Come to the hotel

A month later North’s circus had come as far on its Eastern trip as
Syracuse. Robert Rudd was still with it, and again was employed in
his old business of riding. The young rider regularly employed was
sick, and feeling that his ankle had become strong enough, Robert had
volunteered to take his place.

It so happened that Fitzgerald found himself in Syracuse at this
time. Fortune had smiled upon him. He had carried the fifty dollars
he received from Hugo Richmond to the gaming-table, and contrary to
the usual fortune in such cases had won steadily till he had a fund of
ten times the amount. Ordinarily he would have kept on, but now he had
a definite object in view, and this was to revenge himself upon his
faithless employer.

“Why was I such a fool as to harm the boy?” he had asked himself more
than once. “The cunning villain schemed to get me into his power, and
he has done so. I do not dare to expose him, because in so doing I
should risk my own life. Why did I not send him out of the country
merely, and then claim the reward?”

But the past could not be recalled, and though Fitzgerald heartily
wished the boy alive, he always thought of him as lying dead at the
bottom of a well in a far Western State. His busy brain was trying
to contrive some plan of revenge, when he chanced to see a poster of
North’s circus. Robert’s name was not on the bill, as he was only a
substitute, not the regular rider.

The performance had commenced when Fitzgerald entered.

He looked on with languid indifference till the time came for Robert to
enter the ring.

When Fitzgerald saw the boy, whom he supposed to be dead, riding in
the ring, he was as much startled as if he had seen some one arise
from the dead. Could he be deceived? No. There could be no such close
resemblances between two boys as between the rider and Robert Rudd.

“Yes, it is he!” decided Fitzgerald, and his heart was filled with
gladness. As we know, the gladness had a selfish source, but he was
certainly overjoyed to think that the boy was alive and well.

Robert went through his usual act with his usual grace, and never
suspected that his would-be murderer was looking on.

When the performance was over, Fitzgerald lingered near the tents till
he saw Robert come out. It was rather embarrassing to disclose himself
to the boy, who had so nearly fallen a victim to his violence, but it
must be done.

“Robert! Robert Rudd!” he said, touching the boy on the arm.

Robert turned, and his face became stern when he saw at his side the
man who had tried to murder him.

“You villain!” he said. “How have you the face to show yourself to me?”

“Because,” answered Fitzgerald, “I am prepared to make atonement for
the injury I did you. No one can be more delighted to see you than I.”

“How can I trust you after what has passed?” asked Robert,
suspiciously.

“Don’t trust me till I show myself worthy of trust. I am prepared to do
more for you than any man living.”

“What do you mean?”

“Suppose that I tell you who you are, that I restore you to your
relatives, that I secure for you the inheritance of a large estate,
would you consider that I am making atonement for my offence?”

“Can you do this?” asked Robert, eagerly.

“I can,” answered Fitzgerald.

“What are your terms, for I suppose that you do not work for nothing?”

“I stipulate nothing. When I have succeeded and you come to your own I
will trust to your generosity. If that seems strange to you, I don’t
mind telling you that I have a selfish motive. I wish to revenge myself
upon the man who occupies your place, and whom you will disinherit.”

“Will you give me fuller information?” asked Robert. “Will you let me
know who I am and how I came to lose my home?”

“Yes; I am prepared to tell you all. Come to the hotel where I am
staying, and after you have heard me we will concert together plans for
reinstating you.”

Hugo Richmond was in good spirits. All seemed working in his favor. He
had got rid of Robert, the rightful heir, and escaped paying Fitzgerald
the money he had agreed to pay him. Now his uncle, whose feeble hold on
life had so long kept him from the coveted inheritance, seemed getting
weaker and weaker every day. He was not positively sick, but he was
sad and despondent; his appetite had failed, and he was more thin and
shadowy than ever.

The wicked nephew could hardly conceal his exultation as he looked on
the feeble old man, and calculated how few weeks he probably had to
live.

“Yes,” he said to himself, “Chestnutwood will soon be mine. And
then—then I will take care to be repaid for the slavery of the last
eight years.”

Old Mr. Richmond could not read the nephew’s heart, nor did he suspect
his baseness. He thought him sincerely devoted to his interests.

“A gentleman to see you, sir,” announced the servant, interrupting one
of Hugo’s day dreams.

“Who is it?”

“I don’t know, sir; but I think he has been here before.”

When Hugo entered the drawing-room and saw Fitzgerald, he stopped short
with a frown.

“You here?” he said.

“Yes, I am here,” answered the other proudly.

“You might as well have stayed away. If you think you can levy any
black-mail you are mistaken.”

“I expect nothing of the kind.”

“Probably you don’t want any money?” said Hugo, sneering.

“Not from you,” answered Fitzgerald, eying him steadily.

“You don’t want money?” exclaimed Hugo, in genuine surprise.

“No, though I have no doubt you would be very glad to give me a large
sum.”

“You are quite mistaken. I suspect you are drunk.”

“That is where you are mistaken.”

“What is your object in coming, then? Is this a friendly call?” asked
Hugo, with an evident sneer.

“Well, perhaps it may be so considered; I came to give you a friendly
warning.”

“A warning?”

“Yes.”

“I really can’t conceive how I can need any warning from you. What is
your warning?”

“I warn you to leave the country as soon as it is in your power.”

Hugo laughed scornfully.

“Thank you for nothing,” he said; “why should I leave the country?”

“Because you will otherwise be charged with instigating the murder of
your cousin, known as Robert Rudd.”

“Humph! No one will credit it. Besides, you will have to admit that you
killed him.”

“You are mistaken again. He is not dead.”

“Not dead?” echoed Hugo, turning pale and sinking into a seat.

“No, he is as much alive as you or I, but I am prepared to swear that
you hired me to kill him.”

“Villain! you deceived me!” exclaimed Hugo, furiously.

“I feel less a villain than if I had compassed the boy’s death.”

Hugo reflected a moment. A gulf seemed to open before him, and just
as his uncle was nearing death all his schemes seemed in danger of
failure. This must be prevented at all hazards.

“Fitzgerald!” he said, in an altered tone, “this thing can yet be
arranged. You have gained an advantage over me, I grant, and I am
prepared to make it worth your while to keep this thing hushed up. What
are your terms?”

“Why should I name terms when you have once treacherously gone back on
your word?”

“I will not do so again.”

“Do you want me to kill the boy?”

“No! Let him live, but never let him suspect who he is.”

“And for this you will give me—how much?”

“Five thousand dollars!” answered Hugo, after a brief pause.

“It is a good sum, but your uncle’s property amounts to a quarter of a
million, at least.”

“Nothing like it,” answered Hugo, hurriedly. “Besides, he is likely to
leave a large part to charitable institutions.”

“Not if you can prevent it,” thought Fitzgerald.

“It is useless!” he said aloud. “I am not to be bought.”

“What, then, do you require?” asked Hugo, desperately.

“I require you to leave the country, and acknowledge Robert Rudd as
your cousin.”

“Never!” said Hugo, fiercely.

“Very well!” said Fitzgerald, rising.

“What are you going to do?” asked Hugo, anxiously.

“To leave you to your fate! Within a few hours you will be arrested on
a charge of complicity in an attempted murder.”

“Stay!” exclaimed Hugo, now thoroughly alarmed. “How far has this gone?
Surely you have not revealed anything to Robert Rudd?

“Everything,” answered Fitzgerald, laconically.

“To any one else?”

“Yes, to a lawyer, who is possessed of all the evidence in the case,
and is prepared to communicate all to your uncle!”

“Is this true?” asked Hugo, pale with dismay.

“You can believe it or not. I have only this to say, that you had
better go with me to the hotel where your cousin and his lawyer are now
staying, and assure yourself whether we are in earnest.”

“Suppose I grant your demands and acknowledge the boy?”

“Then you will be suffered to go where you please unharmed.”

“I will go with you.”

Hugo accompanied Fitzgerald to the hotel, had a private interview with
the lawyer, and decided that opposition was useless. He took care,
however, to feather his own nest by appropriating a large amount of
government bonds belonging to his uncle, which, in addition to his
pickings and stealings for eight years past, provided him with a
competency. The theft could not be proved, for he alone had the charge
of his uncle’s affairs. With his ill-gotten gains he sailed for Europe,
where he is now residing.

The joy of Cornelius Richmond when his grandson was restored to him can
be imagined. It seemed to bring him back from the grave and restore
his strength. A tutor was at once engaged to remedy Robert Rudd’s—now
Robert Richmond’s—defective education, and money was actually lavished
upon him by his doting grandfather. But Robert stood the test of
prosperity as he had stood the test of adversity. He remained the same
frank, manly, self-respecting boy, and was not drawn into squandering
his money in policy or dissipation. But he delighted to help those of
his former associates who were unfortunate and needed assistance—for
instance, a trapeze performer, who having fractured a leg by a fall
from the trapeze, was left in want with a wife and four young children
dependent upon his exertions. For months Robert allowed him $10 a week,
and was heartily glad that his grandfather’s liberality allowed him
also to be liberal.

Our hero rejoiced the heart of his old friend Anak by the gift of
a handsome gold watch, and he also remembered others who had been
kind to him. He has sent an invitation to Sidney Grey to visit him
at Chestnutwood, and has requested Squire Grey to transfer the $200
entrusted to him to his son. He had intended to offer a home to Charlie
Davis, his associate rider, but Charlie had already attracted the
attention of a gentleman, who had offered to adopt him at the close of
the present season. My readers may be interested to know that Master
Charlie is this very summer travelling with a circus through the New
England States and Canada. Having lamed his foot, he, too, is engaged
for the time being in selling prize packages and candy, but will
probably retire from professional life in October. Hundreds of the
boys who read this story will probably see him at some time during the
season.

Robert is busily employed in remedying the deficiencies in his
education, and is already entrusted with a large part of the business
connected with the management of his grandfather’s property. From the
latter has been concealed Hugo’s wicked attempt to make away with
Robert, as it would shock the old man and affect him injuriously. But
he seldom inquires for his nephew, to whom he was never much attached.
He is quite content with the company of his grandson. There are few
who know that Robert Richmond, the heir of Chestnut wood, was once

ROBERT RUDD,

THE BOY WONDER!

The Best Bareback Rider in the World.

Continue Reading

FITZGERALD’S DISAPPOINTMENT

The tramp was stout and clumsily made, and although he was strongly
made he was not agile. Moreover, the branch by which Robert had helped
himself upward was over six feet from the ground, and had only been
reached by a leap. The trunk of the tree was large in circumference,
and afforded no facilities for climbing. The efforts of the pursuer,
therefore, were vain.

“Come down!” he shouted, peremptorily.

“I have already said that I am very comfortable here,” answered Robert.

“Do you mean to defy me?”

“I don’t wish to have anything to do with you.”

“I wish I had a pistol!” muttered the tramp. “I’d soon have you down
then.”

Robert was devoutly thankful that he was not provided with such a
weapon. He felt relieved by the discovery, for it had occurred to him
as possible, and in that event he would have had to make a virtue of
necessity and come down.

“Why didn’t I lay hold of the boy when I had him beside me?” thought
the disappointed tramp. “Who would have thought he could have sprung up
like that?”

He determined to try once more what he could accomplish by threats.

“Look here, boy, if you know what’s best for yourself, you’ll come
down!” he cried, furiously.

“I think it’s best for me to remain up here,” said Robert.

“When you come down I’ll wring your neck, you little rascal!”

“That isn’t much inducement for me to come down,” said Robert, coolly.

“If you come down within five minutes and hand over your money, I’ll
let you go without doing you any harm.”

“That’s very kind of you, but I need it myself.”

Robert’s coolness incensed the tramp, who would have felt more
satisfaction if his intended victim had exhibited terror.

Robert was reminded of the scene in the woods at Crampton, where Mr.
Tarbox had besieged Charlie Davis and himself, and the trick by which
they had then escaped. This would not work now, and indeed it didn’t
seem clear how he was to escape at all. There was nothing but to remain
up in the tree, and try to tire out the patience of the thievish tramp.

Twenty minutes passed. They passed slowly for Robert, but they also
passed slowly for his besieger, who was in a hurry to get possession of
the boy’s money, and feared some one might come along to whom he could
appeal for help. If he had known that Robert had twenty dollars in his
pocket his eagerness would have increased.

“Are you coming down?” he demanded, looking up in the tree fiercely.

“When you are gone away,” answered the boy, composedly.

“If you wait much longer I’ll murder you when you do come down. You may
think I won’t do it, but I’m savage enough to do anything.”

“I don’t doubt it at all,” said our hero.

“I might tell you of how I’ve served other persons who trifled with me.”

“Do!” replied Robert. “It’ll take up the time.”

“No,” answered the tramp, suspiciously. “I don’t care to have you
inform against me, but I want you to remember that I am a desperate
man.”

“I’ll take it for granted. I don’t want to fall into the hands of such
a man.”

The tramp hunted about for a stone to throw at the boy, but in that
part of the West stones are not as plenty as in New England, and his
kind intentions were frustrated.

“Perhaps you think I’ll go away after a while,” he said presently,
“but that’s where you make a mistake. I will stay here all night, if
necessary.”

He looked as if he would really carry out his threat, and Robert, it
must be admitted, in spite of his coolness of demeanor, began to feel
anxious.

“What an obstinate ruffian!” he thought. “If he keeps his word, it will
be decidedly uncomfortable for me.”

“Will no one come along?”

That was the thought that kept recurring to him. It seemed to offer the
only means of escape.

At last he heard wheels, and was thankful. So did the tramp, and felt
uneasy. But when the carriage came along it turned out to contain a
woman and young boy. It would do no good to hail them, for they could
not help him, and the tramp might be led to attack and rob them. So
Robert was constrained to let the carriage pass, and to find himself
once more in solitude with the tramp.

“You did well not to speak,” said the latter, grimly. “If you had I
would have robbed her, too.”

“Just what I thought,” returned Robert. “That seems to be your
business.”

“Don’t be impudent, boy!”

“Isn’t it the truth?”

“Come down and you’ll find out.”

“I know well enough already.”

Another half hour passed, and no one came by. At last the two heard a
sound and a man whistling; the same seemed approaching.

“I hope it’s a strong, able-bodied man,” thought Robert.

When at length the man came in sight, a great tide of joy swept over
him. It was the very man whose presence he would have desired above
all others. It was Hercules, who had at one time been employed in the
same circus with himself, to perform feats of strength.

“Hercules!” cried Robert, joyfully, from his perch in the tree.

Hercules paused and looked about in surprise, for he saw no one except
an ill-looking tramp, who, he was sure, had not spoken to him. He
thought he recognized the voice, but was not certain.

“Who is it calls me?” he asked. “Where are you?”

“Here, in this tree.”

Then Hercules espied our hero and recognized him.

“Robert Rudd,” he cried, in mingled surprise and joy.

“Yes, it is I.”

“What are you doing here? I had no idea of seeing you here.”

“Nor I you; but I am glad you came along.”

“Why are you up there?”

“Because the gentleman below insists upon my giving him my money, and I
have a use for it myself.”

“Ha!” said Hercules, eying the besieging force narrowly. “Well, he
looks like a thief and a scoundrel.”

Meantime, as may readily be imagined, the tramp had been busily
scanning him. Now the appearance of Hercules was very deceptive. He was
not a man of large, powerful frame—indeed he did not look as strong as
the tramp; but his sinews were of iron and his muscles were immense,
but these were concealed by his clothing. Only in the ring, when he
performed his feats of strength, were they displayed to advantage. The
tramp was not a classical scholar, or the name Hercules might have told
him something. As it were he really thought himself the more powerful
man of the two, and it came into his mind that he might as well enlarge
his schemes of plunder and force this new acquaintance to pay tribute
as well as the boy whom he was besieging.

“You call me a thief and a scoundrel, do you?” he said, flaming up in
fierce wrath.

“Yes, I do,” returned Hercules, eying him coolly.

“How dare you do it?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” said Hercules, contemptuously. “Didn’t you mean to
rob this boy if I hadn’t come along?”

“I will do it yet, but I have business with you first.”

“What kind of business?”

“Empty your pockets, and don’t be long about it,” said the tramp,
approaching Hercules menacingly.

It had never occurred to Robert that the tramp would attempt anything
so absurd as to attack the professional champion, whose name was famous
for strength, and when he saw that such was his intention he laughed
aloud in amazement.

“Don’t crow, young rooster!” cried the tramp, angrily. “I’ll tackle
your friend first; your turn will come by and by.”

“Oh, you want to have a tussle with me, do you?” said Hercules, eying
the other with a smile of amusement.

“Yes, I’ll finish you up in short order,” said the tramp, boastfully.

“Don’t be afraid, Hercules!” cried Robert, with a laugh.

“I’ll try not to. So you want me to hand over my money, do you?” he
said.

“Yes; and you’d better be quick about it, too,” growled the tramp.

“Suppose I don’t?”

“Then I’ll whip you till you can’t stand.”

“This is better than any circus I ever attended,” said Robert,
delighted.

“He’ll think it’s a circus before he gets through,” said Hercules,
significantly. “Well, my ill-looking friend, I must inform you in the
outset that you are taking a good deal of trouble for a very little. My
stock of money is very low.”

“I don’t care; you can hand over what you’ve got.”

“Or fight for it?”

“Yes,” growled the tramp.

“I think I’ll fight—a little friendly encounter. It’s the custom to
shake hands first; will you do it?”

The tramp extended his hand, which Hercules at once grasped with such
an iron pressure that the tramp fairly danced and howled with pain,
while the veins swelled upon his forehead.

“Let go!” he yelled.

Hercules released his hand with a laugh.

“It’s only a small lesson, my friend. Do you want my money now?”

“Who are you?” asked the tramp, with the addition of an oath.

“I am Hercules, the strong man. You made a mistake when you tackled me.”

“I’m off, then,” said the tramp.

“Not quite yet. You need a further lesson.”

So saying, Hercules seized the tramp suddenly, raised him aloft, threw
him up in the air, and then hurled him to the distance of a couple of
rods, where he lay stunned for a minute or two.

“Now clear out!” said Hercules sternly, as the rascal rose to his feet
and limped off. “I would give you in charge if it were not too much
trouble. Never let me set eyes on you again!”

“I won’t if I can help it,” muttered the tramp as he slunk away.

“Now, Robert, come down from the tree, and tell me all about yourself.”

Robert told his story, and asked Hercules for similar information.

“I’ve been to see a sister who lives near here,” he said, “and now am
on my way back to North’s circus, where I am engaged.”

“Where are they?”

“At Athens.”

“How far off is that?”

“Only ten miles.”

“Is there anything for me?” asked Robert, eagerly. “I want to work my
way back to the East.”

“They’ve got a rider—but I forgot, your doctor won’t let you ride. If
you don’t mind selling at the lemonade stand, there’ll be a chance.
They’ve sent off the boy that worked for them the first of the season.
Young Ajax is with the circus, and others whom you know.”

“I’ll go.”

The same night the two friends joined North’s circus, and set out on a
leisurely return to the East.

We must now go back to Chestnutwood, where the old man, Cornelius
Richmond, though blessed with a large share of the gifts of fortune,
was passing his declining years in loneliness, with no one of his
kindred near him except his nephew, Hugo. For years Hugo had been
his constant companion; in manner, at least, he had been devoted to
his uncle, yet the old man had never been drawn to him. Sometimes he
reproached himself because he could not feel more warmly towards his
nephew.

“Hugo seems devoted to me,” he said to himself. “Why is it that I
cannot thoroughly like him? It must be because my heart is in the grave
of my son Julian. Ah, if only his son were living, that I might have my
grandson with me. That boy whom I saw riding in the circus—I could
get to love him for his resemblance to my son; but Hugo tells me he has
lost all traces of him.”

The simple old man little suspected that his crafty nephew had taken
effectual means to prevent his ever seeing any more of this boy,
towards whom he felt a yearning affection, for which we can account,
though he could not. Indeed, he was not a man to suspect guile of any
one, being in himself so guileless, and he really thought that Hugo’s
attentions were dictated by genuine affection, instead of selfish
scheming for his uncle’s wealth.

“You have heard nothing more about the boy, Hugo?” he asked one morning.

“No, uncle,” answered Hugo, suppressing an expression of impatience.

“It is strange.”

“I am afraid you would be disappointed in him, even if we could find
him, and bring him here, Uncle Cornelius.”

“No, I should not be disappointed, for I should not expect too much.
It would be a pleasure to look upon the boy’s face, and think my lost
Julian was again before me.”

“The old fool!” muttered Hugo under his breath. “Will he never quit
harping on that boy?”

“You must remember that he has been brought up in a circus, amid
very objectionable associations, uncle,” he said aloud. “What can be
expected under such circumstances?”

“What is his name?”

“His circus name is Robert Rudd.”

The old man repeated it softly to himself.

The same day he sent for a lawyer, and professed his intention to
modify his will.

Hugo was alarmed.

“Can he be going to leave anything to that boy?” he asked himself.

He would have liked to have asked his uncle, but only contrived to
hint a question, to which the old man replied evasively. In reality,
he had appended a codicil to his will, bequeathing the sum of ten
thousand dollars “to the young circus rider, generally known as Robert
Rudd,” and did not like to mention it to Hugo lest the latter should
remonstrate with him, and the old man felt too weak to argue.

“There will be enough left for Hugo,” he said to himself. “Ten
thousand dollars is but a small part of my property.”

“It is very lucky,” thought Hugo, “that I made arrangements with
Fitzgerald to dispose of the boy, in case my uncle has done anything
foolish in his will. It will save litigation and trouble.”

He looked at the old man—frail, feeble, apparently on the verge of
the grave—and reflected with impatience that as he looked now he had
looked for five years past. His hold on life was tenacious.

“Good heavens! He may live for five or ten years yet!” thought Hugo.
“He looks as if a breath would blow him away; yet he encumbers the
earth year after year, holding one in a detestable slavery to his whims
and caprices. I shall be an old man myself, or almost one, before
Chestnutwood falls into my possession; but when it does”—and his
eye flashed with hopeful anticipation, and he walked with a prouder
gait—”when it does I will live!”

One day Hugo was just getting ready for a solitary walk when the
servant announced, “A gentleman to see you, sir.”

“A gentleman? What name?” asked Hugo.

“He said his name was Fitzgerald, sir.”

“Fitzgerald?” exclaimed Hugo, his voice betraying the excitement he
felt. “Tell him I will be with him at once.”

He entered the drawing-room, and Fitzgerald arose from a sofa on which
he had seated himself.

“Ah! Fitzgerald!” said Hugo, with assumed indifference.

“Yes, it is I. I have—”

“Hush! I am about to take a walk about the place. You can join me, and
whatever you have to say, you can say more freely as we walk.”

“Very well, sir; it is immaterial to me.”

Hugo took his hat, and the two sauntered along the broad walk till they
reached a point at some distance from the mansion.

“Mr. Fitzgerald, what have you got to tell me?” asked Hugo eagerly.

“The boy won’t trouble you any more,” answered Fitzgerald,
sententiously.

“You mean—the circus rider?”

“Certainly; your young cousin.”

“Hush!” said Hugo, angerly. “How dare you call him my cousin?”

“Because he was your cousin,” said the other firmly. “He stood between
you and the property, and that is why you wanted me to put him out of
the way.”

“I won’t discuss that matter just now—I will simply ask you if you
mean to assure me that the boy is dead?”

“Yes.”

“You can swear it?”

“Of course. He is at the bottom of a well in a distant Western State,
unless he has been fished out.”

“He must have been very careless to fall in, whoever he was,” said Hugo.

“Very much so!” said Fitzgerald mockingly.

“Well,” said Hugo, philosophically, “he’d probably have met with a
violent death anyway. This bareback riding is dangerous.”

“So it is; I saw him thrown from his horse in the ring at Crampton.”

“Indeed! Was he hurt?”

“Sprained his ankle—that was all. He had to retire from the ring for
the season. Then I offered him an engagement to travel with me to the
West.”

“Indeed! Very kind of you!” said Hugo, indifferently. “Well, shall we
go back to the house?”

“Go back to the house!” repeated Fitzgerald, surprised. “Why, we
haven’t transacted our business.”

“Our business! Why, what business have I with you?”

“I want pay for my work,” answered Fitzgerald sharply.

“Your work! Really, I don’t remember to have employed you,” said Hugo
with languid indifference.

“Can he mean to go back on his promise?” Fitzgerald asked himself
uncomfortably.

“You promised me $2000 down when I had done this job, and $3000 more
when you came into your inheritance,” he said quickly.

Hugo, who was a man of consummate meanness, could not bear to part with
so large a sum of money. Now that he had obtained all that he desired,
and believed that his young cousin, the only possible obstacle between
him and his uncle’s wealth, was out of the way, he thought he might
safely repudiate the bargain, and send off Fitzgerald penniless, or at
any rate with a trifle.

“You seem to be dreaming, or romancing,” he said coldly.

“Do you mean to say you did not promise me the money?” he demanded
passionately.

“I never did; of course not. I have never had any dealings with you.”

Fitzgerald clenched his hand together until the nails entered the
flesh. Had he committed a detestable crime for nothing?

“Look here, Mr. Hugo Richmond,” he said, passionately. “This won’t do!
You are not going to use me and then throw me off. Pay me this money,
or I will report you.”

“You had better reflect before you try it,” said Hugo, composedly.
“I shall accuse you of black-mail, and your charge would never be
believed.”

“Wouldn’t it? You may find yourself bitterly mistaken.”

“You must remember that in charging yourself with murder you will run
the risk of the hangman’s rope. Even if the charge could do me any harm
you would probably lose your own life.”

This was no doubt true, and Fitzgerald stared at the man who had
tempted him to a crime and now threatened him with the consequences
while he held back the reward, with stupefaction.

“You see your plan won’t work,” said Hugo, smoothly.

“I believe you are a fiend incarnate!” exclaimed Fitzgerald, feeling
baffled and defeated.

“Really, I don’t much care what you think of me.”

“Do you mean to send me away penniless?” asked Fitzgerald, hoarsely.

“No, I will take pity on your necessities and give you fifty dollars.
I don’t recognize any claims you may pretend to have on me, but I will
help you so far.”

“Give me the fifty dollars, then!” said Fitzgerald, sullenly.

Hugo drew from his wallet five ten-dollar bills, and handed them to his
companion.

“Now,” said he, “I must wish you good morning. Don’t come in my way
again!”

As Hugo walked back to the house Fitzgerald looked after him.

“This will prove a bad morning’s work for you, Mr. Hugo Richmond!” he
muttered.

Continue Reading

ROBERT FINDS HIMSELF IN A TIGHT PLACE

The action of Fitzgerald was so rapid and unexpected that Robert was
unable to protect himself in any way. He fell, but mechanically,
as he had seen trapeze performers do in the circus when falling,
he held himself erect, with his hands at his sides, and dropped in
that position into three feet of water at the bottom of the well.
Fortunately for him the depth of the well was not great, about fifteen
feet, and he sustained no injury to his limbs, the water, moreover,
breaking the force of the descent.

Still, when unexpectedly he found himself at the bottom of the well,
his situation was by no means pleasant.

“What could have induced Mr. Fitzgerald to push me in?” he asked
himself in a bewildered way. “What possible object could he have in
doing it?”

That his employer did push him he couldn’t doubt, for he felt the
push, which was a forcible one. Yet it seemed so causeless, so utterly
without an object, that he was tempted to doubt the testimony of his
senses. To the reader, of course, it is perfectly clear, but we have
sources of information that Robert had not.

He was not a boy to give up, though it certainly looked hopeless
to attempt to get out. Had the well been at the East it would have
been walled in on all sides by rocks, but stones of any size are not
numerous in many parts of the West, and this had originally been
boarded, but some of the boards had disappeared.

“It isn’t very deep,” thought Robert, “but how in the world am I to get
out?”

He made several attempts, but they were all futile. Things began to
look serious, for the house was deserted, and probably very few persons
came that way.

While in a state of painful anxiety he heard, faintly, a boy whistle.
The sound became more distinct as if the boy were approaching, and hope
was kindled in our hero’s breast.

“If I could only attract his attention,” he thought.

He shouted as loud as he could, but the sound was partially lost before
it reached the surface of the well. Still it attracted the attention of
Fred Lathrop, the boy who was whistling, who stopped to listen.

“Where did that sound come from?” he thought.

It was repeated, and this time he could distinguish the word “Help!”

“By gracious, it comes from the well!” he said to himself. “Who can be
down there?”

He drew near and looked down. It was darker near the bottom, but he
could descry Robert, who was looking up.

“Who’s there?” asked Fred.

“It’s I—a boy. Help me up!”

“How did you get down there?”

“Help me out and I’ll tell you.”

“I don’t see how I am to do it,” said Fred, after a pause.

“Isn’t there a rope round about there somewhere?”

“The old well-rope used to be coiled up in a corner of the house; I
don’t know whether it’s there now.”

“Look—will you?”

Fred needed no second request. He went to the house and was fortunate
enough to find the rope. He brought it with him to the edge of the well.

“I’ve got it!” he exclaimed.

“Throw one end to me.”

This was done.

“Now, do you think you can pull hard enough to draw me out? I will help
myself with my feet.”

“I am afraid I’m not strong enough.”

“Suppose you try,” said Robert, who didn’t like to give up the hope of
an immediate escape.

“Stop, there’s my brother-in-law coming across the fields,” said Fred,
eagerly. “He will help me.”

“Mr. Davis!” he cried, “come here and help me.”

“What are you up to, Fred?” inquired the young man addressed. “Are you
fishing in the well?”

“Yes; I am fishing—for a boy,” responded Fred.

“Are you gone crazy?”

“No; come here and look for yourself.”

Davis did so, and was sensible enough to understand, though very much
surprised, that it would be best to postpone his inquiries till the boy
was rescued.

“Give me hold of the rope!” he said. “Now, you boy down there, can you
give a good, firm grip?”

“Try me and see.”

“If you let it slip through your fingers you will fall back and hurt
yourself.”

“I won’t let it slip. Keep firm hold yourself.”

It was not altogether an easy task, and Robert was rubbed unpleasantly
against the sides of the well; but at length victory crowned the
efforts of the three, and our hero, his clothes looking none the better
for his immersion in the water, and his contact with the sides of the
well gave him a decided tramp-like appearance.

“Well, here you are!” said Mr. Davis. “How did you get into the well?
Did you fall in?”

“I was pushed in,” answered Robert.

“Pushed in!” repeated Fred and his brother-in-law in concert.

“Yes.”

“Who pushed you in?”

“My employer—the man I was travelling with.”

“What made him do it?”

“That is more than I can tell.”

“Was he angry with you?”

“There had been no quarrel nor disagreement, and I supposed we were
excellent friends.”

“I wouldn’t fancy such a friend,” said Fred, dryly.

“The man must have had some motive,” said Mr. Davis, who was a young
lawyer.

“I can’t think of any. I think he may have been insane,” said Robert,
to whom this had occurred as a possible solution of the problem.

“How long had you been with him?”

“Only about a week. He proposed to me to take a walk this morning, and
brought me here.”

“Your clothes look the worse for the fall,” said Fred.

“Yes, I look like a tramp,” answered Robert, glancing down at his wet
and muddy clothes with disgust. “I’ve got another suit at the hotel,
unless Mr. Fitzgerald has carried off my valise. I don’t much like
going back there in this trim.”

“You needn’t,” said Fred. “Come home with me. You are about my size;
I will lend you one of my suits, while yours is being cleansed and
dried.”

“Thank you!” said Robert, relieved; “you are very kind. And what will
your mother say when she sees you bringing such a looking tramp home
with you?”

“Don’t trouble yourself about that,” said Fred. “Mother will understand
it. She’ll see that even if you do look like a tramp you’re not a
professional.”

“That’s just what I am,” responded Robert, smiling. “I am a
professional—circus rider.”

“You don’t say so!” exclaimed Fred, with something of interest. “Are
you a bareback rider?”

“Yes.”

“We’ve got a horse in the barn. Won’t you try riding on him?”

“Oh, the horse has to be trained as well as the rider: I can’t perform
on a horse that has never been in the ring.”

“Then how did you happen to be with this man that served you such a
trick?”

Robert explained.

Quarter of an hour’s walk brought them to a substantial farm-house
occupied by Fred’s family. He introduced Robert to his mother—a
pleasant-faced lady, who received our hero cordially, especially after
she had been informed of the manner in which he had been treated by his
employer.

Fred took Robert up to his own bedroom, where he placed one of his own
suits at his disposal. The soiled suit was taken down-stairs, where it
was first dried by the fire and afterwards brushed clean till it once
more assumed the respectable look which rightfully belonged to it.

Meanwhile Fred went round to the hotel to ascertain whether Fitzgerald
had made his appearance.

He ascertained that he had returned and reported that the boy had gone
on to the next town, where he was to join him. He paid the bill of
both, took both valises and drove to the nearest railway station.

“He’s taken French leave!” said Fred. “He evidently never expects to
see you again.”

“He may be disappointed in that,” said Robert, quietly; “I may appear
to him when he least expects it. I intend to find out if I can what was
his object in throwing me into the well.”

“That’s where I’m with you!” said Fred. “I wouldn’t let him go
unpunished for such an outrage.”

When Robert came to reflect upon his situation, however, he felt
embarrassed. His bills, of course, had been paid by Fitzgerald, and he
had not yet received any wages. The consequence was, that while he was
nearly two thousand miles distant from his starting-point, he had but
a dollar and a half in his pocket. He might, to be sure, write to Dr.
Grey for a portion of his savings, but it would take some time for the
remittance to arrive.

Robert somehow had an objection to sending to Dr. Grey for money,
though the money was his own. It seemed like a confession of failure,
and he did not care to write what sort of an accident had befallen him,
since it would involve long explanations. Therefore, though he had but
a dollar and a half left, he decided to set out on his way home; that
is, towards the East, trusting to luck to get along. Though this was,
perhaps rash, it was not so rash in Robert’s case as it would have
been in the case of an average boy, for he had been accustomed to earn
his own living and possessed some talents and accomplishments which he
could turn to account.

He took leave of his good friends, the Lathrops, without betraying
to them his condition, or they would have insisted upon giving him
substantial aid. As it was, Mrs. Lathrop insisted upon preparing, with
her own hands, a substantial lunch, which in due time Robert found very
acceptable.

He set out on his journey on foot. His small capital would not allow
him to travel in any other way. His clothes had been dried and pressed,
and he presented a neat appearance, so that he was not likely to be
taken for a tramp, though in his earlier days he had travelled in that
character.

He walked in a leisurely way during the forenoon, and about noon sat
down under a tree and ate his lunch. It was a plentiful one, but
Robert, whose appetite had been sharpened by his walk, did full justice
to it. In fact he ate it all.

“There’s no particular hurry,” he thought; “I may as well lie here for
awhile and rest during the heat of the day.”

It was not quite 2 o’clock when he was roused from a revery by hearing
carriage wheels. He looked up and saw a lady in a four-wheel carriage,
drawn by a horse who was inclined to be fractious. The lady driver was
evidently anxious, for she pulled the reins frantically, and called
out, “Whoa! you sir! Why don’t you behave? Oh dear, what shall I do?”

The horse shook his head, pranced, backed, and was evidently prepared
to make trouble, much to the discomfort and alarm of the lady.

“Oh, dear! I wish I hadn’t come alone!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t think
Prince would behave so. It’s lucky if I don’t get my neck broken!”

The horse was quite aware that he was master of the situation, and
that his driver had lost her presence of mind, and, with a perversity
which we sometimes see in horses, made up his mind to act as badly as
possible.

So occupied was the lady that she did not see the boy, who sat under
a tree by the roadside, nor suspected that in him she was to find a
deliverer.

If there was any one accustomed to horses, and utterly without fear
of them, it was Robert, as may be supposed from the nature of his
training. He sprang to his feet when he perceived the situation, and,
running forward, took off his hat, and asked politely, “Can I be of any
service to you, madam?”

“Can you drive horses?” asked the lady, doubtfully.

Robert smiled.

“I’m used to them,” he answered.

“Then won’t you get in and drive for me? Prince is acting very badly
to-day.”

Robert did not wait for the carriage to stop, but with his usual
activity clambered in, and was at the lady’s side in an instant.

“Now,” he said, “let me take the reins.”

“If you are sure that you can drive,” said Miss Stafford, doubtfully.

“You shall see for yourself,” answered Robert, confidently.

He held the reins with a firm hand. The horse, though immediately
sensible that there was a new hand at the helm, if I may speak
figuratively, wasn’t quite ready to yield.

Seeing that he was still fractious, Robert took the whip and brought it
down smartly on the horse’s flanks.

“Oh, what are you doing?” asked the lady in alarm. “Prince will run
away with us!”

“Let him try it,” said Robert, his eyes flashing. “If I can’t subdue
him, I’ll sell out to some one that can!”

This was a boy’s expression, but his confident manner served to
reassure Miss Stafford, though Prince did really undertake to run. The
road, however, was good, there were no carriages to encounter, and
Robert gave him his head, holding the reins, however, in a strong, firm
grasp.

“I never rode so fast in my life!” said Miss Stafford nervously, as
they flew over the road. “Don’t let us tip over.”

“No, ma’am, I won’t.”

After a while Prince slackened his speed. It was rather a warm day,
and he found that it was not quite so good fun running as he found it
when he felt that his driver was frightened—now the least sign of
fractiousness was instantly followed by a smart stroke of the whip.

“I believe you do understand horses,” said Miss Stafford at length.

“It’s my business to understand them,” answered Robert.

“You ain’t a—jockey, are you?” asked the lady.

“No; I have been a circus-rider.”

“You don’t say so!” ejaculated the lady. “You can’t jump through hoops
and all them things, can you?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You are not with a circus now, are you?”

Robert explained that he had left circus life for a time, but had been
thrown out of employment unexpectedly.

“I am going to a birthday party of a little niece of mine,” said Miss
Stafford. “She is twelve years old to-day. There will be twenty or
thirty boys and girls there. I wish you could do something to amuse
them. It would make us all the more welcome.”

“I am a little of a magician,” said Robert. “If you think they would
like to see some tricks—”

“The very thing!” exclaimed Miss Stafford, enthusiastically. “They are
all fond of tricks. Where did you learn?”

When Miss Stafford was informed that Robert had learned of a real
magician, that is of a professor of magic, she was very much pleased.

“I will engage you, then,” she said, “for the afternoon and evening.
When I say engage you, I mean I will pay you for your trouble.”

“Oh, I won’t charge anything,” said Robert.

“But you must!” said the lady positively. “Louisa Stafford never allows
any one to work for nothing. Besides you have perhaps prevented Prince
here from breaking my neck. I certainly won’t be mean enough to make
you work for nothing. I warrant you are not over-provided with money.”

“Well, no,” answered Robert, smiling. “I can’t say I am. I have only
a dollar and a half here, though I have some money in the hands of a
friend at the East.”

“And how far are you expecting to travel?”

“To New York.”

“To New York—almost two thousand miles—on a dollar and a half!
Goodness gracious, what a wild idea!”

“Oh, I expect to find something to do on the way, and if I don’t I
shall meet with good friends.”

“A dollar and a half! I never heard of such a thing!” reiterated Miss
Stafford.

Miss Louisa Stafford was a rich and kind-hearted maiden lady, who,
unlike many of her class, was very fond of young people and a great
favorite with them. No gathering of her nephews or nieces was
considered complete without the presence of Aunt Louisa, who was sure
in every way to promote the happiness of the young company. She was
delighted to secure in Robert one who could so materially help her,
and inwardly resolved to reward him well for his services.

They drove up to a large house with a broad lawn, shaded by fine trees,
under which were assembled a merry crowd of young people. When Miss
Stafford’s carriage was espied there was a rush to greet her.

“How are you all, children?” she said, heartily. “Oh; I see you are
looking at this young gentleman with me. Well, he has saved my life.”

“Saved your life!” exclaimed the children in chorus.

“Yes, Prince undertook to run away with and upset me, but Master
Robert, here (she had inquired his name), subdued him, and here I am. I
have taken the liberty to invite Professor Rudd to join our party.”

“Professor Rudd!” repeated the children, bewildered.

“Yes; this young gentleman is a professor of magic, and he will perform
some tricks this evening. This afternoon I expect you to be polite to
him, and invite him to join your games.”

This all were very ready to do, for Robert was good-looking and
gentlemanly in appearance, and soon made himself a general favorite.

Supper was served between five and six o’clock, and early in the
evening Robert appeared as a magician. He had quite a variety of
tricks and illustrations, and this part of the programme gave great
satisfaction.

The next morning (for Miss Stafford and Robert also passed the night in
the hospitable mansion) when our young hero was ready to start out on
his journey, Miss Stafford, put in his hand a sealed envelope.

“Don’t open this,” she said, “till you have gone at least a mile.”

Robert felt curious to learn what was in the letter, but faithfully
carried out the wishes of Miss Stafford, and did not open it till he
was more than a mile away.

On opening it, to his surprise he found inclosed two $10 bills, with
the following words written in pencil:

“MY YOUNG FRIEND ROBERT: I desire you to accept the inclosed and
hope you will find it of use. You needn’t hesitate, for it comes
from a crusty old maid who has more than her share of this world’s
goods, and likes to do a little good as she goes along in life,
instead of saving up thousands for heirs who might squander it.
Accept my good wishes and thanks beside for the service you have
done me in taming a perverse brute, and when you are again in this
vicinity be sure to call on your friend,

“LOUISA STAFFORD.”

“The old lady’s a trump!” exclaimed Robert warmly. “There isn’t one in
a thousand that would be so generous. This is a regular windfall to me
as I am situated now. Now I shan’t be obliged to send to Dr. Grey for
part of my savings.”

Robert continued on his way with a light heart, for it is wonderfully
cheering to think that one has money enough to pay for rest and food at
the close of the day. Our young hero decided that he would not walk all
the way to the East, but would on the day following take the cars at
any convenient station.

Pursuing his journey, he came to a portion of the road which ran
through the primeval forests, he felt it to be rather a relief, for the
morning was well advanced, and the sun began to make him uncomfortably
warm. He soon had occasion to learn that to be warm is not the most
undesirable thing that can happen to a traveller.

Half a mile from the entrance of the wood he saw sitting on the fallen
trunk of a tree a rough-looking fellow, whose face looked even more
repulsive than usual from a short black beard which appeared to be of
a week’s growth. He looked like what he was—a tramp, who was so from
choice, even more than from necessity.

“What an ill-looking fellow!” thought Robert.

The man looked up, and scanned the boy curiously.

“Hallo, young chap!” he said.

“Hallo!” returned Robert.

“Have you got any tobacco about you?” inquired the tramp.

“No, I never use it.”

“Then have you a cigar? That will do just as well.”

“No; I don’t smoke at all.”

“Oh, you are an innocent baby!” said the man, with a sneer of
disappointment.

Robert did not think it necessary to reply, but was moving on, being
anxious to get away from so undesirable a companion as soon as possible.

“Stop a minute, boy—don’t be in such a hurry,” said the man.

“If you have anything to say to me I will listen,” said Robert, coldly.

“You will, will you? You’re mighty accommodatin’! Where are you goin’?”

“Straight ahead!”

[Illustration: ROBERT AND THE TRAMP.]

“Any fool would know that. That isn’t an answer.”

“Why do you wish to know?” retorted Robert.

“That’s my business!” said the tramp, his repulsive features assuming
an ugly expression. “You’d better answer my question.”

Robert thought on the whole it would be prudent to avoid trouble by
keeping on as good terms as possible with the man.

“I can’t tell you,” he said, “for I don’t know myself. I expect to keep
on till I get to New York.”

“That’s where I’m goin’! Suppose we keep company,” said the man with a
grin.

“We can keep company for the present, if you wish,” answered Robert,
trying to repress his disgust.

“Look here, young fellow! Have you got any money?” asked the tramp with
a sidelong glance.

Robert was not surprised at this inquiry, for he had expected it, but
in spite of his courage it alarmed him, for he could see that he was no
match in physical strength for this ill-looking man.

“A little!” he answered.

“How much?”

“That’s my business,” answered Robert, provoked. “I don’t ask how much
money you’ve got.”

“I haven’t a cent,” said the tramp, “but,” he added, significantly,
“I’m going to have some soon.”

The look which accompanied this declaration made it evident what he
meant, and Robert looked about to see what chance he had of escape
if the worst came to the worst. As to surrendering the $20 for which
he had been indebted to the generosity of Miss Stratton, he had no
intention of doing it, unless it should be absolutely necessary.

“I have nothing to do with your affairs,” said Robert. “If you’ll let
me know which way you are going, I’ll go the other way.”

“Will you so? No, boy, you don’t get rid of me so easily. We’re goin’
the same way. If you want to leave you can, but you must hand over your
money first.”

“Are you a thief, then?” demanded Robert, quickly.

“No; and you’d better not call me so. I’m only goin’ to borrer your
money; I’ll give you my note for it,” returned the tramp with a cunning
grin.

“I decline to lend,” said Robert stoutly.

“Look here, my young chicken!” said the man in a menacing tone. Ain’t
you crowin’ rather too loud for a bantem? Do you know who I am?”

“No, but I can guess.”

“Guess, then?”

“You’re a man whose company I do not like.”

The tramp laughed. Instead of offending, the reply appeared to amuse
him.

“That’s true enough, I reckon. Well, I’m a man that don’t stand no
nonsense. I want your money.”

He advanced towards Robert in a menacing manner, and our hero, who had
been looking about him, jumped aside nimbly, and seizing the branch of
a tree swung himself up into the branches, before his companion clearly
understood his intention.

“Oh, that’s your game, is it?” he said, angrily. “It won’t do!”

He darted forward, but Robert bad been too quick for him, and was
already out of reach. He was light and agile by nature, and his
training in the ring had helped to make him more so.

“So you think you’ve escaped me, do you?” he demanded with an oath.

Robert did not answer, but looked calmly down upon him from the tree.

“Come down at once!”

“Thank you; I’d rather stay here,” said our hero calmly.

Without a word the tramp made an effort to follow Robert up the tree.

Continue Reading

AT NIAGARA FALLS

Robert Rudd had been in New York more than once, and he therefore had
no difficulty in finding out the fine hotel on Broadway known as the
St. Nicholas.

He entered it, and, walking up to the desk, inquired, “Is Mr. John
Fitzgerald staying here?”

“Yes,” answered the clerk. “Do you wish to see him?”

“If you please.”

“Then write your name on a card and I will send it up.”

Robert did so.

“See if No. 35 is in,” said the clerk, calling a hall boy, and handing
him the card.

In five minutes the hall boy came back, saying: “Mr. Fitzgerald wants
the young gentleman to come up.”

Robert followed him to a room on the third floor and knocked at the
door.

“Come in,” was heard from the interior.

On entering Robert looked with some curiosity at the solitary occupant
of the room, who was to be his future employer. He saw a tall,
dark-complexioned man neatly dressed in a suit which appeared to be
new, since it had not lost its first gloss.

Fitzgerald, for it was he, rose promptly, and advanced to meet Robert
with an air of great cordiality.

“I am glad to see you, Mr. Rudd,” he said, extending his hand. “You
were perhaps surprised to receive my letter.”

“I was still more pleased,” answered Robert, politely.

“I am glad to hear it, since it gives me the assurance that you regard
my offer favorably.”

“Yes sir, I could not well do otherwise. It is of a tempting character.
I am only surprised that you should make me such an offer, knowing so
little of me.”

“Perhaps I know more of you than you imagine,” said Fitzgerald to
himself, with a peculiar look which, however, Robert did not notice.

“I judge of persons quickly!” he said aloud, “and when first I saw you
in the ring it occurred to me that you were just the young person I
should like to have travel with me. Of course, I didn’t dream then that
there was any possibility of my securing you, for I was not prepared to
pay a sum as large as you were doubtless paid at the circus. However,
when you were injured by the dastardly trick of some scoundrel, and I
subsequently learned that you would be unable to ride for the remainder
of the season, it occurred to me that perhaps you would accept my
proposal.”

“I am very glad to do so, and I am very much obliged to you for giving
me such a chance. Do you think I can fulfil the duties of the post?”

“Oh, I should think so. Favor me by writing a line or two from this
newspaper. I wish to judge of your handwriting.”

There were writing materials on the table, and Robert complied with the
request.

Though not a handsome writer, he wrote a plain and legible hand, and
with considerable readiness.

Fitzgerald scanned it hastily, and said, “Oh, that will suit me very
well.”

“Do you think I shall be competent to do all you desire?”

“I feel sure of it. You have travelled considerably, I presume?”

“Yes, with the circus.”

“Precisely. Then you know something about hotels, trains, etc. A boy
who had always lived at home would not suit me so well. Where is your
luggage?”

“I have only a gripsack—I mean valise—with me.”

“That is better. Travellers should not be encumbered with too much
baggage. It is a great nuisance. Where is it?”

“I left it below.”

“You can bring it up to my room. I won’t hire a room for you, for I
intend to start this very night for the West by a night train from the
Grand Central depot. That won’t be too sudden for you, will it?”

“O no, sir; I am entirely at your service. I have nothing to detain me
in New York.”

“Go down and get your valise and bring it up here, and I will give you
my instructions.”

“The boy has walked into the trap,” said Fitzgerald, thoughtfully,
when Robert left him. “He is a fine boy, and seems a thorough little
gentleman in spite of the way in which he has been brought up. It is a
pity to harm him, but my interests and that scoundrel Hugo’s require
it.”

Robert and his new employer started the same morning on their western
trip. From the first Robert was haunted by the thought that he had seen
Fitzgerald somewhere before. The man’s features looked familiar to him,
but he had no associations, or could recall none, connected with him.
Fitzgerald, however, who remembered very well his past connection with
the boy, was afraid that he would succeed in remembering him, and grew
uneasy when he saw Robert’s bright, expressive eyes fixed upon him.

“You seem interested in my appearance,” he said, dryly.

Robert answered quickly: “I beg your pardon, Mr. Fitzgerald, for
staring at you. Somehow your features looked familiar to me, and I was
trying to think whether I had ever met you before.”

“Very possibly you may have seen me, for I have been something of a
traveller,” answered his employer; “but we never knew each other. I
should have remembered you.”

“Very like I may have seen you at some place where we gave an
entertainment,” said Robert.

“I was at Crampton, you know.”

“I mean longer ago than that. I have a queer feeling as if some time
you were connected with me in some way,” said Robert, thoughtfully.

Fitzgerald was secretly uneasy. If Robert’s recollections should become
clearer, and he should come to suspect the truth, then good-by to his
plans, for the boy would of course be on his guard. His ingenuity came
to his aid.

“It is more likely,” he said, in an apparently indifferent tone,
“that I resemble some such person. The fact is,” he added with a
forced laugh, “I once came near falling a victim to my unfortunate
resemblance to a rascal. I was arrested on suspicion of being a forger
or something of the sort, because I looked like the real culprit. Of
course the truth came out, but not until I had been subjected to some
inconvenience.”

This explanation seemed satisfactory to Robert, who gave up his
scrutiny of his employer, convinced that he had been deluded by a
fancied or real resemblance.

They made a day’s stop at Buffalo, and went from there to Niagara
Falls, which Robert had never before seen. He naturally derived a rare
enjoyment from the sight of the great cataract. He was hurried away
from the falls by Fitzgerald in consequence of a conversation which the
boy had with a stranger, which grievously alarmed his employer.

This is how it happened:

Robert and Fitzgerald were on Goat Island. Our hero was looking
earnestly at the mighty cataract, and did not observe that a stranger
was looking earnestly at him. Fitzgerald had strayed to a little
distance, and was not within earshot.

Robert was roused from his revery by a tap upon the shoulder.

Turning he saw a man of forty-five, well dressed, and apparently a man
of position.

“Did you wish to speak to me, sir?” he inquired.

“Yes,” answered the stranger. “You will, perhaps, think me curious if I
ask your name?”

“My name is Robert Rudd.”

Robert thought it probable that the stranger had seen him riding
somewhere, and recognized him from this, though he could not call him
by name. But the name seemed to tell the inquirer nothing. On the
contrary, he appeared to be disappointed.

“I suppose I am mistaken, then,” he said, apologetically; “but I can
only say in apology for my curiosity, that you bear a remarkable
resemblance to an old school-mate of mine.”

“Who was he?” asked Robert, eagerly.

It must be borne in mind that the boy knew nothing of his own family,
and earnestly desired, though he never expected, to solve the mystery
of his birth.

“His name was Julian Richmond. Are you, by chance, related to him?”

“Not that I know of,” answered Robert, soberly. “Would you mind telling
me something about him?”

Rather wondering at our hero’s curiosity in regard to a man of whom he
had never before heard, the stranger answered, “Certainly, if you would
like to hear. Julian and I were school-fellows together in Albany,
where I live now. His father, old Cornelius Richmond, was a rich man.
I believe he is still living on a fine estate along the Hudson. When
we grew up the Richmonds moved away and I lost sight of them. I heard,
however, that Julian went out West and married. A coldness sprang up
between him and his father, for what reason I don’t know. I don’t know
whether they were ever reconciled. At any rate, poor Julian died, as
I some time after heard, leaving his father childless. If you were
Julian’s son you could not look more like him.”

Robert listened to this communication with intense interest. Could it
be that this Julian Richmond was his father? It was the first clew of
any kind that he had ever found, and he repeated over to himself the
names of Julian and Cornelius Richmond, determined to remember them,
and some time to make further inquiries.

Meanwhile Fitzgerald, turning, noticed that Robert was conversing
with a stranger. Though he was far from suspecting that an important
secret has been revealed to the boy, he was naturally of a cautious
temperament, and he thought it imprudent to allow Robert to become
intimate with any one, lest possibly when he disappeared he might be
suspected of having had some agency in the affair. He therefore walked
up rapidly to where the two were conversing.

“Robert,” he called, when two rods distant.

Robert obeyed the summons.

“I think we will go back to the hotel. I have something to do before
leaving Niagara, and there is not much time.”

“O, Mr. Fitzgerald,” said Robert, eagerly, “that gentleman tells me I
look very much like an old school-mate of his.”

Fitzgerald was instantly alarmed. He knew, for Hugo had told him,
that the boy bore a wonderful resemblance to his dead father, and, of
course, that father must have old friends and acquaintances who would
see the resemblance and possibly betray it to the boy.

“Is there anything so remarkable in that?” he asked. “Probably there
are hundreds of people whom you resemble.”

“But he said I looked as if I might be this man’s son,” continued
Robert.

“Did he mention the name of this old school-mate?” inquired Fitzgerald,
alarmed.

“Yes; he said his name was Julian Richmond.”

If Robert had been watching the countenance of his employer he
would have seen a sudden look of dismay which might have roused his
suspicions, but he was taking a last look at the great cataract.

“Very likely!” said Fitzgerald, after a slight pause. “I have been told
plenty of times that I looked like this one and that one.”

“But you know your family, and I do not. I have no knowledge of who
my father was, and so I hoped that I might hear something that would
reveal it to me. May I ask the gentleman his name? I might like to—”

“No,” answered Fitzgerald, with an abrupt harshness that made Robert
survey him in astonishment. “You are too old to be so childish. I have
no time to lose. Come at once with me to the hotel.”

“It wouldn’t take a minute.”

“Do you hear what I say?” said his employer, angrily.

Robert was too proud to make any further request. He was puzzled at
the extraordinary manner of Fitzgerald, for which there seemed no
occasion. It was the first time that his new employer had spoken to him
harshly, and he was unable to account for it. He did not press the
request, being unwilling to subject himself to any further rudeness.
Had he known how important that inquiry was, he would have made it at
all hazards. As it was, his curiosity had been excited, but he had no
suspicion that he was already on the threshold of the secret which had
always been withheld from him.

Robert was proud, and his proud spirit rebelled against his employer’s
rudeness; but he was not in a position to break with him. He had taken
no money with him, and was of course dependent upon Fitzgerald. He was
hundreds of miles away from his good friends the Greys, and it was the
part of prudence not to manifest the resentment he felt. If he had had
in his pocket the two hundred dollars which belonged to him he might
have acted differently. As it was, he preserved a dignified silence.

Fitzgerald, on arriving at the hotel, made arrangements to leave at
once. When they were fairly on their way he changed his manner, became
conciliatory and affable, and apparently endeavored to make Robert
forget his harsh words.

“I suppose he spoke hastily,” thought Robert. “He could not know how
important it seemed to me to make any inquiries about my family. At any
rate, I know the gentleman lives in Albany, and some day I will hunt
him up.”

Arrived in Chicago, Fitzgerald put up at the Sherman House, and of
course Robert accompanied him.

Our hero was a little puzzled to understand why he had been engaged.
Little or nothing was given him to do. Once or twice he had been
employed to buy tickets, or go on small errands, but his office seemed
to be a sinecure. This would have suited many boys, but Robert was
a boy of active temperament, and felt happier to be employed. I may
remark here that, in general, nothing is worse for a boy than to be
absolutely unemployed, for it is as true as the old proverb expresses
itself, that “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.”

One day Robert ventured to remark to his employer, “I am afraid, Mr.
Fitzgerald, I am not earning my wages; I am quite ready to do more.”

“That isn’t your fault, Robert,” said Fitzgerald. “It is true, while
we are travelling I don’t find much to do; but when we get to our
destination I shall keep you more busy.”

“I am glad of that,” said Robert, “for I feel better to be employed.”

“I believe I have never said anything about the object of my journey,”
Fitzgerald continued.

“No, sir.”

“I am employed by certain New York parties to look after land and
mining investments at the West. I shall have to visit several places,
and there will be more or less writing to do, in which I shall employ
you. By the way” (they were now in the hotel at Chicago), “I will
dictate a letter to you now.”

“Very well, sir.”

Robert took out writing materials and Fitzgerald dictated the following:

“_Ashley Robinson, Esq., 549 Broadway, New
York_:

“DEAR SIR: I am not quite sure as to the tenor of my instructions
from you. Do I understand that I am empowered to sell your land
without further communication with you, or do you wish me to
apprise you of any offer I may receive? My own impression is that
you ought not to accept less than $5000 for it, as it is sure to
increase in value. Please write me at once.

“Yours truly,
“JOHN FITZGERALD.”

“It is done,” said Robert.

“You may go out and mail it. I should prefer that you would take it to
the post-office yourself, as it will go quicker than if you mailed it
in the hotel, or put it in one of the street boxes. Any one will tell
you where the post-office is.”

Robert went out, well pleased to have something to do, and mailed the
letter at the city post-office, as directed.

Fitzgerald laughed to himself after the boy went out.

“The boy little suspects that that is a bogus letter, and that there is
no such person as Ashley Robinson in New York. If there is, I haven’t
the honor of knowing him. It was rather a happy idea of mine, as the
boy’s suspicion will not be so easily aroused if he thinks I am engaged
in a legitimate business journey. Well, well, I shall be glad when the
job is accomplished, for it isn’t overmuch to my taste. That villain
Hugo might find it to his mind. It is a pity that such fellows should
succeed in feathering their nests and getting all the good things of
this life. When this work is done, I shall have a hold upon him, and
it won’t be my fault if I don’t make him pay handsomely for doing his
dirty work for him.”

Presently Robert returned.

“Did you mail the letter?” asked his employer.

“Yes, sir.”

“That is well, for it was an important one.”

“You forgot to tell your correspondent where to write you,” said
Robert, to whom the omission had occurred as he was returning.

Fitzgerald was for a moment embarrassed, but he was a man of ready wit.

“Oh, he will know,” he answered; “he will address me at the town where
his land is located.”

This seemed a plausible explanation, and Robert said no more.

They walked to the railroad station with their valises in hand.

On the way rather a rough-looking man accosted Fitzgerald.

“Why, Fitz, old fellow, how did you drop down here?”

Fitzgerald flushed, and answered hurriedly—

“I came by cars from New York.”

“I don’t mean that. What’s your lay, and who have you got with you?”

“Excuse me, Brandon, I am in a hurry,” Fitzgerald answered,
uncomfortably.

Brandon whistled.

“Something mysterious, eh?” he said.

“Not at all, but you must excuse me.”

It seemed peculiar to Robert, who had seen considerable of the world,
that a reputable business man should be addressed in the terms employed
by Brandon, and he looked his surprise.

“That man is an acquaintance I stumbled across in one of my business
journeys,” explained Fitzgerald when they passed on, “and he assumed
undue familiarity. A man stumbles across some strange acquaintances;
I prefer to steer clear of such parties, but it is sometimes hard to
shake them off.”

“He seemed very well acquainted,” thought Robert, but he said nothing.
In fact he was considerably at a loss what to think of his employer,
who chose to say very little of his past history. He felt that he
should not care to remain long with him, but for the present there
seemed no objection to fill up the remainder of the season in his
employ.

From Chicago Robert and his employer travelled northwest, till they
entered the State of Minnesota. Here, somewhat to Robert’s surprise,
they left the cars at a small town, which I will call Florence, and
registered at a small hotel, which I will call the Dearborn House.
Probably our hero looked surprised, and Fitzgerald volunteered an
explanation.

“It is here where Mr. Robertson’s land is located,” he said.

“I thought it was Mr. Robinson—Ashley Robinson,” said Robert.

“To be sure,” returned Fitzgerald, rather disconcerted, for he had
forgotten the name he had extemporized in Chicago; “I am always making
mistakes about names. I have to enter everything in my diary.”

The morning after, Robert chanced to pick up a piece of paper just
outside his employer’s door. As there seemed to be writing upon it he
picked it up, thinking that it might be of some importance.

On the scrap of paper there was a name which immediately arrested
Robert’s interest—the name of Hugo Richmond.

“Richmond,” repeated Robert, in surprise. “Why, that is the name of
the man I was said so strongly to resemble. Is it possible that Mr.
Fitzgerald knows him?”

Then he bethought himself that Richmond was not an uncommon name and
there was no necessary connection between Hugo Richmond and the Julian
Richmond whom he resembled. Still the discovery of this paper made him
thoughtful. He would have liked to question his employer, but felt
instinctively aware that it would do no good. Besides, from the manner
in which he had found the paper, it would seem as if he were trying to
spy out his master’s affairs.

“Robert,” said Fitzgerald, after breakfast, “let us go out and take a
walk.”

“With pleasure,” answered the boy, politely.

“I am going out to take a look at Mr. Robinson’s land,” said Fitzgerald.

“Has he much?”

“Oh, yes; he owns a quarter section, which he took up some years since
at the government’s price—a dollar and a quarter an acre. It must be
worth a good deal more now.”

“I suppose he wants to sell?”

“Yes. He lives so far away that he can’t well look after it. Besides,
by selling now he can make a large profit.”

“Do you think you can sell it readily, Mr. Fitzgerald?”

“Yes; I have written to a land speculator to meet me here to-morrow. I
think I can drive a bargain with him. I shall make a good commission
myself on the sale.”

“I am glad of it,” said Robert, politely.

They left the road, and went across the fields over the level,
prairie-like land. In the distance was a deserted cabin, which appeared
to be partially burned.

“Are you going to that cabin?” asked our hero.

“Yes,” answered his employer. “That cabin is on Mr. Robinson’s land.”

“Did he build it?”

[Illustration: ROBERT THROWN INTO THE DISUSED WELL.]

“No; it was built by a squatter, who took advantage of the owner being
a non-resident, and made himself at home here, without leave or
license. The cabin had not been erected long, however, before it caught
fire and was partially burned.”

“Does any one live there now?”

“No.”

The two kept on their way till they reached the deserted cabin.

A rod or two distant was an open well, which seemed, as well as the
cabin, to be disused.

“The squatter seems to have dug a well,” said Robert.

“Yes; I wonder whether it is deep,” said Fitzgerald.

Naturally Robert advanced till he stood on the brink of the well. An
instant later and he was pushed violently forward and fell into the
yawning pit.

“That disposes of him forever!” said Fitzgerald, and turning, he fled
swiftly from the spot, leaving the victim of his treachery to his fate.

Continue Reading

WHAT THE LETTER CONTAINED

Carden had not the least suspicion that he was observed. The Tarbox
farm-house stood rather aloof from the village, and the barn, as we
have already stated, was at some distance from the house. He worked
away calmly, feeling that there was no danger of his being interfered
with.

At last he reached the box, and stooping lifted it complacently.

Mr. Tarbox became very much agitated when he saw his hoard in the
possession of the burglar.

“Can’t we get at him?” he asked of Anak in an agitated whisper.

“No,” whispered Anak. “Our best plan is to wait for him, and seize him
as he leaves the barn.”

“But he will have my money.”

“Of course he will. We will catch him with the stolen property in his
possession.”

“But it isn’t safe for him to have it.”

“It won’t be safe for him, I’m thinking,” said Anak, dryly. “Don’t you
see if we reveal ourselves now he will blow out the candle and remain
where he is, and we can’t catch him in the dark. Ten to one he’ll get
off with the money.”

Tarbox saw that the giant was right. In spite of his agitation, he
couldn’t help remarking that Anak spoke English with remarkable
ease—for a Norwegian, and he said so.

Anak laughed.

“Oh well,” he said, “it’s a good while since I was in Norway.”

“Don’t speak so loud, you two,” said Charlie Davis, whose eye was glued
to the crevice. “He’ll hear you.”

“The boy is right,” said Anak.

“Is he coming this way yet?” asked Tarbox, eagerly.

“Not yet; he is sitting down, counting the money.”

Tarbox groaned.

“I—I’d like to choke him—the thief!” he muttered.

“Can’t you find a better savings bank, friend Tarbox?” said Anak.

“I’m afraid of savings banks. They break sometimes,” answered the
farmer.

“At any rate the money would be safer there than here, and you would
get interest for it besides. But for us, or rather for Charlie here,
who watched that rascal this afternoon, you’d have had to bid a long
good-by to your money.”

“He’s got through counting it,” said Charlie, who was still watching,
“and he’s putting it in his pocket.”

“I shall never see it again!” murmured Tarbox, sadly.

“Oh, yes you will—we’ve got the man as secure as a rat in a rat-trap.
He’ll have to come out this way, won’t he?”

“Yes, he’ll have to come up through the trap-door.”

“If he hadn’t the money, it would be well to fasten down the trap-door,
and keep him locked up there for the night. As it is, we shall have to
secure him, and carry him to the station-house ourselves.”

“We might put him back under the barn after we’ve taken the money from
him,” suggested Charlie Davis.

“He may have matches with him,” said Anak, “and in that case he might
set the barn on fire out of revenge. He’s an ugly customer, that
Carden, and is capable of anything.”

“No, no, let him go!” said Tarbox, alarmed at the suggestion of losing
his barn by fire. “Take the money from him and send him off.”

“No, no; we won’t let him off so easy,” said Anak. “There’s another
matter we must inquire into. We must find out whether he is the man
that threw the rock at Robert’s horse to-night. If so, he must be
punished for that.”

Meanwhile, and this conversation took a much briefer time than may
be imagined, Carden had ascended the ladder, emerged through the
trap-door, which he had left open when he went down, and, with his
ill-gotten booty stowed away in his pockets, had reached the small door
by which he entered. He came out quite unconscious of danger, when he
felt a strong hand at his collar, and his startled look fell upon the
giant and his two companions.

“What’s all this?” he asked, in affected bravado. “Let go of me, Anak.”

“You villain!” exclaimed the farmer, furiously; “give me back my
money.”

“Your money, old potato digger!” returned Carden. “Who’s got your
money?”

“You have.”

“It’s a lie. How could I get hold of your money?”

“What have you been doing in the barn?” asked Anak.

“Lying down on the hay, if you must know,” returned Carden. “I got
turned out of my boarding-place because I couldn’t pay my board, and I
thought Old Turnip-Top here wouldn’t mind my getting a free bed lying
on his hay.”

“That’s a lie,” said Tarbox, in excitement; “you’ve got my money in
your pocket—three or four hundred dollars.”

“Where did I get hold of it? Do you keep money in your barn?” sneered
the canvas man.

“Carden, it’s no use pretending ignorance; you found out that our
friend here had money concealed under the barn floor—Charlie saw you
spying this afternoon—and you thought to-night would be a good chance
to secure it.”

“So that boy blabbed about me, did he?” said Carden, with an evil
glance at Charlie. “He’d best look out, or I’ll serve him as I did—”

Here he stopped short; but Charlie finished his sentence for him.

“As you did Rob to-night,” he added; “that’s what you mean.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” said the canvas man, finding he had said
too much.

“You know well enough!” said Anak, sternly, for he liked Robert, and
was incensed against the man who had tried to do him such grievous
harm. “You know well enough what the boy means; you were seen in the
tent this evening, and it was you who threw the rock at Robert Rudd’s
horse.”

“You can’t prove it, and it’s a lie!” said Carden, defiantly.

“Make him give up the money,” said the farmer, impatiently, for he
cared nothing for Carden’s attempt to injure our hero.

“I’ll give it up if you’ll let me go,” said the canvas man.

“You’re not in a position to make terms,” said Anak. “We promise
nothing.”

“Then you won’t get it,” he returned, doggedly.

“We won’t, eh?”

Anak, for he was the speaker, threw him down, and held his hands and
feet as in a vise, while Tarbox, at his invitation, thrust his hands
into the thief’s pocket and drew out the gold and silver coins by
handfuls.

Carden ground his teeth, but he felt that resistance was vain. He was a
strong man, but Anak had the strength of three ordinary men, and he was
disposed to exert his strength to the utmost on this occasion, not only
because he was opposed to dishonesty, but because he had in his grasp
the man who had assaulted Robert.

“Have you got it all, Mr. Tarbox?” asked Anak.

“Wait and I will count it,” answered the farmer.

“Some of the money was mine,” growled Carden.

“Was it? How much?”

“Ten dollars,” answered the canvas man, after a moment’s thought.

“That’s too thin, Carden, and doesn’t tally with your first story. You
said you laid down on the hay in the barn because you had no money and
were turned out of your boarding-house.”

“Oh, you’re too smart,” muttered the baffled thief.

“I think we shall prove too smart for you to-night. Well, Mr. Tarbox,
how about the money?”

“It’s twenty-five cents short,” said Tarbox, disturbed.

“Oh, well, if you have come as near it as that you are lucky. Now let
us be going.”

“But I don’t want to leave it here; some one may find it.”

“You would be ruined if you didn’t find it,” said Anak, contemptuously.

“Will you let me up now?” asked Carden.

“Yes, I will let you up, but I won’t let you go.”

“Then I will lie here.”

“If you can.”

Despite his resistance Anak lifted him on his shoulders and bore him
off as easily as an ordinary man would carry a boy three years old.

“What are you going to do with me?” asked the canvas man.

“Deliver you over to the authorities,” answered Anak; and this he did,
despite the alternate prayers and menaces of his captive.

My young readers will be pleased to hear that Carden passed the night
in the station-house and was arraigned for trial the next day before
the court, which was then in session.

“I’m much obleeged to you,” Tarbox had the grace to say as they parted.

“And you won’t have me arrested for trespass and assault, Mr. Tarbox?”
said Anak, laughing.

“No; you’ve done me a good service to-night.”

“Take my advice and put your money in the bank to-morrow,” said Anak.

Tarbox did so; not only the money which had so narrowly escaped being
stolen, but his other hoards were collected and carried to the nearest
savings bank, which was undoubtedly a wise act on the part of the
farmer.

A week passed, and Robert Rudd was still the guest of Dr. Grey. The
circus had left town, and so the boy-rider was separated from his
professional companions. Though he was not as much attached to circus
life as some, it was his means of making a livelihood, and had been
for some years, and yielded him a considerably larger income than a
boy of his age was likely to earn in any other way. Now, it imparts a
pleasant feeling of independence to earn one’s living, and the pleasure
is heightened when not only a living is earned, but there is a chance
to lay up money besides.

When Robert was apprised of the approaching departure of the circus he
went to Dr. Grey.

“Dr. Grey,” he said, “don’t you think it will be safe for me to go back
to the circus?”

“Yes; it will be safe to go back to it, but not to ride.”

“How soon can I ride, do you think?”

“Your ankle will be weak for some time to come; not too weak for
ordinary exercise, but not strong enough for bareback riding.”

“In that case,” said Robert, with some feeling of disappointment,
“there would be no advantage in going back this season. I suppose I
could ride next season.”

“Undoubtedly, if you desire it,” said the doctor, pointedly.

“Do you intend to travel with the circus when you are a man?” asked
Sidney.

“Not if I can find some other employment at which I can make a fair
living,” answered Robert. “I don t care much for it, but at present it
pays me better than anything else.”

“That is not the most important consideration, my lad,” said the doctor.

“No; but at present I cannot afford to leave it.”

“Why can’t you stay with me all winter?” asked Sidney, eagerly. “I
should like your company very much.”

“Thank you, Sidney; you are a true friend.”

“I second my boy’s invitation,” said the doctor, cordially.

“Thank you, also,” said Robert, gratefully. “I feel your kindness the
more because I have no claims upon you.”

“Then you will stay?” said Sidney, eagerly.

“What would Ronald Percy say if you adopted me as a companion?” asked
Robert, with a smile.

“I don’t care what. I would ten times rather have you for a friend than
he.”

“Thank you, Sidney. You are not prejudiced against me because I am a
circus boy.”

“Why should I be? If you were rough and coarse, I shouldn’t fancy you,
whether you were a circus boy or not, but I consider you much more of a
gentleman than Ronald Percy,” said Sidney, warmly.

“I appreciate your good opinion, Sidney, but as to remaining here all
winter, though I should enjoy it on many accounts, I would not like to
be dependent even upon so good friends while I am able to earn my own
living. If there were anything your father had for me to do it would
make a difference.”

“I must see if I can think of anything,” said Dr. Grey. “I am afraid I
couldn’t delegate any of my medical duties to you. I fear my patients
would not repose confidence in so young a doctor.”

So the circus kept on its way, and Robert remained for a time at
the house of the physician. Those who know the characteristics of
society in a country village will not be surprised to learn that the
introduction of a circus boy into his family led many to wonder at and
criticise Dr. Grey. Prominent among the critics was Ronald Percy and
his family.

“Really,” said Mrs. Percy, a shallow woman, who made large pretensions
to fashion and position, “I can’t understand what Dr. Grey can be
thinking of, to admit a low circus boy into his house. We don’t know
what associates the boy has had in the past, but he must be coarse and
ill-bred, and surely he is not a fit companion for Sidney Grey. I hope
my Ronald won’t get intimate with him.”

“You may be sure I won’t, ma,” said Ronald. “I wouldn’t demean myself
by taking notice of him. When Sidney wanted to invite him to join in
our games I opposed it.”

“You, Ronald, can always be relied upon to feel like a gentleman,” said
his mother, complacently. “Thank heaven! he hasn’t any liking for low
company.”

“I am told the boy is very gentlemanly,” said Mrs. Frost, a woman very
different from Mrs. Percy.

Mrs. Percy shrugged her shoulders.

“That is absurd, of course,” she answered. “Gentlemanly behavior isn’t
picked up in circuses. I told the doctor so, but he is very eccentric,
and he wouldn’t listen to anything against his new favorite.”

“That must be rather awkward for you, as Ronald and Sidney are so much
together.”

“I have requested Ronald not to go to the doctor’s so much while that
boy is staying there. I feel that it is due to our position not to
allow him to form such intimacies.”

Nevertheless, when Sidney Grey got up a little party in honor of his
guest, and invited Ronald among others, the young aristocrat did not
decline, but presented himself promptly, notwithstanding his mother’s
objection to the company of the young circus rider.

Among the twenty boys and girls who assembled in the drawing-room of
Dr. Grey there was not one more quiet in manner or gentlemanly in
bearing than Robert Rudd.

“I wonder where the boy has picked up his high-bred manner?” thought
the doctor. “It must be natural to him.”

This was the case. Robert had not been placed in circumstances
favorable to the formation of a polished manner, but it was innate and
instinctive.

At a pause during the evening Sidney said, “Robert, can’t you do
something to entertain the company?”

“Would you like to see a little juggling?” asked Robert.

“Oh, yes!” cried several. Even Ronald Percy looked interested. Still he
could not help sneering a little.

“Did you do that at the circus?” he asked.

“No,” answered Robert, quietly. “I am not a professional magician, but
we had a professor of magic with us at one time, who took the trouble
to show me a few simple tricks, and these I am ready to perform at the
request of Sidney.”

“You couldn’t please me or the company better,” said Sidney, eagerly.

“I shall have to ask you for a few articles,” said Robert.

“Anything in the house is at your service, Rob.”

So for half an hour Robert amused the company with a few tricks, which
he did exceedingly well, for it was a characteristic of our young
hero to be thorough in all he did. It is unnecessary to enumerate his
tricks, or to describe the interest which the young company manifested.
It is enough to say that when he had finished he had established
himself in the good graces of every one present except Ronald, who,
though as much interested as the rest, was unwilling to admit it.

“We are very much obliged to you, Robert,” said Sidney, warmly. “You
are a capital magician.”

“I would advise you to go into that business,” said Ronald, with his
usual sneer. “I am told it pays very well, and it isn’t as low as the
circus.”

“I shall confine myself to performing for the gratification of my
friends,” said Robert, coolly, ignoring the impertinence of Ronald.

“Can’t you do anything more for us, Robert?” asked Sidney. “Do you
sing?”

“A little,” was the unexpected reply; “that is, I can sing some of the
popular melodies.”

“Pray do.”

“If any one will play the accompaniment.”

A young girl was found to do this, and Robert sang in a clear, musical
voice several popular favorites, which appeared to please no less than
his magical efforts.

“Really, Robert,” said Mrs. Grey, “you are remarkably well fitted to
please a company of young people. We are very much obliged to you.”

“I am glad to have it in my power to do something in return for your
kindness, Mrs. Grey.”

“The boy may belong to the circus,” thought Mrs. Grey, “but I should be
glad if my son were as accomplished, while I could not desire him to be
any more refined.”

Ronald was secretly surprised, and not over well pleased at Robert’s
popularity. He found himself in a minority of one in his sneering
attempts to decry him.

At the end of a week, when Robert was beginning to consider seriously
what employment he should follow in place of the one he had been
compelled to abandon, he received a letter through the mail which
equally surprised and pleased him.

The letter, which was directed in a bold hand to Robert Rudd, care of
Dr. Grey, ran thus:

“ROBERT RUDD: I understand that you have left the circus on
account of the accident you met with recently, and I presume that
you have not yet found anything else to do. I chanced to be at
Crampton and saw you perform, and was favorably impressed by your
appearance. I am about to make a journey to the West, and need the
services of a boy or young man to assist me in writing and serve
me in other ways, and I feel disposed to employ you, if you would
like to accept the engagement. I cannot offer you as high pay as
you probably received at the circus, but am ready to pay your
travelling expenses and pay you five dollars per week.

“Be kind enough to let me know at once whether you will accept my
offer, or rather, if you are favorably disposed, come at once to
New York and call upon me at the St. Nicholas Hotel. You will find
me in room No. 35. I would suggest that the sooner you can come to
me the better.

“Yours truly,
“JOHN FITZGERALD.”

Robert read this letter with mingled surprise and gratification. It
was pleasant to think he would soon be employed and earning his own
livelihood, and he could have thought of no engagement more likely to
suit him.

“What is your letter about, Robert?” asked Sidney.

“Read it for yourself, Sidney,” said Robert, passing it to him. “What
do you think of it?” he asked, later.

“I think it is a splendid chance. I wouldn’t mind having such an offer
myself.”

“I think I am in luck,” said Robert, complacently.

“Then you mean to accept it?”

“Certainly; I should be very foolish if I did not. I have been
wondering what I could get to do, and this comes just in the nick of
time.”

“I am almost sorry the offer has come to you, Robert. I had been
expecting you would stay with me a considerable time.”

“I should be sure to enjoy it if I was willing to be idle, but I have
an independent spirit, and I prefer to earn my own living. I will come
back and visit you some time if you will let me.”

“Let you! I shall quarrel with you if you don’t. Perhaps, however, you
would prefer to visit Ronald Percy.”

“I will wait at any rate till I receive an invitation,” answered
Robert, smiling, for he did not feel in the least sensitive about the
malicious contempt which Ronald professed to feel for him.

“When will you start, Robert?”

“To-morrow morning. Mr. Fitzgerald seems to be in a hurry, and there is
no good reason for delay. My foot is well enough for all ordinary use,
though it would give out if I should attempt riding.”

When Dr. Grey was shown the letter Robert had received, he looked
puzzled.

“Certainly the chance seems to be a good one,” he said, “and doubtless
it will be well to accept it. It is certainly a remarkable piece of
luck.”

“So I consider it,” said Robert.

“I mean, that it is like the events in a story that you should have
such a chance offer from an absolute stranger, just as you stand in
need of it. I should like to see this Mr. Fitzgerald,” he continued,
thoughtfully.

“I think I heard that there was a man of that name staying at the hotel
about a week since,” said Sidney.

“He says he was present when Robert met with his accident.”

“Then it is probably the same one. Then you have decided to accept, my
boy?”

“Yes, sir; I shall go to New York to-morrow.”

“It may be as well. But one thing I want to say: if the engagement
doesn’t prove satisfactory, or you are ever again thrown upon your own
resources, come back to us and you will have a cordial welcome.”

“Yes, Rob, you may be sure of that,” said Sidney, eagerly.

“You are both very kind to me,” returned Robert, gratefully, “and I
will take you at your word. By the way, Dr. Grey, I want to ask you a
favor.”

“It is granted as soon as asked, my boy.”

“It is only to keep the two hundred dollars I have saved up for the
present. It will be safer in your hands than mine, and I shan’t need
it, as all my expenses are to be paid by my new employer, and five
dollars a week besides.”

“I will keep it for you if you desire.”

“Thank you; if I had it I might have it stolen from me, and besides it
would make me uncomfortable to feel that I had so much money about me.”

“I see you are prudent. I have one good reason for keeping it, as you
will one day come back and reclaim it.”

The next morning Robert started for New York.

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