The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Stolen Brain; Or, A Wonderful Crime

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Stolen Brain; Or, A Wonderful Crime

Author: Nicholas Carter

Release date: November 15, 2021 [eBook #66740]

Language: English

Credits: David Edwards, Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at




New Magnet Library


Not a Dull Book in This List


Nick Carter stands for an interesting detective story. The fact that the books in this line are so uniformly good is entirely due to the work of a specialist. The man who wrote these stories produced no other type of fiction. His mind was concentrated upon the creation of new plots and situations in which his hero emerged triumphantly from all sorts of trouble, and landed the criminal just where he should be—behind the bars.

The author of these stories knew more about writing detective stories than any other single person.

Following is a list of the best Nick Carter stories. They have been selected with extreme care, and we unhesitatingly recommend each of them as being fully as interesting as any detective story between cloth covers which sells at ten times the price.

If you do not know Nick Carter, buy a copy of any of the New Magnet Library books, and get acquainted. He will surprise and delight you.


850—Wanted: A ClewBy Nicholas Carter
851—A Tangled SkeinBy Nicholas Carter
852—The Bullion MysteryBy Nicholas Carter
853—The Man of RiddlesBy Nicholas Carter
854—A Miscarriage of JusticeBy Nicholas Carter
855—The Gloved HandBy Nicholas Carter
856—Spoilers and the SpoilsBy Nicholas Carter
857—The Deeper GameBy Nicholas Carter
858—Bolts from Blue SkiesBy Nicholas Carter
859—Unseen FoesBy Nicholas Carter
860—Knaves in High PlacesBy Nicholas Carter
861—The Microbe of CrimeBy Nicholas Carter
862—In the Toils of FearBy Nicholas Carter
863—A Heritage of TroubleBy Nicholas Carter
864—Called to AccountBy Nicholas Carter
865—The Just and the UnjustBy Nicholas Carter
866—Instinct at FaultBy Nicholas Carter
867—A Rogue Worth TrappingBy Nicholas Carter
968—A Woman’s HandBy Nicholas Carter
969—A Network of CrimeBy Nicholas Carter
970—At Thompson’s RanchBy Nicholas Carter
971—The Crossed NeedlesBy Nicholas Carter
972—The Diamond Mine CaseBy Nicholas Carter
973—Blood Will TellBy Nicholas Carter
974—An Accidental PasswordBy Nicholas Carter
975—The Crook’s BaubleBy Nicholas Carter
976—Two Plus TwoBy Nicholas Carter
977—The Yellow LabelBy Nicholas Carter
978—The Clever CelestialBy Nicholas Carter
979—The Amphitheater PlotBy Nicholas Carter
980—Gideon Drexel’s MillionsBy Nicholas Carter
981—Death in LifeBy Nicholas Carter
982—A Stolen IdentityBy Nicholas Carter
983—Evidence by TelephoneBy Nicholas Carter
984—The Twelve Tin BoxesBy Nicholas Carter
985—Clew Against ClewBy Nicholas Carter
986—Lady VelvetBy Nicholas Carter
987—Playing a Bold GameBy Nicholas Carter
988—A Dead Man’s GripBy Nicholas Carter
989—Snarled IdentitiesBy Nicholas Carter
990—A Deposit Vault PuzzleBy Nicholas Carter
991—The Crescent BrotherhoodBy Nicholas Carter
992—The Stolen Pay TrainBy Nicholas Carter
993—The Sea FoxBy Nicholas Carter
994—Wanted by Two ClientsBy Nicholas Carter
995—The Van Alstine CaseBy Nicholas Carter
996—Check No. 777By Nicholas Carter
997—Partners in PerilBy Nicholas Carter
998—Nick Carter’s Clever ProtégéBy Nicholas Carter
999—The Sign of the Crossed KnivesBy Nicholas Carter
1000—The Man Who VanishedBy Nicholas Carter
1001—A Battle for the RightBy Nicholas Carter
1002—A Game of CraftBy Nicholas Carter
1003—Nick Carter’s RetainerBy Nicholas Carter
1004—Caught in the ToilsBy Nicholas Carter
1005—A Broken BondBy Nicholas Carter
1006—The Crime of the French CaféBy Nicholas Carter
1007—The Man Who Stole MillionsBy Nicholas Carter
1008—The Twelve Wise MenBy Nicholas Carter
1009—Hidden FoesBy Nicholas Carter
1010—A Gamblers’ SyndicateBy Nicholas Carter
1011—A Chance DiscoveryBy Nicholas Carter
1012—Among the CounterfeitersBy Nicholas Carter
1013—A Threefold DisappearanceBy Nicholas Carter
1014—At Odds With Scotland YardBy Nicholas Carter
1015—A Princess of CrimeBy Nicholas Carter
1016—Found on the BeachBy Nicholas Carter
1017—A Spinner of DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1018—The Detective’s Pretty NeighborBy Nicholas Carter
1019—A Bogus ClewBy Nicholas Carter
1020—The Puzzle of Five PistolsBy Nicholas Carter
1021—The Secret of the Marble MantelBy Nicholas Carter
1022—A Bite of an AppleBy Nicholas Carter
1023—A Triple CrimeBy Nicholas Carter
1024—The Stolen Race HorseBy Nicholas Carter
1025—WildfireBy Nicholas Carter
1026—A Herald PersonalBy Nicholas Carter
1027—The Finger of SuspicionBy Nicholas Carter
1028—The Crimson ClewBy Nicholas Carter
1029—Nick Carter Down EastBy Nicholas Carter
1030—The Chain of ClewsBy Nicholas Carter
1031—A Victim of CircumstancesBy Nicholas Carter
1032—Brought to BayBy Nicholas Carter
1033—The Dynamite TrapBy Nicholas Carter
1034—A Scrap of Black LaceBy Nicholas Carter
1035—The Woman of EvilBy Nicholas Carter
1036—A Legacy of HateBy Nicholas Carter
1037—A Trusted RogueBy Nicholas Carter
1038—Man Against ManBy Nicholas Carter
1039—The Demons of the NightBy Nicholas Carter
1040—The Brotherhood of DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1041—At the Knife’s PointBy Nicholas Carter
1042—A Cry for HelpBy Nicholas Carter
1043—A Stroke of PolicyBy Nicholas Carter
1044—Hounded to DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1045—A Bargain in CrimeBy Nicholas Carter
1046—The Fatal PrescriptionBy Nicholas Carter
1047—The Man of IronBy Nicholas Carter
1048—An Amazing ScoundrelBy Nicholas Carter
1049—The Chain of EvidenceBy Nicholas Carter
1050—Paid with DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1051—A Fight for a ThroneBy Nicholas Carter
1052—The Woman of SteelBy Nicholas Carter
1053—The Seal of DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1054—The Human FiendBy Nicholas Carter
1055—A Desperate ChanceBy Nicholas Carter
1056—A Chase in the DarkBy Nicholas Carter
1057—The Snare and the GameBy Nicholas Carter
1058—The Murray Hill MysteryBy Nicholas Carter
1059—Nick Carter’s Close CallBy Nicholas Carter
1060—The Missing Cotton KingBy Nicholas Carter
1061—A Game of PlotsBy Nicholas Carter
1062—The Prince of LiarsBy Nicholas Carter
1063—The Man at the WindowBy Nicholas Carter
1064—The Red LeagueBy Nicholas Carter
1065—The Price of a SecretBy Nicholas Carter
1066—The Worst Case on RecordBy Nicholas Carter
1067—From Peril to PerilBy Nicholas Carter
1068—The Seal of SilenceBy Nicholas Carter
1069—Nick Carter’s Chinese PuzzleBy Nicholas Carter
1070—A Blackmailer’s BluffBy Nicholas Carter
1071—Heard in the DarkBy Nicholas Carter
1072—A Checkmated ScoundrelBy Nicholas Carter
1073—The Cashier’s SecretBy Nicholas Carter
1074—Behind a MaskBy Nicholas Carter
1075—The Cloak of GuiltBy Nicholas Carter
1076—Two Villains in OneBy Nicholas Carter
1077—The Hot Air ClewBy Nicholas Carter
1078—Run to EarthBy Nicholas Carter
1079—The Certified CheckBy Nicholas Carter
1080—Weaving the WebBy Nicholas Carter
1081—Beyond PursuitBy Nicholas Carter
1082—The Claws of the TigerBy Nicholas Carter
1083—Driven From CoverBy Nicholas Carter
1084—A Deal in DiamondsBy Nicholas Carter
1085—The Wizard of the CueBy Nicholas Carter
1086—A Race for Ten ThousandBy Nicholas Carter
1087—The Criminal LinkBy Nicholas Carter
1088—The Red SignalBy Nicholas Carter
1089—The Secret PanelBy Nicholas Carter
1090—A Bonded VillainBy Nicholas Carter
1091—A Move in the DarkBy Nicholas Carter
1092—Against Desperate OddsBy Nicholas Carter
1093—The Telltale PhotographsBy Nicholas Carter
1094—The Ruby PinBy Nicholas Carter
1095—The Queen of DiamondsBy Nicholas Carter
1096—A Broken TrailBy Nicholas Carter
1097—An Ingenious StratagemBy Nicholas Carter
1098—A Sharper’s DownfallBy Nicholas Carter
1099—A Race Track GambleBy Nicholas Carter
1100—Without a ClewBy Nicholas Carter
1101—The Council of DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1102—The Hole in the VaultBy Nicholas Carter
1103—In Death’s GripBy Nicholas Carter
1104—A Great ConspiracyBy Nicholas Carter
1105—The Guilty GovernorBy Nicholas Carter
1106—A Ring of RascalsBy Nicholas Carter
1107—A Masterpiece of CrimeBy Nicholas Carter
1108—A Blow For VengeanceBy Nicholas Carter
1109—Tangled ThreadsBy Nicholas Carter
1110—The Crime of the CameraBy Nicholas Carter
1111—The Sign of the DaggerBy Nicholas Carter
1112—Nick Carter’s PromiseBy Nicholas Carter
1113—Marked for DeathBy Nicholas Carter
1114—The Limited HoldupBy Nicholas Carter
1115—When the Trap Was SprungBy Nicholas Carter
1116—Through the Cellar WallBy Nicholas Carter
1117—Under the Tiger’s ClawsBy Nicholas Carter






Author of the celebrated stories of Nick Carter’s adventures,
which are published exclusively in the New Magnet
, conceded to be among the best
detective tales ever written.

79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York

Copyright, 1914
The Stolen Brain

(Printed in the United States of America)

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian.




“There goes another, chief. That makes five so far. There surely is something going on to-night,” the young man at the window declared excitedly.

It was Patsy Garvan, Nick Carter’s second assistant, and he who was addressed was the great New York detective himself.

The closest friends would have known neither of them, however, unless they had been in the secret, for both were cleverly disguised.

Moreover, the room in which they seemed to be so much at home was not one of those in Nick’s handsome Madison Avenue residence in New York.

It was, in fact, a room in a house miles away from there, to the northward, in the Bronx section of the great city, a short distance from the New York Zoölogical Park.

On the first of the month, about ten days before, a family, which went by the name of Webb, had moved in there. The family consisted of three persons: The father, Charles Webb; a grown son, William, and the latter’s young wife, Mildred.

Such, at least, was the understanding of the neighbors. As a matter of fact, Charles Webb was Nick Carter, his “son” was better known as Patsy Garvan,{6} the famous detective’s clever assistant, and “Mildred” was Adelina Garvan, Patsy’s pretty Chilean-Spanish wife, whose woman’s intuitions had materially assisted in solving more than one difficult problem in the mathematics of crime.

It was a peculiar case which had brought them to that out-of-the-way neighborhood, and required delicate handling.

Their interest lay in the house next door, a big, rambling wooden structure, which, with theirs, stood somewhat apart, with vacant lots all about.

The house in question was occupied, and had been for years, by its owner, Doctor Hiram A. Grantley.

Grantley was well known in New York medical circles. Indeed, his fame was at least twenty-five years old.

He was accounted one of the most skillful surgeons in the State, which necessarily meant in the United States as well. He had a long list of remarkably daring and successful operations to his credit, and might have been one of the wealthiest and most honored men in his profession had it not been for certain unfortunate peculiarities, which had grown upon him as the years passed.

People were afraid of him—that was the sum and substance of it.

He was altogether too daring and ruthless in his methods, too ready to operate on the slightest provocation. He was never satisfied with the conservative methods of his colleagues, but was always seeking new ways of carving up the human frame. The individual patient meant nothing to him. It was a matter of su{7}preme indifference to Doctor Hiram Grantley whether his “cases” lived or died, so long as they gave him a chance to test his theories.

Of course, he recognized as clearly as any one that a surgeon’s ultimate success must lie in saving life, not in taking it. That was his goal, but, being apparently heartless, and looking upon the individuals who sought his services much as other surgeons looked upon guinea pigs—merely as subjects for experimentation—he usually preferred to try something new rather than follow a safe-and-sane procedure which had proved its worth in hundreds or thousands of cases.

That was the quickest way to advance the science of surgery, according to Grantley, and the result was that, years before, people who knew of his tendencies had ceased, for the most part, to go to him, unless they were in such desperate straits that they were willing to take a last, supreme chance.

Consequently, his practice had fallen away to a very marked extent, and, despite his acknowledged brilliancy and the many improved methods he had introduced from time to time, he had come to be looked upon with more or less distrust, even by the members of his own profession.

His income had once been a very large one, however, and when it dwindled, he gave up his house in one of the fashionable sections of the city and moved to the Bronx, where he turned the house he bought into a sort of private hospital.

His treatment at the hands of the public and his brother surgeons seemed to aggravate his tendencies rather than curb them, and he became more and more{8} eccentric and ruthless, a sinister figure in appearance and in reputation.

When Nick Carter interested himself in Doctor Grantley, the latter was about fifty-five years of age. As a young man he had had jet-black hair and eyes. His hair was now almost white, and it was always brushed straight back from his forehead, although worn rather long.

His brows were gray and shaggy, and under them gleamed his piercing black eyes. His forehead was high and denoted great intelligence. His nose was thin, prominent, and curved like the beak of an eagle, or the nose of an Egyptian mummy.

He was nearly six feet in height, very spare in build, and his long, sensitive fingers resembled claws at times, as they curved out from his bony hands.

For two or three years, Grantley had been at odds with the latest owner of the house next door, a certain John D. Wallace.

Wallace was an intelligent man of means, a retired business man, who was an ardent antivivisectionist, whereas Grantley had always been famous—or infamous, as you please—for his experiments on living animals.

The former had bought the smaller house, next door, at a time when the surgeon had tried to get hold of it, probably because he did not care for such near neighbors unless he could choose them himself. Ever since then there had been bad blood between Grantley and Wallace.

Wallace had complained of Grantley more than once, alleging that the doctor’s private hospital was a{9} nuisance, and that the howling of his animal subjects was intolerable.

Nothing further had been done about it by Wallace, however, and Grantley, in retaliation, had made it as uncomfortable as he could for Wallace’s tenants.

At last, Wallace had done some spying on his own account, and he had finally come to Nick Carter with a startling theory.

He believed that Doctor Grantley was not only using animals in his experiments in vivisection, but human beings as well, and he offered the detective a tempting fee to look into the matter.

The fee did not hold out as much interest to Nick as Wallace’s story did, for it bore out many more or less vague rumors which he had heard.

According to Wallace and others, Doctor Grantley had recently made a surprising move. Although he was about the last man in the world who would naturally be thought of as a philanthropist, he had begun to offer his services to the poor of the East Side, and without charge.

More than that, Wallace claimed to have spent hours in the house he owned, which was vacant at the time, and had seen several patients enter the private hospital, all of whom seemed to be foreigners and far from prosperous enough to pay Grantley’s regular fees, which had always been large.

Wallace also reported that he had reason to believe that bodies were carried away from time to time, under cover of darkness.

Finally, he declared that several young men, who looked like doctors, frequented the place, especially at{10} night. From this circumstance he argued that Grantley had a following among young and unscrupulous surgeons, who came there to witness or take part in the older man’s gruesome experiments.

In answer to Nick’s inquiries, Wallace informed the detective that Doctor Grantley’s regular establishment included Grantley himself, Doctor Siebold, his young assistant; a nurse of perhaps thirty-five, Miss Rawlinson, and a German manservant, named Hoff.

The latter was the doctor’s only servant, and, apparently, did Grantley’s cooking. Wallace was inclined to think that Hoff had seen army service.

It will readily be seen that the case was no ordinary one. There is no law which covers the employment of living human beings in such experiments, for the simple reason that until lately there has been no demand for it and no suspicion that the practice existed anywhere.

If a death could be proved to have occurred under such circumstances, however, and not in the ordinary course of medical or surgical practice, the person responsible could be arrested and tried for manslaughter, or, failing in that, he might be exposed and driven into retirement, if definite proof could be obtained that he used men, women, or children in his ruthless pursuit of forbidden knowledge.

The detective saw that John Wallace was not a visionary crank but a practical man of affairs, who was not likely to exaggerate. Grantley’s reputation lent color to the possibility, for another thing, and, finally, the detective had strong convictions on the subject of vivisection, even as practiced upon animals.{11}

In most cases he was willing to believe the claims of the vivisectionists that the living animals which they strapped down and cut open were generally under the influence of some drug, but, to Nick’s mind, that did not alter the fact that, after the poor creatures had been mutilated in a hundred different ways, they were frequently turned loose, suffering acutely, and with their wounds uncared for.

Nick’s kind heart led him to abhor such cruelty, especially when it was indulged in so freely and constantly that its oft-reiterated excuses lost most, if not all, of their original weight.

“A certain amount of vivisection, carried on under proper restrictions, may be an important factor in the advancement of science,” the detective was wont to say. “I don’t say it is, but it may be. Even so, it should be permitted only in the case of a few men, not indulged in by the wholesale in every medical school.”

It may be imagined, therefore, that he was more than interested when it was hinted to him that Doctor Hiram Grantley had gone farther than any one else was known to have dared to go, and had extended his experiments to the defenseless and ignorant poor of the East Side.

Nick hoped that Wallace was wrong, but he determined to find out for himself as soon as possible, and made his plans accordingly.{12}



At Wallace’s suggestion, the detective promised to occupy the empty house next door to Grantley’s under an assumed name, moving in openly, as an ordinary tenant would do.

The plan was carried out with comparatively little delay, and Patsy was chosen because he was married and could bring his wife along to give an air of domesticity to the establishment.

The “Webbs” had moved in ten days before; their furniture having been carefully selected in different secondhand stores of the better class.

Charles Webb, the “father,” went downtown every day, but it was understood in the neighborhood that “Will” was temporarily out of work. That explained why he remained at home all day.

A close but secret watch had been kept on the doctor’s house, and its regular occupants had been studied as thoroughly as possible under the circumstances.

Doctor Siebold, Grantley’s assistant, had proved to be a man in his early thirties, evidently of German descent, whose keen, searching eyes seemed to belie his too agreeable expression and his suave manners.

Kate Rawlinson, the nurse, seemed to be thoroughly efficient, as she must have been to please Doctor Grantley; but her face, which was rather good looking, in a pinched, tight-lipped way, had a hard, forbidding expression, which warned one not to look to her for much human sympathy, to say the least.{13}

As for Hoff, the German servant, Nick found it easy to agree with Wallace that he had been a soldier. He was fully six feet in height, powerfully built, with a scarred face, keen blue eyes, and a sandy mustache, the points of which were trained rakishly upward, after the model of his emperor’s.

Of the lot, he was the only one who seemed likely to give much trouble in a physical encounter, if it came to that. Siebold was slight and wore glasses, and Doctor Grantley himself, while undoubtedly strong and wiry, did not impress one as a fighting man.

That remained to be seen, however.

It was Hoff who always answered the door, and he did it with an air of suspicion and a brusqueness which suggested a sentry on duty.

Little real progress had been made by the detectives, despite their vigilance. They had discovered that Wallace was correct in saying that patients who seemed to be in humble circumstances were frequently brought to Doctor Grantley’s, or came of their own accord, and they had verified Wallace’s report that several young men, obviously doctors, frequented the place, but that had only been ascertained after a tedious wait.

For the first few days after the Webbs moved in, there appeared to be little activity next door, probably because Doctor Grantley was more or less suspicious, in a general way, of the newcomers, whose presence he doubtless resented.

He would naturally have waited to see if they were going to show any embarrassing interest in his doings. Their apparent inclination to attend strictly to their own affairs, however, seemed to reassure him. Shrewd{14} as he was, he did not dream of the watch which was being maintained, day and night, over his house.

Presently his attitude of caution relaxed, and things went on as they had been going. Nevertheless, with all their advantages, Nick and his assistant were not in a position to draw any very definite conclusion for some time, and in the end they were little the wiser.

They decided that they would have to resort to some more active method of getting the evidence they desired. Many different plans were discussed and rejected. In the meantime, two of Nick’s other assistants, well disguised, were sent to the doctor’s house on different, plausible errands, but they did not succeed in penetrating it far enough to learn anything of value.

Furthermore, although the windows of the Webb house were left open night and day, no sounds suggestive of torture were heard, and whatever went on in the private hospital must have been well cloaked and unaccompanied by any excitement.

Nick and Patsy finally determined upon a ruse. They had learned enough to know that the house was carefully guarded by the watchful Hoff, who prowled around at all hours. Besides, they wished to gain access to it when the young doctors were there, for it was reasonable to suppose that at such times the most important experiments took place, whatever their nature might be.

But with five or six extra men in the house, in addition to its regular occupants, the chances for secret entrance were decidedly slim, to say nothing of the{15} likelihood that the investigators could get into position to witness the proceedings.

Therefore, it seemed necessary to wait until the occasion seemed as promising as possible, and then to force an entrance under cover of some exciting diversion, which could be counted upon to draw away, temporarily, the attention of Grantley and his chosen disciples.

It meant a dangerous plunge, for, if it failed to uncover the desired evidence, for any reason, it would unavoidably reveal to Doctor Grantley the fact that he was under suspicion. He would be put on his guard in that case and it would be far more difficult thereafter to trip him up, even if he was not of the sort to put up a fight or attempt to retaliate.

Not only that, but there was little likelihood that such a device would catch the man and his associates in the midst of a punishable crime.

Time was passing, however, and the detective felt it necessary to push matters. His attention was needed elsewhere, and he made up his mind that if he could expose Grantley’s methods and show that the eccentric surgeon was actually engaged in unwarranted experiments on his poor and obscure patients, public opinion would do the rest and drive the doctor out of the country, or, at least, force him to give up his questionable practices.

The newspapers could be counted on to make the most of the sensation, and it would almost certainly result in the passing of stringent laws against human vivisection, as well as the unauthorized administration of various experimental serums in the case of unsus{16}pecting persons, especially children, of which there had recently been many instances in New York.

That would be a great step in advance, and it would make possible Grantley’s subsequent conviction, if legal proof could be obtained in regard to his past performances, or if he should ever resume such practices in the State at some future time.

Half a loaf was better than no bread. That was the way Nick looked at it. Thus far he had tried in vain, by means of numerous inquiries on the East Side and elsewhere, to find a single instance of a suspicious death under Grantley’s care. He had little doubt that there were plenty of cases of that sort, but he had not happened to come across them, and his time was precious.

Finally, he planned to explode a large bomb in front of his house, by means of an electrical connection.

The bomb was to be placed in the middle of the street, which was not extensively used at any time, and Nick counted on the deafening noise of the explosion to draw the occupants of Grantley’s house into the street, or, at any rate, away from the operating room.

While they were temporarily absent, Nick and Patsy were to break into the doctor’s house at the rear and make their way as rapidly as possible to the operating room, the location of which they had roughly determined by a process of elimination.

They intended to take with them an expert witness in the person of Doctor Willis Cooke, a friend of Nick’s and one of the ablest of the city’s younger surgeons, who was noted for his opposition to vivisection in almost all of its forms.{17}

In addition to this qualification, Doctor Cooke was a strapping fellow, an athlete, and a champion trap shooter, who could be depended upon to give a good account of himself if it came to a fight.

Doctor Cooke’s presence would be important, because he could determine at a glance the nature of the experiment in progress, whether legitimate or otherwise, and his testimony would be taken by the public as authoritative, where Nick’s, not being that of a specialist, might be open to question.

On the night in question, when Patsy made the observation recorded at the beginning of the first chapter, the young surgeon was in the room with the detective and the latter’s assistant.

He had arrived unobtrusively at the Webb house some time before, having been summoned by Nick when it became clear that something out of the ordinary was about to take place at the private hospital next door.

A young girl of eighteen or thereabouts, evidently a Jewess, had been brought there in a taxi by Doctor Siebold that afternoon.

She was noticeably pretty and seemed to be in ill health, although she had alighted from the machine without assistance. Patsy had witnessed her arrival and had reported the circumstance to Nick when the latter put in an appearance about five-thirty.

It looked as if interesting developments might be looked for that night, and, as the bomb was all in readiness to be planted, Nick decided to telephone for Doctor Cooke.{18}

By half past eight five men had arrived and been admitted by the watchful Hoff. The detectives had, of course, no means of knowing that the pretty Jewess was to be the subject of the night’s experiments, but it seemed probable. In any event, there was something of more than ordinary interest scheduled.

Nick waited until nine o’clock to see if any others would arrive. One did, about a quarter of nine. He was obviously in a hurry, which indicated that he was late.

When another fifteen minutes passed, without incident, Nick inferred that no others were coming. He decided to delay still longer, though, for he wished to give Grantley time to get to work.

The delay might mean a great deal to the victim of the vivisectionists, but that, unfortunately, could not be helped. It would do no good to break in prematurely, for, unless an operation of some questionable kind was in progress when the interruption came, nothing would be gained, and Doctor Grantley would be justified in taking legal action against the intruders.

But when nine-fifteen came, the tender-hearted detective could stand the suspense no longer.

“Heaven knows what may be happening to that poor girl—or some one else!” he exclaimed. “See if the coast is clear, Patsy.”

The street was deserted, and Nick’s assistant slipped out and placed the bomb at a sufficient distance from the two houses to prevent any material damage.

A small electric wire was attached to it in such a way that the explosion would free it and allow it to be{19} drawn quickly into the house as soon as it had done its work.

Nick and Patsy were armed, although they did not look for any resistance of the kind in which there would be gun play, and the detective had supplied Doctor Cooke with an automatic.

They would be greatly outnumbered, of course, if Grantley and the others returned to the operating room and found them there, which they fully expected. Therefore, it was well to be on the safe side, despite the fact that they did not look for weapons in the hands of any of the surgeons.

Patsy’s wife was instructed to rush out of the house immediately after the explosion, to pretend to be greatly mystified and terrorized, and to say that her husband and father-in-law were both downtown.

In that way it was hoped that any suspicions Grantley might have would be nipped in the bud for the time being, and that pretty “Mrs. Webb’s” distress would delay the return of the doctors to the house.

The electric wire was a long one, extending from the bomb in the street through one of the open front windows, and so to a concealed battery.

Nick and his two companions took their places in the back yard, under cover of the fence separating Grantley’s grounds from theirs.

Nick and Patsy carried burglars’ tools, so as to be ready for a quick entry.

The seconds dragged by.


An ear-splitting report rent the air.

Adelina had fired the bomb and was doubtless draw{20}ing in the wire, preparatory to running out and playing the other part assigned to her.

Without a second’s delay the two detectives swarmed over the fence and ran silently toward the rear of the private hospital, with Doctor Cooke close at their heels.{21}



They heard a commotion in Grantley’s house, and the scuffling of many feet as they ran across the yard.

Evidently the occupants were scurrying to the front to see what had happened. The ruse seemed to have worked so far. It remained to be seen how successfully the rest would turn out.

Nick and his companions were already under cover back of the doctor’s house before any one emerged at the front.

They found the rear door locked, and left it alone after giving the knob one quick wrench. The nearest windows were all fastened, but Nick’s jimmy was put to use at once, and in half a minute a sharp click told that the catch had given way.

The window was pried up swiftly but silently and the detective slipped in, his example being imitated at once by the others.

They found themselves in a large kitchen, which was brightly lighted, and which gave evidence that Hoff had been there very recently, probably at the time of the explosion, for there was a dishpan in the sink and dishes in the draining rack alongside.

In their previous study of the windows they had learned that there was a rear stairway, for they had often seen Hoff passing a small window as he went up and down.

They had reason to believe that the operating room{22} was on the second floor, somewhere in the center of the house, and they meant to reach it, if possible, by way of the rear stairs.

In fact, that was their only hope of doing so unobserved, since they could not count on the bomb having emptied the house completely.

The door from the kitchen into the lower hall had been left open, and Nick and his friends dodged through it. Fortunately, the hall contained a turn, which shut them off from observation on the part of those on the front stairs and at the door.

They heard hurried footsteps descending the other stairs, however, and concluded that several persons were clustered about the front door.

The rear stairway was easily located, and they started upward with as much care as their desire for haste permitted. It was no part of their plan to leave the house again without being seen. They knew that was practically out of the question. However, they wished to see as much as they could before they were discovered, and were, naturally, anxious to find something that would justify their intrusion before Doctor Grantley became aware of their presence.

But luck was against them.

When they reached the head of the servants’ stairs, they saw the open door of an unusually brightly lighted room about fifteen feet ahead of them.

The detective instantly came to the conclusion that they had found the room they sought, for the brilliancy of the light told him that a big arc lamp, or other illuminating device of similar power, must be in use.

As he started toward the door, however, he became{23} aware, for the first time, that there was a figure standing in the dimmer light of the hall, beyond the operating room, probably at the head of the first flight at the front.

More than that, the figure’s posture was a tense, listening one, and a white face was turned over its shoulder.

The form was that of a woman in a nurse’s garb. Undoubtedly their presence had been detected by Miss Rawlinson, who had evidently not seen fit to descend the stairs with the rest, but was waiting for their report as to the cause of the explosion.

When Nick first caught sight of her, she had seemed to be held spellbound by this unlooked-for invasion from the rear, but in a moment she recovered her self-possession.

“Help, Doctor Grantley—quick!” she called down the front stairs, in a high, shrill voice. “There are men in the house! It’s a trick!”

And as soon as she had shrieked her warning, instead of running to meet her friends, she turned and came flying along the hall toward the detectives.

Nick had thrown all caution to the winds as soon as he saw her looking at him. With a low-toned command to the others to follow him, he had leaped forward, and when the nurse started back to meet him—or, more likely, with the idea of keeping him out of the operating room if she could—he had almost reached the brightly lighted doorway.

“Stop! What are you doing here?” the woman demanded harshly. “You must not do——”

But, although the detective heard a clamor of alarm{24} downstairs and the sounds of running feet, he ignored the nurse and sprang into the room.

Patsy entered a moment or two later, but Doctor Cooke, who brought up the rear, was intercepted by the nurse, who fearlessly grabbed him and sought to hold him back, calling wildly to her employer and the others to hurry.

It went against the grain, but the young surgeon, knowing that every second was precious, kept on his way after a momentary pause.

He did not lay a finger upon the nurse. He simply dragged her with him, despite all of her struggles to hold him back, as a football player drags the opponents who are trying to down him.

Thus the three gained access to the room before any of the men reached the head of the stairs.

The sight that met their gaze was an appalling one, and their hearts contracted with horror and pity.

A girl, plainly the same one whom Patsy had seen arriving that afternoon, lay on an operating table, in the full glare of a large arc lamp, which was shaded in such a way as to throw all of its rays downward with pitiless intensity.

At first glance she appeared to be lifeless, but she was doubtless merely under the influence of some anæsthetic.

In fact, there was the best reason in the world for thinking that she was alive—her heart was in full view, its rhythmic contractions being revealed in the most ghastly way.

The lower part of her body was covered with a sheet, but the upper part was bare, and a great hole{25} had been cut in the wall of her chest, through which her beating heart had been lifted out.

Something had been inserted beneath the heart, after it had been raised through the incision, with the result that the naked organ, red and pulsating, stood out in startling relief against the whiteness of her body.

“Good Lord!” exclaimed the detective reverently, as he got his first view of it. “The fiends!”

Patsy, used as he was to scenes of crime and bloodshed, actually shrank back a little as his eyes fell upon the horrible spectacle, and even Doctor Cooke was visibly affected when he staggered in, with the nurse clinging desperately to him.

Nick and Patsy made way for him without attempting to draw nearer to the table. They had seen all they could endure for the moment, and were already waiting for the advent of the surgeons.

Willis Cooke kept on to the unconscious girl’s side, however, without paying any more attention to the nurse than if she had been a puppy tugging at his trousers leg.

He bent over the still, mutilated form, scrutinized the exposed heart for a moment, and then took in the thinness of the arms, the prominence of the ribs in the slightly emaciated body, and the rather sunken cheeks, in which faint spots of unnatural color still lingered, despite the pallor, due to the drug and the operation.

Suddenly he raised his head and turned to Nick. His jaw was suggestively prominent, and there was a steely glitter in his eyes, which boded no good to Doctor Hiram Grantley and the latter’s associates.

“There is absolutely no excuse for this,” he said{26} quickly, as if conscious that those responsible for the girl’s condition were already at the door. “Her heart is perfectly healthy. She has tuberculosis—that’s the way Grantley got his hands on her. I suppose he promised to cure——”

But he had no time to finish the sentence.

At that moment Doctor Grantley himself, clothed in white from head to foot, burst into the room, a malignant snarl on his strongly marked, sinister face.

And after him came Doctor Siebold and the six visiting surgeons.

“What is the meaning of this?” howled Grantley. “Who are you and what in thunder are you doing in my house, curse you!”

And with that he jerked out one of the drawers of a desk which stood beside the door and took out a couple of revolvers, one of which he started to pass to his assistant.{27}



Nick, Patsy, and Doctor Cooke had concealed their weapons in order not to provoke trouble unnecessarily. At this move on Grantley’s part, however, Nick whipped out his automatic and covered the surgeon.

“None of that, my man!” he commanded. “We’re all armed.”

The sharply spoken words and the steady muzzles of the three automatics—for Nick’s companions had followed suit immediately—froze Doctor Grantley into inaction for a moment.

One hand was still extended toward Doctor Siebold, but it had been arrested in mid-air, and the younger surgeon made no attempt to take the weapon.

All eyes were fixed upon Nick Carter, save those of his own companions.

“I don’t care a whoop whether you’re armed or not,” Grantley snarled, but he made no further attempt at aggression. As a matter of fact, he lowered his extended arm. “You can’t bluff me like that,” he went on. “What do you want here, anyway?”

He was trying his best to bluff it out, but it was obvious that he was not finding it an easy matter.

Suddenly his eyes shifted to Doctor Cooke, and he gave a start of recognition. At the same time a still more frightened look came into his eyes.

“So that’s it, is it?” he growled. “You’re behind this, you young whippersnapper!{28}

“I am not ‘behind’ it,” Cooke corrected. “Nothing would have given me greater pleasure, but, as it happens, I was merely asked to come along in order to give a surgeon’s opinion of your scientific orgies. I have seen all that is necessary. There is nothing the matter with your victim’s heart—nothing whatever. You had absolutely no excuse, either from the standpoint of surgery or humanity, for performing any sort of an operation upon it, least of all to drag it out of this poor child’s body and make a show of it. Her lungs are more or less affected, that is all, and it was doubtless to the excuse of treating her for tuberculosis that you got her in your power. If I had not seen with my own eyes, Doctor Grantley, I would not have believed it possible that any doctor could be guilty of such a fiendish misuse of professional privileges. What did you expect to find that you did not already know, and if these satellites of yours were so ignorant of heart action—which I am not prepared to believe even of them—why could you not enlighten them just as well with a dog or a cat or a guinea pig?”

Doctor Cooke’s fiery earnestness and withering scorn were good to see, but Grantley’s attitude remained one of sullen defiance.

“None of your business!” he retorted angrily. “I refuse to answer to my inferiors for anything I do. What’s more, I’m beyond the reach of the law, and you know it. I am searching for something of which you and your kind have never dreamed, and if I choose to use a piece of worthless human flesh, doomed already by disease, it is no affair of yours or the world’s.{29}

“Don’t be too sure of that,” Nick spoke up. “By the way, permit me to introduce myself. I am Nick Carter, the detective, of whom you may possibly have heard, and this is one of my assistants. We have been living next door to you for a short time, but quite long enough to become convinced that there was something radically wrong here.”

Doctor Grantley paled at the mention of Nick’s name, and a perceptible tremor of surprise and fear passed over the group of doctors behind him. Seeing this, Doctor Cooke broke in grimly:

“And while we’re about it, Mr. Carter, I might as well make known to you a couple of Grantley’s hangers-on there. I know two of them well by sight. The one with the mustache is Doctor Hunter, and the one with reddish hair is Doctor Willard. I can furnish you with their addresses if you wish.”

The two men named cringed before Doctor Cooke’s accusing finger.

“Thank you, Cooke, that will help,” Nick replied quietly. “And now, gentlemen, I am afraid I shall have to give you another little jolt. I am a special officer and am quite within my rights in arresting you all for malpractice, which I intend to do forthwith. The nurse, here, will be detained as a material witness.”

“I’d like to see you try it!” stormed Grantley. “Such a charge is ridiculous. I can take the position that the displacement of the heart was only incidental, that I was really trying to find a surgical method of dealing with tuberculosis. Nobody could prove that I wasn’t, and I can get any number of expert witnesses to testify in my behalf, or, at least, to admit that I{30} might have been looking for what I claimed. You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. I tell you there’s no law that can touch me.”

“Perhaps not,” admitted the detective. “That is comparatively unimportant, however.”

“Unimportant? How the devil do you make that out?”

“The charge of malpractice is a good-enough excuse for your arrest. After that the newspapers will try your case before a jury of millions, and when they finish, the argument for the prosecution——”

Doctor Grantley quailed.

“You mean——” he began, in an unsteady voice.

“I mean that public opinion is going to be given an opportunity to try and condemn you, Grantley,” Nick answered evenly. “I know as well as you do that you’re in very little danger of a prison sentence, as things are now, but the greatest punishment of all is available—the universal execration of your fellow men. That is going to be meted out to you and your accomplices, and the result of your showing up will be that laws will be speedily passed to cover such revolting crimes as this. In short, we’re going to ‘break’ you, Grantley. You have no one but yourself to blame, and you will deserve all you get. Incidentally, I might add that I am ransacking the East Side for other evidence against you, in connection with previous offenses of this sort, which I have reason to believe have ended fatally for your victims. The charge I shall make against you to-night will serve to hold you until one of manslaughter can be sustained.”

Patsy Garvan looked at his chief in surprise. It{31} was decidedly unlike Nick to bandy words in this way, or to “rub it in,” either before or after arrest. In the present instance, moreover, his assistant feared that he was making trouble for himself and his companions. He was giving away his hand in a peculiarly reckless fashion, and it was more than possible that Grantley and the others, seeing the pit that yawned for them, might be driven to desperate measures in their desire to escape arrest.

As a matter of fact, that was precisely what Nick desired.

He knew only too well that he was treading in the midst of uncertainties and that his case was lamentably weak, from a strictly legal standpoint. Consequently, he hoped to provoke resistance, because he could count on that to strengthen the sentiment against Grantley and the latter’s followers.

He did not look, though, for anything like the outburst that followed.{32}



Without warning, Doctor Grantley clubbed his weapon and threw himself at Nick Carter.

Taking their cue from him, Siebold and the others sprang forward almost simultaneously.

Grantley was shrewd enough to know that the detectives would not fire upon them if it could possibly be avoided, and, furthermore, that they would be greatly handicapped by their concern for the safety of the unconscious girl.

That was true, for a rough-and-tumble fight there in the operating room would be very dangerous for her, for, if the table were overturned or she was swept from it in the mêlée, the chances were that her exposed heart would be fatally injured.

Nick and his allies did not forget this for a moment, and when they saw the threatening move of their enemies, they rushed forward to meet them, in an effort to carry the fight as far from the operating table as they could.

They reversed their own weapons as they did so, but their little automatics were much lighter than the larger revolver which Grantley had snatched out of the drawer.

Moreover, Doctor Siebold had possessed himself of its mate, which Grantley had dropped when the charge began.

The others were without firearms, but caught up chairs and whatever else they could lay hands on.{33}

The opposing forces met about in the center of the space between the operating table and the door, while the nurse, ignored by both sides, shrank back against the wall, beyond the ghastly form on the table.

Nick had fully realized the odds that would be against them in the event of a clash. He had assumed, however, as he was not dealing with ordinary criminals, but with men who would probably be unarmed, and would have much to lose by an ill-advised attempt at resistance, that three well-armed and determined men could bluff nine into submission.

They had failed in that, and the odds were three to one, for Hoff had arrived a little after the others, armed with a big army revolver.

When the attack began, Hoff forged to the front, pushing the young surgeons to left and right. As a result, he, Doctor Grantley, and the latter’s assistant, all armed, were directly opposed to Nick, Patsy, and Doctor Cooke, while the six young surgeons, taking advantage of the situation, wormed their way past, one by one, and got in the rear of the invading trio.

Things began to look far from promising.

Hoff was bigger than any of those on the other side, and he advanced to the fray with a bellow which suggested that he felt himself in his element.

Doctor Grantley was transformed. His face was distorted with murderous hate, and there was a tigerish quickness about his movements which was unexpected in a man of his age and occupation.

Even Doctor Siebold proved to be a surprise. His agility and reckless ferocity made up for any physical{34} deficiencies, and he fought with a whole-hearted devotion that was worthy of a better cause.

Desperation nerved them all, in fact, to a degree which would have been impossible under other circumstances. Their resistance was utterly unreasonable, since they could hope to gain no real or permanent immunity, no matter how completely they might defeat the three who had seen the fruits of their detestable experiment. They could not hope to stop their mouths for good without actually killing them all, and that way led straight to the electric chair.

Nevertheless, their fears urged them on, and it looked as if nothing short of murder would satisfy them.

The fight was hot, bitter, and merciless.

The detectives and Doctor Cooke acted upon the defensive as much as they could at first, and pressed the others back toward the door into the hall. They wished to get out of the room, if it was possible, before showing what they could really do.

Naturally, their three principal adversaries did their best to prevent this, and for two reasons:

One was that Grantley and his lieutenants wished to block the way toward the open air—although they might have known that the detectives had no thought of retreat—and the other was that they were bent upon keeping Nick’s men as close to the operating table as might be, and thus limiting their activities.

Without the opposition of Hoff, there would have been comparatively little difficulty about gaining the hall, but the German’s bulk and weight formed an effectual barrier.{35}

Grantley and Siebold were driven back against him again and again, but they seemed to rebound from his great frame, and to fling themselves upon the detectives once more with renewed fury.

Blows fell thick and fast. Revolver butts met and struck sparks as they ground together in mid-air, and often they fell with dull, bruising thuds on the flesh of one or another of the combatants, or drew blood from glancing blows on scalps or cheeks.

For some time, however, no one was knocked unconscious.

The blows were too well parried on both sides, for the most part, to bring that about; but the conflict could not go on in that way forever.

Doctor Cooke was the first to go under. He was pressing his advantage over Siebold at the time, forgetful of all else, and was just about to deliver a blow which would have ended Grantley’s assistant for some time to come, but just then Hoff, seeing his chance, brought down the butt of his heavy revolver with crushing force on Cooke’s head.

The young surgeon fell like a stricken ox, and howls of delight went up from his enemies.

Nick, who had not yet succeeded in beating down Grantley’s guard, owing to the confusing attacks from the rear, saw red when he saw his professional ally fall.

He ducked suddenly, got under Grantley’s guard, and pushed his opponent violently backward against the German. The impact took Hoff unawares and caused him to stagger back. In a moment Nick was at him. The detective’s clubbed automatic whistled{36} past Grantley’s head and caught Hoff fairly on the center of the forehead.

The weapon was light, but the trained muscles behind it more than made up for that.

The German caved in at the knees and toppled over backward through the doorway. He blindly grasped Doctor Grantley as the blow fell, and so dragged his employer with him.

Quick to see his advantage, Nick sprang after them, determined to put Grantley out of commission as well. Siebold managed to trip him, however, and, at the same time, one of the other doctors brought a chair down on the back of his head.

The blow might easily have been fatal had Nick been standing erect at the time, but he had already started to pitch forward, thanks to Siebold’s trick.

In spite of that, the whirling chair, which was a heavy one, knocked the detective senseless, and he fell, a dead weight, upon Grantley and Hoff.

The latter was unconscious, but Grantley had been frantically trying to wriggle out of Hoff’s arms when Nick landed on him.

Immediately he turned his attention to the detective, and, from underneath, clamped his long, bony fingers about the helpless detective’s neck and began choking the life out of him.

Patsy Garvan was now the only representative of his side who was still on his feet, and no less than seven enemies ringed him around.

His keen eyes detected his chief’s danger, however, and he started to Nick’s aid at once.

He never knew how he escaped the clutches of his{37} opponents, or kept in the game under the rain of their blows. Nevertheless, he did so, and he not only did that, but also succeeded in driving forward until he was crouching over the pile of prostrate forms in the doorway.

“No you don’t!” he ejaculated, bending over and poking the muzzle of his automatic under Nick and into Grantley’s side. “Let go, or I’ll fire!{38}



Nick’s assistant did not need to be told that his own position was a decidedly unenviable one, despite the momentary advantage he had gained over Doctor Grantley.

Patsy’s back was turned to his seven foes, all of whom were bent upon “getting” him in almost any way they could.

They did not seem disposed to shoot, and that was the only comforting fact that stood out.

The young detective’s threat to fire into Grantley’s body if the vivisectionist did not relinquish his hold on Nick’s throat took the old surgeon’s friends by surprise and flabbergasted them for a few seconds.

One of them had already pounced upon Patsy’s back and was leaning forward, ready to strike Patsy on the back of the head with a heavy paper weight which he had snatched up from the near-by desk.

He paused, however, as did the others. Patsy lost no time in taking advantage of the fact. He squirmed out from under the man, leaving his coat in his enemy’s hands, and scrambled over the heap of bodies in the doorway.

Before the others realized what he was about, he was in the hall, facing them.

He had removed his automatic from Grantley’s ribs while he changed position, but now he thrust it back again.{39}

“Did you hear me down there?” he demanded.

Simultaneously he produced another weapon with his left hand, dug that in turn into Grantley’s side, and, lifting the muzzle of the first automatic, trained it on the foremost of his foes.

He had made a decided change for the better, for he was now in the hall, with his opponents all in front of him, in plain sight, and the length of the three bodies between him and them.

“Keep back there!” he commanded, waving his upraised weapon a little and covering one after another of the crouching surgeons. “I’m just getting warmed up, and I wouldn’t advise you to make any false moves, unless you want to kiss yourselves good-by.”

Grantley had relaxed his throttling hold on Nick’s windpipe at Patsy’s first threat, but had taken a new and more dogged grip, while Nick’s assistant was so unceremoniously making his way over the detective’s unconscious form—and incidentally squeezing the breath out of Grantley himself, who was beneath.

When the muzzle of the automatic prodded him again, however, he let go a second time and lay quite still, contenting himself with cursing Patsy under his breath and calling on his own followers to rescue him.

It looked as if Patsy had turned the tables about as completely as possible.

If the seven, or any of them, tried to rush him, there was little doubt that he would make good his threat and shoot their leader, which he could easily do before any of them could reach him.

And even aside from that, such an attack could hardly be successful, in itself, if the young detective{40} was in earnest about firing into the crowd at the first sign of hostile action.

The nearest of them, Doctor Siebold, was nearly six feet away, beyond the narrow, body-choked doorway. Patsy’s quick-firing automatic could probably speak twice before that space could be covered, especially as the three prostrate forms which occupied most of the distance would make the going very precarious.

Siebold was armed, to be sure, but Patsy’s keen eyes were watching his every movement with lynxlike intentness, and it would have been folly to suppose that Grantley’s assistant could get the drop before such an experienced man hunter.

Still, the situation was trying enough for Patsy, and it demanded so much concentration that it could not be expected to remain unchanged for long.

Nick’s assistant was beginning to wonder when help would come, if at all. Neither he nor Nick had found opportunity as yet to whistle for the police. They had been kept too busy ever since the need had arisen so suddenly, and now it was out of the question.

Even if Patsy had dared to withdraw either weapon in order to use his police whistle—which would have been a risky experiment as things were—the move would have been fruitless, for the whistle was reposing in one of the pockets of the coat which he had shed when he broke away.

There was Adelina, however.

There was a telephone in the next house, and it seemed more than likely that his wife had grown somewhat alarmed before that, over their long absence, and had telephoned for the bluecoats.{41}

Besides, it seemed probable that she had heard the sounds of strife and knew that her friends were meeting with vigorous resistance.

Patsy hoped that she had taken some such action, but he had good reason to know that station houses are a considerable distance apart in that section of the Bronx, and policemen not as numerous as they might be.

That being so, assistance might easily fail to arrive in time to save them from more or less ignominious defeat, if nothing worse.

Patsy was not so much preoccupied, though, that he neglected to offer up a brief prayer—or something very like one—that Adelina might not feel called upon to take a hand herself.

There was nothing she could do, and he did not wish to have her expose herself to unnecessary danger.

The crisis came unexpectedly, but in a manner so simple that Nick’s assistant mentally kicked himself for not foreseeing it.

Doctor Siebold suddenly gave a leap, not toward Patsy but to one side. The act took him out of sight in a moment, so far as the young detective’s range of vision was concerned as he looked in through the door of the operating room.

“Follow me, Chester,” he called, “and you, Graves. We’ll show this fellow a trick or two in half a minute!”

Two of the other doctors instantly followed his example, knowing that a step or two would put them in safety.

In a flash Patsy guessed what the move meant. Al{42}most immediately the sound of an opening door confirmed his suspicions.

He had been too busy, while in the operating room, to notice whether there were any other doors opening in it, aside from the one which communicated with the hall. It was evident now, however, that there was at least one other, between the operating room and the next one to the rear.

Siebold meant to reach the hall by that route and take Patsy in the rear.

The young Irishman would soon be between two fires, and still there was no sign of the police.{43}



Patsy presently heard a door open into the hall from one of the other rooms, and Doctor Siebold’s voice came to him again, this time from behind and to one side.

“Now we’ve got him where we want him!” it said triumphantly.

The young detective did not dare turn his head as he heard footsteps approaching along the hall, for there were still four men in front of him in the operating room, and they were waiting to take advantage of the slightest inattention on his part.

All he could do was to withdraw one of his weapons from Grantley’s side and point it at them, when he swung the other around so that it pointed along the hall, in the direction of Siebold and the others.

He could not aim it, except by ear, but it might have a deterring effort, and if it became necessary to fire it, the shot might take effect by accident.

“I wouldn’t be too sure of myself if I were you, Siebold,” he called, without turning his head.

He put as much confidence into the reply as he could, but he felt little, for he knew that Grantley’s assistant could fire at him if he wished, without giving him the slightest warning.

It all depended on Siebold’s willingness to go that far, and his ability to hit his mark at the first shot.

“Shoot him down, you fools!” screamed Grantley,{44} who had been emboldened by the removal of the muzzle from his ribs. “And a couple of you go next door and get the woman. Go the back way. The street is probably full of gaping idiots, drawn by the explosion. Don’t let them see you.”

The young detective’s heart sank at the words. Adelina was in danger, and he could do nothing to help her.

In a rage, he kicked Grantley in the head and had the satisfaction of hearing a shuddering sigh at his feet. He could not look down, but he felt sure that Grantley was unconscious. The kick had been a powerful one.

The vivisectionist’s brutal advice had its effect, however, and spurred on his reluctant followers. One of those in the operating room leaped aside and made for the door, and Siebold sent one of the two who had accompanied him to join the first and carry out Grantley’s instructions.

The die was cast.

Patsy’s enemies ceased to hang back and content themselves with halfway measures. Their fears were forgotten, and, although most of them probably did not know what was to come of it, their leader’s words inflamed them.

Almost immediately a shot rang out in the narrow hall. Siebold had fired at Nick’s assistant.

The latter stiffened expectantly, involuntarily, but the bullet sang past his head and was embedded in the wall beyond. Siebold had missed.

The weapon in Patsy’s right hand answered at once, and although it was impossible for its owner to see{45} what success it had had, he heard a startled, agonized exclamation, followed by a fall.

He could not be sure of the voice, but he had an unwelcome feeling that it was not Siebold he had hit, but his sole remaining companion.

If that was the case, luck was certainly against him, for Siebold was the only one remaining who had a revolver.

But if Grantley’s assistant was still on his feet—which later proved to be the case—he had no time to fire again, for one of the three men still in the operating room relieved him of that responsibility.

It was Doctor Willard, the man with the reddish hair, who was one of the two whom Cooke had pointed out to Nick.

Just after Patsy had fired at random, and while he was listening for the effect of his shot, Willard swung aloft the heavy chair across the back of which he had been leaning, and let it fly straight at Patsy’s head.

By some strange freak of chance it cleared the narrow doorway and struck its mark fairly and squarely in the chest.

Patsy had seen it coming, but the distance between him and Willard had been too short to allow him to dodge, even if he had wished to abandon his vantage point in front of the door.

He counted on its striking the doorjamb, and, by the time it hurtled through the opening without touching the side, it was too late to guard himself.

Both of his weapons went off as the chair struck him, owing to the unconscious tightening of his fingers on the triggers, but the shots went wild.{46}

The impact was a vicious one.

It knocked the breath completely out of the young detective’s body and flung him violently against the wall of the passage behind him.

Before he could begin to recover himself, half a dozen hands were laid upon him at once and he was borne to the floor. Such resistance as he was able to make was quickly overcome, and he was bound and gagged.

It was a bitter dose, but Patsy took it philosophically, an example of the uncertain fortunes of the business which he followed.

It was characteristic of him that he gave little thought to the plight of himself and his companions, more to the peril of Adelina, and most to the condition of the unfortunate girl whom they had attempted in vain to rescue.

The worst of it was that she would doubtless soon be coming out from under the influence of the anæsthetic, and the agony and unimaginable shock of her condition might easily prove fatal.

Surely, though, his wife had sent for the police by that time and they would arrive soon. If they did, the first thing to be done would be to give the girl more ether and then rush her to a hospital. That was more important even than the capture of those who had cut into her so mercilessly.

But help seemed as far away as ever.

There was a hasty consultation, in which Doctor Siebold took a leading part, and then Patsy was blindfolded and dragged away, after being whirled around{47} several times in order to confuse him and cause him to lose his sense of direction.

Nick, who was exhibiting faint signs of returning consciousness, and Doctor Cooke, who was still dead to the world, were similarly treated.

Patsy tried to keep track of his surroundings, but failed.

He only knew that he was roughly dragged along the hall—in which direction he could not tell—hustled through no less than three doors, and then—after some heavy furniture had been moved, apparently to uncover a trapdoor—was yanked up and down on a rope.

When his captors got through with him, he could not have told, to save his life, whether he was on the same floor as the operating room, the one above it, or the one below it—that is, from anything which his confusing route had told him.

And the only reason he was inclined to believe that he was in the cellar was that the air had a musty, subterranean smell.

Two other prisoners—Nick and the young surgeon, beyond a doubt—were soon dumped in on top of him.

Evidently their prison was very small, and the closeness of the air suggested that it had long been closed up.

Perhaps ten minutes later a fourth prisoner was unceremoniously added to the growing heap, but the additional weight was not great. Patsy’s instincts told him that Adelina was probably the latest arrival.

The thought gave him a sickening sensation.

If his young wife had been seized, no one was left{48} on the outside with anything like a definite knowledge of their whereabouts.

To be sure, Nick’s other assistants knew the situation in a general way, but they were not aware that an attempt to force Doctor Grantley’s hand was to have been made that night. Nick had not been sure that he would act until the last moment.

They would doubtless take steps, sooner or later, to learn what had happened, but, in the meantime, unless Adelina had called up the police before her capture, almost anything might happen.

Grantley had unmistakably revealed his vindictiveness and willingness to go to any length. When he was himself again, therefore, his influence would be in the highest degree antagonistic, rather than otherwise.

That was doubtless what Siebold and the rest were waiting for—to get orders from Grantley for the final disposal of their enemies.

But Patsy was to experience still another shock.

Almost immediately after the fourth prisoner had been thrown upon the indiscriminate heap, a fifth form was added to it.

For perhaps half a minute Patsy puzzled over the identity of this latest arrival; then, in a flash, he guessed the harrowing truth.

It must be the Jewish girl, the vivisectionist’s victim; and she had almost certainly been brought there—unquestionably more dead than alive—to get her out of the way in case the bluecoats should search the house.{49}



That conviction made Patsy cringe more than ever.

Had they done anything to relieve the girl’s sufferings or close the gaping wound they had made in her breast?

Or had they thrown her in there just as she was, to die?

Again the young detective’s speculations were interrupted, however; this time in a different, and, at first, more puzzling way.

The air suddenly became still closer and more oppressive, as if they had been shut in a confined space; but that was not all.

The sound of shoveling began at once, and lumps of something hard struck and rolled, with a hollow sound, just above Patsy’s head.

What was happening?

Nick’s assistant did not take long to penetrate the mystery, although he had only his ears to aid him.

He concluded that a wooden cover had been placed over their place of confinement, and that coal was being shoveled in on top of it. They were probably in an old coal bin, he reasoned, with a false bottom, and when the space above was filled, there would be nothing to indicate that the whole bin was not full of coal.

It was a clever arrangement—altogether too clever for comfort. Nick and his assistants had encountered its like more than once, and it could not have deceived{50} them for long; it might easily prove too much for the police, however, even if they made an investigation.

Nick’s other assistants could be counted on to solve the problem when they finally obtained access to the house—if they could—but it would probably be too late then. Much too late, in fact.

The hole into which the prisoners had been thrown could hardly be more than eight feet square, if that much, and it was not likely that it was more than four feet deep.

It was closed at the top now, and the sides were doubtless fairly tight, in order that no cracks of any size should reveal the hollow space behind.

That meant an appallingly small number of cubic feet of air—and bad air at that—for five people to breathe, assuming that the young Jewess was not yet dead.

As Patsy analyzed his sensations, he became aware of a peculiar and sinister odor, which pervaded the place. For some time he could not identify it, but at length, with a start of horror, he realized its nature.

There was no doubt about it in his mind now, or about the criminality of their captors.

For the odor was that of lime, mingled with a faint stench of decaying animal matter.

That was the way that Patsy put it to himself, at any rate, but he more than suspected that the “animal matter” had been human flesh.

In other words, he was convinced that the place where they had been thrown had previously been used for the purpose of destroying the bodies of previous victims of the vivisectionists. The bodies had appar{51}ently been thrown into the old bin and covered with quicklime, which had afterward been removed.

There was only a little fine dust on the concrete floor of the bin now, as Patsy easily ascertained with his bound hands. It must either be lime or coal dust, perhaps a combination of the two; for the young detective had felt the latter sifting down through the cracks above his head as the coal was shoveled over the false bottom.

He could not resist a shudder as he came to this ghastly conclusion. He and his friends were in a veritable charnel house, and if Doctor Grantley had his way, there was little doubt but that quicklime would be heaped over their dead bodies—perhaps over their living ones—before long.

Something must be done, if possible. But what?

Whatever it was to be, it looked as if Patsy must attempt it unaided. Some one else was moving—some one whose body lay partly over Patsy’s. The latter believed it was his chief, but he could not be sure. Moreover, even if it was Nick, Patsy had been in full possession of his senses throughout, and was therefore in a better position to go ahead.

He wished he could communicate with Nick and get the benefit of the great detective’s advice, but that was out of the question—for the time being, at least.

Patsy was quite used to going ahead alone and relying upon his own keen wits. He did so now.

His first thought concerned his bonds themselves. Could he wriggle out of them?

His captors were not experienced criminals of the ordinary sort. Perhaps they had failed to tie him se{52}curely. Certainly they had shown their ignorance by binding his hands in front of him instead of behind.

He went to work at once, slipping his wrists back and forth and making his hands as small as possible in an effort to draw them out of the loops of rope.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that he had doubled his fists and made his wrists as large as possible while the ropes were being fastened, he found it impossible to free his hands. The knots did not give to any appreciable extent, and it was obvious that they had been tied with greater skill than Patsy had supposed.

Nick’s assistant next tried his teeth on them. This would have been out of the question if his hands had been secured behind his back, but, fortunately, they were not.

His teeth were sharp and strong, and had often been put to a similar use. It was tedious work at best, but gradually one strand after another was gnawed away.

Victory was in sight, when, to his supreme disgust, his teeth encountered something hard. He ran his tongue investigatingly over the place. The rope had a core of strong, flexible wire.

Patsy’s teeth, efficient as they were, were powerless against such an obstacle. This setback would have discouraged ninety-nine out of a hundred detectives, to say nothing of other men, but the young Irishman was not daunted.

He put his brain to work again, with the result that, after a few moments of hard thinking, he twisted his fettered hands about until the fingers of one of them could fish into the inside breast pocket of his coat.

Siebold had disarmed him, but he had not made a{53} general search of Patsy’s pockets; consequently Nick’s assistant was still in possession of his pocket kit of folding burglars’ tools.

He drew it out, opened it awkwardly, and felt about until he located the desired article, a thin file.

The combined weight of more than one of his companions in misfortune held down his legs, but the upper part of his body was free, and one shoulder was against one of the wooden walls of the bin.

Holding the file, Patsy raised his hands and felt about for a crack. He found a small one at once, a few inches above his head. In this he pushed the handle end of the file.

He was ready for work.

He put one hand on one side of the file and the other hand on the other side, to prevent the tool from slipping away from him as he pressed against it. That done, he began to draw the exposed wire to and fro over the file.

The sound could not be muffled, but it was slight. In any case, it was not likely to bring disaster, for Patsy felt sure that the cellar had been vacated by their captors after the coal was thrown into place.

He kept his ears open for sounds of approach, however, and went at his task with a will. The wire was not more than an eighth of an inch in diameter, and was soon filed through.

That did not mean release, however, and Nick’s assistant kept on sawing away at the rope itself until it frayed out and gave access to another core of wire.

That, too, was severed in the course of time, and, after a few jerks, the ropes on Patsy’s wrists fell away.{54}

His hands were free, and with them once more fully at his command, he made short work of his gag.

“Chief!” he whispered cautiously, “I’m loose—partly—and I’m going to make a stab at getting you out of here. Are you all right?”

There came a muffled sound in reply to Patsy’s question.{55}



A pair of hands groped toward the spot from which the sound had come, found Patsy’s arm, and gave it a reassuring pressure.

Nick Carter had answered as well as he was able at the moment.

“Good!” murmured Patsy. “I’ll have you loose in two shakes.”

He felt along Nick’s arms in turn until he came to his chief’s face. Nick’s gag came in for attention first and was quickly removed.

“There now,” Patsy remarked, in the same low tone. “This is a little more like it.”

He had a knife out now, but his fingers proved to be better able to cope with the rope with the wire core, now that he could use them freely. He went at Nick’s wrists first, leaving his own ankles bound and weighed down as they were.

“Where are we? Have you any idea?” Nick asked eagerly. “I have only the vaguest impressions of being dragged and suspended and dumped and a few other things—including something which sounded as if we had been buried alive and they were throwing the dirt over our coffin.”

“You’re not so far off about that as you may think,” his assistant replied.

Patsy then went on to tell his chief what he knew and suspected. A few crisp words were sufficient, and{56} after that he explained what he thought would be the best move for them to make.

Nick approved the plan. Neither of them wasted any time in outlining their course of action after they should get out of the bin. That must take care of itself, and would naturally be governed by circumstances.

Nick’s bonds were soon entirely removed, and the detective turned his attention to the others, while Patsy removed the dead weight from his own legs and attacked the ropes which bound his ankles.

Nick’s little pocket flash lamp had not been taken away from him. It was now brought into use, since there was apparently no one in the cellar to see its light.

The sight which it revealed was a most painful one, through the chinks of the bin.

Doctor Cooke was still unconscious. At first glance it seemed that he must be dead, but the detective quickly ascertained, with an exclamation of relief, that the young surgeon’s heart was beating strongly.

Reassured by this, Nick threw the light upon Adelina Garvan. Patsy was entirely free by that time and pressed forward anxiously. His wife was conscious and seemingly unhurt, although she had been bound like the rest.

“Is it all right, dear?” her young husband asked eagerly.

She gave a nod.

“Then the chief will cut you loose. Unfortunately, I have other fish to fry.”

“Yes, you had better get busy,” Nick agreed. “It{57} will save time if I attend to Adelina while you’re trying to force your way out.”

“By the way, did you send for any ‘brass buttons’?” Patsy asked his wife suddenly.

This time she shook her head, and a look of distress came into her expressive dark eyes.

Her husband bent suddenly and extracted the gag from her mouth.

“Why not?” he inquired gently, striving to conceal his disappointment.

“I—I thought you would whistle if you wanted me to,” Adelina replied apologetically. “It didn’t seem possible that they could down all three of you without giving you a chance to signal to me, and I was afraid of ‘gumming things up,’ as you call it. Just before they seized me, though, the police were coming—to investigate the explosion, I suppose. But I didn’t have any chance to call out—I was so taken by surprise. They came in the back way and I thought it was you and the chief.”

“Never mind, little woman!” Nick spoke up consolingly. “You couldn’t help it. Get to work, Patsy. We haven’t any time to lose. It isn’t likely, under the circumstances, that the police will search Grantley’s house, and there’s no knowing how soon those scoundrels may come for us again.”

Patsy waited, however, until Nick had flashed the light on the other figure. The suspense was painful.

Yes, as he had suspected, the fifth occupant of the bin was the Jewish girl. The sheet which had partially covered her on the operating table had been wrapped about her.{58}

Her bare feet and shoulders protruded from it and were as white as the muslin itself. She lay in a position which suggested that she did not have a bone in her body, so strangely twisted was it.

The detective bent forward reluctantly and drew down the sheet. He felt it necessary—after ascertaining that she was still breathing faintly—to see in what condition her wound had been left.

Her heart had evidently been replaced, for a bandage, tightly drawn, had been wrapped about her body under the arms.

It was stained with blood, and there was little doubt that the terrible opening had not been sewn up at all. The bandage was merely a temporary one, resorted to for the sake of keeping her alive, if possible, until Grantley should determine what was to be done with her and the others.

The vivisectionists’ victim was still alive, and that was about all that could be said. Patsy had seen enough. He left Nick to care for her and Adelina, and turned his attention to the walls of their strange prison.

Their place of confinement was even smaller than he had supposed, and the air was already stifling, and it was being breathed much faster than it could possibly be renewed through the tiny cracks between the boards.

Patsy’s head was already beginning to feel as if there was an iron band around it, which was being drawn tighter and tighter. The memory of the girl’s deathly pallor and the bloodstained bandage sickened him, under the circumstances, to an unaccustomed extent.

Patsy selected a collapsible jimmy from his set of tools. This he pushed out to its fullest length, then,{59} armed with it, he attacked the boards at one side of the bin.

He preferred to make his attempt there, rather than in front, because, if he made any headway, their enemies would not be so likely to see what was going on as soon as they set foot again in the cellar.

Before doing so, however, he had cautiously tapped on the side chosen, and produced a hollow sound, which told him that there were no obstructions on the other side of the plank wall—none, at least, which were immediately in contact with the boards.

His little tool, a slender rod of iron, not much more than a foot in length, seemed inadequate. Patsy knew what it could do, though, and just how to use it to the best advantage.

In his skilled hands it immediately began to bring results which seemed out of all proportion to their cause. The heavy planks, a good two inches thick, laid close together and fastened with big wire nails, started to give at once when the flattened end of the jimmy was inserted in the cracks and the tool used as a miniature crowbar.

The wire nails screeched with startling loudness as they were drawn out of the wood of the stout uprights, but that could not be avoided. Patsy worked as cautiously and slowly as the circumstances seemed to justify, and for the rest he could only hope that the occupants of the house were too far away to hear the noises he was obliged to make.

Apparently, they did not, for there was no sign of approach as yet. Soon one of the planks, about eight{60} or ten inches wide, was pried loose sufficiently to allow it to be drawn into the bin, out of sight.

Nick, who had released Adelina and cut the ropes from the still unconscious physician, helped his assistant in this. They took care not to drop the board, and as soon as it was deposited on the concrete floor of the bin, Nick took the jimmy and attacked the next one above it.

The hole was already large enough to allow one of them to wriggle through, and Patsy, at his chief’s suggestion, took advantage of that fact.

The plan was that Patsy should secretly escape from the house, if possible, through one of the cellar windows, taking Adelina with him. He could then summon help and return.

It would have greatly increased their difficulties to have tried to remove the mutilated girl at that time—aside from the probability that such an attempt, without proper conveniences, would kill her outright.

As for Doctor Cooke, he was coming to under Adelina’s ministrations, but it would be some time before he was on his feet again and able to cope with the difficulties involved.

Consequently, Nick decided to remain where he was and guard his two charges as well as he could, in the absence of weapons, while Patsy and Adelina sought a way out. Moreover, while he was waiting for the result of the sally, he meant to enlarge the opening, in order that the girl could be removed as soon as the way was cleared for the summoning of an ambulance.

Adelina wished to stay, but Nick made her see that{61} that was useless. She accordingly followed Patsy through the narrow space between the boards.

They found themselves in another coal bin—an honest one this time. There was a ton or so of coal in it, but it sloped up toward the opposite wall and the back in such a way that it did not interfere with their escape.

They proceeded very cautiously, nevertheless, for there was a little coal underfoot and it had a tendency to roll under their feet and set the main mass to sliding.

They gained the front of the bin without making much noise, and Patsy climbed over. He was just in the act of helping his wife to do likewise, when their hearts stopped for a moment.

They heard footsteps over their heads, followed by the opening of a door.

Immediately afterward came voices, distinctly audible, and the creak of stairs close at hand.

The cellar was being entered again—and by their foes.{62}



The shock benumbed Patsy’s faculties only for a moment.

He gave Adelina’s waist a warning squeeze, then lifted her over with a rush, set her lightly and silently on her feet, and dragged her to one side.

He made no attempt to warn Nick, for he knew that his chief’s keen ears had already done that for him.

Next to the bin from which they had just emerged was a space not partitioned off, which contained several barrels and boxes. It was nearer to the stairway than the bins, but Patsy instantly decided that they could hide behind the barrels before there was much chance of their being seen, and they were the nearest shelter, anyway.

The foremost figure on the stairs was evidently carrying a candle, for the light which shone on the steps was dim and flickering. The feet of two men were now in sight, but the upper parts of their bodies were still hidden, when Patsy and Adelina dodged behind the nearest of the friendly barrels.

Another advantage of their position was that they would be between their enemies and the stairs when the crisis came, as it was almost certain to do.

They crouched down in their dusty, stale-smelling retreat and waited with bated breaths.

“This is an awful thing that you are planning to do, Doctor Grantley,” said a voice, which Patsy rec{63}ognized as that of the assistant, Siebold. “It isn’t the mere taking of lives that I’m thinking about now. That has come to mean comparatively little to us, although we have never murdered anybody in cold blood, for the sake of murder, or any personal reason. We’ve experimented on plenty of people, though, knowing that there wasn’t one chance of recovery in a hundred; and there isn’t so very much difference between that and downright murder. But think what this means—think of Nick Carter’s fame and the rumpus his disappearance will cause! We’ve made a clean sweep next door, but he must have other associates, who will know why he was living up here. They’ll put the police wise, and between them they’ll make short work of arresting us and turning this house inside out.”

While Doctor Siebold had been speaking, he and his companions—for it turned out that there were two of them—had passed Patsy’s hiding place and paused in front of the trick bin.

“Well, let them!” Grantley answered, in a voice that was thick and harsh with rage. “Nobody—I don’t care who—can stick his nose into my affairs and try to make me out a criminal just because I choose to risk a few worthless lives. This confounded Carter couldn’t prove anything, but he and that fool, Cooke, could have me hounded from pillar to post. My work is far too important to permit it to be interfered with by any such meddlesome blunderers. They must take the consequences. As for there being any ‘comeback,’ that is out of the question. At any rate, I’m willing to take the risk, and I pay you fellows to do the same. We’re all in it, and we must hang together. If you{64} balk, either you or Hoff, here, you’ll go the same way. I give you fair warning. They can arrest us if they want to, but they’ll find nothing to convict us—I promise you that. There are several carboys of that new acid of ours upstairs. After we have given them a bath in that there won’t be a trace of any of them left. And when we get through with it, we can pour it down a drain. Fortunately, it hasn’t any odor to speak of, and no one will ever know the difference. Then we can clean everything up here in the cellar and elsewhere, and sit tight. The police have been sent away none the wiser, and it isn’t likely that they’ll bother us again to-night. Everything will be quiet until Carter’s friends begin to get uneasy, and when that happens, we’ll be prepared for anything. Get to work, Hoff, and open that door!”

Patsy was at a loss to understand what door was meant, but he had no doubt that his chief was in danger of discovery. Therefore, he leaned over until his lips touched Adelina’s ears.

“Wait until I give them something to think about,” he breathed, “and then slip upstairs. I think the others have gone. Go next door and telephone.”

His wife nodded silently. Patsy might be mistaken about the other doctors. It was more than possible that she would run into them before she could get out of the house. Nevertheless, she was game.

They heard the jingling of keys, and then a rasping, as of a padlock being removed. Following that came the creaking of rusty hinges.

They could not see what was going on. If they had been able to, they would have been greatly surprised,{65} for the two lower boards at the front of the bin in which they had been confined formed a rude door, which was being opened outward by Hoff.

Patsy had not investigated the front of the bin, having preferred to force his way out at one side. Even if he had discovered evidences of the door, however, the padlock on the outside would have prevented him from taking advantage of the fact.

Incidentally, this padlock, being in plain sight from the outside, showed that there had been no attempt to conceal the existence of the door.

Obviously, those responsible for its presence had assumed that, in the case of a possible search of the premises, it would be accounted for on the theory that it was used to facilitate the removal of coal from underneath.

Patsy was somewhat mystified by the turn affairs had taken, and could not understand how the door alluded to by Grantley could give the rascals access to his friends. Nevertheless, his instinct told him that such must be the case.

He felt in the barrel behind which he was hiding. Luckily it was nearly full of odds and ends of junk, including several pieces of old iron, evidently parts of a kitchen range.

Patsy seized upon one of these fragments. It must have been part of the top of the stove, along the edge, for it included one straight side about fifteen inches long and parts of two stove holes, with jagged edges between.

It was likely to prove a formidable weapon in Patsy’s hands.{66}

The young detective lost no time in pulling it out of the barrel. He was obliged to make a noise in so doing, but the time for care had passed. It was haste that was demanded at that stage, for he wished to attract the attention of the trio, and thereby cover emergence from the bin, as well as Adelina’s flight.

“What was that?” demanded Grantley.

The words had barely left the vivisectionist’s lips before Patsy burst from the shadows and ran forward with his rude weapon uplifted.

“You know me all right, gentlemen!” he called, with a grin of defiance.

“In the fiend’s name!” ejaculated Grantley, starting back. “How did——”

As he advanced, Patsy swept the scene with a quick glance. He saw that the front of the fake bin gaped open and that Hoff was just in the act of straightening up, with one hand still on the little door.

If Hoff had already seen anything out of the way inside, though, he had had no time to communicate the fact to his companions.

Nick’s assistant had taken all three of them completely by surprise, and it was obvious that they were either unarmed or too dumfounded to draw their weapons. It was quite possible that the former was the case, for they could not have foreseen any need for firearms in handling the prisoners whom they had bound so securely.

At any rate, Patsy was already within arm’s reach of Grantley, who was the nearest of the trio.

The surgeon was far from a coward, but in the face of this unexpected onslaught he could only back to{67}ward his allies. His manner was still dazed, and his eyes were fastened unwinkingly on Patsy, in the manner of a fascinated squirrel under the spell of a boa constrictor.

It was not until the strange weapon was actually descending that he recovered his presence of mind enough to dodge—or try to do so.

He succeeded only partially, however. The piece of iron missed his head by a fraction of an inch, but descended with numbing force on the muscles of his right shoulder.

Hoff had tried to protect him, but the German’s interference came a little too late to be very effective. He thrust his staggering employer aside, however, and jumped at Patsy before the latter could recover for another blow.

Patsy gave back a step or two and thus came close to the front of the coal bin, that adjoined the one with the false bottom.

The German was larger and much more fully muscled than the young detective. It looked as if the latter was pitted against more than his match. But Patsy was not daunted in the least. He was chiefly concerned just then with the hope that his wife would not delay her attempt to escape and that Nick would be able to crawl out of the hole before he was discovered.

“Ach! So?” snarled Hoff. “Ve shall see!”

He caught Patsy’s upraised wrist in a powerful grip and one of his big arms went around the young man’s waist. Patsy felt himself being bent backward from the hips in a way that was far from agreeable.

Despite Hoff’s hold, he managed to toss the piece of{68} iron into the coal bin. It was only in his way now, but he did not care to drop it where one of his enemies could possess himself of it without any trouble.

As soon as he was relieved of this encumbrance, he began to do his best to break Hoff’s hold. He was master of hundreds of tricks of ordinary wrestling and jujutsu. Moreover, his suppleness and rapidity of motion went no little way to offset Hoff’s brute strength and ponderous bulk.

The result, for the time being, was something surprisingly like a draw.

The German pinned his lighter antagonist against the front of the bin of coal, but Patsy’s lithe wrigglings prevented him from bringing the struggle to a conclusion.

As for Grantley and Siebold, they made no attempt to take a hand, on the assumption that Hoff ought to be able to handle Patsy alone.

They were too much interested in the struggle, however, to realize the full significance of Patsy’s escape from captivity, or to look into the hole to see if any of their other prisoners had escaped.

There was a gas jet close to Siebold, which he had lighted with the aid of the candle as soon as Hoff had engaged Patsy. The gas was turned low, to keep it from attracting attention on the outside, but it illuminated the cellar sufficiently for them to see a skulking form beyond the combatants—a skirted form, that was creeping stealthily toward the stairs.

Doctor Siebold discovered it first and seized Grantley’s arm.{69}

“Look there!” he cried, in alarm. “Another is loose—the girl!”

It was indeed Adelina whom he had seen, and she had heard the exclamation. It warned her that no time was to be lost.

She broke into a run, while Patsy ground his teeth at the mishap which had revealed her, and Siebold sprang forward, in pursuit.

The chase was arrested the next moment, however, in a startling way.

“Look out!” shouted Grantley.

His tone was peremptory and shrill with excited warning.

Siebold paused abruptly and turned his head. Grantley was not looking after the scurrying girl at all, but at the bin, just above the heads of the struggling men.

A head and a pair of upraised arms, with something grasped threateningly with both hands, had suddenly appeared there, the rest of the body being hidden by the boards which formed the front of the coal bin.

“Hoff!” cried Siebold.

But his warning was too late. A heavy shovel whistled through the air and descended with a sickening thud on the German’s head.{70}



It was Nick Carter who had come to his assistant’s rescue—and, incidentally, had taken a hand just in time to halt Siebold in the latter’s pursuit of Adelina.

Contrary to Patsy’s expectations, the detective had chosen to crawl through the opening into the next bin, instead of through the little door which Hoff had opened at the front.

Grantley and Siebold were too near the latter to make it a safe exit, for Nick would have had to crawl out on his hands and knees, and they would have been practically certain to see him before he could get into a position to defend himself to advantage.

By creeping into the other bin, however, as Patsy had done, he was enabled to remain under cover until he was ready to make his presence known.

Moreover, he had found there the shovel which had been used to throw the coal over the false bottom of the trick bin, and with this as a weapon he had decided to terminate the struggle between his assistant and the servant.

There was no doubt about his success.

The handle of the shovel narrowly missed Patsy’s head, but Nick knew what he was about. The heavy metal scoop landed fairly on Hoff’s cranium, and the German crumpled up in the arms of the astonished assistant, who let the body of his antagonist drop to the floor.{71}

An instant later Nick was vaulting over the barrier.

The young Irishman picked up the shovel. He did not wait for his chief to alight, nor did he apparently pay any attention to Adelina, whose feet were pattering on the stairs by that time. It was enough for him to hear them and to know that he could now prevent her from being followed.

He singled out Doctor Siebold and sprang at him, whirling the big shovel aloft as he did so, and leaving Nick to attend to Grantley. He knew that the detective would prefer to deal with the ringleader himself.

Siebold was unarmed, and a hasty, panic-stricken survey of his surroundings failed to reveal anything in the nature of a weapon within reach.

Suddenly, however, he leaped toward the gas jet and turned the thumbscrew. Immediately the cellar was plunged in darkness, except for a faint light, which filtered down the distant stairs from the lighted hallway above.

Nick’s assistant had read Siebold’s purpose, but he was too far away to thwart it. He dropped the shovel, however, as soon as the light went out, and flung himself toward the place where Siebold had been standing.

His outstretched arms encountered empty air and then the rough, whitewashed wall, to which the gas bracket was fastened. But his keen ears caught a noise just to the right. He knew in a second that Siebold had dodged in that direction and could not be more than a foot or two away.

Sheering off from the wall, he plunged recklessly in pursuit, leaning as far forward as he dared, every sense{72} on the alert to catch the slightest hint of Siebold’s movements.

It was evident at once that the assistant surgeon had made a foolish blunder. If he had dodged to Patsy’s left, instead of his right, the young detective would have necessarily been between him and the light on the stairs. As it was, though, he was between Patsy and the light, and his antagonist saw his form dimly outlined as Siebold took another tack.

Patsy’s eyes had not yet accustomed themselves to the changed conditions, but they were in much better shape to see what was going on than the average person’s would have been under like circumstances. Consequently, he made out as much as was necessary, and instantly changed his own course.

Simultaneously, he bounded forward with added confidence and impetuosity. The result was that he grasped Siebold’s coat almost immediately.

The young surgeon tried to wriggle out of the garment, but before he could free himself, Patsy had grasped both of his arms and brought him to a halt.

Siebold was at a disadvantage because he was half out of and half in his coat, and, consequently, his resistance was not what it might have been otherwise.

He fought desperately, in a frenzy of fear, while curse after curse passed his writhing lips. But Patsy hung on with comparative ease.

Gradually the young doctor’s wrists were brought together behind his back. Then, to make sure that Siebold would not break away while one of his captor’s hands was temporarily withdrawn, Patsy de{73}liberately tripped him and fell as heavily as he could on top.

While Siebold was gasping for breath to replace that which the unexpected fall had knocked out of him, Nick’s assistant reached into his pocket, produced a pair of handcuffs, and snapped them into place.

Siebold was not likely to give further trouble just then. In fact, Patsy intimated as much to his captive, and added:

“So just lie there and think it over while I throw some light on this business again.”

He had scarcely regained his feet before there was a clatter and the sound of a heavy fall. An exclamation accompanied it, which told Patsy that it was his chief who had gone down. Besides, there could be little doubt that it was the shovel which had tripped his chief, while the latter was scouting about in the darkness on Grantley’s trail.

He had dropped the shovel near the gas fixture, so that the sound now helped to guide him toward his objective point. He did not speak to Nick, however, for he was afraid, if the latter answered, that the sound of his voice would help Grantley to locate him, in case the scoundrelly surgeon was game enough to pounce upon his discomfited enemy instead of taking that opportunity to steal away.

Patsy’s thoughtful precaution was useless. Before he could reach his fallen chief, or the detective could scramble to his feet, Grantley had turned back and leaped upon Carter with all the fury of desperation and murderous resolve.

Nick had been expecting that move on the part of{74} the vivisectionist, and listening for it. He was still on his knees, but he had laid hold of the shovel to keep it out of Grantley’s hands.

The surgeon’s impetuous rush caused him almost to fall over the detective’s arched body. He came from one side, at an angle, and the impact threw Nick over again. His side struck one of the sharp edges of the shovel, which he had not been able to get out of the way.

An involuntary exclamation escaped him as a pain stabbed him through and through. His grip on the handle of the shovel relaxed for a moment. The next instant Grantley’s groping hands had found it and jerked it from under him.

“Now, curse you,” the surgeon cried, “we’ll see how you like your own medicine!”

Again the shovel was upraised, this time over Nick’s own head.

The detective forgot his aching side. Grantley’s knees were gripping his legs, as they might have gripped the side of a horse, but the vivisectionist had been compelled to use both hands to swing the shovel upward.

With surprising ease, Nick flung the upper part of his body around until his head and shoulders were close to Grantley’s left knee.

As he did so, the ponderous weapon descended. Its target had shifted, however, and the shovel rang against the concrete floor with a force that stung Grantley’s hands.

At the same instant the detective’s arms reached up and shot around his waist—and the darkness fled.{75}

The struggle had been taking place directly between Patsy and the gas jet, with the result that Nick’s assistant had halted uncertainly and peered forward for a few seconds. He did not hesitate long, though, for it suddenly occurred to him that his flash lamp had probably been left undisturbed, as the burglar tools had been.

He was right, and it was the work of an instant only to find the electric torch and turn its rays upon the combatants. His first glance reassured him, for he saw that his chief had managed to twist himself in a position which made it impossible for Grantley to use the shovel successfully.

Instinctively Patsy’s eyes traveled from them to the fallen German. The latter was seemingly as unconscious as ever.

“Shall I finish him, chief?” the young detective asked eagerly, turning back again.

He knew that Nick had been knocked out pretty thoroughly, and saw no good reason for prolonging the fight; as a matter of fact, however, he had little hope that Nick would allow him to interfere.

“You might choke him off for me,” the detective said, with a wry face.

Evidently his side was troubling him more than he would have cared to confess.

Patsy needed nothing more. He laid down his flash lamp—which was so made that it did not require a continuous pressure on the button to remain lighted—and jumped into the fray.

His fingers went around Grantley’s neck and he jerked the surgeon backward until Nick was freed.{76} Grantley struggled for all he was worth, but the grip on his throat did not relax. His face grew purple and congested, his tongue hung out of his slavering jaws, and still Patsy maintained that terrible hold.

Gradually the vivisectionist’s struggles became weaker and weaker, but it was not until Nick had handcuffed him that Patsy’s grip was loosened.

As soon as he had tossed the gasping and almost unconscious man aside, Patsy made for Hoff, with the intention of securing him before he should come to and give any more trouble.

He halted on the way, however, amazed to find Doctor Cooke in his path. Nick’s friend had slowly regained his senses, and, finding himself free, had crawled out of his prison house as soon as he felt it safe to do so.

He and Patsy exchanged a few hurried words, after which the latter started upstairs, to satisfy himself that all was well with Adelina.

He met her returning to the Grantley house, and learned from her that she had telephoned to the police and the nearest hospital. An ambulance and a patrol wagon, full of reserves, soon arrived. There was no longer any need of the latter, but the ambulance was very welcome.

The Jewish girl—whose name was subsequently found to be Alma Baum—was tenderly removed from the cellar and carried to the hospital, where she ultimately recovered from her terrible experience.

Grantley’s skill had made a bungling job impossible, despite the highly dangerous nature of the inexcusable operation which had been performed upon her.{77}

Alma owes her life to Nick Carter twice over, as a matter of fact, for the detective was not only instrumental in halting the operation and rushing her to the hospital at the earliest possible moment, but also furnished the money which enabled her, later on, to go to the Adirondacks, where she made a complete recovery from her lung trouble.

Grantley, Siebold, and Hoff were locked up that night. The six young physicians who had been Grantley’s disciples had left the house before the climax, after the flesh wound which Patsy had inflicted on one of them had been dressed. The nurse had taken “French leave” as soon as her employer and his two companions started for the cellar. All of them were rounded up, however, despite the difficulties involved.

Nick was usually opposed to newspaper sensations, but in this instance he encouraged the newspapers to make as much as they could of the arrests and the shocking practices which had led up to them.{78}



“You say that Doctor Hiram Grantley has offered his services to J. Hackley Baldwin? What do you mean?”

These two startled questions were put by Nick Carter to a handsome, impressive-looking man of the most polished professional aspect.

The scene of the interview was the detective’s study, and the gray-haired man in eyeglasses, with whom he was closeted, was Doctor Delos Vanderpool, physician to many of the most exclusive families in the city, and, more particularly, the family practitioner of J. Hackley Baldwin, the blind multimillionaire.

“I mean exactly what I say, Mr. Carter,” Doctor Vanderpool replied gravely. “There is no room for mistake, unfortunately. Grantley, the surgeon who has been shown up so completely—thanks to you—in connection with his reckless and shocking experiments on living human beings, has had the effrontery to approach Mr. Baldwin and offer to perform an operation on his eyes.”

The detective’s attitude relaxed as a result of this explanation. He knew as well as anybody that the powerful millionaire had been totally blind for years, and had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and submitted to numerous operations in vain, in an attempt to recover his sight.

“Well, what of it?” he asked quietly. “I am sur{79}prised that Grantley should have aimed so high, after all the undesirable publicity of his recent trial; but he cannot operate on Mr. Baldwin without his consent, and surely there is not the slightest likelihood that that will be granted.”

“That is just the trouble,” the physician responded, with a worried look in his eyes.

“You mean that Mr. Baldwin is actually considering the fellow’s offer?” Nick queried, in surprise.

Vanderpool nodded reluctantly.

“I am sorry to say he is,” he answered. “More than that, he seems determined to place himself in Grantley’s hands. Nothing I have been able to say appears to have shaken his resolve in the smallest degree.”

Carter whistled.

“Doesn’t he know what Hiram Grantley is?” he demanded.

“Mr. Baldwin keeps in touch, through his secretaries, with everything of importance that goes on in the world,” was the reply. “He claims to have followed Grantley’s trial very closely. Moreover, I have taken it upon myself to speak very plainly to him. As a matter of fact, though, he knows a great deal more about Grantley than I do. He has caused the most minute inquiries into the man’s professional record to be made, and, as a consequence, he has discovered that Grantley has had remarkable success as an eye surgeon in many cases. Not only that, but Grantley himself seems to have made a great impression on Mr. Baldwin by the confident way in which he has stated his qualifications and declared his belief that he could re{80}store the financier’s sight. Now, Mr. Carter, there is no doubt, of course, that Hiram Grantley has been one of the ablest surgeons in America, if not in the world. Strictly speaking, there is nothing to be said against his qualifications, and a great deal to be said for them. But the man has been under suspicion for years, and is thoroughly discredited now. His scientific zeal and ruthless disregard of life have carried him beyond all bounds and made him no better than a murderer in the eyes even of his brother surgeons. You caught him red-handed, and although twelve fools in a jury room saw fit to disagree over his guilt, he stands condemned to-day before the world’s bar of judgment. Shall such a man be permitted to do as he pleases with one of the most precious lives in the country? And, aside from his unsavory record, he has violated professional ethics in the most serious way by making an unsolicited offer of that sort. What is behind it? That is what is worrying me chiefly, however. Is it based on actual confidence in his ability to cure Mr. Baldwin’s blindness, and designed to restore Baldwin himself to popular favor; or is it not possible that there is a secret and sinister motive in the background, which threatens Mr. Baldwin with injury or death? You can see now why I have come to you.”

Nick Carter remained silent for perhaps a minute, thoughtfully studying the blotter on his desk.

“How far has it gone?” he inquired presently. “Has the date of the operation been set?”

“Yes, the day after to-morrow, at ten a. m.”

“And the place?”

Doctor Vanderpool made a wry face.{81}

“Grantley’s residence and ‘private hospital’ in the Bronx—the scene of your raid,” he said.

“Baldwin is evidently willing to take chances in order to recover his sight,” the detective said musingly, after another brief pause. “As you say, it is quite possible, theoretically at least, that Grantley has sufficient skill to do what the others have failed to do. He has certainly performed many surgical miracles. This seems to be another instance of a drowning man grasping at a straw. In his anxiety to see again, Baldwin does not care what liberties Grantley’s knife may have taken with the bodies of obscure persons living on the East Side, or how near he came to murdering us that night, after we had interfered with his bloody scientific pastimes. Your multimillionaire friend feels confident that Grantley would not dare try any tricks on him, and he is willing to overlook the unprofessional manner of the man’s approach. He is impatient toward restraint, used to having his own way in everything, and, fired by a new hope, he is harder to manage than ever. Is that the way you interpret the situation, doctor?”

“I could not hope to put it better.”

“That is the way I size it up—that part of it, anyway. As for the rest, however, you’ll have to give me a little time to think it over. I’m very glad you came to me. As you say, there may be something queer back of it. By the way, can you arrange an interview for me with Mr. Baldwin, in case I find it necessary to call upon him?”


“Very well. I may ask you to do so later on. In{82} any case, I shall let you know as soon as I come to any decision.”

Doctor Vanderpool rose to go, and took his departure after a few more words, confident that he had placed the matter in the best possible hands.

Nick Carter remained at his desk, absent-mindedly drawing circles on his blotter.

The puzzle which had been given to him to solve was a decidedly unusual one, and it might mean almost anything—or next to nothing.{83}



The case against Grantley and his confederates had furnished one of the greatest newspaper sensations of recent years, and the attitude of the public toward the vivisectionists was bitter in the extreme.

Their trials were delayed for some months, during which time Nick and his assistants collected all the evidence they could obtain. The girl recovered, and, as there had been no law at the time to forbid such unnecessary operations, the detective was compelled to furnish another basis for prosecution.

It was that or nothing.

After a great deal of probing, Nick had brought to light an instance of actual death as a result of a previous experiment in vivisection, which had been carried out by Doctor Grantley and the same set of assistants.

It was that of a little boy, also from the East Side, and the son of poor parents. He had been lame, and Grantley had carried him to the private hospital in the Bronx, after promising a cure by means of an operation on his hip.

The operation that had actually been performed, however, had borne absolutely no relation to the child’s lameness, and he had died from the effects of it.

It seemed a clear case of manslaughter, and the prosecution put all its strength into it. But Grantley still had means, despite the fact that his practice had{84} fallen off to an alarming extent in recent years. Moreover, he was exceptionally clever and had retained a number of powerful friends among the more radical and unscrupulous surgeons in the State.

As a consequence, his defense was an unexpectedly strong one. He and his lawyers brought forward expert witness after witness to testify in his behalf, all of whom insisted that there was, or might have been, abundant justification for the operation performed.

The experts for the prosecution denied this, of course, and between them they managed to bewilder the jury to such an extent that the long trial resulted finally in a disagreement.

To cap the climax, the district attorney had decided to release the prisoners, rather than hold them for a new trial. He did not believe it possible to convict them, and desired to save the county needless expense.

This decision was a great disappointment to Nick and his assistants, as well as to the public generally.

Nevertheless, the agitation had resulted in placing on the statute books a new law, which made it a crime for any surgeon to perform an operation of any kind without the consent of the patient or some relative or responsible friend. Furthermore, any unnecessary operation, or any surgical or other experiment having no bearing on the patient’s ailment, was at last prohibited, under penalty of a heavy fine and imprisonment.

Therefore, if Grantley should return to his old practices, it would be a comparatively easy matter to convict him.

Nick and his assistants made it their business to keep{85} a close but unobtrusive watch over the liberated surgeons. Grantley and his lieutenant, young Doctor Siebold, accompanied by the nurse, Miss Rawlinson, returned to the former’s house immediately after their release. Most of the others scattered, some of them going so far as to change their names.

The detectives kept track of them all, but did not attempt to interfere with them in any way. Nick was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they had learned their lesson they did not need to fear any further action. If, on the other hand, they should attempt to resume their questionable or criminal methods, it would then be time enough to act.

For some weeks nothing had developed to indicate that Grantley was doing anything at all. He seemed to have no patients, and to be seeking none.

At the end of that interval, Nick Carter had been surprised by the visit of Doctor Vanderpool. After the eminent physician’s departure, the detective remained buried in thought for half an hour or more.

The situation was unique.

Grantley’s action in approaching such a commanding figure as J. Hackley Baldwin, at such a time and under such circumstances, was little short of staggering, and Nick could easily understand Doctor Vanderpool’s anxiety.

The Fifth Avenue practitioner had hit upon what seemed to be the two alternative explanations, at least the two most likely ones. Either one was quite possible.

There was no doubt about Hiram Grantley’s daring or his confidence in himself. His great ability was un{86}questioned, and his release had probably convinced him that he was safe enough in going to almost any lengths.

Therefore, the truth seemed to lie close to either one of two suppositions—one of them harmless, the other freighted with direful possibilities.

The harmless one, as Doctor Vanderpool had pointed out, had to do with a possible and very natural desire on Grantley’s part to regain the confidence and prestige which he had forfeited.

It was not difficult to understand that he might really believe himself capable of restoring the blind financier’s sight, and if he could get a chance to do that it would mean a great deal of money in his pocket, an immense amount of free advertising, and a resultant modification of public opinion.

So far, all was plain sailing. Baldwin had been blind for many years, to be sure, without previously receiving any such offer from Grantley; but the fact could be explained away without much difficulty. The surgeon had never been in such a predicament before, had never been so badly in need of such a boost as this would give him if he could make good.

On the other hand, there loomed the sinister possibility that Grantley had something worse up his sleeve. In other words, his intentions might be criminal, and he might be plotting harm to the multimillionaire.

But in what way, and for what reason?

Surely, if he intended to go back to the methods which had been so unsparingly exposed and condemned, he did not need to choose so shining a mark for his unlawful experiments. On the contrary, it would seem to be to his interest to aim low, and to{87} continue to pick out victims who were comparatively unimportant to the world at large.

Besides, he must have known that a man of Baldwin’s wealth and standing would not place himself in the hands of any one without instituting the most rigid inquiries. His offer could not fail to be discussed by those close to the great financier, and it would be sure to cause a sensation.

Why had he braved all the dangers involved and defied all of the many obstacles which lay between a notorious and discredited surgeon and one of the most carefully guarded of Wall Street’s money kings?

Was it merely because he longed to “come back,” to reëstablish himself by means of one brilliant coup, or did his motive lie far deeper than that, in some dark corner of his cruel nature?

And if the latter was the case, what could that motive possibly be? Was it financial or personal in character?

It was difficult to see how Grantley could hope to benefit, in a financial way, by harming Baldwin. The crooked surgeon might have larger interests in the money world than any one knew of, but to strike at one of the big magnates was to precipitate widespread shrinkage in values, perhaps a panic on the floor of the Stock Exchange.

On the whole, therefore, if Grantley’s motive was an evil one, the chances were that it involved revenge of one kind or another.

It might be private revenge, a desire on Grantley’s part to retaliate for some real or fancied wrong done to him; or it was conceivable that one or more of Bald{88}win’s rivals in the game of high finance had hired the rascally surgeon to put him out of commission.

As a matter of fact, though, Nick was not inclined to put much faith in the latter theory. If Grantley’s object had to do with revenge of some kind, the chances were that strictly private reasons were involved.

A painstaking examination of Grantley’s record might reveal those reasons, but the detective was not hopeful on that score. The time at his disposal was too short, for one thing. For another, since it was obvious that Baldwin did not know of any particular reason for distrusting the surgeon—aside from his tendency to cut up his East Side patients—the cause of any enmity which might exist seemed to be an obscure one, the whys and wherefores of which were locked in Grantley’s own breast.

If that was the case, an investigation would only result in a waste of precious time. Consequently, Nick decided to take the bull by the horns.

First, he would call on Grantley himself and put him through a rigid cross-examination, in an effort to worm his secret out of him, if possible.

Second, no matter whether he was successful in this first interview or not, he intended to see the financier and add his influence to Doctor Vanderpool’s, in a final attempt to dissuade Baldwin from submitting to the proposed operation.{89}



The first part of Nick’s plan involved a certain amount of risk.

It takes courage to beard a man of Doctor Grantley’s type in his own lair, especially after a narrow escape from annihilation by acid in that same lair. Nick Carter never allowed such considerations to weigh with him, however, and the most he consented to do was to take his first assistant, Chick, with him when he set out for the Bronx.

Hoff opened the door a crack, in accordance with his usual suspicious attitude toward visitors. The detective promptly put his foot into the opening.

“Is Doctor Grantley in, Hoff?” Nick asked.

The servant’s face was a study. Amazement at the detective’s daring and hatred of him for the part he had played were both written there.

“I see he is,” Nick went on, without waiting for the belated reply. “Kindly let us in and inform the doctor that I wish to see him at once on important business.”

The German hesitated, but presently the door swung open, and they were invited, in a surly tone, to enter. After leading the way to the reception room, Hoff went upstairs. Five minutes later Doctor Grantley put in an appearance.

“You’re certainly a cool one, Carter!” was his greeting. “What the devil are you doing here? I thought you had sense enough to let me alone after that farce{90} of a trial. What new maggot is busy in your head now?”

“I have left you alone all these weeks, haven’t I?” Nick asked, in turn. “And I would have continued to do so if you hadn’t taken such an extraordinary step.”

A sneer distorted Grantley’s face.

“Ah, so you have heard of the Baldwin matter, have you?” he asked. “Well, what about it? What business is it of yours?”

“I shall make it my business just so far as I see fit, Grantley,” was the quiet answer. “Knowing that you are a murderer at heart, do you suppose I am going to stand by with folded hands and let you get one of the most valuable lives in the country under your knife, without doing everything in my power to prevent it?”

“But it doesn’t happen to be in your power, my friend. You have no standing at all in this affair. It is purely a matter for Mr. Baldwin to decide, and he has chosen, after a searching investigation, to put himself into my hands. I am confident that I can restore his sight, and to that end I obtained an interview with him. He knows all about me—more than you do, in all probability—and there is nothing underhand about it. I suppose Vanderpool has run to you with the story, but I care nothing for Vanderpool’s opinion. I violated professional etiquette, of course, by openly offering my services; but I’ve never cared a row of pins for such rules. They’re beneath me. Besides, I had everything to gain and little or nothing to lose. Your confounded meddling has played the deuce with my reputation, if it hasn’t done anything else. I saw a chance to get on top again and make all those fools{91} who have been attacking me sing another tune. That’s all there is about it, and you haven’t a leg to stand on.”

“That sounds plausible enough, as it was meant to sound,” the detective remarked; “but—are you sure you never lost any money through Baldwin, or on any of his stocks?”

The question came out like the snap of a whip, and Nick’s eyes bored into the surgeon as he watched for its effect.

Apparently, however, it had none. Grantley did not drop his eyes for a moment. He returned the detective’s glance, eye for eye, and not a muscle of his face moved.

“Guess again, Carter!” he said, after a pause.

He shrugged his shoulders now, and a triumphant grin overspread his face.

“You thought you had me, didn’t you?” he went on. “Well, your little third degree went for nothing. As I’ve said before, it’s none of your business; but I’m willing to stretch a point in order to get rid of you. Therefore, I’ll go so far as to assure you solemnly that there is absolutely nothing of that sort, or of anything else beyond what I have stated, about this forthcoming operation on Mr. Baldwin’s eyes. It will be perfectly straight, and you may be sure that I will give him the benefit of every bit of skill and experience I possess. Does that satisfy you?”

“It would if I had any confidence in your word, solemn or otherwise, Grantley. As it happens, however, I did not ask you for any such assurance in regard to the proposed operation on Baldwin’s eyes. You couldn’t inflict much damage on them, no matter how{92} criminal your motive might be. But how about some other operation or experiment along your favorite lines? Will you declare as earnestly that you have no intention of playing any tricks of that sort?”

Again Grantley’s eyes met the detective’s without the slightest attempt at evasion.

“Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to kick you out of this house for suggesting such a thing, Carter,” he said, with an obvious effort to control himself, “but I suppose I’ll have to humor you again. Suspicion is your stock in trade, and if you can’t find a legitimate suspicion, you’re evidently content with any old kind, no matter how insulting or ridiculous. No, my spying friend; I swear that I have never had any thought of conducting any experiments in vivisection on J. Hackley Baldwin. Nobody but a lunatic would. A sane man would as soon set fire to a sheaf of thousand-dollar bills, which represented the bulk of his wealth. Why, man, you’re letting your silly fears run away with you! Baldwin has promised me a quarter of a million dollars if this operation is a success, and he would have given me twice as much—four times as much—just as readily, if I had insisted upon it. Do you suppose for a moment that I would try any tricks on him, as you call it, with such a reward in prospect? Where’s all that superhuman cleverness of yours, of which I’ve heard so much—and seen so little?”

Nick refused to take offense, however, and was not daunted in the least. He returned again and again to the attack from different angles, but was at last obliged to give it up.{93}

Grantley stood his ground throughout, and none of Nick’s questions seemed to cause him any embarrassment. If Grantley was plotting against the financier in any way, Nick had to confess to himself that he was about the coolest and most accomplished liar that a long experience had brought to light.

Curiously enough, the only tangible thing which kept Nick’s suspicions alive was the fact that Grantley returned his glances so defiantly. He got the impression that the surgeon was forcing himself to do so by sheer power of will. It seemed a little overdone.

At last Nick was compelled to withdraw with as good grace as he could, none the wiser for the interview. Grantley lost no opportunity to jeer at him, but made no hostile demonstration of any other sort.

At the first opportunity, Nick called upon the blind millionaire, by appointment. He was not able, however, to give any definite or compelling reasons for his attitude, and, as he had feared, all of his arguments were in vain.

Baldwin admitted the truth of many of the detective’s points, but they had no weight with him. He plainly showed his knowledge of Grantley’s past unscrupulousness, but declared that he was willing to take whatever risks might be involved.

Nothing could shake his conviction that the surgeon would not dare to injure him in any way, and he returned repeatedly to Grantley’s own strongest argument—namely, that the vivisectionist had, in the huge fee at stake, the greatest possible incentive to do his best.

Finally, the millionaire thanked Nick for his inter{94}est, but announced his intention of submitting to the operation at the time appointed.

“I’d give millions, if necessary, to any one who could give me back my sight, Mr. Carter,” he said, as Nick rose to go; “and the character and previous record of Doctor Grantley are matters of supreme indifference to me. If he were guilty of all the crimes in the penal code, I should still put myself into his hands, for every conceivable consideration of self-interest would operate to make him hold me sacred and to give me the utmost of which he is capable.”

As yet, Nick had nothing to show for his pains, but he did not give up.{95}



The detective gave hurried orders to his assistants and set them to work on another investigation into Grantley’s past, with a view to ascertain, if possible, the surgeon’s experiences in Wall Street.

Unfortunately, nothing of any importance was unearthed.

It was learned that Doctor Grantley had speculated heavily at one time, years before, and was supposed to have been unlucky in some of his investments, but the exact facts could not be obtained.

Nick felt it his duty to communicate the little he had learned to the blind magnate, and did so, but without result. Baldwin’s hope had been aroused, and he was pathetically eager to undergo the operation. He sent word to Nick that he could not see how the latter’s information affected the situation. Many men had burned their fingers in blind speculation, he declared, and added his conviction that a detective, with the best intentions in the world, was “making a mountain out of a child’s sand pile.”

Still Nick did not despair, and the probe went on. The next day passed without bringing anything more definite to light, and the morning of the operation dawned.

The blind millionaire was already in Grantley’s hands, having gone to the private hospital the evening before, in order to become settled in his new environ{96}ment and to have a chance to quiet down before the fateful hour arrived.

He had no immediate relatives, and would allow no one else to dictate to him. Against Doctor Vanderpool’s advice, and in spite of the physician’s anxious pleadings, he insisted upon trusting Grantley implicitly.

“It’s all or nothing with me,” he persisted in saying. “This operation is altogether too important to me to allow its success to be threatened in any way. Grantley knows he is under suspicion, but I do not suspect him in the least, and I shall consent to nothing that would lead him to think so. He doesn’t want you or any other hostile personality present, and I don’t blame him. Besides, it might affect his nerves disastrously. And any nurse you would be likely to introduce would be bound to reflect the same antagonistic attitude toward him and his staff. I won’t have my chances jeopardized by any such childish jealousies.”

Doctor Vanderpool threw up his hands at that, but Baldwin laid down the law still further. He made it plain that he not only meant to place himself in Grantley’s hands for the operation itself, but that he did not wish any interference afterward, until such time as the surgeon should pronounce him ready to receive visitors.

The financier’s stubborn attitude caused Nick Carter many misgivings, but the detective saw that his own hands were tied. He could not force his way into the house, in the face of Grantley’s enmity toward him, at such a critical time. What was more, he could not even keep an effective watch over the premises, although that would have been small comfort at best.{97}

The house immediately adjoining Grantley’s, which Nick had previously occupied for a time, had been regularly rented since then, so that that vantage point was no longer available.

The blind master of millions had, by his own act, completely isolated himself from his friends for an indefinite period, and put himself unreservedly in the power of the rascally Grantley, his no less unscrupulous assistant, Doctor Siebold, and the hard-faced nurse, Kate Rawlinson.

Moreover, even the protection of publicity was denied to Baldwin’s anxious well-wishers. They would have preferred, for the sake of the effect upon Grantley, to have all the papers publish the fact. They would have liked to see reporters calling at the private hospital at frequent intervals, in the hope that public knowledge and interest would deter the surgeon from crime, if he contemplated anything of the sort.

But Baldwin had also made that impossible, and for a very good reason: He realized that there would be the greatest alarm in financial circles if it became known in advance that he was about to submit to an operation at the hands of Doctor Hiram Grantley, and, in order to protect his own interests and those of his friends, he had taken the most elaborate precautions to keep his whereabouts secret.

The situation was maddening, but it could not be helped.

Ten o’clock came and went. Eleven struck, and then twelve. Doctor Vanderpool was almost beside himself with suspense. He longed to go to Grantley’s house and inquire about the success of the operation, but he{98} did not dare for fear the secret would be revealed through the fact that he was known to be J. Hackley Baldwin’s physician. Besides, such operations often require several hours.

Consequently, the doctor haunted Nick Carter’s house, instead. Finally, at one o’clock, Nick telephoned to Grantley’s house. Hoff, the German manservant, answered the phone. Nick gave his name and asked after Grantley’s patient.

The German replied that his employer had been expecting such an inquiry and had instructed him to say that the operation had been successful in every respect, and that Mr. Baldwin was resting quietly. It would be several days, however, before the patient could safely receive callers, and meanwhile he would, of course, remain at the private hospital. Doctor Grantley did not care to answer in person.

There was an undercurrent of hostility and contempt in the manner in which the message was delivered, but that was to be expected. It did not necessarily mean anything, for Nick could hope for nothing else from Grantley or any of his employees. The detective could do nothing but formally thank his informant and hang up the receiver.

He repeated the message, word for word, to Doctor Vanderpool, and the two consulted.

Obviously, they knew no more than they had known before. The message might be a lie from end to end, it might be partially true, or all true, and there was no way of finding out until Grantley was ready to let them, unless they went counter to the millionaire’s express injunctions.{99}

Would they be justified in doing so? That was one of the most important of the many problems which confronted them.

There had been something resembling a ring of truth about Hoff’s report of the success of the operation, but Nick had already foreseen the possibility that Grantley might take a fiendish delight in restoring the millionaire’s sight and then injure him terribly—if not actually kill him—in some other way.

To have to wait for days without knowing the true situation seemed more than flesh could bear.

On the other hand, if Grantley had really performed the operation in good faith, a forcible entry and examination of the patient might work grave injury.

Baldwin would be kept in a dark room for some time, under such circumstances, and rest and quiet were an important part of the cure.

It would excite him greatly to have his wishes disregarded, and Grantley would doubtless resist such an invasion to the last—very likely to the extent of arming himself and his staff.

The detective and Vanderpool realized all this, and finally came to the conclusion, with the greatest reluctance, that they must let matters take their course for a few days.

Some kind of an operation had doubtless been performed on the financier, and it was extremely improbable that their interference at that late hour could materially benefit him. Apparently, the most that could be done involved a more or less long-distance oversight of Grantley’s doings.

If any suspicious departures, or other questionable{100} activities were noticed, it would be time to step in, but not otherwise.

Time passed. Repeated inquiries were made, both by phone and in person. Not until the third day did Grantley condescend to see the detective when the latter called, and then the interview was as fruitless as it could well have been.

The surgeon assured Nick that Baldwin was improving constantly, but he peremptorily refused to permit his patient to be seen. Moreover, he would make no definite statement as to the date of Baldwin’s return home.

To be sure, he did give the detective a message, which purported to come from the jealously guarded financier. It was to the effect that all was well, and that Nick and Doctor Vanderpool were not to worry; but that might easily have been made up out of whole cloth.

The surgeon’s manner was as irreproachable as ever, and Nick had to confess to himself once more that if Grantley was playing a part, it was a masterly one.

Thus a week of harrowing uncertainty passed.

At the end of it came the crash.{101}



There had been nothing at any time which Nick could properly seize upon as an excuse for action, much as he longed to end the terrible suspense.

Doctor Grantley had the whip hand throughout, and the isolation of the financier, alarming as it was under the circumstances, was nothing more than any surgeon might be expected to insist upon in such a case.

The only departure from that rule occurred on the fifth day, when J. Hackley Baldwin’s confidential secretary received a check, directing him to fill out a check for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, payable to Hiram A. Grantley, and send it to the latter’s house in the Bronx.

The secretary, who was necessarily in the secret, immediately telephoned to Nick. The detective responded at once and carefully examined the note. A microscopic comparison with various documents left no reasonable doubt that the message had actually been written and signed by the millionaire. Not only that, but the handwriting revealed no sign of tremulousness or any other indication that Baldwin had not been himself when he wrote it.

Forgery was plainly out of the question.

Nevertheless, both Nick and the secretary could not help feeling a profound disquiet. The affair struck them as decidedly irregular. It suggested an unseemly haste on Grantley’s part to collect the promised{102} fee for the operation at a time when Baldwin was still in his power and no one on the outside was in possession of any real evidence that the conditions had been complied with—namely, that the operation had been a success.

Irrespective of his success or failure, however, if Grantley had in any manner influenced Baldwin to take this step, he had acted in a way that no reputable surgeon would have dreamed of doing.

On the other hand, it was quite possible, of course, that Baldwin had acted purely on his own initiative, in order to show, by his prompt payment, the gratitude he felt for his returning sight.

It was another delicate and trying situation.

In the end, Nick advised the secretary to make out the check and send it as requested. There were no obstacles in the way of this, for the millionaire, who had the utmost confidence in his secretary, had signed several checks in blank before entering the private hospital.

Nick reasoned, that, if all was straight, the secretary might get into serious trouble with his dictatorial employer if he failed to carry out the latter’s instructions to the letter. Besides, a quarter of a million was only a drop in the bucket compared with the immense bulk of Baldwin’s fortune. If the millionaire had come to any harm, the money loss would quickly pale into insignificance.

Lastly, the giving of a check and the payment of it are two very different things. Payment of it could be stopped, if necessary; or, on the other hand, the rapidity with which Grantley might try to realize on it,{103} or the use to which he might put it, could be turned to advantage as an indication of the game being played.

It went against the grain, but the check was made out and sent without further delay.

That was on a Friday.

Nick at once set a watch over both Grantley’s bank and Baldwin’s, but they closed on Saturday, without any attempt having been made to catch or deposit the big check.

The delay gave the detective a more favorable impression than anything else had done, for it seemed to show that Grantley was in no hurry to take advantage of the payment, and that implied that the surgeon had no intention of trying to disappear.

But Nick soon changed his mind.

Early Sunday morning, just a week after the operation, Patsy Garvan was on duty as near the Grantley house as he dared to go.

He saw a taxi drive up. Almost immediately Doctor Grantley and his assistant, young Doctor Siebold, helped the millionaire out of the house and into the machine.

Baldwin seemed to be rather feeble or uncertain in his movements, and there were black patches over his eyes.

Patsy was not near enough to ascertain the number of the taxi, which at once started downtown at a rapid rate of speed. Unfortunately, too, there was no other vehicle at hand.

It was hopeless for Patsy to attempt to follow, and, consequently, he did the only thing that was left for{104} him to do—he ran to the subway terminal, two or three blocks away, and took a downtown train.

Twenty-five minutes later he alighted at the station nearest to Baldwin’s house and started on a sprint toward Fifth Avenue.

He hoped that the millionaire had been taken home, and when he arrived at his destination, he learned, to his great relief, that such was the case.

But the next piece of information he obtained gave him a shock that he was never to forget.

He was given to understand that Mr. Baldwin had arrived in a most alarming condition—and all alone.

The financier had presented a startling appearance, and was obviously in a dazed condition. He had not recognized any one, and had had to be carried to his room. Doctor Vanderpool had been summoned at once, but had not yet arrived.

The taxi was still standing at the curb and the driver was inside, having been detained by Baldwin’s secretary.

Patsy gained admittance by using Nick’s name, and soon obtained an interview of a few moments with the distracted secretary, Frank Craven.

“Thank Heaven you’re here!” the latter exclaimed. “I’ve telephoned to Mr. Carter. This is terrible, Garvan, terrible! Mr. Baldwin doesn’t recognize me. He’s in a state of collapse and doesn’t seem to have a spark of intelligence. He’s whimpering like a baby up there. I made the driver wait so that Mr. Carter could see him. He says that two men, who answered the description of Grantley and that precious assistant of his, helped Mr. Baldwin into the cab.{105}

“Yes, I saw that,” Patsy interrupted. “But where did they leave it?”

“At Lenox Avenue and One Hundred and Twenty-fifth, according to the chauffeur. See what you can get out of the man. He’s downstairs with the servants. Heaven only knows what those fiends have done, Garvan, and they must be found, if the whole world has to be turned upside down to do it! Do what you can—everything you can. I must go back to poor Mr. Baldwin.”

With that Craven turned around and sprang up the stairs.

Patsy hunted up a telephone and called his chief’s number. Chick answered, after being called to the instrument by the detective’s butler.

Garvan explained the situation in a few words, and his fellow assistant promised to speed up to Grantley’s house at once, and try to intercept Hoff and the nurse if they had not already vanished.

It was also arranged that Ida Jones, Nick’s pretty woman assistant, should accompany Chick in the car as far as One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, where she would drop off, in order to search for the trail there.

Patsy knew that minutes might be priceless things just then, and he felt sure that Nick would sanction the moves made.

As soon as he hung up the receiver he sought the basement, where he found the driver of the taxi surrounded by a knot of excited servants.{106}



The man seemed reliable, and he told a perfectly straight story.

He informed Patsy that he drove for a garage on Boston Road, in the Bronx, and that he had never been called to Doctor Grantley’s house before that morning. The manager had received the order and sent him out.

Patsy did not see fit to tell the chauffeur that he had seen the arrival of the machine at Grantley’s. He allowed the man to tell his story in his own way, and found it accurate, so far as his own observation went.

The driver declared that three men had entered the cab. He described them with sufficient accuracy, and reported that the elder of the two men who had subsequently left the cab had given him Mr. Baldwin’s address.

When the machine reached the corner of Lenox Avenue and One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, however, the same man—Grantley, in short—had ordered him to stop. The two had alighted without explanation and told him to take the third man to the address given.

The chauffeur had thought it rather strange, but they gave him no time to ask any questions. Instead, they had walked rapidly away to the eastward, along One Hundred and Twenty-fifth.

After noting that and glancing in toward his remaining fare—who seemed sunk in a sort of {107}stupor—the driver had continued on his way without incident until he had arrived at Baldwin’s house.

He had informed his passenger that their destination had been reached; then, failing to obtain an intelligent answer, he had rung the doorbell and notified the manservant who answered it that he had an old gentleman in the cab, who had been sent to that address.

The servant had gone out to the machine and recognized his master. Pandemonium had then broken loose in the house, and the secretary had been summoned.

That was the gist of the chauffeur’s story, and Patsy’s questionings failed to bring out anything else of importance.

He took the man’s name and address and the number of the taxi. Finally, he instructed the driver to remain where he was until Nick could question him, if desired.

When Patsy returned to the first floor, he found that Doctor Vanderpool had arrived. Nick put in an appearance a few moments later, approved of the measures Patsy had taken, and sent his assistant to the point at which Grantley and Siebold had disappeared.

Thus far, Nick was necessarily in the dark as to just what had happened to the millionaire. For all he knew, Baldwin might be suffering merely from a premature removal to his home. The detective’s instinct told him, however, that something far more sinister than that had occurred.

If there had been nothing wrong, Grantley could never have deserted his patient in any such way and{108} left him to be taken home in that haphazard fashion, as if he had been a drunkard picked up on the street.

The fears which Nick had tried so long to fight down rose in their might and mastered him at last. He felt sure that something frightful had happened, but he was no nearer an understanding of Grantley’s motive than he had been in the beginning.

The two fugitives—for such he assumed them to be—must be caught at any cost, and to that end the police must be notified and a general alarm sent out.

Nick decided, though, that it would be best to await the result of Doctor Vanderpool’s preliminary examination before taking that step, especially as the delay ought not to be long.

He had one of the servants take him upstairs to the corridor outside of Baldwin’s suite, and sent word to the physician that he was there.

After a wait of ten or fifteen minutes, Vanderpool himself emerged hurriedly. His manner was greatly agitated and his eyes had a look of horror in them.

He took Nick by the arm and nervously drew him aside.

“Good heavens, Carter!” he whispered hoarsely. “This is worse than I feared. Grantley is a fiend—nothing less! I would not have believed it——”

“He has actually done something to Baldwin, then?” Nick demanded quickly.

“He has done his worst,” was the grave reply.

“You mean?”

The physician looked about him. His grip on Nick’s arm became painful, and he leaned closer.{109}

“Mr. Baldwin is a hopeless idiot, I fear,” he announced, in a broken whisper.

The detective gave a gasp of sympathy, and recoiled a step.

“An idiot—literally?” he asked.

Vanderpool nodded.

“There seems to be no doubt about it, unfortunately,” he said. “A second operation was performed several days ago—on his head. I shall send for my X-ray apparatus at once, and until the photographs are developed—which will be done with all possible speed—I cannot, of course, speak with authority. The evidences of the operation are unmistakable, however, and his distressing symptoms alone are sufficient to show, in general, what has happened. Carter, one of the most powerful of our money kings lies there in that room, conscious but bereft of all real intelligence. I believe he would play with a doll if you gave it to him—or a bright-colored ball. And yet it isn’t enough to say that he has only the mind of a child. That wouldn’t be fair to the children, unless one had reference only to newborn babies. Heaven help him, his is now only the mind of the imbecile—or, in other words, no mind at all that is worthy of the name!”

“Is it possible?”

“It is more than that—it is true, man! That monster has stolen more—infinitely more—than all of Baldwin’s wealth: he has stolen part of his brain—and no power on earth can restore it!”

Words were powerless to express the detective’s horror of the crime. His face showed the depth of{110} his feelings, however, as well as of his determination to bring the merciless surgeon to justice.

“And the eyes?” he asked, after a pause.

“Oh, Grantley has kept his promise, curse him! That only makes it seem worse. He has played to his heart’s content with one of the most precious lives we have to-day. The devilish irony of it! He has given Baldwin his sight, collected his huge fee—and then reduced his patient to a mere brainless hulk! The villainy of it almost passes belief!”

Nick could only agree, his blood running cold at the thought. The next moment it surged feverishly through his veins. He vowed to catch Grantley and his accomplices again if it should be his last act on earth.

He waited to hear no more, but sought the telephone and called up police headquarters. One of the deputy commissioners was on duty at the time, and Nick soon had the satisfaction of being assured that all of the machinery of the department would be put into motion at once.

No more than an hour had elapsed since Grantley and Siebold had alighted from the taxi in Harlem. Surely they could not have put any great distance between their pursuers and themselves. Besides, Patsy and Ida Jones were doubtless already at work at the scene of their disappearance.

Nick had barely hung up the receiver before the phone bell rang. As none of the servants was at hand, the detective answered it. He was not surprised to recognize Chick’s voice on the wire.

“Hello, Chick!” he said. “What’s the word?{111}

“The roosts are empty, chief,” was the disappointed answer. “I’m telephoning from Grantley’s house now. I found it empty and broke in. The people next door tell me that Hoff and the nurse skipped out in another taxi not more than ten minutes after Mr. Baldwin was taken away.”

“Which way did they go?”

“North, curiously enough—in the opposite direction from that taken by the others.”

“Have you found out whether the car came from the same garage?”

“I just telephoned. The garage people say they sent only one car to this address this morning.”

“Well, phone a description of the German and Miss Rawlinson down to police headquarters. I’ve already notified Deputy Commissioner Leith, and the hunt is on in earnest. Then try to find the garage. Call up my house every half hour or so. I may want you.”

The detective was about to leave the Baldwin residence when he was informed that a messenger had just brought him a note, directed in care of Baldwin’s secretary, and had left without waiting for an answer.

The “note” proved to be simply an envelope, directed in Doctor Grantley’s characteristic hand, and containing a number of small fragments of torn paper.

The detective had pieced together only a few of the bits when he gave an exclamation of amazement.

Grantley had sent him Baldwin’s check for the quarter of a million dollars, torn into pieces!{112}



What in the world did it mean?

This new development was certainly startling in the extreme, and even more incomprehensible in its way, if that were possible, than the appalling crime itself.

It was unnecessary for Nick to piece the check together in its entirety in order to be fairly certain that it had not been cashed. Any one with the slightest knowledge of banking methods would have understood at a glance that the check had either never been deposited, or else that it had been stolen afterward. There is no legitimate way in which a payer’s check can fall into the hands of the payee after the money has been paid, except when payer and payee are one and the same.

Moreover, in the ordinary course, supposing Grantley had cashed or deposited the check at once, it would not even have returned to Baldwin in such a short time.

To make absolutely sure that it had not been stolen from the bank after being deposited, Nick arranged all of the fragments, not because he believed it necessary, but for the purpose of eliminating any such possibility at once.

As he had anticipated, the back of the check bore neither indorsement nor bank stamp of any sort.

Grantley had deliberately torn up the equivalent of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars—a fortune in{113} itself—and sent the fragments to his greatest enemy as a challenge of some sort.

But why?

The surgeon’s act promised to prove itself one of the most difficult puzzles of a case that had, all along, been full of unusual problems.

Both Grantley and the tragically obstinate millionaire himself had scored most heavily against the detectives when they had argued that the promised reward was so tempting that it made double-dealing out of the question. And yet, Grantley had now spurned that reward in the most contemptuous manner, after he had apparently brought pressure to bear on Baldwin in order to obtain the check two days before.

At this point Nick’s thoughts took a new turn.

How was the note to the millionaire’s secretary to be explained, he asked himself.

He still felt sure that Baldwin had written it, but if so, it was obvious that it had not been written since the operation on the financier’s head.

If Doctor Vanderpool were not greatly mistaken, the millionaire was not in a condition to know his own name, much less to write and sign a note without a tremor or a single false stroke.

Had the second operation been performed in the last two or three days? Apparently not, for Vanderpool was authority for the statement that the marks of it were several days old.

Nick had the note with him, and he examined it anew. It stood every test, as before, but there was one fact about it which, the detective had previously noted, became significant: It was not dated.{114}

That had not appeared to mean anything of importance up to that time, but in the light of recent revelations it suggested that the note had been written soon after Baldwin’s arrival at the private hospital, before either operation had taken place.

If that had been the case, no element of gratitude could have entered into the matter. And not only that, Baldwin was a shrewd man of affairs, and would never have consented to write such a note except in return for value received.

In other words, it became startlingly clear to the detective that the financier had not been himself when he had written to Craven.

But what about the sureness of the handwriting, which had always been characteristic of Baldwin, despite his handicap of blindness?

That would have puzzled almost any other detective in the country, but it did not long stand in Nick Carter’s way.

His mind played over the various possible theories with lightninglike rapidity and quickly focused upon one, which alone answered every requirement.

The note must have been written and signed at Grantley’s dictation while his distinguished patient was under hypnotic influence.

Men of Baldwin’s type are not usually susceptible to hypnotism, but the financier had trusted Grantley implicitly, and, doubtless, had never known the base use to which the surgeon had put his confidence.

He probably had been unaware that he was being hypnotized, and, of course, had had no recollection{115} of writing the note when Grantley had restored him to consciousness.

As for the normal character of the handwriting, that was easily explained. Baldwin had been accustomed for years to write without seeing what he wrote. Therefore, the peculiar condition of the hypnotic sleep would not have modified his handwriting to any such extent as would have been the case with an ordinary person. In fact, they would not necessarily have modified it at all, any more than they modify one’s voice, or walk, or manner of using the hands.

All of this, however, failed to explain the trouble Grantley had evidently taken to procure the note and check, and his strange action in subsequently destroying the latter.

He had laid himself open to suspicion by his unprofessional eagerness to collect his fee, and, seemingly, all to no purpose, unless he had merely desired to keep the detective and Doctor Vanderpool guessing. But surely his motive went deeper than that.

It now appeared obvious that his motive had been one of revenge, but that did not account for the failure to keep the huge sum he had obtained. He was believed to be a comparatively poor man, one to whom a cool quarter of a million would have meant a good deal.

Whatever his reason for committing so ruthless and revolting a crime, why had he not kept his ill-earned fee? It could hardly be that he had any moral scruples about doing so. Nick had sometimes suspected that Grantley was merely the tool of one or more of the millionaire’s financial rivals, but the fact that he had{116} looked elsewhere for his pay need not have prevented him from putting his hand into the pockets of his employers and his victim.

The most likely theory seemed to be that the surgeon had realized, too late, that he was probably being watched and would not be allowed to make away with the proceeds of the check. In that case he might have seen that it was practically valueless to him, and suddenly decided to tear it up and send it to the detective—a spectacular act of defiance that would have been characteristic enough of him.

But even that explanation involved many difficulties.

Grantley was not the man to have failed to look ahead and take account of all the difficulties in advance. That was one objection, and there were others almost equally as strong.

On the whole, therefore, the detective was obliged to admit to himself that this last tangle in the line would be far from easy to unravel.

Fortunately, however, it might be ignored for the present, and later on it was possible that it could be cut out instead of untangled. In other words, whatever the motive, the crime had undoubtedly been committed by Grantley and his assistant, with the connivance of the nurse, at least.

Consequently, the hunt for motives could well wait until after the hunt for the men themselves had been carried to a successful conclusion.

Grantley and Siebold had obtained very little start—hardly more, if any, than they would if they had attempted to cash the check. That fact told heavily in the detectives’ favor, but, on the other hand, Nick{117} realized that he was not dealing with ordinary criminals.

The very fact that Grantley had been satisfied with such an apparently unsatisfactory get-away, knowing that the driver of the taxi would doubtless tell all he knew as soon as he was questioned, indicated that the fugitives were either plain fools or else that they had something up their sleeves which gave them unusual confidence in their ability to escape the net.

Grantley was certainly not a fool, and Nick was prepared for some extraordinary matching of wits.

He left the mansion of the stricken millionaire and set to work at once.{118}



Hard thinking and tireless following of trails could usually be counted on to explain the successes earned by Nick Carter and his assistants, but sometimes plain, “bull-headed luck,” as Patsy Garvan would probably have called it, proved to be the determining factor.

That was the case in this instance.

Nick’s other assistant, Jack Wise, the well-to-do young society man, had had nothing to do with the Grantley case at all. He had been doing a little “pussyfooting” in the Harlem section, in connection with a totally different investigation, and was about to enter the subway kiosk at Lenox Avenue and One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street when he saw Doctor Grantley and Doctor Siebold alight from a taxi.

He knew them both by sight. They, however, were probably unaware of his existence, and even if they had known of him, they would have been unable to recognize him, owing to the fact that he was disguised.

Jack was thoroughly familiar with the circumstances connected with the millionaire’s headstrong acceptance of Grantley’s offer to operate, since he had heard it discussed several times by his chief and his fellow assistants.

As a result, his curiosity was aroused at once, and he managed to shift his position in such a way that he caught a glimpse of the man who remained in the cab.{119} The black patches over the eyes convinced him that it was Baldwin, and his familiarity with the financier’s features, as reproduced in the newspapers and magazines, confirmed the impression.

“Here’s a queer go!” thought the young detective, as the taxi continued southward without the two surgeons. “Looks as if they were sending Mr. Baldwin home alone, and they act as if they had been stealing sheep. I wonder what the dickens is in the wind now? Jack, old chap, maybe you’ve stumbled on something that needs looking into. I think you’d better keep in their wake for a while.”

Grantley and his assistant were some distance away before Wise arrived at this decision, but he had no difficulty in keeping in sight of them, despite the fact that they were proceeding eastward at a brisk pace.

They had probably hoped to give the impression that they were bound for the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street station, but they were a considerable distance from that when they hailed a disengaged taxi.

They jumped into the cab as soon as it came to a stop, and were soon speeding back toward Lenox Avenue again. Jack gave an exclamation of disgust before he espied a garage a few doors beyond, and on the other side of the street. He sprinted across, narrowly escaped a couple of trolley cars, and, as luck would have it, found a taxi standing outside the establishment.

It had just arrived, and the driver was in the act of alighting.

“No, you don’t!” shouted Jack, wrenching one of{120} the doors open and leaping in. “Two dollars extra if you keep that gray taxi in sight!”

The chauffeur looked in the direction that Wise pointed, saw the machine indicated, and nodded his head. In another moment he was back in his seat, and the cab was in motion.

The sixth sense, that plays so large a part in successful detection, had told Jack Wise that something was wrong. Grantley and Siebold gave every indication that they were doubling and twisting for the purpose of throwing off subsequent pursuers.

Their taxi took the shortest route to the Pennsylvania Station, where they alighted and dismissed the cab. Jack’s machine drew up a few moments later, and its occupant slipped the fare and the promised tip into the driver’s hand and told him not to wait.

Wise had made some slight but effective changes in his appearance on the way, and he had no fear of being recognized as one of those who had witnessed the unceremonious parting with Baldwin. Moreover, every advantage was his, for the fugitives could not possibly be prepared for this accidental pursuit. All of their clever precautions were evidently being taken with a view to confusing the detectives later on, when their anticipated inquiries were being made.

Nick’s assistant trailed the two surgeons to a toilet room, where they donned disguises. Their make-ups proved to be excellent and might well have baffled Jack if he had not taken care to avoid mistakes by counting those who went in and came out, eliminating every other possibility.

From the toilet room he followed the two to the{121} check room, where they claimed four new suit cases, which must have been taken down to the station by some one else.

Jack was near enough to use his eyes, and he did so to advantage, with the consequence that he saw the lettered names on the baggage.

Grantley’s cases were labeled “Henry S. Packard, Boston, Mass.,” and Siebold’s, “Arnold J. Taliaferro, Phila., Pa.”

Their plans had been carefully made, and it was plain that they would have given Nick and the others a great deal of trouble, to say the least, had it not been for the chance presence of Jack Wise at that particular corner, and just at the right time—an accident that set at naught all the probabilities and rendered worthless the elaborate subterfuges of Grantley and his satellite.

They had not emptied their bag of tricks, however.

To Jack’s surprise, instead of heading for a train, they emerged from the building and entered a taxi.

It was clear that they were bent upon putting another kink in their trail.

Across the street was a cab stand, and Jack hurried toward it and entered the nearest machine. Again he offered a generous tip, provided the taxi he pointed out could be kept in view.

They lost little time in getting started, and Grantley’s cab remained in plain sight, headed still farther downtown. At Fourteenth Street the chase turned westward, and it was soon clear that Grantley’s goal was the water front along the Hudson River.

Before the river front was reached, Jack thought it{122} best to exchange vehicles. He consulted the meter, learned the amount of his fare, added the driver’s tip to it, and then looked through the little pane of glass at the rear. When a crosstown Fourteenth Street car was seen at about the right distance behind him, he ordered the chauffeur to stop. He thrust the money into the man’s hand as he alighted, waited a few moments, and then swung lightly on board the car as it passed him.

He was sure that his maneuver had not been witnessed by his quarry, on account of the amount of traffic which intervened.

After entering the trolley, he kept his eye on the taxi ahead, which had slowed down. When it turned southward through the maze of streets close to the water, Wise jumped off and followed on foot.

There was still a possibility that the fugitives might give him the slip, but he did not believe it likely. As for their recognizing him, he had made that difficult, if not out of the question, by another clever change of appearance, made during the run of the second cab.

Heavy drays and lighter delivery wagons abounded in this section, and the streets were narrow. As a result, the taxi which Jack was following was making slow progress, and its athletic pursuer found it easy to keep within less than a block of it.

He was thus in a position to see that it stopped in front of the entrance to a small dock, above which appeared the sign: “New York & Buffalo Transport Co.”

“That’s certainly a new one on me!” thought Wise. “Not a very well-patronized line, I take it. Is it pos{123}sible they’re going to skip on a canal boat—or try to? That’s the only way of getting from here to Buffalo by water. Bright little chaps, those! Nobody else would have thought of that in a hundred years—and when they got to Buffalo, a hop, skip, and a jump across the Niagara River would have carried them into Canada. After that a transatlantic steamer at Montreal or Quebec, I suppose, and then—ta, ta! I saw them first, though, and if the chief doesn’t decorate me with the Order of the Eagle Eye for this, he’s a hungrateful master.{124}



Jack Wise made himself scarce, and yet took up a position which enabled him to keep track of the fugitives’ movements.

He was in no great hurry to notify Nick or the police. He wished to first make sure that there were to be no more doublings and twistings on the part of Grantley and Siebold.

Apparently, they had reached the end of their New York trail, and Jack was forced into a sort of reluctant admiration for their cleverness.

The man who had driven them—with the unfortunate millionaire—from the Bronx to One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, knew only the beginning of their wanderings, and even if the driver who had picked them up several blocks from that point could be found, it would only be possible for him to say that he had carried them to the Pennsylvania Station.

The supposition would have been—but for Wise’s timely cut across their trail—that they had taken a train there; and there would have been nothing to disprove that belief.

So far as Grantley and Siebold, in their proper persons, was concerned, the trail had ended there. It was “Henry S. Peckham,” of Boston, and “Arnold J. Taliaferro,” of Philadelphia, two very different-looking individuals, who had taken the taxi at that point and driven to the dock of the New York & Buffalo Transport Company.{125}

The only way in which Jack could have improved on their tactics would have been to buy tickets for some point on the Pennsylvania and actually to pass through the gates toward the proper train, if not to board it.

That would have added to the complications, and it would have been easy enough to mingle with the crowd from some incoming train and so return to the waiting room and the street.

The tracks they had left were confused enough as it was, however.

They dismissed their cab and entered the company’s tiny office, from which they emerged a little later, after which they went on board one of the barges lying alongside the dock.

It was plain to Wise that all arrangements had been made in advance, and that the two had been expected. The captain of the barge greeted them with respect and led them into the tiny cabin.

“Hope they like the accommodations!” murmured Jack, with a grin. “They won’t have time to get fussy over them, though.”

Everything seemed to be in readiness for departure. Towlines were being paid out and made fast, and a powerful tug, with steam up, was in readiness to tow a number of the barges up the river to the entrance to the canal, near Albany, where horse power would replace steam for the long, tedious journey through the canal.

Jack waited until Grantley and Siebold appeared again, without their suit cases, and idly began watching the preparations. He had no reasonable doubt after{126} that that they intended to remain on board, at least during part of the trip.

Reassured as to this, and no longer fearing that an alarm would be premature, Nick’s assistant slipped across the street in search of the nearest telephone. He was perfectly willing that the tug and its covey of barges should depart before help came, for, if desired, they could easily be overtaken on the river long before they had passed the city’s northern boundaries.

The two rascally surgeons had committed themselves now, and they would not leave the canal boat unless they became suspicious, which was extremely unlikely at that stage of the game.

There was no public telephone in the neighborhood, but Wise easily gained permission to use an instrument in a near-by store.

He first called up Nick’s house. Neither the detective nor any of his other assistants was at home, but they had been telephoning back there at frequent intervals in order to keep one another informed of their movements.

Consequently, Joseph, Nick’s highly efficient butler, was in possession of the main facts regarding the crime committed on Mr. Baldwin and the plans for the pursuit of the fugitives.

“Well, as fast as they telephone in tell them I’m accidentally on the job, that I’ve been trailing those fellows all over town, and that I can lay my hands on them at any moment. There’s no hurry, so I won’t notify the police. The chief can do that later, if he wishes. Tell him and the rest of them—except Ida Jones, who won’t be needed—to meet me as soon as{127} convenient at the corner of Fourteenth Street and Tenth Avenue? Got that, Joseph?... All right, then. It’s all over but putting on the nippers.”

He had been careful not to speak any plainer, especially in regard to the fugitives’ whereabouts, for fear some of those who were in the store might tip the wink to Grantley and Siebold, in the hope of earning a reward for the information that they were in danger of arrest.

One who had had less experience in such matters, or had studied the ways of criminals under an inferior master, would almost certainly have chafed under the delay and given way to apprehensions lest the two scoundrels might yet slip through his fingers. But Jack Wise knew when to look for trouble and when to be sure that the wind was in the right quarter.

Forebodings would have been foolish under the circumstances. Grantley and Siebold had made themselves at home on the canal boat, which would require days to reach Albany. The very fact that they had done so proved that nothing had aroused their fears during their zigzag course through the city, and now it was to their interest to do nothing that would whet the curiosity of those with whom they had temporarily thrown their lot.

Therefore, there was no reason to suppose that they would not sit tight so long as nothing disturbed them, and Nick and his assistants could be counted on to see that nothing did—until it was too late for their quarry to escape.

Meanwhile, several of the barges had been lashed together and had started up the river. They were{128} heavily laden, however, and the tug’s pace was almost a crawl.

From the vantage point of a neighboring dock, Jack watched them philosophically.

“By-by, my friends! See you later!”

The words formed themselves in his mind, but instantly the look of anticipated triumph disappeared from his face and one of horror replaced it. He was thinking of the well-nigh unbelievable outrage which had been perpetrated on the trusting financier.

“‘The chair’ is altogether too quick and clean a death for those fiends,” he told himself, “and yet they won’t get even that. They haven’t killed his body, but have only murdered the part of him that’s worth most to him—his mind! Yet all they’ll get, I suppose, is the maximum sentence for performing an irregular operation under the new law. They’ll get that, though, I can tell them! I can never be grateful enough for the chance, or the fate, that threw them in my way just then. I suppose the chief would have nabbed them, sooner or later, but it would have meant a lot of mighty stiff pulling against the current.”

Jack thereupon lounged slowly toward Fourteenth Street and hung about the corner he had named for half an hour or more. At the end of that time Nick put in an appearance in one of his motor cars, and, being familiar with his assistant’s disguise, he picked him out at once.

“What’s this Joseph tells me, Jack?” he demanded eagerly, as he jumped out of the machine. “Do you really know where Grantley and Siebold are?”

“That’s the idea, chief.{129}


“On the barge Mary Jane, bound up the river for Buffalo.”

“Are you sure?”

“As sure as I am that you’re the champion detective of the world.”

Nick ignored this.

“How long ago did they leave?” he asked.

“About the time I called up the house. You can’t lose them, chief. They’re probably off Thirty-fourth Street now. You could come abreast of them on foot without breaking any walking records. Going to notify police headquarters?”

“I’ve already done so. I knew that you could be relied on, and that Joseph isn’t in the habit of tangling messages. The police ought to be along any minute now.”

Two plain-clothes men, armed with warrants, arrived shortly afterward, and Chick Carter came up almost simultaneously. Nick had instructed Patsy and Ida Jones to continue the hunt for Hoff and the nurse.

One of the boats of the harbor squad was summoned to the foot of West Fourteenth Street from Pier A, after a brief consultation, and in half an hour more the little party was in full pursuit.{130}



The low cabin of the canal boat Mary Jane was aft. Nearly an hour and a half after leaving the dock, Grantley and Siebold were sitting just forward of the cabin, on a couple of coils of rope. Their heads were thus below the level of the low roof.

They were conversing in low, guarded tones in order not to be overheard by the captain and hands.

“I’ll confess now,” the younger of the two was saying, “that I never expected to get away from those cursed detectives so easily. It seems almost too good to be true.”

“Pooh!” sneered Grantley. “Like almost everybody else, including those who ought to know better, you have let yourself believe that Carter and his crowd come somewhere near living up to their newspaper reputations. That’s plain nonsense. They don’t. They’re greatly overrated. The detectives of fiction and those of fact are two very different propositions. I’ll admit that Nick Carter is a great deal cleverer than the police, but that isn’t saying much. He’s unusually lucky, too, and that accounts for most of his success, such as it has been. But I haven’t been afraid of him for a moment. Neither he nor anybody else could follow the trail we took, and nobody will think of looking for us on a canal boat. The idea that we would deliberately choose such an infernally slow means of transit will never occur to our enemies, confound them! We’re as safe right now as if we were five thousand{131} miles from New York. And we certainly did a good job. I almost wish I’d left Baldwin with enough mind to realize what had happened to him. I was a little too thorough. When they try the X rays on him, as they undoubtedly will, they will find his cranium absolutely empty. It will be a vast surprise to Vanderpool and the rest of the tribe of medical nincompoops. They’ll stand around in open-mouthed amazement, wondering how he can remain alive after such an operation. I set out to show them something, and I have done it, but I’m sorry now that I didn’t make a little more artistic job of it. I could have removed just enough of his brain to make him a mental wreck, and yet left enough to cause him the greatest anguish of mind over his condition. As it is now, he is nothing but an empty hulk, without intelligence enough to feed or dress himself. He’s deprived of everything but physical sensations, and most of those are missing or robbed of their greatest intensity.”

“I see what you mean, but I wouldn’t worry about that,” returned Siebold. “Your revenge is a thousand times better than killing would have been, and even if you haven’t left him with the power to think, you’ve given the others enough to think about. I’d have given a good deal to see Carter’s face when he opened that envelope and found the pieces of Baldwin’s check. I’ll wager that stumped him. He’ll puzzle over that until he’s black in the face, and never guess your motive for turning down all that money. Even if he knew about Felix Simmons he wouldn’t see through the rest—and he’ll never know about Simmons. It’s fortunate that Simmons{132}——”

The speaker paused abruptly, and he and Grantley looked at each other with a start of apprehension.

They had overheard one of the men on the barge calling to another as he pointed beyond the stern of the unwieldy craft, down the river.

“Look at that police boat footing it up this way, Tim!” were the words that had come to their ears. “Wonder what the cops are up to now?”

In a moment the attitudes of the two fugitives relaxed, and they smiled rather sheepishly. Guilty consciences are not agreeable traveling companions, but their self-confidence and contempt for their enemies reasserted themselves at once.

“This won’t do,” muttered Grantley. “We must get our confounded nerves under better control than that. There’s nobody after us here, and we know it. They’re all running around in circles back there, and we’ll have to stop shying at the mention of a policeman. Let’s have a look at the blamed boat, and then forget it when we’ve shown a little natural curiosity.”

Before they could rise, though, another of the boatmen gave an exclamation which halted the two criminals and left them tense and motionless.

“By George, they’ve done changed their course, an’ are headin’ right this way!” the man ejaculated. “Gosh! I ain’t cracked no safes, I’ll swear! How about you guys?”

The jocular query was addressed to the speaker’s fellows, but that did not give much comfort to the two skulkers in the shadow of the cabin. They decided to remain where they were until they saw which way the cat was going to jump.{133}

Meanwhile, however, Grantley thought it best to pull the wool over the boatmen’s eyes.

“What’s that I hear about a police boat?” he asked lazily. “Tell us when it comes abreast. We’re too darned comfortable here to get up for anything short of a battleship.”

The man made some laughing answer, and Grantley and Siebold managed to keep up a semblance of careless conversation to mask their anxiety.

They had had the best of reasons for believing that effective pursuit was out of the question, but at the approach of the police their guilty fears had instinctively flamed up.

Those who had been watching the boat approach had little doubt now that its business was with the little flotilla of barges, and their mystified comments caused the fugitives’ hearts to sink like lead.

It seemed incredible that their carefully concealed get-away had come to naught so soon. Surely the police boat was not after them. Perhaps one of the boatmen on the Mary Jane, or another of the canal boats, had knocked somebody down in some waterside quarrel. That must be it, and yet——

“Tug, ahoy, there!” an authoritative voice boomed through a megaphone. “Don’t be in a hurry! There are a couple of fellows we want back here.”

The voice was startlingly close, and the sound had hardly died away before the bow of the police boat came into view opposite the criminals’ position.

Their fears were uppermost now, and their terrorized instincts told them that the worst had happened.{134}

With one accord they rose to their feet, whipping out their automatics as they did so.

One penetrating glance was enough for them.

They recognized Nick and Chick, and realized that there was something vaguely familiar about the appearance of a third figure on the police boat’s deck—that of Jack Wise.

Before those about them knew what was happening, they had begun firing.

The tow was a big one, consisting of nine barges in all, lashed three abreast. Grantley and Siebold were on the left-hand barge in the first tier, counting from the front. Therefore, as the police boat had approached on the right, they were obliged to fire across two of the barges.

The approach of the official tug had drawn the attention of the boatmen on all of the barges. Two or three of these curious ones were almost within the line of fire, with their backs turned to the fugitives.

Siebold fired wildly, and one of the bystanders went down, with a groan. The rest scattered or threw themselves flat on the decks.

Grantley, however, in contrast to his nervous assistant, was perfectly cool. The detectives were hardly more than twenty feet away, despite the two intervening canal boats, and the scoundrelly surgeon began pumping away as fast as he could and with the steadiest of hands.

His first shot went just over the detectives’ heads, but the second one would doubtless have caught Nick full in the breast had it not been that the police boat grazed the side of the nearest barge at that moment.{135}

The result was that Nick and his companions were thrown off their balance for the time being, luckily for them. Their efforts to prevent themselves from falling were as effective as if they had been able—and willing—to dodge Grantley’s bullets.

The second of these ripped through Nick’s coat, gouging his side a little.

“Down!” commanded the detective, and, just as the fugitives fired again, the five detectives sank below the level of the police boat’s rail.

All but their heads and weapons, that is. They remained in sight, and their revolvers blazed away in a businesslike volley that woke the echoes of the New Jersey hills.

A naval battle in miniature was taking place off West Sixtieth Street, Manhattan.{136}



The strain had already proved a little too much for Siebold, who was not made of such stern stuff as Grantley. When the detectives dropped down behind the rail of the police craft the younger surgeon looked about him wildly for a hiding place.

He was close to the little companionway which led down a few steps into the barge’s stuffy cabin, and in his unreasoning terror he forgot that he would be bottled up effectually there, even if he should be able to reach that retreat with a whole skin.

With a cry of fear, he threw himself headforemost toward the sunken doorway of the cabin, but a bullet from Chick’s automatic caught him in the shoulder before he disappeared.

A howl of pain followed, and Siebold crumpled up in the doorway, just out of sight of his enemies, who promptly counted him out of their calculations.

Not so with Doctor Grantley, however.

That sturdy rascal had seen as quickly as Siebold had that their position was untenable. The detectives were under cover, while he was exposed. The sides of the canal boat rose only a few inches above the deck, so that there was no shelter corresponding to that of which the detectives had taken advantage so promptly.

In spite of his exposure, however, the murderous surgeon kept his head, and retreated slowly, firing{137} as he went. His shots did no more than to drive a big splinter of wood into Jack Wise’s cheek as they struck the rail of the police boat, but, on the other hand, he seemed to bear a charmed life.

The trouble was that the detectives were trying to wound him slightly in the hands or arms, for the purpose of ending his resistance—or, at least, of rendering him incapable of using his weapon.

Such shots are difficult ones, and that was especially true just then, for a strong wind had sprung up, and was causing the police boat to rock to one tune, and the ponderous barges to another and entirely different one.

Besides, the description of the affray had occupied much more time than the affair itself.

Grantley began to move as soon as Siebold did, but he deliberately took his time about it, being bent, presumably, upon showing his contempt for his enemies’ aim.

Nevertheless, it required only a few backward steps to bring him to the farther corner of the low cabin, beyond which he crouched, unscathed.

He had been wise enough to retreat in that direction, instead of trapping himself in the cabin. He was now shielded in much the same way as his opponents were, and there was only a narrow, open passageway between him and the water.

He could, therefore, fire over the top of the cabin when the detectives approached to dislodge him, and, whenever things got too hot for comfort, he could always plunge into the river and swim for it.

Nick had no intention of wasting more ammunition{138} under those circumstances. He had a plan ready the instant Grantley subsided behind the barge’s cabin.

“O’Brien, you and Gillespie stay on board here,” he said, addressing the two policemen in plain clothes, “and direct the pilot to drop back and then come alongside again beyond the canal boat. Meanwhile, my assistants and I will skip across the barges and smoke that fellow out. See the point? I want you to be between him and the Jersey shore, on the chance that he’ll escape us and dive overboard.”

“That’s the stuff!” was O’Brien’s enthusiastic answer.

He appreciated the quality of the detective’s strategy, and it is probable that, at the same time, he was willing enough to have Nick and his assistants bear the brunt of the danger. That was only natural.

No time was lost in carrying out Nick’s plan. The utmost haste was necessary, inasmuch as, for all they knew, Grantley might already have slipped into the water.

At a word from Nick, Jack and Chick jumped up and followed him on a run, after vaulting over to the deck of the nearest canal boat.

At the same instant the police boat began to back.

Grantley opened fire as soon as he had a target, and the detectives answered him, shot for shot; but no damage was done on either side. Only the upper part of the surgeon’s head showed above the barge’s cabin, and, on the other hand, those who were running over the pitching barges presented difficult marks.

Nick and his companions crossed the first canal{139} boat in a few bounds and jumped to the deck of the middle one of the three which lay side by side.

At that, Grantley ceased firing and his head disappeared. A moment later they heard a splash. The criminal had taken to the water, as Nick had anticipated.

Fortunately, it was broad daylight, and there seemed no likelihood that he could escape them, no matter how good a swimmer he might be, with the shore far away.

As it stood, the detectives were practically out of the race. They could have plunged in after Grantley, to be sure, but there did not appear to be any need of that, unless he should attempt to drown himself.

The police boat would have to take care of him now, and it was quite capable of doing so, to all appearance, although it might be two or three minutes before it could come up with him.

Nick and his assistants had forced the issue so suddenly and dauntlessly that the official craft was still backing past the long line of canal boats when Grantley took to the water. It would have to keep on until it was clear of them and had room enough to swing around and steam behind them.

After one glance at the head of the swimmer and another at the maneuvering police tug, Chick turned his attention to the game he had already brought down.

He did not believe that Siebold was plucky enough to try to shoot any of them in the back, but it was well to put him out of temptation.

As he had expected, the wounded man was too much{140} occupied with his own suffering and to what was going to happen to him to give any thought to revenge.

Chick disarmed and handcuffed him in short order, leaving him where he was.

By that time, a group of excited and curious boatmen had gathered about the detectives, drawn from the several canal boats when they decided that the danger was past.

Nick and his assistants answered their numerous questions briefly, but kept their eyes all the time on the fugitive, who was swimming strongly.

The police boat had been obliged to go astern for some distance downstream in order to get room enough to make the double turn around the string of canal boats, preparatory to straightening out in pursuit of Grantley.

Its bow was now pointed toward the New Jersey shore as it crossed behind the barges. It was about to swerve again and come up along the other side of the drifting tow when the surgeon suddenly and unexpectedly changed his course.

He had been swimming with lusty strokes straight for the western bank of the river, but now he swerved and started at an angle against the current.

His object was apparent at once, and the realization gave the onlookers a thrill.

A racing power boat of the Express type, the sole occupant of which was a pretty girl in oilskins and sou’wester, had been skimming up the river at reduced speed when the unusual encounter began.

The girl had passed the barges and was about opposite the tug which was towing them when the shoot{141}ing began. She had ducked out of harm’s way, but had slowed down. She was obviously determined to see all there was to see. Accordingly, when Grantley had jumped overboard she had waited only long enough to see that he did not strike out toward her; then she had shut off her power and turned her whole attention toward the novel sight.

When Grantley changed his course he headed directly for her boat.{142}



The girl had made a foolish mistake in throttling her engine, for the current was carrying her down to meet the desperate swimmer.

Nick’s men gasped involuntarily as they saw that Grantley could not fail to reach the power boat before the tug could overtake him, unless the frightened girl came to her senses and forged ahead again.

“Run for it, or he’ll board you!” shouted Chick through his cupped hands.

But the girl’s presence of mind seemed to have deserted her, or else she was torn between the desire for flight and some feminine notion that Grantley might be in distress and needed her help.

At any rate, she looked as if she did not know what to do, and she made no attempt to start the boat.

“Go, child, before it’s too late!” Nick called apprehensively. “If he gets control of your boat we can’t catch him—and he’s a fugitive from justice, who deserves nobody’s sympathy.”

But still she hesitated and looked about her wildly, while Chick and Jack Wise called to the police boat to hurry.

Grantley was within a few strokes of the power boat now, and both were too far from the detectives for the latter to do any good by jumping in.

“That’s a Simcoe Express,” Nick muttered to his first assistant, “and it’s good for at least twenty-five{143} knots an hour to the police boat’s twelve or fourteen. We must go——”

He did not finish his sentence, for Grantley had already laid one hand on the power boat’s gunwale, and was preparing to pull himself over the side.

“Jump overboard, girl!” the detective shouted peremptorily. “We’ll take care of you.”

For a tense moment he feared that the girl would not profit by this advice, either, but her fears got the upper hand when the fugitive’s pale face and glaring eyes came into view above the gunwale.

With a cry of terror, she threw herself over the opposite rail.

“Thank Heaven!” exclaimed Nick, under his breath. “Now that she’s out of the way——”

Again he broke off abruptly, but the action which followed immediately left no doubt of his meaning.

He sank down on one knee, steadied his pistol arm on the other, and took careful aim at the figure which was climbing over the side of the racing craft.

The police tug was coming, approaching now at full speed, but it was at least fifty yards behind.

Doctor Grantley had proved that he was too dangerous a man to dally with. If he was not effectually stopped at once, before he started that blue streak of a speed boat, there was no telling when they would see him again. He was doubtless familiar with marine engines of that type, otherwise he would not have headed for the boat. As soon as he started the powerful motor, he would fade away up the Hudson with the speed of a projectile, and there was no craft at hand that could keep him in sight.{144}

It was no time for halfway measures.

Grantley was climbing into the power boat from the other side. He exposed himself as little as possible as he came over the rail, but the target was big enough for Nick.

The detective’s automatic spoke just once, but the fugitive crumpled up over the gunwale, his legs in the water, his hands groping blindly over the rail of the craft.

A cheer went up from the boatmen, and Nick’s assistants joined in a sigh of relief. A moment later they were both in the water and swimming to the aid of the girl.

The police boat slid alongside the racer with reversed engines. Grantley was taken on board. It was found that he had been shot through the right breast. Nick had taken no chances.

The girl proved to be a good swimmer, but her fright had weakened her to an extent which made her very grateful for the young men’s assistance.

Chick and Jack helped her back to the boat, and, after the former had been transferred to the police tug, Jack piloted the racing craft back to the yacht club from which the girl had set out a short time before.

The wound was a clean one, and, in spite of his age, Doctor Grantley possessed a great deal of strength and endurance. He recovered rapidly, and in due time was put on trial. Doctor Siebold, Miss Rawlinson, the nurse, and Hoff, the German servant—the latter pair having been captured through the efforts of Patsy Gar{145}van and Ida Jones—were arraigned with him as accomplices.

There was another accomplice, however, who shared the ordeal with them, and whose arrest had caused a tremendous sensation in financial and social circles.

The fifth prisoner was Felix Simmons, another of the Wall Street money kings, and J. Hackley Baldwin’s rival.

The tearing up of the check for the quarter of a million dollars had started Nick Carter’s suspicions off on a new line.

Had Grantley merely wanted money he could have earned that sum legitimately, or even more than that, by bringing his great skill to bear—as he had actually done—on the multimillionaire’s eyes.

The fact that he had not been content with that, but had gone on and committed a revolting crime by literally robbing Baldwin of part of his brain, indicated that revenge of some sort had been his motive.

But even so, there would have been no reason, from his unscrupulous standpoint, for his refusing to profit financially by the first operation. His act in destroying the check seemed to show that somebody else was paying for the crime, and that, such being the case, Grantley felt that he could afford the luxury of spurning Baldwin’s two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

And that, in its turn, implied that the surgeon must have hated Baldwin so intensely that, criminal though he was, he could not bear to touch any of the millionaire’s money if his own wants could be supplied in any other way.

There had been several difficulties about this new{146} theory, notably the fact that Grantley had, apparently, been anxious to get hold of the check in the first place.

The more Nick puzzled over that, however, the more he became inclined to believe that the surgeon’s seeming eagerness to obtain the check had been due to pressure from a third person, his unknown backer.

If such a person existed, it would obviously have been to his interest to have Grantley obtain and seem to make use of the huge fee which Baldwin had promised, for that and Grantley’s own enmity toward the blind financier would supply a sufficient motive for the crime, and prevent the authorities from probing deep enough to discover the surgeon’s secret arrangement with this third person.

On the other hand, if Grantley were shown to have had a quarter of a million, as good as in his grasp, and to have failed to take full advantage of his opportunities, no mere motive of private vengeance would be likely to be accepted as an adequate explanation, and in that case the prosecution would probably attempt to dig up additional facts, to the great embarrassment of Grantley’s principal, or silent, partner.

Supposing such an individual to exist, that was the way the detective pictured him as reasoning. But it was hardly probable that any one of Baldwin’s financial enemies would have been willing to pay Grantley for the crime, and, at the same time, allow the surgeon to carry off a quarter of a million of the victim’s money in addition.

Therefore, it looked as if Grantley’s backer must have prevailed upon him to obtain the check, partly as{147} a blind, but with the understanding that it was to be turned over to him after the transaction had been covered up in some way.

If that were the explanation, it was plain that Grantley had proved false to the bargain. He had not only destroyed the check—which seemed to confirm Nick’s theory that he was not entitled to it, but was expected to pass it on to some one else—but he had, also, by sending the fragments to Nick, given the detective a broad hint that he was looking elsewhere for his pay.

Nick did not believe that Grantley had meant to do any more than indulge in a dramatic defiance, but that was the effect his act had had.

As for his apparent breaking of faith with his unknown confederate, that presented no great difficulties. Grantley would have been quite capable of such an act if he had already received his pay from that quarter. It would have meant neither financial loss nor physical danger to himself, and that was all that would have deterred him.

To make a long story short, the great detective had set to work along this line. With Grantley and his known accomplices safely in custody, he had ample time to carry the investigation as far as necessary.

It is enough to say that it confirmed his theories one after another.

First, he discovered that Doctor Grantley’s original motive had been one of private revenge, of a twofold character. The surgeon’s real name was not Grantley at all, but Standish. He had inherited quite a large sum of money, and, in their younger days, he and Bald{148}win had both loved the same girl. She had married the future financier and died a few years later.

Standish had foolishly blamed Baldwin for the girl’s preference, and had never forgiven him. He had subsequently changed his name to Grantley, which explained the fact that Baldwin had not suspected his identity.

Years afterward, Grantley, as he then called himself, had invested heavily in a certain copper company, not knowing that the corporation was secretly controlled by the blind financier. The venture happened to be one of Baldwin’s few failures, and Grantley had lost his entire investment.

Afterward, when he had learned of Baldwin’s connection with the punctured bubble, he had gone nearly mad with rage and the thirst for vengeance.

He had bided his time, however. After his sensational trial on the charge of manslaughter, he had decided that the time was ripe. His practice was already ruined, and he had little more to lose, whatever happened.

There was something else to be considered, however.

His income had long been dwindling and his trial had been expensive. He was badly in need of money, and, although he believed he could restore Baldwin’s sight, and thus technically earn a big fee, there were two difficulties in the way:

The first was that he rebelled at the thought of using his enemy’s money, after all that had happened, even though he considered Baldwin responsible for the loss of a small fortune of his own.

The second was that, even if he could bring himself{149} to accept such a fee, his contemplated revenge on the financier would almost certainly prove an effectual barrier between him and the collection of the fee.

While in this quandary, Grantley had thought of Felix Simmons. The latter was Baldwin’s greatest rival in the financial world, and he was personally known to Grantley.

The surgeon had treated him in a professional way some years before, and had reasons to know that Simmons was thoroughly unscrupulous whenever there appeared to be no chance of his being found out.

Accordingly, Grantley had approached Simmons on the sly, and a deal had resulted.

It would be worth millions to Simmons to have Baldwin eliminated from the financial game, and, therefore, he readily agreed to pay Grantley a very large sum—the exact amount was never established—if he could bring about that result.

There must be no suspicion, however, that Simmons had anything to do with the matter, and, to that end, Grantley was to appear anxious to obtain the fee which Baldwin had promised. This fee, however, was to be turned over to Simmons in such a way that his relations with the surgeon should not be disclosed.

In that manner the shrewd Grantley had made sure of a new fortune, irrespective of the success of the operation on Baldwin’s eyes, or his ability to realize on that before the crash of discovery came.

The operations had been performed and the crime committed. Simmons, in disguise, had managed to evade the watchful detectives, and had seen for him{150}self that Grantley had carried out his part of the compact.

He had thereupon paid him the sum agreed upon, in gold, so that there would be no possibility of its being traced to him. Being constitutionally crooked, however, Grantley had failed to carry out his agreement in regard to Baldwin’s check.

His hatred of Baldwin prevented him from trying to realize on it himself. Moreover, he had good reason to fear that Nick Carter would not let him do so, in any case.

But when it came down to it, he could not endure the thought of turning it over to Simmons, for that would be reimbursing Simmons for the amount he had spent on Grantley, and in that case the crooked financier would be paying nothing for the great advantage that would come to him through Baldwin’s withdrawal from the game.

In short, Grantley decided to double cross his powerful confederate, feeling sure that Simmons was not in a position to expose him.

He had not dreamed of the use to which Nick Carter would put the destruction of the check, but even if he had, it is more than likely that he would have persisted. Misery likes company, they say, and it is certain that, when Grantley found himself in the toils, he was glad to see Felix Simmons in a similar plight.

Nick established enough of these facts to convict all of the criminals, and they were sent to prison for long terms.{151}



It was several months after the conviction of Grantley and his confederates that the members of Nick Carter’s household all happened to meet at the breakfast table—a rather unusual circumstance.

The famous New York detective sat at the head of the table. Ranged about it were Chick, Patsy Garvan, and the latter’s young wife, Adelina, and Ida Jones, Nick’s beautiful woman assistant.

It was the latter who held the attention of her companions at that moment. She was a little late, and had just seated herself. Her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes gave no hint that she had reached the house—they all shared the detective’s hospitable roof—a little after three o’clock that morning.

“You good people certainly missed a sensation last night,” she declared. “It was the strangest thing—and one of the most pitiable I ever beheld!”

Nick, who had been glancing at his favorite newspaper, looked up.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

It was Ida’s turn to show surprise.

“Is it possible you don’t know, any of you?” she demanded, looking around the table. “Haven’t you read of Helga Lund’s breakdown, or whatever it was?”

Helga Lund, the great Swedish actress, who was electrifying New York that season in a powerful play, “The Daughters of Men,” had consented, in response{152} to many requests, to give a special midnight performance, in order that the many actors and actresses in the city might have an opportunity to see her in her most successful rôle at an hour which would not conflict with their own performances.

The date had been set for the night before, and, since it was not to be exclusively a performance for professionals, the manager of the theater, who was a friend of Nick Carter’s, had presented the detective with a box.

Much to Nick’s regret, however, and that of his male assistants, an emergency had prevented them from attending. To cap the climax, Adelina Garvan had not been feeling well, so decided not to go. Consequently, Ida Jones had occupied the box with several of her friends.

Nick shook his head in response to his pretty assistant’s question.

“I haven’t, anyway,” he said, glancing from her face back to his paper. “Ah, here’s something about it—a long article!” he added. “I haven’t seen it before. It looks very serious. Tell us all about it.”

Ida needed no urging, for she was full of her subject.

“Oh, it was terrible!” she exclaimed, shuddering. “Helga Lund had been perfectly wonderful all through the first and second acts. I don’t know when I have been so thrilled. But soon after the third act began she stopped right in the middle of an impassioned speech and stared fixedly into the audience, apparently at some one in one of the front rows of the orchestra.{153}

“I’m afraid I can’t describe her look. It seemed to express merely recollection and loathing at first, as if she had recognized a face which had very disagreeable associations. Then her expression—as I read it, at any rate—swiftly changed to one of frightened appeal, and then it jumped to one of pure harrowing terror.

“My heart stopped, and the whole theater was as still as a death chamber—at least, the audience was. Afterward I realized that the actor who was on the stage with her at the time had been improvising something in an effort to cover up her lapse; but I don’t believe anybody paid any attention to him, any more than she did. Her chin dropped, her eyes were wild and seemed ready to burst from their sockets. She put both hands to her breast, and then raised one and passed it over her forehead in a dazed sort of way. She staggered, and I believe she would have fallen if her lover in the play hadn’t supported her.

“The curtain had started to descend, when she seemed to pull herself together. She pushed the poor actor aside with a strength that sent him spinning, and began to speak. Her voice had lost all of its wonderful music, however, and was rough and rasping. Her grace was gone, too—Heaven only knows how! She was positively awkward. And her words—they couldn’t have had anything to do with her part. They were incoherent ravings. The curtain had started to go up again. Evidently, the stage manager had thought the crisis was past when she began to speak. But when she only made matters worse, it came down with a rush. After a maddening delay, her manager came out, looking wild enough himself, and announced,{154} with many apologies, that Miss Lund had suffered a temporary nervous breakdown.”

Nick Carter had listened intently, now and then scanning the article which described the affair.

“Too bad!” he commented soberly, when Ida had finished. “But haven’t you any explanation, either? The paper doesn’t seem to have any—at least, it doesn’t give any.”

A curious expression crossed Ida’s face.

“I had forgotten for the moment,” she replied. “I haven’t told you one of the strangest things about it. In common with everybody else, I was so engrossed in watching Helga Lund’s face that I didn’t have much time for anything else. That is why there wasn’t a more general attempt to see whom she was looking at. We wouldn’t ordinarily have been very curious, but she held our gaze so compellingly. I did manage to tear my eyes away once, though; but I wasn’t in a position to see—I was too far to one side. She appeared to be looking at some one almost on a line with our box, but over toward the other side of the theater. I turned my glasses in that direction for a few moments and thought I located the person, a man, but, of course, I couldn’t be sure. I could only see his profile, but his expression seemed to be very set, and he was leaning forward a little, in a tense sort of way.”

Nick nodded, as if Ida’s words had confirmed some theory which he had already formed.

“But what was so strange about him?” he prompted.

“Oh, it doesn’t mean anything, of course,” was the reply; “but he bore the most startling resemblance to Doctor Hiram Grantley. If I hadn’t known that{155} Grantley was safe in Sing Sing for a long term of years, I’m afraid I would have sworn that it was he.”

The detective gave Ida a keen, slightly startled look.

“Well, stranger things than that have happened in our experience,” he commented thoughtfully. “I haven’t any reason to believe, though, that Grantley is at large again. He would be quite capable of what you have described, but surely Kennedy would have notified me before this if——”

The telephone had just rung, and, before Nick could finish his sentence, Joseph, his butler, entered. His announcement caused a sensation. It was:

“Long distance, Mr. Carter. Warden Kennedy, of Sing Sing, wishes to speak with you.”

The detective got up quickly, without comment, and stepped out into the hall, where the nearest instrument of the several in the house was located.

Patsy Garvan gave a low, expressive whisper.

“Suffering catfish!” he ejaculated. “It looks as if you were right, Ida!”

After that he relapsed into silence and listened, with the others. Nick had evidently interrupted the warden.

“Just a moment, Kennedy,” they heard him saying. “I think I can guess what you have to tell me. It’s Doctor Grantley who has escaped, isn’t it?”

Naturally, the warden’s reply was inaudible, but the detective’s next words were sufficient confirmation.

“I thought so,” Nick said, in a significant tone. “One of my assistants was just telling me of having seen, last night, a man who looked surprisingly like him. When did you find out that he was missing?...{156} As early as that?... I see.... Yes, I’ll come up, if necessary, as soon as I can; but first I must set the ball rolling here. I think we already have a clew. I’ll call you up later.... Yes, certainly.... Yes, good-by!”

A moment later he returned to the dining room.

“Maybe your eyes didn’t deceive you, after all, Ida,” he announced gravely. “Grantley escaped last night—in time to have reached the theater for the third act of that special performance, if not earlier. And it looks as if he subjected one of the keepers of the prison to an ordeal somewhat similar to that which Helga Lund seems to have endured.{157}



“What do you mean by that, chief?” demanded Chick.

“Kennedy says that one of the keepers was found, in a peculiar sort of stupor, as he calls it, in Grantley’s cell, after the surgeon had gone. He had evidently been overpowered in some way, and his keys had been taken from him. Kennedy assumes, rightly enough, I suppose, that Grantley lured him into the cell on some pretext, and then tried his tricks. The man is still unconscious, and the prison physician can do nothing to help him. Kennedy wants me to come up.”

“But I don’t see what that has to do with Helga Lund,” objected Chick. “Even if it was Grantley that Ida saw—which remains to be proved—I don’t see any similarity. He didn’t render her unconscious, and, anyway, he wasn’t near enough to——”

“Think it over, Chick,” the detective interrupted. “The significance will reach you, by slow freight, sooner or later, I’m sure. I, for one, haven’t any doubt that Ida saw the fugitive last night. If so, Grantley did a very daring thing to go there without any attempt at disguise—not as daring as might be supposed, however. He doubtless counted on just what happened. If any one who knew him by sight had noticed him in the theater, the supposition would naturally be that it was a misleading resemblance.

“There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that he dis{158}guised himself carefully enough for his flight from Sing Sing, and covered his tracks with unusual care, for Kennedy has been unable to obtain any reliable information about his movements. If he was at the play, we may be sure that he restored his normal appearance deliberately, in defiance of the risks involved, in order that one person, at least, should recognize him without fail—that person being Helga Lund. And that implies that he was again actuated primarily by motives of private revenge, as in the case of Baldwin.

“The scoundrel seems to have a supply of enemies in reserve, and is willing to go to any lengths in order to revenge himself upon them for real or fancied grievances. If he’s the man who broke up Lund’s performance last night, it is obvious that he knew of the special occasion and the unusual hour before he made his escape. In fact, it seems probable that he escaped when he did for the purpose of committing this latest outrage. Even if his chief object has been attained, however, I don’t imagine he will return to Sing Sing and give himself up. We shall have to get busy, and, perhaps, keep so for some time. Plainly, the first thing for me to do is to seek an interview with Helga Lund, if she is in a condition to receive me. She can tell, if she will, who or what it was that caused her breakdown. If there turns out to be no way of connecting it with Grantley, we shall have to begin our work at Sing Sing. If it was Grantley, we shall begin here. Did you see anything more of the man you noticed, Ida?”

“Nothing more worth mentioning. He slipped out quickly as soon as the curtain went down; but lots of{159} others were doing the same, although many remained and exchanged excited conjectures. I left the box when I saw him going, but by the time I reached the lobby he was nowhere in sight, and I couldn’t find any one who had noticed him.”

“Too bad! Then there’s nothing to do but try to see Helga. The rest of you had better hang around the house until you hear from me. Whatever the outcome, I shall probably want you all on the jump before long.”

Nick hastily finished his breakfast, while his assistants read him snatches from the accounts in the various morning newspapers. In that way he got the gist of all that had been printed in explanation of the actress’ “attack” and in regard to her later condition.

All of the accounts agreed in saying that Helga Lund was in seclusion at her hotel, in a greatly overwrought state, and that two specialists and a nurse were in attendance.

The prospect of a personal interview with her seemed exceedingly remote; but Nick Carter meant to do his best, unless her condition absolutely forbade.

Nick had learned from the papers that Helga Lund was staying at the Wentworth-Belding Hotel. Accordingly, he drove there in one of his motor cars and sent a card up to her suite. On it he scribbled a request for a word with one of the physicians or the nurse.

Doctor Lightfoot, a well-known New York physician, with a large practice among theatrical people, received him in one of the rooms of the actress’ suite.

He seemed surprised at the detective’s presence, but{160} Nick quickly explained matters to his satisfaction. Miss Lund, it seemed, was in a serious condition. She had gone to pieces mentally, passed a sleepless night, most of the time walking the floor, and appeared to be haunted by the conviction that her career was at an end.

She declared that she would not mind so much if it had happened before any ordinary audience, but, as it was, she had made a spectacle of herself before hundreds of the members of her own profession. That thought almost crazed her, and she insisted wildly that she would never regain enough confidence to appear in public again.

If that was the case, it was nothing short of a tragedy, in view of her great gifts.

Doctor Lightfoot hoped, however, that she would ultimately recover from the shock of her experience, although he stated that it would be months, at least, before she was herself again. Meanwhile, all of her engagements would have to be canceled, of course.

In response to Nick’s questions, the physician assured him that Helga Lund had given no adequate explanation of her startling behavior of the night before. She had simply said that she had recognized some one in the audience, that the recognition had brought up painful memories, and that she had completely forgotten her lines and talked at random. She did not know what she had said or done.

Her physicians realized that she was keeping something back, and had pleaded with her to confide fully in them as a means of relieving her mind from the weight that was so evidently pressing upon it. But she{161} had refused to do so, having declared that it would serve no good purpose, and that the most they could do was to restore her shattered nerves.

The detective was not surprised at this attitude, which, as a matter of fact, paved the way to an interview with the actress.

“In that case I think you will have reason to be glad I came,” he told Doctor Lightfoot. “I believe I know, in general, what happened last night, and if you will give me your permission to see Miss Lund alone for half an hour, I have hope of being able to induce her to confide in me. My errand does not reflect upon her in any way, nor does it imply the slightest danger or embarrassment to her, so far as I am aware. My real interest lies elsewhere, but you will readily understand how it might help her and reënforce your efforts if I could induce her to unbosom herself.”

“There isn’t any doubt about that, Carter,” was the doctor’s reply; “but it’s a risky business. She is in a highly excitable state, and uninvited calls from men of your profession are not apt to be soothing, no matter what their object may be. How do you know that some ghost of remorse is not haunting her. If so, you would do much more harm than good.”

“If she saw the person I think she saw in the audience last night,” Nick replied, “it’s ten to one that the remorse is on the other side—or ought to be. If I am mistaken, a very few sentences will prove it, and I give you my word that I shall do my best to quiet any fears my presence may have aroused, and withdraw at once. On the other hand, if I am right, I can convince her that I am her friend, and that I know enough to make{162} it worth her while to shift as much of her burden as possible to me. If she consents, the tension will be removed at once, and she will be on the road to recovery. And, incidentally, I shall have gained some very important information.”

The detective was prepared, if necessary, to be more explicit with Doctor Lightfoot; but the latter, after looking Nick over thoughtfully for a few moments, gave his consent.

“I’ve always understood that you always know what you are about, Carter,” he said. “There is nothing of the blunderer or the brute about you, as there is about almost all detectives. On the contrary, I am sure you are capable of using a great deal of tact, aside from your warm sympathies. My colleague isn’t here now, and I am taking a great responsibility on my shoulders in giving you permission to see Miss Lund alone at such a time. She is a great actress, remember, and, if it is possible, we must give her back to the world with all of her splendid powers unimpaired. She is like a musical instrument of incredible delicacy, so, for Heaven’s sake, don’t handle her as if she were a hurdy-gurdy!”

“Trust me,” the famous detective said quietly.

“Then wait,” was the reply, and the physician hurried from the room.

Two or three minutes later he returned.

“Come,” he said. “I have prepared her—told her you are a specialist in psychology, which is true, of course, in one sense. You can tell her the truth later, if all goes well.{163}



Nick was led through a couple of sumptuously furnished rooms into the great Swedish actress’ presence.

Helga Lund was a magnificently proportioned woman, well above medium height, and about thirty years of age.

She wore a loose, filmy negligee of silk and lace, and its pale blue was singularly becoming to her fair skin and golden hair. Two thick, heavy ropes of the latter hung down far below her waist.

She was not merely pretty, but something infinitely better—she had the rugged statuesque beauty of a goddess in face and form.

She was pacing the floor like a caged lioness when Nick entered. Her head was thrown back and her hands were clasped across her forehead, allowing the full sleeves to fall away from her perfectly formed, milk-white arms.

“Miss Lund, this is Mr. Carter, of whom I spoke,” Doctor Lightfoot said gently. “He believes he can help you. I shall leave you with him, but I will be within call.”

He withdrew softly and closed the door. They were alone.

The actress turned for the first time, and a pang shot through the tender-hearted detective as he saw the tortured expression of her face.

She nodded absent-mindedly, but did not speak.{164}

“Miss Lund,” the detective began, “I trust you will believe that I would not have intruded at this time if I hadn’t believed that I might possibly possess the key to last night’s unfortunate occurrence, and that——”

“You—the key? Impossible, sir!” the actress interrupted, in the precise but rather labored English which she had acquired in a surprisingly short time in anticipation of her American tour.

“We shall soon be able to tell,” Nick replied. “If I am wrong, I assure you that I shall not trouble you any further. If I am right, however, I hope to be able to help you. In an case, you may take it for granted that I am not trying to pry into your affairs. I have seen you on the stage more than once, both here and abroad. It is needless to say that I have the greatest admiration for your genius. Beyond that I know nothing about you, except what I have read.”

“Then, will you explain—briefly? You see that I am in no condition to talk.”

“I see that talking, of the right kind, would be the best thing for you, if the floodgates could be opened, Miss Lund,” Nick answered sympathetically. “I shall do better than explain; with your permission, I shall ask you a question.”

“What is it?”

“Simply this: Are you acquainted with a New York surgeon who goes by the name of Doctor Grantley—Hiram A. Grantley?”

The actress, who had remained standing, started slightly at the detective’s words. Her bosom rose and fell tumultuously, and her clenched hands were raised to it, as Ida Jones had described them.{165}

A look of mingled amazement and fright overspread her face.

Nick did not wait for her to reply, nor did he tell her that it was unnecessary. Nevertheless, he had already received his answer and it gave him the greatest satisfaction.

He was on the right track.

“Before you reply, let me say this,” he went on quickly, in order to convince her that she had nothing to fear from him: “Grantley is one of the worst criminals living, and it is solely because our laws are still inadequate in certain ways that he is alive to-day. As it is, he is a fugitive, an escaped prisoner, with a long term still to serve. He escaped last night, but he will undoubtedly be caught soon, despite his undeniable cleverness, and returned to the cell which awaits him. Now you may answer, if you please.”

He was, of course, unaware of the extent of Helga Lund’s knowledge of Grantley. It might not be news to her, but he wished—in view of the actress’ evident fear of Grantley—to prove to her that he himself could not possibly be there in the surgeon’s interest.

His purpose seemed to have been gained. Unless he was greatly mistaken, a distinct relief mingled with the surprise which was stamped on Helga’s face.

“He is a—criminal, you say?” she breathed eagerly, leaning forward, forgetful that she had not admitted any knowledge of Grantley at all.

“You do not know what has happened to Doctor Grantley here in the last year?”

“No,” was the reply. “I have never been in America{166} before, and I have never even acted in England. I do not read the papers in English.”

“You met Grantley abroad, then, some years ago, perhaps?”

The actress realized that she had committed herself. She delayed for some time before she replied, and when she did, it was with a graceful gesture of surrender.

“I will tell you all there is to tell, Mr. Carter,” she said, “if you will give me your word as a gentleman that the facts will not be communicated to the newspapers until I give you permission. Will you? I think I have guessed your profession, but I am sure I have correctly gauged your honor.”

“I promise you that no word will find its way, prematurely, into print through me,” Nick declared readily. “I am a detective, as you seem to have surmised, Miss Lund. I called on you, primarily, to get a clew to the whereabouts of Doctor Grantley, but, as I told you, I am confident that it will have a beneficial effect on you to relieve your mind and to be assured, in return, that Grantley is a marked and hunted man, and that every effort will be made to prevent him from molesting you any further.”

“Thank you, Mr. Carter,” the actress responded, throwing herself down on a couch and tucking her feet under her.

The act suggested that her mental tension was already lessened to a considerable degree.

“There is very little to tell,” she went on, after a slight pause, “and I should certainly have confided in my physicians if I had seen any use in doing so. It{167} is nothing I need be ashamed of, I assure you. I did meet Doctor Grantley—to my sorrow—five years ago, in Paris. He was touring Europe at the time, and I was playing in the French capital. He was introduced to me as a distinguished American surgeon, and at first I found him decidedly interesting, despite—or, perhaps, because of—his eccentricities. Almost at once, however, he began to pay violent court to me. He was much older than I, and I could not think of him as a husband without a shudder. With all his brilliancy, there was something sinister and cruel about him, even then. I tried to dismiss him as gently as I knew how, but he would not admit defeat. He persisted in his odious attentions, and one day he seized me in his arms and was covering my face and neck with his detestable kisses, when a good friend, a young Englishman, was announced. My friend was big and powerful, a trained athlete. I was burning with shame and rage. I turned Doctor Grantley over to his tender mercies and left the room. Doctor Grantley was very strong, but he was no match for the Englishman. I am afraid he was maltreated rather severely. At any rate, he was thrown out of the hotel, and I did not see him again until last night. He wrote me a threatening letter, however, to the effect that he would have his revenge some day and ruin my career.

“I was greatly frightened at first, but, as time passed and nothing happened, I forgot him. Last night, those terrible, compelling eyes of his drew mine irresistibly. I simply had to look toward him, and when I did so, my heart seemed to turn to a lump of ice. I forgot my lines—everything. I knew what he meant to do,{168} but I could not resist him. He was my master, and he was killing my art, my mastery. I was a child, a witless fool, in his hands. My brain was in chaos. I tried to rally my forces, to go on with my part, but it was impossible. I did manage to speak, but I do not know what I said, and no one will tell me. Doubtless, I babbled or raved, and the words were not mine. They were words of delirium, or, worse still, words which his powerful brain of evil put into my mouth.”

Helga Lund halted abruptly and threw out her hands again in an expressive gesture.

“That is all, Mr. Carter,” she added. “It was not my guilty conscience which made me afraid of him, you see. As for his whereabouts, I can tell you nothing. I did not know that he had been in trouble, although I am not surprised. I had neither heard nor seen anything of him since he wrote me, five years ago. Consequently, I fear I can be of no assistance to you in locating him—unless he should make another attempt of some sort on me, and Heaven forbid that!”

“I have learned that he was here last night,” said Nick, “and that is all I hoped for. That will give us a point of departure. I assure you that I greatly appreciate your confidence, and that I shall not violate it. With your permission, I shall tell your physicians just enough, in general terms, to give them a better understanding of your trouble. It will be best, for the present, to let the public believe that you are the victim of a temporary nervous breakdown, but I should strongly advise you to allow the facts to become known as soon as Grantley is captured. It will be good advertising, as we say over here, and, at the same time, it will stop{169} gossip and dispel the mystery. It will also serve to reassure your many admirers, because it will give, for the first time, an adequate explanation, and prove that the cause of your mental disturbance has been removed.”

The actress agreed to this, and Nick Carter took leave of her, after promising to apprehend Grantley as soon as possible and to keep her informed of the progress of his search.

Before he left the hotel he had a short talk with Doctor Lightfoot, which gave promise of a more intelligent handling of the case, aside from the benefit which Helga Lund had already derived from her frank talk with the sympathetic detective.

The man hunt could now begin in New York City, instead of at Ossining, and, since the preliminaries could be safely intrusted to his assistants, Nick decided to comply with Warden Kennedy’s urgent request and run up to the prison to see what he could make of the keeper’s condition.{170}



The great detective set his men to work and called up the prison before leaving New York. As a result of the telephone conversation, the warden gave up the search for the fugitive in the neighborhood of Ossining.

Ossining is up the Hudson, about an hour’s ride, by train, from the metropolis. It did not take Nick long to reach his destination.

He found Warden Kennedy in the latter’s office, and listened to a characteristic account of Doctor Grantley’s escape, which—in view of the fugitive’s subsequent appearance at the theater—need not be repeated here.

Bradley, the keeper, was still unconscious, and nobody seemed to know what was the matter with him. Nick had a theory, which almost amounted to a certainty; but it remained to confirm it by a personal examination.

The warden presently led the way to the prison hospital, where the unfortunate keeper lay. No second glance was necessary to convince the detective that he had been right.

The man was in a sort of semirigid state, curiously like that of a trance. All ordinary restoratives had been tried and had failed, yet there did not appear to be anything alarming about his condition.

The prison physician started to describe the efforts{171} which had been made, but Nick interrupted him quietly.

“Never mind about that, doctor,” he said. “I know what is the matter with him, and I believe I can revive him—unless Grantley has blocked the way.”

“Is it possible!” exclaimed Kennedy and the doctor, in concert. “What is it?” added the former, while the latter demanded: “What do you mean by ‘blocking the way’?”

“Your ex-guest hypnotized him, Kennedy,” was the simple reply, “and, as I have had more or less experience along that line myself, I ought to be able to bring Bradley out of the hypnotic sleep, providing the man who plunged him into it did not impress upon his victim’s mind too strong a suggestion to the contrary. Grantley has gone deep into hypnotism, and it is possible that he has discovered some way of preventing a third person from reviving his subjects. There would have been nothing for him to gain by it in this case, but he may—out of mere malice—have thrown Bradley under a spell which no one but he can break. Let us hope not, however.”

“Hypnotism, eh?” ejaculated Kennedy. “By the powers, why didn’t we think of that, doctor?”

The prison physician hastily sought an excuse for his ignorance, but, as a matter of fact, he could not be greatly blamed. He was not one of the shining lights of his profession, as his not very tempting position proved, and comparatively few medical practitioners have had any practical experience with hypnotism or its occasional victims.

Nick Carter, on the other hand, had made an exhaus{172}tive study of the subject, both from a theoretical and a practical standpoint, and had often had occasion to utilize his extensive knowledge.

While Warden Kennedy, the physician, and a couple of nurses leaned forward curiously, the detective bent over the figure on the narrow white bed and rubbed the forehead and eyes a few times, in a peculiar way.

Then he spoke to the man.

“Come, wake up, Bradley!” he said commandingly. “I want you! You’re conscious! You’re answering me. You cannot resist! Get up!”

And to the amazement of the onlookers, the keeper opened his eyes in a dazed, uncomprehending sort of way, threw his feet over the edge of the bed, and sat up.

“What is it? Where have I been?” he asked, looking about him. And then he added, in astonishment: “What—what am I doing here?”

“You’ve been taking a long nap, but you’re all right now, Bradley,” the detective assured him. “You remember what happened, don’t you?”

For a few moments the man’s face was blank, but soon a look of shamed understanding, mingled with resentment, overspread it.

“It was that cursed Number Sixty Thousand One Hundred and Thirteen!” he exclaimed, giving Grantley’s prison number. “He called to me, while I was making my rounds—was it last night?”

Nick nodded, and the keeper went on:

“What do you know about that! Is he gone?”

This time it was the warden who replied.

“Yes, he’s skipped, Bradley; but we know he was{173} down in New York later in the night, and Carter here can be counted on to bring him back, sooner or later.”

Kennedy had begun mildly enough, owing to the experience which his subordinate had so recently undergone, but, at this point, the autocrat in him got the better of his sympathy.

“What the devil did you mean, though, by going into his cell, keys and all, like a confounded imbecile?” he demanded harshly. “Isn’t that the first thing you had drilled into that reënforced-concrete dome of yours—not to give any of these fellows a chance to jump you when you have your keys with you? If you hadn’t fallen for his little game——”

“But I didn’t fall for nothing, warden!” the keeper interrupted warmly. “I didn’t go into his cell at all. I know better than that, believe me!”

“You didn’t—what? What are you trying to put over, Bradley?” Kennedy burst out. “You were found in his cell, with the door unlocked and the keys gone, not to mention Number Sixty Thousand One Hundred and Thirteen, curse him! Maybe that ain’t proof.”

“It ain’t proof,” insisted the keeper, “no matter how it looks. He called to me, and I started toward the grating to see what he wanted. He fixed his eyes on me, like he was looking me through and through, and made some funny motions with his hands. I’ll swear that’s all I remember. If I was found in his cell, I don’t know how I got there, or anything about it, so help me!”

The warden started to give Bradley another tongue-lashing, but Nick interposed.

“He’s telling the truth, Kennedy,” he said.{174}

“But how in thunder——”

“Very easily. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but it is evident that Grantley hypnotized him through the bars and then commanded him to unlock the door and come inside. There is nothing in hypnotism to interfere; on the contrary, that would be the easiest and surest thing to do, under the circumstances. Grantley is too clever to try any of the old, outworn devices—such as feigning sickness, for instance—in order to get a keeper in his power. All that was necessary was for him to catch Bradley’s eye. The rest was as easy as rolling off a log. When he got our friend inside, he put him to sleep, took his keys and his outer clothing, and then—good-by, Sing Sing! It’s rather strange that he succeeded in getting away without discovery of the deception, but he evidently did; or else he bribed somebody. You might look into that possibility, if you think best. The supposition isn’t essential, however, for accident, or good luck, might easily have aided him. As for the means he used to cover his trail after leaving the vicinity of the prison, we need not waste any time over that question. Fortunately, we have hit upon his trail down the river, and all that remains to do is to keep on it, in the right direction, until we come up with him. It may be a matter of hours or days or months, but Grantley is going to be brought back here before we’re through. You can bank on that, gentlemen. And when I return him to you it will be up to you to take some extraordinary precautions to see that he doesn’t hypnotize any more keepers.”

“I guess that’s right, Carter,” agreed Warden Kennedy, tugging at his big mustache. “Bolts and bars{175} are no good to keep in a man like that, who can make anybody let him out just by looking at him and telling him to hand over the keys. I suppose I’d have done it, too, if I’d been in Bradley’s place.”

“Exactly!” the detective responded, with a laugh. “You couldn’t have helped yourself. Don’t worry, though. I think we can keep him from trying any more tricks of that sort, when we turn him over to you again.”

“Hanged if I see how, unless we give him a dose of solitary confinement, in a dark cell, and have the men blindfold themselves when they poke his food in through the grating.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Nick assured the warden as he prepared to leave. “We can get around it easier than that.”

Half an hour later Nick was on his way back to New York City.

He was not as light-hearted or confident as he had allowed Warden Kennedy to suppose, however.

The fact that Grantley had turned to that mysterious and terrifying agency, hypnotism, with all of its many evil possibilities, caused him profound disquiet.

Already the fugitive had used his mastery of the uncanny force in two widely different ways: He had escaped from prison with startling ease by means of it, and then, not content with that, he had hypnotized a famous actress in the midst of one of her greatest triumphs—for Nick had known all along that Helga Lund had yielded to hypnotic influence.{176}



Grantley’s trail vanished into thin air—or seemed to—very quickly.

Nick Carter and his assistants had comparatively little trouble in finding the hotel which the fugitive had patronized the night before, but their success amounted to little.

Grantley had arrived there at almost one o’clock in the morning and signed an assumed name on the register. He brought a couple of heavy suit cases with him.

He had not been in prison long enough to acquire the characteristic prison pallor to an unmistakable degree, and a wig had evidently concealed his closely cropped hair.

He was assigned to an expensive room, but left his newly acquired key at the desk a few minutes later, and sallied forth on foot.

The night clerk thought nothing of his departure at the time, owing to the fact that the Times Square hotel section is quite accustomed to the keeping of untimely hours.

That was the last any of the hotel staff had seen of him, however. His baggage was still in his room, but, upon investigation, it was found to contain an array of useless and valueless odds and ends, obviously thrown in merely to give weight and bulk. In other words, the suit cases had been packed in anticipation of their abandonment.{177}

It seemed likely that the doctor had had at least one accomplice in his flight, for the purpose of aiding him in his arrangements. But not necessarily so.

If he had received such assistance, it was quite possible that one of the six young physicians, who had formerly been associated with him in his unlawful experiments, had lent the helping hand.

Nick had kept track of them for some time, and now he determined to look them up again.

It was significant, however, that Grantley had, apparently, made no provision for the escape of Doctor Siebold, his assistant, who had been in Sing Sing with him.

In the flight which had followed their ghastly crime against the blind financier, Siebold had shown the white feather, and it was easy to believe that the stern, implacable Grantley had no further use for his erstwhile associate.

There was no reason to doubt that the escaped convict had gone directly to the theater after leaving the hotel. But why had he gone to the latter at all, and what had become of him after he had broken up Helga Lund’s play?

There was no reasonable doubt that Grantley had disguised himself pretty effectually for his flight from Ossining to New York, and yet the night clerk’s description was that of Grantley himself.

It followed, therefore, that the fugitive had already shed his disguise somewhere in the big city. But why not have gone directly from that stopping place, wherever it was, to the theater?

Nick gave it up as unimportant. The hotel episode{178} did not seem to have served any desirable purpose, from Grantley’s standpoint, unless on the theory that it was simply meant to confuse the detectives.

However that might be, it would be much more worth while to know what the surgeon’s movements had been after his dastardly attack on the actress.

Had he gone to another hotel, in disguise or otherwise? Had he returned to his former house in the Bronx, which had been closed up since his removal to Sing Sing? Had he left town, or—well, done any one of a number of things?

There was room only for shrewd guesswork, for the most part.

An exhaustive search of the hotels failed to reveal his presence at any of them that night or later. The closed house in the Bronx was inspected, with a similar result.

That was about as far as the detective got along that line. Nick had a feeling that the fellow was still in New York. He had once tried to slip away in an unusually clever fashion, and had come to grief. It was fair to assume, therefore, that he would not make a second attempt, especially in view of the fact that the metropolis offers countless hiding places and countless multitudes to shield a fugitive.

If he was still in the city, though, he was almost unquestionably in disguise; and he could be counted on to see that that disguise was an exceptionally good one.

Certainly, the prospect was not an encouraging one. The proverbial needle in a haystack would have been easy to find in comparison.{179}

And, meanwhile, Helga Lund would not know what real peace of mind was until she was informed that her vindictive persecutor had been captured.

Three days was spent in this fruitless tracking, and then, in the absence of tangible clews, the great detective turned to something which had often met with surprising success in the past.

He banished everything else from his mind and tried to put himself, in imagination, in Doctor Grantley’s place.

What would this brilliant, erratic, but misguided genius, with all of his unbridled enmities and his criminal propensities, have done that night, after having escaped from prison and brought Helga Lund’s performance to such an untimely and harrowing close?

It was clear that much depended on the depth of his hatred for the actress who had repulsed him five years before. Undoubtedly his enmity for the beautiful Swede was great, else he would not have timed his escape as he had done, or put the first hours of his liberty to such a use.

But would he have been content with what he had done that first night? If he had considered his end accomplished, he might have shaken the dust of New York from his feet at once. On the other hand, if his thirst for revenge had not yet been slaked, it was probable that he was still lurking near, ready to follow up his first blow with others.

The more Nick thought about it the more certain he became that the latter supposition was nearer the truth than the former. Grantley had caused Helga Lund to break down completely before one of the most{180} important and critical audiences that had ever been assembled in New York, to be sure, but, with a man of his type, was that likely to be anything more than the first step?

He had threatened to ruin her career, and he was nothing if not thorough in whatever he attempted. Therefore—so Nick reasoned—further trouble might be looked for in that quarter.

The thought was an unwelcome one. The detective had taken every practicable precaution to shield Helga from further molestation, but he knew only too well that Grantley’s attacks were of a sort which usually defied ordinary safeguards.

The possibility of new danger to the actress spurred Nick on to added concentration.

Assuming that Grantley was still in New York, in disguise, and bent upon inflicting additional injury on the woman he had once loved, where would he be likely to hide himself, and what would be the probable nature of his next move?

The detective answered his last question first, after much weighing of possibilities.

Grantley was one of the most dangerous of criminals, simply because his methods were about as far removed as possible from the ordinary methods of criminals. He had confined himself, thus far, to crimes in which he had made use of his immense scientific knowledge, surgical and hypnotic.

Accordingly, the chances were that he would work along one of those two lines in the future, or else along some other, in which his special knowledge would be the determining factor.{181}

Moreover, since his escape, he had repeatedly called his mastery of hypnotism to his aid. That being so, Nick was inclined to believe that he would continue to use it, especially since Helga had shown herself so susceptible to hypnotic influence.

Could the detective guard against that?

He vowed to do his best, notwithstanding the many difficulties involved.

But it was not until he had carefully balanced the probabilities in regard to Grantley’s whereabouts that Nick became seriously alarmed.

As a consequence of his study of the problem, an overwhelming conviction came to him that it would be just like the rascally surgeon to have gone to Helga’s own hotel, under another name.

The luxurious Wentworth-Belding would be as safe for the fugitive as any other place, providing his disguise was adequate—safer, in fact, for it was the very last place which would ordinarily fall under suspicion.

In addition to the great advantage, it offered the best opportunity to keep in touch with developments in connection with the actress’ condition, and residence there promised comparatively easy access to Helga when the time should come for the next act in the drama of revenge.

This astounding suspicion had sprung up, full-fledged, in Nick’s brain in the space of a second. The detective knew that his preliminary reasoning had been sound, however, and based upon a thorough knowledge of Grantley’s characteristic methods.

It was staggering, but his keen intuition told him{182} that it was true. He was now certain that Grantley would be found housed under the same huge roof as his latest victim, and that meant that Helga’s danger was greater than ever.

The next blow might fall at any minute.

It was very surprising, in fact, that Grantley had remained inactive so long.

The detective hastily but effectively disguised himself, left word for his assistants, and hurried to the hotel—only to find that his flash of inspiration had come a little too late.

Helga Lund had mysteriously disappeared.{183}



Doctor Lightfoot, the actress’ physician, was greatly excited and had just telephoned to Nick’s house, after the detective had left for the hotel.

The doctor had arrived there about half an hour before, for his regular morning visit. To his consternation he had found the night nurse stretched out on Helga Lund’s bed, unconscious, and clad only in her undergarments.

The actress was nowhere to be found.

The anxious Lightfoot was of very different caliber from the prison physician at Sing Sing. He had recognized the nurse’s symptoms at once, and knew that she had been hypnotized.

He set to work at once to revive her and succeeded in doing so, after some little delay. As soon as she was in a condition to question, he pressed her for all the details she could give.

They were meager enough, but sufficiently disquieting. According to her story, a man whom she had supposed to be Lightfoot himself had gained entrance to the suite between nine and ten o’clock at night.

He had sent up Doctor Lightfoot’s name, and his appearance, when she saw him, had coincided with that of the attending physician. He had acted rather strangely, to be sure, and the nurse had been surprised at his presence at that hour, owing to the fact that Lightfoot had already made his two regular calls that day.{184}

Before her surprise had had time to become full-fledged suspicion, however, the intruder had fixed her commandingly with his eyes, and she had found herself powerless to resist the weakness of will which had frightened her.

She dimly remembered that he had approached her slowly, nearer and nearer, and that his gleaming eyes had seemed to be two coals of fire in his head.

That was all she recalled, except that she had felt her senses reeling and leaving her. She had known no more until Doctor Lightfoot broke the dread spell, almost twelve hours afterward.

She had met the bogus Lightfoot in one of the outer rooms of the suite, not in the presence of the actress. Miss Lund had been in her bedroom at the time, but had not yet retired.

The nurse was horror-stricken to learn that her patient was missing, and equally at a loss to explain how she herself came to be without her uniform.

But Doctor Lightfoot possessed a sufficiently analytical mind to enable him to solve the puzzle, after a fashion, even before Nick arrived.

The detective had told him that the sight of an enemy of the actress’ had caused her seizure, and it was easy to put two and two together. This enemy had doubtless made himself up to represent the attending physician, had hypnotized the nurse, and then passed on, unhindered, to the actress’ room.

He had obviously subdued her in the same fashion, after which he had removed the unconscious nurse’s uniform and compelled Helga to don it.

The doctor remembered now that the two women{185} were nearly alike in height and build. The nurse had dark-brown hair, in sharp contrast to Helga’s golden glory; but a wig could have remedied that. Neither was there any similarity in features, but veils can be counted on to hide such differences.

Doctor Lightfoot, despite his alarm, was rather proud of his ability to reason the thing out alone. He had no doubt that Helga Lund, under hypnotic influence, had accompanied the strange man from the hotel, against her will.

It would have been very easy, with no obstacle worth mentioning to interpose. No one who saw them would have thought it particularly strange to see the nurse and the doctor leaving together. At most, it would have suggested that they were on unusually good terms, and that he was taking her out for an airing in his car.

The keen-witted physician had progressed thus far by the time Nick arrived, but he had not yet sought to verify his deductions by questioning any of the hotel staff.

Nick listened to his theory, put a few additional questions to the nurse, and then complimented Doctor Lightfoot on his analysis.

“That seems to be the way of it,” the detective admitted. “A light, three-quarter-length coat, which the nurse often wore over her uniform, is also missing, together with her hat. The distinctive nurse’s skirt would have shown beneath the coat and thereby help the deception.”

Confidential inquiries were made at once, and the fact was established that the two masqueraders—one{186} voluntary and one involuntary—had left the building about ten o’clock the night before.

The supposed Lightfoot had arrived in a smart, closed town car, which had been near enough to the physician’s in appearance to deceive the carriage starter. The chauffeur wore a quiet livery, a copy of that worn by Lightfoot’s driver. The car had waited, and the two had ridden away in it.

That was all the hotel people could say. The night clerk had thought it odd that Miss Lund’s nurse had not returned, but it was none of his business, of course, if the actress’ physician had taken her away.

It was of little importance now, but Nick was curious enough to make inquiries, while he was about it, which brought out the fact that a man had registered at the hotel the morning after the affair at the theater, and had paid his bill and left the evening before.

It might have been only a coincidence, but certain features of the man’s description, as given, left room for the belief that Doctor Grantley had really been at the Wentworth-Belding during that interval.

But where was he now, and what had he done with the unfortunate actress?

Such as it was, the slender clew furnished by the closed car must be followed up for all it was worth.

That was not likely to prove an easy matter, and, unless Grantley had lost his cunning, the trail of the machine would probably lead to nothing, even if it could be followed. Nevertheless, there seemed to be nothing else to work on.

The chauffeur of the car might have been an accomplice, but it was not necessary to suppose so. It{187} looked as if the wily Grantley had hunted up a machine of the same make as Doctor Lightfoot’s, and had engaged it for a week or a month, paying for it in advance.

There are many cars to be had in New York on such terms, and they are extensively used by people who wish to give the impression, for a limited time, that they own a fine car.

It is a favorite way of overawing visitors; and chauffeurs in various sorts of livery go with the cars, both being always at the command of the renter.

It would not, therefore, have aroused suspicion if Grantley had furnished a livery of his own choice for his temporary chauffeur.

The first step was to ascertain the make of Doctor Lightfoot’s car. Another make might have been used, of course, but it was not likely, since the easiest way to duplicate the machine would have been to choose another having the same lines and color.

“Mine is a Palgrave,” the physician informed Nick, in response to the latter’s question.

“Humph! That made it easy for Grantley,” remarked the detective; “but it won’t be so easy for us. The Palgrave is the favorite car for renting by the week or month, and there are numerous places where that particular machine might have been obtained. We’ll have to go the rounds.”

Nick and his assistants set to work at once, with the help of the telephone directory, which listed the various agencies for automobiles. There were nearly twenty of them, but that meant comparatively little delay, with several investigators at work.{188}

A little over an hour after the search began, Chick “struck oil.”

Grantley, disguised as Doctor Lightfoot, had engaged a Palgrave town car of the latest model at an agency on “Automobile Row,” as that section of Broadway near Fifty-ninth Street is sometimes called.

The machine had been engaged for a week—not under Lightfoot’s name, however—and Grantley had furnished the suit of livery. The car had been used by its transient possessor for the first time the night before, had returned to the garage about eleven o’clock, and had not since been sent for.

The chauffeur was there, and, at Nick’s request, the manager sent for him.

The detective was about to learn something of Grantley’s movements; but was it to be much, or little?

He feared that the latter would prove to be the case.{189}



The detective had revealed his identity, and the chauffeur was quite willing to tell all he knew.

He had driven his temporary employer and the woman in nurse’s garb to the Yellow Anchor line pier, near the Battery. Grantley—or Thomas Worthington, as he had called himself in this connection—had volunteered the information that his companion was his niece, who had been sent for suddenly to take care of some one who was to sail on the Laurentian at five o’clock in the morning.

Both of the occupants of the car had alighted at the pier, and the man had told the chauffeur not to wait, the explanation being that he might be detained on board for some time.

The pier was a long one, and the chauffeur could not, of course, say whether the pair had actually gone on board the vessel or not. He had obeyed orders and driven away at once.

Neither the man nor the woman had carried any baggage. The chauffeur had gathered that the person who was ill was a relative of both of them, and that the nurse’s rather bewildered manner was due to her anxiety and the suddenness of the call.

That was all Nick could learn from him, and an immediate visit to the Yellow Anchor line pier was imperative.

There it was learned that a man and woman an{190}swering the description given had been noticed in the crowd of people who had come to bid good-by to relatives and friends. One man was sure he had seen them enter a taxi which had just dropped its passengers. When interrogated further, he gave it as his impression that the taxi was a red-and-black machine. He naturally did not notice its number, and no one else could be found who had seen even that much.

A wireless inquiry brought a prompt reply from the Laurentian, to the effect that no couple of that description were on board, or had been seen on the vessel the night before.

It was clear that Grantley had made a false trail, for the purpose of throwing off his pursuers. It had been a characteristic move, and no more than Nick had expected.

The detective turned his attention to the taxi clew. Red and black were the distinctive colors of the Flanders-Jackson Taxicab Company’s machines. Consequently, the main garage of that concern was next visited.

Luckily, the man at the pier had been right. One of the company’s taxis had been at the Yellow Anchor line pier the previous night, and had picked up a couple of new passengers there, after having been dismissed by those who had originally engaged it.

Nick obtained the name and address of the chauffeur, who was off duty until night. He was not at home when the detective called, but, after a vexatious delay, he was eventually located.

A tip loosened his tongue.

“I remember them well, sir,” he declared. “The{191} man looked like a doctor, I thought, and, if I’m not mistaken, the woman had on a nurse’s uniform under her long coat. I couldn’t see her face, though, on account of the heavy veil she wore. She acted queer—sick or something. The fellow told me, when they got in, to drive them to the Wentworth-Belding, but when I got up to Fourteenth Street he said to take them to the Metropolitan Building. I did, and they got out. That’s all I know about it. I drove them to the Madison Square side, and they had gone into the building before I started away, but that’s the last I saw of them.”

“Well, we’ve traced them one step farther, Chick,” Nick remarked to his first assistant as they left, “but we haven’t tracked them down, by a long shot. Grantley doubtless went through the Metropolitan Building to Fourth Avenue. There he either took the subway, hailed another taxi, or—hold on, though! Maybe there’s something in that! I wonder——”

“Now, what?” Chick asked eagerly.

“You remember Doctor Chester, one of the six young physicians, who was mixed up with Grantley in that vivisection case?”

“Of course I do,” his assistant answered. “He has taken another name and given up his profession—on the surface at least. He’s living on East Twenty-sixth Street——”

“Exactly—a very few blocks from the Metropolitan Building!” interrupted his chief.

“You mean——”

“I have a ‘hunch,’ as Patsy would call it that Grant{192}ley has taken Helga Lund to Chester’s house. Chester had rented one of those old-fashioned, run-down bricks across from the armory. It’s liable to be demolished almost any day, to make way for a new skyscraper, and he doubtless gets it for a song. He can do what he pleases there, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Grantley had been paying the rent in anticipation of something of this sort. They undoubtedly think that we lost sight of Chester long ago.”

“By George, I’ll wager you’re right, chief!” exclaimed Chick. “The fact that we’ve traced Grantley to the Metropolitan Building certainly looks significant, in view of Chester’s house being so near to it. It’s only about five minutes’ walk, and a man with Grantley’s resourcefulness could easily have made enough changes in his appearance and that of Miss Lund, while in the Metropolitan Building, to have made it impossible for the two who entered Chester’s house to be identified with those who had left the Wentworth-Belding an hour or so before.”

“That’s the way it strikes me,” agreed the detective. “And, if the scoundrel took her there last night, they are doubtless there now. I think we’re sufficiently justified in forcing our way into the house and searching it, and that without delay. We don’t know enough to take the police into our confidence as yet; therefore, the raid will have to be purely on our own responsibility. We must put our theory to the test at once, however, without giving Grantley any more time to harm the actress. Heaven knows he’s had enough opportunity to do so already!”

“Right! We can’t wait for darkness or reënforce{193}ments. It will have to be a daylight job, put through just as we are. If we find ourselves on the wrong scent, Chester will be in a position to make it hot for us—or would be, if he had any standing—but we’ll have to risk that.”

“Well, if Chester—or Schofield, as he is calling himself now—is tending to his new business as a commercial chemist, he ought to be away at this hour. That remains to be seen, however. I imagine, at any rate, that we can handle any situation that is likely to arise. If time were not so precious, it would be better to have some of the other boys along with us, but we don’t know what may be happening at this very moment. Come on. We can plan our campaign on the way.”

A couple of tall loft buildings had already replaced part of the old row of houses on the north side of Twenty-sixth Street, beginning at Fourth Avenue. Nick and his assistant entered the second of these and took the elevator to one of the upper floors, from the eastern corridor of which they could obtain a view of the house occupied by young Doctor Chester, together with its approaches, back and front.

The house consisted of a high basement—occupied by a little hand laundry—and three upper stories, the main floor being reached by a flight of iron steps at the front.

Obviously, there was no exit from the body of the house at the rear. There was only a basement door opening into the tiny back yard, and that was connected with the laundry.{194}

The detective decided, as a result of their general knowledge of such houses, not to bother with the back at all. Their plan was to march boldly up the front stairs, outside, fit a skeleton key to the lock, and enter the hall.

They argued that, owing to the fact that the basement was sublet, any crooked work that might be going on would be likely to be confined to the second or third floor to prevent suspicion on the part of those connected with the laundry.

Therefore, they hoped to find the first floor deserted. If that were the case, it was improbable that their entrance would be discovered prematurely.

There was, doubtless, a flight of steps at the rear of the house, leading down to the laundry from the first floor; but they were practically certain that these rear stairs did not ascend above the main floor. If they did not, there was no way of retreat for the occupants of the upper part of the house, except by the front stairs, and, as the detective meant to climb them, it seemed reasonable to suppose that Grantley, Chester & Company could easily be trapped.

Nick and Chick returned to the street and made their way, without the slightest attempt at concealment, toward the suspected house.

They met no one whose recognition was likely to be embarrassing, and saw no faces at the upper windows as they climbed the outer steps.

They had already seen to it that their automatics were handy, and now Nick produced a bunch of skeleton keys and began fitting them, one after another.{195}

The fifth one worked. They stepped into the hall as if they belonged there—taking care to make no noise, however—and gently closed the doors behind them.

The adventure was well under way, and, technically speaking, they were already housebreakers.{196}



The house in which Nick and Chick found themselves had been a good one, but it was now badly in need of repair.

The main hall was comparatively wide for so narrow a building, and a heavy balustrade fenced off the stairs on one side.

The detectives paused just inside the door and listened intently. The doors on the first floor were all closed and the rooms behind them appeared to be untenanted. At any rate, all was still on that floor. Subdued noises of various sorts floated down to them from above, however, seemingly from the third floor.

They looked at each other significantly. Evidently, their theory had been correct—to some extent, at least.

They approached each of the doors in turn, but could hear nothing. Under the stairway they found the expected door leading down to the basement, but, as it was locked, and there was no key, they paid no further attention to it.

Instead, they started to mount the front stairs to the second floor. The stairway was old and rather creaky, but the detectives knew how to step in order to make the least noise. Consequently, they gained the next landing without being discovered.

Here they repeated the tactics they had used below, with a like result. The sound of voices and footfalls were louder now, but they all came from the third floor. The second seemed to be as quiet as the first.{197}

The doors on the second floor, like those on the first, were all closed, but Nick ascertained that at least one of them was unlocked.

That fact might be of great advantage in preventing discovery, in case any one should start down unexpectedly from the third floor, for the halls and stairs offered no place of concealment.

The detectives noiselessly removed their shoes before attempting the last flight, and placed them inside the unlocked room, which they noiselessly closed again.

They were now ready for the final reconnoissance.

By placing the balls of their stockinged feet on the edges of the steps, they succeeded in mounting to the third floor without making any more noise than that produced by the contact of their clothing.

A slight pause at the top served to satisfy them that the noises all proceeded from one room at the front of the house. They were already close to the door of this room, and they listened breathlessly.

Words were plainly audible now, punctuated at frequent intervals by loud bursts of laughter.

It sounded like a merrymaking of some kind. What was going on behind that closed door? Had they made a mistake in entering the house and wasted precious time in following a will-o’-the-wisp, when Helga Lund might be even then in the greatest danger?

Nick and his assistants feared so, and their hearts sank heavily.

But no. The next words they heard reassured, but, at the same time, startled them. The voice was unmistakably Grantley’s.

“That’s enough of pantomime,” it said, with a pe{198}culiar note of cruel, triumphant command. “Now give us your confession from ‘The Daughters of Men’—give it, but remember that you are not a great actress, that you are so bad that you would be hooted from the cheapest stage. Remember that you are ugly and dressed in rags, that you are awkward and ungainly in your movements, that your voice is like a file. Remember it not only now, but always. You will never be able to act. Your acting is a nightmare, and you are a fright—when you aren’t a joke. But show us what you can do in that confession scene.”

Nick and Chick grew tense as they listened to those unbelievable words, and to the heartless chuckles and whisperings with which they were received. Apparently there were several men in the “audience”—probably Chester and some of Grantley’s other former accomplices.

The meaning was plain—all too plain.

The proud, beautiful Helga Lund was once more under hypnotic influence, and Grantley, with devilish ingenuity, was impressing suggestions upon her poor, tortured brain, suggestions which were designed to rob her of her great ability, not only for the moment, but, unless their baneful effect could be removed, for all the rest of her life.

She, who had earned the plaudits of royalty in most of the countries of Europe, was being made a show of for the amusement of a handful of ruthless scoffers.

It made the detectives’ blood boil in their veins and their hands clench until their knuckles were white, but they managed somehow to keep from betraying themselves.{199}

The employment of hypnotism in such a way was plainly within the scope of the new law against unwarranted operations or experiments on human beings, without their consent; but it was necessary to secure as much evidence as possible before interfering.

To that end Nick Carter took out of a pocket case a curious little instrument, which he was in the habit of calling his “keyhole periscope.”

It consisted of a small black tube, about the length and diameter of a lead pencil. There was an eyepiece at one end. At the other a semicircular lens bulged out.

It was designed to serve the same purpose as the periscope of a submarine torpedo boat—that is, to give a view on all sides of a given area at once. The exposed convex lens, when thrust through a keyhole or other small aperture, received images of objects from every angle in the room beyond, and magnified them, in just the same way as the similarly constructed periscope of a submarine projects above the level of the water and gives those in the submerged vessel below a view of all objects on the surface, within a wide radius.

Nick had noted that there was no key in the lock of the door. Taking advantage of that fact, he crept silently forward, inserted the wonderful little instrument in the round upper portion of the hole, and, stooping, applied his eye to the eyepiece.

He could not resist an involuntary start as he caught his first glimpse of the extraordinary scene within.

The whole interior of the room was revealed to him. Around the walls were seated three young men of professional appearance. Nick recognized them all. They{200} were Doctor Chester, Doctor Willard, and Doctor Graves, three of Grantley’s former satellites.

They were leaning forward or throwing themselves back in different attitudes of cruel enjoyment and derision, while Grantley stood at one side, his hawklike face thrust out, his keen, pitiless eyes fixed malignantly on the figure in the center of the room.

Nick’s heart went out in pity toward that pathetic figure, although he could hardly believe his eyes.

It was that of Helga Lund, but so changed as to be almost unrecognizable.

Her splendid golden hair hung in a matted, disordered snarl about her face, which was pale and smudged with grime. She was clothed in the cheapest of calico wrappers, hideously colored, soiled and torn, beneath which showed her bare, dust-stained feet.

She had thrown herself upon her knees, as the part required; her outstretched hands were intertwined beseechingly, and her wonderful eyes were raised to Grantley’s face. In them was the hurt, fearful look of a faithful but abused dog in the presence of a cruel master.

Her tattered sleeves revealed numerous bruises on her perfectly formed arms.

The part of the play which Grantley had ordered her to render was that in which the heroine pleaded with her angry lover for his forgiveness of some past act of hers, which she had bitterly repented.

She was reciting the powerful lines now. They had always held her great audiences breathless, but how different was this pitiable travesty!

It would have been hard enough at best for her to{201} make them ring true when delivered before such unsympathetic listeners and in such an incongruous garb, but she was not at her best. On the contrary, her performance was infinitely worse than any one would have supposed possible.

She had unconsciously adopted every one of the hypnotist’s brutal suggestions.

There was not a vestige of her famous grace in any of her movements. The most ungainly slattern could not have been more awkward.

Her words were spoken parrotlike, as if learned by rote, without the slightest understanding of their meaning. For the most part, they succeeded one another without any attempt at emphasis, and when emphasis was used, it was invariably in the wrong place.

It was her voice itself, however, which gave Nick and Chick their greatest shock.

The Lund, as she was generally called in Europe, had always been celebrated for her remarkably musical voice; but this sorry-looking creature’s voice was alternately shrill and harsh. It pierced and rasped and set the teeth on edge, just as the sound of a file does.

Nothing could have given a more sickening sense of Grantley’s power over the actress than this astounding transformation, this slavish adherence to the conditions of abject failure which he had imposed upon her.

It seemed incredible, and yet, there it was, plainly revealed to sight and hearing alike.

A subtler or more uncanny revenge has probably never been conceived by the mind of man. The public breakdown which Grantley had so mercilessly caused{202} had only been the beginning of his scheme of vengeance.

He doubtless meant to hypnotize his victim again and again, and each time to impose his will upon her gradually weakening mind, until she had become a mere wreck of her former self, and incapable of ever again taking her former place in the ranks of genius.

There was nothing impossible about it. On the contrary, the result was a foregone conclusion if Grantley were left free to continue as he had begun.

The very emotional susceptibility which had made Helga Lund a great actress had also made her an easy victim of hypnotic suggestion, and, if the process went on long enough, she would permanently lose everything that had made her successful.

Outright murder would have been innocent by comparison with such infernal ingenuity of torture. It seemed to Nick as if he were watching the destruction of a splendid, priceless work of art.

He had seen enough.

He withdrew the little periscope from the keyhole and straightened up. One hand went to his pocket and came out with an automatic. Chick followed his example.

They were outnumbered two to one, but that did not deter them.

Helga must be rescued at once, and her tormentors caught red-handed.{203}



What was to be done, though?

To burst into the room and seek to overpower the four doctors then and there, in Helga’s presence, would place the actress in additional danger.

Nick was convinced, however, that that risk would have to be run. He had seen evidences that more than one of the men were tiring of the cruel sport, and it might now come to an end at any moment.

He swiftly considered two or three possible plans for drawing the four away from their victim, but rejected them all. They would only increase the danger of a slip of some sort, and he was bent upon capturing the four, as well as releasing the actress.

Furthermore, he did not believe that even Grantley would dare to harm Helga further in his presence, even if the fortunes of war should give the surgeon a momentary opportunity.

He, accordingly, motioned to his assistant to follow close behind him, and laid his left hand on the knob.

He turned it noiselessly, and was greatly relieved to find that the door yielded. Their advent would be a complete surprise, therefore, and would find the four totally unprepared.

Nick paused a moment, then flung the door back violently and strode into the room.

Grantley was the ringleader, the most dangerous of the lot at any time, and the fact that he was an escaped{204} convict would render his resistance more than ordinarily desperate. The periscope had told Nick where the fugitive stood, and thus the detective was enabled to cover him at once with the unwavering muzzle of the automatic.

“Hands up, Grantley! Hands up, everybody!” cried Nick, stepping a little to one side to allow Chick to enter.

His assistant took immediate advantage of the opening and stepped to his chief’s side, with leveled weapon. Chick’s automatic was pointed at Doctor Chester, however. After Grantley, the man whose house had been invaded was naturally the one who was likely to put up the hardest fight.

The guilty four were spellbound with astonishment and fear for a moment, then the three younger ones jumped to their feet like so many jacks-in-the-box. Grantley had already been standing when the detectives broke in.

“Did you hear me, gentlemen?” Nick demanded, crooking his finger a little more closely about the trigger. “I said ‘Hands up!’ and it won’t be healthy for any of you to ignore the invitation. One—two—three!”

Before the last word passed his lips, however, four pairs of hands were in the air. Doctor Willard’s had gone up first and Grantley’s last.

“Thank you so much!” the detective remarked, with mock politeness. “Now, if you will oblige me a little further, by lining up against that right wall, I shall be still more grateful to you. Kindly place yourselves about two feet apart, not less. I want you, Number{205} Sixty Thousand One Thirteen”—Grantley winced at his prison number—“at this end of the line, next to me, with Chester, alias Schofield, next; Graves next to him, and Willard last. You see, I haven’t forgotten any of my old friends.”

This disposition of the trapped quartet was designed to serve two purposes. In the first place, it would remove them from proximity to Helga Lund, who, crouched in the middle of the floor, was watching the detectives with bewildered, uncomprehending eyes. In the second place, it would enable Chick to handcuff them one by one, while Nick stood ready to fire, at an instant’s notice, on any one who made a false move.

It looked, for the time being, as if the capture would be altogether too easy to have any spice in it, but the detectives did not make the mistake of underrating their adversaries—Grantley, especially.

To be sure, they were probably unarmed, and had been taken at such a disadvantage that they would hardly have had an opportunity to draw weapons, even if they had worn them. Still, any one of a number of things might happen.

The four doctors had been caught “with the goods,” as the police saying is, and they might be expected to take desperate chances as soon as they had had time to collect their scattered wits and to realize the seriousness of their plight.

Nick Carter had shown his usual generalship in the orders he had given so crisply.

Grantley himself, the most to be feared of the lot, was to be placed nearest to the detective, where Nick could watch him most narrowly. That was not all,{206} however. The detective meant that Chick should handcuff Grantley first, and thus put the leader out of mischief at the earliest opportunity.

After him, Chester was to be disposed of, and the two that would then remain were comparatively harmless in themselves.

Grantley doubtless saw through Nick’s tactics from the beginning, and if the detective could have caught the gleam behind the wily surgeon’s half-closed lids, he would have known that Grantley thought he saw an opportunity to circumvent those tactics.

With reasonable promptness, hands still in the air, Grantley started to obey the detective’s order. He moved slowly, grudgingly, his face distorted with rage and hate.

Chester started to follow the older man toward the wall, but Chick halted him.

“Hold up, there, Schofield-Chester!” the young detective ordered. “One at a time, if you don’t mind!”

He wished to prevent the confusion that would result from the simultaneous movement of the four scoundrels.

Chester paused with a snarl, and Grantley went on alone. He was making for the corner nearest to Nick, who still stood close to the door. In doing so, he was obliged to pass in front of the detective.

It had been no part of Nick’s plan to have the fugitive take to that corner, and he suddenly realized that the criminal was crossing a little too close to him for safety.

“Here, keep to the left a little——” he began sharply, when Grantley was about four feet away.{207}

But before he could complete his sentence, the escaped convict ducked and threw his body sidewise, the long arms were already above his head and he left them where they were. Their abnormal length helped to bridge the distance between him and Nick as he flung himself at the detective.

Nick guessed the nature of the move, as if by instinct, and when he fired, which he did immediately, it was with depressed muzzle. He had allowed, in other words, for the swift descent of Grantley’s body.

In spite of that, however, the bullet merely plowed a furrow across the criminal’s shoulder and back, as he dropped. It did not disable him in the least, and, before Nick could fire again, Grantley’s peculiar dive ended with a vicious impact against his legs, and claw-like hands gripped him about the knees in an effort to pull him down.

The convict’s daring act broke the spell which had held his companions. Without waiting to see whether Grantley’s move was to prove successful or not, the three of them threw themselves bodily upon Chick, while the latter’s attention was diverted for a moment by his chief’s peril.

Doctor Chester, who had been looking for something of the sort from Grantley, was the first to pounce upon Nick’s assistant. He gripped Chick’s right wrist and began to twist it in an attempt to loosen the hold on the weapon.

“Help Grantley, Willard,” he directed, at the same time, between his clenched teeth. “Graves and I can handle this fellow, I guess.”

Willard started for Nick, while Graves shifted his{208} attack, and, edging around behind Chick, seized him by the shoulders. At the same moment he placed one knee in the small of the young detective’s back.

There could be only one result:

Chick was bent painfully back until his spine felt as if it was about to crack in two; then, in his efforts to relieve the strain, he lost his footing and went down, with Chester on top of him, and still clinging doggedly to his wrists.

A few feet away Nick was being hard pressed by two other rascals.

The pendulum of chance had swung the other way, and things looked very dubious for the detectives—and for what was left of Helga Lund!{209}



Chick had thrown himself to one side to ease the pressure on his back. Accordingly, he struck the floor on his left side.

Chester and Graves dropped heavily upon him before he had more than touched the boards, the former at his feet, the latter on his shoulders.

Their bony knees crushed him down, and Graves used his weight to try to pull Chick over on his back.

Nick’s assistant had twisted his left wrist out of Chester’s grasp as he fell, but the renegade physician had clung for dear life to the hand which held the automatic.

Chick allowed himself to be pulled over on his back—for a very good reason: His free arm had been under him as he lay on his side, and he wanted an opportunity to use it.

Graves grabbed at it at once, but Chick stretched it—all but the upper arm—out of his antagonist’s reach. Graves would have to lean far over Chick in order to reach the latter’s left wrist, and, in so doing, he would expose himself not a little. Or else he would be obliged to edge around on his knees, behind Chick’s head.

He chose to try the latter maneuver, but Chick feinted with his left arm. Graves dodged, and Chick’s hand darted in behind the other’s guard, grasping Graves firmly by the hair.{210}

Almost at the same instant the young detective jerked his right foot loose and gave the startled Chester a tremendous kick in the stomach.

The master of the house gave a grunt and doubled up like a jackknife. His grip on Chick’s right wrist relaxed simultaneously, and its owner tore it away.

Chester had involuntarily lurched forward, and the act had brought his head well within the reach of Chick’s right hand, which was now once more at liberty.

While Nick’s assistant held the struggling Graves at arm’s length by the hair, with one hand, he brought down the butt of the automatic, with all the strength he could bring to bear, on Chester’s lowered poll.

He had juggled the weapon in a twinkling, so that it was clubbed when it descended. The blow was surprisingly effective, considering the circumstances.

Chester groaned and toppled forward, over Chick’s legs.

The detective’s assistant was ready to follow up his advantage at once. He wriggled about until he was facing Graves, and then he began pulling that individual toward him by the hair.

Tears of pain were in Graves’ eyes, and he struck out blindly in a desperate effort to break Chick’s relentless hold. The attempt was a failure, however. Despite all of Graves’ struggles, he was irresistibly drawn nearer and nearer. The fact that he wore his hair rather long helped Chick to maintain his grip.

Presently the young physician’s head was near enough to allow Chick to strike it with his clubbed weapon. He drew the latter back for the blow, but his{211} enemy, seeing what was coming, suddenly changed his tactics.

Instead of trying to pull away any more, he ducked and threw himself into Chick’s arms.

The revolver butt naturally missed its mark, and, for a time, they fought at too close quarters to permit such a blow to be tried again.

Graves had seized Chick around the body as he closed in, and he drew himself close, burying his head on Chick’s chest. Chick still maintained his hold of his opponent’s hair, however, and now retaliated by rolling over on Graves, working his feet from under the unconscious Chester as he did so.

Graves snuggled as close as he could to avoid the dreaded blow, but Chick, now being on top, was able to hold Graves’ head on the floor by main force, while he arched his own powerful back and began to tear his body from his antagonist’s straining arms.

Graves was game; there was no doubt about that. The pulling of his hair must have been torture to him, but he did not relinquish his hold about Chick’s waist.

His eyes were closed, his face drawn and twisted with pain, but he clung obstinately, and without a whimper.

Slowly but surely, nevertheless, Chick raised himself, and the space between their laboring breasts widened. Graves’ hold was being loosened bit by bit, but it had not broken.

As a matter of fact, Chick did not wait for it to break. It was not necessary, for one thing; and, for another, he realized that it would be a kindness{212} to Graves to end the painful struggle as soon as possible.

Accordingly, as soon as he had raised himself enough to deliver a reasonably effective blow with the clubbed automatic, he struck downward, with carefully controlled aim and strength.

The butt of the little weapon landed in the middle of the physician’s forehead. A gasp followed, and the tugging arms fell away.

Chick had floored his two opponents.

He got quickly to his feet and looked to see if Nick needed him. Chester and Graves ought to be handcuffed before they had time to revive, but that could wait a little if necessary.

It was well that Chick finished his business just when he did, for Nick was in trouble.

Doctor Grantley was not an athlete, and his long, lanky build gave little promise of success against Nick Carter’s trained muscles and varied experience in physical encounters of all sorts.

On the other hand, the convict was possessed of amazing wiriness and endurance, and, although he was not cut out for a fighting man, his keen, quick mind made up for most of his bodily deficiencies.

His original attack, for instance, was an example of unconventional but startlingly successful strategy. On the surface, it would have seemed that such a man, without weapons, had precious little chance of gaining any advantage over Nick Carter, armed as the latter was, and a good four feet away.

But Grantley followed up his impetuous dive in a most surprising way. His long arms closed about{213} Nick’s legs, but, instead of endeavoring to pull the detective down in the ordinary way, Grantley unexpectedly plucked his legs apart with all his strength.

The detective’s balance instantly became a very uncertain quantity, for the surgeon’s abnormally long, gorillalike arms tore his legs apart and pushed them to right and left with astonishing ease.

Nick felt like an involuntary Colossus of Rhodes as he was forced to straddle farther and farther. He threw one hand behind him to brace himself against the wall, reversed his automatic and leaned forward, bent upon knocking the enterprising Grantley on the head.

The fugitive had other plans, however. Just as Nick bent forward, Grantley suddenly thrust his head and shoulders between the detective’s outstretched limbs, and heaved upward and backward.

The detective was lifted from his feet and pitched forward, head downward. His discomfiture was a decided shock to him, but he neither lost his presence of mind nor his grip on his weapon.

Had he struck on his head and shoulders, as Grantley evidently intended he should, the result might have been exceedingly disastrous. The detective would almost certainly have been plunged into unconsciousness, and his neck might easily have been broken.

Nick saw his danger in a flash, though; drew his head and shoulders sharply inward and downward, and at the same time grasped one of Grantley’s thighs with his left hand.

The result would have been ludicrous under almost any other circumstances. The detective’s lowered head{214} went, in turn, between Grantley’s legs, and their intertwined bodies formed a wheel, such as trained athletes sometimes contrive.

This countermove of Nick’s was as much of a surprise to the surgeon as the latter’s curious mode of attack had been to the detective.

They rolled over and over a couple of times, until Nick, finding himself momentarily on top, brought them to a stop. So awkward were their positions that neither was able to strike an effective blow at the other.

Nick had the upper hand temporarily, however, and proceeded to wrench himself loose. He had been busily engaged in this when Willard had rushed to Grantley’s assistance.

That put still another face on the situation at once.{215}



The newcomer saw his opportunity and snatched up a chair as he rushed toward the tangled combatants.

Nick heard him coming, but did not have time to extricate himself from Grantley’s dogged grasp.

He raised his weapon, though, and was about to fire at Willard, when he saw that the latter was directly between him and Helga Lund. Under the circumstances, the detective did not dare to fire for fear of hitting the actress.

He kept Grantley down as best he could with his left hand, and waited for Willard with his right hand still extended, holding the automatic.

He might have an opportunity to fire, but, if not, he could at least partially ward off the expected blow from the chair.

Just as Willard paused and swung the chair aloft, Grantley managed partially to dislodge the detective, with the result that Nick was obliged to lower his right arm quickly. Otherwise he would undoubtedly have lost his balance completely, and the surgeon-convict would have had the upper hand in another second or two.

This involuntary lowering of Nick’s guard served the purpose that Grantley had intended. Willard’s cumbersome weapon descended with uninterrupted force on the detective’s shoulders and the back of his head.{216}

Nick lowered the latter instinctively, and thus saved himself the worst of the blow. Nevertheless, the impact of the chair was stunning in its force.

The detective felt his senses reeling, but he somehow managed to retain them and to grasp the chair, which he blindly wrenched from Willard’s grasp.

As he did so, however, Grantley succeeded in throwing him off and scrambling to his feet. Nick followed his example almost simultaneously, dropped his revolver into his pocket—for fear it would fall into the hands of one of his enemies—and, grasping the heavy chair with both hands, whirled it about his head.

His two antagonists dodged it hurriedly, thus clearing a space about him. Their blood was up, however—especially Grantley’s—and they felt sure that the detective had by no means recovered from the blow.

“Catch the chair, Willard!” cried Grantley.

The younger physician obeyed instantly, grasping the round of the chair with both hands, and thus preventing Nick from using it to any advantage.

The detective shoved it forward into the pit of Willard’s stomach, but the newcomer managed to retain his hold. He guessed that Grantley merely meant him to keep Nick busy in front, in order to allow of a rear attack; and such was the case.

While the detective was occupied with Willard, Grantley stole behind him and plunged his hand into Nick’s pocket, in search of the automatic.

The detective was obliged to let go of the chair and clamp his hand on Grantley’s wrist. He was still feeling very groggy as a result of the punishment he had{217} recently received, and a thrill of apprehension went through him.

Grantley’s hand was already deep in his pocket, grasping the butt of the weapon; and there was nothing about the wrist hold to prevent the criminal from turning the muzzle of the automatic toward his side and pulling the trigger.

Incidentally, Nick foresaw that he could not hope to hold the chair with one hand. Willard would twist it away and turn it upon him.

He was right. That was precisely what Willard did. Nick let go just in time to escape a sprained if not broken wrist, and dodged back.

In order to keep his hand in Nick’s pocket, Grantley was then obliged to circle about, between the detective and Willard. That saved Nick from the latter for the moment, and, simultaneously, the detective shifted his hold from Grantley’s wrist to his hand, pressing his thumb in under the latter in such a way that it prevented the hammer of the automatic from descending.

He was just in time, for Grantley pulled the trigger almost at the same moment. Thanks to Nick’s foresight, however, the weapon did not go off.

Grantley cursed under his breath, but he had not emptied his bag of tricks. He suddenly drove his head and shoulders in between Nick’s right arm and side, and threw his own left arm around, with a back-hand movement, in front of the detective’s body.

The move threw the detective backward, over Grantley’s knee, which was ready for him. At the same time, the criminal, whose right hand had remained on{218} the weapon in Nick’s pocket, began to draw the automatic out and to the rear.

In other words, he was forcing the detective in one direction with the left arm and working the revolver in the other with his right. It was manifestly impossible for Nick to stand the two opposing pressures for long.

Either he must break the hold of Grantley’s left arm, which pressed across his chest like an iron band, or else he must let go of the weapon.

The former seemed out of the question in that position; and to relinquish his hold on the revolver meant a shot in the side, which, with Grantley’s knowledge of anatomy, would almost certainly prove fatal.

Backward went Nick’s straining right arm, inward turned the hard muzzle of the weapon. Grantley was twisting the automatic now, hoping to loosen the detective’s grasp all the quicker.

Something was due in a few moments, and it promised to be a tragedy for the detective.

Then, to cap the climax, Willard circled about the two combatants, like a hawk ready to swoop down on its prey, and, seeing Nick’s head protruding from under Grantley’s left arm, hauled off and let drive with the chair.

The surgeon received part of the blow, but Nick’s head stopped enough of it to end the strange tussle.

The detective crumpled up, but Grantley held him from the floor and wrested the weapon from the nerveless fingers. He withdrew it from Nick’s pocket and put it to the detective’s left breast, determined to end it all, without fail.{219}

It was at that supreme moment that Chick charged up and took a hand.

Nick’s assistant reached Willard first. The latter’s back was toward him, and he was just in the act of drawing back the chair. Chick’s clubbed weapon descended on his head without warning, and Willard pitched forward on his face.

It was not until then that Chick saw the automatic at his chief’s breast. There was no time to reach Grantley—not a second to waste.

The young detective did what Nick and his men seldom allowed themselves to do—he turned his automatic around again and shot to kill.

Nick’s own life depended upon it, and there was nothing else to do.

The bullet struck Grantley full between the eyes, and the escaped convict dropped without a sound.

The battle was over and won.

* * * * * * *

Doctor Hiram A. Grantley—so called—master surgeon and monster of crime, would never return to Sing Sing to serve out his unexpired term; but neither would he trouble the world or Helga Lund again.

If the truth were known, it would doubtless be found that Warden Kennedy heaved a sigh of profound relief when he heard of Grantley’s death. It left no room for anxiety over the possibility of another hypnotic escape.

Doctors Chester, Willard, and Graves were speedily brought to trial, and they were convicted of aiding and abetting the deceased Grantley in an illegal experi{220}ment in hypnotism on the person of the great Swedish actress.

As for Helga Lund, she was a nervous wreck for nearly a year, but gradually, under the care of the best European physicians, she recovered her health and her confidence in herself.

She has now returned to the stage, and Nick Carter, who has seen her recently in Paris, declares that she is more wonderful than ever.

He wishes he could have spared her that last humiliating ordeal, but she is wise enough to know that, but for him and Chick, the man she had despised would have made his dreadful vengeance complete.{221}



Nick had just concluded the preceding case, when he received a request to come down to police headquarters at his earliest convenience. The request came from the inspector in charge of the detective bureau, and Nick hastened to comply, as Inspector Ward was an old and tried friend.

The inspector looked worried as he greeted Nick in his private room at headquarters.

“Nick,” said the inspector, getting right down to business, “this is undoubtedly the strangest case that has ever come to the attention of the department, at least while I have been connected with it. We have called it ‘Mystery 47,’ on account of its similarity to the case which startled Paris a few years ago, that, if you will remember, occurred at 47 Rue Boulogne.

“The bodies of six men have been found, one after another, and all of them within ten feet of each other. Another puzzling feature about the murders is that there does not seem to have been any motive for any of them, as the bodies when found did not appear to have been robbed. Still another strange feature is that, so far, the coroner’s office has not been able to determine what has been the cause of death in any of the cases. We have absolutely no clews on which to work. Whoever the assassin is, he has covered his tracks with the hand of a master, he has not left the slightest thing on which we can work. There does{222} not appear to be any reason for the shooting down of the people that have fallen at the hand of the murderer. In all my experience I have never known of a case where murders have been committed without a reason, but in this instance there does not seem to be the slightest reason for the man to have struck down the people that he has, as the murdered men were in different walks of life, and, so far as we can learn, none of them had an enemy in the world.

“Another strange feature of the case is that the bodies all present exactly the same appearance; on each is found a small speck of blood over the heart. No other marks of violence are visible, and the coroner’s physician says that he has not been able to find any trace of poison in any of the bodies.

“So far the papers have not paid much attention to the mystery, but I have concluded that the men whom I have had assigned to the case will not be able to solve it, and so I sent for you, as I know that Nick Carter has never yet failed to get at the bottom of any case.”

“You are very kind to say that, but I am afraid that you overestimate my work,” said Nick modestly. “I will undertake to solve the mystery for you, however.

“Of course I will not be hampered with instructions from anybody, as the manner in which I work is not always in accordance with the set rules of some of the detectives,” continued Nick.

“You will not be interfered with in any way, and any assistance that you may need will be furnished you gladly,” said the inspector.{223}

“Now if you will commence at the beginning and tell me all about the case I will go to work at once,” said Nick.

The inspector told Nick all that he knew, from the finding of the first body.

Nick listened attentively.

When the inspector had finished, Nick said:

“Kindly give me a detailed account of the spot where these men were found.”

“Are you familiar with the country surrounding Astoria?” asked the inspector.

“Fairly so.”

“Well, about two miles north of Astoria is an old lane that runs through a clump of trees——”

“I am familiar with the place,” said Nick.

“Right on the edge of these woods the murdered men were found——”

“That would bring it within a hundred yards of Weeden’s place, the man who keeps an automobile repair shop.”

“Precisely. I see that you are acquainted with the locality.”

Nick smiled, but did not interrupt.

“You looked as if you thought that Weeden might be mixed up in it when I mentioned his name,” said the inspector. “It is not possible that you suspect him?”

“I don’t know. Do you think that he is?” asked Nick.

“Certainly not.”

“What makes you so certain?”

“Because Jack Weeden’s name is above suspicion.{224} His reputation is that of a sober and industrious man. His neighbors all bear testimony to that fact.”

“I have seen other men whose neighbors thought that they were above suspicion, and they afterward found out their mistake,” quietly replied Nick.

The inspector studied a moment and then asked:

“What do you suggest might have been the object of the murders?”

“That is not an easy question to answer, offhand,” replied Nick.

“You say that a sum of money was found on the body of each. Was the sum always about the same?”

“No, there were different amounts found on each, on one over three thousand dollars. It was in a wallet which was in the upper vest pocket where anyone could see it. There were also about forty-five dollars in the pocket of the trousers, so that the wallet could have been taken and there would still have remained a sum sufficient to divert suspicion.”

“At first glance that would remove robbery as a motive for the murders.”

“It certainly does.”

“What do you know about Weeden?” asked Nick.

“Nothing except what I have told you,” replied the inspector.

“Then I will give you a short history of the man that you say bears such an excellent reputation. I am sure that you will be surprised when you hear what I have to tell you.”

“I will be pleased to listen, Nick,” said the inspector.

“Fifteen years ago he was convicted of highway robbery in Boston and was sentenced to five years in{225} prison at hard labor. He served that term. Two years before that he was sent up for the same offense, that time serving a year and a month. He had some hold on a man who had friends in politics, they had his sentence made light, or he would have still been wearing prison clothes. Besides these he has had several other ‘run ins’ with the police, but somehow has managed to escape. After he had left the Massachusetts prison it was said that he had sailed for Australia. That evidently was a blind to throw off the Boston police, who had been watching him on several other cases.

“Now what do you think of the record of the man that you said enjoyed the confidence of his neighbors?” asked Nick, as he concluded.

“Are you sure that you are not mistaken in the man?” asked the inspector. “It hardly seems possible that a man could get such a good reputation and be the villain that you say he is.”

“I am sure that it is the man.”

Nick then arose from his chair and strolled over to the window.

“Quick, come here!” he cried.

The inspector hurried to the window.

“What is it?” he asked.

Nick pointed to two men who were just passing.

“That is the man of whom you were talking a few minutes ago.”

“Jack Weeden?”

“Yes, that is he. Do you know the other man?” asked Nick.

“No! I do not, I am sure.{226}

“I do! It is Billy Young, one of the most noted burglars in New York.”

The men were powerfully built fellows.

The appearance of the men was peculiar. Weeden looked like an honest, hard-working man, while Young looked like a typical thug; his battle-scarred face bore the marks of dissipation as well as the marks of numerous encounters.

It was a most remarkable thing that they should be in the locality where the police had their headquarters; it was evident that they were there for a purpose. What was it?

“What do you think of your honest workman now?” asked Nick, with his quiet smile, as the inspector watched the men.

“I guess that, as usual, you are right,” replied the inspector.

“Look! they have seen you from the window and have disappeared,” cried Nick suddenly.

“Let’s follow them,” said the inspector excitedly.

“No, don’t do it; leave that to me,” said Nick, as he left the room.

Going downstairs, he called to a man who had been waiting for him in the hall. Whispering a few words into the man’s ear, he nodded in the direction that the men had taken.

The man left the building on the mission which Nick had given him.

Nick went upstairs to the room where he had left the inspector.

“It is all right,” he said. “I have sent one of my men after them, and he will find out where they go.{227}

“Well, what do you want to do now, Nick?” asked the inspector.

“The first thing will be to go to the morgue and see those bodies, and, if you have no objection, I will bring a young surgeon with me. He is a very clever chap, and one who can be depended upon to keep his mouth shut. I hope that there will be no objection to his coming?”

“Not the slightest; this case is in your hands now, and you have full charge to bring whom you will, and to do as you please.”

“Well, then, let’s be off, as every minute may be valuable.”

Just as they were about to leave the room a great commotion was heard in the hall, and the sound of excited voices reached their ears.

“I wonder what the racket is all about?” cried the inspector.

At that moment the door burst open and a man, bareheaded, staggered into the room.{228}



The man was bleeding from a great wound in his right temple, his face was pale as death, and he was gasping for breath.

“Great heavens! it is Sweet,” exclaimed Nick Carter, as he sprang forward. “Who has done this, Tom?”

“Billy Young—Weeden——”

As he gasped out the words, Sweet’s head fell forward. He tried to finish the sentence; a spasmodic shudder ran through his frame, and he was dead.

Nick made a hasty examination of the body and found that, besides the wound in the temple, Sweet had received a knife lunge through each lung.

It was miraculous how he had kept his strength enough to enable him to stagger back into the office.

The inspector and Nick gazed at the body for a moment in sorrowful silence.

“Poor Tom,” said Nick, “you did your best. But, if I live, your cowardly murder shall be avenged.”

The inspector did not know who the murdered man was until Nick explained that Sweet was the man he sent to shadow Weeden and Young.

Immediately after the explanation a general alarm was sent out, so that steps could be taken to arrest the assassins before they had time to leave the city.

After this had been done, Nick and the inspector, accompanied by the young surgeon, made their way to Brooklyn.{229}

They called first on the inspector in charge of the Brooklyn detective bureau, to whom the inspector explained the nature of their business. The inspector was astounded when he learned from Nick Carter the character of Weeden. The man bore such an excellent reputation, for sobriety and honesty, that he could scarcely credit what he heard.

“If you have any doubt as to the correctness of what I have just told you, here are proofs that I am sure will satisfy you,” said Nick.

He handed the inspector a document, and a photograph from the rogues’ gallery, of Boston, numbered 1313.

The inspector read the document carefully and scrutinized the picture.

“Your information seems to be correct, Mr. Carter,” he said, as he handed the paper and the photograph back to Nick. “It seems that Weeden is a dangerous character, as well as a cunning hypocrite.”

After a moment’s pause, he added: “I agree with Mr. Carter. Weeden has either committed these murders or else been a party to them. I am ready to aid him in running down the criminals.”

Nick explained that he had brought a young surgeon with him so that a careful examination of the bodies might be made.

The party at once went to the morgue.

Upon their arrival there the doctor went skillfully to work.

On the left side of each body was found a slight puncture, just over the heart.

Nick followed the doctor’s examination very care{230}fully, as did the two other detectives. The doctor, as he probed the puncture of the last body, gave a startled exclamation.

“What is it?” demanded Nick.

“Wait a minute,” said the doctor, as he proceeded to cut away a small portion of the flesh. The knife ran against a minute metallic substance. A close examination showed that it was a small needle, one end having a slight opening in the end of it.

The needle had been driven clean through the heart.

On the point of it was a bright yellow spot.

The doctor, after some trouble, drew it forth. How it had been driven into the body was a mystery. The doctor made a hasty examination of the other bodies, and from the heart of each he drew forth a similar instrument of death.

“Never before,” he said, “have I seen so unique a manner employed in putting a fellow creature out of the world. The five pieces of steel have pierced almost in the same spot, the deviation being less than one-sixteenth of an inch. One thing is certain, these men all died instantly.”

“Why are you certain?” asked Nick. “Might they not have died before these murderous needles were driven into their hearts?”

“Such a thing is impossible,” said the doctor. “They all died in the same way.”

Nick Carter was puzzled.

If Jack Weeden was the murderer he had chosen a strange way to slay his victims.

Had these men been enticed to his place? And, if so, how? Had they been drugged?{231}

The doctor said they had not, but that the yellow spot on the point of each needle was Ewara, a powerful poison, which is used by the fanatics in India.

“Who could have secured this poison?” wondered Nick.

Here, perhaps, was a clew which would enable him to run to earth the murderer of these men, who had met such a strange and untimely end.

One thing that puzzled Nick, and also Inspector Ward and the doctor, was how these bits of steel had been projected into the heart of each of the victims. It seemed preposterous that they could have been shot into the bodies.

During the doctor’s operations the bodies lay exposed on the marble slabs. The party was about to leave the morgue when the ambulance came in. In it was the dead body of a man who had been found in exactly the same spot as the other victims.

His death had been caused in the same manner. A piece of needle, with its fatal yellow point, had been driven through the man’s heart.

While the doctor was making an examination of the last body a shadow crossed one of the windows of the morgue.

A face was flattened against one of the dingy panes of glass. It remained but an instant only.

None of the party had seen it.

The startling report of a pistol shot rang out through the stillness of the night. With a loud crash the shattered glass fell to the floor as the bullet sped into the room.

Simultaneous with the report, a cry went up from{232} the driver of the ambulance as he fell to the floor in his death agony.

Unfortunately for him, he had just stepped in front of Nick Carter, and received the bullet meant for the detective.

Nick was the first to recover his presence of mind. In an instant he was out into the street. A block away he saw a man spring into a motor car and drive furiously away.

While he could not see the man’s face, Nick could have sworn from his general appearance that the man who jumped into the machine was Jack Weeden.{233}



Did the man in the motor car fire the shot which had killed the driver of the ambulance? Nick was certain that it was so. It was useless to try to pursue the man on foot.

As Nick was about to reënter the morgue, Inspector Ward came out. His face was white with excitement.

“Did you see the man who fired the shot?” he asked.


“Who was it?”

“I am positive that it was Weeden.”

“Did you see his face?”

“No, I didn’t. But from the man’s general appearance I could have sworn it was he. This is two murders that Weeden has been guilty of to-day. The first was poor Sweet; the second the driver of the ambulance,” said Nick.

“It was a mighty lucky thing for you that the driver stepped in front of you just as he did, or we should not have had the services of Nick Carter, the famous detective, at our disposal now.”

“Yes, the poor fellow saved my life,” said Nick. “The bullet evidently was meant for me.”

The doctor, having finished his work, bade the detectives good night.

After he had gone they walked slowly up the street. A taxicab was driving by the corner. Nick and Inspector Ward hailed the chauffeur. Having made a{234} bargain with him, they directed him to drive them to Weeden’s shop.

He looked at them very hard. It was evident that he had recognized them, and had purposely thrown himself in their way. If they had seen the gleam in the chauffeur’s eye, as he made a motion to three men who stood in the shadow of a doorway on the other side of the street, they would have been on their guard.

They did not see it, however.

The vehicle was driven rapidly in the direction of Grant Avenue. The machine had not left the corner more than a couple of minutes when a taxicab surrey with drawn curtains drove up.

The three men who had been standing on the other side of the street jumped in and drove in the direction of the vehicle occupied by the inspector and Nick Carter.

Jack Weeden was not among the men who were following the detectives. Had he anything to do with them? They probably were his accomplices. Their following of the detectives boded no good to the men who were trying to solve “Mystery 47.”

Great masses of dark clouds obscured the stars; fierce gusts of wind howled dismally through the branches of the trees at the roadside; peals of thunder broke the stillness of the night; vivid flashes of lightning illumined the sky for an instant and made the roadway as light as day.

“I’m afraid this may upset our plans,” said Nick, as he looked out of the taxi window.

That instant a gust of wind blew his hat into the{235} road. It fell into a pool of water. With an exclamation Nick shouted to the chauffeur to stop.

The man obeyed, and Nick sprang to the ground. As he did so, he saw the taxi that was following.

When the motor car stopped the taxi stopped also. Nick gave a glance at the chauffeur and saw that there was a diabolical grin on his face as he sat on the box looking down at him.

“That chauffeur,” Nick muttered to himself, “is Phil Meloy.”

The chauffeur of the motor car seemed to have grown nervous. He glanced back at the taxi, and, with a muttered oath, was about to drive on when Nick stopped him.

“What’s the matter?” asked the inspector, as he put his head out of the window.

“We are being followed,” replied Nick.

“By whom?”

“By that taxi with the four men in it. It is now waiting for us to go on.”

“How do you know?”

Nick quietly told Inspector Ward about the chauffeur, Meloy.

“He is one of the most desperate characters I have ever met,” said Nick, “and, as for him being a licensed chauffeur, that is all rot. That taxi probably contains Weeden and some of his pals. Let us go back and arrest Weeden and Young, if they are in the party.”

As they were about to start up the road the chauffeur of the motor car made a motion with his arm.

It was evidently a signal to the chauffeur of the taxi,{236} as he suddenly threw in the clutch, and, turning around, dashed off in the opposite direction.

“Too late,” cried Nick. “They saw us and have skipped.”

Fifteen minutes later the motor car drew up at Weeden’s shop and the detectives got out. They found no one in the shop, which contained four rooms.

“There is nothing here,” said Nick; “let’s get back into the machine.”

The chauffeur had been watching their every movement. He peered anxiously up and down the road, by which he had come, expecting, no doubt, the arrival of his accomplices in the taxi.

Not a drop of rain had fallen as yet from the threatening clouds that swept furiously overhead, though the winds tore the branches from the trees.

“Now show me the exact spot where these bodies were found,” said Nick.

The inspector walked down the road.

“Who is that?” Nick asked, as his quick eye perceived the figure of a ragged-looking old man who sat by the roadside. His clothing was in tatters; his long hair was matted on his shoulders, and his torn shoes were tied with bits of cord.

In his right hand he carried a heavy staff.

He appeared to be either shortsighted or partially blind.

“Oh, that old fellow bobbed up here about a week or so ago,” said Inspector Ward.

“What is he?”

“Oh, I guess he’s a tramp; anyhow, he looks as if he had been on the road for forty years or more.{237}

“This is a peculiar neighborhood for him to be in. What is his business here?”

“Why, he’s begging here, I suppose.”

“Oh,” said Nick quietly.

It certainly was a peculiar location for a beggar to choose. Few people passed there, and those who did were not of the class who had money to give away, even to a poor old beggar, reasoned Nick to himself.

“The murders were committed right near this spot, were they not?” Nick asked, pointing to a place about ten feet from where the aged tramp sat.

“Precisely; the bodies were found right there.”

“What is the name of that old fellow?”

“They call him Benny the Bum.”

“He seems to be blind.”

“I believe he is, and deaf, too; at least that’s what they all say around here.”

“I don’t know about that. I’ll test him by asking him which he would rather have, a quarter or a dollar.”

Inspector Ward laughed.

Nick Carter was serious.

Perhaps Benny the Bum was not so blind as he would have people believe. He probably was like the majority of his calling, a fraud.

“I’m going to talk to him,” said Nick, as he crossed the road.

“Hello, Benny!”

Nick spoke in tones that an ordinarily deaf man could hear. The tramp answered at once: “Well, what do you want?”

“I’ve got a charitable friend with me who will pay{238} you well if you will tell him what mark to put on his gate so the other tramps will see it and keep out.”

The beggar gave a hoarse chuckle. “Maybe he owns a bank; if he does, he can pay me well.”

“No, he don’t,” Nick replied, “but he will give you ten dollars if you will tell him.”

After the first few words the conversation had been conducted in ordinary tones. Nick had led the supposed tramp on cunningly. He had gained his point. The beggar was not deaf.

And he must have heard the sounds of the various murders committed so near him.

Was it possible that this tramp had had any hand in these ghastly acts?

“He is no more blind than he is deaf,” Nick muttered to himself. “I’ll bet he is an accomplice of Jack Weeden. I——”

Four men stole quietly into the road through a hole in the hedge.

They sprang forward with savage oaths.

They were the same men who had followed Nick Carter and the chief in the taxicab.

Before the detectives had a chance to draw their weapons they found themselves looking into the muzzles of four shining revolvers.

With an exultant cry the apparent blind beggar sprang to his feet cursing like a demon.{239}



Nick and the inspector were taken aback by this turn of affairs.

As the beggar hobbled down the road his hoarse laugh came back mockingly.

At the same moment that the four men appeared, two others came from the direction of Weeden’s house; they were Meloy and the chauffeur of the taxi.

The question that flitted through Nick Carter’s mind was: “Where was Weeden?”

None of the men who confronted the detectives bore any resemblance to Weeden or Billy Young.

Was it possible that the old tramp was none other than Weeden in disguise. He was evidently a fraud.

Nick made up his mind that he would look after the beggar when they had finished with the rascals who now confronted them. That they would be able to overcome the men, who now threatened them, Nick was almost certain. He had been in tighter places before, and his calmness and courage had gotten him out of many a hole. After Meloy and his companion had arrived the detectives were ordered to throw up their hands. As they were covered by the guns of the men they were compelled to submit.

At this moment the rain commenced to come down in torrents.

The flashes of lightning and the awful peals of thunder made the scene a weird one.{240}

“Meloy, see what these fly cops have on them,” commanded the leader of the gang.

He was about to obey the order when a terrific peal of thunder, accompanied by a blinding flash of lightning, struck a tree at the side of the road.

The tree fell with a tremendous crash across the road, burying two of the men under it as it fell.

The rest fell back, awed for the moment; it seemed as if the heavens had opened and sent a messenger to the aid of the detectives.

The instant’s delay had given Nick Carter and the inspector time to draw their revolvers, and when the villains had recovered from their surprise they were looking down the shining barrels of the weapons that were in the hands of the two detectives.

“The tables are turned,” rang out in Nick’s clear tones; “throw down your guns or we will shoot you full of holes!”

The only answer that the men made was the report from two of their guns. They did not propose to be taken without a fight.

The first shot that was fired struck the inspector in the shoulder, the second one just grazed Nick’s head, inflicting a slight scalp wound.

The inspector, wounded as he was, pluckily returned the fire of the villains. One of them gave an unearthly yell and dropped to the ground with a bullet through his heart.

Nick’s revolver spoke quickly, and the man at whom he fired dropped to the ground without a cry; Nick had shot him through the head.

The inspector had fainted from loss of blood. This{241} left Nick alone with Meloy and the chauffeur of the taxi.

Both of these men were great, husky fellows, and, besides, they knew that it was to be a fight to the death.

Meloy sprang at Nick with a horrible oath. He was followed by the chauffeur.

The latter struck a terrific blow at Nick with his fist, knocking Nick’s revolver from his grasp.

A yell of triumph came from Meloy as he saw that the detective was unarmed.

It looked as if Nick Carter was about to meet his doom.

Nick waited patiently the onslaught of his assailants as they dashed toward him with yells of savage delight.

As the chauffeur of the taxi reached him, Nick struck out with his left, and the fellow staggered back under the force of the blow, landing on his back on the ground.

In an instant he was on his feet and made a savage rush at Nick. Meloy aimed a terrific blow at Nick’s head.

The detective adroitly dodged the blow meant for him, and gave his assailant a couple of heavy blows in rapid succession.

Meloy went down like a log, and lay on the ground motionless. He evidently had had enough to last him for a while, at least.

The driver, who was a boxer of no little skill, tried to bewilder the detective by cunningly feinting, hoping that he would be able to get Nick to leave an opening through which he could deliver a blow that would set{242}tle the detective for a moment until he could draw a knife, and then he would quiet Nick Carter for all time.

The rascal did not know that Nick was a past master at the art of boxing.

Try as hard as he could, he was not able to break through Nick’s guard, and in a few moments he was panting for breath, while Nick was laughing at the fellow’s desperation.

As a last resort, he tried to kick the detective, but again he was unsuccessful.

Finally he made one last desperate effort to strike Nick in the stomach. Nick stepped quickly to one side and dealt him a terrific blow on the side of the jaw.

The fellow spun around for a moment, and then fell to the ground as if he had been struck on the head with a club.

Nick turned around to see what had become of the other two men that had been standing by the tree when it had been struck by lightning.

They were nowhere to be seen.

The rain was falling in torrents, and there did not seem to be any chance of it ceasing.

What had become of the inspector was Nick’s thought as he turned to where he had seen him fall.

He must be taken care of at all hazards.

The inspector lay as he had fallen, while the blood oozed from the wound.

He was unconscious.

“I must get him to the city at once,” said Nick, to himself.{243}

As Nick turned to look where the taxi had been left, he had just time to dodge a murderous blow that the driver of the taxi was about to deal him; the fellow had recovered consciousness and was bent on murdering Nick.

“You coward, you!” said Nick, as he dealt the fellow a blow on the side of the head that sent him to the ground. As the fellow arose Nick gave him another one, and the rascal went down and out.

Having disposed of the fellow, Nick turned his attention to the inspector.

He lifted him in his arms and bore him gently to the taxi. After cranking the machine, Nick jumped to the chauffeur’s seat and drove rapidly in the direction of Brooklyn.

Stopping at the house of a doctor, whose sign he had noticed coming over, Nick went in and told the physician that he had a friend outside who was in need of medical attention, and that he would bring him in at once.

When the wounded man was brought into the house the doctor looked at him and shook his head gravely.

“This appears to be a very serious wound,” he said. “It may not be fatal, however. May I ask you how your friend came by such a wound?”

Nick did not tell him how the inspector had been wounded, nor did he tell him that the patient was a police official.

“Do your best by my friend. I will be back to-morrow and see how he is getting along,” said Nick, as he took his leave.{244}



Five minutes after Nick had driven away from the spot where the encounter had taken place, a dozen rough-looking men had come from the woods and were looking around to see if they could find any trace of the detectives.

They were piloted around by the chauffeur of the taxi, who declared that the two officers had been assaulted and thrown to the ground by Meloy and himself.

“You see,” said the fellow, as he stopped at the side of the road, “we had a desperate fight with the two cops, but we were more than a match for them.”

“But where are they?” asked one of the party.

“Right back of where you are standing,” the other answered.

The party looked back of the woods, but were not able to find any trace of the two detectives; they turned on the driver and were going to call him to account when they saw that he had been injured and that he was out of his mind.

The beating that Nick Carter had given him was too much for him, trained athlete that he was.

“Where is Meloy?” one of the men asked.

“I don’t know,” replied the chauffeur.

“I supposed that Meloy was a match for any detective on the force,” said one of the fellows when Meloy’s insensible body was found.{245}

“He is a match for any ordinary man,” replied the other, “but you can’t expect him to whip a man like Nick Carter.”

“You don’t mean to say that Nick Carter is on the case that has so long baffled the police, do you?”

“Yes, the case has been turned over to him, and I tell you, boys, that we have got to be very careful, or we will find that we are up against a losing game,” said one of the older men.

“I think that the best thing that we can do,” spoke up the leader of the gang, “is to wait for this detective and blow out his brains. I tell you that he is a dangerous man, and the sooner we are rid of him the safer it will be for us.”

“You are right,” came a voice from out the darkness.

“Benny the Bum by all the imps in the place below,” said the leader.

“You are mistaken, Hall, it is not Benny the Bum, but Jack Weeden, at your service,” said the voice.

As he stepped out into the light of a lantern that the leader carried, Jack Weeden looked like the old tramp that had been on the side of the road when the fight began that afternoon.

His make-up was wonderful, and when he commenced to talk, as the tramp had done in the afternoon, the gang were more surprised than ever, as none of them had seen their leader in the disguise before, and, although they had had orders to obey the tramp, they did not know who he was until now.

Hall laughed at how his chief had fooled him, and{246} the others could hardly restrain a cheer at the cleverness of the man who ruled them.

“What orders have you to give us now?” asked the leader.

“I want you to find Nick Carter, and when you do——”

“All right, sir, we will do the rest.”

“But where did he go?”

“He left in the motor car with the inspector, and he will probably go to some doctor’s.”

“Part of you fellows stay here and attend to the men who are hurt, and the rest of you go to where Nick Carter has taken the inspector, which you will probably find is the first doctor on the road as you enter Brooklyn.”

“All right, sir, we are off.”

Jack Weeden watched them as they went off up the road; a satisfied smile was on his lips; he knew that if these men ever got Nick Carter in their clutches, the detective’s life was to be the forfeit for the manner in which he had injured their comrades.{247}



When Nick Carter left the doctor’s house he was buried in thought. The events of the day had occurred so quickly that he had hardly had time to figure out in his mind the best thing to do next.

In the first place, what did it mean that Weeden should turn up in the company of Billy Young, the burglar?

What was their object in killing Tom Sweet? Was it possible that they had been seen going somewhere that would have betrayed them?

The visit to the morgue, and the killing of the driver of the ambulance, showed that they knew that he was on the case; also it was evident that they feared that when he took up the case that he would be able to discover the guilty ones.

The great detective, as he walked along, pondered over the various aspects of the strange case. The murders had all been committed by using strange pieces of steel dipped in poison of some kind. As the detective revolved the case in his mind three important questions presented themselves: Who had imported the poison? How had the pieces of steel been driven into the bodies of the murdered men? What object actuated the murderers?

A visit to the scene of the crimes would perhaps throw some light on the matter.

“I will visit the spot to-morrow,” thought Nick; “a{248} search of the woods in the daytime might show something that would give me a clew on which to work.

“I will be better prepared when I go there to-morrow,” said Nick, to himself. “I will get a hold of that beggar if he is anywhere around, and I will see if he knows anything about the murders. It may be that he is the man that has committed the crimes.

“I am sure of one thing, and that is that he is a fraud, pure and simple. Another thing that I must do is to get a hold of the crook, Billy Young, and see what he knows about the killing of my man yesterday.”

If Nick Carter had seen the machine that went by the doctor’s house, while he was inside, he would not have been so sure of reaching the spot in the woods where the murders were committed.

The men who had been sent by Jack Weeden were in the machine.

Of course Nick did not know this.

He drove on, thinking of the things that he had to do.

The vehicle swayed from side to side as it rattled over the cobblestones; this did not worry Nick, as his thoughts were too much taken up by other things.

He had reached the park, when the car gave a sudden lurch and toppled over on its side.

It was smashed to pieces.

That Nick was not killed seemed to him to be a miracle.

He alighted in a ditch, which had been partly filled by the rain. Almost suffocated, he crawled out of the ditch, only to find himself grasped by several brawny hands.{249}

The truth flashed upon him. The smashing of his car had been deliberately planned.

While he was struggling with his captors he thought to himself: “This is some more work of Jack Weeden.”

He struggled for a few minutes with a semblance of resistance; he did not want to display too much strength before he had time to reflect.

His captors thought that his fall had taken his strength, and very slightly loosened their hold on him.

This was exactly what Nick had wanted them to do.

With a sudden wrench he tore himself free, and gave the man nearest to him a smashing blow in the face that sent him to the ground.

It was a good beginning.

He rained blow after blow on those nearest him, until he had cleared a circle.

Then, for the first time, did the would-be assassins give vent to their feelings. They raved and cursed as they saw him fell one after another of their comrades.

“Kill him!” yelled a voice.

“Shoot the detective!” screamed another.

“Stab him to the heart!”

“Hit him on the head with a club!”

A shot whizzed by Nick’s head; it was too close for comfort.

He suddenly remembered that he had taken a revolver from the body of the man that the inspector had killed that afternoon; he would use it.

Had his fall into the ditch ruined it?

Nick concluded that he would see.{250}

His assailants were rushing toward him again; by the light of the lantern he could see that they were armed; he must do something to save his life.

Taking aim as well as he could in the uncertain light, he aimed at the man who was nearest him.

He fired.

The man who received the shot gave a scream and fell to the ground, shot through the heart.

Nick fired another shot; another yell gave evidence that this one had also hit the mark.

Nick had forgotten the man that he had sent to the ground with a smash when he was first attacked.

The fellow had revived and was creeping up on Nick, when, suddenly, there was a blinding flash, and the outlaw dropped to the ground a charred and shapeless mass.

It was the work of Providence.

Once more had right triumphed.{251}



Hall and his comrades were panic-stricken; they could not seem to realize what had happened.

It was an instant before Nick fully realized the danger that had threatened him.

He had heard the terrific report and had seen the ball of fire as it descended, but he did not know for a moment that the man had been creeping up behind him until he saw the stone in his hand.

The men were at the detective again.

Suddenly the noise of horses’ hoofbeats were heard.

Hall, the leader of the outlaws, cried to his men: “It is the police; fly!”

The rascals jumped the hedge and disappeared into the park.

Was it the mounted police?

Nick listened, but the noise had ceased.

He then went to look at the motor car; it was a shattered wreck.

“I guess that was one of the closest shaves that I have had in a long time,” said Nick.

A small electric pocket flash lay on the roadside where it had been dropped by one of the men who attacked Nick.

The detective picked it up and proceeded to look over the scene of battle.

The first thing that he saw was the body of the first man that he had shot.{252}

Nick turned him over and flashed the light in his face.

It was covered with blood; Nick wiped it away; he thought that it might be either Jack Weeden or the burglar, Billy Young.

It was neither.

“Fred Rowe,” exclaimed Nick, as he recognized the features of the corpse. “A more unprincipled scoundrel never lived. A man of good family and excellent position, he took to bad companionship, and this is his end.”

About a dozen feet farther down the road he saw the body of the man who had been stricken down by the thunderbolt.

His features had been so badly burned that Nick was unable to recognize who it had been.

While Nick was looking at the man who lay at his feet, he was seized from behind and dashed to the ground.

All of the breath was knocked out of his body by the fall.

“I guess that this is my finish,” he bitterly reflected. “I should have been more careful; I did not think that they would return.”

Nick was wrong. It was not Hall and his gang that had returned.

“Sallie, drat you! Why don’t you bring me that rope so that I can tie this critter?”

The tones in which these words were said convinced Nick that the people who had caught him were not members of the Hall band, or, if they were, they talked differently from any of the others.{253}

“I wonder who they are?” asked Nick, of himself.

“Gosh hang it, will you hurry with that rope? I don’t want to sit here all night.”

“I reckon that you are an old crank; I have dropped it.”

“Well, hurry up and find it! I don’t want to sit on this feller; he is too slippery.”

This conversation would have been very amusing to Nick were it not for the fact that his unknown captor was sitting on his head and his face was being pressed down into the mud.

When Nick had recovered his breath, he asked, as best he could, if his captor did not think that it would be a good idea to let him up.

“I reckon that you must take me for a fool,” said the man. “I had trouble enough to get you down, to go and let you set up.”

“But you have got the wrong man,” persisted Nick.

“I am too old a bird to be caught by such fine talk. Didn’t I catch you right in the act?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” said Nick.

“Why, I caught you right in the same old trick of robbing people, and I don’t know but that you are the fellow that has been doing the killing around these parts.”

“Say, are you ever coming with that rope?” yelled the fellow to the woman. “Do you suppose that I asked you to get it for fun? You are slower than a freight train.”

As he turned to see if the woman had yet secured the rope, he eased up somewhat on Nick.

The detective had been waiting for this.{254}

He drew himself together, and, with a tremendous effort, hunched his knees together and threw the fellow sprawling several paces distant, where he landed in a pool of water.

The woman had come up with the lantern now, and she was the picture of astonishment when she saw Nick standing up and her companion over in the water.

“Well, I say, who might you be?” she asked.

“I might be a good many people, but I am somebody else,” answered Nick laughingly.

“Whoever you are, there is one thing certain, and that is that you are a cool one,” she said.

“I do feel rather cool after having been pressed down into the mud by your husband there,” said Nick Carter.

“Husband, indeed!” she sniffed. “Do you suppose that I would marry an old fossil like that thing over in the water? I reckon I could get finer men than he dares to be.”

“I have not seen his face,” said Nick apologetically.

“If he was a handsome young feller like you,” continued the woman, “I might not mind.”

Nick, for the first time, took a good look at her as she stood in the glare of the lantern.

She was rawboned, with the shoulders of a husky young farmer; her hair was as fiery a red as it could possibly be; her face was disfigured by a scar that ran down the left cheek; her brilliant black eyes were the only redeeming feature of the woman’s face.

Her voice was the thing that had attracted Nick—it was discordance itself.

“I reckon you must be pretty strong to throw the{255} old man,” she continued, with a chuckle. “He is forever bragging about how good he can rastle, and this will take him down a peg or two. He’s forever blowing about how strong he is, and how he used to win all the matches at the corner store. I am fur you, if you go at him again.{256}



Nick Carter looked at the woman in silence for a few minutes, and then he asked:

“What was the object of your father trying to hold me down on the ground? I have no money, and he would not get anything of value from the few papers that I have in my clothes?”

“First of all, let me tell you that he ain’t my father, nor my husband; he is just an ordinary fourth cousin. He did not want to rob you at all, but I suppose that he wanted to stop you robbin’ somebody else.”

“Oh, he took me for a robber?” asked Nick. “Do you think that I am a robber?”

“No, I don’t think that you are a robber. I think that you are one of them fellers that goes around looking fur robbers,” was the woman’s startling reply.

“What makes you think that?” asked Nick.

“Oh, that was easy. I knew that as soon as I saw you.”

“But how did you know that I was an officer?”

“Why, when your coat flew back I saw your badge, and that is how I told.”

“Why did you not tell your cousin to let up on me, if he is an honest man?”

“I suppose that I had ought to have done it, but he has been so much on the bragging line lately that I thought that I would see if he could really rastle. You looked like a husky chap, and I saw a chance to test him,” responded the woman, with a laugh.{257}

Nick’s attention was now called to the man that he had thrown over into the pool of water.

The fellow had crawled out and was coming for Nick.

“I suppose you think that I am a durned fool. I was pretty hasty when I saw you,” he said.

“You were a bit hasty,” assented the detective, “but I think that you got as good as you gave, and so we will call it even.”

“Yes, I think, Mr. Officer, that you gave him a good deal better than he gave you, and I am right glad, as it will keep his mouth shet for a while,” put in Sallie.

“Women has too much to say in this day, so you had better take a reef in your jaw,” growled the fellow, as he scraped the mud off of his clothes.

Nick, upon questioning the man, found that he lived on a farm a few miles from Brooklyn, and that he had passed the scene of the murders each day as he went to market with his produce.

He had been going to market that evening, so that he would get a better price for his things, and had heard the pistol shots. When he did, he hurried his horses until he was almost to the spot where the fight took place, and then he concluded that it would be safer to go ahead on foot and find out what was going on.

It was the noise of his horses that had frightened Hall and his gang.

“You see that, when I came up into the road and saw you bending over the body of that fellow there, I thought that I had captured the man that had committed the murders that have stirred up the country{258} round here, and I concluded that I would take him into the city and turn him over to the police.”

“If you live so near the scene of the murders you must know something about them, or, at least, you have heard some of the folks around talk of them, so tell me what you know,” said Nick.

“Yes,” assented the fellow, “I have heard some talk of the murders, and lots more about the robbers who are making life miserable for the people around here.”

“How is it that you are not afraid of them?” asked Nick.

“Because the people around here know that I am pretty husky myself, and that when I get my money for the stuff that I sell in the city I put it in the bank.”

“Then some of the other people who live around here have not been so fortunate as you?” asked Nick.

“I should say not. There was Farmer Grout, who was robbed of over three hundred dollars, night before last; they took his gold watch and chain, too.”

“Did Grout report the matter to the police?”

“He? No, he was too scared, and, besides, the people around here are so terrified that they would rather submit to any loss than have the ill feeling of the desperate band that is making things so hot around Astoria for the people that pass the woods near the automobile repair shop of Jack Weeden.”

“Well, I suppose that Weeden knew of the robberies, then?” asked Nick.

“I didn’t say that he did, did I?”

“No, you did not say that he did, but don’t you think that he did?” persisted Nick.{259}

“I would hardly like to say that, as Weeden has the reputation of being an honest man.”

“I don’t think that he is as good as folks think,” put in the woman Sallie.

“Shet up,” said the farmer, “you women talk too much, and your tongues often get you and your folks into a lot of trouble that you needn’t get into. I don’t know much about the man,” he added, to Nick.

“I guess that this fellow is about as scared of the man Weeden as are the rest,” thought Nick.

“It seems that you, Miss Sallie, are not afraid of this man that seems to have inspired the community with such dread.”

“You can just bet that I am not scared of him, and Harry Block knows it as well as any of the rest of them,” said Sallie.

“And pray who is Harry Block?” asked Nick.

“That is my name,” spoke up the farmer; “but I wouldn’t pay attention to what she says, as you ought to know that wimmenfolks talks too much; they are very undescreet.”

“My, what a long tail our cat has got all of a sudden,” said Sallie scornfully.

“Will you shet your mouth?” growled the farmer; “you talk too gosh-darned much, I tell you.”

“I know a darn sight more about it than you want me to tell.”

“Won’t you please keep quiet?” the man growled. “Are you going to Brooklyn?” he asked, turning to Nick, who had been listening attentively to the conversation.{260}

“Yes, I am going to Brooklyn, but I would like to hear more about this man that your cousin seems to know so much about.”

“Do you suspect him of robbing that man the other night?”

“He might have had a hand in it if he did not do it himself,” said Nick.

“Well, seein’ as Sallie appears to know all about it, I would suggest that she tell you what she knows; she is so all-fired smart,” said the farmer sullenly.

“Ain’t you ashamed of yourself!” exclaimed the woman. “Why don’t you be honest and tell the detective all about it? That is the only manly thing to do. There is no harm in telling him what you know, as you had nothing to do with it, and it may help him run down the people that he is looking for.”

“Did you ever see such a woman in your life? She will be saying next that I am the man that did the robbery, myself. Bless me, if I would marry a woman like you for a million dollars.”

“Ha, ha! that is funny. You forget that you have been asking me to marry you every day for the last ten years, and that I have always told you that I would sooner marry a tadpole than you,” said Sallie.

“Well, let’s go up the road, as we are only losing time standing here and listening to the chatter of that fair cousin of mine.” Saying which, Block took the lantern from Sallie’s hand, and, motioning to Nick to follow, led the way up the road.

What was the reason of the farmer not wanting to talk about Weeden?{261}

Was it because he was afraid of him, or was it possible that he, too, was mixed up with the gang and afraid to talk?

“I will get this man to talk before I am through with him, or my name is not Nick Carter,” said Nick to himself, as they reached the wagon.{262}



When the farm wagon had reached the park, Nick commenced to talk about one thing and another, cunningly putting in from time to time questions about the murders and about Weeden.

“Is Astoria a healthy place?” asked Nick, as a starter.

“I reckon it is healthy enough for some people,” said the farmer.

“Not for such men as your friend that was relieved of his pocketbook, is it?” asked Nick, with a laugh.

“No, I hardly think that it is, although it is better than getting a bullet in you,” was the answer.

“Are there many doctors around here?”

“No, there ain’t any regular doctors around here, that I know of, excepting the ones at the asylum, and they are so thundering high-priced that it is cheaper for a man to die than to go to them, so most of the people around here either goes without doctoring or else dies.”

“I suppose that you are all healthy, and seldom need a doctor.”

“Most of us are in pretty good shape, and seldom need anything excepting a dose of physic now and then; there is Grout, the man that was robbed the other night—he has been sick ever since, at least he says that he is sick, although I think that the losing of his money is the thing that is the matter with him.”


“Yes, and the day after he got touched up for his money he went into town and bought himself a medicine chest filled with all sorts of funny-looking things. There was lots of curious-shaped things in the instrument line; there was a lot of funny-looking medicines that I have never seen the like of in any drug store, and a book telling you the effects of poisons. He did not mean me to see that, but when his back was turned I took a peep at the book.”

“What do you suppose that he wants with all this stuff? He would not be allowed to practice medicine without a license from the State?”

“Practice nothing. Why the old fool cannot write his name.”

It was plain to Nick Carter that there was something back of this that would be worth looking into.

Farmer Grout was evidently a man that it would be worth while watching; he, too, might be one of the band that had been terrorizing the neighborhood, and then might he not be the man that had furnished the poison that had tipped the steel projectiles that had been found in the bodies of the men who were found within a few yards of the home of Jack Weeden?

If he was connected with the gang, he would probably need something with which to patch up the members of it when they were wounded, and he might be a skillful surgeon who had allied himself with this band of outlaws and posed as a farmer to throw off suspicion. The robbery, too, might have been part of the scheme to put the authorities off the scent, if at any time they should find out anything that tended to point the finger of suspicion at him. It was evident{264} that this man, Weeden, had as carefully a selected gang of villains as could be found in the United States.

“We were speaking of Jack Weeden a few moments ago,” said Nick; “tell me, who is his doctor?”

The farmer looked worried.

“I don’t know anything about him, as I have told you,” was the sullen reply.

“Don’t you think that as a neighbor you ought to know? Suppose you were asked to go for the doctor for him some night, what would you do?”

“I suppose that if I was asked to go for the doctor,” replied the farmer slowly, “I would—well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what I would do.”

Sallie giggled.

It was just barely audible, but the quick ears of Nick Carter heard it.

“I wonder what there is so funny in that?” Nick asked himself. “I suppose that the woman thinks that Block is going to pull the wool over my eyes. Well, here is where I will fool them.”

Nick concluded that the best thing he could do was to play on the vanity of the woman.

“Of course, with all respect to you, Mr. Block, I suppose that you leave all the thinking that you have to do to your cousin, Miss Sallie, who seems to be very quick in grasping the meaning of the questions that I have asked.”

Sallie simpered and looked as pleased as her vinegar-like features would allow her.

“Didn’t I tell you that I always was much smarter than you are?” she said to her cousin.{265}

“Didn’t Jack Weeden ever do any work for you or your cousin?” asked Nick, of the woman.

“Yes, he has done work for me two or three times; he fixed the wheels of my bicycle, but each time that he did it he kept it so long that I thought that perhaps he sent it into town to have it done there. He didn’t seem to know exactly what to do with it when I took it to him, and he said that he would have to have one of his men fix it, as he had several other jobs on hand,” was her reply.

“When automobiles have come to his shop to be repaired, who generally did the work?” asked Nick.

“One of his men usually did, while he either looked on or else went into the shop and pretended to be fixing the forge.”

It was evident that the automobile shop was a blind.{266}



The great farm wagon was going along toward Brooklyn slowly, the lights in the distance were growing brighter as the party approached the city.

Suddenly Nick turned to the farmer, and said: “I didn’t suppose for a moment that you would tell me anything that I wanted to know about Jack Weeden, or any of his gang, but I thought it best to ask you before I decided on my course of action. I will give you another chance to tell me the truth, and I can assure you that it will be to your interest to tell me all that you know. I will be fair with you, and I intend that you shall be honest with me.”

The only reply that he received was a muttered oath from Block.

“Go on!” commanded Nick.

“What the devil are you driving at?” finally asked the farmer.

“I want to know what you know about this man Weeden and his gang, and I want the truth.”

“Anybody would think that you thought that I was in league with the band of outlaws!” cried the farmer, in alarm.

“How do you know that there is a band of outlaws here?” asked Nick suddenly.

The farmer was confused.

He turned to the woman and said: “Sallie, you are a she-devil. This is all your fault, and you have{267} got to take the consequences. I will never forgive you for what you have done, drat you.”

“You must not blame the lady,” said Nick quietly; “she has done the thing that will be the best for you, and she has shown very good judgment. I am going to have the truth from you before we part at the Brooklyn police headquarters.”

“You don’t mean to say that you are going to arrest me, do you?”

“That will depend largely upon yourself,” replied Nick.

“I like your gall, to talk to me like that, and especially as you are riding in my rig; I have half a mind to throw you out.”

“I would not do that if I were you,” Nick calmly replied.

“Then you get off my wagon right away!”

“I don’t think that I shall.”

Block leaped to his feet and aimed a heavy blow with his whip at Nick.

“Don’t do that. Stop it, I say!” came in terrified tones from Sallie.


The whip cut through the air where Nick a moment before had been.

He had stepped to one side as he saw the farmer prepare to strike.

The farmer, overbalanced by his savage move, had fallen out after the whip.

“My heavens! He is killed!” screamed Sallie.

“No, he is not; it would take a harder fall than that to kill your worthy cousin,” said Nick reassuringly.{268}

Nick leaped lightly to the ground, and, gathering the farmer in his arms, he tossed him back into the wagon.

It was as pretty a piece of athletic work as Nick had ever done.

Sallie sat with her mouth open. When she recovered from her surprise, she said:

“No wonder my cousin could not hold you down when he was on top of you in the road.”

As soon as the farmer was able to get his breath, he sat up and looked at Nick as if that worthy were a creature from some other planet.

Finally he managed to say:

“You are a wonder. Tell me how you did it, and I will give you ten dollars.”

“You will tell me all that I want to know before we discuss the other matter,” said Nick.

“You can’t make me talk unless I want to,” growled Block.

“No; but I can lock you up, and keep you there until you will.”

“Oh, no, you can’t.”

“Consider yourself my prisoner, then,” Nick said sternly.

“What am I charged with?” demanded the farmer.

“Of being an accomplice of Jack Weeden and his gang.”

“Of what are they guilty?”


“You had better tell the man all that you know about that gang,” said Sallie. “I told you that you had better keep away from that crowd, but you would{269} persist in mixing up with them; now you see what is the result; you will be dragged off to jail, and I won’t have anybody to fuss with.”

“There will be one grain of comfort in that, to say the least,” remarked the farmer grimly.

Block thought a moment, and then, at the urgent solicitation of Sallie, told Nick all that he knew about Weeden and the beggar.

The wagon had gotten to the ferry, when it was compelled to stop. A great crowd of people blocked the street. They were shouting and struggling.

What was the trouble?

Nick jumped off of the wagon and dashed into the crowd; he was followed by the farmer.

As he reached the center of the crowd, he saw the body of a woman lying on the ground. She was dying from a pistol wound that had been inflicted by her jealous husband.

The husband stood near, looking at her unconcernedly as she lay there, the blood flowing from her wounds.

“Lynch the brute!” came from a voice in the crowd.

“Burn him!” cried another.

“Shoot the demon!”

“Somebody get a rope!”

“I’ve got one here,” came from a voice in the crowd. “Let me get through!”

Nick Carter started back as if he had been struck by lightning.

The voice was that of Jack Weeden!

Nick looked at the man a minute, and then sprang at him like a tiger.{270}

“Jack Weeden, you are my prisoner!” he cried.

“What do you mean, sir?” gasped the man. “My name is not Weeden; it is Wright.”

The mob, thinking that it was a ruse to keep them from getting their prey, turned angrily on Nick.

“He is an accomplice!” they shouted. “Lynch him, too!”

With frenzied cries, they turned upon Nick, who still hung on to his prisoner.

The farmer fought by Nick’s side, and did splendid work in holding back the crowd.

There were too many for the two men, strong as they were, and one of the leaders of the mob had thrown a rope over Nick’s head, when a patrol wagon filled with policemen dashed around the corner.

“Let the police deal with them,” said one or two of the cooler heads in the crowd.

Some of the mob, angered at the loss of a chance to lynch somebody, tried to reach the detective, but were driven back.

One of the officers recognized Nick, and, swinging his club, shouted:

“I know this man; he is all right; fall back!”

The officer also recognized Wright as being a crockery dealer on Maple Street.

Nick could not understand it. The features, the voice, the actions, and the build were those of Jack Weeden.

Nick Carter had never made a mistake in the identification of a man.

Could it be possible that he was wrong now?{271}



With an apology to the man whom he could have sworn was Jack Weeden, Nick once more fought his way through the excited crowd.

He went back to see what had become of Harry Block, the farmer. The wagon and its two occupants were gone.

Nick was inclined to be angry, but after a moment laughed, and said:

“Well, the fellow saved my life, and, besides that, I can pick him up at almost any time.”

All round him was the scene of conflict.

Suddenly a bloodcurdling yell was heard. The mob, angry at being robbed of its prey, had turned on the policemen that were in the center and a terrific struggle was on.

The police were using their clubs to clear a passage that they might take the prisoner they had to the patrol wagon that was waiting for them at the corner.

The prisoner that they had was the man that had shot his wife.

The poor wretch was bleeding from a dozen different wounds that he had received at the hands of the mob. His hat had been torn from his head and his clothes were in shreds.

The man was crouching in terror by the side of the brave officers that were endeavoring to protect him from the savage onslaughts of the crowd that was intent on taking his life.{272}

Nick saw that something must be done at once, or the policemen, as well as their prisoner, would be crushed to death under the heels of the infuriated crowd.

“Down with the police!” yelled a woman, from a point of vantage on the sidewalk. “They are protecting a murderer!”

A volley of paving stones followed this advice.

More than one brave policeman fell senseless to the ground.

Nick was enraged beyond measure when he saw one great, burly ruffian draw a revolver from his pocket and point it at the head of the officer who was nearest to him. Before Nick had a chance to dash the weapon from his hand, he had fired, and the officer fell to the ground a corpse.

The sight seemed to give Nick the strength of a dozen men.

He threw men right and left, until he reached the place where the man stood, the smoking revolver in his hand.

Nick grabbed him by the throat.

The man grew black in the face, and vainly gasped for breath.

Seeing that two other men were coming to the rescue of the man that he held, Nick raised him clear of the ground and hurled him at the oncoming men.

The men dodged, and the fellow struck, headfirst, against a pile of stones that lay on the side of the street.

His skull was fractured.

This served to awe the crowd, but only for a {273}moment. They returned to the attack with greater fierceness than before.

It seemed as if all the officers and Nick would be ground to death under the heels of the maddened throng.

“Heavens! Cannot something be done to stop this hellish work?” cried Nick.

“Since you are so powerful, why don’t you do it yourself?” said a mocking voice at his elbow.

It was the voice of Jack Weeden.

Nick turned, and saw before him the face of Wright, the man he had taken for Jack Weeden but a short time before.

“I am not mistaken,” thought Nick. “That man is Jack Weeden, and I shall take him dead or alive.

“You dog,” he cried, “you are Jack Weeden, and you are my prisoner!”

He made a step forward and clutched at the man’s throat.

As he did so, he was struck on the head with a blackjack in the hands of a man that stood at the side of the automobile repairer.

The man who struck the blow was Billy Young, the companion of Jack Weeden.

Nick sank to the ground insensible.{274}



When Nick came to his senses, he was lying on a cot in the Brooklyn police headquarters. Around him lay the bodies of several men that had been killed in the riot. Several others who had been slightly wounded were sitting around in chairs, talking about the riot.

At the hospitals were a dozen other officers who had been severely injured.

A citizen had seen the rioting, and had sent word to police headquarters, and the timely arrival of the reserves from several station houses had finally checked the outlawry of the crowd.

Nick remembered having tried to catch Wright, or Weeden, by the throat, and all after that was a blank.

The doctor, after examining Nick, told him that the only injury that he had sustained was a small scalp wound and a general shaking up, but advised that Nick take a rest for a day or two.

Nick laughed, and said that he had business on hand that would prevent his taking a rest of more than an hour.

Nick lay on the cot for a few minutes, thinking of the course that he should pursue.

If by any mischance the man that he had tried to arrest was really Wright, what was his object in attacking the detective, and why had he jeered at Nick as he had?

Was there such a man as Wright?{275}

Nick thought it over, and came to the startling conclusion that the man Wright, Weeden, and the old beggar were one and the same.

It was really a triple identity.

Nick closed his eyes to think.

The voices of the policemen around him were heard.

One of them was asking the other about the wife of the man who had been the cause of the trouble.

“How long did she live?” he asked.

“Only a minute or so.”

“How about Small? Did we finally get him to the station house?” asked an officer whose head was wound with bandages.

“Oh, he was brought to the station house more dead than alive; he was scared to death, almost. He is a fine man to be a member of a ‘bad man gang’! Why, he actually was crying from fright when they got him in the wagon.”

“Then that is the fellow that we have been looking for for some time, is it?”

“Yes, that is the chap. We have wanted him for his connection with the gang that has been terrorizing Astoria for several months.”

Nick pricked up his ears. Here was something that interested him.

“It appears,” continued the officer that had been talking, “that there is a man named Weeden, who is at the head of the gang, but nobody has been able to trace him in anything that savors of rascality, and as he has such a reputation among his neighbors for being honest, the people in charge are afraid to make any move against him, although I think that they would be{276} only too glad to get something on him, as he has been very insolent to the men who have questioned him about the murders that have been committed near his repair shop.”

“Don’t talk too loud,” cautioned the sergeant. “That Manhattan man is in here; they say that he is a crackajack, too. I wonder what case he is working on now?”

“Oh, you mean the man that was talking with the inspector to-day?”

“Yes, that is the one. I have heard some of the men say that it is Nick Carter, the famous detective, but I don’t think that it is he, because I saw him once, while I was working on a case, and this man does not look anything like him at all.”

Nick smiled to himself. The man had once worked with him on a case, and as keen-sighted as he was, he did not penetrate the disguise that Nick wore at the time.

The door of the room opened, and the inspector entered.

As he came into the room, Nick staggered to his feet and looked confusedly around. He appeared as if he had just awakened.

“I see that you are on your feet again,” said the inspector, as he entered the room.

“Oh, yes, I am all right, barring a slight headache,” answered Nick. “I guess I must have had a narrow call at that time, and if it had not been for my usual good luck I would not now be willing to go to work again.”

“I don’t believe that anybody will ever succeed in{277} giving you your quietus,” said the inspector laughingly.

The inspector asked Nick to step into his private office, that they might discuss the case.

The inspector listened to Nick’s story of the affair attentively, and when he had concluded, he said:

“I have heard of the crockery man, Wright, but have never seen him. I shall have to look him up.

“The peculiar part of the thing that puzzles me is the remarkable resemblance of the men, if, indeed, Wright is not Jack Weeden in disguise.

“But, then, all of my officers who saw the man that you tried to get are ready to swear that the man is Wright, and that his reputation is of the best. According to people in the neighborhood, he has been in business but a short time, but during that period he has succeeded in making a number of friends in the locality where he does business.”

“That may all be true,” responded Nick, “but I have seen many curious things in my long experience, and I am not surprised at anything that happens now. I remember a case where the man that I wanted passed among his neighbors for a woman for several years, and it was not until he met with an accident that his identity was discovered.”

“But is it not possible that two men could be in the same locality at the same time?” asked the inspector.

“Yes; but it is hardly likely that both would be dressed alike, even to the style of collar and necktie.”

“Well, we shall find out in a very short time whether it was Weeden or Wright that you saw. I shall send{278} one of my men, and have the crockery man brought before us,” said the inspector.

“That will be an excellent plan, and if we find that it is the man we want, then we will have him right here,” declared Nick.

The inspector touched an electric bell on his desk, and an instant afterward an officer entered.

“I want you to tell Edwards to come here at once,” said the inspector.

“Yes, sir.”

A minute or so afterward, a man entered the room.

He was one of the shrewdest men that the inspector had on his staff.

“Edwards, do you know this man Wright?”

“Yes, sir, I do. I was in his store yesterday, buying something for my house.”

“Do you know the automobile repairer, Jack Weeden, who has a place over in Astoria?”

“I do, sir. I rode out that way on a case several weeks ago, and one of the tires on my wheel burst, and I had to stop in his place to have it fixed.”

“I want you to go to Wright’s house and get him and bring him here to me. This is very important, and I want you to say nothing to any of the men about where you are going.”

“I understand, sir, and I will be back as soon as possible.”

After the man had left the room, the inspector turned to Nick and said:

“Well, what do you think of it now, Mr. Carter?”

“I hardly know what to say about it, and, to tell you the truth, I have been so worried over having to leave{279} the inspector from the New York office that I have not really had time to think out much of anything, especially as I have had such an exciting time since I left him at the doctor’s.”

Nick then related all that had occurred when he and Inspector Ward had visited the repair shop of Jack Weeden.

While waiting for the return of the man Edwards, who had been sent to bring Wright, the crockery man, to headquarters, they discussed the beggar, Jack Weeden, and the gang of ruffians that had been terrorizing Astoria.

“What plan do you propose to follow in the work on this case?” asked Nick.

“I shall have one or two of my men keep an eye on the place, and such other work that you may desire, and such that will not interfere with you in any way,” replied the inspector.

“This is, indeed, ‘Mystery 47,’ and it has been a mystery too long, and I intend to clear it up. I feel that my reputation is at stake, and, besides, I have a private score to settle; you know that they killed one of my men, Tom Sweet, and I am confident that they were at the bottom of the attack that was made on your officers to-day.”

An hour had elapsed since Edwards had taken his departure.

Nick looked at his watch, and suggested that perhaps the man had not found Wright at home, and had been looking him up.

As he said this, the door opened, and Edwards, accompanied by two men, entered the room.{280}

The second man was the doctor that Nick had left Inspector Ward with.

“I am delighted to see you, Mr. Jack Weeden,” the inspector said, as soon as he got a good look at the man standing by Edwards’ side.

“Shut that door, and allow no one to leave the room, unless I tell you so,” and as he said so, he advanced toward the man that he had called Jack Weeden.{281}



The scene was a dramatic one.

On the face of the supposed automobile repairer there was depicted amazement mingled with terror.

His face was ashen, his hands trembled, and he tried to speak, but his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth.

The doctor’s face was a study; he was surprised and bewildered.

On the face of Nick Carter there was a quiet smile as he watched the man who had been brought into the station.

The doctor was the first to recover his presence of mind.

“I demand to know what this outrage means?” he cried haughtily. “Is it meant as an insult? If so, I will see that the commissioner of police attends to the matter!”

“I can assure you that it is not meant as an insult, sir; it is a most serious matter, and I would advise you to keep your temper. If there has been a mistake, no one will be the wiser; if there has not, then your friend will be treated as the law provides,” said the inspector.

Turning from the doctor, he faced the man that a moment before he had addressed as Jack Weeden, and said:

“I am sure that I am more than pleased to see you,{282} Mr. Weeden. We have been looking for you all day, and this is an unexpected pleasure, I can assure you.”

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Inspector, but the gentleman that you are talking to is not Mr. Weeden, as you have addressed him,” said the doctor.

“If that is not his name, what is it?”

“My friend’s name is Wright,” replied the physician.

“Why, how singular,” sarcastically said the chief. “I am amazed; I am sure that he is Weeden.”

“Well, I guess that this is one of the times that you are mistaken. This gentleman is an old friend of mine; he is in the crockery business, and I have seen your man Edwards, here, in his store within the last day or two.”

“Who do you think this man is, Edwards?” asked the inspector.

“I really do not know who he is, I am sure. I never met the man until I went into his store to-night, when you sent me after him; he may be Weeden, or he may be Wright. I only know that when I went into the store after him to-night he seemed to act as if he owned the place, and was at the safe putting away some books. He did not seem anxious to come with me, but his friend over there,” nodding in the direction of the doctor, “told him that the best thing he could do would be to come without any delay, as he would then avoid any notoriety. He finally agreed to come if I would let him empty a bottle of chemicals that he had been experimenting with. He said that it was a patent that he was working on, and that he did not want to let any one find out what it was, as, if they did, it would mean{283} the loss of a great fortune to him. This seemed to be a reasonable request, and so I let him pour the stuff out into a sink that was in the back of the store.”

“That is all that you know about him, is it?”

“Yes, sir.”

The man who was the subject of the discussion broke out into a hearty laugh.

There was a false ring to it, and Nick Carter’s keen ear noted it.

“Then you deny that you are Jack Weeden?” continued the inspector.

“I certainly deny that I am Jack Weeden, or any one else that you may call me, except Mr. Wright. The latter is my name, and I would have you understand that I am not in the habit of masquerading as some one else. I trust that you are through with me, and we shall be allowed to take our departure. This indignity has been great enough without prolonging it.”

“I am here to do my duty, no matter how unpleasant it may be, and until I am satisfied that what you are telling me is the truth I will be compelled to force you to stay.”

“I suppose, then, that the best thing that I can do is to answer your questions, although I want to tell you that you will hear from this.”

“If you are not Jack Weeden, then who are you?”

“My friend has told you who I am, and that should be sufficient.”

The man was evidently playing for time. He wanted to think before he answered any question as to his identity.{284}

“I want you to answer the questions that I put to you,” said the inspector sternly.

“I suppose that I must answer, then. I am Mr. Wright.”

“What is your business?”

“I am in the crockery business, at the place where your man found me to-night.”

“How long have you been in that location?”

“I have been there for a few months.”

“How long have you been in the crockery business altogether?”

“About five years.”

“Where were you in business before you came to this city?”

“I was in business in Washington, D. C.”

“Where was your store located there?”

“Nine-forty-five M Street, Northwest.”

“You are certain of that, are you?”

“I am.”

“Kindly step over to my desk and look at the business directory that you will find in the lower left-hand corner, and see if that address is correct,” said the inspector to Nick.

The face of Wright grew ashen.

Nick saw the change, and concluded that the man was trapped.

Nick opened the directory, and went carefully over the list of Wrights.

“Here it is,” he said: “Wright, crockery, 941 M Street, Northwest.”

A sigh of relief escaped both the doctor and Wright as Nick said this.{285}

“But you said nine hundred and forty-five,” corrected Nick sharply.

“Did I? Well, then, really, I made a slight mistake,” said the man insolently.

His bravado had returned.

“I have visited him there,” spoke up the doctor.

“I was ill there, and I do not like to think of the place,” said Wright.

“Your appearance was that of a sick man when the inspector suggested the directory,” said Nick dryly.

Wright gave Nick a look of hatred which was met with a scornful smile on the face of the detective.

“How did you come to make that mistake?” asked the inspector.

“I just made a slip of the tongue,” answered the man.

“I understand you were at the place where the rioting occurred to-day, and that you were the man that had a rope and wanted to lynch the man who had shot his wife. Is that not true?”

“I was not near the place where the trouble was, I can assure you. I only heard of the trouble in a most casual way.”

“You are perfectly sure of that statement?” persisted the inspector, as he looked at Nick.

“I have already answered that question,” said Wright angrily.

“What would you say if I were to bring a dozen people here that would swear that they saw you there?”

“It would not make any difference to me if you brought a thousand. I could bring twenty or more{286} that will testify that I did not leave my store until I came here with your man.”

“Did you ever see this man before? Did you see him at the riot, or did you speak to him at that time?” asked the inspector, pointing to Nick.

“I did not see him, for, as I told you, I was not anywhere near where the riot took place. I never saw the man before, and I certainly am not anxious to make his acquaintance.”

Nick and the inspector retired to one corner of the room, and talked over the situation. Legally, they could not hold the man, and Nick decided that he would let the two go, and have one of the department men follow them.

Nick was certain that the man was no other than Jack Weeden, and that the man was playing a desperate game, but he concluded that he had better allow him to depart thinking that he had fooled them than to hold him and have him discharged for lack of evidence.

“You don’t seem to take very much interest in your patients?” said Nick to the doctor, as he and his friend were taking their departure.

“I have had no patients in the last three days,” said the doctor.

“This was the limit,” said Nick to himself. Here were two men that he had seen earlier in the day, and now both of them denied their identity.{287}



It was late before Nick parted from the inspector of the Brooklyn headquarters.

They had gone over the question of “Mystery 47” thoroughly.

Shortly before Nick left the inspector, a man was brought into the room.

It was Meloy.

He was put in a cell next to that occupied by the wife murderer, and an officer was placed in the cell next to him, so that he could hear if Meloy tried to say anything to the other prisoner.

After Meloy had been locked in the cell, Nick said to the inspector:

“I want to interview that wife murderer. He knows that things are in pretty bad shape for him, and I may be able to get him to tell us something that will shed some light on these murders.”

“What makes you think that you will be able to get anything out of him?” asked the inspector.

“In the first place, he is locked up on a charge that cannot be bailed, and in the second, he will try and get on the good side of the keepers, so that he will be able to get more liberty around the jail, and the last reason is that I shall tell him how some of his companions have turned against him, and that the leader of the gang, Jack Weeden, wanted to take his life.”

“What under the sun could have been the object of{288} the man in wanting to have one of his own gang killed?”

“He may have learned too much of the workings of those high in the council of the gang, and they saw an excellent chance to get rid of him without putting their own lives in jeopardy. They are a desperate and cunning lot.”

Nick took leave of the inspector, and started down toward the ferry.

He had almost reached his destination when he noticed that two men were passing on the other side of the street.

The men were Wright and the doctor.

They turned and saw Nick, and the next minute they had disappeared into an alleyway, and were lost to sight.

As Nick had not eaten since early in the morning, he concluded that the best thing he could do would be to go over to New York and get a big porterhouse steak at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

As Nick passed into the ferry house, he was followed by five rough-looking men. Three of them carried pails and the other two had pickaxes.

“I think I will go out and smoke a cigar. I have not had one to-day, and a smoke will do me good,” Nick said to himself.

Nick had been smoking for several minutes, when he heard the tread of stealthy footsteps behind him.

As he turned to look, to see who was coming, he was seized by several hands, that held him as in a vise.{289}



Nick was lifted high in the air.

“Throw the confounded detective into the river!” hissed a voice.

“Over with him! Some one may come!” said another.

At this minute, two figures sprang out of the darkness and struck two of the men that were holding Nick in the air. The men struck fell to the deck like logs, and before the other two could defend themselves they had likewise been sent to the deck.

“I saved your bacon that time, Nick Carter, although you don’t deserve it,” said a familiar voice in his ear.

Nick turned, and looked into the face of a man whom he had had under arrest that afternoon.

It was Harry Block, the farmer, and with him was his Cousin Sallie.

“Where did you come from?” asked Nick.

“Oh! we just dropped in, and, seeing an old friend was in trouble, we thought that we would give him a helping hand,” laughed the farmer.

“I can assure you that I appreciate your help,” said Nick earnestly.

“Mr. Carter, ever since you threw my cousin, he has done nothing but talk about your style of rastlin’,” spoke up Sallie.

“How did you know my name?” asked Nick, when the woman had finished.{290}

“Oh, we can’t tell you that just now, but perhaps we will some time.”

“You men are standing there talking like two old women at a sewing circle; why don’t you watch the men that tried to throw you off the boat?”

Both Nick and the farmer turned like a flash, to see what had become of the assailants.

They had disappeared.

“Let’s search the boat for them, and if we find them, you can be assured that we will help you take them to the station house, as we believe in law and order; don’t we, Sallie?” said the farmer.

“If you do, why did you give me the slip this afternoon?” asked Nick.

“You threatened to have us locked up, and so when I thought that the police had quieted the mob, I went back to the wagon, and Sallie and I drove off, so that you would not take us to the lockup.”

“I am very glad that you have concluded to tell Nick Carter the truth,” said the woman, in a tone that was familiar to Nick.

“I think that I know you now,” said Nick, as he made a grab for Sallie’s head.

He pulled a wig from what he supposed was the head of a woman, only to find that the person was Patsy, Nick Carter’s assistant, whom Nick thought was enjoying a vacation.

“Well, I’ll be jiggered,” said Nick. “Can’t you take a rest, as I told you to do, or must you work all the time? It looks as if you are a born hunter of criminals.{291}

The farmer was none other than Chick.

“Since you two are determined to work, I suppose that I will have to put you on the case, and I will give you some instructions after you have gone home and had some sleep,” said Nick, as he bade them good night.{292}



After Nick had said good night to Chick and Patsy, he set out to trace the men that had assaulted him on the ferryboat.

About two blocks from the entrance to the ferry, Nick saw a lumber wagon, which was covered with a sheet of tarpaulin, moving slowly up the street.

It took him but a few seconds to reach it, and as he did, he grasped one of the horses by the bridle and ordered the driver to stop his team.

The driver made a cut at Nick with his whip, and yelled that he would brain him if he did not let go of the horse.

“I think that you will stop until I have seen what your wagon contains,” said the detective.

“Who are you, that you should hold up my wagon?” demanded the driver angrily.

“I am an officer,” replied Nick.

“If you are an officer, then it is all right,” replied the driver. “I thought that you were one of the robbers that has been making things hot for the people around Astoria, and I did not want to take any chances.”

“What have you got in your wagon?”

“Oh, I have just got a load of boards that I am going to take up to Harlem.”

“I think that I had better look in the wagon, and see that valuable load that you are so careful not to lose.{293}

“I’ll be blowed if you do!” replied the man, making another slash at Nick with his whip.

Nick’s revolver was out in an instant, and he told the fellow that if he did not climb down off the seat that he would fill him full of lead.

The driver got down and stood to one side, while Nick made the examination of the load.

It was as the driver had said, and Nick was about to let the man go, when his trained eye caught sight of a piece of blue jean that had caught on a nail, evidently as the owner of the garment had been getting out of the wagon.

“Hello! What is this?” he said to himself. “It looks to me as if the wagon had been used to conceal the men when they had left me on the ferryboat. I guess that it would be a good plan to take this fellow to headquarters, where I can ask him a few questions.”

“What is your name?” asked Nick of the man.

“My name is John McDowell,” he answered.

“Now that I get a better look at your face, I think that you are Pat Dean, alias Pete Deck,” responded Nick.

“No, it ain’t.”

“Well, we can very easily tell when we reach police headquarters.”

“You don’t mean to say that you are going to arrest me?” asked the driver.

“That is about the size of it,” replied Nick.

“Well, I won’t go. You have no warrant for my arrest, and I defy you to take me to any station house.”

“I am going to take you to headquarters—alive, if{294} possible; but I am going to take you there,” said Nick quietly.

The fellow saw that he had to deal with a man that would not stand any nonsense, and he got up on the box and drove as he was told.

As the wagon turned into Center Street, the man suddenly threw his arm around and tried to knock Nick off of the wagon.

Nick had been expecting something of the sort, and before the fellow knew it he had the handcuffs on him.

“A very neat trick, my good man,” said Nick; “but, you see that I was prepared for something of that kind, and I kept my eye on you.”

A moment later, and they were at the desk of the acting inspector.

The latter looked up and said:

“Why, here is my old friend Pete Deck!”

“I tell you that my name is John McDowell, and my name ain’t Deck.”

“We don’t often make mistakes here, and if I remember correctly, your number under the old system was 423.{295}



The man had kept pretty cool up to this time, but as soon as the acting inspector called his number, he commenced to rave and swear, and tried to dash his handcuffs in Nick’s face.

One of the officers on duty grabbed him, and he quieted down.

“I guess that the jig is up, as you seem to have me marked, so go ahead with what you are going to do,” he snarled.

“The inspector is going to give you a chance to save yourself from Sing Sing if you will be square, but if you are not, you are going up the river for a long time,” said Nick.

The fellow’s belligerent spirit once more came to the surface, and he screamed:

“You have no right to send me there for simply driving a wagon!”

“You hid the men that attacked the officer, here,” said the inspector, pointing to Nick.

“What of it if I did? You can’t send me up for that!”

“No; but I can have you sent up on this old indictment, that perhaps you had forgotten,” said Nick, with a bland smile.

“You will have to tell me what the charge is before I will tell you anything.”

“The indictment charges you with burglary and at{296}tempted murder, and if you will remember you never stood trial for it,” the detective said.

“I had forgotten all about it, and would not have been around with that gang from Astoria if I hadn’t.”

“Then you are, or have been, associated with that gang, have you?” asked Nick.

“I have done some work for them, but I have kept out of such things as would lead me to the penitentiary.”

“From whom did you get your orders? Was it from Jack Weeden?”

“No, I never saw Weeden. I got my orders through a man that perhaps you never saw. His name is Hall.”

“It seems to me that I have heard that name before,” commented Nick. “He is the leader of a gang that has been making the trouble over in Astoria, I believe?”

“Well, he has been given credit for having done some things over there that perhaps are not exactly on the level, but he is not the man that you are after, I am sure.”

“Who is the man that you think that we are after?” asked the inspector.

“Oh, I think that you are after the fellow that may be one man, and then again he may be another man. You know that you can’t always tell who a man is by looking at him once; he may be a business man, or a common scoundrel. I have known of people that looked like one man, and the next instant they were identified as somebody else.”

“What are you driving at?” asked Nick.{297}

“Oh, you need not try to fool me. I know what you want me to say.”

“Well, what do we want you to say?”

“You want to know if the blind beggar that hangs around the woods near the shop that is run by Jack Weeden is really a beggar or somebody else.”

“Supposing that we do, who is the man?”

“He might be just a blind beggar, and then he might be——”

Just as Pete Deck was going to finish his sentence, the door was opened, and two policemen dragging between them a struggling prisoner entered the room.

“Billy Young! The very man that we want; this is good fortune, indeed!” cried the inspector.

“Great heavens! Young, how did you come to be brought here?” exclaimed Pete Deck. “I thought that you were over in Astoria.”

“Shut up, you fool!” growled Young.

“That was a good give-away,” laughed Nick.

“If you say another word, I will brain you when I get out of here!” screamed Young, as he turned on Deck.

“All right, Billy; I will not make any more slips. I will keep my trap shut.”

“Now, inspector, that you have got me here, I would like you to tell me what you have me here for? I have not done anything, and it is a shame to deprive a man of his liberty when he is being on the level,” said Young.

“The reason that you were brought here is that you are charged with the murder of Tom Sweet, a detective in the employ of Nick Carter.{298}

“I didn’t happen to kill him; on the square, inspector, I did not do the work.”

“Then you admit that he was killed, do you?” asked the inspector.

“I don’t admit anything,” stammered Young. He saw that he had made a fatal slip, and he concluded that he would not talk any more.

“It is no use for you to try and question me any further. You might just as well take me to one of your rooms and put me there until you want me, as I don’t intend to give up anything.”

As the officers who had been holding Young by the arm opened the door to lead him away, he gave a wrench and threw them to one side.

Like a flash, he was down the steps and away.

Officers and detectives that had been standing near the door started to chase him. When he turned the corner, the officers were but a few yards behind him. As they turned the corner, they were surprised to see that the street was empty. Not a trace of the man could be found.

They returned to the building, and an alarm was sent out.{299}



In vain did they try to get Deck to talk. Once that he had seen his pal Young he had somewhat recovered his courage, and he positively refused to answer any questions that were put to him.

After they had tried to get him to tell about the gang for an hour, Nick gave it up in disgust.

“Inspector, I feel hungry, and think that I will get a bite to eat before I turn in for the night,” said Nick, as he left headquarters.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Deck knows all about that gang, but when he saw Young, he was either frightened stiff or his feeling was that of the average tough who wants to appear game in the eyes of his fellows,” muttered Nick, as he walked up the street to a restaurant near his home.

The restaurant was one that served a good dinner at a moderate figure, and there one met the different celebrities of the day—lawyers, brokers, newspaper men, actors, and the light-fingered gentry all rubbed elbows in this strictly bohemian resort.

As Nick passed through the barroom his attention was attracted to a table at which were seated four men.

The features of one of the men were familiar to Nick, but the hair did not appear to be in keeping with the rest of the man’s make-up.

“I will watch those men when I go out and see who{300} they are. I don’t like their looks,” said Nick to himself as he took his seat.

Nick had hardly begun his supper, when a young man strolled in and took a seat at Nick’s table.

He was a young newspaper man on one of the great dailies, and was a warm friend of Nick’s. The young fellow had been all over the world, and whenever Nick and he got together they sat down and exchanged reminiscences.

They lingered over their coffee and cigars, and when the young newspaper man said good night to Nick it was long past midnight.

Nick took his departure shortly after.

The four men, who had been drinking wine all the time that Nick and his friend had been talking, got up and left the place as soon as the detective went out the door.

Glancing up and down the street, they saw Nick going toward his home. They followed, skulking in and out of doorways.

The young journalist, who had forgotten his cane, was returning to the restaurant, when he saw the suspicious actions of the men. He dodged back into a doorway until he saw that they were really following Nick.

As Nick reached the corner, he saw two patrolmen that he knew. He spoke to them for a minute, and then turned the corner to go to the house where he lived.

The reporter, who was acquainted with the officers, ran over and hastily explained the situation to them.

They at once went around the square, where they{301} could head off the men when they got near Nick’s house.

Nick Carter, walking along the street busily engaged in thinking over the events of the day, did not for an instant suspect that he was being followed.

Nick stopped to relight his cigar, when the four rascals jumped upon him.

Nick barely had time to turn and avoid a blow that had been aimed at him by the man that he had noticed in the café.

The man, with an oath, started to strike again, when the sharp crack of a pistol rang out in the night air.

The man fell to the sidewalk, with a scream of agony.

The policemen rushed up and attacked the remaining three men with their nightsticks.

Two of the men took to their heels, and made their escape; the other man was captured, and made a prisoner by the officers, while the reporter turned in a call for the ambulance, that the injured man might be removed to the hospital.

Nick bent over the wounded man. He noticed that the hair which he wore was false. Pulling it off, he saw that the man that had tried to kill him was the very man that he had been looking for.

It was Billy Young.

The other fellow that had been captured was also wanted. He was Hall, the leader of the gang of outlaws that had attacked Nick in front of the repair shop kept by Jack Weeden.

When the ambulance arrived, the surgeon in charge{302} saw the man who had been shot was mortally wounded, and could not live over five minutes.

Nick knelt down by the side of the man, who had now recovered consciousness.

Young looked up and smiled.

“I guess that you hold the winning hand, Nick Carter,” he said. “I tried my best to do you, and would have succeeded if that fool reporter had not been so good with his gun play. You have won a good fight, and I give you credit.”

“Young, you are dying! Why don’t you tell me what you know about Jack Weeden and that gang? It may help to atone for the crimes that you have committed in this world,” said Nick quietly.

“I never yet have squealed, and I don’t intend to begin now,” was the answer of the dying man. “I would tell you if I ever told anybody, as you are the gamest and squarest man in the business, but I can’t die a squealer. I—I——”

With a gasp, his head rolled to one side, and the man who had helped to kill Tom Sweet was dead.

The policemen took their prisoner to the station house, where he was held on the charge of attempted murder.

The body of Billy Young was removed to the morgue.{303}



When the detective and the reporter were left alone, Nick said to the latter:

“I almost regret that you fired that shot, old man.”

“Why?” asked the other.

“Because, Billy Young alive might have proved of great service to me in clearing up this case. Of course, I know you did it for the best.”

“Maybe I can help you on this case, Nick.”

“You might, but I cannot accept your help just at the present time.”

“Oh, I see,” said the reporter; “you do not want any of the papers to get to work on the case until you are ready for the grand finale.”

“Correct you are,” laughingly replied Nick.

“I hope that you will give me the first show at it, so that I can get a scoop.”

“You may rest assured, my friend, that you will be the first one who will get the news when I have solved the triple identity, or Mystery 47. You will, of course, make a story out of what happened to-night?”

“Well, you just read to-morrow morning’s paper, and you will see a cracking good account of what has transpired to-night. Good night.”

“Good night,” responded Nick.

As Nick went up the stairs of his house, he felt that he had earned a good night’s rest. He went to{304} bed, and slept for about three hours in a restless sort of way.

Suddenly he awoke, with a feeling of uneasiness and apprehension. He glanced at the clock on his dresser. It was nearly four o’clock, and in a short time would be daylight. He turned over, and tried to sleep again, but his restlessness only increased.

“This certainly is strange,” muttered Nick. “I never felt this way before; it must be indigestion. I will get up and take a little drink of brandy; that may help me.”

On a table near the bed was a small pocket flask filled with brandy. He swallowed a small drink, and got back into bed. It was impossible for him to sleep, however, as the feeling of uneasiness which had attacked him before returned, even more strongly than ever.

Nick jumped out of bed, and, going to the window, looked out into the back yard. Suddenly his gaze penetrated the shadow of an old cherry tree. He detected a movement in the shadow. As his eyes grew accustomed to the dim light, he saw the figures of three men. They were gazing intently at his window.

At first he thought they were burglars. A closer examination disclosed the fact that two of the men were his late assailants, who, when Billy Young had been shot, had made their escape.

The third man bore a strong resemblance to Wright, the Brooklyn crockery dealer, as also did he to Jack Weeden, the Astoria automobile repairer. Besides the revolvers that the men carried, each was armed with a long, murderous-looking knife.{305}

“It is very evident,” murmured Nick, “that I am too hot on the trail of the Astoria horror, and that gang intends to murder me, if they possibly can. I will give them a warm reception if they try to get into my room.”

Nick stole silently to the bed. He lifted one of the pillows. There lay two automatic revolvers, each one fully loaded. Then he crept back to the window, and in the shadow of the curtain watched the men.

It was evidently their intention to enter his room and murder him while he slept.

Nick could hear what the men said.

The following is a part of what he heard:

“And so Billy’s done for,” said the man who resembled Weeden.

“Yes,” was the reply of one of his companions. “He was shot by a cursed newspaper man.”

“Well, I will see to it that he don’t write any more interesting stories.”

“What do you mean?”

“I will kill him!” hissed the man.

“He killed Billy Young, and I will kill him. ‘Blood for blood’ is my motto.”

“Well, what about that fellow up there?” said the second thug, pointing to Nick’s window.

“We will settle him right away. He has been the cause of Billy Young’s death, Hall and Meloy’s arrest, and a few other things that I shall tell you of later.”

“Well, then, we had better do it now, because it will be daylight pretty soon.”

“The lightest man can climb up the trellis and finish{306} him in the room, while the others wait down here, ready to give him a hand if necessary.”

“I would like to go up and fix him,” said the more slender of Weeden’s companions. “I owe him one, and want to pay it as soon as I can.”

“What has he done to you?” asked the other man.

“Nothing”—sullenly—“but he was the means of sending my brother up for twenty years. The poor boy went to that prison, and the treatment that he received was so harsh that he died in less than three years. It broke my mother’s heart, and it wasn’t long before she followed. You can understand now why I want to be the one to end the life of that cursed detective, Nick Carter.”

The man started toward the trellis.

“I am off,” he said, clambering up the trelliswork and taking hold of the vines.

“And you will get as warm a reception as you ever had in your life!” muttered Nick.

He intended to let the would-be assassin enter his room, and then thrash him within an inch of his life. Nick went to his closet and picked up a heavy oaken walking stick.

The man was coming up the trelliswork slowly.

Suddenly there was a crashing sound, a yell and a volley of oaths. The trelliswork and vines had given way underneath the man’s weight, and he went crashing down into the yard.

An old gentleman who lived next door had seen the men in the yard, and when the man fell he thrust an old musket out of his window and fired point-blank at the man.{307}

The gun had evidently not been fired since the Civil War. It knocked the old gentleman senseless by the force of its recoil and alarmed the whole neighborhood.

The men at once scaled the fence and got away. The old gentleman suffered from a lame shoulder for weeks.{308}



At nine o’clock next morning Nick Carter was at Center Street police headquarters. After the men had been routed the night before, Nick had returned to his bed, and had had several hours of good sleep.

He took a cold plunge and a brisk rubdown with a Turkish towel. When he appeared at the office of the inspector, that official was more than astonished to see him.

He had hardly supposed that Nick would be up and ready for work so early after the hard work he had done the day before.

“Have you read the papers this morning?” the inspector asked, a moment later.

“No, I have not,” responded the detective. “What is in them?”

“It is an account which makes you a great hero.”

“Oh, I guess it’s a young fellow’s story of a little scrimmage I had near my house last night. I hope he said nothing about the case I have been working on.”

“No, he has not printed a word about it.”

“Well, then, when I clear the Astoria mystery I shall take good care that he has the story first.”

“By the way,” asked the inspector, “do you know that a man named Hall was brought here this morning?”

“No, I did not, but I am very glad to hear it. He was one of the men who tried to kill me last night.{309}

“I must see both Hall and Meloy,” continued Nick.

“Do you think that Meloy will talk?”

“The chances are that he will, now that Billy Young is dead. He feared him more than he did a dozen policemen.”

“I think, then, that I will go down to the cells and see these men.”

“Very well; I’ll go down with you,” said the inspector.

A couple of minutes later, and they were in Meloy’s cell.

The prisoner had had a good breakfast, and was inclined to be funny. They cut him short and came down to business.

“Meloy,” said Nick, “you appear to be in a much better frame of mind than you were last night?”

“I am,” the man replied. “I’ve had a good night’s sleep and an excellent breakfast, and what more does a man want?”

“Liberty,” laconically replied Nick.

“Yes, liberty’s a good thing, but if a fellow hasn’t got money and grub, liberty don’t amount to much.”

“You can have both liberty and money if you answer certain questions truthfully.”

“What questions are they—the same as you asked me last night?”


“Suppose I refuse to answer them?”

“Then you will be deprived of your liberty and brought up on the old indictment.”

“And get twenty years, hey?{310}

“More likely you’ll get thirty or thirty-five,” Nick answered coldly.

“What is the additional time for?” he asked, in a surprised tone.

“We have some other counts to try you on.”

“Well, I think you are a pretty square cop, and if you give me your word I feel sure that you will keep it. Now, what do you want me to do?”

“I want you to tell the truth.”

“Well, where am I to begin?”

“Where you left off last night. Let me tell you first that Billy Young is dead,” added the detective.

“Well, what of it? That is no news to me. I have heard it before.”

“Is that so? From whom did you hear it?”

“One of the doormen told me, as he thought that it was a brilliant piece of news. I didn’t take much stock in it until I heard him tell another man, and then I felt sure that it was not a ‘plant’ on your part to get me to talk.”

“I will show that I am in earnest when I tell you that he is dead. I will do what will convince you, I think; I will send for Hall, the leader of your gang, and have him tell you about how he was killed.”

An officer was sent to fetch Hall from his cell.

He was handcuffed, and looked rather forlorn as he stood in front of Meloy’s cell.

“How did you get in here?” asked the latter.

“I suppose that it was in the same way that you got in.”

“Is it true that Young is dead?”

“Yes; he was shot by a newspaper man, who was{311} a friend of Nick Carter’s, and he clubbed me with his stick until I am black and blue all over.”

“Well, I am glad that he was killed, as there was not a man in the gang that did not fear him. Hall, do you know that you and I are in a bad hole? I am good for thirty years, at least, and I think that they will send you up for a good, long term. I am going to talk to the inspector and Mr. Carter, and tell them what I know.”

“Then you are going to squeal?”

“Yes; because they will let up on me, and, besides, Weeden does not care for any of us. All he wants to do is to pose as a man of respectability one minute and the next he wants to go around looking like somebody else. I tell you that I am tired of the whole business. I have not had anything to do with the Astoria horror, but I am going to tell them all I know about the crimes.”

“I will talk to you about the terms before you begin, so that there will be no misunderstanding about the matter,” said the inspector.

“Well, inspector,” said Hall, “what we want is to walk out of this place free men.”

“You don’t ask much, do you?” said the inspector, amazed at the cheek of the fellow. “But I shall keep my word. Now, tell us about the murders.”

“The members of the gang were entirely ignorant of the way that they were committed, that is, with one exception; that was Billy Young. He knew everything that was either going on or that was to ‘come off.’”

“What you say may be true,” said the inspector, “but{312} Young is dead, and so all power of corroborating what you say is gone.”

“Yes, and if it were not for the fact that he is dead you would not be listening to what you are being told now. There isn’t a man in the gang—and there are some very brave fellows among them—that would have the nerve to tell you anything about the workings of the gang if Billy Young was alive.”

“You are not afraid of Jack Weeden, then?”

“No; I would meet him anywhere or any place.”

“Will what you are going to tell me implicate Jack Weeden?”

“It will. He is really the mysterious assassin.”

“Who is the old blind beggar that hangs around the road near where the murders were committed?”

“That is Jack Weeden, the man that keeps the automobile repair shop; the two people are one and the same.”

“I was right,” said Nick. “Now, let me ask you another question. Who is this man Wright, the man that keeps a crockery store?”

The two criminals looked at Nick for a moment, and then laughed.

“I guess that you know who he is, Mr. Carter. You tried to arrest him that day the riots were going on in the street. He laughed about his narrow escape that day.”

“Well, what was his reason that day to try and have one of his own gang lynched?”

“He was sore on the fellow, as he thought that he was trying to spy on his business, and he saw a good chance to finish the fellow without its being traced to{313} him, so he concluded that he would get him out of the way in that manner. He first sent a note to the woman, asking her to meet him, and addressed the letter to her in endearing terms, and then, before she had time to receive it, he sent word to the husband that his wife was receiving letters from different men. The husband, of course, found the letter, and accused his wife of being untrue to him, and he, in his jealous rage, shot her, which was exactly what Weeden wanted him to do. I tell you, of all the devilish men on earth, he is the very worst.{314}



“How did you come to discover that the man Weeden was Benny the Bum?”

“I followed the tramp one night, and saw him steal into the shop. He went into the rear part of the shop and took off the false beard that he wore, also the wig of matted hair that hung over his shoulders. He kept saying to himself: ‘I am the king of murderers! I am the king! I love to see their ghastly faces as they look up at me.’

“Then he went over into the corner and set down the long staff or walking stick that he carried, and unscrewed the ferrule, and out dropped a small tube of compressed air.

“He went to a closet and took out another one and inserted it into the end of his staff.”

Later in the day, Nick and several of the men from headquarters went out to the place where Jack Weeden and his gang held forth. They surrounded the shop, and Nick opened the door to enter, when swish! something whizzed past his side and embedded itself in the woodwork of the door.

Whipping out his revolver, he dashed into the center of the room. There stood Jack Weeden, alias Wright, the crockery man, and on the floor lay the clothes of Benny the Bum.

Here was the secret of the triple identity. The case that had so long been known to the police as “Mystery 47” was at last solved.{315}

With his eyes starting from their sockets, the man now looking more like a wild beast than a human being, turned to Nick and said:

“I have tried my best to beat you. I find that I have lost, but you will never take me alive, as I have poisoned myself with the ring that I have on my finger. I will tell you in the minute that I have to live all about the different murders that I have committed. I do this because I like a brave man, and you have beaten our whole gang, and I respect you for it.”

“Thank you,” said Nick quietly. “Go on.”

“I have always hated the human race, and when I was a young boy I killed a man in defense of a dog that I owned; the blood from the man’s wound got on my hands, and I experienced a feeling of joy that would only return when I saw a corpse at my feet. I had lots of money, so I surrounded myself with as trusty a lot of villains as you might find in a month’s journey, and proceeded to kill people for the satisfaction that it gave me. Sometimes I would let the men rob the bodies after I had struck them down with the air gun which is concealed in the staff, so that it would look as if the motive for the murder was robbery.”

“How did you send the men to death with the air gun? Was it with the small steel projectiles that were found in the bodies of the men that you killed?”

“Yes,” said Weeden, who was now almost ready to gasp his last. “Yes, it was the small needles that I shot into them, the same kind that I shot at you a minute ago. They were all tipped with a poison that I got while I was in India a few years ago. I—I{316}——”

A gasp—a stiffening of the body, and the man who had the triple identity was dead.

The mystery of the Astoria horrors was no longer a secret.

Nick Carter had solved the hardest case that had ever come to the attention of the police, “Mystery 47.”


“A Titled Counterfeiter” will be the title of the next volume, No. 931, of The New Magnet Library. As the name indicates, the story has to do with the most troublesome type of criminal with which the government has to deal. How Nicholas Carter rounds up this daring gang of crooks makes a narrative that you will find most entertaining.{317}



Price, Fifteen Cents

Stories of the Big Outdoors

There has been a big demand for outdoor stories, and a very considerable portion of it has been for the Maxwell Stevens stories about Jack Lightfoot, the athlete.

These stories are of interest to old and young. They are not, strictly speaking, stories for boys, but boys everywhere will find a great deal in them to engage their interest.

The Jack Lightfoot stories deal with every branch of sport—baseball, football, rowing, swimming, racing, tennis, and every sort of occupation, both indoor and out, that the healthy-minded man turns to.


1—Jack Lightfoot, the AthleteBy Maxwell Stevens
2—Jack Lightfoot’s Crack NineBy Maxwell Stevens
3—Jack Lightfoot TrappedBy Maxwell Stevens
4—Jack Lightfoot’s RivalBy Maxwell Stevens
5—Jack Lightfoot in CampBy Maxwell Stevens
6—Jack Lightfoot’s Canoe TripBy Maxwell Stevens
7—Jack Lightfoot’s Iron ArmBy Maxwell Stevens
8—Jack Lightfoot’s HoodooBy Maxwell Stevens
9—Jack Lightfoot’s DecisionBy Maxwell Stevens
10—Jack Lightfoot’s Gun ClubBy Maxwell Stevens
11—Jack Lightfoot’s BlindBy Maxwell Stevens
12—Jack Lightfoot’s CaptureBy Maxwell Stevens
13—Jack Lightfoot’s Head WorkBy Maxwell Stevens
14—Jack Lightfoot’s WisdomBy Maxwell Stevens


Not How Much

In the editorial preparation of the STREET & SMITH NOVEL the question of how much in money we were going to get for each volume never really occurred to us. We lost sight entirely of the fact that these books sold at 15 cents the copy, and gave as much serious consideration to the selection and preparation of the stories as though they were going to sell for ten times as much.

We think, after all, that this is the real test of service. That we are performing a service to millions of American readers, there can be no doubt. Never before has such reading matter been placed within the reach of the modest purse. We have striven to keep our line clean and feel confident that we have done so.

The very nature of the stories published in the STREET & SMITH NOVELS insures them consideration from people who have no time nor inclination to read the classics, and who probably would not read anything else if they did not have the STREET & SMITH books.

Any decent literature that instills a desire on the part of the general public to read is, in our opinion, performing a real service.

79 Seventh Avenue New York City

The Dealer

who handles the STREET & SMITH NOVELS is a man worth patronizing. The fact that he does handle our books proves that he has considered the merits of paper-covered lines, and has decided that the STREET & SMITH NOVELS are superior to all others.

He has looked into the question of the morality of the paper-covered book, for instance, and feels that he is perfectly safe in handing one of our novels to any one, because he has our assurance that nothing except clean, wholesome literature finds its way into our lines.

Therefore, the STREET & SMITH NOVEL dealer is a careful and wise tradesman, and it is fair to assume selects the other articles he has for sale with the same degree of intelligence as he does his paper-covered books.

Deal with the STREET & SMITH NOVEL dealer.

79 Seventh Avenue New York City