Of course great excitement followed among the passengers. The two
gentlemen went below, and soon returned with a quiet-looking man, not
particularly noticeable except for a pair of keen, sharp eyes.
“That’s the detective,” whispered a traveling man whose business
required him to make the journey between New York and Boston twice a
The two gentlemen and the detective went outside, and made an
examination of the stateroom, but didn’t find any traces of the lost
“I’d like to be sure the article is really lost,” said the detective.
“On several occasions I have found that it was only mislaid. In the
present instance there seems really to have been a robbery.”
“There is no doubt of that,” said Margrave ruefully.
“Did you notice any one loitering near the stateroom when you left it?”
“Yes, sir; I observed that a man was leaning over the rail.”
“Ha! we are coming to something. Can you describe him?”
“I am afraid I cannot. You see I had no suspicion that any one was
likely to rob me.”
“Very natural, but rather disappointing! You didn’t casually notice
whether the man was short or tall, or how he was dressed?”
“I think he was tall, and dressed in dark clothing.”
“I fear this is too general to afford much satisfaction. You see most
of the men on board wear dark clothes.”
“I see, Mr. Lynx, that I am not likely to recover the watch.”
“Well, it is doubtful. Still, if you will give me a description of it I
can quietly put it into the hands of the Boston police.”
Mr. Margrave, at the suggestion of the detective, wrote out a
description before he left the boat, and put it into his hands.
“I will keep my eyes open, Mr. Margrave,” continued the detective, “and
notice whether I recognize any professional thief among the passengers.
I know many of those who operate in New York and Boston, and if I meet
one of my old acquaintances shall take the liberty of examining him.”
Fortunately for Peter Kirby the scene of his operations had been at the
West, and though the detective regarded him with some suspicion, for
criminals carry about with them a certain tell-tale look, he did not
feel justified in arresting him. If Margrave had been able to identify
him as the man who had been loitering near the stateroom, of course
that would have simplified matters.
It was not for some time that Dean heard what had happened. On
re-entering the saloon, Dan, the young news agent, said to him:
“Where have you been?”
“Very suspicious. A gentleman occupying an outside stateroom has had
his room entered and robbed.”
“Is that true?” asked Dean in excitement.
“Yes, he made a great fuss about it I saw him going out with the boat
detective, but I don’t think they found out anything.”
Instantly Dean’s mind reverted to the scene at the theater, and the
loss of a pocket-book by one of the patrons of Niblo’s. Was it possible
that Mr. Kirby could be connected with both robberies? It really seemed
that thefts took place wherever he went.
“What was taken?” he asked earnestly.
“A gold watch. The gentleman meant it for his daughter. I think it was
bought at Tiffany’s in New York.”
“I was at a theater last evening,” said Dean, “and as we were coming
out a man ahead of us called out that he had been robbed of his
“Who do you mean by _us_—yourself and your employer?”
“No. A boy was with me—Guy Gladstone.”
“Is he with you here?”
“No, he has gone out West to hunt Indians.”
Dan, the news-agent, laughed.
“He’ll be coming back soon without having seen an Indian, I have no
doubt. I say, Dean, isn’t it rather remarkable that there are robberies
wherever you go?”
“Yes, it is singular,” said Dean in a musing tone.
“It really looks suspicious,” continued Dan. “However, you are my
friend and I won’t give you away.”
“No, don’t!” said Dean, accepting the joke in good humor.
Dean walked away, plunged in thought. Again he went outside, and walked
round to an unfrequented part of the steamer. Suddenly he saw a man in
front of him draw something from his pocket, and with a quick movement
throw it far out upon the water. It was light enough to see that it was
a white pasteboard box of small size.
Rather surprised, Dean scanned the person who had done this, and to his
further astonishment recognized him as Mr. Kirby, his employer.
Turning quickly, Peter Kirby in his turn saw Dean’s eyes fixed upon
him, and he became irritated and alarmed.
“What are you out here for?” he demanded harshly.
“Why, is there any harm in being out here?” asked Dean surprised.
Kirby saw that he had made a false move, and that this unreasonable
taking to task of Dean was likely to excite the boy’s suspicions.
“No,” he answered, calming down, “I don’t know that there is any harm
in being out here, but you might be imprudent and endanger your safety.”
“How, Mr. Kirby?”
“I was once on board a steamer like this, when a boy about your age
came out, got up on the rail, and by a sudden movement of the steamer
was thrown into the water. The poor fellow was drowned.”
“I shan’t imitate his example,” said Dean. “I think he was very
“Well, I haven’t found out yet whether you are prudent or imprudent. I
haven’t known you long enough. I thought it best to warn you, however.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I am going into the saloon, but if you care to remain outside I
have no objection as long as you are careful. I feel a certain
responsibility about you, as you are not used to traveling.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Dean would have been more grateful if he had believed what Mr. Kirby
was saying, but, young and inexperienced though he was, he did not take
much stock in the sudden interest shown in him. He had not noticed that
Mr. Kirby felt any particular solicitude about him in New York, though
there were plenty of scrapes that he might have got into there.
Peter Kirby went back into the saloon, and soon after Dean followed.
He again sought the book table.
“Well,” said Dan, pleasantly, “have you found out the robber?”
Dean shook his head.
“Do you know, or did you hear, whether the stolen watch was in a box?”
“Yes, I heard Mr. Margrave say that it was in a white pasteboard box.
Have you found the box?”
“No,” answered Dean. He did not feel at liberty to tell what he had
seen, but it confirmed him in the idea that his employer, Peter Kirby,
was the robber of the stateroom.
At ten o’clock Mr. Kirby came up to him.
“It is ten o’clock,” he said. “I think you had better go to bed.”
“All right, sir.”
Kirby led the way into the stateroom.
“I shall give you the top berth,” he said. “You are younger, and can
climb up there more easily than I.”
“I shall be satisfied with either,” said Dean.
Both went to bed and Dean was soon asleep.
Towards morning he thought it must be when he woke up. The light was
burning, and peeping out from behind the curtains he saw that Kirby
was standing in the stateroom with something in his hand which he
was examining with evident satisfaction. Dean’s heart gave a sudden
bound, when he recognized this object as a beautiful gold watch of
small pattern. He laid back his head on the pillow, but the slight
noise attracted the attention of Kirby, who looked up to where his boy
companion was lying.
“Pshaw! he’s fast asleep!” he heard Kirby mutter, “but I must be
cautious, as, if he saw this watch, he might suspect something.”
Any lingering doubts Dean might have were of course dissipated by the
sight of the watch. It was evident that his employer was a professional
thief and pickpocket. The question arose, ought he or ought he not to
expose and denounce him?
Should he do so he would find himself adrift, without money or
situation. Moreover, he would lose the chance of proving Kirby the
accomplice of Squire Bates in the robbery of his uncle. On the whole,
he decided to wait, and conceal from Kirby the knowledge that he had
acquired concerning him.
Kirby remained but a day in Boston. What business he attended to Dean
didn’t know. He was left to his own devices, and managed to see Boston
Common, Bunker Hill Monument, and to ride out on a Washington Street
line of cars to Roxbury. Late in the evening he started for Chicago
with Mr. Kirby, and two days later the two registered at the Commercial
Hotel, corner of Lake and Dearborn Streets. Dean enjoyed the journey.
He caught sight of the famous falls of Niagara, and would like to have
stopped for a few hours there to see the cataract at his leisure, but
of course didn’t venture to make such a request of Mr. Kirby, who, as
he knew, was traveling for his own purposes, not for the gratification
of his private secretary.
They reached Chicago in the morning and took breakfast at the hotel.
After breakfast Kirby said, “Come out with me, Dean; I will show you a
little of the city.”
Dean accepted the invitation with alacrity.
The two walked through some of the principal thoroughfares. Dean was
impressed by the large and handsome buildings everywhere to be seen in
the business portions of the city. Finally they turned into a minor
street, lined with smaller and less pretentious structures.
Peter Kirby halted at last before a pawnbroker’s office, with the three
golden balls displayed above the entrance.
“Oh, by the way, Dean,” said Kirby, suddenly, “I am a little short of
money, and must borrow some on an article I don’t need at present.”
“Yes, sir?” said Dean, inquiringly.
“This is a pawnbroker’s office. Take this watch, and ask the pawnbroker
to lend you twenty-five dollars on it. You can give him your own name,
and for address you may say Buffalo.”
“But I don’t live in Buffalo.”
“That doesn’t matter. He will be more apt to let you have the money if
he thinks you came from a distance. It isn’t necessary to give the
Mr. Kirby drew from his pocket the gold watch which Dean had seen in
the stateroom of the Pilgrim, and which he was sure had been stolen
from the elderly gentleman who had complained of being robbed.
Dean started and flushed, as Kirby held the watch in his hand.
“Is that your watch?” he asked.
“No; it belongs to my wife. I shall redeem it before I return East. If
the pawnbroker won’t give you twenty-five dollars, get as much as you
can. You look like a boy sharp at a bargain. Say that it belonged to
“Mr. Kirby,” said Dean, “I would rather not do what you ask me.”
“What do you mean?” demanded Kirby, angrily.
“What I say. I would rather not pawn that watch for you.”
“Look here, boy,” said Kirby, roughly, “are you aware that you are
behaving in a very foolish, not to say impudent manner?”
“I have my reasons for declining,” said Dean.
“Why do you think I pay you wages?” asked Kirby, frowning.
“I understood that I was to be your private secretary.”
“And a mighty easy place you have had so far!”
“That is true, sir.”
“This is almost the first thing I have asked you to do, and you refuse.”
“I told you that I had my reasons for it,” said Dean, resolutely,
though his look was troubled.
“The boy suspects me,” thought Kirby. “It is time I got rid of him.”
“We will discuss this matter hereafter,” he said quietly. “We shall
have to come to an understanding. Stay here till I come out.”
He went into the pawnbroker’s, and in less than five minutes returned
with a roll of bills.
“It appears that I have to do my own work, though you are in my
employ,” he said with a sneer.
Dean didn’t reply. He began to suspect that he would not long retain
the place which he at present filled. He resolved to look about him,
and if he saw anywhere a chance to get into the employ of some one else
to take advantage of it. In a money way he might not do so well, but he
did not wish to remain connected any longer than he could help with a
man of Mr. Kirby’s character.
At the Commercial Hotel, Dean and his employer occupied the same room.
They remained in the Lake City for a week.
Dean’s labors were very light, being confined to the writing of four
letters, one of which is subjoined as a specimen. It was addressed to a
certain John Carver, of San Francisco. It ran thus:
You may sell out the two hundred shares of mining stock which you hold
of mine as soon as a satisfactory price can be obtained. I think I
ought to get twenty dollars per share, but will accept eighteen if you
think it best. The amount you can deposit to my credit in the Bank of
Kirby watched Dean’s face when he was writing this letter. It was
intended for effect simply, and to dispel the suspicions of his young
secretary. But Dean had been gaining rapidly in knowledge of the world,
and especially in the knowledge of his employer, and he had little
belief in his mining property.
“How much do you think that mining stock cost me, Dean?” said Kirby, in
a confidential tone.
“I couldn’t guess, sir.”
“Four dollars and a quarter per share. How much would that be on two
“Eight hundred and fifty dollars.”
“Correct! I see you are quick at figures. Now, even if I sell at
eighteen, and I am certain to get that, I shall make a very tidy
profit. Let me see, it would foot up thirty-six hundred dollars—a
profit of twenty seven hundred, allowing the extra fifty for broker’s
“Are you going to San Francisco, Mr. Kirby?” asked Dean.
“I may; I am not quite sure. It is a lucky city for me. Whenever I go
there I make money.”
Dean could not help wondering whether he made it in the same way as on
the Fall River boat.
“I have been rather short of money lately,” continued Mr. Kirby,
“because I was not willing to sell out my shares except at the top of
the market. However I think I may venture to sell now.”
Dean made no comment He did not believe that Kirby owned any mining
shares at all.
“Shall I mail the letter for you, Mr. Kirby?” asked the young secretary.
“No; I shall be going out myself,” answered his employer. “You may hand
me the letter when you have put it in the envelope.”
Kirby carelessly dropped the letter into his pocket, and when Dean was
out of the way he destroyed it. It was never intended to be mailed.
“The boy looks skeptical,” said Kirby to himself, as he sent Dean to
the office to buy a postage stamp. “It isn’t easy to pull the wool over
his eyes. I must get rid of him, and that soon.”