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

Chapter 32. Phil Is Robbed

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When he was fairly in the room Phil looked about him expecting to see Mr. Carter, but the room appeared unoccupied. He turned to his companion, a look of surprise on his face, but he was destined to be still more surprised, and that not in a pleasant way. His guide had locked the door from the inside and put the key in his pocket.

"What does that mean?" asked Phil, with sudden apprehension.

"What do you refer to?" asked his guide with an unpleasant smile.

"Why do you lock the door?"

"I thought it might be safest," was the significant answer.

"I don't believe Mr. Carter is in the house at all," said Phil quickly.

"I don't believe he is either, youngster."

"Why did you tell me he was here?" demanded Phil, with rising indignation.

"I thought you wouldn't come if I didn't," replied his companion nonchalantly.

"Answer me one thing, is Mr. Carter sick at all?"

"Not that I know of."

"Then I am trapped!"

"Precisely. You may as well know the truth now."

Phil had already conjectured the reason why he had been enticed to this poor dwelling. The two hundred dollars which he had in his pocket made him feel very uncomfortable. I think I may say truly that if the money had been his own he would have been less disturbed. But he thought, with a sinking heart, that if the money should be taken from him, he would himself fall under suspicion, and he could not bear to have Mr. Carter think that he had repaid his kindness with such black ingratitude. He might be mistaken. The man before him might not know he had such a sum of money in his possession, and of course he was not going to give him the information.

"I am glad Mr. Carter is all right," said Phil. "Now tell me why you have taken such pains to get me here?"

"Why, as to that," said his companion, "there were at least two hundred good reasons."

Phil turned pale, for he understood now that in some way his secret was known.

"What do you mean?" he asked, not wholly able to conceal his perturbed feelings.

"You know well enough, boy," said the other significantly. "You've got two hundred dollars in your pocket. I want it."

"Are you a thief, then?" said Phil, with perhaps imprudent boldness.

"Just take care what you say. I won't be insulted by such a whipper-snapper as you. You'd better not call names. Hand over that money!"

"How do you know I have any money?" Phil asked, trying to gain a little time for deliberation.

"No matter. Hand it over, I say!"

"Don't take it!" said Phil, agitated. "It isn't mine!"

"Then you needn't mind giving it up."

"It belongs to Mr. Carter."

"He has plenty more."

"But he will think I took it. He will think I am dishonest."

"That is nothing to me."

"Let me go," pleaded Phil, "and I will never breathe a word about your wanting to rob me. You know you might get into trouble for it."

"That's all bosh! The money, I say!" said the man sternly.

"I won't give it to you!" said Phil boldly.

"You won't, hey? Then I shall have to take it. If I hurt you, you will have yourself to blame."

So saying the man seized Phil, and then a struggle ensued, the boy defending himself as well as he could. He made a stouter resistance than the thief anticipated, and the latter became irritated with the amount of trouble he had to take it. I should be glad to report that Phil made a successful defense, but this was hardly to be expected. He was a strong boy, but he had to cope with a strong man, and though right was on his side, virtue in his case had to succumb to triumphant vice.

Phil was thrown down, and when prostrate, with the man's knee on his breast, the latter succeeded in stripping him of the money he had so bravely defended.

"There, you young rascal!" he said, as he rose to his feet; "you see how much good you have done. You might as well have given up the money in the first place."

"It was my duty to keep it from you, if I could," said Phil, panting with his exertions.

"Well, if that's any satisfaction to you, you're welcome to it."

He went to the door and unlocked it.

"May I go now?" asked Phil.

"Not much. Stay where you are!"

A moment later and Phil found himself alone and a prisoner. _

Read next: Chapter 33. A Terrible Situation

Read previous: Chapter 31. Phil Is Shadowed

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