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Brave Tom by Edward S. Ellis

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It was the best spot possible for the fugitive to land, being covered with
wood and undergrowth, extending almost to the verge of the river itself.

Directly into this Jim plunged and ran with the speed of a frightened
deer, until he had gone a few rods, when he darted to one side, ran a
little farther, and dropped flat on his face. For a moment, while he lay
listening, he heard nothing but the thumping of his own heart, which he
feared would betray him.

In the silence he wondered what had become of his pursuers.

Had they given up the chase, believing the fugitive was gone beyond

Jim had no more than asked himself the question when he heard them moving
through the undergrowth, a great deal closer than was agreeable. Worse
still, they were approaching him, and discussing the question while doing

"He didn't run far," said one, whose voice the lad recognized as belonging
to Bob.

"No; he must be hiding somewhere close by; we've each a charge left, and
we'll keep it ready to fire when he shows himself."

"Yes, he must be somewhere around here, and we'll scare him up before
long," was the assuring expression.

It looked very much as if they would keep their word, and Jim was sure he
would have to move his quarters to escape discovery. This was a matter of
exceeding difficulty, for the wretches were listening for some such noise,
which would betray their victim.

They seemed to be pursuing the hunt in a scientific manner, by walking
back and forth over a certain area, gradually verging to the right, which
was where Jim was crouching.

The boy succeeded in creeping a dozen feet, perhaps, without drawing
attention to himself, when he was brought to a standstill by coming
squarely against a fence, whose rails were too close together to allow his
body to pass through.

Jim was in an agony of fear, for the two were steadily drawing near him.

When he was in despair there came the flutter of a bird in precisely the
opposite direction, and the suspicion of the sailors immediately turned

This was Jim's golden opportunity, and he was over the obstruction in a
twinkling. But the fates seemed against him. Just as he left the top rail,
it broke with a loud crash; and, feeling that everything now depended on
his fleetness, he made his legs do their duty. Once over the fence, the
fugitive found he was in the broad, open highway, along which he darted
like a lad whose life was at stake.

As there was a light gleaming only a short way ahead, his enemies must
have seen that it was hardly a safe thing to pursue their evil intent any

Dreading they would not stop, Jim kept up his headlong flight, dashing
through the open gate, without a pause for dogs, and giving so resounding
a knock on the door that the old farmer instantly appeared, wondering what
in the name of the seven wonders could be the matter.

"Can I stay here over night?" asked Jim, panting with terror; "a couple of
bad men are after me."

"Yes, certainly, my boy; come in. I've one patient now, but you are
welcome. My other boy is well enough to sit up."

Looking across the room, the astounded Jim saw his old friend, Tom Gordon,
sitting in an easy-chair, with one leg bandaged, as though suffering from
a hurt.

Chapter XVII.

The meeting between Tom Gordon and Jim Travers was one of the most joyous

As soon as the fugitive recognized his old friend, he uttered a cry of
delight, and rushing forward, threw his arms around his neck, and the
latter responded with a regular shout of happiness.

Then they laughed and asked and answered questions for some ten minutes,
both in such a flutter of excitement, that their stock of knowledge was
scarcely increased in the least.

By the time they got down to their sober senses, Jim awoke to the fact
that a couple of bad men were after him, and were likely to pursue him
across the threshold of the farmer's home.

There was no one present during the affecting interview between the lads
excepting the kind host, and he was so touched by the joy of his guests
that he more than once drew his hand across his face in a very expressive

When Jim explained his peril, telling how it was he escaped to this place,
the farmer said,--

"You may bid farewell to all earthly fear while you're here with me. The
old woman is over to one of the neighbors', and there ain't no one home
but me; howsomever, I'm equal to any two."

Just then the gate was heard to shut, and the farmer stepped hurriedly to
the window and looked out.

"Yes, there's two men coming up the path."

"They're after me," said the frightened Jim; "let me run out through the
back way; I can get away from them."

"You won't do any such thing," was the resolute reply of the old man,
while he compressed his lips, and his eyes flashed resolutely.

"This is _my_ home, and the law says it is my castle; and if any man
attempts to cross that threshold against my orders, on his head be the

By way of making matters consistent, he stepped briskly into the next
room; and when he returned, which was in the course of three seconds, he
held a loaded double-barreled gun in his grasp.

"It's well to have something like this to sorter emphasize what you say,
you know--hello!"

The scoundrels were at the door, and a resounding knock was heard.

"Come in," called back the old man, who stood in the room, gun in hand.

Instead of opening the door, the criminals on the outside knocked again,
their evident purpose being to gain an advantage by bringing some one to

"Come in!"

This was uttered in a tone that could be heard a hundred yards, and those
who were applying for admission could not pretend to be ignorant of such a
lusty welcome as that.

The latch was lifted, the door shoved inward, and there the two sailors
stood, each with a revolver in hand, looking into the room, but neither
venturing to step over the threshold.

We have stated where the farmer stood, and what his pose meant.

Tom Gordon was nearly recovered from his fractured leg, and he, too, had
risen from his chair with his pistol in hand. He told Jim to get as near
him--or rather behind him--as he could, and if there was to be any
shooting, why, he would take a hand.

The sailors could not fail to take in the fact that the three were on
their mettle, and something more than a summons was necessary to bring
them to terms.

"Well, what do you want?" asked the farmer, in a voice like a growl, while
he lowered upon them in the most ominous style.

"We want that boy," replied Bob, the sailor, pointing his pistol at the
fellow, whose heart beat a little faster when he found himself confronted
by such danger.

"Do you want to go with them?" asked the farmer of the boy.

"No; they mean to kill me; they've tried it already, and you can see that
my clothes are still wet from jumping into the river to swim away from

"He belongs to us. We don't wish to hurt him; but he must go with us. If
he refuses, we shall take him, and it will be bad for you."

"It will, eh?" muttered the farmer, a peculiar click, click, where his
hand grasped the gun, showing that he was cocking the weapon, so as to be
ready for business. "It will, eh? Now I'll give you just two seconds and a
half to take yourselves out of my sight, and if you don't, I'll empty both
barrels of this gun into you."

"Let me know when you're going to shoot, Mr. Pitcairn," said Tom, also
cocking his revolver, "because I want to join in."

The sailors, with some muttered imprecations, wheeled about and took
themselves off, leaving the three masters of the field.

This danger removed, the boys sat down, and while the farmer went out to
attend to some work about the premises, they talked coolly and sensibly
over the past and future.

Tom was almost entirely recovered from the hurt to his leg, and expected
to leave the house in the course of a few days.

He had written to and received a letter from his employers, notifying him
that his situation was gone and there was none to give him.

So his future was as uncertain as that of Jim, who had not received a
penny since leaving home the winter before, and who had not the remotest
idea as to what he should do.

Jim had a small sum of money with him, and his other clothes were still
preserved by his friend.

As Tom was the owner of some extra garments, these were donned by the
fellow who had received such a ducking; and, as the room was pleasantly
warm, he experienced no inconvenience from his bath.

Tom had also quite a sum in the savings-bank, and though he was reluctant
to call upon it, yet there was enough to provide both against any want.

Tom said Farmer Pitcairn was a kind man, and thought he should be paid
something for his entertainment of the wounded boy, as was manifestly his
due; yet he would treat them as well without the slightest compensation.

When the farmer came in, and the case was laid before him, he said that he
could make use of Jim at once, and of Tom as soon as he should be able to
go around, and they might remain on the farm as long as they chose.

The life of a young farmer was not very attractive to either of the lads,
but they concluded to fall back on it until they could find some more
agreeable opening.

There was some fear that the two sailors would show themselves again and
make trouble, but nothing more of them was ever seen.

When Jim related the story of his abduction, Tom and Mr. Pitcairn boiled
with indignation, and insisted on a prosecution of the scoundrels,
including Mr. Hornblower, who could easily be reached by the strong arm of
the law.

On mature reflection, however, the scheme was abandoned.

Jim made himself as useful as he could; and being unusually bright and
quick to learn, he disappointed the farmer with his readiness in picking
up the hundreds of mysterious little things which make up the farmer's

He learned to milk the cows, to drive the plow, to ride the most fractious
horses, and to break the fiery young colts; he knew precisely how to look
after the horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, fowls, and everything at night and
in the morning.

As Tom regained the use of his limb, he joined him in this pursuit of
knowledge, which had a great many pleasant features about it.

They became expert in the use of the gun, and as one of the neighbors
owned a rifle which he was willing to lend, they practiced until they
grew quite skillful in the use of that weapon.

The pistol afforded another branch of the science of projectiles, and, as
the revolver was an unusually good one, they also became remarkably expert
in the use of that little "bulldog."

Jim visited the city a short time after his arrival at the farmer's, and
brought back all the property belonging to himself and Tom, as well as the
money deposited in the savings-bank.

This latter move was one of the best they ever made. Two days after, the
bank in which the deposit was made went to pieces, the depositors,
consisting mainly of the poorer classes of people, losing all, while the
officers retired with plethoric pockets to wait till the storm should blow

During these beautiful days the lads held long and earnest conferences as
to what they should do, for they had reached an age wherein there was
little time to spare.

They discussed the plan of learning some useful trade, and decided to do
so; but, after several attempts to secure the opportunity, all resulting
in failure, they gave it up, concluding that the fates had not intended
them for such a life. They could not bring themselves down to the plan of
remaining farmers all their days.

Tom would have liked to become a lawyer, and Jim inclined to the
profession of medicine; but being without friends to secure the openings,
they were compelled to give them the go-by, for the present at least.
Another occupation seemed peculiarly attractive to them; that was one
where each could make use of his skill in penmanship, something in the way
of clerical work. In the pursuit of this phantom they learned the rather
mournful fact that every such situation in the United States has from ten
to a hundred applicants.

The boys became well satisfied that Farmer Pitcairn was allowing them to
remain with him under the pretense of work, when the real truth was that
they were more of a hindrance than a help. This knowledge made them
uncomfortable, and caused them to resolve that it should not continue.

The spring wore along until the mild summer came, and still the boys
remained with Farmer Pitcairn.

Chapter XVIII.

One night Jim Travers talked a great deal in his sleep. His tossing awoke
Tom Gordon several times and caused him some anxiety, which was increased
when he touched his friend's cheek and found him suffering with a burning
fever. Toward morning Jim's restlessness partly subsided, and he fell into
a fitful slumber. Tom dropped off, and did not awake until he heard his
friend astir.

"What's the matter?" asked the elder, sitting up in bed and looking in a
scared way at Jim, who having partly dressed himself, was sitting on the
side of the couch.

"I don't know; I feel awful queer; my head is light; I saw father and
sister Maggie last night: did you see anything of them?"

"No; you were dreaming."

"They were here; father came in the room and looked at me, but did not
speak and went away, but Maggie took hold of my hand and asked me to go
with her. Wasn't it strange, Tom, that she should come back after all
these years? I saw her as plain as I do you."

Tom was frightened. Swallowing a lump in his throat, and hiding his
agitation as best he could, he said gently,--

"Jim, you are ill. Lie down on the bed again and I'll call Mrs. Pitcairn."

"I'm afraid there is something the matter with me," muttered the younger
lad, lying down, his face flushed and his eyes staring. He said something
which showed his mind was wandering and he had become flighty.

Tom hastily donned his clothing and hurried downstairs to the farmer's
good wife, who lost no time in coming to the room of the boys. By this
time Jim had lost all knowledge of his surroundings. He was muttering and
saying all sorts of strange things, speaking of his father, of his sister
Maggie, and even of his mother, who died when he was a very small boy.

Mrs. Pitcairn had no children of her own, but she had had great experience
in the sick-room. She saw, almost at a glance, that Jim Travers was
suffering from a violent and dangerous fever. She prepared him a bitter
but soothing draught of herbs, and told her husband a physician must be
brought without delay.

Farmer Pitcairn felt a strong affection for the two lads, whose singular
coming beneath his roof has been told. He was as much concerned as his
wife, and, harnessing his horse, drove off at a swift pace for the family
doctor, who appeared on the scene a couple of hours later.

"He is ill, very ill," said the physician; "his fever is of a typhus
character, though not strictly that. There has been considerable of it
this spring and summer in New York."

"Is it contagious?" asked the farmer.

"Somewhat; though it seems to be more of the nature of an epidemic; that
is, it travels through the air, appearing without special reason at one
place, and then at another. We have had three cases in the neighborhood
the past fortnight."

"What was the result?" asked Mrs. Pitcairn.

"One was Mrs. Wilson, an elderly lady; the other her grandson, and a
nephew of Mr. Chisholm," replied the doctor, not answering the question.

"What was the result?" repeated Mr. Pitcairn for his wife.

The doctor shook his head, and, with his eyes on the flaming face of Jim
Travers, whispered,--

"All three died within twenty-four hours after being taken."

Tom Gordon's eyes filled with tears.

"O Doctor! is it as bad as that?"

"I am sorry to say it is. We shall hope for the best with this young man.
Give him the medicine every hour, and I will call again this evening. You
have all been exposed to whatever danger there is in the air, so you need
not be alarmed."

"It wouldn't make any difference about that," said Tom; "I'm going to
stay with him, and do all I can. I don't care whether or not I catch the

"That is more creditable to your heart than your head. Don't forget," said
the doctor, speaking to all, "to watch yourselves closely. At the first
appearance of headache, ringing in the ears, and fever, take those powders
that I have left on the stand. This is one of the cases where an ounce of
prevention is worth a good many pounds of cure. Nothing more can be done
for the boy than to follow the prescription I have given you. I will be
here again in the evening, unless he should become much worse, when you
can send for me."

Tom Gordon will never forget that day and night. He refused to leave the
bedside of his friend except for a few minutes. The farmer and his wife
were equally faithful, and did all they could for the sufferer, whose
condition seemed to show a slight improvement toward the latter part of
the afternoon. So much so indeed that all felt hope.

Jim slept at intervals, but continually muttered and flung himself about.
There were flashes of consciousness, when he would look fixedly at those
around his bed, and smile in his winning way. He thanked them for their
kindness, and hoped he would get well; but he had never felt so strange.
It seemed as if his head was continually lifting his body upward, and he
was so light he could fly.

After lying this way for some minutes, his hand, which rested in that of
Tom's, would suddenly tighten with incredible strength, and he would rise
in bed and begin a wild, incoherent rambling, which filled the hearts of
the others with anguish.

It was just growing dusk, when Jim, who had exchanged a few words of sense
with his weeping friend, said, lying motionless on his pillow, and without
apparent excitement,--

"Tom, I'm dying."

"O Jim! don't say that," sobbed the broken-hearted lad. "You must get
well. You are young and strong; you must throw off this sickness: keep up
a good heart."

The poor boy shook his head.

"It's no use. I wish I had been a better boy; but I've said my prayers
night and morning, and tried to do as mother and father used to tell me to
do. Tom, try to be better; I tell you, you won't be sorry when you come to

"No one could have been better than you, Jim," said the elder, feeling
more calmness than he had yet shown. He realized he was bending in the
awful shadow of death, and that but a few more words could pass between
him find the one he loved so well.

"I haven't been half as good as I ought to--not half as good as you, Tom."

"O Jim! you should not say that."

"He is right," whispered Mrs. Pitcairn, standing at the foot of the bed,
beside her husband; "he will be with us but a few minutes longer. How do
you feel," she asked gently, "now that you must soon go, Jim?"

"I am sorry to leave you and Tom, but it's all right. I see mother and
Maggie and father," he replied, looking toward the ceiling; "they are
bending over me, they are waiting to take my hand; I am glad to be with
them--Tom, kiss me good-by."

With the tears blinding his eyes, and holding the hot hand within his own
warm pressure, Tom Gordon pressed his lips on those of Jim Travers, and,
as he held them there, the spirit of the poor orphan wanderer took its

The door gently opened a minute later and the physician stepped inside.
One glance told him the truth.

"I knew it was coming when I looked at him this morning," he remarked, in
a soft, sympathetic voice. "Nothing could save him. How do you all feel?"

It seemed cruel to ask the question of the three all standing in the
presence of death; but it was professional and it was wise, for, by
pressing it, he withdrew their thoughts from the overwhelming sorrow that
was crushing them.

Tom Gordon had flung himself on the bed with uncontrollable sorrow. One
arm lay over the breast and partly round the neck of the body, which
breathed no longer, and whose face was lit up by a beatific smile; for Jim
Travers was with mother and Maggie and father, and they should go out no
more forever.

Chapter XIX.

It is not well to dwell upon the second great affliction of Tom Gordon. He
was older now than when his mother died, and though bowed to the earth by
the loss of his cherished playmate, he was too sensible to brood over his
grief. Short as had been his stay at the home of Farmer Pitcairn, he had
made friends, and they were abundant with the best of counsel.

There is no remedy for mental trouble like hard work. There's nothing the
equal of it. When the dark shadow comes, apply yourself with might and
main to some duty. Do your utmost to concentrate your thoughts, energies,
and whole being upon it. Avoid sitting down in the gloom and bemoaning
your affliction. By and by it will soften; and, relying upon the goodness
of Him who doeth all things well, you will see the kindly providence which
overrules all the affairs of this life. With the gentle poet you will be
able to murmur:--

"Sweet the hour of tribulation,
When the heart can freely sigh,
And the tear of resignation
Twinkles in the mournful eye."

Jim Travers was laid away to rest in the beautiful country cemetery near
the home of Farmer Pitcairn, and between it and the town of Bellemore. In
due time a plain, tasteful shaft was erected to his memory, on which,
below his name, date of birth and death, were carved the expressive

"He was a tried and true friend."

It took a good deal of the earnings of Tom Gordon to erect this tribute to
the departed youth. Mr. Pitcairn and his wife insisted upon sharing a part
of the expense; and the youth could not refuse them, though he would not
permit it to be more than a trifle as compared with his own. The placing
of the shaft has led me to anticipate events somewhat.

Tom Gordon was approaching young manhood. He was a tall, sturdy boy, with
a fair education, and it was high time that he set to work at the serious
business of life. Providence had ordered that he should pass through more
than one stirring experience. He had knocked about the world a good deal
more than falls to the lot of most lads of his age, and had acquired
valuable knowledge. He had learned much of the ways of men, and had
undergone a schooling, rough of itself, but fitted to qualify him for the
rebuffs of fortune to which we must all become accustomed.

What should he do? This was the question which he often debated with
himself, as was befitting in a sensible youth, who feared the danger of a
mistake when standing at the "crossing of the ways."

Somehow he felt a strong dislike to going back to New York. He and Jim had
met with such rough treatment there that the memory was not pleasant. His
yearning was to stay in the neighborhood of Bellemore. The soothing flow
of the beautiful Hudson, the picturesque, restful scenery, and, above all,
the sweet, sad halo that lingered around the last abiding place of his
friend, held him to the spot, which would ever be a sacred one to him.

He could not fancy the life of a farmer, though nothing would have pleased
Mr. Pitcairn more than to have the strong, thoughtful boy prepare himself
to become his successor in the management of the thrifty and well-kept
place. While Tom was in this state of incertitude, Providence opened the
way, as it always does to the one who is waiting to accept the indication.

It was at the close of a mild day in early summer that he was sitting on
the front porch of his new home, talking with Mr. Pitcairn and his wife,
when a carriage stopped in front, and an elderly gentleman stepped down,
tied his horse, and opened the gate.

"Why, that's Mr. Warmore," said Farmer Pitcairn to his wife, as he rose to
greet his visitor, who walked briskly up the graveled path.

The appearance of the gentleman was prepossessing. He was tall and spare,
but with a benign expression of countenance. He was well dressed, wore
gold spectacles, and his scant hair and a tuft of whiskers on either side
of his cheeks were snowy white, while his features were regular. He must
have been an unusually handsome man in his younger days, and would still
attract admiration wherever seen.

He shook hands warmly with the farmer and his wife, and was introduced to
Tom, whom he treated with the same cordiality. The youth made haste to
place a chair at his disposal, for which Mr. Warmore thanked him, and
sitting down, crossed his legs, took off his hat, and wiped his perspiring
brow with his white silken handkerchief. The chat went on in the usual way
for a time, during which Tom discovered that the visitor showed
considerable interest in him. His eyes continually turned in his
direction, and he asked him a question now and then. The youth was too
modest to intrude in the conversation, but knew how to express himself
when asked to do so.

By and by the questions of Mr. Warmore became quite pointed. Once or twice
Tom was disposed to resent them; but reflecting that the gentleman was
much older than he, and could have no wrong purpose in thus probing into
his personal affairs, he replied promptly to all he asked.

Finally, when this had continued until it began growing dark, Mr. Warmore

"I wish to hire you to enter my store, how would you like it?"

The question was so unexpected that Tom was fairly taken off his feet. He
replied with a pleasing laugh,--

"How can I answer, when I never saw you before, and have no idea of what
your business is?"

"True, neither of us has seen the other until to-day; but I may say that I
have heard of you from our pastor, Dr. Williams, who conducted the
services of your young friend, that was buried a week ago."

"He cannot know much about me, though we have had several talks together."

"He talked, too, with Mr. Pitcairn here, as I did myself."

"Yes," said the farmer, "he asked me many questions about you, and so did
Mr. Warmore the other day when I was in his place."

"I keep the largest store in Bellemore. I have kept it for forty years, as
did my father before me. It is what may be called a combination
establishment. My father started it toward the close of the last century,
when a journey to New York meant a great deal more than it does to-day. So
he tried to provide the neighbors with everything they could need, such as
dry goods, groceries, hardware, farmers' implements, and, as I said, about
all that a large and growing family are likely to require. I have followed
in his footsteps, expanding the business, until now my clerks and
assistants number nearly a dozen. I am in need of a large, strong, wide
awake, active boy, who can write a good hand, and who is willing to begin
at the lowest round of the ladder and work his way up."

It was the personality of the man, rather than the business, which
attracted Tom Gordon. He liked Mr. Warmore so well that he secretly
resolve to go with him. But the youth was not lacking in diplomacy.

"How do you know I will suit you, Mr. Warmore?" he asked.

"I don't; no one can know how another will serve him until the trial is
made. You may not suit at all. Perhaps I won't keep you beyond a week.
That's a risk we must all take. I'm willing to take it. Are _you_ ready to
see how you like me and the business?"

"What is to be my pay?" asked Tom, still veiling his growing inclination
to accept the proposal of the merchant.

"Not much at first. Five dollars a week, which shall be made six at the
end of a month if you suit. An increase will be given at the end of every
half year; I don't say provided you earn it, for, if you don't, I won't
keep you. What do you say, young man?"

"I'll try it; when do you wish me?"

"To-day is Friday. Come Monday morning. Don't be later than eight o'clock.
Good-night, all."

Mr. Warmore had risen to his feet and raised his hat politely to all
three. The farmer, who had hardly spoken a word during the interview, also
arose and walked to the gate with his caller, where they talked for a few

"Yes, I like his looks," remarked the merchant in a low voice, as he
untied his horse and flung the strap under the seat. "There is something
good in his face. He looks honest; he is well put together; he is not
afraid of work. Is he fully recovered from his injured leg?"

"I never saw one get well so quick. You wouldn't know that anything had
ever happened to him. Of course one would say that coming to my house in
the strange manner he did, I haven't had much chance to judge him. That
would be the case with a man, but a boy can't play the hypocrite for long.
My wife and I are very fond of him, and he will still be able to board
with us."

"There is no reason why he should not. It is hardly a mile from here to
the store, and it won't trouble him to walk it summer and winter. Now and
then, when we are busy, I shall have to keep him in the evenings, but from
what I hear, he has learned how to take care of himself. Well, Joseph, we
are liable to make mistakes, and it may be we have done so in this case,
but we'll chance it. Good-night again."

The merchant sprang lightly into his buggy, and drove down the road at a
rapid pace, while the farmer, gazing for a moment or two in the direction
of the cloud of dust, rejoined his wife and Tom on the porch.

Chapter XX.

And now let's take a big jump forward. Hold your breath while we gather
our muscles for the effort, for when we land, it is at a point four years
from the day when Tom Gordon entered the employ of Josiah Warmore, the
leading merchant in the town of Bellemore, on the Hudson.

There have been many changes in those years, but in some respects slight
differences could be noted. It would be hard to tell from looking at Mr.
Warmore that he was one day older than when he stopped at the home of
Farmer Pitcairn and hired Tom Gordon. His hair and whiskers were so white
at that time that they could not grow any whiter. The face wears the same
kindly expression, the shoulders are no more stooped than they were then,
and his walk is as brisk and sprightly as ever. Few of his clerks are more
alert of movement than he.

Much the same may be said of Farmer Pitcairn and his wife. Possibly there
is an additional wrinkle or two on their homely faces, but their hearts
are as genial and as kindly as ever. They love Tom Gordon as if he were
their own son, and he fully returns the affection they feel for him.

And how has it been with Tom during those four years?

Well, he has had his shadow and sunshine, like the rest of us, but there
has been far more of the latter than the former. How could it be
otherwise, when I tell you that he has stood as firm as a rock upon the
principles that were implanted in his heart and soul by his noble mother?
He could never forget her teachings, which were added to by other wise and
good persons with whom he was thrown in contact later.

Now, Tom Gordon became what I call a healthy, sensible Christian youth. He
was not the good boy we used to read about in the Sunday-school books, who
mopes around, forever preaching a sermon whenever he opens his lips, and
finding a "lesson" in everything, even the leap of a grasshopper. When
those boys become so good that they can be no better, they generally lie
down, call all their playmates around them, deliver a farewell sermon, and
then depart. The mistake of that sort of life is that it makes religion
unattractive. It gives the idea that "the good die young," and that a
jolly, genial, fun-loving boy, bubbling over sometimes with mischief,
cannot be a Christian, when he is the very one that most pleases his
heavenly Father.

Tom had his fun, his enjoyment, and now and then his crosses. Such things
are inevitable and must be looked for. A thorn appeared in his side from
the first. A young clerk that had entered the store a few weeks ahead of
him was a sly, mean, gnarly fellow, who showed a dislike to the new-comer
and annoyed him in every way possible. He was larger and apparently
stronger than Tom, and seemed determined to provoke a quarrel with him.

Tom would have been glad to challenge him to a bout at fisticuffs, for he
was confident he could vanquish him in short order. He often yearned to do
so. More than once the hot defiance was tugging at his lips; but the
memory of poor Jim Travers's parting words, "Tom, try to be better: I tell
you, you won't be sorry when you come to die," restrained the angry
utterance and the hasty blow.

Max Zeigler was one of those young men that are inherently mean. He was
born that way, and his ugly disposition increased with his years. You
occasionally meet such persons, whose nature it seems impossible to affect
by any method of treatment. What was specially aggravating in Tom Gordon's
place was that Zeigler seemed to feel no dislike of any one in the store
besides himself. He slurred him the first day he met him, and kept it up

Tom's first course was to accept these slurs in silence. His face often
flushed, when he saw the smiles on the countenances of the other clerks,
excited by some cutting witticism of Zeigler at the expense of himself.
His tormentor accepted the silence as proof of the timidity or rather
cowardice of the new employee, and rattled off his insults faster than
ever. While kindness as a rule will disarm a foe, there are some ingrates
so constituted that it moves them the other way. When Tom replied gently
to Zeigler, and asked him privately why he annoyed him without cause, the
fellow sneered the more at him. He took pains to indulge in profanity and
obscenity before Tom, and received the full reward he sought when he saw
how much his course grieved him.

Finally Tom struck the remedy. It was simple. He showed perfect
indifference toward his persecutor. When Zeigler made a cutting remark, he
acted as if he did not hear him. He continued his conversation with
another; and though his enemy repeated his words, they did not seem to
enter the ears of Tom. Even when Zeigler put a question direct to him, it
was ignored.

It then became the turn of Zeigler to flush at the general smile that went
round. At last he had been rebuffed.

One afternoon, when there was little custom in the store, Tom entered one
of the rear rooms, where were Zeigler and two other clerks. The fellow's
heart rankled at the snubbing he had received, and he was plotting some
way of "getting even" with the sanctimonious fellow, who would never
swear or indulge in a coarse word.

"This is just the place for a wrestling match," remarked Zeigler. "Gordon,
I will go you."

There was no ignoring this challenge. Tom was a wonderfully fine wrestler,
but none present knew it. He affected to be timid.

"You are bigger than I, and it would hardly be fair," replied Tom,
surveying the bulky form of his challenger.

"O pshaw! you are as heavy as I; besides, I will let you down easy."

"Try him, Gordon," whispered one of the clerks.

"If you will promise not to throw me too hard," said Tom doubtfully, "I
will take one turn with you."

"Of course I won't hurt you," grinned Zeigler, eager for the chance to
humiliate the fellow whom he despised.

All saw his purpose, and none more plainly than Tom himself.

The two doffed their coats and vests, and took their station in the middle
of the room, with their arms interlocked. Tom pretended an awkwardness
which deceived the others, and convinced Zeigler, to use a common
expression, he had a "cinch" in this little affair.

They struggled for a minute, and then, with the suddenness seemingly of a
flash of lightning, Zeigler's heels shot toward the ceiling, and he came
down on his back with a crash that shook the windows.

"I thought you knew something about wrestling," remarked Tom, standing
erect, and looking down on him with a smile, "but you don't know anything
at all."

The two spectators were convulsed with laughter. Zeigler's face was a
fiery crimson, and he scrambled to his feet in a fury.

"That was a slip; you can't do it again!" he exclaimed, springing at Tom
and hastily locking arms with him.

"All right; we'll see. Now do your best, for I mean to throw you just as I
did a minute ago. Are you ready?"

"Of course I am; go ahead."

Zeigler was not lacking in a certain skill. The lesson he had just
received was not lost on him. He was cautious, tricky, and alert--more so
than Tom suspected, and he put forth the utmost cunning of which he was

They twisted, swayed back and forth, and once Tom came within a hair of
falling, owing to a slight slip of one foot. But he was on his mettle,
and, putting forth his whole might and ability, he flung his antagonist on
his back with a violence that almost drove the breath from his body.

"Fudge!" remarked Tom, turning away in disgust; "I'll give you a few
lessons if you wish to learn how to wrestle. Any way, you had better take
lessons of some person before you bother _me_ again."

The other two clerks had dropped upon the nearest stools, and were holding
their sides with mirth.

"Zeigler," said one, when he recovered speech, "that's too big a contract
for you; you can't deliver the goods."

"You'll have to pay for those window-panes you shook out," added the

"I've got a set of boxing-gloves here," growled Zeigler, who tried to
assume an indifference, as he brushed off his clothes and looked up with
flaming face. "I'd like to try you with them."

"I'm agreeable," replied Tom, who had seen Zeigler bang the other clerks
around with the gloves as he pleased. "I learned something of the business
when I was a newsboy. I hope you are better at it than you are at

While Tom was speaking he was drawing on a pair of gloves and fixing the
strings at the wrist. Zeigler was a little uneasy at the coolness of his
opponent, and his readiness in accepting his challenge. Then, too, when he
took his position, with his left foot advanced, his right glove in front
of his chest, his left arm extended, the pose was so like a professional,
that Zeigler's misgivings increased. Still he felt great confidence in
his own skill, and there was no criticism to be made upon his position
when he faced the youth, for whose vanquishment he would have given half
his year's salary.

"Now," said Tom, with his exasperating coolness, "I propose that _each do
his best_. I don't suppose you want any baby play. I don't. I invite you
to hit me as often and as hard as you can. I'm going to do the same with
you. _Time_!"

They began dancing about a common center, sawing their arms back and
forth, each looking sharply in the other's eye and on the alert for an

Tom meant to make the other lead; for, before assuming the aggressive, he
wished to know more about Zeigler. It might be he possessed greater skill
than Tom believed. He meant to learn something of his style.

They had circled round several times, when Zeigler thought he saw his
chance, and feinting quickly, let fly with his left. Instead of parrying
the blow, Tom dodged it by throwing his head back. The opportunity was a
capital one to counter on Zeigler, but Tom made no effort to do so. It
looked as if he lacked the quickness and skill, and failed to see his

Zeigler now began edging nearer. He had come within an inch of reaching
the face of Tom, when he failed to counter. A little closer, and he was
sure he could "knock him out." At any rate, if he failed to do so, he had
nothing to fear from a foe who did not know enough to use an elemental

A quick step forward at the instant of feinting with his right, and
Zeigler again let fly with his left straight from the shoulder. It was a
vicious blow, and, had it landed, would have done damage; but a flirt of
the head allowed it to glide harmlessly over the shoulder. At the instant
of doing so, Tom cross-countered with a quickness and force that could not
have been excelled. That is to say, as Zeigler's left glove was darting
past Tom's left ear, and the momentum of the young man's body was throwing
him forward, Tom's right hand shot across the extended arm of the other,
and landed with fearful force on the nose and mouth of his opponent.

It was a fierce drive; for its effect was intensified by the fact that
Tom's glove met the head of the other as it was coming toward him. It
would have been bad enough had it landed on a stationary object, but the
object was approaching from the opposite direction.

Tom and the two clerks were startled by the effect of the blow, for
Zeigler went down like a log, rolling over on his back, his hands
flapping full length above his head, while he lay perfectly unconscious.

But when water was dashed in his face he revived. It was some time before
he freed his mouth and nose of the crimson result of colliding with the
glove; but, aided by the clerks, he donned his coat and vest, and assumed
something like a presentable condition.

While this was going on, Tom Gordon sat in a chair a few feet away,
looking on as though he felt little interest in the matter. He did not
help shape the other up, for two reasons. His aid was not necessary, and,
again, he knew it would not be acceptable to his discomfited antagonist.

"A rather neat blow, Zeigler," remarked Tom; "when you wish to even up
matters, I will be ready to accommodate you."

It sounded strange to the other clerks to hear the gentle Tom Gordon speak
thus to the young man who had played the bully so long over him. They
concluded that the crushed worm had at last turned. The vanquished one
made no reply except to give the other a look of hatred, and leave the

Now, there is not one person in a thousand who would not have been
conquered morally as well as physically by an experience like that of Max
Zeigler. Such an utter overthrow would have made the bully the close
friend and champion of the other; but it was altogether different with
Zeigler. Before his swelled lip and bulging nose had resumed their normal
appearance, he resumed his petty persecutions as before. Those who knew of
the bout in the back room (and, indeed, every clerk quickly learned the
particulars) urged Tom to lay out his enemy so effectually that he would
stay laid out.

Young Gordon, however, chose the better course. He affected the same
indifference as before, and frequently did not seem to hear the words of
his enemy. The hardest duty Tom had to do was to keep back the scathing
retorts of which he thought so often, and which would have silenced
Zeigler. Nothing, indeed, is more difficult for a high-spirited person
than to bridle his tongue under the lashings of another. _How_ few of us
are equal to the task!

Chapter XXI.

Only two or three incidents worthy of note fell to the lot of Tom Gordon
during his second year in the employ of Josiah Warmore.

At the beginning of the year he was promoted, and received a considerable
increase of salary. The situation given to him belonged by right of
seniority of service to Max Zeigler, and was looked upon as a certainty by
him. He was so indignant at the snub, that he made no effort to conceal
his feelings. While the hurt rankled, he went to Mr. Warmore and demanded
an explanation. He got it, and resigned forthwith. No one regretted to see
him go, and least of all Tom Gordon, who gave a sigh of thankfulness at
the removal of the thorn from his side.

It was strange how Mr. Warmore found out everything about his employees.
Often they felt astonishment, and could not understand by what means he
picked up knowledge they were often certain was only known to themselves.
Thus he learned at an early date the petty persecutions suffered by Tom at
the hands of Zeigler; and there can be little doubt that that information
was one cause of the fellow receiving such a marked set-back. Then he
knew as much of that wrestling and boxing bout as if he had been a
witness. There is reason to suspect he was secretly pleased at the issue,
though he would never admit it. It is not wise at all times for the
teacher or employer to let those under his charge know the extent of his
knowledge of their doings. In other words, it is not always best to see
what you do see.

Mr. Warmore was a reserved man. He was kind, but just, toward his clerks.
He established a free reading-room in Bellemore, saw that every employee
had his regular vacation each summer or whenever he preferred it,
encouraged them to be frugal and moral, gave them good advice, forbade
coarseness of language or profanity, and hired a pew in each of the two
leading churches, which were always at the disposal of his young men
without any expense to them.

Occasionally he gave entertainments at his own handsome residence for
their benefit. Now and then he would invite some of them to dinner. His
wife was in delicate health, but a most excellent woman, who did much to
make such evenings highly enjoyable. Their only son had died in his
infancy, and their daughter Jennie was attending a boarding-school. Little
was seen of her, though when at home she often drove to the store with her
mother, to take her father out with them. She was remarkably attractive in
looks, but, like her father, reserved in manner. She recognized the
clerks, when she chanced to meet them, with the air and manner of a lady;
but all felt there was a gulf between her and them which was impassable.
They concluded (and did not criticise her therefor) that she held herself
socially above each and all of them.

The second incident that took place came to Tom Gordon in the summer-time
while away on his fortnight's vacation. He had grown to be tall, and more
attractive than when younger. He was fond of good clothes; and when he
took the steamer at the landing, and went down the Hudson to New York, it
would have been hard to find a better looking or more correctly costumed
young man than Tom. He did not show it in his manner, but how could he
help knowing it?

Strange that almost the first persons he noticed on the boat were Sam
Harper and his sister Nellie, returning from an excursion up the river.
They, too, had done considerable growing, and made a handsome couple. Tom
looked so well that Nellie was very pleased to meet him. She would have
been glad to receive attention from him, and showed by her manner that she
expected it. But Tom could not forget that snub a couple of years before,
when he was selling papers on a Broadway car. He liked Sam and his father
and mother, but couldn't forgive Nellie for hurting his feelings. So,
when the brother turned her over to him, Tom with exquisite courtesy
raised his hat, bade her good-day, and strolled to another part of the
boat. She understood the meaning of the repulse, as he meant she should,
and she felt it.

And who should he run against on the wharf in the city but his old friend
Patsey McConough, who had done him such a good turn when he first arrived
in the metropolis. The genial Irishman had driven down with a carriage to
meet his employer, who was on the steamer, so he had but little
opportunity to talk with Tom, whom he did not recognize until the youth
made himself known. But they shook hands warmly, and each was pleased to
find the other doing so well. They parted with the best wishes, hoping
soon to see each other again.

Tom, like a sensible youth, made the most of his vacation. He spent
several days among his friends at Briggsville, who heartily welcomed him
among them, even though saddened by the fact that the orphan who went away
with him could never return to them again. Then he gave a few days to the
seashore, where none enjoyed the bathing, the boating, and frolicking more
than he. All too soon the two weeks drew to an end, and he again boarded
the steamer which stopped at the landing opposite Bellemore, on its way to
more important towns and cities up the Hudson.

Strolling over the boat to see whether there were any acquaintances among
his fellow-travelers, he found none, and, having nothing better to do, sat
down on a camp-stool on the forward deck to view the picturesque scenery,
which, however, had become so familiar that he fell to studying human
nature as it appeared immediately around him.

That which interested him the most was a dudish young man, dressed in the
extreme of fashion, carrying a heavy cane, and wearing eyeglasses. He had
high cheek bones, fishy gray eyes, fine teeth, and a simpering smile. Tom
judged he was a couple of years older than himself, and became interested
in him because of his amusing efforts to charm the ladies around him. The
vulgar expression would be that he was trying to "mash" them. The word is
not a good one, but it will help my reader to understand the meaning.

Evidently he believed himself irresistible, and his smirking, posing, and
ogling were ludicrous to the last degree. Among the numerous young ladies
on board were a dozen Vassar girls, as bright, merry, and full of mischief
as they could possibly be. They met the ogling of the dude with sly
glances and smiles which made him more killing than ever. Encouraged by
this, and not doubting that he had made a conquest, he ventured to
approach and address them. The reception he met was enough to congeal
water. It fairly took away his breath. Then he blushed clear out to the
end of his ears, and withdrew to some other part of the boat, where he
could hope to be better appreciated.

Some of the girls managed to stroll thither a few minutes later, as if
unconscious of where he had gone. Tom saw some fun was coming, and he
drifted thither too.

The dude had succeeded in making an impression on a simpering girl, and
was seated on one of the camp-stools beside her, talking in his drawling
way, and pointing out the beautiful scenery as they swept past. He
frequently raised his heavy cane and indicated the different objects, the
better to enlighten his companion.

"Aw, that is Haverstraw," he volunteered, bringing the stick to a level.
"It is--aw--quite a famous place; reminds me of Holland across the water,
you know."

"What is there about Haverstraw to suggest Holland?" inquired his lady

"They make bricks there--aw--a good many bricks--aw--may I inquire,
doncherknow, did you ever see a brick?"

"Oh, yes," she replied, with an impertinent glance from her mischievous
eyes; "I think I am looking at one now."

"You mean to say that I am a brick--aw--good, dooced good; I must tell
that at the club--dooced clevah; couldn't do much bettah meself,
doncherknow? Now, if you will kindly rise from your seat--aw--I will point
out a vewy interesting mountain peak."

"Thank you, I can see well enough without rising."

Nevertheless, the dude came to a stooping posture, and, with one gloved
hand on the railing to steady him self, wabbled the bulky cane again in
the direction of the shore.

"Aw--I'm a little off soundings, doncherknow, and am not suah whether that
is Dunderberg Mountain or Saint Anthony's Olfactory Organ--aw--that's
clevah, don't you think,--Saint Anthony's Olfactory Organ,
doncherknow"--At the moment of partly rising to his feet, a couple of
Vassar girls walked past. When directly opposite the camp-stool of the
dude, one of them touched it with the toe of her shoe and shoved it to one
side. The lady seated near and listening to the young man's chatter saw
it, but pretended she did not, and, therefore, made no effort to save her
new friend from his impending catastrophe. It was the same with a dozen
other persons.

There is no form of practical joking more to be condemned than that of
taking a chair from under a person when he is about to sit down. Lasting
injury has resulted in more than one instance, and no person should ever
do it himself or permit it to be done by another. Possibly, however, the
case now in hand was an exception; for it was evident that the principal
performer was so soft that no harm could come to him from the fall. No
spectator felt any misgiving on that score.

Finding his companion did not rise as he had requested, the young man
began slowly to sit down. He continued doing so, until he struck the deck
with a bump which caused his hat to fly off, the cane to drop from his
hand, and his eyeglasses to fall from his nose. He gradually picked
himself up, and, amid the laughter of every one near, made his way to the
_salon_ below, and busied himself reading a copy of an English paper.

This incident would not be worth the telling but for that which followed.
The dudish young man who caused so much entertainment on board the steamer
that afternoon was destined to cross the path of Tom Gordon in a way of
which neither dreamed.

Tom gave no more thought to him until, when waiting to walk ashore at the
landing, he saw, to his surprise, the young man was about to do the same.
It looked as if he intended to make a call at Bellemore. Greater
astonishment came when Tom saw the handsome carriage of Mr. Warmore at the
landing. The driver was perched on the high seat in front, while Mrs.
Warmore and her daughter Jennie occupied the rear seat, facing the vacant

"Can it be possible? Well, that beats me!"

[Illustration: Tom held on like grim death.]

The carriage was waiting for this young man, who simpered forward with
uplifted hat and greeted them effusively. Mrs. Warmore noticed Tom, and
bowed to him, inviting him to enter the carriage and ride with them,--an
invitation which, as he expressed to himself, he would not have accepted
for seventeen thousand million dollars. The dude stepped into the
carriage, dropped into the seat facing the ladies, and devoted himself to
gnawing the head of his cane and making bright remarks to them.

"Well, who in the name of the seven wonders can he be?" mused Tom, walking
briskly homeward. "He must be some relative of the Warmores; but they
ought to be ashamed of such a specimen as that. He was the laughing-stock
of the boat. I was forming quite an exalted opinion of Miss Jennie; but if
she fancies that sort of thing, my respect for her has gone down to zero."

When Tom stepped upon the porch of Farmer Pitcairn's home, and shook hands
with him, and received a motherly kiss from his good wife, he went inside,
and, sitting down to their evening meal, asked Mr. Pitcairn whether he had
noticed the young man riding in the Warmore carriage with the mother and

"Yes; I've seen him before. He is a son of an old friend of the family.
I've an idee that he and Miss Warmore are intended for each other."

"Do you know his name?"

"Yes--let me see. Ah, it is Catherwood--G. Field Catherwood. He parts his
name, like his hair, in the middle. He is quite a dude in his dress, but
when you come to know him pretty well he isn't such a bad sort of fellow."

"How is it _you_ know so much about him?" asked Tom in surprise.

"He has stopped here a good many times when out riding with the ladies.
He's fond of mother's buttermilk."

"I thought his kind preferred sweet milk," Tom could not help remarking,
with a laugh; "but I must not judge him too harshly. We all have our
peculiarities, and he is not likely to fancy me any more than I do him."

Tom returned to his work refreshed and renewed in strength and spirits.
The year passed pleasantly. That which followed saw him promoted another
step, so that when the fourth year opened it saw him in a situation where
the salary of but a single employee exceeded his; that was the bookkeeper.

He had every reason to expect that place when the vacancy should occur.
Mr. Warmore had given so many evidences of his regard that it was conceded
by all that he was his favorite clerk. He had never violated his
principles of honesty, truthfulness, and consideration for every one with
whom he came in contact. A young man who lives up to that rule of conduct
is as sure to succeed, if his life is spared, as the sun is to rise.

The bookkeeper was an elderly gentleman, so well-to-do that, at the
beginning of the fifth year, he resigned and gave up all active work. His
son was engaged in successful business in New York, and urged his father
to join him, where he would be a partner. So he left. His successor in the
establishment of Mr. Warmore, instead of being Tom Gordon, was G. Field

Chapter XXII.

It was a surprise to every employee of Mr. Warmore. To Tom Gordon it was
also a keen disappointment. He had never doubted that the plum would fall
to him. He did not dream that the dudish young man would ever demean
himself by manual labor; but Mr. Warmore departed from his usual
reticence, to the extent of taking Tom aside and explaining matters.

"Mr. Catherwood is the son of an old college friend of mine. His father
was wealthy, and, at his death some years ago, left everything to him. Mr.
Catherwood has traveled a good deal, but is disposed now to settle down in
life and become a business man. He has made an offer to put a large sum of
money in our business, and I have accepted it--that is, conditionally,"
added the merchant with a slight hesitation.

Tom bowed.

"I presume he has some thought of marriage, and has awakened to the fact
that the life of an idler is a worthless one. So he contemplates becoming
a merchant. With his help we shall be able to expand our business and thus
benefit both. I said I accepted his offer conditionally."

Noticing the hesitation of his employer, Tom interposed:--

"Mr. Warmore, there is no call for you to make this explanation. No man
could have been kinder to me than you have been. I will not deny that I
was disappointed, when I found myself checked on the next to the highest
round of the ladder, but not a word of complaint can ever be heard from
me. I should be an ingrate to utter it. I shall give you the best service
of which I am capable, as I have done in the past. My gratitude you shall
have always."

"Those manly word have decided me to say two things: From the beginning of
the year your salary shall be the same as that of Mr. Martin who has left.
The condition upon which I have agreed to accept Mr. Catherwood as a
partner is that he shall devote one year's hard work to the business. He
thinks he can acquire the necessary knowledge best by becoming a
bookkeeper, since he could hardly be expected to begin where you and the
rest did."

Repeating his thanks to his employer for the goodness he had always shown
toward him, Tom Gordon bowed himself out.

Sure enough, the next day Mr. Catherwood took his place at the
bookkeeper's desk. Mr. Martin agreed to stay a week in order to explain
everything necessary to him; and none could have applied himself more
assidiously than the young man, whose whole thoughts seemed to have been
centered on that of dress and the other sex.

Tom Gordon soon discovered the cause of Mr. Pitcairn's remark to the
effect that Catherwood was not such a bad fellow when you came to know
him. He wrote an excellent hand, understood the theory of bookkeeping, and
mastered that branch of the business so quickly that Mr. Martin was
dismissed with thanks at the end of three days.

True, he wore eyeglasses, parted his hair in the middle, and was an
exquisite in his dress. When he chose he could be courteous to those
around him. Most of the clerks were pleasantly disappointed by his manner.

Tom Gordon, as in duty bound, yielded full respect to the one who was not
only his superior in position, but who was likely, in the course of time,
to become his sole employer. But the young man was sensitive, and soon
became convinced that Mr. Catherwood did not feel especially friendly
toward him. It was not in anything he said or did, but rather in his
manner. It made Tom uncomfortable; but he resolved to make the best of it,
and, if he could not force Mr. Catherwood to like him, he could at least
compel his respect.

"He must have seen me laughing at him on the steamboat, when he missed his
chair; possibly he suspects I had something to do with his mishap. It is
natural that he should feel resentful toward me, but I hope it will wear

In the dusk of early evening, some months later, Tom was sauntering
homeward, musing over the past, with an uncomfortable feeling that despite
the long service he had given Mr. Warmore, and the many times he had
expressed his satisfaction with him, the association was not likely to
continue much longer.

There could be no mistaking the hearty dislike which Catherwood felt for
the young man. Tom would have cared little for that had not the
discouraging conviction forced itself upon him that Mr. Warmore was
beginning to share his future partner's distrust. It seemed to be an
unconscious absorption on his part of the views of another.

This was hard to bear; but it rasped the young man's sense of manhood, for
it was an injustice which he did not expect.

"If Mr. Warmore is weak enough to let that fellow turn him against me, he
is a different man from what I suspected. His store is not the only one in
the world, and at the first unfair act on his part, I shall leave--hello!"

Coming down the road, on a swift gallop, with the reins flying, was a
spirited horse, dragging a fashionable dog-cart, which, as it swayed from
side to side, showed that it contained a single person,--a lady, who had
lost control of the animal.

"That looks bad," muttered Tom, his heart leaping with natural excitement.
"She is likely to be killed."

It looked as if the young man was to be given one of the stereotyped
opportunities to prove his heroism,--that of rescuing a beautiful young
lady whose horse was running away. He did not think of that, however, for
it would have been the same had a bitter enemy been in peril.

The steed was coming like the whirlwind. The clamp of his hoofs, his
snorting nostrils, his flying mane, and dangling reins, the frail vehicle
bounding from side to side and often on the point of overturning, the
glimpses of the lady bravely holding on and uttering no scream,--all these
made up the most startling picture on which Tom Gordon had looked for many
a day.

Stationing himself in the middle of the road, he swung his hat and arms,
and shouted to the mad animal in the hope of making him slacken his speed
sufficiently to allow the occupant to leap out. The horse saw him, shied a
little, moderated his pace a trifle, and then plunged forward on a run.

Clearly he was not to be checked by that means. Tom Gordon braced himself
for the shock of the supreme effort he had formed.

In a twinkling his strong grip had closed about the strap of the bit, and
he threw his whole weight against the brute, who reared, plunged,
struggled, struck with his fore feet, and strove to shake the incubus
loose, but in vain. Tom held on like grim death, though in imminent danger
of being struck down and trampled upon. No animal is quicker to recognize
the hand of a master than a horse, and in less time than would be supposed
possible the mad runaway was under control.

Then a gentle patting, a few soothing words, and he became more quiet,
though still trembling in every nerve.

"I hope, Miss Warmore, you have not been injured."

"Not in the least, thanks to your bravery," replied the young lady,
displaying wonderful coolness. "I have had a pretty rapid ride and a bad
shock, but that is all."

Tom had caught up the reins and held them in hand, while he stood at the
side of the vehicle near the daughter of his employer.

"Perhaps, Miss Warmore, it will be safer for me to drive home with you.
The horse is nervous and liable to take fright again."

"I can never thank you sufficiently for what you have already done," she
said with emotion, moving to one side to make room for him.

"It was not difficult," he remarked lightly, stepping in beside her, and
speaking gently to the animal, as he carefully turned him around to drive
back. "I had time to prepare myself, and he was easily controlled. May I
ask how it happened?"

He was sure he never saw one so beautiful as she. The excitement had
brought a glow to her lustrous eyes, and there was deepening of the pink
tinge on the cheeks which made her complexion perfection itself. She was
still agitated, though striving hard to bring her feelings under control.

"We were driving at a brisk pace," she replied, "when a piece of paper
blew across the road in front of Jack, and he was off like a shot."

Tom noticed her use of the word "we," and knew whom she meant.

"Could not Mr. Catherwood control him?"

He glanced sideways at her when he asked the question, and noticed the
scornful expression that came upon her face.

"He might have done so had he a spark of _your_ courage; but the instant
Jack made his leap, Mr. Catherwood flung the lines over his back, and with
a call to me to jump, he sprang out of the cart and left me alone. If he
had given me the lines, I could have managed Jack myself; but he wouldn't
allow me even that poor privilege."

"He must have lost his head."

"Small loss to lose _such_ a head," exclaimed Miss Jennie, who evidently
held a small opinion of her escort; "it's the last time I shall ever go
riding with _him_."

A queer thrill passed through Tom Gordon. He was a fervent admirer of the
young lady at his side; but he had worshiped her, as may be said, as we
worship a fair and brilliant star. It is something so far beyond our reach
that we keep our admiration to ourself, and strive to drive the foolish
feeling from our heart.

"I have no wish to injure Catherwood," was his thought; "but if he is such
a coward as to desert a lady in peril, it is well she should know it
before it is too late."

When Mr. Warmore referred to the young man as not only contemplating a
partnership in his business, but as intending marriage, Tom Gordon held
not the slightest doubt of his full meaning. He was paying court to the
merchant's only daughter; and, if they were not already engaged, they
expected soon to become so.

The situation of our young friend, therefore, became a most peculiar one.
He had been given an important preliminary advantage, if he chose to
aspire to the love of the sweet one at his side; but he thought hard, and
did not lose his self-poise or sense of honor.

"It is natural that she should despise his poltroonery and feel grateful
to me," was his thought; "but, after all, it isn't likely she holds any
emotion other than simple gratitude. It would be base in me to presume
upon it. I will not do so."

The drive was comparatively a short one to the handsome residence of the
Warmores. As Tom guided the mettlesome pony through the open gate and up
the winding roadway to the front of the porch, Mrs. Warmore came out pale
with fright. She had just learned of the accident from G. Field
Catherwood, who had limped up the steps with a rambling tale of how he had
been flung headlong from the vehicle at the moment he was about to seize
Jennie and lift her free.

"Thank Heaven!" exclaimed the mother, when she saw her daughter unharmed;
"I was sure you were killed."

Catherwood hobbled forward from behind the lady, leaning on his cane.

"I say 'amen' to those sentiments," he added, too much flustered just then
to use his affected style of speech. "O Jennie, my heart was broken when I
was hurled out before I could save you. Allow me."

"You had better look after your own safety," she said, refusing his help,
as she stepped lightly from the cart. "Jack might start again. Mother, Mr.
Gordon here saved my life."

At this moment the groom appeared, and the blushing Tom turned the horse
over to him, and, pretending he had not heard the words of Jennie, lifted
his hat.

"It has come out all right; I bid you good-evening."

Catherwood quickly rallied from the snub of the lady. He slipped his
fingers in his vest-pocket and drew out a bill, which he handed to Tom.

"What's that for?" asked the wondering youth, taking the crumpled paper.

"Aw--that's all right, my deah fellow--you earned it--dooced clevah in

Tom Gordon compressed the paper into a small wad, and placing it between
his thumb and forefinger, as though it were a marble, shot it against the
eyeglasses of the amazed dude.

"That's my opinion of _you_," he said, turning about and walking off,
before the agitated Mrs. Warmore could thank him.

"I suppose I've done it," he mused, when in the highway and walking toward
Farmer Pitcairn's. "Catherwood never did like me and now he hates me. If
Miss Jennie keeps up her course toward him, he will hate me more than
ever. He will not rest till he gets me out of the store. Well, let him go
ahead. I am not an old man yet, and the world is broad and big."

He was about to sit down to the evening meal, when a servant of Mr.
Warmore arrived with a note, requesting the pleasure of Mr. Gordon's
company to dinner that evening. It was not a simple formal invitation,
but was so urgent that the young man could not refuse. He returned word
through the servant that he accepted with pleasure the invitation and
would be soon there.

Can the youth be censured, if, with a fluttering heart, he took extra
pains with his personal appearance before leaving the good farmer's home
that evening? When at last he stepped forth, in full dress, swinging his
light cane, you would have had to hunt a long way to find a handsomer
fellow than he.

And yet, with all his delightful anticipation, was mingled a feeling of
dread. He disliked meeting Catherwood, for between them a great gulf
yawned and something unpleasant was certain to occur. Jennie had witnessed
his insulting offer of a reward to him for what he had done, and must have
appreciated the style in which it was repulsed. She would show her
feelings most decisively before the evening was over.

Besides that, he dreaded hearing the family renew their expressions of
thankfulness. Tom had unquestionably performed a brave act, but no more so
than hundreds of others that were continually being done every day--some
of them entitled to far more credit than was his.

But the fact that he was about to spend an evening in the company of Miss
Jennie herself, outweighed all these slight objections. Conscious, too,
of her feeling toward him, he could not help viewing the hours just before
him with a delightful flutter of anticipation.

The first pleasant disappointment which came to Tom, after reaching the
fine residence and receiving the cordial welcome of the family, was the
discovery that G. Field Catherwood was not present, and would not form one
of the little party. That lifted a load of apprehension from his

Inasmuch as it had to come, Tom took the thanks of the parents like a
hero. He listened with a respectful smile, blushed under the compliments,
and blushed still more when Jennie with a straightforward, earnest look

"Mr. Gordon may say it was not much, but it saved my life, and I shall
_never_, NEVER forget it. If Mr. Catherwood had shown a hundredth part of
his courage"--

"There, there, daughter," protested her father, as they seated themselves
at the table, "a truce to all that; let us leave him out of the

"And, if you please, drop the whole thing," added Tom, who began to feel
uncomfortable under it all.

"Since it will be more agreeable to you, we will do so," was the hearty
remark of the head of the family, as all began "discussing," as the
expression goes, the feast before them. "I will say, however, that Jennie
did meet with one experience, in which her rescuer showed possibly more
pluck than Mr. Gordon to-day."

The guest looked inquiringly at his host.

"She seems to be destined to be concerned in unpleasant adventures."

"Yes; I hope this is the last of them. What I refer to happened some five
or six years ago,--possibly more than that. At any rate, she was a small
girl, crossing the ferry at New York with her mother, when in the crowd
and crush, by some means which I never could understand, she fell
overboard. The river was full of floating ice, and she would have been
drowned but for the heroism of a boy, who sprang in after her, and, at the
risk of his own life, kept her afloat until both could be drawn on board."

Tom Gordon felt his face turning scarlet. He was so disturbed for the
moment that he could not frame any words. He could only look at his
employer and listen. In that moment there flashed upon him the explanation
of a little mystery which had troubled him for months.

The first time he looked into the face of Jennie Warmore, the suspicion
came to him that somewhere and at some time, under far different
circumstances, he had met her. When sitting at her side in the dog-cart
that afternoon, this suspicion became a certainty. He strove to account
for it on the theory that it was one of those accidental resemblances
which all of us have met in our experience; but he could not make himself
believe it to be the fact.

Strange that he never thought of associating her with that memorable
incident in his own life! He had sacredly preserved the chain and
likeness; and it was the similarity between the latter and the budding
young lady that caused the perplexity in his mind. He wondered that he had
not hit upon the explanation before it was flung in his face, as may be

By the time Mrs. Warmore had added her account to that of her husband, Tom
had regained mastery of himself.

"And who was the lad that did all this?" he asked in the most innocent
manner conceivable.

"That is the one feature about the affair that has always troubled me,"
said the merchant. "I have tried to find out, but have never been able to
gain the first clew to his identity. Mrs. Warmore was so frantic in mind
that she did not think of the noble rescuer until he was gone. Then she
made inquiries, but no one seemed to know anything about him."

"It distressed me," added the lady; "for I felt he must think we were
ungrateful. We advertised in the papers, but it was useless. I do not
suppose we shall ever know who he was."

"He may have been some poor boy in need of help," added Mr. Warmore; "but
so brave a lad as that is sure to get along."

"I presume _you_ remember the incident?" remarked Tom, turning toward the

"How can I ever forget it?" she asked in reply, with a shiver. "I can feel
that icy water even now, as it closed round me that wintry night. It was
too dark to see my rescuer's face plainly, but I would know him if I met
him fifty years from now. He was remarkably handsome."

"A boy of that age changes very much in a few years."

"He could never change so as to grow out of my recollection," said Jennie
with a positiveness that made Tom Gordon smile.

"And of all the strange things that were ever done by a child," said Mrs.
Warmore, "none ever equalled what Jennie did while floating in the water."

"Indeed, what could that be?"

"Tell him yourself, daughter."

The young lady blushed and laughed.

"I don't know what possessed me to do it. I hardly think I was conscious
of matters or responsible for all I did. When the lad was fighting his way
through the icy waters, I remember snatching a chain and locket containing
my likeness from my neck, and twisting the chain about a button on his
coat. I had a feeling of wishing to do something that should help him to
remember me. After that I became wholly unconscious."

"It seems to me the little fellow was rewarded by securing the chain and
locket," remarked Tom with a significant smile.

"That was but a trifle compared to what he ought to have received,"
replied Jennie.

"You forget that it contained _your_ picture."

The compliment was so neatly put that all laughed, and the face of the
young lady became rosier than ever.

"Pardon me," Tom hastened to say; "of course the little fellow has
preserved those mementoes, and I should not he surprised if he turns up
some day when least expected."

"I hope so," was the fervent response of Jennie, in which sentiment her
parents joined.

It is not necessary to dwell upon the evening, which was a red letter one
in Tom Gordon's life. No more delightful hours were ever spent by him; and
when, without tarrying too late, he left, he could make no mistake as to
the sentiments of the three, and especially the youngest, toward him. He
had made an impression there, and it would be his own fault if it failed
to ripen into something serious.

But, as he walked homeward in the silvery moonlight, he felt a respect for
himself which, it is safe to say, would have come to few placed as he was.
He had not given the first hint that he was the boy who, at the risk of
his own life, had leaped into the wintry waters and rescued little Jennie
Warmore from death.

Who would have held back the secret in his situation? Would you or I?
Doubtful, if when smitten with love for a fair, sweet girl, we had felt
that its telling would have riveted the bonds which, at the most, were
only partly formed, and might dissolve into nothingness if not thus

It was the youth's fine-grained sense of honor that restrained him.

"She holds a good opinion of me now. If it should ever happen that that
feeling grows into love (and Heaven grant it may!), it must be for me
alone, and not for any accident in the past. Suppose I had not done her a
good turn to-day,--she might have discarded Catherwood for his baseness,
but what would have caused her to transfer her regard to me? No, she shall
never know the whole truth until--until"--

He dared not finish the thrilling sentence, the blissful hope, the wild
dream, that set his nerves dancing. Unto us all can come that radiant,
soulful, all-absorbing emotion but once in our life, and it is too sacred
to be trifled with; for once destroyed, once crushed, once dead, and the
holy thing vanishes forever.

Two noticeable truths became manifest to Tom Gordon on the morrow. G.
Field Catherwood's dislike of him was intensified. The young man had felt
from the first that the head clerk was not only more attractive than he in
looks, but was far brighter intellectually. Added now to this was the
feeling of jealousy. He had received from Jennie Warmore a too pointed
expression of her contempt for him to have any possible room for
misunderstanding it. When he ventured to hint at their engagement, which
had been discussed, but never formally made, she shook her head
decisively, and his heart collapsed.

He had strolled by the house early in the evening, having fully recovered
from the injuries resulting from the runaway, and was on the point of
passing through the gate, when he observed a figure ahead of him. One
quick glance disclosed that it was young Gordon, on his way to pass the
evening there. That knowledge caused the dude to wheel about and go to the
hotel, where he made his home. And as he strode along the highway, his
heart overflowed with the bitterness of gall and wormwood.

He made no attempt to conceal his feelings on the following day, when he
and Gordon came in contact at the store. Tom avoided him as much as
possible; but, of necessity, they occasionally came together, and the
repulsion was mutual. This unpleasantness was fully offset not only by the
consciousness of the regard of Miss Warmore, but by the cordial manner of
her father. Those signs of distrust which he had shown during the past
week were gone, and his kindness and consideration for the young man were
so marked as to attract the attention of all. It was clear that the mists
between them had vanished.

Chapter XXIII.

That night, after the establishment of Mr. Warmore was closed and the
employees had gone home, two persons remained behind to engage in earnest
consultation. They were the proprietor and G. Field Catherwood, the young
man who expected, at the end of the year, to become an equal partner with
him. The doors were fastened, and the two sat alone in the private office,
the expression on the faces of both showing that some grave matter weighed
upon them.

"How long has this been going on?" asked Mr. Warmore.

"For two weeks or more; that is to say, I discovered it about a fortnight
ago. No doubt it has been kept up in a small way for a long time previous
to that."

"How much do you suppose has been taken altogether?"

"Several hundred dollars; perhaps a thousand."

"And your suspicions point to Mr. Gordon?"

"I am sorry to say they do. Of course he was the last one to suspect; but,
when I began quietly investigating, the trail led unmistakably to him."

"What caused you first to suspect him, Mr. Catherwood?"

"Well, when a merchant finds some, one of his employees is robbing him,
the most natural thing to do is to look into the habits of them all. If he
discovers that one is living beyond his means, he naturally probes a
little farther; and, if his habits prove to be extravagant, the suspicion

"What did you find out about Mr. Gordon?"

"I accidentally learned that he has a considerable sum in the

"He deserves credit for that."

"True, if that which was deposited was his own. Besides, he spends a good
deal of money."

"In what way?"

"In the first place, on his clothes."

"He certainly is well dressed, but no more so than his salary will

"Last week he paid off a mortgage on the farm of Mr. Pitcairn, and then
made a present of it to the old gentleman."

"What was the amount?"

"Several thousand dollars."

"You are mistaken. Mr. Pitcairn told me of it three days ago. He had
promised Mr. Gordon not to tell any one; but the farmer was so happy that
he said he could not keep it back. It was only three hundred dollars,

"Then I was misinformed," Catherwood hastened to say with a flush; "but I
happen to know he is speculating in Wall Street, and betting on the

"That is bad; is your information reliable?"

"There can be no doubt of its truth."

"Have you any objection to telling me the channel through which this
knowledge reached you?"

"I would be glad to do so, but the source at present is confidential."

"Very well; I am sorry to hear this about Mr. Gordon, for, as you know, I
held him in high regard. For the present, let us keep the matter a close
secret. Do not let him see he is under suspicion, and we will not move
until certain there can be no mistake in the matter."

A few minutes later the two walked out of the front door, which was
carefully locked behind them, and sauntered homeward. The younger man went
to the chief hotel of the town, while the elder continued up the highway,
thinking deeply over the subject he had just discussed with Catherwood.

Now, it so happened that Josiah Warmore, the merchant, was a far shrewder
man than G. Field Catherwood suspected. If the latter had been playing a
part, so had the former.

As has been intimated, it came to the knowledge of the merchant, about a
fortnight before, that some one in his employ was systematically robbing
him. Gatherwood first dropped a hint, and then both investigated so far
as the opportunity allowed. The result turned suspicion toward Tom Gordon.
The merchant had learned, in the course of his long and varied experience,
the sad truth that no man in the world can be picked out and declared,
beyond all possibility of doubt, to be absolutely honest. Thousands of
people live and die and go to their graves wrapped in the mantle of
unassailable integrity. It may be they have not defrauded a person out of
a penny, for the simple reason that the temptation has never been strong
enough to make them do so. Had it been a little stronger, they would have
succumbed. Others, after years of straightforward life, have fallen. So it
might be that, though he had given full trust to Tom Gordon, he was not
worthy to receive that trust. This half-belief caused the chill in his
treatment of the young man, so different from that to which he had been
accustomed. Before making up his final judgment, however, Mr. Warmore
resolved that every vestige of doubt should be removed. He sent for Mr.
Fyfe Lathewood, one of the shrewdest detectives in New York City, told him
all the circumstances, and ordered him to find out the whole truth, no
matter what it cost, or where it might strike.

The detective had been at work the better part of a week, without any one
in Bellemore suspecting his identity or business. On the afternoon of the
day in which Tom Gordon checked the runaway pony of Miss Warmore, the
detective dropped into the store, as any stranger might have done, made a
few trifling purchases, and then turned and walked out. As he did so, he
managed to pass close to the proprietor, who was standing at the front,
and whispered:--

"_It isn't Gordon; I'll see you to-night_."

Mr. Warmore was strolling homeward, swinging the heavy cane which he
always carried, when, in passing a small stretch of woods just beyond the
outskirts of the town, a man stepped from among the trees with the stealth
of a shadow and waited for him to approach. The merchant hesitated a
moment in doubt of his identity, but the other spoke in a low voice,--

"It's all right; come on."

"I wasn't quite sure," remarked Mr. Warmore, turning aside among the
trees, where he could talk with the detective without the possibility of
being seen or overheard.

"Well," said the merchant in a guarded voice, "what is it?"

"It was a dirty piece of business to throw suspicion on that young Gordon.
He is as innocent as you or I."

"What did you learn about him?"

"You told me of that mortgage which he paid off for the farmer where he
has lived so long."

"Yes; there is no doubt of the truth of that."

"He has been in your employ for four or five years. You tell me he is
saving, and has no bad habits. So the paying of such a small mortgage
ought not to be impossible."

"By no means."

"Nor would it be strange if he had a nest-egg in the savings-bank?"

"Knowing him as well as I do, I would be surprised if such was not the
fact. There is no one in the world dependent on him, and his wages are
liberal. But what about Wall Street and the races?"

"He has never risked a dollar there, I am sure of it."

"I had my doubts, but Catherwood told me he had positive information."

"He simply lied to you--that's all. Have you found how this money is taken
from you? Does it disappear through the day,--that is, is it missing at
night in making up the accounts, or is the money short in the morning?"

"It has happened in both ways."

"You do not keep a private watchman?"

"We have one who passes along the front every half hour or so, and looks
in to see if the light is burning, and everything is right. Two of the
clerks sleep overhead, so it would seem that such a thing as burglary is
out of the question."

"Can you get me inside the store to-night without being seen?"

"I guess I can manage it," replied the merchant in surprise.

"How would you like to go with me? There will be no personal danger. I
will see to that."

"What time of the night do you wish to enter?"

"It isn't likely there will be a visitor before midnight; but, to make
sure, we will say about eleven."

"I can warn the watchman"--

"You mustn't think of such a thing! We must slip inside without a soul
knowing it. The watchman is the last one to trust."

"Do you suspect _him_?" asked the astonished Mr. Warmore.

"Not in the least; but you must never trust any person when it can
possibly be avoided. Doubtless, he means well, but he may leak. The
gentleman for whom we are looking might take it into his head to quiz him:
do you see?"

"It shall be as you say. Will you call for me?"

"Yes; it will be safe enough, I think, to do that."

After his family had retired, Mr. Warmore lit a cigar a few minutes before
the time mentioned, and sauntered down the path in front of his house.
Detective Lathewood was prompt, and met him at his gate. They walked
briskly along the highway, until they entered the town and approached the
large establishment which had been in the possession of the Warmore family
for the better part of a century. The merchant's familiarity with his own
premises enabled him to enter by a back way, without attracting the
attention of the watchman or any one. They waited till the streets, which
were quite clear at that late hour, showed no one near, when they slipped
inside, and closed the door behind them.

It was important that the two clerks sleeping upstairs should not be
awakened; for they were not only likely to begin shooting, if they heard
intruders below, but, of necessity, would learn of the project which the
detective and the merchant had in mind.

Every foot was familiar to Mr. Warmore, who reached the large main room of
his establishment without mishap. Lathewood did the same, by keeping close
to him, and feeling each inch of the way.

Here there was a light burning; and they had to be extremely careful,
since their movements could be seen by any one passing the front. The
opportunities, however, for concealment were so good that they readily
secured a place where they could sit down behind the far end of the
counter, and remain unobserved in comfort. This was done, and the trying
wait began.

The detective was so accustomed to that sort of thing, that he remained
cool and collected. He would have liked to smoke a cigar to help while
away the time, but was too wise to attempt anything of the kind. The odor
of tobacco would be certain to warn any one who entered by means of the
front door.

Mr. Warmore was nervous, for the experience was new to him. He succeeded
by a great effort in keeping himself well in hand, venturing only to
whisper a word now and then.

"You don't think he is likely to come in the back way?" he asked in a
guarded undertone.

"There is not the slightest danger of his doing so. That would look
suspicious. He will use the front door, so, if seen and challenged, he
will be ready with the excuse that he has called on legitimate business of
his own. At the same time, he will try to manage it so as not to be
observed by any one. That watchman of yours is not the keenest-eyed fellow
in the world."

Some time later, just as the town clock finished booming the hour of
midnight, the officer touched the arm of his companion, who said,--

"I haven't noticed anything; what is it?"

"Did you hear some one walk past?"

"Yes; the footfall sounded plainly enough: what of it?"

"That is the third time that man has gone by. He is on the alert."

"It may have been different persons."

"It was the same man--sh! there he comes on the porch."

In the stillness of the night the sound was plainly heard. The next moment
a key turned in the lock of the door, which was silently shoved inward.

The visitor, whoever he was, acted with the coolness of a professional. He
entered by the main door, so, if it chanced that any one saw him, he could
explain the cause of his visit. At the same time, he made as sure as was
possible that no one did see him. Knowing the movements of the watchman,
he waited until he was out of the way, with the certainty that he would
not be back again under a half-hour at the least. That interval was more
than sufficient to do all that he had in mind, and to take his departure.

He opened the door so quietly that, but for the warning rattle of the key,
it would have been hard for the watchers to hear him. Almost before they
knew it he stood inside with the door closed. Here the light fell upon
him, and revealed his identity to the men at the rear.

Neither was surprised. Although they had not mentioned their suspicions to
each other, both were morally certain the thief would prove to be the man
whom they now identified. G. Field Catherwood.

Walking quickly and softly across the floor to the private office, which
opened off from the other end of the counter, the prospective partner of
the business stooped down, turned the shining knob of the safe round until
the right combination had been struck, and swung back the immense, massive
door. Then from an inner drawer he drew the merchant's bank-book, in which
were clasped several hundred dollars in bills. Two of the largest
denomination--fifty each--were withdrawn, and the book returned to its

No veteran could have been cooler than Catherwood. He looked and acted no
more like the exquisite on the steamboat than did Tom Gordon himself. He
was the sleek, cunning, hypocritical villain he had always been, stealing,
not because he was in need of money, but because it was his nature to do

"_Well, Mr. Catherwood, it looks as if the account will be a little short

The miscreant started as if he had heard the warning of a rattlesnake at
his feet. Turning like a flash, he saw Mr. Warmore standing at his elbow.
Had he received but a few seconds' notice, he might have tried to bluff it
out, by pretending he had come to look after some matters about which he
was not fully satisfied. Holding the situation he did in the
establishment, he could feel certain no one would suspect him of any
sinister purpose.

But the exposure dropped like a thunderbolt. He had not an instant to
prepare himself. He was caught in the act, and could explain nothing.

Mr. Warmore, upon seeing who the thief was, whispered to the detective,--

"Leave him to me; don't show yourself, unless he resists."

Before the shivering rogue could make protest, the merchant, suppressing
his anger, said with a coolness which surprised himself as much as it did
the officer crouching a few paces away, with his hand on his revolver,--

"We will call the amount stolen an even thousand dollars, Mr. Catherwood.
How soon will you be prepared to restore it?"


"As a beginning, suppose you return that which you have just taken."

Catherwood did as ordered without a word.

"Now re-lock the safe. Be sure you have the right combination. No one
knows it besides you and me. I will give you a week in which to send back
the rest."

G. Field Catherwood was recovering his nerve. He was furious with himself
that he had been so completely knocked out.

"Suppose I don't choose to return it, what then?"

"It will be ten years or more in State prison."

"Bah! you will have a sweet time proving anything against me."

"I have a witness at hand."


"_Give me the word and I'll have the nippers on him before you can say
Jack Robinson_."

The detective, without rising to his feet or allowing himself to be seen,
uttered these words in such a sepulchral tone that they almost lifted the

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