Chapter VI. Under Suspicion.
 

"Well, I've had an adventure on the road just as Grace hoped I would," was Richard's mental comment, as he lay back in the car seat. "So I'll have something to write home after all. But I don't care particularly to have any more such happenings."

For though Richard had taken the whole affair rather coolly he now found that it had been more the excitement than aught else that had kept him up, and he was beginning to feel the full force of a most uncomfortable shaking up.

But this feeling, bordering upon nervous prostration, was not confined to the boy alone. Every one of the passengers, most of whom had escaped without a scratch, were decidedly ill at ease.

It was not long ere Richard thought to take a look through the train for Mr. Joyce.

"He may have got aboard without my seeing him," he said to himself.

And leaving his baggage piled up in the seat, he made the tour from one end to the other and back.

He was unsuccessful. It was as if the leather merchant had disappeared for good.

"Hope he turns up," thought the boy. "If he doesn't what am I to do with his baggage? I don't know where he lives and--Hold up."

He suddenly thought of Mr. Joyce's card, which that gentleman had given him, but a hasty and then a thorough search convinced him that the bit of pasteboard was no longer in his possession.

"Must have slipped out of my pocket in the smash-up," he thought. "Well, I'll have to make the best of it, only I don't want to carry off another person's property."

Richard did not know enough to leave the valise with the baggage master or some of the other railroad officials. This was his first journey of importance, and everything was new and strange to him. The next station was quite a distance, and after thinking the matter over the boy concluded to let the matter rest until they reached that point.

He still retained the guide-book the merchant had loaned him, and presently he took it out and began to study it more carefully than ever.

"Father used to live up in that neighborhood," he said to himself, as certain familiar names of streets arose in his mind. "Sometime, after I'm settled, I'll visit that district and learn if there are still any people there who knew him. Who knows but what I might run across some one who knew him during the war, and could witness his application?"

The idea was a rather pleasant one, and gave the boy a wide field for meditation and hope. He determined not only to take a "run up," as he had said, but also, when the opportunity offered, to make a thorough canvass of the locality and get every bit of information obtainable.

"Ahoy, there! Mr. Dare. On board, too, eh?" exclaimed a voice, and looking up Richard saw Doc Linyard's beaming face.

"Sit down," returned the boy.

The seat in front was vacant, and in a trice the old sailor had it turned over and himself ensconced in the soft cushions, opposite Richard.

"Might I ask where you're bound?" asked Doc Linyard, after another long string of thanks for the services that had been rendered.

"I can't say any more than that I'm going to New York. I'm looking for work, and I don't know where I'll settle. Perhaps I'll strike nothing and have to go back home."

"What! A strong, healthy young fellow like you? Nonsense! Not if you care to lend a willing hand."

"Oh, I'm anxious enough to do that."

"Then you'll pull through. Them as is anxious and willing always do. I didn't have much to start on when I settled in the city. Only six months' pay at sixteen dollars a month."

"How came you to leave the sea?" asked the boy, with considerable curiosity, for Doc Linyard was the first regular sailor he had ever known.

"Oh, you see I was wrecked a couple of times, and lost one leg; this," he tapped his left knee, "is only a cork one, you know, and then the wife grew afeared, and said as how she wanted me ashore. But a tar used to the rigging and sech don't take kindly to labor on land, so instead of working for other people, I up and started the Watch Below."

"What is it--a boarding-house?"

"Not exactly, though we do occasionally take a fellow in. It's a temperance lunch-room for sailors, with regular first-class ship grub; lobscouse, plum-duff and sech. Most of the fellows know me, and hardly a soul comes ashore but what drops in afore he leaves port."

"It must pay."

"I don't get fancy prices and only make a living. I'd like to ask you down, only maybe it wouldn't be fine enough."

Doc Linyard had noticed Richard's neat appearance, and saw that the boy was accustomed to having everything "nice."

"Oh, I should like to come very much," replied Richard, "that is if I get the chance."

On and on rolled the train, and finally the town for which it was bound was reached, and the passengers alighted and crowded the station.

It was announced that owing to the disaster no train would leave for New York for two hours. This left a long time on Richard's hands, and he hardly knew what to do.

Immediately on the arrival Doc Linyard had gone off to hunt up a friend he fancied lived in the place. Not far from the station was a little park containing a number of benches, and walking over to it Richard sat down.

The lunch his mother had given him came in handy now, and he did full justice to it.

He wished the old sailor was with him to share the repast. He had taken a fancy to the tar, and loved to listen to his hearty voice and open speech.

After the lunch was disposed of, Richard took a short stroll through the town. He did not go far, for he had the two valises with him, and they were heavy.

Presently he returned to the station, and it was not long before the train could be seen approaching in the distance. Along with a number of others, Richard started to walk over to the right track.

As he did so two men, who looked like railroad officials, approached him.

"Say, young fellow," sang out one of the men. "Hold up; we want to speak to you."

"What is it?" asked Richard.

"Whose baggage have you got there?"

"My own and another man's."

"What man?" asked the other official.

"A gentleman I met on the train."

"Where is he now?"

"I don't know. I'm trying to find him."

By this time the train had rolled into the station. Not wishing to miss it, Richard began to move on.

Both officials made a dive for him, and one of them caught him by the shoulder.

"Not so fast, my fine fellow?" he exclaimed.

"Why, what--what do you want?" asked Richard, with a rising color.

"We want you to give an account of yourself," was the reply. "Where did you get that valise?"