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The Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus, a novel by Horatio Alger

Chapter 34. Some Important Information

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Two or three days later, the circus was billed to show at Glendale, a manufacturing village in Western Pennsylvania. The name attracted the attention of Kit, for this was the place where his uncle had lived for many years previous to the death of Kit's father. He naturally desired to learn something of his uncle's reputation among the villagers, who from his long residence among them must remember him well.

The circus had arrived during the night. As a general thing Kit was not in a hurry to get up, but as he was to stay but a day in Glendale, he rose early, with the intention of improving his time.

Breakfast in the circus tent was not ready till nine o'clock, for circus men of every description get up late, except the razorbacks, who are compelled to be about very early to unload the freight cars, and the canvas men, who put up the tents. So Kit went to the hotel, and registering his name called for breakfast.

After he had eaten it, he strolled into the office, hoping to meet some one of whom he could make inquiries respecting his uncle. This was made unexpectedly easy. A man of about his uncle's age had been examining the list of arrivals. He looked at Kit inquisitively.

"I beg your pardon, young man," he said, "but are you Christopher Watson?"

"Yes, sir," answered Kit, politely.

"Did you ever have any relatives living in this place?"

"Yes, sir. My uncle, Stephen Watson, used to live here."

"I thought so. I once saw your father. He came here to visit your uncle. You look like him."

Kit was gratified, for he cherished a warm affection for his dead father, and was glad to have it said that he resembled him.

"Are you going to stay here long?" asked the villager.

"No, sir; I am here only for the day."

"On business, I presume."

"Yes, sir," answered Kit, smiling. "I am here with Barlow's circus."

The other looked amazed.

"You don't mean to say that you are connected with the circus?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, sir."

"In what capacity?"

"I am an acrobat."

"I don't understand it at all. Why should your father's son need to travel with a circus?"

"Because I have my living to earn, and that pays me better than any other employment I can get."

"But your father was a rich man, I always heard."

"I supposed so myself, till a short time since my uncle informed me that I was penniless, and must learn a trade."

"But where did the money go, then? How does your uncle make a living?"

"He has my father's old place, and appears to have enough to support himself and Ralph."

"Sit down here, young man! There is something strange about this. I want to ask you a few questions."

"You are the man I want to see," said Kit. "I think myself there is some mystery, and I would like to ask some questions about my uncle Stephen from some one who knew him here. I suppose you knew him?"

"No one knew him better. Many is the time he has come to me for a loan. He didn't always pay back the money, and I dare say he owes me still in the neighborhood of fifty dollars."

"Was he poor then?"

"He was in very limited circumstances. He pretended to be in the insurance business, and had a small office in the building near the hotel, but if he made four hundred dollars a year in that way it was more than any one supposed."

"Then," said Kit, puzzled, "how could he have lent my father ten thousand dollars?"

"He lend you father ten thousand dollars, or anybody else ten thousand dollars! Why, that is perfectly ridiculous. Who says he did?"

"He says so himself."

"To whom did he tell that fish story?"

"He told me. That is the way he explained his taking possession of the property. That was only one loan. He said he lent father money at various times, and had to take the estate in payment."

Kit's auditor gave a loud whistle.

"The man's a deeper and shrewder rascal than I had any idea of," he said. "He is swindling you in the most barefaced manner."

"I am not very much surprised to hear it," said Kit. "I was not satisfied that he was telling the truth. If you are correct, then, he has wrongfully appropriated my father's money."

"There is not a doubt of it. Did he drive you from home?"

"About the same. He attempted to apprentice me to a blacksmith, while his own son Ralph he means to send to college, and have him study law."

"I remember Ralph well, though he was a small boy when he left this village. He was very unpopular among those of his own age. He was always up to some mean act of mischief. He got my boy into trouble once in school by charging him with something he had himself done."

"He hasn't changed much, then," said Kit. "We both attended the same boarding school, but nobody liked Ralph."

"Was he much of a scholar?"

"No; he dragged along in the lower half of the class."

"Were you two good friends?"

"We didn't quarrel, but we kept apart."

"So his father wants to make a lawyer of him?"

"Yes; I have had a letter from Smyrna in which I hear that my uncle has just bought Ralph a bicycle valued at a hundred and twenty-five dollars."

"Money seems to be more plenty with him now than it used to be in his Glendale days. By the way would you like to see the place where your uncle used to live?"

"Yes, sir, if you don't mind showing me."

"I will do so with pleasure. Put on your hat, and we will go at once."

They walked about a third of a mile, till they reached the outskirts of the village.

"This is the home of the foreign population," said Kit's guide. "And there is the house which was occupied for at least ten years by your uncle."

Kit eyed the building with interest. It was a plain looking cottage, containing but four rooms, which stood badly in need of paint. There was about an acre of land, rocky and sterile, attached to it.

"This is the residence of the man who lent your father ten thousand dollars," said his guide, in an ironical tone. "Not much of a palace, is it?"

"It can't be worth over a thousand dollars."

"Your uncle sold it for seven hundred and eighty dollars, but he didn't get that sum in money, for it was mortgaged for six hundred."

"You said my father came here once?"

"It was to visit your uncle. While he was here, he stood security at the tailor's for new suits for your uncle and cousin, and must have given your uncle some cash besides, for he appeared to be in funds for some time afterwards. So you see the loan, or rather gift, was on the other side."

"I don't see how my uncle dared to misrepresent matters in that way."

"Nor I; for he could easily be convicted of fraudulent statements."

"I am very much obliged to you, Mr.----"


"Mr. Pierce, for your information."

"I hope you will make some use of it."

"I certainly shall," said Kit, his good humored face showing unwonted resolution.

"Whenever you do, my testimony will be at your service, and there are plenty others who will corroborate my statements of your uncle's financial condition when here. The fact is, my young friend, your uncle has engaged in a most shameless plot against you."

Kit was deeply impressed by this conversation. He was resolved, when the time came, to assert his rights, and lay claim to his dead father's property. _

Read next: Chapter 35. On The Trapeze

Read previous: Chapter 33. Dick Hayden Meets With Retribution

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