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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Erie Train Boy - Chapter 14. The Missing Valise
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The Erie Train Boy - Chapter 14. The Missing Valise Post by :Sincerelydan Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2934

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The Erie Train Boy - Chapter 14. The Missing Valise

CHAPTER XIV. THE MISSING VALISE

That he was imprudent in trusting himself on the American side Mr. Grant Palmer was well aware, but he felt that he was in danger of losing the entire proceeds of his skilful burglary, and to this he could not make up his mind. Besides the danger was not very great. Why should any one suppose that an ordinary valise contained stolen property? There was nothing remarkable about the appearance of his hand-bag. Hundreds of them are carried every day. If it were opened by a dishonest person, of course it would be doubtful if he ever got it back, but the clerk at the Clifton had said that this Mr. Lawrence seemed like a high-toned gentleman, who would of course scorn to avail himself of property not his own.

"Risk or no risk!" decided Palmer, "I must go over and reclaim my property."

Leaving him to cross to the American side, we will follow Mr. Lawrence, who, not at all suspecting that the valise he had received from the clerk was not his own, repaired to the International Hotel and engaged one of the best rooms in the house, for he was a man of ample means. He laid his valise on the bed and went down-stairs. Later in the day he went out to take his customary walk.

Meanwhile Fred and his two companions walked about in a leisurely manner, surveying the Falls from different points, and finally went to Goat Island. Here they sat down on a bench and surrendered themselves to the fascinations of the scene.

"Well, what do you think of Niagara, Fred?" asked Frank.

"It is even finer than I had supposed," replied the train boy.

"Some people are disappointed," said Mr. Ferguson, "because they expect too much. The Falls of Montmorency are considerably higher but not nearly as wide. There are some cascades in the Yosemite Valley of over a thousand feet descent, but they are only a few feet wide. For grandeur Niagara excels them all."

"I shouldn't like to be swept over the Falls," said Fred.

"It must be terrible!" said Frank, with a shudder.

"The reality is worse than any picture drawn by the imagination. Ten years since it happened to me to see a poor wretch drawn down to destruction over the cataract."

The boys looked eager for the story, and he proceeded.

"I may state," continued the detective, "that I was indirectly the cause of the tragedy. A defaulting bank cashier had got as far as this point on his way to Canada, which as now was a haven of refuge to gentlemen of his character. I was close upon his track, and he was in imminent danger of capture. There seemed to be only one way of escape--crossing the river above the Falls. By some means he obtained a row-boat, and being a fair rower set out on his dangerous trip, exulting in having outwitted me and made his escape. I remember very well how he stood up in the boat, and with a smile on his face waved me a mock adieu, as he impelled the little craft out toward the middle of the river.

"He was a strong, sturdy rower, but he had no conception of the strength and rapidity of the current. He battled manfully, but the boat immediately began to tend towards the cataract with continually increasing rapidity. At length he came to realize the fate that certainly awaited him. His smile was succeeded by a look of despair. I can see even now the expression of terror and desperation, formed upon the poor fellow's face when he saw that, struggle as he might, there was no help or deliverance, I am sure at that time he would have welcomed me as a friend and savior, and gone with me willingly to prison, if only he could have been rescued from the impending doom. Still, however, he plied the oars with desperate vigor and would not resign himself to his fate. I was painfully excited, and in the poor fellow's peril quite forgot that he was a criminal of whom I was in pursuit. The end came speedily. When six feet from the edge of the cataract, he dropped his oars, threw up his hands, and an instant later boat and man were swept down into the gulf below."

"Was his body ever found?" asked Fred.

"Yes, but it was so mangled as to be almost beyond recognition. Many a time when looking at the Falls I have pictured to myself the unhappy victim of that day's tragedy."

"I suppose," said Frank, "it is impossible to go over the cataract and live."

"Not if all stories are to be believed. There is a boy in the village here who is said to have gone over the Falls, and yet he does not seem to have suffered any injury. The same story is told of a cat, but cats are noted for having nine lives, and therefore the story is not so surprising."

After a little more chat the three left the island and returned to the mainland. They had hardly reached it when a telegraph boy approached Mr. Ferguson and handed him a despatch.

He opened it and read as follows:

ELMIRA, SUNDAY.

My nephew, Edmund Lawrence, is at Niagara. Communicate with him.

PHILO CARVER.

"This is your business," said the detective, handing the telegram to Fred.

"Let us try to find Mr. Lawrence," said Fred, after reading it.

"It will be the best way. Mr. Carver does not mention at what hotel his nephew is staying."

"Probably he does not know."

"Undoubtedly you are right."

"What will you do?"

"There is only one thing to do to call at the principal hotels, and look over the registers. We will go first to the International."

"Very well, sir."

Ferguson scanned Fred with a smile.

"You certainly don't act like one under suspicion," he said.

Fred smiled in return. "I find it hard to realize that I am a suspected burglar," he responded.

"So do I. Let us hope that you will very soon be cleared from suspicion."

The detective and the two boys turned their steps towards the spacious and attractive International.

"It seems a little ahead of the Lynch House," said Fred, "but probably the prices at the latter suit my pocketbook better."

They stepped on the piazza, and went into the office.

Mr. Ferguson opened the hotel register, and among the recent entries found the name of Edmund Lawrence.

"Is Mr. Lawrence in?" he asked the clerk.

"Yes, sir; he came in from a walk five minutes since."

"I will send up my card."

The detective wrote on a blank card:

OSCAR FERGUSON,

DETECTIVE.

Important.

This was handed to a hall boy, who took it up to Mr. Lawrence's room, and returned with a message that the gentleman was to come up at once.

"I think you will have to go with me," said Ferguson to Fred. "It won't do for me to give you a chance to escape."

"That is the last thing I have in mind," said the train-boy; "but I shall be glad to see Mr. Lawrence."

Edmund Lawrence, a pleasant-looking man of middle age, looked somewhat surprised when turning his eyes toward the door, he saw Ferguson enter, followed by two boys.

"You wish to see me on important business?" he said interrogatively.

"Yes, sir."

"And you are a detective?"

"Yes, sir."

"I hope that I have not fallen under any suspicion."

"Not at all. Have you heard that your uncle--Philo Carver, of Elmira--has been the victim of a burglary?"

"No! Tell me about it."

The detective told the story, and Mr. Lawrence listened with great interest.

"Is any one suspected?" he asked.

"A party has been arrested on suspicion," answered the detective.

"Indeed! who is it?"

"This boy!" answered Ferguson, pointing to Fred.

"Impossible!" ejaculated Lawrence, eying Fred with incredulous amazement.

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