THE PURSUIT

It is always the unexpected that happens. When Nattie glanced up from
his place of refuge behind the chest of drawers, he saw a young man clad
as a native servant looking down at him. There was the gayly colored
cloth tied around the head; the _kimono_, or outer garment cut away at
the neck, and the plain silk kerchief tied with a bow under the ear.

But the face was not that of a native _waallo_, or houseman; it was Mori
Okuma himself, the very last person on earth Nattie expected to find in
the spare room of the Black mansion.

The young Japanese started back in profound surprise, his eyes widened,
and he nearly called out; but a warning motion from the concealed
lad–who recovered his coolness with marvelous rapidity–checked him.

“It is I; Nattie!” came to his ears. “Take old Black away and return as
soon as possible. I have a clew; we must leave here immediately.”

Regaining his composure with an effort, Mori continued his search among
the other articles of furniture.

“No one here, excellency,” he said, at last.

“Then the scoundrel who cut that screen door has decamped,” replied Mr.
Black, who had remained near the door with commendable precaution. “Go
down to the pantry and help the rest count the silver. By the way, what
is your name?”

“Kai Jin, excellency.”

“Well, Kai, see that you behave yourself and you can remain in my
service. But if you are lazy or thievish, out you go.”

His voice died away in muffled grumbling down the hall. Finally left to
himself, Nattie emerged from his hiding place and executed several
figures of a jig in the middle of the floor.

“Wonders will never cease,” he muttered, with a chuckle of joy. “Fancy
finding Mori here, and just in the nick of time. He’s a great lad. He
disguised himself and took service in the house. He would make a good
detective.”

He was still pondering over the queer discovery when a noise at the door
indicated that some one was on the point of entering. A warning whisper
proclaimed that it was Mori.

The Japanese youth entered quickly and closed the heavy oaken portal
behind him. He was shaking with suppressed laughter. Running over to
Nattie, he grasped his hand and wrung it heartily.

“I ought to scold you for disobeying my orders, but really this is too
funny for anything,” he said. “How under the sun did you get in here?”

“Easy enough; I walked in last night. How did you get in?”

“I am a member of his excellency’s staff of servants. Ha, ha! I almost
laughed in his lean old face this morning when he engaged me. But
explain yourself, Nattie; I am dying to hear your news. You said you had
a clew.”

“Hadn’t we better get out of this house before we talk?”

“Plenty of time. Mr. Black has gone to the office, and the servants are
below stairs. When we are ready we can walk out through the front
entrance without a word to anybody.”

Thus reassured, Nattie told how he had left home the preceding night and
the events that followed. When he came to the part relating to the man
beyond the hedge, the English merchant’s midnight visitor, Mori started
at him in amazement.

“Impossible!” he exclaimed. “Why, he was killed in the accident near
Kobe.”

“Not so. I saw the fellow’s face almost as clearly as I see yours now.
It was Patrick Cronin, and I’ll stake my life on that.”

“Then the scoundrel escaped after all?”

“Yes; to receive his just dues at the hangman’s hands, I suppose. But I
haven’t told you of my clew. I overheard Black and Patrick talking out
in the hall there. It seems that Cronin has a letter which he is to
deliver without delay to Ralph at some rendezvous. That it relates to
Grant is certain. By following the Irishman we can find my brother.”

“It will be easy enough,” replied Mori, his eyes expressing his delight.
“The fellow won’t try to hide his steps, as it were. He considers the
accident a good veil to his existence. Nattie, it was a lucky
inspiration, your coming here last night.”

“Then I am forgiven for disobeying orders, eh?” smiled the lad.

“In this case, yes, but don’t do it again. How is your shoulder?”

“First-chop, barring a little soreness. It will be all right in a day or
two. Come, let’s leave here before we are discovered.”

The exit from the building and grounds was made without mishap. The lads
hastily returned to the Manning residence, where Nattie ordered
breakfast served at once. On entering the garden, the lanky pup used by
him as a decoy to Ralph’s watchdog came bounding from the rear. He had
evidently escaped without feeling the teeth of the larger animal.

The meal was dispatched in haste, then ‘rikishas were taken to the Bund.
While Nattie waited in the firm’s office, Mori utilized the central
police station in tracing Patrick Cronin. In less than an hour word came
that a man answering his description had been seen leaving the city on
horseback by way of the road leading to Tokio.

“That settles it!” exclaimed the Japanese youth. “We must take the train
for the capital at once. That is,” he added, anxiously, “if you think
you are able to travel.”

“I am fit for anything,” promptly replied Nattie. “Come, we must not
lose a moment.”

On their way to the station they stopped at the telegraph office and
wired the chief of police of Tokio a full description of Patrick. After
a consultation, they added:

“Do not arrest the man, but have your best detective shadow him
wherever he may go. All expenses will be met by us.”

“To capture him now would destroy our only clew,” said Nattie. “He might
confess to save himself, and then, again, he might not. If he should
remain silent we would have no means of finding Grant’s whereabouts.”

The nineteen miles to Japan’s populous capital were covered in short
order. Brief as was the time, the lads were met at the depot by an
officer in civilian’s clothes, who reported that their man had been seen
to take a train at Ueno, a small suburb on the outskirts of Tokio.

“We are doing excellently,” chuckled Mori. “The fool thinks he is safe
and he travels openly. At this rate the chase will be as easy as falling
off a log, to use an Americanism.”




“He has five hours’ start. We must telegraph ahead to the conductor of
his train.”

“And to every station.”

“That has been done, sir,” spoke up the police official. “The last word
received stated that he was still on board when the train passed
Motomiya.”

“When can we leave?”

The man consulted a time-table patterned after those used in the United
States, and announced that an express would depart within twenty
minutes. Hurrying to a neighboring hotel, the lads ate “tiffin,” and
returned in time to embark upon the second stage of the chase.

When the train steamed into a way station three hours later a railway
employee in gorgeous uniform approached them with a telegram. Hastily
opening the envelope, Nattie read, with keen disappointment:

“HEADQUARTERS, Tokio.

“Our detective reports that the man he had been following managed
to evade him at Yowara, and has completely disappeared. Local
police are searching the mountains.”