AT HOME ONCE MORE

“I’LL fix you for this,” cried Gabe Flecker, in Frank’s ear, while they
were awaiting the arrival of the police.

“You brought it on yourself, Flecker,” answered the young book agent,
briefly.

“He owes me for two weeks’ board,” said Mrs. Larkspur, timidly.

“You shall not get a cent of it, madam,” snapped the swindler.

“It’s more than likely he hasn’t a dollar with which to pay,” put in
Frank. He turned to Flecker: “I guess you’ll get free board for awhile,
from now on.”

“Just wait!” hissed the swindler, and grated his teeth.

Two policemen soon put in an appearance, and Frank explained matters,
and then Mrs. Larkspur told her story.

“I guess the young man is right, Mrs. Larkspur,” said one of the
officers. “I’ve heard of this fellow. There’s a reward out for him. He
is an old offender.”

Frank was asked to make a complaint, and Mrs. Larkspur said she would do
the same. Then the policemen marched Gabe Flecker away.

“I must thank you for doing what you did, young man,” said the boarding
house mistress to the young book agent. “Had you not been here, he would
have swindled me most cleverly.”

“I’m glad I was here,” returned our hero. “I’d like first rate to get
that reward.”

“Well, you certainly deserve it.”

Mrs. Larkspur did not wish any books, but told him of several parties
who might buy, so in the end he made sales through her which profited
him over five dollars.

The two policemen felt certain that Gabe Flecker could not get away from
them, so they merely made him walk between them, without taking the
trouble to handcuff him.

Now, Flecker did not intend to go to the station house if he could
possibly avoid it. He knew that his record was a black one, and once
before the bar of justice he would be sure to get a sentence of at least
several years.

Goshen boasts of a race track at which each year a number of important
horse races are run. The races were now on, and the town was filled with
folks who had come in by train and in carriages.

As the policemen and their prisoner were crossing one of the main
streets, a cry arose.

“Look out for the runaway!”

A horse attached to a buggy was tearing along the street at topmost
speed. The vehicle was empty, and was swaying from side to side as if
about to go over.

“Look out there!” yelled one of the policemen to some children who were
crossing the street near by. And then he ran out to go to their
assistance, and so did the other policeman, for the runaway horse was
now dangerously close.

This was an opportunity not to be missed by Gabe Flecker, and without an
instant’s hesitation he slipped around a corner and ran down the side
street towards the railroad. Here he watched his chance, and boarded a
freight train running towards New York.

“Just my luck,” he told himself, smilingly, when safe on the train.
“They don’t get Gabe Flecker in jail as easily as they think.”

The policemen soon had the children out of the way, and a moment later
the runaway horse was stopped without doing much damage. Then both
policemen looked for their prisoner.

“He’s gone!” cried one.

“Where to?” queried the other.

“Hang me if I know. Why didn’t you watch him?”

“Why didn’t you watch him yourself?”

“I left him with you.”

“No, you didn’t. I left him with you.”

“It ain’t so!”

“It is.”

So the talk ran on until a crowd began to collect, wanting to know the
cause of the dispute. But the policemen would not tell, and went off to
hunt for the missing prisoner. Of course they were unsuccessful, and had
to go the station house empty-handed.

When Frank and Mrs. Larkspur presented themselves they were told that
Gabe Flecker had escaped by the aid of two accomplices.

“Two accomplices?” queried Frank, in astonishment.

“Exactly,” said the officer in charge. “The two policemen who had the
prisoner were set upon by two rascals, and in the mêlée to follow the
prisoner got away.” This was the story told by the policemen, who had
been negligent in their duty, although, in a way, they had done well to
rescue the little children.

“It’s very strange,” said Frank to the boarding house mistress, as they
walked away. “I didn’t know he had any accomplices.”

“Well, I have heard that swindlers often work in pairs, or in a crowd of
three or four,” answered Mrs. Larkspur. “Perhaps the races attracted
them.”

“That must be it,” answered Frank. “I’m going to watch the crowd coming
from the races and see if I can learn anything.”

He did this, but his watching brought him no satisfaction. He spent the
night at Mrs. Larkspur’s house.

“The contents of the trunks left here are of no value,” said the lady.
“I doubt if he ever tries to claim his baggage.”

Frank had fairly good success in Goshen, and then returned to
Middletown. Here, money seemed to be plentiful, and by good luck he took
orders for three sets of famous authors in one day.

“That is what I call business,” he thought. “If I could keep up such a
record, I’d be making money hand over fist.”

While in Middletown, the young book agent had one experience which was
amusing in the extreme. He called on an old gentleman, who seemed to be
much pleased to see him.

“I would like to show you a set of famous novels,” said our hero, and
brought forth his sample book.

At this the old gentleman nodded and smiled.

“As you can see, these novels are well illustrated,” went on the young
book agent. “Each illustration is by a well-known artist, so the set of
books is quite valuable for the pictures alone.”

Again the old gentleman nodded and smiled quietly.

“I will tell you of the merits of each volume,” pursued Frank, and
launched forth in a description that lasted ten or fifteen minutes. The
old gentleman appeared to be very attentive, but made no reply to what
was said.

“Now, sir, don’t you think you want this set of books?” asked the young
agent at last.

Still the old gentleman made no reply. But he drew a pad from his
pocket, and with a pencil, wrote the following:

“I am deaf and dumb. What did you show me the books for?”

“Well, I never!” murmured our hero to himself, and then, realizing the
humor of the situation, he burst into a merry laugh. “Here I’ve been
talking my prettiest, and this man hasn’t heard a single word.” And he
laughed again.

A moment later he took the pad and wrote down that he wanted to sell a
set of the books. But the old man shook his head, and wrote in reply:

“I never buy books. I borrow them from my children.”

“In that case, I’ll bid you good-day,” said Frank, and gathering up his
books, he bowed himself out of the house. Ever after he had to laugh
when he thought of the deaf and dumb man, and he often told the joke as
a good one on himself.

From Middletown our hero went to Paterson, and then returned to the
vicinity of his home.

One day he went over to the village of Oakwood to see what he could
sell. Here, on the main street, he ran into Bobby Frost.

“Hullo!” cried the boy who had once run away from home. “What are you
doing here?”

“I am trying to sell books,” replied Frank. “How are you, Bobby?”

“First-rate. I’m going to school again.”

“I suppose you chop the wood, too,” went on our hero, with a faint
smile.

“You just bet I do,” ejaculated Bobby. “I’m glad to do most anything
now.”

“I hope you got home safe.”

“I did. But, say, dad did give me an everlasting thrashing for running
away,” added Bobby. “I’ll never forget it.”

“I think you’ll make more of a fortune around home than in the city,
Bobby.”

“Perhaps I will. Anyway, I’ve given up reading those trashy five- and
ten-cent libraries.”

“That’s a good job done.”

“Come on over to my house,” went on the younger boy. “I guess the folks
will be glad to see you. I told them all about you.”

“Where do you live?”

“In that white house over yonder.”

“All right; I’ll go,” answered our hero. “Maybe your folks will want to
buy some books,” he continued.

“Perhaps. Mother is a great reader—when she gets time. But she doesn’t
care for what they call sensational literature.”

“I’ve got a set of famous novels which may please her. They are not in
the least sensational,” answered Frank.

FRANK found that Bobby Frost had a very nice home indeed, and he
wondered greatly why the boy had ever dreamed of leaving it to go to the
city on a wild-goose chase.

Mrs. Frost was a kindly-looking woman, while her husband was rather
silent and stern, although just and good.

“Yes, Bobby has confessed what you did for him,” said Mrs. Frost, after
the young book agent was introduced. “You were more than kind, and I
shall never forget you.”

“Perhaps a few days in the city would have done him no harm,” came from
her husband. “He would speedily have discovered that to make a fortune
is not so easy. How are you getting along with your book selling?”

“Very well,” answered our hero, and related a few particulars.

“Don’t you ever have folks set the dog on you?” asked Bobby. “I’ve read
about that being done.”

“No; I’ve never met a savage dog yet,” answered Frank. “But, then, you
must remember, I haven’t been at the business very long.”

“Let us hope you never meet a savage dog,” answered Mrs. Frost with a
shudder. “I had an experience once which I will never forget.”

“Why, ma, you never told me about it,” cried Bobby.

“It was when I was a schoolgirl. I was going to school across the fields
when a big hound belonging to Deacon Brown came after me. I ran as hard
as I could, and then got into an apple tree that was standing near.”

“Did the dog tree you?”

“He did, and kept me there nearly an hour. I called as loudly as I
could, and at last the deacon came to the place to learn what was the
matter. He called the dog off and chained him up, and then I came down
out of the tree. But I was so scared I did not get over it for several
days.”

It was nearly dinner time, and Frank was asked by both Mr. and Mrs.
Frost to remain to the meal.

“Oh, yes, you must stay,” put in Bobby. “And you must show my folks your
books. Ma, he says he has a set of famous novels that you might like,”
he went on, to his parent.

“Yes, I should like to look at your books,” answered Mrs. Frost.

In Frank’s honor the dinner was made quite an elaborate one, and it is
perhaps needless to state that our hero did ample justice to all that
was set before him. While eating, he related some of the adventures he
had had on the road while selling books, and even Mr. Frost was
interested in his narrative.

“There are lots of ups and downs in the business, just as in every
venture,” said he. “But so long as you make a good living you need not
complain.”

“On the contrary, I am very well satisfied,” answered Frank.

The meal over, our hero brought out his samples of books, and the whole
family looked them over. The cattle and poultry work particularly
interested Mr. Frost, and he said he would take a volume, especially as
it seemed so up-to-date.

“I have one book, but it is twenty years old,” said he. “I have wished
for a new one for some time.”

“This set of famous novels is really valuable,” came from Mrs. Frost.

“Would you like to have it?” questioned her husband.

“If you think we can afford it. It will give us plenty of good reading
during the long winter.”

“Then I’ll put my name down for a set,” said Mr. Frost, and did so on
the spot. He was bound to show Frank that he appreciated what the young
book agent had done for his son.

Our hero remained at the Frosts’ home for several hours and then left to
see what he could do in the village. Bobby went with him, and as he
begged to carry the case, Frank allowed him to do so.

“Do you expect to be a book agent all your life?” questioned the younger
boy.

“Hardly, Bobby.”

“What do you expect to do later?”

“If I ever get money enough, I’ll open a store and publish books
myself.”

“If you do that, I’ll write to you for a job.”

“All right, Bobby; perhaps I’ll be able to employ you,” said Frank.

After a hard day’s canvassing, our hero obtained two orders for the
health book, and then left by train for home. He reached Claster at nine
o’clock, and found his brother and sister on the point of retiring.

“So you thought you’d come home to-night,” said his mother, as she
kissed him. “I looked for you all afternoon.”

“I stopped to do some business at Oakwood, mother. How is father?”

“He is improving slowly.”

Just then Mr. Hardy came downstairs, and Frank went to meet him.

“Why, father, you walk almost as good as you ever did,” he cried.

“Yes, Frank; but I get tired very soon.”

“How do you feel otherwise?”

“Fairly well.”

“Have you heard anything more of Jabez Garrison or from the railroad
company?”

“Nothing from that rascal, Garrison. The railroad sent their lawyer to
see Mr. Begoin.”

“And what was the result?”

“He told them that I would accept two thousand dollars. Their lawyer
offered twelve hundred.”

“He didn’t accept it, did he?”

“No; he told the railroad man it must be two thousand, or we would bring
suit.”

“And Mr. Begoin thinks you will get it?”

“He does.”

“I hope you do, father.”

“Yes. As I have said in my letter to you, it will be a big lift.”

“Have you any idea what you will do when you get well?”

“Not exactly. It depends on how much money I can get together. I’ll have
a big doctor’s bill to pay, remember. And I don’t think my foot will
ever be as strong as it once was.”

Ruth and little Georgie wanted to see Frank, and he told them of what
luck he had had since he had been home before.

“Oh, isn’t it just splendid!” cried Ruth.

“I’m going to be a book agent when I’m as big as Frank,” came from our
hero’s little brother.

“And how are you getting along in school?” asked Frank.

“My card averaged ninety-four last month,” said Ruth.

“I’m next to the top of the class,” said little Georgie.

“That’s good. Get all the education you can, for that is what
counts—I’ve found that out.”

“Frank, you must find some way of going to high school this winter,”
said Mrs. Hardy.

“Oh, if I can’t go this winter I’ll go next,” he replied. “Wait till
father gets into business again.”

It was not until the next day that he told his folks how well he had
done by selling both new and old books, and of how he had obtained a
hundred dollars from the Windhams. They were both astonished and
gratified.

“Why, Frank, you are surely making a fortune!” cried his father. “I
never dreamed you would do half so well.”

“It beats tending the feed store, doesn’t it, father?”

“Indeed it does. No feed store in Claster could make as much money as
you’ve been making.”

“I’m going to put the money in the savings’ bank.”

“Yes; that’s an excellent idea, for then it will be drawing interest.”

“But I am going to give mother half of it,” went on our hero.

“Oh, Frank, I didn’t expect this,” ejaculated Mrs. Hardy.

“But I earned the money for you and father, mother,” he answered.

He insisted upon giving his mother the money, and she put it away, to be
used as occasion required.

The next morning Frank was busy sending out orders for books, and
writing Mr. Vincent a letter concerning some old books he had purchased.
When he went downtown to post the letters he stopped at a grocery store
for some coffee and sugar.

“They tell me you are trying to sell books, Frank,” said the shopkeeper,
as he weighed out the coffee.

“Yes, Mr. Glasby.”

“That’s rather a poor business to be in, ain’t it?” And Mr. Glasby eyed
Frank sharply through his spectacles.

“I don’t think so.”

“You’d do better to stay home and help your folks, or get a steady job
in Claster.”

“What do you think a steady job would pay me?” asked Frank.

“Oh, maybe four or five dollars a week. And even if it was only three it
might help your mother a good bit.”

“I can make more money selling books.”

“More than four or five dollars a week!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not every week,” was the storekeeper’s comment.

“Yes, sir, every week—and more than twice five dollars, too,” went on
Frank, with just a bit of triumph in his tone.

“You don’t say so! Maybe you’re joking me?”

“No, sir; I am telling you the truth.”

“Do you mean to say you can make ten dollars a week steady selling
books?”

“I have made more than that since I started. Of course, some weeks I
fell behind a little, but the average is above that figure, and some
weeks I made big money.”

“How big?” asked Mr. Glasby, faintly.

“I cleared fifty-six dollars one week, and forty-eight dollars another
week.”

“Are you telling the truth?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, it does beat all! I thought book selling was worse than fiddling
for a living.”

“It’s all in the way you go at it. Some fiddlers and some book agents
don’t make their salt, but others make money. I’ve heard of one
violinist in New York who gets five hundred dollars a night.”

“That’s a fairy tale, Frank.”

“I don’t think so. He is known as a very celebrated artist.”

“Humph! Well, do you expect to make five hundred dollars a day selling
books?”

“I do not. But I expect to make a good deal more than four or five
dollars per week at it, Mr. Glasby.”

“I’ve heard tell that some famous men were once book agents.”

“And it is true.”

“Well, I wish you success, Frank. But I never would have believed it,
never! Bring your books around here some day and maybe I’ll buy one from
you.”

“Thank you; I’ll bring the samples the next time I come,” answered our
hero, and walked from the store with his purchases.

WHEN Frank reached the post office, he found several letters for his
parents and himself. One was post-marked Charleston, and was in the
handwriting of his brother Mark.

“Hullo! Mark must have reached the United States at last,” he said to
himself. “Wonder when he will be home?”

He knew his parents would be anxious to read the communication, so
hastened home without delay.

“Here is a letter from Mark!” he called out, and this brought his mother
and his father to the dining room.

“Let me see the letter, Frank,” said his mother, and he cut it open for
her. “I’ll read it aloud,” she added, and walked to the window, to get
the benefit of the light.

The communication ran as follows:

“DEAR FOLKS AT HOME: I suppose you will all be glad to know that I
am back in the United States safe and sound once more. I trust this
finds you all well.

“We had a good trip from, Cuba, and are now unloading a portion of
our cargo here. As soon as that is done, we shall take some new
cargo aboard, and then sail for Philadelphia, where my trip will
come to an end. I reckon I have had enough of the ocean for the
present, and shall either go to school again or else get something
to do ashore. A life on the ocean wave is all well enough in a story
book, but when you’ve got to be on deck in all sorts of weather, and
put up with any old kind of grub, it’s a different story. And they
tell me the food on this brig is as good as the average vessel.

“I have got a whole lot to tell when I get home, so I will not take
the time to put it down on paper. But there is one thing I must
write about. I may be making a mistake, but I don’t think so.

“It’s about that Jabez Garrison, who ran away from Philadelphia with
some funds belonging to a benevolent association. I read the
newspaper clippings Frank sent me, carefully, and also read what
father wrote about him. I also kept the picture one of the papers
printed of the rascal.

“Unless I am greatly mistaken, this Jabez Garrison is in Charleston.
I was knocking around town yesterday, taking in the sights, when I
stopped into a restaurant for a bite. Some men were there, and two
at a table near me. Evidently they had just run across one another,
and each seemed to be glad to see the other.

“These men talked of going to California, to a place called San
Margella, wherever that is. The little chap was called Flecker, and
he addressed the other man once as Garrison, and then again as
Jabez. Both spoke of being in Philadelphia some time ago. The fellow
called Flecker, or Becker, said he had been to Goshen, to the horse
races, and out in Pennsylvania. The other man, Garrison, said he had
been to Boston and down the Maine coast. Both acted as if they knew
each other well and had been in some shady transactions together.

“I didn’t know what to do. If I had been sure this Garrison was the
man you were after, I would have had him arrested, but both of the
men went out, and in a crowd on the street I lost sight of them.

“Before they went away, however, they arranged to meet at a place
called the Planters’ House, a week from to-day. Flecker said he had
business to attend to in New York, and Garrison said he would lay
low until his pal got back.

“If there is anything in this let me know. Shall I notify the police
or what?”

“It must be Jabez Garrison!” cried Frank.

“I believe you are right, my son,” answered Mr. Hardy. “And if so, we
ought to notify the police without delay.”

“And the most wonderful part of it is, that other man must be Gabe
Flecker,” went on our hero.

“There may be some mistake,” put in Mrs. Hardy, timidly. “Thomas, you
must not have an innocent man arrested.”

“You are right there, Margy. If I did that, it might cost me a pretty
penny for damages. I wish I was well enough to go down to Charleston.
I’d take the first train.”

“Let me go, father!” cried Frank, quickly. “It’s just the thing! Why
didn’t I think of it before?”

“Are you sure you would know Jabez Garrison?”

“Positive, father. Haven’t I seen him a number of times, when he called
at the store?”

“It is a long trip to Charleston, South Carolina,” came from Mrs. Hardy.

“I shouldn’t mind it in the least, mother. Besides, remember Mark is
there. I can telegraph to him that I am coming on.”

“Yes, you might do that.”

“I’ll go down to the railroad station at once and see when I can get a
train,” went on the young book agent, enthusiastically. “And I’ll send
the telegram, too.”

The matter was talked over for a few minutes longer, and it was decided
that our hero should really take the trip south. Without loss of time
the telegram was prepared, and he hurried off to the station with it.

“Want to go to Charleston?” queried the ticket agent. “That’s rather a
long trip, Frank.”

“Yes. How soon can I go?”

“You can make a connection at Philadelphia in two hours and forty
minutes.”

“That will just suit me. Now let me know how much this telegram will
cost.”

The telegram ran as follows:

“Am starting to-night for Charleston. Keep your eye on Garrison.

“FRANK.”

The telegram paid for and sent, our hero raced back to the house. His
mother had already brought forth a dress-suit case, and into this were
packed such articles as he thought that he might need. Then he placed
ample funds in his pocket, and kissed his mother and his sister good-by,
and shook hands with his father and little Georgie.

“Now, be sure and keep out of danger,” said Mr. Hardy, on parting. “I’d
rather have Garrison escape than that you should come to grief.”

“Yes, keep out of all danger,” pleaded his mother.

The train was coming into the station when Frank reached the ticket
office once more. He purchased a ticket for Philadelphia, and was the
last to get aboard. A moment more and Claster was left behind, and the
long journey to South Carolina was begun.

Earlier in the year the journey would have made Frank feel strange, but
knocking around as an agent had given him confidence in himself, and he
felt quite at home as he settled back in his seat, and reviewed the
situation.

“I hope that fellow does prove to be Jabez Garrison and that the other
chap is Gabe Flecker,” he said to himself. “It will be killing two birds
with one stone.”

It was growing dark when the Quaker City was reached. At the main
railroad station on Broad Street, Frank obtained a ticket to Charleston,
and also a berth in a sleeping car. He had barely time to get his supper
at a nearby lunch room, when his train came in and he got aboard.

It was a misty night, so but little could be seen of the landscape.
Frank sat up for a while to read, and then went to bed. He slept
soundly, and got up about seven o’clock.

“We must be pretty well south by this time,” he thought. He was
tremendously hungry, and after making his toilet, waited impatiently for
the dining car to be taken on.

“First call for breakfast!” was the welcome cry a little later, and he
made his way towards the dining car, which was at the rear end of the
rather long train. To get to it he had to pass through two sleepers.
Here some of the folks were not yet up, and he had to take care so as
not to disturb them.

He was passing through the last sleeper, when a man emerged from behind
the heavy curtains of a berth and bent over a hand-bag which rested in
the aisle. The man’s back was toward Frank, but a single glance showed
our hero that the individual was Gabe Flecker.

“GABE FLECKER, by all that is wonderful!” murmured the young book agent
to himself.

He was about to accost the fellow, but suddenly changed his mind, and
passed on to the dining car without letting the rascal catch sight of
his face.

“When will this train make the next stop?” he asked of a train hand.

The man consulted his watch.

“In about two hours and a half.”

“Thank you.”

Frank sat down to his breakfast in a corner of the dining car. He had
scarcely begun eating when Gabe Flecker came in, accompanied by a man
who looked to be a Southern planter. The pair went to the table next to
the one our hero occupied, and Flecker sat down with his back directly
behind that of the young book agent.

“Yes, Mr. Lee, this real-estate deal will make you a rich man,” Frank
heard Flecker remark, during the course of the meal. “It is really one
chance out of a hundred.”

“You are certain that the property is free and clear?” questioned the
planter.

“Perfectly clear, sir—I’ll give you my personal guarantee.”

“And you are authorized to sell the land for eight thousand dollars?”

“That’s the figure—providing I can get a customer this week. You see,
the family need ready money, otherwise they would hold out for ten or
fifteen thousand dollars. It’s a snap—the biggest snap I ever heard of,”
went on Gabe Flecker, glibly.

“It is certainly a low figure,” replied Mr. Lee. “Colonel Moss wanted to
buy the place three years ago, and they asked sixteen thousand dollars.”

“Then you will take the property?”

“I reckon I will. I’ll think it over first, though.”

“You had better make a deposit and close the bargain. If you don’t I’ll
have to offer it to somebody else.”

“I see.” The planter stroked his beard for a moment. “Well, I reckon
after all I’ll take it. I’ve always wanted the place.”

“And you will make a deposit now, to bind the bargain?”

“How much of a deposit?”

Gabe Flecker hesitated. In his mind he was wondering how much the old
planter had with him.

“I was told to get a deposit of a thousand dollars if I could,” he said,
slowly.

“I have only four hundred and fifty dollars with me, Mr. Wardell.”

“Then I’ll take that. Of course you’ll be prepared to pay the balance by
a week from to-day?”

“Yes—as soon as I can get a clear deed. But I can’t let you have more
than four hundred. I must keep some money for traveling expenses.”

“All right; I’ll take the four hundred dollars,” said Gabe Flecker,
quickly. “I’ll write you out a receipt at once. I don’t generally do
business when I am eating, but I’ll make an exception this time.”

The old planter brought forth a large wallet, and counted out four
hundred dollars in twenty-dollar bills. In the meantime, Gabe Flecker
began to write out a receipt, which he signed Thomas C. Wardell, Agent
for the Paramore Estate.

“There’s the receipt,” said he, and passed it over. As he did so, Frank
arose and confronted him.

“Wait a minute, please,” he said to the planter. “Don’t pay any money to
this man.”

“What do you mean?” began Gabe Flecker, and then, as he recognized our
hero, he stared as if he saw a ghost.

“What’s the trouble?” came from Gasper Lee.

“This man is not a real-estate agent. He is a swindler.”

“A swindler!” cried the planter, and put his hand to his hip pocket, as
if to draw a pistol.

“Don’t shoot!” cried Gabe Flecker, in alarm. “It—it’s a mistake. I—er—I
don’t know this boy.”

“This man is Gabe Flecker, and he is wanted by more than one person for
swindling,” continued Frank, calmly. “You had better have nothing to do
with him.”

“Doesn’t he hail from Charleston?”

“Not at all. The last I heard of him he escaped from the police of
Goshen, New York.”

“Is it possible!” The planter put his money away.

Seeing this action, Gabe Flecker started to tear up the receipt he had
written. But, like a flash, Frank drew it from his grasp.

“Hi! give that back!” roared the swindler.

“Not just yet, Mr. Flecker.”

“If you don’t give it back I’ll make it hot for you.”

“You are sure you are right, young man?” questioned the planter,
sharply.

“I am.”

“Then the best thing we can do is to have this fellow held for the
police.”

“Exactly.”

“Will you be a witness against him? I personally cannot prove that he is
not what he pretends to be.”

“Of course, I’ll be a witness against him. I am well acquainted with a
gentleman—an ex-mayor of a New Jersey town—who was swindled out of
sixty-five dollars by this fellow. He got my friend’s autograph, and
then used the autograph on a check.”

“The scoundrel!”

“It’s all a mistake!” roared Gabe Flecker. “I never swindled anybody out
of a cent.”

By this time a crowd was beginning to collect, and the conductor of the
train came hurrying to the spot.

“You can’t quarrel here,” he said. “Come to the smoker.”

“I am willing,” said Frank, and Gasper Lee said the same. As there
appeared to be no help for it, Gabe Flecker marched to the smoker.
There, surrounded by a number of men, our hero told his story, and
Gasper Lee related how he had met Flecker in New York, and how the
sharper had gotten into his good graces, and mentioned some valuable
property on the outskirts of Charleston as being for sale.

“I should have handed over my money had it not been for this young man,”
concluded the planter. “I was fairly talked into making a bargain with
this rascal.”

“Were you going through to Charleston?” asked the conductor of Gabe
Flecker.

“I was; but I guess I’ll get off at the next station, now,” growled the
swindler.

“If you do, I’ll put you in the hands of the police,” came from Gasper
Lee.

“Just what I have in mind to do,” added Frank.

The matter was talked over for several minutes, and at last it was
decided that the swindler, Frank, and the planter, should get off at the
next station, which was Greensboro. A brief stop was made at a small
crossing, where there was a telegraph office, and a message was sent to
the Greensboro police to be on hand when the train arrived.

“Just wait; I’ll even up with you, some day, young man,” said Gabe
Flecker to Frank, when he saw that further resistance for the time being
was useless.

“I am not afraid of you, Flecker.”

“How did you happen to be on this train?”

“That is my business.”

“Were you following me?”

“Perhaps I was.”

“If you were, I don’t see why you didn’t have me arrested between New
York and Philadelphia.”

“Let me ask a question. How did you happen to go south?”

“That is my business.”

“Were you going to swindle somebody in Charleston?”

“No; I was going down there to meet an old friend.”

“Who is it?”

“I’m not telling you, Hardy,” growled Gabe Flecker, and then would say
no more.

It was not long after this that Greensboro was reached and the train
came to a halt. Two policemen were at the station, and the swindler was
handed over to them, and Frank and Gasper Lee accompanied the officers
and their prisoner to the station house. Here a formal complaint was
made against Gabe Flecker, and Frank told all he knew about the man.

“You will have to be detained as witnesses,” said the officer who took
charge of the case. “That is, unless you can furnish satisfactory
security for your appearance when wanted.”

“Do you mean you’ll lock me up as a witness?” ejaculated our hero.

“We’ll have to detain you, and also Mr. Lee.”

“But I must get to Charleston as soon as I can,” urged the young book
agent.

At this the officer of the law shrugged his shoulders.

“I am sorry for you, but I cannot do otherwise than my duty in this
matter.”

“That’s right; lock him up,” came from Gabe Flecker, who enjoyed the
quandary in which our hero was thus placed.

Frank’s heart sank within him. This was a situation of which he had not
dreamed. He had caught Gabe Flecker, but by doing so, it was possible
that he would miss catching that greater rascal, Jabez Garrison.