|Chapter Title||ARRANGING A COUNTERPLOT.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||A Long Chase|
CHAPTER XIV. j
ARRANGING A COUHTEBrLOT. I
. Nick now made his way as quickly as possible to ? Ralph Morcland's house.
The young man had junt returned from the . Livingston mansion.
* What do you want sir ?"
Vick hod knocked and entered without an invita- tion, and in his present guise he was unknown to Ralph.
" I want to shako hands first."
He grasped the young man's hand before ha could be prevented, and gave the concerted grip.
It was all Ralph in his amazement could say.
"Yes, it's I," said Nick. "Now do as I say, quickly, and I will give you some good and some bad news. Have you an old pea-jacket ?"
" Not so very old. Here it is."
And to Ralph's utter astonishment Nick threw off the light overcoat and Back coat he had on, and stood ?p before the looking-glass.
A few deft touches with a black pencil to the eyebrows converted them into dark heavy ones.
The little moustache was changed for a dark, heavy, drooping one, which almost concealed the
A few light lines were drawn at the corners of -.?the eyes, and a scarcely perceptible broad line
ander each eye.
The flashy pin was left in the shirt; but the bosom was rumpled and then soiled with the chewed end of a cigar.
All this was done so swiftly that Nick had com- pleted the change and thrown on the pea-jacket before Ralph fully realised what was going on under his eyes.
Then he saw before him, instead of the impu-
dent canvasser, a perfect specimen of the dissipated, rough.
"Show me you hats, please,"
Ralph without a word opened a closet and brought out half a dozen hats of various sorts.
Nick picked out the oldest of the low crowned hats, and, first rubbing it on the carpet to soil it, put it on and pulled it low down on his forhead.
" There," he said, with a smile at Ralph's silent
astonishment. "You wouldn't liko to meet me »lone in a dark alley, would you ?"
"Wonderful!" exclaimed Raph. "I wouldn't
have believed it."
"Before wo go any farther," said Nick in a quick, energetic way. " Tell me if you trust mo completely."
" YeB, I do," answered Ralph, after a moment of hesitation. I don't know why I should, but I do.''
"That's right. Here's your good news. To- morrow morning I hope to let you see Mabel."
"Oh! Sir, if you-"
" Stop a moment. You may see her and talk with her, but she must not go home, nor must her parents nor anybody but you know that she is
" I'll explain this much to you. Thero is a mystery in the Livingston family which for your sake and for Mabel's I must discover beforo Habel is permitted to go back. .
"Have you any diBcreet relatives with who») Mabel could stay in seclusion for a while ?" ? }
" I have an aunt who lives in Brooklyn." "Would she take care of Mabel ?"
" Willingly. I could take Mabel to her without any warning."
" Do the Livingstons know this aunt ?"
"They may have heard me speak of her; but they never have met her, nor do they know where sh.c lives."
" So far, good. Does your aunt have such faith in your uprightness that she will believe in yow in 8pite of any strange things that may happen ?"
" I think so ; but I'd better make some kind of an explanation, for sho ÍR curious."
"Very well. Then tell her this much and no more. By the way, you must see her to-night."
"But it will be midnight before I can get there." " Never mind. You must take a valise, and pack in it your most valuable possessions. Take them to her to-night and tell her this-that Mabel can- not go home because of a mystery which you don't yet know. Then say that to-morrow you will bo driven in disgrace from your employment, but that you are innocent of wrong, and will prove it as soon as the mystery about Mabel is cleared up,"
"But why should I tell an untruth ?"
" It is not an untruth. You will be accused of something-T don't know what. Likely enough of having taken part with Mabel in the theft of the money. You know those letters were worded ex- actly so as to prove your complicity at least after and by implication, before the theft."
Ralph turned pale.
"How have I made such enemies ?" " You are in the way. That is all."
" But I can destroy the letters and the bill."
" Oh, but I don't want you to. It is only a guess on my part that you will be attacked in that quarter. But why else would they have written Such letters to you ?
?. What I want you to do is to carry those letters Jn your pocket and take whatever happens inconse- quence, even if it comes to going to prison. But it
won't be that, I am certain.
"All that is desired is to get you out of the way, and disgrace is relied upon to accomplish it.
"You may rely on my word to make things Straight in the end. What I ask of you now is for Mabel's good.
"I want to give all the villains in this vile plot ample opportunity to expose all their secrets to rae."
There was such a teirible expression on the de- tective's face that Ralph shuddered.
For a moment there was silence. Then Ralph spoke.
" You have laid down a hard task for me j but I I will trust you, and do as you say."
" You will not regret it. Whatever happens, act as nearly as possible as if you had known nothing ?of what was coming. If you can do so be on the corner of Tenth street and Second avenue at eleven
o'clock, and wait there until half-past twelve.
Í"If I do not come then, go at once to your aunt's
and wait for mc there. I shall probably haro
Mabel with me."
" If for any reason you cannot meet me, do not worry. I will take Mabel to your aunt's and then hunt yon np if you do not appear over there."
,'M may not find Mabel, but I feel very confident. What is your annf » name and address ?"
"Mrs, Roper, CIS Macon street."
"Tell her to truBt whoever comes to her and says, 'Practice the golden rule.'"
" I will try to do everything as yon say ; but I am in a terrible whirl with all the strange things
that have occurred."
" Yon must do everything as I say and without fail for Mabel's life and happiness may depend upon
" I believe I shall not fail you ; but yon must understand that it is hard to do as well when one is all in the dark."
"I know that, but it would be useless to tell you ' any more, and moreover I can spare no more
(To be continued.)