Nick Carter, Detective: The Solution of a Remarkable Case
A FIGHT WITH A "SHADOW."
Nick did not know, until some time afterward, how near he had been to
death at the moment when he crossed the threshold of Eugenie La Verde's
room that night.
Nevertheless strange thoughts suggested themselves to his mind as he
prosecuted his search through the place, and examined the pillows.
He was conscious, too, of a peculiar odor that he did not recognize, and
which made his nerves tingle with an odd sensation that he could not
The pillow on the floor looked as though somebody had pounded it out of
all shape, as one will do at times in order to lie more comfortably. But
the bed gave no signs of recent occupancy.
Had a man or a woman been there and lain upon the bed, some marked
evidence of the fact would have been left. However, there was none.
It had been Nick's intention to take a hasty survey of the house and
then go home and rest until the following day.
Now, however, he hesitated.
Presently he went slowly down the stairs, opened and closed the front
door, and instead of going out, returned silently to the foot of the
stairs and stood, listening.
For an hour he remained perfectly motionless, but not a sound came to
him to reveal the presence of anyone, and at last, satisfied that he
would gain nothing by waiting longer that night, he noiselessly left the
house and started homeward.
As Nick drew near to his own residence, a slight motion made by a dark
shadow on the opposite side of the street attracted his attention.
"Somebody watching for me," was his mental comment. "I wonder if it is
Tony, with his string? If so, he has made good time, and his presence
here so quickly may account for the noise I heard in the house in
Forty-seventh street. In case it is the strangler, I'll give him a little
sport before dawn."
He went directly up the Steps of his own house and entered.
People knew well enough the house where Nick lived, but nobody knew
that he also owned the house directly back of it, fronting upon the
He had purchased it some time before, and had so arranged that he could
enter or leave his own house by the other one without fear of being seen
Just now, however, his purpose was to let Tony know that he was Nick
Hastening to his room, he hurriedly removed his wet clothes, placed a
few necessary things in his pockets; and again went out.
Turning down the street, he soon became convinced that Tony was
following him, and then he set out in earnest.
Hurrying over to Third avenue, he ran up the steps and caught a down
train, just as it was moving out of the station.
The purpose in that was to compel Tony to run also, for Nick's real idea
in "having some fun" with the strangler was only to get a good view of
True, he had seen him in the cabin of the sloop, at the time of the row.
But he had also seen them all, and he had no idea which one was Tony.
Nick saw his "shadow" running, and watched him as, disregarding the
rules of the road, he leaped upon the platform of the train after it was
in motion, in spite of the efforts of the guard to thrust him back.
The detective walked back through the cars until he came to the one in
which Tony was quietly seated.
There was a seat directly opposite the strangler, and Nick took it,
while, without any effort to conceal his purpose, he carefully studied
the man's face.
When the train reached Houston street, Nick rose and left the car.
Tony did likewise.
Nick passed down the stairs and boarded an up town surface car.
Tony did the same.
"Cheeky!" muttered Nick. "I wonder if he thinks I'm a fool? Well, I'm
tired of this, and I'll shake him and go home."
He remained on the car until he reached Fourteenth street, when he got
down and went westward as far as the Morton House.
He turned the corner of Broadway and Fourteenth street about two hundred
feet in advance of Tony.
The distance was not much, but it was enough.
As soon as he turned, Nick began making a rapid change.
He had not gone twenty feet before his appearance was entirely altered.
From a young man he was changed to a very old one. A light mustache had
given place to a set of snow-white whiskers patterned a la Greeley. The
derby hat that he had worn had disappeared-for it was of the "crush"
kind -and in its place was a broad brimmed felt. The jaunty cane that he
had carried was taken apart and thrust into a pocket. A pair of
spectacles adorned his nose, and he walked with the hesitation of one
who has long suffered the tortures of rheumatism.
The entire change had not occupied more than one minute of actual time,
and as soon as it was completed Nick wheeled abruptly and retraced his
He turned the corner and went on toward Third avenue.
He met Tony and passed him, smiling when he saw that the strangler had
quickened his steps.
He could have touched the fellow as he passed, and he felt a strong
inclination to do so with no very gentle hand.
However, he did not, and in another moment Tony had turned the comer and
"I guess I am done with him for to-night," thought Nick, "and now I'll
go home and go to bed."
He reached Third avenue, boarded a car, rode to his corner and got down.
Then he paused, while an amused smile stole over his features.
Tony was standing on the corner as though awaiting his arrival.
"That fellow is smarter than I thought," muttered Nick.
"Has he penetrated my disguise, or is he only waiting here in the hope
that I will show up in the old shape?"
Again he passed Tony, but the fellow did not look at him.
Walking on down the street, he presently took a small mirror from his
pocket and held it up before him.
The glass reflected the form of Tony skulking along
rapidly behind, and gaining with every step.
"The scoundrel is going to try his game on to-night," muttered Nick. "I
hope he may succeed if I don't give him a dose that he'll remember many
Tony drew nearer and nearer.
Nick still held the mirror so that he could see the skulkin', snake-like
figure of the would-be murderer.
He could see something of eagerness in the man's gait, as though he
thirsted for blood, and could ill-restrain his passion for murder when
the moment drew near for its accomplishment.
Nearer and yet nearer.
They had reached a place along the block where the darkness was greater
than in the portion that they had already traversed.
Suddenly Tony darted forward, moving like a cat.
At the same instant Nick turned.
He stooped and jumped aside in the selfsame second.
Just in time.
There was an angry swish through the air, made by the cord of the
strangler as he attempted to wind it around Nick's throat.
With a quick bound Nick was at Tony's side.
He seized him and was about to hurl him to the pavement when the fellow
seemed to slip from his grasp like an eel.
Again the swish of the cord, and again Nick dodged just in time to avoid
the strange but deadly weapon.
The detective knew that, strong as he was, if the cord once touched his
neck, nothing could save him.
Once more he leaped toward Tony. Again he seized him, and this time the
fellow did not slip away as before.
He could not play the same trick twice upon Nick Carter.
But even as the detective seized the man, he heard a loud hiss, and a
noxious odor filled the air.
It was the suffocating smell of the cobra. Like a flash Nick realized
that the man was a snake-charmer and that his pets would protect him.
He loosened his hold and leaped back out of danger,
Then his fist shot out, striking the strangler squarely between the