The Twin Ventriloquists: or, Nimble Ike and Jack the Juggler
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"Yes, I do believe your story," said Ike, "and we will recover your bonds."
"You will recover them?" exclaimed the girl.
"Yes, we will recover them."
"No, no; never," she said in a despairing tone.
"We will see about that. When did you last see your bonds?"
"The night after my arrival in New York."
"In my trunk."
"After you had arrived at your present boarding-house?"
"Is there any one in the house whom you suspect?"
"I know not whom to suspect, but they were stolen after my arrival in that house. The landlady refuses to believe my story; the captain of police refuses to believe my story, and the lawyer to whom I went and offered one thousand dollars as a fee refuses to believe my story."
"And my friend and I do believe your story, and we are the only ones who can aid you in recovering them. One would have to know you to believe your tale. It is indeed a strange one."
"And you do not know me."
"Well, we have other reasons for believing your story. I tell you we will recover your bonds. You can rely upon my word."
"How can you do it?"
"We have our own method for going about it."
"The landlady has hinted that she would like to have me leave the house. I have no money to go anywhere else, for all my money I had placed in my trunk and that is gone also."
"How much money did you have?"
"I had over two hundred dollars."
"And it has been stolen?"
"Yes; whoever took the bonds took my money also, and my jewelry – for all my valuables were in my trunk."
Jack looked at Ike in a dubious sort of way, for the story was becoming quite odd. Ike, however, believed the tale. He said:
"It's hard luck to lose all that way, but you shall have it returned to you."
"I don't know what I shall do."
"Did you tell any one else in the house about your loss save the landlady?"
"No, I have not said one word to any one else, and the landlady told me not to do so."
Ike was thoughtful a moment and then said:
"I will find your bonds. In the meantime I believe it well for you temporarily to find another boarding-place."
"I do not know where to go."
"I can recommend you to a very nice, motherly lady who will see to your comfort."
There came a look of sudden suspicion to the girl's eyes and she said:
"I have no money. I do not know what to do."
Ike, as our readers know, possessed wonderfully quick and observant eyes, and he could discern in a most remarkable manner.
"You need not bother about the money part of it. I know this lady well; she is a very reputable person, the widow of a man who was a great detective. She will be willing to wait for her pay until you recover your money and bonds."
"But I may never recover them."
"Yes, you will recover them; on that point you can make your mind easy. When I and my friend here set out to accomplish a thing we never fail, and you shall satisfy yourself that the lady will really become your friend before you take up your home with her."
Ike had organized a great scheme.He was satisfied in his own mind that the money had been stolen either by the landlady or one of her boarders. He had a way of bringing people to a betrayal that was all his own. He held some further talk with the girl, and then asked:
"What is your name?"
The girl hesitated.
"You need not fear to tell me your name. I will go with you if you choose to the captain of police and he shall vouch for my honor and loyalty."
"It is not necessary," said the girl, who was really bright and self-reliant. "My name is Sara Sidney."
"Miss Sidney," said our hero, "we will go to the home of the lady where I propose that you shall board while I am conducting the hunt for your missing bonds. You can satisfy yourself of her respectability before you remove to her home."
The girl hesitated.
"You need not hesitate. I will not only find your bonds, but I will find your uncle for you if he still be living, or his sons or daughters in case any of your cousins may be living."
"Why should you take all this trouble on my behalf?"
"I will confide to you a secret: I am a sort of detective. It is my duty to look out for you."
"I will go with you," said the girl.
Ike arranged to meet Jack later on and proceeded with Sara to the house of the lady where he proposed she should remain. The moment Sara was introduced to the lady the latter won the girl's confidence, and our hero left his charge with his friend, and the latter arranged to go with Sara and have her trunk removed. Meantime Ike met his comrade Jack, and the latter said:
"Well, Ike, I yield the palm to you. Yes, sir, you are the most observant and quickest person I ever met. I thought I was great, but you are the greatest fellow on earth, in my opinion."
"Well, it is strange how we chanced to fall to this girl, so beautiful and so helpless."
"Yes, she is beautiful, and I will say that there are thousands of undeveloped romances in New York at this very moment."
"Yes, that is true; if a man desires to get into an adventure of a strange character he can easily do it here in this great metropolis."
"Say, Ike, she is a beautiful girl."
"She is indeed. Have you fallen in love with her?"
"I don't know."
"I wish you'd find out," said Ike, with a very meaning smile on his face.
"Hello! is that the case, Ike?"
"Is what the case?"
"Are you dead gone so soon?"
"I don't know how I am, but she is a lovely girl and her case is a peculiar one."
"And you have promised to recover her bonds?"
"You have undertaken a big job."
"You think so?"
"I'll get them."
"Have you a plan?"
"Will you tell me your plan?"
Ike revealed his plan to Jack, and the latter said:
"Well, I'll be shot if you haven't a head for a detective, and it's right here where our gifts come in."
"And you want me to aid you?"
"When will you start in?"
The same afternoon that the incidents occurred which we have related, Ike, gotten up in good shape and furnished with a letter of introduction, called at the house where Sara Sidney had been robbed, and he succeeded in engaging board. He pretended to be an art student, and the first night he appeared at the dinner table he glanced around to take in the general appearance of his fellow boarders. He was just the lad to measure human faces. He had questioned Sara very particularly about her fellow boarders in the house, and he was well posted when he sat down to the table, after the usual introduction in a general way. The people he found to be the usual representative class that one finds in a city boarding-house. There was the doctor who occupied the rear parlor, a lawyer, two lady typewriters, one a creature who knew it all from A to Z. There were in all about twenty people in the house. Ike went over them all. He studied in his quiet, cute way every face, and did not see one person whom he was led to suspect, and the sequel will prove how unerring was his facial study of those people. When the meal was about half through there came bouncing into the room a young man. He was a bold-faced, bumptious sort of a chap, and as he took his seat he ran his eyes over the people assembled and then asked:
"Where is Miss Sidney?"
The landlady said:
"She has left us."
The young man was thoughtful a moment, and then asked:
"When did she go?"
"What reason did she give for going?"
There was an interested look in the young fellow's eyes as he asked the question.
"She gave no reason."
"Where has she gone?"
"I do not know."
"I must find out," said the youth. "I was greatly taken with Miss Sidney; she was a very charming young lady. We shall miss her."
At that instant there came the announcement:
"Miss Sidney left the house because she was robbed."
Every one started. No one appeared to know who had spoken, but the young man gave a start, turned pale and asked in a voice that trembled perceptibly:
"Who says she was robbed?"
At that moment the landlady returned to the room. She saw that something had gone wrong.
"What is the matter?" she asked.
No one answered, and there followed a moment's awkward silence, broken at length by the bumptious young man, who said:
"Some one stated that Miss Sidney left here because she had been robbed."
The landlady's face flushed scarlet as she said:
"Who made the statement?"
No one answered.
"It's false," said the landlady, "and I should like to know who said she had been robbed."
"I said so."
The voice appeared to come from the old maid typewriter, and the landlady at once exclaimed:
"Miss Gaynor, did you state that Miss Sidney left here because she was robbed?"
"I did not," declared Miss Gaynor, indignantly.
"I said so," came a voice from the far end of the table.
The landlady looked in the direction indicated. An old man sat there and the voice was that of an old man.
"Did you say so, Mr. Smith?"
"I did not, madam," declared the elderly gentleman in an angry tone.
Again there followed a silence, when the landlady remarked:
"It's very strange; if any one makes such a charge, I wish they would come out and do so openly."
"Mr. Goodlove made the statement," came a voice.
Mr. Goodlove was the bumptious young man. He at once rose to his feet and in an indignant tone declared:
"It's a lie, I did not make the statement. Who says I did?"
"I do," came the answer, and it appeared to come from the young lady typewriter number two, who was a pretty, delicate-looking young girl, quiet, modest, and least likely to speak out boldly.
The man Goodlove looked at her and demanded:
"Do you dare say I made the statement?"
"I said nothing," she answered timidly, adding, "I did not speak at all."
"What is all this ado about, anyhow?" came a voice. "Mr. Goodlove knows better than any one else that Miss Sidney was robbed; why does he pretend ignorance as to the cause of her leaving?"
The young man turned ghastly.
"Who spoke then?" he asked.
"Oh, it's no use asking who spoke; you know all about the robbery."
"Whoever says that is a liar."
The landlady was becoming greatly excited. She said:
"Miss Sidney did claim that she was robbed, but I have proof that she is an adventuress and a blackmailer. She told me she had been robbed and she really wanted to work upon my sympathies. She did not possess anything to be robbed of, and I told her she had better go away."
"You did right," said Mr. Goodlove. "I did not wish to tell you, madam, but I suspected all along that the minx was an adventuress."
A voice came, saying: "You've changed your mind; you said she was a lovely girl and that you were very much taken with her. Well, I reckon you did take."
"Who spoke?" demanded Goodlove.
"Oh, you know who spoke, and you know more about this whole affair than any one else. The police are after you."
The man wilted as he asked:
"Did Miss Sidney hint that I was the robber?"
As Goodlove spoke his eyes wandered around to learn who it was who had addressed him.
"No, she didn't accuse any one; you have accused yourself. You were seen, however, to deposit a whole lot of gold."
"She didn't have any gold," came the excited declaration.
Ike had struck his man at last.
It was a strange scene in that room at that moment, and the great mystery was who did the talking. No one appeared to know and there was great confusion, and it was because of the confusion that no one appeared to recognize, as stated, who was doing the talking.
There came a voice demanding, when Goodlove said she had no gold:
"How do you know? Were you rummaging in her trunk?"
The man became confused; indeed, he looked as though about going into collapse.
The most mysterious part of it all was the fact that no one knew who was doing the talking. The people looked into each other's faces and could not discern, and yet the voice sounded distinct and clear. Some one was talking. Who was it?
During all this time Ike was as mute as an owl after dawn. He looked around with an inquiring and surprised look upon his face, seemingly as greatly mystified as any one, and the voice pitilessly continued:
"Better be careful, Mister Man. The detectives have their eyes on you."
Goodlove turned to the landlady and almost yelled:
"Madam, send for an officer. This is going too far."
"I will not have an officer in my house; no need."
"But, madam, who is it insulting me?"
"I do not know."
The landlady was as much dazed and mystified as any one.
The voice, however, ceased – became hushed; but a strange feeling pervaded those who had been witnesses and listeners during the strange scene. One after the other they rose and left the table and the room. Goodlove and Ike remained. The fellow looked over at Ike sharply and said:
"Say, my friend, did you notice who used the insulting language?"
The voice was again heard. It appeared to come from the hall and the words were:
"That young man does not know anything about it. Don't question him, you thief."
Goodlove rushed out to the hall. There was not a soul there. He ran up the stairs, but saw no one. Each one of the boarders had either retired to his room or had gone out. Ike left the table and passed Goodlove in the hall. He did not speak to the man, but went to the hatrack, secured his hat and stepped out to the street. Goodlove meantime entered the parlor and commenced pacing the floor. The landlady joined him.
"Madam," he said, "this is a most extraordinary occurrence."
"It is, sir."
"You were present. You know who made those insulting remarks."
"I do not."
"I will know, madam."
"I hope you will be able to learn, for the occurrence will do me great injury unless the mystery is explained."
"There is no mystery about it. You have an impudent rascal in your house. Who is your new boarder?"
"He came to me highly recommended."
"It's all very strange, madam."
"Can it be possible," asked the landlady, "that the new boarder is a detective?"
Goodlove's face became ghastly. He walked more rapidly, and finally, seizing his hat from the hatrack, stepped out to the street. He had gone but a few steps, however, when a hand was laid on his shoulder – a heavy hand. The man would have shrieked if he had not been actually paralyzed with terror.
"Hello, Goodlove," said the man who had seized him. "Where are you going?"
The man trembled, but could not answer.
"Well, we've got you, mister. But let me ask you, is this your first offense? If it is it's all the better for you, that's all. We may let up on you, but we've got you dead to rights."
The man managed to gasp:
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, come off! We've got you all right. We didn't close in on you until we had all the proof. Where are the bonds you stole from Miss Sidney's trunk, and the money?"
The detective talked in such a matter-of-fact tone, with such absolute assurance, that the culprit was all "broke up." He just wilted.
"Who says I stole the bonds?"
"Oh, come off! don't attempt that. Old man, see here; do you want to be locked up? Turn over the stolen property, and if this is your first offense I'll let you go; but if you attempt to deny or play 'possum I'll lock you up and you will go to Sing Sing Prison; that's all."
"How strange!" muttered the prisoner.
"Strange that you were found out?"
"Why, you fool, we knew all the time that you stole the bonds. Thieves always get found out, but it depends upon how smart they are in getting away. Crime never pays; criminals always come to a bad end. This is your first offense. You have learned a lesson that will last you all your life. It always pays to be honest; it's always a losing game to be dishonest. Now what is your decision? Will you go to jail or surrender the stolen property?"
"If I surrender it will you let me off?"
"As this is your first offense I will let you off, and as I do not wish to spoil your future chances I will say nothing about your guilt. But let me tell you, if you ever steal again you will surely be caught and will pay the full penalty."
"I will surrender the property."
The property was surrendered – the bonds, all the jewelry and all the money to a cent – and placed in the hands of Ike, who, when he met his "side partner" at their home, said:
"Well, Jack, I didn't need you. I caught my fish easy."
"Yes, 'dead easy,' as the two robbers said."
"They missed, I won."
"So much for this adventure. To-morrow I will return the stolen property to the owner, and then – "
"We will lie around for a new adventure. We're having a heap of fun."
"We are, and doing a heap of good even if I say it myself."
On the day following the incidents we have related Ike and Jack in company called upon the young lady for whom they had done so great a service. She received them in the little parlor, but she appeared very anxious and careworn, and she said after the usual greetings:
"I am very unhappy."
"I cannot remain here with this good lady when I am unable to pay for my board."
"What will you do?" asked Ike, a pleasant brightness in his eyes.
"I do not know what I will do. I am already in her debt."
"Yes; she paid my board bill at the last place when she went with me to get my trunk."
"And you think you will not be able to pay her?"
"I do not know what I will do."
"You can pay her when you recover your stolen property."
"I will never recover that."
"Did I not promise that I would recover it for you?"
"Yes, in the goodness of your heart you did; but the lady here, with whom I am staying, says the chances are very much against my ever recovering my property."
"And has she intimated that you had better find another home?"
"On the contrary, she has told me I can remain here as long as I please – until I find my uncle or secure a position that will enable me to earn my living."
"You can set your mind at rest; when I promise a thing I usually keep my promise. I will not keep you in suspense. Here is your property restored to you."
The girl almost fainted, so great was her excitement. She could not speak for a full minute, but when she did find voice she exclaimed:
"And you really have recovered all my property?"
"You can recognize your own property; here it is."
"This is wonderful."
"It's jolly good, that's all. I said I would recover it and I've kept my word; and now you are independent."
"Oh, I am so grateful! How did you do it?"
"Well, we did it."
"Who was the thief?"
"One of the boarders in that house."
"Who was the guilty party?"
"Whom would you suspect?"
"No one; they all seemed good people."
"And you had no suspicion?"
"I did not suspect any one particular person."
"A young man named Goodlove was the thief."
The girl stared.
"He was the thief?"
"I never would have suspected him, he was so kind to me. He was the only one to whom I told anything about myself."
"Yes, and he took advantage of your confidence in him to rob you."
"I did not tell him I had any money."
"He evidently suspected you did have, but all's well that ends well; and now you will remember I made you another promise."
"You said you would find my uncle."
"I said I would find him if he were living."
"And can you succeed as you have in recovering this property?"
"I can and will, if he is alive. And now can I advise you?"
"Make your home here for the present, until such time as we report as concerns the whereabouts of your uncle."
"Now that I can pay my board I will gladly remain here. I propose to take music lessons and become a teacher. I shall be self-supporting. I am pretty well advanced in music already."
"That is good. Can we call and see you occasionally?"
"I shall always be delighted to have you call upon me; you have proved yourselves my real friends. But will you tell me how you managed to recover my bonds?"
"Not to-day; some day we will tell you all about it."
"And Goodlove – is he in jail?"
"No, it was his first offense and we let him off. He will leave New York, however, and start afresh. I think he has learned a lesson and will become honest."
On the day following Ike and Jack were at breakfast in a restaurant when they overheard the proprietor of the place and a customer discussing a great robbery that had taken place under the most startling circumstances. Ike, after the meal, secured a paper and read the account. The robbery was indeed a very startling one. An old miser had lived in a tumble-down house for twenty-odd years. No one knew that he possessed one cent; indeed, his neighbors were not aware that he was the owner of the old tumble-down house in which he resided. He was seldom seen on the streets, then only at night. He never begged alms, lived in the most frugal manner, as was supposed, as no one could tell where he did procure his food. He occupied the little old house alone, and, as stated, had gone on for years, never attracting any attention until one morning through the police the startling announcement was made that the old man was really a possible millionaire. Thieves had broken into his old house, chloroformed him and ransacked his apartments, and according to the old man's statement had carried off gold, bills, silver bonds, and securities to an amount which under all the circumstances appeared incredible. Indeed, as it appeared, the police had been in possession of the facts of the robbery for several days, but they had doubted the old man's story, doubted that he had ever possessed any property at all, but later revelations established the truthfulness of the old man's statement beyond all question. As it also appeared, the old man had gone to South America when a very young man. He had returned to New York twenty years previous to the time of the robbery, and had then purchased the old house where, for reasons of his own, he had lived seemingly the life of a miser. The papers spoke of him in contemptuous tones as an old miser, and said by intimation that it served him right to be robbed. It was a just retribution visited upon a man who for the pure love of possession had denied himself the comforts of life just to accumulate his hoards, which were useless to him and the thousands of needy people whom he might have aided. The robbery had been a very mysterious one. No one had been seen by any one lurking in the vicinity of the house, but some time between midnight and morning three men, as the old miser declared, had entered his house, had chloroformed him and then had deliberately gone all through his apartments and had taken everything of value they could lay their hands on. After the robbery, as it appeared, the old man had refused to take any one into his house as a guard. He did not relish the visits of the police, but declared that everything portable of any value had been taken. He had been very methodical and had the numbers of most of his bonds, and the usual notifications were sent to dealers; but it was well known that quite a number of the securities were unregistered and negotiable. Indeed, as it proved later, the old man was mistaken; the bulk of them were negotiable. Besides the securities, jewels of great value and hoards of gold and silver were taken.
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