Magic Belt

“Ozma! Where is Ozma? I must see her at once–immediately!”

The Soldier with the Green Whiskers had run all the way from the
gates of the Emerald City of Oz to the Royal Palace with his whiskers
streaming at least six feet behind him. Now that he had arrived at the
palace, he was panting and wild-eyed with excitement.

“Whatever is the matter with you, Omby Amby?” asked Jellia Jamb,
Ozma’s dainty little maid, eyeing the distraught Guardian of the Gates
with undisguised curiosity.

Omby Amby groaned. “Something terrible has happened. I must report it
to Ozma at once.”

“Can’t you give me just an inkling of what it is?” coaxed Jellia.

“No,” replied Omby Amby firmly. The Soldier, who was Ozma’s Royal Army,
was rapidly regaining his composure–and his breath–after his wild
dash through the emerald-studded streets of the city.

“Well, then come along,” replied Jellia Jamb with a sigh. “I suppose I
shall have to wait for Ozma to tell me what has upset you so terribly.”

The little maid led the way down the corridors of the Royal Palace
until she came to a large double door. Here she knocked and a moment
later Ozma’s voice answered: “Come in.”

Jellia Jamb opened the door and the Soldier with the Green Whiskers
followed her into the room. This was Ozma’s library, where the shelves
that rose from the floor to the ceiling were filled with Magic Books
of Records. The little ruler of Oz was seated at a table, deep in the
study of one of the books. She looked up questioningly as Omby Amby
stood before her. Jellia Jamb silently departed, closing the door
behind her.

“Your Highness,” began Omby Amby, “it is my painful duty to report a
most regrettable misfortune.”

“What is it, Omby Amby,” asked Ozma with a kindly smile. “What has
happened?”

“It’s the Love Magnet, your Highness,” gulped the Soldier. “It’s been
broken!”

“Broken!” exclaimed Ozma, rising from her chair. “How could that ever
have happened?”

“It was the nail,” explained Omby Amby miserably. “If your highness
will recall the Love Magnet has been hanging from a nail over the Gates
of the Emerald City for many years–in fact, ever since the Shaggy Man
came to live in the Land of Oz.”

“Yes, I know,” said Ozma.

“Well,” went on the Soldier, “the nail must have rusted and this
morning it snapped. The Love Magnet fell to the bricks of the Yellow
Road and broke into two pieces.”

Ozma’s face was grave. “You brought the pieces with you?” she asked.

“Yes, your Highness, I did,” replied Omby Amby. Delving into one of his
pockets, he handed Ozma the two pieces of the Love Magnet, a small bit
of metal, shaped like a horseshoe when it was whole.

Ozma held the broken Love Magnet in her hand, regarding it sadly. “It
is too bad,” she said, “that so wonderful a charm should be broken.”

“Do you mean it can’t be repaired, your Highness?” asked Omby Amby.

“Of that I am not sure,” replied Ozma. “Perhaps the first thing we
should do is ask the Shaggy Man to come here and explain to him how the
Love Magnet came to be broken, since it does, after all, really belong
to him.”

“I will go for him immediately,” said the Soldier, turning to the door.

“You will find him in the garden with Dorothy and Jack Pumpkinhead, who
is trying on a new head,” said Ozma, as Omby Amby made a low bow and
closed the door behind him.

By luck, Ozma reflected, the Shaggy Man was in the Emerald City. She
knew that Shaggy was fond of making long trips about the Land of Oz,
exploring the little-known corners and regions of this most famous of
all Fairylands. Now he had just returned from a visit with his brother
who was in the Gillikin Country. While she waited, Ozma recalled how
the Shaggy Man had befriended Dorothy in the Great Outside World and
had found his way to the Land of Oz in the company of little Dorothy.
With him he had brought the Love Magnet, a curious magical talisman,
which caused whoever carried it to be loved by all he met. Shaggy had
gratefully accepted Ozma’s invitation to make his home in the Land
of Oz, and since he had no further need for the Love Magnet, Ozma
had caused it to be hung over the Gates of the Emerald City so that
all who entered might be loving and loved. Before she had done this,
however, Ozma had wisely altered the powers of the Love Magnet so that
the talisman did not automatically cause the person who carried it to
be loved by all he met, but must be _displayed_ by its carrier before
the eyes of the person or persons whose love he wished to win. Thus,
control of the powers of the Magnet were given to its owner. All this
had happened so long ago that it was now duly written down in Professor
Wogglebug’s Chronicles of the Land of Oz.

Ozma’s reflections were ended by the appearance of Omby Amby and the
Shaggy Man who had no idea that anything was the matter.

“Dorothy said to tell you, your Highness, that it’s one of the best
heads Jack ever had,” the Shaggy Man announced with satisfaction, as he
entered the room. “Dorothy’s fitting it on Jack’s body now.”

“Won’t you sit down, please, Shaggy Man?” invited Ozma.

The little Ruler’s expression was so serious that the Shaggy Man asked
with concern, “What is it, Ozma? What’s wrong?”

Ozma answered silently by extending her palm on which lay the halves of
the broken Love Magnet.

The Shaggy Man’s eyes clouded. “Oh, that _is_ too bad. I was very fond
of the Love Magnet. It always made me feel happy whenever I entered or
left the Emerald City. How did it come to be broken?”

Ozma explained in a few words what had happened.

“But can’t the Love Magnet be repaired?” asked the Shaggy Man. “I
should think it would be an easy matter for you or the Wizard or Glinda
to put it together again as good as new.”

“No,” Ozma shook her head. “It isn’t as simple as that. A long time
ago I looked up the history of the Love Magnet in my Magic Record
Books and I found that, if broken, it could be made whole only by one
person–the person who created it.”

“And who,” asked the Shaggy Man with deep interest, “is that?”

“It has been so long ago,” admitted Ozma, “that I have forgotten who it
was. But I can look it up in a few seconds.”

Ozma moved to the far side of the library, where she selected one of
the Magic Record Books and opened it on a table. After turning the
pages until she found the one containing the Love Magnet’s history,
Ozma ran her finger down the finely printed column.

“Here it is,” she announced. “The man who made the Love Magnet, and the
only person who can repair it, is a Wizard named Conjo, who lives on a
tiny island in the middle of the Nonestic Ocean.”

Omby Amby had returned to his post at the Gates of the Emerald City and
Ozma and the Shaggy Man had retired to the Chamber of Magic. Here were
kept many of the most valuable magical instruments in all the Land of
Oz.

“There is only one thing to be done,” the Shaggy Man was saying. “I
must take the broken Love Magnet to this Conjo and ask him to repair
it.”

“I am not sure at all that Conjo will agree to repair the Love Magnet
for you,” Ozma replied with a troubled expression. “You see, we know
very little about this Conjo. He lives alone on this tiny island in the
middle of the Nonestic Ocean and practices magic. There is no record of
his actually misusing his magical powers. Nor, so far as we know, has
he caused trouble for anyone. However, we have reason to believe he is
rather selfish and thoughtless and that he might cause harm, without
really meaning to, just to satisfy his vanity. Also, it might not suit
his whim to mend the Love Magnet.”

“What is the name of the island on which Conjo lives?” asked the Shaggy
Man musingly.

“It is called the Isle of Conjo, and since it is many miles from the
Land of Oz, I have no power over the Wizard at all. In fact,” concluded
Ozma, “that is the reason we here in the Land of Oz know so little
about Conjo.”

“Nevertheless,” maintained the Shaggy Man, “I think I should go as soon
as possible to this island and do everything I can to persuade Conjo to
make the Love Magnet whole.”

“Even after you crossed the Deadly Desert, you would have several
days’ journey through the Land of Ev, and then you would only be on the
shores of the Nonestic Ocean. So, I think it would be best, since you
are determined to make the journey, for me to use the Magic Belt to
transport you directly to the Isle of Conjo.”

The Shaggy Man willingly agreed to this plan, stating that he was ready
to leave at once.

“First,” said Ozma, “let us have a look at the Isle of Conjo in the
Magic Picture.”

The girl Ruler swept aside the velvet curtain that hung over the Magic
Picture when it was not in use. The picture appeared to be a peaceful,
country farmland scene with purple hills rising in the distance. “Show
us the Isle of Conjo in the Nonestic Ocean,” said Ozma.

Immediately the picture shifted and changed. It now reflected a gently
rolling meadowland with a great castle in the distance. Approaching
the castle were a young girl and a boy, accompanied by the figure of a
little wooden clown.

Ozma gasped in surprise. “Those are human children, Shaggy Man! What
can they be doing there when my Magic Record Books state that Conjo
is the only human being on the island? We can see that the clown
accompanying them is a puppet, evidently brought to life by Conjo.”

“Perhaps they are lost,” ventured the Shaggy Man.

“But how would they get to the island? It is surrounded by miles and
miles of ocean.”

“I don’t know,” admitted the Shaggy Man, “but it is one more good
reason for me to go there as quickly as possible–those children may be
in need of help.”

“I agree with you,” said Ozma quickly. “You must find out what the
children are doing on the island and see that they are returned to
their homes. If you cannot do that, then you must bring them with you
to the Land of Oz.”

“Will you use the Magic Belt to transport us back to the Land of Oz?”
asked the Shaggy Man.

“That will be impossible,” stated Ozma, “since I must leave this
afternoon to visit Glinda the Good. We are working on some extremely
important magic charms in which the powers of the Magic Belt are
needed. I am not sure how long I will be gone–perhaps for several
weeks.

“However,” Ozma went on, as she stepped to a heavy wooden chest, opened
one of its drawers, and withdrew a small object, “I want you to take
this with you. It will enable you to return to the Land of Oz anytime
you wish.”

“What is it?” asked the Shaggy Man curiously.

“It is a Magic Compass,” explained Ozma. “You will notice that it
is not round in shape like ordinary compasses, but is formed like a
rectangle, as is the Land of Oz.”

Shaggy looked at the Magic Compass and found that instead of being
marked, North, South, East, and West as is the usual compass, it bore
the words, Gillikin, Quadling, Winkie, and Munchkin, which are the
four countries making up the Land of Oz.

“Should you wish to return to any one of the four countries,” Ozma
went on, “just set the compass needle to the one to which you wish to
journey. If you want to come directly to the Emerald City, you have
only to spin the needle of the compass, and you will be here as quickly
as the Magic Belt could bring you.”

The Shaggy Man inspected the Magic Compass more closely and found that
the pivot on which the needle rested, rose from a spot of green in the
very center of the compass. This green spot, he knew, represented the
Emerald City.

“But what about the children?” the Shaggy Man asked. “If I can find no
way to send them home, I cannot simply leave them on the island.”

“Of course not,” replied Ozma. “If you think it necessary to bring them
to Oz with you, just have them put their arms in yours; then spin the
compass needle, and all three of you will be transported to the Emerald
City.”

The Shaggy Man placed the Magic Compass carefully in his pocket and
said: “Perhaps it would be well for me to be on my way. There’s no
telling what will happen on that island and those two children may
need help.”

Ozma slipped on the Magic Belt. “Goodbye, dear friend,” she said,
smiling fondly at the Shaggy Man. “Return as quickly as you can.” Then
she made the magic signal, and the Shaggy Man was no longer in the
Chamber of Magic.

Continue Reading

On the Isle of Conjo

“It just isn’t fair,” declared Tom, staring unhappily through the
window at the heavy rain pelting the lawn and garden about the house.

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it so we might as well make the
best of it,” replied Twink philosophically.

“But I wanted to go outdoors and play this afternoon–you know we have
only a few more weeks until school starts. Besides, I’m sick and tired
of this old house and of every single thing we have to play with.”

Almost as if he understood Tom’s words, Twoffle, the children’s wooden
clown, tumbled over on his face in the corner where he had been
standing neglected.

“Now look what you’ve done! You’ve hurt Twoffle’s feelings,” accused
Twink reprovingly as she hastened to stand the funny little clown erect
again in his corner of the room.

Twink was especially fond of Twoffle. The little wooden clown, with
his hinged joints and gaudily painted features and clothing, had been
a part of their lives almost as long as Twink could remember. He had
taken part in many of their games, and being constructed of a fine
grade of durable wood, he had outlasted many other more fragile toys
that had come and gone.

Twink and Tom were twins. They lived in a large, comfortable house in
the city of Buffalo, New York, with their Mother and Father and Rosie
the cook.

This afternoon the house was very quiet. Twink’s and Tom’s father,
Professor Jones, was at work at the University, where he taught young
people all about electrons, atoms, molecules, and other mysterious
matters. Mrs. Jones was attending a meeting of her Club of Lady
Voters. Rosie, the cook, dozed in her warm kitchen, nodding over the
latest issue of a fashion magazine.

So it was no wonder the twins were a bit lonesome. The rain streamed
down the window monotonously and it seemed the afternoon would drag on
forever.

Twink glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was a little Dutch cottage
clock and the hands indicated it was almost three o’clock. Twink was
struck with a sudden idea.

“Come on, Tom!” she called. “Look at the time. If we don’t hurry we’ll
miss Chapter Four of Buffalo Bill Rides Again!”

Tom came to life immediately, and in an instant both children were
dashing down the broad stairway and into the library.

Here was the solution to their dull afternoon–a television set that
Professor Jones had built himself and installed in the library. It was
a very special set with a large “projection screen.” The glass tube of
the television set enlarged the picture on the screen. At three o’clock
each afternoon Twink and Tom could see another chapter in the exciting
moving picture serial of the wild west. The children were sure, of
course, that Buffalo Bill had been named after their own city, and this
made the picture all the more interesting.

Tom was busily turning knobs and dials and making adjustments. In a
few seconds the big screen lighted up with a bluish-green glare and
a moment later the pictures appeared. Buffalo Bill was ambushed by a
wildly howling mob of Redskins who were on the war-path. There was no
doubt in Twink’s and Tom’s minds that the famous scout would emerge
unharmed while the Indians would take to noisy flight.

But just as Buffalo Bill brought his rifle to his shoulder and was
sighting the nearest Redskin, something happened.

The flickering motion picture vanished from the television screen,
and in its place appeared a picture that made the children gasp. It
was one of the most beautiful scenes they could imagine: a peaceful,
rolling meadowland, bright with all kinds of wild-flowers on which the
sun shown down from a blue sky dotted with white, baby clouds. In the
distance rose the spires and minarets of a great castle, glittering and
glistening in the sunlight.

But it was not the castle or the sunny meadowland that held the
children’s attention.

Twink and Tom stared unbelievingly at a figure that stood in the center
of the television picture looking out at them with the most familiar of
smiles.

It was Twoffle, their wooden clown.

“Good afternoon, children,” said the clown quite clearly and calmly.

“G-g-g-good afternoon!” stammered Twink and Tom.

The little clown suddenly doubled up with merriment and then gasped:
“If you could only see yourselves! You’re all eyes–positively bug-eyed
if I ever saw anyone who was!”

“But what are you doing in the television picture?” asked Twink,
regaining a little of her composure.

The clown disregarded her question and was suddenly serious. “Come on,”
he ordered. “Conjo can hold this picture only a few minutes and you
just have time to walk through.”

“Walk through?” echoed Tom. “What do you mean?”

“Start walking toward the television screen and you’ll find out,”
answered the clown. “Or perhaps,” he added, “you would rather stay
there where it is raining and you can’t go outdoors.”

“But you’re only a picture,” objected Twink.

“Will you please do as I tell you and start walking toward the
television screen?” asked the clown sternly.

Twink and Tom looked at each other questioningly. Tom smiled and
shrugged. “Might as well try it–can’t do any harm,” he said.

“That’s the spirit!” exclaimed the little clown, smiling again. “Just
join hands and walk straight toward me.”

Tom took Twink’s hand and the two children slowly advanced toward the
television screen. The screen was nearly five feet high–several inches
taller than the children–and almost six feet wide. So vivid and real
was the picture that Twink imagined she could really walk right into it.

Just as the children were about to take the last step that would bring
them directly in front of the television screen, a sudden powerful gust
of wind hit their backs and sent them tumbling forward.

“This is where we’ll catch it,” thought Tom, sure that the wind must
have blown them into the screen. He sat up, fully expecting to see the
expensive screen torn to shreds.

Instead he saw an expanse of rolling meadowland, and he felt the warm
sun beating down on his head. Twink was sitting beside him on the
green grass, staring about in utter bewilderment. Before them stood the
clown, smiling broadly.

“It’s magic,” breathed Twink, “pure magic.”

“Well, it’s magic, all right,” answered the clown, “but I wouldn’t say
how pure it is.”

“But what has become of our library, and how did we get here, and how
can this be real, and why is it you’re not upstairs in my room?” The
questions tumbled out almost faster than Twink could ask them.

“One question at a time, please,” said the clown, “and I’ll try to
answer. Your library is right where it always is. This can be real
because it _is_ real. And I am not in your room because I belong here.”

“But, Twoffle,” protested Tom, “we left you in Twink’s room not fifteen
minutes ago.”

“You didn’t leave me there, and don’t call me Twoffle,” objected the
clown.

By this time Twink and Tom were standing up and brushing off their
clothes. “But you _are_ our Twoffle, you know,” stated the girl. “We
have had you for years and years.”

“I am not your Twoffle–of all the silly names,” said the clown with
some irritation. “I am my own Twiffle.”

“Then how is it you look so much like our Twoffle?” asked Tom, who
noted the clown was the same size as Twoffle and looked like his double.

“I was about to tell you,” explained the clown, “that my name is
Twiffle, and Twoffle is my third cousin.”

“Oh, so then you know Twoffle?” asked Twink curiously.

“Know him?” replied Twiffle. “Of course I know him. And I also know you
two very well. Many nights Twoffle and I have sat in your rooms with
the moonlight streaming through the window and talked by the hour while
you children slept.”

Twink and Tom said nothing. They were busy thinking. All this was so
strange and had happened so unexpectedly and suddenly that they were
still bewildered. Tom’s eyes were puzzled as he asked: “Just before we
came through the screen, you said something about Conjo being able to
‘hold the picture for only a few minutes.’ Who is Conjo?”

Twiffle was suddenly alert. “That reminds me,” he said, “that we must
be on our way at once. Conjo is expecting you and we mustn’t keep him
waiting.”

Without another word, Twiffle started walking across the grass. The
children followed.

“But who is this Conjo, and where does he live?” asked Twink.

“And what does he want with us?” added Tom.

Without pausing to look at the children, Twiffle answered: “Conjo is
a Wizard–the sole ruler of this island, the Isle of Conjo. He lives
in the castle you can see in the distance. What he wants with you, he
will undoubtedly tell you himself.” With this, the little clown flashed
Twink and Tom a bright smile and then walked steadily on toward the
glittering castle.

Twink found that she had no trouble at all in keeping up with Twiffle,
because his legs were so short and his stride so small. She had plenty
of time to pause occasionally and gather the colorful wild flowers that
dotted the green meadowland.

Continue Reading

I will agree to any conditions

Three days later, in the early evening, Loammi Little met Harold in the
street.

“Hi, you boy!” he said, with malicious pleasure; “you lost your place at
my father’s store, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” answered Harold, calmly.

“That will teach you to treat me with respect hereafter.”

“I suppose I am indebted to you for getting me discharged.”

“Yes,” answered Loammi, with a smile.

“Then I want to thank you.”

“To thank me!” exclaimed Loammi, in surprise.

“Yes, for I have now a better place.”

“Where?”

“With Tower, Douglas & Co.”

“Did Scott Walton get it for you?” asked Loammi, quickly.

“Yes.”

“Then he had better mind his own business. My father may get him
discharged from his place there.”

“That is more than he can do. Mr. Tower puts great confidence in Scott.”

“Do you know what he pays him?”

“Forty dollars a week.”

“Nonsense!” said Loammi, angrily.

“It is true.”

“Then Mr. Tower is a fool.”

“Why don’t you call and tell him so?”

A really mean person can receive no heavier blow than to find his
malicious attempt to injure another of no avail. This was the case with
Loammi.

When he was forced to believe that Scott really received the high salary
he had contemptuously scoffed at, he became more discontented than ever.
He tried to get his father to increase his allowance, but without
success. He was mortified to find that even Harold vied with him in
dress.

“How these beggarly upstarts are coming up!” he said to himself,
bitterly. “It makes me sick.”

But a heavier blow was in store for him. Dull times came in business,
retail trade fell off, and one morning it was announced in the papers
that the great house of Ezra Little had suspended.

Mr. Little made desperate efforts to secure financial assistance, but in
vain. No one liked him, and it looked as if he was irretrievably ruined.

When things looked darkest, a plain-looking old man entered the store,
and asked to see Mr. Little.

“Seth Lawton!” exclaimed the merchant. “I can’t see you. I am very
busy.”

“I hear you are in trouble,” said Cousin Seth.

“And I suppose you are glad of it,” replied Ezra, bitterly.

“No, I have come to help you,” responded Mr. Lawton.

“You help me!” repeated Ezra, scornfully. “What good will a few hundred
dollars do?”

“How much help do you need?”

“With forty thousand dollars I could weather the storm handsomely,”
replied Mr. Little.

“You shall have it, if you will secure me well.”

“Have you got forty thousand dollars? I thought you a poor man.”

“It isn’t the only mistake you have made, Cousin Ezra. At the time you
looked down upon me I was richer than yourself. But I will only help you
on conditions.”

“I will agree to any conditions,” said Ezra, his pride humbled. “Only
help me out of my present trouble.”

So the house of Ezra Little was saved, and its head received a lesson.
His pride had had a fall. Those whom he looked down upon proved to
surpass him in the only thing on which he prided himself–the possession
of money.

One of Cousin Seth’s conditions was that Loammi should go into his
father’s store, and exchange his elegant leisure for honest work. He
complained a good deal, but Seth Lawton and his father insisted. He may
in time become a useful, hard-working man of business, but he has a good
deal to learn first.

Scott continues to prosper, and next year will become a partner in the
firm of Tower, Douglas & Co. Harold is earning a good salary now, and
his father’s troubles are over. He gets more remunerative work at his
profession, and, with his family, occupies a pleasant home in Bayonne.

Mr. Lawton has leased a handsome house uptown, and Scott lives with him.
He is rich–how rich no one knows–and Scott is generally supposed to be
his heir.

Continue Reading

THE SEALED PACKET

One day, in looking over his trunk, Scott’s eye fell on the sealed
packet, referred to at the opening of this story, which was inscribed:

_For my Son._

_To be opened a year from my death._

Singularly, the next day would be the anniversary of his father’s
passing away.

Scott had been so busy that he had given little thought to this packet.
Now his interest was excited, and the next day he broke the seal, and
read the letter which it contained.

It ran thus:

“MY DEAR SCOTT: When you open this packet twelve months will have
passed, and I hope you will be in a position to live comfortably on
your earnings. I assume that you will be in the employ of Ezra
Little, who I understand is well to do, and who will not, I think,
turn his back upon a needy relative.

“You will find nothing in this letter that will provide for your
future prospects. Indeed, I wish to pass on to you a debt which I
am unable to pay.

“During early manhood, I received many favors from a young man
named Robert Kent, who afterward emigrated to America. I heard a
report two years since that he had been unfortunate, and that his
family was suffering. I should like to be able to help him in
memory of the past, but my life is nearing the end. Should you ever
fall in with Mr. Kent or his family, if you can do anything for
them on your father’s account, I shall be very glad. It may seem
strange that I give you this legacy of duty, considering that I
leave you well-nigh penniless, but I have confidence that sooner or
later you will succeed, and I hope you may be in a position to help
my early friend or his family.

“The only clew I can give you as to my old friend’s whereabouts is,
that he was an artist by profession, and that he went to New York.
Probably, if living, he is in that city, or near it. You may not be
in a position to help him, but I should like to have you make his
acquaintance, and tell him that I have not forgotten him or his
past kindness.”

There was something more, but this was the substance of the letter. It
was sufficient to interest Scott greatly.

“I wish I could find my father’s friend,” he reflected. “Though but a
year has passed, I am amply able to pay the debt which my poor father
owed. It would be pleasant, besides, to see one of his friends.”

Naturally, Scott’s first reference was to the New York directory. He
found numerous Kents, but none that seemed likely to be Robert Kent.
There was no artist of that name included in the list.

He thought of advertising, but this would involve a greater degree of
publicity than he desired, and might lead to attempted imposture.

A month passed, and Scott was as perplexed as ever. To seek for any
particular man in a crowded city like New York was like seeking a needle
in a haystack. Besides, he might have left New York and gone to some
other city, perhaps to the West.

Yet the man of whom he was in search was, at that very moment, occupying
a shabby lodging on Bleecker Street, with his wife and two children.
Moreover, his son, a boy a few months younger than Scott, was employed
by Ezra Little, in his Eighth Avenue store, at a salary of three
dollars a week.

Let us look in upon the Kents in their humble home.

The apartments consisted of three rooms, after the usual fashion of New
York tenements. In the one large room, sitting in a big rocking-chair,
was a man of middle age, with an expression of pain upon his delicate
and refined features. He had been for some time the victim of a
rheumatic affection which at times prevented him from working.

At half-past six the door opened, and a slender, dark-haired boy entered
the room.

“How do you feel, father?” asked the boy, with a glance of sympathy
toward his suffering parent.

“No better, Harold. It is very trying to be tied hand and foot by pain
when I ought to be at work.”

“If your father would worry less,” said Mrs. Kent, a pleasant-looking
woman, somewhat younger than her husband, “he would be more likely to
get well.”

“How can I help worrying, Clara? We are barely able to live when I can
work. Now, with only Harold’s wages coming in, it is difficult to tell
how we shall come out. Did you ask Mr. Little if he would raise you,
Harold?”

“Yes, father; but he only shook his head, and told me he could get
plenty of boys at the wages he paid me, and perhaps for less.”

“Yet he is rich,” said Mr. Kent, bitterly. “He and his can live on the
fat of the land.”

“Has he a son?” asked Mrs. Kent.

“Yes, mother. He has one son–Loammi.”

“Do you know him?”

“Yes, a little.”

“What sort of a boy is he?”

“He is the most disagreeable boy I ever met When he comes to the store
he struts through it as if he were a prince.”

“His father was poor enough in the old country.”

“He is rich now.”

“If I were rich now, I would only be too glad to help those who were
less fortunate than myself. I had one friend in England, an artist, like
myself, John Walton, who would have done the same. I wish he were in
Ezra Little’s place.”

“Did he have a son named Scott.”

“I think it probable. He married a Scott.”

“Then he may be in New York. I have heard that there was a boy named
Scott Walton in the store a year since.”

“That must be his son,” said Mr. Kent, eagerly. “Is he in the store
now?”

“No. I understand that he and Loammi could not get along together, and
he was discharged. But I was told that his father was dead.”

“Poor Walton! I am sorry to hear it. It seems to me that it is those who
best deserve to live who are summoned first.”

“Harold,” said his mother, “will you go to the grocery at the corner and
get a quarter of a pound of tea and half a pound of butter?”

“Yes, mother, but–shall I pay for them?”

“Ask Mr. Muller to trust us till Saturday night, when you get your
week’s salary.”

Harold took his hat and went downstairs.

The grocery store was kept by a stout, good natured German named Muller.
It was a small place, but Herr Muller did a thriving trade.

Harold entered the store and preferred his request.

“And how is your poor father, Harold?” asked the grocer.

“He is in a good deal of pain from rheumatism, Mr. Muller.”

“That is too bad. And how is business with him?”

“Very poor,” answered Harold, soberly.

“That is bad. How much does he charge now for a portrait?”

“Ten dollars.”

“I have been thinking I might get him to paint me. In a month, my wife
and I will be twenty-five years married. That is what they call a silver
wedding. Gretchen wants to have my portrait to show our friends on that
occasion.”

“My father will be very glad to paint it, Mr. Muller.”

“But he can’t work now.”

“He will soon be able, I am sure.”

“Well, if he can do it in time. We wouldn’t like to be disappointed.”

“I am sure he will do his best.”

Harold carried home the welcome intelligence to his father. It made Mr.
Kent somewhat more cheerful.

Ten dollars would help him not a little, though the time had been when
he received seventy-five dollars for a portrait no better than he
produced now for ten.

“Now, father, you must get well as soon as you can,” said Harold.

“Ah, no need to say that.”

“I am afraid your father will only worry the more if he finds that he
is not soon in a condition to work.”

“It seems so little to make a portrait for ten dollars,” added Mrs.
Kent.

“I should only be too glad if I could get all the work I could do at
that price.”

The new order somewhat cheered the poor artist. Once, in his early days,
he was ambitious, and hoped for a reputation; but long since his
ambitions had faded, and he was content and glad to work for a bare
livelihood.

Even now, he would not have succeeded but for the small help his son was
able to give him. Three dollars a week in many an unfortunate household
in the metropolis plays an important part in the finances of a poor
family.

But a new trial was in store for the Kent family. The next day, just
before the store closed, Loammi visited it.

He wanted to ask a favor of his father, and as he walked through the
store he looked about him with the air of a prince of the blood royal.
It happened that as he passed along he managed to drop his handkerchief.
Instead of picking it up himself, he signaled to Harold Kent to do it.

“Pick up my handkerchief, boy!” he said, in a lofty tone.

“I can’t leave my place behind the counter.”

“Pick it up, I say!” said Loammi, stamping his foot.

“That is not what I am hired to do,” retorted Harold, indignant at the
other’s tone.

“What is your name?”

“Harold Kent.”

“I won’t forget it,” said Loammi, significantly.

When, on Saturday night, Harold was paid his weekly wages he was told
that he need not report for duty on Monday morning.

“Why is this?” asked Harold, in dismay.

“Loammi has complained of you,” he was told.

It was too late to appeal to the superintendent, and Harold left the
store, grief-stricken and discouraged.

Walking along Eighth Avenue, Scott Walton saw a boy coming out of Ezra
Little’s store with sad face and eyes red as with weeping. The boy was
poorly dressed, and Scott’s experience of poverty had been so recent
that he felt quick sympathy.

“Are you in trouble? Can I assist you?” he asked, kindly.

Harold turned to see who was addressing him.

“I have just lost my place,” he said, briefly.

“Were you working for Mr. Little?”

“Yes.”

“How did you lose your place? Tell me, if you don’t mind.”

“I offended Mr. Little’s son, Loammi. He got me discharged.”

“I am not surprised to hear it. Loammi got me discharged some months
ago.”

“You!” exclaimed Harold, in surprise, for he noticed that Scott was
handsomely dressed.

“Yes.”

“But you are not a poor boy. You do not mind it.”

“I was a poor boy then. How much salary did you receive?”

“Three dollars a week.”

“I think I can promise you five dollars a week with another firm.”

“Can you?” asked Harold, overjoyed. “But how can you? You are only a
boy.”

Scott smiled.

“I have some influence with the firm of Tower, Douglas & Co. I think
they will take you on at my request. But where do you live, and what is
your name?”

“I live at 940 Bleecker Street, and my name is Harold Kent.”

“You are not related to Robert Kent?” said Scott, in excitement.

“He is my father.”

“He is an Englishman, is he not?”

“Yes; do you know him?”

“Not yet, but I mean to. If you are going home, take me with you.”

“I shall be glad to do so, but may I ask your name?”

“My name is Scott Walton. Our fathers were friends, and I will be your
father’s friend.”

“I have heard my father speak of your family. He will be delighted to
see you–and is your father living?”

“No; father is dead. I judge that you are poor.”

“Yes, very poor. My father is an artist, but he has very little to do.
Lately he has taken to portrait painting, but he only gets ten dollars
for a portrait. Now he is sick with rheumatism and cannot work.”

“Cheer up, Harold! Better times are in store for you. I am prosperous,
and my father commissioned me to seek you out and help you.”

Scott followed Harold up into the poor apartment occupied by his father.
As he entered the room, Mr. Kent looked in surprise at his companion.
“Is this one of your fellow clerks, Harold?” he asked.

“No, father. I have been discharged from Mr. Little’s store, and I have
no fellow clerks.”

Mr. Kent’s countenance fell.

“Then we have no income,” he said, sadly. “It only needed this blow. Why
were you discharged?”

“It was on account of Loammi Little, but don’t be troubled, father. I
am to have a better place, at five dollars a week.”

“Who will give it to you?”

“I will see that he has such a place, Mr. Kent,” said Scott.

“But–why should you feel an interest in my poor boy?”

“Because my name is Scott Walton, and you were a friend of my poor
father.”

“Not John Walton’s son?”

“Yes; I have been looking for you for a month. This evening fortune
threw your son in my way. He tells me that you have been unfortunate.”

“I am sick and out of work, but you–you look prosperous.”

“I am.”

“Did your father leave property?”

“No, but I have met with good friends.”

“Has Ezra Little treated you better than he has Harold?”

“Ezra Little took me into his store, and after a few week discharged me,
as a result of Loammi’s meanness and falsehood. I met with other
friends, secured another situation, and I am able to help you, Mr. Kent.
I want you to find better rooms.”

“But I cannot pay the rent of these.”

Scott drew out his pocketbook and selected five ten-dollar bills.

“Take this,” he said, “and when you have moved I will see what more I
can do for you.”

“Fifty dollars!” ejaculated the artist, in amazement. “Can you afford
this?”

“Easily. I will tell you later how I have prospered.”

“Won’t you stop and eat supper with us, Mr. Walton?” asked Mrs. Kent.

“Gladly, if you will call me Scott. I want to ask Mr. Kent about his
early acquaintance with my poor father.”

The evening was spent in social chat, and it was ten o’clock before
Scott left his new friends.

“I shall expect to see you on Monday morning at the store, Harold,” he
said, as he went away.

Continue Reading

INVENTION

Four days later, Scott received the following note:

“DEAR SCOTT: I am at the Windsor Hotel. Can you call this evening?
WINDERMERE.”

Scott lost no time in responding to the invitation. He was greeted with
the greatest cordiality.

“I am delighted to see you,” said the earl. “I missed you more than I
anticipated after you left me. Now I have a favor to ask.”

“What is it?” asked Scott.

“I have taken a suite of rooms here, and I have set aside a bedroom for
you. I shall be in the city for four weeks, and I want you with me.”

“I am afraid you have forgotten that I am only a boy working for my
living.”

“No; I don’t forget it. I respect you more for it. In fact, Scott, I
want your company. Will you come?”

“Thank you, Mr. Grant–I can’t refuse. I seem to forget that you are an
earl.”

“That is what I wish.”

Just then there was a knock at the door, and a hall boy entered with a
card.

The person whose name it bore came up directly afterward.

He brought a dinner invitation from a well-known social club. The earl
good-naturedly accepted.

The visitor regarded Scott inquiringly.

“Is this young gentleman one of your party, my lord?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. It is my young friend, Mr. Scott Walton.”

“Then I am authorized to include him in the invitation.”

Scott looked at the earl inquiringly.

“I accept for him,” said the earl, promptly.

He smiled when his visitor left the room.

“You are in for it, Scott,” he said. “I advise you to order a dress suit
at once, if you are not provided with one.”

“Won’t the club think they are imposed upon when they find that I am
only a humble business boy?”

“You are not invited on that ground, but as my intimate friend.”

“Then, Mr. Grant, I will throw the whole responsibility upon you,” said
Scott, smiling.

“I will accept it. How will it do for me to dub you Sir Scott Walton?”

“It might embarrass me in my business.”

“True. Then you shall be plain Mr. Walton. Mind that you get a handsome
suit. It will be expected, as you belong to my party.”

One of the leading New York dailies, a few days later, in describing the
dinner, after giving the earl’s modest little speech, continued thus:
“The earl was accompanied by a handsome young gentleman, Mr. Scott
Walton, who is understood to be a near relative. Mr. Walton was called
upon for a speech, but modestly declined.”

When Ezra Little read this paragraph, he was immensely surprised.

“Read that, Loammi,” he said.

“What a humbug that boy is!” said Loammi, much disgusted.

“Humbug or not, he has got into the best society and his success
reflects credit upon us, his cousins.”

“The idea of his palming himself off as a relative of the earl!”

“Perhaps he didn’t. It was probably a conjecture of the reporter.”

“I don’t believe it. I feel sure Scott put him up to it. I’d like to
tell him it is all a mistake.”

“I won’t allow you to do anything of the sort. As the matter stands, it
may lead to the supposition that we also are related to the earl.”

This seemed such a clever idea that Ezra determined to act upon it.

When one of his business acquaintances inquired whether Scott was really
a connection of the earl’s, he answered: “He is related to me, and there
may also be a distant relationship to the earl. Probably the earl
authorized the statement.”

“Why don’t you invite the earl to dinner?”

“Egad, I will!” exclaimed the merchant.

The next day Scott received the following note from Mr. Little:

“DEAR SCOTT: Can you induce your friend, the earl, to accept an
invitation to dinner at our house any day next week? It would give
me great pleasure, as an Englishman born, to pay some attention to
so distinguished a representative of my native country. The choice
of the day rests entirely with the earl. We shall be only too glad
to receive him at any time.

“Sincerely, your cousin, EZRA LITTLE.”

Scott showed this letter to the earl.

The earl smiled.

“I am glad,” he said, “that I have been the means of so cordially
uniting your cousin and yourself. Of course, I know that I am only
invited as your friend.”

Scott laughed.

“That didn’t occur to me,” he said.

“But as to accepting the invitation,” continued the earl, “I am afraid I
cannot. Should I accept Mr. Little’s invitation, I should be overwhelmed
by similar invitations from other parties.”

“He will be terribly disappointed.”

“I can partially make it up to him. I will secure a box at one of the
theatres for some evening next week, and invite your uncle’s family to
join our party. That will involve no embarrassment.”

“I am sure Cousin Ezra will be delighted to accept.”

“Then I will make out an invitation which I will send by you. I will
also invite Mr. Tower, your senior employer, as it may help you with
him.”

“It will, I am sure.”

When Scott called at his uncle’s house, Ezra inquired, eagerly: “Did you
receive my note?”

“Yes, Cousin Ezra.”

“Will the earl accept my invitation?”

“He would be glad to do so, but it would bring upon him so many others
that it would prove embarrassing.”

Mr. Little’s face fell.

“Can’t you influence him to accept?” he asked, with a degree of
deference that was new to Scott.

“No, but he sends you an invitation.”

Scott put in Mr. Little’s hands this missive:

“The Earl of Windermere will be glad to have Mr. Ezra Little and
family join him at the Star Theatre next Wednesday evening to see
Henry Irving in ‘Hamlet.’

“R. S. V. P.”

“Tell the earl I shall be delighted, and so will Mrs. Little and
Loammi,” said the gratified merchant.

“I think, Cousin Ezra, etiquette requires a written acceptance.”

“Tell me what to write, and I will copy it.”

Scott did so, and succeeded in toning down the exuberant terms in which
Mr. Little was at first inclined to couch his acceptance.

Mr. Tower, though a more sensible man, was undeniably flattered by the
invitation which Scott brought him. The earl had called at the store, so
that the invitation was _en règle_.

“Really, Scott,” he said, “I shall feel obliged to raise your pay,
since, in addition to your services here, you are introducing me into
such distinguished society.”

“I have no objection to that, Mr. Tower,” said Scott, smiling.

“And you are really the guest of the earl at the Windsor Hotel? It is
most extraordinary.”

“I hope, Mr. Tower, you will appreciate me as much as the earl does.”

“I do already, Scott, but for business reasons.”

Mr. Little sent for reporters on two of the daily papers, and managed to
have his presence in the earl’s box prominently mentioned. Loammi was
immensely gratified, and contrived to make himself conspicuous, while
Scott modestly withdrew into the background.

Seth Lawton happened to reach New York on the morning following the
theatre party. He read in amazement the paragraph which served to
indicate the intimacy of his relatives with the earl.

“My young cousin is getting on,” he said. “Well, he deserves it.”

Mr. Lawton himself was modest, and was considerably surprised when
Scott brought him a cordial invitation to dine at the Windsor with the
earl.

“I don’t know, Scott,” he said. “I am an old-fashioned fellow. I am not
used to stylish company.”

“The earl will like you all the better on that account.”

Scott was right. The Earl of Windermere could see the sterling gold in
Cousin Seth’s character, and treated him with a cordiality that pleased
the old man.

“I never thought I should like an earl,” he said afterward to Scott,
“but your friend is a trump. He ought to be an American citizen.”

Ezra Little was rather disgusted when he heard that Seth Lawton had been
the earl’s guest.

“You ought to have prevented it, Scott,” he said. “What will the earl
think of us when such a homely old fellow is introduced as a cousin?”

“Cousin Seth and the earl are great friends,” replied Scott.

“Humph! I suppose he felt obliged to be polite to him. Seth is a mere
clodhopper.”

He would have been surprised to learn that the earl rated the
“clodhopper” higher than himself.

From this time forth Ezra Little began to pay more attention to his poor
relation. Scott’s social and business success had surprised him. He was
compelled, though reluctantly, to consider him a young man of promise.

He had no idea, however, how successful Scott was, and would have been
very much amazed to learn the extent of his income.

One result, however, was to excite the jealousy of Loammi. He found that
Scott dressed better than himself and had more command of money.
Accordingly, he applied to his father for an increased allowance.

“What do you want more money for, Loammi?” asked his father, in a tone
far from encouraging. “Don’t you get a dollar a week?”

“What can I do with a dollar a week, pa?”

“It was more than I received at your age.”

“You were a poor boy, while I am the son of a rich man.”

“Ahem! not exactly rich, Loammi,” said Ezra Little, complacently.

“Everybody calls you rich, pa.”

“I have some money,” admitted Mr. Little, cautiously, “but it is only by
great care that I am moderately well off.”

“Scott dresses better than I, and always has money in his pocket.”

“He is very foolish to spend all his spare money on clothes. By the time
he is twenty-one he won’t have a cent laid up.”

“At any rate, he has plenty of cash now. The fact is, pa, people are
beginning to notice that he dresses better than I. Percy Shelton was
walking with me the other day when we met Scott. ‘I thought your cousin
was poor,’ he said. ‘He only has his wages to depend upon,’ I said.
‘Then he must be pretty well paid,’ he replied. ‘I saw him at Patti’s
concert Tuesday night, occupying a three-dollar seat.’ That made me feel
awfully mean, for you wouldn’t let me go to hear Patti.”

“No; it would be throwing money away.”

“All the fashionable people go. People that know you are rich think it
strange not to see me there.”

This argument had some effect on Mr. Little, who was anxious that his
son should be admitted into fashionable society, but was too close to
supply him with the necessary means.

“How much do you want, Loammi?” he asked, cautiously.

“Percy Shelton gets five dollars a week.”

“Well, you won’t,” said his father, sharply. “You must think that I am
made of money.”

“I will try to make it do with four, pa.”

“You won’t get that either. I will give you two dollars a week, and that
ought to be enough to satisfy you.”

Loammi was not satisfied, but did not think it prudent to say any more
just then.

There was one more concert by Patti, and he had hoped to attend. Indeed,
he had told Percy that he expected to do so. He might, indeed, have
bought a dollar ticket, but he was ashamed to be seen occupying a cheap
seat.

Loammi had not much taste for music, and cared chiefly to attend the
concert because most of his fashionable friends would be there.

In this dilemma he received unexpected assistance.

He met Scott one evening near the Fifth Avenue Hotel. His poor cousin
was handsomely dressed, and looked to be on good terms with the world,
as indeed he was.

“Good-evening, Loammi,” he said.

“Good-evening, Scott. Are you still working for Tower, Douglas & Co.?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Do they pay you well?”

“I am quite satisfied.”

“How much do you get?”

“I would rather not tell.”

“Percy Shelton told me he saw you at Patti’s concert Tuesday evening.”

“Yes, I was there.”

“The tickets are rather high, ain’t they?”

“I paid three dollars for mine.”

“I want to go ever so much; but pa, though he is rolling in wealth,
keeps me very close. How much do you think I get for my weekly
allowance?”

“I couldn’t guess.”

“Only two dollars.”

“But you have nothing to pay for board or clothes.”

“That is true; but of course I can’t go to hear Patti.”

“Do you really want to go?”

“Of course I do. All my friends have attended.”

“Then I will invite you to accompany me to-morrow evening.”

“On three-dollar tickets?”

“Yes.”

“You’re a good fellow, Scott,” said Loammi, overjoyed. “I always said
so.”

Scott smiled. He did not feel quite certain about that, but forbore to
remind Loammi of certain recent experiences.

“When will you buy the tickets?”

“We will go now if you have time.”

“All right.”

Two days afterward Loammi fell in with Percy Shelton.

“I saw you at the concert last evening,” said his friend.

“Yes.”

“Was that your cousin with you?”

“Yes; I thought he would like to go.”

“That was very kind of you,” said Percy, who naturally concluded that
Scott went by Loammi’s invitation.

“Scott must get a good salary,” thought Loammi. “I wonder how much he is
paid.”

But Scott preferred to keep this to himself. He knew that if Loammi
were told, he would have frequent occasion to borrow, and he felt that
it would be prudent in him to lay by a portion of his earnings.

It will be remembered that his friend, Justin Wood, had bought for him
an interest in the invention of Mr. Babcock, advancing the inventor a
sum of money, which put him on his feet.

Scott had not forgotten this, but forbore to look up Mr. Babcock, not
having quite so much confidence in his success as the inventor himself.

One evening, however, as he was preparing to go out to walk, he met
Babcock coming upstairs.

“Good-evening, Mr. Babcock,” he said; “I am glad to see you.”

“You were going out?” asked the inventor.

“Only for a walk. I shall be better pleased to receive a visit from
you.”

“Then I will accept your invitation. I thought you would look me up.”

“I was afraid I might interfere with you. I presume you are busy.”

“Yes, very busy, I am glad to say. And how is your friend, Mr. Wood?”

“At present he is out of the city.”

“I should like to see him to thank him for his timely aid.”

“Then it has been of service to you?”

“I should say so. I am succeeding beyond my anticipations.”

“I am glad to hear that,” said Scott, cordially.

“You have reason to be. Are you not my partner?”

“I believe I do own an interest in your discovery,” said Scott, smiling.

“I see you do not attach much importance to it. You have not considered
what your profits will amount to.”

“No, Mr. Babcock, I have not thought of that at all. I only hoped that
it would give you a fair living.”

“It will do more. In fact, I have come to see you on business to-night.
The parties who are manufacturing my window fastener have made me an
offer for it. As you hold a one-third interest, I cannot accept without
consulting you.”

“How much do they offer, Mr. Babcock?”

Scott thought the sum might be a thousand dollars, and was very much
surprised when the inventor answered: “Fifteen thousand dollars!”

“Is it possible?” he ejaculated.

“I thought you would be surprised. But it is true. That would give you
five thousand dollars.”

“I don’t see how so small an article can pay so well.”

“It is the small inventions that pay best. What do you say?”

“I want to consult your interest in the matter, Mr. Babcock. This would
give you ten thousand dollars, to be sure, but it would throw you out of
work.”

“No. They engage me as superintendent of the manufactory at a salary of
a hundred dollars per month.”

“That is very good. In that case, if you think it wise to sell, I will
agree.”

“Then you can come to-morrow to see them, and conclude the bargain?”

“I shall be occupied, but I am sure my employers will give me leave of
absence when I tell them the cause. But I don’t think I ought to receive
so large a sum as five thousand dollars. It was you who made the
discovery.”

“True, but I never should have reaped any benefit from it if you had not
introduced me to your friend, Mr. Wood.”

The next day the sale was made, and Scott found himself enriched by
five thousand dollars. It seemed to him almost like a dream, from which
he was afraid that he might awake.

“What would Mr. Little say if he knew?” thought Scott. “He did me a
great favor when he discharged me from his store under a cloud.”

Continue Reading

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING

Red Ralph and his companion slept soundly till after nine o’clock. The
drug was only of moderate strength, or they would have slept longer.

When Ralph opened his eyes he saw the breakfast table spread, and his
wife moving about the room. He looked around him half dazed.

“How does it happen that I am asleep on the floor?” he asked.

“You fell from your chair last night.”

“Why didn’t you rouse me, and make me go to bed?”

“I tried to, but you slept too sound.”

“It is strange I should sleep so–and Conrad, too. What time is it?”

“Half-past nine.”

“Has there been any noise in the room above, where the strangers are
sleeping?”

“I have heard none.”

“The potion kept them asleep. I must go up and rouse them.”

“What are you going to do to them, Ralph? You won’t injure them?”

“I must have their money. I may as well take Conrad with me. Here,
Conrad, wake up!” and he shook his companion with no gentle hand.

Conrad opened his eyes, and looked sleepily around him.

“How came I here?” he asked.

“You took too much whisky and got stupid drunk,” said Ralph, not
mentioning that he, too, had been in the same box. “Is breakfast ready,
Sarah?”

“Yes.”

“Then we’ll sit up and eat. I am famished. Come, Conrad.”

“Won’t you rouse the strangers first?”

“No. That will do afterward. If I get their money, you may give them
some breakfast, too.”

“Very well.”

The woman spoke calmly, but she was inwardly excited. She knew that her
husband would be enraged when he learned that the prisoners had escaped,
but she hoped that her agency in the matter would not be suspected.

The two men ate heartily, and his breakfast made Ralph feel better
natured.

When the meal was over, he said: “Come with me, Conrad. We have work to
do.”

He went upstairs, followed by his accomplice.

The key was in the lock, just as he had left it, apparently.

He turned the key, and opened the door of the chamber. What he expected
to see was the two travelers in a profound slumber. What he did see was
the bed disarranged and the chamber empty.

“What does all this mean?” he ejaculated, starting back in surprise.

“They’re not here!” said Conrad, looking about him.

“Of course they’re not, you fool! But how could they get away?”

Conrad pointed to one of the windows that was half open.

“That explains it,” he said.

Ralph hurried to the window, and put his head out.

Stretching from the window to the ground was the bed cord.

This was a piece of strategy on the part of his wife. After the
departure of Scott and the earl, she had removed the bed cord, and
fastened it to the window to mislead her husband into supposing that it
was in this way their guests had escaped.

“Well, I’ll be blowed!” ejaculated Ralph.

“They must have smelt a rat,” said Conrad, sagely.

“What I can’t understand is how a man of good weight could have been
held up by such a slender cord. And it doesn’t seem to be stretched at
all.”

“It may be stronger than you think,” suggested Conrad.

“I suppose it was, but I wouldn’t like to trust myself to it.”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

“Try it, then.”

Conrad was a man who inclined to be venturesome. He got out of the
window, and tried to lower himself by the rope. The slender cord broke,
and he fell and lay an inglorious heap on the greensward below.

“I told you so!” said Ralph, with a loud laugh.

“The man strained it,” said Conrad, looking rather foolish.

“Here, Sarah,” called out Ralph, “come and look here.”

Outwardly calm, but with inward trepidation, Ralph’s wife ascended the
stairs.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“What’s the matter? You can see for yourself. The men have escaped.”

“So they have,” she said, in affected surprise. “How did they do it?”

“Climbed out of the window by the bed cord. Didn’t you hear it?”

“They must have done it before I was up,” she replied, evading a direct
answer.

“Conrad,” called out Ralph, with a sudden thought, “go out to the barn,
and see if they have taken the horse.”

“Yes, they have. The horse isn’t there,” reported Conrad.

“Then I’ve been taken in, and done for. What beats me is, how did they
suspect anything?”

“You forget,” said the wife, “that they may have missed the wallet.”

“That’s true. I should like to know how long they have been gone. I
wonder you didn’t hear the horse.”

“I think I slept pretty sound myself. It was not till late that I went
to bed.”

“Well, there’s no use in crying over spilt milk,” said Ralph,
philosophically. “At any rate we’ve got the five dollars.”

“And that will pay for all they got here.”

“Especially,” chimed in Conrad, “as they went off without their
breakfast.”

“So they did,” said Ralph, with a broad smile.

He seemed amused by the thought that their guests had, after all, been
overreached, and this contributed to restore his good humor.

Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Her stratagem had been successful, and
there was no suspicion entertained by her husband that she had assisted
the two to escape. Had he suspected it, she shuddered to think what
would have happened.

When Scott and the earl reached the hotel at Niagara, they went up to
their room to finish out a night’s rest, their slumber at the farmhouse
having been interrupted.

The consequence was that they appeared late at breakfast.

Meanwhile there had been an arrival at the hotel of two characters well
known to the reader.

Two days previously, Ezra Little suddenly determined to go to Buffalo.
By the failure of a large firm in that city a considerable stock of
goods had been thrown on the market. It was almost certain that the
stock would be sold out for much less than its real value.

Ezra Little, among others, had received a notice from the assignee of
the approaching sale. The goods were, many of them, in his line, and in
several departments his own stock was getting short.

“I think, Mr. Allen,” he said to his superintendent, “I shall run on to
Buffalo, and examine the stock of Frost, Burks & Co., and if it is a
sacrifice sale I shall probably make considerable purchases.”

“It will be an excellent plan, I think, Mr. Little. We are running short
in several departments. Besides, it will be a pleasant trip for you.”

“That is true; I haven’t been fifty miles from the city for three years.
Three years since, I went to Philadelphia, and ever since then I have
tied myself down to business.”

“I will look after things while you are gone. I understand your system.”

When Ezra Little announced at home that he was going to Buffalo, the
news made a sensation.

“Isn’t Buffalo near Niagara Falls?” asked Loammi.

“Certainly.”

“You will go there, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will try to get time. I shall never have a better opportunity.”

“Oh, pa, won’t you take me?” asked Loammi, eagerly.

“Take you? Why should I?”

“I should enjoy it so much.”

“No doubt, but the expense will be too great. The car fare and hotel
rates will amount to considerable.”

“But, pa, as you were just saying, you will probably clear more than a
thousand dollars by the purchase you propose to make.”

“That is not certain.”

“Oh, yes it is; you are so sharp and shrewd, pa.”

Ezra Little’s pride was flattered.

“Well, yes,” he said, “I think I am fairly sharp.”

“And my expenses won’t be much.”

Ezra looked undecided.

At this point his wife intervened.

“You had better take Loammi, Ezra,” she said. “It will be a pleasure to
him, and if you are sick he can take care of you.”

“Well, Loammi,” said his father, with unwonted good humor, “I think I
will let you go. But you must be ready at six o’clock this evening.”

“I’ll be ready, pa, never fear.”

Loammi and his father arrived late in the evening at Niagara, and put up
at the International Hotel. Had they looked back in the book of arrivals
they would have seen the name of Scott Walton, but they failed to do so.

As they sped over the Central Railroad, Loammi was in high spirits. It
was his first long journey and he felt somehow that it would increase
his consequence. He was prepared to make much of it on his return, and
he felt that his friends and schoolfellows would be impressed.

The International Hotel seemed to him quite grand, and as he had never
been a guest at a hotel before, he quite enjoyed his new way of living.

“Isn’t it fine, pa?” he said, as they walked through the office.

“It is fine enough,” responded his father, practically, “but it costs
money, Loammi; I expect they’ll be charging me four or five dollars a
day.”

“Oh, well, pa, you can afford it.”

“That may be, but I am afraid it is money thrown away to pay your
expenses on such a trip. It would have been better to pay you ten
dollars, and let you stay at home.”

“I wouldn’t have been willing to do it, pa. Wouldn’t Scott like to be
traveling as we are doing?”

“I presume he would. You haven’t heard anything of him, have you?”

“No.”

“He can’t be in New York, I should say.”

“He’s probably tramping about somewhere,” said Loammi, rather
contemptuously.

“I think the boy has some business talent,” his father remarked, who was
not so much prejudiced as his son.

“Oh, I suppose he’d pass, but he couldn’t hold a place. He had to leave
you and now he’s left Tower, Douglas & Co.”

“Do you know why he left them?”

“One of the clerks told me he was too fresh.”

This was not quite correct, as it was Loammi who had designated his
cousin in that way.

While they were waiting for breakfast, a traveling acquaintance from
Boston, a Mr. Norwood, greeted them.

“Do you know,” he said, “there’s an English earl staying in this hotel?”

“Is there? Who is it?” asked Ezra Little, for he had a reverence for
rank.

“It is the Earl of Windermere.”

“Yes, I know of the title. Have you seen him?”

“No, but I saw his name on the register.”

“I hope we shall meet him, pa,” said Loammi. “It would be quite a
feather in our cap if we could get introduced to him.”

“I should like that myself, Loammi. Do you know if he is a young man, or
an old one, Mr. Norwood?”

“He is a young man, under thirty.”

“We will look for him at breakfast.”

When they took their seats at the table, Mr. Little said to the waiter:
“I hear there’s an earl staying at the hotel?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Could you point him out to us?”

The waiter looked across the room.

“He generally sits at that table, sir, but he has not come in yet.”

“Is any one of his family with him?”

“I don’t rightly know. There’s a boy goes round with him a good
deal–about the age of this young gentleman.”

“I will try to get acquainted with him, pa,” said Loammi. “I guess
that’ll be the easiest way to get in with the earl.”

The breakfast proceeded and was nearly over for Loammi and his father,
when the waiter came up.

“There’s the earl just coming in, sir,” he said, “and the boy with him.”

Both father and son looked toward the earl with eager curiosity. They
did not at first take special notice of the boy. When they did, Loammi
grasped his father’s arm in excitement.

“The boy looks just like Scott,” he said.

“It is Scott,” pronounced his father, looking through his eyeglasses.

“Nonsense, pa, it can’t be!” said Loammi. “It’s ridiculous to think of
Scott being in company with an earl.”

“Ridiculous or not, it is a fact.”

“Perhaps they are not together,” said Loammi, who did not like to
believe that his humble cousin was in such aristocratic company. “Is
that the boy that usually goes around with the earl?” he asked, turning
to the waiter.

“Yes, sir, it’s the very identical boy,” answered the waiter.

“I never heard of such a thing,” gasped Loammi. “That boy’s cheek seems
too great for anything. But perhaps he is the earl’s valet, though I
don’t know how he could have got the position.”

“I don’t know but he’s the earl’s brother,” said the waiter. “Anyhow,
they’re pretty thick. They went out riding together yesterday
afternoon.”

“He isn’t the earl’s brother,” said Loammi, emphatically. “He’s a–a
relative of ours.”

“Lor’ now, you don’t mean it! Didn’t you know he was traveling with the
earl?”

“No,” answered Loammi; “I haven’t seen much of him lately.”

“The earl seems to think everything of him. They’re always together.”

“I never was so astonished in my life, pa,” said Loammi, when the waiter
had left them.

“It does seem singular.”

“I’ll get Scott to introduce me.”

“I thought you didn’t care to take any more notice of him.”

“No more I did, but as he’s intimate with an earl that makes a
difference.”

Mr. Little and his son lingered at the table till they saw the earl and
his young companion rise. Then they followed them out.

Scott had not noticed the presence of Loammi and his father, but it was
soon made evident to him.

As he was walking with the earl, suddenly he felt a tap on his arm, and
looking round espied Loammi.

“Loammi!” he exclaimed, in surprise.

“Yes, I am here with pa. I was surprised to find you here.”

Scott smiled.

“I have been traveling for some weeks,” he said.

“Here’s pa.”

“How do you do, Scott? I hope you are well,” said Ezra Little,
graciously.

“Very well, thank you.”

The earl, noticing that Scott had met acquaintances, walked slowly on.

“Won’t you introduce us to your friend, Scott?” asked Loammi, eagerly.

“If he is willing,” Scott said.

He went up to the earl and acquainted him with his cousin’s request.

“Are they friends of yours, Scott?”

“I can’t say they are friends, but they are my cousins. I have told you
of them. They are my cousin, Loammi Little, and his father.”

“Do you think they know who I am?”

“Yes. It is probably your title that makes them desirous of an
introduction.”

“Very well.”

In answer to a look, Loammi and his father approached.

“My lord,” said Scott, formally, “let me present to you Mr. Ezra Little
and his son, Loammi. They are relatives of mine.”

“I am glad to meet any relative of my young friend, Mr. Walton,” said
the earl, with dignity.

“My lord earl,” said Mr. Little, with a profound bow, “I am indeed
honored in making your acquaintance.”

“And I, too,” murmured Loammi.

“I am an Englishman, like yourself, my lord.”

“And so, I believe, is my young friend, Scott,” said the nobleman.

“Yes,” said Scott, “but I have nearly forgotten it. I intend to be an
American citizen.”

“I shall never forget that I am an Englishman,” observed Ezra Little.

“Gentlemen,” said the earl, “will you excuse me? I have a letter to
write.”

“Certainly, my lord.”

“I will meet you in half an hour, Scott,” said the earl, familiarly.
“You will find me in the reading room.”

“How on earth did you get so thick with the earl, Scott?” asked Loammi.

“He seemed to take a fancy to me.”

“Are you with him a good deal?”

“Yes.”

“How can you afford to stay at this expensive hotel?” asked Ezra Little.

“I am traveling on business.”

“For what house?”

“Please excuse my mentioning just yet.”

“How long are you going to stay here?”

“I expected to leave this morning, but I have a letter from my employers
with instructions that will detain me here a day or two longer. But how
do you and Loammi happen to be here?”

“I have business in Buffalo.”

Scott smiled.

“So have I,” he said.

“I intend to make large purchases from the assignees of Frost, Burks &
Co.”

“I shall probably meet you both this evening.”

As Scott walked away, Loammi said, enviously: “Did you notice how well
Scott was dressed?”

“I didn’t notice.”

“He doesn’t look much like the poor relation we took in some months ago.
But it won’t last.”

Continue Reading

ON WATCH

There was nothing especially noticeable about the chamber into which
Scott and the earl were ushered. It was a corner apartment, and had two
windows on different sides of the room.

There was a double bed, a washstand, a small table, and two chairs,
besides a plain pine bureau. There was no carpet on the floor, but
beside the bed was a cheap rug.

“Will this do you?” asked the woman, as she set the candle on the table.

“Yes,” answered the earl, after a comprehensive glance around the room.

“We don’t keep a hotel. If we did—-”

“My good lady, make no apologies. We are obliged to you for taking us
in.”

“I hope you’ll sleep well,” said the woman, with her hand on the latch.

“We generally do,” replied the earl.

“Ah!” she said, and there seemed something significant in her tone.

She opened the door and went downstairs, leaving the two travelers
alone.

“This isn’t very luxurious, Mr. Grant,” remarked Scott.

“No.”

“I suppose you are used to a luxurious house?”

“When I am at home–yes; but I have knocked about the world so much that
I can stand a little discomfort. How is the bed?”

He felt of the mattress, and found that it was of straw. Had there been
a feather bed over it there would have been greater comfort.

“Only a straw bed,” he said. “This is, certainly, Spartan simplicity. I
don’t think Red Ralph would be a success as an innkeeper.”

“I think I can sleep, Mr. Grant,” rejoined Scott. “I feel quite tired.”

“Is there a lock on the door?”

Scott went forward to examine.

“Yes,” he reported, “there is a lock, but no key.”

“Is there a bolt?”

“No.”

“I wonder,” said the earl, very thoughtfully, “whether the key has been
lost or intentionally removed?”

“We might ask for a key.”

“No. That would make it evident that we were distrustful. Besides, it
may be that the people below are not aware that there is no means of
locking them out. On the whole, we will not call attention to our
defenseless condition.”

While they were talking, a step was heard on the stairs–a heavy step,
too heavy for the woman. Then came a knock at the door.

Scott opened it.

There stood Red Ralph, holding in his hand a pitcher and glass.

“I have brought you a nightcap,” he said. “I had my wife mix some whisky
and water. It is good for the stomach. I drink some every night before I
go to bed.”

“Thank you,” returned the earl, politely. “You are very considerate.”

He took the pitcher and set it down on the table. Red Ralph lingered a
moment, and his eyes wandered about the apartment.

There was nothing to see, however, as the travelers had brought no
luggage with them, not expecting to be detained overnight.

“I hope that you will be comfortable,” he said, cordially.

“Thank you.”

“Do you sleep sound?”

“Generally. Do you?”

“Oh, I never wake from the time I strike the bed. At what hour shall I
wake you?”

“At seven.”

“Good! I will tell the wife to have breakfast at half-past seven.”

“By the way, may I trouble you to look after my horse? I meant to go out
to the barn before I retired.”

“I will look after him. I am used to horses. I am a horse trader.”

“Thank you. Good-night.”

“Good-night.”

“Our friend is unusually attentive,” said the earl, with a glance at the
pitcher.

“Yes; perhaps we have misjudged him.”

“Perhaps, but I am not sure. Scott, will you hold the candle?”

He took the pitcher and peered into it attentively, rather to Scott’s
surprise. Then he poured out a small quantity, and tasted it.

“I hope you will excuse me from drinking, Mr. Grant,” said Scott. “I
promised my father I would never drink whisky.”

“Even if you did indulge, I should not advise you to drink any of
this.”

“Why not? Is it of poor quality?”

“I am quite confident that it is drugged. It has a peculiar taste, and I
detect minute particles of some foreign substance which has been mixed
with it.”

“Poison?” asked Scott, looking startled.

“Not so bad as that. It is only a sleeping potion. Our friend had an
object in asking if we slept soundly. He means that we shall.”

“Are you quite sure the whisky has been tampered with, Mr. Grant?”

“I am reasonably sure of it.”

“Then of course we won’t drink it.”

“Certainly not, but we will appear to have done so. Open the window.”

The earl poured out a glass of the whisky and emptied it out of the
window. He filled the glass a second time, and again emptied it.

“That is better than to have swallowed it,” he said. “I will leave a
small portion in the pitcher to disarm suspicion.”

“What do you think Red Ralph intends to do?” asked Scott, in a low tone.

“I think he intends to make us a visit during the night. As there is no
way of locking the door, that will be very easily managed. Had we drunk
the whisky, we should have slept so profoundly that Ralph could have
ransacked the room without interference.

“Have you a pistol, Mr. Grant?”

“Yes, but I might as well be without one. I have no means of loading
it.”

“What, then, do you propose to do?”

“That is not easy to decide.”

“Can we secure the door in any way?”

“I can think of no way.”

“We might put the bureau against it.”

“Yes; I will consider whether that is best. It interposes only a
temporary obstacle. Then Ralph and his companion may be armed, while we
are not. The two would be more than a match for us.”

“I suppose they would be satisfied if you would give up your money.”

“Probably, but though the loss of the money would not seriously
embarrass me–it is only five hundred dollars–I decidedly object to
being robbed of it. By the way, have you a newspaper with you?”

“Yes, Mr. Grant. Here it is.”

The earl took the paper, and carefully tore it into strips about the
size of a bank bill. Then he removed the bank bills from his wallet, put
them in an inside pocket in his vest, and replaced them with strips of
newspaper.

“It is a good plan to oppose roguery with artifice,” he said. “Possibly
this will help to circumvent the enemy.”

Scarcely had he done this when Ralph’s step was heard on the staircase,
and a moment afterward there was a knock at the door.

“Open it, Scott.”

There stood Ralph, smiling craftily.

“Have you drunk the whisky, gentlemen?” he asked. “Would you like to
have me fill the pitcher again?”

“We shall not need any more, thank you,” said the earl. “Perhaps you
will kindly take the pitcher?”

Ralph looked into the pitcher, and his face indicated satisfaction. From
the little that remained he felt assured that both his guests had drunk
liberally.

“I hope you liked it,” he said.

“You were very kind to think of us,” rejoined the earl, avoiding a reply
to his question.

“Won’t you let me fill the pitcher?”

“No, we shall not need any more. I think you said it would make us sleep
sound?”

“It has that effect upon me.”

“I think you are right. I can hardly keep my eyes open,” and the earl
yawned ostentatiously.

“I feel the same way,” added Scott.

Red Ralph smiled.

“Yes,” he said, “I am sure you will have a good night’s sleep. I will
remember to call you at seven. I won’t stay any longer, for you must
wish to retire.”

“Good-night, then.”

“Now,” said the earl, when the coast was clear, “we must decide what to
do.”

“Shall we go to bed?”

“We will lie on the bed, but it will be better not to undress. We must
be prepared for any contingency.”

“Shall I move the bureau against the door?”

“No. We will try to keep awake for an hour. My opinion is that our
friend will make us a visit within that time.”

Though the two travelers had not removed their clothes, they covered
themselves up with the quilt, in order to deceive anyone entering the
room. Then they lay and waited.

It was perhaps ten minutes less than the hour when they heard the door
softly opened. In the half light they saw Red Ralph enter. He had
removed his shoes, and was walking in his stocking feet.

The earl had hung his coat from a nail just behind the door.

Ralph saw it, and at once began to search the pockets. He only glanced
carelessly at the bed, for he felt sure that the potion had done its
work, and that both his guests were asleep.

In the side pocket he found the wallet. He uttered an ejaculation of
satisfaction, and quickly transferred it to his own pocket.

He could not very well examine it in the darkness. But he could tell
from the feeling that it was well filled, and naturally concluded that
the contents represented a large sum of money.

Having got what he wanted, he withdrew as quietly as he came, carefully
shutting the door behind him.

When he had gone, Scott broke the silence.

“What will he do when he discovers that the wallet is stuffed with waste
paper?”

“Probably he will be angry, and feel that he has been defrauded.”

Scott laughed.

“Do you think he will make us another visit?”

“If he does, and complains of the deception, it will involve a
confession that he is a thief. I confess I don’t know what to
anticipate.”

Ten minutes later a slow step was heard ascending the staircase.

Scott and the earl listened in excitement. They could not forecast the
next act in the drama.

The steps paused before the door, but the door was not opened. In place
of this they heard a key turn in the lock outside. It was clear that
they were locked in.

“Ralph does not mean that we should escape,” said the earl.

“What shall we do?”

“I shall go to sleep. I think we are secure from any other visit.
Hostilities are probably deferred till morning. What will be done then I
am quite at a loss to understand, but when that time comes we can decide
what to do.”

When Red Ralph went downstairs after purloining the wallet, it was with
a feeling of satisfaction at the apparent success of his dishonest
scheme.

Below, his wife and his accomplice still sat before the fire.

“Well, Ralph?” said the latter, with an eager look of interrogation.

“I have got it,” chuckled Ralph.

“I don’t like such doings,” said his wife, wearily. “Heaven will never
prosper dishonesty.”

“Shut up, Sarah,” commanded Ralph, harshly. “I can’t stand a sniveling
woman. What I have done is my business, not yours.”

“I wish they had never come. I ought to have sent them away.”

“You did just right. You invited them in, and delivered them into my
hands.”

“Open the wallet!” said the dark man, impatiently.

Ralph seated himself in the chair which he had vacated before he went
upstairs, and, with a smile, opened the wallet.

But the smile quickly faded from his face, and it grew dark with anger,
as the contents were disclosed.

“Confusion!” he muttered. “Look at this!” and he threw the paper into
the fire.

“What does it mean?” asked his accomplice, bewildered.

“It means that we have been fooled–tricked! They have filled the wallet
with this trash, in order to deceive us.”

“But are you sure that they had any money?”

“Sure? Why, I saw it with my own eyes. Didn’t you, Sarah? Didn’t the man
pull out a thick roll of bills when he paid the five dollars he agreed
upon?”

“Yes,” answered the woman, reluctantly.

“There was no mistake about that. The money was real, fast enough. There
must have been two or three hundred dollars.”

“Where could he have put it, then?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why should he play such a trick upon you?”

“He evidently suspected something.”

“How could he suspect a man with your honest face?”

“Be careful, Conrad! I don’t allow any man to insult me,” said Ralph,
with lowering brow.

“Don’t get mad, Ralph; I was only joking. What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know.”

“The money must be somewhere in the chamber,” said Conrad, suggestively.

“Probably it is, but it is concealed. I can’t get at it without waking
them up.”

“If they drank the doctored whisky, it would be safe enough.”

“I don’t know whether they did drink it or not. They pretended to, but
if they suspected me, they may have emptied it out of the window.”

“Then you won’t do anything?” asked Conrad, in evident disappointment.

“I will lock them in. I will see, at any rate, that they don’t escape
from the room. In the morning I will consider what is best to be done.”

The woman breathed a sigh of relief. She was honest at heart, and felt
no sympathy with her outlaw husband.

It was perhaps by way of consoling themselves for their disappointment
that the two men resumed their drinking, and drank heavily.

“Go and get some more whisky, Sarah,” said Ralph, for the pitcher was
about empty.

The woman did so, but an idea had occurred to her. She was resolved to
prevent the robbery of her guests, and to afford them a chance to
escape.

She turned the tables upon her husband, and dropped into the whisky some
of the same sleeping potion which had been intended for the two
travelers.

Red Ralph and his accomplice were too much affected already to notice
any peculiar taste in the whisky. They drank deep, getting more and more
drowsy, until at last Ralph slipped from his chair to the floor, where
he lay without sense or motion.

“Good-night, old fellow!” hiccoughed Conrad. “I’m with you,” and he was
soon lying beside his friend.

Sarah looked at the twain half remorsefully.

“Ought I to have done it?” she asked herself. “But there was no other
way. I have perhaps saved my husband from prison, for the theft would
surely have been found out. The man looked strong and resolute, and
would not have allowed himself to be robbed without seeking to punish
the robber.”

She left the two men lying upon the floor, and sought her own bed.

“They won’t wake till late,” she reflected, “and I can let the travelers
lie till morning. I won’t deprive them of their night’s rest.”

She went upstairs and saw the key in the lock. “I guess I will leave it
there,” she said, “till morning.”

About five o’clock–her usual time for rising–she dressed and went
upstairs. She unlocked the door, and knocked loudly upon it.

“Who is it?” asked Scott, jumping out of bed.

“It is I,” answered Sarah.

Scott was agreeably surprised, for he had feared it might be Ralph.

“The door is locked,” he said.

“You can open it.”

He did so, and saw the nervous, half-frightened look of his hostess.

“You must get up at once,” she said, “you and your friend. It is not
safe to remain here.”

“I had found that out. But won’t your husband interfere with us?”

“He is sound asleep, and won’t wake for hours. But you had better get
up now, and avoid difficulty.”

“Wait a minute, till I wake my friend.”

But the earl was already awake. He quickly grasped the situation.

“Are you not exposing yourself to danger on our account?” he asked,
earnestly, of the woman.

“No, I shall know how to manage, but go now. It is morning, and the
sooner you get away the better.”

“Can we get into the barn, and take our horse?”

“Yes, there will be no difficulty. Make as little noise as possible
coming downstairs. My husband might awake.”

“Madam,” said the earl, “we are much indebted to you. Take this as an
acknowledgment,” and he tendered her a ten-dollar bill.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Should my husband discover that I had
money he would suspect that I had let you out. Then I should be in
danger.”

“Then we can only thank you.”

They were already dressed, and followed the woman downstairs. They saw
Ralph and his friend lying like logs on the floor, and suspected why
they slept so soundly. Both were snoring loudly.

With a sensation of disgust they left the house, and led the horse out
of the barn. He seemed to be much better of his lameness, so that he was
able to travel, though slowly. They reached Niagara in time for
breakfast.

Continue Reading

RED RALPH

Scott intended to start on his homeward journey the next morning, but an
hour before he was to leave he received a telegram to the following
effect:

“Wait for letter. TOWER.”

Scott understood at once that the letter would contain instructions from
the firm, and therefore informed the earl that he would remain a day
longer.

“That will suit me admirably,” said the earl. “If you are at leisure, we
will take a long drive.”

“I shall have nothing to do till I receive my letter,” answered Scott.

“Then you can join me?”

“I shall be glad to do so.”

It turned out that the earl wished to ride across the country to a point
some twenty miles distant. What the attraction was it is not necessary
here to state. Probably the trip was undertaken chiefly for the drive.

At the end of twenty miles a village was reached, which contained a
passable hotel. Here the two tourists dined, and did not leave on their
return till about six o’clock.

“We shall be rather late,” said the earl. “Still, our horse is a good
one, and we ought to reach the hotel in two hours, or little more.”

“That won’t be very late.”

“Then we can stop on the way somewhere.”

When the travelers had proceeded half a dozen miles on their way, the
horse suddenly showed signs of lameness. What had occasioned it neither
could tell, but as he appeared to be in pain, it was decided, upon
consultation, to stop at the next house and make arrangements to pass
the night. It would be easy to start again on the following morning with
the horse they had, or, if necessary, a substitute. Neither felt in
haste, and the time lost would not be serious.

The next house proved to be situated on the edge of the woods. It
occupied a lonely location, and seemed in rather a dilapidated state.
Everything about it bore an aspect of neglect.

Scott jumped from the carriage, and went to the door.

It was opened, after he had knocked two or three times, by a careworn
woman of middle age. Her face was lined, and she wore a look of
depression and discouragement.

“What’s your will?” she asked.

“Our horse has fallen lame, and we would like to stop here overnight,
and let the horse rest. I see you have a barn.”

“I don’t know,” said the woman, slowly. “We don’t keep a hotel.”

“I am quite aware of that, and we must apologize for intruding. We shall
give you some trouble, but we are willing to pay for it. If five dollars
will compensate you we will be glad to pay that sum for supper, lodging
and breakfast for ourselves, and accommodation for our horse.”

The woman seemed surprised by the liberality of the offer. In such a
household five dollars was a good deal of money.

“You can come in,” she said, “and I will get you some supper. My man
will soon be home, and if he is willing you can stay all night.”

“I hope he will soon be back, as we would like to know what to depend
upon.”

“He’ll be here in an hour, likely.”

“May we put the horse in the barn?”

“Yes, if you can do it yourself. There ain’t no men folks ’round.”

“Oh, yes, we will attend to it.”

“I’ll go right to work getting supper. I’ve got some eggs and bacon in
the house, if that will do you.”

“That will do very well, I think. You can give us some tea, too, I
presume?”

“Yes, or you can have some whisky. My man always wants some.”

“Thank you, but I think we should prefer tea.”

“That’s just as you like. I have tea for myself. My man won’t drink it.
He says it’s only fit for women.”

“Consider us women, then,” said Scott, laughing. “I will go and tell my
friend that you will receive us.”

“If my man agrees.”

“That is understood.”

“What is your friend’s name?”

“Mr. Grant,” answered Scott, knowing that the earl would not care to
have his rank known in such a place. It might have led to extravagant
terms for the accommodation rendered, and Scott considered that he had
already offered liberal compensation.

He communicated to the earl the result of his mission.

“Do you think we shall get decent fare?” the earl inquired.

“I think so, but we may have to rough it a little. It won’t be equal to
our hotel.”

“Oh, well, it will be an adventure. I have roughed it before.”

“I thought earls always fared luxuriously,” said Scott, smiling.

“Earls, as well as other men, are subject to circumstances, and can
rough it, if necessary. Some time I will tell you how I fared in Italy
last winter. I confess that my appetite has been sharpened, and I am
exceedingly hungry.”

“So am I. We are to have bacon and eggs. I hope you have no prejudice
against such a dish.”

“No, it is a favorite with me. My only apprehension is, that they won’t
have enough to satisfy me.”

In the barn the visitors found stalls for two horses, both of them
unoccupied. They unharnessed their horse, or rather Scott did, for the
earl, who had always had this work done for him, seemed awkward and
inexperienced.

“I am sorry to put all the work upon you, Scott,” he said.

“Never mind. It is no trouble.”

“I suppose I ought to be ashamed of my awkwardness.”

“I can easily understand that you never had to do it. In England, father
for a time kept a horse, and I had the care of him.”

When the horse was safely stalled, Scott and the earl came out into the
yard.

“Shall we go into the house?” asked Scott.

“No, we might be in the way. Here is a fence rail. We can sit upon
that.”

“You are making yourself very democratic,” Scott said.

“Why should I not be?”

“Our new acquaintance, Mr. Alderman Burton, would be surprised to see
you sitting on a fence rail.”

“I shouldn’t do it before him. I should keep up my dignity, or he might
be shocked.”

“What do you think he asked me last evening, when you were out of the
room?”

“What was it?”

“He asked me if you ever dined with the queen?”

“What did you answer?”

“Only when you were invited.”

“Quite correct. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever was honored
by such an invitation, or, as we consider it, a command.”

“He also asked me to inquire of you whether the queen wore her crown at
the dinner table.”

“Poor old lady; I should pity her if she were obliged to do so.”

Half an hour later the woman came to the door, and looking toward them,
called out: “Supper’s ready.”

“And so am I,” said the earl, in a low voice. “I hope our hostess has
made a liberal provision for us.”

On entering the kitchen, where the table was spread, they found she had
done so. A dozen eggs, flanked by several slices of bacon, were on a
dish in the center, and there was an ample supply of butter and corn
bread.

An expression of profound satisfaction lit up the faces of the two
travelers.

“Thank you, madam, for kindly complying with our request. We appreciate
it more because we know you do not keep a hotel.”

“I hope you’ll like it,” replied the woman. “I misremember what the boy
said your name was.”

“Mr. Grant,” said Scott.

“Is he your brother?”

“No; my name is Walton.”

“Be you in any business, Mr. Grant?” asked the woman, who began to show
curiosity.

“No, madam, not at present. I am an Englishman. Possibly my friend and I
might buy out a store in Buffalo.”

Scott could scarcely forbear smiling. It seemed a great joke to him to
think of going into a business partnership with an earl.

They ate supper with evident enjoyment. They had about concluded it,
when a heavy step was heard outside.

“That is my man,” said the woman, nervously.

Scott and the earl looked up with curiosity to see him enter.

The man who entered was of medium height, thickset, and his hair and
beard were red. His face was far from prepossessing.

He looked at the visitors, and then at his wife inquiringly.

“So you have company?” he said.

“Yes, Ralph,” answered the woman, rather nervously. “I told them we
didn’t keep a hotel, but they offered me five dollars to take care of
them and the horse till morning.”

The man’s face lost its scowl. The sum offered made an impression.

“You did right,” he said. “I am willing to accommodate. Where’s the
horse?”

“We put him in the barn.”

“All right. And where may you be from?” he asked, addressing the earl.

“I am an Englishman.”

“Are you in any business?”

“Not at present.”

“But you have money?”

This remark was accompanied by a look of keen curiosity.

“I have some,” answered the earl, cautiously.

“He is going to buy out a store in Buffalo,” put in the woman.

“What sort of a store?”

“I haven’t decided yet,” replied the earl, who did not choose to take
the man into his confidence.

“It takes a power of money to buy a store.”

“It depends on the nature of the business, I should think.”

“About how much do you mean to invest?”

“Really, the fellow is getting impertinent,” thought his guest.

“I don’t think I can answer that question,” he answered.

Their host took from a shelf a dirty clay pipe, filled it with tobacco,
and began to smoke. The fumes were far from pleasant, and the earl,
rising from his chair, signaled to Scott to go outside with him.

“Where are you going?” asked the red-haired man.

“We are going to take a walk.”

“Has he paid you the five dollars?” asked the man, addressing his wife.

“No.”

“Then you may as well hand it over,” said the host.

“Certainly, if you wish it now.”

“That is safest. You might take your horse and give us the slip. Then
we’d be so much out.”

“What do you take us for?” demanded the earl, indignantly.

“I don’t know anything about you. You may be gentlemen, or—-”

“This will settle the question,” and the earl took out his wallet, and
from a thick roll of bills picked out a five-dollar note, and handed it
to the woman.

“Give it here to me, Sarah,” said her husband, sharply. “I take charge
of the money.”

With meek obedience she passed the bill to him.

He scrutinized it closely, but the result of his inspection seemed to be
favorable, and he put it away in his vest pocket.

Scott noticed that he had regarded the roll of bills with a covetous
glance, and he felt that the earl had been imprudent in making such a
display of his money.

“It’s all right,” their host said, slowly. “You’re an honest man. You
pay your bills.”

The earl smiled, and opening the outer door, went out, followed by
Scott.

“What do you think of our host, Scott?” he asked.

“I distrust him, Mr. Grant. I am sorry you showed him that roll of
bills.”

“It may have been imprudent, but I don’t think there is any danger of
his attempting to rob me.”

“He was curious to learn your business. I wonder what his is.”

“To-morrow we shall leave the house, and we are never likely to meet him
again,” said the earl, indifferently. “So it is hardly worth thinking
about.”

They strolled along in a leisurely way, and sat down under a tree, about
a mile distant from their home. Under the same tree reclined a young man
who looked like a farmer or a farmer’s assistant.

“Good-evening,” said the earl, courteously.

“Good-evening, sir.”

“Do you live hereabouts?”

“Yes, I am working for my uncle, who owns a farm not far from here. You
are a stranger, are you not?”

“Yes, my friend and myself are staying at Niagara. We were taking a
long drive, but the horse went lame, and we engaged lodgings for the
night about a mile from here.”

“At what house?” asked the young man.

“I will tell you, and you can perhaps tell me something of the man who
occupies it.”

The young man listened to the description, and when it was finished
shrugged his shoulders.

“I shouldn’t care to be in your place,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Red Ralph doesn’t have a very good reputation,” he explained.

“Is that what he is called?”

“Yes. You noticed his profusion of red hair. His real name is Moody, I
believe, but everybody calls him Red Ralph.”

“How long has he lived in this neighborhood?”

“About three years.”

“What is his business, or, rather, how does he make his living?”

“That is hard to tell. I believe he trades in horses to some extent.”

“Is nothing known of his history before he came here?”

“It is reported that he has been in jail. A man who saw him there said
that he was quite confident he had seen him in a visit to Joliet
prison.”

“Is his life reputable? Has he ever been in any trouble since he came
here?”

“Nothing has been proved against him, but more than one rough-looking
man has been seen in his house.”

“Decidedly, Scott,” said the earl, “we have not been fortunate in our
selection of a lodging house. However, it is only for one night.”

“Have you much money with you?” asked their new acquaintance.

“A tolerably large sum,” answered the earl.

“Then, I advise you to bolt your door when you retire.”

“I shall do so. Without knowing anything of our worthy host, I had
formed an unfavorable opinion of him before I spoke with you.”

“He will bear watching,” said the young man, briefly.

“What could have been his object in establishing himself here? If he is
a rogue, I don’t see what opportunities he has of practicing
dishonesty.”

“Bear in mind that this house is not many miles from the border. If he
committed a robbery in the States, he could easily take refuge in his
Canadian home, where he would be safe from arrest.”

“There is something in that.”

“If you don’t care to remain in his house overnight, I think I could
insure you a welcome from my uncle, who lives not far away.”

“Thank you, but it would be awkward to make a change at this late hour.
Besides, what explanation could we give?”

“Still, if you distrust him—-”

“There is another consideration. We have paid in advance,” suggested
Scott.

“I should not mind forfeiting five dollars,” said the earl. “There is
one thing I should mind more.”

“What is that?”

“To leave now would be a confession of cowardice. We ought–the two of
us–to be a match for Red Ralph.”

“I will do my share,” said Scott, smiling.

“Yes, you look like a brave boy.” Then, turning to the young man, “I
thank you for your kind offer, but I think we will stay with Red Ralph
for this one night.”

Already it was getting dark, and the air was chill.

“Let us go back, Scott,” said the earl. “It is not very late, but I
feel sleepy, and I think I shall retire early.”

“Very well, sir.”

It was not quite nine o’clock when they entered the farmhouse. There was
a fire of logs in the fireplace, and before it, with his legs stretched
out, sat Red Ralph. But he was not alone.

A man of dark complexion sat opposite him. He was tall and swarthy, and,
though differing in appearance seemed a fitting companion for Red Ralph.
Both had pipes in their mouths, and the room was pervaded by the fumes
of bad tobacco.

“Well, stranger, you took a long walk,” said Red Ralph, turning in his
chair.

“We sat down under a tree to rest,” responded the earl. “Can we have a
candle?”

The woman got up from her chair at the back of the room and lighted one.

“Come with me,” she said, “and I will show you your chamber.”

Continue Reading

AT NIAGARA FALLS

On the Monday succeeding, Scott started on his trip with a supply of
samples and full instructions. His route extended as far as Cleveland,
including Albany and the principal towns in New York State, besides some
in Ohio.

He traveled slowly, having been told to make a thorough canvass of the
places he visited.

He was everywhere well received. His bright, pleasant manner made
friends, and though sometimes his youth proved at first an obstacle, in
a short time he won the confidence of customers. It became clear that he
understood his business.

“You are rather young to represent such a large firm as Tower, Douglas &
Co,” said a careful Scotch merchant in Syracuse.

“I think so myself,” answered Scott, good-humoredly.

“Have they any other drummers as young?”

“I don’t think so. In fact, I know they have not.”

“How did they come to make an exception in your case?”

“I don’t know, unless it was out of kindness.”

“Then you don’t think it was because you were extra smart?” asked the
merchant, pointedly.

“Time will show whether I am or not,” said Scott, smiling.

“Well, I will ask you a few questions, and then I can judge for myself.”

Scott answered these questions freely and intelligently. He seemed to
understand the different qualities of the goods he carried, and would
not allow himself to make any claims for them that could not be
substantiated. As a result, Mr. Cameron bought a large order.

“I begin to understand why you were selected,” he said.

“I hope you think the firm was justified.”

“I do. You understand your business, and you make no
misrepresentations.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“If ever you leave your present place I will give you a position.”

“Thank you still more. I will remember it.”

At Elmira, Scott received the following in a letter from Mr. Douglas,
the junior partner: “You are doing finely. You are beating the record.”

This pleased Scott. He did not know whether he had done as well as was
anticipated, but this reassured him.

Two days after Scott started on his mission, Loammi entered the store on
a visit instigated by curiosity. It was partly also at the suggestion of
his father, who thought through Scott’s influence he might redeem his
error and obtain an interest in the invention, which he believed would
be very profitable.

Entering the store, Loammi looked about him, and finally spoke to a
young man near the door.

“Is a boy named Scott Walton employed here?” he asked.

The clerk addressed was a friend of Scott, and guessed who it was that
was inquiring about him. He was tempted to play a joke on Loammi.

“There was a clerk here by that name,” he answered, slowly.

“Isn’t he here now?”

“He left us two or three days since.

“Has he got another place?”

“I don’t think so.”

Loammi brightened up. It seemed too good news to be true. His despised
cousin had been discharged.

Loammi could not have heard anything that would have pleased him more.

“Do you know why he was discharged?” he asked, eagerly.

“No, I don’t,” answered the other, with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you
know him?”

“Yes; he is a distant relation of mine.”

“Then perhaps you can judge better than I why he did not give
satisfaction.”

“I am not at all surprised. He was too fresh. That was the matter with
him.”

“Dear me! How unfortunate!”

“Yes; he’ll never stay long anywhere. Pa had him in his store for a
while–Ezra Little’s store, Eighth Avenue–but he was obliged to send
him away.”

“And are you Mr. Little’s son?” asked the young clerk, with mock
deference.

“Yes; I am his only son,” answered Loammi, loftily.

“Dear me! I am proud to know you. And I suppose you will some time own
the store?” continued the clerk, inquiringly.

“Probably, though I am not sure but I may become a lawyer. Do you know
where Walton lives?”

“No. There are so many in the store that I know the residences of very
few.”

Loammi took his departure in a very complacent frame of mind. He had
always been jealous of Scott, and the intelligence that he had lost his
place was very agreeable to him.

It so happened that on Broadway he met Seth Lawton, whom he had not seen
for a good while. Under ordinary circumstances he would have taken no
notice of him, but now he had an object in speaking to him.

“Good-morning, Mr. Lawton,” he said, condescendingly.

“Oh, good-morning, Loammi,” rejoined the old man, who was short-sighted,
when he realized who it was that had addressed him.

“Where do you think I have been?”

“I am sure I cannot tell.”

“I have been to the store of Tower, Douglas & Co., to call upon Scott.”

“Indeed! That was very kind of you.”

“And you can imagine my surprise to find that he had been discharged.”

“Is it possible?” ejaculated Seth, who at once guessed how Loammi had
been misled.

“Yes.”

“That is a great pity. Perhaps your father will take him back into the
store.”

“I don’t think he will. If he don’t do for Tower, Douglas & Co., he
won’t do for pa.”

“But the poor boy must live.”

“Oh, well,” said Loammi, carelessly, “he can get a chance to sell papers
or–black boots.”

“Surely your father would not allow his young cousin to sink to that
employment.”

“Pa wouldn’t interfere. I have heard him say that he has washed his
hands of Scott. If he had behaved himself it would have been different.”

“Poor boy! I must see what I can do for him.”

“You’d better not, Cousin Seth. You are a poor man, and it will be all
you can do to look after yourself.”

“Still, Loammi, consider Scott’s position.”

“He must look out for himself. I advise you not to call round and ask pa
to take him back.”

“I must think what I can do for him.”

“The old man feels pretty bad,” thought Loammi. “Well, they are a good
match. For my part I don’t think much of poor relations.”

Loammi hurried home to impart the welcome news to his father.

“What do you think, pa?” he burst out. “Scott’s lost his position.”

“Is this true, Loammi?” asked his father, in some surprise.

“Yes, pa; I went to the store this morning, and one of the clerks told
me.”

“Do you know what was the matter?”

“Oh, I suppose he was too fresh. Now, I suppose, he will be trying to
come back to you.”

“I might agree to take him if he would come back on the old terms.”

“You don’t mean it, pa! After he has lost his place, too!”

“Oh, well, I could look after him. He would be worth his board.”

“One thing, he couldn’t put on any airs after his disgrace. By the way,
I met Mr. Lawton on Broadway.”

“Cousin Seth?”

“Yes.”

“Did he have anything to say about Scott’s discharge?”

“He didn’t appear to know anything about it till I told him.”

“Do you know where Scott boards?”

“No.”

“Oh, well, he will probably be coming around to see me after a while. I
should like to have him, as I want to get at that inventor through him.”

“Do you think there’s money in it, pa?”

“As I should manage it there might be,” said his father, cautiously.

Mr. Little looked for Scott from day to day, but three weeks passed and
he heard nothing from him.

On his way back from Cleveland, Scott, having the necessary leisure,
stopped a couple of days at Niagara Falls. He registered his name at the
Clifton House, on the Canada side.

He lost no time in visiting the objects of interest connected with the
falls, and at the close of the first day sat on the piazza, with the
falls in sight.

A blond-bearded young man of perhaps twenty-five, evidently an
Englishman, sat near by. He looked at Scott once or twice, as if tempted
to speak, but a certain reticence characteristic of his countrymen
appeared to prevent.

Scott observed this, and made a remark by way of opening a conversation.

“Yes,” answered the young man, “you are right. The falls are grand. You
Americans ought to be very proud of them.”

“But,” said Scott, smiling, “I am not an American.”

The Englishman looked surprised, for Scott, though he had only been in
America a year, had come to resemble the people among whom he had cast
his lot.

“What, then, are you?” inquired his new acquaintance, looking puzzled.

“I was born in England.”

“Indeed!” said the other. “Then we are countrymen.”

“I am glad to know it,” said Scott, courteously.

“How long have you been in America, if I may ask?”

“A little more than a year.”

“And do you live in Canada?”

“No, I live in New York.”

“You are not–in business?” queried the Englishman, noticing his
youthful appearance.

“Oh, yes, I am employed by a New York firm.”

“But how do you happen–excuse my asking–to be here? But perhaps it is
your vacation.”

“No, I am traveling for the firm. I am a traveling salesman for the
house of Tower, Douglas & Co.”

“That is a large firm, I have heard.”

“One of the largest in New York.”

“I confess I am puzzled. You occupy such a responsible position, and yet
you are so young.”

“I believe my case is exceptional. I am the youngest traveler for our
house.”

“I rejoice in your success, since you are an English boy. May I ask your
name?”

Scott handed his new acquaintance a card like this:

SCOTT WALTON
Representing
TOWER, DOUGLAS & CO.
NEW YORK.

“Thank you,” said the other.

He took from his pocket a card, from which Scott learned that he was
Lord Cecil Grant, Earl of Windermere.

“I am honored in making your acquaintance,” said Scott. “May I say that
you seem young to be an earl? I fancied all earls were at least fifty
years of age.”

“I wish that I had waited till fifty for my title,” said the young
Englishman, gravely; “but my poor father died suddenly, six months ago,
and partly to dissipate my grief I came to America.”

“Have you been here long, my lord?” asked Scott, not knowing exactly how
to address his distinguished companion.

“Never mind the title,” said the earl, smiling.

“It comes awkwardly to an American to use it, and you are already half
an American.”

“What shall I call you, then?”

“You may call me Mr. Grant, if you like. If you come to know me better,
you may call me Cecil. I shall take the liberty, since you are a boy, to
call you Scott.”

As he spoke there was a winning smile upon his face, and Scott felt that
he should like him.

“I will try to forget that you are an earl,” he said, “and then I shall
feel more at home with you.”

“What do you say to a walk, Scott? The evening is too fine to spend
here.”

“I shall be delighted.”

He put on his hat, and the two sauntered off together. They were both
good walkers, and had covered several miles before they returned to the
hotel.

“I wish I had met you before, Scott,” said the earl, familiarly. “Won’t
you tell me something about yourself, and your history? I am sure you
have one.”

Almost before he knew it, Scott had told the story already familiar to
the reader. The earl listened with evident interest.

“Really,” he said, “it is worthy of telling in book form. That uncle of
yours—-”

“My mother’s cousin,” corrected Scott.

“No matter. We will say relative. He must certainly be a mean,
disagreeable fellow, don’t you know, and as to your cousin with the
peculiar name—-”

“Loammi.”

“Yes, I never heard the name before. Well, he must be a cad.”

“I think he is,” said Scott, smiling; “but I assure you he considers
himself infinitely above me.”

“I shall not ask you for an introduction.”

“He would like nothing better than to become acquainted with you, Mr.
Grant.”

“You compliment me. Well, here we are at the hotel. What are your plans
for to-morrow? I hope you do not leave in the morning?”

“No; I shall spend another day here.”

“Why not spend it together?”

“I should like nothing better,” said Scott, sincerely.

“Then we will do so. I will secure a carriage in the morning, and we
will make a day of it.”

He was as good as his word, and Scott had a delightful time. He almost
succeeded in forgetting his companion’s rank, and found him a congenial
companion.

Just after supper, when the earl had gone up to his room, a
pretentious-looking man of middle age, who seemed to be continually
trying to assert his claim to superiority, came up to Scott.

“Boy,” he said, “I understand there is an English earl staying at the
hotel?”

“Yes, sir. It is the Earl of Windermere.”

“Have you seen him? Could you point him out to me?”

“He has gone up to his room, but will probably be back almost
immediately.”

“How shall I know him?”

“He will come up and speak to me, and then we shall probably go out to
walk together.”

“Are you a friend of the earl?” asked Mr. Burton, in surprise.

“I think I may call myself so. We have been together all day.”

Mr. Burton regarded Scott with new respect. He had unceremoniously
called him “boy,” but it was before he knew that he was a friend of an
earl.

“Would you kindly introduce me?” he asked, eagerly.

“I am not quite sure whether he would be willing,” returned Scott, with
hesitation.

“Would you mind asking him?”

“If you will let me know your name, sir.”

“I am Nathan Burton, of Albany. I have been an alderman,” said the
other, consequentially.

“I hope you may yet be mayor,” answered Scott, amused.

“Stranger things have happened,” rejoined Mr. Burton, complacently. “Did
you come over with the earl?”

“A year earlier,” returned Scott, gravely.

From this Mr. Burton inferred that they had been friends on the other
side.

“And your name is—-”

“Scott Walton.”

“An aristocratic name!” thought the Albany alderman. “Are you related to
the earl?”

“No, sir. We are only friends.”

At this moment the earl entered the room, and at once went up to Scott.

“Are you ready for a walk, Scott?” he asked.

“Yes, but first—-” And here in a low voice Scott communicated Mr.
Burton’s request.

The earl looked around at the alderman and seemed amused.

“Very well,” he said, smiling.

At a signal, Mr. Burton approached.

“My lord,” said Scott, formally, “allow me to present Mr. Alderman
Burton, of Albany.”

Mr. Burton bowed profoundly.

“I am glad to become acquainted with a representative American,” said
the earl, in a dignified voice, quite different from his tone in talking
with Scott.

“My lord earl, I feel very much honored to make your acquaintance,” said
Mr. Burton, with another profound bow.

“I believe you Americans have no titles,” said the earl.

“No, my lord; but I should be in favor of having them.”

“In that case, you might become Earl of Albany.”

“You do me proud, indeed you do, my lord,” said the gratified alderman.

“I am sorry to leave you so soon, but my young friend and I propose to
have a walk.”

“Don’t let me detain you, my lord. If I might dare to ask one favor—-”

“What is it, sir?”

“If you would favor me with your card?”

With a smile, the earl produced the coveted bit of pasteboard and
handed it to the alderman.

When they were fairly out of the hotel, both laughed merrily.

“Do you want me to be as respectful as Mr. Alderman Burton?” asked
Scott.

“No, be yourself, Scott. That will suit me better.”

Continue Reading

DISAPPOINTMENT

Had Scott spent all his salary he could not have been charged with
extravagance, for ten dollars a week in a large city melts away, but he
made it a matter of principle to save two dollars weekly. So at the end
of a year he had one hundred dollars, and was fairly well clothed.

It was on the last day of the year that he received a summons to the
office.

He answered it with some little trepidation, for it was possible that
the firm had decided to dispense with his services.

“Take a seat, Scott,” said Mr. Tower, pleasantly, when he entered the
office. “I believe you have been with us for a year.”

“Yes, sir.”

“We are quite satisfied with you. You have shown ability as a salesman,
and have taken an intelligent interest in the business. For this reason
we are disposed to promote you.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Scott, much gratified.

“Though you are unusually young, we are disposed to try you on the road.
How would you like that?”

“I should like nothing better.”

“Your compensation, if you are successful, would be considerably greater
than you are now paid. How much, will depend upon your success.”

“I should be quite content with that arrangement, sir.”

“We shall start you out probably within a week. One of our salesmen is
sick, and we shall put you on his route. You will go to Cleveland and
intermediate places. You will receive your instructions in due time.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Scott left the office much elated. He knew that there was no drummer
employed by the firm less than twenty-three years of age, while he was
barely eighteen. He resolved to succeed if success were possible, for he
felt that this would give him an important position and an excellent
income.

“How fortunate I did not stay with Cousin Ezra,” he thought. “If I had
probably I should not be receiving more than six dollars a week now.”

Scott, as has already been said, boarded on Lexington Avenue. He
occupied a small room, and paid but five dollars a week, but those who
occupied the larger rooms paid in proportion to the accommodation
enjoyed.

In the room just opposite to his lived a man of about forty, whom Scott
had met more than once on the stairs but did not feel very well
acquainted with.

Just after supper he was preparing to go out, when there was a knock at
the door.

Opening it, he found that the caller was his opposite neighbor. He was
looking pale and depressed.

“Can you lend me a few matches?” he asked.

“Certainly, Mr. Babcock; won’t you step in and sit down?” said Scott,
cordially.

The visitor hesitated, then said, slowly: “I will do so, but I shall not
be very good company.”

“I am glad of the chance of making your acquaintance,” said Scott. “I
have only seen you on the stairs heretofore.”

“I don’t think you will see much more of me,” said the visitor, soberly.

“Why not? Are you intending to move away?”

“It is not exactly a matter of choice,” said Babcock.

Scott could guess why, for his visitor was very poorly clad. His suit
was frayed and rusty, and there were unmistakable marks of poverty about
his whole appearance.

Scott felt delicate about speaking of this. He contented himself with
saying: “I am sorry to hear it.”

“The fact is,” went on Babcock, with a sigh, “I am a failure, and have
just begun to realize it.”

“If you wouldn’t mind telling me about it,” said Scott, gently, “I can
at least sympathize with you.”

“Sympathy will be welcome. It is long since I have had any.”

He paused, and presently continued:

“You must know that I am an inventor. I need say no more to satisfy you
that I am a visionary and unpractical man.”

“I don’t know about that. There have been many successful inventors.”

“And I might be one but for one unfortunate circumstance.”

“What is that, sir?”

“I have used up all my money, and though the invention is perfected, I
am unable to reap the benefit of it.”

“Would you mind telling me the nature of your invention?”

“It is a window fastener. You may think it a trifle, but it is the small
inventions which from their nature come into common use, and thus pay
the best.”

“I can understand that. How long have you been at work on your
invention?”

“A year. I had a little money when I began, and it has supported me
while I was at work. Now that the invention is perfected, I am without
funds. I may as well be plain, and say that I cannot pay my next week’s
board.”

“Couldn’t you get some man with money to help you?”

“It is what I have been hoping for. In fact, I called yesterday on a
prominent merchant, and laid the matter before him.”

“Who was it, Mr. Babcock?”

“Ezra Little.”

Scott looked surprised.

“He is a relative of mine,” he said. “How did he treat you?”

“He listened to what I had to say, and promised to write to me. He did
so. Shall I show you the letter?”

“If you are willing.”

The inventor drew from his pocket a typewritten letter, and showed it to
Scott. It ran thus:

“MR. HENRY BABCOCK.

“DEAR SIR: I have thought over the small invention you showed me
yesterday. I doubt if there is any money in it, but as I presume
you are in want, I will give you thirty-five dollars for it. I can
stand the small loss, and it will tide you over till you can get a
position that will support you.

“Yours truly,

“EZRA LITTLE.”

“Mr. Little is not very liberal,” said Scott, smiling.

“No,” answered the inventor, bitterly. “Think of the year’s labor I have
spent upon it, and the prospect before me if I accept this paltry sum.
With economy it would last me a month, and then what would become of
me?”

“True; but there are other men besides Mr. Little, who might perhaps
deal with you more generously.”

“You are right, but I don’t think you understand my position. My
available funds are reduced to two dollars. Sometimes in my desperation
I have thought I would go down to Brooklyn Bridge, and end it all. I
think I should have done so but for one thing.”

“What is that?” asked Scott, beginning to show a strong personal
interest in his unfortunate visitor.

“I have a little daughter–four years old. I must live for her.”

“Yes, you must live for her and yourself, too. You may yet be
successful.”

“Do you perhaps know of some capitalist?” asked the inventor, eagerly.

“I know of a gentleman who is well supplied with money, and I will lay
the matter before him. Meanwhile, as you need the money, accept this
loan.”

Scott drew from his pocket two five-dollar bills and tendered them to
Mr. Babcock.

“You have given me new life and new hope,” said the inventor, his pale
face brightening. “Who is the gentleman?”

“A Mr. Wood–Justin Wood. He lives at the Gilsey House, and he has been
very kind to me. In fact, I owe the position I hold to him.”

“Is he–a practical man? Would he see the possibilities of my
invention?”

“I can’t say, but out of regard to me he would give it consideration.”

“When can we see him? Excuse my impatience, but you can understand how
much it means to me.”

“I do, Mr. Babcock, and I will therefore go with you to his hotel this
very evening, though we may possibly not find him in.”

“If you will be so kind I will get ready at once.”

In five minutes they were on their way to the Gilsey House.

Arrived at the Gilsey House, Scott went into the reading room, thinking
he might find Mr. Wood there. But he failed to see him.

“Whom are you looking for?” asked Edward Stripling, the telephone boy,
who occupied one corner of the room.

“Mr. Wood.”

“Perhaps you are the one he wanted to see. He told me to tell any one
inquiring that he would be back in fifteen minutes.”

“Then we shan’t have to wait long, Mr. Babcock.”

The inventor took up a paper from the table, but he was so nervous that
he could not concentrate his attention upon it.

Ten minutes later Justin Wood entered the room.

“I am glad to see you, Scott,” was his cordial greeting.

“Thank you, Mr. Wood. I come on business. Let me introduce Mr.
Babcock.”

“Glad to see you, Mr. Babcock,” said Wood, courteously.

“Could we go up to your room? We won’t keep you long.”

“Certainly. Follow me.”

Mr. Wood had a front room on the third floor a pleasant apartment, for
which he paid a high rent.

“Now, Mr. Wood,” began Scott, “I am going to ask your attention for ten
minutes.”

“I will give you fifteen, if necessary,” said Wood, smiling.

Thereupon Scott told the story of the inventor, to which Justin Wood
listened attentively.

“Have you a model of your invention?” he asked, turning to Babcock.

“Here it is, sir.”

The young man asked various questions, which Babcock answered
satisfactorily.

“I think well of your invention,” said Mr. Wood, in conclusion. “Now,
what do you want me to do?”

Scott answered.

“Mr. Babcock has exhausted all his means and is penniless,” he said.
“The invention is perfected, but he is not in a position to put it
before the public. He has, to be sure, received offers of assistance
from a gentleman whom we both know.”

“To whom do you refer?”

“Ezra Little.”

“Indeed! Is that liberal gentleman willing to help him?”

“He offers me thirty-five dollars for the invention,” said Babcock,
bitterly. “I have spent a whole year in perfecting it, and this is to be
my compensation.”

“I think you had better not trouble Mr. Little,” observed Justin,
quietly. “How much money do you need to put it before the public?”

“If I had one hundred and fifty dollars,” said the inventor,
hesitatingly, “I think I could manage. I would be willing to sell a
one-half interest for that sum.”

“That would not be enough,” said Wood, decidedly.

“With it I’d stand some chance of success.”

“I will tell you what I will do. I will give you five hundred dollars
for one-third interest, on condition that you work zealously to make it
a success.”

“Oh, sir, you are too generous,” said Babcock, with emotion. “With that
money I see my way clear.”

“What would be your plan?”

“I can make arrangements with a responsible party to manufacture it, and
will myself travel and put it before the public.”

“I will risk it.”

“I am sure, sir, that you will get your money back several times over.”

“I hope so. I am not buying it for myself, but for a friend of mine.”

Scott looked at him inquiringly.

“The friend is Scott Walton,” he said, smiling. “Should it pay, I shall
deduct the five hundred dollars from the first money received in the way
of profit, and then make over the whole investment to you, Scott. I hope
it may make you rich.”

“How can I thank you, Mr. Wood?” said Scott, gratefully.

“Wait till you see whether you have anything to be grateful for.”

“There is no doubt about that,” said the inventor, confidently. “You
will excuse me for saying, Mr. Wood, that I shall work even harder for
my young friend Walton than I would for you.”

“That is just what I wish. I am already rich, while Scott has his
fortune yet to make.”

“I will help him to make it.”

“Come around to-morrow, Mr. Babcock, at ten o’clock, and I will have the
money ready. We will also have papers regularly drawn up, so that
Scott’s share of the investment may be secured to him. And now, I shall
have to bid you good-evening, as I have an engagement with a friend at
the Union League Club.”

The two went out.

The inventor was fairly radiant.

“Mr. Walton,” he said, “you don’t know what you have done for me. You
have given me a new lease of life. When I came to your room to-night I
was in a mood that might have led me to throw myself from the Brooklyn
Bridge. Mr. Little’s cold-blooded letter had much to do with bringing on
that mood. I felt that there was no hope for me.”

“And now?”

“Now I have hope–and confidence. I have a presentiment of success. I
shall make myself rich and you also.”

“I hope your presentiment will prove prophetic,” said Scott, smiling. “I
can assure you that a fortune will be welcome. At present I have only
accumulated one hundred dollars.”

“That is not bad for a young man of your age.”

“Say a boy. I am not ashamed of being a boy.”

“Remember I am speaking of my partner. I must speak of him with
respect.”

“Did I tell you I was going to leave the city for a time?”

“No. Why is it? You have not lost your place, I hope.”

“No, I am going to travel for the firm. If I am lucky I shall soon earn
an excellent income.”

“You are sure to do that.”

“How can you tell that I will succeed?”

“I was not referring to your regular position. I was thinking of your
interest in my invention.”

“You are confident, then, of success?”

“I am quite confident of it.”

“I hope you are right; mostly, however, on your account, for I think my
future is tolerably secure.”

“I see you have no idea of the value of your interest in my enterprise.”

“I shall not think seriously of it, but I will welcome any good that may
come to me from it.”

“My life will be changed,” said Babcock. “I shall at once send for my
little Molly.”

“Is that your little daughter?”

“Yes.”

“Where is she now?”

“In the country. Now, I shall feel justified in bringing her to the
city. She is a sweet little girl.”

“I am sure you will be happier for having her with you.”

“Yes, you may well say that.”

“By the way, have you answered Ezra Little’s letter?”

“No; I shall answer it in person to-morrow, after I have concluded
arrangements with your friend.”

About two o’clock the next day, the inventor took his way to Ezra
Little’s dry-goods store on Eighth Avenue. He sent in his name and was
admitted.

He was a welcome visitor, for Mr. Little, who was a practical man, had a
fair conception of the value of his invention, and meant to make a
fortune out of it–for himself. As for the poor inventor, he cared
little for him.

Henry Babcock entered the merchant’s presence, and was bidden to take a
seat.

“I received a letter from you, Mr. Little,” he said.

“Yes. I offered you thirty-five dollars for your invention.”

“That seems to me very small.”

“Probably it is more than I shall make out of it, but you seemed to be
in need, and I am willing to help you.”

“Don’t you think, however, you could let me have more? Thirty-five
dollars would not support me a month.”

“It would give you time to look for a place, Mr. Babcock.”

“But, Mr. Little, think of the time I have spent–and the money!”

“That does not concern me,” said the merchant, coldly.

“I think I shall have to decline your offer.”

“That is foolish. However, I will strain a point, and give you fifty
dollars.”

Henry Babcock shook his head.

“Mr. Little,” he said, triumphantly, “I have sold a one-third interest
in my invention for five hundred dollars.”

Ezra Little looked amazed and disappointed. It was a chance of his life
lost.

“What fool gave you that sum?” he asked, roughly.

“A Mr. Wood, to whom your cousin, Scott Walton, introduced me.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that at first?” snarled Ezra Little. “Wood must
have been a fool to be influenced by that boy. Good-morning!”

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