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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 8. An Invitation To Supper
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The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 8. An Invitation To Supper Post by :catalin Category :Long Stories Author :George Barr Mccutcheon Date :May 2012 Read :1402

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The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 8. An Invitation To Supper


That same night Artful Dick Cronk had a long conversation with Thomas Braddock. David was the principal subject of discussion. The airy scalawag was not long in getting to the bottom of the fugitive's history, so far as it could be obtained from the rather disconnected utterances of the convivial Thomas. They had come upon each other in a bar-room, but Dick had succeeded in getting the showman away from the place before he reached the maudlin stage. The day's business had been good. Braddock was cheerful, almost optimistic in consequence. He vociferously thanked his lucky sun, not his stars. Convinced that this was an uncommonly clever bit of paraphrasing, he repeated it at least a dozen times with great unction, always appending a careful explanation so that Dick would be sure to catch the point--or, you might say, the twist.

"If we only had sunshine like this," he announced with a comprehensive wave of his hand, regardless of the fact that it was ten o'clock at night, "I'd clear a million dollars this season. We've got nearly fifteen hundred dollars in that tent to-night, Dick. Twenty-one hundred on the day. A week of this beautiful sunshine and we'd be doing three thousand a day. I'd make old Barnum look like a two-spot. Did you ever see more beautiful sunshine, Dick? Now, did you?"

"That's not the sun, Brad," said Dick, removing his pipe from his lips. "That's a canvasman with a torch." They had arrived at the lot.

Braddock swore a mighty oath, and with jovial good-humor chucked Dick in the ribs, not very gently, it may be supposed. Dick, with responsive good-humor, seized the opportunity to deliver a resounding thump on Braddock's back, almost knocking the breath out of him. If one could have looked into the brain of the grinning pickpocket, he might have detected a vast regret that policy made it inadvisable to thump the showman on the jaw instead of the back. He had the satisfaction, however, of hearing the other cough violently for some little time.

"Don't be so rough," growled Braddock, taking a fresh cigar from his pocket to replace the one that had been expelled by the force of the blow.

"Excuse me," apologized Dick promptly. "Say," he went on, without waiting for or expecting forgiveness, "tell me something about this new clown of yours."

Whereupon Braddock lowered his voice and told him as much as he knew of the story. They sat on a wagon tongue at some distance from where the men were tearing down the menagerie tent. Dick Cronk puffed his pipe thoughtfully during the recital. One might have imagined that he was not listening.

"I don't believe he killed him," said he at the end of the story.

"Neither do I," said Braddock. "But it won't hurt to let him think that we're all still a leetle bit doubtful."

"I heard all about the murder in Staunton. The sheriff was trying to head the kid off if he came through that county. We were expectin' to see him landed in jail any day. They had bloodhounds after him, I hear." Dick Cronk's body quivered in a sharp spasm of dread.

"Say, Dick, listen here," said Braddock, leaning closer and dropping his voice to a half-whisper. "I've been wantin' you to turn up ever since he joined us. What will you say when I tell you he's got more 'n two thousand dollars with him?"

Dick started. "What!"

"He has. I've seen it. He's lousy with it."

"Well, he came by it honestly," said Dick after a moment.

"How do you know?" demanded the other insinuatingly.

"Honest men are so blamed scarce, Brad, that I can always tell one when I see him."

Braddock rolled his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and back again before venturing the next remark.

"It would be no trick at all to get it away from him."

Dick Cronk looked at his averted face. "What do you mean?"

"Think of what a haul it would be."

"I suppose you want me to lift the pile. Is that it?"

"Not unless we come to a thorough understanding beforehand," said Braddock quickly. "It's my plan, so I get the bulk of it, understand that."

"I do the job and you get the stuff," sneered Dick, still looking at his companion. Braddock felt that look and moved uncomfortably.

"It's too much money to let get away," he explained somewhat irrelevantly.

"Then why don't you pinch it yourself? Why ask me to do it?"

Braddock turned upon him angrily. "Why, I'm no thief! I'll break your neck if you make another crack like that."

Artful Dick arose. "I'm not so easily insulted," he said with a queer little laugh. "But, say, Braddock, let me tell you one thing. I'm not going to touch that kid's wad, and you ain't either. I'm a friend of his'n, after what happened to-day. Put that in your pipe, Brad, and smoke it."

Braddock gulped painfully. "See here, Dick, don't be a fool. We can clean up a--"

"You'd take the pennies off a dead nigger's eyes," interrupted the pickpocket scathingly.

"I'd do anything to keep the show from busting," said the other with the air of a martyr. "Anything to save my wife's little fortune, and anything to keep my performers from going broke."

"I suppose your wife thinks it's all right to get this kid's money away from him," said Dick sarcastically.

"She--why, of course, she wouldn't know anything about it. She's so blamed finicky."

"Of course!" scoffed Dick.

"But she'd stand for it, if she ever did find it out. She needs the money just as much as I do, only she likes to appear sanctimo--"

"I hate a liar, Brad," said Dick coolly.

Braddock arose unsteadily. "You mean ME?"

"I do," said the thief to the liar. "You know you lie when you say she'd back you up in a game like that."

"I've a notion to smash you one."

"Here's your watch, Brad, and your pocketbook. I nipped 'em just now to see if I'm in practice. Oh, yes, and your revolver, too." He laughed noiselessly as he laid the three articles on the footrest of the wagon and turned away.

Braddock blinked his eyes. As he replaced the articles in their places, he said admiringly: "Well, you do beat the devil!"

When he turned, the pickpocket was nowhere to be seen. It was as if the earth had swallowed him.

Five minutes later Dick appeared quite mysteriously in the dressing- tent, coming from the skies, it seemed to David, who found him filling a space that had been absolutely empty when he stooped over an instant before to adjust his shoe-lacing.

"Hello, kid," said Dick easily. "Say, do you know there's a warrant for your arrest right now in the hands of the town marshal of this burg?"

David's heart almost stopped beating.

"How do you know?" he demanded.

"I just piped him and a Pinkerton guy I know by sight hunting up Braddock. Not three minutes ago. They were talking it over between 'em out there by the road. The detective's got a picture of you, he says. Somehow they've dropped on to it that the new clown is you. Evening, Mrs. Braddock."

The proprietor's wife came up, followed closely by Christine and Ruby, dressed for the street. In an instant David repeated the startling news.

"What is to be done?" cried Mrs. Braddock, aghast.

"They sha'n't take you, David," cried Christine.

"Where is my father?" fell from Ruby's frightened lips.

"Not a second to be lost," said Dick. "I've got a scheme. Come in here, kid, and let me get into the tights you've got on. Tell Joey, and put the rest of the crowd on to the game," he added to Ruby.

When the town marshal and the detective deliberately stalked into the dressing-tent a few minutes later, a nonchalant group of performers greeted them, apparently without interest.

The new clown was partly dressed, but he had not washed the bismuth and carmine from his lean face. Braddock, perspiring freely, came in behind the officers. He saw in a glance what had transpired. His cigar almost dropped from his lips.

"We want you," said the marshal, pushed forward by the detective. The new clown looked up, amazed, as the hand fell on his shoulder. "No trouble now," added the local officer, nervously glancing around him. He knew the perils attending the arrest of a circus performer in his own domain.

"What's the matter with you?" exclaimed Dick Cronk, jerking his arm away.

"I want you, David Jenison, for murder in--"

There was a roar of laughter from the assembled crowd of performers.

"Come off!" grinned Dick Cronk. "You're off your base, you rube. Let go my arm!"

"None of that now," said the detective. "I've got your picture here. The jig's up, young feller. It's no--"

"My picture?" ejaculated Dick in surprise. "Let's have a look at it. I never had my picture taken in my life."

The man held out a small solar print of a daguerreotype that David Jenison sat for the year before at college. While the marshal, in some trepidation, regained his grip on the prisoner's arm, the crowd of performers looked at the picture with broad grins on their faces.

"Wash up, Jacky," said Grinaldi, stifling a laugh.

"Let the rubes see what you really look like," added Signor Anaconda.

Dick Cronk proceeded to scrub away the make-up. When he lifted his face for inspection, the two officers glared at him in positive consternation.

"I guess I'm not the guy you're after," said Dick coolly. "A blind man could see that I don't look like that picture. My, what a nice-looking boy he is! A reg'lar lady-killer."

"You're not the man, that's dead sure," said the Pinkerton operative, perplexity written all over his face. "We've had a job put up on us," he explained, turning to Braddock. "Some smart aleck sent word to our branch that the real Jenison boy was a clown in this show. We got a note from some one who said he belonged to the show. They sent me up here on a chance that it was true. We had this picture in the office. The note says David Jenison joined the show three weeks ago. How long have you been with it?"

Dick Cronk was very cunning. "That's funny. I've been with it just three weeks. Say, I bet I know who put up this job on you." He turned to his friends. "It was that darned Jim Hopkins. He's always up to a gag of some sort."

"Where is he?" demanded the detective.

"The Lord knows," said Dick. "He ducked a couple of days ago. Gone to Cincinnati, I think he said. He works the shell game, and it got pretty hot for him after we left Cumberland. Well, say, this IS great! I guess the drinks are on the Pinkerton office. Thaw out, mister. Charge it to the Molly McGuires."

In the mean time David Jenison, attired in a street gown belonging to Madam Bolivar, the strong lady, was on his way to the hotel, accompanied by Mrs. Braddock, Christine and others of the sex he represented for the time being.

An hour later he stole away from the hotel, in his own clothes, and boarded a rumbling tableau wagon at the edge of the town, considerably shaken by his narrow escape, but full of gratitude to the resourceful pickpocket.

In the railroad yards Dick Cronk hunted out his brother Ernie, and, standing over him in a manner so threatening that the astonished hunchback shrank down in fear, he bluntly accused him of informing on David Jenison.

"I know you did it, Ernie," he said, when the other began to whimper his denials. "You've done a lot of sneakin' things, but this is the sneakin'est. If you ever peach on anybody again, I'll--well, I won't say just what I'll do. It'll be good and plenty, you can be I on that."

"What'll you do?" sneered Ernie, but cravenly.

"Something I didn't do the first time," announced Dick with deadly levelness. Ernie turned very cold.

"You wouldn't hurt me?" he whined.

"I'm through talkin' about it," said Dick, turning away. "Just you remember, that's all."

Colonel Bob Grand descended upon the show the following afternoon. His customary advent was always somewhat in the nature of a hawk's visitation among a brood of chickens: it was quite as disturbing and equally as hateful. Moreover, like the hawk, he came when least expected.

"Oh, how I loathe that man," whispered Christine to David. She was waiting for her turn in the ring, just inside the great red and gold curtains at the entrance of the dressing-tent. Tom Sacks was peeping through the curtains at the haze-enveloped crowd in the main tent. David and the slim girl in red were standing at the big gray horse's head and she was feeding sugar to the animal. The youth in the striped tights was a head taller than his companion--for David was then but an inch or two short of six feet and broadening into manhood.

Colonel Grand had just entered the dressing-tent with Christine's father, and was paying his most suave devotions to Mrs. Braddock across the way.

"When did he come?" asked David, filled with a sharp pity for the girl, who, as yet, could hardly have suspected the real object of his visits.

"An hour ago. David, why does he come so often?"

"I--I suppose he has business in these towns," he floundered uncomfortably.

"My mother hates him,--oh, how she hates him. I don't see why he can't see it and stay away from us. Of course, he's very rich, and he's a--a great friend of father's. They say Colonel Grand gambles and--and he leaves his wife alone at home for weeks at a time. I can't bear the sight of his face. It is like an animal's to me. Have you seen that African gazelle out in the animal top? The one with the eyes so close together and the long white nose? Well, that's how Colonel Grand looks to me. I've always hated that horrid deer, David. I see it in my dreams, over and over again, and it is always trying to butt me in the face with that awful white nose. Isn't it odd that I should dream of it so much?"

"It's just a fancy, Christine. You'll--you'll outgrow it. All children have funny dreams," he said with a lame attempt at humor.

"I'm fifteen, David," she said severely. "I don't like you to say such things to me. But," and she beamed a smile upon him that fairly dazzled, "I do love the way you pronounce my name. No one says it just as you do. I hate being called Christie. Don't you ever begin calling me Christie. Do you hear?"

"I've always loved Christine," he said frankly. Then he felt himself blush under the paint.

She hesitated, suddenly shy. "I've never liked David until now," she said. "I've always liked Absalom better. Reginald is my favorite name,--or Ethelbert. Still, as you say, I will doubtless outgrow them. Besides, you are not David. You are poor little Jack Snipe."

Her warm smile faded as she turned her eyes in the direction of Colonel Grand. The troubled look came back to them at once; there was a subtle spreading of her dainty nostrils.

"How I hate his smile," she said in very low tones.

Without looking at David again she passed through the curtains after Tom Sacks and made her way to the ring, a jaunty figure that gave no sign of the uneasiness that lurked beneath the joyous spangles.

David looked after her for a moment. He became suddenly conscious of the fact that Colonel Grand was staring at him across the intervening space. Turning, he met the combined gaze of the three persons who formed the little group. There was a comprehensive leer on the face of the Colonel.

In that instant there flashed through David's mind the conviction that Colonel Bob Grand was to play an ugly and an important part in his life. Again there came over him, as once before, the insensate desire to strike that gray, puttyish face with all his might.

He had been kept out of the ring during the early part of the performance, while Artful Dick and other cunning scouts were satisfying themselves that the Pinkerton man actually had given up the chase. As a matter of fact, the disgusted operative had been completely fooled, and was well on his way to Philadelphia, cherishing the prospect of a laugh at the expense of the superintendent who had sent him on the wild-goose chase.

David kept a wary eye open for the danger signal, which, however, was not to come. He saw the Braddocks and Colonel Grand leave the dressing-tent and pass into the open air. This time Braddock walked ahead with his unyielding wife. Apparently he was expostulating with her. She looked neither to right nor left, but walked on with her face set and her eyes narrowed as if in pain. Colonel Grand, the picture of insolent assurance, sauntered behind them, a beatific smile on his lips.

The Virginian was sitting on a property trunk, dejectedly staring at the ground when Christine returned from the ring. Thunders of applause had told him when the act was over; the change of tune by the band announced the beginning of the next act--that of the strong man and his wife. How well David remembered these sudden transitions. He almost longed to be out there now, in the thick of it, with good old Joey Grinaldi at his side, dodging the ringmaster's lash and grinning at the jokes of the veteran.

The girl came straight up to him, her anxious gaze sweeping the interior. She was about to speak to him, but changed her mind and hurried on to her dressing-room. An instant later she was back, greatly agitated. "Where is my mother?" she asked.

"They went away a few minutes ago," replied David, as unconcernedly as possible.

"Where? Where did they go, David?" she cried, her voice low with alarm.

"To the side-show, I think," prevaricated he.

He saw the look of relief struggling into her face.

"She--she always cries when she goes out with them together," she murmured piteously. "Oh, David, I'm so worried. I don't know why--I don't know what it is that causes me to feel this way. But I am frightened--always frightened."

He took her little hand between his own; it was trembling perceptibly. Very gently he sought to reassure her, his heart so full that his voice was husky with the emotion that crowded up from it.

"Nothing ever can happen to your mother, Christine--nothing. Please don't worry, little girl. Colonel Grand can't--won't do anything to hurt her. Your father won't let that happen. He won't--"

"David, I am not so sure of that," she said slowly, looking straight into his eyes and speaking almost in a monotone. He started. For a moment he was speechless.

"You must not say that, Christine," he said.

"I don't know why I said it," she responded, nervously biting her nether lip. Then she smiled, her white teeth gleaming against the carmine. "She'll be back presently, I know. I'm so silly."

"You are very young, you'll have to admit, after this display," he chided. She left him.

Joey Grinaldi came in a few minutes later and took his _protege off to the ring, with the assurance that "the coast" was clear. All the rest of the afternoon David's heart ached with a dull pain. He could hardly wait for the time to come when he could return to the dressing-tent. At last, he raced from the ring, pursued by the inflated bladder in the hand of Joey Grinaldi, their joint mummery over for the afternoon.

Christine was sitting on the trunk that he had occupied so recently; Mrs. Braddock was nowhere in sight.

"David," she said slowly, as he drew up panting, "they did not go to the side-show."

He was spared the necessity of an answer by the providential return of the girl's mother. She came in alone from the main tent. A glance showed them both that she had been crying. Christine sprang forward with a little cry and slipped her arm through her mother's.

As they passed by David the mother's stiff, tense lips were moving painfully. He heard her say, as if to herself:

"I cannot--I will not endure it any longer. I cannot, my child."

David stood before her the next instant, his face writhing with fury, his hands clenched.

"Is--is there anything I can do, Mrs. Braddock? Tell me! Can I do anything for you?" he cried.

She stared for a moment, as if bewildered. Then her face lightened. The tears sprang afresh to her eyes.

"No, David," she said gently. "There is nothing you can do."

"But if there should be anything I can do--" he went on imploringly. She shook her head and smiled.

As soon as he could change his clothes David hurried out to the menagerie tent. For many minutes he stood before the cage containing the African gazelle, fascinated by the nose and eyes of the lachrymose beast. He stared for a long time before becoming aware that the animal was looking at him just as intently from the other side of the bars. It was as if the creature with the broad white muzzle and limpid eyes was studying him with all the intentness of a human being. An uncanny feeling took possession of the boy. He laughed nervously, half expecting the solemn starer to smile in return--with the smile of Colonel Grand. But the deer's eyes did not blink or waver, nor was there the slightest deviation of its melancholy gaze.

A voice from behind addressed the lone spectator.

"Attractive brute, isn't he?"

David turned. Colonel Grand was standing a few feet away, gazing with no little interest at the occupant of the cage.

Young Jenison did not reply at once. He was momentarily occupied in a mental comparison of the two faces.

"It is our latest curiosity from the wilds of Africa," he said, his eyes hardening. A Jenison could not look with complacency on a man who, first of all, had fought against his own people, even though one Jenison had been a traitor to the cause.

"The only one in captivity," quoted the Colonel. He had the smooth, dry voice of a practiced man of the world.

"That's what they say on the bills, sir." He was walking away when the other, with some acerbity, called to him.

"What's your name?"

"Snipe, sir," said David, after a second's hesitation.

"I've seen you back there in the dressing-tent. You don't look like a circus performer."

"I am a clown," observed David coolly.

Colonel Grand came up beside him. They strolled past several cages before either spoke again.

"You are new at the business," remarked the older man. David felt that the Colonel was looking at him, notwithstanding the fact that they seemed to be engaged in a close inspection of the cages.

"I am a beginner. Joey Grinaldi is training me."

Thomas Braddock was watching them from beyond the camel pen.

"It may interest you to know that I am accustomed to civility in all people employed by this show," said Colonel Grand levelly.

"Do you always get what you expect?" asked David, stopping short.

The Colonel faced him.

"Young man," said he, after a deliberate pause, "let me add to my original remark, I _always get what I expect."

"Then I suppose you expect me to sever my connection with this show," said David, looking straight into his eyes.

The Colonel smiled. "Your real name is Jenison, isn't it?"

"Yes," said David defiantly. The Colonel was startled. He had not expected this, at any rate.

"And you are wanted for murder, I understand."


"By George, you take it coolly," exclaimed the other, not without a trace of admiration in his voice.

"Why should I equivocate?" demanded David coldly. "You are in possession of all the facts. What do you intend to do about it?"

The Colonel's eyes narrowed. There was not the slightest trace of anger in his manner, however.

"I intend to have your wages increased," he said quietly.

David could not conceal his surprise, nor could he suppress the gleam of relief that leaped to his eyes.

"I don't understand," he muttered.

"I expect you to remain with this show until the end of the season," said the Colonel grimly.

David pondered this remark for a moment.

"I may not care to stay so long as that--" he began, puzzled by the Colonel's attitude toward him.

"But you _will stay," said the other, fastening his gaze on David's chin--doubtless in the hope of seeing it quiver. "If you attempt to leave this show, I will--Well, a word to the wise, young man."

"You don't own this show!" flared David. "And you can't bully me!"

Not a muscle moved in the face of the tall Colonel. In slow, even tones he remarked: "I am not cowardly enough to bully a wretch whom I can hang."

In spite of himself, David shrank from this cold-blooded rejoinder.

"See here, Jenison," went on Colonel Grand, noting the effect of his words, "I have a certain amount of respect for your feelings, because you are a Southerner, as I am. You have pride and you have courage. You are a gentleman. You are the only gentleman at present engaged in this profession, I'll say that for you. There is a probability that you may not be so unique in the course of a week or two. I am already a part owner of this concern. You know that, of course. It is pretty generally known among the performers that I have a creditor's lien on the business. I wish you would oblige me by announcing to your friends that I have taken over a third interest in the show in lieu of certain notes and mortgages. From to-day I am to be recognized as one of the proprietors of Van Slye's Circus. Do you grasp it?"

David, a great lump in his throat, merely nodded.

"Considerable of my time henceforth will be spent with the show. I intend to elevate you to better associations. You are of my own class. I'm going to give you the society that you, as a Jenison of the Virginia Jenisons, deserve. It won't be necessary for you to mingle with pickpockets and roustabouts and common ring performers. There will be a select little coterie. I fancy you can guess who will comprise our little circle--our set, as you might call it. There are better times ahead for you, Jenison. Your days of riding in a tableau wagon are over. I shall expect you to join our exclusive little circle--where may be found representatives of the best families in the South and North. Portman, Jenison and Grand. Splendid names, my boy. Ah, I see Mr. Braddock over there. We are dining this evening at the best restaurant in town. Will you join us? Good! I shall expect you at six."

He had not removed his eyes from the paling face of his auditor at any time during this extraordinary speech. He saw surprise, dismay, perplexity and indignation flit across that face, and in the end something akin to stupefaction. Without waiting for David's response to the invitation--which was a command--he smiled blandly and walked away in the direction of the camel pen.

For a full minute Jenison stood there, staring after him, his heart as cold as ice, his arms hanging nerveless at his sides. The real, underlying motive of the man was slow in forcing itself into his brain.

He was to be used! He was to be made a part of the ugly web Colonel Grand was weaving about the unhappy Braddocks!

All the innate chivalry in the boy's nature sprang up in rebellion against this calm devilry. A blind rage assailed his senses. For the moment there was real murder in his heart; his vision was red and unsteady; his whole body shook with the tumult of blood that surged to his brain. Impelled by an irresistible force, his legs carried him ten paces or more toward the object of his loathing before his better judgment revived sufficiently to put a check on the mad impulse. Instead of rushing on to certain disaster, he conquered the desire to strike for his own pride and for the honor of the woman in the case; he had the good sense to see that he could gain no lasting satisfaction by physical assault upon the man nor could he expect to help matters by reproaching Thomas Braddock for the miserable part he was playing in the affair.

Covered with shame and anger, he abruptly hurried away from the scene of temptation, making his way to the dressing-tent, where he hoped to find Joey Grinaldi.

The clown met him at the entrance to the main tent. It was apparent that he had been waiting there for his _protege_.

"Joey!" cried David, all the bitterness in his soul leaping to his lips, "do you know what has happened?"

Joey's quaint old visage was never so solemn. His pipe was out; it hung rather limply in his mouth.

"Mrs. Braddock 'as told me," he said. "They 'ad to do it. They owed 'im nearly seventeen thousand dollars."

"What is to become of her--and Christine?" cried the boy, his face working.

"The good God may take care of 'em," returned the clown slowly. He puffed hard at his cold pipe. "I'm not surprised at wot's 'appened, Jacky. It's part of 'is game. Some day afore long he'll kick Braddock out of the business altogether. That's the next step. She can't do anything, either. All she's got in the world is in this 'ere show. If --if she'd only go back home to her father! But, dang it, she swears she won't do that. She'll work in the streets first."

"She can have all I've got," announced David eagerly.

"She ain't the kind to give up this 'ere property without a fight, Jacky. They'll 'ave to make it absolutely impossible for her to stay afore she'll knuckle to 'em. She's got pluck, Mary Braddock 'as. I know positive she 'as more 'n twenty thousand in this show. She put most of it in a couple of years ago when Brad swung over the deal with Van Slye. Since then she's put the rest in to save the shebang. I say, Jacky, I observed you a-talking to _him_. Wot is he going to do with you? Give you the bounce?"

"No," said David, clenching his hands. Then he repeated all that had taken place in the menagerie tent.

"I will not sit at table with that beast," he exclaimed in conclusion.

Joey led him off to a less conspicuous part of the tent. He appeared to be turning something over in his mind as they walked along.

"Jacky, I know it goes 'ard with a gentleman like you to sit down with a rascal like 'im, but I fancy you'll 'ave to lump your pride and do wot he arsks."

"I'm--I'm hanged if I do!" cried the other.

"Well, now, just look at it from another point," said Joey earnestly. "You can't afford to oppose 'im right now. Besides, there's others as needs you. There's got to be some one in the party to look out for Mrs. Braddock and Christine. Brad won't, so you're the one. Stick to 'em, Jacky, and if needs be, the whole show will back you up. You just go to supper with 'em."

"You're right, Joey," said David, his face flushing. "They stood by me, I'll stand by them."

"The restaurant is down the main street near the 'otel," explained the old clown. "Ruby and me will walk down with you. And, by the way, I've been talking with Dick Cronk about you. He arsked me to tell you to be mighty careful of that wad o' money." Joey winked his left eye. "He's a terrible honest sort of chap, Dick is, so I told 'im you'd put it in a bank. Which relieved 'im tremendous. He's took a fancy to you, and he says he's working on a scheme to get you out of all your troubles at 'ome."

"Oh, if there is only a way to do it!" cried David fervently. "If I could go back to dear old Jenison Hall, Joey! I could give them a home--for all their lives. I would do it. And you could come there, Joey--you and Ruby. Oh, you don't know how I long to be there. My old home! I--I--"

"Don't get excited now, laddie," warned old Joey. He spent a minute in calculation. "That there Dick Cronk is a mighty cute chap. You never can tell wot he's got in that noddle of 'is. No, sir, you never can tell."

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The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 9. A Thief In The Night The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 9. A Thief In The Night

The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 9. A Thief In The Night
BOOK I CHAPTER IX. A THIEF IN THE NIGHTThat supper was one of the incidents in David Jenison's life always to stand out clear and undimmed. The party of five sat at a table in a remote corner of the dingy little eating-house. At no time were they free from the curious gaze of the people who filled the place, a noisy bumptious crowd of country people making the most of a holiday. The glamour was over them. Some one had recognized "Little Starbright" in the simply clad, demure young girl; the word was passed from table to table. She was

The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 7. The Brothers Cronk The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 7. The Brothers Cronk

The Rose In The Ring - Book 1 - Chapter 7. The Brothers Cronk
BOOK I CHAPTER VII. THE BROTHERS CRONK"Don't you tell 'im you've stuck that money away in a bank," was all that Joey Grinaldi said when David told him of Braddock's sudden change of front. It was a sentient bit of advice, showing that the wool was not to be pulled over Joey's eyes. "I think I understand," said David gloomily. "But what am I to say to him?" "Don't peep. Leave it to me. I'll tell 'im that you're talking of putting most of it into the business after you get safely over into Indiana or Illinois. That'll stave 'im off.