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CHAPTER IV SETTING A TRAP
At half-past five Tony got up. He would have liked to remain in bed two hours longer, but there was no chance for late resting at the farmhouse. Rudolph, too, was awakened by Abner, and the two tramps took their seats at the breakfast table with the rest of the family.

Rudolph furtively scowled at Tony. To him he attributed the failure of his plans the night before, and he was furious against him—the more so that he did not dare to say anything in presence of the farmer’s family.

Where are you going to-day?” asked the farmer, addressing Rudolph.

I am going to walk to Crampton. I may get employment there.”

“It is twelve miles away. That is a good walk.”

“I don’t mind for myself. I mind it for my son,” said Rudolph hypocritically.

He can stay here till you come back,” said the farmer’s wife hospitably.

If you’re willing to have him, I’ll leave him for one more night,” said Rudolph. “It’ll do him good to rest.”

“He can stay as well as not,” said the farmer. “When are you coming back?”

“Perhaps to-night. But I think not till to-morrow.”

“Don’t trouble yourself about your son. He will be safe here.”

“You are very kind,” said the elder tramp. “Tony, thank them good people for their kindness to you.”

“I do thank them,” said Tony, glancing uneasily at the other.

When breakfast was over, Rudolph took his hat and said:

“I’ll get started early. I have a long walk before me.”

Tony sat still, hoping that he would not be called upon to join him. But he was destined to be disappointed.

Come and walk a piece with me, Tony,” said Rudolph. “You needn’t walk far.”

Reluctantly Tony got his hat and set out with him.

As long as they were in sight and hearing, Rudolph spoke to him gently, but when they were far enough for him to throw off the mask safely he turned furiously upon the boy.

Now, you young rascal,” he said roughly, “tell me why you did not obey me last night.”

“It wasn’t safe,” said Tony. “We should both have been caught.”

“Why should we? Wasn’t the man asleep?”

“He stirred in his sleep. If I had moved about much, or opened the door, it would have waked him up.”

“You are a coward,” sneered Rudolph. “When I was of your age I wouldn’t have given up a job so easily. Such men sleep sound. No matter if they do move about, they won’t wake up. If you had had a little more courage we should have succeeded last night in capturing the money.”

“I wish you’d give it up, Rudolph,” said Tony earnestly.

You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said the tramp harshly. “You’re a milksop. The world owes us a living, and we must call for it.”

“I’d rather work than steal.”

“There’s no work to be had, and we must have money. More depends on it than you think. But we’ve got one more night to work in.”

“What do you mean to do?” asked Tony uneasily.

Thanks to my management, you will sleep in the same room to-night. Look round the house during the day; see if the key’s in the desk. If you can get hold of the money, all the better. In that case, come and hide it in that hollow tree, and we can secure it after the hue and cry is over. Do you hear?”

“Yes.”

“But if there is no chance of that, look out for me at midnight. I will throw gravel against your window as a signal. When you hear it, steal downstairs, with your shoes in your hands, and open the door to me. I will attend to the rest. And mind,” he added sternly, “I shall take no excuses.”

“Suppose I am caught going downstairs?”

“Say you are taken sick. It will be easy enough to make an excuse.”

“Are you going to Crampton?” asked Tony.

Of course not. Do you think I am such a fool as to take a long walk like that?”

“You said you were going.”

“Only to put them off the scent. I shall hide in yonder wood till night. Then I will find my way back to the farmhouse.”

“Do you want me to go any further with you?”

“No; you can go back now if you want to. Don’t forget my directions.”

“I will remember them,” said Tony quietly.

The two parted company, and Tony walked slowly back to the farm. He was troubled and perplexed. He was in a dilemma, and how to get out of it he did not know.

It was not the first time that he thought over his relations to Rudolph.

As far back as he could remember he had been under the care of this man. Sometimes the latter had been away for months, leaving him in the charge of a woman whose appearance indicated that she also was of gypsy descent. He had experienced hunger, cold, neglect, but had lived through them all, tolerably contented. Now, however, he saw that Rudolph intended to make a criminal of him, and he was disposed to rebel. That his guardian was himself a thief, he had reason to know. He suspected that some of his periodical absences were spent inside prison walls. Would he be content to follow his example?

Tony answered unhesitatingly, “No.” Whatever the consequences might be, he would make a stand there. He had reason to fear violence, but that was better than arrest and imprisonment. If matters came to the worst, he would run away.

When he had come to a decision he felt better. He returned to the farm, and found Abner just leaving the yard with a hoe in his hand.

Where are you going?” he asked.

To the cornfield.”

“May I go with you?”

“If you want to.”

So Tony went out to the field with the stalwart “hired man,” and kept him company through the forenoon.

That’s easy work,” said Tony, after a while.

Do you think you can do it?”

“Let me try.”

Tony succeeded tolerably well, but he could not get over the ground so fast as Abner.

Why don’t you hire out on a farm?” asked Abner, as he took back the hoe.

I would if I could,” answered Tony.

Why can’t you? Won’t your father let you?”

“He wants me to go round with him,” answered Tony.

Wouldn’t he take me instead of you?” asked Abner, grinning. “I’d like to travel round and see the world. You could stay here and do the farm work.”

“If he and the farmer agree to the change, I will,” answered Tony, with a smile.

At noon they went back to the farmhouse to dinner. Tony stared with astonishment at the quantity of food Abner made away with. He concluded that farm work was favorable to the appetite.

The afternoon passed rapidly away, and night came. Again Tony went up to the attic to share Abner’s room. He got nervous as the night wore on. He knew what was expected of him, and he shrank from Rudolph’s anger. He tried to go to sleep, but could not.

At last the expected signal came. There was a rattling of gravel stones upon the window.

Shall I lie here and take no notice?” thought Tony.

In this case Rudolph would continue to fling gravel stones, and Abner might wake up. He decided to go to the window and announce his determination.

When Rudolph saw him appear at the window, he called out:

“Come down quick, and open the door.”

“I would rather not,” answered Tony.

You must!” exclaimed Rudolph, with a terrible oath. “If you dare to refuse I’ll flay you alive.”

“I can’t do it,” said Tony, pale, but resolute. “You have no right to ask it of me.”

Just then Tony was startled by a voice from the bed:

“Is that your father? What does he want?”

“I would rather not tell,” said Tony.

You must!” said Abner sternly.

He wants me to open the door and let him into the house,” Tony confessed reluctantly.

What for?”

“He wants to get your master’s money.”

“Ho, ho!” said Abner. “Well, we’ll go down and let him in.”

“What!” exclaimed Tony, in surprise.

Call from the window that you will be down directly.”

“I don’t want to get him into trouble.”

“You must, or I shall think you are a thief, too.”

Thus constrained, Tony called out that he would come down at once.

I thought you’d think better of it,” muttered Rudolph. “Hurry down, and waste no time.”

Five minutes later Abner and Tony crept downstairs, the former armed with a tough oak stick.



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