“Come,” rallied Bart, giving him a ringing slap on the shoulder, “brace up and be what you have proved yourself to be—a man!”
Baker started electrically. His tones showed some force as he said:
“All right—you’ve made me feel good. But you don’t know a whole lot, and I can’t tell you. You say you’re my friend.”
“You believe that I am, do you not?”
“Yes, I do, and that’s why I don’t want to drag you into any complications. This ten dollars is mine, isn’t it?”
“Will you spend it for me?”
“What do you mean?”
“I want you to give me a pencil and some paper, and I will write out a list of some things I want. You take it and the ten dollars and bring me the things here to-morrow. I want you to promise in the meantime, though, that if you come upon me unawares, or when I’m asleep, or under any circumstances whatever, you will turn your head away and not look at my face.”
Bart was very much puzzled.
“I think I see how it is,” he said after a brief period of reflection, “you are afraid of being recognized?”
“Think that if you want to, maybe you’re right,” returned Baker. “Anyway, I don’t want to do anything or have you do anything that will mix you up in my troubles. My way is the safe way. Will you do what I ask?”
“Yes,” answered Bart promptly. “Can’t I get the things you want to-night?”
“I am afraid not, for most of the stores are closed.”
“That’s right. Well, then, let me make a suggestion: I have two keys to the new express office. I’ll give you one. After dark, if you don’t want to do it in daylight, go over and unlock the door. Pick out two or three dry-goods boxes from the heap behind the shed, carry them in and rig up any kind of private quarters you like at the far corner of the shed. I’ll see that nobody disturbs you. In a couple of hours I will bring you a blanket from the house and a nice warm lunch, and you can be comfortable and safe. I will relock the door on you, and if you want to leave at any time you can unfasten a window and get out.”
Baker did not reply. Bart heard him mumbling to himself as though debating the proposition submitted to him.
“I don’t want to make you a lot of trouble,” he finally faltered out.
“Of course you don’t, and won’t,” asserted Bart—“you want to give me pleasure, though, don’t you? So you do as I suggest, and I’ll sleep a good deal sounder than if you didn’t. Here’s the key. I will be over to the express office about eight o’clock. Is it a bargain?”
“Yes,” answered the strange man.
About eight o’clock that evening Bart came down to the express office carrying a lunch basket and a blanket, as he had promised his erratic friend, Mr. Baker.