“Well, boys, since you say so, I suppose then I’ll just have to accept it, and call my outfit earned by the sweat of my brow,” laughed Paul, taking out his handkerchief to wipe his face from its collection of perspiration and dust.
AN UNEXPECTED OFFER
Paul and his chum managed to break away finally, and walk toward the home of the latter. Jack had his arm through that of the other, and it seemed as though he felt happier over the recent exploit than the one who had occupied the centre of the stage.
“My heart seemed to be up in my mouth just when you made that grab for the bit. I believe I would have fallen in a fit if you had gone under, Paul,” said Jack, with a big sigh, as he pressed the arm he held.
“Well, I was a little worried myself that something might upset me just then. But luck favored me, you know. I’m more than glad, because it would have given my mother a bad shock if I’d been trampled on. But please drop that subject, old fellow,” said Paul, making a wry face.
“I will, since you ask it; but they won’t forget it in the town for a long time. Such things happen only once a year or more around dull old Stanhope. To-night we meet to see how many have the money earned for the suits; and I’m glad to say I can cover my needs. You’re doubly supplied now, with this windfall.”
“Yes, and I wish I could help some other fellow out; but I’m afraid that would be against the rules of the game. Here we are at your house, and bless me if Carlo hasn’t carried that basket of provisions straight back to the kitchen door. Say, he is a trump, sure enough, Jack.”
“Oh! that’s dead easy for Carlo. Why, we often put a nickel in the basket, and send him down to the bakery for a loaf of bread,” laughed the other.
“And does he always get it?” asked Paul, looking suddenly interested.
“I don’t believe he’s failed for six months. Of course Mr. Crusty knows what we want, and wraps the loaf up so as to keep the dust off. Why, that ain’t the best of his tricks, by a long shot. I taught him when he was hungry to go—”
“Excuse me, won’t you, Jack; there comes father, and I do believe he’s heading home long before his usual time. Perhaps he’s afraid mother may hear that something has happened to me, and would be anxious. I’d better jump in with him, don’t you think? Another time I’ll hear all about the wonderful stunts of Carlo.”
And so speaking Paul ran out to join his father in the buggy.
Jack looked after him, and sighed heavily. It was not that he felt a particle jealous of the recent exploit which his chum had engineered so successfully; for envy was not one of his failings. But he did wish that his mind was as free from anxiety and suspicion as that of Paul Morrison.
For the mystery of those disappearing coins hung about his neck like a millstone, nor could he ever know peace again until in some way it were explained.