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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesRufus And Rose; Or The Fortunes Of Rough And Ready - Chapter 20. Humpy
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Rufus And Rose; Or The Fortunes Of Rough And Ready - Chapter 20. Humpy Post by :bobbond Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1597

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Rufus And Rose; Or The Fortunes Of Rough And Ready - Chapter 20. Humpy


"I might break the window," thought Rufus; but it occurred to him at once that the noise would probably be heard. Besides, if there was any one in the room below, he would very likely be seen descending from the window. If this plan were adopted at all, he must wait till evening. Meanwhile some other way of escape might suggest itself.

The room was of moderate size,--about fifteen feet square. A cheap carpet covered the floor. A pine bedstead occupied one corner. There were three or four chairs, a bureau, and a bedstead.

Rufus sat down, and turned the matter over in his mind. He couldn't make up his mind what Martin's business was, but decided that it was something unlawful, and that he was either employed by Smith, or connected in some way with him. It seemed to him probable that his step-father, in waylaying him and stealing the tin box, had acted under the direction of Smith, and that probably the box was at that very moment in the possession of the superior villain.

"If I could only find the box and escape with it," thought Rufus, "that would set me right with Mr. Turner."

But there seemed little chance of that. It did not seem very probable even that he could escape from the room in which he was confined, much less carry out the plan he had in view.

While he was thinking over his situation, the key turned in the lock, and the door was opened. Rufus looked up, expecting to see Martin; but instead of his step-father there entered the boy already referred to as Humpy.

Humpy carried in his hand a plate of meat and vegetables.

"Here's your dinner," he said, laying the plate down, while he locked the door behind him.

"Look here, Johnny," said Rufus, "you served me a mean trick."

Humpy chuckled.

"You came in just as innocent," he said. "It was jolly."

"Maybe it is, but I don't see it. You told me a lie."

"Didn't you find the man you was after?" said Humpy.

"You told me he was sick."

"So he is. He's in delicate health, and couldn't go to business to-day."

"What is his business?" asked Rufus, a little too eagerly.

Humpy put his thumbs to his nose, and twirled his fingers with a grin of intelligence.

"Don't you wish you knew?" he said tantalizingly.

"Do you know anything about the tin box?" asked Rufus, seeing that his former question was not likely to be answered.

"Maybe I do."

"It's in this house."

"Oh, is it? Well, if you know that, there's no use of my telling you."

"I can't make much of him," thought Rufus. "He's a young imp, and it isn't easy to get round him."

He looked at Humpy meditatively, and it occurred to him whether it would not be well to spring upon him, snatch the key, release himself from the room, and dash downstairs. So far as the boy was concerned, this plan was practicable. Rufus was much his superior in strength, and could master him without difficulty. But, doubtless, Martin and Smith were below. They would hear the noise of the struggle, and would cut off his flight. Evidently that plan would not work. Another suggested itself to him.

"Johnny," said he, "don't you want to make some money?"

Here he attacked the boy on his weak side. Humpy was fond of money. He had already scraped together about twenty dollars from the meagre pay he received, and had it carefully secreted.

"Of course I do," he answered. "How'm I to do it?"

"I'll tell you. That tin box contained property of value. It doesn't belong to me. It belongs to Mr. Turner, the banker. I was trying to recover it when you got me to come in here this morning. Now what I want to say, is this. Get that tin box for me, and help me to get away with it, and it'll be worth fifty dollars to you."

Fifty dollars! Humpy's eyes sparkled when he heard the sum named; but prudence came to his aid, fortified by suspicion.

"Who's a-goin' to pay it?" he asked.

"Mr. Turner."

"S'posin' he don't?"

"Then I will."

"Where'd you raise the money?"

"I'm not rich, but I'm worth a good deal more than that. I'd rather pay it out of my own pocket than not get back that box."

But if Humpy was fond of money, he had also a rude sense of honor, which taught him to be faithful to his employer. He did want the money, and then there was something in our hero's look that made him pretty sure that he would keep his promise. So he put away the seductive temptation, though reluctantly.

"I aint a-goin' to do it," he said, doggedly.

"Perhaps you'll think better of it," said Rufus, who, in spite of the boy's manner, saw the struggle in his mind. "If you do, just let me know."

"I've got to be goin'," said Humpy, and, unlocking the door, he went out, locking it again directly.

Rufus turned his attention to the dinner, which he found of good quality. Despite his imprisonment, his appetite was excellent, and he ate all there was of it.

"I must keep up my strength at any rate," he said to himself; "I may need it."

Meanwhile, as there was no longer anything to dread, Rufus being a prisoner, Martin went out in the service of his employer.

"Now," thought he, reflecting with satisfaction on his signal triumph over Rufus, "if I only knew where Rose was, I'd go after her, and her brother shouldn't get hold of her again in a hurry. He's got enough to do to take care of himself."

This was pleasant to think about; but Martin had not the least idea where Rose was, and was not likely to find out.

Meanwhile something happened in the counterfeiter's den, which was destined to prove of advantage to Rufus.

Smith sent Humpy out on an errand. The boy was detained unavoidably, and returned an hour later than he was expected. Smith was already in an ill-temper, which the late return of his emissary aggravated.

"What made you so late?" he demanded, with lowering brow.

"I couldn't help it," said Humpy.

"Don't tell me that!" roared Smith. "You stopped to play on the way; I know you did."

"No, I didn't," said Humpy, angrily.

"Do you dare to contradict me, you villanous little humpback?" screamed Smith. "I'll teach you to do it again."

(Illustration: "I'LL TEACH YOU TO DO IT AGAIN.")

He clutched the boy by the collar, and, seizing a horsewhip, brought it down with terrible force on the boy's shrinking form.

"Let me go! Don't beat me!" screamed Humpy, in mingled fear and rage.

"Not till I've cured you," retorted Smith. Twice more he struck the humpbacked boy with the whip, and then threw him on the floor.

"That's what you get for contradicting me," he said.

The boy rose slowly and painfully, and limped out of the room. His face was pale, but his heart was filled with a burning sense of humiliation and anger against the man who had assaulted him. It would have been well for Smith if he had controlled himself better, for the boy was not one of the forgiving kind, but harbored resentment with an Indian-like tenacity, and was resolved to be revenged.

He crawled upstairs to the small attic room in which he usually slept, and, entering, threw himself upon the bed, face downward, where he burst into a passion of grief, shame, and rage, which shook his crooked form convulsively. This lasted for fifteen minutes, when he became more quiet.

Then he got up slowly, and, going to a corner of the room, lifted up a board from which the nails appeared to have been drawn out, and drew from beneath a calico bag. This he opened, and exposed to view a miscellaneous collection of coins, which he took out and counted.

"Twenty dollars and nineteen cents!" he said to himself. "I've been more'n a year gettin' it. That boy offers me fifty dollars,--most three times as much,--if I'll get him the tin box and help him to escape. I said I wouldn't do it; but he hadn't struck me then. He hadn't called me a villanous humpback. Now he's got to pay for it. He'll wish he hadn't done it;" and the boy clenched his fist, and shook it vindictively. "Now, how'll I get the box?"

He sat on the bed thinking for some time, then, composing his countenance, he went downstairs. He resolved to assume his usual manner, in order not to excite Smith's suspicion.

Smith had by this time got over his rage, and was rather sorry he had struck the boy so brutally, for he knew very well that Humpy might prove a dangerous enemy. He glanced at Humpy's face when he came downstairs, but saw nothing unusual.

"Oh, he'll forget all about it," he thought to himself.

"Here's ten cents, Humpy," he said. "Maybe I struck you too hard. Go and buy yourself some candy."

"Thank you," said the boy, taking the money.

"I've another errand for you."

He told what it was.

"Go and come back as soon as possible."

Humpy went quietly, and returned in good season.

About five o'clock, Martin not yet having returned, Smith directed him to carry up our hero's supper. There was a little exultant sparkle in the boy's eye, as he took the plate of buttered bread, and started to go upstairs.

"So it's you, is it?" said Rufus, on the boy's entrance. "Where is Martin?"

"He aint come in yet. Do you want to see him?"

"No, I'm not particular about it."

Humpy stood looking earnestly at Rufus while he was eating the bread and butter. At length he said, "I've been thinkin' over what you said to me at dinner-time. Shall I get the fifty dollars certain sure if I do what you want?"

"Yes," said Rufus, eagerly. "Get me the tin box, and help me to escape, and the money shall be yours."

"Honor bright?"

"Honor bright."

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CHAPTER XIX. IN A TRAPOur hero's first impulse, on finding himself entrapped, was to escape. He sprang towards the door, but Martin quickly grasped him by the arm, and forced him back. "No you don't!" he said, with emphasis. "I want you to stay with me." "Let me go!" exclaimed Rufus, struggling to escape. "Sorry I couldn't oblige you," said Martin, with a grin. "Can't you stay with your sick father a few days?" "You've played me a mean trick," said Rufus, indignantly. "What was you walkin' through this street for?" asked Martin. "Wasn't it because you wanted to see me?"