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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Telegraph Boy - Chapter 20. A New Job, And A Letter From Home
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The Telegraph Boy - Chapter 20. A New Job, And A Letter From Home Post by :gwynaedd Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2264

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The Telegraph Boy - Chapter 20. A New Job, And A Letter From Home


One morning an elderly gentleman entered the office in which Frank was employed, and sought an interview with the superintendent.

"I want a smart boy for detective work," he said. "Have you one you can recommend?"

The superintendent cast his eyes over the line of boys, and called Frank. Our hero's recognition of the disguised counterfeiter by his ring had given him a reputation for shrewdness.

"I think this boy will suit you," he said. "Do you wish him to go with you now?"

"Yes; I may want him a week."

"Very well."

Frank accompanied the gentleman into the street.

"Have you no other clothes except this uniform?" asked Mr. Hartley.

"Yes, sir."

"Then go and put them on. Then report to me at No. -- Broadway."

"All right, sir."

"It is fortunate I have a good suit," thought Frank.

He was not long in exchanging his uniform for the neat suit given him by Mr. Bowen. Thus attired, he presented himself in Mr. Hartley's counting-room. The merchant surveyed him with approval.


"You will enter my service as errand-boy," he said. "You will be sent to the post-office, the bank, and on similar errands, in order not to excite suspicion of the real object of your presence. Keep your eyes open, and I will take an opportunity of explaining to you later what I wish you to do."

Frank bowed.

"Mr. Haynes," said the merchant, calling a thin, sallow young man, "I have engaged this boy as an errand-boy. Has any one been to the post-office this morning?"

"No, sir."

"Then he will go."

Haynes regarded Frank with disfavor.

"I have a nephew who would have liked the position," he said.

"Too late now," said the merchant, curtly.

"What is your name, boy?" asked Haynes, coldly..

"Frank Kavanagh."

"How did Mr. Hartley happen to engage you?" asked the subordinate.

"A gentleman recommended me," Frank answered.

"I had already mentioned my nephew to him. I am surprised he said nothing to me about engaging a boy."

Frank said nothing, feeling no particular interest in the matter. As he was only filling temporarily the position of errand boy, it made little difference to him whether he was acceptable to Mr. Haynes or not.

In the course of the day Mr. Hartley handed Frank a card, containing the street and number of his residence, with a pencilled invitation to call that evening.

Of course Frank did so.

Seated alone with the merchant in his back parlor, the latter said, "I have invited you here because I could not speak with you freely at the store. How do you like Mr. Haynes?"

Frank was surprised at the abruptness of the question.

"I don't like him," he answered, candidly.

"Why not?"

"There is no good reason that I know of," said Frank; "but I think his manner is disagreeable."

"Our instincts are often to be trusted," said the merchant, thoughtfully. "I confess that I myself don't like Haynes, nor do I feel implicit confidence in him, though he has been eight years in the service of our house. He is outwardly very circumspect, and apparently very faithful, but there is something in his eye which I don't like."

Frank had noticed this, but Mr. Hartley's remark called fresh attention to its furtive, crafty expression.

Frank's curiosity was aroused, naturally enough. He wondered what Mr. Haynes had to do with his mission. He did not have long to wait for information.

"I will come to the point," said Mr. Hartley, after a pause. "I am an importing merchant, and deal, among other articles, in silks. During the last year I have discovered that some one is systematically robbing me, and that parts of my stock have been spirited away. The loss I have sustained is already considerable, and unless the leakage is put a stop to, I may as well give up business. You can now guess why I have engaged you. No one will suspect an errand boy of being a detective, while a man would very probably excite distrust, and put the rogue on his guard."

Frank listened attentively to his employer.

"Do you suspect any one in particular, Mr. Hartley?" he asked.

"It must be some one in my employ," he said. "The man who, more than any other, has facilities for robbing me is the man of whom I have spoken to you."

"Mr. Haynes?"

"Yes, Mr. Haynes. He holds an important position, and enjoys special privileges. On the other hand, so far as I can learn, he lives in a sober, inexpensive way, quite within his salary, which is liberal. He is prominently connected with an up-town church, and it seems very improbable that he would be guilty of robbery, or breach of trust; yet there have been such cases before. At any rate, I cannot wholly divest myself of suspicion."

"What do you wish me to do?" asked Frank.

"To watch Mr. Haynes carefully, both in and out of the store, to ascertain whether he has any unexplained expenses, or any questionable companions. I want to know how he spends his time out of the office. It may be that the result of my investigation will be to his credit. It may be that he is all that he seems,--a reputable member of the church and of society, with nothing against him but an unpleasant manner. Should this be the case, I shall be glad to correct my suspicions, and give him back my confidence. In that case, we must look elsewhere for the rogue who is robbing me."

"Have you any particular instructions to give me?" asked Frank.

"No, only to follow Haynes, and find out all you can about him. Use great care in doing it, not to arouse his or any one else's suspicion. I will find an opportunity for you to make your reports."

"Very well, sir."

* * * * *

When Frank got home, he found a letter awaiting him from his country home. It was in answer to one which he had written to his uncle, Deacon Pelatiah Kavanagh, in reference to a trunk which had belonged to his father.

This is the letter:--

MY DEAR NEPHEW,--I am glad to learn that you are making a living in the city. It is much better that you should earn your own living than to be a burden upon me, though of course I would not see you suffer. But a man's duty is to his own household, and my income from the farm is very small, and Hannah and I agreed that we had little to spare for others.

There is an old trunk, belonging to your deceased father, in the attic. It contains some old clothes, which may be made over for you, and so save you expense. I would use them myself, and allow you for them, but your father was a much smaller man than I, and his clothes would not fit me. I will send the trunk by express to the address which you gave me. Of course I shall expect you to pay the express, as I have no interest in it, or its contents.

Your cousin Jonathan has left school, and is working on the farm. I feel _so glad that he has no extravagant tastes, but inherits the careful and economical habits of his mother and myself. I am sure he will never waste or squander the little property which I hope to leave him.

"I don't believe he will," thought Frank, "for he is about as mean as his mother, and that is saying a good deal."

Your aunt and I hope that you will steer clear of the temptations of the city. Do not seek after vain amusements, but live a sober life, never spending a cent unnecessarily, and you will in time become a prosperous man. I would invite you to come and stop with us over Sunday, but for the railroad fare, which is high. It will be better to save your money, and put off the visit till you can afford it.

Your uncle,

Reading this letter, it would hardly be supposed that the writer owned ten thousand dollars in stocks, bonds, and mortgages, over and above an excellent farm. Such, however, was the worldly position of the man who sent Frank to the city in quest of a living, because he could not afford to provide for him. With some men prudence is a virtue; with Deacon Pelatiah Kavanagh it was carried so far as to be a positive defect.

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