“There’s old Doc. Thomes, who keeps stamps and curios for sale. I’ve seen some coins in his window often. He would know the value of these, and perhaps be willing to pay something for them. Oh! it’s just awful even to suspect my brother of being guilty of such a mean thing. I hate myself for allowing it, and have made up my mind just to hide the rest away, and never say a word.”
“No, I wouldn’t do that, Paul. In the first place it isn’t fair to Karl.”
“Fair? What can you mean? I wouldn’t ever say a word to him, never!”
“That’s just it, but you would think it always; and if he is innocent, why you see what a shame that would be. No, you ought to learn the truth, even though determined to keep your mouth shut afterward. In justice to Karl, you must know!”
“I believe you are right, old fellow. And I’m going to be guided by what you say. Come in with me, won’t you?” pleaded Jack.
“Yes,” answered Paul, promptly. “On condition that you take me up to your den, where we can talk without being disturbed.”
“You have an object in saying that. I believe you want to see for yourself if any more of my coins have disappeared?” declared the other.
“I acknowledge the corn, for that is just what I wanted to learn, Jack.”
“I suppose the sooner I take the bull by the horns, the quicker we can learn the truth; so come on in,” and taking his chum by the arm Jack led the way boldly up to the door of the Stormways’ house.
They managed to pass upstairs to the third floor without attracting any attention, the family being gathered around a table in the living room, reading.
No sooner had the lamp been lighted, after the door was closed, than Paul stepped over to the table desk which he knew so well.
Just as Jack had said, there was a little cedar box standing in plain view, and the coins it held attracted his eye.
Slowly and deliberately he proceeded to count them, while his chum awaited the result with abated breath, and his eyes turned in another direction.
“Well?” said Jack, hoarsely, when he saw that the other had dropped all of the coins back, one by one.
“You said there were fourteen left this morning, didn’t you, Jack?”
“Yes, and now?”
“I find just eight here, that’s all!” came the answer that caused the wretched brother of young Karl Stormways to shiver and sigh dismally.
THE DISAPPEARING COINS
“Just thirteen gone now,” said Jack, as he bent over to look for himself.
“Of course you know what they were, those that are missing?” suggested Paul.
“I have a list of the bunch somewhere; made it out one day just for fun. Yes, I think I could tell them again; but I never would have the heart to accuse old Doc. Thomes of buying stolen coins; and the thief—never!”