Chapter VII. The End of the Journey.
 

Despite the knowledge that he was doing no wrong, Richard's heart sank when he heard the railroad official call him back.

He did not think how easy it might be to prove himself innocent of all wrong-doing. It was bad enough to be suspected. Besides, he had not been the only one to hear the harsh words that had been spoken, and in a moment a crowd had collected.

"I was in the wreck, and this valise belongs to a friend of mine," replied Richard, as soon as he could collect his thoughts.

"What is your name?" asked the official who still held him by the arm.

Richard told him.

"And who was your friend?"

"His name is--is--"

And here, being greatly confused, Richard could not remember the leather merchant's name.

"Come, answer me," continued the man sharply.

"His name is--is--I've forgotten it!" stammered the boy in confusion.

"Humph! A very plausible excuse I must say," sneered the man.

"It's the truth. I met the gentleman on the train. He introduced himself, and we had quite a chat. Then he asked me to look after his baggage while he went into the smoking-car, and while he was gone the accident happened."

"Where is the man now?" asked the first official.

"I don't know. I've been trying to find him."

"Do you expect me to believe that?" exclaimed the other. "There isn't a soul missing from that wreck!"

"I can't help it," replied Richard stoutly, for he was recovering from the shock he had received. "What I'm telling you is a fact."

"What's the matter here?" broke in a hearty voice; and Doc Linyard elbowed his way through the crowd. "What's wrong with the young gentleman?"

"What business is that of yours?" returned the man sharply.

"Not much may be, but if there's trouble for him I want to know it. He saved my life down in the smash-up, and I intend to stand by him," returned the old tar decidedly.

"They think I'm trying to steal this valise," explained Richard.

"What!" roared Doc Linyard. "Confound you for a pair of landlubbers! Don't you know an honest figurehead when you see it? Look at him! 'Pears to me he looks more straightforward than those as accuses him."

Both officials were taken back by the tar's aggressive manner.

"Better be careful," continued the sailor. "You don't know who this young gentleman is, and before long you'll be laying up a heap of trouble for yourselves."

"We have to be on our guard," said the first official in a milder tone.

"The young man will have to leave the valise here, at least," added the other.

"I'm willing to do that," said Richard. "But I'm no thief," he continued as they walked over to the baggage-room.

"Yes, but that man's name--" began one of the men.

"Was Joyce--Timothy Joyce!" cried the boy. "I knew I would remember it sooner or later."

The official took a piece of chalk and scratched the name upon the bottom of the valise.

"That one is yours?"

"Yes; here is my name on the bottom," and Richard showed it.

"All right. You can go. If Mr. Joyce calls he can get his property, otherwise it will be forwarded to the main baggage office in New York."

"Hold up! Not so fast," put in Doc Linyard. "Just give him a receipt for that valise."

"Oh, that's all right," replied the man, turning red.

"Maybe so. But I don't see as how he ought to trust you any more than you trusted him," went on the tar bluntly.

"That's fair," put in an old man, who had stood watching the proceedings. "'What's sauce for the goose is the sauce for the gander.'"

With very bad grace the official wrote down something on a pad, tore the page off and thrust it at Richard.

"I hope you're satisfied," he snapped to Doc Linyard; and taking up Mr. Joyce's valise he entered an inner room, slamming the door behind him.

"Good riddance to him," muttered the old tar. "A few brass buttons on his coat has turned his head."

The train had fortunately been delayed, but it was now moving from the station. Richard and Doc Linyard made a rush for it, and succeeded in boarding the last car.

"Hope we're done with adventures," remarked the old tar, when they were seated. "I'd rather have things quiet and easy."

"I must thank you," said Richard heartily. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come up just when you did."

"Shoo--'tain't nothing, Mr. Dare, alongside of what you did for me," replied the sailor. "But I've had a run of bad luck since I left New York two days ago," he added meditatively.

"Yes?" questioned the boy with some curiosity. "How so?"

"Well, it's this way," began Doc Linyard, crossing his good leg over the cork one: "My wife got a letter from England last week, saying as how an uncle had died, leaving his property to her and her brother, Tom Clover. In the letter she was asked to see her brother and fix the matter up with him. They wrote they didn't have his address, and so left it to her."

"I should think that would be all right," remarked Richard, as the old tar paused.

"It would be, only for one thing--we don't know where Tom is. He used to live in New York, but moved away, we don't know where. A party told me he thought he had got work in a place called Fairwood, but I've just come from there."

"And you didn't find him?"

"No; he had never been in the place. I have an idea he is again somewhere in New York."

"Didn't he used to call on you?"

"Sometimes; but he was a bit queer, and there was times he didn't show up for months and months. He's pretty old, and couldn't get around very well."

"Is the property valuable?"

"It's worth over eight hundred pounds--four thousand dollars."

"It's a fortune!" exclaimed Richard.

"'Twould be to Betty and me," returned the sailor. "We never had over a hundred dollars in cash in our lives."

"It's a pity you can't find him," said the boy. "What are you going to do? Get your wife's share, and let the other rest?"

"No; that's the worst of it. By the provisions of the will the property can't be divided very well except by the consent of both heirs."

"In that case I think I'd commence a pretty good search for Mr.--your wife's brother. It's worth spending quite a few dollars to find him."

"Just my reckoning. But New York is a big place to find any one in."

"Perhaps your brother-in-law will drop in on you when you least expect him."

"Hope he does."

The two continued the conversation for a long time. The more Richard saw of Doc Linyard, the better he liked the bluff old tar, and, to tell the truth, the latter was fully as much taken by Richard's open manner.

It was not long before Richard poured out his own tale in all its details. He found a strong sympathizer in the sailor, who expressed a sincere wish that the pension due the Dare family might be speedily forthcoming.

"Somewhat of a like claim to mine," he remarked. "We are both looking for other people to help us out."

"And I trust we both succeed," added Richard earnestly. "In fact we must succeed," he continued, with sudden energy.

"Right you are!" was the reply. "We're bound to get the proper bearings some time."

Before they reached their journey's end they were fast friends.

"Jersey City!"

It was the brakeman's cry, and an instant later the train rolled into the vast and gloomy depot, and every one was scrambling up and making for the door.

In a moment they were upon the platform, amid a surging, pushing mass of people.

"Which way?" asked Richard, somewhat confused by the unusual bustle.

"This way," replied the sailor. "Just follow me."

"West Shore this side! Checks for baggage! Brooklyn Annex to the right!" and several similar calls filled the boy's ears.

He kept close to the tar, who led the way to the slip where a Cortlandt Street boat was in waiting, and, dodging several trucks and express wagons, they hurried down the bridge and went on board.

The gentlemen's cabin was so full of tobacco smoke that it nearly stifled Richard, and he was not sorry when Doc Linyard led the way straight through to the forward deck.

It was a pleasant day, and the lowering sun cast long shadows over the water, and lit up the spires and stone piles of the great metropolis that lay beyond, tipped with gold, typical of Richard's high hopes.

Swiftly the ferryboat crossed the North River, crowded with boats. Then it ran into the slip--there was the rattle of the ratchets as the line wheels spun around, and finally the gates were opened.

Richard had reached New York at last.