Nick Carter, Detective: The Solution of a Remarkable Case

CHAPTER XIII.
EUGENIE'S MURDERER FINDS ANOTHER VICTIM.

Tony stood in the center of the room and clapped his hands loudly together.

Instantly a big picture which hung upon the wall trembled violently.

Suddenly the head of a serpent issued from behind the picture, and swayed back and forth.

Tony began to chant, and the serpent drew nearer, until Nick and the inspector saw a python over twelve feet in length swing itself to the bureau and thence to the floor.

They drew back, keeping well out of sight, while Nick held his trusty revolver in readiness.

Tony began to sway his head, chanting all the time, and keeping his place in the center of the room, while the python glided nearer and nearer.

Presently it reared its head until its glaring eyes were but a few inches from those of Tony.

Then it rested its head upon him and gliding on and on wound its hideous body round and round the strangler.

Then Tony turned and went toward another picture which he moved aside, revealing a grated aperture.

He opened that, thrust in his arm, and drew forth a rabbit which dropped upon the floor.

There it hopped around aimlessly for a moment, and then, discovering the open door, darted through it and disappeared.

Tony attempted to intercept it, but he had not taken a step before he uttered a cry of pain, and stopped.

The python, angered by the escape of the rabbit, was tightening its coils around the body of the strangler.

In vain Tony chanted. In vain he used every trick known to his profession. The snake would not be charmed.

Tighter and tighter grew the coils, while the python's head swayed malignantly before the face of its victim.

Suddenly Tony fell to the floor, and the serpent seemed to change its hold.

Its coils seemed to glide up and encircle the neck of the strangler.

Nick had meanwhile been watching for a chance to use his revolver.

The chance came when the python next raised its head.

The bullet sped true to its aim, and the python's head was pierced by the lead.

Nick and the inspector leaped forward.

They seized and raised him up.

He was senseless, but not dead.

"He cannot live," said Nick. "Let us revive him if we can. His ribs are broken, and he is bleeding internally. It was terrible."

Tony at last opened his eyes.

The story he told was disjointed, but in substance it was as follows

He belonged to a family of snake-charmers, of which he and his sister Eugenie were the most expert.

Long ago he and Eugenie had quarreled because of his dishonest ways. She would have no more to do with him.

At Captain Phil's request, he had persuaded her to take the house in Forty-seventh street, which had long been a resort for certain criminals, who had managed to keep it so unsuspected by the police.

The secret passages were old. He did not know who had made them or where they were constructed.

Eugenie had given all the serpents to Tony except the python, of which she was very fond.

Even her maid, Delia Dent, had been unaware of the python's presence, and know nothing of Eugenie's passion for snakes.

Tony had come to the house on the night of his sister's death, accompanied by John and Sindahr, to demand money.

He had reached the door of his sister's room just as the python had glided from its hiding place in the wall behind the picture.

His presence had seemed to anger the reptile, which had wound itself around its mistress' neck and hissed loudly.

He saw that it was choking Eugenie, and rushed forward to save her.

Then the python would have attacked him, but, realizing it, he turned and fled, leaving her there to her fate.

He had told John and Sindahr all that he had seen, and had learned for the first time that Sindahr had been charmed by a serpent when a child, and could not go near one without falling under the peculiar magnetic spell which they exert. He had a horror of the house because of the presence of the python.

Later Tony had returned and, fed the reptile. Why, he did not know, except that he loved serpents.

He told them where his cobras were concealed, and the inspector took good care to have them exterminated.

Tony died from his injuries before he had- quite completed his story, and the true nativity of Eugenie La Verde was never known.

But her murderer was found and he was a serpent.

A visit to Goerck street revealed the fact that Morgan had made good his threat, and killed John, for he was found with a dirk in his heart, and evidence was adduced to prove that Morgan put it there.

Both he and Captain Philip subsequently paid the penalty of their crimes, the latter being given up to the tender mercies of Jersey justice.

The schooner and the retreat under the pier in South Brooklyn were both searched. The former was sold and the latter was filled with stones.

The murder of Eugenie La Verde was a mystery no longer, and the murderer, a serpent, died by a bullet from Nick Carter's revolver.

THE END.
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