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

   Chapter 3 IN WHICH PHIL SLIPS OFF HIS COAT, AND RETREATS IN GOOD ORDER.

Plane and Plank; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic By Oliver Optic Characters: 10745

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


It is scarcely necessary for me to say that I was exceedingly indignant at the trick played upon me by Mr. Leonidas Lynchpinne; and I was not at all comforted by the reflection that he had used the cloak of religion to cover his designs. He had seen me counting my gold on board of the steamer; and the wisdom of Mr. Gracewood's advice on that occasion had already been demonstrated. If I had not carelessly exhibited the contents of my shot-bag, the unpleasant event which had happened to me could not have occurred.

I went to work upon the lock of the door. I have said that I am fond of encountering a difficulty; but I must say that the difficulty of opening that door was an exception to the general rule. I did not enjoy it at all. I fingered over it a while in the dark, with no success, and with no prospect of any, till it occurred to me that the candle and the matches which my companion had placed in the chair were available. I felt about the floor till I found them, and soon had a little light on the subject. The partition was a very superficial piece of work, and I saw that, if I could not spring the bolt of the lock, I could pull the door open.

The door did not come within half an inch of the threshold, and there was a space equally wide at the top. I pulled the bottom out with my fingers till I could thrust the handle of my knife in at the side. The door was thin, and sprang easily under the pressure. When I got a fair hold, I pulled it open, tearing out the fastening from the frame of the door. The creaking and cracking produced by the operation amounted to a considerable noise; but I made haste to use the advantage I had gained before any of the villanous occupants of the house discovered me.

Taking the candle in my hand, I walked through the long entry towards the stairs by which I had come up. But I had gone but half the distance before I discovered the man Glynn hastening in the opposite direction. He was a burly fellow, and I suddenly experienced a feeling of regret that I was not on the other side of him, for I was satisfied that any conquest I might gain over him would be by the use of my legs rather than my fists.

"What's that noise here?" demanded Glynn, halting in the middle of the passage.

"I made some noise in opening the door of the room."

"Lynch says some one is breaking into the rooms. Are you the one?"

"No; I didn't break in; I broke out. But if you will excuse me, I will go, for I am in a hurry to get to the river."

"Never saw a rogue yet that was not in a hurry."

"What do you mean by that?" I demanded.

"Some one has been breaking into our rooms, and I only want to catch the fellow that did it."

"I am not the fellow."

"Lynch says you are."

"Where is Lynch?"

"Gone out; I don't know where. What have you been doing up here?"

"I have been robbed of my money by the fellow you call Lynch; and I only want to get hold of him," I replied.

"That won't go down here," said Glynn, shaking his head.

"Well, I shall go down, any how."

"Not yet, till I see what you have been about here," added he, as he took me by the wrist, and walked in the direction from which I had just come.

Fully persuaded that I should make nothing by resistance, I determined to await my opportunity, rather than spend my strength in a useless battle, in which I was liable to have my head broken. He led me to the room I had just left, the door of which was open. The splintered door-frame betrayed my operations at once.

"Did you do that?" demanded Glynn, savagely.

"I did."

"Then you are the chap I've been looking for," said he, squeezing my wrist till the bones crackled.

"Lynch snatched my money, and then locked me into the room, while he ran away. That's the whole story."

"I tell you that won't go down," added Glynn, giving me a rude shake.

"Isn't this the room to which you sent him and me, and didn't you give him the key?"

"And didn't you break down this door? That's what I want to know."

"I have said that I did; and I have explained the reason of it."

"Redwood may settle the business to suit himself. Come down to the office."

He walked me through the long entry, and down the stairs to a room adjoining that we had entered before. Glynn explained to the man I had seen with the silver box in his hand, and who was doubtless the proprietor of the house, what had occurred in the attic.

"I see," said Redwood. "This is a very pretty story; and this boy wants to hurt the reputation of the house by declaring that he has been robbed here. As you say, Glynn, that won't go down."

"But it is true," I protested.

"You know it isn't true. How old are you, boy?"

"Thirteen."

"How much money did you lose?" asked Redwood, with an obvious sneer.

"Nearly a hundred dollars."

"In wildcat bank notes, I dare say."

"No, sir, in gold."

"That's a likely story! Boys of thirteen don't travel round much in these times with a hundred dollars in gold in their trousers' pockets."

"But I had the money, and I have been robbed in this house."

"I don't believe a word of it. But you have been breaking down my doors, and trying to get into my rooms. There isn't much law here, but you shall try on what little there is."

"I can prove all I say by my friends on board of the steamer."

"It's too late to do anything t

o-night, Glynn. You must keep him till morning. Lock him up in No. 10."

"I'm not going to be locked up in No. 10," I protested, my indignation getting the better of my discretion, for I could not help thinking of Mr. Gracewood and his family fretting and worrying about me all night; and a sense of the injustice to which I was subjected stung me to the soul.

"Perhaps you are not; but we'll see," replied Redwood, with his hand on the knob of the door which opened into the room I had first entered with Lynchpinne, and in which I heard voices.

"Is the man I came with in there?" I asked, pointing to the door.

"No; take him round to No. 10, Glynn."

"Come along, youngster," said the man, as he seized me by the collar of my coat, and dragged me out into the entry.

I was powerless in the grasp of the stout fellow, and he led me along the entry till we had almost reached the door by which we had entered the building. At a door on the right, marked No. 10, in red chalk, my custodian halted. Setting his candlestick upon the floor, he applied the key to the door, for he still held me by the collar with one hand. I had no taste whatever for being locked up in No. 10, which I saw was an inner chamber, like the gambling apartment I had first visited.

While Glynn was unlocking the door, a piece of strategy occurred to me, which I instantly adopted. Like the prudent shipmaster, who is sometimes compelled to cut away a mast to save the ship, I was obliged to sacrifice my coat to obtain my liberty. Throwing my arms behind me, I slipped out of the garment, and sprang to the outside door, leaving the coat in the hands of Glynn. Fortunately the door was ajar, and throwing it open, I fled down the stairs with a celerity which doubtless astonished my burly jailer.

"Stop, you rascal!" shouted Glynn; but, without pausing to consider the polite invitation, I promptly declined it.

"The next instant the iron candlestick struck me in the back, but inflicted no damage upon me. It was followed by another missile, which I did not identify, and then by my coat. I do not think the fellow meant to return the garment I needed so much on a cool night; but, having it in his hand, he threw it at me, as he had everything else within his reach. I grasped the coat, and ran down the street, closely pursued by Glynn. Finding I was attracting the attention of people in the street, two or three of whom attempted to stop me when they saw a man was pursuing me, I turned into a cross street. I ran with my coat on my arm, and soon distanced my clumsy pursuer. I turned several times, but I had no idea where I was or whither I was going, and I soon found myself out on the prairie.

Phil escapes from Glynn. Page 40.

No one was near me, and I was satisfied that Glynn had abandoned the chase. I put on my coat, and walked leisurely in the direction which I thought would lead me to the river. I was vexed and discouraged at the loss of my money. My first mishap gave me some experience of the disadvantages of civilization, for in the field and forest from which I had come, we had no gamblers, or thieves, except the Indians. It would be a very pretty story to tell Mr. Gracewood, that I had not been smart enough to take care of myself, in spite of my boast to that effect, and that I had lost all my money, except a little change in silver, which I carried in my vest pocket. It was exceedingly awkward and annoying, and I was almost ashamed to meet my excellent friend.

I continued to walk, keeping the houses of the town on my left, expecting soon to see the river. But it seemed to me that the longer I walked, the more I did not see it, and the less became the probability that I should see it. In a word, I could not find any river, and I concluded that I was journeying away from it, instead of towards it. The houses on my left diminished in number, and I saw that all the lights were behind me. I thought that, by this time, Glynn had given up the chase, and was probably busy in attending to the wants of the gamblers in Redwood's den. Turning to the left, I walked towards the centre of the town, and soon struck a broad street, which had been laid out, and on which an occasional house had been erected.

This course brought me to the middle of the place, and in front of the hotel. I ventured to inquire the way to the river. Taking the direction pointed out to me, I reached the landing-place without further difficulty. I found the place where the steamers stopped, but there was no boat to be seen. I visited every point above and below the landing; I inquired in shops and offices, and of everybody I met; but I could not discover the steamer's boat, and no one had seen it or heard of it. It was very strange, and I was perplexed, but not alarmed. A trip of seven miles in a boat, even in the evening, was not a very perilous undertaking, and I was not willing to believe that any accident had happened to my friends.

I had seen a clock in one of the stores where I had called, and I knew it was half past eight. The boat must have arrived at least an hour before, if it had come at all; but I had almost reached the conclusion that my friends had abandoned the excursion. But if they had come, Mr. Gracewood would go to the prayer-meeting, expecting to find me there, and I went in search of such a gathering.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares