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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesChester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 8. A Scene In The Grocery Store
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Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 8. A Scene In The Grocery Store Post by :tuamigo Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1958

Click below to download : Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 8. A Scene In The Grocery Store (Format : PDF)

Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 8. A Scene In The Grocery Store

CHAPTER VIII. A SCENE IN THE GROCERY STORE

"So you've come, have you, you young thief?" said Silas, sternly, as Chester entered the store. "Ain't you ashamed of yourself?"

"No, I'm not," Chester answered, boldly. "I've done nothing to be ashamed of."

"Oh, you hardened young villain. Give me the money right off, or I'll send you to jail."

"I hear from Abel that the store was robbed last night, and I suppose from what you say that you suspect me."

"So I do."

"Then you are mistaken. I spent all last night at home as my mother can testify."

"Then how came your handkerchief here?" demanded Silas, triumphantly, holding up the article.

"It must have been brought here."

"Oho, you admit that, do you? I didn't know but you'd say it came here itself."

"No, I don't think it did."

"I thought you'd own up arter a while."

"I own up to nothing."

"Isn't the handkerchief yours?"

"Yes."

"Then you stay here while Abel goes for the constable. You've got to be punished for such doin's. But I'll give ye one chance. Give me back the money you took--thirty-seven dollars and sixty cents--and I'll forgive ye, and won't have you sent to jail."

"That is a very kind offer, Mr. Tripp, and if I had taken the money I would accept it, and thank you. But I didn't take it."

"Go for the constable, Abel, and mind you hurry. You just stay where you are, Chester Rand. Don't you go for to run away."

Chester smiled. He felt that he had the key to the mystery, but he chose to defer throwing light upon it.

"On the way, Abel," said Chester, "please call at our house and ask my mother to come to the store."

"All right, Chester."

The constable was the first to arrive.

"What's wanted, Silas?" he asked, for in country villages neighbors are very apt to call one another by their Christian names.

"There's been robbery and burglary, Mr. Boody," responded Mr. Tripp. "My store was robbed last night of thirty-seven dollars and sixty cents."

"Sho, Silas, how you talk!"

"It's true, and there stands the thief!"

"I am sitting, Mr. Tripp," said Chester smiling.

"See how he brazens it out! What a hardened young villain he is!"

"Come, Silas, you must be crazy," expostulated the constable, who felt very friendly to Chester. "Chester wouldn't no more steal from you than I would."

"I thought so myself, but when I found his handkerchief, marked with his name, on a flour barrel, I was convinced."

"Is that so, Chester?"

"Yes, the handkerchief is mine."

"It wasn't here last night," proceeded Silas, "and it was here this morning. It stands to reason that it couldn't have walked here itself, and so of course it was brought here."

By this time two other villagers entered the store.

"What do you say to that, Chester?" said the constable, beginning to be shaken in his conviction of Chester's innocence.

"I agree with Mr. Tripp. It must have been brought here."

At this moment, Mrs. Rand and the minister whom she had met on the way, entered the store.

"Glad to see you, widder," said Silas Tripp, grimly. "I hope you ain't a-goin' to stand up for your son in his didoes."

"I shall certainly stand by Chester, Mr. Tripp. What is the trouble?"

"Only that he came into my store in the silent watches of last night," answered Silas, sarcastically, "and made off with thirty-seven dollars and sixty cents."

"It's a falsehood, whoever says it," exclaimed Mrs. Rand, hotly.

"I supposed you'd stand up for him," sneered Silas.

"And for a very good reason. During the silent watches of last night, as you express it, Chester was at home and in bed to my certain knowledge."

"While his handkerchief walked over here and robbed the store," suggested Silas Tripp, with withering sarcasm, as he held up the telltale evidence of Chester's dishonesty.

"Was this handkerchief found in the store?" asked Mrs. Rand, in surprise.

"Yes, ma'am, it was, and I calculate you'll find it hard to get over that evidence."

Mrs. Rand's face lighted up with a sudden conviction.

"I think I can explain it," she said, quietly.

"Oh, you can, can you? Maybe you can tell who took the money."

"I think I can."

All eyes were turned upon her in eager expectation.

"A tramp called at our house last evening," she said, "at about half-past nine, and I gave him a meal, as he professed to be hungry and penniless. It was some minutes after ten when he left the house. He must have picked up Chester's handkerchief, and left it in your store after robbing the money drawer."

"That's all very fine," said Silas, incredulously, "but I don't know as there was any tramp. Nobody saw him but you."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Tripp," said the minister, "but I saw him about half-past ten walking in the direction of your store. I was returning from visiting a sick parishioner when I met a man roughly dressed and of middle height, walking up the street. He was smoking a pipe."

"He lighted it before leaving our house," said Mrs. Rand.

"How did he know about my store?" demanded Silas, incredulously.

"He was asking questions about you while he was eating his supper."

Silas Tripp was forced to confess, though reluctantly, that the case against Chester was falling to the ground. But he did not like to give up.

"I'd like to know where Chester got the money he's been flauntin' round the last week," he said.

"Probably he stole it from your store last night," said the constable, with good-natured sarcasm.

"That ain't answerin' the question."

"I don't propose to answer the question," said Chester, firmly. "Where I got my money is no concern of Mr. Tripp, as long as I don't get it from him."

"Have I got to lose the money?" asked Silas, in a tragical tone. "It's very hard on a poor man."

All present smiled, for Silas was one of the richest men in the village.

"We might take up a contribution for you, Silas," said the constable, jocosely.

"Oh, it's all very well for you to joke about it, considerin' you didn't lose it."

At this moment Abel Wood, who had been sweeping the piazza, entered the store in excitement.

"I say, there's the tramp now," he exclaimed.

"Where? Where?" asked one and another.

"Out in the street. Constable Perkins has got him."

"Call him in," said the minister.

A moment later, Constable Perkins came in, escorting the tramp, who was evidently under the influence of strong potations, and had difficulty in holding himself up.

"Where am I?" hiccoughed Ramsay.

"Where did you find him, Mr. Perkins?" asked Rev. Mr. Morris.

"Just outside of Farmer Dexter's barn. He was lying on the ground, with a jug of whisky at his side."

"It was my jug," said Silas. "He must have taken it from the store. I didn't miss it before. He must have took it away with him."

"There warn't much whisky left in the jug. He must have absorbed most of it."

Now Mr. Tripp's indignation was turned against this new individual.

"Where is my money, you villain?" he demanded, hotly.

"Whaz-zer matter?" hiccoughed Ramsay.

"You came into my store last night and stole some money."

"Is zis zer store? It was jolly fun," and the inebriate laughed.

"Yes, it is. Where is the money you took?"

"Spent it for whisky."

"No, you didn't. You found the whisky here."

Ramsay made no reply.

"He must have the money about him," suggested the minister. "You'd better search his pockets, Mr. Perkins."

The constable thrust his hand into the pocket of his helpless charge, and drew out a roll of bills.

Silas Tripp uttered an exclamation of joy.

"Give it to me," he said. "It's my money."

The bills were counted and all were there.

Not one was missing. Part of the silver could not be found. It had probably slipped from his pocket, for he had no opportunity of spending any.

Mr. Tripp was so pleased to recover his bills that he neglected to complain of the silver coins that were missing. But still he felt incensed against the thief.

"You'll suffer for this," he said, sternly, eying the tramp over his glasses.

"Who says I will?"

"I say so. You'll have to go to jail."

"I'm a 'spectable man," hiccoughed the tramp. "I'm an honest man. I ain't done nothin'."

"Why did you take my handkerchief last night?" asked Chester.

The tramp laughed.

"Good joke, wasn't it? So they'd think it was you."

"It came near being a bad joke for me. Do you think I robbed your store now, Mr. Tripp?"

To this question Silas Tripp did not find it convenient to make an answer. He was one of those men--very numerous they are, too--who dislike to own themselves mistaken.

"It seems to me, Mr. Tripp," said the minister, "that you owe an apology to our young friend here for your false suspicions."

"Anybody'd suspect him when they found his handkerchief," growled Silas.

"But now you know he was not concerned in the robbery you should make reparation."

"I don't know where he got his money," said Silas. "There's suthin' very mysterious about that five-dollar bill."

"I've got another, Mr. Tripp," said Chester, smiling.

"Like as not. Where'd you get it?"

"I don't feel obliged to tell."

"It looks bad, that's all I've got to say," said the storekeeper.

"I think, Mr. Tripp, you need not borrow any trouble on that score," interposed the minister. "I know where Chester's money comes from, and I can assure you that it is honestly earned, more so than that which you receive from the whisky you sell."

Silas Tripp was a little afraid of the minister, who was very plain-spoken, and turned away muttering.

The crowd dispersed, some following Constable Perkins, who took his prisoner to the lockup.

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