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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesRufus And Rose; Or The Fortunes Of Rough And Ready - Chapter 25. Unpleasant Discoveries
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Rufus And Rose; Or The Fortunes Of Rough And Ready - Chapter 25. Unpleasant Discoveries Post by :bobbond Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2632

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Rufus And Rose; Or The Fortunes Of Rough And Ready - Chapter 25. Unpleasant Discoveries


Smith did not go home immediately. He intended to do so, but happened to think of an errand, and this delayed him for an hour or two.

When he entered the house, he looked around for his errand-boy, but looked in vain.

"Humpy!" he called out in a voice which could be heard all over the house.

There was no answer. Smith, who was not remarkable for patience, began to grow angry.

"Very likely the young rascal is in his room," he said to himself. "I'll stir him up."

He took the whip and ascended the stairs two or three at a time. Arrived in the attic, he peered into Humpy's room, but, to his disappointment, saw nobody.

"The little villain got tired of waiting, and went out, thinking I couldn't find him out," he muttered. "He shall have a taste of the whip when he comes back."

He went downstairs more slowly than he ascended. He was considerably irritated, and in a state that required an object to vent his anger upon. Under these circumstances his prisoner naturally occurred to him. He had the proper key in his pocket, and, stopping on the second floor, he opened the door of the chamber in which our hero had been confined. His anger may be imagined when he found it untenanted. It was not very dignified, but Smith began to stamp in his vexation, and lash with his whip an unoffending chair in which Rufus ought to have been seated.

"I wish it was that young villain!" muttered Smith, scowling at the chair, and lashing it harder. "I'd teach him to run away! I'd make him howl!"

Smith was considerably discomposed. Things were going decidedly against him. Besides, the escape of Rufus might entail serious consequences, if he should give information to the police about the place of his captivity. A visit from these officials was an honor which Smith felt disposed respectfully, but firmly, to decline. Unfortunately, however, policemen are not sensitive, and are very apt to intrude where they are not wanted. A visit to Smith's abode might lead to unpleasant discoveries, as he very well knew, and he could not easily decide what course it would be best for him to pursue. He inferred at once that Humpy had been bought over, and had released the prisoner, otherwise he would, undoubtedly, have detected or frustrated our hero's attempt to escape. This did not inspire very amiable feelings towards Humpy, whom it would have yielded him great satisfaction to get into his power. But Humpy had disappeared, and that satisfaction was not to be had.

Mingled with Smith's anger was a feeling of surprise. Humpy had been a good while in his employ, and he had reposed entire confidence in his fidelity. He might have continued to do so but for the brutal assault upon the boy recorded in a previous chapter. He did not think of this, however, or guess the effect it had produced on the mind of the deformed errand-boy.

"I think I had better get out of the city a week or two till this blows over," thought Smith. "I guess I'll take the afternoon train for Philadelphia."

This was a wise resolution; but Smith made one mistake. He ought to have put it into effect at once. At that very moment information was lodged at the office of police, which threatened serious consequences to him; but of this he was ignorant. He had no idea that Rufus would act so promptly.

In spite of his anger Smith was hungry. His morning walk had given him an excellent appetite, and he began to think about dinner. As, on account of the unlawful occupation in which he was engaged, he did not think it prudent to employ a cook, who might gossip about his affairs, he generally devolved the task of preparing the dinner upon Humpy, whom he had taught to cook eggs, broil beef-steak, make coffee, fry potatoes, and perform other simple culinary duties. Now that Humpy was gone, he was obliged to do this work himself.

He looked into the pantry, and found half-a-dozen eggs, and a slice of steak. These he proceeded to cook. He had nearly finished his unaccustomed task when the door opened, and Martin returned, with his nose a little redder than usual, and his general appearance somewhat disordered by haste.

"What brings you here so soon?" asked Smith, in surprise. "What's the matter?"

"I came near gettin' nabbed; that's what's the matter," said Martin.

"How did that happen?"

"I went into a cigar-store near the ferry in Jersey City," said Martin, "and asked for a couple of cigars,--twenty-cent ones. I took 'em, and handed in one of your ten-dollar bills. The chap looked hard at it, and then at me, and said he'd have to go out and get it changed. I looked across the street, and saw him goin' to the police-office. I thought I'd better leave, and made for the ferry. The boat was just goin'. When we'd got a little ways out, I saw the cigar man standin' on the drop with a copp at his elbow."

"You'd better not go to Jersey City again," said Smith.

"I don't mean to," said Martin. "Have you got enough dinner for me? I'm as hungry as a dog."

"Yes, there's dinner enough for two, and that's all there is to eat it."

Something significant in his employer's tone struck Martin.

"There's the boy upstairs," he said.

"There isn't any boy upstairs."

"You haven't let him go?" queried Martin, staring open-mouthed at the speaker.

"No, he got away while I was out this morning,--the more fool I for leaving him."

"But there was Humpy. How did the boy get away without his seeing him?"

"Humpy's gone too."

"You don't say!" ejaculated Martin.

"Yes, I do."

"What you goin' to do about it?" inquired Martin, hopelessly.

"I'll half kill either of the little rascals when I get hold of them," said Smith, spitefully.

"I'd give something out of my own pocket to get that undootiful son of mine back," chimed in Martin.

"I'll say this for him," said Smith, "he's a good sight smarter than his father."

"I always was unlucky," grumbled Martin. "I aint been treated right."

"If you had been you'd be at Sing Sing," returned Smith, amiably.

"Smith," said Martin, with drunken dignity, for he was somewhat under the influence of a liberal morning dram, "you'd ought to respect the feelin's of a gentleman."

"Where's the gentleman? I don't see him," responded Smith, in a sarcastic tone. "If you aint too much of a gentleman to do your share of the work, just draw out the table and put the cloth on."

This Martin, who was hungry, did with equal alacrity and awkwardness, showing the latter by over-turning a pile of plates, which fell with a fatal crash upon the floor.

"Just like your awkwardness, you drunken brute!" exclaimed Smith, provoked.

Martin did not reply, but looked ruefully at the heap of broken crockery, which he attributed, like his other misfortunes, to the ill-treatment of the world, and meekly got upon his knees and gathered up the pieces.

At length dinner was ready. Martin, in spite of an ungrateful world, ate with an appetite truly surprising, so that his companion felt called upon to remonstrate.

"I hope you'll leave a little for me. It's just possible that I might like to eat a little something myself."

"I didn't eat much breakfast," said Martin, apologetically.

"You'd better lunch outside next time," said his employer. "It will give you a good chance to change money."

"I've tried it at several places," said Martin; "I could do it better if you'd give me some smaller bills. They don't like to change fives and tens."

After dinner was despatched, and the table pushed back, Smith unfolded his plans to Martin. He suggested that it might be a little unsafe to remain at their present quarters for a week or fortnight to come, and counselled Martin to go to Boston, while he would go to Philadelphia.

"That's the way we'll dodge them," he concluded.

"Just as you say," said Martin. "When do you want me back?"

"I will write you from Philadelphia. You can call at the post-office for a letter in a few days."

"When had I better sell the bond?"

"That reminds me," said Smith. "I will take the box with me."

He went and unlocked the drawer in which the box had been secreted. To his dismay he discovered that it was gone.

"Have you taken the tin box?" he demanded, turning upon Martin with sudden suspicion.

"Isn't it there?" gasped Martin.

"No, it isn't," said Smith, sternly. "Do you know anything about it?"

"I wish I may be killed if I do!" asserted Martin.

"Then what can have become of it?"

"It's my undootiful boy that took it,--I'm sure it is," exclaimed Martin, with sudden conviction.

"He had no key."

"Humpy got him one, then."

Just then Smith espied on the floor some scraps of wax. They told the story.

"You're right," he said, with an oath. "We've been taken in worse than I thought. The best thing we can do is to get away as soon as possible."

They made a few hurried preparations, and left the house in company. But they were too late. A couple of officers, who were waiting outside, stepped up to them, as they set foot on the sidewalk, and said, quietly, "You must come with us."

"What for?" demanded Smith, inclined to show fight.

"You'd better come quietly. You are charged with stealing a box containing valuables."

"That's the man that did it," said Smith, pointing to Martin. "He's the one you want."

"He put me up to it, and shared the money," retorted Martin.

"You're both wanted," said the officer. "You'll have a chance to tell your story hereafter."

As this winds up the connection of these two worthies with our story, it may be added here that they were found guilty, not only of the robbery, but of manufacturing and disseminating counterfeit money, and were sentenced to Sing Sing for a term of years. The bonds were found upon them, and restored to Mr. Vanderpool.

Thus the world persists in its ill-treatment of our friend, James Martin. Still I cannot help thinking that, if he had been a sober and industrious man, he would have had much less occasion to complain.

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