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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesRandy Of The River: The Adventures Of A Young Deckhand - Chapter 29. George Gaffney's Statement
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Randy Of The River: The Adventures Of A Young Deckhand - Chapter 29. George Gaffney's Statement Post by :Dstyles Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1377

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Randy Of The River: The Adventures Of A Young Deckhand - Chapter 29. George Gaffney's Statement

CHAPTER XXIX. GEORGE GAFFNEY'S STATEMENT

"I cannot tell you all Peter Polk has done," said George Gaffney, on beginning his story, "but I can tell you all so far as it concerns his purchase of goods from Bann & Shadow."

"That will be enough," answered Andrew Shalley, and brought out a book and a pencil, to take notes.

"He came to our firm three years ago and began to purchase various goods for the _Helen Shalley_. At first he met all bills promptly and never asked for any rebate or commission. That lasted for about three months."

"He must have been feeling his way."

"He was. At the end of six months he made a claim of a rebate on a bill for a hundred and fifty dollars and we allowed him ten dollars. Then he got ten dollars more on another bill, and after that he claimed a rebate of ten per cent. on everything he bought of us."

"You have all those bills on your books?"

"We have."

"Good. Go on."

"He gradually got bolder and wanted me to aid him in getting a commission elsewhere on regular steamboat supplies. I was willing to make a little extra money and introduced him to the firm of Leeson & Bronette. Leeson is an easy-going man and he promised Polk a big commission on all goods purchased. Polk bought hundreds of dollars' worth of goods from them, and got, I am pretty sure, from fifteen to twenty per cent. on every bill paid."

"Oh, what a rascal!" murmured Randy.

"Then I introduced him to another man, Aaron Denman, and he got goods from that man too and got his commission--how much I do not know. For introducing him to Denman I was promised that commission of twenty dollars. I saw Polk was making money hand over fist, and when he did not pay me I got mad and wrote the letter."

"And you are sure you never got a cent more out of him than thirty-five dollars?"

"Not a cent. Once in a while he treated me to a dinner and twice he sent me a box of cigars, and that is all. To tell the honest truth, I did not press him very hard, for I did not believe in what he was doing. I want to be an honest man, and I was led into this thing almost before I knew it," continued George Gaffney.

After that he went into a great many more details, to which Andrew Shalley and Randy listened with interest.

"I can get the actual figures for you from our books," said the clerk.

"What does your firm say to this?" asked the steamboat owner.

"Oh, they wanted the business, so they simply shut their eyes and didn't say anything."

"But that was dishonest."

"True--but such things are done every day," and the clerk shrugged his shoulders.

"If Peter Polk has been getting ten to fifteen per cent. on all goods he has been buying for me he has robbed me of thousands of dollars," said Andrew Shalley.

"It will be a hard matter to prove some of the transactions, Mr. Shalley. I guess he knew how to cover up his footprints pretty well."

"Well, if I can only prove some of them it will be enough for my purpose," answered the steamboat owner.

Before he left that night he drew up a long document containing the main facts of the case, and had George Gaffney sign it and had Randy put his name down as a witness.

"What do you want me to do, Mr. Shalley?" asked our hero, after they had left the clerk's house.

"You can go back to the steamboat. I am going to hire a first-class private detective to investigate this matter thoroughly. When I expose Polk I want all the evidence on hand with which to convict him."

"He will want to know what I did."

"That is true." Andrew Shalley mused for a moment. "Randy, you mind your own business," he said suddenly and sharply. Then he began to chuckle. "Now you can go back and tell Polk that I told you to mind your own business."

"I will, sir," and our hero grinned broadly.

"I will also give you a line to Captain Hadley," pursued the steamboat owner. "That will help to keep you out of further trouble."

The letter was penned, and a few minutes later our hero was on his way back to the boat. Andrew Shalley went in another direction, to hunt up a detective to work on the case.

It must be confessed that Randy felt much lighter in heart. He now knew exactly what kind of a rascal Peter Polk was, and felt that the purser could no longer drag him into trouble.

"He will soon come to the end of his rope, and that will be the last of him," said our hero to himself.

When he arrived at the boat it was very late and everybody but the watchman had gone to bed. He turned in without awakening any of the others and slept soundly until morning.

Much to his surprise Peter Polk did not come near him that morning, and our hero was kept so busy at one thing and another that he had little time to think about the purser and his nefarious doings. As soon as he got the chance he delivered the letter Mr. Shalley had given him to Captain Hadley.

The captain read the communication in silence. Then he uttered a low whistle and looked at Randy thoughtfully.

"I've been suspecting this," he said. "Randy, I believe you are to keep mum for the present."

"Yes, sir."

"I doubt if he troubles you any more."

"I'll be glad of it."

"Well, get to work, and some time we'll see what we will see," answered the captain; and there the talk was dropped.

It was a windy and cloudy day, and a majority of the passengers were glad enough to remain in the cabin during the trip up the river. About noon it began to thunder and the sky grew very black.

"We are up against a storm now," said Jones to Randy. "We'll have to take in some of the bunting."

The order was issued, and Randy set to work, with the other deckhands, to strip the decks. Soon it was raining furiously and all of the deckhands got pretty wet. All of the passengers had gone inside, so the decks were practically deserted.

Randy was folding up some bunting when he heard a quick step behind him. Turning, he saw himself confronted by Peter Polk. The purser's face was dark and full of hatred.

"Now, Thompson, I want to know what you did last night," snarled the man.

"I went ashore," answered our hero, as coolly as he could.

"To see Mr. Shalley?"

"Yes, if you must know."

"And you gave him that letter?"

"I did."

"What did he say?"

"He told me to mind my own business."

"What!" For the instant Peter Polk's face took on a pleased look. "So he really told you that?"

"Yes."

"Humph! I reckon you didn't expect such a reception."

To this remark our hero made no reply.

"Is the old man going to investigate?" went on Peter Polk.

"You had better go and ask him."

"You answer my question, Thompson!"

"I have nothing more to say."

At this the purser grew furious. There were many occasions when his temper got the better of him and this was one of them. He suddenly grabbed Randy by the throat, bending him backward over the rail.

"You little cur!" he hissed. "You are trying to get the best of me! But you shan't do it!"

"Le--let go!" gasped Randy. He could hardly speak.

"I'll let go--when I am through with you. But first I----"

What further Peter Polk had to say was drowned out by a violent crash of thunder. Then came a perfect deluge of rain, driven over the decks by a wind that blew almost with hurricane force.

Randy struggled harder than ever, but the purser continued to hold him. Then the steamboat, caught by the blast, careened to one side, and in a twinkling the youth was over the rail. Peter Polk released his hold, and down went poor Randy, until, with a splash, he sank beneath the waters of the Hudson River.

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