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

Chapter 34. Phil's Friends And His Enemies

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Meanwhile, Phil's long absence had excited anxiety and alarm.

"What can have become of Philip?" said Mr. Carter when supper time came and he did not arrive.

"I can't think," answered Mrs. Forbush. "He is generally very prompt."

"That is what makes me feel anxious. I am afraid something must have happened to him."

"Did you send him anywhere, Uncle Oliver?"

"Yes; he called, as usual, to get my check from Mr. Pitkin."

"And he ought to have been here earlier?"

"Certainly. He wouldn't have to wait for that."

"Philip is very careful. I can't think that he has met with an accident."

"Even the most prudent and careful get into trouble sometimes."

They were finally obliged to sit down to supper alone. None of the three enjoyed it. Not only Mr. Carter and Mrs. Forbush, but Julia was anxious and troubled.

"I didn't know I cared so much for the boy," said Uncle Oliver. "He has endeared himself to me. I care nothing for the loss of the money if he will only return safe."

It was about a quarter of eight when the door-bell rang, and the servant ushered in Mr. and Mrs. Pitkin and Alonzo.

After the usual greetings were interchanged, Mrs. Pitkin said, looking about her:

"Where is Philip?"

"We are very much concerned about him," said Mr. Carter, his face showing his trouble. "He has not been home since morning. Did he call at your store, Pitkin?"

"Hasn't he been home since?" asked Pitkin, in a tone unpleasantly significant.

"No. At what time did he leave the store?"

"Hours since. I--I am not sure but I may be able to throw some light on his failure to return."

"Do so, if you can!" said Uncle Oliver.

"In place of giving him a check, I gave the boy two hundred dollars in bills."


"Don't you see? The temptation has proved too strong for him. I think, Uncle Oliver, you won't see him back in a hurry."

"Do you mean to say the boy would steal?" demanded the old gentleman indignantly.

"I think it more than likely that he has appropriated the money."

"I am sure he has not," said Mrs. Forbush.

"And so am I," chimed in Julia.

Mr. Pitkin shrugged his shoulders.

"So you think," he answered; "but I don't agree with you."

"Nor I!" said Mrs. Pitkin, nodding her head vigorously. "I never had any confidence in the boy. I don't mind telling you now that I have warned Alonzo not to get too intimate with him. You remember it, Lonny?"

"Yes'm," responded Lonny.

"Then you think the boy capable of appropriating the money?" asked Mr. Carter quietly.

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I don't!" said Uncle Oliver emphatically.

"You are very easily deceived," said Mrs. Pitkin.

"Don't be too sure of that," returned Mr. Carter, with a significant glance, that made his niece feel uncomfortable.

"I suspect you will have to admit it," said Mr. Pitkin. "If, contrary to my anticipation, the boy returns, and brings the money with him, I will own myself mistaken."

Just then the front door was heard to open; there was a sound of steps in the hall, and Phil came hurriedly into the room.

Mr. and Mrs. Pitkin exchanged looks of surprise and dismay; but Mrs. Forbush, her daughter and Uncle Oliver looked delighted. _

Read next: Chapter 35. The Pitkins Retire In Disgust

Read previous: Chapter 33. A Terrible Situation

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