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- Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective - 20/44 -
"And it makes you feel uneasy?"
"Don't it you?"
"A trifle. I can't imagine who the sneak was."
"It might have been one of the boys playing a joke," said Ruggles.
"I hope it's nothing more serious."
"I shall dismiss the sneak from my mind at any rate," returned Mr. Ruggles. "To-morrow night you may look for your guest, Mrs. Scarlet. Remember, whatever plans for vengeance you may have formed will be more than gratified in placing this detective's sister completely in the power of a man who knows how to use it."
The Professor's eyes snapped at the last, and he lifted and smoothed his hat rapidly with one long arm.
"I understand. Nothing can be too harsh and awful for one of the breed," hissed Madge Scarlet, in a way that made even Professor Ruggles' flesh creep.
Then he rose to go.
"I will see you again ere long."
Mrs. Scarlet locked the door after the retreating form of the tall Professor, and then, going to the little table, she sat down, and resting her thin cheeks between her hands, she cried:
"It is coming, it is coming! At last I am to avenge the insults heaped upon me and mine by that scoundrel, who sends men to prison for money, for pay doled out to him by the minions of the law. Dan'l, if you can look down on your old widow to-night, from your home among the stars, you will see her with tears of joy in her old eyes at thought of how she will avenge herself on your enemies. When once that girl comes into my hands, I will execute vengeance to suit myself, without regard to Professor Ruggles, or any other man."
So it would seem that even the Professor did not fully comprehend the depth of Mrs. Scarlet's vindictiveness toward Dyke Darrel.
It was Professor Darlington Ruggles who penned the letter to Nell Darrel that sent the unsuspecting girl to Chicago to meet her brother.
She was not a little surprised at not finding Dyke at the depot to meet her, and consequently felt a thrill of alarm at seeing so many strange faces.
Why had he not come?
While standing meditating on what course to pursue, a gentleman in rather seedy garments, yet withal not bad looking, stepped up and touched the girl's arm.
"Is this Miss Darrel?"
"Yes, sir," answered the girl, promptly, at the same time regarding the tall, sunset-haired gentleman, who bowed and lifted his tall hat, with no little curiosity.
"I am Oscar Sims, a friend to the great detective, and ever ready to serve his handsome sister."
"But, sir, I do not think that it will be at all necessary. I expect my brother at any minute, now," returned Nell, with a cool hauteur, meant to be freezing.
Nell had heard of the villainous sharks of the great city, who lie in wait for unsuspecting maidens, and she did not mean to be taken in by one of them. Mr. Sims, however, seemed to be a kind gentleman, and when he looked hurt at her remark she hastened to apologize for seeming rudeness.
"It is not at all necessary," said Mr. Sims, with a bland smile. "Mr. Darrel requested me to visit the depot, and look after a young lady whom he expected on the evening train from Woodburg. I hope you will not distrust one who has the best interests of the great detective at heart."
Again the red-haired gentleman bowed, and looked smilingly into the face of the young girl.
For the time, Nell was thrown off her guard.
"I--I expected to meet my brother," she articulated. "He said nothing about you--a stranger--meeting me at the depot."
"No; and good reason why. He did not know when he wrote that it would be impossible for him to get to the depot. A slight accident----"
"Accident! Dyke injured? Then let me go to him at once," cried the impulsive girl, before the man could complete his sentence.
"It is not so very bad," said Mr. Sims, as he led the way to the walk without, and placed his fair charge on the cushions of a hack. Giving low instructions to the driver, he vaulted to the side of Nell Darrel, and the hack rattled away.
Nell sat flushed and silent for some minutes, her heart throbbing painfully.
"Tell me about it," she finally said to her companion. "How did it happen?"
"I can't give you the particulars, since they were not given to me," answered he. "I only know that Dyke met with a fall on the stone pavement, and Dr. Boneset says that his leg is broken. He is in considerable pain, but cheerful withal, and will be mighty glad to see Nell, as he calls you."
Again the man smiled in the face of the girl at his side, and up to this time no suspicion of the truth flashed upon her brain.
Although the hack moved rapidly, it seemed to the anxious girl a long time in reaching its destination.
"Mr. Darrel is at my house," said the gentleman, "and I live at least two miles from the depot."
This was said to silence the growing uneasiness manifested by Miss Darrel.
When at length the hack came to a halt, Mr. Sims quickly alighted and lifted Nell Darrel to the curb; then the hack sped swiftly into the night.
Nell gazed about her with a shudder.
The low, dingy buildings and bad smell pervading the place startled her.
"It cannot be that this is the place," she cried, standing firm, as he attempted to lead her toward a door, over which glimmered a faint light.
"Oh, yes it is."
"But I will not go in there."
"We'll see about that," he growled, suddenly lifting her in his arms and striding forward.
The moment Nell Darrel felt herself lifted from her feet she uttered a wild cry, which was smothered in its inception by the hand of her captor.
"Quiet, child; nobody's going to hurt you if you behave yourself."
Nell was young and vigorous, and she made a desperate struggle for liberty. It was with the utmost difficulty that the man made his way to the room occupied by Mrs. Scarlet.
"Bring the chloroform," said the villain. "We can't do anything with the girl without it."
"I'll fix her!" answered the woman, in a voice that sent a shudder to the heart of poor Nell.
Then a subtle fume filled the girl's nostrils, and soon her senses faded out upon a sea of nothingness--her troubles were over for the time.
Then the man, who was none other than Professor Ruggles, bore his insensible burden after the steps of Mrs. Scarlet, to a room in a gloomy basement beneath the building.
As we have before remarked, it was in a disreputable part of the city, and it was not likely that the friends of the fair Nell would look in such a quarter for her.
"Now, then," said Professor Ruggles, when the twain were once more in the room above, "I shall hold you responsible for the girl's safe keeping, Mrs. Scarlet."
"I'm ready to do my part," answered the woman. "How long will you keep her here?"
"As long as suits my purpose. I am not sure. I may conclude to wait until Dyke Darrel is put off the trail before I take the girl to Gotham; that city will be my ultimate destination. I must leave you now, my dear, but I shall call to-morrow and see how my girl is getting on."
He turned then as if about to depart.
"See here Professor!"
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