The Cash Boy

Author: Horatio Alger

Chapter XIV - Springing the Trap

"I am going to give you a few days’ vacation, Frank," said Mr. Wharton, a fortnight later. "I am called to Washington on business. However, you have got to feel at home here now."

"Oh, yes, sir."

"And Mrs. Bradley will see that you are comfortable."

"I am sure of that, sir," said Frank, politely.

When Frank returned at night, Mr. Wharton was already gone. John Wade and the housekeeper seated themselves in the library after dinner, and by their invitation our hero joined them.

"By the way, Frank," said John Wade, "did I ever show you this Russia leather pocketbook?" producing one from his pocket.

"No, sir, I believe not."

"I bought it at Vienna, which is noted for its articles of Russia leather."

"It is very handsome, sir."

"So I think. By the way, you may like to look at my sleeve-buttons. They are of Venetian mosaic. I got them myself in Venice last year."

"They are very elegant. You must have enjoyed visiting so many famous cities."

"Yes; it is very interesting."

John Wade took up the evening paper, and Frank occupied himself with a book from his patron’s library. After a while John threw down the paper yawning, and said that he had an engagement. Nothing else occurred that evening which merits record.

Two days later Frank returned home in his usual spirits. But at the table he was struck by a singular change in the manner of Mrs. Bradley and John Wade. They spoke to him only on what it was absolutely necessary, and answered his questions in monosyllables.

"Will you step into the library a moment?" said John Wade, as they arose from the table.

Frank followed John into the library, and Mrs. Bradley entered also.

"Frank Fowler," the enemy began, "do you remember my showing you two evenings since a pocketbook, also some sleeve-buttons of Venetian mosaic, expensively mounted in gold?"

"Certainly, sir."

"That pocketbook contained a considerable sum of money," pursued his questioner.

"I don’t know anything about that."

"You probably supposed so."

"Will you tell me what you mean, Mr. Wade?" demanded Frank, impatiently. "I have answered your questions, but I can’t understand why you ask them."

"Perhaps you may suspect," said Wade, sarcastically.

"It looks as if you had lost them and suspected me of taking them."

"So it appears."

"You are entirely mistaken, Mr. Wade. I am not a thief. I never stole anything in my life."

"It is very easy to say that," sneered John Wade. "You and Mrs. Bradley were the only persons present when I showed the articles, and I suppose you won’t pretend that she stole them?"

"No, sir; though she appears to agree with you that I am a thief. I never thought of accusing her," replied Frank.

"Mr. Wade," said the housekeeper, "I feel that it is my duty to insist upon search being made in my room."

"Do you make the same offer?" asked John Wade, turning to Frank.

"Yes, sir," answered our hero, proudly. "I wish you to satisfy yourself that I am not a thief. If you will come to my room at once, Mr. Wade, you and Mrs. Bradley, I will hand you the key of my trunk."

The two followed him upstairs, exulting wickedly in his discomfiture, which they had reason to forsee.

He handed his key to his artful enemy, and the latter bending over, opened the trunk, which contained all our hero’s small possessions.

He raised the pile of clothes, and, to Frank’s dismay, disclosed the missing pocketbook and sleevebuttons in the bottom of the trunk.

"What have you got to say for yourself now, you young villain?" demanded John Wade, in a loud voice.

"I don’t understand it," Frank said, in a troubled tone. "I don’t know how the things came there. I didn’t put them there."

"Probably they crept in themselves," sneered John.

"Someone put them there," said Frank, pale, but resolute; "some wicked person, who wanted to get me into trouble."

"What do you mean by that, you young vagabond?" demanded John Wade, suspiciously.

"I mean what I say," he asserted. "I am away all day, and nothing is easier than to open my trunk and put articles in, in order to throw suspicion on me."

"Look here, you rascal!" said John Wade, roughly. "I shall treat you better than you deserve. I won’t give you over to the police out of regard for my uncle, but you must leave this house and never set foot in it again. It will be the worse for you if you do."

John Wade and the housekeeper left the room, and our hero was left to realize the misfortune which had overwhelmed him.

Frank arose at an early hour the next morning and left the house. It was necessary for him to find a new home at once in order to be at the store in time. He bought a copy of the Sun and turned to the advertising columns. He saw a cheap room advertised near the one he had formerly occupied. Finding his way there he rang the bell.

The door was opened by a slatternly-looking woman, who looked as if she had just got up.

"I see by the Sun you have a room to let," said Frank.

"Yes; do you want to see it now?"

"I should like to."

"Come upstairs and I will show you the room."

The room proved to be small, and by no means neat in appearance, but the rent was only a dollar and a quarter a week, and Frank felt that he could not afford to be particular, so he quick closed the bargain.

The next day, about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, he was surprised at seeing Mrs. Bradley enter the store and thread her way to that part of the counter where her nephew was stationed. She darted one quick look at him, but gave him no sign of recognition. His heart sank within him, for he had a presentiment that her visit boded fresh evil for him.


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Chicago: Horatio Alger, "Chapter XIV - Springing the Trap," The Cash Boy in The Cash Boy Original Sources, accessed July 20, 2024,

MLA: Alger, Horatio. "Chapter XIV - Springing the Trap." The Cash Boy, in The Cash Boy, Original Sources. 20 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Alger, H, 'Chapter XIV - Springing the Trap' in The Cash Boy. cited in , The Cash Boy. Original Sources, retrieved 20 July 2024, from