Philip, however, did not retire at that hour. It was earlier than his usual hour for bed. Besides, he was in hopes his friend Frank would make his appearance, and help him, though he didn’t exactly understand how, to make his escape.
At half-past eight it was dark. The stars were out, and the moon was just making its appearance. Philip had opened his window softly, and was looking out, when all at once he saw a boyish figure approaching.
Couldn’t be Frank Dunbar.
He hoped so, but in the indistinct light could not be quite certain.
The boy, whoever it might be, approached cautiously, till he stood within fifty feet of the house.
Then Philip saw that it was indeed Frank, and his heart beat joyfully. It was something to see a friend, even though they were separated by what seemed to him to be an impassable gulf.
About the same time, Frank recognized his friend, in the boyish figure at the window.
“Is that you, Phil?” he asked, in a guarded voice, yet loud enough to be heard.
“Yes, Frank; I have been expecting you. I knew you wouldn’t desert me.”
“I should think not. I didn’t come before, because I didn’t want to be seen by any of Tucker’s folks.”
“They are all abed now, and I hope asleep.”
“Can’t you come downstairs, and steal away?”
“No; my chamber door is locked on the outside.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Can’t you help me in any way?”
“I’ll see. Suppose you had a rope—could you swing out of the window?”
“Yes; I could fasten it to the bedstead, and fix that just against the window.”
“Then I think I can help you. Can you catch a ball?”
“Yes; but what good will that do?”
“You’ll see. Make ready now, and don’t miss it.”
He produced a ball of common size, and after taking aim, threw it lightly up toward Philip’s window. The first time it didn’t come within reach. The second Philip caught it skilfully, and by the moonlight saw that a stout piece of twine was attached to it. At the end of the twine Frank had connected it with a clothesline which he had borrowed from home.
“Now pull away, Phil,” urged Frank.
Philip did, and soon had the stout line in his possession.
“It will hold; it’s new and strong,” said Frank. “Father only bought it last week. I didn’t think, then, what use we should have for it.”
Philip, however, was not afraid. He was so anxious to escape that, even if there had been any risk to run, he would readily have incurred it for the sake of getting away from the poor-house, in which he was unwilling to spend a single night. He fastened one end of the rope firmly to his bedstead, as he had proposed, then cautiously got upon the window-sill and lowered himself, descending hand over hand till he reached the ground.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he detached himself from the rope and stood beside Frank Dunbar.