LITTLE Jack had been fitted with a pair of shoes, and Mark had settled
for them, when the little boy chancing to look towards the entrance of
the store, was almost paralyzed by the sight of Peggy and Lyman looking
in at the window. His eyes were good, and he could read on Peggy’s face
a malicious exultation, which boded ill for him when he should again
find himself in her clutches.
Mark, who had not seen them, noticed the fear upon the face of his
little charge.
“What’s the matter, Jack?” he asked.
“It’s them!” answered Jack, hoarsely.
“Who’s them?”
“Peggy—and the gentleman.”
“Where are they?”
“Looking in at the winder.”
Mark had his wits about him, and did not turn round. He wished Peggy and
her confederate to think themselves undiscovered, while he rapidly
considered what was best to be done.
Should he leave the store by the front door, Jack would at once be
pounced upon by Peggy, and there would be a scene.
He might eventually recover Jack, but in the meantime the boy would be
ill-treated, stripped of his good clothes, and perhaps carried out of
the city. Just as success seemed assured, he was confronted by defeat.
What was to be done?
Mark was not a boy to give in, unless compelled to do so. An idea came
to him.
“Jack,” he said in a low voice, “don’t look towards the window again.
Don’t let them know you have seen them.”
“You won’t let Peggy get hold of me!” said the boy in a trembling voice.
“Not if I can help it.”
Turning to the salesman who had waited upon him, Mark said:
“There are some people at the door that I want to avoid meeting. Is
there any back entrance to the store?”
“Yes,” answered the clerk.
“Will you be kind enough to guide us to it?”
“Don’t look behind you, Jack, but come with me. Don’t be alarmed!”
The salesman guided them to a door opening on a narrow street. Boxes of
goods were so piled up, that this door could not be seen from the window
into which Peggy and Lyman were looking.
“Where are they going?” Peggy asked.
“To look at some goods in the back part of the store,” answered Lyman.
This reassured Peggy, who kept her position, feeling sure that Jack
could not escape her when he came out.
“I’ll sell his new clothes,” she thought complacently. “I’ll be in luck
after all.”
Once out of the store, Mark looked about him. He felt that it behooved
him to get beyond the reach of Jack’s pursuers as soon as possible.
Circumstances favored him. Just at the head of the street, he saw a lady
descend from a hack.
“Hurry up, Jack,” he said. “We’ll get into this cab.”
The driver was about to drive away, after settling with his fare, when
Mark hailed him.
“Are you unengaged?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.”
“Can you drive me at once to the Union Depot in Van Buren Street?”
“Yes, sir.”
He dismounted from the box, opened the door for his next passengers, and
they got in. Then resuming his place on the box, he drove rapidly away.
It so chanced that he passed by the front of the very store from which
they had just emerged.
Little Jack stole a glance out of the window of the cab.
“There’s Peg!” he said.
Following his example, Mark also caught sight of the two with their
faces glued to the window, still looking in, unconscious that their prey
had escaped them.
Mark smiled. He felt like a victor, and rather enjoyed the thought of
having outgeneraled the fox.
“I hope they’ll have a good time watching for us, Jack,” he said.
The little boy still felt nervous.
“Do you think they’ll catch me?” he asked.
“No, Jack, I think they’ll get left this time.”
The cab made its way rapidly through the crowded streets, and in a very
short time drew up at the Union Depot.
Mark paid the driver, and accompanied by Jack, made his way to the
ticket office.
“How soon will there be a train East?” he asked.
“In ten minutes.”
“That will suit us, Jack.”
He bought tickets, and, the cars being ready, they took their seats in a
comfortable car of the Lake Shore and Michigan Railroad.
“If they should come here!” suggested Jack, nervously.
“They would have to run fast, if our train leaves on time. There is no
danger, Jack. Even if they suspect that we have left the store, they
wouldn’t know where we are gone.”
Still, even Mark felt relieved and reassured when the signal was given
and the long train began to steam out of the depot.
“Wouldn’t you like to go back and bid Peggy good-by?” he asked,
“I hope I shall never see Peggy again,” answered the little boy,
“If you ever do, there won’t be any danger of her doing you any harm.
Your grandfather will take care of that.”
In his hurry to leave the city, Mark had been compelled to leave his
bill at the hotel unpaid, but his valise was left behind as security. At
the first opportunity he telegraphed to the land-lord, promising to
remit the necessary money, and asking him to hold the valise till
instructed where to send it by express.
We will now go back to Peggy and Lyman, who were impatiently maintaining
their watch at the window of the shoe store.
When fifteen minutes had passed, and Jack and Mark did not appear, they
became alarmed.
“Where are they?” muttered Peggy. “It’s long enough they are stayin’.”
“You are right, Peggy.”
Just then a policeman tapped him on the shoulder. He had been watching
them for some time and their conduct seemed to him suspicious.
“What are you doing here, my man?” he asked, suspiciously. “You had
better move on.”
“We are waiting for some one to come out,” answered Lyman.
“How long do you mean to wait? Is this woman with you?”
“Yes,” answered Lyman, reluctantly, for he was not proud of his
companion, whose appearance was hardly calculated to do him credit.
“Shure, my little bye has been shtole,” she put in, “and he’s in the
store now wid the man that shtole him.”
“Then you’d better go in and claim him instead of standing here and
blocking up the sidewalk.”
“I think I will follow your advice,” said Lyman. “Will you be kind
enough to stay here a minute, in case I need your help?”
“Very well; only be quick.”
Lyman entered the store, and failing to see Jack and Mark, addressed one
of the salesmen.
“Two boys were in here a short time since,” he said; “one large one and
one small one. Can you tell me where they are?”
It happened that the salesman addressed was the same one who had guided
the boys to the back entrance. At least fifteen minutes had elapsed, and
there would be no danger in telling the truth.
“They went away some time since,” he answered.
“They did not go out the front door, for I’ve been there all the time.”
“There’s another door,” quietly retorted the clerk.
“Where?” asked Lyman, in dismay.
“In the rear of the store.”
“Sold, by thunder!” exclaimed Lyman, under his breath. “How long have
they been gone?”
“Fifteen minutes. Were they friends of yours?”
“The small boy was my son,” answered Lyman, unblushingly.
“And was the woman I saw with you at the window his mother?” asked the
salesman, with a smile.
“Certainly not,” answered Lyman, coloring with indignation. “The older
boy has abducted him.”
“Why didn’t you come in sooner, then?”
“I wish I had.”
Great was Peggy’s dismay when Lyman told her what he had learned. She
had fully decided to beat Jack soundly, and now she was baffled of her
revenge. The two confederates spent the rest of the day in wandering
about the streets of Chicago in search of Jack and his friend, but their
search was in vain.