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- The Rover Boys in New York - 20/40 -
gained the lower corridor. But the man had already gotten out on Broadway. As Dick came out he saw the fellow run across the street to a distant corner and leap into a taxicab that was empty. The driver was on the seat and the turnout started rapidly away.
"You're not going to get away if I can help it," muttered Dick, desperately, and looked around for another taxicab. One stood halfway down the block, the driver taking a nap inside.
"Wake up!" exclaimed Dick, shaking the man. "See that taxi? I want to follow it! Don't let it get out of your sight, if you want your fare and a couple of dollars besides."
"I'm on!" answered the driver, and leaped into his seat, while Dick got into the cab. Away they started, in the full glare of the electric lights of Broadway.
The course was downtown, and the first taxicab made rapid progress. The man inside looked back and when he saw Dick following him, he spoke hurriedly to his driver. Then the cab turned swiftly into a side street, and, reaching Fifth Avenue, shot northward on that well-known thoroughfare.
"Can you catch that other taxi?" asked Dick, anxiously.
"I can try," was the grim answer. "He's going some, though!"
"Maybe they'll be held up at some cross street."
"Not this time in the morning," answered the driver, "They've got a straight road to the Park."
On and on went one taxicab after the other. Fifty-fifth Street was passed and still the first turnout kept well in the lead. But then a big furniture van appeared out of a side street and the cab ahead had to slow down.
"Now is your chance!" cried Dick. "Run up alongside of 'em!"
His driver did as requested. But then came a mix-up, as two more cabs appeared, and Dick's was caught between them. He looked ahead and saw the man with the heavy beard leap to the ground.
"Guess your man is going to run for the Park!" cried the taxicab driver. "Hold on-- I want my money first, young fellow!"
Dick had leaped to the ground, bent on catching the fleeing individual. He pulled some bills from his pocket.
"Here is five dollars-- wait for me!" he cried. "Or maybe you had better come along. That fellow is a criminal."
"I'll wait here," answered the taxicab driver. He did not wish to become mixed up in an affair which he did not understand.
The corner of Central Park at Fifty-seventh Street was already in sight. The bearded man ran swiftly across the broad plaza and the sidewalk. Then he darted along the side of the Park and on to the path leading to the menagerie. In a moment more the darkness of the place swallowed him up.
"Hey there, what are you running for?" It was a challenge from a Park policeman, as he stepped in front of Dick.
"I wanted to catch that man who just ran in here," explained the youth.
"I didn't see any man."
"Well, he went in here just now. He ran away from the Outlook Hotel in a taxi and got out just below here."
"Who is he?" asked the policeman, becoming interested.
"I don't know. But he tried to get in my room at the hotel. The hotel men want to catch him."
"Humph! Well he's gone now."
Dick continued to look around for the escaped man, but it was all to no purpose. Then he returned to where he had left the taxicab. He found his driver in earnest conversation with the other driver.
"That fellow didn't pay me a cent!" complained the other driver, bitterly. "An' after me doing my best for him, too!"
"Why did you try to run away?" asked Dick, coldly.
"I thought it was all right. He said he had a 'phone message that his father was dying and he must git up town at once, and he promised me big pay. I didn't know he was trying to git away from anybody."
"Well, it's too bad he got away from all of us. By the way, can you describe him to me?" went on Dick, curiously.
"Don't you know him?"
"Only by reputation-- and that's bad," and Dick smiled grimly.
"He was tall and thin and didn't have much hair on his head. I think them whiskers was false."
"Anything else that you remember?"
"He had two of his front teeth filled with gold. I noticed it when he yawned under the electric lights."
"Two front teeth filled with gold!" cried Dick, in amazement. "And tall and thin! Can it be possible!"
"Do you know him after all?" asked the man who had given the information.
"Perhaps I do. Tell me some more about him. How was he dressed and how did he talk?"
As well as he was able the taxicab man described the individual who had gotten away. As he proceeded Dick became more and more convinced that he was on the right trail.
"Here is a dollar for what you have told me," said he, to the driver. "If you spot that rascal, have him arrested, and call up the Outlook Hotel," he added.
"All right, I'll remember that," was the ready answer.
"I'll go back to the hotel," said the youth, to his own driver. He knew that Sam and Tom would be wondering what had become of him.
It took but a short while to reach the Outlook Hotel, and there Dick found not only Sam and Tom, but also a clerk and several others awaiting his return. He settled with the driver, and dismissed him.
"Do you know anything about the man who got away?" asked Dick, of the clerk.
"Not much. He came here several days ago and registered under the name of Peter Smith, of Pittsburgh. All he had was a small valise, and that is still in his room."
"Anything in it?"
"I don't know. We can go up and take a look."
"It's a pity you didn't catch the rascal, whoever he is," was Tom's comment.
"Wait," whispered Dick, to his brothers. "I've got something to tell you."
All passed upstairs in an elevator, and the clerk led the way to the room which the patron calling himself Peter Smith had occupied. All the apartment contained was a rusty-looking valise.
"Must have picked that up at some second-hand store," was Sam's comment.
The valise was unlocked and the clerk opened it. It contained nothing but a comb and brush and some magazines.
"Humph! A dead beat!" muttered the clerk. "He put the magazines inside to make the valise feel as if it was filled with clothing. It's an old game. Be intended to leave without paying his bill. I wish you had collared him!"
"I wish I had," answered Dick; and then he and his brothers returned to their own rooms.
"What have you got to tell?" demanded Tom, when they were alone.
"I've found out who that man was," answered Dick.
"Who?" questioned Sam.
AT THE BROKERS' OFFICE
Sam and Tom gazed at their brother in amazement.
"Josiah Crabtree!" exclaimed the youngest Rover.
"How did you find that out?" questioned Tom.
"I suspected Crabtree as soon as I saw the man jump into the taxicab," answered Dick. "There was something about his form, and in the way he ran, that looked familiar. Then the taxi driver told me he had two front teeth filled with gold. That put me on the trail, and from what the man told me I am sure the fellow was old Crabtree."
"But if it was Crabtree, what has he to do with dad's visit to New York?" asked Sam.
"That remains to be found out. But one thing is sure. Crabtree knows that father is missing,-- and he had that extra key made to get into the room during father's absence."
"But where is dad? Do you imagine Crabtree had anything to do with his
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