“There he goes! Catch him!” cried Storg, as he clattered down the stairs after the fugitive.
LARRY’S SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT
“Hold on! Stop!” yelled Higgins, running from the room. “Halt, or I’ll shoot!”
It would have done little good had he done so, for by this time the mysterious man was in the second hallway, and out of reach of any possible bullets.
“You stay here and look after things, I’ll catch him!” called Storg, as he raced down the stairs, his light making erratic circles as he advanced.
“I guess that’s good advice,” commented Higgins to Larry, who had remained in the upper corridor. “I’m too fat to run. Let’s see what he left behind.”
Back into the room, where the candle was burning, went Larry and the policeman. A quick survey showed nothing unusual. There were some old chairs and a table, left probably by the departed tenants.
“He must have had the run of several rooms,” Higgins went on. “He came out of some apartment farther down the hall, and that’s how he fooled us. He was on the watch, and that shows there must be something queer about him.”
“Let’s take a look through the other rooms,” suggested Larry.
Showing his light Higgins led the way. They went through several other bare and deserted chambers, but saw no indications that the stranger had been in them. Presently they came to what had been a bathroom, though most of the plumbing had been torn out by thieves, for the value of the lead pipes and the faucets.
“He’s been here!” cried Larry, as he pointed to a faint spark in one corner of the room.
The policeman flashed his electric on it. It proved to be a candle that had burned down into the socket, the remainder of a wick smouldering and glowing.
“Yes, and he shaved himself here,” the officer added, as he pointed to a razor, some soap, and pieces of paper on which were unmistakable evidences that the mysterious man had been acting as his own barber. “I’d like to catch him,” the bluecoat went on. “I’m sure there’s something crooked about him.”
“It looks so,” agreed Larry. “Maybe Storg will get him.”
“I hope so,” and Higgins began to make a more thorough search of the apartment.
There was nothing, however, which shed any further light on the mysterious man. It was evident, though, that he had lived in the deserted house for several days, since there were remnants of food scattered here and there.
“The mystery is getting deeper and deeper,” thought Larry. He said nothing to the policeman about the man being a person who had come ashore from the Olivia. “I’m going to ask Mr. Emberg to let me work on this case,” he resolved, while he followed Higgins from room to room. “I believe it will be a great story if I can get all the details.”
How much of a story it was destined to be Larry had no idea of at that moment, though his newspaper instinct, that led him to suspect there was a strange mystery connected with Mah Retto, was perfectly correct, as he learned later.