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Title: Under The Tiger's Claws

A Struggle for the Right

Author: Nicholas Carter
Release Date: July 7, 2021 [eBook #65790]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: David Edwards, Stephen Hutcheson, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
Under the Tiger’s Claws; or, A Struggle for the Right

A weekly publication devoted to Detective literature.
March 21, 1905.

A Struggle for the Right

“The Great Enigma,” “Hounded to Death,” “The Price of a Secret,” “The Man of Mystery,” “Run to Earth,” “Sealed Orders,” “The Seal of Death,” “Driven from Cover,” etc.

STREET & SMITH, Publishers
79-89 Seventh Avenue

Copyright, 1905


I. The Man and the Money 5
II. Where Tides Meet 15
III. The Tiger’s Claws 31
IV. A Friend in Need 39
V. A Turn of Luck 48
VI. A Startling Sequence 63
VII. The Wages of Sin 72
VIII. By Whose Hand? 83
IX. Under Oath 98
X. A Mysterious Disappearance 109
XI. New Clues 123
XII. Driven to the Wall 133
XIII. Nick Calls the Turn 143
XIV. Two Bad Eggs 159
XV. Secret Work 170
XVI. Trapped 178
XVII. The Girl and the Crime 188
XVIII. Closing In 198
XIX. The Right Man 208



“Well, my dear Gilsey, I rather think I can land him for you,” declared Nick Carter, with an odd smile lurking in the corners of his keen, gray eyes.

“But that will not do, Nick,” protested Mr. Raymond Gilsey, with an immediate display of apprehension.

“Not do, sir?”

“It may not be what I want.”

“Not what you want?”

“Not exactly, Nick,” and Mr. Raymond Gilsey decisively shook his head.

He was a venerable banker, with a remarkably gentle and benevolent countenance. He was the president of the Milmore Trust Company, a banking-institution located in Forty-second Street, the patrons of which consisted chiefly of business firms in the immediate neighborhood, and of wealthy women, to whom the up-town location of the bank was a convenience.


It was in Mr. Gilsey’s handsome private office that Nick Carter was seated, one afternoon early in May, in response to a telephone request from the banker about an hour before. Between the two there existed a friendship of long standing, and the celebrated detective had hastened to respond. As yet, however, he had received but a hint at the business for which he had been called, and he wondered a little at the banker’s obvious misgivings, as appeared in his remarks noted above.

“Please explain, Mr. Gilsey,” said Nick. “Certainly, if there is a deficit in your cash, and you suspect—— Ah, but stop a moment. Perhaps it will be just as well, my dear Gilsey, if our interview——”

The last, spoken with lowered voice, was considered with a significant glance in the direction of Gilsey’s private stenographer, who sat busily engaged near one of the office windows, and Nick’s glance was equivalent to a suggestion that the presence of a third party might wisely be dispensed with.

This third party was a young woman named Belle Braddon, apparently about twenty-five years of age. Certain features about her, however, which Nick’s keen eyes were quick to notice, indicated that Miss Braddon was in divers ways experienced beyond her years.

She was that type of girl quite properly termed dashing. 7 Her figure was striking, her face handsome, with mobile red lips, alluring blue eyes, and cheeks with a soft tinge of color not entirely their own. She had, too, an unusual abundance of wavy auburn hair, which was then arranged in picturesque disorder. Regarded from top to toe, she was decidedly noticeable, and the style of girl to which most men are quick to respond.

Nick Carter, however, did not quite fancy the general appearance of Miss Braddon, and he abruptly decided that her absence was desirable. In response to the cue so quietly given him, the banker glanced at the girl, and asked:

“What are you now at work on, Belle?”

Miss Braddon started slightly, much as if her ears had been deaf to any preceding remarks, then turned with a gracious smile to her employer.

“On the quarterly reports which you dictated this morning,” she replied, with a peculiarly clear and penetrating voice.

“You may drop that for the present, Belle, as I may change some of the concluding pages,” said Mr. Gilsey.

“Very well, sir.”

“Are my letters ready for signing?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You may leave them on your table. As I shall be 8 engaged with this gentleman for some time, and will not require you later, I will excuse you for the rest of the day.”

“Ah, thank you very much, Mr. Gilsey,” cried Miss Braddon, beaming gratefully as she arose from her table. “That will be very nice, sir. I can do a little shopping.”

The banker nodded and smiled, then reverted to Nick, and conversed with him upon casual matters while the girl prepared to go. Apparently, Nick did not notice her, but he nevertheless saw all that was worth noting.

As Miss Braddon put on a broad picture hat and her light wrap, her expression became more grave and her cheeks lost some of their color.

Twice she glanced furtively at the detective, with a certain resentful gleam in her pretty eyes. That it did not entirely please her, despite her effusive thanks, was evinced in the slight curl of her red lips; yet she presently bowed politely and departed, gently closing the office door.

“An attractive girl, Gilsey, your stenographer,” remarked Nick carelessly.

“Miss Braddon?” queried the banker, smiling complacently. “So she is, Nick, and as capable and charming as she is showy.”


“I did not say showy,” laughed Nick dryly. “I said attractive.”

“Much the same, Nick, when applied to a woman.”

“Has she been long in your employ?”

“About four months.”

“Of course, she came well recommended?”

“Decidedly so,” bowed Gilsey; then he added, with a smile and headshake: “You professional detectives are habitually suspicious of everybody, I really believe. That girl is all right, Nick, take my word for it. Her uncle, with whom she lives, is one of our largest depositors.”

“Ah, I see,” smiled Nick, a bit oddly. “Now, my dear Gilsey, why have you sent for me? What can I do for you?”

The banker became grave in an instant.

“There are two reasons, Nick, why I have appealed to you,” said he. “First, because we are old friends, and I know that you will do just what I require upon this case, and no more than I require.”

“And your second reason?”

“Because I know I can safely trust you, Nick, and that you will give no publicity to the case after having dropped it, providing your investigations warrant dropping it. That is more than I could expect or hope for 10 from men of the central office, and so I have appealed to you, relying upon our long friendship to influence you to aid me.”

Nick nodded gravely for a moment, noting the profound anxiety now reflected in the banker’s venerable face.

“I certainly will do what I can for you, Gilsey, and you may depend upon me to be discreet,” said he warmly. “Now, what is the trouble here? You intimated that a deficit exists in your cash.”

“So I did, Nick, yet I am not sure of it.”

“Not sure of it?”

“That seems strange to you,” replied Gilsey. “I can explain in a few words.”


“Mr. Cecil Kendall, one of my most trusty clerks, has been absent on a vacation for several days. During the illness of our cashier, Mr. Knights, for nearly three months, Kendall has been doing double his share of work. He has handled the cashier’s end of our business, as well as his own.”

“I follow you,” said Nick attentively.

“My own duties here are very arduous,” continued Gilsey, “yet, as far as possible, I always keep an eye 11 upon the work of all of my clerks. Kendall, however, is a man of unusual ability, an expert accountant, and a man in whom I have had the greatest confidence. His work on the books has always been satisfactory, yet in doing double his ordinary duties it would not be strange if some of his work had fallen a little behind.”

“That is true,” admitted Nick. “Do you find that the books are not in proper shape up to date?”

“Unfortunately, I cannot tell,” was the reply. “Kendall went to Boston to attend the wedding of his brother last Tuesday. He was to have returned this morning, but has not yet appeared, nor sent me any word explaining his absence. I am unable to tell in just what condition he left his accounts. I know, however, that several large amounts were received here during Monday, and also that considerable was used for the payment of notes which came due that day.”

“I see, sir.”

“It was an exceedingly busy day for Mr. Kendall,” continued the banker, “and he worked here Monday until compelled to leave to catch a late train to Boston. I went home at my usual hour, about four o’clock, so did not see him after he wound up his Monday work. Whether he has left part of his work undone, depending upon memoranda of which I am ignorant, I cannot 12 say. All I know, Nick, is that he has not returned to-day, as expected, and that there appears to be a serious deficit in the cash accounts.”

“How serious?”

“Nearly ninety thousand dollars.”

“Whew! Serious, indeed!” exclaimed the detective. “Have you no way of getting at the exact truth?”

“Oh, yes, it can be done,” replied Gilsey quickly. “But it would require time, and occasion a publicity which I wish to prevent, for a day or two, at least, in the hope that Kendall will return, or can be found, and show that matters here are all right. In fact, Nick, I am inclined to think they are, and that I am needlessly alarmed; yet, for the protection of our depositors, I feel that I must take some step at this time.”

“Quite properly, too.”

“I wish to locate Kendall as quickly as possible. I want him here, that an explanation may be made. In case I am entirely wrong, however, and no deficit really exists, I do not wish Kendall to learn of my misgivings, and that I have employed a detective, the injustice of which would seriously and needlessly wound him.”

“That is very true,” admitted Nick thoughtfully. “I now see about what you want of me, Gilsey. You wish me to locate Kendall as quickly as possible, and send 13 or bring him here without disclosing your doubts and apprehensions.”


“If he is perfectly honest, as you are still inclined to think, it should be an easy matter to locate him before to-morrow.”

“Easy for one of your experience, Nick; and that is precisely why I have called upon you.”

“Do you know Kendall’s Boston address?”

“I have already wired to his Boston friends.”

“With what result?”

“A message in reply states that Kendall left for New York last night.”

“Does it state by what route?”

“It does not.”

“Ordinarily, he should have arrived here this morning,” remarked Nick, more gravely. “There is a bare possibility, Gilsey, that he is a victim of foul play.”

“I have thought of that, Nick, which also deters me from acting too hastily, or making any immediate charges.”

“Do you know whether Kendall had much money with him?”

“I do not.”


“If he had what you fear may be missing, Mr. Gilsey, he had a good, round sum,” observed Nick dryly.

The banker shook his head.

“I cannot yet believe it,” said he gravely. “There are, too, other parties whom I would spare the pain of knowing that I have unjustly suspected Kendall of embezzlement, and gone so far as to call in a detective.”

“What other parties, Gilsey?” inquired Nick, with brows lifting slightly.

“I refer to Doctor Leonard Royal, of Fordham, the Episcopal rector, and to his family,” explained the banker. “I infer from what I see of the couple that Kendall is engaged to marry the rector’s daughter, Medora Royal. He is, too, an intimate friend of young Harry Royal, the rector’s only son, who went to Boston with him. It happens, Nick, that Doctor Royal and I have been lifelong friends. I regard him as fondly as a brother. In case I am wrong, Nick, I would not for the world have them know that I suspect Kendall.”

“I see, my dear Gilsey.”

“In a nutshell, Nick, I wish you to locate him for me as quickly as possible.”

“But not arrest him?”

For an instant the banker hesitated, then said huskily:

“No, Nick, not that. Not—not unless——”


“Ah, well, if any ‘unless’ creeps in, I shall know what to do without instructions,” Nick bluntly interposed. “Now, Mr. Gilsey, give me Kendall’s city address.”

“He occupies bachelor’s apartments in Fifty-ninth Street. Here is the number. He has not been there to-day, however.”

“How long since you sent to inquire?”

“Less than an hour.”

“Is he a clubman?”

“I think not.”

Nick Carter replaced his note-book in his pocket, then arose and took his hat from the banker’s table.


Before making his departure, Nick again turned to the banker and said:

“One more question occurs to me, Gilsey. How did you happen to discover that a deficit possibly exists in your cash, and under the circumstances stated?”

“Well, it—it was a perfectly natural discovery in the course of to-day’s business,” Mr. Gilsey faltered.


A subtle gleam showed for a moment in Nick’s keen eyes.

“Do you know of anything, or have you ever heard anything, which at once led you to examine Kendall’s accounts when he failed to appear at his desk this morning?” he demanded.

The banker hesitated for barely a second, and Nick cried curtly:

“Come, come, Gilsey, there is something more. Let me have the whole business, all you know, or up go my hands and I drop the case. I thought you knew I was a man to be safely trusted, dear fellow. Come, come, what sent you to Kendall’s books so hurriedly?”

The banker colored slightly, and now hastened to reply.

“Well, Nick, to be perfectly frank with you, despite that I give no credit to the statement, it was said to me about two weeks ago that Kendall was given to gambling.”

“Oh, ho! Gambling, eh? Who said so?”

“A brother banker, Nick, whose name certainly is not material at this time.”

“Well? Anything more?”

“I asked Kendall about it that very day, and he denied the report and laughed it to scorn. I could not believe it of him, Nick, and did not.”


“What did your brother banker say, Mr. Gilsey?”

“Merely that he had seen both Kendall and young Harry Royal one evening coming out of a gambling-house said to be owned and run by one Moses Flood.”

“Ha! Moses Flood, eh?” muttered Nick, with a curious smile.

“It must have been a mistake,” continued Gilsey, with augmented feeling. “Kendall is not a man of evil inclinations. It is not in his nature to have formed any relations whatever with a scoundrel who gambles for a living, and who runs a resort where——”

“Stop just a moment, Gilsey,” interrupted Nick, with an odd little laugh. “A man of your limited experience is very prone to misjudge men out of his own circle in life.”

“What do you mean, Nick?”

“Just this, my dear Gilsey,” said Nick, more seriously. “I know Moses Flood even better than I know you. Understand me, now, I do not advocate gambling, nor do I defend him as a gambler, for such he certainly is, and in that respect he is an outlaw and a man to be shunned. I am opposed to gambling of all kinds, whether done with cards, or in a pool-room, or on a race-track, or in the stock exchange.”

“Why, certainly, Nick, I already know that,” exclaimed 18 Gilsey, with a surprised expression in his gentle, blue eyes. “But what do you imply of this rascal?”

“Merely this,” smiled Nick. “Aside from his vocation, which in every way I despise, Moses Flood is not a rascal. I know what I am talking about, Gilsey. Flood is a man whose word is as good as any man’s bond. He is as square a man as ever stood in leather. If he wanted to borrow half my fortune till to-morrow, with no better security than his word alone, he could have it, and I should sleep soundly to-night, knowing that he had it.”

“You surprise me, Nick. I should not have formed that opinion of him.”

“Oh, I am but incidentally setting you right as to the man,” added Nick. “He is not a ruffian, nor is he a rascal, save in one way. He is well educated, a student of the sciences, and an admirer of the fine arts. His bachelor quarters are filled with superb treasures and paintings well worth seeing, a veritable art gallery in fact. I know that he gives most liberally to charity, moreover, and I am informed that no man was ever enticed into or intentionally cheated in his gaming-place, which is open only to the very wealthy and most exclusive of our men about town.”

“Still, if he——”

“But that’s enough for Flood, my dear Gilsey. If your 19 man Kendall has been one of his patrons, I shall know it before midnight. At nine o’clock to-morrow morning I will meet you here, or communicate with you by telephone.”

“And you expect——”

“That I shall then have located Kendall? Most decidedly I do, Gilsey. Trust me to be discreet, however, and to have your wishes well in mind.”

“A thousand thanks, Nick. I knew you would help me out.”

“Surely, old friend,” said Nick, as they shook hands. “Let the case rest until morning. The few hours will make no great difference one way or the other. Be here at nine to-morrow morning, and you shall know the—well, let’s hope it will be, not the worst, but the best.”

“Amen to that!” said Gilsey fervently.

It was three o’clock when Nick Carter left the Trust Company building and emerged into Forty-second Street.

As a matter of fact, the case did not appeal very strongly to the famous detective. His regard for Gilsey, much more than any feeling of interest in the affair, had led Nick to undertake the task imposed.

As to the case itself, it then presented no unusual nor especially interesting features. If Kendall had been gambling, as Nick was then inclined to suspect, it was 20 very possible that he was an embezzler, and had already fled from the country. Yet Nick decided that he would be governed by Gilsey’s wishes until the following morning.

Contrary to his anticipations, however, despite that Nick Carter was quick to see all the possibilities of a case, that into which he had now entered was destined to prove one of the most curious and absorbing, as well as most intensely exciting, that he had ever known.

Nick’s first move for locating Kendall that afternoon was characteristic of him. He turned to none of the avenues of information to which the ordinary detective usually turns. Instead, he hastened to the Grand Central Station and boarded the first train for Fordham, his destination being the rectory occupied by the learned divine, Doctor Leonard Royal. Nick reasoned that if Harry Royal had visited Boston with Kendall, and Dora Royal was in love with him, either the clergyman or his daughter could give him the information he desired.

As he approached the rectory, however, Nick met with a startling surprise. It was a fine old place, somewhat isolated, and was surrounded with no end of great shade trees, clusters of shrubbery, and high hedges. The dwelling itself, occupying the middle of the large estate, was a commodious wooden house, with deep verandas and 21 innumerable gables, and with a huge glass conservatory on the south side.

Peering through the high hedge adjoining the side street as he approached, Nick halted, with a muttered exclamation of surprise. Two men, one of them the elderly rector, were just entering the outer door of the conservatory.

The rector’s companion was none other than—Moses Flood, the gamester!

“He here!” murmured Nick. “What the dickens does this signify? He is the last man I would expect to see visiting this clergyman. If Gilsey’s brother banker was right, there may be much more in this case than I anticipated. The way looks easy, and I guess I’d better learn what brings Moses Flood out here.”

Having worked his way through the hedge, Nick crossed the grounds, carefully avoiding observation from the house, and presently darted under a cluster of lilacs close to the side wall of the great glass conservatory.

There he could plainly view the scene within, and he presently found a break in one of the glass panes which enabled him to overhear all that was said—an interview that caused him to open his eyes still a little wider.

The elderly rector was seated in a rustic chair, and his 22 benignant countenance evinced considerable perturbation and distress.

Moses Flood, however, was standing beside a small wooden table near-by, and as the story progresses he is to figure so strongly and strangely that he deserves a careful description.

He was about forty-five, tall and well built, inclining somewhat to stoutness. His wavy hair was tinged with gray, his head finely poised, and his smoothly shaven face strikingly strong and attractive. His features were clean cut and pale, his brow broad, his nose straight, and his lips noticeably thin and firm. His eyes were gray, as sharp and cold as steel, yet capable of remarkable expression. Obviously, it was the face of a man of superhuman will, and one rather inclined to quiet reserve and studious habits.

He was scrupulously dressed. His black Prince Albert fitted like a glove and came nearly to the knees of his pearl-gray trousers. His shoes were small and carefully polished, and his silk hat, on the table beside him, was of the latest style. His only jewelry was a small, piercingly brilliant solitaire in his black satin tie. From head to foot he was without a sign of dust or blemish.

This was the man whom Nick Carter had declared to be a rascal in only one way, and Nick fully appreciated 23 that gaming was not confined to cards alone, and for many of his estimable qualities Nick rather admired Moses Flood.

The drift of the interview between the two men almost immediately gave Nick Carter his cue.

“You must hear me patiently,” Doctor Royal was tremulously saying. “I do not forget the past few months, Mr. Flood. I recall with profound feeling your many personal attentions to me, your liberality for charity, your almost princely generosity for the poor of my parish, and it is painful to me beyond expression when I realize how terribly I have been deceived.”

Flood stood as motionless as a man of marble, and nearly as pale; yet his grave, strong face never once changed in a way to betray his secret feelings.

“You feel, then, that you have been deceived?” said he inquiringly, with a peculiarly deep yet penetrating voice, then imbued with kindliness.

“Dreadfully deceived,” replied the rector sadly. “Of my daughter, and the love for her you have just expressed, I cannot now speak.”

“Good God!” muttered Nick, under his breath. “Flood is in love with the girl here.”

“Of my son Harry,” continued the rector, “who of late 24 has been much absent from me while in college—ah, it breaks my heart, as it would that of his loving sister, to know that he places among his friends a man of your calling.”

“This is the deception to which you refer, Doctor Royal?”

“To what else, sir? I cannot forget that it was my dear boy who brought you here, and only to-day, when I had begun to regard you with almost brotherly affection, have you voluntarily told me the truth. You were represented to me to be in the ivory business. Alas! I now can see the significance of that. But I had all faith in my son, and looked for no such duplicity.”

“Naturally not,” said Flood simply.

“You have been a frequent visitor here, and have won the esteem of all my house, and God only knows how pained I am to learn the truth that must forever sever our friendship.”

There were tears in the rector’s aged eyes, but Flood never moved nor changed.

“May not a gamester be a true friend?” he asked gravely.

“Not a worthy one—never!”

“You feel sure of that?”



“Then you consider me a knave?”

“Your vocation brands you as one.”

“I will not undertake, Doctor Royal, to defend my vocation,” said Flood, with indescribable gentleness. “It would be vain for me to try to show one of your cloth that but very little moral difference exists between my methods and those of numberless institutions countenanced complacently both by law and society——”

“There can be no extenuation——”

“Hear me, please! I came here at your son’s solicitation, rather against my own will, and I believed my first visit would be my last. Fate decided otherwise. I met your only daughter—— Nay, sir, do not shudder! I have never yet spoken to her one word of love.”

“God forbid!”

“If her love were to have been given to me, it was my plan to relinquish my present business and turn to one honorable in the eyes of all. I first came to you, Doctor Royal, and told the whole truth. Believe me, despite your censure, even a gamester may love nobly. But no more need be said. I shall respect and be governed by a father’s will and wishes. Your manner and words show me that under no consideration can you deem me worthy.”


“No longer worthy of my roof—much less my daughter!” answered the rector, trembling, and in tears.

Despite that Flood’s pale face remained as calm as stone, Nick, with his keen discernment, saw that the man was suffering beyond description, and, in a way, the kind-hearted detective pitied him.

“Not of your roof? Ah, well, let it be so,” replied Flood, taking his hat from the table.

Doctor Royal rose, trembling, to his feet.

“Under the circumstances I cannot permit you to come here again,” said he brokenly. “I shall send for my son, and I hope soon to know the whole truth. God help me, sir, my two children are all I have in this life; and my daughter—I do not speak in judgment—a man like you can have no place in her pure, young heart.”

Flood bowed with indescribable composure.

“Yet a man like me, Doctor Royal, may be capable of a great love, and possibly capable of great self-sacrifice. No more, sir. I bid you good day.”

“Stay!” pleaded the rector, deeply agitated. “There is still another reason why my daughter could not consider any proposal from you.”

“Another reason?”

“She is already engaged.”

“Engaged!” Flood echoed, starting slightly.


“It is not yet announced,” faltered the clergyman. “Had I known the nature and depth of your feelings, however, I would have told you earlier. But Mr. Kendall desired it kept quiet for a time, and——”


“Cecil Kendall—you have met him here once, I believe. He is an exemplary young man. In all ways worthy of my Dora.”

For the first time the features of Moses Flood appeared to get the better of his iron will. His hand stole over his heart, his lips contracted and twitched convulsively for a moment, and his voice choked in his throat.

“Does she, your daughter, love Cecil Kendall?” he asked.


“Are you—are you—sure of that?”

“Positively, sir. It would break Medora’s heart if any ill befell Mr. Kendall, or if——”

“Please, sir,” interposed Flood, with cheeks utterly void of color. “You mean well, sir, and have not spoken unkindly. I shall not forget it, nor that you are the father of one more dear to me than life. I bid you adieu.”

He bowed, put on his hat, then passed out of the conservatory 28 by the door they had entered, and strode across the broad grounds and into the quiet and secluded street.

The rector tottered toward a door leading into the side of the house.

He had barely reached it when, from behind a mass of shrubbery near-by, Nick Carter heard a mingled moan and sob that caused his heart to swell with sudden apprehension. He darted to the spot, and beheld a girl reeling, half fainting, with her face buried in her hands, and her pretty figure shaken through and through with welling sobs.

One glance told Nick it was the rector’s daughter.

With a bound he reached her side, taking her by the arm, while his own kindly face revealed a mingled solicitude and apprehension.

“Hush, hush, my dear girl!” he cried softly. “You, too, have overheard, and you have met with a grievous trouble. Turn to me in this hour, and—hush! don’t let your father hear you. There may be a silver lining to the blackest cloud, my child. Let me be your friend in this hour of your grief.”

The startled girl stared at him through her flooded eyes, and by the dropping of her hands revealed a face as sweet and innocent as that of an angel.

Meantime, Moses Flood was hastening to the city, 29 where, later in the day, as he was approaching his famous gambling resort, he encountered on the street a woman who unceremoniously accosted him.

The woman was Belle Braddon, arrayed in elaborate street attire.

“Hello, Mose!” she exclaimed familiarly, with an arch glance and smile.

Flood was not in a mood to be pleased with her familiarity, nor even to resent it.

“Hello, Belle,” he replied, bowing gravely.

“Oh, I say!” she quickly added, drawing nearer, with voice lowered. “You’d best look out for a bolt from the blue. One of your players is in hot water.”

Flood’s cold, steel-gray eyes took on a look of interest.

“What player, Belle?” he slowly demanded.

“Confidentially, mind you, dear fellow!”


“I refer to Cecil Kendall,” whispered the girl.

“What of him?”

“Gone lame. Short in his accounts.”


Flood’s teeth had met with a snap, and his eyes were beginning to blaze.

“Oh, I know what I’m saying,” Belle Braddon pointedly continued. “I’m in the same office with him, you 30 know. When it’s up to me to get wise to all that’s going on, I come mighty near doing it.”

Moses Flood was calm again—strangely, preternaturally calm.

“Do you know how much he is short?”

“Only ninety thousand dollars!” exclaimed the girl, with a leer.

“What is being done about it?”

“Not much as yet, Mose.”

“Tell me what.”

“Oh, Gilsey wants to locate Kendall as quickly as possible, and has called in Nick Carter to do it for him.”

“The dickens! Nick Carter, eh?”

“Gilsey evidently thinks that Kendall believes he has left his tracks covered during his absence, and means to try to carry the deficit a while longer undetected. Gilsey is wise to it, though, but I reckon nothing will be done for a day or so.”

“Is that all you know about it?”

“That’s all now, Mose,” laughed the girl, with a wink. “Isn’t that enough?”

Flood nodded.

“Quite enough,” said he oddly. “Belle, dear, keep this to yourself till I give you permission to open your lips about it, will you?”


The girl colored deeply when thus addressed, and slipped her hand into his.

“Sure thing,” she answered fondly. “You know I’d do anything for you, Mose.”

“Do this, then, will you?”

“Trust me.”

“Not one word about it.”

“I’m as dumb as an oyster—for your sake, mind you!”

“I’ll not forget that part of it, Belle,” said Flood pointedly.

Then he turned and moved on—and his face was a study for an artist.


“Last turn! Four for one if you call it right!”

The monotonous voice of the cuekeeper, announcing with hackneyed phrase the alluring possibility, broke the strained silence of an elaborately furnished room.

It was a room on the second floor of the famous gambling resort owned and conducted by Moses Flood. It was that particular room in the house in which King Faro held sole sway.

The house was in a fashionable street, and had an 32 attractive exterior. No layman would have dreamed that it masked a lair of vice. It was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It was one of a superb block of brown sandstone residences within a stone’s throw of Fifth Avenue, with a broad flight of carved steps leading to the front door. The elegant stained windows of this front door, as well as those of the lower rooms, were protected with strong, iron gratings, that thieves might not break through and steal.

Incidentally, the police also were thus excluded—unless they came with a warrant. In that case, even, which a wardman was liberally paid to prevent, they would have “found nothing.” It takes time to read a search-warrant—all the time that would be required to effect a transformation scene within. Such are the precautions taken by vice.

Entrance could be had only with the sanction of a burly attendant constantly at the front door, and by means of the magic talisman of previous acquaintance, or the voucher of a known and reliable friend. One entering from the street would have seen only a superbly furnished hall, with sumptuous parlors adjoining, and a library and smoking-room beyond.

To see more, one must go higher.


The tiger lurks on the floors above.

To one only of the upper rooms is attention here invited—the room already mentioned.

It was large and richly furnished. A heavy Wilton carpet covered the floor. Massive walnut chairs stood a little away from the beautifully frescoed walls, and the ceiling, done in exquisite colors, and so as to produce the effect of height, revealed a lavish expenditure of money. It might have been a room in a king’s palace.

Rare paintings adorned the walls. A large sideboard, rich with silver and cut glass, stood at the back of the room. Costly ornaments occupied shelves and niches here and there.

The door leading to the main hall of the house was closed and heavily barred. It had in one panel a “peek,” so called, with a moving slide, through which an attendant could look into the hall. This was another precaution taken by vice.

At the front of the room was a long, baize-covered table, on which was a faro layout, the various suits painted in natural colors on enameled cloth. It was the tiger, courted while feared. It should have been called the snake, for it fascinated before it killed, rendering powerless the victims it lured to destruction.

Back of the table sat the dealer, who played his luck 34 against all opponents. His duties were arduous. He sold the stacks of ivory chips, handled all the money, shuffled and dealt the cards from the silver deal box before him, and took or paid all bets. He seldom spoke unless addressed. His brain was active, his eyes alert, his hands busy; but his face, whether he won or lost, evinced no emotion.

In a chair to his right, and somewhat above the table, sat the lookout. His duty was to see that the dealer made no mistakes. The lookout thus protects the house. The players have no protection. They who “buck the tiger” must look out for themselves.

At one end of the table sat the cuekeeper. In front of him on the table lay the cue-rack, a small wooden frame, pierced with wires, on which movable buttons indicate the cards already dealt and those still remaining in the deal box.

The cuekeeper in a faro-bank is every man’s menial. The losers curse him; the winners sometimes tip him. The cuekeeper in this place was a humpback, named John Green. He more frequently was called Humpty. All cuekeepers are malformations; the longer they live, the worse they become.

On a couch at one side of the room a young man lay sleeping. It was the deep, dead sleep of intoxication. 35 Yet he was well clad, and his boyish features indicated culture and refinement. His name was—Harry Royal.

The companion with whom he had entered this place some hours earlier was seated at the gaming-table, in a chair directly opposite the dealer and amid several other players. He was a tall, fair man, and his knit brows, his pressed lips, his glowing eyes, and tremulous hands, indicated his intense interest in the game then in progress.

He appeared quite collected, however, and placed his bets promptly, like one playing a system. He was setting a rapid pace, too, if one might judge from the stacks of chips in front of him. Yet he plainly was not a winner. The ugly light in his frowning eyes was convincing evidence of that.

Such was the place, and the employment of its several occupants, which Moses Flood was at that hour approaching.

The May day was drawing to a close, and the dusk of early evening had begun to fall.

The cuekeeper repeated his announcement:

“Last turn! Four for one if you call it!”

The man last described glanced at the cuekeeper:

“What’s in, Humpty?” he demanded.

“A cat-hop, Mr. Kendall—two kings and a seven. He’s got to show a king first, hasn’t he?” replied the 36 humpback, with a weird smile stealing over his broad, unpleasant-looking face.

“It’s two to one he does,” growled Kendall, as the dealer briefly paused before making the turn.

Kendall placed a hundred to win on the seven, coppered the king for a like amount, and called the turn for fifty.

Several other players, most of whom were wealthy bloods about town, men who would have given thousands rather than have been caught in Flood’s gaming-house—these men also had placed their bets.

“All ready?” queried the dealer indifferently.

“Let her come, Mr. Bruce,” said one impatiently.

Tom Bruce, a dealer who had been in Flood’s employ for several years, deftly pushed the cards from the box.

He showed a seven, and then two kings.

Cecil Kendall had lost two hundred and fifty dollars on the turn.

For the bare fraction of a second he shrank, shuddered visibly, and his drawn features took on a deathly pallor and the haggard look of secret despair.

“Curse the infernal luck!” he growled audibly. “Will it never change?”

The lookout, a man named Nathan Godard, also in Flood’s employ, smiled faintly.


“What’s the trouble, Kendall?” he asked, in bantering fashion. “Can’t you get ’em down right?”

“I didn’t get those bets down right, that’s evident,” snarled Kendall bitterly.

“So I see.”

“What you don’t see, Godard, isn’t worth seeing.”

“Oh, is that so? You must be a loser, Kendall.”

“About eighteen hundred.”

“Ah, well, don’t let it bother you,” laughed Godard, a bit maliciously. “You’re not playing for your life.”

Kendall evidently did not like the interference, nor the tone in which the last remarks were made. He glanced sharply up at the rather unprepossessing face of the speaker, and retorted curtly:

“No, not for my life, Nate Godard! But I’m playing for something as dear to me as life.”

“A fortune, eh?” grinned Godard, not in the least disturbed.

“No, not a fortune,” snapped Kendall.

The dealer glanced across the table at him, still shuffling the cards for the next deal, but he said nothing.

Godard, however, could not resist voicing the thought that arose in his mind.

“Well, if you’re playing for something more dear than either life or fortune, Kendall, you’re taking infernally 38 long chances,” said he pointedly. “Honor is something not wisely staked upon a faro layout, and if——”

In an instant Kendall was upon his feet, ghastly with passion.

“Who spoke of honor?” he cried furiously. “Do you dare imply that I——”


The bell on the hall door had rung sharply.

It rang an immediate knell to the brief disturbance.

It brought a moment of absolute silence, in which every eye was turned swiftly toward the door.

Humpty Green, the malformation, leaped up from his chair and ran to the peek. One glance was sufficient. He closed the slide, then threw both hands above his head with a grotesque gesture of warning.

The eyes of all were upon him. His lips moved, but his voice, was silent, yet all received the mute message he conveyed.

“Hush! It’s the boss! It’s Moses Flood!”

Then he removed the heavy bar and opened the door.

Moses Flood, with face as calm as a sea of ice, gravely entered the room.

He was followed closely by two men, both of whom were in disguise.


One was the famous New York detective’s chief assistant, Chick Carter.

The other was Nick Carter, the great detective himself.

The humpback closed the heavy door and replaced the bar.


Before depicting the thrilling episodes that followed the entrance of Nick Carter and Chick into Moses Flood’s gambling-house, it is necessary, in order that Nick’s conduct may be better appreciated, to revert to his meeting with Dora Royal near the rectory conservatory, and present the remainder of the interview.

That the girl had overheard all that had passed between Flood and her father, and that her discovery of the gamester’s vocation came upon her with a shock that overwhelmed and crushed her, were at once painfully apparent to Nick, who quickly interpreted the true significance of her touching grief.

It awakened a feeling of sympathy in the kind-hearted detective, moreover, together with a desire to befriend the girl, if possible, with which aim in view he gently 40 drew her back of the conservatory and out of sight from the windows of the house.

Having made sure that they were safe from the eyes and ears of others, Nick brought all his kind influence to bear, and soon succeeded in getting Miss Royal into a more composed state.

She was barely twenty, an innocent and artless girl, obviously unused to the ways of the world, and that her secret heart had been won by the strong and magnetic nature of Moses Flood, while she was entirely ignorant of his vocation, did not in the least surprise the detective. How he could now serve her best, however, was Nick’s immediate and chief consideration.

“Now come, Miss Royal, I want you to confide in me,” said he, in a kindly and impressive way. “You are in trouble, and need a good friend, one who knows all the ways of the world, and just what is of true value in it. I shall have only your happiness and welfare at heart, I assure you, and very possibly I can do more for you than you imagine. Come, now, and confide in me.”

The girl heard him like one in a dream at first, but Nick had an influence at such times that was quite irresistible, and Dora Royal soon began drying her pretty eyes.


“But you are a stranger to me, sir,” she protested, in charming uncertainty. “I never saw you before——”

“Well, well, so I am, and I hope you’ll excuse me,” laughed Nick, in a way to further reassure her. “I felt so moved by your grief that I really forgot to be conventional. Here is my card, Miss Royal. Perhaps you know me by name.”

“Are—are you the famous detective?” faltered Dora, with glistening eyes, raised from the card to seek his.

Nick laughed again, and his smile proved to be contagious this time, for the drawn lips of the girl began to relax a little.

“I am Nick Carter, the detective,” he replied. “How great I am I leave others to say. I certainly should feel that I had done something worthy, Miss Royal, were I to succeed in restoring all you now feel to be lost to you. Who knows but I may, eh?”

“Oh, Detective Carter, do you think so?”


“But how? If——”

“Nay, let’s get at this in proper order, that there may be no misunderstanding,” interposed Nick, smiling. “First, let me know that you desire me for a friend, and that you feel you can trust me.”

“Indeed I do, sir. Your name alone is sufficient.”


“Will you rely blindly upon my judgment, and consent to follow my advice?”

“Willingly, sir,” bowed Dora. “I am sure it will be good advice.”

“Never anything else,” declared Nick heartily. “Will you also confide in me?”

“I think so, sir, if you require it.”

“Oh, I shall not ask you to tell me very much that I do not already know,” said Nick, with a sort of paternal fondness. “How did you happen to overhear the interview yonder? I’m sure you did not deliberately play the eavesdropper.”

“Indeed, no; I would not have done that.”

“You were——”

“I was reading in the shade of the shrubbery near-by, and when they began speaking——”

“You literally could not move, eh?” Nick again interposed. “Ah, well, I saw that the disclosure quite overwhelmed you, and perhaps it was all for the best.”

“Best, sir? Oh, how can that be? If Mr. Flood is as bad as—as——”

“As your worthy father really implied, he would be a very bad man, indeed,” laughed Nick quietly. “But your good father is both right and wrong, Miss Royal. There are far worse men than Moses Flood, my dear 43 girl; and if he were to throw up his miserable vocation, which he intimated he intended doing for your sake, he would be a man whose hand I would grasp as a friend and brother.”

“Oh, Detective Carter, do you say so?”

“And who knows, Miss Royal, but that we yet may lead him to do so, and your father into regarding the matter in a rather different light.”

“Oh, if we only could!”

“But do not enthuse too quickly, my dear,” laughed Nick. “The job is yet to be done, as we detectives say, and the task must be yours and mine alone. No third party must be admitted to our secret, mind you.”

“Trust me, I will do whatever you advise,” declared Dora, now quite aglow with reawakened hopes. “I am sure you mean to be my friend, Detective Carter, and I will trust you blindly.”

“I think you will never regret it,” bowed Nick, gently pressing the hand she impulsively had given him. “You need not tell me that you love Mr. Flood, for I already know it.”

“Ah, sir, he has been so kind and generous; so attentive to us all, and so gentle and dignified——”

“Well, well, never mind that,” smiled Nick. “All that 44 is like Mr. Flood. Tell me, however, if any one else suspects your affection.”

“Oh, no, sir. Indeed, no!”

“So I inferred.”

“I have kept it all to myself.”

“But what of Mr. Kendall? I think your father told Flood you were engaged to him.”

Dora blushed a little, and appeared confused for a moment.

“Really, sir. I have no deeper feeling than that of esteem for Mr. Kendall,” she presently replied. “I greatly fear that my father drew upon his imagination somewhat, and merely aimed to insure the end of Mr. Flood’s visits.”

“Oh, very likely,” nodded Nick. “Yet you would have let Flood go without disabusing him?”

The girl turned and pointed toward the house.

“My father is an aged man, sir, and I have been taught to be dutiful and obedient,” said she, with charming simplicity. “I saw him in tears when he dismissed the man, who, without knowing it, has won my love. I could do no less than remain silent, sir, and abide my own time.”

“You’re a good girl,” said Nick gravely. “I shall do all I can, Miss Royal, to turn matters in your favor. 45 Meantime, however, should anything happen and you need advice, I want you to come to me, or send for me, and I will come to you. It may be greatly to your advantage to do so, rather than to go to another.”

“Then, sir, I surely will do so.”

“Without fail?”

“Without fail, Detective Carter. I will appeal to you only.”

“Very good,” bowed Nick. “Now, one thing more, and I then must leave you for the present. When was Mr. Kendall last here?”

“Nearly a week ago, sir.”

“He is away?”

“He is in Boston, sir; and my brother is with him,” said Dora. “But we expected Harry to return this morning.”

“Possibly he has been unavoidably delayed,” said Nick, now convinced that none at the rectory could give him the information he wanted.

“I imagine that is so, Mr. Carter,” replied the girl.

Nick deferred his departure only to add a few words of advice and instruction, then made his way out of the grounds and returned to the city. He left Dora Royal, if not the happier because of his visit, at least encouraged by his kindly assurances. There was nothing new or 46 strange in this interest thus exhibited by Nick. It was second nature to him to try to serve those he found in distress, particularly in such a case as this.

On arriving in town Nick hastened to his residence and there had a talk with Chick, his chief assistant, to whom he imparted the whole story.

“I wish to locate Kendall this evening, if possible,” said he, in conclusion. “There’s a bare chance that we may find him at Flood’s gambling-house, or there get a line on his whereabouts.”

“Just as likely as not,” nodded Chick, in genial assent. “Why not go up there, Nick?”

“That is my intention.”

“Want me?”

“You may as well come along. There may be something doing.”

“Good enough! What disguise, Nick?”

“The usual one, Chick, and I’ll slip into my make-up as Joe Badger.”

“I’ll be ready as soon as you are, Nick.”

In their pursuit of criminals it frequently became necessary for the Carters to visit the gambling-houses about town, both high and low. The presence of a detective, however, if known as such, is always objectionable to the proprietors of these places. For which reason 47 both Nick and Chick had each a disguise in which, at such places, they were supposed to be men addicted to gaming, and were freely given admission. With the opening of any new house of this character, both at once cultivated the acquaintance of the managers, and thereafter visited the place only often enough to keep up appearances, or when in search of some crook.

Nick frequently had been in Flood’s sumptuously furnished house, where he was known as Badger, and none dreamed of his being a detective, not even Flood himself.

It was about seven o’clock that evening when Nick and Chick approached the gambling-house, and as luck would have it, they encountered Flood just as he was entering.

“Good evening, Mr. Badger,” the gamester said politely, as the three men mounted the steps.

“How are you, Flood?” rejoined Nick. “You remember my friend here, Tom Cory? He was here with me about a month ago.”

“I do not recall his face,” smiled Flood gravely. “Possibly I was absent at the time. Glad to meet you, Mr. Cory. Any gentleman recommended by Mr. Badger is always welcome here. Come in, please.”

And Flood shook Nick by the hand, while the attendant 48 at the street door closed the heavy portal behind them.

Thirty seconds later the clang of the bell silenced the disturbance at the faro table, as previously described, and the three men entered the tiger’s lair.


The effect of Moses Flood’s entrance into his gambling place was magical. It was as if a king had come into the presence of half-a-dozen squabbling courtiers.

Godard shrank back in his lookout chair and relapsed into silence. The several players who had risen in the brief excitement resumed their seats with an air of unconcern, and the dealer continued his shuffling of the cards.

“What’s the trouble?” Flood quietly demanded.

He halted for a moment, erect and motionless, with his piercing eyes bent darkly on the scene.

“Nothing much, sir,” rejoined the humpback, as he dropped the bar across the closed door. “A bit of backcap, that’s all. It’s over now.”

“It had better be,” was the significant response.


Flood’s keen eyes had taken in the situation, yet his coldly dispassionate countenance masked his feelings as with a veil of ice. He passed back of the table, gravely greeting the several players, then paused to gaze down at the sleeping youth on the couch.

“Did he come in with you?” he asked, turning soberly to Cecil Kendall.

“Yes,” replied the latter, with a faint smile crossing his pale face. “We have been over to Boston. Only returned this noon.”

“He has been drinking heavily, hasn’t he?”


“Wayward fool!”

“I tried to dissuade him,” muttered Kendall. “He’s in no shape to go home, so we dropped in here.”

Flood’s face was clouded with a censorious frown as he turned away to place his hat on a rack near-by.

Godard had made no further remarks, but sat staring oddly at Kendall, who now appeared to ignore him.

The humpback had resumed his position at the end of the table, with his legs curled under him in his chair, with his ungainly head drawn down between his shoulders, and his attention directed upon the movements of the dealer, who had thrust the cards into the box and was about to start a new deal.


Just then, however, Moses Flood approached him from behind and detained him with a significant touch on the shoulder.

Bruce did not commence to deal.

“How are they coming, Kendall?” Flood quietly asked, with a glance at the former’s chips.

“Rocky,” said Kendall, with a sickly smile.

“That so?”

“Win these, Mose, and you have my pile. I shall be down and out, in more senses than one.”

Flood knew too well what he meant, yet his countenance did not change by so much as a shadow. He addressed the dealer, saying gravely:

“Go and get your supper, Tom, and I will deal while you are out,” said he. “I shall wish to be away for an hour or two after you return.”

“All right, sir.”

“You, Godard, may rearrange that sideboard, if you will. It looks as if it had been struck by lightning. The cues can declare it if I overpay.”

“Not much danger of that, Mr. Flood,” smiled Godard, as the two men at once complied.

Flood made no reply. He wheeled the lookout’s chair a little to one side, as if it was in his way. In fact, however, he wanted no one in it during the next half-hour.


Then he took the dealer’s seat at the table, that which Tom Bruce had vacated.

“You may draw the curtains back of me, John, and close the window. I feel a draft,” said he, addressing the cuekeeper.

He never called him by his nickname. In his sight the deformed man’s affliction was great enough as it was. This showed of what the nature of Moses Flood was capable.

He had removed his coat and opened his vest. He was rather slow in his movements, and not without an object. He had been on fire within. He now was cooling down. He was setting his nerves to the extraordinary task he saw before him.

As the humpback left the window, Flood turned as if to see that it was closed. For the moment his face was averted from the several players. Only Humpty Green could see it, and he caught from Flood’s eyes a flash that thrilled him through and through. It was a magnetic telegram, an unuttered command. It was understood, and the cuekeeper was startled; but even the cuekeeper in a faro-bank commands his emotions. Without a change of countenance he resumed his seat.

Meantime, Nick Carter and Chick had sauntered over to the sideboard, then dropped into two chairs near the 52 wall, where they sat, quietly talking and pretending to be sizing up the game.

“There’s your man, all right,” murmured Chick, when Kendall’s name was mentioned.

“Yes,” nodded Nick. “That is about what I expected.”

“Are you going to arrest him?”

“Not at present. I’m not sure that he is guilty of embezzlement, and Gilsey wished to give him till to-morrow to report at the bank.”

“You’ll keep an eye on him, eh?”



“Wait a bit,” muttered Nick. “By Jove! there’s something out of the ordinary going to come off here.”

“Think so?”

“Look at Flood’s face. It’s as colorless as marble.”

“So ’tis, Nick.”

“There is something in the wind. He has got rid of his dealer and sent his lookout from the chair. By all that’s good and great, Chick, I believe he’s up to some extraordinary move.”

“You’ll wait to see?”

“I should say so.”

None of this was overheard by others, and the two 53 detectives gave no sign of observing anything unusual. It took Nick’s keen eyes and broad experience, moreover, to detect in Moses Flood the slightest indication of what he had in mind.

Flood had reverted to the table, and the light again fell full on his face. It was pale, yet composed; stern, yet not evil; expressive, yet changeless.

He was thinking of the girl to whose hand he had aspired, of the rector whose censorious words still were ringing in his ears; and he was thinking, too, of the wretched man seated opposite, a man who had fallen lower and sinned deeper than he had ever done.

He was about to do what only one man in millions would have done. He believed what the rector had told him, that Dora Royal loved this man, who, were his sin to be brought home to him, would become a criminal at law and an outcast of society.

For the sake of the girl, and to preserve her happiness, Moses Flood, looking for no return, not so much even as a smile of gratitude, was about to secretly sacrifice a goodly part of his fortune upon the altar of his own hopeless affection.

He had spoken the truth, this man, when he said, “Even a gamester may love nobly, and be capable of great self-sacrifice.”


Yet his face was a mask, hiding the emotions within.

One man only among all his observers could read it aright—Nick Carter.

Flood laid aside the deal box lately used, and took another from a lower drawer of the table, of which he alone had the key.

The box appeared to be precisely like the other—but it was not. With slight manipulation, the dealer could lower an invisible plate within, thus widening the slot through which the cards were dealt, allowing the passage of two cards instead of one. The mechanism could not be discovered, except with close examination, and even then a novice would not detect it.

“What’s the matter with the other box?” demanded a player, at once betraying a gambler’s suspicions.

“Nothing that I know of,” said Flood coldly. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, for no reason. I wondered why you shifted, that’s all.”

“Because I wanted to,” said Flood. “I prefer to work with my own tools. Are you suspicious? If so, you are not invited to play.”

“That’s true enough.”

“If my word is of weight with you, however, you may 55 be sure that a false card was never dealt in this place, to my knowledge.”

And he spoke the truth.

“The game is strong enough without it,” smiled Kendall, over whom, as over all, Moses Flood seemed to exercise a strangely magnetic influence.

The latter made no reply, but took from the same drawer a deck of cards bound with a rubber, which he deliberately removed and threw to the floor. They were well seasoned, and of a rare and expensive quality, and unique design. They were of the kind known as “crazy backs.”

Nick Carter recognized them the moment his gaze lighted on them. He leaned nearer to Chick and whispered quietly:

“I begin to suspect what’s coming off here, Chick. That’s a brace box, for a hundred.”

“The dickens! Do you think so?”

“I do, indeed. And that deck of cards he has just brought up, Chick, is a deck of strippers.”

“What are strippers, Nick?”

“Cards used for dealing one kind of a brace game,” whispered Nick. “They are cut just the least bit wider at one end than the other. The narrow ends of the cards forming the middle of the layout are turned one 56 way in shuffling, and those comprising the ends of the layout are turned the other.”

“What’s the idea of that?”

“Simple as two and two,” replied Nick softly. “After shuffling the deck, the dealer takes the wide end of the cards between his thumbs and middle fingers, and with a movement so rapid as to defy detection, he strips them apart. Then he holds in one hand the cards corresponding to the ends of the layout, and in the other those comprising the middle. After putting them together, and placing them in the box, he knows almost to a certainty which cards are to win and which to lose throughout the deal.”

“The devil you say!” muttered Chick. “Then there must, indeed, be something coming off here.”

“Wait and see.”

Now, a word concerning the brace game Nick had partly described. Suppose that a player bets heavily upon an end card of the layout to win.

The dealer sees that the bet is placed correctly, and for him to win the amount wagered it is necessary for him to reverse the combination of the cards. What does he do? He presses down on the secret plate in the box, and in making the turn, instead of dealing two cards, a winner and a loser, he deals three, and so adroitly that the 57 deception is not observed. This reverses the combination, and the player referred to must lose. It is called “taking a card.”

But it is necessary, also, that the cues should show correctly at the end of the deal. The cuekeeper watches the dealer attentively. The latter, after taking a card, signs by prearranged signals to the former, who raps once with a chip against the side of the cue-rack, which signifies that the card taken is recorded, and at the end of the deal the cues are right.

Sometimes the cards are marked also, that the dealer may know each turn before making it. This is called “dealing at sight.”

What is all this that has been described? It is one way by which men thrust their hands into their brother’s pocket and rob him. It is more ignoble than stopping one in the darkness, and commanding him, at the point of a weapon, “Stand and deliver!” It is one of the methods by which is dealt the perfidious “brace faro!”

Such was the box and such the cards which Moses Flood had placed on the table before him.

The goggle eyes of Humpty Green began to open wider, his ungainly face to grow pale and grave. He had never known of such in the place, but the master 58 had commanded and the menial would obey. He drew his chair closer to the table.

Amid that momentous silence which invariably marks the opening of a new deal, Moses Flood, his pale features fixed like marble, his eyes steadfastly intense, his white hands nerved to their performance, began to shuffle the cards. His movements were rapid and graceful. In the flash of an eye he had stripped the deck asunder, cut it, and placed it in the box. A six showed at the top; the ends of the layout were winners, the middle losers.

Flood sat back in his chair and waited the placing of bets. With an experienced eye he sized Kendall’s remaining chips; there were about six hundred dollars’ worth. The other players were wagering small amounts, and he gave them no attention. His mind was upon the man directly opposite.

Kendall’s hand trembled when it placed his first bet. He went on to the six to lose. He believed that he alone of all the world knew his dire need of winning.

This bet was wrongly placed, and Flood knew it, yet made a turn. There was no decision, but a king had showed winner, and Kendall coppered the next. In a spirit of antagonism he was bucking the cards.

Moses Flood leaned forward and glanced down upon the box. He could see the edges of the three top cards. 59 They were marked by small, red dots, invisible to the players. Suddenly he made the turn. It was done like a flash. His forefinger touched for an instant the left lower corner of the box, and the silence was broken by the quick, responsive rap of the cuekeeper. He had taken a five. The cue was marked up, and the combination was reversed.

Cecil Kendall had won his first bet—and the face of the humpback was a study; for, by taking the card, the dealer, contrary to all precedent, had forced himself to lose!

Humpty Green decided that Moses Flood had made a mistake.

The good luck seemed to encourage Kendall. He placed another bet—and won. He doubled the amount, and won again. He moved bet and payment to the corner of a card, and said in tones tremulous despite him:

“That goes both ways.”

He whispered the turn—it was followed by a rap from the cuekeeper.

The latter’s face was now livid from uprising excitement, and his eyes like glowing coals. There could be but one meaning to what he saw—Moses Flood was indeed dealing a “brace game,” but he was dealing it against himself, and forcing Cecil Kendall to win! With 60 form quivering in his chair, the menial looked at the master. He might as well have looked at the ceiling.

To Kendall it seemed like the interposition of fate. The spirit of fortune inspired him. He observed that his last bet topped the limit, yet he had not been stopped.

“How high can I go?” he asked suddenly, looking up at the dealer.

“Till I call you down,” answered Flood, with unmoved countenance.

“Look out, or I’ll break you,” laughed Kendall nervously, his face flushed, his eyes glowing.

“You cannot break me,” replied Flood, with calm gravity.

“How much can I win?”

The question came with strangely abrupt eagerness.

“Ninety thousand dollars,” was the nonchalant rejoinder.

A momentary pallor swept over Kendall’s face at the mention of the sum, and his glittering eyes flashed for an instant on Flood; but the latter’s countenance, void of insinuation, was as cold and calm as a sea of ice. The player’s brow darkened slightly, and his lips became drawn in the intensity of his mental action. Had he known what the humpback, shaking in his chair, knew 61 at that moment, he would have won the sum in half-a-dozen turns.

“God!” he cried to himself. “What would that be to me! it would place me on my feet again! It would make me a man again—a man worthy of life and of her! God above, is it possible to win it?”

He saw a possibility, one chance in a hundred, and took it. He was well worthy his reputation of a high-roller. Down he went upon the layout with his chips; now betting one, now two, now three hundred dollars on a card.

The chips before him gathered like Arctic snow. One, two, three thousand dollars was passed—and yet he won. His face burned as from fever. He was on fire within. He could scarcely comprehend what was taking place, but that it was was sufficient; and a fervent hope, banishing sober contemplation, urged him on. He pressed his bets from two to three, and from three to five hundred, yet Moses Flood never spoke. He was glad to see him do so, for the other players, astounded by the seeming run of luck, were beginning to follow Kendall.

The silence, oppressive in its intensity, was broken only by the occasional rap of the cuekeeper and the labored breathing of the sleeping youth upon the sofa.

“Last turn,” said the humpback suddenly, his voice 62 deep and husky in his throat. “An ace, five, and seven in.”

Then, for the first time during the deal, did Moses Flood glance at the cue-rack, and raising his eyes, like stars in his stoical face, he gave its keeper a look of such intensity that the fellow fairly shuddered in his chair. It was a command of silence which he dared not disobey.

Cecil Kendall placed his bets, and Flood made the turn.

The cues were right, despite the fact that six cards had been taken, and the humpback breathed a sigh of relief.

Something like an exclamation of triumph, half suppressed, broke from Kendall’s lips. He had called the turn and emptied the check-rack.

The recreant cashier of the Milmore Trust Company had won twenty thousand dollars on the deal.

He had experienced a wonderful turn of luck.



As the deal ended, a deep sigh of relief rose from the several players at the table, as from men long submerged in water. Their suppressed excitement had been intense, fairly painful at times, and this halt between the deals was a welcome respite.

Except Moses Flood and the deformed cuekeeper, only one man in the room saw what Moses Flood was doing. Before the deal was half out, Nick Carter detected the gamester’s design, as well as the marvelous dexterity with which it was executed. And Nick readily guessed, too, the true occasion for it. Once more he leaned nearer to Chick and said softly:

“Do you see what Flood is doing?”

“I see that Kendall is winning,” whispered Chick.

“Like a race-horse. You are witnessing a bit of unselfish work that places Flood in a class all his own,” murmured Nick, with some feeling.

“What do you mean?”

“He is dealing so as to insure himself a loser, and forcing Kendall to win.”

“The deuce you say!”


“Mark me, Chick,” added Nick. “He will make Kendall win a sum sufficient to square him at the bank—ninety thousand dollars.”

“Good God!” muttered Chick. “Do you think so?”

“Wait and see.”

“What will you do about Kendall in that case?”

“I shall be governed by what I observe,” whispered Nick. “Be careful to give no sign that we are wise to anything. This is one of the most extraordinary episodes I ever witnessed.”

“But what object can Flood have in——”

“Hush! I can guess what it is, and for all the world I would not get in his way. I will explain it to you later. No more now, Chick. They’re off again.”

Flood again had shuffled and stripped the cards, then placed them in the deal box. Looking at his coldly stoical face, one would have said that he was utterly unconscious of his losses.

“You have emptied the chip-rack, Kendall,” said he deliberately. “Count me back twenty thousand dollars’ worth of your chips. I will note the sum, and pay you at the end of your play.”

He had no fear that the player would quit on the strength of such a proposition. He knew him too well—and his dire need to win more.


“Suppose my good luck continues?” said Kendall doubtfully.

“Ah, that is not likely,” said Flood calmly. “But you shall have all that you can win. I think you know me to be a man of my word.”

Kendall would have preferred to have the money, but he offered no further objection. He returned the chips desired, and Flood made a memorandum of the amount.

Then the next deal began. It was a repetition of the former, save that now and then, in order to keep the other players in check, Flood was compelled to let Kendall lose. But the latter won heavily on the deal as a whole, his bets being pressed to four figures, and when the final turn was made he had forty-five thousand dollars due him from the bank.

The intense strain to which Moses Flood was subjecting himself was beginning to tell on him. His teeth were hard set. The muscles of his jaw were rigid, and the veins about his temples were purple and swollen. The pupils of his dilated eyes were like points of electric light.

Despite his efforts to the contrary, other players were beginning to win by his manipulation of the cards, and Flood felt that the play must be brought to an end. As he dealt the cards and put them in the box for the third 66 deal, he decided upon the surest and speediest method. He sized the chips in front of Kendall, then made a rapid turn.

One double was in the box. Kendall staked a thousand.

He won his bet fairly, and Flood lost six hundred to the other players. He bit his lip as he paid the bets.

Then he glanced down at the next turn to come, and saw that Kendall was destined to lose. The outsiders also were upon the card to win, following fortune’s favorite. Moses Flood could have won all the bet by making an honest turn. Instead, he took a card—and lost all.

He paid the bets without a change of countenance—then sat back in his chair.

“With this memorandum and the chips in front of you,” said he, looking across at Kendall, “I owe you forty-five thousand dollars. You may bet the entire amount on a case card.”

“What’s the objection to continuing as we’re going?” cried Kendall, aghast at the offer. “I’m doing well enough as it is.”

Flood’s cold features underwent no change.

“You may make the bet suggested, Kendall, or come down to the limit,” he said firmly.


“You cannot get even by that,” growled Kendall sullenly.

“Nor can you win so rapidly.”

“Your proposition goes, does it?”

“What I say in this place always goes.”

Kendall sat silent for several moments. He already had won half of the sum he so direfully needed, but he could not believe that fortune would favor him much longer. He was a ruined man when he entered the place, and with only half the desired sum he still was ruined. To win the bet suggested meant to him—redemption. There was no alternative but to accept the offer.

Flood knew absolutely how Kendall would size up the situation, that he would take this one chance to square himself. He was not surprised, therefore, when the latter cried hoarsely:

“I’ll make the bet!”

“Give me all of your chips,” said Flood calmly.

Kendall stacked them upon the layout.

Flood transferred them to the chip-rack, then tossed a marker, a small, square piece of ivory, across the table.

“That goes for forty-five thousand, Kendall,” said he. “Bet it on any card you please.”


A hush like that of a death chamber fell over the room.

A fortune was to hang on the turn of a single card.

Not another man placed a bet.

The color of the marker, white, seemed to give nerve to Cecil Kendall. If it had been a black one, he would have shrunk and hesitated. As it was, he played a three-time loser to win, tossing the marker upon the card, and then sat back in his chair, half fainting, and waited the turn that was to decide his fate.

The excitement was intense, utterly indescribable, yet not a sound broke the deathly stillness.

Moses Flood alone appeared to be calm—but the condition was external only. He leaned a little forward, that he might look down on the box on which every eye was focused, and anticipated each coming turn.

He made one turn and there was no decision of the enormous bet. He then made another, a third, a fourth, and still there was no decision.

Then he hesitated.

Kendall was breathless. His eyes were fixed, staring wildly at the deal box, and his teeth were chattering. He was like a man yearning for pardon even under the muzzles of guns that hung upon the command to fire.

Could he endure the suspense? Would reason sustain 69 the strain? Or would he suddenly reach forward and withdraw the bet?

Looking down upon the deal box, Moses Flood saw the coming turn.

He saw that Kendall was fated to lose his bet.

Despite his iron will, Flood began to tremble. To accomplish his sublime object, he was obliged to take a false card. Could he do it in his present state and under the glance of every eye? He ground his teeth, knit his heavy brows, and the blood in the arteries of his neck seemed as if to burst its confines.

Still he hesitated—then the gong on the door broke the awful silence.

Every eye turned involuntarily toward the bell.

Flood’s hands moved with lightning like rapidity. They took the false card undetected. The turn was made—and Cecil Kendall had won!

He leaped to his feet, caught blindly at his chair, then cried wildly:

“No more! Not another bet! Not for life itself will I make another bet!”

Flood rose, with face fairly transfigured, and pointed to the sleeping man on the couch.

“Peace!” he sternly commanded, with a voice that 70 silenced all. “Do not wake young Royal. He is in no shape to go home to his father and sister!”

Nick Carter leaned over and gripped Chick hard by the wrist.

“By all the gods, Chick,” he muttered huskily, “from this hour my money goes on Moses Flood!”

It was not strange, this feeling on the part of the great detective, for he, at least, knew what Moses Flood had done, and why he had done it.

“Let there be no disturbance here,” said Flood, now quite calmly. “John, go and answer the bell. And you, Mr. Kendall, come into my private room, and I will pay your winnings.”

Kendall tried to speak, but his voice died in his swelling throat.

The man who had rung the bell was the returning dealer, Tom Bruce.

Flood beckoned him to the table.

“Continue the game, Mr. Bruce,” said he gravely. “Gentlemen, I do not wish the episode of this evening to be noised abroad, and those of you who are my friends will govern yourselves accordingly.”

“Oh, we’ll keep mum about it, Mose!” cried several promptly.

As Flood passed the humpback, who was replacing the 71 bar on the door, he laid his hand on the man’s shoulder and said softly:

“Not a word of this, John, for your life!”

“Trust me, sir!”

Moses Flood knew that he could trust him, and he believed that no other man on earth knew what he had done there that night. He locked the brace deal box in the drawer from which he had taken it, but kept the deck of strippers in his hand when he led Cecil Kendall into his private room.

As the door closed upon the two men, Nathan Godard sauntered nearer to Bruce and said carelessly:

“I’m going out to supper, Tom. I have one or two errands to do, and may be out a bit longer than usual.”

“All right, Nate,” nodded Bruce, who had taken his seat at the table. “Do not hurry back, as the boss said that he was going away.”

“I’ll return in about an hour,” added Godard.

Then he took his hat and departed.

Neither Nick Carter nor Chick observed him.

The eyes of both were fixed upon the closed door of Flood’s private room.



In the private room to which he had led him, Moses Flood paid Kendall his winnings. As he took a portion of the funds from a huge safe in one corner, he said coldly:

“I must give you part of the amount in government bonds, Mr. Kendall.”

“Anything—anything easily convertible,” faltered Kendall, half choked with emotion.

He could hardly realize what had befallen him, that he really had won all that he required to rectify his deficit at the bank, and that he then and there was to receive the money that would save him from flight, a defaulter’s last resort, or the shame of a convict’s cell.

He feared each moment that he would awake, that he would find it all a dream, and behold again the soul-sickening image of his dreadful crime leering at him with mocking eyes.

“The package will be quite bulky, and I will loan you a small portmanteau,” said Flood, placing the satchel mentioned and several bundles of bank-notes and bonds upon the table.


Kendall tottered nearer, then suddenly gave way to sobs and covered his face with his hands.

“Oh, God! God above!” he cried brokenly. “Flood, you do not know, you cannot know, what this means to me!”

Moses Flood drew himself up and laid his hand on the speaker’s shoulder.

“Kendall,” said he, with grave austerity, “you are not rightly tempered to be a gamester. Take the advice of a gamester, however, and for the sake of those who love you, if not for your own, never again face a faro layout or play a card for money.”

“Never, never, so help me God!” cried Kendall, with uplifted hands.

“If you adhere to that vow, I shall not feel to-night that I have suffered any loss,” said Flood, with a strange light upon his white, forceful face.

Then he tossed into the satchel the deck of cards with which he had dealt the game.

“I shall give you those cards also, Kendall,” said he oddly. “They are the ones I have been using. Keep them until I come and demand them of you. Some day you may know why I ask you to do this. Some day I may wish to recall to your mind what I to-night have—— Ah, but it does not matter.”


“I will keep them,” declared Kendall fervently. “God hearing me, I will keep them.”

Flood had already closed and tightly strapped the satchel, which he now hastened to place in Kendall’s hand.

“I pledge my word that the amount is right,” he said, with some feeling. “Now go as quickly as you can, and remember your promise! Go—go—and remember!”

Still profoundly agitated, Kendall hurried from the room, ignoring all observers, forgetful even of his sleeping friend upon the couch, and thus hastened alone from the house and sought the cool air of the early evening.

Nick Carter saw him emerge from the room, and Chick leaned nearer, saying softly:

“Shall I shadow him, Nick?”

The famous detective shook his head.

“No, Chick,” said he quietly. “There is no need of it.”

“Do you think so?”

“I feel assured. The man’s face tells the story. He is, indeed, short at the bank, but he will use this money to make good the deficit and conceal his crime. I am as sure of it as if I saw it done.”

Nick was entirely correct as to Kendall’s intentions, and, recalling Gilsey’s instructions, he saw no occasion to go beyond them. He was thinking, too, of Dora Royal, 75 of the promise he had made her, and of what Flood that night had done, believing it to be for her sake. Now, feeling sure of his man, Nick would not for the world have perverted the design and desires of Moses Flood.

The latter again appeared upon the scene while Nick was speaking, and at the same moment the sound of a heavy fall started all hearers. It was almost immediately followed by a maudlin laugh, and the man who had been so long sleeping on the couch was seen rising unsteadily from the floor beside it.

“Ha, ha! I reckon I fell out of bed,” he cried, in half-drunken tones, as he gained his feet and stared with dazed eyes toward the group of players at the table.

Though nearly twenty-three Harry Royal looked to be little more than a youth. When sober, he was a handsome fellow, yet his features indicated a weak and yielding nature, and he was no sooner loosed from the restrictions of his home life to attend college than he proved an easy victim to the temptations which had brought him to his present condition.

“How are they coming, Kendall?” he continued, swaying unsteadily and failing to observe that his friend had departed. “Are you winning our expenses? Have you——”

Then he caught sight of Flood approaching, and he 76 reeled toward him with extended hand, crying boisterously:

“Hello, Mose, old man! Glad to see you, on my word I am.”

“And I am sorry to see you, Royal, in this condition,” Flood gravely rejoined.

“Faugh! Cut that out, Mose,” cried Royal, flushing slightly and shaking his head to clear it of the cobwebs. “It’s only now and then, old man. We are just back from Beantown, Kendall and I, and winding up a devil’s own racket.”

“So it appears.”

“We painted Boston crimson, Mose, on my word. I say, Kendall, how are the cards winning? I’m in with this play, old chap, win or lose. Partners——”


The words broke involuntarily from Flood, with a look of sudden dismay, but the humpback hastened to cry:

“No, no, Mr. Royal, you’re not! Kendall went broke on your mutual play, I give you my word. You were not in with the last—you were asleep when he——”

“You lie! I am in with him!” Royal angrily interrupted. “Where has he gone? The devil take him, he treats me like a schoolboy. I say I was in with his play. Did he win? Tell me, did he win?”


Before Flood could respond, one of the players cried a bit derisively:

“No, I guess not, Harry! Only a cool ninety thousand!”

The face of Harry Royal grew dark as a thunder-cloud. He at once suspected that Kendall had proven false, and was bent upon cheating him of a part of the winnings, an idea somewhat warranted by the latter’s apparently secret departure. The possibility of thus being wronged seemed to arouse the very worst passions of which the intoxicated young man was capable. With a scream of rage, he darted to the couch and seized his hat.

“Ninety thousand—and I’ve heard him say he meant to jump the country!” he cried wildly. “I’ll have my share of it, Mose. Do you hear me—I was in with his play! He means to do me—curse him; but I know where to find him! I’ll have my half, or I’ll have his life!”

“Peace!” thundered Flood, with terrible sternness. “Do you know where you are and what you are saying?”

“Let go—let go my arm!” frothed the frenzied youth, struggling furiously in the other’s grasp. “You don’t know him as I do. I know where to find him—he has an appointment to-night with my—— Let go, I say! If he is not at the rectory, he means to swindle me. Let go, 78 Mose; or I’ll strike you! I will have what’s coming to me, or I’ll have his life!”

With the infuriated words ringing from his lips he wrenched himself free, and before he could be prevented he had thrown down the bar from across the door and fled like a madman down the hall stairs.

“Wayward fool!” exclaimed Flood, thoroughly disgusted, yet anticipating no serious results from the passionate threats. “He is a crazy ass when in liquor.”

“I should say so.”

“Bruce, I am going out for about an hour. If he returns before I come in, ask him to wait for me. I have a few words of advice for his foolish ears.”

“Very well, sir.”

A strange place is a faro-bank. The excitement had passed, and the game was again in progress. Not a man had moved from his seat at the table.

With features in no way betraying his feelings, Moses Flood put on his coat and hat, took a heavy, ironwood cane from a stand in one corner, and signed for Green to accompany him to the door. On the threshold he paused for a moment, fixing his piercing eyes upon those of the humpback, and said, barely above his breath, yet with indescribable intensity:

“Remember, John! Not one word!”


“Never, sir; so help me God!”

Then Flood was gone, and the door closed with a bang.

Five minutes later Nick Carter, who had not deemed it worth his while to interfere, which step might have suggested his identity, signed for Chick to accompany him, and they left the place together.

“There was nothing more for us there,” remarked Nick, as they headed for home. “If ever a man in a bad corner made a lucky play, Kendall has made one this night.”

“I’m blessed if I can see through it!” said Chick, perplexedly. “What has come over Flood that he should do such a thing as that?”

“The sentiment which quite often brings out the very best part of a man,” replied Nick gravely.




“Wait till we get home, Chick, and I will then explain.”

“Good enough,” laughed Chick. “I reckon I can wait.”

Seated together in the library of Nick’s residence, half-an-hour later, the latter took up the subject where he had dropped it on the street.

“Love, that’s it,” said Nick, lighting a cigar. “And 80 it’s just what I would have expected of Mose Flood. He’s as odd a man as stands in leather. As grand a man, too, barring his one deplorable vice.”

“He has a legion of friends, Nick, there’s no doubt of that,” observed Chick. “You say that he is in love with Doctor Royal’s daughter, eh? Was that what led to his move of to-night?”

“Exactly,” nodded Nick. “There’s a curious side to the affair, however. Flood has never told the girl of his love, and he has no idea that she cares for him. He took the rector’s word for it this afternoon that she loves Kendall and is engaged to marry him.”


“In some way, Chick, he must have learned that Kendall is short in his accounts to the tune of ninety thousand dollars.”

“So he forced Kendall to win that amount, knowing that he would use it to square himself? Was that it?”

“No doubt of it.”

“But why did he not give Kendall the money openly, without compelling him to make a play for it?”

“For several reasons, all characteristic of Moses Flood. First, he aimed to insure that Dora Royal should never learn of Kendall’s crime, or that he had saved him in this way for her sake. He does not want the girl to 81 feel under obligations to him. Possibly he feared that she might object to her lover’s accepting money from a gambler, even to keep him out of jail. Second, he aimed to spare Kendall the shame of knowing that his crime had been discovered, or was at least suspected. So he forced him to win the money, instead of giving it to him openly.”

“By Jove! that was good of him.”

“It was just like him, Chick. He has saved this man for love of that girl, and it cost him ninety thousand dollars to do it, with never a possibility that his magnanimity would be discovered, or that a word of gratitude would ever be given him. Chick, such a man as that is worthy of any girl, whether she’s a clergyman’s daughter or not.”

“And I hope he gets her,” cried Chick bluntly.

“We shall see,” smiled Nick significantly. “I reckon I yet may have a finger in this pie.”

“I now see why you did not wish to arrest Kendall.”

“Surely not, Chick. I am convinced that Kendall will use that money to adjust his affairs at the bank. Feeling sure of that, I determined not to pervert Flood’s lofty design, on which he had plainly set his heart.”

“His cuekeeper must have known what came off?”


“The humpback?”


“That is true,” admitted Nick, “but Flood evidently knows that he can trust him to say nothing about it. Furthermore, Chick, the cuekeeper is probably entirely ignorant of Flood’s motive.”

“No doubt of it.”

“There is one feature of the case,” added Nick, rather more grimly, “concerning which I am very much in the dark.”

“What is that, Nick?”

“How the dickens did Flood learn that Kendall was short at the bank?”

“By Jove! that’s strange.”

“I reckon we have not heard the last of the case, Chick, and that something serious may yet result from it. There is no evading one fact, however. Flood has a heart as big as that of an ox, since he would thus save a man for the sake of a girl he himself loves, instead of jealously knocking his pins from under him. In days to come I’ll not forget this in Moses Flood.”

The very next morning, which was sooner than Nick expected, his prediction concerning the outcome of the case was startlingly verified. He was seated with Chick in his office, about eight o’clock, when a district telegraph 83 boy brought in a message. Nick tore it open and read it, then leaped involuntarily to his feet.

“What is it, Nick?” demanded Chick impulsively.

“The wages of sin is death!” cried Nick, with thrilling accents. “This message is from Dora Royal, asking me to come at once.”

“For what?”

“Cecil Kendall was found murdered in the rectory grounds this morning!”


Recalling the promise given Medora Royal, and now feeling a decided interest in the case itself, Nick Carter at once hastened to Fordham, and approached the rectory just before nine o’clock.

The news of the crime had spread, and at one of the side gates a curious crowd had gathered, restrained from entering the grounds by one of the local police.

Near the house, and at some distance from the street, was a group of men, including several officers and a physician, also the rector himself, all apparently interested in the doctor’s examination of a body lying upon the ground at their feet.


That Doctor Royal was among them, rather than in the house, suited Nick to the letter. Slipping into a disguise, that he might not thus early be identified with the case, Nick hastened to the adjoining cross-street on which the dwelling fronted. There he encountered none to oppose his entrance, and he strode quickly up the long gravel walk and rang the door-bell.

The summons brought Dora Royal to the door, and Nick, observing her shrink with surprise, quickly made himself known.

“I come in response to your telegram, Miss Royal.”

“But you are not Mr.——”

“Oh, yes, I am,” interposed Nick significantly. “I do not wish to be recognized by others, however. I want a word with you alone, that I may add to the instructions I gave you yesterday.”

Now convinced of his identity, Medora Royal hastened to admit him to a reception-room, the door of which Nick quietly closed.

“Our interview must be very brief, Miss Royal, for I wish to have a look at the evidence out yonder before it is seriously disturbed,” said he, declining a chair. “First, however, state anything that you know of the affair.”


“I know but very little, sir, save that it is most dreadful,” said the girl, pale and agitated.

“That is true, Miss Royal, but I wish to get at the superficial facts as quickly as possible.”

“If you will question me, sir, perhaps I more readily can——”

“I will do so,” interposed Nick, appreciating her nervous excitement. “Tell me when and by whom the body was discovered?”

“About eight o’clock, sir, and by a young man who is employed here as a gardener.”

“It is that of Cecil Kendall?”

“Alas, yes.”


“For many hours, surely. He appears to have been killed with a——”

“Wait for my questions, please,” said Nick. “Was Kendall here in the house last evening?”

“He was not.”

“Who was here?”

“Only my father, myself, and two servants,” replied Dora. “We all retired soon after nine o’clock.”

“What of your brother?”

“He has not yet returned from Boston. That is, sir, unless—unless——”


“Unless what, Miss Royal?”

“Unless he arrived in New York yesterday, and remained at his room in the city.”

“Very probably that is what he did,” nodded Nick, both to relieve the girl and conceal his own misgivings. “Where is his room in town, Miss Royal?”

“At the Carleton Chambers. He prefers to keep a room there, rather than come out each night from college.”

“I see,” bowed Nick. “Now tell me, has your father said anything to you about his interview with Moses Flood?”

“Not one word, sir.”

“And you have had no callers here since yesterday afternoon?”

“None, Detective Carter.”

“Kindly do not mention my name, Miss Royal,” smiled Nick. “Even the walls may have ears.”

“I will be more guarded, sir.”

“And if you are still willing to follow my advice, I wish to add to my instructions,” said Nick, now having learned the important facts which she could impart to him.

“I am more than anxious to do so,” Dora answered feelingly. “Your immediate response to my telegram 87 convinces me that you have my welfare at heart, and I will be rigidly governed by your instructions.”

“It will ultimately prove to your advantage,” said Nick earnestly. “I shall leave no stone unturned to bring about that which is dearest to you. This murder, however, if such it is, threatens to create serious complications, and it will very possibly circumstantially incriminate innocent parties.”

“Oh, oh, is it possible?”

“Let come what may, Miss Royal, I want you to trust the case entirely to me, and do exactly what I advise.”

“Indeed, sir, I will.”

“Under no circumstances are you to mention me in connection with the case, nor disclose our relations.”

“I will not.”

“Furthermore, whatever happens, or whoever appears to be involved, you must volunteer no opinion of the case. If you are questioned, however, answer precisely the same as if you had not overheard your father’s interview with Moses Flood, and as if you and I had never met. Will you do this?”

“I certainly will.”

“Then you may safely leave all the rest to me,” declared Nick warmly. “By whom did you send the telegram this morning?”


“By our chambermaid.”

“Does she know to whom it was addressed, or of what it consisted?”

“Neither, sir. I sent it to the telegraph office under seal.”

“Very good,” said Nick approvingly. “Be equally guarded in the future, or till I further advise you. This must be all for the present, Miss Royal, as I wish to make a few investigations outside. I will leave by the front door and pass around the house, that our interview here may not be suspected.”

“But how am I to repay you, or thank you for——”

“By following my instructions to the letter,” Nick gently interposed, as he led the troubled girl into the hall. “Keep them constantly in mind and trust me to be constantly alert to your interests. No more now, Miss Royal. You shall hear from me later.”

The last was said at the open door, and with the final word Nick nodded and smiled encouragingly, then left the veranda and quickly made his way around the house.

The interview had occupied but a very few minutes, and as Nick approached the group of men gathered near Kendall’s body, the physician was just about concluding his examination of the remains.

With a few rapid glances Nick took in the superficial 89 evidence bearing upon the crime. The body lay upon the greensward to the right of a gravel walk leading around the house, and nearly midway between the walk and the library windows. The plot of grass between the walk and the house was about ten feet wide, and Nick promptly deduced one important point.

“There is no door on this side of the house, nor any direct approach to one from either gate,” he quickly reasoned. “Evidently Kendall came around here to peer through the library window before entering the house, and was struck down as he approached, or while quietly withdrawing. For some reason he must have aimed to learn who was within.”

A glance at the gravel walk and the greensward near-by, however, gave Nick no clue. If Kendall’s assailant had left any telltale footprints behind him, both his own and those that might have revealed the movements of his victim had been obliterated by the heavy tread of the several men gathered about the murdered man.

The body evidently lay where it had fallen, with arms outstretched and face upturned, gory and ghastly in the morning sunlight. The skull had been fractured by several blows with a heavy weapon, obviously a bludgeon of some kind, and from the shocking wounds the blood had oozed over the brow and hair of the stricken man, 90 forming a sickening pool in the matted grass on which his head rested.

“Clad just as he was when he left Flood’s gambling-house,” thought Nick. “He must have come directly out here. There’s no sign of the satchel, however, in which he had brought away his winnings. It looks as if the motive was robbery.”

And Nick recalled the frenzied threats of young Harry Royal, but decided it was too early in the game to draw any reliable conclusions.

Nick reverted almost immediately to the physician, who had risen while wiping his soiled hands, and now addressed his several companions. Three of these were officers of the local police, among them Captain Talbot, of the precinct station, and one was a plain-clothes man from the central office, Detective Joe Gerry.

Nick knew all of them very well, and they him, yet for the present he preferred to hide his identity.

“A case of murder, Detective Gerry, that’s what it is,” declared the physician, turning to the central office man. “The question is, By whose hand was the crime committed?”

“How long has he been dead?” demanded Gerry bluntly.

“About twelve hours.”


“That would be since nine o’clock last evening?”

“That hits very near to it,” replied the physician.

“You are sure of this man’s identity, Doctor Royal?”

“Positively,” cried the rector, obviously much agitated. “He has been a frequent visitor here. I cannot comprehend how such a fate could have befallen him.”

“I’ll admit that the motive appears to be obscure,” replied Gerry, staring down at the body. “It cannot have been robbery, for neither his jewelry nor his pocketbook has been taken. No, no, the motive cannot have been robbery.”

“You’ll change your mind, Gerry, when you learn that this man won ninety thousand dollars just before coming out here,” said Nick to himself.

“Are some of your men searching the grounds for evidence, Talbot?” inquired Gerry, turning to the captain of police.

“Yes, several of them,” nodded Captain Talbot.

The detective reverted to Doctor Royal.

“Were you at home last evening?” he demanded.

“I was,” bowed the rector. “Both my daughter and myself.”

“Did you have any callers?”

“None, sir. We were alone all the evening.”


“In what part of the house?”

“In the library, sir, from dinner until after nine o’clock.”

“Where is the library located?”

“These are the windows, sir, right here.”

“Oh, ho!” exclaimed Gerry. “Is that so? It looks as if this man had designed to peer into them, and had been caught in the act, if not done up for it. Possibly we may find a motive for the crime by looking a little deeper. You say that this man Kendall was a friend of your family?”

Nick Carter saw what was coming, yet he made no move to head it off. His immediate design was only to observe the trend of the case, and then shape his own course accordingly.

Doctor Royal grew even more pale upon hearing the remarks of the central office man, and he fell to wringing his hands with a sort of nervous apprehension. He was thinking of his son, who for several days had been absent with Kendall, and had not yet returned.

Yet there lay Cecil Kendall, slain by the hand of an assassin, and the unaccountable absence of Harry Royal still remained to be explained.

The mystery of it all dismayed the worthy clergyman, 93 yet, despite his desperate misgivings, he nerved himself to answer quite firmly:

“Yes, sir, Mr. Kendall has been a friend of my family for several years.”

“Were you expecting a visit from him last evening?” asked Gerry, with a keen eye to the rector’s perturbation.

“I cannot say that I was.”

“Has he called here frequently?”

“Quite so.”

“Come, come, Doctor Royal, what were his precise relations here?” demanded Gerry suspiciously. “You appear averse to letting go of something. If you know of any facts that may shed a ray of light upon this case, let’s have them at once. I’m sure that you personally can have no reason for hiding anything.”

“By no means,” cried Doctor Royal, with extreme nervousness. “I would give the world to know the truth of this dreadful affair.”

“What of Kendall, then, and his relations here?”

“Well—really—as a matter of fact, he was in love with my daughter,” faltered the rector, trembling visibly. “In a word, Detective Gerry, he was about the same as engaged to her.”

“Oh, ho! Then it’s barely possible that jealousy led 94 some party to kill him,” cried Gerry, quickly snapping up the clue. “Has your daughter any other admirer who might be guilty of this?”

“I—I—really I can name no one who——”

“Stop a bit!” cried Captain Talbot abruptly. “Here comes Kelly on the run. By thunder, I believe he has the weapon with which the crime was committed!”

Every eye was quickly turned in the direction indicated.

Along a path leading around the stable and to a gate at the rear of the extensive grounds a policeman was hurriedly approaching, holding above his head what appeared to be a stout stick. As he drew near, however, it was seen to be a heavy cane, highly polished, and with a round silver head.

“What have you there, Kelly?” cried Detective Gerry sharply.

“See for yourself, sir,” replied the officer. “I found it thrust beneath a lot of brushwood under the wall at the rear of the grounds.”

The detective uttered a cry as he seized it.

“Good God! it’s covered with blood,” said he. “And see! here are bits of scalp and hair dried on the side and head of it.”


“His hair!” cried Talbot, pointing to the lifeless man near-by.

“No doubt of it—not a shadow of doubt!” exclaimed Gerry. “It’s the weapon with which the deed was done.”

Even Nick Carter was a little startled, as well as a good deal puzzled.

For Nick had almost instantly recognized the cane. It was the same that Nick had seen Moses Flood take from a rack just before leaving his gambling-house at half-past eight the previous evening.

Over the face of Doctor Leonard Royal there had come an expression not easily described. It was that of sudden and overwhelming relief, mingled with convictions and a bitterness that scarce had bounds. He no longer was restrained by apprehensions concerning his son, and the latter’s unaccountable absence, for he now believed that he read aright the appalling evidence before him. With a cry of bitter condemnation he sprang forward and laid his hand on Detective Gerry’s arm.

“Oh, the knave! the knave!” he exclaimed, in tones that startled all hearers. “I now see it all. I should have known it—I should have known it!”

“Good heavens, Doctor Royal, what are you saying?” demanded Gerry, involuntarily drawing back.


“That cane—it belongs to Moses Flood,” cried the rector, pointing wildly at the gory stick.

“To Moses Flood!”

“I have seen him carry it countless times,” cried the excited clergyman. “You are right—you are right! Jealousy was the motive for this crime. The cane belongs to Moses Flood, and only yesterday——”

“Do you mean Moses Flood, the gambler?” interrupted Gerry, in tones that began to ring with exultant convictions.

“The same—the same!” cried Doctor Royal. “Only yesterday I scornfully refused him the hand of my daughter, and told him she was already engaged to Cecil Kendall. Jealousy must have been the motive. Flood must be the guilty party. Only yesterday I——”

“By heavens, then, Flood is the man we want!” exclaimed Gerry, again interrupting the pale and excited rector.

Nick Carter could see only too plainly the result of the discoveries made there that morning, and he did not wait to hear more.

“Flood, eh?” he said to himself. “Not by a long chalk. Cane or no cane, Moses Flood never killed this man. It’s plainly time for me to get in a bit of lively work, 97 and head off this man Gerry. He’ll now go at the case like a bull at a gate.”

As he turned from the scene, bent upon hastening away, Nick caught sight of a white, frightened face at one of the library windows—the face of the girl from whom he had recently parted, and who plainly had seen and heard all.

Darting around a corner of the house, Nick rapped smartly on one of the side windows. The sound quickly brought Dora Royal to him, and he signed for her to raise the sash.

“Do not be alarmed,” he then cried softly. “Your face will betray you unless you conceal your feelings. Did you hear all that was said out there?”

“Yes, yes, every word,” moaned the girl breathlessly. “Oh, oh, it cannot be possible! He never did it—he could not have done it!”

“Take my word for that, Miss Royal, and suppress your fears,” Nick hurriedly answered. “Let the evidence be what it may, never believe that Flood committed that crime. I have no time for more. Be guarded, constantly guarded, and follow my every instruction to the letter.”

“I surely will, sir. And you?”

“I’m off to queer the move against Moses Flood.”



“That’s what I propose to do, Chick.”

“Go to the bottom of it, Nick?”

“Plumb to the bottom,” declared the famous detective. “I am now in the case in dead earnest, Chick, and I’m going to know who killed that man Kendall or lose a leg in the attempt.”

“I’ll wager you’ll retain both legs,” laughed Chick.

“I gave my word to that Royal girl when I believed there appeared nothing very serious in the way of making good my promise, and now that I find myself confronted with the most serious of all problems, I’m blessed if I’ll throw up the sponge. I’ll ferret out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You hear me!”

Chick laughed again, and he was by no means blind to the grim determination reflected in Nick’s face, nor to the feelings with which his words were imbued.

It was less than an hour since Nick left the scene of the murder committed the previous night, and he had hurried home to rejoin Chick and inform him of all he had seen and heard.

With Nick Carter to think was to act, yet despite his 99 hurried return from Fordham, and the fact that he was now very definitely actuated, Nick was not a little puzzled by the conflicting evidence of the case.

It was this evidence that he was discussing with Chick, which had led to the foregoing digression, while Nick was rapidly putting on the same disguise that he had worn in Flood’s place the previous evening.

“It appears plain enough that Flood went out there last night after leaving his faro-bank,” Nick grimly continued. “You saw him take that cane just as he departed, and I can swear it to be the same that was found this morning.”

“It cannot have gone out there of itself,” remarked Chick.

“But why Flood went out there again, after having been turned down by the rector, and making that big losing to Kendall, is more than I can conjecture.”

“You heard young Royal’s threats in the faro-bank,” said Chick.

“Certainly I heard them.”

“Possibly Flood feared that the drunken scamp meant to execute them, and he may have gone out there to prevent him.”

Nick quickly shook his head.


“Well enough reasoned, Chick,” said he, “but your theory hasn’t feet to stand on.”

“Why not?”

“In the first place,” replied Nick, “Flood attached no serious importance to Royal’s threats, and barely gave them a second thought. His face showed that; also that his mind was intent upon some other matter.”

“I’ll admit that he appeared so.”

“Furthermore,” added Nick, “he had only Royal’s maudlin intimation as to where Kendall might be found, and he would not have banked so heavily on them as to have traveled post-haste to Fordham.”

“Possibly not, Nick.”

“He must have gone directly out there, however, for it was after eight o’clock when he left the faro-bank, and we have the physician’s word for it that the murder was committed about nine o’clock.”

“That’s true.”

“No, no, Chick, some other motive took Flood out to Fordham last night, and only the devil himself could guess just what occurred there.”

“You don’t believe that he killed Kendall?”

“Not by a long chalk!”

“I’d wager all I possess against that.”

“But what about young Royal?”


“He’s an open question.”

“Do you think he did it?”

“It’s barely possible, yet it is too early in the game to think profitably,” replied Nick. “There’s something I want you to do.”

“Name it.”

“Royal keeps a room at the Carleton Chambers. Do you know where they are located?”


“Then into a disguise, in order that we may not appear in the case as yet, and go up there,” continued Nick. “If you can find Royal, question him as to where he went last night after leaving Flood’s place, and see what you can gather from his answers and his bearing.”

“Trust me for that, Nick. But suppose he is away?”

“Then quietly ascertain, if possible, whether he occupied his room there last night, and at precisely what time he came in.”

“Is that all?”

“All for the present, Chick, as far as he is concerned. That central office sleuth, Gerry, will get after him soon enough, as well as after Flood, and I wish at present to keep a bit in the background.”

“Gerry will soon learn all about Kendall’s winning that money.”


“No doubt, Chick, but he’ll not discover that Flood lost it voluntarily. You and I and that cuekeeper are all that know about it, and the humpback will keep his mouth closed. I’ll wager that Flood has insured that.”

“But the evidence against Flood is decidedly incriminating,” declared Chick. “Gerry will probably land him this very morning.”

“I don’t think so,” smiled Nick oddly. “I’m going to get in the way of Mr. Detective Gerry.”

“Oh, ho, that’s your game, is it?”

“That’s the beginning of it,” replied Nick, more gravely. “I’m convinced, despite the evidence against him, that Flood had no hand in this crime. Before I can proceed to an intelligent investigation of it, however, I must learn just where Moses Flood stands, and what attitude he will take when informed of the murder.”

“I see,” nodded Chick.

“He may deny any knowledge of it, or claim that he was not——Ah, but what’s the use of trying to anticipate Flood’s conduct?” Nick bluntly demanded. “A man who would do what he did last evening, Chick, would hesitate at nothing that served his purpose. He’s as difficult to read as—as——”

“As yourself,” supplemented Chick, with a laugh.


“Possibly even more difficult,” smiled Nick, as he completed his disguise. “At all events, Chick, I’m not quite sure that I want Flood arrested, and so I’m going to get in Gerry’s way until I can learn how the land lies.”

“Do you think Flood will inform you?”

“I don’t think that he will, but I believe I can gather something from an interview with him,” explained Nick.

“I see.”

“He’ll not suspect me, in this disguise, of being other than a fellow gamester, and I have already shaped my course with him. Meantime you investigate young Harry Royal, and meet me here at noon.”

“Leave that youngster to me,” nodded Chick, as they prepared to depart, in company. “By the way, Nick, have you communicated with Gilsey, of the Trust Company?”

“I have telephoned him only that Kendall was in Flood’s place last evening,” replied Nick. “I could not well inform him of the murder without disclosing that I had been out there. He’ll get the news of that soon enough, however. As the case now looks,” added the detective, as they were about parting at the street corner, “I think we may have some warm work before we see the end of it.”


“Let it come, Nick. I reckon we can take care of it.”

“We’ll give it a try, at all events. See me again at noon, Chick.”

“Sure thing.”

It happened that morning that Moses Flood arrived at his gambling-house less than ten minutes in advance of Nick Carter. It was an hour, moreover, when there was rarely any business, and Flood found the house deserted by all except the attendant at the street door and the deformed cuekeeper on the floor above. Both were engaged in putting the place in order after the night game.

Flood at once mounted the stairs and entered the chamber previously described. At that hour, however, the room presented a vivid contrast. It was like looking at the bare stage of a theater seen by daylight. There was no game going, no excited players, no glare of electric lights, no clicking of ivory chips, no signs of apprehension, no precautionary measures. For the door of the room stood open, and John Green, the humpback, was engaged in wiping the glassware on the sideboard.

Flood appeared pale and haggard, like one who has passed a sleepless night; yet he was neatly dressed, as was always the case, and carried himself with habitual dignity and composure.


“Good morning, John!” said he, with a sharp glance about the room.

The face of the humpback lighted perceptibly, yet a certain anxious look in his tired eye betrayed his secret misgivings.

“Good morning, Mr. Flood!” he replied, a bit huskily. “You’re down early, sir.”

“Somewhat. Who has been here this morning?”

“Only Nate Godard, sir. He looked in for a minute, then said he had an errand down-town.”

“No one else has called?”

“Not a soul, sir.”

Flood suppressed a sigh of relief; yet, despite the assurance given him, his eyes again swept sharply about the room.

“What time did the game stop last night?” he asked.

“Just about midnight, sir. There weren’t many around after—after——”

“After I made my big losing?” queried the gambler, with a faint smile crossing his pale face.

“Aye, sir; that’s what I had in mind,” replied Green, with grave humility.

“Did young Royal show up again?”

“No, sir.”


“You saw what I did, John?”

“How could I help seeing it, Mr. Flood? I had to mark up the cues when you signed a card taken.”

“Did I do the job well, John?”

“Sure, sir—well’s no name for it!” cried the humpback. “On my word, sir, I was the most surprised man that ever sat shaking in a chair.”

“There was nothing for you to fear.”

“Mebbe ’twasn’t all fear, sir.”

“Be not surprised at anything I may do,” added Flood moodily. “Was any person wise to the play?”

“Never a one, sir,” declared Green, with emphasis. “All hands thought the losing was on the level. Not a man save us knows what you did, Mr. Flood. I’d stake my life on that.”

“For your life, then, John, keep the secret!” cried Flood, laying a heavy hand on his startled hearer’s shoulder. “Give me your word, your oath, man, that you’ll keep it, let come what may!”

“My oath ’tis, sir, then!” cried the humpback, with his hand impressively raised. “So help me God, sir, I’ll keep the secret!”

“Nor reveal it under any circumstances?”

“Never, sir, until you say the word.”


“For reasons of my own, John, I wish——”

“Oh, dash your reasons, sir!” came the impulsive interruption. “Your wish is enough for me. I’ve not forgot ’twas you who took me out of the streets and put me in the way of a decent living. I told you last night you could trust me. And I tell you now, sir, I’ll let go my life if need be to hide what you did last night.”

Flood dropped his hand from the man’s shoulder and took that of the speaker.

“I know that I can trust you, John,” said he slowly. “My only fear was that you might disclose the truth for my sake, should serious circumstances involve me.”

“Not I, sir, if you say not.”

“Understand me, John,” and Flood’s resonant voice grew strangely hard and grim. “I am now playing against a tough and hard game, the hardest a man ever has to face, and one that may bring me between life and death.”

“Good God, sir!”

“Nay, don’t start and grow pale. I know what I’m about and what I am saying. Mark well my words, and remember your vow. Under no circumstances, not even to save my neck from a hangman’s noose, are you by word or sign to betray my secret.”

The face of the humpback was the color of dead ashes, 108 and its expression one never to be forgotten. Yet he again raised his hand and fervently answered:

“Never, sir, God hearing me!”

“If I ever wish the truth disclosed, I will inform you. Till then, let come what may, be silent—always silent!”

“Trust me, sir, my lips are sealed.”

“And if the gratitude of a man of my calling is worth anything,” added Flood, with a strange light sweeping over his hueless face, “if a gambler’s appreciation, a gamester’s thanks——Hush! Not a word! See who rang——”

A single note from the bell on the street door had sounded through the quiet house.

It caused Flood to start as if stung. His countenance changed like a flash. His features became hard as flint, and his eyes, in which were reflected the sad memories evoking his grateful words, took on a light like that cast from a blade of polished steel.

The humpback darted into the hall and peered down the stairs.

The attendant was just opening the street door.

Nick Carter, in the disguise of Joe Badger, stood on the steps.

“Hello, Peters!” he exclaimed familiarly, “is Moses Flood about?”


The goggle eyes of the humpback swept round to meet those of the gamester, standing as rigid as stone in the adjoining room.

“It’s only Joe Badger, sir,” he whispered hoarsely.

Again that fleeting expression of relief swept over Flood’s white face.

“Badger—at this hour!” he muttered darkly. “What does he want?”

“He says he must see you, sir.”


“That was the word, sir.”

“Must! Ha! What matters? Let him come up.”

The humpback called down the stairs:

“All right, Peters! Let him come up!”

And Nick Carter quickly mounted the stairs.


Though not particularly elated over having located Flood so promptly, Nick Carter felt considerable satisfaction in that he had accomplished it before Detective Gerry, who, he expected, might arrive upon the scene at any moment. That Flood’s arrest would immediately 110 follow, unless Nick saw fit to prevent it, the detective had not a doubt.

The settled paleness of Flood’s clean-cut, forceful features when Nick entered the room was the only outward sign of his recent brief excitement. He greeted the disguised detective with a careless nod, saying indifferently:

“Good morning, Badger. What brings you here at this hour? There’s seldom anything doing before noon.”

“I know it, Mose,” replied Nick, with a glance about the room to learn who was there. “I did not come to make a play.”

“For what, then?” asked Flood, smiling curiously. “Merely to make a social call?”

“Not exactly that, either,” returned Nick. “I want a few words with you, Mose.”

“With me, eh? Well, Badger, here I am; so you may out with them.”

“If it’s all the same to you, Mose, I’d prefer to see you alone.”

Flood began to suspect that his caller wished to borrow some money, an experience to which he was by no means a stranger, and a look of less concern rose to his face.

“You may come to my private room, Badger,” said he, 111 leading the way, and closing the door after they had entered. “Sit down if you like. Now, what can I do for you? Are you strapped, or running low?”

It was the same room in which Flood had paid Kendall his ninety thousand dollars, and, incidentally, included the deck of strippers with which he had dealt himself a loser.

Nick glanced about the finely furnished room, then took a chair near the table.

“No, Mose, I am not here to ask a loan of you,” said he, smiling. “I suppose I could have it, however, if I wished one.”

“I think it likely, Joe,” said Flood, sitting carelessly on a corner of the table.

“That’s like you, Mose,” remarked Nick, ready to note any change in the face of his hearer. “Well, I’m not here for that. I call with another object.”

“What object?”

“I have just come down from Fordham. I live out that way, you know.”

Flood started slightly and his dark brows drooped ominously.

“From Fordham?” said he, with eyes searching Nick’s.

“Exactly,” nodded Nick. “You’ve not heard the news, I take it?”


Yet Nick was already convinced that he was right in his suspicions, and that Flood already knew of the murder. To learn what attitude he next would take was Nick’s immediate motive, on which his own course necessarily would depend.

“To what news do you refer, Joe?” Flood coolly inquired.

“It’s about that chap who made a big winning here last night. I was present at the time, you remember.”

“Yes, I remember. But what about him?”

“Dead!” said Nick tersely.

“Dead!” echoed Flood, with well-feigned amazement.

“Murdered,” added Nick.

“Murdered! Impossible!”

“It’s a fact, Mose.”

“When and where?”

Though he now saw that Flood had already resolved upon some fixed line of conduct, Nick was determined to drive him to the wall.

“He was killed about nine o’clock last night, Mose, near the house of Doctor Royal, the Fordham rector.”

“You amaze me! Cecil Kendall dead! Are you sure of this, Badger?”

“Rather,” nodded Nick. “I saw the body myself. He 113 was found near the library windows, stiff as a poker, with his head crushed in with a club.”

“Dreadful! Horrible!”

“So ’tis, Mose, but there’s no doubt about it,” continued Nick, watching him as a cat watches a mouse. “They are dead sure it is a case of murder.”

“Whom do you mean by they?”

“Detective Gerry and the police. They are out there looking for evidence.”

“Gerry, of the central office?”

“The same.”

“God above!” exclaimed Flood, playing his part to perfection. “I can hardly believe this, Badger.”

“You’ll find it’s true, all right,” declared Nick. “The poor devil’s winnings didn’t do him much good, Mose. I reckon robbery was the motive, for the satchel is missing which you loaned him to take away the stuff.”

“How do you know I loaned him the satchel for that purpose?” Flood now demanded, with a harsh ring creeping into his heavy voice.

“Oh, I merely guessed at that, Mose; and it looks likely enough. You heard young Royal’s threats, too. Mebbe he was the chap who did it.”

Flood sprang down with an oath.

“Not on your life, Badger!” he cried vehemently. 114 “Royal’s threats were the ravings of a drunken boy. He cannot have done it. It isn’t in him to have done it. For your life, Badger, if you’re a friend of mine, don’t ever hint again that Harry Royal committed this crime.”

A curious gleam showed for an instant in Nick’s keen eyes, but he gave no expression to the thoughts that occasioned it.

“You’ve got no better friend than I am, Mose, you can gamble on that,” he declared significantly.

“Possibly not.”

“It’s only because I wish to do you a good turn that I am here.”

“Do me a good turn!” echoed Flood, with eyes now glowing suspiciously. “What do you mean by that, Joe Badger?”

“Can’t you guess what I mean, Mose?”

“By no means.”

“You ought to.”

“Well, I can’t,” cried Flood, with rising resentment. “Speak plainly. What do you mean?”

Nick now drew forward in his chair and replied with lowered voice and more impressively.

“I’ll tell you what I mean, Mose,” said he. “I was on the spot when this trick was turned and I heard 115 all that was said. Gerry has found the weapon with which Kendall was killed. There’s no doubt about it!”

“Well, what of it?” demanded Flood, in perplexity too genuine to be doubted. “Suppose they have found it? What’s that to me?”


“Why so?”

“The weapon, Mose, was a heavy ironwood cane, the same which you carried when you left this house at eight o’clock last evening. The murder was committed one hour later.”

Despite the rigid control he was imposing upon himself, which was plainly obvious to Nick’s keen discernment, Flood now started slightly upon hearing the detective’s disclosures. Nick saw at once that he had brought the gamester at least one item of news, and that Flood, whatever he knew of the crime, was ignorant of the means employed.

In an instant, however, though his face grew even more pale, Flood again had his feelings under rigid control.

“Are you sure of what you are saying, Badger?” he slowly demanded, with voice grown strangely hard.

“Dead sure of it, Mose.”

“That Kendall was killed with the cane you describe?”


“The evidence is conclusive. It is an ironwood cane with a large silver head.”

“That’s like mine.”

“It was found hidden under some brushwood near the rear wall of the grounds,” continued Nick. “It was covered with blood; and bits of scalp and hair, plainly those of the murdered man, had cleaved to it.”

Flood heard him without moving from his seat on the edge of the table, and with never a change in his set, white face.

“This is strange, Badger, on my word,” he said firmly.

“There is another bad feature, Mose.”

“Still another, eh? And what is that?”

“The cane was identified by Doctor Royal as belonging to you,” said Nick pointedly.

“That so?”

“He declared that he had seen you carrying it many times, and that gave Gerry the clue for which he was seeking. He said that you must be landed without delay. He may arrive here at any moment to arrest you.”

Still Flood neither moved nor changed.

“Let him come,” said he, with icy indifference.

“You’ll stand for it?”



“You’ll not attempt to escape?”


“Why not?”

“Because I prefer to face the music. Don’t ask me why. That’s my business.”

Nick began to see his way more clearly. Had Flood imagined for a moment that his visitor was Nick Carter, he would have appreciated the difficulty of hiding his true feelings and designs, and quite possibly have proceeded differently. As it was, Nick was steadily getting at the truth; yet he still had much to learn, and he saw that Flood had resolved upon some fixed design which he by no means would voluntarily disclose.

Nick was equally determined to discover of what the design consisted, as well as the motive for it, and he now pressed home the weapon he knew would wound deepest, and possibly evoke a self-betrayal. With a grave shake of his head, he slowly answered:

“True, Mose, it is your business. But I told you just now I was as good a friend as you have, and when Gerry spoke of arresting you I hastened here to head him off and warn you of your danger.”

Flood relaxed a little, as if he appreciated the service mentioned, and gravely answered:

“That was very good of you, Badger, and you meant 118 well. But I am not a man to run when danger threatens. I’ve been up against it too many years.”

“You’ll let them arrest you, eh?”

“I shall make no move to prevent it.”

Nick’s grave voice took on a subtle ring.

“On the contrary, Mose, I think you will.”

“You think I will!” exclaimed Flood, with a dark frown.


“Why do you say that?”

“Because it does not suit me, Mose, that you shall be arrested for Kendall’s murder.”

“Not suit you! Why so?”

“For a very good reason. If robbery was the motive for the crime, I happen to know that you did not commit it.”

“What do you mean?” Flood hoarsely gasped. “How do you know it?”

“Because no man would kill another for money voluntarily lost to him within an hour,” cried Nick sharply. “I was wise to your play last night. I saw you deal a very clever brace game, and yet you made yourself a loser. With a deck of strippers you forced Kendall to win the money for which he afterward was slain—but 119 not by you, Moses Flood! I’ll stake my life upon that, let the evidence be what it may. You——”

“Your life! God above, Badger, if you value that life, listen to me!”

Nick’s rapid verbal thrusts had accomplished just what he had expected.

Yet the change that had come over the gambler was one to have startled and alarmed most men. As he heard the words that told him his secret was known to another, Flood became ghastly white, sat silent for a moment, then suddenly sprang down from the table, gave utterance to the interruption noted, and seized Nick by the throat.

“You are mad—mad!” he fiercely continued, with eyes blazing and his voice choked with rage. “I did nothing of the kind. My loss was on the level. If you ever breathe another word of this, Joe Badger, I’ll throttle your life from your body. I tell you——”

“Let go, Mose, or you’ll have done it here and now!” cried Nick, struggling to his feet and throwing off the impassioned man. “I know what I saw last night——”

“You lie! You lie!”

“And I’m out to learn the truth, Mose, the whole truth——”

“Stop! Hark you!” interrupted Flood, livid with 120 passion. “I say you are wrong—wrong—wrong! If you ever again assert that I dealt a false card last night, so help me Heaven, I will——”


Again the street door-bell rang loudly through the house.

Flood instantly dropped his hand from Nick’s collar, abruptly terminated the threat he was about to utter, then turned like one electrified and sprang to open the door of the outer room.

The humpback, with eyes starting from his head, appeared on the threshold.

“God in Heaven!” he cried hoarsely, with his uncouth face convulsed with alarm. “It’s Detective Gerry, of the central office.”

Nick saw and heard, and his bearded features took on a look of sudden passionate resolution. With a bound he reached the gambler’s side and threw him back toward the table, at the same time crying, with terrible sternness:

“Hark you, Flood! Not a word! You must escape! Your arrest must be prevented! Leave this detective to me!”

Nick Carter’s influence at such a critical moment was irresistible. Moses Flood, scarce knowing why, recoiled 121 from the terrible look on the detective’s face, and Nick instantly strode into the outer room, closing the door behind him.

The humpback was already darting to secure the heavy door leading into the hall, with a view to preventing Gerry’s entrance.

Before this could be accomplished, however, the central office man, who had bounded up the stairs, and saw the swinging door, hurled himself forcibly against it and came nearly headlong into the room.

“Oh, I say, Gerry!” cried Nick coolly, “what’s the meaning of this?”

Gerry glared at him, as he recovered his equilibrium, but failed to recognize him. Whipping out a document from his pocket, he cried sharply:

“It means that I have a warrant here for the arrest of Moses Flood. Where is he?”

“Arrest of Flood, eh?” rejoined Nick, with a derisive laugh. “Why the devil didn’t you come in on horseback to serve it?”

Gerry, who was an impulsive fellow, though a very capable officer, resented the remark with an ugly snarl.

“None of your durned business!” he cried angrily. “I’d have come in an automobile if I’d wanted to.”


“You might have come in a balloon, Gerry, for all I should have cared,” retorted Nick.

“Oh, is that so?”

“Flood’s not here, as you may see for yourself. It’s a bit early for him to show up. Come down at this hour of the night, Gerry, and you’ll find him. There are but few of us owls out in the sunlight.”

“Evidently you’re looking for trouble, mister,” snapped Gerry, with a threatening nod at Nick. “I happen to know that Flood is here, for Peters said so at the street door. He’s not so far away but that——”

“Stop a bit!”

“Not I!” thundered Gerry, drawing a revolver. “If you interfere with me, my man. I’ll let daylight into you.”

And before Nick could prevent him the central office man sprang aside, bounded to the door of Flood’s private room, and violently threw it open.

One glance into the room was sufficient.

Even Nick Carter was startled and momentarily amazed.

For the private room, despite that the windows were thirty feet above the ground, and only one door visible, was found to be vacant.


Moses Flood had vanished as mysteriously as if the walls of the room, or the floor itself, had opened and swallowed him.


As Gerry drew back, amazed at not finding Flood in his private room, Nick caught one swift, significant glance from John Green, the humpback, whose face had lighted like that of nature after a summer shower.

The glance spoke even louder than words, and it told Nick what he already had begun to suspect—that a secret door existed, concealed in one of the walls of the room, by which Flood had easily made his escape.

That he had decided to do so, moreover, suited Nick to the very letter; and, with a cautionary wink at the humpback, he observed derisively:

“You’re down on a dead card, Gerry, that’s plain enough. I told you that Flood was not here, and as you now may see for yourself.”

“But Peters informed me——”

“What Peters told you is of no consequence,” interrupted Nick. “It is half-an-hour since Peters admitted him, and Flood has gone out meantime.”


Much to his own satisfaction, Nick now felt tolerably sure that he spoke the truth, and that Flood had for some reason changed his mind and resolved to evade arrest. With a keen insight that was eminently characteristic of him, moreover, when measuring men’s motives from their conduct, Nick already suspected the occasion of the gambler’s change of mind.

Nick did not defer his departure, therefore, merely to have further words with Gerry. Leaving the latter to take what action he pleased, he bestowed upon the humpback a wink that plainly advised a discreet silence, then coolly marched down the stairs and out of the house.

He had accomplished more than superficially appears, as will soon become obvious, and had paved the way for another curiously artful move.

It was nearly noon when he left the gaming-house, and having removed his disguise at an opportune moment Nick next headed for the Milmore Trust Company, to have a word with President Gilsey.

Just as he was approaching the bank building, however, he saw a flashily clad young lady emerge, none other than Gilsey’s stenographer, then about going to her lunch.

The instant Nick saw her he was struck with an idea, 125 and, as previously remarked of Nick, to think was to act. He quickly intercepted the girl, to whom he said a bit curtly:

“You are Miss Belle Braddon, aren’t you?”

Belle arched her brows, stared at him for a moment, then pursed her red lips, and replied:

“Yes, that’s my name. But, really, I don’t recall you, neither your face nor your name.”

“Oh, yes, you do,” said Nick, with a rather impressive nod. “You just think a bit, and you’ll presently speak it.”

“Dear me, is that so?” queried the girl, in tones of insolence. “Ah, now that I look again, I believe I do. You are Detective Carter, are you not?”


“I saw you in Mr. Gilsey’s office yesterday, did I not?”

“Right again, Miss Braddon. And there’s a question I wish you to answer.”


“Why did you tell Moses Flood that Kendall was short in his accounts?”

Nick asked the question in a way that sent the color from the girl’s cheeks, and her eyes betrayed that he had hit the nail on the head.


Yet Miss Braddon flushed hotly after a moment and curtly said, with a resentful frown:

“I did nothing of the kind.”

“Yes, you did.”

“I did not! Why do you say so?”

“Because I know that Flood learned of it, and you’re the only person, except Mr. Gilsey, who could have told him. Now, why did you tell him?”

Belle Braddon shrugged her shoulders, hesitated for a moment, and then indulged in a low, mocking laugh.

“Your assertion is really too absurd, Detective Carter,” she glibly replied. “To begin with, I did not know that Kendall was short in his accounts; and to end with, I have not seen Moses Flood for a week. You think I’m lying, eh?”


“Oh, I see that you do, so don’t deny it. Come round and call on me some evening, Detective Carter, and we’ll talk it over—or have a game of ping-pong, if you prefer. I mustn’t be seen talking too long with a man on the street. It’s not good form, you know; so I’ll bid you good-by.”

With which Miss Braddon gathered up her skirts, gave Nick a nod and smile of the chip-on-my-shoulder type, then tripped away without a look behind her.


Nick knew that she had lied, but it served his purpose to let her go. Yet he grimly said to himself as he entered the Trust Building:

“Don’t be too sure that it’s not au revoir, young lady, instead of good-by. I now suspect you of cutting in this affair a figure bigger than a cipher.”

Nick found Mr. Gilsey in his private office, dismayed by the news he had received, not only of Cecil Kendall’s murder, but also of the latter’s recent career, plainly indicating that the deficit at the bank was a deplorable probability.

“I now have experts at work on the books, Detective Carter, and we shall soon know the worst,” said he, after their greeting and a brief discussion of the crime discovered that morning.

“I am like a man in a nightmare,” he added. “I can scarcely realize what has occurred, and hardly know where I stand.”

“That’s not to be wondered at,” said Nick. “The situation is serious enough surely, but I shall continue my work on the case and do the best I can with it.”

“You have said that Kendall won a large sum of money last night, of which he was robbed. Do you think there is any possibility of recovering that money?”

“I certainly shall try to do so, Mr. Gilsey.”


“I hope you may succeed.”

“I shall make every effort, sir. There are several questions I wish you to answer, and I must then hasten away upon other work bearing on the case. To begin with, Gilsey, has Kendall been observably friendly with your private stenographer, Miss Braddon?”

Gilsey looked surprised for a moment, then answered:

“Why, yes, I think that he has been. They have frequently lunched in company, and I have heard of them at the theaters together. I cannot, of course, say to what extent their intimacy has gone.”

“It does not matter particularly,” replied Nick. “You stated yesterday that she lives with her uncle.”


“Who is he?”

“He is one of our depositors. His name is Godard—Nathan Godard.”

“Oh, ho! Flood’s lookout at the faro-bank!” Nick exclaimed to himself. “By Jove! this affair is shaping itself up in a new light. I begin to scent a rat.”

With no betrayal of his momentary surprise, however, Nick presently said aloud:

“How large a deposit does Godard carry here?”

“Several thousand dollars at times.”


“Flood’s money,” thought Nick promptly. “Deposited in Godard’s name.”

“It is comparatively small now, however, amounting to only a few hundred dollars,” added Gilsey. “Surely, Carter, you do not suspect my stenographer or her uncle of having any part in these crimes?”

Nick did not tell him what he suspected. Instead, he said gravely, as he took his hat to depart:

“I am not prepared to make any statement, Mr. Gilsey. I have, however, a bit of advice to give you, which I wish you to promptly follow.”

“And what is your advice?”

“Get rid of your stenographer with the least possible delay, Mr. Gilsey.”

“Good heavens!”

“When she returns from lunch, sir, discharge her immediately, and without a recommendation,” added Nick. “If she asks you why you do so, inform her that Nick Carter advises it! Nay, even more than that, tell her that I command it.”


“There are no buts, Gilsey,” protested Nick emphatically. “Either do this, and do it this very day, or up go my hands and I drop the whole case. I do not give such 130 instructions as these without an object. When the time comes, Gilsey, you shall know why I insist upon this.”

Gilsey did not fancy the expression on Nick’s face, and he wisely pulled in his horns.

“Why, certainly, Carter, if you put it in that way,” said he. “I will discharge Miss Braddon the moment she returns.”

“Very good.”

“But I fail to see——”

“You will see at the proper time, Gilsey, take my word for that,” interrupted Nick. “Now, there is one more thing.”


“Write Nathan Godard at once, and instruct him to withdraw his deposit. Give him no reason, mind you, but insist upon his closing his account here.”

“Well, well, this is a curious proceeding——”

“He’ll not think so, Gilsey,” Nick again interrupted significantly. “He’ll comply without an objection, take my word for that. Look to it, Gilsey, and leave all the rest to me. I’ll turn a trick for you of some importance, old chap, before this case ends. But no more on that subject just now. I must be off at once.”

Leaving the banker to stare and wonder, Nick hastened from the building and headed for home.


“Nathan Godard, eh?” he grimly soliloquized, as he walked briskly away. “Uncle to Belle Braddon, eh? And she has been hand and glove with Kendall, eh?

“Why, it’s as simple as two times two. The girl is queer from her feet up, a clever crook, secretly a capper for the game at Moses Flood’s. As likely as not, Mose does not know of it, but I’d go my pile that Godard has been using the girl for a decoy.

“It’s a hundred to one that she started Kendall on the down grade and lured him into Godard’s clutches. When a girl of her stamp works at a respectable vocation, it is invariably with an evil design. From the day she sought employment in that bank, the jade had Kendall marked for her secret prey; and Godard opened an account there only to give things a better look to the poor devil.

“Well, well, he has danced his dance and has now paid the price. His blood is on some man’s hands, and I must learn whose. Luckily, I now know some hands that are still clean, despite the mass of evidence to the contrary. Unless I am greatly mistaken, I shall give that central office sleuth, Gerry, a queer feeling before this case goes upon record.”

Thus musing, Nick hastened home, where he found 132 Chick just returned from the Carleton Chambers and a call upon young Harry Royal.

“Well, what did he have to say for himself?” asked Nick, the moment he entered.

“He spoke fairly enough,” replied Chick, laying aside his cigar. “He says he did not go to Fordham last evening, but went directly from the faro-bank to his room in the Carleton Chambers.”

“He’s a liar!” exclaimed Nick, frowning.

“Ah, you’ve struck a clue, eh?”

“A thread, Chick—merely a thread. Yet I’ll wager I know to what it leads. I’ll not delay to explain, for I want a crack at that young man myself. Did you leave him at his lodgings?”

“Yes, less than half-an-hour ago,” nodded Chick. “I think you’ll find him there, for he appeared badly knocked out, and said he was as sick as a dog.”

“The result of a week’s debauch,” growled Nick censoriously. “It serves him right. Did you inform him of Kendall’s murder?”

“He had already heard of it, Nick, and that Flood is suspected of the crime.”

“H’m! So the news has spread, eh? Well, I’ll soon settle that chap’s breakfast. I want a bout with him 133 before others can get in a blow. Just wait a bit, Chick; I want your opinion of a disguise.”

Nick hurried from the room and Chick resumed his cigar. At the end of ten minutes the former returned, yet one would never have known him.

His figure was slightly padded, his brows darkened, his lower features heavily bearded, and he was tastefully clad in a suit of black, with a generous display of immaculate shirt-front and a piercing solitaire stud.

Barring the heavy beard, Nick at that moment was a counterfeit presentment of—Moses Flood.


To strike while the iron is hot, to seize upon every clue while it was fresh, to be alert for the least sign, the slightest word, the fleetest glance, that might even remotely suggest the key to a mystery, and then to quickly follow every thread, however finely spun, and discover whither it led—all this was characteristic of Nick Carter, and to it he owed much of his success.

Few detectives, however, though of the shrewdest, would have discerned the spider-web clues which Nick 134 had that morning detected, or have been able to turn them to the best advantage.

It required a man of Nick Carter’s superior art to execute the delicate and superlatively crafty move that took him to the Carleton Chambers.

The room occupied by Harry Royal was on the third floor front, and the occupant was alone when Nick, disguised as described, rapped sharply on the door.

For fully a minute there was no response from within.

“Fear!” said Nick to himself. “The terror born of conscious guilt is upon him. He dreads every sound, fears every visitor, yet dares not leave his chamber. Solitude and secret dread are preferable to the voice and eyes of an accuser.”

Nick rapped again, louder.

Then a step within echoed the sound, and the door was finally opened.

Harry Royal, sober enough now, and as white and haggard as if from a long illness, appeared on the threshold, his boyish figure clad in a long, loose house robe.

Nick fell as cleverly as an actor into the part he designed to play.

“Hush!” he instantly whispered, with startling intensity. 135 “I see that you’re alone! Not a word till I am under cover! Let me come in.”

“Who the devil——”

“First let me come in,” persisted Nick, fairly forcing his way into the room. “I may be seen here, recognized, arrested on the spot. It’s for your sake I am here, Harry Royal, as well as my own. Now close the door and lock it. I am taking long chances for these few words with you.”

The terrible fear of arrest expressed and displayed by Nick, even more than his feigned voice of the gamester and the latter’s almost habitual attire, suddenly suggested to Royal the possible identity of his disguised visitor.

“Good heavens!” he exclaimed under his breath. “Is it you, Mose Flood?”

“You’d not ask that question were I to doff this disguise,” replied Nick, with bitter asperity. “Have you locked the door? Don’t open it, then, for man or devil, without first giving me time to hide. I am wanted for murder! Do you hear? I am wanted for murder!”

With a mighty effort Royal had pulled himself together, yet his hueless cheeks and dilated eyes, burning as if with fever, betrayed his consternation and dismay. He tottered to a chair near the table and sank into it as if his limbs refused longer to support him.


“Good God, Mose, what brings you here?” he hoarsely demanded.

“I’ll soon tell you, have no doubt of that,” rejoined Nick, with threatening significance.

While he spoke he drew a chair to the opposite side of the table, so placing it that the light from the window should not fall upon his face and possibly reveal his deception.

Then he sat down, fixed his frowning eyes upon the face of the cringing young man opposite, and said sternly, still cleverly imitating Flood’s resonant voice:

“Well, what have you done with it?”

Royal caught his breath, gripped hard at the arms of his chair for a moment, then answered, in tones of intense amazement:

“Done with what, Mose?”

“The money.”

“What money?”

“A fine question!” sneered Nick, with a terrible display of suppressed passion. “What money, indeed! The money of which you robbed Cecil Kendall, after beating out his brains under the windows of your own home.”

Royal was as white as a corpse, yet by a mighty effort of will he governed his agitation, and found voice with which to reply.


“You are mad, Mose—stark mad!” he cried hoarsely. “I did nothing of the kind.”

“You lie!” hissed Nick ferociously. “I saw you out there. I saw you do it—or just after you had done it. Don’t lie to me, Royal. You may blind others with a lie, perhaps, but you can’t blind me. I say I saw you do it, or at least saw you just after you did it.”

A look of utter despair had settled on Royal’s bloodless face, and he was trembling from head to foot. Yet in his staring eyes there was a look of misery and mute appeal that words could not describe.

“On my word you are wrong, Mose, utterly wrong!” he cried piteously. “I did not do it. I have not got the money.”

“You have! I say I saw you!”

“You did not see me do it. You did not see me kill him, for I did not do it.”

“I saw you out there,” reiterated Nick, with augmented vehemence. “If you deny the truth to me, that I saw you out there last night, I’ll throttle you where you sit.”

Royal breathed hard and heavy, as if he already felt a hand at his throat. His staring eyes appeared held by Nick’s intense gaze, and the latter’s stern and threatening face awed and terrified him. For thirty seconds he hesitated, 138 then faltered brokenly, like a man whose abject fear drove him to admit the truth.

“Well—God help me, Mose, what shall I do? I—I confess that I was out there, Mose; but, on my oath, I did not kill Kendall. I swear to Heaven, Mose, I did not.”

Nick felt a thrill of satisfaction. He had scored one important point and verified one of his suspicions—that Royal had gone to Fordham after leaving the faro-bank, despite having denied it to Chick.

Nick now let up a little on his terror-filled victim. Yet, without betraying his secret satisfaction, he sternly replied:

“You say you did not kill him, but I have only your word for it.”

“My oath, Mose!”

“Silence! Silence, and hear me!”

“I am listening, Mose. For God’s sake, don’t be so harsh. I have trouble enough, Heaven knows. I am a wreck of myself and know not where to turn. I am listening, Mose.”

Nick rather pitied the misguided fellow, yet his pity did not deter him from playing his shrewd game to a finish. He leaned nearer over the table, saying with unabated severity:

“Hark you, then! You’ve not forgotten your threats 139 made in my place last night. I heard them, and knew of what a drunken fool is capable. So I hastened out to Fordham to head you off from any crime. God forgive me, I arrived too late. I arrived only to see you——”

“You did not see me do it, Mose, so help me Heaven!” Royal hoarsely interrupted.

“I saw enough,” cried Nick, with terrible significance. “Miserable young man that you are, you have left me but one course. Don’t you see what I am doing? Don’t you see where I stand?”

“Where you stand?” echoed Royal, white and staring.

“Have you no brains?” continued Nick, with augmented feeling. “You know that I revere your father, that I love your sister. Don’t you see, misguided boy, that, for their sake, to spare them the awful shame and sorrow of beholding you a criminal, I have taken your guilt on my own shoulders? Don’t you see it, blind man, that for the sake of their peace and happiness, not for yours, I am inviting suspicion and taking even the hazard of the electric chair?”

Nick Carter, incomparably shrewd in his discernment and deductions, was indeed impersonating Moses Flood to the very letter. That the motives just expressed were the real motives actuating Moses Flood in his recent conduct, Nick had not a doubt.


For a moment Royal stared at him like one who could not speak. Then the meaning of what he had heard, and the overwhelming self-sacrifice so vividly pictured, seemed to dawn upon him with full force. It did even more, just as Nick had expected. It brought to the lips of the unhappy young man the words of gratitude and the much more important disclosure of the whole truth, which Nick Carter from the first had but aimed to evoke.

With countenance changing, with eyes lighting perceptibly, Royal presently said, more calmly:

“Can I believe my ears? Do you mean, Moses Flood, that you had no hand in that crime, and that your present conduct is inspired by the sentiments you have expressed?”

“I never speak idly, boy,” cried Nick impressively.

“Then, God hearing me, my father and sister owe you a debt of gratitude that words cannot repay,” declared Royal fervently. “I will not speak of my own feelings, save to repeat that you are wrong, absolutely wrong; for I am ignorant as you concerning who killed Cecil Kendall.”

Nick believed him, yet he grimly shook his head.

“You still doubt me,” cried Royal quickly, now eager to explain and set himself right. “Wait a moment, Mose. I don’t deny that you have grounds for suspicion, after 141 the threats I made and what you may have seen at the rectory. But let me explain.”

“I am listening.”

“My threats were but foolish ravings, Mose, on my word, I had no intention of executing them, but I determined to have what I thought was my part of Kendall’s winnings.”

“Well, what did you do about it?”

“After leaving your place, Mose, I did go to Fordham,” said Royal, with nervous haste. “I knew that Kendall had an appointment with my sister, and I expected to find him at the rectory. The journey out there in the fresh night air, however, served to cool my blood and bring me to my senses. On entering the rectory grounds I realized that I was in no condition to meet my father, from whom I have concealed the wild and foolish habits into which I have lately fallen. As true as Heaven, Mose, I am done with them from this hour.”

“What did you do out there?” demanded Nick, with feigned incredulity. “Come to that.”

“Instead of entering the house,” Royal hastened to reply, with increased earnestness, “I went to look through the library windows, to see if Kendall was in the house.”

“And then?”


“Then,” echoed Royal, with a gasp and shudder, “then I stumbled on Kendall’s dead body, not ten feet away from the library window. My God, Mose, you cannot imagine my horror and my dreadful alarm. The desperate threats I had made in your place suddenly recurred to me. I saw myself under arrest for the crime. I was like a man in a hideous nightmare, and I did only what men do in such a frenzy of terror and dismay.”

“What was that?”

“I fled like a madman from the spot and returned to the city. Avoiding observation, Mose, and stealing into this house by one of the side doors, I came here to my room. I have not since been out of it. I have not dared to go out. I have been waiting here, in abject fear and trembling, for the worst that may come. I know I am a coward Mose—a cur and a coward; but, so help me God, I have told you the whole truth!”

“I believe you, Royal,” said Nick. “But you have overlooked one very important fact.”

Royal started at the change of tone, and again grew deathly pale.

“What fact, Mose?” he faintly gasped.

“You have confessed yourself, not to Moses Flood, but to Nick Carter, the detective.”


And Nick grimly removed his heavy beard while he spoke, and rose abruptly to his feet.

For the bare fraction of a second Harry Royal hung fire under his sudden stress of alarm and excitement. He sat like a man momentarily dazed, with his hueless features drawn and twitching convulsively, and his wild eyes half starting from his head.

Then with a half-smothered scream of dismay he ripped open the table drawer at which he sat and snatched out a revolver.

Before Nick fairly realized it, so rapid and quick was the move, he found himself with the weapon leveled pointblank at his head.


“You throw up your hands, Carter, and listen to me!”

This was the command that came from Harry Royal as he leveled his revolver at the detective’s head.

Nick promptly obeyed.

The shrewd detective, however, was laughing in his sleeve. He had learned from long experience that there is little to be feared from a man who pulls a gun and does 144 not instantly fire. In nine cases out of ten the act is only a bluff.

“I’ll not be arrested, Carter, I’ve made up my mind to that,” Royal hoarsely cried. “Death is preferable to the disgrace and horror of a prison cell. I don’t intend to harm you, but I swear I’ll shoot myself if you attempt to arrest me.”

Nick was smiling now.

“You evidently take me for a foe, Royal,” said he genially. “Instead, my boy, I am as good a friend as you have in the world. Put up that toy, Royal, and prepare to go with me.”


“Oh, no, not to the Tombs,” interrupted Nick heartily. “I know that you are innocent of any crime, and I am here only to serve you to the best advantage, as well as others who are dear to you. I want you to go to my residence with me, and for the present remain concealed there.”

“For what reason?” demanded Royal, struck with surprise and gradually dropping his weapon.

“Oh, I cannot delay to explain,” laughed Nick, in friendly fashion. “I’ll do so later, however. What I most fear, just now, Royal, is that Detective Gerry, of the central office, may show up here at any moment. 145 Take my word for it, my boy, he’ll land you in the Tombs in short order, and that’s what I wish to prevent.”

“Do you mean this, Carter, that you are really my friend?”

“Try me and see,” laughed Nick. “They who know me well will tell you that I never lie like this.”

Royal sprang to his feet and held out his hand.

“I’ll take your word for it,” he impulsively cried, with his boyish countenance fairly transfigured.

“Good for you,” nodded Nick, shaking him warmly by the hand. “You’ll never regret it.”

“I will go with you when and where you please.”

“Good again.”

“Yet I’m infernally mystified——”

“Oh, I’ll explain all a little later, my boy.”

“Then we’ll dust from here at once, sir, for Gerry——”

“Stop a bit,” said Nick. “Not too fast. I wish it to appear that you have fled, as you very likely would have done if you were guilty of Kendall’s murder. No, no, don’t stop to question me. I’ll make it clear enough to you by and by.”

“Very well, sir,” cried Royal, now glad enough to comply. “You just tell me what to do, Detective Carter, and I’ll do it.”

“First put things in shape here, as if you had hurriedly 146 departed,” said Nick. “It will be very easy for Gerry and the police to assume that you had some hand in the crime, and that you have now jumped the country. I’ll loan you this disguise, that you may not be recognized as we go out, and then we’ll make a bee-line for my residence. Once there, my boy, we may discuss the situation without fear of intruders. Come, come, look lively. The sooner we are away, lad, the better.”

Not much time was required for preparing the indications of hurried flight which Nick wished the room to present, and at the end of a quarter of an hour the two men left the Carleton Chambers building, Royal in the disguise with which Nick had provided him, and together they at once proceeded to the detective’s residence.

Upon entering his office with Royal, Nick met with a slight surprise, not entirely unexpected, yet not anticipated quite so soon.

With a significant wink, Chick received him with the remark:

“There’s a man in the library, Nick, waiting to see you.”

Nick took the cue given him, saying inquiringly:




With a smile of genuine satisfaction, Nick turned to Royal and said:

“Take off that disguise, my boy, and conceal yourself back of yonder door.”

“For what, sir?” asked Royal, perplexed and surprised.

“I expect something to be said here that I wish you to overhear.”

“Very well, then.”

“Not a word, mind you, nor a move of any kind, until I give you permission.”

“Trust me, sir, I’ll be silent.”

“Conceal yourself at once, then,” said Nick. “Now, Chick, bring in the caller.”

Chick departed to the library, returning at the end of a minute.

He was accompanied by—Moses Flood.

Nick had discarded his black coat, having put on an office jacket, and he was found seated at his desk.

“Ah, Moses, how are you?” said he, looking up with an innocent smile when the noted gambler entered.

Flood was as carefully dressed as usual, and appeared remarkably dignified and composed. Yet his face was very pale and his mouth noticeably firm.

“Fairly well, Nick,” he gravely replied, accepting the 148 chair to which Nick graciously waved him. “I am glad you have returned. I have been waiting to see you.”

“Waiting long, Mose?”

“About ten minutes. No, don’t go, Chick. My business is not private. I prefer, in fact, that you also should hear what I have to say.”

“All right, Mose,” laughed Chick, taking a chair. “Just as you wish.”

“What can I do for you, Flood?” inquired Nick.

The gambler cleared his throat before he replied, then said, with grave feeling:

“To begin with, Nick, despite that our vocations in life have been decidedly opposed, and mine not one to be proud of, we have never had any conflict that I can recall, and I feel rather justified in saying that we are fairly good friends.”

“Quite so, I’m sure,” said Nick simply.

“Well, I wish to state, Nick, that I have played my last card. Whatever the morrow has in store for me, whether good or ill, fortune or misfortune, I never again will gamble in any way as long as I live. I am done with it forever.”

Nick promptly extended his hand and took that of the speaker, giving it a grip that made Flood wince.

“I’m a thousand times more than glad to hear you say 149 this, Mose,” he cried; “and I know that your word, when you give it thus, is as good as any government bond. I’m rejoiced to be the first to take your hand upon it; and, as far as friendship goes, Mose, you have no better friend in the world than Nick Carter.”

Flood’s outward composure, which was absolutely marvelous at times, remained as marked as when he sat dealing cards which made him nearly a hundred thousand dollars loser, for the sake of a girl’s happiness whose hand had been denied him, and to whose love he believed he had no earthly hope.

“I believe you, Nick,” said he gravely. “And I thank you.”

“Such a man as you, Mose, can make his mark in any path in life, and a brilliant mark, too,” added Nick. “I see a grand future for you now, and I say heartily, God speed it.”

Flood shrugged his broad shoulders and smiled faintly.

“Don’t be too sure of the future, Nick,” said he. “At all events, however, free me from one thought.”


“That I am led to this renunciation of my business by any fear or thought of the future,” said Flood, with profound feeling. “Now, Nick, having declared my better 150 resolutions, I will come to the chief point and tell you why I am here.”

“I am all attention.”

“I presume you have heard the news, Nick?”

“You refer to that murder out in Fordham?”


“Yes, Mose, I have heard of it.”

“Well, Nick, I have come here to give myself into custody,” said Flood, with unaltered quietude. “You being a good friend, and a man I have always admired, I preferred to have you take me in rather than one of those infernally meddlesome sleuths of the central office. Nick, I yield myself your prisoner.”

To say that Chick Carter was startled and surprised is putting it tamely.

Nick, however, was not in the least surprised. He had, with extraordinary shrewdness, and for reasons presently to appear, expected nothing less.

“My prisoner, eh?” said he, smiling, with a curious twinkle in his eye. “For what, Mose?”

“For the murder of Cecil Kendall,” said Flood quietly. “I confess to having committed the crime, Nick, and you may run me in as soon as you please. The sooner the better.”

Nick sat back in his chair, elevated his heels to the 151 edge of his desk, then said complacently, still oddly smiling:

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Flood, but I really cannot accept your magnanimous offer.”

“Not accept it!”

“No, Mose.”

“Why not?”

“Because, Mose,” laughed Nick, “my reputation as a detective is involved. When I run a man in for committing a crime I always make it a point to run in—the right man!”

Flood half started from his chair, then controlled himself with a violent mental effort.

“What do you mean by that, Nick?” he demanded, frowning darkly.

“Just what I say, Mose.”

“You think I am not the right man?”

“I know you are not.”

“But my confession——”

“Your confession has no weight with me, Mose,” interrupted Nick decidedly.

“No weight! Why not?”

“Because you are making it to shield another.”


“Harry Royal.”


“Why do you say this?”

“Because you are in love with his sister, Mose, and you went to Fordham last evening to see her,” cried Nick. “Instead, you saw Harry Royal near Kendall’s dead body, and you now believe that he committed the murder. So you are taking his supposed crime upon your own shoulders, for the sake of Medora Royal and her father, with even greater sacrifice than when you purposely dealt cards which made you a loser to the amount of ninety thousand dollars, to set Kendall on his feet, merely because you thought Dora Royal loved him.”

Before this was half uttered Moses Flood was upon his feet, as white as the collar at his pulsing throat and with eyes burning like living fire.

“Are you man or devil, Nick Carter, that you know these things?” he cried, with lips convulsively twitching.

Nick laughed aloud.

“Man, Mose,” he replied; “and I’m sometimes known by the name of—Badger.”

Flood drew back with a start.

“Badger—you’re not Joe Badger!”


“Whom I saw this morning?”

“None other.”

“Who was at my place last night?”



“Oh, my God, I see it all now!”

“Steady, Mose!” cried Nick. “Not too fast. Not quite all. You fail to see what you yourself have once declared—that it was not in young Royal to have killed his friend.”

Flood caught his breath as he comprehended the significance of the last remark, and he sprang toward Nick like a man electrified.

“You don’t mean—you don’t mean, Nick, that he is guiltless?” he cried, as if in a frenzy of suspense.


“Can you prove it? Can you prove it? I’ll give you my fortune, Nick, if you can prove that.”

“We shall see.”


“Come forth there, from behind the door,” shouted Nick.

And Harry Royal, deeply moved by what he had heard, with tears in his eyes and sobs shaking him, strode out from his concealment.

Flood reeled a little, staring, gasping for breath, then raised his hands and pointed to the young man he had so unselfishly served.


“But I saw him—I saw him above the body!” he cried wildly.

“I discovered it only by chance, Mose, on my word.”

“But the satchel—you had in your hand the satchel with the money——”

“No, no, on my life, no!” screamed Royal. “It was my own, the satchel I had brought from Boston. I had it when I left your house. I know no more than you of the killing of Cecil Kendall.”

Flood threw back his head with a cry of relief too great for words, and Nick Carter laughed deeply and sprang up to grasp him by the hand.

“You are one man in ten million, Mose, who would thus lay down his life for the love of another,” he cried warmly. “Calm yourself, old chap. I told you I was a friend on whom you could rely.”

Flood gazed at him with glistening eyes.

“Before Heaven, Nick, I owe you a debt I can never repay,” said he, with much emotion.

“Pshaw,” laughed Nick heartily. “As you men say who writhe under the tiger’s claws, as you lately have been writhing, Mose, I have merely called the turn for you. Run you in, eh? No, no, my man, not I. When I make a move of that kind I want the right man. To get the bracelets on him—that’s the work that still lies 155 before me. It may prove to be the most difficult and dangerous of all. The relations of you two men—humph! the adjustment of them was easy.”

Even thus indifferently could the great detective regard the clever work by which he had verified many of his suspicions through bringing these two men together.

The explanations that presently followed served to greatly clear the situation, despite that they offered no clue to Kendall’s assassin.

Harry Royal’s story, as previously told to Nick, was entirely true.

As regarded Flood, it appeared that he had driven to Fordham in a buggy, in the body of which he had placed his cane. Wishing to secretly have a last interview with Dora Royal, he had hitched his team at the rear gate, then crossed the rectory grounds to try to see her. As he approached the house, however, he saw Royal by the light from the library windows, crouching above the body of Kendall, who must have been slain but a brief time before.

Before Flood could accost him, Royal leaped up and fled at the top of his speed. After the threats the latter had made, Flood felt sure he had committed the murder. Overwhelmed by the discovery, he had at once driven 156 back to town and put up his team, entirely forgetting the cane which he had when starting out.

During the night he resolved upon the magnanimous course he would adopt, just as Nick had suspected. Next morning, however, when confronted by Badger, he discovered that the latter knew far too much and must be silenced. Hence the interruption of Gerry during their interview led Flood to escape by a secret door, with the intention of afterward seeking Badger, to buy his silence. Not knowing where to find him, however, Flood finally decided to clinch matters by giving himself up to Nick Carter and flatly asserting that he had committed the crime.

While simple enough in a way, Nick’s deductions from the conflicting circumstances were exceedingly clever. The passionate indignation of Flood, when Nick intimated that Royal might be the guilty party, at once convinced the detective that that was Flood’s own opinion. Nick instantly decided, therefore, that Flood must have been at Fordham that night, and very likely had seen Royal in some incriminating situation.

Believing that Royal would lie about the matter if questioned by a detective, Nick decided that he could learn the exact truth by personating Flood for that purpose. Hence the curious and effective ruse he had adopted.


Such, in brief, were the explanations which greatly cleared matters, and the gratitude of Royal for the heroic part assumed by Moses Flood may be easily imagined.

Added to this, moreover, when Nick quietly disclosed to Flood the true sentiments of Medora Royal, and the misleading statement made by her father, along with the probability that the past would be forgiven and Flood’s suit favorably considered, the situation, at least in so far as Flood was concerned, became changed indeed.

“But,” Nick emphatically declared a little later, “there is one fact not to be ignored. The murderer of Kendall still is at large, and he must be found.”

“I should say so,” cried Chick. “By Jove! I don’t see that we are any nearer that than at the outset.”

“Possibly not,” admitted Nick, smiling oddly. “But I have an idea that we shall finally land him.”

“Have you any suspicion, Carter, or formed any plans?” inquired Flood, with countenance evincing the happiness Nick had brought him.

Nick looked a bit grim and threatening when he replied.

“Suspicions, no,” said he. “Plans, yes.”

“Namely?” inquired Chick.

“This work is for you and me alone, Chick,” said Nick 158 decidedly. “For the present, both Flood and Harry Royal must remain concealed here.”

“What’s that for?”

“I wish to have it appear that they have fled, as if both of them were parties to the murder. This will serve us in two ways.”

“How so?”

“First, it will set Gerry and the police on a wild-goose chase, and leave the way open to our work and investigations.”

“That’s true, Nick,” nodded Chick. “A good scheme, too.”

“Second,” added Nick, “it will tend to relieve the real criminal of immediate apprehensions, and convince him that he is not suspected. That will make his detection all the easier for us.”

“No doubt of it, Nick.”

“Now draw up your chairs, all of you, and I will outline my plans. The most important work, and undoubtedly the most hazardous, still remains to be done.”



Nearly a month passed before the scheme devised by Nick Carter, by which to run down Cecil Kendall’s murderer, was productive of any startling results.

Yet the month was not without incidents worthy of note.

The chief mystery was the disappearance of Moses Flood and Harry Royal. The wiseacres of the central office promptly declared them the murderers, also that they had fled to escape arrest, but neither detectives nor police were able to locate them.

Nick had, however, quietly relieved the minds of Royal’s father and sister, confiding to them his secret, and insuring their silence and discretion.

Flood’s gambling-house, when his prolonged absence seemed probable, was at once taken possession of by his former lookout, Nathan Godard, by whom it was run as usual for a fortnight.

During that time Nick quietly learned several facts. He discovered that Godard had long occupied the adjoining house, where he dwelt with his niece, Belle Braddon, and a housekeeper. He learned, moreover, that Godard 160 was a greedy and unprincipled fellow, a ruffian when in liquor, and a man generally disliked and distrusted.

Added to this Nick learned one very pertinent fact—that Godard had left the faro-bank immediately after Kendall had made his big winnings, and that he did not return for more than an hour.

This was a very important point, for Nick had reasoned that the crime must have been committed by some person who knew that Kendall had won the money. As the crime was committed within an hour afterward, moreover, it obviously appeared to be the work of some person who had seen the money won.

Nick put two and two together, and decided that Nate Godard was the man he wanted. To fix the murder upon him, however, was not an easy task.

Keeping his suspicions and movements well concealed, however, Nick went at it by beginning secretly to persecute Godard, worrying him as a cat worries a mouse.

At the end of two weeks he had the gambling-house raided by the police, the furniture seized and removed, and the house closed up.

Five days later he learned that Godard was secretly dealing a faro-game in his own house, to which only a few of his intimate and trusty friends were admitted.

Nick gave the police a tip, and the place was successfully 161 raided the next night, and all the paraphernalia seized and confiscated.

Godard’s feelings over these several episodes, as well as those of his niece, Belle Braddon, appeared in their talk at breakfast the following morning.

“I’m cursed if I can understand it,” snarled Godard, across the table. “Twice in two weeks I have been raided, involving the loss of several hundreds of dollars. Worse even than that, the devil take it, my game has been going behind at an alarming rate. Bad luck of the worst kind appears to have struck me.”

Godard’s face was flushed, grim, and ugly, and his voice by no means clear. That he had been drinking was obvious, as had been more than usually noticeable for nearly a month. He had the look of a man with a mental burden not easily carried, and secret apprehensions not pleasant to endure.

The girl across the table, far more attractive, yet not less evil than he, shrugged her shapely shoulders and indulged in a low ripple of laughter.

“You’re only getting what’s coming to you, Nate,” she glibly replied.

“What do you mean by that, Belle?”

“You’d no business to turn such a trick as you turned. It was too long a chance.”


“Silence! Silence, I say!” Godard quickly snarled, with an uglier frown. “What need to speak of that?”

“Bah! there’s none here to be feared.”

“Mebbe not, but I’ll not have it talked about,” declared Godard. “You’ve got your share of the blunt, all you deserve, and the least you can do is to keep your mouth closed.”

“It’s closed all right, Nate, when there’s any danger about,” retorted Belle pointedly. “Have no fear of me. I’ll never give you away. But such tricks as that always bring bad luck, Nate.”

“Not always,” growled Godard, less sullenly. “What I can’t understand is why the police have made such a mark of me.”

“That so?”

“To raid me twice within a week—that’s pressing things over the limit. It’s not usual with the infernal bluebottles, and I’m cursed if I can fathom it.”

“Can’t you guess who has tipped them to do it?” inquired Belle.

“Of course I can’t,” cried Godard. “If I could I would put an end to these persecutions, even if I had to turn him down to end them.”

“Put out his light, eh?”


“Yes, I would!”

“And you can’t guess who?”

“No! I wish I could.”

“Well, I can, Nate,” declared Belle, with an unpleasant smile.

“Who?” demanded Godard, with interest.

“The same man who had me fired out of my job.”

“Not Nick Carter?” cried Godard, with a start.

“That’s who, Nate.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“I do.”

“For what reason?”

“Because, Nate, he either has some personal grudge against you and me, or else he suspects——”

The girl stopped, yet stared significantly at her hearer.

Godard dropped his spoon and began to grow pale. Yet the frown of his beetling brows became darker, and the light uglier in his evil eyes. He muttered an oath after a moment, then added, through his teeth:

“If I thought that——”

“What would you do?” queried Belle, with sinister significance.

“What wouldn’t I do,” snarled Godard, with sullen ferocity. “I’d do anything that would insure wiping him out of my path.”


The girl laughed, a coldly, cruel laugh that contrasted vividly with the man’s harsh voice.

“Nick Carter is not an easy man to wipe out,” she replied.

“I know that as well as you, Belle.”

“You’d do anything to accomplish it, eh?”

“That’s what I would,” cried Godard decisively. “The play would be limited to two persons, Belle, if what you think is true. It would be him or me, and I’m cursed if I’d have it me if I could help it. Why do you think of him?”

The girl dried her lips and tossed aside her napkin.

“Because I don’t fancy the way things are going any better than you do, Nate,” she replied bitterly. “It was Carter who threw me out of my job at the bank, for which he could have had no earthly reason, barring that he suspected me of having worked Kendall for a fish and lured him where you could shove him into a corner. Carter doesn’t like me for a cent, and maybe he likes you none the less for being my uncle. Possibly he suspects you because of it.”

“But he can have no evidence——”

“Bah! No man ever knows what evidence Nick Carter possesses,” Belle curtly interrupted. “When he gets after a covey, about the first the poor devil knows of it, 165 Nate, he is down and out for keeps, with bangles on his wrists or a hemp tie in place of a silk one. Don’t bank on what Nick Carter doesn’t know. If you are up against him, and any reason exists for his being after you, there’s but one safe course—and even that is a long chance against such a man as he is.”

“What course is that?”

“Take the bull by the horns, Nate, and either put the detective to sleep or go under yourself in the attempt. That’s the only way to deal with Nick Carter.”

Godard sat silent for several moments, weighing in his own mind the desperate possibility suggested. He could not believe that he was suspected of the crime for which the detectives and the police were searching the country after Moses Flood and Harry Royal, yet the words of his niece had alarmed him, and opened his eyes to the bare possibility of a frightful peril.

Presently he roused himself, and stared across at the girl.

“What would you do about it?” he sullenly asked.

“Just what I have said,” replied Belle bluntly.

“Try to turn him down?”


“If I was sure that he had any designs against me——”

“Faugh!” interrupted the girl. “There are facts you 166 shouldn’t lose sight of, Nate. In the beginning he was on this case in Gilsey’s employ. Do you imagine Gilsey has let him drop it? Not by a long chalk.”

“Well, what of that?”

“This is it,” cried Belle, who was rather a clever logician. “Is Carter making any attempt to round up Flood or that fool of a Royal? Not one, my word for it. He’s letting the central office screws scurry their legs off on that scent. None of that for Nick Carter, mind you. What’s the natural conclusion, eh? Merely this—Carter doesn’t suspect Flood, despite the evidence. Yet if he is still on the case, he must suspect somebody, and that somebody may be—the right man!”

Godard’s evil face grew darker with every word that had fallen from the girl’s lips.

“The devil!” he snarled, as she pointedly concluded. “I hadn’t thought of it in that way. By Heaven, it may be true, as you say.”

“I should proceed as if it was, Nate, if I were you.”

“Try to land him?”


“How can it be done?”

“That’s for you to determine.”

“I don’t fancy the job.”

“Not as well as knocking out a half drunken fellow 167 with ninety thousand dollars in his kit, eh?” laughed Belle Braddon. “I say, Nate, what would there be in it for me if I could do the job for you?”

“Turn Carter down?”


“You mean—put out his light?”


“Your own price,” cried Godard eagerly.

“Five thousand?”


“In cold cash?”

“The very day it is done.”

“That’s good enough for me,” returned Belle, with a gleeful shrug of her shoulders. “I can use the dust all right, Nate, and I’ve thought of a way by which I can do the job.”

“Or get done yourself in attempting it.”

“Oh, you let me alone to look out for myself,” sneered Belle, with a series of significant nods. “I cut my eye-teeth a long time ago, and it’s a cold day when I cannot hoodwink a man.”

“That’s no pipe-dream,” growled Godard.

“And I’ll do the job for the price mentioned, Nate—cash on delivery,” added the unprincipled jade. “I must do it at my own time and in my own way.”


“I care not when or how, Belle, so long as it’s done.”

“Trust me to do it, then.”

“Do you require any help?”

“I should say not!” exclaimed the girl quickly. “When I tackle anything of this kind, I play a lone hand. I want no partner who some day may squeal. It’ll be all or nothing for me.”

Nothing could have suited Godard better, for he was essentially a coward, and the simple thought of meeting Nick Carter in a life or death encounter sent chills up and down his spine.

“I shall require one thing, however,” said Belle.

“What is that?”

“This house must be vacated and all the stuff removed. Then I must have the key of this house, also of the one next door.”

“Flood’s old place?”


“What sort of a job are you cooking up?” growled Godard suspiciously.

“That’s my business, Nate,” returned the girl. “I shall do it in my own way, or not at all.”

Godard saw that she meant it, and he had no idea of letting her offer slip by.

“I’ll vacate the house this very day,” said he promptly. 169 “I’ll move our stuff down to the shore house, and open a game there on the quiet. That will throw the cops off my track for a time.”

“Very good.”

“When will you do the job?”

“As soon as I can arrange to have it come right,” replied Belle thoughtfully. “Not this week, however. I have engagements for two evenings with that yellow-haired Dakota chap, whom I caught on to at the Waldorf last week. He has money to burn, barrels of it, and I must get my little bit.”

“Why the deuce haven’t you run him up against my game?” demanded Godard.

“He never plays, Nate,” said Belle quickly. “I tried it, on my word I did. But he doesn’t know one card from another. He says he has an uncle out West, however, a big cattle ranchman, who is a fiend at faro.”

“H’m! I wish he’d wire his uncle to come on here. I reckon we could trim him.”

“I don’t think he’d consent to do that, Nate,” laughed the girl, upon whose spirits the murderous project she had in mind seemed to cast no cloud. “You vacate here to-day and give me the keys to both houses. Then leave Nick Carter to me. Within a week I will turn him down, or my name is not Belle Braddon.”


“You shall have the keys not later than Friday, Belle.”

“That’s soon enough,” nodded the girl, rising. “Meantime, Nate, I must devote myself to bleeding that yellow-haired baby from Dakota. He’s as loose as ashes with his dust, Nate, and I’ll give him credit for that.”

“Then I guess you’ll bleed him all right.”

“If I don’t, Nate, there’ll be something wrong with the cards,” said Belle, with a ringing laugh. “So long, old chap! I have an appointment with him at noon. A hot bird and a cool bottle, you know, and then a ride in the park. But you go ahead, Nate, with the moving. I’ll have my little job on old Nick all framed up in time, never doubt that.”


“Well, sir, I’m here, as I agreed!”

“That’s right, my good man, and I’m glad to see you. Take a chair.”

The last speaker was Nick Carter.

The first was the whilom cuekeeper in the gambling-house of Moses Flood—the latter’s humpback friend, John Green.

The scene was Nick Carter’s office, on the Monday 171 afternoon following the interview between Godard and Belle Braddon, in which the latter had contracted to turn Nick Carter’s toes up.

The interval was five days.

In compliance with Nick’s genial invitation, the humpback took a seat near the detective’s desk.

“Well,” said Nick, “what has become of Godard since he closed his up-town house?”

Green laughed.

“He’s down at a shore house which he owns. Here’s the address, sir, and the direction for getting there. I wrote it down, thinking you might want it.”

Nick glanced at the scrawl on the slip of paper tendered him, and bowed approvingly.

“Is he dealing a game down there?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. A small one, though, only for a few friends.”

“Are you still keeping cues for him?”

“I am.”

“And who is his assistant dealer?”

“Tom Bruce, sir.”

“Flood’s former man?”

“The same, sir,” nodded Green. Then he added, sadly: “’Fore Heaven, sir, I’d give all my life is worth to know that Mr. Flood is all right, safe, and sound!”


“I have already told you, John, that I will insure that, providing you follow my instructions to the letter.”

“Oh, I’ll do that, Detective Carter, never doubt it!” cried Green eagerly. “I’d cut off both these hands for Mr. Flood!”

“Now tell me,” said Nick, “what is the game doing?”

“Losing, sir; losing to beat the band. Godard has dropped nearly a hundred thousand in the past month.”

“Can he stand the pace long?” inquired Nick carelessly.

“Sure, sir, I’d not have believed he could stand it till now!”

Nick already knew where Godard had probably obtained the money mentioned.

“Is he still drinking deeply?”

“Like a fish, sir,” grinned the humpback; “and, holy smoke! he’s uglier than ten devils.”

Nick laughed and nodded, evidently much pleased by the report.

“Is he dealing a square game?” he next inquired.

“Sure, sir!” cried Green. “I don’t believe Godard has got the tools for dealing a brace game.”

“You think he would do it, John, if he had the tools and saw a good thing?”

“Well, sir,” and Green grimly shook his ungainly 173 head, “I reckon Nate Godard would do anything for money.”

“I guess that’s right,” said Nick. “Now, John, there’s one thing I wish you to do for me.”

“Count on me, sir, for sure!”

“If Godard was to deal a brace game he would have to tell you about it, wouldn’t he?”

“Yes, sir; so I could keep the cues right. I’d have to mark up the cards he took crooked, you see, or there’d be a holler from the players at the end of the deal, when the cues showed wrong.”

“I know all about it, John.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, hark you, my man! If Godard contemplates dealing a brace game he will first prepare the way by giving you his instructions and secret signs.”

“No doubt of it, sir.”

“Well, John, if he does that I want you to drop me a letter by the very next mail saying that the trick is to be turned. Do you understand?”

“Sure I do!” exclaimed the humpback; “and I’ll send the letter the minute I know of it.”

“Very good,” bowed Nick. “That’s all to-day, John. In leaving here be as cautious as usual. You must not be seen, you know!”


“Trust me, sir,” smiled Green, with a shrug. “I will slip out and away like a shadow. You’re sure, sir, about poor Mr. Flood?” he added, as he lingered for a moment at the door.

“Trust me for that, John, as I trust you,” replied Nick.

And the detective bowed and smiled pleasantly, with a genuine appreciation of the warm and loyal heart that beat in the crooked breast of the departing man.

This interview with the humpback plainly indicates the shrewd line of work which Nick was secretly doing in his attempt to verify the suspicious by which he was actuated.

Green had been gone but a few minutes, moreover, when a second man familiarly entered.

He was a stylishly clad, yellow-haired chap, with a sandy beard, parted down the middle. He carried a cane, sported a bright-red tie, and looked for all the world as if he had just stepped off a fashion-plate.

It was the yellow-haired chap whom Belle Braddon had boasted of having caught on to at the Waldorf.

Nick looked up and smiled when he entered.

“Well, Chick,” said he, “what’s now in the wind?”

Chick laughed and dropped into a chair.


“Nothing special, Nick,” said he. “All is working well.”

“She has no suspicions of you?”

“Not the slightest, Nick.”

“What do you make of her?”

“Well,” replied Chick, with a grin, “she’s a royal spender, I’ll give her credit for that. She makes bank-notes fly like dead leaves in a September gale.”

“Never mind,” laughed Nick. “Let ’em go. We’ll get them back from Gilsey. Besides, Chick, the situation will not last much longer. We are closing in on them.”

“You have learned something?”

“Green has just been here and reported,” nodded Nick. “Godard is located at his shore house. I know the place and how to get there. He is dealing a game there on the quiet, and I have several reasons for thinking that he is nearly on his last legs, financially.”

“In which case, Nick, he will take any desperate chances to recover, eh?”

“That’s the idea, Chick, and it’s what I have been working for. Have you said anything to his niece about the cattle-dealer?”

“Sure thing,” nodded Chick. “I have laid that wire all right, you may wager. I showed her a telegram 176 yesterday, which I claimed to have received from my Dakota uncle, stating that he would join me here Tuesday.”

“That’s to-morrow.”

“I told her that he is coming on merely for pleasure, and have impressed her with the idea that he is the highest kind of a high-roller. She wanted to know if he ever played faro, and I told her he was a regular fiend at it, and that I had seen him sit to lose a hundred thousand at a crack.”

“Very good,” laughed Nick. “That certainly ought to be strong enough. What did she say to that?”

“She said she knew a house where he could make a play,” grinned Chick.

“Oh, ho! that looks promising enough,” laughed Nick.

“I told her that would suit him to the letter, and that he would be glad to give any square faro-game a play,” added Chick. “She said she would fix it for us after he arrived.”

“And we will fix them, in return, I’m thinking,” said Nick grimly. “Green is going to notify me if a brace game is to be attempted. I’m dead sure it will be, too, with Godard so nearly on his uppers.”

“No doubt of it.”

“In which case, Chick, it’s a hundred to one that he 177 will use Flood’s brace deal box, and resort to the same deck of strippers that Flood gave Kendall with the money he had won. If we can catch Godard with that deck of strippers in his possession, Chick, it will prove conclusively that he murdered Kendall.”


“He necessarily must take Green into his confidence about the brace game,” added Nick; “and he will get rid of Tom Bruce when attempting to turn the trick. We shall probably meet nobody there but Green and Godard, except that jade of a niece.”

“She will probably take us out there, Nick.”

“We’ll go with her, all right,” laughed Nick. “You had better fix it with her for to-morrow night, in order that we may wind up the case as soon as possible.”

“That will be easy,” nodded Chick. “I shall find her ready.”

“I will show up at the Waldorf to-morrow noon and join you there,” added Nick. “I will have a roll of money with me fit to choke a horse. Trust Godard to venture a most desperate chance to get it. I think, Chick, we now have the game well in hand.”

“So do I, Nick,” replied Chick, rising. “I’m going to slip up-stairs and have a bath, then I must go back 178 to the Waldorf. I promised to dine with my friend with the red-brown hair at six.”

Nick laughed, nodding approvingly, and Chick hastened from the office.

It was then about three o’clock. At four Nick had business up-town, and he presently put on his street attire and left the house.

A quarter of an hour later, as he was crossing Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, he was observed by a young woman on the opposite corner.

The moment she saw him, moreover, a gleam of malicious satisfaction flashed in her evil eyes.

She tripped quickly over the opposite crossing and intercepted Nick as he reached the Fifth Avenue sidewalk.

The young woman was Belle Braddon, out for the great detective’s scalp.


Nick Carter suppressed any show of surprise upon beholding Belle Braddon approaching. He halted, politely raising his hat, upon observing that the girl intended 179 to speak to him, and they met on the Fifth Avenue corner.

Belle greeted him with a smile and a pretty toss of her well-poised head, saying glibly:

“How-dy do, Mr. Carter? You haven’t been round to call on me, sir, and play that game of ping-pong.”

“True; I haven’t,” replied Nick, rather inclined to laugh at her piquant audacity.

“How many invitations do you require?”

“Well, I can hardly say.”

“I generally have to ask a man but once,” pouted Belle, with a playful shrug of her shoulders. “I guess you don’t enjoy the game.”

“Well, to tell the truth, Miss Braddon, ping-pong is not my long suit,” laughed Nick.

The girl joined in his laugh, saying dryly:

“Dear me, you really can be amusing, can’t you?”

“Yes, when I try.”

“Try often, Detective Carter. It’s awfully becoming. By the way, sir, there’s a question I’d like to ask you.”

“Certainly,” bowed Nick; “understand, however, that I may not feel called upon to answer it.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t refuse a lady. I’m sure you wouldn’t.”


“Well, since you feel so sure, Miss Braddon, go ahead with your question.”

Belle drew nearer to him, and said, with a rather sinister gleam in her lifted eyes:

“Why did you take such pains to have me fired out of my job at the Milmore Trust?”

Nick already began to suspect her of having some design that had not yet appeared on the surface, and he decided to learn of what it consisted by leading her on a little.

“It strikes me, my dear girl,” said he, smiling, “that that is a needless question.”

“Why needless, my dear Mr. Carter?” queried Belle, in bantering tones.

“Because you already know why I did it.”

“I do?”

“Yes,” nodded Nick. “Think it all over and it will probably come to you.”

“Oh, you did it because I told Flood about Kendall’s shortage, did you?”


“Well, I rather suspected it was that, Mr. Carter.”

“Why, then, did you ask?”

“Only to make sure, sir,” laughed Belle. “A woman’s usual reason, eh? Ah, well! have no fear, Mr. Carter; 181 I bear you no ill will for having done so. Really, I rather like you for it, for it’s awfully pleasant to be out of a job,” and the smiling jade playfully beat Nick’s arm with one of her gloves.

Then she quickly added pointedly:

“But I’ve got it in for Mr. Flood, sir, just the same.”

“That so?” queried Nick. “For what?”

“Because he betrayed that I told you. Oh, you wouldn’t deny it, Mr. Carter. I know well enough that he did!”

“I never attempt to disabuse a woman who already knows,” laughed Nick, wondering when she would come to the point.

Belle Braddon came to it, all right, in less than a minute.

“Yes, sir; I’ve got in for him, Mr. Carter, and some day I’ll get even with him. By the way, sir, the central office sleuths are having a fine hunt after him, aren’t they?”

“A vain one, certainly,” replied Nick.

“If they hadn’t been so hot after my Uncle Nate of late, I’d get even with Flood by making them wise as to his hiding place,” declared the girl, with affected bitterness.


Then, before Nick could reply, she quickly added, as if struck with a clever idea:

“Oh, I say, Mr. Carter! Just to show you that I bear you no ill will, and, in fact, rather fancy you, I’ll throw Flood into your hands, if you’d like to get them on him for that murder out in Fordham.”

Nick heard her without a change of countenance. He knew that she was absolutely ignorant of Flood’s whereabouts, who at that moment was in Nick’s residence; also, that she could have no knowledge of the latter’s relations with Flood.

Yet no man could have wanted better evidence that the girl had some design which she was craftily plotting to execute.

It was characteristic of Nick at any sign of danger to go after it, until he discovered of what it consisted. In this case, therefore, he decided to give Belle Braddon all the rope she wanted, or until he could learn at what she was driving.

Nick was too shrewd, however, to take the bait too greedily. Pretending to be entirely ignorant of Flood’s movements, he said curiously:

“Why do you think that I wish to lay hands on him?”

“You are still in Gilsey’s employ, aren’t you?”

“Well, yes; I’ll admit that I am.”


“Then, of course, you want Flood,” cried Belle bluntly. “What’s the use of denying it?”

Nick no longer did so, it now being very obvious that the girl had some object in view and cared not how she accomplished it.

“I did not deny it. In fact, I really would like to land him,” said he, with sinister eagerness. “Do you mean to tell me that you know where he is located?”

Belle winked and nodded.

“On the level?” demanded Nick.


“Where is he?”

“Hiding in a house that I know all about.”

“What price will you take for the information?”

“What will you give?”

“Five hundred.”

“Done!” said Belle promptly.

“When can we turn the trick?”

“At once.”

“That suits me,” said Nick.

“There are two conditions on which I shall insist, however,” added Belle.


“You must be governed by my directions.”

“I will.”


“And let me be present when you arrest him.”

“You shall be there.”

“I merely want him to know that I have got even with him,” Belle bitterly declared, in explanation.

“It’s dead lucky that she doesn’t know what I know of Flood,” thought Nick, a little puzzled as to her game.

“Come on, then,” she said. “I’ll take you into the room now occupied by Moses Flood within a quarter of an hour.”

Nick accompanied her, and they started up Fifth Avenue.

Belle Braddon was as bold as she was crafty, and she felt sure of landing her man single-handed.

The trick she was about to turn, moreover, was well worthy of her.

She took Nick to Godard’s vacant house, of which she had the key, and they entered together.

Then Nick became more watchful. The empty rooms and bare floors did not surprise him, for he knew that Godard had moved; but there was a possibility of being assailed by hidden foes, and Nick slipped his revolver into his side pocket, unobserved.

He was, too, more than ever mystified. Knowing that Belle Braddon could not possibly give him any clue to Flood, he could not imagine what design existed under 185 her pretensions. He was resolved to learn, however—let come what might.

“Come up-stairs,” said Belle, after locking the street door. “This is a roundabout way, but it wouldn’t have done to enter Flood’s house direct.”

“Are you going in there?”

“Yes,” nodded Belle. “That’s where we shall find him. He has a secret hiding-place in there. Tread lightly on these bare floors lest the sound reaches and alarms him. Both houses are vacant, and he should be alone there at this hour.”

“Good enough,” growled Nick quietly; “I’m with you.”

“Into this room, Detective Carter!”

Nick followed her into one of the side chambers, and the girl turned briefly to face him.

“Now be very quiet,” she said softly, without the slightest sign of nervousness or apprehension. “I’m going to let you into one of the secrets of these two houses. As a matter of fact, Detective Carter, both of them are owned by Moses Flood. But my uncle, who was employed by him, has been occupying this one.”

Nick smiled and nodded.

“In this room,” continued Belle, “there is a concealed door, operated by pressing one of the figures in the 186 wall decoration. It opens into a passage leading through another door into Flood’s private room.”

Nick instantly recalled Flood’s escape from Detective Gerry, and again he nodded understandingly.

“The passage was constructed,” added Belle, “for the purpose of quickly getting the gambling implements out of Flood’s house and into this one in case of an unexpected raid by the police.”

“I see.”

“The door is very cleverly constructed, you observe, so that the police could not discover it and light upon the trick.”

“I can see no indications of a door,” said Nick truthfully.

“I’ll show you,” whispered Belle. “But be quiet after the passage is opened, for Flood might then overhear us. He has a hiding-place in the other house and there we shall find him.”

“Good for you!”

“Are you ready?”


Belle Braddon turned and pressed her hand on the wall.

Instantly a heavy iron door, decorated like the wall 187 to which it was most cleverly matched, swung quickly open.

A four-foot passage was revealed, brick walled on two sides. At the farther end of it, some five feet away, a similar iron door had swung open, and beyond it was Flood’s private room, which Nick immediately recalled.

Belle Braddon raised her finger warningly, and led the way into the passage.

Nick followed her, wondering what he might expect in the adjoining house.

When both were in the passage Belle turned back and paused, whispering softly:

“Draw that door after you, please! Close it quietly.”

Nick turned to lay his hand on the door.

Like a flash Belle Braddon sprang into Flood’s private room and dashed her hand against the side wall.

In an instant, before Nick could raise a finger, both doors closed, with a loud, metallic clang and with a rapidity indicating that they were operated by powerful springs, which opened and closed both doors at once.

With a momentary thrill of dismay, Nick found himself alone in the walled passage, and in darkness so profound that it could almost be felt.



It was with a feeling of some chagrin that Nick Carter realized his desperate situation the moment the heavy iron doors of the walled passage closed upon him, leaving him alone in the Egyptian darkness of the tomblike place.

Yet the trick by which he had been caught was one to have deceived any man. Only a clairvoyant could have seen that the doors worked jointly and under the motive of powerful springs.

Though alert and watchful from the moment he had entered the house with Belle Braddon, he had not looked for such a trap as this.

Keenly suspicious, knowing in fact that the girl was up to some knavish game, Nick had suspected that he was being led into Flood’s house with a design to throw him into the hands of several assailants, a situation which would have given him no concern whatever, and which he really had been inviting in order to identify the parties to it and learn their motives.

Before Nick had fairly recovered from his surprise, however, he heard the voice of Belle Braddon from 189 Flood’s private room. It sounded dead and muffled, much as if Nick was locked in a bank vault, yet he could readily distinguish her words and the triumphant intonation with which they were uttered.

“I say, Carter,” she cried, crouching to place her lips near the crack of the closed door, “are you there?”

Nick instantly resumed his usual composure.

“Yes, I’m here,” he coolly answered.

“Throw me out of a job, will you?” screamed the girl, with a ringing laugh.

“I’ll do more than that for you one of these days, young lady,” Nick cried back.

“Yes, you will!” returned Belle derisively. “It won’t be many days before there’ll be singing and flowers at your house, and you’ll ride at the head of a procession.”

“Think so?”

“You’ll not hear any of the music, either.”

“Don’t bank too heavily on that,” replied Nick. “I have been in worse places than this.”

“And got out alone?”

“And got out alone.”

“Well, if you get out of this one, Carter, you’ll be a bird,” cried Belle tauntingly. “You’ll find that this is no gilded cage. How do you like it?”

“Oh, it’s snug and cozy all right.”


“You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it. I’m going to leave you there.”

“The sooner the better,” retorted Nick. “Your room is preferable to your company.”

“Thanks,” laughed Belle. “The sentiment is mutual. By the way, sir!”


“You may make all the noise you wish. It won’t disturb anybody, for there’s nobody to hear it.”

“I’m glad to know that,” cried Nick, undaunted.

“Both houses are vacant and you are midway between them,” cried Belle, with a cruel laugh. “You may yell your lungs out and you’ll not be heard.”

“I shall keep my lungs where they belong,” cried Nick, a bit impatiently. “I shall require my voice a little later, to testify against you.”

“I’ll risk that, my man,” retorted the girl. “In that trap you’ll not live more than a day or two. If you don’t suffocate you’ll starve, for nobody will show up here for many a day. I’ll insure that.”

“Thanks. It’s very kind of you.”

“You’re entirely welcome,” answered Belle. “And when your body is finally discovered here, it will be assumed that you came here alone in search of Flood and accidentally got caught between the iron doors.”


“Quite reasonable, I am sure.”

“Very clever, isn’t it? You see, Carter, no one will ever be suspected of having lured you here and lodged you in there. You are reputed to be too clever to be caught in a trap in that fashion. It’s dead open and shut that your death will be attributed to an accident.”

“Providing I die here,” supplemented Nick.

“If you don’t, there’ll be something wrong with the deck,” cried Belle, with derisive assurance. “I’ll come to your funeral, Carter, and send a broken column.”

“Good enough. I’d prefer gates ajar, however.”

“Doors ajar, you mean,” cried Belle, with a scream of laughter. “Good-by, Carter. I’m going to leave you now. I have a date at the Waldorf at six. I’m going to dine with a yellow-haired chappie from Dakota.”

“Good-by—and good riddance,” cried Nick.

The last brought no answer.

Belle Braddon had glided silently out of Flood’s private room and was hurrying down the hall stairs.

Despite her derisive laughter and the taunting remarks with which she had mocked her helpless victim, her cheeks were as white as the knot of lace on her heaving breast.

The awful horror of the crime she had committed was 192 upon her. She fully believed that she had left Nick Carter to suffocate in the foul atmosphere of the walled passage; or, if spared that fate, that thirst and starvation would overcome him.

The very hideousness of the crime shook even her callous nature and filled her quaking soul with nameless horror.

The nervous tremor of her feet on the uncarpeted stairs as she hurriedly descended thrilled her with alarm, and her knees were knocking together when she reached the lower hall.

There she paused and caught her breath, steadying herself, then went into one of the silent parlors, as silent as death itself, to peer through the closed blinds into the sunlit street.

The brighter light outside restored her nerve, and a smile of vengeful exultation relaxed her drawn gray lips.

“He’s as good as done for, as good as done for,” she muttered through her teeth. “It serves him right. It was his life or that of my uncle, and all is fair when life hangs in the balance. He would have turned Nate down as indifferently as he did me, and he has invited only what he has got. Let him take his medicine, then! It’s what he deserves!”


With such reasoning as this she put the horrid crime out of her mind, and resolved to think no more about it.

With calmness came greater cunning. She reasoned that she might be seen leaving Flood’s house, if she departed by the front door. Instead, she descended to the basement.

There she broke a window and opened the catch, to indicate that Nick Carter, when his lifeless remains should be discovered, had entered the house, presumably in search of Moses Flood. That he had accidentally been caught in the walled passage she also felt sure would be assumed. That the crime should never be brought home to her, she was taking every precaution.

In the semidarkness of the basement, she next tied a thick veil over her hat, and drew it carefully about her face.

Then she let herself out the back door, locking it after her, and stole quickly through a narrow alley, and thus gained the nearest side street.

Now she breathed freely again, and triumphantly hastened away.

“Five thousand easily earned—easily earned!” she said to herself, weighing in mind the price Nathan Godard had agreed to pay for Nick Carter’s life.


Belle Braddon dined that evening with her yellow-haired chance acquaintance from Dakota, so alleged.

Had she dreamed for an instant that she was dining with Chick Carter, she would have fallen out of her chair in a fit.

It was midnight when she reached home at the shore house of Nathan Godard, and she found the large wooden dwelling enveloped in darkness.

There was no game in progress that night.

Belle went straight to bed—as straight as her unsteady steps would take her, and slept soundly until morning, the heavy sleep of semi-intoxication.

At breakfast with Nate Godard that morning she gave him the key to the situation—but not the situation itself.

“You keep away from those two town houses, Nate,” she said grimly to him, over her coffee.

“What’s that for?” inquired Godard curiously.

“Never mind what it’s for,” replied the girl, with threatening significance. “You do just as I say; that was the agreement when I undertook to accomplish this Carter job for you.”

Godard started slightly.

“Is it done?” he quickly asked.

“It’s as good as done, make no mistake about that.”


“On the level?” cried Godard, with knavish eagerness.

“Yes, on the level,” declared Belle. “But, mark what I say, Nate, and this goes.”


“You keep away from those two town houses for the next ten days. If you don’t do so, Nate Godard, you later may be run down to police headquarters, in Mulberry Street, to answer to the worst charge in the calendar. So do what I command, or bitter trouble may be yours.”

In his mind’s eye, so pointed were the girl’s remarks, Nate Godard fairly could see the lifeless body of Nick Carter stretched upon the cellar floor of one of the two houses. How Belle Braddon had accomplished it Godard neither knew nor cared. He felt it would be a safe gamble to follow her instructions to the letter.

“By thunder! Belle, I believe you have brought a shift of luck,” he exclaimed, after a moment, with a grim mingling of satisfaction and approval. “On my word, Belle, you are one girl in a million!”

She shrugged her shoulders, then drained her cup of coffee to its dregs.

“Let’s hope so,” she replied. “I have another bit of news for you, too, Nate!”


“What is that?”

“My Dakota chap’s uncle is coming on here to join his nephew.”

“The devil you say!” cried Godard, half rising from his chair.

“It’s no joke, Nate.”

“When is he coming?”

“I’m to meet the two of them at the Waldorf to-morrow afternoon.”

“You mean the wealthy cattle-dealer?”

“The same, Nate.”

“Can’t he be induced to go up against my game here?”

Belle Braddon’s crafty eyes took on a quizzical look at the man opposite.

“Suppose he can, Nate?” she answered slowly: “could you make a sure thing of him?”

“How much can be won?” demanded Godard ominously.

“A hundred thousand, at the least, if you get him on the down track.”

“Are you sure?”

“Dead sure!”

“And he comes from Dakota?”

“There’s no doubt of it, Nate, not a shadow of doubt.” 197 cried Belle. “I’ve seen the telegram he sent to his nephew, and that simple guy hasn’t art enough to deceive an old woman. Yes, Nate, it’s dead open and shut that the uncle comes from Dakota.”

Godard dropped back into his chair and fell to thinking.

He was thinking of Moses Flood’s brace deal box, then in his own possession.

He was thinking, too, of a deck of strippers, also in his possession, with which he could vary to his own advantage the turn of every card.

In the lives of those who pursue fickle fortune through the medium of games of chance there is no experience which so arouses a spirit of utter recklessness as that of protracted losing. Sooner or later it drives discretion from its seat and opens the door for hot-headed desperation.

Say why the moth flies madly into the flame that consumes him! Say why the screaming sea-gull dashes out his brains against the dazzling windows of the towering lighthouse! Say why the undetected murderer haunts the neighborhood of his bloody crime!

Give answer to these questions—and then you may say what frenzy of human nature led Nathan Godard to dare self-destruction in the passionate greed of an evil hour.


Presently he looked up, fixing his inflamed eyes upon Belle Braddon’s face.

“A sure thing?” said he hoarsely. “Yes, I can make it a sure thing, Belle, that we win his money!”

“No slip-up, eh?”

“Not on your life!”

“Good!” cried Belle approvingly. “Get rid of all but your cuekeeper, Nate, and notify the gang that there’ll be no game here to-morrow night.”

“And you, Belle?”

“I will have the Dakota couple here at precisely nine o’clock.”


Nick Carter did not long remain idle after Belle Braddon left him alone in the trap she had sprung on him and made her departure from Flood’s vacant house.

Nick kept quiet only until he felt sure she had gone, and then he began to take the precise measure of his situation.

With both houses vacant, and the walled passage midway between them, there was, as Belle Braddon had 199 said, no possibility that he could make himself heard by persons in the adjoining dwellings or upon the street.

Nick gave up that idea almost at the outset.

That help would come to him seemed equally improbable. Nick knew that Flood would not visit his house and that Belle Braddon would insure that no person entered the one adjoining. That any accidental intruder would put in an appearance was next to absurd.

Nick quickly dropped all hope of relief of that character; in fact, nearly as quickly as he had dropped the other.

This left him but one resource—himself.

“I’m in here, and I must get out,” he grimly said to himself. “I was fool enough to be caught in the trap, but I’ll try to be clever enough to get out of it. First of all, to investigate it, for which we’ll have a little light.”

Nick never went without the ordinary requirements of his vocation, and he quickly fished out of his pocket a small electric lamp, the current of which he turned on, and immediately a flood of light dispelled the intense darkness of his narrow quarters.

“There, that is more like it,” he muttered. “Now to look about a bit.”


A careful examination of the place required but a little time.

On two sides were the bare brick walls of the passage, reaching from the floor to the ceiling.

At each end was the inner surface of a heavy iron door, which was as tightly closed as that of a steel safe. Under all the pressure Nick possibly could bring to bear upon them they were not even jarred.

“Um! There’s no opening them by force, that’s sure!” he presently decided. “Sheet-iron, too, over stout wood, no doubt, and securely riveted. To break through them is also out of the question.

“Whew! It’s getting close in here already. I shall need fresh air before long.”

The ceiling was two feet above his head, and brief study convinced Nick that nothing could be done in that direction.

Next he sounded the walls and doors with the butt of his revolver. Each appeared to be solid, infernally solid, and Nick then fell to his knees upon the bare floor.

“It’s the only way,” he muttered decisively. “I must get through this floor in some way. It must be done quickly, too, or I may become weak for want of better air.”


Upon his hands and knees Nick carefully examined the floor.

It consisted of spruce boards, six inches wide, in most of which there was no break. Presently, however, he discovered a crack where the ends of two of the boards met.

“Aha! this is better!” he muttered.

With his knife he dug out the wood around the nails securing the longer of the two boards, and succeeded in slightly prying up the end of it.

There was another board beneath it.

With countenance grown more grim and determined, Nick rose to his feet and drew his revolver.

“It’s a long chance,” he growled, under his breath. “The smoke will make it closer than ever in here, but I must know what’s under these boards.”

He aimed down at a spot a few inches from the end of the one he had started, then fired.

The report almost deafened him, and a cloud of smoke immediately filled the place.

The bullet tore through the floor, splitting the end of the upper board, then plowed its way down through the frescoed ceiling of the room below.

Nick dropped to his knees again, and peered down through the hole left by the chunk of lead.


As he did so a breath of fresh air filled his nostrils, and he could discern daylight below.

“Eureka! I’m over one of the rooms!” he cried to himself. “I’ll fool that sly jade yet—and that isn’t all I will do for her!”

Nick now went to work with a will. With his knife he pried up the splintered end of the board until he could get his fingers under it. Then he ripped up a section of it, as if it had been so much cardboard.

To remove the remaining pieces of the upper board required about five minutes, and Nick then tackled the one below it.

First, he fired a second bullet, making a hole a few inches from the former. With his knife he then hacked out the wood between the two holes, thus enabling him to get a good grip upon the board. With his boot heel, and at times with the butt of his revolver, he split the plank in several places, and at the end of fifteen minutes he had the lower board ripped out.

Though reeking from every pore, Nick at once thrust his leg through the aperture and down between the beams, and with his heel broke through the laths and plastering of the ceiling below.

That he could now effect his escape he had not the least doubt; yet it required time.


Nearly two hours of hard labor followed before he could hack a hole in the floor sufficiently large for him to pass through, and it was six o’clock before the work was done.

Then Nick pocketed his knife and lamp, wormed himself through the opening, and dropped into the room below.

He found himself in the house lately occupied by Nathan Godard.

Before leaving, Nick went to the basement and found an old broom, and with it removed all of the rubbish that had fallen to the floor.

“In case that jade comes here before to-morrow night, to learn if I have survived, I’ll have this stuff out of her way, and chance that she does not observe the ceiling,” he said to himself. “Even if she gets no sound from that trap up there, she’ll not dare open the door. To make sure of her movements, however, and that the trick for to-morrow night is by no means queered, I will have Patsy shadow these two houses all day to-morrow.”

It was nearly dark when Nick arrived home, and he sat up until midnight waiting for Chick to return.

The latter had left Belle Braddon less than an hour before, and she had been with Chick since six o’clock 204 that evening, so Nick knew that she had not returned to Flood’s house.

Chick, moreover, had craftily planned with Belle to visit Godard’s shore house the following night, taking with them the alleged uncle who was to arrive from Dakota.

Naturally, the uncle was Nick Carter, and the two detectives were to meet Belle Braddon at the Waldorf the following afternoon.

At ten o’clock next morning Nick received a telegram from Green. It contained only two words:

“Brace on!”

Nick laughed exultingly when he read it, and passed it to Chick, the two being seated in Nick’s office.

“That does settle it,” declared the latter. “Godard is expecting us, and has given the humpback instructions about the cues.”

“Sure thing!” cried Chick. “Belle Braddon has fallen into the net I have spread for her, and Godard expects to find an easy mark in my cattle-raising uncle from Dakota.”

“It is Godard who will be the easy mark!” Nick grimly rejoined. “One thing is sure!”

“What’s that?”


“Belle Braddon will never dream that your uncle is Nick Carter.”

“Well, hardly,” laughed Chick. “She is probably dead sure that you are down and out by this time.”

“I have Patsy shadowing both houses, in case she goes there. That is not likely, however.”

“Not at all,” replied Chick. “Women don’t fancy dead bodies, and shrink from going where they are. Yet she’s about as bad a trickster in petticoats as I ever met.”

“I’ll go and tell the encouraging news to Flood and Harry Royal,” said Nick. “Then we will get ourselves in shape for the round-up.”

At noon that day the yellow-haired chap, who had been at the Waldorf for nearly ten days, appeared at the famous hotel with a companion—his uncle.

No man, however suspicious, would have recognized Nick in the disguise he then wore.

His face was stained to a hue acquired only by long exposure to the burning sun of the plains. His hair was coarse and black, and a heavy beard concealed the lower portion of his face. Two of his teeth had been “stopped out,” which, when he laughed, gave his mouth a peculiarly repulsive look. His hands gave evidence of much labor, and his figure was rounded at the shoulders and several inches below its normal height. He 206 was clad in a suit characteristic of the part he had assumed, and presented, indeed, a most striking picture.

Precisely at six o’clock, Belle Braddon, arrayed in the height of fashion, arrived in a carriage at the hotel, where Chick received her and took her to his suite of rooms.

He had already cautioned her against appearing to be greatly amused by the oddities and roughness of the Western ranchman; yet when Belle Braddon met Nick and was introduced to him she scarcely could contain herself. She thought for sure that she was up against a genuine Western “Rube.”

A sonorous bass laugh came from Nick when they were introduced, to which was boisterously added, with a familiarity that tickled the girl immensely:

“So you’re the gal my Archie’s run up agin’, are you?”

“I guess I am, sir,” Belle admitted, blushing with affected demureness.

“Waal, to tell the hull truth, Miss Braddon, I’m durned if I don’t ruther envy him,” declared Nick, with blunt heartiness.

The girl laughed, shrugging her shoulders, and appearing greatly flattered, then laid off her wrap to wait for dinner.


It was six o’clock before the meal was served, and Nick dined and wined the party liberally.

During the progress of the dinner, which was served in one of the elaborate private dining-rooms, the project of going out to Godard’s shore house was brought up, and Nick expressed his readiness to give the game a good, handsome play.

“I’ve got money enough—barrels of it,” he declared to Belle, much to her delight. “And it’s meat and drink fur me, lass, to get up agin’ a layout.”

“Then you shall be accommodated,” laughed Belle.

“And I’ll not forget, gal, ’twas you who put us wise to the fun,” added Nick pointedly.

This looked to Belle Braddon like the promise of a reward, and she slyly pressed Nick’s hand under the table.

She received the reward all right—or, at least, what was coming to her.



It was precisely nine o’clock when Nick Carter, Chick, and Belle Braddon arrived at Godard’s shore house, to which they were admitted by the humpback and conducted into the dining-room.

Nate Godard appeared pale and somewhat intoxicated when he received them, but his nerve quickly returned after the introductions and the hearty responses of his visitors, and he promptly invited them to the sideboard to have a drink.

“Here’s your very good health, Mr. Hedge,” said he, addressing Nick by the name he had assumed.

“Yours, too, sir,” cried Nick.

“So you are fond of bucking the tiger, are you, and have come out here to give my game a little play?”

“Fond of it’s no name for it, neighbor,” declared Nick, as he drained his glass. “I’m a bit off color just now, though, for I haven’t set down before a stack o’ checks for nigh a year. All the more saved up for you to win, eh?” he added, with a boisterous display of good humor. “That ere’s one way o’ looking at it, Mr. Godard.”

Godard joined in Nick’s loud laugh, and Belle Braddon, 209 who was now making up to Nick with an eye to the future, playfully twined his arm with her hand and cried gleefully:

“Oh, you’re really too funny, Mr. Hedge.”

“Thet so, lass?”

“You make me laugh nearly every time you speak.”

“Waal, as long as I don’t make you cry, my dear gal, there’s no sleep to be lost, eh?”

“No, not a wink, sir,” Belle rejoined, with a seductive glance and smile.

A very little of such banter as this went a long way with Nick when more serious business was pressing, and he presently asked roundly:

“Where’s your game, Mr. Godard? Let’s have a look at it.”

“We can talk and play at the same time, you know,” put in Chick agreeably.

“You don’t do any playing, my boy,” roared Nick good-naturedly. “It’s bad enough fur one o’ the Hedge family to be up agin’ the tiger. You don’t set down a chip—mind that, my boy.”

“Well, I can look on, can’t I?” grumbled Chick. “There’s no harm in that!”

“Sure you can look on, lad. There’s no chance to lose in looking on.”


“Come up-stairs, Mr. Hedge,” said Godard.

“I’m coming, too,” declared Belle, as he led the way. “I want to see how you Westerners go at the game, Mr. Hedge.”

“We go at it, gal, like a bull at a gate,” Nick loudly laughed, slipping his arm around her as they mounted the stairs.

Green already had the room brightly lighted, yet he gave no sign of ever having seen the visitors.

The faro-room was, barring the elaborate furnishings at Flood’s, not unlike that previously described, and a sonorous laugh broke from Nick Carter when he beheld the layout on the table and saw the preparations which had been made for the game.

“Waal, she does have a durned natural look, Godard,” he cried, in stentorian tones. “How much can I sit to win?”

“Your expenses, at least,” Godard significantly replied, joining in the other’s laugh.

Nick’s expressive eyes evinced just the least bit of disappointment when he perceived the pack of cards laid carelessly on a chair at one side of the table, but when Nathan Godard took his seat back of the layout, and then produced a pack from behind the check-rack, a momentary blaze fired their somber depths, only to wane 211 again to a steady glow like that of burning coals through the darkness.

Nick recognized the deck of cards at a glance.

It was the same deck of strippers with which Moses Flood had dealt himself a loser and afterward strapped in the satchel with the money he had paid to Cecil Kendall, less than one hour before the latter was murdered in the rectory grounds.

They were very positive evidence of Nathan Godard’s guilt, yet Nick knew that there were other cards like them, and foresaw that even further proof was desirable. A profound reader of human nature, as well as a man of tremendous mental force, Nick was planning to drive the wretch opposite to a frenzy of excitement when, at the proper time, he could evoke from him an involuntary yet absolute self-betrayal.

“My expenses, eh?” he boisterously replied, turning to wink at Belle, then at the humpback cuekeeper, who had taken his seat at the end of the table.

“Sure thing, sir, if you get ’em down right,” laughed Godard, a bit nervously.

“Waal, my expenses will be suthing,” roared Nick, “if we blow in the stuff as we did at the Waldorf. Gee whiz! but it costs suthing to eat and liquor up in that ’ere tavern. Eh, Archie?”


“Right you are, old man,” nodded Chick, who was seated near-by.

“Are you in with my play, lass, or with Godard’s?” cried Nick, turning to Belle with a great display of joviality.

“I’m always in with the winner,” replied the girl, with a ringing laugh.

“Oh, ho, that’s it, eh? Cunning as a kitten, aren’t you?”

“I’m always looking out for my own interest,” grinned Belle, patting Nick’s cheek from behind his chair.

“Good for you, gal,” cried Nick approvingly. “Waal, Mr. Godard, across the crick thar, give me a stack o’ chips. I’ll show you how we play the bank on the t’other side o’ the Mississip. I dropped seven thousand in hides in Chicago, on my way here, the which I’m out to get back. Ha, ha! in with the winner, lass, are you?”

While boisterously voicing the above, Nick drew from the side pocket of his coat a huge roll of bank-notes, from which he quickly stripped off two of five hundred dollars each, and carelessly tossed them across the layout.

“Gimme a stack o’ chips!” he cried noisily.

“One stack?” queried Godard, startled by the prospect of so big a game.


“One stack—sartin!” cried Nick. “Fifty dollars a chip, that’s good enough fur me. Same as plug ante, what we used to play in ’49 under the wagon-trains. What’s the limit, by the way?”

Godard began to tremble under this show of utter recklessness.

“You may stack them up until I call you down,” said he, speaking calmly with an effort.

Yet he did not feel easy. It is no small undertaking to deal brace faro, even under ordinary conditions; and to Godard these appeared without precedent.

His evil heart was beating like a trip-hammer. His blood was rushing like fire through his veins. Yet the sight of the pretended cattle-dealer’s money served to nerve him for a time, and with jaws fixed he began to shuffle the deck of strippers.

“Till you call me down, eh?” roared Nick, as if in great enjoyment. “That ought to be good enough, and it’s what I like to hear. No piking around fur me, a chip a rip. They say it’s good luck to stake a cuss afore beginning, so take that, my bucko, and put it in your kit.”

“Thankee, sir!” cried the humpback, as Nick tossed him a chip valued at fifty dollars.

Nick nodded and laughed.


“You’re sort of a cross atween a man and monkey, ain’t ye?” he jokingly demanded.

“Well, sir, I’ll not take any blue ribbons for my beauty,” rejoined Green, laughing.

“Ha, ha, ha!” roared Nick. “That’s the stuff, my lad! All ready, eh? What’s to the top o’ the box—an eight?”

Despite his show of carelessness, Nick had seen the cards shuffled, stripped, and butted. He knew to a certainty how to place his money. He divided his stack of chips and coppered two winners for the entire lot.

Godard felt a thrill of exultation.

Nick had set his money down to lose.

The miscreant opposite was not forced to take a false card in order to win, and he felt relieved.

The first turn from the box brought a decision—the pretended dealer in cattle had lost.

“Oh, ho!” he cried, with a quick flash of his eyes. “Can you do thet, ag’in? Let’s see you do thet ag’in!”

Godard’s only reply was to send out another turn from the deal box.

But Nick’s question was answered—he had lost again, just as he had planned.

Now he did not laugh. He jerked his chair quickly nearer the table, and ferociously yanked out his roll of money.


“Gimme two stacks this time!” he cried aggressively.

“Two goes, mister,” nodded Godard.

He raked in the bank-notes cast upon the layout, and set forth their equivalent in chips.

Yet he did not speak again, to add to his husky remark. He dared not trust his voice. It was nothing short of robbery, this that he was doing, and he felt that he could see his finish if he got caught cheating.

Nick looked and acted like a man who would fairly eat another, under such a provocation.

Then Nick went down upon the layout with every chip that he had bought.

This time he bet to win, thus forcing Godard to take a false card.

Nick’s object was to drive the man to a frenzy of excitement, when discretion would be overwhelmed, and then bring a climax that would evoke self-betrayal.

Godard took the false card, made a secret sign, and a quick responsive rap sounded from his cuekeeper.

Yet he was ghastly to the lips when he glanced at Nick to see if the deception had been detected.

Nick saw it all right, but his countenance did not change. He saw, too, that Godard was beginning to work under the highest kind of pressure.


The latter raked in a thousand dollars on the turn, and the magnitude of the possibility before him alone enabled him to maintain his nerve.

“Can’t I win a bet?” Nick hoarsely cried, after buying for the third time and losing. “Curse the infernal luck—can’t I win a bet?”

“You are really getting them down a bit unlucky, uncle,” observed Chick, with pretended sympathy.

“So he is, dear man,” said Belle, in persuasive tones.

They now appeared to be wasted upon the irate cattle-dealer, however.

“Gimme some more chips, Godard,” he fiercely growled, slinging a fifth thousand dollars over the layout. “Gimme some more chips, I say! What sort of a dealer hev I been steered up agin’, eh?”

“The deal is all right, sir,” stammered Godard.

“Who said ’twasn’t? I said dealer!” snarled Nick ferociously.

Godard’s hand shook visibly as he shoved the desired stacks of chips toward Nick. The strain upon him was something frightful, and his brain felt as if seared with a terrible heat. The gravity of the situation seemed to steadily increase, and fear of what might occur was 217 taking ugly hold upon him. He ground his teeth together, and nerved himself to finish the deal.

From the top of the box to the bottom Nick did not win a bet.

He started the second deal ten thousand dollars loser, and Godard was trembling in his chair.

The second deal was about like the first.

Nick played to lose. He coppered the winning cards, and played the losers to win. Time and time again he forced himself to call for more chips, and each time noticed that Godard was becoming more and more beside himself. The perspiration stood in great drops on the latter’s face, and the arteries of his neck and brow were pulsing violently. Nick saw that he had him nearly where he wanted him.

Even Belle Braddon was gazing with affrighted eyes upon the dreadful scene, hushed and pale now, with her hands pressed above her heart.

Chick saw by the look in Nick’s eyes that the climax was approaching, and he quietly made ready for it.

Half-a-minute later Nick drove the knife deeper into his victim.

The deal had come down to two turns only, and Nick 218 knew the cues were wrong and that Godard must take a card to right them.

Nick forced Godard to win by stealing, and the latter’s hand shook as if with palsy as he did it.

A rap from the cuekeeper followed, and then the announcement:

“Last turn!”

Nick resolved it should be the very last.

He placed his bet—and purposely lost!

Then he uttered a terrible cry, as if thrilled with sudden suspicion.

“Be the cues right? Be the cues right?” he roared, glaring fiercely at the startled humpback.

“Aye, sir——”

“Then lemme see them cards!” yelled Nick, with his swarthy face awfully distorted and his eyes blazing like fire. “Lemme see the cards. I say! —— you, Godard, there’s suthing wrong with them cards!”

The humpback leaped to his feet with a hoarse remonstrance, and while Nathan Godard, ghastly as a corpse, covered the cards with his left hand, his right went to his hip pocket.

It was the very move Nick wanted to see him make.

“Lemme see ’em!” he roared furiously, half rising 219 from his chair. “I tell you there’s suthing wrong with them cards!”

“I think not——”

“Lemme see ’em! Lemme see ’em, or I’ll——”

“Let him see them, Nate!” shrieked Belle Braddon, wild lest Godard’s frightful agitation should betray him.

Nick reached across the layout with a terrible imprecation, and snatched the pack of cards from under Godard’s quivering hand.

“There’s blood on them!” he roared fiercely, with his eyes fixed on those of the shaking man opposite. “There’s blood on them! The blood of a man killed for money—killed for gain, and by you who now——”

Nick got no further.

The thrilling accusation was more than Nate Godard, in his unnerved condition, could sustain. He saw the scheme by which he was being duped—and he saw again the staring corpse that he had left behind him in the rectory grounds in Fordham.

With a single wild cry, most like a shriek, he leaped to his feet.

“Curse you!” he yelled; “I know you now! You’re Moses Flood!”

“You lie!” thundered Nick, tearing off his disguise. “I am Nick Carter, the detective!”


Belle Braddon uttered a scream that pierced the very walls of the house, and from somewhere under her skirts snatched out a revolver.

Chick Carter, with eyes alert to see where he was most needed, was upon her as a leopard leaps upon a hare.

“Not on your life, miss!” he cried, wrenching away the weapon and forcing her into a chair.

Nate Godard, too, had drawn his revolver, but he never again discharged it.

Nick swept across the table like a whirlwind, and in an instant had the desperate man by the throat.

Then he drew back, startled.

Godard’s grip on his revolver had relaxed, and the weapon fell clattering to the floor. He threw both hands above his head, like one stricken a fatal blow, then brought both palms violently to his skull, as if within were the seat of a dreadful pain. His distorted face suddenly grew ghastly, with lips drawn and eyes rolling, and but for Nick Carter’s supporting arm he would have fallen headlong to the floor.

“He’s done for!” cried Nick to Chick, over his shoulder.

Nick was right: one glance at the man’s death-swept face was enough.

In the awful stress of his horror, terror, and excitement, 221 Nathan Godard had ruptured an artery of his brain.

The rest, involving the subsequent fortunes of those who have figured in these pages, may be briefly and simply told.

Godard died within an hour, without regaining consciousness, and thus cheated human justice, only to meet at a divine tribunal the punishment he deserved.

From Belle Braddon, however, whom fear of punishment now drove to a confession, the facts were obtained that fully established Godard’s guilt.

He had left the faro-bank just after seeing Kendall win the ninety thousand dollars, and when the latter emerged Godard shadowed him to Fordham.

As Nick Carter had shrewdly reasoned, Kendall went to peer through the library window before entering the rectory. Godard, meantime, had seen Flood arrive and hitch his team at the rear gate, putting his heavy cane in the body of the buggy.

Flood, however, wishing to see Dora Royal alone, had not gone directly to that side of the house on which the crime was committed, but had passed slowly around it, in the hope of attracting her attention from one of the windows.

Godard, meantime, secured Flood’s cane, waylaid and 222 killed Kendall, then made off with the satchel of money, afterward concealing the cane in the brushwood, that the crime might be charged to Flood.

The latter, upon coming around the house, had seen only Harry Royal, with the results already set forth.

Belle Braddon did not for her confession, however, escape punishment for her evil doings. Nick promptly placed her under arrest, as an accessory after the crime, as well as for the attempt upon his life, and she ultimately received her just deserts.

When the heroic part that Moses Flood had played in behalf of the Royals was fully made known to the rector, he did precisely what Nick Carter anticipated. Upon Flood’s renunciation of his business, which had been entirely voluntary, Doctor Royal forgave the past and accepted him as his daughter’s suitor.

Flood went abroad for six months, returning as the American representative of one of the largest silk concerns in France, and he and Dora Royal were married that year, establishing themselves in a fine West End Avenue residence. The two houses, which were sad reminders of his past, Flood sold to the best advantage, and gave the entire proceeds to charity.

The love and gratitude of the happy couple for Nick 223 Carter may be easily imagined, and both were numbered among Nick’s dearest friends.

The great detective frequently said of Flood in after years, when recalling the incidents here depicted:

“He certainly was the prince of gamesters!”

And certainly it seems to be a good safe wager that Nick Carter, as usual, was entirely right.




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395—A Kentucky Moonshiner By Inspector Stark
394—Playing for a Fortune By Nicholas Carter
393—The Convent Mystery By John K. Stafford
392—With Links of Steel By Nicholas Carter

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