The dime which Mrs. Tucker had discovered was the same one that Philip had given to Zeke in return for his service in notifying Frank Dunbar of his captivity. In another pocket was the five-cent piece given him by Frank, but that had escaped his mother’s attention.
The reader will understand now how it happened that Mrs. Tucker was kept awake beyond her usual time. She was broad awake when Frank Dunbar arrived, and she heard something through the partially open window of the conference between the two boys. She heard the voices that is to say, but could not tell what was said.
With her mind dwelling upon Zeke’s supposed theft, however, she was more easily frightened than usual, and immediately jumped to the conclusion that there were burglars outside, trying to get in.
The absurdity of burglars attempting to rob the town poorhouse did not occur to her in panic. She sat up in bed, and proceeded to nudge her husband in no gentle fashion.
“Mr. Tucker!” she exclaimed.
Her husband responded by an inarticulate murmur, but did not wake.
“Mr. Tucker!” she exclaimed, in a louder voice, giving him a still more vigorous shake.
“Eh! What! What’s the matter?” said Tucker, opening his eyes at last, and staring vacantly at his wife.
“What’s the matter!” retorted his wife impatiently. “The matter is that there’s burglars outside!”
“Let ’em stay outside!” said Joe Tucker, in a sleepy tone.
“Did any one ever hear such a fool?” exclaimed Mrs. Tucker, exasperated. “They’re trying to get in. Do you hear that, Mr. Tucker?”
“Trying to get in! Is the door locked?” asked Joe, a little alarmed.
“You must get up and defend the house,” continued Mrs. Tucker.
Now, Mr. Tucker was not a brave man. He had no fancy for having a hand-to-hand conflict with burglars, who might be presumed to be desperate men. It occurred to him that it would be decidedly better to stay where he was and ran no risk.
“Never mind, Abigail,” he said, soothingly. “The burglars can’t do us any harm. They ean’t do any more than carry off a pauper or two, and I don’t, believe they’ll do that.”
“I wouldn’t mind that, Mr. Tucker; but I’ve left the spoons down-stairs!” answered his wife.
“How many are there!”
“Six. I want you to go down and get them and bring them up here, where they will be safe.”
“But suppose I should meet some of the burglars!” suggested Tucker, trembling.
“Then you must defend yourself like a man!”
“You might find me in the morning weltering in my gore!” said Joe, with an uneasy shudder.
“Are we to have the spoons stolen, then!” demanded Mrs. Tucker sharply.
“If you care so much for the spoons, Abigail, you’d better go down-stairs yourself and get ’em. I don’t value them as much as my life.”
“I don’t know but I will, if you’ll look out of the window and see whether you can see any of the burglars outside,” responded Mrs. Tucker. “If they haven’t got in yet, I’ll take the risk.”