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Chapter 39

AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY


On his return to New York, Frank had no reason to be dissatisfied with his reception. From Mr. Percival to Freddie, all the family seemed delighted to see him.

"You mustn't go away again, Frank," said little Freddie. "I wanted to see you ever so much."

"And I wanted to see you, Freddie," said our hero, his heart warming to the little boy.

"You won't go away again, will you, Frank?"

"Not if I can help it, Freddie."

"We are all glad to see you back Frank," said his employer. "But you have justified my opinion of you by your success. Some of my friends ridiculed me for sending a boy on such an important mission, but I don't believe any of them would have succeeded any better than you, if as well."

"I am glad you are satisfied with me, sir," said Frank, very much gratified by the commendation of his employer.

"I feel that you have done a great service, and indeed I don't know whom I could have sent in your place. However, I am glad to see you back again. I have missed you about my letters, and have postponed answering some till my young secretary returned."

Frank resumed his regular employment, and three months passed without anything that needs to be recorded.

At the end of that time, Frank received an important letter from Col. Vincent, which gave him much food for thought.

The letter was as follows:

"Dear Frank: For some time past I have been intending to write to you, but I have delayed for no good reason. Now, however, I am led to write by a surprising discovery which has just been made in your old home, which may be of material importance to you.

"When your stepfather went away, he requested me to have an eye to the estate, and order whatever I might think necessary to be done. I am not, as you know, a very cordial friend of Mr. Manning's, but I have always regarded the property as of right belonging to you—that is, since your mother's death—and so accepted the commission.

"A few days since I went over the house and found that it was quite dirty. Where the dirt could come from in an unoccupied house I can't tell, but, at all events, I felt justified in engaging a woman to clean the paint, so, if any of you should return unexpectedly, you would find the house fit to receive you. This was a very simple matter, you will think, and scarcely needs mentioning. But, my dear Frank, events of importance often hinge on trifles, and so it has proved in the present instance.

"On the evening of the second day I received a call from Mrs. Noonan, whom I had employed to scrub the house. She had in her hand a folded paper, which she gave to me.

"'Here is something I found, sir, while I was scrubbing,' she said.

"I opened it indifferently, but conceive of my amazement when I found it to be your mother's will, properly signed, sealed and witnessed.

"Of course it was not the will which Mr. Manning presented for probate. This will gave Mr. Manning ten thousand dollars, and the residue of the property to you, except a small amount bestowed upon Richard Green, the coachman, and Deborah—sums larger, by the way, than those mentioned in the will which was read after your mother's death."

There was more to Colonel Vincent's letter.

Frank showed it to Mr. Percival, and readily obtained permission to take a few days vacation.

"I hope you will get back the estate, Frank," said Mr. Percival, "though I don't know what I shall do without my secretary."

"That need not separate us, Mr. Percival," said our hero. "I have no home but this."

Horatio Alger