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CHAPTER XV RUDOLPH ESCAPES
Leaving Tony for a short time, we must return to Rudolph, whom we left in charge of a self-constituted body of police on his way to the lockup.

When first arrested Rudolph was disposed to be violent and abusive. His disappointment was keen, for he was just congratulating himself on the possession of the miser’s gold. Five minutes later, and he would probably have been able to make good his escape. Mingled with his disappointment was a feeling of intense hostility against Tony for his part in defeating his plans.

I’ll be revenged upon him yet,” he muttered.

They reached the lockup and he was led in. A small oil lamp was lighted and set on the floor.

Where are the handcuffs?” asked one of the captors.

I don’t know. They haven’t been needed for so long that they have been mislaid.”

“They won’t be needed now. The man can’t get out.”

Rudolph’s face betrayed satisfaction.

There’s your bed,” said Moses Hunt, who had Rudolph by the arm, pointing to a rude cot.

Rudolph threw himself upon it.

I’m dead tired,” he said, and closed his eyes.

The door was locked and Rudolph was left alone.

When five minutes had elapsed—time enough for his captors to get away—he got up.

I must get away from this if I can,” thought the tramp, “and before morning. I am glad they didn’t put on handcuffs. Let me see, how shall I manage it?”

He looked about him thoughtfully.

It was a basement room, lighted only by windows three feet wide and a foot high.

I should like to set fire to the building, and burn it up,” thought the tramp. “That would cost them something. But it wouldn’t be safe. Like as not I would be burned up myself, or at any rate be taken again in getting away. No, no! that won’t do. I wonder if I can’t get through one of those windows?”

He stood on the chair, and as the room was low-ceiled he found he could easily reach the windows.

He shook them and found to his joy that it would be a comparatively easy thing to remove one of them.

What fools they are!” he muttered contemptuously. “Did they really expect to keep me here?”

He removed the window, and by great effort succeeded in raising himself so that he might have a chance of drawing himself through the aperture. It did not prove so easy as he expected. He did, however, succeed at length, and drew a long breath of satisfaction as he found himself once more in the possession of his liberty.

I’m a free man once more,” he said. “What next?”

He would have been glad to return to the miser’s house and possess himself of some of his gold, but the faint gray of dawn was already perceptible, and there was too much risk attending it.

Moreover, prudence dictated his putting as great a distance as possible between himself and the village.

The hundred miles intervening between New York and that place he got over in his usual way, begging a meal at one house and a night’s lodging at another. He was never at a loss for a plausible story. At one place, where he was evidently looked upon with suspicion, he said:

“I ain’t used to beggin’. I’m a poor, hard-workin’ man, but I’ve heard that my poor daughter is sick in New York, and I want to get to her.”

“What took her to New York?” asked the farmer whom he addressed.

She went to take a place in a store.”

“I’m sorry for you,” said the farmer’s wife, sympathizingly. “Ephraim, can’t we help along this poor man?”

“If we can believe him. There’s many impostors about.”

“I hope you don’t take me for one,” said Rudolph meekly. “Poor Jane; what would she think if she knew her poor father was so misunderstood.”

“Poor man! I believe you,” said the farmer’s wife. “You shall sleep in Jonathan’s bed. He’s away now.”

So Rudolph was provided with two abundant meals and a comfortable bed. The farmer’s wife never doubted his story, though she could not help feeling that his looks were not prepossessing.

A few days later he was in New York. As a general thing he shunned the city, for he was already known to the police, and he felt that watchful eyes would be upon him as soon as it was known that he was back again.

On the second day he strolled into a low drinking place in the lower part of the city.

A man in shirt sleeves, and with an unhealthy complexion, was mixing drinks behind the bar.

“Hello, Rudolph! Back again?” was his salutation.

Yes,” said the tramp, throwing himself down in a seat.

Where have you been?”

“Tramping round the country.”

“Where’s the boy you used to have with you?”

“Run away; curse him!”

“Got tired of your company, eh?”

“He wants to be honest and respectable.”

“And he thought he could learn better under another teacher, did he?” said the bartender, with a laugh.

Yes, I suppose so. I’d like to wring his neck.”

“You’re no friend to the honest and respectable, then.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Then, there’s no love lost, for they don’t seem to fancy you. What’ll you have to drink?”

“I’ve got no money.”

“I’ll trust. You’ll have some sometime.”

“Give me some whisky, then,” said the tramp.

The whisky was placed in his hands. He gulped it down, and breathed a sigh of satisfaction.

Then resuming his seat, he took up a morning paper. At first he read it listlessly, but soon his face assumed a look of eager interest.

This was the paragraph that arrested his attention:

“Should this meet the eye of Rudolph Rugg, who left England in the fall of 1887, he is requested to communicate with Jacob Morris, attorney at law, Room 1,503, No. —?— Nassau street.”

Rudolph rose hurriedly.

Going?” asked the bartender.

Yes; I’ll be back again soon.”


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