Luke Harrison had picked up Harry's pocketbook, and, though knowing it to be his, concealed the discovery upon the impulse of the moment.
"What I find is mine," he said to himself. "Of course it is. Harry Walton deserves to lose his money."
It will be seen that he had already decided to keep the money. It looked so tempting to him, as his eyes rested on the thick roll of bills--for, though insignificant in amount, the bills were ones and twos, and twenty in number--that he could not make up his mind to return it.
Luke was fond of new clothes. He wanted to reestablish his credit with Merrill, for he was in want of a new coat and knew that it would be useless to order one unless he had some money to pay on account. He decided to use a part of Harry's money for this purpose. It would be better, however, he thought, to wait a day or two, as the news of the loss would undoubtedly spread abroad, and his order might excite suspicion, particularly as he had been in Harry's company at the time the money disappeared. He therefore put the pocketbook into his trunk, and carefully locked it. Then he went to bed.
Meanwhile, Harry reached Mr. Leavitt's unconscious of the serious misfortune which had befallen him. He went into the sitting room and talked a while with Mr. Leavitt, and at ten o'clock took his lamp and went up to bed. While he was undressing he felt in his pocket for his money, intending to lock it up in his trunk as usual. His dismay may be conceived when he could not find it.
Poor Harry sank into a chair with that sudden sinking of the heart which unlooked-for misfortune brings and tried to think where he could have left the pocketbook.
That evening he found himself under the necessity of buying a necktie at the store, and so had taken it from his trunk. Could he have left it on the counter? No; he distinctly remembered replacing it in his pocket. He felt the need of consulting with somebody, and with his lamp in his hand went downstairs again.
"You haven't concluded to sit up all night, have you?" asked Mr. Leavitt, surprised at his reappearance.
"Are you sick, Harry?" asked Mrs. Leavitt. "You're looking dreadfully pale."
"I've lost my pocketbook," said Harry. .
"How much was there in it?" asked his employer.
"Thirty-three dollars," answered Harry.
"Whew! that's a good deal of money to lose. I shouldn't want to lose so much myself. When did you have it last?"
Harry told his story, Mr. Leavitt listening attentively
"And you came right home?"
"No; Luke Harrison came with me."
"Are you two thick together?"
"Not at all. He doesn't like me, and I don't fancy him."
"What was he talking about?"
"He wanted me to join a sleighing party."
"What did you say?"
"I said I couldn't afford it. Then he charged me with being a miser, as he often does."
"Did he come all the way home with you?"
"No; he left me at Deacon Brewster's. He said he must go back to the store."
"There is something queer about this," said Mr. Leavitt, shrewdly. "Do you want my advice?"
"Yes; I wish you would advise me, for I don't know what to do."
"Then go to the store at once. Ask, but without attracting any attention, if Luke came back there after leaving you. Then ask Mr. Meade, the storekeeper, whether he noticed you put back your pocketbook."
"But I know I did."
"Then it will be well to say nothing about it, at least publicly. If you find that Luke's excuse was false, and that he did not go back, go at once to his boarding place, and ask him whether he saw you drop the pocketbook. You might have dropped it and he picked it up."
"Suppose he says no?"
"Then we must watch whether he seems flush of money for the next few days."
This seemed to Harry good advice. He retraced his steps to the store, carefully looking for the lost pocketbook. But of course, it was not to be seen and he entered the store troubled and out of spirits.
"I thought you went home, Harry," said Frank Heath.
"You see I am here again," said our hero.
"Time to shut up shop," said Mr. Meade, the storekeeper. "You boys will have to adjourn till to-morrow."
"Where's Luke Harrison?" asked Frank Heath.
"Didn't he go out with you?"
"Yes; but he left me some time ago. He came back here, didn't he?"
"No; he hasn't been here since."
"He spoke of coming," said Harry. "He wanted me to join that sleighing party."
"Good night, boys," said the storekeeper, significantly.
They took the hint and went out. Their way lay in different directions, and they parted company.
"Now I must call on Luke," said Harry to himself."
"I hope he found the pocketbook. He wouldn't be wicked enough to keep it."
But he was not quite so sure of this as he would like to have been. He felt almost sick as he thought of the possibility that he might never recover the money which he had saved so gladly, though with such painful economy. It represented the entire cash earnings of eleven weeks.
Luke Harrison boarded with a Mr. Glenham, a carpenter, and it was at his door that Harry knocked.
"Is Luke Harrison at home?" he inquired of Mrs. Glenham, who opened the door.
"At home and abed, I reckon," she replied.
"I know it's late, Mrs. Glenham, but it is about a matter of importance that I wish to see Luke."
"I reckon it's about the sleighing party."
"No, it is quite another thing. I won't stay but minute."
"Well, I suppose you can go up."
Harry went upstairs and knocked. Ordinarily, Luke would have been asleep, for generally he sank to sleep five minutes after his head touched the pillow; but to-night the excitement of his dishonest intention kept him awake, and he started uneasily when he heard the knock.
"Who's there?" he called out from the bed.
"It's I--Harry Walton."
"He's come about that pocketbook," thought Luke.
"I'm in bed," he answered.
"I want to see you a minute, on a matter of importance."
"Come to-morrow morning."
"I must see you now."
"Oh, well, come in, if you must," said Luke.