Dick merriwells pranks;.., p.13
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       Dick Merriwell's Pranks; Or, Lively Times in the Orient, p.13
 

          
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  CHAPTER XIII--INWARD TORTURE

  Alone, Brad Buckhart returned to the hotel. He realized that he hadacted in a ridiculous manner in avoiding his friends and running awayfrom Dick and Nadia on the streets, but his feeling of shame for suchfolly was smothered by one of resentment and jealousy.

  "I thought her different from other girls," he muttered, as he paced thefloor of his room; "but she's just like them all--false, fickle, andgiddy. She pretended to like me, but out of sight is out of mind withher. She flirted with that confounded Turk--yes, she did! That's whatgot her into trouble. Her brother is just as foolish as she is. Heencouraged her. I suppose they think me nothing but a rough Texan, goodenough to fight for them and get them out of their troubles, but notgood for anything else. Well, if I take a fancy, I can show them I'm nothalf as rough as they think.

  "I imagine I can make a respectable appearance in refined society if Ichoose to try. Perhaps my family is just as good as the Budthornes. I'drather confess to hailing from Texas than to admit that I was fromChicago. Chicago! Why, a decent white man will turn to a smoked ham inthat town in less than three days! As for wild and woolly places, Ideclare Chicago lays way over Texas. A man is liable to be held upanywhere in Chicago in broad daylight. If he's sandbagged and robbed,and makes a complaint to the police, he stands a fine prospect of beinglocked up as a vagrant. No one from Chicago can get chesty with me."

  He was perfectly serious, little realizing the humor of his observationsand attitude. Although naturally broad-minded and manly, he had been"rubbed the wrong way of the fur" by Nadia's action, and, for the time,at least, he was almost childish in his resentment.

  The fact that he had this weakness, however, made his other manlyqualities stand out even more clearly.

  "I'll show her how much I care!" he continued. "I'll just hold my headup and keep out of her way. Let her go it! Let her flirt with Turks! Ifshe does, she'll be sorry!"

  He paused. The picture of Nadia making eyes at a handsome Turkishgentleman rose before him. He fancied he was willing she should doanything she wished, but now, all at once, he realized that she couldhurt him very much in case she disdained him and turned her attention inother directions.

  He had been bluffing when he ran away from her, and he knew it now. As arule he was able and willing to back up any bluff he made, but now hisreason told him he would weaken immediately in case this bluff wascalled.

  What if Nadia became offended by his ungentlemanly behavior in runningaway from her when she called to him and tried to overtake him? What ifthat one bad break of his should cause her in future to regard him withindifference or aversion?

  "Oh, ginger!" he exclaimed. "I couldn't stand that! It would drive me tosuicide! I'm a chump, and I can't help it! Dick is with her. Perhapsshe'll get smitten on him!"

  This thought added to his agitation.

  "How can she help it?" he muttered, again fiercely pacing the floor."Dick is the sort of fellow all the girls care for. He's far superior tome, and I don't see how she came to be interested the least bit in me inthe first place. Of course, there is June Arlington and DorisTempleton--but they're on the other side of the Atlantic, and I don'tbelieve there ever yet was a pretty girl who did not believe she couldcut out another girl if she really tried.

  "Perhaps that's what Nadia is trying to do! Perhaps she's playing aclever game by pretending to have any interest in me and seemingindifferent to Dick. A girl best attracts a fellow by seemingindifferent to him. The girl who pursues a chap is bound to lose him,nine times out of ten. It's the fellow who wants to do the pursuing. Heloves the chase and the zest of it. Some girls know this, and they playthe timid deer to perfection. Nadia Budthorne is right clever, and I'llwager something this little game is no secret to her.

  "I've hit it at last! I've known all along that she really cared forDick, and now I've been fool enough to help her in her play. Say, Iought to be shot! I know Dick is on the level, but how is he going toresist a clever girl like her? He might, if June Arlington were near;but June is far away, and, in my estimation, Nadia lays away over Juneany old time. Oh, you poor fool!"

  He clenched his fist and struck himself on the side of the head.

  Thus it happened that Professor Gunn and Dunbar Budthorne found theTexan in anything but a happy frame of mind when they returned to thehotel.

  They were agitated over the disappearance of Dick and Nadia, for whomthey had searched and inquired ere leaving the bazaars. When they didreturn to the hotel it was with the expectation and hope that they mightfind the boy and girl there.

  "They will turn up all right," declared Brad. "Dick will take care ofher, never fear."

  And now for the first time in his life he grew violently jealous of hisbosom comrade.

  "If he plays me double I'll never again have the least confidence inhuman nature!" he mentally cried.

  But when an hour passed and the missing boy and girl failed to return tothe hotel Buckhart began to share the alarm of the professor andBudthorne.

  "If anything happens to that boy I'll never forgive myself!" said theold pedagogue.

  "We must look for them," said Dunbar. "You know what took place at therailway station. What if some of Hafsa Pasha's tools found Dick andNadia alone and unprotected?"

  Suddenly Brad Buckhart reassumed his Western manners.

  "Whoop!" he cried. "Let's amble forth on the warpath! Let's take to thetrail and go out for scalps! I'm ready, and you know I can scrap some,if I don't shine resplendent at a soiree. I'm in right good humor for ascrimmage."

  Together they left the hotel and started to return to the bazaar; butthey had not proceeded far when they were stopped by the appearance ofan open carriage, in which were Dick and Ras al Had.

  Dick called to them, and the carriage stopped. Young Merriwell sprangdown.

  Budthorne, pale and shaking with apprehension, rushed forward andclutched him, demanding to know what had become of Nadia.

  Dick told the whole story in as few words as possible.

  As he listened Brad Buckhart grew ashen. He realized that Dick and Nadiahad become separated from the professor and Budthorne through theirefforts to follow and overtake him. By running away in such a childishmanner he had led them into all that trouble, the end of which had beenthe disappearance of the girl.

  "Fool! fool!" he groaned. "I am to blame for it all!"

 
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