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During the next half-hour Nick Smithers and the young lady became very confidential. She stated that she had just fifty dollars with her, but did not show the money.
"My uncle is a strange man in some things," she said. "He keeps not less than ten thousand dollars of my money in the house, and all in dollar bills!"
"He certainly must be strange," said Nick Smithers. "Well, it will be an easy matter for him to turn over the bills to you."
"Yes, Lancelot; but you will have to take care of the money for me."
"I'll certainly do that," was the swindler's quick reply, and then he smiled to himself, over the glorious prospect ahead.
There was a dining-car attached to the train, and not long after the conversation recorded above, the swindler asked his bride-to-be if she would not take lunch with him.
"Why, yes," she answered. "I am very hungry, for I have not eaten anything since yesterday."
"Then come at once," was the answer, and Nick Smithers led the way into the dining car. He passed Nat, who was busy devouring a sandwich and a piece of pie, but strange to say neither saw the other.
Nick Smithers and the young lady had just ordered an elaborate lunch, when of a sudden the damsel gave a cry.
"What is the trouble?" questioned the swindler.
"Do you see that man?" And the young lady pointed to a small individual who had just entered the dining car.
"Yes. What of him?"
"He is my—my uncle!"
"Is it possible? Then he must be following you."
"Well, I shall protect you, so do not fear," whispered Nick Smithers. "Remember, we are to be married to-day. He shall not stop you. He can't do it, for you are twenty-one."
"Oh, Lancelot, I—I am so afraid!"
By this time the small man had reached the table at which the couple were seated. He stared in amazement.
"Hullo, Miss Jacobotson, what are you doing here?" he cried.
"Don't touch me!" screamed the young lady, wildly. "Don't touch me."
"This young lady is under my protection," came loftily from Nick Smithers.
"Really?" said the small man. "Since when?"
"Never mind since when. She is under my protection, and I do not want you to molest her."
"Say, do you know who she is?" asked the little man, curiously.
"Well, she has got to go back to the asylum, and that is all there is to it."
"Asylum?" gasped Nick Smithers.
"That is what I said."
"I'll not go back!" screamed the young lady. "Lancelot, protect me!" and she clutched the swindler around the neck.
"Do you mean to tell me she belongs in an asylum?" came faintly from Nick Smithers.
"She does. She escaped from the lunatic asylum at Sarville yesterday."
"Wha—what is her name?"
"Mary Jacobotson. Her mind was turned years ago by reading romantic novels, and she imagines she has an uncle who is keeping her money away from her."
"Is she under the charge of an uncle?"
"No. Her father had her placed in the asylum, for he couldn't keep her at home. Her father is a well-to-do builder of Hartford."
All this time the young lady, who was indeed insane, was clinging tightly to Nick Smithers' neck.
"Don't leave me!" she implored. "I love you! Don't leave me, and you shall have a million dollars and a rubber doll! Don't leave me, Augustus! I implore thee, by the light of yonder stars!" And now she began to rave.
"I—I reckon I made a mistake," said the swindler, much crestfallen. "Let go of me!" And now he pushed the raving girl from him. The train had stopped at a station, and in another moment the asylum keeper had the patient on the platform, where she continued to rave. Then the train moved on.
Sinking back in his seat at the dining-car table, the swindler mopped the beads of perspiration from his forehead with his handkerchief. He was utterly disgusted.
"That is where I certainly put my foot in it," he muttered. "But I can be thankful I didn't marry the girl!"
"Sorry, sar, but you'll have to settle for this lunch," said the waiter.
"If so, I reckon I'll eat it," answered Nick Smithers, and proceeded to do so.
Nat had watched the whole scene with interest. At first he was inclined to confront the swindler without delay, but then reconsidered the matter.
"I must go slow," he mused. "If I'm not careful he'll get away again."
When Nick Smithers left the dining car Nat followed him to the smoker and saw the swindler settle down for a comfortable smoke.
"He isn't going to leave the train just yet," thought our hero. "I shouldn't be surprised if he is bound for Albany. If that's so, I had better wait until we arrive there. Then we'll be in New York State, where the offense was committed."
The train rattled on, and at the proper time rolled into the big station at Albany. Nat kept close behind Nick Smithers and at the same time looked around anxiously to see if he could find a policeman.
It was not long before our hero sighted an officer of the law, gazing curiously at the crowd leaving the train. At once he beckoned the policeman to come to him.
"What's wanted?" asked the officer, anxiously.
"Do you see that man?"
"He is a swindler, who is wanted in New York City for swindling several men and myself. I want him arrested. Be careful how you handle him, for he ran away from me in Springfield."
"You are sure of this?"
"I am positive. But be careful, or he will get away."
"He won't get away from me," said the policeman.
Nick Smithers was hurrying for the street when Nat and the officer of the law came up to him.
"Stop, Nick Smithers!" cried our hero, and caught him by the arm.
The swindler swung around, stared at Nat, and his face fell.
"This is the time you don't get away so easily," went on Nat. "Officer, do your duty."
"You'll have to consider yourself under arrest," said the policeman. "This young man makes a charge against you."
"Why, that young man is a lunatic!" cried Nick Smithers, thinking of his experience on the train. "They let him out of the asylum only day before yesterday."
"Don't you believe a word of it," said Nat. "This rascal is one of the slickest swindlers in the world. Take him to headquarters, and I'll go along and prove every word I say."
"You'll have to come along," said the officer.
"All right, I'll go," answered Nick Smithers, but an instant later he started to run away through the crowd. Nat, however, was on guard, and putting out a foot, he sent the rascal pitching headlong on the depot platform.
"Hi! what did you do that for?" demanded Nick Smithers, on arising. And he glared at our hero as if to eat him up.
"You'll come along with me!" came angrily from the policeman, and without more ceremony he marched the swindler to the police station, with our hero following.
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