Bound to Rise/Chapter XXXII
Harry's reflections, as he sat on the ground were not the most cheerful. He was sitting in a constrained posture, his hands and feet being tied, and, moreover, the cold air chilled him. The cold was not intense, but as he was unable to move his limbs he, of course, felt it the more.
"I suppose it will get colder," thought Harry, uncomfortably. "I wonder if there is any danger of freezing."
The horse evidently began to feel impatient, for he turned round and looked at our hero? Why don't you keep on?"
"I wish somebody would come this way," thought Harry, and he looked up and down the lane as well as he could, but could see no one.
"If I could only get at my knife," said Harry, to himself, "I could cut theses cords. Let me try."
He tried to get his hands into his pockets, but it was of no avail. The pocket was too deep, and though he worked his body round, he finally gave it up. It seemed likely that he must stay here all night. The next day probably some one would come by, as they were so near a public road, upon whom he could call to release him.
"The night will seem about a week long," poor Harry considered. "I shan't dare to go to sleep, for fear I may freeze to death."
The horse whinnied again, and again looked inquiringly at his young driver, but the latter was not master of the situation, and was obliged to disregard the mute appeal.
"I wonder the robber didn't carry off the horse," thought Harry. "I suppose he had his reasons. It isn't likely he left him out of his regard for me."
Two hours passed, and Harry still found himself a prisoner. His constrained position became still more uncomfortable. He longed for the power of jumping up and stretching his legs, now numb and chilled, but the cord was strong, and defied his efforts. No person had passed, not had he heard any sound as he lay there, except the occasional whinny of the horse which was tied as well as himself, and did not appear to enjoy his confinement any better.
It was at this moment that Harry's heart leaped with sudden hope, as he heard in the distance the sound of a whistle. It might be a boy, or it might be a man; but, as he listened intently, he perceived that it was coming nearer.
"I hope I can make him hear," thought Harry, earnestly.
It was a boy of about his own age, who was advancing along the road from which he had turned into the lane. The boy was not alone, as it appeared, for a large dog ran before him. The dog first noticed the horse and buggy, and next our hero, lying on the ground, and, concluding that something was wrong, began to bark violently, circling uncomfortably near Harry, against whom he seemed to cherish hostile designs.
"What's the matter, Caesar?" shouted his young master.
"Good dog!" said Harry, soothingly, in momentary fear that the brute would bite him.
But Caesar was not to be cajoled by flattery. "Bow, wow, wow!" he answered, opening his large mouth, and displaying a formidable set of teeth.
"Good dog! I'd like to choke him!" added Harry, in an undertone to himself.
There was another volley of barks, which seemed likely to be followed by an attack. Just at this moment, however, luckily for our hero, the dog's master came up.
"Why, Caesar," he called, "what is the matter with you?"
"Please take your dog away," said Harry. "I am afraid he will bite me."
"Who are you?" inquired the boy, in surprise.
"Come and untie these cords, and I will tell you."
"What! Are you tied?"
"Yes, hand and foot."
"Who did it?" asked the boy, in increasing surprise.
"I don't know his name, but he robbed me of my pocketbook before doing it."
"What, a robber around here!" exclaimed the boy, incredulous.
"Yes; I met him first over in Carmansville. Thank you; now my feet if you please. It seems good to be free again"; and Harry swung his arms, and jumped up and down to bring back the sense of warmth to his chilled limbs.
"Is this horse yours?" asked the boy.
"Yes; I took up the man and he promised to show me the road to Pentland."
"This isn't the road to Pentland."
"I suppose not. He took me wrong on purpose."
"How much money did he take from you?'
"That's a good deal," said the country boy. "Was it yours?"
"I never had so much money in my life."
"It has taken me almost six months to earn it. But I had more money with me, only he didn't know it."
"A hundred and fifty dollars."
"Was it yours?" asked the boy, surprised.
"No; it belonged to my employer."
"Who is he?"
"Professor Henderson, the ventriloquist."
"Where is he stopping?"
"Over at Pentland. He is sick at the hotel there."
"It's lucky for you I was out to-night. I ain't often out so late but I went to see a friend of mine, and stayed later than I meant to."
"Do you live near here?"
"I live about a quarter of a mile up this lane."
"Do you know what time it is?"
"I don't know, but I think it is past ten."
"I wonder whether I can get anybody to go with me to Pentland. I can't find my way in the dark."
"I will go with you to-morrow morning."
"But what shall I do to-night?"
"I'll tell you. Come home with me. The folks will take you in, and the horse can be put up in the barn."
"I suppose they will feel anxious about me over at Pentland. They won't know what has become of me."
"You can start early in the morning--as early as you like."
"Perhaps it will be better," said Harry, after a pause.
"It won't trouble your family too much, will it?"
"Not a bit," answered the boy, heartily. "Very likely they won't know till morning," he added, laughing. "They go to bed early, and I told them they needn't wait up for me."
"I am very much obliged to you," said Harry. "I will accept your kind invitation. As I've got a horse, we may as well ride. I'll untie him, and you jump into the buggy."
"All right," said the boy, well pleased.
"You may drive, for you know the way better than I."
"Where did this horse come from?"
"From the stable in Pentland."
"Perhaps they will think you have run away with it."
"I hope not."
"What is your name?"
"Harry Walton. What is yours?"
"Jefferson Selden. The boys usually call me Jeff."
"Is that your dog?"
"Yes. He's a fine fellow."
"I didn't think so when he was threatening to bite me," said Harry laughing.
"I used to be afraid of dogs," said Jeff; "but I got cured of it after a while. When I go out at night, I generally take Caesar with me. If you had had him, you would have been a match for the robber."
"He had a pistol."
"Caesar would have had him down before he could use it."
"I wish he had been with me, then."
They had, by this time, come in sight of Jeff's house. It was a square farmhouse, with a barn in the rear.
"We'll go right out to the barn," said Jeff, "and put up the horse. Then we'll come back to the house and go to bed."
There was a little difficulty in unharnessing the horse, on account of the absence of light; but at last, by a combined effort, it was done, and the buggy was drawn into the barn and the doors shut.
"There, all will be safe till to-morrow morning," said Jeff. "Now we'll go into the house."
He entered by the back shed door, and Harry followed him. They went into the broad, low kitchen, with its ample fireplace, in which a few embers were glowing. By these Jeff lighted a candle, and asked Harry if he would have anything to eat.
"No, thank you," said Harry. "I ate a hearty supper at Carmansville."
"Then we'll go upstairs to bed. I sleep in a small room over the shed. You won't mind sleeping with me?"
"I should like your company," said Harry, who was attracted to his good-natured companion.
"Then come up. I guess we'll find the bed wide enough."
He led the way up a narrow staircase, into a room low studded, and very plainly but comfortably furnished.
"The folks will be surprised to see you here in the morning," said Jeff.
"I may be gone before they are up."
"I guess not. Father'll be up by five o'clock, and I think that'll be as early as you'll want to be stirring."