Before going to bed Joe wired his acceptance of the offer, and in the morning received a telegram from Maurice Vane, asking him to go to Chicago, to the Palmer House.
“That settles it, I’m off,” said our hero, and bought a ticket for the great city by the lakes without delay. Then he said good-bye to the Talmadges and the Gussings, and boarded the train at sundown.
Joe was now getting used to traveling and no longer felt green and out of place. He had engaged a berth, and took his ease until it was time to go to bed. Arriving at Chicago he made his way without delay to the Palmer House.
He found the hotel crowded and had some difficulty in getting a room. Mr. Maurice Vane had not yet arrived.
“I guess I’ll leave a note for him,” thought our hero, and sauntered into the reading-room to pen the communication.
While Joe was writing, two men came into the room and sat down behind a pillar that was close at hand. They were in earnest conversation and he could not help but catch what was said.
“You say he is coming West?” said one of the pair.
“Yes,—he started yesterday.”
“And he has found out that the mine is really valuable?”
“I think so. Anyway he is quite excited about it. He sent a telegram to that boy, too.”
“The hotel boy you mean?”
So the talk ran on and Joe at length got up to take a look at the two men. They were Gaff Caven and Pat Malone. At once our hero drew out of sight again.
“How can you get the best of Vane, Gaff?” asked Malone, after a pause.
“There is but one way, Malone.”
“And that is?”
“Can I trust you?”
“Haven’t you trusted me before?”
“We must—” Caven paused. “We won’t talk about it in this public place. Come to my room and I’ll lay my plan before you.”
Then the two arose and left the reading-room as rapidly as they had entered it.
HOW A SATCHEL DISAPPEARED.
“They certainly mean mischief,” Joe told himself, after the two men had vanished. He saw them enter an elevator, but did not know at what floor they alighted.
Looking over the hotel register he was unable to find the names of either Caven or Malone, or even Ball. Evidently the rascals were traveling under other names now.
“They’ll bear watching,” he concluded. “I must put Mr. Vane on guard as soon as he comes in.”
He gave up the idea of leaving a note and took his station in the corridor of the hotel. After waiting about two hours he saw a well-known form approaching, dress-suit case in hand.
“Oh, Joe, so you’re here already! I’m glad I won’t have to wait for you.”
“I’m afraid you won’t be able to get a room, Mr. Vane. But you can have mine.”