“Better wait till morning, Abel. Who knows but we may hear from Jack before that time?”
“If we’d been going to hear we’d have heard before this,” he said.
Just at that moment the door was flung open.
“Why, it’s Jack!” exclaimed the baker, amazed.
“I should say it was,” returned Jack. “Aunt, have you got anything to eat? I’m ’most famished.”
“Where in the name of wonder have you been, Jack?”
“I’ve been shut up, uncle—boarded and lodged for nothing—by some people who liked my company better than I liked theirs. But I’ve just made my escape, and here I am, well, hearty and hungry.”
Jack’s appetite was soon provided for. He found time between the mouthfuls to describe the secret staircase, and his discovery of the unlawful occupation of the man who acted as his jailer.
The baker listened with eager interest.
“Jack,” said he, “you’ve done a good stroke of business.”
“In getting away?” said Jack.
“No, in ferreting out these counterfeiters. Do you know there is a reward of a thousand dollars offered for their apprehension?”
“You don’t say so!” exclaimed Jack, laying down his knife and fork. “Do you think I can get it?”
“You’d better try. The gang has managed matters so shrewdly that the authorities have been unable to get any clew to their whereabouts. Can you go to the house?”
“Yes; I took particular notice of its location.”
“That’s lucky. Now, if you take my advice, you’ll inform the authorities before they have time to get away.”
“I’ll do it!” said Jack. “Come along, uncle.”
Fifteen minutes later, Jack was imparting his information to the chief of police. It was received with visible interest and excitement.
“I will detail a squad of men to go with you,” said the chief. “Go at once. No time is to be lost.”
In less than an hour from the time Jack left the haunt of the coiners, an authoritative knock was heard at the door.
It was answered by Foley.
The old man turned pale as he set eyes on Jack and the police, and comprehended the object of the visit.
“What do you want, gentlemen?” he asked.
“Is that the man?” asked the sergeant of Jack.
“I know him,” said Foley, with a glance of hatred directed at Jack. “He’s a thief. He’s been in my employ, but he’s run away with fifty dollars belonging to me.”
“I don’t care about stealing the kind of money you deal in,” said Jack, coolly. “It’s all a lie this man tells you.”
“Why do you arrest me?” said Foley. “It’s an outrage. You have no right to enter my house like this.”
“What is your business?” demanded the police sergeant.
“I’m a physician.”
“If you are telling the truth, no harm will be done you. Meanwhile, we must search your house. Where is that secret staircase?”