Chapter 36




A LETTER FROM TOM SLOAN.

When Fred presented himself at home, after a fortnight's absence, his mother and little brother were overjoyed.

"It's been awfully lonely since you went away, Fred," said Albert.

"I have felt like Albert," said Mrs. Fenton. "But it was not that that worried me most. I was afraid you might meet with some accident."

"I've come home safe and sound, mother, as you see. But you don't ask me whether I succeeded in my mission."

"I don't know what your mission was."

"No; it was a secret of Mr. Wainwright's, and I was bound to keep it secret. I can tell you now. I was sent to Canada to recover over ten thousand dollars' worth of stolen bonds."

Mrs. Fenton looked amazed.

"A boy like you!" she said.

"I don't wonder you are surprised. I was surprised myself."

"But who had the bonds, and how did you recover them?"

"Two men were in the conspiracy. One of them was sorry for the theft, and ready to help me. The other meant to keep them. He had taken them away from his partner and hidden them in the forest."

"And you found them?"

"Yes; sit down and I will tell you the story."

Fred did so, and when it was finished he added: "How much do you think Mr. Wainwright paid me for my trouble?"

"He ought to pay you handsomely."

"What would you consider paying me handsomely?"

"Fifty dollars," answered his mother.

"He gave me a thousand dollars!"

"A thousand!" ejaculated Mrs. Fenton, incredulous.

"Yes."

"Where's the money?" asked Albert.

"He gave it to me in a check. I shall collect it to-morrow, and invest it in some safe way."

"I can't realize it, Fred," said Mrs. Fenton. "Why, it will make us rich."

"But that isn't all. My salary is raised to twenty-five dollars a week."

"I never heard of such wages being given to a boy like you."

"It was my second offer this morning. A merchant, a friend of Mr. Wainwright, offered me twenty dollars to go into his office."

"That is better than being a train boy, Fred."

"Yes; but I was glad to work on the trains when I had nothing better to do."

Just then the peculiar whistle of the postman was heard.

"Run down-stairs, Albert, and see if there are any letters for us," said Fred.

The little boy returned in a moment with an envelope directed to Fred Fenton, and postmarked Central City, Colorado. He opened it hastily, and exclaimed: "This is from Mr. Sloan, who visited us a few months since."

"Read it, Fred."

The letter was written in rather an illegible hand, and the spelling was rather eccentric, for Mr. Sloan was not a scholar. As corrected it ran thus:

FRIEND FRED—I suppose you haven't forgotten your old friend Tom Sloan. I have often thought of how I enjoyed myself at your home, and wished I could call in and take a cup of tea with you and your mother.

About that land you asked me to see, I've got good news for you. There's a town built around it, and the price has gone up to fancy figures. There's a party here that wants to buy it for five thousand dollars, but I think I can get a little more. If your mother will send me a power of attorney, I will sell it, and send you on the money. I'll do my best for you. No wonder that old skinflint, your uncle, wanted to buy it. He'd have made a big thing out of it. He was a fool not to take it at your own figures.

I hope you are all well, and I shouldn't wonder if I might see you pretty soon. I've been lucky myself, and made a respectable pile. Old Tom Sloan doesn't get left if he can help it.

Well, good-by. Send on the power of attorney by return of mail.

Yours till death,

TOM SLOAN.

"Five thousand dollars!" ejaculated Mrs. Fenton. "I can't believe it."

"You will, mother, when you get the money. There's no time to be lost. I'll go out at once and get the power of attorney, and we'll write at once, telling Mr. Sloan to do whatever he thinks best. Do you agree to that, mother?"

"Yes, Fred. He is a good man and I trust him entirely."



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