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Chapter 14

Old Mike went to sleep quickly; but Hal had not worked for several days, and had exciting thoughts to keep him awake. He had been lying quiet for a couple of hours, when he became aware that some one was moving in the room. There was a lamp burning dimly, and through half-closed eyes he made out one of the men lifting himself to a sitting position. At first he could not be sure which one it was, but finally he recognised the Greek.

Hal lay motionless, and after a minute or so he stole another look and saw the man crouching and listening, his hands still on the floor. Through half opened eye-lids Hal continued to steal glimpses, while the other rose and tip-toed towards him, stepping carefully over the sleeping forms.

Hal did his best to simulate the breathing of sleep: no easy matter, with the man stooping over him, and a knife-thrust as one of the possibilities of the situation. He took the chance, however; and after what seemed an age, he felt the man's fingers lightly touch his side. They moved down to his coat-pocket.

"Going to search me!" thought Hal; and waited, expecting the hand to travel to other pockets. But after what seemed an interminable period, he realised that Apostolikas had risen again, and was stepping back to his place. In a minute more he had lain down, and all was still in the cabin.

Hal's hand moved to the pocket, and his fingers slid inside. They touched something, which he recognised instantly as a roll of bills.

"I see!" thought he. "A frame-up!" And he laughed to himself, his mind going back to early boyhood--to a dilapidated trunk in the attic of his home, containing story-books that his father had owned. He could see them now, with their worn brown covers and crude pictures: "The Luck and Pluck Series," by Horatio Alger; "Live or Die," "Rough and Ready," etc. How he had thrilled over the story of the country-boy who comes to the city, and meets the villain who robs his employer's cash-drawer and drops the key of it into the hero's pocket! Evidently some one connected with the General Fuel Company had read Horatio Alger!

Hal realised that he could not be too quick about getting those bills out of his pocket. He thought of returning them to "Judas," but decided that he would save them for Edstrom, who was likely to need money before long. He gave the Greek half an hour to go to sleep, then with his pocket-knife he gently picked out a hole in the cinders of the floor and buried the money as best he could. After which he wormed his way to another place, and lay thinking.

Upton Sinclair