“When do you expect to carry out your plan, Mr. John?”
“Two weeks from this time my uncle is obliged to go to Washington for a few days on business. While he is gone we will spring the trap, and when he comes back he will find the boy gone in disgrace. We’ll make short work of him.”
SPRINGING THE TRAP
“I am going to give you a few days’ vacation, Frank,” said Mr. Wharton, a fortnight later. “I am called to Washington on business. However, you have got to feel at home here now.”
“Oh, yes, sir.”
“And Mrs. Bradley will see that you are comfortable.”
“I am sure of that, sir,” said Frank, politely.
When Frank returned at night, Mr. Wharton was already gone. John Wade and the housekeeper seated themselves in the library after dinner, and by their invitation our hero joined them.
“By the way, Frank,” said John Wade, “did I ever show you this Russia leather pocketbook?” producing one from his pocket.
“No, sir, I believe not.”
“I bought it at Vienna, which is noted for its articles of Russia leather.”
“It is very handsome, sir.”
“So I think. By the way, you may like to look at my sleeve-buttons. They are of Venetian mosaic. I got them myself in Venice last year.”
“They are very elegant. You must have enjoyed visiting so many famous cities.”
“Yes; it is very interesting.”
John Wade took up the evening paper, and Frank occupied himself with a book from his patron’s library. After a while John threw down the paper yawning, and said that he had an engagement. Nothing else occurred that evening which merits record.
Two days later Frank returned home in his usual spirits. But at the table he was struck by a singular change in the manner of Mrs. Bradley and John Wade. They spoke to him only on what it was absolutely necessary, and answered his questions in monosyllables.
“Will you step into the library a moment?” said John Wade, as they arose from the table.
Frank followed John into the library, and Mrs. Bradley entered also.
“Frank Fowler,” the enemy began, “do you remember my showing you two evenings since a pocketbook, also some sleeve-buttons of Venetian mosaic, expensively mounted in gold?”
“That pocketbook contained a considerable sum of money,” pursued his questioner.
“I don’t know anything about that.”
“You probably supposed so.”
“Will you tell me what you mean, Mr. Wade?” demanded Frank, impatiently. “I have answered your questions, but I can’t understand why you ask them.”
“Perhaps you may suspect,” said Wade, sarcastically.
“It looks as if you had lost them and suspected me of taking them.”
“So it appears.”
“You are entirely mistaken, Mr. Wade. I am not a thief. I never stole anything in my life.”