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

Chapter 20. A Midnight Ride

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_ Chapter XX. A Midnight Ride

Curtis Waring had entrapped Dodger for a double purpose.

It was not merely that he thought it possible the boy had the will, or knew where it was. He had begun to think of the boy's presence in New York as dangerous to his plans.

John Linden might at any time learn that the son, for whose appearance he had grieved so bitterly, was still living in the person of this street boy. Then there would be an end of his hopes of inheriting the estate.

Only a few months more and the danger would be over, for he felt convinced that his uncle's tenure of life would be brief. The one essential thing, then, seemed to be to get Dodger out of the city.

The first step had already been taken; what the next was will soon appear.

Scarcely had Dodger failed in his attempt to obtain outside assistance when an unaccountable drowsiness overcame him, considerably to his surprise.

"I don't know what's come to me," he said to himself. "It can't be more than seven or eight o'clock, and yet I feel so sleepy I can hardly keep my eyes open. I haven't worked any harder than usual to-day, and I can't understand it."

Dodger had reason to be surprised, for he didn't usually retire till eleven o'clock.

In a city like New York, where many of the streets are tolerably well filled even at midnight, people get in the way of sitting up much later than in the country, and Dodger was no exception to this rule.

Yet here he was ready to drop off to sleep before eight o'clock. To him it was a mystery, for he did not know that the cup of tea which he had drunk at supper had been drugged by direction of Curtis Waring, with an ulterior purpose, which will soon appear.

"I may as well lie down, as there is nothing else to do," thought Dodger. "There isn't much fun sitting in the dark. If I can sleep, so much the better."

Five minutes had scarcely passed after his head struck the pillow, when our hero was fast asleep.

At eleven o'clock a hack stopped in front of the house, and Curtis Waring descended from it.

"Stay here," he said to the driver. "There will be another passenger. If you are detained I will make it right when I come to pay you."

"All right, sir," said the hackman. "I don't care how long it is if I am paid for my time."

Curtis opened the door with a pass-key, and found Julius dozing in a chair in the hall.

"Wake up, you sleepy-head," he said. "Has anything happened since I left here?"

"Yes, sir; the boy tried to get away."

"Did he? I don't see how he could do that. You kept the door bolted, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir; but he throwed a piece of paper out'n de window, sayin' he was kep' a prisoner here. A young man picked it up, and came to de house to ax about it."

Curtis looked alarmed.

"What did you say?" he inquired, apprehensively.

"Told him de boy was crazy as a loon--dat he tried to kill his mother las' week, and had a carvin'-knife hid in his room."

"Good, Julius! I didn't give you credit for such a fertile imagination.

"What's dat, massa?" asked Julius, looking puzzled.

"I didn't know you were such a skillful liar."

"Yah! yah!" laughed Julius, quite comprehending this compliment. "I reckon I can twis' de trufe pretty well, Massa Curtis!"

"You have done well, Julius," said Curtis, approvingly. "Here's a dollar!"

The negro was quite effusive in his gratitude.

"What did the young man say?"

"He looked scared. I tol' him he could go up and see de boy if he wasn't afeared of the carvin'-knife, but he said he guessed he wouldn't--he didn't like crazy folks."

Curtis laughed heartily.

"So it all ended as it should. Did the boy make any more trouble?"

"Yes; he pounded and kicked till I had to go up and see what was the matter. I didn't give him no satisfaction, and I guess he went to bed."

"He ought to be in a deep sleep by this time. I will go up and see. Go up with me, Julius, for I may have to ask you to help me bring him down."

Though Julius was naturally a coward, he felt quite brave when he had company, and he at once went upstairs with Curtis Waring.

Curtis drew the bolt, and, entering the chamber, his glance fell upon Dodger, fast asleep on the bed.

"I am glad the boy did not undress," he said. "It will save me a great deal of trouble. Now, Julius, you can take his feet and I will lift his head, and we will take him downstairs."

"S'pos'n he wakes up, Massa Curtis?"

"He won't wake up. I took care the sleeping potion should be strong enough to produce profound slumber for eighteen hours."

"Seems as if he was dead," said Julius, nervously.

"Tush, you fool! He's no more dead than you or I."

The hackman looked curious when the two men appeared with their sleeping burden, and Curtis felt that some explanation was required.

"The boy has a very painful disease," he said, "and the doctor gave him a sleeping draught. He is going abroad for his health, and, under the circumstances, I think it best not to wake him up. Drive slowly and carefully to Pier No. --, as I don't want the boy aroused if it can be helped."

"All right, sir."

"Julius, you may lock the door and come with me. I shall need your help to get him on board the ship."

"All right, Massa Curtis."

"And, mind you, don't go to sleep in the carriage, you black rascal!" added Curtis, as he saw that the negro found it hard to keep his eyes open.

"All right, massa, I'll keep awake. How am I to get home?"

"I will instruct the hackman to take you home."

"Yah, yah; I'll be ridin' like a gentleman!"

The journey was successfully accomplished, but it took an hour, for, according to directions, the hackman did not force his pace, but drove slowly, till he reached the North River pier indicated.

At the pier was a large, stanch vessel--the _Columbia_--bound for San Francisco, around Cape Horn.

All was dark, but the second officer was pacing the deck.

Curtis Waring hailed him.

"What time do you get off?"

"Early to-morrow morning."

"So the captain told me. I have brought you a passenger."

"The captain told me about him."

"Is his stateroom ready?"

"Yes, sir. You are rather late."

"True; and the boy is asleep, as you will see. He is going to make the voyage for his health, and, as he has been suffering some pain, I thought I would not wake him up. Who will direct me to his stateroom?"

The mate summoned the steward, and Dodger, still unconscious, was brought on board and quietly transferred to the bunk that had been prepared for him.

It was a critical moment for poor Dodger, but he was quite unconscious of it.

"What is the boy's name?" asked the mate.

"Arthur Grant. The captain has it on his list. Is he on board?"

"Yes; but he is asleep."

"I do not need to see him. I have transacted all necessary business with him--and paid the passage money. Julius, bring the valise."

Julius did so.

"This contains the boy's clothing. Take it to the stateroom, Julius."

"All right, Massa Curtis."

"What is your usual time between New York and San Francisco?" asked Curtis, addressing the mate.

"From four to six months. Four months is very short, six months very long. We ought to get there in five months, or perhaps a little sooner, with average weather."

"Very well. I believe there is no more to be said. Good-night!"

"Good-night, sir."

"So he is well out of the way for five months!" soliloquized Curtis. "In five months much may happen. Before that time I hope to be in possession of my uncle's property. Then I can snap my fingers at fate." _

Read next: Chapter 21. A Seasick Passenger

Read previous: Chapter 19. An Attempt To Escape

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