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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Telegraph Boy - Chapter 13. A Timely Rescue
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The Telegraph Boy - Chapter 13. A Timely Rescue Post by :KRichards447 Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2908

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The Telegraph Boy - Chapter 13. A Timely Rescue


As Frank entered the room he hastily took in the scene before him. Round a table sat three young men, of not far from twenty, the fourth side being occupied by Fred Vivian. They were playing cards, and sipping drinks as they played. Fred Vivian's handsome face was flushed, and he was nervously excited. His hands trembled as he lifted the glass, and his wandering, uncertain glances showed that he was not himself.

"It's your play, Fred," said his partner.

Fred picked up a card without looking at it, and threw it down on the table.

"That settles it," said another. "Fred, old boy, you've lost the game. You're another five dollars out."

Fred fumbled in his pocket for a bill, and it was quickly taken from his hand before he could well see of what value it was. Frank, however, quickly as it was put away, saw that it was a ten. It was clear that Fred was being cheated in the most barefaced manner.

Frank's entrance was evidently unwelcome to most of the company.

"What are you bringing in that boy for, John?" demanded a low-browed fellow, with a face like a bull-dog.

"He is a friend of Fred," answered John.

"He's a telegraph boy. He comes here a spy. Fred don't know him. Clear out, boy!"

Frank took no notice of this hostile remark, but walked up to Fred Vivian.

"Fred," said he, thinking it best to speak as if he knew him, "it is getting late, and your mother is anxious about you. Won't you come home with me?"

"Who are you?" asked Fred, with drunken gravity. "You aint my mother."

"I come from your mother. Don't you know me? I am Frank Kavanagh."

"How do, Frank? Glad to see you, ol' feller. Take a drink. Here, you boy, bring a drink for my frien', Frank Kavanagh."

The three others looked on disconcerted. They were not ready to part with Fred yet, having secured only a part of his money.

"You don't know him, Fred," said the one who had appropriated the ten-dollar bill. "He's only a telegraph boy."

"I tell you he's my frien', Frank Kav'nagh," persisted Fred, with an obstinacy not unusual in one in his condition.

"Well, if he is, let him sit down, and have a glass of something hot."

"No, I thank you," said Frank, coldly. "Fred and I are going home."

"No, you're not," exclaimed the other, bringing his fist heavily down upon the table. "We won't allow our friend Fred to be kidnapped by a boy of your size,--not much we won't, will we, boys?"

"No! no!" chimed in the other two.

Fred Vivian looked at them undecided.

"I guess I'd better go," he stammered "There's something the matter with my head."

"You need another drink to brace you up. Here, John, bring up another punch for Fred."

Frank saw that unless he got Fred away before drinking any more, he would not be in a condition to go at all. It was a critical position, but he saw that he must be bold and resolute.

"You needn't bring Fred anything more," he said. "He has had enough already."

"I have had enough already," muttered Fred, mechanically.

"Boys, are we going to stand this?" said the low-browed young man. "Are we going to let this telegraph boy interfere with a social party of young gentlemen? I move that we throw him downstairs."

He half rose as he spoke, but Frank stood his ground.

"You'd better not try it," he said quietly, "unless you want to pass the night in the station-house."

"What do you mean, you young jackanapes?" said the other angrily. "What charge can you trump up against us?"

"You have been cheating Fred out of his money," said Frank, firmly.

"It's a lie! We've been having a friendly game, and he lost. If we'd lost, we would have paid."

"How much did he lose?"

"Five dollars."

"And you took ten from him."

"It's a lie!" repeated the other; but he looked disconcerted.

"It is true, for I noticed the bill as you took it from him. But it's not much worse than playing for money with him when he is in no condition to understand the game. You'd better give him back that ten-dollar bill."

"I've a great mind to fling you downstairs, you young scamp!"

"You are strong enough to do it," said Frank, exhibiting no trace of fear, "but I think you would be sorry for it afterwards. Come, Fred."

Though Frank was so much younger and smaller, there was something in his calm, self-possessed manner that gave him an ascendency over the weak, vacillating Fred. The latter rose, and, taking our hero's arm, turned to leave the room.

"Let him go," said the leader, who had been made uneasy by Frank's threat, and saw that it was politic to postpone his further designs upon his intended victim. "If he chooses to obey a small telegraph boy, he can."

"Don't mind him, Fred," said Frank. "You know I'm your friend."

"My friend, Frank Kavanagh!" repeated Fred, drowsily. "I'm awful sleepy, Frank. I want to go to bed."

"You shall go to bed as soon as you get home, Fred."

"I say, boy," said the leader, uneasily, "that was all a lie about the ten-dollar bill. You didn't see straight. Did he, Bates?"

"Of course he didn't."

"One lies and the other swears to it," thought Frank.

"Nothing will be done about it," he said, "if you will let Fred alone hereafter. The money you have won from him belongs to his mother, and, unless you keep away from him, she will order your arrest."

"You're altogether too smart for a boy of your size," sneered the other. "Take your friend away. We don't care to associate with a milksop, who allows himself to be ordered around by women and children."

Fortunately Fred was too drowsy to pay heed to what was being said; in fact he was very sleepy, and was anxious to go to bed. Frank got him into a cab, and in twenty minutes they safely reached his mother's house in Thirty-eighth street.

Mrs. Vivian was anxiously awaiting the return of the prodigal.

"O Fred," she said, "how could you stay away so, when you know how worried I get? You have been drinking, too."

"This is my friend, Frank Kavanagh," hiccoughed Fred.

"Shall I go up and help put him to bed?" asked Frank.

"Does he require help?" asked Mrs. Vivian, sorrowfully.

"He has been drinking a good deal."

"Yes, you may go up. I will lead the way to his chamber. Afterwards I want to speak to you."

"All right."

"Where did you find him?" asked Mrs. Vivian, when Frank with some difficulty had prepared his charge for bed.

"In the billiard-saloon to which you directed me. He was upstairs playing cards for money. They were cheating him in the most outrageous manner."

"I suppose they got all his money."

"Not all; but they would soon have done so. Here is his pocket-book, which I just took from his pocket."

"There are twenty dollars left," said 'Mrs. Vivian, after an examination. "They must have secured the rest. O my poor boy! Would that I could shield you from these dangerous companions!"

"I don't think they will trouble him again, Mrs. Vivian."

"Why not? You do not know them."

"I told them that, if they came near him, hereafter, you would have them arrested for swindling your son out of money belonging to you."

"Will that have any effect upon them?"

"Yes, because they know that I am ready to appear as a witness against them."

"Did Fred show any unwillingness to come with you?"

"No; I made him think I was an old acquaintance of his. Besides, he was feeling sleepy."

"You have acted with great judgment for so young a lad," said Mrs. Vivian. "I wish Fred had a companion like you to influence him for good. Where do you live?"

"At the Newsboys Lodging-House. I cannot afford to hire a room."

Mrs. Vivian looked thoughtful.

"Give me your name and address," she said.

These she noted down.

"I won't keep you any longer to-night," she said, "for you must be tired. You will hear from me again."

"Oh," said Frank, "I nearly forgot. Here is the balance of the money you handed me for expenses."

"Keep it for yourself," said Mrs. Vivian, "and accept my thanks besides."

Though Frank had paid for the cab, there was a balance of nearly two dollars in his hands which he was very glad to keep.

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