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Title: Under Orders - The story of a young reporter
Author: Munroe, Kirk
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.

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[Illustration: ”ANY THING GOING ON TO-NIGHT?” VAN CLEEF ASKED THE POLICE
SERGEANT. (_Page 44._)]



                             UNDER ORDERS

                     THE STORY OF A YOUNG REPORTER

                                  BY

                              KIRK MUNROE

         AUTHOR OF “THE FLAMINGO FEATHER,” “DERRICK STERLING,”
                 “DORYMATES,” “CAMPMATES,” ETC., ETC.

                              ILLUSTRATED

                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                               NEW YORK
                                LONDON
                       27 WEST TWENTY-THIRD ST.
                      27 KING WILLIAM ST., STRAND
                        The Knickerbocker Press
                                 1890



                           COPYRIGHTED, 1890
                                  BY
                              KIRK MUNROE

                   The Knickerbocker Press, New York
                  Electrotyped, Printed, and Bound by
                          G. P. Putnam’s Sons



  TO JOHN BOGART

  FOR MANY YEARS CITY EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK “SUN”

  who, more than any other, helped me to obtain a literary foothold,
  whose honesty of  purpose, strict sense of justice, and unswerving
  fidelity to duty uplifted  him as an example of the ideal city
  editor, the dedication of  this story of newspaper life is offered
  as a tribute of gratitude and affection by

  THE AUTHOR



                           CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                               PAGE

      I.—THE CAPTAIN OF THE CREW RESIGNS                   1

     II.—TRYING TO BECOME A REPORTER                      16

    III.—THE OLD GENTLEMAN OF THE OXYGEN                  32

     IV.—BEGINNING A NEW LIFE                             49

      V.—THE KIND OF A FELLOW BILLINGS WAS                66

     VI.—A REPORTER AT HOME                               81

    VII.—“NO LOAFERS NOR REPORTERS ADMITTED”              96

   VIII.—”LORD STEEREM,” THE COXSWAIN                    111

     IX.—AN ACT OF FOLLY AND A CRUEL DISPATCH            125

      X.—MYLES MAKES A STARTLING DISCOVERY               141

     XI.—A FIGHT AND A MISTAKE                           157

    XII.—MYLES FALLS INTO A TRAP                         172

   XIII.—THE STRIKERS CAPTURE A TRAIN                    186

    XIV.—A RACE AGAINST TIME                             199

     XV.—THE 50TH REGIMENT, N. G. S. N. Y.               214

    XVI.—RECALLED AND DISMISSED                          229

   XVII.—THE BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD                    243

  XVIII.—WHO ROBBED THE SAFE?                            260

    XIX.—REINSTATED AND ARRESTED                         277

     XX.—COLLECTING EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENCE             294

    XXI.—A DAY OF TRIAL                                  311

   XXII.—TRIUMPHANTLY ACQUITTED                          329



ILLUSTRATIONS.


                       PAGE

  “ANY THING GOING ON TO-NIGHT?” VAN CLEEF ASKED THE
        POLICE SERGEANT                                   _Frontispiece_

  “IF YOU MUST GO TO WORK AT ONCE, WHY NOT TRY
        JOURNALISM?”                                                  14

  VAN CLEEF SAID SOMETHING TO THE CITY EDITOR IN A LOW
        TONE                                                          30

  A HOARSE VOICE SHOUTED THE OMINOUS WORD “SPOTTER”                   68

  “I DON’T SEE HOW WE CAN BREAK THROUGH THAT RULE,
        EVEN IN YOUR CASE”                                            96

  AS HE WAS STOOPING TO SET FIRE TO THE READY FUEL,
        THE SOUND OF HIS OWN NAME CAUSED HIM TO DROP
        THE MATCH                                                    150

  THE STRIKERS REORGANIZING THE MILITIA                              192

  THE CAR PLUNGED FORWARD, TURNED COMPLETELY OVER,
        AND CRUSHED POOR MYLES BENEATH IT                            212

  THE NEXT MOMENT HE FOUND HIMSELF STANDING ON THE
        PLATFORM BESIDE THE COLONEL                                  226

  HE LEANED GLOOMILY AGAINST THE MANTEL SHELF THAT
        NEARLY FILLED ONE SIDE OF THE ROOM                           248

  “WHO ARE YOU?” SAID BILL, HOLDING ON TO TIGE WITH
        ALL HIS MIGHT                                                310

  “IT’S ALL RIGHT, OLD MAN. YOUR SPACE HAS BEEN
        MEASURED, AND THE FULL BILL IS ALLOWED”                      342



UNDER ORDERS.



CHAPTER I.

THE CAPTAIN OF THE CREW RESIGNS.


“THE situation certainly looks desperate, Anna,” said Mr. Manning, with
a deep sigh, as he turned wearily on his couch and reached out a thin
white hand that was immediately clasped between the plump ones of his
cheery-faced wife. Her face did not look so very cheery just at this
moment, however, for lines of anxiety were wrinkling her forehead and
her eyes were full of tears. Then, too, she was thinking so hard that
her mouth was all puckered up.

“Yes, it does look a little desperate,” she admitted; “but, bless you!
it has looked desperate plenty of times before, and we have always come
out all right somehow. God has been too good to us so far to desert us
now, and I, for one, am willing to trust him to the end.”

“Well, dear,” answered her husband, “if you are, I ought to be, for the
heaviest part of the burden must fall on you.”

The Mannings lived in a pleasant, old-fashioned New Jersey village a
few miles out of New York, and had, until recently, been in the most
comfortable circumstances. Mr. Manning was the manager of a large
manufacturing business and received a handsome salary, from which he
should have laid by a snug sum against a “rainy day.” He knew it was
his duty to do this; but each year brought some new expense that seemed
as if it ought to be met, and each year he said to himself:

“Well, I can’t do any thing about it this time, that’s certain; but
next year I must surely begin to lay something aside.”

So year after year passed, until finally, when Myles Manning, the only
son of the family, was ready to enter college, the annual expenses were
found to be in excess of the handsome annual income, and nothing had
been saved.

Alarmed at this state of affairs, and not prepared just then to
retrench or practise an economy that would make them seem poor in the
eyes of their neighbors, Mr. Manning mortgaged their beautiful home.
His wife at first refused to sign the necessary papers, but was at last
persuaded into doing so.

It was only to raise enough money to see Myles properly through
college. Then he would go into business and soon be in a position to
help them, said Mr. Manning. He also said there was nothing in the
world like college for a young man. Besides the education that it gave
him, he made friends in college that were friends for life and always
ready to help one another. Every thing depended, though, upon the set
he got into. It must be the very best in the college, to be worth any
thing at all. To keep up with that set in X—— College would cost
something, and unless they mortgaged the place he really did not see
how he was to raise the necessary money. They surely could not do less
for their only son than to send him handsomely through college, and,
after all, it would in the end prove one of the very best investments
they could make.

So Mrs. Manning was persuaded, the mortgage was signed, and Myles went
to X—— College. There, on account of his good looks, his generous
disposition, his unfailing good-nature, and his apparent command of
ready money, he speedily became the most popular man of his class, and
a leader in its “very best set,” by which was meant the wealthiest and
most extravagant lot of young fellows in it.

At the time this story opens he had nearly finished his third year of
college life, and was looking forward with joyful anticipations to
being soon that proudest, and, in his own estimation, most important
of mortals—a senior. He was captain of the university crew, which was
in steady training for the great annual race with the Z—— College
crew at New London. He was also the best all-around athlete of his
college. This, according to Ben Watkins, who had been his rival for the
captaincy of the crew, and was almost the only fellow in his class who
disliked Myles, was not surprising. He said that Manning did nothing
else besides row and practise in the gymnasium. This was not true;
for, although Myles did not rank very high at examinations, he still
studied enough to enable him to pass with a fair average of marks. He
had, moreover, determined upon a career which it seemed to him would
not require a very profound scholarship. It was that of a politician;
and he felt quite sure that the influence of his own father, or that
of some of his gay young college friends, would secure him some snug
political position as soon as he was graduated.

Thus far, therefore, life had gone easily and prosperously with this
light-hearted young fellow, and its future looked bright before him.
He knew nothing of its ruder aspects—of its despair, its hunger, and
its poverty. There were those who said of him that, while he was a good
fair-weather sailor, he was not of the stuff to face, and do brave
battle with, the storms of adversity, should they ever overtake him.

Now, just such a storm had overtaken Myles Manning, and he was to
be tried. Nearly a year before a trouble of the eyes with which Mr.
Manning was afflicted had suddenly resulted in total blindness. It was
at first supposed to be only temporary, but as time wore on, and one
painful operation after another failed to afford relief, hope began
to yield to despair, and his career of usefulness seemed ended. Thus
far his salary had been continued, and the affairs of the Manning
family had gone on much as usual. At last there came a letter in which,
while regretting the necessity, the president of the company that
had employed Mr. Manning informed him that, as there was no present
prospect that he would be able to resume his duties, the payment of his
salary must cease from that date.

As Mrs. Manning finished reading this politely cruel letter to her
husband she tried to speak cheerfully of it, and to find some gleam of
hope in their situation. In her heart, however, she was compelled to
admit that it was indeed desperate, and that she did not know which way
to turn.

It was Saturday, and Kate Manning, the only daughter of the family, and
a year younger than Myles, was home from Vassar, the summer vacation
at which was already begun. The evening before, she and her mother
planned a trip to a noted sea-side resort, at which they hoped Mr.
Manning might be benefited, and where Kate, who was as fond of society
as her brother, and in her way quite as popular as he, anticipated a
delightful time. Myles had written that he expected an invitation to
go on a yachting trip with Bert Smedley, one of the wealthiest of his
classmates. Thus he too might be looked for at the same famous resort.
He was to come home for Sunday to talk over plans for the summer.

Myles was never in better spirits, nor more full of enthusiasm over
what he was doing, and about to do, than when he reached home that
Saturday evening. After he had kissed his mother and sister, and been
warned by them not to be boisterous, as his father was sleeping, they
could do nothing for some time but sit and listen to his glowing
accounts of college life and the joys of which it held so many for him.

At last he noticed their mood, and, stopping short in the middle of a
glowing description of his crew and the splendid work it was doing, he
asked:

“But what ails you two? You are as mum as oysters.”

Then the mother crossed over to the sofa on which he sat, and, taking
one of his hands in hers, said:

“My poor dear boy! It is so good to see you bright and happy that we
hadn’t the heart to interrupt you with our sorrows.”

“Sorrows!” exclaimed Myles, in a bewildered tone. “What do you mean,
mother? Is any one dead? or is father worse?”

Then they told him the whole story; of the letter that had come that
day, of the mortgage, with its ever accumulating load of interest, and
of the desperate financial condition of the family generally.

When the sad tale was ended the boy sat for a moment as motionless as
though stunned. Then in a husky voice he asked:

“Is that all, mother?”

“No, dear, it is not,” answered the brave little woman. “Kate and
I have been looking at the situation in every possible light this
afternoon, and have finally decided upon a plan in which we want
your help. It is to rent this house furnished, and with every thing
belonging to it, except the gardener’s cottage. Into that we will
move, and there we can manage to live very comfortably. Of course all
the servants will be dismissed, and Kate is going to give up Vassar
in order to stay at home and help me with the housework. In this way
we hope to be able to pay the interest on the mortgage until there
is a good chance to sell the property, when we shall be relieved of
that burden. You have but one more year of college. By practising the
closest economy all around—and this is where you can help us,—we
think we can get you through with that. Then you will find some
business and aid in supporting the family. Thus we shall have only one
year of real hard times, and that will soon be over with.”

“Mother!” exclaimed the boy, giving a squeeze to the soft little hand
clasped in his big brown ones; “you are the very best and bravest woman
in the world. And, Kate, you are a dear, splendid girl. But do you
suppose for one minute that I am going to let you two do all this for
me and do nothing for myself? No, sir-e-e! If Kate must give up her
college, in which I know she is doing a thousand times better than I am
in mine, why, I shall do the same. I shall do it on Monday too. College
isn’t worth half so much in this world as home is, and where there is
going to be a fight to keep that, I’m going to be one of the fighters.
Now don’t say a word against it; I know the right thing to do, and I’m
going to do it.”

Nothing they could say served to alter his determination in the
slightest. He only added to his arguments that he was not giving up so
very much after all, for it wouldn’t be much fun to stay in college
after he was no longer able to hold up his end. Into his mind came
also unpleasant memories of a few little bills that even his generous
allowance had not been sufficient to meet; but of these he said
nothing. He felt that they were his private burden and must be borne
alone.

In spite of their remonstrances against his decision to leave college,
both Mrs. Manning and Kate were greatly cheered by his manly resolution
and brave words. As they listened to them their hearts grew many
degrees lighter than they had been before his arrival.

When the boy told his father of his plans, the next day, Mr. Manning
heartily approved of them. He only asked his son what steps he proposed
to take to get into business.

“My influence might be sufficient to secure you some sort of a position
with the M—— Company,” he added, naming the one for which he had
acted as manager.

“No, sir!” exclaimed Myles. “Any thing rather than that. I’d sell
papers on the street sooner than work under the man who wrote you that
letter. Don’t you worry, sir. I’ll find a place quick enough. There are
lots of fellows in my class who are the sons of business men, and who
would be glad to give me notes to their fathers. Some of them are sure
to take me in and give me a start.”

The father sighed as he thought of the difference between friends in
prosperity and friends in adversity; but he would not say any thing to
dampen his boy’s ardor.

“Let him work out his own salvation,” said the blind man to his wife.
“The harder the fight the more highly will he prize the victory when
it is won, as I am certain it will be sooner or later. I am afraid,
though, that it will be a long time before he is able to afford you any
real assistance. If he supports himself for the first year or two he
will be doing unusually well.”

When Myles and his sister went to church together that Sunday morning
many an admiring glance was cast at the stalwart young captain of the
X—— College “Varsity” crew, and more than one pretty girl privately
decided to wear X—— colors on the day of the great race.

On Monday, when his mother and Kate kissed him good-bye, tears stood in
their eyes, and the former said:

“Oh, Myles, think again, and seriously before you take this step. We
can manage somehow to keep you in college for one little year more; I
know we can.”

“Of course you could, mother. You could do any thing that you set out
to do, only I won’t be kept,” answered the boy, bravely. “The next
thing you hear of me will be that I am a junior partner in some Wall
Street concern; see if I am not.”

The first person Myles met upon entering the college-grounds was Bert
Smedley, who held out a paper to him, saying:

“You are just the one I was looking for, Manning. We have got to raise
a hundred or two more to see you fellows through at New London, and
our set has undertaken to do it. Here’s the subscription paper, and I
wouldn’t let a fellow sign it until I’d got your name to head the list.
So, now, give us something handsome as a starter.”

Myles’ heart sank at these words, and there was a choking sensation in
his throat as he answered:

“There’s no use coming to me, Bert, I can’t give a cent. You see, my
father has got into trouble, and I’ve got to leave college and go to
work to help him out of it. If you will only speak a word for me to
your father, though, and ask if he can’t find me some sort of a berth
in his business, whatever that is, for I don’t think I ever heard you
say, I’ll be ever so much obliged to you, and will do as much and more
for you if ever I have a chance.”

“But you are captain of the crew!” gasped Smedley, bewildered by this
sudden turn of affairs.

“No, I’m not, now,” answered Myles. “My resignation is already written
and sent in. It was hard enough to give it up, you’d better believe;
but it had to be done—and business before pleasure, you know. You’ll
speak a good word for me, old man, won’t you?”

“I’ll see,” replied the other. Then adding, “Excuse me a moment;
there’s Watkins, and I must have his name,” he hurried away, anxious
to be the first to communicate the astounding intelligence he had just
learned to Myles’ most prominent rival.

The news flew fast, and Myles had hardly begun to dismantle his room
of its many pretty bits of bric-a-brac, preparatory to packing up his
belongings, before it was filled with a throng of fellows anxious to
hear from his own lips the truth of the startling rumor.

“It’s a shame!” cried one.

“It will break up the crew!” exclaimed another.

“We might as well give the race to Z—— and be done with it.”

But their thoughts seemed to be mostly of their own disappointment.
Poor Myles, almost stunned by the clamor about him, could hardly hear
the words of pity for himself, and sympathy with his misfortune, that
were uttered here and there. It seemed to him that they cared nothing
for him or his troubles, but thought only of what a loss he would be to
the crew. Thus thinking he could not bring himself to ask their help
in securing employment, as he had intended; and, though they were the
fellows of his “set,” upon whom he depended for aid, he let one after
another of them leave the room without broaching the subject. At length
the room was cleared and he was left alone.

Not quite alone though. A fellow named Van Cleef, whom Myles knew but
slightly, and who was such a hard-working student as to be termed the
class “dig,” remained. As Myles turned and noticed him for the first
time Van Cleef said:

[Illustration: “IF YOU MUST GO TO WORK AT ONCE, WHY NOT TRY
JOURNALISM?” (_Page 15._)]

“I’m awfully sorry for you, Manning, and you are heartily welcome to
any thing I can do to help you. If you must go to work at once why not
try journalism? It is hard work, but it pays something from the very
start, and that is more than can be said of almost any other business.”



CHAPTER II.

TRYING TO BECOME A REPORTER.


“JOURNALISM!” exclaimed Myles Manning, in answer to Van Cleef’s
suggestion. “Why, I never thought of such a thing, and I don’t know
the first thing about it. To be sure,” he added, reflectively, “I have
helped edit the college _Oarsman_, and have written one or two little
things that got published in our country weekly out home; but I don’t
suppose all that would help a fellow much in real journalism.”

Here Myles looked up at his companion, hoping to hear him say that
these things would go far toward securing him a position on one of the
big dailies. But Van Cleef was too honest a fellow to raise false hopes
in another, and he said:

“No; of course all that doesn’t amount to any thing. Everybody does
more or less of that sort of thing nowadays, and it’s generally in the
poetry line; but there’s nothing practical in it.”

Here Myles blushed consciously as he recalled the fact that most of his
own efforts had been in the “poetry line”; but he said nothing.

“At any rate,” continued Van Cleef, “you probably know as much of
journalism as you do of Wall Street or any other business, and that
is just nothing at all. You’d have to begin at the very bottom, any
way, and work up. Now, reporting is the only thing I know of that pays
a fellow living wages from the very first, and that is the reason I
mentioned it.”

“Reporting!” echoed Myles, pausing in his packing and looking up
with an expression of amazement. “You don’t mean to say that your
‘journalism’ means being only a common reporter?”

Now, in Myles’ set reporters were always spoken of, when mentioned at
all, as a class of beings to be despised. He had come to regard them
as a lot of very common fellows, who spent their time in prying into
other people’s business, who were to be avoided as much as possible,
but who must be treated decently when met, for fear lest they might
“write a fellow up,” or put his name in the papers in some unpleasant
connection. When Van Cleef mentioned journalism his hearer’s fancy
at once sprang into the position of an editorial writer, a well-paid
contributor of graceful verse or witty paragraphs, a critic, foreign
correspondent, or something of that sort. But to be only a reporter!
Why, the mere thought of such a thing was humiliating.

“Why not?” asked Van Cleef, in reply to Myles’ question, and in
surprise at his tone. “A first-class, well-trained, reporter is one of
the brightest, smartest, and best-informed men in the city. He knows
everybody worth knowing, and every thing that is happening or about to
happen. He is as valuable to his paper as the editor-in-chief, and he
often earns as much money. A reporter must of necessity learn something
of every kind of business, and he meets with more chances than any
other man to change his employment, if he wants to, for one that will
pay him better.

“Look at the prominent politicians, railroad presidents, and others
now occupying the most honorable positions of trust and power in
this country, and see how many of them began life as reporters. Our
present Secretary of State was once a reporter, and a good one too.
The President’s private secretary, who is called the ‘power behind the
throne,’ was a reporter. A late Secretary of the Treasury was once a
reporter. I have a personal knowledge of six members of Congress who
used to be reporters. All the foreign correspondents, who are really
the men controlling the destinies of nations, are nothing more nor less
than reporters. Stanley was a reporter, and so were hundreds more who
are now world-famed. Oh, I tell you what, Manning, there is nothing to
be ashamed of in being a reporter, though I will admit that most people
seem to think there is.

“Of course, there are a lot of sneaks and worthless fellows in this
business, as in every other, but they are decidedly in the minority,
and are fast being weeded out. The newspapers now demand the very best
men as reporters, and they are getting them, too. You have heard, of
course, of the professorship of journalism at C—— College? Well, it
was established by a man who, only a few years ago, was a reporter on
one of the New York papers, and he is making a first-class thing of it.
I am a sort of a reporter myself,” he continued, laughing, “and the
minute I graduate from here I mean to become a full-fledged one.”

“You a reporter!” cried Myles. “How can you be a reporter and a college
man at the same time?”

“Easy enough, or rather by working hard and sacrificing some sleep,”
answered Van Cleef. “You see,” he continued, in a slightly embarrassed
tone, for he was not given to talking of himself or his own affairs,
“I am not one of you wealthy fellows, but have had to hoe my own row
ever since I was fifteen. When I came here to enter college I had to
find something to do to support myself at the same time. After a lot of
disappointments I was fortunate enough to obtain a night-station job on
the _Phonograph_, and, though the pay is small, it is enough to keep me
going.”

“What do you mean by a ‘night-station’ job?” asked Myles, now greatly
interested in what Van Cleef was saying.

“Why,” laughed the other, “it means that I go at ten o’clock every
evening to the police-station nearest Central Park, on either the east
or the west side of the city, and walk from there down to the Battery.
On the way I stop at every station and at the hospitals to inquire for
stray bits of news or interesting incidents. As the route lies through
the very lowest and worst parts of town one is also apt to run across
something or other of interest that even the police have not found out.
I have to be all through and report at the office at sharp one o’clock.”

“I should think that would be fun,” said Myles; “and I should like
mightily to take the trip with you some night.”

“I should only be too glad of your company,” returned the other, “and
perhaps you would enjoy it for once. I can tell you though, it gets to
be awfully monotonous after you have done it for a year or so, and I
shall be happy enough to give it up for regular reporting when the time
comes that I can do so.”

“Aren’t you in great danger, walking alone so late at night through the
slums?” asked Myles.

“Oh, no—that is, not to speak of. A reporter, if he is known to be
such, is generally safe enough wherever he goes, and I am pretty well
known by this time along the entire line of my route.”

“You carry a pistol, of course?”

“Indeed I do nothing so foolish,” answered Van Cleef. “It would be
certain to get me into trouble sooner or later. I only carry this
badge, and it affords a better protection than all the pistols I could
stuff into my pockets.”

Here the speaker threw open his coat and displayed the silver badge of
a deputy sheriff pinned to his vest.

“Yes, I have been regularly sworn in,” he continued, in answer to
Myles’ inquiring glance, “and the sight of it acts like magic in
quieting a crowd of toughs. It passes me through fire-lines, too, which
is often a great convenience.”

“What do you do in vacations?” asked Myles, with the curiosity of one
exploring a new world of experience, the very existence of which he had
not heretofore dreamed of.

“Do my station-work nights, and in the daytime read law or study
English literature in the library,” answered Van Cleef. “Once in a
while the city editor offers me an excursion assignment. Then I take a
day off from study and get paid for going into the country at the same
time.”

“An excursion assignment?” questioned Myles.

“Yes; every job on which a reporter is sent is called an ‘assignment,’
or, in some offices, a ‘detail,’ and if he is sent on a Chinese picnic,
or down the bay with the newsboys, or up the Sound with the fat men, or
on any other trip of that kind, it is an excursion assignment.”

“Well, look here, Van Cleef, it seems to me that you are one of the
most plucky fellows I ever met!” exclaimed Myles, extending a hand that
the other grasped heartily, “and I am ashamed of myself not to have
known you before.”

“I don’t know that that has been your fault so much as my own. I knew
that I had no business with your set of fellows, so I have kept out of
your way as much as possible,” remarked the other, quietly.

“And a good thing for you that you have,” cried Myles, bitterly,
“for my opinion of that set of fellows is—well,” he added, checking
himself, “never mind now what it is. I have done with them, and they
with me. The question of present interest is, do you think I could ever
make a reporter; and, if so, can you tell me where to find a job at the
business?”

By these questions it will be seen that our young man’s ideas
concerning business, and the business of reporting in particular, had
undergone some very decided changes since he left home that morning.

“You are undoubtedly bright enough and smart enough,” answered Van
Cleef, “and I have no doubt that if you should stick to the business
long enough, and accept its rough knocks as a desirable part of your
training, you could readily become a first-class reporter. As for
obtaining a job at it, that is quite another thing. The newspaper
offices all over the country, and especially in New York, are besieged
by young fellows who want to try their hand at reporting, but not
one in a hundred of them is taken on. I’ll tell you, though, what we
will do. The only paper on which I know anybody of influence is the
_Phonograph_, and perhaps you wouldn’t like it as well as some other.
So you take a run by yourself among the offices of all the big dailies
this afternoon. The little ones are not worth trying. Send your card
in to the city editors, and apply for work. If you don’t find any
that suits you, meet me at the _Phonograph_ office at five o’clock
and I’ll introduce you to the city editor there. I don’t say that my
introduction will do any good. Probably it won’t; but at any rate
it will give you a chance to talk with him, and plead your own case.
Afterward we will dine together somewhere, and then, if you choose, you
can go with me on my round of stations.”

“Good enough!” cried Myles; “that’s an immense plan, and we will
carry it out to the letter. You won’t mind if I say there are one
or two papers that I’d rather become connected with than with the
_Phonograph_. That seem just a little more respectable and high-toned,
don’t you know.”

“Oh, yes, I know,” laughed Van Cleef, “and my feelings are not in the
slightest ruffled by your prejudice, which is quite a popular one. I
attribute it wholly to your ignorance, and know that you will outgrow
it before you have been many days a reporter.”

“And, by the way,” said Myles, as the other was about to leave the
room, “you must dine with me at the Oxygen to-night. It may be the last
time I am ever able to take anybody there, you know.”

“All right,” answered Van Cleef. “Good-bye till this evening.”

The sale, to a dealer in such things, of the furniture, pictures,
and costly but useless knick-knacks with which his room was crowded,
enabled Myles to pay his debts and left him about ten dollars with
which to make a start in the business world. It was after two o’clock
when he completed his arrangements for leaving college. He was strongly
tempted to go to the river and take a look at the crew in their
practice spin; but “business before pleasure,” the motto that he had
already used once that day, flashed into his mind, and he resolutely
turned his face toward downtown and the newspaper offices.

Arrived at the office of the paper which, for some unexplainable
reason, he considered the most respectable of all, he naturally turned
into the counting-room that was located on the ground floor and
inquired for the city editor.

“Editorial rooms up-stairs,” was the curt answer of a busy clerk, who
did not even look up from the work upon which he was engaged.

When an elevator had lifted Myles to the very top of the tall
building, he found himself in a small, bare room provided with two or
three chairs, and a bench upon which two small boys were playing at
jackstones. One of them, leaving his game and stepping smartly up to
Myles, asked what he wanted there.

“I want to see the city editor,” was the answer.

“What’s your business with him?” asked the boy.

“None of your business what my business is, you impudent young rascal,”
answered Myles, angrily. “Go at once and tell the city editor that I
wish to see him.”

“And who are you, anyway?” demanded the boy, assuming an aggressive
attitude, with arms akimbo and head cocked to one side. The other boy,
whose interest was now aroused, came and stood beside his companion in
a similar attitude, and they both gazed defiantly at the young man.

The situation was becoming ridiculous, and, to relieve himself from it
as quickly as possible, Myles produced his card-case, thrust a card
into the hand of the first boy, and said, in a tone of suppressed rage:

“Take that to the city editor this instant, you imp, and say that the
gentleman wishes to see him on business, or I’ll throw you out of that
window.”

Somewhat frightened by Myles’ tone the boy left the room muttering:

“A fine gentleman he is, ain’t he! A-threatening of a chap not half his
size.”

In less than a minute he returned with a renewed stock of impudence.
Offering the card back to Myles he said:

“The city editor says that he don’t know you, and you’ll have to send
word what your business is with him.”

It was too humiliating. Myles could not confide to the grinning figures
before him that he was seeking a reporter’s position, and so, muttering
some unintelligible words, he turned to leave. He had to wait several
minutes for the elevator, and while he did so he could not help
overhearing the jeering comments of the two young rascals upon himself.
One of them said:

“He’s out of a job, that feller is, and he came here to offer hisself
as boss editor.”

“Naw, he didn’t neither,” drawled the other. “He ain’t after no such
common posish as that. What he wants is your place or mine. But he’s
too young, and fresh, he is. He wouldn’t suit. No, sir-e-e.” And then
the two little wretches exploded with laughter at their own wit.

Myles walked about the City Hall Park for some time before he could
summon up sufficient courage for a second venture. When at last he
found his way to another editorial waiting-room it was only to be
informed that the city editor was out and would not be back until six
o’clock.

A third attempt resulted in his being ushered into the presence of
a brisk young man, apparently not much older than himself. This
self-important individual listened impatiently while Myles hesitatingly
made known his desires, and promptly answered:

“Very sorry, sir, but absolutely no vacancy in our staff. Five hundred
applicants ahead of you. No chance at all. Good-day.”

Thus dismissed Myles got out of the office somehow, though how he could
not have told. His mind was filled with mortification, disappointment,
and anger at everybody in general and himself in particular for being
so foolish as to imagine that it was an easy thing to obtain a position
as reporter on a great daily.

It was after the appointed hour before he was sufficiently calmed
down to visit the office of the _Phonograph_, and he found Van Cleef
anxiously awaiting him.

“Well,” he said, questioningly, after he had passed Myles through a
boy-guarded entrance into a large, brilliantly lighted room in which a
number of young men sat at a long desk busily writing. “How have you
got on?”

“Not at all,” answered Myles, “and I don’t believe I am ever likely to.”

“Nonsense! You mustn’t be so easily discouraged. Come and let me
introduce you to Mr. Haxall, our city editor. He is a far different
kind of a man from any of the others, I can tell you.”

Mr. Haxall was kindly polite, almost cordial in his manner, and
listened attentively to Myles’ brief explanation of his position and
hopes. When it was finished he, too, was beginning to say, “I am very
sorry, Mr. Manning, but we have already more men than we know what to
do with,” when Van Cleef said something to him in so low a tone that
Myles did not catch what it was.

“Is that so?” said Mr, Haxall, reflectively, and looking at Myles with
renewed interest. “It might be made very useful, that’s a fact. Well,
I’ll strain a point and try him.”

[Illustration: VAN CLEEF SAID SOMETHING TO THE CITY EDITOR IN A LOW
TONE. (_Page 30._)]

Then to Myles he said:

“Still, we are always on the lookout for bright, steady young fellows
who mean business. So if you want to come, and will report here at
sharp eleven o’clock to-morrow morning, I will take you on trial till
next Saturday and pay you at the rate of fifteen dollars per week.”



CHAPTER III.

THE OLD GENTLEMAN OF THE OXYGEN.


POOR Myles had met with so many rebuffs and disappointments, and his
own opinion of himself had been so decidedly lowered that afternoon,
that he was fully prepared to have his offer of service refused by the
city editor of the _Phonograph_. He was therefore not at all surprised
when Mr. Haxall began in his kindly but unmistakable way to tell him
that there was no vacancy. He had already made up his mind to give
up trying for a reporter’s position and make an effort in some other
direction, when, to his amazement, he found himself accepted and
ordered to report for duty the following day. It was incomprehensible.
What had Van Cleef said to influence the city editor so remarkably?

There was no chance to ask just then, for Mr. Haxall had already
resumed his reading of the evening papers, a great pile of which lay
on his desk, and Myles realized that the short interview, by which
the whole course of his life was to be affected, was at an end. So he
merely said: “Thank you, sir, I’ll be on hand,” and turned to follow
Van Cleef, who had already started toward the door.

The boy’s mind was in a conflicting whirl of thoughts, and he was
conscious of a decided sense of exaltation. He had actually got into
business and was to receive a salary. To be sure, it was only promised
for one week; but even in that short time he felt that he could prove
so useful that the city editor would wonder how he had ever got along
without him.

As they passed into the anteroom of the office Van Cleef introduced
his companion to a Mr. Brown, a stout, middle-aged man, who occupied
a dingy little den, in which he was busily writing by the light of a
single gas-jet. Mr. Brown was affably condescending, was pleased to
make Mr. Manning’s acquaintance, and hoped he would like the office.

As they bade him good-evening and started downstairs Myles asked:

“Who is this Mr. Brown, Van? Is he one of the editors?”

“Bless you, no,” laughed Van Cleef. “He is the janitor of the building.”

“The janitor!” exclaimed Myles, with a slight tone of contempt in his
voice. “Why, I thought he must be the managing editor at the very
least. What on earth did you want to introduce me to the janitor for?
I’m not in the habit of knowing such people.”

“Oh, you are not, aren’t you!” replied Van Cleef, a little scornfully.
“Well, the sooner you form the habit the better you will get along as
a reporter. It’s no use putting on airs, old man,” he continued, more
kindly. “A reporter has got to be on friendly terms with all sorts of
men, from presidents to janitors, and a good deal lower in the social
scale than that too. Besides, Brown is a mighty good fellow, as you
will find out when you come to know him. He also occupies a position in
which he can smooth your path or make you uncomfortable in many little
ways, as he takes a notion. Why, for one thing, he has charge of all
those rascals of office-boys, and they will treat you respectfully or
the reverse according as they see that you are in Brown’s good or bad
graces. That seems a little thing, but you will find that it makes a
great difference to your peace of mind. Oh, yes, you must cultivate
Brown by all means.”

When they were seated in the elevated train on their way up-town Myles
suddenly remembered his companion’s mysterious communication to the
city editor, and asked him what he had said to cause Mr. Haxall to
alter his decision so completely.

“It was evident,” he continued, “that he was about to give me a
polite dismissal, but you whispered a word or two in his ear and he
immediately engaged me. What was it? Did you tell him I was one of the
principal stockholders in the paper?”

Van Cleef burst into a fit of laughter so uncontrollable that it was a
full minute before he could answer. At last he said:

“No, indeed; I didn’t tell him that you were a stockholder in the
paper; for, in the first place, I didn’t know that you were. In the
second place, the stockholders are the bane of his existence, and worry
him more than anybody else by forcing worthless fellows, who have some
claim upon them, into his department. Oh, no, I wasn’t going to ruin
your chances by representing you in any such unfavorable light as
that.”

“What did you tell him then?”

“Why, I simply mentioned that you owned a dress-suit.”

For a moment Myles stared at his companion in speechless amazement.
Finally he gasped out:

“A dress-suit! You told him that I owned a dress-suit! What in the
name of common sense could that have to do with his taking me on as a
reporter? Or are you only joking?”

“Not a bit of it,” answered Van Cleef. “It honestly was the dress-suit,
and nothing else, unless it was your manner and personal appearance
that fixed the business for you. You see, there are lots of places to
which a city editor wishes to send a reporter where only fellows in
full evening dress are admitted. Now, most reporters are too poor to
own dress-suits, or else they have so little use for such luxuries that
they don’t care to go to the expense. Thus it is often hard for the
city editor to find a man for some important bit of work just on this
account. He therefore keeps a list of all the reporters on the staff
who own swallow-tails, and is mighty glad to add to it, especially if
the proposed addition is evidently a gentleman. I saw that he wasn’t
going to give you a show, and just then it occurred to me to suggest
the only special recommendation I could think of. But what makes you
look so downcast? It worked all right, didn’t it?”

“Oh, yes,” answered Myles, whose self-esteem had just received the
severest shock of the day by learning the secret of his recent success,
which he had fondly imagined was owing to something far different.
“Yes, it worked all right; but I’ve always heard that clothes did not
make the man, while here is proof positive that clothes can at least
make a reporter. It is awfully humiliating, and the worst of it is that
I haven’t a dress-suit.”

“Why, I have seen you wear it time and again?” exclaimed Van Cleef.

“Yes, but I found it necessary to raise a little ready money to-day,”
answered Myles, though he hated to make the admission; “so I sold it
along with some other things I thought I should never need again to
Johnny, the ‘old-clo’ man.’”

“You don’t mean it!” cried Van Cleef. “Well, that is bad, and the only
thing for you to do is to go to Johnny first thing in the morning and
make him let you have it back.”

“But I am afraid I haven’t money enough to redeem it,” said Myles, with
a heightened color. In the set to which he had so recently belonged
poverty was the thing most sneered at, and Myles had not yet learned
that it was one of the last things to be ashamed of.

“Oh, I can make that all right,” answered the other, cheerfully. “I
have a few dollars put away against next year’s term-bills, and you are
more than welcome to them. Yes, indeed, you must take them,” he added,
earnestly, as he saw the shadow of a refusal in his companion’s face.
“We must get hold of that dress-suit again if it is a possible thing.
It will really be doing me a favor besides; for while I have them
I’m always tempted to spend those dollars. If they are invested as a
loan, though, I can’t spend them, and I shall have the satisfaction of
knowing they are safe.”

Myles had tried, unsuccessfully, to borrow a small sum of money that
morning from several of his wealthy classmates. Now, to have this
generous offer made by one of the very poorest among them was so
overwhelming that he hardly knew what to say. He hated to accept money
from one who was so little able to spare it. He also feared to hurt
his friend’s feelings by refusing, and he realized the importance of
recovering that dress-suit. These thoughts flashed through his mind
in an instant, and then he did exactly the right thing, by heartily
thanking Van Cleef for his kind offer and accepting it.

The “Oxygen” was a club occupying a small but well appointed
club-house, supported by one of the college Greek-letter fraternities
of which Myles had recently been made a member. He was very proud
of belonging to this, his first club, but he foresaw that, with his
altered circumstances, it was a luxury that he could no longer afford.
He had therefore made up his mind to hand in his resignation that very
evening.

After a particularly nice little dinner, for Myles, like many another,
was inclined to be very generous in the expenditure of his last dollar,
and after he had written a line to his mother, the friends sat in the
reading-room. Here they talked in low tones of their future plans and
of their college life, which, to Myles, already seemed to belong to
the dim past. The only other occupant of the room was a small, rather
insignificant looking old gentleman, who was carelessly glancing over
some papers at a table near them. Finally Van Cleef asked to be excused
for a short time, as he had an errand that would take him a few blocks
from there, and which must be done that evening.

He had hardly left when the old gentleman looked up from his papers and
said to Myles:

“I beg your pardon, but are you not Mr. Manning, captain of the X——
College ’Varsity crew?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Myles, “I am—that is, I was—I mean my name is
Manning, and I was until this morning captain of the crew; but I have
resigned.”

“Indeed! I am very sorry to hear it,” replied the old gentleman,
with an air of interest. “Would you mind telling me why you found it
necessary to do so? I am an old X—— College man myself, and take a
great interest in all its athletic sports, especially its boating. I
have been much pleased with the performance thus far of this year’s
crew under your captaincy, and regret seriously that you feel obliged
to give it up.”

Encouraged by the old gentleman’s friendly manner, and very grateful
for his sympathy and kindly interest in himself, Myles readily answered
his questions, and within a few minutes was surprised to find how
freely he was talking to this stranger. He could not have told how it
was brought about, but before their conversation ended he had confided
to the other all his trials, plans, and hopes, including the facts that
he was on the morrow to begin life as a reporter on the _Phonograph_,
and that he intended resigning from the Oxygen that evening.

When Myles realized that he was becoming almost too confidential, and
checked himself as he was about to relate the dress-suit incident, the
old gentleman said:

“I have been greatly interested in all this, and now, to show that I
appreciate the confidence you have reposed in me, I am going to ask a
favor of you.”

“Which I shall be only too happy to grant, sir, provided it lies within
my power,” answered Myles, who had taken a great fancy to the old
gentleman.

“It is that you will not resign from the Oxygen.”

“But I must, sir, much as I hate to.”

“Not necessarily,” replied the other. “You know that at the business
meetings of the club all members are allowed to vote by proxy if they
are unable to be personally present. Now I am nearly always compelled
to be absent from these meetings. In fact, I rarely find time to visit
the club at all; but, as one of its founders, I am most anxious for its
success, and desirous of still having a voice in the conduct of its
affairs. This I can only do by appointing a regular proxy, and if you
will kindly consent to act as such for me I will gladly pay your dues
to the club, and shall still consider myself under an obligation to
you.”

The temptation to accept this friendly proposal was so great that Myles
only protested feebly against it. His faint objections were quickly
overruled by the old gentleman, who had no sooner gained the other’s
consent to remain in the club and act as his proxy than he looked at
his watch and, exclaiming, “Bless me, it is later than I thought!” bade
Myles a cordial good-night and hurried away.

“What did you say his name was?” asked Van Cleef, after he had returned
and listened to Myles’ enthusiastic description of his new friend and
account of their interview.

“His name?” repeated Myles, hesitatingly, “why, I don’t believe he
mentioned it. I’ll go and ask the door-tender.”

But the door-tender had just been relieved and gone home, while the boy
who acted in his place of course knew nothing of who had come or gone
before he went on duty.

“Well, that is good,” laughed Van Cleef, when Myles returned and, with
a crestfallen air, announced that he could not discover the name of
the person for whom he had just consented to act as proxy. “The old
gentleman has shown himself to be a better reporter, or detective,
which is much the same thing, than you, Manning. He has gained a full
knowledge of you and your plans, while you have learned absolutely
nothing about him. He may be an impostor, for all you know.”

“Not much he isn’t,” answered Myles, somewhat indignantly; “I’d trust
his face for all that he claimed, and a good deal more beside. Anyhow
he is a _Psi Delt_, for he had the grip.”

“Oh, well,” said Van Cleef, good-naturedly, seeing that his companion
was a little provoked at being thought easily imposed upon, “I dare say
it’s all right, and you’ll hear from him in some way or other.”

As the friends thus talked they were walking rapidly toward the first
of the many police-stations that Van Cleef was obliged to visit every
night, for it wanted but a few minutes of ten o’clock.

The plain brick building situated in the middle of a block and used
as a police-station could be distinguished from the houses on either
side of it at a long distance up or down the street by the two
green lights on the edge of the sidewalk in front of it. Reaching
it, the reporters ran up a short flight of steps, and entered a big
square room, the silence of which was only broken by the ticking of
a telegraph instrument in one corner. The room was brightly lighted
and scrupulously clean. An officer in a sort of undress uniform, who
is known as a “door-man,” whose business it is to take care of the
station-house and of the cells beneath it, saluted Van Cleef as he
entered. Returning the salute, the reporter stepped up to a stout
railing that ran the whole length of the room at one side, and,
addressing another officer, who sat at a big desk writing in an immense
book, said:

“Good-evening, sergeant.”

“Good-evening, Mr. Van Cleef.”

“Any thing going on to-night?”

“Nothing more than ordinary.”

“You don’t mind my looking at the blotter?”

“Certainly not.”

“Hello! what’s this drowning case?” inquired Van Cleef, as he ran his
eye down a page of the big book, on which were recorded the arrests
or other important incidents reported by the officers of that station
during the day.

“That? Oh, that’s nothing particular. It happened a couple of hours
ago, and your head-quarters man has got all there is of it long before
this.”

Van Cleef asked no further questions, but, making a few notes of the
case, he bade the sergeant good-night, and he and Myles left the
station.

As they gained the street Van Cleef said:

“Head-quarters may or may not have got hold of that case, and it may
not amount to any thing anyway, but I think it’s worth looking up. So
if you don’t mind going a bit out of our way, we will see what we can
find out about it.”

“What do you mean by head-quarters?” asked Myles.

“Why, all the large papers keep a man at the Police Head-quarters on
Mulberry Street day and night, and he telegraphs all important police
news from there to them,” answered Van Cleef.

Away over to Tenth Avenue they went. There they hunted some time before
they found the right number. Then through a narrow, intensely dark
and vile-smelling alley, across a dirty court, and into a tall back
tenement swarming with human beings, up flight after flight of filthy
stairways they climbed to the very top of the house before they reached
the room of which they were in search. Van Cleef knocked at the closed
door, but, receiving no answer, he pushed it open and they entered.

A single flaring candle dimly lighted the scene. The room was so bare
that a rude bedstead, a ruder table, two chairs, and a rusty stove
constituted all its furniture. On the bed, still in its wet clothing,
lay the body of the drowned man. It was little more than a skeleton,
and the cheeks were white and hollow. Beside the bed, with her face
buried in her hands, knelt a woman moaning, while from a corner two
wretched children, huddled together on a pile of rags, stared at the
visitors with big, frightened eyes.

As Van Cleef touched the kneeling woman on the shoulder and spoke to
her, she ceased her moaning and lifted the most pitiful, haggard, and
altogether hopeless face Myles Manning thought he had ever seen.

“Go away!” she cried, “and leave me alone to die with him! O Jim,
my Jim! why couldn’t you take me with you? Why did you leave me,
Jim—Jim—my Jim, the best husband that ever a woman had?” Then she
again buried her face, and again began her heart-rending moaning.

It was a long time before Van Cleef, using infinite patience, tact, and
soothing words could learn her story. It was an old one of a husband
and father broken down in health, thrown out of employment, too proud
to seek public charity, and finally plunging into the river to escape
the piteous cries of his starving little ones. He had gone out that
evening to seek food, saying that he would either bring it or never
come back alive. He knew that if he were dead his family would stand a
better chance of being cared for than while he was living.

As Myles and Van Cleef left this place of sorrow and suffering, the
latter slipped a dollar into the woman’s hand and promised further aid
on the morrow. Myles, poor fellow, was so affected by what he saw
that he would have given her his sole bit of wealth—a five-dollar
bill,—but his companion restrained him.

They had to hurry through with the half-dozen police-stations and two
hospitals remaining on their route to make up for lost time.

Trinity bells were chiming a quarter to one o’clock as they reached
the _Phonograph_ office. The editorial rooms were ablaze with electric
lights. Reporters and messenger-boys were dashing in and out. Men in
their shirt-sleeves were writing or editing copy at the long desks. The
whole scene was the one of breathless haste and well ordered confusion
that always immediately precedes the going to press of a great daily.

Van Cleef made his report to the night city editor, and was ordered
to write out his story in full. While he was doing this, Myles sat
and watched him, wondering if he could possibly compose a readable
description of what they had just seen amid such surroundings. At last
Van Cleef finished, handed in his copy, and at half-past two o’clock
the two weary fellows turned into bed, Myles sharing his companion’s
humble lodgings for the night.



CHAPTER IV.

BEGINNING A NEW LIFE.


VAN CLEEF seemed to fall asleep at once, but the novel train of thought
whirling through Myles’ brain rendered it impossible for him to follow
this example immediately. As he lay, with wide-open eyes, recalling
the incidents of the day it seemed incredible that he had seen, and
learned, and gone through with what he had, all within the space of a
few hours. Could it be that he had left home prepared to give up his
college life only that morning? He must send them a long letter, for
they would be so anxious to hear every thing that had happened to him.
As he said this to himself his thoughts merged into dreams so gradually
that he had no knowledge of where the one ended and the other began.

“Wake up, old man, wake up! Here it is nine o’clock Tuesday morning and
the week’s work yet to be done.”

It was Van Cleef’s voice, and as Myles sprang to a sitting posture and
rubbed his eyes he saw his friend standing beside the bed fully dressed
and looking as bright as if sleep were something for which he had no
need.

“Yes,” he said, in answer to Myles’ inquiring glance, “I have been up
and out for an hour, and I’m sorry to say that I have bad news for you.”

Myles’ expression at once became anxious. Had the city editor sent word
that he had changed his mind and did not want him after all?

“You see,” continued Van Cleef, “I was worried about that dress-suit
business. So I just slipped out without waking you, and went up to old
Johnnie’s to get it; but I was too late. He sold it last evening; and
so—there we are!”

“Then I suppose there is no use of my going down to the _Phonograph_
office again,” said Myles, trying to speak with a cheerfulness that he
did not feel.

“No use!” exclaimed the other. “Why, of course there is. You are under
orders, you know, and must at least report for duty, whether you
are wanted or not. The only thing is that you will have to tell Mr.
Haxall.”

“Yes, I suppose I must,” answered Myles, soberly, as he began to dress,
“and then he will probably tell me that a dress-suit, and not Myles
Manning, was what he engaged, and that without it he has no use for its
late owner. I suppose I can stand it, though, as well as another, but
it will be a disappointment.”

“Of course it will if it comes,” replied Van Cleef, cheerfully; “but
I do not believe it will. At any rate there is no use making matters
worse by worrying in advance; so let’s brace up and go out for
breakfast. I’m as hungry as a boot-black. By the way, I spoke to my
landlady this morning and find that she has a vacant hall-bedroom that
you can have for three dollars a week if you want it. It’s small, but
it’s clean and airy, and this is a most respectable neighborhood. Above
all, it is cheap, which is the main thing with me, and also, I take it,
with you just at present.”

“Of course it is,” answered Myles, “and I shall be only too glad to be
in the same house with you. You are almost the only friend I own now;
at any rate, you are the most valuable one.”

As he spoke Myles found himself wondering if this valued friend could
be the same class “dig” with whom he had been barely on speaking terms
only the morning before.

At a small but tidy restaurant near by, they obtained an excellent
breakfast of coffee, rolls, and boiled eggs, for twenty-five cents
apiece. Van Cleef apologized for this unusual extravagance, saying that
he generally breakfasted on coffee and rolls alone for fifteen cents,
but that this was an occasion.

In the restaurant they found copies of the morning papers, and Myles,
paying no attention to those that he had been in the habit of reading,
eagerly seized the _Phonograph_. Yes, there it was; a half-column
account of the scene they had witnessed the night before in the Tenth
Avenue tenement-house. How interesting it was! How well expressed, and
what a pathetic picture it presented of that room and its occupants! As
Myles finished reading the story he turned to his companion with honest
admiration.

“You are a regular out-and-out genius, Van!” he exclaimed. “If I could
write a story like that and get it printed I’d be too proud to speak to
common folks, and I’d expect to have my salary raised to the top notch
at once.”

“Well, I fancy you’d have to take it out in expecting, then,” laughed
the other. “That may be a fair sort of a story, and I won’t say that it
isn’t, but at the same time I doubt if any one besides yourself gives
it a second thought. You wouldn’t if you’d been in the office a week or
two and studied the other fellows’ work. Why, the very brightest men
in the city are on the _Phonograph_, as you will soon discover. As for
a raise of salary—well, you will have to write many and many a story
better than this little screed of mine before that happy event takes
place.”

“Then mine will continue to be fifteen per week for the rest of my
natural life, or, rather, for as long as they will let me hang on down
there, I’m afraid,” sighed Myles.

“Not a bit of it, my dear fellow. A year from now you will be ’way up,
probably on space, and looking back with infinite pity upon yourself
as a salary man at fifteen dollars a week. There is just one bit of
advice, though, that, if you will let me, I should like ever so much
to give you as a starter. It is, never refuse an assignment. No matter
how hard or distasteful or insignificant the job promises to be, take
it without a word and go through with it to the best of your ability
without a murmur. Also, never hesitate to take hold of any piece of
work offered you for fear you may not be capable of performing it.
A reporter must be capable of any thing and must have the fullest
confidence in himself. If the city editor says some fine morning, ‘Mr.
Manning, the _Phonograph_ wishes to locate the North Pole; will you
be kind enough to go and discover it?’ you must answer, ‘Certainly,
sir,’ and set off at once. Such an undertaking might prove expensive;
but that is the city editor’s lookout, not yours. You are under orders
exactly as though you were in the army, and your responsibility ends
with obeying them to the letter. Now I must be off to recitation and
you must be getting downtown. So good-bye, and good-luck to you. I
shall probably see you again at the office this evening.”

All the way downtown the wheels of the elevated train seemed to rattle
out, “Under orders, under orders,” and Myles could think of nothing
else.

“How many people are ‘under orders!’” he said to himself as he
reflected that most of the best work of the world was accomplished
by those who obeyed orders. Thus thinking he finally decided that he
was proud of being “under orders,” and that if he could make a name in
no other way he would at least gain a reputation for strict obedience
to them. In reaching this conclusion he took a most important forward
step, for in learning to obey orders one also learns how to give them.

Myles reached the office a few minutes before eleven o’clock, and,
walking boldly past the boys who guarded its entrance, bowing to, and
receiving a pleasant “good-morning” from, Mr. Brown as he did so, he
entered the city-room, as that portion of the editorial offices devoted
to the use of reporters and news editors is called.

The great room was as clean, neat, and fresh as the office-boys, who
had been at work upon it for the past hour, could make it. Every desk
and chair was in its place, and not a scrap of paper littered the newly
swept floor. In the corner farthest from the entrance, beside a large
open window that overlooked the busy scene of Park Row, City Hall
Park, and Broadway beyond it, sat the city editor before a handsome
flat-topped desk. Other single desks occupied favorable positions
beside other windows, but their chairs were vacant at this early hour.
Down the middle of the floor ran two parallel rows of double desks,
each containing a locked drawer and each supplied with pens, ink,
writing-and blotting-paper. These were for the reporters. At one side
was a long reading-shelf, beneath which hung files of all the city
papers. At the back of the room was a row of lockers like those in a
gymnasium, in which were, kept overcoats, hats, umbrellas, and other
such articles belonging to the occupants of the office.

A dozen or more bright-looking, well-dressed young men sat or stood
about the room chatting, reading the morning papers, or holding short
consultations with the city editor. While talking with them he hardly
looked up from the paper that he was glancing over with practised
eyes, and occasionally clipping a paragraph from with a pair of long,
slim shears. He took these papers from a pile lying on his desk
that contained a copy of every morning daily published in New York,
Brooklyn, or Jersey City. The little slips that he cut from them were
laid by themselves at one end of his desk.

It was a pleasant room. Its very air was inspiring, and Myles wished
he were sure of being permanently established as one of its occupants.
But the thought of the confession he had to make, and of its probable
results, weighed heavily on his mind. He was impatient to have it over
with and to know the worst at once.

Walking straight up to the city editor’s desk he said:

“Good-morning, Mr. Haxall. I——”

“Ah, good-morning, Mr. Manning. Glad to see you so promptly on hand. If
you will find a seat I’ll have time to talk with you in a few minutes.”

So Myles found a seat on a window-sill and amused himself by watching
what was going on around him. He noticed that as each reporter entered
the room he walked directly to a slate, that hung on the wall near the
door, and read carefully a list of names written on it. He afterward
found that this was a list of those for whom mail matter had come
addressed to the office. Having received his letters from Mr. Brown,
and taken one or more copies of the morning _Phonograph_ from a pile on
the janitor’s desk, each reporter occupied himself as he chose until
summoned by Mr. Haxall and given an assignment.

Upon accepting this, his name and the nature of the duty he was about
to undertake were entered on the page, for that day, of a large
blank-book known as the “assignment book.” Myles also noticed that
nearly every assignment was given in the form of one of the slips
clipped from other papers by the city editor. The reporter generally
walked slowly away, reading this slip, and studying the problem thus
presented to him, as he went. When, some days afterward, Myles had a
look at this famous assignment book he found that each of its pages
was dated, and that in it clippings, referring to future events, were
entered under their respective dates.

The young reporter sat so near the city editor’s desk that he could
catch fragments of the conversation between Mr. Haxall and those
whom he was dispatching to all parts of the city, its suburbs, and
apparently to remote corners of the country as well He overheard one
young man ordered to take a journey that would certainly occupy days
and possibly weeks. Myles watched this reporter with curious eyes as,
after taking a small hand-bag from his locker, he left the office as
carelessly as though his journey was only to be across the Brooklyn
Bridge instead of into a wilderness a thousand miles away, as it really
was.

Myles envied this reporter, as he also did another who was sent out to
the very New Jersey village in which his own home was located. How he
did wish he might have that assignment.

At length when the others had been sent away on their respective
errands Mr. Haxall called his name, and he stepped forward with a
quickly-beating heart to receive his first assignment.

“I only wanted to know your city address, Mr. Manning,” said the city
editor, looking up with a pleasant smile. “We find it necessary to know
where our reporters live, so that in an emergency they may be reached
out of office-hours.”

When Myles had given the required address he still remained standing
before the desk. Noticing this Mr. Haxall again looked up and said:

“Is there any thing else?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Myles, hesitating and becoming very red in the
face, like a school-boy before his master, “I wanted to say that I
haven’t any dress-suit.”

“Haven’t what?” asked the city editor, in amazement.

“A dress-suit.”

“Haven’t a dress-suit?” repeated Mr. Haxall, with a perplexed air, and
regarding Myles as though he feared for his mental condition. “Well,
what of it?”

“Why, I thought the reason you engaged me was because I owned a
dress-suit. Mr. Van Cleef told me so.”

“Oh,” laughed the city editor, tilting back in his chair for the fuller
enjoyment of his merriment. “That’s a good one! And now it seems that
you don’t own a dress-suit, after all. Well, I am sorry; but never
mind, we will try to get along without it, and I will find something
for you to do directly that won’t require one.”

So the confession was made and Myles had not lost his place, after all.
He resumed his seat with a light heart and for another hour patiently
awaited orders. In the meantime several men came in, wrote out their
reports, handed them to the city editor, and were sent off again. Mr.
Haxall filed most of these reports on a hook without even glancing over
them.

At the end of an hour, when the office was completely deserted by all
except the city editor and himself, Myles was again called by name.

“Now,” thought he, “I am surely to get an assignment.”

And so he did, though it was by no means such an one as he expected.
Handing him a ten-cent piece, the city editor said:

“I find that I can’t take time to go out for lunch to-day, Mr. Manning,
and as the office-boys seem to be absent, will you kindly run out to
the nearest restaurant and get me a couple of sandwiches?”

It was disappointing and mortifying to be sent on such an errand, and
for an instant Myles’ pride rebelled against it. Then the words “under
orders,” together with Van Cleef’s advice, flashed into his mind, and
with a cheerful “Certainly, sir,” he started off.

When he returned and laid the sandwiches, neatly done up in thin white
paper, on Mr. Haxall’s desk, that gentleman said:

“I wish you would just step over to Brooklyn, Mr. Manning, and report
to Billings at Police Head-quarters. He has charge of the horse-car
strike over there, and telegraphs that he can use another man to
advantage.”

“Is he a police captain, sir?” asked Myles, not knowing who Billings
might be.

“A police captain? Of course not. What put that idea into your head?”
replied Mr. Haxall, a little sharply. “Billings is one of our best
reporters, and, as I said, is in charge of this street-car strike.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” answered Myles, as he started off greatly
enlightened by this explanation.

He had no difficulty in finding Brooklyn, because he had been there
before; but he was obliged to inquire the way to Police Head-quarters.
A few years ago he would have had a long walk before reaching it, for
not one of the hundreds of horse-cars that usually throng the tracks on
Fulton Street was to be seen. Their absence made that part of the city
seem strangely silent and deserted; but fortunately the elevated trains
were running, and Myles soon reached his destination.

The street in front of Police Head-quarters was blocked by a
good-natured throng of strikers, through which Myles had some
difficulty in forcing his way. At the door he was met by a policeman,
who gruffly said: “No admittance, young man,” and immediately
afterward, when Myles had stated his business, “Certainly, walk right
in. You will find Mr. Billings in the inspector’s room.”

Now Myles had formed an impression of Billings, which was that he must
be a man much older than himself, and probably larger and stronger,
or else why should he be detailed for this especial work? He expected
to find him busily engaged in writing, or dispatching other reporters
hither and thither, and having the anxious, self-important air of one
who occupied a delicate and responsible position.

The real Billings as he there appeared, seated at a table in the
inspector’s room intent upon a game of dominos with the inspector
himself, was about as different from this impression as it is possible
to conceive. He was a slightly-built, delicate-looking young man,
apparently not any older than Myles, and with a beardless face. He
was exquisitely dressed, deliberate in his movements, and so languid
of speech that it seemed an effort for him to talk. Myles remembered
to have seen him in the _Phonograph_ office that morning and to have
wondered what business that dude had there.

However, this was undoubtedly the Billings to whom Mr. Haxall had
ordered him to report, and he accordingly did so.

“Yes,” said Billings, with a gentle drawl, as he looked up from
his game and regarded Myles with a pair of the most brilliant and
penetrating eyes the latter had ever seen. “Just had a dispatch about
you from Joe (Mr. Joseph Haxall). New man. Name of Manning. Break you
in. Well, Manning, there’s a strike. No horse-cars all day. Railroad
officials about to send car out on B—— Avenue line. Leaves stable in
fifteen minutes. Probably be some fun. You may go and ride on this car.
Have a good time. Take it all in, then come back here.”

Myles could have choked the little fellow who coolly sat there telling
him to do thus and so. For the second time that day he was strongly
tempted to rebel and to maintain his dignity. The idea of that “little
absurdity,” as he mentally styled Billings, issuing commands to him!
Then for the second time came the words “under orders.” Had he not
been ordered to obey Billings? To be sure he had, and with an “All
right” he left the building.

As he made his way toward the car-stables he wondered why Billings had
not undertaken that ride himself, as he seemed to have nothing else to
do except play dominos. The more he thought of it the more he became
convinced that it was because Billings was afraid.



CHAPTER V.

THE KIND OF A FELLOW BILLINGS WAS.


“YES, Billings must be afraid,” said Myles, to himself, “and I don’t
know but what I would be, too, if I were such a white-faced little chap
as he is.” Here Myles threw back his own broad shoulders, held his head
a trifle higher than usual, and rejoiced in the stalwart frame that had
been such an ornament in the X——“‘Varsity” boat. “I wonder what Mr.
Haxall meant,” he continued to himself, “by speaking of him as one of
the best reporters on the _Phonograph_. If he should see him at this
moment I rather think he would call him something else. How little a
city editor can really know of his men any way!”

While thus thinking Myles was threading the unfamiliar streets of a
city as strange to him as though it had been a hundred miles from New
York, in search of the car-stables of the B—— Avenue line.

It took him so long to find them that, when he finally did so, the car
on which he was ordered to ride had been gone some ten minutes. There
was nothing to do but overtake it if possible, and the young reporter
started down the track at the same pace he was accustomed to set for
his crew when they were out for a “sweater,” as they called their
training runs.

After running half-a-dozen blocks he began to meet signs of the strike.
Here was a broken and overturned market-wagon that had evidently been
placed across the track as a barricade, and there a place from which
some paving-stones had been torn up. Now he began to be joined by
others running in the same direction with himself, and to hear a noise
different from the ordinary sounds of the city. As he rounded a corner
this noise resolved itself into the shouts, cheers, and yells of an
angry mob, and above all rang out sharply an occasional pistol-shot.

The street was filled with hundreds of excited men and boys, whose
number was constantly increasing. They were all crowding toward some
object of common interest which, when he got close enough to make it
out, Myles saw was the very car in which he had been ordered to ride.
It was occupied by a dozen or so of policemen, and was slowly urging
its way forward with frequent halts, while another squad of policemen
cleared a passage for it through the crowd. Every now and then a
paving-stone crashed through a window or splintered the woodwork of
the car. A throng of reckless men surged alongside of it, trying in
every way they could think of to impede its progress. The company had
declared this car should go through. The strikers declared it should
not. They tried to lift it from the rails, to overturn it, to drag the
driver from his platform, to kill the horses, or in some other way to
stop that car.

By a steady use of their long, powerful night-clubs, the police who
guarded the car had thus far kept the mob at bay, and prevented them
from accomplishing their purpose.

[Illustration: A HOARSE VOICE SHOUTED THE OMINOUS WORD “SPOTTER.”
(_Page 69._)]

Through this angry throng Myles now began to make his way, for he had
been sent to ride with those policemen, and he was determined to do
so if it were a possible thing. At first he had comparatively little
trouble; but as he approached the thick of the crowd he was obliged
to push so roughly, and make such decided efforts to get ahead, as
to draw attention upon himself. At first he was only shoved, and his
way was purposely blocked. Then the looks of those about him began to
grow black and threatening. A hoarse voice shouted the ominous word,
“spotter.” The cry was taken up and repeated by a hundred throats. Then
Myles received a savage blow from behind. The crowd had recognized
that he was not of them, and blindly argued that he must therefore be
against them. The situation was a critical one, and Myles realized it.

He was now hemmed in so closely on all sides that to retreat would be
impossible even had he thought of such a thing, but he did not. His one
idea was still to get to the car, and under a shower of blows, that he
warded to the best of his ability, or bore unflinchingly, he struggled
forward. All of his strength, pluck, and skill, however, could not save
him, and within two minutes he was borne to the ground by the sheer
force of numbers, while some of his enemies fell on top of him.

At that moment there came a quick measured tramp of feet, a backward
movement of the mob, and the crash of tough locust clubs. The police
were charging to the rescue of the brave young fellow. He struggled to
his feet bruised, breathless, hatless, with clothing torn and covered
with dust, but with unbroken bones and undaunted spirit.

“Who are you? and what do you mean by making such a row?” demanded the
roundsman who led the charging party, as he laid his hand heavily on
Myles’ shoulder.

“A reporter from the _Phonograph_, who was ordered to ride on that car,
and means to if he can fight his way to it,” was the answer.

“I might have known it,” said the officer, with a resigned air. “You
reporters do beat the world for getting us cops into trouble. The idea
of a chap like you undertaking to fight that whole crowd! Nobody but a
crank or a reporter would think of such a thing. It’s a good thing to
carry out orders when you can, but it’s a better to use common-sense
and not attempt to undertake impossibilities.”

“I was only trying to find out whether it was an impossibility or not,”
laughed Myles.

While they thus talked the officer led his party of police back to the
car. It had stopped while its defenders charged the mob, and now it
again started ahead. Hardly had it got into motion when, with a wild
yell, the mob came charging back upon it, and with a tremendous crash
the car was lifted from the track and hurled upon its side. It was a
full minute before Myles succeeded in clearing himself from the wreck
and again scrambling to his feet. As he was rubbing the dirt from his
eyes, and thinking what a particularly lively occupation this business
of reporting was, he heard a familiar voice call out:

“I say, new man—I don’t remember your name—why don’t you come up
here? You can get an elegant view of the scrimmage.”

Myles could hardly believe it, but nevertheless it was really Billings,
as beautifully neat and clean as ever, perched up on the side of the
overturned car, calmly surveying the scene of tumult, and apparently
unconscious of the missiles and occasional pistol-shots that flew past
him.

Myles clambered up to a position beside his temporary chief, exclaiming
as he did so:

“How on earth do you happen to be here just now! and why do you choose
such an exposed place?”

“Oh, I just came down here with the inspector to see the fun, as
we heard the situation was becoming interesting. I chose this place
because I’m a reporter and I can see better what to report from up here
than I could down there in the crowd.”

“But you are in great danger of getting hit up here.”

“Oh, no, they wouldn’t hit me. See how scared they are if I only just
look at them.”

Billings had an open note-book in his hand, and Myles saw with
amazement that whenever he fixed his eyes upon any particular person or
group in the crowd, and pretended to be taking notes in his book, these
persons immediately turned their backs or slunk away.

“Well, that beats all!” he exclaimed. “What do you do and how do you do
it?”

“I don’t do any thing, only look at ’em. They think, though, that I
am drawing their pictures for one of the illustrated papers, and they
don’t want to be spotted by having their likenesses printed.”

A few minutes later the mob had been pretty thoroughly dispersed, and
Billings said:

“Well, this shindy is about finished, so let’s get back to
head-quarters and grind out a little copy.”

As they walked back together Myles’ opinion of Billings’ courage was
very different from what it had been a short time before, and he said
to himself:

“I believe the little chap is made up of pure grit after all.”

At the police-station Billings coolly took possession of the
inspector’s room and writing-table. He seated Myles at one end of this,
and, providing him with pen and paper, told him to write out the story
of his recent experience. At the same time he threw off his coat and
began to write his own report with such rapidity that Myles marvelled
at it.

By the time the latter had laboriously thought out and written four
sheets of copy, which contained all that he considered worth relating
of what he had seen, Billings had covered twenty or more sheets that
lay, strewn like autumn leaves, on the floor about his chair. As Myles’
pen ceased its scratching Billings looked up and asked:

“Got through?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

“Well, you have been short and sweet. I’ve just begun; but then I’m on
space, you know, and that makes all the difference. By the way, I wish
you would run up to Williamsburg and look around a bit. I understand
there’s to be a secret meeting of strikers held over there somewhere,
and we ought to know something about it.”

Myles started at once, only stopping on the way to buy himself a hat,
and, as it was late, to get a bit of something to eat at a miserable
restaurant, which was the only one he could find. Then for hours he
walked the streets of that part of Brooklyn known as Williamsburg,
knowing no more than the man in the moon where to look for the secret
meeting. He inquired of all the street-car men he could find, in every
saloon he saw, and of several policemen, but could get no information
concerning it. Finally, late at night, worn out and discouraged, he
concluded that no meeting had been held, and returned to the place
where he had left Billings, only to find that the young man had gone
back to New York some hours before.

It was after midnight when Myles reached the _Phonograph_ office and
reported to the night city editor, who sat at the desk used by Mr.
Haxall in the daytime, that he had been unsuccessful in his attempt to
discover the meeting. He was about to add that he did not believe any
had been held, when the busy night man interrupted him with:

“Oh, that’s all right. Billings got what there was of it and turned it
in an hour ago.”

After waiting in the bustling place a few minutes longer, a stranger
among strangers, Myles concluded that he was only in the way and had
better go home. When he reached the tiny room that was now the only
place he could call his own, he was physically and mentally exhausted
by the hardest day’s work he had ever done.

Myles was awakened the next morning by a knock at his door and Van
Cleef’s voice inquiring if he were not ready to go out for breakfast.

“Excuse me for waking you,” said Van Cleef, as Myles appeared, “but I
was so anxious to hear of your first day’s experience that I hated to
leave the house without seeing you. How did you get on? What did Mr.
Haxall say about the dress-suit? And what was your first assignment?”

“Oh, I got on after a fashion. He said it was all right, and my first
assignment was to go out and buy some sandwiches for his lunch.”

“Honestly?”

“Yes, honestly, that was the very first thing he gave me to do.”

“Well, you have begun with the rudiments of reporting. Was that all you
had to do?”

“Oh, no; I was sent over to Brooklyn to fight a mob.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just what I say. Look at my clothes, and this new hat that I had to
buy to replace the one lost in the fight, if you don’t believe me.”
Here Myles glanced ruefully at his coat and trousers, that still bore
tokens of their recent hard usage. Then buying a _Phonograph_ from a
newsboy, and pointing to the leading article on the first page, which
was a three-column story of the street-car strike, he said:

“There’s my job.”

“That!” exclaimed Van Cleef, incredulously, as he noted the heading and
length of the article. “Why, I thought Billings was doing that strike.”

“Oh, yes,” replied Myles, carelessly, “there was a little chap named
Billings over there who worked with me.”

“‘A little chap named Billings who worked with me.’ Ho, ho! ha, ha!”
shouted Van Cleef. “If that isn’t good! I only wish ‘Old Bills,’ as
the boys call him, could hear you say that. Really, though, how much
did you write of this?”

“Well, I really did write something; but I as really can’t find a word
of it in this article. I declare, though, if here isn’t an account of
that secret meeting in Williamsburg that I walked my feet off looking
for and couldn’t find. How do you suppose the paper got hold of it?”

“Why, I suppose some Associated-Press man stumbled across it and sent
it in. Then, of course, it was turned over to Billings, as he had
charge of all the strike matter, and he worked it into his story. But
where did you look for that meeting?”

“Everywhere.”

“Did you go to the police-stations and inquire of the sergeants, or to
the head-quarters of any of the trades-unions?”

“Why, no,” answered Myles, reflectively. “I never thought of those
places.”

“Oh, well,” said Van Cleef, consolingly, “you can’t learn it all in
a day; but you’ll soon get the hang of news-gathering. I am sorry,
though, that your screed didn’t get printed.”

“There is an account here of running that car over the line, giving the
names of the officers who were on board and of the driver, but it never
occurred to me to get those, nor is the rest of it at all as I wrote
it. It is a great deal better than mine was.”

“Probably Billings took your stuff and worked it over,” suggested the
other. “You see it all counts as space for him, and he thought, as you
are on salary, it wouldn’t make any difference to you.”

“What do you mean by ‘space’?” asked Myles. “I heard the word several
times yesterday, but didn’t understand it.”

“Why, most New York reporters are ‘space men’—that is, they do not
receive a regular sum of money every week, without regard to how much
or how little they have in the paper, but are paid so much per column
for what they get printed. The _Phonograph_ and one or two other
papers, for instance, pay eight dollars per column, while others pay
seven, six, and so on down to three dollars per column.”

“Do the space men generally make more than fifteen dollars a week?”

“Well I should say they did! Why, on the _Phonograph_ they will average
five dollars a day right along, and in good weeks some of them make
sixty, seventy, and even as high as a hundred dollars a week. There is
Billings, for instance. If this three-column story is all his, as it
probably is, there is twenty-four dollars for him for a single day’s
work.”

“It seems to me I should prefer to be on space,” said Myles.

“So would most fellows. There is not only more money in it, but it is
more exciting, and more like regular business. On the _Phonograph_,
though, all new men have to serve an apprenticeship at a small salary
for a long time before they are entitled to go on space.”

“How long?” asked Myles.

“It depends entirely on the fellow himself. Some have to wait years.
Others make their stories so interesting and prove such valuable
reporters that they can demand to be put on space within a few months.
Billings, I believe, was only three months on salary.”

“Who is this Billings, any way?”

“I don’t know exactly who he is. He comes from the West, somewhere;
Chicago, I believe; but he is one of the very best all-round reporters
in the city, as well as one of the coolest and pluckiest fellows in a
tight place I ever heard of. They tell the story of him that one day,
while he was working for a Chicago paper, he was sent out to report
an anarchist meeting. He was with the police when a lighted bomb was
thrown almost at his feet. Everybody scattered—police and all—but
Billings deliberately picked the thing up and plunged it into a barrel
of water close at hand that some masons were using in front of a new
building. Oh, he’s a cool one, and you can count on him every time.
He is one of the best chaps going, too, and always ready to help a
fellow-reporter who is out of luck. By the way, that little story of
mine about the suicide brought in twelve dollars, sent to the city
editor in small sums, for the benefit of the family. I took it to the
woman last night.”

“Well,” said Myles, “I never thought of a newspaper as a charitable
institution before.”

“You didn’t! Well, they are; and the _Phonograph_ distributes more
cash charity every year than any one of the regular societies for the
purpose in the city.”

Here the two separated, and Myles started downtown wondering what novel
experience this day might hold in store for him.



CHAPTER VI.

A REPORTER AT HOME.


WHEN Myles reached the office, on the second morning of his new life,
and entered the city-room, it struck him as so cool, clean, and quiet,
as contrasted with its glare, heat, and bustle of a few hours before,
when he left it tired out and discouraged, that he could hardly realize
it was the same place. Although he had not yet been given a desk or a
locker he felt very much at home, and ventured to say “Good-morning” to
several of the reporters who were already at their desks. Some of them
answered him pleasantly, while one or two simply stared at him, as much
as to say: “Who is this fellow, any way?”

More out of curiosity than any thing else Myles glanced at the mail
slate, and to his surprise found his name among those for whom letters
were waiting. Mr. Brown handed him two. The first was from his mother,
expressing surprise and disappointment at the line of business into
which he had gone, and begging him to come home and talk it over with
them before committing himself to it. Myles smiled as he finished this
letter, and thought: “Poor mother! she regards reporters about as I did
before I knew any thing of them; but perhaps I shall be able to make
her think differently.”

The other note was in a strange handwriting, and ran as follows:

  MY DEAR PROXY:

 If you will call some time to-day during business hours at room Q,
 Mills Building, and inquire for Mr. Leigh, he will give you a bit of
 news that you may consider worthy of publication in the _Phonograph_.

  YOUR FRIEND OF THE OXYGEN.

“Here’s a mystery,” thought Myles; “I wonder what it means. I guess
I’ll run down there if I have a chance; there may be something in it.”

Just then a pleasant-faced young man, who had been chatting with a
group of reporters, and whom Myles had noticed as one that everybody in
the office seemed glad of a chance to talk with, stepped up to him and
held out his hand, saying:

“You are the new reporter, I believe, and your name is Manning. Mine is
Rolfe, and I am glad to welcome to the office a fellow who can hold his
own in a street row as pluckily as you did yesterday.”

“I am much obliged,” said Myles, taking the other’s offered hand, “and
very glad indeed to make your acquaintance, Mr. Rolfe, for it does seem
rather lonely here when you don’t know anybody. But how did you hear
any thing about yesterday?”

“Why, there is a full account of your little scrimmage in one of the
Brooklyn papers of last evening, though of course your name isn’t
mentioned. You are only spoken of as a New York reporter; but Billings
told us who it was. Yesterday was your first day, was it not?”

“Yes,” replied Myles, “and when I saw that I didn’t have any thing in
the paper this morning I was afraid it would be my last. Isn’t every
reporter expected to have something in every number?”

“No, indeed,” laughed Rolfe. “If they did their number would have to
be reduced at least one half, or else the paper increased to double
its present size. Why, a large part of the matter written goes into
the waste-basket, which in old times, when the _Phonograph_ was only
a four-page paper, we used to call the ‘fifth page.’ There are several
editors employed in this office merely to throw away all the copy they
possibly can and to condense the rest to its most compact form. Don’t
you worry about not getting any thing in. It may be a week or more
before a word of what you write gets printed. I believe it was a month
before my first article got into type, and I was twice warned by Mr.
Haxall to brace up.”

“How is it with your articles now?” asked Myles, curiously.

“Oh, I’m doing fairly well, and get something into the paper every now
and then,” answered the other, carelessly. “I happened to make a lucky
hit with a story one day, and since then I’ve had nothing to complain
of. You’ll do the same if you only peg away at it, and then you will be
all right. You have already succeeded in getting yourself talked about,
and that is half the battle with all literary workers, even including
reporters.”

All this was very consoling to Myles. It gave him a happier feeling
than he had known since he learned of the family troubles that caused
him to leave college and take up this business of reporting. Of the
unassuming, pleasant-faced fellow who thus made friendly advances
toward him he soon discovered that he was the leading reporter on the
paper, and that there was rarely a number of it issued that did not
contain a column of interesting matter furnished by him.

At the conclusion of their little chat, Rolfe, who was evidently
pleased with Myles, introduced him to several of the other fellows,
and the young reporter felt that at last he was really started on his
career.

On this day he had an experience of the curious contrasts that make
up a reporter’s life. He was first sent to find out if it were true
that two sets of triplets had been born the night before in a great
east-side tenement-house. Then he attended a brilliant wedding in Grace
Church, and soon afterward a large funeral. All of these assignments
were given him by Mr. Haxall with many injunctions as to their
importance, and charges to obtain and write out every possible item
of interesting information concerning them. Myles worked faithfully
and prepared what he considered a remarkably full and good report of
each case. To the wedding and funeral he gave particular attention,
procuring a full list of the guests at one, the mourners at the other,
and an elaborate description of the floral displays at both.

For all this, in the next day’s paper the interesting triplets were not
mentioned, the wedding was disposed of in a paragraph, and the third
report was condensed to “The funeral of Mr. Blank took place yesterday
from the Church of the Apostles.”

So Myles remarked to Van Cleef: “I can’t see the use of putting a
fellow to all the trouble of getting these stories and then not
printing them. I could have written the three lines they did furnish
without leaving the office.”

Van Cleef answered: “That is the editor’s lookout, and not yours. So
long as they pay you for your trouble you have no right to complain.”

Myles did get one item into the paper, though, and it was printed in
full just as he wrote it, at which he was greatly pleased. During the
day he had found time to run down to the Mills Building and see the
Mr. Leigh mentioned in his note of that morning. This gentleman gave
him a bit of news regarding certain important railway changes that was
of the greatest interest to all Wall Street men, and the _Phonograph_
was the only paper in which it appeared the next morning. Thus it was
what is known to reporters as a “beat” on all the other papers, and
for obtaining it Myles received great credit. He afterward obtained a
number of just such “beats” from the same source, and gained quite a
reputation by them; but he was wise enough to say nothing of how he got
hold of them.

So the week passed quickly and busily, and at its end, though he had
got but one item of any account into the paper, Myles felt that he had
learned more than during any ten preceding weeks of his life, and he
was already a most enthusiastic reporter.

On Saturday morning he received from the cashier a little brown
envelope containing ten dollars, which, as it was the first money he
had ever earned, gave him a feeling of manly independence such as he
had never before felt. That evening he went home to spend Sunday, for,
as every _Phonograph_ reporter was entitled to have for his own one day
out of the week, Myles had chosen that as his “day off.”

The boy had felt manly and self-important the week before, when he went
home as a college student and captain of the “‘Varsity” crew; but he
felt doubly so now as a self-supporting man of business, even if he
was only a reporter.

His mother knew his step as he approached the house, and was waiting
for him at the open door.

“How could you, Myles!” she exclaimed, between kisses and hugs. “How
could you become a horrid, common reporter?”

“I couldn’t, mother. I mean to be a most uncommon reporter, and not
horrid in any sense of the word.”

“But what shall I tell people, when they find out that you have left
college and ask what business you have gone into?”

“Tell them the truth, mother, and I’ll back you up in it,” replied
Myles, laughing.

As he made his way to the big chair in which his father sat, the blind
man said:

“It is good to hear your voice again, my boy, and a great relief to
hear you speak so cheerfully of your new business. I was afraid you had
gone into it in a fit of desperation, and not from choice.”

“Well, to tell the truth, I did go into it in somewhat that way,
father, but now I mean to stay in it from a real liking for it, and
because I can already see that it may lead to many much better things.
But you are not ashamed to have me a reporter, as mother seems to be,
are you, sir?”

“Not a bit of it, my son; I am not ashamed to have you in any honest
business; only reporters always seemed to me an annoying and somewhat
mischievous set of fellows.”

Here Mrs. Manning broke in with:

“Oh, Myles, how can you say that I could ever be ashamed of any thing
you did? You know I couldn’t; but then some things are so different
from others.”

“So they are, mother,” replied Myles, soberly; “you never said a truer
thing in your life.” Then, turning again to his father, he added:
“That’s just it, sir. You never knew much about reporters, any more
than the rest of us did. I am beginning to learn something about them,
though, and to see them as they really are, and I shall try to open the
family eyes to look at them as I do. Oh, father, I forgot! I didn’t
mean to use those words. We really do mean to open your eyes, though,
some time, so that you will see reporters as well as all the other good
fellows who come in your way; see if we don’t. But where is Kate?”

“Getting your supper ready,” replied Mrs. Manning.

“Good for her! She appreciates the needs of a fellow who has been
mealing in restaurants and at lunch-counters for a week.”

Just then Kate Manning entered the room with a warm welcome for her
brother and the announcement that his supper waited.

“Well, it sha’n’t get tired waiting for me,” exclaimed Myles; “but,
Kate, what is your opinion of reporters?”

“I never knew much about any except one reporter,” was the smiling
reply; “but if they all turn out as well as he did I should think it
was the most splendid business a young man could go into.”

“Who was that?” asked Mrs. Manning and Myles together.

“Charles Dickens,” answered the Vassar girl, “who is said to have
collected most of the material he afterward used so wonderfully while
he was only a reporter.”

“Good for you, Kate!” shouted Myles. “I always said you were a brick;
but now I know that you are a gold brick, and solid right through.
Let’s go to supper.”

After supper Myles sat down to convince his family that reporters were
a generally misunderstood and unappreciated race, and that, having the
opportunity to become one, he would have been worse than foolish had he
thrown it away. He repeated all of Van Cleef’s arguments, and added to
them the small items of personal experience that he had already gained.
In short, he was so enthusiastic, and waxed so eloquent over his theme,
that he succeeded in completely reversing the opinions formerly held by
his parents. As for Kate, she needed no convincing, and long before he
finished she exclaimed:

“If I were not a girl I believe I would rather be a literary man than
any thing else in the world, except an artist, and I’d begin by being a
reporter too.”

Mrs. Manning was most pleased by what Myles told her about the
newspapers making of their reporters agents for the distribution of
charity to the people in distress whom they discovered and wrote about.

Mr. Manning said:

“Well, Myles, any business that can so arouse your enthusiasm must
possess merit, and I only hope you will stick to this one until you
win success from it. By the way, what is your present ambition? Is it
still to enter politics?”

“I think my present ambition is to get on space,” replied Myles,
laughing. “Then I should like to be a special or foreign correspondent.
If ever I get that far, then I will look ahead and see what comes next.”

The next day, as on the preceding Sunday, Myles accompanied his sister
Kate to church. Somehow or other his changed conditions of life had
become known throughout the little community, and many of those who had
gazed admiringly at Myles Manning, the captain of the “‘Varsity” crew,
the Sunday before, now looked at him with curiosity as a reporter.
The former they could understand, but the latter was something to be
wondered at as though it belonged to a strange and uncommon species of
being.

As brother and sister left the church several of their acquaintances
spoke to them, and one young woman said with a simper: “Oh, Mr.
Manning, now that you are a reporter I hope you aren’t going to write
us all up.”

Another asked: “Won’t you put a piece in your paper about my
sewing-class, Mr. Manning? It would do so much good!” While still
another, with a warning shake of her head: “Take care, Mr. Manning. We
all know what naughty people you newspaper men are.”

To all these idiotic speeches Myles smiled and tried to return polite
answers, but inwardly he fumed at their silliness. He was thankful
enough to reach home and escape from this petty persecution. He
afterward learned that all reporters are subject to the same sort of
annoyance when in company with weak-minded people.

There was one bit of home news at which Myles hardly knew whether to
be glad or sorry. It was that the house had been well rented for the
season, and that the family was to remove at once to the gardener’s
cottage. As he philosophically remarked, however: “If the rest could
bear it cheerfully he certainly ought to be able to.”

Kate said:

“Perhaps some time, Myles, I’ll find a way to earn money as well as
you, and then we’ll get the old house back again; won’t we, dear? I’m
giving every spare minute to my drawing, and by the time you get to
writing books perhaps I may be able to illustrate them.”

“So we will, my brick of gold!” answered Myles, drawing the girl to him
and kissing her. “But you are doing your full share now, and if you
become any more useful than you are, the first thing I know you will be
taking care of me as well as of the rest of the family.”

“No fear of that,” laughed Kate. “Your wife will have that to do, if
you ever get one. But you won’t ever, will you, dear?”

“Not if I know myself,” answered Myles.

The next morning he left for the city by the same early train that he
had taken a week before, but this time it was not to leave a college.
It was to re-enter a school of real life in which he was already an
eager and promising student.

In glancing over the morning paper while on his way to town Myles read
a description of the boat crews that were to race at New London the
following week, and were already in their quarters on the Thames. His
own name was not mentioned, but all the praise that should have been
his for selecting and training the X—— College crew was given to Ben
Watkins, the new captain.

This omission made Myles feel very sore and bitter against the hard
fate that compelled him to resign all the glory that had been so nearly
within his grasp. For a few minutes he rebelled fiercely against it.
Then, with a thought of the dear ones he had just left, his mood
changed, and he inwardly exclaimed: “No, I wouldn’t go back again if
I could. Those fellows will get their names into the papers for a few
days, but what will it all amount to in the end? Just nothing. I, on
the other hand, am helping make the papers themselves, and am on my way
to a position in which I can put names in or leave them out, as I think
best. No, I’d rather be a reporter than captain of the crew. I should
like to see that race, though. I wonder if Mr. Haxall would let me
report it if I asked him, and told him what I knew about it. I’ll ask
him, anyhow.”



CHAPTER VII.

“NO LOAFERS NOR REPORTERS ADMITTED.”


AS THE young reporter entered the _Phonograph_ office that Monday
morning he wondered whether or not his week of trial had been
satisfactory. Was he to retain his position, or was he to be politely
told that he was a failure, and that the paper had no need of him? The
anxiety aroused by the mere thought of such a thing weighed heavily
upon him, and he entered the city-room feeling like an accused person
when about to hear the verdict that shall either set him free or
consign him to a cell. Thus agitated, but setting his teeth and walking
bravely forward to meet his fate, Myles was stopped by hearing Mr.
Brown say:

“Oh, Mr. Manning, wait a moment, if you please. Here are the keys of a
vacant desk and of locker No. 20, that the city editor says you are to
have.”

The verdict was rendered, and it was in his favor. He need have no
more fears. The week of trial had proved satisfactory to his superior
officers, and they had decided that it was safe to place him “under
orders.”

[Illustration: “I DON’T SEE HOW WE CAN BREAK THROUGH THAT RULE, EVEN IN
YOUR CASE.” (_Page 96._)]

“Hurrah for the new reporter and future editor-in-chief of the
_Phonograph_!” he mentally shouted.

To all outward appearance, however, he was as calm as usual, and only
the heightened color of his face gave token of his excitement.

Taking the keys from Mr. Brown, and thanking him for them, Myles hung
his hat in locker No 20. His locker! Then he found the desk that was to
be his, unlocked its empty drawer, opened it, closed it again, and sat
down before it to indulge in a daydream of all the fine things he would
write at that desk; of the special articles he would prepare, and hide
away in that drawer until they should be finished and ready to win for
him a name.

These pleasant thoughts were interrupted, and Myles started as a hand
was laid on his shoulder, and Rolfe’s cordial voice said:

“Good-morning, Manning. Allow me to congratulate you upon getting a
desk. In this office the possession, of a desk is the sign that a man
is doing satisfactory work and is looked upon with favor. If, however,
at any time Mr. Brown should politely ask you for the key, you might
as well resign at once and look for another job, for you would get no
more assignments here. It would be the signal of dismissal. I am not
afraid for you, though, and I predict that you will hold the key to
your present position until you are ready to resign it of your own
accord. By the way, what are you going to make your special line of
work? Nearly every reporter, while of course always ready to accept
any assignment that is offered, has some specialty in which he excels.
Some take to politics, detective work, or court reporting, and some to
marine work, such as yacht-racing, wrecks, launches, and all things
connected with the sea. Others make a specialty of athletic sports, and
still others of society events. My own specialty, so far as I can find
out that I have one, is, I believe, humoristical. At least I have the
wholly undeserved credit of writing humorous stories.”

“I’m sure I can’t imagine what mine will be,” laughed Myles, who felt
particularly joyous just at that moment. “I don’t feel that I know much
about any thing, unless it is boats and boat-racing.”

Then he confided to Rolfe his desire to witness the great college
boat-race at New London, and asked his advice about applying for the
assignment.

“Certainly,” replied the other. “Apply for it by all means. Mr. Haxall
likes to find out in that way what the fellows are most interested in,
and makes a point of giving a reporter the style of work most congenial
to his tastes if he possibly can. His theory is that a fellow will do
much better if he is interested in his job than he would if it were
distasteful to him. Of course it does not happen one time out of ten
that a fellow gets the particular assignment that he would prefer;
but that is not Mr. Haxall’s fault, and he is always glad to have the
preference expressed.”

Thus encouraged, Myles stepped to the city editor’s desk, and,
interrupting for a moment the busy work of clipping memoranda from the
morning papers, made his request.

Mr. Haxall listened patiently to all that he had to say, and then
smilingly answered:

“I am very sorry, Mr. Manning, but that assignment has already been
given to Billings. I have, however, another piece of work for you that,
I believe, you will do just as well. It is of the utmost importance,
and will, I think, interest you greatly. I wish you would set out at
once and obtain every possible detail regarding this case.”

Thus saying the city editor handed Myles a paragraph that he had just
clipped from a morning paper, and instantly resumed his interrupted
work. Myles’ curiosity had been greatly aroused by these remarks, and
he imagined that some really important piece of work was about to be
confided to him. What was his disgust, then, upon reading the slip as
he slowly returned to his desk, to find that it was only a stabbing
affray among the Italians of the “Bend,” one of the filthiest slums of
the city!

“It is too bad!” he exclaimed to Rolfe, who was waiting to learn the
result of his interview. “The idea of giving me such a wretched job as
this, and trying to make me think it was such an important one too.”

“Oh no, it isn’t too bad,” laughed Rolfe. “It is only one of the little
jokes that Joe delights in, and he will chuckle over it to himself for
an hour. But, really, you know that job has to be done by somebody,
and he only gave it, impartially, to the first man who happened along,
which was you. It would have been just the same if I had gone to him
instead of you. He would have given it to me just as quick. Joe has his
failings, of course, like the rest of us, and sometimes I get awfully
provoked at him; but I must say that I consider him the most absolutely
just man I ever knew, and I believe his constant aim is to show perfect
impartiality in all his dealings with those under him. That is more
than can be said of most city editors.”

So Myles, somewhat comforted by these words, started for the “Bend,”
instead of for New London, and passed the greater part of the long hot
day amid such scenes of misery as only a great city can disclose. For
the next two days also, it seemed as though all the assignments of this
nature fell to him. At their end he was soul-sick of the disgusting
work he had been called upon to perform, and the desperate wretchedness
amid which he had lived. On the third morning, as he entered the office
in a dejected frame of mind, wondering what form of human suffering he
would have to encounter that day, Mr. Haxall called him and said:

“I believe, Mr. Manning, that you have had some practical experience in
college boat-racing.”

“A little, sir,” answered Myles, modestly.

“Well,” continued the city editor, “while Billings is a most admirable
descriptive writer, he is not as familiar as I could wish with the
details of timing a crew, noting their form, and so forth. I have
decided, therefore, to send you to New London to help him out. The race
will not take place until the day after to-morrow, but I think you had
better run up there to-day so as to be on hand. You will, of course,
report to Billings, and here is an order on the cashier for twenty-five
dollars for your expenses. If you need any more, Billings will furnish
it.”

Myles had so completely dismissed all thoughts of the boat-race from
his mind, that had Mr. Haxall offered him the position of managing
editor he could hardly have been more amazed than by this assignment.
He was, however, rapidly learning to conceal all signs of surprise upon
such occasions, and so, answering, “Very well, sir,” he took the order
on the cashier and left the office.

An hour later he was rolling out of the Grand Central station on
his way to New London, while the scenes amid which he had passed
the preceding two days were already fading beneath the influence of
pleasant anticipations.

Arrived at New London, he had no difficulty in finding Billings, who,
having secured for his own use the finest apartment in the best hotel
in the city, was now the centre of an interested group of reporters
gathered behind its closed doors.

“Hello, Manning!” cried the generally languid Billings, who now
appeared greatly excited. “Come in. You are just in time to take part
in our indignation meeting. What do you think the nice little boys of
the X—— College crew have gone and done?”

“I am sure I don’t know,” replied Myles, flushing at the tone in which
his recent mates were spoken of. “I don’t believe, though, that it is
any thing to be ashamed of.”

“Isn’t it, though!” cried several voices, while Billings said:

“It is something they ought to be ashamed of if they are not. Why, they
actually have had the cheek to put a big sign out in front of their
quarters bearing the legend, ‘No Loafers nor Reporters Admitted.’ What
do you think of that for impudence, when, if it wasn’t for the press,
as represented by us reporters, their little penny races would never be
heard of outside of their own little circle of friends? Now, there are
plenty of college graduates among us here. We know just how conceited
and ‘cocky’ these young fellows feel, and we can make allowances for
them, but this is going a little too far. What do you say to it,
Manning?”

With face as red as fire, but with a brave, honest look in his eyes,
Myles stood up and said:

“I expect I am responsible for this insult, gentlemen, and right here I
wish to apologize for it, both on my own account and in behalf of the
crew of which I was so recently the captain.”

Here there was a slight movement of surprise among the other reporters,
most of whom were strangers to Myles, and they regarded him curiously.

“Yes,” he continued, “I was captain of the X—— College crew, and I
suggested that, on coming here this year, we put up some such notice
as that of which Billings speaks. I did so in utter ignorance of what
sort of fellows the majority of reporters are, and because last year’s
crew was greatly bothered by one who made himself a perfect nuisance.
He hung about the quarters all the time, patronized the boys, undertook
to tell them that their style of rowing was entirely wrong, and tried
to have them change it to suit his ideas. Above all, his reports,
as published and widely copied, were so filled with absurdities and
falsehoods regarding the crew as made them a laughing-stock for the
community. I do not see him here this year, and I am glad of it, but,
for fear he would be, I suggested putting up that notice, because we
did not know how to exclude one reporter without making a rule that
should apply to all. I am sorry now that I ever made such a suggestion,
and still more so that my successor has seen fit to carry it out. If
you fellows will only have a little patience, and not send any thing to
your papers about this matter before my return, I will go out to the
quarters and see what influence I can use to have that notice removed.”

“Good enough!” exclaimed Billings. “You have spoken out like a
gentleman, Manning, and I think I can answer for every reporter here by
saying that we accept your very handsome apology for your share in this
unfortunate business. We will also give you the chance you ask for,
to exert your influence toward having the thing taken down, before we
begin to make it unpleasant for them in the papers; won’t we, fellows?”

“Of course we will,” was the almost unanimous reply.

There was, however, one fellow mean enough to slip unnoticed out of the
room and telegraph the whole affair to his paper, laying all the blame
upon poor Myles, whom he spoke of as having repented when it was too
late. For this act he was afterward kicked off the press-boat by the
other reporters, and so lost his chance of seeing the race.

In the meantime Myles and Billings hurried from the hotel, engaged a
horse and buggy, crossed the ferry to the Groton side of the river, and
drove rapidly up the pleasant country road along its eastern bank to
the X—— quarters.

As they drew up in front of the roomy farmhouse that Myles remembered
so well, he sprang out and found himself face to face with his old
rival, Ben Watkins. Ben, who was now captain of the crew, was walking
toward the front gate, above which was displayed the cause of all the
trouble.

“How are you, Ben?” said Myles, cordially, as he stepped toward the
gate with the intention of entering.

“Ah, Manning, that you?” answered the other in a constrained tone.
“Glad to see you—that is,” he added, hesitatingly, “if you come as a
friend.”

“As a friend?” questioned Myles in amazement, stopping outside the
gate, against which Watkins now leaned in such a manner as to prevent
its being opened. “What can you mean? How else could I come to the
quarters of the X—— College crew?”

“Oh, well,” replied Watkins, a little uneasily, “I heard you had gone
on to some paper, and I didn’t know but what you came as a reporter.”

“So I do come as a reporter, as well as a friend of X——,” replied
Myles, whose voice trembled a little, though he tried to speak calmly
and naturally. “I have been sent here to help report this race for the
_Phonograph_. But what difference does that make?”

“A great deal,” answered Watkins; “for I don’t see how we can break
through that rule”—here he pointed to the notice above their
heads—“even in your case.”

“Do you mean to say that, merely because he has become a reporter, you
refuse to admit to these grounds the man who was captain of this crew
only two weeks ago?” cried Myles, hotly.

“That’s about the size of it. If we exclude one reporter we must
exclude all. Those, I believe, were your own words. I’m sorry, but it
wouldn’t do, you know, to let friendship interfere with business.”

“If I acknowledge that I was a fool when I made that speech, if I tell
you that this miserable notice is one of the biggest mistakes you could
possibly make, and beg you, for the sake of the college and of the
crew, to take it down, won’t you do it?” asked Myles.

“No; I don’t think we will. Of course it is natural for you to think
that way now. Perhaps I would in your place; but, as I have not the
motive that you have to change my opinion of reporters, I rather think
we will let the notice remain where it is, and act up to it.”

“Then,” replied Myles, whose hot temper was rapidly escaping from his
control, “all I have to say is that, in putting up this notice, you
made a fool of yourself, and in keeping it up you not only disgrace
yourself but the college you represent.”

“And in reply to such a very friendly speech I would remark that when
a fellow, pretending to be a gentleman, relinquishes those pretensions
and becomes a reporter, he has descended to the level for which nature
intended him,” retorted Watkins.

“If it were not for breaking up the crew on the eve of a great race,
I’d make you apologize for those words, Ben Watkins!” cried Myles.

“You can’t do it, and you dare not try,” was the mocking answer.

Myles had so completely lost control of himself by this time, that he
would have answered this taunt by something much more forcible than
words, and undoubtedly Ben Watkins would have had cause to regret
arousing the wrath of the young athlete before whom the best men in the
X—— gymnasium had been unable to stand up; but just then a soft hand
was laid on the young reporter’s shoulder, and Billings’ languid voice
drawled out:

“Let the poor fellow go, Manning. He will hurt himself more than you
can hurt him in the long run.”

Myles allowed himself to be persuaded, and in another minute the two
reporters were driving rapidly back toward the city.

“It is too bad,” said Myles, presently, “that your chance of getting
a description of the crew, and how they live in training, and of the
boat, should be knocked in the head by that fellow’s stupidity.”

“Oh, I’ll get all that to-morrow,” was the careless reply.

“But they won’t admit you.”

“I guess they will, and tell me all I want to know, and show me every
thing I want to see. I shouldn’t wonder if they even invited me to go
out with them in their boat—and I’ll do it too.”

“Whatever can you mean?” asked Myles.

“Wait until to-morrow and I’ll show you the trick,” said Billings.



CHAPTER VIII.

“LORD STEEREM,” THE COXSWAIN.


BILLINGS charged his companion to say nothing of the scheme for playing
a trick upon Ben Watkins that his fertile brain was busily hatching,
and Myles promised that he would not. It was easy to keep this promise,
seeing that he had no idea what the scheme was, for the other did not
divulge his plans, and Myles was left to imagine what he pleased. He
was, of course, obliged to announce to all the other reporters his
failure to have the obnoxious notice removed, and they at once began to
prepare indignant dispatches to their respective papers concerning it.

In the meantime, leaving Myles in his room at the hotel writing a
detailed description of the X—— crew, their boat, style of rowing,
etc., which, of all the reporters, he alone was able to do, Billings
was flying about the city and displaying an amount of energy wonderful
to behold in one of his temperament. At the same time his movements
were veiled with such secrecy that no one for a moment suspected what
he was up to. He visited a milliner’s, where he procured a quantity of
broad black ribbon and a yard or two of blue silk. All this he took to,
and left with, a local artist, with whom he held a short consultation.

He next went to a certain wharf, at which lay a handsome,
saucy-looking, steam launch, just arrived from New York. As the
press-boat, in which it was intended that all the newspaper men should
follow the race, was notoriously slow, and it was certain she would not
get within half a mile of the finish, the _Phonograph_ had provided
this swift craft for the especial use of its own reporters. This had
been kept a secret, and no one, except Billings and the captain of the
launch, knew to whom she belonged or why she was there.

After a talk with this captain, that seemed to afford the latter much
amusement, Billings engaged a row-boat and was pulled off to one of the
many fine yachts lying in the harbor. While he was gone the captain of
the launch called his engineer and the two men who formed his crew,
and took them to a hat-store in the town.

Billings spent an hour on board the yacht. When he left he carried a
bundle of something, and his face expressed the liveliest satisfaction.
He took this bundle to his elegant apartment in the hotel, and then sat
down with Myles to prepare his dispatch. After writing steadily for
more than an hour with his usual marvellous rapidity, he read to his
companion an article on the X—— crew and its recent action, so bright
and witty, and placing them in such a ridiculous light, that at its
conclusion the latter was sore with laughter.

When the New York papers reached New London the next morning, which was
that of the day before the great race, the _Phonograph_ immediately
became so popular that its entire edition was quickly sold at more than
double the usual price. In it Billings’ humorous article on the X——
College men set everybody to laughing. Myles’ detailed description of
all the crew had done, and hoped to do, was proof to the public that
their exclusion of reporters had failed of its intended object. Besides
this, the _Phonograph_ contained another exclusive bit of news that
excited a lively interest. It was only a paragraph, and read as follows:

“It is reported that Lord Steerem, of England, the famous Oxford
coxswain, may be expected to reach New London to-day. His lordship,
who is about to cruise in American waters in his splendid steam
yacht _Happy Thought_, takes the liveliest interest in our ‘Varsity’
boat-racing. He has expressed such an ardent desire to witness the
event of to-morrow that he will probably come directly to this place
before touching at any other American port. Of course the college men
assembled here are full of curiosity to meet so able an authority on
all matters pertaining to boat-racing, and he will undoubtedly be
warmly welcomed at the head-quarters of the respective crews.”

The reporters of the other papers, in which this interesting item had
not appeared, besieged Myles and Billings for further information
regarding his lordship and his expected arrival. As neither of them had
any to give, their questioners gradually dispersed, each determined to
be the first to secure an interview with the distinguished foreigner.
Some of them went down the harbor in row-boats, and others haunted the
wharves, while some even drove down to the Pequot House, on the chance
that the English yacht might stop there before proceeding up the river.
They were all doomed to disappointment; for up to two o’clock nothing
had been seen of the _Happy Thought_.

It had been arranged that at this hour the press-boat, taking such
reporters as wished to go, should steam up the river for a last look
at the course and the quarters in which the crews were spending a
day of idleness and complete rest. At two o’clock, therefore, all
the reporters ceased for a time to watch for the English yacht, and
hastened aboard the press-boat, each being afraid to stay behind lest
the others might get hold of something he would be sorry to miss.

At Billings’ suggestion Myles went with the rest, but his fellow-worker
remained behind, claiming that he had important business to attend to.
He began to attend to it, with an activity that would have amazed his
companions had they been on hand to witness it, the moment he was left
alone.

While he was thus busy the press-boat, with its load of jolly
passengers, steamed slowly and heavily up the river. After half an
hour of laborious puffing and snorting, as it drew near the head of the
course and came within sight of the quarters, somebody on board called
out:

“Hello! Here’s a lively little fellow coming up behind us. It must be a
launch from one of the big yachts.”

All eyes were instantly directed toward the slender craft that, with
polished brass-work gleaming in the bright sunlight, and gay colors
flying at stem and stern, was overhauling them so rapidly that they
seemed to be anchored. The curiosity with which they watched its
approach was changed to incredulous amazement as it shot past them, and
they could decipher the private signal that fluttered above its bows.
It was a burgee of blue silk on which in letters of gold they read
the name _Happy Thought_. The same name appeared on the black bands
encircling the jaunty straw hats of its crew. Could Lord Steerem have
arrived? It must be so. Yes, there was the flag of the Royal Yacht
Squadron flying from the after jack-staff, and, in the glass-encased
pilot-house they caught a fleeting glimpse of a slight, dark-mustached
figure, clad in yachting uniform.

That must be Lord Steerem himself. But how could he have given them the
slip? How aggravating that he should have arrived just at this time.

“Hurry up, captain! Crowd on steam, engineer! Never mind your boiler.
We mustn’t lose sight of this fellow now. The whole country is anxious
to learn of his movements. Who is he? Why, a swell from over the water.
An English lord. An Oxford coxswain. The most important personage to
arrive in America for many a day!”

So the press-boat puffed and labored harder than ever, while the
excited reporters crowded forward in their anxiety not to lose sight of
the swift launch cleaving the waters ahead of them like an arrow. They
bore the bow of their boat deep into the water and lifted her stern
high in the air in their eagerness to secure the best places from which
to see, and the poor old craft almost came to a stand-still. Still they
yelled: “Faster—faster, captain! Pile on your steam, engineer!”

At last the dainty launch dashed up in front of the X—— College
boat-house. Her engine was stopped, reversed, and she lay motionless
beside the float. Then a slightly built figure in glittering uniform
stepped from her and sauntered toward a group of the crew who were
watching him curiously.

From them Ben Watkins, the captain, stepped forward, and to him the
stranger handed a card bearing a gorgeous crest and the inscription
“Lord Steerem, Brasscheek College, Oxford.”

Ben had read the morning _Phonograph_ and knew this distinguished
arrival was expected, but to have the honor of his first visit was
almost too good to be true. It was overwhelming, and he hardly knew how
to frame a proper speech of welcome.

“I am sure we are very glad to see you—that is, I mean you have done
us a great honor, Mr.—I mean your lordship. Will you step up and look
at our quarters?” he finally managed to say.

Ben Watkins was a splendid oarsman; nobody could deny that, but he was
nothing of a society man, and to have a real live lord on his hands was
almost too much for him.

“Aw, yes,” replied Lord Steerem, with a most affected drawl. “Don’t
care if I do. Queer old crib of a place, though.”

“Yes, it is pretty bad,” Ben hastened to answer, though until that
moment he had thought the X—— quarters about as comfortable as
they could be made. “We have hard work to put up with them, and shall
probably build a club-house of our own before next year. I suppose your
quarters on the English Thames are very fine, Mr.—I mean Lord Steerem?”

“Aw, yes. Each crew there has a castle to itself, you know. But, I
say,”—here his lordship carefully adjusted a single eye-glass, making
an awful face in his efforts to keep it from dropping off—“what a
beastly queer go that is, don’t you know!”

He had stopped and was staring at the notice over the front gate.

“You don’t mean to tell me that those cads from the noospapers actually
try to force their way in here?”

“Oh, yes, we are bothered to death with them,” replied Ben. “Don’t you
find the same trouble on the other side?”

“Aw, no. We keep a lot of bobbies on hand, and any noospaper fellah
would be arrested at once if he came anywhere near the quarters. It
would make the whole thing too beastly common, don’t you know, if we
should let ’em find out every thing about us before the race.”

Ben was somewhat staggered by this; but of course his lordship must
know what he was talking about, so he only said: “I wish we could do
the same over here,” at the same time knowing very well that he did not
wish any such thing.

Lord Steerem was shown all over the quarters; he inspected the
racing-shells in the boat-house, was introduced to the other fellows,
some of whom did not seem to think so much of the honor as did Ben
Watkins, and finally expressed a desire to see the crew take a short
spin on the river, that he might compare American with the English
style of rowing.

This request was of course granted, and when the shell was in the water
and the men had taken their places, Captain Watkins asked as a great
favor that the famous coxswain would go with them and steer.

“Aw, yes, with pleasure,” replied his lordship. “Am a little rusty, of
course, but I may be able to give you a pointer or two, don’t you know!”

The crew did not think that the imported coxswain steered as well as
their own, who had been left behind. He also found so much fault with
the boat, and criticised their manner of rowing so sharply, that the
spin was cut short, and within ten minutes they were back at the float.

All this time the press-boat had hovered near, and its passengers
had taken full notes of these proceedings for the long articles they
intended to write concerning them. It seemed to Myles Manning that
the noble coxswain was an awful duffer at the business of steering a
racing-shell. He wished Billings were there to enjoy the performance
with him; but he held his tongue and saw all that he could.

Lord Steerem noticed the curiosity that his appearance seemed to excite
on the press-boat, and he now asked who those “fellahs” were.

“Oh, they are only a lot of reporters,” answered Ben Watkins,
carelessly. In his heart he was glad enough to feel that the press
of the whole country was certain to be informed of the honors being
showered upon him and his crew by this visit of a foreign nobleman.

“Aw, by the way!” exclaimed his lordship, with a sudden effort of
memory, “where’s Manning? I heard before I left the other side that
your captain’s name was Manning, don’t you know!”

“Manning? Oh, he has left college, and gone on some paper or other
as a reporter,” answered Ben Watkins. “I shouldn’t wonder if he was
out there on that boat now,” he added, with the expectation that his
lordship would be so disgusted at this intelligence as to take no
further interest in Manning.

To his amazement Lord Steerem expressed great pleasure at learning that
the person for whom he had inquired was so near at hand. He even went
so far as to say that, from all he had heard on the other side, he
believed Manning to be the only man in this country who really knew how
to row. Then, declaring that their late captain was the person of all
others whom he particularly wished to meet, he bade his entertainers a
curt farewell, and, springing aboard his launch, ordered the captain to
run out to the press-boat.

As this craft was but a short distance from the X—— float, a few
turns of the screw sent the launch alongside of her, and its captain
inquired if a gentleman named Manning was on board.

When Myles was pointed out to him he presented Lord Steerem’s
compliments and asked if Mr. Manning would kindly come on board the
launch for a few minutes, as his lordship had something of importance
to communicate to him in private.

Greatly wondering at this, and not at all desiring to meet Lord
Steerem, but thinking that he might possibly obtain some facts of
interest for his paper by so doing, Myles complied with this request.

In the meanwhile the other reporters were gazing eagerly at the launch,
noting the trim appearance of her crew, and trying to get a good
look at Lord Steerem, who was partially concealed within the little
pilot-house.

The moment Myles stepped on board the dainty craft she was cast loose
from the press-boat, and as she began to move ahead at full speed her
colors were hauled down. A moment later an American yacht ensign was
run up on the after jack-staff, while from the one at the bow a broad
silken banner inscribed in large golden letters, _The Phonograph_, was
flung to the evening breeze. This name also appeared, as if by magic,
on the black ribbons that encircled the new straw hats of the crew.
At the same instant Lord Steerem stepped from the pilot-house, and,
snatching the dark mustache from his face, exclaimed in the well-known
voice of Billings, the _Phonograph_ reporter:

“Good-bye! Ta-ta! Must be off to the other side, don’t you know!”

An angry yell, a howl of derision, and finally a hearty cheer, burst
from the reporters on the press-boat as they realized the abominable
hoax of which they were the victims. On the float, from which Ben
Watkins and his men also witnessed and fully comprehended the whole
scene, a dead silence reigned. Their mortification was too great to
find a fitting expression just at that moment, and it was probably on
account of it that they lost the race the next day—for lose it they
did by a boat’s length.

As for Myles, his astonishment was only equalled by his admiration for
Billings’ genius and the admirable self-possession with which he acted
his part. He heartily congratulated his companion as they sped down
the placid river, followed by the clumsy press-boat and its shouting
passengers.

“Lord Steerem,” as he was called for many days, had no difficulty
in obtaining the forgiveness of his fellow-reporters, for they were
only too glad that one of their number had thus got even with the
ungentlemanly captain of the X—— College crew.



CHAPTER IX

AN ACT OF FOLLY AND A CRUEL DISPATCH.


THE ridicule that he had to endure on account of “Lord Steerem,”
combined with the mortification of losing the boat-race, was more than
Ben Watkins could endure. He was heard to declare at the beginning of
the long vacation that he should never return to X—— College again;
and as for boat-racing, he had had enough of it to last the rest of
his life. Then he disappeared, but where he went or what became of him
none of his recent companions either knew or cared. They had had quite
enough of Ben Watkins, with his mean disposition and overbearing ways,
and were quite willing to lose sight of him.

As the summer wore on Myles Manning steadily increased his list of
friends. His fellow-reporters on the _Phonograph_ liked him because
he was good-natured, obliging, and of a happy disposition. Those on
the other papers liked him because, while he was keen in pursuit of
news and would use every honest method to obtain a “beat” on them,
he never forgot that he was a gentleman or descended to dishonorable
means to accomplish his purpose. Mr. Haxall liked him because he did
not shirk his work nor show the slightest disinclination to accept any
assignment, no matter how unpleasant its nature.

When Van Cleef was given the enviable summer job of visiting the
principal watering-places and resorts of the country, for the purpose
of writing letters from them to the paper, Myles was assigned to his
night station-work. He particularly hated this, but he attended to it
as well and thoroughly as though he had chosen it, and only Mr. Haxall
suspected, from a chance remark, how distasteful it was to him.

He studied the best models of newspaper-writing carefully, and before
the summer was over developed an easy and pleasant style of his own.
He was becoming recognized on the paper as a valuable man, but his
salary still continued to be what it was at the first, and there was
no intimation that it would ever be raised. The boy tried to send five
dollars of it home every week, for family affairs were becoming worse
and more discouraging with each day, but he found it very hard to keep
up his neat personal appearance and also pay his weekly board-bills
with the small sum that remained.

It would seem from all this that our hero must be a paragon of virtue;
and, as some of those who have followed his fortunes thus far would
say, “Altogether too good to live.” If this were the case this story
might as well end right here, leaving the reader to imagine how Myles
rose from one position to another until he finally became proprietor
of the great paper on which he was now but one of the humblest
workers. That it does not thus end was because the young reporter was
possessed of two grave faults, either one of which, if unchecked, would
eventually lead him to disgrace and ruin. He was in danger of becoming
both a drunkard and a gambler.

Myles would have been terribly shocked if any one had said this to
him, and would have indignantly denied it. At the same time he could
not have denied that he was fond of all sorts of games of chance, nor
that he rarely refused an offered glass of wine. He had fallen into
the habit of drinking, now and then, while in college, because he was
too good-natured to refuse an offered “treat,” and too generous not
to “stand treat” in turn. Now, as a reporter, he found the temptation
to do these same things increased a hundred-fold. It seemed as
though almost every assignment on which he was sent led to accepting
or offering drinks of some kind of liquor. He began to think that
the gaining of interesting items of news depended largely upon his
willingness to “stand treat” for, or be “treated” by, those from whom
he sought it. Several times he had returned to the office flushed and
noisy with wine, and once or twice Mr. Haxall’s keen eye had detected
him in this condition. It was for this reason that the city editor had
decided to wait a little longer and test him a little further before
advancing his salary. He liked the young fellow and was watching him
anxiously. He even went so far as to warn him of the dangers and
temptations that beset a reporter’s path, though he did not make his
allusions personal.

Thus matters stood with Myles Manning when one day, toward the end of
September, Mr. Haxall called him to his desk and said,

“Mr. Manning, it now looks as though the most general and serious
railroad strike this country has ever seen were about to break out. If
it does it will be a very different thing from the horse-car strike
in which you received your first lessons at reporting. That was only
a local affair, while this will be of interest to the whole country.
Of course the _Phonograph_ wants the earliest news of it, and I am
sending out half a dozen of our best reporters to important railroad
points that seem likely to become centres from which the strikers will
operate. At these points we must have our steadiest and most reliable
men, of whom I count you as one. You will, therefore, start at once for
Mountain Junction, the terminus of the Central and Western Divisions
of the A. & B. Road. Send us full dispatches of all that happens,
and remain there until relieved or recalled. Here is an order on the
cashier for your expenses, and if you find yourself in need of more
money you can telegraph for it. Remember that the _Phonograph_ expects
to receive the news—and all the news—from its reporters, but that it
has no use for their individual opinions. Those are formed for it by
its editors.”

With the promptness that Mr. Haxall liked so well Myles answered,
“All right, sir. I think I understand,” left the office at once, and
the next train westward bound over the A. & B. Road carried him as a
passenger.

As Mr. Haxall turned again to his desk, after having started Myles on
this important and perhaps dangerous mission, he said to himself:

“I hope I have done right to trust him with this job. He is entitled to
at least one fair trial on big work and a chance for himself outside
the city. At any rate we can’t get badly beaten whatever happens, for
Rolfe, in Chicago, is certain to get hold of any thing important from
the Junction and send it in on chance.”

Mountain Junction was a railroad town in every sense of the word. Here
the main line of the A. & B. Road was met by an important branch,
and here were located its car-shops, locomotive-works, and general
repair-shops. It was in a coal and iron region, and several large mines
were in operation not far from it. Its entire population, therefore,
consisted of the families of railroad employés and miners. During the
daytime it was a scene of busy industry and the air was filled with the
crash of steam-hammers, the shriek of locomotive-whistles, and the
rattle of trains. At night the noise was hardly diminished, while the
sky was reddened by the glow from hundreds of furnaces, foundries, and
coke-ovens.

The place did not look attractive to Myles, as, late in the afternoon,
he surveyed what he could of it from the platform of the railway
station at which the New York train had just dropped him, and he hoped
he should not be kept there long.

He found a more comfortable hotel than he expected, and in it, after
thoroughly cleansing himself from the dust and cinders of his long
ride, he went down to supper. The seats at two long tables, extending
the whole length of the room, were filled with the bosses and heads of
departments of the many shops, mills, and foundries of the place. A
chair had been reserved for him at a small table placed by a window, at
which two persons were already busily eating. One of these uttered an
exclamation of surprise as Myles entered the room, and, looking at him,
the reporter saw his old rival, Ben Watkins.

“Well, of all things!” cried Ben. “What brings you here, Myles
Manning?”

“Business,” answered Myles. “But I suppose you are here for health and
pleasure.”

“Not much I ain’t,” growled Ben. “I am here to make my living. My uncle
is superintendent of the Western Division A. & B. Road, and I am his
valuable assistant.”

Although Myles had no love for Ben Watkins, especially as he recalled
the nature of their last interview, he did not wholly dislike him, and,
after all, it was pleasant to meet an acquaintance in a place where he
expected to find only strangers.

Ben introduced the other occupant of the table, a supercilious-looking,
pale-faced little man in uniform, as Lieutenant Easter. He belonged to
a company of country militia, sent to this point from a neighboring
town to be on hand in case of any serious emergency, and to his own
intense satisfaction found himself, owing to the enforced absence of
his captain, in command of the troops.

Ben Watkins ridiculed the precaution thus taken, and in answer to a
question from Myles declared that he did not believe there would be any
strike, in spite of all the talk. The lieutenant agreed with him, and,
caressing his silky little mustache, said, with an absurdly pompous
tone, that the mere presence of himself and his men was sufficient to
prevent any such thing.

After supper Ben, who had displayed an unusual friendliness toward
Myles ever since their meeting, asked him how he intended to spend the
evening.

“I must go out and find the telegraph office,” replied Myles, “and
make arrangements to have my dispatches sent through promptly. Then I
thought I would look about the town a little.”

“Oh, well,” said Ben, “that won’t take you long, and when you come back
you’d better drop into my room, No. 16. There isn’t any thing to do of
an evening in this beastly place, but a few of us generally manage to
put in the time somehow, and perhaps we can make it pleasant for you.
Come and see, at any rate.”

Myles promised he would, and after receiving directions how to reach
the telegraph office he went out.

A wickedly cruel expression swept over Ben Watkins’ face as he watched
his recent rival out of sight.

“I’ll fix you, my young man. See if I don’t! I haven’t forgotten ‘Lord
Steerem’ and the trick you played on me. If I don’t get even with you
this very night I will before long. Oh, yes, Ben Watkins doesn’t forget
in a hurry.”

Myles, on the other hand, as he walked down the street, was thinking.

“Ben doesn’t seem half a bad fellow, after all. He has decidedly
changed for the better since last June, and I shouldn’t wonder if he
proved a great help to me in this place.”

He found the telegraph operator to be a brisk, wide-awake young man,
who said he was ready to handle any amount of press matter, and who
also promised to send word to Myles if any thing important took place
during the night.

Leaving the office Myles started toward the railway station, which was
only a block farther on, to assure himself that every thing about it
was still quiet. As he reached its broad platform he noticed there a
child four or five years old, and wondered what such a little thing
could be doing all alone in such a place at that hour, for it was now
about eight o’clock. Stepping up to the child he asked:

“Well, little one, what is your name?”

“My name Bobby,” replied the child, gravely, lifting a roguish but
self-possessed little face to look at the tall young fellow bending
over him.

As the light from a reflector hung outside the station fell on it,
Myles thought he had never seen a sweeter or more winning face on a
child, and he at once became greatly interested in the little fellow.

“Well, Bobby, where do you live?” he asked.

“Over there.” And the child pointed vaguely into the darkness behind
them.

“But what are you doing out here so late, and all alone? Don’t you know
it is high time for all good little boys to be in bed?”

“I’s waiting for my papa.”

“Who is your papa?”

“Why, my papa is my papa,” answered the child, with an air of surprise
that any one should ask such a question.

“Well, where is your papa, then?” asked Myles, looking about with the
expectation of seeing a papa at no great distance.

“My papa is on the chu-chu cars.”

“The chu-chu cars?”

“Yes, over there.”

Here the child pointed to a freight train that had just hauled in on a
siding beyond the tracks of the main line. Then crying out, “I see my
papa,” the child jumped from the platform, and, before Myles could stop
him, was running across the tracks toward a twinkling lantern that was
approaching from the direction of the freight train.

All at once, with a cry of pain, the child fell directly across one of
the glistening lines of steel.

Myles sprang toward him. As he did so the eastbound night express
dashed, with a shriek and a roar, out from behind a round-house that
had, until that moment, concealed it, and rushed with fiery breath and
gleaming head-light toward where the child lay.

Myles’ heart ceased its beating, but he did not hesitate nor flinch,
though it seemed impossible that he could get there before the iron
monster. He did, though, with a second to spare, and snatched the child
as he ran. The little foot was caught in the angle of a switch and the
child uttered a sharp scream of pain as the strong young arms tore it
away, leaving a tiny shoe behind. Both rolled together in the cinders,
barely beyond reach of the cruel wheels that ground over the quivering
rails. With a long wild howl, as of baffled rage, the night express
swept on, leaving Myles and the child almost suffocated in its dust,
and breathless with the rush of wind that followed it.

As Myles staggered to his feet, and lifted the limp form of the child
whom he had saved at so imminent a risk of his own life, a man with a
lantern on his arm sprang forward, and snatching the child from him,
cried, in a tone of agony:

“It’s my boy! My only boy! My little Bob—and he’s killed! The last
one; and he had to be taken too! Oh, it’s too hard, too hard!”

While Myles was trying to soothe him, the child, who was more
frightened than hurt, put up a little hand, and, patting its father’s
face, said:

“Bobby was coming to you, papa, but he fell down and got hurted. His
foot hurts now.”

The father was Jacob Allen, one of the best-known men on the A. &
B. road. He had just come in, as he did every other night at the
same hour, in charge of a through freight train. At this point he
was relieved, and could spend every other night in his home near the
station. His wife and little Bob were in the habit of coming as far as
the platform to meet him. But this evening Mrs. Allen was detained at
home, and the child had slipped away alone unnoticed.

Great tears rolled down the man’s begrimed and weather-beaten cheeks
as he tried to thank Myles for what he had done, and to tell him how
dark and cheerless his home would be without its bit of golden-haired
sunlight.

Myles made light of his service and escaped from the other’s
overpowering gratitude as soon as possible, promising to call and see
the child, and find out how he was getting along, on the morrow. Before
he left the man had learned his name, and the last words he heard were:

“If ever the time comes when Jake Allen can lift a hand for you, or say
a word that will in any way serve you, Mr. Manning, you may count on
his doing it, so long as he has breath left in his body. And who knows
but the time may come sooner than you think!” he added significantly.

As Myles, hot, bruised, and covered with dust and cinders, re-entered
the hotel almost the first person he met was Ben Watkins, who exclaimed
in astonishment at his appearance. Myles told him in a few words what
had happened, and, pushing him into a chair, Ben said:

“Wait there a minute, old man, and I’ll fix you all right.”

He returned quickly, bringing a great tumbler of something that foamed
and sparkled and tinkled with cool bits of ice. Without asking or
caring what it was Myles thirstily drained the glass saying:

“That’s the very thing I wanted, and it was awfully good of you to
think of it, Ben.”

“Oh, that’s all right,” replied Watkins. “Come up to my room and have
another as soon as you get dusted off.”

Myles went to No. 16, where he found that Ben and Lieutenant Easter
were playing cards. There he drank another glass of the cool, pleasant
mixture that was “just the thing he wanted.” It made him feel so good
that he was easily persuaded to take a third. “It is as mild as milk,”
Ben said, “and wouldn’t upset a baby.”

Then he winked at his companion, who looked at Myles and winked back at
Ben.

Myles now began to talk loud and boastfully. Then he joined in a game
of cards and began to lose money and say that it was no matter, for
there was plenty more where that came from. All the while Ben Watkins,
with an evil smile on his face, kept urging him to take a sip of this
or a taste of that; and after a time, when his money was nearly gone
and he could no longer keep awake, they carried him to his own room and
put him to bed.

The breathless messenger who came at midnight from the telegraph office
to tell Myles that the great strike had begun failed to arouse him. The
young reporter knew nothing of the exciting scenes taking place in the
streets of the lawless town. Of all the important events, for news of
which his paper depended upon him, he sent no dispatch.

Somebody, however, did send a dispatch that night to the _Phonograph_,
and it was:

“Your reporter at Mountain Junction too drunk to send any news. Better
replace him with a sober man.”



CHAPTER X.

MYLES MAKES A STARTLING DISCOVERY.


THE cruel dispatch to the _Phonograph_, written for the express purpose
of ruining Myles Manning, was the last one to go eastward that night.
When the operator—much against his will, for he had taken a fancy to
Myles, but compelled by the rules of his office to do so—had sent it
flashing over the wires and received an “O. K.” in answer, his hand lay
listlessly on the key for a full minute. He was thinking what a mean,
contemptible thing had just been done, and was wondering if in any way
he could undo it or avert its consequences. Yes, he believed something
could be done! At any rate, he would try. The frank, pleasant face
of the young reporter rose up before him. A fellow with such a face
as that must be all right. He would at least take the responsibility
of telling the _Phonograph_ people that he was, and that that last
dispatch was false. The key began to click beneath his nimble fingers,
but its sound was faint and lifeless. The New York wire would not work.
Quickly changing the connections on his switch-board the operator tried
again, but with the same result. None of the eastern wires would work.
Within that minute of hesitation they had all been cut.

Then a rush of business came in that had to be sent west to Chicago.
The Associated Press agent got off a few hundred hurriedly written
words announcing the beginning of the great strike. Two or three
important private messages were put through, and then the western wires
also ceased to work. Mountain Junction was cut off from telegraphic
communication with the world.

Outside the office crowds of railroad men filled the streets. Some of
them were noisy, others quiet and determined. Some of them uttered
loud boasts and threats, others worked with the silent energy of those
who have decided upon their plans and mean to carry them through. All
trains arriving after midnight were side-tracked. Their locomotives
were run into the round-house, where their fires were drawn. Heavy
barricades were placed across the main line, the signal-lights were
extinguished, and all traffic was effectually stopped.

When, late the next morning, Myles Manning awoke, it was with an aching
head and a confused idea of where he was and what had happened to him.
The town seemed strangely silent as compared with its noise and bustle
of the day before. Could it be Sunday? No, Myles was certain that the
preceding day had been Tuesday. What time was it? He pulled out his
watch, and as he did so made the discovery that the roll of bills with
which he was to have paid his expenses had disappeared. For a moment
he thought he had been robbed. Then a dim memory of playing cards and
losing money the evening before struggled into his mind, and the cruel
nature of his situation began to dawn upon him. What had he done? What
had he left undone? In his despair the poor boy sat down on the edge of
his bed, and, burying his face in his hands, groaned aloud.

He was aroused by a knock, but before he could reply to it the door
opened and Ben Watkins walked in.

“Hello, Manning!” he exclaimed. “What’s the matter? Why aren’t you
out gathering in the items of interest that you reporters are always
hunting for? There are dead loads of them floating round this place at
present, I can tell you.”

“Oh, Ben,” groaned Myles, hoping for a bit of sympathy in his distress,
“my money is all gone except a dollar or two in change. I must have
lost it at cards in your room last night; but I can’t exactly remember.
What shall I do?”

“Do? Why, brace up! You’ll get it all back again next time. I got
pretty well cleaned out myself last night, but we’ll get even with that
fellow yet. He’s got to stay here until the strike is over, and we’ll
have no end of chances at him.”

“The strike!” echoed Myles, to whose thoughts the words gave a new
direction. “Has the strike begun?”

“Well, I should say it had, and is well under way by this time. Why, it
began at twelve o’clock last night. We had a big riot, but things are
quieting down now, and both sides are awaiting developments.”

“And I haven’t sent a word of it to the paper!” exclaimed Myles, aghast
at the thought of his neglected duty.

“Of course not. How could you, when all the telegraph wires were cut
the first thing?”

“Were they, really?” asked Myles, in a slightly relieved tone. “So that
I couldn’t have sent any thing, any way?”

“To be sure they were. Nobody was able to send off even a whisper. So
you may rest easy on that score.”

This news lightened poor Myles’ burden of anxiety somewhat, though it
did not lessen the force of his self-reproach. Perhaps this, his first
serious neglect of duty, would never be known in the office, after all.
At the same time Myles vowed that such a thing should never happen
again.

After bathing his face in cold water he started out with Ben to study
the situation. As they passed the hotel bar-room the latter suggested
that they step in and take a “bracer.”

“No, I thank you,” said Myles, resolutely. “No more ‘bracers’ for me.
After last night I am willing to pledge myself never to touch another
drop so long as I live.”

“Oh, pshaw!” replied Ben. “Last night was nothing.”

“Perhaps not, as you look at it, but if my last night’s condition and
its results were known in the _Phonograph_ office it would prove a very
important something to me. They have no use there for a fellow who lets
liquor get the best of him.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Ben. “Don’t try to make out that your own office
is any better than any other. All newspaper men get drunk every now and
then; everybody knows that.”

“Look here, Ben Watkins!” cried Myles, stopping short and turning upon
his companion, while an angry flush mounted to his face, “you may be
speaking from ignorance, and I hope you are. At any rate, I want you to
understand that what you have just said is not true. I know a good deal
more about newspaper men than you do. As a rule, they are gentlemen,
from editors-in-chief down to reporters, and no drunkard can ever lay
rightful claim to that title.”

“Oh, they can’t, can’t they?” remarked Ben, sneeringly. “Yet I suppose
you consider yourself a gentleman.”

“I try to be one,” answered Myles, hot with indignation at the other’s
significant tone and words.

“And hereafter I mean to associate only with those who are.”

So saying he turned and walked rapidly away, leaving Ben to stare after
him with such an expression of intense hatred on his face as startled
the passers-by who chanced to notice it.

Ben Watkins was a bad fellow. There was no doubt of that. Some people,
and Myles Manning among them, suspected it, but nobody knew how bad
he really was nor what evil he was capable of. As has already been
shown, he could cherish a spirit of petty revenge, and would descend
to any means to gratify it. In addition to this he was dishonest and
recklessly extravagant. Although he had occupied his present position
but a few months, he had managed to run into debt for one thing or
another to a good many people. Some of these debts he had been obliged
to pay, and, as his salary was not sufficient to meet them, he had
appropriated to his own use several small sums of railroad money with
which he had been intrusted, and altered the figures of his accounts to
conceal the thefts. He hoped to win enough at cards to make good these
sums before their loss should be discovered; but of late luck had been
against him, and he had only succeeded in plunging more deeply than
ever into debt. At the outbreak of the great strike his situation was
so desperate that he had almost made up his mind to disappear from that
part of the country and make a new start where he was unknown.

He dared not confide in or ask aid of his uncle, for the division
superintendent was a stern man, with no sympathy or pity for
evil-doers, especially those whose sin was that of dishonesty. He was
absent from Mountain Junction when the strike broke out, attending a
meeting of officers of the road, held in a distant city, and, as his
assistant, Ben Watkins was left in charge of the office.

On the day of his uncle’s departure, Ben had received, and receipted
for, an express package containing a thousand dollars of railroad
money, which he placed in the office safe to await the superintendent’s
return. As he put this package away he looked longingly at it and
wished it were for him. How nicely it would help him out of his
troubles! Still he dared not even open it, and with a reluctant sigh he
laid it down and closed the heavy safe door upon it.

He had thought of this package more than once since, then, and even
opened the safe several times to see if it were really there. Now,
as, after parting from Myles, he sat at his uncle’s desk in the inner
office, wondering if there was any way by which he could turn this
strike to his own advantage, something happened that suited him exactly.

As his uncle’s representative he was visited by a committee of four
from the strikers—a conductor, an engineer, a stoker, and a brakeman.
Of this committee conductor Jacob Allen was spokesman. He stated the
cause of the strike very clearly, and promised that the men should use
no violence so long as none was used against them. They were willing
to await quietly the action of the company, but there was one matter
that ought to be seen to at once lest it lead to trouble. Many of the
strikers in Mountain Junction occupied houses near the shops and works
belonging to the railroad. They were obliged to pass close by these
buildings in going to and from their houses. Several of them had been
ordered to keep at a greater distance by the soldiers guarding the
works. It would put them to great inconvenience to be obliged to take
other roads, and this committee hoped Mr. Watkins would issue orders
that they should pass unmolested, even close to the buildings, so long
as they did so quietly and peaceably.

The assistant division superintendent listened impatiently to all the
committee had to say, and then with an air intended to impress them
with the importance of his position, he answered,

“I have already issued orders that no striker is to be allowed within a
hundred feet of any works or shop belonging to this company and under
my charge. If you do not want to be inconvenienced come in and report
for duty. Until you do so the order will be enforced.”

“I am afraid it will make trouble, Mr. Watkins,” said Allen.

“That is your affair and not mine,” was the reply. “You must take the
consequences of your own acts.”

Disgusted with the manner and words of the self-important young man
the committee withdrew, and the bitterness of feeling on both sides
was from that moment greatly increased. As a result of Ben’s refusal
to grant this modest and reasonable request several slight encounters
took place between the soldiers and strikers during the day, and by
nightfall a sense of uneasiness and fears of more serious trouble
overspread the whole town.

[Illustration: AS HE WAS STOOPING TO SET FIRE TO THE READY FUEL, THE
SOUND OF HIS OWN NAME CAUSED HIM TO DROP THE MATCH. (_Page 151._)]

Ben Watkins watched all this with great satisfaction. It was exactly
what he had hoped for, and he neglected no opportunity of making
matters worse by word or action.

It was after ten o’clock that night when he stood before the safe in
his uncle’s private office, prepared to commit an act at once bold and
wicked. He had entered the building as stealthily as a burglar, taking
many precautions to avoid being seen. Now, with trembling hands, he
unlocked the great safe, and, securing the coveted express package,
thrust it into a breast-pocket of his coat. He next pulled the books
and papers from the safe and scattered them about the floor. Then,
pouring the contents of a can of kerosene over a pile of newspapers and
other inflammable matter in one corner of the room, he struck a match.
As he was stooping to set fire to the ready fuel the sound of his own
name, uttered in a loud voice from the door-way, caused him to drop the
match and spring to his feet, trembling with the terror of detected
guilt. He had been working by the dim light of a single lamp, and was
so intent upon what he was about that he had not heard a step on the
stair-way nor the door of the outer office open. Now, as he turned a
face bloodless with fear in the direction of the voice and saw Myles
Manning standing in the door-way, he uttered an inarticulate cry of
rage and sprang toward him.

Myles had been busily collecting news of the strike all that day and
writing a report of it, in the hope that he might find some chance
to get it through. He visited the telegraph office several times to
inquire if the wires were not yet repaired, but each time his friend,
the operator, who remained faithfully at his post, shook his head in
the negative. The operator was anxious to befriend one to whom he
had taken a liking, and who, as he knew, had suffered a great wrong,
regarding which his duty obliged him to remain silent; but during
the day he could discover no way of helping him. At last, late in
the evening, when Myles had given up all hopes of getting a dispatch
through and was about to retire, the operator called for him at the
hotel.

He said he had just learned, as a secret, from a friend among the
strikers, that the wires were cut between the town and the first
station on the railroad to the east. The strikers were in possession of
that office, and from it were sending dispatches to other points along
the line. He had told this friend, who possessed great influence over
his fellows, that there was a reporter in town who was most anxious
to communicate with his paper, and asked permission for him to do so
from this little station. At first it was refused. Then the striker
asked the reporter’s name. On being told that it was Manning, and that
he was from the _Phonograph_, he said that made all the difference in
the world. They would willingly allow a _Phonograph_ reporter the use
of the wire whenever he wanted it; for that paper had always given the
strikers a fair showing in its columns. He only made the conditions
that no other reporter should be allowed the use of the wire, and
that nothing should be forwarded over it except the message to the
_Phonograph_.

This the operator had promised, also agreeing to go with the reporter
and send the message through himself.

Myles was of course most eager to avail himself of this privilege,
and, heartily thanking the operator, was about to order a carriage in
which they might drive to the little station. His friend, however,
said that the wagon-roads of that mountainous region were so rough and
roundabout that to drive there would take several hours, while if they
only had a hand-car they might reach the place in less than an hour, as
the railroad was down grade nearly all the way. But all the hand-cars
were locked up in one of the shops, and nobody but the division
superintendent or the person acting in his place could authorize one to
be taken out.

Myles would rather have asked a favor from almost anybody else just
then; but, as one “under orders,” it was clearly his duty to use
every effort to carry them out, and he at once began his search for
Ben Watkins. They went to his room and looked through the hotel in
vain. Then the operator suggested that Mr. Watkins might be in his
office, and said that if Myles would go there and see he would look
in one or two other likely places, and they would meet at the railway
station. So they separated, and Myles hurried in the direction of the
superintendent’s office.

Just before reaching it he met a man whom the light from an open window
showed him to be his acquaintance of the evening before, conductor
Jacob Allen. He apologized, with the plea of having been very busy, for
not calling to see how little Bob was doing, and asked Allen if he had
seen any thing of the assistant superintendent that evening.

“Yes, I saw him go into that building and up stairs to his office a
while ago, though he had no idea I was watching him,” was the answer.
“You know these are curious times, Mr. Manning, and some have to watch
while others have to be watched. By the way, would you mind stepping in
here where there is a light? I’d like to give you a bit of writing that
may come handy to you some time.”

Myles said he was in a great hurry just at that moment, but if Allen
could wait until he had spoken with Mr. Watkins he would be right back.

The conductor expressed his willingness to wait, and Myles, hurrying to
the railway building, sprang lightly up the stair-way leading to the
superintendent’s office. He opened the outer door, and, seeing a light
in the inner room, stepped toward it. Ben was in the act of emptying
the can of kerosene upon the pile of inflammable material, and Myles
hesitated a moment in amazement at the sight.

Then a match was struck, and the full meaning of what was about to be
done flashed, with its sputtering glare, across the mind of the young
reporter. He gave a cry of “Ben Watkins! what are you doing?” and
rushed towards him determined to prevent the crime which seemed about
to be committed. At the sound of his voice Watkins turned upon Myles in
a frenzy of fear and hate.



CHAPTER XI.

A FIGHT AND A MISTAKE.


MYLES MANNING hated to fight. He considered it a low and ungentlemanly
thing to do. Rather than maintain his rights by brute force he would
submit to a very considerable degree of wrong; and he did not believe
that either fighting or submission was necessary in the majority of
cases. It seemed to him that any man or boy having control of his own
temper could, by keeping cool and talking the matter over quietly,
control that of his enemy. Still there are cases in which it becomes
absolutely necessary to exert one’s strength, and one of them is when a
person is attacked by a madman. This was Myles’ position as Ben Watkins
sprang at him when detected in the act of setting fire to the railroad
building—an act that he thought would be laid to the strikers.

He had been in such a state of guilty terror for the preceding half
hour that his nerves were wholly unstrung. Thus, when his guilt was
discovered, and that by a person whom he had deeply wronged, and
therefore hated, he lost all control of himself, and, springing at
Myles like a madman, attacked him with all the fury of one.

For a moment the young reporter was staggered by the suddenness and
force of this unexpected attack, and only partially warded a stunning
blow aimed full at his face. Then he rallied, and, with the skill for
which he had been famous among the athletes in the X—— gymnasium,
coolly defended himself. Ben was the stronger of the two, but Myles was
much the more skilful and well trained in all manly exercises. He was
thus perfectly well able to protect himself from the other’s furious
blows. At length, seeming to realize this, Ben changed his tactics,
and, breaking through the reporter’s guard by a fierce rush, clinched
with and tried to throw him. Now Myles was indeed in danger, and every
muscle of his athletic young frame was strained to the utmost. As the
two swayed and tugged in their desperate struggle they staggered from
side to side of the office, overturning chairs and tables in their
course. The one lighted lamp went to the floor with a crash, and they
struggled in utter darkness.

Myles felt that he was becoming exhausted. The fierce hot breath of
his adversary seemed to poison him and take away his own. He began to
fear that his very life was in danger from the madman with whom he
wrestled. He must not yield. He could not. He had too much at stake. He
braced himself for one last tremendous effort. For a moment he did not
breathe. His teeth were set. The veins of his forehead swelled almost
to bursting. His muscles became rigid as whip-cords. His opponent gave
way slightly, and the next instant they both fell heavily to the floor,
but Myles was on top. He knelt on the form of his prostrate rival
and held his arms down with a fierce grasp, beneath which the other
lay utterly powerless and helpless. For a full minute no word passed
between them. Each was regaining his breath with panting gasps.

At length Myles said:

“Ben Watkins, we have been rivals for a long time; but this is our
first fight, and, I hope, our last. Although I would willingly have
avoided it I am glad it has come off. I hope you realize that you are
whipped. I hope you also realize that the chance which sent me here has
saved you from committing a State prison offence. I cannot imagine your
object in attempting to set fire to this building, for that is what you
most certainly were doing as I entered that door. It looks as though
you had some good reason for wishing to destroy the contents of that
safe, and thought you could do it in such a way that the blame would
be laid upon the strikers. I don’t know what those books and papers
are, but they must be of value to the company. It is evident that you
are not fit to be trusted with them. Now, if you choose to put them
all back where they belong, lock the safe, and give me the key to keep
until your uncle or some other officer of the road arrives, I will then
return it to you, and no one need ever know that it has been out of
your possession. As I have no wish to see an old classmate disgraced
I will also agree to say nothing of this night’s work so long as you
behave yourself. I want you to remember, though, that I can do so at
any time, and that you are thus to a certain extent in my power. Still
we are alone, there are no witnesses of what has happened, and I give
you my word that I will never open my lips upon the subject unless you
force me to. There is one thing more,” he added, suddenly remembering
the errand on which he had come: “I want you to order out a hand-car
for my immediate use, and let it be at the station inside of fifteen
minutes.”

Ben sullenly agreed to these terms and was released from his
humiliating position. Another lamp was lighted, the books and papers
were returned to the safe, it was locked, and the key was handed to
Myles. Then, leaving Ben to restore the office to order and to remove
as far as possible all traces of their recent struggle, Myles started
to keep his appointment with Jacob Allen, and to return to the hotel,
where he had left his report for the _Phonograph_.

Allen was waiting just where he left him, and apparently had not moved
from the spot or even changed his position during the reporter’s
absence. He held out a bit of folded letter-paper as Myles drew near,
saying:

“Here is a little note that I have just written for you, Mr. Manning.
It may be of use to you in case you should ever get into any
difficulty with the boys. Even if you never have to use it, it will
serve to remind you that Jacob Allen will never forget what you did for
him last evening, and will count it a piece of good luck if he ever
gets a chance to do you a good turn in part payment of what he owes
you.”

Myles thanked him for his thoughtfulness, thrust the note into a
pocket, bade Allen good-night, and hurried on.

At the hotel he spent a few minutes in his room, got his report and
writing materials, and then going to the office told the proprietor
that he should probably be out all night and perhaps part of the next
day.

“Very well, Mr. Manning,” replied the landlord, “but as these are
troubled times, and you don’t leave any baggage to amount to any thing
behind you, I shall have to ask for the amount of your bill to date
before you go. It is—let me see—yes, five dollars will square us up
to breakfast-time to-morrow morning.”

What was to be done? Myles had not two dollars in his possession, nor
had he a friend within reach from whom to borrow. He hesitated, grew
red in the face, stammered and finally said:

“Your demand is rather unexpected, sir, and finds me without funds
to meet it just at this moment. I was going to telegraph to my paper
for money as soon as the wires were in order. I am certainly coming
back here again. You don’t suppose I would run away for a five-dollar
hotel-bill, do you?”

“Oh, no, of course not,” replied the landlord. “I don’t suppose any
thing of the kind, and I don’t doubt but that you mean to come back.
Still, folks have cleared out forgetting to pay smaller bills than
that, and when a man once leaves town there’s no telling what may
happen to prevent his return. Your being broke, as you say you are,
is unfortunate; but it won’t make any difference if you can leave
something as security until your return—your watch, for instance.”

Without another word Myles pulled his gold watch, a birthday gift from
his father the year he entered college, from his pocket, handed it to
the landlord, received a receipt for it, and hurried into the street,
hot with indignation and mortification.

He found the hand-car standing on the track in front of the railway
station, and beside it the operator awaiting his coming with the
greatest impatience, for it was an hour since they had separated.

“Where have you been and what have you been doing all this time?” he
asked. “I had nearly given you up, and was going home, when a fellow
brought this car along with word from Mr. Watkins that it was for your
use. Then I knew things were moving all right. But what has kept you so
long?”

“Some unexpected business,” answered Myles, evasively, as they jumped
on the car, and, hanging a lantern in the forward end, began to turn
the cranks that set it in motion. Myles’ thoughts were still too
unpleasant and too full of his recent mortification for him to care to
talk, and he found relief in the active exertion necessary to propel
the car. It furnished an ample excuse for silence, but his companion
wondered at the tremendous energy with which he toiled.

They rolled quickly out of the railroad yard, and in a few minutes
were beyond the limits of the town. Faster and faster they flew over
the ringing lines of steel. Now they roared like a train of cars
through a stretch of dark forest, then they skirted the base of a tall
mountain, and again skimmed the edge of some deep valley lying black
and mysterious far beneath them. They sped round sharp curves, rattled
noisily over bridges that spanned swift rushing streams, rumbled over
the hollow arches of culverts, and every now and then plunged through
the breathless blackness of echoing tunnels. As they were on a down
grade their speed increased with each turn of the cranks, until they
seemed fairly to fly, and the wind of the their own progress nearly
took away their breath as it whistled keenly past them.

Occasionally they caught the gleam of a charcoal-burner’s fire,
sometimes close beside the track and again far up on a mountain-side or
glowing like an angry eye from the depths of a ragged ravine; but these
vanished almost as soon as seen. Once they were stopped by a red light
swung furiously across the track but a short distance ahead of them.
Somebody was waving the danger signal, and their iron-shod brake was
applied so vigorously that a train of sparks flew hissing from it. As
they came to a stand-still two rough-looking fellows stepped within the
circle of light thrown by their lantern and demanded to know who they
were and what was their business. They were members of a guard posted
by the strikers to see that no one left or entered Mountain Junction
during the night.

“Hello, Ned! is that you?” said the operator, recognizing one of them.
“We are all right. You know me, don’t you? I’m only going to Station
No. 1 to send a dispatch for this _Phonograph_ reporter. We’ve got a
permit from——” Here the operator lowered his voice so that Myles did
not catch the name he mentioned. It was evidently satisfactory, for the
man stepped aside, saying:

“Go on, then. If he says so it must be all right.”

So on they went, speeding through the darkness and waking the sleepy
echoes of the night until the ten miles had been left behind, and the
light of Station No. 1 shone out clear and bright, only a hundred yards
away.

Here another swinging red lantern warned them to stop. As they pulled
up in front of the little station and sprang from their car breathless,
and wringing wet with perspiration, they were surrounded by a curious
crowd of railroad men who seemed to be making this their head-quarters.
The operator answered all their questions satisfactorily, and, at the
mention of the magical name which Myles still failed to catch, they
readily fell back, making way for the new-comers to enter the station.
Here an operator of but limited experience was slowly sending and
receiving short dispatches concerning the progress of the great strike.
The change in the sound of the electric notes as the skilled operator
who accompanied Myles sat down to the instrument was wonderful. The
sluggish wire seemed to spring into wide-awake activity, and the sharp
clicking of the key as the nimble fingers rattled off thirty-five words
to the minute was like the continuous buzz of some great insect. At
the end of an hour the column-long message had been sent and received
without a break.

As the operator leaned back in his chair after this feat he remarked:

“That fellow at the other end is a lightning taker. I don’t know him,
and he must be a new hand; but he’s a daisy, and I guess I’ll send him
a 73 any how.”[1]

“I wish you would also send this to the _Phonograph_ for me,” said
Myles, handing the operator a slip of paper on which was written:


 “Am out of money. Please send fifty dollars. Will explain upon return.
  MYLES MANNING.”

After this had been flashed over the wires the operator said:

“My dear fellow, why didn’t you tell me you were broke? I would gladly
have loaned you whatever you needed for a day or two. I can now if you
will take it.”

“Oh, no, indeed, thank you!” answered Myles. “They will get money to
me somehow, and I shouldn’t be in a fix any way if it wasn’t for the
stupidity of that hotel proprietor.” Then he told the story of his
recent mortification, with which the operator sympathized warmly. He
again tried to persuade the young reporter to accept a loan, but Myles
steadily refused, and finally the matter was dropped.

After finishing their business they spent some time at Station No. 1
listening to bits of news regarding the strike. Myles now learned for
the first time how very general it was, and how it was paralyzing the
business of the whole country. He was told that the militia of many
States had been ordered out, and that even detachments of troops from
the regular army were hurrying to points where riots were expected.
The men gathered about the station spoke very bitterly of this sending
of soldiers to aid in “cheating them of their rights,” as they
expressed it, and declared that they would make things lively for any
troops that came in their way.

While they were thus talking word was received over the wire that the
50th New York Regiment was ordered to Mountain Junction and would start
the next morning.

This dispatch was greeted with an angry yell by those who crowded up
to the operator’s window to hear it read, and Myles heard more than
one muttered declaration that the 50th would have a sweet time getting
there, and a red-hot time when they arrived. He wanted very much to
send a few hundred words more to the _Phonograph_ describing the scenes
about the station and the strikers’ reception of the news regarding the
50th, but he was sternly forbidden to do so.

“No, not Jake Allen himself shouldn’t send another word to any paper,
now that they are going to put the soldiers on to us,” shouted one man.

“What has Allen got to do with it, that they mention his name in that
way?” asked Myles of his friend.

“Why,” answered the operator, “didn’t you know that he was the grand
mogul and recognized leader of all the strikers in these parts?”

“No, I had no idea of such a thing.”

“Well, he is; and if it hadn’t been for him we wouldn’t have got here
to-night. He seems to know all about you, and he gave us permission to
come out. It was only by using his name that we got through.”

At length Myles and the operator boarded their car to go back to town,
to which they promised, in return for the favors shown them, to carry
the news of the expected coming of the New York regiment. The return
journey was a hard one. Both of them were sleepy and tired out. They
were no longer borne up by the excitement that attended their outward
trip, and their hands were blistered by the crank-handles. The car grew
heavier and heavier as they forced it slowly up the long grades, while
the miles seemed to stretch to infinity.

When they were half-way back they would have stopped for a while and
taken an hour or two of sleep where they were, but, all at once, they
caught sight of a dull glow overhanging the distant town that they knew
must be caused by some great fire. They also thought they heard shots
every now and then. Their anxiety to find out what was going on lent
them new strength, and again their car hummed merrily over the rails.

As they approached the town they met several small parties of men,
who shouted to them to stop, and once a pistol-bullet whizzed by
unpleasantly close to them, but they dashed forward without paying any
attention to these orders.

At last they rolled into the railroad yard and stepped wearily from
their car, only to be arrested by two soldiers, who said they must
appear before Lieutenant Easter and give an account of themselves.



CHAPTER XII.

MYLES FALLS INTO A TRAP.


THE straightforward account that Myles and his companion were able to
give of themselves and their movements quickly convinced the dapper
little lieutenant that they were all right, but he warned them never
to do so again. He had to say this, or something like it, in order to
impress them with the importance of his position. This was the first
time he had ever worn the wonderfully gorgeous uniform of his battalion
in actual service; he might never again have a chance to exhibit it
as a real commander of real soldiers on real duty, and he believed in
making the most of opportunities as they were presented.

At the conclusion of this farce the suspected individuals were set at
liberty and allowed to communicate the unwelcome intelligence that
one of the crack New York City regiments was on its way to Mountain
Junction. It was unwelcome news to the lieutenant, because he knew that
he would thus be speedily relieved of his command by some superior
officer, and that his brief day of glory would be over.

“It is perfectly absurd to send more troops to this place,” he
sputtered, “especially a lot of city boys. What good can they do, I
should like to know? Why, a single night’s work such as we have just
had would break them all up, while I, for instance, am fresh as a daisy
and good for another just like it. I tell you, gentlemen, you want
men of experience in affairs of this kind, not a lot of toy soldiers
like those New York chaps. We don’t need any help here, even if they
were the fellows to help us. I and my command are perfectly well able
to attend to all the strikers in this part of the country. Why, we
have cleared the town of them already, arrested their ringleader, and
to-morrow, or rather to-day, I propose to run a train over the Western
Division, and see that it goes through, too! Of course you will make
no mention of this,” he added, with a laughable expression of anxiety;
“for we do not wish our plans to be known generally.”

“Of course not,” answered Myles. “We understand that you do not wish
to have your proposed ride on the cars interrupted by any meddlesome
strikers. But whom did you say you arrested? I should like to have his
name for publication.”

Now this word “publication” meant a great deal to Lieutenant Easter.
To get his name into the New York papers as one of the heroes of this
great strike would be the crowning glory of his military career. Of
course this reporter could not describe the arrest of one of the
ringleaders of the strike and its attendant circumstances without
mentioning the important part borne in the affair by himself, the
commanding officer. So, without noticing Myles’ remark about the
proposed opening of the Western Division, he proceeded to give him a
full account from his own point of view of what had taken place during
the few hours just past.

According to this account, about one o’clock that night Mr. Watkins,
filled with the responsibility of his position as acting division
superintendent, had been making a round of the railroad buildings
to see that every thing was all right. Near one of the car-shops he
noticed a man evidently trying to conceal himself in its shadow. Mr.
Watkins challenged him, asked him what he was doing there, and ordered
him off the premises. The man, answering in the well-known voice of
Jacob Allen, a recognized leader of the strike, said he was only going,
by the shortest way, to his home, and that he did not propose to go
back and take a roundabout route to please Mr. Watkins or anybody else.
Thereupon Mr. Watkins, very properly, called one of the military guards
of the building and ordered him to arrest Allen.

The guard attempted to obey this order, but the striker, exhibiting
a desperate ferocity, snatched his gun from him, and, pointing it at
them, ordered both Mr. Watkins and the guard to leave or he would
shoot. He even went so far as to cock the gun, and of course they were
obliged to do as he told them.

Mr. Watkins immediately reported this outrage to him (Lieutenant
Easter), and, taking a squad of a dozen of his best men, he went to
Allen’s house, and arrested him just as he was getting into bed. While
they were doing this a fire broke out in the very car-shop near which
he had been discovered, and there was not the slightest doubt but that
this Jacob Allen had set it. At any rate he would be tried for it, in
connection with his other offences against the law, and he now occupied
a cell in the town jail, where he was chained and handcuffed beyond a
possibility of escape. In the meantime all the other strikers had taken
to the woods, and he (Lieutenant Easter) could congratulate the town on
being well rid of them.

Thanking the lieutenant for the information he had given them, Myles
and the telegraph operator took their departure, the former to seek his
bed in the hotel and get a few hours sleep, the latter to hunt up some
particular friends for whom he had important news.

When Ben Watkins returned to his room, after his wicked attempt to burn
the railroad building and his struggle with Myles, he was filled with
such a fury of rage, shame, and hatred that his sole thought was of
revenge.

For some time he paced restlessly up and down the room, trying to
conceive some plan for the young reporter’s utter humiliation and
overthrow. He felt almost sure that in consequence of the telegram he
had sent to the _Phonograph_ the night before, Myles would be dismissed
from the paper; but that was not enough. Could he not inflict some
more serious injury upon the fellow who had just told him that he, Ben
Watkins, was whipped and in his power?

“Whipped, am I!” cried Ben, bitterly, “I’ll show him yet who is
whipped. I may be in his power or he may be in mine; but that question
is not settled yet, as he will find out before long.”

Then the old evil smile crept over his face. A new idea entered his
mind, and he paused in his hurried walk to consider it.

“Yes,” he exclaimed, half aloud. “I believe it will work; and if it
does it will land him in State prison, certain as fate! All I have to
do is to make no mistake in my part of the programme and it will work
itself out without any further effort. Why, the fool has actually gone
and stuck his own head right into the trap. Things couldn’t suit me
better if I had planned them beforehand.”

Then Ben saw that his door was locked, plugged the key-hole, pinned
the curtains to the window-frame so that it was certain no one
could peep in, and, producing the express package that he had
taken from the safe, sat down to examine it. One thousand dollars
in fifty-dollar bills! A careful count assured him that the sum was
correct. Then he began to examine the bills separately and with the
utmost care, studying their every detail on both sides. He even used a
magnifying-glass to aid in his search.

At last his efforts seemed to be rewarded, and he laid one of the
bills aside, though he did not cease his labor until every note in the
package had been thoroughly examined. Leaving the bill thus selected,
together with the express envelope in which they came, lying on the
table, he thrust the rest into the pocket from which he had taken them
and buttoned his coat tightly. Next he wrote a letter. It was short,
but it evidently needed to be written and worded with great care, for
several sheets of note-paper were torn into minute fragments before one
was prepared to his satisfaction. Folding the selected bill inside of
this letter, he placed them in an envelope which he sealed, directed,
and stamped. This he also placed in his pocket.

Now, turning out his light and taking the empty express envelope, he
softly unlocked and opened the door of his room, took out the key,
and for a minute peered cautiously up and down the dimly lighted hall,
listening intently at the same time. Then he removed his shoes and
walked rapidly, but with noiseless tread, to the door of the room
occupied by Myles Manning. It was locked, of course, but, as is often
the case in small hotels, the key of one room would unlock the door of
every other, and Ben’s key unlocked this door as readily as his own.

Although certain that the room was empty, for he knew Myles to be out
of town, Ben exercised the utmost caution as he entered it and softly
closed the door behind him. He did not remain there more than a minute,
but when he came out he trembled so violently that it was difficult for
him to insert the key into the lock. When he had accomplished this he
sped back to his own room, possessed of the miserable fear that always
follows a guilty conscience. Ben was bad, and had been for years; but
he was now practising a new style of wickedness, and the terror that it
inspired was unlike any he had ever before known.

Having transacted all these items of business to his satisfaction he
resumed his shoes, put on his hat, and, quietly leaving the hotel
without being noticed, walked down town to the post-office, where he
mailed his letter.

Then, for fear that he had been seen, and wishing to have a good excuse
for being on the street at that hour of the night, he made the pretence
of examining into the safety of the car-shops, that resulted in meeting
with Jacob Allen, as Myles afterward learned from Lieutenant Easter.

The fire that followed so closely upon Allen’s arrest was set to carry
out a threat made by the strikers that they would destroy some piece of
railroad property for every one of their number who should be thrown
into prison.

When Myles Manning, completely worn out with the hard work and
excitement of the night, threw himself, without undressing, upon his
bed, he fully intended to be up again and ready to go out with the
train that Lieutenant Easter proposed to put through that day. He had
been told that it would start at ten o’clock, or possibly earlier than
that hour. When, therefore, after what seemed to him but a few minutes
of heavy, dreamless sleep, he awoke to find the sun shining brightly
and already high in the sky, he feared he had neglected another
opportunity of obeying the orders under which he was working, and lost
his chance of accompanying the first train sent out since the beginning
of the great strike.

Instinctively feeling for his watch, that he might see what time
it really was, he was for a moment puzzled to account for its
disappearance. Then the memory of the use to which it had been put
the previous evening came back to him, and again he flushed with hot
indignation as he recalled the mortifying position in which he was
placed.

“Oh, what a fool I was—what a fool I was!” he cried out in his
distress. “To gamble away money that I needed so badly, and which,
at the same time, was not my own. That I am in this fix is all my
own fault, though, and I am well paid for my folly. It is a bitter
experience that I shall remember so long as I live, and it has at least
cured me of gambling; for never again will I risk one cent upon a game
of chance. No, not one cent,” he repeated earnestly, as if registering
a vow.

He hated to go down stairs with the chance of meeting the proprietor of
the hotel.

“Though why should I?” he thought. “He holds security worth twenty
times the amount of his wretched bill. Oh, for a few dollars with which
to pay him and demand the return of my watch, with an apology for his
suspicions! I almost wish I had accepted that operator’s offer of a
loan. He’s a good fellow, and I wouldn’t so very much mind being under
an obligation to him.”

Thus thinking, the young reporter went down to the hotel office, where
a glance at the clock showed him that it was already past ten. As he
was hurrying out of the front door the clerk at the desk said:

“Here is a letter for you, Mr. Manning.”

Stepping back and getting it Myles thrust it into his pocket, feeling
that he had no time to read letters just then, and set out on a run for
the railway station.

There, to his great relief, he found the train that he feared had gone
without him. It stood on the main track, and consisted of two cars, but
no locomotive. The men of Lieutenant Easter’s command, who were to go
with it as a guard, stood in small groups near it, and everybody was
evidently waiting for something. Myles soon learned that the difficulty
was with the locomotive. One had been got ready for the trip, but,
with the first revolution of its great wheels, their connecting rod had
fallen to the ground, and a serious injury to the machinery resulted. A
small steel pin was missing, and could not be found. Upon examination
of the other engines in the round-house it was discovered that the same
important little pin was missing from every one of them. Each engineer
upon leaving had drawn this pin and taken it with him. Now, therefore,
the train could not move until a new one of these pins could be made
and fitted to its place. Under the circumstances this was a slow and
difficult undertaking, and it would be at least an hour yet before a
start could be made. This being the case Myles thought he might as well
return to the hotel for the breakfast of which he stood so greatly in
need.

Going to his room, to wash his face and hands before sitting down to
table, he suddenly remembered his letter. It was post-marked Mountain
Junction, and the post-mark bore the date of that very day.

“That is curious,” thought Myles.

His surprise was greatly increased when, as he opened the letter, a
fifty-dollar bill fell from it, and he turned eagerly to its contents:

  MY DEAR MR. MANNING:

 Having accidentally learned of your temporary embarrassment, and
 knowing your unwillingness to accept pecuniary assistance from
 strangers, I take this method of forcing a slight loan upon you. Do
 not hesitate to make use of the enclosed $50 for when you are again in
 funds I will call upon you for repayment. Say nothing of this little
 affair, but use the money as your own, and believe me to be

  A FRIEND IN NEED.

“Well, if that telegraph fellow isn’t a trump!” thought Myles, as he
finished reading this friendly note. “He has sent me the exact sum
that I asked the office for in that dispatch, and sent it in such a
delicate, generous way that I don’t see how I can very well refuse to
take it. He is, indeed, ‘a friend in need,’ and one whom I won’t forget
in a hurry. Yes, I will use the money, now that it has actually come to
me, for I shall certainly soon be able to pay it back.”

With a lighter heart than he had known since arriving in this town of
incident and adventure, and with the bill in his hand, Myles ran down
stairs and called for the proprietor, to whom he said:

“I’ll thank you, sir, for my watch, together with a receipted bill for
my board to date, and here is the money to pay it. If there was any
other hotel in town I would not spend another minute in yours, you may
depend upon it. Now make the change quickly, if you please, for I am in
a hurry.”

The landlord did not deign to reply to this little speech; but, taking
the proffered bill and satisfying himself that it was genuine, he
handed out the change, the watch, and a receipt without a word.

Myles ate his breakfast, or, rather, his lunch, for it was now nearly
noon, with a hearty appetite, and then started off briskly and happily
toward the railway station, prepared to encounter any adventure that
the day might bring forth.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE STRIKERS CAPTURE A TRAIN.


AT THE railway station Myles found the train nearly ready to start and
its military passengers on board. A foreman of the locomotive works
was to act as engineer, and Ben Watkins was to be fireman. Lieutenant
Easter found a seat in the locomotive cab, where Myles would have liked
to join him but for the presence of Ben, with whom he wished to hold
no communication. The two cars of the train were well filled, for the
town was so quiet and so absolutely deserted by the strikers that the
lieutenant did not think it necessary to leave more than half a dozen
of his men in charge of a corporal to guard the jail and the railroad
buildings. So he took nearly the whole of his command with him, and an
interesting lot they were to Myles, who now, for the first time, saw
them all together.

Most of them were green, awkward-appearing young men, who had joined
the company solely that they might wear its uniform. As has been said,
this uniform was a remarkably gorgeous one, and it represented the
taste of its wearers; for they had voted to adopt it at one of the
very first meetings of their organization. It was of scarlet, black,
and gold, and above the stiff beaver caps nodded scarlet and black
plumes of cocks’ feathers. These were the particular joy and pride of
Lieutenant Easter’s men, and were regarded by them as the most truly
military and warlike portion of their equipment. If these fiercely
nodding plumes did not inspire terror in the hearts of the strikers,
what would?

The whole business of the strike was looked upon as a picnic by these
gorgeous militiamen. They had no idea that it might mean fight. Oh,
no, that was too absurd. No body of strikers with a grain of sense
among them would be so foolhardy as to await their coming. Their mere
appearance on the scene would be the signal for flight. Did they not
have law and muskets on their side?

Thus they talked and boasted as the train rolled slowly out of town
without meeting the slightest form of opposition. Nobody in the car in
which Myles had found a seat spoke to him or paid the least attention
to him, except to wonder who he was and what right he had there. He
might be a striker, for all they knew. At any rate he did not wear a
uniform, was evidently only an ordinary, every-day civilian, and was
consequently unworthy of their notice.

Every thing went on smoothly and comfortably for an hour or so. The
track was in perfect order, no strikers were to be seen, and the
citizen soldiery were boisterously happy. As many of their muskets
as could be were crowded into and snugly stowed in the package-racks
above their heads, while the rest were shoved under the seats so as to
be well out of the way. Their owners loosened their belts for greater
comfort, played cards, smoked, ate, drank, and were merry. This state
of affairs continued until they had gone about twelve miles. Then the
train began to climb a long grade. Its speed was of course slackened by
this, but not enough to attract the notice of the card-players.

All at once the great driving-wheels of the locomotive began to spin
furiously, but without taking any hold of the rails. The engineer knew
in a moment what the trouble was—the track had been soaped!—and
shut off steam. The train slid a few rods farther, and then stopped.
As it did so a wild yell was heard in the bushes that at this point
grew thickly close to the track. Then a crowd of men leaped from them
and charged upon the motionless train. Half a dozen of them sprang to
the locomotive, taking complete possession of it, and dragging its
three occupants to the ground before they had time to offer the least
resistance.

In less than a minute after it stopped the train was in undisputed
possession of the strikers, and its passengers were their prisoners.

Myles was greatly startled and not a little alarmed by these summary
proceedings. He sprang to his feet with the rest when the train
stopped, and had nearly reached the rear door of the car when the
strikers rushed in and commanded everybody to sit down. He obeyed the
order at once, slipping into a little corner seat behind the open door.
Here, as he was not in uniform, he escaped attention for a few minutes.
Then a burly fellow, who seemed a sort of leader among the strikers,
pulled back the door so as to reveal him fully, and asked gruffly:

“Who are you, and what are you doing here? What’s your position on the
road?”

“I haven’t any,” answered Myles, who did not know whether to say he was
a reporter or not.

“Well, who are you, then? Come, spit it out quick! We haven’t any time
for fooling.”

“I am a friend of Jacob Allen’s,” replied Myles, with a happy thought.

“Oh, you are, are you? Well, how do I know that? It’s easy enough to
say you are a friend of Jake Allen’s, but how can you prove it?”

“By this,” said Myles, producing a folded bit of note-paper that Allen
had given him the night before. The man read aloud:

 The bearer, Mr. Manning, is my friend; and I wish all my friends to
 treat him as a friend of—Jacob Allen.

“That’s all right,” said the man, returning the note to Myles, “though
some of those that Jake Allen thought were his friends have gone back
on him lately. Still, I guess we’ll have to pass you this time. I
must say, though, that for a friend of Allen’s you are in mighty poor
company just now.” Then he walked away, and Myles left the car to see
what was going on outside.

Now it happened that a soldier occupying the next seat in front of the
reporter overheard the reading of this note, and was struck by its
curious wording. He afterward told Lieutenant Easter of it, and the
Lieutenant told Ben Watkins, adding his own suspicions that this friend
of Jacob Allen-must be the very one who had conveyed to the strikers
the news of this attempt to run a train through. “Otherwise,” he said,
“they could not possibly have known of it in time to plan the stopping
and capture of the train as they did.”

In thus laying suspicion upon Myles the Lieutenant entirely forgot that
the reporter had a companion, the telegraph operator, the night before,
when he himself gave away this information.

After leaving the car Myles was witness of some very funny scenes.
First the strikers inside the cars secured all the guns they could
find and passed them to their comrades outside. Then, two at a time,
so guarded that there was no chance of escape, and solemnly assured
that they were about to be hanged, the disgusted soldiers were made to
leave the cars. As they appeared on the platforms in all the splendor
of their gorgeous uniforms they were greeted with howls of derision.
The nodding cocks’ plumes received their full share of attention,
and at the cry of “Scalp ’em! scalp ’em! give us their scalps!” the
gaudy feathers were shorn from the beaver caps or plucked out by the
roots and distributed to all who wanted them. Then the prisoners were
marched back into the bushes, struggling, protesting, pleading, making
all sorts of promises, or, in some cases, laughing, and treating it
all as a joke. As each couple reached a point beyond sight of their
companions, to whom their fate was thus a mystery, they were stripped
of their cherished uniforms with the exception of their shorn beavers,
and made to put on pairs of greasy or coal-blackened overalls in place
of them. Then the dejected-looking couple was allowed to step to one
side and witness the similar treatment of the next two who were brought
out.

Myles, who had no occasion to feel particularly sorry for the
humiliation of these boastful soldiers, could not help joining in the
merriment caused by their comical appearance. Even pompous little
Lieutenant Easter had been deprived of his sword and shorn of his
plumes, though he was permitted to retain his uniform. Beside him stood
Ben Watkins, scowling savagely, and muttering threats that he dared not
utter aloud.

[Illustration: THE STRIKERS REORGANIZING THE MILITIA. (_Page 192._)]

A little later Myles overheard a conversation between two of the
strikers, from which he learned that all the men captured with the
train were to be put on board again and taken to within a short
distance of the town to which they belonged, some thirty miles westward.

Now this would not suit him at all. His orders were to remain at
Mountain Junction until recalled, and he proposed to obey them just
as long as possible. So, fearing that Jacob Allen’s note might not
again avail him, and, watching for a chance when the attention of the
strikers was fully occupied with the mock review of Lieutenant Easter’s
company, he quietly slipped back among the bushes, and in another
moment was lost to sight.

From a well concealed hiding-place he saw all the captured men,
including Ben Watkins, for whom the strikers had no love, put on board
the cars strongly guarded. The track was then well sanded to overcome
the effect of the soap, and finally he saw the train move slowly away
and disappear over the crest of the long up grade. Still he kept his
hiding-place, until the crowd of strikers who remained had gathered
up and shouldered the captured muskets, stuck the scarlet and black
cocks’ plumes in their hat-bands, and also departed. As they marched
on the railroad toward Mountain Junction, in the very direction he
wished to go, he waited until they were out of sight and hearing. After
these prolonged waitings it wanted less than an hour of sunset when
he returned to regain the track. Then, assuring himself that no human
being was in sight in either direction, he set out bravely and at a
rapid pace to walk back over the twelve miles to the town in which he
had been ordered to stay.

Walking on a railroad track is by no means easy work, and before he had
accomplished more than half the distance to the town the young reporter
wished that a train, or, at least, a hand-car, would come along and
give him a lift. The sun had set, it was rapidly growing dark, and
Myles was as rapidly growing very hungry. His way lay through a
particularly rough and lonesome stretch of country. It was mountainous
and heavily wooded. He had not seen a house, unless one or two distant
huts of charcoal-burners could be called such, since he started. Now
the solitude and the silence, only broken by the melancholy cries of
a whippoorwill or the weird hootings of an occasional owl, became
drearily oppressive, and Myles longed for human companionship. If only
he had his jolly comrade of the night before, the telegraph operator.
But he had not, and he tried to cheer his lonely way by whistling as
he trudged wearily along. He kept a sharp lookout for lights on either
side of the way, determined to go to the first one he saw in the hope
of finding food. He also decided that if he found any sort of shelter
for the night he would remain there until morning, for the thought
of crossing, in the dark, the several trestle-bridges over mountain
torrents that lay between him and the town was by no means pleasant.

At last he saw a faint gleam, apparently that of a candle, at some
little distance on his left. Whether it was far away or near at hand
Myles could not tell. It at least betokened the presence of human
beings, and he determined to try and reach it. He did not find any road
or path leading to it, but worked his way slowly, with many a stumble
amid rocks, trees, stumps, and bushes, toward the light. He often lost
sight of it, but always found it again, until, all of a sudden, he was
close upon it.

It came from a cabin, apparently that of a charcoal-burner, only
somewhat larger than most of those he had seen. In order to announce
his presence he gave a shout, which was answered by the savage barking
of a dog that came bounding toward him. As Myles felt for a stick or a
rock with which to defend himself, the door of the cabin was opened and
a harsh voice shouted:

“Tige! you Tige! Be quiet, sir. Who’s there?”

“I am,” answered Myles.

“Well, who’s I?”

“A stranger in search of something to eat and a place to sleep in.”

“Step up here and let’s take a look at you. Tige, be quiet!”

The dog obeyed his master so far as keeping quiet was concerned, but
he followed the new-comer and sniffed at his heels in a manner both
suggestive and extremely unpleasant.

The figure that confronted Myles in the door-way was that of a tall,
broad-shouldered, rough-looking man, clad in a flannel shirt and a pair
of coarse trousers tucked into cowhide boots.

“Well, you be a stranger, sure enough,” said he, holding a candle so
that its light shone in the other’s face; “leastways I never see you in
these parts before. An’ you’ve struck a mighty poor place. This ain’t
no hotel, and I reckon you’d better travel a bit further on.”

“Where to?” asked Myles.

“To the Junction, I expect. There ain’t no place short of that, as I
know of, where you could be took in.”

“But that is a long way off,” objected Myles, “and I don’t believe I
could cross the bridges in the dark.”

“No more do I believe you could,” replied the man.

“Besides, I am willing to pay, and pay well, for whatever food and
shelter you will give me,” added Myles.

“Will you pay a dollar?”

“With pleasure.”

“In advance?”

“Yes, if you insist upon it.”

“Let’s see your money, stranger, and I’ll see what I can do.”

Now Myles had no money with him except the change from the fifty
dollars that he had tucked into the envelope in which the bill had
come to him that morning. So he was obliged to produce this in order to
get out the required dollar.

Upon receiving his pay in advance and discovering his would-be guest
to be a person of means the man’s manner softened. Saying, “Step in,
stranger, and I’ll see what I can do for you,” he led the way into the
cabin. Myles followed him, glad to accept even so poor a shelter, and
little dreaming that before morning he would be ten times more anxious
to escape from it than he was now to be admitted.



CHAPTER XIV.

A RACE AGAINST TIME.


SEVERAL events combined to make Myles regret seeking shelter in that
cabin instead of pushing on with ever so slight a chance of reaching
the town in safety, or camping out under some tree and bearing the
night’s cold and hunger as best he might. To begin with, he lost his
money in this cabin, or at least he thought he lost it there, when,
late the next day, he made the discovery that it was gone. In regard
to it he was only certain of two things. One was that he had it safe
enough when he reached the cabin, and the other was that he did not
gamble it away. Whether he was robbed as he slept, or whether, after
replacing it in the envelope, it slipped to the ground instead of into
his pocket, as he meant it should, he could not tell. It did not seem
possible that either of these things had happened. If he was robbed
why was not his watch taken also? And he did not believe he could
have been so careless as to let the package slip to the ground without
noticing it. At any rate the money disappeared, and with it went the
kindly worded note signed “A Friend in Need.”

The interior of the cabin presented a much more cheerful and
comfortable appearance than was promised by the outside. It contained
two rooms, in the larger of which a fire was glowing on an ample
hearth. The man appeared to be the sole occupant of the place, and,
bidding Myles sit down and wait a while, he proceeded to prepare supper
for the hungry reporter.

He was evidently not an inquisitive man; for, as he busied himself
over the fire, he asked no questions. Neither did he volunteer any
information, except that it was a dark night and middling cool for the
season. Myles tried to enter into conversation with him, but the man
was so evidently disinclined to talk that he soon gave up the attempt
and watched him in silence.

In about half an hour a much better supper than he had dared expect
was ready for him. It consisted of fried ham and eggs, a cup of hot
tea, plenty of bread and butter, and a dish of preserved peaches. To
Myles it seemed about the best meal he had ever eaten, and he did full
justice to it, while the man sat silently gazing into the fire and
smoking a short black pipe.

When the reporter had satisfied his appetite he felt more sociable and
inclined for a chat than ever; but, though he exerted himself to the
utmost to be entertaining, he only succeeded in getting from the man an
occasional yes and no or a grunt that might have meant either. Finally,
in despair, he said he guessed he was ready to go to bed. The man rose,
knocked the ashes from his pipe, lighted a candle, and led the way to
the other room. There he pointed to the single bed that it contained
and told his guest that he might “lay down” on it if he liked. Then,
without another word, he set the candle down and went out, closing the
door behind him.

Thus left to his own devices, Myles examined his surroundings
curiously. The room was a small one, having two windows, but no door
except the one by which he had entered. It contained a cot-bed, a
couple of chairs, and a rickety bureau. From nails driven into the
rough board wall hung a few articles of men’s clothing. The young
reporter’s curiosity was quickly satisfied, and, opening one of the
windows wide, for he believed in plenty of fresh air, he blew out the
light, pulled off his shoes, and lay down on the outside of the bed.

For some time he listened to the movements of the man in the adjoining
room, from which his was only separated by a thin board partition, and
to Tige’s uneasy prowlings and occasional growls outside. Then he fell
asleep.

Some hours later he was wakened by the dog’s furious barking and the
harsh voice of his master bidding him be quiet. Then he heard other
voices, and presently two men entered the outer room. The owner of the
cabin evidently met them outside and warned them of his presence; for,
as they came in, Myles heard one of them ask in a low tone:

“Who is he, any way?”

“Blest if I know,” was the host’s reply. “He’s a stranger to these
parts, and I reckon he’s harmless. He didn’t ask no leading questions,
and if he knows any thing it isn’t on account of my telling.”

“It certainly is not,” thought Myles.

“Is he asleep, do you think?” was the next question.

“I don’t know, but I’ll make an errand into his room and find out.”

Myles instantly closed his eyes and began to breathe heavily. The next
moment his door was softly opened and his host, with a candle in his
hand, tiptoed across the floor and took down a coat that hung on the
opposite wall. Then he went out.

“Yes, he’s asleep fast enough,” Myles heard him say.

“Let’s take a look at him,” said one of the men.

Again Myles was obliged to feign sleep while his face was closely
examined by the new-comers. It was a trying moment, but he succeeded in
acting his part so well as to convince them that he was really asleep.

He was greatly relieved when they left the room, and still more so when
he heard one of them say:

“No, he don’t belong to these parts; but, whoever he is, he sleeps like
a log. You must have given him a dose of your sleeping-drops, Bill.”

“Not much I didn’t,” answered Bill, in whose voice Myles recognized
that of his host. “He didn’t ask for it, and you can bet I wasn’t fool
enough to offer it.”

“Well, whether you did or not, you want to offer it to us, and about
two gallons of it too. The boys have got a big job on hand, and will
need bracing up before they’ve done with it.”

“What is it?” asked Bill.

“Sh! Not so loud,” answered one of the men.

Then a long conversation followed, but at first it was carried on in
such low tones that Myles only caught a word of it now and then. A
clinking of glasses explained why it gradually grew louder, until at
last every word came plainly to the ears of the young reporter. The
first thing that he heard distinctly was:

“Jake Allen was too tender-hearted about it. He sent ’em word that the
track was in a dangerous condition, and if they came ahead it would be
at their own peril. I’d a let ’em come without a word, and find out for
themselves.”

“But I thought Jake Allen was locked up,” said Bill.

“So he was, but he isn’t now. When that fool of a lieutenant carried
off all his men, or the best part of ’em, what was to hinder the boys
from slipping into town and letting Jake out? Just nothing at all,
and that’s what they did. No, there wasn’t any fuss. It was all done
quiet enough, and now that Jake is out they won’t get him in again in a
hurry, you can bet on that. We’re just laying for them city roosters,
though, and it will serve ’em right if the whole regiment gets pitched
into the creek. What business have they, anyhow, coming out here to
interfere with us and our rights?”

“Then they are really coming, are they?” asked Bill.

“Coming! Of course they are, a whole train-load of ’em. They got as far
as Martin’s yesterday, and, if they make an early start and get along
as fast as they have been doing, they’ll be where we want ’em soon
sun’s up.”

“Where’s that?”

“Just this side of Station One. Somewhere on the Horseshoe.”

“Are you going to fight ’em there?”

“Fight? Not much! The boys won’t be there at all; but they are fixing
up a little trap to leave behind ’em that’ll do the business. The boys
will be far enough away long before that, though. There isn’t anybody
going to be caught in this racket.”

From all this Myles concluded that the 50th Regiment from New York
City, of whose intended coming he had already heard, was really on its
way to Mountain Junction. Some sort of a trap had been laid for them
on the Horseshoe, a sharp curve on the edge of a deep stream that he
remembered well. What if the train should be thrown from the track
there! Why, the result would be simply horrible. They had been warned
of danger, too, and yet would insist upon pushing ahead. Of course they
would do that, though; and Myles thrilled with an honest pride as he
thought how the boys of a New York City regiment would laugh at the
word “danger.” “It would only make them come ahead all the quicker,”
thought he, “for when those fellows are ‘under orders’ obeying them
is the first thing they think of, and the danger of doing so the very
last. But it would be awful if any thing were to happen to that train.
Couldn’t any thing be done to warn them? Couldn’t I do something even
now? If I were only at Mountain Junction, where I ought to be, instead
of ’way off here in the woods—on the wrong side of it too!”

All these thoughts flashed through the young reporter’s mind in a
minute, and they were followed by another.

“Was he not under orders as well as the boys of the 50th? Did not his
duty order him to make an effort to warn them of their danger? Of
course it did; and the orders of duty, when given as plainly as in this
case, ought to be obeyed as promptly as those of a city editor. What a
splendid thing it would be, too, if he only could get there in time! It
was certainly worth trying for, and he would make the attempt.”

Stepping softly from his bed he went to the window. What was to hinder
him from leaving the cabin this way? One leg was already over the sill,
and the other was about to follow, when a deep growl from just beneath
the window caused him to hurriedly draw back. Tige was on guard.

Then Myles listened at the door. The men were still talking. Why not
walk boldly out and announce his intended departure? No, that would
never do. They might take it into their heads to stop him, and they
were three to one.

The sound of moving chairs sent him flying back to the bed, where, to
all appearances, he was instantly fast asleep.

“Well, Bill, it’s time for us to be off,” said one of the men. “Trot
out your stuff and let us make a start.”

“There isn’t another drop in the house,” answered Bill, “and I reckon
you’ll have to go up to the still with me and get it.”

“All right; but you’d better take a look at that young feller in the
other room first.”

Bill looked in, and a single glance satisfied him that his guest was as
oblivious of his surroundings as before.

“It’s all right,” he said. “He’s good to sleep till sun-up, and I’ll
leave Tige to watch him. That dog won’t let any one leave the house
any more than he’d let ’em get in when I ain’t round. He’s a bully old
bull-dog, Tige is, and no one don’t want to trifle with his affections.”

Then the three men, taking a lantern with them, left the cabin, and
Myles listened until their voices died away in the distance. Tige had
been ordered to stay behind, and he obeyed orders. Myles went to the
open window, and the bull-dog growled at him. He went to the door, and
found Tige already watching in front of it. Here was a pretty fix:
caged by a dog, and so much depending upon his liberty! Myles had a
great mind to rush out and fight the dog, but he did not at all fancy
the undertaking, nor was he at all certain how such a fight would
result.

“If it were only a man,” he thought, “I’d risk it quick enough.”

All at once a bright thought flashed into his mind. Dogs were always
hungry. Part of his supper had been cut from a large ham that hung by
the fireplace. Striking a match, he easily found it. He took it to the
back window. Tige was there. The next moment the ham had been flung in
the direction of his growl, and he was worrying it.

Then, still in his stocking feet, with his shoes in his hand, the
reporter stole softly to the front-door which he had left unlatched,
and slipped out into the darkness. For five minutes he hardly dared
breathe, as he cautiously felt his way among the rocks and stumps. At
the end of that time he found a sort of road leading in the direction
he wished to take. After overcoming many difficulties he reached the
railroad. Two hours later he was once more at Mountain Junction, having
safely passed three bridges by crawling on his hands and knees over the
railway-ties.

It was now daylight, and another hour would see the sun rise. What
should he do next? To whom should he turn for help? As Myles asked
himself these questions he was challenged by the guard at the railway
station. The reporter asked that the corporal might be summoned, as he
had important information for him.

The corporal was tired, sleepy, and cross. He had heard nothing from
Lieutenant Easter, or those who had gone with him, and would not
believe it when Myles told him they were all prisoners in the hands
of the strikers. No, he could not, and he would not if he could, do
any thing to help the 50th Regiment. He did not care whether they got
there or not. Let them look out for themselves if they were so smart as
they claimed to be. Yes, Myles might take the hand-car and go out to
meet them if he wanted to, but he would be a fool for his pains, and
would probably come to grief. The town was surrounded by strikers, who
had sworn not to let any one out or in until their difficulty with the
company was settled. They would stop the hand-car before it got a mile.
Even if they did not, the railroad to the eastward was probably in such
a condition that nothing on wheels could pass over it. Did he know
where the telegraph operator could be found? No, he had not seen the
operator for twenty-four hours, and did not believe he was in town.

So, despairing of obtaining any assistance, the young reporter decided
to start off alone, do his best, and get as far as he could. Fortune
might favor him. At any rate, the object for which he was striving was
worth a desperate effort.

The hand-car that he and the operator had used on their trip was where
they left it, except that it had been lifted from the track and set to
one side. The corporal and the man on guard, with much grumbling at the
foolishness of Myles’ undertaking, helped him place it on the rails.
Then he started off alone.

The car moved slowly out of the railroad yard, but by the time it
reached the town limits it was rattling along at such a speed as only
the muscular young arms of the best man in a university crew could give
it. It had gone fast on that other trip. Was it days or weeks before?
Myles tried to remember, but could not. The recent rush of events had
completely driven dates from his mind. At any rate, though the car
seemed to go fast on that occasion, it had only crept as compared
with now. Its speed on that long stretch of down-grade was simply
tremendous. It was also wildly exhilarating. But for the breathlessness
of his exertions Myles would have shouted and yelled in his excitement.

“Faster, faster!” rang out the whirring wheels as they spun over the
gleaming track, and “Faster, faster, faster!” echoed the rails of steel.

The eastern sky was aglow with rosy light. The sun had nearly climbed
to the mountain tops. Still he might be in time. If only he could get
on a little faster! If only his muscles were steel and his lungs filled
with steam!

But what is that ahead? A dark space in the shining track. A rail gone.
Myles sprang to the brake. Its iron shoe ground fire from the iron
wheel. The headlong speed of the car was slackened, but not enough. It
could not stop before the danger-point was reached. Then came a crash,
and Myles was flung forward on the hard road-bed.

Bruised and sadly shaken, but with unbroken bones, he picked himself up
and turned to look at the wreck. The car also seemed shaken, but, to
his surprise, it was still whole and serviceable. There was yet hope
if he only could get it over this place and again on the track. His
excitement lent him strength, and by a mighty effort he accomplished
that which, under ordinary circumstances, two men would have found
difficult.

[Illustration: THE CAR PLUNGED FORWARD, TURNED COMPLETELY OVER, AND
CRUSHED POOR MYLES BENEATH IT. (_Page 213._)]

Once more the car was ready for its onward flight. As it started Myles
heard shouts, and, looking back, saw men running and beckoning to him.
At the same moment he heard the far-away whistle of a locomotive ahead
of him. He bent to the crank, and in another minute his pursuers lost
sight of the car and the one straining figure that it bore.

Now it approached the Horseshoe curve. Yes, Myles remembered the place
perfectly. The track looked all right. The sun had risen and he could
see the line plainly. Perhaps the place from which the rails were torn
was the trap, and he had passed it. Perhaps he was on hand and with
time to spare.

Suddenly the rails of the track seemed to give from under him. The car
plunged forward, turned completely over, and crushed poor Myles beneath
it in such a manner that he was powerless to move. As he lay there he
heard, loud, clear, and close at hand, the shrill whistle and the roar
of an approaching train.



CHAPTER XV.

THE 50TH REGIMENT, N. G. S. N. Y.


THE speed at which Myles was going when the accident happened was so
great that both he and the hand-car were flung clear off the track.
They landed in a pile of soft earth, but, as already related, Myles
lay beneath the car with his arms so pinned down by it that he was
perfectly helpless and unable to move. As he lay there half-stunned,
and panting for breath after his recent exertions, the roar of the
approaching train grew louder and louder, until it seemed close upon
him. He could hear the labored puffing of the locomotive as it toiled
up the long grade. Now it came so distinctly that he knew the head of
the train had rounded the sharp curve and was in sight of the place
where he lay.

Oh for one moment of liberty in which to spring up and warn them of the
danger so close at hand! Where were their eyes? Could they not see the
wreck of his car and be warned by it? Was he too late after all? Would
the train keep on until it, too, struck the treacherous rails that,
with every spike drawn, had spread beneath him?

In this agony of helpless apprehension the seconds seemed minutes and
the minutes hours. Suddenly came the short, imperative blast of the
whistle that said as plainly as words, “Danger ahead! Down brakes!”
It was instantly followed by the grinding sound of the powerful
air-brakes, and in another moment the train had stopped not fifty feet
from where Myles lay.

He was in time. His “fool-hardiness,” as the corporal at Mountain
Junction had termed it, had prevailed, and the long train, with its
precious human freight, was safe. With a great sigh of relief the
burden of anxiety that he had borne for hours passed from him. He
became aware of a feeling of faintness, and wearily closed his eyes.

He did not lose consciousness, for he heard a voice exclaim:

“Hello! here’s a man under this car.”

“Well, get him out,” said another, with a sharp tone of authority. “He
is probably one of the rascally strikers who planned this mischief,
and then got caught in his own trap. Carry him to the baggage-car and
see that he does not get away. I will investigate his case directly.
Now look lively here with those spikes and hammers.”

Myles was lifted by half a dozen active young fellows clad in a
close-fitting gray uniform and carried back to the train, where he
was laid on the floor of the baggage-car, with his head on a roll of
blankets. Even as they started with him he heard the ringing blows
of the spike-hammers, and almost as soon as they laid him down the
loosened rails were securely re-fastened and the train was ready to
proceed.

Myles was surprised to find that he did not suffer any pain denoting
broken bones. He wondered if he were able to sit up, and, by trying,
found that he was. In short, with the exception of feeling stiff and
sore and bruised, and lame in every joint, he was all right. He was
only a little shaky, and he next proceeded to stand up to assure
himself that he could do that also. Here the gray-jacketed soldier who
guarded him concluded that his prisoner was getting altogether too
active, and sternly ordered him to sit still and keep quiet.

Myles looked at him with indignant amazement. Was this the kind of
treatment a fellow had to expect in return for risking his own life
and limbs to save those of these chaps? He was about to express
himself pretty forcibly on the subject, when the car door was opened
and a soldierly-looking man, with an iron-gray mustache and wearing
the eagles of a colonel on his shoulder-straps, entered. The guard
presented arms and the colonel touched his cap in acknowledgment of the
salute. Then stepping briskly up to Myles he said:

“Well, sir, who are you? and what is the meaning of all this? Do you
know that you have committed a State-prison offense, and that hanging
would be no more than you deserve?”

“What is my offense?” asked Myles, quietly, still sitting on the roll
of blankets.

“Don’t bandy words with me, sir; but answer my questions at once. Who
are you?”

Myles gazed calmly into the colonel’s face, but remained silent.

“Will you answer me, sir, or will you not?” cried the colonel, flushing
angrily beneath the other’s steady stare.

“Perhaps I will and perhaps I will not,” replied Myles, whose very
calmness betrayed the tumult of his feelings. “It depends entirely upon
what authority you can show for asking them, and the manner in which
they are put. So long as you see fit to insult me I shall only answer
you with silence.”

The audacity of this speech fairly took away the colonel’s breath, and
he stared at Myles in speechless amazement. Before he could recover
himself the car door again opened. The figure that entered this time
was not clad in uniform, but the guard allowed it to pass without
hesitation.

Turning, and recognizing the new-comer, the colonel exclaimed:

“Here is a case that will interest you, sir. It will make a capital
paragraph for your paper. Of all the strikers, train-wreckers, and
other rascally characters I ever met this one has the most monumental
impudence and brazen assurance. Why, what do you think—”

But the colonel never finished his remark, for Myles, who had gained
his feet, here interrupted him with:

“Hello, Billings, old man!”

“Am I a Dutchman or am I not!” cried Billings, for it was indeed he,
as he sprang past the colonel and grasped his friend’s hand. “The voice
is that of Myles Manning, while the face and general get-up is that of
a mud-lark. What are you doing here? and what is the meaning of this
melancholy aspect?”

“That is what this military gentleman with the unfortunate manner has
been trying to find out,” replied Myles, with a grim smile.

“Military gentleman? Unfortunate manner?” repeated Billings, in a
perplexed tone. “Perhaps there is some misunderstanding between you
two. Colonel Pepper, allow me to present my friend, Mr. Manning, of the
_Phonograph_. Colonel Pepper is in command of the 50th Regiment, N. G.
S. N. Y. X. Z., etc., and, if I do say it to his face, as I shouldn’t,
is one of the best fellows to be found outside of a newspaper office.”

“A friend of yours, did you say, Mr. Billings?” asked the colonel,
doubtfully.

“Of course he is, and, what is more, a fellow-reporter. Why, he is out
here doing the strike for the _Phono_.”

“Well, Mr. Manning,” said the colonel, heartily, and extending his
hand, “I sincerely beg your pardon for mistaking you for a striker—and
a mischievous one at that—and treating you accordingly. But why in the
name of common-sense didn’t you disclose your identity at once?”

“Partly because you didn’t give me a chance, sir, and partly because I
felt hurt—”

“Felt hurt!” interrupted Billings, to whom the conversation seemed to
be taking altogether too serious a tone. “Well, your feelings must
correspond with your looks then. For a more torn, tattered, battered,
mud-bespattered, blood-stained, and generally seedy-looking individual
than you are at this moment I never saw.”

“Then you consider me excusable for mistaking Mr. Manning for a
striker?” asked the colonel, with a smile.

“Excusable, colonel? Certainly I do! You would be excusable for
mistaking him for any thing, from a relation to a politician,” answered
Billings, laughing. “But, look here, Manning, you haven’t told us a
word yet of how you happened to be a total wreck out here in the woods.
I heard something about a car off the track and a striker found under
it, but I was eating a sort of a make-believe ham-sandwich breakfast
just then. We have stopped so often for wrecked cars and missing rails
that I didn’t consider it worth while to let up on the Sam Handwich
just to look after it. Thus I only just this moment found time to come
and spy out the villain, and, behold, you are he.”

“Your mention of missing rails,” said Myles, “reminds me that two are
gone from the track just about where we now are. I passed over the
place not half an hour ago.”

“Then excuse me for a moment,” said the colonel, while I go and order a
sharp lookout.”

As he left the car the locomotive uttered its warning call for brakes.
In another minute the train was at a stand-still, and several men
were stripping off their clothing preparatory to diving in the stream
alongside the track to search for the missing rails.

“That’s the way it goes,” sighed Billings, resignedly. “We’ve done
nothing but make tracks for the last two days. But come, old man, now’s
the chance to spin your yarn; out with it. All communications with a
stamp enclosed regarded as strictly confidential, you understand.”

So Myles told his story in as few words as possible, beginning with
the capture of Lieutenant Easter’s command and ending with his own
thrilling ride of that morning.

As he finished Billings sprang to his feet, and, seizing his friend’s
hand, shook it warmly, exclaiming with a seriousness unusual to him:

“My dear fellow, you are a perfect trump; a full-fledged hero—with
wings and tail-feathers well developed! And to think that these duffers
should have taken you for a striker after what you did for them. It’s
no wonder you look tough after what you’ve gone through; but it’s an
honorable toughness, and every splotch of mud on your face is honorable
mud. You just wait till I tell the boys of the 50th what a _Phonograph_
reporter has done for them. If they don’t give you three fizz-booms and
a Bengal tiger, then I’m a brass monkey, that’s all.”

“Oh, no,” protested Myles, “don’t tell them. It isn’t any thing to make
a fuss about.”

“Isn’t it? Well, we’ll just give the boys a chance to express an
opinion about that,” laughed Billings, with a touch of his old drawling
manner as he left the car.

Myles still remained in the baggage-car, and the guard posted there
when he was first brought in, but not yet relieved, now stepped up to
him and said in a manly fashion:

“I could not help overhearing what you were talking about just now, Mr.
Manning, and, if you will let me, I shall be proud to shake hands with
you. It isn’t every day that I meet with the fellow who is willing to
risk his own life for mine, and when I do I like to know him.”

What Billings told of his exploits Myles never knew, but while he was
shaking hands with his guard the car door flew open and the “boys” came
rushing in. Privates and men with shoulder-straps, all were eager for a
look at and a word with the _Phonograph_ reporter who had rendered them
so great a service that morning.

They crowded the car almost to suffocation, and still not a tenth part
of those who wished to get in could do so. Everybody wanted to shake
hands with him. Everybody wanted in some way to thank him. Among them
were several old X—— College men, proud to claim him as a fellow.
They had been proud of Myles Manning, captain of the ’Varsity crew;
now they were still prouder of Myles Manning, the _Phonograph_ reporter.

Poor Myles was overwhelmed and bewildered. He knew not what to say nor
how to act. His embarrassment was becoming painful, when way was made
for the colonel. He said:

“Come, boys, this will do for the present. Clear out now and give the
brave fellow room to breathe. The 50th shall have a chance to show him
what they feel on this subject, I give you my word on it.”

When the last one had gone the colonel turned to Myles, and said:

“Mr. Manning, it would be useless for me to attempt to thank you for
your splendid action this morning, either on my own behalf or that of
the regiment I have the honor to command. There are no words to express
such a gratitude as we feel. What you did any soldier might be proud
to have done, and its results will follow you through life. You have
within an hour made a thousand life-long friends. Now, sir, if you will
honor the 50th by becoming its guest we shall be proud to entertain you
as such during our stay in this part of the country.”

Myles had no idea of what he said in reply to these kind words; but it
must have been the right thing, for the colonel thanked him and seemed
much pleased.

Then the whistle announced their approach to Mountain Junction, and the
colonel, exacting a promise from Myles that he would not leave the car
until he came for him, bowed and hurried away.

The town that had been so silent and deserted when Myles left it a
few hours before was now filled with people, and a great crowd of
sullen-faced strikers, grimy miners, men, women, and children, were
gathered about the railway-station to witness the arrival of the
famous New York regiment. As the train rolled slowly up to the station
it presented a fine sight, and one calculated to impress the boldest
strikers as a picture of disciplined force that was not to be trifled
with.

The locomotive seemed covered with erect, resolute-looking young
fellows in gray. They stood thick on the running-boards. They crowded
the cab, and each held his musket in a sturdy grasp, with its gleaming
bayonet pointed at an angle downward. The enemy need be many and bold
who would dare charge that thick-set hedge of prickly steel. Each
platform of every car in the long train was guarded in a similar
manner. It was, as Billings, who had returned to the baggage-car,
quaintly expressed it to Myles, “A sign that read, ‘No boarders need
apply.’”

Through the open windows the crowd could see that every seat was filled
with men in gray, each grasping a ready musket. It was fearful to
imagine what a withering, death-dealing sheet of flame and storm of
bullets might in an instant leap from those open windows at a single
word of command. The crowd instinctively recoiled from them, and a
great silence fell upon it.

As the train stopped a squad of men sprang from each car and cleared
spaces in which the companies might form. Then the gray columns poured
forth quietly, steadily, and without a break until the ten companies
were full and the regiment stood in line, rigid, motionless, and
expectant.

When all was in readiness the colonel came to the door of the car, from
a window of which Myles and Billings had watched the forming troops,
and said:

“Now, Mr. Manning, will you let me introduce you to my boys?”

[Illustration: THE NEXT MOMENT HE FOUND HIMSELF STANDING ON THE
PLATFORM BESIDE THE COLONEL. (_Page 227._)]

Myles hesitated. He had dared face death in the heat of that exciting
race against time; but to face a thousand men was quite another thing.

It was Billings who urged him on by saying:

“Come, old man, don’t keep the music waiting. They’ve got to toot or
burst.”

The next moment he found himself standing on the platform beside the
colonel, while on that of the adjoining car stood Billings, smiling
affably, and evidently prepared to receive any honors that might be
showered upon him.

“Men of the 50th,” said the colonel, in a loud, clear voice, that was
distinctly heard by every one of those before him, “I have the honor of
presenting to you a New York reporter who has rendered to us this day
the greatest service one human being may render unto his fellows. His
name is—” the colonel paused, lifted his hand, and with a mighty roar,
startling in its suddenness and volume, the thousand throats of the
regiment took the words from his mouth and shouted as one man.

“M-y-l-e-s M-a-n-n-i-n-g. Fizz-fizz-fizz, boom-boom-boom, Ti-_gah!_”

As the great shout rolled away among the listening mountains a sharp
word of command rang out, and was echoed from company to company along
the whole line. The band struck up “For he’s a jolly good fellow,”
and, marching as proudly as though under the eyes of the President of
the United States, the superb, glittering regiment passed in review
before bruised, ragged, mud-stained Myles Manning. Each company as it
passed him presented arms, and the gleaming sword of each officer was
raised in salute. It was not until they had all gone by that poor Myles
remembered that in his bewilderment he had not acknowledged a single
salute.

Billings had, though; and for whatever his fellow-reporter left undone
the little man’s appreciative smiles and graceful hat-liftings amply
atoned.



CHAPTER XVI.

RECALLED AND DISMISSED.


AFTER the unexpected honor shown him by the boys of the 50th, Myles,
accompanied by Billings, went to the hotel, where they both enjoyed the
luxury of a much-needed bath. When they were ready to dress, Billings,
gazing ruefully at his soiled linen, called out to Myles:

“I say, old man, haven’t you got a clean shirt to lend a fellow!”

“Why, yes,” replied Myles, “of course I can lend you one, but—”
here he held out the garment in question, and looked at it
doubtfully—“don’t you think it will be a little large for you?”

“Oh, that’s all right,” answered Billings, cheerfully. “I always like
my things loose and roomy.”

He certainly had what he liked in this case; for, when arrayed in the
shirt and one of Myles’ standing collars, which was three sizes too
large, there was little to be seen of him below the eyes that twinkled
merrily over the edge of the encircling linen. When, thus enveloped,
he appeared on the street, he was everywhere greeted with roars of
laughter. It came to be considered a fine joke among his tall friends
of the 50th to catch hold of this collar, pull it up, and, gazing down
into it as if in search of him, to call out:

“Hello, little one! Come up here a minute, I want to speak to you.”

For answer Billings, making a telescope of his hands, and gazing
vaguely upward, would shout back:

“No, I guess not, thank you. It looks pretty cold up there in the
clouds.”

Within an hour after the arrival of the New York troops, Mountain
Junction underwent a marvellous change. Its streets were quiet
and orderly, its saloons closed, and a cordon of slowly pacing,
gray-uniformed sentinels completely encircled the great area containing
the property of the railroad company. The regiment was quartered in
one of the roomy car-shops, and during the four days that it remained
there not a man below the grade of captain was permitted to stroll
beyond the sentry line except under orders. The telegraph wires were
repaired, and Colonel Pepper announced publicly that on and after that
date passenger-trains, strongly guarded, would be run regularly both
east and west from that point. The strikers were not to be molested, or
interfered with in any way, unless they undertook to obstruct travel
or destroy property, but they would do either of these things at their
peril. He also gave notice that a train would leave Mountain Junction
for New York that afternoon.

In the meantime Myles had been so fully occupied with the stirring
events of the day, that it was not until he and Billings were in the
hotel together that he thought to ask the latter how long he intended
remaining at Mountain Junction, and whether he brought any orders from
the office for him.

“Why, yes,” replied Billings, “that reminds me that I have a note
for you from Mr. Haxall. My orders are to remain here as long as the
regiment does, and to return with it. Here’s your note now.”

Opening it Myles read:

 “MR. MANNING:

 “Upon receiving this note from Mr. Billings you will return to New
 York and report at this office immediately. Mr. Billings will furnish
 what money is needed to meet your current expenses.

 “Yours etc.,

 “J. HAXALL, _City Editor_.”

“That’s too bad,” said Billings, as Myles read this short but very
decided communication aloud. “I thought you and I were to work together
here as we did at New London. Well, it can’t mean anything, except that
Joe has got some better job for you. It must be something important
too. But of course you won’t think of starting before to-morrow?”

“The note says ‘immediately,’” replied Myles.

“Yes, I know; but even then it can’t mean that a fellow who has been
through what you have to-day, and is all knocked up, should set off on
the road again without a chance to pull himself together. Why, you can
get a doctor’s certificate that you are not fit to travel, and won’t be
for several days.”

“A doctor’s certificate might satisfy Mr. Haxall, but it would not
satisfy me,” replied Myles, with a faint smile. “I know that I am
perfectly well able to travel, and that the ride to New York won’t hurt
me any more than staying here.”

Nothing that Billings could say had any effect upon this determination,
and when, a few hours later, a train, guarded by a full company of
the 50th, was made up for New York, Myles was among its passengers.
A number of his new-found soldier friends crowded about him, full of
regret at his departure, and urging him to remain with them at least
for that night. To them Myles only answered that he was under orders as
well as they, and must obey them.

The train was ready to start. The conductor was shouting “All aboard!”
and Billings was bidding his friend good-bye, when Myles suddenly
exclaimed:

“Oh, Billings, I owe the telegraph operator here fifty dollars. He
loaned it to me yesterday, and since then I haven’t had a chance to see
him. Will you find and thank him for me, and tell him I will write, and
return the money as soon as I reach New York?”

“All right!” shouted Billings, as he stepped from the moving train.
“That and all other commissions executed by yours truly, at moderate
charge.”

The captain commanding the escort that accompanied the train
came and sat down beside the young reporter. He was a quiet but
determined-looking fellow, as sun-browned and broad-shouldered
as Myles himself. His intelligent conversation served to banish
the anxious thoughts that on account of his unexpected recall were
beginning to oppress the latter. Myles could not help contrasting his
manner with the boastful swagger of Lieutenant Easter and the neat gray
uniform worn by his present companion with the gorgeous plumage of the
other. He interested the captain, whose name was Ellis, by describing
the capture of the train on which he had ridden the day before, and
the comical plight to which its escort had been reduced. When he told
Captain Ellis that the assistant division superintendent had also been
made a prisoner and carried off by the strikers the other said:

“He must have escaped then, for I heard of him in his uncle’s office
just before we started. The colonel was talking to the superintendent,
and, as I went in for final instructions, I heard the latter say that
his assistant had only just returned from a trip over the western
division and that——”

“The superintendent!” exclaimed Myles. “The division superintendent? Is
he at Mountain Junction?”

“Yes, he came in on a special a few minutes before we left and
reported that no new damage had been done to the track.”

This was startling information to Myles, for it recalled the fact,
which he had utterly forgotten, that he still had the key of the safe.

Supposing the superintendent should even now be asking for it and Ben
should be obliged to confess that it was not in his possession. What
would be the result? Of what might not poor Ben be suspected? He had
not dreamed of such a complication as this. Why had he been such a fool
as to insist upon having that key anyhow? After all, it was none of his
business to try to guard the company’s property in that way. If they
trusted Ben and he was unworthy, that was their own affair. Now what
was to be done?

So occupied was Myles with this train of thought that his companion
asked him a question unheeded; and, thinking it had not been heard
above the noise of the cars, he repeated it.

“I beg your pardon,” said Myles, starting from his reverie, “did you
speak?”

“I only asked if you ever met the division superintendent?”

“No, I never did. But I have got the key to his safe, and was
wondering how I could return it most quickly.”

“That is curious,” said the captain. “Was it intrusted to your keeping
for fear lest the strikers might get hold of it?”

“Yes—that is, not exactly. It was intrusted to my keeping, but not
wholly on account of the strikers,” replied Myles, with some confusion.
“You see, I can’t tell you how it came into my possession without
breaking a promise, but if it is not returned at once I am afraid
trouble will result.”

“Does not the division superintendent know that you have it?” asked the
captain, with an air of surprise.

“No; that’s just it; and I wouldn’t have him know it if it could be
helped.”

The captain was more than ever puzzled by this, but was far too polite
to give utterance to his thoughts.

“You might return it by express,” he suggested.

“So I might,” said Myles, brightening at the thought. “Yes, that’s what
I’ll do. I’ll send it back by express from the first station.”

With this he drew the troublesome key from his pocket, where it
had remained for two days unthought of, and the captain gazed at it
curiously. They hunted up some brown wrapping-paper and did the key up
in a package that was left with the express agent at the next station.
It was directed to the Assistant Superintendent, Western Division, A. &
B. R. R., and the charges on it were paid.

“There is no danger but that it will get there all right?” asked Myles,
anxiously, of the agent.

“Oh, no,” was the reply. “Thanks to these gentlemen,” nodding to the
gray-uniformed soldiers outside, “trains are running pretty regularly
now. Our matter goes through all right, anyhow, whenever there is any
thing to carry it, for the strikers haven’t any fight with the express
company. They only stop freight and passengers.”

So having satisfied himself that he had done the best thing under the
circumstances, Myles returned to the train and dismissed the matter
from his mind.

Captain Ellis, with his command, left the train at the eastern end of
the Central Division, where they were to remain until the following
day, and then return to Mountain Junction. It was quite late at night
when Myles bade these friends good-bye. Soon afterward he arranged
himself as comfortably as possible in the car seat and fell asleep.
When he next awoke his train was nearing New York and a boy was calling
the morning papers close beside him.

Myles bought a _Phonograph_, curious to read the news of the great
strike; for, though he was so well acquainted with what had taken place
at and near Mountain Junction, it was four days since he had seen a
daily paper, and he knew nothing of occurrences in other parts of the
country. What was the heading of the first column on the first page?
Was he reading it rightly? He went over it again slowly. Yes, there was
no mistake. The heading was as plain as type could make it, and it was:
“The Great Railroad Strike. Arrival of the 50th Regiment, N. G. S. N.
Y. at Mountain Junction. Thrilling Details of their Trip. Daring Deed
of a _Phonograph_ Reporter. A Terrible Disaster Averted by his Ready
Wit and Prompt Action. The Regiment Appreciates his Service.”

What could it all mean? Could these flattering words refer to him and
what he had done? Yes, they could and did. As he read down the long
column he found his own name mentioned more than once. There was a
full, though perhaps slightly exaggerated, account of his ride, the
wreck of his hand-car, the stopping of the train in consequence just in
time, and the subsequent scene at Mountain Junction.

How fine it all looked in print! How much more daring and splendid the
whole affair seemed now than it had twenty-four hours before, when he,
stunned and bruised, was being told that he deserved to be hanged!

“Good for you, Billings, old man! Wait till I get a chance to tell the
public what a splendid fellow you are, and what fine fellows all we
reporters are any way. Perhaps we won’t be sneered at now so much as we
have been.”

Thus thinking, and filled with a very pardonable pride, Myles read and
re-read the story. As the train rolled into the station and he stepped
from it he wondered if people would stare at him and point him out to
each other. He wished he could meet some acquaintance who would call
him by name; for, of course, everybody had read the account of his
doings and would recognize _the_ Myles Manning at once. How strange
that people should be going about their every-day business as if it
were the one thing in the world of importance, and great events, worthy
of record in the newspapers, were not happening! How commonplace and
trivial the things that interested them seemed to him now, in the light
of what had so recently taken place!

His first plan was to go directly to the _Phonograph_ office. No, it
was too early. Nobody would be there yet. Then he thought he would go
to his room, get a change of clothing, and make himself presentable.
Would it not be more effective, though, to appear in the office still
bearing signs of his late experience? Myles thought it would. He would
first get breakfast at a restaurant and then decide what to do next.

By the way, supposing they should see the paper at home? Of course
they would, or had by this time. He had subscribed for it and ordered
it sent to them when he first became a reporter. What a state of mind
they would be in! He ought to telegraph them at once. Acting upon
this impulse he stopped at the first telegraph station and sent the
following dispatch to his mother:

 “Do not be anxious. Am safe. Will be out to-night.

  “MYLES.”

There, that would allay their anxiety, and it was neatly done in just
ten words. He wrote “Will be out to-night” because it was Saturday, and
he meant to spend the following day at home.

Now for breakfast. In the restaurant an intelligent-looking gentleman
sat on the opposite side of his table. He had no morning paper, and
Myles offered him the _Phonograph_, anxious to see what effect that
first-column story would have upon him. The gentleman thanked him
politely, took the paper, glanced carelessly through it, and returned
it without comment.

“Exciting story of the strike, isn’t?” ventured Myles.

“Didn’t notice it,” answered the other. “I’m tired of all these
strikes, and never waste time reading about them. Life’s too short.”

Myles replied: “Yes, that is so.” But he thought: “What a stupid
fellow!”

After all he reached the _Phonograph_ office before any of the other
reporters. Mr. Haxall sat in the great room alone. He glanced up from
his papers as Myles entered and said:

“Ah, Mr. Manning, that you? Step here a moment, please.”

“Now for a real triumph,” thought Myles. “He must say something in
praise for what I have done.”

“You have been absent from this office for five days at Mountain
Junction, I believe,” said Mr. Haxall.

“Yes, sir.”

“And in that time we have received but one dispatch from you?”

“Well, sir, I can explain—” began Myles, eagerly.

“Perhaps this is a sufficient explanation,” interrupted Mr. Haxall,
handing him a telegram.

It was: “Your reporter at Mountain Junction too drunk to send any news
to-night. Better replace him with a sober man.” And the telegram was
dated five days before.

Myles felt as though some one had struck him a blow full in the face.

“But, Mr. Haxall—” he began.

“This office can accept no excuse for such a neglect of duty as that,
Mr. Manning,” said the city editor. “I am very sorry, but I am obliged
to ask you to please hand the key of your desk to Mr. Brown.”



CHAPTER XVII.

THE BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD.


MYLES stood for a moment motionless in front of Mr. Haxall’s desk
like one who is dazed. Gradually the full meaning of the words, “Hand
the key of your desk to Mr. Brown,” dawned upon him. He was dismissed
from the paper; dismissed for drunkenness and neglect of duty while
under orders. He, Myles Manning, the son of a gentleman, and who had
always considered himself one, had been drunk, and, because of it, the
position which he had been so proud of, so confident of retaining, was
no longer his. It was terrible; but, alas! it was true.

Without a word he turned away and went to his own desk. His own desk?
No; it was his no longer. Some other fellow, who could keep sober
and perform his duty faithfully, would have it now. Mechanically he
unlocked the drawer and began to take from it the treasures that had
accumulated there: a rough copy of the first thing he ever wrote for
the paper, the unfinished manuscript of a special article that he had
hoped would win him a name in journalism, a few precious home letters.

While he was thus engaged one of the office-boys laid some mail matter
before him. He glanced it over. A loving letter from his mother, full
of anxiety as to where he was and what he was doing. They had not heard
from him in so long. Kate and his father sent dearest love. They were
having a hard struggle with poverty; but they were so proud of him, he
was doing so splendidly, that thinking and talking of him kept them
cheerful.

Myles thrust this letter into his pocket with a groan. There was a long
letter from Van Cleef, full of what he was doing, enlivened by gay bits
of description of life at summer resorts. He would be back next week.
A note from his old gentleman friend of the Oxygen, asking his dear
proxy to dine at the club with him that evening. It was dated that very
morning. Then a telegram. It was from Billings, and read:

 “Operator says some mistake. Never loaned you any money. Tried to, but
 you refused. B. W. in town. Furious against you. Do not know what for.
 Shall I thrash him in your name? Answer.

  “BILLINGS.”

This message diverted Myles’ gloomy thoughts for a moment. If the
telegraph operator had not loaned him the money, who had? Here was
a mystery. Well, whoever it was would claim his own fast enough. He
would have to wait, though. As well try to extract blood from a stone
as money from him now. He was not only penniless, but hopeless of ever
earning another cent.

Now a couple of reporters came in. They had read the morning’s papers
and were full of enthusiasm over the brave deed of one of their number.
Seeing Myles at his desk they rushed up to congratulate him. This was
more than the poor fellow could bear, and, hastily gathering up his
papers, he hurried from the office, laying his key on Mr. Brown’s desk
as he passed it.

The two reporters stared after him amazed and indignant.

“It is curious how stuck up some folks can get with a little
notoriety,” said one.

“Yes,” replied the other, “too stuck up to accept congratulations
from ordinary every-day chaps like us. Well, the next time he may
congratulate himself, but you can safely depend upon it that I won’t
run the risk of another such snub from him.”

As Myles went down stairs he thought he might as well collect his
week’s salary, and stepped into the cashier’s office to do so. The
usual little brown envelope was handed to him, and he put it into his
pocket without stopping to open it there.

Arrived at his own room he locked the door and gave way to his grief,
mortification, and anger. Nobody ever had such hard luck as he; nobody
was ever so shamefully treated. Mr. Haxall was a monument of injustice
and tyranny. How he hated him! How he hated everybody! Thus he raved to
himself as he paced furiously up and down the narrow limits of his room.

Thus an hour was passed, and still the tumult raged. He was desperate.
He knew not which way to turn, and could see no hope in any direction.
Should he go home? Should he stay in the city and try for other work,
or should he fly to some distant part of the country where he was
unknown, and begin all over again? Each of these plans was rejected
as soon as thought of. He could not go home and change their hope and
pride in him to shame and sorrow. No; he loved them too dearly for
that. There was no use in trying for a position on any other city
paper. The story of his disgrace would bar every office door. He could
not go to a distant city and start anew because he had no money with
which to travel. He had his week’s pay, to be sure; but how far would
such a pitiful sum take him? Hardly thinking of what he did he opened
the little brown envelope. A slip of paper fluttered to the floor. It
was the order on the cashier for the money he had drawn to pay his
expenses on his recent trip. As he had rendered no account of these
expenses, and as the sum thus drawn was far in excess of his week’s
salary, the cashier was obliged to charge the full amount to him and
withhold the salary as partial payment.

This last blow was too much. Myles flung himself on his bed and buried
his face in the pillows. How long he lay there, utterly forsaken,
prostrated, and hopeless, he never knew; but he was finally aroused by
a knock at his door.

He felt that he could not see anybody then, and did not answer it. He
hoped whoever it was would believe him to be out and go away; but the
knock was repeated.

“Who is it?” he called, in a gruff tone.

“It is I, Myles; your Sister Kate. Why don’t you open the door?”

Kate in the city! Kate there at his door! He couldn’t see her. He could
not let her see him in his present condition. No, he could not bear it.
He was about to tell her so and beg her to go away. Then the thought
that she might as well know the worst now as later caused him to change
his mind. He unlocked the door, and Kate Manning, happy-looking, and
flushed with exercise, entered.

“Oh, I’m so glad,” she began, and then, with a sudden change of tone
and in a shocked voice, “Why, Myles Manning, what is the matter? I
never saw any one look so dreadfully in all my life.”

“Probably you never met anybody who had such cause for feeling
dreadfully as I have,” replied Myles, as he placed a chair for his
sister and leaned gloomily against the mantel-shelf that nearly filled
one side of the little room.

[Illustration: HE LEANED GLOOMILY AGAINST THE MANTEL SHELF THAT NEARLY
FILLED ONE SIDE OF THE ROOM. (_Page 248._)]

“What do you mean, Myles? Sit down there on the bed and tell me all
about it at once,” commanded Kate, nervously pulling off her gloves as
she spoke.

Then Myles sat down and told her the whole miserable story, beginning
with the day he went to Mountain Junction and ending with the moment of
his present disgrace and wretchedness.

“You poor, poor, dear boy!” exclaimed Kate, as he finished, and with
her eyes full of sympathetic tears. “I never in my life heard of so
much trouble coming to one person all at once. There is one splendid
thing about it all, though.”

“Is there?” asked Myles, doubtfully. “What is that?”

“Why, after such a terrible experience you never, never, so long as you
live, will touch another drop of liquor; will you, dear?”

“I don’t think I’m likely to.”

“But promise me you won’t!”

“All right, Kate, I promise.”

“There! Now I am really glad it has all happened. But how splendidly
you saved that train! Why didn’t you tell Mr. Haxall about it? If you
had he couldn’t possibly have done more than to reprimand you. He
would never have dismissed you in the world.”

“He knew all about it,” replied Myles. “It’s all in the paper. Haven’t
you read the _Phonograph_ this morning?”

“No, I haven’t had a moment’s time to look at the papers to-day. Do you
mean that what you did is in the paper, with your name and all?”

For answer Myles handed her his copy of the _Phonograph_, and she read
eagerly at the place he pointed out. Her cheeks flushed as she read,
and when she finished she sprang up, and, throwing her arms about her
brother’s neck, exclaimed:

“It is simply wonderful, Myles! wonderful! And I should think you’d be
the proudest boy in New York City at this minute. Why, just because I
am your sister I am the proudest girl in it.”

“I suppose I was just a little proud before I went to the office this
morning,” said Myles, gently disengaging himself from his sister’s
embrace; “but I guess it was the sort of pride that goeth before a
fall. At any rate, I got my fall, and a pretty serious one it was too.”

“Oh, nonsense!” cried Kate, “What’s one fall? A man ought not to mind
such a thing as that. Do as you did when you were a little boy, pick
yourself up and run on again.”

“That’s easy enough to say, but hard to do. To begin with, I am
disgraced and penniless.”

“Penniless!” echoed Kate, ignoring the other word. “Well, I can remedy
that. It’s just what I came to tell you about. I went to the office
first, and they said you had gone home. So I came up here. There, sir;
now you are not penniless.”

While she spoke she had been unlocking a ridiculous little bag that
hung from her arm, and now, taking from it a roll of bills, she thrust
them into her brother’s hand.

“Why, Kate, what is this? Where did you get hold of so much money?”
exclaimed Myles.

“Earned it, sir!”

“Earned it! You earned it?”

“Yes. I have been trying for it all summer long. I’ve sent drawing
after drawing to every illustrated paper and magazine in the country,
and they have all been returned, until last week, when I had one
accepted at W—— ’s.”

“At W—— ’s!” interrupted Myles, to whom such a piece of good fortune
seemed almost incredible.

“Yes, sir, at W—— ’s. The very place of all others in which I most
wished to succeed, and where I had the least hope of doing so. They
sent a note saying that it was accepted, and I came in town this
morning to get the money for it. Twenty-five dollars they gave me. What
do you think of that? And it’s all yours, you dear old fellow you!
every cent of it. Oh, I’m so proud and glad that it came just at this
time, when you needed it so much! And they praised the drawing and gave
me an order for another. It is to illustrate a short story, and I’ve
got the manuscript here to take home and read and get an inspiration
from. Oh, Myles, why can’t you write stories and let me illustrate
them? It would be the most splendid thing in the world.

“So it would, but there is one important draw-back to such a scheme.”

“What?”

“My inability to write stories. You have proved that you are able to do
your part of such a work, and I have proved myself unable to do mine.
From what has happened to-day it is evident that I am not even fit for
a reporter’s position, and that is only the first stepping-stone in
literary work.”

“Myles Manning, you mustn’t talk so about yourself! You know you have
done splendidly ever since you began on the _Phonograph_, and if that
horrid Mr. Haxall wasn’t a perfect stupid, he’d know that he had done
a very foolish thing in letting you go. He will wish he had you back,
and try to get you too, some day; see if he don’t. Then what a triumph
it will be to be able to say: ‘No, I thank you, sir, I have found
something better to do.’”

“It is impossible to fancy myself saying any such thing,” answered
Myles, with a smile—the first that his face had worn in hours. “But,
Kate, it is you who have done splendidly, and it is I who ought to be
proud of having such a sister. I am proud, too, just as proud as I can
be, of you, but I can’t take your money, dear.”

“Oh, Myles, what shall I do with the hateful money if you don’t take
it? That is the one thing that makes money worth having—the power,
I mean, that it gives us to help those we love. Don’t take away this
great pleasure from me. Don’t, there’s a good boy.”

So these generous young souls struggled with each other, the one to
give, and the other against receiving the gift, until finally they
reached a compromise. Myles agreed to take ten dollars from his sister
as a loan, while she declared she should put the rest aside for his
use, and should not touch it so long as there was the slightest chance
of his needing it. Then they discussed plans for the future, and Kate
said:

“Why not be your own city editor, Myles, and give yourself interesting
assignments to work up? I’m sure there are lots of things people want
to know about, and if you would only write them up some of the papers
would be certain to take your articles—and pay you well for them too.”

“The trouble is there are so many fellows doing that very thing,”
answered Myles.

“Well, that is the trouble with every thing. There are quantities of
people doing the same thing in every kind of business. If you can only
do the same thing a little better than any one else though, or even as
well as half of them, you are sure to succeed.”

“A most wise and level-headed speech, sister of mine,” said Myles,
laughing, for his spirits were rapidly reviving under the influence
of Kate’s cheerfulness and loving sympathy. “I will think seriously of
your plan, and if nothing better turns up, why, perhaps I will make a
try at it.”

Then Myles told Kate of the note he had received that morning from his
“nice old Oxygen gentleman,” as they called him among themselves, and
said that he didn’t know but what he ought to accept the invitation for
that evening. “My friends are becoming so few that I must do some extra
cultivating of those who are left, you know,” he added, with an attempt
at cheerfulness.

“Aren’t you ashamed to say that your friends are becoming few, when
only yesterday you made a thousand new ones all at once?” replied Kate,
indignantly. “At the same time, I do think you ought to dine with your
Oxygen gentleman; who knows but what he may prove a fairy godfather
in disguise, and your future may turn from this very evening! Yes,
decidedly, you must go and dine with him, and you can come out home on
the midnight train. In the meantime I shall have told father and mother
all about you, so that they may be prepared to receive you with due
honor.”

“Be sure you tell them every thing,” said Myles, “for if you don’t
I shall. I am not going to row this race under any but my own true
colors.”

“Yes, of course, I shall have to mention the one little neglect of duty
that Mr. Haxall, hateful man! has made such a mountain of; but I think
it would be just as well, dear, not to say any thing about the other
cause of your being dismissed. It would only make them feel badly; and,
as such a thing can never possibly happen again, why, what is the use?”

Then sunny-faced Kate had to hurry away to catch her train, but she
left Myles so much happier and more hopeful than he was when she
knocked at his door that he could hardly realize how wretched he had
been.

“I tell you what,” he said to himself as he dressed for dinner, “a good
sister is one of the best things a fellow can have in this world.”

Myles reached the Oxygen some time before the hour set for dinner, and
was in the reading-room when his friend entered.

“My dear boy, I am very glad you were able to come,” said the old
gentleman, advancing toward him with outstretched hand and beaming
face. “I wanted to meet you this evening on purpose to congratulate
you. There, not a word! I know what your modesty prompts you to say;
but I read the whole story in the morning paper, and have felt proud
of my proxy all day. I hope the _Phonograph_ people have rated you a
handsome increase of salary in view of the glory you have shed upon
them.”

“On the contrary,” said Myles, “they have dismissed me from the paper.”

“Dismissed you? Impossible!”

“They did not find it so,” replied Myles; “but, to tell the truth, I
was not dismissed for what I did, but rather for what I did not do.”

“I am extremely sorry to hear it,” said the old gentleman; “extremely
sorry; but let us have dinner first, and talk it all over afterward;
things always look so much brighter after dinner than they do before
it.”

At the dinner-table Myles was in the very act of raising a glass of
wine to his lips when his promise to Kate darted into his mind. With a
flushed face he set the glass quickly down, saying, in answer to his
companion’s inquiring look, “I took a pledge to-day, sir, never again
to touch a drop of wine, and so you will please excuse me for not
breaking it.”

“Excuse you for not breaking it! My dear boy, I would never excuse you
if you did. It was a fine thing to do, and may you have the strength
to stick to that pledge through life! No young man can have a better
recommendation, when seeking to make his way in the world, than that he
is strictly temperate. I even place it ahead of a character for honesty
among my employés.”

“Do you, then, employ many men, sir?” asked Myles, with a vague hope
that something might come to him through this interview.

“Well, yes, a thousand or two, more or less,” replied the other,
laughing, “but not exactly in your line of business.”

“I don’t know that I have any line of business just at present,” said
Myles; and this brought them back to the subject of his dismissal from
the paper. The old gentleman asked such shrewd questions, and expressed
such genuine interest and sympathy, that, before he knew it, Myles was
telling him the whole story exactly as he had told it to Kate.

“The city editor was perfectly right,” said the old gentleman, when
Myles had finished; “and I should have done exactly as he did under
the circumstances. He could not have acted otherwise, in justice to
the paper or the other workers on it. Still, there were extenuating
circumstances. You have profited by your lesson and have done nobly
since. It seems to me that the paper will make a mistake if it loses
you. Suppose I go to see this city editor and talk the matter over with
him? Should you have any objections?”

“Certainly not,” answered Myles; “but I can tell you beforehand that it
won’t do the least bit of good. Mr. Haxall never allows himself to be
influenced by outsiders.”

“I shall try it, at any rate, and will let you know the result on
Monday,” said the kindly old gentleman. Then Myles was obliged to bid
him good-night and hurry off to catch the midnight train.



CHAPTER XVIII.

WHO ROBBED THE SAFE?


WHILE Myles Manning was struggling with one of the great trials of
his life in New York, events were taking place at Mountain Junction
in which he would have been greatly interested had he known of them.
In the first place, Ben Watkins’ uncle, the division superintendent,
had returned, and, with the powerful aid of the 50th Regiment, N. G.
S. N. Y., was proceeding vigorously against the railroad strikers in
that part of the country. Several leaders were arrested and locked up
to await trial, but Jacob Allen, who was supposed to be chief among
them, was not to be found, though every effort was made to discover
his hiding-place and a large reward was offered for his apprehension.
He had not been seen in town since the morning of his rescue from the
jail, and, though his little house was closely watched, it could not
be discovered that he had any communication with his family. Still,
the efforts for his capture were not relaxed, for the fall term of
court would open at Mountain Junction on the following Monday, and it
was deemed important that Allen’s case, together with those of his
associates, should then be tried.

The second event of interest to Myles was the return to town of Ben
Watkins himself, and the consequences that followed immediately upon
it. He had been released by the strikers who captured him, together
with Lieutenant Easter and his command, in a town about forty miles
away, and left at liberty to work his way back as best he could. This
he succeeded in doing, and he reached Mountain Junction about the same
time as his uncle.

Ben became greatly excited when he learned of his uncle’s return and
of Myles Manning’s departure. He inquired at the hotel office if the
latter had left any letter or package for him, and on being told that
he had not the young man broke forth into a torrent of abuse, not
only against Myles, but against all reporters, whom he denounced as
a prying, sneaking set of fellows, unfit to be admitted into decent
society.

All this was heard by several persons, including Billings, who,
concealed behind his immense shirt-collar, was sitting in the hotel
office. He listened quietly for a few minutes, but when Ben began to
include all reporters in his abuse the little man could no longer stand
it. He jumped up and, stepping squarely in front of the bully, declared
that he was a reporter, and demanded that the other make an instant
apology for his words, or prepare to suffer the consequences.

“And who will make me suffer, I should like to know?” cried Ben, gazing
with contempt upon the absurd figure cut by this champion of reporters.

“Perhaps I will,” answered Billings, affecting his languid drawl, “or
perhaps I will leave it to my friend, ‘Lord Steerem,’ don’t you know.”

“You impudent puppy!” screamed Ben in a fury, now recognizing Billings
as the reporter who had made him the laughing-stock of all New London.
“If you weren’t so small as to be beneath contempt I’d thrash you to
within an inch of your life. Now clear out of here before I hurt you,
and don’t you ever dare come in my way again.”

“I’m a little threshing-machine myself,” answered Billings, coolly,
“and I am geared up to just about your size, Mr. Bigman, So come on if
you dare. I don’t care that”—snapping his fingers in Ben’s face—“for
you or your bluster.”

Ben aimed a blow at him, which the reporter cleverly dodged. Before
there was a chance for another, the by-standers, who were vastly
entertained by Billings’ exhibition of pluck, rushed in and separated
the two, declaring that Ben ought to be ashamed of himself to strike at
a fellow not half his size.

Ben sulkily left the hotel, vowing vengeance against both Billings and
Myles, while the little man, who was prevented from following him,
entertained his captors with the story of “Lord Steerem,” the famous
coxswain.

The division superintendent was a harsh man, who entertained no
affection for his nephew, and had only given him his position because
he was his brother’s son. He suspected Ben’s unfitness for the place,
and had been on the point of discharging him several times. Now, when
Ben entered the office, he found his uncle greatly dissatisfied with
his conduct of affairs during the preceding four days.

“If it had not been for your overbearing manner and absurd display of
authority,” he said to Ben, “there would have been no serious outbreak
here, nor any destruction of the company’s property. Now I’ll trouble
you for the key to the safe.”

With all his known faults Ben had never been suspected of dishonesty by
his uncle, who was obliged to trust his assistant implicitly in many
things.

Ben hesitated a moment and then said that he had left the key in his
room for greater safety, and would be obliged to go there for it.

“A pretty place your room is to leave a thing of such value!” growled
the superintendent. “You should not have let it go out of your
possession for an instant.”

“I was afraid I might be robbed by the strikers,” answered Ben.

“Nonsense! The strikers are not the sort of fellows to rob individuals.
You ought to know that as well as I. Now hurry up and get the key. I
must have the books out of the safe at once.”

Ben left the office and in a few minutes returned. With a well assumed
air of agitation he said that the key was nowhere to be found, and
that it must have been stolen from his room during his absence from
town.

“Whom do you suspect of stealing it?” demanded his uncle.

“I don’t suspect anybody unless it is some of the strikers.”

“The strikers again! Always the strikers,” sneered the other. “Well,
sir, we will soon find out. If the key was stolen it was done for the
purpose of robbing the safe. I shall have the lock picked, and if any
thing is missing I will believe that the key was taken from your room
as you say. If every thing is all right in the safe I shall be forced
to believe that you have lost the key, and have trumped up this story
to conceal your carelessness. In that case the position of assistant
superintendent of this division will instantly become vacant, for I
shall have no further use for you.”

An hour later the lock was picked and the safe opened. The
superintendent carefully examined its contents, taking from it every
book and bundle of papers.

“Well, sir,” he said, turning to Ben after satisfying himself that
every thing was as he left it, “what have you to say now?”

“I don’t see any money package,” answered Ben, stooping and peering
into the empty safe.

“Money package! What money package?”

“One containing a thousand dollars that came by express from the
treasurer the day you went away. I receipted for it in your name and
locked it up in the safe, but it doesn’t seem to be there now.”

“No, I should say it wasn’t!” exclaimed the superintendent, rather
staggered by this proof that his nephew’s story of being robbed was
true, and, searching his face keenly, “You are sure there is no mistake
about that package?”

“Certainly not, sir. You will find a copy of the receipt I gave for it
in the blotter and the sum entered in the cash-book.”

Examination proved both of these statements to be true.

“Did you say that the money came from the treasurer’s office?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then one or more of the bills it contained must have been marked, for
that is a precaution I never knew the treasurer to neglect.”

A dispatch sent to the general office of the company, informing the
treasurer of the robbery and asking if any of the bills in that package
could be identified, set his clerks to examining a certain little
memorandum-book.

In a very short time a reply reached Mountain Junction. Yes, in package
number so and so, containing one thousand dollars, sent to the division
superintendent on such a date, one fifty-dollar bill was privately
marked in the manner usual with the treasurer.

On the following day the division superintendent spent several hours in
the only bank of Mountain Junction, where he and the cashier closely
examined every fifty-dollar bill among its deposits, but none bearing
the private mark of the treasurer of the railroad company was to be
found. Just as they had satisfied themselves of this the proprietor of
the principal hotel came in to make his weekly deposit of funds, which
he always did on Saturday.

After he had gone the cashier returned to the private office in which
the superintendent still sat.

“Here are two more fifties that have just come in,” he said. “Perhaps
you had better look at them.”

The first one was not marked, but the second! Yes, it bore the fatal
sign, a tiny red cross made in a spot where it would never be detected
unless a person knew just where to look for it.

“Then you’ve struck the trail at last?” said the cashier.

“Yes, and I’ll follow it up close while it is fresh,” answered the
superintendent. “What a bit of luck it is that this very bill should be
passed right here in town. Why, we’ll have the thief locked up inside
of three days.”

Then the superintendent went to the hotel, and taking the proprietor to
one side, asked him if he could recollect taking in any fifty-dollar
bills during the past week.

“Yes, I took in two of them, and have just now deposited them along
with some other money in the bank,” was the answer.

“Can you remember who gave them to you?”

“Oh, yes; one came from a drummer who left on Monday, the day before
the strike broke out, and the other came from a New York reporter, who
only went away yesterday.”

“Was there any unusual circumstance attending the receipt of either of
these bills?”

“No—why, yes, there was too! The reporter was an impudent young dog,
and didn’t have any money when I first asked him to pay his bill. He
was going out of town and I made him leave his watch as security.
The next morning he redeemed it and paid his bill with one of those
fifties.”

“Do you remember his name?”

“No; but it is on the register. Here it is. Manning; Myles Manning, New
York City. I think he was a friend of your nephew. Anyhow, they had
drinks together the night he came.”

“Will you kindly send a messenger to my office with word that I should
like to see my nephew here for a minute?”

“Certainly.”

When Ben came he found his uncle sitting with the landlord in the
latter’s room.

“Do you know a New York reporter named Manning?” was the first question
put to him.

“To be sure I do. He was in my class at X——, and was out here this
week doing the strike for the _Phonograph_.”

“What sort of a character does he bear?”

“Why, pretty fair, I believe; but of course I wouldn’t like to say any
thing against an old classmate.”

“In the present case if you know any thing about the young man it is
your duty to tell it. He is suspected of taking that thousand dollars.”

Ben gave a well-acted start of surprise.

“Oh, that can’t be,” he said. “Myles Manning would never do such a
thing as that. He may be a little wild, but he couldn’t be a thief.”

“What do you mean by a little wild?”

“Oh, takes an occasional drink and plays a game now and then.”

“Did you and he drink together the night he came here?”

“I believe we did have one or two glasses.”

“Did he get drunk?”

“No, not exactly what you might call drunk.”

“Did you play cards?”

“Yes, we had a game or two.”

“For money?”

“Yes.”

“Did Manning win?”

“Well, no, not exactly.”

“Did he lose?”

“I believe he did.”

“How much?”

“Pretty near all he had, I guess. At least he complained of being
cleaned out.”

“Did he complain of this to you?”

“Yes, and tried to borrow money of me to pay his hotel bill.”

“And you refused to lend it?”

“Yes. I told him I was short myself.”

“What did he say to that?”

“Oh, he got mad and said he was bound to have his money back some way.”

“Did you win his money?”

“No, sir.”

“Who did?”

“I think Lieutenant Easter must have won it, for he was the only one
playing with us.”

“While Manning was in your room did he know that the key of my safe was
in your possession?”

“I think he did.”

“What makes you think so?”

“Because it fell from my pocket when I drew out my handkerchief while
we were playing cards, and I said then that I guessed it was not safe
there, and that I should hide it in my room.”

“Did he see where you put it?”

“I don’t know, but he might have, for I had no thought of concealing it
from him.”

“Have you had any other cause to be suspicions of him?”

“Not in connection with the money.”

“In connection with any thing else, then?”

“Well, he did seem to be pretty thick with the strikers.”

“In what way?”

“In telling them of our plans. Both Lieutenant Easter and I thought he
told them of our plan to send a train through, and so gave them the
chance to capture it and us. Manning was with us, and when they asked
him what he was doing there, he produced a note from Jake Allen, which
said he was their friend and must be treated as such.”

“How did they treat him?”

“I don’t know; but he was the only one left behind when they carried us
off, and that looked very suspicious to me.”

“Well,” said the superintendent, “from all accounts this Manning is a
fellow who will bear pretty close watching. I won’t say yet that he
robbed my safe, but I must confess things begin to look that way. I
wish you would show me your room, Ben, and the one Manning occupied
while he was here.”

So the superintendent, his nephew, and the landlord went up to No. 16,
where Ben showed the corner of a bureau drawer in which he said the key
had been hidden. Then they went to the room that had been Myles’, only
three doors away. In answer to their knock Billings’ voice shouted:
“Come in!” He now occupied it, and was sitting up by the window writing.

“Excuse the intrusion,” said the landlord, “but these gentlemen have a
particular reason for wishing to see this room, and I thought perhaps
you would not mind.”

“Oh, not at all,” answered Billings, scowling at Ben. “I will leave and
let them have it all to themselves if they say so.”

They did not say so, and he did not leave, but sat watching them
closely and wondering what they were up to.

Ben in particular seemed anxious to examine every article of furniture
in the room very closely. He looked behind the bureau and peered under
the wash-stand.

“What do you expect to find?” asked his uncle.

“I don’t expect to find any thing, but I thought it just possible that
he might have hidden the envelope somewhere in this room if he took it.
Of course he didn’t, though. He wouldn’t do such a thing. Hello! what’s
this?”

As Ben uttered this exclamation he was gazing intently at the floor
close to one wall of the room and near the door.

“What’s what? I don’t see any thing,” said his uncle, looking at the
floor.

“Neither do I,” replied Ben, “but I just trod on something that felt
like paper under the carpet.”

“Of course,” broke in the landlord, “we always put paper under our
carpets.”

“But this has a peculiar feeling, like an extra thickness of paper.”

“Why don’t you look under the carpet, then, and see what it is?” asked
the superintendent.

“I would rather not, uncle. He is my friend, you know.”

“Nonsense! I hope he isn’t your friend if what we suspect of him is
true. But step out of the way and let me see what wonderful discovery
you have made. It is probably only a crease in the floor paper.”

So saying the superintendent stooped, inserted his hand beneath the
edge of the carpet and drew forth the identical express envelope that
the package of missing bills had come in.

The three looked at each other without a word, while Billings pretended
to have resumed his writing.

When they were again in the landlord’s room the superintendent said:

“Proof is accumulating so fast against this Manning that I shall
procure a warrant, send it on to our New York detective, and have him
arrested.”

“Oh, uncle, don’t do it?” exclaimed Ben. “Remember that he is a
gentleman, and that a thing of this kind would ruin him.”

“Your kind heart does you credit, Ben, but in a case of this sort
mercy must give way to justice. Yes, it is clearly my duty to have him
arrested. At the same time I shall write out a full account of the
affair and send it to the president of the road, so that he will get it
the first thing Monday morning. He can then decide what is to be done.”

The superintendent did as he proposed, and his letter was the first one
President Walker Saxon, of the A. & B. Road, saw lying on his desk as
he entered his office Monday morning. He had intended stopping at the
office of the _Phonograph_, in which he was a stockholder, and speaking
to the city editor about Myles Manning, but as it was early he changed
his mind and decided that he would first go to his own office and
glance over the mail.

At the same time a dispatch directed to Myles lay uncalled for in the
city room of the _Phonograph_. It came from Billings, and was:

 “Look sharp, old man. Suspect B. W. is making trouble for you here.
 Do not know yet what it is, but will post you as soon as I get on the
 inside track. Pretty sure I shall have to thrash him yet.”



CHAPTER XIX.

REINSTATED AND ARRESTED.


TOTALLY unconscious of the storm arising so rapidly on his horizon, and
the evidence that was being accumulated to prove him a thief, Myles
Manning journeyed homeward that Saturday night in a comparatively
cheerful frame of mind. Although he could not believe that his friend’s
promised interview with Mr. Haxall would do the slightest good, or
cause the city editor to take him back on the paper, still it was
comforting to think that so powerful a friend was interesting himself
in his cause.

Why he thought of the old gentleman as a powerful friend he could not
have told, for in fact he knew almost nothing about him. They had only
met two or three times, and the other had so evidently avoided any
reference to himself or his own affairs, that Myles felt it would be
impolite to ask any questions concerning them. He knew that his name
was Saxon, that he was a graduate of X—— College, and that he was a
particularly pleasant old gentleman to meet, but this was about all. So
it now happened that, as he speculated concerning his friend, he was
surprised to find how little knowledge he had of him.

“He must be a man of influence, though, and connected with some
extensive business, if he employs men by the thousand, and of course,
if he wants to, he can give me work of some kind,” thought Myles.

In his present frame of mind he would gladly have accepted almost any
position in any line of business. He would rather it would be newspaper
work than any thing else. At the same time he hated the thought of
working on any paper except the _Phonograph_.

“If they would only give me one more trial there!” he said to himself.
“I shouldn’t care how or why they took me on again; I’d soon make them
want to keep me for myself alone. Of course it would not be half so
pleasant to have Mr. Haxall persuaded to try me again as to have him do
so of his own free will; but I don’t suppose any thing except influence
would get me back there again now. Well, Monday will soon be here, and
then we’ll see what will happen.”

In the little cottage that was now the home of the Manning family
Myles found his mother sitting up and waiting for him. She held the
front-door open as he reached it, and, after kissing him, and warning
him not to make any noise that would wake his father, she said: “God
bless you, my boy! we are all just as proud of you as we can be. Now go
to bed, dear, for it is very late, and to-morrow we will have some nice
long talks.” There was not a suspicion of blame or of disappointment
in her tone or manner, and Myles went to his room with a very tender
feeling toward those who loved and trusted him so implicitly.

The next day they did have nice long talks, all of which ended in their
taking the very brightest and most cheerful view of things. Kate pinned
her faith to the “Oxygen gentleman.” “I don’t know why,” she said, “but
somehow I feel sure he will do something splendid for you, Myles. Even
if he shouldn’t, we have my plan of working together to fall back on;
and the more I think of it the more I am inclined to believe we should
make it succeed.”

Mr. Manning listened to the several conversations without taking a very
active part in them; but once, when he and Myles were alone in the
room, he said:

“You are learning one of the most difficult lessons of life, my son;
but you seem to have set about it manfully, and I believe you will
finally master it. When you do, you will have acquired a knowledge of
infinite value. I mean a knowledge of self-control, self-reliance, and
strict obedience to the orders of your own conscience.”

Thus, in spite of the fact that he was wellnigh penniless and out of
work, with no certain prospect of obtaining any sort of a position,
Myles returned to the city, that bright autumn Monday morning, full of
hope and determination.

“I will have some sort of a place, as good if not better than the one
I have lost before I come home again! See if I don’t!” was his mental
exclamation.

He went first to his lodgings. There the landlady informed him that a
gentleman had called only a few minutes before, who said he wished to
see him on important business, and had seemed greatly disappointed when
told that he was out. He had offered to wait, but she told him he would
be more likely to catch Mr. Manning at the Phonograph office than
anywhere else, and that he had better wait there.

“Didn’t he leave any message?” asked Myles.

“No; nor a card; and he wouldn’t even tell his name; for he said you
would not know any better who he was if he did, but that he’d meet you
somewhere during the day.”

“I only hope he may,” said Myles, as he started up-stairs, “but I don’t
think it is very likely.”

“Oh, Mr. Manning,” called the landlady, “a letter came here for you by
the mail this morning, and I laid it on your table.”

“My prospects are certainly looking up,” thought Myles, who was not in
the habit of receiving letters at any other place than the office—“a
man on important business and a letter both in one morning. I wonder
who the one could have been; and who the other is from? Perhaps it is
from Mr. Saxon.”

It was not from his old gentleman friend, however, but was from Mr.
Haxall, and was written in the _Phonograph_ office on Saturday evening.
It was of such an astounding nature to Myles that he could hardly
believe he was reading it aright when he first glanced over its
contents. Again he read it through, and again, to make sure that there
could be no mistake as to its meaning. Then he uttered such a shout of
joy as startled his landlady in the distant, lowermost depths of the
house. The letter was as follows:

  MY DEAR MR. MANNING:

 I want you to come back to the _Phonograph_ and report for duty as
 usual on Monday morning. If, during our interview of to-day, I seemed
 unnecessarily harsh or unjust, you will please lay the blame to my
 position rather than to myself. I cannot go beyond the rules of the
 office, which oblige me to take such action as I did in your case. You
 were undoubtedly guilty of a neglect of duty; but I am well satisfied
 that such a thing will not happen again in your case. Although you
 failed us in that single instance, your subsequent course was such as
 reflects great credit upon this paper, and I am convinced that you are
 one of the staff with whom we cannot afford to part. Therefore, if
 you will return at a salary of $25 per week, or, if you prefer it, on
 space, you will be cordially welcomed by

  Yours very truly,

  JOSEPH HAXALL,

  City editor, the _Phonograph_.

“Glory hallelujah!” shouted Myles. “Go back? Of course I will! As a
space man too. Well, if Joe Haxall isn’t a trump then I’m no judge. He
certainly is the most just and honorable man I know. I’d just like to
hear anybody say a word against him in my presence.

“Mr. Brown, I’ll thank you for that key again if you please, sir.

“Yes, Myles Manning, your fortune is made, and you have come out of
what looked like a pretty ugly fix with flying colors.

“My, but I’m glad that letter was written on Saturday, before there
was a chance for any influence being used to get me back. How cheap a
fellow must feel who, after once losing a job, only gets taken back
through influence.”

So thinking, and hardly able to contain himself for joy, Myles gathered
together the papers he had brought away from the _Phonograph_ office
and prepared to carry them back to it. In his own happiness he did not
forget the anxiety of those at home, and his first care upon leaving
the house was to hunt up a telegraph station. From it he sent a message
containing the joyful news to his mother. Then he hurried down town.

When he entered the city-room of the _Phonograph_ Mr. Brown handed
him the key to his desk as a matter of course. Mr. Haxall looked up
from the reading of his morning papers long enough to shake hands
with him and welcome him back. Nobody else knew that only two days
before he had been dismissed in disgrace. The other reporters, most
of whom supposed he had just returned from Mountain Junction, crowded
about to congratulate him upon the manner in which he had saved the
train with the 50th Regiment on board, and to ply him with questions
as to the details of that affair. To those who considered that he had
snubbed them on Saturday he made ample apologies, and explained that
his apparent rudeness was caused by a piece of bad news of which he had
then just heard.

The first to learn of and congratulate him upon his new prospects was
his stanch friend Rolfe, who had that morning returned from Chicago,
and who, while shaking hands with him, said:

“Now, old fellow, you will have a chance to show what you are made
of. As a space man you will reap an instant pecuniary reward from
every successful effort you make, exactly as any man does who is in
business for himself. You also occupy the curious position that I do
not believe exists except among newspaper reporters on space, of being
under orders and at the same time able to render yourself absolutely
independent of them.”

Myles was so happy, and the future seemed so bright and secure to him,
surrounded as he was by friendly faces, that he read Billings’ telegram
with only a vague wonder as to what it could mean, and without a trace
of anxiety. Ben Watkins seemed so very far away, and to belong so
entirely to some remote period of his life, that Myles could only think
of him with pity and contempt. He had it in his power to inflict a
serious injury upon Ben Watkins, if he chose, by simply telling of that
scene before the safe in the superintendent’s office; but what harm
could Ben Watkins do him? None. Absolutely none. He had been guilty of
but one wrong that Ben knew of, and that had already been amply atoned
for and forgiven.

As he reached this conclusion Myles lifted his eyes to those of a
stranger who stood beside him, and who asked:

“Is this Mr. Manning?”

“Yes,” replied Myles, “it is.”

“Mr. Myles Manning?”

“Yes, that is my name. What can I do for you?”

“You can come with me quietly and without any fuss. I am an officer,
and have a warrant for your arrest on the charge of robbing a safe in
the office of the A. & B. Railroad Company at Mountain Junction.”

“I—charged with robbing a safe!” repeated Myles, slowly, and with a
face so colorless that he looked as though about to faint. “Who dares
bring such a charge against me?”

“The charge is made, I believe, by Mr. Ben Watkins, assistant
division superintendent at Mountain Junction. My instructions and the
warrant for your arrest were forwarded by his uncle, the division
superintendent at that place,” answered the detective.

“Where do you want me to go with you?” asked Myles, with a wild look in
his eyes and his face still deathly pale.

“To the office of the president of the road first,” answered the
officer, evasively. He thought it as well not to say just yet that he
was instructed to deliver his prisoner to the authorities at Mountain
Junction, where he would probably be locked up to await trial.

“May I speak to the city editor for a moment?” asked poor Myles, whose
brain was in such a whirl at this terrible accusation that he hardly
knew what to say or do.

“Certainly you may. I’m never hard on my prisoners so long as they act
decently and behave themselves.”

This conversation had been carried on in such low tones that none of
the other reporters had caught a word of it. They saw, however, by
Myles’ face that something very serious had happened to him, and they
watched him curiously as he almost staggered toward the city editor’s
desk.

“Mr. Haxall,” he said abruptly, “that man over there is a detective,
and has a warrant for my arrest on the charge of robbing a safe. What
shall I do?”

“Eh! what’s that?” exclaimed the city editor, startled for a moment
from his ordinary self-possession.

Myles repeated what he had said.

“But of course it is all a mistake?”

“Of course it is, sir.”

Mr. Haxall beckoned to the officer, who at once stepped to the desk.

“Don’t you think you have made some mistake, officer, and arrested the
wrong person?” asked the former.

“No, sir, not if this is Myles Manning, the _Phonograph_ reporter who
was in Mountain Junction last week.”

“Will you let me see your warrant?”

“Certainly, sir,” said the officer, producing it.

“Um; this seems to be straight enough,” said Mr. Haxall, glancing over
it.

“It was issued in Mountain Junction, I see.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Will the case be tried there?”

“I believe so.”

“Then I suppose you want to take Mr. Manning there?”

“Yes, sir, those are my orders; but first I am to take him to the
office of the president of the road.”

“Well, Manning, my poor fellow, this seems to be a very serious
business,” said Mr. Haxall, turning to Myles, who stood like one in
a dream. “I don’t see that there is any thing for it but for you to
go with this officer. You may rest assured, though, that you sha’n’t
want for friends in this time of trouble. I will telegraph Billings to
remain at Mountain Junction until the matter is settled. Furthermore,
as this charge reflects upon the good name of the _Phonograph_, as well
as upon yours, I think I can safely say that no money will be spared to
clear you of it.”

With a voice that trembled in spite of his efforts to control it Myles
thanked the city editor and turned away. He mechanically locked his
desk and handed the key to Mr. Brown, from whom he had so proudly
received it but a few minutes before; then, accompanied by the officer,
he walked from the room without a word to any of his fellows, who gazed
curiously and in silence after him.

A few moments later, when the story spread among them, there was a
general burst of indignation that they had permitted such an outrage
as the arrest of one of their number to take place in that room. Had
the detective reappeared just then he would in all probability have
encountered an angry crowd of stout young fellows who would have
promptly hustled him downstairs and out of the building.

As it was, he and his prisoner were walking rapidly in the direction
of Wall Street; he with a watchful eye on Myles, and Myles so full of
bewildered wretchedness as to be totally unconscious of whither he was
being led.

The clerks in the office of the great railroad company winked at each
other as he passed them, for they all knew the detective by sight, and
suspected that his companion must also be his prisoner. Myles however,
never noticed them. He neither seemed to see nor notice any thing until
the door of an inner office was closed behind him, and he found himself
in the presence of his old gentleman friend, with whom he had dined two
evenings before at the Oxygen Club.

He uttered a cry of amazement. “Are you Mr. Walker B. Saxon, President
of the A. & B. road?” he exclaimed.

“I am,” was the reply; “and you may rest assured, my dear boy, that if
I had known of this thing in time you should not have been subjected
to the mortification of an arrest. I only heard of it an hour ago,
and then I did not know but what the officer had already found you. I
could only send orders to have you brought here before being taken to
Mountain Junction. Now sit down and tell me your side of the story, and
then we will see what can be done.”

“But I don’t even know why I am arrested,” said Myles. “It is absurd to
say that I robbed a safe. What am I supposed to have taken from it?”

“An express package sent from this office and containing one thousand
dollars.”

“There wasn’t a sign of any such package in the safe,” exclaimed Myles,
impetuously. “It only contained books and papers.”

An anxious look flitted across Mr. Saxon’s face at this admission.

“How do you know that?” he asked.

The full import of what he had said flashed into Myles’ mind. The blood
rushed to his face, and he hesitated a moment before asking in turn:

“Does Ben Watkins accuse me of this crime?”

“Not directly; but he intimates that you stole the key of the safe from
his room, which amounts to about the same thing.”

“Then I am released from my promise to him,” said Myles, “and am at
liberty to tell you all I know of this miserable business.”

Mr. Saxon listened with absorbed interest to the young reporter’s story
of his visit to the superintendent’s office on that eventful night, of
what took place there between him and Ben, of his taking possession of
the key for safe-keeping, and of the manner in which he sent it back.
It was a long story, and when it was finished the president’s face
expressed a decided feeling of relief. He said:

“My dear boy, I have studied your character carefully, much more so
than you are aware of, during the past four months, and I am thankful
to be able to tell you honestly that I believe every word you say. What
a very foolish thing you did, though, in taking possession of that key!
It undoubtedly saved property of great value to this company, but at
the same time it placed you in the power of your enemy as no other act
could have done.”

“Yes,” assented Myles, “I see that only too plainly now.”

“But you were short of money that night?” continued Mr. Saxon.

“Yes, sir, I was.”

“And had fifty dollars the next morning? Where did it come from?”

Myles told him.

“Have you that note signed ‘A friend in need’ now?”

“No, sir; I lost both it and what money I had left after paying my
hotel bill, on the night that I was trying to get back to town in time
to warn the train.”

“That’s bad. In fact, the whole combination of circumstances is the
most unfortunate I ever knew. It will be very difficult to prove your
innocence, though, of course, it will be done sooner or later. I would
have the charge withdrawn and the whole matter hushed up even now, but
for your sake. The accusation against you is already so widely known
that nothing short of a public trial and triumphant acquittal can for
a moment be considered. I will use my influence to have the trial come
off at the earliest possible date, probably next week, and in the
meantime I can think of nothing better for you to do than go quietly to
Mountain Junction with the detective, procure bail, which I will see
that you have no difficulty in doing, and spend the next few days in
hunting up evidence for your own defence.”

Thus, at four o’clock that afternoon, Myles found himself once more on
his way to Mountain Junction. This time it was as a prisoner charged
with robbing a safe and on his way to trial.



CHAPTER XX.

COLLECTING EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENCE.


AS MAY well be imagined that westward journey was a sad one to Myles.
The detective, who never for a moment lost sight of him, was not a
talkative man at best, and made it a rule not to hold unnecessary
conversation with his prisoners. Thus Myles was left to his own
thoughts, and the more he pondered upon his situation the more
complicated and hopeless it seemed to him. Who had sent him that
money? Could it have been Ben Watkins? He hated to think that his old
classmate could do so mean a thing as that, and even if he were sure of
it how could it be proved? He no longer had the note that came with the
money, and he did not believe its sender could be traced if he could
produce it; for it was probably written in a disguised hand. Still, it
would help prove that the $50 had been sent to him, and its post-mark
would give the date. Yes, it would be a most important bit of evidence
in his favor if it could only be found. But he had not the slightest
idea what had become of it; he had not even discovered its loss until
he was starting away from Mountain Junction, and had felt for money
with which to purchase his ticket to New York. Billings had bought that
for him without exactly understanding how his friend happened to be
without money, and had loaned him a few dollars besides. No, it was not
likely the note ever would be found.

How, then, could he prove his innocence? To be sure, he had powerful
friends who stood ready to help him, but all the friends in the world
could not clear his name from disgrace unless this horrible charge
against him could be disproved. Supposing it should not be? Why, his
whole life would be ruined, that was all. Who would care to associate
with a thief, or even one suspected of being such? Who would give him
employment? Yes, his career was blasted. He might as well, or better,
be dead. What would they say at home? Would it kill his mother? As yet
they had no suspicion of this overwhelming disgrace. How could he dash
their fond hopes by letting them know of it? He could not. And yet,
suppose they should hear of it through some other channel!

Thus the poor boy thought and puzzled and despaired over his situation
until it seemed as though there was no hope nor happiness left in the
world. He felt like one already tried, found guilty, and sentenced to a
lifetime of disgrace. At last, about midnight, he fell into a troubled
sleep. When he next awoke the detective was bending over him and saying
that Mountain Junction was in sight.

The train had hardly stopped at the well-remembered station before
there was a commotion at the car-door, and a little man, whose presence
seemed in a moment to pervade the whole car, rushed in, elbowing his
way with remarkable dexterity through the crowd of passengers who
were leaving it. They growled at him, but they gave way and made
room for him to pass, as all crowds will before any one who has the
self-assurance to push himself forward. In a moment he caught sight of
Myles, and called out:

“Good enough, old man! You’re a trump to come back and face the music.
Now we will have some fun.”

Here the detective stepped in front of Myles, and said sternly:

“That will do, sir. I can’t allow any communication with my prisoner.”

“Your prisoner!” cried Billings—for of course it was he. “Well, that’s
a go! What is he your prisoner for, I’d like to know? And what’s the
matter with my interviewing him? Is he an anarchist or a horse-thief?
Whatever he is you can’t stop me from talking to him unless you muzzle
me, and you can’t muzzle me, for I represent the press, and it’s
against the law to muzzle the press in this country. Oh, no, my friend,
if you think you are in Russia you are mightily mistaken. You are in
a country of freeborn American reporters, and when one of them sets
out to interview your prisoner, or even yourself, you’ve got to submit
quietly to the process, or else you’ll find yourself up a pretty tall
tree in less than no time. So step to one side, if you please, and let
me speak to this gentleman.”

Bewildered and overwhelmed by this torrent of words the detective
actually did step aside, muttering if the gentleman was a reporter of
course that made a difference.

“And I am his lawyer,” said another voice behind them. “Of course you
cannot object to an interview between your prisoner and his counsel.”

As the officer looked around to see who would be the next to claim the
privilege of speaking with his prisoner, the gentleman who said he was
a lawyer, but who wore the uniform of a soldier, stepped past him and
held out his hand to Myles.

It was Captain Ellis, of the 50th Regiment, the one who had been with
him when he sent back that key.

“Yes,” he said, laughing at Myles’ bewilderment, “I am your lawyer, or,
rather, I am four lawyers all in one, for I have already received four
retainers to act as your counsel. I retained myself as soon as I heard
of your little difficulty, and was glad enough of the chance to offer
my services to one who had offered his so freely to me. Then I was
retained by the boys of the 50th, for the regiment has taken up your
case as its own, and is determined to see you through regardless of
expense. They are also glad of an opportunity to be of service to you,
and their only regret is that they were compelled to return to New York
last night without waiting to give you another reception. Next I was
retained by our friend Billings here, on behalf of the _Phonograph_.
Last of all I received a retainer just now by telegraph from a New York
friend who does not wish his name mentioned, but who evidently takes a
deep interest in your case.”

“And now, Mr. Detective,” said Billings, who seemed to have taken the
entire management of affairs into his own hands, “if you will join
our little party of four lawyers, one captain, one prisoner, and one
reporter, and come up to the hotel for breakfast our happiness will be
complete.”

The detective went, of course, for nobody ever refused Billings any
thing, and, though the little fellow worried and puzzled and made fun
of him from the time they sat down to table until they rose from it,
he completely won his heart. The officer said afterwards that, when it
came time for Mr. Billings to be arrested, he hoped some one besides
himself would be sent to do it, for the little chap would laugh the
chief himself out of the job before it was begun.

Amid all this merriment in company with these friends poor Myles’
mountain of trouble rapidly decreased in size until its difficulties
did not appear so very insurmountable after all.

As soon as breakfast was over the whole party went to court, where,
after a very brief preliminary examination, Myles was admitted to bail
and the date of his trial was fixed for the following Monday. He was
amazed at the ease with which the whole business was transacted. There
seemed to be a dozen men ready and anxious to sign his bail-bond,
though only two were needed.

When this formality had been disposed of, Myles and his friends,
bidding the detective good-bye, returned to the hotel, where, in
Billings’ room, they held a consultation as to what was to be done next.

After listening attentively to his client’s story, and asking him many
questions, the soldier-lawyer became convinced that the real thief was
Ben Watkins, but that, under the circumstances, this was going to be
very difficult to prove.

“If ever there was a guilty-looking chap in this world,” said Billings,
“it was that same Watkins when he found, or rather pretended to find,
that envelope under the carpet in this very room. He watched me all
the time he was making believe look in other places, and when he saw
that his companions were about to leave the room he walked right to the
place where the envelope was and stopped there as readily as though it
were lying out in plain sight. If he didn’t put it there himself then
I’m a billy goat, that’s all.”

“What we have got to do,” said Captain Ellis, thoughtfully, “is to get
hold of Jacob Allen, if possible, for I fancy that his testimony would
be very important. Then if we could by some happy chance discover the
note signed by ‘A Friend in Need,’ it would be a great piece of luck.
We must also find out every thing we can about Ben Watkins and his mode
of life since he came to this place. This last I will make my especial
business, while I want you two to use every possible effort you can
think of to find Allen and that note.”

To Myles a search for either of these seemed hopeless, and even the
sanguine Billings acknowledged that the assignment was a tough one.

“Still, it’s your first job of space work, old man,” he said cheerfully
to Myles, “and it won’t do to give it up without a big try.”

Myles first duty was to write home a full account of his present
trouble, for he had decided that this was, after all, the best thing
to do. He made as light of it as he could, and took the most hopeful
view possible of the situation; but he did not conceal any thing. He
was afterwards thankful enough that he did this, for, by some means or
other, a very exaggerated report of the case got into one of the New
York papers the next day, and somebody took pains to send a marked copy
of it to Mrs. Manning.

Myles also wrote a letter, of which he said nothing to either of his
companions, to Mr. Saxon. It contained a request which was so promptly
granted that two days later he received an answer which apparently gave
him great satisfaction as he read it.

He saw but little of Ben Watkins during this week, for Ben was out of
town most of the time, and even when he was not, both he and Myles
carefully avoided meeting each other.

In the meantime Myles and Billings made two trips out to the lonely
little cabin in which the former had found shelter on the night that
he lost the “Friend-in-Need” note they were now anxious to discover.
Both times they found the cabin closed and deserted, and, though they
lingered in its vicinity for several hours, they saw nothing of the
man named Bill who lived there. Still, the place did not have the
air of being abandoned. They even felt almost certain from what they
saw that it was occupied between the times of their visits, and once
Myles was confident that he heard Tige barking at a distance up on the
mountain-side. The locality seemed to have a peculiar fascination for
Billings, and Myles found it difficult to get him away each time that
they visited it.

“There’s something here, old man,” said the little reporter; “something
that I want. I feel it in my bones, but I can’t tell where or what it
is.”

The study of Billings’ character interested Myles greatly, and served
largely to divert his thoughts from the unpleasant contemplation of his
approaching trial. The little man had sent to New York for a trunkful
of clothes, and was no longer obliged to borrow shirts and collars
many sizes too large for him. On the contrary, he now dressed with
the same attention to detail that Myles had noticed when they first
met. When about the hotel he was the same languid, tired-appearing
individual, apparently indifferent to all that was going on about him,
that he appeared in New York. When, however, he was on duty and engaged
in some difficult undertaking, like the present search for the lost
note, he was another being. He became wide-awake, alert, sharp-witted,
and so brimful of cheerfulness that it continually bubbled over in
laughter and bright sayings. To Myles he was a true friend, a charming
companion, and a constant puzzle.

On the day that Myles received the letter from Mr. Saxon he inclosed
it in an envelope with one written by himself, and took them to Jacob
Allen’s cottage, in which the striker’s wife and little Bob still
remained. The child was playing outside, and its mother sat in the
door-way sewing. Myles lifted his hat as he asked:

“Is this Mrs. Allen?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did your husband tell you of what an escape little Bob there had a
week or so ago?”

“Indeed he did, sir, and it makes me tremble now to think of it. The
child was saved by a New York reporter. God bless him!”

“Yes,” said Myles, flushing a little, “I know it, for I am the reporter
who was fortunate enough to be on hand just in time.”

“You, sir! Are you Mr. Manning?” cried the woman, starting from her
chair and gazing eagerly in Myles’ face.

“Yes, that is my name.”

“Well, sir, I’ve wanted badly to see you and thank you with my own
lips, and I would have done so too but for the trouble that has come to
my man. They are watching me that close in the hope of me leading them
to him that I can’t stir from the house without being followed. But oh,
sir, I’m proud to see you, and thankful, and may a mother’s blessing
follow you all the years of your life for the brave deed you did that
night!”

“I didn’t come here to be thanked or praised, Mrs. Allen,” said Myles,
considerably embarrassed by the woman’s warmth of manner, “though I am
much obliged to you for your kind words. I came to ask a favor of you.”

“Ask a thousand, sir, and if it lies in my power I’ll be only too glad
of the chance to grant them all.”

“Well, perhaps you will find it hard to grant even the one I am going
to ask,” said Myles, smiling. “It is that you will take this letter
and contrive some means of getting it to your husband within the next
three days. If you can do that you will indeed be conferring a favor,
for I am in a great trouble that I believe your husband can help me out
of.”

“And him with a price on his head!” exclaimed the woman, regarding the
letter doubtfully, as though it might contain something dangerous to
her husband’s safety.

“I know it,” said Myles, “and I realize that it may be very difficult,
and perhaps impossible, to get this letter to him. I know though that
you will undertake it for the sake of what I was able to do for little
Bob, and because your husband would want you to if he knew of it.”

“Of course, sir, I’ll gladly take the letter and get it to him if I
have the chance. I only hesitated because of the unlikelihood of having
it in his hands within the time you named. I’m watched so close. There
comes one of them now. Give me your letter quick and go your way, sir,
before the spy suspects what we are talking of.”

“Very well, madam,” said Myles loud enough for the man who was
sauntering slowly past the house and watching them closely to hear,
“I am sorry I can’t sell you one of our sewing-machines on the
installment plan. But here is a circular containing the address, and
if you ever feel inclined to give the machine a trial, just drop us a
postal.”

“Thank you, sir,” answered the woman, with a ready comprehension. “If
I’m ever in a way to buy a machine I’ll give you the first chance to
sell it to me.”

As she spoke she turned to go into the house, and Myles, again lifting
his hat, bade her good afternoon and walked away.

He felt satisfied that he had done a good stroke of business, and was
almost certain that, by some means, Mrs. Allen would contrive to have
his letter conveyed to her husband within the time named.

While Myles was thus engaged Billings was also perfecting a plan that
he proposed to carry out alone that very night. As he was already at
work upon it when Myles returned to the hotel the latter could not
find his versatile companion, and wondered where he was. This wonder
increased when he did not appear at supper-time, and had not been seen
or heard from at eleven o’clock, when, tired of waiting for him, Myles
went to bed.

It was broad daylight when he awoke with a start to find a most
disreputable, dirty, and weary-looking, but triumphant Billings
standing at his bedside, and holding out for his inspection a soiled
and crumpled envelope. As he took it wonderingly, a folded paper
dropped from it. It was the identical note signed “A Friend in Need”
they had been so anxious to obtain, but which they had given up for
lost.

“Good for you, Billings!” he cried joyfully. “But when, where, and how
did you get it?”

“Last night, where you lost it, and by asking for it,” replied
Billings, soberly.

“Oh, come, old man, you know what I mean. Sit down and tell me all
about it, there’s a good fellow.”

“Well,” said Billings, pretending he was not just as anxious to tell
his story as Myles was to hear it, “if I must I suppose I must,
but”—here he gave a prodigious yawn—“I’m powerful sleepy. You see I
wanted to get hold of that bit of paper, and I was pretty certain if it
still existed it would be found in the possession of your cabin friend
Bill. So last evening I took a walk out that way. I got to the place
about sunset, and, as usual, it was closed and deserted. Then I just
lay low and waited. I have had many a lonely night-watch in the city
since I became a reporter, waiting for some folks to die, for others to
be born, and for more to be arrested, but that wait out there in the
woods, with only the hoot-owls for company, beat them all for pure,
unadulterated loneliness. Scared! I never was so scared in my life,
and the noises that scared me most were generally made by crickets or
frogs, or other wild beasts of that kind.

“However, they say all things come to him who waits, and so all sorts
of things came to me; among them a man and a dog.”

“Bill and Tige,” interrupted Myles.

“How do you know? Were you there?”

“Go on,” laughed the other, “I won’t interrupt again.”

“Well, they were Bill and Tige, and without suspecting my presence,
they went into the cabin.

“After giving them time to get something to eat and settle down a bit,
I went to the door and knocked. At the same time I called out: ‘Hello,
Bill! Hang on to Tige, for I’m coming in’; and in I went.

“‘Who are you?’ said Bill, holding on to Tige with all his might.

“‘A New York reporter, come to interview you,’ said I.

“That tickled him so that he nearly let go of Tige with laughing. Then
we had a nice long talk. I told him exactly what I wanted, and what I
wanted it for.

“At first he said he hadn’t got the letter, and didn’t know any thing
about it, but when I told him that if he’d give it to me no questions
would ever be asked about the money, he finally pulled it out of his
pocket and handed it over.

“Then I told him I wanted him to come to the trial and testify as to
how the letter came into his possession, and how much money there was
in it when Tige found it lying on the ground in front of the cabin
where you dropped it. If he doesn’t he knows I will tell where his
moonshine distillery is.”

“Billings, you are a born detective.”

“I’m better than that. I’m a born reporter, though a mighty hungry,
sleepy, and tired one just at this minute.”

[Illustration: “WHO ARE YOU?” SAID BILL, HOLDING ON TO TIGE WITH ALL
HIS MIGHT. (_Page 310._)]



CHAPTER XXI.

A DAY OF TRIAL.


DURING the week that preceded his trial Myles did not care to be seen
on the streets more than he could help. It was very unpleasant to be
recognized and pointed out as the reporter who had robbed a safe, and
to have people turn and stare at him. So he spent most of the time in
his room consulting with his friends or reading and answering the long
letters from home that either his mother or Sister Kate wrote to him
every day. These were of the greatest comfort to him, and more than any
thing else enabled him to bear cheerfully the painful suspense of this
time of waiting.

His case was to be called on Monday, and on Sunday afternoon, feeling a
great desire for exercise and fresh air, Myles went for a long walk up
the side of a mountain, back of the town. He climbed nearly to the top,
and then sat down to enjoy the quiet beauty of the panorama outspread
before him. The maples wore their brilliant autumn dresses and splashed
the landscape with irregular patches of scarlet and gold; in and out
among them wound the gleaming steely blue of a river; white farmhouses
and red barns dotted the fields that stretched back from it, and the
quiet town lay as though asleep at his feet. The whole glowing picture,
bathed in waves of unclouded sunlight, was bordered by a soft blue
frame of dim encircling mountains.

Lulled by the influence of the scene Myles fell into a reverie, from
which he was roused by a rustling in the bushes close beside him.
Before he could move from his position they were parted, and from
them stepped a little boy, hatless, ragged, and barefooted. The child
looked earnestly at the young reporter for a moment, and then, without
a word, thrust a bit of paper into his hand. Almost as he did so he
sprang back into the bushes and disappeared. There was a slight rustle
and all was still as before. Myles curiously unfolded the bit of paper
thus left with him and saw that it contained a few words written with a
lead-pencil. They were:

 “Yours received. Will be on hand when wanted. Would have come anyhow
 for little Bob’s sake.

  “Hastily but gratefully yours, J. A.”

Myles’ plan had worked, and Jacob Allen would appear to testify in his
behalf. The news was too good to keep. He must go at once and tell it
to Captain Ellis and Billings. Hurrying down the narrow pathway Myles
had nearly reached the foot of the mountain, when, without a warning,
he found himself face to face with Ben Watkins. There was a moment of
embarrassed hesitation, and then, moved by a sudden impulse, Myles
exclaimed:

“What is it all for, Ben? Why are you trying to ruin me?”

“I think I should be the one to ask why have you tried to ruin me ever
since we first met,” replied Ben, bitterly.

“I try to ruin you, Ben Watkins!” cried Myles, amazed at the charge.
“Such an idea never entered my head. I tried to save you from yourself
that night we met in your uncle’s office; but I never even wished to
harm you in my life.”

“You didn’t, eh?” sneered Ben. “Who was my rival in the college crew?
Who made me the laughing-stock of all the fellows at New London? Who
took the key to the safe, promising to return it before it should be
called for, and then failed to keep that promise? Who did all these
things if not you, Myles Manning?”

“All that is absurd, Ben, and you know it. Our college rivalry was
an honorable one and could do no harm to either of us. I had nothing
whatever to do with that New London affair, and was as greatly
surprised at the way it turned out as you were. In regard to the safe
business, I own that my taking that key was a mistake. I did it,
though, with the idea of saving you from committing a crime, and I
returned it the moment I learned that your uncle had come back.”

“You returned it too late all the same.”

“Well, I am very sorry, and am willing to make a full explanation of
that affair to your uncle, taking the blame so far as possible upon
myself. But, Ben, you know I never took that money.”

“I don’t know any thing about the money except that it was in the safe
that night. You took the key away and when the safe was next opened it
was gone.”

“Is that the story you are going to swear to to-morrow?”

“I shall swear to the facts,” answered Ben, evasively.

“And supposing your testimony sends me to prison for a crime you know I
never committed?”

“I shall be very sorry, of course, to see an old classmate in such a
fix; but I don’t know what I can do to help it. The law must take its
course.”

“You will live to regret this, Ben. Take my advice: straighten this
matter out while there is yet time and before it goes any further,”
said Myles, earnestly.

“I think the chances are that the regrets will be on your side rather
than on mine, and as for your advice, Mr. Reporter, I have not asked
it, nor do I want it,” replied Ben, roughly.

As he spoke he pushed past Myles and went on his way, while the other
continued on into the town, with a heavy heart.

The day of the trial broke bright and fair. Soon after breakfast the
sheriff called at the hotel for Myles and took him to the court-house.
Billings, in his capacity of reporter, was allowed to accompany his
friend. The case had excited great interest in the town, and long
before the court-room doors were opened they were surrounded by an
eager crowd of would-be spectators. After the judge, jury, lawyers, and
reporters had been admitted by a back door, and were in their places,
the great front-door was thrown open and the crowd rushed in, almost
instantly, occupying every available space.

The court was declared open for business, and the judge announced that
the case for its present consideration was that of the A. & B. Railroad
Company against Myles Manning, and asked if both sides were ready for
trial.

Both Captain Ellis and the counsel for the company answering that they
were, Myles was ordered to stand up. He did so, and the judge, looking
keenly at him through his spectacles, said:

“Myles Manning, you stand accused of robbing the safe in the office of
the division superintendent of the A. & B. Railroad, at this place, of
an express package containing one thousand dollars. What have you to
say to this charge? Are you guilty, or not guilty?”

“Not guilty!” answered Myles in a clear, steady voice, gazing full into
the face of the judge.

“Let the case proceed,” said the latter, settling himself comfortably
back in his big arm-chair.

Myles resumed his seat, and the counsel for the company opened the case
with a brief address to the jury, stating its nature and what he hoped
to prove concerning it.

The first witness called was the landlord of the hotel, who identified
Myles as having registered at his house on the very day that the date
of the express package showed it to have reached Mountain Junction. He
testified that Myles and Ben Watkins were apparently on friendly terms,
and that, during the evening while they were together in the latter’s
room, a quantity of wine was ordered up there. Then he described how,
in the evening of the following day, as Myles was about to go out of
town, he had presented his bill for five dollars, and his guest claimed
to have no money with which to pay it; how he had left his watch as
security; how the next morning he had presented a fifty-dollar bill
to be changed, at the same time ordering him—the landlord—in a most
offensive manner to take his pay out of that and return the watch
immediately. Then he testified to depositing that bill in the bank on
the following Saturday; to the visit of himself, the superintendent,
and Ben Watkins, to the room formerly occupied by Myles—and to the
discovery in it of the empty express envelope beneath the carpet. This
witness was allowed to go without cross-examination.

The next witness called was Lieutenant Easter, who, as befitting the
importance of the occasion, appeared in full uniform, and created no
little merriment by tripping over his dangling sword as he mounted the
stand.

His answers were rambling and incoherent, but his testimony was to
the effect that on the evening of Mr. Manning’s arrival at the hotel
he had joined him and Mr. Watkins in a game of cards in the latter’s
room; that Mr. Manning played recklessly, drank heavily, and lost his
money carelessly, declaring that he knew where to get plenty more, or
words to that effect. He testified to the dropping of the safe-key from
Ben’s pocket, but did not know what he did with it after that. He also
uttered his belief that Myles was in league with the strikers, and had
furnished them with information they could not otherwise have obtained.

Captain Ellis sharply cross-examined this witness, and drew from him
the facts that both he and Ben Watkins had kept perfectly sober on the
evening in question, that they played cards long enough to win all the
money Myles had, and that they then carried him to bed. He was also
forced to acknowledge that he had at different times won large sums of
money from Ben Watkins, whose note for two hundred dollars he held at
one time.

“Do you still hold that note?” asked Captain Ellis.

“No, sir.”

“Why not?”

“Because it has been paid.”

“When was it paid?”

“On the day I left this place, when Mr. Watkins and I were prisoners
together in the hands of the strikers.”

“Why did Mr. Watkins choose that time to redeem his note?”

“He said he was afraid he would be robbed, and he wanted me to share
the risk with him.”

“Did it take all the money he had to pay that note?”

“No, sir.”

“How much did he have left?”

“I don’t know.”

“A hundred dollars?”

“I should think more than that.”

“Did he have five hundred?”

“I should think so.”

“That will do, Mr. Lieutenant. I expect after this disclosure of your
true character you will find it rather difficult to get anybody to play
cards with you again in this vicinity.”

The once pompous but now crestfallen little lieutenant hurriedly took
his seat amid the titters and contemptuous glances of the spectators.

Several bell-boys and servants of the hotel testified to Myles’
condition on the night of his arrival and the morning after, also to
the fact that he had gambled and been a loser.

The telegraph operator was made, very unwillingly, to describe Myles’
agitated manner on the second evening that he was in town, upon his
return from Mr. Watkins’ office. He also testified that Myles had
telegraphed to his paper for money, and had acknowledged himself to be
so short of funds that he had been obliged to leave his watch at the
hotel as security for a two days’ board-bill.

The famous fifty-dollar bill was shown, and the treasurer’s private
mark on it was pointed out to each one of the jury. The division
superintendent identified the mark on the bill as being that of the
treasurer of the road, while the bank cashier identified the bill as
one deposited by the landlord of the hotel.

The examination of these witnesses occupied the entire morning, and
when, at noon, the court took a recess, public opinion had set pretty
strongly against poor Myles, and many persons confidently predicted
that he would serve a term in the penitentiary.

Even Myles himself was greatly depressed by the seeming weight of
testimony against him; but Billings was as cheerful as a cricket.

“Why, my dear boy,” he cried, “the more evidence they pile up the more
fun it will be for us to knock it down! You just wait till the captain
begins to pour in his hot shot; if he don’t make them hunt their
cyclone cellars then I’m a clam, that’s all.”

When court was opened again after the recess, there was a general air
of curiosity and expectation visible on all faces. The most important
witness for the company had not yet been examined, and his testimony
was awaited with eager interest. There was, therefore, quite a little
flutter of excitement noticeable when Ben Watkins was called to the
stand.

He took his place with a defiant air, as though he knew exactly what he
was going to say, and would like to see the man who would get any thing
more or less out of him. Still, when he took the oath to tell “the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” it was observed
that he became very pale, and that his hands trembled. It was but for a
moment, and then he regained a perfect self-control.

The usual questions as to his occupation and duties were asked and
readily answered. Then, how long had he and Mr. Manning been friends?

“We were never friends,” replied Ben.

“But you have been acquainted with him for some time?”

“Yes; we were classmates at X—— College.”

“You greeted him cordially and treated him as a friend upon his arrival
here some two weeks ago?”

“Of course; I was glad to see an old classmate, and tried to make his
stay here as pleasant as possible.”

“You have heard the testimony of Lieutenant Easter in regard to the
events of that first evening. Does your recollection of those events
agree with his?”

“It does.”

“Did the accused become intoxicated upon that occasion?”

“He did.”

“And gamble away his money recklessly?”

“He did.”

“Did he try to borrow money from you the next day?”

“Yes.”

“Did you lend it to him?”

“No; for I knew he would only gamble it away.”

“Did he know that you had the key to your uncle’s safe in your
possession and that you were in the habit of concealing it in your
room!”

“I believe he did.”

“Now, tell us in your own way what happened between you and him on the
following evening.”

“Well, feeling somewhat uneasy about the safety of the railroad
building I went down there late in the evening—about eleven o’clock,
I think. I took a memorandum-book from the safe and was sitting at my
uncle’s desk looking it over, when suddenly Manning entered the office.
He said he wanted a hand-car with which to run to a telegraph station
a few miles out on the road and send a dispatch to his paper. I, of
course, agreed to let him have it, but tried to dissuade him from going
on account of the dangerous nature of the trip.

“While we were talking he stepped behind me, and the first thing I
knew he was looking into the open safe. I told him that was against
the rules, and that I could not allow even him to remain in that
position. He laughed and said, ‘That’s all right,’ but did not move
away. Then I tried to push him a little to one side, so that I could
close the safe-door. He resisted, and we had something very like a
wrestling-match. At last we both fell to the floor, overturning the
table on which the lamp stood as we did so.

“Manning was underneath, and he said, ‘Let me up, Ben; we have carried
this joke far enough.’ I said, ‘All right, I’m glad if it is only a
joke,’ and let him up. When I had re-lighted the lamp Manning left,
saying that he must go to the hotel for something and would meet the
hand-car at the station. Then I restored the office to order, locked
the safe, and went out to see about the car.”

“Do you think any thing was taken from the safe at that time?”

“No; I am certain there was not.”

“What did you do after ordering the hand-car?”

“I made the round of the buildings, caused the arrest of a striker whom
I found lurking near one of them, helped extinguish a fire that broke
out in one of the shops, and then, utterly exhausted, returned to my
room and went to bed.”

“Where was the key of the safe when you last saw it that night?”

“In its usual hiding-place, beneath a pile of clothing in a corner of
one of my bureau drawers.”

“Was the door of your room locked?”

“It was; but the keys to all the rooms are the same.”

“Did Manning occupy a room near yours?”

“His was only three doors away.”

“Did you sleep soundly?”

“I slept like a log until it was nearly time for a train we were about
to run out to start. I had but a few minutes in which to dress and
reach the station.”

“Did you take the key of the safe with you?”

“No; in my hurry I forgot even to look and see if it was still where I
had placed it.”

“When did you first learn that the money was missing?”

“Not until late the next day, when I returned from that trip. Then I
found my uncle in his office. He asked me for the safe key. I went to
my room for it and discovered that it was gone. My uncle had the lock
picked and we found that the package of money that had been in the safe
when I last opened it was also gone.”

Ben Watkins was asked many other questions, all of which he answered
without hesitation, and then he was turned over to Captain Ellis for
cross-examination.

For two hours the captain plied him with questions designed to confuse
him and cause him to contradict himself, but without success. He stuck
to the story that he had already told and could not be made to take
back or alter one word of it.

When asked how he happened to have so much money about him on the
day that he paid Lieutenant Easter’s note he answered that he only
had about three hundred dollars in all; but that it looked like more
because it was in small bills: This money he claimed to have saved from
his salary and to have won at cards.

Thus the case stood when court was adjourned; and by this time there
was hardly one among the spectators who was not fully convinced of
Myles Manning’s guilt.

As for Myles himself, he was utterly bewildered and in despair. If
a witness, under oath, could so deliberately tell falsehood after
falsehood, what chance was there for the truth to prevail? He had to
acknowledge also that even the _true_ facts of the case, as thus far
brought to light, were greatly against him.

The poor fellow was separated from his friends that night and forced
to spend it in a small locked room in the sheriff’s house. It seemed
almost like a prison cell, and this fact, together with the tumult of
his own unhappy thoughts, completely banished sleep. So all night long
he tossed on his narrow bed, longing for the light of the day that was
to decide his fate.



CHAPTER XXII.

TRIUMPHANTLY ACQUITTED.


WHEN Myles appeared in the court-room the next morning it was with a
pale face and heavy eyes after the anxious weariness of his sleepless
night. He brightened somewhat under the influence of Billings’
cheering presence and words, and was comforted by his lawyer’s cordial
hand-grasp and confident manner.

The counsel for the company announced that he was satisfied to rest his
case upon the evidence already in. Then Captain Ellis, addressing the
jury, said:

“You have listened patiently, gentlemen, to the charges brought against
my client and the testimony offered to prove them true. Now I beg to
claim your attention for a very short time to the testimony which I
shall produce to disprove those charges, and show them to be based in
part, if not wholly, upon falsehood and perjury.”

The captain then gave a rapid sketch of the former relations existing
between Myles Manning and Ben Watkins. In conclusion he said:

“I shall not undertake to disprove that my client acted foolishly
or wrongly upon the evening of his arrival at this place, though I
might easily show how he was tempted and led on from one act of folly
to another by those who sought his ruin. I shall, however, endeavor
to prove beyond a doubt that he never sought by a dishonest or
dishonorable word or action to conceal his folly or undo its effects.
He had already confessed it, and fully atoned for it, before this cruel
charge was brought against him.”

The captain first called and examined several witnesses who testified
that Ben Watkins had owed them sums of money amounting in all to
several hundred dollars, and that all of these debts had been paid
within a week.

Having disposed of these witnesses, Captain Ellis said:

“I shall now place my client on the stand in order that the gentlemen
of the jury may hear his side of the story from his own lips. When he
has told it, I shall bring proof that what he has said is the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Myles’ account of all that had happened to him since his arrival at
Mountain Junction was listened to with intense interest, though at some
points a general expression of disbelief swept over the faces of his
hearers. It was hard for them to believe that he could have overthrown
Ben Watkins during the struggle between them in the superintendent’s
office, for Ben looked the larger and stronger of the two young men.

Myles was, of course, subjected to a searching cross-examination by
the other side, but he bore it unflinchingly, answering every question
without hesitation, and without once contradicting himself.

When he was finally allowed to resume his seat, a buzz of approval
came from the spectators, but it was promptly checked by the sheriff.
Captain Ellis smiled as he heard it, and Billings nodded his head
approvingly toward the spectators. It was evident to them that the tide
of public feeling was turning in their favor.

Myles started as he heard the name of the next witness. It was Mr.
Herbert Smedley, and Myles could hardly trust the evidence of his eyes
when the handsome, self-possessed young fellow whom he had regarded
as the wealthiest and most aristocratic of all his classmates nodded
jauntily to him from the witness-stand. Myles could only remember how
unkindly Bert had seemed to treat him when they last met, and wonder at
his presence in this place. His surprise was increased when, in answer
to Captain Ellis’ first question, he heard Bert declare himself to be
the step-son of Mr. Saxon, the President of the A. & B. Road.

“Have you known Mr. Manning long?” was asked.

“Ever since we entered college together, nearly four years ago.”

“Was he known in college as an athlete?”

“I should say he was. He was the pride of the gymnasium.”

“Did he ever engage in wrestling-matches?”

“Whenever he had a chance. But he couldn’t find his match in college.”

“Did you ever see him wrestle with Mr. Watkins?”

“Who—Ben? Of course I did; and he threw him every time too.”

At this the buzz among the spectators almost broke out in open
applause. Manning stock was evidently on the rise.

“Now,” said Captain Ellis, when the sensation produced by Bert
Smedley’s testimony had subsided, “I shall call a witness by whom I
hope to prove that part of my client’s story in which he described
how the money that enabled him to pay his hotel bill came into his
possession. Mr. William Biggs will please take the stand.”

At the sound of his name the big, uncouth-looking fellow whom Myles at
once recognized as his cabin acquaintance, Bill, shuffled awkwardly
toward the place pointed out to him. He was closely followed by the
bull-dog Tige, who, however, was not noticed until he was seated close
by his master’s side on the witness-stand.

“Put that dog out of the room,” commanded the judge, sternly.

The sheriff started forward to obey the order, but hesitated at Tige’s
ominous growl and display of teeth.

“He won’t do no harm, Jedge. He’s a lamb, Tige is, onless he’s riled.
But it’s resky to rile him,” said Bill, facing his Honor and quieting
the dog at the same time.

So Tige was allowed to remain where he was, though every now and then
he expressed his disapproval of the proceedings by a low growl.

Bill, who fortunately was able to read, identified the “Friend-in-Need”
note, and described how it came into his possession.

Then Captain Ellis read the note aloud, and handed it to the clerk of
the court to be filed as evidence.

The appearance of Bill and Tige on the witness-stand was as good as a
circus to the spectators, and they appreciated it thoroughly.

Now they wondered what new sensation was in store for them, but they
were not allowed to wonder long. The opposing counsel had hardly
finished his cross-examination of Bill, whose answers were such as to
completely baffle him, when Captain Ellis said:

“Now, your Honor and gentlemen of the jury, I am about to place
upon the stand a person who was actually present at the famous
wrestling-match so graphically described by both my client and Mr.
Watkins. As their accounts differ very materially from each other,
it is possible that the testimony of this witness may indicate which
version of the affair is the true and which the false one. Is Jacob
Allen in court? and, if so, will he please step forward?”

There was a moment of waiting, during which the spectators exchanged
looks of surprise. Then, from the extreme back part of the room, Jacob
Allen, the leader of the late strike, the man for whose arrest a reward
was offered, appeared among them, and the crowd made way for him to
pass.

As he stepped to the stand and turned a fearless gaze upon those before
him, the lawyer for the company sprang to his feet and said:

“I object, your Honor, to the testimony of this man being received. His
recent outrages have placed him in the position of a criminal for whose
apprehension the company that I have the honor to represent offers a
large reward, and for whom officers are now in search. In the name of
the President of the A. & B. Railroad Company, I demand his immediate
arrest.”

“Your Honor,” said Captain Ellis, “if I am not mistaken, Mr. Allen has
in his possession a paper that not only relieves him from all fear
of arrest, but grants him unconditional pardon for any alleged act of
wrong committed against the A. & B. Railroad Company.”

“If you have such a paper as this gentleman suggests, I shall be
pleased to examine it,” said the judge, turning to Allen.

The latter handed him a letter, which the judge read carefully. When he
had finished it, he said:

“This letter not only contains a withdrawal of all charges against
Jacob Allen, together with that of the reward offered for his
apprehension, but it restores him to his old position as conductor on
the A. & B. Road. It is signed by Walker B. Saxon, President, with
whose signature I am perfectly familiar. Under these circumstances
I shall be obliged to admit the testimony of this witness as legal
evidence.”

So Jacob Allen was sworn, and allowed to tell his story. He told first
how Myles Manning had rescued his boy from imminent peril, and how, out
of gratitude, he had given him a pass that would insure him courteous
treatment at the hands of any striker he might meet. He denied that
Myles had ever afforded any information or aid to the strikers. He
mentioned meeting the young reporter on the street the evening after
that of little Bob’s rescue and hearing him inquire if he had seen any
thing of Mr. Watkins. He told how, upon learning from him that the
assistant superintendent was in his office, Mr. Manning had asked him
to wait there a minute until he should return, and had entered the
railroad building.

“Did you wait?” asked Captain Ellis.

“Yes, sir; I waited until I heard such a scuffling and crashing of
furniture up there in the office that I felt it was time to go up and
see if anybody was getting hurt.”

“What did you see?”

“I didn’t see any thing, for the light was out, but as I reached the
office door, which was open, I heard Mr. Manning say, as nearly as I
can repeat his words,

“‘Ben Watkins, I hope you realize that you are whipped, and that I have
saved you from committing a State-prison offence. I don’t know why you
wanted to set fire to this building, but it looks as if you wished to
destroy the contents of that safe in such a way that the blame should
be laid upon the strikers. I don’t know what those contents are, but
they must be of value to the company. It is evident that you are not
fit to be trusted with them. If you will put them back, lock the safe,
and give me the key to keep until your uncle returns, I will then give
it back to you. As I don’t want to see an old classmate disgraced, I
will agree to say nothing of this night’s work so long as you do not
compel me to.’

“Then I heard Mr. Watkins agree to do as Mr. Manning said, and with
that I heard them both get up from the floor. They lighted a lamp,
and I saw that the books and papers from the safe were scattered all
around. Mr. Watkins picked them up, put them back in the safe, locked
it, and handed the key to Mr. Manning. Then Mr. Manning started to
leave the office, and I slipped out ahead of him so quietly that
neither of them suspected I had been there.

“When Mr. Manning came down I gave him the bit of a pass I had written
for him. Then he hurried away. An hour or so after that, as I was going
home, I saw Mr. Watkins stop at the post-office door as if he were
mailing a letter.”

All this had been listened to with breathless interest, and when Allen
ceased speaking a sound like a great sigh of relief rose from the
spectators. They all knew Jacob Allen to be a man of such sterling
honesty that “as honest as Jake Allen” had become a saying in the town.
He had never been known to tell a lie, and it was not likely that he
was telling one now.

Allen’s cross-examination was long and severe, but it failed to alter
his statements by a single word.

Captain Ellis himself took the stand for the purpose of testifying to
the sending back of the safe-key by Myles the moment he heard of the
superintendent’s return.

Finally a hotel bell-boy testified that, late on the night of Mr.
Manning’s arrival at the house, Mr. Watkins had sent him to the
telegraph office with a short dispatch.

A copy of the message sent to the _Phonograph_ accusing Myles of
intoxication was read by Captain Ellis, and the operator testified to
having sent it late that night and that it was in Watkins’ handwriting.

With this the examination of witnesses came to an end, and the counsel
for the company rose to make his closing argument. He dwelt at length
on Myles’ behavior when he first came to the town, claiming that it
alone was sufficient to prove him capable of other acts of folly and
even crime. He also attacked the character of the chief witness for
the defence, Jacob Allen, and said that his late actions now rendered
him unworthy of belief even under oath. He trusted that in weighing
the value of the testimony given by Mr. Watkins and the person accused
of this great crime the jury would consider their respective positions
in life. The one, he said, was a gentleman filling a most important
position, in which he enjoyed the fullest confidence of his superiors,
while the other was but a reporter, whose business was the fabrication
of interesting stories. After talking for nearly an hour in this style,
and arousing the violent wrath of Billings, the prosecuting lawyer
concluded with an expression of confidence that the jury would find a
verdict for the plaintiff, and sat down.

Now came the turn of Captain Ellis. In a manly, straightforward
address that lasted half an hour he gave the history of the case,
and showed how, by a perfectly natural course of events, an innocent
and unsuspecting person had become involved in a tangled web of
circumstantial evidence that caused him to be accused of a crime.
He pointed out clearly that a desire for revenge and an urgent need
of money, together with an offered opportunity for taking it, might
readily have led Ben Watkins to rob the safe and then seek to fasten
the crime upon another. He told the story of Myles’ splendid act in
saving from disaster the train with the 50th Regiment on board, and
asked the jury if they thought it possible for a person who would
commit the one act, to be capable of performing the other. He referred
to the remarkable character for honesty and truthfulness that Jacob
Allen had borne for years. He answered his opponent’s slur upon
reporters by speaking of them as gentlemen whose position was as
honorable and important as that of any class of men in the world, and
he finally ended by saying that he was willing to rest his case with
the jury upon the merits of its evidence alone.

The judge summed up the main points of the case in a few brief and
clearly worded sentences. Then he informed the jury that they might
retire and consider their verdict.

Without leaving their seats the twelve jurymen, who had watched the
case with a deep interest, whispered together for a moment. Then the
foreman rose and said:

“May it please the Court, we do not find it necessary to retire, as our
minds are already fully made up, and we are unanimously agreed as to
the verdict.”

A breathless silence reigned over the court-room. Myles felt as though
his very heart had ceased its beating, while Ben Watkins’ face assumed
a deathly pallor.

“Very well, Mr. Foreman,” replied the judge, “the Court awaits your
verdict.”

“It is, ‘Not guilty,’” said the foreman, speaking in a loud, clear
voice.

At these words the young reporter’s overstrained nerves gave way, and
burying his face in his arms on the table before him, he gave one great
gasping sob of joy.

The next instant Billings grasped his hand, crying out as he shook it:

[Illustration: “IT’S ALL RIGHT OLD MAN. YOUR SPACE HAS BEEN MEASURED
AND THE FULL BILL IS ALLOWED.” (_Page 343._)]

“It’s all right, old man. Your space has been measured and the full
bill is allowed.”

“Silence!” roared the sheriff; “silence in court!”

But for the next minute or two he might as well have commanded the wind
to keep silence. The spectators couldn’t help cheering, and as many of
them as could get near him just had to shake hands with Myles Manning.

As soon as a little quiet was restored and he could make himself heard
the judge ordered the sheriff to arrest Ben Watkins on the charge of
perjury. That officer attempted to obey the order, but it was too late;
Ben had disappeared. Taking advantage of the momentary confusion that
followed the verdict he had slipped from the court-room. Five minutes
later he was on board a fast train westward bound; nor from that day to
this has any thing been heard from him directly. He is supposed to be
in one of the new mining regions of the far West, but as the railroad
company have not seen fit to prefer a charge against him for robbing
their safe, nobody has cared to look him up.

As for Myles, the world never seemed so bright and joyous to him
as when he stepped from that court-room honorably acquitted of
the dreadful charge that had threatened to cloud his whole life.
Accompanied by Billings, Captain Ellis, and Bert Smedley, he walked to
the hotel, and almost every person they met on the way stopped to shake
hands with him, or greeted him with a bow and a smile.

The good news had already travelled far beyond Mountain Junction.
Billings had dispatched two messages from the court-room, one to Mrs.
Manning and one to the _Phonograph_. Captain Ellis had sent one to the
colonel of the 50th Regiment N. G. S. N. Y., and Bert Smedley had sent
one to Mr. Saxon. Answers to these began to arrive soon after the party
reached the hotel. The first was,

 “We never for a moment doubted result. Come home quickly.

  “KATE.”

From Mr. Haxall came the words:

 “The _Phonograph_ is proud of its representative, and congratulates
 itself as heartily as it does you.”

A dispatch from the general officers of the A. & B. Railroad contained
the words:

 “This company would not have brought suit against you had it not felt
 certain of defeat. Accept heartiest congratulations, and come home
 with Bert as soon as you reach New York.

  “WALKER B. SAXON, _President_.”

The fourth message to come flying over the wires to Myles was:

 “The 50th rejoices over your victory, and is under orders to
 celebrate—Fizz, Boom, Ti-gah! Signed, Pepper, Colonel, and a thousand
 other friends.”

The fast express of that afternoon bore Myles and his three faithful
friends away from the scene of the young reporter’s recent trials and
triumphs. As it left the Mountain Junction station it was followed by a
hearty round of cheers from a crowd of people. They were led by Jacob
Allen and little Bob and by Bill Biggs and Tige, the bull-dog.

Billings had seen to it that the _Phonograph_ should have a full
description of the trial and its glorious ending. When Myles read it
the next morning it was with a greater pride than he had taken in that
other account of himself published some ten days before, but it was a
pride tempered with humility and sincere gratitude.

As the train rolled into the New York station it was greeted by the
familiar cheer of the 50th Regiment. There, in full uniform, drawn up
in perfect line, was Captain Ellis’ company, to whom had been accorded
the honor of welcoming home the new honorary member of the regiment.
His name is inscribed upon the roll as “Myles Manning, the hero of
Mountain Junction.”

Myles, Bert, and Billings, breakfasted with President Saxon of the A.
& B. Road. When the first-named of these guests ventured to ask this
friend why he had taken such an interest in him and his affairs, the
other smilingly answered:

“For Bert’s sake, and because he asked me to, in the first place;
afterward, because you proved yourself worthy of it. I knew of you
through Bert long before you found it necessary to leave college, but
when, on the very day that you did leave it, he came to me and asked me
to do something for you, I said that I must first know you personally
and study your character.”

“And to think,” said Myles, turning to Bert, “that I should have so
misjudged you, and considered you as only a friend in prosperity who
would desert a fellow in his time of need!”

“I wish,” remarked Billings, plaintively, “that somebody would arrest
me, and give me a chance to prove how truly good I am. My failing seems
to be that I am beyond all hope of suspicion.”

At the _Phonograph_ office Myles was received with hearty
congratulations.

Of all his triumphs his welcome home was the greatest and best. His
mother’s happy tears, Kate’s proud smiles, and his father’s “I am well
satisfied with you, my son,” were more than worth the trials that had
won them.

       *       *       *       *       *

All this happened some years ago, and since then time has worked
many changes. Van Cleef, for instance, is one of the cleverest and
best-informed editorial writers on the _Phonograph_, of which Rolfe
is managing editor, and the original and only Billings is the valued
Washington correspondent. Myles Manning remained on the paper until he
had made an enviable reputation for himself as a space writer and stood
at the head of the reporters’ list. Then he resigned to accept a fine
position as a foreign writer for one of the great illustrated magazines.

His articles appear in the magazine, illustrated by charming sketches
signed “K. M.”; for his sister Kate travels with him wherever he goes.
Every now and then they find time to visit their parents in London,
where Mr. Manning, entirely recovered from his blindness, is the
trusted financial agent of the A. & B. Railroad Company of New York.

With all his prosperity, and with all the freedom of action that his
magazine allows him, Myles never for a moment forgets that he is still
“under orders.” He has won a reputation for prompt obedience to them,
and his superior officers consider that they cannot praise him more
highly than by saying:

“Myles Manning never fails us. He can always be depended upon to carry
out our instructions to the very letter.”


                               THE END.



                 _PUBLICATIONS OF G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS_


 =The Big Brother Series.= Comprising:

 =I.—The Big Brother.= A Story, for Boys, of Indian War. By GEORGE
 CARY EGGLESTON. Octavo, illustrated, cloth extra

  $1 25.

 =II.—Captain Sam; or, The Boy Scout of 1814.= By G. C. EGGLESTON.
 Illustrated. Octavo, cloth

  $1 25

 “Sam, as the leader of a company of boys, does admirable service
 for General Jackson, and after passing through manifold plots,
 and conquering bristling treacheries, he is made a real captain
 by commission, and receives the thanks of the commanding
 general.”—_Boston Traveller._

[Illustration: “THEY PUSHED THE RAFT OUT INTO THE CURRENT AND BEGAN
GLIDING SILENTLY ALONG THE SHORE.”

(Reduced from “The Big Brother Series.”)]

 =III.—The Signal Boys; or, Captain Sam’s Company.= A Tale of the War
 of 1812. By G. C. EGGLESTON. Illustrated. Octavo, cloth

  $1 25

 =IV.—The Wreck of the Red Bird.= A Story of the Sea Islands. By G. C.
 EGGLESTON. Illustrated. Octavo

  $1 25

 “A wholesome, readable story.”—_Chicago Times._

 =V.—Boys of Other Countries.=—Stories for American Boys. By BAYARD
 TAYLOR. Illustrated. Octavo

  $1 25

 “Nobody knows better than this author does how to tell a good story,
 and there are not many persons who have better stories to tell.”—_N.
 Y. Evening Post._

  The set, five volumes in a box      $6 00


G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS, NEW YORK AND LONDON.



[Illustration]



Heroes of the Nations.

EDITED BY

EVELYN ABBOTT M.A., FELLOW OF BALLIOL COLLEGE, OXFORD.


A series of biographical studies of the lives and work of a number of
representative historical characters about whom have gathered the great
traditions of the Nations to which they belonged, and who have been
accepted, in many instances, as types of the several National ideals.
With the life of each typical character will be presented a picture of
the National conditions surrounding him during his career.

The narratives are the work of writers who are recognized authorities
on their several subjects, and, while thoroughly trustworthy as
history, will present picturesque and dramatic “stories” of the Men and
of the events connected with them.

To the Life of each “Hero” will be given one duodecimo volume,
handsomely printed in large type, provided with maps and adequately
illustrated according to the special requirements of the several
subjects. The volumes will be sold separately as follows:

  Cloth extra                                          $1 50

  Half morocco, uncut edges, gilt top                   1 75

  Large paper, limited to 250 numbered copies for
      subscribers to the series. These may be obtained
      in sheets folded, or in cloth, uncut
      edges                                             3 50

The first group of the Series will comprise twelve volumes, as follows:

 =Nelson, and the Naval Supremacy of England.= By W. CLARK RUSSELL,
 author of “The Wreck of the Grosvenor,” etc. (Ready April 15, 1890.)

 =Gustavus Adolphus, and the Struggle of Protestantism for Existence.=
 By C. R. L. FLETCHER, M.A., late Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

 =Pericles, and the Golden Age of Athens.= By EVELYN ABBOTT, M.A.,
 Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.

 =Alexander the Great, and the Extension of Greek Rule and of Greek
 Ideas.= By Prof. BENJAMIN I. WHEELER, Cornell University.

 =Theoderic the Goth, the Barbarian Champion of Civilization.= By
 THOMAS HODGKIN, author of “Italy and Her Invaders,” etc.

 =Charlemagne, the Reorganizer of Europe.= By Prof. GEORGE L. BURR,
 Cornell University.

 =Henry of Navarre, and the Huguenots in France.= By P. F. WILLERT,
 M.A., Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.

 =William of Orange, the Founder of the Dutch Republic.= By RUTH PUTNAM.

 =Cicero, and the Fall of the Roman Republic.= By J. L. STRACHAN
 DAVIDSON, M.A., Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.

 =Louis XIV., and the Zenith of the French Monarchy.= By ARTHUR
 HASSALL, M.A., Senior Student of Christ Church College, Oxford.

 =Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Adventurers of England.= By A. L. SMITH,
 M.A., Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.

 =Bismarck. The New German Empire: How It Arose; What It Replaced; And
 What It Stands For.= By JAMES SIME, author of “A Life of Lessing,” etc.


To be followed by:

 =Hannibal, and the Struggle between Carthage and Rome.= By E. A.
 FREEMAN, D.C.L., LL.D., Regius Prof. of History in the University of
 Oxford.

 =Alfred the Great, and the First Kingdom in England.= By F. YORK
 POWELL, M.A., Senior Student of Christ Church College, Oxford.

 =Charles the Bold, and the Attempt to Found a Middle Kingdom.= By R.
 LODGE, M.A., Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford.

 =John Calvin, the Hero of the French Protestants.= By OWEN M. EDWARDS,
 Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.

 =Oliver Cromwell, and the Rule of the Puritans in England.= By CHARLES
 FIRTH, Balliol College, Oxford.

 =Marlborough, and England as a Military Power.= By C. W. C. OMAN,
 A.M., Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

 =Julius Cæsar, and the Organization of the Roman Empire.= By W. WARDE
 FOWLER, M.A., Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.


G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

  NEW YORK
  27 AND 29 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET

  LONDON
  27 KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND

 =Kaloolah.= The Adventures of Jonathan Romer. By W. S. MAYO. The
 “Framazugda” edition. Reset, and very fully illustrated by Alfred
 Fredericks, and handsomely printed in quarto, cloth extra

  $2 50

[Illustration: “STIR ONE STEP,” I EXCLAIMED, “AND YOU DIE.”

(Reduced from “Kaloolah.”)]

 Of this celebrated work more than 25,000 copies have been sold in
 this country, exclusive of a number of unauthorized English editions,
 and it is justly entitled to enduring popularity. A new edition was
 demanded, and the present generation of readers may be congratulated
 on the circumstances that have led to the republication of one of the
 most curious, ingenious, and fascinating romances ever produced, Mr.
 Fredericks’ illustrations are full of the spirit of the story and
 excellent in design.

 The author’s style is easy, flowing, and delightfully entertaining. He
 tells his story with a certain humorousness that imparts a charm to
 all his writings.

 “One of the most admirable pictures ever produced in this
 country.”—WASHINGTON IRVING.

 “The most singular and captivating romance since ‘Robinson
 Crusoe.’”—_Home Journal._


G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS, NEW YORK AND LONDON.

 =Chivalric Days and Youthful Deeds.= By E. S. BROOKS. Profusely
 illustrated

  $2 00

 CHIVALRIC DAYS tells the story of certain notable scenes and occasions
 in the world’s history in which the boys and girls of the long ago had
 both part and lot.

[Illustration: “I AM THE ROYAL PILOT’S MATE,” HE REPLIED.

(From “Chivalric Days.”)]

 “Chivalric Days” contains: Cinderella’s Ancestor; The Favored of Baal;
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[Illustration]


  TALES OF

  KING ARTHUR AND
  HIS KNIGHTS OF
  THE ROUND TABLE.


 By MARGARET VERE FARRINGTON. With 29 Illustrations by Fredericks and
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  $2 00

This volume has been prepared with the hope of interesting _Young
America_ in the legends of the land of his forefathers, while those
who are fond of “Idyls of the King” may gain a better historical
understanding of the Arthur romance.


 =Historic Boys=: Their Endeavors, Their Achievements, and Their Times.
 By E. S. BROOKS. 29 full-page illustrations. Beautifully printed and
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[Illustration: “‘DOES THE “SCOURGE OF THE DANES” SHRINK THUS AT A
MAIDEN’S VOICE?’”

(From “Historic Boys.”)]

 HISTORIC BOYS has been written with a twofold purpose: to increase
 the interest of young readers in historical study, and to show that,
 even from the earliest ages, manliness and self-reliance have been
 the chief groundwork of character, and that opportunities for action
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 young Harry of Monmouth striving for victory on the bloody field of
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 The tales include: Marcus of Rome, the boy magistrate of sixteen (A.D.
 137); Brian of Munster, the boy chieftain (A.D. 948]; Olaf of Norway,
 the boy viking (A.D. 1010); William of Normandy, the boy knight of
 twelve (A.D. 1040); Baldwin of Jerusalem, the boy crusader (A.D.
 1147); Frederick of Hohenstaufen, the sad little beggar prince (A.D.
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 1402); Giovanni of Florence, the boy cardinal (A.D. 1490); Ixtlil of
 Tezcuco, the fierce young captain (A.D. 1515); Louis of Bourbon, the
 headstrong boy king (A.D. 1651); Charles of Sweden, the boy conqueror
 (A.D. 1699); Van Rennsselaer of Rennsselaerswyck, the patriotic boy
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[Illustration: SERGEANT TAYLOR RESCUING LIEUTENANT KING.

(Reduced from “Uncle Sam’s Medal of Honor.”)]

 =Uncle Sam’s Medal of Honor.= An account of some noble deeds for which
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 which was instituted by Congress at the instance of Washington, is
 the only authorized military decoration for valor in this country,
 and this volume has been planned to present some of the most stirring
 and dramatic incidents connected with the history of the Medal. The
 narratives are in many cases related by the actors. With seventy
 illustrations. Large 12mo

  $2 00


               G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS, NEW YORK AND LONDON.



                               FOOTNOTE:

[1] 73—The telegrapher’s greeting. Equivalent to “best regards.”





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