Chapter XXXI. In the Lockup

The lockup was a basement room under the engine-house. There were four cells, about four by eight, and into one of these Walter was put. The cell opposite was occupied by a drunken tramp, who looked up stupidly as Walter entered, and hiccoughed: "Glad to see you sonny."

"And I must stay in here overnight--with that man?"

"Hoss-stealers mustn't be particular," said the constable.

"Can you tell me where Colonel Owen lives--the man that owns the horse?"

"You ought to know that!"

"Is there any lawyer in this village?"

"Yes, there's two, an old man and a young one."

"I should like to see one of them. Can you ask one of them to come here?"

"It's a leetle out of my way," suggested Constable Stokes.

The constable pocketed with alacrity the half-dollar our hero tendered him, and said briskly. "I'll send him right off."

"I shay," interjected the tramp, "send me a lawyer, too."

"The same man will do for you," replied the constable. "A lawyer won't do you no good, though."

"We're victims of tyrannical 'pression!" said the tramp gloomily. "What are you in for, young feller?"

"I'm charged with stealing a horse."

"Smart boy!" said the tramp admiringly. "I didn't think you was up to hoss-stealin'."

"I am not. The charge is false."

"That's right! Stick to it! Deny everything. That's what I do." Half an hour later the outer door was opened and the constable reappeared, followed by a young man of about thirty.

"This is Mr. Barry, the lawyer," he said. "Mr. Barry, here is the key. You can keep it and let yourself out if you will be responsible for the safe custody of the prisoner."

"Yes, Mr. Stokes, I will give you my word that he shall not escape. Which is my client?"

"You don't look like a criminal, certainly," said the lawyer, with a rapid survey of his new client.

"I hope not."

"But one can't go by appearances wholly. As your lawyer, for I will undertake your case, I must ask you to trust me entirely, and give me your full confidence.

"First, let me ask your name."

"Walter Sherwood."

"It will now be necessary for you to tell me frankly whether you stole the horse or not."

"Of course I did not," answered Walter indignantly.

"You must excuse my asking the question. I did not believe you guilty, but it was necessary for me to know positively from your own lips. You must not be sensitive."

"I have no right to be, but I find myself in a very trying position."

"Of course, but I will try to get you out of it. Now, will you tell me in detail how the horse came into your possession?"

Walter told the story, and the lawyer listened attentively.

"Have you any proof of what you assert?" he asked, when Walter finished.

"There was no one present."

"I suppose not. Did no papers pass between you and this man?"

"Oh, yes!" answered Walter quickly, and he drew out the receipt which he had drawn up and got Hank Wilson to sign.

"Come, this is very important!" said Mr. Barry cheerfully. "It is a very valuable confirmation of your story. Will you trust me with it?"

"Certainly, sir."

"Is there any suggestion you have to offer, Mr. Sherwood? Sometimes I find that my clients give me valuable assistance that way."

"I wish you would telegraph to Colonel Owen to come here."

"Probably he has been sent for, but if not I will request him to come. Do you know the colonel?"

"No, sir; I never heard his name till I read the advertisement. Do you know anything of him, Mr. Barry?"

"He is the owner of a large estate in Shelby, and is a thorough gentleman of the old school."

"All the better! I would rather deal with such a man. Besides, by describing the man of whom I bought the horse I may put him in the way of capturing the real thief."

"Well thought of. May I ask, Mr. Sherwood, if you are from this part of the country?"

"No; I am a native of New York State.

"A year ago I was a member of the sophomore class of Euclid College."

"That is strange!" ejaculated Barry. "What is strange?"

"Colonel Owen, the owner of the horse, is an old graduate of the same institution."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed Walter, in genuine amazement.

"It is quite true. I am glad to have made the discovery. It will prepossess him in your favor, and this, I need hardly say, will be a great point gained. Well, I believe I have obtained all the data I require, and I will now go home and think over your case. I wish I could take you with me."

"I wish you could; I hate to be left in such a place."

"Cheer up, Mr. Sherwood. It won't be for long, I predict. You may rest assured of my best efforts in your behalf. I will at once telegraph for Colonel Owen."

The evening glided wearily away. Walter threw himself on his pallet and was nearly asleep when a confused noise was heard outside, and heavy blows were rained upon the outer door.

"What does it mean?" asked Walter, bewildered.

He listened intently, and there came to his ears a shout which made him turn pale with terror.