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Title: Rupert's Ambition
Author: Alger, Horatio, Jr.
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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RUPERT'S AMBITION

by

HORATIO ALGER, JR.

Author of "Chester Rand," "Lester's Luck," "Ragged Dick Series,"
etc., etc.



The John C. Winston Co.
Philadelphia
Chicago      Toronto

Copyright, 1899, by
Henry T. Coates & Co.


[Illustration: A DANGEROUS LUNATIC.]



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER                                        PAGE
      I. RUPERT LOSES HIS PLACE,                  1

     II. OUT OF WORK,                            11

    III. IN A TIGHT PLACE,                       22

     IV. A FALSE REPORT,                         32

      V. MRS. MARLOW'S SCHEME,                   42

     VI. RUPERT AS A DETECTIVE,                  52

    VII. A LUCKY MEETING,                        62

   VIII. JULIAN LORIMER,                         73

     IX. RUPERT BECOMES A BELL-BOY,              83

      X. A BELL-BOY'S EXPERIENCES,               93

     XI. RUPERT RECEIVES A COMMISSION,          103

    XII. CLAYTON'S SCHEME,                      113

   XIII. CLAYTON'S DISAPPOINTMENT,              124

    XIV. THE YOUNG NEWSBOY,                     134

     XV. MR. SYLVESTER'S BIRTHDAY,              144

    XVI. JULIAN HAS TWO DISAPPOINTMENTS,        154

   XVII. MR. PACKARD OF COLORADO,               164

  XVIII. A SCENE AT DELMONICO'S,                174

    XIX. WHAT HAPPENED IN NO. 61,               184

     XX. MR. PACKARD'S GIFT,                    191

    XXI. RUPERT BECOMES A CONFIDANT,            198

   XXII. TRYING TO BE AN ACTOR,                 205

  XXIII. A BAFFLED SCHEME,                      215

   XXIV. LESLIE'S PROGRESS,                     225

    XXV. LESLIE WATERS AS A DRAMATIC STAR,      234

   XXVI. TRIUMPHANT OVER OBSTACLES,             245

  XXVII. AN INGENIOUS TRICK,                    251

 XXVIII. RUPERT RESIGNS HIS SITUATION,          257

   XXIX. THE ST. JAMES HOTEL, IN DENVER,        265

    XXX. PACKARD'S HOME AT RED GULCH,           275

   XXXI. BEN BOONE,                             280

  XXXII. AN UNPLEASANT BEDFELLOW,               285

 XXXIII. BEN BOONE'S TEMPTATION,                295

  XXXIV. RUPERT'S PREDICAMENT,                  305

   XXXV. RUPERT MAKES A DISCOVERY,              310

  XXXVI. A LUCKY ENCOUNTER,                     315

 XXXVII. AN INDIAN GUIDE,                       326

XXXVIII. HOW TO MANAGE A ROGUE,                 336

  XXXIX. NEW PLANS,                             347

     XL. CONCLUSION,                            356



RUPERT'S AMBITION.



CHAPTER I.

RUPERT LOSES HIS PLACE.


"Rupert, the superintendent wishes to see you."

Rupert Rollins, a tall boy of sixteen, was engaged in folding some
pieces of cloth which had been shown during the day to customers. It was
the principal salesroom of Tenney & Rhodes, who conducted a large
wholesale dry goods house in the lower part of New York city.

"Very well, Harry," he said. "I will go at once. I wonder what he wants
to see me about."

"I don't know. I hope it is to raise your wages."

"That isn't likely in these dull times, though a raise would be very
welcome."

When Rupert had finished folding the pieces he was upon he left his
place and knocked at the door of a small room occupied by the
superintendent.

A man of about forty was seated at a desk writing.

"Mr. Frost," said Rupert, respectfully, "I hear you wish to speak with
me."

"Yes; take a seat."

Rupert was tired, for he had been on his feet all day, and was glad to
sink into a chair near the door.

"How long have you been in our employ?" asked the superintendent, in the
quick tones habitual to him.

"Nearly six months."

"So I supposed. You are one of the last clerks taken on."

"Yes, sir."

"I am sorry, I have bad news for you. Mr. Tenney feels, in view of the
dullness in business, that it will be advisable to diminish his clerical
force. As you are one of the last taken on, he has selected you and a
few others for discharge."

Rupert turned pale. What a terrible misfortune this would be to him he
well knew. The future seemed to him dark indeed.

"I hope, sir," he said, in an unsteady voice, "that the firm is not
dissatisfied with me."

"Oh, no. No indeed! I have heard only good reports of you. We shall be
glad to recommend you to any other firm."

"Thank you, sir. When do you wish me to go?"

"You can stay till the end of the week."

Rupert bowed and left the room. His head was in a whirl, and he felt
that a calamity had indeed fallen upon him. His wages were but five
dollars a week, but this sum, small as it was, was the main support of
his mother and sister, the latter a chronic invalid, only two years
younger than himself. What they were to do when this small income was
taken away he could not conjecture. He felt that he must look out at
once for a new place.

"Well, Rupert, what business did the superintendent have with you?"
asked Harry Bacon, Rupert's most intimate friend in the store.

"Only to tell me that I was discharged," said Rupert, quietly.

"Why, that's a shame!" exclaimed Harry, impetuously. "What are you
discharged for?"

"Only on account of dull times. The house will give me a
recommendation."

"It seems too bad you are to go. Why didn't they discharge me, too?"

"You have been here longer, and it is only those last taken on who must
go. I suppose it is all right, but it is hard."

"Keep up your courage, Rupert. It isn't as if you were discharged for
cause. With a recommendation from Tenney & Rhodes you ought to find
another place here."

"Yes, in ordinary times, but you know business is dull elsewhere as well
as with us. It isn't a good time to change places."

"Well, you'll get something else. All branches of business may not be as
dull as ours."

Harry Bacon had a sanguine disposition, and always looked on the bright
side. His assurances encouraged Rupert a little, and he determined to
do his best to find something to do, no matter what.

At five o'clock the store closed. Retail stores kept open later, but
early hours are one of the advantages of a wholesale establishment.

Rupert bent his steps towards Elizabeth Street. In an upper apartment in
one of the shabby houses fronting on this thoroughfare lived his mother
and sister. It was only a three-story house, and there were but two
flights of stairs to ascend.

Entering the principal room, Rupert saw his mother with her head bent in
an attitude of despondency over the table. Through a door he could see
his sister lying uneasily on a bed in a small inner room, her face
showing that she was suffering pain.

Rupert stepped forward and with tender sympathy strove to raise his poor
mother from her position of despondency.

"What is the matter, mother?" he asked. "Are you not well?"

"Yes, Rupert," she answered, raising her head, "but for the moment I
felt discouraged. Grace has been suffering more than usual to-day.
Sickness and poverty, too, are hard to bear."

"That is true, mother," and Rupert's heart sank as he remembered that by
the end of the week the poverty would become destitution.

"Grace has been unable to eat anything to-day. She thought she could eat
an orange, but I absolutely didn't have money enough to buy one."

"She shall have an orange," said Rupert, in a low voice.

The sick girl heard, and her face brightened. It was an instinctive
craving, such as a sick person sometimes has.

"I should enjoy an orange," she said, faintly. "I think I could sleep
after eating one."

"I will go right out and get one."

Rupert put on his hat and went down stairs.

"You may buy a loaf of bread, Rupert," said his mother, as he was
starting, "that is, if you have money enough."

"Yes, mother."

There was an Italian fruit vender's stall at the next corner. As he
stepped out on the sidewalk Rupert took out his slender purse and
examined its contents. It held but thirty-five cents, and this must last
till Saturday night, when he would receive his weekly wages.

Going to the stand, he examined the Italian's stock. He saw some large,
attractive oranges marked "five cents." There were some smaller ones
marked three cents, but Rupert judged that they were sour, and would not
please his sister. Yet five cents was considerable for him to pay under
the circumstances. It represented one-seventh of his scanty stock of
money.

"Won't you let me have one of these oranges for four cents?" he asked.

Nicolo, the Italian, shook his head.

"No," he answered. "It is good-a orange. It is worth more than I ask."

Rupert sighed and hesitated.

"I suppose I shall have to pay it," he said, regretfully.

He drew out his purse and took out a nickel.

"I'll take an orange," he said.

"Is it for yourself?" asked a gentle voice.

Rupert turned, and saw a tiny woman, not over five feet in height, with
a pleasant, kindly face.

"No," he said, "it is for my sister."

"Is your sister sick?"

"Yes. She has taken a fancy to an orange, and I want her to have one,
but--it is extravagant for one in my circumstances to pay a nickel for
one."

"Would you mind," said the little woman, hesitatingly, "would you mind
if I sent an orange to your sister?"

Rupert hesitated. He was proud, but not foolishly so, and he saw that
the offer was meant in kindness.

"I should say it was very kind in you," he said, candidly.

The little woman nodded contentedly, and spoke a low word to the
Italian.

He selected four oranges and put them in a paper bag.

"But that is too many," expostulated Rupert.

"No," answered the little woman, with a smile. "Keep the rest for
to-morrow," and before Rupert had a chance to thank her she had paid
Nicolo and was hurrying down the street.

The spontaneous kindness of the little woman, who was a perfect
stranger, helped to cheer Rupert. He felt that there were some kind
people in the world, and his trust in Providence was increased. He went
to a baker's, near by, and purchased a ten-cent loaf of bread. Then he
made his way back to his humble home in Elizabeth Street.

As he entered the room, the sick girl looked up eagerly. Rupert emptied
the oranges on the table, and her face brightened as she saw the yellow
fruit which she craved.

"Rupert, I am afraid you were extravagant," said his mother. "These
oranges must have cost five cents each."

"Yes, they did."

"We cannot afford such a large purchase in our circumstances."

"They cost me nothing, mother. They are a present to Grace from a lady
who met me at the stand."

"She must have a kind heart. Do you know who she was?"

"No, I never saw her before."

"The world is not all unkind. Grace, I will prepare an orange for you. I
hope you will relish it."

The sick girl enjoyed the fruit, and after eating it lay back content.

"May I have another in the morning?" she asked.

"Yes, my child."

So the evening passed not wholly unhappily, but still Rupert could not
help thinking of the next week, when he would be out of a position.



CHAPTER II.

OUT OF WORK.


On Saturday Rupert received his last week's wages at the store.

"I am awfully sorry you are going, Rupert," said Harry Bacon. "It is a
shame you are discharged."

"No, it is not a shame. It is only because business is dull that I have
to go. I can't blame the firm."

Rupert ascended the stairway at his humble home in Elizabeth Street with
a slow step. He felt that he could no longer conceal his discharge from
his mother, and he knew what a blow it would be to her. So as he handed
the money to Mrs. Rollins he said: "I have bad news for you, mother. I
am discharged."

"Discharged!" repeated his mother, in dismay. "Why? What have you done?"

"There is no dissatisfaction with me. I am discharged because times are
dull, and business has fallen off."

"I am glad at least that no fault is found with you, but what shall we
do? Your salary was all we had to depend upon except the little I make
by sewing."

"Don't be discouraged, mother. I shall start to find a place Monday
morning. I am allowed to refer to the old firm."

"But--do you think there is any chance to get in elsewhere? Won't other
firms be affected by the dull times?"

This was precisely what troubled Rupert, but he answered his mother
cheerfully.

"To-morrow is Sunday," he said. "Don't let us think of the future till
Monday morning. I am sure something will turn up. At the worst, I can
earn something by selling papers."

When Monday morning came Rupert started out on his quest. He had been
sent on errands to several houses in the same line, and he resolved to
go from one to another in the hope of finding a vacancy.

At the first he was pleasantly received. He was recognized as coming
from Tenney & Rhodes, and it was supposed he came on an errand from
them. When he asked for a place the superintendent looked distrustful.

"Why do you leave Tenney & Rhodes?" he was asked.

"Because the times are dull, and they are parting with some of their
clerks."

"Will they recommend you?"

"Yes. Here is a recommendation," and Rupert took a folded paper from the
envelope in which he had placed it.

"That is satisfactory," said the superintendent, his face clearing, "but
the same dullness which has reduced their business affects ours. So far
from taking on new clerks, we may have to discharge some of those at
present in our employ."

Of course there was no more to be said. Rupert visited five other firms,
but in each case the answer was the same. They had no vacancy, and did
not expect to have any.

It was one o'clock, time for lunch, but Rupert did not feel hungry. His
anxiety had taken away his appetite. He rested for an hour on one of
the benches in City Hall Park, and then started out again. He resolved
now to apply for a position of any kind, since there seemed to be no
opening in the business to which he had been trained.

But he met with no better success. Everywhere there were complaints of
hard times.

"You are doing better than I am, my boy," said one business man bluntly.

Rupert looked about the large store in which he was standing, and said:
"I don't see how that can be, sir, I am making nothing."

"And I am making less than nothing. Last month I fell behind five
hundred dollars."

"I am sorry to hear it, sir," said Rupert, in a tone of sympathy.

The merchant looked at him approvingly.

"You appear to be a good boy," he said. "I wish I had a place for you. I
can send you on an errand, if that will be any object to you."

"Anything, sir, will be welcome."

"Then you may take a note from me to a firm in Astor Place. Wait five
minutes and it will be ready."

Rupert took a seat, and in five minutes the merchant reappeared with a
sealed note.

"This is the note," he said, "and here is a quarter for taking it."

"Thank you, sir."

The sum was not large, but Rupert was pleased to think that he would
earn something.

"Well," said his mother, when at five o'clock he entered the room. "Have
you found a place?"

"No, mother, places seem to be scarce. Still, I have earned something."

She looked at him inquiringly.

"It isn't much--only twenty-five cents. I received it for going on an
errand."

"It is better than nothing."

"Yes, it will buy our supper."

Two days more passed. They were equally barren of results. It was
nearing the end of the week, and except the silver quarter Rupert had
earned nothing.

Things began to look serious. But little was left of his last week's
wages, and the time was coming when they would be entirely destitute.
Rupert, as he passed through the business district, reflected sadly that
while thousands were at work there seemed to be no place and no work for
him. He was going down Chambers Street toward the Elevated station when
he saw in front of him a young man, perhaps thirty years of age, whose
unsteady movements seemed to indicate that he was under the influence of
liquor. He came near falling as Rupert neared him.

"Can't I assist you?" asked Rupert, stepping to his side.

The young man glanced at the boy who addressed him with a look of
inquiry.

"Yes," he said. "Take my arm."

Rupert did so.

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

"I live in Harlem--at One-hundred-and-Seventeenth Street," replied the
young man. "Have you a couple of hours to spare?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then see me home. I will make it worth your while."

"I shall be glad to do so," said Rupert, cheerfully.

"I suppose you understand what is the matter with me?"

"I should think you had been drinking too much."

"You are right. I have. Shameful, isn't it?"

"Well, it isn't altogether creditable," said Rupert, not wishing to hurt
the other's feelings.

"I should say not. However, it isn't quite so bad as it seems. I haven't
been drinking hard, only I am so constituted that I can drink but little
without its affecting me."

They had now reached the stairway leading up to the Elevated road.

"Help me upstairs, boy. What is your name?"

"Rupert."

"Very well, Rupert."

When they reached the landing the young man took his purse from his
pocket.

"Pay out of that," he said.

Rupert selected a dime and bought two tickets. Then they passed the box
where the tickets were to be deposited, and entered a train which had
just arrived. They took seats in one corner, and the young man sat down
with an air of relief.

"I feel sleepy," he said. "If I should fall asleep, wake me up at
One-hundred-and-Sixteenth Street Station."

"Yes, sir."

Rupert was able now to examine his companion a little more closely. He
did not have a dissipated look, and Rupert judged that he was not in the
habit of allowing himself to be overcome by liquor. Indeed, he had
rather a refined look. It seemed to the boy a pity that he could not
resist the temptation to drink.

As they were approaching One-hundred-and-Sixteenth Street Rupert aroused
his companion, who opened his eyes in a bewildered way.

"Eh? What?" he asked.

"This is where we are to get out, sir."

"Oh, yes, I remember. Let me take your arm."

With this help he got down stairs, and they turned to the left.

"It is perhaps ten minutes' walk," said the young man. "You will see me
all the way home?"

"Yes, sir. Do you feel any better?"

"I can walk a little more steadily. You are sure I am not putting you
out?"

"Oh, yes, sir. I have plenty of time on my hands, for I am out of work."

"Indeed! And are you poor?"

"Yes, sir."

"Don't you live with your father?"

"My father is dead. I am helping to support my mother and sister."

"Why, that is too bad!" said the young man, in a tone of sympathy. "I am
out of work, too, but then I am rich."

"I am not troubled in that way," said Rupert, smiling.

"I live with my mother. I am glad she is out of the city, so that she
won't see me in my present condition."

"Don't you think of working, sir? I shouldn't think you would know how
to pass the time."

"I only lately returned from Europe. I may go into business after
awhile. To be sure I don't need to earn anything, but if I have some
steady employment I shall be less likely to disgrace myself."

"May I ask your name, sir?"

"Certainly. My name is Frank Sylvester, I hope you are not a newspaper
reporter."

"Oh, no, sir," said Rupert, smiling again.

"I should not like to have this little adventure of mine get into the
papers. Do you see that house yonder?"

"Yes."

"It is the one where I live. If you have a little more time to spare
won't you come in and stay a short time?"

"Yes, sir, if you desire it."

They reached the house and Sylvester rang the bell.

The door was opened by a maid servant about forty years of age. She
looked at Sylvester's companion curiously.

"A young friend of mine, Rachel," said the young man. "Get ready a
little supper for us, will you? Some tea, cold meat and toast."

"All right, Mr. Frank."

They went into a pleasant sitting-room, where Rupert was invited to sit
down.

"That was an old family servant," exclaimed Sylvester. "If you hadn't
been with me she would have taken me to task, for she saw I had been
drinking."



CHAPTER III.

IN A TIGHT PLACE.


Presently Rachel announced tea. Sylvester had bathed his face, and thus
removed some of the indications of his conviviality.

The house was handsomely furnished. The room in which the tea table was
spread was particularly cozy and comfortable, and when he took his seat
at the table, Rupert could not help wishing that his mother could be
with him.

"What are you thinking about, Rupert?" asked Frank Sylvester, who
noticed his expression.

Rupert hesitated.

"Come, tell me. I am your friend."

"I couldn't help thinking of the very different supper my mother will
have."

"To be sure. You are a good boy for thinking of her. Where do you live?"

"At 117 Elizabeth Street."

Frank Sylvester took out a note book and jotted down the address.

Rachel Clark waited upon the table. Sylvester saw that her curiosity was
excited about Rupert, and he decided to gratify it.

"I suppose you are wondering where I met my new friend, Rachel?" he
said.

"Yes, sir."

"He met me. I had been drinking too much, and I am afraid I should have
got into trouble if he had not taken charge of me."

Rachel beamed upon Rupert.

"He was very kind," she said, "but oh, Mr. Frank----"

"I know just what you are going to say, Rachel," said Sylvester,
good-humoredly. "I am going to have Rupert come and see me often, and he
will help keep me straight. And by the way, Rachel, his mother is poor,
and I want you to put up some cold meat and other nice things in a
basket. I will send them to her."

"I shall be very glad to do so, Mr. Frank."

"You will stand high in Rachel's good graces, Rupert," said Sylvester,
as she left the room. "She thinks everything of me, and evidently
believes I am safe in your company. Suppose I make you my guardian?"

"I am afraid you wouldn't look up to me with the proper respect, Mr.
Sylvester."

"Then for respect we will substitute attachment. Now tell me a little
about yourself. How does it happen that you are out of a place?"

"It's the dull times, Mr. Sylvester. I was in the employ of Tenney &
Rhodes."

"I know the firm."

"And they would have retained me if business had been good, but I was
laid off on Saturday."

"What wages did they pay you?"

"Five dollars a week."

"And you lived on that?"

"We tried to."

"While I have had and wasted large sums of money. If I were in business
I would give you a place. As it is, I will see if any of my friends want
a clerk."

When supper was over, Rupert said he must go.

"Won't you stay the evening?" asked his new friend. "At least wait a
few minutes. Rachel is putting up a basket for you."

The servant presently appeared with a basket neatly covered with a
napkin.

"Perhaps I had better send it by an expressman, Rupert."

"Oh, no, sir. I shall be glad to carry it myself. It will be very
acceptable at home."

As Rupert lifted it, Sylvester took from his pocket the purse from which
Rupert had paid the car fare and handed it to him.

"Accept it," he said, "in return for your friendly services."

"You are paying me too liberally, Mr. Sylvester."

"Let me judge of that."

In the street Rupert did not wait to examine the purse. It was growing
late, and he was in haste to get home. He feared that his mother might
feel anxious about him, and he made his way as quickly as possible to
the nearest Elevated station.

The train was only partly full, and Rupert found a seat near the door.
He placed the basket on the floor in front of him.

Next to him sat a young woman rather showily dressed. Rupert casually
took out the purse which had just been given him with the intention of
examining the contents, but it occurred to him that he might find a more
suitable place than an Elevated car, and he put it back again. His
actions had, however, been noticed by the girl at his side.

At Fiftieth Street she rose to leave the car, but had not quite reached
the door when she put her hand into her pocket and uttered a cry.

"I have been robbed," she exclaimed.

"Of what have you been robbed?" asked the guard.

"Of a purse."

"Where were you sitting?"

"Just here."

"Do you suspect anyone of taking your purse?"

"Yes, this boy took it. I am almost sure of it."

As she spoke she pointed to Rupert, who flushed with indignation.

"It is false," he said.

"If you don't believe me," said the girl, "search him. I am sure he has
the purse in his pocket."

"What kind of a purse was it?" asked a quiet-looking man, sitting on the
opposite side.

"It was a morocco purse," and the girl described the purse Rupert had in
his pocket.

"Young man we will have to search you," said the guard. "If you have a
purse in your pocket, produce it."

Rupert did so mechanically.

"There!" said the girl, triumphantly. "Didn't I tell you? Give it to me
and I won't say anything more about it."

"I can't do that," said Rupert, sturdily, "for it belongs to me."

"What barefaced depravity!" groaned a severe-looking old lady opposite.
"And so young, too."

"You're right, ma'am. It's shocking," said the girl. "I didn't think
he'd go to do it, but you can't tell from appearances."

"Young man, you'd better give up the purse," said the guard, who was
quite deceived by the young woman's assurance.

"No, sir!" said Rupert, pale but resolute. "The purse is mine, and I
will keep it."

"Did you ever hear the like!" said the girl. "You'd better call an
officer. I did mean to get off here, but I'll stay till I get my purse."

"Stop a minute," said the quiet-looking man opposite. "How much money
was there in the purse you say the boy took from you?"

"I can't rightly say," repeated the girl, hesitating.

"You can give some idea."

"Well, there was a little over two dollars in silver change."

"My boy," said the new actor in the scene, "will you trust me with the
purse while I ascertain whether this young woman is correct."

"Yes, sir," answered Rupert, who felt confidence in the good will of his
new acquaintance.

The lawyer, for he was one, opened the purse, and his eye lighted up, as
he looked inside.

"Did you say there was as much as five dollars in the purse?" he asked.

"No, sir, there wasn't as much as that," answered the girl, positively.

The lawyer nodded as if a suspicion were verified.

"Then the purse isn't yours," he said.

"There may have been more," said the girl, finding she had made a
mistake. "Yes, I remember now there was, for my sister paid me back some
money she was owing me."

"That won't do," said the lawyer, quietly. "The purse isn't yours."

"If it isn't hers," said the old lady sharply, "how did she happen to
describe it so exactly?" and she looked round triumphantly.

"I could have described it just as accurately," returned the lawyer.

"You're smart!" said the severe-looking old lady, with a sneer.

"Not at all. Soon after the boy got in the car he took out the purse, so
that anyone could see it. The person who charges him with taking it from
her saw it in his hands, and scrutinized it closely. I understand now
the object she had in doing so."

"It's a shame," said the girl, with a last desperate effort at
imposition. "It's a shame that a poor girl should be robbed, and a
gentleman like you," she added spitefully, "should try to protect the
thief."

"So I say," put in the old lady, frowning severely at Rupert. "I don't
know who you are, young woman, but I advise you to call an officer and
have the young scamp arrested."

Rupert felt uneasy, for he knew that in an arrest like this he might not
be able to clear himself.

"Why don't you ask the boy how much money there is in the purse?"
continued the old lady.

"Well thought of. My boy, can you tell me what the purse contains?"

Rupert colored. He saw at once that he was in a tight place. He wished
now that he had examined the purse when he left the house in Harlem.

"No," he answered. "I do not know."

"Didn't I tell you?" cried the old lady, venomously.

Even the lawyer looked surprised.

"How is it that you can't tell, if the purse is yours?" he asked.

"Because, sir, it was given me this evening by a gentleman in Harlem,
and I have not yet had time to examine it."

"Your story may be true," said the lawyer, "but it does not seem
probable."

"Oho!" the old lady said, "the boy owns up that he is a thief. If he
didn't get it from this young woman he stole it from a man in Harlem."

Rupert glanced from one to the other, and he realized that things looked
dark for him.



CHAPTER IV.

A FALSE REPORT.


"What was the name of the gentleman in Harlem from whom you say you
obtained the purse?" asked the lawyer.

"Mr. Frank Sylvester," answered Rupert, promptly.

The lawyer looked interested.

"I know Mr. Sylvester," he said. "I live on the same street."

"He gave me this basket of provisions also," added Rupert.

"Why did he give you the purse?"

"Because I met him down town feeling ill, and at his request went home
with him."

"The boy is all right," said the lawyer, looking satisfied. "Here is the
purse. It is undoubtedly yours."

"And where do I come in?" asked the young woman. "Is that boy going off
with my money?"

Just then they reached the next station, and among those who boarded
the train was a policeman. The girl evidently recognized him, for she
turned away to escape attention.

Before the officer had a chance to speak to her the old lady broke in
with:

"Policeman, there's a poor girl been robbed of her purse by that boy,
and that gentleman there is protecting him."

The policeman laughed.

"So, Kate, you have had your purse stolen, have you?" he asked.

The girl looked embarrassed.

"I may be mistaken," she admitted.

"I am afraid you have been up to one of your tricks."

"Do you know the girl?" asked the lawyer.

"I have arrested her more than once for playing a confidence game. It is
only three weeks since I had her up before the Jefferson Market Police
Court."

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed the old lady, astounded.

The girl sprang from her seat when the next station was reached, and
hastily left the car.

"My boy," said the lawyer, "I must ask your pardon for doubting you
even for a moment. This good lady, too, ought to apologize to you."

The old lady sniffed contemptuously.

"I never apologize to boys," she said.

"Then, madam, take care you don't do them injustice," said the lawyer
gravely.

"I am old enough to manage my own affairs," cried the old lady, with
asperity.

"You are certainly old enough, but----"

"Don't you speak to me again, sir."

The lawyer smiled, and crossing the car sat down at Rupert's side.

"My boy," he said, "you came near getting into a scrape because you did
not know how much the purse contained. Suppose you count the money now."

Rupert took out the purse and followed this friendly advice. To his
gratification and surprise he found a ten-dollar gold piece and two
dollars and a half in silver.

His face expressed the joy he felt.

"That is a godsend," he said. "Do you think Mr. Sylvester knew about the
gold?"

"I have no doubt of it. He is a very kind-hearted and generous man. You
may keep the money without hesitation."

The time soon came when Rupert was to leave the Elevated train. He
hurried home with joyful heart, feeling that he was carrying good news.
When he entered the little room he found his mother again in an attitude
of despondency.

"What is the matter, mother?" he asked.

"I don't know what we shall do, Rupert," she said. "I went round to Mr.
Jacob Grubb's clothing store this afternoon for more work, and he said
business was so dull he would not have any more work for a month."

"Then you can take a vacation, mother," said Rupert, lightly.

"But how shall we live in that case, Rupert? You are out of work."

"Mother, don't worry. I have made more to-day than in any week when I
had regular work. First, here is a basketful of provisions," and he
removed the cover from the basket, displaying the contents. "Have you
had supper yet?"

"No."

"Then suppose you make some tea, and we will have a nice supper."

"You didn't buy those provisions, Rupert?"

"No, they were given me by a new friend. But that isn't all. What do you
say to this?" and he emptied the purse on the table.

"Truly you have been fortunate," said Mrs. Rollins, with new
cheerfulness. "It has come in good time, too, for our rent will fall due
on Saturday."

"Then, mother, you had better take this money, and take care of it till
it is wanted."

Just as Mrs. Rollins was placing the purse in a bureau drawer Mrs.
Marlow, who lived on the floor below, opened the door and entered the
room without knocking.

"Excuse my comin' in without knockin'," she said. "I didn't think."

Mrs. Marlow was in the habit of moving about in a noiseless, stealthy
way, and was not a favorite with Rupert or his mother. They felt that
there was something suspicious and underhanded about her.

"What can I do for you, Mrs. Marlow?" asked Mrs. Rollins, civilly.

"I'm all out of matches. Can you give me a few?"

"Certainly."

Mrs. Marlow took the matches, but did not go. She sank into a chair and
grew social.

"And how is the times affectin' you, Mrs. Rollins?" she asked.

"Rupert is out of employment. All he has to depend upon are odd jobs."

Mrs. Marlow darted a curious glance at the bureau drawer in which her
neighbor had deposited the purse.

"It don't make so much difference as long as a body has got money to
fall back upon," she said.

"That is not my condition."

"I'm sorry for it. I surmised you might have money ahead. You're better
off than I am, for I have no boy to work for me."

"If I am better off than anybody," said Mrs. Rollins, with a faint
smile, "I suppose I ought not to complain."

"My! What a nice lot of provisions!" exclaimed Mrs. Marlow, espying for
the first time the open basket. "Sure, you buy things by the quantity."

"That was a present to Rupert from a rich gentleman whose acquaintance
he made."

"It's a nice thing to have rich friends. Rupert, would you mind tellin'
the gentleman that you know a poor widder that would be thankful for his
kind assistance?"

"I don't feel well enough acquainted with Mr. Sylvester for that," said
Rupert, annoyed.

"Sure his name is Sylvester, is it? And where does he live?"

"In Harlem."

"And what's the street and number?"

"I should prefer not to tell you."

"Ah, it's selfish you are. You want to keep him to yourself."

"I don't expect to see him again."

"Then why do you mind tellin' me where he lives?"

"I don't want to annoy him."

Mrs. Marlow turned her attention to his mother.

"Would you mind givin' me a small bit of meat for my supper, you've got
so much?" she said.

Her request was complied with, and she at length left the room.

"What a disagreeable woman!" exclaimed Rupert. "She was prying about all
the time she was here."

"Yes. I don't enjoy her company much, but I can't order her out of the
room."

They had a nice supper, which Mrs. Rollins and Grace enjoyed. Rupert sat
down at the table, but confined himself to a cup of tea, having already
supped at Mr. Sylvester's.

The next day he resumed his hunt for a place, knowing well that his good
luck of the day previous would not take the place of regular employment.
But in dull times searching for a place is discouraging work.

He was indeed offered a position in a drug store up town at three
dollars a week, but there were two objections to accepting it. The small
pay would not more than half defray the expenses of their little
household, and, besides, the hours would be very long.

Resolving to leave no means untried, Rupert decided to remain out till
five o'clock. Perhaps something might turn up for him at the last
moment. He was walking in front of the Metropolitan Hotel when a boy
hailed him in evident surprise.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Why shouldn't I be all right, George?" asked Rupert, in great surprise.

"I thought you had broken your leg."

"Who told you such nonsense?"

"There was a slip of paper brought to your mother early this afternoon,
saying that you had been run over by a horse car, and had been carried
into a drug store near Thirtieth Street."

Rupert was amazed.

"Who brought the paper?"

"A messenger boy."

"And I suppose my mother was very much frightened?"

"She went out directly, and took the car up to Thirtieth Street."

"What can it mean?"

"I don't know," said George Parker, shaking his head. "I am glad it
isn't true."

"If anybody played this trick on purpose, I'd like to give him a good
shaking."

"You'd better go home and let your mother know you are all right."

"I will."



CHAPTER V.

MRS. MARLOW'S SCHEME.


Mrs. Marlow was of a covetous disposition, and not overburdened with
principle. When she saw Mrs. Rollins drop a purse into her bureau
drawer, she immediately began to consider how she could manage to
appropriate it. It was necessary to get into the room when the widow was
out, but unfortunately for her plans, Mrs. Rollins seldom left her
daughter.

"Why can't she go out and get a bit of amusement like other folks?" she
muttered.

Presently Mrs. Marlow had a bright idea. If the widow could suspect that
some accident had happened to Rupert her absence could be secured.

She made her way to a district messenger office, and wrote a message
announcing that Rupert had been run over and had his leg broken.

Then she went home and waited for the success of her stratagem.

Opening her door, she soon saw the young messenger ascend the stairs.

"Where does Mrs. Rollins live?" he asked.

"On the next floor," she answered, smiling with satisfaction.

Soon--almost immediately--Mrs. Rollins came down stairs in a terrible
state of anxiety. She scarcely noticed Mrs. Marlow, who was watching her
through the open door of her room, but hurried on her sad errand.

"Now's my chance!" thought Mrs. Marlow. "I hope the brat's asleep."

She crept softly up stairs and stealthily opened the door of her
neighbor's room without knocking. Once in the room, she looked
cautiously toward the bed. Grace had her face turned toward the wall and
was in a light slumber.

"Heaven be praised!" thought Mrs. Marlow.

She walked on tiptoe to the bureau and opened the upper drawer. There
was the purse! Mrs. Rollins had gone out in such a hurry that she had
not thought to take it.

Mrs. Marlow took it hurriedly and dropped it into her capacious pocket.

Before she could leave the room Grace woke, and turning her head saw
her.

"What's the matter, Mrs. Marlow? Why are you here?" she asked, in a
startled voice.

"Drat the child!" muttered Mrs. Marlow, under her breath. Then aloud, "I
thought you was asleep, my dear, and I didn't want to disturb you."

"But why are you here? Where is my mother?"

"She went out in a hurry like as if she had heard bad news. I saw her go
out, and thought you might want something. So I came up, but I didn't
want to disturb you."

Grace was surprised. It was not like Mrs. Marlow to be so thoughtful and
considerate.

"No," she said, "I don't want anything--except my mother."

"She won't be gone long, my dear."

"Did she say anything to you when she went out?"

"No; but I saw a telegraph boy come upstairs with a message like, and
she went out directly afterwards."

"I wish I knew what she went out for."

"You'll know soon. I must hurry back now, for my kettle will be bilin'."

Once in her own room Mrs. Marlow opened the purse, after she had locked
the door. Her delight at discovering the gold piece was great.

"And it's a gold piece you've got, Mrs. Rollins!" she exclaimed. "Sure
you're in luck, Maggie Marlow, for once in your life. It's ten dollars,
as sure as you live. And I might be passin' it off for a quarter. I'll
have to get it changed quick."

Mrs. Rollins had taken a dollar in silver, but there was a dollar and a
half left besides the gold piece.

After she got into her own room it occurred to her that she might have
hunted up the basket of provisions and helped herself from what was
left.

"But it don't matter," she reflected. "With all this money I can buy
what I like."

She put on her bonnet and shawl, and going down stairs went to the
nearest grocery store.

"What can I do for you, Mrs. Marlow?" asked the grocer.

"You may give me a pound of tea, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar and
a loaf of bread," answered Mrs. Marlow, volubly.

"Are you sure you've got money enough to pay for them?" asked the
grocer, doubtfully.

"Yes, and more, too."

Upon this assurance the articles were put up, and Mrs. Marlow passed
over the gold eagle.

"A ten-dollar gold piece!" exclaimed the grocer, in surprise. "And where
did you get so much money? Have you come into a fortune?"

"Sure it was given me by a cousin of my husband--he's a rich man, and
lives uptown. It isn't often he thinks of me, but he opened his heart
this time."

This explanation seemed plausible, and the grocer gave Mrs. Marlow her
change--about nine dollars.

"I'm glad you are so lucky," he remarked. "I shall be glad to have you
come again--as long as the money lasts," he added, with a laugh.

"Sure I made a good excuse. He'll never mistrust," said Mrs. Marlow to
herself, as she went back to her room. "Now, Mrs. Rollins, you may come
back as soon as you like."

Mrs. Rollins was away three hours. She visited the locality mentioned in
the note she had received, but could hear nothing of a boy being run
over by the cars and having his leg broken. She went into a drug store,
but neither the druggist nor his clerks had heard of any such accident.

"Where can they have taken my boy?" she moaned. "If I could only find
him, and have him brought home!"

There seemed to be absolutely no clew. After a while she bethought her
of the sick girl she had left behind.

"If Grace wakes up she won't know what has become of me, and will feel
frightened. I ought to have told her, or left word with Mrs. Marlow."

Weary and disheartened, she went home and toiled up the stairs to her
own room.

"Where have you been, mother?" asked Grace, anxiously, "and what did you
go out for?"

Mrs. Rollins sank into a chair, and could not answer at first for very
weariness.

"What message did the telegraph boy bring you, mother?"

"What do you know about the telegraph boy, Grace? Were you awake when I
went out?"

"No, mother. Mrs. Marlow told me."

"She told you about a telegraph boy calling on me?"

"Yes. I waked up and saw her in the room. She said you had gone out, and
she thought the telegraph boy had brought you bad news."

"So he did, Grace," said the widow, and she burst into tears.

"What is it, mother? Anything about Rupert?"

"Yes. Your poor brother has been run over by the cars and got his leg
broken."

"Did you see him? Where is he?" asked Grace, anxiously.

"No. I couldn't find him. I went to where the note mentioned, but could
not hear anything about him."

"Perhaps he was taken to some hospital."

"Yes, I didn't think of that. I am sure he will send me a message as
soon as he gets a chance. I wish I knew where he is."

Mrs. Marlow was aware that the widow had returned, but hesitated about
going upstairs. She was afraid some questions might be asked that would
involve her in trouble. Besides, Mrs. Rollins might discover the loss of
the purse, and the evidence of Grace might expose her to suspicion.

"Drat the child? I wish she hadn't waked up. Then I could deny that I
had been in the room at all."

But Mrs. Rollins did not have occasion to go to the bureau. She was
absorbed in thoughts of Rupert. She did not know what course to take to
get further knowledge of him. It seemed hard, but she could think of
nothing except to wait for some message from him.

All at once she heard a familiar step on the stairs.

"It sounds like Rupert," said Grace, half-rising from the bed in her
eagerness.

Mrs. Rollins rose and hurried to the door. She reached it just as Rupert
opened it and dashed into the room.

"Oh, Rupert!" exclaimed the mother, joyfully. "Then your leg isn't
broken?"

"I should say not. I should like to settle with the one that told you
so. Tell me all about it, mother."

"So it was a telegraph boy who brought the message?" he said,
thoughtfully, after the explanation.

"Yes."

"Let me see the message."

Rupert examined it, but the handwriting was not one that he was familiar
with.

"Give it to me, mother. I'll find out the office it came from, and
perhaps in that way I can get some light on the mystery."

"I don't see what object anyone could have in playing such a cruel trick
on me," said the widow. "Thank heaven, it isn't true."

Rupert took the note and went to the nearest messenger office.

"Was any messenger boy sent from here this afternoon to Elizabeth
Street?"

The superintendent looked over the books.

"Yes," he answered.

"Can you tell who left the message?"

"It was a stout woman, of medium height."

"What did she wear?"

"She had on a faded shawl. I don't remember what kind of a hat she
wore."

But a light had already dawned on Rupert.

"It was Mrs. Marlow!" he said to himself.



CHAPTER VI.

RUPERT AS A DETECTIVE.


The next question that suggested itself to Rupert was, "What object
could Mrs. Marlow have in sending off his mother on a wild goose chase?"
The answer occurred immediately. "The purse."

He hurried home, and fairly ran up stairs.

"Mother," he cried, entering out of breath, "where did you put the purse
I gave you?"

"In the bureau drawer."

"Will you look and see if it is there now?"

Wondering at his earnestness, Mrs. Rollins opened the bureau drawer.

"It is gone!" she said, with a startled look.

"I think I know where it has gone," said Rupert, his suspicions now
become certainties.

"Where?"

"Mrs. Marlow can probably tell you."

"Do you mean that she has taken it, Rupert?" said his mother.

"I have found out that Mrs. Marlow sent the messenger giving you the
false report of my accident. You can guess her motive."

"It hardly seems credible."

"I think there can be no doubt of it."

"What shall we do?"

"I will try to get some further evidence. You remember that Grace woke
up and saw her in the room."

"You did not see her go near the bureau, Grace?" asked Mrs. Rollins.

"No, she was just leaving the room when I woke up."

"Wait here a minute, mother."

Rupert darted down stairs and made his way to the grocery store which he
judged Mrs. Marlow would be likely to visit.

"What can I do for you, Rupert?" asked the grocer, pleasantly.

"Has Mrs. Marlow been here to-day?"

"Yes," laughed the grocer. "The old lady seems to be in funds. What do
you think, Rupert? She changed a ten-dollar gold piece here."

"I thought so," said Rupert. "That gold piece was stolen from my
mother."

"You don't tell me so!" ejaculated the grocer, opening wide his eyes in
astonishment.

"It's a fact. How did she account for having so much money?"

"She said it was given her by a cousin of her late husband--a very rich
man."

"That was a fiction of Mrs. Marlow's."

"It's too bad, Rupert. What do you want me to do? I can't give you the
gold piece, for I gave Mrs. Marlow the change, about nine dollars. I
can't afford to lose so much."

"You can help me to get back that money. When I call upon you, you can
testify that she paid it to you."

"So I will, Rupert. I didn't think the woman was such a mean thief."

Five minutes later Rupert knocked at Mrs. Marlow's door.

The widow opened it herself, and when she saw her visitor she suspected
his errand, but she was resolved to deny all knowledge of the money.

"How do you do, Rupert?" she said. "I thought you had met with an
accident?"

"Did you? How came you to think so?" asked Rupert, looking her full in
the face.

"The boy told me--the telegraph boy."

"Did he? That is strange. The note he brought my mother was sealed."

"Then he must have opened it. You can't trust them boys."

"How are you getting along, Mrs. Marlow? I see you have been buying some
groceries," for the packages were on the table.

"Yes. I got a few things that I needed," said the widow, uneasily. "Then
you didn't have your leg broken, after all?"

"If I did, it's well again. By the way, Mrs. Marlow, when my mother was
out a purse was taken from the room."

"You don't tell me!" said Mrs. Marlow, flushing. "Them thieves is so
bold. I must look and see if I haven't had something taken."

"I believe you came into the room while mother was gone."

"So I did," answered Mrs. Marlow, with engaging frankness. "I went in to
see if your dear sister wanted anything done."

"You found her asleep?"

"She waked up just as I entered the room. She was only having a cat nap.
I told her why your mother had gone out, she seemed so alarmed like."

"And then you went to the table drawer and took out the purse."

"It was in the bureau drawer----"

Here Mrs. Marlow stopped short, feeling that she had betrayed herself.

"You are right. You have good reason to know. You went to the bureau
drawer and took out the purse."

"It's a lie, whoever says it," exclaimed the widow. "You're in good
business, Rupert Rollins, to be comin' round accusin' a poor woman of
stealin'--me that's as honest as the babe unborn."

"It may be so, Mrs. Marlow, but where did you get the gold piece you
paid to Mr. Graves?"

"Sure, where did he hear that?" thought the widow, quite taken aback.

"Where did you get it?" demanded Rupert, sternly.

"Sure I got it from a cousin of my late husband, who sent it to me
yesterday."

"Where does he live?"

"On Lexington Avenue."

"What is his name?"

"John Sheehan," answered Mrs. Marlow, after a pause.

"At what number does he live?"

"I don't just remember," answered the widow, warily.

"You can tell between what streets he lives."

"I think it's somewhere between Thirtieth and Fortieth Streets, but my
memory isn't good."

"There is no need of making up any more stories, Mrs. Marlow. The purse
contained eleven dollars and a half, including the gold piece. You spent
a dollar at the grocery store. I want the balance."

"Sure you're very cruel to a poor widow, Rupert Rollins," said Mrs.
Marlow, bursting into tears, which she could command when occasion
required. "I never was called a thafe before."

As she spoke she drew out her handkerchief, but, unfortunately, there
was something entangled with it, and the purse was twitched out and fell
on the floor.

Rupert sprang forward and secured it, though Mrs. Marlow tried to put
her foot on it.

"This is the purse that was taken from mother," said Rupert. "How came
it in your pocket?"

"I don't know," faltered the widow. "I can't account for it."

"I can. Hereafter, Mrs. Marlow, if you ever enter our room again I will
send for a policeman."

"It's my own purse!" asserted Mrs. Marlow, deciding to brazen it out.

For answer Rupert opened it, and showed written inside the name "Frank
Sylvester."

"Do you see that, Mrs. Marlow? That is the name of the gentleman who
gave me the purse."

"Why didn't I say that was my cousin's name?" thought Mrs. Marlow, but
it was too late.

Rupert counted the contents of the purse, and found them intact, except
the dollar which Mrs. Marlow had spent.

"I won't say anything about the money you spent," he said, "though I
might claim the groceries. Good afternoon, and try to lead a better
life."

Mrs. Marlow sank into a rocking-chair, and began to cry dismally. Her
plans had miscarried for a certainty, and she felt angry with herself.

"Why didn't I put the purse in my trunk?" she asked herself. "Then he
wouldn't have found out. Sure I cheated myself."

Rupert went upstairs with a light heart.

"Well, did you hear anything of the purse?" asked his mother.

For answer he held it up.

"Where did you get it?"

"It came from Mrs. Marlow's pocket."

"What a wicked woman!" exclaimed Grace. "She must have taken it when I
was asleep."

"Did she give it up willingly? I thought she would have denied it."

"So she did, mother, but your son is a detective. I'll tell you how I
managed it," and he told the story.

"There's only a dollar gone," he said in conclusion. "Don't leave it in
the bureau drawer again, though I don't think Mrs. Marlow will trouble
you with another call."

A day or two later the rent came due, and eight dollars had to be taken
from the scanty fund, which left the family again very near destitution.

Rupert did not relax his efforts to secure a place, but when business is
dull the difficulty of securing a position is much increased. He became
anxious, and the prospect seemed very dark.

"I must do something," he said to himself, "if it's only selling papers.
That will be better than blacking boots, though that is an honest
business."

To make matters worse, his mother was unable to procure vests to make
from any of the readymade clothing establishments.

"We've got all the hands we need," was the invariable answer to her
applications.

They tried to economize more closely, but there was small chance for
that. They had not eaten meat for three days, and remained contented
with bread and tea, leaving out sugar, for they felt that this was a
superfluity in their circumstances. It was emphatically a dull time, and
there seemed no chance to earn anything.

"Rupert," said his mother, drawing a ring from her finger, "take this
ring and pawn it. There seems no other way."

"Isn't it your wedding ring, mother?"

"Yes, Rupert, but I cannot afford to keep it while we are so poor."

Rupert took the ring, and bent his steps towards Simpson's, for he felt
that there he would be likely to meet fair treatment.



CHAPTER VII.

A LUCKY MEETING.


It saddened Rupert to think his mother's wedding ring must be
sacrificed, but when they were actually in need of food sentiment must
not be considered. After that, when they had no longer anything to pawn
except articles of clothing, Rupert shuddered to think what might lay
before them.

He entered Simpson's with a slow step. A woman was ahead of him and he
waited for his turn.

"Well," said an attendant, courteously, "what can I do for you?"

"What will you give me on this ring?"

"What do you want on it?"

"Two dollars," answered Rupert.

"No doubt it is worth that, but we have so many rings in stock that we
are not anxious to receive more. We will give you a dollar and a
quarter."

Rupert hesitated, when to his surprise some one tapped him on the
shoulder.

"What brings you here, Rupert?" were the words that reached his ear.

He turned round in surprise.

"Mr. Sylvester!" he exclaimed.

"I see you have not forgotten me. What brings you here?"

"Sad necessity, Mr. Sylvester. But--I didn't expect to find you here.
Surely you----"

"No, I have not come here to pawn anything," said the young man,
smiling. "On the contrary, I want to redeem a watch for an old
schoolmate who was obliged to pawn it. He has a wife and child and was
thrown out of employment four weeks since. Fortunately I ran across him,
and have got him a place."

"I will wait till you have attended to your business."

Soon a gold watch was placed in Mr. Sylvester's hands, and he paid the
pawnbroker twenty dollars and sixty cents. It had been pledged not quite
a month for twenty dollars. The sixty cents represented the three per
cent. a month interest allowed by the laws regulating pawn shops.

"Now, young man," said the attendant, "do you want the dollar and a
quarter I offered you on your ring?"

"Yes," answered Rupert.

"No," interposed Frank Sylvester, quietly. "What ring is this, Rupert?"

"My mother's wedding ring."

"And you are actually reduced to pawning it?"

"Yes, Mr. Sylvester, I can't get anything to do, and we are out of
money."

"You have a mother and sister, I think you told me?"

"Yes, sir."

"I think we can do better than pawn the ring. Where do you live?"

"In Elizabeth Street."

"Does your mother prefer the city to the country?"

"No, sir; but she has no choice."

"Suppose I obtain for her a position as housekeeper in the family of an
elderly gentleman in Rutherford, about ten miles out on the Erie
Railroad, would she accept?"

"She would be glad to do so but for Grace. She could not be separated
from her."

"There would be no occasion. My uncle lives alone in a large house, and
a child would make the house pleasanter."

"Some gentlemen don't like children."

"That is not the case with Uncle Ben. But let us go out. You have no
further business here. We will go into the Astor House reading room and
have a chat."

Rupert followed his friend to the Astor House and they ascended to the
reading room on the second floor. Taking adjoining armchairs, Mr.
Sylvester drew from his pocket the following letter which he showed to
Rupert. It ran thus:


     "My housekeeper is about to leave me, to join her married daughter
     in Wisconsin. I must supply her place, but I know of no one in
     Rutherford who would suit me. Can't you find me some one--a
     pleasant, ladylike person, who would make my house homelike and
     attractive? I think you know my tastes. Please give this matter
     your early attention.

     BENJAMIN STRATHMORE."


"Now," continued Mr. Sylvester, "I was quite at a loss whom to
recommend, but I think your mother would suit Uncle Ben."

"Suppose you call and make her acquaintance, Mr. Sylvester. Then you can
tell better. That is, if you don't object to visiting our poor home."

"My dear Rupert, I shall be delighted to meet your mother. One thing I
am sure of in advance, she is a lady."

"She is, Mr. Sylvester," said Rupert, warmly.

Mrs. Rollins was a good deal surprised when Rupert entered the room,
followed by a handsomely-dressed young man, and she rose from her seat
in some trepidation.

"Mother," said Rupert, "this is Mr. Sylvester, who was kind enough to
give us the money and provisions I brought home the other day."

"I am glad to meet so kind a friend," said the widow, with simple
dignity. "Ask him to take a seat."

"I came to make you a business proposal," began Mr. Sylvester, who was
already favorably impressed with Rupert's mother. "Your son thinks you
might be willing to accept the position of housekeeper in my uncle's
family, in Rutherford."

Mrs. Rollins instinctively looked towards Grace.

"I see what you are thinking of," interposed her caller. "There will be
no difficulty about taking your daughter with you."

"Then I shall be glad to accept. And Rupert----"

"Rupert, I am sure, will prefer to remain in the city. I will find him a
place. Till then he can stay with me."

Rupert brightened up at this suggestion. He had no desire to go to the
country, but would like nothing more than a place in some city
establishment.

"How soon could you arrange to go, Mrs. Rollins?"

"Next Monday."

"That will answer. I will apprise my uncle. Now as to the compensation."

"If I have Grace with me I shall hardly feel justified in asking
compensation."

"My uncle would not think of making any account of the little girl's
board. I think he paid your predecessor twenty-five dollars a month.
Will that be satisfactory?"

"It is very liberal, sir."

"You will allow me to offer you a month's salary in advance. I can
settle it with Uncle Ben."

This relieved Mrs. Rollins from a great embarrassment, as she needed to
replenish her wardrobe to some extent.

"I will go out with you on Monday, and take Rupert with me, as he will
wish to see how his mother and sister are situated."

"How kind you are, Mr. Sylvester!" said Rupert, gratefully.

"Don't give me too much credit, Rupert. You have helped me out of an
embarrassment. I expected to have a long hunt for a housekeeper. Thanks
to your mother I have escaped all that."

"You don't know how much it means to us, Mr. Sylvester."

"Well, perhaps, I have some idea. It seems a good arrangement for all of
us. Well, good morning. Oh, by the way, you meet me at the Astor House
to-morrow morning at eleven o'clock."

"Yes, sir, with pleasure."

Mrs. Marlow was a very observing woman. She always kept her door ajar,
and saw every one who went upstairs. Her curiosity was considerably
excited when she saw Rupert's companion.

"My stars!" she said to herself. "What a fine-looking young man! He
looks like a real gentleman--I wonder does he know them Rollinses."

Mrs. Marlow would liked to have listened at the door and heard the
conversation between her neighbors and the distinguished-looking
visitor. But this was not practicable. However, as Mr. Sylvester came
down stairs she ventured out and intercepted him.

"Sure, you've been callin' on my friend, Mrs. Rollins," she said.

"Is she a friend of yours?" asked Sylvester, looking at her curiously.

"Indeed she is, and she's a fine lady. But she's been very unfortunate.
I would like to have helped her, but I am poor myself, and----"

"Won't you accept this?" said Sylvester, offering her a dollar as the
easiest way of getting rid of her.

"Thank you, sir," said Mrs. Marlow, with a profound courtesy. "It's easy
to see you're a kindhearted man."

"What a curious woman! I should hardly think Mrs. Rollins would have
made choice of her as a friend!" soliloquized the young man as he pushed
on to the street.

"I wonder what his name is and where he lives," speculated Mrs. Marlow.
"He must be the young man that gave the Rollinses the purse and the
basket of provisions. If I knew where he lived I'd go and see him
often."

There is very little doubt that Mrs. Marlow would have kept her word,
but unfortunately she had no clew to the residence of her new
acquaintance.

When Rupert came downstairs, she put herself in his way.

"You had a call from a nice gentleman this morning," she said,
insinuatingly.

Rupert felt too happy to slight even Mrs. Marlow, and he answered,
courteously,

"Yes."

"I hope he brought a present for your mother."

"No, Mrs. Marlow, but he brought something better."

"And what can that be?" asked the widow, with intense curiosity.

"He engaged mother to take a place as housekeeper for a gentleman in the
country."

"You don't say! And what'll be done with your sister? I'll board her
cheap, and be like a mother to her."

Rupert could not help smiling at the idea of leaving his sister in such
hands. He explained that Grace would go with her mother.

"Sure your mother's a lucky woman! I'd like to be a housekeeper myself.
Wouldn't you speak to the gentleman for me?"

"I'll mention it if you like."

Rupert could promise this safely, for he would take care that Mr.
Sylvester understood the character of their unscrupulous neighbor.

"If you'll do it, Rupert, dear, I'll pay you back the dollar I borrowed
the other day, when I get my first week's wages."

"Some folks is lucky!" soliloquized Mrs. Marlow. "The young man ought to
have taken me. I'm much stronger than Mrs. Rollins, and I would have
made a better housekeeper, but maybe my turn will come next."



CHAPTER VIII.

JULIAN LORIMER.


On Monday Rupert saw his mother and sister established at Rutherford.
Their new home was a large old-fashioned mansion, exceedingly
comfortable. One of the best chambers was assigned to Mrs. Rollins, with
a small room opening out of it for Grace.

Benjamin Strathmore was a stout old gentleman of seventy, tall, and
patriarchal-looking with his abundant white hair.

"How do you like my selection of housekeeper, Uncle Ben?" asked
Sylvester, when he had a chance to be alone with the old gentleman.

"She will just suit me," said Mr. Strathmore, emphatically. "She is
evidently a lady, and she will be an agreeable companion if I am not
mistaken. Mrs. Martin was a good housekeeper, but she had no idea
outside of her duties. I could not chat with her unless I talked about
cooking. My evenings were solitary. She spent the time in the kitchen or
in her own room. Now the house will be really social."

"I am delighted to have suited you, Uncle Ben."

"Where in the world did you come across Mrs. Rollins? Have you known her
long?"

"I became acquainted through her son Rupert, to whom I introduced you."

"He seems a fine, manly boy. He can stay here, too. I will find
something for him to do."

"Thank you, Uncle Ben, but I shall find him a place in New York. He
prefers the city, and it will afford him more opportunities of
advancement. Rupert is ambitious, and I predict that he will rise in
time to an excellent position."

"Just as you think best, Frank; but remember that if ever there is need,
or he becomes sick, there is room for him here."

To anticipate a little. Mr. Strathmore was not disappointed in Mrs.
Rollins. It came to be her custom to spend the evenings with her
employer. Sometimes she read aloud to him. At others, while she was
engaged in needlework, and Grace, now restored to health, was occupied
with her books, the old gentleman sat back in his easy chair, and with
calm content watched his companions. He no longer felt his former burden
of solitude.

"I have never been happier," he wrote later on to his nephew. "I
regretted the loss of Mrs. Martin, but now I feel that it was for my
happiness, since it has opened the way for such an acceptable
substitute."

Rupert went at first to the house of Mr. Sylvester, where their
acquaintance soon ripened into friendship.

They were walking down Broadway one day, when Frank Sylvester noticed a
sudden start on the part of his young companion.

"What is the matter, Rupert?" he asked.

"Do you see that stout man on the opposite side of the street, Mr.
Sylvester?" said Rupert.

"Yes. What of him?"

"He was the cause of my poor father's failure and death."

"How was that?"

"My father was a merchant in Buffalo, and that man was his partner.
During a three months' absence in California, where he went partly for
his health, the business was managed by Mr. Lorimer in such a way that
the firm became deeply involved and was brought to the brink of failure.

"My father was greatly astonished at the sudden change, for when he left
all was prosperous. He could not account for the disappearance of assets
and the accumulation of claims against the firm except on the theory
that large sums had been appropriated by his partner. He could prove
nothing, however, and the firm was dissolved. When the business was
closed there was barely enough money left to pay the creditors. My
father found himself with nothing, and soon died of grief and
mortification."

"What became of Lorimer?"

"I have not seen him till to-day. I heard that he had come to New York
and established himself on Third Avenue somewhere, in the same business.
If so, he must have had capital, and this must have been the sum of
which he defrauded my father."

"The story is a sad one, Rupert. You and your mother must have suffered
from the change in circumstances."

"We did. We did not care to stay in Buffalo, where we had been
accustomed to live in good style, so we came to New York, where we could
live according to our change in circumstances among those who had never
known us. I thought I might get employment that would enable me to
support my mother and sister in tolerable comfort. I did get a place
with Tenney & Rhodes, but I only earned five dollars a week. Just before
meeting you I lost that, and had you not come to our assistance I don't
know what would have become of us."

"I feel repaid for whatever I have done for you," said Frank Sylvester,
kindly. "Has this Mr. Lorimer a family?"

"He has a wife and one son."

"Were your families intimate?"

"Yes. We occupied adjoining houses. Julian Lorimer was about my age, and
attended the same school. I never liked him, however. He had a very
high opinion of himself, and put on airs which made him generally
unpopular."

"Did he put on airs with you?"

"Not till after the failure. My father moved out of his house, but Mr.
Lorimer remained in his, and appeared to live in about the same style as
before, while we moved into a few rooms in an unfashionable part of the
city. After this Julian took very little notice of me."

"You haven't met him since you came to New York?"

"No; I rather wonder I haven't, but I suppose I shall some day."

The time came sooner than he anticipated.

Rupert was crossing Eighth Avenue near Forty-second Street one day, when
he came near being run into by a bicycle. The rider gave a note of
warning, and then stopped short in surprise.

"Rupert Rollins!" he said, in a half tone of inquiry.

"Is it you, Julian?" asked Rupert, recognizing his former schoolmate.

"Yes. Are you living in New York?"

"Yes."

"Whereabouts?"

"At present I am staying in Harlem."

"I heard you and your mother were living in a tenement house down town."

"My mother is not living in the city," returned Rupert, coldly.

He did not care to give Julian any more information than was absolutely
necessary.

"Where is she, then?"

"In Rutherford, New Jersey."

"Why don't you live there, too?"

"Because I expect to be employed in New York."

"Then you are out of work now?"

"Yes."

"Why don't you live in the Newsboys' Lodge? That is cheap."

"Have you ever lived there?"

"Do you mean to insult me? I live in a nice house on One Hundred and
Sixteenth Street."

"So do I."

"You are bluffing."

"Why should I? What good would it do me?"

Further inquiry developed the fact that they lived in neighboring
blocks.

"I don't see how you can afford to live on such a street."

"I am at present visiting a friend--Mr. Sylvester."

"Is he rich?"

"Yes. I believe so."

"I suppose you know that my father has a nice new store on Third Avenue,
near Forty-second Street?"

"I heard something of the kind," said Rupert, briefly.

"He's doing a staving business--a good deal larger than he did in
Buffalo."

Rupert made no comment.

"You said you were out of employment, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"You might call round at the store. Perhaps pa can find a place for you
as a cash boy, though you would be rather large for that."

"How much does he pay his cash boys?"

"Two and a half a week."

"I hardly think I could live on that," said Rupert, smiling.

"It is better than being out of work."

"That is true, but I shouldn't like to be getting more and more
behindhand every week. Are you attending school?"

"Yes, but I think of going into business soon."

"Perhaps," suggested Rupert, "you will take one of the cash boys'
places."

"You must be crazy. When I go into business it won't be into a retail
store. I will get a place in some wholesale establishment. There's a
better chance to rise there."

"I didn't know but you would go to college."

"I am not very fond of study. Pa would send me to Columbia College or to
Harvard, if I wanted to go, but I prefer a life of business. I want to
become a merchant prince."

"It would certainly be agreeable. I shall be satisfied if I can be
successful enough to support my mother and sister in comfort. That is my
ambition."

"Oh, I dare say. You are a poor boy, you know."

"Look here, Julian, there's one thing I don't understand. Your father
and mine were partners, and I supposed in the same circumstances. Both
failed together. Yet your father now has a large store of his own, and
we are poor. Can you tell me why?"

"I'm not good at conundrums. I'll have to be going. If you want a place
as cash boy I'll ask pa to fit you out. Ta ta!" And Julian dashed off on
his wheel.

"I hope some time to be a successful and honorable man of business,"
thought Rupert, as he followed his former schoolfellow with his glance.
"My ambition would not be satisfied with anything short of this."



CHAPTER IX.

RUPERT BECOMES A BELL-BOY.


Rupert found a pleasant home at the house of Mr. Sylvester, but he was
anxious as soon as possible to secure employment. His friend was active
in his behalf, but the general depression in business was such that
there seemed to be no opening anywhere.

One evening at supper Mr. Sylvester said: "I have been hoping to find
you a place in a wholesale establishment in Pearl Street. I learned that
one of the younger clerks was about to leave, but he has decided to stay
six months longer, and, of course, we can't wait as long as that."

"No, Mr. Sylvester, it would seem like six years to me."

"Even if your wants were all provided for in that time?"

"I feel that I ought to be at work, and not depending on your
generosity. I would rather work for two dollars a week than remain
idle."

"That is the right spirit, Rupert. You will be glad, then, to hear that
I have at last found employment for you."

"But I thought you just said----"

"That I could not get you a place in Pearl Street. True, but this is a
different position--very different. It is that of bell-boy in a hotel."

"What are the duties, Mr. Sylvester?"

"You will be at the command of the clerk, and will have to run up and
downstairs, answering calls from the guests, or carrying messages from
the office. In fact, you will be a general utility clerk, and I have no
doubt will get terribly tired the first few days."

"Never mind. I can stand that. If I make enough to pay my way I shall be
satisfied."

"You will be better paid than if you were in a mercantile house. You
will receive five dollars a week and get your meals at the hotel."

Rupert's face brightened.

"Why, that is excellent," he said. "When I was at Tenney & Rhodes' I
only received five dollars weekly and had to furnish my own meals."

"True, but you were then in the line of promotion. Here you cannot
expect to rise any higher unless you qualify yourself to be a hotel
man."

"At any rate I am willing to try it. Where is the hotel?"

"It is the Somerset House, on lower Broadway. It is not a fashionable
hotel, but comfortable and of good reputation. I am somewhat acquainted
with the office clerk, who was an old schoolmate of mine, and at my
request he has given you this position."

"I hope I shall give satisfaction. I shall be a green hand."

"The duties are easily understood and learned. If you show that you are
desirous of succeeding you will make a good impression, and you will get
on well."

"When am I to commence work?" asked Rupert.

"I will take you down town with me to-morrow morning, and introduce you
to Mr. Malcolm, the clerk. I suppose you will be expected to go to work
directly."

"I should prefer that."

"One thing I must tell you. You will have to secure a room outside, as
the employees are not expected to sleep in the hotel. All the rooms are
reserved for guests."

"What will my hours be?"

"From seven in the morning till seven in the evening. By this
arrangement you will have your evenings to yourself."

Rupert went to bed in good spirits. He was of an active temperament, and
enjoyed occupation. It would be pleasant to him also to feel that he was
earning his own living.

In the morning Mr. Sylvester went down town with him.

The Somerset House was a hotel of moderate size, only five stories in
height, which is low for a city hotel. I may as well say here that I
have not given the correct name of the hotel for obvious reasons. So far
as our story is concerned, the name I have chosen will do as well as any
other.

"Those who frequent this hotel are not of the fashionable class,"
explained Mr. Sylvester, "but it is largely patronized by traveling
salesmen and people from the country. The rates are moderate, and those
come here who would not feel able to afford the Fifth Avenue or hotels
of that grade."

The entrance was neat, and Rupert was well pleased with the aspect of
his new place of employment.

At some distance from the doorway was the office, and behind the reading
room.

"Mr. Malcolm," said Sylvester to a pleasant-looking man of thirty-five,
who stood behind a counter, "this is the young man I mentioned to you.
He will be glad to fill the position of bell-boy, and from my
acquaintance with him I feel quite sure he will suit you. His name is
Rupert Rollins."

The clerk smiled pleasantly.

"We shall soon know each other better," he said. "I hope you are strong,
for you will have a good deal of exercise here."

"I think I can stand it," said Rupert. "I shall soon get used to it."

"I have a plan of the rooms here," went on the clerk. "Take it and go
upstairs and look about you on the different floors. It will be
necessary that you should learn the location of the rooms."

"I will leave you now, Rupert," said Mr. Sylvester. "You can come back
to my house to-night, and to-morrow you can look up a room near the
hotel."

For the first few days Rupert got very tired. He would have to go
upstairs perhaps thirty or forty times during the day, sometimes to the
fifth floor. There was an elevator in the Somerset Hotel, but the
bell-boys were not allowed to use it.

When a guest registered and was assigned to a room on one of the upper
floors he was conducted to the elevator, but the bell-boy, carrying his
valise, was obliged to walk upstairs, and meet him at the landing-place.
Often Rupert felt that there was an injustice in this, and that no harm
would be done if he were also allowed to use the elevator. However, he
was not foolish enough make any complaint, but by his pleasant manners
and cheerful alacrity won the good opinion of Mr. Malcolm, the clerk.

The Somerset Hotel was on the European and American systems combined. If
a guest preferred simply to lodge at the hotel he could do so, and take
his meals either at the hotel restaurant or in any other.

One day a guest registered who was assigned to No. 143, on the fifth
floor.

To Rupert was assigned the duty of carrying up the valise. He found it
unusually heavy, and more than once as he climbed the stairs he felt
that he would be glad to reach his destination. At the elevator landing
he met the owner of the valise, a middle-aged man with a brown,
sunburned face.

"You found it rather a heavy tug, didn't you?" he asked, with a smile.

"Your clothes seem to be heavy," returned Rupert.

"It isn't clothes merely," said the stranger. "I come from Colorado, and
I have some specimens of quartz inside. Here, give me the valise, and
lead the way to my room."

Rupert did so.

When they reached No. 143 the stranger drew a fifty cent piece from his
pocket and handed it to Rupert.

"Take it," he said. "You deserve something for carrying such a load."

"Thank you, sir," said Rupert. "I don't find many guests so liberal."

"Shall I tell you why I am so liberal? It is because when I was a boy,
rather older than you, I was for four months a bell-boy in a Chicago
hotel."

"Were you, indeed, sir?" said Rupert, with interest. "Did you retire on
a fortune?"

"No; fees were few and far between. However, I saved a little and
borrowed a little more, and made my way first to Nevada, and afterwards
to Colorado. I have been pretty well prospered, and now I come home to
see my old father and mother in Maine."

"I hope you will find them well."

"Thank you, my boy, I heartily hope so. It is seventeen years since I
have seen their dear old faces, and it will be a good day for me when we
meet again."

"Are your father and mother both living?"

"Both at last accounts."

"Then you are luckier than I am. My father is dead."

"That is unfortunate. You are young to have lost a parent."

"Can I do anything for you, sir? Have you all that you need?"

"Yes," answered the guest, with a look at the washstand. "What I want
first is water and towels, for I have just got in from a long railroad
journey. Those seem to be provided. If I want anything else I will
ring."

"Fifty cents!" repeated Rupert. "I wish I could be as well paid every
time I carry a valise up stairs. Then I should get rich fast."

During the second week a tall, thin man with long hair flowing down over
his coat collar registered at the Somerset.

"No. 119," said the clerk. "Front!"

Rupert answered the summons.

"Take this gentleman's valise to No. 119."

Rupert thought the stranger a very singular-looking man. His long,
unkempt locks were of yellowish hue, and his eyes were shifty and
evasive. But of course in a hotel frequented by all sorts of people, no
special attention was paid to any particular guest.

Rupert met him upstairs and conducted him to his room.

"Take the valise inside," said the guest.

Rupert did so, when he was startled by the guest locking the door,
making him a prisoner.

"Now, boy," he said, his eyes lighted with an insane gleam, "you must
prepare to die!"

"What?" exclaimed Rupert, startled. "What do you mean?"

"I am commanded by God to offer you up as a sacrifice, even as Abraham
offered up his son Isaac."

As he spoke he drew a knife from his breast and advanced toward the
hapless bell-boy.



CHAPTER X.

A BELL-BOY'S EXPERIENCES.


It was evident that the guest whom Rupert had conducted to his room was
a maniac of the most dangerous character. The man's face was terrible to
look upon. His small, ferret-like eyes seemed to dilate with ferocious
cunning. He was a man not perhaps robust or strong, but too strong for a
boy of sixteen. And Rupert was alone with him.

It was terrible to think that he was to become the victim of such a man.
Apart from the pain of death, it was made more terrible at the hands of
an insane man.

What should he do?

Rupert had read somewhere that to openly combat an insane person is
dangerous. It is advisable to humor his delusions. Fortunately he had
read a story recently in which a man had escaped death by this very
means. It was a desperate chance, but Rupert resolved to make use of
it. Instead of showing the fear he really felt, he forced himself to
appear calm.

"You are mistaken," he said; "the boy you are to sacrifice is under the
bed."

The maniac was just about to lunge with his knife, but Rupert's words
made him pause.

"Look under the bed and you will see him," continued the bell-boy.

The bed was at the other end of the room. The maniac went over to it,
and, getting on his knees, began to peer underneath.

Here was Rupert's opportunity. He sprang to the door, turned the key,
but did not dare to stop to lock it on the outside, and dashed into the
entry. The door of the next room chanced to be open. He darted inside,
and bolted himself in.

He was just in time. The maniac, discovering the ruse, rose to his feet,
and, knife in hand, ran into the hall with a blood-curdling cry. He
looked in vain for Rupert, who was nowhere to be seen. The staircase was
near. He ran down, flight after flight, till he reached the office
floor, and made a great sensation as he dashed through it with his drawn
knife.

Here, however, he had some one more formidable than a boy to contend
with. Two burly porters sprang upon him, and felled him to the floor.
The knife was taken from him, and the clerk, horror-struck, leaning over
him, asked, "What did you do with the boy?"

"I tried to kill him, but he escaped," said the lunatic. "But I will
have him yet!"

"Call two policemen," said Mr. Malcolm. "One of you go upstairs and find
the bell-boy."

Rupert remained in his temporary refuge, not daring to come out. He
heard his unpleasant acquaintance leaving the adjoining room, but was
apprehensive that he might return. At length he heard some one calling,
"Rupert, where are you?" and recognized it as the voice of one of the
other bell-boys. He opened the door and came out.

"Where is the insane man?" he asked quickly.

"He was captured in the office, and his knife taken from him. How did
you escape from him?"

"Wait till I go down stairs and I will tell you."

When Rupert reached the office he was eagerly questioned. He gave the
particulars of his unpleasant interview with the crank.

"I congratulate you on your presence of mind," said the clerk. "You had
a narrow escape from a terrible fate."

"Where is he now?"

"On his way to the station-house. You need not be afraid that he will
come back. He is sure to be locked up."

Later in the day the proprietor of the hotel sent for Rupert.

"My boy," he said, "you ran a terrible risk this morning. It was in my
service, and I feel that I ought in some way to express my appreciation
of your remarkable courage and presence of mind. Here are fifty dollars,
which I hope you will find of service."

It was not alone the gift, but the kind words, that gratified Rupert. He
was able to buy a new suit for best, and a few other articles of which
he had need.

During the day he had a call from a man connected with one of the daily
papers, who wished his photograph to reproduce in connection with an
account of the incident. This, however, Rupert declined to give, not
caring for notoriety. The account of the crank's onset, however,
appeared, and a good many curious visitors were attracted to the
Somerset Hotel.

Among these was Julian Lorimer. Rupert's name had not been mentioned in
the account, and Julian was surprised to meet him.

"How came you here?" he asked.

"I am employed here," answered Rupert, quietly.

"What are you?"

"A bell-boy."

"Is that so? Can you tell me who it was that was nearly killed by a
crazy crank yesterday?"

"I was the one."

"You don't say so!" exclaimed Julian, in amazement. "Was he really so
dangerous?"

"He came near killing me."

"Humph! That was rather unpleasant. Do you get good pay here?"

"Yes, very good--enough to support me."

"It isn't much of a position, though."

"If you will find me a better one I will give this up," said Rupert,
smiling.

"I am expecting to go into a wholesale house soon."

"I hope you will succeed in getting such a place. It is rather hard
getting business positions now."

"Oh, my father is well known in the city. He can find me one."

"That will be in your favor."

Here Rupert was called off by a summons from the office, and the
interview terminated. He had not told Julian of the handsome gift
received from the proprietor, as he knew that his old schoolfellow had
no real interest in his welfare.

One who is employed in an American hotel has an excellent opportunity to
study human nature. It is free to all comers, and among those who sit in
the lobby or use the reading room there are always some who are not
guests. The larger proportion of these are respectable persons, but some
are adventurers who may be on the lookout for victims.

One young man, stylishly dressed and sporting an eyeglass and a cane,
Rupert had more than once noticed. He came in from time to time, bought
a sheet of paper and an envelope at the news stand, and wrote a letter
at one of the tables in the reading room. Rupert, whose acquaintance
with the city was limited, decided from his dress that he belonged to
some prominent family. It was noteworthy, however, that he always
entered alone. He sometimes, however, entered into conversation with one
of the guests of the hotel. Those from the country seemed to have his
preference.

This surprised Rupert, who wondered what attraction rural visitors could
have for a young man of his elegant appearance.

One day an old man of sixty registered from a town in Orange County. His
face was weather-beaten, and he looked like a farmer. His clothing was
rusty, and appeared to have been worn for several years.

He might have been taken for a poor man, but Rupert had seen him draw
out a large wallet full of bills, and judged that, if not rich, he was
in comfortable circumstances.

It so happened that the young man already referred to had also seen the
wallet, and he at once began to pay attention to the rural visitor.
Watching his opportunity, he sat down beside him in the reading room one
afternoon.

"It is a pleasant day, sir," he said, sociably.

"So 'tis, so 'tis," said the old man, feeling flattered by attention
from a young man of such distinguished appearance.

"I suppose you live in the country?"

"Yes, I am from Orange County."

"The finest part of the State. If my business did not keep me in the
city I should like very much to make my residence there."

"What might your business be?" asked the old man, with natural
curiosity.

"I am a broker, sir, in Wall Street. Of course you have heard of Wall
Street."

"Oh, yes," answered the old man, proud of his familiarity with the name
of this famous street. "Is it a pooty good business?"

"Well, that depends on circumstances. Sometimes I make money hand over
hand, but for the last month I give you my word I probably haven't made
over two hundred dollars."

"Two hundred dollars in a month!" repeated the farmer. "Why, that's
doing first rate, I call it."

The young man shrugged his shoulders.

"Not for a broker," he said. "Why if I make less than five hundred I
don't call it much."

"Five hundred dollars a month?" asked the farmer, much impressed.

"Yes."

"Why, that's six thousand dollars a year."

"Exactly. You are good in arithmetic," said the young man, languidly.

"Is--is there any chance to go into that business?" asked the Orange
County man, eagerly.

"My friend, I would hardly advise you to go into it. You are rather old
to begin a new business."

"That's so, but I don't ask for myself. I've got a son--he's my
youngest son--a young man of twenty-five, who's anxious to get something
to do in the city. He ain't much good on a farm--don't seem to like it.
He's read a good many books and stories about New York city, and he
wants to come here. I wish I could get him a chance to learn the broker
business. You haven't a place in your office now, have you?"

The young swell laughed in his sleeve.

"I've hooked the old man," he said to himself. "Now if I work my cards
right, I shall be able to make something out of him."

"My friend," he said, "I can't tell you at once, but I will think it
over, and--see you to-morrow morning."

He had not intended to finish his sentence thus, but just then he espied
at the door of the reading room a small, quiet-looking man whose glance
rested for a moment upon him. He knew--he had reason to know--that this
was Richard Darke, a well-known detective.

He rose from his seat and sauntered to the door, and in two minutes he
was one of the motley crowd that throng Broadway.



CHAPTER XI.

RUPERT RECEIVES A COMMISSION.


The detective, as he left the reading room, passed Rupert, who was just
entering.

"Let me see," he said, tapping Rupert on the shoulder, "you are the
bell-boy who came near being murdered by a crank?"

"Yes, sir."

"You escaped very cleverly. You are evidently a sharp boy. Keep your
eyes open, don't you?"

"Yes, sir; except when I'm asleep."

"We detectives have to keep our eyes open all the time, but we can't be
everywhere at once. Now I feel a little inclined to make you my
deputy--not permanently, but for a time."

"All right, sir."

"Have you noticed rather a flashy young man, looking like a dude, with
an eyeglass and cane?"

"Yes, sir; he is frequently in the hotel."

"You know, of course, that he isn't a guest?"

"Yes, sir. We bell-boys know who are guests and who are not."

"Possibly you may have wondered what his business is here?"

"Yes, sir."

"He is a confidence man. His business is to pick up victims, and make
what he can out of them. Do you see that old gentleman over by the
window?"

"Yes, sir."

"He is an honest and probably well-to-do old farmer, I judge. That
fellow has been having a talk with him. When he saw me he had business
elsewhere. But he hasn't given up his scheme for bleeding the old man.
Probably he will have another interview with him to-morrow. Now I should
like to have you keep your eye on the two. Find out if you can what the
man is after. I can't, for he knows me by sight. I want to foil his
schemes and save the old man from loss. Here is my address."

The detective placed in Rupert's hand a small, plain card, bearing the
name,

     RICHARD DARKE.

Below he put his address, which need not be given here.

"Don't say anything about this," he said, "except to me. Should you
mention it to anyone else in the hotel the fellow would soon see that he
was watched, and we might fail to catch him. I am reposing considerable
confidence in a boy."

"Yes, sir, but you will not regret it."

"I believe you," said the detective, cordially. "I'll see you again
soon."

"One moment, Mr. Darke. What is the young man's name?"

"He has several. The one he uses most frequently is Clarence Clayton."

"I will remember it, sir."

Clarence Clayton left the Somerset Hotel in good spirits. He felt like
an angler who was on the point of landing a fine fish.

"I wonder if old Darke saw me talking with that old Granger," he
soliloquized. "I hope not. Probably he knows me, though thus far I have
escaped having my picture in the Rogues' Gallery. Those old fellows know
everybody. Fortunately there is no regular detective at the Somerset,
and I shall be able to finish my negotiations with my country friend
before he drops in again."

Mr. Clarence Clayton was getting low in funds. Somehow fortune had not
favored him of late, and the sums he had realized out of recent victims
were very small. Yet he felt so confident of success in the present
instance that he sauntered up to the Sinclair House, at the corner of
Broadway and Eighth Street, and going into the restaurant, which has a
high reputation for choice viands, he ordered an appetizing repast at a
cost of a dollar.

He was scarcely half through when a young man, got up in very much the
same style, came in and sat down opposite him.

"Ha, Clayton!" he said, "so you're in luck."

"How do, Mortimer? What makes you think so?"

"Your extravagant spread. It isn't permitted to failures like your
humble servant to dine in such princely style."

"Then why come here at all?"

"I am only going to order fish balls and coffee, but I want those good,
and shall get them good here. Have you made a ten-strike?"

"No; business is dull with me, but I think I'm on the track of a fair
thing."

"What is it, and where?"

"Wouldn't you like to know, Mortimer?" said Clarence, putting one finger
waggishly on one side of his nose. "There isn't enough in it for two."

"Oh, I don't want to interfere with you, of course. I thought I'd like
to know whereabouts you are operating at present."

"What do you say to the Windsor Hotel?"

"Isn't that rash? Don't the detective know you?"

"He can't be everywhere, the worthy man. Your friend Clarence knows what
he is about. You won't interfere with me?"

"Of course not."

In spite of this assurance Mortimer made it in his way to drop into the
Windsor Hotel later in the evening, but of course he did not see
Clarence Clayton, who had put him on the wrong scent.

A good dinner was not the end of Clayton's extravagance. He dropped into
the Star Theatre, and enjoyed an attractive play, though it cost him a
dollar.

"Josiah Onthank will pay for it, I hope," he said, for he had
ascertained from the hotel register the name of his Orange County
friend. "It will cost something," he laughed, "to get his son into my
office in Wall Street. Oh, Clarence, you're a sly one, you are!"

Rupert was free from his duties at seven o'clock, but, remembering the
commission he had received, he sought out the farmer and opened a
conversation with him.

"How do you like New York?" he asked.

"It's a big city," answered the farmer. "I haven't been here before for
twenty years."

"Have you ever traveled on the Elevated cars?"

"No, I'm a little mite afeard to travel so high in the air. Suppose the
train should go through?"

"I don't think there's any danger, sir. The road is strongly built."

"I s'pose I'm timid, but I guess I won't ventur'. My son Ephraim
wouldn't mind. I came to the city mostly on his account. He wanted me to
see if there wasn't an opening here. He's got sick of the farm and wants
to be a city man. Are you at work here?"

"Yes, I'm a bell-boy in this hotel."

"Does it pay you well?"

"Yes, sir. I get five dollars a week and my board."

"That's good for a boy like you. It's more than I pay my hired man, and
he's twenty-eight. Is your work hard?"

"I have to run upstairs and down a good deal. I got pretty tired at
first."

"I met quite a slick young man here this afternoon; he says he's a
broker in Wall Street. He knows how to make money."

"Does he, sir?" inquired Rupert, getting interested.

"Yes; he says he made two hundred dollars last month, and he thinks
that pretty small."

"I should think it a good deal to make."

"He doesn't have to work very hard, either. Ephraim would like being a
broker. He always did like to dress up, but at home he can't do it till
evenin' after he has milked the cows and finished the chores."

"Did the gentleman mention his name to you?"

"Yes, he said his name was Clarence Clayton. He thinks he may be able to
take my son Ephraim into his office."

"Did he tell you where his office was?"

"Well, down in Wall Street somewhere. I s'pose there's a good deal of
money made in Wall Street."

"And a good deal lost, too," suggested Rupert.

"When are you going to see Mr. Clayton again?"

"To-morrow morning. He's goin' down to show me his office, and he'll
think it over whether he can take Ephraim or not."

"I suppose he is a rich man."

"I expect he is. He dresses fine. Ephraim would like to dress that way,
but he hasn't the shape for it. I should feel proud to have him doin' as
well as Mr. Clayton."

"I hope you won't mind my giving you a little advice, Mr. Onthank, even
if I am a boy."

"Go ahead, sonny! I'm sure you mean well."

"Don't make any arrangements with Mr. Clayton to take your son till you
have had a chance to talk over the matter with some one. I have a
friend, a very experienced man, and I am sure his advice would be worth
taking."

"You don't think there's anything wrong about Mr. Clayton, do you?"
asked the farmer, startled.

"I don't say that, but if he wants you to pay him some money for giving
your son a a place, don't do it till you have mentioned it to me."

"I won't. There won't be no harm in that."

"And don't tell him who it is you are going to consult. Supposing he
wasn't all right, it would put him on his guard."

"Thank you, sonny, you are a young boy, but I guess you've got a level
head."

"I hope so," laughed Rupert.

"Do you know where there's a good place to take supper--a good country
supper? I've been to the hotel eatin' houses, but it don't exactly suit
my country taste."

"Yes, Mr. Onthank, I think I can find a place that will suit you."

Rupert took the farmer to a plain restaurant not far away, where he got
some cream toast, a good cup of strong tea, and a piece of apple pie.

"That's good," said the farmer, with a sigh of satisfaction. "It's
better than all them fancy dishes I get at some places. There ain't
nothing like plain home livin'."

Rupert didn't part from Mr. Onthank till nine o'clock, when the farmer
expressed a wish to go to bed.

"I always go to bed at nine o'clock when I'm to home," he said. "Folks
here in York seem to sit up all night."



CHAPTER XII.

CLAYTON'S SCHEME.


About ten o'clock in the forenoon Clarence Clayton entered the Somerset
Hotel and looked about for the Orange County farmer. Clayton was clean
shaved, his shoes were brilliantly polished, and there was a rose in his
buttonhole.

"My dear old friend," he said, with effusion, as he espied Josiah
Onthank sitting near the door, "I hope you are feeling in the best of
health this fine morning."

"Thank you, Mr. Clayton. I feel pooty smart. Why, you're all dressed up.
You look as if you'd just come out of a bandbox."

"Men in my position have to be particular about their appearance. Now if
I was in the country I wouldn't care, but I have an appointment with Mr.
Vanderbilt this morning, and, of course, I must be particular."

"Do you know Mr. Vanderbilt?" asked Mr. Onthank, considerably
impressed.

"Intimately. I dined at his house last week."

Mr. Clayton took in with a quick glance the dress and outward appearance
of his rustic friend. Mr. Onthank certainly did not look as if he had
just stepped out of a bandbox. His clothing was dusty, and his shoes
were innocent of blacking.

"My friend," he said, "if you will pardon the suggestion, it would be
well to have your boots blacked."

"I didn't bring any blacking with me," responded the farmer. "Besides, I
had 'em blacked last Sunday."

"As you are going to Wall Street, and may meet some of the prominent
people of the city, it will be well to have them blacked this morning.
Leave it to me. I will find a boy who will do it for a nickel."

"I always black my own boots when I am to home."

"In the city we employ bootblacks."

"Five cents seems pooty good pay for blackin' boots. It don't take
more'n five minutes."

"Oh, well, the poor boys need the money. I look upon it in that light."

"To be sure!" and Mr. Onthank began to look upon his companion as a very
kind-hearted man.

Out in the street they came upon a boy who was quite ready to undertake
the job. Before he got through, however, he began to think there wasn't
much profit in it. The farmer's shoes were of cowhide, and absorbed a
great deal of blacking. Still the boy was an expert, and made them look
better than they ever had before.

"That's worth a dime," he said.

"I won't pay it," declared the farmer. "Ten cents for blackin' a pair of
boots! Why it's ridiculous!"

There might have been an angry discussion, but Clayton drew a dime from
his pocket and put it into the boy's outstretched palm.

"Very likely he's got a mother to support," he said. "Besides, he's made
your boots look fine."

"That's so," assented the farmer, looking complacently at the boy's
work. "He seems to know his business. Mrs. Onthank would be surprised if
she could see me now."

He walked along with unwonted pride, ever and anon glancing delightedly
at his renovated boots.

"I can't make 'em look like that," he said. "They look better than they
did when they was new, but ten cents is an awful price to pay."

They walked along Broadway till they reached Wall Street, down which
they turned.

Mr. Onthank was considerably impressed by the tall and stately buildings
on Broadway.

"Is your office near here, Mr. Clayton?" he asked.

"Yes, quite near."

Near the junction of Wall and New Streets Clayton led the way into a
handsome office, occupied by a firm of well-known brokers.

"This is my office," he said. "Don't ask me any questions till we come
out."

They entered the room, but many were entering, and no particular notice
was taken of them.

"There's a sight of clerks," said the farmer. "You must do a big
business."

"We do. Wait here a minute till I speak to my cashier."

He went up to a window, and in a tone inaudible to Mr. Onthank asked the
price of a particular stock. Of course an answer was given, so that they
appeared to be conferring together. Then he rejoined his Orange County
friend, and they walked slowly to the end of the counter.

"Now we'll go out," said Clayton. "I have one or two calls to make on
the street."

"Do you trust your clerks to do the work while you are away?"

"Oh, yes, they understand their duties. Things will go on like
clockwork. You see we have a perfect system."

"You don't do business alone, do you?"

"No, there are several of us in the firm. I may say frankly that I only
have one-fourth interest in the business. Still I am well paid, very
well paid."

"I s'pose you have to pay a big rent."

"Ten thousand dollars a year."

"You don't say! Why, you can get a big store where I live for only
twelve dollars a month."

"Very likely; but there is a good deal of difference between the country
and the city. Now let us walk along Broadway, down to the Battery. We
will sit down there, and I will tell you what I can offer your son."

In a few minutes they were sitting on one of the benches, looking out to
Governor's Island.

"It's a great privilege to live in New York, Mr. Onthank. I think your
son would enjoy it."

"I know he would. Why, Ephraim would give all his old boots to be at
work here."

"If they were all cowhide boots like yours the offer wouldn't be very
tempting," thought Clayton.

"Yes," he said, "I can easily believe it. May I ask what wages your son
would expect."

"Well, I reckon twenty-five to thirty dollars a month would satisfy
him."

"Twenty-five to thirty dollars a month! Why, my dear friend, what are
you thinking of?"

"I thought he couldn't live in the city in good style for less," said
the farmer, deprecatingly.

"Of course, of course, but you don't understand me. I wouldn't think of
offering him less than seventy-five dollars a month, to begin with."

"Gosh! you don't mean it?" said the farmer, his eyes opened wide.

"Certainly I do. That is the minimum salary I pay my clerks."

"Why, Ephraim would feel as rich as a king with that salary. When can
you make room for him?" he added anxiously.

"I must ask a few questions first. Has your son a fair education?"

"He attended the district school till he was fifteen."

"Then I suppose he is well up in the fundamental rules of arithmetic?"

"What's them?"

"I suppose he can add, subtract and multiply."

"Oh, yes."

"And write a fair hand?"

"He's pooty good at writin'."

"I presume he will do. Now, Mr. Onthank, I will tell you how I am
placed. There will be a vacancy next week, but a merchant up town wants
me very much to take his son. He will pay a liberal premium."

"What's that?"

"We always expect our clerks to pay a premium on entering our service.
How much money have you brought with you?"

"I've got two hundred dollars in my wallet. But what has that to do with
it?"

"A great deal, my friend. The premium must be paid down at once, and
that guarantees your son the place."

"How much do you ask?"

"The merchant I refer to is willing to pay two hundred dollars, but
between ourselves I don't favor engaging his son. I have been told that
he drinks. I hope your son doesn't drink?"

"Ephraim drinks cider at Thanksgivin', but he never drinks anything
stronger."

"I am glad to hear it. Intemperance is very objectionable in our
business. Now about the premium. I will agree to take your son for a
hundred and fifty dollars, though I have never before accepted less than
two hundred."

"A hundred and fifty dollars is a good deal of money," said Ezekiel,
cautiously.

"So it is, but think of the advantages. Think of his getting
seventy-five dollars a month, to begin with. Why in six months I shall
probably raise him to a hundred dollars a month."

Ezekiel Onthank was dazzled, and Clayton saw that he was. He felt that
he had almost landed the fish for which he was angling.

"I guess I'll take a day to think on't," said the farmer.

"I would advise you to accept at once. The other party may get in ahead
of you."

"Can't you give us the refusal of it for a day?"

"Really I don't see how I can."

"A hundred and fifty dollars is a good deal of money, and I want to
think it over."

"My dear friend, I don't see the need of it. Such situations are not to
be had every day. Why, the young man's salary the first year, supposing
he were promoted in six months, would amount to over a thousand dollars.
Deducting the premium, that would leave your son nearly nine hundred
dollars. That's a good income, isn't it?"

"Yes, so 'tis. Why our minister only gets six hundred dollars a year,
and he's a man of forty-odd."

"Exactly. You see what a brilliant prospect Ephraim will have. Really I
ought to insist on the full premium of two hundred dollars."

Clayton did his utmost to induce the farmer to decide at once, but Mr.
Onthank had promised Rupert not to do anything without talking the
matter over with him, and he kept his word.

"Well," said Clayton, "I'll give in to you. I'll give you twenty-four
hours to think over the matter, but of course I must ask you to pay me
something for the favor. Give me five dollars on account of the premium,
and you shall have a day to make up your mind."

This Mr. Onthank finally agreed to, and when the matter was settled they
walked back to the Somerset Hotel.

"You had better not say much about our negotiation," Clayton advised,
"till the matter is decided."



CHAPTER XIII.

CLAYTON'S DISAPPOINTMENT.


Josiah Onthank never for a moment doubted the good faith of the clever
swindler who was dazzling him with the prospect of a fine situation for
his son. He was a man well to do, and over and above his farm was easily
worth five thousand dollars in bonds and money interest.

Still he was reluctant to part with a hundred and fifty dollars, for
this seemed to him a good deal of money. Yet if it would secure his son
a position in the city with a large income it would be worth while. At
any rate he would lay the matter before Rupert, and ask his advice.

During the afternoon he had a chance to speak with the bell-boy.

"I've got something to tell you," he said.

"All right, sir."

"I've seen the young man I spoke to you about."

"Did he make you any offer?"

"Yes; he promised to give my son a place in his office at seventy-five
dollars a month."

"Where is his office?"

"In Wall Street. It's big and fine. He must do a raft of business."

"He is very kind to give your son a place."

"Yes, but he wants a premium of a hundred and fifty dollars. That's what
bothers me. A hundred and fifty dollars is a pile of money. What do you
think of it?"

"If you could really get a place for your son at seventy-five dollars a
month--a permanent place--it would be worth the money."

"So 'twould, so 'twould. Then you'd advise me to pay the money?"

"He wants it in advance, doesn't he?"

"Yes."

"Did you get into the office?"

"Yes."

"How do you know it is his?"

"He told me so," answered Mr. Onthank, in surprise.

"Is that all the evidence you have?"

"He went and spoke to one of the men--his cashier, he told me. You don't
think there's anything wrong, do you?"

"I think, Mr. Onthank, the man is trying to swindle you."

"You don't say!" ejaculated the farmer.

"Have you given him any money?"

"No. Yes, come to think on't, I have. I gave him five dollars for a
refusal of the place. He said another man was after it."

"You haven't lost much yet. If you should give him a hundred and fifty
dollars you would lose it all."

"What makes you think so? He seems like a gentleman."

"My information comes from a private detective."

"Well, well, I guess I've been a fool," said the farmer, in a tone of
disappointment and mortification. "What do you advise me to do?"

"I will consult with the detective first, and tell you."

The next day Clarence Clayton made his appearance. Though, not quite so
sanguine as at first, he still hoped to carry out his original plan and
obtain possession of the bulk of the farmer's money.

He found Mr. Onthank waiting for him in the reading room.

"Well, my friend," he said, "I presume you have made up your mind to
secure a position for your son?"

"You don't think you could let me have it for less?" asked Mr. Onthank,
who had been instructed what to say.

"I don't see how I can. Nor can I give you long to decide. The other
party is waiting for me at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and if you don't come
to terms he will."

"You see it's rather a risk," said the farmer. "Suppose I pay my money
and you don't keep your part of the agreement."

"You seem to be very suspicious, Mr. Onthank," returned Clayton,
assuming indignation. "I am well known in the city as a man of the
highest honor."

"Just so," said the farmer. "Still, I should like to have you give me a
paper, agreein' to give Ephraim a position. Then I should feel safe."

"I see no objection to that," said Clayton. "I'll make it out here."

He sat down at the table, and in a few minutes handed Ezekiel Onthank
the following agreement:


     "In consideration of a hundred and fifty dollars paid to me by Mr.
     Ezekiel Onthank, of Orange County, New York, I hereby promise to
     give his son Ephraim a place in my Wall Street office, with a
     salary to begin with of seventy-five dollars per month. The
     engagement is to commence on the first of next month.

     CLARENCE CLAYTON."


"Is that satisfactory, Mr. Onthank?" he asked.

"I reckon so," said the farmer, reading the document slowly. "Do you
want the money to-day?"

"Certainly."

"Then I will go and get it."

Mr. Clayton leaned back in his chair in a pleasant frame of mind. He
chuckled to himself as he thought of the ease with which he had imposed
upon his rural dupe.

"Mr. Onthank thinks he is sharp," he soliloquized. "He may change his
opinion after awhile."

The farmer did not keep him waiting long. He re-entered the reading
room, but not alone. Richard Darke was with him.

Clarence Clayton started to his feet in dismay. He recognized the
detective at once.

"Sit down, Mr. Clayton," said Darke, smoothly. "I see you have been
doing a stroke of business with my friend, Mr. Onthank."

Clayton did not speak. He did not know what to say.

"Let me see the paper, Mr. Onthank."

The farmer handed it to the detective, who read it aloud slowly.

"You agree to give his son a situation in your Wall Street office? By
the way, where is the office?" and the detective bent a penetrating
glance on the face of the adventurer.

"I believe I made a little mistake," muttered Clayton. "Give me back the
paper, and I will correct it."

"It is quite immaterial. It will do as it stands. You have not told me
where your office is."

"I took him into it."

"Have you given him any money, Mr. Onthank?"

"I gave him five dollars yesterday."

"What for?"

"To get the refusal of the place."

"Very good. I see Mr. Clayton is a man of business. On the whole,
however, I don't think you have got full value for your money. Young
man, I will trouble you to return the five dollars to my country
friend."

"I--I am afraid I haven't got it with me," said Clayton, uncomfortably.

"How much have you?"

After searching his pockets the adventurer produced two dollars.

"Will it be convenient for you to remain in the city and prosecute this
man?" asked the detective, turning to the farmer.

"No--no. I want to leave town this afternoon."

"Then I am afraid we shall have to let him go. The three dollars you
have lost you must consider paid for experience. If it makes you more
cautious in future it will be well expended."

"So 'twill, so 'twill," said the farmer. "Much obleeged to ye, squire,
for gettin' me out of a scrape."

"You are still more indebted to the young bell-boy," indicating Rupert.
"Let me suggest that you can't do better than to offer him the money you
have saved from our sharp friend here."

"I'll do better than that," said the farmer. "I will give him ten
dollars. He has saved me from making a fool of myself."

"You see, Clayton," said the detective, "that it is better to be honest
than a knave. The bell-boy has made more in this affair than you."

"Can I go?" asked Clayton, crestfallen.

"Yes, and don't let me see you here again. I shall have my eye on you,
and the next time you won't get off so easily."

Clayton lost no time in availing himself of this permission. In sadness
and disappointment he left the hotel, inwardly resolving never to enter
it again.

"Why wasn't I satisfied with the five dollars?" he asked himself.
"Confound that young bell-boy! He has spoiled my game. But for him I
would be able to live in clover for a couple of months."

The farmer started on his return to Orange County in the afternoon.
Before going he handed Rupert a ten-dollar bill.

The bell-boy was surprised. He knew nothing of Mr. Darke's
recommendation, and did not expect such liberality from Ezekiel Onthank,
whom he looked upon as a poor man.

"I don't think I ought to take it, Mr. Onthank," he said.

"You needn't hesitate, sonny. I can afford it. I don't wear as good
clothes as the young sprig that tried to swindle me, but I ain't a poor
man by no means. If you ever have time to pay me a visit in Orange
County I'll make you welcome and see that you have a good time."

"Thank you, Mr. Onthank. If I should hear of a good situation for your
son I will let you know, and I won't charge a hundred and fifty dollars
for it, either. I haven't got an office in Wall Street, though."

"That was a good joke. That 'ere Clayton was a pooty smart rascal, after
all."

"Ho, ho!" laughed the farmer.

"Shall you invite him to visit you in Orange County, Mr. Onthank?"

"I guess he wouldn't accept. We live plain, and he's a rich Wall Street
broker. But we'll be glad to see you at any time."



CHAPTER XIV.

THE YOUNG NEWSBOY.


Rupert had engaged a room on Bleecker Street. It is not a fashionable
locality, but the time was when A. T. Stewart and other men of social
standing lived upon it.

Rupert's room, a small hall bedroom, cost him two dollars per week. It
was rather large for a hall room, and was clean and well furnished,
beyond the average of such rooms in that locality. The house was kept by
a widow, a Mrs. Stetson, a good, hard-working woman, who deserved a
better fate than the position of a lodging-house keeper.

Usually Rupert reached his room about eight o'clock in the evening. He
left the hotel at seven, and stopped for supper on the way. Arrived at
his room he generally spent an hour in reading or studying (he had
undertaken to review his arithmetic, thinking that some time he might
obtain a situation where a good knowledge of that science might be
needed).

He had nearly reached the house where he lodged on the evening after the
departure of Mr. Onthank from the Somerset Hotel, when his attention was
drawn to a boy of ten with a bundle of the "Evening News" under his arm.
He was shedding tears quietly. Rupert had a warm heart and was always
kind to younger boys.

He was touched by the little fellow's evident distress and spoke to him.

"What is the matter, Johnny?" he asked.

"I can't sell my papers," answered the boy.

"How many have you got left?"

"Twelve copies."

"How many did you have in the first place?"

"Twenty."

"Then you have only sold eight?"

"Yes, sir."

"So that you are behindhand unless you sell more. Have you a father and
mother living?"

The boy answered in the affirmative.

"I shouldn't think they would let you go out selling papers so late."

"They are very poor," answered the boy, in a sorrowful tone.

"Doesn't your father work?"

"Yes, he works for Mr. Lorimer, on Third Avenue."

Rupert's attention was aroused. This Lorimer, as the reader has already
been told, was his father's former partner, and, as Rupert believed, the
cause of his failure.

"If your father has a position I should think he would be able to
support his family."

"Mr. Lorimer only pays him five dollars a week," explained the boy.

"Only five dollars a week!" repeated Rupert, in amazement. "Doesn't he
pay more to his other salesmen?"

"Yes, but he knew father was poor, so he told him he must work for that
or leave the store."

Rupert was not altogether surprised to hear this, as he knew that
Lorimer was a mean man who had no consideration for the poor.

"Where do you live?" he asked.

"In that big house," answered the boy, pointing to a tall tenement, one
of the shabbiest on the street. "We live on the fifth floor, but I guess
well have to move out to-morrow."

"Why?"

"Father hasn't been able to save enough to pay the rent."

"What rent do you pay?"

"Six dollars. Father has only got three dollars toward it."

"What is your name?"

"Harry Benton."

"Well, Harry, I am not very rich, but I can help you a little. I will
take all your papers, to begin with."

The little boy's face brightened.

"You are very kind," he said.

"And now you may take me to your home. Perhaps I can think of some way
to relieve your father."

"Come this way, then," said Harry.

Rupert followed him to the entrance of the tenement house.

"I don't know but you'll be tired going up so many stairs," he said.
"We live on the top floor."

"I'm not a very old man yet," laughed Rupert. "I guess I can stand it if
you can."

The halls were dark and dingy, and there was an unwholesome
tenement-house odor. Through one open door Rupert caught sight of a
drunken man lying prone on the floor. Evidently the occupants of the
house were for the most part of a low class. But when Rupert followed
his little guide into the home of his parents on the upper floor, he
found respectable, and not squalid, poverty. There was an air of
neatness pervading the room, while Harry's parents looked thoroughly
honest. Mr. Benton gazed inquiringly at Rupert.

"I hope you'll excuse my intrusion," said Rupert, politely, "but your
little boy seemed in trouble and I ventured to come upstairs with him."

"I couldn't sell my papers," explained Harry. "He took all I had left,"
indicating Rupert.

"You were very kind to my little boy," said Mrs. Benton, gratefully.
"Won't you sit down? This is my husband."

Mr. Benton was a man of medium size. His features were worn and sad.

"Pray take a seat," he said. "We haven't many callers and fewer friends.
We can appreciate kindness, as we meet with it so seldom."

"Harry tells me you are in the employ of Mr. Lorimer on Third Avenue."

"Yes."

"He says you are poorly paid."

"Five dollars a week can hardly be considered liberal," returned Mr.
Benton, with a faint smile.

"Mr. Lorimer is a very mean man."

"Do you know him?"

"Yes. He was my father's partner in Buffalo."

"Your father is not in business with him now?"

"My poor father died. I have every reason to think that Mr. Lorimer
swindled him out of a large sum of money, and brought on his financial
ruin."

"I am sorry to hear it," said Benton, gravely.

"Does he pay other salesmen as poorly as he pays you?"

"There may be two or three others as poorly paid, but I think that he
knew of my poverty and took advantage of it. At any rate he called me to
the office one day, and told me that I must accept a reduction from
eight dollars to five or leave his service. You can imagine how I
decided. With my wife and child to be supported I had no choice. That
was a month since, and my life has been a hard struggle from that time.
I have been obliged to let Harry sell papers in the streets, though the
poor boy cannot earn more than from ten to fifteen cents a day in that
way."

"Harry told me that you would have difficulty in paying your rent."

"Yes," answered Mr. Benton, despondently. "We lack three dollars of the
sum required, and our landlord is a hard man. I am afraid we shall be
turned into the street."

"If you will allow me I will lend you the amount you need."

"But I am afraid I shall not be able to repay you."

"I will take my risk of that."

"Then I will not refuse. It will lift a burden from my mind. But how can
you afford to be so kind? You don't look rich."

"I am a bell-boy in a hotel, but I am pretty well paid, and I received
to-day a handsome present from a guest. It is because I am poor myself
that I can sympathize with the poor. Besides, you have suffered from the
meanness of the man who ruined my poor father. That alone gives you a
claim upon me."

"I should like to know the name of my new friend."

"My name is Rupert Rollins."

"I shall remember it. I hope you will come to see us sometimes."

"I shall be glad to do so."

"Are none of your family living?"

"Yes, I have a mother and sister in Rutherford, a few miles from the
city. They are pleasantly situated, and mother is earning her living as
a housekeeper. But I won't intrude on you longer to-night. I will call
again soon."

It seemed strange to Rupert that he should again be reminded of his
father's old partner. Mr. Lorimer apparently had not changed for the
better since he had removed from Buffalo to New York. He was the same
mean, selfish man he had always been. Yet he seemed to be prosperous,
while his victims were suffering the ills of poverty.

Rupert could not understand it. It was a difficult problem for him to
solve. This is not surprising, for it has puzzled a great many older and
wiser persons than Rupert.

"Well," he reflected, "I have parted with three dollars out of ten that
Mr. Onthank gave me. But no matter. The three dollars will do more good
to the Bentons than to me. I can spare it, and I would not care to have
it back."

An idea came to Rupert. The hall bedroom which he occupied was lonely
and not homelike. If he could only make his home with a refined family
like the Bentons he would find it much more agreeable. If they, with the
help of the eight dollars a month, which his rent cost him, could take a
small flat, it would be a good arrangement all round.

At present there were difficulties in the way, as they were unable to
raise even the small rent which they were paying now. Still
circumstances might change. He resolved to keep up the acquaintance, and
watch for some way of helping Mr. Benton to a better position. Even ten
dollars a week would be a poor salary for a good dry-goods salesman, yet
upon this he would be able to live comfortably.

Rupert had the curiosity to enter a drug store and look up the name of
Mr. Lorimer in the directory. He ascertained that the dry-goods merchant
lived on Lexington Avenue, between Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth
Streets. This was a desirable location, and the house, as he afterwards
learned, was a handsome, high-stoop residence, probably worth
twenty-five thousand dollars.

But Rupert did not envy his father's old partner. "I would rather be
poor and honest," he reflected, "than live in a fine house, surrounded
by luxury, gained by grinding the faces of the poor."



CHAPTER XV.

MR. SYLVESTER'S BIRTHDAY.


The next day Rupert received a letter at the Somerset Hotel. It was
signed by Frank Sylvester, and ran thus:


     "DEAR RUPERT: To-morrow is my birthday. Come and spend the evening
     with me. I will wait dinner till you come.

     "Your Friend,
     "FRANK SYLVESTER."


Rupert decided at once to accept the invitation. He had learned to like
Sylvester, as indeed he had reason to do.

He was in doubt as to whether there would be much company, but he was
not provided with a nice suit, so that he need not be ashamed of his
appearance. Arrived at his friend's residence, he found to his surprise
that there was but one other guest besides himself, a Mr. Maxwell, a
stout, pleasant-looking man of forty-five.

"Rupert," said Sylvester, "this is my cousin, John Maxwell. He is not
an idler like myself, but is a partner in a large dry-goods house down
on Grand Street. John, this is a special friend of mine. When we first
met he was able to do me a service which I shall long remember. I am
rather young to adopt him, having only reached the age of twenty-five."

"Quarter of a century," laughed Maxwell.

"That sounds older, to be sure. At any rate I look upon him as a younger
brother, and so have invited him here to my birthday dinner, as a
relative."

"You don't seem to have many relatives, Mr. Sylvester," said Rupert. "I
thought there might be quite a party."

"Most of my relatives live in the West. However, I am satisfied to have
you here and my Cousin John."

"If you are Frank's brother, I suppose I am your cousin also, Rupert,"
said Mr. Maxwell.

"I shall feel proud to have you regard me so, Mr. Maxwell."

"May I ask if you are in the same business as Frank?"

"Doing nothing at all," laughed Sylvester.

"I am a bell-boy at the Somerset Hotel," answered Rupert.

He watched Maxwell to see if the revelation of his position would affect
that gentleman's opinion of him.

"I hope you are well paid."

"Yes; I receive five dollars a week and my board."

"That is better than you would do with us."

"Mr. Maxwell," said Rupert, with a sudden thought, "I wish I knew you
better."

"Why?"

"Because then I might ask you a favor."

"To enter our employment? I will take you if you wish, but I advise you
to stay where you are."

"It is not for myself that I ask, but for an experienced salesman who is
in very hard luck. He is working for Stephen Lorimer, of Third Avenue,
at five dollars a week."

"Five dollars!" exclaimed Maxwell, in surprise. "And you say he is an
experienced salesman?"

"Yes, sir."

"But why should he work for such low wages then?"

"Mr. Lorimer knew that he was poor, had a family, and was therefore in
his power. He told him to choose between five dollars a week and
dismissal."

"That is like Lorimer. He has the reputation of being the meanest man in
the business. How did you become acquainted with the man you recommend?"

Rupert told the story, and both Sylvester and Maxwell were interested.

"I suppose you don't know Mr. Lorimer?" said Maxwell.

"I know him only too well," answered Rupert. "He was my father's partner
in Buffalo, and was the cause of his ruin and death."

"Was the firm name 'Rollins & Lorimer?'" asked Maxwell.

"Yes, sir."

"Then I have met your father. I was for several years a traveling
salesman, and sold goods to the firm in Buffalo. I always preferred
dealing with your father. I didn't like Lorimer."

"I am very glad to meet any one who knew my father," said Rupert,
brightening up.

"I can hardly refuse your request now, Rupert. Tell your friend--what's
his name?"

"Henry Benton."

"Tell Mr. Benton to call at our store early next Monday morning and
inquire for me. Give him a letter, so that I may know he is the right
party. We are not taking on any salesmen, but one in the dress
department is about to leave us and enter the employment of a firm in
Chicago. I will put your friend in his place at a salary of twelve
dollars a week."

"I can't tell you how much I thank you," said Rupert, gratefully. "You
will bring happiness to a deserving family, and I don't think you will
have occasion to regret it."

The dinner was an excellent one, and was enjoyed by the small company
who partook of it.

"I must tell you, Rupert," said Sylvester, "that I have peculiar reasons
for enjoying my twenty-fifth birthday, even if I have, as Cousin John
expresses it, lived a quarter of a century. An old uncle left me fifty
thousand dollars some years ago, directing that it should pass into my
possession at the age of twenty-five."

"I congratulate you, Mr. Sylvester. I am sure you will make good use of
it."

"I am not so sure of that, but I hope so. I have begun to make use of it
already. You shake your head, Cousin John, but I don't think you will
disapprove my expenditure. I have invested seventy-five dollars in a
gold watch for Rupert, and thirty-five more in a gold chain."

He drew from his pocket a watch and chain which he handed to the
astonished bell-boy.

"I don't know what to say, Mr. Sylvester," said Rupert, gratefully.

"Your face speaks for you. I want no other thanks."

"I don't know what they will say at the hotel. They will think I am
putting on style for a bell-boy."

"I want some one to share my good fortune. I believe it is the best way
to show my gratitude to Providence. As Cousin John has done something
for your new friend, Mr. Benton, I will follow his example. Here are
twenty-five dollars, which you may give him with my best wishes."

"This gives me even more pleasure than the watch," said Rupert, with
radiant face. "I wish you could see how much happiness your gift will
carry to a worthy family."

"I will call with you and make their acquaintance some day."

The evening passed pleasantly, and it was with a happy heart that Rupert
returned to his humble home. That is, it seemed humble compared with the
fine house in which he had spent the evening.

It was not until the next night that he was able to call on his friends
in Bleecker Street.

He toiled up to the fifth floor, and knocked at the door.

There was a low "Come in," and he lifted the latch and entered.

He was startled to see that Mrs. Benton had been shedding tears, and her
husband was leaning back in his chair, with a look of sadness and
despondency.

"What is the matter?" he asked quickly.

"I thought we could not be any worse off," said Mrs. Benton, tearfully,
"but I was mistaken. To-day Mr. Lorimer discharged my husband."

"What! in the middle of the week?"

"No; he is to leave on Saturday."

"But why is this?"

"I will tell you," said Mr. Benton. "Do you know Mr. Benton's son,
Julian?"

"Yes; he is a very disagreeable boy."

"I got into trouble with him to-day. He interfered with me in my work,
and I reproved him. The consequence is that he spoke to his father
against me, and got me discharged."

"You can imagine what this means to us," said Mrs. Benton. "It was hard
enough to live on five dollars a week, even with the help of the few
pennies that Harry brings in, but now we must live on nothing. I don't
know what will become of us."

"But Mr. Benton may secure another position."

"There is very little chance of it. No one is taking on new salesmen."

"Nevertheless Mr. Benton can go to work next Monday in a store on Grand
Street at a salary more than double what he is now getting."

"Surely you are not in earnest?"

"Quite so. I will give him a letter to Gilbert & Maxwell, and he will be
set to work at once."

"But this seems incredible."

"I will explain it to you."

"You are our good angel," said Mrs. Benton, when Rupert had concluded
his account. "You come to us in our sorrow with the best news we have
had for many a day."

"Now, Mr. Benton, I have a proposal to make. I want you to hire a nice
flat in a better neighborhood and take me as a lodger. I am willing to
pay you eight dollars a month. For twenty I think you can hire a
desirable tenement, which will only leave you twelve dollars to pay."

"We shall be very much pleased to do so. If only we had a little ready
money----"

"I came near forgetting something important. I am the bearer of a gift
to you from a good friend of mine, Mr. Sylvester, of Harlem. Yesterday
was his birthday. He has given me a gold watch and chain, and to you he
sends twenty-five dollars."

Mrs. Benton's joy can be imagined.

"You have indeed proved a friend," she said.

"It is a satisfaction to me to feel that the malice of Julian Lorimer
will be disappointed. If I see him to-morrow I shall not hesitate to
give him a piece of my mind."



CHAPTER XVI.

JULIAN HAS TWO DISAPPOINTMENTS.


Had Julian Lorimer been older, and in political life, he would have
aspired to the position of a boss. He enjoyed power, and desired to have
his power acknowledged by others. When Mr. Benton reproved him for
interfering with him he felt outraged and determined to have revenge
upon the independent salesman. Therefore he complained to his father,
and a discharge was the result.

Mr. Lorimer, however, regretted afterwards giving in to the wishes of
his son. He recognized the fact that Benton was an experienced salesman
whose services were valuable, and that he was getting these at an
extraordinary low rate of wages. He could secure a man in his place,
doubtless, but it would not be so easy to get one so competent as
cheaply.

Accordingly, on the morning succeeding the dismissal he had a
conversation with Julian at the breakfast table.

"I think I shall have to take Benton back, Julian," he said.

"What, after his impudence to me?" exclaimed Julian, frowning.

"Probably you provoked him. At any rate he is a valuable man. I don't
see how I can spare him."

"There are lots of clerks out of employment."

"That may be, but he has long experience."

"If you take him back, pa, he will insult me again. I should think you
would have more consideration for me."

"I can require him to apologize to you. The man is poor as poverty, and
won't dare to refuse."

"Can't you cut down his pay?"

"Not very well. I pay him very little now. You see, Julian, this is a
matter of business. I think you are too much in the store, as you have
no employment there. If you want to go to work, that will be a different
matter."

"No, thank you. When I go into business I want to be a banker or a
wholesale merchant."

"If you will be at the store at noon I will have Benton apologize to
you."

Mr. Benton was at work in his place when Julian passed through the store
and paused in front of his counter.

"Pa wants to see you in the office," he said, abruptly.

"Very well, as soon as I fold up these goods," answered the salesman.

"You'd better hurry up if you know what's best for yourself."

"And you'd better cease talking to me in that way or I may teach you
better manners."

Julian Lorimer flushed, and his eyes blazed with anger.

"Oho!" he said, "you don't seem to know who I am."

"I know that you are an impudent boy."

Julian nodded vigorously, and went at once to his father.

"Well, I told Benton to come, and he said he'd come as soon as he got
ready."

"Are you repeating what he said exactly?"

"Yes, that is, he said he'd come when he'd folded up some goods."

"That is a different matter."

"He called me an impudent boy and threatened to lick me."

Mr. Lorimer did not reply to this. He had a suspicion that Julian had
represented matters worse than they were.

Two minutes later Henry Benton presented himself at the office. He was
quiet and calm.

"I understand you wish to see me, Mr. Lorimer," he said.

"Yes. My son has complained of you."

"You will excuse my saying that I am not in his employ, but in yours. If
he were your partner he would have a right to speak to me about my work.
As it is he is only your son, and I don't concede his right."

"As my son he is entitled to your respect."

"He would have been treated with respect had he treated me
respectfully."

"Did you ever hear the like?" Julian burst in.

"Silence, Julian!" said his father. "In your circumstances, Mr. Benton,
I think you have acted very unwisely."

"How?" asked Benton, briefly.

"You depend upon the wages I pay you for your livelihood."

"Very well, sir."

"And you make an enemy in my family and endanger your remaining in my
service."

"I understood that you discharged me yesterday."

"Ahem! yes, but I don't want to be too hard upon you. You have a family,
have you not?"

"I have a wife and young son."

"If I should discharge you they would suffer."

"What does this mean?" thought Benton.

"Therefore I have decided to recall the discharge, on condition that you
will apologize to Julian for treating him with insolence."

"If I am to retain my position on that condition, Mr. Lorimer, I prefer
to leave the store."

"I am surprised at your folly!" said the merchant, sharply. "Here, I
give you a chance to retain your place and your ill-timed pride steps in
and interferes with your interest."

"May I ask what I am to apologize to your son for, Mr. Lorimer?"

"You did not treat him with the respect due to my son," answered Mr.
Lorimer, pompously.

"Do you sustain him in interfering with my work?" asked Benton, calmly.

"I see you are incorrigible," said Lorimer, angrily. "If your family
suffers in consequence of your obstinacy, don't blame me."

"I shall not have occasion to blame you or anyone else."

"What do you mean by that? I don't understand you."

"I mean only that though I shall leave your employment I have another
place waiting for me. I shall not be idle for a day."

"Is this true?" asked Lorimer, astonished.

"Yes, sir, quite true."

"For whom are you going to work?"

"You must excuse my keeping that a secret for the present."

"When did you make application for a place?"

"I made no application at all. It was offered to me."

"I shall not give you any recommendation."

"None will be necessary, sir. I have worked elsewhere, and my former
employer will recommend me."

"I don't believe he's got a place, pa," put in Julian. "I'll bet he's
bluffing."

Benton regarded Julian with contempt, but did not say a word.

"What pay are you to get?" asked Lorimer.

"More than twice what you are paying me, sir. You took advantage of my
poverty and my necessities to reduce me to five dollars a week, a lower
price, probably, than is paid by any dry-goods merchant in the city to
an experienced salesman."

"It seems to me you are getting very independent," said Lorimer,
annoyed.

"I feel more independent than I did yesterday. I have one favor to ask."

"I have already told you that I cannot give you a recommendation."

"I don't care for one. If you can conveniently spare me I should like to
retire from your service to-day."

"Let him go, pa."

But Mr. Lorimer did not agree with Julian.

"I prefer that you should remain here till your week expires. If there
is any failure to get the situation you expect, I will continue you in
my service at six dollars a week."

"Thank you, sir, but I don't think there is any doubt about my
situation. If you have nothing further to say to me I will return to my
work."

When Benton had retired Mr. Lorimer turned to Julian angrily.

"There," he said, "I have lost one of my best salesmen, whom I was
getting dirt cheap, on account of your misconduct."

Julian was rather taken aback at this reproach.

"You can get lots of men in his place, pa," he said.

"Not at the same wages. Now go away, I am busy."

"I wish I knew where he is going to work," thought Julian. "I might
write an anonymous letter to his employer. I hate him. He puts on too
many airs for a cheap clerk."

Julian's malicious plot had certainly failed signally. The next day
about one o'clock he was passing the Somerset Hotel, on lower Broadway,
just as Rupert was coming out on an errand.

Julian at once noticed the watch chain. As he had never known of
Rupert's owning a watch, his curiosity was excited.

"What time is it?" he asked, jeeringly.

Rupert took out his watch.

"Five minutes after one," he answered.

The watch was a handsome one, as Julian noticed.

"Is that your watch?" he asked, abruptly.

"Yes."

"Is it oroide?"

"No; it is gold. Do you wish to look at it?"

Julian's curiosity was such that he took it into his hand. He could see
at once that it was a genuine and probably expensive gold watch.

"You must be making high pay to afford a watch like this," he said, in a
tone of annoyance.

"It was a present."

"From whom?"

"A friend up town."

Julian dropped the watch and went on his way in an ill humor. He had a
watch himself, but it was of less than half the value of Rupert's. He
inwardly resolved to ask his father for a new one.



CHAPTER XVII.

MR. PACKARD OF COLORADO.


In a short time the Bentons were settled in a neat flat located near
Washington Square. They purchased additional furniture on the
installment plan, and were able to offer Rupert a home more desirable
than the room he had occupied. The new prosperity was reflected in the
faces of the now happy wife and mother.

"It is you who have brought this happy change in our circumstances,
Rupert," she said. "I tremble to think what would have been our
condition but for you."

"In return you give me a pleasant home," said Rupert.

At the hotel things went on pleasantly. Rupert's services were
appreciated, and this was pleasant, though his salary had not been
increased.

Clarence Clayton never entered the hotel now. Rupert wondered what had
become of him. But one Thursday afternoon--his afternoon off--he strayed
down to the Battery.

Seated on one of the benches, looking out towards Governor's Island,
Rupert's attention was drawn after a while to two men who occupied a
neighboring bench. One of those he recognized at once as Clayton. The
other he also recognized as a guest at the Somerset Hotel, a new
arrival. He was a man of middle age who had the appearance of a
Westerner. Rupert now remembered that he had entered himself on the
hotel register as from Colorado.

"I wonder what mischief Clayton is up to now?" Rupert asked himself.

The benches were so near that he was able to hear the conversation
between the two men. Clayton had a showy gold watch in his hand which he
was endeavoring to sell to his new acquaintance.

"The fact is, my friend," Rupert heard him say, "I am awfully hard up. I
need money badly, and that is why I offer you such a bargain. This watch
is nearly new and cost me one hundred and fifty dollars in cold cash. I
offer it to you for fifty."

"How did you get so hard up?" asked the stranger.

"I took a flyer in Wall Street. I have a friend who is a broker, and he
gave me a pointer. I don't blame him, for he believed it, and invested
himself. However, things didn't turn out as we expected, and I was
cleaned out."

"How about him?"

"He lost a good deal more than I did, but he could stand it and I
couldn't."

The Western man took the watch in his hand.

"It seems a good watch," he said. "I suppose it is solid gold?"

"Undoubtedly."

"I don't know much about watches myself, though I come from a mineral
producing State. We have plenty of miners there, but I am a cattleman."

"Indeed! Is that a paying business?"

"Well, I've made a little money at it," said the other in a complacent
tone.

"I am looking for a paying business myself."

The stranger laughed.

"You are a city man," he said. "You wouldn't do for the West. You
wouldn't make much of a cowboy."

"I don't suppose I should."

"You couldn't wear patent-leather shoes in Colorado."

"Then I'll give it up if you say so. To tell the truth, I am better
fixed than you would suppose. I have an income of a thousand dollars a
year, paid me quarterly by the trustees of my late uncle's estate, but
the next payment won't come due for a month. I must tide over till then.
That is why I offer you this watch for fifty dollars."

"I shouldn't think you would like to make such a sacrifice."

"Oh, well, I need the money. Besides, what is my loss is your gain."

"You seem to take matters philosophically."

"That's my way. Seriously, though, it will be a great favor to me if you
take the watch. Fifty dollars isn't much, but with economy it will
carry me through till my next payment."

"Well, if you put it on that ground, I don't know but I will oblige
you."

The Colorado man took from his pocket a large wallet, evidently stuffed
with bills, and was about to consummate the bargain when Rupert rose
from his seat hastily. He felt that it was about time for him to take a
hand in the transaction.

"Mr. Packard," he said, "you'll excuse my interfering, but I advise you
not to buy that watch."

Clarence Clayton looked up quickly. He recognized Rupert only too well,
and would liked to have pitched him into the bay. What was to be done?
He determined to brazen it out.

"Young man," he said sharply, "you'd better mind your own business."

"How do you know my name?" asked the man from Colorado, not recognizing
Rupert.

"I am one of the bell-boys at the Somerset Hotel, where you are
boarding."

"Why do you give this warning? Can you judge of the value of the
watch?"

"No, sir; but I know this man."

"That is false," asserted Clayton; "I never saw you before to my
knowledge."

"I don't know what to think," said the cattleman, looking puzzled. "You
say you know this man?"

"Yes. He came near cheating one of our guests not long since by offering
to give his son a place in an office in Wall Street for a hundred and
fifty dollars."

"The boy lies," exclaimed Clayton. "I have a good mind to give you in
charge, you young rascal."

"You are quite welcome to do it," said Rupert, coolly.

"I hope my word is as good as this boy's," continued Clayton.

"Don't take either, Mr. Packard. I am no judge of watches. Suppose you
go to a jeweler's and ask him the value of it. If it is worth even a
hundred dollars, you can venture to give this man what he asks, that is,
supposing he has come by it honestly."

"That is a sensible proposal. I accept it."

"But I don't!" said Clayton. "I feel that I have been insulted, and I
decline to sell the watch. As for you, you young rascal, I shall
remember your interference with me in my business."

He rose and went off with his head very high in the air.

"Sit down and tell me all about this fellow," said the cattleman. "I
suspect you have saved me from being imposed upon."

Rupert told the story, and the stranger thanked him heartily.

"I have always been told that I must look out for myself in New York,
and I begin to realize it. How does it happen you are so far away from
the hotel?"

"It is my afternoon off."

They sat and chatted of Colorado, about which Rupert felt considerable
curiosity. At the end of fifteen minutes their attention was drawn to a
man of prosperous appearance who seemed in trouble. He paused as he
reached their bench, and asked anxiously, "Has either of you seen a
young man, nicely dressed and carrying a cane?" and he went on to
describe Clarence Clayton.

"Yes," answered Packard and Rupert, simultaneously, "the fellow was
sitting here less than half an hour since."

"He has stolen my gold watch," said the new acquaintance.

"He tried to sell it to me. He said it cost a hundred and fifty
dollars."

"So it did, and more, too."

"He offered it for fifty dollars."

"How did it happen that you did not buy it?"

"I was about to do so, but this boy told me he was a confidence man."

"Then you knew him?" asked the stranger.

"Yes," answered Rupert.

"Can you suggest any way in which I can recover my property?"

"Yes, sir. Report the matter to the police, and ask to have Richard
Darke, a well-known detective, put on the case. I will give you a line
to him. He will know at once who it is."

"I will do so. Where can I find you again?"

"At the Somerset Hotel, on Broadway."

"Thank you. If I receive it I will gladly compensate you for your
suggestion."

"I thank you, but do not wish any compensation. If I can defeat this
man's dishonest scheme I shall feel well repaid."

"Our cunning friend will soon be overhauled, I suspect," said the
cattleman. "Did you say you were off this afternoon?"

"Yes, sir."

"I am new to the city and want a guide. Are you open to an engagement?"

"Yes, sir," answered Rupert, with a smile. "But I don't care for pay."

"Then we don't go. Business is business, and there is no reason why I
should take up your time without paying you a fair sum."

"Just as you like, sir."

The two spent the next three or four hours in visiting different objects
of interest in New York. The Colorado man seemed much pleased with his
young companion.

"You must come out to Colorado some time, Rupert," he said. "You are a
boy who would succeed there, or indeed anywhere. We have some men come
out there who are failures at the East, and they are surprised that they
don't succeed in the West. But I tell you that it takes as much brains
to win success in Colorado as in New York."

"Is that always the case? I have heard of men getting rich in the West
who were poor at home."

"That is true. Perhaps they were in the wrong business. I don't mind
saying that was the case with me. I was in the insurance business in
Hartford, but I wasn't particularly well adapted for it. I couldn't
talk. Out in Colorado I have learned to understand cattle, and they have
made me rich."

"Mr. Clayton can talk."

"Yes, a little too well. Unfortunately he is not honest, and a dishonest
man ought not to thrive anywhere. In Colorado he wouldn't live wrong.
Thieves are summarily dealt with."

About seven o'clock Mr. Packard invited Rupert to dine with him at
Delmonico's.

Rupert had heard a great deal about this celebrated restaurant, and was
glad to accept the invitation.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A SCENE AT DELMONICO'S.


The two friends entered Delmonico's on the Broadway side, and took seats
at one of the windows. Rupert, after giving the order, looked about him.
He was curious to see that famous restaurant. He was destined to a
surprise. At the second table, sitting with his back to Mr. Packard and
himself, was a person whom he had the best reason to remember.

It was Clarence Clayton.

He touched Mr. Packard's arm, and silently pointed to Clayton.

"Well, I'll be jiggered!" exclaimed the cattleman, in surprise. "That
fellow has got nerve."

Mr. Clayton was evidently enjoying himself. Beside his plate stood a
pint bottle of champagne of Delmonico's special brand. His dinner would
probably involve an expense of five dollars.

"He must have sold or pawned the watch," suggested Rupert in a low
voice.

At this moment Clayton looked around. He at once recognized the two whom
he had last seen at the Battery.

"So we meet again?" he said, coolly.

"Yes," answered the cattleman. "You appear to be having a pleasant
time."

"I generally do," returned Clayton.

"You seem to have negotiated a loan."

"I met a party who seemed to know more about gold watches than you do."

"I congratulate you," said Packard, dryly.

Clayton returned to the discussion of his dinner, and soon the two
friends were served.

"Shall I order some champagne, Rupert?" asked the man from Colorado.

"Not for me. I have promised my mother to avoid drink."

"You are wise. Far be it from me to tempt you. I have seen too much of
the evil done by intemperance."

Clarence Clayton evidently had no such objection to drink. He drained
the bottle, and calling for a cigar, leaned back in his chair, with a
self-satisfied smile.

"That fellow is a curiosity," Packard said. "He probably has good
abilities, and would meet with success in an honest career. He has made
poor use of his talents. I wonder if he ever reflects upon the
inevitable end of his dishonesty?"

"It doesn't seem to trouble him much," returned Rupert.

Neither he nor Clayton observed the quiet entrance of a small,
unobtrusive man, with sharp eyes, who, taking rapid glances at the
guests, moved towards the table occupied by the adventurer.

Sitting in pleasant enjoyment of his cigar, Clayton's attention was
drawn by a slight tap on his shoulder. Looking up in momentary
impatience he saw the newcomer at his side.

Stifling an ejaculation he stared at him in dismay.

"Mr. Clayton," said Detective Darke, in a low voice, "I see you know
me."

"No, I can't say I have the pleasure," stammered Clayton.

"You are polite to call it a pleasure. I am Richard Darke."

"Can I offer you a glass of champagne, Mr. Darke?"

"There doesn't seem to be any left in the bottle."

"I will order another."

"I won't put you to that trouble. I have business with you, and must
request you to go with me."

"But----"

"I can take no denial," said the detective, sharply. "Go up to the desk,
settle your bill, and then we will go out together. There will be no
scene, and no one will know my errand, if you obey my directions."

Clayton went up to the desk, paid his check, and then, turning to the
detective, said,

"I am at your service."

By this time Rupert noticed what was going on, and silently called the
attention of Mr. Packard to it.

"Poor chap!" said the cattleman, as Clayton and his unwelcome companion
left the restaurant, "his punishment has come sooner than I anticipated.
He will be punished, but I am afraid the owner of the watch stands a
poor chance of recovering his property."

"Probably he will get possession of the pawn ticket and so secure the
watch, though it may cost him twenty-five dollars."

"It will be some time before the thief gets another such dinner as he
has eaten to-night."

After supper Packard said,

"Are you feeling tired, Rupert?"

"Oh, no, sir."

"Then suppose we go to some theatre."

"All right, sir. What theatre do you prefer?"

"I leave the choice to you."

"Palmer's Theatre is very near."

"Then let us go there."

They reached the theatre just as the curtain was rising. Mr. Packard
bought two choice seats, and they were soon seated in the orchestra. As
soon as he had a chance to look about him, Rupert discovered to his
surprise that Mr. Lorimer and Julian were sitting directly in front of
him. At the sound of his voice Julian turned, and was greatly surprised
to see the bell-boy occupying as high-priced a seat as himself. When the
first act was ended, he took measures to gratify his curiosity.

"I am surprised to see you here," he said.

"It is a mutual surprise," responded Rupert.

"You know what I mean. It is not usual to meet bell-boys in orchestra
seats."

"I was not asked at the ticket office what was my employment."

"Are you here alone?"

"No; let me introduce my friend, Mr. Packard, of Colorado."

Julian glanced at the cattleman, and was not impressed. Mr. Packard's
clothing was by no means stylish. Julian naturally supposed him to be a
person of small means and no particular consequence. He gave him a
slight nod, and turned his face towards the stage.

"What is the name of that boy?" asked the cattleman.

"Julian Lorimer."

"Is he related to Stephen Lorimer?"

"Stephen Lorimer is his father. Do you know him?" asked Rupert, in
surprise.

"Stephen Lorimer is a cousin of mine."

"There he is, next to Julian."

Mr. Lorimer's ears caught the sound of his own name, and, turning, he
recognized Rupert, but not his cousin.

"You here, Rupert Rollins?" he said, in surprise.

"Yes, sir. Do you know this gentleman with me?"

Stephen Lorimer regarded the cattleman blankly.

"No," he answered slowly. "I don't know him."

"Perhaps you will remember the name of Giles Packard," said the
cattleman, but his tone was cold and not cordial.

"Are you Giles Packard?"

"Yes."

Stephen Lorimer looked embarrassed.

"I hope you are prosperous," he said.

"Thank you--I am doing well now."

"Where do you live?"

"In Colorado."

"Ah! Mines?"

"No, cattle."

"Call and see me. Rupert will tell you where I may be found."

"I may do so."

"Is he a cowboy?" asked Julian, in an audible whisper.

Giles Packard heard the words and he looked at Rupert with a smile.

"He is like his father," he said.

They did not again speak. After the play Stephen Lorimer went out of the
theatre without even a look at his new-found relative. Rupert and the
man from Colorado, following slowly, made the best of their way down
Broadway to the Somerset House.

"How came you to know Stephen Lorimer?" asked Packard.

"He and my father were in business together in Buffalo some years since.
They failed, and I have always believed that my father was defrauded.
At any rate he lost everything, while his old partner had money enough
to start in the dry-goods business in New York."

"History repeats itself," said Packard. "Many years ago, when I was
twenty-two, I was the partner of Stephen Lorimer."

"You!"

"Yes. In fact I furnished three-fourths of the capital. At the end of
eighteen months we failed. I never could understand why, for our
business had been good. Stephen kept the books, and I examined without
being able to understand them. The upshot of it was that I was thrown
upon the world penniless, while he soon went into business for himself
in another place. I have not seen Lorimer for twenty years, till
accident brought us together to-night."

"I am glad you are prosperous again."

"Yes. I have far more money than when I belonged to the firm of Lorimer
& Packard."

"Perhaps Mr. Lorimer would take you in as partner again."

"I have no desire to be associated with him in any way. I believe him
to be a thoroughly dishonest man. I am sorry that your father has
suffered also at his hands."

Rupert accompanied Mr. Packard to the hotel, having agreed to relieve
another bell-boy from midnight till six o'clock the next morning.

When he reached the hotel he found it a scene of excitement. The bell of
No. 61 had been ringing violently for some time.

The other bell-boy had come downstairs in a panic.

"I can't get into No. 61," he reported. "There is somebody dead or
murdered there."



CHAPTER XIX.

WHAT HAPPENED IN NO. 61.


"Come upstairs with me, Rupert," said Mr. Malcolm, the clerk. "You've
got a head on your shoulders. We'll soon find out what's the matter."

They ascended in the elevator to the third floor, and made their way
hurriedly to No. 61.

There was a sound of a child crying inside. Mr. Malcolm tried the door
but it was locked.

"Open the door!" he called out.

"I can't," was the answer, in a young child's voice. "It's locked."

"Can't you turn the key?"

"No; I don't know how."

"You will have to get through the transom," said the clerk. "If we only
had a step-ladder."

"Lift me up and I'll get through," said Rupert. "I have practiced in a
gymnasium."

"Very well, if you think you can."

The clerk bent over, and Rupert, standing on his shoulders, was lifted
so that he could reach the transom.

Then, by a skillful movement, he raised himself still farther till he
could look inside.

"What do you see?" asked Malcolm.

"There is a man lying on his face on the floor. He must have had a fit
or something."

"Can you get through and lower yourself to the floor?"

"I think so. I will try."

"It is the only way to get into the room."

In very quick time Rupert accomplished his object. He turned the key and
opened the door.

It was as he had said. A man lay prone upon the floor, and beside him,
crying bitterly, was a pretty little boy of five, who was evidently very
much frightened.

"Papa sick," he said.

Malcolm bent over the prostrate man, and tearing open his vest placed
his hand on his heart.

"The man is dead!" he said, gravely, turning to Rupert.

The child was undressed, and the appearance of the bed showed that he at
least had occupied it.

"How long has your papa been lying here?" asked Malcolm.

"I don't know. I woke up a little while ago, and I saw him on the
floor."

"Is he cold?" asked Rupert.

"Yes; he must have been lying here for some time. Probably he was about
to undress, when he had an attack of some kind, and fell as we see him.
Call Dr. Bancroft."

A physician from Massachusetts was one of the guests of the hotel, and
occupied Room 57.

Summoned by Rupert, he entered the room, and immediately made an
examination of the body.

"Died of heart disease!" he said, briefly.

"Will papa soon be well?" asked the little boy, anxiously.

"We can tell better to-morrow," said the physician, pityingly. "You had
better go with this gentleman, so as not to disturb your father, and we
will do what we can for him."

Soothed by this assurance, for the little fellow did not understand that
his father was beyond earthly help, the boy was led away and put in
charge of a sympathetic lady guest for the night.

"Has he been dead long, doctor?" asked Malcolm.

"Probably for over an hour. What is his name?"

"I have forgotten. It is on the register."

"Perhaps we may find a letter in his pocket that will throw light on the
matter."

Malcolm put his hand in the inside coat pocket and drew out, first, a
letter addressed to

     PAUL HARVEY,
     Albany,
     New York.

The other had no envelope and seemed to be an open letter. It ran thus:


     To whom it may concern--

     "My doctor tells me that I am liable at any moment to drop dead
     from heart disease. I do not dread death for myself, but when I
     think of my little Fred, soon to be left fatherless, as he is
     already motherless, I am filled with anxiety. I am practically
     alone in the world, and there is no one to whom I can confide.
     Should death come to me suddenly, I trust some kind-hearted person
     will adopt Freddie, and supply a father's place to him. In my
     inside vest pocket will be found securities amounting to eleven
     hundred dollars. After defraying my funeral expenses there will
     probably be a thousand dollars left. I leave it to any one who will
     undertake the care and maintenance of my dear little boy.

     PAUL HARVEY."


The three looked at one another after the clerk had read the letter.

"Here is a responsibility for some one," said Dr. Bancroft. "I wish it
were in my power to take the little boy, but I am only here as a guest,
and circumstances will not permit."

"I am a bachelor, and should find it impossible to assume such a
charge," said the clerk, "though I feel for the little fellow."

An inspiration had come to Rupert. His heart had gone out to the little
boy so tragically deprived of his natural protector.

"I will take the little boy if you are willing," he said.

"You! A boy! What can you do with him?" asked Malcolm.

"I am boarding in a nice family," he said. "I will put him under the
care of Mrs. Benton, who has a young son of her own."

"But do you realize what a responsibility you are assuming?"

"I do, and I am not afraid. I never had a little fellow, and I shall be
very fond of Fred."

"What do you think, doctor?" asked the clerk.

"I think from the little I know of this boy, that, though a young
guardian, he will be a reliable one. I recommend that Fred, if that's
his name, be put under his charge."

"In that case, according to the father's direction, the money will go to
Rupert."

"Please take charge of it, Mr. Malcolm, till the funeral is over. Then
we will place it in some bank."

"It will not go very far towards paying for the boy's board and
education. He can't be more than five or six."

"When it is gone I will support him."

No objection was made, and it was agreed that Rupert should have the
custody of the little orphan, not yet conscious of his loss.



CHAPTER XX.

MR. PACKARD'S GIFT.


It was not until the next day that Giles Packard knew of the tragedy in
No. 61. He had gone to bed at once on reaching the hotel, and had not
heard of Rupert's adopting a child.

"What is this I hear, Rupert?" he asked, on meeting the bell-boy. "I
hear you have an adopted son."

"Yes," answered Rupert, with a smile.

"Won't you get tired of the care and responsibility?"

"I think not."

"Besides, there will be considerable expense."

"The money left by his father will pay that till I am older and am
earning more."

"Not many boys of your age would dare to assume such a charge."

"Perhaps not, but Fred is such a sweet boy I cannot help loving him."

"Look here, Rupert, won't you let me share the expense? I am rich and
have no family ties?"

"Thank you, Mr. Packard. I am very much obliged to you, but I should
like to feel that I am Fred's sole guardian. I want him to learn to love
me."

"I don't know but you are right. I won't interfere if you don't wish me
to."

That evening Rupert took Fred to Mr. Benton's.

"I have brought you another boarder," he said.

Mrs. Benton looked surprised.

"Is it a relation of yours?" she asked.

"He is my son."

The good lady looked amazed.

"My adopted son," amended Rupert, with a smile; and then he told her of
the sudden death at the hotel, and little Fred's bereavement. Mrs.
Benton's heart went out to the little orphan, and she stooped and kissed
him.

"Will you live with me?" she asked.

"I am going to live with him," said little Fred, taking Rupert's hand.

"He will live here, too."

"Then I will stay," answered the child, gravely. "I am to stay with him
till papa comes back."

They had told the little boy that his father had gone on a long journey,
and wished him to stay with Rupert during his absence. He had acquiesced
quietly, for he was a docile child, and transferred his affection to
Rupert, of whose love he felt assured.

"Now, Mrs. Benton, I must make a bargain with you for Fred's board."

Mrs. Benton at first refused to accept anything, protesting that a child
would be little expense, but Rupert told her that the father had left
money, and finally induced her to accept three dollars a week.

"I am afraid that is too little," said the bell-boy.

"No; it will help pay the rent, and I shall like to have Freddie here as
a companion for Harry."

So it was arranged, and the little boy was provided with a happy and
comfortable home at small expense.

Two days later Giles Packard sought out Rupert during an interval of the
bell-boy's labors.

"How is the little boy?" asked the cattleman.

"He is well, and he seems to be happy. He thinks his father is away on a
journey."

"The journey we must all take some time," said Packard, gravely. "Then
you won't accept my help towards paying for the child's maintenance?"

"It won't be necessary, Mr. Packard. I am to pay only three dollars a
week for his board."

"His clothing will cost something."

"Mrs. Benton will manage that. She says it won't cost over fifty dollars
a year."

"I foresaw that you wouldn't let me help support the boy, so I have got
even with you in another way."

"How is that?" asked Rupert, puzzled.

Mr. Packard, smiled.

"I decided to make you a present," he said. "You won't refuse that?"

"No; I am sure you are a good friend, and I won't reject your kindness."

Rupert fancied Mr. Packard might be intending to give him fifty dollars,
or something like that, and he felt that it would be ungracious to
refuse.

The man from Colorado drew from his pocket a large-sized envelope, and
from it took a legal document.

"This," he said, "is a deed of two lots in Harlem, not far from
One-hundred-and-twenty-fifth Street. The deed is made out to you, and
establishes your ownership."

"I didn't know you had any lots in Harlem," said Rupert, in surprise.

"Neither had I till yesterday. I bought them through a real estate agent
on Third Avenue, after carefully considering several others."

"But, Mr. Packard, they must have cost you a good deal of money."

"Two thousand dollars."

"And you give me such a valuable present?"

"Yes, Rupert, and I am glad to do so. Don't think I have pinched myself
to do it. I am a rich man, and I haven't a chick or child, except--well,
except you," he continued, with a smile.

"I don't know that I ought to accept such a handsome present, though I
fully appreciate your great kindness."

"I don't quite see that you have any choice. The deed is made out in
your name, and in due time you will find that you will have to pay taxes
on them."

"Then I suppose I must submit. I don't know how to thank you."

"Then don't do it. It would make me feel awkward. I will give you some
good advice before I leave you. Those lots I believe will advance in
price very rapidly. Building is going on very near them, and they are in
the path of improvement. My advice is that you hold on to them at least
five years. They may realize you a small fortune."

"I will certainly be guided by your advice. Do you know, Mr. Packard, I
imagine there are very few bell-boys in New York who are as rich as I
am?"

"I don't think I have ever heard of a bell-boy millionaire," said the
cattleman, smiling, "though I hope the one before me may make the first
exception to a general rule. Did I tell you that I expect to start on my
return to Colorado to-morrow?"

"So soon as that?"

"Yes; I have received news from my agent there--good news, mind--that
makes it advisable for me to abridge my visit. May I hope that you will
write me sometimes?"

"I shall be glad to do so, Mr. Packard."

"Mind, it is a compact. Some time I expect you to visit me out there."

"When my child gets a little older," said Rupert, with a smile.

"And if at any time you find the expense too great for your means, let
me help you."

"I will."

So the two friends parted, and Rupert resumed his regular routine as a
bell-boy.



CHAPTER XXI.

RUPERT BECOMES A CONFIDANT.


Some three months later Rupert's attention was called to a boy of
seventeen or thereabouts, with long black hair and a high forehead, who
registered as a guest, and took one of the cheapest rooms in the hotel.
The boy seemed to have no companion, and to know very little about the
city.

"Can you direct me to Palmer's Theatre?" he asked, rather diffidently.

"It is on Broadway, corner of Thirtieth Street," answered Rupert.

"And Daly's?"

"That is nearly opposite, on the other side of Broadway."

The boy took out a memorandum-book and noted down these addresses.

"What can he want at those theatres?" thought Rupert.

Of course he might want to buy a reserved seat in advance, but Rupert
did not think it likely.

After getting his information the boy went out (it was about ten
o'clock), and did not reappear till four o'clock in the afternoon.
Rupert noticed him as he entered the hotel, and observed that he looked
anxious and despondent. He did not go upstairs at once, but sank into a
chair near Rupert, and apparently gave way to sorrowful reflections.

"He has some secret trouble," thought the bell-boy. "If he would speak
to me I might be able to comfort him."

On the impulse of the moment he went up to the young guest, and asked,
in a low tone of sympathy,

"Are you in any trouble?"

The boy started, flushed, and looked at Rupert half suspiciously. But
there was something so friendly and sympathetic in Rupert's face that he
was assured of his being a safe confidant.

"Yes," he said, "I am in trouble."

"If you will tell me, perhaps I can help you."

The boy looked about him hesitatingly.

"I shouldn't like to tell you here," he answered. "There are too many
people round."

"I shall be at leisure after six o'clock. Will that do?"

"Yes. Could you come up to my room?"

"I will come with pleasure."

"I want a confidant. I want advice. You are younger than I am--at least
you look so--but you have lived in the city while I am from the
country."

"At any rate I will give you the best advice I can."

"Thank you. I feel better for having found a friend. I will go and take
a walk, and you will find me here at six o'clock."

When Rupert got through work he found the boy waiting for him in the
same place.

"I can go upstairs with you now."

"All right!" said the young guest, rising from his seat quickly. "We
will take the elevator, for my room is on the top floor."

"In business hours," said Rupert, "I am not allowed to use the elevator.
Now I am no longer a bell-boy, but your visitor."

The room was a small hall bedroom. It was one that was let for
seventy-five cents a day, while the better and larger rooms ranged
upwards to a dollar and a half. The room contained one chair only.

"Please take a seat," said the young host.

"But where will you sit?"

"I will sit on the bed. I don't know but you will laugh at me," he went
on, "when I tell you what brought me to New York."

"Oh, no. I shall not laugh at you. But first, as we are to be friends,
let me tell you my name and ask yours. I am Rupert Rollins."

"That is a nice name. It sounds like a story name. Mine is Leslie
Waters."

"Where do you live?"'

"I was born and brought up in Rahway. That is in New Jersey, about
twenty miles from New York. My father lives about a mile from the
village. He has a small farm."

"And you were brought up to work on the farm?"

"Well, it isn't exactly a farm, but we raise vegetables and fruits for
the New York market. I went to school till a year ago. Then I
graduated, and since then I have worked for my father."

"Did you like it?"

"No, I don't like working on land. I feel," continued Leslie, flushing,
"that I was born for something better and nobler. Besides, I don't want
to live in the country. I prefer the city. There's something going on
here."

"Yes, that is true."

"And I wanted to be in the excitement. I'd rather live half as long in
the city. You can live more here in a year than in the country in two
years."

"Was there any particular thing that you wished to do?"

"Yes, I am coming to that. When I attended school there was one exercise
that many of the boys did not like, but I did. I liked to declaim. I
began with such pieces as 'Casabianca'--you know that, don't you?"

"Oh, yes," said Rupert, smiling. "I have spoken it more than once
myself."

"But of course I got beyond that after a while. I used to speak pieces
from Shakespeare and other dramatic authors. There was one I liked to
speak in particular. It begins:


     "The warrior bowed his crested head and tamed his heart of fire,
     And sued the haughty king to free his long-imprisoned sire."


"Yes, I know the poem."

"I got a prize for speaking it at one of our closing examinations," said
Leslie, proudly. "Would you like to have me speak it for you now?"

"I afraid it would attract attention in some of the neighboring rooms,
as it is a spirited piece."

Leslie looked disappointed but continued. "Then I have spoken 'Young
Lochinvar' also--I liked that."

"Did you never speak any prose pieces?"

"No, I didn't care for prose. I like poetry best. I wish we were alone,
so I could speak something for you."

"We will go on an excursion some Sunday--say to Weehawken--and then I
shall have a chance to hear you."

"I am afraid I shall not be able to stay in the city," said Leslie,
gloomily. "I have met nothing but disappointment since I came here."



CHAPTER XXII.

TRYING TO BE AN ACTOR.


"Have you inquired for work?" asked Rupert.

"Yes."

"What kind of work?"

"I wanted to be an actor. So I applied at Palmer's Theatre and Daly's
this forenoon, and this afternoon I went to others."

"How were you received?" asked Rupert, in considerable curiosity.

"They wouldn't talk with me," answered Leslie, indignantly. "One of the
managers laughed at me when I asked if he would let me speak a piece, so
that he might judge of my ability."

"Perhaps they had no vacancy," suggested Rupert, trying to keep his
countenance.

"They asked me if I had ever acted. Of course I can't till I get the
chance. I told him I would be willing to work for five dollars a week
till I got some experience. I told them they might try me in small
parts. One of them asked me if I had ever played Hamlet. He must have
been in fun."

"I should think so."

"Of course great actors like Booth must have served an apprenticeship. I
was reading an account of Booth's early life lately, and he began just
as I want to begin."

"I expect the profession must be crowded. There was an actor staying at
the hotel last week. He is out of employment, and I think he must be out
of funds, for he got me to go out and pawn an overcoat for him."

"I am sure I could succeed if I only had a show," continued Leslie. "You
don't happen to know any manager, do you?"

"No. Perhaps you would stand a better chance of getting into a variety
theatre. Can you sing or dance?"

"No; I should not be willing to. I don't think Booth ever did, or
Irving, or Forrest."

"No. I don't think they did."

"And I'll get some time to be a famous actor, so I wouldn't like to
have it mentioned in my biographies that I ever played in a variety
theatre."

"Are you going to make any more applications, Leslie?"

"I shall apply to every manager in the city," answered Leslie,
energetically.

"I like your pluck. You deserve to succeed."

"Didn't you ever think of being an actor?"

"No; I don't think I have any talent for it."

"Don't you like to speak pieces?"

"Pretty well, but I like to write compositions better. How long do you
expect to stay in the city?"

"Well, I'll tell you how I am situated. I had twelve dollars in a
savings bank in Newark, and I took it out without letting my father
know. I was sure he wouldn't approve it, especially if he thought I was
trying to go on the stage. You see he doesn't approve of theatres. It is
very strange, considering that the greatest man that ever lived was an
actor and dramatic author."

"You mean Shakespeare?"

"Yes. However, father is old-fashioned in his ideas. I should like to
become a great actor, and make piles of money. Then he might be proud of
me."

Leslie's face flushed and his voice trembled, he was so carried away by
the thought of becoming a dramatic star.

"You said you had twelve dollars?" remarked Rupert, by way of bringing
him back to solid ground.

"Yes; but I have spent four dollars, though I have tried to be
economical. I pay seventy-five cents a day for my room, and that counts
up."

"Yes, so it does. If you were going to stop long in the city I think I
could get a room for you at two dollars a week."

"I should like that, but I can't pay even that if I don't get something
to do."

"In that case I suppose you would go home."

"I should have to. I suppose my father is very angry at me."

"Did you leave home without letting him know?"

"Yes; I knew he wouldn't let me come if he knew my plans."

"Didn't you leave a note for him?"

"Yes. I'll tell you what I wrote. I have a copy of it here."

Leslie drew from his pocket a half sheet of note paper, and read aloud
the following words:


     "DEAR FATHER--

     "When you read these words I shall be far from home. I suppose I
     ought not to go, but I am tired of the country, and I want to win
     fame and fortune. I have a plan in view which I have considered for
     years. I won't tell you what it is now, for though strictly
     honorable, you might not approve it. I think I understand myself
     better than you do, though you are my father. I will let you hear
     from me soon. Your son,

     LESLIE WATERS."


"Of course you don't know how this was received by your father?"

"I met a boy from Rahway this morning. He told me that father was mad,
and said he washed his hands of me, that I was a fool, and would very
soon find it out."

"Then you don't think he will pursue you?"

"No, he isn't that kind of a man."

"It will be rather awkward for you to go home."

"Yes. I wouldn't like to do that."

"Suppose you don't get a chance to go on the stage, would you be willing
to take a business place?"

"Yes, I would rather do that than go home. Here I should be in the midst
of life, and if I bided my time I might get a chance to go on the stage
after all."

"That is true. Now I will tell you why I asked. One of the bell-boys
here is going to leave. I might get the position for you."

"You are a bell-boy, are you not?"

"Yes."

"How much do you get?"

"Five dollars a week and my meals. I have to hire a room outside."

"And you say I can get a room for two dollars a week?"

"Yes. Perhaps for a dollar and a half."

"Then I could get along."

"You might not like the duties of a bell-boy."

"What are they?"

Rupert explained.

"How early should I get off at night?"

"At six o'clock. The bell-boy who is about to leave is on through the
day like myself."

"That would suit me. I could go to the theatre in the evening."

"True."

"If I don't get a chance to act to-day I will take the place if you can
get it for me. It will be much better than going back to Rahway.
Besides, my father will think better of me if he hears that I have found
a place where I can make my expenses."

"Does he know that you have had thoughts of becoming an actor?"

"No; I never told him, but my mother knows it."

"What does she say to it?"

"She thinks I am smart enough to succeed, but fears I might get into bad
company."

"There is danger of that."

"Not for me. I don't care for drinking, and I belong to the temperance
society."

"So do I."

"When a boy is ambitious to be great I don't think he is likely to get
dissipated."

"Perhaps you are right. One thing I must say to you, Leslie. If you take
the place of bell-boy you must try to give satisfaction."

"I will, for it will keep me in the city. In Rahway there is no chance
of my rising in life."

Rupert foresaw that there was very little chance of his new friend
getting a position in any theatre, and he spoke at once to the manager
of the hotel about giving a place as bell-boy to Leslie.

"Is he a friend of yours, Rupert?" asked the manager.

"Yes, sir."

"Have you known him long?"

"Not long enough to be sure that he will be satisfactory. Still you
might be willing to take him on trial."

"I will try him for a week. If at the end of that time he suits me
moderately well I will retain him."

"I will coach him a little and instruct him in his duties."

"That will help."

In the evening Leslie came home just before Rupert got through his day's
work. He did not look as if he had succeeded. Still he was not as sober
as the day before.

"Well?" said Rupert. "What luck?"

"I don't get a place. In some of the theatres they did not treat me
respectfully, though one manager admitted that he went on the stage
earlier than I did."

"Where was that?"

"In Brooklyn."

"Then I suppose you will be ready to accept the place of bell-boy?"

"Yes; but if a chance should come of my going on the stage I should want
to resign it."

"You had better not say anything about that. Wait till the chance
comes."

"I have one piece of good news," said Leslie, more cheerfully. "In two
weeks a spectacular piece will be put on the stage at Niblo's, and they
have promised me a place as supe."

"How much will you be paid?"

"Only twenty-five cents a night, but it will be a beginning. I shall
have a place behind the footlights. More than one actor has made his
start in that way."

"I am glad for you. I will go and see you when you make your first
appearance."



CHAPTER XXIII.

A BAFFLED SCHEME.


Both Julian Lorimer and his father felt mortified at the failure of
their attempt to humiliate Mr. Benton. They had supposed he had neither
friends nor influence and were very much surprised at his securing
another position elsewhere at an advanced salary. They tried to find out
where he was now employed, but without success. Julian inquired of
Rupert one day when he met him, but the bell-boy refused to tell.

"Oh, it's a secret, is it?" sneered Julian.

"Yes, to you," answered Rupert. "Why did you wish to know?"

Rupert was confident that Julian meant mischief, and in the interest of
Mr. Benton he declined to give him any information.

Of course this made Julian all the more anxious to gain his point. He
got in the way of visiting every dry-goods store, and scanning the
clerks and salesmen. But there are a good many such stores in New York,
and it was some time before he made any discovery.

One day, however, he strayed into Grand Street, and entered a large
store in quest of some cheap neckties which he saw exposed outside.
Julian was rather a dude, and these ties had attracted his notice.

As he was passing through the store without any special thought of his
father's old clerk, he chanced to pass by the counter where dress goods
were sold. His face lighted up with malicious joy when he saw Benton
measuring off a dress pattern for a lady. He stopped until the salesman
was at leisure. Then, stepping up to the counter, he said, "Good
morning, Mr. Benton."

Benton certainly was not pleased to see his old persecutor. Perhaps his
countenance expressed his feelings as he answered, "Good morning,
Julian."

"So it is here you are employed?"

"Yes, as you see."

"Did you come here directly from pa's store?"

"Yes. How did you find out that I was here?"

"I didn't find out till just now."

"Can I do anything for you? Do you wish to buy anything in my line?"

"No. I came in for some neckties. Do you ever see anything of Rupert
Rollins?"

"Yes, he has a room at my house."

"Oho, I didn't know that. That accounts for his interest in you."

"I am glad he has an interest in me. He is a very good friend of mine."

"A poor boy like him isn't much of a friend. He can't do much for you."

"He got me this position."

"Did he?" said Julian, in some surprise.

"Yes."

Benton might have told Julian that Rupert owned two valuable lots in
Harlem, but he thought it more proper that Rupert himself should make it
known whenever he saw fit.

"Well, so long. I may see you again before long."

"I am not in the least desirous of it," thought Benton, but he answered
civilly.

"Well, pa," said Julian, at dinner, "I saw your old clerk, Benton,
to-day."

"Did you, indeed," said Mr. Lorimer, interested. "Is he out of work?"

"No; he's employed in a Grand Street store."

"Did you speak to him?"

"Yes."

"How did he appear?"

"He was better dressed than when he worked for you."

"I mean was he cordial?"

"Not very. I don't think he was very glad to see me. Good reason why."

"I wonder whether he is well paid?"

"I didn't ask him, for I knew he wouldn't tell me if I did. I have no
doubt he gets a good deal more than what you paid him."

"They must have taken him without a recommendation," mused Lorimer.

"You wouldn't give him a recommendation, would you?"

"No, I should have to say that he was insubordinate and gave me
trouble."

Julian Lorimer could be depended upon to act meanly and maliciously,
without any scruples of conscience. Two days later Mr. Benton was
summoned to the superintendent's room.

"You wished to see me, sir?" he said.

"Yes. I wish to show you a letter which the firm has received."

Henry Benton took the proffered letter, and read with what feelings can
be imagined the following communication:


     "GENTLEMEN--

     "In visiting your store yesterday I saw a Mr. Benton behind the
     dress goods counter who used to work in our, that is, my father's
     store. I was surprised that you should employ him. He brought no
     recommendation from us, or if he presented one it was forged. My
     father found him unsatisfactory, and was quite glad to get rid of
     him. He is a poor man, and I don't want to injure him, but I
     thought it only right that I should tell you what my father thinks
     of him. He would not tell us where he was going, and it was only by
     chance that I found out.

     Yours truly,
     "JULIAN LORIMER."


"Well, Mr. Wilson, I have read the letter," said Benton. "Is there
anything you would like to ask me in reference to it?"

"Is the writer correct in his statements?"

"So far from it that his father asked me to stay longer, and offered me
an additional dollar a week."

"Did you have any trouble when in Mr. Lorimer's store?"

"Yes; this boy Julian, who has nothing to do with the business,
interfered with my work and was very insolent. I rebuked him and he
succeeded in getting his father to discharge me. Afterward his father
revoked the dismissal and wished me to stay. But I had already a
situation offered me here, and I declined. I hope this letter will not
prejudice you against me."

"By no means. Even without your explanation I understood pretty well the
character of the writer of the note."

"Shall you answer it?"

"Yes; I have a curiosity to see the boy."

Julian Lorimer smiled with satisfaction when he received a letter
inviting him to call at the Grand Street store.

"Things are working as I desired," he said to himself. "I think, Mr.
Benton, your career will be brief, and you will soon be looking for
another position."

He entered the store about ten o'clock, and took good care to walk by
the counter behind which Mr. Benton was employed. The latter saw him,
but after his interview with the superintendent he did not feel anxious.

"I am Julian Lorimer," announced Julian, as he entered the presence of
the superintendent.

"You wrote us a letter, I believe?"

"Yes, sir."

"In relation to a clerk in our employ?"

"Yes. Mr. Benton."

"He used to work for your father?"

"Yes, sir. He was in father's employ rather more than a year."

"He stayed some time, then?"

"Yes; father didn't want to discharge him as he had a family."

"Very considerate on your father's part, certainly," said Mr. Wilson, in
a peculiar tone, in which Julian did not detect the sarcasm.

"On the whole, your father did not find him satisfactory? What was the
matter? Isn't he a good salesman?"

"Pretty fair," answered Julian. "Nothing alarming."

"Then what fault did he find with him? I suppose he was honest?"

"Yes, so far as we know."

"And still your father found him unsatisfactory. There must have been
some cause of complaint?"

"He was impudent," said Julian. "He felt too large for his position."

"Was he impudent to your father?"

"No."

"To whom, then?"

"To me."

"Oh, to you. Were you employed in the store?"

"No, sir."

"Then I don't see how you could have come in contact with him."

"I used to go into the store sometimes. That was very natural, as it was
my father's store."

"And on one of these occasions he was impudent to you?"

"Yes, sir."

"This is a serious charge. What would you advise me to do? Do you think
I ought to discharge him?"

"I will only say this, that my father would not have him in the store."

"You said in your letter that you did not wish to injure him. If he
should be discharged that would certainly be an injury."

"Yes, sir, I suppose so," answered Julian, with hesitation.

He was puzzled and could not understand what Mr. Wilson was driving at.

"I will send for Mr. Benton."

When Benton came into the presence of the superintendent, Mr. Wilson
said,

"Mr. Benton, this boy, Mr. Julian Lorimer, has been bringing charges
against you."

"I am not surprised to hear it, sir."

"He says you did not treat him respectfully when you were in his
father's store; that, in short, you were impudent to him."

"There is some truth in my not treating him respectfully. He came up to
my counter and interfered with my work."

"You were aware that he was Mr. Lorimer's son?"

"Oh, yes, sir."

"And yet you rebuked or snubbed him?"

"Yes, sir."

"He thinks that a serious matter. He thinks I ought to discharge you. My
own feeling is that you treated him just right."

Julian looked paralyzed.

"And to make up to you for his malicious attempt to injure you, I will
raise your salary two dollars a week."

"Thank you, sir."

"As for you, young man, I don't wish to see you in the store again.
James, you may show Mr. Lorimer out."

Julian lost no time in getting out of the place. He had never felt so
humiliated before. It would be hard to describe his blended rage and
mortification. It was certainly aggravating to reflect that he had only
succeeded in raising Mr. Benton's salary.



CHAPTER XXIV.

LESLIE'S PROGRESS.


Leslie Waters obtained the situation of bell-boy through Rupert's
recommendation, and entered upon his duties at once. He had failed in
his ambition to become an actor. With his elevated ideas of the position
of a member of the profession, he did not immediately become reconciled
to figuring as a bell-boy, but it enabled him to live in the great city,
which became daily more and more attractive to him.

Rupert engaged for him a small hall bedroom in the same house in which
he was himself living. The price agreed upon was only a dollar and a
half weekly, which, with his salary, he could pay without inconvenience.

Rupert was afraid that Leslie would prove too flighty and impracticable
for his humble duties, but was agreeably disappointed. Accustomed to
work on a farm in a quiet country town, Leslie found hotel life very
attractive, and labored zealously to give satisfaction. The day after he
went to work he wrote to his father in Rahway as follows:


     "DEAR FATHER--

     "I hope you are not angry at my leaving home so suddenly. I had got
     tired of country life, and felt that I was destined to a career in
     the city. I was not sure what employment awaited me, but hoped in
     some way to make a living. I have succeeded--I have secured a
     position in the Somerset Hotel, on Broadway. I take my meals at the
     hotel, and am paid a salary of five dollars per week besides. I
     have to pay a dollar and a half for a room, and the balance of my
     pay will defray the rest of my expenses.

     "I owe my success to a very friendly boy, not quite as old as I am,
     who is employed in the hotel. My hours are from six to six, so that
     I have my evenings to myself. I think you will agree that I am
     doing better and earning more than I ever did in Rahway. Of course
     I hope to be promoted, perhaps to go into some more congenial
     business when I get better acquainted in the city. If you should
     come to the city at any time I shall be glad to have you call at
     the hotel.

     "Your son,
     "LESLIE WATERS."


In reply, Leslie received the following letter, written in a cramped
hand, indicating that the writer was not accustomed to epistolary
composition:


     "SON LESLIE--

     "I have received your letter, and am glad to learn that you are not
     quite so foolish as I supposed. I was afraid you had the foolish
     notion of becoming a play actor. I never knew one in that
     profession who was a solid, sensible man. To my mind it is a very
     poor business. It is all very well for boys to speak pieces at
     school exhibitions, but when they start in to speak pieces for a
     livelihood it is very foolish. I surmised from some things I had
     observed in you that you had such a notion in your head, but I am
     glad I was mistaken.

     "The hotel business is a good business, I am told. You don't tell
     me what your duties are, but you seem to be earning pretty good
     pay. I hope you will give satisfaction. You never earned even three
     dollars a week at farming, so that perhaps it may be well for you
     to stay where you are really earning a good income. Some time you
     may be qualified to keep a hotel yourself. Your mother's cousin
     keeps a hotel somewhere in Kansas, and I hear that he is making
     money. You did wrong to leave home without permission, but I will
     not find fault with you under the circumstances. When I go to New
     York I will call in and see how you are getting along. Your mother
     will make up a bundle of clothing and send you by express.

     "Your father,
     "JETHRO WATERS."


Leslie showed this letter to Rupert.

"Your father doesn't suspect that you came to the city intending to go
on the stage?" he said.

"No, he thinks I have given up my ambition to become an actor. He has no
idea what a glorious profession it is. I don't suppose he ever went to
the theatre in his life. I wish he could see Edwin Booth, or Irving, or
Joseph Jefferson. Yet I suppose he would rather have me keep a hotel
than become as great as either of these."

"It takes a smart man to keep a hotel, Leslie. Very likely Booth or
Irving wouldn't succeed in that line."

"I hope some time I may get a chance on the stage. Will you go with me
to-night to see Mansfield in 'Jekyll and Hyde'?"

"Yes; I have no other engagement."

That evening the two bell-boys had front seats in the gallery of a
Broadway theatre, and saw Mr. Mansfield in his remarkable impersonation
of the two contrasted characters. Leslie was filled with admiration.

"Do you know, Rupert, I think I will learn to act those parts in time?"

"You might succeed in Jekyll, but it would be more difficult to play the
part of Hyde."

"Perhaps so. Indeed, I know you are right. But it is a part which I
should enjoy. I have a great mind to make a study of it."

"If I were you I would try something easier."

"It is the hard parts that are best worth acting," said Leslie, grandly.

Rupert thought little more of this conversation, but two evenings later,
as he sat playing checkers with Harry Benton, there was a knock at the
door of Mrs. Benton's apartment. On the door being opened, Mrs. Spenser
appeared. She was the lady of whom Leslie hired his room. She seemed to
be quite excited.

"Oh, Mr. Rollins," she exclaimed, addressing Rupert, "I wanted to see
you. I am so frightened."

Rupert looked up in surprise.

"What is the matter, Mrs. Spenser?"

"Your friend, Mr. Waters, is making a terrible noise. Is he subject to
fits?"

"Not that I ever heard."

"I don't dare to go in. He is acting like a wild man. I never heard
anything to equal it. Do you know if any of his family were ever crazy?"

"I will go and see what is the matter. I don't think you need be
alarmed."

"If he is really crazy," continued Mrs. Spenser, "I don't think I can
keep him, though I need the money he pays for room rent."

Rupert abandoned his game, and, accompanied by the frightened woman,
proceeded to the part of the house where Leslie lodged. As he stood
outside in the hall he heard Leslie in a low, guttural voice rehearsing
the part of Hyde. One who was not familiar with the _rôle_ or the play
might be excused for being startled.

Rupert tried the door, and entered.

There was his associate bell-boy, half-crouching, and with his black
hair carefully disordered, walking across the room, with his naturally
pleasant face distorted by a grin as fiendish as he could make it.

"Look at him! He is certainly crazy!" ejaculated the terrified landlady.
"He looks awful."

"What are you doing, Leslie?" asked Rupert.

Leslie looked up, and his face showed embarrassment when he saw his
visitors.

"I am practicing the part of Hyde," he said.

"I thought so. You have frightened Mrs. Spenser, who thought you had a
fit or were crazy."

Instead of being offended, Leslie took this as a tribute to his art.

"Yes," he said, "it is a frightful character. Did I really look
dreadful?"

"Awful!" said Mrs. Spenser.

"That's the way Mansfield looked. Isn't it, Rupert?"

"Something like it, Leslie, but I shouldn't think you would like to
imitate such a personation. Why don't you try Romeo?"

"Romeo is a silly character. He is only a sixteenth century dude."

"Then imitate Claude Melnotte, in the 'Lady of Lyons.'"

"I never saw it."

"In that character, instead of looking frightful, you would need to look
handsome, romantic and attractive. If Mrs. Spenser should see you in
that she wouldn't be frightened."

"Are you an actor, Mr. Waters?" asked the landlady, curiously.

"I hope to be some day," returned Leslie, much flattered.

"I am going to have some friends come in to see me Christmas evening. I
should be very much obliged if you would do some acting for us, only not
that Hyde," and she shuddered.

"I shall be pleased to do what I can, Mrs. Spenser," replied Leslie,
graciously. "I will speak some pieces for you--some pieces that require
acting. I have a recitation called 'The Tramp.'"

"I shall be very glad to have you. It will be a great favor. Don't you
act, too, Mr. Rollins?"

"No; I leave all that to my friend Leslie."

The landlady retired, leaving the two boys alone.

"What did you think of my acting, Rupert?" said Leslie.

"If I could see it again I think it would give me a nightmare."

"I consider that a compliment," said Leslie, complacently. "I shall
never be satisfied, Rupert, till I go on the stage."



CHAPTER XXV.

LESLIE WATERS AS A DRAMATIC STAR.


A year passed; not an eventful year, however, nor did it materially
change the position of the principal characters introduced in our story.
Rupert was still a bell-boy in the Somerset Hotel. He had been raised
three dollars a week, however, and was now receiving a salary of eight
dollars, besides his board.

His friend Leslie Waters was doing satisfactory service at six dollars.
He had by no means lost his love for the stage. He economized on
clothing in order to attend the theatre. It must be said that his taste
was good, and that he preferred standard plays and good acting to the
sensational pieces that too often eclipse in success the better class of
dramas. He had joined the Violet Dramatic Club of young men, meeting
weekly somewhere on West Fourteenth Street. The members of the club
laboriously rehearsed short plays, and offered their services
gratuitously, or for a slight compensation, to charitable societies, and
thus obtained some valuable training and a share of applause.

Of course Leslie Waters was always cast for a prominent part. Of all the
members of the society he was the most ambitious, and the most willing
to work. For a long time he tried to induce his fellow-members to essay
a long play. He was particularly desirous of playing Claude Melnotte, in
the "Lady of Lyons." The main difficulty, however, was in obtaining a
young lady capable of playing Pauline. At length that difficulty was
surmounted. A young lady of eighteen, from Brooklyn, the cousin of one
of the members of the club, who, like Leslie, thought herself born for
the stage, offered her services, and was adjudged competent, although
rather disposed to overdo the part.

One day Leslie brought to his friend Rupert a circular to the following
effect:


     "The Violet Dramatic Club beg leave to inform their friends and
     the public generally that they will produce Bulwer's noted play,

          THE LADY OF LYONS,

     At Amaranth Hall, on First Avenue, on the evening of Thursday, May
     6, with the distinguished actor, Leslie Waters, in the character of
     Claude Melnotte. Miss Ida Strassburger, an accomplished amateur
     from Brooklyn, will appear as Pauline.

     "Tickets, 25 and 50 cents."

     "The proceeds will be given to the Society for the Relief of
     Indigent Laundresses."


"What do you think of that, Rupert?" asked Leslie, with a complacent
smile.

"I congratulate you on your opportunity to make a hit. I am glad it is
you, and not I, who is to play the part of Claude."

"Of course you would hardly be competent. If you would like some light
part, like that of a servant, I think I might have got you into the
cast."

"Thank you, Leslie, but I have no ambition in that direction. Who is the
Pauline? Do you know her?"

"It is Ida Strassburger, of Brooklyn. She is a cousin of one of our
members."

"How does she play?"

"Pretty well, but she has something of the Bowery style; that is, she
rather overdoes her part. I have tried to tone her down."

"Does she look the part?"

"Well, no. I am sorry to say it, but she is rather short and fat. She is
German, as you may guess from her name. Still I think she will do, if
she will be guided by me. You see we can't afford to be too particular
about a Pauline, for it is harder to get actresses than actors."

"Do you feel at all nervous about your first appearance in a star part?"

"Oh, no, I never was troubled with stage fright. I have considerable
confidence in myself."

This was quite true. Had Leslie been requested to appear as Hamlet, he
would have had no misgivings, but with sufficient time for preparation
would have walked on the stage prepared to enact the _rôle_ of the
melancholy Dane.

"I hope you will win the popular favor, and get your name before the
public."

"I hope so. One of our members, who sometimes reports for the _Evening
News_, has promised to write an account for that paper, and we hope to
be noticed by the _Sun_ and _World_."

"Suppose your father reads the account? Does he take either of these
papers?"

"I hope he will. In fact I shall make sure that he does, for I will send
the papers to him marked, getting you to address the wrappers. While he
would object to my going on the stage professionally, I don't think he
will mind my appearing for the benefit of a charitable society."

"Do you know anything about the Society for the Relief of Indigent
Laundresses?"

"No."

"Yet you are going to work very hard for them."

"Oh, I don't care anything for the society. I would be willing to work
for any society, as long as I got a chance to appear in a prominent
part."

"I am not sure," said Rupert, laughing, "but I would like to have your
club give a performance for the benefit of destitute bell-boys."

"I am quite ready, if any such society should be formed."

"I'll think about forming one, though I am glad to say I don't know of
any destitute bell-boys at present."

Rupert bought several tickets, and invited the entire Benton family,
including his young charge, to attend the performance.

Mrs. Spenser and her daughters received an invitation from Leslie Waters
himself. The widow felt quite flattered.

"I am sure, Mr. Waters," she said, "I am proud to think a distinguished
actor like you is a lodger of mine. It will seem so odd to see you on
the stage. I don't see how you can do it."

"It comes natural to me, Mrs. Spenser," said Leslie, much flattered.

"And do you think you will ever go on the stage as a regular business,
Mr. Waters?"

"I will if I have a good opportunity. To be a bell-boy does not satisfy
my ambition."

"It is a good, steady business."

"Yes, but I feel that I was born for higher things. Anyone can be a
bell-boy, but there are few who are qualified to become actors."

"I wonder your friend Mr. Rollins doesn't act."

"Well, you see, Rupert is a very good fellow, but I don't think he is
gifted enough to become an actor, that is, a prominent actor. I offered
to get him the part of a servant, but he didn't care to attempt it. Some
time, Mrs. Spenser, when a child is needed in any of my plays, I may get
the chance for your Sophie."

"Oh, Mr. Waters, how kind you are. Do you really think Sophie could
act?"

"Yes, if I should train her. You know not very much is expected of a
child."

"I should feel so proud to see my little girl on the stage. Did you ever
see Elsie Leslie act?"

"Yes, she is very clever. I only wish she were old enough, and would
consent to take the part of Pauline. She would be far better than Ida
Strassburger."

"Is she pretty?"

"She is fair-looking, but she is too fat. However, she has a lover, a
stout, young German, who, I understand, is jealous because on the stage
I am to personate her lover. I presume he will be present. I will harrow
him up by being a little extra affectionate."

"Now, Mr. Waters, you are really too bad. You ought to consider the
feelings of the poor young man."

"His name is Otto Schaefer, and he is a butcher's assistant, I
understand. I really hope he won't bring a butcher knife with him, for
it might prove serious for me."

"Rupert," said Leslie in a mysterious tone, a few hours before the play,
"I will tell you a secret if you won't breathe a word about it."

"Is it that you are engaged to the fair Pauline?"

"Oh, bother, no. Otto Schaefer may have her, if he wishes."

"What is it, then?"

"I have sent complimentary tickets to Palmer and Daly. Do you think they
will come?"

"I imagine they are both very busy men, and cannot afford the time."

"I thought, if they should be impressed with my playing, one of them
might offer me an engagement in his stock company."

"And you would like that?"

"Would I like it? It would make me supremely happy."

"Then you are not satisfied with the position of a bell-boy?"

"Certainly not. Are you?"

"For the present, yes."

"Should you be willing to be a bell-boy for the next twenty years?"

"No, I don't think I should, but I am still very young. I have just
passed seventeen."

"And I am a year older. It is high time I entered upon my chosen
vocation."

At length the eventful evening arrived. The hall was well filled, but
the audience were from the neighborhood of First Avenue and Avenue A.
Many of them were German or of German descent. The fact that Miss
Strassburger, who was to play Pauline, was of Teutonic blood, doubtless
accounted for this fact.

The play commenced and progressed smoothly. The actors were well up in
their parts. Ida Strassburger, to be sure, hardly looked aristocratic
enough for Pauline, her figure being decidedly dumpy. She assumed a
coquettish air, and from time to time glanced from the corner of her eye
at a short, stout German young man who sat but a few feet from the
stage.

It is needless to say that this was Otto Schaefer, her Brooklyn lover.
He seemed restless and ill at ease, especially when there were any
affectionate passages between Ida and Leslie. For instance, when Pauline
has to say, "Sweet prince, tell me again of thy palace by the Lake of
Como; it is so pleasant to hear of thy splendors since thou didst swear
to me that they would be desolate without Pauline," Otto's lip curled
with scorn, and he glared at the prince with a hostile eye.

Towards the end of the play, when Melnotte presents himself after a long
absence, and Pauline, recognizing her husband, rushes into his arms,
Otto could stand it no longer. He sprang from his seat, jumped on the
stage, and called out in an excited tone to Leslie: "You quit that!
That gal is my promised wife."

Instantly there was a chorus of exclamations, and half the audience rose
to their feet in excitement.



CHAPTER XXVI.

TRIUMPHANT OVER OBSTACLES.


Never, probably, in the many representations of "The Lady of Lyons" has
there been a stranger tableau than was presented on the stage in
Amaranth Hall on the evening when Leslie made his _début_ as a star.

Leslie stood in the centre of the stage, with his arm encircling the
waist of the fair Ida, while Otto, short, stout, and decidedly Teutonic,
stood a few feet to the left, shaking his fist at the two leading
characters. It was enough to throw a veteran actor into confusion.

But Leslie was not wholly unprepared. Still encircling the fair
Pauline's waist, he half turned and thundered in indignant words not to
be found in Bulwer's play this stern defiance: "Caitiff, avaunt! This
rock shall fly from its firm base as soon as I."

The melodramatic defiance caught the house. There was a chorus of
shouts and laughter, and some small boys in the gallery called out,
"Pitch into him, Claude!"

Otto, not being accustomed to standing on a stage facing a crowded
audience, appeared somewhat abashed, but his indignation was still warm.
He turned to the audience and said, in an explanatory tone, "He ain't
got no right to hug my gal."

By this time Ida, too, was indignant. She felt that Otto was exposing
both her and himself to ridicule, and she cried out, in a vexed tone,
"You just sit down, Otto Schaefer, and don't make a fool of yourself, or
I'll never speak to you again."

"Sit down! sit down!" resounded from all parts of the house.

Otto could not stand the clamor. With one last indignant glance at
Leslie and his promised bride he descended from the stage and made his
way to his seat in the orchestra.

When Leslie, resuming the business of the play, said, "Look up! look up,
Pauline! for I can bear thine eyes. The stain is blotted from my name.
I have redeemed mine honor," there was a shout of applause.

Then Leslie, perceiving his opportunity, interpolated a few words
appropriate to the occasion. Pointing to the discomfited Otto, he said,
"Heed not that vulgar groundling, who would step in between us and our
happiness. Let him return in shame and failure to his butcher shop in
Brooklyn, nor dare profane thy presence, sweet Pauline."

Otto felt that this was addressed to him, and he called out in a
passion: "Don't you call me names, you New York dude!"

Here a policeman appeared, and hurried the unfortunate man from the
hall, and the play proceeded to the close.

At the end Claude and Pauline were called before the curtain by the
excited audience. The applause was terrific. Then there was a cry of
"Speech! speech!"

Nothing could have suited Leslie better.


     "My generous friends," he said, "this is the proudest moment of my
     life. I don't feel that I have merited your applause, but I accept
     it for the fair Pauline. If my poor efforts have pleased you I am
     more than satisfied. I did not anticipate the unpleasant
     interruption which marred our closing scene, but Miss Strassburger
     and myself were sustained by the thought that you were with us.
     Trusting to meet you again ere long, I bid you good-night."


There was another chorus of cheers. Leslie led Ida out at the wings, and
the audience left the hall.

"What did you think of it, Rupert?" asked Leslie proudly, as he joined
his fellow bell-boy in the street.

"I give you credit for getting out of a tight place so neatly."

"I was too much for the butcher boy, eh, Rupert?"

"You certainly were," said Rupert, laughing. "I hope Ida will forgive
him."

"I think she will after a while, as long as he didn't spoil the play.
The audience were very enthusiastic."

"Yes, more so probably on account of Otto's ill-timed interruption."

"So I think. It was a splendid ovation. Oh, Rupert, it was delicious. It
was, as I said, the proudest moment of my life. I wonder if there will
he anything in the papers about it."

"I think it quite likely."

"You didn't see anything of Daly or Palmer in the hall, did you?"

"I don't know the gentlemen by sight."

"I wish they had been there. I think they would have appreciated my
triumph over the young butcher from Brooklyn."

"Perhaps they would," said Rupert, dubiously.

The next evening Leslie read the following notice in the _Evening News_:


     "Last evening Bulwer's play, 'The Lady of Lyons' was produced by
     the Violet Dramatic Company at Amaranth Hall, on First Avenue. The
     performance was smooth and creditable to the young players. Mr.
     Leslie Waters as Claude Melnotte, was earnest and effective, while
     Miss Ida Strassburger made an acceptable Pauline. Towards the close
     of the play an excitable young German, who was probably under the
     influence of beer, left his seat, and, jumping on the stage,
     interrupted the performance. He appeared to be jealous of
     Melnotte's attentions to Pauline. Mr. Waters showed remarkable
     composure in a trying situation, and interpolated a rebuke to the
     officious intruder. The audience sustained him, and he and Miss
     Strassburger were called before the curtain with terrific applause.
     We shall doubtless hear from Mr. Waters again."


"That is very complimentary, Leslie," said Rupert. "I hope it won't
unfit you for your duties as bell-boy."

"No, but it will make me impatient to close them for good and all, and
embrace the glorious profession of Booth and Irving."



CHAPTER XXVII.

AN INGENIOUS TRICK.


One morning a tailor's boy entered the Somerset Hotel with a bundle
which he carried to the clerk.

"It is an overcoat for Mr. Silas Drayton," he said.

"Very well," said the clerk. "You can leave it, and we will send it to
his room."

Upon this the boy left the hotel.

A young man of twenty-five or thereabouts, who was sitting near by,
listened attentively to what passed between the boy and the clerk.

The latter summoned Rupert, and said: "Here is the key of 58. You may
take up this coat and leave it in the room. It belongs to Mr. Drayton."

"All right, sir."

Rupert started with the bundle, and the young man started for the
elevator, and got into it just as it was about to ascend.

"I want to go up to No. 58," he said.

"Very well."

When they reached the third floor the elevator boy halted.

"You will find No. 58 on this floor," he said.

"Thank you."

The young man found the room, and was standing in front of it when
Rupert made his appearance.

"Is that my uncle's coat?" he asked.

"It is Mr. Drayton's coat."

"Exactly. Mr. Drayton is my uncle. You may give it to me, and I will
take it in. Have you the key?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then you may give it to me; I came up without one."

He spoke with such assurance that Rupert, accustomed as he was to
impostors, was quite taken in. He handed the package and the key to the
young man, who at once opened the door and went into the room.

When Rupert had got half-way down stairs he began to wonder if he had
not made a mistake.

He did not feel at all sure that the young man to whom he had handed the
bundle had any right to claim it. As it might prove to be a serious
mistake he went to the clerk and inquired, "Has Mr. Drayton got a nephew
stopping here?"

"No. Why do you ask?"

"I am afraid I have made a blunder. At the door of No. 58 I met a young
man who told me he was Mr. Drayton's nephew, and asked me to hand him
the bundle."

"Did he come down stairs?"

"No, he went into the room."

"I didn't think you could be so easily imposed upon, Rupert. The man is
undoubtedly an adventurer. Describe him."

Rupert did so.

"He had been sitting in the office for half an hour. He must have seen
the tailor's boy bring in the bundle."

"He is upstairs yet. Can't we get back the coat?"

"You will know him when you see him again?"

"Oh, yes."

"Then take your position by the elevator, and if you see him come down,
signal to the detective whom I will also station there. He will take
care of him."

Ten minutes later the elevator reached the office floor. Among those who
stepped out was the young man, wearing an overcoat considerably too
large for him. It was clear that he had put it on in No. 58, and was now
about to wear it out of the hotel.

He stepped out of the elevator, and with a slight glance about him made
briskly for the door. But he had taken only two steps when Rupert caught
him by the arm.

"I want to see you a minute," he said.

"I am in a hurry. I have an appointment. I will see you on my return."

But the detective had now stepped forward.

"You will have to stop now," he said, firmly.

"I don't understand you. By what right do you detain me?"

"Where did you get that overcoat you have on?"

"It is my own. Hasn't a man a right to wear an overcoat?"

"Yes, if it belongs to him. This seems too large for you."

"True," said the young man, "it belongs to my uncle, Mr. Drayton."

"Indeed. Then how do you happen to be wearing it?"

"I have borrowed it for the day. Really this is very annoying."

"What is your name?"

"Charles Drayton," answered the young man, with some hesitation.

"You will have to take off the coat and accompany me to the police
station."

"This is an outrage!" exclaimed the young man. "My uncle will be very
angry."

"If he identifies you, and assures us that it was by his authority you
borrowed the coat, we will apologize."

"But that won't make up to me for your unwarrantable interference. Take
the coat and let me go."

In spite of his protestations, however, Mr. Charles Drayton, as he
called himself, was escorted to the nearest police station and held for
examination. He was tried, and would have been sentenced to a term of
imprisonment, Mr. Silas Drayton disclaiming all relationship, had not
the old gentleman taken pity on him and declined to prosecute.

It appeared at the trial that the young man was well known to the police
as Sidney Marvin, an expert thief, born in London, but for three years a
resident of the United States. Mr. Drayton was blamed for allowing him
to escape punishment, but he was a soft-hearted man, and disposed to
give the young man another chance.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

RUPERT RESIGNS HIS SITUATION.


Rupert had been a bell-boy for more than a year. He found his employers
very pleasant and considerate, and his salary was larger, probably, than
he could get anywhere else. Still the position was not likely to lead to
anything better, unless he might in time qualify himself to be a hotel
clerk.

Sometimes he talked over the matter with Leslie, but the latter had the
advantage of knowing just what he aspired to. He was determined some day
to be an actor, and was content to remain in his present place till
there was an opening for him on the stage.

One day Rupert received a letter from Colorado. He knew, of course, that
the letter was written by his old acquaintance, Giles Packard, from whom
he heard occasionally. This was the letter:


     "FRIEND RUPERT--

     "I have been meaning for some time to write to you, but my mode of
     life is not favorable to letter-writing, and whenever I take my pen
     in hand I feel as awkward as a Chinaman would with a knife and
     fork. I think it is three months since I heard from you, but I hope
     you are well and getting on nicely. How is the little boy you took
     charge of? It was a pretty big responsibility for a lad of your
     age, but I am sure you would take better care of him than a good
     many older persons.

     "Don't forget that you promised to let me know if you needed some
     help. Even small boys cost something to bring up, and I have
     plenty, while you are only beginning life. I suppose you are still
     a bell-boy at the Somerset Hotel. Now that is a good position for a
     boy, but it seems to me that it is about time you took up something
     else. Before choosing what it shall be, I want you to come out and
     make me a visit. I feel pretty lonely sometimes, having neither
     'chick nor child,' unless I count you. I think it would do you good
     to see a little something of the far West. I inclose a draft for
     two hundred dollars for your expenses out here. If all is right I
     want you either to ask for a vacation or leave your situation, and
     start as soon as you can. Don't be afraid, for I will see that you
     don't suffer, even if you don't get a new place right off."


Here followed some directions as to finding him, and then the letter
ended.

The proposal struck Rupert favorably. He had a natural desire to
travel, and had a great anxiety to see Chicago and other places, of
which he had heard a great deal.

He went at once to the proprietor of the hotel and showed him the
letter.

"You want to accept the invitation, I suppose?" said the landlord.

"Yes, sir, if it won't inconvenience you."

"As it happens, one of my old friends wants me to give his son a place
in the hotel. I had thought of discharging Leslie to make room for him,
but if you really wish to give up your position I will put him in your
place."

"That will suit me, sir."

"But in that case I cannot take you back on your return."

"I will not expect you to do so. I think I can find something outside,
and Mr. Packard agreed to see me through."

"That draft looks like it. I will send for the boy at once, and during
the balance of the week you can instruct him in his duties."

"I am sorry you are going, Rupert," said Leslie. "If you get acquainted
with any managers on your Western trip, speak a good word for me."

"I will."

"I am going to play at a benefit next week, Wednesday. It is a variety
entertainment, and I am to give imitations of celebrated actors. I've
got Irving down fine. You ought to stay and see me."

"Perhaps you will give me a private rehearsal. It wouldn't be convenient
for me to put off my journey."

"I will. Come into my room to-night, and you shall see me imitate
Irving, Booth and Joe Jefferson."

Rupert stayed two days in Chicago, and visited the principal localities,
including Jackson Park, soon to become known all over the country as the
site of the World's Fair. He was impressed with the business activity
and greatness of the Queen City of the West, and left it reluctantly at
the end of two days. At the railroad station, while purchasing his
ticket to Denver, his attention was called to a tall old man who looked
to be nearly seventy. He was thin and bent, and his face was sad. His
suit was black, but it was well-worn and looked shabby. His eyes were
fixed on Rupert as he bought his ticket, and he heaved a sigh.

"I envy you, young man," he said in answer to Rupert's inquiring look.

"Why so?" asked the bell-boy.

"Because you are going to Denver."

"Do you wish to go there?"

"Yes, but it is impossible."

"Why is that? Won't your business permit you?"

"Alas, I have no business. I came to Chicago from my old home in
Rochester, New York, hoping to get a situation as bookkeeper. I
understand bookkeeping thoroughly, and for fifteen years occupied that
position in one of the largest firms in Buffalo. But they went out of
business, and I was thrown on my own resources."

"Had you not laid up any money?"

"Yes. I took what I had, and went by invitation to make my home at the
house of a niece in Rochester who was married to a man named Jackson. I
had three thousand dollars, and I thought that if I should get
something to do I might with the help of that live comfortably for the
balance of my days. That was a year ago, and I was then sixty-five. I
can hardly expect to live many years, and I considered myself well
provided for.

"Well, I sought out my niece, and was cordially received by her husband
and herself after they learned that I had money. I agreed to board with
them, and sought a position in my old line. But a man over sixty is at a
disadvantage when he is seeking employment. In vain I showed a
first-class recommendation from my past employers in Buffalo.

"'I dare say you understand your business,' one and another said to me,
'but you are too old for us. We want a young man who can hustle.'

"'But I can hustle, too,' I said.

"They only laughed.

"'You are too old to work. You ought to retire,' they said.

"I reported my disappointment to my niece and her husband.

"'Uncle John,' said my nephew, 'I feel for you, and I will try to do
something for you. I think I can make a place for you in my store. I
can't afford to pay you high wages. If you will work for ten dollars a
week I will employ you.'

"I was very glad to accept this proposal, though I had in my time been
paid a hundred dollars a month.

"I entered the store, and had reason to think that I was doing
satisfactory work. But at the end of three weeks Eben Jackson called me
aside and said: 'Uncle John, I have been figuring up my expenses, and I
don't see how I can afford to employ you.'

"'You wish me to go, then?'

"'I shall have to dispense with your services unless I can get
additional capital to enlarge my business.'

"Presently he made me a proposal.

"'If you will lend me three thousand dollars,' he said, 'and allow me to
use it in my business, I will pay you six per cent. interest, and
advance your wages to twelve dollars a week.'

"I thought over this proposal and determined to accept it. Eben Jackson
was very plausible and smooth-spoken, and I saw no reason to doubt him.
I transferred my small capital to him. He increased his stock, but only
by five hundred dollars' worth, as I afterwards ascertained, and I
continued to work for him. For a month he paid me twelve dollars per
week, then he reduced me to ten, on the plea that business was poor,
afterwards to eight, and finally he allowed me only my board. I became
indignant and demanded my money back, but he absolutely refused to repay
it. I consulted a lawyer, but found upon inquiry that he had made over
all his property to his wife. I saw that nothing was to be expected, and
a month since I left Rochester and came to Chicago, in the hope of
finding employment here."



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE ST. JAMES HOTEL, IN DENVER.


"What has been your success here, Mr. Plympton?" inquired Rupert.

"No better than in Rochester. Why is it that no one is willing to employ
an old man? I am in good bodily health, and I can do as good work as I
ever could, but no one will have me."

"Chicago seems to be a city of young men--more so than New York."

"Have you noticed that? Some of the successful business men are men
young enough to be my sons."

"I understand you to say that you wished to go to Denver. Have you any
reason to think you will succeed any better there?"

"No, but I have a nephew somewhere in Colorado, and perhaps in Denver.
If I can fall in with him, I am sure he will help me. I haven't seen
Giles for twenty years, but--"

"Giles!" repeated Rupert, in surprise. "What is his full name?"

"Giles Packard. He is my sister's son."

"Well, that is astonishing," ejaculated Rupert.

"What is astonishing?"

"Your nephew is my particular friend, and I am going out to Colorado at
his special invitation."

"Is it possible?" asked the old man, eagerly. "Then you know where he
lives?"

"Yes."

"Will you tell him you met me, and ask him if he will send money to
bring me on to where he lives? Giles was always good-hearted, and I am
sure he will do it."

"It won't be necessary to wait. I will buy you another ticket, and take
you on with me."

John Plympton's face lighted up with joy.

"How kind you are," he said, grasping Rupert's hand. "I hope when you
are old you will find some one who will be as kind to you. You are not
related to me in any way, you only saw me within the hour, yet you are
going to do me a great kindness. May heaven bless you."

"Thank you, but don't give me too much credit. I am sure Mr. Packard
will approve what I am doing, and will consider it a favor done to
himself."

"I hope so, but my niece's treatment has made me uncertain how far the
ties of relationship will be regarded. Yet I will accept your offer
thankfully."

Rupert lost no time in purchasing another ticket, and secured Pullman
accommodations for himself and his new acquaintance.

"You used to live in Buffalo," he said.

"Yes, I worked in one place there for fifteen years."

"Did you ever hear of the firm of Rollins & Lorimer?"

"Certainly. They were dry-goods merchants."

"I am Rupert Rollins, son of the senior partner."

"Is it possible? I knew your father well. He was a fine man."

"I am glad to hear you say so."

"But I didn't like Mr. Lorimer as well."

"I have little reason to like him, for he ruined my poor father, and
indirectly caused his death."

"I am not surprised to hear it. I never had any dealings with Mr.
Lorimer, but I knew his reputation. Is your mother living?"

"Yes, thank God, she is living, and my sister Grace as well."

"Did your father lose all his property?"

"All."

"How, then, is your mother getting along?"

Rupert explained.

"And yourself? Are you in any employment?"

"I have been a bell-boy in a New York hotel for the last year and a
half."

"You could hardly be very well paid."

"Yes, I received larger pay than I would have received in a mercantile
house. But I have finally given up the business."

"What do you propose to do?"

"I shall ask the advice of your nephew. He is a very good friend of
mine--the best I have outside my own family with one exception--and I
shall be guided by what he says."

"I wish I had been able to go to him instead of to my niece and her
husband."

"I don't see how they could have treated you so meanly."

"Mary would have treated me better, but she is under the thumb of her
husband, and he is as mean a man as I ever encountered."

"Excepting Mr. Lorimer."

"There isn't much choice between them."

"Did he give you a note for the three thousand dollars you lent him?"

"Yes, I have his note--but what is it worth?"

"Keep it and show it to Mr. Packard. He may be able to advise you how to
secure it."

"Do you know if Giles has been successful? Has he bettered himself in
Colorado?"

"I have reason to think that he is a rich man. He has been very kind to
me, who am a recent acquaintance, and I am sure he will not turn his
back upon his uncle."

This assurance brightened up the old man, who rapidly recovered his
cheerfulness, and looked forward to a meeting with the nephew whom he
had not seen for twenty years.

Rupert had telegraphed to Mr. Packard when he would reach Denver, and
received a return telegram directing him to go to the St. James Hotel.
Thither he repaired, taking his companion with him.

Mr. Plympton displayed some anxiety as they were approaching Denver.

"Perhaps my nephew will receive me coldly," he said. "If he does, there
will be nothing left me but destitution and the poorhouse."

"Don't be alarmed, Mr. Plympton," rejoined Rupert. "You have not seen
your nephew for twenty years. I have met him more recently, and I
probably know him better than you. Leave all in my hands. I will speak
to him about you."

They reached the St. James, and Rupert engaged rooms for both. On
examining the hotel register he found that Giles Packard had already
arrived. He had been in the hotel hardly half an hour when Mr. Packard
entered.

His face lighted up with pleasure when he saw Rupert.

"I am delighted to see you, Rupert," he said. "Somehow you seem very
near to me. I shall take you, after a day or two in Denver, to my cattle
ranch near Red Gulch, and I think I can promise you a good time and a
comfortable home for as long as you are willing to stay."

"Have you room for another, Mr. Packard? I have brought a companion with
me."

"Why, certainly. Any friend of yours shall have a cordial welcome."

"But he is nearer to you than to me."

Mr. Packard's face expressed surprise.

"I don't understand you."

"I found a relative of yours in Chicago. He was in hard luck, and I
thought you would be willing to help him. Here he is."

He led Giles Packard up to his uncle, who anxiously scanned the face of
his nephew.

"Don't you know me, Giles?" he asked, in a tremulous tone.

"Surely you are not my Uncle John?"

"The same. I hope you will forgive me for seeking you out."

"Don't speak like that, Uncle John. I have not forgotten that I am your
nephew."

"But, Giles, I come to you as a pauper."

"I have enough for us both. Did you save nothing, then, by your long
years of business?"

"I saved three thousand dollars."

Then he explained how he had been defrauded of it by Eben Jackson.

Giles Packard's face became stern.

"The scoundrel!" he exclaimed. "And after he got your money he had no
further use for you?"

"No, he turned me out to starve."

"You were very imprudent in trusting him with the money."

"So I was, but he promised, if I lent it to him, that he would give me a
position in his store."

"And he broke his promise?"

"No; he employed me for about two months, but in the end he would only
give me my board, and refused to let me have money enough to buy a suit
of clothes. Then I became indignant and left the house."

"Did you make an effort to recover the money?"

"Yes, but it was of no use. He refused to give it back."

"He must have given you a note?"

"Yes, I have his note."

"I will give you the money, and you will transfer the note to me. He
will find me a different customer to deal with."

"Keep the money yourself, Giles, and pay me interest on it. I shall not
be afraid to trust you."

"I will. If I treat you as Eben Jackson did, may I lose my property and
become a pauper."

"You are sure you can afford to do this, Giles? You have accumulated
some property?"

"Well," answered Giles, smiling, "I am not a millionaire, but I think
perhaps I might realize seventy-five thousand dollars if I should take
account of stock. I have been very successful in gathering property, but
I have had a great many lonely hours."

"Don't you need a bookkeeper?" asked the old man, eagerly.

"Yes, I can find you something to do in your own line, Uncle John. My
business isn't very complicated, but I find it necessary to keep some
accounts. I will give you a home and you shall want for nothing. Has
Eben Jackson got any children?"

"Yes, he has two, a boy and a girl. They are fourteen and eleven."

"What sort of children are they?"

"The boy is like his father. He never treated me with respect, but
looked upon me as a poor relation. The girl is of a better disposition."

"And they would be among my heirs. I will look them up some day, and
shape my will accordingly. Shall you be ready to go back with me on
Monday, Rupert?"

"I will be ready whenever you are, Mr. Packard."



CHAPTER XXX.

PACKARD'S HOME AT RED GULCH.


Mr. Packard's cattle ranch was located in one of the extensive parks for
which Colorado is noted. It included several square miles of territory.
The cattleman had erected a dwelling, covering a good deal of ground,
but only one story high. While it was comfortable, it was easy to see
that it was the home of a bachelor.

He had as housekeeper the widow of a herdsman, or perhaps I may say,
cowboy, who had died a year before. She cooked and took care of the
house.

"Well, Rupert," he said, "this is my home. Mrs. Jones, get ready two
rooms for my friends here. Uncle John, you are the oldest and shall have
the choice."

"Any room will do for me, Giles," said the old man modestly.

"You shall have as good a one as the house affords."

"You treat me differently from Eben Jackson. He gave me a small room in
the attic."

"And did his wife allow that?"

"She had very little to say. Her husband's will is law in that
household."

"I am sorry for her. She deserved a better fate. As a girl she was
good-hearted and had a cheerful disposition."

"She is greatly changed. I am afraid her husband has taught her to be
selfish. She seemed to have little more consideration for me than Eben."

Rupert found that Mr. Packard was a cattle owner on a large scale. He
had a great number of cowboys in his employ, over whom he exercised
supervision.

"Is all your property in cattle, Giles?" asked his uncle.

"No. I have mining interests. The money I have made in the cattle
business I have invested, at least partially, in mines and mining
claims. I don't believe in having all my eggs in one basket."

"You seem to have done well in coming out West."

"Yes, when I came out here I probably was not worth over two thousand
dollars all told. Now I am worth somewhere from seventy-five to one
hundred thousand."

"I should think you would marry."

Giles Packard shook his head.

"When a man reaches the age of forty-five unmarried," he said, "he had
better remain so. After that, marriage is a lottery."

Mr. Packard's guests found that he lived in a generous style. His
housekeeper was an excellent cook, and his table was well supplied. But
the days seemed long without employment. Rupert was supplied with a
saddle-horse, and rode far and wide with his host, but John Plympton had
reached an age when a man enjoys home comforts better than out-of-door
exercise.

"Giles," he said, on the third day, "I am tired of doing nothing.
Suppose you bring out your books and give me something to do."

"I will, Uncle John. When I was in Denver I bought some new books, and I
will commission you to transfer my accounts from the old ones. I never
was much of a bookkeeper, and I am not sure whether you can understand
my entries. However, you will be able to refer to me when you get
puzzled."

The old man felt quite happy when set to work in his old business. As
Mr. Packard's books covered a period of over fifteen years he found the
task by no means a short one, but this pleased him all the more.

"I like to feel that I am earning my living," he said.

"What do you think of me as a bookkeeper, Uncle John?"

"I think you would find it hard to obtain a position in any first-class
house," answered the old man, smiling.

"I have no doubt you are right. However, I never was ambitious to become
a bookkeeper. What salary were you accustomed to earn?"

"A hundred dollars a month."

"You couldn't get rich on that. I have done better than that. Every man
to his trade, as some wise man has said."

"Are you fond of hunting, Rupert?" asked Giles Packard one day.

"When I lived in the country I used to go gunning sometimes."

"We have some very good hunting here. I should like to go with you, but
at present my business will not permit. I think, however, that I can
find you a companion, if you would like to try it."

"I should," answered Rupert, promptly.

"There is a man who lives about three miles from me, in a small house
near the river. He is a shiftless sort of fellow, but he is a good
hunter. I will offer him pay to go with you, and his living during the
trip. You will find it pleasant to stay about a week. I suppose you
won't mind roughing it?'

"No, that is what I shall like."

"Then I shall send for Ben--his name is Ben Boone--and you can start
bright and early Monday morning."



CHAPTER XXXI.

BEN BOONE.


Ben Boone was a tall, loose-jointed man with a shambling gait, who
looked as if he wished to get through life as easily as possible. It
would be hard to find a man less ambitious. His movements were slow, and
he seemed the incarnation of laziness.

He was as slow in speech as in action. Yet he was a successful hunter
and had tramped about Colorado so much that no better guide could be
found.

"I heard you wanted to see me, Mr. Packard," he said, when he made his
appearance.

"Yes, I may have something for you to do. How are you getting on?"

"Not at all, squire. I'm a dreadfully unlucky man."

"So should I have been if I had been as lazy as you."

"What's the use of workin'? Things allus goes ag'inst me."

"I don't believe you would succeed under any circumstances. Do you know
what makes the difference between you and me?"

"I reckon you was born to be rich."

"I was not rich till I came to Colorado, but when I came here I went to
work."

Ben shrugged his shoulders.

"I've worked, too," he said, "but what's the good of it all?"

"Not much good in your case, I admit. However, I don't suppose you can
be made over again, and if you could I don't think I would undertake it.
There's one thing you do understand, and that's hunting. You've been
pretty much all over Colorado."

"Yes, squire."

"I have a young friend here who would like to spend a week among the
hills. He may not do much in the way of hunting, but he will carry a gun
with him. He would like to explore the country a little under your
guidance. I believe that is the only kind of work you are willing to
undertake."

"Yes," answered Ben, in a tone of satisfaction. "I don't mind that."

"Then I'll tell you what I will do. You will take my young friend with
you--his name is Rupert Rollins--and see that he has a good time."

"I'll do that, squire."

"I will furnish you with provisions sufficient to last you both a week,
and will give you three dollars a day for your trouble. If there are any
other expenses, Rupert will have money and will pay them. You won't need
to spend anything, so there is no reason why you shouldn't save all your
wages. How is your wife?"

"Oh, she's allus complainin'. She's had the fever'n ager last week."

"It is fortunate you have no children, for you don't seem to provide for
even your wife."

"That's because I ain't lucky."

"Luck doesn't often come in the way of a shiftless man like yourself.
Well, do you accept my offer?"

"Yes, squire. I'll be glad to do it."

"Send your wife here to-morrow morning. I will give her a part of your
wages, so that she will have enough to carry her through while you are
away."

"Give it to me, squire. I'll give it to her."

Giles Packard regarded him keenly.

"I can't trust you," he said. "If I give her the money I shall be sure
she gets it."

"How much are you goin' to give her?"

"Two days' pay--six dollars. When you return, if you are away seven days
there will be fifteen dollars for you."

Ben Boone grumbled some. He thought three dollars would be enough for
his wife, but Mr. Packard was obstinate. He understood Ben thoroughly
and had very little confidence in him.

"You may be surprised, Rupert, that I should send you with such a man,
but, shiftless and lazy as he is, he understands his business. He will
prove a good guide, and will make you acquainted with some of the
wonders of Colorado."

"I am quite satisfied, Mr. Packard."

"Uncle John, if you wish to join the party I am entirely willing, and
will pay your expenses also."

"No, Giles, I am getting too old for adventure. I have got to an age
when a man prefers the chimney corner to camping out. It will do very
well for Rupert, but I am about fifty years older than he is, and fifty
years make a great difference. He can tell me till about his trip when
he comes back."

"So I will, Mr. Plympton," said Rupert, with a smile.

Rupert looked forward to the journey with eager interest. He had always
been fond of out-of-door sports, and the hunting expedition seemed to
promise an experience entirely new to him. He little imagined what shape
a portion of this experience would take.



CHAPTER XXXII.

AN UNPLEASANT BEDFELLOW.


Rupert was provided with a hunter's outfit and a gun by his host, and in
company with his guide started out on Monday morning.

"I suppose you won't mind roughing it, Rupert?" said Mr. Packard.

"No, that is what I shall like. I remember when I lived in the country I
went with some other boys to a point fifteen miles away, and camped out
for a week. I wish I could see the boys now. There was Harry Bacon, and
George Parker, and Eugene Sweetland, and--but you won't be interested in
hearing about it."

"I am glad you have had some experience in that kind of life. Of course
you won't have the comforts of home, but you may meet with adventures.
At any rate, if you get tired you can start for home any time."

"Mr. Boone," said Rupert, when they were fairly on their way, "are you
related to Daniel Boone?"

"I don't think there was any Daniel in our family," answered Ben, in a
matter-of-fact tone. "Where did he live?"

"In Kentucky."

"I never was in Kentucky myself, though my wife has a cousin who lives
there somewhere."

"This Daniel Boone was a great hunter," explained Rupert, rather
surprised that Ben had not heard of him.

"Then he must be a relation to me. All my family were fond of hunting."

At the end of ten miles they struck a river, which was pleasant, as it
afforded them a change of travel. They had brought with them a skeleton
skiff, a sort of framework, with skins to cover it, and they were able
to launch it on the river. The stream was narrow, and bordered on one
side by mountain scenery. The channel seemed to be deep, and as the
skiff moved rapidly on, with comparatively slight exertion in the way of
rowing, Rupert felt that he was indeed in a wonderful land.

The country seemed very sparsely settled. Once in a great while they
caught sight of a rude cabin, which appeared to contain but one room.

"Have you ever been on those mountains, Mr. Boone?" asked Rupert.

"Well, I've never been to the top of any of the peaks. I reckon I've
been half-way up Pike's Peak (that's north of us) and Long's Peak. It's
dreadful hard climbing, and there don't seem to be any good in it when
you've done it. Did you want to climb up any of the mountains?"

"Well, I might like to some time, but perhaps I'd better wait till
another trip."

"I reckon you'd better."

It was clear that Mr. Boone had no desire to go mountain-climbing. He
was not fond of exertion; it was easier getting over level ground.

They kept to the river for as much as fifty miles. Occasionally they
landed, and made a little trip into the woods, but after a while they
returned again to the river. At night they slept on the ground, covering
themselves with blankets. They shot a few birds, but thus far they had
met with no large game.

One morning Rupert had a fright. It was about four o'clock, and the
light was indistinct. As he turned from one side to the other he was
startled by finding that he had a bedfellow. There, coiled at his side,
was a large rattlesnake, apparently asleep.

Rupert did not start up suddenly. He did not dare do so, for fear of
rousing his unpleasant neighbor, and perhaps receiving a bite. Rupert
was naturally a brave boy, but he turned very pale, and his heart came
up in his mouth.

With extreme caution he moved somewhat to the opposite side, and managed
to raise himself to his feet. He was not sure whether rattlesnakes had a
quick sense of hearing, and this made him unusually circumspect. He
wondered that the snake, which must have taken his position after he was
asleep, had not attacked him before.

"But I suppose he was not hungry," he reflected, and then he shuddered
as he thought that, had he slept two or three hours longer, the snake
might have waked up and felt ready for breakfast. In that case, he would
have been a ready victim.

However, he was on his feet and unhurt. Ben Boone lay ten feet away. He
was snoring loudly, so loudly that Rupert wondered he had not waked up
the rattlesnake, who could hardly be accustomed to sounds of that
nature.

He approached his companion, and, bending over, called out, "Mr. Boone,"
but Ben never moved. He was a sound sleeper.

Rupert shook him, first gently, afterwards more roughly, till at last he
opened his eyes, but seemed dazed and not quite conscious.

"Eh? Eh? What's the matter?" he ejaculated at length.

"Look there," said Rupert, pointing to the rattlesnake.

"Oh, yes, a rattlesnake," returned Ben, wholly without excitement.
"There's a good many of 'em in these parts."

"That one coiled himself up close to where I was lying."

"Yes, it's a way they have. Seems as if they liked company," answered
Ben, coolly.

"But--aren't they dangerous?"

"Well--they might be, if you interfered with 'em," drawled Boone. "As
long as you lay still and didn't meddle with 'em they'd be all right."

"But suppose in my sleep I'd thrown out my arm, as I sometimes do, and
hit the snake?"

"Then there'd be a chance of his biting you."

"And I suppose that would be fatal?"

"I've been bit myself," said Ben, in a reminiscent tone.

"And did you die?"

It was upon Rupert's lips to say this, but it occurred to him that it
would be rather an absurd question, so he changed it to, "How did you
get over it?"

"I filled myself full of whiskey--it's the only way. I was never so
drunk in my life. But when I got over it, I was all right."

"I suppose the whiskey neutralized the poison," suggested Rupert.

"I reckon so," answered Boone, who was not quite clear in his mind as
to the meaning of the word which Rupert had used. "What time is it?"

Rupert consulted his watch.

"It is fifteen minutes past four."

"That's too early to get up. I'll have another nap."

"I can't sleep. I shall be all the time thinking of the snake."

"He won't do you any harm."

"You are more used to such sights than I. Can't we kill the snake?"

"We might, but it's likely there's more not far away."

"I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go into the boat and see if I can't
stretch myself out there."

"Just as you like," said Boone, drowsily.

He turned over, and in two minutes he was snoring as noisily as ever.

Rupert shared the repugnance that most persons have for snakes, and he
had read so much about rattlesnakes and the fatal effects of their bite
that he had an unusual dread of them. It would have been a relief if
this particular snake were killed.

How would it do for him to shoot it in the head, which he judged was the
most vulnerable part? Only, if he missed fire, and the snake were only
wounded, he would probably be roused to anger, and in that case would
become dangerous. Doubtless Ben could cope with him, but Rupert felt
that it would be imprudent in him, a mere boy, and unaccustomed to
hunting, to arouse such a dangerous antagonist.

So, giving up all thoughts of an encounter, he proceeded to the river,
and lay down as well as he could in the boat. It was not very
comfortable, but we felt relieved from all fear of the snake, and after
a while he fell asleep.

When he woke up he got out of the boat and went on shore. He looked at
the spot where the snake had been coiled, but could not see him. He had
evidently waked up and vacated the premises.

Rupert glanced over to where the guide was lying and saw that he was
still asleep. The fact that the rattlesnake was so near had not
interfered at all with his ease of mind or his slumbers.

Rupert looked at his watch. It was already seven o'clock, and that was
the hour when they generally got up.

"Seven o'clock, Mr. Boone!" he called out, giving Ben a shake.

"Oh! ah! is it?" and Ben stretched himself out in a sleepy way.

"Yes. Isn't it time to get up?"

Ben took the hint, and rose from his recumbent position.

"Didn't you wake me some time ago?" he asked. "What was it all about?"

"There was a rattlesnake lying beside me."

"Where is it now?"

"It's gone."

"Then there's no harm done."

Ben Boone was not only the guide, but the cook of the little party. They
had brought with them materials for camping-out meals, and it was his
work to make a fire and prepare their simple repasts. Sometimes they
caught a fish or two in the river, and it made a pleasant addition to
their fare.

Rupert found that in this new life he always had a good appetite for
breakfast--more, even, than for their other meals. He had never had so
good an appetite at the Somerset House, though the cook at that
establishment was probably superior to Ben Boone in his chosen line.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

BEN BOONE'S TEMPTATION.


The reader may naturally expect to hear something of Rupert's experience
as a hunter. But so far as this story is concerned, this is not called
for. He had other experiences which will speedily be set forth.

For, after all, it was not so much the hunting that Rupert cared about.
He thoroughly enjoyed his opportunity to travel through the wild scenery
of Middle Colorado. It was camping out in a much more interesting way
than when, as a boy, he went but a little way from home, and knew that
only a few miles intervened between him and his ordinary life.

Then he was interested in his guide. At the East he had never met such a
man as Ben Boone. He seemed a product of the country. As for Ben, he
carried out his contract, and served as a guide, philosopher and--I was
about to say friend, but on the whole we'll substitute companion.

Though Ben was a skillful hunter and mountaineer he did not particularly
enjoy his work. He was a thoroughly lazy man, and would prefer to have
remained at home in the rude cabin which passed for such, and, lying on
his back with a pipe in his mouth, have drowsed and dreamed away his
time. He did not understand, for his part, why city people who could
live comfortably should want to rough it, incurring the fatigue of
hunting just for the sake of amusement.

"I am tired," he said, on the night after Rupert's adventure with the
snake.

"Yes," said Rupert, "I am tired, too. We have come a good many miles."

"Do you like it?"

"Oh, yes," said Rupert enthusiastically; "it is grand."

"I don't see what good it is," rejoined Ben, lying back with a sense of
exquisite enjoyment in his chance to rest. "You are not making any
money."

"No," replied Rupert, laughing, "but I enjoy the wild mountain scenery;
don't you?"

"No; a mountain isn't much to see."

"Then there are the valleys, the woods and the waterfalls."

"Oh, I've seen plenty of them. I don't care for them."

"I suppose that is why you don't care for them. You are too familiar
with them."

"I reckon so," drawled Ben.

"Don't you enjoy seeing anything? Is there anything you would rather see
than this wild and romantic scenery?"

"Yes. I would rather see cities. Where do you live when you are at
home?"

"In New York."

"That is a wonderful city, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"I expect it is a great deal larger than Denver?"

"Yes; forty or fifty times as large."

At this time Denver probably had a population of less than thirty
thousand.

Ben Boone's eyes opened.

"And I suppose there are some grand buildings?" he said, inquiringly.

"Yes," and Rupert told his guide something about the great city, of the
horse-car lines, the elevated trains running thirty feet above the
ground, the big hotels, the Brooklyn bridge, and other marvels, to which
Ben Boone listened with rapt attention.

"I should like to see New York before I die," he said.

"Have you ever been there?"

"No."

"But you have probably seen other cities--St. Louis, or Chicago?"

"No; I have only seen Denver. Well, yes, I saw St. Louis when I was a
boy. It seemed a large city to me then, but I reckon New York is much
bigger."

"Yes, it is a great deal larger--several times as large as St. Louis was
when you saw it."

"Does it cost a great deal of money to go to New York?"

"I think one might go there for fifty dollars, ten less by second
class."

"Second class is good enough for me."

"Yes, you would be a good deal more comfortable traveling second class
than we are on our hunting trip."

"Then I should be satisfied. I ain't used to living first class."

"I should think you would like to go to New York. Is there any reason
why you should not go?"

"There's the money."

"But, as I told you, it doesn't cost a very large sum."

"Fifty dollars is a good deal to me. I never had so much money in my
life."

"Because you don't save up your money."

"I don't know how to save money," said Ben Boone in a listless manner.

"But you could. Now how much money is Mr. Packard paying you for going
with me?"

"Three dollars a day."

"Now suppose we are out ten days--that will make thirty dollars, won't
it?"

"Yes; but I had to leave some money with my wife."

"You will at any rate have twenty-five dollars. Now, why can't you put
that aside, and add to it when you can. Then by and by you will have
money enough to go to New York. When you get there you can find work and
earn enough to keep you and pay your expenses back."

"Yes, I reckon I might," said Ben, not knowing how to controvert
Rupert's statement.

"If you really try hard to save, I will give you something toward your
expenses myself."

"Are you rich?" asked Ben, looking up quickly.

"No, but I have some money."

"How much?"

This question Rupert did not care to answer. Ben Boone was a very good
guide and hunting companion, but he was not exactly the kind of man he
would choose as a confidant.

"I think everybody is rich that lives in New York," said Ben, with a
touch of envy.

"What makes you think that?"

"I have had New York people with me before. I have traveled with them,
and hunted with them. They always seemed to have plenty of money."

"It may be so with those who come out here, but there are plenty who
never travel at all, who live in poor houses in a poor way, who earn
small wages, and are no better off than you, perhaps not so well off. I
was very poor myself once, and had scarcely money enough to buy myself
food."

"But you got over it. You got rich after a while."

Rupert protested that he was not rich, but Ben Boone was incredulous,
though he did not say so. He talked more and more about New York. He
seemed to want to learn all he could about it.

Rupert was not surprised. He remembered that when he was a boy in the
country, he, too, thought and dreamed a great deal about the great city.
After he lived there and grew familiar with its marvels, he became
indifferent to it, as much so as Ben Boone was to the wonderful mountain
scenery. He felt disposed to joke a little about is.

"There is one thing you have here that we don't have in New York," he
said with a laugh.

"What is that?"

"Rattlesnakes."

"No. I reckon not. I shouldn't miss rattlesnakes."

Ben Boone said this so gravely that Rupert could not forbear laughing.

"Nor I," he said. "I am willing that Colorado should keep all her
rattlesnakes."

Ben Boone, for a wonder, lay awake beyond his usual time. He could not
get New York and its wonders out of his head. The more he thought of it
the more he longed to see it.

And there wasn't so much time, either. He was forty-nine years old, and
yet he had never been on the other side of the Mississippi River. Yet
here was Rupert, who couldn't be more than sixteen or seventeen years
old, who had actually lived in New York, and now had wandered to the far
West and seen that also. If a boy could have those happy experiences,
why not he?

Why not?

The question was easily answered. The difference between them was
money. He didn't know how much money Rupert had, but probably he had
more than the sum necessary to carry him to New York. Ben felt that it
was not fair that a mere boy should have so much and he so little.

This was a dangerous path of thought, and led to a strong temptation.
This temptation was increased when, waking at an early hour, he looked
across at Rupert, lying not many yards away, and noticed that his
pocketbook had in some way dropped out of his pocket and was lying on
the grass beside him.

Ben's eyes sparkled with unholy excitement. An eager curiosity assailed
him to learn how much money the pocketbook contained. It was a
temptation which he did not seem able to resist.

He looked over towards Rupert again. The boy was sleeping calmly,
peacefully. There was little chance that he would wake up.

Ben rose cautiously from his couch, and with a stealthy step he made his
way to the sleeping boy.

He stooped down and picked up the wallet and then opened it, peering
eagerly at the contents.

There was a thick roll of bills. He counted them in a quick, stealthy
way, and his heart beat with excitement when he ascertained that the
roll contained eighty-one dollars.

"Why, that will take me to New York," he thought.

Yes, it would take him to New York. There would be no weary waiting, no
probable disappointment in the end. The dream of his life might be
realized, and at once.

Ben was not naturally dishonest. If he had not had a special use for the
money it would not have tempted him. But he wanted to go to New York,
and the temptation seemed too great for him to resist.

His resolution was taken. With one backward glance at the sleeping boy
he thrust the wallet into his pocket and started for the river, where
the skiff awaited him.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

RUPERT'S PREDICAMENT.


Rupert did not wake till later than usual. The previous day had been
unusually fatiguing and nature had asserted her rights.

He turned over and mechanically looked over to where his companion lay
at the time he went to sleep. He was a little surprised to find that he
was not visible. Usually Boone slumbered till Rupert went over and waked
him up.

"Ben has gone to take a walk," he said to himself. "It must be later
than usual."

He looked at his watch and found that it was eight o'clock.

"Well, I did oversleep myself," he said, as he rose to his feet. "No
wonder Boone got the start of me."

Upon reflection he decided that Ben had probably gone down to the boat,
which was tied to a small tree on the river bank not more than five
minutes' walk distant. He turned his steps in that direction. When he
reached the place where the skiff was fastened, a surprise awaited him.

The boat was not there!

Still he had not the faintest suspicion that his guide had played him
false and deserted him in the wilderness.

"Ben must have taken a row himself," he decided. "It is rather strange,
for he isn't generally enterprising enough for that. He must have had a
headache or something that prevented his sleeping. Well, I might as well
take breakfast."

There was something left from supper of the night before. Rupert ate
this with a hearty relish. He did not stop to make any hot coffee. Ben
usually attended to this duty, and he was likely to appear at any
moment.

"I will wait for Ben to come," Rupert said to himself. "I hope he hasn't
gone very far."

After eating he lay back on the ground, for he still felt a little
tired.

"It seems odd to be alone," he reflected.

He had not formed any particular attachment to Ben Boone, but he had a
certain satisfaction in his companionship. They had become closely
acquainted, and though Ben was not especially sociable, they had had
some long talks together, so that Rupert felt a certain interest in his
rough companion.

Half an hour passed, and Rupert began to feel impatient, as well as
solitary.

"Why doesn't Ben come?" he asked himself. "It is very strange that he
should go away so early and stay away so long."

As this thought came to him he happened to put his hand into the pocket
where he usually kept his money.

The pocket was empty.

A suspicion for the first time dawned upon him that startled and alarmed
him. He made a hurried examination of the ground around him, for he knew
that it was possible that the pocketbook had slipped out of his pocket.

But his search was fruitless. The pocketbook was nowhere to be seen.

Was it possible, he asked himself, that he had been robbed? Was Ben
capable of such black treachery?

The thought that his companion had proved false disturbed him more at
first than the sense of his loss, but he began almost immediately to
realize his predicament.

Probably he was a hundred miles away from the ranch of his friend Giles
Packard. Not only this, but he was without money and without provisions,
except the small supply of food which remained over from his frugal
breakfast.

Then, again, he was without a boat, for the skiff had been carried away
by Ben. He was alone in a wilderness.

There were very few houses within the distance over which they had
traveled. If he had been in any portion of the Eastern States, among
settlements and villages, he would not have minded his destitute
condition--that is, not so much. He would have felt sure of getting
along somehow. But as it was, there was no one to appeal to. There was
no one to lend him a helping hand.

If only Ben had left him the boat, matters would not have been so bad.
He would, of course, have instantly started on his return. He didn't
feel at all tempted to explore farther. The fine mountain scenery which
he had enjoyed yesterday had no attraction for him now.

"I'd give fifty dollars--if I had it"--he added, as the thought came to
him that he had no money whatever, "to be back with Giles Packard on his
ranch. Shall I ever see him again, or am I doomed to starve to death in
this wilderness?"



CHAPTER XXXV.

RUPERT MAKES A DISCOVERY.


It was not easy for Rupert to form plans in his present destitute
condition. The money which he had lost was a minor consideration. The
boat and provisions were much more important.

Besides this, he still had his gun and his watch. Both these were likely
to prove useful.

He wondered a little why Ben had not taken the watch. But his wonder
diminished when he remembered that Boone had told him one day that he
had never owned a watch.

"How, then, do you tell time?" Rupert inquired.

"By the sun," answered Ben.

Rupert had tested him more than once, and found that from long and close
observation his guide could always guess within a few minutes of the
correct time. To Ben the watch had no value, and it didn't occur to him
that he might raise money on it when he reached the settlements.

Rupert felt that he must lose no time in forming some plan of reaching
the point from which he started. He went down to the river, faintly
hoping that he might see Ben returning in the skiff, but this he owned
to himself was extremely improbable.

Ben was ten, perhaps fifteen miles on the way back. What his object
could have been in playing him such a dastardly trick, or what possible
excuse he could make to Giles Packard for returning alone, Rupert could
not conjecture.

He took it for granted that Boone would go back to his old home at Red
Gulch. He did not dream of his plan of going to New York. If he had,
this would have explained his sudden defection.

Rupert stood on the shore of the river and looked up the stream.
Everything was calm and placid, and lonely. At the East he would have
seen houses, on the banks and passing boats, but here he found himself
alone with nature.

Without thinking especially what he was doing, he started to walk up
stream, that is, along the river bank in an easterly direction.

"If I could only come across a boat," he soliloquized, "no matter how
poor, I should think it a piece of great luck."

But it was too great luck for him. Still he kept on walking and looking
about him, but he not only saw no boat, but no indication of any human
presence.

He had walked quite five miles, as he judged from the passage of time,
when at last he made a discovery. Moored to the bank was a dismantled
raft, if such an expression is allowable. Rupert remembered now that on
their trip down the river Boone had called his attention to it, saying:
"It must have been left there by some party of travelers."

Rupert little thought how serviceable this would prove to him.

His eyes lighted up with joy, for he hailed the finding of the raft as a
good omen, and foresaw how important it would prove to him.

"But was it in a condition for use?"

That was the important question.

Rupert bent down and examined it critically. The boards were still
pretty firm, though water-soaked, and seemed to be securely fastened
together. The rope that fastened it to the small sapling on the bank was
quite rotten, and it was a wonder that it had not parted.

Rupert pulled on it to see how secure it was, and it broke. This,
however, was of little consequence. He selected a long stick to serve as
an oar, and getting on the raft, pushed out into the stream.

The stick, however, made a very poor substitute for an oar. Still he
found that it was of some use.

But just as he was starting he discovered, almost covered with
underbrush, the paddle which had probably been used by the parties who
had constructed and used the raft. This worked tolerably well, and he
was glad to have found it.

At last he was ready, and started on his journey. He found his progress
slow, and his task toilsome. Still he was making progress, and that was
encouraging.

How rapid this progress he could only conjecture. It might be two miles
an hour; probably it was not more than that, and he was obliged to
confess with a sinking of the heart that it would take a very long time
at this rate before he would get back.

He had tugged away possibly three hours, when his strength began to give
out. He began to feel faint and hungry, especially as his breakfast had
not been very satisfying.

Then, for the first time, with a sinking heart, he realized that he had
made a serious blunder. What few provisions were left after breakfast he
had left behind him, and he was absolutely without a mouthful to eat.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

A LUCKY ENCOUNTER.


Unsatisfied hunger is always a serious discomfort. What it was to a
young, healthy boy like Rupert, who had been working hard for several
hours, may be imagined.

Even if there had been a prospect of his dining in two or three hours,
it would have been inconvenient, but he could have endured it. As it
was, he did not know when he could satisfy his appetite, if at all.

He discovered in his pockets some silver change which Ben hadn't taken,
but that could do him no good in the Colorado wilderness.

Rupert was in general sanguine and light-hearted. But it must be owned
that he felt terribly depressed about this time. He had his gun with
him, but even if he should succeed in shooting anything, how could he
cook it? He had not even a match with which to light a fire.

Was he destined to starve in this out of the way region? he asked
himself. A hundred miles off he had a rich friend. In New York he owned
two valuable lots and had money in the bank besides, but neither of
these could do him any good now.

The French speak of an uncomfortable quarter of an hour. Rupert had two
hours at least that could be described in this way. All this while,
faint as he was and tired as his exertions on an empty stomach had made
him, he still paddled on. At last, to his great joy, there came light in
the darkness. As the raft turned a corner in the windings of the river
he saw on the bank, curiously regarding him, a tall, thin,
dark-complexioned girl, in a calico dress too short for her.

A new hope was born in Rupert's heart? and he stopped paddling.

"Do you live around here?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the girl.

"Could I buy some food at your house?"

"Don't know. I reckon so."

"Then I'll stop, and you can show me the way to your house."

"Where did you come from?"

"From below--about ten miles down the river."

"Is that where you live?"

"No. I live in New York."

"Where is that? Is it in Colorado?"

"Didn't you ever hear of New York?" asked Rupert, in genuine surprise at
the ignorance of his new acquaintance.

"No."

"It's a large city."

The girl seemed to take very little interest in the information he gave
her.

"Did you always live here?" asked Rupert, becoming himself the
questioner.

"Reckon so."

By this time Rupert had brought the raft to shore and tied it to a
stump. He obtained a nearer view of the girl, but did not find her
attractive.

She was tall, thin, and had a sallow complexion. Her dress hung straight
down. Moreover, it was not clean. The girl eyed him attentively, and
didn't seem in the least bashful. She seemed to arrive at a decision in
regard to him.

"Say, you're good-lookin'," she said, in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Do you think so?" returned Rupert, blushing.

"Yes. How old be you?"

"Seventeen."

"I'm fourteen. If you lived round here I'd take you for my beau."

"But I don't live round here," said Rupert, with an air of relief. "What
is your name?" he asked, with a sudden thought.

"Sal. That's what mam calls me. What's yours?"

"Rupert."

"That's a mighty cur'us name. Never heard it afore."

"I don't think it is a common name."

"You jest come along, if you want some dinner. You said you'd pay for
it, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Then I guess mam will give you some."

"Do you live far off?" asked Rupert, anxiously.

"No. Jest in the woods a little way."

Rupert followed the girl for about a quarter of a mile. Then, in a
little clearing, he saw a rude cabin--just such a house as he fancied
Sal would live in.

"That's our house, and there's mam at the door," said his young guide.

A tall, thin woman, between whom and Sal there was considerable
resemblance, not only in appearance but in dress, stood in the doorway,
shading her eyes with her hand as she looked down the path.

"She's lookin' for me," explained Sal, with a grin.

"Here you, Sal!" called her mother. "Where've you been gallivantin' to?"

Then she stopped short, for she caught sight of Rupert.

"Who've you got with you?" she asked, abruptly.

"A boy," answered Sal. "Ain't he nice lookin'?"

Rupert blushed again, as most of my boy readers would probably have
done under like circumstances.

"No matter how he looks," said the mother, sharply. "What does he want
here?"

"He wants somethin' to eat, and he's got money to pay for it," answered
Sal.

"I am very hungry, madam," said Rupert, taking off his hat. "I shall
consider it a great favor if you will give me some dinner."

"I reckon I kin scare up something," said the woman, more amiably. "Jest
come in."

Rupert entered the cabin. It was rudely and scantily furnished, but
doubtless the occupants enjoyed it as much as a New York millionaire
enjoys his elegant mansion on Fifth Avenue. There was a fire in the
cooking-stove, and in a pantry Rupert noticed some cold remnants of the
noonday meal.

"Sit down," said the woman. "I'll scare you up something in a jiffy."

"I'll sit down outside, if you don't mind," answered Rupert.

He sat down on a settee on one side of the door. Soon the odor of some
meat which was being fried assailed his nostrils, and gave him the
keenest delight.

In about twenty minutes Sal called him in, and he was glad to accept her
rather unceremonious invitation.

On the table was a dish of meat. He didn't know what kind it was, but it
smelled good. On another plate was some corn bread, but no butter was
provided.

"We ain't got no whiskey," said the woman. "We're sort o' run out, but I
can give you some tea."

"That will do just as well, madam."

Rupert might have said that it would do better, but he saw that the
family were not prohibitionists and might take offense if he spoke
against the use of whiskey.

Rupert had seldom enjoyed a meal more than the one he sat down to in
that rude cabin.

"What kind of meat is this?" he asked.

"Bear meat. Didn't you ever eat any?"

"No, madam."

"We reckon it's good. My man killed the bear."

"It is excellent," said Rupert, and he really meant what he said.

"I'm glad you like it."

Rupert ate till he was ashamed. He had not asked the price of the meal
in advance, for he was fully resolved to eat it, even if it took every
cent he had left to pay for it. But when at last he laid down his knife
and fork he summoned courage to ask how much he must pay.

"I reckon a quarter'll do," said the woman.

Rupert breathed a sigh of relief. It not only came within his means, but
he would have fifty cents left after paying.

Then the woman began to ask questions.

"Where mought you be goin'?" she asked.

Rupert mentioned his destination.

"How far away is that?"

"Nearly a hundred miles."

"Are you travelin' alone?"

"I had a man with me till this morning."

"Where is he now?"

"He got up early, robbed me of all my money and ran off, taking the boat
with him," Rupert answered in indignant tones.

"If he took all your money, how are you goin' to pay for your dinner?"
asked the woman, frowning.

"I have a little money left in silver," said Rupert, producing the
quarter.

"How are you goin' to get back?"

"I don't know. I have no money, and only a raft."

Then an idea came to him.

"If I could find a man who would go back with me, I would pay him well."

"But you have no money."

"Mr. Packard, of Red Gulch, is my friend. He is a rich man and he would
pay for me."

"Do you mean Giles Packard?"

"Yes."

"I know about him. He is rich. Is he your friend?"

"Yes."

Rupert followed up his advantage.

"If I could find a man who would take me to him I would promise him
fifty dollars--and this gun."

The woman's eyes showed her interest. She was fond of money, and fifty
dollars seemed to her a large sum.

"I reckon my man would go along with you," she said slowly. "The fifty
dollars would be sure?"

"Yes, and if I was satisfied with him, I would give him ten dollars
more."

"Mam," said Sal, "you'd better say yes. We'll all be rich if dad gets
sixty dollars."

"When will your husband be home?" asked Rupert, becoming hopeful.

"I reckon he'll be home directly--if you kin wait."

"Oh, yes, I can wait. Has he got a boat?"

"He has a canoe."

"That will do just as well."

"And will you give me the raft?" asked Sal. "You won't want it."

"Yes, you shall have the raft."

Sal was so delighted that she threw her arms round Rupert's neck and
kissed him, much to his confusion.

"Quit that, you Sal. Ain't you got no manners?" said her mother,
sharply. "There's your dad comin' now."

Rupert raised his flushed face, and was indescribably astonished when a
tall Indian entered the cabin.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

AN INDIAN GUIDE.


"Is that your husband?" asked Rupert, in a tone that betrayed his
surprise.

"Yes. What yer gawkin' at? He's enough sight better'n my first husband,
who was a white man. Isn't he, Sal?"

"You bet, mam!"

The Indian, who had an air of natural dignity, seemed pleased with their
tributes to his excellence.

"Yes," continued Sal's mother, "he's my man now. John, this boy wants
you to take him to Giles Packard's ranch."

"It's a long way," said the Indian, slowly.

"Yes, I know that," answered Rupert, "but I am willing to pay you. That
is, I haven't money with me, but Mr. Packard will pay you fifty dollars,
and I will give you my gun besides."

The Indian seemed most impressed with the last part of the offer. He
held out the gun and examined it closely. Then a look of satisfaction
overspread his face, and he said "Good."

"He seems straight, though he's only a boy," remarked the woman. "You'd
better go. Fifty dollars is a good deal of money."

"Gun good," said the Indian, sententiously.

"Yes, but the money is better."

"When you want to go?" asked John.

"You'd better wait till to-morrow morning," put in the woman. "I'll bake
up some bread and fry some bear steak for you to carry."

"That will suit me if you will give me a place to sleep and some
supper," said Rupert.

This was readily agreed to.

One of those best pleased with this arrangement was Sal. She seemed so
impressed with Rupert that the latter was afraid she would kiss him
again, but fortunately she refrained.

She made up her mind, however, to enjoy the boy's companionship, and
challenged him to a trial of speed. Rupert was almost ashamed to
compete with a girl, but he found that Sal was a rival by no means to be
despised. She kept up well with him in a quarter mile run, and in a
running jump she beat him once out of three times.

"You jump very well--for a girl," said Rupert.

"You're taller'n I be, or I'd beat you. Besides, you're older."

"And your mother's older than you. Can she beat you?"

"I'd jump mam out of her boots," said Sal, confidently. "Want to try,
mam?"

"Try what?"

"Jumpin'."

"Oh, quit yer foolin'. A nice sight I'd be, jumpin'. Your dad will jump
with you."

"Yes," said John, smiling gravely.

"Oh, he can beat me, of course."

"Won't you jump, John?" asked Rupert, thinking the Indian looked
desirous of a trial.

"Yes," answered John.

Like most of his race, he was supple and well trained in all athletic
exercises. He jumped three feet farther than Rupert, though the white
boy plumed himself on his agility.

Later Rupert and Sal took a trip down the river on the raft. Sal desired
to do the paddling, and Rupert was obliged to confess that she
understood the art of paddling a raft better than he.

"You gave it to me, didn't you?" she said.

"Yes, Sal, it is yours."

The girl looked pleased.

"I will go out on it a good deal," she said. "Dad doesn't like me to use
his canoe."

"Where does he keep his canoe?"

"Up the river a way. Shall I show you?"

"Yes, if you will."

She kept on paddling till they reached a secluded part of the stream,
where there was a circular indentation in the bank. Here was the
Indian's canoe. It was higher than the skiff in which Rupert had
traveled with Ben Boone, and though as long, was narrower.

"It is a beautiful canoe!" said Rupert, admiringly.

"Isn't it? Dad's proud of it."

"How long has he been married to your mother?"

"'Bout three years."

"You don't mind having an Indian for a father?" asked Rupert, feeling
that he might be on delicate ground.

"No, John's a good man. He never drinks, as my own father did. He's good
to mam. Then he is a good hunter, and brings us plenty of bear's meat."

"Would you be willing to marry an Indian yourself?"

"No, I'd rather marry you," was Sal's disconcerting reply.

"I am not old enough to be married," said Rupert, blushing.

"You will be some day."

"Yes. I shall be some day--if I live."

"Then will you come and marry me?"

This was a leap year proposal with a vengeance. Rupert was hardly
prepared with an answer. He replied diplomatically, "I can't tell yet. I
must ask my mother."

"Mam would be willing I should marry you," said Sal. "Where does your
mother live?"

"Near New York."

"Won't you ask her?"

"Yes," answered Rupert; "but perhaps you will see some one else you will
like better."

"No, I shan't," said Sal, positively. "You are awful handsome."

"Am I?" said Rupert, in rather an embarrassed tone.

"Yes, you've got such nice red cheeks."

Rupert scanned her critically, but he was unable to return the
compliment. Her face was thin and sallow, and the only feature that was
passable was her bright black eyes.

The next morning, when Rupert was ready to start, Sal showed an
inclination to kiss him again, but he hurried off with the Indian, and
escaped this affectionate demonstration.

"You'll come back some time?" said Sal, anxiously, as she looked after
him.

"Yes, some day."

Rupert hoped that before he saw Sal again she would have secured a
husband in her own station in life.

Rupert found the Indian a very satisfactory companion. Compared to Ben
he was silent and reserved, but he was willing to answer questions, and
the young traveler managed to extract considerable information from him.

There was no unnecessary delay. Rupert had no desire to remain longer in
the wilderness. So on the evening of the third day he reached Red Gulch
and sought out his friend Giles Packard.

The cattleman eyed his companion with surprise.

"Where have you left Ben?" he said.

"He left me," answered Rupert, and he told the story of Ben Boone's
treachery.

Giles Packard was very angry.

"The rascal!" he said. "I knew he was lazy and shiftless, but I didn't
think he was a villain. If I could get hold of him he'd find it worse
than being in a bear's clutches. Have you any idea where he went?"

"No; I thought he might have come home."

"He wouldn't dare to come home without you."

"I've got it!" exclaimed Rupert, suddenly.

"What is it?"

"I understand now. He's on his way to New York."

"What do you mean?"

"He asked a great deal about New York, and said he would go there if he
only had money enough. I expect he is using my money for traveling
expenses."

"Where did you pick up your Indian friend?"

Rupert told of the compact he had made with the Indian, and asked Mr.
Packard to lend him money enough to keep it.

"Certainly, lad, and I'd do a great deal more for you, if necessary."

John was paid his money, and received the gun besides as a free gift.
With them he started for home happy and proud.

Rupert might have sent his love to Sal, but he refrained.

"By the way, Rupert," said Giles Packard, "I have two letters for you."

Rupert opened them hastily. The first was from his mother. The important
part ran thus:


     "Mr. Strathmore is sick with pneumonia, and there is little hope
     of his living. Of course this will make it necessary for me and
     Grace to seek a new home. I wish we might all be together again. I
     have been contented, because I knew you were doing well, but I
     should be happier to have you with me. Will you be back soon? I
     will make no arrangements till you return."


The second letter was from Leslie Waters. He wrote:


     "Congratulate me, Rupert! I have at last realized my ambition and
     am to become an actor. I have been engaged to play a part in the
     comedy of 'Fireflies.' You won't get any idea of the piece from the
     title. My part is a very good one. I am to represent a Broadway
     swell. I can't give you any idea of the plot, but I hope some time
     you may be able to see it played. Of course I have resigned my
     position as a bell-boy. We start on the road on Monday, opening at
     Albany, and going thence to Buffalo. I will send you my route as
     soon as I can. Answer this to Cleveland, Ohio."


"I suppose Leslie is happy," thought Rupert. "I hope he will succeed."

"I trust your letters contain good news," said Giles Packard.

"One contains bad news. My mother is about to lose her home, and I am
afraid I must start at once for New York."

"Wait till to-morrow, Rupert, and I will go with you. I have a capable
superintendent who will take my place, and a journey will do me good."

"I shall be delighted to have your company, Mr. Packard."

Giles Packard looked pleased, for the longer he knew Rupert the better
he liked him.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

HOW TO MANAGE A ROGUE.


At the last moment Giles Packard decided to take his uncle, John
Plympton, with him, finding that the old man was reluctant to be left
alone.

"I shall stop on the way at Rochester and see if I can collect Uncle
John's note," he said. "Perhaps I may be more successful than he."

"If you don't mind, Mr. Packard," said Rupert, "I will go on at once to
New York, as I feel anxious about my mother."

"Very well. Go to the Somerset Hotel, and put up as a guest. I shall
follow you soon."

Leaving Rupert to pursue his journey, we will detail the experiences of
Giles and his uncle at Rochester.

"We will put up at a cheap hotel, Uncle John," he said. "I don't want
Eben to suspect that I am well off."

"He wouldn't judge so from your dress, Giles," remarked the old man,
with a humorous glance at his nephew's well-worn suit.

"That is true, Uncle John. I don't look very much like a dude, I admit.
However, I will go to a first-class tailor in New York and get myself
rigged out. While I am about it I will get a new suit for you."

"I need it badly enough, Giles, but having given all my money to Eben
Jackson, I did not feel able to buy new clothes."

"You won't have occasion to complain of being without money long."

"Thank you, Giles. It has been a great relief to me, your purchasing the
note, but I don't want you to lose money."

"I don't intend to. Eben Jackson may swindle you. He will find it harder
to get the advantage of me."

Eben Jackson was standing at the desk in his store when Giles and John
Plympton entered. Eben took no particular notice of the middle-aged and
rather rough-looking stranger, whom he did not recognize, but frowned
perceptibly when he saw John Plympton.

"You here, Uncle John?" he said, roughly.

"Yes," answered the old man, meekly.

"Where have you been?"

"I went to Chicago."

"Didn't you find anything to do there?"

"No."

"Probably you didn't try very hard."

"It wasn't that. They all said I was too old. Chicago is a city of young
men."

"Yes, you have seen your best days," said his nephew, unfeelingly.

"And I suppose I ought not to cumber the ground. Is that what you mean,
Eben?"

"Well, not exactly, but you can't expect that you can find employment as
you used to do."

"Isn't that pretty hard? I am only sixty-five."

"That's old for a man seeking employment."

"What will you do when you are sixty-five?"

"It will be different with me. I have a business of my own."

"I hope you'll be better off than I am at that age."

"I shall. You never had much business capacity."

"I've been thinking, Eben, I'd better take that three thousand dollars
of mine and buy an annuity. At my age I ought to get enough to take care
of me economically."

"I don't see how you're going to do that. I've got your money."

"True, but I should like to have it back."

"You can't have it at present. It would be inconvenient for me to take
it from my business."

"But, Eben, I need it. At any rate you can let me have the interest that
has already accrued."

"I'll see about it."

"But I want money at once."

"Then you can't get it," said the nephew, rudely. "Where are you
staying?"

John Plympton mentioned the name of the hotel.

Eben Jackson turned up his nose. This was distinctly a third-class
house, charging one dollar and a quarter a day.

"You'd better go to a cheap boarding-house. You needn't expect me to pay
your hotel bill."

"I have a right to expect you will give me enough of my own money to pay
the bill."

"I won't encourage you in any such ridiculous extravagance, Uncle John."

"Perhaps you think it is extravagant in me to eat at all."

"I think it is extravagant to pay a dollar and a quarter a day for
board. Who is that man with you?"

On hearing this, Giles Packard came forward.

"You ought to know me, Eben," he said.

Eben Jackson took stock of the cattleman's shabby clothes, and answered,
coldly, "You have the advantage of me, sir."

"Then you don't remember your cousin, Giles Packard?"

"Are you Giles Packard? I didn't know but you were dead."

"No, thank you, not just yet."

"Where have you been living?"

"In Colorado."

"Have you met with any success? What business have you followed?"

"I have been in the cattle business."

"Oh, a cowboy?" sneered Eben.

"If you choose to call me so."

"Why didn't you stay in Colorado? Why have you come East?"

"I thought I should enjoy a vacation."

"But traveling costs money."

"So it does. Uncle John tells me you have three thousand dollars of
his."

Eben Jackson frowned.

"Yes," he said, "I am taking care of his money for him."

"As he can't find employment, he will need to have it returned."

"That can't be done. He has my note for it."

"Yes. I have seen the note. I observe that it is made out 'On demand.'"

"Well?"

"That means that he can call for it at any time."

"I shall pay it when I get ready," said Eben, haughtily.

"It may be wise for you to get ready very soon."

"Oh, you threaten, do you? That is all the good it will do you."

To Eben Jackson's surprise Giles Packard took the matter very coolly. He
even smiled.

"I suspect you will change your mind," he said.

"I understand your drift. You want to get hold of Uncle John's money
yourself."

"Perhaps so. Uncle John, are you willing that I should take charge of
your money?"

"Yes, Giles."

"Ah, a very nice conspiracy. Uncle John, you are a fool."

"Why?" asked the old man, mildly.

"This man has made a failure of his life, and is as poor as poverty,
judging from his appearance. He has got up a nice scheme for depriving
you of your money. If he got hold of it you would never see a cent of
it. He is evidently an adventurer."

"Then you won't give me my money?"

"No. I shall keep it in your own interest. Why, if you gave it to him
you would be a pauper in less than a year."

Giles Packard did not seem in the least irritated by his cousin's
uncomplimentary remarks.

Turning to John Plympton, he said: "I think we may as well go, Uncle
John."

"I am glad you realize that," observed Jackson. "Before you go, let me
say that your scheme has utterly failed."

"My scheme of getting you to return Uncle John his money?"

"Your plan of getting his money into your own possession."

"Call it as you like. You will hear from us very soon."

"Is that meant as a threat?"

"Well, perhaps so."

"Go ahead. Take what measures you choose. It is immaterial to me."

"What did I tell you, Giles?" said John Plympton, as they left the
store.

"Eben Jackson is meaner than I supposed. We will give him a little
surprise."

"Before night Eben Jackson received the following letter from the
leading lawyer in Rochester:


     "SIR--

     "My client, Mr. Giles Packard, has placed in my hands for
     collection a demand note for three thousand dollars, signed by
     yourself, transferred to him by John Plympton. Will you arrange to
     pay it? If not, I am instructed by my client to sue.

     "Yours respectfully,
     "EDWARD NETTLETON, Att'y."


This was like a bomb in the camp of the enemy. Mr. Nettleton was a sharp
and successful lawyer, and to be feared. He was steep in his charges,
and Eben felt that his cousin was a fool to employ so high-priced an
attorney.

He lost no time in seeking the humble hotel where his uncle and cousin
were domiciled.

"What does all this mean?" he demanded, angrily.

"What do you refer to?"

"To Mr. Nettleton's letter."

"It means that I am going to have my uncle's money," said Giles, firmly.

"Your lawyer will charge you an immense fee. Better let the matter
drop."

"Eben Jackson, I'll make you pay that money if it costs me five thousand
dollars for expenses."

"Ridiculous! Why, you are almost a pauper."

"I hope not. When I left Colorado I was worth nearly a hundred thousand
dollars. I don't think I have lost any money since."

"Is this true?" gasped Jackson.

"It is. You thought me poor, because I was poorly dressed. You were
mistaken. I am what is called a rich man. I am unmarried, but after the
way you have treated me, you can judge what chances you have of being
remembered in my will."

"It is all a mistake, Cousin Giles," said Eben, in a conciliatory tone.
"I'll pay the money, and I hope you and Uncle John will do me the favor
of staying at my house while you are in Rochester."

Giles Packard smiled grimly.

"We shall start for New York to-morrow," he said, "and it won't be
advisable for us to leave the hotel. I shall leave the note in Mr.
Nettleton's hands, and I will give you a month in which to pay it."

"Thank you. Won't you call at the house? Mary will be glad to see you,
and I want to show you the children."

"Yes, we will call."

Giles Packard smiled when his cousin left the hotel.

"Eben seems to have changed," he said. "I think we shan't have any more
trouble with him."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

NEW PLANS.


When Rupert entered the Somerset Hotel on his return from the West he
received a cordial welcome from Mr. Malcolm, the clerk.

"I hope you have had a pleasant journey," he said.

"Very pleasant, on the whole."

"And do you want your old place again?"

"No," answered Rupert. "I hope to go into some other line of business."

"I'm glad for one reason. I have taken a very good boy in your
place--David Williams--and I would not like to discharge him."

"I hear Leslie has left you also."

"Yes. He has gone on the stage, I believe," said the clerk, smiling.
"Have you any plans in that direction?"

"No; I couldn't make as much as the wages you were paying me."

"I doubt if Leslie will find the change to his advantage."

"Whom have you in his place?"

"A boy named Bernard Benton. He is also a good boy. By the way, a letter
came for you yesterday. Here it is."

Rupert supposed the letter might be from his mother, but on reading the
address he found that it was in a business hand. He opened the envelope
and read as follows.


     "MR. RUPERT ROLLINS--

     "DEAR SIR: I learn that you are the owner of two lots on One
     Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, in Harlem. I should like to buy
     them, and am willing to pay you seven thousand dollars for the two.

     "Yours truly,
     "ALBERT CROSSMAN."


Rupert read the letter with mingled pleasure and surprise. The lots had
cost but one thousand dollars each. That they should have increased in
value to such an extent was hardly credible.

He did not feel like deciding the matter until he had a chance to
consult with Mr. Packard, and he so wrote Mr. Crossman. Now that his
mother had lost her position he felt that this stroke of good luck was
particularly timely.

He went out in the afternoon to see his mother and Grace. He found that
Mr. Strathmore was dead, and that his funeral had taken place.

"I don't know what we shall do, Rupert," said Mrs. Rollins anxiously.
"It may be some time before I can obtain another position where I can
support myself and Grace. However, I have saved seventy-five dollars, so
that for a time I shall not be a burden upon you."

"Don't talk of being a burden, mother. You never can be that."

"But how can your small earnings support three persons?"

"You forget, mother, that I have property."

"To what do you refer, Rupert?"

"To the two lots Mr. Packard gave me."

"I had not supposed them of much value."

"I have an offer of seven thousand dollars for them."

"Is it possible?" asked Mrs. Rollins in amazement.

"It is quite possible. I don't think we are in any immediate danger of
the poorhouse. When shall you be ready to come to New York?"

"Whenever I have a home provided; but you remember that I sold my
furniture when I accepted the position with Mr. Strathmore."

"I have already looked at a furnished flat on West Nineteenth Street. It
is but twenty dollars a month, and will make you a pleasant home."

"But isn't that a high rent to pay?"

"Not in our present circumstances. However, I will wait till Mr. Packard
reaches the city, and consult with him. I expect him in a day or two."

"Will the proprietor of the Somerset Hotel receive you back as a
bell-boy?"

"He would, but I have declined the place."

"But you will have to do something, Rupert."

Rupert smiled.

"Don't feel anxious, mother," he said, "Mr. Packard is a rich man, and
he is a faithful friend. I think he will arrange something for me."

The next day Mr. Packard and his uncle, John Plympton, reached New York
and established themselves at the Somerset Hotel. Rupert learned with
satisfaction of Mr. Plympton's recovery of his money from his knavish
nephew.

"And now, Rupert," said the cattleman, "tell me about your own affairs."

"First, I have received an offer of seven thousand dollars for the two
lots you gave me."

"That is fine. They have gone up surprisingly."

"Would you advise me to sell them?"

"Yes. Sell them and invest half the money in other lots less desirably
situated. It is only a question of time when they, too, can be sold to
advantage."

"And the other half of the money?"

"Invest in good bank stock or Government bonds, where they will yield an
income."

"I am sure that is good advice."

"How about your mother?"

"The gentleman for whom she acted as housekeeper is dead, and she must
seek a new home. I have looked at a furnished flat in West Nineteenth
Street, renting at twenty dollars a month."

"I have another plan to propose. I have got tired of living in Colorado,
though I shall retain my business interests there. I want to have a home
for my uncle and myself here. I shall hire a moderate-sized house, and
run it myself, and engage your mother to take charge of it, if she
should be willing."

"Nothing would please her better, Mr. Packard," said Rupert, earnestly.

"As it may take me a little time to make the necessary arrangements,
send for your mother and let her make a temporary home at this hotel. I
will defray the expenses."

"You are very kind, Mr. Packard."

"Well, who has a better right? I have a great mind to adopt you, young
man."

"I shan't make any violent opposition, Mr. Packard. But what will your
nephew in Rochester say?"

"Of course Eben won't like it, but I claim a right to do what I like
with my own. I shall not disinherit his family wholly, but what I leave
to them will be so tied up that Eben can't get at it. It is amusing, the
change that came over him when he learned that I was not a destitute
cowboy, but a man of property."

The next day Mrs. Rollins was installed at the hotel, and Mr. Packard
began to look around for a house such as he desired.

"There shall be a nice room for you, Uncle John," he said. "I will
promise to treat you as well as Eben did."

"I can pay for my board, Giles. I don't want to cost you too much."

"You will pay for your board when I send in a bill. Don't trouble
yourself till then."

"But I am able to work, Giles."

"I may find some light work for you, Uncle John, just to keep you from
being uneasy."

Mr. Packard was a man of promptness and energy. He visited a real estate
agent, and soon made choice of a medium-sized house in a good
neighborhood. This he furnished plainly and quickly, for there is no
need of delay where means are abundant. Inside of a month the little
family were comfortably established in their new home.

"Will there be room for Fred, my little ward?" asked Rupert.

"Certainly. It will be pleasant to have a young child in the house."

Rupert had one apprehension. He feared that his friends, the Bentons,
would miss the sum he paid for the little boy's board. But Mrs. Benton
set him at ease.

"An old schoolmate of my husband, who is in a business position on Pearl
Street, would like to board with us," she said, "and is able and willing
to pay a liberal sum. I feared at first that he would not be satisfied
with our modest quarters, but he says he wants a home, not a stylish
boarding-house, so he will be content."

"Then you won't be inconvenienced by losing Fred's board?"

"No, but we shall miss the dear child's company. You must let him come
to see us sometimes."

"Certainly I will, and we shall always be glad to see you as a visitor.
Does Mr. Benton still find his place on Grand Street agreeable and
satisfactory?"

"Yes. He seems to stand high in the estimation of his employer."

Little Fred at first was sorry to leave Mrs. Benton, but soon formed an
attachment for Mrs. Rollins and Grace.

"Since he is your adopted son, Rupert," said his mother, "I suppose I
may look upon him as my grandson."

"By adoption, mother," said Rupert, with a smile.

"Now, Mr. Packard, what do you advise me to do?" asked Rupert.

"Spend at least six months in study. Go to some commercial college, and
when you have completed your course of instruction I shall be ready with
some plan for you."



CHAPTER XL.

CONCLUSION.


Rupert was walking down Broadway some two months later when he came
unexpectedly upon Julian Lorimer.

Julian was swinging a light cane, and wore a "stunning" necktie. He
glanced superciliously at Rupert, and was about to pass without
recognition, but curiosity overcame pride, and he called out,

"Halloo, Rollins!"

"Halloo, Lorimer!" answered Rupert.

Julian frowned slightly. It was all very well for him to say "Rollins,"
but he expected Rupert to say "Mr. Lorimer."

"I haven't seen you for some time," he said. "Are you still a bell-boy?"

"No."

"Got sacked, eh?"

"I sacked myself."

"What are you doing, then?"

"Going to a commercial school."

Julian looked surprised.

"Who pays your expenses if you are earning nothing?"

"I pay my own bills, thank you."

"It's very foolish for you to give up work. You will spend all your
money, and what will you do then?"

"Perhaps apply to your father for a situation," said Rupert, smiling.

"I don't think he needs any cash-boys at present.

"Are you working?"

"Yes, I am with Ward & Weston, Wall Street brokers."

"I hope you like it."

"I do. When I am twenty-one pop will buy me a seat on the brokers'
board, and I will go in for myself."

"I wish you success, Julian."

"You are very kind," said Julian, ironically. "I guess there's no doubt
of that. We have a great many influential friends. I go into the best
society," he added, pompously.

"You must enjoy it."

"I do. A week from this evening I am to attend a party at the house of
Albert Fraser. His father is a rich merchant in the China trade."

Rupert's face lighted up with amusement.

Albert Fraser was his most intimate friend, being a student at the same
commercial college, and he, too, had received an invitation to the
party.

"Julian will be astonished to see me there," he thought.

"Is Albert Fraser a nice fellow?" he asked, demurely.

"First class."

"I wish you would introduce me to him, Julian."

"You!" said Julian, contemptuously. "Didn't you hear me say that his
father was a wealthy merchant?"

"Yes."

"I shouldn't feel at liberty to introduce you," said Julian, haughtily.

"Why not?"

"Because there is a great difference between a boy in his position and
one in yours."

"I don't see why."

"Aren't you an ex-bell-boy?"

"Yes."

"That's enough."

"For all that, I think Albert Fraser and I will some time be friends."

"You are foolish. Bell-boys and bootblacks don't associate with
gentlemen's sons."

"Yet I associate with you, Julian."

"I look upon you as an humble acquaintance."

"Then I suppose I ought to feel complimented by your condescending to
notice me."

"I think I must leave you, as I have an engagement."

"Very well. I will meet you at Albert Fraser's party."

"I suppose that is meant for a joke. It isn't a very good one."

When the evening of the party came, Julian got himself up regardless of
expense. He had never before attended a party on Madison Avenue, and he
was particular about his appearance.

Entering the house, he was directed to the gentlemen's dressing-room.

What was his surprise--it might almost be called dismay--to find Rupert
Rollins arranging his toilet before the mirror.

"Good evening, Julian!" said Rupert, half turning.

"What are you doing here?" demanded Julian abruptly.

"Getting ready to go down stairs. Shall I wait for you?"

"But what calls you to this house, any way?"

"An invitation! Didn't I tell you that I would meet you here this
evening?"

"Do you mean to tell me that you know Albert Fraser?"

"Certainly. Shall I wait for you?"

"No."

Rupert smiled and went down stairs by himself. He was talking with
Albert Fraser when Julian entered. The latter half drew back when he saw
the two boys together. He had tried to persuade himself that Rupert was
an unauthorized intruder.

"Good evening," he said with a ceremonious bow.

"Good evening," responded Albert.

Rupert bowed slightly, smiling as he did so.

"Ha! are you two acquainted?"

"Yes," answered Julian superciliously. "I knew Mr. Rollins when he was a
bell-boy at the Somerset Hotel."

"And I knew Mr. Lorimer years before that, when his father and my father
were partners in Buffalo."

Albert Fraser looked from one to the other and smiled at Julian's angry
confusion.

"Rupert," he said, "let me take you up to my sister and introduce you.
The grand march will soon begin."

"Thank you, Albert."

Rupert and Edith Fraser led the march, while Julian followed
considerably behind, with a fat, red-headed girl of very limited
attractions.

It was hard upon poor Julian, and his enjoyment was quite taken away by
the social success of his quondam friend Rupert. Rupert, on the other
hand, enjoyed himself immensely, and was treated very graciously by his
fair partner.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Six months later Mr. Packard called Rupert aside. He was evidently
nervous and ill at ease.

"Rupert," he said, "I am going to ask your advice."

"If you think my advice worth asking, I shall be glad to give it."

"I want you to be plain with me, Rupert Do you think I am too old to be
married?"

"Certainly not, Mr. Packard."

"I am forty-five, and I never was very good-looking."

"You are a good, kind-hearted man, and any woman ought to be happy with
you. But I didn't know you had made many lady acquaintances."

"I haven't, but there is one lady I should like to marry. I may as well
come out with it, Rupert. Do you think your mother would marry me?
But--I see you look surprised. I suppose I am a great fool."

"You mistake me, Mr. Packard. I am surprised, for the idea never
entered my head before."

"I suppose you wouldn't like the idea," said Giles Packard nervously.

"On the contrary, I approve it. Of course I don't know how mother may
look upon it."

"But you don't object to it?"

"No, Mr. Packard, I wish you success."

Mrs. Rollins was surprised to receive an offer of marriage from Mr.
Packard, but she had learned to know his many good qualities and was
grateful to him for his kindness to Rupert, and after a brief time for
consideration she gave her consent.

There was little change in their way of living, but of course there was
an end of pecuniary cares and anxiety for the future.

Mr. Packard decided to go into business in New York on his own account.
Rupert is his confidential clerk, and has a handsome salary. Mr.
Packard's natural shrewdness has made his venture a success from the
start He sold out his Colorado cattle ranch on very favorable terms to
two parties from the East, and now his time is exclusively employed in
his New York business.

Some time since the _Evening World_ contained the following
announcement:


     "Mr. Stephen Lorimer, the well-known dry-goods merchant of Third
     Avenue, is reported in difficulties. A meeting of his creditors has
     been called, but so serious are his embarrassments that it is
     doubted whether he will be permitted to go on."


This prediction was verified. Mr. Lorimer now occupies a position as
salesman in a dry-goods house in Chicago, not being willing to fill such
a place in any city where he had been in business for himself, and is
obliged to live in a very plain way.

There was little sympathy felt for him by those who had been in his
employ. He had done nothing to win their favor. But Julian is very
discontented. He is working in an office at four dollars a week, and
feels that life is not worth living under his altered circumstances.

Rupert's real estate has increased largely in value, and he is worth
quite a competency in his own right. His young charge, Fred, has
developed a taste for study, and Rupert intends to have him prepare for
college.

"You ought to have gone to college yourself," said Mr. Packard.

"No," answered Rupert. "I am cut out for business. Fred must be the
scholar, and I will be the business man."

Frank Sylvester, Rupert's first friend, has returned from Europe, and
the friendship between them has been renewed. Though Rupert has been so
prosperous, he is never ashamed to refer to the time when he was a
bell-boy.

Nor does he forget his old friends. Recently he met Leslie Waters
standing in front of the Coleman House looking seedy and dilapidated.

"How is the world using you, Leslie?" he asked.

"Badly, my dear boy," answered Leslie, mournfully. "Our company was
stranded at Pittsburg and I had to walk all the way to New York. The
profession isn't what it was."

"Then why not leave it? I think I can get you a business position."

But Leslie Waters was too much enamored of the stage to forsake it.
When he is in hard luck Rupert always helps him, and he still works on,
hoping some day to achieve eminence. But the prospect does not look
encouraging.





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