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Title: Strong and Steady - Or, Paddle Your Own Canoe
Author: Alger, Horatio, Jr.
Language: English
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STRONG AND STEADY


      *      *      *      *      *      *

HORATIO ALGER'S Successful Juvenile Books


RAGGED DICK SERIES.

_Complete in Six Volumes._


TATTERED TOM SERIES.

A Continuation of the Ragged Dick Series.

_FIRST SERIES, in Four Volumes, now ready._

_SECOND SERIES, in Four Volumes, preparing._


LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES.

_FIRST SERIES, in Four Volumes, now ready._

_SECOND SERIES, in Four Volumes, preparing._


CAMPAIGN SERIES.

_Complete in Three Volumes._

Each Volume is sold, separate.


RAGGED DICK SERIES.

_Complete in Six Volumes--in a Box._

  I. RAGGED DICK; or, Street Life in New York.

 II. FAME AND FORTUNE; or, The Progress of Richard Hunter.

III. MARK, THE MATCH BOY.

 IV. ROUGH AND READY; or, Life Among New York Newsboys.

  V. BEN, THE LUGGAGE BOY; or, Among the Wharves.

 VI. RUFUS AND ROSE; or, The Fortunes of Rough and Ready.

_Price, $1.25 per volume._


_TATTERED TOM SERIES._

First Series _in Four Volumes_--_in Box_.

  I. TATTERED TOM; or, The Story of a Street Arab.

 II. PAUL, THE PEDDLER; or, The Adventures of a Young Street
      Merchant.

III. PHIL, THE FIDDLER; or, The Young Street Musician.

 IV. SLOW AND SURE; or, From the Sidewalk to the Shop.

_Price, $1.25 per volume._

SECOND SERIES.

 I. JULIUS; or, The Street Boy out West.

II. THE YOUNG OUTLAW; A Story of the Street,--Oct., '74.


_LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES._

First Series _in Four Volumes_--_in Box_.

  I. LUCK AND PLUCK; or, John Oakley's Inheritance.

 II. SINK OR SWIM; or, Harry Raymond's Resolve.

III. STRONG AND STEADY; or, Paddle your own Canoe.

 IV. STRIVE AND SUCCEED; or, The Progress of Walter Conrad.

_Price, $1.50 per volume._

SECOND SERIES.

  I. TRY AND TRUST; or, The Story of a Bound Boy.

 II. BOUND TO RISE; or, How Harry Walton rose in the World.

III. UP THE LADDER; or Harry Walton's Success, in Oct, '74.


_CAMPAIGN SERIES._

  I. FRANK'S CAMPAIGN.

 II. PAUL PRESCOTT'S CHARGE.

III. CHARLIE CODMAN'S CRUISE.

_Price, $1.25 per volume._

      *      *      *      *      *      *


[Illustration]


LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES.

by HORATIO ALGER, JR.

LUCK and PLUCK.



STRONG AND STEADY;

Or, Paddle Your Own Canoe.

by

HORATIO ALGER, JR.

Author of "Ragged Dick Series," "Tattered Tom Series," "Luck and
Pluck Series," "Campaign Series," etc.



Loring, Publisher,
Cor. Bromfield and Washington Streets,
Boston.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871,
by A. K. Loring,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Stereotyped and Printed by Rockwell & Churchill, Boston.



                      To
               MY YOUNG FRIENDS,
           WASHINGTON AND JEFFERSON,
_IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EMULATE THE VIRTUES
         OF THE DISTINGUISHED MEN WHOSE
               NAMES THEY BEAR_,
                 This Volume
          IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.



PREFACE.


"STRONG AND STEADY" is the third volume of the "Luck and Pluck Series."
Though the story is quite distinct from its predecessors, it is intended
to illustrate the same general principle. Walter Conrad, the hero, is
unexpectedly reduced from affluence to poverty, and compelled to fight
his own way in life. Undaunted by misfortune, he makes up his mind to
"paddle his own canoe," and, declining the offers of friends, sets to
work with a resolute will and persistent energy, which command success
in the end.

Hoping that Walter's adventures may prove of interest to his young
readers, and win the same favorable verdict which has been pronounced
upon his previous books, the author takes his leave for the present,
with many thanks for the generous welcome so often accorded to him.

OCTOBER 15, 1871.



CONTENTS

   CHAPTER                                    PAGE

        I. THE ESSEX CLASSICAL INSTITUTE.        9
       II. IN THE CARS.                         18
      III. AT HOME.                             28
       IV. JACOB DRUMMOND, OF STAPLETON.        33
        V. JACOB DRUMMOND—CONTINUED.            38
       VI. FUTURE PLANS.                        48
      VII. MR. DRUMMOND'S HUMBLE ROOF.          58
     VIII. WALTER MAKES A REVELATION.           68
       IX. HOW MR. DRUMMOND TOOK THE NEWS.      78
        X. MR. DRUMMOND'S STORE.                88
       XI. JOSHUA STIRS UP THE WRONG CUSTOMER.  98
      XII. AFTER THE BATTLE.                   108
     XIII. THE ARROW AND THE PIONEER.          117
      XIV. A BRILLIANT SCHEME.                 127
       XV. WAYS AND MEANS.                     137
      XVI. JOSHUA TRIES KEEPING STORE.         146
     XVII. JOSHUA'S DISAPPOINTMENT.            155
    XVIII. WALTER FINDS HIMSELF IN HOT WATER.  165
      XIX. THE TABLES ARE TURNED.              175
       XX. IN WHICH JOSHUA COMES TO GRIEF.     185
      XXI. A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.                 195
     XXII. MESSRS. FLINT AND PUSHER.           206
    XXIII. WALTER LOSES HIS MONEY.             216
     XXIV. SLIPPERY DICK.                      226
      XXV. A HARD CUSTOMER.                    236
     XXVI. BUSINESS EXPERIENCES.               246
    XXVII. A CABIN IN THE WOODS.               256
   XXVIII. STRANGE ACQUAINTANCES.              266
     XXIX. DANGER THREATENS.                   276
      XXX. THE ROBBER WALKS INTO A TRAP.       286
     XXXI. WALTER'S ESCAPE.                    296
    XXXII. A STRANGE HIDING-PLACE.             306
   XXXIII. WALTER SHOWS STRATEGY.              317
    XXXIV. DELIVERANCE.                        326
     XXXV. THE LAST OF JACK MANGUM.            335
    XXXVI. JOSHUA BIDS GOOD-BY TO STAPLETON.   345
   XXXVII. CONCLUSION.                         355



STRONG AND STEADY;

OR,

PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE.



CHAPTER I.

THE ESSEX CLASSICAL INSTITUTE.


"You've got a nice room here, Walter."

"Yes, you know I am to stay here two years, and I might as well be
comfortable."

"It's ever so much better than my room--twice as big, to begin with.
Then, my carpet looks as if it had come down through several
generations. I'll bet the old lady had it when she was first married. As
for a mirror, I've got a seven-by-nine looking-glass that I have to look
into twice before I can see my whole face. As for the bedstead, it
creaks so when I jump into it that I expect every night it'll fall to
pieces like the 'one hoss shay,' and spill me on the floor. Now your
room is splendidly furnished."

"Yes, it is now, but father furnished it at his own expense. He said he
was willing to lay out a little money to make me comfortable."

"That's more than my father said. He told me it wouldn't do me any harm
to rough it."

"I don't know but he is right," said Walter. "Of course I don't object
to the new carpet and furniture,"--and he looked with pleasure at the
handsome carpet with its bright tints, the black walnut bookcase with
its glass doors, and the tasteful chamber furniture,--"but I shouldn't
consider it any hardship if I had to rough it, as you call it."

"Wouldn't you? Then I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll change rooms. You
can go round and board at Mrs. Glenn's, and I'll come here. What do you
say?"

"I am not sure how my father would look on that arrangement," said
Walter, smiling.

"I thought you'd find some way out," said Lemuel. "For my part, I don't
believe you'd fancy roughing it any better than I."

"I don't know," said Walter; "I've sometimes thought I shouldn't be very
sorry to be a poor boy, and have to work my own way."

"That's very well to say, considering you are the son of a rich man."

"So are you."

"Yes, but I don't get the benefit of it, and you do. What would you do
now if you were a poor boy?"

"I can't say, of course, now, but I would go to work at something. I am
sure I could earn my own living."

"I suppose I could, but I shouldn't want to."

"You're lazy, Lem, that's what's the matter with you."

"I know I am," said Lemuel, good-naturedly. "Some people are born lazy,
don't you think so?"

"Perhaps you are right," answered Walter, with a smile. "Now suppose we
open our Cæsar."

"I suppose we might as well. Here's another speech. I wish those old
fellows hadn't been so fond of speech-making. I like the accounts of
battles well enough, but the speeches are a bother."

"I like to puzzle them out, Lem."

"So don't I. How much have we got for a lesson?"

"Two sections."

While the boys are at work reading these two sections, two-thirds of the
work being done by Walter, whose head is clearer and whose knowledge
greater than his companion's, a little explanation shall be given, in
order that we may better understand the position and prospects of the
two boys introduced.

Of Lemuel Warner, it need only be said that he was a pleasant-looking
boy of fourteen, the son of a prosperous merchant in New York. Walter
Conrad was from a small inland town, where his father was the wealthiest
and most prominent and influential citizen, having a handsome
mansion-house, surrounded by extensive grounds.

How rich he was, was a matter of conjecture; but he was generally rated
as high as two hundred thousand dollars. Mrs. Conrad had been dead for
five years, so that Walter, who was an only child, had no immediate
relation except his father. It was for this reason, perhaps, that he had
been sent to the Essex Classical Institute, of which we find him a
member at the opening of our story. Being a boy of talent, and well
grounded in Latin, he was easily able to take a high rank in his class.
Lemuel Warner had become his intimate friend, being in the same class,
but considerably inferior to him in scholarship. They usually got their
Latin lessons together, and it was owing to this circumstance that
Lemuel made a better figure in his recitations than before Walter became
a member of the school.

"There, that job's done," said Lemuel, closing his book with an air of
satisfaction. "Now we can rest."

"You forget the Latin exercise."

"Oh, bother the Latin exercise! I don't see what's the use of writing
Latin any way. English composition is hard enough. What's to be done?"

"You know the doctor expects each boy to write a letter in Latin,
addressed to his father, not less than twelve lines in length."

"It isn't to be sent home, is it? Mr. Warner senior, I reckon, would
stare a little when he got his. He wouldn't know Latin from Cherokee."

"Possibly your Latin won't differ much from Cherokee, Lem."

"What's the use of being sarcastic on a fellow, and hurting his
feelings?" said Lem, laughing in a way to show that his feelings were
not very seriously hurt. "I say, couldn't one crib a little from Cæsar?"

"Not very well, considering the doctor is slightly familiar with that
author."

"I wonder whether Cæsar used to write home to his father when he was at
boarding-school. If he did, I should like to get hold of some of his
letters."

"They would probably have to be altered considerably to adapt them to
the present time."

"Well, give me a sheet of paper and I'll begin."

The boys undertook their new task, and finished it by nine o'clock. I
should be glad to furnish a copy of Lemuel's letter, which was written
with brilliant disregard of grammatical rules; but unfortunately the
original, afterwards considerably revised in accordance with
suggestions from Walter, has not been preserved.

"I've a great mind to send my letter home, Walter," said Lemuel. "Father
expects me to write home every week, and this would save me some
trouble. Besides, he'd think I was getting on famously, to write home in
Latin."

"Yes, if he didn't find out the mistakes."

"That's the rub. He'd show it to the minister the first time he called,
and then my blunders would be detected. I guess I'd better wait till it
comes back from the doctor corrected."

"I expect to hear from home to-morrow," said Walter.

"Why to-morrow in particular? Do you generally get letters Thursday?"

"No, my letters generally come on Saturday, and I answer them Sunday.
But to-morrow is my birthday."

"Is it? Let me be the first to congratulate you. How venerable will you
be?"

"As venerable as most boys of fifteen, Lem."

"You're three months older than I am, then. Do you expect a present?"

"I haven't thought much about it, but I don't believe father will forget
me."

"Can't you guess what you are likely to get?"

"I can guess, but I may not be right. Father promised to give me a gold
watch-chain some time. You know I have a gold watch already."

"Yes, and a regular little beauty."

"So it wouldn't surprise me much to get a chain for a present."

"You're a lucky boy. My watch is silver, and only cost twenty dollars."

"I dare say I should be just as happy with a silver watch, Lem."

"I suppose you wouldn't like to buy, would you? If so, I'll give you the
chance. A fair exchange is no robbery."

"No, I suppose not; but it wouldn't do to exchange a gift."

"Perhaps, if my watch were gold and yours silver, you wouldn't have any
objections."

"I don't think that would alter the case with me. A gift is a gift,
whether it is more or less valuable."

"How long have you had your watch, Walter?"

"Ever since my thirteenth birthday."

"I have had mine a year. I broke the crystal and one of the hands the
very first day."

"That was pretty hard usage, Lem."

"The watch had a pretty good constitution, so it has survived to the
present day. But I'm getting sleepy, Walter. It's the hard study, I
suppose, that's done it. I must be getting back to Ma'am Glenn's.
Good-night."

"Good-night, Lem."

Lemuel Warner gathered up his books, and left the room. Walter poked the
fire, putting some ashes on, so that it would keep till the next
morning, and commenced undressing. He had scarcely commenced, however,
when a heavy step was heard on the stairs, and directly afterwards a
knock resounded upon his door.

Wondering who his late visitor could be, Walter stepped to the door, and
opened it.



CHAPTER II.

IN THE CARS.


If Walter was surprised at receiving a visit at so late an hour, he was
still more surprised to recognize in the visitor Dr. Porter, the
principal of the Institute.

"Good-evening, Conrad," said the doctor. "I am rather a late visitor. I
was not sure but you might be in bed."

"I was just getting ready to go to bed, sir. Won't you walk in?"

"I will come in for five minutes only."

"Take the rocking-chair, sir."

All the while Walter was wondering what could be the doctor's object in
calling. He was not conscious of having violated any of the regulations
of the Institute, and even had he done so, it would be unusual for the
principal to call upon him at such an hour. So he watched the doctor
with a puzzled glance, and waited to hear him state his errand.

"Have you heard from home lately, Conrad?" asked the doctor.

"Yes, sir, I received a letter a few days since."

"Did your father speak of being unwell?"

"No, sir," said Walter, taking instant alarm. "Have--have you heard
anything?"

"Yes, my boy; and that is my reason for calling upon you at this unusual
hour. I received this telegram twenty minutes since."

Walter took the telegram, with trembling fingers, and read the following
message:--


     "DR. PORTER:--Please send Walter Conrad home by the first train.
     His father is very sick.

     "NANCY FORBES."


"Do you think there is any danger, Dr. Porter?" asked Walter, with a
pale face.

"I cannot tell, my boy; this telegram furnishes all the information I
possess. Who is Nancy Forbes?"

"She is the house-keeper. I can't realize that father is so sick. He
did not say anything about it when he wrote."

"Let us hope it is only a brief sickness. I think you had better go home
by the first train to-morrow morning."

"Yes, sir."

"I believe it starts at half-past seven."

"I shall be ready, sir."

"By the way, are you provided with sufficient money to pay your railway
fare? If not, I will advance you the necessary sum."

"Thank you, sir, I have five dollars by me, and that will be more than
sufficient."

"Then I believe I need not stay any longer," and the doctor rose.

"Don't think too much of your father's sickness, but try to get a good
night's sleep. I hope we shall soon have you coming back with good
news."

The principal shook hands with Walter and withdrew.

When his tall form had vanished, Walter sat down and tried to realize
the fact of his father's sickness; but this he found difficult.

Mr. Conrad had never been sick within his remembrance, and the thought
that he might become so had never occurred to Walter. Besides, the
telegram spoke of him as _very_ sick. Could there be danger?

That was a point which he could not decide, and all that remained was to
go to bed. It was a long time before he got to sleep, but at length he
did sleep, waking in time only for a hasty preparation for the homeward
journey. He was so occupied with thoughts of his father that it was not
till the journey was half finished, that it occurred to him that this
was his fifteenth birthday, to which he had been looking forward for
some time.

The seat in front of our hero was for some time vacant; but at the
Woodville station two gentlemen got in who commenced an animated
conversation. Walter did not at first pay any attention to it. He was
looking out of the window listlessly, unable to fix his mind upon
anything except his father's sickness. But at length his attention was
caught by some remarks, made by one of the gentlemen in front, and from
this point he listened languidly.

"I suspected him to be a swindler when he first came to me," said the
gentleman sitting next the window. "He hadn't an honest look, and I was
determined not to have anything to do with his scheme."

"He was very plausible."

"Yes, he made everything look right on paper. That is easy enough. But
mining companies are risky things always. I once got taken in to the
tune of five thousand dollars, but it taught me a lesson. So I was not
particularly impressed with the brilliant prospectus of the Great
Metropolitan Mining Company, in spite of its high-sounding name, and its
promised dividend of thirty per cent. Depend upon it, James Wall and his
confederates will pocket all the dividends that are made."

"Very likely you are right. But it may be that Wall really believed
there is a good chance of making money."

"Of course he did, but he was determined to make the money for himself,
and not for the stockholders."

"I might have been tempted to invest, but all my money was locked up at
the time, and I could not have done so without borrowing the money, and
that I was resolved not to do."

"It was fortunate for you that you didn't, for the bubble has already
burst."

"Is it possible? I was not aware of that."

"I thought you knew it. The news is in this morning's paper. There will
be many losers. By the way, I hear that Mr. Conrad, of Willoughby, was
largely interested."

"Then, of course, he is a heavy loser. Can he stand it?"

"I am in doubt on that point. He is a rich man, but for all that he may
have gone in beyond his means."

"I am sorry for him, but that was reckless."

"Yes, he was completely taken in by Wall. He's a smooth fellow."

Walter had listened with languid attention; still, however, gathering
the meaning of what was said until the mention of his father's name
roused him, and then he listened eagerly, and with a sudden quickening
of the pulse. He instantly connected the idea of what he had heard with
his father's sudden illness, and naturally associated the two together.

"My father has heard of the failure of the company, and that has made
him sick," he thought.

Though this implied a double misfortune, it relieved his anxiety a
little. It supplied a cause for his father's illness. He had been afraid
that his father had met with some accident, perhaps of a fatal nature.
But if he had become ill in consequence of heavy losses, it was not
likely that the illness was a very severe one.

He thought of speaking to the gentlemen, and making some further
inquiries about the Mining Company and Mr. James Wall, but it occurred
to him that his father might not like to have him pry into his affairs,
and he therefore refrained.

When the gentlemen left the cars, he saw one of them had left a morning
paper lying in the seat. He picked it up, and examined the columns until
his eyes fell upon the following paragraph:--

"The failure of the Great Metropolitan Mining Company proves to be a
disastrous one. The assets will not be sufficient to pay more than five
per cent. of the amount of the sums invested by the stockholders,
possibly not that. There must have been gross mismanagement somewhere,
or such a result could hardly have been reached. We understand that the
affairs of the company are in the hands of assignees who are empowered
to wind them up. The stockholders in this vicinity will await the result
with anxiety."

"That looks rather discouraging, to be sure," thought Walter. "I suppose
father will lose a good deal. But I'll tell him he needn't worry about
me. I shan't mind being poor, even if it comes to that. As long as he is
left to me, I won't complain."

Walter became comparatively cheerful. He felt convinced that loss of
property was all that was to be apprehended, and with the elastic
spirits of youth he easily reconciled himself to that. He had never had
occasion to think much about money. All his wants had been provided for
with a lavish hand. He had, of course, seen poor people, but he did not
realize what poverty meant. He had even thought at times that it must be
rather a pleasant thing to earn one's own living. Still he did not
apprehend that he would have to do this. His father might have lost
heavily, but probably not to such an extent as to render this necessary.

So the time passed until, about half-past eleven o'clock, the cars
stopped at Willoughby station.

The station was in rather a lonely spot,--that is, no houses were very
near. Walter did not stop to speak to anybody, but, on leaving the cars,
carpet-bag in hand, jumped over a fence, and took his way across the
fields to his father's house. By the road it would have been a mile, but
it was scarcely more than half a mile by the foot-path.

So it happened that he reached home without meeting a single person. He
went up the door-way to the front door and rang the bell.

The door was opened by Nancy Forbes, the house-keeper, whose name was
appended to the telegram.

"So it's you, Master Walter," she said. "I am glad you are home, but
it's a sad home you're come to."

"Is father _very_ sick, then?" asked Walter, turning pale.

"Didn't anybody tell you, then?"

"Tell me what?"

"My dear child, your father died at eight o'clock this morning."



CHAPTER III.

AT HOME.


It was a terrible shock to Walter,--this sudden announcement of his
father's death. When he had left home, Mr. Conrad seemed in his usual
health, and he could not realize that he was dead. The news stunned him,
and he stood, pale and motionless, looking into the house-keeper's face.

"Come in, Master Walter, come in, and have a cup of hot tea. It'll make
you feel better."

A cup of hot tea was Nancy's invariable remedy for all troubles,
physical or mental.

"Tell me about it, Nancy; I--I can't think it's true. It's so sudden."

"That's the way I feel too, Master Walter. And only yesterday morning,
too, he looked just as usual. Little did I think what was to be."

"When was he first taken sick?"

Walter had seated himself on a chair in the hall, and waited anxiously
for an answer.

"I didn't notice nothing till last night just after supper. Richard went
to the post-office and got your father's letters. When they came he took
'em into the library, and began to read them. There was three, I
remember. It was about an hour before I went into the room to tell him
the carpenter had called about repairing the carriage-house. When I came
in, there lay your poor father on the carpet, senseless. He held a
letter tight in his hand. I screamed for help. Mr. Brier, the carpenter,
and Richard came in and helped me to lift up your poor father, and we
sent right off for the doctor."

"What did the doctor say?"

"He said it was a paralytic stroke,--a very bad one,--and ordered him to
be put to bed directly. But it was of no use. He never recovered, but
breathed his last this morning at eight o'clock. The doctor told me I
must telegraph to your teacher; and so I did."

"Nancy, have you got that letter which my father was reading?"

"Yes, Master Walter, I put it in my pocket without reading. I think
there must have been bad news in it."

She drew from her pocket a letter, which she placed in Walter's hands.
He read it hastily, and it confirmed his suspicions. It was from a
lawyer Mr. Conrad had asked to make inquiries respecting the Great
Metropolitan Mining Company, and was as follows:--


     "WILLIAM CONRAD, ESQ.

     "Dear Sir:--I have, at your request, taken pains to inform myself
     of the present management and condition of the Great Metropolitan
     Mining Company. The task has been less difficult than I
     anticipated, since the failure of the company has just been made
     public. The management has been in the hands of dishonest and
     unscrupulous men, and it is doubtful whether the stockholders will
     be able to recover anything.

     "Hoping you are not largely interested, I remain,

     "Yours, very respectfully,
     "ANDREW HOLMES."


Walter re-folded the letter, and put it into his pocket. He felt that
this letter had cost his father his life, and in the midst of his grief
he could not help thinking bitterly of the unscrupulous man who had led
his father to ruin. Had it been merely the loss of property, he could
have forgiven him, but he had been deprived of the kindest and most
indulgent of fathers.

"I should like to see my father," he said.

We will not accompany him into the dark chamber where his father lay,
unobservant, for the first time, of his presence. Such a scene is too
sacred to be described.

An hour later he came out of the chamber, pale but composed. He seemed
older and more thoughtful than when he entered. A great and sudden
sorrow often has this effect upon the young.

"Nancy," he said, "have any arrangements been made about the funeral?"

"No, Walter, we waited till you came. Mr. Edson will be here in a few
minutes, and you can speak with him about it."

Mr. Edson, though not a professional undertaker, usually acted as such
whenever there was occasion for his services. When he arrived, Walter
requested him to take entire charge of the funeral.

"Are there any directions you would like to give, Walter?" asked Mr.
Edson, who, like most of the villagers, had known Walter from his birth.

"No, Mr. Edson, I leave all to you."

"What relations are there to be invited?"

"My father had no near relatives. There is a cousin, Jacob Drummond, who
lives in Stapleton. It will be necessary to let him know."

"Would a letter reach him in time?"

"It will be best to telegraph. Stapleton is forty miles distant, and it
is doubtful if a letter would reach there in time."

"If you will write the telegram, Walter, I'll see that it's sent right
off."

"I won't trouble you, Mr. Edson; you will have enough to attend to, and
I can send Richard to the telegraph office, or go myself. I shall feel
better for the exercise."

"Very well, Walter, I will do whatever else is necessary."



CHAPTER IV.

JACOB DRUMMOND, OF STAPLETON.


Jacob Drummond kept a dry-goods store in the village of Stapleton. As
the village was of considerable size, and he had no competitors, he
drove a flourishing trade, and had already acquired quite a comfortable
property. In fact, even had he been less favorably situated, he was
pretty sure to thrive. He knew how to save money better, even, than to
earn it, being considered, and with justice, a very mean man. He carried
his meanness not only into his business, but into his household, and
there was not a poor mechanic in Stapleton, and scarcely a poor laborer,
who did not live better than Mr. Drummond, who was the rich man of the
place.

No one, to look at Jacob Drummond, would have been likely to mistake his
character. All the lines of his face, the expression of his thin lips,
his cold gray eyes, all bespoke his meanness. Poor Mrs. Drummond, his
wife, could have testified to it, had she dared; but in this house, at
least, the husband was master, and she dared not express the opinions
she secretly entertained of the man to whom she was bound for life.

At five o'clock on the afternoon of the day after Mr. Conrad's death,
Mr. Drummond entered the house, which was on the opposite side of the
street from the store.

This was the supper hour, and supper was ready upon the table.

A single glance was sufficient to show that Mr. Drummond was not a man
to indulge in luxurious living. There was a plate of white bread, cut in
thin slices, a small plate of butter, half a pie, and a plate of cake. A
small pitcher of milk, a bowl of coarse brown sugar, and a pot of the
cheapest kind of tea completed the preparations for the evening meal.
Certainly there was nothing extravagant about these preparations; but
Mr. Drummond thought otherwise. His attention was at once drawn to the
cake, and instantly a frown gathered upon his face.

"Are we going to have company to-night, Mrs. Drummond?" he asked.

"Not that I know of," answered his wife, in some surprise.

"Then why is it that you have put both pie and cake on the table?"

"There was only half a pie, Mr. Drummond," said she, nervously.

"Well, there are but three of us. You can get three good-sized pieces
from half a pie. That will be one for each of us. What would you have
more?"

"The cake is a cheap kind."

"No cake is cheap, Mrs. Drummond. I take it you used eggs, butter, and
sugar in making it."

"Yes, but--"

"No buts, if you please, Mrs. Drummond. You are probably not aware that
all these articles are very dear at present. Until they get lower we
need not have cake, except when company is present."

That being the case, Mr. Drummond was not likely to be put to much
expense on this score. They seldom had company, and those who came once
were not anxious to come again. For even on such occasions Mr. Drummond
could not forget his ruling principle. The overflowing hospitality which
even in the humblest village households crowns the board with plenty
when visitors are present, was never to be found there; and, besides,
the visitors could not help having an uneasy suspicion that their host
grudged them the niggardly entertainment he did provide. So for three
years the Stapleton Sewing Circle had met but once at the Drummonds',
and there was no immediate prospect of their meeting there for another
three years.

It may be supposed that Mr. Drummond was not fond of good eating. This,
however, would be quite a mistake. When he dined or took tea out, he
always did full justice to the different dainties which were provided,
and quite seemed to enjoy them as long as they were furnished at the
expense of another.

"Take away the cake, if you please, Mrs. Drummond," continued her
husband. "You can save it for Sunday evening."

"I am afraid it will be dried up by that time."

"If it is dry, you can steam it."

"That spoils cake."

"You seem very contrary to-night, Mrs. Drummond. I have continually to
check you in your extravagant tastes. Cake and pie, indeed! If you had
your way, you would double my household expenses."

Mrs. Drummond rose from the table, and meekly removed the offending
cake.

Just then the third and only other member of the family entered.

This was Joshua Drummond, the only son, now eighteen years of age,
though he looked scarcely more than sixteen. He inherited his father's
meanness, but not his frugality. He was more self-indulgent, and, though
he grudged spending money for others, was perfectly ready to spend as
much as he could get hold of for himself.



CHAPTER V.

JACOB DRUMMOND--CONTINUED.


Over Joshua Mr. Drummond had less control than over his wife. The latter
gave way meekly to his unreasonable requisitions; but Joshua did not
hesitate to make opposition, being as selfish and self-willed as his
father, for whom he entertained neither respect nor affection.

Joshua looked around him disdainfully.

"Is this Fast Day?" he asked.

"You know very well that Fast Day comes in April," said his father.

"I only judged from the looks of the table," said Joshua, not very
respectfully. "You don't mean that we shall any of us suffer from the
gout."

"Bread and butter and pie are good enough for anybody," said Mr.
Drummond, stiffly.

"I don't see any pie. Excuse me, there is a little,--so little that I
did not at first see it."

This was too much for Mr. Drummond's temper.

"Unmannerly boy!" he exclaimed; "if you are dissatisfied with the fare
you get at home, you can engage board elsewhere."

"I would like to," muttered Joshua, in a low voice, which his father
chose not to hear.

In silence he helped himself to bread and butter, and in due time
accepted a piece of pie, which Mrs. Drummond made larger at the expense
of her own share.

Harmony thus being restored, Mr. Drummond remarked, "I've had a telegram
to-day from Willoughby."

"From Willoughby?" repeated his wife. "Isn't that where your cousin
William Conrad lives?"

"He doesn't live there any longer. He's dead."

"Dead! When did he die?"

"I don't know. Yesterday, I suppose. The funeral is to be day after
to-morrow."

"Shall you go?"

"Yes. It will cost me considerable; as much as five dollars or more; but
he was my cousin, and it is my duty to go," said Mr. Drummond, with the
air of a man who was making a great sacrifice.

"He was rich, wasn't he?" asked Joshua, becoming interested.

"Probably worth a hundred thousand dollars," said his father,
complacently.

"I should think he might have left me something," said Joshua.

"He never saw you, Joshua," said his mother.

"Joshua stands a better chance of getting a legacy from one who doesn't
know him, than from one who does," said Mr. Drummond, with grim
pleasantry.

"He leaves children, doesn't he, Mr. Drummond?"

"One child--a boy. Let me see, he must be fifteen by this time."

"And his mother isn't living?"

"No."

"Poor boy!"

"He'll be a rich boy, Mrs. Drummond, and I'll tell you what, I shouldn't
wonder if we had a good chance to know him."

"How so?"

"It's likely I will be appointed his guardian. I'm the nearest relative,
so that will be the most proper course."

"Will he come here, then?" asked Joshua.

"Very probably."

"Then I hope you'll live better, or he won't stand it."

"When I require any advice from you, Joshua, I will apply for it," said
his father.

Joshua inwardly hoped that his father would be appointed guardian, as it
might make a difference in the family living; and, besides, if his
cousin were rich, he meant to wheedle himself into his confidence, in
the hope of future advantage.

"When shall you set out?" asked Mrs. Drummond.

"To-morrow morning, I think," said her husband. "It will be hard to
leave, but it's due to my cousin's memory."

Mr. Drummond had become very punctilious all at once, considering that
for the last dozen years Mr. Conrad, who had by no means admired him,
had had little or no communication with him. But then he had died rich,
and who knows what sort of a will he had left? At any rate, Jacob began
to feel a strong interest in him now. He might have put off going to
Willoughby till the morning train on the day of the funeral, for two
o'clock was the hour fixed for the last ceremony; but he was in a hurry
to learn all he could about the property, and secure, if possible, the
guardianship for himself. This was the secret of his willingness to
sacrifice time and money out of regard to his cousin's memory. The next
day, therefore, he started, taking with him in his valise a lunch of
bread and meat tied up in a piece of brown paper. He didn't intend to
spend any more money than was absolutely necessary on tavern bills.

Shortly after his arrival, he called at the house of mourning.

"I am Jacob Drummond, of Stapleton, the cousin of the deceased," he
explained to Nancy, who opened the door to admit him. "Is my young
relative, Mr. Conrad's son, at home?"

"Yes, sir," said Nancy, taking an inventory of his features, and
deciding that he was a very disagreeable looking man.

"Will you mention my name to him, and say that I should like to see
him?"

Mr. Drummond was ushered into the parlor, where he had a little chance
to look around him before Walter appeared.

"It's all nonsense wasting so much money on furniture," he mentally
ejaculated. "The money spent is a dead loss when it might be drawing
handsome interest."

Walter did not long keep him waiting.

Mr. Drummond rose at his entrance.

"I suppose you don't know me," he said; "but I was your father's nearest
living relation."

"Mr. Drummond, I believe."

"Yes, Jacob Drummond, of Stapleton. You have probably heard your father
speak of me?"

"Yes, sir," said Walter.

"I came as soon as I could after getting the telegram. I left my
business to take care of itself. I wanted to offer you my sympathy on
your sad loss."

Mr. Drummond's words were kind, though the reference to his sacrifice
in leaving his business might have been as well left out. Still Walter
could not feel as grateful as he wanted to do. Somehow he didn't fancy
Mr. Drummond.

"You are very kind," he said.

"I mean to be. You know I'm your nearest relation now. I truly feel for
you in your desolate condition, and though it may not be the right time
to say it, I must tell you that I hope, when the funeral is over, you
will accompany me home, and share our humble hospitality. Mrs. Drummond
joins with me in the invitation."

Mrs. Drummond had not been consulted in the matter, but her husband
thought it would sound well to say so.

"I have not had time to think of future arrangements," said Walter; "but
I thank you for your invitation."

Walter did not know the motives which induced Mr. Drummond to extend
this invitation, but supposed it to be meant in kindness, and so
acknowledged it.

"My son Joshua, too," said Mr. Drummond, "is longing to make your
acquaintance. He is older than you, but not much larger. How old are
you?"

"I am fifteen."

"You are well grown of your age; Joshua is eighteen, but he will make a
very pleasant companion for you. Let me hope that you will accept my
invitation."

"Thank you, Mr. Drummond; I will consult my friends about it."

"I wonder how much board I could venture to ask," thought Mr. Drummond.
"If I am his guardian, I can fix that to suit myself. A hundred thousand
dollars would make me a rich man. That is, I could make money from it,
without injuring the boy."

Mr. Drummond asked a few more questions about Mr. Conrad's sickness and
death. Walter answered them, but did not think it necessary to speak of
his losses by the Mining Company. Mr. Drummond was a stranger, and not a
man to inspire confidence. So Walter told as little as he could. At
length the visitor, having exhausted inquiries, rose.

"I shall be here to-morrow," he said. "I am stopping at the tavern. I
shall return to Stapleton after the ceremony. I hope you will make up
your mind to go back with me."

"I could not be ready so soon," answered Walter, doubtfully.

"I can wait till the next day."

"That will not be necessary, Mr. Drummond. I shall have no difficulty in
making the journey alone, if I conclude to accept your kind invitation."

Mr. Drummond shook our hero's hand sympathetically, and at length
withdrew. As he went down the avenue, he took a backward glance at the
handsome mansion in which his cousin had lived.

"That boy owns all that property," he said, half enviously, "and never
worked a day for it. I've had to work for all my money. But it was
foolish to spend so much money on a house. A third the sum would have
built a comfortable house, and the rest might have been put at interest.
If it turns out that I am the boy's guardian, I think I shall sell it.
That'll be the best course."

With these reflections Mr. Drummond pursued his way back to the village
tavern, where he had taken the precaution to ascertain that he should
be charged but a dollar and a quarter a day. He considered that a dollar
would have been sufficient, but still it was proper to make some
sacrifice to his cousin's memory. Mr. Conrad's mining speculation was
not generally known in the village as yet, so that Mr. Drummond did not
hear a word as to his loss of property.



CHAPTER VI.

FUTURE PLANS.


The funeral was over. Mr. Drummond, as indeed his relationship
permitted, was one of the principal mourners. Considering that he had
not seen Mr. Conrad for five years preceding his death, nor during that
time communicated with him in any way, he appeared to be very much
overcome by grief. He kept his eyes covered with a large white
handkerchief, and his movements indicated suppressed agitation. He felt
that this was a tribute due to a cousin who had left over one hundred
thousand dollars.

When they had returned from the grave, Mr. Drummond managed to have a
word with Walter.

"Have you decided to accept my offer, and make your home beneath my
humble roof?" he asked.

"There has been no time to consult with my friends here, Mr. Drummond. I
will let you know next week. I thank you at any rate for your
kindness."

"Do come, Walter," said his cousin, twisting his mean features into an
affectionate smile. "With you beneath my humble roof, I shall want
nothing to complete my happiness."

Walter thanked him again, wondering at the same time why Mr. Drummond's
kindness did not affect him more sensibly.

So Jacob Drummond went back to Stapleton, still ignorant of the state of
Mr. Conrad's affairs, and still regarding Walter as a boy of great
wealth.

When the will was opened it was found to bear date two years back,
before Mr. Conrad had plunged into the speculation which had proved so
disastrous to him. He bequeathed all the property which he did possess
to Walter, with the exception of five hundred dollars, which were left
as a legacy to his faithful house-keeper, Nancy Forbes. At the time the
will was made, its provisions made Walter heir to a large fortune. Now
it was quite uncertain how things would turn out. Clement Shaw, the
village lawyer, an honest and upright man, was made executor, being an
old and tried friend of the deceased.

With him Walter had a long and confidential conversation, imparting to
him what he knew of his father's mining speculation and its disastrous
result, with its probable effect in accelerating his death.

"I knew something of this before, Walter," said Mr. Shaw. "Your father
spoke to me of being largely interested in the Great Metropolitan Mining
Company; but of the company itself and the extent to which he was
involved I knew nothing."

"I think my father must have been very seriously involved," said Walter.
"It may, perhaps, swallow up the whole property."

"Let us hope not. Indeed, I can hardly believe that your father would
have ventured in so deep as that."

"He had every confidence in the company; he thought he was going to
double his money. If only a part of his property was threatened, I don't
think it would have had such an effect upon him."

"I will thoroughly examine into the affair," said Mr. Shaw. "Meanwhile,
Walter, hope for the best! It can hardly be that the whole property is
lost. Do not be too anxious."

"Do not fear for me on that account," said Walter. "I always looked
forward to being rich, it is true, but I can bear poverty. If the worst
comes, and I am penniless, I am strong, and can work. I can get along as
well as thousands of other boys, who have to support themselves."

Walter did not speak boastfully, but in a calm, confident way, that
argued a consciousness of power.

"Yes," said the lawyer, regarding him attentively, "I think you are
right there. You are just the boy who can make his own way; but I hope
you will not be obliged to do so."

"There is one thing I want to say, Mr. Shaw," said Walter, "and that is
about the money my father leaves in his will to Nancy."

"The circumstances were different. She will not expect it now; that is,
of course, unless things turn out more favorably than we fear."

"That is not what I mean. Nancy must have the money, if there is so much
left after settling the estate."

"But suppose only five hundred dollars are left? Of course I hope it
will be much more, but we must think of all contingencies."

"If only five hundred dollars are left, let Nancy have them."

"But, Walter, consider yourself."

"I am young and strong. Nancy has spent her best years in my father's
service, and she is no longer young. It is right that she should have
some provision. Besides, my father meant her to have it, and I want to
carry out his wishes."

"This is all very generous, Walter; but I am afraid it is inconsiderate.
It would not be your father's wish to provide even for Nancy, however
faithful she may have been, at the expense of his son."

"It is right," said Walter. "Besides, Mr. Shaw, I find that Nancy had
laid up six hundred dollars, which she had deposited in my father's
hands. That also must be paid, if there is enough to pay it; if not, I
will take it upon myself to pay whenever I am able."

"You're an excellent boy, Walter," said Mr. Shaw. "I always had a good
opinion of you, and I find it is more than deserved. I honor you for the
resolution you have expressed, though I cannot quite agree with you
about the five hundred dollars. As to the debt, that must be paid, if
there is money enough to pay it. But we can leave the further discussion
of this question for the present. Now let us consider what is to become
of you in the mean time. You were at the Essex Classical Institute, I
believe?"

"Yes, sir."

"You would like to go back again, I suppose."

"No, Mr. Shaw. It is an expensive school, and while it is uncertain how
my father's affairs will come out, I should not feel justified in going
there."

"Perhaps you are right. Of course you cannot stay here, and keep house
by yourself. I would invite you to my own house, but my wife is an
invalid, and I have to consider her in the matter."

"Thank you, Mr. Shaw; but I think perhaps I had better accept the offer
of Mr. Drummond, of Stapleton. He invites me to make my home at his
house, and, for the present, perhaps, that will be the best
arrangement."

"I am not acquainted with Mr. Drummond. He is a relation, I believe."

"Yes, he is my father's cousin, and so, of course, my second cousin."

"I think I saw him at the funeral."

"Yes, he was present."

Mr. Shaw had seen Jacob Drummond, and had not been very favorably
impressed by his appearance. Still, his offer was not one to be hastily
rejected, for no better reason than a little prejudice, which might
prove unfounded. Accordingly he said, "Well, Walter, as you say, I am
not sure whether this may not be the best arrangement for you, that is,
for the present. If you don't like to stay at Stapleton, you can write
me, and I will see what I can do for you."

"Thank you, Mr. Shaw."

Nancy was much troubled at the thought of parting from Walter, whom she
had known from his infancy; but a situation was immediately offered her
in the village, and Walter promised to take her as his house-keeper
whenever he had a home of his own, and this comforted her, although it
was likely to be a long time first, since our hero was at present but
fifteen.

"Your six hundred dollars shall be paid, Nancy," said Walter, "as soon
as father's affairs are settled."

"Don't bother yourself about that, Master Walter," said Nancy. "I've got
fifty dollars in my trunk, and I don't need the other at all. I can wait
for it five years."

"It won't be necessary to wait as long as that, Nancy."

"And so you are going to that Mr. Drummond's? I'm sorry for it. I don't
like the man's looks at all."

"He may be a good man. He was kind to invite me."

"He isn't a good man," said Nancy, positively. "He's got a mean sort of
look to his face."

"You mustn't try to prejudice me before I go to him, Nancy."

"You'll think as I do before you've been there a week," said Nancy,
shaking her head. "I took a good look at him when he was here, and I
didn't like his looks."

"He isn't very handsome," said Walter, smiling; "but everybody can't be
handsome."

Secretly he did not wonder much at Nancy's prejudice. Mr. Drummond
certainly was a mean-looking man. How he could be so nearly related to
his father, who was a generous, open-handed, and open-hearted man, was
surprising. Still Walter was just enough to reserve his judgment until
his opportunities of judging were greater than at present.

He wrote a brief letter to Stapleton, to the following effect:--


     "MR. DRUMMOND:--

     "Dear Sir:--I will accept the invitation you were kind enough to
     extend to me, for the present, at least, and will come to Stapleton
     about the middle of next week. You are the only relation of my
     father that I know of, and I think it would be his wish that I
     should go to you. If it should be inconvenient for you to receive
     me at that time, please write me at once.

     "Yours, respectfully,
     "WALTER CONRAD."


In return, Walter received a letter couched in the most cordial terms,
in which Mr. Drummond signed himself, "Your affectionate cousin." He was
delighted, he said, to think that he was about to receive, under his
humble roof, the son of his revered and lamented cousin.



CHAPTER VII.

MR. DRUMMOND'S HUMBLE ROOF.


"Mrs. Drummond," said her husband, "young Mr. Conrad will be here by
four o'clock this afternoon. You will have a nice supper ready at five."

"Shall I have cake and pie both?" inquired Mrs. Drummond, doubtfully.

"Certainly. Indeed, it may be as well to have two kinds of pie, say
apple and pumpkin; and, as we have not had hot biscuit for some time,
you may bake some."

Mrs. Drummond looked at her husband as if she had doubts as to his
sanity. Such a luxurious meal was quite unheard of in the Drummond
household.

"Cake, two kinds of pie, and hot biscuit!" she repeated.

"Yes," he replied. "I am not in general in favor of such extra living,
but it is well to pay some respect to the memory of my deceased kinsman
in the person of his son. Being the son of a rich man, he has been
accustomed to rich living, and I wish him, on his advent into our
family, to feel at home."

Mrs. Drummond prepared to obey her husband's directions with alacrity.

"Joshua will get a good supper for once," she thought, thinking more of
her son than of the stranger who was to enter the family. "How surprised
he will be to see such a variety on the table!"

Not that Joshua was strictly confined to the spare diet of his father's
table. Through his mother's connivance there was generally an extra
piece of pie or cake in the pantry laid aside for him. Had Mr. Drummond
suspected this, he would have been very angry; but, being at the store
the greater portion of the time, he was not aware of the extra
indulgence.

Mr. Drummond himself met Walter at the depot.

"I am delighted to welcome you to Stapleton, my young friend," he said,
shaking his hand cordially. "In the affliction which has come upon you,
let me hope that you will find a haven of rest beneath my humble roof."

"I wonder why he always speaks of his 'humble roof,'" thought Walter.
"Does he live in a shanty, I wonder?"

He made suitable acknowledgments, and proceeded to walk beside Mr.
Drummond to the house which he termed humble.

It did not deserve that name, being a substantial two-story house,
rather ugly architecturally, but comfortable enough in appearance.

"That is my humble dwelling," said Mr. Drummond, pointing it out. "It is
not equal to the splendid mansion in which you have been accustomed to
live, for my worldly circumstances differ widely from those of your late
lamented parent; but I trust that in our humble way we shall be enabled
to make you comfortable."

"Thank you, Mr. Drummond; I have no doubt of that. Your house looks very
comfortable."

"Yes, it is plain and humble, but comfortable. We are plain people. We
are not surrounded by the appliances of wealth, but we manage, in our
humble way, to get through life. That is my son Joshua, who is looking
out of the front window. I hope you may become good friends,
considering how nearly you are related."

Walter raised his eyes, and saw Joshua, whose small, mean features,
closely resembling his father's, expressed considerable curiosity.
Walter secretly doubted whether he should like him; but this doubt he
kept to himself.

Mr. Drummond opened the outer door, and led the way in.

"This is my wife, Mrs. Drummond," he said, as she approached, and kindly
welcomed the young stranger.

"I think I shall like her," thought Walter, suffering his glance to rest
for a moment on her mild, placid features; "she is evidently quite
superior to her husband."

"Joshua, come here and welcome Mr. Conrad," said his father.

Joshua came forward awkwardly, and held out his hand with the stiffness
of a pump-handle.

"How dy do?" he said. "Just come?"

"Yes," said Walter, accepting the hand, and shaking it slightly.

"Are you tired with your journey, Mr. Conrad?" asked Mrs. Drummond.
"Perhaps you would like to be shown to your room."

"Thank you," said Walter. "I will go up for a few minutes."

"Where are you going to put our young friend, Mrs. Drummond?"

"In the spare chamber."

"That is right. You will find some difference, Mr. Conrad, between our
humble accommodations and the sumptuous elegance of your own home; but
we will try and make it up by a hearty welcome."

"I wish he wouldn't use the word _humble_ so much," thought Walter.

Walter went upstairs, preceded by Mr. Drummond, who insisted on carrying
his carpet-bag, for his trunk would not arrive till the next day, having
been forwarded by express.

"I say, mother," remarked Joshua, "the old man's awfully polite to this
young fellow."

"You shouldn't speak of your father in that way, Joshua."

"Oh, what's the odds? He is an old man, isn't he? I just wish he'd be
as polite to me. I say, I hope he'll like his boarding-place. What are
you going to have for supper?"

"Hot biscuit, cake, and two kinds of pie."

"Whew! won't the old man look like a thundercloud?"

"That's what he told me to get. You do your father injustice, Joshua."

Mrs. Drummond knew in her secret heart that her husband was intensely
mean; but she was one of those who like to think as well as possible of
every one, and was glad of an opportunity to prove that he could, on
rare occasions, be more generous.

"Father's brain must be softening," said Joshua, after recovering in a
measure from his astonishment. "I hope it will be permanent. Isn't
supper most ready?"

"At five o'clock, Joshua."

"This young chap's got a lot of money, I suppose, and the governor's
after some of it. That explains the matter."

"I wish you wouldn't speak so disrespectfully of your father, Joshua."

"I won't if he'll keep on as he's begun. I'm glad this young Conrad has
come to board here. I'm going to get thick with him."

"He seems like a very nice boy," said Mrs. Drummond.

"I don't care what sort of a boy he is, as long as he's got the tin. I'm
going to make him treat."

"You must be considerate of his feelings, Joshua. Remember that he has
just lost his father."

"Suppose he has, there's no need of looking glum about it."

Had Jacob Drummond died, Joshua would have borne the loss with the
greatest fortitude. Of that there was no doubt. Indeed, he would rather
have hailed the event with joy, if, as he expressed it, the "old man did
the right thing," and left him the bulk of his property. Though such
feelings did not do Joshua much credit, it must be said in extenuation
that his father was far from being a man to inspire affection in any
one, however nearly related.

At five o'clock they sat down to supper.

"I hope, Mr. Conrad," said Jacob, "you will be able to relish our humble
repast."

"Humble again!" thought Walter. He was about to say that everything
looked very nice, when Joshua broke in.

"If you call this humble, I don't know what you'd say to the suppers we
commonly have."

Mr. Drummond, who desired, for this day, at least, to keep up
appearances, frowned with vexation.

"Joshua," he said, "I desire that you will act in a more gentlemanly
way, or else leave the table."

As leaving the table on the present occasion would have been, indeed, a
deprivation, Joshua thought it wise not to provoke his father too far,
at any rate until after he had made sure of his supper. He therefore
left most of the conversation to his father.

"Have you ever been in Stapleton before, Mr. Conrad?" asked Mr.
Drummond.

"No, sir; never."

"It is not a large place, but it is growing; the people are plain, but
they have kind hearts. I hope you may like the town after a while."

"Thank you, sir; I have no doubt I shall."

"If you feel inclined for a walk, Joshua will go out with you after
supper, and show you the mill-dam, the church, and the school-house. He
will also point out the store--it is only across the way--where, in my
humble way, I try to earn a living. I shall be very glad if you will
come in and take a look inside. I may be busy, for work has accumulated
during my absence, but Joshua will show you around."

"Thank you, sir."

"Will you have another cup of tea, Mr. Conrad?" asked Mrs. Drummond.

"Thank you."

"May I ask, Mr. Conrad,--excuse my intruding the question,--who is left
executor of your father's estate?"

"Mr. Shaw, the lawyer in our village."

"Is he? Do you have confidence in him?"

"He is an excellent man, very honest and upright. He was an intimate
friend of my father."

"Ah, indeed! I am glad of it. Then he will consult your interests."

"Yes, sir, I feel quite safe in his hands."

"I am so glad to hear you say so. So many lawyers, you know, are
tricky."

"Mr. Shaw is not tricky."

"We have no lawyer here," pursued Mr. Drummond. "You will perhaps be
surprised to hear it, but my humble services are frequently called into
requisition, in administering and settling estates."

"Indeed, sir."

"Yes; but I am glad you have got a man you can trust. Mrs. Drummond, I
think Mr. Conrad will have another piece of pie."

Supper was over at length, and Walter, by invitation, went out to walk
with Joshua.



CHAPTER VIII.

WALTER MAKES A REVELATION.


Walter did not anticipate a very pleasant walk with Joshua. The little
he had seen of that young man did not prepossess him in his favor.
However, having no other way of spending his time, he had no objection
to the walk.

"That's the old man's store just across the street," said Joshua, as
they emerged from the house.

"Your father's?"

"Of course. Don't you see the name on the sign?" Walter did see it, but
never having been accustomed to speak of his own father as "the old
man," he was not quite sure he apprehended Joshua's meaning.

"You were an only child, weren't you?" said Joshua.

"Yes," said Walter, soberly.

[Illustration]

He could not help thinking what a comfort it would have been to him to
have either brother or sister. He would have felt less alone in the
world.

"So am I," said Joshua; adding, complacently, "Between you and I, the
old man has laid up quite a snug sum. Of course it'll all come to me
some day."

"I am glad to hear it," said Walter, rather wondering that Joshua should
have made such a communication to a comparative stranger.

"To hear the old man talk," pursued Joshua, "you'd think he was awful
poor. He's stingy enough about everything in the house. There isn't a
family in town that don't live better than we do."

"I thought we had a very good supper," said Walter, who experienced not
a little disgust at Joshua's charges against his father.

"That was because you were with us. The old man laid himself out for the
occasion."

"I am sorry if any difference was made on my account."

"Well, I aint. It's the first decent supper I've eaten at home since the
Sewing Circle met at our house three years ago."

"Is that the church?" asked Walter, desirous of diverting the
conversation into another channel.

"Yes, that's the old meeting-house. I hate to go there. The minister's
an old fogy."

"What is that I see through the trees? Is it a river?"

"No, it's a pond."

"Do you ever go out on it?"

"Not very often. I tried to get the old man to buy me a boat, but he
wouldn't do it. He's too stingy."

"I wouldn't talk so about your father."

"Why not?"

"Because he is entitled to your respect."

"I don't know about that. If he'd treat me as he ought to, I'd treat him
accordingly. He never gives me a cent if he can help it. Now how much do
you think he allows me a week for spending money?"

"I can't tell."

"Only fifty cents, and I'm eighteen years old. Isn't that mean?"

"It isn't a very large sum."

"Of course not. He ought to give me five dollars a week, and then I'd
buy my own clothes. Now I have to take up with what I can get. He wanted
to have his old overcoat, that he'd worn three winters, made over for
me; but I wouldn't stand it. I told him I'd go without first."

Though these communications did not raise Joshua in the estimation of
Walter, the latter could not help thinking that there was probably some
foundation for what was said, and the prejudice against Mr. Drummond,
for which he had blamed himself as without cause, began to find some
extenuation.

"When I talk to the old man about his stinting me so," continued Joshua,
"he tells me to go to work and earn some money."

"Why don't you do it?"

"He wants me to go into his store, but he wouldn't pay me anything. He
offered me a dollar and a half a week; but I wasn't going to work ten or
twelve hours a day for no such sum. If I could get a light, easy place
in the city, say at ten dollars a week, I'd go. There aint any chance in
Stapleton for a young man of enterprise."

"I've thought sometimes," said Walter, "that I should like to get a
place in the city; but I suppose I couldn't get enough at first to pay
my board."

"You get a place!" exclaimed Joshua, in astonishment. "I thought you was
going to college."

"Father intended I should; but his death will probably change my plans."

"I don't see why."

"It is expensive passing through college; I cannot afford it."

"Oh, that's all humbug. You're talking like the old man."

"How do you know that it is humbug?" demanded Walter, not very well
pleased with his companion's tone.

"Why, you're rich. The old man told me that your father left a hundred
thousand dollars. You're the only son; you told me so yourself."

"Your father is mistaken."

"What, wasn't your father rich?" asked Joshua, opening his small eyes in
amazement.

"My father was unfortunate enough to get involved in a speculation, by
which he lost heavily. I can't tell how his affairs stand till they are
settled. I may be left penniless."

"Do you mean that?" asked Joshua, stopping short and facing his
companion.

"I generally mean what I say," said Walter, rather stiffly.

Joshua's answer was a low whistle of amazement.

"Whew!" he said. "That's the biggest joke I've heard of lately;" and he
followed up this remark by a burst of merriment.

Walter surveyed him with surprise. He certainly did not know what to
make of Joshua's conduct.

"I don't see any joke about it," he said. "I don't complain of being
poor, for I think I can earn my own living; but it doesn't strike me as
a thing to laugh at."

"I was laughing to think how the old man is taken in. It's rich!"

Joshua burst into another fit of boisterous laughter.

"How is he taken in?"

"He thinks you're worth a hundred thousand dollars," said Joshua, going
off in another peal of merriment.

"Well, he is mistaken, that's all. I don't see how he is taken in."

"He's been doing the polite, and treating you as if you was a prince of
the blood. That's the reason he told the old woman to get up such a nice
supper, he expected to get you to take him for a guardian, and then he'd
have the handling of your money. Won't he be mad when he finds out how
he's been taken in? Giving you the best room too! Are you sure that none
of the property will be left?"

"Probably not much."

That Walter listened with mortification and disgust to what Joshua had
told him about his father's selfish designs, is only what might be
expected. It is always disagreeable to find out the meanness of those
whom you have supposed kind to you for your own sake. This, to Walter,
who had been accustomed to an atmosphere of kindness, was a painful
discovery. It was his first experience of the coldness and hollowness of
the world, and to the sensitive nature of youth this first revelation
is very painful and very bitter.

"I am sorry to think that your father made such a mistake," he said,
coldly. "I will take care to undeceive him."

"What! You're not going to tell him, are you?"

"Certainly. I meant to do so; but I did not suppose he invited me just
because he thought I was rich."

"What for, then?"

"Being my father's cousin and nearest relation, it didn't seem very
strange that he should have invited me on that account."

"The old man's a shrewd one," said Joshua, rather admiringly. "He knows
which way his bread is buttered. He don't lay himself out for no poor
relations, not if he knows it."

"I am sorry if he has laid himself out for me under a mistake."

"I aint. It's a good joke on the old man. Besides, we all got a better
supper by it. Don't you tell him about it till to-morrow."

"Why not?"

"Because, if you do, we'll have a mean breakfast as usual. I just want
him to think you're rich a little while longer, so we can have something
decent for once."

"I don't feel willing to deceive your father any longer. I have not
willingly deceived him at all."

"You're a fool then!"

"Look here," said Walter, flushing a little, "I don't allow anybody to
call me by that name."

"No offence," said Joshua, whose physical courage was not very great. "I
didn't mean anything, of course, except that it was foolish to blurt it
all out to-night, when there isn't any need of it. There isn't such an
awful hurry, is there?"

"I would rather your father knew at once."

"To-morrow will be soon enough."

"At any rate I shall tell him to-morrow, then. But I've got tired
walking. Suppose we go back."

"Just as you say."

They went back together. Mr. Drummond was in the store, but Mrs.
Drummond was at home.

"You didn't go far," she said. "But I suppose you were tired, Mr.
Conrad."

"A little," answered Walter.

"I wonder," thought our hero, "whether she will change as soon as she
finds out that I am poor?" Somehow he felt that she would not. She
seemed very different from her husband and son, and Walter was inclined
to like her better.

Joshua went out again soon, not having much taste for staying at home;
and, as Walter retired early, he did not see either him or his father
again till the next morning at breakfast.



CHAPTER IX.

HOW MR. DRUMMOND TOOK THE NEWS.


Joshua's anticipations of a good breakfast were realized. As he entered
the room where the table was set, he saw a dish of beefsteak, another of
fried potatoes, and some hot biscuit. This with coffee was very much
better than the breakfast usually provided in the Drummond household.

Joshua burst into a fresh fit of laughter, thinking how his father had
been taken in.

"What's the matter, Joshua?" asked his mother, who was the only one in
the room besides himself.

"Oh, it's the richest joke, mother!"

"What is?" asked Mrs. Drummond, perplexed.

"I can't tell you now, but you'll find out pretty soon. Ho, ho!"

And Joshua commenced to laugh again.

"Has Mr. Conrad come downstairs?"

"I haven't seen Mr. Conrad this morning," answered Joshua, imitating
his mother's tone in repeating the name.

Just then Walter entered, and said "Good-morning."

"Good-morning, Mr. Conrad," said Mrs. Drummond. "I hope you slept well."

"Very well, thank you," said Walter.

Mr. Drummond here entered from the street, having been for an hour in
the store opposite.

"Good-morning, Mr. Conrad," he said. "I trust you rested well, and can
do justice to our humble repast. I have been in the store an hour. We
who are not endowed with the gifts of Fortune must be early astir."

Joshua tried to suppress a laugh, but not with entire success.

"What are you snickering at, Joshua?" demanded Mr. Drummond, in a
displeased tone. "I don't know what Mr. Conrad will think of your
manners."

"You'll excuse them, won't you, Mr. Conrad?" asked Joshua, beginning to
chuckle again.

Knowing very well the source of his amusement, and feeling his own
position to be an awkward one, Walter was all the more resolved to
impart to Mr. Drummond without delay the posture of his father's
affairs. He did not answer Joshua's appeal.

"I don't see what has got into you this morning, Joshua," said Mrs.
Drummond, mildly. "You seem in very good spirits."

"So I am," said Joshua, with a grin.

His father suspected that the unusual excellence of the breakfast had
something to do with Joshua's mirth, and was afraid he would let out
something about it. This made him a little nervous, as he wanted to keep
up appearances before his young guest.

Walter's appetite was not very good. His father's death weighed heavily
upon him, and Joshua's revelation of the night before was not calculated
to cheer him. It was mortifying to think that Mr. Drummond's gracious
manner was entirely owing to his supposed wealth; but of this he
entertained little doubt. He was anxious to have the truth known, no
matter how unfavorably it might affect his position with the Drummonds.
There were some, he knew, whose kindness did not depend on his reputed
wealth. "You have a poor appetite, Mr. Conrad," said Mr. Drummond. "Let
me give you another piece of steak."

"No, I thank you," said Walter.

"I'll take another piece, father," said Joshua.

"I have already helped you twice," said his father, frowning.

"I'm hungry this morning," said Joshua, who, knowing that he could not
expect another as good breakfast, determined to do full justice to this.

"If you are, you need not overeat yourself," said Mr. Drummond,
depositing on his son's outstretched plate a square inch of meat.

Joshua coolly helped himself to fried potatoes, and appropriated a hot
biscuit, much to his father's annoyance. He resolved to give Joshua a
private hint that he must be more sparing in his eating. He did not like
to speak before Walter, desiring to keep up with him the character of a
liberal man. Joshua understood his father's feelings, and it contributed
to the enjoyment which he felt at the thought of how richly his father
was sold.

At length breakfast was over.

"I must go back to the store," said Mr. Drummond. "Joshua will look
after you, Mr. Conrad. I hope you will be able to pass the time
pleasantly."

"If you can spare me five minutes, Mr. Drummond, I should like to speak
to you in private," said Walter, determined to put an end to the
misunderstanding at once.

"Certainly. I can spare five or ten minutes, or more, Mr. Conrad. Won't
you walk into the parlor?"

The parlor was a very dreary-looking room, dark, cold, and cheerless. A
carpet, of an ugly pattern, covered the floor; there was a centre-table
in the middle of the room with a few books that were never opened
resting upon it. Half-a-dozen cane-bottomed chairs stood about the room,
and there were besides a few of the stock articles usually to be found
in country parlors, including a very hard, inhospitable-looking sofa. As
the Drummonds did not have much company, this room was very seldom used.

"Take a seat, Mr. Conrad," said Mr. Drummond, seating himself.

Mr. Drummond was far from anticipating the nature of Walter's
communication. Indeed, he cherished a hope that our hero was about to
ask his assistance in settling up the estate,--a request with which, it
is needless to say, he would gladly have complied.

"I don't suppose you know how I am situated," Walter commenced. "I mean
in relation to my father's estate."

"I suppose it was all left to you, and very properly. I congratulate you
on starting in the world under such good auspices. I don't, of course,
know how much your father left, but--"

"It is not certain that my father left anything," said Walter, thinking
it best to reveal every thing at once.

"_What!_" exclaimed Mr. Drummond, his lower jaw falling, and looking
very blank.

"My father made some investments recently that turned out badly."

"But he was worth a very large property,--it can't all be lost."

"I am afraid there will be very little left, if anything. He lost
heavily by some mining stock, which he bought at a high figure, and
which ran down to almost nothing."

"There's the house left, at any rate."

"My father borrowed its value, I understand; I am afraid that must go
too."

Now, at length, it flashed upon Mr. Drummond how he had been taken in.
He thought of the attentions he had lavished upon Walter, of the extra
expense he had incurred, and all as it appeared for a boy likely to
prove penniless. He might even expect to live upon him. These thoughts,
which rapidly succeeded each other, mortified and made him angry.

"Why didn't you tell me this before, young man?" he demanded with
asperity.

His change of tone and manner showed Walter that Joshua was entirely
right in his estimate of his father's motives, and he in turn became
indignant.

"When did you expect me to tell you, Mr. Drummond?" he said quickly. "I
only arrived yesterday afternoon, and I tell you this morning. I would
have told you last night, if you had been in the house."

"Why didn't you tell me when I was at Willoughby?"

"I had other things to think of," said Walter, shortly. "The thought of
my father's death and of my loss shut out everything else."

"Well, what are you going to do?" asked Mr. Drummond, in a hard tone.

"I shall have to earn my own living," said Walter. "I am well and
strong, and am not afraid."

"That is a good plan," said Mr. Drummond, who knew Walter so little as
to fear that he wanted to become dependent upon him.

"When I was of your age I had my own living to earn. What do you propose
to do?"

"Have you a vacancy for me in your store? Joshua told me you wished him
to go in."

"You couldn't earn much, for you don't know anything of the business."

"I should not expect to. I am perfectly willing to work for my board
until I find out how my father's affairs are going to turn out."

This proposal struck Mr. Drummond favorably. He judged that Walter would
prove a valuable assistant when he was broken in, for it was easy to
see that he had energy. Besides, it was desirable to keep him near until
it was decided whether Mr. Conrad's affairs were really in as bad a
state as his son represented. Even if a few thousand dollars were left,
Mr. Drummond would like the handling of that sum. Then, again, no one
knew better than Mr. Drummond that Walter's board would cost him very
little; for, of course, he would at once return to his usual frugal
fare.

"Very well," he said; "you can go into the store on those terms. As you
say, you've got your own living to earn, and the sooner you begin the
better."

Walter had not said this, but he agreed with Mr. Drummond.

It may be thought strange that our hero should have been willing to
enter the employment of such a mean man; but he thought it wisest to
remain in the neighborhood until he could learn something definite about
his father's affairs. He prepared to go to work at once, partly because
he didn't wish to be dependent, partly because he foresaw that he should
be happier if employed.

When Mr. Drummond and Walter came out of the parlor, Joshua was waiting
in the next room, and looked up eagerly to see how his father bore the
communication. He was disappointed when he saw that Mr. Drummond looked
much as usual.

"Conrad has been telling me," said Mr. Drummond, "that his father lost a
good deal of money by speculation, and it is doubtful whether he has
left any property."

"I am very sorry," said Mrs. Drummond; and Walter saw and appreciated
her look of sympathy.

"As he will probably have to work for a living, he has asked for a place
in my store," pursued Mr. Drummond, "and I have agreed to take him on
trial. Conrad, you may get your hat and come over at once."

Joshua whistled in sheer amazement. The affair had by no means
terminated as he anticipated.



CHAPTER X.

MR. DRUMMOND'S STORE.


Mr. Drummond's store was of fair size, and contained a considerable and
varied stock of dry goods. Not only the people of Stapleton, but a
considerable number of persons living outside the town limits, but
within a radius of half-a-dozen miles, came there to purchase goods.

Besides Mr. Drummond there was a single salesman, a young man of
twenty-two, who wore a cravat of immense size, and ostentatiously
displayed in his bosom a mammoth breastpin, with a glass imitation
diamond, which, had it been real, would have been equal in value to the
entire contents of the store. This young man, whose name was Nichols,
received from Mr. Drummond the munificent salary of four hundred dollars
per annum. Having a taste for dress, he patronized the village tailor to
the extent of his means, and considerably beyond, being at this moment
thirty dollars in debt for the suit he wore.

Besides this young man, there had formerly been a younger clerk,
receiving a salary of four dollars weekly. He had been dismissed for
asking to have his pay raised to five dollars a week, and since then Mr.
Drummond had got along with but one salesman. As, however, the business
really required more assistance, he was quite willing to employ Walter
on board wages, which he estimated would not cost him, at the most, more
than two dollars a week.

"Mr. Nichols," said Mr. Drummond, "I have brought you some help. This is
Walter Conrad, a distant relative." (Had Walter been rich, he would have
been a near relative.) "He knows nothing of the business. You can take
him in charge, and give him some idea about prices, and so forth."

"Yes, sir," said the young man, in an important tone. "I'll soon break
him in."

Mr. Nichols, who gave up what little mind he had to the subject of
clothes, began to inspect Walter's raiment. He had sufficient knowledge
to perceive that our hero's suit was of fine fabric, and tastefully
made. That being the case, he concluded to pay him some attention.

"I'm glad you've come," he said. "I have to work like a dog. I'm pretty
well used up to-day. I was up till two o'clock dancing."

"Were you?"

"Yes. There was a ball over to Crampton. I go to all the balls within
ten miles. They can't do without me."

"Can't they?" asked Walter, not knowing what else to say.

"No. You see there isn't much style at these country balls,--I mean
among the young men. They don't know how to dress. Now I give my mind to
it, and they try to imitate me. I don't trust any tailor entirely. I
just tell him what I want, and how I want it. Higgins, the tailor here,
has improved a good deal since he began to make clothes for me."

"Indeed!"

"Where do you have your clothes made?"

"In Willoughby. That's where I have always lived till I came here."

"Is there a good tailor there?"

"I think so; but then I am not much of a judge."

Just then a customer came in, and Mr. Nichols was drawn away from his
dissertation on dress.

"Just notice how I manage," he said in a low voice.

Accordingly Walter stood by and listened.

"Have you any calicoes that you can recommend?" asked the woman, who
appeared to be poor.

"Yes, ma'am, we've got some of the best in the market,--some that will
be sure to suit you."

He took from the shelves and displayed a very ugly pattern.

"I don't think I like that," she said. "Haven't you got some with a
smaller figure?"

"The large figures are all the rage just now, ma'am. Everybody wears
them."

"Is that so?" asked the woman, irresolutely.

"Fact, I assure you."

"How much is it a yard?"

"Fifteen cents only."

"Are you sure it will wash?"

"Certainly."

"I should like to look at something else."

"I'll show you something else, but this is the thing for you."

He brought out a piece still uglier; and finally, after some hesitation,
his customer ordered ten yards from the first piece. He measured it with
an air, and, folding it up, handed it to the customer, receiving in
return a two-dollar bill, which the poor woman sighed as she rendered
in, for she had worked hard for it.

"Is there anything more, ma'am?"

"A spool of cotton, No. 100."

When the customer had left the store, Nichols turned complacently to
Walter.

"How did you like that calico?" he asked.

"It seemed to me very ugly."

"Wasn't it, though? It's been in the store five years. I didn't know as
we should ever get rid of it."

"I thought you said it was all the rage."

"That's all gammon, of course."

"Haven't you got any prettier patterns?"

"Plenty."

"Why didn't you show them?"

"I wanted to get off the old rubbish first. It isn't everybody that
would buy it; but she swallowed everything I said."

"She seemed like a poor woman, who couldn't afford to buy a dress very
often."

"No, she doesn't come more than twice a year."

"I think you ought to have given her the best bargain you could."

"You don't understand the business, Walter," said Nichols, complacently.

"Mr. Drummond," he said, going up to his employer, "I've just sold ten
yards of those old-style calicoes."

"Very good," said Mr. Drummond, approvingly. "Shove them off whenever
you get a chance."

"If that is the way they do business, I shan't like it," thought Walter.

"You can fold up those goods on the counter, and put them back on the
shelves," said Nichols. "Customers put us to a great deal of trouble
that way sometimes. Mrs. Captain Walker was in yesterday afternoon, and
I didn't know but I should have to get down all the stock we had before
we could suit her."

"Why didn't you pick out something, and tell her it was all the rage?"
said Walter, smiling.

"That wouldn't go down with her. She's rich and she's proud. We have to
be careful how we manage with such customers as she is. That reminds me
that her bundle hasn't gone home yet. I'll get you to carry it up right
away."

"I don't know where she lives."

"It's a large, square white house, about a quarter of a mile down the
road, at the left hand. You can't miss it."

The bundle was produced, and Walter set off in the direction indicated.
He had only gone a few rods when he overtook Joshua, who was sauntering
along with a fishing-pole in his hand.

"Where are you going with that big bundle?" asked Joshua.

"To Mrs. Captain Walker's."

"I'll show you where it is. I'm going that way."

Joshua's manner was considerably less deferential than the day before,
when he supposed Walter to be rich. Now he looked upon him as his
father's hired boy.

"Isn't that bundle heavy?" he asked.

"Yes, rather heavy."

"I wouldn't be seen carrying such a bundle."

"Why not?"

"I feel above it."

"I don't."

"It's different with you--now I mean. My father's worth money, and I
suppose you will be poor."

"I don't mean to be poor all my life, but I shall have to work for all
the money I am worth."

"It'll take a good while to get rich that way. If your father hadn't
lost his money, you could have fine times."

"I don't know about that. I never cared so much about inheriting money."

They were passing the village school-house. Through the open windows
floated the strain of a song which the children were singing. This was
the verse which the boys heard:--


     "It's all very well to depend on a friend,--
       That is, if you've proved him true;
     But you'll find it better by far in the end
       To paddle your own canoe.
     To 'borrow' is dearer by far than to 'buy,'--
       A maxim, though old, still true;
     You never will sigh, if you only will try
       To paddle your own canoe!"


"That is going to be my motto," said Walter.

"What?"

"'Paddle your own canoe.' I'm going to depend upon myself, and I mean to
succeed."

"That's all very well, if you've got to do it; but I expect the old man
will leave me twenty-five thousand dollars, and that's a good deal
better than paddling my own canoe."

"Suppose your father should fail?"

"There isn't any danger. He'll take good care of his money, I'll warrant
that. I wish he wasn't so mighty stingy, for I'd like a little now. But
there's Captain Walker's. I'll wait here, while you go and leave the
bundle."

Walter performed his errand, and rejoined Joshua, who had seated
himself on the fence.

"I'm going a-fishing," said Joshua. "If you didn't have to work you
could go with me."

"I must hurry back to the store."

So the two parted company.

"I wish he'd been rich," thought Joshua. "I'd have borrowed some money
of him. It won't pay to be polite to him, now it turns out he isn't
worth a cent."

Walter went back to the store with a lighter heart than before. There
was something in the song he had heard which gave him new strength and
hopefulness, and he kept repeating over to himself at intervals, "Paddle
your own canoe!"



CHAPTER XI.

JOSHUA STIRS UP THE WRONG CUSTOMER.


When Walter went into the house to dinner, the appearance of the table
indicated the truth of what Joshua had told him. Since Mr. Drummond had
ascertained the pecuniary position of his visitor, he no longer felt it
incumbent upon him to keep up appearances. Corned beef and potatoes, and
bread without butter, constituted the mid-day meal. This certainly
differed considerably from the supper and breakfast of which Walter had
partaken.

"Sit right down, Conrad," said Mr. Drummond. "Eat your dinner as fast as
you can, and go back to the store."

It did not take Walter long to eat his dinner. Corned beef he had never
liked, though now, having no choice, he managed to eat a little.

"If you're through, you needn't wait for me," said Mr. Drummond. "We
don't stand on ceremony here. Tell Nichols he may go to his dinner.
I'll be right over; so, if there are any customers you can't wait on,
ask them to wait."

In the evening Walter found that his carpet-bag had been removed from
the spare chamber to a small, uncarpeted back room, furnished with the
barest necessaries.

He smiled to himself.

"I shan't be in danger of forgetting my change of circumstances," he
said to himself.

He was tired, however, and, though the bed was harder than he had ever
before slept on, he managed to sleep soundly. He was waked up early by
Mr. Drummond.

"Hurry up, Conrad!" said that gentleman, unceremoniously. "I want you to
be up within fifteen minutes to open the store."

Walter jumped out of bed and hurriedly dressed. His position was so new
that he did not at first realize it. When he did reflect that he was
working for his board in a country store, he hardly knew whether to feel
glad or sorry. He had begun to earn his living, and this was
satisfactory; but he was working for a man whom he could neither like
nor respect, and his pay was very poor of its kind. That was not so
agreeable.

Walter was not a glutton, nor inordinately fond of good living, but he
had the appetite of a healthy boy, and when he entered the room where
breakfast was spread (this was after he had been in the store an hour),
he did wish that there had been something on the table besides the
remains of the corned beef and a plate of bread and butter.

"Do you take sugar and milk in your tea, Walter?" asked Mrs. Drummond.

"If you please."

"I don't take either," remarked Mr. Drummond. "It's only a habit, and an
expensive one. If you'd try going without for a week, you would cure
yourself of the habit."

"How intolerably mean he is!" thought Walter, for he understood very
well that the only consideration in Mr. Drummond's mind was the expense.

"I don't think I shall ever learn to go without milk and sugar," said
Walter, quietly, not feeling disposed to humor his employer in this
little meanness.

"There isn't anything fit to eat on the table," grumbled Joshua, looking
about him discontentedly.

"You are always complaining," said his father, sharply. "If you earned
your breakfast, you wouldn't be so particular."

"Why can't you have beefsteak once in a while, instead of corned beef?
I'm sick to death of corned beef."

"We shall have some beefsteak on Sunday morning, and not till then. I
don't mean to pamper your appetite."

"That's so!" said Joshua. "Not much danger of that."

"If you are not satisfied, you can go without."

"I will, then," said Joshua, rising from the table.

He knew very well that as soon as his father had gone to the store he
could get something better from his mother.

It had been a considerable disappointment to Joshua to find that Walter
was poor instead of rich, for he had proposed to make as free use of
Walter's purse as the latter would permit. Even now it occurred to him
that Walter might have a supply of ready money, a part of which he might
borrow. He accordingly took an opportunity during the day to sound our
hero on this subject.

"Walter, have you a couple of dollars about you to lend me for a day or
two?" he asked, in a tone of assumed carelessness.

"Yes, I have that amount of money, but I am afraid I must decline
lending."

"Why shouldn't you lend me? It's only for a day or two."

But Walter knew very well Joshua's small allowance, and that he would
not be able to return a loan of that amount, even if he were desirous of
so doing, and he judged Joshua so well that he doubted whether he would
have any such desire.

"You know my circumstances, Joshua," he said, "and that I am in no
position to lend anybody money."

"Two dollars isn't much. You said you had it."

"Yes, I have it; but I must take care of what little I have. I am
working for my board, as you know, and have got to provide for all my
other expenses myself; therefore I shall need all my money."

"You talk as if I wanted you to _give_ me the money. I only asked you to
lend it."

"That's about the same thing," thought Walter; but he only said, "Why
don't you ask your father for the money?"

"Because he wouldn't give it to me. He's as mean as dirt."

"Then where would you get the money to repay me in case I lent it to
you?"

"You're just as mean as he is," exclaimed Joshua, angrily, not caring to
answer this question. "A mighty fuss you make about lending a fellow a
couple of dollars!"

"It makes no particular difference to me whether you think me mean or
not," said Walter. "I have got to be richer than I am now before I lend
money."

Joshua stalked away in a fret, angry that Walter would not permit
himself to be swindled. From that time he cherished a dislike to our
hero, and this he showed by various little slights and annoyances, of
which Walter took little notice. He thoroughly despised Joshua for his
meanness and selfishness, and it mattered very little to him what such a
boy thought of him.

This forbearance Joshua utterly misinterpreted. He decided that Walter
was deficient in courage and spirit, and it encouraged him to persevere
in his system of petty annoyances until they might almost be called
bullying. Though Walter kept quiet under these provocations, there was
often a warning flash of the eye which showed that it would not be safe
to go too far. But this Joshua did not notice, and persisted.

"Joshua," said his mother one day, "I really think you don't treat
Walter right. You are not polite to him."

"Why should I be? What is he but a beggar?"

"He is not that, for he works for his living."

"At any rate he's a mean fellow, and I shall treat him as I please."

But one day matters came to a climax.

One afternoon there were a few young fellows standing on the piazza in
front of Mr. Drummond's store. Joshua was one of them, and there being
no customers to wait upon, Walter also had joined the company. They were
discussing plans for a picnic to be held in the woods on the next
Saturday afternoon. It was to be quite a general affair.

"You will come, Walter, won't you?" asked one of the number.

"No," said Joshua; "he can't come."

"I didn't authorize you to speak for me," said Walter, quietly.

"You didn't authorize me to speak for you?" repeated Joshua, in a
mocking tone. "Big words for a beggar!"

"What do you mean by calling me a beggar?" demanded Walter, quietly, but
with rising color.

"I don't choose to give you any explanation," said Joshua, scornfully.
"You're only my father's hired boy, working for your board."

"That may be true, but I am not a beggar, and I advise you not to call
me one again."

Walter's tone was still quiet, and Joshua wholly misunderstood him;
otherwise, being a coward at heart, he would have desisted.

"I'll say it as often as I please," he repeated. "You're a beggar, and
if we hadn't taken pity on you, you'd have had to go to the poor-house."

Walter was not quarrelsome; but this last insult, in presence of
half-a-dozen boys between his own age and Joshua's, roused him.

"Joshua Drummond," he said, "you've insulted me long enough, and I've
stood it, for I didn't want to quarrel; but I will stand it no longer."

He walked up to Joshua, and struck him in the face, not a hard blow, but
still a blow.

Joshua turned white with passion, and advanced upon our hero furiously,
with the intention of giving him, as he expressed it, the worst whipping
he ever had.

Walter parried his blow, and put in another, this time sharp and
stinging. Joshua was an inch or two taller, but Walter was more than a
match for him. Joshua threw out his arms, delivering his blows at
random, and most of them failed of effect. Indeed, he was so blinded
with rage, that Walter, who kept cool, had from this cause alone a great
advantage over him. Joshua at length seized him, and he was compelled
to throw him down. As Joshua lay prostrate, with Walter's knee upon his
breast, Mr. Drummond, who had gone over to his own house, appeared upon
the scene.

"What's all this?" he demanded in mingled surprise and anger. "Conrad,
what means this outrageous conduct?"

Walter rose, and, turning to his employer, said, manfully, "Joshua
insulted me, sir, and I have punished him. That's all!"



CHAPTER XII.

AFTER THE BATTLE.


Without waiting to hear Mr. Drummond's reply to his explanation, Walter
re-entered the store. He had no disposition to discuss the subject in
presence of the boys who were standing on the piazza.

Mr. Drummond followed him into the store, and Joshua accompanied him. He
was terribly angry with Walter, and determined to get revenged upon him
through his father.

"Are you going to let that beggar pitch into me like that?" he demanded.
"He wouldn't have got me down, only he took me at disadvantage."

"Conrad," said Mr. Drummond, "I demand an explanation of your conduct. I
come from my house, and find you fighting like a street rowdy, instead
of attending to your duties in the store."

"I have already given you an explanation, Mr. Drummond," said Walter,
firmly. "Joshua chose to insult me before all the boys, and I don't
allow myself to be insulted if I can help it. As to being out of the
store, there was no customer to wait upon, and I went to the door for a
breath of fresh air. I have never been accustomed to such confinement
before."

"You say Joshua insulted you. How did he insult you?"

"I was asked if I would go to the picnic on Saturday afternoon. He
didn't wait for me to answer, but said at once that I couldn't come."

"Was that all?"

"On my objecting to his answering for me, he charged me with being a
beggar, and said that but for you I would have been obliged to go to the
poor-house. If this had been the first time he had annoyed me, I might
have passed it over, but it is far from being the first; so I knocked
him down."

Mr. Drummond was by no means a partisan of Walter, but in the month that
our hero had been in his employ he had found him a very efficient clerk.
Whatever Walter undertook to do he did well, and he had mastered the
details of the retail dry-goods trade in a remarkably short time, so
that his services were already nearly as valuable as those of young
Nichols, who received eight dollars a week. Therefore Mr. Drummond was
disposed to smooth over matters, for the sake of retaining the services
which he obtained so cheap. He resolved, therefore, to temporize.

"You are both of you wrong," he said. "Joshua, you should not have
called Conrad a beggar, for he earns his living. You, Conrad, should not
have been so violent. You should have told me, and I would have spoken
to Joshua."

"Excuse me, Mr. Drummond, but I don't like tale-bearing. I did the only
thing I could."

"Ahem!" said Mr. Drummond, "you were too violent. I would suggest that
you should each beg the other's pardon, shake hands, and have done with
it."

"Catch me begging pardon of my father's hired boy!" exclaimed Joshua
scornfully. "I haven't got quite so low as that."

"As for me," said Walter, "if I thought I had been in the wrong, I would
beg Joshua's pardon without any hesitation. I am not too proud for that,
but I think I acted right under the circumstances, and therefore I
cannot do it. As for being a hired boy, I admit that such is my
position, and I don't see anything to be ashamed of in it."

"You are right there," said Mr. Drummond; for this assertion chimed in
with his own views and wishes. "Well, it seems to me you are about even,
and you may as well drop the quarrel here."

"I am ready to do so," said Walter, promptly. "If Joshua treats me well,
I will treat him well."

"You're mighty accommodating," sneered Joshua. "You seem to think you're
on an equality with me."

"I am willing to treat you as an equal," answered Walter, purposely
misinterpreting Joshua's remark.

"Oh, you are, are you?" retorted Joshua, with a vicious snap of the
eyes. "Do you think you, a hired boy, are equal to me, who am a
gentleman?"

"I am glad to hear that you consider yourself a gentleman, and hope you
will take care to act like one."

"I'll give you the worst licking you ever had!" exclaimed Joshua,
clenching his fists furiously.

"If it isn't any worse than you gave me just now, I can stand it," said
Walter.

He was a little angry, also, and this prompted him to speak thus.

Joshua was maddened by this remark, and might have renewed the battle if
his father had not imperatively ordered him to leave the store.

"Conrad," said Mr. Drummond, "you have behaved badly. I did not think
you were so quarrelsome."

"I don't think I am, sir; but I cannot stand Joshua's treatment."

"Will you promise not to quarrel with him again?"

"That depends on whether he provokes me."

"Of course I can't have you fighting with my son."

"I don't care about doing it. If I find he won't let me alone, I have
made up my mind what to do."

"What?"

"I will leave the store, and go back to Willoughby; then I will decide
what to do. I know that I have got to earn my own living, but I would
rather earn it somewhere where I can be at peace."

"Humph!" said Mr. Drummond, who did not fancy this determination;
"don't be too hasty. I will speak to Joshua, and see that he doesn't
annoy you again."

With this assurance Walter felt satisfied. He felt that he had won the
victory and maintained his self-respect. There was one thing more he
desired, and that was to go to the picnic. He would not have urged the
request, but that he was well aware that Joshua would report that he was
kept at home by his desire.

"It won't be very convenient for you to be away Saturday afternoon,"
said Mr. Drummond, who was principled against allowing clerks any
privileges. "You know we have more trade than usual on Saturday
afternoon."

"I don't think we shall have next Saturday," said Walter; "everybody
will be gone to the picnic."

"If you insist upon going," said Mr. Drummond, reluctantly, "I must try
to let you go."

Walter felt no scruples about insisting. He knew that he earned his
limited pay twice over, and that his absence would do his employer no
harm. He answered, therefore, "Thank you, sir; I will be home at six
o'clock, so as to be in the store all Saturday evening."

Meanwhile Joshua went home in a very unhappy frame of mind. He had not
succeeded in humiliating Walter as he intended, but had an unpleasant
feeling that Walter had got the better of him. He was very angry with
his father for not taking his part, and was not slow in making his
feelings known to his mother.

"What's the matter, Joshua?" asked Mrs. Drummond, observing the scowl
upon his face.

"Matter enough! That beggar has been insulting me."

"What beggar? I haven't seen any beggar about," answered Mrs. Drummond.

"You know who I mean,--that upstart, Conrad."

"What's he been doing? I'm sure he's a very gentlemanly young man."

"Oh, yes, that's just the way. You take his part against your own son,"
said Joshua, bitterly.

"What's he been doing? You haven't told me."

"He pitched into me, and tried to knock me over."

"What for? I am surprised to hear it, he seems so polite and
well-bred."

"Nothing at all. He sprung at me like a tiger, and all for nothing. He
took me by surprise, so at first he got the advantage; but I soon gave
him as good as he sent."

"I am really sorry to hear this," said Mrs. Drummond, distressed. "Are
you sure you didn't say something to provoke him?"

"I only said, when he was invited to go to the picnic Saturday
afternoon, that he wouldn't be able to leave the store."

"I am afraid you said it in such a way as to offend him."

"Seems to me you think a good sight more of him than of me in the
matter," grumbled Joshua. "That's just the way with father. He wanted us
both to beg each other's pardon. Catch me begging pardon of a beggarly
hired boy!"

"He isn't any worse because your father hires him, Joshua."

"Oh, yes, of course you stand up for him," said Joshua, sneering.

"Now, Joshua, you know I always take your part when you are right."

So Joshua continued to scold, and Mrs. Drummond to soothe him, until she
found a more effectual way, by placing at his disposal half an apple-pie
which was in the cupboard. In the evening she told Walter that she was
sorry there had been any difficulty between him and Joshua.

"So am I," said Walter, frankly, for he was grateful for her gentle
kindness. "I am sorry, if only for your sake, Mrs. Drummond."

"I know he's provoking; but he don't mean what he says, Mr. Conrad."

"I'll try to keep on good terms with him, Mrs. Drummond," said Walter,
earnestly, "if only in return for his mother's kindness."

"I am sure Joshua was hasty, and misjudged Walter," said the mother to
herself, trying to find an excuse for her son.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE ARROW AND THE PIONEER.


After this Joshua was more careful about annoying Walter. Though he was
older, and a little taller than our hero, he had found to his cost that
he was not a match for him in strength. He had also made the unwelcome
discovery that Walter did not intend to be imposed upon. So, though he
ventured to sneer at times, he thought it best to stop short of open
insult. There was also another motive which influenced him. His father
forbade him in tones more decided than usual to interfere with Walter,
whose services he was anxious to retain in the store. Mr. Drummond also
had another reason for this command. He thought that Walter might be
mistaken as to the state of his father's affairs, and that a few
thousand dollars might be rescued by his executor from the ruin. In that
case, there would be a chance of his obtaining control of Walter's
property during his minority.

The picnic came off on Saturday afternoon. The weather, which often
throws a wet blanket upon the festivities of such occasions, was highly
propitious, and several hundred persons, young and middle-aged, turned
out _en masse_. The place selected for the picnic was a field of several
acres, bordering upon a pond. This had been fitted up by the proprietor
with swings, and a roofed building without sides, under which were
placed rough board tables for the reception of provisions. A number of
oak trees with their broad branches furnished shelter.

Besides these arrangements for enjoyment, there were two boats confined
by iron chains, which were thrown around trees near the brink of the
water.

After enjoying the swing for a time, there was a proposition to go out
in the boats.

The boats could comfortably accommodate eight persons each. This number
had been obtained, when Joshua came up.

"I'm going," he said unceremoniously.

"You will have to wait till next time," said Ralph Morse. "We've got
the full number."

"No, I'm going this time," said Joshua, rudely.

"I don't believe there's room. We have eight already."

"There's room for nine. If there isn't you can wait till next time
yourself. Besides, you want me to steer."

"Do you know how to steer?"

"Of course I do," said Joshua, boastfully.

"I guess we can make room," said Mary Meyer, who was always in favor of
peaceful measures.

Joshua clambered in, and took his place as steersman.

The other boat had already set off, and, as it happened, under the
guidance of Walter Conrad, who had long been accustomed to managing a
boat, having had one of his own at home.

"They've got a great steerer on the other boat," said Joshua, sneering.

"It's your cousin, isn't it? Doesn't he know how to steer?"

"About as well as an old cat. He thinks he does, though."

Attention was thus directed to the other boat, which was making easy
progress through the water.

"I don't see but he manages well enough," said Rudolph, after watching
it for a moment.

"Oh, it's easy enough steering here. Wait till we get out a little way."

"Where are you steering, Joshua?" asked Ralph, suddenly, for the boat
nearly half turned round. The fact was that Joshua himself knew very
little about steering. In speaking of Walter's want of skill, he had
precisely described himself.

"I understand what I'm about," answered Joshua, suddenly reversing the
direction, and overdoing the matter, so as to turn the boat half way
round the other way.

"I hope you do," said Ralph, "but it don't look much like it."

"I was looking at the other boat," Joshua condescended to explain, "and
the rudder slipped."

Walter's boat kept the lead. His perfect steering made the task easier
for the rowers, who got the full advantage of their efforts. Joshua,
however, by his uncertain steering, hindered the progress of his boat.

"Can't we beat the other boat?" asked Joseph Wheeler, who was rowing. "I
can row as well as either of those fellows."

"So can I," said Tom Barry; "let's try."

The boats were about five lengths apart, the rowers in the foremost boat
not having worked very hard, when Tom and Joe began to exert themselves.
Their intention was soon manifest, and the spirit of rivalry was
excited.

"Do your best, boys!" said Walter. "They're trying to catch us. Don't
let them do it."

The rowers of the two boats were about evenly matched. If anything,
however, Tom and Joe were superior, and, other things being equal, would
sooner or later have won the race. But Joshua, by his original style of
steering, which became under the influence of excitement even more
unreliable, caused them to lose perceptibly.

"Can't you steer straight by accident, Joshua?" asked Tom, in a tone of
vexation.

"I know more about steering than you do, Tom Barry," growled Joshua,
getting red in the face, for he could not help seeing that he was not
appearing to advantage.

"Show it, then, if you do," was the reply. "If we had your cousin to
steer us, we could soon get ahead."

This was very mortifying to Joshua. He did not care to be outdone by any
one, but to be outdone by Walter was particularly disagreeable.

"It isn't the steering, it's the rowing," he said. "You don't row even."

"Won't you try it, then," said Joe, "and show us what you can do?"

"No, I'd rather steer."

Joshua considered that the steersman's place was the place of honor, and
he was not disposed to yield it.

Meanwhile Walter, from his place in the first boat, watched the efforts
of his rivals. He was determined to keep the lead which he had secured,
and had little fear of losing it.

"Give way, boys!" he cried; "we'll distance them, never fear!"

Every moment increased the distance between the two boats, to the great
satisfaction of those on board the "Arrow," for that was the name of the
head boat.

Just at the north-western corner of the pond there was an inlet of
considerable length, but narrow. Here the water was shallower than in
the remainder of the pond.

"Shall we go in there?" asked Walter.

"Yes, yes," said his fellow-passengers.

Accordingly he steered in, and shortly afterwards the "Pioneer,"
Joshua's boat, also entered. At this time the distance between the two
boats was quite two hundred feet.

The "Arrow" pursued her way steadily to the head of the inlet, a
distance of nearly a quarter of a mile; and then making a graceful turn,
started on her homeward trip. The width of the inlet here was very much
contracted. After making the turn the "Arrow" met the "Pioneer" after a
little distance. There was abundant room for the boats to pass each
other, if they had been properly managed. There was no fault in Walter's
steering, but, by an awkward blunder of Joshua's, the "Pioneer" veered
in her course so that the "Arrow" struck her, to use a nautical term,
amidships. As she was being impelled rapidly at the time, the shock was
considerable, and the fright still greater. The girls jumped to their
feet screaming, and Joshua himself turned pale with fright, but
recovered himself sufficiently to call out angrily, "What made you run
into us, you fool?"

"It's your own fault, Joshua," said Tom Barry, angrily. "You're the most
stupid steerer I ever saw. What made you turn the boat?"

"It's his fault," said Joshua, doggedly.

"Let somebody else steer," said Joe Wheeler. "A baby could steer better
than he."

So a younger boy was put in Joshua's place, much to his mortification,
and he was degraded, as he considered it, to the rank of a passenger.

"I'm going ashore," he said sourly. "Let me out up here."

"All right!" said Tom Barry. "I guess we can get along without you.
Here, you fellows on the "Arrow," just wait a minute, till we've landed
Joshua, and we'll race you back."

True to his determination, Joshua jumped off at the head of the inlet,
and the "Pioneer" was turned by her new pilot.

The "Arrow" and the "Pioneer" took their places side by side, and the
race commenced. The boats were similar, and thus neither had the
advantage on this score. But the rowers on the "Pioneer" were on the
whole stronger and more skilful than those on the "Arrow." On the other
hand, Walter steered perfectly, while Joshua's successor, though he made
no bad blunder, was a novice.

The result was that the race was a clear one. Finally the "Arrow" came
in a length ahead, and Walter felt with quiet satisfaction that the
victory had been gained by his efforts.

He thought once more of the song he had heard, and hoped that he would
be as successful through life in paddling his own canoe.

Joshua went home sulky, and was not seen again on the picnic grounds.



CHAPTER XIV.

A BRILLIANT SCHEME.


One morning, a few days later, Joshua was walking moodily up the village
road with his hands in his pockets. He was reflecting, in a spirit of
great discontent, on the hardships of his situation.

"Here am I," he said to himself, "eighteen years old, and father treats
me like a boy of ten. I'm most a man, and all he gives me for
pocket-money is twenty-five cents a week. There's Dick Storrs, whose
father isn't a quarter as rich as mine, gets a dollar a week. He's only
sixteen, too."

One important difference between himself and Dick Storrs did not occur
to Joshua. Dick worked in a shoe-shop, and it was out of his own wages
that his father allowed him a dollar a week. Joshua earned nothing at
all.

"It's mean!" reflected Joshua. "There aint a boy of my age in Stapleton
that's so meanly treated, and yet my father's the richest man in town.
I wish I knew what to do to get a little money."

At this moment he saw Sam Crawford approaching him. Sam was perhaps a
year younger than Joshua. He had formerly lived in the village, but was
now in a situation in New York, and was only in Stapleton for a few
days.

"How are you, Joshua?" said Sam.

"Well enough," said Joshua. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going round to the ice-cream saloon. Won't you come with me?"

"Yes, if you'll treat. I haven't got any money."

"You ought to have. The old man's got plenty."

"That's so. But he's getting meaner every day. What do you think he
allows me for spending money?"

"I don't know. A dollar a week?"

"A dollar! I should think myself lucky if I got anywhere near that. What
do you say to twenty-five cents?"

"You don't mean to say that's all he gives you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Why, I can't get along on ten times that. Why don't you ask for more?"

"I have, fifty times; but that's all the good it does."

"If my father treated me like that, I'd cut his acquaintance."

"I don't know as that would do me any good," said Joshua, rather
sensibly. "I wish I knew of any way of getting some money."

"You might hire out to saw wood for the neighbors," said Sam.

"I haven't got so low as that," said Joshua, haughtily.

"Of course I meant that in joke; but you might get a place, and earn
some money."

This suggestion, however, did not suit Joshua, for it carried with it
the idea of work, and he was as lazy as he was selfish; which is saying
as much as can well be said on that point.

"The old man ought to give me enough to spend, without work," he said.
"He don't spend more than a third of his income."

"He's saving it up for you."

"I'm not likely to get it for a good many years," said Joshua, who
actually seemed to be angry with his father for living so long. However,
though it is doubtful whether Joshua would have been a dutiful or
affectionate son under any circumstances, it must be admitted that Mr.
Drummond had done very little to inspire filial affection.

"Look here!" said Sam, suddenly, "I have an idea. Did you ever buy a
lottery ticket?"

"No," answered Joshua.

"There's a fellow I know in New York that drew a prize of a thousand
dollars, and how much do you think he paid for a ticket?"

"I don't know."

"Five dollars. How's that for high?"

"How long ago is that?" asked Joshua, becoming interested.

"Only two months ago."

"Do you know him?"

"Yes, I know him as well as I know you. He is clerk in a store just
opposite ours. When he got the money he gave half a dozen of us a big
dinner at Delmonico's. We had a jolly time."

"A thousand dollars for five!" repeated Joshua. "He was awfully lucky.
What lottery was it?"

"It was one of the Delaware lotteries."

"Do you know the name of it?"

"No, but I'll tell you what I'll do. The fellow I was speaking of gets
lottery papers regularly. I'll ask him for one, and send it to you as
soon as I get back to the city."

"I wish you would," said Joshua. "Wouldn't it be splendid if I could
draw a prize of a thousand dollars?"

"I'll bet it would. It would make you independent of the old man. You
wouldn't care much for his twenty-five cents a week then?"

"No, I'd tell him he might keep it till he got rich enough to afford me
more."

"He'd open his eyes a little at that, I reckon."

"I guess he would. When are you going back to the city?"

"The last of this month. My time will be up then."

"You won't forget to send me the paper?"

"No, I'll remember it. Come in and have an ice-cream. You can return the
compliment when you've drawn a prize."

"All right! Is a thousand dollars the highest prize?"

"No, there are some of two, three, and five thousand. Then there are
five-hundred-dollar prizes, and so along to five dollars. Five hundred
wouldn't be so bad, eh?"

"No, I should feel satisfied with that. I would come up to New York, and
spend a week."

"If you do, just step in upon me, and I'll show you round. I know the
ropes."

"I wish I could," said Joshua, enviously. "This is an awfully stupid
place. I tried to get leave to go to the city last fall, but the old man
wouldn't let me. He wasn't willing to spend the money."

I hope none of my readers will so admire the character of Joshua
Drummond as to imitate him in the disrespectful manner in which he
speaks of his father. Yet I am aware that many boys and young men, who
are not without respect and affection for their parents, have fallen
into the very discreditable way of referring to them as "the old man" or
"the old woman." They may be sure that such a habit will prejudice
against them all persons of right feeling.

Joshua and Sam went into the ice-cream saloon, which was kept, during
the summer only, in a small candy store, by a maiden lady who eked out a
scanty income by such limited patronage as the village could afford.
Joshua plied his companion with further questions, to all of which he
readily replied, though it is doubtful whether all the answers were
quite correct. But Sam, having been in the city a few months, wished to
be thought to have a very extensive acquaintance with it, and was
unwilling to admit ignorance on any point.

Early the next week Sam returned to his duties in the city, and Joshua
awaited impatiently the promised lottery papers.

Sam did not forget his promise. On the third day after his departure a
paper came to the village post-office, directed.


     "Joshua Drummond, Esq.,
     Stapleton."


This was promptly taken from the office by Joshua, who had called on an
average twice a day for this very paper. It proved to be printed on
yellow paper, and fairly bristled with figures, indicating the large
sums which were weekly distributed all over the country by the
benevolent managers of the lottery. Here was a scheme in which the
principal prize was but a thousand dollars. However, the tickets were
but a dollar each, and a thousand dollars for one was certainly a
handsome return for a small outlay. There were others, however, in which
the principal prize was five thousand dollars, and the tickets were, in
due proportion, five dollars each.

Joshua went off to a somewhat secluded place, for he did not wish to be
interrupted, and eagerly read the paper through from beginning to end.
Certainly the representations made were of a very seductive character.
One might suppose, from reading the paragraphs sandwiching the several
schemes, that the chances were strongly in favor of every holder of a
ticket drawing a prize, though a little calculation would have shown
that the chances of drawing even the smallest prize were scarcely more
than one in a hundred. Here, for instance, is one of the paragraphs:--

"A mechanic in a country town in New York State met with an accident
which confined him to his home for three months. He had a large family
of children, and had never been able to lay up any money. The
consequence was, that the family was reduced to great distress, and he
saw no resource except to try to borrow a little money, which would
create a debt that he might be years in paying off. But fortunately,
only a week before the accident, his wife had seen one of our
advertisements. She had five dollars by her, which she had intended to
appropriate to the purchase of a new dress. Instead of doing this, a
happy impulse led her to send for one of our tickets. She concealed this
from her husband, however, thinking that he would blame her. What was
her joy, when they were reduced to their last dollar, to receive from us
intelligence that she had drawn a prize of two thousand dollars! The
joy of the poor family can better be imagined than described. They were
enabled at once to purchase the house in which they lived, and thus to
lay the foundation of permanent prosperity. Thus, as in numberless other
cases, have we been the means of bringing joy to lucky households."

Now, this story was probably manufactured out of whole cloth. At any
rate, even if true, for every such fortunate household there were a
hundred to which the lottery had carried disappointment and privation.
But of course the lottery managers could not be expected to allude to
these, nor did Joshua, as he greedily read such paragraphs, consider
them. On the contrary, his imagination and cupidity were both excited,
and he was foolish enough to suppose that his chances of success in case
he invested would be very good indeed.



CHAPTER XV.

WAYS AND MEANS.


Having decided to purchase a lottery ticket, the important question
suggested itself, "Where was he to obtain the necessary five dollars?"

To most boys or young men of eighteen this would not have been a
difficult question to solve. But to Joshua it was a perplexing problem.
If he saved his entire weekly allowance, it would take him twenty weeks
to obtain the needed sum. This delay was not to be thought of. Was there
any pretext on which he could ask his father for five dollars? He could
think of none that would be likely to succeed. Had he been trusted with
the purchase of his own clothes, he might have asked for a new coat and
misapplied the money; but Mr. Drummond took care to order Joshua's
clothes himself from the village tailor, and never did so without
grumbling at the expense he was obliged to incur. Indeed, Joshua was
not able to boast much of his clothes, for his father was not disposed
to encourage extravagance in dress.

"Perhaps mother may have the money," thought Joshua. "If she has, I'll
get it out of her."

He resolved at once to find out whether any help was to be obtained from
this quarter, and with this object turned his steps at once homeward.

Mrs. Drummond was engaged in the homely employment of darning stockings
when Joshua entered the house.

"You're home early, Joshua," she remarked, looking up.

"Yes, mother. Have you got anything good to eat?"

"I baked a small pie for you in a saucer. I thought that was the best
way. The other evening your father noticed that a piece was gone from
the half pie that was taken from the supper-table."

"How awful mean he is!"

"You shouldn't say that of your father, Joshua."

"It's true, mother, and you know it. He's the meanest man in town."

"I don't like to hear you talk in that way, Joshua. Don't forget that
he is your father."

"I wish he'd treat me like a father, then. I leave it to you, mother, if
twenty-five cents a week isn't a miserable allowance for a fellow of my
age."

"It is rather small," said Mrs. Drummond, cautiously.

"Small! I should think it was. It's just about right for a boy of ten.
That's just the way he treats me."

"Perhaps, if you would speak to your father about it, Joshua--"

"I have spoken to him, and that's all the good it does. He blows me up
for my extravagance. Extravagance on twenty-five cents a week!"

"I'll speak to him myself, Joshua," said his mother;--a heroic resolve,
for she knew that the request would bring anger upon herself.

"He won't mind your talk any more than mine. But I'll tell you what you
can do to oblige me, mother."

"Well, Joshua?"

"I know of a way to make considerable money, and all I need to go into
it is five dollars. If you'll lend me that, I'll pay it back to you as
soon as I can. I think it won't be more than a fortnight."

"What is the plan you are thinking of, Joshua?"

But upon this subject Joshua thought it best to preserve a discreet
silence. He knew that the lottery scheme would not impress his mother
favorably, and that she would not lend the money for any such purpose.
He was aware in what light lotteries are generally regarded. Still his
imagination had been inflamed by the stories he had read of other
persons' luck, and he had succeeded in convincing himself that his own
chance would be very good. Thus he referred to it, in speaking to his
mother, as if he were sure of obtaining a large amount for his
investment.

"I can't tell you just at present, mother," he said; "the fact is,
somebody else is concerned in it, and I am not allowed to tell."

"I hope, Joshua, you have not allowed yourself to be imposed upon. You
know you are not used to business."

"I know what I'm about, mother. I'm not a baby. All I want is the
money. Can you lend me five dollars?"

"I wish I could; but you know your father doesn't allow me much money. I
get my dress patterns and most of what I want out of the store, so I
don't need it."

"You have to buy things for the house,--groceries, and so on."

"We have a bill at the grocery store. Your father pays it quarterly; so
no money passes through my hands for that purpose."

"Then you haven't got the money, mother," said Joshua, disappointed.

"I haven't had as much as five dollars in my possession at one time for
years," answered his mother.

It was true that Mr. Drummond kept his wife uncommonly close. She was
allowed to obtain a limited amount of goods from the store for her own
wardrobe, but apart from that her husband appeared to think she had no
need of money. More than once she wished she could have a little money
at her control to answer occasional calls for charity. But on one
occasion, having been indiscreet enough to give twenty-five cents and a
good meal to a woman, sick and poor, who crawled to her door and asked
for help, Mr. Drummond indulged in such a display of ill-humor at her
foolish extravagance, as he called it, that she was forced afterwards to
deny her generous impulses, or give in the most secret manner, pledging
the recipient to silence.

"I'm sorry I can't oblige you, Joshua," said his mother. "Will you have
the pie?"

"Yes," said Joshua, sullenly, for he was at a loss where next to apply,
and felt that his scheme of sudden riches was blighted at its inception.
Notwithstanding his disappointment, however, he was able to dispose of
the pie. After consuming it, he went out of doors, to reflect upon other
ways of raising the necessary money.

There was his cousin Walter; he was quite sure that he had the money,
but quite as sure that he would not lend it. Besides, he would have
hesitated to apply, on account of the dislike he had come to entertain
for our hero. This dislike had been increased by the result of the boat
race between the "Pioneer" and the "Arrow." He had occasion to know
that the defeat of the former boat was generally ascribed to his own
imperfect steering, and he also knew that Walter had obtained
considerable credit for his own performance in the same line. Now Joshua
knew in his own heart that he could not steer, but he wanted the
reputation of steering well, and it was very irksome to him to have to
play second fiddle to Walter. He had indicated his dislike ever since by
refusing to notice or speak to Walter, except in so far as it was
absolutely necessary. Of course Walter noticed this want of cordiality,
and was in a measure sorry for it; still he had become pretty thoroughly
acquainted with Joshua's character by this time, and this knowledge led
him to feel that the loss of his friendship was not a very serious one.
He had made some other acquaintances, in the village, with boys of his
own age, in whose society he found considerable more pleasure than he
was ever likely to do in Joshua's.

"He can go his way, and I'll go mine," he said to himself. "I'll paddle
my own canoe, and he may paddle his. Perhaps he will succeed better in
that than in steering," he thought with a smile.

Help from Walter, therefore, was not to be expected. Was there any one
else to help him?

Joshua thought doubtfully of his father's clerk, young Nichols, who has
already been introduced to the reader. He did not think there was much
prospect of obtaining a loan from Nichols; still there might be. At any
rate there seemed no other resource, and he made up his mind to sound
him.

He stepped into the store one day when Walter was absent on an errand,
and his father was out also.

"Good-morning, Joshua," said the salesman. "What's up this morning?"

"Nothing that I know of."

"You have an easy time. Nothing to do but to lounge about all day. You
aint cooped up in a store fourteen hours a day."

"That's so; but I suppose I'll have to begin some time."

"Oh, you're all right. Your father's getting richer every year."

"Yes, I suppose he is; but that doesn't give me ready money now. The
fact is, I'm hard up for five dollars. Can't you lend it to me for a
week? I'll give it back in a week, or ten days at any rate."

"You couldn't come to a worse place for money," said Nichols, laughing.
"The fact is, I'm hard up myself, and always am. Old Jones, the tailor,
is dunning me for this very suit I have on. Fact is, my salary is so
small, I have the hardest kind of work to get along."

"Then you can't lend me the money? It's for only a week I want it."

"I've got less than a dollar in my pocket, and I'm owing about fifty
dollars to the tailor and shoemaker. Perhaps Walter can lend you the
money."

"I shan't ask him," said Joshua, shortly. "I'll go without first."

"Don't you like him?"

"No, I don't. He's a mean fellow."

Nichols was privately of the opinion that the term described Joshua
himself much more aptly, but did not express his opinion.



CHAPTER XVI.

JOSHUA TRIES KEEPING STORE.


The more Joshua thought it over, the more convinced he was that a large
sum of money was likely to come to him through the lottery, if he could
only manage to raise money enough to buy a ticket. But the problem of
how to get the necessary five dollars he was as far as ever from
solving.

While in this state of mind he happened one day to be in the store at
noon, and alone. Nichols, the head clerk, wished to go to dinner, and
was only waiting for Walter to get back from an errand.

"I wish Walter would hurry up," he grumbled. "My dinner will get cold."

"I'll take your place till he gets back, Mr. Nichols," said Joshua, with
extraordinary kindness for him.

[Illustration]

"Much obliged, Joshua," said the salesman. "I'll do as much for you
another time. I don't think you'll have long to wait."

"You'd better hurry off," said Joshua. "I'd just as lief wait as not."

"I never knew him so accommodating before," thought Nichols, with a
feeling of surprise.

He seized his hat and hurried away.

No sooner had he gone than Joshua, after following him to the door, and
looking carefully up and down the street, walked behind the counter with
a hasty step, and opened the money-drawer.

There was a small pile of bills in one compartment, and in the other a
collection of currency. He took the bills into his hand, and looked over
them. His hands trembled a little, for he contemplated a dishonest act.
Unable to obtain the money in any other way, he meant to borrow (that
was what he called it) five dollars from the money-drawer, and expend it
in a lottery ticket.

Singling out a five-dollar bill from the pile, he thrust it into his
vest-pocket. He had scarcely done so when he was startled by hearing the
door open. He made a guilty jump, but perceived, to his relief, that it
was a woman not living in the village, but probably in some adjoining
town.

"What can I show you, ma'am?" he asked, in a flurried manner, for he
could not help thinking of what he had in his vest-pocket.

"I should like to look at some of your shawls," said the woman.

Joshua knew very little about his father's stock. He did know, however,
where the shawls were kept, and going to that portion of the shelves,
pulled down half a dozen and showed them to his customer.

"Are they all wool?" she asked, critically examining one of them.

"Yes," answered Joshua, confidently, though he had not the slightest
knowledge on the subject.

"What is the price of this one?" asked the customer, indicating the one
she had in her hand.

"Five dollars," answered Joshua, with some hesitation. He knew nothing
of the price, but guessed that this would be about right.

"And you say it is all wool?"

"Certainly, ma'am."

"I guess I'll take it. Will you wrap it up for me?"

This Joshua did awkwardly enough, and the customer departed, much
pleased with her bargain, as she had a right to be, for the real price
of the shawl was nine dollars, but, thanks to Joshua's ignorance, she
had been able to save four.

Joshua looked at the five-dollar bill he had just received, and a new
idea occurred to him. He replaced in the drawer the bill he had
originally taken from it, and substituted that just received.

"I won't say anything about having sold a shawl," he said, "and
father'll never know that one has been sold. At any rate, not till I get
money enough to replace the bill I have taken."

Just then a little girl came in and inquired for a spool of cotton.

Joshua found the spools, and let her select one.

"How much is it?" asked the young customer.

"Ten cents."

"Mother told me it wouldn't be but six."

"Very well, if that is all you expect to pay, you shall have it for
that."

"Thank you, sir;" and the little girl departed with her purchase.

Joshua now hurriedly folded up the shawls and replaced them on the
shelves. He had just finished the task when Walter entered.

"Are you tending store?" he said, in surprise.

"Yes," said Joshua. "Nichols got tired waiting for you, so I told him
I'd stay till you got back."

"I had some distance to go, and that detained me. Did you have any
customers?"

"Yes, I just sold a spool of cotton to a little girl."

"I met her a little way up the road, holding the spool in her hand."

"Well," said Joshua, "I guess I'll go, now you've got back."

He went across the street to his father's house, and, going up into his
own room, locked the door, not wishing to be interrupted. Then, opening
his desk, he took out a sheet of paper, and wrote a note to the address
given in his lottery circular, requesting the parties to send him by
return of mail a lottery ticket. He added, shrewdly as he thought, "If
this ticket draws a prize, I will keep on buying; but if it don't I
shall get discouraged and stop."

"I guess that'll fetch 'em," thought Joshua. He folded up the paper,
and, inclosing the bill, directed it.

The next thing to do was to mail it.

Now this seemed a very simple thing, but it really occasioned
considerable trouble. The postmaster in a small village can generally
identify many of the correspondents who send letters through his office
by their handwriting. He knew Joshua's, and such a letter as this would
attract his attention and set him to gossiping. Considering the
circumstances under which he obtained the money, this was hardly
desirable, and Joshua therefore decided, though unwillingly, on account
of the trouble, to walk to the next post-office, a distance of three
miles, and post his letter there.

He came downstairs with his letter in his pocket. "Where are you going,
Joshua?" asked his mother.

"Going out to walk," said Joshua, shortly.

"I wanted to send a little bundle to Mr. Faulkner's, but that is too
far off."

"I'll carry it," said Joshua.

Mrs. Drummond was astonished at this unusual spirit of accommodation,
for Joshua was, in general, far from obliging. The truth was, however,
that, though Mr. Faulkner lived over a mile and a quarter distant, it
was on his way to the post-office.

"Thank you, Joshua," said Mrs. Drummond. "I was afraid you wouldn't be
willing to go so far."

"I feel just like taking a long walk to-day, mother."

"Here is the bundle. I will bake a little pie for you while you are
gone."

So things seemed to be working very smoothly for Joshua, and he set out
on his three-mile walk in very good spirits. His walk he knew would make
him hungry, and the pie which his mother promised him would be very
acceptable on his return.

Arrived in front of Mr. Faulkner's, he saw Frank Faulkner, a boy of
twelve, playing outside.

"Frank," called out Joshua, "here's a bundle I want you to carry into
the house. Tell your folks my mother sent it."

"All right," said Frank, and he carried it in.

Joshua proceeded on his way, and finally reached the post-office.

"Give me a three-cent postage-stamp," he said to the postmaster.

This was speedily affixed to the letter, and, after resting a short
time, he set out on his walk homeward.

Reaching the house of Mr. Faulkner, he was hailed by Frank, who was
still playing outside.

"Where have you been, Joshua?"

Joshua was not desirous of having it known where he had been, and he
answered, in the surly manner characteristic of him, "What business is
that of yours?"

"Where did you learn manners?" asked Frank, who was a sturdy scion of
Young America, and quite disposed to stand up for his rights.

"If you're impudent, I'll give you a licking," growled Joshua.

"Next time you come along this way, you may take in your own bundles,"
retorted Frank.

"If I had a stick, I'd give you something you wouldn't like."

"You'd have to catch me first," said Frank.

Joshua's temper, which was none of the sweetest, was by this time
roused, and he started in pursuit of Frank, but the younger boy dodged
so adroitly as to baffle his pursuit. In attempting to catch him,
indeed, Joshua stubbed his toe violently against a projecting root, and
measured his length by the roadside.

"Who's down, I wonder?" asked Frank, scrambling over the fence, where he
felt safe.

"I'll wring your neck some time, you young imp!" exclaimed Joshua,
gathering himself up slowly and painfully, and shaking his fist
vindictively at Frank.

"I'll wait till you're ready," returned Frank. "I'm in no hurry."

At length Joshua reached home, feeling tired and provoked, but
congratulating himself that he had taken the first step towards the
grand prize which loomed in dazzling prospect before his eyes.



CHAPTER XVII.

JOSHUA'S DISAPPOINTMENT.


In due time, to Joshua's great delight, the lottery ticket reached him.
It was several days in coming, and he had almost given it up, but the
sight of it raised his spirits to the highest pitch. It seemed to him
the first step to a fortune. He began at once to indulge in dazzling
visions of what he would do when the prize came to hand; how the "old
man" would be astonished and treat him with increased respect; how he
would go to the city and have a good time seeing the lions, and from
henceforth throw off the galling yoke of dependence which his father's
parsimony had made it so hard to bear.

Whenever he was by himself, he used to pull out the ticket and gaze at
it with the greatest satisfaction, as the key that was to unlock the
portals of Fortune, Independence, and Happiness.

He had been afraid that his appropriation of five dollars would be
detected, and every time his father entered the house he looked into his
face with some apprehension; but days rolled by, and nothing was heard.
He congratulated himself that he had been able to sell the shawl for
precisely the sum he needed, otherwise the money might have been missed
that very night. As it was, neither the shawl nor the bill had been
missed.

About this time he received a letter from Sam Crawford, describing the
gayeties of the city. It closed thus:--

"By the way, Josh, when are you coming up to the city, to take a look at
the lions? It's a shame that a young man of your age should be cooped up
in an insignificant little village like Stapleton. I wouldn't exchange
the knowledge of the world I have obtained here for five hundred
dollars! What a green rustic I was when I first came here! But it didn't
take me long to find the way round, and now I know the ropes as well as
the next man. I generally play billiards in the evening, and, if I do
say it myself, I am rather hard to beat. When you come up, I'll give you
a few lessons. I can't help pitying you for leading such a slow,
humdrum life in the country. I should be moped to death if I were in
your place. Can't you induce the old man to fork over the stamps, and
come up here, if only for a week?"

This letter had the effect of making Joshua very much disgusted with
Stapleton. Brilliant visions of city life and city enjoyments flitted
before his eyes, and he felt that nothing was needed to make a man of
him except the knowledge of life which a city residence would be sure to
give.

"It's all true what Sam says," he soliloquized. "A man can't learn
anything of life here. No wonder he looks upon me as a green rustic. How
can I be anything else in this miserable little village? But as for the
old man's paying my expenses on a visit, he's too mean for that. But
then there is the lottery ticket. Just as soon as I get hold of my
prize, I'll go on my own hook."

I append a passage from Joshua's reply to Sam's letter:--


     "There isn't any chance of the old man's forking over stamps enough
     to pay for my visit to New York. He's too thundering mean for
     that. All he cares for is to make money. _But I'm coming, for all
     that._ I've bought a lottery ticket, as you advised, and just as
     soon as I get hold of the prize, I shall come and make you a visit.
     I should like very much to learn billiards. I wish there was a
     billiard table in Stapleton, though it wouldn't do me much good if
     there were, the old man keeps me so close. I shall be glad when I
     am twenty-one. I don't see why he can't let me have a few thousand
     dollars then, and set me up in business in the city. Perhaps we
     could go in together as partners. However, there is no use in
     talking about him, for he won't do it. _But I may get hold of the
     money some other way._ Would five thousand dollars be enough to set
     a fellow up in business in New York?

     "You will hear from me again soon. I hope I shall be able to write
     you that I am coming to see you.

     "Your friend,
     "JOSHUA DRUMMOND."


It will be seen that Joshua was willing to go into business for himself,
though he did not care to take a situation. He had the idea, which I
think is entertained by a large number of boys and young men, that an
employer has nothing to do but to sit at his desk, count over his money,
and order his clerks around. For such an employment as this Joshua felt
that he was well adapted, and would very much have enjoyed the sense of
importance it would give him. But Joshua made a great mistake. Many
employers look back upon the years which they passed as clerks as years
of comparative leisure and ease, certainly of freedom from anxiety. They
find that they have a heavy price to pay for the privilege of being
their own masters, and the masters of others. But Joshua was thoroughly
lazy, and it was this feeling that dictated the wish which he expressed
in his letter to Sam Crawford.

The days passed very slowly, it must be acknowledged. Joshua was in a
restless and excited state. Though he expected to draw a prize, he knew
that there was a remote chance of failing to draw anything, and he
wanted the matter decided.

But at length the long-expected letter arrived. Joshua did not like to
open it in the post-office, lest it should attract the attention of the
postmaster. He therefore withdrew to a place where he was not likely to
be disturbed, and with trembling fingers opened the letter.

Something dropped out.

"I wonder if it is a check?" thought Joshua, stooping over and picking
it up.

But no, it was an announcement of the drawing.

Joshua's numbers,--for each lottery ticket contains three numbers,--were
9, 15, 50. But of the thirteen lucky numbers drawn out of sixty-five,
neither of them was one.

Slowly it dawned upon Joshua that he had drawn nothing, that his five
dollars had been absolutely thrown away. But there was a letter. Perhaps
this would explain it.

Joshua read as follows:--


     "DEAR SIR:--We regret to say that we are unable to send you a prize
     this time. We hope, however, you will not be discouraged. Some of
     our patrons who have been most fortunate have commenced by being
     unlucky. Indeed, singularly enough, this is a general rule. Let us
     cite an instance. Mr. B----, of your State, bought his first ticket
     of us last spring. It turned out a blank. We wrote him not to be
     discouraged, but we did not hear from him for some weeks. Finally
     he sent us a remittance for a ticket, adding that he sent it with a
     very faint hope of success. He was convinced that he was born to
     ill-luck. But what was the result? In less than a fortnight we had
     the pleasure and gratification of sending him five thousand
     dollars, minus our usual commission. Suppose he had been
     discouraged by a first failure, you can see how much he would have
     lost.

     "Hoping to hear from you again, and to send you in return better
     news, we subscribe ourselves,

     "Very respectfully,
     "GRABB & CO."


The effect of Joshua's ill success was to make him very despondent.

"It's all very well to say 'Try again,'" he said to himself, "but where
can I get the money? That five dollars is thrown away, and I've got
nothing to show for it."

He thought of all he had intended to do, and now his castles had
crumbled, and all in consequence of this letter. He had been so sanguine
of success. Now he must write to Sam that his visit to New York was
indefinitely postponed, that is, unless he could induce his father to
provide him with money enough to go. The prospect was not very
encouraging, but he felt desperate, and he determined to make the
attempt.

Accordingly, just after supper, he detained his father, just as he was
returning to the store, and said:--

"Father, I wish you'd let me go to New York on a visit."

"What for?" asked Mr. Drummond, elevating his brows.

"Because I'm eighteen years old, and I've never been there yet."

"Then, if you've gone eighteen years without seeing the city, I think
you can go a while longer," said his father, under the impression that
he had made a witty remark. But Joshua did not appreciate the humor of
it.

"I've lived in Stapleton ever since I was born," grumbled Joshua, "and
have got tired of it. I want to see something of life."

"Do you? Well, I'm sure I've no objection."

"May I go then?"

"Yes."

"When?" asked Joshua, joyfully.

"To-morrow, if you like; but of course you will pay your own expenses."

"How can I?" exclaimed Joshua, in angry disappointment. "I have no
money."

"Then you can save up your allowance till you have enough."

"Save up on twenty-five cents a week! I couldn't go till I was an old
man!"

"I know of no other way," said Mr. Drummond, with provoking
indifference, "unless you earn the money in some way."

"You treat me like a little boy!" said Joshua, angrily.

"You are better off than I am. I have to work for all I get. You get
your board, clothes, and pocket-money for nothing."

"Other boys go to New York when they are much younger."

"I have told you you can go when you like, but you mustn't expect me to
supply the money."

Mr. Drummond put on his hat and crossed the street to the store, leaving
Joshua in a very unfilial frame of mind.



CHAPTER XVIII.

WALTER FINDS HIMSELF IN HOT WATER.


Two days later two women entered Mr. Drummond's store. One was Joshua's
customer, and she wore the same shawl which she had purchased of him.

It happened that Walter was out, but Mr. Drummond and Nichols were both
behind the counter.

"Have you got any more shawls like this?" asked the first lady, whom we
will call Mrs. Blake. "Mrs. Spicer, who is a neighbor of mine, liked it
so well that she wants to get another just like it."

This was addressed to Mr. Drummond, who happened to be nearest the door.

"Did you buy this shawl of us?" asked Mr. Drummond.

"Yes, sir. I bought it about a fortnight ago, and paid five dollars for
it."

"Five dollars! There must be some mistake. We never sell such a shawl
as that for less than ten dollars."

"I can't help it," said Mrs. Blake, positively. "I bought it here, and
paid five dollars for it."

"Why, those shawls cost me seven dollars and a half at wholesale. It is
not likely I would sell them for five."

"I didn't buy it of you."

"Mr. Nichols," said Mr. Drummond, "did you sell this lady the shawl she
is wearing, for five dollars?"

"No, sir; have not sold a shawl like that for two months. I know the
price well enough, and I wouldn't sell it for less than ten dollars."

"I didn't buy it of him, I bought it of a boy," said Mrs. Blake.

"It must have been that stupid Conrad," exclaimed Mr. Drummond, angrily.
"Wait till he comes in, and I'll haul him over the coals."

"Then you won't let my friend have another like it for five dollars?"

"No," said Mr. Drummond, provoked. "I don't do business that way. I've
lost nearly three dollars by that shawl of yours. You ought to make up
the wholesale price to me."

"I shan't do it," said Mrs. Blake. "If you've made a mistake, it's your
lookout. I wasn't willing to pay more than five dollars."

The two ladies were about to leave the store when Mr. Drummond said,
"The boy will be back directly. I wish you would wait a few minutes, so
that if he denies it you can prove it upon him."

"I've got a call to make," said Mrs. Blake, "but I'll come in again in
about an hour."

They left the store, and Mr. Drummond began to berate the absent Walter.
He was provoked to find that he had lost two dollars and a half, and, if
Walter had been in receipt of any wages, would have stopped the amount
out of his salary. But, unfortunately for this plan of reprisal, our
hero received his board only, and that could not very well be levied
upon. However, he might have some money in his possession, and Mr.
Drummond decided to require him to make up the loss.

"When did she say she bought the shawl, Mr. Nichols?" asked his
employer.

"About a fortnight ago."

"Will you look on the books, and see if you find the sale recorded? I am
surprised that it escaped my attention."

Nichols looked over the book of sales, and announced that no such entry
could be found.

Mr. Drummond was surprised. Though not inclined to judge others any too
charitably, he had never suspected Walter of dishonesty.

"Are you sure you looked back far enough?" he asked.

"Yes," said Nichols; "to make sure, I looked back four weeks. The woman
said only a fortnight, you know."

"I know. Then it seems Conrad has concealed the sale and kept the
money."

"Perhaps," suggested Nichols, who rather liked Walter, "he forgot to put
it down."

"If he did, he forgot to put the money in the drawer, for the cash and
the sales have always balanced. He's an ungrateful young rascal,"
continued Mr. Drummond, harshly. "After I took him into my house and
treated him as a son (this was not saying much, if Joshua may be
believed), he has robbed me in the most cold-blooded manner."

Why there should be anything cold-blooded in appropriating the price of
the shawl, even had the charge been true, I cannot say, nor could Mr.
Drummond probably, but he thought that the use of this term would make
the offence seem more aggravated.

Even Nichols was a little staggered by the evidence against our hero. He
did not like to think him guilty, but it certainly seemed as if he must
be.

"What are you going to do about it, Mr. Drummond?" he asked.

"I suppose I ought to have him arrested. He deserves it."

"I hope you won't do that. He may be able to explain it."

"If I do not proceed to extremities, it will be on account of his
relationship, which I blush to acknowledge."

The time had been, and that not long since, when Mr. Drummond felt proud
of his relationship to the rich Squire Conrad of Willoughby; but that
was before his loss of property. Circumstances alter cases.

Quite unconscious of the storm that was gathering, Walter at this
moment entered the store.

"So you've got back!" said Mr. Drummond, harshly.

"Yes, sir."

"You haven't been in any particular hurry. However, that was not what I
wished to speak to you about. We have made a discovery since you went
out."

"Have you, sir?" asked Walter, rather surprised by the peculiar tone
which Mr. Drummond saw fit to adopt.

"Yes, and not a very agreeable one."

"I am sorry for that," said Walter, not knowing what else was expected
of him.

"No doubt you are sorry," sneered Mr. Drummond. "I should think he would
be, eh, Mr. Nichols?"

"I am sorry also," said Nichols, who, though rather weak-minded, was a
good-hearted young man.

"So am I sorry," said Mr. Drummond. "It strikes me I have most reason to
be sorry, considering that the loss has fallen on me."

All this was an enigma to Walter, and he had not the faintest idea of
what his employer meant. He inferred, however, that some blame was about
to be laid upon him.

"If you have no objection, Mr. Drummond," he said quietly, "perhaps you
will tell me what has happened."

"I have found out your ingratitude, Conrad," said Mr. Drummond,
preparing for a lecture, which he rather liked to indulge in, as his
wife could have testified. "I have discovered how like a viper you have
repaid me for my kindness. You didn't think I would find out, but your
iniquity has providentially come to light. While I was loading you with
benefits, you prepared to sting the hand of your benefactor."

"I don't know what you are talking about, Mr. Drummond," said Walter,
impatiently. "I wish you would stop talking in riddles, and let me know
in what way I resemble a viper."

"Did you ever witness such brazen effrontery, Mr. Nichols?" demanded Mr.
Drummond, turning to his head salesman; "even when he is found out, he
brazens it out."

"Wouldn't it be as well to tell him what is the matter, Mr. Drummond?"
asked Nichols, who was in hopes our hero would be able to prove his
innocence.

"Won't you tell me, Mr. Nichols?" asked Walter.

"No," said Mr. Drummond, waving his hand; "it is my duty to tell him
myself. I will do so briefly. Walter Conrad, when I admitted you into my
house I little dreamed that I was harboring a thief."

"A thief!" exclaimed Walter, his eyes flashing with anger, and elevating
his fist involuntarily. "Who dares to call me a thief?"

"No violence, Conrad," said Mr. Drummond. "Such a theatrical display of
indignation and surprise won't help you any. We are not to be imposed
upon by your artful demonstrations."

"Mr. Drummond," burst forth Walter, fairly aroused, "you are insulting
me by every word you speak. I am no more a thief than you are."

"Do you call me a thief?" exclaimed Mr. Drummond, turning white about
the lips.

"No, I don't; but I have as much right to call you one as you have to
charge such a thing upon me."

"I can prove what I say," said his employer. "I have got you in a net."

"It won't take me long to get out of any net you may set for me. I
insist upon your telling me at once what you mean."

"This language is rather extraordinary for a boy convicted of dishonesty
to use towards his employer."

"I am not convicted of dishonesty. Mr. Nichols, I appeal to you to tell
me, what Mr. Drummond does not seem disposed to do, what is the meaning
of this false charge which he has trumped up against me."

"I am sure you can prove your innocence, Conrad," said Nichols,
soothingly.

"Mr. Nichols, will you do me the favor to be silent?" said his employer,
sharply. "The matter concerns Conrad and myself, and I don't choose that
any one should communicate with him except myself. To come to the point,
did you, or did you not, a fortnight since, sell one of those shawls,
such as you see on the counter, for five dollars?"

"I did not," said Walter, promptly.

"It might not have been exactly a fortnight. Have you sold such a shawl
within four weeks?"

"I have not sold such a shawl since I have been in your employ, Mr.
Drummond."

"You hear what he says, Mr. Nichols," said Mr. Drummond. "You see how he
adds falsehood to dishonesty. But that is not uncommon. It is only what
I expected. Do you mean to say, Walter Conrad, that you didn't sell such
a shawl for five dollars (only half price), and, instead of entering the
sale, put the money into your own pocket?"

"I do deny it most emphatically, Mr. Drummond," said Walter,
impetuously, "and I challenge you to prove it."



CHAPTER XIX.

THE TABLES ARE TURNED.


"I shall soon be able to prove it," said Mr. Drummond. "The lady who
bought the shawl came into the store half an hour since, and asked for
another. When I told her that it would cost ten dollars, she said she
only paid five for the one she had on. She then told us that she bought
it of you a fortnight since."

"How did she know my name?"

"She did not mention your name. She said that it was a boy she bought it
of, and of course that can only be you."

"There is some mistake about this, Mr. Drummond. She has made a mistake.
She must have bought it somewhere else."

"She would not be likely to make such a mistake as this. Besides, the
shawl is like others I have. How do you account for that?" queried Mr.
Drummond, triumphantly.

"I don't pretend to account for it, and don't feel called upon to do so.
All I have got to say is, that I did not sell the shawl, nor pocket the
money."

"I shouldn't be surprised if you had the money about you at this very
moment."

"You are mistaken," said Walter, firmly.

"Show me your pocket-book."

"My pocket-book is my own property."

"You are afraid to show it. Observe that, Mr. Nichols. Does not that
look like guilt?"

"I am willing to show it to Mr. Nichols," said Walter.

He took it from his pocket, and handed it to Nichols, who took it rather
unwillingly.

"Open that pocket-book, Mr. Nichols, and show me what is in it."

"Shall I do so, Walter?" asked Nichols.

"Yes, Mr. Nichols. There is nothing in it that I am ashamed of."

Nichols opened the pocket-book and took out three bills.

"What are those bills, Mr. Nichols?" asked his employer.

"There is a one, here is a two, and here is--" Nichols hesitated and
looked disturbed--"here is a five."

Mr. Drummond's mean face was radiant with exultation.

"I told you so. I think we need no further proof. The stolen money has
been found in Conrad's possession, and his falsehood and dishonesty are
clearly proved. Hand me that five."

"Stop a minute, Mr. Drummond," said Walter, coolly. "You are altogether
too much in a hurry. You have proved nothing whatever. That five-dollar
bill I brought from home with me, and I have kept it ever since, having
no occasion to spend it."

"Do you think I will believe any such story?" asked his employer, with a
sneer. "That is very plausible, Conrad, but very improbable. I have no
doubt whatever that the bill is the same one which was paid you for the
shawl."

"Then you are entirely mistaken."

"That remains to be seen. Mr. Nichols, I will relieve you of that
pocket-book. As the shawl should have been sold for ten dollars, the
entire contents will not be sufficient to pay for the loss I have
sustained."

"Mr. Nichols," said Walter, "I forbid your giving that pocket-book to
Mr. Drummond. He has no claim to it whatever. You may give it to me."

"I forbid you giving it to Conrad," broke in his employer.

"I don't know what to do," said Nichols, perplexed, looking from one to
the other.

"You know that it belongs to me, Mr. Nichols," said Walter.

"I--I think I had better lay it down on the counter," said Nichols, by
the way of compromise.

Walter, who was on the outside, sprang to the counter, and seized it
just in time to prevent Mr. Drummond's obtaining it. The latter was very
angry at his want of success, and exclaimed violently, "Walter Conrad,
give me that pocket-book instantly."

Walter, who had put it in an inside pocket of his coat, coolly buttoned
the coat and answered, "If you had any claim to it, Mr. Drummond, you
would not have to speak twice; but as it is mine, I prefer to keep it."

Mr. Drummond, though he had an irritable, aggravating temper, was not
one to proceed to violence on ordinary occasions. But just now he was
thoroughly provoked, and showed it. He sprang over the counter with an
agility worthy of his youth, and advanced threateningly upon Walter.

"Walter Conrad," he exclaimed furiously, "how dare you defy me in this
outrageous manner? Do you know that I can have you arrested; but in
consideration of your being a relation, I may be induced to spare you
the penalty of the law if you will give me what money you have towards
making up my loss."

"So I would, if the loss had come through me. But I have already told
you that this is not the case. I know nothing whatever about the shawl."

"And this," said Mr. Drummond, folding his arms, "this is the viper that
I have warmed in my bosom. This is the friendless orphan that I admitted
beneath my roof, and made a companion of my son. This is the ungrateful
serpent who has crept into my confidence, and abused it!"

Mr. Drummond was an orator on a small scale, and the pleasure of giving
utterance to this scathing denunciation caused him to delay his
intention to obtain possession of the pocket-book by violence.

Walter ought to have been withered by this outburst of righteous anger,
but he wasn't. He stood it very well, and did not seem in the least
affected.

"Behold his hardened effrontery, Mr. Nichols," pursued Mr. Drummond,
unfolding his arms, and pointing at our hero with quivering fore-finger.
"I could not have believed that a boy of his years could be so brazen."

"Mr. Drummond," said Walter, "I am sustained by a consciousness of my
innocence, and therefore what you say has no effect upon me. It doesn't
seem to be very just to convict me without evidence, and sentence me
without trial."

"Will you give up that pocket-book?" demanded Mr. Drummond, furiously,
having indulged in his little flight of oratory, and being now ready to
proceed to business.

"No, sir, I will not," returned Walter, looking him firmly in the face.

Mr. Drummond made a dash for him, but Walter was used to dodging, and,
eluding his grasp, ran behind the counter.

"Mr. Nichols, help me to catch him," said Mr. Drummond, quite red in the
face.

But Nichols did not show any great readiness to obey. He let Walter pass
him, and did not make the least effort to retain him.

Mr. Drummond was making ready to jump over the counter, when Nichols, to
his great relief, observed the ladies, already referred to, coming up
the steps from the street.

"Mr. Drummond, the ladies have returned," he said hastily.

"Aha!" said his employer, with exultation. "Now we will be able to prove
your guilt, you young rascal! Here is the lady who bought the shawl of
you."

Mrs. Blake and her friend, Mrs. Spicer, here entered the store.

Mr. Drummond went forward to meet them. His face was flushed, but he
tried to look composed.

"I am glad to see you back, ladies," he said. "You told me that you
bought your shawl of a boy?" turning to Mrs. Blake.

"Yes, sir."

"Come forward, Conrad," said Mr. Drummond, a malignant smile
overspreading his face. "Perhaps you will deny now, to this lady's face,
that you sold her the shawl she has on."

"I certainly do," said Walter. "I never, to my knowledge, saw the lady
before, and I know that I did not sell her the shawl."

"What do you think of that, Mr. Nichols?" said Mr. Drummond. "Did you
ever witness such unblushing falsehood?"

But here a shell was thrown into Mr. Drummond's camp, and by Mrs. Blake
herself.

"The boy is perfectly right," she said. "I did not buy the shawl of
him."

"WHAT!" stammered Mr. Drummond.

Mrs. Blake repeated her statement.

"Didn't you say you bought the shawl of the boy?" asked Mr. Drummond,
with a sickly hue of disappointment overspreading his face.

"Yes, but it was not that boy."

"That is the only boy I have in my employment."

"Come to think of it, I believe it was your son," said Mrs. Blake.
"Isn't he a little older than this boy?"

"My son,--Joshua!" exclaimed Mr. Drummond.

"Yes, I think it must be he. He's got rather an old-looking face, with
freckles and reddish hair; isn't so good-looking as this boy."

"Joshua!" repeated Mr. Drummond, bewildered. "He doesn't tend in the
store."

"It was about dinner-time," said Mrs. Blake. "He was the only one here."

"Do you know anything about this, Mr. Nichols?" asked Mr. Drummond,
turning to his head clerk.

Light had dawned upon Nichols. He remembered now Joshua's offer to take
his place, and he felt sure in his own mind who was the guilty party.

"Yes, Mr. Drummond," he answered; "about a fortnight ago, as Walter was
rather late in getting back, Joshua offered to stay in the store for a
while. He must have sold the shawl, but he must have guessed at the
price."

"A mistake has been made," said Mr. Drummond, hurriedly, to the
ladies,--"a mistake that you have profited by. I shall not be able to
sell you another shawl for less than ten dollars."

The ladies went out, and Mr. Drummond and his two clerks were left
alone.

"Mr. Drummond," said Walter, quietly, "after what has happened, you will
not be surprised if I decline to remain in your employ. I shall take the
afternoon train to Willoughby."

He walked out of the store, and crossed the street to Mr. Drummond's
house.



CHAPTER XX.

IN WHICH JOSHUA COMES TO GRIEF.


Walter went up to his room, and hastily packed his trunk. He felt
wronged and outraged by the unfounded charge that had been made against
him. Why, he argued, should Mr. Drummond so readily decide that he had
cheated him out of five dollars? He felt that he could not, with any
self-respect, remain any longer under the same roof with a man who had
such a poor opinion of him.

He was not sorry that his engagement was at an end. He had obtained some
knowledge of the dry-goods business, and he knew that his services were
worth more than his board. Then again, though he was not particular
about living luxuriously, the fare at Mr. Drummond's was so uncommonly
poor that he did sometimes long for one of the abundant and well-cooked
meals which he used to have spread before him at home, or even at his
boarding-house while a pupil of the Essex Classical Institute.

He was packing his trunk when a step was heard on the stairs, and his
door was opened by Mr. Drummond, considerably to Walter's surprise.

The fact is, that Mr. Drummond, on realizing what a mistake he had made,
and that Joshua was the real culprit, felt that he had gone altogether
too far, and he realized that he would be severely censured by Walter's
friends in Willoughby. Besides, it was just possible that Walter might,
after all, recover a few thousand dollars from his father's estate, and
therefore it was better to be on good terms with him. Mr. Drummond
determined, therefore, to conciliate Walter, and induce him, if
possible, to remain in his house and employ.

"What are you doing, Conrad?" he asked, on entering Walter's chamber.

"Packing my trunk, sir," said Walter.

"Surely you are not going to leave us."

"I think it best," said Walter, quietly.

"You won't--ahem!--bear malice on account of the little mistake I made.
We are all liable to mistakes."

"It was something more than a mistake, Mr. Drummond. What had you seen
in me to justify you in such a sudden charge of dishonesty?"

"Almost anybody would have been deceived under the circumstances," said
Mr. Drummond, awkwardly.

"You did not give me an opportunity to defend myself, or rather you
disbelieved all I said."

"Well, Conrad, I was mistaken. I shall be glad to have you come back to
the store as before."

"Thank you, Mr. Drummond, but I have decided to go back to Willoughby
for a short time. I want to consult Mr. Shaw about the future. It is
time I formed some plans, as I shall probably have to earn my living."

"Don't you think you had better wait a few months?"

"No, sir, I think not."

"If you have made up your mind, all I have to say is that my humble
dwelling will be ever open to receive you in the future. Perhaps, after
a short visit at your old home, you may feel inclined to return to my
employment. I will give you a dollar a week besides board."

Mr. Drummond looked as if he felt that this was a magnificent offer, for
which Walter ought to feel grateful. But our hero knew very well that he
could command better pay elsewhere, and was not particularly impressed.
Still he wished to be polite.

"Thank you for your offer, Mr. Drummond," he said; "but I am not
prepared to say, as yet, what I will do."

"I hope," said Mr. Drummond, rather embarrassed, "you won't speak of our
little difference to your friends at Willoughby."

"No, sir, not if you wish me not to do so."

By this time the trunk was packed, and Walter, locking it, rose from his
knees.

"If it won't be too much trouble, Mr. Drummond," he said, "I will send
for my trunk to-morrow."

"Certainly. Why won't you wait till to-morrow yourself?"

"As I am ready, I may as well take the afternoon train."

"Very well; just as you think best."

"I will go down and bid good-by to Mrs. Drummond."

Mrs. Drummond had just come from the kitchen. She looked with surprise
at Walter and her husband, whose presence in the house at that hour was
unusual.

"What is the matter?" she asked.

"Conrad is going home a short time on business," explained Mr. Drummond.

"When shall we see you back again, Walter?" asked Mrs. Drummond.

"That is uncertain," said Walter. "It depends upon my plans for the
future."

"I have offered him increased pay," said Mr. Drummond, "if he will
return to the store. I hope he may decide to do so. Our humble roof will
ever be ready to shelter him."

Considering that Mr. Drummond had not lately made any such hospitable
references to the humble roof, his wife looked somewhat puzzled.

Just at that moment Joshua, unconscious of the damaging discovery that
had been made relative to himself, entered the room.

"Hallo! what's up?" he asked.

It was the first time his father had seen him since the discovery of his
dishonesty, and his anger was kindled.

"You ought to be ashamed to show your face here, you young reprobate!"
he exclaimed.

Joshua stared in amazement, and Mrs. Drummond exclaimed, "What makes you
talk so, Mr. Drummond? What has he done?"

"What has he done?" ejaculated Mr. Drummond, adding, rather
ungrammatically, "He's a thief, that's what he's done."

"How can you say such things of your own son?"

"Shut up, Mrs. Drummond; you don't know what you're talking about, or
you wouldn't defend him. It would serve him right if I should flog him
within an inch of his life."

"If you try it," said Joshua, sullenly, "I'll have you arrested for
assault and battery."

"Take care, boy! or you may find yourself in custody for theft."

"What do all these dreadful words mean?" asked Mrs. Drummond,
distressed. "Tell me, Walter, if you know."

"I would rather Mr. Drummond informed you," said Walter.

"I'll tell you, Mrs. Drummond," said her husband. "That boy sold a shawl
a fortnight ago, when alone in the store, and pocketed the money."

"Who said I did?" asked Joshua, boldly, though he looked a little pale.

"The woman who bought it of you was in the store to-day."

"Did she say I sold it to her?"

"Yes."

"Did she know my name?"

"No, but she described you."

"So I did," said Joshua, finding it advisable to remember. "I remember
now I sold it for five dollars."

"What made you keep the money?"

"I didn't. I waited till Conrad came into the store, and gave the money
to him. What he did with it, I don't know. Perhaps he forgot to put it
in the drawer," he added, with a spiteful look at Walter.

"That's a lie, Joshua Drummond!" said Walter, quietly, "and you know it
is. I think your father knows it is also."

"Do you mean to say I lie?" blustered Joshua.

"I wouldn't if I wasn't obliged to; but in my own defence I am compelled
to do so."

"What could I want of the money?" demanded Joshua, with a look of
virtuous indignation.

"I might as well ask the same question of myself; but that would be a
poor defence. If you really want me to answer that question, I will do
it."

"Go ahead, then," said Joshua. "I hope my word is better than that of a
beggar living on charity."

"Joshua!" said his mother, in a tone of remonstrance.

"I think you wanted the money to buy lottery tickets with," said Walter,
calmly.

Joshua turned pale, and looked thunderstruck.

"To buy lottery tickets with!" he gasped, staring at Walter in dismay.

"What's that?" asked Mr. Drummond, pricking up his ears.

"Your son can tell you," said Walter.

"What does this mean, Joshua?" demanded his father, sternly.

"It's a lie," said Joshua, unblushingly.

"Have you bought no lottery tickets?"

"No."

"Can you prove this charge which you have made against my son?" asked
Mr. Drummond, turning to Walter.

"I can, but I am sorry to do so. I picked up this letter a day or two
since, and intended to give it back to Joshua, but it escaped my mind. I
would not have exposed him if he had not tried to charge me with theft."

He placed in Mr. Drummond's hands the letter already given, announcing
to Joshua that he had drawn a blank.

Mr. Drummond read it with no little anger, for he detested lotteries.

"Unhappy boy!" he said, addressing Joshua. "I understand now what
became of the five dollars. This decides me to do what I had intended to
do sooner. I have supported you in laziness long enough. It is time you
went to work. Next week you must go to work. I will take you into my
store; but as I am not sure of your honesty, if I find you appropriating
money to your own use, I will put you into a shoe-shop and make a
shoemaker of you."

This was an alarming threat to Joshua, who had a foolish pride, which
led him to look upon a trade as less respectable than the mercantile
profession. He slunk out of the house, and Mr. Drummond went back to the
store, while Walter set out on foot for the railway station,
three-quarters of a mile distant.



CHAPTER XXI.

A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.


"Give me a ticket to Willoughby," said Walter, offering the five-dollar
bill which he had come so near losing.

The ticket was handed him, and three dollars and seventy-five cents were
returned to him.

"How long are you going to stay away?" asked the station-master, with
whom Walter had some acquaintance.

"I may not come back at all."

"Have you left Drummond's store?"

"Yes."

"Isn't that rather sudden?"

"A little so; but I didn't mean to stay long."

The shriek of the locomotive now became audible, and Walter went out on
the platform. Five minutes later found him occupying a seat, or rather
half a seat, for there sat next to him a brisk, energetic-looking man,
of about thirty years of age.

He had been reading the morning paper, but apparently he had got through
with it, for he folded it up, and put it in his pocket.

"Fine day," he said, briskly.

"Yes, sir, very fine," answered Walter.

"Some people are affected by the weather; I am not," pursued his
fellow-traveller. "I feel as smart one day as another."

"It isn't quite so cheerful when it rains," observed Walter.

"I'm always cheerful. I've got too much business to do to mope. When a
man's got enough to busy himself about, he hasn't time to be in the
dumps."

"There's a good deal in that," said Walter.

"Of course there is. Push along, keep moving, that's my motto. Are you
in business?"

"No, sir, not at present."

"I'm in the subscription-book business,--got an office in New York. We
send out agents everywhere to canvass for our publication. Lots of
money in it."

"Is there?"

"Yes. I used to be an agent myself, and, though I say it, I don't think
there are many agents that can get ahead of me. Sometimes I used to make
twenty dollars a day. At last I thought I'd like to settle down, so I
bought a partnership, and now, instead of being an agent, I send out
agents."

"Isn't twenty dollars a day pretty large for an agent to make?" asked
Walter.

"Yes, there are not many do it, but plenty make from five to ten right
along. You look as if you would make a good agent."

"What makes you think so?" asked Walter.

"You look smart."

"Thank you," said Walter, laughing. "I am afraid you won't think so much
of my ability when I tell you I have been working for the last three
months for my board."

"It's a shame. You'd better come with us. We'll do much better by you
than that."

"I am going to consult some friends about my future plans. If you are
willing to tell me a little of your business, I will think of what you
propose."

"I have with me our latest publication. It's going like wildfire. Just
the thing to please the people. I'll show it to you."

Walter looked with interest while his new acquaintance drew out from a
carpet-bag, which he had beneath the seat, a good-sized parcel wrapped
in brown paper. Untying it, he produced a bulky octavo, in flashy
binding, and abounding in illustrations. He opened the book and turned
over the leaves rapidly.

"It's stuffed full of illustrations, you see," said he. "The expense of
the pictures alone was absolutely e-nor-mous!" he added, dwelling upon
the last word by way of emphasis. "But we're going to make it pay. The
sale will be immense. Our agents already in the field report remarkable
sales."

"What's the title of the book?" asked Walter, who had yet been unable to
determine this point, by reason of the rapid turning of the pages.

"'Scenes in Bible Lands.' We include other countries besides Palestine,
and we've made a book that'll sell. Most every family will want one."

"What terms do you offer to agents?"

"Why, the book sells at retail at three dollars and fifty cents. Of this
the agent keeps one dollar and twenty-five cents. Pretty good, isn't
it?"

"Yes, I should think it was."

"You see you have only to sell four copies a day to make five dollars.
If you're smart, you can do better than that."

It really did seem very good to Walter, who couldn't help comparing it
with the miserable wages he had received from Mr. Drummond.

"I think that would pay very well," he said.

"Most paying business out," said the other. "Say the word, and I'll
engage you on the spot."

"Where would you want me to sell?"

"I should like to have you go West. This way districts are mostly taken
up. It would give you a good chance to travel and see the world."

Now Walter was, like most young people, fond of new scenes, and this
consideration was a weighty one. It would enable him to travel, and pay
his expenses while doing so.

"Better say the word."

"I can't now. I must see my friends first."

"Where are you going?"

"To Willoughby."

"How long are you going to stay?"

"I can't tell. A few days probably."

"Well, I'll give you the number of our office in New York. When you get
ready, report to us there, and we'll put you in the field."

To this Walter assented, and asked several questions further, to which
he received encouraging answers. The stranger gave him his card, from
which our hero learned that he had made the acquaintance of Mr. James
Pusher, of the firm of Flint & Pusher, subscription publishers, No. --
Nassau St., New York.

"Good-by," said Mr. Pusher, cordially, when Walter left the train for
the Willoughby station; "hope to see you again."

"Thank you," said Walter; "very likely you will."

Taking his carpet-bag in his hand, for he had arranged to have his
trunk come the next day, he walked over to the house of Mr. Shaw, his
father's executor.

Mr. Shaw was in his office, a little one-story building standing by
itself a little to the left of his house. He was busily writing, and did
not at once look up. When he saw who it was, he rose up and welcomed
Walter with a smile.

"I'm very glad to see you, Walter," he said. "I was just wishing you
were here. When did you leave Stapleton?"

"This afternoon, Mr. Shaw. I have just reached Willoughby."

"And how did you like Stapleton?"

"Tolerably well."

"And Mr. Drummond,--how were you pleased with him?"

"As to that," said Walter, smiling, "I can't say that I liked him as
well as I might."

"I judged that from what I have heard of his character. He has the
reputation of being very mean. A cent in his eyes is as large as a
dollar appears to some men. How did he pay you for your services?"

"I worked for board wages."

"And pretty poor board at that, I imagine."

"I had no fear of the gout," said Walter. "The living isn't luxurious."

"Well, I'm glad you are back again. For the present I shall expect you
to be my guest."

This settled the embarrassing question which had suggested itself as to
where he should stay. His late father's house was of course shut up, and
he had no relatives in Willoughby.

"Thank you, Mr. Shaw," he said. "For a few days I shall be glad to
accept your kind offer. What progress have you made in settling the
estate?"

"I can give you some idea of how it stands. There will be something
left, but not much. After paying all debts, including Nancy's, there
will certainly be a thousand dollars; but if you pay Nancy's legacy,
that will take half of this sum."

"The legacy shall be paid," said Walter, promptly, "no matter how
little remains. I am glad there is enough for that."

"I honor your determination, Walter, but I don't think Nancy will be
willing to take half of what you have left."

"Then don't let her know how little it is."

"There is a chance of something more. I have made no account of the
Great Metropolitan Mining stock, of which your father held shares to the
amount of one hundred thousand dollars, cost price. How these will come
out is very uncertain, but I think we can get something. Suppose it were
only five per cent., that would make five thousand dollars. But it isn't
best to count on that."

"I shan't make any account of the mining stock," said Walter. "If I get
anything, it will be so much more than I expect."

"That is the best way. It will prevent disappointment."

"How long before we find out about it?"

"It is wholly uncertain. It may be six months; It may be two years. All
I can say is, that I will look after your interests."

"Thank you, I am sure of that."

"Now, as to your plans. You were at the Essex Classical Institute, I
think?"

"Yes, sir."

"What do you say to going back for a year? It is not an expensive
school. You could stay a year, including all expenses, for the sum of
five hundred dollars."

Walter shook his head.

"It would consume all my money; and as long as I am not going to
college, my present education will be sufficient."

"As to consuming all your money," said Mr. Shaw, "let me say one thing.
I received many favors from your father, especially when a young man
just starting in business. Let me repay them by paying half your
expenses for the next year at school."

"You are very kind, Mr. Shaw," said Walter, gratefully, "and I would
accept that favor from you sooner than from any one; but I've made up my
mind to take care of myself, _and paddle my own canoe_."

"Well, perhaps you're right," said the lawyer, kindly; "but at least
you will accept my advice. Have you formed any plans for the future?"



CHAPTER XXII.

MESSRS. FLINT AND PUSHER.


Now that he was again in his native village, Walter realized how
unpleasant had been his position at Mr. Drummond's from the new
elasticity and cheerfulness which he felt. There had been something
gloomy and oppressive in the atmosphere of his temporary home at
Stapleton, and he certainly had very little enjoyment in Joshua's
society. Mrs. Drummond was the only one for whom he felt the least
regard.

He passed a few days quietly, renewing old acquaintances and
friendships. Nancy Forbes had gone to live with a brother, who was an
old bachelor, and very glad to have her with him. Her savings and the
legacy left her by Mr. Conrad together amounted to a thousand dollars,
or rather more,--sufficient to make Nancy rich, in her own opinion. But
she was not quite satisfied about the legacy.

"They say, Walter, that you'll be left poor," she said. "You'll need
this money."

"No, I shan't, Nancy," answered Walter. "Besides, there's a lot of
mining stock that'll come to something,--I don't know how much."

"But I don't feel right about taking this money, Walter."

"You needn't feel any scruples, Nancy. I can take care of myself. I can
paddle my own canoe."

"But you haven't got any canoe," said Nancy, who did not comprehend the
allusion. "Besides, I don't see how that would help you to a living."

Walter laughed.

"I shall get a canoe, then," he said, "and I'll steer it on to Fortune."

"At any rate," said Nancy, "I will leave you my money when I die."

"Who knows but you'll marry and have a lot of children?"

"That isn't very likely, Walter, and me forty-seven a'ready. I'm most an
old woman."

So the conversation ended. Nancy agreed, though reluctantly, to take the
legacy, resolved some time or other to leave it to Walter. If she had
known how little he really had left, she would not have consented to
accept it at all.

The same evening Walter sat in the lawyer's comfortable sitting-room,
and together they discussed the future.

"So you want to be a book agent, Walter?" said Mr. Shaw. "I can't say I
think very highly of this plan."

"Why not, Mr. Shaw?"

"It will lead to nothing."

"I don't mean to spend my life at it. I am more ambitious than that. But
it will give me a chance to travel without expense, and I always wanted
to see something of the world."

"How old are you now?"

"Fifteen."

"You are well-grown of your age. You might readily be taken for
sixteen."

"Do you really think so?" asked Walter, gratified, like most boys of his
age, at being thought to look older than he really was.

"Yes; at sixteen I was smaller than you now are."

"You see, Mr. Shaw, that, as I am so young, even if I spend a year at
this business, I shall not be too old to undertake something else
afterwards. In the mean time I shall see something of the world."

"Well, Walter, I won't oppose you. If I had not so much confidence in
you, I should warn you of the temptations that are likely to beset your
youth, left, as you will be, entirely to yourself. Of course you will be
thrown among all kinds of associates."

"Yes, sir; but I think I shall be wise enough to avoid what will do me
no good."

"So I hope and believe. Now, what is the name of this publisher you were
speaking of?"

"Pusher. He's of the firm of Flint & Pusher."

"I have heard of them. They are an enterprising firm."

"I think I had better start pretty soon, Mr. Shaw. I shall enjoy myself
better when I am at work."

"Next Monday, then, if you desire it."

It was then Friday.

On Monday morning Mr. Shaw handed Walter a pocket-book containing a
roll of bills. "You will need some money to defray your expenses," he
said, "until you are able to earn something. You will find fifty dollars
in this pocket-book. There is no occasion to thank me, for I have only
advanced it from money realized from your father's estate. If you need
any more, you can write me, and I can send you a check or money-order."

"This will be quite enough, Mr. Shaw," said Walter, confidently. "It
won't be long before I shall be paying my way; at least I hope so. I
don't mean to be idle."

"I am sure you won't be, or you will belie your reputation. Well,
good-by, Walter. Write me soon and often. You know I look upon myself as
in some sort your guardian."

"I will certainly write you, Mr. Shaw. By the way, I never thought to
ask you about the furniture of my room at the Essex Classical
Institute."

"It was purchased by the keeper of the boarding-house; at a sacrifice,
it is true, but I thought it best to let it go, to save trouble."

[Illustration]

"I should like to see Lem," thought Walter, with a little sigh as he
called to mind the pleasant hours he had passed with his school-fellow.
"I'll go back and pay the old institute a visit some time, after I've
got back from my travels."

Walter reached New York by ten o'clock. Though his acquaintance with the
city streets was very limited, as he had seldom visited it, he found his
way without much trouble to the place of business of Messrs. Flint &
Pusher. As they did not undertake to do a retail business, but worked
entirely through agents, their rooms were not on the first floor, but on
the third. Opening the door of the room, to which he was guided by a
directory in the entry beneath, Walter found himself in a large
apartment, the floor of which was heaped up with piles of books, chiefly
octavos. An elderly gentleman, with a partially bald head, and wearing
spectacles, was talking with two men, probably agents.

"Well, young man," said he, in rather a sharp voice, "what can I do for
you?"

"Is Mr. Pusher in?" asked Walter.

"He went out for a few minutes; will be back directly. Did you wish
particularly to see him?"

"Yes, sir."

"Take a seat, then, and wait till he comes in."

Walter sat down and listened to the conversation.

"You met with fair success, then?" inquired Mr. Flint.

"Yes, the book takes well. I sold ten in one day, and six and eight in
other days."

Walter pricked up his ears. He wondered whether the book was the one
recommended to him. If so, a sale of ten copies would enable the agent
to realize twelve dollars and a half, which was certainly doing very
well.

Just as the agents were going out, Mr. Pusher bustled in. His sharp eyes
fell upon Walter, whom he immediately recognized.

"Ha, my young friend, so you have found us out," he said, offering his
hand.

"Yes, sir."

"Come to talk on business, I hope?"

"Yes, sir, that is my object in coming."

"Mr. Flint," said Mr. Pusher, "this is a young friend whose acquaintance
I made a short time since. I told him, if ever he wanted employment, to
come here, and we would give him something to do."

Mr. Flint, who was a slower and a more cautious man than Mr. Pusher,
regarded Walter a little doubtfully.

"Do you mean as an agent?" he said.

"Certainly I do."

"He seems very young."

"That's true, but age isn't always an advantage. He looks smart, and
I'll guarantee that he is all he looks. I claim to be something of a
judge of human nature too."

"No doubt you're right," said Mr. Flint, who was accustomed to defer
considerably to his more impetuous partner. "What's the young man's
name?"

"You've got me there," said Mr. Pusher, laughing. "If I ever knew, which
is doubtful, I've forgotten."

"My name is Walter Conrad," said our hero.

"Very good. Well, Conrad," continued Mr. Pusher, in an off-hand manner,
"what are your wishes? What book do you want to take hold of?"

"You mentioned a book the other day,--'Scenes in Bible Lands.'"

"Yes, our new book. That would be as good as any to begin on. How's the
territory, Mr. Flint?"

Mr. Flint referred to a book.

"Most of the territory near by is taken up," he said. "Does Mr. Conrad
wish to operate near home?"

"I would rather go to a distance," said Walter.

"As far as Ohio?"

"Yes."

"In that case you could map out your own route pretty much. We haven't
got the West portioned out as we have the Middle and New England
States."

"In other words, we can give you a kind of roving commission, Conrad,"
put in Mr. Pusher.

"That would suit me, sir," said Walter.

"Still it would be best not to attempt to cover too much territory. A
rolling stone gathers no moss, you know. There is one important
question I must ask you to begin with. Have you got any money?"

"Yes, sir, I have fifty dollars."

"Good. Of course you will need money to get out to your field of labor,
and will have to pay your expenses till you begin to earn something.
Fifty dollars will answer very well."

"As I don't know very well how the business is managed," said Walter, "I
must ask for instructions."

"Of course. You're a green hand. Sit down here, and I'll make it all
plain to you."

So Mr. Pusher, in his brief, incisive way, explained to Walter how he
must manage. His instructions were readily comprehended, and Walter, as
he listened, felt eager to enter upon the adventurous career which he
had chosen.



CHAPTER XXIII.

WALTER LOSES HIS MONEY.


Walter, by advice of Mr. Pusher, bought a ticket to Cleveland. There was
a resident agent in this city, and a depository of books published by
the firm. As Walter would be unable to carry with him as large a supply
of books as he needed, he was authorized to send to the Cleveland agency
when he got out, and the books would be sent him by express.

"I will give you a letter to Mr. Greene, our agent in Cleveland," said
Mr. Pusher, "and you can consult him as to your best field of
operations."

The letter was hastily written and handed to Walter.

"Good-by, Mr. Pusher," he said, preparing to leave the office.

"Good-by, my young friend. I shall hope to hear good accounts from you."

So Walter went downstairs, and emerged into the street. He had no
particular motive for remaining in New York, and felt eager to commence
work. So he went at once to the Erie railway depot, and bought a through
ticket to Cleveland, via Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Though he had not
much money to spare, he determined not to neglect the opportunity he
would have of seeing this great natural wonder, but to stop over a day
in order to visit the falls.

He selected a comfortable seat by a window, and waited till the train
was ready to start. He realized that he had engaged in rather a large
enterprise for a boy of fifteen, who had hitherto had all his wants
supplied by others. He was about to go a thousand miles from home, to
earn his own living,--in other words, to paddle his own canoe. But he
did not feel in the least dismayed. He was ambitious and enterprising,
and confident that he could earn his living as well as other boys of his
age. He had never been far from home, but felt that he should enjoy
visiting new and unfamiliar scenes. So he felt decidedly cheerful and
hopeful as the cars whirled him out of the depot, and he commenced his
Western journey.

Walter put his strip of railway tickets into his vest-pocket, and his
porte-monnaie, containing the balance of his money, into the pocket of
his pantaloons. He wished to have the tickets at hand when the conductor
came round. He sat alone at first, but after a while a lady got in who
rode thirty miles or more, and then got out. A little later a young man
passed through the cars, looking about him on either side. He paused at
Walter's seat, and inquired, "Is this seat taken?"

"No, sir," said Walter.

"Then, with your permission, I will take it," said the stranger.
"Tiresome work travelling, isn't it?"

"I don't know," said Walter. "I rather like it; but then I never
travelled much."

"I have to travel a good deal on business," said the other, "and I've
got tired of it. How many times do you think I have been over this
road?"

"Couldn't guess."

"This is the fifteenth time. I know it like a book. How far are you
going?"

"To Cleveland."

"Got relations there, I suppose?"

"No," said Walter; "I am going on business."

He was rather glad to let his companion know that he, too, was in
business.

"You're young to be in business," said his companion. "What sort of
business is it?"

"I am an agent for Flint & Pusher, a New York firm."

"Publishers, aint they?"

"Yes, sir."

Walter's companion was a young man of twenty-five, or possibly a year or
two older. He was rather flashily attired, with a cut-away coat and a
low-cut vest, double-breasted, across which glittered a massive chain,
which might have been gold, or might only have been gilt, since all that
glitters is not gold. At any rate, it answered the purpose of making a
show. His cravat was showy, and his whole appearance indicated absence
of good taste. A cautious employer would scarcely have selected him
from a crowd of applicants for a confidential position. Walter was
vaguely conscious of this. Still he had seen but little of the world,
and felt incompetent to judge others.

"Are you going right through to Cleveland?" inquired the stranger.

"No; I think I shall stop at Buffalo. I want to see Niagara Falls."

"That's right. Better see them. They're stunning."

"I suppose you have been there?" said Walter, with some curiosity.

"Oh, yes, several times. I've a great mind to go again and show you
round, but I don't know if I can spare so long a time from business."

"I should like your company," said Walter, politely; "but I don't want
to interfere with your engagements."

"I'll think of it, and see how I can arrange matters," said the other.

Walter was not particularly anxious for the continued society of his
present companion. He was willing enough to talk with him, but there was
something in his appearance and manner which prevented his being
attracted to him. He turned away and began to view the scenery through
which they were passing. The stranger took out a newspaper, and appeared
to be reading attentively. Half an hour passed thus without a word being
spoken on either side. At length his companion folded up the paper.

"Do you smoke?" he asked.

"No," said Walter.

"I think I'll go into the smoking-car, and smoke a cigar. I should like
to offer you one if you will take one."

"No, thank you," said Walter; "I don't smoke, and I am afraid my first
cigar wouldn't give me much pleasure."

"I'll be back in a few minutes. Perhaps you'd like to look over this
paper while I am gone."

"Thank you," said Walter.

He took the paper,--an illustrated weekly,--and looked over the pictures
with considerable interest. He had just commenced reading a story when a
boy passed through the car with a basket of oranges and apples depending
from his arm.

"Oranges--apples!" he called out, looking to the right and left in
quest of customers.

The day was warm, and through the open window dust had blown into the
car. Walter's throat felt parched, and the oranges looked tempting.

"How much are your oranges?" he inquired.

"Five cents apiece, or three for a dime," answered the boy.

"I'll take three," said Walter, reflecting that he could easily dispose
of two himself, and considering that it would only be polite to offer
one to his companion, whose paper he was reading, when he should return.

"Here are three nice ones," said the boy, picking them out, and placing
them in our hero's hands.

Walter felt in his vest-pocket, thinking he had a little change there.
He proved to be mistaken. There was nothing in that pocket except his
railway tickets.

Next, of course, he felt for his porte-monnaie, but he felt for it in
vain.

He started in surprise.

"I thought my pocket-book was in that pocket," he reflected. "Can it be
in the other?"

He felt in the other pocket, but search here was equally fruitless. He
next felt nervously in the pocket of his coat, though he was sure he
couldn't have put his porte-monnaie there. Then it flashed upon him,
with a feeling of dismay, that he had lost his pocket-book and all his
remaining money. How or where, he could not possibly imagine, for the
suddenness of the discovery quite bewildered him.

"I won't take the oranges," he said to the boy. "I can't find my money."

The boy, who had made sure of a sale, took back the fruit reluctantly,
and passed on, crying out, "Here's your oranges and apples!"

Walter set about thinking what had become of his money. The more he
thought, the more certain he felt that he had put his porte-monnaie in
the pocket in which he had first felt for it. Why was it not there now?
That was a question which he felt utterly incompetent to answer.

"Have you lost anything?" inquired a gentleman who sat just behind
Walter. Looking back, he found that it was a gentleman of fifty who
addressed him.

"Yes, sir," he said, "I have lost my pocket-book."

"Was there much money in it?"

"About forty dollars, sir."

"That is too much to lose. Was your ticket in it also?"

"No, sir; that I have in my vest-pocket."

"Where was your pocket-book when you last saw it?" inquired the
gentleman.

"In this pocket, sir."

"Humph!" commented the other. "Who was that young man who was sitting
with you a few minutes since?"

"I don't know, sir."

"He was a stranger, then?"

"Yes, sir; I never met him till this morning."

"Then I think I can tell you where your money has gone."

"Where, sir?" demanded Walter, beginning to understand him.

"I think your late companion was a pickpocket, and relieved you of it,
while he pretended to be reading. I didn't like his appearance much."

"I don't see how he could have done it without my feeling his hand in my
pocket."

"They understand their business, and can easily relieve one of his purse
undetected. I once had my watch stolen without being conscious of it.
Your porte-monnaie was in the pocket towards the man, and you were
looking from the window. It was a very simple thing to relieve you of
it."



CHAPTER XXIV.

SLIPPERY DICK.


It is not natural for a boy of Walter's age to distrust those with whom
he becomes acquainted even slightly. This lesson unfortunately is
learned later in life. But the words of his fellow-traveller inspired
him with conviction. He could think of no other way of accounting for
his loss.

He rose from his seat.

"Where are you going?" asked the old gentleman.

"I am going to look for the thief."

"Do you expect to find him?"

"He said he was going into the smoking-car."

"My young friend, I strongly suspect that this was only to blind you.
The cars have stopped at two stations since he left his seat, and if he
took your money he has doubtless effected his escape."

Walter was rather taken aback by this consideration. It seemed
reasonable enough, and, if true, he didn't see how he was going to get
back his money.

"I dare say you are right," he said; "but I will go into the smoking-car
and see."

"Come back again, and let me know whether you find him."

"Yes, sir."

Walter went through two cars, looking about him on either side, thinking
it possible that the thief might have taken his seat in one of them.
There was very little chance of this, however. Next he passed into the
smoking-car, where, to his joy no less than his surprise, he found the
man of whom he was in search playing cards with three other passengers.

He looked up carelessly as Walter approached, but did not betray the
slightest confusion or sign of guilt. To let the reader into a secret,
he had actually taken Walter's pocket-book, but was too cunning to keep
it about him. He had taken out the money, and thrown the porte-monnaie
itself from the car platform, taking an opportunity when he thought
himself unobserved. As the money consisted of bills, which could not be
identified as Walter's, he felt that he was in no danger of detection.
He thought that he could afford to be indifferent.

"Did you get tired of waiting?" he asked, addressing our hero.

"That's pretty cool if he took the money," thought Walter.

"May I speak to you a moment?" asked Walter.

"Certainly."

"I mean alone."

"If you'll wait till I have finished the game," said the pickpocket,
assuming a look of surprise. "Something private, eh?"

"Yes," said Walter, gravely.

He stood by impatiently while the game went on. He was anxious to find
out as soon as possible what had become of his money, and what was the
chance of recovering it.

At length the game was finished, and a new one was about to be
commenced, when Walter tapped his late companion on the shoulder.

"Oh, you wanted to speak to me, did you?" he said indifferently. "Can't
you wait till we have finished this game?"

"No," said Walter, resolutely, "I can't wait. It is a matter of great
importance."

"Then, gentlemen, I must beg to be excused for five minutes," said the
pickpocket, shrugging his shoulders, as if to express good-natured
annoyance. "Now, my young friend, I am at your service."

Walter proceeded to the other end of the car, which chanced to be
unoccupied. Now that the moment had come, he hardly knew how to
introduce the subject. Suppose that the person he addressed were
innocent, it would be rather an awkward matter to charge him with the
theft.

"Did you see anything of my pocket-book?" he said, at length.

"Your pocket-book?" returned the pickpocket, arching his brows. "Why,
have you lost it?"

"Yes."

"When did you discover its loss?"

"Shortly after you left me," said Walter, significantly.

"Indeed! was there much money in it?"

"Over thirty dollars."

"That is quite a loss. I hope you have some more with you."

"No, it is all I have."

"I'm very sorry indeed. I did not see it. Have you searched on the
floor?"

"Yes; but it isn't there."

"That's awkward. Was your ticket in the pocket-book?"

"No, I had that in my vest-pocket."

"That's fortunate. On my honor, I'm sorry for you. I haven't much money
with me, but I'll lend you a dollar or two with the greatest of
pleasure."

This offer quite bewildered Walter. He felt confident that the other had
stolen his money, and now here he was offering to lend him some of it.
He did not care to make such a compromise, or to be bought off so cheap;
so, though quite penniless, he determined to reject the offer.

"I won't borrow," he said, coldly. "I was hoping you had seen my money."

"Sorry I didn't. Better let me lend you some."

"I would rather not borrow."

Walter could not for the life of him add "Thank you," feeling no
gratitude to the man who he felt well assured had robbed him.

The pickpocket turned and went back to his game, and Walter slowly left
the car. He had intended to ask him point-blank whether he had taken the
money, but couldn't summon the necessary courage. He went back to his
old seat.

"Well," said the old gentleman who sat behind him, "I suppose you did
not find your man?"

"Yes, I did."

"You didn't get your money?" he added, in surprise.

"No, he said he had not seen it."

"Did you tax him with taking it?"

"No, I hardly ventured to do that."

"Did he show any confusion?"

"No, sir, he was perfectly cool. Still, I think he took it. He offered
to lend me a dollar or two."

"That was cool, certainly."

"What would you advise me to do?" asked Walter.

"I hardly know what to advise," said the other, thoughtfully.

"I don't want him to make off with my money."

"Of course not. That would be far from agreeable."

"If he could only be searched, I might find the pocket-book on him."

"In order to do that, he must be charged with the robbery."

"That is true. It will be rather awkward for a boy like me to do that."

"I'll tell you what you had better do, my young friend. Speak to the
conductor."

"I think I will," said Walter.

Just at that moment the conductor entered the car. As he came up the
aisle Walter stopped him, and explained his loss, and the suspicions he
had formed.

"You say the man is in the smoking-car?" said the conductor, who had
listened attentively.

"Yes."

"Could you point him out?"

"Yes."

"I am glad of it. I have received warning by telegraph that one of the
New York swell-mob is on the train, probably intent on mischief, but no
description came with it, and I had no clue to the person. I have no
doubt that the man you speak of is the party. If so, he is familiarly
known as 'Slippery Dick.'"

"Do you think you can get back my money?" asked Walter, anxiously.

"I think there is a chance of it. Come with me and point out your man."

Walter gladly accompanied the conductor to the smoking-car. His old
acquaintance was busily engaged as before in a game, and laughing
heartily at some favorable turn.

"There he is," said Walter, indicating him with his finger.

The conductor walked up to him, and tapped him on the shoulder.

"What's wanted?" he asked, looking up. "You've looked at my ticket."

"I wish to speak to you a moment."

He rose without making any opposition, and walked to the other end of
the car.

"Well," he said, and there was a slight nervousness in his tone, "what's
the matter? Wasn't my ticket all right?"

"No trouble about that. The thing is, will you restore this boy's
pocket-book?"

"Sir," said the pickpocket, blustering, "do you mean to insult me? What
have I to do with his pocket-book?"

"You sat beside him, and he missed it directly after you left him."

"What is that to me? You may search me if you like. You will find only
one pocket-book upon me, and that is my own."

"I am aware of that," said the conductor, coolly. "I saw you take the
money out and throw it from the car platform."

The pickpocket turned pale.

"You are mistaken in the person," he said.

"No, I am not. I advise you to restore the money forthwith."

Without a word the thief, finding himself cornered, took from his
pocket a roll of bills, which he handed to Walter.

"Is that right?" asked the conductor.

"Yes," said our hero, after counting his money.

"So far, so good. And now, Slippery Dick," he continued, turning to the
thief, "I advise you to leave the cars at the next station, or I will
have you arrested. Take your choice."

The detected rogue was not long in making his choice. Already the cars
had slackened their speed, and a short distance ahead appeared a small
station. The place seemed to be one of very little importance. One man,
however, appeared to have business there. Walter saw his quondam
acquaintance jump on the platform, and congratulated himself that his
only loss was a porte-monnaie whose value did not exceed one dollar.

I will only add that the conductor on seeing the pocket-book thrown away
had thought nothing of it, supposing it to be an old one, but as soon as
he heard of the robbery suspected at once the thief and his motive.



CHAPTER XXV.

A HARD CUSTOMER.


Walter stopped long enough at Buffalo to visit Niagara Falls, as he had
intended. Though he enjoyed the visit, and found the famous cataract
fully up to his expectations, no incident occurred during the visit
which deserves to be chronicled here. He resumed his journey, and
arrived in due time at Cleveland.

He had no difficulty in finding the office of Mr. Greene, the agent of
Messrs. Flint & Pusher. He found that this gentleman, besides his
agency, had a book and stationery business of his own.

"I don't go out myself," he said to Walter; "but I keep a supply of
Flint's books on hand, and forward them to his agents as called for.
Have you done much in the business?"

"No, sir, I am only a beginner. I have done nothing yet."

"I thought not. You look too young."

"Mr. Pusher told me I had better be guided by your advice."

"I'll advise you as well as I can. First, I suppose you want to know
where to go."

"Yes, sir."

"You had better go fifty miles off at least. The immediate neighborhood
has been pretty well canvassed. There's C---- now, a flourishing and
wealthy town. Suppose you go there first."

"Very well, sir."

"It's on the line of railway. Two hours will carry you there."

"I'll go, this afternoon."

"You are prompt."

"I want to get to work as soon as possible."

"I commend your resolution. It speaks well for your success."

Walter arrived in C---- in time for supper. He went to a small public
house, where he found that he could board for a dollar and a half a day,
or seven dollars by the week. He engaged a week's board, reflecting that
he could probably work to advantage a week in so large a place, or, if
not, that five days at the daily rate would amount to more than the
weekly terms.

He did not at first propose to do anything that evening until it
occurred to him that he might perhaps dispose of a copy of his book to
the landlord in part payment for his board. He went into the public room
after supper.

"Are you travelling alone?" asked the landlord, who had his share of
curiosity.

"Yes," said Walter.

"Not on business?"

"Yes, on business."

"What might it be now? You are rather young to be in business."

"I am a book-agent."

"Meeting with pretty good success?"

"I'm just beginning," said Walter, smiling. "If you'll be my first
customer, I'll stop with you a week."

"What kind of a book have you got?"

Walter showed it. It was got up in the usual style of subscription
books, with abundance of illustrations.

"It's one of the best books we ever sent out," said Walter, in a
professional way. "Just look at the number of pictures. If you've got
any children, they'll like it; and, if you haven't, it will be just the
book for your centre-table."

"I see you know how to talk," said the landlord, smiling. "What is the
price?"

"Three dollars and a half."

"That's considerable."

"But you know I'm going to take it out in board."

"Well, that's a consideration, to be sure. A man doesn't feel it so much
as if he took the money out of his pocket and paid cash down. What do
you say, Mrs. Burton?" addressing his wife, who just then entered the
room. "This young man wants to stay here a week, and pay partly in a
book he is agent for. Shall I agree?"

"Let me see the book," said Mrs. Burton, who was a comely,
pleasant-looking woman of middle age. "What's the name of it?"

"'Scenes in Bible Lands,'" said Walter.

He opened it, taking care to display and point out the pictures.

"I declare it is a nice book," said Mrs. Burton. "Is there a picture of
Jerusalem?"

"Here it is," said Walter, who happened to know just where to find it.
"Isn't it a good picture? And there are plenty more as good. It's a book
that ought to be in every family."

"Really, Mr. Burton, I don't know but we might as well take it," said
the landlady. "He takes it out in board, you know."

"Just as you say," said the landlord. "I am willing."

"Then I'll take the book. Emma will like to look at it."

So Walter made the first sale, on which he realized a profit of one
dollar and a quarter.

"It's a pretty easy way to earn money," he reflected with satisfaction,
"if I can only sell copies enough. One copy sold will pay for a day's
board."

He went to bed early, and enjoyed a sound and refreshing sleep. He was
cheered with hopes of success on the morrow. If he could sell four
copies a day, that would give him a profit of five dollars, and five
dollars would leave him a handsome profit after paying expenses.

The next morning after breakfast he started out, carrying with him three
books. Knowing nothing of the residents of the village, he could only
judge by the outward appearance of their houses. Seeing a large and
handsome house standing back from the street, he decided to call.

"The people living here must be rich," he thought. "They won't mind
paying three dollars and a half for a nice book."

Accordingly he walked up the gravelled path and rang the front-door
bell. The door was opened by a housemaid.

"Is the lady of the house at home?" asked Walter.

"Do you want to see her?"

"Yes."

"Then wait here, and I'll tell her."

A tall woman, with a thin face and a pinched expression, presented
herself after five minutes.

"Well, young man," she asked, after a sharp glance, "what is your
business?"

Her expression was not very encouraging, but Walter was bound not to
lose an opportunity.

"I should like to show you a new book, madam," he commenced, "a book of
great value, beautifully illustrated, which is selling like wildfire."

"How many copies have you sold?" inquired the lady, sharply.

"One," answered Walter, rather confused.

"Do you call that selling like wildfire?" she demanded with sarcasm.

"I only commenced last evening," said Walter, "I referred to the sales
of other agents."

"What's the name of the book?"

"'Scenes in Bible Lands.'"

"Let me see it."

Walter displayed the book.

"Look at the beautiful pictures," he said.

"I don't see anything remarkable about them. The binding isn't very
strong. Shouldn't wonder if the book would go to pieces in a week."

"I don't think there'll be any trouble that way," said Walter.

"If it does, you'll be gone, so it won't trouble you."

"With ordinary care it will hold long enough."

"Oh, yes, of course you'd say so. I expected it. How much do you charge
for the book?"

"Three dollars and a half."

"Three dollars and a half!" repeated the woman. "You seem to think
people are made of money."

"I don't fix the price, madam," said Walter, rather provoked. "The
publishers do that."

"I warrant they make two-thirds profit. Don't they now?"

"I don't know," said Walter. "I don't know anything about the cost of
publishing books; but this is a large one, and there are a great many
pictures in it. They must have cost considerable."

"Seems to me it's ridiculous to ask such a price for a book. Why, it's
enough to buy a nice dress pattern!"

"The book will last longer than the dress," said Walter.

"But it is not so necessary. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'd like the
book well enough to put on my parlor-table. I'll give you two dollars
for it."

"Two dollars!" ejaculated Walter, scarcely crediting the testimony of
his ears.

"Yes, two dollars; and I warrant you'll make money enough then."

"I should lose money," said Walter. "I couldn't think of accepting such
an offer."

"In my opinion there isn't any book worth even two dollars."

"I see we can't trade," said Walter, disgusted at such meanness in a
lady who occupied so large a house, and might be supposed to have plenty
of money.

He began to replace the book in its brown-paper covering.

"I don't know but I might give you twenty-five cents more. Come now,
I'll give you two dollars and a quarter."

"I can't take it," said Walter, shortly. "Three dollars and a half is
the price, and I will not take a cent less."

"You won't get it out of me then," retorted the lady, slamming the door
in displeasure.

Walter had already made up his mind to this effect, and had started on
his way to the gate.

"I wonder if I shall meet many people like her," he thought, and his
courage was rather damped.



CHAPTER XXVI.

BUSINESS EXPERIENCES.


Walter began to think that selling books would prove a harder and more
disagreeable business than he anticipated. He had been brought face to
face with meanness and selfishness, and they inspired him with disgust
and indignation. Not that he expected everybody to buy his books, even
if they could afford it. Still it was not necessary to insult him by
offering half price.

He walked slowly up the street, wondering if he should meet any more
such customers. On the opposite side of the street he noticed a small
shoemaker's shop.

"I suppose it is of no use to go in there," thought Walter. "If they
won't buy at a big house, there isn't much chance here."

Still he thought he would go in. He had plenty of time on his hands,
and might as well let slip no chance, however small.

He pushed open the door, and found himself in a shop about twenty-five
feet square, littered up with leather shavings and finished and
unfinished shoes. A boy of fourteen was pegging, and his father, a man
of middle age, was finishing a shoe.

"Good-morning," said Walter.

"Good-morning," said the shoemaker, turning round. "Do you want a pair
of shoes this morning?"

"No," said Walter, "I didn't come to buy, but to sell."

"Well, what have you got to sell?"

"A subscription book, finely illustrated."

"What's the name of it?"

"'Scenes in Bible Lands.'"

"Let me look at it."

He wiped his hands on his apron, and, taking the book, began to turn
over the leaves.

"It seems like a good book," he said. "Does it sell well?"

"Yes, it sells largely. I have only just commenced, but other agents
are doing well on it."

"You are rather young for an agent."

"Yes, but I'm old enough to work, and I'm going to give this a fair
trial."

"That's the way to talk. How much do you expect to get for this book?"

"The price is three dollars and a half."

"It's rather high."

"But there are a good many pictures. Those are what cost money."

"Yes, I suppose they do. Well, I've a great mind to take one."

"I don't think you'll regret it. A good book will give you pleasure for
a long time."

"That's so. Well, here's the money;" and the shoemaker drew out five
dollars from a leather pocket-book. "Can you give me the change?"

"With pleasure."

Walter was all the more pleased at effecting this sale because it was
unexpected. He had expected to sell a book at the great house he had
just called at, but thought that the price of the book might deter the
shoemaker, whose income probably was not large. He thought he would like
to know the name of the lady with whom he had such an unpleasant
experience.

"Can you tell me," he inquired, "who lives in that large house a little
way up the street?"

"You didn't sell a book there, did you?" asked the shoemaker, laughing.

"No, but I got an offer of two dollars for one."

"That's just like Mrs. Belknap," returned the other. "She has the name
of being the meanest woman for miles around."

"It can't be for want of money. She lives in a nice house."

"Oh, she's rich enough,--the richest woman in town. When her husband was
alive--old Squire Belknap--she wasn't quite so scrimping, for he was
free-handed and liberal himself; but now she's a widow, she shows out
her meanness. So she offered you two dollars?"

"Yes, but she afterwards offered twenty-five cents more."

"Then she must have wanted the book. She makes it her boast that no
peddler ever took her in, and I guess she's about right."

"I hope there are not many such people in town. If there are, I shall
get discouraged."

"We've got our share of mean people, I expect, but she's the worst."

"Well, I suppose I must be going. Thank you for your purchase."

"That's all right. If I like the book as well as I expect, I'll thank
you."

Walter left the shoemaker's shop with considerably higher spirits than
he entered. His confidence in human nature, which had been rudely shaken
by Mrs. Belknap, was in a degree restored, and his prospects looked
brighter than a few minutes before.

"I wonder who'll make the next purchase?" he thought.

He stopped at a plain two-story house a little further up the road. The
door was opened by an old lady.

"What do you want?" she asked.

"I am agent for an excellent book," commenced Walter.

"Oh, you're a peddler," broke in the old lady, without waiting to hear
him through.

"I suppose I may be called so."

"Are you the man that was round last spring selling jewelry?"

"No, I have never been here before."

"I don't know whether to believe you or not," said the old lady. "Your
voice sounds like his. I can't see very well, for I've mislaid my specs.
If you're the same man, I'll have you took up for selling bogus
jewelry."

"But I'm not the same one."

"I don't know. The man I spoke of sold my darter a gold ring for a
dollar, that turned out to be nothing but brass washed over. 'Twa'n't
worth five cents."

"I'm sorry you got cheated, but it isn't my fault."

"Wait a minute, I'll call my darter."

In reply to her mother's call a tall maiden lady of forty advanced to
the door, with some straw in her hand, for she was braiding straw.

"What's wanted, mother?" she asked.

"Isn't this the same man that sold you that ring?"

"La, no, mother. He was a man of forty-five, and this is only a boy."

"I s'pose you must be right, but I can't see without my specs. Well, I'm
sorry you're not the one, for I'd have had you took up onless you'd give
back the dollar."

Under the circumstances Walter himself was not sorry that there was no
chance of identifying him with his knavish predecessor.

"What have you got to sell?" asked the younger woman.

"A book beautifully illustrated, called 'Scenes in Bible Lands.' Will
you allow me to show it to you?"

"He seems quite polite," said the old lady, now disposed to regard
Walter more favorably. "Won't you come in?"

Walter entered, and was shown into a small sitting-room, quite plainly
furnished. The book was taken from him, and examined for a considerable
length of time by the daughter, who, however, announced at the end that
though she should like it very much, she couldn't afford to pay the
price. As the appearance of the house bore out her assertion, Walter did
not press the purchase, but was about to replace the book under his arm,
when she said suddenly, "Wait a minute. There's Mrs. Thurman just coming
in. Perhaps she'll buy one of your books."

Walter was of course perfectly willing to wait on the chance of a sale.

Mrs. Thurman was the wife of a trader in good circumstances, and
disposed to spend liberally, according to her means. Walter was not
obliged to recommend his book, for this was done by the spinster, who
was disinterestedly bent on making a sale. So he sat quiet, a passive
but interested auditor, while Miss Nancy Sprague extolled the book for
him.

"It does seem like an excellent book," said Mrs. Thurman, looking at the
pictures.

"Just the thing for your Delia," suggested Miss Nancy; "I am sure she
would like it."

"That reminds me to-morrow is Delia's birthday."

"Then give her the book for a birthday present."

"I had intended to buy her something else. Still I am not sure but this
would suit her quite as well."

"I am sure it would," responded Miss Nancy.

"Then I will take it. Young man, how much do you ask for your book?"

"Three dollars and a half."

Mrs. Thurman paid the money, and received the book.

"I am much obliged to you," said Walter, addressing Miss Nancy, "for
recommending my book."

"You're quite welcome," said Miss Nancy, who felt some satisfaction at
gaining her point, though it would not benefit her any. "I'm sure you
are quite polite for a peddler, and I hope you'll excuse mother for
making such a mistake about you."

"That is of no consequence," said Walter, smiling. "I think if your
mother had had her glasses on she would not have made such a mistake."

He left the house still farther encouraged. But during the next hour he
failed to sell another copy. At length he managed to sell a third. As
these were all he had brought out, and he was feeling rather tired, he
went back to the tavern, and did not come out again till after dinner.
He had sold three copies and cleared three dollars and seventy-five
cents, which he was right in regarding as very fair success.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A CABIN IN THE WOODS.


Walter found a good dinner ready for him at twelve o'clock, which he
enjoyed the more because he felt that he had earned it in advance. He
waited till about two o'clock, and again set out, this time in a
different direction. As it takes all sorts of people to make a world, so
the reception he met with at different places differed. In some he was
received politely; in others he was treated as a humbug. But Walter was
by this time getting accustomed to his position, and found that he must
meet disagreeable people with as good humor as he could command. One
farmer was willing to take the book if he would accept pay in apples, of
which he offered him two barrels; but this offer he did not for a moment
entertain, judging that he would find it difficult to carry about the
apples, and probably difficult to dispose of them. However, he managed
to sell two copies, though he had to call at twenty places to do it.
Nevertheless, he felt well repaid by the degree of success he met with.

"Five books sold to-day!" thought Walter, complacently, as he started on
his walk home. "That gives me six dollars and a quarter profit. I wish I
could keep that up."

But our young merchant found that he was not likely to keep up such
sales. The next day he sold but two copies, and the day succeeding
three. Still for three days and a half the aggregate sale was eleven
copies, making a clear profit of thirteen dollars and seventy-five
cents. At the end of the week he had sold twenty copies; but to make up
this number he had been obliged to visit one or two neighboring
villages.

He now prepared to move on. The next place at which he proposed to stop
for a few days we will call Bolton. He had already written to Cleveland
for a fresh supply of books to be forwarded to him there. He had but two
books left, and his baggage being contained in a small valise, he
decided to walk this distance, partly out of economy, but principally
because it would enable him to see the country at his leisure. During
the first five miles he succeeded in selling both books, which relieved
him of the burden of carrying them, leaving him only his valise.

Walter was strong and stout, and enjoyed his walk. There was a freshness
and novelty about his present mode of life, which he liked. He did not
imagine he should like to be a book-agent all his life, but for a time
he found it quite agreeable.

He stopped under the shade of a large elm and ate the lunch which he had
brought with him from the inn. The sandwiches and apples were good, and,
with the addition of some water from a stream near by, made a very
acceptable lunch. When he resumed his walk after resting a couple of
hours, the weather had changed. In the morning it was bright sunshine.
Now the clouds had gathered, and a storm seemed imminent. To make
matters worse, Walter had managed to stray from the road. He found
himself walking in a narrow lane, lined on either side by thick woods.
Soon the rain come pattering down, at first in small drops, but quickly
poured down in a drenching shower. Walter took refuge in the woods,
congratulating himself that he had sold the books, which otherwise would
have run the risk of being spoiled.

"I wish there were some house near by in which I could rest," thought
Walter. The prospect of being benighted in the woods in such weather was
far from pleasant.

Looking around anxiously, he espied a small foot-path, which he
followed, hoping, but hardly expecting, that it might lead to some place
of refuge. To his agreeable surprise he emerged after a few minutes into
a small clearing, perhaps half an acre in extent, in the middle of which
was a rough cabin. It was a strange place for a house, but, rude as it
was, Walter hailed its appearance with joy. At all events it promised
protection from the weather, and the people who occupied it would
doubtless be willing to give him, for pay of course, supper and lodging.
Probably the accommodations would not be first class, but our hero was
prepared to take what he could get, and be thankful for it. Accordingly
he advanced fearlessly and pounded on the door with his fist, as there
was neither bell nor knocker.

The door not being opened immediately, he pounded again. This time a
not particularly musical voice was heard from within:--

"Is that you, Jack?"

"No," answered Walter, "it isn't Jack."

His voice was probably recognized as that of a boy, and any apprehension
that might have been felt by the person within was dissipated. Walter
heard a bolt withdrawn, and the door opening revealed a tall, gaunt,
bony woman, who eyed him in a manner which could not be considered very
friendly or cordial.

"Who are you?" she demanded abruptly, keeping the door partly closed.

"I am a book-agent," said Walter.

"Do you expect to sell any books here?" asked the woman, with grim
humor.

"No," said Walter, "but I have been caught in the storm, and lost my
way. Can I stop here over night if the storm should hold on?"

"This isn't a tavern," said the woman, ungraciously.

"No, I suppose not," said Walter; "but it will be a favor to me if you
will take me in, and I will pay you whatever you think right. I suppose
there is no tavern near by."

He half hoped there might be, for he had already made up his mind that
this would not be a very agreeable place to stop at.

"There's one five miles off," said the woman.

"That's too far to go in such weather. If you'll let me stay here, I
will pay you whatever you ask in advance."

"Humph!" said the woman, doubtfully, "I don't know how Jack will like
it."

As Walter could know nothing of the sentiments of the Jack referred to,
he remained silent, and waited for the woman to make up her mind,
believing that she would decide in his favor.

He proved to be right.

"Well," she said, half unwillingly, "I don't know but I'll take you in,
though it isn't my custom to accommodate travellers."

"I will try not to give you much trouble," said Walter, relieved to find
that he was sure of food and shelter.

"Humph!" responded the woman.

She led the way into the building, which appeared to contain two rooms
on the first floor, and probably the same number of chambers above.
There was no entry, but the door opened at once into the kitchen.

"Come up to the fire if you're wet," said the woman.

The invitation was hospitable, but the manner was not. However, Walter
was glad to accept the invitation, without thinking too much of the
manner in which it was expressed, for his clothes were pretty well
saturated by the rain. There was no stove, but an old brick fireplace,
on which two stout logs were burning. There was one convenience at least
about living in the woods. Fuel was abundant, and required nothing but
the labor of cutting it.

"I think I'll take off my shoes," said Walter.

"You can if you want to," said his grim hostess.

He extended his wet feet towards the fire, and felt a sense of comfort
stealing over him. He could hear the rain falling fiercely against the
sides of the cabin, and felt glad that he was not compelled to stand the
brunt of the storm.

[Illustration]

He looked around him guardedly, not wishing to let his hostess see that
he was doing so, for she looked like one who might easily be offended.
The room seemed remarkably bare of furniture. There was an unpainted
table, and there were also three chairs, one of which had lost its back.
These were plain wooden chairs, and though they appeared once to have
been painted, few vestiges of the original paint now remained. On a
shelf were a few articles of tin, but no articles of crockery were
visible, except two cracked cups. Walter had before this visited the
dwellings of the poor, but he had never seen a home so poorly provided
with what are generally regarded as the necessaries of life.

"I wonder what Lem would say if he should see me now," thought Walter,
his thoughts going back to the Essex Classical Institute, and the friend
whose studies he shared. They seemed far away, those days of careless
happiness, when as yet the burdens of life were unfelt and scarcely even
dreamed of. Did Walter sigh for their return? I think not, except on one
account. His father was then alive, and he would have given years of his
own life to recall that loved parent from the grave. But I do not think
he would have cared, for the present at least, to give up his business
career, humble though it was, and go back to his studies. He enjoyed the
novelty of his position. He enjoyed even his present adventure, in spite
of the discomforts that attended it, and there was something exciting in
looking about him, and realizing that he was a guest in a rough cabin in
the midst of the woods, a thousand miles away from home.

Guarded as he had been in looking around him, it did not escape without
observation.

"Well, young man, this is a poor place, isn't it?" asked the woman,
suddenly.

"I don't know," said Walter, wishing to be polite.

"That's what you're thinkin', I'll warrant," said the woman. "Well,
you're not obliged to stay, if you don't want to."

"But I do want to, and I am very much obliged to you for consenting to
take me," said Walter, hastily.

"You said you would pay in advance," said the woman.

"So I will," said Walter, taking out his pocket-book, "if you will tell
me how much I am to pay."

"You may give me a dollar," said the woman.

Walter drew out a roll of bills, and, finding a one-dollar note, handed
it to the woman.

She took it, glancing covetously at the remaining money which he
replaced in his pocket-book. Walter noticed the glance, and, though he
was not inclined to be suspicious, it gave him a vague feeling of
anxiety.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

STRANGE ACQUAINTANCES.


An hour passed without a word being spoken by his singular hostess. She
went to the window from time to time, and looked out as if expecting
some one. At length Walter determined to break the silence, which had
become oppressive. It did not seem natural for two persons to be in the
same room so long without speaking a word.

"I should think you would find it lonely living in the woods away from
any neighbors," he said.

"I don't care for neighbors," said the woman, shortly.

"Have you lived here long?"

"That's as people reckon time," was the answer.

Walter found himself no wiser than before, and the manner of his hostess
did not encourage him to pursue his inquiries further on that subject.

"You don't have far to go for fuel," was the next remark of our hero.

"Any fool might see that," said the woman.

"Not very polite," thought Walter.

He relapsed into silence, judging that his hostess did not care to
converse. Soon, however, she began to ask questions.

"Did you say you was a book-peddler?" she inquired.

"I am a book-agent."

"Where are your books,--in that carpet-bag?"

"No, I have sold all my books, and sent for some more."

"Where did you sell them?"

"In C----."

"Have you come from there?"

"Yes, I started from there this forenoon."

"Where did you stop?"

"At the tavern."

"Is your business a good one?" she asked, eying him attentively.

"I have done very well so far, but then I have been at it only a week."

"It's a good thing to have money," said the woman, more to herself than
to Walter.

"Yes," said Walter, "it's very convenient to have money; but there are
other things that are better."

"Such as what?" demanded the woman abruptly.

"Good health for one thing."

"What else?"

"A good conscience."

She laughed scornfully.

"I'll tell you there's nothing so good as money. I've wanted it all my
life, and never could get it. Do you think I would live here in the
woods if I had money? No, I should like to be a lady, and wear fine
clothes, and drive about in a handsome carriage. Why are some people so
lucky, while I live in this miserable hole?"

She looked at Walter fiercely, as if she held him responsible for her
ill-fortune.

"Perhaps your luck will change some day," he said, though he had little
faith in his own words. He wondered how the tall, gaunt woman of the
backwoods would look dressed in silks and satins.

"My luck never will change," she said, quickly.

"I must live and die in some such hovel as this."

"My luck has changed," said Walter, quietly; "but in a different way."

"How?" she asked, betraying in her tone some curiosity.

"A year ago--six months ago--my father was a rich man, or was considered
so. He was thought to be worth over a hundred thousand dollars. All at
once his property was swept away, and now I am obliged to earn my own
living, as you see."

"Is that true?" she asked.

"Yes, it is true."

"How did your father lose his money?"

"By speculating in mines."

"The more fool he!"

"My father is dead," said Walter, gravely. "I cannot bear to hear him
blamed."

"Humph!" ejaculated the woman; but what she intended to convey by this
utterance Walter could not tell.

Again the woman went to the window and looked out.

"It's time for Jack to be here," she said.

"Your son?" asked Walter.

"No, my husband."

"He'll be pretty wet when he comes in," Walter ventured to say; but his
remark elicited no response.

After a while his hostess said, in her usual abrupt tone, "I expect you
are hungry."

"Yes," said Walter, "I am, but I can wait till your husband comes."

"I don't know when he'll come. Likely he's kept."

She took out from a small cupboard a plate of bread and some cold meat,
and laid them on the table. Then she steeped some tea, and, when it was
ready, she put that also on the table.

"Set up," she said, briefly.

Walter understood from this that supper was ready, and, putting on his
shoes, which were now dry, he moved his chair up.

"Likely you're used to something better," said the woman.

This was true, but our hero politely said that the supper looked very
good, and he did not doubt he would enjoy it.

"That's lucky, for it's all you will get," said the woman.

"There's not much use in wasting politeness on her," thought Walter.
"She won't give any in return, that's certain."

The woman poured him out some tea in one of the cracked cups.

"We haven't got no milk nor sugar," she said. "My man and I don't care
for them."

The first sip of the tea, which was quite strong, nearly caused a wry
expression on Walter's face, but he managed to control himself so far as
not to betray his want of relish for the beverage his hostess offered
him. The only redeeming quality it had was that it was hot, and, exposed
as he had been to the storm, warm drink was agreeable.

"There's some bread and there's some meat," said the woman. "You can
help yourself."

"Are you not going to eat supper with me?" asked Walter.

"No, I shall wait for Jack."

She sat down in a chair before the fire, leaving Walter to take care of
himself, and seemed plunged in thought.

"What a strange woman!" thought Walter. "I wonder if her husband is
anything like her. If he is, they must be an agreeable couple."

He ate heartily of the food, and succeeded in emptying his cup of tea.
He would have taken another cup if there had been milk and sugar, but it
was too bitter to be inviting.

"Will you have some more tea?" asked the hostess, turning round.

"No, I thank you."

"You miss the milk and sugar?"

"I like them in tea."

"We can't afford to buy them, so it's lucky we don't like them."

There was a bitterness in her tone whenever she talked of money, which
led Walter to avoid the topic. Evidently she was a discontented woman,
angry because her lot in life was not brighter.

Walter pushed his chair from the table, and sat down again before the
fire. She rose and cleared the table, replacing the bread and meat in
the cupboard.

"Where are you going next?" she asked, after a pause.

Walter mentioned the name of the place.

"Have you ever been there?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Is it a flourishing place?"

"Yes, good enough, but I haven't been there for a year. It may have
burned down for all I know."

"I wonder what sort of a woman she was when she was young?" thought
Walter. "I wonder if she was always so unsociable?"

There was silence for another hour. Walter wished it were time to go to
bed, for the presence of such a woman made him feel uncomfortable. But
it was too early yet to suggest retiring.

At length the silence was broken by a step outside.

"That's Jack," said the woman, rising hastily; and over her face there
came a transient gleam of satisfaction, the first Walter had observed.

Before she could reach the door it was opened, and Jack entered. Walter
looked up with some curiosity to see what sort of a man the husband of
this woman might be. He saw a stout man, with a face like a bull-dog's,
lowering eyes, and matted red hair and beard.

"They are fitly mated," thought our hero.

The man stopped short as his glance rested upon Walter, and he turned
quickly to his wife.

"Who have you got here, Meg?" he asked, in a rough voice.

"He was overtaken by the storm, and wanted me to take him in, and give
him supper and lodging."

"He's a boy. What brings him into these woods?"

"He says he's a book-peddler."

"Where are his books?"

"I have sold them all," said Walter, feeling called upon to take a
personal share in the conversation.

"How many did you have?"

"Twenty."

"How much did you charge for them?"

"Three dollars and a half apiece."

"That's seventy dollars, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Well, you can stay here all night if you want to. We aint used to
keepin' a tavern, but you'll fare as well as we."

"Thank you. I was afraid I might have to stay out all night."

"Now, Meg, get me something to eat quick. I'm most famished."

While his wife was getting out the supper again, he sat down beside the
fire, and Walter had a chance to scan his rough features. There was
something in his appearance that inspired distrust, and our hero wished
the night were past, and he were again on his way.



CHAPTER XXIX.

DANGER THREATENS.


After supper, which the man devoured like a wild animal, he proved more
sociable. He tried in a rough, uncouth manner to make himself agreeable,
and asked Walter numerous questions.

"Do you like peddlin'?" he asked.

"I can't tell yet," said Walter. "I haven't been at it long enough."

"You can make money pretty fast?"

"I don't know. Some days I expect to do well, but other days I may not
sell any books. But I like travelling about from place to place."

"I don't know but I should like travellin' myself," said Jack. "Hey,
Meg?"

"Anything better than staying in this miserable hole," said the woman.
"I'm sick and tired of it."

"Well, old woman, maybe we'll start off soon. You couldn't get me a
chance in your business, could you?"

Walter doubted strongly whether a rough, uneducated man like the one
before him would be well adapted for the book business, but he did not
venture to say so.

"If you would like to try it," he said, "I can give you the name of the
agent in Cleveland. He is authorized to employ agents, and might engage
you."

"Would he engage the old woman too?"

"I don't know whether he has any female agents."

"I couldn't do nothing sellin' books," said Meg, "nor you either. If it
was something else, I might make out."

"Well, we'll think about it. This aint a very cheerful place to live, as
you say, and it's about time for a change."

About nine o'clock Walter intimated a desire to go to bed.

"I have been walking considerable to-day," he said, "and I feel tired."

"I'll show you the place you're to sleep in," said the woman.

She lit a candle, and left the room, followed by Walter. She led the way
up a rough, unpainted staircase and opened the door of the room over the
one in which they had been seated.

"We don't keep a hotel," said she, "and you must shift as well as you
can. We didn't ask you to stay."

Looking around him, Walter found that the chamber which he had entered
was as bare as the room below, if not more so. There was not even a
bedstead, but in the corner there was a bed on the floor with some
ragged bedclothes spread over it.

"That's where you're to sleep," said the woman, pointing it out.

"Thank you," said Walter.

"There isn't much to thank me for. Good-night."

"Good-night," said Walter.

She put the candle on the mantel-piece, for there was no bureau or table
in the room, and went out.

"This isn't a very stylish tavern, that's a fact," thought Walter,
taking a survey of the room. "I shall have a hard bed, but I guess I
can stand it for one night."

There was something else that troubled him more than the poor
accommodations. The ill looks of his host and hostess had made a strong
impression upon his mind. The particular inquiries which they had made
about his success in selling books, and their strong desire for money,
led him to feel apprehensive of robbery. He was in the heart of the
woods, far away from assistance, and at their mercy. What could he, a
boy of fifteen, do against their combined attack? He would have
preferred to sleep in the woods without a shelter, rather than have
placed himself in their power.

Under the influence of this apprehension, he examined the door to see if
there was any way of locking it. But there was neither lock nor bolt.
There had been a bolt once, but there was none now.

Next he looked about the room to see if there was any heavy article of
furniture with which he could barricade the door. But, as has already
been said, there was neither bureau nor table. In fact, there was
absolutely no article of furniture except a single wooden chair, and
that, of course, would be of no service.

"What shall I do?" thought Walter. "That man can enter the room when I
am asleep, and rob me of all my money."

It was a perplexing position to be in, and might have puzzled an older
and more experienced traveller than our young hero. He opened his
pocket-book, and, taking out the money, counted it. There were sixty
dollars and a few cents within.

"Where shall I hide it?" he considered.

Looking about the room, he noticed a closet, the door of which was
bolted on the outside. Withdrawing the bolt he opened the door and
looked in. It was nearly empty, containing only a few articles of little
or no value. A plan of operations rapidly suggested itself to Walter in
case the room should be entered while he was awake. In pursuance of this
plan he threw a few pennies upon the floor of the closet, and then
closed the door again. Next he drew from the pocket-book all the money
it contained, except a single five-dollar bill. The bank notes thus
removed amounted to fifty-five dollars. He then drew off his stockings,
and, laying the bills in the bottom, again put them on.

"He won't suspect where they are," thought Walter, in a tone of
satisfaction. "If he takes my pocket-book, I can stand the loss of five
dollars."

He put on his shoes, that he might be ready for instant flight, if
occasion required it, and threw himself down on the outside of the
coverlid.

If our young hero, who, I hope, will prove such if the danger which he
fears actually comes, could have overheard the conversation which was
even then going on between Jack and Meg, he would have felt that his
apprehensions were not without cause.

When the woman returned from conducting Walter to his room, she found
her husband sitting moodily beside the fire.

"Well, Meg," he said, looking up, "where did you put him?"

"In the room above."

"I hope he'll sleep sound," said Jack, with a sinister smile. "I'll go
up by and by and see how he rests."

"What do you mean to do?" asked Meg.

"He has got seventy dollars in that pocket-book of his. It must be
ours."

His wife did not answer immediately, but looked thoughtfully into the
fire.

"Well, what do you say?" he demanded impatiently.

"What do I say? That I have no objection to taking the money, if there
is no danger."

"What danger is there?"

"He may charge us with the theft."

"He can't see me take it, when his eyes are shut."

"But he may not be asleep."

"So much the worse for him. I must have the money. Seventy dollars is
worth taking, Meg. It's more money than I've had in my hands at one time
for years."

"I like money as well as you, Jack; but the boy will make a fuss when he
finds the money is gone."

"So much the worse for him," said Jack, fiercely. "I'll stop his noise
very quick."

"You won't harm the lad, Jack?" said Meg, earnestly.

"Why not? What is he to you?"

"Nothing, but I feel an interest in him. I don't want him harmed. Rob
him if you will, but don't hurt him."

"What should you care about him? You never saw him before to-day."

"He told me his story. He has had ill-luck, like us. His father was very
rich, not long since, but he suddenly lost all his property, and this
boy is obliged to go out as a book-peddler."

"What has that to do with us?"

"You mustn't harm him, Jack."

"I suppose you would like to have him inform against us, and set the
police on our track."

"No, I wouldn't, and you know it."

"Then he must never leave this cabin alive," said Jack.

"You would not murder him?" demanded Meg, horror-struck.

"Yes, I would, if there is need of it."

"Then I will go up and bid him leave the house. Better turn him out
into the forest than keep him here for that."

She had got half way to the door when her husband sprang forward, and
clutched her fiercely by the shoulder.

"What are you going to do?" he growled.

"You shall not kill him. I will send him away."

"I have a great mind to kill you," he muttered fiercely.

"No, Jack, you wouldn't do that. I'm not a very good woman, but I've
been a faithful wife to you, and you wouldn't have the heart to kill
me."

"How do you know?" he said.

"I know you wouldn't. I am not afraid for myself, but for you as well as
this boy. If you killed him, you might be hung, and then what would
become of me?"

"What else can I do?" asked her husband, irresolutely.

"Threaten him as much as you like. Make him take an oath never to inform
against you. He's a boy that'll keep his oath."

"What makes you think so?"

"I read it in his face. It is an honest face, and it can be trusted."

"Well, old woman, perhaps you are right. The other way is dangerous, and
if this will work as well, I don't mind trying it. Now let us go to bed,
and when the boy's had time to fall asleep, I'll go in and secure the
money."



CHAPTER XXX.

THE ROBBER WALKS INTO A TRAP.


Walter's feelings, as he lay on his hard bed on the floor, were far from
pleasant. He was not sure that an attempt would be made to rob him, but
the probability seemed so great that he could not compose himself to
sleep. Suspense was so painful that he almost wished that Jack would
come up if he intended to. He was tired, but his mental anxiety
triumphed over his bodily fatigue, and he tossed about restlessly.

It was about nine o'clock when he went to bed. Two hours passed, and
still there were no signs of the apprehended invasion.

But, five minutes later, a heavy step was heard upon the staircase,
which creaked beneath the weight of the man ascending. Jack tried to
come up softly, but it creaked nevertheless.

Walter's heart beat quick, as he heard the steps approaching nearer and
nearer. It was certainly a trying moment, that might have tested the
courage of one older than our hero. Presently the door opened softly,
and Jack advanced stealthily into the chamber, carrying a candle which,
however, was unlighted. He reckoned upon finding Walter undressed, and
his clothes hanging over the chair; but the faint light that entered
through the window showed him that his intended victim had not removed
his clothing. Of course this made the task of taking his pocket-book
much more difficult.

"Confusion!" he muttered. "The boy hasn't undressed."

Walter had closed his eyes, thinking it best to appear to be asleep; but
he heard this exclamation, and it satisfied him of Jack's dishonest
intentions.

The robber paused a moment, and then, stooping over, inserted his hand
into Walter's pocket. He drew out the pocket-book, Walter making no sign
of being aware of what was going on.

"I've got it," muttered Jack, with satisfaction, and stealthily retraced
his steps to the door. He went out, carefully closing it after him, and
again the steps creaked beneath his weight.

"I'm afraid he'll come back when he finds how little there is in it,"
thought Walter. "If so, I must trust to my plan."

Meg looked up with interest when her husband re-entered the room. She
had been listening with nervous interest, fearing that there might be
violence done. She had been relieved to hear no noise, and to see her
husband returning quietly.

"Have you got the pocket-book?" she asked.

"Yes, Meg," he said, displaying it. "He went to bed with his clothes on,
but I pulled it out of his pocket, as he lay asleep, and he will be none
the wiser."

"How much is there in it?"

"I'm going to see. I haven't opened it yet."

He opened the pocket-book, and uttered a cry of disappointment.

"That's all," he said, displaying the five-dollar bill. "He must have
had more."

"He did have more. When he paid me the dollar for stoppin' here, he took
it from a roll of bills."

"What's he done with 'em, the young rascal?"

"Perhaps he had another pocket-book. But that's the one he took out when
he paid me."

"I must go up again, Meg. He had seventy dollars, and I'm goin' to have
the rest. Five dollars won't pay me for the trouble of stealin' it."

"Don't hurt the boy, Jack."

"I will, if he don't fork over the money," said her husband, fiercely.

There was no longer any thought of concealment. It was necessary to wake
Walter to find out where he had put the money. So Jack went upstairs
boldly, not trying to soften the noise of his steps now, angry to think
that he had been put to this extra trouble. Walter heard him coming, and
guessed what brought him back. I will not deny that he felt nervous, but
he determined to act manfully, whatever might be the result. He breathed
a short prayer to God for help, for he knew that in times of peril he is
the only sufficient help.

The door was thrown open, and Jack strode in, bearing in his hand a
candle, this time lighted. He advanced to the bed, and, bending over,
shook Walter vigorously.

"What's the matter?" asked our hero, this time opening his eyes, and
assuming a look of surprise. "Is it time to get up?"

"It's time for you to get up."

"It isn't morning, is it?"

"No; but I've got something to say to you."

"Well," said Walter, sitting up in the bed, "I'm ready."

"Where've you put that money you had last night?"

"Why do you want to know?" demanded Walter, eying his host fixedly.

"No matter why I want to know," said Jack, impatiently. "Tell me, if you
know what's best for yourself."

Walter put his hand in his pocket.

"It was in my pocket-book," he said; "but it's gone."

"Here is your pocket-book," said Jack, producing it.

"Did you take it out of my pocket? What made you take it?"

"None of your impudence, boy!"

"Is it impudent to ask what made you take my property?" said Walter,
firmly.

"Yes, it is," said Jack, with an oath.

"Do you mean to steal my money?"

"Yes, I do; and the sooner you hand it over the better."

"You have got my pocket-book already."

"Perhaps you think I am green," sneered Jack. "I found only five
dollars."

"Then you had better give it back to me. Five dollars isn't worth
taking."

"You're a cool one, and no mistake," said Jack, surveying our hero with
greater respect than he had before manifested. "Do you know that I could
wring your neck?"

"Yes, I suppose you could," said Walter, quietly. "You are a great deal
stronger than I am."

"Aint you afraid of me?"

"I don't think I am. Why should I be?"

"What's to hinder my killin' you? We're alone in the woods, far from
help."

"I don't think you'll do it," said Walter, meeting his gaze steadily.

"You aint a coward, boy; I'll say that for you. Some boys of your age
would be scared to death if they was in your place."

"I don't think I am a coward," said Walter, quietly. "Are you going to
give me back that pocket-book?"

"Not if I know it; but I'll tell you what you're goin' to do."

"What's that?"

"Hunt up the rest of that money, and pretty quick too."

"What makes you think I have got any more money?"

"Didn't you tell me you sold twenty books, at three dollars and a half?
That makes seventy dollars, accordin' to my reckonin'."

"You're right there; but I have sent to Cleveland for some more books,
and had to send the money with the order."

This staggered the robber at first, till he remembered what his wife
had told him.

"That don't go down," he said roughly. "The old woman saw a big roll of
bills when you paid her for your lodgin'. You haven't had any chance of
payin' them away."

Walter recalled the covetous glance of the woman when he displayed the
bills, and he regretted too late his imprudence in revealing the amount
of money he had with him. He saw that it was of no use to attempt to
deceive Jack any longer. It might prove dangerous, and could do no good.

"I have some more money," he said; "but I hope you will let me keep it."

"What made you take it out of your pocket-book?"

"Because I thought I should have a visit from you."

"What made you think so?" demanded Jack, rather surprised.

"I can't tell, but I expected a visit, so I took out most of my money
and hid it."

"Then you'd better find it again. I can't wait here all night. Is it in
your other pocket?"

"No."

"Is that all you can say? Get up, and find me that money, or it'll be
the worse for you."

"Then give me the pocket-book and five dollars. I can't get along if you
take all my money."

Jack reflected that he could easily take away the pocket-book again, and
decided to comply with our hero's request as an inducement for him to
find the other money.

"Here it is," he said. "Now get me the rest."

"I hid some money in that closet," said Walter. "I thought you would
think of looking there."

No sooner was the closet pointed out than Jack eagerly strode towards it
and threw open the door. He entered it, and began to peer about him,
holding the candle in his hand.

"Where did you put it?" he inquired, turning to question Walter.

But he had scarcely spoken when our hero closed the door hastily, and,
before Jack could recover from his surprise, had bolted it on the
outside. To add to the discomfiture of the imprisoned robber, the wind
produced by the violent slamming of the door blew out the candle, and he
found himself a captive, in utter darkness.

"Let me out, or I'll murder you!" he roared, kicking the barrier that
separated him from his late victim, now his captor.

Walter saw that there was no time to lose. The door, though strong,
would probably soon give way before the strength of his prisoner. When
the liberation took place, he must be gone. He held the handle of his
carpet-bag between his teeth, and, getting out of the window, hung down.
The distance was not great, and he alighted upon the ground without
injury. Without delay he plunged into the woods, not caring in what
direction he went, as long as it carried him away from his dishonest
landlord.



CHAPTER XXXI.

WALTER'S ESCAPE.


Though Walter was in a room on the second floor, the distance to the
ground was not so great but that he could easily hang from the
window-sill and jump without injury. Before following him in his flight,
we will pause to inquire how the robber, unexpectedly taken captive,
fared.

Nothing could have surprised Jack more than this sudden turning of the
tables. But a minute since Walter was completely in his power. Now,
through the boy's coolness and nerve, his thievish intentions were
baffled, and he was placed in the humiliating position of a prisoner in
his own house.

"Open the door, or I'll murder you!" he roared, kicking it violently.

There was no reply, for Walter was already half way out of the window,
and did not think it best to answer.

Jack kicked again, but the door was a strong one, and, though it shook,
did not give way.

"Draw the bolt, I say," roared the captive again, appending an oath, "or
I'll wring your neck."

But our hero was already on the ground, and speeding away into the
shelter of the friendly woods.

If any man was thoroughly mad, that man was Jack. It was not enough that
he had been ingloriously defeated, but the most galling thing about it
was that this had been done by a boy.

"I'll make him pay for this!" muttered Jack, furiously.

He saw that Walter had no intention of releasing him, and that his
deliverance must come from himself. He kicked furiously, and broke
through one of the panels of the door; but still the bolt held, and
continued to hold, though he threw himself against the door with all his
force.

Meanwhile his wife below had listened intently, at the bottom of the
staircase, not without anxiety as to the result. She was a woman, and,
though by no means of an amiable disposition, she was not without some
humanity. She knew her husband's brutal temper, and she feared that
Walter would come to harm. Part of her anxiety was selfish, to be sure,
for she dreaded the penalty for her husband; but she was partly actuated
by a feeling of rough good-will towards her young guest. She didn't mind
his being robbed, for she felt that in some way she had been cheated out
of that measure of worldly prosperity which was her due, and she had no
particular scruple as to the means of getting even with the world. The
fact that Walter, too, had suffered bad fortune increased her good-will
towards him, and made her more reluctant that he should be ill-treated.

At first, as she listened, and while the conversation was going on, she
heard nothing to excite her alarm. But when her husband had been locked
in the closet, and began to kick at the door, there was such a noise
that Meg, though misapprehending the state of things, got frightened.

"He's killing the poor boy, I'm afraid," she said, clasping her hands.
"Why, why need he be so violent? I told him not to harm him."

Next she heard Jack's voice in angry tones, but could not understand
what he said. This was followed by a fresh shower of kicks at the
resisting door.

"I would go up if I dared," she thought; "but I am afraid I should see
the poor boy dying."

She feared, also, her husband's anger at any interference; for, as she
had reason to know, his temper was not of the gentlest. So she stood
anxiously at the foot of the staircase, and continued to listen.

Meanwhile Jack, finding he could not release himself readily, bethought
himself of his wife.

"Meg!" he called out, in stentorian tones.

His wife heard the summons and made haste to obey it.

She hurried upstairs, and, opening the chamber door, found herself, to
her surprise, in darkness.

"Where are you, Jack?" she asked, in some bewilderment.

"Here," answered her husband.

"Where?" asked Meg; for the tones were muffled by the interposition of
the door, and she could not get a clear idea of where her husband was.

"In the closet, you fool! Come and open the door," was the polite reply.

Wondering how her husband could have got into the closet, and, also,
what had become of Walter, she advanced hastily to the closet-door, and
drew the bolt.

Jack dashed out furiously, cursing in a manner I shall not repeat.

"How came you here, Jack?" asked his wife. "Where's the boy?"

It was so dark that he could not readily discover Walter's flight. He
strode to the bedstead, and, kneeling down, began to feel about for him.

"Curse it, the boy's gone!" he exclaimed. "Why didn't you stop him?"

This he said on supposition that Walter had escaped by the stairs.

"I don't know what you mean. I've seen nothing of the boy. Wasn't he
here when you came up?"

"Yes, he was, but now he's gone. He must have got out of the window,"
he added, with a sudden thought.

"I don't understand it," said Meg. "How came you shut up in that
closet?"

"The boy sent me in on a fool's errand, and then locked me in."

"Tell me about it, Jack."

Her husband rehearsed the story, heaping execrations upon his own folly
for being outwitted by a boy.

"But you've got the pocket-book and the five dollars," said his wife, by
way of comforting him.

"No, I haven't. I gave them back to him, to get him to tell me where the
rest of the money was. I meant to take it away from him again."

"Then he's escaped with all his money?"

"Yes," growled Jack; "he's fooled me completely. But it isn't too late.
I may catch him yet. He's hiding in the woods somewhere. If I do get
hold of him, I'll give him something to remember me by. I'll learn him
to fool me."

"I wouldn't go out to-night, Jack," said his wife. "It's most twelve."

"If I don't go now, I'll lose him. Go downstairs, Meg, and light the
candle."

"Did he have the money with him?"

"He said he hid it."

"Then perhaps he left it behind him. He had to go away in a hurry."

"That's so, Meg. Hurry down, and light the candle, and we'll hunt for
it."

The suggestion was a reasonable one, and Jack caught at it. If the money
were left behind, it would repay him in part for his mortification at
having been fooled by a boy, and he might be tempted to let him go. What
vexed him most was the idea of having been baffled completely; and the
discovery of the money would go far to make things even.

Meg came up with the lighted candle; and they commenced a joint search,
first in the closet, where they found the five pennies which Walter had
thrown on the floor, and, afterwards, about the room, and particularly
the bedding. But the roll of bills was nowhere to be found. Walter had,
as we know, carried it away with him. This was the conclusion to which
the seekers were ultimately brought.

"The money aint anywhere here," said Jack. "The boy's got it with him."

"Likely he has," said Meg.

"I'm goin' for him," said her husband. "Go downstairs, Meg, and I'll
foller."

"You'd better wait till mornin', Jack," said his wife.

"You're a fool!" he said, unceremoniously. "If I wait till daylight,
he'll be out of the woods, and I can't catch him."

"There isn't much chance now. It's dark, and you won't be likely to find
him."

"I'll risk that. Anyhow, I'm goin' and so you needn't say any more about
it."

Jack descended to the room below, put on his boots and hat, and, opening
the outer door, sallied out into the darkness.

He paused before the door in uncertainty.

"I wish I knowed which way he went," he muttered.

There seemed little to determine the choice of direction on the part of
the fugitive. There was no regular path, as Jack and his wife were the
only dwellers in the forest who had occasion to use one, except such as
occasionally strayed in from the outer world. There was, indeed, a path
slightly marked, but this Walter could not see in the darkness.
Nevertheless, as chance would have it, he struck into it and followed it
for some distance.

Having nothing else to determine his course, it was only natural that
Jack should take this path. Now that he was already started on his
expedition, and found the natural darkness of the night deepened and
made more intense by the thick foliage of the forest trees, he realized
that his chances of coming upon Walter were by no means encouraging. But
he kept on with dogged determination.

"I'd like to catch the young rascal, even if I don't get a penny of the
money," he said to himself.

He resolved, in case he was successful, first, to give his victim a
severe beating, and next, to convey him home, and keep him for weeks a
close prisoner in the very closet in which he had himself been
confined. The thought of such an appropriate vengeance yielded him
considerable satisfaction, and stimulated him to keep up the search.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A STRANGE HIDING-PLACE.


Meanwhile Walter had the advantage of quarter of an hour's start of his
pursuer. Jack had indeed been released within five minutes, but he had
consumed ten minutes more in searching for the money. It was too dark,
however, to make rapid progress. Still Walter pushed on, resolved to put
as great a distance as possible between the cabin and himself, for he
anticipated pursuit, and judged that, if caught, he would fare badly for
the trick he had played upon his host.

He had proceeded perhaps half a mile when he stopped to rest. Two or
three times he had tripped over projecting roots which the darkness
prevented his seeing in time to avoid.

"I'll rest a few minutes, and then push on," he thought.

It was late, but the excitement of his position prevented him from
feeling sleepy. He wished to get out of the woods into some road or open
field, where he would be in less danger of encountering Jack, and where
perhaps he might find assistance against him.

He was leaning against an immense tree, one of the largest and oldest in
the forest. Walter began idly to examine it. He discovered, by feeling,
that it was hollow inside. Curiosity led him to examine farther. He
ascertained that the interior was eaten out by gradual decay, making a
large hollow space inside.

"I shouldn't wonder if I could get in," he said to himself.

He made the attempt, and found that he was correct in his supposition.
He could easily stand erect inside.

"That is curious," thought Walter. "The tree must be very old."

He emerged from the trunk, and once more threw himself down beside it.
Five minutes later and his attention was drawn by a sound of approaching
footsteps. Then came an oath, which sounded startlingly near. It was
uttered by Jack, who had tripped over a root, and was picking himself
up in no very good humor. The enemy, it appeared, was close upon him.

Walter started to his feet in dismay. His first thought was immediate
flight, but if he were heard by Jack, the latter would no doubt be able
to run him down.

"What shall I do?" thought Walter, in alarm.

Quickly the hollow trunk occurred to him. He seized his carpet-bag, and
with as little delay as possible concealed himself in the interior. He
was just in time, for Jack was by this time only a few rods distant.
Walter counted upon his passing on; but on reaching the old tree Jack
paused, and said aloud, "Where can the young rascal be? I wonder if I
have passed him? I'll rest here five minutes. He may straggle along."

With these words he sank upon the ground, in the very same place where
Walter had been reclining two minutes before. He was so near that our
hero could have put out his hand and touched him.

It was certainly a very uncomfortable situation for Walter. He hardly
dared to breathe or to stir lest his enemy should hear him.

"He's led me a pretty tramp," muttered Jack. "I'm as tired as a dog, but
I'm bound to get hold of him to-night. If I do, I'll half kill him."

"Then I hope you won't get hold of him," Walter ejaculated inwardly.

He began to wish he had run on instead of seeking this concealment. In
the first case, the darkness of the night would have favored him, and
even if Jack had heard him it was by no means certain that he would have
caught him. Now an unlucky movement or a cough would betray his
hiding-place, and there would be no chance of escape. He began to feel
his constrained position irksome, but did not dare to seek relief by
change of posture.

"I wish he'd go," thought our hero.

But Jack was in no hurry. He appeared to wish to waylay Walter, and was
constantly listening to catch the sound of his approach. At last a
little relief came. A sound was heard, which Jack suspected might
proceed from his late guest. He started to his feet, and walked a few
steps away. Walter availed himself of this opportunity to change his
position a little.

"It isn't he," said Jack, disappointed. "Perhaps he's gone another way."

He did not throw himself down this time, but remained standing, in
evident uncertainty. At length Walter was relieved to hear him say,
"Well, I shan't catch him by stopping here, that's sure."

Then he started, and Walter, listening intently, heard the sound of his
receding steps. When sufficient time had elapsed, he ventured out from
his concealment, and stopped to consider the situation.

What should he do?

It was hardly prudent to go on, for it would only bring him nearer to
the enemy. If he ventured back, he would be farther away from the edge
of the woods, and might encounter Meg, who might also be in pursuit. He
did not feel in danger of capture from this quarter, but the woman might
find means of communicating with her husband. On the whole, it seemed
safest, for the present at least, to stick to the friendly tree which
had proved so good a protector. He stood beside it, watching carefully,
intending, whenever peril threatened, to take instant refuge inside.
This was not particularly satisfactory, but he hoped Jack would soon
tire of the pursuit, and retrace his steps towards the cabin. If he
should do that, he would then be safe in continuing his flight.

Jack pushed on, believing that our hero was in advance. It had been a
fatiguing day, and this made his present midnight tramp more
disagreeable. His hopes of overtaking Walter became fainter and fainter,
and nature began to assert her rights. A drowsiness which he found it
hard to combat assailed him, and he found he must yield to it for a time
at least.

"I wish I was at home, and in bed," he muttered. "I'll lie down and take
a short nap, and then start again."

He threw himself down on the ground, and no longer resisted the
approaches of sleep. In five minutes his senses were locked in a deep
slumber, which, instead of a short nap, continued for several hours.

While he is sleeping we will go back to Walter. He, too, was sleepy, and
would gladly have laid down and slept if he had dared. But he felt the
peril of his position too sensibly to give way to his feelings. He
watched vigilantly for an hour, but nothing could be seen of Jack. That
hour seemed to him to creep with snail-like pace.

"I can't stand this watching till morning," he said to himself. "I will
find some out-of-the-way place, and try to sleep a little."

Searching about he found such a place as he desired. He lay down, and
was soon fast asleep. So pursuer and pursued had yielded to the spell of
the same enchantress, and half a mile distant from each other were
enjoying welcome repose.

Some hours passed away. The sun rose, and its rays lighted up the dim
recesses of the forest. When Walter opened his eyes he could not at
first remember where he was. He lifted his head from his carpet-bag
which he had used as a pillow, and looked around him in surprise; but
recollection quickly came to his aid.

"I must have been sleeping several hours," he said to himself, "for it
is now morning. I wonder if the man who was after me has gone home?"

He decided that this was probable, and resolved to make an attempt to
reach the edge of the forest. He wanted to get into the region of
civilization again, if for no other reason, because he felt hungry, and
was likely to remain so as long as he continued in the forest. He now
felt fresh and strong, and, taking his carpet-bag in his hand, prepared
to start on his journey. But he had scarcely taken a dozen steps when a
female figure stepped out from a covert, and he found himself face to
face with Meg.

Not knowing but that her husband might be close behind, he started back
in alarm and hesitation. She observed this, and said, "You needn't be
afraid, boy. I don't want to harm you."

"Is your husband with you?" asked Walter, on his guard.

"No, he isn't. He started out after you before midnight, and hasn't
been back since. That made me uneasy, and I came out to look for him."

"I have seen him," said Walter.

"Where and when?" asked the woman, eagerly.

It was strange that such a coarse brute should have inspired any woman
with love, but Meg did certainly love her husband, in spite of his
frequent bad treatment.

"It must have been within an hour of the time I left your house. He
stopped under that tree. That was where I saw him."

"Did he see you?"

"No, I was hidden."

"How long did he stay?"

"Only a few minutes, to get rested, I suppose. Then he went on."

"In what direction?"

"That way."

"I am glad he did not harm you. He was so angry when he started that I
was afraid of what would happen if he met you. You must keep out of his
way."

"That is what I mean to do if I can," said Walter. "Can you tell me the
shortest way out of the woods?"

"Go in that direction," said the woman, pointing, "and half a mile will
bring you out."

"It is rather hard to follow a straight path in the woods. If you will
act as my guide, I will give you a dollar."

Meg hesitated.

"If my husband should find out that I helped you to escape, he would be
very angry."

"Why need he know? You needn't tell him you met me."

The woman hesitated. Finally love of money prevailed.

"I'll do it," she said, abruptly. "Follow me."

She took the lead, and Walter followed closely in her steps. Remembering
the night before, he was not wholly assured of her good faith, and
resolved to keep his eyes open, and make his escape instantly if he
should see any signs of treachery. Possibly Meg might intend to lead
him into a trap, and deliver him up to her husband. He was naturally
trustful, but his adventures in the cabin taught him a lesson of
distrust.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

WALTER SHOWS STRATEGY.


Walter followed Meg through the woods. He felt sure that he would not
have far to go to reach the open fields. He had been delayed heretofore,
not by the distance, but by not knowing in what direction to go.

Few words were spoken between him and Meg. Remembering what had happened
at the cabin, and that even now he was fleeing from her husband, he did
not feel inclined to be sociable, and her thoughts were divided between
the money she was to be paid as the price of her services, and her
husband, for whose prolonged absence she could not account.

After walking for fifteen minutes, they came to the edge of the forest.
Skirting it was a meadow, wet in parts, for the surface was low.

"Where is the road?" asked Walter.

"You'll have to cross this meadow, and you'll come to it. It isn't
mor'n quarter of a mile. You'll find your way well enough without me."

Walter felt relieved at the prospect of a speedy return to the region of
civilization. It seemed to him as if he had passed the previous night
far away in some wild frontier cabin, instead of in the centre of a
populous and thriving neighborhood, within a few miles of several
flourishing villages.

He drew out a dollar-bill, and offered it to Meg.

"This is the money I agreed to pay you," he said. "Thank you, besides."

"You haven't much cause to thank me," she said, abruptly. "I would have
robbed you if I had the chance."

"I am sorry for that," said Walter. "Money got in that way never does
any good."

"Money is sure to do good, no matter how it comes," said the woman,
fiercely. "Think of what it will buy!--a comfortable home, ease, luxury,
respect. Some time before I die I hope to have as much as I want."

"I hope you will," said Walter; "but I don't think you will find it as
powerful as you think."

His words might as well have remained unspoken, for she paid no
attention to them. She seemed to be listening intently. Suddenly she
clutched his arm.

"I hear my husband's steps," she said, hurriedly. "Fly, or it will be
the worse for you."

"Thank you for the caution," said Walter, roused to the necessity of
immediate action.

"Don't stop to thank me. Go!" she said, stamping her foot impatiently.

He obeyed at once, and started on a run across the meadow.

A minute later, Jack came in sight.

"What, Meg, are you here?" he said, in surprise.

"Yes; I got anxious about you, because you did not come home. I was
afraid something had happened to you."

"What could happen to me?" he retorted, contemptuously. "I'm not a baby.
Have you seen the boy?"

He did not wait for an answer, for, looking across the meadow, he saw
the flying figure of our hero.

"There he is, now!" he exclaimed, in a tone of fierce satisfaction.

"Let him go, Jack!" pleaded Meg, who, in spite of herself, felt a
sympathy for the boy who, like herself, had been unfortunate.

He threw off the hand which she had placed upon his arm, saying,
contemptuously, "You're a fool!" and then dashed off in pursuit of
Walter.

Walter had the start, and had already succeeded in placing two hundred
yards between himself and his pursuer. But Jack was strong and athletic,
and could run faster than a boy of fifteen, and the distance between the
two constantly diminished. Walter looked over his shoulder, as he ran,
and, brave as he was, there came over him a sickening sensation of fear
as he met the fierce, triumphant glance of his enemy.

"Stop!" called out Jack, hoarsely.

Walter did not answer, neither did he obey. He was determined to hold
out to the last, and when he surrendered it would be only as a measure
of necessity.

"Are you going to stop or not? You'd better," growled Jack.

[Illustration]

Walter still remained silent; but his heart bounded with sudden hope as
he saw before him a means of possible escape. Only a few rods in advance
was a deep ditch, at least twelve feet wide, over which a single plank
was thrown as a bridge for foot-passengers. Walter summoned his
energies, and sped like a deer forward and over the bridge, when,
stooping down, he hastily pulled it over after him, thus cutting off his
enemy's advance. Jack saw his intention, and tried to reach the edge of
the ditch soon enough to prevent it. But he was just too late.

Baffled and enraged, he looked across the gulf which separated him from
his intended victim.

"Put back that plank," he roared, with an oath.

"I would rather not," said Walter, who stood facing him on the other
side, hot and excited.

"I'll kill you if I get at you," said Jack, shaking his fist menacingly.

"What have I done to you?" asked Walter, quietly. "Why do you want to
harm me?"

"Didn't you lock me up in the closet last night?"

"You wanted to take my money."

"I'll have it yet."

"It was all I could do," said Walter, who did not wish to excite any
additional anger in his already irritated foe. "I haven't got but a
little money, and I wanted to keep it."

"Money isn't the only thing you may lose," said the ruffian,
significantly. "Put back that plank. Do you hear me?"

"Yes," said Walter; "I hear, but I cannot do it."

"You're playin' a dangerous game, young one," said Jack. "Perhaps you
think I can't get over."

"I don't think you can," said Walter, glancing at the width of the
ditch.

"You may find yourself mistaken."

Walter did not answer.

"Will you put back that plank?" demanded Jack, once more.

"No," answered Walter.

"You'll be sorry for it then, you young cub!" said Jack, fiercely.

He walked back about fifty feet, and then faced round. His intention was
clear enough. He meant to jump over the ditch. Could he do it? That was
the question which suggested itself to the anxious consideration of our
hero. If the ground had been firm on the other side, such a jump for a
grown man would not have been by any means a remarkable one. But the
soft, spongy soil was unfavorable for a spring. Still it was possible
that Jack might succeed. If he did, was there any help for Walter?

Our hero took the plank, and put it over his shoulder, moving with it
farther down the edge. An idea had occurred to him, which had not yet
suggested itself to Jack, or the latter might have been less confident
of success.

Jack stood still for a moment, and then, gathering up his strength,
dashed forward. Arrived at the brink, he made a spring, but the soft
bank yielded him no support. He fell short of the opposite bank by at
least two feet, and, to his anger and disgust, landed in the water and
slime at the bottom of the ditch. With a volley of execrations, he
scrambled out, landing at last, but with the loss of one boot, which had
been drawn off by the clinging mud in which it had become firmly
planted. Still he was on the same side with Walter, and the latter was
now in his power. This was what he thought; but an instant later he saw
his mistake. Walter had stretched the plank over the ditch a few rods
further up, and was passing over it in safety.

Jack ran hastily to the spot, hoping to gain possession of the plank
which had been of such service to his opponent, and want of which had
entailed such misfortunes upon him. But Walter was too quick for him.
The plank was drawn over, and again he faced his intended victim with
the width of the ditch between.

He looked across at Walter with a glance of baffled rage. It was
something new to him to be worsted by a boy, and it mortified him and
angered him to such an extent that, had he got hold of him at that
moment, murder might have been committed.

"Put down that plank, and come across," he called out.

Walter did not reply.

"Why don't you answer, you rascal?"

"You know well enough what I would say," said Walter. "I don't care to
come."

"I shall get hold of you sooner or later."

"Perhaps you will," said Walter; "but not if I can help it."

"You're on the wrong side of the ditch. You can't escape."

"So are you on the wrong side. You can't get home without crossing."

"I can keep you there all day."

"I can stand it as well as you," said Walter.

He felt bolder than at first, for he appreciated the advantage which he
had in possessing the plank. True the situation was not a comfortable
one, and he would have gladly exchanged it for one that offered greater
security. Still, on the whole, he felt cool and calm, and waited
patiently for the issue.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

DELIVERANCE.


Jack might have waded back again across the ditch without inflicting
much additional damage upon his already wet and miry clothing; but he
fancied that Walter was in his power, and hoped he would capitulate. To
this end, he saw that it was necessary to reassure him, and deceive him
as to his own intentions.

"Come across, boy," he said, softening his tone. "You needn't be afraid.
I didn't mean nothing. I was only tryin' to see if I couldn't frighten
you a little."

"I'm very well off where I am," said Walter. "I think I'll stay where I
am."

"You won't want to stay there all day."

"I'd rather stay here all day than be on the same side with you."

"You needn't be afraid."

"I am not afraid," said Walter.

"You think I want to hurt you."

"I think I am safer on this side."

"Come, boy, I'll make a bargain with you. You've put me to a good deal
of trouble."

"I don't see that."

"You locked me up in the closet, and you've kept me all night huntin'
after you."

"You were not obliged to hunt after me, and as for locking you up in the
closet, it was the only way I had of saving my money."

Jack did not care to answer Walter's argument, but proceeded: "Now I've
got you sure, but I'll do the fair thing. If you'll come across and pay
me ten dollars for my trouble, I'll let you go without hurtin' you."

"What's to prevent you taking all my money, if you get me over there?"

"Haven't I said I wouldn't?"

"You might forget your promise," said Walter, whose confidence in Jack's
word was by no means great. A man who would steal probably would not be
troubled by many scruples on the subject of violating his word.

"If you don't come, I'll take every cent, and give you a beating
beside," said Jack, his anger gaining the ascendency.

"Well, what are you goin' to do about it?" demanded Jack, after a brief
pause.

"I'll stay where I am."

"I can come over any time, and get hold of you."

"Perhaps you can," said Walter. "I'll take the risk."

"I'll wait a while," thought Jack. "He'll come round after a while."

He sat down, and taking a clay pipe from his pocket, filled the bowl
with tobacco, and commenced smoking. Walter perceived that he was
besieged, but kept cool, and clung to his plank, which was his only hope
of safety. He began to speculate as to the length of time the besieging
force would hold out. He was already hungry, and there was a prospect of
his being starved into a surrender, or there would have been, if luckily
his opponent had not been also destitute of provisions. In fact, the
besieging party soon became disorganized from this cause. A night in
the open air had given keenness to Jack's appetite, and he felt an
uncomfortable craving for food.

"I wish Meg would come along," he muttered. "I feel empty."

But Meg did not come. She stood for a few minutes in the edge of the
woods, and watched her husband's pursuit of Walter. She saw his failure
to overtake his intended victim, and this made her easier in her mind. I
do not wish to represent her as better than she was. Her anxiety was
chiefly for her husband. She did not wish him to commit any act of
violence which would put him without the pale of the law. It was this
consideration, rather than a regard for Walter's safety, that influenced
her, though she felt some slight interest in our hero. She went home,
feeling that she could do no good in staying. Jack resented her
disappearance.

"She might know I wanted some breakfast," he growled to himself. "As
long as she gets enough to eat herself, she cares little for me."

This censure was not deserved. Meg was not a good woman, but she was
devoted to the coarse brute whom she called husband, and was at any
time ready to sacrifice her own comfort to his.

Two hours passed, and still besieger and besieged eyed each other from
opposite sides of the bank. Jack grew more and more irritable as the
cravings of his appetite increased, and the slight hope that Meg might
appear with some breakfast was dissipated. Walter also became more
hungry, but showed no signs of impatience.

At this time a boy was seen coming across the meadow. Jack espied him,
and the idea struck him that he might through him lay in a stock of
provisions.

"Come here, boy," he said. "Where do you live?"

The boy pointed to a small farm-house half a mile distant.

"Do you want to earn some money?"

"I dunno," said the boy, who had no objections to the money, but,
knowing Jack's shady reputation, was in doubt as to what was expected of
him.

"Go home, and get a loaf of bread and some cold meat, and bring me, and
I'll give you half a dollar."

"Didn't you bring your luncheon?" asked the boy.

"No, I came away without it, and I can't spare time to go back."

It occurred to the boy, noticing Jack's lazy posture, that business did
not appear to be very driving with the man whose time was so valuable.

"Perhaps mother won't give me the bread and meat," he said.

"You can give her half the money."

The boy looked across to Walter, wondering what kept him on the other
side. Our hero saw a chance of obtaining help.

"I'll give you a dollar," he called out, "if you'll go and tell somebody
that this man is trying to rob me of all my money. I slept in his house
last night, and he tried to rob me there. Now he will do the same if he
can get hold of me."

"If you tell that, I'll wring your neck," exclaimed Jack. "It's all a
lie. The boy slept at my house, as he says, and stole some money from
me. He escaped, but I'm bound to get it back if I stay here all day."

"That is not true," said Walter. "Carry my message, and I will give you
a dollar, and will, besides, reward the men that come to my assistance."
The boy looked from one to the other in doubt what to do.

"If you want your head broke, you'll do as he says," said Jack, rather
uneasy. "He won't pay what he promises."

"You shall certainly be paid," said Walter.

"You'd better shut up, or it'll be the worse for you," growled Jack. "Go
and get my breakfast quick, boy, and I'll pay you the fifty cents."

"All right," said the boy, "I'll go."

He turned, but when he was behind Jack, so that the latter could not
observe him, he made a sign to Walter that he would do as he wished.

Fifteen minutes later Jack rose to his feet. An idea had occurred to
him. At the distance of a furlong there was a rail-fence. It occurred to
him that one of these rails would enable him to cross the ditch, and
get at his victim. He was not afraid Walter would escape, since he could
easily turn back and capture him if he ventured across.

Walter did not understand his design in leaving the ditch. Was it
possible that he meant to raise the siege? This seemed hardly probable.
He watched, with some anxiety, the movements of his foe, fearing some
surprise.

When Jack reached the fence, and began to pull out one of the rails he
understood his object. His position was evidently becoming more
dangerous.

Jack came back with a triumphant smile upon his face.

"Now, you young cub," he said, "I've got you!"

Walter watched him warily, and lowered the plank, ready to convert it
into a bridge as soon as necessary. Jack put down the rail. It was long
enough to span the ditch, but was rather narrow, so that some caution
was needful in crossing it. Walter had moved several rods farther up,
and thrown the plank across. Though his chances of escape from the peril
that menaced him seemed to have diminished since his enemy was also
provided with a bridge and it became now a question of superior speed,
Walter was not alarmed. Indeed his prospects of deliverance appeared
brighter than ever, for he caught sight of two men approaching across
the meadow, and he suspected that they were sent by the boy whom he had
hired. These men had not yet attracted the attention of Jack, whose back
was turned towards them. He crossed the rail, and, at the same time,
Walter crossed the plank. This he threw across, and then, leaving it on
the bank, set out on a quick run.

"Now I'll catch him," thought Jack, with exultation; but he quickly
caught sight of our hero's reinforcements. He saw that his game was up,
and he abandoned it. His reputation was too well known in the
neighborhood for the story he had told to the boy to gain credence. He
was forced to content himself with shaking his fist at Walter, and then,
in discomfiture, returned to the woods, where he made up for his
disappointment by venting his spite on Meg. She would have fared worse,
had he known that Walter had found his way out of the wood through her
guidance.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE LAST OF JACK MANGUM.


"What's the matter?" asked one of the two men as Walter came up.

"I got lost in the woods, and passed the night in that man's house,"
said our hero. "He tried to rob me, but I locked him in the closet, and
jumped out of the window and escaped. This morning he got on my track,
and would have caught me but for the ditch."

"You locked him in the closet!" repeated the other. "How were you able
to do that? You are only a boy, while he is a strong man."

Walter explained the matter briefly.

"That was pretty smart," said Peter Halcomb, for this was the name of
the man who questioned him. "You're able to take care of yourself."

"I don't know how it would turn out, if you hadn't come up."

"I happened to be at home when my boy came and told me that Jack Mangum
had offered him fifty cents for some breakfast. He told me about you
also, and, as I suspected Jack was up to some of his tricks, I came
along."

"I am very much obliged to you," said Walter, "and I hope you'll let me
pay you for your trouble."

"I don't want any pay, but you may pay my boy what you promised him, if
you want to."

"I certainly will; and I never paid away money with more pleasure. As I
haven't had anything to eat since yesterday afternoon, I should like to
have you direct me to the nearest place where I can get some breakfast."

"Come to my house; I guess my wife can scare up some breakfast for you.
She'll be glad to see the boy that got the better of Jack Mangum."

"How long has this Jack Mangum lived about here?" asked Walter, after
accepting with thanks the offer of a breakfast.

"About five years. He's been in the county jail twice during that time,
and there's a warrant out for him now. He's a confirmed thief. He'd
rather steal any time than earn an honest living."

"Has he ever stolen anything from you?"

"I've missed some of my chickens from time to time, and, though I didn't
catch him taking them, I've no doubt he was the thief. Once I lost a
lamb, and I suppose it went in the same direction."

"So there is a warrant out for him now?"

"Yes, and I expect he'll be taken in a day or two. In that case he'll
have the privilege of a few months' free board in the county jail."

"Where is the jail?"

"In T----."

"That's the town I'm going to."

"Is it? Do your folks live there?"

"No, I'm travelling on business."

"What's your business?" asked the farmer.

The question was an abrupt one, but was not meant to be rude. In country
towns everybody feels that he has a right to become acquainted with the
business of any one with whom he comes in contact, even in its minutest
details. Walter understood this, having himself lived in a country
village, and answered without taking offence:--

"I am a book-agent."

"Be you? How do you make it pay?"

"Pretty well, but I can tell better by and by; I've only been in it a
week."

"You're pretty young to be a book-peddler Where do your folks live?"

"In New York."

"You've come some ways from home."

"Yes; I thought I should like to see the country."

"How old are you?"

"Fifteen."

"You'll make a smart man if you keep on."

"I hope I shall," said Walter, modestly; "but I am afraid you overrate
me."

"I'll tell you what I judge from. A boy of fifteen that can get the
better of Jack Mangum is smart, and no mistake."

"I hope I shall realize your prediction," returned Walter, who naturally
felt pleased with the compliment. Like most boys, he liked to be
considered smart, although he did not allow himself to be puffed up by
inordinate ideas of his own importance, as is the case with many of his
age.

While this conversation was going on, they had been walking towards the
farm-house in which Peter Holcomb lived. It was an humble one-story
building, with an attic above. On each side of it were broad fields,
some under cultivation; and there was an appearance of thrift and
comfort despite the smallness of the house.

"Come in," said Peter, leading the way. "John," he added, addressing the
hired man, who had accompanied him, "you may go into the potato field
and hoe. I'll be out directly."

Walter followed him into a broad, low room,--the kitchen,--in which Mrs.
Holcomb, a pleasant looking woman, was engaged in cooking.

"Mary," said her husband, "can't you scare up some breakfast for this
young man? He stopped at Jack Mangum's last night, and didn't like his
accommodations well enough to stay to breakfast."

"You don't say so," repeated Mrs. Holcomb her countenance expressing
curiosity. "That's about the last place I'd want to stop at."

"I shouldn't want to go there again," said Walter; "but I didn't know
anything about the man, or I would rather have stayed out in the woods."

"Well, Mary, how about the breakfast?"

"I guess I can find some," said she. "Sit right down here, and I'll see
what I can do for you."

She went to the pantry, and speedily reappeared with some cold meat, a
loaf of bread, and some fresh butter, which she placed on the table.

"I've got some hot water," she said, "and, in about five minutes, I can
give you some warm tea. It won't be much of a breakfast, but if you'll
stop for dinner, I can give you something better."

"It looks nice," said Walter, "and I don't know when I have been so
hungry."

At this moment the farmer's boy, who had served as Walter's messenger,
came into the kitchen.

"You got away," he said, smiling.

"Yes, thanks to you," said Walter. "Here is what I promised you."

"I don't know as I ought to take it," said the boy, hesitating, though
he evidently wanted it.

"You will do me a favor by accepting it," said Walter. "You got me out
of a bad scrape. Besides, you had a chance to earn some money from Jack
Mangum."

"I wouldn't have done anything for him, at any rate. He's a thief."

Finally Peter, for he was named after his father, accepted the dollar,
and, sitting down by Walter, asked him about his adventure in the wood,
listening with great interest to the details.

"I wouldn't have dared to do as you did," he said.

"Perhaps you would if you had been obliged to."

By this time the tea was steeped, and Walter's breakfast was before him.
He made so vigorous an onslaught upon the bread and meat that he was
almost ashamed of his appetite; but Mrs. Holcomb evidently felt
flattered at the compliment paid to her cookery, and watched the
demolition of the provisions with satisfaction.

"You had better stop to dinner," she said. "We shall have some roast
meat and apple-pudding."

"Thank you," said Walter; "but I have eaten enough to last me for
several hours. Can you tell me how far it is to the next town?"

"About five miles. I'm going to ride over there in about an hour. If
you'll wait till then I'll take you over."

Walter very readily consented to wait. He was rather afraid that if he
ventured to walk he might find Jack Mangum waiting to waylay him
somewhere in the road, and he had no desire for a second encounter with
him.

The farmer absolutely refused to accept pay for breakfast, though Walter
urged it. It was contrary to his ideas of hospitality.

"We don't keep a tavern," he said; "and we never shall miss the little
you ate. Come again and see us if you come back this way."

"Thank you," said Walter, "I will accept your invitation with pleasure,
but I shall not feel like calling on Mr. Mangum."

"I've no doubt he would be glad to see you," said Peter Holcomb,
smiling.

"Yes, he was very sorry to have me leave him last night."

Walter thought he had seen the last of Jack Mangum; but he was
mistaken. Three days later, while walking in the main street of T----,
with a book under his arm, for he had received a fresh supply from the
agent at Cleveland, he heard the sound of wheels. Looking up, he saw a
wagon approaching, containing two men. One of them, as he afterwards
learned, was the sheriff. The other he immediately recognized as Jack
Mangum. There was no mistaking his sinister face and forbidding scowl.
He had been taken early that morning by the sheriff, who, with a couple
of men to assist him, had visited the cabin in the forest, and, despite
the resistance offered by Jack, who was aided by his wife, he had been
bound, and was now being conveyed to jail. He also looked up and
recognized Walter. His face became even more sinister, as he shook his
fist at our hero.

"I'll be even with you some day, you young cub!" he exclaimed.

"Not if I can help it," thought Walter; but he did not answer in words.

He was rather gratified to hear the next day that Jack had been
sentenced to six months' imprisonment. He felt some pity, however, for
Meg, who might have been a good woman if she had been married to a
different man.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

JOSHUA BIDS GOOD-BY TO STAPLETON.


Leaving Walter busily engaged in selling books, we will glance at the
Drummond household, and inquire how the members of that interesting
family fared after Walter's departure.

Joshua's discontent increased daily. He was now eighteen, and his father
absolutely refused to increase his allowance of twenty-five cents a
week, which was certainly ridiculously small for a boy of his age.

"If you want money you must work for it," he said.

"How much will you give me if I will go into your store?" asked Joshua.

"Fifty cents a week and your board."

"I get my board now."

"You don't earn it."

"I don't see why I need to," said Joshua. "Aint you a rich man?"

"No, I'm not," said his father; "and if I were I am not going to waste
my hard-earned money on supporting you extravagantly."

"There's no danger of that," sneered Joshua, "We live meaner than any
family in town."

"You needn't find fault with your victuals, as long as you get them
free," retorted his father.

"If you'll give me two dollars a week, I'll come into the store."

"Two dollars!" exclaimed Mr. Drummond. "Are you crazy?"

"You think as much of a cent as most people do of a dollar," said
Joshua, bitterly. "Two dollars isn't much for the son of a rich man."

"I have already told you that I am not rich."

"You can't help being rich," said Joshua, "for you don't spend any
money."

"I've heard enough of your impudence," said his father, angrily. "If you
can get more wages than I offer you, you are at liberty to engage
anywhere else."

"Tom Burton gets a dollar and a quarter a day for pegging shoes," said
Joshua. "He dresses twice as well as I do."

"He has to pay his board out of it."

"He only pays three dollars a week, and that leaves him four dollars and
a half clear."

"So you consider Tom Burton better off than you are?"

"Yes."

"Then I'll make you an offer. I'll get you a place in a shoe-shop, and
let you have all you earn over and above three dollars a week, which you
can pay for your board."

Joshua seemed by no means pleased with this proposal.

"I'm not going to work in a shoe-shop," he said, sullenly.

"Why not?"

"It's a dirty business."

"Yet you were envying Tom Burton just now."

"It'll do well enough for him. He's a poor man's son."

"So was I a poor man's son. I had to work when I was a boy, and that's
the way I earned all I have. Not that I am rich," added Mr. Drummond,
cautiously, for he was afraid the knowledge of his wealth would tempt
his family to expect a more lavish expenditure, and this would not by
any means suit him.

"You didn't work in a shoe-shop."

"I should have been glad of the chance to do it, for I could have earned
more money that way than by being errand-boy in a store. It's just as
honorable to work in a shop as to be clerk in a store."

Though we are not partial to Mr. Drummond, he was undoubtedly correct in
this opinion, and it would be well if boys would get over their
prejudice against trades, which, on the whole, offer more assured
prospects of ultimate prosperity than the crowded city and country
stores.

This conversation was not particularly satisfactory to Joshua. As he now
received his board and twenty-five cents a week, he did not care to
enter his father's store for only twenty-five cents a week more.
Probably it would have been wiser for Mr. Drummond to grant his request,
and pay him two dollars a week. With this inducement Joshua might have
formed habits of industry. He would, at all events, have been kept out
of mischief, and it would have done him good to earn his living by hard
work. Mr. Drummond's policy of mortifying his pride by doling out a
weekly pittance so small that it kept him in a state of perpetual
discontent was far from wise. Most boys appreciate considerable
liberality, and naturally expect to be treated better as they grow
older. Joshua, now nearly nineteen, found himself treated like a boy of
twelve, and he resented it. It set him speculating about his father's
death, which would leave him master, as he hoped, of the "old man's"
savings. It is unfortunate when such a state of feeling comes to exist
between a father and a son. The time came, and that speedily, when Mr.
Drummond bitterly repented that he had not made some concessions to
Joshua.

Finding his father obstinate, Joshua took refuge at first in sullenness,
and for several days sat at the table without speaking a word to his
father, excepting when absolutely obliged to do so. Mr. Drummond,
however, was not a sensitive man, and troubled himself very little about
Joshua's moods.

"He'll get over it after a while," he said to himself. "If he'd rather
hold his tongue, I don't care."

Next Joshua began to consider whether there was any way in which to help
himself.

"If I only had a hundred dollars," he thought, "I'd go to New York, and
see if I couldn't get a place in a store."

That, he reflected, would be much better and more agreeable than being
in a country store. He would be his own master, and would be able to put
on airs of importance whenever he came home on a vacation. But his
father would give him no help in securing such a position, and he could
not go to the city without money. As for a hundred dollars, it might as
well be a million, so far as he had any chance of securing it.

While he was thinking this matter over, a dangerous thought entered his
mind. His father, he knew, had a small brass-nailed trunk, in which he
kept his money and securities. He had seen him going to it more than
once.

"I wonder how much he's got in it?" thought Joshua. "As it's all coming
to me some day there's no harm in my knowing."

There seemed little chance of finding out, however. The trunk was always
locked, and Mr. Drummond carried the key about with him in his pocket.
If he had been a careless man, there might have been some chance of his
some day leaving the trunk unlocked, or mislaying the key; but in money
matters Mr. Drummond was never careless. Joshua would have been obliged
to wait years, if he had depended upon this contingency.

One day, however, Joshua found in the road a bunch of keys of various
sizes attached to a ring. He cared very little to whom they belonged,
but it flashed upon him at once that one of these keys might fit his
father's strong-box. He hurried home at once with his treasure, and ran
upstairs breathless with excitement.

He knew where the trunk was kept. Mr. Drummond, relying on the security
of the lock, kept it in the closet of his bed-chamber.

"Where are you going, Joshua?" asked his mother.

"Upstairs, to change my clothes," was the answer.

"I've got a piece of pie for you."

"I'll come down in five minutes."

Joshua made his way at once to the closet, and, entering, began to try
his keys, one after the other. The very last one was successful in
opening the trunk.

Joshua trembled with excitement as he saw the contents of the trunk laid
open to his gaze. He turned over the papers nervously, hoping to come
upon some rolls of bills. In one corner he found fifty dollars in gold
pieces. Besides these, there were some mortgages, in which he felt
little interest. But among the contents of the trunk were some folded
papers which he recognized at once as United States Bonds. Opening one
of them, he found it to be a Five-Twenty Bond for five hundred dollars.

Five hundred dollars! What could he not do with five hundred dollars! He
could go to the city, and board, enjoying himself meanwhile, till he
could find a place. His galling dependence would be over, and he would
be his own master. True it would be a theft, but Joshua had an excuse
ready.

"It will all be mine some day," he said to himself. "It's only taking a
part of my own in advance."

He seized the gold and the bond, and, hastily concealing both in his
breast-pocket, went downstairs, first locking the trunk, and putting it
away where he found it.

"What's the matter, Joshua?" asked his mother, struck by his nervous and
excited manner.

"Nothing," he answered, shortly.

"Are you well?"

"I've got a little headache,--that is all."

"Perhaps you'd better not eat anything then."

"It won't do me any harm. I'll take a cup of tea, if you've got any."

"I can make some in five minutes."

Joshua ate his lunch, and, going upstairs again, came down speedily,
arrayed in his best clothes. He got out of the house without his mother
seeing him, and made his way to a railway station four miles distant,
where he purchased a ticket for New York.

He took a seat by a window, and, as the car began to move, he said to
himself, in exultation,

"Now I am going to see life."



CHAPTER XXXVII.

CONCLUSION.


Three months later Walter arrived at Columbus, the capital of the State,
after a business tour of considerable length, during which he had
visited from twenty to thirty different towns and villages. He had now
got used to the business, and understood better what arguments to employ
with those whom he wished to purchase his book. The consequence was,
that he had met with a degree of success which exceeded his
anticipations. He had tested his powers, and found that they were
adequate to the task he had undertaken,--that of earning his own living.
He had paddled his own canoe thus far without assistance, and he felt
confident that, if his health continued good, he should be able to do so
hereafter.

After eating supper, and spending an hour or two in the public room of
the hotel, Walter went up to his room. Here he took out a blank-book,
in which he kept an account of his sales and expenditures, and, taking a
piece of paper, figured up the grand result. He wished to know just how
he stood.

After a brief computation, he said, with satisfaction, "I have sold two
hundred and eighty books, which gives a gross profit of three hundred
and fifty dollars. My expenses have been exactly two hundred and
sixty-three dollars. That leaves me eighty-seven dollars net profit."

This was a result which might well yield Walter satisfaction. He was
only fifteen, and this was his first business experience. Moreover, he
was nearly a thousand miles away from home and friends, surrounded by
strangers. Yet, by his energy and business ability, he had been able to
pay all his expenses, and these, of course, were considerable, as he was
constantly moving, and yet had made a dollar a day clear profit.

"That is rather better than working for my board in Mr. Drummond's
store," he reflected. "I am afraid it would have taken me a long time to
make my fortune if I had stayed there. I wonder how my amiable cousin
Joshua is getting along."

This thought led to the sudden recollection that he had written to Mr.
Shaw, asking him to write to the hotel at Columbus where he was now
stopping, giving him any news that he might consider interesting. Such a
letter might be awaiting him.

He went downstairs, and approached the clerk.

"Have any letters been received here for me?" he inquired.

"What name?" asked the clerk.

"Walter Conrad."

"There is a letter for that address. It was received a week since."

"Give it to me," said Walter, eagerly.

He took the letter, and recognized at once in the address Clement Shaw's
irregular handwriting. Cut off, as he had been for over a month, from
all communication with former friends, he grasped the letter with a
sensation of joy, and hurried back to his room to read it quietly, and
without risk of interruption.

The letter ran as follows:--


     "MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND: I have just received your letter asking me
     to write you at Columbus. I am glad to obtain your address, as I
     have a matter of importance to speak of. First, however, let me
     congratulate you on the success you have met with as a book-agent.
     It is not a business to which I should advise you to devote
     yourself permanently; but I have no doubt that the experience which
     you acquire, and the necessary contact into which it brings you
     with different classes of people, will do you good, while the new
     scenes which it brings before your eyes will gratify the natural
     love of adventure which you share in common with those of your age.
     When you set out, I had misgivings as to your success, I admit. It
     was certainly an arduous undertaking for a boy of fifteen; but you
     have already demonstrated that you are able to _paddle your own
     canoe_; and I shall hereafter feel confident of your success in
     life, so far at least as relates to earning your living. That you
     may also be successful in building up a good character, and taking
     an honorable position among your fellow-men, I earnestly hope.

     "I now come to the business upon which I wish to speak to you.

     "You will remember that a man named James Wall was prominently
     identified with the Great Metropolitan Mining Company, by which
     your poor father lost his fortune. Indeed, this Wall, who is a
     plausible sort of fellow, was the one who induced him to embark in
     this disastrous speculation. I suspect he has feathered his own
     nest pretty well already, and that he intends to do so still more.
     I was surprised to hear from him some ten days since. I will not
     copy the letter, but send you the substance of it. He reports that
     in winding up the affairs of the company, there is a prospect of
     realizing two per cent. for the stockholders, which, as your father
     owned a thousand shares, would yield two thousand dollars. It may
     be some time, he adds, before the dividend will be declared and
     paid. He professes a willingness, however, to pay two thousand
     dollars cash for a transfer of your father's claims upon the
     company.

     "Now, two thousand dollars are not to be despised; but, my
     impression is, that such a man as James Wall would never have made
     such an offer if he had not expected the assets would amount to
     considerable more than two per cent. I am unwilling to close with
     the offer until I know more about the affairs of the company. Here
     it has struck me that you can be of assistance. This Wall lives in
     a town named Portville, in Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake
     Superior. I would suggest that you change your name, go at once to
     Portville, and find out what you can. I can give you no
     instructions, but must trust to your own native shrewdness, in
     which I feel sure you are not deficient. If it should be necessary
     to give up your present business, do so without hesitation, since
     the other business is of more importance. I expect you to start at
     once; and I will write Mr. Wall that I have his offer under
     consideration. If you need money, draw upon me.

     "I hear that Joshua Drummond has run away from home, carrying away
     considerable money belonging to his father. The latter appears to
     lament the loss of his money more than of his son.

     "I remain your sincere friend,

     "CLEMENT SHAW."


This letter gave Walter considerable food for reflection. He determined
to wind up his book agency, and leave as soon as possible for Portville.
It was encouraging to think that, in any event, he was likely to realize
two thousand dollars from the mining shares, which he had looked upon as
valueless. Besides, he felt there was good reason to hope they would
prove even more valuable.

Three days later, having closed his accounts as agent, he started for
Portville. Those of my readers who may desire to follow him in his new
experiences, and learn his success, as well as those who feel desirous
of ascertaining Joshua Drummond's fortunes, are referred to the next
volume of this series, to be called


          STRIVE AND SUCCEED;

                 or,

     THE PROGRESS OF WALTER CONRAD.



+--------------------------------------------------+
| Transcriber's note:                              |
|                                                  |
| Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.  |
|                                                  |
| A table of contents has been added.              |
|                                                  |
+--------------------------------------------------+





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ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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