Both simultaneously stood still.
“What’s that!” exclaimed both in concert.
“Somebody must be trying to rob Mr. Lovett,” suggested Frank.
“Can’t we do something!” said Phil quickly.
“We can try.”
There were two stout sticks or clubs lying on the ground at their feet. They stooped, picked them up, and ran to the house. A glance showed that one of the windows on the north side had been raised.
The window sill was low. Pausing a moment before springing over it into the room, they looked in and this was what they saw:
The farmer lay half-prostrate on the floor, half supporting himself by a chair, which he had mechanically grasped as he was forced downward. Over him stood a ruffianly looking tramp, whom Phil remembered to have seen about the streets during the day, with a stick uplifted. He had not heard the approach of the boys.
“Give me two hundred dollars, and I’ll go,” he said to the man at his feet.
“I cannot do it. I haven’t got as much here.”
“That’s a lie!” said the other coarsely. “I heard all about you to-day. You’re a miser, and you’ve got no end of money stowed away here. Get it for me, quick, or I’ll dash your brains out.”
Just then the prostrate farmer saw what the tramp could not see, his back being turned to the window, the faces of the two boys looking through the window. Fresh courage came to him. Single-handed, and taken at advantage, he was no match for the ruffian who had entered his house; but with these two young auxiliaries he felt that all was not lost.
A reformed burglar.
“What do you say!” demanded the tramp impatiently. “Speak quick! I can’t stay here all night.”
“Let me up, and I’ll see if I can find the money for you.”
“I thought I’d bring you to terms,” said the tramp, laughing grimly.
He allowed his victim to rise, as he certainly would not have done if he had looked behind him and seen the two boys at the window.
“Now’s our time,” answered Philip.
He gave a light spring into the room, followed by Frank.
Of course, the tramp heard them, and turned in sudden alarm. As he turned, the farmer snatched the club from his hand, and he found himself unexpectedly unarmed and confronted by three enemies.
“It’s my turn now,” said Lovett. “Do you surrender?”
The tramp saw that the game was up and made a dash for the open window, but Philip skillfully inserted a stick between his legs, and tripped him up, and, with the help of Mr. Lovett, held him, struggling desperately, till Frank fetched a rope, with which he was securely bound.
“Confound you!” he said, scowling at the two boys. “But for you I would have succeeded and got away with my booty.”
“That’s true!” said the farmer. “I owe my escape from robbery, and, perhaps, bodily injury, to you.”