Chapter XXXI. In the Metropolis
 

I was thoroughly chagrined when I stood on the platform and saw the train roll away. Now that I had Mr. Harrison and the sergeant of police with me I had fondly hoped to capture the two men, even if it was at the last minute.

But now that chance was gone, and as I turned back to my two companions I felt utterly nonplussed.

One thing was perfectly clear in my mind. The two men had gone to Brooklyn to see Mrs. Agatha Mitts. No doubt they thought that now I had the papers Sammy Simpson had stolen in my possession I would follow up the train of evidence by calling on the woman-- a thing I most likely would have done. They intended to head me off, and by this means break down my case against them at its last stage.

Yet though I was disappointed I was not disheartened. I was fighting for honor and intended to keep on until not a single thing remained to do. My evidence against Woodward and Holtzmann was gradually accumulating, and sooner or later it must bring them to the bar of justice.

"Well, they're gone," I exclaimed, as I joined the others. "That is, if they were on that train."

"We'll ask the gateman and make sure," said the sergeant.

This was done, and we soon learned that beyond a doubt Mr. Woodward and Chris Holtzmann had been among the departed passengers.

"My work in Chicago is at an end," remarked the sergeant, as we stood in the waiting-room discussing the situation.

"And so is mine," I replied. "I've got the papers, and now the two men are gone, there is no use of my remaining."

"What do you intend to do?" asked Mr. Harrison.

"Follow them to Brooklyn."

"To Brooklyn? It's a good distance."

"I can't help it; I must go. As for the distance, it is not many miles from my home."

Mr. Harrison mused for a moment.

"I have an idea of going along with you," he said at length.

"Going along with me!" I repeated, astonished by his offer.

"Yes; I intended to take a trip to New York, on special business next week, but I can go to-day instead. You no doubt need help, and I want to give it to you."

"You are very kind," I replied.

"I would like to see you and your family get your rights," he went on. "I wonder when the next train leaves."

"I'll find out at the ticket office," I replied.

I walked over to the box, and at the window learned that the next train would not start for two hours and a half.

"That will give me time to go home, pack my valise, and arrange my affairs," said Mr. Harrison. "Come, you can go with me, and we can dine together."

"Thank you," was my answer.

"And you, sergeant. I will be pleased to have you, too," continued Mr. Harrison, turning to the officer.

"You're kind, Mr. Harrison, but duty calls me elsewhere. I'll have to return to the station. But you've forgotten one thing."

"What?"

"That you can telegraph to New York and have the two men arrested as soon as they arrive."

"That's so! What do you say, Strong?"

I thought for a moment. It would be the simplest way to do, but would it be the best?

"Don't you think we had better let them go ahead?" I returned. "We know exactly where they are going, and by following them up may gain some additional information."

"I don't know but what you are right," replied Mr. Harrison.

"Then, in that case, my duty here is at an end," said the sergeant.

"I'm very much obliged for the trouble you've taken. Are there any charges to pay?"

"None at all. Good day. Hope you will meet with success in the future."

"Thank you. If we do, I'll write you."

"Now we'll jump into a cab at once," said Mr. Harrison, when we were alone.

A minute later we were whirling along in the direction of his mansion.

"I hope you are not taking too much trouble on my account," I observed.

"I don't consider it too much," he replied. "Even if I had no business of my own to call me to New York I would go along if I thought I would be of service to you. You saved my little girl's life, and that debt, as I have told you before, I can never repay you."

We soon reached Mr. Harrison's mansion. Of course Mrs. Harrison was surprised at her husband's sudden determination, but when the situation was explained to her, she urged him to do his best for me.

The dinner served was the most elegant I had ever eaten, and despite the excited state of mind I was in, I did ample justice to it. Little Millie was present, and during the progress of the meal we became great friends.

But all good things must come to an end, and an hour later, each with his handbag, we entered the cab and were off.

On the way we stopped at Mr. Harrison's office, where that gentleman left directions concerning things to be done during his absence. Evidently he was a thorough business man, and I could not help but wonder what he was worth when I saw him place several hundred dollars in bills in his pocketbook.

Arriving at the depot, we found we had just five minutes to spare. This Mr. Harrison spent in the purchase of a ticket for himself-- I had mine-- and in getting parlor-car seats for both of us.

It was a novelty to me to have such a soft chair to sit in, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As we rode along, my kind friend questioned me closely about myself, and I ended by giving him my entire history.

"You've had rather a hard row to hoe, and no mistake," he said. "It is a dreadful thing to have one's family honor assailed. Many a man has broken down completely under it."

"It is so with my father," I replied. "He used to be as bright as any one, but now he doesn't have much hope of any kind left."

In the evening another surprise awaited me. Instead of remaining in the comfortable chair, Mr. Harrison bade me follow him to the sleeping-car, and I was assigned as soft a bed as I had ever occupied. I slept "like a top," resolved to get the full value of so elegant an accommodation. When I awoke, it was broad daylight.

I climbed down from my bed and made my toilet leisurely. When I had finished, Mr. Harrison appeared, and together we had breakfast, and, five hours later, dinner.

It was six o'clock in the evening when we rolled into the station at Jersey City, and alighted. I was a little stiff from the long ride, but not near as much so as I would have been had I travelled in the ordinary cars.

"We'll cross the ferry at once," said Mr. Harrison. "The sooner we get to New York, the better."

"And the sooner we get to Brooklyn, the better," I added. "Do you think it will be advisable for me to hunt up Mrs. Agatha Mitts to-night?"

"I think it would. Even if you don't call on her, you can find out about her and see how the land lies. We will find a hotel to stop at first."

We were soon in New York and on our way up Broadway. Opposite the post-office we found an elegant hotel, where Mr. Harrison hired a room for himself.

He insisted on my having supper with him. Then leaving our handbags in his room, we started for the Fulton Street ferry to Brooklyn.

It was now growing dark, and the streets were filled with people hurrying homeward. I tried to keep as close to Mr. Harrison as possible, but something in a window attracted my attention, and when I looked around he was gone.

I supposed he had gone on ahead and hurried to catch him. But in this I was mistaken, for in no direction could I catch sight of the gentleman.

Deeply concerned, I stood on the corner of a narrow street or alley, undecided what to do. Should I go on to Brooklyn or retrace my steps to the hotel?

I had about made up my mind to go on, when a disturbance down the alley attracted my attention.

Straining my eyes in the semi-darkness, I discovered several rough-looking young fellows in a group.

"Give it to him, Bandy; hit him over the head!" I heard one of them exclaim.

"Fair share of plunder, Mickey," cried another.

And then I saw a helpless young man in their midst, who was being beaten and no doubt robbed.

I did not give thought to the great risk I ran, but hurried at once to the scene.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

"Help me! help me!" called out the young man, in a beseeching voice.

I stared at him in amazement. And no wonder. The young man was Duncan Woodward.