"Are you poor?" asked the man, earnestly.
"I have a good situation that pays me fifteen dollars a week, so I ought not to consider myself poor."
"Suppose you had a considerable sum of money given you, what would you do with it?"
"If I had five hundred dollars, I should be able to defeat the schemes of a villain, and restore a young lady to her rights."
"That seems interesting. Tell me the circumstances."
Dodger told the story as briefly as he could. He was encouraged to find that the stranger listened to him with attention.
"Do you know," he said, reflectively, "you have done for me what I once did for another—a rich man? The case was very similar. I was a poor boy at the time. Do you know what he gave me?"
"What was it, sir?"
"A dollar! What do you think of that for generosity?"
"Well, sir, it wasn't exactly liberal. Did you accept it?"
"No. I told him that I didn't wish to inconvenience him. But I asked you how much money you supposed I had. I will tell you. In a wallet I have eleven thousand dollars in bank notes and securities."
"That is a fortune," said Dodger, dazzled at the mention of such a sum.
"If I had lost it, I have plenty more, but the most serious peril was to my life. Through your opportune assistance I have escaped without loss. I fully appreciate the magnitude of the service you have done me. As an evidence of it, please accept these bills."
He drew from the roll two bills and handed them to Dodger.
The boy, glancing at them mechanically, started in amazement. Each bill was for five hundred dollars.
"You have given me a thousand dollars!" he gasped.
"I am aware of it. I consider my life worth that, at least. James Swinton never fails to pay his debts."
"But, sir, a thousand dollars——"
"It's no more than you deserve. When I tell my wife, on my return to Chicago, about this affair, she will blame me for not giving you more."
"You seem to belong to a liberal family, sir."
"I detest meanness, and would rather err on the side of liberality. Now, if agreeable to you, I will order a bottle of champagne, and solace ourselves for this little incident."
"Thank you, Mr. Swinton, but I have made up my mind not to drink anything stronger than water. I have tended bar in New York, and what I have seen has given me a dislike for liquor of any kind."
"You are a sensible young man. You are right, and I won't urge you. There is my card, and if you ever come to Chicago, call upon me."
"I will, sir."
When Dodger left the Palace Hotel he felt that he was a favorite of fortune.
It is not always that the money we need is so quickly supplied.
He resolved to return to New York as soon as he could manage it, and take with him the wife and child of Curtis Waring.
This would cost him about five hundred dollars, and he would have the same amount left.
Mr. Tucker was reluctant to part with Dodger.
"You are the best assistant I ever had," he said. "I will pay you twenty dollars a week, if that will induce you to stay."
"I would stay if it were not very important for me to return to New York, Mr. Tucker. I do not expect to get a place in New York as good."
"If you come back to San Francisco at any time, I will make a place for you."
"Thank you, sir."
Mrs. Waring was overjoyed when Dodger called upon her and offered to take her back to New York.
"I shall see Curtis again," she said. "How can I ever thank you?"
But Dodger, though unwilling to disturb her dreams of happiness, thought it exceedingly doubtful if her husband would be equally glad to see her.
Chapter XXXV. The Darkest Day.
When Florence left the employ of Mrs. Leighton she had a few dollars as a reserve fund. As this would not last long, she at once made an effort to obtain employment.
She desired another position as governess, and made application in answer to an advertisement.
Her ladylike manner evidently impressed the lady to whom she applied.
"I suppose you have taught before?" she said.
"In whose family?"
"I taught the daughter of Mrs. Leighton, of West — Street."
"I have heard of the lady. Of course you are at liberty to refer to her?"
"Yes, madam," but there was a hesitation in her tone that excited suspicion.
"Very well; I will call upon her and make inquiries. If you will call to-morrow morning, I can give you a decisive answer."
Florence fervently hoped that this might prove favorable; but was apprehensive, and with good reason, it appeared.
When she presented herself the next day, Mrs. Cole said:
"I am afraid, Miss Linden, you will not suit me."
"May I ask why?" Florence inquired, schooling herself to calmness.
"I called on Mrs. Leighton," was the answer. "She speaks well of you as a teacher, but—she told me some things which make it seem inexpedient to engage you."
"What did she say of me?"
"That, perhaps, you had better not inquire."
"I prefer to know the worst."
"She said you encouraged the attentions of her nephew, forgetting the difference in social position, and also that your connections were not of a sort to recommend you. I admit, Miss Linden, that you are very ladylike in appearance, but, I can hardly be expected to admit into my house, in the important position of governess to my child, the daughter or niece of an apple-woman."
"Did Mrs. Leighton say that I was related to an apple-woman?"
"Yes, Miss Linden. I own I was surprised."
"It is not true, Mrs. Cole."
"You live in the house of such a person, do you not?"
"Yes, she is an humble friend of mine, and has been kind to me."
"You cannot be very fastidious. However, that is your own affair. I am sorry to disappoint you, Miss Linden, but it will be quite impossible for me to employ you."
"Then I will bid you good-morning, Mrs. Cole," said Florence, sore at heart.
"Good-morning. You will, I think, understand my position. If you applied for a position in one of the public schools, I don't think that your residence would be an objection."
Florence left the house, sad and despondent. She saw that Mrs. Leighton, by her unfriendly representations, would prevent her from getting any opportunity to teach. She must seek some more humble employment.
"Well, Florence, did you get a place?" asked Mrs. O'Keefe, as she passed that lady's stand.
"No, Mrs. O'Keefe," answered Florence, wearily.
"And why not? Did the woman think you didn't know enough?"
"She objected to me because I was not living in a fashionable quarter —at least that was one of her objections."
"I'm sure you've got a nate, clane home, and it looks as nate as wax all the time."
"It isn't exactly stylish," said Florence, with a faint smile.
"You are, at any rate. What does the woman want, I'd like to know?"
"She doesn't want me. It seems Mrs. Leighton did not speak very highly of me."
"The trollop! I'd like to give her a box on the ear, drat her impudence!" said the irate apple-woman. "And what will you be doin' now?"
"Do you think I can get some sewing to do, Mrs. O'Keefe?"
"Yes, Miss Florence—I'll get you some vests to make; but it's hard work and poor pay."
"I must take what I can get," sighed Florence. "I cannot choose."
"If you'd only tend an apple-stand, Miss Florence! There's Mrs. Brady wants to sell out on account of the rheumatics, and I've got a trifle in the savings bank—enough to buy it. You'd make a dollar a day, easy."
"It isn't to be thought of, Mrs. O'Keefe. If you will kindly see about getting me some sewing, I will see how I can get along."
The result was that Mrs. O'Keefe brought Florence in the course of the day half a dozen vests, for which she was to be paid the munificent sum of twenty-five cents each.
Florence had very little idea of what she was undertaking.
She was an expert needlewoman, and proved adequate to the work, but with her utmust industry she could only make one vest in a day, and that would barely pay her rent.
True, she had some money laid aside on which she could draw, but that would soon be expended, and then what was to become of her?
"Shure, I won't let you starve, Florence," said the warm-hearted apple-woman.
"But, Mrs. O'Keefe, I can't consent to live on you."
"And why not? I'm well and strong, and I'm makin' more money than I nade."
"I couldn't think of it, though I thank you for your kindness."
"Shure, you might write a letter to your uncle, Florence."
"He would expect me, in that case, to consent to a marriage with Curtis. You wouldn't advise me to do that?"
"No; he's a mane blackguard, and I'd say it to his face."
Weeks rolled by, and Florence began to show the effects of hard work and confinement.
She grew pale and thin, and her face was habitually sad.
She had husbanded her savings as a governess as closely as she could, but in spite of all her economy it dwindled till she had none left.
Henceforth, she must depend on twenty-five cents a day, and this seemed well-nigh impossible.
In this emergency the pawnbroker occurred to her.
She had a variety of nice dresses, and she had also a handsome ring, given her by her uncle on her last birthday.
This she felt sure must have cost fifty dollars.
It was a trial to part with it, but there seemed to be no alternative.
"If my uncle has withdrawn his affection from me," she said to herself, "why should I scruple to pawn the ring? It is the symbol of a love that no longer exists."
So she entered the pawnbrowker's—the first that attracted her attention—and held out the ring.
"How much will you lend me on this?" she asked, half frightened at finding herself in such a place.
The pawnbroker examined it carefully. His practiced eye at once detected its value, but it was not professional to admit this.
"Rings is a drug in the market, young lady," he said. "I've got more than I know what to do with. I'll give you four—four dollars."
"Four dollars!" repeated Florence, in dismay. "Why, it must have cost fifty. It was bought in Tiffany's."
"You are mistaken, my dear. Did you buy it yourself there?"
"No, my uncle gave it to me."
"He may have said he paid fifty dollars for it," said the pawnbroker, wagging his head, "but we know better."
"But what will you give?" asked Florence, desperately.
"I'll give you five dollars, and not a penny more," said the broker, surveying her distressed face, shrewdly. "You can take it or not."
What could Florence do?
She must have money, and feared that no other pawnbroker would give her more.
"Make out the ticket, then," she said, wearily, with a sigh.
This was done, and she left the place, half timid, half ashamed, and wholly discouraged.
But the darkest hour is sometimes nearest the dawn. A great overwhelming surprise awaited her. She had scarcely left the shop when a glad voice cried:
"I have found you at last, Florence!"
She looked up and saw—Dodger.
But not the old Dodger. She saw a nicely dressed young gentleman, larger than the friend she had parted with six months before, with a brighter, more intelligent, and manly look.
"Dodger!" she faltered.
"Yes, it is Dodger."
"Where did you come from?"
"From San Francisco. But what have you been doing there?"
And Dodger pointed in the direction of the pawnbroker's shop.
"I pawned my ring."
"Then I shall get it back at once. How much did you get on it?"
"Give me the ticket, and go in with me."
The pawnbroker was very reluctant to part with the ring, which he made sure would not be reclaimed; but there was no help for it.
As they emerged into the street, Dodger said: "I've come back to restore you to your rights, and give Curtis Waring the most disagreeable surprise he ever had. Come home, and I'll tell you all about it. I've struck luck, Florence, and you're going to share it."
Chapter XXXVI. Mrs. O'Keefe In A New Role.
No time was lost in seeing Bolton and arranging a plan of campaign.
Curtis Waring, nearing the accomplishment of his plans, was far from anticipating impending disaster.
His uncle's health had become so poor, and his strength had been so far undermined, that it was thought desirable to employ a sick nurse. An advertisement was inserted in a morning paper, which luckily attracted the attention of Bolton.
"You must go, Mrs. O'Keefe," he said to the apple-woman. "It is important that we have some one in the house—some friend of Florence and the boy—to watch what is going on."
"Bridget O'Keefe is no fool. Leave her to manage."
The result was that among a large number of applicants Mrs. O'Keefe was selected by Curtis as Mr. Linden's nurse, as she expressed herself willing to work for four dollars a week, while the lowest outside demand was seven.
We will now enter the house, in which the last scenes of our story are to take place.
Mr. Linden, weak and emaciated, was sitting in an easy-chair in his library.
"How do you feel this morning, uncle?" asked Curtis, entering the room.
"I am very weak, Curtis. I don't think I shall ever be any better."
"I have engaged a nurse, uncle, as you desired, and I expect her this morning."
"That is well, Curtis. I do not wish to confine you to my bedside."
"The nurse is below," said Jane, the servant, entering.
"Send her up."
Mrs. O'Keefe entered in the sober attire of a nurse. She dropped a curtsey.
"Are you the nurse I engaged?" said Curtis.
"Your name, please."
"Mrs. Barnes, sir."
"Have you experience as a nurse?"
"Uncle, this is Mrs. Barnes, your new nurse. I hope you will find her satisfactory."
"She looks like a good woman," said Mr. Linden, feebly. "I think she will suit me."
"Indade, sir, I'll try."
"Uncle," said Curtis, "I have to go downtown. I have some business to attend to. I leave you in the care of Mrs. Barnes."
"Shure, I'll take care of him, sir."
"Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Linden?" asked the new nurse, in a tone of sympathy.
"Can you minister to a mind diseased?"
"I'll take the best care of you, Mr. Linden, but it isn't as if you had a wife or daughter."
"Ah, that is a sore thought! I have no wife or daughter; but I have a niece."
"And where is she, sir?"
"I don't know. I drove her from me by my unkindness. I repent bitterly, but it's now too late."
"And why don't you send for her to come home?"
"I would gladly do so, but I don't know where she is. Curtis has tried to find her, but in vain. He says she is in Chicago."
"And what should take her to Chicago?"
"He says she is there as a governess in a family."
"By the brow of St. Patrick!" thought Mrs. O'Keefe, "if that Curtis isn't a natural-born liar. I'm sure she'd come back if you'd send for her, sir," said she, aloud.
"Do you think so?" asked Linden, eagerly.
"I'm sure of it."
"But I don't know where to send."
"I know of a party that would be sure to find her."
"Who is it?"
"It's a young man. They call him Dodger. If any one can find Miss Florence, he can."
"You know my niece's name?"
"I have heard it somewhere. From Mr. Waring, I think."
"And you think this young man would agree to go to Chicago and find her?"
"Yes, sir, I make bold to say he will."
"Tell him to go at once. He will need money. In yonder desk you will find a picture of my niece and a roll of bills. Give them to him and send him at once."
"Yes, sir, I will. But if you'll take my advice, you won't say anything to Mr. Curtis. He might think it foolish."
"True! If your friend succeeds, we'll give Curtis a surprise."
"And a mighty disagreeable one, I'll be bound," soliloquized Mrs. O'Keefe.
"I think, Mrs. Barnes, I will retire to my chamber, if you will assist me."
She assisted Mr. Linden to his room, and then returned to the library.
"Mrs. Barnes, there's a young man inquiring for you," said Jane, entering.
"Send him in, Jane."
The visitor was Dodger, neatly dressed.
"How are things going, Mrs. O'Keefe?" he asked.
"Splendid, Dodger. Here's some money for you."
"You're to go to Chicago and bring back Florence."
"But she isn't there."
"Nivir mind. You're to pretend to go."
"But that won't take money."
"Give it to Florence, then. It's hers by rights. Won't we give Curtis a surprise? Where's his wife?"
"I have found a comfortable boarding house for her. When had we better carry out this programme? She's very anxious to see her husband."
"The more fool she. Kape her at home and out of his sight, or there's no knowin' what he'll do. And, Dodger, dear, kape an eye on the apple-stand. I mistrust Mrs. Burke that's runnin' it."
"I will. Does the old gentleman seem to be very sick?"
"He's wake as a rat. Curtis would kill him soon if we didn't interfere. But we'll soon circumvent him, the snake in the grass! Miss Florence will soon come to her own, and Curtis Waring will be out in the cold."
"The most I have against him is that he tried to marry Florence when he had a wife already."
"He's as bad as they make 'em, Dodger. It won't be my fault if Mr. Linden's eyes are not opened to his wickedness."
Chapter XXXVII. The Diplomacy Of Mrs. O'Keefe.
Mrs. O'Keefe was a warm-hearted woman, and the sad, drawn face of Mr. Linden appealed to her pity.
"Why should I let the poor man suffer when I can relieve him?" she asked herself.
So the next morning, after Curtis had, according to his custom, gone downtown, being in the invalid's sick chamber, she began to act in a mysterious manner. She tiptoed to the door, closed it and approached Mr. Linden's bedside with the air of one about to unfold a strange story.
"Whist now," she said, with her finger on her lips.
"What is the matter?" asked the invalid, rather alarmed.
"Can you bear a surprise, sir?"
"Have you any bad news for me?"
"No; it's good news, but you must promise not to tell Curtis."
"Is it about Florence? Your messenger can hardly have reached Chicago."
"He isn't going there, sir."
"But you promised that he should," said Mr. Linden, disturbed.
"I'll tell you why, sir. Florence is not in Chicago."
"I—I don't understand. You said she was there."
"Begging your pardon, sir, it was Curtis that said so, though he knew she was in New York."
"But what motive could he have had for thus misrepresenting matters?"
"He doesn't want you to take her back."
"I can't believe you, Mrs. Barnes. He loves her, and wants to marry her."
"He couldn't marry her if she consented to take him."
"Why not? Mrs. Barnes, you confuse me."
"I won't deceive you as he has done. There's rason in plinty. He's married already."
"Is this true?" demanded Mr. Linden, in excitement.
"It's true enough; more by token, to-morrow, whin he's out, his wife will come here and tell you so herself."
"But who are you who seem to know so much about my family?"
"I'm a friend of the pore girl you've driven from the house, because she would not marry a rascally spalpeen that's been schemin' to get your property into his hands."
"You're a friend of Florence? Where is she?"
"She's in my house, and has been there ever since she left her home."
"As well as she can be whin she's been workin' her fingers to the bone wid sewin' to keep from starvin'."
"My God! what have I done?"
"You've let Curtis Waring wind you around his little finger—that's what you've done, Mr. Linden."
"How soon can I see Florence?"
"How soon can you bear it?"
"The sooner the better."
"Then it'll be to-morrow, I'm thinkin', that is if you won't tell Curtis."
"No, no; I promise."
"I'll manage everything, sir. Don't worry now."
Mr. Linden's face lost its anxious look—so that when, later in the day, Curtis looked into the room he was surprised.
"My uncle looks better," he said.
"Yes, sir," answered the nurse. "I've soothed him like."
"Indeed! You seem to be a very accomplished nurse."
"Faith, that I am, sir, though it isn't I that should say it."
"May I ask how you soothed him?" inquired Curtis, anxiously.
"I told him that Miss Florence would soon be home."
"I do not think it right to hold out hopes that may prove ill-founded."
"I know what I am about, Mr. Curtis."
"I dare say you understand your business, Mrs. Barnes, but if my uncle should be disappointed, I am afraid the consequences will be lamentable."
"Do you think he'll live long, sir?"
Curtis shrugged his shoulders.
"It is very hard to tell. My uncle is a very feeble man."
"And if he dies, I suppose the property goes to you?"
"I suppose so."
"But where does Florence come in?"
"It seems to me, Mrs. Barnes, that you take a good deal of interest in our family affairs," said Curtis, suspiciously.
"That's true, sir. Why shouldn't I take an interest in a nice gentleman like you?"
"I am doing my best to find Florence. Then our marriage will take place, and it matters little to whom the property is left."
"But I thought Miss Florence didn't care to marry you?"
"It is only because she thinks cousins ought not to marry. It's a foolish fancy, and she'll get over it."
"Thrue for you, sir. My first husband was my cousin, and we always agreed, barrin' an occasional fight——"
"I don't think Florence and I will ever fight, Mrs. Barnes."
"What surprises me, Mr. Curtis, is that a nice-lookin' gentleman like you hasn't been married before."
Curtis eyed her keenly, but her face told him nothing.
"I never saw one I wanted to marry till my cousin grew up," he said.
"I belave in marryin', meself. I was first married at sivinteen."
"How long ago was that, Mrs. Barnes?"
"It's long ago, Mr. Curtis. I'm an old woman now. I was thirty-five last birthday."
Curtis came near laughing outright, for he suspected—what was true— that the nurse would never see her fiftieth birthday again.
"Then you are just my age," he said.
"If I make him laugh he won't suspect nothing," soliloquized the wily nurse. "That's a pretty big lie, even for me."
"Shure I look older, Mr. Curtis," she said, aloud. "What wid the worry of losin' two fond husbands, I look much older than you."
"Oh, your are very well preserved, Mrs. Barnes."
Curtis went into his uncle's chamber.
"How are you feeling, uncle?" he asked.
"I think I am better," answered Mr. Linden, coldly, for he had not forgotten Mrs. Barnes' revelations.
"That is right. Only make an effort, and you will soon be strong again."
"I think I may. I may live ten years to annoy you."
"I fervently hope so," said Curtis, but there was a false ring in his voice that his uncle detected. "How do you like the new nurse?"
"She is helping me wonderfully. You made a good selection."
"I will see that she is soon discharged," Curtis inwardly resolved. "If her being here is to prolong my uncle's life, and keep me still waiting for the estate, I must clear the house of her."
"You must not allow her to buoy you up with unfounded hopes. She has been telling you that Florence will soon return."
"Yes; she seems convinced of it."
"Of course she knows nothing of it. She may return, but I doubt whether she is in Chicago now. I think the family she was with has gone to Europe."
"Where did you hear that, Curtis?" asked Mr. Linden, with unwonted sharpness.
"I have sources of information which at present I do not care to impart. Rest assured that I am doing all I can to get her back."
"You still want to marry her, Curtis?"
"I do, most certainly."
"I shall not insist upon it. I should not have done so before."
"Have you changed your mind, uncle?"
"Yes; I have made a mistake, and I have decided to correct it."
"What has come over him?" Curtis asked himself. "Some influence hostile to me has been brought to bear. It must be that nurse. I will quietly dismiss her to-morrow, paying her a week's wages, in lieu of warning. She's evidently a meddler."
Chapter XXXVIII. The Closing Scene.
The next day Tim Bolton, dressed in a jaunty style, walked up the steps of the Linden mansion.
"Is Mr. Waring at home?" he asked.
"No, sir; he has gone downtown."
"I'll step in and wait for him. Please show me to the library."
Jane, who had been taken into confidence by the nurse, showed him at once into the room mentioned.
Half an hour later Curtis entered.
"How long have you been here, Bolton?"
"But a short time. You sent for me?"
"Is there anything new?"
"Yes, my uncle is failing fast."
"Is he likely to die soon?"
"I shouldn't be surprised if he died within a week."
"I suspect Curtis means to help him! Well, what has that to do with me?" he asked. "You will step into the property, of course?"
"There is a little difficulty in the way which I can overcome with your help."
"What is it?"
"I can't get him to give up the foolish notion that the boy he lost is still alive."
"It happens to be true."
"Yes; but he must not know it. Before he dies I want him to make a new will, revoking all others, leaving all the property to me."
"Will he do it?"
"I don't know. As long as he thinks the boy is living, I don't believe he will. You see what a drawback that is."
"I see. What can I do to improve the situation?"
"I want you to sign a paper confessing that you abducted the boy——"
"At your instigation?"
"That must not be mentioned. You will go on to say that a year or two later—the time is not material—he died of typhoid fever. You can say that you did not dare to reveal this before, but do so now, impelled by remorse."
"Have you got it written out? I can't remember all them words."
"Yes; here it is."
"All right," said Bolton, taking the paper and tucking it into an inside pocket. "I'll copy it out in my own handwriting. How much are you going to give me for doing this?"
"A thousand dollars."
"I can't do that. I have met with losses at the gaming table, and I don't dare ask money from my uncle at this time. He thinks I am thoroughly steady."
"At how much do you value the estate?"
"At four hundred thousand dollars. I wormed it out of my uncle's lawyer the other day."
"And you expect me to help you to that amount for only a thousand dollars?"
"A thousand dollars is a good deal of money."
"And so is four hundred thousand. After all, your uncle may not die."
"He is sure to."
"You seem very confident."
"And with good reason. Leave that to me. I promise you, on my honor, to pay you two thousand dollars when I get the estate."
"But what is going to happen to poor Dodger, the rightful heir?"
"Well, let it be three hundred dollars a year, then."
"Where is he now?"
"I don't mind telling you, as it can do no harm. He is in California."
"Whew! That was smart. How did you get him there?"
"I drugged him, and had him sent on board a ship bound for San Francisco, around Cape Horn. The fact is, I was getting a little suspicious of you, and I wanted to put you beyond the reach of temptation."
"You are a clever rascal, Curtis. After all, suppose the prize should slip through your fingers?"
"It won't. I have taken every precaution."
"When do you want this document?"
"Bring it back to me this afternoon, copied and signed. That is all you have to do; I will attend to the rest."
While this conversation was going on there were unseen listeners.
Behind a portiere Mrs. Barnes, the nurse, and John Linden heard every word that was said.
"And what do you think now, sir?" whispered Mrs. O'Keefe (to give her real name).
"It is terrible. I would not have believed Curtis capable of such a crime. But is it really true, Mrs. Barnes? Is my lost boy alive?"
"To be sure he is."
"Have you seen him?"
"I know him as well as I know you, sir, and better, too."
"Is he—tell me, is he a good boy? Curtis told me that he might be a criminal."
"He might, but he isn't. He's as dacent and honest a boy as iver trod shoe leather. You'll be proud of him, sir."
"But he's in California."
"He was; but he's got back. You shall see him to-day, and Florence, too. Hark! I hear the door bell. They're here now. I think you had better go in and confront Curtis."
"I feel weak, Mrs. Barnes. Let me lean on you."
"You can do that, and welcome, sir."
The nurse pushed aside the portiere, and the two entered the library— Mrs. Barnes rotund and smiling, Mr. Linden gaunt and spectral looking, like one risen from the grave.
Curtis eyed the pair with a startled look.
"Mrs. Barnes," he said, angrily, "what do you mean by taking my uncle from his bed and bringing him down here? It is as much as his life is worth. You seem unfit for your duties as nurse. You will leave the house to-morrow, and I will engage a substitute."
"I shall lave whin I git ready, Mr. Curtis Waring," said the nurse, her arms akimbo. "Maybe somebody else will lave the house. Me and Mr. Linden have been behind the curtain for twenty minutes, and he has heard every word you said."
Curtis turned livid, and his heart sank.
"It's true, Curtis," said John Linden's hollow voice. "I have heard all. It was you who abducted my boy, and have made my life a lonely one all these years. Oh, man! man! how could you have the heart to do it?"
Curtis stared at him with parched lips, unable to speak.
"Not content with this, you drove from the house my dear niece, Florence. You made me act cruelly toward her. I fear she will not forgive me."
But just then the door opened, and Florence, rushing into the room, sank at her uncle's feet.
"Oh, uncle," she said, "will you take me back?"
"Yes, Florence, never again to leave me. And who is this?" he asked, fixing his eyes on Dodger, who stood shyly in the doorway.
"I'll tell you, sir," said Tim Bolton. "That is your own son, whom I stole away from you when he was a kid, being hired to do it by Curtis Waring."
"It's a lie," said Curtis, hoarsely.
"Come to me, my boy," said Mr. Linden, with a glad light in his eyes.
"At last Heaven has heard my prayers," he ejaculated. "We will never be separated. I was ready to die, but now I hope to live for many years. I feel that I have a new lease of life."
With a baffled growl Curtis Waring darted a furious look at the three.
"That boy is an impostor," he said. "They are deceiving you."
"He is my son. I see his mother's look in his face. As for you, Curtis Waring, my eyes are open at last to your villainy. You deserve nothing at my hands; but I will make some provision for you."
There was another surprise.
Curtis Waring's deserted wife, brought from California by Dodger, entered the room, leading by the hand a young child.
"Oh, Curtis," she said, reproachfully. "How could you leave me? I have come to you, my husband, with our little child."
"Begone! woman!" said Curtis, furiously. "I will never receive or recognize you!"
"Oh, sir!" she said, turning to Mr. Linden, "what shall I do?"
"Curtis Waring," said Mr. Linden, sternly, "unless you receive this woman and treat her properly, you shall receive nothing from me."
"And if I do?"
"You will receive an income of two thousand dollars a year, payable quarterly. Mrs. Waring, you will remain here with your child till your husband provides another home for you."
Curtis slunk out of the room, but he was too wise to refuse his uncle's offer.
He and his wife are living in Chicago, and he treats her fairly well, fearing that, otherwise, he will lose his income.
Mr. Linden looks ten years younger than he did at the opening of the story.
Florence and Dodger—now known as Harvey Linden—live with him.
Dodger, under a competent private tutor, is making up the deficiencies in his education.
It is early yet to speak of marriage, but it is possible that Florence may marry a cousin, after all.
Tim Bolton has turned over a new leaf, given up his saloon, and is carrying on a country hotel within fifty miles of New York.
He has five thousand dollars in the bank, presented by Dodger, with his father's sanction, and is considered quite a reputable citizen.
As for Mrs. O'Keefe, she still keeps the apple-stand, being unwilling to give it up; but she, too, has a handsome sum in the bank, and calls often upon her two children, as she calls them.
In the midst of their prosperity Florence and Dodger will never forget the time when they were adrift in New York.
* * * * *
A. L. Burt's Catalogue of Books for Young People by Popular Writers, 52-58 Duane Street, New York
BOOKS FOR BOYS.
Joe's Luck: A Boy's Adventures in California. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
The story is chock full of stirring incidents, while the amusing situations are furnished by Joshua Bickford, from Pumpkin Hollow, and the fellow who modestly styles himself the "Rip-tail Roarer, from Pike Co., Missouri." Mr. Alger never writes a poor book, and "Joe's Luck" is certainly one of his best.
Tom the Bootblack; or, The Road to Success. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
A bright, enterprising lad was Tom the Bootblack. He was not at all ashamed of his humble calling, though always on the lookout to better himself. The lad started for Cincinnati to look up his heritage. Mr. Grey, the uncle, did not hesitate to employ a ruffian to kill the lad. The plan failed, and Gilbert Grey, once Tom the bootblack, came into a comfortable fortune. This is one of Mr. Alger's best stories.
Dan the Newsboy. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Dan Mordaunt and his mother live in a poor tenement, and the lad is pluckily trying to make ends meet by selling papers in the streets of New York. A little heiress of six years is confided to the care of the Mordaunts. The child is kidnapped and Dan tracks the child to the house where she is hidden, and rescues her. The wealthy aunt of the little heiress is so delighted with Dan's courage and many good qualities that she adopts him as her heir.
Tony the Hero: A Brave Boy's Adventure with a Tramp. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Tony, a sturdy bright-eyed boy of fourteen, is under the control of Rudolph Rugg, a thorough rascal. After much abuse Tony runs away and gets a job as stable boy in a country hotel. Tony is heir to a large estate. Rudolph for a consideration hunts up Tony and throws him down a deep well. Of course Tony escapes from the fate provided for him, and by a brave act, a rich friend secures his rights and Tony is prosperous. A very entertaining book.
The Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
The career of "The Errand Boy" embraces the city adventures of a smart country lad. Philip was brought up by a kind-hearted innkeeper, named Brent. The death of Mrs. Brent paved the way for the hero's subsequent troubles. A retired merchant in New York secures him the situation of errand boy, and thereafter stands as his friend.
Tom Temple's Career. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Tom Temple is a bright, self-reliant lad. He leaves Plympton village to seek work in New York, whence he undertakes an important mission to California. Some of his adventures in the far west are so startling that the reader will scarcely close the book until the last page shall have been reached. The tale is written in Mr. Alger's most fascinating style.
* * * * * * * * * * * * For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
BOOKS FOR BOYS.
Frank Fowler, the Cash Boy. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Frank Fowler, a poor boy, bravely determines to make a living for himself and his foster-sister Grace. Going to New York he obtains a situation as cash boy in a dry goods store. He renders a service to a wealthy old gentleman who takes a fancy to the lad, and thereafter helps the lad to gain success and fortune.
Tom Thatcher's Fortune. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Tom Thatcher is a brave, ambitious, unselfish boy. He supports his mother and sister on meagre wages earned as a shoe-pegger in John Simpson's factory. Tom is discharged from the factory and starts overland for California. He meets with many adventures. The story is told in a way which has made Mr. Alger's name a household word in so many homes.
The Train Boy. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Paul Palmer was a wide-awake boy of sixteen who supported his mother and sister by selling books and papers on the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad. He detects a young man in the act of picking the pocket of a young lady. In a railway accident many passengers are killed, but Paul is fortunate enough to assist a Chicago merchant, who out of gratitude takes him into his employ. Paul succeeds with tact and judgment and is well started on the road to business prominence.
Mark Mason's Victory. The Trials and Triumphs of a Telegraph Boy. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Mark Mason, the telegraph boy, was a sturdy, honest lad, who pluckily won his way to success by his honest manly efforts under many difficulties. This story will please the very large class of boys who regard Mr. Alger as a favorite author.
A Debt of Honor. The Story of Gerald Lane's Success in the Far West. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
The story of Gerald Lane and the account of the many trials and disappointments which he passed through before he attained success, will interest all boys who have read the previous stories of this delightful author.
Ben Bruce. Scenes in the Life of a Bowery Newsboy. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
Ben Bruce was a brave, manly, generous boy. The story of his efforts, and many seeming failures and disappointments, and his final success, are most interesting to all readers. The tale is written in Mr. Alger's most fascinating style.
The Castaways; or, On the Florida Reefs. By James Otis. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.
This tale smacks of the salt sea. From the moment that the Sea Queen leaves lower New York bay till the breeze leaves her becalmed off the coast of Florida, one can almost hear the whistle of the wind through her rigging, the creak of her straining cordage as she heels to the leeward. The adventures of Ben Clark, the hero of the story and Jake the cook, cannot fail to charm the reader. As a writer for young people Mr. Otis is a prime favorite.
* * * * * * * * * * * * For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Typographical errors have been left as found, including:
"I do not love him," ending with a comma in chapter 4. "siezed" and "doubtfullly" in chapter 5. "soliloqized" in chapter 16. "Eactly" in chapter 18. "ascertainel" in chapter 22. "San Farncisco" in chapter 23. "Stauss" in chapter 29. "thas" in chapter 33. "utmust" in chapter 35.
Dialect has been left as printed, even where inconsistent.
Accented letters and ligatures have been removed in the plain text version.