OLD SLEUTH'S SPECIAL DETECTIVE SERIES. PRICE, 25 CENTS.
OSCAR THE DETECTIVE.
By "OLD SLEUTH."
OSCAR THE DETECTIVE
DUDIE DUNNE, THE EXQUISITE DETECTIVE.
An Odd but Stirring Detective Narrative.
By OLD SLEUTH.
Copyright, 1895, by Parlor Car Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved.
NEW YORK: J. S. OGILVIE PUBLISHING COMPANY, 57 ROSE STREET.
DUDIE DUNNE, THE EXQUISITE DETECTIVE.
BY OLD SLEUTH.
DUDIE DUNNE PLAYS A GREAT TRICK TO RUN DOWN A CRIMINAL—AS SIMPLE JOHN HE APPEARS INNOCENT, BUT WHEN HIS MASK GOES OFF THE "FUR FLIES."
"Oh, fellers, look at this! he's strayed or stolen; let's go for him."
A group of little toughs were gathered at a street corner in a low locality in the city of New York when a dude of the first water with the regular Anglo step and exquisite airs walked leisurely down the street peering through his single eyeglass at the surrounding tenements. He was a splendid specimen in appearance of the dudie sweet, and the moment the eyes of the gamins fell upon him they saw a chance for fun. It was at first intended as a raid for fun, but in the end it became plunder.
The dude walked along until he arrived opposite the spot where the boys were gathered, where they lay like little Indians in ambush ready to leap forth to slaughter. The dude stopped short, gazed at them with a smile which was all simplicity and asked:
"Can you boys tell me where Maggie's aunt lives around here? Tell me and I'll give you a cent apiece."
"Here!" said one of the boys, and a second queried:
"What is it?"
"Where did this thing drop from?"
"Well, ain't he a sweetie!"
"Oh, dear boys, I am so weary. I've been looking for Maggie's aunt. She lives somewhere down here. Maggie is our cook and she is under the weather—yes, very much under the weather—and I agreed to notify her aunt, but hang me if I can find her aunt. I don't know her aunt's name; I forgot to ask her what her dear aunt's name is, and all I know is that she lives down this way somewhere, and she is Maggie's aunt. If you lads will take me to her I will give you a penny apiece—I will, yes—I am in earnest—hee, hee, hee!"
The laugh was something to hear, and the lads, all in chorus, imitated the simpleton's laugh with a "hee, hee, hee!" which sounded very ridiculous, and the dude said:
"Oh, you rude boys, I really believe you are mocking me—yes, I do. Now don't be naughty, but come and show me where Maggie's aunt lives—hee, hee, hee!"
Again the lads in chorus "hee, hee, hee-d."
"Boys, what have we struck?" came the question.
"Now don't be rude, boys, don't be rude, or I will chastise you—yes, I will chastise you. I don't want to do so, but you may compel me to chastise you."
The boys just roared at this threat, and one of them stealing behind the dude gave him a "thumper" with his toe where the exquisite's pants were drawn the tightest under his long coat.
"Oh, oh, you wicked boy! What do you mean? Stop, I say, stop, or I'll call the police, yes, I will."
"Say, Dudie, there are no police around here; we slaughtered and burned 'em all last month; you'll find their graves down under the rocks there, so don't holler."
As the spokesman uttered the words quoted he let drive and knocked off the dude's hat, which one of the gang immediately appropriated, and then the onslaught commenced. They just tore at the poor dude as a wolf tears at a carcass, and in less time than it takes to tell it they had stripped the poor fellow. One had put on the long coat and commenced to walk English style, another donned the robbed man's hat, a second secured the eyeglass, a third his undercoat, a fourth his nobby vest, and so they stripped him of all his outside apparel, assumed it themselves, and then the circus commenced. They just paraded around their poor victim, imitating in a grotesque manner all the airs of a genuine dudie sweet. Two or three rough-looking men were standing at the door of a low groggery opposite and they enjoyed the fun and laughed as merrily as the boys who were conducting the affair. "What have we struck?" the lads kept repeating, and the dude stood denuded to his shirt and trousers, appealing to the lads to restore his wardrobe, and his appeals were pitiable to hear.
"Oh, boys, you good boys, now you've had lots of fun, but dear me, I'll freeze—yes, it's an awful good joke—hee, hee, hee—but I'll freeze, and to think, boys, how I look! Why, I'll become a laughing-stock, but it's an awful good joke—yes, I've enjoyed it; we've had lots of fun—hee, hee, hee—but now restore my clothing, please do."
The boys instead of returning the dude's clothes began to maltreat him. They kicked and cuffed him around until one of the men walked over and said:
"Here, you rascals, stop this now."
Another of the men came, and they seized the lads one after the other, took the stolen clothes away from them and restored the goods to their rightful owner. Well, this may appear very nice on the part of the men, but the sequel will show that they were actuated entirely by selfish motives. They discerned that the dude might prove good plucking for themselves, and they were very kind and consoling as they assisted him to resume his garments and he said:
"Well, we've had lots of fun, the poor dear boys; I did feel as though they went too far and I should punish them, but I hadn't the heart—no, I haven't the heart—I am so tender-hearted. I am almost a woman when it comes to the heart, everybody says so."
The men exchanged winks and laughed. It looked to them as very ridiculous—this delicate-looking dude punishing that gang of rough and vigorous gamins.
The dude was speedily re-robed and one of the men said:
"Let's go over and have a drink."
"Thank you, gentlemen, thank you, I am much obliged certainly. We shall have a drink, but I will treat—yes, I will treat. But didn't we have fun! and I am so glad I maintained my temper and did not hurt those poor little boys. It was all play, you know—gentlemen, all play. I enjoyed it very much—yes, very much."
"They were getting a little rough," said one of the men.
"Yes, but you know I was getting a little rough myself. Really, I hope I didn't hurt any of them. I didn't mean to. I'm very vigorous, for I belong to an athletic club. I dare not trust myself to play rough with men, let alone boys—yes, I didn't dare strike. I didn't want to hurt any of them."
"You were very gentle," said one of the men.
"I intended to be. Yes, I am as gentle as a lamb unless I am aroused, then I become a lion—everybody says so—yes, I am very ferocious when I get mad, and I have to restrain myself."
"I can see you are very powerful. I wouldn't like to provoke you," said the man with a wink to his companions and an unrestrained look of contempt.
"I hope you never may. No, I do not like to lose my temper. I become very rough—yes, very rough indeed, my friends all tell me so; but I like fun—yes, I am a thoroughbred, I am, clean through. I gamble, I do—yes, I am a regular sport, and I am so glad I did not hurt any of those boys."
"Yes, you were very considerate."
"Oh, certainly, I am always considerate—my friends all say so. I am naturally kind and gentle, but terrible when I get aroused—yes, I am just awful; so, gentlemen, don't provoke me in any way."
"You can bet we won't provoke you. I tell you I don't want to get it in the eye from one of those mauleys of yours, and get knocked into the middle of next week."
"Hee, hee, hee! how observant you are, and now you've really discovered that I am an athlete! Well, I try not to betray the fact—yes, I am very careful to not let people know, and I try to keep my temper. I don't like to get aroused."
The men went into the barroom and the dude called for a bottle of wine, and the miserable apology for wine was put on the counter. As the dude pulled forth a big wad of bills to pay for it the eyes of the men glittered and they exchanged winks and looked longingly at the roll of greenbacks.
The wine was consumed and the dude ordered segars, and he became quite talkative and drank a glass of whisky that was placed before him. Then he became still more talkative, and all the time he was the dude to perfection and boasted of his powers.
"Do you know," he said, "I once had a run in with ——?"
The man named was a noted boxer.
"How did you come out with him?"
"Oh, I was gentle with him—very gentle. He winked and I understood what he meant and let up on him and permitted him to punch me. Yes, it was business with him, you know, and I could have knocked him out before all his pupils, so I just let him punch me."
"He is a pretty hard hitter they say."
"Oh, no, I didn't mind his blows. He is very active—yes, very active."
"Did he bleed you?"
"Oh, yes, I let him bleed me a little. I was gentle, you know, and I took a black eye which I carried for a week, and he afterward apologized. Yes, he was very grateful because I was so gentle and let him punch me. I spared him, but when I looked in the glass I told him that next time I'd have to rap back a little."
The men all laughed and one of them said: "I reckon he will not tackle you again?"
"No, I guess not—hee, hee, hee! I tell you when I threaten a man he looks out—yes, he does—hee, hee, hee!"
"I reckon you are a lucky gambler."
"You bet I am."
"Yes, you educated fellows are always quick in making combinations. I like to play with a good player and learn his 'points.' I am always ready to lose to learn. What do you say for a little game with a light ante?"
"Well, now see here, I don't want to rob you gentlemen—you've been so kind to me."
"Oh, we don't mind losing a few dollars. You see, we are contractors. We do big jobs for the city; we've plenty of money, only we ain't educated, see, that's all. We've worked our way in the world. We are self-made men."
"Well, do you know, I've got the highest regard for self-made men. My daddy was a self-made man. He was a government contractor, and when he died he left my mamma a million, and it will all come to me some day. Yes, I am the lucky only child, I am; but I don't want to rob you gentlemen."
"Oh, we've all plenty of money to lose, and it's an honor to play with a real gentleman. We don't always have that privilege, and it's real condescending in you."
"Oh, yes, I am very condescending—yes, yes—hee, hee, hee! But really I'd only rob you gentlemen. I call you gentlemen because you are gentlemen. I always judge of a man as I find him, as Bobby Burns bid us do, see—hee, hee, hee!"
The party had drank several times and the dude began to show the effect of his drinks. He was a dude as true and genuine as ever lived.
"Let's go upstairs and have a quiet game," said the man; "we don't want to play down here where we will be disturbed by every low fellow that comes in. I tell you, gentlemen, we must protect our guest from annoyance—he is so kind as to give us a game and teach us a few points."
"Say, gentlemen, I am not aristocratic; I don't put on airs; I'd just as soon play down here."
"No, it is much nicer upstairs. We can have a quiet game and take our refreshments," and addressing the bartender the man asked:
"Are you putting up the best every time, Sandy?"
"Sure, I do; I knows me business, I do; I knows when a gentleman stands in front of the bar."
Young reader, this may be a lonely sort of siren play, but it is true to life and should prove a lesson. The men were flattering the dude, and flattery is always based on design and a selfish motive. Beware of the flatterer in the first place. Eschew gambling—if you are only playing for fun it costs as much as though you were playing to make money. It is demoralizing every time, and often leads to greater crime. Gambling is a very dangerous amusement. These men were working the dude, and it is, as we have intimated, an actual incident we are describing. The conversation we reproduce verbatim. They were alluring the young man to rob him, and if the stake had been big enough these birds of prey would willingly have murdered their victim in the end to cover up the lesser crime with the greater, for they were believers in the false logic that "dead men tell no tales." We say false logic, for dead men, though their lips are silent, as a rule—ay, almost always—leave silent testimonies behind that speak for them, and crime is always revealed. The silence of the murdered is a dangerous release, for murder "will out," though, as stated, the lips of the victims are sealed in death.
Dudie Dunne played well his part. He did not readily consent to go upstairs. He was playing a great game, playing on novel plans, taking great chances, and for the rascals who were alluring him he had a great surprise in reserve.
After much persuasion he consented to go upstairs, but still continued to assure the men that he had no idea of robbing them.
"But you will teach us some new points."
"You'll have to watch me then, for I am giving nothing away."
The men ascended to a room on the second floor, a rear room.
The men sat down at a table and Dudie Dunne put on all the airs of a "Smart Alec" to perfection. The game commenced. Our hero was dealer and a winner, and the way he "hee, hee, hee-d," as he raked in his pot was amusing to watch.
The game proceeded for fully half an hour when a most startling interruption occurred.
THE EXQUISITE'S GAME PROVES A WINNING HAND, BUT NOT AT THE CARDS—HE PERFORMS ONE OF THE GREATEST STREAKS OF DETECTIVE WORK TO DATE AND CAPTURES A MAN WHOM FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD HAD FAILED TO FETCH.
As intimated, the game had proceeded and our hero was winning and losing, when suddenly the door of the room opened and a man of remarkable appearance entered the room. His entrance was followed by an exhibition as though a ghost had suddenly appeared at the conventional midnight hour and demanded a hand, as he reached forth his rattling joints of bone. The men stared, even our hero for just one instant lost his equipoise, but he recovered when like a wink he asked, as though no one had entered the room:
"What do you do?"
The men, however, just sat and stared while the intruder said, a pallor on his emaciated face and a glitter in his eyes:
"I heard the game going on, boys, and I could not resist—oh, I love a little game at times."
"You are not well enough to sit up yet, Mr. Alling."
"Oh, yes; I feel better to-day; but whom have we here?"
One of the men winked and said:
"A friend of ours—one of the four hundred—but he ain't proud. He is a gentleman clean through."
The man who had asked the question fixed his glittering eyes on our hero. The dude appeared unconscious of the fact that he was undergoing a study beneath the gaze of a man who could read the human face like a book.
As intimated, the man was a very remarkable-looking individual. He was one who would attract attention anywhere, owing to the singular sharp expression on his face.
The man appeared to be satisfied with his study, and said, as he sat down to the table: "Give me some cards. Ah, this is just glorious after having lain in a sick bed for a month."
The dude, who was studying his cards, did not appear to overhear the newcomer's remark. He had been a loser and seemed absolutely absorbed.
The game proceeded and drinks were ordered. The dude got seemingly very drunk. He lost his money—some hundreds of dollars, and his watch, and produced a diamond pin which he lost, and then he appeared to drop off in a maudlin slumber.
The man let him snore in his chair and deliberately divided his money among them. Then they dealt for the watch and pin, and finally the question was asked:
"What shall we do with him?"
"Throw him into the street."
"That won't do," said the man who had entered the room at the last moment. "You fellows don't know how to manage these things."
"What shall we do?"
"Let him sleep. He will sleep until morning—sleep like a top—and then the first thing he will call for will be a drink; give him one, then take him to some other house, fill him up, and leave him one by one. He will forget afterward where he lost his watch and money. At least you fellows can all swear he had his watch and money when you left him. Throw him into the street, and he will be found, dragged in, and in the morning will give the whole business away. That is the way you lads always make a mistake. You don't go slow enough."
The men agreed to Alling's plan, and then turning the dude over on the floor, fixed his coat under his head for a pillow and left him, locking him in the room, and there the poor dude lay. One of the men returned in about half an hour, looked the sleeper over and left. Downstairs he told his pals:
"He will never wake. I reckon the man is full to the ears. He will sleep until eleven o'clock to-morrow."
After the man had glanced into the room the dude most strangely awoke. He drew from his pocket a tiny mask lantern, and he pulled a tiny watch from his pocket, glanced at the time and muttered:
"I've got a long wait, but it's all right. I'll have my man."
The hours passed. The dude lay upon the floor and actually slept a natural sleep, but after some hours he awoke, glanced at his watch and muttered:
"Now it is time to operate."
He rose from his coat pillow and put his coat on, fixed himself to go to the street, then deftly opened the door of the room, peeped out and listened. All was still. Indeed it was two o'clock in the morning. The dude passed down the stairs, and through the hall to the street door. He unlocked it as deftly as he had unlocked the room door. He put it just in the swing, then he ascended the stairs and passed to the top floor of the house. He knew just where to go for the purpose he had in hand, for he had overheard a little while he was being robbed at the game of cards. He stopped at the rear room door and listened, then he deftly opened the door and drew from his pocket the tiny mask lantern. He flashed the slenderest of lines of light toward the bed and thereon lay a man. Could one have pierced the darkness at that moment and have seen the face of the dude it would have been a most startling revelation, especially to one who had seen him some hours previously.
The dude on tiptoe advanced toward the bed. Quickly he clapped a silken handkerchief to the mouth and nostrils of the sleeping man, and then from the big dude coat he drew a gag and some cords; quickly he proceeded and soon had the man gagged and bound. A moment only he rested, and then the dude, the delicate-looking dude, after having slipped on a few outside garments, raised the bound and gagged man in his arms, handled him as though he had been an unresisting lad of ten or twelve years, and carried him down two pair of stairs to the street door. He stepped forth and walked off with his burden. He met no one until he had traversed several squares, when a policeman accosted him:
"Hold on! what have you there—a dead body?"
"No, a man pretty thoroughly alive, and I want your aid—he is getting heavy."
The dude made an explanation and the policeman aided in carrying the man. He was taken to the station house, where the gag was removed, also the cords, and the man was free.
"Who is he, Dunne?" asked the sergeant in charge.
The dude whispered a name and the sergeant started back aghast.
"How did you pick him up?"
"Oh, it's a long tale, but I've got him."
Handcuffs were put on the prisoner and, accompanied by two detectives, Detective Dunne started with his man for headquarters. The fellow Alling meantime said, speaking to the supposed dude:
"You played it well, but your play will cost your life in the end."
"Hush, Jimmy, don't threaten while the darbies are on you; but it will be a long time before you will again enjoy your favorite game."
"One word, Dunne."
"Was I betrayed?"
"Those fellows didn't give you the pointers to get a whack at the reward offered on me?"
"That is square between a square man and a thief?"
"It is the truth."
"You swear it?"
"All right, I am to hold you alone responsible for this?"
"You worked it out yourself?"
"I did. Your pals don't know yet you are gone."
"Oh, I wish I had suspected."
"Say, Tommy, you make a mistake."
"You appear to think that all those whom you dislike have to do is to stand up and be shot like deserters. Let me tell you something. Had you recognized me you would have been a dead man, that's all, and it is possible several of your pals might have gone the journey with you. It's better for you and them that you did not recognize me."
"The walls won't hold me long."
The detective laughed.
"When I am out I'll make it my business to settle you before I go back."
"Tommy, you surprise me."
"I thought you were a gamer man. Game men don't bark; you are barking."
"I'll bite; you did me up well; you've had your turn, I'll have mine."
"Yes, you'll get your turn. As far as I am concerned I don't care if you get out the day after you are sent up. I may have a chance then to do the state better service."
"You're barking now."
"No, I am only cautioning you, that's all. Tommy, I don't fear you."
A little later the party arrived at headquarters and the prisoner was turned over—one of the most dangerous rogues New York had known for a long time. The fellow had led a gang into a bank, had almost killed the watchman, had stolen over a hundred thousand dollars in money, and at least two hundred thousand more in negotiable securities, and he was a dangerous chap, and one of the most successful eluders the police had ever attempted to run down. Dudie Dunne had performed a great feat and yet he was to secure no public credit for it, for he was a secret special, and never in all his experience had he performed a deed that better earned him his right to be on the secret special force.
"How about the 'swag,' Dunne?"
"I don't expect to get it; but I am going back to look around."
"Better take some one with you."
"Not to-night—no, no."
Dunne returned to the place from which he had yanked his man. He entered by the door which he had left on the swing for the purpose of a second visit. Dunne ascended to the room from which he had carried his prize, and he commenced a search, and no burglar ever moved with greater noiselessness or ease. He was busy fully half an hour, going around with his tiny mask lantern, and finally there came a pleased look to his face. He drew a few instruments from his pocket and set to work, and soon he had removed several bricks from the chimney piece, and finding an aperture thrust in his hand and drew forth some bonds. He recovered all the securities, and about half the cash in bills of large denomination, and having completed his work he stole down the stairs and returned to headquarters, made his report and went off to his room for a few hours of genuine restful sleep.
On the morning following the incidents we have described the gang who had robbed him on the previous day assembled in the barroom. It was about eight o'clock, and as the last two came in they asked the man who was there ahead of them:
"Have you been up to take a peep?"
The men all laughed and one said:
"So you've heard nothing from our sweet little dude, eh?"
"Let's go up and take a peep at him and have a little fun; we will stand a heap of 'guying' when he awakes with his roaring headache."
The men with cheerful faces ascended the stairs. They opened the door and peeped in; the first man started back, his face pale, and he exclaimed:
"What's the matter?"
"Gone!" ejaculated the other two.
"Gone, as sure as guns, and rain storms."
The men passed into the room, then they all laughed.
The fools had not noticed until they commenced to laugh that they had found the door open. They really enjoyed the surprise for a moment until one of them suddenly appeared to fall to a suspicion.
"Hold on, fellows," he cried, "maybe we are laughing too soon. I don't understand this; come to think, if that chappie got out of here he wasn't as big a fool as we thought him."
"Oh, come off."
"I think we'd better go up and see Tommy—hear what he has to say."
The three men ascended to the room where the dude had gone for his game. They found that door open; they peeped in and Tommy was gone. He had disappeared, and they saw the opening where the "swag" had been secured. They looked into each other's faces and one of them said:
"This begins to look serious."
They descended to the barroom. The owner of the place had just appeared.
"Where is Tommy?" they demanded.
"Up in his room, of course."
"Do you think he's there?"
"He is there."
"He is not."
"He is not there."
"Where is he?"
"By all that's strange and miraculous, boys," cried the man who had first shot forth a suspicion, "we have been played. The dude was a 'copper,' and poor Tommy is in harbor at last."
The men sent out and got a paper, and the first headline that met their eyes was:
"A Great Capture—Tom ——, the Worst Thief and Most Dangerous Bank Robber New York has Harbored for Many Years was Captured Last Night by a very Clever Piece of Detective Strategy and is Now at Police Headquarters."
The men trembled and one asked:
"What will we do?"
"I don't think the climate of New York agrees with me at this season of the year."
The others came to the same conclusion, and one said:
"We're in luck if we get away, but there is no time to lose."
The three men quietly glided from the saloon with countenances on which was written all evidences of terror.
A FEW WORDS AS TO THE REAL IDENTITY OF DUDIE DUNNE—THE DETECTIVE STARTS OUT ON A FRESH "LAY," AND AS A CHAPPIE SWEET CLOSES IN ON COMRADE NUMBER TWO.
There was nothing noteworthy in the career of Dudie or rather Oscar Dunne up to the time he entered upon the police force beyond the fact that he was of a very remarkable physical make-up. He was a young man possessed of very delicate features, girlish blue eyes and a clear red and white complexion. He was what is called a very effeminate-looking young man. We have seen others like him. We have previously alluded in this connection to two very striking examples similar to the case of Dudie Dunne, many years ago in New York. There were two men, both famous as athletes; one of them was noted as one of the most desperate rough-and-ready fighters in the city. He was a colonel in the late war, afterward a member of congress, and noted for his physical strength and daring, while he looked like a woman in the face, so delicate were his features, and so soft and fair his complexion. The other man was a notorious ring fighter, and he too possessed the same delicacy of feature and complexion, and yet was a man of wonderful physical strength. So with Oscar Dunne. He was pretty when a child and when a youth, and the boys nicknamed him Girlie Dunne, and yet he outstripped all his boy companions in feats of strength and athletic performances. He was educated in the public schools of New York, and when quite young received an appointment as clerk to one of the city departments, and it was while acting in that capacity that he was led upon one occasion to attempt the running down of a notorious criminal. He tracked his man, had a desperate encounter with him, and captured him. This feat attracted attention toward him and one day a well-known detective remarked:
"Oscar, if I had your face and strength and nerve I'd become the greatest detective on earth."
Oscar brooded over the remark and later on secured a position on the regular police with a view to being promoted to the detective force, and his powers soon won him his promotion, and his services as a detective became so valuable, and his advantages as a detective became so marked, he was soon raised to the position of a secret special. It was just following his last promotion that he made the great capture we have recorded.
It was about a month following the incidents detailed when one day the chief sent for him and said:
"Oscar, I've a peculiar case for you. A great robbery was committed in Rome, Italy. Some very valuable heirlooms were stolen, besides a large collection of gems of great value. A large reward is offered for the thief, and it is believed by the Roman officers that the man is in New York."
"Did they send over a description?"
"No, they do not suspect any one man. All they suspect is that the thief fled from Rome and is in New York."
Oscar Dunne smiled as he remarked:
"A man must start on nothing in this case."
"That is about the size of it."
"They don't know whether the man is an Italian or not?"
"No, but they do know that he is a desperate fellow. He killed one of the servants in the house at the time he committed the robbery. They believe he is an Italian."
"Have you a photograph of any members of the family that was robbed?"
"Nor a photograph of the servant who was murdered."
Oscar was thoughtful a moment and then said:
"Chief, a man who is blindfolded in a dark room can't see a crack in the wall."
"There are thousands upon thousands of Italians in New York."
"And many of them are hard characters—desperate fellows."
"You are right. But there are a great many excellent Italians in New York—men of the highest character and integrity."
"I know that."
"They will aid you."
"How can they aid me? Italy is a very big country. I'd look foolish merely to tell them that a robbery had been committed in Rome and that I wanted to find out something about it."
"What do you want?"
"I want something to start on."
"The Roman police have given us all they can."
"They haven't given us anything."
"Then you think it's no use to start in?"
"I didn't say so. If the man is in New York I'll find him, but I must have something to work on."
"I don't know what I can give you."
"I want a photograph of every member of the family that was robbed. I want a photograph of the servant that was killed, and then I want certain questions answered direct from the family."
"We will have to send to Italy."
"Good enough. I will prepare my questions at once. You can send to Rome for what I want, and in the meantime I will be looking around. It will take about three weeks or a month for us to get a return from Rome. By that time I may have something to start out on, at least a subject for the working of the plan I may form after I hear from Rome."
"I see your point, Oscar; it's well taken."
Dudie Dunne prepared the questions he wished answered and started out for a little tour of observation. He was gotten up as the dude, but he had half a dozen different types of the dude with which he alternated in getting up his disguise. He also was able when occasion required to work the female racket as a cover beyond any other man who had ever attempted the role.
There was one feature of Dudie Dunne's disguises. He acted the character he assumed. He never lost his head or forgot himself, and going around as he did under the guise of one of the most harmless of mortals, he had excellent chances for getting information. Under the fleece of the lamb was the hide of the lion, and there was just where he came in when the crisis was presented. Oscar was standing on the corner of a street waiting for a car to pass when he saw a man suddenly leap off the car, and immediately afterward an old lady ran out to the platform screaming, "Stop thief! stop thief!"
The conductor did not even stop the car, but Dudie was at hand. He made a leap forward, only a leap, for the thief ran close to him, and he seized the rascal, when immediately a second man who had jumped off the car ran up while Oscar was struggling with the thief. The second man proved a confederate of the first, and he grabbed hold of Oscar. There was no policeman near, but a crowd had gathered and the people merely looked on, not understanding the cause of the struggle. They thought it was great fun, and one of the crowd created a laugh by yelling:
"Hang on to him, chappie; hang on to him."
Well, he did not hang on to him—he did better. Thief number two had hauled off to deal Oscar a tremendous blow. He was a large man and appeared to possess great strength, but to the surprise of everybody, chappie, as the crowd had dubbed our hero, let go the man he had been holding just in time to dodge a blow aimed at his head, and he countered with a stinger which sent his assailant staggering to the street. He then as quick as a wink, to the amazement of the crowd, dealt the man he had first seized a sockdologer and down he went, and at the same instant the old lady arrived on the scene. She had beheld the capture and saw the thief knocked out. The crowd cheered at the powers of chappie when the truth went flying around that the two men whom the chappie downed were pickpockets, and that the old lady was their victim. Our hero followed his man and took from him quick as lightning the purse which the thief had slid to his bosom. This he handed to the old lady, who quickly disappeared, and at the same instant a policeman arrived. The thief was a quickwitted fellow and he said:
"Arrest that man. He just robbed an old lady of her pocketbook."
Oscar did appear most like a thief and the policeman seized him.
"Hold on, officer, there's your man," said Oscar, pointing to the retreating thief.
"Oh, you can't play that on me," said the officer, and he commenced without further inquiry to cuff his prisoner over the head in a very rough manner, when suddenly the dude wrested himself clear and let the officer have one on the ear, and then the crowd laughed and jeered as the cop went reeling. Another officer arrived on the field. He also happened to be a fresh Alec. He didn't stop to ask a question but drew his club and made a rush at the supposed thief; the latter had no time to make an explanation. It was take a knock on the head or fight. He decided to fight and explain afterward, so he let "copper" number two have one, and it did appear marvelous, the ease with which he dropped the knights of the brass buttons. Cop number one had regained his feet, and drawing his club was about to make a rush, when Oscar threw back the lapel of his coat, and the officer's eyes rested on a little silver badge that caused him to recoil as though he had been confronted by a ghost.
Both policemen fell to their blunder and the detective said:
"Go and hunt up your right men now and don't be so fast next time."
Assuming his chappie walk our hero ambled away. On the following morning there appeared an account in the papers, telling how a detective, very smartly dressed, had knocked out and captured two pickpockets when a policeman came along and mistaking the detective for the thief permitted the real thief to depart.
A day or two passed when our hero, who made a daily practice to look over the personals in all the journals, saw a little advertisement which read as follows:
"If the detective who recovered an old lady's pocketbook will send his address to Mrs. I. F., Station B, he will hear of something to his advantage."
"Well," ejaculated the officer, "that means me. Now let us see—what shall we do?"
It did not take the detective very long to decide upon his course. He wrote the letter, and proceeding to Station B, mailed it, then he lay around for several hours until he saw a very nice-looking young lady call and ask for a letter addressed to "I. F." The letter was delivered and the girl started off with the detective on her track. He trailed her to an old-fashioned house in a very excellent neighborhood.
The girl meantime entered the house and delivered the letter to an old lady—the same old lady who had been robbed. The latter said, as the girl entered the room to the left of the hall:
"What! you have an answer already?"
The old woman took the letter, opened it and read:
"MADAM: I saw your advertisement. I will call upon you. When a card is presented with the name of the undersigned you will know it is the detective.
"Well, I declare," exclaimed the old lady; "he will call on us."
"But how will he know where to call, aunty; you did not give your address in the advertisement."
"That is so. I had forgotten that. Why, how will he know where to call. I fear I have made a mistake. A man who is as big a dunce as that can be of no service to us."
"But wait, aunty, these men sometimes have dark and mysterious ways of their own for finding out facts. Let's wait and see if he does call."
Even as the girl spoke there came a ring at the door bell, and a few minutes later a servant presented a card on which was the name, "Oscar Dunne."
"Why, Alice, he is here; it's wonderful."
"Will you see him?"
"Yes, retire, my child."
The niece retired and a few moments later Oscar was ushered into the old lady's presence.
DUDIE DUNNE LISTENS TO A STRANGE STORY AND ENTERS UPON A TRAIL THAT LEADS TO MANY VERY STARTLING ADVENTURES.
"I am surprised to see you here."
"Is that so, madam?"
"Why should you be when you expressed a desire to see me?"
"When did I express such a desire?"
"The desire was implied in your advertisement."
"But I did not put my address in the advertisement. How did you establish my identity?"
The detective smiled and said:
"It was a very simple matter, madam."
"I do not understand it."
"I will explain."
"We detectives are compelled to be very careful in all our movements. We have enemies who are constantly seeking to trap us."
"What has all that to do with the fact that you knew my address?"
"I read your advertisement."
"I did not know whether it was genuine or a decoy sent out by the thieves who robbed you."
"But even that does not explain how you obtained my address."
"By a very simple plan, madam."
"Tell me your plan."
"I mailed the letter to you."
"I knew you would send a messenger for it."
"I lay around the post office for your messenger. When she came I followed her here."
"Oh, I see; well, how stupid I am. It is evident I am not a female detective. I never should have thought of that expedient."
"It is a very simple one. If it had been a trap the parties sending the letter would have taken precautions not to be trapped that way."
"I see, yes, I see; well, you are not a dunce after all."
"Thank you. You wished to see me?"
"Madam, what is your name, please?"
"My name is Mrs. Frewen."
"Who is the young lady who called for the answer to the advertisement?"
"And her name?"
"Alice Frewen. She is my brother's daughter. She is an orphan."
"You wished to see me on business?"
"Why did you send for me?"
"I will tell you. I read in the papers that you were a detective. I saw your bold act in catching the thief who had robbed me, and a little incident occurred that suggested to me that I had better consult with a detective. I had beheld your gallant action and my niece suggested the plan of the advertisement for your employment."
"Very well, madam; on what business do you desire to consult me about?"
The old lady produced a letter which read:
"DEAR MADAM: You are in danger. Remove all the portable valuables from your house; leave nothing around that thieves can carry away.
The detective read and re-read the missive and finally asked in a simple sort of way:
"Who sent this, madam?"
"You see the signature."
"That is all I know."
"Can you form the least idea as to who this friend, or rather this so-called friend is? Have you the least suspicion as to his identity?"
"I have not."
"Has your niece?"
"This letter would suggest that there is a scheme on foot to rob you."
"That is the suggestion that came to me when I first read the note."
"Have you any articles of special value in the house?"
"You are a detective."
"I believe your identity and respectability are sufficiently well established for me to answer you frankly."
"Madam, you can reserve your answer if you choose until you thoroughly establish my identity and respectability."
"It is not necessary. I am satisfied. Yes, I have articles of special value in this house."
"Who would be likely to know the fact?"
"No one beyond my niece."
"You cannot think of any one who would be apt to know that you had articles of special value in the house?"
"Is there any one whom you suspect of wishing to scare you?"
"No, the fact is we have no acquaintances in New York. We have lived abroad many years and only returned to New York about six months ago. This house came to me by inheritance. It was leased for ten years to a family whom I never knew. My agent leased it. It stood idle for six months, until I came and reopened it upon my return home about six months ago."
"When you were abroad where did you reside principally?"
"In Paris; my niece attended school in France."
"I suppose you had a great many friends in Paris?"
"No, very few; I am not of a social turn at all. I do not seek friends. I live a very secluded life for reasons which it is not necessary to explain."
"Then there are none of your Paris friends whom you would suspect as the author of that warning note?"
The detective re-read the note, examined it very carefully, and finally said:
"We can form no suspicion from the note itself."
"Madam, have you an album?"
"Will you let me look at it?"
"For what purpose?"
"I wish to look at the pictures of some of the people you knew in Paris."
The old lady smiled and said:
"The album belongs to my niece. It is merely a collection of prominent French characters—public men, statesmen, army officers, musicians, painters and actors—the photographs do not represent friends of ours."
"Still you have no objection to my seeing it?"
"Please let me see it, and if you have no objection let your niece be present. She may recall facts that have possibly slipped from your memory."
"You are a very strange young man."
"Yes, I am a very strange young man and I go about my business in a strange manner. Madam, you did the right thing when you sent for me. You and your niece are two lone ladies living in this house. It is evident some one has discovered that you have valuables in your house. A scheme of robbery, it would appear from the warning note, is contemplated. Some one friendly to you has learned of the intended robbery and has warned you. This warning may not only save your property but your life, and it is necessary that we should make every effort to learn who sent the warning note. I desire to see the photographs."
Mrs. Frewen summoned her niece and requested her to bring her photograph album. The niece entered the room and was introduced to our hero, and she failed to conceal her surprise upon being informed that the handsome young man, so exquisitely attired, was a celebrated and successful detective. If Oscar noted her surprise he did not indicate it, but took the album and deliberately commenced turning over its pages, and the niece standing over him said:
"You will only find pictures of well-known characters in the album. I do not think there is a photograph of a single friend of ours in the book."
"Then you have another book?"
"You do not keep pictures of your friends?"
"It is unfortunate under the present circumstances; but, miss, what public character is the original of that photograph?"
The girl blushed and answered:
"I had forgotten that the picture was in the album."
"Ah, I see; but who is the original?"
"Oh, he is a young man whose mother I knew in Paris. Aunty was very kind to the mother and also to the young man at the time he was sick."
"Did you ever see this young man?"
"Did your aunt ever see him?"
"Yes, she remained with the mother one or two nights, aiding in nursing him, and she supported them during his illness."
"What created your aunt's interest in the young man?"
"His mother had been her maid many years previously."
"What is the character of the young man?"
The girl did not answer.
"You do not answer me."
"It is a very singular question."
"I never saw the young man, how should I know anything concerning his character?"
Mrs. Frewen had been an interested listener to the conversation, and turning to the aunt our hero said:
"You know this young man?"
"He is a very handsome young fellow, I should think, from his picture."
"Yes, and a very unfortunate young man."
"In what way—simply because his mother was poor?"
"No, there is a mystery connected with his life."
"What is the mystery?"
"I believe his father is a nobleman, although his mother was my governess."
"Ah, your governess?"
"Not your maid?"
"She acted as governess and maid both. She was a very handsome woman. We were in Italy when she eloped and ran away."
"Did she run away and get married?"
"She claimed she was married."
"Whom did she marry?"
"She would never reveal the man's identity."
"Do you know that it was a nobleman?"
"You only suspect?"
"What led you to the suspicion."
"Hints that Madam Donetti dropped from time to time."
"This young man's name is Donetti?"
"He is known as Alphonse Donetti."
"An Italian name."
"Then you conclude his mother married an Italian?"
"Was he a sober, industrious young man?"
"No, he appeared to feel very much embittered at the idea of being poor. He claimed to be of high birth. Indeed I have suspected that his mother was a woman descended from a good old French family; at any rate the young man is very high-blooded, fond of gay life, and unable to gratify his desires."
"Did he ever to your knowledge commit a crime?"
"Never to my knowledge."
"Did you ever hear it whispered that he was a criminal?"
The old lady did not answer.
"You do not answer me."
"I fear he caused his mother a great deal of anxiety at times."
"His mother still resides in France?"
"She is dead."
"Where is the young man?"
"I don't know."
"Where did you see him last?"
"How long ago?"
"About a year ago."
"When and where?"
"I saw him upon the street."
"Did you address him?"
The woman did not answer.
"Please answer me."
"He was in the hands of a sergeant de ville."
"He was under arrest?"
"For what offense?"
"I never inquired, and the day following my niece and I started for London."
"You have no reason to suspect that Alphonse Donetti is in the United States, in fact in New York?"
"The suggestion did not arise in my mind until you began to question me about him, then I did ask myself the question: Could it have been Alphonse Donetti who sent me that warning note?"
The detective meditated a long time and then said:
"The chances are that Alphonse Donetti sent you that warning note."
"I cannot think who else could have sent it, and yet I have no knowledge that he is in the United States."
"The note is written in good English."
"Yes, Alphonse was educated in England; his mother devoted her life to him, and as long as she had a cent she denied him nothing. All her money was spent when she came to me, and I aided her."
"And Alphonse knew of your generosity to his mother?"
"And she married an Italian?"
"I believe it was an Italian with whom she eloped. We were living in Florence at the time. She deserted me and ran away."
"And you did not see her until many years afterward?"
"And then you met her in Paris?"
"Was Donetti her married name?"
"I have every reason to believe it was an assumed name. I firmly believe she eloped with some man of high family, even though he may not have been a nobleman, but I believe he was a nobleman."
"You say Madam Donetti was a handsome young lady?"
"Very handsome—a beautiful woman and refined, also highly educated. There was a mystery about her while she was acting as my governess."
"Governess to whom—yourself?"
"No, an older sister of Alice."
"She was a Frenchwoman?"
"I always believed so, but as she assumed the name of Donetti it is possible she may have been Italian, or her parents may have been Italian people."
"She spoke Italian?"
"She did indeed. She spoke all the continental languages, also English, and her son is a splendid linguist."
"Madam, that note came from Alphonse Donetti."
"And what does it portend?"
The detective meditated a few moments and then said:
"I can only theorize."
"And what is your theory?"
"I fear Alphonse has gotten into bad company. I fear he is associating with thieves. He may have learned that there was a scheme on foot to rob you. He did not dare warn you fully, but sent you this missive, and the fact that he sent you this note would indicate that no matter how bad a man he has become he still possesses the quality of gratitude. A very rare quality, madam; few possess it. Forgetfulness and selfishness prevail as a rule."
"What are we to do?"
"Will you leave the decision with me?"
"We will guard against a robbery, and in the meantime I will hunt up this young man Donetti; if he is in New York I will find him."
Mrs. Frewen meditated a few moments in turn and then said:
"I do not know as I wish to renew his acquaintance, especially as he has probably become a criminal."
Oscar smiled, but the smile on his face vanished as he caught an expression on the face of the niece Alice as she said:
"Aunty, we have no reason to assume that Al—I mean the young man has become a criminal."
The girl started to say Alphonse but checked herself and said, "the young man."
Oscar was a regular mind-reader, and he remarked in a tone indicating a forgetfulness that the question had once been answered:
"So you never had the pleasure of seeing this young man, Miss Alice?"
The girl blushed and appeared restless and uneasy as she answered:
The detective turned to Mrs. Frewen and said:
"It may be necessary to hunt up this young man in order to run down the criminals who, we are to assume, are about to make an attempt to rob you."
"I fear the young man is a criminal."
"But, aunty, he is very considerate when he warns us."
"Yes, he owes it to me, and I am glad he evidently possesses at least one good quality; but I fear his deeds were the death of his mother. She did not reveal to me all she knew about her son, that is evident, and now under the new light I can see clearly and interpret many little incidents that before I could not understand."
"I will ask to borrow this picture, madam."
"You can take it," said the elder lady, but the younger one said:
"No, no, aunty, do not let the gentleman have the picture."
"Why not, my child?"
"Well, it is better that he does not discover the young man. In case his theories are correct it might lead to mortifying incidents. We do not know the young man, and probably it is better that we let him drop from our memories forever."
"I will see that no complications arise from the discovery of the young man. If he is a criminal who has come over here from France it may be as well to cut him short in his career of crime on this side of the ocean as quickly as possible."
"And what would you do?"
"It is my duty to note every criminal as far as I can, and run him down if he makes himself answerable to our laws."
"You have no proof that this young man is a criminal."
"No, I have no proof, but I am satisfied that he is a criminal, and it is possible I can already associate him with a very grave crime."
The face of Alice became ghastly as her aunt asked:
"Alice, why do you show such interest in this criminal?"
"Aunty, I only show the interest that is natural, considering the esteem in which you held his mother."
The keen eyes of the detective were on the girl and he reached a very startling conclusion, and other very strange and startling suggestions and suspicions were running through his mind.
"I will take the photograph," he said, "and will guarantee no unpleasant incidents will follow my possession of it; and now, madam, one more point—I will come to your house to-night between eleven o'clock and midnight and remain here as a private watchman in order to anticipate the visit of the burglars in case a raid on your house is meditated."
"I am glad to have you do so, and I will have a room prepared for you, and I will pay you according to what you may think your services demand."
DUDIE DUNNE LAYS LOW FOR THE HOUSEBREAKERS, MAKES A GREAT CAPTURE, AND ALSO MAKES A VERY PECULIAR DISCOVERY.
The detective completed his arrangements for spending a night in the house. He also gave instructions to Mrs. Frewen and her niece just what they were to do under the possibilities of the approaching night. A little later and the detective took his departure, and still later met the chief, to whom he said:
"Strange incidents meet us in our profession, chief."
"Well, I should say so. What have you struck now?"
"I am not sure, chief, but I've an idea that I have run by accident right on to the Roman burglar. If I have it's the most extraordinary chance that ever occurred in our profession."
Oscar proceeded and related to the chief what had occurred. The latter listened and said:
"I don't see where the Roman robbery comes in."
"Well, you've been busy, and your mind is not clear."
"I feel pretty clear in my head."
Oscar opened up the key to his theory and the chief exclaimed:
"Dudie, you're a genius. By all that's strange and wonderful I should not be amazed if you are right, and do you know there is the biggest sort of a reward offered for the capture of the thief."
"Chief, if my ideas are fully confirmed we may not seek the reward. I don't know but my suspicions run a great way in this case, and if the fact proves true—well, we'll talk it over after we locate, identify and prove the crime on our man."
It was just about eleven o'clock when Dudie Dunne turned the corner to go to the house where he was to spend the night. He was walking along lost in a brown study when suddenly a hand was laid lightly upon his shoulder. He turned and beheld a veiled woman.
Now, reader, don't exclaim, "There comes one of Old Sleuth's veiled women again," for I tell you veiled women are floating around every day and night in great cities, and especially those who, like our veiled women, are out at such a late hour on special business.
"Can I have a few words with you, Mr. Dunne?" came the question.
"Great Scott!" thought our hero, but the exclamation did not escape his lips.
"Certainly, Miss Alice," he answered.
"I can rely upon your honor that what passes between us shall be strictly confidential?"
"You will not even reveal the fact that I met you?"
"I will not, but will not your aunt miss you?"
"No, she retired over an hour ago. She is a heavy sleeper; even the prospect of a visit from burglars would not keep her awake as long as the prospect was only a suspicion. She is a very brave lady; my aunt is a very remarkable woman."
"No doubt; but now what can I do for you?"
"A crisis compels me to be singularly frank with you."
"It is better so if I am to serve you in any way."
"I am about to make an extraordinary request."
"It is possible those burglars may visit our house to-night."
"Yes, it is possible, not probable. I tell you now I am only exercising due precaution, I do not really anticipate a visit from the housebreakers."
"You have a reason for your conclusion?"
"What is it?"
"Never mind; but I wish to make a request."
"If the robbers do enter our house, the moment you spring upon them they will attempt to escape of course."
"That will naturally be what they will attempt, I should say."
"If you surprise them they will be defeated."
"They will not have taken anything."
"Then let them escape."
"That is your request?"
"It is indeed a very singular one."
"I cannot explain why I make such a request, but please let them escape. I repeat I cannot explain why I make the request."
"You cannot explain why you make such a strange request?"
"You need not."
"Thank you, and I am to understand that my request is granted?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you need not make any explanation, that is all."
The girl stared. Our hero could not see her eyes, for she was veiled, but her attitude indicated that she was staring at him and he knew with a look of surprise on her face.
"Why do you not seek an explanation of such an extraordinary request?"
"Simply because it is really unnecessary. I know why you make the request. I fully comprehend your motive."
An exclamation escaped the veiled lady.
"No, no, it is impossible that you understand."
"I will prove to you that I do understand. You fear that Alphonse Donetti will be one of the burglars. You do not desire him to be captured. See what a mind-reader I am."
"Why do you assume that Alphonse will be one of the robbers?"
"Merely because you do, that's all."
"How do you know that I do?"
"You would not make the extraordinary request unless that was your fear."
"You are a strange man."
The detective laughed and answered:
"And you are a very strangely acting lady. It is indeed a strange thing for a lady who expects robbers to visit her house to ask that they be permitted to escape. I must do my duty, miss, I cannot grant your request unless you ask that I let Alphonse go and arrest the others."
"No, that will not do," she exclaimed, "for the others would betray him."
"Aha!" ejaculated the detective, "human-like you have given yourself away. Do not again deny your real motive for making the request."
The girl recognized that indeed she had betrayed herself, and in a tone of distress she muttered:
"Oh, what shall I do?"
"I can tell you."
"Make a full confidant of me."
"Will you believe me?"
"I know of no reason why I should doubt your word."
"I have already deceived you."
"Eh! you have already deceived me?"
"In what direction?"
"I told you I had never seen or spoken to Alphonse Donetti?"
"My denial was false."
The detective was silent.
"I did not dare let my aunt know that I had ever seen him."
"And you have met?"
"Yes, very often. He has confided in me."
"One moment! are you his affianced wife?"
"On my honor, I am not; but knowing his real story I sympathize with him most heartily."
"He has revealed to you more than his mother ever revealed to your aunt?"
"Tell me what he revealed to you."
"Oh, but you can."
"No, I am bound by an oath; I cannot break my oath."
The detective meditated and then asked:
"Do you know that Donetti is in New York?"
"I do not."
"Have you reason to suspect that he is?"
"I had no reason to so suspect until you indicated that he was possibly the author of the warning note, then I did suspect that he was in New York."
"Have you any grounds for believing that he is a criminal?"
"I have not."
"Then why do you fear he may be with the robbers to-night?"
"I do not know to what desperate deeds his many wrongs and privations may have driven him. If he is in New York I will find him. If he is being driven toward the career of a criminal I will save him. If you arrest him I cannot save him, and yet he deserves to be saved, for he is the victim of a great wrong."
Again the detective meditated. He was revolving strange theories in his mind, and mentally he concluded: "This is a very unfortunate girl, but she is only one of a type of woman who can be thus fascinated." After an interval he said:
"I do not think Alphonse will be one of the robbers."
"You believe he is in New York?"
"Yes, I believe so."
"How would he know of the intended robbery?"
"That is a question I cannot answer. Indeed I can advance no theory, but I do not believe he will be one of the robbers."
"It is possible he is not in New York at all."
"Yes, it is possible, but the probabilities are that he is."
Alice appeared very unhappy, and our hero could not console her with a promise, simply because he had reason to believe that Alphonse Donetti was possibly already liable to arrest for a previous crime.
"You can give me no comfort?" she said at length.
"No, beyond the fact that I will agree to let Alphonse escape in case he is among the burglars who may possibly enter your house."
"And the others will betray him."
"No, you need not fear that; but time passes, I must go and take up my position. You had better return to your home and I will appear later."
The girl slowly walked away and our hero muttered:
"Well, this is a complication. That girl loves a thief, possibly an assassin."
A little later and Oscar Dunne entered the house. All was as it had been agreed it should be, and yet the detective commenced a search. There was a hall pantry off the rear parlor. The detective tried the door; it was locked, but by a little trick of his own he opened it and flashed the light of his tiny mask lantern inside, and there sure enough stood Alice Frewen. The girl colored, but assumed a very defiant look as she said:
"You had no business to force yourself into my room."
"Your room is of very narrow dimensions, but under the circumstances I was compelled to force my way in as I wish to use this room as my hiding place, and further I do not propose that you shall give the burglars warning. I am here to catch them and I will."
"Never; I will warn them. I will light the gas and sit up all night."
"Oh, you will?"
"Do not resolve upon so rash a proceeding."
"I shall do as I threaten."
"I am sorry, but I shall be compelled to arouse your aunt and inform her of your intention; also as an explanation, reveal to her all that you have revealed to me."
The girl burst into tears and exclaimed:
"I am at your mercy; what shall I do?"
"I'll tell you what to do."
"Please tell me."
"Trust me. Trust my judgment and consideration for your feelings."
"Let me explain."
"Yes, you are at liberty to explain."
"I wish to save that young man simply because I believe he is the victim of a great wrong. I do not believe he is bad at heart—not a criminal by nature."
"I will not question your motive, but you cannot interfere with the performance of my duty, but I will promise you that no harm shall come to the young man until I am convinced that he is an irreclaimable villain. If he is the victim of wrong he shall have my aid and sympathy. I can promise you no more than that, beyond the assurance that I am sincere, and I know just what to do."
"I will trust you."
"You are wise."
"You will keep my secret?"
"As long as you obey my instructions."
"I will obey your instructions."
"Then retire to your room and do not come forth until I summon you, or you are summoned by your aunt."
The girl ascended the stairs and our hero prepared for a night's vigil. He was acting, as he stated, merely as a matter of precaution. He did not anticipate the advent of the burglars, but he was just as watchful and careful as though he knew for a certainty that they would come. He did not sleep, but lay down on a sofa in the rear parlor, raising the two windows so as to overhear any noise in case the thieves should put in an appearance. He knew the habits of the robbers well enough. He knew how their methods would be adapted to the lay of the house they were to enter. The house was detached, and there was a storm shed in the rear protecting the back kitchen door. Here was where he anticipated they would make their entrance. Once in the storm shed they could take their time in opening the kitchen door, and could also make all their arrangements for escape in case of discovery.
The hours passed until about three o'clock in the morning, when the detective, who despite all his doubts had been on the alert, heard a sound. He peeped out, and there sure enough he beheld three men in the yard, and he muttered:
"By ginger! they are here. Well, I didn't expect them, but I will welcome them."
Dudie Dunne was a very resolute young man. He wore moccasins and with noiseless tread passed to the kitchen stairway and there took up his position. He knew the men would advance by the stairs the moment they succeeded in getting into the house. Holding his position he waited, and was not surprised at the celerity of their movements, for within ten minutes after his first recognition of their presence in the yard he had evidence that they were in the house—and there he stood at the head of the kitchen stairs prepared to lay them out.
The men were old hands at the business. They wasted no time, but started to ascend the kitchen stairs just as Oscar had calculated they would. He lay low until the foremost man was just at the last step, when a club cut the air; there followed a thud and an outcry and the man went over backward upon the man who was following him.
The detective leaned down the stairs. He stepped over the man he had struck and arrived at the foot of the stairs just as robber number two had risen to his feet, having been knocked down by his pal's fall. Again the club cut the air and robber number two received a clip that disabled him and the detective sprang along to the kitchen. Robber number three had been on the watch. He knew some thing had gone wrong and ran to the kitchen to hear what had occurred. He arrived just in time to run up against that effective club, and he too went down, and as he fell the detective leaped upon him and fixed the darbies on him. He then retired to the basement hall stairs, and arrived just as number two had a second time risen to his feet; the man received a second dose from the club and went down again, and in less time than it takes to record it the darbies were run on him. Robber number one had not moved; the blow he had received had sort of settled him for a little rest, but the detective put the steel bands on him all the same, and then he turned on the gas. None of the burglars had masks on, although they had their little face-hiders hanging to their lapels like a pair of eyeglasses.
Oscar went to each man and flashed the light of his lantern in their faces one after the other, and then he muttered:
"Well, he is not here; so far so good."
The detective went to the front door and swung his light, and in less than two minutes two men appeared. They were admitted and led down to the kitchen where they seized the robbers. Our hero had recognized two of the men. They were the fellows who had played him for a "chappie."
The three burglars were led through the kitchen door to the yard and marched off, three of the most surprised housebreakers that were ever captured; and right here we have a word to say. There is nothing romantic and daring in housebreaking. It is one of the most atrocious crimes on the criminal calendar. It is simply terrible to think of people defenseless and helpless in their own homes and beds when masked men, prepared to do murder, steal in to rob them. There is no palliation for this offense, for there is no crime, save that of forgery, that is conducted with so much forethought, decision and calculation—yes, calculation to do murder if it becomes necessary, for they go prepared to kill; and it is a grand thing when one of these cruel scoundrels is caught and punished. They are not entitled to sympathy, despite the fact that some mawkish Sunday-school books sometimes present the good-hearted burglar. If there is any crime that deserves death anywhere near the liability of murder it is the crime of burglary, for a man who will enter a house to steal is the meanest criminal on the face of the earth, and it is well when they are shot down right in their tracks and in the act of their crime.
The three burglars, as stated, were led away, and our hero, who had effected the capture so neatly, ascended the stairs and at the parlor door met Alice Frewen.
"They have been here."
"You have disobeyed me."
"I did not until I knew it was all over."
"Did you know it was all over?"
"I was watching and listening."
"Well, they did come. I did not expect them, I will admit."
"You have captured them?"
"All of them?"
"Did you see their faces?"
"He was not among them."
"You are sure?"
"I am sure."
"Remember, he may have been under a disguise."
"He was not with them. I recognized all the three men. I know them. No, he was not with them, and the chances are all our theories were wrong, but we will learn later on."
DUDIE DUNNE STARTS OUT ON A QUEST AND ENCOUNTERS SOME VERY CURIOUS ADVENTURES, TOGETHER WITH SEVERAL RUN-INS WITH MEN WHO TAKE HIM FOR A CHAPPIE.
The girl Alice appeared to be greatly relieved and retired to her room while our hero lay down on the sofa and slept. He needed some rest and was glad of the opportunity to secure it.
On the following morning he saw Mrs. Frewen. That good lady had slept along undisturbed while the exciting incidents we have recorded were transpiring. Our hero related to her all that had occurred, and she said:
"Well, you are a very faithful man, and I desire a confidential talk with you."
Mrs. Frewen and the detective were in the rear sitting-room. The old lady closed the door and said in a low tone:
"What I say to you is purely confidential."
"All right, madam."
"You captured the burglars?"
"You saw their faces?"
"Plainly enough to identify them in case you had known them?"
"Did you recognize any of them?"
"I recognized them all."
"What is it you want to know?"
"Was he among them?"
"The young man Alphonse Donetti?"
There came a disappointed look to the old lady's face and she said:
"I am sorry."
"You are sorry, madam."
"Yes, I am sorry."
"I have no confidence in that young man."
"Do you know that he is in New York?"
"I do not know, but I suspect that he is."
"And you wanted him captured as a burglar?"
"After he sent you the warning note?"
The detective was silent, but there came a curious expression to his face.
"It may appear strange to you."
"I can trust you?"
"Yesterday I made a discovery, or rather you made one for me."
"By the finding of that photograph in that album. I have long suspected a certain fact, now I have evidence that there are grounds for my suspicions."
"Will you speak plainly, madam?"
"Again I ask, can I trust you?"
"In a matter purely personal?"
"Then I will declare that I have reason to suspect that the rascal, Alphonse Donetti, has fascinated my niece, and I fear the girl has been deliberately deceiving me."
Our hero made no comment, and the old lady continued:
"At the terror of fearing that my own flesh and blood has been fascinated by a thief—in my opinion a born thief—the son of a thief—a low, vile, reckless scoundrel, yes, that is what I fear. It was this suspicion that caused me to leave Paris. And now, Oscar Dunne, you can make your fortune. I am a very rich woman; I can pay a great price. I want you to aid me to save my niece, even if she is compelled to gaze on the dead face of her lover."
"Madam, what do you mean? Can you believe that money will tempt me to commit a murder?"
"No, sir, I am not a murderess, but I believe money will induce you to bring a murderer to justice, and have him hung as he deserves."
"Well," thought the detective, "here is a pretty kettle of fish right in one family."
"Madam, are you sure you have made a discovery?"
"Yes, I have other evidences. What I learned yesterday was only confirmatory."
"I see you are disposed to trust me."
"Let me say for myself that your confidence is not displaced, and if you have reason to believe that your niece is in love with a criminal, and if we prove the man to be a criminal, I will aid you in removing the human toy beyond her reach. I will send him up to the gallows."
"Well, now, you are assuming that he is a murderer."
"I have every reason to believe that he is, and I think the evidence can be secured to convict him; but why should he seek to marry your niece?"
"He knows she is an heiress—yes, a great heiress. She is heir to millions, and will have the money in her own right without any restraint upon her use or misuse of it whatever."
"When she becomes of age."
"How old is she now?"
"In about three years she will come into absolute possession of her fortune."
"And this man, you think, has bewitched her?"
"And yet she denied ever having met him."
"I know it, and I will say this in her favor; she is a noble and truthful girl. She believes that wretch innocent. She thinks I am unwarrantably prejudiced, and that under the circumstances it is not wrong to deceive me. She thinks he is a wronged young man. She has been assailed on a woman's weakest side—her sympathies."
"Have you positive evidence that the young man is the villain you believe him to be?"
"Not positive evidence, not convicting evidence; that is what I want you to obtain."
"Is it not possible that your niece is right?"
"Right!" almost screamed Mrs. Frewen.
"Is it not possible that the young man has been wronged and is innocent?"
"No, she is not right. He is guilty, and you must obtain the proofs, and I will pay you an enormous reward."
"Madam, I will try and earn the reward, and in order to do so you must tell me what evidence you have of this young man's guilt."
"I have no evidence."
"You have no evidence?"
"No actual evidence."
"On what do you found your suspicions?"
"His general character."
"What is his general character?"
"I don't know positively. All I know is what I have heard and general rumor."
"One more question. Have you any evidence that he is in America?"
"Here again I have no evidence, but there are certain circumstances that point conclusively to the fact that he is in New York."
"And do you believe he sent you the warning note?"
"What could have been his object?"
"Oh, it was a cunning trick on his part. He is making evidence, that's all."
"To establish what?"
"That he is a pure young man and has been wronged. I really believed he would be with the burglars. You are to establish the fact that he instigated the robbery, that these men are his pals, as you detectives call them, and you are to follow him up and establish his career as a professional thief and criminal."
"I must find him first."
"Yes, you must find him, and I think you will succeed. You have his photograph; it is an excellent picture; when she got it I don't know, and I tell you it was hard for me to dissimulate yesterday, but I do not desire her to know that I suspect, even when we have all the proofs, and want it to come as a revelation to her. I never wish her to know that I ever suspected the truth."
"Madam, I will undertake to establish the fact that this young man is a criminal, or the victim of cruel suspicions."
"He is a criminal, I am sure of it."
"One moment; do you wish it to be established that he is a criminal, whether he is or not?"
The detective fixed a keen look on Mrs. Frewen's face as he asked the question. A moment the old lady hesitated and then said:
Promptly the detective answered:
"Under these circumstances, madam, you will have to secure the services of another person."
"But do not forget your reward."
"Madam, all your wealth would not induce me to manufacture evidence making it appear that an innocent man was a criminal."
There came a pleased look to the old lady's face and she said:
"I said that to try you. I know now I can trust you—yes, trust your honor and your judgment. I will amend my answer. It will please me very much to learn that the young man is innocent. All I ask of you is to prove his guilt if he is guilty, his innocence if he is innocent."
"With that understanding I will undertake the case, and I will say here that at present evidences point to the suspicion that he is a guilty man, possibly guilty of the crime of murder."
The old lady dropped her voice and her utterance was husky as she asked:
"What evidence have you?"
"No evidence yet, but I have a suspicion. I propose to follow it up."
"Tell me about it."
"I can tell you nothing at present. My first object will be to establish the fact that Alphonse Donetti is in America, and that he wrote the note to you. I will communicate with you later."
The detective went straight to the Tombs. He was admitted to the cell of one of the burglars. He was under a new disguise and he played a great game for information. His object was to identify Alphonse Donetti with the burglars. He did not succeed, but by skillful maneuvering he got a hint that caused him to pay a visit to an outlying district on Long Island, where there is located quite a colony of Italians. It was a warm and pleasant afternoon; our hero was gotten up as Dudie Dunne, and he attracted considerable attention as a genuine chappie. Indeed, on the car when riding to his destination he was made the subject of considerable merriment by a number of men in the car. He paid no attention, but he marked one of the men pretty well. This latter individual was particularly insulting, and there was no occasion for his insults. Simply because our hero had done nothing and had a perfect right to dress as a chappie if he so elected, that fact did not warrant actual insult. As the car stopped and our hero alighted the man who had made himself conspicuous as an insulter said:
"Let's get off, fellers, and I'll give you an exhibition."
The men were under the influence of liquor and the whisky had made "Smart Alecs" of them, as it frequently does with men who have little brain and reason even when sober. The men all appeared to think it would be a good joke to see the exhibition and they left the car. Oscar had heard the man's invitation, and having made up his mind that it was an opportunity to teach one ruffian to mind his own business he took a course favorable for the exhibition, and started to go across an open lot; the men followed, and just as our hero arrived near a quagmire the man who was to give the exhibition ran forward and grasped Oscar.
The latter appeared to be terribly scared and exclaimed:
"Don't; let me alone; I have not harmed you."
"I think I know you."
"Oh, no, you don't know me—hee, hee, hee! I am a stranger around here. You are mistaken; you never saw me before."
"Yes, I have seen you before."
"Oh, no, you are, you are mistaken."
"Yes, I recognize you, mister. I saw you insult a lady—yes, I saw you insult a lady."
"Oh, no, never, never! What! I insult a lady! No, no, I admire the ladies."
"But I saw you insult one, and I am going to punish you."
"You are mistaken, my friend—yes, you are mistaken, if you saw me speak to a lady. It was a bit of gallantry, that is all. Yes, I am very gallant to the ladies, I am a sort of defender of the ladies—their champion—yes, sir, their champion."
Dudie Dunne rather spunked up in manner as he spoke, and the men all laughed merrily.
"You did insult a lady, and I challenge you to fight me."
"Ou! ou! my dear friend, you are mad!"
"Yes, I am mad enough to knock you into the middle of next week, but I am going to give you a chance. You must fight me."
"Fight you, my friend?"
"Yes, fight me."
"You had better be careful. Don't challenge me to fight you. I am a gentleman, I am, and an athlete. You are only a common man; you can't fight me."
The men all laughed at the idea of the dude's being an athlete.
"I know you are an athlete, but you must fight me all the same."
"I beg your pardon, my friend, I cannot fight you here on the public street."
"You need not fight me here."
"But I don't wish to fight you at all."
"But you must fight me."
"Where can I fight you?"
"Oh, we can go right over there in the grove—no one will see us—but you must fight."
"You do not want me to thrash you, do you?"
"Yes, I do."
"You are not seeking for a fight, are you?"
"Yes, I am."
"Why, my friend, you'll get a surprise if you fight me. I am a regular fighter, I am—hee, hee, hee! I don't want to take advantage of you."
Little did those fellows dream as they laughed that the supposed chappie was telling the truth. Indeed he had a surprise for them and he intended to work up to the climax for all it was worth.
"Come on, I am going to make you fight me."
The challenger was quite a lusty fellow, and on appearances one would have thought he would knock the chappie over with a mere side-swing of his arm.
"Say, you fellows are foolish. Don't provoke me; I am a terror—yes, I am—hee, hee, hee!"
"All right, I am looking for a terror."
"And you want me to go over to the grove?"
"And you insist upon it?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, I'll go over with you."
The party, full of glee, walked over to the grove.
There was the challenger and two friends and our hero, and he amused his friends by a display of his agility, his muscle and sinew. When they reached the grove the fellow who was to fight threw off his coat and Oscar said:
"See here! It's a good deal of trouble for me to thrash you; it's like work—I don't like work. I'll give you fellows fifteen cents to go to get your beer and call it off."
The men guffawed.
"Come on," said the challenger, walking up and squaring for Oscar. The latter stood with his hands at his sides, a picture of effeminacy, but when the man tapped him on the nose a most singular and astonishing result followed. Seemingly without an exertion the dude let drive, caught his assailant and insulter on the forehead and sent him tumbling, heels up. It was one of the cleanest knock-downs on record.
OSCAR HAD PROMISED A SURPRISE AND HE MAKES GOOD HIS PROMISE, AND AFTER SERVING OUT THE MAN AND HIS FRIENDS HE STARTS OUT AND ENCOUNTERS MORE SERIOUS ADVENTURES.
Our hero had promised the men a surprise, and he kept his word. A more surprised man than the fellow who caught the stinging blow never went whirling to the ground. It is stated that a similar scene frequently occurred with Billy Edwards, the light-weight champion, years ago, who gave no evidence in his appearance of being the athlete and powerful hitter that he really was.
The man who got it was a little dazed when he recovered his feet. He looked surprised indeed, but made a rush, possibly thinking there had been some mistake and he had been kicked by a mule instead of receiving the sockdologer from the effeminate-looking dude. He made a rush, as stated, when Dudie Dunne got into shape, worked his attitude, and dancing around his antagonist a moment he let drive again, and a second time the astonished insulter and challenger went whirling to the ground, blood spurting from his nose while his eyes began to swell.
The two other men were so surprised they just stood and looked on. Indeed it was a curious sight, but Oscar did not intend them to have the laugh so easy. Like the Irishman and the bull they had had their laugh before they went over the fence. It was their turn, thought Dudie Dunne, and as he gave his first assailant the second clip he swung round and quick as a flash light of a photographer he let the two men successively have it square on the forehead and over they went, heels up. When they recovered their feet they used them—used them to good advantage—in getting away, while chappie went for number one again, but the fellow begged—-actually begged—and our hero picking up his coat flung it at him and commanded:
"Get away, you dirty dog, and mind what you are at next time you attempt to insult a man who did no harm to you."
The whole tone and manner of the supposed dude had changed, and as the three men joined each other at some distance one of them said:
"What was it we struck?"
"I reckon we struck against a stone wall or a flying brick, from the way my face is swelling."
The men had gotten their surprise, and our hero, as a matter of prudence, being alone in the grove, changed his disguise, dropped the chappie role altogether, and walked off in an opposite direction. He had visited the neighborhood for a special purpose, and his run-in with the three rowdies had only been a side diversion.
Oscar walked over to a row of dilapidated-looking houses, where he had presented a view of the miserable condition in which human beings can live and thrive. On the way over he passed the three men whom he had served out, and so complete was his disguise they failed to recognize him. He walked past the cottages several times and only attracted a passing glance; or it is more probable that those who saw him did not recognize that he had passed and repassed. Oscar was going by for the third time when he saw a face—a dark face with glittering black eyes—appear at one of the upper windows just for an instant. Our hero, however, was one of those who can take in a great deal at a glance and he muttered:
"Aha! a fish has seen the bait, now there will come a nibble."
The detective after a little passed down by the row of houses for the fourth time, and he kept his eyes seemingly in one direction, when in fact his glance was directed toward the window where for one instant he had seen the dark face. The face did not appear again, and he muttered:
"That was a nibble, sure. Now we will see."
He repassed the houses for the fifth time, going very slowly, but seemingly attracted no attention. He was aware, however, that he was being very closely observed, not from the window where he had seen the face, but by a female and a rather pretty-looking young Italian woman, and as our hero passed she smiled upon him very sweetly—and she could smile sweetly—and her glittering black eyes were illuminated with a brilliance that was charming.
Our hero stopped short, stepped toward the stoop on which the girl was sitting, and asked:
"Do you speak English?"
"Yes," came the answer, and again the maiden smiled a bewildering smile.
"Do you live in these houses?"
"Do you know a young lady named Fennetti?"
"That is my name," and the girl smiled even more sweetly than before. The detective did not smile, however, but the regret shot through his mind: "Why in thunder did I chance to pitch upon that name?"