Nicholas Carter


      Nick Carter's friends often ask him whether, in the course of his remarkable experience as a detective, he has ever encountered anything which could not have been the work of human hands.

      Few people, nowadays, will own that they believe in ghosts. Yet most of us would be less sure about it in a grave-yard at midnight than on Broadway at noon.

      A man who can tell a reasonable story about having seen a ghost may not find many believers, but he will get plenty of listeners, for we are all eager to hear about such things.

      So Nick, who always likes to oblige his friends, does not deny the existence of spirits when he is asked whether he ever saw any. On the contrary, if he has the time to spare, he usually tells the following story:

      A broad-shouldered, square-jawed, bright-eyed young man called on Nick one afternoon, and was ushered into the study.

      His card had gone up ahead of him, and it bore the name—Horace G. Richmond.

      Nick ran his eye over his visitor, and decided that he was a fellow who knew the world and was getting everything out of it that there is in it.

      He met Nick's eye with the air of a man who is going to do something unusual, and wants to announce at the start that he can back it up.

      “I have a case for you, Mr. Carter, if you will take it,” he said.

      “State it,” replied Nick.

      “It's a robbery case, and a mighty queer one. I don't pretend to understand it or any part of it.”

      “Who's been robbed?”

      “My uncle, Colonel Richmond, or, I should say, his daughter, Mrs. Pond. But the robbery affects my uncle perhaps more seriously than his daughter. It is on his account that I am here.”

      “Tell the story.”

      “I'll do it, but first let me say that whatever others may think of the case, I believe it's just simply theft. Mrs. Pond has a lot of jewelry and somebody is stealing it a piece at a time.

      “That's my view, but my uncle's is different. He says that these robberies are not the work of human hands.

      “Now, as for me, I try to keep my feet on the earth all the time. I want you to understand right at the start that I don't believe in any stuff about ghosts and hobgoblins.

      “In my opinion, ghosts that steal diamonds ought to be in the jug, and will probably get there unless they turn over a new leaf.

      “My uncle doesn't see as straight as that. Perhaps you remember that, three or four years ago, he fell into the hands of a couple of sharks who pretended to be mediums.

      “He had always believed in spiritualism, and those crooks caught him just right. They called up the spooks of all the dead people he could think of. They got messages from the spirit land seven nights in the week and two matinees. My uncle simply went wild about it. You remember. It was all in the papers. They worked him beautifully, and if I had not stepped in and exposed them just in time they'd have got every cent he had.”

      “That would have been quite a haul,” said Nick.

      “Well, I should remark! He's worth more than four million dollars. I tell you, those bogus mediums thought they'd struck something very soft.

      “However, I showed them up, and convinced my uncle that they were rank frauds. They're in Sing Sing now.

      “My uncle did not give up his belief in spirits. He said 'these people are frauds, but there are others who honestly and truly hold communication with the departed.'

      “I tell you, we've had a hard time keeping him out of the hands of sharpers since then. But we've succeeded.

      “And now, by bad luck, this queer affair has come up, and all my uncle's faith has returned. He wants to consult mediums, and all that sort of thing.

      “That's the only serious part of it. The jewels that have been stolen aren't worth over a couple of thousand dollars, all told.

      “Of course, it's a nuisance to have such a thing happen in anybody's house, but we wouldn't care much if the mysterious circumstances were not driving my uncle's mind back to his pet delusion.”

      “What are these mysterious circumstances?” asked the detective.

      “Why, it's like this: Colonel Richmond's aunt, Miss Lavina Richmond, was a queer old lady, who was once very rich. At that time she had a passion for collecting jewels. She used to invest her money in diamonds, just as another person might buy houses or railroad stock.

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