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CHAPTER XII TONY STARTS OUT ONCE MORE
After Rudolph’s seizure Ben discovered the bags of gold in the hands of the tramp.

Give me my money!” he shrieked.

It’s safe, Ben,” said one of the captors. “But who would have supposed you had so much money?”

“It isn’t much,” faltered the old man.

The bags are pretty heavy,” was the significant rejoinder. “Will you take two hundred dollars apiece for them?”

“No,” said the old man, embarrassed.

Then there is considerable after all. But never mind. Take better care of them hereafter.”

Ben stooped to pick up the bags. He had got hold of them when the tramp aimed a kick at him which completely upset him.

Even though he fell, however, he did not lose his grip of the bags, but clung to them while crying with pain.

Take that, you old fool!” muttered the tramp. “It’s the first installment of the debt I owe you.”

“Take him away, take him away! He will murder me!” exclaimed old Ben, in terror.

Come along. You’ve done mischief enough,” said his captors, sternly, forcing the tramp along.

I’ll do more yet,” muttered Rudolph.

He turned to Tony, who stood at a little distance.

I’ve got a score to settle with you, young traitor.”

“I’m sorry for you, Rudolph,” said Tony; “but you’ve brought it on yourself.”

“Bah! you hypocrite!” retorted the tramp. “I don’t want any of your sorrow. It won’t save you when the day of reckoning comes.”

He was not allowed to say more, but was hurried away to the village lockup for detention.

Dr. Compton was among the party who had been summoned by Tony. He lingered behind, and took Ben apart.

Mr. Hayden,” he said, “I want to give you a piece of advice.”

“What is it?” asked the old man.

Don’t keep this gold in your house. It isn’t safe.”

“Who do you think will take it?” asked Ben.

None of those here this morning, unless this tramp should escape from custody.”

“If he don’t, what danger is there?”

“It will get about that you have money secreted here, and I venture to say it will be stolen before three months are over.”

“It will kill me,” said Ben piteously.

Then put it out of reach of danger.”

“Where?”

“I am going over to the county town, where there is a bank. Deposit it there, and whenever you want any go and get it.”

“But banks break sometimes,” said Ben, in alarm.

This is an old established institution. You need not be afraid of it.”

“But I can’t see the money—I can’t count it.”

“You can see the deposit record in a book. Even if that doesn’t suit you as well, you can sleep comfortably, knowing that you are not liable to be attacked and murdered by burglars.”

The old man vacillated, but finally yielded to the force of the doctor’s reasoning. A day or two later he rode over to the neighboring town, and saw his precious gold deposited in the vaults of the bank.

We are anticipating, however.

When the confusion incident to the arrest was over, Tony came forward.

“Mr. Hayden,” he said, “you are so much better that I think you can spare me now.”

“But suppose Rudolph comes back.”

“I don’t think he can. He will be put in prison.”

“I suppose he will. What a bold, bad man.”

“Yes, he is a bad man, but I’m sorry for him.”

“How did you come to be with him?”

“I don’t know, I have been with him as long as I can remember. You used to know him, didn’t you?”

“A little,” said the old man hastily.

Where was it?”

“In England—long ago.”

“In England. Was he born in England?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think I am English, too?”

“I think so; yes, I think so,” answered Ben cautiously.

Have you any idea who I am—who were my parents?”

“Don’t trouble me now,” said Ben peevishly. “I am not well. My head is confused. Some day I will think it over and tell you what I know.”

“But if I am not here?”

“I will write it down, and give it to the doctor.”

“That will do,” said Tony. “I know he will keep it for me. Now, good-by.”

“Are you going?”

“Yes, I have my own way to make in the world. I can’t live on you any longer.”

“To be sure not,” said Ben. “I am too poor to feed two persons, and you have a very large appetite.”

“Yes,” said Tony, laughing, “I believe I have a healthy appetite. I’m growing, you know.”

“It must be that. What is your name?”

“That is more than I know. I have always been called Tony, or Tony the Tramp. Rudolph’s last name is Rugg, and he pretends that I am his son.”

“You are not his son. He never had any son.”

“I am glad to hear that. I shan’t have to say now that my father is in jail. Good-by, Mr. Hayden.”

“Good-by,” said Ben, following the boy thoughtfully with his eyes, till he had disappeared.

With a light heart, and a pocket still lighter, Tony walked on for several miles. Then he stopped at a country grocery store, and bought five cents’ worth of crackers. These he ate with a good appetite, slaking his thirst at a wayside spring.

He was lying carelessly on the greensward when a tin peddler’s cart drove slowly along the road.

Hello, there!” said the peddler.

Hello!” said Tony.

Do you want a lift?”

“Yes,” said Tony, with alacrity.

Then get up here. There’s room enough for both of us. You can hold the reins when I stop anywhere.”

“It’s a bargain,” said Tony.

Are you travelin’ for pleasure?”

“On business,” said Tony.

What is your business?”

“I want to find work,” said Tony.

You’re a good, stout youngster. You’d ought to get something to do.”

“So I think,” said Tony.

Got any folks?”

“If you mean wife and children, I haven’t,” answered our hero, with a smile.

Ho, ho!” laughed the peddler. “I guess not. I mean father or mother, uncles or aunts, and such like.”

“No, I am alone in the world.”

“Sho! you don’t say so. Well, that’s a pity. Why, I’ve got forty-’leven cousins and a mother-in-law to boot. I’ll sell her cheap.”

“Never mind!” said Tony.

“I’ll tell you what,” said the peddler, “I feel interested in you. I’ll take you round with me for a day or two, and maybe I can get you a place. What do you say?”

“Yes, and thank you,” said Tony.

Then it’s settled. Gee up, Dobbin!”


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