“We ain’t touched a thing!” cried a small boy, and began to back away in alarm. At once several followed him.
“Here’s a barrel of water knocked over and everything in a mess. You’ve been skylarking, too. I’m going to have you locked up!”
The watchman made a dash after the boys and the crowd scattered in all directions. Sagger received a crack on the shoulder that lamed him for a week, and Sammel tripped and went down, taking the skin off of the end of his nose.
“Oh, me nose!” he moaned. “It’s busted entirely!”
“Run!” cried Sagger. “If you don’t you’ll be nabbed sure!” And then the crowd ran with all their speed, scrambling out of the hole as best they could. They did not stop until they were half a dozen blocks away and on their way home.
“We made a fizzle of it dat trip,” said Sagger, dolefully.
“It’s all your fault,” growled one of the boys. “I ain’t goin’ out wid you again. You promise big things but you never do ’em.”
“Oh, Jack ’s a gas-bag, dat’s wot he is,” was the comment of another, and he walked off by himself. Presently one after another of the boys followed suit, leaving Jack Sagger to sneak home, a sadder if not a wiser lad.
DAYS AT THE HOTEL.
“Perhaps those fellows have learned a lesson they won’t forget in a hurry,” remarked Frank to Joe, after he learned the particulars of the attack in the dark.
“I hope they don’t molest me further,” answered our hero. “If they’ll only let me alone I’ll let them alone.”
“That Sagger is certainly on the downward path,” said Frank. “If he doesn’t look out he’ll land in jail.”
What Frank said was true, and less than a week later they heard through another hotel boy that Jack Sagger had been arrested for stealing some lead pipe out of a vacant residence. The pipe had been sold to a junkman for thirty cents and the boy had spent the proceeds on a ticket for a cheap theater and some cigarettes. He was sent to the House of Correction, and that was the last Joe heard of him.
With the coming of winter the hotel filled up and Joe was kept busy from morning to night, so that he had little time for studying. He performed his duties faithfully and the hotel proprietor was much pleased in consequence.
“Joe is all right,” he said to his cashier, “I can trust him with anything.”
“That’s so, and he is very gentlemanly, too,” replied the cashier.
Ulmer Montgomery was still at the hotel. He was now selling antiquaries, and our hero often watched the fellow with interest. He suspected that Montgomery was a good deal of a humbug, but could not prove it.
At length Montgomery told Joe that he was going to the far West to try his fortunes. The man seemed to like our hero, and the night before he left the hotel he called Joe into his room.