Chapter XXV. Tom Clover.
 

For a moment Richard could not realize the discovery that he had made. Could this weak, delirious man be Doc Linyard's brother-in-law, the one for whom the old sailor had been searching so diligently and so unsuccessfully?

If such was the fact then his visit to Frying Pan Court would undoubtedly be productive of more than one good result.

"What makes you think he is the man?" asked Frank Massanet, with considerable astonishment.

"Because he mentioned his own name as Tom, and I know Betty is the sailor's wife's name," replied Richard.

"He doesn't look very respectable," went on Frank. "He isn't a relative for even a man like Mr. Linyard to be proud of."

"He may look better after he's shaved and washed and fixed up a bit," returned Richard; "that is, if he gets well," he added, in sudden alarm.

"Pep, Pep," went on the sufferer, "where's the water?"

"Here you are, dad, nice and fresh," and Pep entered with his pail full. "Whew! but he does drink a pile!" he added to the two, as he held a cup to his father's lips.

"I've brought something you can give him," said Frank, going to his basket and depositing the articles upon a rickety table that stood in a corner.

"And we'll send a doctor around here, too," he added. "You haven't had one lately, I guess."

"Not this week. He charged too much, and he wouldn't come if I didn't pay aforehand," replied the street urchin.

"Pep, what is your full name?" asked Richard abruptly.

The boy was silent.

"Why won't you tell me? I don't want to hurt you."

"Dad said afore he got sick he didn't want people to know it; that's why," exclaimed Pep finally.

"Why not? He's honest, I'm sure."

"Honest? Bet yer he is! But he don't want his old friends to know how he's come down."

"Oh!" exclaimed Richard, a new light breaking in upon him.

"Then you were better off once?"

"'Deed we were when marm was alive, and sister Mary. When they died dad went on a spree--the first and last one--and spent what money was left after the bills was paid. Then he sold our stuff and we came here, and I got into the streets."

"How long ago is that?"

"'Most three years. It's been tough times since then."

And Pep suddenly raised his coat sleeve to wipe away two big tears that had started to come down his cheeks.

"Did you ever know anything of an Uncle Doc?" asked Richard suddenly.

Pep gave a cry.

"What do you know of my Uncle Doc?" he exclaimed trembling. "Oh, Mr. Dare, did he--did he--"

"What? Send me here? No; but he is looking all over for your father. Then your name is Pep Clover?"

"Yes, sir. But how did you find it out?"

"Your father's talking led me to think so. I'm glad I found you for there is money coming to your father. How much I don't know, but quite some."

"Money coming to him?" Pep's eyes opened widely. Then suddenly his face fell. "Yer foolin' me."

"No, I'm not. It's money from an uncle in England, left to your father and your Aunt Betty."

Pep gave a whoop. "Hooray!" he cried, with a wild fling of his arms. "How much is it? As much as twenty--as fifty dollars?"

"Yes, a good many fifty dollars," replied Richard with a smile.

"And kin dad have a nuss and medicine? Maybe they'll let him in the hospital if he pays, hey? And I'll get some new clo'es, and then they'll let me come and see him."

Pep rattled on as if the idea of sudden wealth had turned his head.

"I'll go and tell your uncle," said Richard at length. "I know it will be a big surprise to him."

"Kin you find the way from here and back?" asked Pep anxiously.

"I don't know," replied Richard doubtfully. "I wish you could come along."

"I would, only--" and the urchin pointed to the mattress. "Go ahead," put in Frank. "I'll tend to him while you are gone, I don't think I'll have any trouble."

"Dad gets mighty cranky sometimes," returned Pep, with a doubtful shake of his head.

"Never mind; I'll manage it. You won't be gone over an hour, I guess," added the stock-clerk to Richard.

"I think not; that is, if we can find Doc Linyard. His place is no doubt shut up and he may be away."

A moment later Richard, accompanied by Pep, went down into the court and made their way to the street beyond. The urchin was all eager expectation, and if it had not been for Richard, for whom it was hard work to keep up as it was, he would have run the entire way.

In a few minutes they were down on the Bowery, and passing Park Row, the only lively spot in lower New York on Sunday, they crossed Fulton Street and so on down to West.

As Richard had anticipated, the Watch Below was closed. Doc Linyard did not keep his place open on Sunday, excepting for an hour or two early in the morning.

"I'll have to see if I can knock him up," he said to Pep.

And raising his foot he kicked several times on the lower portion of the door.

"Something like the first night, when I got lost," he thought to himself. "What changes have occurred since then!"

Richard repeated his kicking, and presently there were sounds of footsteps within, the turning of a key in the lock, and then the door opened cautiously, revealing Mrs. Linyard.

"Oh, it's you!" she exclaimed. "Come in! I was afraid it might be some drunken man; there's so many here of a Sunday, trying to get in."

"Aunt Betty, don't you know me!" piped up Pep's voice, all in a tremble.

Mrs. Linyard turned and surveyed the street urchin eagerly.

"Mercy me! if it hain't Tom's boy!" she ejaculated. "Where in the world did you come from?"

"Mr. Dare brought me," replied Pep.

Mrs. Linyard caught him up in her arms.

"Who'd a believed it!" she cried. "Mr. Dare a doing of it. Why, you're as dirty as a pig! Where's your dad and your marm and sister Mary?"

"Dad's sick. We just left him. Marm and Mary are dead. Mr. Dare says you've got money for dad. I'm so glad, 'cause he's sick."

"Mother and Mary dead!" The sad news brought the tears to the woman's eyes. "Poor dear! Poor Tom!"

"Mr. Clover is very sick," said Richard. "He has no one to care for him but Pep. Is Mr. Linyard at home?"

"Yes; taking his nap on the sofa. I'll call him--or no, come up. My, what a surprise 'twill be for him! He'd about given up."

Taking Pep by the hand Mrs. Linyard led the way up to her "best room," where her husband lay sound asleep on a lounge.

"Get up, Doc!" she cried, shaking him vigorously. "Get up! Here's your nevvy; and Mr. Dare has found Tom! Just think of it--he's found Tom! Wake up, Doc! Was ever there such a man! To keep on sleeping with such good news to hear!"