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

CHAPTER XI.
NICK CARTER SWINGS THE AX.

Nick Carter and the senator, with Chick and Patsy, entered the carriage at the door, a few moments later, leaving the house and the prisoners in charge of the officers, and were driven rapidly toward D Street, southwest, for Nick had determined to stop at the house Dumont had mentioned, while on his way to the long bridge. It was almost directly in his course, and it would consume only a little time to do so. If Mustushimi were there, so much the better. The rest would be comparatively easy.

That neighborhood of the Capital city does not bear a savory reputation, and it was just the place of all others, for Mustushimi to have selected as a place for hiding, if he should be pursued too closely at any time; and, the house and its location were so perfectly described to the detective by Dumont, before they separated, that Nick knew he could find it with ease.

It was a low, two story brick house, painted white; and there were lace curtains at the windows and lights behind some of them, so that it did not appear unlike its neighbors in that locality notwithstanding the fact that the time was now two in the morning.

As the hack drew up in front of the door, the detective leaped down and rang the bell; and after a moment's delay a negro appeared and looked at him through a narrow crack.

But Nick slammed the door open instantly, sending, the negro sprawling upon his back; then he seized him by the collar, and stood him on his feet before he could recover from his surprise.

"Where is your master"- demanded the detective.

"He's done gone out, sah," was the trembling reply.

"I am referring to the Japanese baron Mustushimi by name."

"Yassir; dat's my marster, sho' 'nuff."

"Are you telling the truth when you say that he has gone out?"

"I shore is sah. I shore is."

"Where has he gone?"

"I specs, sah, 'cross de ribber."

"The long bridge."

"Yassir."

"How long has he been gone?"

"Well, sah, it cayn't be mo' dan an houah; it cayn't nohow, sah."

"Was he alone?"

"Yassir."

"Did he say anything to, you about returning, before he left?"

"He done say'd, sah, dat he couldn't come back yar befo' to-morrow, nohow. Dat's all."

"I wonder if you are telling me the truth, nigger?"

"'Yas, sah, I is."

"Are you alone in the house now, or are there others here?"

"I's alone, sah. Dere ain't nobody here, nohow."

"Don't you know the house to which your master has gone, nigger?"

"Yassir, I does."

"What house is it?" Nick wished to have confirmation, if possible, regarding what Dumont had, told him.

"It done used to be a gamblin'-house, sah, jes' on deoder side ob de ribbuh. Dat's de house, sah, where all them men meets to talk and say cuss words, sah. It'son de lef' han' jes' as you cross de bridge, sah."

"I know where it is, if that is the one."

"Dat's de one, sah, shore 'nuff."

"All right, my man. I guess I'll take your word for it. But I want you to stay right here at this house till I return, and if it should so happen that your master should return in the meantime, I don't want you to tell him anything about this call. Do you understand?"

"I does, sah."

"Will you keep your mouth shut?"

"I will, sah."

"If he should come back here before I return, and you should tell him that I have been here and that I am coming back again, it will be a prison for yours. Do you understand?"

"I does, sah. I'll be as mum as an oyster, sah. I won't speak about you, nohow."

"I'll pay you well if you serve me, nigger; and I'll make you sorry if you don't."

With that the detective turned away and reentered the back, and then it was driven rapidly away again, toward the long bridge and out upon it, and finally across the river to the Virginia shore.

"You don't suppose that nigger was fooling you all the time, do you, Carter?" the senator asked, as soon as the detective reentered the hack.

"No. I think he was telling the truth. I know a lot about niggers, and I think I can tell the difference between a good one and a bad one. That one happened to be what I call a good nigger, and he spoke the truth,"

"All the same it seems to me that it would have been a good idea to search the house before you left it. If Mustushimi -----"

"Mustushimi was not there. The nigger spoke the truth. And, anyhow, I did not feel like sparing the time. We have lingered almost too long as it is."

"Why?"

"I am afraid that Mustushimi has got some 'getaway' planned out, and all ready for instant use. If he has, it is located at the old gambling-house, and he will be gone by the time we get there."

"But you can trail him. You never fail in a matter of that kind."

"All the same, I would a whole lot rather find him there now. It would save a heap of trouble; and, besides, I have set my heart on finishing this case before dawn."

"What do you suppose Mustushimi went to that house for, anyway?"

"To warn the others to skip; to get some money that he had cached there; to do any one of a hundred things that he might have wished to do before leaving the community-and to leave it as quickly as possible, is what he intends to do now. He has suddenly made up his mind quite finally that this is not a healthy locality for him."

"I don't blame him for that. Not in the least. But if you are so sure that he is going to skip, why don't you let him go, And have done with it? The President will turn him loose anyhow, won't he?"

"Yes."

"Why don't you let him skip, then?"

"You forget that I promised that I would produce the man before my employer- and I intend to keep my word in that particular, just as I do in all others."

"There are four of us. We will have ten men to tackle. I wonder if they will fight?"

"If you'd like to get out and return, senator-----"

"Carter, you know me better than that."

"Of course I do, senator. Pardon me."

"I wonder if they will fight?"

"Very likely; although I don't really think there is much fight in Mustushimi at any time. He is a coward."

"But the others? The remaining nine?"

"They may put up a fight. It is very likely that they will do so. They will know that they are on Virginia ground and out of the jurisdiction of Washington. They have probably counted on that very thing in selecting that place for their rendezvous. There are notorious delays of the laws in some parts of Virginia- they know that, too, probably."

"Maybe they will have skipped, all of them, before we get there."

"That is the only thing I fear now; but they cannot suspect they will be overtaken quite so soon. My principal hope lies in the idea that they will not have taken their departure as yet, although they will be getting ready to do so."

"You cannot arrest men for being mere spies, can you?"

"As a matter of fact, I have no right to arrest any of them, within the State of Virginia, to-night. But I'm going to take the right, if I find them there."

"It will be a grand haul if you get all of them, Carter. You will have captured every one of the band, without one escaping, and have done it all within a few hours."

"That is what I hope to do, senator. That is the sort of thing that will frighten this sort of business out of the United States. We don't want any spy systems here. There is no room for such things. We have no intrigues in our country, but if once you permitted a spy system to creep in, and flourish, it wouldn't be long before we would have as many intrigues in Washington as they have at foreign courts. And they are deadly things for any country."

"I can well believe that."

"Such is the view that the President takes of the matter. He doesn't want any noise made about this affair. He wishes it all hushed up effectually; but he wants the persons who are concerned in it so thoroughly frightened that in the future they will give this country a wide berth. Spy systems are all right for Paris, or St. Petersburg, or Vienna, or for any of the foreign capitals, I suppose, but they won't go here."

"'Nohow,' as the nigger said, eh?"

"No; they won't go here, nohow. We have had enough of it already."

They were approaching the end of the bridge now, and the senator pointed ahead of them.

"Is that the building?" he asked.

"No. It is just beyond. We will be there in a moment. You are all to remain quiet while I take the initiative in whatever happens."

"All right, Carter. You're the captain. I wonder that you didn't bring Gordon with you."

"I wanted Gordon to remain with the prisoners. I gave him some messages for the major."

Presently the detective signaled for the driver to stop, and they all got out of the hack and went forward cautiously on foot, approaching the house in question by keeping as much in the shadow as possible.

It was noticeably dark and silent as they approached it, but that argued nothing, for the place was arranged so that no light from the interior could steal outside. Gambling-houses always are, in this part of the world.

Entrance to this particular house is had by means of a flight of wooden stairs or steps which ascend outside the building, on the landward side of it, to a platform at the top; and beyond that is a wide door which gives upon the gambling-room. This was now closed - that is, for gambling purposes, as the detective knew.

But it would be in that part of the house where the men, if they were there, must be found; for from that room the "getaways" are arranged, so that whenever the Virginia authorities bestir themselves enough to pretend to "pull" the place-which does happen sometimes-the gamblers will have no difficulty in making their escape, and in taking with them the expensive parts of the layout.

Nick knew about these "getaways", and so before ascending the stairs referred to, he sent Chick and the senator around to other parts of the building, keeping Patsy with him.

"You know about those 'getaways,' Chick," he said, before they separated. "Take the senator with you, and guard them. There are only two. If you can get through either of them, do so, and be prepared to meet me on the second floor, for I am going to smash the door in without a warning;" and then they noticed for the first time that the detective carried an ax in his right hand.

Followed by Patsy, he crept silently up the stairs to the top and then they tiptoed their way across tile platform to the door beyond it; and here the detective paused a moment, to put his ear against the door and listen.

"They are there," he whispered to Patsy. "I can hear them. Now. Ready!"

And he brought the ax down with all his strength,and with a resounding crash against the door, smashing it in with the first blow.

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