“Too bad he saw me, but it can’t be helped,” thought Dan Baxter, and made his way downstairs with all possible speed. Once in the lower hall he lost no time in gaining the street. In another moment he was swallowed up in the darkness of the night.
A DISCOVERY AND WHAT FOLLOWED
“Hullo, what does this mean? Here is a key in the door.”
It was Dick Rover who spoke. He stood in the hallway of the hotel, and beside him were Tom and Sam. They had eaten rather heartily at the restaurant and taken more time than they had anticipated.
“I didn’t leave the key there,” came from Tom. “Here it is,” and he brought it out of his pocket. “I meant to leave it at the desk, but it slipped my mind.”
Dick found the door open and walked into the room, followed by his brothers. Baxter had extinguished the gas and they stood in the dark until Sam found a match and lit up. Then a cry went up from all three:
“We have been robbed!”
“This is some sneak thief’s work,” came from Dick. “Run down and tell the hotel clerk at once.”
Tom bolted from the room and went down the stairs three steps at a time. The clerk sat dozing in his chair and was roused up with difficulty. But as soon as he realized that something was wrong he was wide-awake.
“A robbery, eh?” he queried. “What have you lost?”
“We’ve got to find that out,” answered Tom.
In less than a quarter of an hour they knew the extent of their loss—three diamonds and a pair of cuff buttons, in all worth over two hundred dollars, and two hundred and seventy-five dollars in cash—not to mention a ruined valise and one missing, and the loss of a light overcoat, some silk handkerchiefs and some underwear.
“A total loss of over five hundred dollars,” said Tom.
At this the hotel clerk gave a long whistle. “As much as that?”
“Yes,” said Dick.
“We must get on the track of the thief, and without delay.”
“I reckon I know the thief,” said Sam.
“You think it was Dan Baxter?” questioned his elder brother.
“Perhaps you are right. But there is no proof that he did it.”
The hotel clerk found the windows closed and locked.
“The thief came in and went out by the door,” he said. “The hall boys or somebody else must have seen him. This key is stuck in the lock, which proves that it is not a regular hotel key.”
Without delay the story of the robbery was telephoned to the nearest police station, and soon two detectives appeared. By this time some of the servants noticed that something was wrong, and the waiter who had seen Dan Baxter come in and go out told his story, to which the boys, the hotel clerk, and the detectives listened with interest.
“Tell us just how that fellow looked,” said Dick, and the waiter gave a very good description of the person he had seen.