Chapter XXXIII. In Brooklyn
 

I fully understood the value of the papers that were contained in the note-book. Mr. Aaron Woodward would not have persecuted me so closely had he not deemed them of great importance.

And when I told Duncan I would keep them, I meant what I said. It might not be right legally, but I was sure it was right morally, and that was enough to quiet my conscience.

"Better keep them?" repeated Duncan, as he sprang to his feet.

"Exactly."

"You have no right to do that."

"I don't know about that. I was arrested for having them, and what's the use of my having the name without the game?"

Duncan sank down on the edge of the bed again.

"If you had spoken to me like that yesterday, I'd have wanted to punch your head," he said. "But you're a good fellow, Roger, and I don't blame you for acting as you do. Do you know what the papers contain?"

"I think I do."

"They concern my father's affairs," he went on uneasily.

"And my father's as well," I added.

"Not so very much."

"I think so."

"Let me show you. Hand the papers over."

"Excuse me, Duncan, if I decline to do so. You, aided by Pultzer and others, stole them from your father's library, and then threw suspicion on me."

"I didn't throw suspicion on you. My father did that himself."

"You had nothing to do with that handkerchief?"

"I took the handkerchief by accident."

"Then I beg your pardon for having said so," I said heartily.

"Never mind, let that pass. I'll tell you what I'll do. Give me the papers and I will restore them to my father and tell him the truth."

"I must decline your offer."

"Why? Don't you believe I'll confess? If you don't I'll give you a written confession."

"No, it isn't that. I am going to keep the papers because they are valuable to me."

"What do you mean by valuable?" asked Duncan, his curiosity increasing.

"Just what I say."

"What will the old gent say when he hears of it?"

"I don't care what he says. He'll hear of a good deal more before long."

"How about the robbery at the Widow Canby's?"

"That will be straightened out, too."

There was a knock on the door, and, opening it, I was confronted by one of the servants.

"Mr. Strong here, sir?" he asked.

"That's my name."

"A gentleman below to see you, sir. Gave his name as Mr. Harrison."

"Tell him I will be down in a minute," I said.

"Now I'm ready to leave you," I went on to Duncan, when the servant had departed. "I advise you to take a good wash, get your breakfast, and take the first train home. Good-by."

"Yes, but, Roger--"

"By doing that you may be doing your father a greater service than in any other way. You say you will turn over a new leaf, and I hope you will. If all goes as it should you will have a hard trial to stand before long. But do as I did when things went wrong in our family, bear up under it, and if you do what's right somebody is bound to respect you."

And, without waiting for a reply, I caught up my hat and hurried from the room.

I found Mr. Harrison waiting for me in the parlor.

"I thought I'd come over early," he explained. "I know young blood is impatient, and I half expected to find you gone."

"I didn't want to make a call before folks were up," I answered. "Besides, I have made quite an important discovery since we parted."

"Indeed."

"Yes. Come away from this place and I'll tell you. I don't want to meet Duncan Woodward again."

And as we walked away from the hotel I related the particulars about the note-book.

"You are gathering evidence by the wholesale," laughed Mr. Harrison. "You'll have more than enough to convict."

"I don't want to make a failure of it," I said firmly. "When I go to court I want a clear case from start to finish."

"Good! Strong, I admire your grit. Come in the restaurant, and while we have a bit of breakfast let us look over the papers. I declare, I was never before so interested in some one else's affairs."

And as we waited for our rolls, eggs, and coffee, we read the papers through carefully.

They gave much information, the most startling of which was that John Stumpy and Ferguson were one and the same person.

"That explains why Mr. Woodward made so many slips of the tongue when addressing him," I said.

"Here is another important thing," remarked Mr. Harrison; "a letter from this John Woodward stating that Mrs. Agatha Mitts knows of the forgeries. Now, if you can get this woman to testify against the two culprits, I think you will have a clear case."

"And that is just what I will force her to do," I said, with strong determination.

I could hardly wait to finish breakfast. Fortunately it did not take Mr. Harrison long to do so, and, five minutes later we were on our way to the ferry. The trip over the East River, near the big bridge, did not take long, and we soon stood on the opposite shore. Vannack Avenue was pretty well up town, and we took the elevated train to reach it.

"There is No. 648," said Mr. Harrison, pointing to a neat three-story brick building that stood in the middle of the block; "let us walk past first, and see if there is any name on the door."

We did so, and found a highly polished silver plate bearing the words:--

MRS. AGATHA MITTS
Boarding

"Perhaps it would be a good plan to find out something about the woman before we call on her," suggested my companion, after we had passed the house.

"There is a drug store on the corner," I said. "We can stop in there. No doubt they'll think we are looking for board."

"An excellent idea."

We walked down to the drug store. On entering, Mr. Harrison ordered a couple of glasses of soda water and then called the proprietor aside.

"Can you tell me anything about the lady that keeps the boarding-house below here?" he asked.

"Which one?"

"Mrs. Agatha Mitts."

"I've heard it's a very good house," was the noncommittal reply.

"You know the lady?"

"She comes in here once in a while for drugs."

"May I ask what kind of a woman she is?"

"Well, she's good enough in her way, though rather eccentric. I understand she furnishes good board, however. She has kept the house for many years."

"Has she many boarders?"

"Eight or ten. She used to have more. But they were rather a lively set and hurt the reputation of the place."

Mr. Harrison paid for the soda, and a second later we quitted the place.

"Not much information gained there," said my Chicago friend, when we were once again on the street.

"One thing is certain," I replied. "She is the right party. It would never have done to have tackled the wrong person."

"I guess the best thing for us to do is to call on the woman without waiting further."

"So I think."

"She may be a very hard person to manage. Strong, you must be careful of what you say."

"I shall, Mr. Harrison," I replied. "But that woman must do what is right or go to prison."

"I agree with you."

Ascending the steps of the house, I rang the bell. A tidy Irish girl answered the summons.

"Is Mrs. Agatha Mitts in?" I asked.

"Yes, sir."

"We would like to see her."

"Will you please step into the parlor?" went on the girl, and we did so.

"Who shall I say it is?"

"Mr. Harrison," put in my Western friend.

"Yes, sir."

The girl disappeared. My heart beat strongly. It seemed to me as if life and death hung upon the meeting that was to follow.