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No sooner had John Wade parted from our hero than he saw approaching him a dark, sinister-looking man, whom he had known years before.
"Good-morning, Mr. Wade," said the newcomer.
"Good-morning, Mr. Graves. Are you busy just now?"
"No, sir; I am out of employment. I have been unfortunate."
"Then I will give you a job. Do you see that boy?" said John Wade, rapidly.
"Yes, I see him."
"I want you to follow him. Find out where he lives, and let me know this evening. Do you understand?"
"I understand. You may rely upon me, sir," answered Nathan Graves; and quickening his pace, he soon came within a hundred feet of our hero.
After fulfilling his errand, Frank walked downtown again, but did not succeed in obtaining any further employment. Wherever he went, he was followed by Graves. Unconsciously, he exhausted the patience of that gentleman, who got heartily tired of his tramp about the streets. But the longest day will come to an end, and at last he had the satisfaction of tracking Frank to his humble lodging. Then, and not till then, he felt justified in leaving him.
Nathan Graves sought the residence of John Wade. He rang the bell as the clock struck eight.
"Well, what success?" asked Wade, when they met.
"I have tracked the boy. What more can I do for you?" asked Graves.
"I want to get him away from the city. The fact is--I may as well tell you--my uncle has taken a great fancy to the boy, and might be induced to adopt him, and cut me off from my rightful inheritance. The boy is an artful young rascal, and has been doing all he could to get into the good graces of my uncle, who is old and weak-minded."
It was nine o'clock when Nathan Graves left the house, John Wade himself accompanying him to the door.
"How soon do you think you can carry out my instructions?" asked Wade.
"To-morrow, if possible."
"The sooner the better."
"It is lucky I fell in with him," said Nathan Graves to himself, with satisfaction, as he slowly walked down Fifth Avenue. "It's a queer business, but that's none of my business. The main thing for me to consider is that it brings money to my purse, and of that I have need enough."
Graves left the house richer by a hundred dollars than he entered it.
It was eleven o'clock on the forenoon of the next day when Frank walked up Canal Street toward Broadway. He had been down to the wharves since early in the morning, seeking for employment. He had offered his services to many, but as yet had been unable to secure a job.
As he was walking along a man addressed him:
"Will you be kind enough to direct me to Broadway?"
It was Nathan Graves, with whom Frank was destined to have some unpleasant experiences.
"Straight ahead," answered Frank. "I am going there, and will show you, if you like."
"Thank you, I wish you would. I live only fifteen or twenty miles distant," said Graves, "but I don't often come to the city, and am not much acquainted. I keep a dry-goods store, but my partner generally comes here to buy goods. By the way, perhaps you can help me about the errand that calls me here today."
"I will, sir, if I can," said Frank, politely.
"My youngest clerk has just left me, and I want to find a successor--a boy about your age, say. Do you know any one who would like such a position?"
"I am out of employment myself just now. Do you think I will suit?"
"I think you will," said Mr. Graves.
"You won't object to go into the country?"
"I will give you five dollars a week and your board for the present. If you suit me, your pay will be raised at the end of six months. Will that be satisfactory?" asked his companion.
"Quite so, sir. When do you wish me to come?"
"Can you go out with me this afternoon?"
"Yes, sir. I only want to go home and pack up my trunk."
"To save time, I will go with you, and we will start as soon as possible."
Nathan Graves accompanied Frank to his room, where his scanty wardrobe was soon packed. A hack was called, and they were speedily on their way to the Cortland Street ferry.
They crossed the ferry, and Mr. Graves purchased two tickets to Elizabeth. He bought a paper, and occupied himself in reading. Frank felt that fortune had begun to shine upon him once more. By and by, he could send for Grace, and get her boarded near him. As soon as his wages were raised, he determined to do this. While engaged in these pleasant speculations, they reached the station.
"We get out here," said Mr. Graves.
"Is your store in this place?" asked Frank.
"No; it is in the next town."
Nathan Graves looked about him for a conveyance. He finally drove a bargain with a man driving a shabby-looking vehicle, and the two took their seats.
They were driven about six miles through a flat, unpicturesque country, when they reached a branch road leading away from the main one.
It was a narrow road, and apparently not much frequented. Frank could see no houses on either side
"Is your store on this road?" he asked.
"Oh, no; but I am not going to the store yet. We will go to my house, and leave your trunk."
At length the wagon stopped, by Graves' orders, in front of a gate hanging loosely by one hinge.
"We'll get out here," said Graves.
Frank looked with some curiosity, and some disappointment, at his future home. It was a square, unpainted house, discolored by time, and looked far from attractive. There were no outward signs of occupation, and everything about it appeared to have fallen into decay. Not far off was a barn, looking even more dilapidated than the house.
At the front door, instead of knocking--there was no bell--Graves drew a rusty key from his pocket and inserted it in the lock. They found themselves in a small entry, uncarpeted and dingy.
"We'll go upstairs," said Graves.
Arrived on the landing, he threw open a door, and ushered in our hero.
"This will be your room," he said.
Frank looked around in dismay.
It was a large, square room, uncarpeted, and containing only a bed, two chairs and a washstand, all of the cheapest and rudest manufacture.
"I hope you will soon feel at home here," said Graves. "I'll go down and see if I can find something to eat."
He went out, locking the door behind him
"What does this mean?" thought Frank, with a strange sensation.
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