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Chapter 33

PREPARING FOR A JOURNEY


After receiving certain instructions from Mr. Percival in regard to the manner of carrying on his inquiries, Frank said:

"There is one thing I have thought of, Mr. Percival, that may interfere with my success."

"What is it, Frank? I shall be glad to receive any suggestion from you."

"I have been thinking, sir, that it may excite surprise that I should come to Jackson, and remain there without any apparent motive. Perhaps Mr. Fairfield might suspect that I came from you."

"I hardly think so, Frank. He would not suppose that I would select so young a messenger. Still, it will be well to think of some pretext for your stay. Can you help me?"

"I have been thinking, sir, that I might fit myself out as an agent, or peddler, or something of the kind. It would not only give me an excuse for my journey, but enable me to call from house to house and pick up information about Mr. Fairfield."

"A capital idea, Frank. I see that you are better fitted for the task than I supposed. I give you authority to fit yourself out in any way you choose. I shall have to leave a great deal to your own judgment."

"Then, sir, I think I might lay in a stock of stationery, pens and articles of that nature. Probably this is so common that I would be thought to be nothing more than I seemed."

"That strikes me rather favorably, Frank."

"I could fit myself out in the city, and take the articles along with me in an extra valise or carpetbag."

"Let me suggest an amendment to your plan," said Mr. Percival. "Wait till you get to Chicago, and lay in your stock there. The advantage of that arrangement will be that you will be saved the care of your merchandise up to that point, and, as you may be asked where you obtained your stock, it will create less surprise if you mention Chicago than New York. It would be considered hardly worth while for a New York boy to go so far on such a business—"

This seemed to Frank an excellent suggestion and he instantly adopted it.

The next day Frank started on his long journey. He carried with him a supply of money provided by Mr. Percival, and he was authorized to draw for more if he should require it.

He divided this money into two portions, keeping a small sum in his pocketbook, but the greater part of it in an inside vest pocket, where it would not be likely to be looked for by pickpockets.

This arrangement was suggested by Mr. Percival.

"I once experienced," he said, "the disadvantage of carrying all my money in one pocket. I was in a Southern city, or, rather, on my way to it, when an adroit pickpocket on the car relieved me of my wallet containing all my available funds. I did not find out my loss till I had arrived at the hotel and registered my name. You can imagine my embarrassment. It was my first visit to that particular city, and I had no acquaintances there, so far as I was aware. Had I mentioned my position to the landlord, he might very probably have taken me for an adventurer, traveling on false pretenses."

"What did you do, sir?" asked Frank, interested.

"I took a walk about the city, my thoughts occupied in devising a way out of my trouble. To my great relief, I had the good fortune, during the walk, to meet a New York acquaintance, who knew very well my financial standing. I told him of my difficulty, and he immediately introduced me at a bank, where I raised money on a New York draft. I resolved, however, at that time, never again to carry all my money in one pocketbook, as boats and railroad trains on the long routes are generally infested by pickpockets and sharpers."

Frank at once set about preparing for his journey.

He bought a ready-made suit of blue cloth, not unlike that worn by the district telegraph boys of to-day, which he judged would look more suitable than his ordinary attire for the character he was about to assume of a traveling peddler.

He bought a through ticket to the railroad point nearest Jackson, and then, bidding good-bye to Mr. Percival and his family, started on his trip.

Little Freddie made strenuous opposition to parting with his favorite, but Frank promised to bring him home a present, and this diverted the little fellow's thoughts.

Horatio Alger