Squire Pope wrote an elaborate report, in which he stated that, after searching investigation, he had ascertained that the complaints of Ann Carter were absolutely groundless, and gave it as his conviction that Mr. Tucker’s treatment of her and her associate paupers was characterized by remarkable consideration and humanity.
Such officials as he have much to answer for, and yet there are plenty just as false to their responsibilities as he.
It was two days after Squire Pope’s ineffectual attempt to possess himself of Philip’s violin, that our hero was walking along a country road, on his return from an errand which, he had undertaken for his friend’s father, when his attention was drawn to the yelping of a small dog, that seemed in fear or pain.
Looking over the stone wall, Philip saw Zeke Tucker amusing himself by thrusting the dog’s head into a pool of dirty water, and holding it there till the animal was nearly strangled. The dog’s suffering appeared to yield the most exquisite amusement to the boy, who burst into peal after peal of rude laughter as he watched the struggles of his victim.
Philip, like every decent boy, had a horror of cruelty, and the sight stirred him to immediate anger and disgust.
“What are you doing there, Zeke Tucker?” he demanded sternly.
“None of your business!” answered Zeke, frowning.
“You’d better answer my question,” said Philip, who had by this time jumped over the wall.
“Then I will. I’m havin’ a little fun. What have you got to say about it?” retorted Zeke.
And once more he plunged the head of the poor dog into the filthy pool.
The next moment he found himself floundering on his back, while the dog, slipping from his grasp, was running across the meadows. “What did you do that for!” demanded Zeke, springing up, his face flaming with rage.
“I rather think you understand well enough,” answered Philip contemptuously.
“What business have you to touch me? I can have you arrested, you low pauper!”
“What’s that? What did you call me?” demanded Philip.
“I called you a pauper.”
“By what right?”
“Squire Pope told my father he was going to bring you over to the poorhouse to live. You just see if my father doesn’t give it to you then!”
“Thank you,” said Phil contemptuously; “but I don’t propose to board at your establishment, not even to obtain the pleasure of your society.”
“Maybe you can’t help yourself,” said Zeke gleefully.
For he saw what had escaped the notice of Philip, whose back was turned—namely, a four-seated carryall, containing his father and Squire Pope, which had just halted in the road, hard by.
“Mr. Tucker,” said Squire Pope, in a low tone, “now will be the best opportunity to capture the boy and carry him to the almshouse.”
“All right—I’m ready,” said Tucker readily.