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About ten minutes before the arrival of the detective Fred woke up. He generally awoke earlier, but his long ride of the day before had fatigued him more than usual. It was natural for him to glance over to the opposite bed, occupied by his traveling companion. He was surprised to find it empty.
"He must have got up early," thought Fred. "I wonder if he has gone for good."
This seemed likely, for the stranger's valise had disappeared also.
"I wonder he didn't wake me up and bid me good-by," thought the train boy.
Then a momentary suspicion led him to search for the hundred dollars in gold which he had carefully concealed in his inside vest pocket. If that were taken, he would be in a quandary, for there would be little chance of his being able to make up the loss to his friend, the Western miner.
He found, to his relief, that the gold had not been touched, and he reproached himself for the injustice he had in his thoughts, done his late room-mate.
"Well," soliloquized Fred, as he lazily got out of bed and drew on his clothes, "I am not sorry to have the room alone. If I could have a friend from home with me I should like it, but I don't care for the company of a stranger."
Fred reflected that he had all the day to himself. He could hear the roar of the famous cataract, which he had not yet seen on account of his late arrival the night before, and he determined to go there immediately after breakfast, or even before breakfast if he found that it was quite near. He went to the window and looked out, but it was not in sight.
"I may as well put on a clean shirt," thought Fred, and he went to the table to open the bundle which he had brought from Jersey City. He had just unfastened the string when a quick, imperative knock was heard at the door of his room.
"Come in!" said Fred, with some surprise.
He turned his face to the door, and his wonder increased as it opened and he saw the clerk and a stranger standing on the threshold. They entered the room and closed the door behind them.
"What is the matter?" asked the train boy. "Has anything happened?"
"When did your room-mate leave?" asked the detective, not answering his question.
"I don't know; I only just woke up."
"Did you rest well?"
"That's a very queer question to ask me," thought Fred. "Yes," he answered, "I rested very well."
The detective and the clerk exchanged glances. This statement did not accord with what Fred's room-mate had said down-stairs.
"The bed was very comfortable," added Fred by way of compliment to the house.
"I am glad you found it so," said the detective dryly.
"Did you come upstairs to ask how I rested?' asked Fred, with a smile.
"You are sharp, my young friend," said the detective, "and I think I may say wonderfully cool under the circumstances."
"Under what circumstances?" asked Fred, his attention drawn to the last part of the detective's speech.
"There was a burglary committed yesterday afternoon in Elmira," said the detective, fastening his eyes keenly on the face of the train boy.
"Was there?" asked Fred, not seeing in what way this information was likely to affect him. "I thought most burglaries were committed in the night."
"They are, generally, but this was an exception. There was no one in the house except old Mr. Carver, who is quite hard of hearing. The burglary probably took place about five o'clock, and the burglar is supposed to have taken the 5:51 train from Elmira."
"Why, that is the train I was on," said Fred in surprise.
"By a curious coincidence," said the detective with a queer smile, "it was by your train that the burglar probably traveled."
His tone was so significant that Fred asked quickly, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, my young friend," said the detective, "that you are suspected to know something of this affair."
"If you are a detective," retorted Fred, "I don think much of your sharpness. I have never been in Elmira in my life."
"Probably not," said Ferguson, the detective, with a provoking smile.
"I passed through there yesterday on my way from New York. With that exception, I never saw the place."
"That may be true," said the detective cautiously, "or it may not. I will take the liberty of examining your luggage to see if I can find any of the stolen articles."
"You are welcome to do it," said Fred.
"Bring it out then. Where have you put it—under the bed?"
"All the luggage I have is in this bundle," said the train boy. "You can open that if you think it will do you any good."
"You are sure you have no valise?"
Ferguson, who, like most of his class, was suspicious, peeped under each bed, but found nothing to reward his search. Somewhat disappointed, he went to the table and opened the newspaper bundle. He did so listlessly, not really expecting to find anything, but as he unrolled Fred's shirt there was a triumphant look in his eyes when he uncovered the gold watch and chain.
"Just as I thought," he said, with a nod to the clerk.
"What is that?' gasped Fred.
"It appears to be a watch and chain," answered Ferguson coolly. "Possibly you can tell me how it came there."
"I know nothing about it," said Fred in dire amazement.
"You do not claim it as yours, then?"
"Certainly not. I never saw it before in my life."
"Is this shirt yours?"
"You brought it with you?"
"Let me open the watch. Do you see this inscription?"
Fred and the clerk approached, and on the inside of the case read the name, "Philo Carver, Elmira, 1865."
"You see? This is one of the articles stolen from Mr. Carver's house yesterday afternoon. It is a little odd that this young man in whose bundle I find it cannot explain its presence."
"You may believe me or not," said Fred desperately, "but it is true all the same. I know nothing of this watch or chain, and I never saw either before. Can you tell me what other articles were taken by the burglar?"
"Some government bonds, and a small sum of bank bills."
"Then you had better search for them also here: I will help you all I can."
"Well, you are a cool hand."
"No; I am innocent, that is all."
"It is pretty clear you have nothing else with you, or you wouldn't be so willing. However, I consider it my duty to do as you suggest."
He hunted under the mattresses, and finally examined Fred's pockets. At last he felt in the inside vest pocket and drew out the gold coins.
"Ha, we have something here!" he exclaimed.
"Yes," answered Fred, "but those happen to belong to me."
"Where did you get them?"
"From a friend in New York. He intrusted them to me to use if I needed. Meanwhile I was to put them in the savings bank."
"Not a very likely story," said the detective suspiciously.
"Likely or not, it is a true story. Does this man Carver claim to have lost any gold coins?"
"I thought not."
"However, we come back to the inquiry—where did you get the watch?"
"The man who slept in the room with me must have left it here to throw suspicion on me," said Fred, with sudden inspiration.
"That is possible," said the clerk, who was favorably impressed by Fred's manner.
"We must not jump at conclusions," said the detective warily. "I shall feel justified in detaining the boy after what I have found."
"You won't take me to the station house?" said Fred nervously.
"No; it will answer the purpose if you are locked up in this room—for the present."
"Then," said Fred, turning to the clerk, "I shall be much obliged if you will send me up some breakfast."
"It shall be done."
Within half an hour Fred was discussing a beefsteak and fried potatoes with hearty enjoyment. It takes a good deal to spoil the appetite of a healthy boy of seventeen.
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