TIP SATISFIES HIS CRAVING—AND LOSES
“Let’s step over and see how it happened, Hugh!”
As Hugh himself was not averse to picking up some information along that same line, the two chums entered the station-house just after the Chief and his man. The latter officer had placed the large package done up in a burlap bag on the floor. He was grinning, as though considerably pleased with the final results of the raid. Chief Wambold, too, was indulging in a smile as the boys entered; he even winked one eye at Thad, as though in a particularly good humor.
But there was one person present who did not seem to be in a happy frame of mind. That was Tip. He looked “in the dumps,” as Thad expressed it; and on seeing the boys enter dropped his chin upon his breast in shame. All the bravado was gone from his demeanor now; he knew that with that evidence against him he was headed for the House of Refuge on a fast train.
The man took him through a door into another room, the Chief’s private office. From this Hugh guessed that Tip was about to be questioned at length, in the hope of his possibly implicating still a third party in the theft.
“So you found his secret cache, did you, Chief?” remarked Thad boldly. “When Owen Dugdale left us he said he was going straight to you, to tell about meeting Tip on the road smoking a cigarette; and he showed us that it bore the same trademark as those stolen from Paul Kramer’s place.”
Thad went into detail so as to let the tall Chief understand they already knew all about the discovery, and had been told, in fact, even before he was.
“Yes, we took a hunt up there in the woods this morning,” explained the other, with a broad smile; “and ran across some tracks that looked like Tip’s. When we followed the trail it led us direct to a big tree that was hollow; and inside the cavity lay that bundle, wrapped in a burlap sack. It was almost too easy. An experienced crook would never have committed such a blunder, and left so plain a trail. Why, it looked as if we were being taken by the hand and led there.”
“But I guess you didn’t carry away the stuff right then, did you, Chief?” Thad went on to say, a wise look on his face.
“Hardly, son, hardly,” replied the other, with a gesture of his hands. “That would have been too silly for anything. What we did was to back away, and cover our own footprints as well as we could. Then we hid to await developments. I left my man up there while I came back to town to conduct my business. Later in the day I once more joined him. I expected the boy might be getting hungry for a smoke about the same time Owen met him on the road. Well, he came, and we pounced down on him just when he had opened the pack, and was lighting a weed with his trembling, tobacco-stained fingers; because, just like Leon Disney, and that slick Nick Lang, Tip is a confirmed cigarette fiend, you know.”