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CHAPTER XXVI.


ON LAND ONCE MORE.


The Disdain was a fine yacht, and the morning was all that could be desired. After the prisoners had been disposed of we all went on deck and had a talk over the affair.

I learned that the Disdain had been chartered by Mr. Ranson. He had found Captain Flagg without anything to do, a party that was to have gone out for a week's cruise having disappointed him at the last moment. It had not taken long to get the yacht in trim for the trip, and in the mean time the lawyer had hunted up Mr. Henshaw and related the particulars of the case.

The government officer had taken the matter in charge without hesitation. I did not know his exact authority, but Mr. Ranson assured me that it was amply sufficient for the occasion, and on this I rested content.

"What will you do when we arrive in Boston?" the lawyer asked me after a while.

"I don't know, sir. I suppose I will be wanted at the examination."

"Of course."

"The trouble is I haven't any money," I went on, thinking it would be best that my friend should know the exact condition of affairs. "I had four dollars and a half, but Captain Hannock or Lowell took it from me."

"Don't let that worry you," he replied with a smile. "Saving my life was worth considerable to me, and I do not intend to forget it."

"If you will lend me ten or fifteen dollars——" I began.

"You shall have a hundred if you wish."

"I don't want so much. I intend to pay you back."

"You need not, I——"

"I want to, though."

"You can suit yourself. But let me say that I am your friend, and I intend to help you all I can, not only here, but when you reach New York. Your uncle will probably have you arrested as soon as you arrive, unless he has his hands too full of his own affairs, which I am inclined to believe will be so."

"I wish I could get at the bottom of that robbery, " I went on earnestly.

"Depend upon it, it will all come out in the end. I have spoken to Henshaw about it, and he says he will give the full particulars to a fellow officer in New York who will willingly work it up."

"You are very kind," was all I could say.

"While you are in Boston you must be my guest," went on Mr. Ranson. "I have a legal connection there as well as in New York, and have rooms at the Ridgerow House."

This conversation relieved me of not a little anxiety. I thanked Mr. Ranson again.

"And now about your companion," he went on "What do you know concerning him?"

I gave him all the knowledge I possessed. Then Mr. Ranson called Phil aside and had a long talk with him.

"And so you are sick of the sea?" said the lawyer at length.

"Yes, sir; tired of the sight of it," exclaimed Phil. "I'd rather do anything on land than ship as a cabin boy again."

"Well, I'll see what I can do towards getting you a place in some office or store, and until then I'll find you a boarding-house and pay your board."

"But Captain Hannock is my guardian."

"He won't be after he is convicted. Have you any relatives?"

"Only an old aunt down at Lynn."

"Do you like her?"

"Yes, sir; very much. But Captain Hannock would not let me visit her."

"Then she may perhaps become your guardian, and let you live in Boston, or wherever you find a place. I will fix it up for you if you wish."

"Oh, thank you."

And so it was arranged.

"Tell you what," said the cabin boy, when we were alone, "Mr. Ranson's a brick!"

"You're right, Phil," I replied, "and a gold one."

About noon Boston appeared, and shortly after we steamed up the bay. I had never visited the "Hub" before, and the sight was to me a novel and interesting one.

"We will anchor out in the bay, and go ashore in the small boat," said Captain Flagg. "Mr. Henshaw wishes to transact some business before the prisoners are transferred."

"Can we go ashore?" I asked.

"You will have to ask Mr. Henshaw."

"I think you can," said Mr. Ranson. "You do not intend to run away, I believe."

"Not much," I laughed. "My running away days are over. This has turned out very well, but I don't want to try any more."

Presently the government officer came up.

"Of course you can go ashore, and do as you please. Only be on hand at the examination, for you both will be needed as witnesses."

It was not long before the small boat was launched, and quite a party entered. We soon reached the wharf, and in a body proceeded to one of the court buildings, where Mr. Henshaw left us sitting in one of the lower rooms.

He was gone full half an hour.

"Come this way, please," he said on his return, and led the way to an apartment on the second floor.

"Here are the persons, Judge," he said, presenting us to an elderly gentleman sitting in a big chair.

"I know Mr. Ranson very well," was the judge's reply. "Sit down, I wish to ask you a number of questions."

So we all sat down. I was the first witness, and all I had to say was carefully noted. Then Phil Jones and Mr. Ranson followed; and after an hour or more, the judge said he was satisfied.

"I wish all of you to appear here to-morrow morning at ten o'clock," he said, as he dismissed us. "I will not bind any of you over, but will trust to your honor to do as I wish."

This was satisfactory to all hands, and we left. Out on the street Mr. Ranson told Phil to come with him and he would see what he could do for him.

"You can come too, Foster, if you wish," he added.

"I think I would prefer to take a walk around the city," I replied. "It is all new and strange to me."

"Do just as you think best."

Before we separated the lawyer handed me two five-dollar bills. He would have given me a larger amount, but I did not wish it.

"Don't get lost," was his final remark.

"I'll try not to," I replied.

I did not know one street from another, but walked up and down. To me all seemed quite different from New York, and the time went by swiftly. About the middle of the afternoon I took the cars out to Bunker Hill monument and surrounding places of interest.

I returned at supper time. Mr. Ranson had given me directions for reaching the Ridgerow House, and I found no difficulty in doing so.

I met him in the hall.

"Ah, here you are," he exclaimed. "Come up to the room and get into shape for supper."

He led the way to an elegant room on the second floor.

I was surprised at the sumptuousness of the apartment, and did not hesitate to say so.

"It is nice," he returned. "Certainly far better than my quarters were at Port Jefferson."

"By the way, won't the people be alarmed for your safety?" I asked.

"I have already telegraphed to them."

I washed up and combed my hair. My clothes were none of the best, but they were the best I had, and Mr. Ranson told me I could get another suit the first thing in the morning.

Supper at the hotel was an elegant affair, and both of us did full justice to it.

During the meal I asked what he had done with Phil.

"I have secured him a position in an office down on the wharves," replied the lawyer. "The work just suits him, and the pay, six dollars a week, is, I think, very good to start on. He has written to his aunt telling her to come down upon my invitation. As soon as she arrives I will fix the matter up so that there will be no trouble."

"I think Captain Hannock has some money belonging to him."

"So Philip tells me. I shall bring him to a strict accounting, and make him pay over every penny if he has it."

"I am anxious to get back to New York," I said. "Now I have decided on what to do I am impatient to begin."

"I guess you will be able to start by to-morrow noon. I will try to arrange it with Judge Boyden, so there will be no trouble. But I am sorry I shall not be able to go with you."

"No?" I repeated, in considerable dismay, for I had counted on the lawyer accompanying me.

"Business will keep me in Boston for a week or more. But I have already written to Mr. Ira Mason to take your case in charge."

"Mr. Mason!" I exclaimed.

"Yes. You said you knew him, and he is as good a lawyer as I could get. What do you think of it?"

"I like it very much," I replied.

"I thought you would. I told Mr. Mason to spare no expense to clear you and also to have the subject of your uncle's guardianship investigated. I know he will do what I asked."

"I am sure he will."

"If you wish to follow my advice write at once to this Mr. Banker, whom this Harvey Nottington of London says was to be your guardian. With what you now know perhaps he may be able to throw some light on the subject."

"I will do so at once," I replied.

As soon as the meal was finished I sat down in the reading-room, and wrote a long letter to Mr. Banker, telling him all that happened, and what a villain I had found Mr. Stillwell to be. I also said that I expected to be in New York the following evening and wished very much he would meet me. I likewise quoted the letter from London, and asked why my father's wish had not been carried out.

"That will do first-rate," said Mr. Ranson, when I showed it to him.

"I think I will take a walk out and post it," I said, for to write the letters had taken over an hour and a half, and I felt somewhat cramped from the work.

"All right. You will find me in the room when you return. Remember it is number 67."

I walked out upon the busy street. It was brightly lighted, and in the evening looked very similar to Fourteenth Street in New York.

I found a mail-box on the corner, and dropped my letter in it.

I was just turning away from the box when I felt a hand on my arm and a cheery voice called out:

"Well, dash my toplights, if it ain't Luke Foster! How under the polar star did you git here, boy?"

I turned swiftly and found that the man who had addressed me so cheerily was none other than Tony Dibble.

"Why, Dibble!" I returned, warmly, and clasped his hand.

"I thought you was on your way to Liverpool."

"I just got in Boston," I returned.

"And where's the Spitfire?"

"At the bottom of the Atlantic, Dibble."

"No!" He stared at me for a moment. "Then the old man——" he began in a whisper.

"Hush! not so loud!" I interrupted. "Somebody may overhear you."

"That's so." He lowered his voice still more. "She was really done for, then?"

"Yes, burned up."

"Too bad! She was an old tub, nothin' better. But I kinder loved her, havin' sailed in her so long. The villains! They ought to be strung up to the yard-arm, every one of 'em!"

"How did you get here?" I asked, curiously.

"Just came up from New Bedford. That there lawyer, Ranson, said I had better come up here and wait till I heard from him. He was going to git a boat and go after the Spitfire."

"He did get a boat, and rescued Phil Jones and I from a raft, after the Spitfire was burned."

"Good for him! And where is the captain now?"

"Locked up."

"What!" roared Tony Dibble, in amazement. "Do you mean to tell me they caught him redhanded?"

"Hardly, but they caught him, and the others, too."

"Good!"

Mr. Ranson is now stopping at the Ridgerow House, and I am stopping with him."

"Yes, he told me the name of the hotel. I was on the way down there now to see if he had got back."

"Perhaps you can help him as a witness against Captain Hannock," I went on.

"I reckon I can. I ain't a lovin' the captain much, I can tell you."

"I suppose not."

"No, he was a corker to sail under. It was only the old Spitfire that took my eye. But she's gone now——" Tony Dibble wiped the moisture from his eyes. "Too bad! Ought to string 'em up, say I!"

"The law will deal with them, never fear."

Dibble was curious to know the full particulars of the going down of the Spitfire, and walking to a somewhat retired part of the street, I gave them to him. He shook his head over and over again.

"And all my duds a-goin' with her," he said "Who's goin' to pay for them?"

"Captain Hannock ought to."

"So he had! Is that there lawyer at the hotel now?"

"Yes."

"I'm going to see him at once. Coming along?"

"Not just now. I will be back later."

"Just so, Luke; I hope you git justice for bein' left aboard."

And with a shake of his weather-beaten face, Tony Dibble started off for the Ridgerow House.

Then I continued my stroll quite a distance. Some of the shop windows that were still lighted interested me, and before I knew it I had gone a mile, if not more. At length I came to a railroad station. A number of trains had just come in, and a crowd of people were streaming from the various entrances and I stopped to watch them.

Suddenly some one stopped in blank amazement before me.

"So here's where you have been keeping yourself, young man!" were the first words I heard.

Somewhat startled, I looked full at the speaker.

It was my uncle Felix!

"Mr. Stillwell!" I ejaculated.

"Exactly; and you shall not escape me this time!"

And with a very stern face my uncle caught me by the collar.

"Let go of me!" I cried.

"Not much! And don't you dare to try to break away, for if you do I will hand you over to the first policeman that appears!"