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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » Tony The Tramp;Or Right is Might » CHAPTER III RUDOLPH’S DISAPPOINTMENT
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CHAPTER III RUDOLPH’S DISAPPOINTMENT
Abner slept in a large room in the attic. It had been roughly partitioned off, and was not even plastered. The beams were plainly visible. Upon nails which had been driven into them hung Abner’s limited wardrobe. There were two cot beds in the room, as a part of the year the farmer employed more than one hired man.

You can sleep there, youngster,” said Abner, pointing to one of the beds. “This is my bed.”

“Thank you,” said Tony politely.

I s’pose you’ve traveled round considerable,” said Abner, with curiosity.

Yes, a good deal.”

“Do you like it?”

“No; I’m tired of it.”

“How do you make your livin’?”

“As we can. We often go hungry.”

“Why don’t your father settle down somewhere?”

Tony thought of disclaiming the relationship implied, but he reflected that Rudolph would be angry, and merely answered:

“He prefers to travel round.”

“Was you ever in New York?” asked Abner.

Do you mean the city of New York? Yes.”

“I’d like to see it,” said Abner, regarding Tony with new respect. “I’ve heard a sight about it. It’s powerful big, isn’t it?”

“It’s very large.”

“There’s as many as a thousand houses, isn’t there?”

“There’s a hundred thousand, I should think,” answered Tony.

Sho! you don’t say so!” exclaimed Abner, awestruck. “I’d like to go there.”

“Didn’t you ever visit the city?”

“No; I never traveled any. I never was more’n fifteen miles from home. Dad wouldn’t let me. When I’m a man, I’m bound to see the world.”

“Ain’t you a man now?” inquired Tony, surveying his herculean proportions with astonishment.

No; I’m only eighteen.”

“You’re as big as a man.”

“Yes, I’m pooty big,” said Abner, with a complacent grin. “I can do a man’s work.”

“I should think you might. I thought you were more than four years older than me. I’m fourteen.”

“I guess I weigh twice as much as you.”

“I’m not small for my age,” said Tony jealously.

Maybe not. I’m a regular bouncer. That’s what dad says. Why, I’m half as big again as he is.”

“Does he ever lick you?” asked Tony, smiling.

I’d like to see him try it,” said Abner, bursting into a roar of laughter. “He’d have to get upon a milkin’ stool. Does your dad lick you?”

“No,” answered Tony shortly.

He looks as if he might sometimes. He’s kinder fractious-looking.”

Tony did not care to say much on the subject of Rudolph. He felt that it was his policy to be silent. If he said anything he might say too much, and if it got to Rudolph’s ears, the man’s vindictive temper would make it dangerous for him.

We get along pretty well,” he said guardedly. “Do you get up early?”

“Four o’clock. You won’t have to, though.”

“What time do you get breakfast?”

“Half-past five, after I’ve milked and done the chores. You must be up by that time, or you won’t get anything to eat.”

“That’s pretty early,” thought Tony. “I don’t see the use of getting up so early.”

“I guess I’ll go to sleep,” said Abner. “I’m tuckered out.”

“Good-night,” said Tony.

Good-night.”

The young giant turned over, closed his eyes, and in five minutes was asleep.

Tony did not compose himself to sleep so readily, partly because Abner began to snore in a boisterous manner, partly because he felt disturbed by the thought of the treachery which Rudolph required at his hands.

Tony was only a tramp, but he had an instinct of honor in him. In the farmhouse he had been kindly treated and hospitably entertained. He felt that it would be very mean to steal down in the dead of night and open the door to his companion in order that he might rob the unsuspecting farmer of his money. On the other hand, if he did not do this he knew that he would be severely beaten by Rudolph.

Why am I tied to this man?” he thought. “What chance is there of my ever being anything but a tramp while I stay with him?”

He had thought this before now, but the circumstances in which he now found himself placed made the feeling stronger. He had been often humiliated by being forced to beg from door to door, by the thought that he was a vagrant, and the companion of a vagrant, but he had not been urged to actual crime until now. He knew enough to be aware that he ran the risk of arrest and imprisonment if he obeyed Rudolph. On the other hand, if he refused he was sure of a beating.

What should he do?

It was certainly a difficult question to decide, and Tony debated it in his own mind for some time. Finally he came to a determination. Rudolph might beat him, but he would not be guilty of this treachery.

He felt better after he had come to this resolve, and, the burden being now off his mind, he composed himself to sleep.

He did not know how long he slept, but he had a troubled dream. He thought that in compliance with his companion’s order he rose and opened the door to him. While Rudolph was opening the farmer’s desk, he thought that heavy steps were heard and Abner and the farmer entered the room, provided with a lantern. He thought that Rudolph and himself were overpowered and bound. Just as he reached this part he awoke, and was reassured by hearing Abner’s heavy breathing.

I’m glad it’s a dream,” he thought, breathing a sigh of relief.

At this instant his attention was called by a noise upon the panes of the only window in the room.

He listened, and detected the cause.

Some one was throwing gravel stones against it.

It’s Rudolph,” he thought instantly. “He’s trying to call my attention.”

He thought of pretending to be asleep, and taking no notice of the signal. But he feared Abner would awake, and ascertain the meaning of it. He decided to go to the window, show himself, and stop the noise if he could.

He rose from his bed, and presented himself at the window. Looking down, he saw the dark figure of Rudolph leaning against the well curb, with his eyes fixed on the window.

Oh, you’re there at last!” growled Rudolph. “I thought I’d never wake you up. Is the man asleep?”

“Yes,” said Tony.

Then come down and let me in.”

“I would rather not,” said Tony, uneasily.

What’s the fool afraid of?” answered Rudolph, in a low, menacing tone.

The man might wake up.”

“No danger. Such animals always sleep heavily. There’s no danger, I tell you.”

“I don’t want to do it,” said Tony. “It would be mean. They’ve treated me well, and I don’t want to help rob them.”

“Curse the young idiot!” exclaimed Rudolph, in low tones of concentrated passion. “Do you mean to disobey me?”

“I can’t do as you wish, Rudolph. Ask me anything else.”

“I wish I could get at him!” muttered Rudolph, between his teeth. “He never dared to disobey me before. Once more! Will you open the door to me?” demanded Rudolph.

Tony bethought himself of an expedient. He might pretend that Abner was waking up.

Hush!” he said, in feigned alarm. “The man is waking up. Get out of sight quick.”

He disappeared from the window, and Rudolph, supposing there was really danger of detection, hurriedly stole away to the barn, where he had been permitted to lodge.

He came out half an hour later, and again made the old signal, but this time Tony did not show himself. He had made up his mind not to comply with the elder tramp’s demands, and it would do no good to argue the point.

I wish I knew whether he was asleep, or only pretending, the young rascal,” muttered Rudolph. “I must manage to have him stay here another night. That money must and shall be mine, and he shall help to get it for me.”



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