Mr. Gunnison had several children, including one boy of about Dean’s
age, who was disposed at first to regard our hero with distant respect
as a professional star, but soon became intimate with him on finding
that Dean had the same tastes as himself. This appeared to surprise him.
“I say,” he remarked, “I thought you wouldn’t have anything to say to a
fellow like me.”
“Why not?” asked Dean, innocently.
“Oh, because you’re a big gun.”
“You give concerts, and have your name in the papers.”
“Oh!” said Dean smiling, “I have to do that for a living, you know. I’m
only a boy after all.”
“And do you like to play baseball?”
“I only wish I had a chance.”
“Do you?” said Gus Gunnison, brightening up. “Well, our club is going
to play the Resolutes from the next town this afternoon. We are one man
short. Will you take his place?”
“Yes, I shall be glad to.”
“What place do you prefer?”
“I’ll take any you choose to give me.”
“Can you catch?”
“I like it better than anything else.”
“Then that’s settled. Come over and I’ll show you the ground, and
introduce you to some of the fellows.”
When the members of the Carterville club learned that the famous young
musician, Dean Dunham, had agreed to play on their side, they were very
much elated. There was, however, a slight uneasiness lest he should not
prove a skillful player, as they were eager to beat their visitors. A
little practice playing, however, showed them that Dean was quite equal
to any one in their club, and they became eager for the fray.
Dean did not disappoint them. He entered into the game with enthusiasm,
and played with unusual skill, so that the Resolutes were beaten by a
score of 18 to 8, and the victory was largely attributed to the good
playing of the new catcher, who proved equally good in batting.
The members of the club came up and tendered their thanks to Dean.
“If you can play on the harmonica as well as you can play ball,” said
Gus Gunnison, “you’ll do. Our club will attend the entertainment in a
body, and hear you.”
“I hope you won’t be disappointed,” said Dean smiling.
Evening came, and Dean was called upon to play at four different
points in the entertainment. On the front seats just facing him were
the members of the Active Baseball Club. Dean nodded to them from the
platform, and they felt proud of such a public recognition.
Dean was stimulated to do his best, as he did not wish his new friends
to be disappointed. During the day he practiced “Home, Sweet Home” with
variations, partly original, partly remembered from a performance to
which he had listened at a public entertainment a year or two previous.
His efforts were crowned with success. The applause, led by the members
of the Active club, was tumultuous, and Dean was compelled to repeat
He did so, but towards the close he nearly broke down in consequence of
a surprising discovery that he made. In looking round the audience, not
far from the center aisle his glance chanced to fall upon a face which
he had the best cause to remember.
It was no other than Mr. Peter Kirby, whose presence will be afterwards
Mr. Kirby on his part was even more amazed to find the country boy
whom he had left to his own resources emerging in such a conspicuous
manner into public notice. He had thought of Dean as wandering about
the country a forlorn and penniless tramp, begging for charity. How
on earth he had managed to achieve the position of a musical star
performer he could not imagine.
“That boy is getting dangerous,” thought he. “If the captain knew of
his success he would feel very nervous.”
Mr. Kirby was in Carterville as the guest of Dr. Sidney Thorp, a
wealthy gentleman, into whose good graces he had ingratiated himself
at a hotel where they chanced to meet. He had accepted Dr. Thorp’s
invitation to spend a couple of days at his house, with the intention
of robbing his hospitable entertainer if he should have the opportunity.
“A remarkable young performer!” said Dr. Thorp, as Dean closed his
“Yes,” assented Kirby absently. “How does he happen to be here?”
“He had been giving an entertainment in a town near by, in connection
with a variety actor. Our committee, finding that he gave
satisfaction, invited him to play here this evening.”
“Do you pay him anything?”
“Certainly,” answered Dr. Thorp, with surprise. “We couldn’t expect to
obtain a performer of so much talent gratuitously.”
Kirby opened his eyes in surprise at hearing his quondam secretary
spoken of in such terms.
“Do you know how much he is to be paid?”
“I believe he agreed to come for five dollars, considering that the
entertainment was for a charitable purpose.”
Kirby could scarcely refrain from whistling, so great was his surprise.
He recognized Dean some time before his former secretary’s glance fell
upon him. Dean’s start showed that the recognition was mutual.
“I am going to speak to this boy—Dean Dunham,” said he to Dr. Thorp,
when the entertainment was at an end.
“Mr. Gunnison will introduce you. Shall I ask him?”
“I need no introduction. The boy and I have met.”
Dean was standing on the platform watching the departing audience, when
he saw Mr. Kirby approaching. He felt a little nervous, not knowing
what the intentions of his old employer might be.
Kirby paused a moment, and a peculiar smile overspread his countenance.
“I presume you remember me?” he said.
“Yes,” answered Dean, coldly.
“I am rather surprised to meet you again under such circumstances.”
“I am rather surprised myself—at the circumstances.”
“You have become quite a star!” said Kirby with a sneer.
Dean answered gravely, “I had to make a living in some way. It was an
accident, my trying this way.”
“Would you like to return to me—as my secretary?”
“Thank you, Mr. Kirby, I prefer to travel independently.”
“Suppose I should tell why I discharged you? That might prove
inconvenient to you.”
“Then I should have a story to tell that might prove inconvenient to
you, Mr. Kirby.”
Dean looked Kirby straight in the face, and the latter saw that he no
longer had an inexperienced country boy to deal with, but one who might
prove dangerous to his plans.
“On the whole,” he said, after a pause, “suppose we both keep silence
as to the past.”
“I will do so, unless I should have occasion to speak.”
No one was near enough to listen to this conversation. Now Dr. Thorp
came up, and Kirby said with an abrupt turn of the conversation, “I am
glad to have met you again, my young friend. I wish you success.”
Dean bowed gravely, but didn’t speak. He was not prepared to wish
success to Peter Kirby, knowing what he did of him.
During the evening Dr. Thorp called at the house of Mr. Gunnison, but
unaccompanied by his guest. Dean had heard meanwhile at whose house
Kirby was staying, and he felt that he ought to drop a hint that would
put the unsuspecting host on his guard. He finally decided that it was
his duty to do so.
“May I speak with you a moment in private, Dr. Thorp?” he asked, as the
guest arose to go.
“Certainly,” answered the doctor, in some surprise.
Dean accompanied him into the hall.
“Do you know much of the gentleman who is staying at your house?” asked
“No; why do you ask?”
“Because I have reason to think that he is a professional thief.”
“Good Heavens! What do you mean!”
Dean briefly recounted the robberies of which he was himself cognizant,
adding that he gave this information in strict confidence. “I thought I
ought to put you on your guard,” he concluded.
“Thank you, Mr. Dunham,” said Dr. Thorp, warmly. “You have done me a
great service. I happen to have a considerable sum in money and bonds at
my house. I shall look out for Mr. Kirby,” he added, with a grim nod.
Dr. Thorp had been pleased with Peter Kirby, who had laid himself
out to be agreeable, and the doctor was far from suspecting his real
character. When this was revealed to him by Dean, he quickly decided to
test it for himself.
Some men, inclined to be nervous and timid, would have had their
apprehensions excited, and dreaded an encounter with a professional
criminal. But Dr. Thorp was cool, resolute and determined. He proposed
to facilitate Kirby’s designs, and catch him in a trap.
When he reached home he found Kirby smoking on the piazza.
“Have you been taking a walk, Doctor?” he asked.
“Yes,” answered Dr. Thorp. “I made a call on a neighbor. I hope you
have not been lonesome.”
“Oh, no! Your daughter has enabled me to pass the time pleasantly. But
I am glad to see you back.”
Had Kirby known that Dr. Thorp had had an interview with Dean Dunham,
his anxiety would have been excited.
“By the way, Doctor,” said Kirby with apparent carelessness, “I have a
little money to invest. Can you recommend any form of investment?”
“You might buy a house in the village and settle down. I believe the
next estate is for sale.”
“It would certainly be an inducement to become your neighbor,” said
Kirby politely, “but I am a rolling stone. I am always traveling. I
couldn’t content myself in any one place, not even in a large city.”
“I suspect your mode of life makes frequent removals necessary,”
thought Dr. Thorp, though he did not say so.
“Well, if you don’t care to invest in real estate,” he said a moment
later, “you might purchase government bonds or railroad securities.”
“To which do you give the preference?” asked Kirby.
The doctor smiled inwardly. He saw that Kirby was trying to ascertain
whether he had any negotiable securities in his possession, but he was
ready to play into his hands.
“Well,” he said, “I think well of both.”
“I had some government bonds at one time,” said Kirby, “but they were
stolen. That has made me cautious.”
“Perhaps you were careless.”
“No doubt I was. I kept them in a trunk at my boarding-house. I presume
you wouldn’t venture, even in a quiet village like this, to keep bonds
in your house?”
“Oh, yes, we never receive visits from thieves or burglars. I don’t
consider trunks so safe as—that cabinet.”
He pointed to a black walnut cabinet with several drawers standing in
one corner of the room.
Kirby’s face lighted up. He had got the information he desired, but he
resumed his indifferent manner.
“I think you are right,” he said. “Besides, in a town like Carterville,
as you say, thieves are hardly likely to be found.”
“Oh, dear, no!” said Dr. Thorp yawning. “I have no occasion to borrow
trouble on that score.”
“Living as I generally do in large cities where members of the criminal
class abound,” said Kirby, “I am naturally more suspicious than you. I
confess I wish I lived in a place of Arcadian innocence like this.”
Dr. Thorp smiled. He was amused to hear one whom he believed to be a
professional thief discourse in this manner.
“You might find it dull,” he said, a little satirically, “It would lack
the spice and excitement of wickedness.”
At a little after eleven Kirby signified that he was tired and was
conducted to his bed-chamber. Dr. Thorp remained behind, and opening
the lower drawer of his cabinet removed therefrom a roll of bank bills
and a five hundred dollar government bond.
“I think these will be safe in my trunk to-night,” he said to himself.
“Now, Mr. Kirby, you can explore the cabinet at your leisure. I doubt
if you will find enough to repay you for your trouble.”
Kirby occupied a chamber just over the sitting-room. He didn’t undress
himself, but threw himself on the bed to snatch a little rest.
“I found out very cleverly where the doctor kept his bonds,” he
soliloquized. “He is an innocent, unsuspicious man, luckily for me.
So no thieves or burglars ever visit Carterville,” he repeated with a
soft laugh. “The good doctor would have been mightily surprised had he
known the character of the man with whom he was talking. It is hardly
a credit to take in a simple-minded man like the doctor. I very much
regret the necessity of repaying his hospitality as I shall, but I
need the bonds more than he does.”
Kirby did not allow himself to sleep. There was important work to be
done, and he must not run the risk of oversleeping himself.
He waited impatiently till he heard the public clock strike midnight,
then taking off his shoes descended in his stocking feet to the
sitting-room. There stood the cabinet plainly visible in the glorious
moonlight that flooded the room, making artificial light unnecessary.
“It’s an easy job for a man of my experience to open it,” thought
Kirby. “I hope the doctor is sound asleep. He looks like a man who is
safe to sleep all night.”
From his pocket he produced a bunch of skeleton keys, which he at once
set himself to use. The lock on the drawer of the cabinet was a simple
one, presenting no difficulty, and in less than five minutes he opened
the upper drawer. A glance satisfied him that it contained nothing that
he could make available. In turn he opened the other drawers, with
equal ill success.
“The doctor must have fooled me!” he muttered impatiently, “or is there
some secret drawer that I have overlooked?”
This question he asked himself, but he was far from expecting an answer.
“You have examined the cabinet pretty thoroughly Mr. Kirby,” said a
cool, calm voice.
Kirby sprang to his feet in wild dismay. There, looking at him from the
doorway, was Dr. Thorp, his host, whom he was conspiring to rob.
“You are an early riser, are you not, Mr. Kirby?” said the doctor
Kirby quickly decided upon his course.
“Where am I?” he asked, passing his hand over his face in a bewildered
“Where are you? Don’t you recognize the room? A more pertinent query
would be, ‘What are you doing?'”
“Good Heavens!” ejaculated Kirby—”I—I see it now. That unfortunate
habit of walking in my sleep! What can you think of me?”
“Do you generally carry skeleton keys about with you when you walk in
your sleep, Mr. Kirby?” asked the doctor pointedly.
“I—I really don’t know how to explain,” stammered Kirby. “These keys
I found in my room on the morning after I was robbed. I took them with
me, thinking they might be of use if I should lose my regular keys.”
“Very ingeniously explained, upon my word!”
“It isn’t possible, Dr. Thorp, that you really take me for a thief! I
hope you have more confidence in me.”
“Well, it really did occur to me that you were a professional burglar.
Your last words which I overheard before intruding upon you seem to
bear out that supposition.”
“What were they?”
“‘_Is there some secret drawer that I have overlooked?_’ Perhaps you
will do me the favor to explain them.”
“I can’t. They were spoken unconsciously, I assure you. This habit of
walking in my sleep has got me into trouble several times before.”
“Then take my advice and discontinue it.”
“I will. I should have asked you to lock me in my chamber if I could
have foreseen what has happened.”
“Mr. Kirby,” said Dr. Thorp sternly, “you must think I am a simpleton
to be taken in by such a transparent falsehood. I was deceived in you,
I admit, but now I understand your real character. I won’t have you
arrested, though I ought, but I require you to leave my house at once.”
“In the middle of the night?” said Kirby in dismay.
“Yes. I cannot agree to shelter you even for the balance of the night.”
“Tell me one thing,” said Kirby, changing his tone; “did any one put
you on your guard against me?”
“It was Dean Dunham.”
“You can form your own conclusions.”
“That is all you need tell me. I understand it all. I will go to my
room and secure my luggage, and then bid you good-bye.”
“I will wait for you.”
“I owe you another debt, Dean Dunham!” said Kirby, as he left the house
with the pleasant prospect of a sleepless night.