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Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World, a novel by Horatio Alger

Chapter 3. An Unholy Compact

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_ Chapter III. An Unholy Compact

"Who is that man, Curtis?" asked John Linden, pointing his thin finger at Tim Bolton, who looked strangely out of place, as, with clay pipe, he sat in the luxurious library on a sumptuous chair.

"That man?" stammered Curtis, quite at a loss what to say.


"He is a poor man out of luck, who has applied to me for assistance," answered Curtis, recovering his wits.

"That's it, governor," said Bolton, thinking it necessary to confirm the statement. "I've got five small children at home almost starvin', your honor."

"That is sad. What is your business, my man?"

It was Bolton's turn to be embarrassed.

"My business?" he repeated.

"That is what I said."

"I'm a blacksmith, but I'm willing to do any honest work."

"That is commendable; but don't you know that it is very ill-bred to smoke a pipe in a gentleman's house?"

"Excuse me, governor!"

And Bolton extinguished his pipe, and put it away in a pocket of his corduroy coat.

"I was just telling him the same thing," said Curtis. "Don't trouble yourself any further, uncle. I will inquire into the man's circumstances, and help him if I can."

"Very well, Curtis. I came down because I thought I heard voices."

John Linden slowly returned to his chamber, and left the two alone.

"The governor's getting old," said Bolton. "When I was butler here, fifteen years ago, he looked like a young man. He didn't suspect that he had ever seen me before."

"Nor that you had carried away his son, Bolton."

"Who hired me to do it? Who put me up to the job, as far as that goes?"

"Hush! Walls have ears. Let us return to business."

"That suits me."

"Look here, Tim Bolton," said Curtis, drawing up a chair, and lowering his voice to a confidential pitch, "you say you want money?"

"Of course I do."

"Well, I don't give money for nothing."

"I know that. What's wanted now?"

"You say the boy is alive?"

"He's very much alive."

"Is there any necessity for his living?" asked Curtis, in a sharp, hissing tone, fixing his eyes searchingly on Bolton, to see how his hint would be taken.

"You mean that you want me to murder him?" said Bolton, quickly.

"Why not? You don't look over scrupulous."

"I am a bad man, I admit it," said Bolton, with a gesture of repugnance, "a thief, a low blackguard, perhaps, but, thank Heaven! I am no murderer! And if I was, I wouldn't spill a drop of that boy's blood for the fortune that is his by right."

"I didn't give you credit for so much sentiment, Bolton," said Curtis, with a sneer. "You don't look like it, but appearances are deceitful. We'll drop the subject. You can serve me in another way. Can you open this secretary?"

"Yes; that's in my line."

"There is a paper in it that I want. It is my uncle's will. I have a curiosity to read it."

"I understand. Well, I'm agreeable."

"If you find any money or valuables, you are welcome to them. I only want the paper. When will you make the attempt?"

"To-morrow night. When will it be safe?"

"At eleven o'clock. We all retire early in this house. Can you force an entrance?"

"Yes; but it will be better for you to leave the outer door unlocked."

"I have a better plan. Here is my latchkey."

"Good! I may not do the job myself, but I will see that it is done. How shall I know the will?"

"It is in a big envelope, tied with a narrow tape. Probably it is inscribed: 'My will.'"

"Suppose I succeed, when shall I see you?"

"I will come around to your place on the Bowery. Good-night!"

Curtis Waring saw Bolton to the door, and let him out. Returning, he flung himself on a sofa.

"I can make that man useful!" he reflected. "There is an element of danger in the boy's presence in New York; but it will go hard if I can't get rid of him! Tim Bolton is unexpectedly squeamish, but there are others to whom I can apply. With gold everything is possible. It's time matters came to a finish. My uncle's health is rapidly failing-- the doctor hints that he has heart disease--and the fortune for which I have been waiting so long will soon be mine, if I work my cards right. I can't afford to make any mistakes now." _

Read next: Chapter 4. Florence

Read previous: Chapter 2. A Stranger Visitor

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