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CHAPTER XXVII.


MR. FELIX STILLWELL'S MOVE.


I was thoroughly astounded at being confronted by my uncle Felix in Boston. I was under the impression that he was at his place in New York City, and for a moment I did not know what to do.

"Yes, sir, young man, don't you dare to break away, or the first policeman shall have you," he repeated, as he tightened his grasp.

"Let go of my collar!" was all I replied.

"Not a bit of it."

"Yes, you will."

And with a twist I pulled myself loose.

"Police!" he called loudly.

"Keep quiet," said I, "I'm not going to run away."

"Oh-ho! So you've had enough of it," he exclaimed in derision.

" Never mind what I've had. I am not going to run away, that's all."

"Seems to me you are getting mighty independent," he sneered.

"I have a right to be."

He looked at me sharply.

"What do you mean by that?"

"That is my affair."

"Why, you young rascal, I——"

"Hold up, Mr. Stillwell, I'm no rascal."

"Yes, you are! What have you done with that six thousand dollars you took from the safe?"

"I never took six thousand dollars from the safe, and you know it," I returned, with spirit.

As I spoke I noticed my uncle closely, and saw that he turned slightly pale.

"You took that money, Luke. What's the use of denying it longer?"

"You cannot prove it, Mr. Stillwell. I might as well say you took it."

"Why—why—you—you——" he stammered.

"Are you sure the safe contained six thousand dollars," I went on.

"Of course I am! Didn't Mr. Grinder give me the money only the afternoon before?"

"And you are sure you placed it in the safe?"

"See here, boy; one would suppose I was the one who had committed the crime."

"And why not you as much as me?" I asked, as coolly as I could.

"Do you mean that I didn't place the money in the safe?" he demanded.

"That's just what I do mean."

"You young rascal——"

"Hold up, Uncle Felix, I——"

"I'm not your uncle any more! I disown you."

"I am willing to be disowned. You have not treated me rightly for years; in fact, ever since my father and mother died."

"I've done more for you than you deserved."

"You let me work like a slave for next to nothing. Now, if you think you are going to send me to prison on such a charge as this you are entirely mistaken."

"You come along with me, and you'll soon see."

"I am willing to come along; but you will get the worst of it, mark my words!"

After this we walked along in silence for a few feet. Now that he had me he was evidently at a loss what to do next.

"What brought you to Boston?" I asked, just to see what he would say.

"None of your business!"

"Oh; all right. I wondered how you knew I was here."

"You can keep on wondering."

I supposed I could. My words had evidently completely upset Mr. Stillwell.

"Are you ready to go to New York with me?" he asked suddenly.

I thought a moment. What of the examination in the morning?

"I will if you will let me go to the hotel first," was my reply.

"Been putting up at a hotel, have you? Nice way to live on other people's money!"

"Will you let me go?"

"Yes, but not for long."

"Are you going back to-night?"

"Certainly."

This was somewhat of a surprise to me. I had thought that he intended to wait until the arrival of Captain Hannock with the news of the loss of the Spitfire.

But his next words solved the problem.

"I shall not be satisfied until I have put you under proper care. You are a dangerous boy to have around."

Now it was perfectly clear. He intended to take me to New York, have me locked up, and then return by the next train to Boston. But for once Mr. Stillwell had missed his calculations.

"What hotel are you stopping at?"

"Ridgerow House."

"Humph! mighty fine place for you, it strikes me!"

"It is fine."

Seeing that he could make nothing out of me, he relapsed into silence.

It was not long before we reached the Ridgerow House.

"Is Mr. Ranson in?" I asked of the clerk.

"Yes, sir."

"Will you please send word that I would like to see him in the parlor at once?"

"Yes, sir."

Mr. Stillwell started on hearing the name.

"Whom did you ask for?" he inquired.

I told him.

"Oscar Ranson?"

"Yes, sir."

"What do you want of him?"

"That is my affair."

Mr. Stillwell was much disturbed. He walked up and down impatiently.

"Thought you said you were stopping at this hotel," he demanded.

"So I did."

"This doesn't look like it."

"I occupy a room with Mr. Ranson."

"Where did you meet him?"

"Excuse me, but that is my business."

At this reply my uncle was very angry. He wanted to let loose a flood of bad temper, but did not dare to do so in that public place.