While Mrs. Tucker was badgering and domineering over her regular boarders, her husband put two slices of dry bread on a plate, poured out a cup of tea, not strong enough to keep the most delicate child awake, and surreptitiously provided an extra luxury in the shape of a thin slice of cold meat. He felt that, as he was to receive double price, he ought to deal generously by our hero.
He carried this luxurious supper to the third story, and set it down before Philip.
Philip promptly produced a dime, which Mr. Tucker pocketed with satisfaction. He waited till his young guest had finished his repast, in order himself to carry down the dishes.
There was no butter for the bread, and the tea had been sweetened scantily. However, Philip had the appetite of a healthy boy, and he ate and drank everything that had been provided.
“I’ll be up in the morning,” said Mr. Tucker. “We go to bed early here. The paupers go to roost at seven, and me and my wife and Zeke at eight. You’d better go to bed early, too.”
A friendly Mission.
Philip was glad to hear that all in the almshouse went to bed so early. He had not yet given up the hope of escaping that night, though he had as yet arranged no definite plan of escape.
Meanwhile, he had an active friend outside. I refer, of course, to Frank Dunbar. Frank had no sooner heard of his friend’s captivity than he instantly determined, if it were a possible thing, to help him to escape.
He would not even wait till the next day, but determined after it was dark to visit the poor-house and reconnoiter. First, he informed his parents what had befallen Phil. Their indignation was scarcely less than his.
“Squire Pope is carrying matters with a high hand,” said the farmer. “According to my idea, he has done no less than kidnap Philip, without the shadow of a legal right.”
“Can’t he be prosecuted?” asked Frank eagerly.
“I am not sure as to that,” answered his father, “but I am confident that Philip will not be obliged to remain, unless he chooses, a dependent upon the charity of the town.”
“It is outrageous!” said Mrs. Dunbar, who was quite as friendly to Philip as her husband and son.
“In my opinion,” said Mr. Dunbar, “Squire Pope has done a very unwise thing as regards his own interests. He desires to remain in office, and the people will not be likely to reelect him if his policy is to make paupers of those who wish to maintain themselves. Voters will be apt to think that they are sufficiently taxed already for the support of those who are actually unable to maintain themselves.”
“If I were a voter,” exclaimed Frank indignantly, “I wouldn’t vote for Squire Pope, even for dog-catcher! The meanest part of it is the underhanded way in which he has taken Phil. He must have known he was acting illegally, or he would have come here in open day and required Phil to go with him.”