Sam was a long time finding Gus Layton, and when he did he was sitting
in the shade of a warehouse watching a vessel that was getting under
way. How heartily he wished that Bob Nellis and old Ben Watson were on
board that ship! She was going away for a two years’ cruise, and Gus was
certain that something would happen to them before they came back.
“Hi, Moster ‘Gustus, I found you at last!” exclaimed the darky, as he
hurried up. “Your father wants to see you at home this blessed minute.
Dem is his ‘perative orders.”
“Sam,” said Gus, putting his hand into his pocket and pulling out a
piece of money, “has anything been going on there?”
“Thank you, sah. Not de fustest thing. Ebberything is just as it was
when you were dar.”
“Nobody to see me, I suppose?”
“Dar’s been nobody dere to see you, but dere’s been somebody dere to see
Moster Bob.”
“I don’t see what you fellows call that snipe ‘Mister’ for,” said Gus,
impatiently. “That title belongs to me. Who were there to see Bob?”
“Wal, sah, Moster ‘Gustus, dere was one man dere dat used to be your
uncle’s gardener,” replied Sam. “And de other one was—”
“Watson?” cried Gus.
“I reckon so, sah. And de other one was a right smart-lookin’ chap, just
about your size. Is you comin’ home, sah?”
“It was Sprague, I’ll bet,” said Gus.
It was a very short road with Gus that had no turning, and here he was,
right in the midst of his schemes for mischief, and they began to come
back to him. How he wished that Watson had kept out of that saloon, or
rather, how he wished he had kept away from it himself!
“Is you comin’ home?” inquired the darky.
“You go on ahead at your usual gait and tell father that I will be with
him soon,” replied Gus. “I may as well face it down one time as
another,” he added to himself. “What can I say that will induce father
to believe I was in that saloon by accident? I tell you, I wish I had
steered clear of Barlow!”
Gus arose to his feet and started toward home, but with every step he
took he felt that he was drawing nearer to his doom. The closer he came
to the iron gate the more confused his thoughts seemed to grow, and when
he went down the hall and opened the door of the library, without the
ceremony of knocking, he had made up his mind that Watson had been
asleep and dreamed it all; that nobody had said a word about kidnapping
him. He found his father pacing back and forth, wringing his hands as if
he were in great bodily distress.
“Why, what’s the matter?” he asked, innocently.
“Augustus, how does it come that you were in Barlow’s saloon?” asked his
father. “Have I not often told you to keep away from those places? What
did you hear about kidnapping Bob and that old gardener?”
“Why, nothing at all,” said Gus, opening his eyes in surprise. “Ben
Watson was in there asleep, and when he woke up he accused Barlow of
getting up a scheme against him. Has he been here? What did he say?”
“He has said enough in Bob’s ears to prompt him to call on a lawyer this
very afternoon,” said Mr. Layton, looking sharply at Gus.
This was rather more than Gus had bargained for. He looked around for
the nearest chair and sat down. For once the face he turned toward his
father was as white as a sheet. That was one thing that Gus was always
afraid of. He might get a lawyer to examine into the matter, and he
would be pretty apt to find a screw loose somewhere.
“I don’t like this lawyer business,” said Gus.
“Why, Augustus, it is perfectly straight,” said his father. “The more
lawyers he gets the better I shall like it. They will have every
facility granted them for making a thorough investigation. One would
think, from the way you talk, that you suspected something yourself.”
“Father, there’s no need of your beating about the bush any longer,”
said Gus, who thought, if he had to make a clean breast of the matter,
it was time his father did so, too. “What makes you so nervous and
“It is the trouble you have got into with that fellow Barlow,” said Mr.
Layton. “I know all about it, and there’s no use for you to try to
deceive me. Now, I want you to tell me the whole thing. I have a little
influence, and perhaps I can bring some good out of it.”
“What do you know?”
“I know that you went into that saloon without anybody sending for you;
that Ben Watson was asleep there on the table—or had his head pillowed
on his arms as if he was asleep, but he was in reality wide-awake; that
you began talking about the crew of the Smart; that you made up a scheme
for kidnapping Bob—”
“I never did it in this world!” interrupted Gus. “You go and ask Barlow,
and see if anything of the kind happened.”
“I think I see myself going near that skin-flint!” said Mr. Layton.
“Anyhow, you had your plans made up for taking Ben and Bob off on board
that ship, and it was when Bob roused up and told you of it that Barlow
shouted for his bull-dog and barkeeper.”
“It isn’t so! it isn’t so!” said Gus, pounding with his fingers on the
“And to make the matter still worse, Mr. Sprague and his boy came in at
that moment,” pursued Mr. Layton, paying no heed to the interruption. “I
tell you, Augustus, you have got yourself into a scrape. You begin to
see it now, don’t you?” he added, as Gus looked down at the carpet. “I
don’t know what will become of you if you keep on this way. Bob was
doing well enough, and I don’t see why you couldn’t let him alone.”
There was silence for a few minutes, for Gus had about got to the end of
his rope. His father knew all about it, and he couldn’t think what else
to say. After waiting in vain for Gus to speak, he said:
“I got the most of this while listening at the window when Bob was
talking to Leon and Ben. What more they had to say I don’t know, for
they walked away, so that I couldn’t hear them; but by putting this and
that together I got at the true story of the matter. You can tell me the
rest I want to know. Are you willing to do it? I may be able to bring
some good out of it, as I said before.”
Thus urged, Gus determined that the best thing he could do would be to
tell the truth. He began at the beginning and told everything Barlow had
said, touching lightly upon what he had said himself, however, and when
he had finished he settled back in his chair as if he was glad to have
the load off his mind. His father did not interrupt him until he got
through, and then he said:
“I don’t see why you did not tell me this at the start. As I said a
little while back, you have got yourself in a pretty scrape. Suppose
something should happen to Bob, and he should be kidnapped and sent to
sea against his will; where would you be?”
“By George! I never thought of that,” said Gus, growing frightened
“Barlow knows that I do not approve of such doings as that,” continued
Mr. Layton, “and after Bob had been gone for a month or two, he would
come to me for money.”
“For what?” asked Gus. “You wouldn’t hire him to send Bob off to sea.”
“That may all be. I might never have dreamed that he had such a thing in
mind; but don’t you know that he would come to me for money to make him
keep his mouth shut?”
“That’s something new to me,” said Gus, fairly trembling with excitement
and fear. “He could do it as easy as falling off a log, couldn’t he? But
I don’t suppose that Barlow knows enough to do that.”
“Don’t worry about it. He would come for money, and if I refused to give
it to him, how long would it be before everybody in town would hear of
“He would be as deep in the mud as you are,” suggested Gus. “If you went
to jail he would have to go, too.”
“But, Augustus, I don’t want to go to jail,” said Mr. Layton, in a
trembling voice. “Think what a position it would be for me. Now, I think
I can see a way out of it, and that is by buying Bob.”
“How are you going to do it?” asked Gus, who became interested at once.
“I will give him a hundred dollars a month if he will take his trunks
out of this house and never come back here again,” said Mr. Layton.
“That’s the idea!” exclaimed Gus, unconsciously uttering the same
expression that Barlow had made use of a short time before. “But a
hundred dollars is a power of money, father. Don’t you suppose if you
were to offer him seventy-five dollars it would do just as well?”
“No, I don’t think it would. Bob has always had money when he chose to
call for it, and a hundred dollars is little enough. Ben has got a nice
little house down here, and Bob can go there and live as well as not. Of
one thing we will be sure, anyway: Bob will never come to this house
“That’s the idea!” said Gus, again. “How will you send him the money—by
“I’ll send him a check the first of every month; that will save him the
trouble of coming here.”
“That won’t interfere with what you are to give me?”
“Not at all; and I think it is the best thing we can do. I wish you
would be around when I talk to him—”
“Oh, that’s asking too much,” said Gus, getting upon his feet. “You must
remember that I was in the saloon when we talked of kidnapping him, and
that it would hardly do.”
“Perhaps, after all, you had better stay away,” said Mr. Layton, after
reflecting a moment. “But I will put in a good word for you when I see a
chance. I will tell him that you and I were talking the matter over, and
concluded it wasn’t right to turn him loose to face the world without a
cent, and that we have decided to give him a part of our incomes.”
“That will be better than if I was here,” said Gus. “But what if Bob
won’t take it?”
“Eh? Oh, I don’t think he will go back on a hundred dollars. You see,
Bob won’t have to do any work after he gets to Ben’s house, and that
will take a heap off his mind.”
“A hundred dollars is enough for him,” answered Gus.
“You couldn’t stay around and see him when he comes in, I suppose?”
“Well, I’ll stay around, and if he looks good-natured when he comes in
I’ll tell him you want to see him; but if he looks cross I won’t open my
head. You had better see him yourself.”
This much having been decided upon, Gus went up to his room to remain
there until his father had had an interview with Bob, while Mr. Layton
opened the door of the library so that he would be sure to see Bob when
he came in.
“I’ll tell you I wouldn’t stay in this house after what has happened
down there at Barlow’s saloon, and if Bob has the pluck I have given him
credit for he’ll not stay, either,” said Gus, drawing one of the
curtains before the window and seating himself so that he could see his
cousin when he came down the walk. “I would get away from here as soon
as I could. He must know he is not wanted here.”
In a few minutes he saw Bob coming, and he fairly trembled with
excitement when he saw how enraged he was. He walked like a boy who had
made up his mind that he wasn’t going to stand that nonsense any longer.
He bounded up the steps as though he had a right there, to quote from
Gus, and stamped through the hall as though there was somebody waiting
for him. And so there was. Mr. Layton came out of the library, his face
all wrinkled up with smiles; but it was strange how quickly those smiles
all went away when he caught sight of Bob’s face. He began to fear that
he was going to have trouble with the boy.
“Ah, Bob! I was just waiting for you,” said he.
“Oh, you were, were you?” said Bob, with something like a sneer.
“Yes. Come in. I want to talk to you.”
“You will have to talk to me mighty clever to put me out of the notion
of having Gus and Barlow arrested,” said Bob, seating himself in the
nearest chair and placing his hat upon the table. “I never heard of such
a thing before. Why, it is downright—”
“Why, what is the matter?” asked Mr. Layton. He thought he spoke calmly
enough, but his voice trembled in spite of himself.
“There’s no use of feigning ignorance,” said Bob, in a tone of deep
disgust. “Gus and Barlow have been laying a plan to kidnap Ben and me
to-night and send us off to some country we never dreamed of. Gus has
told you all about it, I suppose? If he didn’t, he ought to. You
sympathize with him more deeply than anybody else.”
“Yes, I heard about that,” said Mr. Layton. “Ben was asleep and dreamed
it all. You surely don’t suppose that I would agree to anything of that
“You may not have agreed to it, but the plot has been laid, all the
same. What were you going to say to me?”
“Gus has just been here, talking about you, and if he was going to send
you off to foreign countries I don’t see why he should propose to give
you a hundred dollars a month.”
“Have you agreed to that?”
“I have.”
“Then I will take it, glad to get that much out of you. But I’ll tell
you, Mr. Layton, it will not keep me from putting a lawyer on the track
of this ‘will’ business. That much I have determined upon.”
“You may have all the lawyers you want,” said Mr. Layton. “If it will be
of any use to you, I will get one of my own and put him on the case with
It must be confessed that this remark pretty nearly took Bob’s breath
away. He looked sharply at his uncle to see if he really meant what he
said, and Mr. Layton met his gaze without flinching.
“You seem to think there is something wrong with your father’s will,”
said the latter. “I assure you there is not. I wouldn’t have touched a
cent of his property if it hadn’t been willed to me. I trust you know me
well enough to believe that.”
“Oh, yes; I know you. What I am going to find out is, whether or not the
will is all right. Now, if you will count out my hundred dollars I will
go up stairs and pack my luggage.”
“It shall be ready for you when you come down,” said Mr. Layton, with
much more eagerness than he had thus far shown. “I hope you are not
going away out of town, are you?”
“Oh, no; I shall be here, and give Gus another chance to kidnap me, if
he wants to. I shall be at hand, too, to give that lawyer any assistance
he may wish.”

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“I wish you would get over your idea of Gus trying to kidnap you,” said
Mr. Layton, impatiently. “He never did it in this world.”
“Of course I will believe it when he proves it before a magistrate’s
court,” said Bob; and he couldn’t help smiling when he thought of the
way his lawyer would wind him up on his cross-examination. “But he will
find that a difficult thing to do.”
Without waiting to hear what else his uncle had to say, Bob went up
stairs to his room; and as he had not yet wholly unpacked his trunk, it
did not take him long to get the things together that he wanted to take
with him. One trunk generally held all the things he needed when he went
to Elmwood, but this time he took three, his little fowling-piece and
his fishing-rod not being forgotten. By the time he had them all packed
the carriage appeared, with Ben Watson on the box beside the driver. Ben
didn’t hesitate to come in now, as he would if he had been alone. The
house was Bob’s, he could swear to that, and he had a right to go where
he pleased in it.
“Now, you take these trunks down and I will go and bid my uncle
good-bye,” said Bob.
“Aw! Are you going to see that fellow again?” inquired Ben. “It’s small
good-bye he will give you, seeing that you are going to live with me.”
“But, Ben, I’ve got a hundred dollars coming to me,” said Bob. “He
offered to give it to me of his own accord.”
“Well, that’s better than I expected of him. I guess he’s mighty fearful
that the captain will turn up yet.”
Bob went down to the library and found his uncle there alone. A roll of
bills lay upon the table, with a paper-weight on them to hold them down.
He looked all around for Gus, but could not see anything of him. He
wanted to say a word to him before he went, but Gus was still in his own
“Is this money intended for me?” asked Bob. “Then I will take it and bid
you good-bye.”
“Good-bye, Bob,” said Mr. Layton, holding out his hand, but seeing that
Bob did not take it he speedily drew it in again. “Are you going to live
here in town? I want to know, so that I can send you a check on the
first of every month.”
“Address it to me here at this post-office and I will get it all right,”
said Bob. “I will tell you, for your satisfaction, that I am going to
live with Ben Watson.”
“Ah! Ben is a good fellow.”
“I know he is. He thinks father was foully dealt with on that morning he
disappeared, and he will be near at hand to give my lawyer some points.”
“That’s a good thing. I am glad you are going to investigate it.
The trunks being all brought down by the time Bob got out of the
library, he took his seat in the carriage and was whirled away to his
new home. Of course he felt bad on leaving the place of his boyhood, but
there was no help for it. Gus held the curtain aside so that he could
watch him, and when the carriage had disappeared through the iron gate
he opened the door and went down to his father.