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   Chapter 19 ANDY IS DISCHARGED.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7731

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


"You don't know what it means!" repeated Simon Rich in a sarcastic tone.

"Probably not. I understand it."

"Do you think I stole a watch and pawned it, Mr. Rich?" demanded Andy, with spirit.

"There seems to be absolute proof of your dishonesty. Will you explain how, otherwise, this pawn ticket is found in your pocket?"

"I can't explain it, nor can I understand it. All I can say is, that I never saw it before."

"You must think I am a fool to be deceived by such a story."

"I can't believe that Andy pawned a watch," said John Crandall, hypocritically.

"Will you be kind enough to inform me who did, then?" asked his uncle, with pretended severity.

"I can't guess."

"Nor any one else, I fancy. Of course, Andrew, after this proof of your dishonesty, I cannot retain you in my, or rather in Mr. Flint's employment."

"Mr. Rich, will you do me a favor?"

"What is it?"

"Will you go with me to the pawnbroker who issued the ticket and ask him if he ever saw me before?"

"I have no time to go on such a foolish errand. Can you give me the ten dollars you obtained for the watch?"

"I didn't obtain a dollar nor a cent for the watch. I know nothing about it."

"Probably you have laid it away somewhere, or spent it."

"That is not true, and I am sure you don't believe it yourself."

"No impudence, young man! I am forced to believe it. I have treated you kindly since Mr. Flint went away, and that is sufficient to show that I wish to do you no injustice. Is this true or not?"

"I have no fault to find with your treatment, except now."

"I shall continue to act as your friend. I might have you arrested, and your conviction would be certain with the evidence I have in my possession. But I will not do it. I will redeem the watch at my own expense and be content with discharging you."

"I believe there is a plot against me," said Andy, pale but firm. "It will come out some time. When do you wish me to go?"

"At once. I will pay you to the end of the week, but I could not feel safe in retaining your services any longer. John, will you oblige me by taking Andrew's place till I have a chance to secure another boy?"

"Yes, Uncle Simon, but I don't want to feel that I have had anything to do with Andy's discharge."

"You have not. No one is responsible for it but himself."

"Then I will stay while you need me. I don't want to leave you in a hole."

Simon Rich went to the money drawer and drew out a five-dollar bill.

"Here is your pay to the end of the week," he said.

"I prefer to accept pay only to to-day," replied Andy.

"As you please."

Andy walked out of the store feeling crushed and overwhelmed. He was all at sea concerning the pawn ticket. He could not understand how it got into his pocket.

He formed a resolution. He would go around to the pawnbroker's and see if he could obtain any information.

He found the pawn shop without difficulty. It was a small apartment, but seemed quite full of goods of all varieties.

A small man of perhaps sixty was behind the counter. Seated in a rocking-chair, sewing, an old lady was to be seen in the rear of the shop.

Andy had never before been in a pawn shop, and would have been interested in examining it if his errand had not been so serious.

He walked up to the counter.

"Well, young man, what is your business?" asked the old man.

"Do you remember lending some money on a new gold watch last Monday?"

"Was the watch stolen?" asked the pawnbroker, with shade of anxiety.

"You will have no difficulty about it. It will be redeemed."

"How much did I lend on it?"

"Ten dollars."

"Yes, I remember."

"Can you remember who brought it in?"

"No, except that it was a boy about your size."

"Did he look like me?"

"I can't remember. You see, I have so many customers."

"I remember," said th

e old lady, speaking up. "He was about your size."

"It was not I?"

"No; he was thinner than you, and he was dark complexioned."

A light began to dawn upon Andy. This description fitted John Crandall.

"Do you remember what kind of an overcoat he wore?"

"It was a light overcoat."

"Thank you. Will you please remember this if you are asked?"

"Did the young gentleman own the watch?"

"He was employed by another party, but I cannot tell you any more at present. The watch will probably be redeemed by a man about thirty-five. Don't mention to him that any one has asked you questions about it."

"All right. I shall be glad to oblige you. You are sure it was not stolen?"

"The man who sent the boy was not dishonest. You will have no trouble."

"It was a new watch, and I thought it might be stolen. We poor pawnbrokers have a hard time. If we take stolen property we get into trouble, but how can we tell if the rings and watches they bring in are stolen?"

"Very true. I can see that you must sometimes be puzzled. Do those who pawn articles generally give their own names?"

"Very seldom. They almost always give wrong names. That sometimes leads to trouble. I remember a gentleman who mislaid his ticket, and he could not remember what name he gave. If he had we might have overlooked the loss of the pawn ticket. As it was, we did not know but he might be a fraud, though I think it was all right, and the watch he pawned was his own."

"Thank you for answering my questions. I am sorry to have troubled you," said Andy, politely.

"Oh, it is no matter," rejoined the old man, who felt very favorably impressed by Andy's good looks, and frank, open manner.

As Andy went out of the shop he experienced a feeling of relief. He saw that he would be able to prove his innocence through the testimony of the pawnbroker and his wife. He was in no hurry. It would do when Mr. Flint returned. He did not want the friendly jeweler to think that he had been dishonest.

It was clear that he was the victim of a conspiracy, and that the plot had been engineered by Simon Rich and carried out by his nephew.

As Andy's board was paid by Walter Gale, he would not be distressed by want of employment, but would be able to remain in New York. He might obtain another position, though he foresaw that it would be useless to apply to Simon Rich for a letter of recommendation.

He had not gone more than a hundred feet when he met a boy whom he knew, named James Callahan.

"How do you happen to be here, Andy?" he asked. "Are you on an errand for the firm?"

"I have left them."

"Why is that?"

"They-or rather the clerk-charged me with stealing a gold watch and pawning it."

"Where?" asked the boy, in some excitement.

Andy pointed out the pawnbroker's shop from which he had just come.

"I saw John Crandall coming out of there yesterday."

"You did?"

"Yes."

"I am not surprised. The pawnbroker described to me the boy who pawned the watch, and I recognized John from the description."

"What does it all mean?"

"Mr. Flint has gone out West, and Mr. Rich and John have conspired to get me into trouble."

"When were you discharged?"

"Less than an hour since."

"Who has taken your place?"

"John Crandall."

James Callahan whistled.

"I see," he said. "It was thundering mean. What are you going to do about it?"

"Wait till Mr. Flint comes home. Give me your address. I may want to call you as a witness."

Callahan gave his number on Ninth Avenue.

"I will note it down."

"How are you going to get along while you are without a place?" asked

James, with friendly solicitude.

"I have a friend who will pay my board."

"Good! I am glad to hear it."

"Now," thought Andy, "I have a chain of proof that will clear me with

Mr. Flint. That is what I care most about."

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