“Squire Pope,” he said, turning to that official, “will you do me a favor?”
“Ahem! Explain yourself,” said the squire suspiciously.
“Will you call at Mr. Dunbar’s and tell them where I am.”
Now, for obvious reasons, the squire did not like to do this. He knew that the Dunbars would manifest great indignation at the arbitrary step which he had adopted, and he did not like to face their displeasure, especially as his apology would perforce be a lame one.
“I don’t think I am called upon to do you a favor, seeing how you’ve acted, Philip,” he said hesitatingly. “Besides, it would be out of my way, and I ought to get home as soon as possible.”
“Then you refuse, sir?”
“Well, I’d rather not.”
“Will you get word to them, Mr. Tucker?” asked Philip, turning to him.
“I hain’t got time,” answered Mr. Tucker, who feared that the Dunbars would come for Philip and release him in the course of the evening.
Philip was nonplused. Always considerate of the feelings of others, he was unwilling that his friends should suffer anxiety on his account.
As Mr. Tucker and Squire Pope walked away together, our hero turned to Zeke.
“I suppose it’s no use to ask you to do me a favor, Zeke?” he said.
“Do you want me to tell Frank Dunbar where you are?”
“Yes, I wish you would.”
“Then I’ll do it.”
“You’re a better fellow than I thought you were, Zeke,” said Philip, surprised.
“No, I ain’t! Do you want to know why I’m willin’ to go?”
“I know Frank Dunbar’ll feel bad, and I hate him.”
“So that is your object, is it, Zeke?”
“You’ve got it.”
“Well, whatever your motive may be, I shall be much obliged to you if you go. Here’s ten cents for you!”
Zeke grasped at the coin with avidity, for his father was very parsimonious, and his mother no less so, and he seldom got any ready money.
“Thank you!” said Zeke, with unusual politeness. “I’ll go right off. But, I say, don’t you tell dad where I’ve gone, or he might prevent me, and don’t you let on you’ve given me this dime, or he’d try to get it away.”
“No, I won’t say anything about it,” answered Philip.
“A curious family this is!” he thought, “There doesn’t seem to be much confidence in each other.”
Zeke sauntered away carelessly, to avert suspicion but when he had got round a bend of the road he increased his speed, never looking back, lest he should see his father signaling for him.
Philip breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’ve got a messenger at last,” he said. “Now my friends will know what has become of me when I don’t come home to supper.”
He was a little curious to learn what they were going to do with him, but he was not long kept in suspense.