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

Chapter 36. Close Of The Circus

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Days and weeks flew swiftly by. September gave place to October, and the circus season neared its close. Already the performers were casting about for employment during the long, dull winter that must elapse before the next season.

"What are your plans, Kit?" asked Antonio Vincenti, who in private called his young associate by his real name.

"I don't know yet, Antonio. I may go to school."

"Have you saved money enough to keep you through the winter?"

"Yes; I have four hundred dollars in the wagon."

This is the expression made use of to indicate "in the hands of the treasurer."

"You've done better than my brother or I. We must work during the winter."

"Have you any chance yet?"

"Yes; we can go to work in a dime museum in Philadelphia for a month, and afterwards we will go to Chicago, where we were last winter. I could get a chance for you, too."

"Thank you, but I don't care to work in that way at present. If I went anywhere I would go to Havana, where I am offered a profitable engagement."

"Has Mr. Barlow said anything to you about next season?"

"Yes; but I shall make no engagement in advance. Something may happen which will keep me at home."

"Oh, you'll be coming round in the spring. You'll have the circus fever like all the rest of us."

Kit smiled and shook his head.

"I haven't been in the business long enough to get so much attached to it as you are," he said. "But at any rate, I shall come round to see my old friends."

The last circus performance was given in Albany, and the winter quarters were to be at a town twenty miles distant. Kit went through his acts with his usual success, and when he took off his circus costume, it was with a feeling that it might be the last time he would wear it.

The breaking up was not to take place till the next day, and he was preparing to spend the night in some Albany hotel.

He had taken off his tights, as has been said, and put on his street dress, when a tall man, with a frank, good humored expression, stepped up to him.

"Are you Christopher Watson?" he asked.

"Yes," answered Kit, in surprise, for he had no recollection of having met the stranger before.

"Of course you don't know me, but I was a school-fellow and intimate friend of your father."

"Then," said Kit, cordially, "I must take you by the hand. All my father's friends are my friends."

The face of the stranger lighted up.

"That's the way to talk," he said. "I see you are like your father. Shake hands again."

"But how did you know I was with Barlow's circus?" asked Kit, puzzled.

"Your uncle told me."

"Have you seen him lately?" asked Kit, quickly.

"No; I saw him about three months ago at Smyrna."

"What did he tell you about me?"

"He said you were a wayward lad, and preferred traveling with a circus to following an honest business."

"I am afraid you have got a wrong idea of me, then."

"Bless you, I knew your uncle before you were born. He is not at all like your father. One was as open as the day, the other was cunning, selfish, and foxy."

"I see you understand my Uncle Stephen as well as I do."

"I ought to."

"Were you surprised to hear that I was traveling with a circus?"

"Well, I was; but your uncle told me one thing that surprised me more. He said that your father left nothing."

"That surprised me, too; but I have got some light on the subject and I feel in need of a friend and adviser."

"Then if you'll take Henry Miller for want of a better, I don't believe you'll regret it."

"I shall be glad to accept your kind offer, Mr. Miller. Now that you mention your name, I remember it very well. My father often spoke of you."

"Did he so?" said the stranger, evidently much gratified. "I am glad to hear it. Of all my school companions, your father was the one I liked best. And now, before we go any further, I want to tell you two things. First, I should have hunted you up sooner, but business called me to California, where I have considerable property. Next, having learned that you were left destitute, I decided to do something for the son of my old friend. So I took a hundred shares of stock in a new mine, which had just been put on the market when I reached 'Frisco, and I said to myself: 'That is for Kit Watson.' Well, it was a lucky investment. The shares cost me five dollars apiece, and just before I left California I sold them for fifty dollars apiece. What do you say to that?"

"Is it possible mining shares rise in value so fast?" asked Kit in amazement.

"Well, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. Often it's the other way, and I don't advise you or anybody else that knows nothing about it to speculate in mining shares. It is a risky thing, and you are more apt to lose than to win. However, this turned out O. K., and you are worth five thousand dollars to-day, my boy."

"I don't know how to thank you, Mr. Miller," said Kit. "I can't seem to realize it."

"You needn't thank me at all. I did it for your father's sake, but now that I know you I am glad to do it for your own. When we get to New York I advise you to salt it down in government bonds, or in some other good reliable stock."

"I shall be glad to follow your advice, Mr. Miller."

"Then I'll invest all but five hundred dollars, for you may want to use that. What sort of a season have you had?"

"I've saved up four hundred dollars," said Kit proudly.

"You don't say so! You must have got pretty good pay."

"Twenty-five dollars a week."

"Your uncle said you probably got two or three dollars a week."

"He probably thought so. He has no idea I have been so well paid. I chose to keep it from him."

"You said you wanted to ask my advice about something."

"Yes, sir."

"Why not come round to the Delavan and take a room? I am staying there, and I will tell the clerk to pick you out a room next to mine."

"I will do so. I intended to stay at some hotel to night. This is the last night of the circus. To-morrow we close up, and separate. I shall draw my money and bid good-by to my circus friends."

"I am glad of that. We will keep together. I have neither chick nor child, Kit, and if you'll accept me as your guardian I'll do the best I can for you. But perhaps you prefer to go back to your uncle."

Kit shook his head.

"I should never do that," he said, "especially after what I have learned during my trip."

"Let it keep till to-morrow, for we are both tired. Now get ready and we'll go to the Delavan."

Kit was assigned a nice room next to Mr. Miller, where he passed a comfortable night.

The next day he revealed to his new friend the discoveries he had made in his uncle's old home in Pennsylvania--his uncle's poverty up to the time of his brother's death, and the evident falseness of his claim to have lent him large sums of money, in payment of which he had coolly appropriated his entire estate.

His late friend listened to this story in amazement.

"I knew Stephen Watson to be unprincipled," he said, "but I didn't think him as bad as that. He has swindled you shamefully."

"Just my idea, Mr. Miller."

"While he has carefully feathered his own nest. This wrong must be righted."

"It was my intention to find some good lawyer, and ask his advice."

"We'll do it, Kit. But, first of all, I'll go with you to this town in Pennsylvania, and obtain the necessary testimony sworn to before a justice. Then we'll find a good lawyer, and move on the enemy's works."

"I will be guided by your advice entirely, Mr. Miller."

"It will be a satisfaction to me to get even with your uncle. To swindle his own nephew in this barefaced manner! We'll bring him up with a short turn, Kit!"

The next day Kit and his new friend left Albany. _

Read next: Chapter 37. Kit Comes Home

Read previous: Chapter 35. On The Trapeze

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