The boy who balked, or, Bob Brisbane's big kick

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The boy who balked, or, Bob Brisbane's big kick

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The boy who balked, or, Bob Brisbane's big kick
Series Title:
Wide awake weekly
Irving, Frank
Place of Publication:
New York
Frank Tousey Publisher
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1 online resource (28 pages)


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Dime novels. (lcsh)
Fire fighters -- Fiction. (lcsh)
serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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032047503 ( ALEPH )
864195822 ( OCLC )
W20-00015 ( USF DOI )
w20.15 ( USF Handle )

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Then Bo sailed in for all he was wortli. He ducke caught Cluck by tlie knees, and sent that big bully smashing to the floor. ''Brisbane, how dare you?" roared Allison, coming through the door. "You're through here! Git-and sta,yj,''


EA WAKE WEEKLY A STORY E VERY WEEK. luued Weekl11-B11 Subscription ,2.50 per year. Entered according to Act of Ooi.gresa, in the year 19011, in the office or the Mbrarlan of Oongreu, WasMngton, D. O., bl/ Frank Touse11, PubHsher, 24 Union Square, New York. No: 15. NEW YORK, JULY 27, 1906. PRICE 5 CENTS. The Boy Who Balked HARRY M>11LANE. Bob Brisbane's Big Kick By FRANK IRVINO CHAPTER I. A TROUNCING ALL AROUND. "That's quite true, as I know, Mr. Allison," the ship ping clel'k broke in, "for I asked Brisbane if he had re ceived the order from Mr. Rondick. Brisbane admitted that he had." "Now, what I want to find out-and quick!" r. Allison, "is who is to blame." "Another liar!" clicked off Bob, who now, white and roared red by i.urns, no longer made any effort to keep back his wrath. The sole owner of the great leather goods house brought 1is fist clown angrily and jarringly o n his desk. "I--" began Payson, sta mmeringly. "Oh, you-eh?" glared. bis employer. He wheeled savage l y on the cringing shipping clerk. "'N' o, sir," almost whined the clerk. "I--"' "You said that before." "Please let me go on, sir." "Go ahead! Who's hindering you?" demanded this bully of an empfoyer "I passed that order on to Mr. Rondi ck, sir," went on the shipping clerk. Just here the assistant shipping clerk began to look more uneasy than before. "Wh .at did you do with the o;rder, young man?" roared llr .Allison, wheeling upon the assistant. passed the order on to Brisbane-at once, sir," stammered Ron.dick. ( "Oh, you infernal liar!" Bob Brisbane had meant to utter the words under his th, but the words escaped loudly enough for all pres-to hear. yson, cringing slave, and liar from that fact, was to see that if he shielded his assistant, the latter, in protect him from the boss's wrath. "Dorman," blazed the head of the house, turning upon his head porter, "did you get that order from Brisbane?" "No, sir," lied Cluck Dorman, promptly. "Liar number three!" tallied off Bob. "Now, it's your turn to do some lying, if you dare, young man!" snorted Allison, turning upon his book boy in the shipping department. "I'm out of the rnnning at the start, I'm afraid, sir," declared Bob, grimly "Oh, you are, eh?" "Yes, sir." "Why?" "Because, Mr. Allison," repli ed. the boy, firmly, "all I can tell is the truth." "You infernal young idiot," glared Allison, again bang ing bis fist on his desk, "do you s uppose I want anyUiing else but the truth?" "Then you're plumb out of luck," clicked Bob Briflbane._ "You haven't been getting anything like the "I haven't, eh?" sneered the angry man. "Now, see here. I had a most important and valuable order to Mr. Payion. He hands the order over to his assistant, Mr. Rondick. Rondick, as is his duty, after entering the or. der, calls it off for you for your book. You're supposed to


THE BOY WHO BALKED. attend to the order and to turn it over to Dorman :for shipment. All the rest agree that' Payson passed it on to Rondick, and that Rondick passed it your way. But Dor rnan denies that he got it from you. So the order didn't get off, and I'm in trouble with one of my best customers. Now, what can you, or any other young idiot, say to that?" "All I can say is the truth," Bob insisted, firmly, despite the four pairs of glaring eyes that con:l'ronted him. "The truth?" bellowed Allison. "That's what I want. Out with it!" "Can the rest of you stand it?" demanded Bob, looking curiously around him. They all nodded, though anxiously. "Then here goes,'' challenged Bob, straightening up ancl looking boldly in each pair oi eyes as he looked over the human half-circle that seemed to have against him. "In the :first place, nqt a word was ever said to me about this order. I saw it, with your initials on, Mr. Alli son. It was lying on Payson 's desk." "Did you ask him about it, Brisbane?" sneered the boss. "No, sir "Why not?" "I couldn't." "Why?" "See here," squared the boy, "I've stood enough blame for things that I haven't done. Now, I'm going to kick back, and kick hard. 1 you want to know why I didn't, I couldn't ask Payson, because, after 2 :30 yesterday after noon he wasn't at the ofice." "I was over at the freight depot," stammered Payson, going whlte. "No, you weren't," defied Bob. "You were at the races. You made some losing bets at the track, too. Here are the tickets, with your name recorded on the m as the bettor. There they are," and Bob threw them on the boss's desk, adding: "When I saw this cloud gathering, I remembered that I had seen Payson throw some green slips in his waste basket. I fished them out. That disposes of Payson!" "This is some dastardly pldt,'' protested the shlpping clerk, through lips that trembled. But -Bob, not heeding, went on: "So I went to Rondick and asked him about that order. He told me not to meddle in what wasn't my business, and to wait until I got the order passed on to me. But Ron dick had been drinking heavily, and I didn't think he was fit for business." "Oh, what a lie!" gasped the assistant shipping clerk. "I never took a drink in my life." "I'm out for your scalp, too, since you tried to get mine," uttered Brisbane, calmly, but his face whlte and set with purpose to see the thing through. "Mr. Allison, Rondick tells you that he never tasted liquor--" "It's the truth!" quivered the assistant. "Smell his breath now," requested Bob, ironically. "Mr. Allison, I 'll tell you where to look, and you can find that Rondick is a regular customer of that saloon." "But what about that order?" demanded the bo&s, who was looking at least interested. "Well, sir, not wanting to deal with_ Ron dick any fur ther, I came to this office to see you, but you weren't in. So, as I knew as well as anyone how important that order was, I took tho liberty of handing it over to Cluck Dor man, anyway." "You cheeky little liar!" gasped Cluck, a big, rough, red-faced, heavy-fisted, horny-handed fellow in the garb of a teamster. "Do you mean to say that I didn't give the order to you?" demanded Bob. "Of course you didn't," roared Cluck, aggressively, and, sticking his chin out in a way that meant fight. "Men who drink too much beer in bu iness hours have short memories," gritted Bob. "But I can clinch you, too, Dorman. You have forgotten that I made you sign on my book. Here's the book," wound up young Brisbane, triumphantly, "and hero's your signature against the entry, lllr. Cluck Dorman." "It's a forgery, then!" bellowed the head porter, stretch ing forward to snatch away the accusing book. "Let Mr. Allison judge about that,'' returned our hero, darting away from angry Clucl} and dropping the opened book on his employer's desk. There was an awkward silence, broken by an angry exclamation, in chorus, from the three men whom Bob had accused : "The cheeky iittle liar!" But Bob, seventeen, of medium height and build, with wavy brown hair and blue eyes that usually were as mild as milk, now folded his arms, stood very and looked boldly at his three accusers. "I'm not the kind of fellow to carry tales out of school," he remarked, coolly. "But this sort of thing has hap pened before, and I've simply had to do something to pro tect m y self when I'm doing rigi1t." "You've told a pretty strong story," grinned Allison. "It remains to be found out how true it is. Payson, I shall need an explapation later about thE!se race-track tickets. Rondick, if I ever find that you're drinking in business hours, I shan't need you. Dorman, this lool5s like your signature. I want to think it over. You can go, you three ." Dorman, sullen, and the two clerks, white and bem bling, left the private office of. the employet. "I hope you'll believe me, sir, when I say that I hated to accuse others in order to clear myself," began Bob. "Oh, you needn't feel that you've exactly cleared your self leered Mr. Allison, a broad and thick-set, black bearded man of fifty. Being rich, it never occurred to lum that he needed to be careful about his clothing and appearance. Allison was, in fact, what he looked to be-a coarse brute.


THE BOY WHO BALKED. 3 "Oh, if you don't think I've cleared myself," flared shipping yard, there was a general rush to the windows Bob, his face growing red. that commanded a view. "No, I won't say that you have," grinned the boss. But Payson and Rondick did not join in the rush. To-"But I will be willing to bet that you've made some very gether they made for Allison'.s office. interesting enemies." The biggest thing on view in that shipping yard was "Let them be enemies, then!" flashed the boy, disdainCluck Dorman, loudly running down the book boy. fully. "Here he is now," whispered some one in the little "That's all. You can get out, Brisbane. And you crowd that had gathered around the head porter. needn t feel that you're any less under suspicion than the "Where?" bellowed Dorman, wheeling about. others. Close the door from the other side." He espied Bob, just coming through the doorway. Bob stepped from the private office into the long corri"There you are, you little brat!" bellowed Dorman. dor that ran to the big counting-room up on the second "Make good!" cried some one. floor of this great building on High street, Boston. bet I will!" asserted the head porter, swinging Through the corridor he stepped into the big counting his fists as he ran forward. "Brisbane, you little--" room where more than forty clerks were at work. Then Bob sailed in for all lie was worth. Bob could hardly help smilingwhen, at a little distance, He ducked, caught Cluck by the knees? and sent that he Payson an"! Rondick, standing apart by themselves. big bully smashing to the paved floor of the yard. They were talking in whispers, but started and stopped ":Brisbane, how you?" roared Allison, coming when they saw Bob coming unco:p.cernedly toward them. through the doorway. Then Payson wheeled, darting forward to meet our In the next breath the boss added: hero. "You're through here Git-and stay!" "What did you tell that sort of a string to the boss But Bob, never heeding bis employer, stood glaring at for?" demanded Payson in a low tone, yet one that thrillthe cloomed form of the .head porter. ed with bate. In that one fall Cluck Dorman had had quite enough. "Because it was the truth-and you know it better There was a big lump on the back of his head, and one than anyone else," Brisba:p.e flared back. of his shoulder blades was badly hurt, though not broken. "You little liar! You thief! You--" "Got enough, Cluck?" Brisbane demanded, quietly. That was as far as Payson got. "Oh, I'll fix you, later," half-sobbed the big fellow. Biff All Bob's pent-up temper was let loose in the "Any old time will do," Bob answered, quietly. blow that he struck straight from the shoulder. "Brisbane," demanded Allison, "did you hear what I It landed just right, too, on Payson's left eye. said?" "Oh, you lying little thief!" groaned the shipping clerk, "Something about going, wasn't it?" asked the boy, leaping to his feet with an eye, that was fast closing. turning with a cool smile . '' Crack! Bob lam1ed again, on the fellow's nose this "And gding quick, and staying away," fumed the emtime, and the blood flowed from that organ as Payson, too player. "I don't want anybody like you around here an.v wise to rise again, lay on the :floor. longer." "You tattle-tale!" quivered Rondick. "You sneaking "Oh, you'll see things different in a few hours," Bob spy! You--" asse rted, positively. He ought to have known better, but he didn't. "Git! There's gate!" Bob's fist landed on his neck, sending Rondick to hi s "You'll let me get my hat and coat, won't you?" knees. Young had become a human tornado by "If you get them quickly enough," glared Allison. this time. He rained in '.four or five blows on Rondick, "9h, thank you, sir," and Bob, with another smile, and Ulltil that worthy cried quits. making a rather pronounced bow, sidled past the boss. Of course, the other clerks had rushed up, forming a There was something in the boy's eyes, though, that Jipg around the lively ones, but equally of course no one made Alli s on draw back in h&lf-alarm. e.ttempted to spoil the sport of seeing a boy trounce two Upstairs, our hero stepped lightly, quickly through the to where his hat and coat hung. "Ypu go out and see Dorman," raged Payson, sopping "Good boy!" came severa l approving murmurs. a hp.ndkercbief against bis bleeding nose. "You won't "You did it up brown-a great, good job!" hd the shipping yard 11. very sa1e place now. Dorman Payson and Rondick were at a sink, washing away the 8Js it in for you, and he'll make you holler small in two signs of their. late encounter. seconds I" They did not turn. Brisbane gave them only one smil"Will he?" gritted Bob. "We'll see!" ing look as he reached for his belongings. Bis head and his blood was up, now that the time had Then he wheeled toward the other clerks. 4l(>me to make a big kick all around, our hero pressing his "Fellows, I'm through here, so I hear," the boy any through.the crowd. lnounced. "Good-by and thanks to all who have been good Among the clerks, as the boy ran down the stairs to the to me, or who wanted to be."


4 THE BOY WHO BALKED. Just a little bit of a cheer got started, but the door "No-o-o, I think not," replied the woman, faintly opened and Frederick Allison strode into the room. The "Just tired, I fancy. But thank you for coming to m cheer died. aid. I'm stronger now." But Bob, with his head still mighty high, walked swift"Haven't I seen you in Allison's office?" Bob inquired. ly to the door that opened on the stairs leading to the "Very likely. I am Mrs. Bostwick." street. "Why, the firm used to be Allison & Bostwick, I've He was satisfied with himsel as he reached the street .. heard. Are you the former partner's wife, if I am not But a walk of a few blocks took most of the satisfaction rude in asking?" away from, him. "I'm Roger Bostwick's widow," the woman replied, "Blazes! What'll think?" he quivered, a great wearily. "Mr. Bostwick was Allison's partner, although lump rising in his throat. "That seven dollars a week Mr. Allison says not!" she added. came in mighty handy to her. She can't spare a cent of "Says Bostwick wasn't his partner?" queried Bob, curiit, either. Now, if I start in a new place, I can't hope to ously . get over four dollars a week. Oh, dear, it seems so fine "Yes; that is, Mr. Allison claims that the partnership to be cock of the walk, and to do all the crowing. That was dissolved long before it was. He's a hard man. Right lasts for just about five minute s Then a fellow sobers fully, there is a good deal of money coming to me. But I down. I don't care, for myself, but what will mother ever can't find the papers of that partnership, and so I can't do?" get a lawyer to take up the case for me." Right in the midst of the crowd Bob Brisbane stopped, "It's a shame-a rank shame! That's the kind of a leaning against the wall of cine of the high buildings up man Allison is, too!" on Tremont street. "I-I don't know why I've told you so much," cried the "Whew! But this is going to be tough, if I don't get woman, starting suddenly, as if she had just waked up another job that pays as well!" out of a trance. The tears were in his eyes now, as he thought of that "It's all right, ma'am. You're quite safe in telling worn, white-faced, suffering, patient little mother. me," Bob made haste to assure her. He was her sole support, except for the few dollars that "Do you mind helping me to my car? It passes the she was now and then well enough to earn by trimming corner." hats for her neighbors. "And you'll be all right, then?" questioned our hero, "We've been poor enough all along," choked the boy. anxiously. "Now, we'll be like church mice. Oh, dear! Not that "Quite all right, thank you, if I once get aboard my I'm sorry about the big kick. That was coming to me, car." and I had to make it, or I couldn't have held the job, any-Bob gladly escorted her to the car, then came back to way But why did Allison have to ,get mad because I resume his wait for Allison. defended myself? I wonder if I couldn't square this with The street was not quite so crowded with passers-by him? Can't I appeal to his sense of justice? He must now as it had been. have one-sometimes! I've heard that he isn't so bad a The business crowd was ne8.!1Y all of the street, and it man when he leaves his office. Ginger! Shall I try?" was still too early for the throngs of working people to H Bob's mind was in any doubt, then his feet were come out of these great buildings. settling the question for him. "'I'here's the boss," clicked the boy, suddenly. For he found himself walking back toward High street. Paling a bit, he started forward. The old man ought to be feeling good by the time that "Mr. Allison," appealed the boy, stepping up close to l ie leaves his office," murmured the boy. "He goes about the man, who was walking rapidly. five, and it'll soon be tha t. Oh, dear! I've got to do ?" demanded the boss, wheeling, then stopping. s omething to keep that seven per!" 1 "So it's you, you young ruffian?" Bob' s walk ended on High street, a bit above the Alli"That's rather a hard name, isn't it, sir?" asked the building. The boy stepped into a doorway from which boy. h e could watch the door through his boss would "You seemed bent on trouncing my whole come out. ment this afternoon." The first person whom he saw come out was a faded "I had to make a kick, sir, to save myself. And I struck little woman of middle age, dressed in dingy black. only the enemies I made by the kick." Yet there was a look of distinction about her, despite "I don't want you, anyway," sniffed Allison. "Your her shabby-genteel appearance. pay'll be ready for you Saturday." As she came nearer, Bob saw tears in her eyes. "Mr. Allison," urged Bob, eagerly, yet a bit stiffi.y, Then, suddenly, she reeled. "you don't realize what that little seven dollars means to Like a flash, the boy was across the street. He caught me. I don't say a word for myself. But my mother--" her, supporting her. "You mother!" sneered Allison. "Ill, madam?" he asked. Bob went suddenly white, but he went on:


THE BOY WHO BALKED "Yes; my mother has only me as her support. She--" "I'd like to see your mother!" taunted Allison. "The mother of such a boy as you--" "Stop!" "I can picture her!" jeered the man. "Just suc.u com mon--" That was as far as he got. Right then and there, at that very second, Frederick Allison was in line for a trouncing of his own. CHAPTER II. A BARGAIN IN GRUDGE. "Officer, I saw the ;y_hole affair-heard what was said, too," continued the tall man. "The boy is not at fault." "Keep out of this, can't you, Holcomb?" growled Fred. Bob started. Holcomb was the name of Allison's keen est rival in the leather trade. This must be the man him &elf. Holcomb; without favoring Allison with a look, re sumed: "Officer, the man insulted the boy's mother. That is, he reviled the mother's good name. Either you or I, otfi cer, would pound the head off the fellow who said as much about our mothers. The boy's not to blame." "Arrest that young wretch!" raged Allison, pressing forward and glaring at his business rival. "I heard the whole thing, too," spoke up a quiet man in And be got it. the crowd. "I back up the other witness. The boy was Bob's right hand registered a "kick" on bis former not to blame. He'd been a cur if he hadn't struck boss's jaw. out." Another blow caught the man on the end or his rather "Do you press the charge?" demanded the officer, favorprominent nose just as he was going down. ing Allison with a not very respectful look. With a roar of mingled anger and pain, Allison tried to "If he does," muttered Holcomb, "I'll bail the young rise to his feet, while a crowd ran to the scene from all ster out and send my own lawyer to court to defend him." quarters. "Do you press the charge?" insisted the officer, speak Crack A blow on the tip of the chin sent Allison back ing rather roughly this time. to a seat on the pavement. "No-o-o," denied Allison, feebly but angrily and sul"Stay there until you can be decent!" quivered Brislenly. bane, holding himself ready to send in more "kicks." "You're not my prisoner, then," nudged the officer, But a man behind our hero in the crowd jerked the boy releasing his hold on Brisbane's collar. "And my own back, pinning bis arms.' notion, kid, is that you're just the right kind of tick .et!" Bob struggled,. but the man was too big for him. Followed by jeers and hisses, Allison slunk rapidly "Let me go," urged the boy. away. "For more fighting? Oh, no!" Some of the crowd remained to thank Bob, after our "Here comes the rascal," panted Bob, as Allison, once hero had thanked the officer. more on his feet, came forward with a wicked gleam in Holcomb stepped back out of the way, standing close his eyes. to the wall of the nearest building until the con" Are you trying to hold me so that blackguard can gratulating crowd had dispersed. pound me?" panted the enraged youngster, fighting to Then he called: free himself. "Bo,y, come here!" Allison's mean purpose was too plain. Bob's captor let "Well, Mr. Holcomb?" Brisbane inquired, going over to him go. . the one who had saved him from trouble. "But, first o-f "Keep off, you blackguard!" warned Bob, falling into all, I want to thank you, sir." a position of readiness. "Thank me for nothing," retorted Mr. Holcomb, with Allison drew quickly back, the satisfied look vanishing. a smile. "I'm the 01\e who wants to thank you. I've "What's the row here?" demanded a policeman, pushwanted to thrash Allison many the time and oft, but he g his way through. "Who hit you, sir?" continued the never gave me an opening. Say, you did him up well, ecoat as he caught sight of Allison's damaged face. boy, and you gave me the huge pleasure of helping you in "That boy I That y01mg thug!" cried the man, pointa way. I assure you the pleasure is all mine. What's your a denouncing finger at our hero. name?" 'What did you do it for?" demanded the officer, resting "Robert Brisbane." don the boy's shoulder. "Brisbane, you've given me so much pleasure that I I under arrest?" demanded Bob, indignantly. want you to give me the further pleasure of taking you ;guess you are." along t9 dinner with me. Will you go? We can get a s time for me to butt in," announced a cold, firm famous dinner in a private room at the Parker House." a man of thirty-five, tall, fresh-faced and rosy; "I'm afraid I don't just look the part," protested Bob, ed in black and wearing a glossy silk hat, turning red. ;to the officer's side. "Oh, we can soon fix that. In fact, Brisbane; I want to


G THE BOY WHO BALKED. fix everything for the youngstl!r who helped to square me with that slimy rascal. Uome on, now; let me manage things for the next two or three hours. I'll get a iot of fun out of it, and you won't be wasting your time, either With a grc1t l eap at the heart, Bob .suddenly realized that Holcomb, heacl of a house in the same line of busi ness, might Le very much inclined to make up for the loss o:I' a job by the offer of another: "Thank you, and I'll take your advice, sir,'' Bob as sented. To himself he murmured : "'l,his is downright luck I It may prove a windfall!" Still chatting, and in high good humor, Holcomb took the boy up on Washington street. _., There, in the course of the next hour, such a change WU3 wrought in the looks of Bob Brisbane that he simply coi 1 ldn't re;J.lize his own refl.etftion in the mirror. He was togged out, from head to foot, in the best that this clothing store contained. More than that, with the old things, that were to go to B o b's little home out in Melrose, a supply of linen, underwear and nec\dies was added. Near the door of the store Mr. Holcomb stoppe d to buy a small, neat pocketbook. Into this he folded away a brand-new twenty-dollar bill. u Carfare," he smiled.,, tucking it into Bob's inner pocket "Now, for that dinner!" But in the lobby of the Parker House Brisbane thought of one t hing that had escaped the other. "I must send word to my mother," he pleaded. "I must telegraph her, or she'll be worried at my not coming home." "Good boy!" nodded Holcomb, pointing. "You can send a wire right oveJ.l there." So Bob wrote his mother's add ress on a yellow blank, and right below it these words; "Detained on important business." "I hope I can make that good," sighed the boy. Then he turned to follow his host to the elevator. Such a wonderful dinner as was served to them up stairs Bob had sometimes heard about, but had never sat down to. And before it had gone far his host bad brought out the whole story of the boy's troubles with Allison. "He's served me many a dirty trick," muttered Hol comb. "I wish I had lrad the fun of getting square with him as well as you did. I'd like to-well, as the boys say, 'just soak him !' "Somebody ought to," Brisba ne assented. Then, suddenly, he rememb ered that weak, faded little woman whom he had talked with a little while before. "Excuse me, Mr. Holcomb," broke in Bob, "but did you ever know anything about Mr. Bostwick, Allison's partner?" "About all I know is that there was some such party,'' replied Holcomb. "That was before I came into the busi ness in Boston. Why?" Brisbane described the meeting of the afternoon. "That's just like Allison's dirty tricks," commen the host. "I'm willing to gua.rantee that the worn story is straight. "It's. too bad she can't find a way to force Allison settle with her," Bob cried, warmly "It certainly is But don't you suppose, Brisbane, th something could be found out from past records?" "If the woman had the money to hire a lawyer, or som one," our hero rejoined. "But I'm certain that Mr Bostwick hasn't any money for that sort of thing. Now see here, Mr. Holcomb, nobody would like better than to find out all about this, and be the means of makin Allison settle with the woman. But I haven t the money for the expense of finding out." "I have,'' replied the host, musingly. "Jus t the point!" cried Bob. "I'd like to put in the services, if someone would put in the money. I feel sure I could find out something. Are you-are you-" "Am I willing to put up the cash?" smiled Holcomb. "Well, now, I don't know. What would it cost to make a start on the job-enough of a start to get a look at the chances on the case?" "Put me on it, at the start, anyway," proposed our hero, eagerly, "and I'll work for the same I've been getting-seven dollars a week." ''We'll call it ten," returned Mr. Holcomb, after a few minutes of thougM. "And I'll stand all reasonable ex pense, too. We can try it for a week or two, anyway, and see what you can find out. Yes; I'll risk the try, and the cash to fry, if you'll pledge your word to keep my name out of it." The dinner was over now. Holcomb was leaning back, smoking a cigar. He rang for a waiter and ordered a directory brought. Mrs. Bostwick lives on upper Shawmut avenue, right in a shabby genteel lodging house section,'' Holcomb re marked, writing down the addres s on a slip. of paper, which he handed to our hero. "It's early. Suppose you run up there now ang see what there is in the case. If you're not smart enough to get the woman to talking freely, then you're not smart enough to go any further on the case, anyway. Tell you what, Brisbane! Tele phone me at the Algonquin Club when you've got a report to make. And now I'm off, and glad to have run across you youngster. Keep track of me, and, if you do anything good, you'll not. be sorry. Oh, I forgot-expense money A few more banknotes came into sight, which the aston ished youngster nervously t-i+cked away in his new pocketbook. Five minutes later Brisbane found himself on a street car, whirling away up towards the Roxbury section of Boston. "Is this real life?" throbbed the boy. "Oh, say!" Yet he pinched himself, to make doubly sure that he was awake. "No_ dream he chuckled, gleefally. "And getting


THE BOY WHO BALKED. 1 paid or trying to run old Allison down! Yet I never had Now, with all the eloquence at his command, Bob Brisa grudge against him until he started in to say lying bane launched into his object. things about my mother. And he never even saw that He told the astonished woman, that there was money sweet old soul." waiting to be used in the defence of her rights, if only Bob's face darkened as he remembered that encounter she could furnish the clues that would make it possible to in High street. est!lblish those rights. Frederick Allison would have s lept much worse that It was plain that she doubted; natural that she should night had he had any inkling of how savage an enemy be suspicious ovet any sucb amazing offer. he had made. But our hero stuck splendidly to his guns. "Qh, wouldn't I like to do the job up brown?" quivered "Now, Mrs. Bostwick," he urged, "I can't tell you who the youngster. "Allison worships money, too. It'll be has employed me on this wonderful, glorious, splendid grand if Mrs. Bostwick can only be helped to make him work. But I can tell you what you can do to reasst re band out a hundred thousand or two!" yourself. Corne out to Melrose with me to-morrow, and But these were only dreams-visions! Bob's face darkthere, among the people who've always known me, you can cned as soon as he realized the fact. find out whether I'm reckoned as straight or crooked." "lf there's any possible way he gritted clenchincr his. But his own glowing, ardent face, and the look of entire hands. ' 0 1 honesty that gleamed in his eyes, had their effect on the In course of time he found himself at the address given I woBrnan

8 THE BOY WHO BALKED. "You don't know the business exactly, mother, and so you can't judge whether I've done exactly well." "You've told me that Mr. Allison used you very shame fully, and discharged you, and that someone else, who has interests against Mr. Allison's, has employed you on some confidential work." "That's it, mother," Bob nodded. "It's honest work, of course, and so I don't need to worry or feel afraid of having to be ashamed," pursued Mrs. Brisbane. "No, mother; you'll never have to feel ashamed of what I've done so far. In fact, I hope you'll be rather proud later on." From which it will be seen that our hero was a good enough business man to keep his own counsel in whatever he undertook for others. To-day Bob was at home for the simple reason that his wock for Holcomb had come to a standstill. l.t would be another day or two before his employer's lawyer could advise as to the next step to be taken. Briefly, the case, as far as it had developed, was this: Roger Bostwick had been dead ten years. Twenty years before he had been a junior partner of Allison's. By degrees, Bostwick had made himself more and more valuable. At the time of his death Roger Bostwick owned a one third interest in the business of the great leather house. But, after his death, the only partnership paper that could be found was the old, original partnership paper that called for but a tenth interest in tile business. "That yo1mg man has it," replied the clerk in the county office. Bob had turned around, with a start, to find Frederick Allison staring at him. But Allison's own start was the greater. Brisbane's ex-boss hurriedly left the room. But he made inquiries and learned that Bob had been looking up the record to that very deed And now our hero, having turned the copy of the deed over to Holcomb's lawyer, was taking a day off at home to await further orders. It was the meeting with Allison in the record office that particularly pleased the boy. "It'll get Al. lison un_ easy at once," was the way Hodg s on, Holcomb s lawyer, had put it. "If Allison thinks we are getting on his trail he'll get nervous and be in a better frame of mind for settling." So, since the lawyer was pleased, Bob was pleased, too. "If we can only get the thing through," sighed the boy. "If I do really help, Holcomb will be sure to give me some sort of good position in his office. He isn't the kind of fellow to forget those who please him. And Clara will be so grateful, too." For Clara had met our hero twice since that first meet ing at the front door. On neither occasion had she talked long with the boy. But she knew the nature of his business, and her inter est in Bob Brisbane's success was naturally enormous. "I'd like to know what that coarse brute, Allison, is thinking about to-day," chuckled our hero. Right after the death of Bostwick a fire, set or caused to be set, undoubtedly by Allison, had destroyed all of the firm's books that had any bearing on the matter. He was sitting by the front door of the little five-room cottage, ot in the suburbs of Melrose. The cottage was a one-story affair, with a tiny attic. Less than half an acre of ground lay around the house a a a part of the place. And so the widow had been forced into taking a price that represented a tenth of the firm's assets. Roger Bostwick had always lived well. Hence the money grudgingly paid to the widow by Frederick Allison had l}Ufficed only to pay Bostwick s debts and to leave a small margin that had been invested by the widow in a lodging-house. Mrs. Bostwick, knowing well enough, though unable to prove, her husband's larger interest in the firm, had often tried to induce Allison to do her justice. But now Holcomb 's lawyer was behind the case, with Bob doing most of the investigating. An important part of the case hinged around the record of a sale of real estate by the firm some twelve years before. Thif\ record of the deed would help to clear the briers that stood in the path of Mrs. Bostwick 's investigators. And Bob, only the day before, had found the record of t.hat deed in the county records. He had been copying it, in fact, when Allison had ar rived there. .Allison inquired for the volume. Mrs. Bri s bnne had gone out into the yard to potter away ai her little flower-beds. Bob followed to watch, and, if wanted, to help. "Is that messenger boy coming here?" asked Mrs. Bri s bane, rising t'o look. "I hope it's not bad news." "More likely a telegram from Hodgson," mused Bob to himself, going down to the gate to meet the boy. The telegram was for himself. Our hero gave a start he read the signature of Allison. This was the text of _.the message : "Need you at Ot\r office. once." "Oho!" throbbed the boy. Past forgotten. "Any answer?" queried the messenger boy. "No." C01e at Then, after showing the telegram to his mother with out comment, the you ngster sat down again to think it over. "Allison is getting afraid. He wants me where he ca make it worth my while to keep my mouth shut after


THE BOY WHO BALKED. 9 told him a f0w things What answer shall I send? Or shall I send none? I do11't want to make any breaks!" For a half an hour Bob thought it over anxiously. Then he walked info town, where he sent this telegram to his former employer : "If you want to see me, you can find me here to night. May be away after that. If you are coming to-night, wire at once to that effect." "Why do you want me?" asked the b o y, curt l y "Well, er-er-we're short of the right kind o f cler ks. And you're a good one." "Come right to the point, M r Allison. You di d n't come here because you really ne e d me o n y our office force. Come right to the point, and out wit h t h e truth, I or I shall be yawning agam "Brisbane, what are you doing these days. ?" "Why, that's my business, Mr. Allison And, i f there's anything you want to know it'll be best to come right to Then he turned home This Bob sent off. "collect." the point and not waste any time fishing. U n dersta n d ?" ward, chuckling. Bob was getting huge satisfaction out of t or menti ng Nor had he been at home a great while when the mesthis former boss. senger reappeared. He brought a message from Allison, For a few moments Allison chewed at the end o f hi s which read: cigar. Then, of a sudden, he dema n ded, almo s t i n a "Shall see you to-night "Good enough," chuckled the boy. "Oh, won't it be fun seeing what that old brute's game is." But to his mother Brisbane explained: "You'd better call somewhere to-night, mother. Alli son is a foul-mouthed brute sometimes. I don't want you to hear his language." So by seven o'clock in the evening Mrs. Brisbane was :>.way. Bob held forth alone. Daylight faded, dark coming on. Still no sign of Alli son. "He's gotten cagey, after all," murmured Bob, disap pointedly. "Oh, I did want the fun of laughing at him." As he sat there, out in th, e dark front yard, it struck the boy bow lonely the spot was_. There were no houses close by and few passersby along this road. "Mother'll be out until ten. That leaves a fellow lonesome," yawned Bob. But his jaws closed with a snap suddc;mly. Down the road heavy footsteps sounded. Could this be Frederick Allison? Bob li ste ned. Then he made out the broad figure of a man approaching the gate. "Doe<; Robert Brisbane live here?" demanded a familiar voice. "He does. Walk in, Mr. Allison." The gate was sw.ung open. Allison, dressed with a little more care than usual, came up the path, swinging a rather heavy cane. "Howdy, Brisbane," nodded the merchant. "Howdy," Bob returned, drily, and, rising, pushed for ward a chair on the grass "It's cooler out here, Mr. Allison," suggested the boy. "Company in the house?" asked the merchant, glanc ing at the light through the windows. "Not a soul," Bob replied, with pretended listlessness. "Even my mother had an appointment out for to night." whisper: "Brisbane, are you working any game aga i n st -well against my interests in any way?" "I told you before that I declined to disc uss m y b us i ness in any way. Tell me just what you want, a nd I'll tell you whether I'll answer." "Brisbane, will you come back into my office and w or k for my interests in every way, if I pay y ou twent_y dollars a week?" "No," Bob retorted, simply. "For twenty-five, then?" "No." Allison rol:le to his feet, wheeled and g l ared at t he boy "You've answered me-all I need to know!" the mer-chant grated, harshly. "You're working ag a inst me, an d getting well paid for it. Else you'd jump at an offer of three times what you're worth." "Well?'; demanded Bob, mockingly. He, t oo, had rise n. "You take a lot of delight out of torme nting me d o n t you ?" glared Allison. "I do," Bob retorted coolly. "I get al l t he pl e a s u r e there i s in baiting a b l ackguard!" "Be careful!" warned Allison, lifting h i s cane threat eningly "Bosh!" snapped the boy. "I'm not afrai d Qf you He spoke with such evident truthfulness, with s u ch a sense of power, and with so much of mockery that A lli s o n 's conscience reeled. Maddened, the merchant did what he had n ot thought of doing before. Raising the cane like a fl.ash, Allison b r o u gh t it down on the boy's head. Down to the grass, like a clod, went our he ro, and di d not move. With a cry, half of rage and half of fear, All is on, dra w ing a short sword-blade out of the cane, bent o v er the boy. CHAPTER IV. h d h. t "OVER THE FENCE IS OUT Oi: LUC K "Brisbane," began the mere ant, roppmg is voice o a low confidential tone, as he dropped on to the chair, For a n instant Alliso n after b e n di n g over wit h the "can't you come back to my offire ?" 1 I bared blade of the sword cane rai s ed, recoil e d


10 'l'HE BOY. w Ho BALKED. "What have I been doing?" he asked of himself in swift alarm. "It would be fearful to be arrested for murder Yet I am sure he is trying to e xpos e and send me to prison a ruined man He.listened, but could hear no other humap. being near them. "I might do it safely, after all!" throbb e d the wretch. "No one could prove I had been here. I could show up at the railroad station, ask the way here, and hi r e someone to bring me out here. Then we could discover the crime, and I wouldn't be suspected." Crime! 'l'he word gave the brutish merchant a shiver for just an instant. It wasn t th e thought of crime its e H t11oug h, but the dread of punishment. "I can do it safely,'' he assured himsel.f. "One or two good thn;sts-then weight the c ane and sip k it in the riv e r The boy, finish ed, will be one foe out of my way! It'll b e a w a rning to the other s too! Again he lis tened for sounds of anyon e coming that way. All the while Bob lay without stirring. 1'I can do it-and I will do it!" quivered Allison, his mind made up for the fearful deed at last. "He is in the pay of an enemy of mine, and it is my busin e s s to get rid of my enemies." B e nding over once more, Allison, grippi n g the handle of the sword cane, looked for what might b e best spot into which to thrust the steel. \ "Gr,'o d eveni ng hailed a curious voice fro iif behind. With a gasp of terror the mer c hant w h e e l e d around, staring wildly toward the gate, from which diiil ction the v oice had seemed to come. Drawing in his breath .sharply, Allison bent forward to ge l a b e tter look out into the darkness. Flop! Crafty Bob Brisbane was upon his feet in a jiffy. Allison heard the sound of this movement. But, ere the merchant could turn or move, Bob had pounced upon -his enemy's right wrist, wrenching the sword cane from him. Bac k a couple of steps sprang Bob, laughing hugely. "Fooled you, did I?" taunted the boy. "Come on and take this away from me if you can!" "What are you talking about?" faltered the merchant. "Gness !" came the crisp retort. "What do you mean by drawing a w-e apon on me?" blu s tered Allison, growing suddenlv bold It was Bob's turn to gasp. "What?" he panted. "Drop that weapon, you young scoundrel!" "So you can pick it up?" mocked the boy at bay. "If you don't qrop that weapon I shall shout for help. Yon young assassin!" "Eh?" palpitated Bob. He dropped now. The merchant, thinking someone else was near, was trying to fasten the charge of assault upon his former clerk. 'rhen, just as suddenly, Bob began to chuckle. Allison stared at him. "What' s so funny, you young murderer?" he snarled. "You're talking for effect, so as to it look as if I had been threatening you," grinned Bob. "You big e:hump Didn't you ever hear of ventriloquism?" "Ven--" exploded Allisori, wonderingly. "Did you--. "I've had a lot of fun with the art," mocked Bob. "Look out what you hear when you' re around me. When you knocked me down I don't know whether you stunned me or not . But I opened one eye just in time to see you bending over, looking as if you meant to stick this steel skewer into me. So I jobbed you. Listen!" "Surrender, in the name of th e law!" The merchant s tarted, in s pite of hims e lf. Though he saw the boy's lips moving, the sound seemed to come from behind, down by the road. "You see how you got jobbed!" mocked Bob. "But we under s tand eac h other now, Allison. We can't do any real business together-you and I. So-just fade! Skiddoo !" "Eh? What?" "Twenty-three!" Allison still looked as if he didn't understand. "A taste of your own medicine!" mocked the boy. Swift as thought, he danced around his former em-ployer. Prod That sharp point of steel went in through the seat of Allison's trousers. "Ouch roared the startled one. "You "Skiddoo Beat it!" urged Bob, still dancing around his enemy. "Git-while you've got a chance!" Prod! Brisbane inflicted another jab. It must have sunk quite a little way into the flesh. Quivering, angered, yet afraid now, of the light that danced in the boy's eyes, Allisen suddenly turned and raced for the gate. But Bob headed him off, then veered. Prod For the third time that steel sank in at the back of the merchant s trousers, piercing the flesh just enough to be felt disagreeably. And now the was in full, frantic retreat . Down the yard raced the merchant, with Bob in full pursuit, but not taking too gr eat pains to win in the race. Gaining a bit, Allison braced both hands on the fence. Allison did hls best to vault the fence. He succeeded in getting over, though he landed in a heap on one on the sidewalk beyond. "Oh, I'll have more fun with you yet!" mocked the boy. Bob, too, rested his hands on the fence, ready to vault. But Allison, with a muffled yell, sprang np and took to his feet as if for dear life. Nor did Bob, once over the fence, try to pursue the man who had vanished into the darkness down the road. "I've had my fun," chuckled the boy. "It's no great use trying to rub it in. Hullo!" His eye fell on something white that lay on the side-


THE BOY WHO BALKED. 11 walk by the fence, close to the point where his former boss had toppled over. It was a long, businesslike-looking envelope Bob hac1 it in hi s hands in a twinkling The envelope contained some sort of papers "Own e r can have it by proving property and paying charge s," mocked the boy, s oftly, under his breath Leisurely enough he turned down toward the gate, mut tE'.rjng smilingly to himself : "Over the fence i s out-out of luck Oh, I hope old Allison dropped something that he ll miss!" In the yard Brisban e stopp e d long enough to pick up the discarded part of the sword-cane Fitting the two together h e enteted the house standing the sword cane in the corner. Then toward the light he went, scan n ing the enve l ope. Its surface w a s plain. "What's inside, anyway?" w.ondered the boy. He took out two paper s s pread them ou t and l o oked at them intently. Then he v e nted a half smothered laugh. "Allison didn t hesitate to have the s e with him, for he never look e d for what happened. But his trip was mighty well worth while--for me Paper s and just the kind we want r proving the Bos twick case against him l Oh, if this i s n t luck!" Bob Bri s bane fairly danced about the little room "Thank you, Mr. Allison-oh, thank you, indeed he chuckled. CHAPTER V THE SPIDER AND THE FLY. What the pap e rs were shall appear presently It suffices to s ay now that, though they were not enough to provt Mr s Bos twick s case against Frede rick Allison yet the s e s ame paper s which the merchant had never looked to drop in the way h e had don e wer e a big help in our hero's cas e Before goin g to bed that ni ght y oun g Brisbane took mighty good pain s to hid e both papers and sword-cane where no night prowler could have a chan c e to find them In the morning he reported his new find to Lawyer Hodgson over the telephone. "Good work," answered Lawyer Hodgson's voice over the 'phone. "Shall I bring the papers in to you?" "No. If Allison has any suspicion about us, he'll be having my offi9e watched to see who comes here. Put the papers away safely. Mail me copies of the papers, and then put the originals away where they can t b e lost or stolen." "And what shall I do next?" Bob inqui r ed. "Wait where you are until you get o r ders from me." came the lawyer's instructio n s "Shall I s e e Mrs. Bos twi ck?" Bob queried "By no means the lawyer replied "Her house may be watch e d too. W e don t want to give the en emy any real point s Our gam e i s to keep him guessing, without l etting him find out anything." "Shall I write Mrs Bos twick, then?" "Not b y a long shot! The l ett e r might fall into someone e l s e' s hands." "That's rea s onable enough," Bob muttered to him sr ]f. "But it's jus t a bit tou g h not to b e allowed n e ar Mn : Bos twi c k 's hou s e, whe n I 've particular rea s on s for want ing to go." "Jus t wait whe r e y ou ar e for ord e r s," came the lawyer 's final instruction s "It ought to b e ea s y enough to loaf on pay. 0 c ourse, i f an y thing turns up suddenly and une x pectedly you' ll have to use your best good sense, and let me know at onc e." "Of course." "That's all. Good-by." "Why, isn t it splendid to have a pos ition where you don t have to work all the time?" cried Mrs. Brisba ne when Bob, r e turning from the telephone offic8 in M e lrose, told hi s moth e r a part of hi s news. "Some t i mes," s miled the boy. "But just now, I'd a h e ap rather work." For the re s t of the day there seemed nothing left but to go fis hing It was a b it slow, but a rest isn t so bad after all. "The best o f it i s," r e flected the boy, as he sat on the shaded bank o f the stream and watched hi s float; "the best of it i s that, in the end, the re seems to b e a mi gh t y good chanc e n o w to beat old Alli s on out Mr s Bos twick has promised m e a good reward, if I w i n for her And i f I do Holcomb will b e s o mi g htily tic kl e d that he 'll give me the best h e c an in hi s office. Altogethe r, Bob Bri s b a n e old boy if you keep your head-and don't let it get swelled, e ith er-you' r e lik e ly starte d on your way to ownin g some o f th e good thi ngs of li fe With tha t t h o u ght, our h ero fis hed on more iazily and mor e contente dl y H e e v e n b ad the luck to land three fair-siz e d perch b e for e the a f t erno on s h a d o w s l e n gthe n e d out H e was abou t p r e p a rin g to s t art for home, when a voice from b e h i nd brok e in : "This: I think, must be young Bris bane Your moth e r s aid I'd find you h e re." Bob had qui c kly whe el e d 'a bout. He found himself looking a t a man of perhaps thirty-three years or s o of age Thi s stranger was but a little under six feet, lanky, a bit awkward-lookin g and with s andy hair and mu s tache. He looked as if he mi ght be .an avera g e clerk. "You seem to know my name :2ob observed, still eye ing the other. "Ought to," smiled the stranger. "I've had your de scription dinged into me." "What can I do for you?


12 THE BOY WHO BALKED. "Read this." It was a s h ort note, in a fine feminine hand, and read : "Trust the bearer, and do what he suggests. Do not come to the house before starting, as I fear the place is being watched. Do not try to communicate with me until you have put my business through with Mr. Nichols, who brings this, and who is an old and trusted friend. "HELEN BOSTWICK." Bob stared curiously at the lett e r, turning it over and at it again. "That's the writing of Clara's mother, all right," he mused. "I know, for I've seen some of her writing. But what on earth can this mean?" Nichols, in the meantime, had not spoken, but stood looking out over the water. "Well," asked Bob, at last, "what's the business?" "Can we talk safely here?" Nichols demanded, cau tiously, glancing all around him through the bushes." "'I don't beliave there's anyone within earshot." "Let's get out on the road. There we can talk and be sure that no one is listening." Bob noddea. He was keeping cool, as far as outward appearances went, but he was wondering with all his might what business Nichols could have with 11im. So far Clara's mother had not attempted to take any charge of her business, but had left it wholly to' the care of Bob, of Holman and of Hougson The two walked together util they came to the road. There, on a little bridge, after first glancing under the ,c:tructure, Nichols began to speak. "You'll think I'm mighty cautious," laughed the lanky man; "but, on business of this kind, it pays to be." Bob nodded. "Mrs. Bostwick," began the one, in a cautiou

.. \.. THE BOY WHO BALKED. 1 ,, J.o..I "That is, assuming tha't I really any. Nichols threw up his hands with a gesture of de s pair. "There you go again, B:risbane And after I've brought you a message that I thought would throw you wide open as it ought to." "I'm doing what I think best-just as you are." ''You'll go to New York with me, then?" per s evered Nichols. Bob reflected on this. It was too late in the day to g e t Hodgson over the telephone wire. He was debarred from going to see Mrs. Bos twick. Holcomb, who wanted onl y results, and who was not bothering with the detail s would not be likely to give any advice in the matter. "Yes; I'll go to New York with you," said Bob, at l ast, when he had thought it all over. "To-night? So that we can be there to morrow morning?" I "Yes. It may as well be to-night as any other time." "And the papers that you have--" "Assuming that I have any. "You' ll take the m on with you?" "I'll tell you just what I'll do," r e turned our h e r o fencing carefully. "If I have an y s uch p ape r s as you s uggest, then I'll agree that the y shall b e in New Yor k early to-morrow morning. It will b e non e of your concern as to just how the papers get there-assumin g that I hav e some." "You've promised! d e manded Nichols, a n x i o u s ly, plead i ngly. You will k eep your word?" I alwa y s kee p my word retorted our h e ro, blun t l y "And those p a pers will be o:n hand, to compare the m with tho s e that I show you?" "Yes; if I have any." "On your honor?" Bob looked offended. "I've already given you my word," he a n s wered, a bit stiffly. "Pardon me," urged Ni c hol s But thi s i s a matt e r of more importance to me than you can und e r s t and. Bu t you've giv e n your word, and I'll accept it." * * * * The midnight train took the y oung men from Bos ton. They alighted at the Grand Central Depot ear ly the next morning. All the w ay Nichols had proved himself to be a mos t agreeable traveling companion. Now, he proposed that they go to breakfa s t together, as it was much too early to go downtown to a lawyer' s office. 1 So the pair breakfa s ted in the restaurant of a hotel across the street. "There's no use in hustling," commented Nichols, as he lighted a cigar and lean e d bac k after the meal. "My learned friend of the law reaches his office at eight o'clock, but he always wants time to go over his mail before he can talk with anyone." I hope our errand is n t goin g to prove a fool-c hase," r e m a rked Bri s b a n e . Th a t d e p e nd s a l together o n you m y boy Y o u 're the o nl y f e llow w h o can m ake i t a w ild -goose c hase. " I ll do_ m y part," prom i sed our he r o L e t 's s top ta lkin g abou t i t, t he n," begged Ni c hol s Th e c onfound e d thin g i s getting o n my ne rves-I'm s o a n x iou s." Bu t at' last th e l a nk y one declared that i t w a s t im e for the s tart. 'rakin g the car d owntown t hey h a d a t the e nd o f th e ir ride a walk of less tha n hal f a block. H e r e we are,'1 a nn ounced Nichols at l ast a s h e s t op ped in fr o n t of o n e of foe tall sky-scrapers "We' ll g o up o n t h e e l evator But I hope, B risbane, that you haven' t _been foolin g me; that you can prod uce th e p a per s ." "Suc'h p a p e r s as I h ave," smil e d our h e ro, and t apping hi s br e a s t pock e t "ar e in h e r e." "Now, that's good eno u g h Th a t 's all right!" c ri e d Nichols, in a r e l ieved voice. They w ent up in the e l evator to o n e of the u ppe r floors Th e n N i c h o l s stopped before a door on whi c h was pa i nted the fir m n a m e of W r i g h t & Nor did Bob notice that the paint was very fres h. A b e ll rang as they passed in thro u gh the open d o orwa y Out cam e a dapperlooki ng young man, who eyed the vis itor s in this outer office. It was the ordinary outer office of a lawyer, the ki nd of a room that visitors wait in 'iis :Mr. Wright here?" asked Nichols I think so, sir," the clerk answered "Ask 1iim how soon he can see M r Nic bol s and a fri e nd. "Ver y good, s i r Take seats." The dap p er young man placed tw o chairs, the fir s t for Bob, an d the h ero seated himse lf. But Ni c h o l s r emai ned o n h is feet, goi ng over to one of the w indows to look o u t. As for the dappe r youn g man he disap peared. No t for a mome n t did our he r o have a n y misgi v ingsnot until a quick step soun ded from behind, and a stro n g pair of l anky a rms s u dde nl y around hi s neck from behi nd. Hi1g Nic hols was fai r l y c h oki n g the w ind eut o f the: boy, st r ang l i n g him u nti l our hero's br a in s wam. L ike a savage, Bob fou g h t to ge t o u t of hi s fix But, h e ld close t o t h e c h air, and fa s t los ing con scious n ess, h e was no m a t c h for his assai l ant . As in a d ream, h e saw the door opposite him open I Out d a r te d the da p per youn g m a n, hi s eye s gleaming with th e wic k e d work in h a n d "The Bob hear d Nic hol s v oice cry hoar s ely, thou gh the voice n o w sounded fa r a w a y "You'll find the m i n hi s in ner b reas t pocke t. Wr e n ch! The dappe r young m an's trembling hand was thrust in under Bob Bri s bane's coa.i.


14 THE BOY WHO BALKED. "Here are the papers-safe!" he cried, holding up a long envelope before the gloating eyes of the lanky one. CHAPTER VI. CHECKMATE. "Slip a gag in his mouth! I don't want to kill himnot now, anyway," whispered Nichols. Laying down the envelope, the dapper young man brought out from one of his pockets a wad of cloth. This was forced into the now unconscious boy' s mouth, and tied there. Next, with the swiftness of those long practised in the art, _Nichols and his accomplice bound Bob in ship-shape fashion. But Brisbane was not far gone. He came back to a knowledge of his surroundings just as they finished tying him. "Prop him in that arm-chair," ordered Nichols. Between them they lifted Brisbane to the arm-chair, taking a .turn of the rope around his body and making him fast to the chair. "And now for the papers!" cried Nichols, exultantl:y. Bob opened his eyes to take in the scene. With trembling fulgers, Nichols tore off the end of the envelope, brought out, and stared at-. A thick wad of plain paper on which not a line ha.d been written! With a gasp, the rascal turned the sheets over fast. But not a thing was there save blank paper. Quivering with rage, and his face a ghastly .greenish color, the lanky one wheeled upon Bob Brisbane. That youth, gagged as he was, was laughing heartily with his eyes. "So you tricked us, eh?" quavered the lanky one. "Oh, a dear trick it will prove for you W The dapper young man seemed wholly speechless with disappointment. He caught the wad of paper as it fluttered from Nich ols's hands, and stood looking at the usele s s stationery with an utterly hopeless look. "The reckoning will come for you all right!" uttered Nichols, savagely, shaking his fist befor e our hero's laugh ing eyes. "Oh, it was first-rate to play such a trick on me, but now the settling time has to come. Wait!" More than sixfy dollars that ttey found in his pockets they divided before his face. 'l'hey explored for a morley belt and for a hidden pouch, but their main search was a useless one. Bob had brought the papers with him, as he had promised-but in his head. And there they were thoroughly safe from discovery. "Shall we make him tell where the papers really are?" asked the dapper young man, doubtfully. "Huh! What's the use?" sneered the lanky one. "He'd send us on another chase, as big as this one was." He turned just in time to catch a :fleeting smile in Bob's eyes that confirmed that idea. "What shall we do with him, then?" asked the dapper one. "Teach him how to kiss himself good-by!" uttered Nichols, in a rage that was growing every minute. Bob began to quiver inwardly. He knew wha.t a desperate gang he was up against. "Kiss myself good-by?" he shivered. "Does that mean that they're going to put me out of the way for good?" The dapper man went past him and out of sight. Unable to turn, our hero could not see what that inter esting young man was doing Yet the answer came soon enough. Something white-a towel, folded, passed before the boy's face. Then foe air was full of a disgustingly sweet, stifling odor. "Chloroform!" throbbed the now terrified boy. "Then they do mean to kill me?" Back against his nostrils came the towel, its sweet, s tifling smell causing things to fade before his eyes. For just a brief instant Bob Brisbane tried to fight, bound as he was, for all there was in him. But chloroform won. The world faded, and he knew no more. * * * * Yet he did not die. When Bob first realized anything again, there was plenty of air about him, and of the sweetest kind. There was a swaying and a rocking-something sooth ing about the motion, whatever it was. Moreover, there was a straining and a creaking sounda medley of them. And the hurried passing of hea vily-shod feet "Haul in that fore-sheet! Lively now l Make fast I Aloft, you, and shake out the topsail!" Then Bob began to know where he was. "Search him all over," hinted the dapper young man, coming at last out of his daze. The air, too, was waking up his senses. He op ened his eyes, and knew the kind of life int4 "What for?" glowered Nichols. "For the papers." "Humph l This youngster is too slick to ii.ave anything of the sort about him." "Search, just the same." This they did, even to taking .off the boy's shoes. which he had dropped. He was -on a big, four-masted schooner, seated on neck, nearly amidships, with his back to the bulwarks. Out on the dark ocean-somewhere! The crew whom a few were visible, were rushing about, payi heed to this boy.


THE BOY WHO BALKED 15 How the deuce-" gasped Bob, but stopped "Oho, we will, will we?" chuckled the red-faced capIt was all too much for his still somewhat tangled mind. tain. "Lubber, you don't seem to understand that you re R e remembered that supposed law office. on a craft bound for Valparaiso He r e membered Nichols and the dapper one, too-and "Valparai so? uttered young Brisbane, chi lled wit h the chl oroform. the horror o.E the thing. "But I tell you, captai n I've So this wai:; the way in w h ich they had disposed of him? simply got to be put ashore." "Whew Bob tried to get upon his feet, clutching at the rail. Tho u gh there was a swell on the water, it was not r o u gh, but billowy So, at last, the boy got upon hjs feet. He stood looking about him; in a still half-dazed way. Now here, on either side, could he make out a light of a ny kind away from the vessel-nothing but the stan; overh{lad. "Hey, there, you lubber!" called out a gruff voice from further astern. "Coming out of your grog, are you? Hustle forward, and the mate'll put yoU: to work." But Bob, making out that the speaker was stand ing on the cabin-top, started astern, instead, clutching at the rail as he went "Forward, I told you, you lubber I" roared the grufi voice "But I want--" "For ward "Ho, ho!" je e red the skipper. "Lubber, the first land \re touch at will be Bu enos Ayres, some weeks from now, and you won't get ashore, either. Now, forward wit h you!" The skipper's hand gripped the boy's shoulder so firm ly, painfully, that our hero began to understand that he must obey orders, for the present, an yway. "Captain, give me a little time," he pleaded "My head is so dizzy that I can't stand up s traight without holding on to something." "Can't, eh?" l eere d the s kipp e r, grinning a t h i m w i c kedly. "Then walk about a few minutes and get y our l egs on. But when I s p eak again, you jump! Do you hear me?" "Yes, sir." "That's more like it, lubb er," nodded the capta in. He turned on his he e l, going back to the quarter-deck. "Walk, I t o ld you!" he roared, turning and gla r ing at the boy "You can't stea d y your head by standi n g still. "I've got to-" walk ,, "Forward!" "Not until you've explained this all to me," cried Bris-Bob began walking feebly back and forth, c lu tc hing at bane, de s perately. "How do I come to be out 11ere at th; . sea? What does it all mean?" rruch to tell, his strengt h was commg back to h i m fas"Forward, I tell you! I'll lay my fis t against you in a .ter than he would ca r e to have know,n. second, if you don t start." But he wanted time to think. The speaker, a big, broad s houldered man of middle "What on ear th can this possibly mean?" he demande d age, wit-h face of the r eddest and clothes of the bluest, had gasping ly, of himself. "Bound for Valparaiso? Why, now leaped down from the roof of the cabin. that's in Chi li, am1 maybe a s ix months' voyage from He came forward, as if meaning to thrash the boy until hera-all th e way around Cape Horn! Six months Why, he could not stand up. Allison can do ever ythi ng in that time. Allison? Yes, "What does my being he,re mean?" Bob quivered, withthat's His infernal trick! I'm out of the way now. out fl.inching Six months? Why, m other'l l either staJ.'ve or g o Jo t he ''You're shipped aboard here-that's all," roared the poorhouse in that time!" big man The dizziness was getti n g into the boy's head ag ain, but "Are you the captain?" from a diff e rent cause this time. "You'll find out I am if you don't run w1ien you get an Tricked? had been so utterly fooled that his whole order. Forward!" life must be spoiled for him now. "I won't! I won' t b udge!" retorted Brisbane, "I can't seem to believe it," he moaned, and pi n c hed him self . l y . "You can throw me overboard, if you want but you can't make me do a thing until you've explained how I But he was wide awake-he very soon made wholl y sure came to be here of that-and h e was out on the wide, trackless Atlant ic Bob stood now with his back to the rail, but with his Ocean, with not another li ght anywl1ere in sight. bands out at either side supporting him. H e felt actually sick with the dread and horror of the "You're the queerest lubber I've ever shipped," roared whole thing by the time that he stop ped his walk som e the skipper, looking hard at the boy. where near the forecast l e "You didn't ship me," Bob sent back. A sailor-a youn g fellow-jumping to make a rope fast, "Well, your friends did, and you were drunk at the pauseu within two feet of him. time." "Listen, kid!" whispered the sailor. "Listen ha rd!" "You'll h ave to p u t me ash o re, I guess," quavered the "I can hear you, murmured Bob, a ll bu t under his boy. 1 breath


14 THE BOY' WHO HA.LKBD. .. "Don't turn-don't let anyo ne think I'm talliing to you." "What do you want to say? I can hear." "Watch out for your life on this craft." "What's that?" "Ju st what I'm telling you. I diqn't know what kind of a craft this was, ot I wouldn't have ship ped," went on the young sailor, fearfu ll y But I was close to the cabin a while ago, and I heard the o ld man and the mate talk ing. Say, you won't for the life of you let anyone know what I'm goi. ng to tell you?" "I won't," Bob promised wonderingly, f ea rfully. "Hope you drop dead if you mention me in the mat ter?" "I won't betray what you tell me." "Well, then, I heard the o ld man whisper to the mate that you are to be lost overboard a t t h e first chance for the job!" CHAPTER VII. ASTRAY O N THE DEEP. "Keep a-walking, lubber!" came the roaring, brutal voice of that skipper. 1 "I've got to make a show of obeying," quivered the boy. Turning, he started aft, still holding at the rail. He tried to di s miss from his face the scared look that he knew must be there. After a little Bob, still walking weakly, got past the waist of the craft. "How you feeling, lubber?" demanded the skipper, eye-: ing the boy. "Weak, sir." "No good for work yet?" ''I don't feel as i I'd ever be, sir." "Maybe you won't," nodded the skipper, with a grin that struck a chill to the boy's heart. "May I keep on walking, sir?" "All right. Go ahead-but be careful you don't fall overboard." Agai n the wicked chuckle, and Bob knew that his face was going white. Yet, continuing in the direction that he was going, Brisbane soon stepped up on the quarter-deck. H e did not know enough of sea-going matters to know that he had no right there without orders. Bob Bri sbane fair l y reeled. But the captain only eyed the boy out 0 the corner of "Steady!" warned the sai l or, in a whispe:r:. "Don't give one eye. a sign of having heard anything !" So Bob kept on until he came to the stern rail. "But will thflJ' do such a fearful thing?" breathed Bob, Th e r e he stood, leaning over but with one eye covertly frantically. upon the captain. Now, of a s udden, Bob Brisbane 's heart gave a great "On this wicked old craft? S ur e thing they will. Now, jump. 1 I'm going to skip before they catch me here. But watch Fifty feet behind the schooner, gliding and bobbing, out!" towed a s mall boat. The sailor trod briskly away. "If I could only reach that and eut loose!" he thrilled. "So this is what Nichols and that other fellow meant?" If he only could! quavered dazed Brisbane. "This is the way I'm to leave But there, within ten feet of him, was the helmsman at lif e behind-out here on the great ocean, where dead men the wheel. tell no tales!" And there, too, on the quarter-deck was the beastly He began to feel very certain that the young sailor had captain himself. told the truth. "No show for that trick," Bob muttered gloomily. Such an ending for him was wholl y in line with all that Yet he was fas cinated with looking at the boat. Nichols had done. It bobbed and tugged so close to him. "That note," wondered Bob, trying gropi n g l y to under"If I c ould only have two full minutes to myself," he stand it all. "Oh, of course, the e nemy had some of Mrs. all sobbed "Like enough, I'd drown myself, but I'd B ostwick's writing. The note was forged, and I was big sooner do that than have someone else do it for me." ellough fool to bite at the trick !" But where was the use of talking about it? That brutal But th e present moment! All that count ed now was to skipper was watching him. find some way to safety on this lonely vessel out on the "Keep a-walking, lubber!" great sea. Bob s tarted to walk across the stern. "Whatever happens, I won't let them get me in that Then suddenly the skipper moved forward, stepped fashion!" blazed the boy, his eyes flashing. "I may be down off the quarter-deck and hastened forward. kept o u t of the United States for so long that no one will "Now!" gasped Bob. "Now! It'll be the only chanc-e!" know me when I go back. But I won't let myself be murNor did h e dare to hesitate a second. The helmsman, <1ered-kicked overboard-without a kick back at some-with his gaze on the binnacle light, and stooring careone. I've kicked before to good purpose, and I reckon l fully, was not likely to see. haven't forgotten how to make the kind of kick that's Over the stern Brisbane bent. He climbed over, clutchfelt." ing at the line by which the small boat was towing.


'rHE BOY WHO BALKED. li He grasped at that line; and swiftly lowered himself, hand under hand. Splash! He was in the cold water almost at once, and it did wonders in reviving his lessened strength. As he touched the water, he began to sink with the slack rope. It was not as difficult as it had looked. Spurred on by desperation, our hero found himself clutching at the friendly thwarts of the boat . By a desperate pull he drew himself aboard. Like a fl.ash he cut loose. There were oars in the boat. He seized thrust them between the tholepins, dropped to the seat-and rowed for dear life. Onward surged the schooner, going before a fair wind. In a twinkling Bob had the smalle r craft around, pulling like an athlete in his mad to get past the possi bility of chase. Still the great craft looked tantalizingly near. Bob pulled as he had pulled before-pulled until he came to a forced, panting halt at the oars. And now that he had parted from the schooner, what next? "I've no way of knowing how many hours we're out from port-or where land lies either, for that matter. Gracious I What a lone some old place the ocean is, anyway-not another light in sight, except on that old pirate of a schooner." While getting back his breath Brisbane rested on the oars, only dipping one in now and then in order to keep the boat from lying in the trough of the billowy sea. But now his heart gave another great jump. A yell from the schooner I And then, all in an instant, he saw the craft slowly turn around. "A lot of good I did!" shuddered the boy. "They're coming back after me!" He did not try to row now, but sat there in grim de spair almost idle at the oars. Like one fascinated, he gazed at the great, searching craft manned by men who were seeking him out on the ocean. Shivering, growing faint and sick, he dicl not realize I how tiny a speck his little craft was on the ocean on that intensely dark night. Nor can a vessel, veering and tacking sail straight over the course along which it has come. So it was that the schooner went past him several hun dred fathoms away, and without anyone aboard catching sight of him. Then, after a seemingly unending space of time, the schooner once more turned and resumed its old course. "They've given it up," quivered Bob. "Glory! Now I'm to be left to my fate-and any old fate is better than being aboard that infernal old tub I" After a bit he resumed his rowing. Then, having little or no idea ior where he was heading, he gave it up and drifted, merely keeping the boat's head straight. ''We're not a million miles from New York, you and I," muttered the boy, looking at the boat. "Surely there must be vessels passing now and tJ.1en. If nothing comes near enough to-night to see me, there'll surely be a C'hance for safety when the daylight comes. That is, if a big storm doesn't come up." Bob scanned the sky anxiously. But he was not seaman enough to know what the chances of good or bad weather were. It was twenty minutes before he found something new to take up his thoughts. Something away down there on the water-to the south ward, he fancied-was fl.ashing along. Then it shifted and disappeared, only to come back in his direction every now and then. "Oh, hurrah!" Brisbane fairly cheered at last. "I kno1r what it is-a searchlight! Some craft headed this way. Merciful heaven! I hope it don't pass too far to one side of me." It came nearer and nearer, and at last Bob had the joy oi seeing the long, darting ray re s t s quarely across him and the boat. "It's coming this way, too, if it don't change its course," he throbbed, standing up now and trying hard to keep his balance. Whip! Off came his coat As he saw the shifting light heading his way once more he waved the garment like mad. The light picked him up once, then But Bob was ready until it turned his way again. Once more the light fell on him, and bigger and more glowing that ever Again Brisbane waved. "Glory! They're seeing me!" he thrilled, waving so frantically that he caused the little craft to lurch and wobble. But he caught himself and stood up, blinking in the strong electric glare. It remained turned his way now, and Bob could hear the distant chugging of engines Soon the light became too intense to bear. Turning his face away, Brisbane still stood until, looking over his shouldei;, he coulc1 make out the outlines of a long, low, narrow craft speeding toward him as if it would run him clown. Now Bob sank to the seat, thrusting out his oars again, and waited. Toot! toot! came a shrlll whistle. The odd-looking, fast craft was so near now that the searchlight was turned away from him. Bob could make out the heads of men peering over th e bow. Then nearer, and barely fifty yards distant, the narrow vessel came to a graceful stop. "Ahoy, there!" came the deep-throated hail. "In t1vu ble ?"


18 THE B0Y WHO BALKED. 'Adrift!" Bob answered, hoarsely. "Take me aboard, won't you?" "Hustle, then!" came the order, in another "We're on a record run, and, confound you, you've broken in on our time. Hustle!" B ending to the oars, Bob was quickly a lon gside Looking up, he saw three faces, framed by great oil skin caps, looking down. They lowered a. small, gangway l adder for him. Bob clutched at it as at his last hope. "We can't' take your boat aboard, or tow it," warned a sharp vqice "Don't want you to," sputtered our hero as he stepped on to the ladder and kicked the boat adrift. "All I'm particular about is myself." "Hustle!" Two pairs of arms reached over, grasping him under the arm-pits and yanking him, like frel.ght, on to the spot l ess deck of one of the finest racing motor-boats afloat. "Go ahead, captain!" sang out the irritable voice. A bell clanged, then jangled. The racing craft throbbed so that Bob cou l d hardly stand erect on that vibrating deck. "Com e forward," call ed that irritable voice in his ear "You look drowned. I'll stow you in out of the wind." The wind? Yes, it1was terrific on this l ightning gaited motor-boat. The captain and one of his men stood forward by a wheel, steering, while a searchlight from behind played over the waters. Under the ext r eme built-over bow was a little cabin "Get down in there," said he of the irritable voice, holdin g open a door. Down into the little cabin Bob scrambled, and after him cam e his host, the owner of the motor-boat "You look drenched," remarked the owner, -observing the water soaked garments of the boy. "How did it hap pen "Shanghaied. Ca. rried off to sea," Bob explained, briefly. "Got mad about it, of cou rse, and so watched my chance and slipped over the stern in a boat. Then you found me. I--" Bob stopped sudden ly, for on the cabin table he had espied one of the well-known business envelopes of Fred erick Allison, addressed to a Mr Reginald Prince, at the :Metropolitan Club, New York. It was in Allison's own well-remembered handwriting, too. But our hero turned quickly away to hide the curiosity with which the sight of this envelope had filled him. "Get your clothes off," hinted the host, "and I'll have i.hcm dried. You can put on that bathrobe hanging there." Prince turned his back as Bob began to pull off his cloi.hin g in haste "All r ight," announced the boy, as he wrapped the bathrobe around his body. Prince touched a bell. A steward answered, and took away the wet clothing. "Did you ever know a :Mr. Bostwick?" asked Bob, sud denly. Prince, a man who looked to be something more than forty years of age, turned as swiftly as if someo n e had struck him "Why?" he asked sharp ly. "Oh,'' Bob rejoined, "seeing that Allison envelope on your table just set me to thinking." "What do you know about Allison?" asked Prince, eye ing the boy. "I'm very much interested in seei ng Allison force d to do the right thing by Bostwick's widow and daughter," Bob answered simply "You arc, e11 ?" Prince snatched up the letter, tucking it away in one of his pockets. He did not speak. "Can you throw any light on the affairs of Allison and Bostwick?" persisted Bob. "Why do you ask me?" "Because I've been studying your face," Brisbane went 011, simply. "You look lik e the kind of man who could be trusied to do the square thing." "Why should you think I know anything about the Allison & Bostwick business?" persisted the boat 's ow;iet. "I assumed as much from the fact that Allison wrote you in such haste." "What do you mean by haste?" "Well, I couldn't help seeing that there was a specia l delivery stamp on the envelope." "You're very observing,'' answered Prince, dri l y "Sometimes I have to be. Now, Mr. Prince, are you willing to answer my question. You'd und erstan d m:y persistency if you realized how important the matter is. Do you know anything about the affairs of Allison & Bostwick ?'1 "If I do, I'm not s uppl ying the information to every stranger I meet," retorted Prince, cutting ly. "And now I've got to go on deck and see what we can do to save the record run that you helped spoil for us." Pulling on his oil skin cap again, the owner of the craft disappeared up the steps. "Have I put my :foot in it?" wondered boy. "Have I got Mr Prince by the ears? And will he simply write and let Allison know all about me and my questions? Oh, I wish Prince would come in here again." But, instead, there came only the same steward, who brought some bread and butter, cold meat and coffee. Bob ate and warmed up How that boat whizzed an vitrated He had even forgotten to inquire where the craft wa_s heading for. But, after a while, he noticed that the craft was going slower and more gently Through little port-hole windows he could make out lights on either side, as if they were passing up a river.


I THE BOY WHO BALKED. 19 "I'll go and speak to Mr. Prince," decided Bob, leaping .up. But the cabin door was locked-and fast He rang, and rang, but no one answered "Prince doesn't want to be seen," uttered the boy, grimly. Then the craft stopped, and the running out of an anchor chain sounded. .Again Bob rang, but without results. Then, at last, the cabin door opened and the steward appeared, with Bob's dry clothing. "Where's Mr. Prince?" the boy demanded eagerly. "Gone ashore, sir. But he told me to say that, as you'd b een shanghaied, and robbed of course, be took the liberty of leaving a ten-dollar bill in your watch pocket. You'll find it there, sir, and you can go ashore as soon as you re dressed." In the two hours that he had been in that cabin Bob Brisbane had traveled a bit more than sixty miles. In five minutes be was dressed and on d eck. A waiting boat took him ashore at Twenty-se cond street, on the North River. It was not yet eleven o'clock in the evening. "Shall I wait and try to see if I can find Mr. Prince?" wondered the boy. "On the whole, I reckon I'd bette r not. I'll do better by waiting to see what Lawyer Hodgson has to say. .And that means-back to Boston." B y the midnight train Brisbane went on to Boston again. In the morning he went dire ct to Melrose. From there, by nine o'clock, he had tolc1 Hodgson, over the 'phone wire, all that had happened, including bis meeting with Prince, and the puzzle of that letter of .Allison's. CHAPTER VIII. A TRAP SET BY A WRETCH. "Good boy! It was taki:q.g a foolish chance to go over to New York in that fashion. But it turned out big perha ps." "What shall I do about Prince?" "Nothing," replied Lawyer Hodgson over the wire "Will you have him looked up?" "I wouldn't miss the chance. "'But we'll want you for oth er work, Brisbane Remain where you_ are until I hav e things ready for you." "That was the wind-up of the conversation between our hero and the lawyer. Bob walked slowly back from the village to the little cottage that he and his mother called home "Another resting-spell, mother," he called, smilingly "A fine job, isn't it?" "But I hope you won't have to be away from home so long again," his mother answered. Her mother's instinct made her worried, though she knew not why, for not a word had her son told her of his unbelievable adventure. In the warm, bright s ummer day Bob, finding nothing else to do, went out and tipped a chair akainst the house on a sh,ady side and sat there with a book. The time droned away. With the book closed in h:s lap, our hero almost fell asleep after a while. He had a lot of rest to make up, anyway, and he ached in ever y bone from his rough handling and tough adve n tures. "No dog here, is there?" hailed a voice from the gate Bob roused with a start. Out by the gate stood a smiling young man, hustle writ ten in every line of his energetic face. In one hand the stra nger carried a small satchel-a peddler or sample vender, Bob classed him at once. "Being as there's no dog, I'll come in," returned the stranger. "Make yourself at home-in the absence of the dog," laugh e d Bri sbane The stranger laughed, too, and then seated himself, with a sig h of comfort, on the grass beside Brisbane's chair "It' s hot work traveling around on dusty roads to-day," sighed the young stranger. "It's cool sitting here," Bob countered. "So I'm finding out. Lord, I almost hate to begin talking business." "Business, eh?" "That's what. Fortunately, I find people willi ng to listen to me to-day, or it would be tough. Well, I might as well begin with you. Say, I've got an easy proposition." "More proposition than I've got money, I reckon." "Oh, this prppositioh don't call for money That's the good side to it. Ever own a fountain pen?" "No." "Then, now's your chance," went on the stranger, open ing his satchel. Inside there were at least a couple of dozen boxes that looked as if they might contain fountain pens One of these boxes the young man took out, and, open ing the box, produced the pen .. "Say, just try this one," he requested, passing the pen up to our hero, and following it with a pad of paper. "Work s all right," admitted Bob, after writing a few words "Best pen ever made," declared the salesman. "Now, I'll tell you what the scheme is. Keep the pen for nin ety days and use it all you want. At the end of three months, either send the pen back to our company or mail 'em a dollar anc1 lt half. And no hard feelings if you send back the pen instead of the money "Is that the whole proposition?" Bob asked suspici ously. "That's all there is to it. You just sign the agreement,


THE BOY WHO BALKED. und I leave the pen in your pocket. Couldn't be fairer, e;ould I?" "Not very well," Bob admitted. "Come into the house, then, and we'll fix up the agree ment Bob led his visitor into the sitting-room. Here the hustler produced a pad of loose sheets on which the agreement was printed. "Just sign your name and address here atthe bottom," desired the hustler. That's all that's needed." After reading the simp l e agreement through our hero signed. \ 'l'he hustler scanned the paper as he picked it up. "Say," he remarked, "your writing's a heap like mine "So?" Bob queried, indifferently. "Why, I'll show you," taking a stack of loc;ise blank sheets from a pocket. "See here; this is the way I sign my name." Slowly the stranger wrote off the signature of John Olds by. "See if you 9an do it just like that," requested the hustler. Bob was clever enough at pen-craft to make a clever counterfeiter. He studied the Oldsby signature for a moment, then picked up the pen and wrote an almost perfect copy. "The small 'd' and the big 'o' ain't quite right," de clared the hustler. "Look at 'em and try again. Write it down at the bottom of the sheet this time." The hustler himself held the sheets together, while Bob wrote at what looked to be the bottom of the upper most sheet. "Perfect!" clicked the hustler, holding up the stack of sheets to take a good look at the last wr iting. "Say, Brisbane, I'm glad I hain't got a bank ,account. You could get that away from me with a signature so perfect "Tear up my copies," requested Brisbane. "Certain, sure," chuckled the stranger, tearing some paper. Well, I must be going. Got a few more pens to leaYe. But, remember, Brisbane, you can send the pen instead of the cash, just as well as not, if you want to when the ninety days are up." \Yith that the hustler got under way, going out of the yard and down the road at a swinging stride. "I don't know as that's such a bad bargain," muttered the b0-y, looking his pen over "Anyway, I've got some thing to write with for the next three months." And then, slipping the pen in his pocket, he forgot about it as he went back to his book outside. Eleven o'clock brought a messenger from the town He was asked to wait at the telephone pay station until he received a call. "That must be from Hodgson," Bob muttered, as he started for the town. He had not been at the pay -station more than ten min u tes when he was called up. I "Who s that?" queried 'Bob, not recognizing the voice I at the other end. "Longnecker, clerk in Mr. Hodgson's office," ca m e the reply. "Oh! Well, what is it?" "Take the next train, and come to the office. That's all. Good-by." "About time something was happening," muttered the boy, heading for the railway I wonder if Hodg son is going to send me to New York after Prince?" There was a train in a little while. On this Bob reached Boston in the noon hour. "No use going to his office until one o'clock," deCided the boy. "Hodgson will be out to luncheon." So he strolled slowly up the street, pausing to look in at windows of stores, and taking his time generally. But at last he turned down the street to Hodgson's office. "There's the fellow now!" called a sharp voice. Bob would have paid no heed, but a strong, heavy hand was laid on his shoulder. "Want you, young man," sounded a grim voice, a n d Bob found himself staring into the face of a big man. "Want me, do you?" Bob demanded. "What for?" "Come back to the bank, and we'll make it all clear," sounded the same voice, still grimly. "Who are you?" Bob fl.ashed. "Man from central office," was the cool answer. "Yo u must have guessed that already." As he spoke the big fellow turned back his coat lapel, displaying a police badge. "Whew Say," gasped Brisbane, "there's some mis take here." "There always is," came in the detective's dry tone. "But you'll come just the same." "Oh, pshaw! This'II all be cleared up in a twinkling, whatever it is,'' Bob confided to himself. Though he was janed a bit by this wholly unlooked for arrest, Bob walked along confidently enough, with three other men trailing in his rear. In through the broad portals of a bank Bob was march ed, and back past several little windows to a private office in the rear. "Mr. Robbins, here's your boy," announced .the detec tive to a white-haired old man who sat at the desk. Mr. Robbins turned to have a good look at our hero. "Do you identify him?" inquired the old man, looking at the three who had come in in the wake of detective and prisoner "I do," !>poke up one clerk, with great positiveness. "And I," ad:led another. Oldsby,'' spoke the bank president, to the third man of the trio, who looked like a business man, "did you ever see this young reprobate before?" "Never to my knowledge," replied the man addressed at1 Olclsby. "Did you ever see this signature before, young m a n ?


, THE BOY WHO BALKED. 21 asked President Robbins, rising and holding a paper be fore Bob Brisbane 's suddenly horror-struck eyeil. At the bottom of the small slip of paper was the signature, "John Olds by." "Did you write that?" continued Mr. Robbins, stern ly. "By thunder, I did!" gasped Bob, unwarily. "And I'll tell you just how I came to do it." "Oh, you needn't mind that part of the explanation," returned the bank president, coolly. "Officer, can you BP.arch your man here?" "L'm going to, whether I can or not," retorted the de tective. Then and there, before the wondering, ama'f:ed, terri fied young Brisbane could object, he was held up and his pockets gone through. From one of his coat pockets the detective drew, with a triumphant :flourish a s mallpacket of papers, fasten ed with a rubber band. "Are those the goods, Mr. Robbins?" queried the-man of the police, passing the papers over to the bank presi dent. "These two bank men say that you did," smi led of Iker, cooily. And Bob, glaring in terror from the paying teller t o his assistant, saw that both these young bank officials be licved their identification to be correct. "It was who looked lik e me," Bob protested, stubbornly. "And the fellow who looked lik e you was found lo have the hond r in his pocket," broke in President Rob bins, dryly. "But I--'' Bob began, despairingly. "Oh, let the courts thresh this out," gruffed the lletec tive. .f'Fc.r now-police headquarters!" Click! map Handcuffs were on the boy's wrists. His brain whirling, Bob Brisbane was led out of the bank-not a felon, but as good as being a convicted one! CHAPTER IX. THE ENEMY STRIKES HARD. "The bonds to the amount of two thousand dollars, for which the forged order called," tallied off the bank presi"You're free for a days, or a few weeks, but I dent. .1 don't see how we're gomg to keep you free longer than "That winds you up for the present, young man," dethat." . clared the police detective coolly. "It's off to headquar 1 So declared Lawye r Hodgson, as he and Bob talked ters for you." things over in a private room at Young's Hotel. "B t t t 1 1,, d t 1 1 d d For at l ast, after dark, Bob had s uc ceeded in getting u JUS one mmu e, p ease. espera e y p ea e . B b h d th 1 t f d h d b f full the l awyer to hun at pohce headquarters. o ,. w o, urmg e as ew seeon s a een ear y t t t b k h' lt d t b th d t t Ancl Hodgson brought the worst kmd of news. rymg o ge ac is JO e -ou rea an rymg o . th d h b t' f h' h t "J t t He had been awav from his office on account of havmg ease e row y1s ea mg o is ear us a momen Please E 1 't h t I d f d ,, been s ummoned to the home of Stanley Holcomb. xp am, won you, w a m accuse o omg. 1 P 'd t R bb' 1 t 1 t th t Early 111 the afternoon that young merchant had been res1 en o ms, g armg s ern y a e youngs er, . d t d fin t h' t t d struck down, at r. street by a cab passmg at 111gh an porn mg a enouncmg ger a rm, re or e : "ThE: case is a simple one. You presented this forged speed. . . C de t tl t 11 d l'ttl h'l 0 In the excitement the dnver had gotten away with T r a 1e. paymg e er s wm ow a I e w i e ago. n th d ln s cab. at or er you obtamed two thousand dollars' worth of bends, which have jus t been found on you. 'l'he paying teller identifi es you as the supposed messenger. So does the assistant paying teller. And you yourse1f have ad mitted that you wrote this signature. The case is conclu sive enough. Any court will do its duty, and send you to prison for a long term of years." Though Brisbane's face was blanched, and his knees threatening to give way under him, he managed to stam mer out the explanation of how he really came to write tho signature of Oldsby. "And now I understand," he criod, tremulously, "how the bottom of one sheet was held below the surface of an other paper, and I signed without knowing what I was doing." "You'Ne just admitted that you're clever at imitating signatures," sneered the detective. "But I didn't do that with criminal intent. And I did-n't bring that pa.per to this bank." . But AlliR011's bus iness riva] had been taken home un and his bwyer hastily summoned. Holcomb was stiU un consciou s and the doctors were uncertain us to whclher he would regain his mind before dying. That Holcomb must die was the opinion of all three of the physicians. "That's the work of Allison!" quavered our hero, turning pallid over the news. "It may very likely be the work of some wonderful gang of scoundrels that Allison has hired," vented the lawyer. Hodg son had succeeded in getting our hero out on bail. "But the c hain against you is as complete as it could possibly be," Hodgson warned Brisbane. "'l' hose fiend s will be after you next!" warned Bob. "As like as not," agreed the l awyer, thoughtfully. Then added, with sudden grimness : "I'll give them a good fight, anyway."


THE BOY WHO BALKED. "Can you let me have a little eiKpense money on Mr. "No; no one would pay much attention-the cottage was Holcomb's account?" demanded our hero, suddenly. so far from neighbors. But mother?" "Certainly,n the lawyer replied, taking out his pocket-He glanced about him now, as if afraid to look. In book. "What are you going to do with it?" truth, he was afraid to look. "Do?" quivered the youngster. "Why, I'm mightily But the situation had to be met. worried over the thought of living in that lonely little His mother had always been one to go early to bed. cottage with my mother. We're not safe by night against Undoubtedly she had done so to-night. l'UCh seoundrels. It's mother, in particular, that I'm "If she had been up, and had discovered the fire in worried about. I'm going straight home, and I'm going to time, she would have gotten some of the things out," he move her this very night to one of the hotels in Melrose choked. "Not a stick of furniture out here. Not eve.n Let me have a hundred dollars, will you?" a dishpan or a flat-iron! Oh, oh, oh! Merciful heaven!" "Two hundred, just as easily," we*ily smiled tlte For Bob could not conceal the apparent truth from stout old lawyer. "Holcomo's instructions were to let himself. you have expense money practically without limit, so you He did not try to. might as well have enough. And now I'm not going to Unknown to the( nearest neighbors, the distant little kee:e you, for I know you want to get home to your mothcottage had been fired and burned to the ground, and his er, Brisbane." mother, asleep at the time of the fire, had perished with Bob hurriedly left the lawyer. On his way out of the her little home, he thought. hotel Bob decided to take an open trolley car out into the Frantically, Bris bane ran around the heaps of still suburbs fearfully hot embers, sending peering look s here and there. It would get him to Melrose as soon as the next train But he could out nothing distinctly. would do, an._d would leave him considerably nearer to his Under those piles of fire-red beams a dozen scorched lonely little home. bodies might be lying for all h e could distinguish in the "Lord, but I'm up a big enough tree!" quivered tormasses. mented Brisbane, as he rode homeward on the trolley "Oh, I'll-I'll kill someone for this!" screamed the boy, car. "HOdgson has got me out on bail all right, yet he clenching his hands until the nail s dug in and the blood has made it clear enough to me that, unless heaven sends flowed. "Now Frederick Allison I'll last unti. l I've_,.., a miracle on our side, the Allison gang have put up a job' hounded you and added you to your own infamous that paves the way straight to States Prison for me. death-heap!" Whew But that will break mother's heart And mine, too," he added, brokenly. That ride had an end, as all rides must have. Leaving the car half a mile from his home, Bob staggered onward. He discovered how much he needed that brisk walk, for, somehow, the necessity for motion roused his blood and yet calmed him at the same At last he swung around the corner of his own little Toad. Then, all of a sudden, he stopped stock still. His starting eyes threatened to pop out of his head. "Oh, they can't have done that!" he cried out loud, in hit; great, swift rush of fright. "I'm seeing thingsthat's what!" But another look assured him that his eyes had played him no prank. Where the little cottage home had stood was now only a pile of dully glowing embers. Bob darted, forward, though, as he ran, he swayed as if he would topple over. Into the yard he leaped, vaulting the fence as he went. here?" he shouted desperately. He waited, chilled to the heart, but not a voice answered. "Anyone around?" he yelled once more. Not a sound, save the echo of his own voice from the woods. "The house burned, and no one saw it!" he sobbed. Staggering back out of the h ea t as far as the gate, Bris bane leaned against a post there, looking at the house with dry but almost unse e ing eyes. "How could any beast ever havl) done such a thing as that?" he moaned. Then h e started, a little glisten coming into his eyes over just one ray of hope. "If moth er really did get away, she went' to the Burkes -sure thing! Mrs. Burke i s the only neighbor that mother visited much." That thought set his feet in motion. Yet he hardly thought, did not dare hope, as he hurried to the near es t corner, and along the road. Not a light shone in the Burk e house as Bob stagger ered in at the gate and rang loudly at the front door. Nor was there any sound inside until he rang for the second time. Then creakingly a window went up on the floor over head, as a drowsy voice demand ed: "Who'll be there at this time of the night?" "It's I-Brisbane Is my mother here?" Bob queried, ir.. a voice that crackled. "Your mother, Bob?" repeated the voice of Patrick Burke. "Sure, she's not." "Did you know that our house had burned down, Mr. Burke?" faltered the boy. "Y ollr house, is it, Bob? Are you crazy?"


'fHE BOY WHO BALKED. 23 "I just got out from Boston," faltered the boy. "I found our place burned out and no sign of mother." "Hold where you are," cried the sympathetic voice 0 this neighbor, "and I'll be down." "But I can't wait," protested Bob. "I've got to hurry back. Mr. Burke, will you and your son hustle around to all the houses in this part of the town, and try to get word for me? Oh, I'll go crazy, indeed, if the dear old mother has gone up in the flames!" "We'll spend the night looking for you, if need be," ieturned the sympathetic Burke. "Wife, wake George up. Tell him to dress as quick as he ever dressed be!ore in all his lazy life Bob hardly knew whether he bad thanked this neighbor or not. He sped down the road again, trying dully to find some ray o.f hope, yet with a dull, ever-growing pain at the heart. No! There was the pile of embers, just the same, their glow lighting up the whole yard. "I can't go any further," groaned the youngster, top pling in through the gate, and dropping himself on the grass just beyond the scorch of the fire. He closed his eyes painfully, wishing with all his heart he could sleep on, knowing nothing, until one of the Burkes should come with the glad news that his mother really was alive and safe. "But I'll have more strength in the morning," moaned I the boy. "And then-'-Allison But faugh His life won't pay the debt a hundredth part!" How long he lay there he could not remember-a min ute or an hour, it was all the same now! But suddenly he roused himself, sat up and looked at the fire with eyes glowing with hate. "I don't suppose the police can do much of anything now," he groaned. "But it's my plain duty to notify them. And maybe the walk and seeing someone else besides myself will save me from going clean crazy before I've had time to settle with Allison!" Painfully, weakly, he got upon his feet. With a last despairing look at the glowing pile of burn ed timbers, he turned ms back resolutely upon them. Mechanically, he turned in the right direction on the road. to reach the village. The road led through a stretch of woods, yet not once did the boy dream of the possibility of meeting with harm to himself, until--Until suddenly, from behind a tree, a man whom he had } never seen before stepped squarely out in his path. J 1 Heh w1 ats a11rodudgh-looking,1 .illy-dressed fellow, with a s ouc rn pu e own over 11s eyes. "What do you want?" quavered Brisbane. "Get out of my way!" "Trying to pick a row, are ye?" came. the snarling an wer. "Get out of my way and let me pass!" ":Not until ye can be civil about it I" "Please, then?" begged Brisbane, but his tone was mocking. "Ye'll not get by here until I let ye!" snarled the fol. "Then, by ginger, I'll make you get out of the way!" roared Bob. He had been clenching his hands, nerving himself for the leap. Now he drew back, tensing himself for the spring that should hurl this bigger man from his path. But-woof! Struck by a club from behind, Bob Brisbane went down, in a fitting finish to the night's awful work! "That winds him up!" chuckled the fellow who had barred Bob's way. "Oh, we'll make sure of it!" came the smft answer, in another tone. CHAPTER THE GRIT THAT'S IN A GIRL "Help! Murder!" "Oh, what fearful work is this!" "Stop, you scoundrels!" These three cries came from as many women OfJ.e of them re e led and seemed fain'ting. An'other stopped, startled. But the third-a mere slip of a girl-came forward on the run:. "Are you killing someone?" she demanded, without a trace of fear in her tone, but with every determination to stop a crime. Criminals, even the boldest, have their moments of panicky fear. These two, caught in their crime, and with witnesses looking on, had not the nerve to stay, even with only wo men at hand. "Cut it, Bill!" throbbed one to the other, as he turnea to dash into the woods. And cut it they did, leaving only senseless Bob and the thre e women on the spot. But someone else was approaching, and on a fast, hard run. Then into sight broke Patrick Burke and his grown-up son George, the latter leading. ''What is it, ladies?" called George, halting a second. "Oh, good-evening, Mrs. Brisbane. It's everywhere we've been looking for y.ou, and--" But u s hriek from Mrs. Brisbane cut all else short. She had found her son, and was knellling beside him. "They went this way-the assassins!" cried the girl. "Follow me! I'll show you!" "Oh, Clara, dear-be careful!" cried the other woman of the party.


24 THE BOY WHO .. BALKED. But the girl raced. on into the woods, picking up her skirts a bit as she ran with almost the speed of a sprinter. George Burke quickly caught the spirit of the thing. On he dashed, the father pounding the turf close behind the son. They soon outstripped the girl. Then-. "Stop, ye scoundrel, or it's a ball I'll put clean through you 1:' The yell came in Patrick Burke's voice, and the son s till dashed on. Bnt the fellow whom the older man had hailed stoprctl at the second call. Ile stood crouching and cowering. 'Down on your face with ye, if ye don't want a hole clean through you!" roared Patrick Burke. "Be easy on me, boss!" appealed the fellow, shaki ng ly. "Easy, is it?" demanded Burke, thrusting into a pock et the pipe that he had pretended was a p istol. 'rhen he fell upon the shoulder blades of the prostrate prisone;r, going through his pockets. "Handcuffs?" chuckled the elder Burke, bringing out a pair of the steel wristlets. "Ye carry 'em with ye, handy for the officers of the law, do ye? It's a fine bird ye are!" Burke had clicked the steel bracelets on over the :fellow's wrists, whlch he forced behind the prisoner's back. "On your feet with ye!" ordered Burke, springing up and giving the fellow a jerk that swiftly yanked him up right. "Well, what are you going to do with me?" demanded the fellow, sullenly. "First of all, it's through your pockets I'm going, to make sure ye haven't the key to the bracelets," uttered Burke, suiting the action to the word. "Then to the jail with ye!" "Jail?" echoed the fellow, coolly. "Then you're not a crjminal ?" "Criminal, is it?" panted Burke, Ms eyes glaring. "If both your hands wasn't tied behind you I'd hammer your face off ye for that little question." see you're an honest man," grinned the prisoner. "So hold back my coat lapel and see what you :find there." Burke threw back the left lapel, then gave a gasp of astonishment. "Detective, ye are?" gasped the astounded Irishman. "That's it," nodded the fellow. "Then, what are ye doing arc'1md murderin' people?" "You made a slight mistake," grinned the fellow, confidently. "You grabbed the wrong man-that's all. A crime had been committed. My side partner and I rushed up to the spot, when others came." "By the glory, then, I'm a big fool! Is that it?;' demanded Burke, scratching his head. "No; you're a bit hasty-that's all." "Hasty I a m, nodded the Irishman. He took anoth'er look at the badge. "You're from Jaynes's agency?" he said. "Yes." "It must be a good agency," muttered Patrick Burke, reflectively. "One of the greatest in the United States. You'll find the key to the handcuffs, my good man, in the loop at the back of my necktie." "Is it so?" demanded Burke. "Yes; and hurry. I don't care about being fastened up this way." In a very deliberate fashion Burke explored the loop behind the necktie. Soon he brought to light a tiny key. "It's glad I am I've found it," murmured Burke, slip ping the key into one of his vest pockets. "Aren't you going to take these handcuffs off(" &manded the astonished prisoner. "Not until I've thought about it a bit, me bucko." "But I've told you my story." "And it's once more ye'll have it to tell;" rejoined the Irishman, uncon cernedly "What do you mean?" "Ye'll tell it to the chief of police of Melrose. Mind, now, ye tell it the same way, or it'll look suspicious." "Don't you believe me, my man?" gasped the prisoner. "It ain't for me to say," retorted Patrick, unconcerned ly. "The chief of police is paid for such jobs." /1 "Take these handcuffs off, or you'll find yourself 1n more trouble than you ever dreamed of," menaced the fellow. -"Is it so?" asked Burke, with interest in his tone. "D. o you know what it means to arrest an officer in the discharge of bis duty?" "Faith, I never thought to ask," Patrick replied sim ply. "Then you'd better make haste to find out." "I'll ask the chief of police down in the town," Burke promised. "For the last time, my man," came the warning voice, "I demand that you take these handcuffs off." "An(!. it's for the last time I'm telling you," Patrick replied, "that it's divvle a step of any kind I'll take until I've asked the chief of police." "Then let us get to him as quickly as we can," ordered the prisoner. "Then, as soon as the chief of police reme dies your big blunder, I'll place you under arrest. You'll get at least two years for a job of this kind." "Is it so?" asked Patrick, thoughtfully. "Then come along, and we'll ask the chief." "Will you take these handcuffs off?" "I will not!" And Burke's jaws clicked firmly. Gripping the prisoner by the arm, he dragged him back to the road, where two women were tearfully administer ing to the still lifeless Bob. "It's not killed the boy is?" asked Burke,' in an uni steady voice. 1l "Ob, we hope replied M'8. Bostwick, in a trel


THE BOY WHO BALKED. bling voice. "But nothing that we can do will bring him around." I "Help! Quick!" It was a shrill, clear, girlish voice that rang from somewhere in the woods. Like a shot, Patrick turned and was off again. Watching his chance, the self-claimed detective broke to get away, But watchful Mrs. Bostwick was too quick for him. She sprang at him, clutching him by one of his helpless ,rms. "Let go of me," he growled, "or I'll. break your leg with a kick." "Try it!" retorted Mrs. Bostwick, undauntedly, still holding on. "If you make a move I"ll call one of the men back. What do you suppose they'd do to you if you broke my leg?" With a grunt, the fellow became silent. And just then three men came hurriea)y into sight:neighbors whom the loud yelling for help had called out of their beds. The prisoner was ordered to sit on the ground and not to attempt to get up. Then, while one of the men remained to watch the other two broke off into the woods With a quick side step, a turn and a bound, she boun ceJ upon the shoulders of the kneeling rascal. Ere he could brace himself, down he went on his face. And Clara, hardly knowing how she did it, followe

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