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The Mystery of St. Agnes' Hospital

by Nicholas Carter

 

 

CHAPTER I.

LAWRENCE DEEVER DEMANDS JUSTICE.

 

"I call it a perfectly plain case, Mr. Colton."

"A case of what?"

"Why, murder, of course."

"Who has been murdered?"

As "Mr. Colton"—who was no other than Nick Carter—asked this question, his face looked as innocent as a babe's. He seemed surprised to hear that there had been a murder, though his companion, Lawrence Deever, had been saying so repeatedly during the last half hour.

Deever now looked at Nick with eyes and mouth wide open.

"Who has been murdered?" he repeated. "My brother has been murdered."

"What makes you think so?" asked Nick, calmly.

"What, indeed!" exclaimed Deever. "I have told you already."

"No, you haven't. You have told me that your brother has been missing since night before last."

"I told you more than that," cried Deever. "He is known to have quarreled with that man Jarvis."

"Dr. Jarvis, of St. Agnes' Hospital?"

"Of course. And I have proved—"

"You have proved nothing," said Nick. "Let me repeat your statements:

"Your brother Patrick worked for Dr. Jarvis, or under his direction, in the garden of St. Agnes' Hospital. The doctor frequently remonstrated with Patrick for drinking too much whisky, and—"

"Remonstrated!" exclaimed Deever. "That's hardly the word for it. He abused the lad. He struck him half a dozen times during the last week."

"With the flat of his hand," said Nick, smiling. "That is hardly the foundation for a charge of murder."

"It shows that Jarvis is a violent man," said Deever, "and everybody knows that he is."

"He has a bad temper, I will admit."

"He's a dangerous old crank."

"Well, to continue your statement of the case, late on Monday afternoon they were heard quarreling in the garden. They were seen there about half-past six o'clock.

"A little after half-past seven the doctor was seen coming toward the hospital. He was greatly excited. He passed Martin Burns, who drives the hospital ambulance.

"Martin went into the garden and failed to find Patrick. Nobody can tell what became of your brother or how he got out of the garden."

"Yes; that's the point," Deever cried. "How did he get out?"

"He may have climbed over the wall."

"You've forgotten that his coat, with a little money in the pocket, was found hanging on the limb of a tree."

"No, I did not forget that."

"Well, why did he leave it?"

"I don't pretend to know."

"And what has become of him?"

"There, again, I shall have to find out the facts before I answer."

"I tell you he was murdered."

"Now," said Nick, smiling again, "I shall have to turn your own question against yourself: If he was murdered, what's become of him?"

"You mean where's his body?"

"Exactly."

"But do you mean to tell me," cried Deever, indignantly, "that if this man has hidden my brother's body so that nobody can find it he will escape punishment for his crime?"

"Nothing of the sort," Nick replied. "I only wish to curb your impatience."

"I'm not more impatient than any man in my situation ought to be. I simply demand justice."

"Or, in other words—"

"I want you to arrest Dr. Jarvis."

"I can't do it."

"Why not?"

"We must have some sort of proof that your brother is dead. We can't try a man for the murder of somebody who may be alive for all we know."

"You seem to be working in Jarvis' interest," said Deever, with a sneer.

"Not a bit of it. You know why I am here in your house."

"Because Superintendent Byrnes sent you; and I supposed that he had sent a good man. He promised the best."

"Well, that ought to satisfy you."

"There was no need of sending anybody. We might have arrested Jarvis at once. Any ordinary policeman could have got evidence enough to convict."

"But the superintendent did not think so."

"No; and I'm willing he should work in his own way, so long as I get justice in the end. Now, what do you want?"

"Well," said Nick, appearing to consider the subject deeply, "I would like some evidence of a motive."

"I don't believe there was any motive. The thing was done in anger."

"Then I want evidence of a really serious quarrel."

"Very well; you wait right here, and I'll bring a man who knows something about it. I heard of him this morning, and had time to ask him a few questions, but I don't know all he has to tell."

Deever hastily left the room. From the window Nick saw Deever pass up West One Hundred and Forty-third street, on which the house stood. He was going in the direction of St. Nicholas avenue.

In less than an hour he returned with a young man whom he presented as the important witness for whom he had been in search.

"Your name is Adolf Klein?" said Nick.

The witness nodded. He was a bashful, awkward fellow, who did not seem to be possessed of the average intelligence.

"Where do you work?" was the next question.

"I'm a bartender in Orton's saloon, up on the avenue."

"Do you know what has become of Patrick Deever?"

"All I know is this: I was passing the grounds of the hospital Monday evening and stopped just by the wall. The reason I stopped was that I heard Pat Deever inside, talking very loud. He called somebody an old fool and swore at him."

The witness paused. He seemed to be a good deal excited. It was not very warm in the room, but the perspiration was pouring off of Klein's forehead.

"Was that all you heard?" asked Nick.

"No; I heard more hard talk, and then a blow was struck. It sounded heavy and dull. Then came more blows. Somebody seemed to be pounding. It sounded as if he was pounding on the ground, and if it hadn't been for the loud talk just before, I'd have thought that Pat was smoothing down a flower-bed with his spade."

"Did you hear any talking after the blow?"

"I didn't hear Pat's voice again."

"Did you hear any voice?"

"I heard somebody muttering. The voice sounded like Dr. Jarvis'. I've been to the hospital, and I know the doctor."

"Did you look over the wall?"

"No; it's too high there. I ran around to the gate on St. Nicholas avenue and tried to see in; but I couldn't. There were too many trees between me and the garden."

"Then what did you do?"

"I went home."

"Did you say anything about what you had heard?"

"Not that night."

"When did you first speak of it?"

"This morning."

"To whom?"

"To Mr. Deever. He was in the saloon, and he told me that his brother was missing."

"Well," cried Deever, who could keep silence no longer, "what do you think of that?"

"It is important evidence."

"You remember," Deever continued, "that when I went to ask Jarvis where my brother was, he admitted having quarreled with him, but said that it ended in words. Now we know that it ended in blows."

"What time was it when you heard that blow?" asked Nick of Klein.

"Must have been about half-past seven," Klein replied.

"How do you know?"

"When I walked up the avenue I saw the clock on the church up by One Hundred and Fiftieth street. It was a quarter of eight."

"That fits the case exactly," Deever exclaimed. "It was a little after half-past seven when Burns saw Jarvis coming in from the garden."

"That is true."

"Will you arrest Jarvis now?"

"I will not," said Nick. "The evidence is not yet sufficient."

Deever made an impatient gesture.

"Remember," said Nick, "that an accusation of murder leaves an indelible stain. We cannot move too carefully."

"You will let him escape."

"His escape is utterly impossible," said Nick. "He is watched."

"A good many men have been watched and have got away."

"Nobody ever got away from the man who is watching Jarvis," said Nick, quietly; and that praise was not too high, for the person in question was Nick's famous assistant, Chick.

"And now," said Deever, "may I ask what more you need in the way of evidence?"

"I need proof of your brother's death."

"In short, we must find the body."

"Exactly."

"Very well," sneered Deever, "I suppose I must do it myself. I've got nearly all the evidence thus far."

"By all means do it," said Nick, with his calm smile, "if you can."

Deever stared at him for more than a minute without speaking. Then he said:

"Colton, why do you treat this case as you do?"

"What do you mean?"

"You don't seem to want to go ahead with it."

"I don't want to go ahead with it any faster than the facts will justify. If you had had more experience in such matters you would know the folly of arresting a man first and getting facts to warrant the arrest afterward. As I say, I want more facts, and you must help me to get them."

The last part of this conversation was held as Nick, Deever and Klein passed out upon the street.

A ragged young man who was leaning against a tree heard it, and was much surprised.

For the ragged young man was Patsy, and he had never heard Nick Carter ask anybody except his regular assistants to help him in that way before.

 

 

CHAPTER II.

THE DEAD MAN'S HEAD.

 

Dr. Jarvis, chief of the staff of St. Agnes' Hospital, was well known as a peculiar man.

He was rich enough to take his leisure, but he worked like a slave. He had an elegant house on St. Nicholas avenue, but he spent all his days and more than half his nights at the hospital.

A rude cot in a little room adjoining his laboratory in the hospital was his bed four nights in seven on the average. His only recreation was found in the care of a little garden in the hospital grounds; and it was the common talk of the younger physicians that Dr. Jarvis enjoyed finding fault with the gardener more than he did cultivating the flowers.

He had a wife and a young, unmarried daughter, whom he loved devotedly, but to whom he gave only a few hours of his time in the course of a week.

A negro named Caesar Augustus Cleary was the doctor's assistant in the laboratory.

The other physicians in the hospital said that Cleary had become so accustomed to Jarvis' ways that, like a Mississippi mule, he had to be cursed before he could be made to understand anything.

Cleary slept in a little closet similar to the doctor's, and on the opposite side of the laboratory. He was asleep there, about twelve o'clock on the night after Nick's visit to Lawrence Deever, when Nick crept softly through the window.

All these rooms were on the ground floor and entrance was easy.

Nick had spent a part of the evening in the garden. He had watched till the light went out in the laboratory and another appeared in the doctor's bed-room. Then he was ready for a search of the premises.

If, in a moment of anger, Dr. Jarvis had struck Patrick Deever and killed him, it was likely that the laboratory would hold some trace of the secret.

The best way to hide a human body is to utterly destroy it. This is no easy task for an ordinary man, but to a scientist, like Dr. Jarvis, it would be comparatively easy.

However, it would take time. Patrick Deever had disappeared on Monday night. Forty-eight hours had elapsed, but yet Nick hoped to find a trace, if the work of destruction had been attempted in the laboratory.

Nick had entered Cleary's room with the purpose of guarding against any interruption from the negro. He found Cleary sleeping heavily; but when Nick left the room and glided into the laboratory, Cleary's sleep was even deeper than it had been before.

An adept in chemistry, Nick knew how to produce a slumber from which no ordinary means could arouse the sleeper. His drug was sure and it left no bad effects.

The laboratory was unlighted, except by the moon, which shone in over the shutters, which covered the lower parts of the windows, preventing observation from without.

The first object which attracted Nick's attention was a corpse which lay upon a stone table in the middle of the room.

Nick had made a hasty search of the laboratory some hours before, while the doctor had been at dinner. He had then seen this corpse, and had assured himself that it was not Patrick Deever's; but he had been unable to do much more before the doctor returned. Therefore, he had made this late visit.

He first examined some instruments which lay near the dissecting-table. They revealed nothing. Then for perhaps half an hour, he searched various parts of the room without result.

Beneath the laboratory was a cellar in which, as Nick knew, were electric apparatus and a furnace which the doctor used for his experiments.

Nick was about to descend into this cellar when a noise in the direction of the doctor's room attracted his attention.

He turned and beheld Dr. Jarvis entering the laboratory.

Realizing the possibility of such an event, Nick had disguised himself as Cleary, yet he wished to avoid being seen if possible.

He got into the darkest corner available and watched.

Dr. Jarvis had on only his night-shirt, a skull-cap and a peculiar red dressing-gown, which he wore whenever he worked in the laboratory or in the garden. This dressing-gown and the queer red skull-cap were so old that nobody about the hospital could remember when they had been new. Cleary once said that he believed they were born and grew up with the doctor.

Without noticing Nick, Dr. Jarvis advanced directly toward the dissecting-table. He had no light, but the moon's rays glanced brightly around the slab.

The doctor drew back the sheet which covered the figure, revealing the head and naked breast.

Then he drew some instruments from a case, and proceeded to sever the head from the body.

This secret action in the dead of night surprised Nick greatly. Could it be that some clever trick had been accomplished? Had the body which Nick had seen been removed, and that of Patrick Deever substituted?

From where he stood Nick could not see the face of the body clearly enough to form a decision. If, however, this was only an ordinary subject for the dissecting-table, why did Dr. Jarvis mutilate it with such caution and at such an hour?

To cut off the head was the work of a very few minutes to the skillful physician.

He soon held it in his hands; and it seemed to Nick that the old physician gazed at it with peculiar attention in the moonlight.

Suddenly Dr. Jarvis turned, and, carrying the head in one hand, holding it by the hair, he advanced toward Nick. In his other hand the doctor held a knife which he had used in his ghastly work.

Nick had little hopes of escaping discovery. Evidently it was the doctor's intention to carry the head into the cellar, and the detective was concealed close by the stairs.

But Nick was not discovered. Dr. Jarvis stalked by, within six feet of him, and looked neither to the right nor to the left.

Still bearing the head, he descended the stairs, and Nick crept after him.

The cellar was perfectly dark except where a faint glow around the little furnace could be perceived. Nick was therefore able to follow the doctor closely.

But suddenly the place was made light. Dr. Jarvis had touched a button in the wall, and a row of electric lights, suspended before the furnace, flashed up.

Nick had barely time to drop flat on the floor behind a row of great glass jars full of clear fluid, the nature of which he could not determine.

These jars were set upon a sort of bench made of stone, rising about two feet from the floor. Between them and the furnace stood the doctor. Nick was on the other side.

It seemed tolerably certain to the detective that Dr. Jarvis would throw the head into the furnace. Nick determined to get a sight of the head at once. He was yet uncertain whether it was Patrick Deever's.

Rising on his hands and knees he peered between two of the jars. The head was not more than a yard from Nick's eyes, but the face was turned away.

By the hair, and the general outline, it might be Deever's. At all hazards Nick must get a sight of it before it was consigned to the furnace in which a fire, supported by peculiar chemical agencies and much hotter than burning coal, raged furiously.

Suddenly, when it seemed as if the doctor was about to raise an arch of fire-brick in order to throw the head into the fire, he turned and dropped the grim object into the jar almost directly above Nick's head.

It was carefully done, though quickly. The head sank without a splash. Only a single drop of the fluid—a drop no bigger than a pin's point—fell upon the back of Nick's hand.

It burned like white, hot iron. It seemed to sink through the hand upon which it fell.

Nick sprang to his feet, not because of the pain of the burning acid, but because he knew that he must instantly obtain a sight of the head or it would be dissolved.

It lay face upward in the jar, but the acid, even in that instant, had done its work.

All semblance to humanity had vanished. As Nick gazed, the head seemed to waver in the midst of the strange fluid, and then, suddenly, Nick saw, in a direct line where it had been, the bottom of the jar.

The head had been dissolved.

Nick raised his eyes to Dr. Jarvis' face.

There stood the doctor, entirely unmoved. He looked directly at Nick but seemed not to see him.

His eyes were fixed, and their expression was peculiar. One less experienced than Nick would have supposed Dr. Jarvis to be insane.

Certainly his conduct as well as his appearance seemed to justify such a

But Nick knew better. He recognized at once the peculiar condition in which Dr. Jarvis then was. He had seen the phenomenon before.

"Walking in his sleep," Nick said to himself. "Shall I wake him here? I think not. Let me see what he will do."

 

 

CHAPTER III.

THE DOCTOR OFFERS A BRIBE.

 

Nick was not greatly surprised by his discovery. He knew that Dr. Jarvis was a sleep-walker.

The reader may remember the case of a young woman who, in her sleep, walked nearly a mile on Broadway, and was awakened by a policeman to whom she could give no account of her wanderings.

At that time, the newspapers had a good deal to say about sleep-walking, and several good stories were printed about Dr. Jarvis. The doctor was sensitive on the subject, and he had threatened the most dreadful vengeance if he ever found out who had betrayed his secret to the reporters.

These stories came into Nick's mind at once. He decided to witness this strange scene to the end.

There was, however, little more to be observed. The doctor extinguished the lights and ascended the stairs.

He paused a moment beside the mutilated body; put away his knife, drew the cloth over the corpse, and then turned toward his room.

Nick followed, and entered the room close behind the somnambulist. It is sometimes possible to question a person in that condition, and to learn what he would not disclose when awake.

Some such intention was in Nick's mind, but he had no opportunity of executing it. The doctor walked to the window, of which the shade was drawn. Accidentally he touched the cord, and the shade, which worked with a spring, shot up, making a loud noise.

With a peculiar, hoarse cry, the doctor awoke. He exhibited the nervous terror common at such times. He jumped back from the window, and turned toward the bed.

Nick, disguised as Cleary, stood directly before him. It was impossible to avoid discovery. The moonlight flooded the room.

"Cleary!" cried the doctor, "why are you here?"

"I heard you moving about, sir," replied Nick, imitating Cleary's voice which had very little of the ordinary peculiarities of the negro. Indeed, he was an educated man.

"Walking in my sleep again," muttered the doctor. "And such dreams! Great Heaven! such dreams!"

"I thought you must have had a bad nightmare," said Nick.

"I have. It was dreadful."

The doctor pressed his hands to his head.

"What did you dream, sir?"

"What business is that of yours, you infernal, inquisitive rascal?"

"Well, sir," said Nick, respectfully, "I thought from what you did—"

"Did? What did I do?"

Nick very briefly described the scene which he had witnessed.

Dr. Jarvis seemed overcome with horror.

"Is it possible?" he cried.

Then suddenly he turned and hurried out into the laboratory. He went straight to the corpse upon the slab of stone, and drew back the cloth.

Nick followed, and together they gazed upon the mutilated body. It seemed to Nick that it was the same which he had seen before, and which he had known to be not that of Patrick Deever. But in the uncertain light he could not be certain.

Dr. Jarvis gave him little time for making his decision.

He hastily replaced the cloth, shuddering convulsively as he did so. Then he returned to his room.

He sat down upon the edge of his cot, and held his head in his hands. When he looked up his violent mood had passed away. He seemed to wish to talk.

"It was a hideous dream," he said.

"Murder?" asked Nick.

"There was murder in it," replied the doctor. "I thought that I had killed—that I had killed a man."

"Patrick Deever?"

"How the devil did you know that?" cried the doctor, springing to his feet.

"Well, sir, the man has disappeared, and—"

"And somebody has been filling your head with foolish stories. Who was it?"

"Mr. Deever was asking some questions about his brother."

"And you told him everything you knew, and a good deal more, I suppose?"

"I didn't tell him anything."

"It's lucky for you that you didn't. Now, look here, Cleary, you know where your interest lies. Don't you lose a good job by talking too much."

"No, sir; I won't. But there's something in dreams, and—"

"There was agony in this one. I thought that I had killed Deever, and was obliged to hide his body. I felt that the police were close upon me.

"It seemed as if I had only one night in which to make myself safe. I thought first of burning the body in the furnace. Then it seemed best to use the acid. Heavens, I am glad to be awake again!"

"Such a dream as that means something, sir."

"It means this—that miserable, drunken rascal has disappeared, and I am likely to have trouble about it."

"He'll come back."

"I don't know about that. Perhaps he won't come back."

"Have you any idea where he is, sir?"

"Do you think I killed him, Cleary?"

"No, sir; certainly not."

"But suppose I did? What then?"

"Well, sir; it's a terrible thing. I—"

"Would you betray me?"

"I would not say a word unless I was sure that you were guilty."

"Even then, why should you speak?"

"There's a conscience, and—"

"Nonsense! What business is it of yours? Now look here; you think a good deal more about money than you do about your conscience. I've got money, and I'm willing to pay well to keep out of trouble."

"But I don't want to get into any."

"You won't. All you've got to do is to keep still."

"Keep still about what, sir?"

"This sleep-walking to-night."

"I won't say a word, unless—"

Nick hesitated. He wished to give the doctor the impression that his innocence was by no means clear, and that the idea of shielding a murderer was not to be entertained.

His acting was evidently successful.

"Look here, Cleary," said the doctor, "I don't trust you. There's just one thing that will satisfy me. You must get away."

The doctor was trembling violently. Evidently fear had taken possession of him.

"Get away?" asked Nick, as if surprised.

"Yes; I'm afraid of you. You will talk."

"But where shall I go?"

"Go to Australia," said Dr. Jarvis, after a moment's reflection. "You have no family. It makes no difference to you where you go, so long as you have money."

"How much money?"

"In that safe," said the doctor, pointing to a steel box in the corner, "there is enough to start you. I have about five thousand dollars in cash there, and I will send ten times as much more after you. Is that enough?"

"You take my breath away," said Nick. "When must I go?"

"At once; to-night."

"But, Dr. Jarvis—"

"Don't talk. Do it. If fifty thousand dollars isn't enough, you shall have a hundred thousand within six months."

"How do I know that you will send it?"

"If I don't, come back and denounce me."

"But how will you explain my going?"

"I will say that you have gone to Europe for me as you did go three years ago."

Nick shook his head.

"Dr. Jarvis," said he, "I've worked for you twenty years, and I think as much of you as of any man living, but I can't do this."

"Why not?"

"I can't shield a guilty man."

"Nonsense, you idiot; I am as innocent as you are."

"Then why do you send me away? No, Dr. Jarvis, this is plain to me. You killed him."

"I killed him?" cried the doctor.

"Yes; but you are not a murderer at heart. Some accident led to this. Tell me how it happened, and if it is as I think, I will go."

"I tell you I am innocent. I had nothing to do with this man's disappearance."

Despite all Nick's ingenuity, Dr. Jarvis stuck to this assertion. There was nothing left for Nick, in the character of Cleary, except to pretend to believe it.

He resolved to accept the doctor's bribe. This was almost necessary, for in any case he would be obliged to remove Cleary.

After this conversation, it would not be safe to leave the negro there. The doctor would, of course, discover that some trick had been played upon him as soon as he mentioned the events of the night to Cleary.

The results which would follow such a discovery Nick wished to avoid.

He, therefore, with great caution, accepted the proposal, and received a large sum as the first installment of the blackmail.

As to the doctor's real intentions, Nick was in some doubt. It seemed probable that he meant to sacrifice Cleary to secure his own safety in case it became necessary.

If Cleary ran away, it would be easy to divert suspicion to him.

The case against Dr. Jarvis looked very plain. Innocent men do not take such desperate measures. And yet Nick was far from reaching a definite opinion in the case.

He returned to Cleary's room; and it required a good deal of skill to keep the doctor out of it. If he had entered, and had seen two Cleary's, it is hard to say what desperation would have led him to do.

For an instant Nick had an idea of letting him do it, and then attempt to secure a true statement of the case with the aid of the shock which the doctor would have sustained on discovering how he had been duped.

But second thought showed him the necessity for a different procedure.

From Cleary's window he signaled for Chick, who was in waiting near the wall, and to him he delivered the unconscious form of the negro.

Then he returned to take his leave of the doctor—a difficult business, which he managed with great skill.

This done, he secretly left the hospital.

What had been the true meaning of the night's events? It puzzled him to say.

Was the body on the slab that of Patrick Deever, or had the doctor gone through in his sleep the act which he intended to perform later with the real body?

Nick thought that the latter was more probable. He was inclined to believe that the body of Deever might be concealed about the building. If so, he would find it.

Reflecting thus, he passed outside the hospital walls.

Three men were approaching along St. Nicholas avenue. Two of these he quickly recognized as Chick and Lawrence Deever. The other was unknown to him.

Evidently Chick had sent Cleary away in a carriage which they had kept waiting near the hospital during the evening. How he had met Deever, Nick could not guess.

He went forward to meet the three men.

He had removed the disguise in which he had deceived the doctor, and was now as Deever had seen him before.

Deever recognized him at once, and started forward, saying:

"You ask for proof of my brother's death. I will give it to you. Here is a man who saw him buried."

And he pointed to the stranger.

 

 

CHAPTER IV.

WHAT WAS FOUND IN THIS GARDEN.

 

Nick received Deever's startling intelligence with every evidence of satisfaction.

"You are doing great work, Mr. Deever," said he. "We shall soon have this affair straightened out."

As Nick pronounced these words he signaled to Chick in their sign language as follows:

"What do you think of this witness?"

Chick promptly returned the answer:

"He seems to be telling the truth."

Then Deever turned toward the new witness.

"Mr. Haskell, Mr. Colton," said he, in hasty introduction. "Now, Haskell, tell what you know."

"Wait," said Nick, "who is this man?" And he pointed to Chick.

"He's a fellow that knows my brother. We met him just below, and brought him along to help in the identification. There are two more coming."

"Then you purpose to disinter your brother's body at once?"

"Of course I do."

"You have no tools."

"The others will bring them. That's what they're after."

"Where is the place?"

"The hospital garden. Haskell, tell your story. But, no; I'll tell it for you to save time."

He took Nick by the arm and led him along the hospital wall on the southern side of the ground. They followed the wall in the direction of the river, until they came to the corner.

Between them and the river was a large piece of ground nearly as wild in appearance as it was a hundred years ago. Many trees and bushes grew upon it.

"This place," said Deever, "is a sort of lovers' walk. Any pleasant evening in summer you can see dozens of couples walking down that path.

"Haskell was here Monday evening with a young lady. They sat for a while on the trunk of a fallen tree, looking off toward the river.

"It was nearly eleven o'clock when Haskell walked home with her. Then he discovered that he had lost his knife. He had been whittling the tree-trunk with it.

"It was a good knife, and he thought it worth while to go back and try to find it. He went back, and after quite a hunt, found it beside the tree.

"By this time it was after midnight. On his way home he passed the spot where we are now standing.

"Just as he got here, he heard a peculiar noise on the other side of the wall. It seemed strange that anybody should be at work in the garden at that hour, but the sound was as if somebody was using a shovel.

"Haskell has more curiosity than a woman. He resolved to find out what was going on inside that garden.

"The wall here is pretty high, as you see, but with the help of a piece of board he climbed up so that he could look over. Now, Haskell, tell us just what you saw."

Chick and Haskell had come up just as Deever finished his introduction to the story.

"I saw Dr. Jarvis digging," said Haskell.

"How did you know it was he?" asked Nick.

"He had on his dressing-gown and cap," Haskell replied. "I guess pretty near everybody who lives up this way knows those things."

"What did you do?"

"I watched him a couple of minutes. He seemed to be hard at work digging a hole. I never thought then that it was a grave."

"Could you see how big a hole he was making?"

"No; he was under the shadow of the trees. I could hardly see him at all there, but just as I got on the top of the wall, he came out for a second or two into the moonlight. Then I saw the old cap and dressing-gown."

"Did you see any object lying upon the ground which looked like a body?"

"No; it was dark under the tree. The body was probably there."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, it couldn't have been anywhere else."

"How do you know there was any body ?"

"Mr. Deever has told me about his brother. I take it for granted that the doctor was burying him."

"Did you tell anybody about this occurrence?"

"No."

"Why not? It was strange enough."

"I didn't think it was strange for him. Everybody knows that the doctor is a sort of crank. When I saw who it was, I just slid down off the wall and went home. I never would have thought of it again if Mr. Deever hadn't spoken to me about his brother."

"You can point out the spot where the doctor was digging?"

"Sure."

"We will make an examination at once."

"I thought you'd find out that murder had been done," said Deever. "You'll find out, if you stick to me, that I pretty generally know what I'm talking about."

"That's right," said Haskell.

"Here come your friends," said Chick, who had not spoken up to that time.

Two men were seen coming from St. Nicholas avenue. They carried spades and pickaxes.

Thus reinforced, the party proceeded to scale the wall. Just as they did so, the moon, which had been very bright, was obscured by a heavy cloud.

It was in darkness, then, that they descended into the garden.

But Haskell seemed to be in doubt about the direction to be followed. He started off at once.

They had gone less than a hundred feet when suddenly Haskell shrank back. Deever, who was next to him, ran against him violently.

"What's the matter?" whispered Deever, in an anxious tone.

"There's somebody here ahead of us."

All looked where Haskell pointed, and they were able to make out the figure of a man standing in one of the numerous paths which wound through the garden. He appeared not to have noticed the advancing party.

"He isn't ten feet from the grave," whispered Haskell. "It's under that tree right beside him."

At this moment the moon broke through the cloud. Its light fell round the figure in the path.

It was Dr. Jarvis.

Nick's first thought was that this was another sleep-walking wonder, but in a second this idea was dispelled.

The doctor saw the intruders. He uttered an exclamation, and seemed about to retreat in the direction of the hospital. Then summoning up his courage, he paused, and confronted them as they came forward.

"Who are you?" he asked, in a trembling voice.

"I'll soon show you who I am?" cried Deever, angrily, "and I'll show these gentlemen what you are, in a few minutes."

"Lawrence Deever!" cried the doctor.

"Yes; I'm Lawrence Deever," was the reply, "and I've come to find my brother."

"You are a fool and a knave," the doctor exclaimed. "Your brother is not here."

"We'll see about that."

"I order you to leave this garden."

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said Nick, stepping forward. "I have the proper authority, and what we shall do here will not harm you."

In a few words he showed Dr. Jarvis the futility of resistance. Nick explained in a few words the evidence of Haskell, and made no attempt to conceal its true bearing upon the case.

He spoke with his customary calm and steady tone, and his words seemed to reassure the doctor.

"The fellow is a liar and the tool of a liar," said the doctor, glaring at Deever. "I shall challenge you to find that body in this garden."

"It's here, unless you've taken it away," said Deever, roughly. "Now, Haskell, show us the spot, and we'll go to work."

Thus urged, Haskell, who had hung back, as if afraid, stepped forward with no sign of hesitation, and pointed to the ground under one of the trees.

"He was at work just under this long limb," said Haskell.

Nick bent down to examine the ground. It was a flower-bed which looked as if it had recently been sown.

The spot was excellently chosen for concealment. It was impossible to tell whether the earth there had recently been disturbed.

Deever seized a spade and began to dig. He was a man of enormous strength, and he worked furiously.

The two men who had brought the tools joined in the work, but they did less than half as much as Deever alone.

In an incredibly short time the hole was four feet deep. Then Nick suggested that they proceed with greater caution.

"The body," he said, "was probably buried without protection. If you strike it with your spades you may increase the difficulty of identification."

Thus warned, Deever's two assistants worked with care, but Deever himself continued to ply his spade like a madman.

Not knowing the exact spot, they dug a hole much larger than a grave, and thus the three men were able to work at the same time with advantage.

Suddenly Deever cried:

"Here it is!"

His spade had struck something more solid than the soft earth.

All sprang forward, and the doctor uttered a cry as of terror.

Hastily the earth was removed from the buried object, until it could be lifted to the surface.

Chick stepped forward, and brushed the last of the earth from the face with his handkerchief. Then it was dragged to where the moon shone full upon it.

A murmur arose from the little party. The face of the dead man was cut and mangled with many wounds.

"It's Pat," said one of those who had assisted in the digging. "There's no doubt about it."

"Yes," said Haskell, who was shivering with fear, "I recognize the clothes he had on."

"He's got no coat," said one of the men; "where's that?"

"It was hanging on a tree in this garden," said Deever.

Then he bent forward over the corpse, and took from around the neck a string to which a little cheap locket was attached.

"He always wore that, poor boy," said one of the men.

Deever turned to where Dr. Jarvis stood. The face of the doctor was whiter than paper, as the moon shone down upon it.

"What do you say now, Jarvis?" said Deever, coldly. "Do you confess your crime?"

The doctor recovered himself with a mighty effort.

"No," he cried. "I deny all responsibility for this man's death."

 

 

CHAPTER V.

THE BODY ON THE SLAB.

 

Nobody seemed to be much impressed by Jarvis' declaration of innocence.

The finding of the body in the exact spot indicated by Haskell looked like conclusive proof. Added to this was the doctor's presence beside the grave in the dead of night.

"It's a plain case," said Deever, turning toward Nick. "Will you make the arrest now?"

Dr. Jarvis shuddered as these words were spoken. It was easy to see that he was on the verge of despair.

"Let's not go too fast," said Nick.

"What stronger proof can you possibly desire?" exclaimed Deever.

He seemed to be dazed with surprise at Nick's delay, but Dr. Jarvis plucked up his courage.

"I wish first to examine the body," said Nick.

He bent over the corpse which lay in the bright moonlight. The cause of death was evident at a glance. The head had been beaten and cut in a frightful manner.

"See," said Deever, bending over the body, "these wounds were made with a spade."

"They have that appearance," said Nick.

"Why, it's as plain as the nose on your face," exclaimed Deever, utterly losing patience.

He seized a spade from the ground and applied it to the wounds.

"The first blow, the one which killed him," said Deever, "was struck with the side of the spade on the top of the poor boy's head. It was a terrible blow."

Nick examined the wound. It was plain that no person could live a minute after receiving such a fearful injury.

"The other blows," Deever continued, "were some of them made with the side, and some with the tip of the spade.

"I can see just how it happened. Pat angered Jarvis with the words that Klein heard. Jarvis rushed upon him, knocked him down with the spade, and then beat him like a maniac in his rage."

"And then buried him, eh?" said Nick, in a doubtful voice.

Chick looked inquiringly at his chief. He had never seen Nick conduct a case in that way before.

Instead of taking the lead in the investigation, the great detective seemed to wait for suggestions. After his first glance at the body, he had stood irresolute, as if he could not make up his mind about the value of the evidence.

This conduct of his chief interested Chick deeply.

"Watch Nick Carter," he said to himself, "and you'll always be learning something."

"Of course he didn't bury him then," Deever replied to Nick's question. "Haskell saw him digging the grave after midnight."

"Where do you suppose your brother's body was in the meantime?" asked Nick.

"Hidden in the garden somewhere."

Nick shook his head.

"There is no place in the garden where it could have been hidden. I have searched the place thoroughly."

"He may have taken it into the hospital; into his laboratory, perhaps."

"That can't be," said Nick. "You remember that Burns met the doctor coming in from the garden. If he had already brought in the body he wouldn't have come out again. On the other hand, the body couldn't have been in the garden, or Burns would have seen it. He looked all around for your brother."

For the first time Deever looked puzzled. He hesitated a long time before he replied. Then he said:

"Jarvis must have thrown Pat's body over the wall. He must have hidden it among the bushes in the direction of the river."

"Yes," Nick rejoined; "that seems probable."

"Well," cried Deever, "will you make the arrest?"

"I think not. The evidence does not seem to warrant it."

Deever threw up his hands in utter amazement.

"Not sufficient!" he exclaimed. "What remains to be proved?"

"I should like some evidence bearing on the question where the body was hidden during the evening, and how it was got back to the garden."

"You don't mean to say that you will wait for that before taking this man into custody?"

"Yes," said Nick, slowly; "I shall wait for that."

"But, meanwhile, how will you guard against his escape?"

"I will take him back to the hospital, where one of my assistants is waiting. I will put him in charge of that officer, who will remain with him until I feel justified in taking him to headquarters."

"Then you practically put him under arrest," said Deever, with evident satisfaction.

"Yes; but it will not be known except to us who are here. I expect your friends to be silent for the present."

"I'll answer for them," said Deever. "I know them all well, except that man—where is that man?"

He looked around for Chick, but that individual had disappeared. He had caught a glance from Nick when the latter had spoken of his assistant at the hospital, and had immediately slipped away under the shadow of the trees.

"That fellow will give it away," cried Deever. "That's what he sneaked for. He'll sell the news to the papers."

"If he does we can't help it," said Nick. "And as for you, I judge that you would not be sorry if he did."

"You are right," said Deever, looking grimly at Dr. Jarvis, "the sooner this murderer is held up before the public the better I'll be pleased."

"I shall be sorry," said Nick, "and yet perhaps it will not make much difference. In the meantime we will do what we can to keep the secret on our part."

Deever chuckled. It was evident that he regarded the secret as already out, and that he was entirely satisfied.

"Now come with me," said Nick to Jarvis, "and you others wait for me here."

He led the doctor to his room in the hospital, where, of course, they found Chick, in a different disguise, waiting for them.

Jarvis acted like a man in a trance, he was so thoroughly overpowered by the horror of his situation. In his room, he seemed to forget the presence of the two detectives. He flung himself down upon his cot, and appeared to sink almost instantly into a stupor.

After a word or two with Chick, Nick made his way back to the little group around the dead body.

"Get a carriage up to the wall," said Nick, "and remove the corpse to your house. I will see a coroner, and get the necessary permit. I will be answerable for the removal in advance of the permit."

In spite of Deever's distrust of Nick, the great detective's manner, when he spoke with decision, was such as to secure instant obedience.

The body was carried to the wall; two men were left to guard it, while Deever, with Klein, went for the carriage.

Nick separated himself from the party. He did not go to see a coroner, however. He went to Lawrence Deever's house, which he entered secretly, and searched from top to bottom, but without finding anything of interest.

Then he went to his own house, where he waked Patsy.

"Go to Lawrence Deever's country-house near Nyack," he said to his youthful assistant. "Watch it, and see that no man leaves it."

Morning was breaking as Nick secretly entered St. Agnes' Hospital, and made his way to Dr. Jarvis' room.

He pushed the door open softly, believing that the doctor would be still asleep, and Chick on guard.

The room was empty.

Nick was at first amazed, and then he reflected that it was quite possible that some disclosure of the prisoner had led Chick to accompany him in search of evidence.

He passed out into the laboratory. It was darker at this hour of dawn than at midnight with the moonlight in it.

The sheeted figure still lay upon the slab. Was it a body obtained in the usual way, under the sanction of the law, or had it a criminal history? Nobody knew better than Nick the secrets that may lurk in the dissecting-room.

With such thoughts, he paused a moment beside the body. He was about to lift the sheet in order to satisfy some doubts which still lingered in his mind when he was attracted by a slight noise in the cellar.

He quickly stepped to the head of the stairs. Certainly there was some person below.

Nick cautiously descended the steps. The electric lights were not shining, but the furnace sent up a glow in which the surrounding objects were dimly visible.

The first of these objects to command Nick's attention was no other than the white face of Dr. Jarvis bending over the furnace.

He had removed some portion of the arch above the raging fire, and just as Nick's eye fell upon him, he put a human arm into the white flame.

In that fierce heat it was almost instantly consumed, and only the faintest smell of burning flesh escaped into the cellar.

The corpse from which the arm had been taken lay upon the floor. Nick could not see it plainly, but his heart leaped wildly.

There was but one explanation of Dr. Jarvis' conduct.

Under the cloth in the laboratory above, Nick had seen the outline of a body.

Whose, then, was this man giving to the flames?

It could not be any but Chick's!

Evidently the doctor had, by some fiendish trick, succeeded in overcoming his powerful watcher, and he was now removing all trace of the body, preparatory to his own flight to the ends of the earth.

The horror of this thought was almost too much for Nick's iron nerves.

If this was Chick's body, all human help was now vain.

What should be done to secure the most certain retribution?

Plainly the corpse, or what remained of it, must be recovered before the fire had completely made away with it.

Nick was about to leap forward, and interrupt the dreadful work which was in progress under his eyes, when suddenly a new inspiration came to him.

With a bound as noiseless as a tiger's, he was at the top of the stairs. In another instant he stood beside the sheeted form upon the slab.

He withdrew the cloth.

The body was Chick's.

 

 

CHAPTER VI.

THE LAST LINK IN THE CHAIN.

 

Nick's first glance at the body of Chick took a weight like a mountain of lead off his heart.

Chick was bound and gagged.

This was enough to make Nick certain that no serious harm had come to him, but he was instantly made aware of it in another way.

Cautiously Chick lifted an eyelid. A less acute observer than Nick would not have seen the movement.

The eye opened wide, and then it winked. Chick was all right.

"Shall I cut this rope?" asked Nick.

Chick spoke straight through the gag with very little trouble.

"It isn't necessary," he said. "I can get loose at any moment. Dr. Jarvis is not an expert at tying knots, though there are some other things that he understands pretty well."

"How did this happen?"

"It was a clever trick," said Chick. "He threw some kind of a drug into my face. If I hadn't known—thanks to your teaching long ago—just what to do in a case of that kind, I should have gone to sleep in a second.

"As it was, the drug made my head swim. But I kept it out of my lungs, and pulled through.

"Of course, I pretended to be unconscious, for I wanted to see what he would do. He tied me up rather clumsily; gagged me exceedingly well; and laid me on this slab, after removing a headless body.

"He went down into the cellar, and I slipped my bonds and followed him. I found him getting his furnace ready.

"Knowing what he would do, I got back to my downy couch here, pulled the bed-clothes over me, and waited.

"He came back and got the body of my predecessor and took it down cellar. Of course, he is burning it. Look out! He's coming!"

Chick quickly replaced the sheet.

Nick could see that beneath it Chick slid his hands again within the rope that had been used to bind him.

Then Nick sprang toward the door of the doctor's room, pushed out a case of instruments from the wall, and got behind it.

Dr. Jarvis went to Chick's side, lifted the sheet, and looked at the quiet face.

Then he felt of the rope, but it seemed to be tight.

He replaced the sheet, and came toward the door beside which Nick was concealed.

No sooner had Jarvis passed within the room than Nick came out of his hiding-place and followed the doctor.

Jarvis was engaged in putting a few articles into a small bag. His back was toward the door, but he heard Nick's entrance and turned quickly.

He sprang to his feet with a cry. Then his hands fell to his sides. He was the picture of despair.

"I see," said Nick, "you were preparing to run away."

Jarvis made no answer.

"That would have been the most foolish thing you could do," said Nick. "It would have been equivalent to confession."

"And why not?" groaned the doctor.

"Do you admit your guilt?"

"No, I do not," said Jarvis firmly; "but everything is against me."

"Well, we will consider that subject later. What did you intend to do with my friend yonder?"

He pointed through the open door toward Chick.

"Nothing," said Jarvis. "I intended simply to leave him there. He would not have been discovered till I had got a good start."

"I believe that you did not intend to injure him," said Nick. "I suppose he might as well get up now."

He uttered a peculiar call. Chick instantly sat up under the sheet. Then he threw it aside, got down from the slab, and advanced toward Nick and Jarvis, removing his gag and bonds as he did so.

Jarvis regarded this performance with wonder.

"You should take some lessons in tying knots," said Nick.

"And now," he continued, "we will take you to my house."

"Arrest me?"

"I would hardly call it by that name, unless you prefer it."

"But I am innocent."

"That question we will pass for the present. There is one link wanting in the chain of evidence against you. I shall supply that link, and then we will see what comes of it."

With a hasty movement, Dr. Jarvis took a little vial from his pocket, and raised it toward his lips.

But Nick had been watching. He struck the vial from the doctor's hand, and it went flying through the window.

"If you will give me your word of honor not to attempt suicide again," said Nick, calmly, "I will not handcuff you."

Jarvis hung his head.

"Your word will bind you for three days, no more," said Nick.

"I promise," said the doctor.

"Remove your dressing-gown and cap," said Nick.

Jarvis complied with the request, and Nick received the articles from his hands. Leaving the care of the prisoner to Chick, he carried the dressing-gown to the window.

"Ah!" said he, "you have torn the dressing-gown."

"Where?" asked the doctor.

"It is ripped under the arms," Nick replied, "and the cloth is strained beside each shoulder seam on the back."

"I was not aware of it," said Jarvis.

"Put it on again," said Nick, and the doctor obeyed.

Nick studied his figure carefully. He made Jarvis assume a number of positions, and at last seemed satisfied.

Chick was not possessed of the information to fully understand these maneuvers, but he knew by his chief's manner that the subject was of the first importance.

After the doctor had been clothed properly for the street he was taken to Nick's home in a closed carriage.

Then Nick and Chick had a few words in private.

"That last link which I spoke of," said Nick, "must be supplied by you."

Chick nodded.

"The land back of St. Agnes' Hospital, as you know is a sort of lovers' walk," Nick continued.

"It is."

"If the body of Patrick Deever was hidden there, and was removed to the garden by night, somebody may have seen it done."

"And that somebody," said Chick, "may not come forward without being urged."

"Right."

"I think I can manage it, if there is any witness. Of course, there may be none."

"I will bet you a dollar to a doughnut that such a witness appears whether you get him or not."

Chick looked hurt for a minute, and then he caught a gleam in Nick's eye.

"I begin to understand you," said he.

"Your plan," Nick went on, "is to circulate among the young men who whisper their love in the paths of that particular region. Find who was there on Monday night. It is not easy, but you can do it."

"I will get about it at once," said Chick.

After this conversation, Nick went to see Lawrence Deever.

"Poor Pat's body is in the house," said he, meeting Nick at the door; "but I have kept my promise to you."

"Nobody knows of it, then?"

"Not from me or any of my friends."

"That is as it should be."

"I begin to believe," said Deever, "your idea is to spring this thing on old Jarvis complete. Make the case iron-clad; tie him up double and twisted; and then let it come out in the papers."

His eyes shone with malignity.

"I was surprised," he continued, "to see nothing about it in the papers this morning. Why do you suppose that fellow skipped out of the garden? Who was he, anyway?"

"Didn't you know him?" said Nick, who always escaped a falsehood when he could.

"No, I didn't."

"He may have run away, because he couldn't stand that horrible sight any longer, and he may have been ashamed to confess that his nerves were so weak."

"Perhaps. It doesn't matter. What is to be done to-day?"

"The only evidence I now require," said Nick, "is something to show that your brother's body was hidden in the vacant lot and brought into the garden by Jarvis."

"Why do you need that? But never mind; I will see what can be done."

They separated then, and until evening Nick saw neither Deever nor Chick.

But about six o'clock he met Chick by appointment in Deever's house. Deever himself was not present.

Chick was accompanied by a young man and a pretty young woman.

He presented them as Margaret Allen and Henry Prescott. Both lived on One Hundred and Thirty-fifth street, Prescott in a boarding-house and Margaret with her father.

By the secret sign Chick communicated his belief—founded, of course, upon investigations which he had made—that Prescott and Miss Allen were present to give true testimony.

"These two witnesses," said he, in conclusion, "will supply the only link in the chain which has been missing up to this time."

 

 

CHAPTER VII.

THE MAN WITH THE SACK.

 

"I will have your story first," said Nick to Prescott. "I will not subject Miss Allen to the annoyance of questioning, unless it is necessary."

"We are engaged to be married," said Prescott, beginning his story with evident embarrassment.

"And the course of true love does not run smooth," said Nick, with a smile.

"No, it does not," responded Prescott. "Her father is strongly opposed to our marriage. However, as both of us are of age, it will take place.

"We have been obliged to meet secretly, and we have frequently walked, in the evening, in the grove back of St. Agnes' Hospital.

"We were there Monday evening, and we remained much later than we should have done. We had many things to talk about.

"It must have been midnight when we left the place. As we were walking slowly up one of the paths we became aware that a man was approaching from behind us.

"Not wishing to be seen, we stepped aside among the trees and waited.

"The man came on up the path, and by the moonlight which struggled through the branches of the trees we saw that he was carrying a great sack.

"I instantly suspected that some crime was afoot. My first thought was that this was a grave-robber carrying a body.

"I supposed that he had brought the body to the shore of the river in a boat, and was carrying it to one of the doctors in the hospital.

"We allowed him to pass us, and then we followed him. He went to the wall surrounding the hospital grounds.

"Choosing a place where there is a bank of rubbish against the wall, he lifted the sack to the top. Then I knew that it could not contain a dead body."

"How did you know that?" asked Nick.

"Because he lifted it so easily. What was in the sack I do not know, of course. There was some crooked business about it, I have no doubt, but it was not a body that he had there, because, by the way he handled it, I saw that it could not weigh over fifty pounds, and the sack was too large to have only a child's body in it."

"What did you do?"

"We watched him lay the sack on top of the wall, and then climb up. He dropped the sack into the garden, and let himself down from the wall. We paid no further attention to the matter.

"It made Margaret very nervous, but I proved to her, by the weight of the sack, that her suspicions regarding its contents were unfounded."

"Did you know the man?" asked Nick.

"I hardly like to answer that question."

"Why not?"

"I am afraid of doing somebody an injustice."

"You have a suspicion, then?"

"I have."

"Was the man Dr. Jarvis?"

"I cannot say. I do not know him."

"But his dress—"

"I see that it is useless to try to conceal anything from you," said Prescott. "The man wore the peculiar cap and dressing-gown which everybody knows for the doctor's."

"There is no doubt about it," said Miss Allen. "It was Dr. Jarvis."

"I thank you very much for your evidence," said Nick.

"But why do you want it?" asked Prescott. "I have heard a rumor that Patrick Deever has disappeared. This is his brother's house. Is the doctor suspected of having murdered him?"

"He is," said Nick.

"Then I see the bearing of my story upon the case; but I assure you that that bag did not contain Patrick Deever's body. It was too light."

Prescott spoke with decision. Out of the corner of his eyes Nick could see Chick struggling with this phase of the evidence. Chick was too good a detective not to know that one little fact of that kind is worth a hundred that lie too near the surface.

"You can do me only one more favor," said Nick, addressing Prescott and Miss Allen. "Do not under any circumstances mention what you have seen without my permission."

"You can trust us for that," said Prescott, with a smile, "we are by no means anxious to have our connection with this affair made public."

The two witnesses withdrew, leaving Nick and Chick together. They were silent for several minutes, and then Nick said:

"Well, Chick, the chain is complete."

"It is," was Chick's reply, "and in all my experience I have never seen a plainer case made out against any man."

"You mean from a jury's point of view."

"Certainly."

"What do you think of it?"

"I wish you'd tell me just what you think of it, Nick."

"I guess we shouldn't be found to differ a great deal," said Nick, with a smile. "This is my view—but hold on. Here comes Deever."

Indeed Deever was at that moment entering the house.

He was accompanied by a young man of a very unpleasant appearance. To Nick's eyes he seemed a born thief.

"Well," said Deever, entering the room, "here we are."

"You mean that the case is complete," said Nick.

"Absolutely."

"This witness whom you have brought supplies the link that was wanting?"

"He does."

"I shall be glad to hear his story."

"His name," said Deever, "is John Flint."

"Where are you employed, Mr. Flint?" asked Nick.

"I ain't doing nothing just now," said Flint.

"What do you know about the disappearance of Mr. Deever's brother?"

"I don't know anything about it, but I saw something Monday night which Mr. Deever wants me to swear to."

"And you are willing?"

"Yes, I am willing; but I don't want to get into court if I can help it."

"I told him," explained Deever, "that we would try to keep him out of court. He thinks it might lose him a job he wants to get. There's evidence enough without his, the Lord knows."

"I will hear you now," said Nick.

"The way of it was this," said Flint. "Monday night, about midnight, I was down in the vacant lot of St. Agnes' Hospital. I was just looking for a fellow I heard had gone down that way."

"That was Klein," said Deever.

"I walked up the street, and had just turned the corner of the wall when I saw a man coming up under the trees. He was carrying a big bag.

"I kept out of sight, and watched him. I thought at first that there was some crooked work, but the man with the bag didn't seem to be afraid.

"He came up to the wall in a place where there was some rubbish piled against it, and lifted the bag on to the top of the wall. Then he climbed up himself and let the bag down into the garden. That's all I know about it."

"Did you notice how the man was dressed?"

"He had on a loose, long coat—a queer sort of thing—and a little round cap on his head."

"That will do," said Nick. "I am much obliged. It will not be necessary, I think, for you to testify to these facts in court."

"There's enough without it," said Deever. "You'll take Jarvis to headquarters now, won't you ?"

"Well, no," said Nick. "I hadn't thought of it."

"I'll be doubly and eternally—"

Deever's wrath and surprise choked him.

"Never mind," he said, at last, mastering his rage. "Come along, John. And you get out!"

"With all the pleasure in life," said Nick, quietly walking toward the door.

Chick had slipped away at Deever's approach. Nick met him outside.

"What did Deever's witness say?" asked Chick.

"He told exactly the same story as Prescott."

"I'm surprised to hear it."

"Why?"

"Prescott, in my opinion, told the truth."

"So I believe."

"And Deever's man—I got a glimpse of him—struck me as a liar in the first degree. I took him for a man Deever had hired, in order to hurry up his vengeance on Dr. Jarvis."

"But as they told the same story, and Prescott can have no connection with Deever or the other man, it must be true."

"Right; but the meaning of it—"

Chick paused. Suddenly a flash came from his eyes.

"I have it!" he cried.

"That's good," said Nick. "Now, if you'll follow Deever, I'll go back to Dr. Jarvis."

Accordingly Nick hurried home. He found Jarvis in a state of great mental anguish.

"It is an extraordinary fate," he cried, as soon as Nick appeared, "which has twice brought these Deevers into my life to make me miserable."

"You have had to do with them before?" asked Nick.

"Yes, and in a way that is beyond belief."

"Explain yourself."

"This man, Lawrence Deever," said the doctor, with a groan, "had the incredible presumption to make love to my daughter."

Nick could not help smiling.

"What did you do about it?" he asked.

"I sent him about his business in a hurry."

"Was that all?"

"No; and I'm ashamed to say it. There is no possible way of accounting for the conduct of women. My daughter actually took this fellow's part."

"But nothing came of it?"

"No, sir. I am master of my own household."

"So your daughter really loved this man?"

"No; it was only her obstinacy. They became acquainted in some way. I don't know how. The fellow called at my house. I made my daughter promise never to speak to him, but it was a most unpleasant affair throughout. I thought Deever would murder me.

"It seems strange, perhaps, that I should speak of it in the midst of the terrors that surround me, and yet I can't help thinking of the whole affair as one freak of fate."

"And now tell me the truth about his brother and yourself," said Nick earnestly.

"I will," replied the doctor.

At this moment a messenger was announced. Nick knew that the matter must be of the greatest importance, or he would not have been interrupted in his conference with his prisoner.

It proved to be a message from Superintendent Byrnes asking Nick to come to his house as soon as he could.

 

 

CHAPTER VIII.

BEFORE THE SUPERINTENDENT.

 

As Nick expected, he met Chick outside Superintendent Byrnes's house.

"Go to Jarvis," said Nick. "He is going to tell the whole story. Personate me in this disguise."

Chick nodded and vanished.

Within the house Nick found Deever in the superintendent's presence. Deever's face was red, and he looked like a man who had been kicking a stone wall until he is tired.

"Mr. Deever has lodged a complaint against you, Mr. Colton," said the superintendent, with a twinkle in his eye.

"What's the matter?" asked Nick.

"He says that you ought to have had this man Jarvis electrocuted by this time."

"I have proceeded with great caution," said Nick.

"Yes, you have," said Deever. "You have been very careful to shield Jarvis at every step. He's a rich man, Jarvis is!"

"Deever," said the superintendent, sternly, "I have delayed answering your complaint until this time because I wished to have Mr. Colton present to hear what I said.

"And, now, what I have to say is this—don't you venture to hint at the shadow of a suspicion of his integrity. I am entirely satisfied with Mr. Colton's conduct. I sustain him absolutely. I have put this case in his hands, and there it stays."

Deever quailed at these words, but his natural obstinacy came to his aid.

"I can get a warrant for Jarvis' arrest," he said.

"Go ahead and do it, and make a fool of yourself," replied the superintendent.

"With your permission," said Nick, "I advise Mr. Deever to remain here. Meanwhile we will send a messenger for the witness, John Flint, whose testimony seems to me to be of the greatest importance."

"Proceed just as you wish," said Byrnes.

The messenger was summoned, and dispatched.

While they waited for him Nick reviewed in the presence of the superintendent and Deever the evidence against Jarvis.

Some of it, as the reader knows, was news to Deever. He seemed surprised to find the case supported and strengthened by the man whom he suspected of trying to weaken it.

"I call that plain enough," said he, when Nick had finished. "I will withdraw my charge against Mr. Colton, if some action is now taken."

"No action will be taken except on his advice," said the superintendent.

Deever became excited again. He ran over the evidence, and insisted on an immediate arrest.

Nick said nothing, and the superintendent maintained the calm of an iron statue.

When Deever had exhausted himself, Nick spoke.

"I promise you an arrest in one hour," he said.

At this moment a card was brought in and handed to the superintendent.

"From Chick," he said aside to Nick. "He and Jarvis are waiting. What do you say?"

"Let them come in," said Nick.

They were admitted. Chick, as the reader is prepared to learn, appeared as the exact counterpart of Nick.

Deever was struck dumb with astonishment at the sight, and the doctor's eyes nearly fell out of his head.

Byrnes smiled, and muttered "clever."

"Which of these two men do you complain of, Mr. Deever?" he asked, enjoying the man's mystification.

But Deever did not reply, except to mutter something about the interference of the devil in earthly affairs.

Dr. Jarvis, with some effort, recovered some portion of his composure.

"Well, sir," said the superintendent, addressing him, "I suppose that you have something to say to me."

"I have, sir," replied Jarvis; "and no man could be charged with a more painful disclosure."

"Speak up."

"I am guilty of the murder of Patrick Deever."

This confession produced no perceptible effect upon Nick, though the reader cannot have failed to perceive that the great detective had been working with a conviction of the doctor's innocence.

Of all the persons in the room, Deever exhibited the strongest emotion. He gasped, sprang to his feet, and then sat down again heavily.

"What do you say to that?" he exclaimed, turning to Nick.

"I am waiting to hear Dr. Jarvis' story," Nick replied.

"Yes," said the superintendent, "let us hear all about it."

Dr. Jarvis tried to speak, but the words would not come. He staggered and fell half-fainting into a chair.

"I cannot tell it," he said, when he had somewhat revived. "Wait till I am stronger."

"Perhaps that will not be necessary," said Nick.

"No, no; why should it?" said the prisoner, in a faint voice. "I confess, and that is the end of it."

"However, we would like to know more fully about this affair," said Byrnes, and he looked inquiringly at Nick.

"Let me tell the story," said Nick to Jarvis. "If I am right, you have only to nod. That will do for the present occasion. We are not taking testimony."

"But how do you know—" Deever began.

The superintendent cut him short.

"Proceed, if you please," said he to Nick, and then he fixed his eyes upon Dr. Jarvis.

"In the garden of the hospital," Nick began, "about half-past six o'clock on the evening of Monday last, you had high words with Patrick Deever, who was working under your direction."

Dr. Jarvis nodded, as Nick paused.

"He was somewhat intoxicated, and his language was very abusive. You replied in violent reproval, and he started forward, as if about to attack you."

Again the doctor made a sign of assent.

"You seized a spade—"

"It was in my hand," the doctor interrupted, feebly.

"That is right; correct me whenever I am in error. You raised the spade and struck Deever upon the head.

"He fell to the ground, and you, bending over him, were horrified to find that he was dead; or, rather, that he seemed to be.

"Exactly how he came to life I do not know, but it must have been while you were in the midst of your terror, and beginning to wonder what you would do with the body."

"How do you know all this?" asked the doctor, faintly.

"It is simply the only explanation of all the facts. The witness Klein heard the quarrel and the blow. That blow did not fall upon you, and there was nobody else present but Patrick Deever.

"Now, then, he suddenly came to himself. He sprang up. You were amazed. You advanced toward him.

"Believing that you intended to renew the attack, he ran away. He scaled the garden wall, and fled through the little grove toward the river."

"You are reading my mind," exclaimed the doctor, whose amazement acted as a restorative.

"No, I am not. How else could he have got out? On one side was Klein, on the other St. Nicholas avenue, with many people who would have seen him. He escaped toward the river."

"Then you didn't kill him, after all?" asked the superintendent.

"Of the remainder of that fatal affair," said Dr. Jarvis, "I have only one explanation to give, and that will seem miraculous.

"His body was found buried in the garden. I was seen to bury it. I was seen carrying it there by night.

"But upon my soul, I did not know that I did it. The evidence has convinced me, that is all.

"And this is the explanation: Patrick Deever, after escaping from the grove, must have fallen and died. I must have gone there in my sleep, have found the body, and brought it back to the garden.

"My habit of sleep-walking is well known. I have done things which, from a scientific point of view, were far more marvelous than this."

"Nonsense!" cried Deever; "you were wide enough awake. Superintendent Byrnes will not swallow that story."

"Is it any more wonderful," said Nick, "than what I saw the doctor do in his laboratory?"

The story of that night he had already told to Deever and the superintendent.

"Very little, if any," said Byrnes.

"I passed that night, or supposed that I passed it, at my home," said the doctor. "I took an opiate, and seemed to sleep. But I had dreams of murder and the hiding of dead bodies. I must have walked. It was fate."

"But the wounds upon the body? How about them?" asked Byrnes.

"They must have been made while he was pounding the body down into the earth," said Deever, quickly.

Then he turned to Nick.

"You promised me an arrest within the hour," he said; "now let me have the satisfaction of seeing it formally made."

"Wait," said Nick. "I have yet several minutes; and here is the witness, John Flint."

The man was brought in as Nick spoke. He seemed to be somewhat alarmed.

"What's wanted?" he said.

"Only a little formality," said Nick. "As you do not wish to appear in court, we desire to take your sworn testimony at this time."

The sweat stood out on Flint's forehead, but when the proper arrangements had been made, he took the oath and told his story.

"And now, Dr. Jarvis," said Nick, "it is my very agreeable duty to recommend that you be discharged from custody."

"What!" cried Jarvis and Deever in the same breath.

"Superintendent Byrnes, I appeal to you," Deever exclaimed.

The face of the superintendent was perfectly calm.

"The case is in Mr. Colton's hands," he said, simply.

"What did you mean, you villain," cried Deever, turning to Nick, "by talking about an arrest?"

"I will keep my promise," said Nick. "I will keep it doubly. There is yet one minute of the hour. I arrest you, John Flint, for perjury, and you, Lawrence Deever, for the subornation of perjury."

 

 

CHAPTER IX.

THE OTHER SIDE OF A "PLAIN CASE."

 

As may readily be supposed, the emotions excited in the various persons present differed widely.

But of the two who rejoiced, it is hard to say that Chick was second to Dr. Jarvis. The smile which settled down upon Chick's face was beautiful to behold. He was the image of satisfaction.

"I had it right," he said, and hugged himself.

The doctor in the meanwhile sat in a sort of delightful trance. Just what had happened he could not have told anybody, but he perceived that he had sailed out of all his difficulties.

Flint and Deever, of course, protested loudly, but the superintendent promptly "shut them up."

"Don't you dare to say a word, either of you, till I hear the inside of this whole case," said he.

"It is one of the finest examples of the dangers of circumstantial evidence that I ever saw," said Nick. "No jury that ever sat in the box would hesitate a moment to convict Dr. Jarvis, yet he is entirely innocent.

"The principal confusion, in my own mind, was a result of the doctor's belief in his own guilt. That is why he bribed me, believing me to be Cleary. By the way, here is your five thousand dollars, doctor."

He handed the package of bills to the astonished physician, who could only gasp, "You? you?"

"Yes; I played Cleary," said Nick. "That affair and your attempt to elude Chick amount to no more in the case than that they indicate your own belief in your guilt.

"Now, what is against that belief? In the first place, you would never have disposed of the body by burial. Having that acid, unknown to chemists, in which flesh dissolves like water, you would have used it.

"Your sleep-walking adventure proved to me what you would have done under similar conditions, if awake.

"Having seen that, I had only to be present at the digging up of the body to have a fairly reliable theory of your innocence. Why should you, possessing that acid and that furnace, mutilate a man's face and head with a spade? You had far better means of preventing an identification.

"But the body was buried in the garden. The question is, by whom? To answer that we pass on to the story of the bringing of the body through the vacant lot, and hoisting it over the wall.

"The testimony of Prescott I regard as reliable. Chick's investigations satisfy me as to the man's character and motives. Then we acquit the doctor at once."

"This is nonsense," cried Deever. "I will not be silent any longer."

"Yes, you will," said Byrnes, in a voice that secured obedience.

"It acquits the doctor, I say," continued Nick. "He could never have lifted that body to the top of the wall. There's a physical impossibility in the way of a belief that he is guilty.

"It takes a very strong man to raise a dead body weighing one hundred and seventy-five pounds above his head in the manner described by Prescott. We shall have to work down to that strong man before the case is proven."

Nick looked significantly at Lawrence Deever. That look was understood.

"You're a liar and a scoundrel," screamed Deever, beside himself with rage.

He sprang upon Nick.

Nobody raised a finger to interfere.

The superintendent and Chick calmly awaited the inevitable issue. Flint dared not go to the assistance of his patron.

It was all over in a few seconds.

Deever lay upon the floor, fettered, and Nick stood over him.

"The strong man in the case has been found," said Nick. "I'm willing to admit that you gave me hard work, Deever."

"So it was he that buried the body?" asked Byrnes.

"Yes; I suspected it at once," responded Nick. "It was his deliberate intention to throw the crime upon Dr. Jarvis.

"He stole the doctor's cap and dressing-gown on Monday night, and then returned them when the job was done. But they showed the signs of hard usage.

"You remember, doctor, that I carefully examined them. It was plain that a much larger man than the doctor had worn them.

"The seams in the back and around the arms were strained, and some of them had burst. This was only a hint, of course, but it fitted the remainder of the case.

"The strongest indication, however, was the way Deever secured testimony. I had only to hint that I wanted to cover a point, and he immediately went out and secured the witness."

"But most of them told the truth," said the superintendent.

"Yes," Nick admitted, "there he was wonderfully helped by fate. It happened that he was seen at just the right moments, when he was playing the part of Dr. Jarvis.

"If he hadn't been so impatient it would even have been unnecessary for him to produce this man Flint. Chick secured real witnesses who were much better.

"And there we come to the point where we are sure about Deever. Prescott and Miss Allen told the truth. Flint, prompted by Deever, told exactly the same story.

"Therefore, Deever must have known precisely what the facts were. Investigation convinces me that he could have known them in only one way—by being himself the person who performed the acts described."

"Do you mean to accuse me of murdering my brother?" demanded Deever.

"Certainly not," said Nick. "Do you remember the question I asked you on the first day of the investigation? I asked, 'Who has been murdered?'"

"Well?"

"I answer that question now. Nobody has been murdered. Your brother is alive. There is nothing the matter with him, except a scalp wound. The body found was a substitute which you procured. It was you who made the wounds with the spade."

"This is all bare assertion," cried Deever, who, in irons, sat upon the floor with his back against a chair. "You cannot prove what you say."

"Let me first explain how the trick was done," said Nick, coolly. "Your brother, after he had somewhat recovered from the effects of the blow he had received, went to your house.

"He wished you to help him get revenge upon Dr. Jarvis. You had your own grudge against him on account of your unsuccessful suit for his daughter.

"You saw the chance of a deeper revenge than your brother had any idea of. You then planned this whole conspiracy. He was to go away forever. You were to remain, and make this charge against the doctor."

"It is an infernal lie," shrieked Deever. "Where is my brother? I demand that you produce him."

"Your brother is now hidden in your house at Nyack. It was vacant. You told him to go there, until you could make arrangements to get him safely away. As to the body, you bought it of a grave-robber."

"How do you pretend to know that?" asked Deever, scornfully.

"As to the body, I can produce the man who sold it. As to your brother, I know where he has gone, because no other course was practicable; and because I have had word that he is there."

"I defy you to prove it," cried Deever. "I am willing to let the question of my guilt or innocence rest on that event. He is not there."

There was a peculiar light of triumph in Deever's eyes as he spoke. It did not escape Nick's observation.

The shrewd detective saw at a glance that Deever believed his brother to have already escaped.

Could it be possible? In any event, Nick would not evade the other's challenge.

He felt that his reputation was at stake, but he did not hesitate.

"If I do not produce him in twenty-four hours," said Nick, "I will withdraw my charge against you."

 

 

CHAPTER X.

NICK'S REPUTATION AT STAKE.

 

As Nick made the bold assertion of his power to produce Patrick Deever alive, both Chick and the superintendent looked at him with something as near doubt as anybody who knew Nick Carter could feel in any of his statements.

They both saw that Deever felt sure of his brother's escape, and they could not help seeing that there was many chances in favor of it.

But Nick was undismayed. He put his trust in Patsy's fidelity.

"I shall hold you and Flint under arrest," said Superintendent Byrnes to Deever. "Dr. Jarvis, you may go when you wish."

Nick, Chick and Dr. Jarvis left the room, after the last-named had expressed his thanks to those concerned in his deliverance.

Nick went at once to Nyack. It was very late when he reached there.

He made his way to the house of Lawrence Deever, which stood some distance from the centre of the town.

There was no sign of Patsy about the place. The house seemed to be deserted.

Nick easily effected an entrance. He searched the house thoroughly.

There were signs of the recent presence of Patrick Deever. He had done some rude cooking. The remnants of the food which he had prepared were visible.

But the man himself was not to be found. The method of his exit, however, Nick discovered.

A window in the end of the house, farthest from the street, was wide open, and beneath it, with the aid of his lantern, Nick found the foot-prints of a man who had leaped from the window.

Unquestionably that man was Patrick Deever.

The footprints could be traced a little way. They led toward a hedge which separated the property from a large, vacant tract south of it.

Nick could see where some person had recently broken through this hedge. And here he made a more important discovery, which gladdened his eyes.

Beside the hedge were Deever's foot-prints, and another's. The second must be Patsy's.

Passing through, Nick saw a wide field with a grove at its end. The foot-prints were very faint, but it seemed that Deever had started in the direction of that grove.

Nick hurried thither. He searched through the little clump of trees with the utmost minuteness, till at last, on the farther side, in a bit of soft ground, he found the foot-prints.

They still led in the direction of the river. Following such faint clews as he could find, Nick continued the search till dawn broke.


"Uncle Jimmy" Redwood has boats to let in Nyack. He has a boat-house on the river bank from which a flight of steps leads down to a long "float" extending into the river.

His boats are moored to that float, or anchored near the end of it. He has several fine, fast cat-boats, of which he is very proud.

Uncle Jimmy was overhauling his boats about six o'clock on the morning after the events just described, when a man, whom he had never seen before, came somewhat hurriedly down the steps, and said he wished to hire a cat-boat.

"I want the fastest boat in the fleet," he said.

Uncle Jimmy looked the stranger over carefully. There was a bandage around his head. Uncle Jimmy suspected that something was wrong, but that, after all, might not be any of his business.

"Get the Clio ready for this man," Uncle Jimmy shouted to an assistant at the far end of the float.

"Ay, ay, sir," said the man.

The Clio was lying with her nose against the float, and there was nothing to do but hoist her sail.

However, the stranger seemed impatient of even this delay.

When the sail was up, he jumped into the boat, and prepared to get under way.

But Uncle Jimmy's assistant had hold of the "painter," or rope, by which the Clio had been fastened to the wharf.

"Avast there!" he said. "Mr. Redwood don't let his boats go out that way."

"What do you mean?" demanded the stranger with the bandaged head.

"He won't let you go out alone. How does he know that you will bring the boat back?"

"Nonsense. I want to go by myself."

"He wants to take her out himself," called the assistant to Uncle Jimmy, who stood near the end of the float talking with another tarry old salt.

"He can't, and that settles it," said Uncle Jimmy.

"Shall I go with him?" asked the assistant, who held the Clio's painter.

"No; let Dick, here, go."

Dick, thus delegated to the duty of skipper, rolled down the float with the gait of an old sailor, and got aboard the Clio.

The stranger with the sore head grumbled, but he could not help himself. He insisted, however, on taking the helm as the Clio moved out from the float.

She was scarcely a hundred yards away when a young man, panting with haste, rushed down the stairs from the boat-house. The reader would have known Patsy by his activity, despite his disguise.

"I want a boat," he cried out.

"Quite a run o' business for so early in the morning," said Uncle Jimmy, calmly. "What sort o' boat do you want?"

"I want one that can overhaul the one that just left the float."

"I ain't got it," said Uncle Jimmy. "The Curlew is about even with her, but they ain't one o' them that can outsail her."

"Then give me the Curlew, and do it in a hurry," cried Patsy.

"By whose orders, I'd like to know?"

Patsy was in no mood for trifling. He showed Uncle Jimmy in less than two seconds that obedience would pay well.

The Curlew also was hauled in to the float, and Patsy was aboard of her and clear of his moorings before anybody could stop him, or even get in with him.

A brisk southerly wind was blowing in from the sea.

By the course which the Clio was taking Patsy guessed that it was the intention of her occupants to "beat" down the river against the wind.

Meanwhile, in the Clio, the man with the bandaged head was in a fever of excitement. He crowded the boat for all she could stand, but he seemed, on the whole, to be a clever boatman.

The old salt watched him critically for a few minutes, and then seemed to be satisfied.

Presently he began to notice the anxious glances which the man at the helm cast over his shoulder at the pursuing boat.

"You seem to be anxious to outrun that feller," he said at last.

Patrick Deever, for it was he, nodded his head and set his teeth. The old sailor looked long and earnestly at their pursuer.

"Wall, ye ain't doin' of it," he said, at last.

"Is she gaining?" asked Deever, nervously.

"She be," said the tar, calmly.

"I thought this was the fastest of Redwood's boats."

"So she be," was the answer; "but the Curlew's overhauling her this time."

"What's the matter?"

"The other feller's the best sailor, that's what's the matter. I don't know who he is, but he's a skipper from away back."

For some minutes Deever kept silent. From time to time he glanced astern.

There was no doubt about it; the Curlew was gaining.

"Can you get any more speed out of her?" he said at last, in desperation.

"Reckon I kin," said the tar. "Shall I take her?"

"Yes, and if you outrun them I'll give you a hundred dollars."

"All right."

The grizzled seaman took the helm. In ten minutes it began to look blue for Patsy and his chief. The Clio had reasserted her superiority. She was slowly dropping the Curlew astern.

When they tacked on the other side of the river the Clio had doubled her lead. In an hour the Curlew was half a mile behind.

"Where are ye bound?" asked the old tar.

"There's a vessel anchored in the harbor. I'll show you where. You're to put me aboard and keep still about it. The hundred is yours, and as much more to go with it."

They were nearly abreast the Battery, when suddenly the police-boat was seen heading toward them.

"That's the 'Patrol,'" said Deever. "Give her a wide berth."

Instead of complying, the boatman put his helm over, and stood straight toward the tug.

"Here!" cried Deever; "what does this mean?"

"It means," said the boatman, "that you're my prisoner, Patrick Deever. I am Nick Carter."

Ten minutes later they were both aboard the police-boat, and in another hour Nick had redeemed his pledge to produce Patrick Deever alive before the superintendent.

"I'd have had him, anyway," said Patsy, afterward. "He turned on me in the woods up there in Nyack and knocked me down, and tied me.

"He thought I was done, but I wasn't. I was just going for a tug when you ran him aboard the police-boat.

"At any rate," he said in conclusion, "it's some satisfaction to know that it was you, and not he, that outsailed me."

The two Deevers were punished in due course for conspiracy, and Flint for perjury.

"On the whole," said Superintendent Byrnes to Nick, "I think that was about the prettiest work I ever saw. The most puzzling thing in the world, I've noticed, is apt to be a perfectly plain case."