Page:Betty Gordon in Washington.djvu/200

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"Central." He jiggled the hook frantically in flat defiance of all telephone rules, and he shouted loudly into the transmitter, as though enough noise could rouse the number he sought.

Just at this moment the outer door opened and a man entered. He was a man of middle age with a closely clipped gray moustache and kindly gray eyes. It was Mr. Matthews, the owner of the business.

The little man, seeing him, flung the receiver into the hook with a bang and poured forth a volley of French, emphasized by wild gestures.

After listening for a few moments, Mr. Matthews turned a wondering gaze on the group of subdued looking young people. His expression soon turned to one of amusement.

After a word or two in French to the little man, evidently of thanks for his zeal, he said to Bob and the girls:

"Won't you please tell me your side of the story? I find it hard to believe that you have set forth to rob and steal."

The tale came out with a rush, Bob, Betty, and Bobby taking turns or all talking together, the others, fortunately, being content to let the three tell the story.

Mr. Matthews was sympathetic and apologetic, but he was also amused, and he laughed heartily. It seemed he knew Mr. Littell. The "robber