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The Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success, a fiction by Horatio Alger

Chapter 18. The Conspiracy Succeeds

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In a handsome private parlor at the Continental Hotel a man of about forty-five years of age sat in an easy-chair. He was of middle height, rather dark complexion, and a pleasant expression. His right foot was bandaged, and rested on a chair. The morning Daily Ledger was in his hand, but he was not reading. His mind, judging from his absorbed look, was occupied with other thoughts.

"I can hardly realize," he said half-aloud, "that my boy will so soon be restored to my arms. We have been separated by a cruel fate, but we shall soon be together again. I remember how the dear child looked when I left him at Fultonville in the care of the kind inn-keeper. I am sorry he is dead, but his widow shall be suitably repaid for her kind devotion."

He had reached this point when a knock was heard at the door.

"Come in!" said Mr. Granville.

A servant of the hotel appeared.

"A lady and a boy are in the parlor below, sir. They wish to see you."

Though Mr. Granville had considerable control over his feelings, his heart beat fast when he heard these words.

"Will you show them up at once?" he said, in a tone which showed some trace of agitation.

The servant bore the message to Mrs. Brent and Jonas, who were sitting in the hotel parlor.

If Mr. Granville was agitated, the two conspirators were not wholly at their ease. There was a red spot on each of Mrs. Brent's cheeks--her way of expressing emotion--and Jonas was fidgeting about uneasily in his chair, staring about him curiously.

"Mind what I told you," said his mother, in a low voice. "Remember to act like a boy who has suddenly been restored to his long-lost father. Everything depends on first impressions."

"I wish it was all over; I wish I was out of it," said Jonas, wiping the perspiration from his face. "Suppose he suspects?"

"He won't if you do as I tell you. Don't look gawky, but act naturally."

Just then the servant reappeared.

"You are to come up-stairs," he said. "The gentleman will see you."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Brent, rising. "Come."

Jonas rose, and with the manner of a cur that expected a whipping, followed his mother and the servant.

"It's only one flight," said the servant, "but we can take the elevator."

"It is of no consequence," Mrs. Brent began, but Jonas said eagerly:

"Let's ride on the elevator, ma!"

"Very well, Philip," said Mrs. Brent.

A minute later the two stood at the door of Mr. Granville's room. Next they stood in his presence.

Mr. Granville, looking eagerly toward the door, passed over Mrs. Brent, and his glance rested on the boy who followed her. He started, and there was a quick feeling of disappointment. He had been picturing to himself how his lost boy would look, but none of his visions resembled the awkward-looking boy who stood sheepishly by the side of Mrs. Brent.

"Mr. Granville, I presume," said the lady.

"Yes, madam. You are----"

"Mrs. Brent, and this," pointing to Jonas, "is the boy you left at Fultonville thirteen years ago. Philip, go to your father."

Jonas advanced awkwardly to Mr. Granville's chair, and said in parrot-like tones:

"I'm so glad to see you, pa!"

"And you are really Philip?" said Mr. Granville slowly.

"Yes, I'm Philip Brent; but I suppose my name is Granville now."

"Come here, my boy!"

Mr. Granville drew the boy to him, and looked earnestly in his face, then kissed him affectionately.

"He has changed since he was a little child, Mrs. Brent," he said, with a half-sigh.

"That's to be expected, sir. He was only three years old when you left him with us."

"But it seems to me that his hair and complexion are lighter."

"You can judge of that better than I," said Mrs. Brent plausibly. "To me, who have seen him daily, the change was not perceptible."

"I am greatly indebted to you for your devoted care--to you and your husband. I am grieved to hear that Mr. Brent is dead."

"Yes, sir; he left me six months since. It was a grievous loss. Ah, sir, when I give up Philip also, I shall feel quite alone in the world," and she pressed a handkerchief to her eyes. "You see, I have come to look upon him as my own boy!"

"My dear madam, don't think that I shall be so cruel as to take him from you. Though I wish him now to live with me, you must accompany him. My home shall be yours if you are willing to accept a room in my house and a seat at my table."

"Oh, Mr. Granville, how can I thank you for your great kindness? Ever since I received your letter I have been depressed with the thought that I should lose dear Philip. If I had a child of my own it would be different; but, having none, my affections are centered upon him."

"And very naturally," said Mr. Granville. "We become attached to those whom we benefit. Doubtless he feels a like affection for you. You love this good lady, Philip, who has supplied to you the place of your own mother, who died in your infancy, do you not?"

"Yes, sir," answered Jonas stolidly. "But I want to live with my pa!"

"To be sure you shall. My boy, we have been separated too long already. Henceforth we will live together, and Mrs. Brent shall live with us."

"Where do you live, pa?" asked Jonas.

"I have a country-seat a few miles from Chicago," answered Mr. Granville. "We will go there as soon as I am well enough. I ought to apologize, Mrs. Brent, for inviting you up to my room, but my rheumatism makes me a prisoner."

"I hope your rheumatism will soon leave you, sir."

"I think it will. I have an excellent physician, and already I am much better. I may, however, have to remain here a few days yet."

"And where do you wish Philip and I to remain in the meantime?"

"Here, of course. Philip, will you ring the bell?"

"I don't see any bell," answered Jonas, bewildered.

"Touch that knob!"

Jonas did so.

"Will that ring the bell?" he asked curiously.

"Yes, it is an electric bell."

"By gosh!" ejaculated Jonas.

"Don't use such language, Philip!" said Mrs. Brent hastily. "Your father will be shocked. You see, Mr. Granville, Philip has associated with country boys, and in spite of my care, he has adopted some of their language."

Mr. Granville himself was rather disturbed by this countrified utterance, and it occurred to him that his new-found son needed considerable polishing.

"Ah, I quite understand that, Mrs. Brent," he said courteously. "He is young yet, and there will be plenty of time for him to get rid of any objectionable habits and phrases."

Here the servant appeared.

"Tell the clerk to assign this lady and the boy rooms on this floor if any are vacant. Mrs. Brent, Philip may have a room next to you for the present. When I am better I will have him with me. John, is dinner on the table?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then, after taking possession of your rooms, you and Philip had better go to dinner. I will send for him later."

"Thank you, sir."

As Mrs. Brent was ushered into her handsome apartment her face was radiant with joy and exultation.

"All has gone well!" she said. "The most difficult part is over." _

Read next: Chapter 19. A Narrow Escape From Detection

Read previous: Chapter 17. Jonas Joins The Conspiracy

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