“If you want to become an honest man, God forbid that I should do aught to prevent you!” said the farmer. “I may be acting unwisely, but I mean to cut this rope and let you go.”
“Will you really do this?” said the tramp, his face lighting up with mingled joy and surprise.
He knelt on the floor, and drawing from his pocket a large jack-knife, cut the rope.
The tramp sprang to his feet.
“Thank you,” he said, in a husky voice. “I believe you are a good man. There are not many who would treat me as generously, considering what I tried to do just now. You sha’n’t repent it. Will you give me your hand!”
“Gladly,” said the farmer; and he placed his hand in that of the visitor, lately so unwelcome. “I wish you better luck.”
“Boys, will you give me your hands, too?” asked tke tramp, turning to Philip and Frank.
Tke boys readily complied with his request, and repeated the good wishes of the farmer.
The stranger was about to leave the house, when Lovett said:
“Stay, my friend, I wish to ask you a question.”
“Very well, sir.”
“Have you any money?”
“Not a cent.”
“Then take this,” said the farmer, drawing from his vest pocket a five-dollar bill. “I lend it to you. Some time you will be able to repay it, if you keep to your resolution of leading an honest life. When that time comes, lend it to some man who needs it as you do now.”
“Thank you, sir. I will take it, for it will help me greatly at this time. Good-by! If you ever see me again, you will see a different man.”
He leaped through the window and was gone.
“I don’t know if I have done a wise thing, but I will take the risk,” said the farmer. “And now, boys, I want to make you some return for your assistance to-night.” Both Frank and Philip earnestly protested that they would receive nothing in the conversation that ensued. Philip made known his intention to leave Norton the next morning.
“What are your plans? Where do you mean to go?” asked the farmer.
“I don’t know, sir. I shall make up my mind as I go along. I think I can make my living somehow.”
“Wait here five minutes,” said Lovett, and he went into an adjoining room.
Within the time mentioned, he returned, holding in his hand a sealed letter.
“Philip,” he said, “put this envelope in your pocket, and don’t open it till you are fifty miles from here.”
“Very well, sir,” answered Philip, rather puzzled, but not so much surprised as he might have been if he had not known the farmer’s reputation for eccentricity.
“I suppose it contains some good advice,” he thought. “Well, good advice is what I need.”
The two boys went home immediately upon leaving the farmhouse. Though so much had happened, it was not late, being not quite half-past nine.