|Chapter Title||A THRILLING EXPERIENCE.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||A Long Chase|
I A THIULLINa SXPBBIENCE.
To say that when Nick stepped into the silent blackness of the room ho felt no tremor, would be to
tell an untruth. j
Ho did feel a tremor of dread for the first i triomont, when he knew the opening he had come i thrdufch had silently closed and left him, perhaps in the midst of waiting assassins.
Never for a moment,- however, did he lose his
presence of mind, but like a flash, the moment he was ' in the room he stepped lightly to one side and dropped into a crouching position.
This he did in order to deceive anybody who
might be waiting ready to 6tnke him. I
Forsoveral seconds he remained motionless listen-1 ing to catch oven the breathing of any person. I Everything was as silent as death.
Ntïick hoped that as his eyes became accustomed to the darkness he would be able to obtain a vague idea of his surroundings ; but he was disappointed for the gloom was impenetrable.
He pulled forth his lantern and pulled back the
The room presented a marked contrast to the one he had just left.
It was poorly and «ven meanly f urnishsd, and was, in fact, exactly such a room as a poor, lonely broken down man would have.
Nick cautiously opened the door leading to the front rooms and passed through the short entry into an inner bedroom and exactly similar in size to the one in Mrs. Waldron's apartments.
It was vastly different in appearance, however, being furnished with a common bedstoad and one
The front room, on the contrary, was fairly well furnished, though dirty and ill-kept.
The way in which it was furnished made it evi- dent at once to Nick that this was the room in which the plotters met.
A table stood in the middle of the room, covered with writing materials, and a sofa and several easy chairs were carelessly strewn about, as If left where
The table immediately claimed Nick's attention, though ho took a hasty glance into the adjoining room, and saw it was used as a bedroom, indicating that two persons lived in the apartments, at times, if not habitually.
Nick had not taken two glances at the table before he became intensely interested.
A photograph of Ralph Moreland lay there.
Written across the bottom of it were these signifi-
cant words :
" Notice sear particularly." K «?
" It is as I suspected, then," said Nick: *.' The Ralph Moreland and Mabel Livingston who^iangcd the thousand dollar bill for my benefit were made up here. Very well done, but you were too smart, my
The next thing to occupy Nick was some peculiar -writing »n the table.
\"Mv dear Kalya-darling Ralph," he read.
' "It looks as if Mabel wrote her letters here," he muttered. " Woll, I must say they are the ablest villains I ever heard of. The rascal who did this is a most expert forger, for he must have written those letters supposed to have come from Mabel with only what practice I see here. Well, at any rate," bo continued, " I've cleared off that mystery which wasn't much of a mystery, however, after
At that moment he wa3 startled by the warning bell. It rang twice in quick succession and one« more after a pause of two or three seconds.
Nick had decided upon what to do when anybody came, and therefore lost no time¿n slipping quietly into the inner bedroom. ,_ , '^ .
It afforded no really good hiding-jAacej but Nick trusted somewhat to the fact that no search would
hu lively to be made, since there wa« uo reason to suspect his presonce.
In thi» darkest corner of the room some clothing
hung against the wall.
Behind that Nick sheltered himself, making, however, a alight opening through which which he could sec anybody passing through the room into the parlour.
Tt wai n daring and perilous thing to venture alone among men ready to do any desperate deed, but by th¡3 time Nick was in a frame of mind that would havo made him stop at nothing.
Besides, to tell the sohor truth, ho had BO much confidence in his strength and address that no half dozen ordinary men would have mado him doubtful.
He heard the door open and shut.
Tho new comer lighted the gas at once, and then passed quickly through the inner room and lighted the front room ¿as. c
The light being at the man's back, as he went by Nick, his face was not distinguishable; but Nick
know him at once as the little shadow.
Nick ached to spring out and throttle the villain, but restrained himself as he thought of the revela- tions that might be made there if ho remained quiet.
The little man was still busied in the front room when the same warning sounded on the hell.
A few moments later the big ruffian with whom Nick had had an encounter in the morning, walked heavily through the room.
" Hello, old man," he growled. .' Your'o havin* a grand illumination ain't ye ?"
" Oh, ita you, is it, Billy ?" piped the little man in a thin voice. " Yes, I'm lighting up, for I hate
"He, ho," shouted Billy, derisively, "thats always the way after your first. You'll get used to it after a while. Why, I wouldn't mind sleeping
with the old cadaver."
" All right. Billy, said the little man, " I'm not ashamed of my weakness. It was necessary, and you can't say but I did my best at the time."
" Right you aro, Dave. I wish those fellers would hurry up. I want to get back to my alibi."
" They'll be here soon. But you don't think any more alibi will be necessary, do you ?"
" Don't know. Best to be on the safe Bide. I'm going back to Billy McGuire's as soon as I can. I don't believe we'll be suspected, but I'm not goin' to take any chances now that I'm gettin' rich and respectable. Heh, Dave, old man ?"
Tho little man chuckled.
" We'll join the church," he said.
" Ho, ho," shouted Billy. Is that the game ? I say Dave, think of me teachin' Sunday-sphool."
This thought struck both men as such a rich joke that they both laughed uproriously.
They were still laughing when the bell gave its warning.
This time it was a tall, fine looking, grey-haired man, whom Nick had never seen before.
He was passing througd the room aB the others had done, when he looked straight at the spot where Nick stood, and suddenly started.
Then he put his hand quickly in his pocket and
walked toward Nick.
In an instant Nick had his terrible short knife in
his hand, ready for action.
But either the manhad seen nothing auspicious, or he had changed his mind about it, for he stopped before he got to Nick, and taking off his ulster, hung it up near where the detective stood.
" Good-evening, Mr. Gilbert," said the little man politely, and yet with a certain familiarity.
" Hello !" was Billy's only greeting. Again the bell rang.
" There's Mansfield," said Billy.
At this moment Nick quietly slipped from whore ho stood and got under the ulster. He w,ished to be
nearer the door of the front room. -*
He felt that Mansfield must be-the last of the party, since Billy so confidently said it waa ho com- ing; and he was afraid he might not find another auch good time for changing his position.
The long ulster hid him better, but prevented him gotting as good a look at the new-comer as he had had at Mr. Gilbert j still he believed he would know him again.
" Hurry up now," growled Billy " Dave an' me's got our alibis to work up, so don't keep us."
" Oh ! You've done it then, oh ?" said Gilbert.
" And it all went off as I said." " Yes."
" What are you talking about ?" said Mansfield' Mr. Gilbert laughed lightly.
"After you left yesterday the detective, Sim Carter, got into Mrs. Waldron's rooms and found I out the secret of the mantle-piece."
"The deuce you say."
" He heard your name mentioned, too." "Who was fool enough to mention it?"
"Whoever was fool enough," growled Billy, "knowhow to keep it from goin' further."
" What d'ye mean ? What's been done ?"
" Why," said Mr. Gilbert, " between us we have temo ved the petective to another sphere of useful-
" Oh, give us a rest," said Billy, gruffly. " Dave
and I cracked his skull."
" Precisely ; but yon needn't fret, Mansfield,
nobody'll find it out. Now listen. I've a big; scheme for the morning. There are two things to be done before we can go much further. Balph Moreland is in the way, and must bo got rid of. That's one thing. Tho other is Mrs. Livingston but wait a minute till I get something out of my coat-pocket."
Nick heard bim get up and go toward the door He knew he waa coming to the ulster.
It was too late to chango his position. Detecton
He closed his teeth and grasped his knife more firmly.
It was sooner than he intended to revenge his father, but he was ready.
In a moment Mr. Gilbert was in front of him, aB yet unconscious of his presence.
The next instant there was a few broken cries, that made the three men in the other room look at each other.
Then followed a wild, angry oath, which brought the three men in a body into the little room.