“I thought you’d be mad,” said Zeke, with the same unpleasant chuckle.
“Answer my question, or I’ll pitch you into the river,” said Frank sternly.
He did not mean what he said, but Zeke drew back in alarm.
“Quit now! I didn’t have nothin’ to do with it,” said Zeke hastily. “Me and him was over in Haywood’s pasture when dad come along with the squire in his wagon. Well, they made Phil get in, and that’s all of it, except I promised I’d come and tell your folks, so you needn’t get scared or nothin’ when he didn’t come back to-night.”
“He will come back to-night,” said Frank. “He won’t stay in the poorhouse.”
“Yes, he will. He can’t help himself. Dad’s goin’ to lock him up in the attic. I guess he won’t jump out of the window. Where you go-in’! You ain’t got through fishin’, be you?”
“Yes, I’m through,” answered Frank, as he drew his line out of the water. “Just tell Phil when you go home that he’s got friends outside who won’t see him suffer.”
“Say, ain’t you goin’ to give me nothin’ for comin’ to tell you!” asked Zeke, who was always intent on the main chance.
Frank flung a nickel in his direction, which Zeke picked up with avidity.
“I guess it pays to run errands when you can get paid twice,” he reflected complacently.
Philip’s new room.
We return to Phil.
“Foller me, boy!” said Mr. Tucker, as he entered the house, and proceeded to ascend the front steps.
Philip had formed his plans, and without a word of remonstrance, he obeyed. The whole interior was dingy and dirty. Mrs. Tucker was not a neat woman, and everything looked neglected and slipshod.
In the common room, to the right, the door of which was partly open, Philip saw some old men and women sitting motionless, in a sort of weary patience. They were “paupers,” and dependent for comfort on the worthy couple, who regarded them merely as human machines, good to them for sixty cents a week each.
Mr. Tucker did not stop at the first landing, but turned and began to ascend a narrower and steeper staircase leading to the next story.
This was, if anything, dirtier and more squalid than the first and second. There were several small rooms on the third floor, into one of which Mr. Tucker pushed his way. “Come in,” he said. “Now you’re at home. This is goin’ to be your room.”
Philip looked around him in disgust, which he did not even take the trouble to conceal.
There was a cot-bed in the corner, with an unsavory heap of bed-clothing upon it, and a couple of chairs, both with wooden seats, and one with the back gone.
That was about all the furniture. There was one window looking out upon the front.
“So this is to be my room, is it?” asked our hero.