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The Bradys' Chinese Clew; Or, The Secret Dens of Pell Street

Francis Worcester Doughty

  Produced by David Edwards, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at University, SUL Books in the Public Domain)



  OR, The Secret Dens of Pell Street

  BY A New-York Detective.

  AUGUST 19th 1910. No 604. 5 Cents.




  _Issued Weekly--By Subscription $2.50 per year. Entered as Second ClassMatter at the New York, N. Y., Post Office, March 1, 1899. Enteredaccording to Act of Congress, in the year 1910, in the office of theLibrarian of Congress, Washington, D.C., by Frank Tousey, Publisher, 24Union Square, New York._

  Old King Brady and Alice, peering in between thecurtains, saw enough. Harry had got himself into a bad fix. There helay on the floor with three Chinamen bending over him. One held a box,another a long glass vial. What were they about?]



  Late in the evening on August 12th, 19--, one of the heaviest thunderstorms known in many years broke over the city of New York.

  The storm was accompanied by a terrific gale; trees were blown down,sign boards wrecked, houses were unroofed, sewers overflooded, and therewas a general shake-up all along the line.

  Of course, lives were lost here and there, especially on the rivers.

  It taxed the memory even of the oldest inhabitant to recall such anotherstorm.

  During the height of the gale two gentlemen sat in the famous Tuxedorestaurant, that delight of chop suey fiends and slumming parties, onPell street, Chinatown, indulging in a late supper, Chinese style.

  One was an elderly man of striking appearance and peculiar dress.

  He wore a long blue coat with brass buttons, an old-fashioned stock andstand-up collar, while hanging to a peg above his head was a big whitefelt hat with an unusually broad brim.

  His companion was a bright looking young fellow in his twenties.

  The two men were none other than the world-famous detectives, the Bradysof the Brady Detective Bureau, Union Square, New York.

  "Heavens, how it rains, governor," remarked Young King Brady as therewas an extra loud splash against the window near which they sat.

  "An awful storm, indeed," remarked the old detective. "It wouldn'tsurprise me if after all Mr. Butler did not come."

  "He spoke in his letter of being quite feeble."

  "Yes, and yet he gave his age at only sixty-five."

  "Some men wear better than others."

  "Decidedly so. We can only wait and see. I hate to disappoint Alice.There is no telling what difference it may make to her."

  A deafening thunderclap interrupted the conversation.

  Evidently the Bradys had come to Pell street for a purpose.

  The storm continued to rage.

  At twenty minutes past eleven the Bradys, who had held the table farbeyond the limit by tipping their waiter, began to think it time to pullout.

  "He will hardly come now," said the old detective. "Probably we shallhear from him to-morrow, but I am sorry we could not have finished upto-night. Alice is running a great risk, and I don't care to have herremain with that Chinese woman a moment longer than necessary."

  He had scarcely spoken when a very young man, little more than a boy, infact, entered the restaurant.

  In his buttonhole he wore a yellow dahlia.

  It was rather a singular flower for a boutonniere.

  The Bradys noticed it at once.

  "Look!" whispered Harry. "A yellow dahlia, the flower Mr. Butler was towear so that we could identify him."

  "Yes, but a young man--a mere boy. It must be a coincidence," the olddetective replied.

  "I don't know, governor. He has evidently spotted you. He is coming thisway."

  "Can Mr. Butler have sent a substitute?"

  The boy approached the table.

  He was dark and handsome, slightly undersized, and very well dressed.

  "Excuse me," he said in a manly way, addressing the elder detective,"are you Old King Brady?"

  "I am," was the reply.

  "I thought so. My name is Butler--Ed Butler. My father had anappointment with you to-night at half-past ten; Mr. Edward Butler, ofAlbany. He was too sick to come to New York. He gave out at the lastmoment, so he sent me in his place."

  "Sit down," replied Old King Brady. "You are terribly wet, my boy."

  "Yes, it's raining like the dickens."

  "Won't you have something to eat? A cup of coffee. You get good coffeehere."

  The boy sat down with a shudder.

  "I don't want to eat anything in this place," he replied. "I think thatmere knowledge that the food was prepared by a Chinaman would make itchoke me."

  "You don't like the Chinese, evidently," said Harry.

  "Can you wonder? They have stolen my sister. Isn't that enough?"

  "It is sad," observed Old King Brady, "but if white men will permittheir daughters to act as teachers for Chinamen, what can they expect."

  "That's what I say. I was opposed to Ethel having anything to do withthat mission from the first, so was father, but mother encouraged her,and Ethel always would have her way. Now she has run off with a Chink,and I suppose it is the last we shall ever see of her. The minister whomarried them ought to be shot."

  It was the old story.

  Ed Butler's brief speech tells it. We need not enlarge.

  Here was a pretty Albany girl, a mission worker, eloping with one of herChinese pupils, a man years older than herself, and now her deludedmother sought to get her back again.

  The Bradys would hardly have touched the case if it had not been thatMr. Butler occupied a government position at Albany, and they had beenparticularly requested by the chief of the Secret Service Bureau atWashington to take the matter up.

  So far it had been only a matter of correspondence.

  Old King Brady knew some things about the business which young Ed Butlerdid not know, and he was destined to learn still other things from aletter which the boy now delivered.

  "When father found he couldn't come he wrote this, Mr. Brady," he said."My orders were to deliver it to you before we made any talk."

  "Ah!" said the old detective. "We will read the letter."

  He did so.

  It was quite lengthy.

  Harry noticed that the old detective read certain parts of it overtwice.

  Folding it up and putting it in his pocket, at last the old detectiveturned to Ed.

  "Are you much attached to Miss Ethel, my boy?" he asked.

  "Why, sure--she's my sister," he replied quickly.

  "I want the truth," said Old King Brady. "Certain points in yourfather's letter require me to ask the question. Be frank and honest now.You were constantly quarreling, were you not?"

  "Sometimes we quarreled--yes. Ethel was rather hard on me."

  "In other words, if she were not your sister you would not be in theleast attached to her?"

  Ed nodded, looking surprised.

  "Well, I will say then for your benefit that the girl is no relationwhatever to you. Your mother, as you are aware, is your father's secondwife. You have always supposed Ethel to be your half sister, but sheisn't even that. She is the daughter of Mr. Rawson, your mother's firsthusband by a previous marriage."

  "Gee! I'm glad!" blurted the boy. "Now I can
say what I really think.She's just horrid! I shouldn't shed a tear if we never found her, andthat's a fact."

  "So there is one load off your mind," observed the old detective.

  "Yes, but why didn't my father tell me?" demanded Ed.

  "He had sworn to your mother never to tell you. He instructs me to tellyou, so that, in a way, he may not break his word."

  "Poor pop," sighed Ed. "He certainly has a hard time of it. But whatabout Ethel? Is she here in Chinatown, as you supposed?"

  "I believe such to be the case. My partner, Miss Montgomery, who hasbeen working for three days on the matter, is to report to us to-night.Disguised as a Chinese woman, she has been in a certain place where sheexpected to get information, and I have no doubt has done so by thistime. We shall soon see her, and then you will know."

  "Am I to go along?"

  "Yes, by your father's particular request. He says this is the firsttime you have been to New York. He wants you to learn something of thecity and its peculiar ways."

  "All right. I have seen enough of it already to make me think that Inever want to see it again."

  "You decide hastily. If you have come directly from the Grand Centralstation, as I suppose----"

  "That's right."

  "Then you have seen very little of it, and that little under unfavorablecircumstances. Wait for a daylight view of New York before you decide."

  "Where do we go?"

  "To a Chinese house around the corner on Mott street."

  "I don't see how your partner can work in with the Chinks. Of course,she can't speak Chinese?"

  "As it happens she can, and that is just where her advantage comes in.But come, let us go."

  They passed out into Pell street.

  The rain had now almost ceased, and the wind had died away entirely, butthe gutters were running rivers.

  "A tremendous amount of water must have fallen," Harry observed.

  "Indeed yes," replied Old King Brady. "It has been a terrible storm."

  He and Harry walked ahead. Ed walked behind, as there was not roomenough on the narrow sidewalk for them to walk three abreast.

  "There is more to this case than appears on the surface," Old King Bradywhispered to his partner.

  "It seems that this wretched girl has robbed Mr. Butler of threethousand dollars in cash, and also of a bunch of valuable papers. Hedoes not want to get her back. His engaging us with that idea is merelya bluff for the benefit of the wife. He does want the papers, however,and if she will give them up he is willing that she shall keep the cash.I am sorry the man did not come himself. There seems to be some mysteryabout the papers which I fail to understand."

  "He makes no explanation of their contents?"

  "Nothing further than to say that their loss will probably involve himin a large loss of money. I don't just see what he can mean, for, as Iunderstand it, Mr. Butler is merely working on a salary, and not a veryheavy one at that."

  "I should like to see the letter. Perhaps I can make something more outof it."

  "Possibly, possibly, still I doubt it. I will show it to you firstchance I get, and----Good heavens! What was that?"

  They had almost reached the point where Mott street joins with Pell.

  Suddenly a crash had sounded behind them, and with it came a cry in aboyish voice:

  "Help! Mr. Brady! Oh, help!"

  Knowing, of course, that it could be no one else than the boy, EdButler, the Bradys instantly turned.

  The boy had vanished.

  Chinamen were running across the street, others were hurrying forward onthe same side of the way.

  There in the sidewalk was a large, gaping hole.

  Two of the flagstones, undermined by the storm, probably, had sunk downjust as the Bradys stepped off them.

  Ed, less fortunate, had been caught in the break.

  "Bless my soul! This is a great piece of business," cried Old KingBrady.

  Harry peered down into the hole.

  It seemed to be pretty deep and it was also very dark.

  Young King Brady could see nothing of the boy.

  "Hello down there, Ed! Are you hurt?" he called.

  "No; I'm all right. I went down with the stone. I'm not hurt a bit,"came the answer, "but for heaven's sake get me out of here!"

  It was easier said than done. The chattering bunch of Chinks crowdingaround offered no help.

  "I don't see how in thunder we are going to get the boy up without aladder," muttered Old King Brady.

  "And where will we find one?" echoed Harry.

  "That's the point. But here comes a policeman. Perhaps he cansuggest----"

  Thus far in his speech Old King Brady got when there came another callfor help.

  He could not exactly make out the words, but it was certainly, also, acry of fear.

  "Let go! Don't you touch me!" they heard now.

  The cry came from the hole.

  Then all was still below, although above the Chinamen chattered louderthan ever.

  "By Jove! the Chinks are going for the boy," cried Harry. "He hasfallen into one of the secret dens of Pell street, sure!"

  It looked like it.

  The policeman came.

  The Bradys turned electric flash lights into the hole.

  It seemed to be a brick vault of considerable size.

  But there was no one in it so far as they could discover.

  Harry's repeated shouts to Ed brought no response.

  "I must go down there and look for the boy!" cried Harry.

  "Hold on," said the policeman, who was a person they knew; "if theChinks have got him, they may get you, too. You know what Chinatown is."

  "I ought to by this time!" cried Harry. "Lower me down, governor."

  "The officer is right," said Old King Brady. "We better be sure thansorry. If we only had a rope."

  "Look here, some of youse guys, get a rope!" cried the policeman,charging in among the crowd.

  There were enough that understood him.

  Some of them started to act.

  A moment later a man came out of a Chinese grocery near by with a rope.

  It was tied under Harry's arms and he was lowered into the hole.

  The floor of the vault had water an inch deep upon it; the brick sideswere dripping with a slimy ooze.

  But there was no sign of Ed.

  Nor was there any apparent opening except at the top.

  The walls on all sides looked to be solid.

  And Young King Brady saw now that they were up against another Chinesemystery.

  But a mystery had also been revealed.

  For the great storm had laid open one of the secrets of Pell street.

  And who could say into what sort of a queer den this opening might lead?