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- True to Himself - 40/44 -


"Have you been over to Brooklyn?" he continued curiously.

"No, sir."

"I thought you had; it is so long since we parted."

"I've had quite an adventure in the meantime."

"Indeed? You didn't meet Chris Holtzmann or this Aaron Woodward, did you?"

"I met Mr. Woodward's son," I replied, and in a brief way I related my adventures. Mr. Harrison listened with deep interest.

"It is too bad that the son has started in such a wrong path," he said. "I trust it teaches him a lesson to let liquor alone. What do you intend to do now?"

"I suppose I had better go back and stay all night with him. It is now too late to go to Brooklyn."

"I think you are right. I can call for you at, say, eight o'clock in the morning."

This was agreed upon, and as it was then after nine o'clock, I hurried back to Duncan at once. I found him still sleeping, and I did not disturb him. There was a lounge in the room, and throwing off my coat, vest, and shoes, I made my bed upon this.

For once I found it difficult to sleep. It seemed to me that my adventures must soon come to an end. Was it the foreshadowing of coming events that disturbed me? I could not tell. I wondered how all were at home; my sister Kate, Uncle Enos, and the Widow Canby, and I prayed God that I might be permitted to bring good news to them.

About midnight I fell into a light doze. Half an hour later I awoke with a start. Some one was talking in the room. Sitting up, I listened intently. It was Duncan, muttering in his sleep.

"Lift the spring, Pultzer," he said in a whisper. "Hist! don't make so much noise, the old gent may hear you." He paused for a moment. "There wasn't any money. But I've got the papers, yes, I've got the papers, and when I find out their true value the old gent shall pay me to keep quiet."

I could not help but start at Duncan's words. Like a flash of lightning came the revelation to me. He had entered his father's library and taken the papers which Mr. Woodward had accused me of stealing.

It was as clear as day. It explained why Pultzer, accompanied by another, who must have been of the party, had been out so late the night of the robbery. They had helped Duncan in his nefarious work, hoping they would be rewarded by the finding of a sum of money. Evidently the Models were a bad set, and I was thoroughly glad Dick Blair had turned his back upon them.

I waited with bated breath for Duncan to continue his speaking, but was disappointed. He turned over on his side and dreamed on, without a word.

At length I fell asleep. When I awoke it was daylight. I jumped up and looked at Duncan. He was just stirring, and a moment later he opened his eyes.

"Where am I?" he asked, with a puzzled look at me.

"You're all right, Duncan," I replied. "Don't you remember?"

"Oh, yes, I do now. How my head hurts. Is there any water around?"

I went over to the faucet and drew him a glass. He sat up and gulped it down.

"Have we been here all night?"

"Yes."

"You saved me from those toughs that wanted to rob me last night?"

"Yes."

"I'm not dreaming?"

"No, you're not," I laughed. "I was just in the nick of time."

"I know it all. You saved me, brought me to this place, and put me to bed. Roger, you're a better fellow than I thought you were. You're a better fellow than I am."

"You ought to turn over a new leaf," I said.

"Don't preach, Roger."

"I'm not preaching. I'm only telling you something for your own good."

"I know it. I don't blame you. I've been doing wrong-- sowing my wild oats. But they're all gone now. Just let me get straightened out and I'll be a different fellow, see if I'm not."

"I hope so with all my heart. What brought you to New York?"

He started.

"I-- I came-- I don't care to tell," he stammered.

"Were you going to Brooklyn?" I questioned, struck by a sudden idea.

"Why, how did you know?" he exclaimed.

"You have certain papers," I continued.

"Yes, I--" he felt in his pockets. "Why, where are they?"

"Are they in this?" I asked, suddenly remembering the note-book I had picked up, and producing it.

"Yes, yes, give them to me."

"I think I had better keep them," I replied decidedly.

CHAPTER XXXIII

IN BROOKLYN

I fully understood the value of the papers that were contained in the note-book. Mr. Aaron Woodward would not have persecuted me so closely had he not deemed them of great importance.

And when I told Duncan I would keep them, I meant what I said. It might not be right legally, but I was sure it was right morally, and that was enough to quiet my conscience.

"Better keep them?" repeated Duncan, as he sprang to his feet.

"Exactly."

"You have no right to do that."

"I don't know about that. I was arrested for having them, and what's the use of my having the name without the game?"

Duncan sank down on the edge of the bed again.

"If you had spoken to me like that yesterday, I'd have wanted to punch your head," he said. "But you're a good fellow, Roger, and I don't blame you for acting as you do. Do you know what the papers contain?"

"I think I do."

"They concern my father's affairs," he went on uneasily.

"And my father's as well," I added.

"Not so very much."

"I think so."

"Let me show you. Hand the papers over."

"Excuse me, Duncan, if I decline to do so. You, aided by Pultzer and others, stole them from your father's library, and then threw suspicion on me."

"I didn't throw suspicion on you. My father did that himself."

"You had nothing to do with that handkerchief?"

"I took the handkerchief by accident."

"Then I beg your pardon for having said so," I said heartily.

"Never mind, let that pass. I'll tell you what I'll do. Give me the papers and I will restore them to my father and tell him the truth."

"I must decline your offer."

"Why? Don't you believe I'll confess? If you don't I'll give you a written confession."

"No, it isn't that. I am going to keep the papers because they are valuable to me."

"What do you mean by valuable?" asked Duncan, his curiosity increasing.

"Just what I say."

"What will the old gent say when he hears of it?"

"I don't care what he says. He'll hear of a good deal more before long."

"How about the robbery at the Widow Canby's?"

"That will be straightened out, too."

There was a knock on the door, and, opening it, I was confronted by one of the servants.


True to Himself - 40/44

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