MoboReader> Literature > Plane and Plank; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic

   Chapter 2 IN WHICH PHIL MEETS WITH HIS FIRST MISHAP.

Plane and Plank; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic By Oliver Optic Characters: 10542

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Four miles was a short walk to me, and when we reached Leavenworth, I was as fresh as when we started. The town, then in the third year of its existence, had a population of two thousand, and some substantial buildings had already been erected.

"Where is the landing-place?" I asked, as we entered the town.

"It is not far from here," replied Mr. Lynchpinne. "But that boat won't be here for an hour or two yet."

"But I would rather go there at once."

"There is no hurry; but we will go down in a few minutes. I want to inquire at what time the prayer-meeting commences."

"I will go directly to the landing, if you will tell me the way. I won't keep you waiting, and I will see you at the meeting."

"Don't be in a hurry. It is only a little past six, and the boat won't arrive for an hour, certainly. I will go down with you in five minutes," persisted my companion.

"I would not have my friends wait for me a moment," I added.

"We shall have to wait an hour for them. We will go up to the hotel, and engage a room, for we may not find one after the meeting."

He conducted me through the principal street of the town, and I gazed with interest at the shops, houses, and people.

"How much farther have we to go?" I asked, when I judged that the five minutes had expired.

"Only a short distance; but we are going towards the river all the time."

"We passed a hotel just now."

"That is not the one I stop at when I am here. The prices are too high for me. I have money enough, but you know a young man ought to be economical on principle."

I thought this was very good logic, and I fully subscribed to it; for, though I had almost a hundred dollars in my pocket, I wished to save as much as possible of it. Mr. Lynchpinne turned down a cross street, and presently stopped before a large two-story frame house, the lower part of which was a shop of some kind; but it was closed. On the outside of the building there was a flight of stairs leading to the second story.

"We will go up here and inquire about the prayer-meeting," said my new friend. "It won't take but a moment."

"Very well; but don't be long. I will wait here till you come down."

"No; come up."

"I had just as lief wait here."

"But this is the place where we shall sleep. A friend of mine lets out some rooms here to lodgers. We can sleep here for fifty cents each, and it would cost a dollar at the hotel."

"All right; you engage a room for both of us."

"But come up. If you should want to go to bed before I am ready to come in, you won't be able to find your room, if you don't go and look at it now."

I thought we were wasting more time in debating the matter than it would take for me to look at the chamber, and I followed him up the stairs. We entered the building, which was of considerable dimensions. I groped my way, after my friend, through long entries, which were not lighted, until, after turning two corners, he halted and knocked.

"Who's there?" called a voice from within.

"Lynch," replied my guide. "Lynch is the short of Lynchpinne," he added to me.

"Come in!"

I heard the springing of a bolt on the door before it was opened.

"Go in, Phil," said my companion, placing himself behind me, and gently forcing me into the apartment.

The room was not more than twelve feet square.

The only furniture it contained was a chair and a small toilet-table. The former was placed in one corner, and the latter directly in front of it.

"Is there to be a prayer-meeting this evening?" asked Mr. Lynchpinne of the man who sat behind the table.

"Of course."

"At what time?"

"Half past seven. What have you there?" continued the man behind the table.

"A dove who has the yellow."

"Right; we will begin the meeting now then," added the man, producing a little silver box, open on one side, so that I could see it contained a pack of cards.

This was the first intimation I had that anything was wrong. The sight of the cards roused my suspicions, as well they might. I had heard the snap of the bolt as the man locked the door when we entered. I looked about me, and discovered that there were no windows in the room, though there was another door besides that by which we had entered.

"Put that up," said Mr. Lynchpinne. "You know that I never gamble."

"I thought you wanted to open the meeting."

"I don't know what you mean," added my companion, who certainly looked very innocent.

"O, you don't!"

"Of course I don't. My young friend and I must stay in town over night, and we want a room. Have you any left, Redwood?"

"Not a room."

"Can't you find one?" persisted my friend.

"Everything on this floor is let by the week."

"There's the corner room in the attic," said the man who had opened the door when we entered.

"Show it to them, Glynn," added Redwood, who appeared to be the proprietor of the establishment.

"I know where it is. Give me a light, and I won't trouble you," said Lynchpinne.

Glynn opened a door which led to another room, and soon appeared with a rusty iron candlestick, and the stump of a candle, which he lighted.

"Come, Phil, we will see the room," said Lynchpinne, when we were in the entry.

"What sort of a place is this?" I deman

ded. "I don't like the looks of it."

"Nor I," he replied. "I should judge by the looks that Redwood gambles."

"I think I won't stay here. I don't want to be in a gambling-house."

"Humph! It will be just the same if you go to the hotel. Let us look at the room, at any rate."

"You have seen it before."

"But I wish you to see it; then, if you don't like to stay here, we will go to the hotel."

I followed him up the narrow flight of stairs, and at the end of an entry, which extended the whole length of the building, we entered a chamber. It contained a rude bed, a chair, and a wash-stand.

"Not very elegant accommodations," said Lynchpinne, as we surveyed the room; "but when I can save half a dollar without any real sacrifice of comfort, I do so."

"I had as lief sleep here as anywhere," I replied. "Wouldn't it have been more economical to stay on board the steamer?"

"Doubtless it would; but I wanted to come, and so did you. We will do it as cheap as we can-that's all."

"I'm satisfied."

"Then I will put this candle on the chair, with a couple of matches by the side of it, so that we can come in without any assistance."

"Let us be in a hurry, for I am afraid that boat will get to the landing before we do," I added, impatiently.

"You need not concern yourself about her. We shall have to wait half an hour when we get to the river. But I am all ready."

"So am I."

"I hope you haven't much money about you, Phil," said my companion, as he placed the candle on the chair.

"I have a little. But why do you say that?"

"Because there are a great many bad men about these new towns; and some of them would not scruple to rap you over the head for your money. Besides, there will be a crowd on the steamboat levee, and we may have our pockets picked. I think I shall hide my money in the bed."

Suiting the action to the word, he took his wallet from his pocket, and thrust his arm into the bed up to the shoulder.

"No one will think of looking there for it," he added, as if thoroughly satisfied with what he had done. "I advise you to do the same."

"I don't mean to leave my money here," I replied. "I don't like the looks of the people in this house."

"Nor I: but they will not think of such a thing as looking into the bed for money. Take my advice, Phil."

"No; I think I can take care of what money I have," I answered.

"You haven't been about this region so much as I have, or you wouldn't run any risks," he continued; and I thought he was very persistent about the care of my funds.

"That may be, though I think my money will be safer in my pocket than in that bed. But come, Mr. Lynchpinne. We are wasting our time, and we had better hurry down to the river."

"How much money have you, Phil?" asked my companion.

"I have enough to pay my way for a few days longer," I replied, moving towards the door.

"I hate to see a fellow come into a place like this and lose all his money."

"You needn't trouble yourself at all about it. If I lose it, I won't blame you, for you have certainly given me abundant warning."

"At least put your money in a safe place on your person before we go out."

"It's all right," I answered, placing my hand upon my pocket, where the shot-bag which held my funds was deposited. "But hurry up, and let us go to the landing."

"Is that where you keep your money?" he added. "You are certain to lose it all if you carry it in that pocket. Put it inside your vest, and then button your coat."

"There is no pocket inside of my vest."

"No matter for that. Tie it up in your handkerchief, and fasten it to your suspender. Do anything with it, except to leave it in that pocket."

I rather liked his suggestion, though I was not quite satisfied with the degree of interest he manifested in the safety of my money. I took out the shot-bag, and wrapped it in the handkerchief, and was about to deposit it in the place he had indicated, when, with a sudden spring, he snatched the bag from me, kicked over the chair on which the candle had been placed, and fled from the room. I was in total darkness; but I leaped forward to grapple with the assailant, for I was determined not to lose my money without a struggle to recover it.

I was taken wholly by surprise, for I had not suspected that a young man who was in the habit of attending prayer-meetings would be capable of any dishonest act. As I leaped forward to the door, it was closed before me. The villain had made his calculations beforehand, and moved with greater facility than I could. I heard him lock the door upon me, and I immediately realized that I was a prisoner in the strange house. Then I understood the nature of my kind friend's solicitude about my funds. He had been laboring all this time to induce me to produce my shot-bag, so that he could snatch it from me.

I heard his footsteps in the long entry, as he retreated from the scene of his crime. I took hold of the door, and tried to pull it open; but though it was a sham affair, I did not succeed. If I shouted, I should doubtless call up Redwood, or his assistant; and I came to the conclusion that the house was a den of robbers and gamblers. I decided to exercise my skill still further upon the door.

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