The Twin Ventriloquists: or, Nimble Ike and Jack the Juggler
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"Well, we'll make his life miserable – make him feel that it is better to be in Germany without a dollar than in New York with a million. We must protect this American woman, that is dead sure."
"Will we? We will, you bet; but now we have those thieves to look after and I have a plan," said Ike.
"What is your plan?"
Ike related his plan. The detective preferred to adopt another course for the capture of the rascals, but he was well aware of Ike's wonderful ability, and for reasons thought it best to let the remarkable youth have his own way.
Later Ike took Du Flore around to show him where the thieves were staying, and as good luck would have it he had a chance to point out one of the rascals.
Later Du Flore called upon the countess, and acting under Ike's orders he let her indulge the idea that her house was to be visited by emissaries of her husband, and she said:
"Then I will flee away."
"Only to be pursued and shadowed again."
"I have managed to keep out of his way for nearly two years."
"That is all right, but we want to put these men out of the way. They are walking right into your power."
"We can claim that they are burglars and scare the life out of them almost, and we may scare the whole party – count and all – back to Germany."
"I don't think they mean to do me any harm. The count is not a bad man. He believes, however, that he has a right to the child. He has a legal right, I believe, and I propose to keep the child away from him, at least for the present."
"Then the best plan is to let him go back to Germany."
"I do not understand why these men seek to enter my house."
"They may think you have the child here, or it may be that they are thieves who have learned some facts from the count, and they may intend to rob you. At any rate, I have positive evidence that your house is to be invaded and I wish to place a guard here, and I will be at hand at the proper time. In these days, when so many strange crimes are occurring, it is always better to be on the right side every time."
"I believe you exaggerate the danger, but as I am in your hands for my own protection I will agree to any plan that you may propose."
"I will introduce two remarkable youths into your house. They will be accompanied by an immense hound. I ask you to permit them to do just as they think proper in adopting measures for the capture of two men who I am sure will make an attempt to enter your house. Afterward I will have much to reveal to you, but at present I know I am acting in your best interests and in the interests of your son."
Du Flore explained to the countess how the two youths would enter her house, and then departed.
Along about six o'clock in the evening, a poor-looking old man applied at the door of the house of the countess. He was admitted, and a little later quite a stylish young man also sought an entrance, and a little later still the poor-looking old man and the stylish youth were alone with the countess, who was disposed to ask them a great many questions.The lads were sorely tempted to give the countess a little initiation, but concluded to reserve their didos for the two thieves.
At about eleven o'clock the countess retired to a room on the top floor. She proved very complaisant, doing in all things just as requested, although it was evident that she was a very spirited woman and wondrously handsome, as she was still under thirty.
The two ventriloquists lay around until twelve o'clock, when they entered the bedroom proper of the countess, her vacated room for the occasion, and they went through a very amusing rehearsal with the hound. The lads were both very jubilant, for they were in their element – about to carry out a scheme which was a delight to them.
"The robbers believe they are to have a walk-over," said Jack.
"They will," responded Ike, a twinkle in his eyes; "a walk over to the station house, and then a smooth ride up to Sing Sing Prison."
"Will your man be on hand?"
"If he fails I'll act as his substitute. We are going to capture those robbers, and don't you forget it."
Thus the boys continued to talk until about two o'clock. Both were on the alert, and Ike said:
"We are not to be disappointed, our game is here."
Sure enough, they could see the narrow gleam from a mask lantern. The burglars were at the open door of the room. A moment passed and an arm was thrust forward. The light from the mask lantern shot over the room. Apparently, in the bed lay a sleeper. On the dressing bureau was a box, evidently a jewel case. A mirror permitted the two lads to see the movements and faces of the two rogues, and there came an expression of triumph and gratification to the face of both as their glance rested on the jewel case, and indeed the surroundings all appeared to indicate an "easy thing," as one of the fellows had put it the previous evening.
They were very deliberate in their movements, and when satisfied that the road was clear they stepped into the room, their eyes fixed on the bed where the sleeper was supposed to be lying. They had arrived half-way across the floor toward the jewel case on the dressing bureau when suddenly an immense hound confronted them – arose before them as though he had suddenly come up through the floor. The men were both armed and carried their weapons ready for instant use, but they stood and glared. They were paralyzed, as it were, with astonishment. The thing was not quite so easy at that moment, but one can imagine their bewilderment when, as they stood and gazed, the dog appeared to say in a singularly doglike fashion, after a regular dog yawn:
"I've got my eye on you fellows. Don't attempt to use those revolvers or I'll chew you to mince-meat."
One of the men managed to ejaculate:
"Great Scott! the dog spoke!"
The men were struck nerveless, and their terror and bewilderment increased when the dog appeared to say, with a strange, doglike laugh:
"It's dead easy, old man; it's dead easy."
The men's faces became ghastly and one of them in gasps managed to say:
"It's the devil!"
"No, you are the devils, and I am after you; yes, I am, dead sure. You miserable skunks, to steal into a house to rob!"
The men were struck speechless and they lost all power to move voluntarily. They stood and trembled involuntarily, and the dog continued:
"Oh, isn't it dead easy? What a bully old swag you will carry to Boston! The New York detectives will bark up the wrong tree, but I won't. No, no, you rascals, I'll bark you, and I am a New York detective lying around here for Boston thieves. I reckon Boston became too hot for you, and you thought you'd try your hands here; but, my dearies, when you get out of a New York jail I'd advise you to go to Alaska. There it's dead easy for a good slide, but you can't slide back to Boston from here with your swaggy – no, no. Just watch my tail waggy, you villains."
The men were just dead gone, and then the hound appeared to say:
"I told you that you had barked up the wrong tree this time. I'll bark now."
The dog did bark, and the latter was genuine. He had secured his signal and his bark was followed by the entrance of Du Flore, accompanied by a second officer, and the two detectives did not stand on any ceremony. They just clapped their irons on the two nerveless men, and then Du Flore said:
"Well, gentlemen, this was not so dead easy after all."
With men to talk to the thieves to a certain extent recovered their nerve. It was too late to avoid them, but they did ask:
"What is that?"
They pointed toward the hound.
"That is our chief of police," came the answer.
The two burglars were carted off, and we will here state that their "dead easy" thing did land them in Sing Sing Prison, for the proofs were dead against them.
When the lady was informed of all the particulars she was greatly surprised and exceedingly grateful.
A week passed. The two ventriloquists, having no serious business on hand, determined to have a little sport, and one day they visited the Stock Exchange, determined to throw a little confusion in among the brokers. They secured a good position at different points, and having arranged their programme prepared for active work. They saw one man who was conspicuous as a shouter, and as it appeared both formed a dislike for the fellow on appearances. He yelled a hundred of a fluctuating stock for sale. A man close at his arm appeared to make a bid. The fellow turned round sharply to accept. The man who had appeared to make the bid repudiated having done so, and the stock was again offered, seemingly bid in also by the same man, and when the seller again offered delivery the bid was repudiated. The seller had become enraged. He suspected he was being fooled. He became angry, words followed, and a crowd gathered around. The excitement ran high, when suddenly, right in the midst of the crowd, there occurred the loud barking of a dog and there was a general scatter, but no dog was seen. Then there came the grunt of a pig and a dog appeared to attack the pig. The latter squealed and seemed to be running all around the room, and immediately there followed a regular barn-yard chorus. Confusion reigned. All business came to a standstill and the question arose, who was doing the barking, the squealing, the cackling and the quacking? One accused another, rows followed, pandemonium reigned and amid the confusion the two authors of the whole trouble stole forth to the street. They had a heap of fun. An investigation would have followed, for the men believed the trick had been played by some of their members, but so general had been the confusion no proof could be obtained, and later the business of the exchange proceeded.
"Well, Ike, that was high," said Jack.
The boys started to walk up the street, when they met a veiled lady who was walking rapidly along. Ike stopped short and said:
"Jack, that means something."
"The veiled lady?"
"What makes you think so? There are plenty of veiled ladies knocking around every day."
"That's so; but do you see that lady's excitement?"
"How can I when she is veiled?"
"But you can see it in her movements. Let's follow her and learn what is up. I tell you we will be on to something before we know it and I'd like to do some one a good turn."
"I'll let you investigate and I will go and do a little business I have on hand."
The youths agreed to meet later. Jack went his way, and Ike, who was a persistent fellow, followed the lady. She turned into one of the large office buildings. The ventriloquist followed and saw her enter a lawyer's office. He remained in the hall, and it was fully an hour before the lady came forth. When she did her veil was raised. Ike recognized that she was very beautiful and refined looking, and he saw also that she had been weeping. As she dropped her veil he fell to her trail. She descended to the street and with slower steps proceeded on her way. Our hero was a good-looking chap. He had increased in strength and stature since first introduced to our readers in a former story, Number 6 of "Old Sleuth's Own." He determined to follow and seize the first opportunity to speak to the pretty maid, who evidently was in some sort of trouble. While following her he was joined by Jack, and a little later Ike, who, as has been intimated, was observant, saw a man turn to follow the veiled lady.
"Hello!" he muttered, "the game is opening up. I wonder if that fellow is acquainted with the girl, or is merely following her on speculation?"
The girl walked through Nassau Street as far as the City Hall and boarded a Fourth Avenue car. Jack and Ike boarded the same car, and as the latter glanced in at the lady he saw that she was giving way to considerable emotion under her veil, and he also observed that the man who had started in to follow her had secured a seat directly opposite to her and had his evil eyes fixed upon her; for the lad discerned that the man did possess evil eyes.
"Jack," he said, "we are on to something, sure."
"It looks so."
The lady left the car at the park and started to walk through that great pleasure ground. The man left the car also and followed the girl, and it is needless to say that the two ventriloquists also followed on a double trail.
"The lady acts very strangely," remarked Jack.
"And I've a suspicion."
Ike's eyes brightened up as he asked:
"And what is your suspicion?"
"She is going to throw herself into the lake. She is in trouble."
"But why does the man follow her?"
"I believe he is a rascal who means her no good."
"And I mean to see that he does her no harm."
"Suppose she does plunge into the lake?"
"We will fish her out."
From the course that the lady took it did appear as though she really intended to drown herself, as Jack had intimated. She finally, however, sat down on a bench near the water of the lake. The man stood off at a little distance watching her. The ventriloquists also lay off, ready to be at hand in case of emergency.
The girl removed her veil a moment and gazed into the waters of the lake and her beautiful face was revealed. The man who had been shadowing her had a chance to observe her beauty. Ike had his eye upon the man and arrived at a conclusion. He concluded from the expression on the fellow's face that he was a villain and meant the beautiful girl no good. He was very handsomely dressed, wore diamonds of the biggest sort and altogether appeared like an individual whom a young girl would have good reason to fear.
"Jack," said our hero, "that fellow is a bad one. He means the girl no good."
We write girl, for the veiled lady was but a mere girl, as revealed when her veil was removed. She had only removed her face covering for a moment. The man advanced toward her and the lads stepped closer, hiding in the shrubbery to the rear of the rustic seat where the girl had placed herself. As the man approached he said:
"Why, Miss Galt, good-morning."
"I beg your pardon, sir," said the lady; "you have made a mistake."
It was the old trick – merely a pretense to speak to the girl.
"Is it possible I have made a mistake?" said the man.
"You have certainly made a mistake."
If the man had been a gentleman he would have apologized and have moved on, but he said:
"It's so strange. You are a perfect picture of the lady I know as Miss Galt."
"I am not Miss Galt, sir, and you will please not address me further."
"It's a beautiful day," said the man.
The girl betrayed her surprise from under her veil, but made no reply, evidently believing the man would move on; but instead he approached nearer to her. The girl rose as though to walk away, when the man said:
"Excuse me, but are you sure you are not playing me a little trick? Are you really not Miss Galt?"
The girl started to move away, when the man looked around furtively and then boldly approached. The girl was terrified. She attempted to scream, when the man actually grasped her arm. She was paralyzed with fear; she could not scream. Her eyes expressed her terror, her face became deathly pale, and no one can tell what might have occurred if at that critical moment Ike and Jack had not darted forth, and Ike exclaimed:
"Hold on there! you scoundrel, what are you doing?"
The man was large and apparently powerful. He glared at the two slender youths, and evidently concluded that with but little effort he could toss them both into the lake if so inclined. He said:
"You two young rascals, how dare you address me?"
He had released his hold upon the arm of the lady and the latter, woman-like, remained, hoping even in her weakness to be of some service to the two handsome youths who had interfered in her behalf. In a few moments, however, she learned that they did not need any assistance. These two young wonders were perfectly capable of taking care of the big insulter of womanhood.
In reply to his words to them, the two ventriloquists gave him a laugh. He became enraged. He felt mean anyhow, as he had been caught in a contemptible act. He was prepared to become enraged very readily.
"You laugh at me, you young rascals?"
"Certainly we do, you mean scoundrel."
"You call me a scoundrel?"
"That's what we call you."
"You two rascals, get away from here or I'll hurt you."
"You can't hurt any one. You're a big fraud."
The man moved toward the speaker, when a dog barked savagely at his heels. He leaped in the air and turned quickly, but there was no dog there. He supposed the fierce animal had skipped away, and with an oath he advanced another step toward the laughing and jeering lads, when again the dog barked savagely at his heels, and again he leaped in the air, but there was no dog visible.
The man was confused, and Ike said:
"You are a villain. You should be lynched or ducked."
"Let's duck him," said Jack.
"It's a go," answered Ike.
The man gazed in amazement at their audacity, and he was about to make a rush, when seemingly there came a gruff voice behind him, preceded by a shrill whistle.
"Hold on there! what are you about?"
The man thought that indeed a park policeman was at hand. He turned. He was standing near the edge of the water, for the ventriloquists had purposely changed their own position so as to draw him down in that direction. As he turned Ike ran forward head first and made a clear dive straight at the small of the man's back. Over he went, face forward, paralyzed by the blow, and then the two lads jumped on him. Over and over they rolled him toward the water. At this instant the lady interfered, but her protest came too late. The man was rolled into the water about waist deep, and the water restored his strength, and there followed a mighty floundering as he struggled toward the shore. The boys roared with laughter. The man crawled out and made a rush for them, when again the dog barked at his heels, and he made a leap in the air; and as he turned and saw no dog, terror seized him, and a sudden impulse, for away he ran like a deer, all wet and dripping as he was. Then Ike advanced toward the veiled girl and said:
"Excuse us, miss, but he got just what he deserved. We saw him seize you and we made up our minds to scare him out. We will bid you good-morning. He will not molest you again."
The girl stood and gazed in silence a moment and then said:
"I thank you," and involuntarily she added: "Oh, what shall I do?"
"Are you in trouble, miss?" asked Ike.
The girl had betrayed herself to a certain extent, and she answered:
"Yes, I am in great trouble."
"Possibly we can aid you."
"No, no, you cannot aid me as readily and manfully as you did just now."
"But possibly we can."
The girl looked the two handsome lads over, and again she murmured, as though unable to control her emotions:
"Oh, what shall I do?"
"We can help you."
"No, you cannot help me."
"Yes, we can."
"No, no; I wish you could. No one can help me; I am ruined."
"Come, we will walk away from here and you shall tell us your trouble. We can aid you. You will find out that we can."
They were both bright-faced youths. They had just given an exhibition of their nerve and courage.
"Come, do not be afraid. We can aid you, no matter what your trouble."
"It's so strange," murmured the girl.
"What is so strange?"
"That you should offer to aid me."
"Well, we can aid you. That's our mission in life."
The girl did not understand the remark, but she was charmed with the two bright-faced, honest-looking lads. She said:
"I am half inclined to tell you my trouble. I am a stranger in New York; I have no one to confide in. Yes, I will tell you my trouble, but you cannot aid me."
"I reckon we can aid you, no matter what the trouble may be."
The girl walked away with the two ventriloquists, but occasionally she glanced back at the lake and both the youths were convinced that she had really intended suicide.
When some distance away from the lake and in a retired part of the park, the girl said:
"Mine is a very strange story. I do not know as you will believe it."
"We will believe anything you tell us," said Ike gallantly.
"A week ago I came on from San Francisco. My father died a year ago; my mother has been dead for a long time. My father knew he was to die, as he had an incurable disease, and he gave me all his savings, converted everything he had into cash and placed it in my hands, and when it came near the last he told me after his death to come on here to New York. He said he once had a brother whom he had not seen or heard from for thirty years. 'My brother may still be living; if so he will be your friend and protector, and you will not be dependent upon him, as you will have five thousand dollars.'
"After my father's death I remained in San Francisco a year to complete my education, and then I started for New York. The money I had changed into non-registered bonds, and I put them in my trunk. I arrived in New York a week ago and went to a place to board that had been recommended to me by a friend in San Francisco. Last night I opened my trunk to look at the bonds and discovered to my horror that they were gone. I at once informed the landlady, who told me she could do nothing, that she knew nothing about my bonds. She evidently did not believe my story. She looks upon me as a swindler. I saw in this morning's paper the name of a lawyer. I called upon him to consult him, but first I went to the captain of police in my district. He evidently did not believe my story, and then, as I said, I went to the lawyer. I told my tale to him. He said he could do nothing for me – I must depend upon the police. He also, I think, did not believe my story. They look upon me as an adventuress. I have no proofs. I have no way to prove that I ever had the bonds. They have been stolen, and in claiming them I am losing my reputation. I am looked upon as a swindler myself. I tell you the truth. I did have the bonds and they have been stolen from me. I am ruined. No one will believe me. You do not believe my story."
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