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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » Tony The Tramp;Or Right is Might » CHAPTER X RUDOLPH’S UNEXPECTED DEFEAT
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CHAPTER X RUDOLPH’S UNEXPECTED DEFEAT
“Has Rudolph tracked me, or is it only accident that has brought him here?”

This was the thought which naturally suggested itself to our hero, as in a very disturbed state of mind he stared at Rudolph through the uncertain light.

Tony felt the difficulties of the position. Not only would the gold be taken, but, he, too, would fall into the power of the tramp.

Old Ben had not yet discovered the sinister face at the window. He was too busily occupied with his pleasant employment of counting over his gold.

But he was speedily aroused by the noise of the window being raised from the outside.

Then he turned with a startled look, which quickly deepened into astonishment and dismay, as he caught the lowering look fixed upon him. There was more than this. There was recognition besides.

You here?” he gasped.

Yes, Ben, it’s me. May I come in?”

“No, no!” ejaculated the old man hastily.

I think I must,” returned the tramp, in the same mocking tone. “I came to see you as an old friend, but I never dreamed you were so rich.”

“Rich!” repeated Ben. “I’m very poor.”

“That looks like it.”

“It’s only a few dollars—enough to bury me.”

“Very well, Ben, I’ll take charge of it, and when you need burial I’ll attend to it. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

Rudolph, who had paused outside, now raised the window to its full height, and, despite the old man’s terrified exclamations, bounded lightly into the room.

Help! help! thieves!” screamed Ben.

Hold your jaw, you driveling old idiot!” said Rudolph, “or I’ll give you something to yell about.”

“Help, Tony, help!” continued the old man.

The tramp’s eyes, following the direction of Ben’s, discovered our hero on his rude bed in the corner.

Ho, ho!” he laughed, with a mirth that boded ill to Tony, “so I’ve found you at last, have I? You served me a nice trick the other day, didn’t you?”

“I hoped I should never set eyes on you again.”

“I’ve no doubt you did. You undertook to run away from me, did you? I knew I should come across you sooner or later.”

While this conversation was going on Ben glanced from one to the other in surprise, his attention momentarily drawn away from his own troubles.

Do you know this boy, Rudolph?” he inquired.

I should think I did,” answered the tramp grimly.

Who is he?” asked Ben, evidently excited.

What’s that to you?” returned Rudolph. “It’s a boy I picked up, and have taken care of, and this is his gratitude to me. A few days since he ran away from me, and I’ve had a long chase to find him.”

“Is this true?” asked Ben, turning to Tony.

Some of it is true,” said our hero. “I’ve been with him ever since I could remember, and I ran away because he wanted me to join him in robbing a house. He calls me his son, but I know he is not my father.”

“How do you know?” demanded the tramp sternly.

Didn’t you say so just now?”

“It was none of the old man’s business, and I didn’t care what I told him.”

“There’s something within me tells me that there’s no relationship between us,” said Tony boldly.

Is there, indeed? Is there anything within you tells you you are going to get a good flogging?”

“No, there isn’t.”

“Then you needn’t trust it, for that is just what is going to happen.”

He advanced toward Tony in a threatening manner, when he was diverted from his purpose by seeing the old man hastily gathering up the gold. Punishment could wait, he thought, but the gold must be secured now.

Not so fast, Ben!” he said. “You must lend me some of that.”

“I can’t,” said Ben, hurrying all the faster. “It’s all I have, and I am very poor.”

“I am poorer still, for I haven’t a red to bless myself with. Come, I won’t take all, but some I must have.”

He stooped over and began to grasp at the gold pieces, some of which were heaped up in piles upon the floor.

Even the weakest are capable of harm when exasperated, and Ben was gifted with preternatural strength when he saw himself likely to lose the hoards of a lifetime, and his anger rose to fever heat against the scoundrel whom he had known years before.

With a cry like that of a wild beast, he sprang upon the tramp, who, in his crouching position, was unable to defend himself against a sudden attack. Rudolph fell backward, striking his head with great force against the brick hearth and he lay insensible, with the blood gushing from a wound in his head.

The old man stood appalled at the consequence of his sudden attack.

Have I killed him? Shall I be hanged?”

“No, he’s only stunned,” said Tony, with all his wits about him. “We have no time to lose.”

“To run away? I can’t leave my gold,” said Ben.

I don’t mean that. We must secure him. Have you got some stout cord?”

“Yes, yes,” said Ben, beginning to understand our hero’s design. “Stay, I’ll get it right away.”

“You’d better, for he may come to at any minute.”

The old man fumbled round until in some out-of-the-way corner he discovered a quantity of stout cord.

The boy set to work with rapid hands to tie the prostrate tramp hand and foot.

How brave you are,” exclaimed the old man, admiringly. “I wouldn’t dare to touch him.”

“Nor I, if he were awake. I didn’t think you were so strong. He went over as if he were shot.”

“Did he?” asked the old man, bewildered.

It’s lucky for us you threw yourself upon him as you did. A little more cord, Mr. Hayden. I want to tie him securely. You’d better be gathering up that gold, and putting it away before he comes to.”

Scarcely was the money put away in its place of concealment when the tramp recovered from his fit of unconsciousness, and looked stupidly around him. Then he tried to move, and found himself hampered by his bonds. Looking up, he met the terrified gaze of old Ben, and the steady glance of Tony. Then the real state of the case flashed upon him, and he was filled with an overpowering rage at the audacity of his late charge, to whom he rightly attributed his present humiliating plight.


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