central telephone office and learn where the call for
Nicholas, Central Hotel, came from.

“Let the man go to the place from which I was rung up, and, if possible,
get a description of the fellow who sent in the call.”

“I’ll do it. It’s a great game you are playing, Mr. Carter.”

“I’m playing for big stakes. But don’t call me Carter; Nicholas will do
for the present.”

“I’ll remember. What are you going to do in the meantime?”

“Lie here in bed until I hear what sort of a report your man makes about
the fellow who called me up.”

“Will you stay here alone?”

“You can send one of the bell boys to be with me until your man comes.”

“All right.” The chief got up to go. “I’m surprised to learn that those
bank robbers are still in town.”

“I’m not. This town is probably as safe for them as any other part of
the country. Hurry that fly cop over here, chief. I have warm work ahead
of me, and don’t want to be out of the running any longer than
necessary.”

“Trust me to hustle things,” replied the chief, and took his departure.



CHAPTER XX.

THE MEN FROM CHICAGO.


Presently the bell boy came up and found Nick stretched out on the bed.

The boy was a quiet little chap, and brought Nick a pitcher of water and
a daily paper, and did a number of other things to make him comfortable.

The detective was reading the paper when the plain-clothes man presented
himself.

“I was sent over here to take care of you,” said he.

He accompanied his words with a wink by way of informing the detective
that he knew what was expected of him.

“Thank you,” said Nick. “What name?”

“Jerome.”

“Well, Mr. Jerome, may I trouble you to take a dollar out of my vest
pocket and give it to this boy?”

The vest and coat were hanging over a chair, and Jerome secured the
dollar and handed it to the boy.

As soon as the boy was gone, the detective sprang from the bed.

“You know your duties, do you, Jerome?”

“I’m going to pretend I’ve got you here, whether you’re here or not,” he
grinned.

“That’s it; and you’re also to pretend that I’m a mighty sick man.”

“I’ll play the part O. K., sir. Don’t worry about that.”

“I don’t worry about much of anything, Jerome. It’s a waste of energy.”

“You don’t believe in crossing bridges before you get to ’em, then?”

“That depends on the bridge. What is the town of Latimer saying about an
attempted murder, in broad daylight, in a great hotel like this?”

“People are talking less about that than they are about the ease with
which the man who perpetrated the outrage managed to slip away.”

While Nick was talking with Jerome, he was changing his make-up.

Presently he stood forth a younger man than “Nicholas” by some twenty
years.

The spreading “Dundrearies” were gone and a black mustache ornamented
his upper lip.

His clothes were different, and he was utterly unlike “Nicholas” in
manner as well as appearance.

“By Jinks!” exclaimed Jerome. “You’re a great hand at that sort of
thing, Mr. Nicholas.”

“Charlie Gordon now,” corrected Nick.

“Mr. Gordon, then,” grinned the officer.

A rap fell on the door.

Nick motioned to Jerome to answer the summons.

The caller proved to be the chief, and he was at once admitted.

He looked at Nick in surprise, and then cast a quick look at the bed.

“Well, you’ll pass,” he said, as the truth dawned on him.

“What’s new?” asked the detective.

“I called to report on that telephone matter.”

“Good! The man you sent out must have been a live one to get back with a
report as soon as this.”

“I attended to it myself.”

“Much obliged, chief. Did you experience any difficulty?”

“None at all. At central they told me that the call for Nicholas, at the
Central House, came from a pay station in a drug store.

“I got the number of the drug store, and found that it is less than a
block from here.

“At about the time you received your call, one of the clerks in the
store remembered seeing a short, thickset man----”

“Short and thickset, eh?” interposed Nick.

“Yes, and with red hair and a full red beard. This man went into the
box. When he came out he came in a hurry, and lost no time in getting
out of the store and away.”

“That’s A-1, chief.”

“Have you a theory?”

“Regarding the bank robbers?”

“Yes.”

“I’m full of theories. I shall want your help in a few minutes. Will you
wait here until I come back? I can promise you that I won’t be gone
long.”

“I’ll wait.”

Thereupon Nick let himself quietly out of the room and descended the
stairs to the lower hall.

Passing through the hall into the street, he re-entered the hotel by the
office doors.

Going to the counter, he drew the register in front of him and began
looking it over.

He finally found what he wanted, which was the following, written in an
easy and flowing hand:

“Leonard Martin, Chicago.”

This entry had been made on the preceding Saturday, and Nick saw that
Leonard Martin had been assigned to Room 13.

Directly following this signature were three names, as follows:

“Leslie Hibbard, Morris Markham and Emil Z. Schiffel,” all hailing from
the same place that claimed Mr. Martin.

But there were check marks opposite the names of these three guests,
showing that they had balanced their accounts and left.

“May I see the letters and telegrams?” Nick asked.

The clerk handed over a bundle, and the detective proceeded to look at
them.

There was a letter for Mr. Leonard Martin, bearing a Chicago postmark;
also a telegram for James Nicholas.

Nick slipped the telegram into his pocket, unnoticed by the clerk, and
passed out through the doors again.

This time he reversed his tactics, re-entered by the hall, and made his
way to his room on the second floor.

He read his telegram.

It was from Chick, and ran thus:

     “Look out for a man with a mole on his right cheek, short,
     thickset, named Clancy. Will come with Patsy. Important that I
     should see you.”

“This short, thickset man is making himself pretty numerous,” thought
Nick, putting the telegram away in his grip.

“What I want you to do, chief,” said Nick, approaching the officer, “is
to wire the Chicago chief of police and ask for immediate information
about a man named Leonard Martin. If the Chicago people know such a man,
I’d like to learn his present whereabouts.”

“I’ll send the dispatch at once,” said the chief.

“Have the answer left with Jerome, when it comes.”

“Very well.”

The chief left the room and passed down the stairs.

Nick went out, a few moments afterward, but did not descend to the first
floor.

On the contrary, he made his way along the hall to Room 13.

There was no one else in the passage, and he paused at the door and
listened intently.

All was quiet inside.

Stooping, he peered through the keyhole.

The key was not in the lock, on the inside, so it seemed fairly certain
that Mr. Martin was out.

With a final swift glance up and down the passage, Nick drew a skeleton
key from his pocket and quickly opened the door.

To step inside and softly reclose the door was the work of only a
moment.

The room was exactly like the usual hotel chamber.

There were two doors opening to right and left, so that, if desired, the
apartment could be used _en suite_ with others adjoining.

On the bed lay an open satchel, its contents very much disarranged.

The owner had apparently left it in a hurry.

Nick went over to the bed and looked down at the contents of the grip.

The first object to catch his eye was a red wig with a false beard of
the same color attached.

This interested him mightily.

There was a fat wallet in the satchel, and----

Just at that point the detective, steel-nerved though he was,
experienced something like a shock.

A dresser stood at the end of the room, at right angles with the foot of
the bed.

Out of the corner of his eyes Nick caught a glimpse of the glass, and in
it was reflected the figure of a man.

The man had opened the door leading off to the left and was standing
just within it, coolly eying the detective.

Furthermore, this man was short and thickset, and there was a black mole
on his right cheek.

Not only that, but he had a revolver in his hand and was training it
full upon the intruder.

In a flash Nick had made up his mind as to what he should do.

This man, of all others, must not take him for a prying detective.

It would be better for him to consider Nick as a common sneak thief.

So the detective set about to foster the latter impression.

Catching up the wallet, he slipped it into his coat pocket.

Then he began throwing the other contents of the grip aside in a seeming
eagerness to find something else of value.

“There, my man, that’ll do!”

The voice came from the man in the doorway, and Nick sprang round, the
very picture of trepidation and fear.



CHAPTER XXI.

NICK BECOMES CHAUFFEUR.


“Don’t shoot!” pleaded the detective, cringing before the pointed gun;
“for Heaven’s sake, don’t shoot!”

“What do you mean by sneaking into this room?” demanded the man, making
a threatening gesture with the revolver.

Nick thought he recognized the voice.

It sounded strangely like the tone assumed by the man from Montana,
through the phone.

“My wife and family are starving,” said Nick, in a choking voice; “I can
get no work, and they must live.”

“Bah! What do I care for your wife and family? You can’t ring in a bluff
of that kind on me, not on your life. You’re a common, ordinary,
go-as-you-please sneak thief, and right here is where you are going to
get it in the neck!”

The man took a sidestep to the left, still holding the gun on Nick, and
reached his left hand toward the push-button above the speaking tube.

“Oh, don’t, sir!” implored Nick, wringing his hands. “Let me go! I beg
of you to let me go!”

“Shut up, you coward!” gritted the man. “If you had any nerve about you,
I might be tempted to cut you loose; but I haven’t any sort of use for a
sniveling, chicken-hearted coyote like you are showing yourself to be.”

His hand rested on the round piece of wood that framed the push-button,
but he did not ring the bell.

Nick gave vent to a hollow groan, sank to his knees, and covered his
face with his hands.

“Look here, you!” growled the man with the gun. “You’re pretty well
dressed for a man working this sort of graft.”

“I’ve seen better days,” sniffed Nick.

“Bother! Better days don’t count. It’s what you are to-day, not last
week, or last year. What do you call yourself?”

“My real name do you want, or the one I have been going by?”

“The one you go by now.”

“Chuffer Jones.”

The man with the gun gave a start.

“Chuffer!” he exclaimed. “You mean Chauffeur, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why were you called that?”

“Because of my trade, sir.”

“You know how to run these automobiles?”

“That used to be my business. But I took to drink, sir, and lost job
after job. Then I took to this graft.”

“What’s your record?”

“It’s terrible, sir.”

“How terrible?”

“Five years in Sing Sing and ten in Stillwater.”

A gleam had come into the murky eyes of the man with the gun.

“I suppose you know,” said he, “that I could jab this button and have
the house policeman up here in about two minutes.”

“Mercy!” gasped Nick, all but tying himself up in a knot.

“Oh, brace up, brace up!” grunted the other. “Haven’t you got any sand
at all?”

“How much sand do you expect a man to have when he’s caught red-handed
like this?”

“You ought to back your legitimate amount of nerve, no matter what
happens. You know, I suppose, that I could send you up for quite a spell
for what you have tried to do here this afternoon?”

“In the name of----”

“Will you hush that yaup?” said the man with the gun, exasperated.

“But if you knew----”

“I know you’re a sneak thief, and that I’ve got you dead to rights.
Understand? Now, if you want to do the right thing, there’s a chance for
you to square yourself with me.”

“What is it?” cried Nick, eagerly.

“First, hand over that leather.”

The detective forked it over.

“Take anything else?”

“Didn’t have time.”

“Well, young man, my name is Leonard Martin. I’m from Chicago, and I’m
touring New England with three friends of mine, traveling in one of
these auto cars. The machine belongs to me, but I haven’t the first
notion how to run the thing. One of my friends knows the ropes, but he
was taken sick a day or two ago, and will be hung up here for quite a
spell. Now, if you want to run the Red Spider for me----”

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” mumbled Nick, with another contortion.

“You whining fool!” growled Mr. Martin, testily, “will you shut up?”

“Yes, sir; yes, sir!”

“Then, if you want to save your scalp, you can drive the Red Spider for
me.”

“All right, sir.”

“That is,” qualified Martin, “if you can. I’m going to try you right
now.”

Once more he reached out his left hand, and this time he pressed the
bell.

“Order the Red Spider around to the office entrance,” he called down the
tube.

Turning away from the wall, he again addressed himself to the detective.

“I’m taking you into my employ, Jones,” he went on, “but at the first
sign of disloyalty I shall turn you over to the police.”

“I understand, sir.”

“Try to run away from me, and I’ll have you hounded down if it costs me
every dollar I’ve got in the world.”

Nick shivered.

“And another thing,” went on Martin, “you’re to let whisky alone.
There’s a time for lushing, as for everything else, and when I’m ready
to have you booze, I’ll let you know.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Come on, then. And don’t forget that I’ve got this right here, ready
for use.”

Martin thrust the six-shooter into his hip pocket with a flourish, and
Nick had another shiver.

They passed out into the hall and downstairs to the office.

At the counter Martin halted for a word with the clerk.

“How’s that man who got shot?”

“Poorly, sir, poorly,” replied the clerk.

“Will he be in bed long?”

“He may never leave his bed, Mr. Martin.”

“Tough, mighty tough,” mused the kind-hearted Mr. Martin, and passed out
to his waiting auto.



CHAPTER XXII.

FOLLOWING A THEORY.


Nick looked the machine over with a critical eye.

It was an ordinary, two-thousand-dollar, single-cylinder, American-made
car, and looked as though it might be able to work up considerable
speed.

It was painted red, and had the squat, sprawled-out appearance of the
ill-omened thing after which it was named.

Nick Carter could drive any kind of a car, and so could Chick.

The detectives had acquired the knowledge as they acquired everything
else which even remotely promised to be of aid to them in their work.

Martin climbed into the machine, and Nick followed.

“Now, then,” said Martin, “let her go!”

Nick started off in fine style, guiding the broad-tired wheels on a hair
line.

“You’ll do,” said Martin, approvingly. “I think you can run the Spider
better than Emil ever dared to. Keep along this road, right on out into
the suburbs. I’ll tell you when I want to stop.”

They reeled off about a mile before Nick got the order to halt.

The stop was made in front of a two-story brick house.

“I’ll get out here, and you can wait for me,” said Martin. “Better turn
on the electricity in the lamps, for it will be pretty dark when we
start back.”

Martin got out and went up the steps and into the house, and Nick turned
the electricity into the side lamps and settled himself back in the seat
as comfortably as he could.

Presently he became aware that a roughly dressed man, with his hands in
his trousers’ pockets, was sizing up the machine through the semigloom.

“What’s one ov them there dinguses wuth?” the man inquired.

“More than you’ll ever salt away,” answered Nick.

“I want tew knaow! Naow, mister, ef yeou’ll jist tell me----”

Nick started up suddenly in his seat, and swept a quick glance around.

“You’re taking a big risk, chief!” he muttered.

“Got an answer to that Chicago telegram, and had to see you,” the chief
replied.

“Do you often tog up like that?”

“Not often; that’s something I leave to my under-strappers. But in this
instance, as only Jerome and I know your make-up, and Jerome can’t be
spared, I decided to help you out.”

“How did you know I was here?”

“Saw you come out of the hotel, and followed along on a bike that stood
at the curb.”

“Bully for you, chief!” exclaimed Nick. “That answer from Chicago got
around in short order.”

“It had the right of way, and they must have known all about this
Leonard Martin at headquarters.”

“What of him?”

“The Chicago chief says that he’s one of the shining lights of the bar,
in that place, and that some time ago he started to tour New England in
his auto, the Red Spider, with three friends. The party, at this time,
is believed to be somewhere in Vermont.”

“That all?”

“Isn’t it enough?”

“I think so,” returned Nick, musingly.

He was “up a stump,” so to speak.

Something was wrong, for this Chicago information did not jibe with his
own deductions--and he was ready to bank on his deductions.

“What in Sam Hill are you running that machine for?” queried the curious
chief.

“Following out a theory,” returned Nick. Then he suddenly aroused
himself. “We may be watched from the house,” said he, “and you hadn’t
ought to hang around long.”

“I’m ready to go now.”

“Wait. I’m expecting two of my assistants from New York--Chick and
Patsy. It’s ten to one that I’ll be bowling along through the country in
this machine before many hours have passed, and I want Chick and Patsy
to follow in another auto.”

“Where’ll they get the auto?”

“There’s one, subject to my order, in the Central House stable--a
machine belonging to Mr. Clarkson, one of the directors of the People’s
National Bank.”

“I know the machine well. Clarkson has been hauled up half a dozen times
for exceeding the speed limit.”

“Well, that’s the machine I want Chick and Patsy to follow with.”

“How will your assistants keep track of you?”

“Trust them for that.”

“But if the Red Spider pulls out before they get here----”

“It won’t. I’ll see that it doesn’t.”

Nick had not got quite through with the chief, but was obliged to break
off his talk at that moment.

There came the sound of a closing door from the brick house, and Martin
appeared and came down the steps to the sidewalk.

The chief did not attempt to run, but stood his ground.

“Hosses aire good enough fer me, by gosh!” he exclaimed. “I wouldn’t
give ye twenty-five cents fer a dozen o’ them there machines.”

Martin paid no attention to the supposed “hayseed,” beyond flashing a
curious look at him as he climbed into the auto.

“Back to the hotel, Jones,” said Martin.

“G’lang, ye rubber-tired freak!” whooped the man on the walk, as the Red
Spider started off.

“We’re going to pull out of here to-night,” observed Martin.

“Which way do we travel?”

“Never you mind which way we travel!” was the sharp response. “All you
got to do is to work the levers and steer where I tell you to.”

“Certainly, sir.”

“We’ll take the Red Spider to the barn,” went on Martin, “and then we’ll
go to the hotel.”

“Where’ll I put up?” asked Nick.

“You remember the room next to the one where you were operating this
afternoon?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, it’s empty, and you can occupy that. You’re not going to get out
of my sight while we’re in town.”

Nick did not fancy this arrangement, but there was nothing else for him
to do except to proceed as Martin directed.

As they trundled into the bar, they saw another auto standing near the
door.

“Whose machine is that?” asked Martin.

“It belongs to Mr. Clarkson,” replied one of the men connected with the
stable.

It was an electric vehicle--a fact which Nick was glad to observe.

Being electric, it was practically noiseless.

The Red Spider, on the other hand, had a gasoline motor, and pounded
along in a way that would make it heard at some distance.

Chick and Patsy would thus have the advantage in the chase; they could
hear the Spider fanning along, but those on the Spider would not be able
to hear them.

On leaving the barn, Martin and Nick went upstairs to the former’s
rooms.

Nick was shown into the room on the left.

This room had a door opening upon the hall, and Martin locked it and put
the key in his pocket.

Then he ordered the detective to hand over the skeleton key which had
been of such good service several hours before.

Thinking that he now had his chauffeur just where he wanted him, Martin
went into the other chamber and threw himself down on the bed with his
clothes on.

Martin need not have worried about Nick taking “French leave.”

The detective was only too glad to be in the society of the supposed
Chicago men, and would not leave until he had satisfied himself on one
or two points.

It was about five o’clock in the morning when Nick was summoned to get
up and make ready for the start.

They did not stop for breakfast, but, as Martin said, they would get
something to eat at a town a little further on.

As they passed through the office, Nick saw a man seated in a chair, and
apparently sound asleep.

The man was Chick, and he was not so sound asleep as he seemed to be.

Martin paid his bill, and he and Nick walked out to the Red Spider,
which stood at the curb in front.

Nick cast a casual glance through the window near which Chick had been
sitting.

His chair was empty.

There were two men on the rear seat of the automobile; men who had faces
of the recognized criminal type.

Martin climbed into the machine, and Nick followed, the two men on the
rear seat eying him sharply.

“Start east and take the first turn to the left,” ordered Martin, “then
follow that road right out of town and into the country.”

Nick put the car in motion.

As he turned the corner he caught a glimpse of Clarkson’s machine just
rounding the hotel from the direction of the barn.

Chick and Patsy were on the seat, and Chick was doing the driving.



CHAPTER XXIII.

OVER THE BRIDGE.


Each man in the touring party carried a large satchel, and Nick noticed
that he took very good care of the grip, never letting it get out of his
hands for an instant.

The satchels appeared to be rather heavy, and once, when one of them
dropped to the bottom of the auto, the detective heard a jingle as of
coin.

The morning was bright, the air was fresh, and for five miles the Red
Spider cut along at a smart clip.

“Show me how to operate the thing,” said Martin, and Nick instructed him
in the art.

“How long have you had this machine, Mr. Martin?” Nick asked.

A silence followed the question, during which Martin exchanged looks
with the men on the rear seat.

“Close onto two years,” said Martin, finally. “What do you want to know
for?”

“It seems strange that you haven’t learned something about running the
Red Spider in two years.”

Martin leaned forward and rapped Nick on the shoulder.

“Look here, Jones,” he growled, “don’t you get too blamed inquisitive.
It’s liable to strike in and carry you off.”

After that Nick held his peace for a time, but there were a whole lot of
things he wanted to know, and he wasn’t long in opening up again.

“Chicago is a great town,” he remarked.

“Bet your life!” exclaimed Martin.

“I used to do janitor work in the Guggenheimer Building,” confided Nick.

“Is that so?”

“Sure. You know anything about Chicago?”

“Well, rather. I’ve lived there about all my life.”

“Then you know the Guggenheimer Building, corner State and Madison
Streets?”

“Like a book. Been in it more times than I can count.”

The detective wanted to laugh.

There was no such building in Chicago.

“Do you remember the orang-outang, carved out of marble, that they’ve
got over the door of the Guggenheimer Building?” Nick went on.

“You bet. Seen it a hundred times.”

“Gosh!” exclaimed Nick. “It seems like meeting old friends to run across
a man who remembers that orang-outang.”

At the end of the five miles there was a little town called Herkimer,
and here the party stopped for breakfast.

When they got down from the machine and went into the hotel, they took
their satchels with them.

Nick got outside of his meal and returned to the Red Spider several
minutes before the rest of the party had finished and left the table.

The detective knew very well that Chick and Patsy wouldn’t bring their
machine up to the place while the Red Spider was in evidence, but he
wanted some assurance that his assistants were following.

He got what he wanted, for Patsy appeared in the road, back at a point
where it made a turn in the woods, and gave his hat a wave.

Patsy then disappeared, and Nick felt much easier in his mind.

“It’s a cinch,” thought Nick, “that not one of this outfit of supposed
Chicago men knows anything about Chicago.

“And another thing, Martin never had the Red Spider for two years, or
he’d know how to run it.

“But what did the Chicago chief of police mean by that message he sent
to the police department in Latimer?”

Nick was exceedingly thoughtful for a few moments.

“I’d like to pinch the entire outfit, and make them prove that they’re
what they say they are,” he said to himself, finally, and gave a look
down the road, as though he would summon Chick and Patsy.

But Chick and Patsy were not in sight.

If Nick could have known what Martin and his two friends were talking
about in the hotel, however, it is safe to assume that he would have
made the effort of his life to arrest the three men before they had gone
another mile further.

“I don’t like the looks of that driver of yours, Clancy,” one of
Martin’s pals was saying.

“He’s all right, I tell you, Spark,” averred Clancy. “Didn’t I spot him
while trying to sneak a wallet in my room? I’ve got the fellow right
under my thumb, and he knows it.”

“He looks to me as though he’s playing a part. Don’t you think so,
Cricket?”

“He looks all right to me,” replied Cricket.

“We ought to get rid of him,” persisted Spark.

“What’s got you on the run, old man?” queried Clancy.

“Give it up; but I’ve got a feeling that there’s trouble ahead. And look
here--I’ll bet I can prove to you that this Jones, as he calls himself,
is crooked.”

“If you can do that, Spark,” said Clancy, “we’ll salt him too quick.”

“Can you run the Spider now, Clancy?”

“Well enough to take us where we want to go. But come on, if you’re
through. It’s time we hit the trail.”

They got up, picked up their satchels from beside their chairs, and went
out and got into the auto.

“Keep right on along the turnpike, Jones, just as we were going before
we stopped,” said Martin.

Nick carried out his orders, and they were soon spinning along in a due
north direction.

“Did you have any trouble in connecting with the twenty thousand,
Clancy?” asked Cricket.

Clancy!

The word was out of Cricket’s mouth before he fairly realized that he
had said it.

Savage looks were darted at him by Clancy and Spark, and then all three
fixed their eyes upon Nick.

Apparently he had not heard the word.

“No trouble at all,” said Clancy.

“It was easy money,” went on Cricket, “and earned you a hundred per
cent. overnight.”

Nick knew that Clancy and Cricket were talking about the demand
certificate for twenty thousand dollars which the former had got from
the People’s National Bank on Monday afternoon.

Here was proof that the money had been deposited, stolen back, and
collected again on the demand certificate.

The detective was more than ready now to take chances in capturing the
three scoundrels.

Some parts of the deal were still dark to him, but he was sure of his
ground so far as Clancy and his two pals were concerned.

But how were the men to be captured?

With two at his back and one beside him, to attempt to make an arrest
single-handed would have been the height of folly.

A startling expedient occurred to Nick.

Why not wreck the machine?

That would give Chick and Patsy a chance to come up and take a hand in
the capture.

Nick looked ahead.

The turnpike wound around through the hills, and was bordered with large
trees.

Some of these trees stood out close to the roadway, and it would be a
comparatively easy matter to speed up the auto and smash against a tree.

The collision would certainly wreck the Red Spider, and it might also
cause the gasoline tank to explode.

In the latter event it was a question whether any of the party would be
left alive to tell the tale.

Nick had no desire to cut short his career on that lonely turnpike in
northern Vermont, but still he realized that he would have to take
chances, no matter what course he pursued.

In the distance he could see a plank bridge crossing a stream.

The edge of the bridge was guarded with a low wooden railing, and to run
the Red Spider into the railing and off the bridge would not be a
difficult task.

But that would be infinitely more dangerous than running the auto into a
tree.

Nick, therefore, decided on a collision.

The approach to the bridge was slightly downhill, and he started the
Spider at a tremendous clip.

“Slower, slower!” shouted Clancy. “Do you want to wreck us?”

“It’s out of control!” cried Nick. “I can’t do anything with it!”

The Spider was shooting toward a tree, a hundred feet ahead, and Nick
seemed to be working frantically at the levers in an attempt to stop it.

Suddenly Spark, who sat directly behind Nick, thrust a hand in his
pocket and slipped his fingers through a set of brass knuckles.

Bringing the hand out of his pocket, Spark half arose and dealt the
detective a smashing blow on the back of the head.

Nick fell forward, stunned and helpless.

“He was shamming!” cried Spark; “quick, Clancy! Turn the machine, or
we’re gone!”

Clancy flung himself on the steering lever and swerved the auto so that
it missed the tree by a hair’s breadth.

A moment more and he had halted the ponderous machine.

“He was trying to do for us,” said Spark, excitedly.

“But why in the fiend’s name should he try to wreck us?” answered
Clancy. “He would have done for himself as well.”

“He had some game, I tell you,” persisted Spark. “He must be one of Nick
Carter’s men. He wants revenge for what you and I did to Carter,
Clancy.”

“Bosh! Your nerves are running away with you, Spark.”

“Look here!”

Spark leaned over Nick and tore the false mustache from his lip.

“Now what do you think? This sneak thief of yours, Clancy, has been in
disguise!”

Clancy voiced a lurid oath.

“I wish I knew Carter’s assistants,” he added, with a fierce growl; “but
I don’t even know Carter himself, except from description.”

“Are you sure we got Carter at the hotel?” queried Cricket.

“Nicholas is the name he uses, now and then, and we know he took that
bank robbery case. You followed him from the Holland Hotel to the
Central House, Cricket, and ought to know him, if anybody does.”

“Nicholas was disguised,” said Cricket, “and I couldn’t tell what he
looked like with the disguise off. But he didn’t look anything like this
fellow.”

“This chap is trying to plug our game, anyhow,” said Clancy, a savage
gleam in his eyes, “and right here is our chance to get rid of him.
Bring out a couple of ropes, Cricket.”

Cricket fumbled around in the bottom of the auto, and finally found a
piece of rope, which he cut in two.

Nick was still unconscious, and did not recover his wits until the tying
operation had been completed.

When he opened his eyes, Clancy was going through his pockets.

“Guns, and handcuffs, and a pocket bull’s-eye,” muttered Clancy,
producing the articles one by one and handing them over the back of the
front seat to Spark and Cricket. “A nice equipment for a sneak thief to
tote around with him. He’s Nick Carter’s assistant, all right.”

“He has two men assistants,” spoke up Spark--“Chick and Patsy.”

“I have heard of them,” said Clancy, with an oath. “Here, you!” he
added, grabbing Nick by the shoulders and giving him a rough shake;
“what sort of a deal were you trying to ring in on us?”

“Who hit me?” demanded Nick.

“I did,” asserted Spark. “What did you try to wreck the auto for?”

“I couldn’t manage it.”

“Bah!” snorted Clancy. “You’re one of Nick Carter’s men, we know that,
and right here is where our trails divide. I’m from Montana, I am, and
Ramsay, a man Nick Carter hounded into the penitentiary, was a pal of
mine.

“I swore, when Ramsay got sent over the road, the other day, that I’d
never rest until I had played even with Carter on Ramsay’s account.

“I have pretty near succeeded in doing that, I reckon. Cricket shadowed
Carter from the Holland Hotel to the Central House and reported to Spark
and me. Then I put up that job and called up Carter on the Central House
phone. Spark was beside the glazed window in the court, and he fired the
shot that put this crack detective of yours out of the chase after these
bank robbers.

“I didn’t count on having such good luck as to connect with one of
Carter’s assistants; and now that we’ve got you, Jones, or whatever your
name is, we’ll see that you’re properly taken care of.”

“You may be able to take care of me,” said the detective, “but you’ll
still have Nick Carter to settle with.”

“Carter!” sneered Clancy. “Why, he ain’t in it with me when it comes
down to head work. I can think all around him any day in the week.”

“You’re thinking all around him now,” answered Nick, quietly.

“What do you mean by that?”

“You’ll know some time.”

“Quit this fooling!” cried Spark. “Let’s get rid of the fool and then
push on toward the Canadian line. I won’t feel easy till we cross the
border.”

That was Nick’s first clew to the intentions of Clancy and his pals.

They were working to get into Canada, where an American detective could
not touch them without going through a lot of red-tape proceedings.

If these men were captured, it must be before they crossed the line.

“How’ll we fix him?” asked Clancy.

“A gun is good enough,” said Cricket.

“A knife is better,” supplemented Spark. “It makes less noise.”

“What do we care for noise?” asked Clancy, with a harsh laugh; “there is
no one within a mile of us. But I know a trick worth two of either one
of those.”

“What is it?” inquired Spark.

“We’ll give him a chance to swim without the use of his hands or feet.”

“That’s the talk!” declared Cricket.

“Make for the bridge,” added Spark, “and we’ll toss him over.”

Clancy ran the Red Spider to the foot of the hill and onto the bridge,
halting close to the right-hand railing.

Then he and Spark stood up, Nick was caught by the feet and shoulders
and swung back and forth.

“One, two, three,” counted Clancy; “now, then!”

The form of the detective was released and went whirling outward and
downward.

“Help!” he cried, at the top of his voice; “the river!” Then he splashed
into the water and went plunging away on the breast of the swift
current.



CHAPTER XXIV.

ONE WAY TO STOP AN AUTO.


Nick’s cry for help and his reference to the river were intended for the
ears of Chick and Patsy.

If they failed him, Nick felt that his case was hopeless.

The stream into which he was thrown was narrow and winding, and, at that
point, flowed with great force.

The swiftness of the current bore the detective up and kept him from
sinking.

The men in the Red Spider watched until he was carried around a bend in
the stream, and then continued on, confident that they had been
completely successful in their murderous designs.

The torrent was full of drift, and Nick, half strangled and dizzy, felt
that his chief danger lay in being struck by some of the logs that were
spinning along with him on the surface of the water.

But this fact, so far from being a danger, proved his salvation.

An uprooted tree came sweeping toward him, and he was caught in the
spreading branches.

Tangled among the limbs, as he ultimately became, it was impossible for
him to sink, and for a short distance he rode along with his head out of
the torrent.

Presently the tree lodged in a jam of driftwood, and Nick watched the
whirling débris shoot against the jam and pass on, missing his head
sometimes by no more than an inch.

“Help!” he called again, “This way, Chick! Patsy! Help!”

He did not call in vain, for Chick and Patsy suddenly appeared on the
bank, the former with a coil of rope in his hands.

“We’ll have you in a minute, old man!” cried Chick, cheerily. “I’ll
throw the rope and you can catch it.”

“No, I can’t,” answered Nick. “My hands are tied.”

“Here,” said Patsy, grabbing one end of the rope and tying it about his
waist. “I can go out on that tree and fish Nick out of the branches. I’m
a regular cat when it comes to walking a log.”

“All right, Patsy,” said Chick. “Mind your eye and be careful that the
tree doesn’t turn with you.”

Patsy started, made his way into the branches, knelt down, and cut the
rope from Nick’s hands.

Nick was then able to help, and his rescue was not long in being
effected.

On reaching the bank, he dropped down for a moment, completely
exhausted.

“Wouldn’t this give you a jolt?” muttered Patsy, as he cut the rope from
Nick’s ankles. “They expected him to swim with his hands and feet tied.”

“They expected me to go to the bottom,” returned Nick, “and I’d have
done it, too, if you and Chick hadn’t been handy by.”

He arose to his feet.

“We haven’t any time to waste here,” he went on, giving himself a shake
and throwing as much water as he could out of his soaked clothing.
“Where’s the auto?”

“On the turnpike, about a hundred yards away,” replied Chick.

“Then let’s get to it and keep on after that outfit. They’re making for
the Canadian line, and we’ve got to stop them before they get across.”

“Then we’ll have to rush,” said Chick. “The border isn’t more than
twenty miles away.”

They all realized the value of the minutes that were slipping past, and
ran for the turnpike, sprang into the auto, and started on at top speed.

After they had crossed the bridge and got some distance beyond, they
began to look and listen for some sign of the Spider.

They could hear nothing.

“Give her every ounce of power!” cried Nick, and Chick turned on the
current full drive.

“We’ll overhaul ’em,” averred Chick, “providing something doesn’t give
way.”

“And providing we’re on the right track,” added Nick; “they may have
scented trouble and turned off the main road.”

“We’ll soon find out. Who are they?”

“They are the men who robbed the bank at Latimer, Monday night. One of
them is short, thickset and has a mole on his right check----”

“Clancy!” cried Chick.

“If we get near enough,” put in Patsy, lifting a repeating rifle from
the bottom of the auto, “we can stop them with this.”

“Where did you get that?” asked Nick.

“The proprietor of the barn, in Latimer, had it, and I borrowed it.
There’s more range to this than there is to a six-shooter.”

Again they listened, and a worried look overspread Nick’s face when they
failed to hear the pounding of the gasoline auto.

“There hasn’t been a road, so far, that they could turn off on,” said
Chick, “so it’s a safe-money guess that we’re behind them.”

“At this rate we ought to come up with them before long,” returned Nick.
“What did you find at 1145 Mechlin Street, Chick?”

“It was Mechlin Avenue.”

“That’s immaterial. You found the place?”

“Like a top.”

“What sort of a place is it?”

“A tough boarding house run by a hag who has a son called Five Points.”

“Well?”

“I went to the hang-out in a tough disguise, and had no difficulty in
getting lodging. I thought I might have to stay a day or two, but a
couple of hours was enough.”

“What did you learn?”

“Lots; and it was hot stuff, too.”

Again they listened and looked for the Red Spider, but in vain.

Nor had they yet passed any crossroad, so they felt sure their men must
still be ahead of them.

“Go on, Chick,” said Nick.

“The hag that bossed the roost was having a confab with a brother of
hers, in the sitting room of the place.

“The brother was as clear a case of grafter as I ever saw--he had all
the marks from soles to headpiece.

“It seems that he was out for the stuff, and wanted to join a gang where
there would be something doing.

“The old woman was putting him next to a touch of the warm variety, and,
say! I heard enough to land them both in the Tombs.

“The hag was telling about her son, Five Points, and how he had
connected with a Montana man who was working a graft that was as novel
as it was successful.

“The old woman, you see, thought that her brother might be able to join
the same gang, and he was dead anxious to make the attempt.

“From what the hag said, it appears that there were four in Clancy’s
party--Clancy himself, Five Points, a man called Spark, and another
known as Cricket.

“They came together at some place in Vermont, and captured an auto car
belonging to some Chicago people who were doing the New England States.

“Clancy, it seems, had had his eye on this party for some time.

“He is a gambler and appears to have plenty of money, so that he could
have bought his own machine if he had wanted to, but that wasn’t his
object.

“He lays for the Red Spider, makes prisoners of the Chicago men, and
tucks them away somewhere in the Vermont woods where they will be safe;
then he and his outfit gets into the Chicago men’s clothes, and go
piking around the circle as Leonard Martin, Leslie Hibbard, Morris
Markham and Emil Z. Schiffel----”

“By Jupiter!” exclaimed Nick, as the whole graft dawned on him. “That
was a clever game, for no one could ever suspect these rich Chicago men
of looting a bank, or doing any other crooked work.”

“Clancy has a good head for that kind of business.”

“The old woman was well informed, it seems to me.”

“She got her information through Five Points, I suppose, who knows
something about driving an automobile.”

“Why did you wire me to look out for Clancy?”

“The old woman described Clancy to her brother, so that he would know
him at sight. She also mentioned that he was a pal of Ramsay’s, and had
come East with a double purpose--to clear up as much good money as he
could and, incidentally, to settle Nick Carter.”

“He’s tried it twice,” said Nick, “and----”

“Listen!” broke in Patsy. “That other auto is dead ahead. Can’t you hear
it?”

They could hear it plainly, the chough, chough, chough coming to their
ears with great distinctness.

“Now, then,” muttered Nick, “if this machine holds together, we’ll be up
with them in a very few minutes. Let me have one of your revolvers,
Patsy.”

“Take ’em both,” said Patsy, tendering the weapons; “I’ll use the
rifle.”

“Better let me take the rifle,” returned Nick, a sudden idea coming to
him.

“All right.”

Patsy handed over the gun.

The next instant the auto rounded a hill and the Red Spider came into
sight.

It was some distance off and racing at a speed which caused it to lurch
dangerously from side to side.

“A stern chase is usually a long one, but I don’t think this will be,”
muttered Nick. “We’re gaining at every jump.”

“And they don’t know yet that we’re after them,” chuckled Patsy.

“They know now,” said Chick. “One of them, on the rear seat, is turning
around. There! He’s trying a shot.”

The report of a revolver echoed out, but the range was too great for
effective shooting with small arms.

“Give ’em the Winchester, Nick!” suggested Patsy.

“I will,” replied Nick, “and I’ll cripple the Spider so we can overhaul
it in less time than ever.”

He threw the repeater to his shoulder and sighted it long and carefully.

It was a pretty shot that he intended making, for not only must he take
into consideration the motion of his own auto, but of the Red Spider as
well.

Suddenly he pulled the trigger.

A loud report volleyed out, and instantly the Spider began to wobble.

The speed of the gasoline machine was reduced at least one-half.

“By thunder!” exulted Patsy; “he’s punctured one of the rear tires!”



CHAPTER XXV.

PATSY’S CAPTURE.


“We’ll be on them in a minute,” said Nick. “Got an extra pair of
handcuffs, Patsy?”

“Sure!” and Patsy dove into his pocket and brought out a pair of
bracelets.

“I was pretty well stripped by Clancy and his gang before they threw me
in the river,” went on Nick.

“We’ll get your property back in short order, Nick,” said Chick.

“We’ll have a fight first. By George! they’re jumping from the
automobile and taking to the woods!”

“They’re going to make a run of it, the cowards!” exclaimed Patsy.

“You take the tall man, Patsy,” said Nick. “I’ll attend to the short,
thickset individual, and you, Chick, can take the other.”

“All right,” came from Chick and Patsy.

Presently the electric auto was alongside the Red Spider, and the
detectives leaped into the road and started for the woods.

At the edge of the timber a volley was fired at them, the bullets
whistling through the air uncomfortably close.

The fire of the robbers was returned, the detectives leaping forward.

In a few moments they caught sight of Clancy and his pals.

They were separating and making in different directions.

“Here’s where we divide,” said Nick. “Remember, we’ve got to have those
men before they get across the line.”

“They’re ours!” said Chick.

“Easy!” added Patsy.

Patsy’s man was Cricket, and the way Patsy sprinted after him was a
sight to see and remember.

Through the woods, pell-mell, raced the grafter and the detective,
leaping over logs, plunging through bushes, and halting now and again to
try a shot at each other.

None of the bullets took effect, and both Patsy and Cricket had soon
used up their ammunition.

“It will be a give-and-take with our mitts now,” thought Patsy, “and
it’s a mighty good thing that I’m the best runner. Hello! There’s a
farmhouse, and Mr. Grafter is making right for it.”

There was a clearing in the woods, and Cricket leaped a fence and made
for the farm buildings.

At first he headed toward the house, but a sight of the farmer and his
wife, and a contingent of children, with a hired man and a bulldog in
the background, caused him to change his mind.

Swerving to the right, he pushed for the barn.

“Hi, there!” cried Patsy. “He’s a thief! Head him off! Stop him!”

Instead of trying to head off the fleeing robber, however, the farmer
and his family retreated into the house at a double quick.

“Hurry, Hiram!” cried the woman, frantically. “They’re tramps, and we’ll
all be killed, I know we will!”

“Don’t you fret, Mirandy!” whooped the farmer. “I’ll take care of you.”

Then the door was slammed shut, effectually debarring the entrance of
the hired man.

“Le’me in!” bellowed the hired man, banging at the door with his
clinched fists. “Gosh all hemlocks, d’ye want me tew git killed?”

“You don’t amount to nothin’, Willyum,” called the farmer from behind
the door; “they won’t kill you. Set Tige on ’em!”

The hired man whirled and loped toward the barn.

Seeing Patsy making in that direction, William sidetracked into a corn
crib.

At any other time the ludicrous side of this situation would have
appealed to Patsy, but just now he had his hands too full to consider
it.

Cricket had run into the barn, and the detective sprang to the door
through which he had vanished.

Just as Patsy reached the barn the bulldog, Tige, became a factor in the
case.

The dog was not so easily scared as the farmer and the rest of the
household, and didn’t care particularly who he tackled, just so long as
he tackled somebody.

It happened that he came up with Patsy, as the latter was about to leap
into the barn, caught him by the tails of his coat and pulled him
backward.

The instant Patsy recoiled, a pitchfork cleaved the air in the exact
place his head had been an instant before.

The detective grabbed the fork, wrenched it out of Cricket’s hands, and
turned.

“Good dog!” cried Patsy. “But that’s enough of it,” and he brought the
handle of the fork around with terrific force.

Tige was a bulldog, but he was sensible, and realized when he had
enough.

He was knocked end over end, and when he picked himself up he raced for
the corn crib and tried to get inside with the hired man.

As Patsy once more leaped to get into the barn and try conclusions with
Cricket, a currycomb caught him in the shoulder.

“Never touched me!” shouted Patsy.

The next instant he and Cricket were having it rough and tumble on the
barn floor.

Patsy had strength, and science as well, and was not long in placing the
robber in chancery.

“That’ll do,” said Cricket; “you’re too many for me.”

“Where are your guns?” demanded Patsy.

“Dropped ’em,” panted Cricket. “They wasn’t any good, anyhow.”

“Got a knife?”

“No.”

“You’re another!”

Patsy thrust his hand into the breast of the robber’s coat and pulled
out a knife in a leather sheath.

After transferring the blade to his own pocket, he brought out the
darbies and attached them to his prisoner’s wrists.

“Now, get up,” he said, hanging on to the bracelets.

Cricket arose.

“Who are you?” he inquired.

“One of Nick Carter’s men,” grinned Patsy. “I should think you’d know
the brand by this time.”

“The best thing we’ve done this trip is to fix Carter,” gloated Cricket.

“You starred yourself at that, didn’t you?” returned the detective
dryly.

“You bet we did! Who was that duffer that ran your auto?”

“Chickering Carter, the Little Giant’s right-hand man.”

“And that cove in the water-soaked garments and minus the hat. You
pulled him out of the river, didn’t you?”

“Oh, no. He swam out and walked up the bank.”

“But his hands and feet were tied!”

“That’s no trick at all for Nick Carter.”

Cricket gave a jump.

“Nick Carter!” he gasped. “Was that man Nick Carter?”

“Sure. Who did you think he was?”

Cricket muttered an oath.

“There’s no use in a lot of pinheads like us going up against Nick
Carter,” he said. “When that sleuth enters a race it’s all over but
paying the bets.”

“You’re a pretty sensible kind of a grafter, after all,” said Patsy.
“If you’re done chinning, we’ll move--out of the barn and toward the
house.”

Cricket started, and Patsy walked at his side, still keeping a grip on
the comealongs.

The hired man and the dog were just crawling out of the corn crib, and
the farmer had mustered up courage to open the door of the house a
couple of inches, as the detective passed by with his prisoner.

A feeble plot darted through Cricket’s mind.

“I say,” he shouted, “this man is a highway robber, and he chased me
here. Go for him, will you? Help me get away from him!”

“Yeou be derned,” drawled the farmer. “A feller that ’u’d scare honest
folks like you did ought tew be robbed.”

“Got anything else you want to tell ’em?” queried Patsy.

Cricket gave a black scowl, and turned away.

“Then it’s us back to the auto,” went on the detective, and marched his
prisoner back through the woods to the road.

The two machines were standing side by side, as they had been left, and
there was no one around or in them.

“It looks as though I’d make a record for bringing in the first man,”
remarked Patsy. “Hello! What’s that?”

A thump of swiftly falling hoofs reached him, and a team and a lumber
wagon came slashing into view around a wooded bend.

The horses attached to the wagon were more than laying out.

The lines were dragging on the ground, there was no one on the bounding
seat, and the awkward vehicle leaped and buck-jumped like a thing of
life.

In the rear of the wagon box were two men, struggling with each other
for the mastery.

One of the men was Chick, and the other was Spark.



CHAPTER XXVI.

HOW CHICK GOT HIS MAN.


Spark was not so good a runner as Cricket, and Chick would have made a
capture much quicker than Patsy had done, had his man not doubled back
to the road, and, fortunately for him, encountered a young woman in a
gingham dress and sunbonnet, driving home from town.

“Stop!” cried Spark. “Take me in--I want to ride with you!”

“Not much you don’t!” returned the young woman, with a toss of her head.
“I can pick my own comp’ny, thanks!”

“Will you stop?”

Spark displayed a revolver.

That was too much for the girl.

With a scream, she let go the lines and dropped over the wagon wheel to
the opposite side of the road.

As she fell out, Spark jumped in.

“Go it, you whelps!” roared the robber, grabbing up the whip and lashing
the horses right and left.

The lines were on the ground, but Spark did not care for that.

The faster the horses ran away, the better he would be suited.

Anything to get him out of the vicinity of Chick.

Chick, however, was not to be shaken off so easily.

He reached the road at the precise moment Spark began lashing the team,
and, by some quick work, succeeded in grabbing the end gate of the wagon
as it flew past.

In a twinkling Chick was jerked off his feet and flung in the air, but
he did not release his hold.

His muscular arms alone dragged him into the wagon box.

The team was now tearing down the turnpike at a furious run, and Spark,
balancing himself unsteadily, turned to see what had become of his
pursuer.

Chick was in the box, and crawling toward him.

Jumping over the wagon seat, Spark hurled himself upon the detective,
the latter rising to meet the attack.

That is the position they were in when the wagon dashed around the bend
and past the two automobiles.

Chick was far and away a better man than Spark, but skill and muscle
could not count in a predicament of that kind.

Finally the two men went down on the floor of the wagon.

The end gate had already been lost, so the combatants rolled over and
over, and finally tumbled into the road.

This terminated the struggle.

Spark gave vent to a groan of pain, and relaxed his hold on the
detective, and the latter got up, clasping his left wrist with his right
hand.

Patsy, leading his prisoner by the irons, came to the scene as rapidly
as he could.

“What’s the matter, Chick?” he asked.

“Sprained my left wrist, that’s all,” answered Chick. “It hurts like the
deuce, but it’s nothing serious.”

While speaking, Chick was tying a handkerchief tightly around the
injured forearm, using his right hand and his teeth.

“Your man seems to have got touched up pretty bad,” went on Patsy.

“He has only himself to blame, if he has. He thought he could get away
from me by using that wagon, but I guess he thinks differently now.”

Chick stepped up to Spark, and bent over him.

“Where are you hurt?” he asked.

“My right leg,” groaned the robber; “it’s broken!”

“I don’t wonder at it. That was quite a jolt we had.”

The detective made a brief examination, and found the leg to be as the
robber had stated.

“We can’t do anything for you for a while,” said Chick, helping himself
to Spark’s weapons. “Just as soon as Nick comes in with the leader of
your push, though, we’ll take the back track and get you under the
doctor’s care as soon as possible.”

“Nick who?” asked Spark, faintly.

“Nick Carter.”

“What! That man we threw into the creek! Nick Carter?” Spark demanded,
forgetting his pain for the moment.

“Who did you think it was?”

Spark voiced some lurid language, then added:

“If we had dreamed that fellow was the prize package himself, we’d have
put a bullet into him before we gave him his bath.”

“Even then he would have beat you out,” put in Patsy. “The grafter
doesn’t live that can do up Nick Carter.”

Between them, Chick and Patsy succeeded in getting Spark onto the rear
seat of the Red Spider.

He was in great pain, and it was not thought necessary to put the irons
on him.

When they had made Spark as comfortable as possible, the detectives
became aware that the young woman was standing beside them, in the
road.

“I want my wagon an’ team,” she said, aggressively, as she caught
Chick’s eye.

“All right,” said Chick, cheerfully. “I think you’ll find the team at
home when you get there.”

“Maybe I’ll find the team, but I’ll bet the wagon is strung all along
the road,” the girl answered. “You’ll have to pay me damages.”

“This is the fellow who will have to stand the damage,” said Chick,
indicating Spark.

“What’s his name, an’ where does he put up?”

“That’s too much for me.”

“Well,” said the girl, with a snap of her jaws, “they’ve lynched people
in this country for doin’ less than he done.”

With that, she marched off and never turned a backward look.

Chick laughed a little, although he admitted to himself that it was
pretty tough luck.

“Here, Patsy,” he said, “run after her and give her this twenty. That
will soothe her feelings, I guess.”

Patsy chased after the girl and gave her the money.

“She was tickled to death,” he said, when he got back; “the old
rattletrap wasn’t worth any more than the scrap iron that was in it; so
it was bargain day for her, all right. I wonder what’s keeping Nick?”

“Clancy’ll kill him,” spoke up Cricket.

“Don’t you believe it,” returned Patsy.

“While we’re waiting,” said Chick, “we’ll get things in shape for the
return trip.”

He was looking at the rear, right-hand tire, which hung to the wheel as
flabby as a rag.

“Nick made a dead-center shot,” said Patsy.

“It’s a bad puncture, and I doubt if we can repair it.”

“You don’t have to repair it,” put in Spark, who was thinking of getting
to a doctor in the shortest possible time. “There’s an emergency tire
under the front seat. Use that.”

Chick brought out the tire, and also a force pump.

The machine was then “jacked up” with a couple of stout fence rails, the
old tire taken off and the new one put on and inflated.

Hardly was this bit of work accomplished, when a boy came galloping up
on horseback.

He was a red-headed boy, and was laboring under so much excitement that
it was all he could do to talk.

“Big fight down to the blacksmith shop!” he finally managed to
articulate.

“Who was doing the fighting?” asked Chick.

“Couple o’ fellers. Geewhilikins, but you never seen anything like it!”

“Was either of the men killed?”

“Naw; but one of ’em was purty nigh. I was told tew come here an’ have
yeou come right down.”

“We’ll come,” said Chick. Turning to Patsy, he added: “You get in the
electric machine with your man, and I’ll run this one.”

“You bet,” returned Patsy.

In less than a minute they were all aboard and ready for the start.

“How far away is the blacksmith shop, my lad?” asked Chick.

“‘Baout a mile. Say, I want to stand here an’ see yeou start them
thingumbobs.”

“All right.”

When the gasoline engine began to pound and the machine to move, the
horse thought it had about all it could stand.

With a snort, and a flirt of the head, the animal took down the road for
home, the boy yelling “Whoa!” at every jump.

It was a quick run which the two autos made to the blacksmith shop, for
both Chick and Patsy were not a little worried over the boy’s story.

But they had their worry for nothing, for when they came in sight of the
crossroads and the dingy and solitary little shop which stood there,
they saw Nick in front, sitting on a keg, smoking and talking with a
number of bystanders.

“Where’s Clancy, Nick?” asked Chick, bringing the Red Spider to a halt.

“Inside, handcuffed to an anvil. It was hard to do anything with him
without killing him--and I didn’t want to do that.”

“Did he make you much trouble?” asked Patsy.

“Some. He’s one of that Montana clique, and they never seem to know when
they’re downed. Clancy is beginning to scent the situation, though, for
he hasn’t made much noise during the last few minutes. He was a pal of
Ramsay’s, and you know what a time we had bagging him.”



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE LAST OF THE SWINDLERS.


Clancy had fought every step of the way through the woods to the
blacksmith shop.

Every convenient tree trunk, every rise of ground, and every rock which
he encountered in the course of his retreat was taken advantage of and
used as a temporary breastwork.

The fact that no serious injuries resulted from the shooting proves how
wary the men were.

Nick emptied his repeater at about the identical time Clancy emptied his
revolvers.

Clancy saw this, and gave vent to a mocking laugh.

“It’s anybody’s fight yet!” he yelled.

No longer fearing to show himself, he turned and made straight through
the timber, coming out on the road in the vicinity of the blacksmith
shop.

Coming upon this blacksmith shop was an entirely unexpected event, but
it was one of which Clancy did not fail to take instant advantage.

There was only one man in the shop at the time Clancy made his advent
on the scene--one man and the red-headed boy before mentioned.

The boy was having the horse shod, and just before he went to work on
the horse the smith had been heating a crowbar for the purpose of
repointing it.

The crowbar was still in the fire, one end cool, but the other sizzling
hot.

The blacksmith looked up as Clancy burst in.

With a quick blow, Clancy knocked him out of the way, and looked around
for a weapon.

The crowbar was prominently in his view, and he caught it out of the
fire.

Nick was in the door as Clancy possessed himself of the bar.

“I’ll have you!” roared the Montana man. “My second try at you won’t end
like the first.”

“This is your third attempt on my life, Clancy,” returned Nick,
springing forward and watching the Westerner warily.

“The third time?” repeated Clancy, resting the red-hot end of the bar
for an instant on the anvil.

“My name’s Nick Carter, and----”

A torrent of invectives burst from the robber’s lips.

“I’ll have you now,” he yelled. “I’ll strike a blow for Ramsay as well
as for myself!”

He jumped through the door of the shop, whirling the bar about his head
in a livid circle.

Straight toward Nick he rushed, shouting his imprecations and vowing
that he’d have the detective’s life.

Nick waited coolly, the rifle in his hand.

The robber struck at him, and Nick parried the blow with the gun,
leaping in with the quickness of a cat and gripping Clancy about the
waist.

From that moment the fight was lost to Clancy.

The Little Giant’s phenomenal strength quickly made itself felt.

He contracted his arms, the awful, viselike pressure slowly but surely
driving the breath from the robber’s lungs.

Clancy began to gasp, his eyes distended, and the bar fell from his
nerveless hand.

“Stop!” he whispered; “you’re killing me!”

Nick bore him into the blacksmith shop and hurled him to the ground.

Clancy struggled to avoid the handcuffs, and Nick, forcing his arms
around the anvil, made the wrists fast.

“Now,” said the detective, “you can struggle all you please.”

The blacksmith was bathing his eye in a tub of water.

“Are you hurt much?” asked Nick.

“Thought for a spell I had been kicked by a mule,” answered the smith,
wiping his eye on the dingy handkerchief that was tied around his neck.
“Sorry I didn’t come through in time tew help ye.”

“Gee whiz!” cried the red-headed boy, “he didn’t need no help. He downed
the big feller easier’n anythin’ I ever see. Gosh, mister, but you’re
great!”

The youngster looked at Nick with admiring eyes, and the latter brought
out a half-dollar, which he had in his pocket, and which had somehow
escaped Clancy’s search and the consequent bath in the river.

“Do you want to earn this, my lad?” Nick asked.

“Can a duck swim?” the boy chirped.

“Then get on that horse and ride up the road. You won’t have to go far
before you find a couple of automobiles----”

“What’s them?”

“You’ll know when you see them--you won’t make any mistake. If there is
any one with the machines say that I want them brought here.
Understand?”

“Like a house afire!”

“Then catch!”

Nick flipped the coin toward the boy, who grabbed it out of the air and
stowed it away in his pocket.

A minute later he was galloping up the road.

Several men, hearing the commotion at the blacksmith shop, had come in
from the neighboring fields, and they were standing around, looking from
Clancy to Nick, and trying to get the true inwardness of the affair from
the blacksmith.

“Come outside,” said Nick, amiably, “and I’ll tell you all about it.”

And that’s what he was doing when Chick and Patsy bore down on
him--smoking and enlightening the natives.

A few hurried words of explanation were exchanged by the detectives.

“Are all the grips belonging to the prisoners still in the Red Spider?”
asked Nick.

“There are three here,” said Chick; “they’re big ones, and heavy as
lead.”

“It was the heft that kept the grafters from lugging the grips along
when they made their break for the timber,” put in Patsy.

“Open one of the satchels, Chick,” said Nick, “and see what’s inside.
I’m a little anxious to know.”

Chick complied.

“Whew!” he exclaimed, his amazed eyes fixed on the contents of the
satchel he had opened.

“Gold, silver and bank notes?” queried Nick.

“I should say so!”

“It’s the bank money. I’ll travel in the Red Spider with you, Chick, and
Clancy and the man with the broken leg will ride with us. Patsy, you and
your man can hum along in the other machine.”

It was necessary to rope Clancy’s legs before he could be put into the
automobile; but he was finally stowed away and all was made ready for
the return journey.

Nick, before climbing into the Spider beside Clancy, turned to the
blacksmith, who was standing near.

“How far is it to the Canadian line from here?” he asked.

“See that pile o’ rocks?” the smith returned, indicating a heap of
stones about a hundred feet to the rear of the shop.

“Yes.”

“Well, Canady lays on t’other side o’ that monniment.”

“Great Scott!” exclaimed Patsy; “you wasn’t very much to the good, Nick,
after all.”

“It was close, mighty close,” added Chick.

“A miss is as good as a mile,” said Nick, jumping into the auto. “Let
her go, Chick.”

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening, at about nine o’clock, the two automobiles drew up in
front of police headquarters, in the city of Latimer.

The chief was not in evidence, but he was quickly summoned from home by
telephone.

“By Jupiter!” he cried; “you’ve done it, Carter--done it, and with
ground to spare.”

“A hundred feet of ground,” grinned Patsy.

“Are you sure they’re the right men?” asked the chief.

“That’s the only kind we capture,” said Chick.

“I believe you,” returned the chief, and shook hands heartily with the
New York men and tendered his congratulations.

Cricket and Clancy were taken to their cells, and Spark was conveyed to
the Memorial Hospital.

Nick went to the place to which he had taken Clancy in the automobile
the night before the start north, and found that, as he surmised, Five
Points was there.

Spark and Cricket had also stayed at this boarding house after the
robbery, and when they left a nurse had been hired by Clancy to look
after their wounded pal.

Five Points’ wound, which was at first not believed to be serious, took
a turn for the worse and ultimately caused his death.

Before he died he made a statement, telling how he and Spark and Cricket
had joined Clancy, had captured the automobile and made prisoners of the
Chicago men, and had confined them in a house occupied by Cricket’s
father--a worse criminal than Cricket ever dared to be.

Nick was on the point of proceeding to the place where the Chicago men
were imprisoned and releasing them, when they saved him the trouble by
releasing themselves and coming on to Latimer--the newspapers having
informed them that the Red Spider was at that point.

Aside from their jarred feelings, the Chicago party was none the worse
for its little experience.

The bank’s funds were found intact in the satchels, including the twenty
thousand dollars paid over to Clancy on his certificate of deposit.

The ownership of that twenty thousand is still being debated in the
courts.

Clancy, Spark and Cricket were sent to the penitentiary for life, not on
a robbery, but on a murder charge.

By the capture of “the Montana man,” Nick Carter closed his experience
with a gang of Western crooks, all of whom had proved desperate to a
degree, and as courageous and clever as they were desperate.


THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOUND TO WIN LIBRARY

This library is “bound to win” its way into the heart of every American
lad. The tales are exceptionally clean, bright and interesting.

PUBLISHED EVERY WEEK


To be Published During July

126--For Big Money                              By Fred Thorpe
=125--Too Fast to Last=                =By Bracebridge Hemyng=


To be Published During June

124--Caught in a Trap                 By Harrie Irving Hancock
123--The Tattooed Boy                        By Weldon J. Cobb
122--The Young Horseman                    By Herbert Bellwood
=121--Sam Sawbones=                    =By Bracebridge Hemyng=


To be Published During May

120--On His Mettle                              By Fred Thorpe
119--Compound Interest                By Harrie Irving Hancock
118--Runaway and Rover                       By Weldon J. Cobb
=117--Larry O’Keefe=                   =By Bracebridge Hemyng=


To be Published During April

=116--The Boy Crusaders=                    =By John De Morgan=
115--Double Quick Dan                            By Fred Thorpe
114--Money to Spend                    By Harrie Irving Hancock
=113--Billy Barlow=                     =By Bracebridge Hemyng=


To be Published During March

112--A Battle with Fate                        By Weldon J. Cobb
=111--Gypsy Joe=                             =By John De Morgan=
110--Barred Out                                   By Fred Thorpe
=109--Will Wilding=                      =By Bracebridge Hemyng=

       *       *       *       *       *

108--Frank Bolton’s Chase               By Harrie Irving Hancock
107--Lucky-Stone Dick                          By Weldon J. Cobb
106--Tom Scott, the American Robinson Crusoe   By Frank Sheridan
=105--Fatherless Bob at Sea=       =By Bracebridge Hemyng=
104--Fatherless Bob                  By Bracebridge Hemyng
103--Hank the Hustler                       By Fred Thorpe
102--Dick Stanhope Afloat         By Harrie Irving Hancock
101--The Golden Harpoon                  By Weldon J. Cobb
100--Mischievous Matt’s Pranks       By Bracebridge Hemyng
 99--Mischievous Matt                By Bracebridge Hemyng
 98--Bert Chipley                        By John De Morgan
 97--Down-East Dave                         By Fred Thorpe
 96--The Young Diplomat           By Harrie Irving Hancock
 95--The Fool of the Family          By Bracebridge Hemyng
 94--Slam, Bang & Co.                    By Weldon J. Cobb
 93--On the Road                         By Stanley Norris
 92--The Blood-Red Hand                  By John De Morgan
 91--The Diamond King                    By Cornelius Shea
 90--The Double-Faced Mystery               By Fred Thorpe
 89--The Young Theatrical Manager        By Stanley Norris
 88--The Young West-Pointer       By Harrie Irving Hancock
 87--Held for Ransom                     By Weldon J. Cobb
 86--Boot-Black Bob                      By John De Morgan
 85--Engineer Tom                        By Cornelius Shea
 84--The Mascot of Hoodooville              By Fred Thorpe
 83--Walter Blackshaw                    By Frank Sheridan
 82--The Young Showman’s Foes            By Stanley Norris
 81--On the Wing                         By Weldon J. Cobb
 80--Yankee Grit                         By John De Morgan
 79--Bicycle and Gun                     By Cornelius Shea
 =78--The Backwoods Boy=           =By Horatio Alger, Jr.=
 77--Ahead of the Show                      By Fred Thorpe
 76--Merle Merton                        By Frank Sheridan
 75--The Three Hills of Gold      By Harrie Irving Hancock
 74--A Barrel of Money                   By Weldon J. Cobb
 73--Lucky Thirteen                      By John De Morgan
 72--Two Ragged Heroes                  By Ernest A. Young
 71--A Slave for a Year                     By Fred Thorpe
 70--In the Woods                        By Frank Sheridan
 69--The Prince of Grit           By Harrie Irving Hancock
 68--The Golden Pirate                   By Weldon J. Cobb
 67--Winning His Way                     By John De Morgan
 66--Boats, Bats and Bicycles           By Ernest A. Young
 65--Bob, The Hoodoo                        By Fred Thorpe
 64--Railroad Ralph                 By Engineer James Fisk
 63--Comrades Under Castro             By Victor St. Clair
 62--Life-Line Larry                     By Frank Sheridan
 61--Track and Trestle                  By Ernest A. Young
 60--The Phantom Boy                     By Weldon J. Cobb
 59--Simple Simon                      By Herbert Bellwood
 58--Cast Away in the Jungle           By Victor St. Clair
 57--In Unknown Worlds                   By John De Morgan
 56--The Round-the-World Boys               By Fred Thorpe
 55--Bert Fairfax                        By Frank Sheridan
 54--Pranks and Perils                   By Ernest A. Young
 53--Up to Date                                By Weldon J. Cobb
 52--Bicycle Ben                             By Herbert Bellwood
 51--Lost in the Ice                           By John De Morgan
 50--Fighting for a Name                          By Fred Thorpe
 49--Lionel’s Pluck                            By Frank Sheridan
 48--The Mud River Boys                       By Ernest A. Young
 47--Partners Three                            By Weldon J. Cobb
 46--Rivals of the Pines                     By Herbert Bellwood
 45--Always on Duty                            By John De Morgan
 44--Walt, the Wonder-Worker                      By Fred Thorpe
 43--Through Flame to Fame                     By Frank Sheridan
 42--A Toss-Up for Luck                       By Ernest A. Young
 41--The Jay from Maine                      By Herbert Bellwood
 40--For Home and Honor                      By Victor St. Clair
 39--A Bee Line to Fortune                     By John De Morgan
 37--Never Give Up                                By Fred Thorpe
 36--Vernon Craig                              By Frank Sheridan
 35--The Young Showman’s Triumph               By Stanley Norris
 34--The Roustabout Boys                     By Herbert Bellwood
 33--The Young Showman’s Pluck                 By Stanley Norris
 32--Napoleon’s Double                         By John De Morgan
 31--The Young Showman’s Rivals                By Stanley Norris
 30--Jack, the Pride of the Nine               By Frank Sheridan
 29--Phil the Showman                          By Stanley Norris
 28--Bob Porter at Lakeview Academy             By Walter Morris
 27--Zig-Zag, the Boy Conjurer               By Victor St. Clair
 26--The Young Hannibal                            By Matt Royal
 25--Git Up and Git                               By Fred Thorpe
 24--School Life at Grand Court                By Frank Sheridan
 23--From Port to Port          By Ensign Clarke Fitch, U. S. N.
 22--The Rival Nines                              By Walt Winton
 21--The Young Journalist               By Harrie Irving Hancock
 20--John Smith of Michigan                  By Herbert Bellwood
 19--Little Snap the Post Boy                By Victor St. Clair
 18--Cruise of the Training Ship  By Ensign Clarke Fitch, U.S.N.
 17--Chris, the Comedian                          By Fred Thorpe
 16--Lion-Hearted Jack                         By Frank Sheridan
 15--The Rivals of Riverwood                 By Herbert Bellwood
 14--His One Ambition                   By Harrie Irving Hancock
 13--A Strange Cruise           By Ensign Clarke Fitch, U. S. N.
 12--Dick Derby’s Double                          By Fred Thorpe
 11--The House of Mystery                          By Matt Royal
  9--From Switch to Lever                    By Victor St. Clair
  8--Clif, the Naval Cadet      By Ensign Clarke Fitch, U. S. N.
  7--The Boy in Black                             By Fred Thorpe
  6--The Crimson “Q”                        By William G. Patten
  5--The Balas Ruby                       By Capt. Geoffrey Hale
  3--Bound for Annapolis        By Ensign Clarke Fitch, U. S. N.
  2--Blind Luck                                   By Fred Thorpe
  1--The Boy Argus                          By William G. Patten

       *       *       *       *       *


CIRCUS LIFE


Is admirably described in Stanley Norris’ great series of books for
boys, published in the BOUND TO WIN LIBRARY. The hero has strange
adventures while fighting his way to the top of his chosen profession.
Every boy will thrill to the finger tips to read of his many narrow
escapes.


_PRICE, 10 CENTS PER COPY AT ALL NEWSDEALERS_


STANLEY NORRIS

29 Phil, the Showman
31 The Young Showman’s Rivals
33 The Young Showman’s Pluck
35 The Young Showman’s Triumph
82 The Young Showman’s Foes

If ordered by mail, add four cents to cover postage.


STREET & SMITH, Publishers, New York

       *       *       *       *       *


Battles on Sea and Land


We heartily recommend our _Boys of Liberty Library_ to boys who have
good, red blood coursing through their veins--who like really good tales
of adventure.

The books listed below detail the adventures of brave lads who took an
active part in the Revolutionary War, who, in many cases, saved the day
to the Patriot army when all seemed lost. Read this series boys, nothing
you can buy for the money will please you half so well.

 =1. Paul Revere and the Boys of Liberty=      =By John De Morgan=
 =5. The First Shot For Liberty=               =By John De Morgan=
 =9. The Hero of Ticonderoga=                  =By John De Morgan=
=13. On the Quebec=                            =By John De Morgan=
=17. Fooling the Enemy=                        =By John De Morgan=
=21. Into the Jaws of Death=                   =By John De Morgan=
=25. The Tory Plot=                            =By T. C. Harbaugh=
=27. In Buff and Blue=                         =By T. C. Harbaugh=

For sale by all newsdealers at 10c. per copy. If ordered by mail, add
four cents to cover postage.


Street & Smith, Publishers, New York



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