Nick Carter, Detective: The Solution of a Remarkable Case

CHAPTER II.
THE INTERVIEW.

Nick Carter was at home when the inspector called, and he received him as he would have received no other man in the whole city of New York; in his own proper person. One of the cardinal points of Nick's faith in himself was that by keeping himself entirely unknown to everybody his various disguises were rendered absolutely impenetrable.

"I am glad to see you, inspector," was his greeting to the chief. "Sit down, help yourself to a cigar and we will talk it all over, for I suppose you are here on business."

"You are right, Nick."

"You never come unless there is something of importance on hand. What is it to-night?"

"The Eugenie La Verde affair."

"Why, I thought that was given up."

"So it is-by everybody except myself."

"Ah! By the way, I see that-"

"That Delia Dent is dead? Yes."

"Do you take any stock in her knowing aught of the murder, inspector?"

"None whatever. She was as innocent as you, or I."

"My opinion, although of course I know nothing about the case."

"Have you a theory, Nick?"

"No. I avoid theories as I do the typhus or the small-pox. They are dangerous and very catching."

"Exactly. Still one thinks."

"Yes-unfortunately."

"Nick, I want you to take this matter in hand and sift it to the bottom."

"Easier said than done, inspector."

"I believe that you can do it."

"It is a very blind case."

"Everybody else has failed. Will you try it, Nick? There is a murderer somewhere, and he must be found if it takes years to do it. Will you try it?"

"Yes."

"Thank you. I feared that you would refuse, and yet-----"

"I may want a favor sometime, eh?"

"Precisely."

"When am I to begin, and what are your instructions?"

"Begin when you choose, and follow your own bent independently of everybody. I have only one order to give."

"What is that?"

"That no one but ourselves must know that you are on the case."

"I should have made that point a condition of my taking it, inspector."

"You are familiar with the details of the case, I suppose?"

"Yes, sufficiently to begin, unless you have some particular pointer to give me."

"No, there are no pointers in the case."

"Humph! Did Eugenie have any relatives living?"

"Yes; a mother."

"She left some property, did she not?"

"Yes, her mother inherits. I have not learned very much regarding her connections."

"What becomes of the house? Did she own it?"

"Yes. It is at present locked and deserted."

"Ah-and you have the key!"

"Certainly."

"Will you give it to me."

"Yes. I have it with me. Here it is."

"Good. While I am at work upon the ease, inspector, will you see that the house remains undisturbed?"

"I will."

"Did the newspapers recount everything concerning the murder correctly?"

"Oh, yes. There was so little to say regarding the surroundings, that I am sure they covered the ground."

"You looked for trap-doors, sliding panels, movable casings, and all such things, I suppose?"

"Certainly. We looked very thoroughly."

"And found nothing!"

"Nothing."

"Still, it will do no harm for me to have a try."

"Certainly not."

"I have found such things in houses where I least expected them before now. It may be that I will find something of the kind there."

"It may be."

"But you do not think so?"

"No, frankly, I do not."

"And yet, how else could the murderer have entered and left the house?"

"My dear Nick, I have asked myself that question at least ten thousand times."

"And found no answer?"

"None."

"Well, I'm inclined to the belief that I will find something of the kind there."

"I hope you will."

"The case stands this way. A girl was murdered. To have been murdered it seems probable that a stranger gained access to her room."

"Yes."

"And yet the condition in which the house was found was such that it is apparently impossible that any one did enter or leave the house after Delia Dent left her mistress that night."

"Precisely."

"Therefore it must have been by some means or method of which you are ignorant."

"Of course.

"How then, if not by a secret door, sliding panel, or some like contrivance?"

"That is the question. How, then?"

"Well, that is then the first thing that I am going to look for."

"And the next?"

"Will depend upon my success with the first. Is that all, inspector?"

"Nearly. You will find the house exactly as I found it when I first went there to investigate; and now, goodnight, Nick," continued the inspector, rising, and taking a large envelope from his pocket.

"This," he said, "contains the entire case from first to last, and you may read it over at your own convenience. Nothing is omitted, and yet very little is said that is worth reading."

"It is that Eugenie La Verde was choked to death, and that the murderer escaped and left not the slightest clew as to his identity or his haunts."

"Exactly. And now you must find him."

"I will try."

"If anybody can succeed, you can and will."

"Thanks; I will try."

"Good-night."

"Good-night."

The door closed, and the great director of detectives was gone.

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