The Man Without a Conscience





“Bureau of Secret Investigation.”

Nick Carter glanced at the above sign over the door, an unpretentious and somewhat faded reminder of better days, while he descended the flight of stone steps leading into the basement offices of the Boston police department.

The sunlight lay warm and bright in Pemberton Square at ten o’clock that May morning, shedding over the magnificent new court-house a golden glory consistent, no doubt, with the wise dispensation of justice, yet in monstrous anomaly with some of the dreadful experiences and grim episodes sometimes enacted within those splendid sunlit walls.

Nick turned to the right in the main corridor and entered the adjoining office, quite a commodious room, in which the general business of this secret service branch of the local police department was conducted.

The enclosure back of the chief clerk’s high desk,[6] which also was topped with a brass grating, happened to be vacant when Nick entered. In one corner of the room, however, a subordinate clerk was busily engaged in attempting to repair a slight leak in the faucet of the ice-water vessel, and to this young man the famous New York detective addressed himself.

“Has the chief been in this morning?” he asked.

The clerk bobbed up from his work as if startled, drying his hands with his handkerchief, and stared sharply at Nick for several moments. But he saw nothing familiar in the stranger’s grave, clean-cut features.

For all that this clerk knew, or surmised, Nick might have been an ordinary or very humble citizen, who had quietly dropped in there for want of something better to do.

“Chief Weston?” he returned inquiringly, still sharply scrutinizing Nick.

“There is no other chief in this department, is there?” was Nick’s reply, with a subtle tinge of irony.


“Chief Weston, yes,” bowed Nick. “Is he in his office?”

“I believe so.”


“I reckon he is, just now.”

“Reckon, eh? Don’t you know?”

“Yes, sir, he’s busy,” the clerk now said, a bit curtly, flushing slightly under the detective’s keen eye and quietly persistent inquiries.

“He’s not too busy to see me, I think,” replied Nick, with dry assurance. “Go in and tell him I’m here.”

“Who are you?”

“Never mind who I am.”

“I’ll take in your card.”

“No card,” said Nick tersely.

“Your name, then?”

“Nor any name.”


“Merely tell the chief that his friend from New York is here.”

The expression in the eyes of the irritated clerk lost none of its searching interest, yet they now took on a rather different light, as if he had been suddenly hit with an idea. Yet he still frowned slightly and said:

“If you object to having your name mentioned——”

“I do object, young man,” Nick now interrupted, with ominously quiet determination. “Your chief may possibly have persons in his office before whom I do not care to have my name announced. Now, you go to him and deliver my message just as I gave it to you, neither more[8] nor less, or you’ll very suddenly hear something drop—providing you still retain your senses.”

Now the clerk laughed, as if amused by the cool terms of the quiet threat, and then he turned quickly and vanished into a short passageway between the outer room and Chief Weston’s private office.

Nick gazed after him with a rather quizzical stare—a slender chap of about twenty-five, with reddish hair, thin features, a sallow complexion thickly dotted with freckles, and a countenance lighted by a pair of narrow gray eyes, that greenish-gray sometimes seen in the eyes of a cat.

“I wonder what use they have for him around here?” Nick said to himself, while waiting. “If I were chief in this joint, it’s long odds that that red-headed monkey would get his walking-ticket in short order.”

The subject of these uncomplimentary cogitations returned in less than a minute.

“You are to walk right in, sir—this way,” he glibly announced, with much more deference.

At the same time he opened the way for Nick to pass into the enclosure, and through the passage mentioned.

“Thank you,” said Nick, with half a growl.

“Don’t mention it,” grinned the clerk. “Straight ahead, sir. Chief Weston is at his desk.”

Nick heard, meantime, the tramp of men through a corridor adjoining the opposite side of the



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