"Is that the bill you spoke of, Walton?" asked the tailor, on Harry's next visit to the shop.
"Yes," said Harry, eagerly. "Where did you get it?"
"You can guess."
"From Luke Harrison?"
"Yes; he paid me, last evening, fifteen dollars on account. This note was among those he paid me."
"It is mine. I can swear to it."
"The rest of the money was yours, no doubt."
"What shall I do, Mr. Merrill?"
"The money is yours, and I will restore it to you after seeing Luke. I will send for him to be here at seven o'clock this evening."
As Luke was at work in his shop that day, the tailor's boy came in with a note.
Luke opened it and read as follows:
"Will you call at my shop at seven this evening about the pants you ordered?
"Tell your father I'll come," said Luke.
At seven o'clock he entered the tailor's shop once more.
"Well, Merrill, what do you want to see me about?" he asked. "Have you cut the pants?"
"You haven't? I wanted you to go to work on them at once."
"I know; but it was necessary to see you first."
"Why--didn't you take the measure right?"
"Luke," said Mr. Merrill, looking him steadily in the eye, "where did you get that money you paid me?"
"Where did I get the money?" repeated Luke, flushing up. "What makes you ask me that question? Isn't it good money? 'Tisn't counterfeit, is it?"
"I asked you where you got it from?"
"From the man I work for, to be sure," said Luke.
"Will you swear to that?"
"I don't see the use. Can't you take my word?"
"I may as well tell you that Harry Walton recognizes one of the bills as a part of the money he lost."
"He does, does he?" said Luke, boldly. "That's all nonsense. Bills all look alike."
"This one has a drop of ink just in the center. He remembered having dropped a blot upon it."
"What have I to do with that?"
"It is hardly necessary to explain. The evening he lost the money you were with him. Two days after, you pay me one of the bills which he lost," said the tailor.
"Do you mean to say I stole 'em?" demanded Luke.
"It looks like it, unless you can explain how you came by the blotted bill."
"I don't believe I paid you the bill. Very likely it was some one else."
"I thought you would say that, so I called Colman's attention to it. However, if your employer admits paying you the bills, of course you are all right."
Luke remembered very well that he was paid in fives, and that such an appeal would do him no good.
"Does Walton know this?" he asked, sinking into a chair, and wiping the perspiration from his brow.
"Yes; he suspected you."
"I'd like to choke him!" said Luke, fiercely." The miserly scoundrel!"
"It seems to me he is justified in trying to recover his money. What have you done with the rest of it?"
"Tell me what will be done to me," said Luke, sullenly.
"I didn't steal it. I only picked it up when he dropped it. He deserves to lose it, for being so careless."
"Why didn't you tell him you had found it?"
"I meant to give it to him after a while. I only wanted to keep it long enough to frighten him."
"That was dangerous, particularly as you used it."
"I meant to give him back other money."
"I don't think that excuse will avail you in court."
"Court of justice!" repeated Luke, turning pale.
"He won't have me taken up--will he?"
"He will unless you arrange to restore all the money."
"I've paid you part of it."
"That I shall hand over to him. Have you the rest?"
"I've spent a few dollars. I've got eight dollars left."
"You had better give it to me."
Reluctantly, Luke drew out his pocketbook and passed the eight dollars to Mr. Merrill.
"Now when will you pay the rest?"
"In a few weeks," said Luke.
"That won't do. How much do you earn a week?"
"How much do you pay for board?"
"Then you will be able to pay eleven dollars at the end of this week."
"I can't get along without money, said Luke.
"You will have to till you pay back the money, unless you prefer appearing before a court of justice."
Luke was just going out when the tailor called him back.
"I believe you owe me thirty dollars. When are you going to pay it?"
"I can't pay it yet a while," said Luke.
"I think you had better," said the tailor quietly.
"I'll pay you as soon as I can."
"You make eleven dollars a week over and above your board and spend it on drink, billiards and fast horses. You are fully able to pay for your clothes promptly and I advise you to do it."
"I'll pay you as soon as I can."
"If you neglect to do it, I may as well tell you that I shall let it be known that you stole Walton's pocketbook."
An expression of alarm overspread Luke's face, and he hastily made the required promise. But he added, "I didn't steal it. I only found it."
"The whole story would be told, and people might think as they pleased. But it is much better for you to avoid all this by paying your bills."
Luke Harrison left the tailor's shop in a very unhappy and disgusted frame of mind.
"If I had the sense to wait till it blew over," he said to himself, "I should have escaped all this: I didn't think Merrill would act so mean. Now I'm in for paying his infernal bill besides. It's too bad."
Just then he came upon Frank Heath, who hailed him.
"Luke, come and play a game of billiards."
"If you'll promise not to beat me. I haven't got a cent of money."
"You haven't? What have you done with those bills you had this afternoon?"
"I've paid 'em over to Merrill," said Luke, hesitating.
"He was in a deuced stew about his bill."
"When are your pants going to be ready?"
"I don't know," said Luke, with a pang of sorrow.
"Merrill's making them, isn't he?"
"He says he won't till I pay the whole bill."
"Seems to me your credit ain't very good, Luke."
"It's good enough, be he's hard up for money. I guess he's going to fail. If you'll lend me a couple of dollars, I'll go around and have a game."
Frank Heath laughed.
"You'll have to go to some one else, Luke," he said.
Luke passed a disagreeable evening. Cut off by his want of money from his ordinary amusements, and depressed by the thought that things would be no better till he had paid his bills, he lounged about, feeling that he was a victim of ill luck. It did not occur to him that that ill luck was of his own bringing.