Chapter 18900524

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberX
Chapter TitleCRUMBS OF INFORMATION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18900524
Full Date1887-04-23
Page Number19
Corrections0
Word Count2366
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Long Chase
article text

CHAPÎÊEiX; j

I CBUWBS OF INFORMATIOM.

On leaving the Inspector, Nick went to a carpet store near by and procured several small pieces of oil-cloth of different patterns.

With these in his pocket, he walked briskly in the direction of the three tenement-houses.

On the way he passed through one of the streets which he knew would be almost deserted at that

time.

\ fChere he made a few quick changes in his dress.

Cringes of no great consequence, and consisting mainly in altering the tie of his cravat and putting a flashy pin in his shirt-front.

These with the addition of a jaunty mustache a slight tilt back of the hat, and an impudent swagger, converted Nick into what no New Yorker

could ever mistake-1-a canvasser.

Though he had been there so few times, the neigh- bourhood of the three houses was perfectly familiar

to him.

He knew there was a lager beer saloon nearly opposite.

Into this saloon he went, and sat down at one of

the tables.

It was at a time in the evening when the saloon did its poorest trade. There were no customers. A man stood behind the bar and another was walking listlessly up and down.

Nick was quick to single out the latter as the one in authority-the owner perhaps.

He calle 1 out to him in a loud, free-and-easy

tone :

" Good-evening, boss, Come take a glaBs of beer with me. I'm down on my luck to-night, and I must talk to somebody. Johnny !" to the bartender, ''two beers ; and give mea cheese sandwich and the French mustard. -» v ^

" Pisness was pad, eh ?" ^ -

The man he had addressed as "boss," and who was, in fact, the proprietor, had come up with a gracious smile and sat down.

" Bad ! bad's no name for it. Been out the whole afternoon, and didn't get a hundred dollars worth of orders. Last week-no, week before last it was made fifty dollars every day on commissions alone. Well, here's to you, Hold on, Johnny ! two more beers, and gimme another sandwich, too, I'll want

it."

" Vot line was you sellin' ?" inquired the saluon keeper to show he tcok some intrest.

"I'm on oil-cloths now." He pulled out his pieces. " LaBt time I was around, you know I had I carpets."

' The man nodded as if he remembered it perfectly.

" Got a daisy lot hear. See that piece p Worth a dollar a yard. I'm selling it for thirty cents. Look hear, old man, you're the very persimmon! You can tell was who owns that nice lot of houseä opposite. I'll come around to-morrow and try them. They must want some oil-cloth."

The man shook his head and made a mouth ex- pressive of doubt.

" Shust god 'im furnished already six months." " Just furnished, eh ? Well' you can't tell. I'll try 'em anyhow. Who owns the shebang ?"

" I don't know who vas de brobrietor. De chani tor pays de bills."

"He does, eh ? Then he's my man. What's his

nair.e ?"

" He's a woman. Her name is Valdron." " Waldron eh ? Mrs. Waldron ?"

"Yah."

" But, oh my !"

Nick leered with one eye, and leaning over the table dug the man playfully in his ribs.

" Isn't that a daisy damsel lives in that middle house. She's no slouch now, and don't you forget

it. Who is she ?"

"Mrs. Valdron's daughter."

"Pshaw. You don't tell me. That gal! Why she's a regalar masher."

" Yah. She acts mit de theayter."

" Oho ! In the ballet I s'pose-the light fantas-

tic, eh ?"

"I don't know."

" Well, she's a daisy, ain't she ? who lives in the top floor of the first houso ?" , " Nobody."

" Who lives in the top floor of the last house ?" - " A Hchoolmcister-BO ahmall."

The man hfld out his hand to indicate the height. Nick's eyes glistened.

"A schoolmaster?" ho exclaimed.

" Any mans don't got aomo edchugation go mit him und got it."

" Oh, he takes scholars, does ho ? Why, 111 havo to go see him and learn how to Bell oil-cloth."

" Pouf !" said the man, in a disdaintful manner. " What ! You think he's no good, eh ? Hasn't he many scholars?"

" Two, tree, four. I tink he nefer trink a glass

beor in his life."

" Here, Johnny, two moro beers !" cried Nick. " I s'pose he gives lessons at night, eh ?"

" I don't know."

" Does he live alone ?" " I tink so."

" Maybe I could see Mrs. Waldon now."

" Maype," he looked at the clock. " Nein, I tink she gone oud mid the gal by tho tbeayter.",.

" Oh ! Sho takes her, does she ?" "Yah."

" Oh, you old rascal, you've got your eye on the girls have you ?"

The man laughed knowingly, but said:

" I got a frent by dat houso. He tolt me."

" Oh. Well, if a too late to work any more to- night, I guess, so I'll go home. Good-night."

CHAPTER XI.

NICK FINDS A PICTUBB.

Nick did not feel that his time in the saloon was by any means wasted, for ho would hare had to take the time to eat anyhow.

Moreover, though he had not learned a great deal he had learned something, and he was one of those persons who knew how to make the most of any- thing.

What he had learned was probably correct, too« for the saloon-keeper was very likely to he pretty well posted on the affairs of the neighbourhood.

At any rato Nick was determined to get into those secretly connected apartments once more and thoroughly explore them.

And if what he had been told was correct now was lus time to try the middle house.

He felt doubtful about the apartment of the school-master being empty.

He recognised the shadow in the saloon-keeper's schoolmaster, and after what happened it seemed likely enough that the two murderers '.would both be there in hiding, for Nick had no.Jhcáitation in fixing upon the little shadow and the 'big ruffian Billy as the assassins of his father.

The fact that thoy might be there, however, only made him tho more anxious to go.

He had no intention of foolishly risking his life, but he was determined to penetrate the secret of those apartments ; for he felt certain that they were the rendezvous of the mon who were at the

bottom «f his own and Mr. Livingston's trouble., I

He made no chango in his disguise, feeling him- self as secure from recognition in that aB in the

most elaborate one he could devise. j

It was only as his father that ho was known, and { besides his present disquise was so simplo and Bet j so perfect that he liked it on that account, being I

the more easy to quickly change.

Ho tried his pistols to make sure that thoy were in good working order.

From under his veät he drew a flat case about an inch wide and eight inches long, which ho fastened in a slide in his hankerchicf pocket.

Tliat case contained a knife with a >short, broad blado, the sharpness of which was simply incredible.

With one whirl of that little knife NICK could cut in two a floating sheet of tissue paper and then penetrate a two inch oak plank.

In his pocket was a tiny but very ingeniously con- trived bull's eye lantern. It was not half the ordinary size and yet gave a better light.

It was not lighted but Nick had only to turn a button on the side and it was ready for use, lighted by a chain match.

As a precautionary measure Nick decided to go to the third house apartments, andinlm character of canvaser knock and ascertain if anybody was

there.

Having made up his mind, Nick walked boldly up

stairs.

As he mounted the last flight he listened intently for footsteps or voices.

He heard nothing until he reached the top step when his quick ear caught that same low, distant ringing which he had heard when he stepped on the wardrobe in Mrs. Waldron's apartments.

"That bell," he muttered. "No danger of sur- prises hore. Well forwarned is forearmed. I'll try some experiments with that bell sometime, and that very soon. Now I'll bet they have some way of taking a peep at a fellow. It's too dark hore for that now though. I noticed the boll stopped the moment my foot was off that step."

He, of course, did not stop to make these reflec- tions, but kept on to the door, as if he had heard nothing.

He knocked briskly, and waited with alert ear ; in the meantime, however, passing his hand gently

over the door in all directions.

" If anybody's in, they're mighty still," he mur I mured. " A heavy door and a spring-lock," he went

on, as he, felt with his hand. -" I know what that means. Each of them has a key ; and I know what that means, too. It means that I can get in, if I want to, for it won't be bolted on the inaide."

He knocked several times, aad still there was no sign of life, so he gave it up and turned away.

As he went down stairs he stepped over the top step, and tho bell failed to ring.

Turning quickly around, he stepped up again and was delighted to hear the bell.

" That's settled," he said. I know how to ap- proach without noise. Now for a little information, if possible."

He stopped on the floor below and knocked. The door was opened at once.

" Can I leave a message here for the gentleman upstairs ?"

" To be sure ; but he'll be home soon ; ho is always home at nine o'clock. The scholars come

then. Ißn't he home now ?"

" I knocked, and nobody answered."

" Oh, then, he isn't home. What shall I tell

him ?"

" Nothing, thank you, I'll come again."

Nick went down stairs, not at all sure, however, that the top floor was empty.

Now to try the middle house.

No bell rang as he stepped on the last step there. He had not expected it, for not only he had not heard it when he was thero before, but he could see that it would not be necessary, because as janitor Mrs. Waldron would be called upon at all times, and would probably take care not to have anything suspicious about.

He knocked at the floor.

Thero was no r« jionse.

" I guesaits safe." said Nick to himself. " There's no reason why tin y should humbug here. Anyho i I've no time to lose if I'm going in here to-night; so here goes."

In a short time the door yielded to Nick's per- suasive argument', and opened.

The gas was lighted, but turned low, Nick stepped in, after n moment of listening, and rimmi

the door behind him.

" Now I'm in for it," he said.

His eyes noon became accustomed to the dhu light, and he could see perfectly well. Hu had no need to examine that room. So knew it perfectly.

He had hardly fifteen minutes before nine o'clock, but he was too curious to see tho front rooms of thoapattment he was in not to take a hasty glance at thom.

Cautiously, and yet quickly, he opened the door leading to the front rooms.

The gas was everywhere lighted and turned low. He passed through the inner bedroom, noticeable only for the elegance of the furniture.

The front room waa evidently the young lady's parlor, and if Nick had not already known she was theatrical, he could have guessed it from the pictures of actors and actresseB strewn about the

room.

A small bedroom opening from the parlor was a perfect gem of a room.

There was nothing in any of these rooms, it seemed, that would tempt Nick to waste valuable time, and yet he lingered, scrutinizing everything closely.

What could be his objoct in opening the drawers of the young woman's bureau ?

" Ah !" he suddenly exclaimed, as he opened the bottom one, and took up a photograph in one hand and a wig in the other.

" Aha ! Hera is Mabel at last, eh ? I thought it must be something of this sort. But you couldn't have made np for Mabel so* well if you hadn't seen the young lady herself and beenjprotty well acquainted with her looks. 4T-his picture alone would not have done. But you're a good one, my beauty, to do it BO well, anyhow. And you must have a nerve. And here is the dress, too, and

here the hat."

Nick picked up the articles which made it so clear to him that Mabel had been personated by the pretty actresses.

" That's all I want to know from you,"said Nick, as he carefully replaced the va rious articles.

, His movements now were very rapid. He had used up at leaBt half his time, and even if thero rwas yet nobody in the next house there soon would

be.

He returned quíbkly to the back room and went to the mantle-piece^

He know where ïo touoh the knob which would «wing the mantle, fdPhè'haa watched the man in

the afternoon.

He fully realized the danger he was about to run for ho knew that the moment ho touched the knob not only would the mantle move, but a bell would ring and warn anybody who might be there. He had heard the bell when the man,touched the

knob.

And yet having decided upon his course, he did not hesitate one moment but firmly pressed the knob, and stepped quickly forward into the dark-

ness beyond through the opening. '