Chapter 30




A HUNTING EXCURSION.

Fred did not rise till eight o'clock the next morning. He was fatigued by his long journey, and slept late. When he descended, he found Bowman seated at the breakfast-table.

"I got ahead of you," said Bowman.

"How long have you been down-stairs?"

"About ten minutes."

"Are we likely to have a good day for hunting?"

"Good enough," answered Bowman, indifferently. "I am not an enthusiastic sportsman. I only take to it to fill up a part of my time. It is about the only thing I can do in this dull hole."

"You might read. I brought two or three novels in my valise, and will lend yon one if you care for it."

"I don't care for reading. Stories tire me. I used to read the daily papers in New York, but can't get hold of any here New York dailies, I mean. I don't care for Canadian papers unless they contain news from New York."

"I have with me the Tribune, World, and Sun, of day before yesterday."

"I should like to see them," said Bowman, eagerly. "If you will bring them down, I will look over them in the woods."

"All right! I am glad I saved them. I had a mind to throw them away, or leave them in the car."

The breakfast was plain, but Fred and Bowman, who were the only guests, were not difficult to suit.

Ten minutes later they were on their way to the woods. They went across the fields, taking a footpath trodden in the snow, which materially shortened the distance. But even tramping this far tired Bowman, and when they reached a small rock that cropped out from the expanse of white, he declared that he must rest awhile.

He took a seat on the bowlder and began to read one of the papers he had brought with him.

Five minutes later he uttered an exclamation of surprise. Fred looked at him inquiringly.

"Do you find news of any of your friends?" he asked.

"Yes, Teddy Donovan has escaped from Sing Sing."

"That's the bank burglar, isn't it?"

"Yes, and one of the smartest men in the profession."

"You know him, then?"

"Yes," answered Bowman. "I got acquainted with him some years ago. Of course," he added, feeling some explanation necessary, "I didn't know that he was a burglar till later. Poor fellow, it is his only fault."

Fred was privately of opinion that it was rather a serious fault.

"He's a smart fellow," Bowman continued, "and he led the police a long chase before they nabbed him. I've often urged him to turn over a new leaf and lead an honest life or he'd fetch up in prison, but he only laughed, and that was all the good it did. I wish Teddy would find his way up here."

"Do you think he will be able to elude recapture?"

"Well, he's sharp enough for almost anything."

"I suppose there are a good many men of his kind in Canada," said Fred innocently.

"Yes," replied Bowman, adding in a jocular tone. "I didn't know but that might have brought you here."

"Oh, no!" laughed Fred. "I'm as straight and honorable as you are."

"Good joke!" exclaimed Bowman, slapping his thigh. "Shake!"

Bowman extended his hand, and Fred shook it, though it was not clear to him what the joke was or why he should shake hands with his companion because they both happened to be straight and honorable.

The hunt was now begun, for Fred caught sight of a jack rabbit skimming across the snow. He lifted his gun, and was fortunate enough to bring his game down. This fired Bowman with the spirit of emulation, and putting the papers back in his pocket, he started off in search of a companion trophy to that of his young friend.

He did not find it until the ex-train boy had knocked over two more "bunnies" and as Fred continued to keep ahead of him in the amount of game bagged, Mr. Paul Bowman soon became disgusted and proposed a return to the hotel, where he would have an opportunity to finish his perusal of the New York papers by the reading-room stove.

As Fred's nose was being nipped by the frost, and he felt that he had wrought sufficient destruction among the rabbit tribe, he readily fell in with the suggestion.

Half an hour later he was thawing himself out when Bowman suddenly looked up from the World and asked abruptly:

"Did you ever hear of John Wainwright, the broker and banker?"

Fred was on his guard and answered cautiously:

"Yes, I believe I have heard of him. He has an office on Broadway, hasn't he?"

"No, on Wall Street."

"Did you ever work for him?"

"No; but an acquaintance of mine did," said Bowman carelessly. "He's got a pile of money, I expect."

"Very likely. Most bankers have, haven't they?"

"I suppose so, but they're not in my line. I used to be a dry goods clerk."

"In New York?"

"No, in Baltimore."

"I don't know anything about Baltimore."

If Bowman at any time entertained any suspicions about Fred they were dissipated by his next remark.

"I might like to go to Baltimore to work. Would you recommend me to the firm you used to work for?"

"I believe they have gone out of business, but you'd better stick to New York, youngster. There's better chances there than in Baltimore."

The gong for dinner now sounded, and as their tramp through the snow had given them both good appetites, they lost no time in answering its summons.

When dinner was over Bowman asked:

"What are you going to do with yourself this afternoon?"

"I promised to call on your friend in the cottage. Will you go with me?"

"Not I. I can fill up my time more agreeably. You will find it awfully stupid."

"Very likely; but I like to keep my promises."

"The landlord's going to ride to Hyacinth, about ten miles away, on business. He's invited me to ride with him. I wish there were room in the sleigh for you."

"I can put that off till another time. I hope you will have a pleasant ride."

"It will fill up the time, anyway."

"Have you any message to your partner?" asked Fred, as he stood ready to start on his walk.

"No. Tell him to get well as fast as he can, so that we can get away from this beastly place. That's all."

James Sinclair was lying on the bed with a look of weariness on his face when Fred pushed open the outer door and entered.

Sinclair's face brightened up.

"You didn't forget your promise, Mr. Fenton?" lie said.

"No, I always keep my promises when I can."

"You are very kind to a poor sick man. You have no idea how long the hours seem in this quiet cottage with no one to look at or speak to but Claudine."

"I can imagine it."

"And Claudine understands very little English. Most of the people in St. Victor, as I suppose you know, are French."

"I judged this from the signs over the shops."

"Very few English-speaking people find their way here. It is for this reason that I was somewhat surprised to see you here."

"I should not have come here," returned Fred pointedly, "if you had not been here."

"You came here to see me?" ejaculated Sinclair in excitement.

"Yes."

"Then you must come from Mr. Wainwright."

"Yes, I come from him in response to the letter which he received from you."

"Thank God!" said Sinclair, fervently.



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