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CHAPTER XXVIII.


ON THE CARS.


In a few moments Mr. Ranson came down, followed by Tony Dibble. On catching sight of Mr. Stillwell, the lawyer was greatly surprised.

"Mr. Stillwell!" he exclaimed.

"How are you, Ranson," replied my uncle gruffly.

"Pretty well, but I didn't expect——"

"Neither did I."

"I came to see you before going to New York," I broke in hastily. "I met Mr. Stillwell at the. depot, and he insists on my accompanying him back at once."

"Indeed!"

"And I wish to speak to you in private before I go," I added, in a whisper.

We walked to one side. Mr. Stillwell was itching to hear what was said, but I gave him no opportunity of doing so.

In a few hurried words I told the lawyer what had happened, and asked his advice.

"Go to New York with him, and keep him there if possible," said Mr. Ranson. "Mr. Henshaw or his agent will be down soon and arrest him. I will fix matters with the judge."

"Shall I say anything to him?"

"No, let Mr. Mason do it for you."

A little more conversation passed between us, and then I announced my readiness to start.

"And good luck go with you," said Mr. Ranson in a voice loud enough for Mr. Stillwell to hear, and it made his nose go up in anger.

"Hope you're done," he snarled.

"Yes, sir, quite finished."

"Then come along."

Mr. Stillwell marched me out of the hotel and down the street without further words.

"Going right to New York?"

"None of your business."

"But it is my business," and I stood still.

"Can't you see we are?" he retorted.

After this hardly a word passed between us. When he arrived at the depot he said sourly:

"I suppose you haven't any ticket?"

"I haven't."

"Have you any money to buy it with?"

"If you want me to go to New York you will have to buy me a ticket," was my reply.

We marched up to the ticket-office, and with very bad grace he purchased me a single ticket.

"When does the train start?" he inquired of the agent.

"In ten minutes."

"That suits. Come on;" the latter to me.

We boarded the train. Mr. Stillwell found a vacant seat in the middle of the car, and insisted on my taking the inside, next the window. Then he placed himself between me and the aisle.

"Now I want none of your fooling," he said, as he settled back.

I made no reply, and we rode on in perfect silence.

I sat awake for a long time. I could not speculate upon what the future held in store for me. I well knew that Mr. Stillwell was a deep one, and I determined to trust him no further than was absolutely necessary.

"When will we reach New York?" I asked.

There was no reply, and turning, I saw that his eyes were closed.

I was pretty sure he was shamming, and to prove it, made a slight movement as if to rise.

Instantly his eyes were wide open.

"No, you don't. Sit down there," he cried.

I repeated my question.

"Not before to-morrow morning."

Then he closed his eyes again, and I did not further disturb him.

Outside of the car all was dark, and as I could not see any of the scenery through which we were passing, the ride soon grew monotonous.

Finally my head began to fall forward; and before I knew it I was fast asleep.

I slept for about an hour. Then I awoke with a start.

Mr. Felix Stillwell's hand was in my coat pocket!

I could hardly believe the evidence of my senses when I found Mr. Stillwell's hand where it was. Was my uncle trying to rob me? I did not open my eyes, but moved slightly to one side, uttering a deep sigh as I did so. Instantly the hand was withdrawn, and when, a moment later, I sat up, I saw that he was lying back as if in the soundest sleep.

There was no more slumber for me that night, and in order to keep awake I sat bolt upright. This evidently did not please my companion, for presently he too sat up and looked at me sharply.

"You might as well go to sleep," he said. "We have a long ride before us. I thought I wouldn't go to the expense of tickets for the sleeping-car."

"I've had a nap," I replied.

"It wasn't very long."

"Long enough."

"Humph!"

My uncle sank back again, but I could see that he was put out. No doubt he had counted upon searching my clothing and finding some clew to what I had done and intended to do.

It was all I could do to keep awake, but I managed to do so with the aid of an early morning paper I bought on the train.

The paper was one from New York that had just come from the metropolis on the three o'clock paper train. I spread it open, and was rather startled to behold the following heading to one of the columns:

 

SET ON FIRE!

The Schooner Spitfire Given Over to the
Flames.


Arrest of Captain Hannock for Trying to De-
fraud the Insurance Companies.


Was the Cargo Bogus?


And then followed a description of the arrest by Mr. Henshaw, and a harrowing account of two boys (Phil and myself), who had been left on board to be burned, and of the reasons for believing that the cargo was bogus, and that three New York merchants were supposed to be interested in the venture.

Of course the newspaper item was right in some particulars, but it was terribly overdrawn, and I could not help but smile as I read it.

I wondered what Mr. Stillwell would say when he saw it. I determined to keep the paper away from him, it being time enough for him to hear of what had happened when he arrived in New York.

By the time I had finished reading the train was approaching the upper part of the city.

"Let me see the paper," said Mr. Stillwell.

As he spoke I had the paper rolled up and resting on the sill of the window, which was open. Not wishing to refuse him directly, I gave the sheet a slight shove with my arm, and this sent it fluttering away.

"It's gone," I replied. "It's dropped out of the window."

"You threw it out on purpose," he growled. "Luke, you're getting more uncivil every day."

"We have different opinions about that," I returned, with an air of utter indifference.

I knew he was too close to town to buy a paper then. There would be one at the office and he would wait until he could get that.