The next day, about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, he was surprised at seeing Mrs. Bradley enter the store and thread her way to that part of the counter where her nephew was stationed. She darted one quick look at him, but gave him no sign of recognition. His heart sank within him, for he had a presentiment that her visit boded fresh evil for him.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
Frank’s misgivings were not without good cause. The housekeeper’s call at the store was connected with him. How, will be understood from a conversation which took place that morning between her and John Wade.
“It’s a relief to get that boy out of the house, Mrs. Bradley,” he said at the breakfast table.
“That it is, Mr. John,” she replied. “But he’ll be trying to get back, take my word for it.”
“He won’t dare to,” said John Wade, incredulously. “I told him if he came near the house I would give him up to the police.”
“I am afraid he will write to your uncle. He’s bold enough for anything.”
“I didn’t think of that,” said John, thoughtfully.
“Do you know his handwriting, Mrs. Bradley?”
“I think I should know it.”
“Then if any letters come which you know to be from him, keep them back from my uncle.”
“What shall I do with them?”
“Give them to me. I don’t want my uncle worried by his appeals.”
“Your uncle seems to be very attached to him. He may go to the store to see him.”
“That is true. I should not like that. How shall we prevent it, that’s the question.”
“If Gilbert & Mack knew that he was not honest they would discharge him.”
“Exactly,” said John Wade; “and as probably he would be unable to get another situation, he would be compelled to leave the city, and we should get rid of him. I commend your shrewdness, Mrs. Bradley. Your plan is most excellent.”
John Wade had more reasons than the housekeeper knew of for desiring the removal of our young hero from the city—reasons which the reader has probably guessed. There was a dark secret in his life connected with a wrong done in years past, from which he hoped some day to reap personal benefit. Unconsciously Frank Fowler stood in his way, and must be removed. Such was his determination.
“I am going out this morning,” said the housekeeper. “I will make it in my way to call at Gilbert & Mack’s. My nephew is a salesman there, as I have told you. I will drop a word in his ear, and that will be enough to settle that boy’s hash.”
“Your language is professional, Mrs. Bradley,” said John Wade, laughing, “but you shouldn’t allude to hash in an aristocratic household. I shall be glad to have you carry out your plan.”
“I hope you’ll speak to your uncle about my nephew, Mr. John. He gets very poor pay where he is.”