Part 2 out of 6
"I--I am afraid something has happened to your husband,"
"What do you mean?"
Carl silently pointed to the chamber door.
The woman opened it, and uttered a loud shriek.
"Look here, Walter!" she cried.
Her companion quickly came to her side.
"My husband is dead!" cried the woman;
"basely murdered, and there," pointing fiercely
to Carl, "there stands the murderer!"
"Madam, you cannot believe this!" said Carl,
"What have you to say for yourself?"
demanded the man, suspiciously.
"I only just saw--your husband," continued
Carl, addressing himself to the woman. "I
had finished my meal, when I began to search
for some one whom I could pay, and so opened
this door into the room beyond, when I saw
--him hanging there!"
"Don't believe him, the red-handed
murderer!" broke out the woman, fiercely. "He
is probably a thief; he killed my poor husband,
and then sat down like a cold-blooded villain
that he is, and gorged himself."
Things began to look very serious for poor Carl.
"Your husband is larger and stronger than myself,"
he urged, desperately. "How could I overpower him?"
"It looks reasonable, Maria," said the man.
"I don't see how the boy could have killed Mr.
Brown, or lifted him upon the hook, even if
he did not resist."
"He murdered him, I tell you, he murdered him!"
shrieked the woman, who seemed bereft of reason.
"I call upon you to arrest him."
"I am not a constable, Maria."
"Then tie him so he cannot get away, and
go for a constable. I wouldn't feel safe with
him in the house, unless he were tied fast.
He might hang me!"
Terrible as the circumstances were, Carl felt
an impulse to laugh. It seemed absurd to hear
himself talked of in this way.
"Tie me if you like!" he said. "I am will-
ing to wait here till some one comes who has
a little common sense. Just remember that
I am only a boy, and haven't the strength of
a full-grown man!"
"The boy is right, Maria! It's a foolish idea of yours."
"I call upon you to tie the villain!" insisted the woman.
"Just as you say! Can you give me some rope?"
From a drawer Mrs. Brown drew a quantity
of strong cord, and the man proceeded to
tie Carl's hands.
"Tie his feet, too, Walter!"
"Even if you didn't tie me, I would promise
to remain here. I don't want anybody to
suspect me of such a thing," put in Carl.
"How artful he is!" said Mrs. Brown.
"Tie him strong, Walter."
The two were left alone, Carl feeling decidedly
uncomfortable. The newly-made widow
laid her head upon the table and moaned,
glancing occasionally at the body of her husband,
as it still hung suspended from the hook.
"Oh, William, I little expected to find you
dead!" she groaned. "I only went to the store
to buy a pound of salt, and when I come back,
I find you cold and still, the victim of a young
ruffian! How could you be so wicked?" she
demanded fiercely of Carl.
"I have told you that I had nothing to do
with your husband's death, madam."
"Who killed him, then?" she cried.
"I don't know. He must have committed suicide."
"Don't think you are going to escape in that way.
I won't rest till I see you hung!"
"I wish I had never entered the house,"
thought Carl, uncomfortably. "I would rather
have gone hungry for twenty four hours longer
than find myself in such a position."
Half an hour passed. Then a sound of voices
was heard outside, and half a dozen men
entered, including besides the messenger, the
constable and a physician.
"Why was he not cut down?" asked the doctor, hastily.
"There might have been a chance to resuscitate him."
"I didn't think of it," said the messenger.
"Maria was so excited, and insisted that the
boy murdered him."
Carl was pointed out.
"That boy? What nonsense!" exclaimed Dr. Park.
"Why, it would be more than you or I could do
to overpower and hang a man weighing one hundred
and seventy-five pounds."
"That's what I thought, but Maria seemed crazed like."
"I tell you he did it! Are you going to let him go,
the red-handed murderer?"
"Loose the cord, and I will question the boy,"
said Dr. Park, with an air of authority.
Carl breathed a sigh of relief, when,
freed from his bonds, he stood upright.
"I'll tell you all I know," he said, "but it
won't throw any light upon the death."
Dr. Park listened attentively, and asked one
or two questions.
"Did you hear any noise when you were sitting
at the table?" he inquired.
"Was the door closed?"
"That of itself would probably prevent your
hearing anything. Mrs. Brown, at what hour
did you leave the house?"
"At ten minutes of twelve."
"It is now five minutes of one. The deed
must have been committed just after you left
the house. Had you noticed anything out of
the way in your--husband's manner?"
"No, sir, not much. He was always a silent man."
"Had anything happened to disturb him?"
"He got a letter this morning. I don't know
what was in it."
"We had better search for it."
The body was taken down and laid on the
bed. Dr. Park searched the pockets, and
found a half sheet of note paper, on which
these lines were written:
"Maria:--I have made up my mind I can
ive no longer. I have made a terrible
discovery. When I married you, I thought my
first wife, who deserted me four years ago,
dead. I learn by a letter received this morning
that she is still living in a town of Illinois.
The only thing I can do is to free you
both from my presence. When you come back
from the store you will find me cold and dead.
The little that I leave behind I give to you. If
my first wife should come here, as she threatens,
you can tell her so. Good-by.
The reading of this letter made a sensation.
Mrs. Brown went into hysterics, and there was
a scene of confusion.
"Do you think I can go?" Carl asked Dr. Park.
"Yes. There is nothing to connect you with the sad event."
Carl gladly left the cottage, and it was only
when he was a mile on his way that he remembered
that he had not paid for his dinner, after all.
A PLAUSIBLE STRANGER.
Three days later found Carl still on his travels.
It was his custom to obtain his meals at a
cheap hotel, or, if none were met with, at a
farmhouse, and to secure lodgings where he
could, and on as favorable terms as possible.
He realized the need of economy, and felt that
he was practicing it. He had changed his ten-
dollar bill the first day, for a five and several
ones. These last were now spent, and the five-
dollar bill alone remained to him. He had
earned nothing, though everywhere he had been
on the lookout for a job.
Toward the close of the last day he overtook
a young man of twenty-five, who was traveling
in the same direction.
"Good-afternoon," said the young man, sociably.
"Where are you bound, may I ask?"
"To the next town."
"Yes, if that is the name."
"So am I. Why shouldn't we travel together?"
"I have no objection," said Carl, who was
glad of company.
"Are you in any business?"
"No, but I hope to find a place."
"Oh, a smart boy like you will soon find employment."
"I hope so, I am sure. I haven't much money
left, and it is necessary I should do something."
"Just so. I am a New York salesman, but
just now I am on my vacation--taking a pedestrian
tour with knapsack and staff, as you see.
The beauty of it is that my salary runs on just
as if I were at my post, and will nearly pay
all my traveling expenses."
"You are in luck. Besides you have a good place
to go back to. There isn't any vacancy, is there?
You couldn't take on a boy?" asked Carl, eagerly.
"Well, there might be a chance," said the
young man, slowly. "You haven't any recommendations
with you, have you?"
"No; I have never been employed."
"It doesn't matter. I will recommend you myself."
"You might be deceived in me," said Carl, smiling.
"I'll take the risk of that. I know a reliable
boy when I see him."
"Thank you. What is the name of your firm?"
"F. Brandes & Co., commission merchants,
Pearl Street. My own name is Chauncy Hubbard,
at your service."
"I am Carl Crawford."
"That's a good name. I predict that we shall
be great chums, if I manage to get you a place
in our establishment."
"Is Mr. Brandes a good man to work for?"
"Yes, he is easy and good-natured. He is liberal
to his clerks. What salary do you think I get?"
"I couldn't guess."
"Forty dollars a week, and I am only twenty-five.
Went into the house at sixteen, and worked my way up."
"You have certainly done well," said Carl, respectfully.
"Well, I'm no slouch, if I do say it myself."
"I don't wonder your income pays the
expenses of your vacation trip."
"It ought to, that's a fact, though I'm rather
free handed and like to spend money. My prospects
are pretty good in another direction. Old
Fred Brandes has a handsome daughter, who
thinks considerable of your humble servant."
"Do you think there is any chance of marrying her?"
asked Carl, with interest.
"I think my chance is pretty good, as the girl
won't look at anybody else."
"Is Mr. Brandes wealthy?"
"Yes, the old man's pretty well fixed,
worth nearly half a million, I guess."
"Perhaps he will take you into the firm,"
"Very likely. That's what I'm working for."
"At any rate, you ought to save something
out of your salary."
"I ought, but I haven't. The fact is, Carl,"
said Chauncy Hubbard, in a burst of
confidence, I have a great mind to make a
confession to you."
"I shall feel flattered, I am sure," said Carl,
"I have one great fault--I gamble."
"Do you?" said Carl, rather startled, for he
had been brought up very properly to have a
horror of gambling.
"Yes, I suppose it's in my blood. My father
was a very rich man at one time, but he lost
nearly all his fortune at the gaming table."
"That ought to have been a warning to you,
I should think."
"It ought, and may be yet, for I am still a
"Mr. Hubbard," said Carl, earnestly, "I feel
rather diffident about advising you, for I am
only a boy, but I should think you would give
up such a dangerous habit."
"Say no more, Carl! You are a true friend.
I will try to follow your advice. Give me your hand."
Carl did so, and felt a warm glow of pleasure
at the thought that perhaps he had redeemed
his companion from a fascinating vice.
"I really wish I had a sensible boy like you
to be my constant companion. I should feel safer."
"Do you really have such a passion for
"Yes; if at the hotel to-night I should see
a party playing poker, I could not resist joining
them. Odd, isn't it?"
"I am glad I have no such temptation."
"Yes, you are lucky. By the way, how much
money have you about you?"
"Then you can do me a favor. I have a ten-
dollar bill, which I need to get me home. Now,
I would like to have you keep a part of it for
me till I go away in the morning. Give me
your five, and I will hand you ten. Out of
that you can pay my hotel bill and hand me the
balance due me in the morning."
"If you really wish me to do so."
"Enough said. Here is the ten."
Carl took the bill, and gave Mr. Hubbard his
"You are placing considerable confidence in me," he said.
"I am, it is true, but I have no fear of being deceived.
You are a boy who naturally inspires confidence."
Carl thought Mr. Chauncy Hubbard a very
agreeable and sensible fellow, and he felt
flattered to think that the young man had chosen
him as a guardian, so to speak.
"By the way, Carl, you haven't told me,"
said Hubbard, as they pursued their journey,
"how a boy like yourself is forced to work his
"I can tell you the reason very briefly--
I have a stepmother."
"I understand. Is your father living?"
"But he thinks more of the stepmother than of you?"
"I am afraid he does."
"You have my sympathy, Carl. I will do all
I can to help you. If you can only get a place
in our establishment, you will be all right.
Step by step you will rise, till you come to
stand where I do."
"That would satisfy me. Has Mr. Brandes
got another daughter?"
"No, there is only one."
"Then I shall have to be content with the
forty dollars a week. If I ever get it, I will
"I wish I could."
"You can if you try. Why, you might have
two thousand dollars saved up now, if you had
only begun to save in time."
"I have lost more than that at the gaming
table. You will think me very foolish."
"Yes, I do," said Carl, frankly.
"You are right. But here we are almost at
"Is there a good hotel?"
"Yes--the Fillmore. We will take adjoining
rooms if you say so."
"And in the morning you will pay the bill?"
The two travelers had a good supper, and
retired early, both being fatigued with the journey.
It was not till eight o'clock the next morning
that Carl opened his eyes. He dressed hastily,
and went down to breakfast. He was rather surprised
not to see his companion of the day before.
"Has Mr. Hubbard come down yet?" he asked at the desk.
"Yes; he took an early breakfast, and went
off by the first train."
"That is strange. I was to pay his bill."
"He paid it himself."
Carl did not know what to make of this.
Had Hubbard forgotten that he had five dollars
belonging to him? Fortunately, Carl had
his city address, and could refund the money
in New York.
"Very well! I will pay my own bill. How much is it?"
"A dollar and a quarter."
Carl took the ten-dollar bill from his wallet
and tendered it to the clerk.
Instead of changing it at once, the clerk held
it up to the light and examined it critically.
"I can't take that bill," he said, abruptly.
"Because it is counterfeit."
Carl turned pale, and the room seemed to
whirl round. It was all the money he had.
THE COUNTERFEIT BILL.
"Are you sure it is counterfeit?" asked Carl,
very much disturbed.
"I am certain of it. I haven't been handling
bank bills for ten years without being able
to tell good money from bad. I'll trouble
you for another bill."
"That's all the money I have," faltered Carl.
"Look here, young man," said the clerk, sternly,
"you are trying a bold game, but it won't succeed."
"I am trying no game at all," said Carl,
plucking up spirit. "I thought the bill
"Where did you get it?"
"From the man who came with me last evening--
"The money he gave me was good."
"What did he give you?"
"A five-dollar bill."
"It was my five-dollar bill," said Carl, bitterly.
"Your story doesn't seem very probable,"
said the clerk, suspiciously. "How did he
happen to get your money, and you his?"
"He told me that he would get to gambling,
and wished me to take money enough to pay
his bill here. He handed me the ten-dollar
bill which you say is bad, and I gave him five
in return. I think now he only wanted to
get good money for bad."
"Your story may be true, or it may not,"
said the clerk, whose manner indicated incredulity.
"That is nothing to me. All you have to do
is to pay your hotel bill, and you can settle
with Mr. Hubbard when you see him."
"But I have no other money," said Carl, desperately.
"Then I shall feel justified in ordering your
arrest on a charge of passing, or trying to pass,
"Don't do that, sir! I will see that you are
paid out of the first money I earn."
"You must think I am soft," said the clerk,
contemptuously. "I have seen persons of your
stripe before. I dare say, if you were searched,
more counterfeit money would be found in
"Search me, then!" cried Carl, indignantly.
"I am perfectly willing that you should."
"Haven't you any relations who will pay your bill?"
"I have no one to call upon," answered Carl, soberly.
"Couldn't you let me work it out?
I am ready to do any kind of work."
"Our list of workers is full," said the clerk, coldly.
Poor Carl! he felt that he was decidedly
in a tight place. He had never before found
himself unable to meet his bills. nor would
he have been so placed now but for Hubbard's
rascality. A dollar and a quarter seems a
small sum, but if you are absolutely penniless
it might as well be a thousand. Suppose
he should be arrested and the story get
into the papers? How his stepmother would
exult in the record of his disgrace! He could
anticipate what she would say. Peter, too,
would rejoice, and between them both his father
would be persuaded that he was thoroughly unprincipled.
"What have you got in your valise?" asked the clerk.
"Only some underclothing. If there were
anything of any value I would cheerfully leave
it as security. Wait a minute, though," he
said, with a sudden thought. "Here is a gold
pencil! It is worth five dollars; at any rate,
it cost more than that. I can place that in
"Let me see it."
Carl handed the clerk a neat gold pencil,
on which his name was inscribed. It was evidently
of good quality, and found favor with
"I'll give you a dollar and a quarter for the
pencil," he said, "and call it square."
"I wouldn't like to sell it," said Carl.
"You won't get any more for it."
"I wasn't thinking of that; but it was given
me by my mother, who is now dead. I would
not like to part with anything that she gave me."
"You would prefer to get off scot-free, I
suppose?" retorted the clerk, with a sneer.
"No; I am willing to leave it in your hands,
but I should like the privilege of redeeming
it when I have the money."
"Very well," said the clerk, who reflected
that in all probability Carl would never come
back for it. "I'll take it on those conditions."
Carl passed over the pencil with a sigh. He
didn't like to part with it, even for a short
time, but there seemed no help for it.
"All right. I will mark you paid."
Carl left the hotel, satchel in hand, and as
he passed out into the street, reflected with
a sinking heart that he was now quite penniless.
Where was he to get his dinner, and
how was he to provide himself with a lodging
that night? At present he was not hungry,
having eaten a hearty breakfast at the
hotel, but by one o'clock he would feel the need
of food. He began to ask himself if, after all,
he had not been unwise in leaving home, no
matter how badly he had been treated by his
stepmother. There, at least, he was certain
of living comfortably. Now he was in danger
of starvation, and on two occasions already
he had incurred suspicion, once of being
concerned in a murder, and just now of
passing counterfeit money. Ought he to have
submitted, and so avoided all these perils?
"No!" he finally decided; "I won't give up
the ship yet. I am about as badly off as I
can be; I am without a cent, and don't know
where my next meal is to come from. But
my luck may turn--it must turn--it has
turned!" he exclaimed with energy, as his
wandering glance suddenly fell upon a silver
quarter of a dollar, nearly covered up with
the dust of the street. "That shall prove a
He stooped over and picked up the coin,
which he put in his vest pocket.
It was wonderful how the possession of this
small sum of money restored his courage and
raised his spirits. He was sure of a dinner
now, at all events. It looked as if Providence
was smiling on him.
Two miles farther on Carl overtook a boy
of about his own age trudging along the road
with a rake over his shoulder. He wore overalls,
and was evidently a farmer's boy.
"Good-day!" said Carl, pleasantly, noticing
that the boy regarded him with interest.
"Good-day!" returned the country lad,
"Can you tell me if there is any place near
where I can buy some dinner?"
"There ain't no tavern, if that's what you mean.
I'm goin' home to dinner myself."
"Where do you live?"
He pointed to a farmhouse about a dozen rods away.
"Do you think your mother would give me some dinner?"
"I guess she would. Mam's real accommodatin'."
"Will you ask her?"
"Yes; just come along of me."
He turned into the yard, and followed a
narrow path to the back door.
"I'll stay here while you ask," said Carl.
The boy entered the house, and came out
after a brief absence.
"Mam says you're to come in," he said.
Carl, glad at heart, and feeling quite
prepared to eat fifty cents' worth of dinner,
followed the boy inside.
A pleasant-looking, matronly woman,
plainly but neatly attired, came forward to
"Nat says you would like to get some dinner," she said.
"Yes," answered Carl. "I hope you'll excuse
my applying to you, but your son tells me
there is no hotel near by."
"The nearest one is three miles away from here."
"I don't think I can hold out so long," said
"Sit right down with Nat," said the farmer's
wife, hospitably. "Mr. Sweetser won't be
home for half an hour. We've got enough,
such as it is."
Evidently Mrs. Sweetser was a good cook.
The dinner consisted of boiled mutton, with
several kinds of vegetables. A cup of tea and
two kinds of pie followed.
It was hard to tell which of the two boys did
fuller justice to the meal. Nat had the usual
appetite of a healthy farm boy, and Carl, in
spite of his recent anxieties, and narrow escape
from serious peril, did not allow himself
to fall behind.
"Your mother's a fine cook!" said Carl,
between two mouthfuls.
"Ain't she, though?" answered Nat, his
mouth full of pie.
When Carl rose from the table he feared that
he had eaten more than his little stock of
money would pay for.
"How much will it be, Mrs. Sweetser?" he asked.
"Oh, you're quite welcome to all you've had,"
said the good woman, cheerily. "It's plain
"I never tasted a better dinner," said Carl.
Mrs. Sweetser seemed pleased with the
compliment to her cooking.
"Come again when you are passing this way," she said.
"You will always be welcome to a dinner."
Carl thanked her heartily, and pressed on
his way. Two hours later, at a lonely point
of the road, an ill-looking tramp, who had been
reclining by the wayside, jumped up, and
addressed him in a menacing tone:
"Young feller, shell over all the money you
have got, or I'll hurt you! I'm hard up, and
I won't stand no nonsense."
Carl started and looked into the face of the tramp.
It seemed to him that he had never seen a man more
ill-favored, or villainous-looking.
THE ARCHERY PRIZE.
Situated as he was, it seemed, on second thought,
rather a joke to Carl to be attacked by a robber.
He had but twenty-five cents in good money about him,
and that he had just picked up by the merest chance.
"Do I look like a banker?" he asked,
humorously. "Why do you want to rob a boy?"
"The way you're togged out, you must have
something," growled the tramp, "and I haven't
got a penny."
"Your business doesn't seem to pay, then?"
"Don't you make fun of me, or I'll wring your neck!
Just hand over your money and be quick about it!
I haven't time to stand fooling here all day."
A bright idea came to Carl. He couldn't spare
the silver coin, which constituted all his available wealth,
but he still had the counterfeit note.
"You won't take all my money, will you?"
he said, earnestly.
"How much have you got?" asked the tramp,
pricking up his ears.
Carl, with apparent reluctance, drew out the
The tramp's face lighted up.
"Is your name Vanderbilt?" he asked.
"I didn't expect to make such a haul."
"Can't you give me back a dollar out of it?
I don't want to lose all I have."
"I haven't got a cent. You'll have to wait till
we meet again. So long, boy! You've helped
me out of a scrape."
"Or into one," thought Carl.
The tramp straightened up, buttoned his
dilapidated coat, and walked off with the
consciousness of being a capitalist.
Carl watched him with a smile.
"I hope I won't meet him after he has discovered
that the bill is a counterfeit," he said to himself.
He congratulated himself upon being still the possessor
of twenty-five cents in silver. It was not much,
but it seemed a great deal better than being penniless.
A week before he would have thought it impossible that
such a paltry sum would have made him feel comfortable,
but he had passed through a great deal since then.
About the middle of the afternoon he came
to a field, in which something appeared to be
going on. Some forty or fifty young persons,
boys and girls, were walking about the grass,
and seemed to be preparing for some interesting
Carl stopped to rest and look on.
"What's going on here?" he asked of a boy
who was sitting on the fence.
"It's a meeting of the athletic association,"
said the boy.
"What are they doing?"
"They try for prizes in jumping, vaulting,
archery and so on."
This interested Carl, who excelled in all
"I suppose I may stay and look on?" he said, inquiringly.
"Why, of course. Jump over the fence and
I'll go round with you."
It seemed pleasant to Carl to associate once
more with boys of his own age. Thrown
unexpectedly upon his own resources, he had
almost forgotten that he was a boy. Face to
face with a cold and unsympathizing world,
he seemed to himself twenty-five at least.
"Those who wish to compete for the archery
prize will come forward," announced Robert
Gardiner, a young man of nineteen, who, as
Carl learned, was the president of the association.
"You all understand the conditions. The entry fee
to competitors is ten cents. The prize to the most
successful archer is one dollar."
Several boys came forward and paid the entrance fee.
"Would you like to compete?" asked Edward Downie,
the boy whose acquaintance Carl had made.
"I am an outsider," said Carl. "I don't
belong to the association."
"I'll speak to the president, if you like."
"I don't want to intrude."
"It won't be considered an intrusion. You
pay the entrance fee and take your chances."
Edward went to the president and spoke to
him in a low voice. The result was that he
advanced to Carl, and said, courteously:
"If you would like to enter into our games,
you are quite at liberty to do so."
"Thank you," responded Carl. "I have had
a little practice in archery, and will enter my
name for that prize."
He paid over his quarter and received back
fifteen cents in change. It seemed rather an
imprudent outlay, considering his small capital;
but he had good hopes of carrying off the prize,
and that would be a great lift for him.
Seven boys entered besides Carl. The first was
Victor Russell, a lad of fourteen, whose arrow
went three feet above the mark.
"The prize is mine if none of you do better
than that," laughed Victor, good-naturedly.
"I hope not, for the credit of the club," said
the president. "Mr. Crawford, will you shoot next?"
"I would prefer to be the last," said Carl, modestly.
"John Livermore, your turn now."
John came a little nearer than his predecessor,
but did not distinguish himself.
"If that is a specimen of the skill of the clubmen,"
thought Carl, "my chance is a good one."
Next came Frank Stockton, whose arrow stuck
only three inches from the center of the target.
"Good for Fred!" cried Edward Downie.
"Just wait till you see me shoot!"
"Are you a dangerous rival?" asked Carl, smiling.
"I can hit a barn door if I am only near enough," replied Edward.
"Edward Downie!" called the president.
Edward took his bow and advanced to the proper place,
bent it, and the arrow sped on its way.
There was a murmur of surprise when his
arrow struck only an inch to the right of the
centre. No one was more amazed than Edward
himself, for he was accounted far from
skillful. It was indeed a lucky accident.
"What do you say to that?" asked Edward,
"I think the prize is yours. I had no idea
you could shoot like that," said Carl.
"Nor I," rejoined Edward, laughing.
"Carl Crawford!" called the president.
Carl took his position, and bent his bow with
the greatest care. He exercised unusual
deliberation, for success meant more to him than
to any of the others. A dollar to him in his
present circumstances would be a small fortune,
while the loss of even ten cents would be
sensibly felt. His heart throbbed with excitement
as he let the arrow speed on its mission.
His unusual deliberation, and the fact that
he was a stranger, excited strong interest, and
all eyes followed the arrow with eager attentiveness.
There was a sudden shout of irrepressible excitement.
Carl's arrow had struck the bull's-eye and
the prize was his.
"Christopher!" exclaimed Edward Downie,
"you've beaten me, after all!"
"I'm almost sorry," said Carl, apologetically,
but the light in his eyes hardly bore out the statement.
"Never mind. Everybody would have called it a fluke
if I had won," said Edward. "I expect to get the prize
for the long jump. I am good at that."
"So am I, but I won't compete; I will leave it to you."
"No, no. I want to win fair."
Carl accordingly entered his name. He made
the second best jump, but Edward's exceeded
his by a couple of inches, and the prize was
adjudged to him.
"I have my revenge," he said, smiling. "I
am glad I won, for it wouldn't have been to
the credit of the club to have an outsider carry
off two prizes."
"I am perfectly satisfied," said Carl; "I ought to be,
for I did not expect to carry off any."
Carl decided not to compete for any other prize.
He had invested twenty cents and got back a dollar,
which left him a profit of eighty cents.
This, with his original quarter, made him
the possessor of a dollar and five cents.
"My luck seems to have turned," he said to himself,
and the thought gave him fresh courage.
It was five o'clock when the games were over,
and Carl prepared to start again on his journey.
"Where are you going to take supper?" asked Downie.
"Come home with me. If you are in no hurry,
you may as well stay overnight, and go on in the morning."
"Are you sure it won't inconvenience you?"
"Not at all."
"Then I'll accept with thanks."
AN ODD ACQUAINTANCE.
After breakfast the next morning Carl
started again on his way. His new friend,
Edward Downie, accompanied him for a mile,
having an errand at that distance.
"I wish you good luck, Carl," he said,
earnestly. "When you come this way again, be
sure to stop in and see me."
"I will certainly do so, but I hope I may
"At any rate," thought Carl, as he resumed
his journey alone, "I am better off than I was
yesterday morning. Then I had but twenty-
five cents; now I have a dollar."
This was satisfactory as far as it went, but
Carl was sensible that he was making no progress
in his plan of earning a living. He was
simply living from hand to mouth, and but for
good luck he would have had to go hungry, and
perhaps have been obliged to sleep out doors.
What he wanted was employment.
It was about ten o'clock when, looking along
the road, his curiosity was excited by a man
of very unusual figure a few rods in advance
of him. He looked no taller than a boy of ten;
but his frame was large, his shoulders broad,
and his arms were of unusual length. He
might properly be called a dwarf.
"I am glad I am not so small as that,"
thought Carl. "I am richer than he in having
a good figure. I should not like to excite
attention wherever I go by being unusually large
or unusually small."
Some boys would have felt inclined to laugh
at the queer figure, but Carl had too much good
feeling. His curiosity certainly was aroused,
and he thought he would like to get acquainted
with the little man, whose garments of fine
texture showed that, though short in stature,
he was probably long in purse. He didn't
quite know how to pave the way for an
acquaintance, but circumstances favored him.
The little man drew out a handkerchief from
the side pocket of his overcoat. With it
fluttered out a bank bill, which fell to the ground
apparently unobserved by the owner.
Carl hurried on, and, picking up the bill,
said to the small stranger as he touched his
arm: "Here is some money you just dropped, sir."
The little man turned round and smiled pleasantly.
"Thank you. Are you sure it is mine?"
"Yes, sir; it came out with your handkerchief."
"Let me see. So it is mine. I was very
careless to put it loose in my pocket."
"You were rather careless, sir."
"Of what denomination is it?'
"It is a two-dollar note."
"If you had been a poor boy," said the
little man, eying Carl keenly, "you might have
been tempted to keep it. I might not have known."
"What makes you think I am not a poor boy?" he said.
"You are well dressed."
"That is true; but all the money I have is
a dollar and five cents."
"You know where to get more? You have a good home?"
"I had a home, but now I am thrown on my own exertions,"
said Carl, soberly.
"Dear me! That is bad! If I were better acquainted,
I might ask more particularly how this happens. Are you an orphan?"
"No, sir; my father is living."
"And your mother is dead?"
"Is your father a poor man?"
"No, sir; he is moderately rich."
"Yet you have to fight your own way?"
"Yes, sir. I have a stepmother."
"I see. Are you sure you are not unreasonably prejudiced
against your stepmother? All stepmothers are not bad or unkind."
"I know that, sir."
"Yours is, I presume?"
"You can judge for yourself."
Carl recited some incidents in his experience
with his stepmother. The stranger listened
with evident interest.
"I am not in general in favor of boys
leaving home except on extreme provocation,"
he said, after a pause; "but in your case,
as your father seems to take part against you,
I think you may be justified, especially as,
at your age, you have a fair chance of making
your own living."
"I am glad you think that, sir. I have begun
to wonder whether I have not acted rashly."
"In undertaking to support yourself?"
"How old are you?"
"At fourteen I was obliged to undertake
what you have now before you."
"To support yourself?"
"Yes; I was left an orphan at fourteen, with
no money left me by my poor father, and no
relatives who could help me."
"How did you make out, sir?" asked Carl,
feeling very much interested.
"I sold papers for a while--in Newark, New
Jersey--then I got a place at three dollars
a week, out of which I had to pay for board,
lodging and clothes. Well, I won't go through
my history. I will only say that whatever I
did I did as well as I could. I am now a man
of about middle age, and I am moderately wealthy."
"I am very much encouraged by what you tell me, sir."
"Perhaps you don't understand what a hard
struggle I had. More than once I have had
to go to bed hungry. Sometimes I have had
to sleep out, but one mustn't be afraid to rough
it a little when he is young. I shouldn't like to
sleep out now, or go to bed without my supper,"
and the little man laughed softly.
"Yes, sir; I expect to rough it, but if I could
only get a situation, at no matter what income,
I should feel encouraged."
"You have earned no money yet?"
"Yes, sir; I earned a dollar yesterday."
"At what kind of work?"
The little man looked surprised.
"Is that a business?" he asked, curiously.
"I'll explain how it was," and Carl told
about the contest.
"So you hit the mark?" said the little man,
Somehow, there was something in the little
man's tone that put new courage into Carl,
and incited him to fresh effort.
"I wonder, sir," he said, after a pause, "that
you should be walking, when you can well afford
The little man smiled.
"It is by advice of my physician," he said.
"He tells me I am getting too stout, and ought
to take more or less exercise in the open air.
So I am trying to follow his advice "
"Are you in business near here, sir?"
"At a large town six miles distant. I may
not walk all the way there, but I have a place
to call at near by, and thought I would avail
myself of the good chance offered to take a
little exercise. I feel repaid. I have made a
"Thank you, sir."
"There is my card," and the little man took
out a business card, reading thus:
"I manufacture my furniture in the country,"
he continued, "but I ship it by special ar-
rangements to a house in New York in which
I am also interested."
"Yes, sir, I see. Do you employ many persons
in your establishment?"
"Do you think you could make room for me?"
"Do you think you would like the business?"
"I am prepared to like any business in which
I can make a living."
"That is right. That is the way to look at
it. Let me think."
For two minutes Mr. Jennings seemed to be
plunged in thought. Then he turned and
"You can come home with me," he said, "and
I will consider the matter."
"Thank you, sir," said Carl, gladly.
"I have got to make a call at the next house,
not on business, though. There is an old schoolmate
lying there sick. I am afraid he is rather
poor, too. You can walk on slowly, and I will
overtake you in a few minutes."
"Thank you, sir."
"After walking half a mile, if I have not
overtaken you, you may sit down under a tree
and wait for me."
"All right, sir."
"Before I leave you I will tell you a secret."
"What is it, sir?"
"The two dollars you picked up, I dropped
"On purpose?" asked Carl, in amazement.
"Yes; I wanted to try you, to see if you were honest."
"Then you had noticed me?"
"Yes. I liked your appearance, but I wanted to test you."
AN UNEQUAL CONTEST.
Carl walked on slowly. He felt encouraged
by the prospect of work, for he was sure that
Mr. Jennings would make a place for him, if
"He is evidently a kind-hearted man," Carl
reflected. "Besides, he has been poor himself,
and he can sympathize with me. The wages
may be small, but I won't mind that, if I
only support myself economically, and get on."
To most boys brought up in comfort, not to
say luxury, the prospect of working hard for
small pay would not have seemed inviting. But
Carl was essentially manly, and had sensible
ideas about labor. It was no sacrifice or
humiliation to him to become a working boy,
for he had never considered himself superior
to working boys, as many boys in his position
would have done.
He walked on in a leisurely manner, and at
the end of ten minutes thought he had better
sit down and wait for Mr. Jennings. But he was
destined to receive a shock. There, under the tree
which seemed to offer the most inviting shelter,
reclined a figure only too well-known.
It was the tramp who the day before had
compelled him to surrender the ten-dollar bill.
The ill-looking fellow glanced up, and when
his gaze rested upon Carl, his face beamed
with savage joy.
"So it's you, is it?" he said, rising from his seat.
"Yes," answered Carl, doubtfully.
"Do you remember me?"
"I have cause to remember you, my chicken.
That was a mean trick you played upon me,"
and he nodded his head significantly.
"I should think it was you that played the trick on me."
"How do you make that out?" growled the tramp.
"You took my money."
"So I did, and much good it did me."
Carl was silent.
"You know why, don't you?"
Carl might have denied that he knew the
character of the bill which was stolen from him,
but I am glad to say that it would have come
from him with a very ill grace, for he was
accustomed to tell the truth under all circumstances.
"You knew that the bill was counterfeit,
didn't you?" demanded the tramp, fiercely.
"I was told so at the hotel where I offered
it in payment for my bill."
"Yet you passed it on me!"
"I didn't pass it on you. You took it from me,"
retorted Carl, with spirit.
"That makes no difference."
"I think it does. I wouldn't have offered
it to anyone in payment of an honest bill."
"Humph! you thought because I was poor
and unfortunate you could pass it off on me!"
This seemed so grotesque that Carl found
it difficult not to laugh.
"Do you know it nearly got me into trouble?"
went on the tramp.
"How was that?"
"I stopped at a baker's shop to get a lunch.
When I got through I offered the bill. The
old Dutchman put on his spectacles, and he
looked first at the bill, then at me. Then he
threatened to have me arrested for passing bad
money. I told him I'd go out in the back yard
and settle it with him. I tell you, boy, I'd
have knocked him out in one round, and he
knew it, so he bade me be gone and never
darken his door again. Where did you get it?"
"It was passed on me by a man I was traveling with."
"How much other money have you got?" asked the tramp.
"Give it to me, whatever it is."
This was a little too much for Carl's patience.
"I have no money to spare," he said, shortly.
"Say that over again!" said the tramp, menacingly.
"If you don't understand me, I will.
I have no money to spare."
"You'll spare it to me, I reckon."
"Look here," said Carl, slowly backing.
"You've robbed me of ten dollars. You'll have
to be satisfied with that."
"It was no good. It might have sent me
to prison. If I was nicely dressed I might
pass it, but when a chap like me offers a ten-
dollar bill it's sure to he looked at sharply.
I haven't a cent, and I'll trouble you to hand
over all you've got."
"Why don't you work for a living? You
are a strong, able-bodied man."
"You'll find I am if you give me any more
of your palaver."
Carl saw that the time of negotiation was
past, and that active hostilities were about to
commence. Accordingly he turned and ran,
not forward, but in the reverse direction, hoping
in this way to meet with Mr. Jennings.
"Ah, that's your game, is it?" growled the tramp.
"You needn't expect to escape, for I'll overhaul
you in two minutes."
So Carl ran, and his rough acquaintance ran after him.
It could hardly be expected that a boy of sixteen,
though stout and strong, could get away from a tall,
powerful man like the tramp.
Looking back over his shoulder, Carl saw
that the tramp was but three feet behind, and
almost able to lay his hand upon his shoulder.
He dodged dexterously, and in trying to do
the same the tramp nearly fell to the ground.
Naturally, this did not sweeten his temper.
"I'll half murder you when I get hold of you,"
he growled, in a tone that bodied ill for Carl.
The latter began to pant, and felt that he
could not hold out much longer. Should he
surrender at discretion?
"If some one would only come along," was his
inward aspiration. "This man will take my money
and beat me, too."
As if in reply to his fervent prayer the small
figure of Mr. Jennings appeared suddenly,
rounding a curve in the road.
"Save me, save me, Mr. Jennings!" cried Carl,
running up to the little man for protection.
"What is the matter? Who is this fellow?"
asked Mr. Jennings, in a deep voice for so
small a man.
"That tramp wants to rob me."
"Don't trouble yourself! He won't do it,"
said Jennings, calmly.
CARL ARRIVES IN MILFORD.
The tramp stopped short, and eyed Carl's small defender,
first with curious surprise, and then with derision.
"Out of my way, you midget!" he cried, "or 'll hurt you."
"Try it!" said the little man, showing no sign of fear.
"Why, you're no bigger than a kid. I can upset you
with one finger."
He advanced contemptuously, and laid his
hand on the shoulder of the dwarf. In an
instant Jennings had swung his flail-like arms,
and before the tramp understood what was
happening he was lying flat on his back, as
much to Carl's amazement as his own.
He leaped to his feet with an execration,
and advanced again to the attack. To be upset
by such a pigmy was the height of mortification.
"I'm going to crush you, you mannikin!"
Jennings put himself on guard. Like many
small men, he was very powerful, as his broad
shoulders and sinewy arms would have made
evident to a teacher of gymnastics. He clearly
understood that this opponent was in deadly
earnest, and he put out all the strength which
he possessed. The result was that his large-
framed antagonist went down once more, striking
his head with a force that nearly stunned him.
It so happened that at this juncture reinforcements arrived.
A sheriff and his deputy drove up in an open buggy, and,
on witnessing the encounter, halted their carriage and sprang
to the ground.
"What is the matter, Mr. Jennings?" asked the sheriff,
respectfully, for the little man was a person of importance
in that vicinity.
"That gentleman is trying to extort a forced
loan, Mr. Clunningham."
"Ha! a footpad?"
The sheriff sprang to the side of the tramp,
who was trying to rise, and in a trice his wrists
were confined by handcuffs.
"I think I know you, Mike Frost," he said.
"You are up to your old tricks. When did you
come out of Sing Sing?"
"Three weeks since," answered the tramp, sullenly.
"They want you back there. Come along with me!"
He was assisted into the buggy, and spent
that night in the lockup.
"Did he take anything from you, Carl?"
asked Mr. Jennings.
"No, sir; but I was in considerable danger.
How strong you are!" he added, admiringly.
"Strength isn't always according to size!"
said the little man, quietly. "Nature gave me
a powerful, though small, frame, and I have
increased my strength by gymnastic exercise."
Mr. Jennings did not show the least excitement
after his desperate contest. He had attended
to it as a matter of business, and when
over he suffered it to pass out of his mind. He
took out his watch and noted the time.
"It is later than I thought," he said. "I think
I shall have to give up my plan of walking
the rest of the way."
"Then I shall be left alone," thought Carl regretfully.
Just then a man overtook them in a carriage.
He greeted Mr. Jennings respectfully.
"Are you out for a long walk?" he said.
"Yes, but I find time is passing too rapidly with me.
Are you going to Milford?"
"Can you take two passengers?"
"You and the boy?"
"Yes; of course I will see that you don't lose by it."
"I ought not to charge you anything, Mr. Jennings.
Several times you have done me favors."
"And I hope to again, but this is business.
If a dollar will pay you, the boy and I will ride
"It will be so much gain, as I don't go out of my way."
"You can take the back seat, Carl," said Mr. Jennings.
"I will sit with Mr. Leach."
They were soon seated and on their way.
"Relative of yours, Mr. Jennings?" asked Leach,
with a backward glance at Carl.
Like most country folks, he was curious
about people. Those who live in cities meet
too many of their kind to feel an interest in strangers.
"No; a young friend," answered Jennings, briefly.
"Goin' to visit you?"
"Yes, I think he will stay with me for a time."
Then the conversation touched upon Milford
matters in which at present Carl was not interested.
After his fatiguing walk our hero enjoyed
the sensation of riding. The road was a pleasant
one, the day was bright with sunshine and
the air vocal with the songs of birds. For a
time houses were met at rare intervals, but
after a while it became evident that they were
approaching a town of considerable size.
"Is this Milford, Mr. Jennings?" asked Carl.
"Yes," answered the little man, turning with
a pleasant smile.
"How large is it?"
"I think there are twelve thousand inhabitants.
It is what Western people call a `right smart place.'
It has been my home for twenty years, and I am
much attached to it."
"And it to you, Mr. Jennings," put in the driver.
"That is pleasant to hear," said Jennings, with a smile.
"It is true. There are few people here whom
you have not befriended."
"That is what we are here for, is it not?"
"I wish all were of your opinion. Why, Mr.
Jennings, when we get a city charter I think
I know who will be the first mayor."
"Not I, Mr. Leach. My own business is all
I can well attend to. Thank you for your compliment,
though. Carl, do you see yonder building?"
He pointed to a three-story structure, a
frame building, occupying a prominent position.
"That is my manufactory. What do you think of it?"
"I shouldn't think a town of this size would
require so large an establishment," answered Carl.
Mr. Jennings laughed.
"You are right," he said. "If I depended on
Milford trade, a very small building would be
sufficient. My trade is outside. I supply
many dealers in New York City and at the
West. My retail trade is small. If any of my
neighbors want furniture they naturally come
to me, and I favor them as to price out of
friendly feeling, but I am a manufacturer and
"I see, sir."
"Shall I take you to your house, Mr. Jennings?"
"Yes, if you please."
Leach drove on till he reached a two-story
building of Quaker-like simplicity but with a
large, pleasant yard in front, with here and
there a bed of flowers. Here he stopped his horse.
"We have reached our destination, Carl,"
said Mr. Jennings. "You are active. Jump
out and I will follow."
Carl needed no second invitation. He sprang
from the carriage and went forward to help
Mr. Jennings out.
"No, thank you, Carl," said the little man.
"I am more active than you think. Here we are!"
He descended nimbly to the ground, and,
drawing a one-dollar bill from his pocket,
handed it to the driver.
"I don't like to take it, Mr. Jennings," said
"Why not? The laborer is worthy of his hire.
Now, Carl, let us go into the house."
Mr. JENNINGS AT HOME.
Mr. Jennings did not need to open the door.
He had scarcely set foot on the front step when
it was opened from inside, and Carl found a
fresh surprise in store for him. A woman,
apparently six feet in height, stood on the
threshold. Her figure was spare and ungainly,
and her face singularly homely, but the absence
of beauty was partially made up by a kindly
expression. She looked with some surprise at Carl.
"This is a young friend of mine, Hannah,"
said her master. "Welcome him for my sake."
"I am glad to see you," said Hannah,
in a voice that was another amazement.
It was deeper than that of most men.
As she spoke, she held out a large masculine
hand, which Carl took, as seemed to be expected.
"Thank you," said Carl.
"What am I to call you?" asked Hannah.
"That's a strange name."
"It is not common, I believe."
"You two will get acquainted by and by,"
said Mr. Jennings. "The most interesting
question at present is, when will dinner be ready?"
"In ten minutes," answered Hannah, promptly.
"Carl and I are both famished. We have
had considerable exercise," here he nodded at
Carl with a comical look, and Carl understood that
he referred in part to his contest with the tramp.
Hannah disappeared into the kitchen, and
Mr. Jennings said: "Come upstairs, Carl.
I will show you your room."
Up an old-fashioned stairway Carl followed
his host, and the latter opened the door of a
side room on the first landing. It was not
large, but was neat and comfortable. There
was a cottage bedstead, a washstand, a small
bureau and a couple of chairs.
"I hope you will come to feel at home here,"
said Mr. Jennings, kindly.
"Thank you, sir. I am sure I shall," Carl
"There are some nails to hang your clothing
on," went on Mr. Jennings, and then he stopped
short, for it was clear that Carl's small gripsack
could not contain an extra suit, and he
felt delicate at calling up in the boy's mind
the thought of his poverty.
"Thank you, sir," said Carl. "I left my
trunk at the house of a friend, and if you
should succeed in finding me a place, I will
send for it."
"That is well!" returned Mr. Jennings, looking
relieved. "Now I will leave you for a few
moments. You will find water and towels,
in case you wish to wash before dinner."
Carl was glad of the opportunity. He was
particular about his personal appearance, and
he felt hot and dusty. He bathed his face and
hands, carefully dusted his suit, brushed his
hair, and was ready to descend when he heard
the tinkling of a small bell at the foot of the
He readily found his way into the neat dining-
room at the rear of the parlor. Mr. Jennings
sat at the head of the table, a little giant,
diminutive in stature, but with broad shoulders,
a large head, and a powerful frame. Opposite
him sat Hannah, tall, stiff and upright
as a grenadier. She formed a strange contrast
to her employer.
"I wonder what made him hire such a tall
woman?" thought Carl. "Being so small himself,
her size makes him look smaller."
There was a chair at one side, placed for
"Sit down there, Carl," said Mr. Jennings.
"I won't keep you waiting any longer than
I can help. What have you given us to-day, Hannah?"
"Roast beef," answered Hannah in her deep tones.
"There is nothing better."
The host cut off a liberal slice for Carl,
and passed the plate to Hannah, who supplied
potatoes, peas and squash. Carl's mouth fairly
watered as he watched the hospitable preparations
for his refreshment.
"I never trouble myself about what we are
to have on the table," said Mr. Jennings.
"Hannah always sees to that. She's knows just
what I want. She is a capital cook, too, Hannah is."
Hannah looked pleased at this compliment.
"You are easily pleased, master," she said.
"I should be hard to suit if I were not
pleased with your cooking. You don't know
so well Carl's taste, but if there is anything
he likes particularly he can tell you."
"You are very kind, sir," said Carl.
"There are not many men who would treat
a poor boy so considerately," he thought.
"He makes me an honored guest."
When dinner was over, Mr. Jennings invited
Carl to accompany him on a walk. They
passed along the principal street, nearly every
person they met giving the little man a cordial greeting.
"He seems to be very popular," thought Carl.
At length they reached the manufactory. Mr. Jennings
went into the office, followed by Carl.
A slender, dark-complexioned man, about
thirty-five years of age, sat on a stool at a high
desk. He was evidently the bookkeeper.
"Any letters, Mr. Gibbon?" asked Mr. Jennings.
"Yes, sir; here are four."
"Where are they from?"
"From New York, Chicago, Pittsburg and New Haven."
"What do they relate to?"
"Orders. I have handed them to Mr. Potter."
Potter, as Carl afterwards learned, was superintendent
of the manufactory, and had full charge of practical details.
"Is there anything requiring my personal attention?"
"No, sir; I don't think so."
"By the way, Mr. Gibbon, let me introduce
you to a young friend of mine--Carl Crawford."
The bookkeeper rapidly scanned Carl's face
and figure. It seemed to Carl that the scrutiny
was not a friendly one.
"I am glad to see you," said Mr. Gibbon, coldly.
"Thank you, sir."
"By the way, Mr. Jennings," said the
bookkeeper, "I have a favor to ask of you."
"Go on, Mr. Gibbon," rejoined his employer,
in a cordial tone.
"Two months since you gave my nephew,
Leonard Craig, a place in the factory."
"Yes; I remember."
"I don't think the work agrees with him."
"He seemed a strong, healthy boy."
"He has never been used to confinement,
and it affects him unpleasantly."
"Does he wish to resign his place?"
"I have been wondering whether you would
not be willing to transfer him to the office.