MoboReader > Literature > Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent

   Chapter 30 JASPER GETS A PLACE.

Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7892

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Jasper took breakfast the next morning with the friendly young German, whose acquaintance he had so singularly made. Not a word was said as to the manner in which he had entered the house. He was introduced by Adam as "my friend, Mr. Kent."

After breakfast Jasper went around with his new friend to the place of business of the latter. He decided not to call upon Mr. Fitch till about ten o'clock.

While on his way to the merchant's counting-room he met the girl, Nancy, with a tin pail in her hand. The girl's face lighted up when she saw him.

"So you got off the roof," she said. "I was so afraid you would fall."

"Thank you, Nancy," said Jasper. "Thanks to you I am out of prison."

"But how did you get off the roof?"

Jasper gave her an account of his midnight adventures.

"And now tell me," he said, "how does your uncle take my flight?"

"He's awful mad about it," said the girl, shaking her head.

"What does he think? Does he suspect you?" asked Jasper, eagerly.

"He did at first, but he doesn't now. He's puzzled to know how you got away. And Jack, he's mad, too."

"Jack, does he know it?"

"Yes; he came around to the house about eight o'clock. He was looking seedy, as if he'd been up all night. As near as I can find out, he failed in some job last night, and that made him cross."

"Very likely."

"'Have you carried up that boy's breakfast?' I heard him say.

"'No,' said my uncle.

"'Then give it to me, and I'll take it up; I want to talk to him.'

"So Uncle Nathan made me get the breakfast ready. I gave it to him, and he went up. A minute after he roared down stairs:

"'Where's the boy? What have you done with him?'

"Uncle Nathan stared, and called out:

"'Where's your eyes, Jack? Can't you see straight this morning?'

"Jack answered, as mad as could be:

"'Come up here, you old fool, and see if your eyes are any better than mine!'

"Uncle went up the stairs, two at a time, and looked in the chamber, too.

"'There, what do you say to that?' I heard Jack say.

"'I'm dumfounded!' said Uncle Nathan; and then he called me."

"Were you frightened?" asked Jasper.

"A little," said the girl. "I was afraid I'd look guilty.

"'Do you know anything about this?' asked my uncle, sternly.

"'Good gracious! You don't mean to say he's gone?' I said, looking as much surprised as possible. 'How did he get out?'

"'That's what I want to know,' said Jack, and he looked suspiciously at Uncle Nathan and me.

"'I'm as innocent as a new-born babe,' said Uncle Nathan.

"'Somebody must have let him out,' said Jack.

"'I guess he squeezed through the opening,' said I.

"'Maybe he did,' said Uncle Nathan.

"'Suppose he did, you'd see him or hear him. He couldn't get out.'

"'He might have got out through the door in the night,' said Uncle Nathan.

"'Did you find the door unlocked?' asked Jack.

"'Nancy was up first. How was it, Nancy?' asked my uncle.

"'No; it was all right,' said I.

"That puzzled them both. Then they thought of the roof, and went up. I was afraid they would find you there, but they didn't. They seemed to think you couldn't get away so, and they're dreadfully puzzled to know how you did escape. I was afraid you'd fallen off, so I went outside to see if I could find any blood on the sidewalk, but I couldn't, and I hoped you'd got into the next house."

"Your uncle didn't think of that, did he?"

"No, nor Jack, either."

"Well, I've been lucky. I only hope they won't suspect you."

"They will if they should see me talking to you in the street."

"Then we'd better separate. Good-morning, Nancy. I won't forget the service you've done me."

"Good-morning, Jasper. I'm so glad you got away."

"I wish you were away, too, Nancy. It's not a good place for you."

"I don't think I shall stay long," said the girl. "I didn't know uncle kept such company or I wouldn't have come to his house. Some day

I shall leave him, and then I shall go out to service."

"That would be better for you. I advise you to do it soon."

The two parted company, and Jasper proceeded at once to Mr. Fitch's office.

"I wonder what he'll think of me?" Jasper said to himself. "I promised to come back after carrying the money, and now it is four days late."

"Is Mr. Fitch in the counting-room?" asked our hero of the clerk.

"Yes, but he's busy."

"I will wait, then."

"Can't I attend to your business?"

"I think not."

"Your business must be very important," said the clerk, with a sneer.

"I don't know about that," said Jasper, composedly, "but I think if you will tell Mr. Fitch that Jasper Kent is here he will receive me."

"Is your name of such weight?" asked the clerk, with another sneer.

"Suppose you put it to the test," said Jasper, smiling.

The clerk had not seen Jasper when he called before and didn't recognize him as the restorer of little Harry; otherwise, he would have treated our hero with more attention.

Influenced by curiosity he went into the counting-room and announced Jasper's name.

"Bring him in," said the merchant.

Jasper entered, but the manner of Mr. Fitch differed greatly from what it had been when they parted four days before. Then it was cordial and friendly, now it was cold and suspicious.

"Good-morning, Mr. Fitch," said Jasper.

"Good-morning," responded the merchant, coldly. "You have been a long time returning from your errand!"

"That's true, sir; but I would have come sooner if I could."

Mr. Fitch looked up in surprise.

"Do you mean to say that you couldn't come?" demanded he.

"Yes, sir."

"What prevented you?"

"I was in close confinement."

"What! were you arrested?" and again the merchant's face was overspread by doubt and suspicion.

"No, sir; I hope I shall never fall into the hands of the police."

"How then could you be in confinement? This is a riddle."

"The house to which I was requested to bring the money was a haunt of desperate men-burglars, I found out-and they were afraid I would betray their rendezvous. They mixed me some lemonade, which I now think must have been drugged, for I went to sleep in the middle of the day, soon after drinking it. When I awoke up I found myself in a dark room, in the centre of the house."

"Is this true?" asked the merchant, amazed. "Can such things take place within earshot of the police?"

"Yes, sir; there was no chance of my making myself heard; if there had been I would have called for help."

"How did you get out, and when?"

"Last night, at midnight."

"How?"

"I will tell you, sir. That, I think, is the most interesting part of it."

"Proceed."

When Mr. Fitch had heard Jasper's explanation he no longer doubted him. His friendly, cordial manner returned, and he congratulated our hero on his prompt rejection of Jack's offers, though that rejection exposed him to continued imprisonment.

"Now," he asked, "what are your plans?"

"To get something to do," said Jasper.

"Of what kind?"

"Any kind."

"I will engage you, for the present, at ten dollars a week. Will that suit you?"

"Yes, sir. Nothing could suit me better."

"Do you think you can live on that?"

"Easily."

"Then that is settled. To-night you will go home with me. To-morrow will be soon enough to look for a boarding-place. Here are your first week's wages in advance."

"Thank you, sir. You are very kind."

"I have not forgotten that I am indebted to you for the recovery of my little Harry. Here, Leonard."

The clerk already mentioned entered the counting-room. He looked inquiringly from Jasper to Mr. Fitch.

"Leonard," said the latter, "this young man is to be your fellow-clerk. He takes the place of Victor, who left last week. Instruct him in his duties."

"Yes, sir," said the clerk, in no little surprise.

Jasper followed him out into the warehouse.

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