Escape to the World's Fair

Escape to the World's Fair by Wendy McClure

Book: Escape to the World's Fair by Wendy McClure Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wendy McClure
me, too?” he asked them.
    Out of the corner of her eye she could see Dutch shrugging. “Nope.”
    â€œReally?”
    â€œAin’t much worse for us than it’s always been,” Owney said. He’d pulled a corner of one of his trouser patches loose, and he fiddled with it idly.
    â€œMatter of fact, my brother and I were probably going to sleep in here anyway,” Chicks said. “Since it’s got some straw and all.”
    â€œRight . . . and when you consider that we got to eat our fill of oranges,” Finn added, “I have to say our lot in life has actually improved somewhat.”
    â€œYep,” Dutch agreed.
    â€œOh . . . okay,” Alexander said, sounding relieved. “That’s good.”
    Frances couldn’t pretend to ignore all this anymore, and she turned to face Finn and the other older boys. “Are you just saying that to be nice?” she asked. “Because you don’t have to be nice to Alexander.”
    Finn shook his head. “It’s all the same to us, I tell you. We were being sent off to work in some wretched factory before we met you. And now we’re still being sent off to work in some wretched factory. Only difference is, we got oranges now.” He smiled a thin, sad smile.
    â€œToo bad none of us are going to Wanderville,” Chicks said. “It sounded real nice.”
    â€œBut we can still go—” Alexander started to tell him, but Chicks just shook his head.
    â€œOur mama still needs us to work to pay off her debts. Same with Dutch’s pa, and Owney’s folks.”
    Frances had nearly forgotten that the boys’ families owed money to Edwin Adolphius—or someone who worked for him.
That must be an awful feeling,
she thought. They were all quiet for a moment, and Frances wondered if Alexander was thinking the same thing she was. These boys didn’t mind sleeping in filthy straw in a livestock pen. They were a lot worse off than she and Harold and her friends.
    Finally Alexander spoke up.
    â€œWhat if you could just pay those debts?” he asked the older boys. “Instead of having to work them off.”
    â€œHow?” Dutch muttered. “With what money?”
    â€œReward money,” Alexander said. “Like the money we’re going to get at the World’s Fair. If we can all escape from this boat, that is.”
    Frances caught her breath in surprise and saw Jack and Eli turn around, intrigued. It was an interesting idea—all of them working together to escape the steamboat! And if they split the money, it would help these boys. Maybe she was wrong to think Alexander was so selfish.
    â€œHmm,” Finn said, looking at Alexander. “Tell us more.”
    Jack took out the medallion to show everyone, and Alexander told them all about meeting Zogby and how he’d given them instructions to find a person named Mr. McGee at the World’s Fair and deliver it to him for a reward.
    Owney grinned. “Sounds easy enough.”
    â€œI don’t know,” Dutch said. “It seems a little fishy. Why do you trust this Zogby fellow? You’d only just met him. What if he’s lying?”
    Even though Frances hoped the older boys were willing to help them escape, she had to admit she’d had similar worries about Zogby. She still did, in fact.
    â€œLook, if the fellow’s lying, we still have the medallion,” Jack pointed out. “Which we can sell.”
    The older boys appeared to think about this for a moment and exchanged looks with one another. Finally Finn said, “Okay, we’ll escape with you. But we’re still all going to Wanderville, too, right?”
    â€œOf course!” Alexander exclaimed.
    â€œDo you think we could go there first?” Owney asked.
    â€œWe’re always there!” Harold said.
    Owney dismissed him with a wave of his hand and turned back to Alexander. “I know you’ve

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