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A Desperate Chance - The Wizard Tramp's Revelation, A Thrilling Narrative
by Old Sleuth (Harlan P. Halsey)
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"I'll warn you once more," said the sharp.

"To the dogs with your warning, you daren't bet."

"Oh, yes, I dare bet, but I like you; I've a dead sure hand, you can't beat me."

"That's my lookout."

"Then you know just what you are doing?"

"Yes, I do."

"These men can bear witness that I want to throw up my hand."

"You needn't."

"And you will really bet?"

"Yes, I will."

"With your eyes open?"

"Dead sure."

"All right; what is your raise?"

Desmond gave a lift and the sharp raised back, and so the play went on until the stake was a thousand dollars on the two hands, and the sharp said:

"See here, young follow, five hundred is enough for you to lose."

"No, no, I am not losing."

"You ain't?"

"No."

"Suppose you are mistaken."

"I can stand it."

"You can?"

"I can."

"All right; no use for me to attempt to stand against a young fellow like you. I begin to suspect you've been playing innocent, and I will teach you a lesson; I raise you a hundred."

"I see it and go two hundred better."

Each time a bet was made the money was laid on the table, and it was a very exciting scene and moment. The sharp looked puzzled; he had laid out for a dead sure thing, but there had come a complete change over Desmond, and it was the latter fact that scared the sharp. He hesitated, but at length, in a slow tone, said:

"I'll see you a call," and he laid down his cards. He held four jacks, a great hand, but one that is often beaten, of course, and it was beaten on this occasion, for, strange to declare, Desmond held four kings.

Right here let us offer an explanation. Our hero was playing against a false deal; the man who was leading him made the fatal mistake that he was working with a gudgeon on his hook, consequently he was not watchful. The wizard tramp had taught Desmond a great many tricks, and the lad's natural discernment and watchfulness had prepared him for the hand when the great trick was to be sprung, and unwatched he worked a bigger trick. He did not know what the hand was he was pitted against, but he had been let in to gamblers' tricks, that is, "snide" gamblers. These fellows in making a false deal do not win on the highest hands, for they always know the hand against them. The fellow who was seeking to rob Desmond thought he knew our hero's hand, but it was right there he was fooled. Our hero had worked his own trick, as stated—he stole a hand so deftly that the unwatchful robbers did not see him do it, and it was there he had them. He was really taking a slight chance, but only a slight one, and what followed? Well, it was a case of the biter bitten, and when Desmond exposed his hand there came a look upon the sharp's face that can never be described, but which might be photographed with a snap-shot machine.

There fell a dead stillness in that car for a few seconds, and then the defeated sharp said:

"Aha! you are a cheat."

"Am I?"

Desmond was perfectly cool.

"Yes, you are, and that money is mine."

"Is it?"

"Oh, see here, young fellow, don't you attempt to bluff me, or I'll mark you."

As intimated, there had come a great change over Desmond. He did not look like and he certainly did not act like the same person who a little time previously had been learning gambling tricks from the sharp. The gambler attempted to rake the money from the seat, and it was at that moment the real fun commenced.

"You miserable rascal," cried Desmond, "lay a finger on a bill on that seat and I'll pin your hand to the car seat."

Well, there was a scene of consternation around there just at that instant, and our hero said:

"I've been carrying out your programme, amusing myself with a sneak thief, and now, Mr. Senator's Son, you have evidence that Yorkers do know a thing or two, and you get yourself together and get out of this car and off the train at the next station, or I'll make a horse-fly net of you. Is that plain English? Take your own money, I don't need it. You are under cover, but let me give you a pointer—you play the senator's son too well altogether to make a success of it."

The group of gamblers stared in silence. They did not dare make a hostile move; there was something about Desmond in his transformed appearance that froze them—indeed, even his youth was a mystery to them, for he acted like a man who had had years of experience.

"You started in, gentlemen, to play a big game of robbery, but ran up against a snag. I am letting you off easy—very easy—but you see we young fellows from York are not malicious."

The gamblers had indeed gotten off easily, and we will here explain that they did not fear Desmond in a scrimage; but they would have feared any one who would have made a fight, as they did not wish to draw the attention of the train men to their scheme which had been exposed. Had they been winners they would have made a fight, but the game they were attempting was one of highway robbery, for they had been outwitted in the deal, and had no claim upon the money.

The train arrived at a station and the gamblers started to alight. They felt bitter, and the self-styled senator's son said to Desmond:

"The train will stop here fifteen minutes. You are a good fellow, I like you, I'd like to have you stop off a minute and have a cool drink with us."

Desmond well knew the scoundrel's purpose, but being fond of adventure he determined to give the rascals a still greater surprise. He was in splendid condition, his muscles were developed up to the consistency of whit-leather, and with a smile he rose to follow the man who had invited him to alight for refreshment. The gambler stepped off the car ahead of Desmond; the latter followed, when the former suddenly swung round and made a vicious lunge at the youth who had so cleverly outwitted him, and once again the scamp was outwitted. A second time he ran up against a snag, for our hero dodged the blow that was meant for him and countered with a tremendous slugger which landed on his assailant's nose, and over the man fell with a swiftness that would have suggested the kick of a horse, and when he fell he lay there; but two of the other chaps had in the meantime made a rush for Desmond, and they received a rap successively—indeed, they had run in on our young walking champion where he was at home. He was a wonder in science, strength and agility; no two or three ordinary men would have had any show with him at all, and the fact was the assailants so determined, for the attack was not renewed, and our hero stepped aboard the train, the object of the wondering glances of twenty people who had witnessed the assault and its culmination.

Desmond sat down in the car as coolly as though he had just gone out for a breath of fresh air.

Our hero encountered several other adventures of a minor character, but in good time arrived in New York City. He had not announced his return to the farm, and consequently spent several days in the all-round greatest city in the world. There is no place like old New York; there is more life to be seen in the great American metropolis in one day than can be seen in any other great capital in two. It is a city peculiar to itself, unlike any other, in its situation between two rivers and its nose practically putting out to the sea; in its activities and general loveliness—indeed, it in a wonderful place, and Desmond enjoyed every minute during his sojourn, but at length he took a train up-country and in due time arrived at the station from which he was to team it to the old farm where his grandfather and father had lived and died.

As stated, Desmond had not announced his return, and when within a mile of the farm he alighted from the wagon that had carried him over and started afoot. It was late in the afternoon when he arrived in sight of the old farm, and he was standing on a rise of ground looking over toward his old home, when he espied a girl sitting beneath a tree. One glance was sufficient; he recognized Amy, and he determined to steal upon her unawares. He managed to gain a clump of bushes located within twenty feet of where the girl sat, and he had an opportunity to study her unobserved. We will not describe his emotions, but it was a beautiful sight that fell under his delighted gaze. The life on the farm had been of great advantage to Amy in many ways, and in her white muslin dress she appeared so beautiful as to make it seem that she was out of place in that wild region. Her form was perfect in its grace, and her face—well, we will not go into a description, but let it suffice to say that there are few girls in all the world who surpass her in the exquisite loveliness of her face.

Desmond studied the girl for a long time and he observed that she appeared to be perfectly contented and happy. She had her mandolin with her, and after quite a period of abstraction she took up her instrument, and soon her splendid voice sounded clear and melodious on the still air, for it was an afternoon when nature rested under a spell, as it were; not a breath of air appeared to float amid the leaves and flowers.

A moment, and our hero made the most delightful discovery of his life. Amy was singing and improvising; she did it readily and charmingly, and her hidden auditor was indeed charmed. She was singing to an absent one, and she mingled the name of our hero in her song. It was a plea for the absent one to return, and the sweetness of the melody was not more entrancing than the verses. She appeared to be not only a singer but a poetess, possessed of rare talent.

Desmond did not appear inclined to break the spell, but when he saw Amy making preparations to depart he stepped from his place of concealment. The girl uttered a cry; at the first glance she did not recognize the farmer boy, transformed as he was into a gentleman in dress, but when she caught sight of his face and heard his merry laugh and pleasant salutation, she exclaimed:

"Oh, Desmond, I did not know you at first. How elegant you look!"

"Thank you; how is my mother?"

"She is well, but did not know you were coming home; neither did I."

"Well, no, I thought I would give you a surprise. It's all right, here I am, this side up with care."

"Your mother will be delighted."

"And you?"

"I am giddy with delight, and I hope all is well with you and with my—" The girl stopped short and said, "Mr. Brooks."

"Yes, when I left him he was all right."

"Did he come with you?"

"No, he remained behind to transact some business; and, Amy, if you are surprised to see me looking so elegant, as you say, you would be more surprised did you behold at this moment your—I mean Mr. Brooks."

A shadow flitted across the girl's face, but it was succeeded a moment later by a bright smile, as she said:

"Oh, I am so happy, I was never happier in my whole life."

"And what makes you so happy?"

The question was put abruptly.



CHAPTER X.

CONCLUSION.

Amy suddenly appeared to realize—well, our readers can guess what. It appeared to cross her mind that she was betraying too great happiness, and was a little too free in betraying it. She hesitated and blushed, and after an instant of embarrassment Desmond said:

"Oh, don't be afraid, tell me why you are so happy."

"Everything makes me happy, and I shall continue to be happy unless—" Again the girl stopped short.

"Go on," said Desmond.

"Unless I am to be taken away from your mother."

"Do you desire to remain with my mother?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I love your mother."

"You love my mother?"

"Yes, I do."

"And who else?"

The question came in a pointed manner; Amy was a girl nearly sixteen.

"My—I mean Mr. Brooks."

"Who else?"

The girl did not answer.

"Come, Amy, who else do you love?"

"You are real mean."

"I am?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"You know."

"I do?"

"Yes."

"I don't want to be mean, but tell me who else you love?"

"I won't."

"You won't?"

"No."

There was bantering in the tones of both these young people at that moment.

"Shall I tell you who I love?"

"Yes."

"I love my mother."

"You can't help it."

"I have learned to love Mr. Brooks, your—I mean—well, Mr. Brooks."

In a tantalizing tone the girl asked:

"Who else?"

"Oh, you're real mean," said Desmond, imitating Amy's tone at the moment she had made the same remark to him.

"I don't want to be mean."

"You don't?"

"No."

"Will you keep my secret?"

"Yes," came the eager answer.

"Honor bright?"

"Yes, honor bright."

"You won't tell even my mother?"

The girl did not answer.

"Come, promise."

"I promise."

"I've met a girl I love, and I've made you my confidante, but don't tell my mother."

Amy had turned desperately pale, and in a pettish, trembling tone, she said:

"Yes, I will tell your mother."

"You promised not to do so."

"I don't care, I'll break my promise."

"Oh, Amy, you are real mean."

"I can't help it if I am."

"You can't?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I am mad—real mad."

"You are?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because you went and fell in love with a girl; it's ridiculous, anyway."

"It is?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"You are only a boy."

"I am?"

"Yes."

"What are you, pray? you are only a girl."

"I know it."

"I couldn't fall in love with a mere girl, could I?"

"Yes, you could."

Desmond laughed in a merry manner, and said:

"Well, to tell the truth, I did fall in love with a mere girl. Do you want to hear about her?"

"No."

"You don't?"

"No, I don't."

"I am going to tell you all the same; you are the girl I've fallen in love with."

There came a bright, happy look to Amy's beautiful face as she said:

"Oh, you are real mean."

"I am?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"To tell me that so suddenly."

"Well, who else do you love?"

"I love you."

"All right; go and break your promise and tell my mother," said Desmond in a provoking tone, following his advice by encircling Amy's waist and imprinting upon her red-hot cheek a kiss.

"You tell your mother yourself," said Amy.

"No, I won't; you said you would."

"Then I will."

"You will?"

"Yes."

"Well, well!"

"Your mother will be glad."

"What?" ejaculated Desmond.

"Your mother will be glad."

"How do you know?"

"She told me so."

That night there was a happy party under the old farmhouse roof. Mrs. Dare had met her son with tears of joy in her eyes, and Desmond had told the weird tale of his remarkable adventures.

At once our hero set to work to prepare for college. He had talked the matter over with his mother and with Amy, and in due time he did enter Amherst College, and for a long time his adventures ceased. He heard occasionally from Mr. Brooks, who appeared to be doing well and who sent money on at intervals, but no explanation. And so the time passed until Desmond graduated and returned home. He met his mother and Amy, and a moment later there came forth from the house a well-known figure; it was Brooks, the whilom wizard tramp.

Again there followed a pleasant evening, and on the following morning Desmond was out bright and early to take a walk over the farm. He had gone but a short distance when he saw a figure in the grove near the house. He advanced and met his old friend the wizard tramp.

"You are out early," said Desmond.

"Yes, I thought I might meet you."

"And you will now tell me how you have succeeded?"

"Yes, Desmond, I will tell you all now, and I owe all to you. We are rich—very rich. We found the mine, Creedon and I, and we got capitalists interested and developed it. You were our silent partner, and to-day you are worth a quarter of a million and I am worth as much more, or rather Amy is, for I have been working for my child."

"I have suspected all along that Amy was your daughter. Has she told you anything?"

"Yes, she has told me she is to become your wife."

"What do you think of it?"

"It has been the one hope of my life that you would win her love and she yours. It was for this reason I insisted upon your returning to the East, and the wisdom of my plans is fully confirmed."

"You have a revelation to make to me."

"I have made the revelation—Amy is my own child."

"And is that all you have to reveal? I've known that all along."

"That is my most important revelation, but I have another to make. My father was the younger son of an English nobleman; he married a beautiful but poor girl, as the world counts riches, and his father drove him away, and he came here to America. He never saw his brother again; his nephew, my cousin, inherited the estates and title, but strange to say, I was the nearest of kin. Five years ago my cousin died; he left no estate, but the title which had been maintained in honor by my ancestors has descended to me, and when you marry Amy you will marry a lord's daughter."

Desmond meditated a moment, and then said:

"I am satisfied to marry the daughter of plain Mr. Brooks."

"Thank you, my son, but I shall clear the estate, and for a season at least dwell in the ancient halls of my ancestors. I will remain to witness your marriage and shall then go home to England. And now comes my last revelation: you and Amy are distantly connected; my remote ancestors were yours also. Your grandfather came down from the younger line a long time back, but blood as good as any one's flows in your veins."

"Yes, from my mother."

"I admit it, from your mother."

Our readers know what followed. Amy and Desmond were married, and on the night of the wedding he remarked to his father-in-law:

"This time I took no desperate chance."

"Neither did Amy when she intrusted her future happiness to you," came the bright and elegant answer.

The whilom wizard tramp did return to England, and it was in the ancestral halls that Desmond and Amy spent their delightful honeymoon.

THE END.

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