”I went around to his place of business, and was told that you had just left there. I was given a description of you and hurried to find you. Will you come to the house and see Mr. Carter?“
”Yes, sir,“ answered Phil, forgetting everything except that his kind and generous employer was sick, perhaps dangerously.
”Thank you; I shall feel relieved. Of course you can communicate with his friends and arrange to have him carried home.“
”Yes, sir; I live at his house.“
”That is well.“
They had turned down Bleecker Street, when it occurred to Phil to say:
”I don’t understand how Mr. Carter should be in this neighborhood.“
”That is something I can’t explain, as I know nothing about his affairs,“ said the stranger pleasantly. ”Perhaps he may have property on the street.“
”I don’t think so. I attend to much of his business, and he would have sent me if there had been anything of that kind to attend to.“
”I dare say you are right,“ said his companion.
”Of course I know nothing about it. I only formed a conjecture.“
”Has a physician been sent for?“ asked Phil.
”Do you know of any we can call in?“
”My wife agreed to send for one on Sixth Avenue,“ said the stranger. ”I didn’t wait for him to come, but set out for the store.“
Nothing could be more ready or plausible than the answers of his new acquaintance, and Phil was by no means of a suspicious temperament. Had he lived longer in the city it might have occurred to him that there was something rather unusual in the circumstances, but he knew that Mr. Carter had spoken of leaving the house at the breakfast-table, indeed had left it before he himself had set out for the store. For the time being the thought of the sum of money which he carried with him had escaped his memory, but it was destined very soon to be recalled to his mind.
They had nearly reached Sixth Avenue, when his guide stopped in front of a shabby brick house.
”This is where I live,“ he said. ”We will go in.“
He produced a key, opened the door, and Phil accompanied him up a shabby staircase to the third floor. He opened the door of a rear room, and made a sign to Phil to enter.
PHIL IS ROBBED.
WHEN he was fairly in the room Phil looked about him expecting to see Mr. Carter, but the room appeared unoccupied. He turned to his companion, a look of surprise on his face, but he was destined to be still more surprised, and that not in a pleasant way. His guide had locked the door from the inside and put the key in his pocket.
”What does that mean?“ asked Phil, with sudden apprehension.
”What do you refer to?“ asked his guide with an unpleasant smile.
”Why do you lock the door?“
”I thought it might be safest,“ was the significant answer.
”I don’t believe Mr. Carter is in the house at all,“ said Phil quickly.
”I don’t believe he is either, youngster.“
”Why did you tell me he was here?“ demanded Phil, with rising indignation.
”I thought you wouldn’t come if I didn’t,“ replied his companion nonchalantly.
”Answer me one thing, is Mr. Carter sick at all?“
”Not that I know of.“
”Then I am trapped!“
”Precisely. You may as well know the truth now.“
Phil had already conjectured the reason why he had been enticed to this poor dwelling. The two hundred dollars which he had in his pocket made him feel very uncomfortable. I think I may say truly that if the money had been his own he would have been less disturbed. But he thought, with a sinking heart, that if the money should be taken from him, he would himself fall under suspicion, and he could not bear to have Mr. Carter think that he had repaid his kindness with such black ingratitude. He might be mistaken. The man before him might not know he had such a sum of money in his possession, and of course he was not going to give him the information.