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


Plane and Plank; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic By Oliver Optic Characters: 10943

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

I went up to the centre of the town, where I had seen a church; but it was closed, and all its windows were dark. I inquired for the other churches, and visited the rest of them; but I could find no prayer-meeting. Those whom I asked had not heard of any meetings. By this time I concluded that I was an idiot to believe that the prayer-meeting was anything but a ruse on the part of Mr. Leonidas Lynchpinne, otherwise Lynch, which was probably his true name, and which he had doubtless extended for my especial benefit.

I was disgusted, and heartily wished I had not left the steamer. I made up my mind that it was not safe to trust any stranger, even if he said he was in the habit of attending prayer-meetings; but I ought to add that I have always found it safe to trust those who really attend them, and really take an interest in them. I had been duped, deceived, robbed. I wanted my money back, and I was quite as anxious to see Lynch as I was Mr. Gracewood.

I walked up to the hotel, and looked at every body I saw in the public rooms, hoping that my fellow-passenger had concluded to pay a dollar for his lodging, instead of fifty cents at the gambling den, which I thought he now could afford to do, with his funds replenished with the contents of my shot-bag. He was not there, and I went over towards the house where I had been robbed. I approached the locality very cautiously, for I was not anxious to confront the burly Glynn.

I examined the building at a respectful distance, and tried to fix the location of the attic chamber where Lynch had plundered me; but I had twisted about so many times in the long entries that I was unable to do so. Occasionally a man, or a party of men, went up the steps, and I supposed them to be the lodgers in the house. I watched those who went in and those who came out, in the hope that I might see Lynch. I did not see him, and perhaps it was just as well for me that I did not, for, as I felt then, I should certainly have "pitched into him."

I could not do anything to help myself. I was tempted to arm myself with a club and go into the lodging-house in search of the rascal who had robbed me; but this would have been very imprudent. It was possible that Lynch was still in the house, and that he would occupy the room in the attic. I could not help thinking that Redwood was his confederate, and that my money would be shared between them. They seemed to understand each other perfectly, and I recalled the remark of my companion, incomprehensible to me when it was uttered, that I was "a dove with the yellows." A dove is the emblem of innocence, and the yellows I took to be a metaphor, based upon the color of the pieces in my shot-bag.

It was clearly more prudent for me to wait till the next morning before I attempted to do anything; and, having satisfied myself of the correctness of my conclusion, I decided to wait, with what patience I could, for the assistance of my friends the next day. The night was advancing, and I had no place to sleep. I had not money enough left to pay even for a cheap lodging; and it was rather cool to camp on the ground without a blanket. But I had a berth on board of the steamer, if I could find my way back to her. I was not so tired that I could not walk four miles.

I started for the wood-yard, and, with less difficulty than I expected, I found the road over the prairie. As I trudged along in the darkness, I thought of all the events of the evening. It was a pity that the world contained any such rascals as "Mr. Leonidas Lynchpinne;" but I was confident that the next time I met one of his class I should be a match for him, and would not even go to a prayer-meeting with him. It was possible that this worthy had returned to the steamer, relying upon Redwood to retain me till after the steamer had left the town; but I did not depend much upon finding him in his state-room.

Reaching the wood-yard, I went on board of the steamer. Though it was nearly midnight, the gamblers on board were still plying their infamous vocation. I went to the table, and satisfied myself that Lynch was not among them. I visited the state-room which Mr. Gracewood had occupied with me since we left Council Bluffs, where the number of passengers increased so that I could no longer have a room to myself. He was not there; and there was no light in the room occupied by his wife and daughter. I was not willing to believe they had left the boat till I obtained this evidence.

The bar of the steamer was still open, for wherever the gamblers were whiskey was in demand. I asked the bar-keeper where the captain was, and learned that he had retired; but the clerk was still up, and I soon found him, for I wished to ascertain where Lynch's room was.

"Well, Phil, you are up late," said the clerk, as I walked up to him; and in the long trip I had become well acquainted with him.

"I have been down to Leavenworth," I replied.

"Why did you come back? We shall be there early in the morning."

"I had to come back. Do you take the names of all the passengers?"

"Yes; we have to put all the names on the berth list."

"Is there one by the name of Leonidas Lynchpinne?" I asked.

"Certainly not," he replied, laughing.

"Or any name like it?"

"I will look, if you wish."

"Do, if you please, and I will tell you why I ask."

We went to the office, and he examined his list.

"Lyndon Lynch-"

"That's the man," I interposed. "Lynch. W

hich is his room?"

"No. 24."

"I should like to know whether he is in it, or not," I added.

"He came on board at St. Joe," said the clerk, as we walked to No. 24.

Lynch was not there, and the other occupant of the room was playing cards at the table. I sat down with the clerk, and related to him all the events of the evening. Occasionally he smiled, and even laughed when I spoke of going to a prayer-meeting. I felt cheap to think I had been duped so easily, and was a subject for the merriment of the clerk.

"You will never see your money again, Phil," said he, when I had concluded.

"Why not? Don't they have any law in these civilized regions."

"You can have all the law you want when you find your man. This Lynch is probably one of these blacklegs. They are miserable scoundrels, who float about everywhere."

"But the man who kept the lodging-house was in league with him."

"Very likely; but it don't appear from your story that he had anything to do with the robbery. Your own evidence would acquit him."

I did not derive much comfort from the clerk's remarks, though I could not help acknowledging the truth of what he said. However, the loss of a hundred dollars would not ruin me, uncomfortable and inconvenient as it was. I could draw upon Mr. Gracewood, who had fifteen hundred dollars of my funds in his possession. But I intended to make an effort the next day, while the boat lay at Leavenworth, to find Lynch, and have him lynched, if possible.

"But why did you come back, Phil?" continued the clerk. "Mr. Gracewood and his family went down in the boat."

"I couldn't find them, or the boat. I was almost sure they had not started."

"They went."

"It's very strange I could not find the boat. I inquired of twenty persons, and no one had seen or heard of it. Do you suppose anything could have happened to them?"

"It is not probable, though of course it is possible. The current of the river is very swift, and the shores are rocky. But they had two of our deck hands with them, and I should say that any accident was next to impossible."

I was of his opinion, though I could not help worrying about them. I went to my room and retired. I was very weary; but, though disposed to consider still further the events of the evening, I fell asleep in spite of myself. When I awoke the next morning, the boat was lying at the landing in Leavenworth. It was only a little after sunrise, but the hands were busy loading and discharging freight. I hastily dressed myself, wondering how I could have slept so long; but I had walked not less than fifteen miles the preceding evening, and perhaps it was more strange that I waked so early.

"Have you found the boat, captain?" I asked, with breathless interest, as I hastened to the main deck, where I found the master of the steamer.

"No, Phil; and I am a good deal worried about your friends," he replied.

"Why, where are they?"

"I have no idea; but I have been up and down the levee from one end of the town to the other, and I can't find the boat. I don't understand it."

"I could not find it last night. I asked twenty persons, but no one had seen such a party as I described," I added.

"Do you know the name of the person they intended to visit?"

"I do not. I may have heard it, but I don't remember anything about it."

"The boat will not start before noon, and we may hear of them before that time," said the captain.

"Did you look along the shore as you came down?" I asked.

"Not particularly; but if they had been on the shore the pilot would have seen them. The clerk told me you lost your money last night, Phil."

"Yes, sir;" and I repeated my story to him.

"We will take an officer and visit the house," added the captain.

"The sooner we go, the more likely we shall be to find Lynch," I suggested.

"We will go at once, then."

Captain Davis and I landed, and walked up to the hotel. An officer was procured, and I led the way to the lodging-house. We entered without announcing our visit, and proceeded to the office, as Glynn had called the room in front of the gambling den.

"So you have come back, youngster," said the burly assistant.

"Where is the man that calls himself Lynch?" demanded the officer.

"No such man here," replied Glynn. "Don't know him."

"I suppose not," said the officer, ironically. "What room did you take with him, young man?" he added, turning to me.

"I don't know the number, but I can lead you to it."

"What's the matter?" asked Glynn, innocently.

"This young man was robbed in your house last night."

"Was he really, though?" added the assistant.

"You know that he was."

"He told me he was, but I didn't believe it. The youngster went to a room with a man, and I heard some one breaking down doors. I caught this youngster up there alone. But if he was robbed, that's another thing," continued Glynn, who seemed to have a very proper and wholesome respect for the officer. "I will go up to that room, and see if Lynch is there."

"You needn't trouble yourself," said the prudent official. "I will go myself."

"I'll go up and show you the way."

"Where is Redwood?"

"Not up yet. I will call him."

"No; I will call him myself when I want him."

Glynn led the way up to the attic, and I was tolerably confident, from his manner, that we should find Lynch in the room. We found the door locked, in spite of the damage I had done to it.

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