“It is mean,” grumbled Jasper. “I have been here longer than he.”
“True, but he seems to be Mr. Goodnow’s pet. It was an unlucky day for you when he got a place in the establishment.”
“Did you ask Mr. Goodnow to promote me?”
“Yes, but he said he had decided to give Archer’s place to Ropes.”
Archer was a young clerk who was obliged, on account of pulmonary weakness, to leave New York and go to Southern California.
“How much does Ropes get now?”
“Seven dollars a week.”
“And I only get five, and I am two years older. They ought to have more regard for you, Uncle James, or I, as your nephew, would get promoted.”
“I will see what we can do about it.”
“I wish Ropes would get into some scrape and get discharged.”
It was a new idea, but Jasper dwelt upon it, and out of it grew trouble for Rodney.
James Redwood was summoned one morning to the counting room of his employer.
“Mr. Redwood,” said the merchant “I have reason to think that one of my clerks is dishonest.”
“That is what I want you to find out.”
“What reason have you for suspecting any one?”
“Some ladies’ cloaks and some dress patterns are missing.”
“Are you sure they were not sold?”
“Yes: the record of sales has been examined, and they are not included.”
“That is strange, Mr. Goodnow,” said Redwood thoughtfully. “I hope I am not under suspicion.”
“Oh, not at all.”
“The losses seem to have taken place in my department.”
“True, but that doesn’t involve you.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Watch those under you. Let nothing in your manner, however, suggest that you are suspicious. I don’t want you to put any one on his guard.”
“All right, sir. I will be guided by your instructions. Have you any idea how long this has been going on?”
“Only a few weeks.”
Mr. Redwood turned to go back to his room, but Mr. Goodnow called him back.
“I needn’t suggest to you,” he said, “that you keep this to yourself. Don’t let any clerk into the secret.”
“Very well, sir.”
James Redwood, however, did not keep his promise. After supper he called back Jasper as he was about putting on his hat to go out, and said, “Jasper, I wish to speak with you for five minutes.”
“Won’t it do tomorrow morning? I have an engagement.”
“Put it off, then. This is a matter of importance.”
“Very well, sir,” and Jasper, albeit reluctantly, laid down his hat and sat down.
“Jasper,” said his uncle, “there’s a thief in our establishment.”
Jasper started, and his sallow complexion turned yellower than usual.