Chapter 18894305

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleA REMARKABLE DISCOVERY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18894305
Full Date1887-04-09
Page Number13
Corrections0
Word Count2984
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Long Chase
article text

CHAPÏEK IV.

A. ItEMARKABLE DISCOVBBT. I

No sooner had the door closed on the banker than Nick sprang into the next room, with the eager

query:

"Well, father?"

"Beautifully done, lad-beautifully done. My word for it. You have scented a case worthy to make your debut in. There is a rare mystery in this, or I am mistaken. What's your theory ?"

" None yet, except that the solution lies in the

house."

" I believe you are right. Will you change your disguise ?"

" No, I guess I will borrow your identity for a while and let you stay in the house."

" You young rascal !" The old man laughingly shook his fist at him. " I see what you are after. You want to manage your first case without any of my help. Well, I don't blame you, and I'm not afraid for you. Your whole life has been devoted to this one object, and I dare to say that no detec- tive started out so thoroughly fit for his profession. There, lad, success to you. I do believe I'm moro nervous than you are. Now get ready and go."

Nick pressed his fathom's hand affectionately.

" If I don't succeed," he said, " it will be because I have not profited by the teaching of the best detective this country ever saw. But I shall

succeed. Do nob fear."

With the remarkable rapidity which ho seemed able to take up at will, Nick at once provided him- self with all those necessaries for disguise and protection, without which no good detective ever goes abroad, and at once left the house.

Hastening to Broadway ho soon found a hack and was quickly whirled up to Madison square.

On the way he seized the opportunity to study carefully the photograph given to him by the

banker.

He could not bub admit that he had nover looked upon a sweeter or more beautiful face.

In her picture Mabel Livingstone seemed all that her father had declared her to be-gentle, good, and pure-and if anything could be judged from a photograph, she was incapable of a wrong act.

But Nick know very well that a photograph, how- ever good a likeness, is never a safe guide as to

character.

He returned the picture to his pocket, after having indelibly fixed in his memory the sweet face with its roguish smile.

When the hack stopped before the stately man- sion in Madison square Nick felt that the battle was now to commence ia real earnest. '

Like a good soldier, he had his plan of battle prepared, but was ready to adopt any new plan that

seemed better.

When ho stepped from the hack ho glanced care- lessly up art; the house, and without seeming to do so, yet fixed in lils mind every detail of its ex-

terior.

He made it a rule with himself never to go inside o£ a place without first becoming acquainted with

its outside.

From that one quick glance ho could have drawn

the front of the banker's mansion.

He was led at once to the library» and on his way his eyes anA ears were constantly on the alert for every sight and sound.

Having shaken hands with the banker, he began ! fci a quick decisive way.

"This is the safe?" " Yes."

"Tell rae the combination."

" Begin at 0, then two complete turns to the left; then to the right to 10, hack to 0, then to the left to 9, back to 0, then to the right anywhere. Turn the handle and open."

"A very complicated combination."

" Ye3,1 had to write it down and study it care- fully at first.

" Now, may I seo Mrs. Livingston ?" '. Yes ; will you see her here ?"

" I would rather see her in her room where her safe Í3. Has her safe been opened ?"

"No."

" As quickly as possible, please I cannot stnj hero long "

The banker led the way to his wife's boudon

A glance at Mrs Livingston told Nick that she had been suffering terribly Her eyes were swollen and rod, dark bands encncled them, and the pallid cheeks T> ero stieakod with lines of agony

Nick never forgot his assumed chaiactei, buè bowed with the old fastuoned grace of his fathei, as he said, compassionately

" Pardon this intrusion, madam It seemed neeessaij, foi often a mothei knov\s matlos of w Inch a father is ignoiant "

Mrs Livingston shook her head

" Not in this case We lived all foi each othei

There were no-no secrets Oh, my pieuous dalling, why did you leave us ?"

Tho detective's quick ear caught a quick stifled gasp as the lady spoke, and Ins keenest attenkon

was aroused

He could not doubt the genuineness of the motheis grief, but he was certain tkat she did not tell the whole truth when she said theie waa no seciets

He was m01 e than over sure that he must seek the mystery in the house

" I am sorry," he said " I had hoped you could tell mo something more It is hardly woith while

now to look at the safe "

He spoke voiy slowly, and glanced stealthily at Mrs Livingston He fancied he saw en her fa«o a quick gleam of relief Then ho continued as if aiguing with himself

" And j et I suppose I ought to "

He was positiv e the w oman's white hands closed convulsively.

" T\ here is the safe ?" he asked

"Hcie," answered Mi Livingston, lifting a piece decoiated plush, and disclosing the safe

'Ah'" exclaimed Nick as he stooped down, "opens by a combination Who knows it ?"

" Only my wife Is it not so deai ?"

Thus appealed to, Mrs Livingston, who had sunk into a chair, nodded her head in assent

Theie was something pitiful m hei eyes, Nick thought, and he instiuctii ely likened hei to a doe driven to bay

"Will you open it for me, please, madam, he

asked

Without hesitating, she went to the safe, and though hei hands tiembled, Nick noticed that she

made no mistake

' Will you be good enough to see if anything has been distuibed 'p he asked

She looked foi several moments, but it seemed to Nick that she was onlj collecting hei stiength Presently she said

"I think nothing has been distuibed, but I am not very oiderly, and I could not be sure '

" Veiy cautious," thought Nick Then aloud

' Will you give me the envelope w ith the com

bmation in it ?"

She drew a small golden key fioui hei watch chain, and with it opened a »mall di awei m the safe In the di aw er was an envelope, which she

handed to Nick

He took it to the window and stood in such a way that Ins own face coull be seen only indistinctly, while he could watch Mis Livingston's without difliculty

A glance of his keen eye told him that the en v elope had been opened ' He had i>racti3ed at opôuing and closing sealed envelopes too often not

to know

It can haidly be said that he wassmpused, foi ho was piepared foi such a diseoveij

" What is this ? ' he suddenly exclaimed, as if started by an unexpected discoveiy

" A spasm, as of pam, convulsed Mrs Livingston's

fcatines

" I w as mistaken, saul Nick, in a deeply dis appointed tone, aftei he had noted the eftect of his exclamation " I thought this envelope had been tnmpeicd w ith , but it was not "

Mrs Livingston piessed hei hand to hei bosom like a poison relieved fiom gieatagony

"You see," said Nick, despondently, 'I had hoped evoi since you told mo of this env elope that I should find it opened ïhat would hav » cleaied your daughter I find it difficult to believe she would take the money "

" Oh, su," exclaimed Mrs Livingston, wungmg her hands convulsively, * she would not do it, sho w ould not She is innocent-she must be innocent

" Well,' said Nick, with a sigh, " I can leam nothing here Let us if you please, Mr Livingston have another look at your safe Pardon me foi m truding on your gnef, madam "

When they stood once nioio m the libiaiy Nick turned abruptly to the bankei

"Your wife seems to have been greatly attached

to Miss Mabel ?"

" Their devotion to each other was a positiva passion. Indeed nobody could know Mabel and not love her. It is as if"-his voice trembled-" as if an angel from Heavon had been accused. There is a mystery in it. My Mabel is as pure and innocent

as an unborn child.

" Had Miss Mabel a good memory ?" The banker started in astonishment.

"Nothing unusual," he answered. "Noither good nor bad."

Had she any special attendant in the house ?" "Her maid, Kitty."

" What sort of a girl is Kitty ?"

" A kind-hearted, affectionate creature, devoted

to Madel.'

" Bright ?" " Very."

" Will you let me see her here alone ?' " Certainly. I will send her to you."

"May I open your safe while she is here ?"

" Yes."

Kitty, a pretty, quick-witted I ish girl, carno wonderingly into the parlour. Her eyes we«e red from weeping, but it was evident she was of superior intelligence.

" Kitty," said Nick, kindly, " did Mr. Livingston tell you who I am ?"

" No, sir."

" I am a detective."

" Oh !" she started back in terror.

Nick, however, smiled reassuringly, for ho saw that tho fear she showed was merely at the idea of being confronted with a detective.

" I have been employed," ho said, " to find Miss Mabel. I thought you might help me."

" I wish I could," she answered, tearfully.

:-*-"-» i

" I'm sure you do, so I want you to remember exactly all that Miss Mabel did yesterday. HAT4

you a good memory ?"

" Yes, sir."

" I suppose you had to have, didn't you ? Misa Mabel was rather forgetful, eh ?"

"Not so very, but she hadn't the memory I have. I always had to tell her what things cost."

"Yes, yes. She couldn't remember figures, I suppese. Some folks ara that way."

" Yes, sir."

"But now, Kitty, about your memory. You seo, I want to be sure that you will be correct ia your answers, because I may find Miss Mabel from something you tell rae."

" I'm afraid not, sir j but I'll do my best."

' S'pose I test your memory first ? What do you

say ?"

Kitty by this time was astonished out of lier

tearfulness.

"Now watch me open this safe. Watch clos»

now."

Nick opened the safe very slowly, Kitty following

every movement.

" Now I will tell you how I ¿fid it, and then yo« must try. In that way I can tell how good your memory is."

Put upon her nettle, Kitty listened carefully while Nick repeated the combination, at the same time showing her how to work it.

" Now you open the safe."

Kitty went to work with a will. Again and again she tried, but each time without success. She was terribly mortified.

" That will do," said Nick, at last, " you needn't be ashamed. You've done better than ninety-nin»

out of a hundred would do."

" Truly ?" asked Kitty, suspiciously.

" Yes, indeed. You came near it half a dozen times. I'll trust your memory. Now tell me whoa Miss Mabel left home."

" About three o'clock. Indeed, it was just that." " What did she do in tho morning ?"

" She was in her room, reading, axcept f#r a while when Mr. Livingston called her down here."

" How long was she here ?" " About half an hour." "And then?"

" She came back into her roora and read until lunch time."

"You are sure?"

" Yes sir. I was doing somo sowing for her, ani

was with her all the time."

"Did she go to her room right away after

lunch ?"

. " Yea sir."

" And stayed until she went out ?"

" No, sir. About 2 o'clock she left her room and stayed about half an hour."

" Where did she go ?" » " I don't know, sir."

"And when she caine back what did she do?"

" She sent me out to get some embroidery silk for her, and when I came back sho was gone. Tho foot- man said she had only just gone, and I remember looking at the clock and noticing it was a few min- utes past three."

" And you have no suspicion where she went to ?" " N-n-no, sir," said Kitty suddenly bursting

into tear.', " but I'm afraid she met with an acci- ,»

dent-and-she was so-so good." ' <p

"Never fear," Kitty, said Nick, confidently j

" she isn't dead. Now ask Mr. Livingstone to come I

here."

When that gentleman carne, Nick asked :

"What did you do yesterday afternoon ?"

" I went to the office right after lunch, and got back about 5 o'clock j after that-"

"That was all I wanted to know. I would like to ask your wifo if Miss Mabel was with her at all yesterday."

" I can answer that j for my wife has said thnA Mabel was not with her a moment yesterday."

"Thank you. Can I find your cashier at the

bank?"

" Until four o'clock. He will be hero after dinner,

no doubt."

""Wliere does he live?".

" He has rooms at 21 East loth street." " Thank you. Good-day."

" Have you learned anything ?"

" Not much. I will tell you when I have any- thing positive. Not until then. You must trust me entirely."

As the detective passed down tho stoop ho said

to himself :

" I believe that Mrs. Livingstone knows how the

safe was robbed !"

"To the Seventeenth National Bank," said Nick to the driver, as he sprang into his hack.

"Now then," he muttered to himself as he loaned back, " what have I learned ? First, I'm satisfied that Mabel never opened the safe with the infor- mation she got from the old gentleman. If she opened it at all it was from reading what's in that envelope, and that she couldn't do without her mother's help. And this is certain-Mrs. Living- stone knew and aided in the opening of it."

" But this is certain, too ; Mrs. Livingston is a heart-broken woman. I don't believe she knows whore Mabel is, and yet she must either have helped her to get the money, or perhaps have dis- covered that tho envelope had been tampered with. No ; that won't do ; Mrs. Livingston knows where the money is, but not where the daughter is.

" And then, again, Mrs. Livingston is not only sorrowing for the loss of her daughter. There is something else on her mind, and as sure as I'm Nick Carter I'll find it out, and find the daughter, too, though that won't be so easy, for evidently I've more than an innocent girl to deal with. I thought I'd come on a high-toned mystery, bwfc

this is better than I expected."

And young Nick chuckled with grim delight as the difficulties of the case became greater.

When then carriage stopped he got out and went

into the bank.

It was the bank where he and his father kept deposits, and consequently useful for his present

purpose.

He asked to see the cashier, and was taken into the private office.

"Detective business ?" asked the cashier, with a smile. He had been of use to old Sim before.

"Yes. Some one thousand dollar bills have

been stolen, and I thought I could telephone through you to the different banks and find out if any of them had changed one cr moro. It's only a chance, but I thought I'd try it. Why, what's

tho---" ^y

The cashier had suddenly darted from the room. J In less than one minute he returned, holding a one thousand dollar bill in his hand.

" Changed that leas than half an hour ago. Do you know the numbers ?"

"No, unfortunately. Who brought it? Did you soo ?"

" No. I'll bring the paying teller."

He weat to the door and called Mr. Sharp.

" Mr. Sharp," he said, when the teller came^ " can you remember who brought this."

" Yes, sir. It was such a big bill I took a good look at her, and at him, too."

" Oh," said Nick, " two of 'em, eh ? Can you

describe them ?"

" I think so. She might haTo been eighteen or twenty, under medium height; golden hair, large blue eyes ; small, pretty mouth ., red lips ; very pretty face generally, and particularly sweet and innocent-iooking. She wore a sealskin sacque

and a brown camel's hair dress."

As the descriptiou went on Nick was nearly startled out of his composure.

"You have a remarkable memory," he said» smiling, "outwardly, but inwardly a prey to

amazement."

" A paying teller, like a good hotel clerk, never forgets a face," said Mr. Sharp, pleased at the

detective's compliment. ,

" And, you would know the face again ?"

" Without any doubt." " Loot at that."

Nifck drew out the photograph of Mabel

Livingston.

" It was she," declared the paying-teller, without

a moment's hesitation.

Nick was thunderstruck.

("To be continued.)