“That’s precious slow,” said Travis, rather contemptuously. “What’s the use of studying so much? You don’t expect to be a lawyer, do you, or anything of that sort?”
“Maybe,” said Dick. “I haven’t made up my mind yet. If my feller-citizens should want me to go to Congress some time, I shouldn’t want to disapp’int ’em; and then readin’ and writin’ might come handy.”
“Well,” said Travis, rather abruptly, “I’m tired and I guess I’ll turn in.”
“Good-night,” said Fosdick.
The boys looked at each other as their visitor left the room.
“He came in to see if we’d missed the bank-book,” said Dick.
“And to turn off suspicion from himself, by letting us know he had no money,” added Fosdick.
“That’s so,” said Dick. “I’d like to have searched them pockets of his.”
TRACKING THE THIEF
Fosdick was right in supposing that Jim Travis had stolen the bank-book. He was also right in supposing that that worthy young man had come to the knowledge of Dick’s savings by what he had accidentally overheard. Now, Travis, like a very large number of young men of his class, was able to dispose of a larger amount of money than he was able to earn. Moreover, he had no great fancy for work at all, and would have been glad to find some other way of obtaining money enough to pay his expenses. He had recently received a letter from an old companion, who had strayed out to California, and going at once to the mines had been lucky enough to get possession of a very remunerative claim. He wrote to Travis that he had already realized two thousand dollars from it, and expected to make his fortune within six months.
Two thousand dollars! This seemed to Travis a very large sum, and quite dazzled his imagination. He was at once inflamed with the desire to go out to California and try his luck. In his present situation he only received thirty dollars a month, which was probably all that his services were worth, but went a very little way towards gratifying his expensive tastes. Accordingly he determined to take the next steamer to the land of gold, if he could possibly manage to get money enough to pay the passage.
The price of a steerage passage at that time was seventy-five dollars,—not a large sum, certainly,—but it might as well have been seventy-five hundred for any chance James Travis had of raising the amount at present. His available funds consisted of precisely two dollars and a quarter; of which sum, one dollar and a half was due to his washerwoman. This, however, would not have troubled Travis much, and he would conveniently have forgotten all about it; but, even leaving this debt unpaid, the sum at his command would not help him materially towards paying his passage money.
Travis applied for help to two or three of his companions; but they were all of that kind who never keep an account with savings banks, but carry all their spare cash about with them. One of these friends offered to lend him thirty-seven cents, and another a dollar; but neither of these offers seemed to encourage him much. He was about giving up his project in despair, when he learned, accidentally, as we have already said, the extent of Dick’s savings.