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Two Boys and a Fortune
by Matthew White, Jr.
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"I never was so absorbed in a story in my life, my dear fellow. Go on, please."

"Well, over yonder, not far from the end of the trestle, lived an old man— but never mind the name. At any rate he was sort of a miser, or rather he had lots of money which he never spent and when he died he left it all to my mother."

"You've left something out I think," interrupted Mr. Keeler, and there was a smile about the corners of his mouth that caused Roy to flush deeply.

CHAPTER XI

MR. CHARLES KEELER

"Well, why don't you go on?" asked Mr. Keeler, as Roy paused.

"You've heard something about the affair. I can see you have by the way you look. Please tell me what it was."

"Only a very little," was the reply. "As I was crossing the trestle in the train a while ago I heard a lady behind me telling a gentleman who was with her that this was the place where Roy Pell rescued the old miser. So now you see I know who you are, but I hope that won't make any difference about your telling the story. You left off in the most interesting place. It would be worse than the serials in the weekly papers, for I couldn't look forward to getting the continuation next Saturday."

Roy smiled and then said "All right, you've promised not to use it unless I give you leave, you know. But I don't want you to think of me as a regular hero because I lugged that old man off the bridge. There would have been plenty of time for me to have run down to Burdock and stopped the train and got help there, but I really didn't think of it."

"Oh, no, that isn't the part I'm interested in at all. What I want to know is the reason you seemed so glum over having come into a fortune. Was it much, may I inquire?"

"About half a million, but I haven't been one mite happier since we've had it. In the first place my oldest brother has been sick ever since. We don't know what's the matter with him and he won't give up his law business and go away for rest as mother wants him to. He says he has got too much to do looking after the investing of her money. Then there's Rex, he wants so many things that he can't settle on any one. He got a bicycle almost the first thing, and now he's tired of it and wants a horse, and Jess says there's no good of getting that because we ought to go to Europe and take Syd with us."

"And Eva, she wants to go to Vassar, and mother doesn't want to give her up, and the worst of it all is we've sold the place and we are going to move into the city next month, and I hate to leave Marley, although the rest all want to go. So we're all pulling different ways, and nobody a bit happy, for if he's got what he wanted he has to remember that it's what the rest didn't want. I had a fling out about the whole thing just before I left the house and I came down to grumble to the creek. Why, that's funny!"

"What's funny?" inquired Mr. Keeler, as Roy looked up with a half smile.

"Why, it's just a month ago to-day since Rex came down here to mope because we didn't have money enough to let him go on a trip to Canada, and now I've come here to do the same thing because we're come into a fortune."

"Then you don't care for the money?" remarked the author.

"Not if it's going to break up a family the way it has ours. Jess used to be awfully lively and full of fun, and now she's all the time talking about new clothes and the places she wants to go, and how she's going to have her room decorated in the new house."

"But I thought you said she wanted to go to Europe."

"So I did. That's one of the troubles. She don't know what she wants. It's one thing one minute and another the next."

"But your mother? Doesn't she have something to say about it?"

"Yes, but she's so fond of us all, she wants to do what will give us the most pleasure. And of course when we all want different things that's pretty hard to do."

"And the 'different thing' that I want is to stay right here in Marley. I'd graduate at the academy here next June, and then all my friends are here, and I like the country. Now if your hero in a story was in a fix like this what would you do with him?"

"It depends on the sort of story I was writing. If it was one with a motive, a moral, so to speak, I'd have him give up his own desire and say he'd be perfectly willing to do what the rest wanted to do."

"But if the rest wanted to do different things? Here's Rex wanting to live in Philadelphia, and Eva thinking it would be ever so much nicer to live in Boston, and Jess divided half of the time between New York and Europe, and Sydney looking as if he'd drop into the grave right off if we didn't do something quick— what then?"

Roy spoke very earnestly, and Mr. Keeler did not smile this time. He began to pick at the bark on the tree trunk and did not reply for some little time after Roy had paused.

"I think," he said finally, "that in that case I should have had my hero try to make himself contented with whichever decision was arrived at. Half a million ought to atone for a great many drawbacks."

"Oh, I know a lot of people envy us," broke in Roy. "Charley Minturn says I ought to be the happiest fellow going. But I'm not. That's because I'm going— to leave Marley. I s'pose you think it's queer for me to tell all this to a stranger. But it's just because you are a stranger that I feel that I can do it. You can understand how that can be, can't you, Mr. Keeler?"

"Yes, perfectly. But I think you attach too much importance to your feeling for Marley. Of course you think now that you will not be contented elsewhere because you do not yet know the attractions of other places. I remember when I was in my teens, living abroad, I thought I could not be happy anywhere but in Paris. I had been there all winter, and when spring came and we were to go to Germany I felt just as you do over leaving Marley. But when we were settled in our German home I grew to like it just as I had Paris. That is the way it is sure to be with you."

"Why, you've done me lots of good," exclaimed Roy. "I should never have thought of looking at things that way. So you've lived in Europe? Rex only wants to travel there."

"He's your twin brother, you say? Does he look like you?"

"No; only the least bit. He is the good looking member of the family. There he goes now on his wheel. Would you like to meet him?"

"Indeed I should," replied Mr. Keeler heartily. "It would seem exactly like a character out of a story."

Roy put his fingers between his lips and gave a peculiar whistle, composed of three distinct notes. Rex, who was just passing under the trestle, turned around in his saddle, and when he saw some one beside his brother on the tree trunk, he made a half circle in the road and came scudding back on his machine.

He ran this in a little distance among the trees, left it leaning against one of them and then came on foot to the edge of the creek. His bicycle suit was very becoming to him. Roy watched Mr. Keeler's face and saw that he was favorably impressed at once.

He accomplished the introduction, mentioning the book both boys had read. Rex seemed immensely pleased at meeting the author, and put on his most charming manner.

"Won't you come over to the house, Mr. Keeler?" he said. "We can give you some lemonade and I'd like you to see the view of the trestle from our piazza."

"You are very kind," returned the young man, looking at his watch, "but I am afraid I shall not have time. I had planned to take the next train in to town. I have only about twenty minutes in which to catch it now."

"Stay to tea then and go up some time this evening," went on Rex. "I am sure our mother would be delighted to meet you, and so would the girls. Wouldn't they, Roy?"

"Yes, indeed, please stay, Mr. Keeler."

Roy would not have dared to make this request if he had been left to himself. That was the difference in character of the two brothers. One was impulsive, ready to do anything on the spur of the moment: the other cautious, shrinking sometimes. He was just as anxious as Rex to extend the hospitality of the Pellery to their new acquaintance, but felt that he had not known the other long enough to warrant him in doing so.

Mr. Keeler hesitated. He was in his element now in the society of two boys of such contrasted temperaments, making admirable studies.

"I was going back to New York to-night," he said. "But I suppose I could put it off till morning."

"Do; then you can stay to tea at the Pellery," exclaimed Rex. "That's what we call our house. It makes it seem like a nest, you know. If you don't mind I'll mount my wheel and run on ahead to tell them you are coming, so that we can receive you in proper state."

There was no opportunity given Mr. Keeler to decline. Rex rushed ahead, mounted his wheel and was off before he could answer.

"You will stay, won't you?" asked Roy.

"With pleasure if you think it will not inconvenience your mother. That is decidedly important. You do not know but I may be some moonshiner from the Cumberland, or a bandit from Italy. My complexion certainly answers to the latter description. You see, you have only my word for who I really am."

"I guess that's good enough," laughed Roy, "How do you like Rex?"

"Immensely."

"Everybody does. I suppose we ought to be very proud of him, and we are, but then we are afraid for him at the same time. What a boy he is! See, he's hunted up our big flag and hung it from Syd's window in honor of your coming. You'll have to make a speech now."

CHAPTER XII

AN ALARMING DISCOVERY

Rex come down to the gate to meet them.

"I'm sorry that mother isn't home," he said. "She's just had a telegram from Syd that takes her to town and will keep her there with him all night Some business connected with the new house," he added with a glance at Roy.

"But the girls are home and will be delighted to receive you with fitting honors," he went on. He did not say that he had had quite a time to induce them to appear at all. He had rushed into the house in his impetuous way announcing that Roy was coming along with a young man they had met down at the creek who was a famous author and was so nice, and whom they had invited to tea.

"But we don't know him, Rex," Eva had exclaimed in considerable dismay. "You oughtn't to bring strange people to the house in that way."

"Oh, but it's just the same thing as if we did know him," and Rex went on to explain about the story he had written, which they had all read and admired.

"But is he nice and respectable himself?" Jess inquired. "You know some of these writers are horribly poor and go about with threadbare clothes. He might not be the right sort of man for us to know at all."

"Jess!" Eva exclaimed severely. "The idea of your thinking that because people are poor they can't be respectable! We shall be very glad to meet your friend, Rex," and Jess felt that she was in such disgrace that when Mr. Keeler was presented she tried to redeem herself by being excessively friendly.

And this was not difficult for her to do. He was certainly very different from what she had expected. He had neither long hair like the traditional poet, nor trousers fringed around the bottom like the literary hireling of Grub Street.

Indeed, she found him quite handsome; he dressed almost as well as Rex did, and he was a most interesting talker. And all the while she was sensible of having seen his face somewhere before.

She thought at first it might have been in a portrait painted as a frontispiece to his book. At the first opportunity she slipped off to the boys' room and looked it up. But there was no portrait there.

Finally she decided that she must have passed him in the street in the city some time and resolved to think no more about it.

Eva was pleased with the visitor too. They had a very merry supper party. The clash of opinions about what to do with their money was stilled for the time while they all listened to the very entertaining stones told by their guest.

He was, it seemed, on his way home from the oil regions of Pennsylvania whither he had gone to secure the local color for a new story. In fact he had traveled very extensively in his short life, for he was not yet thirty.

At one time he had lived among a tribe of blacks in Africa; at another been a member of a party of exiled Russians, on tramp to the mines of Siberia. He was telling of an exciting adventure he had had among the Arabs when the twinkling lights in a train crossed the trestle caused him to come to a sudden pause.

"I must be thinking of the time," he said taking out his watch, and trying to see the figures on its face by the moonlight. "I don't want to miss the last train in to town."

"Oh, do, please," pleaded Rex. "You can stay here just as well as not. Syd won't be home and you can have his room. The last train goes in half an hour; you won't nearly have exhausted your stock of stories by then. Please stay."

"We should be very glad to have you do so, Mr. Keeler," said Eva.

"But this is trespassing altogether too much on your hospitality," he returned. "Besides, you scarcely know me and I didn't come prepared. I left Philadelphia this morning, meaning to be back there by night."

"Oh, we'll fix you out," said Rex with an air of finality, "so go on with your Arab story."

It was most comfortable on that porch with its southern exposure, the fireflies dancing to the chirp of the crickets, the span of the railroad trestle looking like a fairy bridge against the background of the sky. Mr. Keeler decided to stay.

Roy wondered what the others would think if they knew that their guest was aware of what had recently befallen the family. He should most decidedly not have told all he had if he had foreseen what was coming.

At ten o'clock Eva suggested that Mr. Keeler was probably tired from his journey, so the boys went up stairs with him.

"I'll come down and lock up," Roy called back to his sisters.

When he returned in a few minutes, leaving Rex talking bicycle with their guest, he found the girls standing in the library, over a large book which they had open on the table before them.

"Look there!" exclaimed Jess, almost in a tragic tone, just as he entered.

She was pointing at something in the upper left hand corner of the page. Eva started as she looked at it and then turned a frightened face toward Roy.

"Roy, come here," she said.

"Why, what's the matter with you girls?" he exclaimed. "You look as if you'd each seen a ghost."

"It's worse than that!" answered Jess in a sepulchral tone. "Look here."

She pointed to the spot on which Eva's gaze had been riveted.

"Why, it's Mr. Keeler's picture!" exclaimed Roy.

"Read what it says underneath," went on Jess in the same tone.

Roy let his eyes drop to the printed lines beneath the portrait, which was one of six which adorned the page. This is what he read:

Martin Blakesley,

Alias "Gentleman George," "Lancelot Marker" etc., Confidence Man.

"What book is this?" asked Roy.

His voice was hard. He hardly recognized it himself when he heard it.

"'Noted Criminals of the United States,'" replied Jess. "Syd brought it home last week to look up something or other he wanted to use in a case. I was glancing through it this morning and saw this picture then. I knew I'd seen Mr. Keeler somewhere before as soon as I laid eyes on him this afternoon."

"Perhaps it's only somebody that looks like him," said Eva faintly. "He has a larger mustache than that now."

"It's had plenty of time to grow," rejoined Jess significantly. "This book was published two or three years ago. See, here is his history. No. 131," and she began to look over the pages till she came to the paragraphs of description accompanying the portrait.

The three heads bent over the page eagerly, while Roy, in a low voice, read the facts about No. 131. He had been in jail twice, it seemed, his last term having expired, as Roy figured, some four months previous. He was noted for his suave manners and the facility with which he imposed on strangers.

"That's the man," murmured Jess. "What are we going to do?"

Eva stepped back to the sofa and sank down upon it as if every bit of strength had gone away from her.

"It doesn't seem possible," was all Roy could say for the moment.

Then he turned back to the picture and studied it long and intently. Meanwhile the steady murmur of voices could be heard from above. Rex was showing Mr. Keeler the treasures in their room.

"I had better go up and ask him to leave," then said Roy suddenly.

"Oh, no, no, that will precipitate a quarrel," exclaimed Jess. "He may murder us all."

"What do you want me to do then?" asked Roy.

"I don't see that you can do anything except sit up with Eva and me down here till morning. I'm sure I should never sleep a wink if I went to bed."

"I'm hoping yet there'll be some way to prove we are mistaken in thinking him the same person," put in Eva.

"You might take this book up, Roy, and show it to him, then if he didn't flush when he saw this picture we'd know it was all right."

"And if it wasn't, poor Roy might be stabbed where he stood," added Jess cheerfully. "I tell you! we might cry fire and scare him out that way."

"Don't be silly, Jess," Roy admonished her, and then he returned once more to the study of the face of the criminal.

There was a sudden crash up stairs. Jess uttered a half stifled scream.

"Oh, Roy," she cried, "do go and see! He may have killed poor Rex!"

CHAPTER XIII

DISCUSSION OF WAYS AND MEANS

Roy bounded up the stairway two steps at a time. He was conscious that both his sisters had walked to the foot of it and were looking after him fearfully. Then he heard Rex's voice. Evidently his brother was not hurt.

"Oh, it didn't matter in the least," Rex was saying. "It was an old thing, we shouldn't have taken it with us to the new house."

He and Mr. Keeler were bending over a heap of fragments on the floor. Roy stepped into the room and saw that they had once been the clock that stood on a bracket near the foot of the bed.

"I was reaching up to get that wasp's nest we stuck behind it," Rex explained. "My coat sleeve caught on the clock and pulled the whole thing over."

Roy. gave a sigh of relief and then almost smiled as he recalled what he and his sisters had thought for a minute had really happened. He bent down and helped the others to pick up the pieces.

"I think this should be a warning to me to go to bed at once," said Mr. Keeler with a laugh. "Good-night, boys, I shall be on hand for eight o'clock breakfast."

He went out into the hall and up the stairs to the third floor, where Roy had already lighted the lamp for him in Syd's room.

"An awfully nice fellow, isn't he, Roy?" remarked Rex, rolling the fragments of the clock up in an old newspaper.

Roy did not make any reply. He had sat down on a chair by the bureau, on which he was resting his elbow. His eyes were fixed thoughtfully on the book rack opposite in which stood the volume of which Mr. Keeler was the author.

"Rex," he said suddenly, "come on downstairs."

"I've got to go down any way with this rubbish. But what's come over you, Roy? You look as sober as a judge in a criminal case."

"I'll show you in the library," was all Roy's reply, then recollecting that the girls would be anxious to hear his report, he hurried out and down the stairs.

Eva and Jess were still standing by the newel post.

"Well?" they asked in a breath.

"It was only the old clock Rex knocked down. Mr. Keeler has gone up to bed."

"Did you tell Rex?"

"No, not yet. Here he comes now."

Eva went out and showed her brother where to deposit the contents of the newspaper. Then she brought him back into the library and pointed out the portrait of Martin Blakesley.

Rex understood at once what it meant, for he had been looking at the book.

"Whew!" he brought out this low whistle and then glanced from one to the other of his companions.

"You think it is the same man then?" said Roy.

"It looks exactly like him, and I suppose it would be as easy for him to take the name Keeler as any other alias."

"But there is a Charles Keeler," went on Roy, "I didn't know these men would dare masquerade around the country as such famous people. They would be sure to be found out."

"What are you going to do about it?" asked Rex.

It was characteristic of him that, though he had himself invited Keeler to the house, he was now putting all the responsibility on his brother.

"Let's sit down and talk it over calmly," replied Roy. "I've been thinking the thing over and I can't see what harm it can do to let Mr. Keeler stay."

"What, a confidence man!" exclaimed Rex and Jess in a breath.

"He may have reformed," continued Roy. "He didn't plan deliberately to come to this house, nothing he has said or done since he has been here has made us suspect him of being anything else than what he claimed to be."

"But if he has reformed what would he be going around pretending to be what he wasn't for?" interrupted Jess, "You don't suppose that Martin Blakesley and Charles Keeler, the author, are one and the same person, do you?"

Roy did not answer for a minute. He had plainly not thought of this side of the matter.

"Ugh! it makes me creep," went on Jess, "to feel that a man who has been in state's prison twice is in this very house and going to stay here all night. I'm going to stay up until morning. I think I'll sit down here and read the lives of these criminals. It will be an appropriate occupation."

"You girls needn't stay up at all," said Rex. "Roy and I will stand guard."

"Oh, I couldn't sleep if I went to bed," declared Jess. "I don't know as I can ever sleep again so long as we are in this house. Think how he must know all the ins and outs of it by this time!"

"How silly you talk, Jess," interposed Eva. "One would think to hear you that Mr. Keeler was a common burglar. As Roy says, he didn't plan to come here, and like as not he'll go away in the morning without having disturbed us in the least."

"You're standing up for him, are you, Eva? Well, I thought his good looks were making an impression on you."

"Jessie, you have no right to talk in that way. I'm not standing up for him at all. I'm only trying to get you to look at the facts of the case in a sensible way."

"But there's nothing sensible in inviting a jail bird to the house, and having him stay all night. It isn't the sort of thing you can prepare yourself to bear up under in dignified fashion."

"Shall I go up to town and get the constable to come down and arrest him?" asked Rex.

"You can't do that!" returned Roy promptly. "He hasn't committed any crime."

"But if we wait till he does commit one, it will be like locking the stable door after the horse has been stolen."

"You might go over to the Burtons', Roy, and get Will to come and stay with us," Eva suggested.

"And rouse them up at this hour of the night? It's getting on to be eleven o'clock. And it would be a pretty reason to give, wouldn't it: 'If you please, Mr. Burton, we invited a convict to spend the night with us, and now we're afraid.'"

Eva couldn't resist smiling at Roy's way of putting it.

Rex yawned heavily.

"I'm awfully sleepy," he said.

"Yes; and you and Rex were the ones who were to stand guard," Jess reminded him promptly.

"Well, I'm beginning to agree with Eva now," Rex returned. "I haven't an idea that man intends to harm any of us. Perhaps there is some mistake after all and he isn't Martin Blakesley, only somebody that looks like him."

"I don't go to bed on any such uncertainty as that," declared Jess.

"What would we do if we stayed up and we heard him coming down stairs to burglarize the house?" Rex wanted to know.

"If you and Roy weren't shaking in your boots too much to take aim you might bring him to a halt by pointing Syd's pistol at his head."

"I suppose we could ask him to wait first till we ran up to Syd's bureau drawer and got it," retorted Rex with fine irony.

"Mercy sakes! There he is right in the room with the only weapon we've got in the house!" and Jess looked really terrified now. "Why didn't one of you think to take it out?"

"Why didn't you think to tell us who Mr. Keeler was before we asked him to stay all night?" Eva retorted. "You said you knew all the time you had seen him somewhere before."

"The boys had no business to pick up a stranger and bring him to the house in this way," Jess replied. "What do you suppose mother will say when we tell her?"

"You needn't tell her," said Rex.

"Needn't tell her!" exclaimed Jess. "When she finds half the silver gone and Syd's pistol missing I suppose we can say that the cat carried them off."

"Well, I didn't pick the fellow up," affirmed Rex. "It was Roy. He called to me to come and meet him."

"And you invited him to the house," Roy couldn't resist adding.

"Come," interposed Eva, "stop quarreling over what is past and decide what we must do in the present. For my part I can't think we are in any personal danger. If the man up stairs is the same one described in the book he has evidently reformed."

"But remember what it says about his smooth ways," interjected Jess. "That is just where he has made his reputation, by his easy way of crawling into people's confidence."

"I tell you what to do," said Roy. "You and Rex, Eva, go up to bed. Jess and I will stay up all night and stand watch."

"But what good will that do you if you haven't any weapons?" Rex wanted to know.

"We can run, any way," answered Jess. "That will be better than lying still to be murdered in our beds."

After some further discussion the matter was settled in this way.

CHAPTER XIV

WHAT HAPPENED AT MIDNIGHT

When Rex and Eva had gone up stairs, and Jess and Roy were left to themselves in the parlor, the brother and sister looked at each other rather soberly for the first few minutes.

"Are you very sleepy, Roy?" asked Jess presently.

She sat by the table still, with that book about criminals open before her, but she had not looked at it for some time now.

"No, not a bit. Shall I read you something? There's that book of Mark Twain's we haven't finished yet."

"I couldn't put my mind to listen to anything. I never was so nervous in my life. And I'm getting worse."

"There's really nothing to be nervous about, Jess. I have no doubt that Mr. Keeler is in bed sound asleep by this time, with no thought of burglarizing the house."

"I wish I could think so, but I can't."

"Think of something else then. When are we going to leave Marley?"

"The first of September. The new house is a beauty. You haven't seen it yet, have you?"

"No, and I don't know as I ever want to."

"Oh come, Roy, it is ridiculous your being so set or staying in Marley. We can come out here in the summer perhaps, although I'd prefer to go abroad."

"It must have been nice to live in Europe for a while as Mr. Keeler did, you get so well acquainted with the people."

"I wonder if they got well acquainted with him," remarked Jess significantly.

"Oh, I forgot," returned Roy, and then he remembered what Mr. Keeler had said to him down by the creek about trying to make himself contented with whatever was for the good of the greatest number.

It could not be possible that a man who could give such excellent advice had a record behind him like Martin Blakesley.

"Then you don't want me to read to you," Roy added. "What shall we do then? What do you say to a game of Authors?"

"All right. Mr. Keeler isn't represented, so I guess I can stand it."

Roy took the cards from the drawer of the bookcase and they began to play. But Jess's thoughts wandered and Roy was obliged to remind her to take her turn many times.

Suddenly she held up a finger hushing him to silence.

"Don't you hear something?" she asked in a tremulous whisper.

"Nothing but the crickets outside and the splash of the water over the dam," he replied.

"No, it's something in the house up stairs. Hear it now; like the creaking of a board."

Roy did hear it this time plainly.

"It's Rex or Eva," he said reassuringly.

"No, it isn't. See, it's nearly midnight. They were asleep long ago. Oh, Roy, that man may stop on the way down and murder them both."

Jess had risen and stood there, staring toward the doorway into the hall, her eyes filled with terror.

Roy rose, too. He realized that the noise was not likely to be made by his brother or sister, and the servant slept in the rear of the house and always used the back stairs. He had often wondered whether he would be brave in a time of real danger as fellows in the books he read were. He did not feel by any means comfortable now. But he was not actually terrified.

"I'll go up and see what it is, Jess," he said, and started toward the door.

But his sister flung herself upon him, the tears starting from her eyes.

"Don't leave me or I shall die," she moaned.

She drew him back toward a sofa in the far corner of the room, and held him tightly by the wrist.

The noise from above drew nearer. They made it out to be the creaking of the stairs.

Jess was trembling frightfully. Roy could almost hear her teeth chatter. He wished that he could think of something to say to make her feel less terrified. He was sure if he had been a boy in a book he could have thought of something.

He determined to ask Mr. Keeler in the morning what would be the proper thing under the circumstances. Then he laughed out half hysterically as he realized that it would hardly be the thing to mention the matter to Mr. Keeler.

Jess heard the laugh and it frightened her more than ever. She thought Roy was more terrified even than she and was losing control of himself.

Nearer and nearer came the creak of descending footsteps. Roy started to go to the door. He felt that he could not remain in suspense an instant longer.

But Jess held him back.

"Don't, Roy," she whispered. "He will kill you."

And at that instant a man's form passed the doorway.

It was Mr. Keeler. He had on his trousers, shirt and shoes, but nothing else. His hair was all rumpled and one hand was stretched out in front of him as though he had been feeling his way.

He halted for an instant at the foot of the stairs and turned his face toward the library. Then Roy saw that his eyes were closed.

"He's walking in his sleep," he whispered to Jess. "I must go and wake him or he may do himself some damage."

"Let him alone. He may go out and then we can lock the door against him."

"Jess, would you be as cruel as that?"

"Perhaps he isn't asleep. He may be only shamming."

"I'm going to find out at any rate. There, he's fumbling with the lock. You'd better take the opportunity to go up stairs."

Jess still held on to her brother's wrist, but now she suffered herself to be led across the floor to the hall, reaching which, she let go and sped up stairs. Roy turned at once and laid bis hand on the shoulder of their guest.

Some way his fears and suspicions of the man had all departed.

"Mr. Keeler," he said, in a firm tone.

The other left off his working with the lock and a tremor ran through him.

Roy slipped his hand down till it rested under the other's elbow.

"Come into the library and sit down a moment," he said gently.

"Where am I? What have I been doing?"

Roy knew that the man was awake now.

"You have been walking in your sleep," he replied.

"I beg your pardon. Did you dress and come down after me?"

"Oh, no, I haven't been to bed yet."

Roy flushed as he made this answer, and at this moment the clock on the mantel chimed out twelve strokes.

"Are you in the habit of sitting up till midnight?" asked Mr. Keeler. "I suppose—"

He paused suddenly. His gaze had fallen on that book of criminals Jess had left lying open on the table. What appeared to be his own portrait stared back at him from the corner of the right hand page.

Roy's heart almost stood still for a second as he saw that the whole thing was out. Mr. Keeler dropped into a chair by the table still keeping his eyes fixed on that picture.

Finally he raised them and looked at Roy.

"You have discovered the likeness then?" he said.

There was a depth of misery in his tone that went straight to the boy's heart.

"Yes," he said. "My oldest brother is a lawyer, you know. He brought this book home yesterday."

"And you thought I was this man?" went on Mr. Keeler.

"We didn't know what else to think," answered Roy in a low voice.

"And you were going to sit up all night to make sure that I didn't run off with the silver?"

The smile that accompanied these words was a very sad one. Then the face grew suddenly grave again and without waiting for Roy to make a response to his awkward question, Mr. Keeler continued:

"I don't blame you for thinking that brother Martin and I were one and the same person. He is only a year younger than I and people could never tell us apart when we were boys. I remember we used to help them out by wearing sleeve buttons, an M on his and a C on mine.

"We were left orphans when very young, and Mart began to go to the bad at once. It commenced with robbing birds' nests and orchards, and ended with the confidence game for which he was last sent to jail. That is the reason I use my pen name always. I wonder if you believe what I am telling you."

"Yes, Mr. Keeler, I do," responded Roy heartily.

"I am sorry I stayed," went on the author. "I should not have run the risk. I had had nobody to vouch for me here, you see. I will go away now if you say so."

"Oh, no, no! I am so sorry it happened. It was only the merest chance we found out anything about it. It's all right now."

Involuntarily Roy put out his hand. The other took it with a glad light in his eyes. Then Roy turned out the lamp and they both went up stairs.

It was many a week before the young people of the Pell family ceased to talk among themselves over their singular experience with Mr. Charles Keeler. He left on the nine o'clock express the next morning, and everybody had been pleasant to him at the breakfast table except Jess, who did not come down.

Roy told the true state of the case before he went to bed that night, and the explanation was very gladly received by both Rex and Eva.

"It may be so," Jess replied; "but I'll take my breakfast after he is gone."

Roy told Sydney about the occurrence, and thought at first, from his brother's looks, that he was going to give him a severe rating for what he had done. A sort of convulsive tremor shook his frame, and he hastily took out his handkerchief to wipe away the beads of perspiration that had gathered on his forehead.

But he uttered no word of reproof; merely said that the boys should be careful about the friends they made.

"Don't you think Mr. Keeler is all right, Syd?" asked Roy.

"Yes, as it turned out, certainly I do," was the reply. "But it might have been otherwise."

For his part, Roy was very glad of the meeting. Since he had had that interview down by the creek he had been much more reconciled to leaving Marley.

"What if I had the burden to carry about with me that Mr. Keeler has!" he often told himself. "The consciousness that my brother was a scoundrel, a jailbird!"

CHAPTER XV

DUDLEY HARRINGTON

The family moved into their city home early in September. And a beautiful one it was, with enough ground about it to give windows on all sides.

Of course a small army of servants was necessary to the running of such a dwelling, and Roy, Eva and Jess had many laughable experiences at first in accustoming themselves to being waited on. But Rex took to luxury as naturally as a duck to water.

He seemed to be growing up terribly fast since a fortune had come into the family. He insisted on having a latch key as soon as they moved to town, and felt very much aggrieved because his mother would not buy him a dog cart.

"But you are too young, my son," Mrs. Pell said in response to this request. "Remember you are not yet sixteen."

"Well, I shall be next month," he replied, "and I know perfectly well how to manage a horse, I've been out with Scott so much."

He had had Scott and Charlie Minturn to visit him just as soon as they were settled and took solid satisfaction in entertaining them in the style to which he had been accustomed at their homes. But they did not seem to have any better time than they used to do down at "the Pellery" at Marley.

In fact they had enjoyed it there because things were different. Now it was Rex who was different They could not state in just what the difference lay, but they felt it. And when they had gone Rex realized that he had not enjoyed their visit as much as he had expected to.

To be sure, the "solid satisfaction" was there at the thought of having entertained them as he had long wished to be able to do, but then there had seemed a constraint which had not existed before.

The trouble was here: he had relied on externals to please them this time, and had not exerted himself personally as he had been wont to do. In fact Rex was not at heart as contented as he had expected to be.

To be sure, he had now all the clothes he wanted, shoes galore, and more spending money than any boy of fifteen ought to have, but all the while he was thinking that he was missing something. And he was not exactly sure what this was.

He thought he had discovered one of the things toward the latter part of September, when the people who occupied the adjoining house to the Pells returned to town. They were evidently a family of great wealth— the Harringtons. Rex found what their name was from the servants.

There was a young man in the household— Dudley Harrington. He was about twenty, and affected the sharpest crease to his trousers, the highest puffs to his neckties, carried his cane with the handle down and was altogether a dude of the latest type.

To become acquainted with this splendid youth now grew to be Reginald Pell's one absorbing ambition. He had always preferred to associate with boys older than himself; to be on terms of intimacy with a young man out of his teens, and who sported a mustache that was far advanced in the budding stage— that would be a triumph indeed.

But would he be able to accomplish his purpose? Although he was tall for his age, Rex could not hope that the object of his admiration would look upon him as anything else than a schoolboy. But he did not see him go out with many fellows of his own age.

He seemed to be the only child. The parents were elderly people, and the son was a good deal by himself.

Rex saw him sometimes in his own room, his feet on the table, a cigarette between his lips, the floor around him strewn with newspapers.

"I wonder if he doesn't ride a wheel," he asked himself one day. "I've half a mind to ask him to go out with me. We're neighbors. There can't be anything out of the way in my speaking to him."

The school which Rex and Roy were to attend did not open till the first of October, so the boys had a good deal of time on their hands just at present Roy spent much of it at Marley visiting his friends there; Rex was thus left to his own devices. On one of these days of Roy's absence Rex was riding his wheel in the Park when he passed Dudley Harrington, also mounted on a silent steed.

Instinctively almost Rex half bowed. It seemed natural to do so, when this fellow lived right next door and was so frequently in his thoughts. He was half alarmed at his temerity, when some one rode up by his side and said:

"Fine day for wheeling, isn't it?"

It was Harrington. He had circled about and caught up with him.

Rex was so overwhelmed that he nearly lost his balance. But he recovered himself in an instant, and his natural repose of manner asserted itself.

"Yes, indeed," he answered. "I was wondering if you had a wheel. Most fellows have one nowadays."

"Oh, this isn't mine. It's one I hired. I keep mine at New Haven."

"Oh, you're a Yale man then," exclaimed Rex, prouder than ever at having formed this acquaintance.

"Yes, go back next week," was the answer. "And glad enough I'll be, too. It's fearfully slow here at this time of year. Nobody back in town I know. Wouldn't have been myself, only the governor fell sick and I didn't want the mater to come on alone with him."

What are you— senior?" inquired Rex respectfully.

"Oh, bless you no, only sophomore. By the way, you have just moved into that house next door, haven't you?"

"Yes, about three weeks ago."

"Well, there was a stupid lot enough there before you. A set of old maids, most of 'em. You must be sociable and come in to see a fellow. We've a pool table. You play— look out there!"

Rex was glad a man in a buggy stopped suddenly in front of him just then, calling for this diversion in subject. He did not know how to play pool and did not care to confess the fact just then.

When they were riding on unhindered again, he begun to talk about Yale and led the other on to relate several of his first year experiences. By the time they struck the pavements again they were quite well acquainted.

"Let me see— your name's Pell, isn't it?" said Harrington, as they dismounted between the two houses.

"Yes, and I'm Reginald."

Harrington put out his hand.

"Well, I'm awfully glad to have met you, Pell. I say, come in to-night and see a fellow, won't you? That is if you haven't anything better to do."

Rex privately thought that he couldn't possibly have this, but he only said, "I'll be most happy to come."

The friendship thus begun, progressed very rapidly. Rex speedily learned how to play pool, but of this he said nothing at home. Harrington seemed to have taken a decided fancy to the fellow who did not conceal the fact that he was proud to be acquainted with him.

Rex's one source of regret was the fact that they were so soon to be separated.

"I say, Reggie," said Harrington suddenly on the day before his departure, "suppose you come over to New Haven with me. Just on a visit, I mean. I'll give you no end of a good time. We'll stop a night in New York on the way. Oh, you must come."

CHAPTER XVI

REX DETERMINES TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS

Rex's cup of joy was full when Dudley Harrington asked him to go to New Haven with him. It would be pleasure indeed to go anywhere in company with that fascinating young gentleman, but to visit a college town in his company, to be introduced as his friend— this would be bliss indeed, thought Rex.

But on top of this realization of how much he wanted to go, came the fear that he could not obtain permission to accept. It was a humiliating reminder of his youth, Rex felt, to reflect that he must ask his mother before coming to any decision.

"I'd love to go, Harrington," he said. "I'll let you know about it in the morning. That will be time enough, won't it?"

"Plenty. I'll leave on the Limited, at five, I think. Get our dinner on board and be ready for fun in New York when we get there. I say, why don't you decide now, Reggie?"

"Oh, I guess I can go," stammered Rex.

He hated to confess that he must first ask leave.

"When can I get back?" he asked.

"Oh, by Saturday, or you can stay over till Monday with me if you will. We never do much the first of the term, and I've got plenty of room in my quarters."

The Pells knew that Rex had formed the acquaintance of "the Harrington fellow." They also knew that he was to go to college in a few days, so, if Mrs. Pell feared any evil influence over Reginald, she consoled herself with the thought that this would be removed in a very short time.

Now when Rex came with the request that he be allowed to go to New Haven with his new friend, her answer was a prompt and decided "No."

"But I've as good as told him I'd go. mother," he pleaded.

"You had no right to do that," rejoined Mrs. Pell. "You wouldn't be in your element at all in the company of his friends, and of course you are sure to meet a great many of them."

"I'm in my element in his company. He's had me over there every day since we got acquainted. Besides, just think, I've never been to New York in my life since I was a baby, and this will be a splendid chance for me to see it. I can pay all my own expenses, so I needn't be under obligations to him. Please, mother; I didn't go on that trip with the Bowmans and now after school commences I shan't have another chance."

But Mrs. Pell was firm. She was a woman quick to discern character and she had seen enough of Dudley Harrington through the windows to conclude that he was not the sort of person to whom she wished to intrust an impulsive boy like Rex for two or three days. She chided herself now for having permitted the intimacy to go as far as it had.

Rex knew that it was useless to say more, and presently went to his room.

Here he threw himself on his sofa and brooded over his troubles. It seemed to him that he was the most unlucky fellow that ever lived. He never could have what he wanted. Even the money that he imagined was going to bring so much happiness failed to keep to the agreement, as he looked upon it.

"But just wait till I'm a little older," he told himself. "I'll make up for lost time then."

Still, this would not help him out of his present slough of despond. He thought of how lonesome he should be after Harrington went away the next day. He could have Scott or Charlie Minturn up to see him, to be sure, but somehow, since he had known Harrington, these old friends had not seemed so entertaining to him as they once had.

"And that trip to New Haven would bridge over the time nicely till school opens," he told himself. "I don't see why mother won't let me go."

But he knew perfectly well what the reason was. He realized that Harrington had habits which none of his associates had ever had. But what of it?

"I needn't smoke or drink if I don't want to," he argued. "I haven't done it yet. Besides, it will do me good to see a little of the world."

He rose from the sofa, lighted the gas, and just as he had done that day when he had heard who was Mr. Tyler's heir, he collected the money from his different pockets and counted it up. His allowance was a liberal one, and he had been saving up to buy a birthday present for his mother.

"Seven dollars and forty cents," he repeated to himself. "I wonder how much the fare will be."

He put on his hat and went down stairs.

"Where are you going, Rex?" asked his mother, as he passed the group who were sitting on the front porch, for it was a sultry evening.

"Only down the street a little way. I'll be right up," he replied.

"I wonder if Harrington's people ask him where he's going every step he takes," he muttered to himself as he strode off.

He forgot the five years' difference in their ages; thought only of the surveillance under which he chafed.

He kept on till he reached the hotels, and entering one of them, he hunted around till he found a railway guide.

A short consultation of this apprized him of the fact that he had enough to pay his fare to New Haven and back, but very little more.

"I suppose I shall have no expense while there," he mused, "being Harrington's guest. I think I may risk it, and if I get stuck he'll help me out, though I'd hate to ask him."

For Rex had formed a resolution. He had determined to go on the coveted trip without his mother's consent. He could leave a note explaining where he was.

It would not be half as terrible a thing, he argued, as for a fellow to run away from home and not mean to come back. There would be a great row raised about it, he supposed, but meanwhile he would have had a good time and the worst that they would do to him would be to send him away to boarding school, and he shouldn't mind that very much.

He thought all this out on his way back from the hotel. To be sure, he would have to use the money he had been saving up for his mother's present, but then he was in no mood to give her anything now.

He felt some twinges as his thoughts touched on this point, but at that moment some one took his stand in front of him and exclaimed: "Surrender or give the countersign."

It was Harrington.

"Yale," answered Rex promptly.

"You've decided to go, then," said Harrington. turning around to walk back with him. "That's right. We'll have oceans of fun. We'll meet Stout and Cheever in New York, and we can just paint the town, I tell you."

Rex was not certain that he would do any town painting. He would be quite content to be in Harrington's company.

"I can go if it doesn't cost too much," he replied, thinking it best to be frank on that point on the start. "You see, my allowance isn't a big one as yet, and I don't dare ask for any more."

"Oh, ten dollars will squeeze through easy enough."

Harrington said this as though ten dollars was no harder to get than ten cents. Rex's heart sank. Where was he to obtain the two dollars and forty cents he still lacked?

"Won't you come in?" Harrington asked, as Rex stopped in front of the Pells'.

"No; not to-night, I'll meet you at the station to-morrow at a quarter to five."

"What's the matter with my calling here for you and our going up together?"

"Oh, I'll have to go down town first and start from there." Rex felt that this was a very lame excuse. He was not accustomed to telling untruths.

But Harrington seemed not to notice.

"All right, just as you say," he replied. "But I'll see you in the morning any way."

"Good night," Rex called after him.

He felt that his not going home with Harrington was a good stroke of policy. He decided to add another to it by sitting with the family a while before he went up to his room.

"Scott wanted to know if you can't come down and see him to-morrow, Rex," began Roy, as his brother seated himself on the top step and began fanning himself with his hat. "He told me to tell you to come down on the 5:30 prepared to stay all night."

Rex's heart gave a sudden leap. Circumstances seemed to favor his plan. If he only had three dollars more now!

"I guess I'll go" he said. "Are you going, Roy?"

"No, I'm going to that ratification meeting with Syd to-morrow night, you know. If you don't go down to Marley, Rex, you'd better come with us. There are to be some fine speeches."

"Perhaps I will," responded Rex.

He was turning over in his mind how he was going to get that money. The matter of his getting off to the station was simple enough now. He could even go with Harrington without exciting suspicion. It would be supposed he was bound for Marley.

What a web of deceit he was planning to wind about himself. But he forcibly put this thought out of his mind whenever it obtruded itself. He would have time enough to repent when he came back.

CHAPTER XVII

REX ARRIVES IN NEW YORK

"I say, Roy, can you lend me three dollars?"

Rex had crossed the hall to his brother's room some time after the family had come up stairs.

"Why, where's all your money gone to, Rex? I thought you were saving up to get mother a present."

"So I was, but— but I've bought it and now I haven't got enough left to take me down to Marley to-morrow night. Just let me have three dollars. I'll pay you back when I get my next allowance on Monday,"

"You've bought mother's present!" exclaimed Roy. "What did you get? Let me see it,"

"No, I want to keep it a secret till I give it to her," replied Rex quickly. "Now about that three dollars, can you let me have it, old fellow?"

"Certainly I can, but be sure to give it back to me Monday, as I haven't enough to get the present I have set my heart on. I'll— but there, if you won't tell about yours, I shan't say anything about mine. Then we'll have a grand surprise party all around on the third."

Roy stepped to his dressing case and took out a two dollar and a one dollar bill, which he handed to Rex.

"Thanks, ever so much," murmured the latter. "Good night," and he hurried back to his own room.

He had never felt so mean in his life. Not only had he just obtained money under false pretenses, but he had told two or three falsehoods of the most unblushing description.

Roy's very readiness to oblige him added to his weight of remorse.

He sat down on the edge of the bed and began to tuck the money away in his pocket book. Was he really a criminal? he asked himself.

How horrified they had all been when they thought Mr. Charles Keeler had been an inmate of jails. Was it any worse to have committed a crime and have been punished for it, than to commit the crime and not be found out?

For a moment or two he was— shall I call it tempted?— to go back to his brother's room, return the three dollars and confess the whole thing. Then he thought of New York, of his induction to a college town, of his promise to Harrington to meet him at the station.

"No; I must go now," he reflected. "I can call it sowing my wild oats," and he undressed as quickly as possible and got into bed, as if fearful that his repentant tendencies would conquer in spite of him.

He was very quiet the next day. About ten o'clock Harrington came in to see him. It was the first time he had ever been to the house. Rex had not asked him, thinking he had no special attractions to offer him.

Mrs. Pell and the girls were out shopping. Roy was down at the office with Syd. Rex asked Harrington if he would like to come up in his room.

"Of course I would. A fellow's generally curious about the inside of a house when he's been looking on the outside of it half the days of his life."

So Rex took him up stairs. He admired the "den," as he called it, immensely.

"Wait till you see mine at Yale," he added, as he struck a match to light his inveterate cigarette. "I don't do much fixing up at home here, I'm here so little. By the way, you don't mind me smoking, do you?"

"Oh, no," replied Rex faintly.

Nevertheless, he was wondering what his mother would say if the odor still lingered when she came. Sydney did not smoke at all, and the entire family abominated cigarettes.

Mrs. Pell did come home shortly after Harrington had taken his departure. She came up to the third floor to put away some flannels she had bought for the boys.

"Reginald," she said, as soon as she entered the room, "you have been smoking."

Rex was reading by the window, and he turned around in startled disquiet.

"No, I haven't, mother," he replied quickly.

"Where does that smell of cigarette smoke come from, then?" and Mrs. Pell coughed and then came up close to look her son in the eye.

"Dudley Harrington has been here," he replied. "He was smoking."

"You are sure you were not smoking with him?" went on Mrs. Pell, adding with a sudden bending down over him, "Kiss me."

Rex complied, glad indeed that this time, at any rate, there was nothing he wished to conceal.

"Forgive me for doubting you, Reggie," said his mother, as she lingered an instant to stroke the hair back from his forehead.

Once more Rex weakened in his purpose, if one can be said to weaken when he is really stronger for the moment to resist an impulse for evil. But then he reflected that now he had the money and the opportunity of getting off to the station without being questioned. The facts seemed to will that he should go.

And he went, stopping for Harrington at half past four. When they reached the station he found that he had to pay a dollar extra for the privilege of riding over to New York in the Chicago Limited.

But it was very select to travel on such a train, and the dinner that he and Harrington ate en route was one long to be remembered.

In fact there were so many new and novel sensations and impressions received from this first stage of his trip, that Rex was surprised he did not derive more solid enjoyment from it.

It was impossible for him to keep out of his mind, however, the fact that he was now supposed to be at Marley with Scott Bowman. He had come away without leaving behind him the note he had at first planned to write.

"You must come to Yale sure, Reggie," Harrington told him. "Can't you get ready to enter next fall? I'll be a junior then, and can look out for you, you know."

"I wish I could," returned Rex, rather more soberly than the nature of the subject seemed to warrant.

He was thinking that it would be so much pleasanter to go to New Haven legitimately than in his present stolen fashion.

When they arrived at New York, Harrington said he would go at once to the hotel where he was to meet some of "the boys." Rex wondered whether they were going to stop at this hotel over night, and if to, how much it would cost. But he decided he would not ask, but wait and find out.

It was nearly eight when Harrington sent up his card to J. Ashley Stout in one of the plainer looking hotels on upper Broadway. Word came back that Mr. Stout was in his room on the fifth floor and would be glad to have Mr. Harrington come up.

"Come on, Reggie," said the Philadelphian.

Rex was not sure whether he liked Harrington to call him Reggie. Sometimes it seemed to place him on a more familiar footing with the collegian, and at other times he had a suspicion that the name was employed merely to recall to the younger the fact of the difference in their ages.

Mr. Stout proved to be a young man with a red face, a very unpleasant complexion, and an abnormally weak voice. He had neither coat, vest nor collar on, and his eyes looked as if the bell boy's knock had awakened him from a sound sleep.

"Glad to see you, Harri, old boy," he said, shaking Harrington vigorously by the hand. "Excuse appearances. Was just taking a snooze to prepare for the evening."

"No apologies, Jack. Let me introduce my friend, Reginald Pell. He's a neighbor of mine at home. He's going up to Yale with me to see if he likes it well enough to be one of us next year."

"Proud to know any friend of Harri's, I'm sure," and Mr. Stout gave Rex a hand that was so disagreeably clammy that the younger lad could scarcely resist the impulse to take out his handkerchief and wipe off the touch of it.

From the conversation that ensued he ascertained that Stout came from somewhere up in New York State and that for some reason or other he appeared to be quite a favorite with his classmates. One or two others were expected in the course of the evening, and the hope that they might go to the theater was now quenched in Rex's breast.

Harrington and Stout talked volubly of things in which he was not the least interested— other college men. New Haven girls, fraternity affairs, and the like. Rex sat there listening, trying to look as if he were having a good time, but failing signally. However, this made no difference, as neither Harrington nor Stout paid any attention to him.

Presently Stout began to complete his dressing, talking all the while. Although he was not angry, he seemed to find it necessary to interlard his conversation with some very strong and unpleasant sounding expressions, and once or twice Harrington followed his example.

In fact the latter did not appear to be the same fellow here in New York that he was at home. Once in a while he looked at Rex and smiled as if mutely reminding the latter that he owed the good time he was having to him. But Rex found it harder and harder to smile back, and he welcomed a knock that by and by came at the door as signalizing a. change of some sort.

CHAPTER XVIII

REX SEES A HORRIBLE SPECTACLE

Three new fellows followed the knock into the room. They were noisily greeted by Stout and Harrington. In the confusion it was some time before Rex was introduced.

Tom Cheever was a tall youth, continually feeling of his upper lip as if to see if his mustache had arrived; Dan Tilford had a narrow face, pallid from much cigarette smoking, and an eye that never seemed fixed on any object he gazed at; Harry Atkins was a handsome fellow of eighteen, who seemed of quieter temperament than the others.

Stout gave an order to the boy who had shown the last callers up, and the lad presently appeared staggering under a big bowl of what Stout declared was the "rummest punch" New York could brew.

"Help yourselves, fellows!" he cried. "Remember that the last night of vacation only comes once a year."

The room was already filled with cigarette smoke. Two or three of these cigarettes had been offered to Rex, but he had declined with a vacillating "Not now, thank you."

When the punch was passed around he took the glass that was handed to him, but only pretended to drink. He did not care for liquor; he knew that it would give him a headache. He was having a terribly stupid time as it was. It was not worth while to aggravate it by the addition of physical suffering.

He was appalled at the swiftness with which the others tossed off the drink. It seemed scarcely five minutes before Stout was calling out:

"Fill 'em up again, men! Here's to the coming year. May none of us be plucked and ponies be plentiful."

He took up glass after glass and refilled it. Rex saw what was coming and tried to be prepared for it.

"Why, Pell!" exclaimed the hospitable host," you haven't drunk a drop. What does this mean?"

"I don't drink, thank you," stammered Rex, conscious that he ought to look the other straight in the eye as he made this response, but dropping his handkerchief so that he might have an excuse to stoop down and pick it up instead.

"Oh, yes you do, when you are among gentlemen like us, Reggie." Harrington came forward hastily to say this.

The others held their glasses half way to their lips and watched for the outcome with interest.

If Rex were the hero of this tale it would doubtless be my pleasant duty to record the fact that he lifted the glass from the table, poured the contents into the bowl, and said that he could not go back on his principles.

But Rex unfortunately is not of the stuff of which heroes are made. He felt that he would rather endure a headache than the jeers of those five fellows.

"Of course," he said feebly, and drank off the glassful at one draft.

"And now for another," said Stout, promptly filling it up again.

Rex had never signed the pledge, but he knew that his mother did not want him to touch liquor. And it had been no deprivation for him to refrain, as he did not like it. What he had just drunk burnt his throat like fire. It seemed as if he could not possibly swallow any more.

His misery showed itself in his face. Atkins, who was standing just opposite on the other side of the table on which the punch bowl had been placed, saw it.

"I say, Pell," he called out softly, "come here a minute."

He stepped over to the open window, which looked out on an airshaft. Wondering what he wanted, Rex followed him.

The others were busy with the punch.

"You don't want that, I know," whispered Atkins. "I don't want any more either. Look here."

As he spoke, he dexterously emptied his glass out of the window. Rex was quick to follow his example.

"Those fellows don't know when they've had enough," he said, "and somebody ought to keep a level head on his shoulders to look out for them."

Rex's heart sank within him. And it was for this that he had spent the money he had been saving for his mother's birthday gift! for this he had deceived this mother! for this told those falsehoods to Roy!

"Are you fellows ready for another round?" called out Stout, looking over at them. "Slip up to the captain's office and get a settler."

His voice already began to sound thick.

"We must go and pretend to join them," Atkins whispered.

So glasses were filled for the third time, and on this occasion Atkins retired with Rex to the other side of the room, and watching his opportunity, poured his punch into the water pitcher. Rex, in trying to do likewise, let slip the glass, and it fell with a crash into the basin.

A roar of laughter greeted the incident.

"Good for you, Pell," cried Tom Cheever. "Trying to infuse a little life into the party. That's right, my boy, that's right."

The fellow came over toward Rex, walking a little unsteadily, and with such a leer in his eye that Rex shrank back against the wall.

At that moment Harrington came up and put his arm around Rex's neck.

"I always said that Reggie Pell was a gentleman," he mumbled. "Now you can see it for yourselves."

"And his clothes fit him," added Dan Tilford, as a special mark of approval.

"Oh, they imagine they're having no end of sport," whispered Atkins. "Look at Harrington. He's half seas over, too."

He was so far over, indeed, that he was very ill for a time. It was a fearful scene.

"Here, Pell," Atkins called to him from the bed where he had gone to look after Cheever. "See what you can do for your friend."

And Rex went over to Harrington and tried to pilot him to a seat. Then he held the other's head and shut his eyes, while he wondered if there was ever such a donkey on the face of the earth as he, Reginald Pell, to do all that he had done for this.

If it hadn't been close on to midnight he would have gone home there and then. But now Harrington was well nigh helpless, and Rex knew nothing about New York. Where was he going to sleep that night? Harrington was in no condition to have questions put to him now.

A fixed look came over Rex's face.

"I must go now," he said, looking around for his hat and valise.

"What, you're not going off and leave Harrington, are you?" asked Atkins.

"I can't do anything more for him and I must get out of this place. Perhaps I'll call in the morning to see how he is. Good night. I'm much obliged to you."

"Well, I suppose you are better off out of here, but aren't you going to hire a room in the hotel?"

"No, I want to get as far away from the place as possible."

Rex noticed that Stout was looking around at him. He shut the door quickly and hurried off. He breathed a great sigh of relief when he reached the open air.

He turned down a side street to collect his thoughts before deciding what to do. He wandered till he reached the middle of the block, then, finding his valise heavy, he set it down on the sidewalk to rest a minute.

It was after midnight and very quiet. Suddenly he felt something hit him in the face, and then for a minute or two all was a blank to him.

CHAPTER XIX

A MEMORABLE NIGHT

When Rex came to his senses again he found himself leaning against a brown stone stoop. His head felt very queer.

"I wonder if it can be the effect of that glass of punch I drank?" he asked himself.

Then he glanced down at the sidewalk and saw that his valise— a handsome new one— was missing. A terrible fear came to him.

He put his hand to the breast pocket of his coat. Yes, it was true. He had been assaulted and robbed in the street.

His money, his return ticket to Philadelphia, were gone, to say nothing of his satchel and the clothes that were in it. He looked helplessly up and down the street.

All was quiet as it had been before. A man was coming toward him on the other side of the way. But that individual could have had nothing to do with robbing him.

No, the thief had made his escape long since, and it was hopeless to try to overtake him.

Rex had one thing with which to console himself. His watch— a silver one Syd had recently given him— had not been taken. He thrust his hands into his trousers pockets.

Yes, there was some loose change there. He took it out and anxiously counted it under a lamp. There were seventy-three cents all told.

And now the question arose, What was he to do? For one instant the expedient of returning to the hotel and throwing himself on the good will of those he had left there suggested itself to him. But only for an instant.

The recollection of the scene he had quitted came back with all its vividness. No, he would not go back there.

He deserved all that had befallen him. He had been a fool ever to take up with Harrington. The fellow had only encouraged him because it flattered his vanity to be looked up to the way Rex had looked up to the collegian.

But he had no time now for self reproaches. He must decide what he should do.

He looked at his watch. It was ten minutes to one. He did not remember to have been up so late in his life. But he did not feel sleepy. He was far too excited for that.

"If I could only get back to Philadelphia," was his thought.

He knew that the single fare was two dollars and a half. What if he bought a ticket to a place as far as his seventy-three cents would carry him? He would be that much nearer home at any rate.

But there were no trains at this time of night, What should he do with himself in the meantime? To pay for a night's lodging would only still further deplete his scanty stock of cash.

Poor Rex felt as destitute, as desolate as any waif in all that great city. He had been cared for all his life, and now that he was suddenly thrown upon his own resources, he felt helpless, like a rudderless bark on a tossing sea.

For all he was much more ready to express an opinion than Roy, he had not half the push and energy of the latter, who, although quieter, was nevertheless the more determined character of the two.

Rex walked on now rapidly till he reached the lighted avenue. He had had all the experience he wanted of lingering in the side street. He halted on the corner and looked up and down in search of an Elevated Railroad station. He thought he had better get down to where the train started, so that he might be ready to take the first one.

The idea of telegraphing home had already occurred to him, but he dismissed it at once.

"No," he said, "I've done enough harm as it is. Some one would have to come on for me, and mother would worry. They'll think now till noon to-morrow, and perhaps later, that I'm with Scott. Perhaps I can even get back before they know I haven't been there."

If he only had his wheel! He had no clear idea of just how far the two cities were apart. He only knew that it hadn't taken him very long to come over in the Chicago Limited.

He found the station of the Elevated, and after waiting a long time he boarded a train. The people scattered through the cars were nearly all asleep. Rex dropped off himself almost as soon as he sank into a seat. He was utterly worn out.

The next thing of which he was conscious was that the train was at a standstill and that the guard was shaking him, with the words:

"Here, wake up, young man. We're at the Battery. The train doesn't go any farther."

Rex rubbed his eyes. It took him an instant or two to realize where he was.

The guard was not rough with him.

"Where do you want to go?" he asked.

"To the Pennsylvania station," answered Rex.

"Then you've come too far. You ought to have got off at Cortlandt Street."

"Is it too far to walk back?" asked Rex, mindful of his small supply of money.

"About three stations. You can keep along the river. It'll be nearer that way."

"Thank you," returned Rex. He wasn't in a hurry. He might as well walk. But he was terribly sleepy, and when he got to the foot of the stairway, he became rather confused.

He heard the water washing against the sea wall. He walked on in the direction of the sound and found himself standing at the very end of Manhattan Island looking toward the bay.

It was very quiet except for the light splash of the waves and the soft sound of escaping steam from an engine overhead. Rex was not certain in which direction he ought to go to reach the ferry. There seemed to be water on both sides of him.

There was nobody around of whom to inquire except a tramp or two asleep on one of the benches, and he did not wish to go near them. He turned away from the river and walked off through Battery Park till he saw a policeman.

The latter directed him how to go, looking at him pretty sharply. Rex hurried off, but presently stopped under a lamp post to glance at his watch. It was a quarter to two. There was no need to hurry.

But he was afraid to walk slow. It was very quiet along the water front at this time of night. He did not want to be "held up" again and lose his watch and what little money he had left.

Here was a man coming toward him now. But he was drunk. Rex was not afraid of him. He was only filled with a shame that sent the color to his cheeks.

Why was Dudley Harrington any better than this reeling sailor? And Harrington had been his ideal.

He reached the ferry just as a boat went out. He fell asleep while waiting for the next one. He was awakened by one of the attendants. The company evidently did not intend to allow the ferry rooms to be turned into a free lodging house.

The ticket office was not open on the New York side, so Rex just paid his ferriage. On reaching Jersey City he found that there was to be no train till 6:20 a. m.

He could not sleep in the waiting room. He walked out in the streets of the city a little distance, but was so tired he could scarcely drag one foot after the other. He was so sleepy, too, that his eyes kept closing every minute.

Then he was afraid of meeting a footpad. He did not know where to go. To hire a room at a hotel would take all his money. And yet he could not walk the streets all night.

Ah, he was being well punished for all his sins! And where had been the "good time" for which he had been willing to commit them?

He thought of Roy asleep in his comfortable bed at home. When should he (Rex) ever be able to feel as cosy in mind as this twin brother of his must? For even if he did succeed in getting home without something terrible befalling him, there remained his confession to make.

For he must tell everything. He had made up his mind to that.

But this was in the future. Meantime the present must be provided for. He turned and walked back to the ferry.

If he could only lie down somewhere, he thought.

There was a boat just starting out. He paid his three cents and went aboard. He fell asleep almost as soon as he touched the seat. A man came through when they reached New York, woke him up and made him get off.

But he was reckless now. He walked out to the street, but immediately turned about again, paid another ferriage and walked on the boat, where he instantly fell asleep once more.

And he kept this up till half-past five, when it began to grow light. Then he went ashore to the station in Jersey City and bought some fruit, which he ate for his breakfast.

By that time the ticket office was open and he went up to the agent and asked how far he could ride for fifty cents.

The man looked at him closely for a minute.

"Which way?" he inquired then.

"I want to go to Philadelphia," Rex answered frankly. All his pride had gone now. "I've only got fifty cents to spend on the ride, though. I want to get as close to it as I can."

The agent named a town and passed out a ticket.

When the cars were opened Rex lost no time in settling himself in a seat. He put his ticket in his hat and went to sleep at once.

The result was that he was carried past his stopping place, and the station at which he was set off was a few miles nearer Philadelphia than he had hoped to get. But the brakeman told him that the Quaker City was still fifty miles away.

CHAPTER XX

THE CRISIS

"Fifty miles!"

Rex repeated these words to himself as he stood on the platform of the station and looked after the swiftly vanishing cars.

How soon that train would cover them! It seemed such a simple thing to stay on board and be carried there, so cruel to be left behind simply for the lack of a little more money.

It was still quite early in the morning. People were coming down to take the train to the city. They had all been in their beds and had a good night's sleep doubtless. They were much better fitted for a long tramp than was he, who had not been to bed at all.

But he must set off at once. He asked the baggage man to tell him the road to Philadelphia.

"Sure, there it is, in front of you," replied the other, pointing to the gleaming steel rails.

"No, no; I mean the carriage road," returned Rex.

The man looked surprised, but gave him directions how to find it, and presently Rex was tramping down its dusty length.

"But I can never get there by to-night, nor by to-morrow night either," he kept saying to himself. "And I shall have to eat, and my money will not hold out till then."

Again he thought of telegraphing— this time to Sydney. But where should he stay while he was waiting for the answer? Then he remembered how ill Syd still looked, and he recalled the doctor's inquiry that afternoon in the office as to whether he had had a shock.

No; he must leave telegraphing as the very last resort of all.

He trudged on, and presently saw a tramp coming towards him.

"Good morning," said the fellow, halting where he came up. "What time is it, boss?"

Rex had just looked at his watch, so without taking it out he told the time.

The man took a step closer to him, but just then a cloud of dust appeared in the road, and a buggy came into view. The tramp moved on without a word.

This incident did not tend to make Rex any more comfortable in mind. And now his body was beginning to rebel.

His stomach felt light, his heart heavy, and his limbs appeared to be weighted with lead. Coming to a spot where trees grew by the roadside he halted and stretched himself on the grass to rest.

He was no longer sleepy, but so tired. He felt that he was going to be ill.

The thought terrified him. Sick out here on the highway, only a few cents in his pockets, and not a friend anywhere about!

It was growing hot and he was getting hungry. His breakfast had been a very light one. The last regular meal he had eaten was on the Chicago Limited. How long ago that seemed now!

He took out his money and counted it over. There was but sixteen cents left. He felt that he could eat that much worth for his very next meal.

There seemed to be no way out of it but to telegraph home, and he had better do it, he decided, before he was too ill to attend to it.

But there was no place now from which to send a message. He must keep on till he came to the next town.

He rose to his feet and had taken but a few steps when some one came up from behind and touched him on the shoulder.

He turned quickly, in fear of another tramp. It was a tramp truly, but a mere boy, not much older than himself. He was very pale and sickly looking, his clothes were torn in two or three places and his shoes were worn clear down to the uppers.

He did not speak. He stood there looking at Rex, amazement depicted in his gaze.

"I— I made a mistake," he stammered out at last "I thought you were one of us. I saw you lying down there under the tree. Your shoes were all dusty. I knew you'd been tramping."

But Rex did not feel astonished. He felt so ill and faint that his head swam, and he began to totter.

"I'll have to lie down again, I guess," he said weakly.

He had just time to move aside out of the dust when he fell like a log.

"What's the matter? Are you sick?"

The shabby looking youth had dropped to one knee beside Rex and was looking down at him with pitying eyes.

"Yes," was all Rex had strength to murmur.

Then he closed his eyes and did not care what became of him. The strange lad let his other knee sink to the earth and remained in this attitude for several minutes, gazing earnestly at Rex.

"Poor chap," he muttered. "I can't make out what he's doing tramping the country this way. He don't look poor. What'll I do with him?"

The first thing to be done, evidently, was to get him out of the sun, which beat down on the spot where he had fallen with fierce intensity.

The stranger bent over, and exerting all his strength lifted Rex in his arms and bore him back along the road to the grassy strip under the trees where he had recently been lying.

Rex opened his eyes for an instant when he felt himself raised from the ground. Then, when he saw the pity in the plain face looking down into his, he closed them again with a little sigh.

And now once more the strange youth sat contemplating the boy, who seemed to be a tramper like himself, but who, in every other respect, was so vastly different.

He noted the fine, delicately chiseled features, the smallness of his feet, the whiteness and smoothness of his hands. He had seen boys like this before, but he had never before touched one, never had one of them dependent on him, as it were, as this fellow appeared to be now.

Miles Harding did not know just what to do with the responsibility. And yet he was happy at having it; he felt glad that he had been able to do that little thing of carrying the boy from the sun into the shade.

It was not often that he was able to do anything for anybody. He was always in need of having something done for himself.

He tried to think of something else he might do. He noticed that Rex's head did not seem to rest very comfortably.

He took off his coat and started to make a roll of it for a pillow. But he stopped when he had it half finished.

"Maybe he wouldn't like that," he muttered, looking down at the garment as he unrolled it again.

It had been made for a man. There were rents in two places and plentiful sprinklings of grease spots.

The day was growing steadily warmer. Even under the tree one felt the heat.

"He wouldn't catch cold without his own," Miles murmured, and he bent over Rex and lifted him gently while he tried to take off his coat.

Rex opened his eyes and looked at him again as if in protest.

"I was going to make a pillow for you out of your coat," Miles explained. "You don't feel able to walk till we get to a house, do you?"

Rex slowly shook his head. He was in that condition which sometimes comes to those in seasickness, when he didn't care whether he lived or died.

"Have you got pain?" went on Miles.

"Only when I walk," answered Rex; then, as if talking, too, hurt him, he closed his eyes and sank back upon the pillow the other made for him out of his coat.

Meantime clouds had been gathering in the west. Miles had been too much occupied with his unexpected charge to notice them. But now he looked up and saw the threatening aspect of the heavens with troubled countenance.

He rose to his feet and strode out into the middle of the road, looking first in one direction, then the other.

His eye brightened as he saw a buggy coming from the westward.

He watched impatiently, till it came up, and then saw that it contained two men. He held up his hand as a signal for them to stop. But the driver, who had been talking earnestly with his companion, cut the horse with his whip, shook his head and drove on.

Miles remained there, standing in the road, a hopeless droop coming over his whole figure.

"They think I want to beg of them, I suppose," he told himself. "What shall I do?"

Already the sun had gone under the cloud masses and the air was much cooler. The wind rose and began to rustle the leaves.

Quite a distance off down the road, in the direction whence the buggy had come, the red tops of two chimneys could be seen peeping above the trees.

"He can't stay here in the rain," Miles muttered. "I must try to get him to that house."

He turned to Rex again. He took the coat from under his head and made him put it on.

"It's going to storm," he said, "I'm going to carry you to that house."

"You can't," was all Rex had strength to say.

"I'm going to try," returned Miles, and he gathered Rex up in his arms just as the wind came sweeping down upon them in a gust that was ominous of that which was to follow.

CHAPTER XXI

MILES HARDING

It was physically impossible for Miles Harding to carry Rex very far without stopping to rest. The life of a tramp, with insufficient nourishment, was not calculated to strengthen the long arms which could easily wrap themselves about the other boy, but had little power to retain him in their embrace.

But Miles fought to do his best. He only consented to stop and deposit his burden on the grass when he felt that, did he not do so, he would be compelled to drop it.

Then, after resting a moment or two, he would be off again.

"Don't; you will strain yourself," Rex whispered once, protestingly.

But Miles's only answer was, "I must. You can't be out here in the storm."

In this way they progressed until they had nearly reached the house. Then the rain began to come down in torrents.

Miles made a last desperate effort. Picking Rex up, he ran the intervening distance, although it was twice as far as he usually bore his burden without stopping.

He dashed in at the gate and then, so exhausted was he that he sank down beside Rex when he deposited the latter on the floor of the piazza. He lay there breathing hard, while the rain came down in sheets.

He had not even strength to turn his head when he heard the screen door behind him open and some one come out.

"Who— who are you and what do you want?"

The question was put by a very sweet girlish voice. And the girl who put it was herself exceedingly pretty.

She had opened the door that led out from the wide, breezy hall, and stepped upon the piazza. She now looked down upon the two boys lying there with undisguised astonishment.

Then she came around so that Miles could see her.

"I beg your pardon, miss," he said, stopping between every three or four words to take breath; "I wanted to get— him out of the— rain. This was the nearest— house. I hope you don't mind."

"Is he ill?" she asked.

Rex's face was turned partly towards her. It was very pale now, but Florence Raynor was thinking also how very handsome it was and in what contrast to that of the fellow who had answered her.

"Yes, he's very sick, I'm afraid," replied Miles.

"Is he your brother?" went on Florence.

"Oh, no; just— a friend."

Miles hesitated before he added the last word; then when he had said it a look of pride came into his eyes for an instant.

"I'll call mother," said the girl, and she hurried off to the kitchen, where Mrs. Raynor was making cake.

"Oh, mama," she exclaimed, "the noise I heard was two tramps who had come in on our piazza out of the rain. At least one of them is a tramp, and the other is the nicest looking boy, about the age of our Bert. He's sick and just as pale! But he's dressed very well, and I can't understand how they came to be together. Won't you come out and see them, please?"

Mrs. Raynor scraped the dough from her lingers and followed her daughter to the front porch. Miles had gone over to take Rex's head on his knee and was softly stroking the hair back from the damp forehead.

"Oh, yes; the poor fellow is very ill," Mrs. Raynor exclaimed as soon as she saw him.

She scarcely gave a glance at Miles. She stood for one instant as if thinking deeply. Then with a resolved tone, she turned to Harding.

"Can you help me get him up stairs and in bed?" she asked.

"I guess so, ma'am," Miles replied. "I've got my breath back now. I have to carry him, you know. You're awfully good to take him in this way."

"One must be terribly hard hearted to turn away one in his condition. Come."

Between them they lifted Rex and bore him into the house and up the broad, easy stairs to a little room at the head of them.

"We must get these wet clothes off at once," said Mrs. Raynor, and Miles stayed there to help her.

They put him to bed, and then the good lady declared that they ought to have a doctor.

"Let me go for one," Miles exclaimed. "I want to do something for him."

Mrs. Raynor, now that Rex no longer absorbed her entire attention, turned her gaze on his companion. Miles colored beneath it.

"Perhaps you don't think I'm fit to go?" he said slowly.

It was Mrs. Raynor's turn to color now. She saw that this fellow, so shabbily dressed, was of very sensitive nature. A happy way of turning the thing off occurred to her.

"You are wet, too," she said. "And it is raining still. I will have the man from the barn go."

She hurried off down stairs to call him. Miles lingered, looking toward the bed, where lay the fellow who had attracted him so strongly.

"I s'pose they don't want me hanging around here any longer," he mused. "They can do everything for him there is to be done. But I don't want to leave him."

Miles Harding's nature was a singular one for a boy brought up as he had been. Thrown upon his own resources when he was hardly more than twelve, he had received some pretty hard knocks from the world. But the hardness of these had not cultivated, a like hardness in him whom they struck.

His temperament had always been a sympathetic one. He had many times received harsh treatment that would never have come to him, by seeking to protect some persecuted cat or dog.

Thus far the recipient of his kindly ministrations had always been some dumb animal. Now that the opportunity had offered to extend these to a human being, Miles was loath to put it aside.

"What a nice fellow he is!" he murmured. "I wonder where he belongs!"

Just then Florence came to the door. The thought instantly flashed into Miles's brain that she had been sent there to see that he did not steal anything.

But he was accustomed to being the object of such suspicions. And yet, somehow, the idea that he should be, hurt him more than usual on the present occasion.

"My mother would like to see you down stairs," said Florence. "I will stay here with him."

Miles went down and found Mrs. Raynor at the foot of the stairway.

"It has just occurred to me," she said, "that you may think it best to send to the home of this young man. Who is he?"

A troubled look came over Miles's face. He feared that what he was about to say would settle the matter once for all about his being allowed to stay with the fellow up stairs. But he had to tell the truth.

"I don't know his name," he answered. "I fell in with him on the road. But I'd so much like to do something for him. You are sure there is nothing I can do?"

"You have already done a great deal for him," returned Mrs. Raynor, "if, as I understand, you carried him in here out of the rain. And you haven't any idea where he belongs?"

"No, I saw him lying on the grass as I was walking along the road. I was going to Trenton to try and get a job in the potteries there. But I'd like to find out how he gets along."

"You shall. Sit down on the porch here while I take your coat in and hang it by the stove to dry. I'll send Tim for the doctor at once."

When Mrs. Raynor returned up stairs a little later, Florence met her at the door of her brother's room, where Rex had been carried, Bert being away at boarding school.

"He's very sick, don't you think, mama?" she asked.

"I'm afraid so, my dear. I want to do all I can for him. I can't help thinking how grateful I should be to have any one do as much for our Bert."

"And see what nice clothes he wears," went on Florence in the same whispering tone. "How do you suppose he ever got into association with that fellow down stairs?"

"Hush, dear, "cautioned her mother. "Behind those poor clothes is a very warm heart."

"But is he going to stay, too?" went on Florence.

"He wants to. Perhaps we can find something for him to do about the garden."

"Do you think he's honest, though?"

"We must run our chances on that. He is certainly very different from most fellows of his appearance."

The doctor arrived inside of an hour. He made an examination and then reported that Rex was in for a bad case of intermittent fever.

"He may not be able to be moved for six weeks," he added.

And Rex knew nothing of it, but began to toss in the delirium of his fever, living over again some of the bitter experiences of the past few hours.

CHAPTER XXII

SEARCHING FOR REX

"What train did Rex say he would be back on, Roy?"

This was the question asked by Mrs. Pell at the breakfast table on the morning that Rex was trudging along the dusty road between New York and Philadelphia.

"He didn't say," replied Roy. "He'll surely be home by lunch, though. Scott is going to West Chester with his mother at noon."

Lunch hour arrived and still no Reginald. But Mrs. Pell did not worry. He had so many friends in Marley that there were plenty of places where he might have gone from the Bowmans'.

But when dinner time came and he had not yet appeared, the entire family began to speculate on the reasons for it.

"He's probably at the Minturns," said Sydney, when informed of the facts. "Charlie may have persuaded him to stay over another night with him."

"Rex should have sent us word then," rejoined his mother.

Another day passed, and by this time Mrs. Pell began to grow seriously alarmed.

"You must go down to Marley the first thing in the morning, Roy," she said.

And Roy went, repairing first to the Bowmans'. He found Scott just about to take his mother out in his cart.

"What have you done with that brother of mine?" Roy began when greetings had been exchanged.

"And I'd like to know why that brother of yours doesn't permit himself to be heard from," returned Scott promptly. "He didn't show up Wednesday night nor send me any message explaining why he didn't come."

"Didn't come?" echoed Roy. "Do you mean to say that Rex hasn't been here?"

"Of course he hasn't, and I think it mighty shabby of him."

"Why, that's the queerest thing I ever heard of," said Roy slowly.

"Why is it?"

"Because he started to come down here Wednesday afternoon by the 5:30 express."

"He did?"

It was now Scott's turn to look astonished.

"And you say he never got here?" went on Roy.

"Of course he didn't. You don't suppose we have him smuggled away somewhere, do you?"

"Haven't you any idea where your brother is?" here interrupted Mrs. Bowman.

"We were sure he was here, somewhere in Marley," answered Roy. "But he can't be, if he didn't come to you first."

"What could have happened to the fellow?" said Scott, beginning to see that the matter was more serious than he had at first supposed.

"I can't imagine. It's the strangest thing I ever heard of." Roy looked really worried. "I thought he might possibly be at the Minturns', but he wouldn't have gone there till he had been here."

"Let down that seat behind, jump in, and I'll drive you over there," said Scott.

But Charlie had not seen or heard from Rex in ten days, nor was news to be obtained of him from any other of his Marley friends. Roy went home seriously alarmed.

He hated to bring such a report to his mother, but he knew it would be better that she should be informed of all the facts.

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