But the professor was dazzled by the money, and unwilling to give it up. Moreover, he had the vanity to think that he would draw nearly as well alone, thus retaining in his own hands the entire proceeds of any entertainments he might give.
When he met Philip on the road he was well-nigh penniless. Now, including the sum of which he had defrauded our hero and his creditors in Wilkesville, he had one hundred and fifty dollars.
When the professor went to bed, he had not formed the plan of deserting Philip; but, on awaking in the morning, it flashed upon him as an excellent step which would put money in his pocket.
He accordingly rose, dressed himself quietly, and, with one cautious look at Philip—who was fast asleep—descended the stairs to the office.
Only the bookkeeper was in the office.
“You are stirring early, professor,” he said.
“Yes,” answered Riccabocca, “I generally take a morning walk, to get an appetite for breakfast.”
“My appetite comes without the walk,” said the bookkeeper, smiling.
“If Mr. de Gray comes downstairs, please tell him I will be back soon,” said Riccabocca.
The bookkeeper readily promised to do this, not having the slightest suspicion that the distinguished professor was about to take French leave.
When Professor Riccabocca had walked half a mile he began to feel faint. His appetite had come.
“I wish I had stopped to breakfast,” he reflected. “I don’t believe De Gray will be down for an hour or two.”
It was too late to go back and repair his mistake. That would spoil all. He saw across the street a baker’s shop, just opening for the day, and this gave him an idea.
He entered, bought some rolls, and obtained a glass of milk, and, fortified with these, he resumed his journey.
He had walked three miles, when he was over-taken by a farm wagon, which was going his way.
He hailed the driver—a young man of nineteen or thereabouts—ascertained that he was driving to Knoxville, and, for a small sum, secured passage there.
This brings us to the point of time when Philip and Mr. Gates drove up to the hotel at Knoxville.
“I can see the professor,” said Philip, in eager excitement, when they had come within a few rods of the inn.
“Where is he?”
“He is in the office, sitting with his back to the front window. I wonder what he will have to say for himself?”
“So do I,” said the landlord curiously.
“Shall we go in together?” questioned Philip.
“No; let us surprise him a little. I will drive around to the sheds back of the hotel, and fasten my horse. Then we will go round to the front, and you can go in, while I stand outside, ready to appear a little later.”
Philip thought this a good plan. He enjoyed the prospect of confronting the rogue who had taken advantage of his inexperience, and attempted such a bold scheme of fraud. He didn’t feel in the least nervous, or afraid to encounter the professor, though Riccabocca was a man and he but a boy. When all was ready, Philip entered through the front door, which was open, and, turning into the office, stood before the astonished professor.