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

Chapter 6. A Tempest

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_ Chapter VI. A Tempest

The charge was so strange and unexpected that Florence was overwhelmed. She could only murmur:

"Oh, uncle!"

Her young companion was indignant. Already he felt that Florence had consented to accept him as a friend, and he was resolved to stand by her.

"I say, old man," he bristled up, "don't you go to insult her! She's an angel!"

"No doubt you think so," rejoined Mr. Linden, in a tone of sarcasm. "Upon my word, miss, I congratulate you on your elevated taste. So this is your reason for not being willing to marry your Cousin Curtis?"

"Indeed, uncle, you are mistaken. I never met this boy till to-night."

"Don't try to deceive me. Young man, did you open my secretary?"

"Yes, sir."

"And robbed it into the bargain," continued Linden, going to the secretary, and examining it. He did not, however, miss the will, but only the roll of bills. "Give me back the money you have taken from me, you young rascal!"

"I took nothing, sir."

"It's a lie! The money is gone, and no one else could have taken it."

"I don't allow no one to call me a liar. Just take that back, old man, or I----"

"Indeed, uncle, he took nothing, for he had only just opened the secretary when I woke up and spoke to him."

"You stand by him, of course, shameless girl! I blush to think that you are my niece. I am glad to think that my eyes are opened before it is too late."

The old merchant rang the bell violently, and aroused the house. Dodger made no attempt to escape, but stood beside Florence in the attitude of a protector. But a short time elapsed before Curtis Waring and the servants entered the room, and gazed with wonder at the _tableau_ presented by the excited old man and the two young people.

"My friends," said John Linden, in a tone of excitement, "I call you to witness that this girl, whom I blush to acknowledge as my niece, has proved herself unworthy of my kindness. In your presence I cut her off, and bid her never again darken my door."

"But what has she done, uncle?" asked Curtis. He was prepared for the presence of Dodger, whom he rightly concluded to be the agent of Tim Bolton, but he could not understand why Florence should be in the library at this late hour. Nor was he able to understand the evidently friendly relations between her and the young visitor.

"What has she done?" repeated John Linden. "She has introduced that young ruffian into the house to rob me. Look at that secretary! He has forced it open, and stolen a large sum of money."

"It is not true, sir," said Dodger, calmly, "about taking the money, I mean. I haven't taken a cent."

"Then why did you open the secretary?"

"I did mean to take money, but she stopped me."

"Oh, she stopped you?" repeated Linden, with withering sarcasm. "Then, perhaps, you will tell me where the money is gone?"

"He hasn't discovered about the will," thought Curtis, congratulating himself; "if the boy has it, I must manage to give him a chance to escape."

"You can search me if you want to," continued Dodger, proudly. "You won't find no money on me."

"Do you think I am a fool, you young burglar?" exclaimed John Linden, angrily.

"Uncle, let me speak to the boy," said Curtis, soothingly. "I think he will tell me."

"As you like, Curtis; but I am convinced that he is a thief."

Curtis Waring beckoned Dodger into an adjoining room.

"Now, my boy," he said, smoothly, "give me what you took from the secretary, and I will see that you are not arrested."

"But, sir, I didn't take nothing--it's just as I told the old duffer. The girl waked up just as I'd got the secretary open, and I didn't have a chance."

"But the money is gone," said Curtis, in an incredulous tone.

"I don't know nothing about that."

"Come, you'd better examine your pockets. In the hurry of the moment you may have taken it without knowing it."

"No, I couldn't."

"Didn't you take a paper of any kind?" asked Curtis, eagerly. "Sometimes papers are of more value than money."

"No, I didn't take no paper, though Tim told me to."

Curtis quietly ignored the allusion to Tim, for it did not suit his purpose to get Tim into trouble. His unscrupulous agent knew too much that would compromise his principal.

"Are you willing that I should examine you?"

"Yes, I am. Go ahead."

Curtis thrust his hand into the pockets of the boy, who, boy as he was, was as tall as himself, but was not repaid by the discovery of anything. He was very much perplexed.

"Didn't you throw the articles on the floor?" he demanded, suspiciously.

"No, I didn't."

"You didn't give them to the young lady?"

"No; if I had she'd have said so."

"Humph! this is strange. What is your name?"


"That's a queer name; have you no other?"

"Not as I know of."

"With whom do you live?"

"With my father. Leastways, he says he's my father."

There was a growing suspicion in the mind of Curtis Waring. He scanned the boy's features with attention. Could this ill-dressed boy--a street boy in appearance--be his long-lost and deeply wronged cousin?

"Who is it that says he is your father?" he demanded, abruptly.

"Do you want to get him into trouble?"

"No, I don't want to get him into trouble, or you either. Better tell me all, and I will be your friend."

"You're a better sort than I thought at first," said Dodger. "The man I live with is called Tim Bolton."

"I though so," quickly ejaculated Curtis. He had scarcely got out the words before he was sensible that he had made a mistake.

"What! do you know Tim?" inquired Dodger, in surprise.

"I mean," replied Curtis, lamely, "that I have heard of this man Bolton. He keeps a saloon on the Bowery, doesn't he?"


"I thought you would be living with some such man. Did he come to the house with you tonight?"


"Where is he?"

"He stayed outside."

"Perhaps he is there now."

"Don't you go to having him arrested," said Dodger, suspiciously.

"I will keep my promise. Are you sure you didn't pass out the paper and the money to him? Think now."

"No, I didn't. I didn't have a chance. When I came into the room yonder I saw the gal asleep, and I thought she wouldn't hear me, but when I got the desk open she spoke to me, and asked me what I was doin'."

"And you took nothing?"


"It seems very strange. I cannot understand it. Yet my uncle says the money is gone. Did anyone else enter the room while you were talking with Miss Linden?"

"I didn't see any one."

"What were you talking about?"

"She said the old man wanted her to marry you, and she didn't want to."

"She told you that?" exclaimed Curtis, in displeasure.

"Yes, she did. She said she'd rather marry the dude that was here early this evenin'."

"Mr. de Brabazon!"

"Yes, that's the name."

"Upon my word, she was very confidential. You are a queer person for her to select as a confidant."

"Maybe so, sir; but she knows I'm her friend."

"You like the young lady, then? Perhaps you would like to marry her yourself?"

"As if she'd take any notice of a poor boy like me. I told her if her uncle sent her away, I'd take care of her and be a brother to her."

"How would Mr. Tim Bolton--that's his name, isn't it?--like that?"

"I wouldn't take her to where he lives."

"I think, myself, it would hardly be a suitable home for a young lady brought up on Madison Avenue. There is certainly no accounting for tastes. Miss Florence----"

"That's her name, is it?"

"Yes; didn't she tell you?"

"No; but it's a nice name."

"She declines my hand, and accepts your protection. It will certainly be a proud distinction to become Mrs. Dodger."

"Don't laugh at her!" said Dodger, suspiciously.

"I don't propose to. But I think we may as well return to the library."

"Well," said Mr. Linden, as his nephew returned with Dodger.

"I have examined the boy, and found nothing on his person," said Curtis; "I confess I am puzzled. He appears to have a high admiration for Florence----"

"As I supposed."

"She has even confided to him her dislike for me, and he has offered her his protection."

"Is this so, miss?" demanded Mr. Linden, sternly.

"Yes, uncle," faltered Florence.

"Then you can join the young person you have selected whenever you please. For your sake I will not have him arrested for attempted burglary. He is welcome to what he has taken, since he is likely to marry into the family. You may stay here to-night, and he can call for you in the morning."

John Linden closed the secretary, and left the room, leaving Florence sobbing. The servants, too, retired, and Curtis was left alone with her.

"Florence," he said, "accept my hand, and I will reconcile my uncle to you. Say but the word, and----"

"I can never speak it, Curtis! I will take my uncle at his word. Dodger, call for me to-morrow at eight, and I will accept your friendly services in finding me a new home."

"I'll be on hand, miss. Good-night!"

"Be it so, obstinate girl!" said Curtis, angrily. "The time will come when you will bitterly repent your mad decision." _

Read next: Chapter 7. Florence Leaves Home

Read previous: Chapter 5. Dodger

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