Joe The Hotel Boy
Horatio Alger Jr.
Part 3 out of 4
As he entered the corridor he heard his name called and turning
around saw Andrew Mallison.
"How do you do, Mr. Mallison," said our hero, shaking hands. "I
didn't expect to meet you here."
"I've got a little special business in Philadelphia," said the
hotel man. "I came in last night and I am going back this
afternoon. How are you making out?"
"It's all out so far," and Joe smiled faintly at his own joke.
"No situation, eh?"
"Why don't you strike the people here. It's a new place and the
proprietor may need help."
"That is what I came for."
"I'll put in a good word for you, Joe. Come on."
Andrew Mallison led the way to the office and called up a stout,
pleasant looking man.
"Mr. Drew, this is a young friend of mine, Joe Bodley. He worked
for me this summer,--around the boats and also in the hotel.
Now that the season is at an end he is trying to find something
to do in the city. If you have an opening I can recommend him."
Mr. Arthur Drew surveyed Joe critically. The new hotel was to be
run in first-class style and he wanted his help to be of the
best. He rather liked Joe's appearance and he took note of the
fact that our hero's hands were scrupulously clean and that his
shoes were blacked.
"I've got almost all the help I need, but I might take him on,"
he said, slowly. "One of my present boys does not suit me at
all. He is too impudent."
"Well, Joe is never impudent and he is very reliable," answered
"I'll give you a trial."
"Thank you, sir."
"The wages will depend upon whether you board here or outside."
"How much will you give me if I stay at the hotel?"
"Four dollars a week."
"And what if I board outside?"
"Nine dollars a week."
"Can you give the boy a pretty fair room?" asked Andrew Mallison.
"I know yo'll like him after he has been here a while."
"He can have a room with another boy. That lad yonder," and the
proprietor of the Grandon House pointed with his hand.
Joe looked and saw that the other lad was gentlemanly looking and
"It will suit me to stay here, I think," he said. "Anyway, I am
willing to try it."
"When can you come to work?"
"Right away--or at least, as soon as I can get my suit case from
where I have been stopping."
"Then come in after dinner and I'll tell you what to do and turn
you over to my head man. Randolph, come here!"
At the call a bell boy came up.
"This is another boy who is to work here," said Arthur Drew. He
will room with you."
"Thank you, Mr. Drew, I'll be glad to get rid of Jack Sagger,"
said Frank Randolph.
"What's your name?" he went on to our hero.
"Mine is Frank Randolph. I guess we'll get along all right."
"I hope so, Frank," said Joe, and shook hands.
There was a little more talk and then Joe left, to get his dress
suit case and a few other things which belonged to him. By one
o'clock he was back to the Grandon House, and just in time to see
Andrew Mallison going away.
"I am much obliged, Mr. Mallison, for what you have done," said
our hero, warmly.
"You're welcome, Joe," answered the hotel man. "I take an
interest in you and I trust you do well here."
"I shall do my best."
After Andrew Mallison had gone Joe was shown around the hotel and
instructed in his various duties. Occasionally he was to do
bell-boy duty, but usually he was to be an all-around helper for
"I think you'll like it here," said Frank Randolph. "It's the
best hotel I've ever worked in. Mr. Drew is a perfect
"I am glad to hear it, Frank," answered our hero.
The room assigned to the two boys was a small one on the top
floor of the hotel. But it was clean, contained two nice cots,
and Joe felt it would suit him very well. Frank had hung up a
few pictures and had a shelf full of books and this made the
apartment look quite home-like.
"I'm going to buy some books myself, this winter," said Joe.
"And when I get time I am going to do some studying."
"I'm studying myself, Joe. I never had much schooling," returned
"Are you alone in the world?"
"No, my father is living. But he is rather sickly and lives with
an uncle of mine, over in Camden. He can't work very much, and
that is why I have to support myself. Are you alone?"
"Yes. I think my father is living but I can't locate him."
The next day and for several days following Joe pitched into work
in earnest. Many things were strange to him, but he determined
to master them as speedily as possible, and this pleased Arthur
"That boy is all right," he said to his cashier. "I am glad that
Andrew Mallison brought him to me."
"Jack Sagger was awfully angry at being discharged," said the
"It was his own fault. I cannot afford to have a boy around who
What the cashier said about the discharged lad was true. Jack
Sagger was "mad clear through," and he attributed his discharge
solely to Joe.
"I'll fix dat pill," he said to one of his chums. "He ain't going
to do me out of my job an' not suffer fer it."
"What are you going to do, Jack?" asked the companion.
"I'll mash him, dat's wot I'll do," answered Jack Sagger.
He was a big, rawboned lad, several inches taller than Joe. His
face was freckled, and his lips discolored by cigarette smoking.
He was a thoroughly tough boy and it was a wonder that he had
ever been allowed to work in the hotel at all. He had a fairly
good home, but only went there to sleep and to get his meals.
"Joe, I hear that Jack Sagger is going to make it warm for you,"
said Frank, one Monday afternoon.
"I suppose he is angry because I got his position, is that it?"
"What is he going to do?"
"I don't know exactly, but he'll hurt you if he can."
"If he attacks me I'll do what I can to take care of myself,"
answered our hero.
That afternoon he was sent out by Mr. Drew on an errand that took
him to a neighborhood occupied largely by wholesale provision
houses. As Joe left the hotel Jack Sagger saw him.
"Dere's dat country jay now," said Sagger.
"Now's your time to git square on him, Jack," said Nick Sammel,
"Right you are, Nick. Come on."
"Going to follow him?"
"Yes, till I git him where I want him."
"Going to mash him?"
"Sure. When I git through wid him his own mother won't know
him," went on Jack Sagger, boastfully.
"Maybe he'll git the cops after you, Jack."
"I'll watch out fer dat, Nick, an' you must watch out too,"
answered Jack Sagger.
"Are you sure you kin best him? He looks putty strong."
"Huh! Can't I fight? Didn't I best Sam Nolan, and Jerry Dibble?"
"That's right, Jack."
"Just let me git one chanct at him an' he'll run away, you see if
he don't. But he shan't git away until I give him a black eye
an' knock out a couple of his front teeth fer him," concluded the
JOE SHOWS HIS MUSCLE.
All unconscious that he was being followed, our hero went on his
errand to a wholesale provision house that supplied the Grandon
Hotel with meats and poultry. He felt in good spirits and so
whistled lightly as he walked.
Arriving at the place of business he transacted his errand as
speedily as possible and then started to return to the hotel.
He was just passing the entrance to a factory yard when he felt a
hand on his shoulder, and wheeling around found himself
confronted by Jack Sagger, Nick Sammel, and half a dozen others,
who had gathered to see their leader "polish off" the country
"What do you want?" demanded Joe, sharply.
"You know well enough wot I want, country!" exclaimed Jack
"I do not."
"You took my job away from me, an' I'm goin' to pay you fer doing
"Mr. Drew had a perfect right to discharge you, Jack Sagger. He
said you were impudent and he didn't want you around any more."
"You can't preach to me, country! Do you know wot I'm goin' ter
"I'm going to make you promise to leave dat job. Will yer
"Den you have got to fight," and Jack Sagger began to pull up his
rather dirty coat sleeves.
"Supposing I don't want to fight?" went on our hero, as calmly as
"Yer got ter do it, country--or else make dat promise."
"I'll make no promise to you."
"Den take dat!"
As Jack Sagger uttered the last words he launched a blow at Joe's
nose. But our hero ducked and the blow went wide of its mark.
"Give it to him, Jack!"
"Show him what you can do!"
"Keep off," came from Joe. "If you don't, you'll get hurt!"
"Hear dat now! Jack, pitch in, quick, before anybody comes!"
Thus urged Jack Sagger struck out once more, landing on Joe's
chest. Then our hero drew back and sent in a blow with all his
force. It took the other boy squarely on the chin and sent him
staggering against a friend.
If ever there was a surprised boy that boy was Jack Sagger. He
had expected that to "polish off" Joe would be easy and he had
not anticipated such a defense as had been made. He righted
himself and gazed stupidly at our hero.
"Wot did yer hit me fer?" he gasped.
"You keep off or I'll hit you again," answered Joe.
There was a pause and Sagger sprang forward, trying to catch Joe
around the arms. But our hero was too quick for him and ducked
once more. Then he hit the bully in the ear and gave him another
blow in the left eye.
"Ouch!" roared Jack Sagger. "Don't! Oh, my eye!"
"Have you had enough?" demanded Joe, who was commencing to warm
"Pitch in, fellers!" came from Jack Sagger. "Throw him down!"
"Ain't you going to do it alone?" queried Nick Sammel, in wonder,
not unmingled with a suspicion that Joe would not be as easy to
handle as anticipated.
"I--I've got a--a heartburn," came lamely from Sagger. "It come
on me all at onct. If it wasn't fer that I'd do him up all
"You're a fraud, and you haven't any heart-burn!" cried Joe.
"You're afraid, that's all. If you want to fight, stand up, and
we'll have it out."
"Don't you call me afraid," said Sagger, but his voice had lost
much of its bullying tone.
"You're a big coward, Jack Sagger. After this I want you to
leave me alone."
"Ain't you fellers going to pitch in?" demanded Sagger, turning
to his cohorts.
"The first boy to hit me will get paid back with interest," said
Joe, sharply. "I don't like to fight but I can do it if I have
One or two had edged forward but when they saw his determined air
they slunk back.
"Go on and fight him, Jack," said one. "This is your mix-up, not
"You said you was going to do him up brown," put in another.
"Ain't I got the heartburn?" blustered the bully. "I can't do
nuthin' when I git that. Wait till I'm well; then I'll show
"If you ever touch me again, Jack Sagger, I'll give you the worst
thrashing you ever had," said Joe, loudly. "Remember, I am not
the least bit afraid of you. The best thing you can do is to
keep your distance."
"I don't want to quarrel with anybody, but I am always ready to
stick up for my rights, just you remember that."
So speaking Joe backed out of the crowd, that opened to let him
pass. Several of the boys wanted to detain him, but not one had
the courage to do so. As soon as he was clear of his tormentors,
he hurried back to the hotel.
"How did you make out?" asked Mr. Drew.
"It's all right, sir, and they'll send the things to-night,
sure," answered Joe. He hestitated for a moment. "I had a
little excitement on the way."
"How was that?"
"Jack Sagger and some other boys followed me up and wanted to
polish me off."
"You don't look as if they had done much polishing." And the
hotel man smiled.
"No, Jack Sagger got the worst of it. I guess he'll leave me
alone in the future."
"You mustn't fight around the hotel, Joe."
"This was on the way to Jackson & Bell's, sir. I was bound to
"To be sure. Sagger came to me yesterday and wanted to be taken
back, but I told him no--that I wouldn't have such an impudent
As the winter season came on the hotel began to fill up and Joe
was kept busy from early in the morning until late at night, and
so was Frank Randolph. The two boys were firm friends, and on
Sunday went to Sunday School together and also to church, when
their hotel duties permitted of it.
In the corridor of the hotel Joe, one day, met the timid Felix
Gussing, the young man who had once had so much trouble in
driving a horse.
"How do you do, Mr. Gussing," said our hero politely.
"Why if it isn't Joe!" cried the young man, and smiled. "What
are you doing here?"
"I work at this hotel now."
"Is it possible! Didn't you like it at Riverside?"
"Yes, but the place is shut up for the winter."
"Ah, I see."
"Are you stopping here, sir?"
"Yes, I came in an hour ago. I have business in Philadelphia."
"Maybe you're buying horses," said Joe, slyly.
"No! no! No more horses for me," ejaculated the dude.
"I--er--this is of more importance."
No more was said just then, but later our hero met Felix Gussing
again, and on the day following had an errand that took him to
the young man's room.
"Joe, you are quite a wise boy, perhaps I can confide in you,"
said Felix Gussing, after some talk on other subjects.
"I'll be glad to be of service to you, Mr. Gussing."
"I have a delicate problem to solve. Sometimes a young man can
give better advice than an older person," went on the dude.
"Don't flatter me, Mr. Gussing."
"I am in love," went on the young man, flatly.
"I am quite sure the young lady loves me."
"Then I suppose you are going to get married."
"There is an obstacle in the way."
"Perhaps I had better tell you the whole story--if you'll listen
to me," went on the dude.
"Certainly I'll listen," said Joe. "I've got a little time off."
And then Felix Gussing told his tale of woe, as will be found in
the next chapter.
ONE KIND OF A DUEL.
"Her name is Clara, and she is the daughter of Major Thomas Botts
Sampson, of the regular army," began Felix Gussing.
"Then her father is a military man."
"Exactly, and that is the trouble," and the dude gave a groan.
"It is this way: When I went to see Major Sampson he greeted me
very cordially, until I disclosed the object of my visit.
" 'Sir,' said he 'This is a matter which requires consideration.
Have you gained my daughter's consent?'
" 'I have,' I answered.
" 'So far so good,' said he. 'But there is one thing more. Have
you served in the army?'
" 'No,' said I.
" 'Or fought a duel?'
"Then he told me to remember that he had served in the army and
that his daughter was the daughter of an army man, one who had
gone through many battles. After that he said he was resolved
that his daughter should marry only somebody who had proved
himself a man of courage."
"What did you do then?" asked Joe, becoming interested.
"What could I do? I am--er--no army man--no fighter. Evidently
the major wants a fighter for a son-in-law," and Felix Gussing
groaned once more.
"You'll have to become a fighter," said Joe.
"No! no! I am a er--a man of peace!" cried the dude, in alarm.
"Mr. Gussing, I think I can arrange matters for you," said Joe,
struck by a certain idea.
"What can you mean, Joe?"
"I mean that I can prove to Major Sampson that you are a brave
"Do that, Joe, and I shall be your friend for life!" gasped the
"Will you wait until to-morrow, Mr. Gussing?"
"Certainly, but do not keep me in suspense too long."
"This may cost you a little money."
"I don't care if it costs a hundred dollars."
"Then I am sure I can fix it up for you," answered Joe.
There was stopping at the hotel a man named Montgomery. He had
at different times been an auctioneer, a book-agent, a
schoolmaster, and a traveling salesman. He was just now selling
curiosities and Joe felt that he would be only too glad to do
Felix Gussing a good turn if he were paid for it.
Our hero had a talk with this man, and the upshot of the matter
was that Montgomery and the dude were introduced on the following
"I think I can help you, Mr. Gussing," said the curiosity man,
who, it may be mentioned here, was a tall and important-looking
personage. "I was once in the army."
"What can you do?" questioned the dude, hopefully.
"Will it be worth fifty dollars to you if I aid you in winning
the consent of Major Sampson to wed his daughter?"
"This is also Joe's plan, so you will have to pay him, too."
"I don't want any money," put in our hero.
"Joe shall have ten dollars--if your plan wins out. But how is
all this to be accomplished?" continued Felix Gussing.
"We will take the earliest possible opportunity to visit Major
Sampson," said Ulmer Montgomery.
"When we are all together, we'll get into some sort of an
argument. You shall call me a fool and I'll slap you in the
face. Then you shall challenge me to a duel."
"A duel! Why, sir, I--er--I never could shoot you, and I don't
want to be shot myself."
"My dear Mr. Gussing, you don't understand me. Don't you
comprehend, the pistols shall be loaded with powder only."
"Ah, that's the idea!" exclaimed the dude, much relieved.
"Yes. You see it will only be a sham duel so far as we are
concerned, but will, in the most harmless fashion possible, prove
you to be a man of honor and courage. Major Sampson's scruples
will vanish, and you will have the pleasure of gaining his
daughter's hand in marriage.
"I agree, Mr. Montgomery--the plan is a famous one. Is it yours
or is it Joe's?"
"Joe's--but it will fall to me to help carry it out," said the
Jack-of-all-trades, who did not lose sight of the fifty dollars
that had been promised to him.
On the following day Felix Gussing and Mr. Montgomery took
themselves to Major Sampson's residence, where the stranger was
introduced as a curiosity hunter from Chicago.
"He wishes to look at your collection of swords," said the dude.
"I shall be delighted to show them," said the major, who was a
person of great self-importance.
"Ah, this is a fine sword from the Holy Land," said Mr.
Montgomery, handling one of the blades.
"I don't know where it came from," said the major. "It was
presented to me by a friend from Boston."
"That is a Russian sword," said the dude. "I know it by its
"That sword is from the Holy Land," insisted Mr. Montgomery.
"Anybody is a fool to talk that way," cried Felix Gussing.
"Ha! do you call me a fool, sir!" stormed Montgomery.
"Gentlemen!" put in the major. "I think----"
"I am not a fool, sir, and I want you to know it!" bellowed Ulmer
Montgomery. "It's an outrage to call me such. Take that, sir!"
and he slapped Felix Gussing lightly on the cheek.
"Gentlemen, this must cease!" cried the major, coming between
them. "In my house, too! Disgraceful!"
"He has got to apologize to me!" roared the dude, acting his part
"Never!" shouted Montgomery.
"If you will not, I demand satisfaction. I --I will fight you in
"Yes, a duel. Pistols, at ten paces," went on Felix Gussing.
"Well! well!" came from the major in amazement.
"Can I do less?" demanded the would-be son-in-law. "My honor is
"Then stand by your honor by all means," cried the military man,
who, at times, was as hot-blooded as anybody.
During the talk the major's daughter had come upon the scene.
"Oh, Felix, what does this mean?" she demanded.
"I am going to fight this--this fellow a duel, pistols at ten
paces," answered Felix, firmly.
"Felix!" she gasped. "You will not, you cannot fight. For my
sake, do not."
"Clara," answered the dude, smiling affectionately upon her.
"For your sake I would forego any personal gratification, but I
must not suffer a stain upon the honor."
"Well said!" exclaimed the major. "Felix is behaving well. I
couldn't have done better myself. I admire his courage and I
give him free permission to wed you after the--the--"
"But father, if he should be killed?" faltered the fair Clara.
"Never fear, Clara; all will go well," interposed Felix.
More words followed, but the dude pretended to be stubborn and so
did Ulmer Montgomery. Both went off to arrange about the duel,
and the major insisted upon it that he must be on hand to see the
affair come off.
Matters were hurried along with all speed, and it was arranged
that the duel should take place on the following morning at ten
o'clock, in a country spot just outside of the city. Joe was
invited to go along, and carried the pistols, and two others were
let into the secret, including a doctor, who went fully prepared
to attend to any wounds that might be inflicted.
It did not take long to load the pistols, with powder only.
Great care was taken so that Major Sampson should not suspect the
"Major," said Felix, in a trembling voice. "If I--if anything
serious happens to me tell Clara that--that I died like a man."
"Noble boy! I will! I will!" answered the military man.
"When I give the word, gentlemen, you will both fire!" said one
of the seconds.
"Very well," answered both of the duelists.
Both pistols were simultaneously discharged. When the smoke
cleared away it was ascertained that both parties were unharmed.
"Gentlemen, are you satisfied?" asked the seconds.
"I am," answered Ulmer Montgomery, quickly.
"Then I shall be," put in Felix Gussing. "And now that this
affair is at an end, Mr. Montgomery will you shake hands?" he
"With pleasure, Mr. Gussing!" was the reply. "I must say in all
frankness I am sorry we quarrelled in the first place. Perhaps I
was wrong about the sword."
"And perhaps I was wrong."
"Both of you were wrong," put in the major. "I hunted up the
letter that came with the blade. It is an old Spanish weapon.
Let us all call the affair off, and Mr. Montgomery shall come to
Clara's wedding to Mr. Gussing."
"With all my heart," cried Montgomery, and there the little plot
came to a finish.
ATTACKED IN THE DARK.
"Joe, the plot worked to perfection!" said Felix Gussing, on the
day following. "I have to thank you, and here are twenty dollars
for your trouble."
"I don't want a cent, Mr. Gussing," answered our hero. "I did it
only out of friendliness to you. I hope you have no further
trouble in your courtship."
"Oh, that was all settled last night. Clara and I are to be
married next week. We are going to send out the cards to-day.
You see," went on the young man in a lower tone. "I don't want
to give the major a chance to change his mind, or to suspect that
that duel was not just what it ought to have been."
"Does he suspect anything as yet?"
"Not a thing."
"Then you are wise to have the wedding as quickly as possible."
"When we are married I am going to let Clara into the secret. I
know she'll enjoy it as much as anybody."
"Well, you had better warn her to keep mum before her father. He
looks as if he could get pretty angry if he wanted to."
"As you won't take any money for this, Joe, wouldn't you like to
come to the wedding?"
"I'm afraid it will be too high-toned for me, Mr. Gussing."
"No, it is to be a plain, homelike affair-- Clara wants it that
way. The major has some country cousins who will be there, and
they are very plain folks."
"Then I'll come--if Miss Sampson wishes it."
So it was arranged that Joe should attend the wedding, and as he
was in need of a new Sunday suit he purchased it at once, so that
he could use it at the wedding.
"You're in luck, Joe," remarked Frank, when he heard the news.
"And that suit looks very well on you."
In some manner it leaked out among the boys that Joe was going to
the wedding, and two days before the affair came off Jack Sagger
learned of it. He immediately consulted with some of his
cronies, and it was unanimously resolved to watch for Joe after
the wedding was over and chastise him severely for the manner in
which he had treated "the gang."
"We'll fix him," said Sagger, suggestively.
At the proper time Joe took a car to the Sampson home and was
there introduced to a dozen or more people. The wedding proved
an enjoyable affair and the elegant supper that was served was
one long to be remembered.
It was nearly eleven o'clock when Joe started for the hotel
again. He had thought to take a car, but afterwards concluded to
"A walk will do me good--after such a hearty supper," he told
himself. "If I ride home I won't be able to sleep."
At the corner the Sagger crowd was waiting for him. One gave a
low whistle, and all slunk out of sight until Joe had passed.
Several blocks had been covered when our hero came to a spot
where several new buildings were in the course of construction.
It was rather dark and the street lights cast long and uncertain
shadows along the walk.
Joe had just started to cross a wooden bridge over an excavation
when he heard a rush behind him. Before he could turn he was
given a violent shove.
"Push him into de cellar hole!" came, in Jack Sagger's voice.
"Stop!" cried Joe, and it must be admitted that he was greatly
alarmed. But no attention was paid to his words, and over the
side of the bridge he went, to fall a distance of a dozen feet
and land in a pile of dirt, with one lower limb in a puddle of
"Down he goes!" he heard, in the voice of Nick Sammel. "Wonder
how he likes it?"
"You're a mean, low crowd!" cried Joe, as he stood up. He was
covered with dirt and the cold water felt anything but agreeable
on such a frosty night as it chanced to be.
"Don't you dare to crawl out of dat!" said Sagger. "If yer do
we'll pitch yer in ag'in, won't we, fellers?"
"Sure we will!" was the cry.
"De next time we'll dump him in on his head!"
Growing somewhat accustomed to the semi-darkness, Joe counted
seven of his tormentors, all standing on the edge of the cellar
hole into which he had so unceremoniously been thrown. Several of
the youths had heavy sticks.
"I suppose I'll have to retreat," he reasoned "I can't fight
seven of them."
He turned to the rear of the cellar hole and felt his way along
into the deepest shadows. Presently he reached a partly finished
building and crawled up some planks leading to one of the floors.
"He is running away!" he heard Jack Sagger cry.
"Come on after him!" said another of the crowd.
"Let's take his new coat and vest away from him!" added a third.
The entire party dropped down into the hole and ran to the rear,
in a hunt after our hero. In the meantime Joe was feeling his way
along a scaffolding where some masons had been at work.
As it happened the entire party under Jack Sagger walked toward
the unfinished building and came to a halt directly under the
scaffolding. Joe saw them and crouched back out of sight.
"Where is de country jay?" he heard one of the crowd ask.
"He's back here somewhere," answered Jack Sagger. "We must find
him an' thump him good."
"You'll not thump me if I can help it," said our hero to himself.
Joe put out his hand and felt a cask near by. It was half filled
with dirty water, being used for the purposes of making mortar.
A tub of water was beside the cask.
"Tit for tat!" he thought, and as quickly as it could be done he
overturned the cask and the tub followed.
Joe's aim was perfect, and down came the shower of dirty water,
directly on the heads of the boys below. Every one was saturated
and each set up a yell of dismay.
"Oh, say, I'm soaked!"
"He trun water all over me!"
"Ugh! but dat's a regular ice bath, dat is!"
"That's what you get for throwing me into the hole!" cried Joe.
"After this you had better leave me alone."
"I've got some mortar in me eye!" screamed Jack Sagger, dancing
around in pain. "Oh, me eye is burned out!"
"I'm wet to de skin!" said Nick Sammel, with a shiver. "Oh, say,
but it's dead cold, ain't it?"
Waiting to hear no more, Joe ran along the scaffolding and then
leaped through a window of the unfinished building. A street
light now guided him and he came out through the back of the
structure and into an alleyway. From this he made his way to the
"I'll have to hurry," he reasoned. "If they catch me now they
will want to half kill me!"
"Don't let him git away!" he heard Sagger roar. "Catch him!
"Hold on there, you young rascals!" came a voice out of the
darkness. "What are you doing around these buildings?"
A watchman had come on the scene, with a lantern in one hand and
a heavy club in the other.
"We ain't doin' nuthin," said one of the boys.
"Maybe you're the gang that stole that lumber a couple of nights
ago," went on the watchman, coming closer.
"Ain't touched yer lumber," growled Jack Sagger.
"We're after anudder feller wot hid in here," said Sammel.
"That's a likely story. I believe you are nothing but a crowd of
young thieves," grumbled the watchman. "Every night somebody is
trying to steal lumber or bricks, or something. I've a good mind
to make an example of you and have you all locked up."
"We ain't touched a thing!" cried a small boy, and began to back
away in alarm. At once several followed him.
"Here's a barrel of water knocked over and everything in a mess.
You've been skylarking, too. I'm going to have you locked up!"
The watchman made a dash after the boys and the crowd scattered
in all directions. Sagger received a crack on the shoulder that
lamed him for a week, and Sammel tripped and went down, taking
the skin off of the end of his nose.
"Oh, me nose!" he moaned. "It's busted entirely!"
"Run!" cried Sagger. "If you don't you'll be nabbed sure!" And
then the crowd ran with all their speed, scrambling out of the
hole as best they could. They did not stop until they were half
a dozen blocks away and on their way home.
"We made a fizzle of it dat trip," said Sagger, dolefully.
"It's all your fault," growled one of the boys. "I ain't goin'
out wid you again. You promise big things but you never do 'em."
"Oh, Jack 's a gas-bag, dat's wot he is," was the comment of
another, and he walked off by himself. Presently one after
another of the boys followed suit, leaving Jack Sagger to sneak
home, a sadder if not a wiser lad.
DAYS AT THE HOTEL.
"Perhaps those fellows have learned a lesson they won't forget in
a hurry," remarked Frank to Joe, after he learned the particulars
of the attack in the dark.
"I hope they don't molest me further," answered our hero. "If
they'll only let me alone I'll let them alone."
"That Sagger is certainly on the downward path," said Frank. "If
he doesn't look out he'll land in jail."
What Frank said was true, and less than a week later they heard
through another hotel boy that Jack Sagger had been arrested for
stealing some lead pipe out of a vacant residence. The pipe had
been sold to a junkman for thirty cents and the boy had spent the
proceeds on a ticket for a cheap theater and some cigarettes. He
was sent to the House of Correction, and that was the last Joe
heard of him.
With the coming of winter the hotel filled up and Joe was kept
busy from morning to night, so that he had little time for
studying. He performed his duties faithfully and the hotel
proprietor was much pleased in consequence.
"Joe is all right," he said to his cashier, "I can trust him with
"That's so, and he is very gentlemanly, too," replied the
Ulmer Montgomery was still at the hotel. He was now selling
antiquaries, and our hero often watched the fellow with interest.
He suspected that Montgomery was a good deal of a humbug, but
could not prove it.
At length Montgomery told Joe that he was going to the far West
to try his fortunes. The man seemed to like our hero, and the
night before he left the hotel he called Joe into his room.
"I want to make you a present of some books I own," said Ulmer
Montgomery. "Perhaps you'll like to read them. They are
"Thank you, Mr. Montgomery, you are very kind."
"I used to be a book agent, but I gave that up as it didn't pay
me as well as some other things."
"And you had these books left over?"
"Yes. The firm I worked for wouldn't take them back so I had to
"And now you are selling curiosities."
At this Ulmer Montgomery smiled blandly.
"Not exactly, Joe--I only sell curiosities, or antiquities, when
I am hard up. On other occasions I do like other folks, work for
"I don't quite understand."
"I dropped into selling curiosities when I was in the South and
hard up for cash. I wanted money the worst way, and I--well, I
set to work to raise it. Maybe you'd like to hear my story."
"Mind you, I don't pose as a model of goodness and I shouldn't
advise you to follow in my footsteps. But I wanted money and
wanted in badly. So I put on my thinking cap, and I soon learned
of a very zealous antiquary living about five miles from where I
was stopping. He was wealthy and a bachelor, and spent no
inconsiderable portion of his income on curiosities."
"And you went to him?" said Joe, becoming interested.
"I at once determined to take advantage of this gentleman's
antiquarian zeal. I will own that I had some qualms of
conscience--about imposing upon the old gentleman, but I didn't
know of any other way to procure the money I absolutely needed.
"Having made all of my preparations, I set off for Mr. Leland's
house. To disguise myself I put on a pair of big goggles and an
old-fashioned collar and tie.
" 'I understand, Mr. Leland, that you are in the habit of
collecting curiosities,' I said.
" 'Quite right, sir,' said he. 'I have got together some few,'
and he gazed with an air of pride at the nondescript medley which
" 'I have in my possession,' I proceeded, 'two or three of great
value, which I had hoped to retain, but, well, I need money, and
so I must part with them, much as I wish to call them mine. But
I wish to see that they get into the proper hands, and I have
been told that you are a great antiquarian, understanding the
true value of such things, and so--'
" 'Pray, show them to me at once!' cried the old man, eagerly.
" 'I have traveled a good deal, and been a pilgrim in many
climes,' I went on. 'I have wandered along the banks of the
Euphrates and dipped my feet in the currents of the Nile. I have
gazed upon ruined cities--'
" 'Yes! yes! show me what you have!' he cried, eagerly.
" 'Here is a curiosity of the highest order', I said, opening a
paper and showing a bit of salt about the size of a walnut.
'This is a portion of the statue of salt into which Lot's wife
" 'Is it possible?' cried the antiquary, taking the salt and
gazing at it in deep veneration. 'Are you quite certain of this?'
" 'I am,' I answered. 'It is a portion of the wrist. I broke it
off myself. The hand was already gone.' "
"And did he buy it?" questioned Joe, in astonishment.
"He did, and gave me fifty dollars in cash for it."
"But that wasn't fair, Mr. Montgomery."
The seller of bogus curiosities shrugged his shoulders.
"Perhaps not. But I was hard up and had to do something."
"Did you sell him anything else?"
"I did--a walking stick, which I had procured in Connecticut. It
was covered with strange carvings and he mistook them for
hieroglyphics, and gave me ten dollars for the thing."
"I don't see how you could have the nerve to do such things, Mr.
"Well, a man can do lots of things when he is driven to do them.
I admit the deals were rather barefaced, but, as I said before, I
had to do something. Some day, when I am rich, I'll return the
money to the old fellow," added the impostor.
He left the hotel that morning, and it may be said here that Joe
did not meet him again for several years.
Christmas came and went at the hotel, and our hero received
several presents from his friends, including a pair of gloves
from Ned Talmadge and a five-dollar gold piece from Felix
Gussing. Some of the regular boarders at the hotel also
"And how do you like married life?" asked Joe, of Felix Gussing.
"We are getting along very nicely," said the dude.
"Have you told your wife about the duel yet?"
"No,--and I don't think I shall," added Felix Gussing. "You see
she--er--she thinks me a very brave man and--"
"And you don't want her to change her opinion," finished Joe,
with a smile!
"Why should I, Joe."
"Oh, I don't know as there is any reason, excepting that they
usually say men and their wives should have no secrets from each
"Mr. Montgomery is gone, I see," said the dude, changing the
"Then you are the only one who knows of this secret. You won't
tell, will you?"
"We are having troubles enough as it is," went on the dude.
"Both my wife and I find housekeeping rather troublesome. It is
hard to obtain proper servants, and she does not care to do the
"Why don't you go to boarding?"
"Perhaps we will, later on."
With the new year came a heavy fall of snow and soon sleighs big
and little were in demand. Then came a slight fall of rain which
made the sidewalks a glare of ice.
"Got to be careful," announced Frank to Joe. "If you don't
you'll go down on your back."
"I intend to be careful," answered our hero. "I have no wish to
break any bones."
That afternoon Joe was sent on an errand to a place of business
half a mile away. On returning he chanced to stop at a street
corner, to watch a number of children who had made a long slide
As he stood watching, a man came along bundled up in a great coat
and wearing a slouch hat and blue glasses. The man was walking
rapidly, as if in a hurry.
"That fellow looks familiar to me," thought Joe. "Wonder who he
He watched the stranger cross the street. Then the fellow
happened to step on the icy slide and in a twinkling he went down
on his back, his hat flying in one direction and a bundle he
carried in another.
"Hurrah! Down goes the gent!" sang out a newsboy standing near.
"Come here an' I'll pick yer up!" said another street urchin.
"You rascals, you fixed this on purpose so I should fall!" cried
the man, starting to get up.
"Can I help you?" questioned Joe, coming up, and then he gave a
start, as he recognized the fellow.
It was Pat Malone, alias David Ball, from Montana!
ABOUT SOME MINING SHARES.
"How do you do, Mr. Ball?" said our hero, coolly.
"Eh, what's that?" questioned Malone, in amazement. Then he
recognized Joe, and his face fell.
"I have often wondered what became of you," went on our hero.
"Let me help you up."
"I--that is--who are you, boy?" demanded Malone, getting to his
feet and picking up his hat and his bundle.
"You ought to remember me. I am Joe Bodley. I used to work for
Mr. Mallison, at Riverside."
"Don't know the man or the place," said Pat Malone, coolly. "You
have made a mistake."
"Then perhaps I had better call you Malone."
"Not at all. My name is Fry--John Fry."
"How often do you change your name, Mr. Fry."
"Don't get impudent!"
"I am not impudent,--I am only asking a plain question."
"I never change my name."
At that moment Joe saw a policeman on the opposite side of the
street and beckoned for the officer to come over.
"Hi! what's the meaning of this!" ejaculated Pat Malone.
"Officer, I want this man locked up," said Joe, and caught the
rascal by the arm, that he might not run away.
"What's the charge?" asked the bluecoat.
"He is wanted for swindling."
"Boy, are you really crazy?"
"No, I am not."
"Who are you?" asked the policeman, eyeing Joe sharply.
"My name is Joe Bodley. I work at the Grandon House. I will
make a charge against this man, and I'll bring the man who was
"That's fair talk," said the policeman. "I guess you'll both
have to go to the station with me."
"I'm willing," said Joe, promptly.
"I--I cannot go--I have a sick wife--I must get a doctor,"
stammered Pat Malone. "Let me go. The boy is mistaken."
"You'll have to go with me."
"But my sick wife?"
"You can send for your friends and they can take care of her."
"I have no friends--we are strangers in Philadelphia. I don't
want to go."
Pat Malone tried to move on, but the policeman and Joe detained
him, and in the end he was marched off to the police station.
Here Joe told what he knew and Malone's record was looked up in
the Rogues' Gallery.
"You've got the right man, that's sure," said the desk sergeant
to our hero. "Now where can you find this Mr. Maurice Vane?"
"I have his address at the hotel," answered our hero. "If I can
go I'll get it and send Mr. Vane a telegram."
"Bring the address here and we'll communicate with Mr. Vane."
Our hero agreed, and inside of half an hour a message was sent to
Maurice Vane, notifying him of the fact that Pat Malone had been
caught. Mr. Vane had gone to New York on business, but came back
to Philadelphia the next day.
When he saw that he was caught Pat Malone broke down utterly and
made a full confession, telling in detail how the plot against
Maurice Vane had been carried out.
"It was not my plan," said he. "Gaff Caven got the mining shares
and he arranged the whole thing."
"Where did you get the shares--steal them?" demanded Maurice
"No, we didn't steal them. We bought them from an old miner for
fifty dollars. The miner is dead now."
"Can you prove this?"
"Then do so."
"I don't care to answer that question. But if you can prove to
me that you and Caven came by those shares honestly I won't
prosecute you, Malone."
"I will prove it!" was the quick answer, and that very afternoon
Pat Malone proved beyond a doubt that the shares had belonged to
himself and Gaff Caven when they sold them to Maurice Vane.
"That is all I want of you," said Maurice Vane. "I shan't appear
against you, Malone."
"Then those shares must be valuable after all?" queried the
"Perhaps they are. I am having them looked up. I am glad of
this opportunity of proving that they are now my absolute
"If Caven and I sold you good stocks we ought to be kicked full
of holes," grumbled Malone.
"That was your lookout, not mine," returned Maurice Vane. "Mind,
I don't say the shares are valuable. But they may be, and if so
I shall be satisfied with my bargain."
"Humph! where do I come in?"
"You don't come in at all--and you don't deserve to."
"If I didn't swindle you, you can't have me held for swindling."
"I don't intend to have you held. You can go for all I care."
Maurice Vane explained the situation to the police authorities
and that evening Pat Malone was allowed to go. He threatened to
have somebody sued for false imprisonment but the police laughed
"Better not try it on, Malone," said one officer. "Remember,
your picture is in our Rogues' Gallery," and then the rascal was
glad enough to sneak away. The next day he took a train to
Baltimore, where, after an hour's hunt, he found Gaff Caven.
"We made a fine mess of things," he said, bitterly. "A fine
"What are you talking about, Pat?" asked Caven.
"Do you remember the mining stocks we sold to Maurice Vane?"
"Certainly I do."
"Well, he has got 'em yet."
"All right, he can keep them. We have his money too," and Gaff
"I'd rather have the shares."
"I said I'd rather have the shares, Gaff. We put our foot into
it when we sold 'em."
"Do you mean to say the shares are valuable?" demanded Gaff
"That's the size of it."
"Who told you this?"
"Nobody told me, but I can put two and two together as quick as
"I was in Philadelphia when I ran into that hotel boy, Joe
"What of that?"
"He had me arrested. Then they sent for Mr. Maurice Vane, and
Vane made me prove that the shares were really ours when we sold
them to him. I thought I'd go clear if I could prove that, so I
went and did it. Then Vane said he wouldn't prosecute me, for
the shares might be valuable after all."
"But the mine is abandoned."
"Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. I guess Mr. Maurice Vane knows
what he is doing, and we were fools to sell out to him."
"If that mine is valuable I'm going to have it!" cried Gaff
Caven. "He can have his money back!" and the rascal who had
overreached himself began to pace the floor.
"Maybe he won't take his money back."
"Then I'll claim the mine anyway, Pat--and you must help me."
"What can you do?"
"Go out to Montana, just as soon as the weather is fit, and
relocate the mine. If it's any good we can find some fellows to
help us hold it somehow. I'm not going to let this slip into
Maurice Vane's hands without a struggle."
"Talk is cheap, but it takes money to pay for railroad tickets,"
went on Malone.
"I've got the dust, Pat."
"Enough to fight Vane off if he should come West?"
"I think so. I met a rich fellow last week and I got a loan of
four thousand dollars."
"Without security?" and Malone winked suggestively.
"Exactly. Oh, he was a rich find," answered Gaff Caven, and gave
a short laugh.
"I'm willing to go anywhere. I'm tired of things here. It's
getting too warm for comfort."
"Then let us start West next week--after I can finish up a little
"I am willing."
And so the two rascals arranged to do Maurice Vane out of what
had become his lawful property.
THE FIRE AT THE HOTEL.
On the day following the scene at the police station Maurice Vane
stopped at the Grandon House to interview our hero.
"I must thank you for the interest you have taken in this matter,
Joe," said he. "It is not every lad who would put himself out to
such an extent."
"I wanted to see justice done, Mr. Vane," answered our hero,
"Things have taken a sudden change since I saw you last summer,"
went on Maurice Vane. "Perhaps it will be as well if I tell my
"I'd like first rate to hear it."
"After I got those shares of stock I felt that I had been
swindled, and I was very anxious to get hold of the rascals. But
as time went on and I could not locate them I resolved to look
into the deal a little more minutely and see if there was any
chance of getting my money, or a portion of it, back."
"I should have done the same."
"I wrote to a friend out West and he put me in communication with
a mining expert who set to work to find out all about the mine.
The expert sent me word, late in the fall, that the mine was, in
his opinion, located on a vein of gold well worth working."
"What did you do then?"
"I wanted to go West at once and look into the matter personally,
but an aunt died and I had to settle up her estate and see to the
care of her two children, and that held me back. Then winter came
on, and I knew I'd have to let matters rest until spring."
"Are you going out there in the spring?"
"Yes,--as early as possible, too."
"I hope you find the mine a valuable one, Mr. Vane."
"I place great reliance on what the mining expert said, for he is
known as a man who makes no mistakes."
"Then, if the mine proves of value, you'll have gotten a cheap
piece of property after all."
"Won't those swindlers be mad when they hear of this!"
"Most likely, my lad; but they have nobody to blame but
themselves. I bought their shares in good faith, while they sold
them in bad faith."
"Is your title perfectly clear now?"
"Then I hope the mine proves to be worth millions."
"Thank you, my boy."
"I'd like to own a mine like that myself."
"Would you? Well, perhaps you will some day."
"It's not likely. A hotel boy doesn't earn enough to buy a
mine," and our hero laughed.
"If I find the mine worth working and open up for business, how
would you like to go out there and work for me?"
"I'd like it very much, Mr. Vane."
"Very well, I'll bear that in mind," answered the possessor of
the mining shares.
"Why don't you buy up the rest of the mining shares first?"
"I am going to do so--if I can locate them."
"Perhaps the owners will sell cheap."
"I shall explain the situation and make a fair offer. I do not
believe in any underhand work," was the ready answer.
"Then you are not like some men I have met," said Joe, and told
about Ulmer Montgomery and his so-called antiquities.
"That man will never amount to anything, Joe--mark my words. He
will always be a hanger-on as we call them, in the business
"I believe you, sir."
"Honesty pays in the long run. A rogue may make something at the
start but sooner or later he will find himself exposed."
Maurice Vane remained at the hotel for a week and then left to go
to Chicago on business. From that point he was going to Montana
as soon as the weather permitted.
After that several weeks slipped by without anything unusual
happening. During those days Joe fell in again with Felix
"We are going to move to Riverside," said the dude, if such he
may still be called, although he was a good business man. "I
have rented a house there--the old Martin place--and if you ever
come to the town you must visit us."
"Thank you, I will," answered our hero.
"My wife thinks a great deal of you and you must stop at the
house during your stay at Riverside," went on Felix Gussing.
A change came for Joe much quicker than was anticipated. One
night, late in the winter, he was just preparing to retire, when
he smelt smoke. He ran out of his room and to an air shaft and
saw the smoke coming up thickly.
"The hotel must be on fire!" he thought. "If it is, I'll have to
notify the management!"
He jumped rather than ran down the several stairways to the hotel
office. Here he told the proprietor and the cashier. An
examination was made and the fire was located in the laundry.
"Go and awaken all the guests," said Mr. Drew, and Joe ran off to
do as bidden. Other boys did the same, and before long the
guests were hurrying through the hallways and down the elevators
By this time the smoke was coming thickly, and presently a sheet
of flame burst through at the rear of the hotel. The fire alarm
had been given and several engines and a hook-and-ladder company
dashed on the scene.
"Are your guests all out?" demanded a police officer.
"I believe so," answered Mr. Drew.
"I'm going to take a look around," said Joe, and darted upstairs
He visited room after room, only to find them empty. From the
rear of the hotel came the crackling of flames and down in the
street the fire engines were pounding away, sending their streams
of water into the structure.
On the third floor of the building our hero came across an old
lady who was rather queer in her mind. The lady was also lame
and walked with great difficulty.
"Oh, Joseph! what is the trouble?" she cried.
"The hotel is on fire, Mrs. Dalley. Come, let me help you out."
"On fire! Oh, I must save my canary!" And the old lady started
back for her room.
"You haven't got time, Mrs. Dalley. Come with me."
"I cannot let my dear Dick perish!" answered the old lady,
Joe looked along the hall and saw that the flames were moving
swiftly toward the room the old lady had occupied. To enter the
apartment would be highly dangerous.
"You simply can't go after the bird, madam," he said. "Come with
"My bird! my bird!" screamed Mrs. Dalley, and tried to run, or
rather hobble, towards her room, despite the smoke that was now
rolling over her head.
"You must come with me!" exclaimed Joe, and drew her back. She
tried to struggle and then, without warning, fainted in his arms.
The burden was a heavy one, but our hero did not shirk the task
before him. He half dragged and half carried the unconscious
lady to the nearest staircase and almost fell to the bottom.
The smoke on the second floor was so thick he could scarcely see.
But he kept on and went down another flight and reached the
office. He could hardly breathe and the tears were running down
"Hullo there, boy!" came the call of a fireman, as he appeared
through the smoke. "Better get out of here!"
"Help me with this lady," answered Joe.
"A lady! Oh, all right!" And in a moment more the fireman had
Mrs. Dalley over his shoulder and was carrying her out. Joe
came close behind. The lady was taken to a nearby drug store
where she speedily revived.
By the prompt efforts of the fire department only a small portion
of the hotel was burnt. But the whole building was water-soaked,
and all of the boarders had to move out, and then the place was
"Out of a place once again," thought our hero, rather dismally.
"What's to do next?"
This was not an easy question to answer. He looked around for
another opening but, finding none, resolved to pay a visit to
"I can call on the Gussings, and on Ned," he thought. "I know
all of them will be glad to see me. And maybe Mr. Mallison will
be wanting to make some arrangements for next summer. I suppose
he'll run the boats as usual."
"Going to leave Philadelphia, eh?" said Frank. "Do you intend to
come back, Joe?"
"I don't know yet, Frank."
"Well, I wish you luck."
"I wish you the same."
"If you go to work for Mallison this summer, maybe you can get me
a job too."
"I'll remember that," answered our hero.
His preparations were soon made, and then he boarded a train for
Riverside. He did not dream of the surprises in store for him.
THE BLUE BOX AT LAST.
After calling on the Gussings and being invited to remain there
for several days, Joe took himself to Ned Talmadge's residence.
Ned was very glad to see him and had to give all the particulars
of another trip he had made to the West.
"I had a splendid time," said Ned. "I wish you had been along."
"Then you like the West, Ned?"
"Indeed I do,--better than the East."
"Perhaps I'll go West some day," went on our hero, and told his
friend of what Maurice Vane had said.
"I saw some mines while I was out there," continued Ned. "I went
to the very bottom of one mine. I can tell you I felt a bit
shivery, being so far underground."
"I suppose the miners get used to it."
"It would be a joke on those swindlers if that mine should prove
of value," went on Ned, after a pause.
"I hope, for Mr. Vane's sake, it does prove valuable."
"Now your hotel is burnt out, what are you going to do?"
"I haven't made up my mind, Ned. Perhaps I'll come back here, to
work for Mr. Mallison."
"Then we'll be together again next summer. That will suit me."
The boys had a good time together and then Joe said he would like
to pay a visit to his old home on the mountain side. Ned readily
consented to go along.
"But I don't imagine you'll find much of the old cabin left," he
There was still a little ice in the lake, but they rowed to the
spot without great difficulty and made their way to the
It was not an inviting sight and it made Joe feel sober to view
the locality .
"Joe, you never heard anything of that blue box, did you?" asked
Ned, after several minutes of silence.
"It ought to be somewhere in this vicinity."
"It's gone, and that is all there is to it," said our hero, and
gave a long sigh.
The boys tramped around the vicinity for a good half hour, and
then sat down on a hollow log to eat a lunch they had brought
"Let us build a fire beside the old log," said Ned. "It will
help to keep us warm."
Joe was willing and the two boys soon had some leaves and twigs
gathered, and placed some good-sized branches on top to make the
blaze last. Then they began to eat and to warm themselves at the
"This log would make a good hiding-place for some wild animal,"
remarked Ned. "Can anything be inside?"
"It's not likely, Ned. The smoke would drive out any living
"I'm going to get a stick and poke into the log."
Both boys procured sticks and began to poke at the log.
Presently they felt something move and a half-dazed snake came
"There's your animal, Ned!" exclaimed Joe.
"Oh, a snake! Keep him away!" roared Ned, badly frightened.
"He can't hurt you--he is too stiff from the cold," answered our
hero, and quickly dispatched the snake with a stone.
"Do you suppose there are any more in the tree?" asked the rich
boy, still keeping at a distance.
"More than likely. I'll poke around with my stick and see."
"I am not afraid."
Joe's stick had something of a crotch on the end of it and with
this he began to rake among the dead leaves that had blown into
the hollow log. He brought out a great quantity but no more
snakes showed themselves.
"I reckon he was the only one after all, Ned."
"The log is burning!" said Ned, an instant later. "See, the
smoke is coming out of the hollow."
"My stick is caught," said Joe, pulling hard on something. "I
guess--well, I declare!"
He gave a jerk, and from the hollow came a square object, covered
with smoking dirt and leaves.
"What is it?"
"Unless I am mistaken, it is a tin box."
"Oh, Joe, the blue box?"
Joe did not answer for he was brushing the smoking leaves and
dirt from the object. As he cleaned it off he caught sight of
some blue paint. On one end the box was badly charred from the
"It's the blue box, sure enough," said Joe.
"And we came close to burning it up!" groaned Ned. "Oh, Joe, I
am so sorry!"
"It's not your fault, Ned, I was as much to blame as anybody.
But who would look for the box out here?"
"Perhaps some wild animal carried it off."
"That may be."
Joe had the box cleaned off by this time. It was still hot at one
end and smoking. He tried to pull it open, but found it locked.
"The contents will burn up before I can open it!" cried Joe.
He did not know what to do, and in desperation began to pry at
the box with his stick and his jackknife. Then the box broke
open, scattering some half-burnt papers in all directions.
The boys picked the papers up and also a small bag of buckskin.
When Joe opened the bag he found it contained exactly a hundred
dollars in gold.
"That's a nice find," said Ned. "Anyway, you are a hundred
dollars richer than you were."
Joe began to peruse the half-burnt documents but could make
little or nothing out of them. He saw his own name and also that
of a certain William A. Bodley, and an estate in Iowa was
"What do you find, Joe?"
"I can't tell you, Ned. The papers are too badly burnt."
"Let me look at them."
Our hero was willing, and the two boys spent an hour in trying to
decipher the documents.
"It is certainly a puzzle," said the rich boy. "Why not let my
father look over them?"
Joe was willing, and after wrapping up the documents with care,
and pocketing the hundred dollars in gold, Joe led the way back
to the boat. The wreck of the blue box was left behind, for it
was rusty and worthless.
That evening Mr. Talmadge, Ned and Joe spent two hours in going
over the documents and trying to supply the parts which had been
rotted or burnt away. They were only successful in part.
"I do not wish to say much about this, Joe," said Ned's father.
"But it would seem from these papers that you are the son of one
William A. Bodley, who at one time owned a farm in Iowa, in the
township of Millville. Did you ever hear Hiram Bodley speak of
"We might write to the authorities at Millville and see what they
have to say."
"I wish you'd do it. They may pay more attention to you than to
"I'll write at once."
"Father, hadn't Joe better stay here until we get a reply?" put
"He may do so and welcome," answered Mr. Talmadge.
The letter was dispatched the next day and our hero waited
anxiously for the reply. It came five days later and was as
"Your letter of inquiry received. There was a William A. Bodley
in this township twelve years ago. He sold his farm to a man
named Augustus Greggs and then disappeared. Before he sold out
he lost his wife and several children by sickness. Nobody here
seems to know what became of him.
"That is short and to the point," said Mr. Talmadge, "but it is
not satisfying. It does not state if this William A. Bodley had
any relatives so far as known."
"I guess the authorities did not want to bother about the
matter," said Joe.
"Why don't you visit Millville, Joe?" questioned Ned.
"I was thinking I could do that. It wouldn't cost a fortune, and
I've got that hundred dollars in gold to fall back on, besides my
"You might learn something to your advantage," came from Mr.
Talmadge. "I think it would be money well spent."
"Father, can't I go with Joe?" asked Ned.
"No, Ned, you must attend to your school duties."
"Then, Joe, you must send me full particulars by mail," said the
"Of course I'll do that, Ned," replied our hero.
It was arranged that Joe should leave Riverside on Monday and Ned
went to the depot to see him off.
"I wish you the best of luck, Joe!" called out Ned, as the train
left the station. "I don't know of a fellow who deserves better
luck than you do!"
JOE VISITS CHICAGO.
Joe found Millville a sleepy town of three or four hundred
inhabitants. There was one main street containing two blocks of
stores, a blacksmith shop, a creamery and two churches.
When he stepped off the train our hero was eyed sharply by the
loungers about the platform.
"Anything I can' do for you?" asked one of the men, the driver of
the local stage.
"Will you tell me where Mr. Joseph Korn lives?"
"Joe lives up in the brown house yonder. But he ain't home now.
He's doing a job of carpentering."
"Can you tell me where?"
"Up to the Widow Fallow's place. Take you there for ten cents."
"Very well," and our hero jumped into the rickety turnout which
went by the name of the Millville stage.
The drive was not a long one and soon they came to a halt in
front of a residence where a man wearing a carpenter's apron was
mending a broken-down porch.
"There's Joe," said the stage driver, laconically.
The man looked up in wonder when Joe approached him. He dropped
his hammer and stood with his arms on his hips.
"This is Mr. Joseph Korn, I believe?"
"That's me, young man."
"I am Joe Bodley. You wrote to Mr. Talmadge, of Riverside, a few
days ago. I came on to find out what I could about a Mr. William
A. Bodley who used to live here."
"Oh, yes! Well, young man, I can't tell you much more 'n I did in
that letter. Bodley sold out, house, goods and everything, and
left for parts unknown."
"Did he have any relatives around here?"
"Not when he left. He had a wife and three children--a girl and
two boys--but they died."
"Did you ever hear of any relatives coming to see him--a man
named Hiram Bodley?"
"Not me--but Augustus Greggs--who bought his farm--might know
"I'll take you to the Greggs' farm for ten cents," put in the
Again a bargain was struck, and a drive of ten minutes brought
them to the farm, located on the outskirts of Millville. They
found the farm owner at work by his wood pile, sawing wood. He
was a pleasant appearing individual.
"Come into the house," he said putting down his saw. "I'm glad
to see you," and when our hero had entered the little farmhouse
he was introduced to Mrs. Greggs and two grown-up sons, all of
whom made him feel thoroughly at home.
"To tell the truth," said Mr. Greggs, "I did not know William
Bodley very well. I came here looking for a farm and heard this
was for sale, and struck a bargain with him."
"Was he alone at that time?" questioned Joe.
"He was, and his trouble seemed to have made him a bit queer--not
but what he knew what he was doing."
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