MARK RECEIVES A TELEGRAM.

“MY good friend,” said Mr. Hardy, “have you any reason to think your
nephew’s statement is to be relied upon?”

“I hope so,” answered Anthony. “I am getting to be an old man, and I
should like to feel that some one of my own blood would survive me, and
profit by a part of the competence which God has bestowed upon me.”

“It may be simply a money-making scheme on the part of Lyman,” said the
agent, thoughtfully. “Finding that he has little chance of becoming your
heir, he wants to secure a handsome reward for restoring to you your
grandson. Why has he not proposed it before?”

“Because he did not know I had any property to leave, or else because he
supposed his own chances of inheriting good. After the last interview
with me, he probably lost the hope of profiting by my death.”

“There is something in what you say, Mr. Taylor. What is your own idea?”

“I would give five thousand dollars, if necessary, to secure the return
of my grandson. It would give me an object to live for.”

“I should be exceedingly sorry to see that sum pass into the hands of
such a rascal as your graceless nephew.”

“Would you offer two thousand?”

“I would hold no serious negotiations with him.”

“But I would run the risk of leaving the poor boy to a life of poverty,
and myself to a lonely old age.”

“My idea is this. I will telegraph to Mark Manning, who is now in St.
Louis, the particulars of your nephew’s offer, with instructions to go
at once to Chicago, find out Lyman, and put a detective on his track. If
his story is true, he probably visits the boy from time to time. In this
way it can be discovered where the boy lives, and steps can be taken to
secure him.”

“I approve of your plan,” said Anthony. “Let it be carried out at once.”

“There will be this advantage,” added Hardy. “Your enterprising nephew
will not realize any benefit from his nice little scheme for trading
upon your affections.”

“Do as you think best, my good friend. Your judgment is always better
than mine.”

John Hardy rapidly penned the following despatch.

“MARK MANNING, Planter’s Hotel, St. Louis: Go at once to Chicago and
find Lyman Taylor. He knows where child is. Employ a detective, and
track him to boy’s residence. Don’t let him suspect your object.
Keep me apprised of your progress.

JOHN HARDY.”

This despatch reached Mark within two hours. He had been in St. Louis
several days, and had learned nothing. Two or three persons had called
upon him with bogus information in the hope of a reward, but he was
sharp enough to detect the imposition. He was beginning to despair of
success when Mr. Hardy’s telegram was received. Mark brightened up. He
saw his way clearer now.

He went out to purchase a ticket for Chicago, and on his return found a
second telegram in these words:

“Lyman admits knowledge of boy, and offers to restore him for five
thousand dollars.”

“I will endeavor to thwart Mr. Lyman Taylor,” said Mark to himself. “He
is a greater rascal than I thought.”

Mark paid his bill and took the next train for Chicago. He arrived late,
and registered at the Fremont House, where he prepared himself for the
difficult work that lay before him by taking a good night’s rest. In the
morning he awoke hopeful and determined, and after breakfast went out to
walk. He had no clue to the where-abouts of Lyman, but thought it
possible he might meet him as he had done before in the streets.

He walked about for two hours, keeping his eyes wide open, but though he
scanned many hundreds of faces, that of Lyman Taylor was not among them.
Yet his walk was to be more successful than he anticipated.

Little Jack still continued his street trade of selling matches. Peggy
was not willing to give up the small revenue she obtained from the boy’s
sales. Sometimes, also, a compassionate passer-by would bestow a dime or
nickel on the boy, pitying him for his thin face and sad expression.
Sometimes, if Tim were not by, he would buy a cheap lunch, for the
scanty rations which he received from Peggy, left him in a chronic state
of hunger.

It was fortunate that the poor boy indulged himself thus, or his feeble
strength would hardly have held out against hunger and hard work
combined.

Unwittingly Jack had made an active enemy in Tim Roach. His refusal to
treat, Tim persuaded himself, was very mean, and his indignation was
increased by the ill-success of his attempt to secure pay for the
information given to Peggy. He was anxious to be revenged upon Jack, and
was only waiting for an opportunity.

Malice generally finds its opportunity after awhile. One day Jack set
down his basket of matches a moment while he ran into a shop to change a
twenty-five cent piece. Tim was close at hand, and slyly secured the
basket, and fled swiftly through a narrow passage-way with his booty. He
had not only secured a stock of merchandise, but he had got Jack into
trouble.

When Jack came out and found his basket gone he was in dismay.

“Who took my basket?” he inquired of an applewoman, who kept a stand
close by.

“There was a bye here just now—bigger than you. He must have run off wid
it when my back was turned away.”

“Where did he go?” asked Jack, anxiously.

“I didn’t mind.”

“What was he like?”

“Shure I’ve seed him here afore wid you. You called him Tim.”

“It was Tim Roach!” exclaimed Jack. “He’s a mean boy. He took it to get
me into trouble.”

“Shure he looks like a thafe.”

The tears started to Jack’s eyes.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said, piteously. “I am afraid Peggy will
beat me when I get home.”

“Who is Peggy?” asked a new voice.

Jack looked towards the speaker. He saw a pleasant-faced boy, apparently
about sixteen.




“She’s the woman I live with,” answered Jack.

“What will she beat you for?” asked Mark, for it was he. He had just
come up, and hadn’t heard of Jack’s misfortune, but his heart was
stirred to sympathy, by the sadness visible upon the little boy’s face.

“For losing my matches,” and thereupon Jack told his story to his new
acquaintance.

“How much were the matches worth?” asked Mark.

“There were fourteen boxes. They cost me three cents a piece. Then there
was the basket. That cost a quarter.”

“Do you know where to buy more?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then take this dollar bill, and get a new supply.”

Jack’s little face glowed with gratitude.

“Oh, how kind you are!” he said.

“Do you generally stand here?” asked Mark.

“Yes, sir.”

“Does this Peggy send you out every day?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Is she related to you?”

“I thought she was my aunt,” answered the match boy, “but last evening a
gentleman called on Peggy, I heard them talking when they thought I was
asleep,” Jack continued in a lower tone. “I heard the gentleman say I
had a grandfather living at the East, and that he would pay a good sum
to get hold of me. I wish he would, for Peggy doesn’t give me enough to
eat, and sometimes she beats me.”

“Tell me about this gentleman,” said Mark in excitement. “Is he tall?”

“Yes, sir.”

“With black hair and whiskers?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you know his name?”

“No, sir; but there he is now!”

Mark followed the direction of the boy’s finger, and he recognized,
though his head was turned, the familiar form of Lyman Taylor on the
opposite side of the street.