Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Sharper's Downfall - Or, Into the Net
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 Sharper's Downfall - Or, Into the Net" ***


                          NICK CARTER STORIES

                          New Magnet Library

                         PRICE, FIFTEEN CENTS

                    _Not a Dull Book in This List_

                            [Illustration]


Nick Carter stands for an interesting detective story. The fact that the
books in this line are so uniformly good is entirely due to the work of
a specialist. The man who wrote these stories produced no other type of
 fiction. His mind was concentrated upon the creation of new plots and
  situations in which his hero emerged triumphantly from all sorts of
 trouble, and landed the criminal just where he should be--behind the
                                 bars.

 The author of these stories knew more about writing detective stories
                     than any other single person.

  Following is a list of the best Nick Carter stories. They have been
selected with extreme care, and we unhesitatingly recommend each of them
  as being fully as interesting as any detective story between cloth
              covers which sells at ten times the price.

  If you do not know Nick Carter, buy a copy of any of the New Magnet
 Library books, and get acquainted. He will surprise and delight you.


                     _ALL TITLES ALWAYS IN PRINT_

850--Wanted: A Clew                                 By Nicholas Carter
851--A Tangled Skein                                By Nicholas Carter
852--The Bullion Mystery                            By Nicholas Carter
853--The Man of Riddles                             By Nicholas Carter
854--A Miscarriage of Justice                       By Nicholas Carter
855--The Gloved Hand                                By Nicholas Carter
856--Spoilers and the Spoils                        By Nicholas Carter
857--The Deeper Game                                By Nicholas Carter
858--Bolts from Blue Skies                          By Nicholas Carter
859--Unseen Foes                                    By Nicholas Carter
860--Knaves in High Places                          By Nicholas Carter
861--The Microbe of Crime                           By Nicholas Carter
862--In the Toils of Fear                           By Nicholas Carter
863--A Heritage of Trouble                          By Nicholas Carter
864--Called to Account                              By Nicholas Carter
865--The Just and the Unjust                        By Nicholas Carter
866--Instinct at Fault                              By Nicholas Carter
867--A Rogue Worth Trapping                         By Nicholas Carter
868--A Rope of Slender Threads                      By Nicholas Carter
869--The Last Call                                  By Nicholas Carter
870--The Spoils of Chance                           By Nicholas Carter
871--A Struggle With Destiny                        By Nicholas Carter
872--The Slave of Crime                             By Nicholas Carter
873--The Crook’s Blind                              By Nicholas Carter
874--A Rascal of Quality                            By Nicholas Carter
875--With Shackles of Fire                          By Nicholas Carter
876--The Man Who Changed Faces                      By Nicholas Carter
877--The Fixed Alibi                                By Nicholas Carter
878--Out With the Tide                              By Nicholas Carter
879--The Soul Destroyers                            By Nicholas Carter
880--The Wages of Rascality                         By Nicholas Carter
881--Birds of Prey                                  By Nicholas Carter
882--When Destruction Threatens                     By Nicholas Carter
883--The Keeper of Black Hounds                     By Nicholas Carter
884--The Door of Doubt                              By Nicholas Carter
885--The Wolf Within                                By Nicholas Carter
886--A Perilous Parole                              By Nicholas Carter
887--The Trail of the Fingerprints                  By Nicholas Carter
888--Dodging the Law                                By Nicholas Carter
889--A Crime in Paradise                            By Nicholas Carter
890--On the Ragged Edge                             By Nicholas Carter
891--The Red God of Tragedy                         By Nicholas Carter
892--The Man Who Paid                               By Nicholas Carter
893--The Blind Man’s Daughter                       By Nicholas Carter
894--One Object in Life                             By Nicholas Carter
895--As a Crook Sows                                By Nicholas Carter
896--In Record Time                                 By Nicholas Carter
897--Held in Suspense                               By Nicholas Carter
898--The $100,000 Kiss                              By Nicholas Carter
899--Just One Slip                                  By Nicholas Carter
900--On a Million-dollar Trail                      By Nicholas Carter
901--A Weird Treasure                               By Nicholas Carter
902--The Middle Link                                By Nicholas Carter
903--To the Ends of the Earth                       By Nicholas Carter
904--When Honors Pall                               By Nicholas Carter
905--The Yellow Brand                               By Nicholas Carter
906--A New Serpent in Eden                          By Nicholas Carter
907--When Brave Men Tremble                         By Nicholas Carter
908--A Test of Courage                              By Nicholas Carter
909--Where Peril Beckons                            By Nicholas Carter
910--The Gargoni Girdle                             By Nicholas Carter
911--Rascals & Co                                   By Nicholas Carter
912--Too Late to Talk                               By Nicholas Carter
913--Satan’s Apt Pupil                              By Nicholas Carter
914--The Girl Prisoner                              By Nicholas Carter
915--The Danger of Folly                            By Nicholas Carter
916--One Shipwreck Too Many                         By Nicholas Carter
917--Scourged by Fear                               By Nicholas Carter
918--The Red Plague                                 By Nicholas Carter
919--Scoundrels Rampant                             By Nicholas Carter
920--From Clew to Clew                              By Nicholas Carter
921--When Rogues Conspire                           By Nicholas Carter
922--Twelve in a Grave                              By Nicholas Carter
923--The Great Opium Case                           By Nicholas Carter
924--A Conspiracy of Rumors                         By Nicholas Carter
925--A Klondike Claim                               By Nicholas Carter
926--The Evil Formula                               By Nicholas Carter
927--The Man of Many Faces                          By Nicholas Carter
928--The Great Enigma                               By Nicholas Carter
929--The Burden of Proof                            By Nicholas Carter
930--The Stolen Brain                               By Nicholas Carter
931--A Titled Counterfeiter                         By Nicholas Carter
932--The Magic Necklace                             By Nicholas Carter
933--’Round the World for a Quarter                 By Nicholas Carter
934--Over the Edge of the World                     By Nicholas Carter
935--In the Grip of Fate                            By Nicholas Carter
936--The Case of Many Clews                         By Nicholas Carter
937--The Sealed Door                                By Nicholas Carter
938--Nick Carter and the Green Goods Men            By Nicholas Carter
939--The Man Without a Will                         By Nicholas Carter
940--Tracked Across the Atlantic                    By Nicholas Carter
941--A Clew From the Unknown                        By Nicholas Carter
942--The Crime of a Countess                        By Nicholas Carter
943--A Mixed Up Mess                                By Nicholas Carter
944--The Great Money Order Swindle                  By Nicholas Carter
945--The Adder’s Brood                              By Nicholas Carter
946--A Wall Street Haul                             By Nicholas Carter
947--For a Pawned Crown                             By Nicholas Carter
948--Sealed Orders                                  By Nicholas Carter
949--The Hate That Kills                            By Nicholas Carter
950--The American Marquis                           By Nicholas Carter
951--The Needy Nine                                 By Nicholas Carter
952--Fighting Against Millions                      By Nicholas Carter
953--Outlaws of the Blue                            By Nicholas Carter
954--The Old Detective’s Pupil                      By Nicholas Carter
955--Found in the Jungle                            By Nicholas Carter
956--The Mysterious Mail Robbery                    By Nicholas Carter
957--Broken Bars                                    By Nicholas Carter
958--A Fair Criminal                                By Nicholas Carter
959--Won by Magic                                   By Nicholas Carter
960--The Piano Box Mystery                          By Nicholas Carter
961--The Man They Held Back                         By Nicholas Carter
962--A Millionaire Partner                          By Nicholas Carter
963--A Pressing Peril                               By Nicholas Carter
964--An Australian Klondyke                         By Nicholas Carter
965--The Sultan’s Pearls                            By Nicholas Carter
966--The Double Shuffle Club                        By Nicholas Carter
967--Paying the Price                               By Nicholas Carter
968--A Woman’s Hand                                 By Nicholas Carter
969--A Network of Crime                             By Nicholas Carter
970--At Thompson’s Ranch                            By Nicholas Carter
971--The Crossed Needles                            By Nicholas Carter
972--The Diamond Mine Case                          By Nicholas Carter
973--Blood Will Tell                                By Nicholas Carter
974--An Accidental Password                         By Nicholas Carter
975--The Crook’s Bauble                             By Nicholas Carter
976--Two Plus Two                                   By Nicholas Carter
977--The Yellow Label                               By Nicholas Carter
978--The Clever Celestial                           By Nicholas Carter
979--The Amphitheater Plot                          By Nicholas Carter
980--Gideon Drexel’s Millions                       By Nicholas Carter
981--Death in Life                                  By Nicholas Carter
982--A Stolen Identity                              By Nicholas Carter
983--Evidence by Telephone                          By Nicholas Carter
984--The Twelve Tin Boxes                           By Nicholas Carter
985--Clew Against Clew                              By Nicholas Carter
986--Lady Velvet                                    By Nicholas Carter
987--Playing a Bold Game                            By Nicholas Carter
988--A Dead Man’s Grip                              By Nicholas Carter
989--Snarled Identities                             By Nicholas Carter
990--A Deposit Vault Puzzle                         By Nicholas Carter
991--The Crescent Brotherhood                       By Nicholas Carter
992--The Stolen Pay Train                           By Nicholas Carter
993--The Sea Fox                                    By Nicholas Carter
994--Wanted by Two Clients                          By Nicholas Carter
995--The Van Alstine Case                           By Nicholas Carter
996--Check No. 777                                  By Nicholas Carter
997--Partners in Peril                              By Nicholas Carter
998--Nick Carter’s Clever Protégé                   By Nicholas Carter
999--The Sign of the Crossed Knives                 By Nicholas Carter
1000--The Man Who Vanished                          By Nicholas Carter
1001--A Battle for the Right                        By Nicholas Carter
1002--A Game of Craft                               By Nicholas Carter
1003--Nick Carter’s Retainer                        By Nicholas Carter
1004--Caught in the Toils                           By Nicholas Carter
1005--A Broken Bond                                 By Nicholas Carter
1006--The Crime of the French Café                  By Nicholas Carter
1007--The Man Who Stole Millions                    By Nicholas Carter
1008--The Twelve Wise Men                           By Nicholas Carter
1009--Hidden Foes                                   By Nicholas Carter
1010--A Gamblers’ Syndicate                         By Nicholas Carter
1011--A Chance Discovery                            By Nicholas Carter
1012--Among the Counterfeiters                      By Nicholas Carter
1013--A Threefold Disappearance                     By Nicholas Carter
1014--At Odds With Scotland Yard                    By Nicholas Carter
1015--A Princess of Crime                           By Nicholas Carter
1016--Found on the Beach                            By Nicholas Carter
1017--A Spinner of Death                            By Nicholas Carter
1018--The Detective’s Pretty Neighbor               By Nicholas Carter
1019--A Bogus Clew                                  By Nicholas Carter
1020--The Puzzle of Five Pistols                    By Nicholas Carter
1021--The Secret of the Marble Mantel               By Nicholas Carter
1022--A Bite of an Apple                            By Nicholas Carter
1023--A Triple Crime                                By Nicholas Carter
1024--The Stolen Race Horse                         By Nicholas Carter
1025--Wildfire                                      By Nicholas Carter
1026--A _Herald_ Personal                           By Nicholas Carter
1027--The Finger of Suspicion                       By Nicholas Carter
1028--The Crimson Clue                              By Nicholas Carter
1029--Nick Carter Down East                         By Nicholas Carter
1030--The Chain of Clues                            By Nicholas Carter
1031--A Victim of Circumstances                     By Nicholas Carter
1032--Brought to Bay                                By Nicholas Carter
1033--The Dynamite Trap                             By Nicholas Carter
1034--A Scrap of Black Lace                         By Nicholas Carter
1035--The Woman of Evil                             By Nicholas Carter
1036--A Legacy of Hate                              By Nicholas Carter
1037--A Trusted Rogue                               By Nicholas Carter
1038--Man Against Man                               By Nicholas Carter
1039--The Demons of the Night                       By Nicholas Carter
1040--The Brotherhood of Death                      By Nicholas Carter
1041--At the Knife’s Point                          By Nicholas Carter
1042--A Cry for Help                                By Nicholas Carter
1043--A Stroke of Policy                            By Nicholas Carter
1044--Hounded to Death                              By Nicholas Carter
1045--A Bargain in Crime                            By Nicholas Carter
1046--The Fatal Prescription                        By Nicholas Carter
1047--The Man of Iron                               By Nicholas Carter
1048--An Amazing Scoundrel                          By Nicholas Carter
1049--The Chain of Evidence                         By Nicholas Carter
1050--Paid with Death                               By Nicholas Carter
1051--A Fight for a Throne                          By Nicholas Carter
1052--The Woman of Steel                            By Nicholas Carter
1053--The Seal of Death                             By Nicholas Carter
1054--The Human Fiend                               By Nicholas Carter
1055--A Desperate Chance                            By Nicholas Carter
1056--A Chase in the Dark                           By Nicholas Carter
1057--The Snare and the Game                        By Nicholas Carter
1058--The Murray Hill Mystery                       By Nicholas Carter
1059--Nick Carter’s Close Call                      By Nicholas Carter
1060--The Missing Cotton King                       By Nicholas Carter
1061--A Game of Plots                               By Nicholas Carter
1062--The Prince of Liars                           By Nicholas Carter
1063--The Man at the Window                         By Nicholas Carter
1064--The Red League                                By Nicholas Carter
1065--The Price of a Secret                         By Nicholas Carter
1066--The Worst Case on Record                      By Nicholas Carter
1067--From Peril to Peril                           By Nicholas Carter
1068--The Seal of Silence                           By Nicholas Carter
1069--Nick Carter’s Chinese Puzzle                  By Nicholas Carter
1070--A Blackmailer’s Bluff                         By Nicholas Carter
1071--Heard in the Dark                             By Nicholas Carter
1072--A Checkmated Scoundrel                        By Nicholas Carter
1073--The Cashier’s Secret                          By Nicholas Carter
1074--Behind a Mask                                 By Nicholas Carter
1075--The Cloak of Guilt                            By Nicholas Carter
1076--Two Villains in One                           By Nicholas Carter
1077--The Hot Air Clue                              By Nicholas Carter
1078--Run to Earth                                  By Nicholas Carter
1079--The Certified Check                           By Nicholas Carter
1080--Weaving the Web                               By Nicholas Carter
1081--Beyond Pursuit                                By Nicholas Carter
1082--The Claws of the Tiger                        By Nicholas Carter
1083--Driven From Cover                             By Nicholas Carter
1084--A Deal in Diamonds                            By Nicholas Carter
1085--The Wizard of the Cue                         By Nicholas Carter
1086--A Race for Ten Thousand                       By Nicholas Carter
1087--The Criminal Link                             By Nicholas Carter
1088--The Red Signal                                By Nicholas Carter
1089--The Secret Panel                              By Nicholas Carter
1090--A Bonded Villain                              By Nicholas Carter
1091--A Move in the Dark                            By Nicholas Carter
1092--Against Desperate Odds                        By Nicholas Carter
1093--The Telltale Photographs                      By Nicholas Carter
1094--The Ruby Pin                                  By Nicholas Carter
1095--The Queen of Diamonds                         By Nicholas Carter
1096--A Broken Trail                                By Nicholas Carter
1097--An Ingenious Stratagem                        By Nicholas Carter
1098--A Sharper’s Downfall                          By Nicholas Carter
1099--A Race Track Gamble                           By Nicholas Carter
1100--Without a Clew                                By Nicholas Carter
1101--The Council of Death                          By Nicholas Carter
1102--The Hole in the Vault                         By Nicholas Carter
1103--In Death’s Grip                               By Nicholas Carter
1104--A Great Conspiracy                            By Nicholas Carter
1105--The Guilty Governor                           By Nicholas Carter
1106--A Ring of Rascals                             By Nicholas Carter
1107--A Masterpiece of Crime                        By Nicholas Carter



                         A Sharper’s Downfall

                                  OR,

                             INTO THE NET

                                  BY

                            NICHOLAS CARTER

     Author of the celebrated stories of Nick Carter’s adventures,
      which are published exclusively in the NEW MAGNET LIBRARY,
      conceded to be among the best detective tales ever written.

                            [Illustration]

                      STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
                              PUBLISHERS
                    79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York

                            Copyright, 1903
                           By STREET & SMITH

                         A Sharper’s Downfall


               (Printed in the United States of America)

    All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
                languages, including the Scandinavian.



                         A SHARPER’S DOWNFALL.



CHAPTER I.

A SUCCESSFUL BURGLARY.


In Thirty-fifth Street, east of Fifth Avenue, there is a house
conspicuous among its neighbors in that it differs in construction by
being of the variety known as the English basement style.

Entrance to the house is secured through a door reached by one or two
steps from the pavement. The dining-room of the house is nearly on a
level with the street, while the parlors are on the second floor,
reached from the lower hall by a flight of stairs.

The front parlor is enlarged and the front of the house ornamented by a
bay window extending some three feet beyond the line of the house.

It was not so long ago that, at an early hour in the morning, a man
carefully and cautiously lifted a sash in this bay window, and,
thrusting out his head, sounded a low whistle as a signal.

Had any one been present on the opposite side of the street, or looking
from the windows of the houses opposite, they might have seen another
man cautiously come from a corner of the little courtyard in front, and,
after a careful look up and down the street, return the signal in the
same cautious manner.

Thereupon a bundle was let down from the bay window, which was quickly
detached, the rope drawn back and another bundle lowered, which, as the
other had been, was detached and the rope drawn up again, and this time
to lower what appeared to be a heavy box.

Immediately after, something was thrown from the window which in shape
looked like an old-fashioned portmanteau, but was smaller.

Then a man rapidly let himself down from the window until he was within
four feet of the ground, when he drew a knife, cutting the rope above
him.

This gave him a drop of at least four feet, but it left only a short end
of the rope dangling from the bay window at a height not likely to
attract the attention of a passer-by, the evident object of cutting the
rope.

In the meantime, the man below had shouldered the heavy box and rapidly
run down to the east, to the corner below, where he had been met by a
man who had come from a carriage standing around the corner.

This one took the box from him, and the man rapidly returned to pick up
one of the bundles concealed behind the fence and the article that had
been thrown from the window.

As rapidly he ran down the street as before, the while the other man,
who had come from the parlor floor by the rope, stationed himself across
the street and anxiously looked up and down as if standing ready to make
a signal.

As the man with the bundles disappeared around the corner, with no
interference, the other dashed across the street, and, seizing the last
bundle left, hurriedly ran to the east.

He had hardly shouldered this bundle and set out on his run when a man
came into view at the corner on the west, quickly catching sight of the
fellow running to the east.

He came from the west on a run, and, arriving opposite the house where
these strange things had occurred, stopped a brief instant to look. He
noted the open window and the dangling rope.

Without hesitation he hastily ran down the street to the east, but
reached the corner too late for any purpose except to see a carriage
some distance off, going at full speed.

This man was Nick Carter, the famous detective.

Nick immediately realized the folly of attempting to follow the
carriage, which had so great a lead, though he was satisfied that there
had been a robbery of the house and that the carriage contained the
booty as well as the thieves.

He contented himself with sounding an alarm, in the hope that the
attention of the policemen on the beats along which the carriage
traveled might be directed toward it and their suspicion excited.

But, so far as he was able to judge, the only result of his alarm was to
call to him a policeman from another direction than that in which the
carriage went.

“What is it, Mr. Carter?” asked the officer, coming up on a run, and
recognizing the famous detective.

“Robbery, I fancy,” replied Nick; “and that carriage contains the
thieves and what they’ve stolen.”

“We’d have to be race horses,” said the officer, looking after the
carriage now disappearing in the distance, “to overcome that lead.”

“No; it is useless to attempt to follow it,” replied Nick.

“Where was the job done?” asked the officer.

“Up there in Thirty-fifth Street,” replied Nick. “Is that your beat?”

“Yes, and I was over it half an hour ago.”

“They waited for that,” replied Nick. “Come with me and let us look at
the house.”

They went back to the house, where Nick pointed out the open bay window
and the short end of the rope dangling therefrom.

The officer went inside the little yard and found the rope that had been
cut off lying on the ground.

He picked it up, and, looking at the end, said:

“This rope has been cut with a sharp knife.”

Nick joined him, and, looking at the end, agreed with the officer, while
both wondered why it had been cut.

“Do you know who lives here?” asked Nick.

“Yes; the man’s name is Jacob Herron.”

“What is he?”

“A Wall Street man.”

“A broker or banker?”

“I don’t know what he is. A sort of speculator, I guess. Anyhow, he’s a
pretty big man.”

“Well,” said Nick, “we ought to arouse the family and make an
investigation.”

The two went to the front door, where the officer rang the bell several
times without securing a response.

Then he beat on the door with his night stick, sounding an alarm on the
stoop as well.

This finally aroused some one in the upper story, who raised a window to
ask what all the row was about.

“Come down and let us in,” replied the officer. “You have been robbed.”

“Who are you?” asked the voice above.

“A police officer, and Mr. Carter, the detective,” was the officer’s
reply.

The head was quickly withdrawn from the window, and, after the two on
the stoop had waited what seemed to them a long time, a light flashed up
in the hall and the door was immediately opened.

The two stepped in to see a young man of possibly twenty-six or
twenty-seven years of age standing there with neither coat nor vest and
his bare feet thrust into slippers.

“You say the house has been robbed?” asked the young man. “I see no
indications of it.”

“They are not likely to be found in the halls,” said Nick. “But I should
judge they are to be found in the parlor above.”

The young man without a word led the way up the stairs to a furnished
hallroom, into which the stairs opened. Here he lit one of the lights of
the chandelier, and Nick saw in a glance that the parlor in the front
communicated with this furnished hall, occupying the whole width of the
house.

They entered the parlor to discover little that was noteworthy. The
window was open in the bay, and they could see in the parlor, what was
not observable from the street, that a side window of the bay had been
raised sufficiently to permit a rope to pass under the sash, and that
the rope had been made fast around the division between the windows.

There had been little, if any, disturbance of the furniture. On a sofa
in the corner lay a silver mug.

Nick pointed to the mug, without making comment upon it, however.

“What room is that at the rear of the house?” he asked.

“I suppose it might be called the library,” replied the young man,
“since all the books that are in the house are there. It is the largest
room in the house, and is occupied by the family in the evenings when
the folks are at home.”

“Then the family is not at home?” asked Nick.

“No, Mr. Herron has gone to Chicago, and took his wife and daughter with
him as a sort of a pleasure trip for them.”

“Who are you?”

“I am George Temple, a nephew of Mr. Herron.”

“Are you a member of this family?”

“In a way,” replied the young man Temple. “I am very intimate here, but
I am here now only because the family are away. Uncle Jacob asked me to
sleep here and guard their house in his absence.”

“Well,” replied Nick, “it doesn’t seem as if you guarded it much.”

“No,” laughed the young man, “I never heard anything until I heard the
sound of the officer’s club on the door.”

“Take us into that rear room.”

Temple led the way across the hall to this room, which occupied the
whole width of the house, lighting a jet of the chandelier.

If there had been no indications of a robbery elsewhere, there were
plenty to be seen in this room.

Two handsome desks had been forcibly opened and rifled, the contents
being scattered on the floor; that is to say, such as had not been
carried away.

The drawers of the bookcases had been pulled out, their contents hastily
pulled over, much having been thrown on the floor.

In a hasty glance about the room it did appear as if every object in it
had passed under the hands of the thieves.

There was not a picture hanging straight on the walls, and there were
many in the room.

“Mr. Temple,” asked Nick, “did your uncle keep anything of special value
in this room?”

“What do you mean by special value?” asked Mr. Temple.

“Something which your uncle especially valued, was very careful of and
generally kept hidden.”

“I know of nothing of the kind,” replied Temple. “Why do you ask that
particular question?”

Nick pointed to the pictures, saying:

“It would look as if the thieves, in hunting for some special things
which they did not find, had hunted behind every picture in the room.
The inference is that they knew that some object of value, which they
were anxious to obtain, was concealed somewhere within this room.”

The young man, Temple, looked curiously at the detective, as if the
remark of Nick indicated a shrewdness not known to him, but he made no
reply.

“Do you miss anything from this room?” asked Nick.

The young man closely examined the room, and, completing his
investigation, came back to Nick to say:

“I miss two rather valuable bits of bronze that my uncle picked up
abroad. However, it may be that before leaving on this journey these
bronzes and other valuable things were picked up and locked away. You
see, I only stay at the house occasionally, and though I am here nearly
daily, I am yet not as familiar with it as if I was living here all the
time.”

“What room were you occupying when we aroused you?”

“The front room on the fourth story.”

“Were there any servants in the house?”

“No; you see I only sleep here, and Uncle Jacob gave his servants a sort
of vacation until his return.”

“The rooms on the floor above, who are they occupied by?” asked Nick.

“The front room by Uncle Jacob and his wife; the rear room by his
daughter; and the room between as a nursery.”

“Take us to those rooms.”

The three mounted to the third floor, and on entering the front room
the first thing that attracted Nick’s attention was a little house safe
in the corner.

The door stood wide open and the safe itself was empty.

Nick examined the lock and saw that it was of the combination order.

Apparently the safe had been opened by one familiar with the
combination.

“What was kept in this safe?” asked Nick.

“I don’t know; I never knew the safe was here. I have not been in this
room in a long time.”

It was clear that every drawer and receptacle in the room had been
rifled in great haste, articles having been thrown upon the floor in the
most reckless manner.

Investigation showed that the daughter’s room in the rear had been
treated in the same manner.

The little party now went down to the first floor, and, entering the
dining-room, saw that it had been literally stripped of its plate.

“Was it valuable?” said Nick.

“On my word,” replied Temple, “I couldn’t tell you whether it was
genuine silver or merely plated ware. My impression is that there was a
great deal of silver here.”

“When will Mr. Herron be back?” asked Nick.

“He’s expected back to-morrow.”

Nick turned away after saying to the policeman that he had no further
business there, and that the officer should make his report to the
station house as quickly as he could.

He then left the house.



CHAPTER II.

ANOTHER PHASE.


The next morning Nick Carter had hardly concluded his breakfast when a
card was brought to him by the servant.

He smiled as he read it, and, tossing it to his wife across the table,
said:

“I expected that call, but hardly so early.”

He went into the parlor, where a middle-aged man rose to greet him.

“Mr. Carter, I presume,” said the visitor.

Nick bowed and requested his visitor to be seated, seating himself in
such a position that the light fell on the face of his caller.

“My card has given you my name,” said the gentleman.

“Yes, Mr. Herron,” replied Nick; “I visited your house last night, or,
rather, early this morning, but you were not at home.”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Herron, “and under circumstances that are not at all
to my liking. I arrived home early this morning, and, on learning that
my house had been robbed in my absence and that you had been promptly on
hand to investigate, I have lost no time in coming to you, for I
understand, from something you said to the officer, that you had no
intention of following up the case.”

“That is so,” replied Nick; “unless I am especially retained in the
case, it is without my province.”

“I am here to retain you, if you will take my retainer.”

“I should like to hear more about the case before I either accept or
decline,” said Nick. “If it is an ordinary case of robbery, the police
will deal with it.”

“First,” said Mr. Herron, “I would like to ask you what impression was
received by you on your investigation last night. Evidently you think it
is more than an ordinary robbery.”

“That was my impression last night,” replied Nick. “It seemed to me as
if the men who robbed that house were searching for some one particular
thing.”

“You are entirely correct,” replied Mr. Herron. “So well satisfied am I
of that, that I believe that such things as were taken from the house,
other than that particular thing, were so taken for the purpose of
leading to the belief that it was a common burglary.”

“I should hardly go so far as that, Mr. Herron,” said Nick. “There were
too many evidences of the work of skillful and professional burglars to
justify that belief. But give me the facts.”

“Silver plate and jewelry were taken from the house to the value of
probably $8,000. The jewelry was taken from a small safe standing in my
wife’s bedroom.”

“Was that safe locked when you left town?”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Herron, “and the curious thing is that, before
leaving town, I changed the combination without informing my wife of the
change--a habit of mine always on leaving town.”

“Did you tell no one of that change?” asked Nick.

“I told no one, but, making a memorandum of it, placed it in my
pocketbook.”

“And yet the safe was opened?” asked Nick.

“Yes, and without force.”

“I observed that your plate was kept in a dining-room safe?”

“Yes; and that has, also, a combination lock. That, however, was not
changed, and was in the possession of the butler, who is an old and
trusted servant.”

Mr. Herron paused a moment, and then went on:

“Of course, no one likes to lose a value of $8,000, but I would have
been quite willing to have sustained that loss if that which I believe
was the sole purpose of the burglary had been left me. It was for that
that the desks and drawers were ransacked. That cost me, in actual
outlay, $25,000, and, in the loss of its possession, deprives me of what
I feel that I am justified in calling a large fortune.”

“What was that?” inquired Nick.

“The story is a long one to tell in all its details. But I will give it
to you as briefly as I can.

“Some five or six years ago an acquaintance of mine, whom I knew to be a
worthy man--an electrician of the name of Pemberton, who was a great
experimenter--came to me with the statement that he was satisfied that
he had discovered the practical principles of storing electricity and of
operating a motor with a minimum of leakage, by an invention of his own.

“He had not the money to continue the experiments necessary to bring it
to perfection.

“Becoming convinced of the value of the idea, I loaned him the money he
required, with the understanding that, if it was successfully
accomplished, upon the investment of a sufficient amount of purchase
money, I should become interested and have a part ownership in the
complete invention.

“From time to time I was forced to advance more money. But finally the
experiments ended in complete success. Drawings were made, with a view
to obtaining the patent rights, and even the papers which were to make
me a half owner in the invention were drawn.

“About the time that everything was in readiness, the model even being
completed, the electrician was taken suddenly ill and as suddenly died.
The drawings and models were all in the possession of his widow. As soon
as I could, properly, I made known to the widow what rights I had in the
invention. While neither denying nor admitting my rights, she consulted
a lawyer who had done business for her husband, who advised her not to
admit my rights, but to see if she could not dispose of the invention in
a more profitable way.

“However, by showing her that I had already advanced to her late husband
some fifteen thousand dollars and the papers of co-ownership, which were
drawn, but not signed, whereby I was to pay the expenses of obtaining
the patents, and subsequently to invest fifty thousand dollars in the
manufacture of the machine, I persuaded her to admit that I had actual
rights.

“To bind and confirm her in this position I paid her ten thousand
dollars, and thus got possession of the drawings and models.

“But she had already consulted some promoters, and the very day that she
concluded this arrangement with me and delivered the models and
drawings, on receiving my ten-thousand-dollar check, an offer, on its
face more advantageous to her, was made.

“An effort was made by her and her friends to get out of the bargain
entered into with me and a suit to recover the models from me was begun.

“At this time a new difficulty arose, and that was the doubt and
difficulty as to the procedure in obtaining the patents. There had been,
upon the part of my deceased friend, no assignment to me, and who was to
act in obtaining those patents was a question.

“I was advised by my lawyer that the executors of the estate were the
ones to move in it and that executor was the widow, who was in an
antagonistic position to me, and refused to take the necessary steps.

“But the secrets of that invention--all the drawings, models,
statements, papers relating to it--were in my possession.

“I carefully guarded these, going to the lengths of having a case built
which should accommodate and keep safe all of them, under lock and key.

“And then I sat down to await developments.

“Various efforts have been made by the widow, through her lawyer, and by
a number of promoters who, at least, know the value of the invention, to
obtain possession of these things, but I have defeated every effort
until now.

“That case, containing the drawings, models and all the papers relating
to it, was stolen from my house last night.”

“And you desire to retain me to recover that case?” asked Nick.

“That is my purpose and the reason of my call.”

The great detective arose from his seat and began pacing the apartment,
as was his custom when deeply thinking.

Several times Mr. Herron attempted to break him from his thoughts, but
Nick imperatively motioned him to silence. At length, he stopped short,
and, turning to Mr. Herron, said:

“Under your statement, there is justification for your belief that the
sole object of that burglary was the obtaining of that case, which, you
say, contains all the matter relating to the invention. Still, I am
inclined to believe that that burglary was the work of professionals.”

“Then we are far apart in the way we look at it,” said Mr. Herron.

“Not necessarily,” replied Nick, sharply. “Let me ask you, are these
promoters you speak of as desiring possession of this invention men who
have a fair standing before the world?”

“Yes; I must admit that,” said Mr. Herron.

“Are they men, do you think, who would, in their great desire to obtain
possession, themselves commit a burglary?”

“Oh, no; and I don’t want you to think that they are banded together
against me. They are as antagonistic to each other as they are to me.”

“I should assume that, in any event,” said Nick. “But suppose that there
was one so much more desirous than the other to obtain possession that
he would even engage in desperate means, do you think he would commit a
burglary? To take the chances of ruining his reputation by entering a
house at night?”

“It is very hard to believe it, in the way you put it.”

“Very well, then. For the sake of my argument, let us assume that there
is one among them who is unscrupulous enough to take desperate means,
and see if we cannot get together on common ground. Suppose that,
instead of committing a burglary, he hired some one to get possession of
that case. Could we not, therefore, account for the disappearance of
that case as being the real reason of the burglary, and yet meet my
statement that the tracks of professionals were seen in the house?”

Mr. Herron leaped to his feet in excitement, crying:

“You’ve hit it! you’ve hit it exactly!”

“Don’t go so fast,” said Nick. “That is only a shrewd guess on my part,
a supposition likely to be changed at the very first step that I make in
a serious investigation. However, your case appeals to me, and I will
take it. As a first step, I want you to go with me to my desk, and there
carefully note down the names of all those promoters who you say have
been trying to get possession of those papers. Write down, also, the
name and address of the widow, of her lawyer and yours, and as full a
description of the case you had made to contain those papers and models,
together with a full list of the contents of that case.”

Nick took Mr. Herron into the room in which he did his work, and placed
him at his desk to comply with his request.

While Mr. Herron was thus at work, Nick busied himself with summoning
his three faithful aids--Chick, Patsy and Ida--by telephone.

By the time Mr. Herron had completed his writing, the three detectives
had arrived, and Nick, dismissing Mr. Herron with the remark that three
lines of investigation must be begun at once, devoted himself to a
consultation with his three assistants.



CHAPTER III.

THE FIRST STEPS.


Nick related to his three aids, in the first place, his experiences of
the night previous, when he had happened on the heels of the burglary.

This he followed by a statement of the information that had been given
him by Mr. Herron, and, concluding, said:

“This promises to be a most interesting case. I am impressed with the
straightforwardness of Mr. Herron. Still, there may be another side of
his statement, or case, and he may not have been wholly frank with me,
though I am inclined to believe he was. I shall immediately set out on
that point.

“Under Mr. Herron’s statement, suspicion naturally turns to one of the
parties anxious to obtain possession of that invention.”

“And to the widow,” said Ida.

“If not to the widow,” said Nick, “to some one representing her, or
standing as a representative of her. But we must not lose sight of the
fact that, after all, this may have been the commonest kind of a
burglary and that the burglars took the case they found in the house
simply because it was in their way to do so, and without the slightest
knowledge of the value Mr. Herron and the others put upon it.

“To look after that end of it--that is, after those who actually did
enter the house--must be Patsy’s work. It is a difficult job, Patsy, and
I hardly know how to give you a starting point. But, if you will go to
the neighborhood of Thirty-fifth Street and make careful inquiries, you
may be able to find some one who saw something of those men and the
carriage that will give you a starter.”

Patsy nodded, but seemed to be thinking of something else.

“Well?” asked Nick. “What is it, Patsy? You’ve got something on your
mind. Out with it.”

“It’s this, chief,” replied Patsy. “Say, didn’t you say that his nibs,
this Herron, had a case made to hold those papers?”

“Yes,” replied Nick.

“Well, then,” said Patsy, “the thing is whether anybody, except Herron,
knew of this case.”

“You mean,” said Nick, “whether any of those who are opposing Mr. Herron
knew that the models and papers were kept in a case especially made for
them by Mr. Herron?”

“That’s what I mean,” said Patsy.

“It’s a very good point,” said Nick. “If they didn’t know, and if the
knowledge of such a case was confined to Mr. Herron, it would go far
toward throwing a doubt on his suspicions.”

“Yes,” said Chick, “it would raise a doubt; but, after all, there is
that search through all the drawers and desks that you say was so plain
and that made you think when you saw it that the thieves were looking
for some one particular thing.”

“That’s just what I was thinking of,” said Ida. “If they were so strict
in their search that they even looked behind pictures hanging on the
walls, you may be sure that they didn’t leave any trunks, satchels,
dress-suit cases or any other kind of cases unsearched, and, in doing
that, might have hit upon this case, and, opening it and seeing the
model, found just what they were after.”

“Nevertheless,” said Nick, “Patsy’s point is a good one, and, working
on that line, he is quite likely to hit up against something. And so,
Patsy, you would do well to see Mr. Herron, find that out and get from
him the name of the person who made the case, and, perhaps, from that
person you may find something of value. However, that is your line.”

Turning to Chick, he said:

“You take this list of promoters, Chick, and find out all you can about
them--what sort of men they are and what their associations are.”

To Ida, he said:

“I want you to get acquainted with the widow and find out what you can.
It is even hard to suggest what it is you are to find out. But if you
get her confidence, she may tell you some things as to those who have
made her offers that will be valuable in this inquiry. As for myself, I
shall again go to the Thirty-fifth Street house to make a closer
investigation, and I will take up the lawyer with whom Mr. Herron has
consulted.

“Now, let us scatter and meet later in the day to compare notes and
determine upon a plan of action in the light of more knowledge than we
have now.”

Nick Carter’s first step was a visit to the house in Thirty-fifth
Street, where he found Mr. Herron awaiting him.

“Since my return, I have carefully figured the value of the articles
taken from the house,” he said to Nick. “All of the jewelry left in the
safe in my wife’s room is missing. The value of that is about five
thousand dollars. All of the plate that was genuine silver has also been
taken. The value of that does not exceed twenty-five hundred dollars.
Fortunately, Mrs. Herron had deposited in the safety deposit vaults the
more valuable part of her jewelry some two weeks ago, as not being
required for some months to come. Thus, the loss is figured down to
about seven thousand five hundred dollars, apart from the case,
concerning which I am so anxious.”

“Then,” asked Nick, “apart from that case, what was taken was from the
safe in Mrs. Herron’s room and from the dining-room safe?”

“That is all,” replied Mr. Herron. “Now, I want to say that, with that
case out of my hands, there stands me, in an actual loss, about
thirty-three thousand dollars. My anxiety to-day is to secure the return
of that case and its contents. In securing that I secure what represents
to me an outlay of twenty-five thousand dollars. I am quite willing to
sacrifice the other valuables in order to get that case back again.
Indeed, I am willing to spend more money, and, with this statement, I
turn the matter over to you to do as you think best, pledging myself to
respond to any demand you may make upon me.”

Nick looked at Mr. Herron very seriously for a moment or two, and then
said:

“I presume you know, Mr. Herron, that there is such an offense in the
eyes of the law as compounding a felony.”

Mr. Herron nodded his head rather doubtfully, as if he did not
comprehend wholly the words of Nick. The detective went on:

“Your words might be tortured into the meaning of instructions to me to
compound this felony.”

“I do not intend,” said Mr. Herron, “to do anything wrong. I want to
impress you with the idea that my main desire is to recover that case
and its contents intact, even if it be at a considerable cost to
myself.”

To this Nick made no reply, merely bowing, and said:

“There was a young man in the house last night with whom I talked,
Temple by name.”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Herron, “a nephew of mine--the son of a sister--who,
though not living with us, is, nevertheless, very intimate in the
house. He slept here during the absence of the family, at my request.”

“Do not think, Mr. Herron,” said Nick, “that I am pointing to, or giving
expression to, any suspicions in the questions that I shall ask. I am
seeking all sorts and every little bit of information in them. Now,
then, you trust this young man?”

“Utterly.”

“What are his habits?”

“Excellent.”

“He does not dissipate?”

“No; not in any direction. If he is under any criticism as to his course
of life, it is that he is too much devoted to athletic sports, and that
they have the only interest he has outside of his business relations.”

“What are his business relations?”

“He is the secretary and treasurer of a small manufacturing concern, of
which I am the chief owner, and he is my representative in that affair.”

“Now, as to his associations?”

“He is a member of an athletic club and spends most of his leisure hours
with its members, and, I have inquired to learn, they are a very proper
set of young men, whose chief aim is to bring their physical powers to
as near a point of perfection as possible.”

“What is that organization?”

“The Grecian Athletic Club.”

Nick made a memorandum of this club, and turned his attention to the
safe in the dining-room.

A close investigation satisfied him that, by some means, the combination
had been found, and the safe opened without force. He also found what
had not been observed by Mr. Herron--that the draperies in the parlor
had been used to wrap up the plate taken from the safe. Going to the
smaller safe in Mrs. Herron’s room, there were also indications that
that safe had been opened in a like manner.

Mr. Herron had stood by silently while the detective was making these
investigations, and when Nick turned from them he asked:

“Well?”

“I told you this morning,” said Nick, “that I believed skillful and
professional burglars had been at work here. A second examination
satisfies me that I was right in that statement, and I go further and
say that a skillful lockman was at work.”

“Ah!”

Mr. Herron made this exclamation, but in a tone that suggested to Nick
that he did not comprehend its significance.

“You do not take in all my meaning,” said Nick; “it means that I can
narrow the search for the burglars to a comparatively small circle.
There are not so many skillful lockmen among the burglars who are not
pretty well known to the authorities.”

Nothing had been changed in the house since the arrival of Mr. Herron
and his wife, and Nick again went over the work done by the burglars in
searching the desks, drawers and other receptacles in the house.

Though he made no comment, he was satisfied that while an exhaustive
search had been made for some particular thing, it had been made without
method or purpose. In other words, the thieves had proceeded to a search
without definite information as to the place wherein the thing sought
was kept.

Evidently, all that was known was that Mr. Herron kept these drawings
and models within his dwelling-house, and that information might have
come from Mr. Herron himself.

Nick questioned Mr. Herron on this point, but, when the gentleman could
not recollect that he had ever told any one the fact, neither could he
assert that he had not mentioned it.

As a matter of fact, the second examination of the house had not added
to the great detective’s knowledge, although it had confirmed him in
certain beliefs.

“This house was entered by professional burglars,” he said to himself.
“Whether they entered simply for the purpose of burglary, and, finding
the case, carried it away with them, or whether they were employed to
enter this house to obtain that case, and took the plate and jewelry
because they could do so easily, are questions which I cannot determine
on this showing.”

He was in Mrs. Herron’s room when he said this to himself, and, thinking
it over, he went to the front window and looked out.

On the opposite side of the street, seated on the lower step of a house
immediately opposite, was Patsy, talking to an ill-favored specimen of a
man similarly seated.

A single glance assured Nick that Patsy was not idling his time, but was
there for a purpose.

Whether he was watching for him or not, Nick could not tell, but he drew
the curtains aside and placed himself close to the window.

Patsy saw him at once and made a series of rapid signals to Nick.

They meant to Nick that Patsy had hit upon a man important in their
search, that he wanted the man followed while he, Patsy, could make a
change in his appearance.

Telling Mr. Herron that he had no more business in the house and would
at once begin the search, Nick descended the stairs, and, opening the
front door, stood a moment within the vestibule, where he signaled to
Patsy with his hands that he had understood him.

Patsy immediately got up, and, after a word or two with the fellow
beside him, walked off in the direction of the west without looking
behind.

The fellow slouched down the street to the east and Nick went after him
at a safe distance, taking the precaution to cross the street, so as to
be on the same side with him.

Nick did not know the purpose of the shadow, but he had confidence
enough in Patsy to take up the lines suggested blindly.

The man led Nick to Third Avenue, where he turned to the right, or,
toward Thirty-fourth Street. Here Nick made a mark in red chalk on the
corner, which should indicate to Patsy the direction in which they
turned.

At the corner of Thirty-fourth Street, the fellow crossed to Third
Avenue and stationed himself against a pillar of the elevated railroad,
from which point he could keep an eye on each of the four corners. He
watched each of these corners as if he were waiting for some one.

Nick put himself out of sight, after he had made a mark on the pavement
with red chalk, that would tell Patsy, on his return, that he was there,
and waited.

But he did not wait long, for Patsy, in an excellent make-up of an
east-side tough, slouched up.

Seeing the mark on the pavement, he looked about, first to locate the
man followed, and then for his chief.

Nick beckoned to him from a doorway, and Patsy went to him.

“What is it, Patsy?” asked Nick.

“He’s a crook,” said Patsy. “I’ve known him this long time. He wasn’t in
the Thirty-fifth Street job, but he’s on to it and is doing a little
fly-cop work himself.”

“I don’t catch your meaning,” said Nick.

“It’s this way: The fellow is Spike Thomas. He suspects that two men
that he has worked with sometimes, had a job last night. He suspects
that that job was the Thirty-fifth Street house. He’s wanting to get on
straight, so as to get into the divvy. He tumbled to me as being on your
staff and he tumbled to you at the door. He knows we’re working on the
case, and he tried to put it over me to find out how much we’d found
out.”

“What did you tell him?”

“That we had found out nothing and suspected nobody. And that was dead
right, for we don’t, yet.”

“Did you find out whom he suspects?”

“Oh, no. He’s too fly for that. But I’m certain he’s laying for the two
that he thinks did it.”

“He probably thinks right,” said Nick. “He makes a starter for you,
Patsy.”

“That’s what I thought,” said Patsy. “Anyhow, I’ll stick to him and see
who he talks to and how he talks.”

“That’s right,” said Nick, “and I’ll leave it to you, while I go on
other lines.”

Nick went away, and Patsy placed himself for a long watch.

Spike Thomas still stood at the corner, keeping a sharp eye on all who
passed or appeared on any of the four corners.



CHAPTER IV.

OVERREACHING A SHARPER.


An hour passed, during which Spike Thomas waited as patiently as Patsy,
on the opposite corner, patiently watched him.

At the end of that time Spike showed by his action and his vigilance
that the person or persons for whom he had watched had come into view.

Presently two men crossed from the lower side of Thirty-fourth Street to
the corner where Spike was standing, and as they passed him, carelessly
nodded to him.

Spike spoke to them and they halted.

What passed between them of course Patsy could not tell, but it
evidently ended in an invitation to drink on the part of one of the two
strangers, a man who in his outward appearance looked like everything
else but a thief and burglar.

As Patsy was preparing to follow, he suddenly became aware that a man
had stopped on the pavement immediately in front of him and was
regarding the group across the street most intently.

Looking at this man closely, Patsy quickly recognized a celebrated
detective from Chicago.

Stepping up to him, Patsy called him by name, revealing himself to the
Chicago sleuth.

“What do you know of those men over there?” he asked.

“Are you after them?” asked the Chicago man in return.

“I am after the one who is on the corner that they spoke to. He is
Spike Thomas, a New York crook, second-story man.”

“That dressy man that’s talking to him,” said the Chicago man, “is Jimmy
Lannigan, the swell crackman of Philadelphia. He’s the best lock man in
the world. I was surprised to see him here, for I supposed he was in St.
Louis. He was in Chicago all last winter, and while we suspected him of
several jobs, we couldn’t fix it on him.”

By this time the three men had entered the liquor saloon on the corner,
and Patsy said:

“I’d like to talk to you a little longer, but I must get closer to those
people.”

He slipped across the avenue and the Chicago sleuth went his way.

Peering into the saloon, Patsy saw the three men standing in a little
group at the bar.

There was no one else in the saloon, and Patsy did not dare to enter
lest his appearance should be noted. But he did see that Spike Thomas
was urging something strongly on the one the Chicago sleuth had called
Lannigan, and he heard the latter say in a rather loud voice:

“We can’t talk about it here. Let’s go to another place.”

Patsy retired from the door and took such a position on the corner that
he could observe both the front and the rear doors.

In a few minutes the three men appeared at the front door and, turning
the corner, walked down Thirty-fourth Street in the direction of the
East River.

Patsy sauntered after them. It was not a difficult matter to keep them
in sight, although from time to time both Thomas and Lannigan looked
behind them. Patsy thought it was more because of habit than in a belief
they were followed.

Their way took them to the last block of the street, and here they
turned into a saloon which was well filled with customers, and where
they could easily talk without attracting attention.

At the rear of this saloon, in the corner, was a table and some chairs.

At it Spike Thomas, Lannigan and his companion sat down and immediately
entered into a close conversation.

In the beginning the talk was almost entirely conducted by Spike Thomas,
Lannigan’s replies seemingly being a series of denials.

By and by, Patsy drifted to the table next to the party but which was
still some little distance from it, too far away, indeed, to hear what
was said by the three, as they talked in a low tone.

Finally, however, Spike Thomas raised his voice a bit, apparently a
little angry, and said:

“What are yer givin’ me. I know you was into it. And yer had a right to
take me in. It’s no way to treat a pal. I got something up me sleeve,
and if you don’t take me in on de level I’ll make trouble for yer.”

Lannigan merely laughed and called for some more drinks, but the third
man was evidently inclined to regard seriously the threat conveyed in
Spike’s words.

Speaking to Lannigan in a low tone he rose from his seat and took
Lannigan apart and talked earnestly and vigorously.

Whatever it was that was said made an impression upon Lannigan, and he
turned abruptly and went back to the table.

“See here, Spike,” said Lannigan. “You don’t want to do anything ugly
until you know what you’re doing. Billy and I can’t talk with you until
we’ve been across the river. We’ll be back inside of an hour and see
you right here. If there’s a whack into anything you’ll get your
share.”

The two tossed off their drinks, and rising, immediately left the
saloon.

Spike Thomas remained at the table, looking, as Patsy thought, much
dissatisfied with the outcome.

“Anyhow,” said Patsy, “Spike will remain here for an hour or two.”

Suddenly Patsy rose to his feet and sauntered from the saloon.

He ran up the street hastily and turned the corner.

Half an hour later a young fellow, rather jauntily dressed but,
nevertheless, one in whom the east-side tough showed, came down the
street and turned into the saloon where Spike was awaiting the return of
Lannigan and his companion.

Arriving in the center of the barroom he gave a flip to the brim of his
hat with a snap of his finger, sending it back on his head, gave a
characteristic hitch to one shoulder and, with a protruding chin, walked
over to the table where Spike Thomas sat.

“Say, Spike, I’ve been lookin’ for youse,” said the newcomer.

Spike looked up with a frown on his face and curiously regarded the
other fellow.

“Well,” he said, “youse has found me. What’s de trouble?”

“Say, Spike,” said the new man. “Does youse know anything about dat job
of crib-cracking up in Thirty-fifth Street?”

Spike partly closed his eyes and regarded the other keenly and
suspiciously. At length he replied:

“Naw! Nor youse eder, Bally Morris.”

“Dat’s right,” replied the other, “I don’t know much for a fact. But I
got a couple of lines onto it dat you can work if yer knows who did the
job.”

Again Spike looked at the young fellow, but this time it was not alone
suspiciously, but with an evident desire to have him show his hand. He
altered his tone and manner toward the newcomer.

“Have some booze?” he asked.

As the lad he called Morris sat down at the table he said a little more
genially:

“What about dem lines youse has got?”

“Dey’s all right if yer knows who did the job,” replied Morris.

“S’pose I did it, meself,” said Spike, with a wink.

“Well, I knows youse didn’t do it.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause de job was done before one o’clock dis mornin’ and youse was wid
yer rag down to Rivington Street along about dat time.”

“Dat’s right,” exclaimed Spike, with an oath, “and if it hadn’t bin for
de rag I’m t’inkin’ I’d been into de job. She got me out of de way of
it.”

“Den,” said Morris, eagerly, “youse does know who did it?”

Spike gave a huge wink and smiled a knowing smile.

“I’m kinder onto it meself,” said Morris. “I’m t’inkin’ I ain’t guessin’
far wrong when I’m sayin’ it was de swell lag Lannigan.”

Spike gave such a start as made Morris say:

“Dat’s de way you t’ink, too.”

“Well, I’ve got a squint dat way,” reluctantly admitted Spike. “But,
wot’s dem lines youse got?”

“Well, de first one is dat Nick Carter is in de case and Patsy Murphy
wid him.”

“I got dat line meself,” said Spike. “I knows Patsy, dis long time. I
seed him dis mornin’ an’ I tumbled to de job.”

“Well, here’s a line you ain’t got. De lags took out of de house a case
wid some papers in it wot’s worth more’n fifty times what all de odder
things is.”

“Wot’s dat you’re givin’ me?” asked Spike, roughly. “Wot are yer gittin’
to?”

“It’s dis. Some big feller in de dark put up de job of gittin’ de lags
to git hold of dat case. Dey put up for it, but nothin’ like wot it’s
wurth. Why, man, dere’s thousands and thousands in dat case and dere’s
more’n one dat would put up big for it.”

Spike pricked up his ears, for he began to see what was meant and of
what use the knowledge of it would be to him in his contest with
Lannigan.

“Oh, gwan!” he cried. “You’re dopey. Youse dreamin’.”

“Naw, I ain’t dreamin’,” exclaimed the other. “His nibs dat lives in de
crib dat was cracked would give enough to make us all rich, to git dat
case back wid wot’s in it.”

“Say,” asked Spike, “where did you get dat line?”

“De same where you got your line,” said Morris.

“Patsy Murphy?”

“De same.”

“How did he come to do dat?”

“Dat’s wot he’s lookin’ for,” said Morris. “Yer see, he’s lookin’ for
dat and nottin’ else. You know Patsy is an east sider, an’ he tackled me
to know if I knew who did de job, den he’d give all his insides to me
about it.”

“Yes, he did!” said Spike, incredulously.

“Dat’s right. He did. An’ he said dat he was talkin’ wid you afore he
seen me and if he hadn’t been a chump, he’d split to you to see if you
wouldn’t give him a pointer on de fellers into de job.”

“Dat’s right,” said Spike, thoughtfully. “An’ I give him de chance when
I was pumpin’ him as to whether he knew who did de job.”

“Well, what of it?”

“Well,” said Morris, “I was t’inkin’ dere was somethin’ into it for you
and me if you handled it right. I was t’inkin’ if you was dead onto de
right lags, dat youse could go to ’em an’ give ’em a tip about the wuth
dere was into de case and get ’em to hold it up; den youse who wasn’t
into de job could dicker between dem as wants it bad and Patsy’d be one
to dicker wid.”

Spike slapped the table with his hands so hard that every one in the
room turned to look, but Spike was too earnest to notice this. To Morris
he said:

“Yer right, kid, yer dead right. Yer’ve got a big line. Now, see here, I
know who did de job. I’m dead certain of that, dough dey won’t say dey
did. But wid what you give me I’ll make ’em talk on de level. Now, kid,
youse must git out of here, for dem as I t’inks did it will be here
soon. I’m on de dead level wid youse and you got yer rake in whatever I
pulls off.”

“All right,” said Morris.

He got up from the table, pulled his hat over his brows, and then
swaggered out of the barroom.

Reaching Thirty-fourth Street he walked to the west quite rapidly and on
the second corner above as he turned to the left he came into close
contact with another, an encounter which caused him to step back with a
decided start.

Then he laughed aloud, most heartily, and if at nothing else, at the
look of vast astonishment which spread over the face of the other
person. Both the laugh and the look of astonishment were justified.

The man he had encountered was an exact duplicate of himself. They
needed but a band between them to become Siamese twins.

Finally, recovering from his astonishment a bit, the other reached out
as if he would take Morris by the shoulders, saying:

“Here, cull, wot’s all dis?”

“It’s all right, Bally Morris,” replied the other, who himself had been
called by that name by Spike Thomas.

Suddenly the other bent forward, peering keenly into the face of his
counterpart and almost shouted:

“Hully chee! It’s a plant. De cull is painted for me. Dat’s right.”

Again the other laughed so heartily that he could not reply, and while
he was holding his sides his counterpart cried out:

“Wot’s de game? Give up now. Who’s youse?”

“Patsy Murphy, Bally Morris,” replied Patsy, for it was Patsy. “I didn’t
think I’d run up agin’ you so far away from de Bowery. But come along
till I get dis make-up off me.”

Somewhat dazed and wholly bewildered, the east-side tough followed
obediently the one who had made himself into such a skillful
resemblance.

“But I say, Patsy,” he asked, “what was you up to?”

“Nothing that’ll hurt you,” replied Patsy, “but if you’ll play up to de
line it may put some dollars into your pocket.”

Patsy found on the corner below a drinking-place and, going into the
washroom, quickly removed the make-up that had made him look like Bally
Morris.

Then he took Billy into the barroom and told him just what he had done
in his disguise.

“Now, Billy,” he said in conclusion, “I haven’t made you do anything
that’ll hurt you or any one else. If you’ll take up my lead now and not
let Spike know that I faked him so, there’ll be some boodle for you
from somewhere. Do yer see?” He continued: “I’m tryin’ to stop that case
from going into the hands of people that, if it ever reaches them, can’t
be got out of by the right owners.”

When the real Bally Morris comprehended the whole scheme he was quite
willing to fall into it and do as Patsy wanted him to do since there was
no danger for him, but a chance of profit.

“Are you goin’ to be on the level with me?” asked Patsy.

“Why shouldn’t I be?” replied Morris. “Dere ain’t anyt’ing in it for me
any odder way.”

“Then,” said Patsy, “get down to that place and watch Spike. And meet me
on the other corner an hour from now. Wait for me till I come.”

Patsy hastened to report, for he believed that he had made most
important discoveries.



CHAPTER V.

DRAWING THE LINES.


While Patsy was meeting with his experiences, Chick had been making
inquiries as to the five promoters, each of whom had been endeavoring to
obtain possession of the drawings and models of the deceased inventor.

Inquiry, skillfully conducted, had satisfied Chick that at least four of
them had gone no further than to make offers to the widow for possession
of the drawings.

In these offers, there may have been no regards for the rights of Mr.
Herron, and, if the widow had accepted one of them, they would have
taken an unfair advantage of that gentleman. But, as to going any
further and taking a step into crime for the purpose of securing them,
Chick was well satisfied they had or would do nothing of the kind.

They were men of standing and reputation.

He did find out that these four had banded together in a new offer to
the widow if she could obtain possession of the drawings and models
again to deliver to them, and that this offer was made peculiarly
advantageous to her in order to induce her to stronger efforts to regain
them from Mr. Herron.

As to the fifth, whose name was Mortimer Seaman, Chick was by no means
so well satisfied.

He found by inquiry that Seaman was regarded by those who knew him best
as a keen, sharp, unscrupulous man, who was reckless in his methods and
who, more than once in his career, had trod so near the line dividing
honesty from dishonesty that he had barely escaped punishment.

He was charged, in more than one instance, of having robbed inventors of
the fruits of their labors and discoveries, and had, in one case, openly
boasted of the shrewdness with which he had secured certain patent
rights without paying for the same.

Indeed, a cloud of scandal and doubt and suspicion seemed to surround
the man, and Chick also learned that his credit at the banks and other
financial institutions was by no means of the best.

Pursuing his inquiries into his private life, he found that Seaman had
two sides therein. One, that he was interested in athletic sports, and
the other, a rather rapid side, since he was much given to gambling.

In short, in the daytime he was a projector of commercial schemes and a
promoter of stock companies, while at night he was a man about town
familiarly known in the Tenderloin.

“If any one undertook such desperate means to secure those papers as
hiring burglars,” said Chick, to himself, “Mortimer Seaman is the man.”

He went to Nick Carter to report his inquiries to his chief.

“Chick,” said Nick, “what you have discovered fits in very well with
some things I have learned to-day, and together the two discoveries make
a pretty strong showing.

“Before calling on Samuel Elwell, who is the lawyer who acted for the
inventor and is now acting for the widow, I made some pretty close
inquiries as to his standing. In those inquiries I have learned that,
since the death of the inventor, Elwell and Seaman have been seen
together very frequently, but almost wholly in the evenings and uptown.
I cannot learn that Seaman ever called at Elwell’s office.

“The fact that they met at night would in itself be of no sort of
consequence, perhaps; but when I called on Elwell he denied ever having
seen Seaman, saying that he was unacquainted with the person. This looks
bad on the face of it, and, at all events, shows that Elwell is an
unreliable person.

“Elwell is the man who drew up the articles of agreement between the
inventor and Mr. Herron, which had not been signed at the time of the
death of the inventor. He, therefore, well knew what the intention of
the inventor was, and what value the inventor had received from Mr.
Herron. Yet it is he who advised the widow to accept the offer Seaman
made and who had been trying in her name to recover the drawing and
models from Mr. Herron.”

“And your conclusion is--what?” asked Chick.

“My conclusion is,” replied Nick, “that Elwell is not acting sincerely
for the widow, is advising her badly with the intention of profiting in
the enterprise himself.

“Mr. Herron’s lawyer tells me that Elwell had abandoned his suit against
Herron for the recovery, since he found he had no standing in court;
and, when Mr. Herron’s lawyer refused to make such concession as would
enable the case to be tried, Elwell lost his temper, declaring that if
they were not permitted to proceed on legal lines they were not to be
blamed if they took to illegal ones. In short, Chick, Mr. Seaman and Mr.
Elwell are both men to be watched.”

They had arrived at this stage of the consultation, when Patsy came in,
in great haste.

“I have got to get back again as quick as I can!” he exclaimed, “so let
me spiel first.”

Consent having been given him, Patsy told his story--a story that
elicited the heartiest praise and laughter from Nick and Chick.

That which struck Chick as the most humorous was that Patsy, after
having assumed the disguise of an east side crook, and as he was
hastening away with a view of getting rid of it, should run against the
original himself.

When the story was ended, Nick said:

“If I had been at your elbow, Patsy, to have you do exactly what I
wanted you to do, you could not have done better than you have done. It
was a bright idea of yours, having found out pretty closely who the men
were who did the job, to make them hold on to the case, and not deliver
it.

“From what Chick and I have learned to-day, added to your very important
discoveries, I think we can set out on the line, and not be very far
wrong, that Seaman employed Lannigan and his companions to go into that
house for that case.

“That’s the line that we have got to work on now. If we can connect
Seaman and Lannigan, I think our theory will straighten out into fact.”

“I wish,” said Chick, “I had known all that we now know before I left
the neighborhood of Seaman’s office.”

“Why so?” asked Nick.

“Because,” replied Chick, “I fear that that trip of Lannigan and his
companion across the river, that Patsy tells of, was to meet Seaman and,
perhaps, to deliver to him there that case.”

“I don’t think so,” said Patsy, positively.

“And why not, youngster?” asked Chick.

“Because the biggest ‘fence’ there is around here is on that side of the
river, in Long Island City. I don’t know how long it has been there, but
a crook told me about it a week ago, and, when I heard Lannigan and the
other fellow say they were going over to the other side of the river, I
dropped that they were going to make arrangements for taking the stuff
they took out of that house in Thirty-fifth Street over there.”

“I think Patsy is right,” said Nick. “I hardly think that they would
cross the water to meet Seaman. But I do fear that that case has already
been delivered to Seaman--was delivered before day broke.”

Chick looked up quickly at Nick, and said:

“Then it is your plan to make the fight on the Seaman line.”

“Yes,” said Nick; “after the developments of to-day I am satisfied that
if we recover that case, it will be from Seaman. However, we are hardly
in deep enough to be positive about anything. I have great hopes from
what Patsy may learn this afternoon. And, Chick, I think the thing for
you to do now is to put yourself on Seaman’s trail and follow him up to
see where he leads you.”

“If that is so,” replied Chick, “I had better get to him as soon as I
can.”

“And I must get back to my assistants,” laughed Patsy.

Without further delay, both Chick and Patsy left the room and hurried
off in their different directions.

The two young detectives were hardly out of sight when Ida made her
appearance to report the results of her labor during the day.

As she entered, Nick said:

“I hardly expected to see you to-day, Ida. But your coming now would
indicate that you have something to say.”

“I have,” replied Ida. “I have seen and had a talk with the widow, Mrs.
Pemberton.”

“So soon?” said Nick, highly pleased. “That is very quick work, Ida.”

Ida laughed, and replied:

“I had unusual good luck. Finding out where Mrs. Pemberton lived, I saw
at once that her next door neighbor was a friend of mine. Going there,
to that friend, I found out that the two--my friend and Mrs.
Pemberton--were quite intimate friends. At all events, very
neighborly--frequently exchanging calls. That is how I came to meet her
so quickly. While I was in the rooms of my friend, Mrs. Pemberton ran
in, and it was not a difficult matter to get Mrs. Pemberton to talk of
that which is nearest to her heart.”

“That was, indeed, unusual luck,” said Nick.

“Nick Carter’s luck,” said Ida, with a laugh.

“No,” replied Nick; “if it was anybody’s luck, it was your luck; but I
don’t think luck has anything to do with it, after all. It is hard work
and quick seizure of opportunities when they present themselves. And
your luck was in seizing quickly the opportunity you saw. But what did
you learn?”

“The chief thing that I learned,” said Ida, “is that Mrs. Pemberton is
beginning to believe that she has been badly advised and that she
believes that it would have been better for her had she followed the
intentions of her husband and stuck to Mr. Herron. She is poor and
without money.”

“But she has the ten thousand dollars that Mr. Herron gave her for the
drawings and models.”

“No, she has not,” replied Ida; “that was returned to Mr. Herron when
she decided to accept the offer of the other people and demanded the
return of the models and drawings?”

“But it was not returned,” replied Nick.

“She said to-day that it was,” replied Ida.

“She gave the check to Mr. Elwell, her lawyer, who says that he returned
it to Mr. Herron.”

Nick started to his feet, crying:

“The infernal rascals! They mean to rob her of everything. If they have
got those drawings and models through the robbery of last night, she
will not get a single penny.”

The detective began to pace up and down the room hurriedly. Suddenly he
stopped and asked:

“Did she mention a man of the name of Seaman in her talk?”

“Yes; he is the man who made the offer that induced her to go back from
the arrangements with Mr. Herron.”

“Was Mr. Elwell with him at the time?”

“Yes; she mentioned him as being present at the time they concluded the
arrangements with Mr. Seaman. Mrs. Pemberton said that Mr. Elwell wrote
a paper in her rooms at the time, binding her to let Seaman have the
drawings and models, and Seaman to the payment of certain sums of money
at certain periods, which they both signed.”

“They are a pack of rascals!” again exclaimed Nick. “Elwell knew that
Mrs. Pemberton was in honor bound to let those drawings and models go to
Mr. Herron, and that, in accepting the check of ten thousand dollars,
she was legally bound. But he has stolen that check and left her without
a cent. I must prevent him from realizing on that check if it is not too
late. Follow up your acquaintance with Mrs. Pemberton, Ida.”

Nick hurried to the office of Mr. Herron and learned from him that up to
twelve o’clock that day, the check for ten thousand which he had given
to Mrs. Pemberton had neither been received nor tendered to him, and
that it had not been presented for payment.

Under Nick’s advice, he hurried to the bank to stop its payment unless
it was presented by the one in whose favor it was drawn.



CHAPTER VI.

A STRANGE MEETING.


When Patsy returned to the place he had appointed to meet Bally Morris
he was surprised to find that person waiting for him with Spike Thomas.

So warm was their greeting of him that Patsy began to think that they
regarded him as one of their pals.

As the proper way to open up the business of such importance, Spike
asked Patsy to join him in a drink, and when they were ranged at the
bar, Spike said:

“I say, Patsy, was youse on the dead level or was youse givin’ Bally a
stiff about dat case?”

“No,” said Patsy, soberly, “I was on the dead level about it. Say, I’m
givin’ it to you straight when I’m tellin’ you me boss is only in the
case for to get that leather case with the papers in it. He’s got to git
it some way, and he’s sizin’ it up that it’s got to be got by comin’
down wid de dust.”

“Dat’s straight talk,” said Spike.

“Of course it’s straight,” said Patsy. “It’s one of the cases where you
play your cards wid the faces up. Somebody swiped the papers. The man
from whom the papers was swiped wants ’em bad and they’re wuth more to
him than to anybody else. To get ’em back he’d forget in a minute that
his crib was cracked. Now that’s all there is in it.”

“Does youse know for sure dat de leather case was swiped?” asked Spike,
earnestly.

“Sure.”

“Does youse know who did the swiping?” asked Spike.

“No; I don’t know anything about it,” said Patsy. “But you do.”

“I think I do, but I don’t know for sure.”

“Oh, come off,” said Patsy. “You know that Lannigan and another fellow
did the job.”

“Dat’s just what I think,” said Spike, earnestly. “I’m dead certain of
it, but not knowin’ it for sure. Dey won’t say so.”

“Say,” asked Patsy, “didn’t they come back as they agreed to from the
other side of the river?”

“Yep, dey come back all right, all right, but dey wouldn’t talk.”

“What did they go across the river for?”

“I’m blessed if I know.”

“Then I’ll tell you what for,” said Patsy. “They went across there to
stow the sparklers and the tin. The fence, you know.”

Spike started up with great interest.

“Oh, come now,” said Patsy, “you don’t want me to t’ink, Spike, that
you’re so far behind that you don’t know that the safest fence around
here is across de river.”

“Oh, I heard so,” said Spike, humbly. “But, honest, Patsy, I ain’t never
been dere, for there ain’t been nothin’ doin’ wid me so long dat I’m
parched back to the roots of me tongue.”

“Well,” said Patsy, “that’s what they went across the river for. But I
ain’t got nothin’ to do about that. My peepers are on that leather
case.”

“Well, anyhow,” said Spike, “when dey come back dey wouldn’t talk any
more than before dey went.”

“You mean,” said Patsy, “that they wouldn’t say whether they were in
that job in Thirty-fifth Street or not.”

“Dat’s what I mean,” said Spike.

“But, say,” said Bally Morris, speaking for the first time, “Spike put
it at ’em anyhow.”

“Put what at them?” asked Patsy.

“Oh, I put up de story as to dat case and wot there was into it if dey
held on,” said Spike.

“How did they take it?” asked Patsy.

“Dat’s just it,” said Spike. “Dey took it all in and dey swallowed it
for gospel truth. Den de two culls looked at each other and I seed dey
meant to freeze on it, but was goin’ to freeze me out. Say, Patsy, it
was a clean trow down. Dey’s goin’ to play dere own hands on de tip I
give dem and freeze us out.”

“Are you goin’ to let ’em?” asked Patsy.

“Not on yer solid nut,” said Spike. “You stand by and see what de next
shuffle of de cards turns up for trumps.”

Spike and Bally Morris winked at each other and laughed.

“We ought to take Patsy in,” said Bally Morris.

“No, no,” said Spike. “Patsy don’t want to be in on dis game. He don’t
want to know nothin’ about it, but all de same we’re on de dead level
with him. You don’t want to be in dis shuffle, Patsy, but you’ll be in
all de same on de scoring.”

Patsy understood by this that something was going forward that, in the
opinion of the two, it was best for him to know nothing about until it
was all over, but that it was in the line of his wishes.

Spike drew himself up, and, with a wink and a leer, said:

“I’m a little of a fly-cop meself and we ain’t doin’ so bad after all;
are we, Bally?”

“Not on your life,” said Bally.

The two toughs laughed heartily, and Spike added:

“I give Lannigan de glad hand and put him on to de boys when he landed
here. But he’s trowed me down. Maybe he’ll want to know who trowed him
up.”

To this Patsy made no remark.

He was anxious to get away in order that he might follow the two toughs,
for he knew that they had entered into some sort of a scheme in
connection with this matter.

“Well, Spike,” he said, “if you don’t want to let me in to what you’re
up to, all right. I’ve been on the dead level wid you and, anyhow, you
ought to be with me.”

The tough made the strongest protest in his own language that he had no
idea of going back on Patsy, and the young detective slipped away.

He did not go far, however, but, concealing himself in a place where he
could not be observed, watched to see the two toughs come from the
drinking place where he had left them.

They came out in a short time and went in the direction of Thirty-fourth
Street, turning to the east.

Patsy slipped after them and cautiously followed down the block in
Thirty-fourth Street to see them meet, on the next corner, a young lad
of their own kind, not more than sixteen or seventeen, who told
something to Spike which gratified him to such an extent that he grasped
Bally Morris’ hand and shook it hard as he capered a clumsy dance on the
sidewalk.

The two then turned on their heels, walking in the direction whence they
had come.

Patsy was put at some difficulty to get out of sight in time, and only
did so by hiding behind a signboard leaning against a grocery store.

The two passed on to Third Avenue, Patsy in fairly close pursuit.

Reaching Third Avenue, Bally Morris made an inspection of the drinking
saloon on the corner and soon came out shaking his head at Spike.

The two then walked up Third Avenue rather leisurely, followed by Patsy,
until Forty-second Street was reached. Here again Bally Morris went into
the liquor saloons on the corner and came back to report to Spike
standing on the upper corner.

The place was not an easy one for Patsy to keep the two in sight.

For a time the two manifested no disposition to leave that corner and,
while Patsy was wondering what their purpose was, he caught sight of
Chick coming down Forty-second Street rather stealthily. Patsy looked
around to see whom he was following, and finally hit upon a low-sized,
broad-shouldered man, dressed in the extreme of fashion, who was walking
down the street in a vigorous and self-satisfied way.

Patsy at once put himself in a position where he could signal Chick that
he was nearby.

Chick caught the signal and immediately returned one which meant that
Patsy should come to him if he could.

As the man Chick was following reached the corner of Forty-second Street
and Third Avenue--that is to say, the northeast corner--he stopped and
looked about in every direction.

Apparently he did not see the person he was looking for, because he
settled himself for a wait. This gave Chick an opportunity to cross the
street to where Patsy stood.

As he came up he asked:

“Shadowing?”

“Yes,” replied Patsy.

“Who?”

Patsy grinned and replied:

“My two assistants.”

“What are they doing?”

“I don’t know, but they are up to some game that I can’t see through.
Who is your man?”

“Seaman.”

“The deuce!” replied Patsy. “What is he here for?”

“I don’t know,” replied Chick, “but I followed him here from Broad
Street.”

“He is waiting for somebody?” asked Patsy.

“It looks that way,” said Chick, “and I think it’s Lannigan.”

At this moment Patsy caught the arm of Chick, and giving it a hard grip,
nodded his head up the street.

Chick turned to see Nick Carter coming down on the same side of the
street on which he had followed Seaman.

“He’s on the shadow,” said Patsy.

“Yes; but who?”

“I ain’t sure,” said Patsy, “but I’ll bet that it’s that man with the
black frock coat, black hat and full beard.”

Chick and Patsy both separated in order that they might give the signal
to Nick that they were in the neighborhood.

But each kept their eyes upon those they were following.

Spike Thomas and Bally Morris were still standing on the corner they had
selected, and Seaman was on the corner opposite them.

As Nick neared the corner he made a rapid signal which showed that he
had received theirs, but made no effort to join them.

In the meantime the man Chick and Patsy had selected as the one followed
by Nick went on to the corner, where he went to Seaman, touching him on
the shoulder and shaking hands with him.

“I’ll bet,” said Chick, “that the man is the lawyer, Elwell.”

“How do you know?” asked Patsy.

“I don’t know,” said Chick, “I am only guessing.”

In the meantime, Nick Carter had concealed himself at a point from which
he could watch the man he had followed.

Seeing that he was in conversation with some one on the corner, he
called Chick and Patsy to him.

“Elwell?” asked Chick, as he came up.

“Yes,” said Nick. “Do you know who he is talking with?”

“Yes,” said Chick. “It is my man Seaman.”

“Seaman?” repeated Nick. “That is strange. They have met here by
arrangement.”

“To meet some one else,” said Chick.

“And why are you here, Patsy?” asked Nick.

“I followed my two assistants here,” said Patsy, “from the foot of
Thirty-fourth Street.”

“It is very strange that following men from different parts of the city
we should all meet here,” said Nick. “But we must separate. It won’t do
for us to bunch together here. But keep in touch with each other, boys.”

Chick slipped across the street, closely followed by Patsy, but on the
other side Chick took up a station near the elevated railroad pillar,
while Patsy, going further, crossed Third Avenue and took a station
there, where he could more easily watch the two who were his especial
charge.

He had been there but a moment or two when he saw signs of excitement in
Spike Thomas and Bally Morris.

They evidently were trying to conceal themselves from the view of some
one on the opposite side of the avenue.

Patsy made an effort to see if he could determine who or what was the
cause of this excitement, and saw Lannigan coming down the avenue with
the same man he had seen in the saloon in Thirty-fourth Street.

It struck him at once that Chick and Nick did not know Lannigan, and so
he slipped across the avenue again, using a passing street car for a
cover, and reaching Chick, said to him:

“Lannigan and his pal are coming down the street.”

At this moment, Lannigan came into view and immediately went up to
Elwell and spoke to him.

“That’s him,” said Patsy, “speaking to Elwell. Let the chief know who it
is.”

He stepped back to look at his own men and saw that they were hastening
up Third Avenue at a rapid gait.

Without waiting further, he darted after the two, well satisfied that
the one they had concealed themselves from, and from whom they were now
running, was Lannigan.

In the meantime, the four men on the corner had exchanged a few words,
and then Lannigan and his companion turning, followed by Seaman and
Elwell, led the way into the saloon on the corner near them.

Chick crossed Forty-second Street to Nick, saying:

“The two who met our men were Lannigan and his pal.”

“Does Seaman know you?” asked Nick.

“I do not think so,” replied Chick.

“Then slip into that saloon and see if you can get near enough to hear
what their talk is about.”

Chick walked away hurriedly and entered the saloon.

Nick took up a position on the street, where he could watch both
entrances, and waited for developments.



CHAPTER VII.

TAKING CHANCES.


In the meeting of Seaman, Elwell and the one Patsy said was Lannigan,
Nick saw strong confirmation of the theory that he had been inclined
from the first to believe.

That was that one at least of the promoters who, on the inventor’s
death, had tried and failed to get hold of the drawings and models
through the widow, was now engaged upon the desperate enterprise of
hiring a burglar to enter the house of Mr. Herron and steal them.

As a result of Chick’s investigation, it appeared that Seaman was the
only man likely to engage in such an enterprise, although nothing had
been discovered that in the slightest degree connected him with that
burglary.

His own investigation as to Elwell, the lawyer, had led him to suppose
that the lawyer had seized in the death of Pemberton, the inventor, and
the ignorance of the widow as to business matters, an opportunity to
increase his own financial gains by a control of the model and drawings.

But all of this was simply the result of shrewd suspicion, in which
there had been nothing pointing to who had entered the house, nor
anything even hinting at a conspiracy between the lawyer and the
promoter on the one side and the burglars on the other.

Patsy’s experiences of the day, however, had supplied, if not knowledge,
at least suspicion as to who that burglar was.

Now, the meeting of the three in a part of the city so remote from the
haunts of at least two, indicated that they were on the right track.
And what had been mere suspicion was rapidly getting into the shape of
fact.

Lannigan was a new hand in New York. That he had even come to the city
had been unknown to Nick. He had never seen him nor come in contact with
him, but he had heard of him as a most skillful thief whose line of work
was principally that of opening safes, as some of the Philadelphians
knew to their cost, for it was in that city he was suspected of making
his headquarters.

Nick had heard that he had learned the trade of safe-lock making and had
become an expert in opening safes where the combination had been lost.
That the expertness he had reached in this had been his undoing, as he
had been persuaded into doing this work for burglars who had opened the
way for him to enter banks and other places where money was stored.

Nick had sent Chick into the saloon for the reason that he feared he
would be recognized by Elwell, on whom he had called earlier in the day.

He had supposed that they had entered this saloon only for the purpose
of taking a drink, and would soon come out again, for he believed that
the meeting was for the purpose of receiving from Lannigan the drawings
and models.

But as the time was prolonged, he began to believe that matters were
taking a shape quite different from what he had supposed.

Finally, by the aid of a wig and a false mustache and a change of hat,
he made a sufficient change in his appearance to prevent Elwell from
recognizing him, and then he entered the saloon himself.

There were a number of persons standing about and ranged along the bar,
but in a hasty glance around he could see none of the three under
suspicion, nor was Chick at once visible.

At the rear of the saloon there was a partition about man high that
formed of the corner a small private room.

The door of this room was open, and as Nick pushed his way cautiously
toward the rear, he could see that the three men were seated about a
small table in the center of that room.

A glance at them was sufficient to see that matters were by no means
moving along smoothly between them.

Lannigan and his companion seemed to be opposed to Elwell and Seaman,
the first of whom was apparently pleading with the other two.

Looking around quickly for Chick, Nick saw in the angle made by this
partition and the side wall, and not far from the door of the small
room, a man intently engaged in reading a newspaper held in such a
manner as to utterly conceal his face and body.

Nick surmised that the person behind this paper was Chick, and that he
had gotten as close to the party within the room as he could without
discovery.

Going back to the front of the saloon, Nick gave a whistle, which was
one of the signals between himself and his assistants, and, watching the
paper held by the man in the corner, saw a peculiar flirt of it, which
assured him that he was right in supposing Chick was behind him.

From the fact that Chick did not change position, he was also satisfied
that Chick was on the track of something which he regarded too important
to leave.

And so, working himself down by degrees to the rear of the room, he
began an examination to see if it were possible for him to get close to
this room at a point where he also could hear what was going forward
within it.

He observed that at the end of the bar was a large ice box in which the
larger beer kegs were put, and that at the back of that was a small
room where was the washstand. Between this ice box and the small room
and the one in which the four were seated, was a small passageway which
led to a door, which, in Nick’s judgment, opened into a hallway from
which the upper part of the building was gained.

Nick immediately left the saloon by the front door, and, walking along
Forty-second Street, found a rear door at the end of the building,
which, on trying, he found opened into the hallway he had supposed was
there.

On his right, a few feet further on, was a door, and on trying this he
found it to be the one he had seen from the barroom.

Cautiously passing this, he turned quickly into the small room where was
the washstand. In the corner of this room was a chair, which he mounted
and saw that he could climb to the top of the ice chest where, lying at
full length, he would be well concealed.

It was but the work of a moment to place himself in that position.

When there he found that he could hear quite well, though the people
within the room were talking in a low voice.

Finally Lannigan spoke in a tone made louder by his irritation. And his
words fell quite distinctly on Nick’s ears.

“What’s the use of going over that again,” said Lannigan. “You didn’t
give it to me straight in the beginning. You gave me a stiff that the
papers wasn’t of much value, of no value to the man that had them, but
only to you, and that the best they would do if they were in your hands
would be to save you time.”

“Well, that is true,” said Seaman. “We were bound to get them by law,
but it would take a year or more to do so.”

“Stop it,” said Lannigan. “There’s no use of lying any more about it.
You played me for a chump. You never came to me on the job until you
found out there was no way in law by which you could get them. If there
had been you wouldn’t have come to me at all.”

“You have been misinformed,” said Elwell.

“No, I haven’t,” said Lannigan. “I’ve got it all straight. And you lied
to me about the money there was into the papers. There’s been a big race
for these papers, and there’s more than one that’ll bid high to get
them. I am on to it straight when I say that the man from whom they was
took would put up fifty thou. to have them back.”

“Oh, you’re wild,” said Seaman.

“Wild nawthin’,” said Lannigan, angrily. “Yer tried to give me a gold
brick, and if it hadn’t been for what I found out this morning you
would. No thousand casenote is goin’ to get that thing from me.”

“A thousand dollars for an hour’s work at your own trade, with six or
eight thousand dollars of stuff besides that you took out, isn’t much of
a gold brick,” said Seaman.

“It’s the chances I took,” said Lannigan, “that puts the price on.”

“You got away with the chances all right,” said Seaman.

“No,” said Lannigan, so sharply that his voice rang. “Nick Carter is on
the hunt at this minute. Do you know what that means?”

“I suppose it means,” said Seaman, carelessly, “that he’s trying to find
out who went into that house during the night.”

“I’ll tell you what it means,” said Lannigan. “It means that the
smartest man on earth is right at my heels, and that I’ll be lucky if I
get out of town without being nabbed.”

“But----”

“It means that to get for you what will make you big rich, I may have to
do time in the cage. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m not
goin’ to do that for any little thousand casenote, now that I know how
much those papers are worth to you and others.”

“Lannigan,” said Elwell, “there’s a side to this that you don’t seem to
look at. You are striking so high that the people I represent, and
Seaman here, can’t reach it. Now, we will admit for the sake of argument
that there are others that will pay well for those drawings, perhaps
more than we will pay. But if you go back on the bargain that you
entered into, there is no reason why, if we lose the papers, that we
should keep our mouths shut about the thefts of those jewels and silver
plate. The taking of them was all outside of our bargain.”

“You mean,” said Lannigan, “that you would peach on me?”

“If you go back on your word and your bargain, there is no reason why we
should have any friendship for you. This game isn’t all your own.”

There was a moment’s pause in the conversation, and then Lannigan said,
in a most threatening tone:

“There are sharp knives and straight-shooting revolvers, and all the
undertakers are not dead.”

“So,” replied Elwell, “you are threatening to add murder to your list.”

“No,” replied Lannigan; “I am only telling you that you can’t fool me.
That’s all.”

There was a movement and sound as if somebody had thrust back a chair
and risen to his feet.

“But what’s the use of talking?” said Lannigan. “You got my say. If you
want them papers what’s into that leather case you can get them for
fifty thou. I’ll give you until to-morrow, this hour, to think it over,
and if you don’t come down I’ll make the best deal I can with the man I
took them from, and I know how to do it.”

There was the sound of a step or two and Seaman’s voice was heard.

“Wait a moment, Lannigan,” it said, “I want just a word.”

There was silence some four or five minutes, when Seaman was heard
again:

“Lannigan,” he said, “we’ll make you a new offer. We haven’t got the
money you demand. It’s a big sum. But I stand ready to make this deal
with you now, if you’ll take it. If you will deliver those drawings and
the model to me this afternoon, I’ll give you five thousand dollars in
cash and my promise in writing, well indorsed, to give you fifty
thousand dollars when this thing is sold to the company that stands
ready to buy and manufacture.”

There was no reply to this for a moment or two, and Seaman added:

“It’s the best I can do, and in giving you five thousand I give you
every cent I have. I can’t make the sale, which is all ready to make for
big money, unless I’ve got these things in my hands. And that’s all
there is about it. If you don’t take this offer we’ve got to throw up
our hands and we won’t owe you a cent.”

There was silence following this, which lasted a long time, and it
seemed to Nick that Lannigan and his companion must have been consulting
over this last offer.

Finally there was a step or two heard and then Lannigan’s voice, saying:

“Is that five thou. to be laid down to-day?”

“On the delivery of that leather case with all that’s in it.”

“How soon can you do it?” asked Lannigan.

“As soon as you can deliver the goods.”

“That’s now.”

“And I have the funds with me now.”

“Well, then, if you close up the first part of the bargain right away,
we’ll do it.”

Everybody apparently rose from their feet, and amid the scuffle and
movement was heard Seaman’s voice:

“Let’s get about it at once.”

“Come with me, then,” said Lannigan.

“Where to?” asked Elwell.

“You will know when you get there,” replied Lannigan, gruffly.

Nick slipped off the ice box and regained the floor of the little
washroom quickly.

Slipping out of the door and through the hall he was on the corner of
Forty-second Street and Third Avenue before the precious quartet came
from the saloon, for they had stopped to take a drink to bind their
bargain.

Leaving the saloon, they turned to the left, going up Third Avenue to
the north.

Close behind them came Chick.

Nick and Chick exchanged signals and, at Nick’s suggestion, made by a
wave of the hand, Chick rapidly crossed to the other side of the avenue,
while Nick followed up after the four on the same side they were
traveling.

The way of the four was up half a dozen blocks, where they turned into a
cross street going to the right, or in the direction of the East River.

Two or three blocks were passed and they came to the end of a block
where, on the corner, was a three-story brick building which did not
occupy the whole of the lot on which it was built. Between the end of
the house and the adjoining one was a yard of some ten feet in width,
which was separated from the street by a high, board fence.

In this fence was a gate, and Lannigan led the way through the gate,
standing by to close it after the last one had passed through.

Standing on the other side of the street, Nick saw that there was a
closed staircase built on the outside of the house in the rear, by which
each floor above the liquor saloon, which occupied the first floor, was
reached.

Chick came up and Nick said to him:

“They have gone into that house and by those stairs from the outside.”

“Do we raid them?” asked Chick.

“Yes,” said Nick, sharply; then he added: “But I wish Patsy were here.”

“First,” said Chick, “we ought to look to see what other outlets there
are to the house.”

“Go into the barroom,” said Nick, “and see if you can find inside
stairways. I’ll take a look about the outside.”

The two started for the purpose.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE YOUNG GALLANT.


As the four men under the watch of Nick and Chick had entered the saloon
as described in the last chapter, Patsy was hurrying up Third Avenue
after the two crooks, Thomas and Bally Morris.

What their purpose or intentions were Patsy had no idea. But as he
believed that whatever errand they were on was the result of what he had
told them, he suspected that in some way it was connected with the
burglary in Thirty-fifth Street. In what way, however, he could not even
guess.

When they had left Thirty-fourth Street, after receiving word from the
young fellow which had so excited Spike, and had turned to go up to
Forty-second Street, Patsy had supposed that they were searching for
Lannigan and his companion.

But when to that corner came Lannigan and he saw how anxious they were
to escape the observation of that swell cracksman, and how, as quickly
as they could, they got away from the neighborhood, he was confused and
could do no more than follow them to see what they were about.

The route they took was not very different from that later followed by
Lannigan, Seaman, Elwell and the unknown.

However, they did not go up Third Avenue as far as the four, but turned
to the east a block short, going down to Avenue A, where they turned to
the left and entered a house midway in the block.

“Now,” said Patsy to himself, “what are they going to do here?”

On the first floor, on the street, was a small store devoted to the sale
of butter, cheese and eggs. Beside this store was a door which entered
into a hallway, and it was through this door that Spike Thomas and Bally
Morris passed.

“They’re going upstairs,” said Patsy to himself. “Anyhow, I’ll sneak
after them.”

Waiting only long enough for them to climb the first flight of stairs,
Patsy dashed into the hall and cautiously followed up the stairs.

As he went up this flight he could hear them mounting the second flight
and he said to himself:

“They’re going to the upper floor.”

Reaching the second floor he followed the banisters to the foot of the
second flight, and there stopped to listen.

He could hear them rap at a door on the floor above him and, in a moment
or two, the door was opened and the voice of a woman, in strong English
accents, was heard:

“Oh, Harry, is it you? It’s a long time since I saw you. Who is this
with you?”

“It’s me friend, Mr. Morris, Aunt Emma. It isn’t often I get so far
uptown, but, being up here, I thought I’d drop in on yer. I s’pose Uncle
Joe is gone to work.”

“Yes,” replied the voice of the woman, “but come in.”

The next moment the noise of the closing of the door was heard and Patsy
said to himself:

“Hang it. I don’t believe it’s anything, after all.”

He stood a moment or two hardly knowing what to do. Then he said:

“I don’t think there’s any use going up there. I had better go down and
watch for them to come out.”

He went as far as the head of the stairs with this intention when he
stopped, saying almost aloud:

“But what was it that tickled Spike so down in Thirty-fourth Street. He
didn’t shake hands with himself because he knew his aunt was at home
this morning.”

He stood still a moment thinking and again spoke aloud:

“But, mebbe it was Lannigan coming to Forty-second Street that threw
them off.”

He made another motion as if to go down the stairs, but halted.

He was debating what to do. But the matter was settled for him at this
instant.

The door on the second floor opposite where he stood was suddenly opened
and a rather flashily dressed young girl of nineteen or twenty appeared.
Casting a glance at Patsy, she gave a cry and, jumping backward, closed
the door instantly.

Before Patsy could recover from his surprise the door was swung open and
a tough-looking young man came into the hall, demanding in rough tones
to know what he was doing there.

“I guess I’ve lost my way,” said Patsy.

“Well, you want to find it right away,” said the young fellow.

Patsy wanted no row at this time, for he did not want Spike Thomas and
Bally Morris to know that he had followed them.

So by the showing of good humor he tried to get out of his difficulty as
easily as possible.

“Then I’ll make my way down the stairs,” he said, laughingly.

At that moment the door opened again and the young girl appeared for a
second time. As she did so she said to the young fellow:

“He’s Patsy Murphy. Nick Carter’s kid.”

“What are you doing here, then?” asked the young fellow of Patsy.

“Nothing you need get hot over,” said Patsy.

“You ain’t goin’ to get off so easy as all that,” said the young fellow.
“You can’t take anybody out of this house, not while I’m here.”

“I don’t want to take anybody out,” said Patsy.

“Then what are yer here for?”

Patsy looked at the girl and made a bluff.

“Well,” he said, laughing, “a feller can foller a pretty girl even if he
is one of Nick Carter’s squad.”

If Patsy squared himself with this left-handed compliment with the girl
he certainly did not with the young fellow.

“Say, dis goil is me sister,” he said, “an’ dere ain’t no chump goin’ to
follow her up here. I’ll trow you downstairs.”

“Look out,” said the girl, “Patsy Murphy ain’t no easy thing.”

While this was going on, Patsy was trying hard to figure out how it was
that he was known to this girl, whom he did not recollect ever having
seen before.

Though the young man was threatening in his manner, he had as yet made
no move to attack Patsy.

On his part, though, he was quite anxious to leave the house before any
outbreak could occur, yet he saw that such was the position of the young
man that if he were to attempt to go downstairs, he could be easily
attacked from above and behind.

“Oh, say,” he said, assuming the east-side dialect, “what you chewin’
about? All dere is of it is I saw dis goil on de street, got mashed, and
was tryin’ to get de glad hand from her. Well, I’m up against it, dat’s
all dere is of it.”

“No, it ain’t,” said the young fellow. “You’re up here after somethin’
else.”

“Honest,” said Patsy.

“Don’t lie.”

Patsy turned on the young fellow shortly and said:

“I’ve given it to you straight. Now don’t come back to me wid dat or
I’ll wipe that ugly mug of yours off your face.”

The young fellow staggered back a step and Patsy went on:

“I don’t believe dis goil is any sister of yours. She’s too pretty and
you’re too ugly.”

Patsy was playing to get into such a position that he might slip down
the stairs without further trouble, all the more as he saw that he had
made a point with the girl. But the unexpected happened. The young
fellow made a queer sort of a call, which was immediately responded to
from several rooms on that floor and, in a moment, two men and three
women were in the hall, immediately roused by the young fellow’s
declaration that they must smash one of Nick Carter’s kids.

One man, without waiting further, made a rush at Patsy who, in
self-defense, was compelled to strike out, which he did with such
accuracy that the fellow was knocked backward against one of the women
and together they fell to the floor.

The woman thus thrown down began to scream at the top of her voice, in
which she was joined by the others, while the two men left, both closed
up in an endeavor to rush Patsy at the head of the stairs.

The very thing that Patsy had hoped to escape had occurred. He wanted to
get out of the house without it being known to Spike Thomas and Bally
Morris that he had followed them in.

He now believed that all this noise on the second floor must attract
the attention of those on the third floor and that all that he had hoped
to gain had been lost.

He thought this rapidly, and also that there was no use of further
trying to quiet the people and that he must defend himself.

So he squared himself to meet the rush of the two young men but, as they
began it, the girl, who had first given the alarm that he was Patsy
Murphy, threw herself in front of him in an effort to stop the rush of
the fellow who said he was her brother, and his companion.

Patsy instantly saw that she was likely to be hurt, and catching her
with his right arm about her waist, he quickly put her to one side and,
springing forward, struck out with both fists, hitting the brother
squarely in the face with his right fist and warding off a blow from the
other with his left.

The brother fell to the ground. The other one made a second dash at
Patsy.

In the meantime the two women who had come at the call attempted to take
a hand, but were opposed by the young girl.

Patsy did not wait for the second attack, but went at the second man
hammer and tongs, and soon beat him back to the wall.

Evidently the brother had gotten all that he desired in his first
knockdown, for he made no effort to get up from the floor.

The girl swung herself in front of Patsy and said, in a low voice:

“Now’s your chance; git down the stairs.”

Patsy turned and went down the stairs not hurriedly, but watchfully.

He was trying to see if Spike Thomas and Bally Morris had been attracted
by the rumpus.

He could see nothing of them, but he could not believe that they had
not heard the noise and had not seen him.

However, he reached the street without further interference, and,
placing himself in a position where he could watch the door without
being seen himself, waited to see the two crooks come from the house.

He had waited for some time, when the girl who had first given the alarm
as to himself, and then seemed to act as his friend, came to the door
and stood looking about as if for some one.

Patsy laughed to himself as he said:

“Hang me if I don’t think she’s looking for me. I must have jollied her
for fair.”

After waiting a few minutes the girl went up the street slowly a few
doors, when she stopped and again looked around.

Patsy stepped out of his concealment, and going toward the girl saw her
brighten up and nod at him.

“I guess you got me out of a bad scrape,” he said, as he came up to her.

“Oh,” she replied, with a smile, “it wasn’t so bad. They’re only chumps
there. You was too much for them. Say, what was you in there for,
anyway?”

“To see you,” said Patsy.

“Ah, go on!” cried the girl, with a laugh. “That was only a guy of
yours. I saw that and it was a good one. What was you in there for,
honest?”

“I’ll give it to yer straight,” said Patsy, “but I don’t want to stand
here, for somebody might see me that I don’t want to know me.”

“Come into the candy store, then,” said the girl, leading the way into a
little store where candies, cheap toys, newspapers and cigars were sold.

Patsy stood near the door, where he could watch, and said to the girl:

“Yes, I’ll give it to you straight. I have followed two fellows into
that house who went up to the third floor, and when you came out of the
door I was thinking whether I would go up or go down.”

“What had they been doing?” asked the girl.

“Nothing that I know of,” replied Patsy, with a laugh. “I was wanting to
know what they were going to do.”

“Crooks, were they?” asked the girl.

“Friends of mine,” replied Patsy, “and I thought that they were going to
do something about a thing I had told them of, leaving me out. I was
just following them up to see what they were going to do.”

“Oh! And I interfered,” said the girl.

“Oh, I don’t know. I was going away when you opened the door. What I was
afraid of was that the row would let them know that I was after them.”

“I don’t think it did,” said the girl.

“Didn’t anybody come from the third floor?” asked Patsy.

“No,” said the girl.

“Who lives up there?” asked Patsy.

“An old woman and her husband. They have the whole floor. They are very
quiet people, but they say when the old woman was young that she was a
crook--a shoplifter. But I don’t know.”

All this time Patsy had been keeping a sharp watch on the door of the
house in question to see if Spike Thomas and Bally Morris would come
from it.

But now, to his astonishment, there suddenly appeared before the door of
the store the two men, Spike Thomas and Bally Morris.

They were coming from an entirely different direction--that is to say,
from the corner above--and were walking at a gait that was almost a run
in their hurry.

Turning to the girl, Patsy said, hurriedly:

“There are my men now, and they’re coming from another way. I’ll see you
again soon.”

He dashed out into the street and followed after the two.

The way pursued by the two young men, Thomas and Morris, was straight
down the avenue until they reached Forty-second Street, when they
hurried up that street to Third Avenue, where, Patsy was certain, they
meant to board a car.

On reaching the avenue he put himself in such a position that he could
board the same car the two young crooks did.

This he successfully accomplished and rode with them as far as Rivington
Street, where they got out and hastily went down that street.

“They’re going to Spike Thomas’ own house,” said Patsy to himself, as he
rapidly followed.

He was right, for reaching the tenement house in which Thomas lived, the
two crooks hurried upstairs and into one of the rooms.

Patsy had fairly followed them to the door unknown to them and seeing
them safely in, he turned and went down the stairs into the street,
saying to himself:

“Now, what was it all about? I must lay by to get a chance to talk to
Spike when they come out.”

He made his way to a drinking place which he knew to be one of the
haunts of Spike and Bally Morris, to wait for them.



CHAPTER IX.

A THIEF ROBS A THIEF.


The result of the investigation of Chick within the barroom, and of Nick
without the house, was to show that there were two entrances to the
upper story.

One was by the outside staircase at the rear, which had evidently been
used by the four, and the other by a hallway, the door of which was on
the avenue.

Nick had tried and found that the door at the front of the house was
locked and bolted on the other side.

Chick had found that there was a door at the rear of the barroom which
opened into this hall from which a flight of stairs ran up to the second
floor.

Chick joined Nick in the cross street near the rear door that led from
the street into the barroom. They exchanged their information, and Nick
said:

“We will go into the barroom, Chick, and while there I will manage in
some way to divert the attention of the barkeeper so that you can slip
through that door into the hall and unbolt the front door.

“Our plan shall be that I will enter from the rear and climb those
outside stairs while you shall enter the front door, bolt it behind you
and bolt the door leading into the barroom. Then going up the stairs
from the front, we will take them front and rear.”

Entering the saloon, it did not take Nick long to get the barkeeper so
engrossed in conversation that Chick slipped through the door into the
hall unseen, unbolted the front door, turning the key he found there so
as to unlock it, and was back again in the barroom beside Nick before
his absence had been noticed.

Having tipped the wink to Nick that it was all arranged, the two passed
out and separated at the door, after having agreed upon a signal that
should inform each that they were in their proper places.

Seizing a favorable opportunity when no one was looking, Nick passed the
door in the fence and went to the rear of the outside staircase.

He met with a temporary check.

The staircase was closed at the bottom by a door bolted from within.

Having no tools with him and seeing nothing by which he could open the
door or force it, he took the chances of being heard and, placing his
shoulder against the part where he thought the bolt was--that is to say,
just above the lock--he gradually applied his strength until he forced
it in.

The door was not strong and, as a matter of fact, gave way quite easily
under the pressure he could apply.

Waiting a brief instant to see whether he had attracted attention, and
becoming satisfied that he had not, he swung the door back to see that
the stairway was covered with a cheap carpet.

Cautiously ascending the steps he found himself on a landing which was
below a door closed and, as he quickly found, locked.

A trial of it satisfied him that it was not bolted, and as the lock was
of the ordinary kind he had no difficulty in picking it.

In this it differed from the one at the foot of the stairs, which had no
keyhole on the outside.

Cautiously opening this door, he found that he was in a small-sized
entry--so small, indeed, that it was almost impossible to stand within
it, and shut the door again. On his right was another door, which was
doubtless always opened before the outer door was closed.

But by dint of squeezing himself into the corner Nick succeeded in
closing the door and with his pick relocking it.

Then he cautiously opened the door before him to find that it was a
bedroom, and vacant.

Stepping within it lightly, he listened and heard voices in the room in
front. There were two doors in this room, one clearly communicating with
the front room, and the other, Nick thought, might open into a closet.
But, on trying it, he found it opened into the hall of the second story,
and saw Chick standing at the head of the stairs waiting to give the
signal which should announce his presence there.

Nick beckoned to Chick, who came stealthily to the door.

“They are in that front room on this floor, chief,” said Chick. “There
is nobody upstairs, for I have been through that floor. I have
barricaded the top of the stairs so they cannot escape that way.”

“All right,” said Nick. “Now take your stand at that door leading from
the bedroom. I will leave this door open and when you hear me mew like a
cat, burst into the room.”

Chick went to his position and Nick to his.

Nick was about to give the signal, when he heard the voice of Lannigan
saying:

“I suppose I’ve got to take it this way.”

“I don’t see how else it is to be done,” said Elwell. “The paper is
drawn in such a way as to show that the fifty thousand dollars due you
is for value received. You must rely upon me to get the proper
acknowledgment of this when you bring the paper to me to-morrow. I will
do that and have it properly indorsed by responsible people, who will
give a bond for the faithful execution of the requirements of this paper
by Seaman. It is the best I can do. We have had business before
together and you have found me a man of my word. That ought to stand for
something now.”

“I s’pose it must go,” returned Lannigan, in a doubtful and dissatisfied
tone. “I suppose I must take my chance that you’re acting on the level.”

“I’m on the level,” said Seaman. “You wouldn’t want me to bring my
bondsman here, would you?”

“Not on your life,” said Lannigan. “Anyhow, I’ll take the chance. I may
be done out of the money and you may not make the bond good to-morrow,
but if you don’t----”

He stopped talking suddenly and there was a pause that lasted some time.
Then Elwell spoke:

“There’s no use of your making such threats as that, Lannigan. They are
not pleasant.”

“No,” laughed Lannigan, bitterly, “and they won’t be pleasant for either
you or Seaman here, if I carry them out.”

There was another silence, during which there was the rustling of paper.
Then Elwell spoke again:

“There, Lannigan, is the paper signed by Seaman and witnessed by me.
Bring it to me to-morrow as agreed and I will see that it is
acknowledged and the bond given to you.”

“Very well,” said Lannigan. “Now about the five thou.”

“Here it is,” said Seaman.

“Let me count it,” said Lannigan.

“You can see me count it. There are fifty one-hundred-dollar bills
here.”

Again there was a brief silence, during which the rustling of paper was
heard.

“Hand it over,” said Lannigan. “It’s all right.”

“Produce the goods first,” said Seaman, with a laugh.

“Oh, they’re here all right,” Lannigan said. “I’ll get it.”

Again there was a brief silence, during which the steps of some one
across the floor could be heard.

Nick got ready to give the signal, for he believed that the point was at
hand when the burst into the room should be made, to find before them
the very article that was the object of their search.

“Open it,” said the voice of Seaman, “and let us see that it’s all
right.”

Again there was a brief instant of silence, when there was a sudden
start, followed by an unusual commotion, cries and oaths, above which
rang the voice of Lannigan, crying:

“The game’s up!”

“What trick is this?” cried Seaman, angrily.

“We’ve been robbed!” cried Lannigan and the unknown together.

Seaman laughed loud and bitterly, and said:

“It’s a plant. A dirty plant. Now I suppose you’ll undertake to rob me
of this five thousand.”

“Before Heaven!” cried Lannigan, most earnestly, “it’s no plant. I tell
you we’ve been robbed and since we left here this afternoon to meet
you.”

“Nick Carter!” exclaimed a voice that had not yet been heard in all the
talk.

“Do you think so?” asked Elwell.

“Who else? Who knew of it being here but Lannigan and I,” said the same
voice.

“Has everything been taken out?” asked Elwell.

“Every blessed scrap of paper,” replied Lannigan. “And a lot of
newspapers put in their place.”

“Lannigan,” said Elwell, “I believe that both you and your friend are
square in this matter. I believe that you have really been robbed. This
makes it all the more serious. For we now do not know in whose hands
they are.”

“Nick Carter’s, I tell you!” exclaimed the strange voice again.

“Perhaps,” said Elwell. “If they are, then we are all of us done.”

“Beat to a finish,” said Seaman.

“He’ll die for it if he has swiped them,” almost shouted Lannigan, wild
in his anger.

“Pshaw!” exclaimed Elwell. “You may think yourself a bad man, Lannigan;
but you had better keep out of the way of Nick Carter. If he has tracked
that case here and got possession of the things within it, the next
thing will be that he’ll have the handcuffs on you. He fears no mortal
man and he has captured single-handed half a dozen men, each one worse
than you. But I don’t think Nick Carter has got those papers.”

“Why?”

“Let me ask you first, whether when you last saw these, they were all in
this case and the case locked?”

“Yes; every blessed paper and the models as well.”

“Well, then, if Nick Carter had entered the room in search of that case
and had found it, he would not have stopped to take the things out and
substitute papers in their place, but would have taken out of the house
the case and all.”

“That’s sense,” said Seaman.

“Let me ask you another question,” said Elwell. “Did any one besides
Seaman and myself know that you had this case and its contents?”

“No--stop--yes--hold on! It’s not quite that way. There are two men who
thought we had it. They thought we had cracked that crib in Thirty-fifth
Street and, that being so, they knew that we had the case. But we never
let on to them that we did the job. They only thought so.”

“Who are those men?” asked Elwell.

“Never you mind who they are,” said Lannigan, ferociously. “Before the
lights go out to-night, I’ll know whether they’ve got that case, or what
was in it, or I’ll have their lives.”

Again there was silence of speech, but there was a movement as if the
party had risen to their feet.

Nick slipped to the open door leading into the hall and, beckoning to
Chick, said to him when they met:

“Did you hear?”

“Plainly.”

“The drawings have disappeared.”

“Yes. There’s no use of making a raid now.”

“You’re right; get out of the house by the front way as quick as you can
and get on the watch. I’ll go down by the way I came.”

Chick slipped down the stairs and out of the front door, while Nick,
crossing the bedroom, picked the lock of the outer door again, closed
the door leading into the bedroom behind him, closed the outer door and
locked it, and slipped down the outer stairs and so into the street,
where he went into concealment to watch for the men to come out.

He did not wait long before Elwell and Seaman came down the stairs,
passed out of the door in the fence and went up the street to Third
Avenue and disappeared at the corner.

“No use to follow them,” muttered Nick, “for I can find them when I want
them.”

It was a longer wait, however, for the other two, and Nick was made
aware of their coming by a string of oaths from inside the fence which
he knew to be from Lannigan.

Straining his ears he found that Lannigan was swearing over the door at
the foot of the stairs.

He was attributing the broken door to the thieves who had robbed him,
assuming that that was the way in which they had gotten in.

To have heard him swear and talk one would have supposed that he was an
honest man and there had never been such an outrage before, or so
dishonest a thing, as that of robbing him of what he had robbed Mr.
Herron.

Nick, laughing at this, nevertheless by a long whistle gave Chick the
signal to be on the alert, as their birds were coming.

The next instant Lannigan and the unknown stepped out into the street
and hurried in the direction of Third Avenue.

Nick hung back, fearing that he was known by one or both of the two, and
signaled to Chick to take up the shadow.

Chick promptly appeared at the corner and, seeing the two men now pretty
nearly at the other end of the block, hurried along past Nick and heard
Nick say that he would follow behind him.

Thus the four went to Third Avenue, where the two men, Lannigan and the
unknown, boarded a street car.

A coach and pair stood at the corner, and Nick, calling to Chick, sprang
in after telling the driver he should have double fare if he kept the
passing car in sight.

It was a somewhat difficult matter, but when Thirty-fourth Street was
reached they were near enough for Nick to see Lannigan and the unknown
descend from the car and go down Thirty-fourth Street.

“They are going to the place Patsy told about,” said Chick.

“Then,” said Nick, “they are looking after the two Patsy calls his
assistants.”

“Spike Thomas and Bally Morris?”

“Yes. And----”

“They are the two Lannigan suspects of robbing him,” quickly put in
Chick.

“That is the only conclusion.”

All this time Nick and Chick had been rapidly following the two down
Thirty-fourth Street.

Reaching the last block they drew aside to watch the two, and saw them
searching every one of the numerous saloons on that block without
finding, apparently, what they sought for.

Having found nothing, they retraced their steps and again hurried in the
direction of Third Avenue.

As they stepped out, Nick said to Chick:

“They have not found their men here and are going to try somewhere
else.”

Then they set out to follow.



CHAPTER X.

IN CLOSE PURSUIT.


It was some time before Patsy’s patience in waiting in the saloon he
knew to be the hang-out of Spike Thomas was rewarded.

But at length Spike and Bally Morris made their appearance, and on
seeing Patsy went over to him, and said:

“I say, cull,” was Spike’s greeting, “get out of here with us to another
joint, where we can patter a bit.”

Without knowing why they wanted to go to another place, nevertheless he
got up willingly and followed them out into the street.

Spike led them to a place in Bond Street, not far from the Bowery, and
evidently one which he knew only from the outside.

“Yer see, cull,” he said, “I don’t know much about dis place, but it’s
quiet, and there’ll be no mix-up wid de rounders and de culls.”

“What are you wanting to hide for, Spike?” asked Patsy.

“Oh, there’s nothin’ doin’,” said Spike. “Only I want to talk to you
about de things you was puttin’ up to me dis morning.”

“Well, what of it?” said Patsy.

“Didn’t you say,” said Spike, “dat there was some dollars for me if I
could get something for you?”

“Yes,” replied Patsy, “that’s what I said.”

“You said it was a leather case, with somethin’ into it what you wanted;
ain’t dat right?”

“See here, Spike,” said Patsy, “what are you getting to?”

“I want to git dem dollars you was talkin’ about,” said Spike. “Dere’s
been nothin’ doin’ for me dis long time, and I’m broke. So if you give
me de right steer, I’m goin’ for dem dollars.”

“Well,” said Patsy, “all there is of it is that a leather case, with
some things in it, was taken out of that house in Thirty-fifth Street
last night. The man from whom it was taken will put up good money to
have it back.”

“Who is he?”

“His name is Herron, and he lives in that house.”

“What does he do downtown?”

“Oh, he’s a broker or something in Broad Street.”

“Say, I want ter git de rights of dis,” said Spike, in a businesslike
way.

“I’m givin’ it ter you as much as I know.”

“Well, what was in de case? Money, checks? What?”

“Why,” said Patsy, “as I understand it, it was some drawings and a model
of a new invention, which is valuable.”

“Well, wasn’t his nibs tryin’ to rob the inventor of it?” asked Spike,
shrewdly.

“The inventor is dead,” said Patsy, wondering where Spike got all his
knowledge from.

“Den it was his widder?” said Spike.

“See here, Spike,” said Patsy, “what is this you’re givin’ me? What I
know is that Mr. Herron paid the widder his good money for those things,
and that they were stolen from him. Now, Spike, it was you who put it
into my head from the first that a swell cracksman from Philadelphia,
Lannigan, cracked the crib and took that case.”

“Dat’s right,” repeated Spike.

“Then you give it me that when you ran against Lannigan he wouldn’t
cough up and let you in.”

“Dat’s right,” repeated Spike.

“Now I’m goin’ to speak a little piece,” said Patsy. “Spike, you have
seen Lannigan since I saw you last, and you’ve got into the job.”

“You’re away off, Patsy,” said Spike.

“I don’t think I am,” said Patsy. “Lannigan has let you into the job,
and you’re tryin’ to pump me as to who will give up the best for that
case.”

“Oh, yer away off, Patsy,” repeated Spike; “ain’t he, Bally?”

The crook turned to the other one for confirmation of his words, which
was readily given.

“Mebbe I am,” replied Patsy, “but if it isn’t that, what is your little
game?”

“I am just tryin’ to loin a little somet’in’ to see if I can’t work dat
bloke, Lannigan, for a show at dem dollars.”

All this seemed to be very plausible on the part of Spike, and was said
with a very frank manner.

But Patsy was not deceived. He knew something had occurred since he had
last seen Spike, but just what it was he was not able to tell.

“Well, Spike,” he said, after a few moments’ thought, “it all comes back
to what I told you in the beginning. There’s one man who’ll give up more
for those papers than any one else, and to get them back I don’t think
he’ll ask any questions.”

“Dat’s de point,” said Spike. “I was wantin’ to know what kind of a hole
I was gettin’ meself into if I did get me hooks on those papers and go
talkin’ to his nibs about ’em.”

Patsy thought rapidly. He began to believe that the crook already had
the papers in his possession, or that he was in a position to obtain
them whenever he could drive a proper bargain with those who would pay
for their return.

Recalling that Ida had been told by Nick that she must try to get on
terms of good standing with Mrs. Pemberton, the widow of the inventor, a
bright idea struck him.

It was ten o’clock in the morning when Ida had received her orders from
Nick, and it was now nearly six o’clock in the evening. Such was Patsy’s
faith in Ida that he actually believed by this time Ida was installed as
a member of Mrs. Pemberton’s family.

Seeing that Spike was reluctant to go to Mr. Herron, it occurred to
Patsy that, having possession of the papers, as he believed, or knowing
how he could get possession of them, something Spike would not admit to
Patsy, Spike could be more easily persuaded to go to the widow with
them. Then if he, Patsy, were to notify Ida of the intended call, they
would be in a pretty fair position to recover the papers.

Acting on this thought, Patsy said:

“Of course, Spike, my boss is working for Herron. I am working for my
boss, so I’m workin’ for Herron, too. Now, if you can get your hooks on
that case, or what’s in it, and you don’t want to tackle Herron, why not
tackle my boss.”

“What?” cried Spike, in horror. “Tackle Nick Carter? Nit, nit, Pauline.”

“Well, then, if that don’t suit you,” said Patsy, “I’ll give you another
steer. The widder will put up for them papers, and put up big.”

“Now, you’re shouting,” said Spike. “Dat’s de lay. Now, where is she?”

“Her name is Pemberton, but you can’t get to her before ten o’clock
to-morrow morning,” said Patsy, anxious to get enough time to notify Ida
and to let her arrange for the part she was to play in the matter.

He was thoughtful a moment or two, and then he said:

“If you can work the Lannigan end, Spike,” he said, “you come to me
to-morrow morning at nine o’clock and I’ll give you the place where Mrs.
Pemberton lives; and, say, Spike, if you pull it off, you ought to do
something square with me for putting you on and giving you the straight
steer.”

“Sure,” said Spike. “Dere ain’t nothin’ in de hull shootin’ match dat I
didn’t get from youse. I’ll give yer a whack if I pulls anything off.”

Patsy now believed that he had gotten from Spike all that was possible,
and that he had laid a train in which Spike could be used which would
lead to good results, and he was anxious to get away and hunt up Nick to
report to him what he had done.

Seeking the best excuse he could, he left the two and went over to the
Bowery.

In doing so, his purpose was to take one of the uptown lines of cars and
then cross to the west side, but on reaching the corner of Bond Street,
and the Bowery, he saw some one on the opposite side of the street that
looked to him very much like the one he had seen on the corner of
Thirty-fourth Street and who the Chicago detective had told him was
Lannigan.

The distance across the Bowery at that point was long, and he hurried
across it in order to be certain that he was right.

He had so crossed the Bowery as to come up behind Lannigan, and as he
stepped up on the sidewalk a hand was laid on his shoulder.

He turned and saw Chick.

“What is it, youngster?” asked Chick.

“Are you following that man?” asked Patsy.

“Lannigan? Yes.”

“Then, it is Lannigan?” asked Patsy.

“Yes,” replied Chick. “But where are your men?”

“Over here in a saloon nearby.”

“Lannigan is looking for them,” said Chick.

“The deuce! What for?”

“To put holes in them,” laughed Chick.

“What does he want to do that for?” asked Patsy.

“He thinks they stole that case of the drawings from him,” said Chick.

“Say!” exclaimed Patsy, “where’s the chief?”

“He’s right here,” said Chick.

“Here!” said Patsy. “Show me where he is--quick!”

Seeing that Patsy was unusually earnest, Chick gave the signal, which
brought Nick into sight in an instant. As he came up Chick said:

“Patsy’s got something on his mind and wants to talk.”

“Chick, you keep your eye on Lannigan, and I’ll see what Patsy has to
say,” returned Nick.

He then turned to Patsy, asking what had excited him.

“Well,” said Patsy, “I hardly know where to begin, but I’ve been
following Spike Thomas and Bally Morris all day. I’ve been thinking that
Spike had put up a job with Lannigan to get the most money he could for
those drawings, but Chick tells me that Lannigan has been robbed of them
that he thinks Spike did it.”

“Well, Patsy,” said Nick, “tell me the whole story and we’ll see how it
fits in with what we know.”

Patsy then recited to Nick all that had occurred between himself, Spike
and Bally Morris, from the time they had met in Thirty-fourth Street up
to the time they had been traced by him to Avenue A, their brief
disappearance, the row he had had in the house in Avenue A, the
surprising appearance of the two from a direction he least expected
them, his tracing them to Spike’s home, with the subsequent interview
which he had just had with Spike in the saloon in Bond Street.

Patsy told this rapidly, but clearly, and Nick was an attentive
listener.

On his part, Nick related to Patsy all that had occurred from the time
they had parted on the corner of Forty-second Street and Third Avenue,
including, of course, the astonishing theft from Lannigan of the
contents of the leather case, concluding with the statement that Chick
and he had followed Lannigan in the belief that the cracksman was
hunting for Spike Thomas and Bally Morris.

It did not take long for these two bright-minded people to fit in the
two stories into a complete whole.

“It’s all straight as a whistle, chief,” said Patsy. “Lannigan threw
Spike down. Spike, from what he had learned from me, made up his mind
that he would rob Lannigan of that case. To get on a track of him and
know what he was doing and when he was out of his room, was what he was
laying on the corner of Forty-second Street and Third Avenue for. Just
as soon as he saw Lannigan with your men, the two of them scampered off
to Avenue A.”

Here Nick stopped Patsy to make sure by inquiry that there was no
mistake as to the locality that both had tracked their people to on
Avenue A. That being settled to the satisfaction of both as being the
same, Patsy went on:

“Between the time I saw them go into the house where I had that row, and
when I saw them coming down in such a hurry, they had got into
Lannigan’s apartments and swiped those papers. I’ll bet my stockings,
chief, that all those things are in Spike’s rooms now, down here in
Rivington Street.”

“I think that is about the size of it,” said Nick. “But that is a good
job that you have put up to send Spike with the things to Mrs.
Pemberton. Mrs. Pemberton has recently got some sense, and believes
that Elwell is trying to do her. Ida is in a position to get close to
her, and I think, after all, that is the best way to handle it.”

“Yet we might get them quicker by making a raid on Spike’s rooms,” said
Patsy.

“And we might lose them all, too. The first thing we’ve got to do,
Patsy, is to take care of Spike, for if Lannigan meets him there will be
trouble to pay, if there is not a dead Spike.”

“Then,” said Patsy, “I’d better hunt up Spike and warn him to keep out
of Lannigan’s way, although I think that’s what he’s doing now.”

He turned to cross the Bowery, but, in doing so, saw both Spike and
Bally Morris crossing diagonally toward the drinking saloon which was
Spike’s hang-out.

Without saying a word to Nick, he darted off to intercept Spike, while
Nick hurried along toward the corner.

As Nick approached the corner he saw Lannigan rush across the sidewalk
in the direction from which Spike Thomas and Bally Morris were
approaching.

Chick was in close pursuit, and Lannigan seemed to be pulling at his
pocket as if trying to draw a revolver.

Nick also sprang in pursuit, and so it was that as Spike and Bally
approached, all unconscious of the danger they were in, three from
different points were approaching to their rescue.

It was no part of Nick’s plans to have Spike put out of the way at a
time when he could be most useful to him.

As Lannigan left the sidewalk, reaching the roadway, he brought his
revolver out, being then not more than twenty feet from Spike.

But, as he lifted his revolver to fire, Chick sprang on his back, and at
the same instant Nick was beside Lannigan, seizing his revolver arm.

In the meantime, Patsy had reached the two young crooks and in the most
energetic manner had ordered them to drop.

However, the danger was over, for Lannigan was in the hands of two men,
and was a child in strength compared with either one of them.

By the time Nick had taken the revolver from Lannigan and forced him
back to the sidewalk, Spike and Bally had taken to their heels, closely
followed by Patsy.

Nick had now no doubt, as a result of the investigations of the day,
that Lannigan and the one they had came to call the Unknown were the
ones who had robbed Mr. Herron’s house, but it was not in his plans yet
to make an arrest--not, at all events, until after the papers and
drawings Nick had been retained to recover were in their hands. Nor was
it in his plans to let Lannigan know that he had been interfered with by
Nick Carter, if he did not then know it. So he said:

“You must be a fool, to try and shoot a man in daylight like this. You
want to thank your stars that there was somebody here to stop you. Now,
get away quick, before a policeman comes, or you’ll be nipped as it is.”

Lannigan looked at him with a malignant glance, but, making no reply,
turned and walked up the Bowery.

Nick signaled Chick not to lose sight of him, and he himself went off to
find Ida and post her as to the part she was to play when Spike opened
up his negotiations with the widow for the return of the precious
drawings.



CHAPTER XI.

A CHIMNEY CLEW.


Patsy followed Spike Thomas and Bally Morris in their mad run from the
vengeance of Lannigan.

His purpose was not so much to protect them as it was to get an
explanation of a matter which puzzled him.

He was now convinced that Spike Thomas and his companion had entered the
apartments of Lannigan and had stolen the drawings and models.

But what puzzled him was when it was done.

The two had been under his eyes almost continuously all day, and it
vexed him to think that it should have been done without his even
suspecting it.

He soon caught up with the flying crooks and followed them into a small
saloon in the neighborhood of Chatham Square.

Both Spike and Morris had been badly frightened by the attack made on
them by Lannigan, but when they realized that they were safe from
pursuit, and that Lannigan’s murderous assault had been prevented by
Nick Carter and his aids, their courage returned.

Their cunning, as well as their desire to profit by their theft, led
them to conceal or deny the theft.

In view of the fact that Lannigan had made a vicious attack upon them,
they could no longer maintain the story they had given Patsy that they
had entered into an arrangement with Lannigan by which they could
negotiate the return of the papers for him.

This troubled Spike somewhat in his talk with Patsy, but, by some
skillful lying, he got up a story that somebody had been fooling
Lannigan with the tale that he and Morris were going to sell him out.

His cunning and, perhaps, fear of Lannigan, led him to deny the theft
from Lannigan’s rooms.

“See here, Spike,” said Patsy, “you may lie as much as you want to, but
I know that you got into Lannigan’s rooms and took those papers and
models. I know when you did it, and I saw you coming away from there.”

Both the young crooks looked at Patsy curiously, but without replying.

They did not know how much Patsy really knew, and they had convinced
themselves that they had made the entry into Lannigan’s rooms unknown to
any one but themselves.

“Now,” continued Patsy, “you can keep up your lying if it will do you
any good. You ain’t level with me when you don’t give me the game, after
me putting you on. I’m going to know all about it, and you can’t stop
me. The only thing is now, are you goin’ to throw me on the deal or
not.”

“Goin’ to throw nothin’,” said Spike. “Say, how much do you t’ink I
ought to strike de old dame for, if I can make de deal?”

Patsy could hardly restrain a smile, for in this question Spike was
admitting what he had been denying, and that was the possession of the
drawings and models. He did not appear to notice it, however, and
replied:

“Strike her for twelve thousand dollars.”

“Gee whiz!” exclaimed both Spike and Bally in a breath.

When they had recovered a little from their astonishment, Spike asked:

“Will de old dame stand a strike of such big figures?”

“Sure,” replied Patsy.

In view of the fact that Lannigan had struck Seaman for fifty-five
thousand dollars, as Nick had told Patsy, the surprise of the two young
crooks over the sum named by Patsy showed clearly to the lad that there
was no relation at all existing between Spike and Lannigan, if he had
needed such a showing.

However, he got up, saying:

“You’re going to work the racket on the dame to-morrow?”

“Sure,” replied Spike.

“Then you’ll come to me for the number and street of her house at nine
to-morrow morning?”

“Sure.”

Patsy did not like the tone and the manner of the crook, and he stood
still a moment, looking sternly into the eyes of Spike, and said:

“Spike, if you round on me, I’ll spoil your game. I’ll do more; I’ll put
you in the jug. You have got no right to throw me down, for I put you
next in this game, and I saved your life this afternoon. If you throw me
down it’ll be the worst day’s work you ever did for yourself.”

He turned from the table at which the two crooks were sitting, and
walked out of the saloon without another word or turning to see the
effects of his words.

Patsy was intent on filling up the gap in the story of the day, which
was complete and connected except as to the taking of the drawings and
the models from Lannigan’s rooms.

That this had been done by Spike Thomas and Bally Morris there was no
doubt in the minds of any one having knowledge of the affair. But, after
all, it was, at best, suspicion.

Leaving the saloon in which the two young crooks had hidden themselves
from Lannigan, Patsy took the elevated railroad train to Forty-second
Street.

Leaving the train here, he went immediately to Avenue A, and to the
block where he had had his “row,” as he called it.

His intention was, if possible, to find or to account for the
disappearance of the two crooks from the house into which he had
followed them.

It was his good fortune that, as he passed the door of that house, that
he should see in the doorway the girl whose alarm had been the cause of
the row in the house.

She recognized him as quickly, and stepped forward to greet him.

“Say,” she said, “was them two fellows that you trotted after this
afternoon, when you was chinnin’ with me, the two you followed into our
house?”

“Yes,” said Patsy. “It gave me the jumps when I saw ’em coming down from
the corner when I thought they were in the house yet.”

“Are dey crooks?” asked the girl.

“That’s what they are,” replied Patsy.

“Well, say,” said the girl, “I can give you a steer. Dem fellers was
upstairs on de floor above us when we had dat scrap in de hall. But dey
climbed de ladder to de roof when de scrap was goin’ on and got away.”

“How do you know that?” asked Patsy, eagerly.

“Me little sister, who was up dere on dat floor, seen ’em do it. She
tole me just after you run away so sudden.”

The whole thing then burst upon Patsy. Everything was explained to him.
The two crooks, taking advantage of the row going on on the floor below,
had climbed to the roof, and, making their way over the other houses to
the corner, had descended into the apartments of Lannigan through the
scuttle of the corner house.

What had been mysterious to him was now as plain as day.

He looked along of the houses on the street, to see that there was no
break in them to the corner, and said:

“Do you know the store on the corner?”

“The saloon? Sure.”

“You ever go in there?”

“Sometimes,” said the girl.

“If you’ll go there with me now, I’ll blow you off.”

The girl without a word turned, and the two walked up to the corner and
entered the place by the rear door.

“Say,” said Patsy, “that brother of yours will be wanting to put up
another fight if he finds me here with you again.”

The girl laughed merrily, and replied:

“Oh, he’s a great chewer, but there’s more in his bark than there is in
his bite. He ain’t around now, for he’s trotting after his own rag.
Anyhow, after the way you put him on de floor dis afternoon, he won’t
want to chew wid you any more.”

It was clear that Patsy’s compliments of the afternoon had won the
girl’s favor, and the manner in which he had defended himself when
attacked, her admiration.

This Patsy saw, and he determined to take advantage of it.

“Say,” he said, “do you know the people here?”

“Yep; he’s a nice man what keeps dis place.”

“Is he straight?”

“Straight as a die.”

“Then this isn’t a hang-out for crooks?” asked Patsy.

“Naw. He won’t have dem around. Dere’s lots of dem on dese corners, but
he won’t have dem here.”

Patsy was silent a moment as he thought over a plan which had entered
his head. Then he said:

“Call him here and tell him who I am. I want to ask him something.”

The girl did so, and the proprietor, a rather rough-looking but honest
man, came to him.

“Mike,” said the girl, “this is me frien’, Patsy Murphy.”

“Not Nick Carter’s man?” said the one called Mike, extending his hand.

“De same,” said the girl, proudly.

The man looked doubtfully between the two and asked:

“How’d you get in wid him, den?”

“Oh, we got acquainted dis afternoon,” replied the girl, tossing her
head.

“I heard something about it,” said the saloon-keeper; “will yer have a
drink?”

“No,” said Patsy, “but I wish you would answer me some questions. Do you
know that there was a robbery in this house this afternoon?”

“I heard something about it,” said the saloon-keeper, “but I don’t know
anything about it.”

“There was,” said Patsy, “and from the floor above.”

“I heard a little about it,” said the man, “but I’ve nothing to do with
the people upstairs.”

“Then you don’t have the whole house?” asked Patsy.

“No, I only rent this store.”

“Do you know anything about the man who lives upstairs--the one who was
robbed?”

“No; he never comes in here, and he rented the two floors above from the
same man I rent this store. He’s only been here about six weeks or two
months.”

“Well,” said Patsy, “I think I know pretty well who did the job. I think
I know how they got into the house.”

“Oh, that’s clear enough,” said the saloon man. “They broke in that
stairway door in the rear and picked the lock of the upper door.”

“I don’t think so,” replied Patsy; “in fact, I know they didn’t break
the door in, for I know how that was done. But, I would like to get up
to the top part of this house to see if I can find traces of the way I
think they did get in.”

“How was that?”

“Through that scuttle,” said Patsy.

“There’s nothin’ to stop your goin’ up there,” said the man. “There
ain’t nobody up there now, for the two men livin’ there are out. If you
should go out of that door opening into the hall, nobody would shoot you
for doing it.”

Patsy got up and said:

“I’ll try it.”

“And I’ll go with you,” said the man.

“And so will I,” said the girl.

Thus followed, Patsy mounted the stairs to the top floor and, reaching
the hall on the top of the house, soon found the scuttle-hole in the
roof.

But there were no steps or ladder leading to it.

Looking about, he saw a broken wooden chair in the corner and, bringing
it into the light, saw that the fracture of the top of the back was a
fresh one. The scuttle-hole was close to the wall and, looking at the
wall directly under it, he saw marks on it which indicated that the
chair had been placed against the wall and used as a means of reaching
the scuttle.

He put the chair at that place and saw that the chair and the marks
fitted.

Mounting the chair, he found that the scuttle cover was loose, and had
not been precisely fitted when it was put on.

A mere pressure of the hand slid the scuttle aside and, making a spring,
he caught the upper edges of the scuttle-hole with his hands and drew
himself so that his head was above the roof.

Immediately his attention was attracted to a piece of paper clinging to
the chimney nearby.

He clambered through the hole and, going to the chimney, found that it
was a small piece of that kind of paper known as tracing paper, used by
draftsmen.

On it was a drawing of what was apparently machinery.

He jumped to the conclusion that it was a part of the missing drawings
that had been searched for all day.

Thrusting it in his pocket, he returned to the scuttle-hole and let
himself drop down to the floor as he had supposed Spike and Bally had
done.

Remounting the chair he placed the scuttle cover in position again and
put the chair back where he had found it.

Turning to the two who had been silently waiting, he said:

“I’m satisfied. That’s the way those fellows got into the house. They
went into the house in which this girl lived, got out on to the roof
from the scuttle of that house, crossed over and came down this way.
They did not go down that way, but went out to the street down the
stairs and through the front door.”

“You’re right,” cried the saloon man. “That accounts for the bolts being
off the front door.”

Patsy smiled, but made no reply, yet he thought that the bolts were off
because Chick had taken them off when he went out of the house.

The little party returned to the barroom and, after Patsy had spent a
little time in making himself agreeable to the girl, whose friendliness
had given him the clew to the manner in which the two young crooks had
gotten into the house, he went away.



CHAPTER XII.

ON THE SEARCH.


While Patsy was on this search, Chick had been following Lannigan, whose
movements about the city seemed to be marked by neither purpose nor
intention.

Nevertheless, Chick kept close at his heels.

Nick had found Ida, and from her had learned that she had had another
talk with Mrs. Pemberton, and had convinced her that Elwell, the lawyer,
whom she had trusted so much, was playing her false.

The principal thing to bring her into that frame of mind was the belief
that he had taken the $10,000 check which Mr. Herron had given her from
the drawings and models of her husband, with the intention of cheating
her out of it.

She was now quite certain that she had done wrong, and was willing to
carry out the intentions of her husband and deal with Mr. Herron, as the
unsigned articles of agreement provided.

Nick had sought Ida with a view of preparing her for the visit of Spike
the next morning.

He had intended to let Ida arrange with Mrs. Pemberton for this, and
meant that Ida should, as Mrs. Pemberton, receive Spike.

This was in accordance with the job that Patsy had put up. And finding
that Mrs. Pemberton had changed her position entirely in regard to Mr.
Herron, he proposed to Ida that he should go with her to Mrs. Pemberton
at once, and tell her all that had occurred during the day, and thus
show to her the kind of people into whose hands she had fallen.

This was done, and Mrs. Pemberton, under the showing of Nick, saw
clearly that her only hope of receiving any profit from her late
husband’s work was first in the recovery of the papers of Mr. Herron,
and secondly through Mr. Herron.

Becoming convinced of this, she was not only willing but eager to assist
in carrying out the plans which Patsy had formed and which had been
approved and adopted by Nick.

So it was arranged that when Spike called, Ida, made up for, and
pretending to be, Mrs. Pemberton, should receive and dicker with Spike.

That there should be no hitch in this programme, Ida remained in Mrs.
Pemberton’s house over night.

It was Nick’s purpose to be in the house also in the morning so that if,
as a consequence of those negotiations, Spike brought the drawings, he
could seize them.

The matter being thus arranged, Nick returned to his home.

The next morning, before Patsy was fairly dressed, Spike Thomas,
followed by Bally Morris, burst into his room in a state of wild
excitement and rage.

A glance of Patsy’s was sufficient to assure him that both Spike and
Bally were more than half drunk.

They were so excited that for a moment neither could speak, but stood
gasping in an effort. Finally Spike blurted out:

“We’ve been robbed.”

Patsy turned sharply on him and said:

“Not of the drawings and models?”

“Yes, de same!”

Patsy’s disappointment was great, but, checking himself, he said, with
forced calmness:

“Tell me all about it.”

It was not so easy for the two crooks, and they began such a mixture of
oaths, assertions and contradictions of each other that Patsy was forced
to stop them; and, telling Morris to be quiet and not say a word,
instructed Spike to tell the tale.

Under his statement, it appeared that, being afraid of Lannigan, they
had kept away all night, not alone from their usual haunts, but from
their homes. They had spent the night in obscure, and, to them, strange
places, drinking.

When daylight had come, and they thought it safe to venture into the
part of the city where they lived, they had gone to Spike’s rooms to get
the drawings and models here hidden away, with the intention of carrying
them to a place where they could easily get them if the bargaining with
Mrs. Pemberton turned out as Patsy had assured them it would.

But, on reaching that room, the drawings and models were not in the
place where they had been deposited.

They had made a most exhaustive search of the room without a discovery
or a trace of them, and, having roused up everybody in the house, had
pushed their inquiries without receiving any information as to the
disappearance of the drawings.

But they had learned that one of the tenants in the house, at a late
hour in the previous night, had seen two men enter Spike Thomas’ rooms,
supposing one of them to be Spike Thomas.

As neither Spike Thomas nor Bally Morris had been near the rooms during
the night, the conclusion was that somebody had entered for the purpose
of stealing those drawings and models, and had obtained them.

That was the whole story, although it was garnished with oaths and
guesses and charges.

Patsy at once formed an idea as to who those thieves were, but he made
no remark to Bally Morris or Spike.

Sending them away, with instructions to hold themselves in readiness to
obey any call that he might make on them, he hurriedly finished his
dressing and went to the room of Chick, who had quarters in the same
house.

Rapping on Chick’s door, he received, however, no response.

The door was locked, and, as Chick was a light sleeper, Patsy felt that
Chick was not within his room. In his own room there was a key to
Chick’s, as there was in Chick’s a key to his, that each might enter the
other’s room when necessity required.

Obtaining that key and entering the room, Patsy saw at a glance that
Chick had not occupied it during the night.

“Holy smoke!” he said aloud, to himself, “I don’t like the looks of
this. I must tell the chief.”

Dashing downstairs into the street, Patsy went to a drug store where
there was a telephone that he frequently used, and obtained
communication with Nick at his home.

Telling his chief what had occurred, the third theft of the papers, he
also said that Chick had not returned to his room during the night.

“Chief,” said Patsy, over the wire, “I’m going to try and pick up track
of Chick.”

“Where?” asked Nick.

“I shall strike Rivington and the Bowery first, then Thirty-fourth
Street, and then Forty-second Street.”

“Right,” replied Nick. “Stay about the Bowery and Rivington until I get
over there. I shall come over at once.”

Patsy hurried over to the Bowery, and sought the corner of Rivington
Street, where the first thing that attracted his attention was a red
chalk mark on the pavement.

Many feet had passed over the mark since it had been made, and it
required close observation to discover its meaning.

Finally, Patsy determined that it had been made the evening before, and
that it was a notice to himself and the chief that Chick was on the
shadow, and going up the Bowery.

He crossed to the upper side of the street, and there found another
mark, so dim, however, that he could not tell what its meaning was, but
the indication seemed to be still pointing up the Bowery.

He went to the next corner, and there found another mark. This was
plainer, and still indicated that Chick was going up the Bowery.

“These are last night’s marks,” said Patsy to himself. “If he has kept
it up all night, we must get to him in time.”

He pursued his inquiries up the Bowery as far as the old armory, and
there, seeing that the marks still tended to the north, returned to
Rivington Street to meet the chief.

Arriving on that corner, he found Nick awaiting him.

It did not take the two long to exchange the additional information that
had been gained by each since they had parted.

“You have been right from the beginning in this matter, Patsy,” said
Nick.

“The two men who stole those papers from Lannigan’s room were Spike
Thomas and Bally Morris. They carried them to Spike’s rooms and hid them
away there. Still, I yet think we followed the proper course.”

“But the question now is,” said Patsy, “who has got the papers now, and
who were the third thieves?”

“Who does Spike think were the thieves?” asked Nick.

“He thinks they are two young toughs who live in the same house, and
who saw them stowing away these things.”

“Do you believe that?” said Nick.

“Not hardly,” said Patsy, emphatically.

“Neither do I,” replied Nick, quietly. “But our business now is to find
Chick and learn what he has been doing all night.”

Patsy laughed as he looked up at Nick, saying:

“I think that’s the straight road to the papers.”

The two now hurried up the Bowery to its end to pick up the trail Chick
had left behind him.

Arriving at the last mark Patsy had observed, they soon discovered that
the next one led them up Third Avenue, and, following them, which grew
plainer as they proceeded, they were carried to Thirty-fourth Street,
where the marks indicated that Chick had passed to the east.

But as they turned to go down that street, Patsy dashed across the
street to look at something tied to the rail of the steps leading to the
elevated railroad station.

It was a string of yellow cotton cloth.

Carefully examining the pavement, he ran up and down a short distance,
like a dog getting the scent, and then, stepping to the curbstone,
vigorously beckoned to Nick to come to him.

“Chick has been down Thirty-fourth Street,” he said, “and back again to
go up Third Avenue. A sign on the elevated railroad station rail gives
us the tip.”

Nick nodded, and the two hurried up Third Avenue.

“This trail will lead us to Forty-second Street, chief,” said Patsy, as
they hurried along.

But he had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth when they struck a
mark on the sidewalk that sent them down the side street to the east.

It was a change of direction for which neither was prepared.

They did not expect to see any other mark until they reached the corner
below, but in the center of the block they came on another which
indicated a stop, and a little farther on another sign showing that the
chase had been continued.

Looking about, they found that they were directly in front of a livery
stable.

One of the stablemen threw open the great doors as they looked.
Instantly Nick sprang inside, closely followed by Patsy, and went to a
carriage standing on the floor, travel stained, the wheels covered with
dust and mud.

On the hind axle was loosely tied a bit of yellow cotton cloth, to which
he directed Patsy’s attention.

Turning to the man who had followed them, Nick said:

“That carriage has been out nearly all night?”

“Well, is it any business of yours?” replied the stableman, in a surly
tone.

“Answer my question,” sternly demanded Nick.

“Didn’t know that you asked the question,” replied the man.

“Has that carriage been out over night?” asked Nick, in a calm, icy
voice.

The man was overawed, and replied that it had been out all night, not
getting back until after daylight.

“Did you drive the coach?” asked Nick.

“No; the man who drove it has just gone to lie down.”

“Go call him.”

“What for?”

“Because I tell you. I’m Nick Carter.”

The man started on hearing this, and went to the rear of the floor,
where a man was lying on some carriage cushions which he had piled up in
the corner.

Nick and Patsy had followed, and Nick said to the man:

“Don’t get up, but answer a few questions of mine. You had a party out
last night. How many were there of that party?”

“Two.”

“What did they look like?”

The man laughed, and replied:

“Hard to tell. They changed their looks two or three times.”

“Where did they go?”

“One man came here first and hired the coach,” said the man, “and he was
a black-haired, black-eyed man. Then he drove up to Forty-second Street
and Avenue A, where he took in another man. Then they drove down to the
Bowery and into Fourth Street, where they left the coach and told me to
wait for them. They staked me to wait until they came back.

“It was near daylight when the second one came to me and, getting in the
coach, went down to the corner of Rivington Street.

“Waiting there ten minutes, the first one came up running, jumped into
his coach with something in his hands, and told me to drive like the
devil up Fourth Avenue.

“When we got as far as Twenty-third Street, they stopped me, gave me a
twenty-dollar bill, and went off down Twenty-third Street to Third
Avenue.

“I drove home.”

“Were you followed by anybody?”

“Yes,” replied the man, with a look of surprise. “There was a coach that
stuck close to us all night.”

“Did the men you were riding know it?”

“No,” replied the man. “A fellow came out of the other coach when I was
in Fourth Street and told me he’d break my head if I let the other
fellows know that he was following--and he meant it, too.”

Patsy laughed.

“It wasn’t anything to laugh about,” said the man. “If you’d seen him,
you wouldn’t have laughed.”

Nick was satisfied the man had nothing more to tell, and he turned away,
followed by Patsy, to whom he said, as he walked across the floor of the
carriage-room:

“Chick tied that cloth on the axle in a chance that we might run up
against it during the night.”

“No doubt of that,” said Patsy. “Where now?”

“To Twenty-third Street and Fourth Avenue,” replied Nick. “Chick has
been on the track of these people, whoever they are, and it’s dollars to
cents that when they left their coach at Twenty-third Street, he left
his, in pursuit.”

Nick and Patsy hurried to the point indicated, and, as Nick had
foreseen, they found on the corner one of the red chalk marks that gave
them the direction.

The signs were fresh, easily seen, showing that they had been made
within a recent time.

The signs led them over a crooked way, in which there were many stops,
nearly all being in front of liquor stores, but finally ended in Avenue
A, on the block below that on which Patsy had twice been in the
twenty-four hours previously.

Here the signs ended, nor were there any indications of anything but a
stop.

“Surely,” said Nick, “after giving us such a good trail for so many
hours, Chick can’t have thrown it up at a late hour.”

“Unless,” said Patsy, “something has happened to him.”

He suddenly darted forward, and bent down to look on the sidewalk near
the curb. He picked something up and looked at it, and then ran along a
few steps, looking in the curb or gutter.

Nick followed after him, and when he reached him, Patsy said:

“Here’s the trail. Little pieces of this yellow cloth. Chick was on the
sneak here, and not in the open.”

Hurriedly, they followed this new trail, and it led them to the middle
of the block on which was the house in which Patsy had his “row,” as he
called it.

Indeed, when they came to a stop, they were almost opposite the door of
that house.

Here, carefully placed against the bottom of a lamppost, was a ball of
yellow cloth, about the size of a baseball.

“The end of the trail,” said Patsy.

“And Chick is somewhere about,” added Nick.

“I’ll give a signal that Chick will know if he’s here,” said Patsy.
“Hide yourself.”

Nick went into a neighboring doorway, and Patsy, slipping into the
street, got between two covered wagons that stood there, backed up to
the curb, without horses in front of them.

Suddenly there sounded on the air the sharp, yelping bark of a
frightened dog, ending in a prolonged howl.

Patsy slipped back to the pavement and to the cover of some boxes that
were piled nearby.

The two waited but a moment, when Chick came down the street, looking in
every direction.

Nick gave a low signal, and Chick darted into the hallway where Nick
was, Patsy quickly joining him.



CHAPTER XIII.

A DESPERATE STRUGGLE.


“I have been following Lannigan and the unknown all night,” said Chick.

“What have they been doing?” asked Nick.

“Something that they have regarded as important, but what I am not
certain.”

He rapidly told his experiences of the night, the important feature of
which, to Nick, was Lannigan’s visit to Rivington Street, and his
entrance to a house there with the unknown, his long stay, and, finally,
the hurried departure of the unknown and his running up to Fourth Street
for the coach, which was brought down to Rivington Street.

It was there that Chick had sneaked up behind it and tied the yellow
cloth to the hind axle, on the chance that Patsy or Nick, or both, might
see it, and know that it was one followed by Chick.

He had hardly done this when Lannigan hurried up to the Bowery with
something in his arms and under his coat, jumped into the coach, and was
driven rapidly away.

After that it seemed to be merely an effort to get back to Lannigan’s
apartments in Avenue A in a way that could not be tracked.

Patsy, by questions, soon settled that the house which Lannigan had
entered was the tenement house in which Spike had his rooms, and said so
positively.

“Then,” said Nick, “it is settled. Lannigan entered that house to steal
from Spike Thomas what Spike Thomas in the afternoon stole from
Lannigan.”

The two then told to Chick that which had been learned from Spike Thomas
and Bally Morris, and together the two stories made a complete one.

“Are you satisfied,” asked Nick, “that Lannigan carried those drawings
and the model to his rooms?”

“Yes,” said Chick. “Now, with what you tell me, I know that they are in
Lannigan’s rooms at this moment. What has bothered me all night, and why
I clung to him so, giving you the trail, was that I knew he was up to
some game that was important, but I couldn’t tell what. You see, I never
knew that Lannigan suspected Spike Thomas of that theft, nor that you
did. You sent me off on the trail of Lannigan before I had learned that.
I was beginning to fear you would not pick up my trail, and when I heard
Patsy’s signal, was going to chance a rush into Lannigan’s rooms.”

“We’ll make the rush now,” said Nick.

“Where is the unknown?” asked Patsy.

Chick laughed.

“He’s lying under the stairs, at the rear of that house on the corner,
bound and gagged.”

“Why?” asked Patsy and Nick together.

“You see, it’s like this,” said Chick, laughing. “After I had tracked
them to that corner and saw them both go into the house, I sneaked into
that back yard, and was going to try the stairs, when I struck the
unknown coming down. It was him or me right on the jump. I was afraid he
would give the alarm, and I gave him the garrote so that he couldn’t
holler. I went through him to see if he had anything we wanted, and,
finding nothing, I tied him up and put a gag on him and threw him under
the stairs, where he couldn’t make any trouble for a while.”

“Come on, boys,” said Nick. “We’ve got no time to lose.”

The three detectives hurried to the corner, and entered the barroom,
stopping only long enough for Nick to say to the barkeeper:

“I am Nick Carter. These are my two aids, Chick and Patsy. We’re going
upstairs, and if you give so much as a whistle of alarm, it will be all
day with you. Do nothing, say nothing, and stay right here.”

The three then rapidly passed through the door into the hall, and so
upstairs to the second floor. Here Nick said:

“Go to that front door in the hall. When I whistle, break it in. Patsy,
follow me.”

Chick did as he was directed, and Nick, followed by Patsy, went to that
door which led from the hall into the bedroom.

Together both placed their shoulders to the door, and, exerting their
united strength, burst it open with a crash.

They sprang into the room, with a loud whistle from Nick, and had hardly
landed on their feet when they heard the crash of the door burst in by
Chick.

Lannigan was in bed, and he sprang up into a sitting position with an
oath.

He seemed to take in the situation instantly, for he reached under his
pillow with both hands, and drew forth two revolvers, both of which he
leveled at the two intruders, discharging them at once.

The balls went wide of the mark, doing no damage to either Nick or
Patsy.

Lannigan immediately sprang out of bed to his feet in another effort,
but as he raised his arms to level his revolvers again, Chick burst
through the door leading into the front room, and, springing forward,
struck Lannigan on the head with the butt end of his revolver.

He did not prevent Lannigan from discharging his revolvers again, but he
did prevent him from taking true aim, and thus, for a second time, the
balls went wide of the mark.

Chick attempted to take the revolvers from Lannigan, and succeeded in
wrenching one from him.

The other one, however, Lannigan was desperately endeavoring to use, and
this time on Chick.

The bed was between Chick and Lannigan on the one side and Nick and
Patsy on the other.

Patsy sprang on the bed to cross it to go to Chick’s assistance, while
Nick attempted to pass around the foot of the bed.

Grappled by one, with two approaching him from different directions,
Lannigan, for a brief instant, seemed to hesitate on which he should use
his revolver.

The hesitation was fatal to him, for, as a matter of fact, in his doubt
he aimed nowhere, discharging it between Nick and Patsy.

The next moment Patsy had seized his arm that held the revolver, and,
with a quick wrench, he took it from his hand.

Without weapons, Lannigan made even then a desperate effort at a fight.

He was a powerful man, with muscles like steel, wiry and active. But he
was not a match in strength or skill for even Chick, and when Patsy’s
strength was added, he was as a child between them.

The two threw him over on the bed, where they held him down.

“You’d better give up,” said Nick. “You’re done, and you can’t make any
fight. You’ve lost the game. It’s all up with you.”

“Who are you?” panted Lannigan. “What do you want?”

“Those drawings and the model that you stole from Mr. Herron’s house
night before last, which were stolen from you by Spike Thomas yesterday
afternoon, and which you stole from Spike Thomas this morning.”

Lannigan stared at Nick, leaning carelessly over the foot of the bed,
and breathed rather than said:

“You must be Nick Carter.”

“You’re quite right, Lannigan,” replied Nick, with a smile. “Where are
those papers?”

“They’re not here,” replied Lannigan, “and you’re vastly mistaken if you
think I will tell you where they are.”

“Roll him over, Chick,” said Patsy.

The two rolled Lannigan over to the other side of the bed, and Patsy,
thrusting his hand under the sheet, pulled out a flat bundle of papers
he had felt when they had thrown Lannigan on the bed.

He handed them over to Nick, who laughed as he said:

“Here they are.”

But Lannigan swore like a trooper.

Nick looked them over carefully, comparing them with the list Mr. Herron
had given him, and said:

“The drawings are all here except one.”

“And here is that one,” said Patsy, taking it from his pocket. “I found
it on the roof of this house yesterday afternoon.”

Nick took it, remarking that it made the set complete, and added:

“Now for the model.”

He began a search of the rooms, and finally, turning to the two, who
were holding Lannigan, said:

“Handcuff that man and tie his ankles, while we search for that model.”

This was done, and the three began an exhaustive search of the rooms,
which ended in finding the model, badly broken, in a pasteboard hatbox
in the bottom of a closet, covered with clothes.

“I think this can be patched up by a skillful man,” said Nick, after
examining the model. “At all events, we have got all that we started out
to get. Now, then, loose that man’s feet and we will take him around to
the station house and lodge a complaint against him.”

By this time Lannigan seemed to realize that the game was up, as far as
he was concerned, and he tamely submitted.

“Chick,” said Nick, when they were on the sidewalk, “you’d better get
your man that you laid away on the stairway.”

Chick, followed by Patsy, went to get the unknown, but on arriving there
found that he was no longer there.

Whether he had succeeded in getting loose from his bonds and gags, or
whether some one had found him there and had released him, could not be
told.

He was gone, and, so far as Nick Carter and his aids were concerned, he
was never seen in New York again.

The three detectives then went to Mr. Herron’s house and delivered to
him the drawing and the model.

That same day both Seaman and Elwell were arrested for complicity in the
burglary. They easily obtained bail, and when the trial came off escaped
punishment for the want of sufficient evidence to connect them directly
with the crime.

The jewelry and silver plate taken by Lannigan and the unknown, who
remains unknown to this day, were recovered from the fence in Hunter’s
Point, which was searched on Patsy’s suggestion. So that Mr. Herron’s
loss in the end was little or nothing.

Ida was not compelled to play the part set for her, but Mrs. Pemberton
allied herself to Mr. Herron’s interest on receiving another check for
$10,000, the payment of the one Elwell had stolen being stopped at the
bank.

Since that time, she has taken out the patents which secured to herself
and Mr. Herron the control of the important invention, and a company has
been organized, with Mr. Herron at the head, to put it into execution.



CHAPTER XIV.

A MYSTERIOUS WARNING.


As for Lannigan, the swell cracksman of Philadelphia, Nick had conceived
an idea that there was real worth in the man, despite his bad record.

He had a long talk with him, in which he pointed out that a trial could
not but result in imprisonment.

“I am absolutely sure,” Nick declared, “that if I brought you into
court, you would spend the next half a dozen years in jail. There is no
reason why I should let you go free, except that I believe you could be
a wonderfully brilliant man and a good citizen if you liked. I am going
to give you that chance. You are free to go--no, no, don’t make any
protestations. Get out of here as quick as you like and become an honest
man. Let me warn you, however, that if I ever catch you engaged in any
crooked work again, I will see that your due punishment is meted out.
Now go.”

The man slunk away with a hunted expression in his eyes.

Little did Nick guess that within a very little while he would be on the
track of Lannigan again.

He was sitting at breakfast one morning, when the first mail arrived,
bringing with it the following singular letter, unsigned:

     “‘You are a friend of Sanborn. I’ll give you a tip. His daughter is
     to be married. The presents will be many and of value, and, on the
     day of the wedding, the house will be raided. A word to you is
     sufficient.’”

Nick carefully read the letter, even studied it, and the paper on which
it was written. But he gained nothing from such examination.

A close inspection of the envelope showed that it had been deposited in
the general post office before six o’clock on the previous evening.

While the letter did not specify which Sanborn it was, and while a
hundred of that name, perhaps, were to be found in the directory, Nick
had no doubt that Harmon Sanborn was the one meant.

Harmon Sanborn was a very rich man, worth many millions, and in very
active business life. The relations between this multi-millionaire and
the famous detective were close, having been begun several years before
when Nick was retained to trace a peculiar defalcation occurring in one
of the many business enterprises of Sanborn.

Nick knew that Mr. Sanborn had more than one daughter unmarried, but he
had not heard that the wedding of one was about to take place, as his
anonymous letter indicated.

Chick was sitting nearby, wondering whether Lannigan would ever cross
his path again, and inwardly chafing because of his chief’s generosity
in not pressing charges against the fellow.

He was aroused from his reverie by Nick’s asking:

“Chick, you know Harmon Sanborn, of course. Have you heard that one of
his daughters is to be married?”

“Why, yes,” replied Chick. “There’s been a great deal in the newspapers
about it.”

“Which daughter is it?”

“The eldest.”

“Whom is she to marry?”

“A young Englishman who has been in this country for some years, and who
is said to be related to some of the noble families on the other side.”

“Has there been much said about presents?”

“Yes; half the millionaires of the country are giving diamonds and
emeralds and what not to the bride.”

Nick handed the anonymous note that had reached him in that morning’s
mail to Chick, asking:

“What’s your idea about that, Chick?”

Chick read the note carefully, and said:

“No name. It’s queer. I hardly know what to say about it. Yet, I think
I’d act on it.”

“As a matter of prudence?” asked Nick. “When does this wedding take
place?”

“At noon to-day.”

Nick looked at his watch.

“It is nine now,” he said. “There is plenty of time to take measures, if
such are necessary. I wonder where Sanborn is at this time?”

“At his house, probably, on such a day,” replied Chick.

“Probably.”

Nick went to the telephone, and, calling up Mr. Sanborn at his home
address, finally got into communication with him.

Asking Mr. Sanborn whether he would remain at his home for a short time,
he received the answer that the millionaire would remain at his house
until noon, when he would leave it only to go to the church to be
present at the marriage ceremony of his daughter.

Nick told him that he had a matter of some possible interest to Mr.
Sanborn, of which he could not speak over the wire, but that he would
call upon him at once.

Asking Chick to accompany him, the famous detective immediately set out
for the palatial residence of the rich man, which fronted on Central
Park.

Reaching the house, the two detectives were immediately taken to a room
on the first floor, which Mr. Sanborn used as his working room when at
home.

“I don’t know,” said Nick to the millionaire, “but that I am bringing a
mare’s nest to you. This came to me in the morning’s mail. I know no
more than that.”

He passed the letter he had received to Mr. Sanborn.

That gentleman, after reading it carefully, laid it down, saying:

“Well, it tells some truths. That I’m a friend of yours, Mr. Carter, is
one truth, and the other is, that the presents are many and, in the
main, pretty valuable. My little girl has been greatly favored by my
friends and associates in business. What is your opinion about it?”

“It seems to be a note of warning,” replied Nick, “and I suppose
prudence suggests that you should take measures, at all events, to
protect the presents.”

“Well,” said the millionaire, “these newspapers have been advertising
the number and kind of presents in the most annoying manner. Those who
would do such a thing as steal them have had all the knowledge they
could want of them reading those papers. And there is this thing, a very
great number of invitations for the reception, after the wedding in the
church, have been issued. I presume the house will be thronged this very
afternoon, even overcrowded.”

“Under such circumstances,” said Chick, “it would be easy for swell
crooks to push their way into the house. Many of the best, who do this
kind of work, are women who can make a front, so far as dress goes, with
the best ladies in the land.”

“What arrangements have you made, Mr. Sanborn?” asked Chick, “to guard
your house during this pressure?”

Mr. Sanborn looked up, a little surprised, and said:

“I must confess that I have made none. Indeed, I gave it no thought.”

He laughed a little as he continued:

“All this is new business to me, and I have done nothing but blunder in
it from the start. I can run a railroad, two or three of them, perhaps,
but a wedding seems to be a little too much for me.”

The two detectives laughed not a little over this confession, and Nick
said:

“It is not too late for you to make arrangements yet, Mr. Sanborn, and
you should do so without delay.”

“Yes,” put in Chick, “don’t make any mistake about thinking that the
gang don’t know of this wedding and the valuable presents. Nor to the
other thing, that you have made no provision to protect them.”

“Do you mean,” asked Mr. Sanborn, “that thieves would know that I have
not done so?”

“Sure,” said Chick.

Nick nodded his head emphatically in support of his assistant’s
statement.

Mr. Sanborn was visibly annoyed and perplexed. Finally, he turned
sharply to Nick and said:

“I say, why can’t you take charge of this thing and do what is proper.”

Nick smiled a little as he replied:

“We could do so, but it is hardly in our line. This work, as a rule, is
done by the officers of the Central Detective Office. What surprises me
is that they have waited there for you to ask them. Usually, on such
occasions, they come to ask what provisions you desire to have made.”

Mr. Sanborn frowned and looked rather grave. Then he replied:

“I could give you the reason why they have not done so, Mr. Carter, if I
thought it wise to do so. While it is not in your line, is it too much
to ask you to take charge for me to-day?”

“It is not too much for you to ask, Mr. Sanborn, in view of our
friendship and relations, though it might be for others. Under all the
circumstances, if you desire us to do so, we will take charge to-day
and carry the thing through.”

“Do so,” replied Mr. Sanborn, his face lighting up, “and you will lift a
heavy load off my shoulders.”

“Then,” said Nick, “we will begin without delay.”

He went to the telephone that was in Mr. Sanborn’s room, and, calling up
Patsy, told him to dress himself as if he were going to a fashionable
morning wedding, and to report as soon as he could to Mr. Sanborn’s
house, where he would find either Chick or himself, or both, to explain
matters to him.

He then sought Ida, and, getting her, told her the same thing as he had
told Patsy.

Turning from the telephone, Nick said to Chick:

“I think, Chick, you had better go and rig yourself for this thing. Put
yourself in your best shape, for you will have to mix with the guests as
one of them.”

Chick went away, replying that he would return within an hour.

He had not been away more than five minutes, when a card was brought to
Mr. Sanborn with the word that the caller had come from the Chief of the
Detective Bureau.

“A little late, perhaps,” said Mr. Sanborn, “but they are here with
their offer of protection.”

He was about to turn to the servant and tell him that all provision had
been made, and that the services of the Detective Bureau would not be
required, when Nick stopped him.

“Wait one moment, Mr. Sanborn,” said Nick. “Let that man come in here
and let’s have a look at him. The tricks of these fellows are many and
shrewd.”

Mr. Sanborn was again about to instruct the servant to that end, when
Nick stopped him a second time.

“Don’t be so hasty,” said Nick. “I don’t want you to offend the
Detective Bureau, if the call is a straight one. And, if it is not a
straight one, I don’t want the fellow calling to recognize me. Where can
I conceal myself and yet see him and what is going on?”

Mr. Sanborn went to a corner of the room, and, drawing out a large and
costly screen, placed it so that one window was concealed by it.

“I have this screen so that I can throw up the window and get the fresh
air without its blowing on me. You can sit behind that and be perfectly
concealed, hearing everything, and for seeing, why, you can cut a hole
through it.”

“Rather a valuable thing to cut a hole into,” said Nick, as he looked
behind it.

“Oh, that’s all right,” said Mr. Sanborn. “I fancy if I were to try hard
I could buy another.”

“Now, then,” said Nick, “listen to what this man has to say, and if you
hear three taps behind this screen, that I shall make by rapping my
penknife on the back of the chair, you say to the caller that you will
be very glad to have the Detective Bureau send three men in plain
clothes.”

Nick looked around the room, and seeing that he could step out through
the window into another room, said:

“But if you hear me whistle a bar or two of any tune, in the next room,
say positively that all provision has been made and the services of the
bureau will not be required.”

Nick now placed himself behind the screen, and a moment later the man
who had presented his card was brought into the room by the servant.

He told his story to the millionaire glibly, and had hardly finished it
when some one in the adjoining room whistled the tune of a popular air.

Whereupon Mr. Sanborn very sharply said that the bureau’s services were
not required, and he imagined that none of his guests were going to rob
him on such an occasion.

The man calling tried to persuade Mr. Sanborn that he was running a
great danger, but Mr. Sanborn would have nothing of it, and cut the
interview short rather arrogantly:

There was nothing for the man to do but to leave, and so he went out of
the house.

Nick returned to the room, saying:

“I supposed,” he said, “that I would recognize any one the Detective
Bureau might be likely to send to you. But what I did recognize at a
glance was that this man, who has just left us, is one of the most
dexterous crooks, who works in large cities. He is a Philadelphia man,
and I am sure he is the one who conducted those robberies at the great
receptions last winter in Washington.”

“Then,” said Mr. Sanborn, “you believe your note of this morning was a
good warning?”

“I must,” replied Nick, “under the circumstances, and I will be prepared
to meet any effort made to-day.”

Mr. Sanborn, after producing a box of cigars, said to Nick:

“I must go and prepare for this affair. I shall leave you here to do as
you see fit. If you desire to see me at any time, call a servant and
send for me.”

He went out of the room. Nick took up a book and sat himself down to
await the arrival of his assistants.

The first to arrive was Patsy, who, on appearing at the door, was at
once taken to the room where Nick was waiting.

As he entered, Nick looked up in genuine surprise. Patsy had made the
effort of his life, and would have been taken, in the care and
correctness of his dress, for one of the fashionable swells of the city.

“You do me proud,” said Nick. “I was going to do something of that
myself, but, after looking at you, I’m afraid I’ll never be able to get
to that perfection.”

“Oh,” replied Patsy, a little embarrassed under his chief’s teasing, “I
guess I know how to get myself up to do credit to my chief. I’m only
obeying orders, though.”

“As you always do, Patsy,” replied Nick. “You’ve obeyed orders to the
very letter.”

Nick now got up, and, taking his hat, said:

“I’m going away to try to rival your elegance. Now, Patsy, I leave you
in charge, and you must keep a good watch over the house. Already an
effort has been made by Lannigan----”

“What, is that man at work again?” cried Patsy. “I thought you had
frightened him off.”

“I thought so, too, but you know a leopard can’t change his spots.
Lannigan is supposed to have made an attempt to get into the house, but
failed, and escaped before he could be captured again. I fancy he is
again employed by somebody who knows his ability as a cracksman; so if
you spot Lannigan, keep close to him and see where the trail leads.”

He then told Patsy in detail what had already passed, and added a word
of warning that, if the Detective Bureau did send a straight person
there, Mr. Sanborn was not to be allowed to offend them by driving them
off.

As Nick was about to leave the house, Chick and Ida arrived in quick
succession, and he stopped long enough to instruct them and post them in
their proper places.

He went down the steps, walking toward the corner. There he saw Lannigan
at a distance talking with another, who, leaving Lannigan, jumped into a
cab and was driven away rapidly.

Lannigan turned in another direction and disappeared, despite Nick’s
efforts to keep him in sight.

“Where have I seen that man who was with Lannigan? His face is familiar,
but I can’t place him.”

Dismissing the matter for the time, however, he hurried home to prepare
himself to figure as one of Mr. Sanborn’s guests at the wedding.



CHAPTER XV.

A MISSING BRIDEGROOM.


When Nick returned to the house of Mr. Sanborn, it had already taken on
a festive air.

The decorators had completed their labor and the florists had, at last,
taken themselves off.

It was not long after Nick had returned that the bridal party set out
for the church.

Within a few minutes three men made their appearance and said that they
had come from the Central Detective Office, under the instructions of
the authorities, to take charge of the house in the absence of Mr.
Sanborn and his family.

Nick was called to the door by the servant. Listening to the story of
the man presenting himself, he said:

“You are not of the detective force. Get away from here, and, if you
make another attempt to enter, I will take you in.”

The men, evidently astonished, hurried away with such haste as to show
that their reception was unexpected.

After they had gone Nick said to Chick:

“That is the second attempt that has been made to enter the house, the
same means being used, the pretense that they are police detectives.”

“They will make another attempt,” said Chick.

“Yes,” replied Nick, “but it will be in a different way. They will
hardly try the same thing again.”

“They seem to be pretty determined,” replied Chick.

“The haul is a big one, if they can make it,” replied Nick. “We must
post Patsy at this door, and I will instruct the servants, on no
account, to allow any one to pass the doors until the return of the
wedding party, unless one of us is called.”

“There is a good deal of going in and out of the basement door in the
rear of the house,” said Chick. “I fancy that I had better post myself
down there for the present.”

“It is a good plan,” said Nick. “Where are the presents displayed?”

“On the second floor in a rear room,” replied Chick. “Finding that out,
while you were gone, I put Ida in that room to maintain a close watch.”

“It could not have been better,” replied Nick.

Thus they waited, but not for long, before there was another diversion.

A florist wagon drove up rapidly to the door with two men in it. Hardly
had they stopped and gotten down from it, than a third man rushed up in
great haste.

Throwing open the rear doors of the wagon, the three took out a variety
of flowers and ascended to the top of the steps, ringing the bell
hurriedly.

The doorman threw open the door, and one man, rushing through, with his
arms full of flowers, said:

“These are for the rear room on the second floor. Come along, men. Bring
those other flowers quick.”

Patsy stepped forward and said:

“What is this?”

“We are very late, we know,” replied the man, “but Mr. Sanborn did not
order these flowers until this morning.”

“Mr. Sanborn never ordered them,” cried Patsy.

“Do you know all that Mr. Sanborn does,” replied the man, rather
indignantly.

In the meantime, the other two men had pushed forward and the three now
tried to go by Patsy.

“Stand back,” said Patsy. “You can’t go by here. Now get out.”

“We’re goin’ to do what we were paid to do,” said the leader, “and you
mustn’t stop us.”

Nick, upstairs, hearing the altercation, hurried forward. He was about
halfway down the stairs when he saw Patsy catch the leader by the throat
with both hands, and pushing him against the others, shove all of them,
with their flowers, out through the door.

“Take ’em in,” cried Nick. “That’s the third attempt they’ve made.”

One of the men whom Patsy had shoved out, hearing the voice within,
turned and caught a glimpse of Nick, who had reached the door by this
time. He dropped the flowers on the stoop, running down hastily, at the
same time crying out:

“It’s Nick Carter!”

With this, the other two dropped their flowers, and, jumping for the
wagon, clambered into it, to be driven away in hot haste.

“That is the third attempt, Patsy,” said Nick. “I don’t think they will
attempt it again. If there is another attempt, it will not be until
after the house is filled up with guests.”

Nick was right, for no other efforts were made during the time the
bridal party was away.

It was after one o’clock before the bride and bridegroom, with the
guests bidden to the wedding breakfast, returned to the house. And it
was fully two hours later before the guests to the reception began to
arrive.

While keeping close watch on all those who entered, Nick Carter and his
aids, nevertheless, kept themselves out of sight as much as possible.

Nick had taken for his own post the hallway on the second floor leading
to the room where the presents were.

A room in the front of the house on that floor had been set apart for
the use of the groom, and, after the breakfast was over and the
reception was about to take place, the groom, whose name Nick had
learned was Mr. Norman Ellison, entered that room for a short time.
Coming from it, he met Nick, face to face, at the door.

There was something strangely familiar to Nick in the face of the groom.
For a moment it occurred to him that it was some other person than Mr.
Ellison. With the recognition, recollections of London were presented to
the mind of Nick.

On the part of Ellison, on meeting Nick Carter, there was an
unmistakable start and an expression of surprise on his face.

The young man regained possession of himself, however, instantly, and
advancing with a pleasant manner to Nick, extended his hand, saying:

“The celebrated Mr. Carter, I presume.”

Nick bowed, making no reply.

“I was a little astonished at seeing you here, until I recollected that
Mr. Sanborn told me that he had secured your services this morning.”

He laughed a little and went on:

“All these things seem to be necessary at modern weddings. Mrs. Ellison
tells me that her father forgot all about making the provision until
this morning.”

This was all so true that Nick laughed with the groom, and answered that
Mr. Sanborn had even neglected to take the proper precautions until
after he, Nick Carter, had warned him that an attempt would be made to
steal the jewels, of which he, Nick Carter, had had intimation.

The groom looked keenly into the eyes of Carter as he said these things,
but merely remarked:

“That is serious.”

Then hastily saying:

“But I must not linger here and keep the bride waiting,” he ran down the
stairs.

Nick turned away, his mind busy with recollections of London. The face
of the young man, Ellison, was familiar to him.

It was one of Nick’s characteristics that he never forgot a face that he
had once regarded earnestly. In fact, his memory in this respect was
actually an embarrassment to him, for in his travels in many parts of
the world he had met faces that had attracted him, or, under
circumstances, had impressed them on his mind which were by no means
associated with his business. Something of this he expressed in the
words he muttered to himself:

“This habit of suspicion is all very well, but I am letting it run away
with me. Because I have seen this young fellow’s face before is no
reason why I should suspect him of anything.”

He walked off toward the room over which Ida was on guard.

In the meantime, Ellison had descended the stairs, and, at the foot of
it was met by a servant, who stopped him, speaking in a low tone of
voice.

This was observed by Patsy, who, standing near the doorman, asked what
servant it was, since he had not seen him before.

The reply was that it was Mr. Ellison’s own servant, his valet.

Whatever was communicated by this servant to the young man, at least it
gave no little concern to him.

He knitted his brows, bit his lip and looked down on the floor in
thought for a moment.

Then he said to the servant:

“Take him into some room where I can see him alone. I will excuse myself
to the bride for a moment or two.”

The two turned away, the servant to run downstairs into the basement,
and the young man to push his way through the hall to a rear room on the
first floor.

All this time the guests were arriving in increasing numbers for the
reception, but the bride and groom, however, had not yet taken their
places in the great parlor, where Mr. and Mrs. Sanborn were already in
place.

Patsy, watching, saw the servant of Ellison come up the stairs from the
basement, leading a man who was carrying his hat with him, and who wore
a long cape overcoat.

This man was ushered by the valet into a small room at the extreme end
of the hall. Then the servant returned to the bridegroom.

Together, the two entered this small room, as Patsy could very well see.

Only a moment or two elapsed before the stranger, who had called on the
bridegroom at such an inopportune time, came out of the room,
accompanied by the valet, who led him downstairs into the basement
again, and, of course, out of sight.

Something occurring at the door attracted Patsy’s attention for a
moment, so that he did not see Mr. Ellison emerge from that room.

The house was gradually becoming filled, and the ways of the stairs and
the hall much crowded.

By and by Patsy became conscious that something extraordinary had
occurred. In a few moments he saw Nick Carter hurriedly descend the
stairs and push his way through the hall into the parlor.

While wondering what had occurred, he saw Chick push his way through the
hall toward him. Reaching him, Chick bent over and said:

“The work has begun, Patsy. Get into that room, the third down on the
right.”

“They haven’t nipped some of those jewels, have they?” asked Patsy,
eagerly.

“Oh, no,” said Chick, moving off, “it’s worse than that.”

Patsy threaded his way through the throng, and entered the room spoken
of by Chick.

There he found the bride in hysterics, being cared for by her
bridesmaids and an elderly woman, whom he recognized to be Mrs. Sanborn.

Nick was already there in close conversation with Mr. Sanborn, and, a
moment later, Chick entered.

Patsy looked around for some explanation of the singular scene, but
could find none.

Presently Nick beckoned him, and, as he approached, said:

“Perhaps Patsy can tell us something. Mr. Sanborn, this is one of my
valued aids, Patsy Murphy.”

Mr. Sanborn, extending his hand, took that of Patsy’s, and the young
detective felt that it was trembling with agitation.

“Patsy,” said Nick, “the bridegroom has mysteriously disappeared. The
house has been searched and he cannot be found. Did you see him pass out
of the door you were guarding?”

“No,” replied Patsy, “he did not pass out of that door.”

“Nor did he go out through the door that Chick was guarding,” said Nick.

“Say,” said Patsy, “who made the search of the house?”

“Some of Mr. Sanborn’s people,” replied Nick, “and a nephew of Mr.
Sanborn.”

“Say, chief,” said Patsy, “I saw something. Where is Mr. Ellison’s
valet?”

“What was it you saw?” asked Nick.

“I saw Mr. Ellison come down the stairs. His valet met him at the bottom
of the steps and whispered something to him. Then Mr. Ellison told him
to take a man into a room where he could see him alone, while he himself
came into this room to excuse himself to the bride.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Sanborn, “that’s what he did, saying that he would not
delay the bride but a minute.”

“Then,” said Patsy, “I saw the valet come to the door of this room for
him and take him to meet the stranger.”

“A stranger?” said Nick, sharply.

“Anyhow,” said Patsy, “he didn’t look like a guest, for he wasn’t rigged
for it, and he had on a long cape coat. But, anyhow, it wasn’t a minute
after they went in before the man in the big cape coat came out and was
taken downstairs by the valet.”

“Did you see Mr. Ellison come out of that room?” asked Nick.

“No,” replied Patsy, “I did not.”

Chick, who had been standing within hearing, now said:

“I saw such a man go out of the door below.”

“Mr. Ellison said,” put in Mr. Sanborn, “when he came into this room to
ask my daughter to wait a moment, that he was called to a matter of
immense personal importance.”

Mrs. Sanborn at this moment called her husband to her, and Patsy, taking
the arm of Nick, asked:

“What is it all about?”

“Mr. Ellison, the bridegroom, has singularly disappeared,” said Nick,
“or is missing.”

“Do they think he has skipped?” asked Patsy.

“They do not say so,” replied Nick. “But it looks that way to me.”

“But,” put in Chick, “nobody saw him leave the house, and it is believed
he is stowed away somewhere in it.”

“Well, look here,” said Patsy. “I’ve got a pointer. Look for the feller
the valet brought in. And look for the valet himself.”

“What are you getting at?” asked Nick.

“Well, I’ve only just tumbled now,” said Patsy, “but when that big cape
coat went out of the house, it didn’t have the same man inside of it
that it had when it came in.”

“You mean?” asked Nick.

“I mean that Mr. Ellison went out of the house in that big cape coat. I
recollect now thinking how much bigger the man appeared going out than
when he came in.”

“Good boy, Patsy,” said Nick. “You’ve answered one question right away.”

Turning to Chick, he said:

“Now, Chick, go through the house and make a thorough search for the
valet.”

He stopped a moment, and then said to Patsy:

“Patsy, go into that room where you saw the man taken and see what you
see there. Anyhow, look for the man that stayed behind.”

The two assistants dashed out of the room and began their respective
duties.

It soon became apparent to Chick that the valet of Mr. Ellison had
disappeared with his master.

As for Patsy, on entering the room, the first thing that attracted his
attention was an open window.

Going to the window and looking out, he saw that it would not have been
very much of a drop for a man to let himself out of it.

Leaning out he saw that there was a gate in the fence that led to the
cross street, for Mr. Sanborn’s house was on the corner.

He heard a voice, and, looking up, saw a man at the open window of a
house fronting on the cross street, but which looked out upon the yard
in the rear of Mr. Sanborn’s house.

The person opposite was a very young man, not more than a boy. He asked
if Patsy were looking for anybody.

“Yes,” replied Patsy, “I am. Have you seen him?”

“I saw a man drop out of that window,” said the young lad, “and go out
of the gate into the street.”

“What sort of a looking man was he?” asked Patsy.

“He wasn’t a very big man,” replied the lad, “but he had black whiskers
all around his face and long black hair.”

“That’s my man,” replied Patsy. “Was anybody with him?”

“I didn’t see anybody,” replied the lad; “he went into the street
through that door in the fence. He had no hat on. Did he steal
anything?”

“Great Scot, no!” said Patsy. “His skipping was only a joke.”

Patsy left the window, for he had found out all he could hope to learn.

It was clear to him that Mr. Ellison had taken the man’s coat and hat
and left the house, his valet being in the scheme.

Mr. Ellison once out of the house safely, the man who had come to see
him had taken his chances for escaping in a bolder and more dangerous
manner.

He went back to Nick and reported what he had learned.

“There is no doubt that you have hit the very way in which it was done,”
replied Nick. “Chick reports that the valet has made his disappearance
as well. The question is now, why have these two men fled? There is a
great mystery here somewhere.”

The assurance that the bridegroom had deliberately fled the house,
within an hour after he had been married, and immediately after the
wedding breakfast, at which he had made a speech expressing his
happiness in securing so lovely a partner for life, by no means
contributed to the peace of mind of the bride.

She fainted away on hearing it, and remained so long in a state of
unconsciousness that the doctor was summoned to attend her.

In the meantime, the guests who crowded the house were wondering over
the extraordinary delay.

Rumors were flying, the chief of which was that the bride had been taken
violently ill. The nephew of Mr. Sanborn, a young man of the same name,
and who alone of the family seemed to keep his head, took advantage of
the rumor and of the fact of the calling of the physician to make it the
excuse for dismissing the guests from the house.

It was not so easily done, but, in the course of an hour, all the
strangers were gotten away, leaving only Nick and his assistants there.

On the first intimation that Ida received that the bride was ill, and
the guests were being dismissed, she cleared the room wherein the
presents were displayed, and, locking the door, sat there to guard the
presents.

Once the house was cleared, Mr. Sanborn pulled himself together and said
to Nick Carter:

“This is a most mysterious affair. I am much humiliated over the action
of the man to whom I had given my daughter. But I am willing to suspend
my judgment until such time as I find whether or not he is really guilty
of wrong. I place this case in your hands and I ask you to unravel the
mystery, and spare no expense in doing so.”

“The case shall be taken up immediately,” replied Nick. “Now, as the
first thing, I wish to call your attention to the fact that one of my
assistants is guarding that treasure above, and I want her relieved at
once. Is there no place here in which they can be placed in safety.”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Sanborn, “there are safes here in which the valuables
may be placed.”

Nick and his assistants superintended the transfer of the jewels from
the room to the safe pointed out by Mr. Sanborn, and, having done so,
Nick said to the millionaire:

“Roughly estimating, I should say that at least there is a million of
value in those jewels and that plate. Your safes are not a sufficient
guard for so much value. Let me urge you to take immediate measures
toward a better care of them.”

With this Nick went away with Chick, Patsy and Ida for a consultation as
to the best means of proceeding to unravel as strange and peculiar a
mystery as they had met with in a long time.



CHAPTER XVI.

MR. ELLISON’S PAST.


Nick and his assistants had returned to Nick’s apartments, which were
not far distant from Mr. Sanborn’s house.

There, settling themselves down to look over the new case on which they
were engaged, the first thing that they were confronted with was a want
of knowledge as to the antecedents of Norman Ellison, who had so
mysteriously disappeared.

“Although Mr. Sanborn,” said Nick, “confided this thing to our hands
immediately, it was no time, when he was so agitated and so anxious over
the condition of his daughter, to ask him the questions which
immediately leaped into my mind. But, what is apparent is, that we
cannot even make a place of beginning until we know more about this man,
Norman Ellison.”

He got up and paced up and down his room for a while, and finally,
stopping at the table, he said:

“His face haunts me. I have seen it somewhere before. Where, I cannot
determine. But it is associated with London, and, not only with London,
but with the Criterion restaurant, in Piccadilly. But it is all so vague
that I can fix nothing.”

“Well,” said Chick, “Ellison is an Englishman and a Londoner. The
Criterion is one of the chief restaurants of London, and its bar a great
gathering place for the young bloods at night.”

“Yes,” replied Nick, “and I have been there many times. It was there
that I caught Commerville, who had run to England after that big forgery
of his. But I have seen, perhaps, a thousand faces in that place, first
and last, and why should Ellison’s face stick out more prominently than
any of the others, if there was nothing wrong in it?”

Further conversation on this head was stopped by the coming of young Mr.
Sanborn, the nephew of the millionaire.

He was immediately admitted, and told Nick that his cousin, the young
lady who had been married that day, had recovered consciousness, and,
though weak, and much agitated, was yet very desirous of seeing him.

Her father had told her that he has committed a search into the hands of
the famous detective, and had assured her that nothing that brains,
skill, energy and money could accomplish would be left undone to solve
the mystery of the disappearance of her newly-made husband. Learning
this, the young lady was anxious to have a talk with Nick Carter as soon
as she could.

To take the famous detective to her was the reason of young Mr.
Sanborn’s call.

“Mr. Carter,” said the young man, “this match between my cousin and
Ellison was a love match. At all events, it was so on the part of
Elsie.”

“Would you have us understand,” asked Nick, “that it was not so on the
part of Ellison.”

“Oh, no,” quickly responded the young man. “I did not mean to give you
that impression. I have always thought that Ellison was very keen about
this matter from the first time that he met Elsie, which is two years
ago. But he is the typical Englishman, one of the kind that is never
enthusiastic about anything, and who would take his time to turn around
and see what the matter was, if a pound of dynamite was exploded at his
heels.”

“Was this match approved from the beginning by the parents?” asked
Nick.

“By Mrs. Sanborn, always,” replied young Sanborn. “But my uncle never
liked it. His objection was only that Ellison was an Englishman, and, if
not a nobleman himself, was very closely related to those moving in such
circles.”

“Indeed,” continued young Sanborn, “a few deaths, three or four, and
Ellison would come into a title and an estate. That he was a man of only
small property did not weigh so much with uncle as the fact that Elsie
would be taken to England and into a life for which she had not been
trained.”

He laughed a little, and then went on:

“But the objection was not serious, for uncle has never denied Elsie
anything she wanted, and she wanted Ellison very badly. So she married
him.”

“Of course, if Mrs. Ellison wishes to see me,” said Nick, “I will go to
her. But, before I do, I should like to ask you some questions as to
things I must know, if I am to undertake this search.”

“I will answer anything I ought to,” said young Sanborn.

“In the first place, what do you know about Ellison?”

“Well,” replied Sanborn, rather doubtfully, “I know a good deal about
him, and yet I don’t know much.

“I first met him four years ago in London. We were introduced by a
mutual acquaintance, a young Englishman of his walk of life, who had
spent some time in this country, and with whom I was well acquainted.

“I saw a good deal of Ellison in London at that time. He was very nice
to me in showing me around.

“As a matter of fact, he went over to Paris with me, and, on our return,
took me down with him to his relative’s place, the Earl of Kerleigh’s.

“So you see that I know there’s nothing bogus about his position. But he
is one of those fellows, so reserved and so quiet, that you may say you
never know him. I should say, however, that he was as straight as the
majority.”

“When did you next see him?” asked Nick.

“Two years ago,” promptly replied young Sanborn. “He came over here with
a shooting party, and, having written me that he was coming, and with
some fellows of his kind, most of whom I knew, and that they were going
into the West to shoot, I used my influence with my uncle to get up a
special car to take them out there in style.

“When they arrived and found what I had done, they made me go with them.

“Returning to New York, I did the best I could to entertain them, and it
was then that Ellison met Elsie.

“When the party was to start back to England, Ellison said he was going
to remain here. And he did so. He has never been back since.”

“How did he support himself here?” asked Nick.

“Oh, he has an income of his own,” replied Sanborn, indifferently. “I
gave him a few tips occasionally, when I had them, and he did a little
in the street. Not much, for he didn’t go in very heavy. He couldn’t. He
didn’t have the money.”

“What was his life here?” asked Nick.

“All right,” said the young man, “so far as I can tell. He was a member
of a club or two, went into society, was well entertained, and moved
around with the young men of the day.”

“Anything fast in his life?” asked Nick.

“Oh, no. He didn’t plunge any in anything.”

“Was he attentive to Miss Sanborn during all this time?” asked Nick.

“From the first. He asked her to marry him within the first year he was
here, and she referred him to her father. I have told you that Uncle
Harmon didn’t fancy the match, but he had a talk with the young
Englishman, and, as he told me afterward, Ellison came out of the talk
in a straight, manly fashion. In fact, he made a better impression on
uncle in that talk than he had made before. But uncle insisted that,
while they might consider themselves engaged, the wedding should not
take place for a year. And so Ellison settled down in New York for that
year to pass.”

“There doesn’t seem to be much in your tale to give me a hint,” said
Nick. “Now let me ask you a leading question. I beg you will not evade
it through any friendship for Ellison, whom you evidently like, or
feeling of loyalty to your cousin. Here is a mysterious thing in which a
man does the very thing you would expect him not to do, and at the very
time it would be supposed that the object of his life was accomplished,
defeating that object. If I am to solve this mystery, I must find the
reason for it in his life prior to his marriage. It is, therefore, not
idle curiosity that prompts me to ask you.

“Now, then, do you know of anything, even the slightest, irregular,
mysterious or complicating circumstance in the life of Mr. Ellison?”

“Mr. Carter,” said Mr. Sanborn, “if I have asked that question of myself
once to-day, since all this happened, I have asked it twenty times. And
I have been unable to answer it other than that his life has been a
straight, open book.”

He bent his head in thought for a moment or two and continued:

“I see your position and your point. I am earnest and sincere in what I
say. If, when I can give calmer thought to this thing than I have yet
been able to do, and some things occur to me that I cannot now recall, I
promise you that I will come to you with them at once.”

“Very well,” said Nick, “as we seem to have exhausted the subject for
the present, I will go with you to see Mrs. Ellison.”

Telling Chick, Patsy and Ida to remain until he should return, Nick went
off with young Mr. Sanborn to the home of the millionaire.

Arriving, he was taken at once to the apartments of the young lady who,
as he entered, was reclining upon a lounge.

She rose immediately, and, crossing the room to meet him, said:

“Dear Mr. Carter, I want you to understand from the first that I have
every faith in my husband. Don’t let anybody, no matter who, make you
believe that Mr. Ellison is not a good man. I wanted to say this to you
in the beginning. What has occurred, or why he has done this, of course,
I don’t know. But, whatever it is, it has been done because he could not
help himself, not from any intention to leave me. He loves me, I know,
and I know it as well as I know that I love him. I can tell you nothing
to help you in your search, but I did want you to know my faith in him,
and I wanted to see and talk with the man who has my faith and future in
his hands. That is you. Whether life will be of any value to me will
depend entirely on what you do and what you discover. And, having seen
you, I know I can trust you to do all that can be done.”

The young lady had been so earnest and had worked herself up to such a
degree of agitation that, at the conclusion of her words, she swooned
again.

But she soon recovered, and Nick, perceiving that she was again herself,
went downstairs to Mr. Sanborn’s room to have an interview with him.



CHAPTER XVII.

PATSY’S POINTER.


Nick returned to his assistants after his interview with Mr. Sanborn.

He was thoughtful and perplexed.

Mr. Sanborn had been unable to contribute a single idea or additional
bit of information that would help Nick to a starting place.

“In all my experience,” said Nick, “I have never met with just such a
case.

“All that we have is that a man has mysteriously disappeared at a most
unexpected moment, and when his disappearance is likely to lose him all
he had been striving for for two years.

“Those who know the man best, who for two years have been his intimate
associates, cannot even suggest a notion as to what might be the cause
of it.”

“It’s a great big stone wall,” said Patsy, “and we’re up agin’ it with
our noses scratching against the rough edges.”

Patsy’s terse description caused them all to laugh.

“Chief,” asked Chick, “do you think that you know the whole of the life
of this man, Ellison, here in New York for the past two years?”

“Perhaps not so well,” answered Nick, “as I might know if we had made a
careful search into it. But, before Mr. Sanborn consented to his
daughter’s marriage, and, subsequent thereto, he had inquiries made as
to the young man and how he was living, what he was doing, and he became
satisfied that there was nothing wrong in it.”

“Well,” said Chick, “it goes that a man don’t disappear as Ellison did
without a reason.”

“That is true,” said Ida. “Had he left at any other time, or any other
place, there would not have been so much in it.”

“What is your point?” said Nick, stopping in his pacing up and down and
standing before Ida.

“What I mean,” said Ida, “is this. If Mr. Ellison had been in his room,
say three months ago, reading, or smoking, or passing his time away
until bedtime, and had been called upon by some one who came to see him,
and, going out with him, had not returned, it might have been said that
he had allowed himself to drift away without strong reasons. But to
leave a house under the circumstances Mr. Ellison did, within two hours
after his marriage, and just as he was prepared to take his place at the
reception to receive his many wedding guests, shows that there must have
been reasons so strong that he dare not pass them by.”

Nick nodded his head as if agreeing with this, and Chick said:

“And crime of some kind is at the bottom of those reasons.”

Nick turned sharply on Chick and asked:

“What do you suspect?”

“I suspect nothing,” replied Chick. “I am trying to say that nothing but
a crime, or, a wrong, would make a man like Ellison leave as he did.”

“The reasoning is good,” said Nick. “Let us see. The most important
thing that could occur to Ellison, as we know it, is the possible
succession to the title and estate of his family. Now, the Earl of
Kerleigh is alive, and there are three lives between him and Ellison.
Suppose, for instance, that all of those four men were on a yacht and
were drowned at one and the same time. That would make Ellison the Earl
of Kerleigh and change him from an unimportant person to a very
important person in England; in other words, changing the whole course
of his life. It is hard to conceive anything more important to occur to
Ellison. Suppose that the big cape man Patsy saw, brought him that
information. While it would shock and excite him, there could be no
reason why he should not tell his newly-made bride and her family, even
if it were necessary for him to leave on the minute.”

“And that,” said Ida, “forces us to believe that there was some wrong or
some crime back of this hasty departure.”

“I say, chief,” said Patsy, “did any steamer sail to-day since twelve
o’clock?”

Chick jumped for the morning paper and quickly looked at the shipping
news.

“No,” he said, “no steamer left port to-day after twelve o’clock.”

“What time does the next steamer go out?” asked Nick.

“Every one that leaves to-morrow,” replied Chick, “must sail before nine
in the morning.”

“You have made a good suggestion,” said Nick. “I wish, Patsy, you would
take care of that end of it, and see that every steamer is properly
watched to-morrow morning.”

Patsy smiled with pleasure. The chief had acknowledged that he had made
the first practical suggestion in the work.

“It comes down to this,” said Nick, “we must set out upon the theory
that something wrong, some crime, some misfortune, or some complication,
exists in the life of Ellison that is unknown to his best friends.”

“Chief,” said Ida, “I believe that that is to be found not here in this
country, but in England.”

“Since he has lived so good a life here,” said Nick, “it would seem to
be so.”

The famous detective stood still a moment and said:

“I must appeal to my friend, Inspector Mostyn, of Scotland Yard, again.
Chick, write a cable to Mostyn and ask him to send all information that
is queer about Ellison. Tell Mostyn what family he belongs to.”

He turned to Ida and said:

“I don’t suppose there is a man in England who knows as much about the
noble families and their concealed histories as Mostyn does.”

“If you are to have a starting place at all,” said Ida, “I think you
will find it in what Mostyn tells you, and----”

Ida hesitated a moment, and Nick asked:

“And what?”

Ida laughed in a somewhat doubtful manner and replied:

“And I am afraid that you will find that it is something in which one of
my sex is involved. I have noticed that nearly all the trouble which a
sprig of the nobility gets into, is because of some woman.”

There was a tap at the door. Patsy opened it and found there a servant,
who passed in a letter, with the remark that it had just been received.

It was addressed to Nick.

Handing it to Nick, the famous detective opened it and said:

“It is the same handwriting.”

“The same as what?” asked Chick.

“The same writing as the note of warning of this morning.”

Reading it, he passed it to Chick, saying:

“Read it aloud.”

Chick read:

“‘A famous judge, having a man brought before him and listening to the
charge made against him, asked: “Who is the woman?” If you are wise, you
will take this as a pointer for the beginning of your new case.’”

The four detectives looked at each other, and then Nick took from his
pocket the letter of warning of the morning, and together they compared
the handwriting of the two letters.

“It is the same,” said Nick, positively.

“It was written by the same man,” said Chick.

“It is not the writing of a man, but of a woman,” said Ida.

Nick caught the two letters, and, carrying them to the window, where the
light was strong upon them, carefully examined them.

“You are right, Ida,” he said, as he returned to the table. “Though the
character of the writing is heavy and masculine, yet it is clear that a
female hand wrote both notes.”

Chick took them up again and carefully examined them.

“Ida,” said Chick, “while you are undoubtedly right in this, it would
seem to upset your theory that we must look for the reasons of this
mysterious disappearance in the life of Ellison in England, prior to his
coming to this country.”

Ida took up the envelope of the last letter, and, inspecting the
postmark, replied:

“Yes, since a woman is involved, as these letters show, and she is in
this city now. This letter was mailed this afternoon by three o’clock.”

Nick turned with a start.

“By three o’clock?” he asked. “Are you sure?”

Ida handed him the envelope, saying:

“Look for yourself. And it was from the General Post Office.”

“Then,” said Nick, “the writer of this letter knew of the disappearance
as quickly as we did.”

“It’s my guess,” said Patsy, “before.”

“You mean,” said Nick, “that she was a part of it?”

“Perhaps,” said Patsy; “anyhow, she knew it was goin’ to take place.”

“And it is my guess,” said Ida, “that the woman who wrote this letter is
not the woman that Ellison is mixed up with, but is a woman who is in
love with Ellison and who wants to get the other woman in trouble.”

“How in the world do you figure that out?” asked Chick.

“I don’t figure it out,” said Ida. “I’m guessing, like Patsy.”

She looked up at Nick and laughed as she continued:

“It is a guess based on my understanding of my own sex.”

“It is something to pay attention to,” said Nick, “especially in a case
so dark and difficult as this is. But, Ida, if we are to guess on the
probable actions of women, we could do a great deal more guessing.”

“As for instance, how?” asked Ida.

“We might guess that the woman who writes to us wishes to strike the one
Ellison married to-day, and that the job put up was to prevent the
marriage taking place, but that it miscarried.”

“Oh, if you’re going to guess,” said Chick, “you can guess anything, but
the real thing is to find the writer of these letters as a beginning.”

“See here, chief,” said Patsy, “are not we losing sight of one thing in
thinking only of this mysterious disappearance?”

“In what way?” asked Nick.

“Well,” said Patsy, “what was the start of this game, anyhow? Wasn’t it
a warning that the Sanborn house was to be robbed to-day?”

“If you’re never more wrong than you are in that, Patsy,” said Chick,
teasingly, “you’ll always be dead right, my laddy buck.”

“You’re getting gay, Chick,” replied Patsy. “I’ve got a notion in my
think box that I know where the start is in this case.”

The three turned with interest to Patsy, and Chick, inclined to jolly
Patsy, said:

“Expatiate, my brilliant statesman, expatiate.”

Patsy turned to Chick with a merry twinkle in his eye and asked:

“Did it hurt yer much to cough that up?”

“Come,” said Nick, “say what’s in you, Patsy.”

“Well, see here, chief,” Patsy went on. “You say both these letters were
sent by the same person.”

“Yes.”

“Well, the woman, if it is a woman, as Ida says, was dead right, wasn’t
she, when she said it was goin’ to be tried on.”

“You mean the attempt to rob the Sanborn house of the jewels, the
wedding presents?” asked Nick.

“The same,” said Patsy, eagerly. “Well, it was tried on, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Then the moll what wrote this letter knew all about it beforehand,
didn’t she?”

“Yes,” replied Nick, smiling as he recognized that Patsy was slipping
back into his east-side talk as he always did when he grew very earnest.

“Well, then,” continued Patsy, “it goes, doesn’t it, that she must know
the people what was goin’ to work it?”

“Yes,” replied Nick, eagerly, for he saw Patsy was getting to a point.

“And,” went on Patsy, “the moll has given you the warning that there was
a woman behind Ellison’s runnin’ away?”

“Yes.”

“And she must know who that moll is?”

“Yes.”

“And if yer could get on ter her, you’d get a line on the whole biz,
wouldn’t yer?”

“Yes.”

“But the thing is, Patsy,” said Chick, “to get to the woman who wrote
the letters.”

“That’s what I’m gettin’ at,” said Patsy. “The chief knows that the man
Lannigan, the swell cracksman of Philly, led off in this biz of tryin’
ter nip the jewels. And it’s dollars to doughnuts that Lannigan knows
the moll what writ these letters. So, Lannigan is the startin’ point ter
turn the lamps onto.”

Nick brought his hands together with a resounding clap and replied:

“You’ve hit it, Patsy, and you have given us what we have been fishing
for, a starting place. Now, Chick, you and Patsy start right out and see
if you can’t find Lannigan, and put him and his fellows under watch.
Don’t lose them until you know all they’re doing.”

Without waiting for anything else, Chick and Patsy went out.

“I fancy, Ida,” said Nick, “that there will be a good deal of work for
you to do in this case. You had better go home and spend the night in
getting a good rest. What you have to do will depend upon what the boys
will find out to-night.”

Ida went away, and Nick busied himself with a new make-up.



CHAPTER XVIII.

IN THE TENDERLOIN.


Chick and Patsy relied upon their knowledge of the haunts of criminals
and crooks in the city to give them trace of Lannigan.

It was nearly seven o’clock when they left Nick’s apartments.

“I’ll bet you, Patsy,” said Chick, “that the gang working the Sanborn
residence this morning was governed by our old friend Lannigan.”

“I’m thinking so myself,” replied Patsy.

“If that’s so,” replied Chick, “and they’re in the city yet, the place
to find them to-night is in the Tenderloin, where they’ll be rolling
about for a bit of a spree.”

“If they’ve got the price,” replied Patsy. “Their little show didn’t
come off according to the bill of play. They may be broke.”

“Oh,” replied Chick, “they’ve got enough for a roll, and I think the
best place to look for Lannigan is among the music halls.”

“It’s a little early,” said Patsy, “to take up that hunt.”

“Yes,” said Chick, “but that will give us a chance to get something to
eat, and I’ve had nothing since breakfast.”

“I’m with you,” said Patsy.

Accordingly, they turned into a rather well-known eating saloon in
Broadway, not far from Thirtieth Street.

They had not been seated at their table long, before they saw a man
enter who was a prominent member of the police detective force.

His name was Merton, and the two, Chick and Patsy, were on good terms
with him. Attracting his attention, they called him to their table,
asking him to dine with them.

When he was seated, they asked him if he was on any special business.

“A very easy lay,” replied Morton. “A young fellow, from an Eastern
city, who has got more money than brains, is down here on a
high-pressure spree. His folks, who can’t switch him, have appealed to
the department to put him under watch so that nothing bad will happen to
him. That’s my lay. The chief says it’s a kind of a vacation for me.”

“Merton, did you folks have an eye to the Sanborn wedding this morning?”

“In a way,” said Merton. “When the papers put up the story about there
being so much value in the presents that were given to the bride, the
chief had a look over the crooks working in that line to see if they
were going to do anything about it.”

“And they were not?” asked Patsy.

“No; the lads believed there was no use of trying it, because the
presents would be too closely watched and they came to know that the
chief was looking after them, so they steered clear away.”

“Then,” said Chick, “if any one did make the attempt, it was not local
lags.”

“That’s dead certain,” said Merton. “If any one did, they were
outsiders. But did any one try it on?”

“We think they did,” said Chick, cautiously.

“Well, if any one knows anything about it,” said Merton, “you ought to.
You were on guard there.”

“Oh,” said Chick. “You know that, then.”

“Yes,” replied Merton. “The chief was certain that Sanborn would call
Nick Carter in, for he always does that when he has got any work to be
done. That’s why the chief didn’t send anybody there.”

“Well,” said Chick, “Sanborn did not call on the chief. But the chief
got a tip that an effort was going to be made to nip some of those
presents and warned Sanborn only this morning. That’s how we happened to
be there.”

“Say,” asked Merton, suddenly, “what’s that story about the bridegroom,
Ellison, disappearing? Is there anything in it?”

Chick was a little puzzled to know how to meet this direct question. It
had been the hope of Nick and the Sanborn family as well, that the
dismissal of the guests would be attributed to the sudden illness of the
bride, and that, for a time at least, the disappearance of the groom
could be concealed. So he asked:

“What do you know about it?”

“I don’t know anything about it,” said Merton. “But a friend of mine,
who was there as a guest, said he heard Sanborn say something to his
nephew that made him believe that it was the running away of Ellison
from the house that made the bride sick. In other words, my friend
thought that there had been a big quarrel somewhere and that Ellison
left the house in a huff before the reception.”

This was enough to justify Chick in a denial, and he promptly made it.

“Well,” said Merton, “if there was an attempt made on the house, what
gang was it?”

“The chief thinks,” said Chick, “that Lannigan tried to get inside the
house, pretending to be one of your plainclothes men.”

“Lannigan? The man that Nick Carter had his hands on a little while ago
and let him off with a caution. Is it possible that he can be fool
enough to butt himself against the law again?”

“That’s what the chief thinks.”

“Well, I saw Lannigan on the street not an hour ago. You can find him
almost any minute in the Tenderloin somewhere. Both nights that he has
been about here he has had a woman with him, who is as swell as they
make ’em.”

Chick turned to Patsy and said:

“You see, Patsy, my guess was right. The Tenderloin is the place to look
for him.”

“Who is the woman that is traveling with him?” asked Patsy.

“She’s a stunner,” replied Merton. “She’s tall, slim, handsome, with a
face white, like marble, red lips, round blue eyes, and wavy, light
fluffy hair. She is dressed in the highest style. She looks to me like a
lady who is trying to see the wrong side of New York without being in
it.”

Chick and Patsy instantly exchanged glances.

“Are you looking after such a woman?” said Merton.

“The chief wants to know all about such a woman,” said Chick. “He
fancied that she was with Lannigan, and I guess they want evidence for a
divorce suit.”

“I thought Nick Carter never touched such cases,” said Merton.

“Oh,” replied Chick, carelessly, “it’s only my guess, but the work of
Patsy and myself is to get on to this couple, and put them under watch.”

“Then,” said Merton, “the best thing you can do is to travel with me
to-night, for, if they are here in town when the lights are lit, we’ll
run against them for sure.”

Having finished their meal, the three started out on their travels.

Merton had little difficulty in finding the man over whom he had
watched, but the two that Chick and Patsy were anxious to find could not
be found in any part of that gay section of New York.

All places, possible and impossible, open and concealed, were visited,
but no trace of Lannigan could be found. The hours passed and midnight
was nearly reached when Patsy said:

“I’m afraid, Chick, that our man has got out of New York after his
failure to do the work that he came here to do.”

“You mean the robbing of the Sanborn wedding presents?” said Chick.

“Yes,” said Patsy. “Very likely he has got to know that Nick Carter is
on his track again, and he doesn’t want any more hot encounters with the
chief.”

This had passed between Chick and Patsy as they were walking along
Broadway above Thirty-fifth Street.

Suddenly Merton halted the two, and, pointing to the other side of the
street, said:

“There’s your couple now.”

Looking across they saw a man and a woman, both stylishly clothed,
crossing Broadway to the corner on which they stood.

The three, dropping back out of sight, watched them cross. Standing on
the corner for a moment, the two seemed to discuss which way they should
go, then they turned up Broadway.

Following them, the detectives learned that their destination was a
restaurant whose principal business of the twenty-four hours was done
after midnight.

It was the resort of the gay people of the town, and, as other places
darkened, this one became brighter and gayer.

They waited on the outside long enough to make it appear that they had
not followed the pair into the place.

“It was worth waiting for,” replied Chick, “and we’ll probably get a
line on them before we are through with them.”

Finally, Chick said to Merton:

“We’d better go in now.”

He made the motion to lead the way up, when a young woman stepped up,
and, addressing Merton, said:

“Anything for me to do to-night, Mr. Merton?”

“No, Bess, I think not. I haven’t anything on to-night of any
importance.”

The girl stepped away, and Chick asked who she was.

“She is a girl,” said Merton, “who is employed by me a good deal.”

“You use her, then, in your work?”

“Yes; she’s as good as a directory. She knows everybody, who they are
and what they do.”

“Fetch her back,” said Chick. “We’ll take her in, and she may be of use
to us.”

Merton ran after her and brought her back. The four then entered the
restaurant.

The place was already more than half full, and there was some difficulty
in finding a table which was near enough to Lannigan and the woman who
was with him to make observation easy and yet not be too conspicuous.

When, at last, the table was selected, it was found to be well placed
for their purpose.

They not only commanded a good view of the table occupied by Lannigan
and his companion, but of the whole room.

“Chick,” said Patsy, “Lannigan isn’t broke, by any means. He’s doing the
swell caper. Nothing but champagne and Burgundy does him. See him mix
the fizz and the red.”

“Nothing less than seven and a half for that tipple,” said Merton.

“And nothing less than birds, as well,” said the girl Merton had called
Bess.

“His layout will knock spots out of a ten-dollar note,” said Patsy.

“You know who it is?” asked Bess.

“Know the man,” replied Chick; “his name is Lannigan.”

“That’s right,” said Bess.

“Do you know the woman who is with him?” asked Chick.

“No. She was never seen here until three nights ago, and she was with
him then.”

“See here, Bess,” said Merton. “These two friends of mine are on the
same lay that I am. They want to know all about a woman traveling with
Lannigan. I don’t know why, and I ain’t asking. And you don’t want to
ask why, either. But if you can help them, you’ll be helping me.”

“And the price will be the same from me,” said Chick, “as it is from
Merton when you are working for him.”

“The price isn’t much,” said Bess, with a laugh. “It’s only a tenner for
an evening’s work. I think I can help you, but I don’t know. I’ll try.”

“Then I’ll pay you now and take the chances,” said Chick, thrusting a
ten-dollar bill into the hands of the girl.

“Whether I can help you depends whether the girl with Lannigan is known
in Philadelphia, where Lannigan originally came from. A girl will come
in here some time to-night who will know her, if she is known in that
city. If she does, she’ll tell me.”

The little party of four then gave themselves up to the enjoyment of
their supper, which had been ordered by Chick. In the meantime, the room
gradually filled until all the tables were occupied; the place became
redolent with tobacco smoke and gay with the chatter of voices and
laughter.

As they watched the other table, they saw a man make his way through
the room, and, going to Lannigan, lean over him and whisper.

Lannigan seemed to be much annoyed, but, nevertheless, he took a bill
from his pocket and handed it to the man, who went out.

Patsy said to Chick:

“I flung that fellow out of the door at Sanborn’s this morning.”

“Was he the one who came with the flowers?”

“Yes. He’s the one who cried out when he saw Nick Carter.”

“He’s a New York crook,” said Merton.

“A second-story man,” said Bess.

As she said this, she jumped to her feet and began to beckon to some one
who had entered the saloon.

The one to whom she was beckoning was a rather flashily dressed young
woman who was of a party of three women and two young men.

“Hello!” exclaimed Merton. “There’s my man, and since he’s come in, I’m
neglecting no business.”

The party found a table at the other side of the room, which had just
been vacated. The girl whose attention Bess had been trying to attract,
finally, seeing Bess, came over to her and Bess asked:

“Is that party very dear to you, over there?”

“Oh, no,” said the girl. “I’m only trying to make it very dear for the
two willie boys in tow.”

“Are they friends of yours?” asked Bess.

“No; they’re friends of the other two girls. They just roped me in.”

“Shake them and join us,” said Bess. “I want to ask you something.”

The girl went back to the party. Apparently excusing herself, she came
back and sat down at the table as requested by Bess.

“Alice,” said Bess, “look at that man and woman over on that side.”

Bess pointed out the couple the party had under observation.

“Jimmy Lannigan,” said the girl called Alice. “He’s been rolling about
the Tenderloin for three nights. But he’s spending no money except on
the woman that is with him.”

“Do you know who she is?”

“Yes, I do,” replied the girl Alice, with a laugh. “She comes from our
old city, Bessie, and if she keeps this racket up much longer, if there
won’t be a swell divorce case with fine trimmings, I’m no guesser.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Chick.

“The thing with me is,” said Alice, “why the burst hasn’t come long ago.
She is the wife of a rich young fellow in Philadelphia. She is herself
of a good family and she’s going with the best. Her husband is a man
engaged in business and lets her go her own gait, while he is working
night and day to get rich. This young woman has been sporty for two or
three years; but I don’t think she’s guilty of anything worse than a
keen desire to have a good time. She respects the moral code, though she
goes into places which the majority of wives avoid.”

“How is it,” asked Chick, “that she’s in with such a fellow as
Lannigan?”

“I don’t know how to answer that,” said Alice. “I don’t know how much
she knows of Lannigan. But you know Lannigan is very swell. He’s a
handsome fellow, so I suppose that he’s caught her fancy.”

“She’s taking big chances,” said Patsy, “in traveling around with a
fellow so well known as he is.”

“She’s taking big chances all the time,” said Alice. “The wonder is that
she hasn’t been dropped to. Up to two or three months ago she was
traveling around in all sorts of places with a young Englishman. But
then he was one of her kind.”

“You mean,” said Merton, “that he moved in her circle of fashionable
life.”

“Yes,” said Alice, “and there was a lot of talk about her in her own
circle then. I had a friend who was one of the young sports in that
circle who told me all about it. This young Englishman had her out on a
yacht for a week, and her husband never knew anything about it.”

“Not alone?” asked Merton.

“Oh, no,” said Alice, “there was quite a party.”

“When was this?” asked Patsy.

“Let me see,” said Alice. “I can get pretty close to the time. It was
last September.”

“Do you know the name of the young Englishman?”

“No, I’ve forgotten it if I ever heard of it. Anyhow, he was here in New
York and used to run over to Philadelphia to see her.”

“What is her name?”

“Ladew. Her husband’s name is Thomas. That won’t be her name long,”
continued Alice, with a laugh, “if she let’s Jimmy Lannigan show her
around New York very often. She’s taking chances I wouldn’t dare to
take, if I were in her place.”

It seemed to Chick and Patsy as if they had secured all the information
which they were likely to obtain at that time.

Bess looked at Chick meaningly, as if to ask if he had gotten all he
wanted, and Chick nodded in reply.

The conversation was then changed, and Chick gave the signal to Merton
that he would like to get out.

Merton took the lead and the party rose.



CHAPTER XIX.

CHICK’S STRANGE ENCOUNTER.


The three detectives went to the door, but on reaching it, Merton said:

“I think I’ll have to leave you here. My business will make me stay
here, for I see that my man is getting pretty well loaded, and I must
keep an eye on him.”

Chick and Patsy therefore shook hands with him, thanking him for the
assistance he had given them.

While they talked at the door, a young man and a young woman entered
from the street and, walking some distance into the place, suddenly
stopped, peered forward earnestly, and then hastily turning, went out
into the street again.

The action had been observed by Patsy, who made up his mind that they
had seen somebody at the tables they desired to escape. He watched them
go to the corner and engage in earnest conversation.

After a moment, they went under the cover of the corner, where Patsy
could see that she took off her hat.

A moment later, they stepped out again into the light and, to Patsy’s
great surprise, she was a very different looking person.

Before she had been a blonde, and now she seemed to be dark haired.

“She had a wig on,” said Patsy to himself. “Now I wonder what was the
meaning of that?”

The couple stood on the corner a little longer, then the two went to the
curbstone and, entering a hansom cab, were driven off.

Patsy turned to Chick and Merton, who had been conversing while he had
thus been watching the couple, thinking that strange sights were to be
seen in the Tenderloin late at night.

Chick, slipping his arm under Patsy’s, now led him to the sidewalk, and
the two turned down Broadway.

“Well, Patsy,” said Chick. “I don’t know how much we have gained
to-night, but I take it that it is a good deal.”

“Do you think,” asked Patsy, as they walked along, “that the young
Englishman, the girl Alice talked of, was our man Ellison?”

“That notion has got into my head,” said Chick. “And if it is so, it
will be a big opening for us. We’ve got a way of finding out, however,
and that is, by finding if Ellison was on a yachting trip last
September.”

“And,” added Patsy, “whether he was in the habit of running over to
Philadelphia much.”

“That’s so,” said Chick, “I don’t think there is any use of following up
Lannigan and the woman, Ladew.”

“I don’t know about that,” said Patsy. “We might stumble on their
associates if we did.”

“Well,” said Chick, “if that is so, we had better go back and watch the
front of that place to see them come out.”

They had walked along as they had thus talked and had, therefore, gotten
something like two blocks below.

Chick turned about, suddenly, saying:

“You’re right about that, Patsy, and we won’t drop them until we see
where they go.”

They walked back hastily until they reached the corner on which Patsy
had seen the couple that had attracted his attention.

Here they heard a voice calling some one, and, turning to look, saw a
woman beckoning to them from a hansom cab drawn up to the sidewalk.

Although she was in the shadow of the cab, Patsy thought that it was the
one whom he had been watching while at the restaurant door, and who he
had seen put on a wig.

They went to the cab, and the woman, addressing Chick, said to him:

“I want to speak with you a moment, and alone.”

Hearing this, Patsy stepped aside and Chick went up closer.

“I know who you are,” said the woman.

“But I don’t know who you are,” answered Chick.

“It is not necessary that you should,” replied the woman, “and, as a
matter of fact, I don’t intend that you shall.”

Chick looked up at her quickly and saw that the woman was earnest in her
manner, by no means coquettish or trifling. He said:

“What is it you want to say to me?”

“I know that you are one of the assistants of Nick Carter,” the woman
said. “Your name is Chick, and I know that you are looking for Mr.
Ellison, who disappeared so suddenly from the Sanborn house to-day.”

Chick thought rapidly, and concluded that more was to be gained in
admitting the fact than in denying it.

“Won’t you enter this cab and talk with me?” said the young woman.

Giving a signal to Patsy which meant that Patsy was to follow wherever
he went, Chick called out, loudly:

“Good-night, old boy, I’ll see you some time to-morrow.”

He climbed into the cab and took the seat as the young woman made way
for him.

Patsy turned after calling back a good-night and walked hastily up the
street until he reached a dark doorway into which he quickly dodged,
from which point he watched the cab.

“Tell the driver,” said the young woman, “to drive away from here.”

“Where?” asked Chick.

“Anywhere, so that we will not be so conspicuous.”

Chick told the driver to cross Broadway and, driving to Sixth Avenue, to
go down that avenue until the _Herald_ Building was reached.

Having done this, he asked the young woman what was the meaning of her
movements.

“I want you to tell me,” she said, “whether you have found anything
about the whereabouts of Mr. Ellison.”

“No,” replied Chick, “we have only just begun the search.”

“Do you know why he so suddenly disappeared?”

“No,” replied Chick, “if we did, we would not be long in finding where
he is.”

“You will find it difficult to find him. You are following up the Ladew
woman for that purpose.”

Chick turned to look at the woman, but her head was turned away, as if
she was in deep thought. She continued:

“I don’t think you will find much in following her up. He has broken
with her.”

“Then he knew her and was in relation with her?” asked Chick.

“It was only a foolish flirtation on his part,” said the young woman,
and Chick noticed that there was a great deal of bitterness in her tone.

She paused for a moment or two, and then went on:

“The Ladew woman is an eccentric person, and she followed him up so that
he could not get away from her. But he had to break when his marriage
with Miss Sanborn approached; there was a great row.”

By this time Chick was much puzzled to know what relation this woman
bore to Ellison and what her interest in the matter was. The question
entered his mind as to whether or not this was not the woman who had
written to Nick the two letters which had so excited their curiosity.

He knew from what she had said in the beginning that it was useless to
ask who she was, or what her name was, but he determined upon a sudden
and bold play.

“Who were you trying to strike,” he asked, “when you wrote those two
letters to-day to my chief, Nick Carter?”

The young woman started violently, turning to Chick in a frightened
manner.

“What do you mean by that? What letters?”

“The letters which warned the chief that an attempt would be made to rob
the Sanborns and that a woman was at the bottom of Ellison’s
disappearance.”

“How do you know that I wrote them?”

The question was almost gasped out.

“I don’t know,” replied Chick, “but I do know that the chief knows who
wrote them.”

“Does he know me?”

“The chief knows everything,” replied Chick. “No sooner had he received
those letters than he started to find out who wrote them.”

“And he found out?”

“Of course he did.”

“And it was me?”

The woman suddenly laughed a mocking laugh, and Chick knew that whether
the woman had written the letters or not, his play had not counted.

“If you knew as much as all that,” she said, “you would know who I am,
and that’s what you don’t know.”

To this Chick could make no reply, for he felt that though her first
fright indicated that she was indeed the woman who had written the
letters, she had now regained possession of herself and that it was
useless for him to hope to surprise her into an admission. He took
another tack.

“What interest have you got in this matter?” he asked.

“Wouldn’t anybody be interested in so mysterious a thing as happened at
the Sanborns?”

Again she laughed mockingly at Chick.

“How did you come to know me?” asked Chick.

“Are you not a celebrated person, and doesn’t everybody know Chickering
Carter, the great Nick Carter’s chief assistant?”

Chick knew now that the young woman was playing with him, and that he
did not have easy game before him.

“No,” he said, “I am not so celebrated in the circles in which you move
that you would know me.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked the young woman.

“I mean that you saw me for the first time to-day, and that it was at
the Sanborn house where I was on duty and you were there as a guest.”

By the way the young woman took this reply, Chick knew that he had
scored a point, but did not know how much of a one it was.

“Did you see me there?” she asked.

“Not that I recollect,” replied Chick. “Perhaps it is very wrong for me
that I should have failed to observe so charming a person as yourself.”

“None of that, please,” sharply returned the young woman.

She was silent a moment, and then said:

“Yes, I was there, and one of the few who knew that Mr. Ellison left the
house.”

Chick started. It suddenly broke on him that the person beside him was
one of the bridesmaids, and yet he could not be certain.

While he was thinking this over, she asked:

“Do you know how Mr. Ellison left the house?”

Again Chick thought rapidly, and concluded that he would gain more by
answering the question straightly.

“We think,” he said, “that he left concealed by a great cape coat that
had been worn into the house by another man, and that he had a wig and
beard on to resemble that man.”

“Who was that man?”

“We don’t know.”

“He was left in the house after Mr. Ellison went out. Was he not seen?”

“No, he escaped from the house by a back window into the back yard, and
so into the cross street.”

“What sort of a man was he?”

“A man with a pointed, glossy black beard, black eyes, heavy black
eyebrows and long black hair, curling a little at the ends.”

The young woman was thoughtful for a moment or two, sitting with her
finger to her lips, which she bit nervously, while her brows were
knitted.

Chick broke in on her thoughts.

“Was this man connected with the robbery or the attempt to rob?”

“I don’t think so,” said the young woman; “that was another part of it.”

“You mean,” asked Chick, “that the robbery was connected with Mr.
Ellison’s disappearance?”

“Oh, no,” said the young woman. “The robbery was a consequence of Mr.
Ellison’s knowing certain people----”

She started suddenly, and, facing Chick, said:

“You’re clever. You nearly trapped me. I will confess to you that I
wrote both those letters. I learned by accident of this robbing
attempt, and tried to stop it by informing Mr. Carter.”

“That’s what you said,” said Chick. “You did stop it.”

“I know nothing of those people,” she said, “except that, through a
certain connection, they were attempting to use Mr. Ellison.”

“Do you want Mr. Ellison found?” suddenly asked Chick.

“Yes. I am----”

She stopped and, looking Chick keenly in the eyes, said:

“I will talk no more to-night. I was anxious to know what you have told
me. I do not know enough to tell you anything more of importance. I may
learn something, and, if I do, I will manage to make Mr. Carter know it.
Now, get out, and let me go away.”

Believing that he could accomplish no more, and certain that Patsy was
not far away, Chick descended from the carriage, lifted his hat, and
walked away.

The hansom cab, containing the young woman, immediately went over to
Broadway and, turning up that street, was driven quite rapidly.

But it had not gone the space of a block when another cab drove after
it, and Chick saw a hand wave from the window.

Jumping across the street, Chick found a cab on the corner, and, hastily
calling the driver, said:

“Follow that cab, and don’t lose sight of it. If you kill your horse,
I’ll pay for it.”

And an instant later, and as the clock over the _Herald_ office sounded
the hour of two, he was following in hot haste the cab containing Patsy,
which, in turn, was following the one occupied by the young woman.



CHAPTER XX.

A FEMALE BOXER.


The cabs pursued their way up Broadway until Forty-second Street was
reached, when they turned, the leading cab going up that street to Fifth
Avenue.

As the one containing the young woman turned the corner into that avenue
it halted. A young man stepped out from the shadow and entered the cab.

Patsy’s cab was at a discreet distance behind it, yet Patsy thought that
the young man was the same one with whom, earlier in the evening, on
Broadway, he had seen the young woman when she made the change in her
hair.

The cab now went on up Fifth Avenue, and at a slower pace than it had
previously been going.

Thus Sixty-eighth Street was reached, and, when near the corner, the cab
drew alongside the curbstone, the two occupants alighting and proceeding
on foot.

Patsy was out in a moment. As the two disappeared around the corner, he
ran at full speed; Chick, a little distance behind him, also following
rapidly on foot.

When Patsy reached the corner the pair were nowhere to be seen. For the
moment the young detective was at a loss to know what to do.

Thinking that if they had entered any one of the houses it must have
been one very close to the avenue, and that, if so, they would have
hardly had time to pass through the door, and were under the concealment
of a vestibule, he ran down the street hastily in the hopes that he
might discover them.

Just as Chick reached the corner, two figures leaped out at Patsy.

They were the pair he had been following.

The young man went at Patsy rather viciously, crying, as he did so:

“What are you following us for?”

Though the attack was unexpected, Patsy was not unprepared, and,
squaring himself, warded off the blow the young man had aimed at him.

It was apparent to Patsy in a moment that the young man was no novice at
the game of the fists.

Indeed, he was an adept in the art of boxing and, for a moment or two,
Patsy was kept quite busy in defending himself.

In the meantime, the young woman was a silent and inactive witness.

After the first few moments of surprise had passed, and, as he thought,
he had obtained the measure of the young man, Patsy changed his tactics
from defending himself to going at the other one fiercely.

He soon demonstrated his superiority, and was fast overcoming the young
man, when, to Patsy’s intense astonishment, the young woman danced up at
him in approved pugilistic fashion and landed a stinging blow in his
face.

The young detective was astonished at the force behind the blow. Though
he was busy with the young man, he did not fail to observe that the
young woman, lady, and daughter of wealth as she seemed to be, was,
nevertheless, a good deal of a boxer.

“Hello!” said Patsy to himself. “I have heard of these women athletes
among the swells, but this is the first one I ever saw.”

In the meantime, the young woman was dancing up, letting out a blow,
dancing away again to come back with another blow.

Some of these blows landed on Patsy’s shoulder and chest, blows which
the young fellow cared nothing for. But some of them came too close to
his eyes and mouth to be comfortable.

Patsy hardly knew how to deal with this assailant. While boxing with the
young man, he had warded off a number of the blows of the young woman,
and, though opportunity was given him, he had returned none, nor had he
even attempted to.

He could not bring himself to fight a woman, however annoying and
irritating she might be.

In the meantime, Chick had stolen down on the other side of the street,
and, perceiving the curious fight in which Patsy was engaged, was
doubled up with laughter.

His quick eye had shown him that Patsy was in no need of help so far as
the young man was concerned, and he believed that, as energetic as the
young woman might be, Patsy could find a way to evade her.

As a matter of fact, he wanted to be free to follow the young woman were
the two to escape Patsy.

This curious fight went on in that quiet street for some little time,
little or no noise being made, since the combatants did not speak.

At length Patsy, having become tired of the game, devoted himself wholly
to the young man without regard to the young woman. Finally, he got in a
blow on the young man that sent him down to the pavement.

Turning to the young woman as she came up to him, he caught her by the
wrists, and, holding her fast, said:

“It’s about time you stopped this.”

The young woman struggled to release herself, and found that she was as
a mere child in the grasp of the athletic and trained young detective.

It seemed as if she was more angry in finding herself so helpless in his
grasp than she had been before. She said:

“Release me. I command you. I’ll have you punished.”

Patsy merely laughed in her face, and, having shown her how helpless she
was, threw off her hands, saying:

“You can fight very well, my lady, so long as nobody fights back. Now
don’t try any more of it again, if you please.”

The woman’s anger was too great for her to speak. Suddenly she turned on
the young man, who was still lying as he fell, and hissed out:

“Get up, you coward! Do you leave me to be so insulted here?”

But the young man made no reply, and Patsy said:

“I must have hit him too hard.”

Disregarding the young woman, he went to the young man and bent over
him. He was unconscious. After trying to lift him to his feet, Patsy
said to the young woman:

“I cracked him harder than I thought, or else his head hit the pavement
when he fell. I’ll take him to the drug store around the corner.”

The young woman, forgetting her anger, went hurriedly to the young man.
Bending over him, she first felt his pulse and then his heart.

“You have killed him!”

But the next moment she peered eagerly into the eyes of the young man
and exclaimed:

“No. He’s coming to.”

She rubbed his forehead and chafed his hands.

“Who is he?” asked Patsy.

“My brother,” she replied, sharply.

After a while the young man was sufficiently restored to stand on his
feet when helped up by Patsy.

“You’ve done damage enough,” said the young woman, “and you can now go
away.”

“I’ll help you home with him,” said Patsy.

“No, I don’t want you to do that.”

She stood up and looked Patsy straight in the eyes and said:

“You shall not see me go home to-night. If you don’t go away, I shall
stay here, or else go somewhere where you can’t find me. I know you. You
are one of Nick Carter’s people. Go away. You can do nothing to-night,
and you can’t find out anything about me.”

Casting a glance about, Patsy was satisfied that he saw Chick on the
other side of the street. Indeed, he had been conscious during the time
that he was defending himself from the assault of this athletic brother
and sister that Chick had come down on the other side.

Believing that they did not know that Chick was ready to follow, he
thought it best to end the affair by walking off.

“All right, if you say so,” said Patsy. “Only, you might have said so
from the first, and not kept jabbing me in the face.”

He turned and sauntered up the street. Reaching the corner, he turned
backward and saw that the young man and woman were watching him.

He turned the corner and went out of sight.

No sooner was he gone than the pair hurriedly ran down the street to
about the middle of the block, and as hastily climbed the steps of a
rather imposing mansion, disappearing behind the doors.

If the pair thought they had done so undiscovered, they were greatly
mistaken, for Chick from his place had seen them and had carefully noted
the house they had entered.

Cautiously and stealthily, Chick crept down the street, and, reaching
the house, climbed the steps sufficiently to see the number. Then
perceiving that there was a doorplate on the door, he went up to the top
step, and, with a lighted match, found the name. It was merely that of
Rainforth.

The end had been gained. The young woman had been tracked to her home.

He went back to Fifth Avenue, and, turning the corner, came on Patsy
awaiting him there.

As soon as he saw the young detective he began to laugh.

“You’ve struck a new kind of a boxer, Patsy,” he said.

“That’s right,” said Patsy. “And she can hit, too. Hanged if I don’t
think she can hit harder than the young fellow she calls her brother.”

“Her brother?” asked Chick.

“That’s what she said he was.”

“Wasn’t it a stall?”

“They went into the same house together.”

“Perhaps so,” said Chick. “As a rule, however, brothers don’t usually
run around at this hour of the night with a sister.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Patsy. “Anyhow, they’re the queerest brother
and sister that I ever ran up against. Say, Chick, is it the fashion for
women to box?”

“I hear it is,” said Chick.

“Well,” said Patsy, “that little one is no fool at the game. And she has
got the pluck of a professional.”

“I got the name on the plate of the house they went into. It is
Rainforth.”

“Then you got the house they went into?” asked Patsy.

“Yes, and the number,” replied Chick. “Now we have got to find out
something about the people who live in that house.”

“Small chance of finding anything to-night, or rather this morning,”
said Patsy. “That’s a job for to-morrow.”

Patsy had hardly spoken these words when a policeman turned the corner,
and, seeing the two young men there, stopped, casting suspicious glances
at them.

“What are you loafing there for?” he asked.

Instead of replying, Chick said:

“Officer, is Sixty-eighth Street your beat?”

“Yes; and what of it?”

“Do you know all the families that live on Sixty-eighth Street?”

“Most of them.”

“Do you know a family by the name of Rainforth?”

“Yes; I know there is such a family there. But what is that to you?”

“We are two of Nick Carter’s people,” said Chick.

He made that fact plain to the officer, who quickly changed his manner,
and, from being suspicious, became confidential.

“Yes, I know that family Rainforth,” he said. “Rainforth is Colonel
Rainforth, a rich man, living on his money. A widower, and pretty old.”

“Who lives in the house with him?”

“A son and a daughter.”

The officer began to laugh and finally said:

“They are a queer pair, that son and daughter. They travel around
together late at night. I don’t know how many times I have seen them go
into the house at two or three o’clock in the morning.”

“Coming home from parties and receptions and balls, I presume,” said
Chick.

“Mebbe; but I don’t like that. It looks to me as if they had been
roaming. Say, the daughter is a thoroughbred. She does almost anything a
man does. She rides, and there isn’t any horse too bad for her. She rows
a boat, she works in a gymnasium, and I know for sure that she’s taken
boxing lessons. They say she’s awful good with her fists.”

“Is she straight?” asked Chick.

“Ain’t heard anybody say she wasn’t. She’s just queer; that’s all.”

This was all the officer could tell them, and, after a few more words,
he strolled away.

The two young men stood a while longer conversing, and were themselves
about to move away, when young Mr. Sanborn came tripping hurriedly along
the pavement.

Chick stopped him, saying:

“Mr. Sanborn, will you stop a moment?”

The young man stopped, and, perceiving who it was who had addressed him,
called them by name and laughed:

“A little too late for much conversation, isn’t it?”

“Perhaps it is,” said Chick; “but we want to have a little information
which we think you can give, and we don’t want to be asked why we want
it.”

“Oh,” said young Sanborn, “if it is a matter of business, I’ll give it
if I can, and I won’t ask why.”

“Will you tell us if you know a family of the name of Rainforth?”

“I know of a family of that name living down here in Sixty-eighth
Street.”

“Colonel Rainforth, a widower, with one son and a daughter?” asked
Chick.

“Yes.”

“Can you tell me anything about the daughter?”

“I know her quite well,” said young Sanborn; “have known her a good many
years, and have never known anything against her.”

“Isn’t she rather queer?” asked Chick.

“Oh, I don’t know but that she is in some of the things she does. She
goes in for things that most of the young women do not. She rides,
fences, drives tandems and four-in-hands, shoots, is gymnastic, and
boxes--in fact, she goes in for all sorts of out-door sports. In that
way, she is one of the new women.”

“She and her brother are great chums?” asked Chick.

“There’s no doubt of that,” said young Sanborn. “They’re very chummy.
Travel together a good deal.”

Young Sanborn suddenly turned sharply on Chick, looking at him very
intently, and then said:

“Oh, I say, here! Why, yes, I forgot.”

He stopped a moment to think, and then said:

“I see that you have got onto a little thing that escaped my memory. A
year ago or more Julia Rainforth made a dead set for Ellison. She was so
sweet on him that she followed him up constantly, put herself in his way
to such an extent that people talked about it. But it’s all over, and
has been since the time the engagement of my cousin and Ellison was
announced.”

“You are sure of that?” asked Chick.

“There’s no doubt about it at all,” replied Sanborn, positively.

Chick had no further questions to ask, and, a few moments later, young
Sanborn went his way.

Turning to Patsy, Chick said:

“Well, Patsy, we’ve got something to report to the chief at last.”

Then, they, too, walked away in the direction of their homes.



CHAPTER XXI.

IDA SEES MISS RAINFORTH.


The next morning Nick Carter listened with surprise and deep interest to
the tale which his two efficient aids had to tell him.

“When we parted last night,” he said, “there hardly seemed to be an
opening anywhere in this case. The only one was that which Patsy had
suggested as to Lannigan. Now, after a night’s work, there seems to be
so many that they are conflicting.”

“Yes,” said Chick, “it seemed very straight when Patsy suggested that we
could get to the woman who had written those letters by following up
Lannigan. Well, we have found the woman who wrote the letters, but have
learned nothing to show that she was connected with Lannigan, while the
woman who is connected with Lannigan does not seem to have had anything
to do with the letters, although if the string is right, she did have to
do with Ellison.”

“That’s why I say that our openings conflict,” said Nick.

“Well, boys,” continued Nick, “it is for you to follow up what you have
begun. You must follow up the Lannigan end to-day. That will take you to
Philadelphia, for Lannigan went over there this morning. I know that.
Find out, while there, about Ellison’s associations in Philadelphia, and
whom he visited in that place.”

“You have no doubt, then,” asked Chick, “that the Englishman the girl
Alice talked of was Ellison?”

“I have no doubt,” said Nick, “for the reason that, while you were busy
in one direction last night, I was pushing inquiries in another, and I
learned that Ellison did charter a yacht last summer, and that he did
spend a good deal of time in Philadelphia, off and on.”

He got up from his chair, and, pacing up and down a little while, at
length said:

“I don’t quite know how to size up young Sanborn. For a man who is well
acquainted with Ellison as he pretends to be, he is singularly ignorant
of the man, or else he refuses to tell all that he knows. In his talk
yesterday he dropped the name of a man as one of those with whom Ellison
spent much of his time, and that man I am very well acquainted with.

“While this young man made no pretentions to intimate friendship with
Ellison, yet he knew enough about him to know that his life was not
quite as correct as Sanborn would have us believe.

“It is from him that I learned about the yacht, the Philadelphia trips,
and that Ellison was involved in two or three scrapes that did not
become public. I take it young Sanborn is no longer important to us.”

“The girl Alice,” said Chick, “said that he, if he is the young
Englishman, was very attentive to Mrs. Ladew. She told the truth there,
because Miss Rainforth admitted to me that Ellison had been in a foolish
flirtation with her.”

“It’s all over,” cried Patsy. “That settles it.”

“Settles what?” asked Chick.

“Why, that the young Englishman is Ellison.”

“Quite right, Patsy,” said Nick.

Nick thought a moment or two, and then said:

“Philadelphia is the place where you must look for a day or two. Keep
your eyes open for traces of Ellison’s valet, and for the man who came
to see Ellison, and in whose cape coat Ellison went away. Patsy saw them
both, and that is an advantage.

“I will follow up the Rainforth matter here, but that, in my judgment,
is where Ida will have to do most of the work. You can’t get away any
too quickly.”

“I suppose,” said Chick, “what we’ve got to work on there is how
Lannigan came to get a line on the wedding presents at Sanborn’s.”

“Of course,” said Nick, “there is a connection there with Ellison,
somehow. Whether with Ellison’s knowledge or not is a question, but on
working in Philadelphia on the line of Ellison’s doings, and on the line
of how Lannigan was steered to the wedding, you may find out much that
is valuable for us to know in tracing the mystery of Ellison’s
disappearance.”

The two young detectives went away to prepare for their trip to
Philadelphia.

As soon as they were gone, Nick summoned Ida.

She was not long in coming, and, when she did arrive, Nick said to her:

“Ida, I have got something for you to do which, I think, is about as
difficult as anything you have undertaken.”

He told her the experiences of Chick and Patsy with the young Rainforth
woman, and the discovery that she was the writer of the two anonymous
letters.

“That young woman puzzles me,” said Nick. “I know something about her.
Her father is an old army officer, very rich, who long since retired.
The young girl, with her brother, was brought up at army posts in the
West, in the wild Indian fighting times, and learned many things there
that are not usually a part of a fashionable young lady’s education.

“She learned how to ride vicious horses and how to use firearms. She is
an expert shot with both rifle and revolver. Besides, she can wield the
sword as well as a soldier.

“Where she learned the accomplishment of boxing that she made a display
of with Patsy, I don’t know. Probably after she returned to the East,
and as a consequence of having already certain manly attainments.

“She is good at many of that sort of thing--lawn tennis, golf and
yachting.

“All these things, although they have made her much talked about, have
not given her the reputation of being fast. But it a queer story that
Patsy tells of her, and it is borne out in Chick’s interview with her.

“The fact which concerns us is, that she knew about the attempt or
intention to rob the Sanborn house, and that she knows more about
Ellison’s private life than his associates do.”

“I should think,” said Ida, “from what you say, that she was involved
with Ellison herself, and that the knowledge she obtained came through
that connection.”

“It may be so,” said Nick, “but I am inclined to believe that all there
was of that connection was a desire on her part to capture Ellison for
herself.”

Ida laughed and said:

“Our sex is a queer thing. This Miss Rainforth seems to be a very bold,
energetic and courageous young woman. If you are right, and she has been
scorned by Ellison, there is no knowledge to what lengths she will go.”

“Well,” said Nick, “it is for you to get into relations with her, and
find out what you can. It is a difficult thing. How will you go about
it?”

“That does not seem to me to be as important,” replied Ida, “as to know
how to deal with her when I do get to her.”

“Getting to her is no small matter, Ida,” said Nick. “Miss Rainforth is
a fashionable young lady. Usually, her movements are wholly within
fashionable circles of the most exclusive kind. Her escapade of last
night is not usual, and you cannot count on getting to her by finding
her outside of her own circles.”

“Leave it to me,” replied Ida, “to get to her. The thing in my mind is,
as I said before, how to deal with her when I do get to her.”

“Well,” asked Nick, “have you any theory?”

“From what has been told me,” replied Ida, “I don’t think that gentle
methods, or wheedling, or coaxing, will accomplish anything. Unless she
has no sort of regard for her private character, I think we will have to
try to frighten her.”

“Well,” said Nick, “we will have to leave that to you, and you must be
governed by your judgment of her when you reach her.”

After some further talk, Ida left Nick, still undetermined as to the
methods she would use in getting to the singular young lady.

As she was thinking on the street, her steps were led almost
involuntarily to Sixty-eighth Street. Standing for a moment on the
corner of that street and Fifth Avenue, she suddenly made up her mind,
and, walking rapidly down the street, went to the Rainforth house and
rang the bell.

When the door was opened, Ida said to the servant:

“Is Miss Julia Rainforth in?”

“What name am I to present?” asked the servant.

“My name will mean nothing to Miss Rainforth,” said Ida. “Tell her a
lady would like to see her on a matter of much importance.”

The servant ushered Ida into a small reception-room on one side of the
hall, and disappeared.

He was back again in a few moments with a message that Miss Rainforth
desired to know the business of the person who had called.

“Inform Miss Rainforth,” said Ida, “that the business I have come about
is that which Miss Rainforth will not care to have known to her
servants.”

The servant went off, and was back again in a few moments, bringing with
him some paper, a pencil and an envelope.

“Miss Rainforth,” he said, “orders me to say that, if the business
cannot be stated to a servant, it can be written on this paper.”

Ida was about to return the paper with the word that a personal
interview alone would do, when a thought struck her.

She took the paper and pencil and hastily wrote on it:

     “Ellison. Mysterious disappearance. Elsie Sanborn. Mrs. Ladew.”

As she wrote this last name, some one passed through the hall of whom
Ida caught but a glimpse through the openings of the portières.

Yet that glimpse suggested to her the man who came to see Ellison on the
day of his wedding, as described by Patsy.

Not that she believed that it was the man, but the fancied resemblance
suggested an idea.

She added hastily to what she had already written on the paper the
following:

     “The mysterious stranger who called on Ellison on the day of his
     wedding.”

She folded the paper, inclosing it in the envelope, sealed it, and gave
it to the servant.

In a very short time the servant was back again to say that Miss
Rainforth would see the caller in her own apartment.



CHAPTER XXII.

IDA’S TRIUMPH.


The servant led Ida up the stairs to the second floor and into a room in
the front of the house, furnished most luxuriously as a sitting-room.

A young woman, rather under-sized, but well proportioned, and with some
claims to beauty, stood in the center of this room.

Ida regarded the young woman intently. She saw that, though the features
of the young lady were somewhat hard, and the expression of her face not
wholly agreeable, yet she was one who would be attractive to the other
sex. Her eyes were dark, and there was in them a rather steely gleam as
she turned them keenly on Ida.

“I don’t know you,” was her salutation.

Looking about the room, Ida saw there were two doors therein, both open.
Without replying to the abrupt and ungracious greeting of the young
lady, Ida went to the one which seemed to lead into an inner apartment,
and, closing it, shot the bolt she found on it.

“You are impertinent,” said Miss Rainforth.

Nor to this remark did Ida reply, but went to the door leading to the
hall, closed that, and turned the key in the lock.

“What do you mean to do?” asked Miss Rainforth, so much astonished that
she had not as yet interfered.

“I mean,” said Ida, “that we shall not be interrupted during our
interview.”

Ida now went to a chair in that part of the room which brought her back
to the light, and forced Miss Rainforth to stand, or sit, as she chose,
with that light full on her face.

“You do not ask me to sit down, Miss Rainforth,” said Ida. “So I shall
take a seat uninvited. But, before I do, I wish to say that I know that
you are an expert in shooting. I would have you know that I am also. You
can take your revolvers, if you choose to do so, for I shall sit with
mine in my lap ready to check any use of yours on your part.”

With that Ida took her revolvers from her pocket, and, sitting down,
laid them upon her lap.

“Well,” said Miss Rainforth, with a long breath, “of all the impudent
things I have ever met, you are the most impudent.”

“Oh, no,” replied Ida, “I am merely a determined person who will not be
denied in the matter I have come about.”

“Leave the room,” said Miss Rainforth, suddenly losing her temper.

“I shall do nothing of the kind,” said Ida.

Miss Rainforth made a motion as if she would run to the door, but Ida
sternly commanded her to stop.

Apparently unused to such a tone, Miss Rainforth stopped, turning more
in surprise and astonishment than in submission.

“Miss Rainforth,” said Ida, “you will please to return to your seat.”

The young lady continued to stare at her visitor, and Ida went on:

“It is useless for you to call any one, for that will only result in
your ruin and disgrace. As I told you, you have met with a person even
more determined than yourself. You must submit.”

“Who are you?” the young lady blurted forth.

“My name is of no consequence,” said Ida. “It is enough for you to know
that I am one of Nick Carter’s people. I have something to learn from
you which you must tell.”

“‘Must! Must! Must!’” repeated the young lady, now nearly beside herself
with anger. “In all my life, I have never permitted any one to say
‘must’ to me. How dare you, when my father never dared to say it to me?”

“Simply because,” said Ida, very quietly, “I am determined that you
shall tell me what you know about Mr. Ellison.”

The manner of Ida, so calm, determined and selfpossessed, made an
evident impression upon the young lady.

She came across the room, standing almost directly in front of Ida, and
calmly studied the face of her visitor, as if it were new to her
experience.

“I know that you are supposed to be a bold and courageous young lady,”
said Ida. “I know it is commonly reported that you are not unaccustomed
to scenes of danger. You are in no danger here, except such as may
result from your refusal to tell me what justice demands you should
tell. Now, please sit down and let us get this matter over.”

The mood of the young lady changed, and she laughed aloud, sarcastically
rather than otherwise, saying, when she had had her laugh out:

“Well, this is a new experience. Really, it is entertaining. I think I
shall enjoy it.”

She went back to a chair, and sat down.

“Now, Miss One-of-Nick-Carter’s-People, what is your business with me?”

“Miss Rainforth, you notified my chief that a robbery was to be
attempted at Mr. Sanborn’s house yesterday. Subsequently, and almost
immediately after the singular disappearance of Mr. Ellison, you wrote
another letter to Mr. Carter, telling him a woman was at the bottom of
that disappearance. Later in the evening, you made your appearance, in
disguise, in places in the Tenderloin, under circumstances which, if
known publicly, would ruin the most respectable young lady.”

Miss Rainforth sprang to her feet, this time genuinely alarmed.

“How do you know that?” she exclaimed. “What do you know? How much do
you know?”

Ida saw that she had made a point much stronger than she knew.

Evidently, the young lady had been engaged in something the night
previous, had been somewhere, and had been involved in something, the
concealment of which was far more important to her than of her entrance
to the all-night restaurant at midnight.

Ida was quick to use the advantage she had gained, though she recognized
that she was on dangerous ground, and was ignorant of what had so
excited the young woman.

“You know little of Nick Carter and his perfect system,” she replied,
“if you do not know that he is aware of the movements of any one who is
of concern to him.”

Miss Rainforth fell back in her chair, muttering, rather to herself than
to Ida:

“I had heard so. I had been warned. But I did not believe it.”

Then she turned to Ida.

“Talk plainly,” she said. “What is it you want to say? What is it you
want of me?”

Ida stood up, deliberately replaced the revolvers in her pocket, and as
calmly sat down again.

She felt that she had already won her victory; if she managed the rest
of the interview with skill that the reckless, courageous and masterful
young woman was already cowed.

In the meantime, Miss Rainforth, settling back in her chair, was
regarding her visitor with apprehensive intentness.

“Mr. Carter,” said Ida, “has neither wish nor disposition to do anything
to your injury. You are of no consequence to him, as important as you
doubtless regard yourself, except as you bear a relation to the
mysterious disappearance of Mr. Ellison, and have knowledge of events
leading up to that disappearance.”

“I am sure,” replied Miss Rainforth, with a sneer, “I’m obliged to the
consideration of Mr. Carter.”

Ida gave no heed to the sneer, but went on:

“In the first place, I want to know how you came to have knowledge of
the intended robbery of the wedding presents.”

“Really?” sneered Miss Rainforth.

Ida saw that the young lady was recovering from the panic into which she
had been thrown, and was regaining possession of herself. She made an
attempt to frighten the young lady again.

“I presume, Miss Rainforth,” she said, “that you are intelligent enough
to understand that you are at present in the position of one who is in
relations with a notorious thief and burglar, one Lannigan?”

The young lady started violently.

“Lannigan!” she repeated.

“Lannigan made the attempt to enter the house of Mr. Sanborn yesterday
morning,” said Ida. “Indeed, he did enter it, and was recognized by Mr.
Carter. He was driven off at that time and, though his gang made two
other efforts later, they also were defeated.”

“They did make the attempt?” said Miss Rainforth. “I thought they had
not done so.”

Ida made a bold play.

“Oh, they kept their part of the bargain,” she said.

It was a false play, for the young woman looked at Ida with a puzzled
face.

Ida instantly saw it, and hastened to regain her ground.

“You do not answer my question,” she said. “How did you come to know of
this intended robbery?”

“You are looking for Mr. Ellison,” said Miss Rainforth. “Of what use is
that knowledge to you in such a search?”

“It is a step in the beginning,” replied Ida. “Understand, Miss
Rainforth, you are related to this search, and to the mysterious
disappearance of Mr. Ellison, either remotely or intimately, and evasion
on your part will only involve you in trouble--in all the shame and
disgrace that publicity of the matter, which will soon be a sensation,
will involve.”

The young woman winced, an anxious expression appearing on her face, and
Ida knew that the string upon which she must pull was the one of the
young lady’s fear of notoriety.

“I must insist upon an answer to that question,” she said. “There are
many ways of conducting our business. As a rule, we work in secret, but
there are times when we are forced to take the public in our confidence,
and make a part of our search through the newspapers. We have no desire
to do that at any time, but it begins to look as if we would have to do
so in this case, and you can see the position you would be in--you, a
young lady of fashion, placed before the public as an associate of
thieves and the frequenter of fast places at midnight.”

The young woman leaped to her feet with the remark:

“You would not dare do such a thing.”

Ida laughed, scornfully.

“Dare?” she repeated. “We spend our lives in daring.”

“The men of my family would kill you, if you did such a thing.”

Ida laughed again.

“Half the thieves and half the fast people, whether rich or poor, are
always threatening that. We are used to it.”

The young woman began to walk rapidly up and down the room, and then
stopped suddenly in front of Ida. She said:

“It was by an accident.”

“You mean,” said Ida, “that you obtained the knowledge of the intended
robbery by accident?”

“Yes,” replied Miss Rainforth.

“Under what circumstances?” asked Ida.

“I cannot tell you that,” replied the young woman. “It is too much of a
confession.”

Ida took a new tack.

“Miss Rainforth,” she said. “I have already said there is no desire on
the part of Mr. Carter to do you injury. You are in a peculiar position,
and a dangerous one for you. You are liable to that kind of notoriety in
an extraordinary case which, to one like you, will be ruin. Your course
in self-protection is not in striving to conceal your part in it from
us, but, rather, to ask our assistance and our help in keeping your name
out of an unpleasant matter.”

The young woman undertook to say something, but Ida went on:

“Wait and hear me out,” she said. “The fact that you won’t speak or will
not give the information you evidently are possessed of, and which it is
necessary for us to know, will have no effect in preventing us from
going on to the end. If we do not find out by one means, we will by
another. We never fail.”

These words seemed to impress the young lady, and she stood for a moment
silent, with her head bent. Then she said:

“I went to see Mr. Ellison at his apartments the night before the
wedding. He was not in when I first entered. Afterward, two men were
shown into the room, and I, not desiring to be seen, hid myself from
them and heard their conversation while they waited.

“I soon learned that their business was to force Mr. Ellison to help
them enter Mr. Sanborn’s house the following day. I also heard that they
had learned from Mr. Ellison, a little time previous, the value and kind
of the presents that were to be displayed at the reception.

“And I also learned that it was the intention of these men to rob the
house at the time of the reception, and that that was the reason for
forcing Mr. Ellison to help them to enter.”

“Do you mean,” said Ida, not a little surprised, “that Mr. Ellison was a
party to that robbery?”

“I mean nothing of the kind,” said the young lady. “I am sure he was
not.”

“Yet it was from him that they obtained knowledge of these presents?”
persisted Ida.

“That, I am sure,” responded the young lady, “was only a matter of
accident, as he had been associating with those people, and talked about
them.”

“Mr. Ellison an associate of thieves?” asked Ida.

“I am sure he did not know them as thieves,” said Miss Rainforth, “but
as gamblers.”

“Gamblers?” inquired Ida.

“Yes,” replied Miss Rainforth. “Gambling is Mr. Ellison’s weakness. It
has brought him into great trouble in the past, and I should not be
surprised if his present trouble could be traced to it.”

“Explain yourself,” said Ida, believing that she was now on the line of
a new discovery.

“Mr. Ellison’s weakness is a love of gambling, and, though his New York
friends know little or nothing of that side of him, yet he used to go to
Philadelphia frequently to play. There he gambled most heavily, with a
certain poker set in that city, of whom this Lannigan was one. He is
very heavily in debt to some of that party.”

“Were you present when Mr. Ellison come in and saw these men?”

“Yes.”

“Did you overhear their conversation?”

“Yes; I could not help it, situated as I was.”

“Was Mr. Ellison made aware of the intention to rob the Sanborn house?”

“No.”

“What reason did they give for desiring to enter the house?”

“Merely the wish to be present.”

“Did they give no reason for it?”

“No.”

“Did Mr. Ellison refuse their request?”

“Very promptly.”

“And what then?”

“They attempted to force him to consent by threatening that, if he did
not, they would inform Mr. Sanborn of his gambling habit and his
gambling debts.”

“What did Mr. Ellison do?”

“Mr. Ellison is a brave man. He told them that he would not be forced by
anybody; that, if they wanted to do that, they could do so, but he would
not consent to their being present at the wedding reception; and that
they were presuming in attempting to lift a gambling acquaintance into a
social relation.”

“Then what did the men do?”

“They went away, threatening.”

“Do you think Mr. Ellison had a suspicion of their intentions?”

“I don’t know.”

“Now, Miss Rainforth, what was your purpose in going to Mr. Ellison’s
apartments at such a strange hour?”

Miss Rainforth turned a startled look on Ida, took a turn or two up and
down the room, and came back. She said:

“I was not alone. My brother was nearby. He knew of my going there.”

“Even so,” said Ida, “it was a remarkable thing for a young woman to go
to a young man’s apartment on the night before his wedding at nearly the
midnight hour.”

The young woman blazed up into a passion.

“I went there in a last attempt to prevent his marriage.”

“To prevent his marriage?” repeated Ida.

“Yes,” replied Miss Rainforth. “By all rights, he was bound to me, and
it was I whom he should have married.”

“Do you mean to say that you were engaged?”

“Yes; if promise is an engagement.”

The young woman paused a moment and then said, passionately:

“It was that wretch, that Ladew woman, who interfered. But he never
loved her.”

“Miss Rainforth,” said Ida, “I fear you have been laboring under a
strange delusion. You evidently do not know that, almost from the moment
of his arrival in New York, Mr. Ellison was a suitor for the hand of
Miss Sanborn.”

“It is not so,” said Miss Rainforth. “He was entangled by her family,
pursued and hunted by Elsie Sanborn herself.”

“In your last letter to Mr. Carter,” said Ida, “you hinted that a woman
was at the bottom of the disappearance of Mr. Ellison.”

“I’m sure of it,” said Miss Rainforth, “and it is the Ladew woman. She
was at the reception and she was in the house when he went away.”

“And you were, too,” said Ida.

“I was, and it was from the Ladew woman that I found out that he had run
away. If she wasn’t at the bottom of it, how did she know of it when
nobody else did?”

Ida now made up her mind that she had gotten at the bottom of Miss
Rainforth’s connection with the matter.

She was certain that Miss Rainforth was in love with Ellison and had
herself hoped to be Mrs. Ellison; that, possibly, there had been tender
passages between herself and Ellison which had been interrupted by
Ellison’s intrigue with Mrs. Ladew, and, escaping from that, he had not
returned to Miss Rainforth, but had devoted himself to Miss Sanborn; and
that, in her jealousy and disappointment, Miss Rainforth had first tried
to break up the marriage and, secondly, punish Mrs. Ladew by directing
Nick Carter’s suspicions to her.

Ida’s substantial gain had been knowledge of Ellison’s relations to a
gang of sharpers in Philadelphia, of whom Lannigan undoubtedly was one.
And she believed that nothing more of value was to be obtained from the
young woman.

“You have been wise,” said Ida, “in being plain with me. We shall be
able to protect your name and reputation. And that we will do.”

She rose from her seat, and, as she did so, Miss Rainforth said:

“What I did last night that brought suspicion on me was to try and find
where Mr. Ellison was taken.”

“Taken?” repeated Ida.

“Yes, taken,” continued Miss Rainforth. “I am satisfied that Mr. Ellison
was lured from the house to be seized and carried off.”

However startling this idea was, Ida found, on pursuing it, that the
young lady, Miss Rainforth, had nothing better than her suspicion to
base it on.

Therefore, Ida went away, but not until Miss Rainforth had promised
that, if anything additional came to her knowledge, she would send word
of it to Nick Carter.

But Ida thought that, as a person of concern in the case, Miss Rainforth
had now ceased to be important.



CHAPTER XXIII.

ON LANNIGAN’S TRAIL.


While Ida had been having her forceful interview with Miss Rainforth,
Chick and Patsy had journeyed to Philadelphia.

On their way thither, on the train, they had become aware that the
woman, Mrs. Ladew, was also a fellow passenger.

She was alone, having no attendant.

Chick had said to Patsy:

“I don’t know what value there will be in following Mrs. Ladew. What she
probably will do will be to go directly to her home. However, I think
one of us ought to follow her to see if she has any communication with
the parties we are after.”

Patsy had said that he would undertake that work and they made
arrangements for meeting after he had finished the shadow.

But, as the train drew into the Broad Street station, Patsy, looking out
of the window, caught the glimpse of a man trying to board the train
before it had fairly stopped. It seemed to him that the man was
Lannigan.

Quickly warning Chick, they both of them ran back to the car in which
Mrs. Ladew was seated and were in time to see Lannigan hastily pass
through the car, stopping only long enough to whisper something in the
ear of Mrs. Ladew and hurriedly pass on.

He went by both Chick and Patsy so closely that their clothes touched,
but he did not recognize either and was soon out of sight.

Chick and Patsy kept Mrs. Ladew under close observation and saw from
her manner that she had evidently been prepared for something by a
warning from Lannigan.

As the train stopped and Mrs. Ladew descended, they followed her along
the stone platform until the iron gates were reached, where were
gathered the friends of the arriving passengers.

Keeping close enough to Mrs. Ladew to watch all that occurred to her,
they saw a gentleman step out from the throng, as she passed through the
gate, and, kissing her warmly, ask:

“Did you have a pleasant trip?”

“Very pleasant, indeed,” replied Mrs. Ladew. “But, Tom, I am surprised
and delighted at your meeting me. I did not suppose you would give up so
much of your morning to me.”

“Oh,” responded the gentleman called Tom, “I was not so busy this
morning, and I am glad to get you back.”

He laughed a little and added:

“You see, I did not know but that Ellison would marry you instead of
Miss Sanborn.”

“Oh, Tom,” replied Mrs. Ladew, “There has been an awful, awful
happening. Ellison disappeared right after the ceremony and the
reception guests were dismissed because of it.”

By this time the crowd had grown so great about the two that Chick and
Patsy could hear no more that passed between the husband and wife.

But they followed to the street and saw the pair enter a handsome
private carriage.

“There’s no use in following them,” said Chick, “for that is Mr. Ladew
with her and they will go straight home.”

“And she’ll have no chance to talk to any of the people we are after.”

“No,” replied Chick.

They turned to move away and, in doing so, saw Lannigan watching the
carriage drive off, a little way apart.

“S--sh,” warned Chick. “There’s Lannigan. He evidently warned Mrs. Ladew
that her husband was waiting for her. We must follow him.”

“I’m glad of it,” said Patsy. “I was thinking one of us ought to have
kept a peeper on him.”

Drawing back under the cover of a pillar, they watched to see what
direction Lannigan would take.

It seemed as if he were waiting for some one, for he did not move until
nearly all of those who had been attracted by the incoming train had
moved away.

But others were gathered to meet another train and so neither Lannigan
nor the two young detectives were conspicuous.

A moment or two later, a man hurried up and spoke to Lannigan. Lannigan
greeted the man warmly and taking his arm, led him aside, talking very
earnestly to him.

Whatever was said by the chief was not received pleasantly by the other,
but, in the end, they walked away together, followed by Chick and Patsy.

They passed out to Filbert Street, where they stood for some little time
in further conversation, when the man who had met Lannigan left him with
the remark:

“I suppose it couldn’t be helped, but better luck next time.”

The man went in one direction and Lannigan in another.

The direction of the latter led him to the front of the City Hall, at
the bottom step of which he stopped, and then, as if thinking better of
his intention to enter the hall, turned and went up the street.

If he was aware that he was being followed by the two young men, he gave
no indication of it in his manner, but walked along steadily without
looking behind him.

He went on until a drinking saloon was reached which was, as Chick knew,
a favorite resort for sporting men.

He entered this as if familiar to the place and the two, Chick and
Patsy, undisguised as they were, entered also.

Lannigan, on entering, stood still a moment or two, looking over the
room. Seeing two persons standing on one side, he went to them and
entered into conversation with them.

They were too far away for Chick and Patsy, who had gone to the bar, to
hear.

But, a moment later, the three came to the bar, also, and standing near
Chick and Patsy, ordered drinks.

The two young detectives overheard Lannigan say, as if it were the
conclusion of his previous conversation:

“They will be over with him to-night and the thing ought to be fixed
now. I will go with you right away.”

They took their drinks and went out of the place without noticing Chick
or Patsy.

As they went out, Chick said:

“Follow them, Patsy, and leave a trace behind you. I will stop long
enough to change a bit and will pick you up so that you can change.”

Patsy started off and Chick, finding a convenient place, changed his
appearance in so short a time that he had little difficulty in soon
coming up with Patsy.

In fact, the slow progress of the three and their frequent stoppages for
drinks on the way, helped him greatly.

Indeed, after Chick had come up with Patsy, they stayed so long in one
saloon that Patsy was enabled to slip away, make a change in his own
appearance, and join Chick.

After this, their way was more rapid and led to the outskirts of the
town until a house, standing almost alone in its square, was reached.

Into this house the three entered.

“Well, we’re here,” said Patsy, “and what now?”

“I’m hanged if I know,” said Chick. “I should like to know what this
house is and what goes on in there.”

“It looks all right,” said Patsy, “and is a regular Philadelphia house
with its red brick, and white trimmings.”

“Who’s coming on to-night?” asked Chick.

“And what ought to be fixed right away?” added Patsy.

“Well, it isn’t the stuff that’s coming on,” said Chick, “for there was
nothing doing for Lannigan and his lads when we got in.”

“No,” replied Patsy. “I don’t suppose there’s anything else for us to do
but to hold and keep Lannigan under watch.”

“We can hardly undertake to enter that house,” said Chick; “but we’re on
to it, and, perhaps, we can find something out about it afterward.”

This conversation had taken place in a doorway on the other side of the
street in which they were hiding.

In a moment or two their appearances were wholly changed and they were
ready when Lannigan and the two who had entered with him came out with a
fourth and went up the street.

The two detectives followed, of course.

“I say, Chick,” said Patsy, “did you see how Lannigan came out of that
house and how he looked to see if anybody was about?”

“Yes, I saw that,” said Chick. “He was suspicious.”

“Of being followed?”

“Not of us, probably, but of anybody seeing where they go.”

The way of the four was now back in the direction of the more thickly
settled part of the city.

Finally they reached a corner house, the lower part of which was a
drinking place.

The house was a peculiar structure, entrance to the upper story being
gained by a high stoop from the outside. Back of it was another
building, separated from it by narrow iron bridges on every one of the
four floors.

This rear building was not as wide as the one in front, so that there
was a space of a few feet between that building and the cross street.

This space was concealed by a high board fence, which, to the two young
detectives, looked more like the side of a house than a fence.

There were large double doors in this fence. But they were closed.

The fourth man stopped the three on the corner and seemed to direct
attention of the three to these double doors.

Lannigan walked up several steps and looked at the doors more closely.
Then he went back to the three, saying something.

A little later, the four entered the drinking saloon.

The two detectives stood still in their place of concealment, wondering
what all this meant.

“Chick,” said Patsy, “this is the place that Lannigan said he would go
to with the others.”

“We must go in and see what it’s like,” said Chick.

Certain that they had not been observed, they stepped out on the
sidewalk and inspected the house more closely.

A man came up and stood near them. The two detectives, looking at him
closely, satisfied themselves that he had no purpose in this, but was
merely lounging there.

“Live about here?” asked Patsy, of the man.

“Yes, all my life,” replied the man.

“That’s a queer place over there,” said Patsy, pointing to the saloon
they had under watch.

“Fly-cops?” asked the man, in return.

Chick turned sharply on the man and then laughed.

“What makes you ask that question? Do we look like fly-cops?”

“No,” said the man, “I don’t know that you do. But that might be the
very reason why you are.”

The man laughed a little bit, and added:

“I was a cop myself, for a while, but I got broke for letting a prisoner
get away from me. It wasn’t my fault and I had only been on the force a
month. But they broke me all the same, and I hadn’t pull enough to fix
it up.”

“But what made you ask us if we were fly-cops?” asked Patsy.

“Oh, it was only because you asked about that house. There’s hardly been
a time since that house was built that the fly-cops haven’t been hanging
about it. That was fifteen years ago.”

“Tough place?” asked Patsy.

“Well,” replied the man, doubtfully, “it’s always been under sort of
suspicions. It was built, and is owned now, by a man they call Stumpy
Herrick. He’s got a sort of a club foot. That’s why they call him
Stumpy.

“They say he used to be a maker of the queer and that he built this
house out of a big rake off in shoving a lot of it.”

“Does he keep that saloon?” asked Chick.

“Oh, no,” replied the man. “He doesn’t do anything now but take care of
his property and collect his rents. He owns not a little around here.
No, the first man that kept the place was Fillingham. He rented it from
Stumpy, and the next thing they knew the Secret Service men made a raid
on the place and found a whole plant for printing notes in that rear
building.

“Fillingham was sent up, you know. Then the house was kept by another
man by the name of Locke. Everything was quiet for a year or two and
then the fly-cops made a raid on the place and they found that it was a
fence, and Locke doing more business in taking in swag in that rear
building than in the saloon.

“They sent him up, and the saloon changed hands again.

“Things was quiet for two or three years and then there was another raid
of the place. A man was taken out of that rear house that was in hiding
there for having killed somebody downtown. I forget now who. Then it was
shown that it was a great loafing place for crooks. And the business ran
down and that man had to give up the place.

“By this time the place got a bad reputation and it was empty for
several years.

“Now this man has taken it and, for anything that anybody knows, it’s
all right. But I don’t like the crowd that hangs around here.”

“What’s the man’s name that keeps it now,” asked Chick.

“His name is Dempsey,” said the man. “My brother was telling me
yesterday that, some years ago, he used to keep a game downtown which
was a crooked one. But I don’t know about that.”

“The house has had a curious history,” said Chick. “I’m going in to look
at it. Will you go over and have a drink?”

“I don’t care if I do,” said the man.

The three crossed and entered the saloon.

It was an ordinary drinking place, not well kept, and the floor was
covered with sawdust. In the rear of the room were several tables, one
of which was near a door.

At this table were seated the four men Chick and Patsy had followed, and
another, who, from the fact that he was in his shirt sleeves, seemed to
be the proprietor of the place.

Lannigan and the man in his shirt sleeves were in close conversation.

“That man in his shirt sleeves,” said the man, who had entered with
Chick and Patsy, “is Dempsey. The man he is talking with is a rounder
downtown--a swell gambler. I don’t know what his name is.”

While the three stood at the bar drinking, Lannigan and Dempsey arose
from their seats and, leaving the others at the table, passed through
the door near them, the door being closed after them.

Some minutes passed and then the other two men also passed through the
door, this time leaving it partly ajar.

Chick and Patsy exchanged glances and, by moving about the room, managed
to get to the rear of it without attracting attention.

Standing at the other end of the bar, they ordered more drinks, and as
they were served, several entered from the street and claimed the
attention of the barkeeper.

Chick seized the opportunity to open that door and saw that it opened
into a little courtyard on which the rear building was and that the
lower floor of that rear building seemed to be a private stable.

He saw also that there was a winding iron staircase from the courtyard
to the balcony or bridge, connecting with the house in front, so that
access to the rear building could be obtained from that courtyard.

He came back and said to Patsy:

“Patsy, I think we ought to make a break for that rear building. That’s
where Lannigan and his party have gone.”

The man with them overheard the remark and said, warningly:

“Easy goes in this place.”

Neither Chick nor Patsy understood his meaning, but were satisfied that
the man knew more of the place than he had been willing to tell them,
though he did not seem to be a friend of the house.

Disregarding his warning, whatever it was, they passed through the door.

They had hardly gotten into the courtyard when they saw Dempsey and
Lannigan with the others behind them, appear on the little bridge above
them.

At the same moment, the large doors of the lower floor of the rear house
were thrown open and a man appeared before the two detectives, who said:

“What in creation are you doing here?”

“Only looking around,” said Patsy.

“Well, look around somewhere else,” said the man.

“What is it, Tom?” asked Dempsey from the bridge.

“Oh,” said Chick, “he’s growling about our coming out here.”

“Well,” said Dempsey, “what are you doing there?”

“Nothing,” replied Chick. “We went out of the wrong door and are going
back.”

Followed by Patsy, he returned to the saloon.

Once inside, Chick whispered to Patsy:

“Did you know that man in the stable?”

“No,” replied Patsy.

“It’s Tom Driscoll, an old New York crook. He hasn’t been long out of
Sing Sing.”

They went to the bar again, where their acquaintance of the day was yet
standing, and ordered some more drinks.

Dempsey and Lannigan came in.

“At ten to-night, you say?” asked Dempsey.

“In a close carriage,” was Lannigan’s reply.

Chick gave a signal to Patsy and walked out into the street.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A NEW MOVE.


When they were out in the street, Chick said to Patsy:

“Something’s coming off to-night at that place.”

“And something’s going to be brought in a closed carriage,” added Patsy.

“And we have got to be on hand to see what it is,” added Chick.

The man with whom they had been talking had lagged behind a bit and now
came from the saloon and joined them.

“Say,” he said, “you haven’t said whether you was fly-cops or not. Well,
I don’t care whether you are or not, but I give it to you straight that
Dempsey stopped me to ask who you were.”

“What did you tell him?” asked Patsy.

“I told him you were friends of mine that I had brought in for a drink
here.”

Chick and Patsy had no reason to disbelieve the man, but, nevertheless,
they felt, if he had not told them the truth, that by this time Lannigan
had become suspicious of them.

However, acting upon the notion that the man had done nothing to arouse
suspicions of themselves, they asked him to step down the street with
them and, while they went into a doorway, to keep an eye on the saloon.

Dodging into this doorway, they made a rapid change, thus confessing to
the man that they were, indeed, detectives.

“There’s a five-dollar bill for you,” said Chick, “if you will give us a
little help.”

“I’m with you,” said the man.

“Well, then,” said Chick, “we know who your swell gambler is. That’s the
fellow we are following.”

At that moment Lannigan appeared in front of the saloon and alone.

“Get on the other side of the street,” said Chick to the man, “and
follow after him. We will be behind.”

The man went off readily enough and Chick and Patsy followed some little
distance after.

“I put that man to work,” said Chick, “so that he wouldn’t go back to
the saloon and blab.”

Lannigan moved rapidly and it was with difficulty that they could keep
him in view. His way took him to a large department store in the lower
part of the city, into which he hurried, going at once upstairs to the
ladies’ parlor.

He had been followed by Patsy, as he went through the store, Chick
remaining with the man outside.

To Patsy’s surprise, Lannigan’s purpose in going to that place was to
meet Mrs. Ladew. He sat down with that person on a circular cushioned
seat that surrounded a pillar, and engaged her in earnest conversation.

On the other side of this circular cushion sat an elderly gentleman
engaged in reading his newspaper.

The interview between Lannigan and Mrs. Ladew was brief. Whatever passed
between them, unheard, of course, by Patsy, was most disagreeable to
Mrs. Ladew, but she yielded, apparently, to whatever was urged by
Lannigan.

Having obtained her consent, Lannigan arose to his feet, as if to go
away, but stood a moment longer to talk with Mrs. Ladew.

The elderly gentleman, rising and folding his paper, sauntered leisurely
toward the door of the parlor and passing Patsy, said:

“Put Chick on Lannigan and come back here to me.”

Patsy gasped:

“Holy smoke, the chief!” he said, to himself.

But he did not wait to say more, but hurried after Lannigan, who had
gone out.

Mrs. Ladew, waiting a reasonable time, also undertook to leave the
apartment, when she was met by the elderly gentleman.

He addressed her politely and said:

“Mrs. Ladew, if I am not mistaken.”

Mrs. Ladew looked up at him in some surprise, vainly trying to recollect
whether she knew the gentleman, but admitted that was her name.

“Permit me,” said Nick, “to have a few moments’ conversation with you.”

“Really sir,” replied the lady, “you have the advantage of me, since I
cannot recollect ever having seen you before.”

“You have not,” replied Nick.

“Then, sir, I cannot talk with you. You have mistaken the woman.”

“Pardon me,” said Nick. “I must talk with you. My name is Nick Carter.”

Mrs. Ladew fairly staggered back, and, indeed, would have fallen had not
a chair been within easy reach which she could grasp.

“For your own sake,” said Nick, hurriedly, “make no scene here, but
submit to my request. It will be far better for you in the end.”

Mrs. Ladew looked helplessly about, as if not knowing what to do, but
Nick read her thoughts.

“It is useless to attempt to call assistance,” said Nick. “Such an act
would only bring you into trouble. Come with me to the other side of the
room.”

Mrs. Ladew, as if not knowing what else to do, followed him to the place
indicated.

Nick placed a chair for her and she sat down, frightened.

“Mrs. Ladew,” said Nick, as he drew a chair, placing himself in front of
her, “I am disguised, and no one will know that you are talking to Nick
Carter, the detective. I want to say to you that you are a very foolish
woman and in a very serious and dangerous position. Do you know the man
with whom you just talked in this room?”

Mrs. Ladew nodded her head, but did not speak.

“You are a woman who has a good position in the world, a devoted
husband, all that wealth can give you, and you are endangering
everything by your association with this man. I doubt if you really know
who and what he is. I have no wish nor intention of exposing you to your
husband, or to the world.”

By this time Mrs. Ladew had had time to think, and she made an effort to
master the situation. With no little haughtiness, she said:

“Your words are very singular, sir, as addressed to me. Exposure? I am a
woman of position, sir.”

Nick stopped her sternly. He said:

“Mrs. Ladew, I know your whole life for the past three days. You went to
New York to attend the wedding of Mr. Ellison to Miss Sanborn, but you
took occasion to travel about with Jimmy Lannigan, gambler, thief,
burglar.”

Mrs. Ladew leaped to her feet, horror-stricken.

“Thief! Burglar!” she exclaimed. “You tell what is not true.”

“Sit down, Mrs. Ladew,” said Nick. “Lannigan is just what I say he is. A
thief and a burglar, known to the police as the swell cracksman of
Philadelphia. He attained an unenviable reputation a short time ago,
and I could have landed him in prison; but I was lenient with him. I
wanted to give him a chance to reform; but this is the outcome. He is a
scoundrel of the worst type and I want to tell you that I shall have him
arrested and imprisoned before many days. He has served a term in the
State’s prison. He is an ex-convict.”

He paused to see the effect of his words on this lady of fashion.

“You think,” he went on, “Lannigan went on to New York to meet you and
have a spree with you. That was not his real reason. His purpose was to
rob the Sanborn house of the wedding presents. You had your spree, as I
know, and I can give you every hour and minute of your movements with
him through the Tenderloin.”

Mrs. Ladew fell back in her chair, her face ashen gray, as she heard
Nick say these things. Nick went on:

“It is not for me to object to the way of life you have chosen, but I
can say, as I did before, that you are a very foolish woman, and,
especially, to endanger your reputation by being seen in the company of
such a miserable scamp and rascal as this contemptible Jimmy Lannigan.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” she said.

“Perhaps not; but how would your husband like to know that your escort
in New York was a burglar?”

“And what do you want of me?” piteously asked Mrs. Ladew.

“I might say,” replied Nick, “that I wanted to save you from him, but,
to be honest, I have no such purpose. I have told you these things to
show you that I know how dangerous is your position. You are in the
possession of certain information which I must have and, I tell you now,
Mrs. Ladew, that I will use my knowledge of your past three days if you
do not give me that information.”

“What can I tell you?”

“You know that Mr. Ellison mysteriously disappeared from the Sanborn
house after the wedding breakfast.”

“Yes.”

“You know,” Nick went on, “that a man came to the house to see him and
that Mr. Ellison left that house in the disguise that man had brought
for him.”

“Yes.”

“Who was that man?”

“He was a man from England,” said Mrs. Ladew.

“What was his message to Mr. Ellison that made that gentleman so quickly
respond?”

Mrs. Ladew hesitated a moment and said, finally:

“Why do you ask me these questions?”

“Because I believe you know them all.”

“I do, I do. But they were told me in confidence. And now I see how I am
entangled by them.”

She got up and walked to the window and looked out a moment. Then she
came back, evidently making a severe effort to control herself. Suddenly
she turned to Nick and said:

“You are no friend of mine. There is no reason why I should trust you. I
am in a great trouble. I see that now. And I have no way to turn.”

“I have said before, Mrs. Ladew, I have no wish to injure or expose you.
I say now that, if you will reveal to me all you know, I will protect
you and help you.”

“But how can I trust you? How do I know that I can trust you?”

“If you know anything about me,” said Nick, “you must know that I am a
man of my word. I am accustomed to hold the secrets of many persons, and
no one has ever heard that Nick Carter has betrayed them.”

Mrs. Ladew stood a moment in thought and, at length, said:

“I must trust you. I have no one else to trust, and I must escape from
this horrible entanglement that I am in. But I cannot talk to you here.
Come with me and we will drive in my carriage. There we can talk.”

Nick rose, and together they left the room.

As they passed out through the store, Nick saw Patsy and gave him the
signal to follow them.

Then he went downstairs with Mrs. Ladew and entered her carriage with
her.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE TRUTH AT LAST.


While Chick and Patsy and Ida had been engaged on their various branches
of the work, Nick had been busy in following up some clews that had
drifted into his hands.

So that, with what his assistants had discovered and reported to him, he
had come to learn the full story of the relation of Ellison to Mrs.
Ladew and of Mrs. Ladew with Jimmy Lannigan. And, when Ida reported the
results of her interview with Miss Rainforth, Nick realized that the
rest of the story could be pieced out by Mrs. Ladew, if he could induce
her to talk.

Without delay, then, he had hurried at once to Philadelphia, and had
followed Mrs. Ladew to the department store where she met Lannigan.

Believing from what he had learned of Mrs. Ladew that she would not talk
to him willingly, he had determined that he would use the knowledge of
her escapade in New York with Lannigan as the means of compelling her.

His success he now felt was as great as he could have hoped for.

During the brief space of time taken to go from the ladies’ parlor into
the carriage, Mrs. Ladew had evidently thought that her whole safety lay
in giving her utmost confidence to the famous detective.

A part of this lay in that impression of trustworthiness that Nick made
upon all with whom he came in contact.

And so it was that, when they were in the carriage and had driven out
of the crowded streets into Fairmount Park, Mrs. Ladew said,
impulsively:

“I shall tell you all, Mr. Carter. But if I do so, can I rely upon you
to save me from the consequences of my folly?”

“You can rely upon me to the uttermost. I have no commission except to
find Mr. Ellison and discover the mystery of his disappearance. I have
no duty to perform in punishing anybody. But I will protect you and
safeguard you from any trouble that may come out of your relations with
Lannigan or with Mr. Ellison.”

Mrs. Ladew turned on him, astonished.

“And do you know of that, too?”

Nick bowed his head and said:

“I do know of that. Now, please answer the question I asked you before
we left the ladies’ parlor of that store. What message did that man
bring to Mr. Ellison that made him respond so promptly?”

“The message was that if Mr. Ellison did not at once go to see the wife
he had married in England six years before, and who was then nearby, she
would appear at that reception and expose him in the presence of
everybody.”

This reply was as near a shock to the famous detective as he, used to
startling announcements, could have. He had not contemplated any such
complication. But he promptly asked the next question:

“Did you know of that previous marriage?”

“Not until that afternoon.”

“What did you then learn?”

“I learned that Mr. Ellison had married, secretly, a young woman of
great beauty who was a barmaid in England, but from whom he had been
separated almost immediately; that, for a large sum of money, she had
consented to consider the marriage annulled, and that for several years
he had seen nothing of her.

“Very shortly after Mr. Ellison came to this country I made his
acquaintance, and he began to come to Philadelphia quite frequently to
see me.

“Our relations were quite intimate and he was a frequent visitor at my
house and was on good terms with my husband.

“It seems that a brother of this girl lived in Philadelphia and one day
met him on the street, recognizing him as the young fellow who had been
married to his sister and who had paid a large sum to be free from that
marriage.

“Just how Mr. Ellison became acquainted with a set of men of whom Mr.
Lannigan was one, I don’t know, but he did, and, being fond of cards and
gambling, he began to gamble with them. I have been told that he lost
large sums of money to them, and that they hold his notes for sums to be
paid when he was married to Miss Sanborn.

“This man, the brother of his former wife, while not of the party with
whom he gambled, was yet in close relations with Lannigan, to whom he
told his story. I had had a bitter quarrel with Mr. Ellison before I
ever met Mr. Lannigan, or even knew there was such a person. It was not
until some time after that that I even knew Mr. Lannigan was acquainted
with Mr. Ellison. But I have come to know that Mr. Lannigan knew of my
relation with Mr. Ellison.

“What I do know is that this brother, whose name is Clowes, wanted to
blackmail Mr. Ellison. But Mr. Lannigan simply told Clowes that, even if
he did expose Mr. Ellison, the result would not be money, but merely the
breaking off of his match with Miss Sanborn. It is only since the
marriage that I have known all these matters.

“Under the guidance of Mr. Lannigan, Clowes put himself into relations
with Mr. Ellison and told him that he was free to go on with the
marriage of Miss Sanborn, because his sister was dead. But he sent for
that sister hurriedly to come to this country.

“As I learned, the intention was to have her here a day or two prior to
the marriage and then force him, on the eve of his marriage, to another
compromise or payment of a large sum.

“Their programme was checked by the non-arrival of the sister in time.

“About the attempt of Mr. Lannigan to rob the Sanborn house of the
jewels, I know nothing; but, now that you tell me such was the case, I
can see that that was intended and that I was to have been made use of
to that end.

“It was at first arranged that Mr. Lannigan was to attend the reception
with me. But the fact that I learned that some Philadelphia people were
to be there who knew him broke up that arrangement.

“The sister of Clowes, Ellison’s wife, arrived in this country on the
morning of the wedding.

“That morning Mr. Ellison was informed that she was not dead, but was in
this country and demanded to see him.

“Mr. Ellison refused to believe it.

“Mr. Lannigan says that the plan of summoning him from the reception was
decided upon very hastily and that his valet was bribed to assist in it.

“Clowes was sneaked into the house by the aid of the valet, and Mr.
Ellison was taken to him in a room in which he had been placed.

“There Clowes showed Mr. Ellison a letter from his wife, who declared
that if he did not immediately see her in a carriage that was in a
nearby street she would make her appearance and prove her former
marriage to Mr. Sanborn.

“Mr. Ellison, convinced that she was there, yielded, and took the coat
and wig and false whiskers that Clowes had bought for the purpose and
slipped out of the house, intending to return very quickly.

“He entered the carriage, and, being an obstinate and high-spirited man,
by the time the brother reached them they were in a bitter quarrel, in
which Mr. Ellison had recklessly defied them to do their worst,
declaring that he would lock them both up for extortion and conspiracy.

“Then the brother, finding that Mr. Ellison was not to be handled,
chloroformed him and drove him away. The valet, frightened over the
result, fled from the city.”

Nick had listened to this story in utter astonishment. The facts, as
they had been revealed, were wholly different from what he had imagined.

It was true, as Miss Rainforth in her second anonymous letter to him had
hinted, that a woman was at the bottom of the disappearance. But the
woman was by no means the one she had supposed.

Miss Rainforth had believed that Mrs. Ladew was concerned in that
disappearance, and such belief had been inspired by her jealousy of that
woman.

In the recital of Mrs. Ladew it was clear that she had no part in the
disappearance, but only a guilty knowledge of the event.

All that she knew had been told her by Lannigan, who had either given
this to Mrs. Ladew for a purpose not apparent to Nick or in that
weakness strong men often show in their relations with women.

“What was expected to be gained by taking Mr. Ellison off?” asked Nick.

“Nothing,” replied Mrs. Ladew. “The abduction, if you can call it
abduction, became necessary because of the attitude that Mr. Ellison
assumed. He is a man slow to anger, but, when aroused fully, almost a
lunatic in his temper. At such times he casts all thoughts of prudence
aside and becomes utterly reckless and unmanageable.

“Mr. Lannigan tells me that when he discovered the plot, and that it was
the intention to force him to sign a legal document that would compel
him to pay a large sum of money for their silence, he fell into one of
those ungovernable fits of passion, so that there was nothing else to do
but to chloroform him to keep him quiet. It was that which made the
mysterious disappearance.”

“Mr. Lannigan must have been in the plot,” said Nick.

“He was.”

“Did you not know of it?”

“Not until the evening of that day--last night.”

“Did you, then, not know that Mr. Lannigan was not a straight person?”
asked Nick.

“I could not help but know it then,” replied Mrs. Ladew. “I knew that he
was a gambler, but I did not know that he was a thief and a burglar, as
you say he is, and yet it must be so.”

“What is the plan now?”

Mrs. Ladew shuddered.

“Here is where danger is to me,” she said. “After having chloroformed
him and carried him away, they did not know what to do with him. Their
whole plans were upset. But they have now determined to hold him until
he is ransomed.”

“And you have been made a party to this?” asked Nick, jumping to a
conclusion.

“Yes.”

Mrs. Ladew startled Nick by bursting into a passion, the depth of which
Nick, who had judged her to be a weak, superficial, reckless woman, did
not think her capable of.

“Oh the blackness of it! The humiliation! The degradation! Lannigan
showed himself to me to-day in all his villainy, and would have pulled
me with him if you had not interfered.”

“What was it he proposed?” asked Nick.

“Using the power over me he has gained, he called me to him where you
saw me and forced me to consent to see Mr. Ellison to-night to act as
the means of getting the money they desire.”

“See him to-night?” asked Nick. “Where could you see him?”

“Here in Philadelphia. He is to be here.”

“Where?”

“I do not know, but Mr. Lannigan is to let me know and to take me to the
place where Mr. Ellison is to be, or is now, for all that I know.”

Nick was thoughtful for a time and then he said:

“Can you go with him without discovery?”

“Easily.”

“Then do so,” said Nick. “I shall be on hand to protect and save you. I
promise you that you will not even be compelled to meet Mr. Ellison. But
you will be followed to the place where you are to meet him, and rest
assured that I will protect you to the very last.”

He turned sharply to the lady and said:

“Are you ready to break with this man Lannigan, or are you anxious to
continue your friendship with him?”

“No, no,” she cried; “after what you have told me I do not wish to see
his face again.”

“Then rest assured that you will be free of him, if you will do this as
I want you to do. I pledge you my word that afterward you will not be
troubled by Lannigan.”

This being arranged, Nick asked Mrs. Ladew to hurry back to the city, as
he had much to do in preparing for the night’s work.

Half an hour later he left the coach with the understanding that she was
to communicate with him the hour at which she was to meet Lannigan for
the purpose he had asked her.

As he stepped from the coach he saw Patsy, who had faithfully followed
him as Nick had directed.

He went to him, saying:

“Hot work to-night, Patsy, but we will end it before midnight.”



CHAPTER XXVI.

CONCLUSION.


When Patsy had met Nick at the department store, he had no opportunity
to tell him of the experience of himself and Chick that day in
Philadelphia.

He did so now, however. Nick listened intently, and at the conclusion
said:

“Good. You and Chick have found out the very thing to make my story
complete. We could get along without Mrs. Ladew.”

Patsy was surprised at this remark, for he did not know then what had
passed between Mrs. Ladew and his chief.

“I guess this is where I need some information,” he said.

“Well, then, Patsy, I’ll make you as wise as myself,” said Nick Carter.

He then told Patsy in brief the story he had learned from Mrs. Ladew.

At its conclusion Patsy exclaimed:

“I see it all! The thing that is coming in a covered carriage to that
place at ten to-night is his nibs, the Englishman.”

“That’s what it is,” said Nick.

“And they’re going to stow him in that back building. That’s the game.”

“I think you’re right.”

“Well, it’s a nasty place. It’s a nasty place to bring a woman, and it
won’t be an easy thing to get that fellow out of it.”

“Easy or not,” said Nick, calmly, “we have got to go through it. I
guess we’ve been in worse places and come out whole.”

After a moment he said:

“I wonder where we can pick up Chick.”

“Don’t know,” said Patsy. “The last I saw of him he was trailing
Lannigan, holding fast to the man he had in tow.”

“He’ll turn up in time,” said Nick. “Chick is always on hand at the
right time. But come with me now, Patsy. I must see Ida.”

“Is Ida here?”

“Yes; she came over with me, for I did not know but that she would have
to do the work of Mrs. Ladew. As it is, she must go to her.”

They hurried to the hotel where Nick had left Ida, and there, having
written a note to Mrs. Ladew, Nick gave it to Ida and told her that she
must accompany Mrs. Ladew when she was called by Lannigan.

This Ida did at once, and saw Mrs. Ladew without difficulty.

It was well for Nick’s plans that he did send Ida to the lady, for, on
arriving, Ida found Mrs. Ladew almost in a state of collapse, as a
reaction from the excitement of the day, and disposed, if not
determined, to go no further the matter, refusing to have anything
further to do with Lannigan, on the ground that Nick Carter was on their
trail.

Ida devoted herself toward soothing and encouraging Mrs. Ladew, and had
the satisfaction of presently seeing the woman in a better frame of
mind, and with courage to go through the ordeal before her.

While this was going on, Nick and Patsy set out on the rather hopeless
task of trying to find Chick in a large and strange city.

It was nearly night when they set out, and they wandered about an hour
without discovering trace of Chick. Finally they reached the Broad
Street station in their wanderings, and as they stood in front of it
they saw Lannigan approach and enter.

“Chick’s somewhere around,” remarked Patsy.

“Unless he’s lost Lannigan,” said Nick.

“Chick never loses anybody,” said Patsy.

And to confirm his statement, Chick walked up to them.

“You can drop Lannigan,” said Nick, “for we have got on to his movements
and know he will be where we want him to-night.”

“Don’t you think,” said Patsy, “it would be just as well to find out
what Lannigan is doing here in the station?”

“Perhaps so,” said Nick. “It will do no harm.”

“Lannigan has been as busy as possible,” said Chick. “He’s led me a
chase up and down into all sorts of queer places. He’s got a funeral on
hand.”

Patsy laughed aloud.

“He’ll be lucky,” he said, “if it’s not his own funeral. That’s what I
think he’s going to.”

“What do you mean by saying he’s got a funeral?” asked Nick.

“Because he’s been running among the undertakers and to the Health
Board. I know he has got a permit to transport a body across town.”

“A permit?” asked Nick.

“Now what does that mean? And what has that to do with this thing?”

“Cæsar’s ghost!” cried Patsy, “that Englishman hasn’t spoiled our fun by
croaking, has he?”

“Follow him, Patsy,” said Nick, “and see what he’s doing here. Then come
to the hotel.”

Patsy was off like a flash, and Nick, taking Chick by the arm, took him
to the hotel, on the way telling him of all the developments with which
Chick was unfamiliar.

Arriving at the hotel, Nick found a note from Ida saying that Lannigan
had called Mrs. Ladew to meet him in a carriage at a certain corner of
the street she named, at half-past ten that night, and that Ida was
going with her as her maid.

“That is all settled and according to programme,” said Nick.

Patsy now rushed in to tell them that Lannigan had been making
arrangements to receive a corpse coming from New York on the train
arriving at nine-thirty.

The three detectives dined and discussed this last movement of Lannigan,
but they could conceive no reasonable explanation, finally reaching the
conclusion that it had nothing to do with their affair.

As the hour approached, Nick sent Patsy to the corner where Lannigan was
to meet Mrs. Ladew with a coach, while he and Chick went out to the
house that he had visited with Patsy in the earlier part of the day.

“It is somewhat of a chance,” said Nick, “that we are taking, but I have
no doubt that that is the destination of Lannigan with Mrs. Ladew.”

“At all events,” said Chick, “if he’s going to take her anywhere else,
Patsy and Ida will be on hand.”

Arriving at the spot, they took a careful survey of the house and the
place, and made the discovery that the double doors in the fence, which
Chick and Patsy had observed, were slightly open.

“Ready for the covered carriage to drive in,” remarked Chick.

It was then after nine o’clock, and the two settled themselves for a
wait until ten, the hour at which Lannigan had told Dempsey the covered
carriage would reach there.

A few minutes before ten the doors were swung open and, as Chick was
quick to recognize, by Tom Driscoll.

It was almost on the very hour that they saw a hearse approaching. As it
turned the corner the horses were whipped up suddenly and they dashed
through the gates, which were closed immediately after the hearse passed
through.

“Oho!” exclaimed Chick. “Now, what is the meaning of that?”

“A part of your undertakers’ work to-day,” said Nick. “But what of it?
What scheme is this?”

“Nick,” said Chick, earnestly, “do you think they could have killed
Ellison?”

“And brought his body all the way over to Philadelphia?” said Nick.
“That is hardly possible.”

They stole up the street to a point opposite the gates.

From that point, however, they could see nothing.

A tree was immediately opposite the courtyard on the side of the street
on which they stood.

“Give me a back,” said Chick, in a whisper. “I’ll climb up and see if I
can look over the fence.”

Nick made a back for Chick, and in a moment Chick was up in the branches
overlooking the fence.

While he was there the gates were suddenly opened, and a flood of light
shone out. The hearse came from the yard and was rapidly driven away.

The gates were then immediately closed again. In a moment or two Chick
slipped down from the tree. He said to Nick:

“A box like those they put caskets in was brought in that hearse. It was
heavy; it took six men to draw it by ropes from the pavement to the
bridge. It was then carried into the rear room of that house in the
rear, the lights of which you can see.

“Then they brought out the box light, for they let it down easily and
carried it into the stable.”

“Something mysterious here,” said Nick. “Is it possible that they have
brought Ellison over from New York in that box?”

“Drugged, so as to be unconscious?” asked Chick.

“It begins to look like that,” said Nick. “They could do it by
perforating the casket with air holes.”

He was silent a moment or two, deeply thinking. At last he said:

“It must be so. They say they will have Ellison here to-night. Mrs.
Ladew has been forced by Lannigan to meet him to-night. Ellison would
hardly come over here willingly, and the chances of his escape, of being
recognized or of alarming the public, would be too great for them to
attempt to force him over. Chick, the only way in which they could get
him over is to bring him unconscious and as a corpse.”

“It must be so,” said Chick. “Ellison was in that box. They have lifted
him out and he is in that room where the lights are.”

“Then we have located our man.”

“And we’ll be sure of it, if Lannigan comes with Mrs. Ladew here.”

“I presume,” said Nick, “if we are right, that they are busy now in
restoring Ellison to consciousness.”

“Our trick,” said Chick, “is to wait here and watch for the coming of
Lannigan with Mrs. Ladew.”

It was half-past ten by this time and, according to their calculations,
Lannigan could not reach there before eleven.

They settled themselves for the wait, and promptly on the hour of their
calculations they saw a coach round the corner.

The doors in the fence swung open again, and as the coach turned into
the gate Nick and Chick sprang behind and close to it.

The wheels had not rolled over the sidewalk before Patsy came up on a
run and joined them.

As the coach cleared the gates they were swung to as before. But not
quickly enough to shut out the three detectives.

The moment it stopped the door of the coach was opened and Lannigan
stepped out.

Nick, with a bound, was beside him and, striking him heavily with the
butt of his pistol on the head, knocked him clean over. At the same
moment he called to Ida to guard Mrs. Ladew in the coach.

Driscoll, who was in the courtyard to receive the carriage, seeing the
attack on Lannigan, rushed forward, but was met by Patsy, who hit him
squarely in the face, but not until Driscoll had recognized Nick Carter
and cried out his name.

Though he had fallen under the force of Patsy’s blow, he picked himself
up and took to his heels without waiting for anything further to occur.

Under the lead of Nick, Chick and Patsy rushed to the winding stairs and
reached the bridge before an alarm had been given to any of the others.

Who they were to meet they had little idea, but Chick thought they would
have to encounter not less than six.

As they entered that rear building from the bridge they met a man whom
Nick concluded at once was the man Clowes and, without waiting for any
act upon that man’s part, he sprang forward and struck him a terrific
blow in the face which toppled him over.

“Take care of that man, Patsy,” cried Nick.

He dashed along the hallway, closely followed by Chick.

Patsy stopped to look at the man and saw at a glance that he was
unconscious. He called after Nick:

“You’ve done that already. I couldn’t take better care of him if I was
to hit him with a sledge-hammer.”

And he ran after the other two.

At the door of the room where they supposed Ellison had been taken they
met two or three, who had been attracted by the noise and scuffle in the
hall.

Nick sprang forward, striking with both hands, and Chick was beside him
in the effort.

The force with which they had jumped forward carried them into the room.
A hasty glance showed them a man bound on the bed, while one was bending
over him.

They waited for nothing, but each of the three detectives selected a man
and toppled him over with blows.

The onslaught had been so rapid, and so vicious, as well as unexpected,
that the men were hardly prepared to defend themselves.

Nick sprang to the bedside and, whirling the man who stood there aside,
and who, as they subsequently learned, was a physician, said to the
prostrate man:

“We are your friends, Mr. Ellison.”

He could see the man’s eyes flash with intelligence and, whipping out a
knife, Nick cut the bands that confined him and, thrusting a revolver in
his hand, said:

“Help to defend yourself.”

Ellison sprang from the bed as soon as his feet were released, while
Nick turned to help Chick and Patsy, on whom the men, now recovered from
their confusion, were attempting to make a combined attack.

They had been joined in the meantime by Dempsey.

Chick recognized him at once, and he went at that man, who had already
drawn a revolver, striking him in the face with the butt end of his
own.

Ellison joined them instantly, and, weak as he was, quickly showed his
fighting power.

Though there were seven of them in the room, the four soon overcame
them, driving them before them out of the room and into the passageway.

There they were at the mercy of the four behind them, for the way was
narrow, and in their efforts to escape they blocked each other against
the wall.

There were broken heads in plenty, but they managed to reach the bridge,
some of them escaping over it and some down the winding stairs, among
them Clowes, who, recovering consciousness, ran away.

The four went down the stairs into the courtyard, but by the time they
had reached it the men who had fled from them had entirely disappeared.

The coach was still standing there, the driver sitting contentedly on
his box, while Lannigan was sitting on the pavement.

For a moment Nick could not imagine what he was doing there, and thought
that he must be yet dazed with the blow he had given him.

But, passing the heads of the horses, he saw the reason for Lannigan’s
attitude.

Ida was sitting on the coach step covering him with a revolver, having
threatened to put a ball into him if he stirred.

“Get up, Lannigan,” said Nick. “You can put up that revolver, Ida.”

Turning to Ellison, Nick said:

“Mr. Ellison, I was only commissioned to discover the mystery of your
disappearance and find you. I shall not attempt to do anything to these
rascals on my commission. It is for you to determine whether you will
make a charge against them and arrest them. I want to say to you that if
you care to consider the wishes of Mr. Sanborn and the lady you married
yesterday, you will do nothing. It is for you to determine whether you
can go clean handed to your friends.”

“I think I understand you,” said Mr. Ellison, “you refer to the story of
my having been married some years ago in England.”

“I do,” replied Nick.

“It is true that I was married, most unfortunately. I was informed
months ago that my wife was dead, as I had heard two years or more
before.”

“I understand that,” replied Nick; “and that your wife made her
appearance in this country on the day of your wedding to Miss Sanborn.”

“That is what I was informed, and the fact that she was nearby induced
me to leave the house as I did. But the fact is, Mr. Carter, the woman I
met in that coach was not my wife. She was my wife’s sister, who looks
much like her. It was a fraud played upon me. It was my discovery of it
that led to my being chloroformed and kept in confinement. My wife is
dead.”

“And you are, therefore, legally and fairly married to Miss Sanborn,”
said Nick. “It is not for me to advise you, Mr. Ellison, but my duty to
Mr. Sanborn leads me to say that I know, if his wishes are to be
consulted and those of the lady who is now your wife, everything will be
done to prevent publicity and notoriety, even if it results in the
escape of these rascals from the justice they so richly merit.”

“That accords with my feelings,” returned Mr. Ellison, “though my first
impulse was to seek revenge on them.”

Nick then went to the coach door and spoke to Mrs. Ladew, saying:

“My aid, Ida here, will return with you to your house, Mrs. Ladew. You
may go in the full assurance that you will not be bothered by
Lannigan.”

To Ida he said:

“As soon as you leave Mrs. Ladew, come to the hotel. We shall go back to
New York as soon as we can. A new case awaits us there.”

He then directed the driver to drive off with the two occupants, and
when the courtyard was cleared of the coach he turned to Lannigan,
saying:

“Jimmy Lannigan, I have always heard that your luck is very great, but
this time it has deserted you. Some time ago I let you slip out of my
hands, believing that the warning would keep you straight. I was wrong.
I know now that you are crooked all the way through. You would be a
menace to the community if I let you off again, and this time I’m going
to run you in--under the old charge.”

Lannigan, who thought he had escaped again, was so much confused that he
simply stared at Nick and made no movement until he felt the cold steel
on his wrists and knew that he was handcuffed and in Nick’s power.

Then his passions let loose and he turned a flood of abuse upon the
detective. But Nick quickly stopped the fellow with an effective gag and
prepared to remove him in custody.

Subsequently he was taken to New York and Nick Carter’s testimony was so
damaging that Lannigan was sentenced to ten years in the State’s prison.


THE END.


No. 1099 of the NEW MAGNET LIBRARY, entitled, “A Race Track Gamble,” by
Nicholas Carter, is a great story, and tells how the quick-witted Nick
caught a gang of race-track crooks, after much trouble and many dangers,
and sent them where they could do no more harm for some years to come.

       *       *       *       *       *

                _Adventure Stories_
                _Detective Stories_
                _Western Stories_
                _Love Stories_
                _Sea Stories_
                */


All classes of fiction are to be found among the Street & Smith novels.
Our line contains reading matter for every one, irrespective of age or
preference.

The person who has only a moderate sum to spend on reading matter will
find this line a veritable gold mine.


                      STREET & SMITH CORPORATION,
                          79 Seventh Avenue,
                            New York, N. Y.



*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Sharper's Downfall - Or, Into the Net" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files. We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's search system for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.




Home