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The Young Musician - or, Fighting His Way
by Horatio Alger
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"Why, Morris Lovett," he exclaimed "I didn't know you were here!"

"Yes; I'm clerk in a store. Are you the one that is going to give an entertainment tonight?"

"Yes," answered Philip, smiling.

"I didn't know you were such a great player," said Morris, regarding our hero with new respect.

He had read the morning paper.

"Nor I," said Philip, laughing.

"Are you going to Europe soon?"

"It isn't decided yet!" Philip answered, laughing.

"I wish I had your chance."

"Come and hear me this evening, at any rate," said Philip. "Call at the hotel, at six o'clock, and I'll give you a ticket."

"I'll be sure to come," said Morris, well pleased.



CHAPTER XXVIII. A TRIUMPHANT SUCCESS.



Philip took another walk in the afternoon, and was rather amused to see how much attention he received. When he drew near the hotel he was stared at by several gaping youngsters, who apparently were stationed there for no other purpose. He overheard their whispers:

"That's him! That's Philip de Gray, the wonderful fiddler!"

"I never suspected, when I lived at Norton, that I was so much of a curiosity," he said to himself. "I wish I knew what they'll say about me to-morrow."

At six o'clock Morris Lovett called and received his ticket.

"You'll have a big house to-night, Philip," he said. "I know a lot of fellows that are going."

"I am glad to hear it," said Philip, well pleased, for he concluded that if such were the case his purse would be considerably heavier the next day.

"It's strange how quick you've come up;" said Morris. "I never expected you'd be so famous."

"Nor I," said Philip, laughing.

"I'd give anything if I could have my name posted round like yours."

"Perhaps you will have, some time."

"Oh, no! I couldn't play more'n a pig," said Morris decidedly. "I'll have to be a clerk, and stick to business."

"You'll make more money in the end that way, Morris, even if your name isn't printed in capitals."

They retired into a small room adjoining the stage, to prepare for their appearance.

The professor rubbed his hands in glee.

"Did you see what a house we have, Mr. de Gray?"

"Yes, professor."

"I think there'll be a hundred dollars over and above expenses."

"That will be splendid!" said Philip, naturally elated.

"The firm of Riccaboeca and De Gray is starting swimmingly."

"So it is. I hope it will continue so."

"Here is the program, Mr. de Gray. You will observe that I appear first, in my famous soliloquy. You will follow, with the 'Carnival of Venice.' Do you feel agitated?"

"Oh, no. I am so used to playing that I shall not feel at all bashful."

"That is well."

"I would like to be on the stage, professor, to hear you."

"Certainly. I have anticipated your desire, and provided an extra chair."

The time came, and Professor Riccabocca stepped upon the stage, his manner full of dignity, and advanced to the desk. Philip took a chair a little to the rear.

Their entrance was greeted by hearty applause. The professor made a stately bow, and a brief introductory speech, in which he said several things about Philip and himself which rather astonished our hero. Then he began to recite the soliloquy.

Probably it was never before so amazingly recited. Professor Riccabocca's gestures, facial contortions, and inflections were very remarkable. Philip almost suspected that he was essaying a burlesque role.

The mature portion of the audience were evidently puzzled, but the small boys were delighted, and with some of the young men, stamped vigorously at the close.

Professor Riccabocea bowed modestly, and said:

"Gentlemen and ladies, you will now have the pleasure of listening to the young and talented Philip de Gray, the wonderful boy-musician, in his unrivaled rendition of the 'Carnival of Venice.'"

Philip rose, coloring a little with shame a I this high-flown introduction, and came forward.

All applauded heartily, for sympathy is always felt for a young performer, especially when he has a manly bearing and an attractive face, such as our hero possessed.

Philip was determined to do his best. Indeed, after being advertised and announced as a boy wonder, he felt that he could not do otherwise.

He commenced, and soon lost himself in the music he loved so well, so that before he had half finished he had quite forgotten his audience, and half started at the boisterous applause which followed. He bowed his acknowledgments, but found this would not do.

He was forced to play it a second time, greatly to the apparent satisfaction of the audience. It was clear that, whatever might be thought of Professor Riccabocea's recitation, the young violinist had not disappointed his audience.

Philip could see, in a seat near the stage, the beaming face of his friend Morris Lovett, who was delighted at the success of his old acquaintance, and anticipated the reflected glory which he received, from its being known that he was a friend of the wonderful young musician.

Professor Riccabocca came forward again, and recited a poem called "The Maniac," each stanza ending with the line: "I am not mad, but soon shall be."

He stamped, raved, tore his hair, and made altogether a very grotesque appearance.

Philip could hardly forbear laughing, and some of the boys in the front seats didn't restrain themselves, Some of the older people wondered how such a man should be selected by the Prince of Wales to instruct his sons in elocution—not suspecting that the newspaper paragraph making mention of this was only a daring invention of the eminent professor.

Next came another musical selection by Philip, which was as cordially received as the first.

I do not propose to weary the reader by a recital of the program and a detailed account of each performance. It is enough to say that Professor Riccabocca excited some amusement, but was only tolerated for the sake of Philip's playing.

Naturally, our hero was better received on account of his youth, but had he been twice as old his playing would have given satisfaction and pleasure.

So passed an hour and a half, and the musical entertainment was over. Philip felt that he had reason to be satisfied. Highly as he had been heralded, no one appeared to feel disappointed by his part of the performance.

"Mr. de Gray," said the professor, when they reached the hotel, "you did splendidly. We have made a complete success."

"It is very gratifying," said Philip.

"I felt sure that the public would appreciate us. I think I managed everything shrewdly."

"How much was paid in at the door?" asked Philip, who naturally felt interested in this phase of success.

"One hundred and forty-five dollars and a half!" answered the professor.

Philip's eyes sparkled.

"And how much will that be over and above expenses?" he asked.

"My dear Mr. de Gray, we will settle all bills, and make a fair and equitable division, in the morning. I think there will be a little more than fifty dollars to come to each of us."

"Fifty dollars for one evening's work!" repeated Philip, his eyes sparkling.

"Oh, I have done much better than that," said the professor. "I remember once at St. Louis I made for myself alone one hundred and eighty dollars net, and in Chicago a little more."

"I didn't think it was such a money-making business," said Philip, elated.

"Yes, Mr. de Gray, the American people are willing to recognize talent, when it is genuine. You are on the threshold of a great career, my dear young friend."

"And only a week since I was in the Norton Poorhouse," thought Philip. "It is certainly a case of romance in real life."

The two went to bed soon, being fatigued by their exertions. The apartment was large, and contained two beds, a larger and smaller one. The latter was occupied by our hero.

When he awoke in the morning, the sun was shining brightly into the room. Philip looked toward the opposite bed. It was empty.

"Professor Riccabocca must have got up early," he thought. "Probably he did not wish to wake me."

He dressed and went downstairs.

"Where is the professor?" he asked of the clerk.

"He started away two hours since—said he was going to take a walk. Went away without his breakfast, too. He must be fond of walking."

Philip turned pale. He was disturbed by a terrible suspicion. Had the professor gone off for good, carrying all the money with him?



CHAPTER XXIX. BESET BY CREDITORS.



Philip was still a boy, and though he had discovered that the professor was something of a humbug, and a good deal of a braggart, it had not for a moment occurred to him that he would prove dishonest. Even now he did not want to believe it, though he was nervously apprehensive that it might prove true.

"I will take my breakfast," he said, as coolly as was possible, "and the professor will probably join me before I am through."

The clerk and the landlord thought otherwise. They were pretty well convinced that Riccabocca was dishonest, and quietly sent for those to whom the "combination" was indebted: namely, the printer and publisher of the Daily Bulletin, the agent of the music-hall, and the bill-sticker who had posted notices of the entertainment. These parties arrived while Philip was at breakfast.

"Gentlemen," said the landlord, "the boy is at breakfast. I think he is all right, but I don't know. The professor, I fear, is a swindle."

"The boy is liable for our debts," said the agent. "He belongs to the combination."

"I am afraid he is a victim as well as you," said the landlord. "He seemed surprised to hear that the professor had gone out."

"It may all be put on. Perhaps he is in the plot, and is to meet the old fraud at some place fixed upon, and divide the booty," suggested the agent.

"The boy looks honest," said the landlord. "I like his appearance. We will see what he has to say."

So when Philip had finished his breakfast he was summoned to the parlor, where he met the creditors of the combination.

"These gentlemen," said the landlord, "have bills against you and the professor. It makes no difference whether they receive pay from you or him."

Poor Philip's heart sank within him.

"I was hoping Professor Riccabocca had settled your bills," he said. "Please show them to me."

This was done with alacrity.

Philip found that they owed five dollars for the hall, five dollars for advertising and printing, and one dollar for bill-posting—eleven dollars in all.

"Mr. Gates," said our hero uneasily, to the landlord, "did Professor Riccabocca say anything about coming back when he went out this morning?"

"He told my clerk he would be back to breakfast," said the landlord; adding, with a shrug of the shoulders: "That was two hours and a half ago. He can't be very hungry."

"He didn't pay his bill, I suppose?"

"No, of course not. He had not given up his room."

Philip became more and more uneasy.

"Didn't you know anything about his going out?" asked the landlord.

"No, sir. I was fast asleep."

"Is the professor in the habit of taking long morning walks?"

"I don't know."

"That is strange, since you travel together," remarked the publisher.

"I never saw him till day before yesterday," said Philip.

The creditors looked at each other significantly. They began to suspect that Philip also was a victim.

"Do you know how much money was received for tickets last evening?"

"About a hundred and fifty dollars."

"How much of this were you to receive?"

"Half of what was left after the bills were paid."

"Have you received it?" asked the agent.

"Not a cent," answered Philip.

"What do you think about the situation?"

"I think that Professor Riccabocca has swindled us all," answered Philip promptly.

"Our bills ought to be paid," said the agent, who was rather a hard man in his dealings.

"I agree with you," said Philip. "I wish I were able to pay them, but I have only six dollars in my possession."

"That will pay me, and leave a dollar over," suggested the agent.

"If it comes to that," said the printer, "I claim that I ought to be paid first."

"I am a poor man," said the bill-sticker. "I need my money."

Poor Philip was very much disconcerted. It was a new thing for him to owe money which he could not repay.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I have myself been cheated out of fifty dollars, at least—my share of the profits. I wish I could pay you all. I cannot do so now. Whenever I can I will certainly do it."

"You can pay us a part with the money you have," said the agent.

"I owe Mr. Gates for nearly two days' board," he said. "That is my own affair, and I must pay him first."

"I don't see why he should be preferred to me," grumbled the agent; then, with a sudden, happy thought, as he termed it, he said: "I will tell you how you can pay us all."

"How?" asked Philip.

"You have a violin. You can sell that for enough to pay our bills."

Poor Philip! His violin was his dependence. Besides the natural attachment he felt for it, he relied upon it to secure him a living, and the thought of parting with it was bitter.

"Gentlemen," he said, "if you take my violin, I have no way of making a living. If you will consider that I, too, am a victim of this man, I think you will not wish to inflict such an injury upon me."

"I do not, for one," said the publisher. "I am not a rich man, and I need all the money that is due me, but I wouldn't deprive the boy of his violin."

"Nor I," said the bill-sticker.

"That's all very fine," said the agent; "but I am not so soft as you two. Who knows but the boy is in league with the professor?"

"I know it!" said the landlord stoutly. "The boy is all right, or I am no judge of human nature."

"Thank you, Mr. Gates," said Philip, extending his hand to his generous defender.

"Do you expect we will let you off without paying anything?" demanded the agent harshly.

"If I live, sir, you shall lose nothing by me," said Philip.

"That won't do!" said the man coarsely. "I insist upon the fiddle being sold. I'll give five dollars for it, and call it square."

"Mr. Gunn," said the landlord, in a tone of disgust, "since you are disposed to persecute this boy, I will myself pay your bill, and trust to him to repay me when he can."

"But, Mr. Gates—" said Philip.

"I accept!" said the agent, with alacrity.

"Receipt your bill," said the landlord.

Mr. Gunn did so, and received a five-dollar bill in return.

"Now sir," said the landlord coldly, "if you have no further business here, we can dispense with your company."

"It strikes me you are rather hard on a man because he wants to be paid his honest dues!" whined Gunn, rather uncomfortably.

"We understand you, sir," said the landlord. "We have not forgotten how you turned a poor family into the street, in the dead of winter, because they could not pay their rent."

"Could I afford to give them house-room?" inquired Gunn.

"Perhaps not. At any rate, I don't feel inclined to give you house-room any longer."

Mr. Gunn slunk out of the room, under the impression that his company was no longer desired.

"Mr. Gray," said the publisher, "I hope you don't class me with the man who has just gone out. I would sooner never be paid than deprive you of your violin. Let the account stand, and if you are ever able to pay me half of my bill—your share—I shall be glad to receive it."

"Thank you, sir!" said Philip, "You shall not repent your confidence in me."

"I say ditto to my friend, the publisher," said the bill-poster.

"Wait a moment, gentlemen," said Philip. "There is a bare possibility that I can do something for you."

For the first time since he left Norton he thought of the letter which he was not to open till he was fifty miles from Norton.

"Mr. Gates," he said, "can you tell me how far Norton is from here?"

"About sixty miles," answered the landlord in surprise.

"Then it's all right."



CHAPTER XXX. A TIMELY GIFT.



The reader has not forgotten that Farmer Lovett, when Philip refused to accept any compensation for assisting to frustrate the attempt at burglary, handed him a sealed envelope, which he requested him not to open till he was fifty miles away from Norton.

Philip had carried this about in his pocket ever since. He had thought of it as likely to contain some good advice at the time; but it had since occurred to him that the farmer had not had time to write down anything in that line.

He was disposed to think that the mysterious envelope might contain a five-dollar bill, as a slight acknowledgment of his services.

Though Philip had declined receiving any payment, it did seem to him now that this amount of money would relieve him from considerable embarrassment. He therefore drew a penknife from his pocket and cut open the envelope.

What was his amazement when he drew out three bills—two twenties and a ten—fifty dollars in all! There was a slip of paper, on which was written, in pencil:

"Don't hesitate to use this money, if you need it, as you doubtless will. I can spare it as well as not, and shall be glad if it proves of use to one who has done me a great service. JOHN LOVETT."

"What's that!" asked the landlord, regarding Philip with interest.

"Some money which I did not know I possessed," answered Philip.

"How much is there?"

"Fifty dollars."

"And you didn't know you had it?" asked the publisher—rather incredulously, it must be owned.

"No, sir; I was told not to open this envelope till I was fifty miles away from where it was given me. Of course, Mr. Gates, I am now able to pay all my bills, and to repay you for what you handed Mr. Gunn."

"I am pleased with your good fortune," said the landlord cordially.

"Thank you, sir."

"But I am sorry your knavish partner has cheated you out of so much money."

"I shall make him pay it if I can," said Philip resolutely.

"I approve your pluck, and I wish you success."

"He owes you money, too, Mr. Gates. Give me the bill, and I will do my best to collect it."

"If you collect it, you may have it," said Gates. "I don't care much for the money, but I should like to have the scamp compelled to fork it over."

"I wish I knew where he was likely to be," said Philip.

"He may go to Knoxville," suggested the publisher.

"How far is that?"

"Ten miles."

"What makes you think he will go to Knoxville?" asked the landlord.

"He may think of giving a performance there. It is a pretty large place."

"But wouldn't he be afraid to do it, after the pranks he has played here?"

"Perhaps so. At any rate, he is very likely to go there."

"I will go there and risk it," said Philip. "He needn't think he is going to get off so easily, even if it is only a boy he has cheated."

"That's the talk, Mr. Gray!" said the landlord. "How are you going?" he asked, a minute later.

"I can walk ten miles well enough," answered Philip.

He had considerable money now, but he reflected that he should probably need it all, especially if he did not succeed in making the professor refund, and decided that it would be well to continue to practice economy.

"I have no doubt you can," said the landlord, "but it will be better not to let the professor get too much the start of you. I will myself have a horse harnessed, and take you most of the distance in my buggy."

"But, Mr. Gates, won't it be putting you to a great deal of trouble?"

"Not at all. I shall enjoy a ride this morning, and the road to Knoxville is a very pleasant one."

"Let me pay something for the ride, then."

"Not a cent. You will need all your money, and I can carry you just as well as not," said the landlord heartily.

"I am very fortunate in such a kind friend," said Philip gratefully.

"Oh, it isn't worth talking about! Here, Jim, go out and harness the horse directly."

When the horse was brought round, Philip was all ready, and jumped in.

"Would you like to drive, Mr. Gray?" asked the landlord.

"Yes," answered Philip, with alacrity.

"Take the lines, then," said the landlord.

Most boys of Philip's age are fond of driving, and our hero was no exception to the rule, as the landlord supposed.

"You'll promise not to upset me," said Mr. Gates, smiling. "I am getting stout, and the consequences might be serious."

"Oh, I am used to driving," said Philip, "and I will take care not to tip over."

The horse was a good one, and to Philip's satisfaction, went over the road in good style.

Philip enjoyed driving, but, of course, his mind could not help dwelling on the special object of his journey.

"I hope we are on the right track," he said. "I shouldn't like to miss the professor."

"You will soon know, at any rate," said Gates. "It seems to me," he continued, "that Riccabocca made a great mistake in running off with that money."

"He thought it would be safe to cheat a boy."

"Yes; but admitting all that, you two were likely to make money. In Wilkesville your profits were a hundred dollars in one evening. Half of that belonged to the professor, at any rate. He has lost his partner, and gained only fifty dollars, which would not begin to pay him for your loss."

"Perhaps he thought he would draw as well alone."

"Then he is very much mistaken. To tell the plain truth, our people thought very little of his share of the performance. I saw some of them laughing when he was ranting away. It was you they enjoyed hearing."

"I am glad of that," said Philip, gratified.

"There's no humbug about your playing. You understand it. It was you that saved the credit of the evening, and sent people away well satisfied."

"I am glad of that, at any rate, even if I didn't get a cent for my playing," said Philip, well pleased.

"The money's the practical part of it," said the landlord. "Of course, I am glad when travelers like my hotel, but if they should run off without paying, like the professor, I shouldn't enjoy it so much."

"No, I suppose not," said Philip, with a laugh.

They had ridden some seven miles, and were, therefore, only three miles from Knoxville, without the slightest intimation as to whether or not they were on the right track.

To be sure, they had not expected to obtain any clue so soon, but it would have been very satisfactory, of course, to obtain one.

A little farther on they saw approaching a buggy similar to their own, driven by a man of middle age. It turned out to be an acquaintance of the landlord's, and the two stopped to speak.

"Going to Knoxville on business, Mr. Gates?" asked the newcomer.

"Well, not exactly. I am driving this young man over. By the way, have you seen anything of a tall man, with long, black hair, dressed in black?"

"Yes. Do you want to see him?"

"This young man has some business with him. Where did you see him?"

"He arrived at our hotel about an hour since, I calculate."

Philip's heart bounded with satisfaction at this important news.

"Did he put up there?"

"Yes. I believe he is going to give a reading this evening."

"Thank you!"

"The professor must be a fool!" said the landlord, as they drove away.

"I begin to think so myself," replied Philip.

"That's all in our favor, however. We shall get back that money yet."

The horse was put to his speed, and in fifteen minutes they reached Knoxville.



CHAPTER XXXI. THE PROFESSOR'S FLIGHT.



Professor Lorenzo Riccabocca was not a wise man. It would have been much more to his interest to deal honestly with Philip, paying his share of the profits of the first performance, and retaining his services as associate and partner.

But the professor was dazzled by the money, and unwilling to give it up. Moreover, he had the vanity to think that he would draw nearly as well alone, thus retaining in his own hands the entire proceeds of any entertainments he might give.

When he met Philip on the road he was well-nigh penniless. Now, including the sum of which he had defrauded our hero and his creditors in Wilkesville, he had one hundred and fifty dollars.

When the professor went to bed, he had not formed the plan of deserting Philip; but, on awaking in the morning, it flashed upon him as an excellent step which would put money in his pocket.

He accordingly rose, dressed himself quietly, and, with one cautious look at Philip—who was fast asleep—descended the stairs to the office.

Only the bookkeeper was in the office.

"You are stirring early, professor," he said.

"Yes," answered Riccabocca, "I generally take a morning walk, to get an appetite for breakfast."

"My appetite comes without the walk," said the bookkeeper, smiling.

"If Mr. de Gray comes downstairs, please tell him I will be back soon," said Riccabocca.

The bookkeeper readily promised to do this, not having the slightest suspicion that the distinguished professor was about to take French leave.

When Professor Riccabocca had walked half a mile he began to feel faint. His appetite had come.

"I wish I had stopped to breakfast," he reflected. "I don't believe De Gray will be down for an hour or two."

It was too late to go back and repair his mistake. That would spoil all. He saw across the street a baker's shop, just opening for the day, and this gave him an idea.

He entered, bought some rolls, and obtained a glass of milk, and, fortified with these, he resumed his journey.

He had walked three miles, when he was over-taken by a farm wagon, which was going his way.

He hailed the driver—a young man of nineteen or thereabouts—ascertained that he was driving to Knoxville, and, for a small sum, secured passage there.

This brings us to the point of time when Philip and Mr. Gates drove up to the hotel at Knoxville.

"I can see the professor," said Philip, in eager excitement, when they had come within a few rods of the inn.

"Where is he?"

"He is in the office, sitting with his back to the front window. I wonder what he will have to say for himself?"

"So do I," said the landlord curiously.

"Shall we go in together?" questioned Philip.

"No; let us surprise him a little. I will drive around to the sheds back of the hotel, and fasten my horse. Then we will go round to the front, and you can go in, while I stand outside, ready to appear a little later."

Philip thought this a good plan. He enjoyed the prospect of confronting the rogue who had taken advantage of his inexperience, and attempted such a bold scheme of fraud. He didn't feel in the least nervous, or afraid to encounter the professor, though Riccabocca was a man and he but a boy. When all was ready, Philip entered through the front door, which was open, and, turning into the office, stood before the astonished professor.

The latter started in dismay at the sight of our hero. He thought he might be quietly eating breakfast ten miles away, unsuspiciously waiting for his return. Was his brilliant scheme to fail? He quickly took his resolution—a foolish one. He would pretend not to know Philip.

"Well, Professor Riccabocca," Philip said, in a sarcastic tone, "you took rather a long walk this morning."

The professor looked at him vacantly.

"Were you addressing me?" he inquired.

"Yes, sir," answered Philip, justly provoked.

"I haven't the pleasure of your acquaintance, young man."

"I wish I hadn't the pleasure of yours," retorted Philip.

"Do you come here to insult me?" demanded Riccabocca, frowning.

"I came here to demand my share of the money received for the entertainment last evening, as well as the money paid for the hall, the printer, and bill-poster."

"You must be crazy!" said Riccabocca, shrugging his shoulders. "I don't know you. I don't owe you any money."

"Do you mean to say we didn't give an entertainment together last evening at Wilkesville?" asked Philip, rather taken aback by the man's sublime impudence.

"My young friend, you have been dreaming. Prove what you say and I will admit your claim."

Up to this point those present, deceived by the professor's coolness, really supposed him to be in the right. That was what Riccabocca anticipated, and hoped to get off before the discovery of the truth could be made. But he did not know that Philip had a competent witness at hand.

"Mr. Gates!" called Philip.

The portly landlord of the Wilkesville Hotel entered the room, and Riccaboeca saw that the game was up.

"Mr. Gates, will you be kind enough to convince this gentleman that he owes me money?" asked Philip.

"I think he won't deny it now," said Gates significantly. "He walked off from my hotel this morning, leaving his bill unpaid. Professor Riccabocca, it strikes me you had better settle with us, unless you wish to pass the night in the lockup."

Professor Riccabocca gave a forced laugh.

"Why, Mr. de Gray," he said, "you ought to have known that I was only playing a trick on you."

"I supposed you were," said Philip.

"No, I don't mean that. I was only pretending I didn't know you, to see if I could act naturally enough, to deceive you."

"Why did you desert me?" asked Philip suspiciously.

"I started to take a walk—didn't the bookkeeper tell you?—and finding a chance to ride over here, thought I would do so, and make arrangements for our appearance here. Of course, I intended to come back, and pay our good friend, the landlord, and give you your share of the common fund."

Neither Gates nor Philip believed a word of this. It seemed to them quite too transparent.

"You may as well pay us now, Professor Riccabocca," said the landlord dryly.

"I hope you don't suspect my honor or integrity," said Riccabocca, appearing to be wounded at the thought.

"Never mind about that," said Mr. Gates shortly. "Actions speak louder than words."

"I am quite ready to settle—quite," said the professor. "The money is in my room. I will go up and get it."

There seemed to be no objection to this, and our two friends saw him ascend the staircase to the second story. Philip felt pleased to think that he had succeeded in his quest, for his share of the concert money would be nearly seventy dollars. That, with the balance of the money; received from Farmer Lovett, would make over a hundred dollars.

They waited five minutes, and the professor did not come down.

"What can keep him?" said Philip.

Just then one of the hostlers entered and caught what our hero had said.

"A man has just run out of the back door," he said, "and is cutting across the fields at a great rate."

"He must have gone down the back stairs," said the clerk.

"In what direction would he go?" asked Philip hastily.

"To the railroad station. There is a train leaves in fifteen minutes."

"What shall we do, Mr. Gates?" asked Philip, in dismay.

"Jump into my buggy. We'll get to the depot before the train starts. We must intercept the rascal."



CHAPTER XXXII. THE RACE ACROSS FIELDS.



It so happened that Professor Riccabocca had once before visited Knoxville, and remembered the location of the railroad station. Moreover, at the hotel, before the arrival of Philip, he had consulted a schedule of trains posted up in the office, and knew that one would leave precisely at ten o'clock.

The impulse to leave town by this train was sudden. He had in his pocket the wallet containing the hundred and fifty dollars, of which a large part belonged to Philip, and could have settled at once, without the trouble of going upstairs to his room.

He only asked leave to go up there in order to gain time for thought. At the head of the staircase he saw another narrower flight of stairs descending to the back of the house. That gave him the idea of eluding his two creditors by flight.

I have said before that Professor Riccabocca was not a wise man, or he would have reflected that he was only postponing the inevitable reckoning. Moreover, it would destroy the last chance of making an arrangement with Philip to continue the combination, which thus far had proved so profitable.

The professor did not take this into consideration, but dashed down the back stairs, and opened the back door into the yard.

"Do you want anything, sir?" asked a maidservant, eyeing the professor suspiciously.

"Nothing at all, my good girl," returned the professor.

"You seem to be in a hurry," she continued, with renewed suspicion.

"So I am. I am in a great hurry to meet an engagement."

"Why didn't you go out the front door?" asked the girl.

"Oh, bother! What business is it of yours?" demanded the professor impatiently.

And, not stopping for further inquiries, he vaulted over a fence and took his way across the fields to the station.

"Here, Sam," called the girl, her suspicions confirmed that something was wrong, "go after that man as fast as you can!"

This was addressed to a boy who was employed at the hotel to go on errands and do odd jobs.

"What's he done?" asked Sam.

"I don't know; but he's either run off without paying his bill, or he's stolen something."

"What good'll it do me to chase him?" asked Sam.

"If he's cheated master, he'll pay you for catching the man."

"That's so," thought Sam. "Besides, I'll be a detective, just like that boy I read about in the paper. I'm off!"

Fired by youthful ambition, Sam also vaulted the fence, and ran along the foot-path in pursuit of the professor.

Lorenzo Riccabocca did not know he was pursued. He felt himself so safe from this, on account of the secrecy of his departure, that he never took the trouble to look behind him. He knew the way well enough, for the fields he was crossing were level, and half a mile away, perhaps a little more, he could see the roof of the brown-painted depot, which was his destination. Once there, he would buy a ticket, get on the train, and get started away from Knoxville before the troublesome acquaintances who were waiting for him to come down-stairs had any idea where he was gone.

The professor ran at a steady, even pace, looking straight before him. His eyes were fixed on the haven of his hopes, and he did not notice a stone, of considerable size, which lay in his path. The result was that he stumbled over it, and fell forward with considerable force. He rose, jarred and sore, but there was no time to take account of his physical damages. He must wait till he got on the train.

The force with which he was thrown forward was such that the wallet was thrown from his pocket, and fell in the grass beside the path. The professor went on his way, quite unconscious of his loss, but there were other eyes that did not overlook it.

Sam, who was thirty rods behind, noticed Professor Riccabocca's fall, and he likewise noticed the wallet when he reached the spot of the catastrophe.

"My eyes!" he exclaimed, opening those organs wide in delight; "here's luck! The old gentleman has dropped his pocketbook. Most likely it's stolen. I'll carry it back and give it to Mr. Perry."

Sam very sensibly decided that it wasn't worth while to continue the pursuit, now that the thief, as he supposed Riccabocca to be, had dropped his booty.

Sam was led by curiosity to open the wallet. When he saw the thick roll of bills, he was filled with amazement and delight.

"Oh, what a rascal he was!" ejaculated the boy. "I guess he's been robbing a safe. I wonder how much is here?"

He was tempted to sit down on the grass and count the bills, but he was prevented by the thought that the professor might discover his loss, and returning upon his track, question him as to whether he had found it. Sam determined that he wouldn't give it up, at any rate.

"I guess I could wrastle with him," he thought. "He looks rather spindlin', but then he's bigger than I am, and he might lick me, after all."

I desire to say emphatically that Sam was strictly honest, and never for a moment thought of appropriating any of the money to his own use. He felt that as a detective he had been successful, and this made him feel proud and happy.

"I may as well go home," he said. "If he's stolen this money from Mr. Perry, I'll come in for a reward."

Sam did not hurry, however. He was not now in pursuit of any one, and could afford to loiter and recover his breath.

Meanwhile, Professor Riccabocca, in happy unconsciousness of his loss, continued his run to the station. He arrived there breathless, and hurried to the ticket-office.

"Give me a ticket to Chambersburg," he said.

"All right, sir. Ninety cents."

If Riccabocca had been compelled to take out his wallet, he would at once have discovered his loss, and the ticket would not have been bought. But he had a two-dollar bill in his vest, and it was out of this that he paid for the ticket to Chambersburg. Armed with the ticket, he waited anxiously for the train. He had five minutes to wait—five anxious moments in which his flight might be discovered. He paced the platform, looking out anxiously for the train.

At length he heard the welcome sound of the approaching locomotive. The train came to a stop, and among the first to enter it was the eminent elocutionist. He took a seat beside the window looking out toward the village. What did he see that brought such an anxious look in his face?

A buggy was approaching the depot at breakneck speed. It contained Mr. Gates, the landlord, and the young musician. Mr. Gates was lashing the horse, and evidently was exceedingly anxious to arrive at the depot before the train started.

Beads of perspiration stood on the anxious brow of the professor. His heart was filled with panic terror.

"The girl must have told them of my flight," he said to himself. "Oh, why didn't I think to give her a quarter to keep her lips closed? Why doesn't the train start?"

The buggy was only about ten rods away. It looked as if Philip and his companion would be able to intercept the fugitive.

Just then the scream of the locomotive was heard. The train began to move. Professor Riccabocca gave a sigh of relief.

"I shall escape them after all," he said triumphantly, to himself.

He opened the window, and, with laughing face, nodded to his pursuers.

"We've lost him!" said Philip, in a tone of disappointment. "What can we do?"

"Find out where he is going, and telegraph to have him stopped," said Mr. Gates. "That will put a spoke in his wheel."



CHAPTER XXXIII. THE LOST WALLET.



Mr. Gates was acquainted with the depot-master, and lost no time in seeking him.

"Too late for the train?" asked the latter, who observed in the landlord evidences of haste.

"Not for the train, but for one of the passengers by the train," responded the landlord. "Did you take notice of a man dressed in a shabby suit of black, wearing a soft hat and having very long black hair?"

"Yes."

"Where is he going?" asked Mr. Gates eagerly.

"He bought a ticket for Chambersburg."

"Ha! Well, I want you to telegraph for me to Chambersburg."

The station-master was also the telegraph-operator, as it chanced.

"Certainly. Just write out your message and I will send it at once."

Mr. Gates telegraphed to a deputy sheriff at Chambersburg to be at the depot on arrival of the train, and to arrest and detain the professor till he could communicate further with him.

"Now," said he, turning to Philip, "I think we shall be able to stop the flight of your friend."

"Don't call him my friend," said Philip. "He is anything but a friend."

"You are right there. Well, I will amend and call him your partner. Now, Mr. de Gray—"

"My name is Gray—not de Gray. The professor put in the 'de' because he thought it would sound foreign."

"I presume you have as much right to the name as he has to the title of professor," said Gates.

"I don't doubt it," returned Philip, smiling.

"Well, as I was about to say, we may as well go back to the hotel, and await the course of events. I think there is some chance of your getting your money back."

When they reached the hotel, they found a surprise in store for them.

Sam had carried the professor's wallet to Mr. Perry, and been told by them to wait and hand it in person to Philip and his friend, Mr. Gates, who were then at the depot.

When they arrived, Sam was waiting on the stoop, wallet in hand.

"What have you got there, Sam?" asked Mr. Gates, who often came to Knoxville, and knew the boy. "It's the wallet of that man you were after," said Sam.

"How did you get it?" asked Philip eagerly.

"I chased him 'cross lots," said Sam.

"You didn't knock him over and take the wallet from him, did you, Sam?" asked Mr. Gates.

"Not so bad as that," answered Sam, grinning. "You see, he tripped over a big rock, and came down on his hands and knees. The wallet jumped out of his pocket, but he didn't see it. I picked it up and brought it home."

"Didn't he know you were chasing him?"

"I guess not. He never looked back."

"What made you think of running after him?"

"One of the girls told me to. The way he ran out of the back door made her think there was something wrong."

"Suppose he had turned round?"

"I guess I could have wrastled with him," said Sam, to the amusement of those who heard him.

"It is well you were not obliged to."

"Who shall I give the wallet to?" asked Sam.

"Mr. Gray, here, is the professor's partner, and half the money belongs to him. You can give it to him."

"Have I a right to take it?" asked Philip, who did not wish to do anything unlawful.

He was assured that, as the business partner of the professor, he had as much right as Riccabocca to the custody of the common fund.

"But half of it belongs to the professor."

"He'll come back for it, in the custody of the sheriff. I didn't think I was doing the man a good turn when I telegraphed to have him stopped."

The first thing Philip did was to take from his own funds a five-dollar bill, which he tendered to Sam.

"Is it all for me?" asked the boy, his eyes sparkling his joy.

"Yes; but for you I should probably have lost a good deal more. Thank you, besides."

And Philip offered his hand to Sam, who grasped it fervently.

"I say, you're a tip-top chap," said Sam. "You ain't like a man that lost a pocketbook last summer, with a hundred dollars in it, and gave me five cents for finding it."

"No; I hope I'm not as mean as that," said Philip, smiling.

He opened the wallet and found a memorandum containing an exact statement of the proceeds of the concert. This was of great service to him, as it enabled him to calculate his own share of the profits.

The aggregate receipts were one hundred and fifty dollars and fifty cents. Deducting bills paid, viz.:

Rent of hall........................ $5.00

Printing, etc........................ 5.00

Bill-poster......................... 1.00

Total...........................$11.00

there was a balance of $138.50, of which Philip was entitled to one-half, namely, $69.25. This he took, together with the eleven dollars which he had himself paid to the creditors of the combination, and handed the wallet, with the remainder of the money, to Mr. Perry, landlord of the Knoxville Hotel, with a request that he would keep it till called for by Professor Riccabocca.

"You may hand me three dollars and a half, Mr. Perry," said Mr. Gates. "That is the amount the professor owes me for a day and three-quarters at my hotel. If he makes a fuss, you can tell him he is quite at liberty to go to law about it."

Meanwhile, where was the professor, and when did he discover his loss?

After the train was a mile or two on its way he felt in his pocket for the wallet, meaning to regale himself with a sight of its contents—now, as he considered, all his own.

Thrusting his hand into his pocket, it met—vacancy.

Pale with excitement, he continued his search, extending it to all his other pockets. But the treasure had disappeared!

Professor Riccabocca was panic-stricken. He could hardly suppress a groan.

A good woman sitting opposite, judging from his pallor that he was ill, leaned over and asked, in a tone of sympathy:

"Are you took sick?"

"No, ma'am," answered the professor sharply.

"You look as if you was goin' to have a fit," continued the sympathizing woman. "Jest take some chamomile tea the first chance you get. It's the sovereignest thing I know of—"

"Will chamomile tea bring back a lost pocket-book?" demanded the professor sharply.

"Oh, Lor'! you don't say you lost your money?"

"Yes, I do!" said Riccabocca, glaring at her.

"Oh, dear! do you think there's pickpockets in the car?" asked the old lady nervously.

"Very likely," answered the professor tragically.

The good woman kept her hand in her pocket all the rest of the way, eyeing all her fellow passengers sharply.

But the professor guessed the truth. He had lost his wallet when he stumbled in the field. He was in a fever of impatience to return and hunt for it. Instead of going on to Chambersburg, he got out at the next station—five miles from Knoxville—and walked back on the railroad-track. So it happened that the telegram did no good.

The professor walked back to the hotel across the fields, hunting diligently, but saw nothing of the lost wallet. He entered the hotel, footsore, weary, and despondent. The first person he saw was Philip, sitting tranquilly in the office.

"Did you just come down from your room?" asked our hero coolly.

"I am a most unfortunate man!" sighed Riccabocca, sinking into a seat.

"What's the matter?"

"I've lost all our money."

"I am glad you say 'our money.' I began to think you considered it all yours. Didn't I see you on the train?"

"I had a bad headache," stammered the professor, "and I didn't know what I was doing."

"Does riding in the cars benefit your head?"

Professor Riccabocca looked confused.

"The wallet was found," said Philip, not wishing to keep him any longer in suspense.

"Where is it?" asked the professor eagerly.

"Mr. Perry will give it to you. I have taken out my share of the money, and Mr. Gates has received the amount of his bill. It would have been better for you to attend to these matters yourself like an honest man."

Professor Riccabocca was so overjoyed to have back his own money that he made no fuss about Philip's proceedings. Indeed, his own intended dishonesty was so apparent that it would have required even more assurance than he possessed to make a protest.



CHAPTER XXXIV. A NEW BUSINESS PROPOSAL.



Professor Riccabocca put the wallet in his pocket with a sigh of satisfaction. There were still sixty dollars or more in it, and it was long since he had been so rich.

He began to think now that it might be well to revive the combination. There was some doubt, however, as to how Philip would receive the proposal.

He looked at his young partner and was not much encouraged. He felt that he must conciliate him.

"Mr. de Gray," he began.

"Call me Gray. My name is not de Gray."

"Well, Mr. Gray, then. I hope you don't have any hard feelings."

"About what?" inquired Philip, surveying the professor curiously.

"About—the past," stammered the professor.

"You mean about your running off with my money?" returned Philip plainly.

Professor Riccabocca winced. He did not quite like this form of statement. "I am afraid you misjudge me," he said, rather confused.

"I shall be glad to listen to any explanation you have to offer," said our hero.

"I will explain it all to you, in time," said the professor, recovering his old assurance. "In the meantime, I have a proposition to make to you."

"What is it?"

"Suppose we give an entertainment in Knoxville—on the same terms as the last."

"I shouldn't think you would like to appear before an audience here, Professor Riccabocca."

"Why not?"

"Before night everybody will have heard of your running away with the proceeds of the last concert."

"Public men are always misjudged. They must expect it," said the professor, with the air of a martyr.

"I should think you would be more afraid of being justly judged."

"Mr. Gray," said the professor, "I have done wrong, I admit; but it was under the influence of neuralgia. When I have a neuralgic headache, I am not myself. I do things which, in a normal condition, I should not dream of. I am the victim of a terrible physical malady."

Philip did not believe a word of this, but he felt amused at the professor's singular excuse.

"Come, Mr. Gray, what do you say?"

"I think I must decline," returned Philip.

But here Professor Riccabocca received unexpected help.

Mr. Perry, the landlord, who had listened to the colloquy, approached the two speakers and said:

"Gentlemen, I have a proposal to make to you both."

Both Philip and the professor looked up, with interest.

"Some of the young men in the village," said the landlord, "have formed a literary club, meeting weekly. They have hired and furnished a room over one of our stores, provided it with, games and subscribed for a few periodicals. They find, however, that the outlay has been greater than they anticipated and are in debt. I have been talking with the secretary, and he thinks he would like to engage you to give an entertainment, the proceeds, beyond a fixed sum, to go to the benefit of the club. What do you say?"

"When is it proposed to have the entertainment?" asked Philip.

"I suppose we should have to name to-morrow evening, in order to advertise it sufficiently."

"I am willing to make any engagement that will suit the club," said Philip.

"And I, too," said Professor Riccabocca.

"The secretary authorizes me to offer you ten dollars each, and to pay your hotel expenses in the meantime," said Mr. Perry.

"That is satisfactory," said our hero.

"I agree," said the professor.

"Then I will at once notify the secretary, and he will take steps to advertise the entertainment."

Ten dollars was a small sum compared with what Philip had obtained for his evening in Wilkesville, but a week since he would have regarded it as very large for one week's work. He felt that it was for his interest to accept the proposal.

He secretly resolved that if the entertainment should not prove as successful as was anticipated, he would give up a part of the sum which was promised him for his services.

Professor Riccabocca assented the more readily to the proposal, because he thought it might enable him again to form a business alliance with our hero, from whom his conduct had estranged him.

"Suppose we take a room together, Mr. de Gray," he said, with an ingratiating smile.

"Gray, if you please, professor. I don't like sailing under false colors."

"Excuse me; the force of habit, you know. Well, do you agree?"

"The professor has more assurance than any man I ever heard of," thought Philip. "You must excuse me, professor," he said. "After what has happened, I should feel safer in a room by myself."

"Why will you dwell upon the past, Mr. Gray?" said the professor reproachfully.

"Because I am prudent, and learn from experience," answered Philip.

"I assure you, you will have nothing to complain of," said Riccabocca earnestly. "If we are together, we can consult about the program."

"We shall have plenty of time to do that during the day, professor."

"Then you don't care to room with me?" said Riccabocca, looking disappointed.

"No, I don't."

"What are you afraid of?"

"I am afraid you might have an attack of neuralgic headache during the night," said Philip, laughing.

Professor Riccabocca saw that it would be of no use for him to press the request, and allowed himself to be conducted to the same room which he had so unceremoniously left a short time before.

During the afternoon, Philip had a call from John Turner, the secretary of the Young Men's Club. He was a pleasant, straightforward young man, of perhaps twenty.

"We are very much obliged to you, Mr. Gray," he said, "for kindly consenting to play for our benefit."

"It is for my interest," said Philip frankly. "I may as well remain here and earn ten dollars as to be idle."

"But you made a great deal more, I understand, in Wilkesville?"

"Yes; but I might not be as fortunate here. I had not intended to appear here at all, and should not have done so unless you had invited me. How many have you in your club?"

"Only about twenty-five, so far, and some of us are not able to pay much."

"How long has your club been formed?" asked Philip.

"Only about three months. We wanted a place where we could meet together socially in the evening, and have a good time. Before, we had only the stores and barrooms to go to, and there we were tempted to drink. Our club was started in the interests of temperance, and we can see already that it is exerting a good influence."

"Then I am very glad to assist you," said Philip cordially.

"You must come round and see our room. Are you at leisure now?"

"Yes, Mr. Turner."

Philip accompanied his new friend to the neatly furnished room leased by the society. He was so well pleased with its appearance that he thought he should himself like to belong to such an association, whenever he found a permanent home. At present he was only a wanderer.

"Our debt is thirty-four dollars," said the secretary. "You may not think it large, but it's large for us."

"I hope our entertainment will enable you to clear it off."

"If it should it will give us new courage."

On the evening of the next day Philip and the professor entered the hall engaged for the entertainment, and took seats on the platform.

The hall was well filled, the scale of prices being the same as at Wilkesville.

"Mr. Gray," whispered the secretary joyfully, "it is a great success! After paying all bills the club will clear fifty dollars."

"I am delighted to hear it," said Philip.

The professor commenced the entertainment, and was followed by Philip.

As Philip began to play his attention was drawn to three persons who were entering the hall.

These were a lady, a little girl, and a stout gentleman, in whom Philip, almost petrified with amazement, recognized his old acquaintance, Squire Pope, of Norton, who had shown himself so anxious to provide him a home in the poor-house.



CHAPTER XXXV. SQUIRE POPE IS AMAZED.



Though Philip did not know it, it chanced that Squire Pope's only sister, Mrs. Cunningham, lived in Knoxville. She was a widow, fairly well off, with a young daughter, Carrie—a girl of twelve. Squire Pope had long thought of visiting his sister, and happening about this time to have a little business in a town near-by, he decided to carry out his long-deferred plan. He arrived by the afternoon train, in time for supper.

"I am glad you are here to-night, brother," said Mrs. Cunningham.

"Why particularly to-night, Sister Ellen?" asked the squire.

"Because there is to be an entertainment for the benefit of the Young Men's Literary Club. It is expected to be very interesting."

"What sort of an entertainment, Ellen?" asked the squire.

"The celebrated elocutionist, Professor Riccabocca, is to give some readings—"

"Riccabocca!" repeated the squire, in a musing tone. "I can't say I ever heard of him."

"Nor I; but I hear he's very celebrated."

"Is there anything else?"

"Yes, there's a young musician going to play. He is said to be wonderful. He plays on the violin."

"He's a very handsome boy," said Carrie enthusiastically. "He's staying at the hotel. I saw him this afternoon when I was passing."

"So he's good-looking, is he, Carrie?" asked the squire, laughing.

"He's ever so good-looking," answered Carrie emphatically.

"Then we must certainly go, for Carrie's sake," said the squire.

Squire Pope had not the slightest idea that the young musician, about whom his niece spoke so enthusiastically, was the boy whom he had so recently persecuted.

If Carrie had mentioned his name, the secret would have been out, but she had not yet heard it.

In honor of her brother's arrival, Mrs. Cunningham prepared a more elaborate supper than usual, and to this it was owing that the three entered the hall late, just as Philip was about to commence playing.

The squire and his companions were obliged to take seats some distance away from the platform, and as his eyesight was poor, he didn't immediately recognize as an old acquaintance the boy who was standing before the audience with his violin in his hand.

"That's he! That's the young violin-player!" whispered Carrie, in a tone of delight. "Isn't he handsome, uncle!"

"Wait till I get my glasses on," said the squire, fumbling in his pocket for his spectacle-case.

Adjusting his glasses, Squire Pope directed a glance at the stage. He instantly recognized Philip, and his surprise was boundless. He gave a sudden start.

"By gracious, I couldn't have believed it!" he ejaculated.

"Couldn't have believed what, brother?" asked Mrs. Cunningham.

"I know that boy!" he said, in a tone of excitement.

"You know him, uncle?" said Carrie, delighted. "Then you must introduce me to him. I want to meet him ever so much. Where did you ever see him?"

"Where did I see him? I'm his guardian. He ran away from me a little more than a week since, and I never knew where he went."

"You the guardian of the wonderful boy-player?" said Carrie, astonished. "Isn't it strange?"

"His father died a short time since and left him in my care," said the squire, not scrupling to make a misstatement. "But I'll tell you more about it when the performance is over."

When Philip first saw Squire Pope entering the hall it disconcerted him, but he reflected that the squire really had no authority over him, and consequently he had nothing to fear from him.

Should his pretended guardian make any effort to recover him, he was resolved to make a desperate resistance, and even, if necessary, to invoke the help of the law.

Meanwhile, his pride stimulated him to play his best, and the hearty applause of the audience when he had finished his piece encouraged him.

As he was bowing his thanks he could not help directing a triumphant glance at Squire Pope, who was carefully scrutinizing him through his gold-bowed spectacles.

He was glad that the squire had a chance to see for himself that he was well able to make his own way, with the help of the violin of which the Norton official had attempted to deprive him.

In truth, Squire Pope, who knew little of Philip's playing, except that he did play, was amazed to find him so proficient. Instead, however, of concluding that a boy so gifted was abundantly able to "paddle his own canoe," as the saying is, he was the more resolved to carry him back to Norton, and to take into his own care any the boy might have earned. In the middle of the entertainment was a recess of ten minutes, which most of the audience spent in conversation.

Miss Carrie began again to speak of Philip.

"Oh,—uncle," she said, "I'm so glad you know that lovely boy-player! He is earning lots of money."

"Is he!" asked the squire, pricking up his ears. "Who told you so?"

"One of the young men that belongs to the club told me they were to pay him ten dollars for playing to-night."

"Ten dollars!" ejaculated the squire, in amazement. "I don't believe it! It's ridiculous!"

"Oh, yes, it is true!" said Mrs. Cunningham. "John Turner told Carrie; and he is secretary, and ought to know."

"That isn't all," continued Carrie. "Mr. Turner says it is very kind of Mr. Gray—"

"Mr. Gray!" repeated the squire, amused.

"Well, Philip, then. I suppose you call him Philip, as you are his guardian."

"Well, what were you going to say?"

"Mr. Turner says that it is very kind of Philip to play for so little, for he made a good deal more money by his entertainment in Wilkesville."

"Did he give a concert in Wilkesville?" asked the squire quickly.

"Yes, he and the professor. He was liked very much there."

"And you heard that he made a good deal of money there?"

"Yes; lots of it."

"Then," thought the squire, "he must have considerable money with him. As his guardian I ought to have the care of it. He's a boy, and isn't fit to have the charge of money. It's very lucky I came here just as I did. It's my duty, as his guardian, to look after him."

The squire determined to seek an interview with our hero as soon as the entertainment was over.



CHAPTER XXXVI. THE PRETENDED GUARDIAN.



Philip played with excellent effect, and his efforts were received with as much favor at Knoxville as at Wilkesville. He was twice encored, and at the end of each of his selections he was greeted with applause.

As for Professor Riccabocca, people hardly knew what to make of him. He was as eccentric and extravagant as ever, and his recitations were received with good-natured amusement. He didn't lack for applause, however. There were some boys on the front seats who applauded him, just for the fun of it. Though the applause was ironical, the professor persuaded himself that it was genuine, and posed before the audience at each outburst, with his hand on his heart, and his head bent so far over that he seemed likely to lose his balance.

"We are making a grand success, Mr. Gray," he said, during the interval of ten minutes already referred to. "Did you notice how they applauded me?"

"Yes," answered Philip, with a smile.

"They evidently appreciate true genius. It reminds me of the ovation they gave me at Cincinnati last winter."

"Does it?" asked Philip, still smiling.

"Yes. I was a great favorite in that intellectual city. By the way, I noticed that they seemed well pleased with your playing also."

This he said carelessly, as if Philip's applause was not to be compared to his.

"Yes, they treat me very kindly," answered Philip.

"You are fortunate in having me to introduce you to the public," said the professor emphatically. "The name of Riccabocca is so well known, that it is of great advantage to you."

The professor deluded himself with the idea that he was a great elocutionist, and that the public rated him as highly as he did himself. When anything occurred that did not seem to favor this view, he closed his eyes to it, preferring to believe that he was a popular favorite.

"I hope I shall never be so deceived about myself," thought Philip.

When the entertainment was over, Mr. Caswell, president of the club, came up to Philip and said cordially:

"Mr. Gray, we are very much indebted to you. Thanks to you, we are out of debt, and shall have a balance of from twelve to fifteen dollars in the treasury."

"I am very glad of it," said Philip.

"So am I," said the professor, pushing forward, jealous lest Philip should get more than his share of credit.

"And we are indebted to you also, Professor Riccabocca," said the president, taking the hint.

"You are entirely welcome, sir," said Riccabocca loftily. "My help has often been asked in behalf of charitable organizations. I remember once, in Philadelphia, I alone raised five hundred dollars for a—a—I think it was a hospital."

This was an invention, but Professor Riccabocca had no scruple in getting up little fictions which he thought likely to redound to his credit and increase his reputation.

"Doubtless you are often called upon also, Mr. Gray," suggested Mr. Caswell with a smile.

"No," answered Philip. "This is the first time that I have ever had the opportunity."

"There's no humbug about the boy," thought Mr. Caswell. "As for the professor, he is full of it."

"I have pleasure in handing you the price agreed upon," said the president, presenting each with a ten-dollar bill.

"Thank you," said Philip.

Professor Riccabocca carelessly tucked the bill into his vest pocket, as if it were a mere trifle.

At this moment, Mr. Turner came up with all the other gentleman. "Mr. Gray," he said, "here is a gentleman who wishes to speak to you."

Philip looked up, and saw the well-known figure of Squire Pope.



CHAPTER XXXVII. HIS OWN MASTER.



"Ahem, Philip," said the squire. "I should like a little conversation with you."

"Good evening, Squire Pope," said our hero, not pretending to be cordial, but with suitable politeness.

"I didn't expect to see you here," pursued the squire.

"Nor I you, sir."

"I am visiting my sister, Mrs. Cunningham, who lives in Knoxville. Will you come around with me, and make a call?"

Now, considering the treatment which Philip had received from the squire before he left Norton, the reader can hardly feel surprised that our hero didn't care to trust himself with his unscrupulous fellow townsman.

"Thank you, Squire Pope," said Philip, "but it is rather late for me to call at a private house. I am staying at the hotel, and if you will take the trouble to go around there with me, we will have a chance to converse."

"Very well," said the squire, hesitating. Just then up came his niece, Carrie, who was determined to get acquainted with Philip.

"Uncle," she said, "introduce me to Mr. Gray."

"This is my niece, Caroline Cunningham," said the squire stiffly.

"I am glad to meet Miss Cunningham," said Philip, extending his hand, with a smile.

"What a lovely player you are, Mr. Gray!" she said impulsively.

"I am afraid you are flattering me, Miss Cunningham."

"Don't call me Miss Cunningham. My name is Carrie."

"Miss Carrie, then."

"I was ever so much surprised to hear that uncle was your guardian."

Philip looked quickly at the squire, but did not contradict it. He only said:

"We used to live in the same town."

During this conversation Squire Pope looked embarrassed and impatient.

"It's getting late, Carrie," he said. "You had better go home."

"Aren't you coming, too, uncle?"

"I am going to the hotel to settle some business with Philip."

"What business, I wonder?" thought our hero.

Arrived at the hotel, they went up-stairs to Philip's chamber. "You left Norton very abruptly, Philip," commenced the squire.

"There was good reason for it," answered Philip significantly.

"It appears to me you are acting as if you were your own master," observed the squire.

"I am my own master," replied Philip firmly.

"You seem to forget that I am your guardian."

"I don't forget it, for I never knew it," said our hero.

"It is generally understood that such is the case."

"I can't help it. I don't need a guardian, and shall get along without one."

"Ahem! Perhaps that isn't to be decided by you."

"If I am to have a guardian, Squire Pope," said Philip bluntly, "I sha'n't select you. I shall select Mr. Dunbar."

"I have much more knowledge of business than Mr. Dunbar," said the squire, shifting his ground.

"That may be, but there is one important objection."

"What is that?"

"You are not my friend, and Mr. Dunbar is."

"Really this is very extraordinary!" ejaculated the squire. "I am not your friend? How do you know that?"

"You tried to make a pauper out of me, when, as you must perceive, I am entirely able to earn my own living."

"Is it true that you were paid ten dollars for playing this evening?" asked the squire curiously.

"Yes, sir."

"It beats all!" said the squire, in amazement.

"Yet you wanted to sell my violin for a good deal less than I have earned in one evening," said Philip, enjoying his enemy's surprise.

"You gave an entertainment at Wilkesville also, I hear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you make as much there?"

"I made between sixty and seventy dollars over and above expenses."

"You don't expect me to believe that!" said the squire.

"I don't care whether you believe it or not; it's true."

"Have you got the money with you?"

"Yes."

"Then you'd better give it to me to keep for you."

"Thank you; I feel capable of taking care of it myself."

"But it's improper for a boy of your age to carry round so much money," said the squire sharply.

"If I need help to take care of it, I will ask Mr. Dunbar."

"Come, Philip," said the squire, condescending to assume a persuasive manner, "you must remember that I am your guardian."

"I dispute that," said Philip.

"I won't insist upon your going back with me to Norton, as long as you are able to support yourself."

"Then you wouldn't advise me to go back to the poorhouse," said Philip, with some sarcasm in his voice.

"I didn't mean to have you stay there long," said the squire, rather confused. "You'd better give me most of your money, and I'll take care of it for you, and when you're twenty-one you'll have quite a little sum."

"I am much obliged to you, sir, but I won't put you to the trouble of taking care of my money," answered Philip coldly.

Squire Pope continued to argue with Philip, but made no impression. At length he was obliged to say good night.

"I will call round in the morning," he said, at parting. "Perhaps you'll listen to reason then."

When he called round in the morning he learned to his disappointment that Philip was gone.



CHAPTER XXXVIII. AN OFFER DECLINED.



After his interview with Squire Pope, Philip came down to the office, where he saw Professor Riccabocca, apparently waiting for him.

"Well, Mr. Gray, where shall we go next?" asked the professor, with suavity.

"I haven't decided where to go—have you?" asked Philip coolly.

"I suppose we had better go to Raymond. That is a good-sized place. I think we can get together a good audience there."

"You seem to be under the impression that we are in partnership," said Philip.

"Of course," answered Riccabocca.

"I have made no agreement of that sort, professor."

"But, of course, it is understood," said Riccabocca quickly, "as long as we draw so well."

"You must excuse me, Professor Riccabocca. I must decline the proposal."

"But why?" inquired the professor anxiously.

"I hope you won't press me for an explanation."

"But I do. I can't understand why you should act so against your own interest. You can't expect people will come just to hear you play. You need me to help you."

"It may be as you say, professor, but if you insist upon my speaking plainly, I don't care to travel with a man who has treated me as you have."

"I don't understand you," said Riccabocca nervously; but it was evident, from his expression, that he did.

"Then you seem very forgetful," said Philip. "You tried to deprive me of my share of the proceeds of the entertainment at Wilkesville, and would have succeeded but for a lucky accident."

"I told you that it was all owing to neuralgia," said Professor Riccabocca. "I had such an attack of neuralgic headache that it nearly drove me wild."

"Then," said Philip, "I would rather find a partner who is not troubled with neuralgic headache. I think it would be safer."

"It won't happen again, Mr. Gray, I assure you," said the professor apologetically.

He endeavored to persuade Philip to renew the combination, but our hero steadily refused. He admitted that it might be to his pecuniary advantage, but he had lost all confidence in the eminent professor, and he thought it better to part now than to give him another opportunity of playing a similar trick upon him.

The professor thereupon consulted the landlord as to whether it would be advisable for him to give another entertainment unaided, and was assured very emphatically that it would not pay expenses.

"You make a great mistake, Mr. Gray," said Riccabocca. "It would be a great advantage for you to have my assistance at this stage of your professional career."

"I don't expect to have any professional career," answered Philip.

"Don't you intend to become a professional musician?" asked the professor, surprised.

"Probably not. I have only been playing because I needed money, and my violin helped me to a living."

"You can't make as much money in any other way."

"Not at present; but I want to get a chance to enter upon some kind of business. I am going to New York."

"You will some time have a chance to hear me there, in the Academy of Music," said Riccabocca pompously.

"I will go and hear you," said Philip, laughing, "if I can afford a ticket."

"Say the word and we will appear there together, Mr. Gray."

"I think not, professor."

In fact, though Philip had found himself unexpectedly successful as a musician, he knew very well that he was only a clever amateur, and that years of study would be needed to make him distinguished.

He was glad that he had the means of paying his expenses for a considerable time, and had in his violin a trusty friend upon which he could rely in case he got into financial trouble. Directly after breakfast he set out on his journey.



CHAPTER XXXIX. AN AMBITIOUS WAYFARER.



The large sums which Philip had received for his playing might have dazzled a less sensible boy. He was quite conscious that he played unusually well for a boy, but when it came to selecting music as a profession, he felt it would not be wise to come to too hasty a decision. To be a commonplace performer did not seem to him very desirable, and would not have satisfied his ambition.

He had told Professor Riccabocca that he intended to go to New York. This design had not been hastily formed. He had heard a great deal of the great city in his home in the western part of the State of which it was the metropolis, and he was desirous of seeing it. Perhaps there might be some opening for him in its multitude of business houses.

Philip had plenty of money, and could easily have bought a railroad ticket, which would have landed him in New York inside of twenty-four hours, for he was only about four hundred miles distant; but he was in no hurry, and rather enjoyed traveling leisurely through the country towns, with his violin in his hand.

It reminded him of a biography he had read of the famous Doctor Goldsmith, author of the "Vicar of Wakefield," who made a tour on the continent of Europe, paying his way with music evoked from a similar instrument.

Three days later, he found himself on the outskirts of a village, which I will call Cranston. It was afternoon, and he had walked far enough to be tired.

He was looking about for a pleasant place to lounge, when his attention was drawn to a boy of about his own age, who was sitting on the stone wall under a large tree.

He was rather a slender boy, and had originally been well dressed, but his suit was travel-stained, and covered with dust.

Now, boys have a natural attraction for each other, and Philip determined to introduce himself to the stranger. This he did in boy-fashion, by saying:

"Hello!"

"Hello!" said the stranger, looking up.

But he spoke slowly and wearily, and to Philip he seemed out of spirits.

"Do you live in Cranston?" asked Philip, taking a seat beside the other boy, upon the top of the stone wall.

"No; do you?"

"No."

"Where do you live?"

"I don't live anywhere just at present," answered Philip, with a smile. "I am traveling."

"So am I," said the other boy.

"I am traveling to New York," Philip continued.

"And I am traveling from there," said his new acquaintance.

Then both boys surveyed each other curiously.

"What's your name?" asked the stranger.

"Philip Gray. What's your's?"

"Mine is Henry Taylor. What have you got there?"

"A violin."

"Do you play on it?"

"Yes; a little."

"I should think you'd be tired lugging it round."

Philip smiled.

"It is about all the property I have," he said; "so it won't do for me to get tired of it."

"You're richer than I am, then," said Henry.

"Are you poor, then?" asked Philip, in a tone of sympathy.

"I haven't got a cent in my pocket, and I haven't had anything to eat since breakfast."

"Then I'm glad I met you," said Philip warmly. "I will see that you have a good supper. How long is it since you left New York?"

"About a week."

"What made you leave it?"

Henry Taylor hesitated, and finally answered, in a confused tone:

"I've run away from home. I wanted to go out West to kill Indians."

Philip stared at his new acquaintance in astonishment.



CHAPTER XL. THE INDIAN HUNTER.



Philip had lived so long in a country village that he had never chanced to read any of those absorbing romances in which one boy, of tender years, proves himself a match for a dozen Indians, more or less, and, therefore, he was very much amazed at Henry Taylor's avowal that he was going out West to kill Indians.

"What do you want to kill Indians for?" he asked, after an astonished pause.

Now it was Henry's turn to be astonished.

"Every boy wants to kill Indians," he answered, looking pityingly at our hero.

"What for? What good will it do?" asked Philip.

"It shows he's brave," answered his new friend. "Didn't you ever read the story of 'Bully Bill'; or, The Hero of the Plains'?"

"I never heard of it," said Philip.

"You must have lived in the woods, then," said Henry Taylor, rather contemptuously. "It's a tip-top story. Bully Bill was only fourteen, and killed ever so many Indians—twenty or thirty, I guess—as well as a lot of lions and bears. Oh, he must have had lots of fun!"

"Why didn't the Indians kill him?" asked Philip, desirous of being enlightened. "They didn't stand still and let him kill them, did they?"

"No; of course not. They fought awful hard."

"How did one young boy manage to overcome so many Indians?"

"Oh, you'll have to read the story to find out! Bully Bill was a great hero, and everybody admired him."

"So you wanted to imitate his example?" asked Philip.

"To be sure I did."

"How did you happen to get out of money?"

"Well," said Henry, "you see me and another boy got awful excited after reading the story, and both concluded nothing could make us so happy as to go out West together, and do as Bill did. Of course, it was no use to ask the old man—"

"The old man?" queried Philip.

"The gov'nor—father, of course! So we got hold of some money—"

"You got hold of some money?" queried Philip.

"That's what I said, didn't I?" rejoined Henry irritably.

"Yes."

"Then what's the use of repeating it?"

Philip intended to ask where or how Henry got hold of the money, but he saw pretty clearly that this would not be agreeable to his new acquaintance. Though without much experience in the world, he suspected that the money was not obtained honestly, and did not press the question.

"Well, me and Tom started about a week ago. First of all, we bought some revolvers, as, of course, we should need them to shoot Indians. They cost more than we expected, and then we found it cost more to travel than we thought."

"How much money did you have?"

"After paying for our revolvers, Tom and me had about thirty dollars," said Henry.

"Only thirty dollars to go west with!" exclaimed Philip, in amazement.

"Why, you see, the revolvers cost more than we expected. Then we stopped at a hotel in Albany, where they charged us frightfully. That is where Tom left me."

"Tom left you at Albany?"

"Yes, he got homesick!" said Henry contemptuously. "He thought we hadn't money enough, and he said he didn't know as he cared so much about killing Indians."

"I agree with Tom," said Philip. "I don't think I should care very much about killing Indians myself, and I should decidedly object to being killed by an Indian. I shouldn't like to be scalped. Would you?"

"Oh, I'd take care of that," said Henry. "I wouldn't let them have the chance."

"It seems to me the best way would be to stay at home," said Philip, smiling.

"If I stayed at home I'd have to go to school and study. I don't care much about studying."

"I like it," said Philip. "So Tom left you, did he?"

"Yes; but I wasn't going to give up so easy. He took half the money that was left, though I thought he ought to have given it to me, as I needed it more. I wasn't going home just as I'd started."

"Then you've spent all your money now?"

"Yes," answered Henry gloomily. "Have you got much money?" he asked, after a pause.

"Yes, I have about a hundred dollars-say, ninety-five."

"You don't mean it!" ejaculated Henry, hie eyes sparkling.

"Yes, I do."

"How did you get it?"

"I earned most of it by playing on the violin."

"I say," exclaimed Henry, in excitement, "suppose you and me go into partnership together, and go out West—"

"To kill Indians?" asked Philip, smiling.

"Yes! With all that money we'll get along. Besides, if we get short, you can earn some more."

"But what advantage am I to get out of it? I am to furnish all the capital and pay all expenses, as far as I can understand. Generally, both partners put in something."

"I put in my revolver," said Henry.

"One revolver won't do for us both."

"Oh, well, you can buy one. Come, what do you say?" asked Henry eagerly.

"Let me ask you a few questions first. Where does your father live?"

"In New York."

"What is his business?"

"He is a broker in Wall Street."

"I suppose he is rich?"

"Oh, he's got plenty of money, I expect! We live in a nice house on Madison Avenue. That's one of the best streets, I suppose you know!"

"I never was in New York. Is your mother living?"

"No," answered Henry. "She died three years ago."

If his mother had been living, probably the boy would never have made such an escapade, but his father, being engrossed by business cares, was able to give very little attention to his son, and this accounts in part for the folly of which he had been guilty.

"Have you got any brothers or sisters?" he asked.

"I have one sister, about three years younger than I. Her name is Jennie."

"I wish I were as well off as you," said Philip.

"How do you mean?"

"I mean I wish I had a father and sister."

"Haven't you?"

"My father is dead," said Philip gravely, "and I never had a sister."

"Oh, well, I don't know as I'm so lucky," said Henry. "Sisters are a bother. They want you to go round with them, and the old man is always finding fault."

Philip's relations with his father had always been so affectionate that he could not understand how Henry could talk in such a way of his.

"I don't know what makes you ask me such a lot of questions," said Henry, showing impatience. "Come, what do you say to my offer?"

"About forming a partnership?"

"Yes."

"I'd rather not—in that way."

"In what way?"

"I mean for the purpose of going out West to kill Indians."

"You've no idea what fun it would be," said Henry, disappointed.

"No, I suppose not," said Philip, smiling.

"Then I suppose I shall have to give it up," said Henry.

"Now I have a proposal to make to you," said Philip.

"What is it?"

"If you agree to go home, I'll pay your expenses and go along with you. I've never been to New York, and I'd like to have some one with me that could show me round the city."

"I can do that," said Henry. "I know the way all about."

"Then will you agree?"

"Yes."

"Then come along, and we'll stop at the first convenient place and get some supper."



CHAPTER XLI. AN ADVENTURE IN THE WOODS.



"I shall do a good thing if I induce Henry to go home," thought Philip. "That is rather a queer idea of his about wanting to kill Indians. It seems to me as much murder to kill an Indian as any one else."

He only thought this, but did not express it, as he did not care to get into a discussion with his new acquaintance, lest the latter should recall his consent to go home.

"I say, Philip," said Henry, who had now learned our hero's name, "we ain't in any hurry to go to New York, are we?"

"I thought we might take a train to-morrow morning, and go straight through."

"But I'd rather take it easy, and travel through the country, and have adventures."

"But you forget that your father will be anxious about you."

"Yes, I suppose he will."

"I'll tell you what I'll do. If you'll write a letter to your father, and let him know that you are safe with me, I'll do as you say."

"All right," said Henry, in a tone of satisfaction; "I'll do it."

"Father'll pay you all you have to spend for me," Henry added, after a moment's pause.

"Very well; then I will be your banker."

Philip was not foolish enough to protest that he did not care to be repaid. All he had in the world was a little less than a hundred dollars, and when that was gone he was not absolutely sure of making any more at once, though he felt tolerably confident that he could.

"Suppose you let me have ten dollars now," suggested Henry.

"I think I would rather keep the money and pay the bills," said Philip quietly.

He was not sure but that Henry, if he had a supply of money in his pockets, would reconsider his promise to go home and take French leave.

Of course, it would be extremely foolish, but his present expedition did not indicate the possession of much wisdom.

"I don't see what difference it makes," said Henry, looking dissatisfied.

"I won't argue the point," answered Philip good-naturedly.

"I wish I was in New York, near a good restaurant," said Henry, after a pause.

"Oh. I forgot! You are hungry."

"Awfully. I don't believe there's a hotel within two or three miles. I don't think I can hold out to walk much farther."

A few rods farther on was a farmhouse standing back from the road, old-fashioned-looking, but of comfortable aspect.

A young girl appeared at the side door and rang a noisy bell with great vigor.

"They're going to have supper," said Henry wistfully. "I wish it was a hotel!"

Philip had lived in the country, and understood the hospitable ways of country people.

"Come along, Henry," he said. "I'll ask them to sell us some supper. I am sure they will be willing."

Followed by his new acquaintance, he walked up to the side door and knocked—for there was no bell.

The young girl—probably about Philip's age—opened the door and regarded them with some surprise.

Philip bowed.

"Will you be kind enough to tell us if there is any hotel near-by?" he asked.

"There's one about three miles and a half farther on."

Henry groaned inwardly.

"I am going to ask you a favor," said Philip. "My friend and I have traveled a considerable distance, and stand in need of supper. We are willing to pay as much as we should have to at a hotel, if you will let us take supper here."

"I'll ask mother," said the young girl.

And forthwith she disappeared. She came back in company with a stout, motherly-looking woman. Philip repeated his request.

"Why, to be sure," she said heartily. "We always have enough, and to spare. Come right in, and we'll have supper as soon as the men-folks come in."

They entered a neat kitchen, in the middle of which was set out a table, with a savory supper upon it. Henry's eyes sparkled, and his mouth watered, for the poor boy was almost famished.

"If you want to wash come right in here," said the farmer's wife, leading the way into a small room adjoining.

The two boys gladly availed themselves of the permission, though Henry would not have minded sitting right down, dusty as he was. However, he felt better after he had washed his face and bands and wiped them on the long roll towel that hung beside the sink.

They were scarcely through, when their places were taken by the farmer and his son, the latter a tall, sun-burned young man, of about twenty, who had just come in from a distant field. The farmer's wife soon explained the presence of the two young strangers.

"Sho!" said the farmer. "You're pretty young to be travelin'. You ain't in any business, be you?"

Henry was rather ashamed to mention that his business was killing Indians, though, as yet, he had not done anything in that line. He had an idea that he might be laughed at.

"I am a little of a musician," said Philip modestly.

"Sho! do you make it pay?"

"Pretty well, so far; but I think when I get to New York I shall try something else."

"Are you a musician as well as he?" asked the farmer of Henry.

"No, sir."

"Come, father, you'd better sit down to supper, and do your talking afterward," said the farmer's wife.

So they sat down to the table, and all did full justice to the wholesome fare, particularly Henry, who felt absolutely ravenous.

Never at the luxurious home of his father, in Madison Avenue, had the wandering city boy enjoyed his supper as much as at the plain table of this country farmer.

The good mistress of the household was delighted at the justice done to her viands, considering it a tribute to her qualities as a cook.

When Philip produced his purse to pay for their supper, the farmer absolutely refused to receive anything. "But I would rather pay," persisted our hero.

"Then I'll tell you how you may pay. Give us one or two tunes on your violin."

This Philip was quite willing to do, and it is needless to say that his small audience was very much pleased.

"I say," said Henry, "you play well enough to give concerts."

"I have done it before now," answered Philip, smiling.

They were invited to spend the night, but desired to push on to the hotel, being refreshed by their supper and feeling able to walk three or four miles farther.

About half-way their attention was drawn to what appeared a deserted cabin in the edge of the woods, some twenty rods back from the road.

"I say, Philip," said Henry, "there's an old hut that looks as if nobody lived in it. Wouldn't it be a lark for us to sleep there to-night? It would save the expense of lodging at the hotel, and would be an adventure. I haven't had any adventures yet."

"I have no objection," said Philip. "We'll go, at any rate, and look at it."

They crossed the field, which seemed to have been only partially cleared, and soon reached the hut.

It was very bare within, but on the floor, in one corner, was a blanket spread out. There was a place for a window, but the sash had been removed, and it was easy to step in.

"I wonder how this blanket came here?" said Philip.

"Oh, I guess the last people that lived here left it!" returned Henry. "I say, Phil, I begin to feel tired. Suppose we lie down? I'm glad I haven't got to walk any farther."

Philip sympathized with his new friend; and so, without much parley, the two boys threw themselves down on the blanket, and were soon fast asleep.

How long Philip slept he didn't know, but he was awakened by a terrible screech, and, opening his eyes, say Henry sitting bolt upright, with trembling limbs and distended eyeballs, gazing fearfully at a tall, muscular-looking Indian, who had just stepped into the cabin through the open window.



CHAPTER XLII. AN INDIAN AT LAST.



"What's the matter?" asked Philip, rubbing his eyes, for he was hardly able—so suddenly had he been roused from sleep—to comprehend the situation.

Henry, as white as a sheet, could only point at the tall Indian, who, standing motionless, was gazing as intently at the boys.

He made one step forward, and Henry thought he was about to be killed and scalped forthwith.

"Oh, Mr. Indian Chief," he exclaimed, in tremulous accents, "don't kill me! I—I ain't ready to die!"

The Indian looked amazed, and laughed gutturally, but did not speak. His laugh increased Henry's dismay.

"I've got a revolver. I'll give it to you if you won't kill me," continued Henry.

Then the Indian spoke.

"Why should I kill white boy?" he asked in a mild tone, which ought to have convinced Henry that he had nothing to fear.

But the boy was so frenzied with terror, and so possessed of the thought that the Indian was just like the savage warriors of the plains, of whom he had read so much, that he still felt his life to be in danger, and answered the question in a way not expected.

"I suppose you want my scalp," he said; "but I am only a boy, and I don't mean any harm. I hope you'll spare my life."

Another fit of guttural laughter from the Indian, which perplexed Henry, and after a pause he said:

"Me no want white boy's scalp! Me good Indian!"

An immense burden seemed lifted from poor Henry's breast.

"Then you don't want to kill me?" he said.

"No!"

"Then why do you come here?"

"Me live here."

The secret was out—a secret which Philip had suspected from the first, though Henry had not dreamed of it.

They had lain down in the Indian's cabin, appropriating his blanket, and were simply intruders.

Philip thought it was time for him to take part in the conversation,

"I hope you'll excuse us," he said, "for coming here. We had no idea any one lived here."

"No matter," said the Indian civilly—that being one of the phrases which his knowledge of English included.

"Henry," said Philip, "let us get up. We are sleeping in this—this gentleman's bed."

He felt a little at a loss how to designate the Indian, but felt that it was best to be as polite as possible.

The two boys started up, in order to yield to the master of the house the bed which properly belonged to him.

"No," said the Indian, with a wave of his hand. "White boys stay there. Indian sleep anywhere."

So saying, he lay down in one corner of the cabin, and settled himself apparently to repose.

"But," said Philip, "we don't want to take your bed."

"No matter!" said the Indian once more.

"You are very kind," said Philip. "Henry, we may as well lay down again."

Henry obeyed directions, but he was not altogether free from alarm. He had read that the Indians are very crafty. How did he know but their copper-colored host might get up in the night, skillfully remove their scalps, and leave them in a very uncomfortable plight?

"Hadn't we better get up, and run away as soon as he is asleep?" he whispered to Philip.

"No; he's friendly," answered Philip confidently.

As Henry had read about friendly Indians—all he knew about Indians, by the way, was derived from reading stories written by authors little wiser than himself—he concluded that perhaps there was nothing to fear, and after a while fell asleep again.

When the boys awoke it was morning. They looked toward the corner where the Indian had lain down, but it was vacant.

"He's gone." said Henry, rather relieved.

"You were pretty well frightened last night," said Philip, smiling.

"Who wouldn't be!" asked Henry; "to wake up and see a big Indian in the room?"

"I dare say many boys would be frightened," said Philip, "but I don't think a boy who left home to go out West to kill Indians ought to be afraid of one."

"I guess I'll give up going," said Henry, rather abashed.

"I think myself it would be as well," observed Philip quietly. "You'd find it rather serious business if you should meet any real Indian warriors."

"I don't know but I should," Henry admitted, rather awkwardly. "I didn't think much about it when I left home."

"I suppose you thought you'd be a match for half a dozen Indian warriors?" said Philip, laughing.

"That was the way with 'Bully Bill'; or, 'The Hero of the Plains,'" said Henry. "He always came off best when he fought with the Indians."

"I don't think either you or I will ever prove a Bully Bill," said Philip. "I might enjoy going out West some time, but I shouldn't expect to kill many Indians. I think they would stand a good deal better chance of shooting me."

Henry said nothing, but looked thoughtful. His romantic ideas seemed to have received a sudden shock, and he was trying to adjust his ideas to the new light he had received.

The boys were preparing to go out, when their Indian host suddenly reappeared. He carried in his hand a large-sized loaf of baker's bread, which he had procured at the village store. He was alive to the duties of hospitality, and did not intend to let his guests go, uninvited though they were, without a breakfast.

Though his stock of English was limited, he made out to invite the boys to breakfast with him.

Henry would have preferred to go to the hotel, but Philip signed to him to accept graciously the Indian's hospitality.

As the bread was fresh, they partook of it with relish, washing it down with drafts of clear spring water.

The Indian looked on, well pleased to see the justice done to his hospitality. He explained to the boys that he made baskets, caught fish, and sometimes engaged in hunting, managing, in one way and another, to satisfy his simple wants. His name was Winuca, but his white neighbors called him Tom.

When the boys were ready to go, Philip drew from his pocket a jack-knife, nearly new, of which he asked the Indian's acceptance.

Winuca seemed very much pleased, and shook hands heartily with his young guests, wishing them good-by.

The boys kept on to the hotel, where they spent a few hours, taking dinner there. Their breakfast had been so simple that they had a very good appetite for their midday meal.

"While we are here, Henry, suppose you write to your father and relieve his anxiety?" suggested Philip.

"Why can't you write?" asked Henry, who cherished the general boyish distaste for letter-writing.

"Because it will be more proper for you to write. I am a stranger to him."

"You won't be long, Philip? I shall want you to come and make me a visit."

"Perhaps you'll be tired of me before we get to New York," suggested Philip, with a smile.

"There isn't much chance of it. I like you better than any boy I know. You're awful brave, too. You didn't seem to be at all scared last night when the Indian came in."

"It was because I felt sure that any Indian to be found about here would be harmless."

"I wish we could make a journey together some time. I'd like to go West—"

"To kill Indians?"

"No. If they'll let me alone, I'll let them alone; but there must be a lot of fun out on the prairies."

"Well, Henry, go and write your letter, and we can talk about that afterward."

The letter was written and mailed, and arrived in New York several days before the boys did.



CHAPTER XLIII. A WELCOME LETTER.



Alexander Taylor, a Wall Street broker, sat at breakfast in his fine house on Madison Avenue. His daughter, Jennie, about thirteen years old, was the only other person at the table.

"Papa, have you heard nothing of Henry?" asked the little girl anxiously.

"Only that the boy who got started with him on his foolish tramp got back three days since."

"Is Tom Murray back, then?"

"Yes; he showed himself more sensible than Henry."

"Oh, I'm afraid something's happened to him, papa! Why don't you advertise for him, or send out a detective, or something?"

"I will tell you, Jennie," said Mr. Taylor, laying down the morning paper. "I want your brother to stay away long enough to see his folly."

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