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George Barr McCutcheon
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about Castle Craneycrow.

“Game?  The bill of fare tells you all about that.  Here’s quail, squab, duck—­see?  That’s the only game I’m interested in.  Go on, and order.”

“S’ ’elp me Gawd if you ain’t a peach.”

For half an hour Mr. Burglar ate ravenously, Quentin watching him through half-closed, amused eyes.  He had had a dull, monotonous week, and this was the novelty that lifted life out of the torpidity into which it had fallen.

The host at this queer feast was at that time little more than twenty-five years of age, a year out of Yale, and just back from a second tour of South America.  He was an orphan, coming into a big fortune with his majority, and he had satiated an old desire to travel in lands not visited by all the world.  Now he was back in New York to look after the investments his guardian had made, and he found them so ridiculously satisfactory that they cast a shadow of dullness across his mind, always hungry for activity.

“Have you a place to sleep?” he asked, at length.

“I live in Jersey City, but I suppose I can find a cheap lodgin’ house down by d’ river.  Trouble is, I ain’t got d’ price.”

“Then come back home with me.  You may sleep in Jackson’s room.  Jackson was my man till yesterday, when I dismissed him for stealing my cigars and drinking my drinks.  I won’t have anybody about me who steals.  Come along.”

Then they walked swiftly back to Quentin’s flat.  The owner of the apartment directed his puzzled guest to a small room off his own, and told him to go to bed.

“By the way, what’s your name?” he asked, before he closed the door.

“Turkington—­James Turkington, sir,” answered the now respectful robber.  And he wanted to say more, but the other interrupted.

“Well, Turk, when you get up in the morning, polish those shoes of mine over there.  We’ll talk it over after I’ve had my breakfast.  Good-night.”

And that is how Turk, most faithful and loyal of servants, began his apparently endless employment with Mr. Philip Quentin, dabbler in stocks, bonds and hearts.  Whatever his ugly past may have been, whatever his future may have promised, he was honest to a painful degree in these days with Quentin.  Quick-witted, fiery, willful and as ugly as a little demon, Turk knew no law, no integrity except that which benefitted his employer.  Beyond a doubt, if Quentin had instructed him to butcher a score of men, Turk would have proceeded to do so and without argument.  But Quentin instructed him to be honest, law-abiding and cautious.  It would be perfectly safe to guess his age between forty and sixty, but it would not be wise to measure his strength by the size of his body.  The little ex-burglar was like a piece of steel.

II

SOME RAIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

New York had never been so nasty and cold and disagreeable.  For three weeks it had rained—­a steady, chilling drizzle.  Quentin stood it as long as he could, but the weather is a large factor in the life of a gentleman of leisure.  He couldn’t play Squash the entire time, and Bridge he always maintained was more of a profession than a pastime.  So it was that one morning, as he looked out at the sheets of water blowing across the city, his mind was made up.

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