“Now, Herbert,” said Mr. Carroll, when they had finished supper, “you may ask the clerk to assign me to a large room with a couple of beds in it. I should prefer to have you in the same room with me.”
“Very well, sir.”
He rose from the table, and went to the public room, one portion of which was occupied by the office. As he made his way to the desk, he observed the man with black whiskers on a settee at one end of the room. He was smoking a clay pipe. Herbert caught a stealthy glance directed towards himself, but that was all. The man continued smoking, fixing his eyes with apparent interest on a large yellow handbill pasted on the opposite wall, announcing a performance by “The Great American Circus Company” the succeeding evening.
Herbert succeeded in obtaining such a room as he sought, and accompanied by a servant bearing a lamp, went back to the dining-room to accompany Mr. Carroll to it.
FACING A BURGLAR
Herbert deliberated as to whether it would be best to inform his aged traveling companion of the suspicious-looking man, who appeared to have followed them for no good purpose. He finally decided not to do so, since it would only alarm Mr. Carroll, and prevent his sleeping off his fatigue, while there would be no advantage gained, since a blind and feeble man could be of little use in repelling the burglar, should the stranger prove to be such.
The bedroom was large and square, and contained two beds. The larger of these was placed in the corner, and this was assigned to the old gentleman. The smaller was situated between the two side windows, and was, of course, the more exposed of the two. This Herbert was to occupy.
“Do you know how to load the pistol, Herbert?” asked Mr. Carroll.
“Yes, sir,” said Herbert, confidently.
“I don’t anticipate any occasion for using it,” continued the old gentleman. “Still, it will be best to be prepared.”
“So I think, sir.”
“You won’t be afraid to use it, if it should be necessary?”
Mr. Carroll took a package from his carpet-bag and showed it to Herbert.
“This package,” he said, “contains five thousand dollars in bank bills. If it were known that I had it, I should be in danger. I suppose it will be best to put it back in the carpet-bag.”
“If it were mine,” said Herbert, “I would not do that.”
“Where, then, would you put it?”
“I would put it between the mattresses. If anyone should get into the room, they would seize the carpet-bag first, and, perhaps, make off before they could be stopped.”
“I don’t know but you are right,” said Mr. Carroll. “Perhaps it will be well to put my watch in the same place.”
“Yes, sir; I think it would be well.”
“You see, Herbert,” continued the old gentleman, “how much confidence I repose in you. Knowing where my watch and money are, it would be very easy for you to secure both, and leave me here, destitute and helpless.”