Chapter XXVII. The Telltale Ticket
 

Conrad still had the pawnbroker's ticket which he had received in return for the opera glasses, and did not quite know what to do with it. He didn't intend to redeem the glass, and if found in his possession, it would bring him under suspicion. Now that a detective had the matter in charge, it occurred to him that it would be well to have the ticket found in Ben's room.

The two had rooms upon the same floor, and it would, therefore, be easy to slip into Ben's chamber and leave it somewhere about.

Now, it chanced that Susan, the chambermaid, was about, though Conrad did not see her, when he carried out his purpose, and, instigated by curiosity, she peeped through the half-open door, and saw him place the ticket on the bureau.

Wondering what it was, she entered the room after Conrad had vacated it, and found the ticket Conrad had placed there.

Susan knew what a pawnbroker's ticket was, and read it with curiosity.

She saw that it was made out to Ben Barclay.

"How, then, did Master Conrad get hold of it?" she said to herself. "It's my belief he's trying to get Master Ben into trouble. It's a shame, it is, for Master Ben is a gentleman and he isn't."

Between the two boys, Susan favored Ben, who always treated her with consideration, while Conrad liked to order about the servants, as if they were made to wait upon him.

After Conrad had disposed of the pawn ticket, he said carelessly to his mother:

"Mother, if I were you, I'd look into Ben's room. You might find the opera glass there."

"I don't think he'd leave it there. He would pawn it."

"Then you might find the ticket somewhere about."

Upon this hint, Mrs. Hill went up to Ben's room, and there, upon the bureau, she naturally found the ticket.

"I thought so," she said to herself. "Conrad was right. The boy is a thief. Here is the ticket made out to him by name. Well, well, he's brazen enough, in all conscience. Now shall I show it to Cousin Hamilton at once, or shall I wait until the detective has reported?"

On the whole, Mrs. Hill decided to wait. She could delay with safety, for she had proof which would utterly crush and confound the hated interloper.

Meanwhile, the detective pursued his investigations. Of course, he visited Simpson's, and there he learned that the opera glass, which he readily recognized from the description, had been brought there a few days previous.

"Who brought it?" he asked.

"A boy of about sixteen."

"Did he give his name?"

The books were referred to, and the attendant answered in the affirmative.

"He gave the name of Ben Barclay," he answered.

"Do you think that was his real name?" asked the detective.

"That depends on whether he had a right to pawn it."

"Suppose he stole it?"

"Then, probably, he did not give his real name."

"So I think," said Mr. Lynx quietly.

"Do you know if there is a boy by that name?"

"There is; but I doubt if he knows anything about the matter."

"I will call again, perhaps to-morrow," he added. "I must report to my principal what I have discovered."

From Simpson's he went straight to Mrs. Hamilton, who had as yet received no communication from the housekeeper.

"Well, Mr. Lynx," she asked, with interest, "have you heard anything of the glass?"

"I have seen it," was the quiet reply.

"Where?"

"At a well-known pawnshop on the Bowery."

"Did you learn who left it?" asked Mrs. Hamilton eagerly.

"A boy--about sixteen years of age--who gave the name of Ben Barclay."

"I can't believe Ben would be guilty of such a disgraceful act!" ejaculated Mrs. Hamilton, deeply moved.