“Perhaps I can guess what you did—was it that you locked the door of your little den, Jack?”
“Well, now, you are a champion guesser, for that was just what I did, every day up to this one—shut down the window, locked the door, and never went up there once,” replied his comrade, with surprise written on his face.
“And nothing was missing?”
“Not a coin. I counted six myself this morning when I went upstairs just to get something out of the snuggery.”
“Did you forget to lock it after you, Jack?”
“No; but an idea came to me. At the time I thought it a bright one; but now I’m more than half sorry I ever tried it.”
“Oh! then you left the door unlocked again on purpose?”
“Yes, and with the window open, at that. The invitation was plain enough,” murmured Jack, with dejection in his voice and manner.
Paul seemed to ponder over the matter; and indeed it was quite enough to try any boy’s wits.
“Do you happen to know if any fellow called to see you to-day while you were out?” he asked, presently.
“Now, I thought of that, and asked both my brother and Maggie to pay particular attention to it, if any boy stopped over, hoping I would come in.”
“It’s kind of queer, but do you know, for a wonder not a single fellow has been at our house this blessed day. Generally half a dozen call to see me, you know, to borrow books from my library, or talk over matters connected with our school society. It just looks as if everything wanted to mix me up worse than ever, and make me think—”
“Never mind what it makes you think,” interrupted Paul, quickly, squeezing the arm of his chum affectionately; “let’s get down to facts. You know I promised that I’d find out the truth about this matter; and while up to now I’ve given it mighty little attention, don’t think that I’ve forgotten, Jack.”
“I don’t; only it bothers me to understand how you can ever expect to find out who’s taking my old coins, if I’ve made a mess of it; and living in the house at that!” rejoined the other, with bewilderment plainly visible on his face.
“Leave that to me. I repeat my promise, and if everything else fails why, what’s going to hinder my hiding up there behind some of your stuff, where I can see for myself what happens?”
“Oh!” exclaimed Jack, “that would be a clever idea; but much as I want to know the truth, I’m afraid to!”
“Well, you’ve got to get over that feeling. No matter what happens it’s far better to know the worst; for then it may be remedied. I’ve heard my father tell of many a desperate case where only heroic treatment, as he called it, brought his patient through. We’ve just got to try it here, Jack, old fellow. Hello! what d’ye suppose all that row’s about?”
“Sounds to me like a runaway horse, from the shouts,” declared Jack, quickly forgetting his own personal troubles in the new excitement.