Nick Carter, Detective: The Solution of a Remarkable Case

CHAPTER III.
THE FIRST CLEW.

On the following morning Nick went at once to Eugenie La Verde's house in Forty-seventh street, disguised as a plumber.

The room which she had formerly occupied was nearly in the same condition in which it had been found on the morning after the murder, and a careful search offered no immediate suggestion to the detective.

From the sleeping room, he passed to the parlor floor, where he inspected all of the window-catches and appliances, casings, and panels.

Again without result.

Presently, he approached the stairs which led from the parlor floor to that below.

The door of communication was at the foot of the stairs, and was both locked and chained on the inner, or parlorfloor side.

There was nothing faulty about either the lock, chain, or door. They were evidently perfect, and he turned his attention to the stairs.

Stair-ways are convenient arrangements through which to construct a secret passage-way, and Nick never neglected them.

Suddenly he made a discovery. The third step from the bottom was not secure in its place.

For more than two hours he continued the search, but without further result.

It was nearly dark when Nick was reminded of the fact that he was hungry, and he quietly left the house in search of a convenient restaurant.

Two blocks away he found a beer saloon, which advertised meals at all hours.

Having entered and ordered what he wanted, he was presently engaged in eating it, when two swarthy, ill-conditioned fellows entered the saloon and seated themselves at the second table from him.

The very first words uttered by the men caused him to listen attentively:

"Captain, Inspector Byrnes made a call last night."

"Where?" asked the one addressed as captain."

"Upon that devil of a detective. I don't care to mention his name here."

"Ah; the one whom Sindahr calls the little giant? Exactly.

"Well, what of it?"

"It may be that he has set him upon us."

"Bah! No. There are no reasons for that. The inspector does not even know that we exist."

"He knows most things."

"Yes, but nothing of us. Still it may be well to-did you watch for the 'the little giant.'?"

"Yes."

"Has he gone out?"

"One never can tell, but I think not. I left there an hour ago, and Tony has taken my place. I could swear that he had not left the house when I came away."

Nick smiled.

"Come, John," said the captain. "We have been here long enough and we have other work to do. It is dark now. Come."

They rose quickly and left the place, and upon the instant Nick decided to shadow them.

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