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Sam was not used to liquor, and was more easily affected than most.
When he got out into the street his head spun round, and he staggered.
His companion observed it.
"Why, you don't mean ter say yer tight, Sam?" he said, pausing and looking at him.
"I don't know what it is," said Sam, "but I feel queer."
"Kinder light in the head, and shaky in the legs?"
"Yes, that's the way I feel."
"Then you're drunk."
"Drunk!" ejaculated Sam, rather frightened, for he was still unsophisticated compared with his companion.
"Just so. I say, you must be a chicken to get tight on one whiskey-punch," added Jim, rather contemptuously.
"It was strong," said Sam, by way of apology, leaning against a lamp-post for support.
"It was stiffish," said Jim. "I always take 'em so."
"And don't you feel it at all?" queried Sam.
"Not a bit," said Jim, decidedly. "I aint a baby."
"Nor I either," said Sam, with a spark of his accustomed spirit. "Only
I aint used to it."
"Why, I could take three glasses, one after the other, without gettin' tight," said Jim, proudly. "I tell you, I've got a strong stomach."
"I wish I hadn't taken the drink," said Sam. "When will I feel better?"
"In an hour or two."
"I can't go back to the doctor this way. He'll know I've been drinkin'. I wish I could lie down somewhere."
"I'll tell you what. Come round to the ferry-room. You can sit down there till you feel better."
"Give me your arm, Jim. I'm light-headed."
With Jim's assistance Sam made his way to Fulton Ferry, but instead of going over in the next boat he leaned back in his seat in the waiting-room, and rested. Jim walked about on the pier, his hands in his pocket, with an independent air. He felt happy and prosperous. Never before in his life, probably, had he had so much money in his possession. Some men with a hundred thousand dollars would have felt poorer than Jim with nine dollars and a half.
By and by Sam felt enough better to start on his homeward journey. Jim agreed to accompany him as far as the New York side.
"I don't know what the doctor will say when he finds out the money is gone," said Sam, soberly.
"You just tell him it was stolen from you by a pickpocket."
"Suppose he don't believe it?"
"He can't prove nothin'."
"He might search me."
"So he might," said Jim. "I'll tell you what you'd better do."
"Just give me the money to keep for you. Then if he searches you, he won't find it."
If Jim expected this suggestion to be adopted, he undervalued Sam's shrewdness. That young man had not knocked about the streets eight months for nothing.
"I guess not," said Sam, significantly. "Maybe I wouldn't find it any easier if you took it."
"You don't call me a thief, do you?" demanded Jim, offended.
"It looks as if we was both thieves," said Sam, candidly.
"You needn't talk so loud," said Jim, hurriedly. "There's no use in tellin' everybody that I see. I don't want the money, only, if the old man finds it, don't blame me."
"You needn't be mad, Jim," said Sam. "I'll need the money myself. I guess I'll have to hide it."
"Do you wear stockin's?" asked Jim.
"Yes; don't you?"
"Not in warm weather. They aint no good. They only get dirty. But if you wear 'em, that's the place to hide the money."
"I guess you're right," said Sam. "I wouldn't have thought of it.
Where can I do it?"
"Wait till we're on the New York side. You can sit down on one of the piers and do it. Nobody'll see you."
Sam thought this good advice, and decided to follow it.
"There is some use in stockin's," said Jim, reflectively. "If I was in your place, I wouldn't know where to stow away the money. Where are you goin' now?"
"I'll have to go back," said Sam. "I've been a long time already."
"I'm goin to get some dinner," said Jim.
"I haven't got time," said Sam. "Besides, I don't feel so hungry as usual. I guess it's the drink I took."
"It don't take away my appetite," said his companion, with an air of superiority.
Sam took the cars home. Knowing what he did, it was with an uncomfortable feeling that he ascended the stairs and entered the presence of Dr. Graham.
The doctor looked angry.
"What made you so long?" he demanded abruptly. "Did you find the house?"
"No," answered Sam, wishing that his embarrassing explanations were fully over. "No, I didn't."
"You didn't find the house!" exclaimed the doctor, in angry surprise.
"Why didn't you?"
"I thought it wasn't any use," stammered Sam.
"Wasn't any use!" repeated the chiropodist. "Explain yourself, sir, at once."
"As long as I hadn't got the letter," proceeded Sam.
Now the secret was out.
"What did you do with the letter?" demanded Dr. Graham, suspiciously.
"I lost it."
"Lost it! How could you lose it? Did you know there was money in it?" said his employer, looking angry and disturbed.
"Yes, sir; you said so."
"Then why were you not careful of it, you young rascal?"
"I was, sir; that is, I tried to be. But it was stolen."
"Who would steal the letter unless he knew that it contained money?"
"That's it, sir. I ought not to have told anybody."
"Sit down, and tell me all about it, or it will be the worse for you," said the doctor.
"Now for it!" thought Sam.
"You see, sir," he commenced, "I was in the horse-cars in Brooklyn, when I saw a boy I knew. We got to talking, and, before I knew it, I told him that I was carryin' a letter with money in it. I took it out of my coat-pocket, and showed it to him."
"You had no business to do it," said Dr. Graham. "No one but a fool would show a money-letter. So the boy stole it, did he?"
"Oh, no," said Sam, hastily. "It wasn't he."
"Who was it, then? Don't be all day telling your story," said the doctor, irritably.
"There was a young man sitting on the other side of me," said Sam. "He was well-dressed, and I didn't think he'd do such a thing; but he must have stole the letter."
"What makes you think so?"
"He got out only two or three minutes afterwards, and it wasn't long after that that I missed the letter."
"What did you do?"
"I stopped the car, and went back. Jim went back along with me. We looked all round, tryin' to find the man, but we couldn't."
"Of course you couldn't," growled the doctor. "Did you think he would stay till you came up?"
"No, sir. That is, I didn't know what to think. I felt so bad about losing the money," said Sam, artfully.
Now this story was on the whole very well got up. It did not do credit to Sam's principles, but it did do credit to his powers of invention. It might be true. There are such men as pickpockets to be found riding in our city horse-cars, as possibly some of my readers may have occasion to know. As yet Dr. Graham did not doubt the story of his young assistant. Sam came very near getting off scot-free.
"But for your carelessness this money would not have been lost," said his employer. "You ought to make up the loss to me."
"I haven't got any money," said Sam.
A sudden thought came to Dr. Graham. "Empty your pockets," he said.
"How lucky I put the bills in my stocking!" thought Sam.
He turned out his pockets, disclosing fifty cents. It was Friday, and to-morrow his weekly wages would come due.
"That's all I've got," he said.
"Twenty dollars is five weeks salary," said Dr. Graham. "You ought to work for me five weeks without pay."
"I'd starve to death," said Sam, in alarm. "I wouldn't be able to buy anything to eat."
"I can keep back part of your salary, then," said his employer. "It is only proper that you should suffer for your negligence."
At this moment a friend of the doctor's entered the office.
"What is the matter?" he asked.
Dr. Graham explained briefly.
"Perhaps," said the visitor, "I can throw some light upon your loss."
"I happened to be coming over from Brooklyn an hour since on the same boat with that young man there," he said, quietly.
Sam turned pale. There was something in the speaker's tone that frightened him.
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