Joe the Hotel Boy/Chapter XVI
"Say, you, give me my money!"
Such were Josiah Bean's words, as he rushed up to Henry Davis and grabbed the swindler by the shoulder.
The slick-looking individual was thoroughly startled, for he had not dreamed that the countryman would get on his track so soon. He turned and looked at the man and also at Joe, and his face fell.
"Wha--what are you talking about?" he stammered.
"You know well enough what I am talking about," answered Josiah Bean, wrathfully. "I want my money, every cent o' it,--an' you are a-goin' to jail!"
"Sir, you are making a sad mistake," said the swindler, slowly. "I know nothing of you or your money."
"Yes, you do."
"Make him get off the car," put in Joe.
"Boy, what have you to do with this?" asked the swindler, turning bitterly to our hero.
"Not much perhaps," answered Joe. "But I'd like to see justice done."
"I want that money," went on the countryman, doggedly. "Come off the car."
He caught the swindler tighter than ever and made him walk to the sidewalk. By this time a crowd of people began to collect.
"What's the trouble here?" asked one gentleman.
"He's robbed me, that's what's the matter," answered the countryman. "He has got six hundred dollars o' mine!"
"Six hundred dollars!" cried several and began to take a deeper interest.
"Gentleman this man must be crazy. I never saw him before," came loudly from the swindler.
"That is not true!" cried Joe. "He was with the man who lost the money. I saw them together yesterday."
"I am a respectable merchant from Pittsburg," went on the swindler. "It is outrageous to be accused in this fashion."
"Somebody had better call a policeman," said Joe.
"I'll do dat," answered a newsboy, and ran off to execute the errand.
As the crowd began to collect the swindler saw that he was going to have difficulty in clearing himself or getting away. He looked around, and seeing an opening made a dash for it.
He might have gotten away had it not been for Joe. But our hero was watching him with the eyes of a hawk, and quick as a flash he caught the rascal by the coat sleeve.
"No, you don't!" he exclaimed. "Come back here!"
"Let go!" cried the man and hit Joe in the ear. But the blow did not stop Joe from detaining him and in a second more Josiah Bean caught hold also.
"Ain't goin' to git away nohow!" exclaimed the countryman, and took hold of the swindler's throat.
"Le--let go!" came back in a gasp. "Don't--don't strangle me!"
When a policeman arrived the swindler was thoroughly cowed and he turned reproachfully to Josiah Bean.
"This isn't fair," he said. It was all a joke. I haven't got your money."
"Yes, you have."
"He is right, Mr. Bean," put in Joe. "The money, I think, is in your side pocket."
The countryman searched the pocket quickly and brought out a flat pocketbook.
"Hullo! this ain't mine!" he ejaculated.
He opened the pocketbook and inside were the twelve fifty-dollar bills.
"My money sure enough! How in the world did it git there?"
"This man just slipped the pocketbook into your pocket," answered Joe.
"I did not!" put in the swindler, hotly.
"Dat's right!" piped up the newsboy who had brought the policeman. "I see him do de trick jest a minit ago!"
"This is a plot against me!" fumed the swindler.
"Dat feller is a bad egg!" went on the news- boy. "His name is Bill Butts. He's a slick one, he is. Hits de country jays strong, he does!"
At the mention of the name, Bill Butts, the policeman became more interested than ever.
"You'll come to the station house with me," he said, sternly. "We can straighten out the matter there."
"All right," answered Bill Butts, for such was his real name.
In a few minutes more the party, including Joe, was off in the direction of the police station.
"Better keep a good eye on your money, Mr. Bean," said our hero, as they walked along.
"I've got it tucked away safe in an inside pocket," answered the old countryman.
The station house was several squares away, and while walking beside the policeman the eyes of Bill Butts were wide open, looking for some means of escape. He had "done time" twice and he did not wish to be sent up again if it could possibly be avoided.
His opportunity came in an unexpected manner. In a show window on a corner a man was exhibiting some new athletic appliances and a crowd had collected to witness the exhibition. The policeman had to force his way through.
"Hi, quit shovin' me!" growled a burly fellow in the crowd, not knowing he was addressing a guardian of the law.
"Make way here!" ordered the policeman, sternly, and then the fellow fell back.
It gave Bill Butts the chance he wanted and as quick as a flash he dove into the crowd and out of sight.
"He is running away!" cried Joe.
"Catch him!" put in Josiah Bean.
Both went after the swindler and so did the policeman. But the crowd was too dense for them, and inside of five minutes Bill Butts had made good his escape.
"What did ye want to let him slip ye fer?" growled the old countryman, angrily.
"Don't talk to me," growled the policeman.
"He ought to be reported for this," put in our hero.
"Say another word and I'll run you both in," said the bluecoat.
"Come away," whispered Josiah Bean. "Anyway, it ain't so bad. I've got my money."
"I'm willing to go," answered Joe. "But, just the same, that policeman is a pudding head," he added, loudly.
"I'll pudding head you!" cried the bluecoat, but made no attempt to molest Joe, whose general style he did not fancy.
Side by side Josiah Bean and our hero walked away, until the crowd was left behind and they were practically alone.
"I'm goin' to count thet money again," said the old countryman, and did so, to make certain that it was all there.
"We were lucky to spot the rascal, Mr. Bean."
"I didn't spot him--it was you. I'm much obliged to ye."
"Oh, that's all right."
"Seems to me you are entitled to a reward, Joe," went on the old farmer.
"I don't want any reward."
"But you're a-goin' to take it. How would five dollars strike you?"
"Not at all, sir. I don't want a cent."
"Then, maybe, ye won't even come an' take dinner with me," continued the old man, in disappointed tones.
"Yes, I'll do that, for this chase has made me tremendously hungry."
"If ye ever come down my way, Joe, ye must stop an' call on me."
"I will, Mr. Bean."
"Nuthin' on my farm will be too good for ye, Joe. I'm goin' to tell my wife Mirandy o' this happenin' an' she'll thank you jest as I've done."
A good restaurant was found not far away and there the two procured a fine meal and took their time eating it.
"Have ye found work yet?" asked the old man.
"Not yet. I was looking for a job when I met you."
"Well, I hope ye strike wot ye want, lad. But it's hard to git a place in the city, some times."
"I shall try my level best."
"Wish I could git a job fer ye. But I don't know nubuddy."
"I am going to try the hotels next. I have a strong letter of recommendation from a hotel man."
"If ye don't git no work in Philadelphy come out on my farm. I'll board ye all winter fer nuthin'," went on Josiah Bean, generously.
"Thank you, Mr. Bean; you are very kind."
"I mean it. We don't live very high-falutin', but we have plenty o' plain, good victuals."
"I'll remember what you say," answered our hero.
An hour later he saw the countryman on a train bound for home, and then he started once more to look for a situation.