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- Helping Himself - 20/41 -

well-known house in Wall Street.

"So far, so good!" said the broker. "It appears that besides the bonds sold you had four one-hundred-dollar bonds?"

"Yes, sir."

"You had not parted with them?"

"No, sir."

"They will some time be put on the market, and then we shall have a clew to the mystery."

"That boy has probably got them," said the housekeeper, nodding her head emphatically.

"You are at liberty to search my chamber, Mrs. Estabrook," said Grant, quietly.

"He may have passed them over to that man Morrison," suggested the housekeeper.

"I hardly think that likely," said Willis Ford, who saw danger to himself in any persecution of Jim Morrison.

Mr. Reynolds noticed his defense of Morrison, and glanced at him thoughtfully.

"Mrs. Estabrook," he said, "I am satisfied that you possessed the bonds which you claim, and I will relieve your mind by saying that I will guarantee you against loss by their disappearance. You need have no further anxiety on the subject. I will undertake to investigate the matter, which at present appears to be involved in mystery. Whether or not I succeed in solving it will not matter to you, since you are saved from loss."

"Thank you, sir," said the housekeeper, feeling considerably relieved; "it wasn't much, but it was my all. I depended upon it to use when old age prevented me from earning my living."

"I am glad you are so wise in providing for the future."

"You won't let that boy escape?" the housekeeper could not help adding.

"If you refer to Grant Thornton, I think I may say for him that he has no intention of leaving us."

"Is he to stay in the house?"

"Of course; and I expect him to aid me in coming to the truth. Let me request, Mrs. Estabrook, that you discontinue referring to him in offensive terms, or I may withdraw my offer guaranteeing you from loss. Grant, if you will accompany me, I have some questions to put to you."

Grant and his employer left the room together.

"He won't let the boy be punished, though he must know he's guilty," said Mrs. Estabrook, spitefully.

"He makes a fool of himself about that boy," said Willis Ford, disconcerted.

"He's an artful young vagabond," said the housekeeper. "I know he took the bonds."

"Of course he did," Ford assented, though he had the best of reasons for knowing that Grant was innocent.

"At any rate," he continued, "you are all right, mother, since Mr. Reynolds agrees to make up the value of the bonds to you. When you get your money, just consult me about investing it. Don't put it into bonds, for they may be stolen."

"Perhaps I'd better put it into the savings bank," said his stepmother.

"You'll get very small interest there; I can invest it so you can make quite as much. However, there will be time enough to speak of that when you've got the money. Now, mother, I shall have to bid you good-evening."

"Can't you stay longer, Willis? I feel so upset that I don't like to be left alone. I don't know what that boy may do."

"I think you are safe," said Willis Ford, secretly amused. But, as he left the house, he felt seriously disquieted. There was danger that Jim Morrison, when he found the money which he was to receive withheld, would be incensed and denounce Ford, who had received back his evidence of indebtedness. Should he divulge that the bonds had been given him by Ford, Grant would be cleared, and he would be convicted of theft.

As Ford was leaving the house a telegraph boy was just ascending the steps. It was John Cava-nagh, already referred to.

As his eyes rested on Ford, he said to himself: "Where have I seen that feller? I know his face."

Then it flashed upon the boy that he had seen Ford at the Grand Central Hotel, in the act of giving bonds to Jim Morrison.

"It's queer I should meet him here," said the telegraph boy to himself. "I wonder what game he's up to."

Johnny was introduced into the presence of Mr. Reynolds, for whom he had a message. On his way out he met Grant in the hall. The two boys were acquainted, Grant having at one time advanced Johnny two dollars toward paying his mother's rent.

"Do you live here?" asked the telegraph boy.

"Yes," answered Grant.

"I met a feller goin' out that I've seen before. Who was it?"

"Willis Ford, a clerk of Mr. Reynolds."

"I seed him in the Grand Central Hotel yesterday givin' some bonds to a suspicious-lookin' chap."

"You did," exclaimed Grant. "Come right up and tell that to Mr. Reynolds," and he seized the astonished telegraph boy by the arm.



Mr. Reynolds looked rather surprised when Grant appeared, drawing the telegraph boy after him.

"This boy has got something to tell you about Mr. Ford," said Grant, breathless with excitement.

"About Mr. Ford?" repeated the broker. "What do you know about Willis Ford?"

"I don't know his name," replied Johnny. "It's the chap that just went out of the house."

"It was Mr. Ford," explained Grant.

"Tell me what you know about him," said the broker, encouragingly.

"I seed him in the Grand Central Hotel, givin' some bond to a flashy-lookin' man. There was a boy wid him, a big boy."

"With whom--Mr. Ford?"

"No, wid the other chap."

"I know who he means, sir," said Grant. "It was Tom Calder."

"And the man?"

"Was Jim Morrison, the same man that gave me the bonds to sell."

"That seems important," said Mr. Reynolds. "I did not believe Ford capable of such rascality."

"He had as good a chance to take the bonds as I, sir. He was here last evening."

"Was he?" asked the broker, quickly. "I did not know that."

"He was here for an hour at least. I saw him come in and go out."

Mr. Reynolds asked several more questions of the telegraph boy, and enjoined him to silence.

"My boy," he said, "come here to-rnorrow evening at half-past seven. I may want you."

"I will, sir, if I can get away. I shall be on duty."

"Say to the telegraph company that I have an errand for you. Your time will be paid for."

"That will make it all right, sir."

"And, meanwhile, here is a dollar for your own use."

Johnny's eyes sparkled, for with his limited earnings this sum would come in very handy. He turned away, nearly forgetting the original errand that brought him to the house, but luckily it occurred in time. The nature of it has nothing to do with this story.

When Johnny had gone, Mr. Reynolds said: "Grant, I need not caution you not to breathe a word of this. I begin to think that there is a

Helping Himself - 20/41

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