in the 'cagey', underhand tone [noun?]

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Senior Member
In a W.Trevor short story (widows) there is a paragraph:

'‘Did you locate a receipt, missus?’
He spoke softly, not in the cagey, underhand tone of someone attempting to get something for nothing.
The painter came to ask for a payment which the widow thought her dead husband paid already.
I checked dictionary, 'cagey' is adj, not a noun. What is meaning of 'in the cagey' here? Thanks for your help!
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