Chapter 18901182

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter TitleA BLOOD-CURDLING CRY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18901182
Full Date1887-04-16
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count2521
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Long Chase
article text

CHAPTER VIII.

A BLOOD-CUKDLIKO CRT.

Nick had not gone a block before he was aware that he was followed.

Wishing to get home as soon as possible, and yet

1 anxious to throw off his shadow, Nick wab obliged

to take a circuitous route.

He would not have troubled himself so much had he not discovered that he was followed by the same

little man who had followed his father.'

Not knowing what MB father had done, he was desirous of avoiding anything likely to reveal the fact that he and his father were not the same person.

Although it took time, it was not difficult for one

so Bkilled as Nick to elude the little shadow. |

Once satisfied that ho was no longer followed,

Nick made the best of his time home.

His annoyance may be imagined, when, as he ap« proached the house, he found ho was watched,

Evidently his shadow, on losing him, hastened at once to Tenth street, and there waited.

" Well, the mischief is done now," said Nick, to himself. " Though I don't suppose any real harm will come from it. What I don't like is the persis- tency of the fellow. I'll have to uso father again to-night, and I don't like it."

He opened the door and ran up stairs, wkere he was greeted by jolly old Sim, with :

" lYicgats, Mrs. Limburger, I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did. I slipped that poor little apology for a shadow, and then, bless my soul! if fc didn't shadow him for a full half hour, and I thought I'd hurt myself laughing to seo him huai for me. I saw him start off down town, and then I carne home. What's your luck ?" i Nick told him what had happened.

" Phew !" exclaimed old Sim. " And that weazen. faced little shrimp is in for another dose, is he ? Well, I'll t»eat him to at least an hour of it to-

night."

" I'm afraid you'll have to, dad, for I need to borrow your identity once more."

" Once more ! Fifty times if you want to, lad."

" No, dad, you must drop out of this from now on, for they know you. There is evidently a very carefully planned piece of villainy for me to get at, and I must go at it differently.

" There aro sharp mon and women mixed up in this affair, and that claborato system of secret I doors and and warning bells shows that everything

has been studied out for a long time before this

move was made.

" Depend upon it, dad, I am going to unearth a tremendous plot. I must confess I don't even sus- pect the end yet, but I begin to feel that I am gathering in important threads."

"You're right, lad," said old Sim, emphatically j "when the wife and daughter of a millionaire banker go into partnership with .a tenement-house janitor there must be a fearful plot mno^r¡way« That,hundred thousand won't be the last, and I'll

be sworn it wasn't the first."

Without shopping to eat anything, for though it was fast becoming dark it was nob more than five o'clock, Nick changed himself back again from a German woman into a counterpart of his father.

"Now, dad," he said, "if you'll lead off my little man I'l be obliged to you-"

"I'll give him an appetite for his supper, see if I

don't.J'

And old Sim as Hof oro went out and was followed by the little man.

Nick could not seo the man distinctly, but he knew well enough that his father would not go far unless he was followed, so ho waited five minutes

and then left the house.

He went directly to the house on Fifteenth-street where Ealph Moreland lived.

Nick made up his mind bo do a bold thing.

When he reached the house he found it a large, rather shabby eld building, which was devoted to bachelors' quarters.

The front door was fastened back and apparently

never was shut.

A directory on one side of the vestibule told the detective that Ralph Moreland occupied the second

floor.

He wenb up stairs and knocked at the back door» Nobody answered.

He knocked at the front door, and still nobody

answered.

"Isn't home yqt," said Nick. "Horn! shall I cool my heels in this dark hall while I wait for hint or not. The not« have it. I'll go in, and if ho doesn't like like it, why-well he won'b like it, that's all. I'm going in."

With which words Nick very calmly drew a picfrj lock from his pocket and very soon he had the door

open.

" Now, I'll make it cheerful and comfortable foe

him.

And Nick lighted the gas, and with the sama match touched the paper in the grate, which waa prepared for a new fire.

" Nothing like a little impudence, and a good knowledge of the art of burglary," soliloquised! Nick, as hejcaref ully arranged overythiugin the wel furnished apartment, which was apparently 'the young man's sitting-room or parlor. '?.' '

vNick not only glanced around the room, but with great deliberation opened drawers and closets, and thoroughly examined everything.

" I may be mistaken," he said to himself, "so I'll be cautious. Nothing wrong in here. I'll try the

bedroom."

And without moro ado he went into the bask roora, lighted the gas, and overhauled everything

there.

He did not seem to care whether he was «aught

or not.

As it happened he had finished his search and was quietly sitting down in the front room when Ralph Moreland with a stare of astonishment hastened along the hall and looked into the room.

He did not say a world, but simply looked at Nick, who without moving spoke pleasantly.

" Como in, Mr. Moreland. I've made things com- fortable for you, you seo."

" How dare you, sir !" cried the young man, as his indignation got the better of him.

He strode in to the room with a hot flush on hi» cheek.

"Oh! I dare anything," said Nick, coolly. "By the way, Mr. Moreland, how many letters have you had from Mabel Livingston since she ran away

from home ?"

The young man staggered as if struck in the

face.

" How many letters ?" he repeated in a sort o£ stupefaction.

" Yes. You see wo are all so anxious about h«c and want to have her happily home again ttiat I

thought you would let me see the letters, don't you; *

know."

¡Nick smiled pleasantly as if lie were talking of softie ordinary matter. .

"What letters?"

Ralph said this with a great effort to appear

astonished.

" Well," said Nick, carelessly. " There's the one Jtatook out of your pocket and read while you were> washing your hands. The one you know that reads, 'Darling Ralph: Becantious. Detectives are after me. I have the money,' &c, &c. Don't you renumber ?"

For a moment Moreland looked aghast. Theil his face flushed, and a proud angry look carne over

ife

'\fi You scoundrel," he cried. _,

And he made a sudden fierce rush at the detective lolling i» the easy-chair.

The next moment his wrists were held in the iron grasp of the debecbive, who, in spibe of the young man's furious struggles, went on placidly :

" A scoundrel, you said. Certainly I must be a scoundrel, for I am the man who connived at the running away of a young girl¡ who shared tke money she stole from her father, and who helped to conceal her when he was away."

Suddenly Nick stopped his bantering tone nnd

«poke sternly.

" Young man, do you know I could carry you to the Tombs and keep you there on tho strength of what is in your pocket at this minute."

In a twipkling Nick had loosed the young man and taken from his coat-poeket nil that was in it.

Ralph made no effort to recover his property, bub sank wibb a groan into a chair and gazed desparingly

at Nick.

" Arrest mo, if you will," he said, " but I am iu nocenb, and so is Mabel I will swear ib-stake my life on it, spite of what she says in those letters."

" Will yow confess all yon know ?" " I will confess nothing."

" Think a moment. If I arrest you, you will be ruined for life-your reputation gone."

" I know it."

" And you will not apeak ?"

"I will not."

All this while Nick had been overhauling the con- tents of a largo pockeb-book.

He had opened several letters and was comparing |

" Well," he said after a long pause, " for a bright I young man yon aro the dullest I ever saw. Hero you are ready to throw away a well deserved repu- tation-for what ? Why just because you receive a letter asking-beseeching you I should say, to keep the strictest silence in regard to all you know of this affair. Ralph Moreland you say Mabel Living- ston is innocent, and yet she says in one letter that she has the money, and in another sends you one of the very thousand dollar bills that were stolen."

" I do not care what sho Bays," Ralph Moreland spoke in a tone of conviction, " Mabel could not do a wrong thing-could not do it."

" You fsay that hi the face of these letters-in

the face of this bill ?"

"Mr. Detective, if I had seen Mabel with my own eyes take that money, I would swear she was inno-

cent of wrong."

" Young man you have a better digestion than I have. But look here,. For a man who is so ready to stakeevery thing on her innocence you are mighty ready to believe her guilty of a foul wrong."

"How! What do you mean ?" " Who wrote these verses ?"

Nick held up a shoet of paper covered with

writing.

>" Mabel. She copied them from Cowper."

" I thought so. No brush up your wits and com- pare this letber, which confesses to having the money, with the writing on this paper. Look specially at the g's and p's and h's."

With a vague suspicion of what ho would discover, Ralph eagerly took thepieceB of paper and carefully studied them, as only an expert in writing could

do.

"These letters are forgeries !" he gasped. " Are you sure ?"

'.' Positive. Oh, fool that I was, not to see it be- fore. Base villian that I am to have credited for a moment that she could have done such a thing ; and yet-"

He suddenly stopped.

" And yet what ?" asked Nick, with an odd smile. " Nothing, nothing."

" OhJ'but it's something," said Nick, impatiently. " Why can't you trust me ? Yow were going to say and yet you saw her this morning."

Ralph started, and nodded assent. "And did you talk with her ?"

"No."

" Well, for goodness sake young man, don't make me waste valuable time dragging this out of you.

Tell me about it at once."

" I went to meet her, as the letter asked. She was waiting for me on the corner, but when I was about a hundred yards away she fled suddenly» first putting her finger on her Ups in token of silence. Then I noticed a man come hurredly and look all round. I took him for a detective, and made no attempt to follow Mabel, though indeed, «he was out of sight then. Afterwards I received the letter begging me to preserve a secret."

" You are quite sure it was Mabel you saw."

" I had no doubt of it then and I don't quite see

now."

" Of course you don't ; but I can assure you that you have not seen Mabel any more than you have heard from her. I am as sure as you are that she is perfectly innocent, and if you will give me your\ help I will find her and bring her home." 'i

" Do what you please with me."

" Good ; I expected as much. Now promise me to act as if you believe these letters to be genuine. Keep what I have told you a secret from everybody. I will see you to-morrow and explain more fully. Remember, you aro t* act before Mrs. Livingston exactly as you would have done if ^you had not seen no. Trust nobody but me, or whoever gives yow, this grip, Don' forget it. Whoever comes to you, and takes your hand so, have faith in. Good-

night."

And Nick, pleased to find that he had tbeon correct in his judgment of theyoung man, and of the puzzling events of the day, hurried away home.

"Still, I am only at the threshold of this mystery," he said to himself ; " but I'll peuetrate

it yet."

As he approached his honse, an uneasy feeling ho could not shahe off, oppressed him.

He glanced around to see if ho was followed. He

could see no one.

What had come over him ? He had never experienced such a sensation before.

Involuntarily he sprang up the stoop at a bound, opened the door with a nervous haste, and ran up

stairs.

The rooms were dark and silent. His father was not home, then.

Something bade him be cautious. Why should < he be? And yet, when he opened the door of the apartments, he did not enter, but stepped aside and cast a piercing glance into gloom.

He listened intently.

Not a sound waB heard.

He reasoned with himself. What was there to

fear?

He took a match from his pocket, lighted it, .and stepped boldly in. '

Ah ! what was that ?

He dashed the match from him, and in another instant had hurled himself on a crouching form.

The next instant a blood-curdling croke from his lips, and he staggered to his feet.

(To be continued.)

A- '

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