FACING THE WORLD
HORATIO ALGER, JR.
Horatio Alger, Jr., in "Facing the World," gives us as his hero a boy whose parents have both died and the man appointed as his guardian is unjust and unkind to him. In desperation he runs away and is very fortunate in finding a true friend in a man who aids him and makes him his helper in his work as magician.
They travel over the country and have many interesting experiences, some narrow escapes and thrilling adventures.
HARRY RECEIVES A LETTER
"Here's a letter for you, Harry," said George Howard. "I was passing the hotel on my way home from school when Abner Potts called out to me from the piazza, and asked me to bring it."
The speaker was a bright, round-faced boy of ten. The boy whom he addressed was five or six years older. Only a week previous he had lost his father, and as the family consisted only of these two, he was left, so far as near relatives were concerned, alone in the world.
Immediately after the funeral he had been invited home by Mr. Benjamin Howard, a friend of his father, but in no manner connected with him by ties of relationship.
"You can stay here as long as you like, Harry," said Mr. Howard, kindly. "It will take you some time to form your plans, perhaps, and George will be glad to have your company."
"Thank you, Mr. Howard," said Harry, gratefully.
"Shall you look for some employment here?"
"No; my father has a second cousin in Colebrook, named John Fox. Before he died he advised me to write to Mr. Fox, and go to his house if I should receive an invitation."
"I hope for your sake, he will prove a good man. What is his business?"
"I don't know, nor did my father. All I know is, that he is considered a prosperous man. This letter is from him."
It was inclosed in a brown envelope, and ran as follows:
"HARRY VANE: I have received your letter saying that your father wants me to be your guardeen. I don't know as I have any objections, bein' a business man it will come easy to me, and I think your father was wise to seleck me. I am reddy to receave you any time. You will come to Bolton on the cars. That is eight miles from here, and there is a stage that meats the trane. It wouldn't do you any harm to walk, but boys ain't so active as they were in my young days. The stage fare is fifty cents, which I shall expect you to pay yourself, if you ride.
"There is one thing you don't say anything about—how much proparty your pa left. I hope it is a good round sum, and I will take good care of it for you. Ennybody round here will tell you that John Fox is a good man of business, and about as sharp as most people. Mrs. Fox will be glad to see you, and my boy, Joel, will be glad to have someone to keep him company. He is about sixteen years old. You don't say how old you are, but from your letter I surmise that you are as much as that. You will find a happy united famerly, consistin' of me and my wife, Joel and his sister, Sally. Sally is fourteen, just two years younger than Joel. We live in a comfortable way, but we don't gorge ourselves on rich, unhelthy food. No more at present. Yours to command,
Harry smiled more than once as he read this letter.
"Your relative isn't strong on spelling," remarked Mr. Howard, as he laid the letter on the table.
"No, sir; but he appears to be strong on economy. It is a comfort to know that I shall not be injured by 'rich, unhelthy food.'"
"When do you mean to start for Colebrook?" asked Mr. Howard.
"To-morrow morning. I have been looking at a railroad guide, and I find it will bring me to Colebrook in time for supper."
"We should be glad to have you stay with us as long as possible, Harry."
"Thank you, Mr. Howard, I don't doubt that, but the struggle of life is before me, and I may as well enter upon it at once."
At four o'clock in the afternoon the conductor of the train on which Harry was a passenger called out Bolton.
Harry snatched up his carpetbag, and made his way to the door, for this was the place where he was to take the stage for Colebrook.
Two other passengers got out at the same time. One was an elderly man, and the other a young man of twenty-five. They appeared to be father and son, and, as Harry learned afterward they were engaged in farming,
"Any passengers for Colebrook?" inquired the driver of the old-fashioned Concord stage, which was drawn up beside the platform.
"There's Obed and me," said the old farmer.
"May I ride on the seat with you?" asked Harry of the driver.
"Sartain. Where are you going?"
"Then this is your team."
Harry climbed up with a boy's activity, and sat down on the broad seat, congratulating himself that he would have a chance to see the country, and breathe better air than those confined inside.
Soon the driver sat down on the box beside him, and started the horses.
"You're a stranger, ain't you?" he remarked, with an inquisitive glance at his young traveling companion.
"Yes; I've never been here before."
"Are you going to the tavern?"
"No; I'm going to the house of Mr. John Fox. Do you know him?"
"I reckon everybody round here knows John Fox."
"I don't know him. He is to be my guardian."
"Sho! You'll have a queer guardeen."
"The fact is, old John'll cheat you out of your eye teeth ef he gets a chance. He's about the sharpest man round."
"He can't cheat me out of much," returned Harry, not especially reassured by this remark. "What is the business of Mr. Fox?"
"Well, he's got some land, but he makes his livin' chiefly by tradin' hosses, auctioneerin', and such like."
"What sort of a woman is Mrs. Fox?"
"She's a good match for the old man. She's about as mean as he is."
"Mr. Fox wrote me that he had two children."
"Yes, there's Joel—he's about your age. He's a chip of the old block—red-headed and freckled, just like the old man. I don't believe Joel ever spent a cent in his life. He hangs on to money as tight as ef his life depended on it."
"There's a girl, too, isn't there?"
"Yes, Sally. She looks like her ma, except she's red-headed like her pa."
"I'm glad to know something of the family, but I'm afraid I shan't enjoy myself very much among the Foxes."
With such conversation Harry beguiled the way. On the whole, he enjoyed the ride. There were hills and here and there the road ran through the woods. He could hear the singing of birds, and, notwithstanding what he had heard he felt in good spirits.
At length the stage entered the village of Colebrook. It was a village of moderate size—about two hundred houses being scattered over a tract half a mile square. Occupying a central position was the tavern, a square, two-story building, with a piazza in front, on which was congregated a number of villagers. After rapidly scanning them, the driver said:
"Do you see that tall man over there leanin' against a post?"
"That's your guardeen! That's John Fox himself, as large as life, and just about as homely."
THE DANGER SIGNAL
The man pointed out to Harry as his guardian was tall, loosely put together, with a sharp, thin visage surrounded by a thicket of dull-red hair. He came forward as Harry jumped to the ground after descending from the elevated perch, and said: "I reckon this is Harry Vane?"
"That is my name, sir."
"Glad to see you. Just take your traps, and come along with me. Mrs. Fox will have supper ready by the time we come."
Harry was not, on the whole, attracted by the appearance of his guardian. There was a crafty look about the eyes of Mr. Fox which seemed to make his name appropriate. He surveyed his young ward critically.
"You're pretty well grown," he said.
"And look stout and strong."
"I believe I am both."
"My boy, Joel, is as tall as you, but not so hefty. He's goin' to be tall like me. He's a sharp boy—Joel."
"By the way, you didn't write how much property your father left."
"After the funeral bills are paid, I presume there'll be only about three hundred dollars left."
Mr. Fox stopped short and whistled.
"Father hadn't much talent at making money," said Harry, soberly.
"I should say not. Why, that money won't last you no time at all."
"I am old enough to work for a living. Isn't there something I can find to do in Colebrook?"
"I guess I can give you work myself—There's always more or less to do 'round a place. I keep a man part of the time, but I reckon I can let him go and take you on instead. You see, that will count on your board, and you don't want to spend your money too fast."
"Very well, sir. There's only one thing I will stipulate; I will wait a day or two before going to work. I want to look about the place a little."
While this conversation was going on, they had traveled a considerable distance. A little distance ahead appeared a square house, painted yellow, with a barn a little back on the left, and two old wagons alongside.
"That's my house," said John Fox. "There's Joel."
Joel, a tall boy in figure, like his father, came forward and eyed Harry with sharp curiosity.
"How are ye?" said Joel, extending a red hand, covered with warts.
"Pretty well, thank you," said Harry, not much attracted to his new acquaintance.
"Here's Sally, too!" said John Fox. "Sally, this is my ward, Harry Vane."
Sally, who bore a striking family resemblance to her father and brother, giggled.
Mrs. Fox, to whom Harry was introduced at the supper table, was as peculiar in her appearance and as destitute of beauty as the rest of the family.
The next day, Harry, feeling it must be confessed, rather homesick, declined Joel's company, and took an extended stroll about the town. He found that though the railway by which he had come was eight miles distant, there was another, passing within a mile of the village. He struck upon it, and before proceeding far made a startling discovery. There had been some heavy rains, which had washed out the road for a considerable distance, causing the track to give way.
"Good heavens!" thought Harry, "if a train comes over the road before this is mended, there'll be a wreck and loss of life. What can I do?"
Just across the field stood a small house. In the yard the week's washing was hung out. Among the articles was a red tablecloth.
"May I borrow that tablecloth?" asked Harry, in excitement, of a woman in the doorway.
"Land sakes! what for?" she asked.
"To signal the train. The road's washed away."
"Yes, yes; I'm expectin' my darter on that train," answered the woman, now as excited as our hero. "Hurry up! the train's due in fifteen minutes."
Seizing the tablecloth, Harry gathered it quickly into a bundle and ran back to the railroad. He hurried down the track west of a curve which was a few hundred feet beyond the washout, and saw the train coming at full speed. He jumped on a fence skirting the tracks, and waved the tablecloth wildly.
"Will they see it?" he asked himself, anxiously.
It was an anxious moment for Harry as he stood waving the danger signal, uncertain whether it would attract the attention of the engineer. It did! The engineer, though not understanding the meaning of the signal, not knowing indeed, but it might be a boy's freak, prudently heeded it, and reversing the engine, stopped the train a short distance of the place of danger.
"Thank God!" exclaimed Harry, breathing a deep sigh of relief.
The engineer alighted from the train, and when he looked ahead, needed no explanation.
"My boy!" he said, with a shudder, "you have saved the train."
"I am glad of it, sir. My heart was in my mouth, lest you should not see my signal."
By this time the passengers, whose curiosity had been roused by the sudden halt, began to pour out of the cars.
When they saw the washout, strong men turned pale, and ladies grew faint, while many a fervent ejaculation of gratitude was heard at the wonderful escape.
"We owe our lives to this boy!" said the engineer. "It was he who stood on the fence and signaled me. We owe our deliverance to this—tablecloth."
A small man, somewhat portly, pushed his way up to Harry.
"What is your name, my lad?" he asked, brusquely.
"I am the president and leading stockholder of the road, and my property has come very near being the death of me. Gentlemen"—here the president turned to the group of gentlemen around him—"don't you think this boy deserves a testimonial?"
"Yes, yes!" returned the gentlemen, in chorus.
"So do I, and I lead off with a subscription of twenty dollars."
One after another followed the president's lead, the president himself making the rounds bareheaded, and gathering the contributions in his hat.
"Oh, sir!" said Harry, as soon as he understood what was going forward, "don't reward me for what was only my duty. I should be ashamed to accept anything for the little I have done."
"You may count it little to save the lives of a train full of people," said the president, dryly, "but we set a slight value upon our lives and limbs. Are you rich?"
"So I thought. Well, you needn't be ashamed to accept a little testimonial of our gratitude. You must not refuse."
When all so disposed had contributed, the president gathered the bills from the hat and handed the pile to Harry.
"Take them, my boy," he said, "and make good use of them. I shall owe you a considerable balance, for I value my life at more than twenty dollars. Here is my card. If you ever need a friend, or a service, call on me."
Then the president gave directions to the engineer to run back to the preceding station, where there was a telegraph office, from which messages could be sent in both directions to warn trains of the washout.
Harry was left with his hands full of money, hardly knowing whether he was awake or dreaming.
One thing seemed to him only fair—to give the owner of the tablecloth some small share of the money, as an acknowledgment for the use of her property.
"Here, Madam," said Harry, when he had retraced his steps to the house, "is your tablecloth, for which I am much obliged. It saved the train."
"Well, I'm thankful! Little did I ever think a tablecloth would do so much good. Why, it only cost me a dollar and a quarter."
"Allow me to ask your acceptance of this bill to pay you for the use of it."
"Land sakes! why, you've given me ten dollars!"
"It's all right. It came from the passengers. They gave me something too."
"You didn't tell me your name."
"My name is Harry Vane."
"Do you live round here? I never heerd the name afore."
"I've just come to the village. I'm going to live with John Fox."
"You don't say! Be you any kin to Fox?"
"Not very near. He's my guardian."
"If he hears you've had any money give you, he'll want to take care of it for you."
This consideration had not occurred to Harry. Indeed, he had for so short a time been the possessor of the money, of which he did not know the amount, that this was not surprising.
"Well, good-morning!" he said.
"Good-morning! It's been a lucky mornin' for both of us."
"I must go somewhere where I can count this money unobserved," he said to himself.
Not far away he saw a ruined shed.
Harry entered the shed, and sitting down on a log, took out the bills, which he had hurriedly stuffed in his pocket, and began to count them.
"Almost three hundred dollars!" murmured Harry, joyously. "It has been, indeed, a lucky morning for me. It has nearly doubled my property."
The question arose in his mind: "Should he give this money to Mr. Fox to keep for him?"
"No," he decided, "I won't give him this money. I won't even let him know I have it." Where, then, could he conceal it? Looking about him, he noticed a little, leather-covered, black trunk, not more than a foot long, and six inches deep. It was locked, but a small key was in the lock.
Opening the trunk he found it empty. The lock seemed in good condition. He made a pile of the bills, and depositing them in this receptacle, locked the trunk and put the key in his pocket.
Now for a place of concealment.
Harry came out of the shed, and looked scrutinizingly around him. Not far away was a sharp elevation surmounted by trees. The hill was a gravelly formation, and therefore dry. At one point near a withered tree, our hero detected a cavity, made either by accident or design. Its location near the tree made it easy to discover.
With a little labor he enlarged and deepened the hole, till he could easily store away the box in its recess, then covered it up carefully, and strewed grass and leaves over all to hide the traces of excavation.
"There that will do," he said, in a tone of satisfaction.
He had reserved for possible need fifteen dollars in small bills, which he put into his pocketbook.
John Fox had heard the news in the post office, and started off at once for the scene of danger.
"How'd they hear of the washout?" he asked, puzzled.
"I heerd that a boy discovered it, and signaled the train," said his neighbor.
"How did he do it?"
"Waved a shawl or somethin'."
"That don't seem likely; where would a boy find a shawl?"
His informant looked puzzled.
"Like as not he borrowed it of Mrs. Brock," he suggested.
Mrs. Brock was the woman living in the small house near by, so that the speaker's surmise was correct. It struck John Fox as possible, and he said so.
"I guess I'll go and ask the Widder Brock," he said. "She must have seen the train, livin' so near as she does."
"I'll go along with you."
The two men soon found themselves on Mrs. Brock's premises.
"Good-mornin,' Mrs. Brock," said John Fox.
"You've come nigh havin' a causality here."
"You're right there, Mr. Fox," answered Mrs. Brock. "I was awful skeered about it, for I thought my Nancy might be on the train. When the boy run into my yard——"
"The boy! What boy?" asked Fox, eagerly.
"It was that boy you are guardeen of."
"What, Harry Vane?" ejaculated Fox, in genuine surprise.
"Tell me all about it, Mrs. Brock."
"Well, you see, he ran into my yard all out of breath, and grabbin' a red tablecloth from the line, asked me if I would lend it to him. 'Land sakes!' says I, 'what do you want of a tablecloth?'"
"'The track's washed away,' he said, 'and I want to signal the train. There's danger of an accident.' Of course, I let him have it, and he did signal the train, standin' on the fence, and wavin' the tablecloth. So the train was saved!"
"And did he bring back the tablecloth?"
"Of course, he did, and that wasn't all. He brought me a ten-dollar bill to pay for the use of it."
"Gave you a ten-dollar bill!" exclaimed John Fox, in amazement. "That was very wrong."
"You hadn't no claim on the money if you are his guardeen. A collection was took up by the passengers, and given to the boy, and he thought I ought to have pay for use of the tablecloth, so he gave me a ten-dollar bill—and a little gentleman he is, too."
"A collection taken up for my ward?" repeated Fox, pricking up his ears. "Well, well! that is news."
John Fox was already on his way back to the road. He was anxious to find his ward.
HARRY DISAGREES WITH HIS GUARDIAN
Harry and his guardian met at the dinner table. Mrs. Fox had provided a boiled dinner, to which Harry was ready to do justice.
Mr. Fox seemed unusually pleasant.
"I find, Harry," he said, clearing his throat, "that you have already been distinguishing yourself."
"Then you heard of the narrow escape of the train?" said Harry.
"Yes, I heard that but for your presence of mind, and Mrs. Brock's tablecloth, there would have been a smash-up."
"What on earth are you talkin' about, John Fox?" demanded his wife, curiously.
"Well, you see, Maria, the rain of last night washed away part of the railroad track, and the train would have been plunged into a gully if our young boarder here hadn't seen the danger, and, borrowin' a tablecloth from Mrs. Brock, signaled the train."
"You don't say?"
"That isn't all," resumed John Fox. "The passengers took up a contribution, and I expect gave quite a handsome sum to our young friend."
"How much did the folks give you?" asked Joel eagerly.
"I've got fifteen dollars left," he replied. "I gave some money to Mrs. Brock for the use of the tablecloth."
John Fox looked disappointed and disgusted.
"You don't mean to say," he ejaculated, sharply, "that you gave away almost half of your money for the use of an old tablecloth that would be dear at a dollar?"
"If I hadn't had the tablecloth, I couldn't have attracted the engineer's attention," said Harry, mildly.
There was a little more conversation on the subject, but Harry remained tranquil, and did not appear disturbed by the criticisms elicited by his conduct. He heartily hoped that his guardian's family would not find out how large a sum he had received.
When dinner was over, Harry was about to leave the house, when John Fox said, insinuatingly: "Don't you think you'd better give me that money to keep for you? It will be safer in my hands."
"Thank you, Mr. Fox," said Harry, "but I think I can take care of it myself."
"Fifteen dollars is a good deal of money for a boy like you to carry round with you," said his guardian.
"I don't think I shall lose it, sir," replied the boy.
"Perhaps not, but you will be tempted to spend it wastefully."
John Fox didn't look amiable. He was in doubt whether he might not properly take from his ward the money by force, but it occurred to him that it would be better not to assert his authority quite so soon.
"We will speak of this again," he said.
"It is well I didn't bring all the money home. I wonder how soon Mr. Fox will make another attempt to secure the sum I have with me," thought Harry.
The attempt was made that same night.
Harry was afraid he would be expected to occupy the same room with Joel, in which case he could hope for no privacy, and would be unable to conceal his money, which he had little doubt his guardian intended to secure, either by fair means or foul. It chanced, however, that Joel slept in a small bedroom opening out of his parents' chamber. So Harry was assigned an attic room, in the end of the house, the sides sloping down to the eaves. It was inferior to the chambers on the second floor, but our hero was not disposed to complain. He valued solitude more than superior finish.
Harry's suspicion was roused by the circumstance that his guardian did not again refer to his money, nor did he manifest any disappointment at his ward's declining to intrust him with it.
During the evening, Joel brought out a backgammon board, and proposed to Harry to play. If there would have been anything to read Harry would have preferred entertaining himself in that way, but Mr. Fox didn't appear to be literary. There were a few books in the house, but they were not of an attractive character.
Partly in backgammon, partly in conversation with the son and heir of the Foxes, the time passed till half-past eight o'clock.
"Joel, you can go to bed," said his mother. "It is half-past eight."
Joel yawned, and interposed no objection.
"You may as well go, too, Harry," said Mrs. Fox.
"I am ready to go to bed," said Harry.
In fact, he felt rather sleepy, and anticipated little pleasure in sitting up in the far from exciting company of Mr. and Mrs. Fox.
"Joel!" said his mother, "take this candle and show Harry upstairs in the attic chamber."
So, preceded by Joel, Harry went up two flights of stairs to the attic room reserved for him. It was the only room that had been finished off, and the garret outside looked dark and forbidding.
"I would be scared to sleep up here," said his companion.
"I shall not be at all frightened, Joel," said Harry.
"Good-night. Just hold the candle while I go downstairs."
When he was fairly all alone, Harry began to look about him, to ascertain in what kind of quarters he was to pass the night. To begin with he examined the door, he ascertained that it was a common latch door, and there was no lock. There was nothing to prevent anyone entering the room during the night. There was a small cot bed in one corner, a chair, and an old wooden chest. There was no bureau nor washstand. The absence of the latter annoyed Harry.
He learned afterward that he was expected to go downstairs and wash in a large basin in the kitchen sink—wiping his face on a brown, roll towel which was used by the entire family. This was quite unsatisfactory to Harry, who was scrupulously neat in his tastes.
"This isn't a palace exactly," Harry said to himself.
Then came the thought, "What was he to do with his money?"
Now, it so happened that Harry was the possessor of two pocketbooks—one—shabby, and well worn, which he had failed to throw away on buying another just before he left home. In connection with this, a scheme for outwitting Mr. Fox came into his mind. He folded up a fragment of newspaper, and put it into the old pocketbook, bulging it out till it looked well filled, and this he left in the pocket of his pantaloons.
"Now to hide the other," said he to himself.
He looked about the room seeking for some place of concealment. Finally he noticed in one portion of the floor a square board, which looked as if it might be lifted. He stooped over and succeeded in raising it. The space beneath was about a foot in depth—the lower level being the lathing and plastering of the room below.
"That will do," said Harry, in a tone of satisfaction. "I don't think Mr. Fox will find my money here," and dropping the pocketbook into the cavity he replaced the square board. Then he went to bed and awaited results.
When Harry had gone up to his bed, Mr. and Mrs. Fox naturally began to compare notes respecting him.
"That new boy rides a high horse," said Mrs. Fox, grimly. "Are you going to allow it?"
"He wouldn't give up his money to you, though you are his guardeen."
"Very true, but I mean to have it all the same. I shall go up to his bedroom after he is asleep, and then it will be the easiest thing in the world to take the pocketbook without his knowin' anything about it."
"He'll know it in the mornin'."
"Let him! Possession is nine p'ints of the law, Mrs. Fox."
"He might say you stole it."
"He can't do that, for I'm his guardeen, don't you see?"
A little after ten Mr. Fox, considering that Harry must be sound asleep, decided to make him a visit. He removed his shoes, and in his stocking feet, candle in hand, began to ascend the narrow and steep staircase which led to the attic.
"Shall I go with you, John?" queried his helpmeet.
"No, I guess I can manage alone."
His wife wanted to share in the excitement of the night visit. There was something alluring in the thought of creeping upstairs, and removing by stealth, the pocketbook of the new inmate of their home.
Left to himself, Mr. Fox pursued his way up the attic stairs. They creaked a little under his weight, and, much to his annoyance, when he reached the landing at the top he coughed.
"I hope the boy won't hear me," he said to himself.
He paused an instant, then softly opened the door of Harry's chamber.
All seemed satisfactory. Our hero was lying quietly in bed, apparently in a peaceful sleep. Ordinarily he would have been fast asleep by this time, but the expectation of a visit from his guardian had kept him awake beyond his usual time. He had heard Mr. Fox cough, and so, even before the door opened, he had warning of the visit.
Harry was not a nervous boy, and had such command of himself, that, even when Mr. Fox bent over, and, by the light of the candle, examined his face, he never stirred nor winked, though he very much wanted to laugh.
"All is safe! The boy is sound asleep," whispered Mr. Fox to himself.
He set the candle on the floor, and then taking up Harry's pantaloons, thrust his hand into the pocket.
The very first pocket contained the pocketbook which our hero had put there. Mr. Fox would have opened and examined the contents on the spot, but he heard a cough from the bed, and, quickly put the pocketbook into his own pocket, apprehending that his ward might wake up, and taking up the candle, noiselessly withdrew from the chamber.
After he had fairly gone, Harry had a quiet laugh to himself.
Mr. Fox returned in triumph to his own chamber, where his wife was anxiously waiting for him.
"Have you got it, Mr. F.," she asked, eagerly.
"Got it? Why shouldn't I get it?"
"Well, open it, and let us see what it contains."
This Mr. Fox proceeded to do. But no sooner did his glance rest on its contents than his lower jaw fell, and his eyes opened wide in perplexity.
"Well, what are you staring at like a fool?" demanded his wife, who was not so situated that she could see the contents of the pocketbook.
"Look at this, Mrs. F.," said her husband, in a hollow voice. "There's no money here—only this piece of newspaper."
"Well, well, of all the fools I ever saw you are about the most stupid!" ejaculated Mrs. Fox. "What you undertake you generally carry through, do you? After all the fuss you've brought down a pocketbook stuffed with waste paper."
"I don't understand it," said Fox, his face assuming a look of perplexity. "Surely the boy told the truth when he said he had fifteen dollars."
"Of course! Joel saw the money—a roll of bills, and saw him take them out of his pocketbook. He must have taken them out. Did you search all his pockets?"
"No; when I found the pocketbook I thought I was all right."
"Just like a man!" retorted Mrs. Fox. "I'll go up myself, and see if I can't manage better than you."
"Then you'd better take this wallet, and put it back in his pocket."
"Give it to me, then."
With a firm step Mrs. Fox took the candle, and took her turn in going up the attic stairs.
MRS. FOX COMES TO GRIEF
Harry confidently anticipated a second visit to his chamber.
He was rather surprised when the door was again opened, and Mrs. Fox entered. Opening his eyes a little way, he saw her, after a brief glance at the bed, go to the chair containing his pantaloons, and put back the deceptive wallet. She was about to prosecute a further search, when Harry decided that matters had gone far enough. He did not fancy their night visits, and meant to stop them if he could.
Chance favored his design. A puff of air from the door, which Mrs. Fox had left wide open, extinguished the candle, and left the room, as there was no moon, in profound darkness.
"Drat the candle!" he heard Mrs. Fox say.
Then a mischievous idea came to Harry. In his native village lived a man who had passed a considerable time in the wild region beyond the Missouri River, and had mingled familiarly with the Indians. From him Harry had learned how to imitate the Indian warwhoop.
"I'll scare the old lady," thought Harry, smiling to himself.
Immediately there rang out from the bed, in the darkness and silence, a terrific warwhoop, given in Harry's most effective style.
Mrs. Fox was not a nervous woman ordinarily, but she was undeniably frightened at the unexpected sound.
"Heavens and earth, what's that?" she ejaculated, and dropping our hero's clothes, retreated in disorder, almost stumbling downstairs in her precipitate flight. Dashing into the chamber where Mr. Fox was waiting for her, she sank into a chair, gasping for breath.
"Good gracious, Maria, what's the matter?" exclaimed her husband, gazing at her in astonishment.
"I—don't—know," she gasped.
"You look as if you had seen a ghost."
"I haven't seen anything," said his wife, recovering her breath, "but I've heard something terrible. It's my belief the attic is haunted. I went upstairs and put back the wallet, and was looking to see if I could find another, when all at once the candle went out, and a terrible noise shook the chamber."
"What was it like, Mrs. F.?"
"I can't tell you. I never heard anything like it before. All I know is, I wouldn't go up there again tonight for anything."
"Did the boy sleep through it all?"
"How can I tell? The candle was out."
"Perhaps he blew it out."
"Perhaps you're a fool Mr. Fox. It wasn't near the bed, and he was fast asleep, for I looked at him. It made me think of—of Peter," and Mrs. Fox shuddered.
Peter had been taken from the poorhouse three years ago by Mr. Fox, and apprenticed to him by the town authorities. According to popular report he had been cruelly treated and insufficiently fed, until he was taken sick and had died in the very bedroom where Mrs. Fox had been so frightened. This may explain how it was that a woman so strong-minded had had her nerves so easily upset.
"We won't talk of Peter," said Mr. Fox, shortly, for to him, also, the subject was an unpleasant one. "I suppose you didn't find another wallet?"
"No, I didn't. You can order the boy to give it up to-morrow. The best thing to do now is to go to bed and rest."
The breakfast hour at the house of Mr. Fox was half past six. Harry was called at six, and was punctual at the table. Mr. Fox cast a suspicious glance at his ward, but the boy looked so perfectly unconcerned, that he acquitted him of any knowledge of the night visit.
"How did you sleep, Harry?" asked Mrs. Fox.
"Soundly, thank you," answered Harry, politely.
"You didn't hear any—strange noises, then?"
"Now, Harry," said Mr. Fox, after breakfast, "we may as well speak of our future arrangements. I have considerable to do on my twenty acres of land, and I can give you work here."
"What compensation do you offer, sir?"
"As a boarder I should have to charge you five dollars a week for your board, and fifty cents extra for your washing—that would go to Mrs. Fox; as well as pay twenty-five cents a week for your mending. That also would go to my wife. Now, if you work for me, I will take off three dollars, making the charge to you only two dollars and seventy-five cents per week."
"Don't you think, Mr. Fox, that is rather low pay for my services?"
"I might say two dollars and a quarter," said Mr. Fox, deliberating.
Harry smiled to himself. He had not the slightest idea of working for any such trifle, but he did not care to announce his determination yet.
"I will pay full price for a week, Mr. Fox," he said, "and during that time I will consider your offer."
"I may not offer you as favorable terms a week from now," said Fox, who wanted to get his ward to work at once.
"I will take my chance of it, sir. I prefer to have a few days of freedom."
"By the way, Harry, don't you think you had better give me your money to keep? You might lose it."
"You are very kind, Mr. Fox; but I am not afraid of losing it."
After breakfast Harry went to walk. His steps naturally tended to the place where he had left the greater part of his treasure. It was possible that he had been seen hiding it, and he thought on the whole it would be better to find another place of concealment.
"Joel," said his mother, "follow Harry, and see where he goes. He may be goin' to hide his money. But don't let him see you."
"All right, mam; I'll do it. I wish I had followed him yesterday."
A position as detective would have suited Joel. Whatever was secret or stealthy had a charm for him.
In the present instance he managed to shadow Harry very successfully. The task was made easier, because our hero had no idea that anyone was following him.
"So he's goin' to the railroad," said Joel, to himself
Arrived at the railroad track, Harry's course diverged to the hillock, at the top of which he had concealed his treasure.
Joel posted himself at a point where he had a good view of the elevation, and could see what Harry was doing. He saw our hero digging at a particular spot, and concluded that he was going to hide the fifteen dollars there. What was his surprise and delight when he saw him dig up and expose to view a large roll of bills.
"Oh, cracky!" ejaculated Joel, "there must be a hundred dollars in that roll of bills. Wouldn't dad open his eyes if he saw it?"
Unconscious of observation, Harry held the money in his hand and deliberated. Then he put it in his pocket, resolved to think over at his leisure its ultimate place of deposit.
Now, unfortunately for Joel, just at this moment he slipped from his perch on the branch of a small tree, and for about half a minute what Harry did was concealed from him. He clambered into the tree again, but only to see Harry filling up the hole again.
He didn't want Harry to catch sight of him when he descended from the hill, and accordingly scuttled away sufficiently far to escape suspicion, yet not too far to entirely lose sight of Harry's movements.
Five minutes later Harry descended from the hill, and bent his steps toward that part of the railway where the accident had occurred. Joel, who had hastened away in a different direction, went back to the hill as soon as he thought it would be safe, and eagerly ascended it. He found without difficulty the spot where Harry had been digging. With the help of a fragment of wood which he had picked up below, he in turn began to dig—his eyes glistening with expectation and cupidity.
He kept digging, but gradually became anxious, as the expected treasure did not show itself.
"I'm sure I have dug deep enough," he said to himself.
"He must have took the money when I fell from the tree," thought Joel, crestfallen. "He's served me a mean trick. Won't I tell dad, though, and get him into trouble? Oh, no!"
Meanwhile Harry, not knowing how narrowly he had escaped being robbed, pursued his way to the railway.
"If I were only in my old home," he thought, "I would ask Mr. Howard to take care of it for me. Then I should know it was all right."
He thought of the president of the railroad, to whom he was principally indebted for the money.
"If I could only see him," he thought, "I would ask him to take care of it for me."
What was his surprise, when, on reaching the depot, the first person on whom his eyes fell was the very gentleman of whom he was thinking.
"How do you do, sir?" said Harry, politely.
"Ah, my young friend that saved the train!" said the president cordially. "I hope you haven't spent the money you received on riotous living."
"No. Will you take care of it for me? I don't want to spend it, and I am afraid of losing it."
"Well, my boy, if you really desire it, I will take the money."
"I shall regard it as a very great favor."
No sooner said than done. They went into the depot and Harry, counting out two hundred and fifty dollars, passed it over to the president.
He made out a brief receipt, signing it, "Thomas Conway, President of the Craven County Railroad," and Harry pocketed it with a feeling of relief.
While he was standing in front of the depot waiting for the arrival of the eight-thirty train, Joel came up.
"Goin' a-travelin'?" asked Joel, with a grin.
"Not this morning."
"I wish I had a hundred dollars!" continued Joel, surveying Harry sharply. "I'd make a journey out West. Say, Harry, did you ever have a hundred dollars in your pocket?"
"Maybe you've got it now?"
"Where should I get it?" demanded Harry.
"I do'no. Jest empty your pockets, and le'me see how much you've got."
"Thank you; I don't see any use in it," said Harry.
"Very well! Call it that."
"Joel's been spying on me. He must have seen me on the hill," concluded Harry. "It's well I gave most of my money to Mr. Conway."
MR. FOX LEARNS HARRY'S SECRET
Harry had acted none too soon. It happened that his secret had been discovered not only by Joel, but by Joel's father, that very morning.
About ten o'clock Mr. Fox had occasion to go to the village. In the post office he met an acquaintance from a neighboring town, with whom he passed the usual compliments.
"By the way, Fox," said his friend, "I had a narrow escape the other day."
"What was it, Pearson?"
"Came near being smashed up on the railroad. There would have been an end to us, but for a brave boy, who signaled the train in time."
"That boy was my ward," said John Fox, complacently.
"You don't say so! Well, he was a lucky chap."
"I don't think so. He didn't get much for his bravery."
"I don't see how you can say that. How much money did he get?"
"Twenty-five dollars, and of that he gave ten to the woman whose tablecloth he borrowed."
"There's some mistake about that. There must have been forty or fifty bills put into his hands."
"Is this true?" ejaculated Fox, in amazement.
"Just as true as I'm standing here. If there wasn't two or three hundred dollars I'll eat my head."
"The artful young rascal!" exclaimed Fox, in virtuous indignation.
"Perhaps he thought you would take it from him. The boy was smart," said Pearson, laughing.
"You call it smart! I call it base and treacherous!"
Mr. Fox walked thoughtfully away. He was considering how he should get hold of his ward's money. It was not a question easy to answer. Evidently Harry was a boy who kept his own counsel, and knew how to take care of himself.
"Joel seems to have a great partiality for my society," thought Harry, when, after dinner, his guardian's son continued to follow him about.
Our hero would have been quite willing to dispense with Joel's companionship, but, being good-natured, he did not feel like dismissing him, as he would have done had he suspected that the boy was acting as a spy upon him, at his father's request.
Mr. Fox said very little to his ward at the table, but Harry felt that he was eyeing him intently.
After supper Harry was about to leave the room when Mr. Fox stopped him.
"Wait a moment, young man," he said, in a commanding tone.
"Very well, sir," returned Harry, quietly.
"How much money did the passengers give you?"
"Almost three hundred dollars," answered Harry, composedly.
"Did you ever hear the like?" exclaimed Mrs. Fox, in amazement. "If it had only been Joel."
"Thunder!" exclaimed that young gentleman. "Well, you was lucky. No such luck for me!"
"It is well you have told me," said John Fox; "not but I knew before. I met one of the passengers to-day, and he gave me an idea how much it was. You will please hand it over to me, and I will take care of it."
"I shall not be able to comply with your request, Mr. Fox," said Harry. "I have not the money with me."
"I don't believe it. You had it this morning. And Joel has been with you ever since; so you haven't had time to hide it."
"So that was the reason you favored me with your company, Joel," said Harry, with a glance at his guardian's son.
"All you've got to do is to hand over that money now, Harry Vane. Mind, I intend to have it."
"I assure you, Mr. Fox, that I haven't the money with me."
"Where is it, then?" asked Mr. Fox, incredulous.
"I have put it into the hands of a gentleman in whom I have confidence, who will take care of it for me."
"What's the man's name?" demanded John Fox.
"That is my secret."
"You have rebelled against my lawful authority. Maria, what is it my duty to do with this boy?"
"Lock him up!" answered Mrs. Fox, grimly.
"A good suggestion, Mrs. F. Imprisonment may change the boy's ideas. He may repent his base conduct."
"Now, young man," said Fox, in a tone of authority, "go up to your chamber, and stay there till you're ready to obey orders."
Harry hesitated a moment, then quietly went upstairs. Mr. Fox was relieved, for he was a little apprehensive that his ward would prove rebellious and decline to obey.
John Fox stole up after his ward, and Harry heard the door bolted on the outside.
He was a prisoner.
When he heard the bolt slide in the lock, he said to himself: "Mr. Fox and I can never agree. He has not yet been appointed my guardian, and he never will receive the appointment. I have the right to choose for myself, as Mr. Howard told me, and I mean to exercise it."
Some of my readers may, perhaps, picture Harry as forcing open the door of his chamber and rushing from the house, breathing loud defiance as he went. But he was a sensible boy, and meditated nothing of the kind.
"I can wait till morning," he reflected. "I don't think I shall be here twenty hours hence, but I mean to get a good night's sleep. It will be time enough to decide in the morning what I will do."
So, in spite of his imprisonment, Harry enjoyed a comfortable night's sleep, and was awakened in the morning by hearing his door opened.
Mr. Fox entered, and sat down on a chair by the bed.
"Good-morning, sir," said Harry, composedly.
"What I want to know is, have you made up your mind to do as I told you last night?"
"I prefer to keep it in my possession."
"I guess I'll have to keep you here a little longer."
"Then be kind enough to send me up some breakfast. I am paying my board. I shall object to paying unless I get my meals regularly."
This consideration weighed with John Fox, and he sent Joel up with a cup of coffee and some dry bread, five minutes later.
"By the way, Joel, come up here about the middle of the forenoon; I want to say a few words to you in private."
"All right, I'll come. I must go downstairs now."
"I wonder what he wants to see me about?" said Joel, to himself.
Joel made a pretty shrewd guess, and resolved, by all means, to keep the appointment.
He was anxious to get his father out of the way, but John Fox was unusually deliberate in his motions. Finally, about half-past nine, he left the house for the village.
Presently his mother said: "Joel, if you'll stay and mind the house, I'll run over to Mrs. Bean's and borrow some sugar."
His mother put on her bonnet, and started across a field to her nearest neighbor's.
"Now's my time," thought Joel. "Mam's sure to get talkin' with Mrs. Bean and stay half an hour or more."
He ran up the garret stairs, and drew the bolt that held Harry captive.
"Joel, I want you to let me out of this place."
"Oh, gracious!" exclaimed Joel, in apparent dismay. "Dad would give me the wu'st kind of a lickin'."
"Would he know how I got out?" asked Harry.
"I don't know. What are you willing to give?"
Harry saw that it was merely a matter of bargaining, and finally prevailed upon Joel to release him for a five-dollar bill.
"I want the money now," said Joel.
"How do I know that you will do as you have agreed?"
"Give me the money, and I'll tell you."
Harry passed over the bank bill, and Joel said:
"Dad's gone to the village, and mam's gone over to Mrs. Bean's. All you've got to do is to go downstairs, and walk out."
Harry was by no means slow to take the hint.
"Good-by, Joel," he said, extending his hand; "I won't forget the favor you've done me."
"I don't know what dad'll say. There'll be an awful fuss. Just give me a box on the ear, won't you?"
"I'll tell dad you gave me an awful clip on the side of the head, and ran off, though I tried to stop you."
"All right," said Harry, laughing.
He gave Joel the required box on the ear, tripped him up, laying him gently on his back on the landing, and then, with a friendly "good-by," he ran down the stairs, and before Mrs. Fox returned from her call was a mile away.
She found Joel wiping his eyes.
"What's the matter, Joel?" she asked.
"That boy, Harry, called me upstairs, and got me to open the door. Then he gave me an almighty clip on the side of my head that almost stunned me, then he knocked me over, and ran out of the house as fast as he could run—my head aches awful!"
"The owdacious young ruffian!" ejaculated Mrs. Fox. "To beat my poor, dear Joel so! Never mind. Joel, dear, I'll give you a piece of pie and some cake. As for that boy, he'll be hung some day, I reckon!"
After eating the cake and pie, which were luxuries in that frugal household, Joel said he felt better. He went out behind the house, and taking out the five-dollar note, surveyed it with great satisfaction.
AN EXCITING CHASE
When John Fox went to the village he usually stopped first at the tavern, and invested ten cents in a glass of whisky. Here he met two or three of his cronies.
"Folks say you've got a new boarder, Fox," said Bill Latimer, as he laid down his glass on the counter.
"Yes," answered Fox, complacently. "I'm his guardeen."
"Folks say he got a pile of money for saving the train."
"He got a pretty stiff sum," answered Fox cautiously.
"Do you keep his money?"
"Is he easy to manage?" asked John Blake.
"Well, some folks might find trouble with him," said Fox, complacently. "The fact is, gentlemen, I don't mind telling you that he's been trying to buck agin' his guardeen a'ready. Where do you think I left him?" continued Fox, chuckling.
"Up in the attic, locked up in his chamber. I'm goin' to feed him on bread and water a while, just to show him what sort of a man John Fox is."
A grin overspread the face of Eben Bond, who had just looked out of the front window.
"So you left him in the attic, hey?" he said, waggishly.
"Yes, I did. Do you mean to say I didn't?"
"I'm willin' to bet he isn't there now."
"You just tell me what you mean, Eben Bond!" said John Fox, provoked.
"I mean that I saw that boy of yours go by the tavern only two minutes since."
"Where did he go? In what direction?" demanded Fox, eagerly.
"Down toward the river."
"He's running away," Fox said to himself, in dismay. "How in the the world did he get out?"
He ran up the road, gazing anxiously on this side and on that, hoping to come upon the runaway. One thing was favorable; it was a straight road, with no roads opening out of it at least a mile beyond the tavern. It led by the river at a point half a mile on.
"I'll catch him yet. He can't escape me!" Fox reflected.
John Fox pushed on breathless, and a minute later came in sight of the fugitive.
Harry had sobered down to a walk, thinking himself no longer in danger. If Mr. Fox had been wise enough to keep silent till he had come within a few rods he might have caught him easily, but excitement and anger were too much for prudence, and he called out, angrily: "Just wait till I get hold of you, you young villain! I'll give you a lesson."
Harry turned quickly and saw his enemy close upon him.
That was enough. He set out on what the boys call a dead run, though he hardly knew in what direction to look for refuge. But through the trees at the west side of the road he caught sight of something that put new hope into his heart. It was a boat, floating within three feet of shore. In it sat a boy of about Harry's own age. It was Willie Foster.
There was no time for ceremony, Harry sprang into the boat, and, seizing an idle oar, pushed out into the river.
The owner of the boat, who had been thoughtfully gazing into the water, looked up in surprise.
"Well, that's cool!" he ejaculated.
"I beg your pardon," said Harry, still plying the oar; "I couldn't help it; Mr. Fox is after me."
John Fox, by this time, stood on the river bank shaking his fist, with a discomfited expression, at his intended victim.
"Come back here!" he shouted.
"Thank you, I would rather not," answered Harry, still increasing the distance between himself and his guardian.
"You Willie Foster, row the boat back!" bawled John Fox,
"Is your name Willie Foster?" asked Harry, turning to his companion, who was looking, with a puzzled expression, from one to the other.
"Then, Willie, if you will help me row over to the other side of the river and set me off there, I'll give you a dollar."
"I'll do it," said Willie, seizing the other oar, "but you needn't give me any money."
To his intense disgust, Fox saw the boat, propelled by the two boys, leaping forward energetically, while he stood helplessly on the bank.
The other bank was half a mile away, and could not be reached except by a bridge a considerable distance away. The two boys said little until the trip was accomplished.
"I hope you won't get into any serious trouble with Mr. Fox," said Harry, as they drew near the bank.
"I don't care for old Fox, and father doesn't like him, either."
As he got out of the boat he pressed a dollar into Willie's reluctant hand.
"Now, which way had I better go?"
"Take that footpath. It will lead to Medfield. There you can take the cars."
"Good-by, Willie; and thank you."
Willie didn't row back immediately. John Fox was lying in wait on the other side, and he didn't care to meet him.
Harry pushed on till he reached a highway. He felt in doubt as to where it might lead him, but followed it at a venture. He wondered whether John Fox would pursue him, and from time to time looked back to make sure that his guardian was not on his trail. In about three hours he found himself eight miles away. Then, for the first time, he felt that it might be safe to stop and rest. In a village a little way back he had entered a bakeshop and purchased some rolls and a glass of milk, which he ate with a good relish.
He resumed his walk, but had not gone a quarter of a mile when he heard the noise of wheels, which on coming up with him, came to a halt.
"Shall I give you a lift?" said the driver of the team.
Looking up, he saw that it was a covered wagon with four wheels, such as is often to be met in New England towns. The man who held the reins was of large frame and portly, with dark hair and whiskers. He might be about forty-five years of age.
"Thank you, sir, said Harry.
"Where are you bound, if you don't mind my being inquisitive?"
"I don't know," answered Harry, doubtfully. "I'm seeking my fortune, as they say."
"Well you ought to find it," returned the other, after a deliberate survey of his young companion. "You're well-built, and look healthy and strong. Have you got any money?"
"A little. My father died lately and left me three hundred dollars. He recommended to me as guardian a man named John Fox, living eight miles back. Well, I have tried Mr. Fox, and I prefer to be my own guardian."
"I've heard of John Fox. He's fox by name and fox by nature. So you and he didn't hitch horses. When did you leave him?"
"This morning. I don't know but I may say that I am running away from him, as I left without his knowledge or permission, but as he is not yet my legal guardian, I don't consider that he has any right to interfere with me."
"You haven't told me your name yet."
"My name is Harry Vane,"
"I am the Magician of Madagascar. You may have heard of me."
"I don't think I have," said Harry, puzzled.
"I have been before the public many years," he said. "I give magical entertainments, and, in the course of the last twenty years, have traveled all over the continent."
"You see," explained Harry, apologetically, "I have always lived in a small country town, where there were few amusements, and so I know very little of such things. I never saw a magical entertainment in my life."
"Didn't you, indeed? Then you shall see me perform to-night. I am to give a magical soiree in Conway, the town we are coming to."
"I should like it very much, Mr. ——" and Harry paused in doubt.
"I am called Professor Hemenway—Hiram Hemenway," said the magician.
"Do you like your business?" asked Harry, curiously.
"Why shouldn't I? I have a chance to travel. The people appreciate my efforts and reward me generously."
By a fortunate accident Harry happened to turn in his seat and look through a small window in the back part of the wagon. What he saw startled him. In a buggy, ten rods back, he recognized his late guardian and Joel. They were making good speed, and were doubtless in pursuit of him.
Harry quickly imparted his discovery to his companion.
"Don't let them capture me!" he said.
"I should like to see him do it," responded the professor. "Get into the back part of the wagon, and crouch down."
Harry did as directed.
Then the professor slackened his speed, and allowed the pursuers to overtake him.
"I say, stranger," said Fox, as he drew up alongside. "A boy ran away from me this morning. Perhaps you have seen him?"
"I saw a boy about a mile back" said the magician, reflectively, "a stout, good-looking lad, dark-brown hair, and a pleasant expression; didn't look at all like you. I chatted with him a while. He said he was leaving a man who claimed to be his guardian, but wasn't."
"The young liar!" ejaculated Fox, wrathfully. "Where is he now?"
"Is he in your wagon?" put in Joel, sharply.
"If he were you'd see him, wouldn't you?"
"In behind you?"
"Yes, are you kidnapping him?" demanded Fox, fiercely.
"There is a boy in the back part of my wagon," said the magician, coolly. "If you ain't afraid of smallpox, you may see him. Which shall it be, you or the boy?"
A pallid hue overspread the face of John Fox, which was increased by an agonizing moan, which appeared to proceed from behind the magician.
"Turn the horse, Joel," was all he said.
He whipped up his horse without a word, and did not pull up for half a mile.
"You can come out now, Harry," said the professor, with a queer smile. "I am a ventriloquist, and that moan did the business."
A NEW ENGAGEMENT
Harry was not a little relieved at his narrow escape. He did not propose to be taken captive without making a strong resistance; but still, in a struggle with Mr. Fox and Joel, he felt that he would be considerably at a disadvantage.
"I am much obliged to you for saving me, Professor Hemenway," he said.
"You are quite welcome. So you didn't like old Fox?"
"He doesn't appear to like you any better."
"There isn't much love lost between us," returned Harry, laughing.
"How do you like the boy?"
"He served me a good turn—for five dollars—but he would help capture me for the same money, or less."
"You seem to know him."
"He is fond of money, and would do almost anything for it."
"You thank me for saving you from capture, my lad," continued the magician. "Well, I had an object in it—a selfish object."
Harry looked puzzled.
"It struck me that I needed a boy about your size, and character, for a general assistant, to sell tickets, take money, and help me on the stage. How do you like the idea?"
"I like it," answered Harry; "but there is one objection."
"What is that?"
"I don't come from Madagascar," responded Harry, slyly.
Professor Hemenway laughed.
"You've been as near there as I have," he said. "Did you really think I came from Madagascar?"
"You look more as if you came from Maine, sir."
"You've hit it! There's where I did come from. I was raised twenty-five miles from Portland on a farm. But it would never do to put that on the bills. People are ready to pay more for imported than for native curiosities. However, to come to business. I had a young man traveling with me who wasn't suited to the business. He was a dry-goods clerk when I took him, and is better adapted to that business than to mine. He left me last week, and I have been in a quandary about his successor. How much do you consider your time worth?"
"Just at present it isn't worth much. If you will pay my traveling expenses, that will satisfy me."
"I will do better than that I will give you five dollars a week besides, if business is good."
"Thank you, sir. I think I shall enjoy traveling."
There are few boys who do not like change of scene, and the chance of seeing new places is attractive to all. Harry was decidedly of the opinion that he had a streak of luck. It would be much better in all ways than living with his late guardian, and working for partial board.
As they approached the village of Conway, Harry's attention was drawn to a variety of posters setting forth, in mammoth letters, that the world-renowned Magician of Madagascar would give a magical soiree at the Town Hall in the evening. Tickets, fifteen cents; children under twelve years, ten cents. The posters, furthermore, attracted attention by a large figure of the professor, dressed in bizarre style, performing one of his tricks.
"That draws attention," observed the professor, "particularly among the boys. I think I shall have a hall full this evening. An audience of three hundred will pay very well. My expenses are light. I do most of my traveling in this wagon, and at hotels I get the usual professional reduction."
"Did it take you long to learn the business?"
"I have been learning all along. Every now and then I add a new trick. I will teach you some."
"I might leave you and set up on my own hook when I have learned," suggested Harry, with a smile.
"It will be some time before you look old enough for a magician. When you are, I'll give you my blessing and send you out."
Meanwhile they had been jogging along, and were already in the main street of Conway. The professor drew up in front of the village hotel, and a groom came forward and took his horse.
"Wait a minute my friend," said the professor. "Harry, you can help me take my implements out of the back of the wagon."
These "implements" were of a heterogeneous character, but all would come in use in the evening. A number of boys watched their transfer with mingled awe and curiosity.
"What's them?" Harry heard one ask another, in a half-whispered tone.
"Those," said the professor, in an impressive tone, turning toward the boys. "Those are paraphernalia!"
The boys looked more awestruck than ever. All inwardly resolved to go to the Town Hall that evening, and get a nearer view of the articles which had such a grand name.
After a while Harry came downstairs from the room assigned him, and stood on the piazza.
One of the boys drew near him cautiously.
"Are you the magician's son?" he asked.
"No," answered Harry, smiling.
"Do you come from Madagascar?"
"I have not been there recently."
"Are all the people there magicians?"
"Not quite all."
This information was rather scanty, but it was whispered about among the boys, the first boy boasting that he had a talk with the young man magician. If Harry had heard himself called thus, he would have been very much amused.
Directly after supper Harry went with his employer to assist in preparing the stage for the evening performance. Though novice, he acquitted himself to the satisfaction of his employer, who congratulated himself on having secured so efficient an assistant. Half an hour before the performance he stationed himself in the entry, provided with tickets. He sat at a small table, and received the crowd. Though new to the business, he managed to make change rapidly. He found his position one in which he had a chance to study human nature.
During the evening Harry was called upon to assist the professor in some of his tricks. Some boys would have been embarrassed upon finding themselves objects of general attention, but Harry was by temperament cool and self-possessed. He had been fond of declamation at school, and this had accustomed him, to some extent, to a public appearance.
The entertainment was in two parts, with an intermission of ten minutes.
"I wish you were a singer," said the professor, when they were standing behind the screen.
"Why?" asked Harry.
"Because the audience sometimes gets impatient during the intermission. If I could put you on for a song, it would help quiet them."
"I can sing a little," said Harry, modestly.
"What can you sing?"
"How would 'The Last Rose of Summer' do?"
"Capital. Can you sing it?"
"I can try."
"You are sure you won't break down? That would make a bad impression."
"I can promise you I won't break down, sir."
"Then I'll give you a trial. Are you ready to appear at once?"
"Wait, then, till I announce you."
The professor came from behind the screen, and, addressing the audience, said: "Ladies and gentlemen, lest you should find the necessary intermission tedious, I am happy to announce to you that the young vocalist, Master Harry Vane, has kindly consented to favor you with one of his popular melodies. He has selected by request, 'The Last Rose of Summer.'"
Harry could hardly refrain from laughing when he heard this introduction.
"One would think I was a well-known singer," he said to himself.
He came forward, and, standing before the audience, with his face a little flushed, made a graceful bow. Then, pausing an instant, he commenced the song announced. He had not sung two lines before the professor, who waited the result with some curiosity and some anxiety, found that he could sing. His voice was high, clear, and musical, and his rendition was absolutely correct. The fact was, Harry had taken lessons in a singing school at home, and had practiced privately also, so that he had reason to feel confidence in himself.
The song was listened to with earnest attention and evident enjoyment by all. When the last strain died away, and Harry made his farewell bow, there was an enthusiastic burst of applause, emphasized by the clapping of hands and the stamping of feet.
"You did yourself proud, my boy!" said the gratified Professor. "They want you on again."
This seemed evident from the noise.
"Can't you sing something else?"
"Very well, sir."
Harry was certainly pleased with this evidence of popular favor. He had never before sung a solo before an audience, and, although he had felt that he could, he was glad to find that he had not overestimated his powers.
Once more he stood before the audience.
"I thank you for your kindness," he said. "I will now sing you a comic song."
He sang a song very popular at that time, the words and air of which were familiar to all. While it did not afford him so good a chance to show his musical capacity, it was received with much greater favor than the first song.
There was a perfect whirlwind of applause, and a third song was called for.
"I would rather not sing again, professor," said Harry.
"You needn't. They would keep you singing all the evening if you would allow it. Better leave off when they are unsatisfied."
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "Master Vane thanks you for your kind applause, but he makes it an unvarying rule never to sing but two songs in an evening. He never broke that rule but once, and that was at the special request of the governor-general of Canada. I shall now have the pleasure of performing for your amusement, one of my most popular experiments."
"Well, you have pleased the people, and that is the main point. By Jove! my boy, you've got a lovely voice."
"I am glad you think so, sir."
"You will prove a very valuable addition to my entertainments. I mean to show my appreciation, too. How much did I agree to give you?"
"Five dollars a week if business was good."
"It's bound to be good. I'll raise your wages to ten dollars a week, if you'll agree to sing one song, and two, if called for, at each of my evening entertainments."
"I'll do it, sir," said Harry, promptly. "It's a surprise to me, though, to find my voice so valuable to me."
"It's a popular gift, my boy; and all popular gifts are valuable. When I get my new bill printed, I must have your name on it."
They left Conway about noon the next day.
The Foxes, were destined to hear of Harry's success. The Conway Citizen was taken in the family, and, much to their astonishment, this is what they found, prominently placed, in the next number:
"The magical entertainment of Professor Hemenway, on Thursday evening, was even more successful than usual. He had had the good fortune to secure the services of a young vocalist named Harry Vane, who charmed both young and old by two popular selections. His voice and execution are both admirable, and we predict for him a brilliant future."
Mr. Fox read this aloud in evident wonder and excitement.
"Did you ever hear the like?" he said.
"Who'd have thought it?" chimed in Mrs. Fox.
A LIBERAL OFFER
Then commenced a round of travel—what the professor called a professional tour. By day they traveled in the wagon, carrying their paraphernalia with them, stopping at the principal towns, and giving evening entertainments. At many of these places the magician was well known, and his tricks were not new. But he had an attraction in his young assistant, who was regularly advertised on the posters as the "celebrated young vocalist, whose songs are everywhere received with admiring applause."
Indeed it was very near the truth. Harry was really a fine singer, and his fresh, attractive face and manly appearance won him a welcome in all the towns on their route. Sometimes a young girl in the audience threw him a bouquet. This made him blush and smile, and the donor felt rewarded.
Where was it going to end? Was he to continue in the service of the professor, and in time become himself a magician and a traveling celebrity? Harry was not sure about it. He saw that it would pay him better than most kinds of business, and he also discovered that Professor Hemenway was even better off than he had represented. Yet, he was not quite ready to select the same profession, but, being only sixteen, felt that he could afford to remain in it a while longer.
One day the professor gave him a surprise.
"Harry," he said, as they were jogging along a dusty road, "do you think you would like to travel?"
"I am traveling now," answered Harry, with a smile.
"True, but I don't mean that. Would you like to go on a long journey?"
"I should like nothing better," replied Harry, promptly.
"I'll tell you what I've been thinking about. I recently read in some paper that a man in my line had made a trip to Australia, and reaped a rich harvest. Everywhere he was received with enthusiasm, and made as much money, in one month as he would do here in four. Now why shouldn't I go to Australia?"
Harry's eyes sparkled.
"It would be a fine thing to do," he said.
"Then you would be willing to accompany me?"
"I would thank you for taking me," answered the boy.
"That is well!" said the professor, in a tone of satisfaction. "I confess I shouldn't like to go alone. It would be a great undertaking, but with a companion it would seem different. But, is there anyone who would object to your going?"
"Yes," answered Harry, smiling, "Mr. Fox, my 'guardeen,' would."
"We won't mind Mr. Fox. Very well, then, Harry, we will consider it settled. I shall rely on you to help me by your singing there as you do here. As to your wages, I may be able to pay you more."
"Never mind about that, professor. It will cost you a good deal to get us there. I am perfectly willing to work for the same sum I do now, or even less, on account of the extension of the trip."
"Then you leave that matter to me. I won't take advantage of your confidence, but you shall prosper if I do."
"How soon do you propose to go, professor?" asked Harry, with interest.
"As soon as possible. I shall ascertain when the first packet leaves Boston, and we will take passage in her."
The professor's decision pleased Harry. He had been a good scholar in geography—indeed, it was his favorite study—and had, besides, read as many books of travel as he could lay his hands on. Often he had wondered if it ever would be his fortune to see some of the distant countries of which he read with so much interest. Though he had cherished vague hopes, he had never really expected it. Now, however, the unattainable seemed within his grasp. He would not have to wait until he was a rich man, but when still a boy he could travel to the opposite side of the world, paying his expenses as he went along.
Two weeks passed. Each day they halted in some new place, and gave an evening performance. This life of constant motion had, at first, seemed strange to Harry. Now he was accustomed to it. He never felt nervous when he appeared before an audience to sing, but looked upon it as a matter of course.
At last they reached Boston. They were to give two entertainments at a hall at the south end. It was the first large city in which Harry had sung, but he received a welcome no less cordial than that which had been accorded to him in country towns.
They were staying at a modest hotel, comfortable, but not expensive. Harry was sitting in the reading room, when a servant brought in a card. It bore the rather remarkable name of
"DR. MENDELSSOHN BROWN."
"A gentleman to see you, Mr. Vane," said the servant.
Harry rose and surveyed the stranger in some surprise. He had long hair, of a reddish yellow, with an abundant beard of the same hue. His suit of worn black fitted him poorly, but Dr. Brown evidently was not a devotee of dress. No tailor could ever point to him, and say with pride: "That man's clothes were made at my shop."
"Do I speak to Mr. Harry Vane, the young vocalist?" asked the stranger, with a deferential smile.
"That's my name," answered our hero.
"You are alone?"
"Yes, sir," said Harry, a little puzzled.
"It is well. I will come to business at once. You have probably heard of me, eh?"
"Probably I have, but I do not remember names well."
"The name of Mendelssohn Brown, is pretty well known, I flatter myself," said the visitor, complacently. "To be brief—I heard you sing last evening, and was much pleased with your rendition of the various selections."
"I am about to form a juvenile Pinafore company, and would like to have you take the leading part. You would make an excellent Admiral. I propose to take my opera company all over the United States. I should be willing to pay you, as the star performer, twenty-five dollars a week."
Harry opened his eyes in amazement.
"Do you think me capable of singing in opera?" he asked.
"Yes, after being trained by your humble servant. What do you say?"
"I thank you for your flattering offer, Dr. Brown, but I don't feel at liberty to leave Professor Hemenway."
The doctor frowned.
"Let me tell you, you stand in your own light, Mr. Vane," he said, impatiently. "There is some difference between a common juggler, like the Magician of Madagascar"—the doctor laughed ironically—"and a well-known musical director, who could make you famous. Does Hemenway pay you as much as I offer?"
"I thought so. Then how can you hesitate?"
"We are about to make an Australian tour," answered Harry, "and, apart from all other considerations, I am glad to have a chance to travel."
"Couldn't you put it off?"
"Then," said Dr. Brown, rather crestfallen, "I can only bid you good-morning. I think you are making a mistake."
"Perhaps, after I return from Australia, I might be ready to accept your offer."
"It will be too late," said the doctor, gloomily.
"Twenty-five dollars a week is large pay," thought Harry, "but I don't believe I should ever get it. Dr. Brown doesn't look much like a capitalist."
Half an hour later Professor Hemenway entered the hotel.
"Well, my boy," he said, "the die is cast! Next Saturday we sail from Long Wharf, bound for Australia."
"But professor, I have just had an offer of twenty-five dollars a week to sing in Pinafore."
"And have accepted!" exclaimed the magician in dismay.
"No; I respectfully declined. I would rather go with you."
"You shan't regret it, Harry!" said the professor, relieved. "If I am prosperous, you shall share in my prosperity."
"Thank you, professor; I am sure of that. What is the name of our vessel?"
"The Nantucket. It's a good, solid-looking craft, and I think it will bear us in safety to our destination."
The Nantucket, Capt. Jabez Hill, master, was a large vessel, stanch and strong, and bore a good record, having been in service six years, and never having in that time met a serious disaster. It was a sailing vessel, and primarily intended to convey freight, but had accommodations for six passengers. Of these it had a full complement. Harry and the professor I name first, as those in whom we are most interested.
Next came John Appleton, a business man from Melbourne, who had visited the United States on business. He was a plain, substantial-looking person, of perhaps forty-five. Next came Montgomery Clinton, from Brooklyn, a young man of twenty-four, foolishly attired, who wore an eyeglass and anxiously aped the Londen swell, though born within sight of Boston State house. Harry regarded him with considerable amusement, and though he treated him with outward respect, mentally voted him very soft. Fifth on the list was a tall, sallow, thin individual, with a melancholy countenance, who was troubled with numerous symptoms, and was persuaded that he had not long to live. He was from Pennsylvania. He carried with him in his trunk a large assortment of pills and liquid medicines, one or another of which he took about once an hour. This gentleman's name was Marmaduke Timmins. Last came a tall, lean Yankee, the discoverer and proprietor of a valuable invention, which it was his purpose to introduce into Australia. Mr. Jonathan Stubbs, for this was his name, was by no means an undesirable addition to the little circle, and often excited a smile by his quaintly put and shrewd observations on topics of passing interest.
It was the third day at sea, when Harry, who had suffered but little from seasickness, came on deck, after a good dinner, and saw the dudish passenger, till now invisible, holding himself steady with an effort, and gazing sadly out upon the wild waste of waters without the help of his eyeglass.
"How do you feel, Mr. Clinton?" asked Harry.
"Horribly, Mr. Vane," answered Clinton, with a languid shudder. "I never thought it was such a bore, crossing the ocean, don't you know. I've a great idea of offering the captain a handsome sum to land somewhere, I don't care where."
"I don't think we shall go near any land, Mr. Clinton. I think you will have to make the best of it."
Hearing a step behind him, Harry turned, and his eyes rested on the melancholy countenance of Marmaduke Timmins, the chronic invalid.
"Good-morning, Mr. Timmins," said our hero. "I hope you stand the voyage well?"
"I've had several new symptoms since I came on board," responded Mr. Timmins, gloomily, "and I've made a dreadful discovery."
"What is it?" inquired Montgomery Clinton, in alarm.
"I find I've mislaid or forgotten to bring my box of Remedial pills. I don't know what I shall do without them."
"I've got a box of Brandeth's pills downstairs," said Clinton. "You're welcome to a part of them, I'm sure."
"They wouldn't do! What can you be thinking of, young man? Do you think there's no difference between pills?"
"I'm sure I can't tell, don't you know?"
"Young man, you are sadly ignorant," said Timmins, severely. "I've got five other kinds of pills downstairs, for different maladies I am subject to, but none of them will take the place of Remedial pills."
"Will any of them cure seasickness?" asked the dude, eagerly.
"I can give you a remedy for seasickness, Mr. Clinton," said Mr. Holdfast, the mate, who chanced to overhear the inquiry.
"What is it, Mr. Holdfast? I shall be really grateful, I assure you, if you can cure that beastly malady."
"Swallow a piece of raw salt pork about an inch square," said the mate gravely, "and follow it up by a glass of sea water, taken at a gulp."
"That's horrid, awfully horrid!" gasped Clinton, shuddering, and looking very pale. "It actually makes me sick to think of it, don't you know," and he retreated to the cabin, with one hand pressed on his stomach.
"That young man's a fool!" said Mr. Timmins. "He knows no more about pills than a baby."
"Nor do I, Mr. Timmins," said Harry, smiling.
"I pity you then. My life has been saved several times by pills."
"I'd rather live without them."
Marmaduke sadly shook his head as he walked away.
"That man's a walking drug store," said the mate, looking after him. "I'd rather go to Davy's locker, and be done with it, than to fill myself up with pills and potions."
"You're looking chipper, my boy," said a newcomer, in a nasal voice. "Haven't been seasick, I guess."
Harry recognized the voice of the Yankee inventor, Jonathan Stubbs.
"No, sir; I have had very little trouble."
"I'm goin' to get up a cure for seasickness when I have time—a kind of a self-acting, automatic belt—I guess there'd be plenty of money in it."
"It would be a great blessing, Mr. Stubbs. Poor Mr. Clinton would no doubt be glad to buy it."
"Do you mean that languishin' creeter with an eyeglass and spindle legs? What are such fellows made for?"
"Rather for ornament than use," answered Harry, gravely.
The Yankee burst into a loud guffaw, and regarded Harry's remark a capital joke.
The voyage was to be a long one, and after a couple of weeks they all had their sea legs on. All had become acquainted, and settled down to a regular routine. But the time dragged, and as there were no morning or evening papers, something seemed necessary to break the monotony.
"Harry," said the professor, "I have an idea."
"What is it, professor?"
"Suppose we give an exhibition for the benefit of our fellow passengers and the crew."
"I am ready to do my part."
"Then I will speak to the captain."
The result was that on the first quiet day Professor Hemenway and his assistant gave a matinee performance on the deck of the Nantucket, at which all who could possibly be spared were present. To some of the sailors it was a novelty, and the magician's tricks actually inspired some with the feeling that he was possessed of supernatural powers.
"Will you lend me your hat, Mr. Clinton?" he asked presently, of the dude.
"Certainly, professor," drawled the young man.
The professor took it, and tapped it.
"Are you sure there is nothing in it?" he asked.
"I am sure of it. Really, I don't carry things in my hat, don't you know."
"What do you say to this, then?" and Professor Hemenway drew out of the hat half a dozen onions, a couple of potatoes, and a ship biscuit.
"My dear sir, I think you are mistaken," he said. "I see you carry your lunch in your hat."
All present laughed at the horrified face of the dude.
"On my honor, I don't know how those horrid things came in my hat," he stammered.
"Are you fond of onions, Mr. Clinton?" asked Harry.
"I wouldn't eat one for—for a new suit of clothes!" protested Clinton, earnestly.
"Allow me to return your hat, Mr. Clinton," said the professor, politely. "I suppose you want the vegetables too. Here are the onions, and the rest."
"They are not mine, on my honor," said Clinton, very much embarrassed. "Here, my good man, can you make use of these?"
The sailor whom he addressed accepted the gift with a grin.
"Thank you kindly, sir," he said, "If so be as I ain't a-robbin' you."
"I have no use for them, my good man. I never ate an onion in my life."
"Then I don't think you know what's good," said Mr. Stubbs. "An onion, let me tell you, is mighty good eatin', and healthy, too."
At the close of the magical entertainment, Harry sang by request, and no part of the performance was more popular. He received many warm congratulations.
"Really, Mr. Vane, you sing like a nightingale, don't you know," was the tribute of Clinton.
"Bless me!" said Mr. Timmins; "I was so absorbed in your song that I have forgotten to take my catarrh medicine."
"Thank you, sir; that is the best compliment I have received," returned Harry, with a smile.
Little has been said thus far of Captain Hill, the chief officer of the Nantucket. He was a stout, red-faced seaman, nearing fifty years of age, and had been in service ever since he was fifteen. He was a thorough sailor, and fitted in every way but one to take charge of a ship bound to any part of the world. His one disqualification may be stated briefly—he had a passion for drink.
It was not immediately that this was found out. He took his meals with the passengers, but it was not then that he indulged his appetite. He kept a private store of liquors in his cabin, and had recourse to them when by himself, under the impression that he could keep it a secret. But intemperance, like murder, will out.
Harry and the professor were standing by the rail looking out at sea, one day, when a thick voice greeted them, "Good-mor'n', gentlemen," this address being followed by a hiccough.
Both turned quickly, and exchanged a significant glance when they recognized the captain.
"Yes," answered Professor Hemenway, "it is indeed a fine morning."
"I am sorry to see this, Harry," said the professor.
"Yes, sir; it is a pity any gentleman should drink too much."
"Yes, but that isn't all," said the professor, earnestly; "it is a pity, of course, that Captain Hill should so sin against his own health, but we must consider furthermore, that he has our lives under his control. Our safety depends on his prudent management."
"He seems to understand his business," said Harry.
"Granted; but no man, however good a seaman, is fit to manage a vessel when he allows liquor to rob him of his senses. I wish I had had a knowledge beforehand of the captain's infirmity."
"Suppose you had, sir?"
"I wouldn't have trusted myself on board the Nantucket, you may be sure of that."
"It may be only an exceptional case."
"Let us hope so."
The next occasion on which the captain displayed his infirmity was rather a laughable one. He came up from the cabin about three o'clock in the afternoon so full that he was forced to stagger as he walked. Directly in front of him the young dude, Montgomery Clinton, was pacing the deck, carrying in his hand a rattan cane such as he used on shore. As he overhauled him, Captain Hill, with the instinct of a drunken man, locked arms with the young man, and forced him to promenade in his company, talking rather incoherently meanwhile. Clinton's look of distress and perplexity, as he submitted to his fate, caused Harry nearly to explode with laughter. They were indeed a singular pair.
Finally there came a disaster. A lurch of the vessel proved too much for the captain, who, in losing his equilibrium, also upset Clinton, and the two rolled down under one of the ship's boats, which was slung on one side.
Montgomery Clinton picked himself up, and hurriedly betook himself to his cabin, fearing that he might fall again into the clutches of his unwelcome companion. The captain was helped to his feet by the mate, and was persuaded also to go downstairs.
"The captain was pretty well slewed, professor," said Mr. Stubbs, who chanced to be on deck at the time.
"It looks like it," answered Professor Hemenway.
"If he does that often it'll be a bad lookout for us."
"Just what I am thinking, Mr. Stubbs."
THE YOUNG SAILOR
The crew of the Nantucket consisted of twelve sailors and a boy, not counting the officers. This boy was about Harry's age, but an inch or two shorter, and with great breadth of shoulders. He had a good-natured face, and was a general favorite on board, as is apt to be the case with a boy, if he possesses any attractive qualities. He came from New Hampshire and he was known as Jack.
It was natural that Harry, as the only other boy on board, though a passenger, should be attracted to Jack. He took an opportunity when Jack was off duty to have a chat with him.
"How long have you been a sailor, Jack?" he asked.
"Three years; I first went to sea when I was thirteen."
"How did you happen to go in the first place?"
"I may say to begin with, that I always liked the water. I was born in a little village bordering Lake Winnipiseogee, and was out on the lake whenever I could get the chance, either in a rowboat or sailboat. I felt as much at home on the water as on the land. Still, I never should have gone to sea had it not been for my stepfather."
"Then you have a stepfather?"
"Yes. My father died when I was ten, leaving my mother a little farm and a comfortable house. I was a young boy, and it is hard for a woman to carry on a farm. A man came into town, and started in some small business. He pretended that he had money, but I guess he had precious little. At any rate, he didn't object to more. Pretty soon he fixed his eyes on our farm, and, finding that mother owned it clear, he got to coming round pretty often. I never liked him, though he pretended to be fond of me, and used to pat me on the head, and bring me candy. I wondered what made him come so often, but I didn't mistrust anything till one day mother called me and said she had something important to say to me.
"'Jack,' she said, 'what do you think of Mr. Bannock?'
"'I don't think much of him,' I answered.
"'He is to be your father, Jack. I have promised to marry him.'
"'You may marry him,' I answered hotly, 'but he will be no father of mine. My father lies in the churchyard. I wish he were alive again.'
"'So do I, Jack' said mother, wiping her eyes, 'but we know that can't be.'"
"How did he treat you, Jack?" asked Harry, interested.
"He never liked me, and I didn't like him at all He tried to impose upon me, and order me round, but he didn't make out much. Still, he was always annoying me in mean little ways, and finally I got all I could stand, and the long and short of it is that I ran away to Portsmouth, and went on a coasting voyage. After I got back I shipped from Boston for Liverpool, and ever since I've kept sailing in one direction or another. This will be my longest voyage."
"Haven't you been to see your mother since you left home three years ago?" Harry inquired.
"Of course I have," said Jack, promptly. "I always go to see her as soon as I get home from a voyage. Poor mother! She was looking pale and thin when I saw her three weeks ago. I am sure she has repented marrying, but she won't own up. When I'm a man——"
"Well, Jack; when you're a man?"
"I'll see that she has a better time, and if old Bannock don't like it he can clear out. I think he will anyway."
"Yes; he will have spent all the property by that time, and when that is done, he won't make much objection to going away. Then I will take care of mother, and see that she does not suffer for anything."
"You are right, Jack. I sympathize with you. I hope you'll succeed. I only wish I had a mother to look out for," and Harry's fine face wore an expression of sadness. "But there's one thing I can't help saying, though I don't want to discourage you."
"What is that, Harry?"
"I don't see how you are going to lay up much money in going before the mast. Your pay must be small."
"It is. I only earn ten dollars a month," replied Jack.
"And out of that you must buy your clothes?"
"Yes, that's true."
"Then how do you expect to better yourself?" asked Harry, looking perplexed.
"I'll tell you, if you won't say anything about it," answered Jack, in a lower tone.
"We are going to Australia, you know. I've heard there are good chances of making money there, in mining or herding cattle, and I mean to leave the ship at Melbourne. Of course, I don't want anything said about it."
"Do you think the captain would try to prevent you, Jack?"
"I think he would. He don't like me, at any rate."
"That is more than I can tell, but I can see that he has a prejudice against me."
The boys were so absorbed in their talk that they did not notice the approach of the captain till his harsh voice was heard.
"What are you two boys chattering about?" he demanded, with a frown.
Jack turned round startled, but Harry faced the captain calmly, and did not speak.
"Will you answer me?" he repeated, raising his voice.
"I was talking about home and my mother," said Jack.
"Mighty interesting, upon my word! And what were you talking about?" continued Captain Hill, turning to Harry.
"That can be of no interest to you, Captain Hill," said Harry, coldly. "You appear to forget that I am a passenger."
As he walked away, the captain regarded him with an ominous scowl. He wished that for fifteen minutes Harry had been one of the crew. It was fortunate for Jack that his temper was diverted, for, apparently forgetting the young sailor, he strode on, and Jack managed to slip down to the forecastle.
This was not by any means the last conversation Harry had with Jack Pendleton—for this he found to be the young sailor's name—and they soon became excellent friends.
"Jack," said Harry, one day, "I never should take you to be a sailor if I met you on land."
"Because you talk like a well-educated boy."
"So I am. I was always fond of my books, and stood high in school. But for my stepfather I might be there yet. As it is, my education stopped at the age of thirteen."
"Not necessarily. You have learned a good deal since."
"Yes, but not of books. I hope sometime to be able to continue my studies. At present it is my business to learn seamanship."
Harry had the more time on his hands, as his traveling companion, the professor, took sick, and was confined for three or four weeks to his cabin. There was no danger, but still the ship's surgeon advised him to stay below.
"What makes you keep company with that boy, Mr. Vane?" asked Montgomery Clinton, who would have liked more of Harry's society himself.
"Why shouldn't I?"
"Because he is a common sailor, don't you know."
"I think he is rather an uncommon sailor. He is very well educated."
"Oh, yes; I suppose he can read and write; but, of course, he can never be admitted into society, don't you know?"
"No, I don't, Mr. Clinton. He may be a captain some day."
"But he isn't now. I give you my word, I noticed this morning, when you were speaking with him, that his fingers were all soiled with tar. That's horrid, don't you know."
"Don't you think he's a good-looking boy, Mr. Clinton?"
"Well, yes; I suppose, for one of the lower order, Mr. Vane."
"You forget we don't have any distinction of classes in America."
"Don't we though? By Jove! Mr. Vane, you don't put yourself on a level with those creatures that dig ditches and climb masts, and such things?"
"Your sentiments are very undemocratic, Mr. Clinton. You ought to have been born in England."
"I wish I had been. I like their institutions a good deal better than ours, don't you know?"
"When I first spoke with you, Mr. Clinton, I thought you might be an Englishman."
"Did you, really?" inquired Clinton, with evident pleasure. "I'm often taken for an Englishman, on my honor. I don't know why it is, but positively, I'm often asked when I came from the other side."
"Would you rather be taken for an Englishman than an American?"
"Well, you see, there are some Americans that are so vulgar, don't you know—talk through their noses, and all that."
"Where were you born, Mr. Clinton?"
"In Massachusetts, not far from Boston."
"By the way, Mr. Vane, are you descended from Sir Henry Vane, one of the royal governors of Massachusetts? I have been meaning to ask you."
"I can't tell you, Mr. Clinton; but my name happens to be the same—Harry."
"Really, that is very interesting. I should think you would look up the matter."
"Perhaps I will when I return home!" said Harry, who cared very little about the matter. From this time, however, Clinton regarded him with increased respect, and manifested an increased liking for his society, from his supposed aristocratic lineage. Our hero treated him with good-natured toleration, but much preferred the company of Jack Pendleton, sailor as he was, though his fingers were not infrequently smeared with tar. Harry did not mind this; but was attracted by the frank, good-humored face of young Jack, and was always glad to have a chat with him. He had a chance, though at considerable personal risk, to do him a signal service before long.
The captain's habits, it must be said, did not improve. His stock of liquor was ample, and he continued to indulge himself. Generally he kept within safe bounds, but at times he allowed his appetite to get the better of him. Whenever that happened, it was fortunate if he drank himself into a state of stupefaction, and remained in his cabin, leaving the management of the ship to the mate, Mr. Holdfast, who was thoroughly temperate. Unfortunately, he was not always content to remain in the cabin. He would stagger upstairs and give orders which might or might not, be judicious.
One day—it was about a month after they left port—Captain Hill came up on deck in one of his worst fits of intoxication. All the passengers were on deck, it being a fair day. They regarded the captain with alarm, for in his hand he held a pistol, which he carried in such careless style that it might be discharged at any time.
Jack Pendleton had been sent up to the masthead on some duty by the mate. The captain's roving eyes fell upon him, and the dislike he felt for the boy found vent.
"What are you doing up there, you young lubber?" he shouted.
"Mr. Holdfast sent me," answered Jack.
"You lie!" roared the captain. "I'll teach you to lie to me!"
"I'll come down, sir," said Jack, "if you say so."
"I'll bring you down!" shouted the captain, furiously, as he deliberately pointed the pistol at the cabin boy, and prepared to pull the trigger.
There was a cry of horror on the part of the passengers as they saw the insane act of the captain, and realized the peril of poor Jack. But, in spite of all, the boy would probably have fallen a victim to the drunken fury of Captain Hill. Jack himself fully understood his danger, and his ruddy face turned pale. His life hung in the balance, and was saved only by the courage of his boy friend, Harry.
Of all the passengers, Harry stood nearest to the captain. When he saw the pistol pointed at Jack, he did not stop to think, but made a bound, and dashed the weapon from the captain's hand. It was discharged but the bullet sped over the rail and dropped into the ocean. Nor did Harry stop here. He seized the fallen pistol, and hurled it over the side of the vessel.
The captain was for the moment stupefied by the suddenness of the act. Then, in a voice of fury, he exclaimed, pointing to Harry: "Put that boy in irons!"
A SENSATIONAL SCENE
"Put that boy in irons!" repeated Captain Hill, his eyes blazing with anger.