|Chapter Title||"I WILL NEVER RETURN HOME."|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||A Long Chase|
CHAPTER XVII. .
I " I WILL NEVEB RETeTKN HOME.
But Ralph was not needed.
Nick had watched everything. He had hoped to get Mabel into his coach before Billy could reach
Seeing that was not to be, however, he had held himself in readiness for any emergency.
Before Ralph could respond to Mabel's cry. Nick had leaped to the ground and taken the struggling girl in one arm, while with the other he had sent Billy reeling and half senseless against the iron railing«.
To push Mabel into the coach and Ralph after
her waB the work of a second.
In another moment he was in his seat, and was rolling rapidly down the street
A glance backward told him that Billy waa being bundled into the coach by Mr. Gilbert, and that Dave, who had been inside, was taking the reins, with the evident intention of following him.
Just what they hoped to gain by this Nick could notât first imagine; but suddenly it occurred to him that they must look upon this as a stratagem of Ralph's.
Nothing could have pleased Nick better, for ho was anxious not to be known to the villains as a detective engaged on their case.
" I never tried dodging with a coach," said Nick "bat I guess I'm equal to it."
He turned up Second avenue instead of going down toward the bridge, as he wished to mislead his pursuers.
He ran into the car track, and striking the horses, urged them into a sharp trot.
Dave was evidontly not such a reckless driver as Billy, for Nick was nearly a block in advance when the former turned into the avenue»
?Gilbert seemed to notice this, too, for Nick could seo him talking excitedly to Dave through the
Suddenly tho coach stppped, and Billy got oVit.
Ho had recovered from the blow Nick had given
him, and athing to catch the man who had tricked I him so, now again took his Boat on the box.
The horses were good ones, but Nick believed he could keep at least a block ahead for a while yet.
He,turned up Twentieth street, and kept on to Fourth; avenue j then down to Seventeenth street,
over to Broadway, and straight on to the Union square hack-stand.
Ho pulled up quickly alongside oE a hack whoso
driver was seated on the box.
"Hello!" " Say on."
" D'ye see that coach coming there ?"
" Will you head it off for a ten-dollar bill ?" " You bet."
" Hero's the money. Look sharp now."
Nick drove quickly off agai», and the hock driver gathered up his reins and followed close
Nick turned down Fourteenth stroet to Fourth avenue and then down there.
Now was the hackraan's opportunity.
He persistently walked his horse in the places where it was impossible for Billy to pass him, and zig-zagged where it was clear enough to pass.
Billy comprehended the dodge, and cursed fright
fully at the hackman as he saw ' Nick steadily gaining.
He threatened to run his pole into the hack, but the driver only grinned, knowing his own skill too well to fear such a thing.
Billy finaly saw that he nniBfc outwit the man, and ho did so by suddenly turning into a side street intending to turn up again at a street further down.
Nick did the same in the opposite direction, knowing that now he was safe.
He saw no more of his pursuers, and quickly drove down town, over the bridge into Brooklyn, and then to Ralph's aunt's.
When Ralph and Mabel had alighted Nick drove off saying he would return in a few minutes.
He took the horses to a livery stable near by, and left them there to bo fed while he went back to Mrs. Roper's.
He found Mabel, palo and troubled looking, sit- ting in the parlor with Ralph and his aunt.
Nick called Ralph into another room. " What has she told you ?"
" Nothing. She has refused to say a word about her reason for leaving home."
" What have you told her ?"
" Only that you had learned of the plot to carry her off, and had thwarted it."
" Please eall your aunt out of the parlor. I will talk
with Miss Mabel."
Ralph did as requested, and Nick entered the parlor Alone.
"Mr. Moreland has told you that I am a detec-
" Yes, sir."
" And that I am engaged by your father to find you ?"
" Yes, BUT."
"Well I have found you. Shall I tell your
'. You may do so, but I will never return home." Tliis waB not said defiantly but with a piteous sadness that deeply affected the young detective.
" Will you not tell me why you have made such a strange resolve."
" I cannot."
" But think of the suffering of your parents ?" ** I have thought of it."
" And it does not move you."
"Ah, sir, if you only knew what I have suffered." " I do not doubt that you have." Nick spoke compassionately.
" But why not trust me. I have but one object in view, and that is your parents' interest and yours. Surely you can trust me."
" Trust you, yes ; but I cannot confide in you.
Hear me, sir. I ara only a weak, simple A1!, bùt.ï,
have the courage that every true woman has-the courage to Buffer for those I love. It was to save them suffering that I left them, and it was for the same reason that I cannot go back,"
" But you muy be mistaken."
" Alas there is no hope of that. Believe me it is better that my-my-parents should not know that I have been found."
Nick co»ld understand now why everybody scouted the idea, in the face of any evidence, that Mabel could have been guilty of any meanness.
His short interview with her had impressed him with the feeling that she was the embodiment of all that was true, pure, and unselfish.
He realized, too that ander her child-like gentle-, ness was a firmness which nothing could shake.
"She must have some certain knowledge of a terrible character to have driven her to such a course," he thought.
His resolution was quickly taken.
" Miss Mabel, I am employed by your father for a certain purpose-to find you. But tell me did you know that the same day you left home one
hundred thousand dollars were taken from your ,
father's safe ?"
" No," murmured Mabel, while a frightened ex- pression came into her eyes."
" It is true."
" Who took it ?" she whispered, and seemed to be listening with dread for the answer.
" Everything seemed to indicate that you took
Mabel drew herself up indignantly; then sud- denly checked herself, and with a relieved expres- sion, said :
"Papa will not grudge me even so much as
" Then you acknowledge having taken it."
"Who else could have done it? I knew it was there."
" But your father declares it is simply impossible that you could have taken it. He will not believe it. Nor will your mother."
" Who e].o could have taken it." |
" But only a moment ago you said you did not
know it was taken."
"Did I say that?"
."Miss Mabel, you aro not fit for deception. You knew nothing about that money and you make me have grave suspicions of some one of whom you love enough to shield. You did not take it, but you suspect some one."
" Oh !" she cried, in terror.
She was afraid of this man, who seemed to read her thoughts.
" Do you know," said Nick changing the subject quickly, " that you are in danger from those villians who tried to kidnap you ?"
" They will not harm mo. I am not afraid of
Nick was astounded.
Mabel spoke sadly, but confidently. Again Nick shifted his ground.
"I was saying that I am employed to find you. Your father says he cares nothing about the money ho wants only you."
Mabel was Boftly weeping.
" You'say you will not go home. Very well. I am inclined to lot you have your way and keep your
'* Thank you."
" No, Miss Mabel, you need not thank me, for I only keep your secret in order that I may penetrate the mystery which influences your action. When I have discovered the reason and removed it, then I will tell your father where you are."
" Do not try to penetrate the mystery. Nothing can be done to help nie or those I love."
Mabel was sobbing despairingly.
Nick was very much touched. He reflected for a
" Miss Mabel, I think you are unwise not to con- fide in me, but I will not urge you any more, for I seo you are fixed in your determination.
" Let us enter into an agreemqpt. On my part I will promise not to let your father know where you are until I first karo your permission. On your part promise not to try to hide from mo or Ralph again. Ralph, too, you know, is one of the victims of this mystery. Will you promise ?"
" I will."
Nick knew he oould frighten or entrap Mabel into a betrayal of the secret which had brought her so much sorrow, but he could not find it in his heart to cause her so much unhappiness.
He was sure he could penetrate the mystery, and then if he found that Mabel was right in acting as she had ho would reveal nothing.
His firm resolve now was to serure, if possible, the happiness of this unselfish young creature.
"Do not despond, Miss Mabel," he said, as he was leaving her, " I am very confident that everything will turn out happily yet."
She shook her head sadly, and only answered :
" You do not know."