Chapter 18901163

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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter TitleTHE TENEMENT-HOUSE TOP FLOOR.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18901163
Full Date1887-04-16
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count2414
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Long Chase
article text

CHAPTER VII.

THE TENEMENT-HOUSE TOP FLOOR.

Nick had a great deal to do that needed to bo done at once, but besides the fact that he was an exceedingly vigorous young man and had a good appetite, it was necessary, for more important reasons, that he should go home at once, and before ioing anything further.

" Well, lad, what luck ?" was old Sims greeting.

" Gi oat luck. I don't know as much as I did when I left hero this morning. But, dad, if you love me, give me enough to «at for three men. You do the cooking while I change my sex. As soon as I am a woman, I will be able to talk.

Whereupon 'old Sim put on a white apren and began to bustle about like an experienced cook, as he really was, while Nick in his magical way began to turn himself into a stout, jolly-lookfcg, Gemían

woman.

When he was done he sat down and hailed his father with:

" You don't get some sauer-kraut, ain'd it ?"

The old man looked at him and shook his head with fond pride.

" It's no use lad, you're my pupil, but you can do that trick of disguising better than ever I could.

Tell mo now what's happened to-day while I have j been a prisoner here. You've got to wait fifteen

minutes before dinner '11 he ready, so you may as i well talk." I <

Nick very wilhnglj rehearsed what had occurred, and ended with the brief summary

" So you see dad, it's a pretty mixed up mess, with a bad lot all round to mix up "

" Yes, yes But it seems, Nick, you've made pretty quick work of it "

There was a peculiar tone m old Sim's voice which Nick did not miss A smile broke over his face

" Aha, dad, j ou noticed that too, did yon ? Well it is a little gauzy, isn't it ? Coming on so many clews with such beautiful ease The worst of it is the real clews and the false ones are so mixed up together I can't tell which is winch yet "

" Good for you, lad I was afraid for a minute you'd be n taken in, but I might have known

better "

i " Well, there's this about it, Mabel Ln ingston's

taken a heap of tiouble to let me know she stole the money "

" So she has "

"And there's another thing, too I have got hold of some things not intended for me In the first place it was intended I should seo Mabel and miss hei again Thoy didn't look for such a chase Then I'm dead certain it was never intended I should knock out Billy and take away that note "

The old man chuckled

" Again, I don't believe they counted on having me get the note from Ralph Moreland And whnt's of most consequence, after all, they didn't look to have me find out that the envelope with the com- bination in it had boon opened "

" Bight, lad But what is the game d'ye think ?" " Give it up, dad It's a deep one, I'm sute of that And the only one I'm sine of sq, far is Mi

Livingston He's straight And d'ye know,v dad, I can't help thinking Moreland will show up all light8 However, let's cat, and then I'll go work up that tenement-house affair "

After dinner was over Nick took a big market

basket on his arm.

" Now, dad, I want a little, ju6t a very little, of your help "

"What is it, Nick?"

" I want you to take a walk over to Tomkins Square and back for your health." ' The old man started in surprise.

" Because," Nick laughed, " the man who has followed mc over since I left the tenement-house ¿is waiting down stairs to escort me, father, and I want him taken a little out of the way."

The old detective laughed with boyish glee.

" I need some exercise, Nick, and if I don't lead that sharp gentleman a pretty dance don't trust me. He'll think when he's through that old Sim

must bo in his second childhood."

Nick watched through the front window and saw his father go down the street, followed on the other side by a spare active little man,

" Just the sort for a shadow," murmured Nick ; " but he's too anxious and too careful. Well, I'm free, so now te study the tenement-house."

¿And Nick set off as secure in his disguise as if he had been the very person he pretended to be.

On the door of the first house was a tin sign :

" Janitor in the next house."

Nick, however, rang, the bell of the first floor vio- lently. The door was thrown open with great smddenness, and a stalwart and angry Irish woman stood in the door-way.

" Did yez ring ?" she demanded, sarcastically.

.' Yah. You didn't hear dot ?" was Nick's inno- cent answer.

" Hear it ? Av oi'd been did it wud a waked me. What d'ye want ?"

-, VI vould like to ken-o haf you some rooms to

latí"

" Am oi the janitor ? Can't yez rade i" She pointed scornfully to the sign. " Yah, can chirman read." " Next dure ; top nure."

In her disgust Mrs. Manigan was about to siam the door in Nick's face, when he, ivith a most ingratiating smile, said :

" Oxcuse me. I haf bin for rooms lookin' in dot house where was nize beoples. I tink dot house vas suit me."

Such a graceful compliment Mrs. Manigan could

not resist.

"Sure,they're noise enough,"she said; "butthe rooms is all taken. Ye'd better'be after seem' the janitor. She bees on the top nure av the nixt house,"

" So ? Oxcuse me ; I tought you vas belong dis

house. Ain't it ?"

" This house ! Belong to me, is it ? No, sure, oi don't own this house."

Mrs. Manigan was willing that the pleasant Ger- man lady should imagine that she did own some other house, and the pleasant German lady saw thatrshe had got on the right side of Mrs. Manigan. Consequently she leaned forward confidently and

said:

" Pat ! I told you. You vas a lady ; I could see dot. I vould like to lif here. Somepody vas tell me dot top floor nopody got."

" The top flure ? This house ? Sure they won't let that to anybody, an' oi don't know why."

" Och, so ! nopody doo't got it ?"

'.' No ¡ but there's rooms in the nixt house nixt to the top fluie."

" So ? Tank you. I go look mit tam." \

" It was worth the trouble, Nick thought, to have found out that the rooms in which he had lost Mabel would not be rented to anybody.

He went to the top floor of the middle house, and knocked at the door.

A tall, fine looking woman, of middle age, and with a rather hard face, opened it.

" You vos got some rooms, ain't it ?" said our

German woman.

"Yee; nest floor below; back. Want to see them ?"

" Of you blease."

The woman went to get the keys, leaving Nick standing in the hall outside. She had held the door more than half shut while talking to Nick, and closed if still more when she went for the keys.

This did not suit Nick at all, and he made np his mind to get into that room somehow.

When the woman came back with the keys she found the German woman leaning heavily against the door-post and gasping painfully.

" Himmel, Himmel !" murmured the German woman, pietously, at the same time sinking grad- ually toward the flooi.

Half angrily the woman sprang forrard and caught Nick before he could fall.

" What's the matter ?" she demanded, sharply.

" Ach Himmel !" moaned Nick, between gurgles and gasps. "Datshtairs-mine heart. Ayh,i ach.

Ein dochter-kcvick-kevick !" -v ' ":

Very much alarmed, the woman felt obliged to drag the seemingly dying woman into the room and deposit her on the sofa.

And no sooner was the wily detective lying there than he half rose, convulsively gasping :

" Dochter, dochter, Moot, bloo-ah !"

And then, with a wild clutch at the bosom of his i gown, fell back, seemingly insensible.

" Why couldn't she die in the street ?" exclaimed ; the woman, savagely. " I s'pose I must go for a

doctor, now." i

And snatching up a shawl and bonnet, she hurried

from the room and down stairs.

Cautiously Nick opened his eyes and glanced

around.

The room was furnished with unusual richness for a tenement-house.

Nick's keen eye rapidly roved about for suspicious or tell-tale objects ; but saw none.

With particular care, however, ho studied the side of the room nearest the room in the next house, in which he had lost Mabel.

A heavy-looking wardrobe stood against the

middle of the wall.

"Aha!" muttered Nick; I must investigate

that."

Like a cat he glided across the room, and without a moment's hesitation, though on the alert for the least sound, he turned the keys, and opened the

doors.

The wardrobe was empty,

'' Was I right then ?" murmured Nick.

Lightly and rapidly he passed his hand over the back part of the wardrobe.

"Ahaf"

His hand had struck a small raised knob.

Putting his head on one side to listen more in- tently, Nick remained motfonless for a second.

Then he cautiously, but firmly pushed the .knob. Like a flash, but noiselessly as thought, the back of the wardrobe shot aside and showed Nick the familiar room to which he had chased Mabel in the

morning. |

The whole fire-place in that room had swung

aside.

Once more listening, but hearing nothing, Nick stepped cautiously into the wardrobe, intending to peer into the empty room beyond.

The moment he did so his quick ear caught the sound of a low, distant, but prolonged ringing, as

of an electric bell.

At the same instant the opening closed as silently and quickly as it had opened. ' f

Instinctively Nick knew that he had sounded an

alarm.

Should he run or should he wait ? He had no time to choose.

He had scarcely faced about when the fire-place of the room he was in swung aside and the ruffian he had knocked down in the morning leaped in.

Simultaneously a door leading to the front part of the house was opened and a ravishingly beauti- ful young woman darted forward.

It would have been impossible to say which was most surprised.

The only difference was that the ruffian and the girl showed Their surprise, while Nick,who=e quick wit had come at once to his rescue, only held up Ina finger as a warning to listen.

Both obeyed the signal, though they looked at each other in wondering inquiry, as if demanding who the strange woman was.

It was now that Nick's perfect training showed its value. Like a flash he had formed a plan to/turn the accident into his own profit.

He imitated the voice of the woman who had let him in.

" The detective, Sim Carter, pursued me. He's

in there now."

"Is that you, mother?" exclaimed the young girl, in a tone of blank amazement. " I didn't know you went out. Where on earth did you get that make-up, and who made you up anyhow ?"

" Oh. it's you," was all the man said, in a sort of half-suspicious growl.

Make-up !

Theatrical people and detectives used that ex- pression for disguise. How came the young woman to use it so familiarly ? There was something for

Nick to remember.

Just now he had a difficult part to play.

He had noticed the man's tone, and saw that he wasn't half-satisfied.

Moreover, ho expected every minute to hear the woman's footsteps on the stairs. He pretended great agitation.

" I'll explain later," he said, hurriedly. " Any

of them in there now ?"

He spoke to the man, and nodded towards the room he had just come from.

" No."

He was still unsatisfied, but apparently ashamed to own it, f<jr he added hesitatingly s

" Mansfield just left."

The answer seemed to give very little information, and yet Nick had learned a great deal from it.

Ho knew now that the top floor of the third house was the rendezvous of a gang of plotters, one

of whom was called Mansfield.

Without a moment's hesitation, however, he turned to the young woman, and asked, in atone of anxiety :

" And the girl ?"

"The girl" exclaimed she, in astonishment. "The girl !" slowly echoed the man.

Nick saw he had made a mistake, and quickly ex-

claimed :

" Oh ! You didn't see her. She brought the message from--" Nick tossed his head in a knowing way, as if to say, "You know whom I

mean."

" Mrs. L. ?" queried the young woman.

Nick nodded his head in assent.

Mrs. L. could only mean Mrs. Livingston ! And now Nick felt that he really was on the wayt to his object.

She, then, was in communication with these people.

" Where did Mansfield go?" demanded Nick, of the man in the same hurried, imperative way.

But before the slow fellow could answer Nick heard a light footstep on the stan«, and knew it must be the woman returning.

Detection was certain, sooner or later, Nick knew that, but he wished to get away without making a

fuss.

" Here comes somebody," he cried " quick ! back again!"

He pushed the man toward the mantle, and the girl toward the door she had entered by.

Nick could not but admire the rapidity and noiselessness with which the two people were gone.

The footsteps were now near the top.

Nick sprang to the wardrobe, pressed the nob, and sprang through the opening as if ' he had been

accustomed to it all his life.

The mantel swung to behind him, and he rapidly

fled down'the stairs.