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That Mainwaring Affair By A. Maynard Barbour Characters: 33665

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


A dull, cheerless day in the early part of December was merging into a stormy night as the west-bound express over one of the transcontinental railways, swiftly winding its way along the tortuous course of a Rocky Mountain canyon, suddenly paused before the long, low depot of a typical western mining city. The arc lights swinging to and fro shed only a ghastly radiance through the dense fog, and grotesque shadows, dancing hither and thither to the vibratory motion of the lights, seemed trying to contest supremacy with the feeble rays.

The train had not come to a full stop when a man sprang lightly from one of the car platforms, and, passing swiftly through the waiting crowd, concealed himself in the friendly shelter of the shadows, where he remained oblivious to the rain falling in spiteful dashes, while he scanned the hurrying crowd surging in various directions. Not one of the crowd observed him; not one escaped his observation. Soon his attention was riveted upon a tall man, closely muffled in fur coat and cap, who descended from one of the rear coaches, and, after a quick, cautious glance about him, passed the silent, motionless figure in the shadow and hastily entered a carriage standing near. The other, listening intently for the instructions given the driver, caught the words, "545 Jefferson Street."

As the carriage rolled away, he emerged from the shadow and jotted down the address in a small note-book, soliloquizing as he did so,-

"I have tracked him to his lair at last, and now, unless that infernal hoodoo looms upon the scene, I can get in my work in good shape. I would have had my game weeks ago, but for his appearance, confound him!"

He looked at his watch. "Dinner first," he muttered, "the next thing in order is to find the alias under which my gentleman is at present travelling. No one seems to know much about him in these parts."

The dim light revealed a man below medium height, his form enveloped in a heavy English mackintosh thrown carelessly about his shoulders, which, as he made his notes, blew partially open, revealing an immaculate shirt front and a brilliant diamond which scintillated and sparkled in open defiance of the surrounding gloom. A soft felt hat well pulled down concealed his eyes and the upper part of his face, leaving visible only a slightly aquiline nose and heavy, black mustache, which gave his face something of a Jewish cast. Replacing his note-book in his pocket, he called a belated carriage, and hastily gave orders to be taken to the Clifton House.

Arriving at the hotel, the stranger registered as "A. Rosenbaum, Berlin," and, having secured one of the best rooms the house afforded, repaired to the dining-room. Dinner over, Mr. Rosenbaum betook himself to a quiet corner of the office, which served also as a reading-room, and soon was apparently absorbed in a number of Eastern papers, both English and German, though a keen observer would have noted that the papers were occasionally lowered sufficiently to give the eyes-again concealed beneath the hat-brim-an opportunity for reconnoitering the situation. He was attired in a black suit of faultless fit, and a superb ruby on his left hand gleamed and glowed like living fire, rivalling in beauty the flashing diamond. He speedily became the subject of considerable speculation among the various classes of men congregating in the hotel office, most of them for an evening of social enjoyment, though a few seemed to have gathered there for the purpose of conducting business negotiations. Among the latter, after a time, was the tall man in fur coat and cap, who appeared to be waiting for some one with whom he had an appointment, as he shunned the crowd, selecting a seat near Mr. Rosenbaum as the most quiet place available. Having removed his cap and thrown back the high collar of his fur coat, he appeared to be a man of about fifty years of age, with iron-gray hair and a full, heavy beard of the same shade. He wore dark glasses, and, having seated himself with his back towards the light, drew forth from his pocket a number of voluminous type-written documents, and became absorbed in a perusal of their contents.

Meanwhile, the proprietor of the Clifton House, feeling considerable curiosity regarding his new guest, sauntered over in his direction.

"Well, Mr. Rosenbaum," he remarked, genially, "you have hit on rather a stormy night for your introduction to our city, for I take it you are a stranger here, are you not?"

The soft hat was raised slightly, revealing a rather stolid, expressionless face, with dark eyes nearly concealed by long lashes.

"Not the most agreeable, certainly," he answered, with an expressive shrug and a marked German accent, at the same time ignoring the other's question.

"Your first impressions are not likely to be very pleasant, but if you stop over a few days you will see we have a fine city. Do you remain here long?"

"I cannot say at present; depends entirely upon business, you understand."

"I see. What's your line?"

For reply the stranger handed the other a small card, on which was engraved, "Rosenbaum Brothers, Diamond Brokers, Berlin," and bearing on one corner his own name, "A. Rosenbaum."

"Diamond brokers, eh? You don't say!" exclaimed the proprietor, regarding the bit of pasteboard with visible respect. "Must be quite a business. You represent this firm, I suppose; you are their salesman?"

The stranger shook his head with a smile. "We have no salesmen," he answered, quietly. "We have branch houses in Paris, London, and New York, but we employ no travelling salesmen. Any one can sell diamonds; my business is to buy them," with marked emphasis on the last words.

"Well," said his interlocutor, "you're not looking for 'em out here, are you?"

"Why not here as well as anywhere? So far as my experience goes, it is nothing uncommon in this part of the country to run across owners of fine stones who, for one reason or another, are very glad to exchange the same for cash."

"Yes, I suppose so. When a fellow gets down to bedrock, he'll put up most anything to make a raise."

"There are many besides those who are down to bedrock, as you call it, who are glad to make an exchange of that kind," said Mr. Rosenbaum, speaking with deliberation and keeping an eye upon his neighbor in the fur coat; "but their reasons, whatever they may be, do not concern us; our business is simply to buy the gems wherever we can find them and ask no questions."

By this time a fourth man was approaching in their direction, evidently the individual for whom the man in the fur coat was waiting, and Mr. Rosenbaum, thinking it time to put an end to the conversation, rose and began to don his mackintosh.

"Surely you are not going out to-night!" said the proprietor; "better stay indoors, and I'll make you acquainted with some of the boys."

"Much obliged, but an important engagement compels me to forego that pleasure," said Mr. Rosenbaum, and, bidding his host good-evening, he sallied forth, well aware that every word of their conversation had been overheard by their silent neighbor, notwithstanding the voluminous documents which seemed to engross his attention.

Passing out into the night, he found the storm fast abating. Stopping at a news-stand, he inquired for a directory, which he carefully studied for a few moments, then walked down the principal thoroughfare until, coming to a side street, he turned and for a number of blocks passed up one street and down another, plunging at last into a dark alley.

Upon emerging therefrom a block away, the soft felt hat had given place to a jaunty cap, while a pair of gold-rimmed eye-glasses perched upon the aquiline nose gave the wearer a decidedly youthful and debonnaire appearance. Approaching a secluded house in a dimly lighted location, he glanced sharply at the number, as though to reassure himself, then running swiftly up the front steps, he pulled the door-bell vigorously and awaited developments. After considerable delay the door was unlocked and partially opened by a hatchet-faced woman, who peered cautiously out, her features lighted by the uncertain rays of a candle which the draught momentarily threatened to extinguish.

"Good-evening, madam," said the stranger, airily. "Pardon such an unseasonable call, but I wish to see Mr. Lovering, who, I understand, has rooms here."

"There's no such person rooming here," she replied, sharply, her manner indicating that this bit of information ended the interview, but her interlocutor was not to be so easily dismissed.

"No such person!" he exclaimed, at the same time scrutinizing in apparent perplexity a small card which he had produced. "J. D. Lovering, 545 Jefferson Street; isn't this 545, madam?"

"Yes," she answered, testily, "this is 545; but there's nobody here by the name of Lovering."

The young man turned as if to go. "Have you any roomers at present?" he inquired, doubtfully.

"I have one, but his name is Mannering."

"Mannering," he repeated, thoughtfully, once more facing her; "I wonder if I am not mistaken in the name? Will you kindly describe Mr. Mannering?"

The woman hesitated, eying him suspiciously. "He ain't likely to be the man you want," she said, slowly, "for he don't have no callers, and he never goes anywhere, except out of the city once in a while on business. He's an oldish man, with dark hair and beard streaked with gray, and he wears dark glasses."

"Ah, no," the young man interrupted hastily, "that is not the man at all; the man I am looking for is rather young and a decided blond. I am sorry to have troubled you, madam; I beg a thousand pardons," and with profuse apologies he bowed himself down the steps, to the evident relief of the landlady.

As the door closed behind him, Mr. Rosenbaum paused a moment to reconnoitre. The house he had just left was the only habitable building visible in the immediate vicinity, but a few rods farther down the street was a small cabin, whose dilapidated appearance indicated that it was unoccupied. Approaching the cabin cautiously, Mr. Rosenbaum tried the door; it offered but slight resistance, and, entering, he found it, as he had surmised, empty and deserted. Stationing himself near a window which overlooked No. 545, he regarded the isolated dwelling with considerable interest. It was a two-story structure with a long extension in the rear, only one story in height. With the exception of a dim light in this rear portion, the house was entirely dark, which led Mr. Rosenbaum to the conclusion that the landlady's private apartments were in this part of the building and remote from the room occupied by her lodger, which he surmised to be the front room on the second floor, a side window of which faced the cabin.

For more than an hour Mr. Rosenbaum remained at his post, and at last had the satisfaction of seeing the tall figure in the fur coat approaching down the dimly lighted street. He ascended the steps of 545, let himself in with a night-key, and a moment later the gas in the upper front room was turned on, showing Mr. Rosenbaum's surmise to be correct. For an instant the flaring flame revealed a pale face without the dark glasses, and with a full, dark beard tinged with gray; then it was lowered and the window blinds were closely drawn, precluding the possibility of further observation. The face was like and yet unlike what Mr. Rosenbaum had expected to see; he determined upon a nearer and better view, without the dark glasses, before making any decisive move.

The following evening, as soon as it was dusk, found Mr. Rosenbaum again at the window of the deserted cabin, keenly observant of No. 545. A faint light burned in the rear of the lower floor, while in the front room upstairs a fire was evidently burning in an open grate, the rest of the house being in darkness. Presently a man's figure, tall and well formed, could be seen pacing up and down the room, appearing, vanishing, and reappearing in the wavering firelight. For nearly an hour he continued his perambulation, his hands clasped behind him as though absorbed in deep thought. At last, arousing himself from his revery, the man looked at his watch and vanished, reappearing ten minutes later at the front door, in the usual fur coat and cap, and, descending the steps, turned towards town and proceeded leisurely down the street, Mr. Rosenbaum following at some distance, but always keeping him in view and gradually diminishing the distance between them as the thoroughfare became more crowded, till they were nearly opposite each other.

Finally, the man paused before a restaurant and, turning, looked carefully up and down the street. For the first time he observed Mr. Rosenbaum and seemed to regard him with close attention, but the latter gentleman was absorbed in the contemplation of an assortment of diamonds and various gems displayed in a jeweller's window, directly opposite the restaurant. In the mirrored back of the show-case the restaurant was plainly visible, and Mr. Rosenbaum noted with satisfaction the other's evident interest in himself, and continued to study the contents of the show-case till the man had entered the restaurant, seating himself at one of the unoccupied tables. Having observed his man well started on the first course of dinner, Mr. Rosenbaum crossed the street slowly, entered the restaurant and with a pre-occupied air seated himself at the same table with Mr. Mannering. After giving his order, he proceeded to unfold the evening paper laid beside his plate, without even a glance at his vis-a-vis. His thoughts, however, were not on the printed page, but upon the man opposite, whom he had followed from city to city, hearing of him by various names and under various guises; hitherto unable to obtain more than a fleeting glimpse of him, but now brought face to face.

"Alias Henry J. Mannering at last!" he commented mentally, as he refolded his paper; "you have led me a long chase, my man, but you and I will now have our little game, and I will force you to show your hand before it is over!"

Glancing casually across at his neighbor, he found the dark glasses focused upon himself with such fixity that he responded with a friendly nod, and, making some trivial remark, found Mr. Mannering not at all averse to conversation. A few commonplaces were exchanged until the arrival of Mr. Rosenbaum's order, when the other remarked,-

"Evidently you do not find the cuisine of the Clifton House entirely satisfactory."

"It is very good," Mr. Rosenbaum answered, indifferently, "but an occasional change is agreeable. By the way, sir, have I met you at the Clifton? I do not remember to have had that pleasure."

"We have not met," replied the other. "I saw you there last evening, however, as I happened in soon after your arrival."

"Ah, so? I am very deficient in remembering faces."

Mr. Mannering hesitated a moment, then remarked with a smile, "I, on the contrary, am quite observant of faces, and yours seems somewhat familiar; have I not seen you elsewhere than here?"

Mr. Rosenbaum raised his eyebrows in amusement. "It is very possible you have, my dear sir; I travel constantly, and for aught that I know you may have seen me in nearly every city on the globe. May I inquire your business, sir? Do you also travel?"

"No," said Mr. Mannering, slowly, but apparently relieved by Mr. Rosenbaum's answer, "I am not engaged in any particular line of business at present. I am interested in mining to a considerable extent, and am out here just now looking after my properties. How do you find business in your line?"

Mr. Rosenbaum shook his head with a slight shrug.

"Nothing so far to make it worth my while to stay. You see, sir, for such a trade as ours we want only the finest gems that can be bought; we have no use for ordinary stones, and that is all I have seen here so far;" and, having thrown out his bait, he awaited results.

A long pause followed, while Mr. Mannering toyed with his fork, drawing numerous diagrams on the table-cloth.

"I think," he said at last, slowly, "that I could get you one or two fine diamonds if you cared to buy and would give anything like their true valuation."

"That would depend, of course, upon the quality of the diamonds; really fine gems we are always ready to buy and to pay a good price for."

"If I am any judge of diamonds, these are valuable stones," said Mr. Mannering, "and the owner of them, who is a friend of mine, being himself a connoisseur in that line, would not be likely to entertain any false ideas regarding their value."

"And your friend wishes to sell them?"

"I am inclined to think that he might dispose of one or two for a sufficient consideration, subject

, however, to one condition,-that no questions will be asked."

"That goes without saying, my dear sir; asking questions is not our business. We are simply looking for the finest stones that money can buy, without regard to anything else. Perhaps," added Mr. Rosenbaum, tentatively, "we might arrange with your friend for a meeting between the three of us."

"That would be impracticable," Mr. Mannering replied; "he is out of the city; and furthermore I know he would not care to appear in the transaction, but would prefer to have me conduct the negotiations. I was going to suggest that if you were to remain here a few days, I shall see my friend in a day or so, as I am going out to look over some mining properties in which we are both interested, and I could bring in some of the gems with me, and we might then see what terms we could make."

"I can remain over, sir, if you can make it an object for me, and if the stones prove satisfactory I have no doubt we can make terms. Why, sir," Mr. Rosenbaum leaned across the table and his voice assumed a confidential tone, "money would be no object with me if I could get one or two particular gems that I want. For instance, I have one diamond that I would go to the ends of the earth and pay a small fortune when I got there, if I could only find a perfect match for it!" and he launched forth upon an enthusiastic description of the stone, expatiating upon its enormous size, its wonderful brilliancy and perfection, adding in conclusion, "and its workmanship shows it to be at least two hundred years old! Think of that, sir! What would I not give to be able to match it!"

A peculiar expression flitted over his listener's face, not unobserved by Mr. Rosenbaum. He made no immediate response, however, but when at last the two men separated, it was with the agreement that they should dine together at the same café three days later, when Mr. Mannering would have returned from his conference with his friend, at which time, if the latter cared to dispose of his jewels, they would be submitted for inspection.

Upon retiring to his room that night, Mr. Rosenbaum sat for some time in deep abstraction, and when he finally turned off the gas, he murmured,-

"He will produce the jewels all right, and may heaven preserve us both from the hoodoo!"

For the two days next ensuing, Mr. Rosenbaum watched closely the arrivals in the city, but, notwithstanding his vigilance, there slipped in unaware, on the evening of the second day, a quiet, unassuming man, who went to the Windsor Hotel, registering there as "A. J. Johnson, Chicago." At a late hour, while Mr. Rosenbaum, in the solitude of his own room, was perfecting his plans for the following day, Mr. Johnson, who was making a tour of inspection among the leading hotels, sauntered carelessly into the office of the Clifton. He seemed rather socially inclined, and soon was engaged in conversation with the proprietor and a dozen of the "boys," all of whom were informed that he was travelling through the West on the lookout for "snaps" in the way of mining investments. This announcement produced general good feeling, and there were not wanting plenty who offered to take Mr. Johnson around the city on the following day and introduce him to the leading mining men and promoters.

"Much obliged, boys," said Mr. Johnson, "but there's no rush. I expect to meet some friends here in a few days, and till they come I shall simply look around on the q. t., you understand, and make some observations for myself. And that reminds me, gentlemen," he added, "do any of you happen to know a man by the name of Mannering, who is interested in mines out here?"

"Mannering?" answered one of the group; "there's a man by that name has been around here off and on for the last two or three months; but I didn't know he was interested in mines to any extent, though he seems to have plenty of money."

"I think that is the man I have in mind; will you describe him?"

"Well, he's tall, about middle age, rather gray, wears blue glasses, and never has anything to say to anybody; a queer sort of fellow."

Mr. Johnson nodded, but before he could reply, another in the group remarked, "Oh, that's the fellow you mean, is it? I've seen him at the Royal Café for the last six weeks, and in all that time he's never exchanged a dozen words with anybody, till here, the other night, that diamond Dutchman of yours," addressing the proprietor of the Clifton, "came waltzing in there, and I'll be hanged if the two didn't get as confidential over their dinner as two old women over a cup of tea."

Mr. Johnson turned towards the proprietor with a quiet smile. "The 'diamond Dutchman!' Is he a guest of your house?"

"Mr. Rosenbaum?"

"Yes; do you know him?"

"Not by name, but I think I have seen the gentleman on my travels; engaged in the jewelry business, isn't he, and carries his advertisements on his shirt-front and fingers?"

"That's the man," the proprietor replied, amid a general laugh. "Why? He's all right, isn't he?"

"All right for aught that I know, sir; I haven't the pleasure of the gentleman's acquaintance, though possibly I may have if we both remain here long enough," and he carelessly turned the subject of conversation.

A little later, as Mr. Johnson left the Clifton, he soliloquized, "Well, if I haven't exactly killed two birds with one stone, I think I've snared two birds in one trap. Since coming West I haven't located one without seeing or hearing of the other; it's my belief they're 'pals,' and if I can pull in the pair, so much the better."

The following evening found Mr. Johnson in the vicinity of the Royal Café; having discovered a small newsstand opposite, he strolled in thither, and, buying a couple of papers, seated himself in a quiet corner, prepared to take observations. He had not waited long when Mr. Mannering made his appearance, and, after pausing a moment to look up and down the street, entered the restaurant. He had been seated but a moment when Mr. Rosenbaum appeared, crossing the street, having evidently left the jeweller's store, and also entered the café. The two men shook hands and immediately withdrew to one of the private boxes. Mr. Johnson had visited the Royal Café earlier in the day and made himself familiar with its interior arrangement. Knowing the box just taken to be No. 3, and that No. 4 directly opposite was unoccupied, he at once proceeded across the street to the restaurant. Stopping at the cashier's desk, he said in a low tone, "I expect some friends later, and don't wish to be disturbed till they come; understand?"

The man nodded, and Mr. Johnson passed on noiselessly into No. 4. Meanwhile, the occupants of No. 3 having received their orders, dismissed the waiter, with the information that when they needed his services they would ring for him. Mr. Mannering was visibly excited, so much so that his dinner remained almost untasted, and the other, observing his evident agitation, pushed aside his own plate and, folding his arms upon the table, inquired indifferently,-

"Well, my dear sir, what was your friend's decision?"

For reply, the other drew from his pocket a small case, which he silently handed across the table. Mr. Rosenbaum opened it, disclosing, as he did so, a pair of diamonds of moderate size, but of unusual brilliancy and perfectly matched. He examined them silently, scrutinizing them closely, while his face indicated considerable dissatisfaction.

"What does your friend expect for these?" he asked at length.

"What will you give for them?" was the counter-question.

"I do not care to set a price on them, for I do not want them," he replied, rather shortly.

"I think," said Mr. Mannering, "that my friend would dispose of them at a reasonable figure, as he is at present in need of ready cash with which to consummate an important mining negotiation."

After considerable fencing and parrying, Mr. Rosenbaum made an offer for the gems, to which Mr. Mannering demurred.

"Show me a higher class of gems and I will offer you a better price," said Mr. Rosenbaum, finally seeming to grow impatient. "Show me one like this, for instance, and I will offer you a small fortune," and opening a case which he had quickly drawn from his pocket, he took from it an enormous diamond, beside whose dazzling brilliancy the pair of gems under consideration seemed suddenly to grow dim and lustreless. He held it up and a thousand rays of prismatic light flashed in as many different directions.

"What do you think of that, my dear sir? When I can find a match for that magnificent stone, we can fill an order which we have held for more than twelve months from the royal house in Germany. But where will I find it?"

Twirling the gem carelessly between his thumb and finger, he watched the face of his companion and saw it change to a deathly pallor.

"May I see that for one moment?" he asked, and his voice sounded unnatural and constrained, while the hand which he extended across the table trembled visibly.

"Most certainly, sir," Mr. Rosenbaum replied, and, in compliance with the request, handed to Mr. Mannering the gem which the latter had himself disposed of less than three months before in one of the large Western cities. Nothing could escape the piercing eyes now fastened upon that face with its strange pallor, its swiftly changing expression. Unconscious of this scrutiny, Mr. Mannering regarded the gem silently, then removed his glasses for a closer inspection. Having satisfied his curiosity, he returned the stone to Mr. Rosenbaum, and as he did so, found the eyes of the latter fixed not upon the gem, but upon his own face. Something in their glance seemed to disconcert him for an instant, but he quickly recovered himself, and, replacing the colored glasses, remarked with a forced composure,-

"That is a magnificent stone. May I ask when and where you found it?"

"I picked it up in one of your cities some three months ago, maybe, more or less."

"You bought it in this country, then? Why may you not expect to match it here?"

"Simply on the theory, my dear sir, that the lightning never strikes twice in the same place."

"Well, sir," said Mr. Mannering, calmly, "I will show you a stone so perfect a match for that, you yourself could not distinguish between the two."

"You have such a diamond!" Mr. Rosenbaum exclaimed; "why then are you wasting time with these?" and he pushed the smaller diamonds from him with a gesture of contempt. "Why did you not produce it in the first place?"

"Because," replied Mr. Mannering, his composure now fully restored, "I do not propose to produce it until I know somewhere near what you will give for it."

"My dear sir," Mr. Rosenbaum's tones became eager, "as I have already told you, if I can match this stone," placing it on the table between them, "I will pay you a small fortune; money would be no object; you could have your own price."

Without further words, Mr. Mannering drew forth a small package, which he carefully opened, and, taking therefrom an exact duplicate of the wonderful gem, placed it upon the table beside the latter.

With a smile which the other did not see, Mr. Rosenbaum bent his head to examine the stones; he had recognized his man in the brief instant that their eyes had met, and now, within his grasp, lay, as he well knew from the description which he carried, two of the finest diamonds in the famous Mainwaring collection of jewels, stolen less than six months before; his triumph was almost complete.

Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson, who had overheard much of their conversation, was congratulating himself upon the near success of his own schemes, when the officiousness of a waiter overthrew the plans of all parties and produced the greatest confusion. Catching sight of the gentleman waiting in No. 4, he ignored the cashier's instructions and entered the box to take his order. Mr. Johnson's reply, low and brief though it was, caught the quick ear of Mr. Rosenbaum, who muttered under his breath,-

"The hoodoo! confound him!"

At the same instant a draught lifted the curtain to NO. 3, revealing to the astonished Mannering a view of Mr. Johnson's profile in the opposite box. His own face grew white as the table-cloth before him; he reached wildly for the diamond, but both gems were gone, and Rosenbaum confronted him with a most sinister expression.

"My diamond!" he gasped.

"The diamonds are safe," replied the other in a low tone, "and you," addressing Mannering by his true name, "the more quiet you are just now the better."

The elder man's face grew livid with rage and fear, and, rising suddenly to his feet, his tall form towered far above Rosenbaum.

"Wretch!" he hissed, with an oath, "you have betrayed me, curse you!" and, dealing the smaller man a blow which floored him, he rushed from the box.

In an instant Rosenbaum staggered to his feet, and, pausing only long enough to make sure of the safety of the jewels, rushed from the café, reaching the street just in time to see his man jump into a cab, which whirled swiftly and started down the street at break-neck speed. Two cabmen, talking at a short distance, hurried to the scene, and, calling one of them, Mr. Rosenbaum hastily took a second cab and started in pursuit of the first, but not before he had caught a glimpse of Mr. Johnson making active preparations to follow them both.

"Hang that fellow!" he muttered, as he heard wheels behind him. "This is the third time he has spoiled the game; but I've got the winning hand, and he'll not beat me out of it!"

By this time the first cab, having turned a corner a short distance ahead, was out of sight, but Rosenbaum, convinced from the direction taken of its destination, and knowing a more direct route, shouted to the driver what streets to follow, and to come out upon the alley near No. 545 Jefferson Street.

"The old fellow will think I've lost the trail when he finds he's not followed," he soliloquized, amid the joltings of the vehicle, "and maybe it will throw the hoodoo off the track."

But Mr. Johnson had no intention of being thrown off. He had seen cab No. 2 a take a different course, and, having lost sight of No. 1, decided that a bird in the hand would be worth two in the bush, and that he would follow up the "pal."

As cab No. 2 approached Jefferson Street, Rosenbaum called to the driver to slacken and drive on the dark side of the alley. He jumped out to reconnoitre; a cab was just stopping at No. 545, a tall figure got out and hastily disappeared up the steps, while the cab whirled rapidly away.

"Turn about, drive back quietly, and answer no questions," Rosenbaum said, slipping a bill into the driver's hand, and then glided swiftly through the shadow to No. 545. His maneuvers were seen, however, by Mr. Johnson, who immediately proceeded to follow his example.

Running quickly up the steps to No. 545, Rosenbaum produced a bunch of skeleton keys, which he proceeded to try. The first was useless, the second ditto; he heard steps approaching; the third fitted the lock, but, as it turned, a hand was laid upon his shoulder, a dark lantern flashed in his face, and a voice said,-

"Your game is up, my man; you had better come with me as peaceably as possible!"

For answer, the other turned quickly, and, without a word, lifted the lapel of his coat, where a star gleamed brightly in the rays of the lantern.

The band holding the lantern dropped suddenly, and its owner ejaculated, "Heavens and earth! what does this mean? Who are you?"

"I am Dan McCabe, at your service," was the cool reply; then, as the other remained speechless with astonishment, McCabe continued: "I've no time to waste with you, Mr. Merrick; we may have a desperate piece of work on hand; but if you'll come with me, I give you my word for it that before this job is over you'll meet the biggest surprise of your life."

Pushing open the door, McCabe noiselessly climbed the stairs, beckoning Merrick to follow. By the light of the dark lantern he selected the door leading to the room occupied by Mannering, and, after listening a moment, nodded significantly to Merrick.

"Is he there?" the latter whispered.

"He is there," said McCabe, grimly, "but not the man you are looking for. I'll tell you who is there," and he whispered in his ear.

Merrick staggered as if from a blow. "Great God!" he exclaimed aloud.

There was a sudden sound within as of some one frightened and moving hastily. McCabe again called the man by name, and demanded admittance. There was a moment's silence, and then McCabe, with Merrick's aid, forced in the door, and as it yielded there came from within the sharp report of a revolver, followed by a heavy groan.

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