The Great Spy System, or, Nick Carter's Promise to the President

CHAPTER IX.
NICK CARTER CAPTURES THE FORTY SPIES.

All this that has been described was, of course, enacted in a very short space of time-much less than it requires to tell it.

Nick knew perfectly well that the men could not withstand a continuance of that awful shock for a very great length of time, and he had prepared himself for the end of it.

There were thick-soled rubber shoes for himself and the senator to don; and there were heavy rubber gloves for their hands, ready beside them; and there was a long rope ready for his uses, also.

He seized that now, after having adjusted the rubber shoes and gloves, and having made one end of the rope fast, he hurried down the stairs, and as he passed each man, he hastily threw two half-hitches of the rope he carried over the head of each man as he passed him.

It did not take him long to arrive at the bottom of the stairs, and here again he made fast the other end of the rope; after which he returned rapidly up the stairs again, and hastened into the room where the switchboard was located.

For a moment he turned the current completely off, and then put it ipart way on again; just far enough so

that the imprisoned men could feel that there was still a shock passing through their bodies; just enough so that they would not dare to renew their struggles for liberty.

"Now, senator," he called out, "come here, will you?"

The senator went to him, and the detective continued:

"Will you stand here near the switch?"

"Yes."

"If I call out to you, throw the switch over to this notch. That will be far enough. I only want to be assured that not one of those men is going to get away."

"Have you got the chief?" asked the senator.

"No; he escaped, but we will get him, somehow, before morning."

The detective then returned to the stairway, and at the top he stopped a moment, and said to the men he had used so harshly-for already they were beginning to struggle for liberty.

"Stop that struggling, or I will give you the full force of the current again. Stop, I tell you!"

They obeyed at once, for their terror was almost pitiful to behold. And if you stop to think upon it whose would not be so under like circumstances?

"Now," continued the detective, "listen to me. I am going to begin at the bottom of the stairs, and tie you, one by one, so that none can escape. If any one of you should make an effort to do so the current will instantly be turned on again, and you will all suffer for the act of that one. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Yes," came in a chorus of husky voices from the suffering men on the stairs.

"One by one I shall bring you up the stairs to this floor, where you will be still more firmly bound, and presently there will be policemen here to take you away, and to serve you as you deserve-only there may be one or two, or perhaps three among you who may be permitted to escape. We will see about that."

The detective passed down the stairs then, with short pieces of rope that had been provided by Chick. These were thrown over his left arm so that he could reach them readily as he wished to make use of them.

Beginning with the man nearest the bottom of the stairs, the detective drew his hands behind him and fastened them there; then he served the next one in the same way; and then he forced the two to precede him up the stairs, picking their way among the others who were on them, and so conducted them to the room on the second floor, where he compelled them to lie down upon the floor while he bound their ankles together after the same manner.

After that he returned for two others; and so he continued, taking them there to that room in twos, until he had removed the last one from the stairs and had bound them all, as he had served the first two.

"Now turn off the current entirely, senator," he said to his friend.

And then he looked down upon his captives with a grim smile on his face-and counted them.

There were exactly twenty-one in all; and as Nick looked at them they seemed to represent all the nationalities of the globe. There were Chinamen, there were Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, a Turk, an Italian, and so on.

It was indeed a motley crew of spies that Nick Carter had captured; men who had been willing to sell their services for anything, for a price.

"Mustushimi has not confined himself to the use of his own countrymen," said the detective, addressing the senator. "He has brought around him spies, I suppose, from all quarters of the globe."

"So it would seem," replied the senator. And then, unable to hold in any longer, he cried out:

"Nick Carter, I never had so much fun in all my life. I never saw such a show as that one. I wouldn't have missed it for a thousand dollars. The 'Greatest show on earth' is a joke to that one. If Barnum was alive and could get hold of it, your fortune would be made."

"It was funny," assented Nick.

"Funny! that word can't express it."

"I don't think that any of these men regarded it as funny, however," said Nick.

"No; I rather guess not. From their standpoint, it, must have been terrible."

"It was-at the beginning. But I only gave them the full force of the current for an instant."

"One would suppose that even that would have killed some of them, Carter."

"No. There were too many of them taking it, for one thing. The stronger absorbed some of the shock from the weaker ones. Put as it was, three of them fainted, although they came around again, almost at once- as soon as I lessened the shock."

"What are you intending to do now?" asking the senator.

"As soon as these men are sufficiently recovered to reply to my questions, I shall ask a few of them; but in the meantime I must go over to the other house. Do you think, senator, that you can stand guard over these men while I am gone?"

"Sure thing, Carter."

"You are armed?"

"Yes."

"Let them see that you are. That is right. Now, senator, I am going to leave you for a short time."

"All right. You will find us all here, just as you see us now, when you return."

"I haven't a doubt of it. But if there should be any effort on the part of any of them to break away, don't hesitate to hurt them, to keep them quiet."

"Oh, I won't. There won't be any of them who will make a second effort," the senator replied significantly.

The detective left him then, and, descending to the basement of the house, passed out by the rear door, and made his way across to the other house, where Chick and Gordon had been on duty, and where he knew that something must have happened by this time, although he had no means of guessing what it might be.

But midway between the doors of the two houses he encountered Chick, who was on his way to him; and they stopped there in the tiny yard to discuss the events of the night.

"Well?" said the detective quickly, to his assistant.

"What has happened on your side of the fence?"

"It's all over," was the smiling reply.

"Did they break into the house?"

"Yes."

"How many of them?"

"Twenty."

"I got one more than you did. We have twenty-one."

"Pretty nearly evened the thing up in making their attack didn't they, Nick?"

"So it seems. Did Mustushimi, by any chance, go around your way, Chick?"

"No; I haven't seen him."

"He succeeded in getting away from me."

"That is too bad."

"But we will get him, all right, before the night is over, or, at least, early in the day to come. He can't get very far away, and I will make those fellows talk, even if I have to give them the shocks all over again."

"I think, Nick," said. the assistant, "that the fellow we captured first-the one that Patsy got for you-will be the best one to question. He confessed that he was second in command to Mustushimi himself. If we had him here, we could make him talk without torturing the others with more current."

"That is perhaps so. What is he? A Jap?"

"No; a Frenchman."

"We will send for him or go to him. Where is Patsy? I haven't seen a sign of him since he struck that fellow, in front of the Arlington."

"Patsy is here. He was standing outside the house when the men made the attack on me, and he came in as soon as they were caught."

"I wonder if he was thoughtful enough to have a conveyance handy anywhere?"

"Yes; there is one outside the door now."

"All right. That is good. Send Patsy for Mustushimi's lieutenant at once. Have him bring the man directly to me."

"All right. I'll attend to it now."

"And, Chick?"

"Yes?"

"There is no telephone in this house behind me. There is one in yours."

"Yes."

"Call up headquarters, and tell them there all that has happened. Ask the major to send around a wagon or two-enough to cart away about forty men. He will be delighted. We ought to get these fellows out of the neighborhood as soon as possible. Tell Patsy to send his carriage around to my door and to come through the houses and speak to me before he goes after the Frenchman."

"All right."

Nick returned then to the senator, and found that conditions had not changed in any way during his short absence and presently Patsy appeared, grinning when he looked down upon the crestfallen faces of the captured spies.

"Nice lot, ain't they?" he said. "Gee, chief, but it was funny, from my standpoint. I was just outside the other house while it was all happening. I thought that was the place for me, for I did not know that Chick had Gordon with him, and I did know that the senator was with you. I thought Chick might need me, when it came to the typing-up act."

"Quite right. Now, Patsy, Chick says that the first man captured- the one you put out of business, is Mustushimi's lieutenant."

"That's correct."

"I want you to go after him and bring him here at once. How long will it take you?"

"Between twenty minutes and half an hour."

"Get him here as soon as you can. I want to make him talk."

"Put you on the track of Mustushimi?"

"Yes. I am not sure that the rank and file of his followers would know where he would be apt to hide; but it is likely that the Frenchman will know. And I am bound to get that man, and at once; else my work is not half done. I'd like to finish it all up to-night, if possible; and I think I will."

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