A week later Harry reached a brisk manufacturing place which I will call Centreville. He assisted the professor during the afternoon to get ready the hall for his evening performance and, at half past five, took his seat at the supper table in the village hotel.
Just as Harry began to eat, he lifted his eyes, and started in surprise as he recognized, in his opposite neighbor, Luke Harrison, whose abrupt departure without paying his debts the reader will remember. Under the circumstances, it will not be wondered at that our hero's look was not exactly cordial. As for Luke, he was disagreeably startled at Harry's sudden appearance. Not knowing his connection with Professor Henderson, he fancied that our hero was in quest of him and not being skilled in the law, felt a little apprehension as to what course he might take. It was best, he concluded to conciliate him.
"How are you, Walton?" he said.
"I am well," said Harry, coldly.
"How do you happen to be in this neighborhood?"
"On business," said Harry, briefly.
Luke jumped to the conclusion that the business related to him and, conscious of wrong-doing, felt disturbed.
"I'm glad to see you," he said. "It seems pleasant to see an old acquaintance"--he intended to say "friend."
"You left us rather suddenly," said Harry.
"Why, yes," said Luke, hesitating. "I had reasons. I'll tell you about it after supper."
As Harry rose from the table, Luke joined him.
"Come upstairs to my room, Walton," he said, "and have a cigar."
"I'll go upstairs with you; but I don't smoke."
"You'd better learn. It's a great comfort."
"Do you board here?"
"Yes. I found I shouldn't have to pay any more than at a boarding house and the grub's better. Here's my room. Walk in."
He led the way into a small apartment on the top floor.
"This is my den," he said. "There isn't but one chair; but I'll sit on the bed. When did you reach town?"
"Are you going to stop long?" asked Luke.
"I shall stay here till I get through with my errand," answered Harry, shrewdly; for he saw what Luke thought, and it occurred to him that he might turn it to advantage.
Luke looked a little uneasy.
"By the way, Walton," he said, "I believe I owe you a little money."
"Yes. I believe so."
"I'm sorry I can't pay you the whole of it. It costs considerable to live, you know; but I'll pay part."
"Here are five dollars," he said. "I'll pay you the rest as soon as I can--in a week or two."
Harry took the bank note with secret self-congratulation, for he had given up the debt as bad, and never expected to realize a cent of it.
"I am glad to get it," he said. "I have a use for all my money. Are you working in this town?"
"Yes. The shoe business is carried on here considerably. Are you still working for Mr. Leavitt?"
"No; I've left him."
"What are you doing, then?"
"I'm traveling with Professor Henderson."
"What, the magician?"
"And is that what brought you to Centreville?"
"I thought--" he began.
"What did you think?"
"I thought," answered Luke, evasively, "that you might be looking for work in some of the shoe shops here."
"Is there any chance, do you think?"
"No, I don't think there is," said Luke; for he was by no means anxious to have Harry in the same town.
"Then I shall probably stay with the professor."
"What do you do?"
"Take tickets at the door and help him beforehand with his apparatus."
"You'll let me in free, to-night, won't you?"
"That isn't for me to decide."
"I should think the professor would let your friends go in free."
"I'll make you an offer, Luke," said he.
"What is it?"
"Just pay me the rest of; that money to-night and I'll let you in free at my own expense."
"I can't do it. I haven't got the money. If 'you'll give it back, I'll call it a dollar more and pay you the whole at the end of next week."
"I'm afraid your calling it a dollar more wouldn't do much good," said Harry, shrewdly.
"Do you doubt my word?" blustered Luke, who had regained courage now that he had ascertained the real object of Harry's visit and that it had no connection with him.
"I won't express any opinion on that subject," answered Harry; "but there's an old saying that a 'bird in the hand's worth two in the bush.'"
"I hate old sayings."
"Some of them contain a great deal of truth."
"What a fool I was to pay him that five dollars!" thought Luke, regretfully. "If I hadn't been such a simpleton, I should have found out what brought him here, before throwing away nearly all I had."
This was the view Luke took of paying his debts. He regarded it as money thrown away. Apparently, a good many young men are of a similar opinion. This was not, however, according to Harry's code, and was never likely to be. He believed in honesty and integrity. If he hadn't, I should feel far less confidence in his ultimate success.
"I think I must leave you," said Harry, rising. "The professor may need me."
"Do you like him? Have you got a good place?"
"Yes, I like him. He is a very pleasant man."
"How does it pay?
"I wouldn't mind trying it myself. Do you handle all the money?"
"I take the money at the door."
"I suppose you might keep back a dollar or so, every night, and he'd never know the difference."
"I don't know. I never thought about that," said Harry, dryly.
"Oh, I remember, you're one of the pious boys,"
"I'm too pious to take money that doesn't belong to me, if that's what you mean," said Harry.
This was a very innocent remark; but Luke, remembering how he had kept Harry's pocketbook, chose to interpret it as a fling to himself.
"Do you mean that for me?" he demanded, angrily.
"Mean what for you?"
"That about keeping other people's money."
"I wasn't talking about you at all. I was talking about myself."
"You'd better not insult me," said Luke, still suspicious.
"I'm not in the habit of insulting anybody."
"I don't believe in people that set themselves up to be so much better than everybody else"
"Do you mean that for me?" asked Harry, smiling.
"Yes, I do. What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing, except to deny that I make any such claims. Shall you come round to the hall, to-night?"
"Then I shall see you. I must be going now."
He went out, leaving Luke vainly deploring the loss of the five dollars which he had so foolishly squandered in paying his debt.