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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » Tony The Tramp;Or Right is Might » CHAPTER XXII “I HOLD YOU TO THE BOND”
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CHAPTER XXII “I HOLD YOU TO THE BOND”
On reaching New York, Rudolph made his way at once to the shop from which he had obtained his Quaker dress.

Has thee come back?” asked the old man, in a jocular tone.

Yea, verily,” answered Rudolph.

How do you like being a Quaker?”

“I’ve had enough of it. I want you to take them back. You promised to return me twenty-five dollars.”

“Let me look at them,” said the old man, cautiously. “They’ve seen hard usage,” he said. “Look at that rip, and that spot.”

“Humbug!” answered Rudolph. “There’s nothing but what you can set straight in half an hour, and five dollars is handsome pay for that.”

But the old man stood out for seven, and finally the tramp, though grumbling much, was obliged to come to his terms.

Where have you been?” asked the old man, whose curiosity was aroused as to what prompted Rudolph to obtain the disguise.

That’s my business,” said Rudolph, who had his reasons for secrecy, as we know.

I meant no offense—I only wondered if you left the city.”

“Yes, I’ve been into New Jersey,” answered the tramp, who thought it politic to put the costumer on the wrong scent. “You see, I’ve got an old uncle—a Quaker—living there. The old man’s got plenty of money, and I thought if I could only make him think me a good Quaker, I should stand a good chance of being remembered in his will.”

“I see—a capital idea. Did it work?”

“I can’t tell yet. He gave me four dollars and his blessing for the present,” said Rudolph, carelessly.

That’s a lie, every word of it!” said the old man to himself, after the tramp went out. “You must try to fix up a more probable story next time, Mr. Rudolph. He’s been up to some mischief, probably. However, it’s none of my business. I’ve made seven dollars out of him, and that pays me well—yes, it pays me well.”

When Rudolph left the costumer’s, it occurred to him that the tramp’s dress which he had resumed had better be changed, partly because he thought it probable that a journey lay before him. He sought out a large readymade clothing establishment on Broadway, and with the money which had been returned to him obtained a respectable-looking suit, which quite improved his appearance. He regarded his reflection in a long mirror with considerable satisfaction. He felt that he would now be taken for a respectable citizen, and that in discarding his old dress he had removed all vestiges of the tramp. In this, however, he was not wholly right. His face and general expression he could not change. A careful observer could read in them something of the life he had led. Still, he was changed for the better, and it pleased him.

Now,” he reflected, “I had better go and see Mrs. Harvey Middleton. I have done the work, and I shall claim the reward.”

He hurried to the St. Regis, and, experienced now in the ways of obtaining access to a guest, he wrote his name on a card and sent it up.

The lady will see you,” was the answer brought back by the servant.

Of course she will,” thought Rudolph. “She’ll want to know whether it’s all settled, and she has no further cause for fear.”

Mrs. Middleton looked up as he entered.

Sit down, Mr. Rugg,” she said, politely.

Her manner was cool and composed; but when the servant had left the room, she rose from her chair, and in a tone which showed the anxiety which she had till then repressed, she asked, abruptly: “Well, Mr. Rugg, have you any news for me?”

“Yes, ma’am, I have,” he answered, deliberately.

What is it? Don’t keep me in suspense,” she said, impatiently.

The job’s done,” said Rudolph, briefly.

You mean that the boy—?—” “Accidentally fell down a well and was killed,” said the visitor, finishing the sentence.

Horrible!” murmured the lady.

Wasn’t it?” said Rudolph, with a grin. “He must have been very careless.”

Mrs. Middleton did not immediately speak. Though she was responsible for this crime, having instigated it, she was really shocked when it was brought home to her.

You are sure he is dead?” she said, after a pause.

When a chap pitches head first down a well thirty feet deep, there isn’t much hope for him, is there?”

“No, I suppose not. Where did this accident happen?” asked the lady.

That ain’t important,” answered Rudolph. “It’s happened—that’s all you need to know. Tony won’t never come after that estate of his.”

“It would have done him little good. He was not fitted by education to assume it.”

“No; but he might have been educated. But that’s all over now. It’s yours. Nobody can take it from you.”

“True!” said Mrs. Middleton, and a look of pleasure succeeded the momentary horror. “You will be ready to testify that the boy is dead?”

“There won’t be any danger, will there? They won’t ask too many questions?”

“As to that, I think we had better decide what we will say. It won’t be necessary to say how the boy died.”

“Won’t it?”

“No. Indeed, it will be better to give a different account.”

“Will that do just as well?”

“Yes. You can say, for instance, that he died of smallpox, while under your care in St. Louis, or any other place.”

“And that I tended him to the last with the affection of a father,” added Rudolph, grinning.

To be sure. You must settle upon all the details of the story, so as not to be caught in any discrepancies.”

“What’s that?” asked the tramp, rather mystified.

Your story must hang together. It mustn’t contradict itself.”

“To be sure. How long are you going to stay in New York?”

“There is no further occasion for my staying here. I shall sail for England in a week.”

“Will it be all right about the money?” asked Rudolph, anxiously.

Certainly.”

“How am I to be sure of that?”

“The word of a lady, sir,” said Mrs. Middleton, haughtily, “ought to be sufficient for you.”

“That’s all very well, but suppose you should get tired of paying me the money?”

“Then you could make it very disagreeable for me by telling all you know about the boy. However, there will be no occasion for that. I shall keep my promise. Will you be willing to sail for England next week?”

“Do you mean that I am to go with you?”

“I mean that you are to go. Your testimony must be given on the other side, in order to make clear my title to the estate.”

“I see, ma’am. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have had no fears about the money.”

“You need have none, Mr. Rugg,” said Mrs. Middleton, coldly. “The fact is, we are necessary to each other. Each can promote the interests of the other.”

“That’s so, ma’am. Let’s shake hands on that,” said Rudolph, advancing with outstretched hand.

No, thank you,” said Mrs. Middleton, coldly. “You forget yourself, sir. Do not forget that I am a lady, and that you are—?—” “We are equal, ma’am, in this matter,” said Rudolph offended. “You needn’t shrink from shaking hands with me.”

“That is not in the agreement,” said Mrs. Middleton, haughtily. “I shall do what I have agreed, but except so far as it is necessary in the way of business, I wish you to keep yourself away from me. We belong to different grades in society.”

“Why didn’t you say that the other day, ma’am?” said Rudolph, frowning.

Because I didn’t suppose it to be necessary. You did not offer to shake hands with me then. Besides, at that time you had not—?—” “Pushed the boy down the well, if that’s what you mean,” said Rudolph, bluntly.

Hush! Don’t refer to that. I advise you this for your own sake.”

“And for the sake of somebody else.”

“Mr. Rugg, all this discussion is idle. It can do no good. For whatever service you have rendered, you shall be well paid. That you understand. But it is best that we should know as little of each other henceforth as possible. It might excite suspicion, as you can understand.”

“Perhaps you are right, ma’am,” said Rudolph, slowly.

Call here day after to-morrow, and I will let you know by what steamer I take passage for England, that you may obtain a ticket. Good afternoon.”

Rudolph left the lady’s presence not wholly pleased.

Why wouldn’t she take my hand?” he muttered to himself. “She’s as deep in it as I am.”


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