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HOW GILBERT IS DISPOSED OF.
"What do you want, fellow?" demanded James Grey, sternly, in order to keep up appearances, for he recognized his confederate. "Let go that bridle."
"I want money," said Hugh Trimble, for, of course it was he.
"Is this the fashion in which you ask it?" said Mr. Grey. "Let go my bridle, and come round to my house. Then I will listen to your application, and, if I find you deserving, I will grant your request."
"That don't go down," said Hugh, roughly. "You rich men take good care of your money. I shouldn't stand no chance at your house."
"As much there as here."
"Maybe not," said the man, significantly. "There you'd be master. Here, I am master."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that I want five hundred dollars, and I mean to have it."
"Do you dare to threaten me?"
"Yes, I do. You are a rich man—I am poor. You can spare five hundred dollars without feeling it."
"I don't intend to be forced into giving you money. Let go that bridle, or I will run over you."
"I will stand by you, Mr. Grey," said Gilbert, speaking for the first time. "Don't submit to that man's demands."
"Young man," said Hugh, "you'd better not interfere. You can't help your father."
"He is not my father."
"No matter what he is, you'd better keep out of the affair. That's the advice I give you."
"I shall stand by him," said Gilbert, spiritedly. "You've got two against you."
"And you've got two against you," said Hugh, drawing a pistol from a side-pocket. "What do you say to that?"
"My friend, what is it that you demand?" asked Mr. Grey.
"So I'm your friend now, am I?" retorted Hugh, with a mocking laugh. "It's the pistol that's done it, I reckon."
"I repeat it—what do you want?"
"Five hundred dollars."
"I left my pocket-book at home. I will go back and get the money."
"Do you take me for a fool? You would come back with an officer of the law."
"I promise you that I will lay no trap for you."
Here Hugh seemed to hesitate.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," he said, finally. "Leave the boy with me as a pledge, and I'll let you go."
"Suppose I don't?"
"I'll shoot you on the spot!"
James Grey turned to Gilbert.
"You hear what he says? Are you willing to remain with him while I go back and get the money?"
Gilbert did not fancy the plan, and hesitated.
"If there is no other way," he said, at length.
"My friend," said Mr. Grey, "I will stay with you, and send the boy home."
"I won't trust him," said Hugh, who had learned his lesson well. "Besides, he cannot get the money as well as you."
"There seems no help for it, Gilbert," said James Grey, turning to his nephew. "He insists upon retaining you, but it shall not be for long. I will at once obtain the money, and come back and release you. He is armed, and we are not. We cannot resist him."
"If you think it best," said Gilbert.
"I am afraid there is no other way. My friend, suppose I give you my promise to come back, will you excuse this young man from stopping?"
"No!" said Hugh, shortly.
"Say no more," said Gilbert. "I will remain."
He jumped lightly from the chaise, and Hugh released his hold of the bridle.
"When shall you be back?" he asked.
"At three o'clock this afternoon."
"I will be on hand with the boy."
"Keep up your courage, Gilbert," said Mr. Grey, as he drove away.
Out of sight, a smile of triumph overspread his face.
"I didn't think Hugh would do his part so well," he soliloquized. "Really he is quite an actor. So I am rid of my troublesome responsibility at last. I hope never again to set eyes upon him."
On reaching home he stated that Gilbert had suddenly received a telegram summoning him to St. Louis; that he had carried him to a landing-place for the river boats, and agreed to dispatch his luggage to the Planters' House in that city by express. To keep up appearances he did so dispose of Gilbert's carpet-bag, directing it to
"Gilbert Grey, Planters' House, St. Louis, Mo."
"'Pears like he left mighty suddint," said Pompey.
"Yes; he has a friend very sick in St. Louis," explained Mr. Grey.
"I'm sorry he's gone," said John, who suspected nothing. "He was a right fine lad, and he managed Bucephalus beautiful."
Jasper said nothing, but wondered whether Gilbert had suffered violence at his father's hands.
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