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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Erie Train Boy - Chapter 8. Mr. Bascom's Sad Plight
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The Erie Train Boy - Chapter 8. Mr. Bascom's Sad Plight Post by :Joshua_Ditty Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1173

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The Erie Train Boy - Chapter 8. Mr. Bascom's Sad Plight

CHAPTER VIII. MR. BASCOM'S SAD PLIGHT

Joshua turned in alarm, fearing that he was in the hands of a policeman.

"What have I done?" he began. Then recognizing Morris, he said, "Why, it's the man who stole my wallet."

"You must be crazy," rejoined Morris. "I charge you with theft."

"Well, that beats all!" ejaculated Joshua. "Just give me back my ten dollars."

"I admire your cheek, my friend," said Morris, "but it won't go down. Where is that ring you stole from my finger?"

"You left it in my pocket when you put in your hand and stole my wallet."

"Ha, you confess that you have got it. Where is it?"

"Give me back my wallet and I may tell you."

"My rural friend, you are in great danger. Do you see that policeman coming up the street? Well, I propose to give you in charge unless you give me back my ring."

"I haven't got it," said Joshua, beginning to feel uneasy.

"Then give me fifty dollars, the sum I paid for it."

"Gosh all hemlock!" exclaimed Joshua impatiently. "You talk as if I was a thief instead of you."

"So you are."

"It's a lie."

"Of course you say so. If you haven't fifty dollars, give me all you have, and I'll let you off."

"I won't do it."

"Then you must take the consequences. Here, policeman, I give this man in charge for stealing a valuable ring from me."

"When did he do it--just now?"

"Yes," answered Morris, with unexpected audacity. "He looks like a countryman but he is a crook in disguise."

"Come along, my man!" said the policeman, taking Joshua in tow. "You must come with me."

"I hain't done nothing," said Joshua. "Please let me go, Mr. Policeman."

"That's what they all say," remarked Morris, shrugging his shoulders.

"I see, he's an old offender," said the intelligent policeman, who had only been on the force three months.

"He's one of the most artful crooks I ever met," said Morris. "You'd swear he was a countryman."

"So I be," insisted Joshua. "I came from Barton, up Elmira way, and I've never been in the city before."

"Hear him!" said Morris, laughing heartily. "Ask him his name."

"My name's Joshua Bascom, and I go to the Baptist church reg'lar--just write and ask Parson Peabody, and he'll tell you I'm perfectly respectable."

"My friend," said Morris, "you can't fool an experienced officer by any such rigmarole. He can read you like a book."

"Of course I can," said the policeman, who felt the more flattered by this tribute because he was really a novice. "As this gentleman says, I knew you to be a crook the moment I set eyes on you."

They turned the corner of Thirtieth Street on their way to the station house. Poor Joshua felt keenly the humiliation and disgrace of his position. It would be in all the papers, he had no doubt, for all such items got into the home papers, and he would not dare show his face in Barton again.

"Am I going to jail?" he asked with keen anguish.

"You'll land there shortly," said Morris.

"But I hain't done a thing."

"Is it necessary for me to go in?" asked Ferdinand Morris, with considerable uneasiness, for he feared to be recognized by some older member of the force.

"Certainly." replied the policeman, "you must enter a complaint against this man."

Morris peered into the station house, but saw no officer likely to remember him, so he summoned up all his audacity and followed the policeman and his prisoner inside. There happened to be no other case ahead, so Joshua was brought forward.

"What has this man done?" asked the sergeant.

"Stolen a ring from this gentleman here," answered the policeman.

"Was the ring found on his person?"

"No, sergeant. He has not been searched."

"Search me if you want to. You won't find anything," said Joshua.

"He has probably thrown it away," said Ferdinand Morris, _sotto voce.

"No, I hain't."

"What is your name, sir?" asked the sergeant, addressing Morris.

"My name is Clarence Hale," answered Morris, boldly, taking the name of a young man of respectable family whom he had met casually.

"Where do you live?"

"On Fourth Avenue, sir, near Eleventh Street."

"Do you swear that this man stole your ring?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where?"

"In front of the Standard Theater."

"How could he do it?" continued the sergeant. "He could not take it from your hand?"

"It was in my pocket. I found him with his hand in my pocket," answered Morris, glibly.

"By gracious!" ejaculated Joshua, his eyes distended with amazement, "I never heard a fellow lie so slick before, in all my life."

"Silence!" said the sergeant. "Mr. Hale, will you appear to-morrow morning at Jefferson Market, and testify against this man?"

"Yes, sir."

"Officer, have you ever arrested this man before?" went on the sergeant.

"I'm not quite sure, sir. You see he's in disguise now. I think he's _wan of the gang."

Things began to look bad for poor Joshua, who was in a fair way to be railroaded to the penitentiary, as no doubt more than one innocent man has been before now, through an unfortunate complication.

"I wish I had some friend to speak up for me," he said, almost sobbing. "This is awful!"

"So you have!" said an unexpected voice.

Joshua turned, and to his inexpressible relief saw Fred standing on the threshold.

"It's the train boy!" he exclaimed joyfully.

Fred had set out to call upon Joshua that evening, and had chanced to see him going into the station house with the confidence man. He had followed to find out what it meant.

There was one who was not so well pleased to see him. Ferdinand Morris turned pale, and tried to make his escape.

"Excuse me," he said. "I am faint, and must get out into the air."

But Fred stood in his way.

"Not so fast, Mr. Ferdinand Morris," he said. "What trick are you up to now?"

"Do you know this man, Fred?" asked the sergeant, who had known the train boy for three years, for he lived only one block away on the same street.

"Yes, sir, he stole the wallet of this young man on my train on the Erie less than a week since."

"But he said the prisoner stole his ring."

"He left the ring in Mr. Bascom's pocket, when he was feeling for the wallet."

"This is a great mistake," said Morris, hurriedly. "I never saw this train boy before, and haven't traveled on the Erie road for a year."

"This man is telling a falsehood," said Fred.

"Will you swear that he was on your train and robbed this countryman?" asked the sergeant.

"Yes, sir."

"Is there any officer who recognizes him?" the sergeant inquired, looking round the room.

"I do," answered a stout policeman, who just then entered the station house. "I arrested him six months since, but he managed to slip away."

"The prisoner is discharged," said the sergeant. "Hold the complainant instead."

To his great joy Joshua was set free, and Mr. Morris, alias Hale, was collared by a policeman, though he made a desperate struggle to escape.

"I'll get even with you, boy!" said Morris savagely, addressing Fred.

"Come along, Mr. Bascom," said Fred. "I presume you don't care to stay here any longer."

"Not if I know it," said Joshua, fervently. "If I live till to-morrow morning, I'll start back to Barton. I've seen all I want to of York. I won't feel safe till I get home, in sight of the old meetin' house. I wouldn't have dad know I'd been arrested for a load of pumpkins."

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