Chapter 18892337

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Chapter NumberXVI
Chapter TitleRALPH ON HAND.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18892337
Full Date1887-04-30
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count1830
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Long Chase
article text

CHAPTER XVI.

RALPH OKHANB.

It was broad daylight when Nick awoke.

He glanced at Billy and saw he was still sountl asleep.

"I guess I can duplicate your ugly face, "I'll, try if anyhow." ,

He had evidentally come prepared for exactly this case for he drew from his pocket his paints and a black wig.

With a pair of pocket scissors ho trimmed the hau- of 'the wig to a right shape, and then with some pomatum1 dressed it in exact imitation of Billy's

hair.- .

A slightly different curl was givn to his mous- tache, and with his paints he had soon turned him- self into another Billy, so like him that the villian could not have known but he was looking in a

mirror had he seen Nick now.

It waa with a slight shudder that he took up the rough grey pea-jacket which Billy had thrown off, for it reminded him of the gray wool he had found

under his father's nails.

His next care was to search Billy.

He did s«, but was evidently disappointed.

"I ought to fittd that money somewhere," 'he

muttered.

"He must have it about him, for he wouldn't have any safe place to keep it.

Nick felt carefully over the man's breast, and presently uttered an exclamation.

In a twinkling he opened Billy's shirt, and turn- ing it back, unpinned a flat package wrapped up in

a white handkerchief.

He opened it and counted nineteen one thousand

dollar bills.

He had already fonnd several hundred in Billy's pocket.

" My, but wont he be mad at Jimmy the Bouncer when he wakes up." "3"

And with a grim smile Nick took a last look to see that his victim was secure, and then went out, locking the door, and carrying the key with him.

It was now nine o'clock.

Nick went to a restaurant and leisurely ate as good a breakfast as ho could get.

He bought a newspaper with some dread, fearing to see a sensational account of his father's murder ; but evidentally the inspector had kept his werd, for

there was not a word about it.

A little after ten o'clock he went to a livery stable, and succeeded after a great dexl of trouble, in inducing the proprietor to let him have a pair of good horses and a coach.

The man was evidently suspicious, and was not any less BO that Nick offered to leave a deposit covering the value of the turn-out.

In the end, ihowever, he took the deposit, charged a good round sum, and let Nick drive away alone

on the coachman's seat.

It was a minute or two before eleven o'clock when he turned into the secluded little street knowsn as

Rutherford Place.

Mansfield was impatiently walking up and down, evidently fearing Billy would not bo on time, for his face lighted up when he saw the carriage, and ho exclaimed, joyfully ..

" Good for you, Billy ! I wasafraid you'd be late." "What should I be late for ?" retorted Nick, in Billy's amiable growl.

" Well, I'm glad you've come, any how." " Why shouldn't I como ?"

" Oh, but you don't understand how important this is. We'd have been in a nice mess if you ' hadn't ; though we've plenty of time now."

" Well, s'pose you let me know what I've got to

do."

"I just saw Gilbert. He's found the girl, and is sure he can get her to come here to meet More- land-me, you know. I'm to keep back in tue coach, so she can only see enough of me to be sure

it's Moieland.

" Gilbert is to urge her into the coach, .on the

j ground of secrecy, and the moment she's in, and

I before she'll know what's what, I'll grab her and

dose her with chloroform. Then you muse whip up and get to the Forty-third street house as quick as ever yau can." .*?

" What are you goin' to do with her ?"

" Do with her ? You know as well as I do."

" Who said I didéjjb? I mean, now at the Forty

third street house !"

"Keep her .till called for."

That was evidently a joke, for Mansfield laughed heartily.

" When'll Gilbert be here." j

" Not before quarter of twelve, anyhow."

" Is that so? What's the use of »s waitia' here all that time ? We might be suspeetei."

" True enough. Why, how cautious you're get-

ting, Billy!"

" Have to be since I'm gettin' rich and respect-

able."

Billy's respectability was joke enough, and both men laughed heartily over it.

" Get inside, and I'll drive you slowly round the square," said Nick, referring to the tWû parks in

neighbourhood.

Mansfield stepped inside and Nick drove on slowly. All the while he was busy handling something, and at the same time was glancing cautiously

around. 11

He turned into Livingston place, and it was quite

deserted.

Suddenly he drew np the horses, got off the box, and went quickly to the window.

" Mansfield," he said, hurriedly.

Mansfield, already curious to know why Billy had dismounted, thrust his head out of the window.

In an instant he was held as in a vice, and Nick's chloroform sponge was filling Ms mouth and nostrils.

It did not take long to render him insensible.

Nick then pushed him back in the coach, closed both windows, and pulled -down the shades so that nobody could seo inside.

Then climbing quickly to the eatA once more. Nick drove as rapidly as ho could down Second

avenue.

" This isn't exactly -what I intended," said Nick ; " but if ït works right it will bo better. Now, if only Moreland is waiting ! If1 not I've put my fool;

in it."

Even as ho soliloquised he glanced keenly down the avenue, and thought he could distinguí sb, Ralph's figure.

And Ralph was indeed there.

Evidently he was terribly excited, for lie was pacing furiously up and down.

"TPoolish'! foolish!" muttered Nick. "Does lie want anybody to watch him ? Poor fellow ! I sup- pose he'6 been through a pretty Bcvero ordeal 'tibis nrorning. Action will do him good, and hell.' g<$ plenty of that."

He stopped by the kerbstone.

'Ralph stared at him and commenced his walk again.

" Moreland ! Here ! Quick !"

" Ralph wheeled about as if shot and ran up to the coach, gazing eagerly at Nick.

" Give me your hand," said the latter.

" Oh, it is you, then ?" exclaimed Ralph, as he hastily took Nick's hand. " And is-is Mabel-'

"No.no. Como closo to me. A man disguised as you is'in there stupofied with chloroform. Get in. I will drive to your house. Not a word now. Time is precious. So."

Ralph was inside gaiing curiously and yet witlt a dull fear at his heart at the man so strangely like himself. How could he hope to cope sue cessfully

with such rascals ?

Then he thought of Nick and his wonderful 'und mysterious power of seeing through »verybody's

secrets.

" He, at least, is our friend," thought Ralph, and the thought gave him courage. ?

In the meantime Nick was rapidly covering the ground to Morelands house, and at last Ralph felt the coach stop. '

He stepped out at once and was met by Nick who had already dismounted.

" Give me your door key." It was given.

" Now stand at the horses' heads." Ralph did as ho was bidden.

Nick »pened the coach door wide, leaned in and taking Mansfield up, as if he had been a child, he carried him with lighting speed across the side-

walk and into the house.

Nor did he pause until the unconscious man was lying on a lounge.

Snatching a handkerchief froma drawer he cram-

med it into Mansfield's mouth.

Then he caught up some stout twine, of which there was plenty in the room, and securely tied him to tho lounge.

A pair of handcuffs snapped on his wráts and then also tied down made the man as secure as a mummy.

" My last pair of handcuffs," said Nick. " I hope I sha'nt need any mpre to-day j but I'll take some

of this twine in case I do."

He had already searched Mansfield; but had ,found nothing of importance, although, half-hoping to find the twenty thousand dollars, he had searched carefully.

" Now, listen," he said, when he was once more in the street by Ralph's side. " Do you know a Mr.

Gilbert?"

" Yes, very well."

'* When the carriage stops you are to keep your- self in such a position that you can be seen by any- body coming toward you.

" About twelve or a quarter to you will seo Mr. ,Gilbert bring Mabel towards you. Be very careful not to be too eager. Remember you are only a sham Ralph Moreland.

" Gilbert will urge Mabel into the carriage. You open the door as soon as they are near you. He will shut the door, and I will drive off without waiting for anything.

" Do you understand ? I leave it to you to keep Mabel calm. Do not explain to her except to say that Gilbert is a villian and you are saving her. Remember that. It is important."

" I will do my best."

And Ralph stepped into the coach and Nick drove

off.

There was still ample time when the coach

reached Rutherford Place.

They had to wait more than a quarter of an hour, and a long, anxious time it was for Ralph.

Nick waited more calmly, but even he was excited, though he was able to keep himself under perfect

control.

At last he saw Gilbert and a closely veiled woman coming quickly along the street. '

Almost at the same moment he heard the clatter as of a vehicle turning the corner of the block

behind him.

H« turned hastily.

A coach, furiously driven, had swung around the Horner and was rapidly approaching.

He could distinguish the driver's face.

It was Billy, ?whom he had drugged and bound.

Gilbert looked hurriedly at him-started-looktd

at Nick.

The pole of Billy's carriage brought up with a thump on the back of Nick's coach.

Mabel saw him, and, frightened by the excite- ment she saw in the faces of the men about her,

and by the furious approach of the coach, she gave

a glad cry and sprang forward. i . But Billy, who was better able than Gilbert to i comprehend what was being done, had already leaped savagely from his seat, and as Mabel would have stepped into the coach with Ralph, threw his arm around her and dragged her to his coxch.

" Ralph, Ralph," she cried, " save me, save me !"