|Chapter Title||A NARROW ESCAPE.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||A Long Chase|
CHAPTER XIII. '-* -'.
A NABEOW ESCAPE. 1
As yet Nick had not moved.
He knew the meaning of the cries and oatha uttered by the man, and though not yet discovered, was in momentary expectation of being so.
" What's up ?" demanded Billy.
" A letter."
And he felt wildy in his pockets, making the ulster swing so that, had it not been dark there,
Nick mubt have been seen.
The brave detective, with wonderful nerve, never stirred, determined not to risk this oppor- tunity of penetrating the dark secrets of this ill
"What letter was it ?" asked Mansfield. " One of Mrs. Livingston's."
He gave up the search in the ulster, and with th» ^ utmost anxiety felt through his own pockets.
" Maybe you didn't bring it."
"I know I did. I remember, because wheal came in I thought I'd forgotten it and I felt in her« for it"-going to the ulster again-"and it waa
" You mnst bo mistaken."
" I tell you I had it when I came in here."
" Well, is it there now. Was it important ?" " To us, yes. Light the gas, Dave."
Nick could no longer hesitate. He made ready
to dash out.
"Oh, come!" growled Billy j "you can tell us about the letter, if it's necessary. Let's know what's np now, and let me go. You can look for that after I'm gone."
"Ha !" thought Nick ; " that was a lucky speech for you, for if I'd gone out of here, I'm afraid you'd
have been the sufferer."
" But I don't want to lose that letter," said Mr, Gilbert, reluctantly following the party into the
'* I'll Bee it isn't lost," said Nick to himself.
He had noticed the man's Btart on entering tho room, and at first thought he was discovered, but seeing him feel in his pocket, had instintivelv known that something important was in it.
Consequently he had not failed to search tia pockets of the coat and take out the letter he f ouài
Great as was the risk ho had run, he was only ra» joiced that he had taken the letter.
"What was the letter?" asked Mansfield.
" From Gertrude Dalton to Jane Manning."
" Phew !" exclaimed Mansfield ; " 'twon't do to lose that. If there's anything for Billy to hear, let's have it so ho can go, and then we'll look for
" Well, I've just a suspicion where Mabel is. If it's where I think, I'll know by noon to-morrow. But to have everything sure and ready, you and BUly had better be waiting for me at the old place
at eleven o'clock with a coach."
" You make up for Moreland, and stay inside the coach BO you can't be seen, and Billy must drive. I'll either see you myself or send Dave to tell you, I may want to see Ethel, too ; but I'll see her by and by. You understand what I'm after, I s'pose."
" I do," said Mansfield.
" I don't," said Billy, " but that don't matter. Since I've fingered the twenty thousand I'm willing to go it blind."
" That's all, then, Billy, unless you want to hear how I've arranged a surprise party for young More- land to get him out of the way."
" Not unless its something in the sand-bag line." " Oh, no, no violence this time. This is to he done through Mrs. Livingston."
"Thon I'm off. So long. Look out for your
" I'll take care of that," answered Gilbert. " I'll swear he was with me at the time, if the question is ever raised. I don't think it will be, though, and you don't either. You want some good excuse for spending a little of that twenty thousand."
Billy gave vent to a loud guffaw and left. " Now, let's find that letter."
But at that moment the gas suddenly went out, and they were left in utter darkness.
Anticipating that they would make a search for
the lotter as soon as Billy was gone, Nick had ^ resorted to a simple but effective trick to gain time ^ to get out of the little room while the search was
Ho had leaned over to the gas-jet which stuck ont of the wall near him, had opened the cock, and had blown into the gas-pipe with all his force.
A few seconds later the gas went out in the other rooms, and ?while the three men were cursing the poor gas. Nick stole softly into the back room, intending to wait there until the search was over.
He slipped into a closet to be out of the way when any one should come to light the gas, and then listened with grim pleasure to the moving about in the little bedroom, when the gas having been relighted elsewhere and lighted there, the search for the missing letter was begun.
A thorough 8 eure h was made in all the room«, Mr. Gilbert declaring with violent oaths that he had brought the letter with him, while the other two insisted that it was impossiblo, unless some- body had Btolen it out of his pocket after he had
"If I wasn't so sure of having it," said Mr. Gilbert, while they searched the back room, "I I wouldn't say a word, but I know I had it."
"Well," said Mansfield, impatiently, "do yeu
think one of us took it ?"
" Of course I don't; ; but if I wasn't sure Sim Carter was dead I'd be willing to belive he'd taken
" Oh, pshaw !" said Mansfield, contemptuously "But look here, Gilbert, we didn't agree where Billy and I were to meet to-morrow."
" That's so. Well, then arrange now, and Dave can tell Billy in the morning."
"AU very fine," said Dave ; "but where am I to find Biily in the morning ? He's going in for a good time t» night ; I could see that ; and the chances are ho won't sleep either here or his other
"Confound the brute!" oxclairaed Gilbert, angrily. " Why couldn't ho stay at home and keep
.feober when wo have so much on hand ?
Don't fret your gizzard about Billy," said Dave . * "he'll be ready with fhe coach. Let Mansfield wait for him iri*jtiierford Place, and my word for it Billy will be thordon time."
"Well I suppose thlai/awhat we must do. I hat« to give Up the lettor,*W¡ it is getting late. Com«
into the other room and write a couple of letters for me, Mansfield."
The men returned to the room, and Nick, who wished to know what the letters were about, opened the closet door and listened.
" First," he heard Gilbert say, " wo want one from Moreland to Mabie. Begin it my 'precious.* "
Nick drew his head back quickly and lost what
The secret door from Mrs. Waldron's door was opening.
It was Mrs. Waldron who entered, and she was basely- in the room before Dave, who Aad been
waep&L,by the bell, was also there. ? .
A long wispered conversation followed^ none of
which Nick could catch.
At ^te same time he was prevented hearing what was going on in the front room.
Finally Mrs. Waldron turned to go, saying, in a louder tone: '.;,
" B« sure not to lee Ethel know anything about it, or she'll have nothing more to do with it. I don't like it myself, but it was his own fault. He'd no business to como prying around here."
She returned^) Ijgr bwn house and went back to
the front room.
Mansfield's forgeries were evidently ready, for as Dave entered the rooui Gilbert exclaimed :
There, Dave : read those letters."
Then followed several minutes of silence, finally broken by Dave, who cried in an admiring tone.
" Beautiful 1 beautiful ! I see the whole schema now. But what'll you do with Moreland then.
"Cli I'll play thu l-onnoluit."
And Nick failed to eatuh viy more. .
PrtnentlyGUburli.nd .\r m-S. ldputontheireoatu, ssA talking only of couimoupUcü mattera left the
- Dave was now the only occupant of the rooms,
and Nick at once» began to concern himself about
Jetting out. .
He waited until the little man went back into the front room, when ho darted from the eloset, and With a cautious glance towards the entry to see that it was not observed, crossed over and opened
It was a marvel that he ivas not detected, but B«h was the case, and ho presently stood in tho
"Now I'm out of then»," said Nick to himself. ""I don't mind acknowledging that I'm glad to be