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   Chapter 10 THE TRAMP'S MISTAKE.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7141

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03

Conrad went to bed with the comfortable conviction that before morning Andy's beautiful boat would be ruined. I am sorry to say that the meanness of the act which he had instigated did not strike him.

Whatever feeling he had was of exultation at the injury done to his enemy, as he persisted in regarding Andy.

It did seem a pity that such an elegant boat should be destroyed. If Andy would only have agreed to exchange for ten-even fifteen-dollars to boot, this would have been avoided.

"He was a fool not to accept," soliloquized Conrad. "He will regret it when he sees what has happened."

He got up at the usual hour and took breakfast. Every time the bell rang he thought it might be some one to bring him the desired news.

Just after supper Andy met his friend, Valentine, and told him of the beautiful gift he had received.

"Come down and look at it, Val," he said. "It is elegant."

Valentine's curiosity was excited, and he at once accepted the invitation.

He uttered an exclamation of surprise when he saw the new boat.

"It is a little beauty!" he said. "It is far ahead of Conrad's or of mine."

"Conrad wants to exchange. He offered me ten dollars to boot."

"You wouldn't think of accepting?"

"No; it is worth much more than that. Besides, it is Mr. Gale's gift, and even if he had offered fifty dollars I should still refuse."

"And you would do right, too. But are you going to leave it out all night?"

"I shall have to. I have no boathouse to put it in."

"There is room in my boathouse for two boats," said Valentine. "I will help you put it inside."

"Thank you, Val. I will be glad to pay you rent for the use of the place."

"I don't want any money, Andy; I will do it out of friendship."

"Thank you; but you mustn't forget that I am quite able to pay."

"That's true, and I am glad of it; but, all the same, I don't want any money."

"I wonder Conrad doesn't have a boathouse."

"He tells me his father has promised him one. He has not yet decided upon a location."

The two boys got into Andy's boat and rowed it a few rods till they reached the boathouse. There was no difficulty in putting it away. The boathouse was double, and there was room for two boats.

"I will have another key made, Andy, so that you can get at your boat when I am not with you."

"All right! That will be very nice."

"How do you like Mr. Gale?"

"Tiptop. I was very fortunate to fall in with him. It will be a great loss to me when he goes away."

"Is he thinking of going soon?"

"I don't think so-I hope not."

It was later in the evening when the tramp went down to the pond, provided with the shavings and other combustibles which Conrad had provided.

Conrad, after meeting him, had gone home at once. He thought it more prudent, in view of the plot in which he was engaged, to avoid suspicion by not being seen in company with the tramp.

"Give me the two dollars now," said the tramp, when the fuel was handed him.

"Do you think I am a fool?" answered Conrad, sharply. "If I should do that, you would go off and not do the work."

"I'll do the work fast enough. I want to get even with that young rascal."

"What! Do you know him?"

"I have met him," answered the tramp, evasively. "He played me a mean trick, and I want to get even with him."

"What sort of a trick was it?"

"I will tell you some other time-I haven't time now. I wish I had a hatchet."

"What for?"

"Then, if the fire didn't spoil the boat, I'd hack it up."

"I think I can get you a hatchet, but you

must not leave it on the bank, for my father's initial, 'C,' is on it."

"All right. I'll be careful."

The hatchet was delivered to the tramp a little later.

About eight o'clock the tramp went down to the lake and looked for

Andy's boat.

There was but one in sight-Conrad's-but he never doubted that this was the one he was to destroy. He waited till half-past eight, when he considered it dark enough for his purpose.

He carefully laid the shavings in one end of the boat, covered them over with pieces of board, which, with the help of the hatchet, he split into smaller pieces, and then set them on fire.

The flames blazed fiercely and did considerable damage to the boat, not ruining it, however. But to finish the work he used the hatchet, and hacked vigorously at the woodwork till it was mutilated and its usefulness and beauty spoiled.

The tramp contemplated this work with satisfaction.

"I've done the job pretty well," he chuckled to himself. "I'd like to be lookin' on when the boy sees it."

Now that he had done the job he wanted his pay. Conrad had agreed to meet him at an old ruined barn not far from his house at eight o'clock in the morning.

"It won't do to call for me earlier," he said, "for it might excite suspicion."

From the breakfast table Conrad directed his steps to the barn.

The tramp was sitting outside, smoking a pipe.

"I've been waiting for you," he said. "I haven't had any breakfast."

"Did you do the job?"

"Did I? Well, I reckon. That boat ain't no good any more."

"Do you think any one saw you do it?"

"No; it was pretty dark, and there wasn't no one round. It may have been found out by now. Give me the two dollars and I'll be off."

"You are sure you did the job? You are not deceiving me?"

"No, I'm not. You can go and see for yourself."

This, however, did not seem prudent. Conrad wished some one else to discover the ruined boat.

After all, there was no reason to doubt the tramp's word. His avowed hostility to Andy made it quite certain that he had done his work.

"Here's the money," he said.

"And here's the hatchet."

"I wish it was back in the toolhouse where it belongs," thought Conrad.

"However, I'll manage to get it back without any one seeing me."

He decided to return to the barn at once, carrying the hatchet with him. He was not to do it without observation. Just before he reached the barn he met John Larkin.

"What are you doing with the hatchet, Conrad?"

"Oh, I have been using it in the pasture."

"I didn't know but you were going to imitate George Washington and cut down a cherry tree."

"Perhaps I have," said Conrad, with a smile.

He felt in good humor, for his plan had been carried out. He was aching to see just how badly Andy's boat was injured, and as there was no school, it being Saturday, he proposed to John Larkin to go down to the pond.

"Suppose we have a row, John," he said. "We'll take a trip across the pond."

"All right."

They were perhaps thirty rods from the pond when they met Jimmy Morris, coming from it. He seemed excited. He had been running and was breathless.

"What's the matter, Jimmy?" asked John Larkin.

Jimmy looked toward Conrad, who naturally guessed the cause of his excitement.

"Oh, Conrad," he said. "It is such a pity! I am so sorry for you!"

"Why are you sorry for me?" demanded Conrad, sharply.

"Because your boat is ruined. It is all hacked up, and has been set on fire."

"My boat! You mean Andy Grant's?"

"No, I don't. Come and see for yourself."

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