“We’d better put it up to Scissors,” replied the other, quickly.
“Then you suggest waiting for him as he comes out, and telling him we know all about his fishing for my coins?” asked Jack.
“Come along. He might be satisfied with just one to-day. You see it’s getting harder, with so few left in the box,” and Paul led the way downstairs again.
“But what’s he got on the end of that pole?” demanded his chum.
“I think it must be a lump of rather soft tar, or pitch,” came Paul’s answer, readily enough. “I found a little on one of the coins left the last time we examined them; and you said that the fourth stuck to the side of the box. Yes, that’s what it is. Now, let’s wait over by the front door, for that’s the way he goes in.”
Five minutes later the front door of the empty house opened, and a tall boy, with spindly legs, came slily out. He stopped to turn a key in the lock. Then, as he wheeled, it was to find himself facing two fellows who were probably the very last boys in Stanhope he expected to see.
“Just in time to explain how you came to think of that clever little fishing dodge of yours, Scissors,” remarked Paul; “and to give back all those old coins you’ve been raking in so smartly. Thought it lots of fun, didn’t you? And meant to twist my chum up so he’d think one of his own crowd had been taking them?”
“Yes,” Jack said, in turn, looking as angry as he could; “and if you don’t turn every blessed copper piece over to me right away, there’s going to be trouble at your house, understand that, Scissors?”
The guilty one turned red in the face. Then he laughed as though he wanted to consider it a joke.
“Oh! come off!” he exclaimed, with a gesture of disgust; “can’t you take a little fun, Jack? Of course I meant to give ’em all back again, after I’d had my sport out of the game, and got the last coin. They’re upstairs here, right now. Come along in, and I’ll show you. The slick trick is gone up in smoke now, anyway; since you got on to my curves. But I wouldn’t make such a big fuss over nothing.”
“It wasn’t the coins, because they don’t count for much; but just think how I felt at even suspecting that some fellow who was my friend had been taking them,” said Jack, as he and Paul followed Scissors into the empty house.
And from the sneer on the other’s face as he looked back, Paul was inclined to believe that this was just what he had been doing the thing for. He disliked Jack as much now as he had once cared for him; and would probably enjoy nothing better than to see him turn on some friend, perhaps even his best chum.
The coins were found, as he had said, in a marble-bag in the attic. While Jack was counting them, Paul knelt at the window, and experimented with the long fishing rod he found on the floor. He discovered that he could manage to tilt the little box on the table quite easily, though it needed some labor before he brought one of the coins across the open space, glued to the pitch at the point of the rod.