“And so, you see, I stand to lose twenty thousand dollars.”
“That’s a large sum.”
“Yes, Mr. Carter, it’s a large sum; but a middle-aged gentleman like yourself ought to be aware that risks are sometimes forced upon people who handle money in large sums.”
The celebrated detective smiled as he looked into the excited countenance of the Wall Street man before him.
Half an hour before, if the broker had seen him at all, he would hardly have referred to him as “a middle-aged business man.”
The detective had just returned from an expedition to the upper part of the city, during which he had appeared as a verdant country boy of an inquiring turn of mind.
“Of course,” the detective said, slowly, “people who handle money for the profit of others are expected to keep it in motion—honestly in motion.”
He glanced keenly into his visitor’s face as he emphasized the last three words.
“My case is hardly what you suppose it to be,” said Mr. James Wheeler, broker. “The money I handle belongs to two heirs—both minors. With that, however, you have nothing to do.”
“You’re mistaken,” said Nick Carter, coldly. “If I am to handle your case I must have your fullest confidence.”
“Regarding my present venture, certainly, but I fail to see how past complications can interest you.”
“I have always made it a point,” said the detective, rising to his feet, “not to engage in any case which is not entirely square and above-board. You come here with a statement that you have risked twenty thousand dollars belonging to two innocent children in the next Brooklyn Handicap, an illegal proceeding, and if you have done this for your own personal gain you have taken the first step toward a crime, and in that case I refuse to have anything to do with the matter.”
“Do you remember,” said Wheeler, putting out a hand to restrain the detective, who seemed about to leave the room, “about the recent daylight robbery in Wall Street, which resulted in the loss of twenty thousand dollars in cash?”
“Now you talk like a man of sense,” said the detective, resuming his seat and drawing a note-book from his pocket.
“Three weeks ago yesterday,” he continued, referring to the book, “the office of Mr. James Wheeler, broker, was entered during the noon hour by two men who claimed to be Texans seeking an investment. The broker was absent, and his clerks were careless.
“Result, when the Texans left, the broker was short exactly twenty thousand dollars. Have I stated the case correctly?”
The Wall Street man, sitting with his hands on his knees, stared in the detective’s face with a look of surprise mingled with consternation.