THE DOG AND HIS MASTER

TOM HAD been in the woods, where by good fortune he had cut a stout
stick with a thick, gnarled top, something like the top of a cane. Armed
with this weapon, he rushed between Mary and her pursuer, and brought
down the knob with full force on the dog’s back. The attention of the
furious animal—a large bull-dog—was diverted to his assailant. With a
fierce howl he rushed upon Tom. But our hero was wary and expected the
attack. He jumped on one side and brought down the stick with terrible
force upon the dog’s head. The animal fell, partially stunned, his
quivering tongue protruding from his mouth.

“It won’t do to leave him so,” thought Tom; “when he revives he’ll be as
dangerous as before.”

He dealt the prostrate animal two more blows, which settled his fate.
The furious brute would no longer do any one harm.

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Temple!” said Mary Somers fervently, a trace of
color returning to her cheeks. “I was terribly frightened.”

“I don’t wonder,” said Tom. “The brute was dangerous.”

“How brave you are!” exclaimed the young lady, in admiration.

“It doesn’t take much courage to hit a dog on the head with a stick,”
said Tom modestly.

“Many boys would have run,” said Mary.

“What, and left you unprotected?” said Tom indignantly. “None but a
coward would have done that.”

“My cousin James run away,” said Mary.

“Did he see the dog chasing you?”

“Yes.”

“And what did he do?”

“He jumped over a stone wall.”

“Perhaps he didn’t have a stick with him,” said Tom considerately. “I
shouldn’t like to have tackled the brute without that.”

“Yes; James had a gun. He had just come from hunting.”

“All I can say is, that it isn’t _my_ style,” said Tom. “Do you see how
he froths at the mouth? I believe the dog was mad.”

“How fearful!” exclaimed Mary, with a shudder. “Did you suspect that
before?”

“Yes, I suspected it when I first saw him.”

“And yet you dared to meet him?”

“It was safer than to run. I wonder whose dog it is?”

“I’ll tell you,” said a brutal voice.

Turning, Tom beheld a stout young fellow, about two years older than
himself, with a face in which the animal seemed to predominate.

“I’ll let you know. What have you been doing to my dog?”

Addressed in this tone, Tom thought it unnecessary to throw away
politeness upon the newcomer.

“Killing him,” he answered shortly.

“What business had you to kill my dog?” demanded the other fiercely.

“It was your business to keep the brute locked up, where he wouldn’t do
any one harm,” said Tom. “As you didn’t I was obliged to kill him.”

“I’ll flog you within an inch of your life,” said the other, with an
oath.

“You’d better not try it,” said Tom coolly. “I suppose you think I ought
to have let the dog bite Miss Somers.”

“He wouldn’t have bitten her.”

“He would. He was chasing her with that intention.”

“It was only in sport.”

“I suppose he was frothing at the mouth only in sport,” said Tom. “The
dog was probably mad. You ought to thank me for killing him. He might
have bitten you.”

“That don’t go down,” said the other coarsely. “It’s much too thin.”

“It’s true,” said Mary Somers, speaking for the first time.

“Of course you’ll stand up for your sweetheart,” said the butcher boy
(for this was his business), “but that’s neither here nor there. I paid
five dollars for that dog, and if he don’t pay me what I gave, I’ll beat
him.”

“I shall do nothing of the sort,” said Tom quietly. “A dog like that
ought to be killed, and no one has any right to let him run loose,
risking the lives of people. The next time you get five dollars you’d
better invest it better.”

“Then you won’t pay me the money?” exclaimed the other, in a passion.
“I’ll break your head.”

“Come on then,” said Tom. “I’ve got something to say about that,” and he
squared off scientifically.

“Oh, don’t fight with him, Mr. Temple—Tom,” said Mary Somers, much
distressed. “He’s much stronger than you.”

“He’ll find that out soon enough, I’m thinking,” growled Tom’s big
opponent.

This was no doubt true. Ben Miller was not only stouter and larger, but
stronger than our hero. On the other hand he didn’t know how to use his
strength. It was undisciplined brute force, and that was all. If he
could have got Tom by his waist the latter would have been completely at
his mercy, but our hero knew that well enough, and didn’t choose to
allow it. He was a pretty fair boxer, and stood on his defense, calm and
wary.

When Ben rushed in, thinking to seize him, he found himself greeted with
two blows on the face, dealt in quick succession, one of which struck
him on the nose, the other in the eye, the effect of both being to make
his head spin.

“I’ll mash you for that,” he yelled in a frenzy of rage, but as he
rushed on a second time he never thought of guarding his face. The
consequence was a couple more blows, the other eye being assailed this
time.

Ben was astonished. Indeed, I may well say he was astounded. He expected
to “chaw up” his small antagonist at the first outset. Instead of that,
there stood Tom cool and unhurt, while he could feel that his nose was
bleeding, while both eyes were in a very uncomfortable condition. He
stopped short and stared at Tom as well as he could through his injured
optics.

“Where did you learn to fight?” he asked, rubbing his wounds.

“Of Professor Thompson,” said Tom.

“Who’s he?”

“He teaches boxing.”

“How did your fists get so hard?”

“They’re not very hard,” said Tom, “but they’re rather harder than your
nose or eyes. Do you want any more?”

“Not just now,” said Ben. “I say, what’ll you take to teach me boxin’?”

“I shouldn’t dare to,” said Tom.

“Why not?”

“When you’d learned you could lick me easily.”

“Well, I wouldn’t,” said Ben. “I’m a rough customer, I expect, but
you’re a trump, and you’ve got grit, I vow if you haven’t. There’s my
hand, to show I don’t bear no malice.”

Tom offered his hand, though he feared there might be craft in the offer
of friendship. But it was honestly meant. Ben was not altogether a
brute, and he really felt respect for Tom’s pluck. He gave him a cordial
pressure, and said:

“It’s all right, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said Tom. “I hope your face doesn’t pain you.”

“Yes, it does, but no matter. It’ll soon be better.”

“Now,” said Tom, “I’m willing to pay you the five dollars you lost on
the dog.”

“No,” said Ben. “I guess you’re right about his being an ugly brute.
Maybe he was mad, as you say.”

“I feel sure of it,” said Tom. “Look at him.”

“Well, I’ll bury the poor brute. It wasn’t his fault he got mad.”

“Good-morning,” said Tom. “I’ll see you again about the boxing. Now I am
going to accompany this young lady home.”

“You needn’t put yourself to so much trouble, Mr. Temple,” said Mary.

“It’s no trouble,” said Tom politely. “I see you are nervous. That’s
only natural.”

“You have saved my life, Mr. Temple,” said Mary warmly. “I cannot tell
you how grateful I am.”

“I’ll take that for granted,” said Tom. “I am going to ask a favor.”

“I shall be sure to grant it.”

“Then don’t call me Mr. Temple. I’m not used to that name from my
friends. Call me Tom.”

“If you wish me to,” said Mary bashfully.

“Yes, I do. When you call me Mr. Temple, it makes me feel as if I were
your uncle, or grandfather, or some one equally venerable.”

Mary laughed.

“Perhaps you’d like to have me call you Uncle Tom,” she said.

“That would be better than Mr. Temple,” said our hero, “but as there’s
another well-known Uncle Tom, I would rather be called only Tom.”

“I’ll remember, Tom,” said Mary hesitatingly.

“That’s right,” said Tom with satisfaction.

They talked together pleasantly until they reached Mr. Davenport’s
house. Imogene saw them coming from the front window where she was
sitting, and her face grew dark with vexation and jealousy.

“REALLY, Mary,” said Imogene coldly, “Mr. Temple must have a singular
opinion of you.”

Even the mildest natures are capable of indignation at times, and Mary
showed her sense of her cousin’s injustice.

“I don’t know why,” she said.

“It isn’t the custom for young ladies to call on young men and ask their
escort.”

“Who has done it?” demanded Mary.

“It looks very much as if you had done it,” said Imogene.

“Your suspicion is ridiculous,” said Mary with dignity.

“Considering that my father supports you, you might treat me with
greater respect,” said Imogene angrily.

“I am not likely to forget my dependence, Imogene,” said Mary. “You take
care to remind me of it often enough. You might spare me at least before
Mr. Temple.”

“I suppose you wish him to think you a rich young lady,” said Imogene
coarsely, “but it is of no use. He understands that you are a beggar,
and are being educated for a governess.”

“I’d like to wring the girl’s neck,” thought Tom, who felt for Mary,
under the coarse abuse which her cousin thought fit to heap upon her. He
thought it quite time to speak.

“I have just as much respect for Miss Somers as if she were an heiress,”
he said, with a look of sympathy which Mary saw and appreciated. “I was
fortunate enough to meet your cousin a short time since, Miss Davenport,
when she was exposed to a great danger.”

“From which Mr. Temple’s courage saved me,” said Mary gratefully.

“Really, one would think you had been attacked by a wild beast.”

“That is really the case,” said Tom.

“A wild beast—in Plympton!” exclaimed Imogene in amazement.

“Yes, the worst kind of a wild beast—a mad-dog. Fortunately, I had a
stick with me and killed him.”

“After your brother James had run away and left me to my fate,” said
Mary, a little bitterly.

Imogene’s curiosity led her to inquire into the details of the rescue.
Though not altogether pleased with the growing intimacy of Tom and her
poor cousin, she was glad that it was only a chance meeting, and that it
was only an instinct of common humanity that led to our hero’s
interfering in her behalf. Considering the youth of the parties, I may
be charged with exaggerating her feelings, but Imogene is by no means
the only girl of fifteen who suffers from jealousy. She was not in love
of course, but she was covetous of attention, and the possible rivalry
of her cousin made her very angry. She begun to think, on the whole,
that she had been too open in her spite, and that this was not the
surest way of winning Tom’s favor. She was clear-sighted enough to see
that his sympathies in the present case were with Mary.

Softening her tone, therefore, she said:

“At any rate, I am glad it has brought you to the house, Mr. Temple.
Pray come in, and let me offer you a plate of strawberries and cream.”

Tom was not heroic enough to withstand such an offer as this. He was
fond of strawberries, and he knew there was no chance of getting any at
the Middletons’. They would have thought it sinful extravagance to spend
money on such a luxury.

“Thank you,” he said, and entered.

“You’d better go up-stairs and change your dress, Mary,” said her
cousin. “Really the one you have on looks disgracefully dirty.”

“I fell while I was running away from the dog,” said Mary.

Just here James entered. He looked rather sheepish when he saw Mary.

“Halloo! Are you all right, Mary?” he asked.

“Yes!” she said, rather significantly. “I am glad you were prudent
enough not to run into danger on my account.”

“The dog came so suddenly,” said James, coloring, “that I didn’t have
time to think.”

“So you jumped over the wall. I don’t know what would have become of me
if Mr. Temple had not come along.”

“Did you have a gun?” asked James.

“No; I had a stick that I cut in the woods.”

“He killed the dog with it,” said Mary, “and afterward he conquered the
dog’s owner.”

“You don’t mean to say you fought with Ben Miller?” exclaimed James, in
surprise.

“He insisted on my paying for the dog or fighting him,” said Tom. “I
chose the last.”

“Why, he’s twice as strong as you,” said James. “He could whip you and
me together, that is if I would condescend to fight with such a low
fellow.”

“I had to condescend,” said Tom laughing, “as he attacked me furiously.”

“What did you do?”

“I condescended to give him the worst of it. He won’t want to fight with
me again.”

“I don’t understand it. He is certainly stronger than you.”

“He doesn’t know how to use his strength. I can box, and while I warded
off his blows I put in a few that he didn’t like.”

“Then you box?”

“A little.”

“I’ll take care not to get into a fight with him,” said James to
himself. “If he can whip Ben Miller he’s more than a match for me.”

Meanwhile Mary had gone up-stairs and changed her dress, as her cousin
suggested.

Imogene, having Tom to herself, became very agreeable, loaded his plate
with strawberries, and strove to ingratiate herself with him. But Tom
did not easily forget the spite which she had exhibited toward her
cousin, and Imogene would hardly have felt flattered had she been able
to read the real opinion which he entertained concerning her.

“Take some more strawberries—do, Mr. Temple,” said Imogene.

“Thank you,” said Tom, “but I have eaten heartily. Besides, your cousin
hasn’t had any.”

“Oh, Mary doesn’t care for strawberries,” said Imogene carelessly.

“Yes, I do,” said Mary, who that moment entered. “I think they are
beautiful.”

Imogene frowned.

“Oh, well, empty the dish if you like,” said she rudely.

“If she does, she won’t have as much as we have eaten,” said Tom. “Let
me help you, Miss Mary.”

And to Imogene’s vexation he deposited the remaining strawberries in a
plate and handed them to Mary.

“Thank you,” said Mary, and chafed by her cousin’s rudeness she
defiantly seasoned and ate the strawberries.

Imogene rose abruptly while Mary was still eating.

“Come into the parlor, Mr. Temple,” she said. “I would like to show a
piece of music which my music-teacher just brought me.”

“You must excuse me, Miss Davenport,” said Tom, bowing. “I have not been
home since morning, and I need to change my dress as well as your
cousin.”

“Don’t mind your dress. I’ll excuse it.”

“But I feel dirty. I have been tramping about the woods. I wouldn’t have
ventured into a young lady’s presence except under the circumstances.”

“I am sorry the dog is dead for your sake, Mary,” said Imogene
sarcastically. “You might contrive to get rescued again in a day or
two.”

“I would rather be excused,” said Mary Somers. “I wouldn’t have such a
fright again for a thousand dollars.”

“It would pay you, as you are never likely to get so much money in any
other way.”

“I am not likely to forget that I am poor, Imogene,” said Mary, in a
hurt tone.

“Good-by,” said Tom.

When Tom had gone the luckless Mary had to undergo another attack.

“I should be ashamed to lay myself out to attract attention as you do,
Mary,” said her amiable cousin.

“Who says I have?”

“I say so. It is really sickening to see how you try to attract Mr.
Temple. You seem to forget that he is rich, or going to be, and that you
will only be a poor governess.”

“I think it is mean, Imogene, to remind me of my poverty before
strangers.”

“I wouldn’t if you didn’t put on so many airs. Really it is sickening.”

“If we were to change places I would not taunt you with your
dependence.”

“Wait till I am dependent,” said Imogene. “I flatter myself there is no
fear of that. My father is the wealthiest man in the town, which is
fortunate for you. Although you are permitted to share in the same
advantages with his children, you ought always to remember your true
position. You ought to be more respectful to me and James, for, though
we are your cousins, we are far above you in social position.”

Poor Mary! It was not the first time she had been compelled to listen to
such admonitions from her haughty cousin.

She left the room with an aching heart. Her material wants were provided
for—she lacked not for food or clothing—but she sought in vain for the
sympathy which the heart craves. She felt that she was regarded with
disdain by her uncle’s family, and she longed for the time when she
could throw off the thralldom of dependence and earn her own living.

“I hate her!” said Imogene to herself, as her cousin closed the door.
“With her meek face and cajoling ways, she is artfully trying to get Tom
Temple interested in her. She sha’n’t succeed if I can help it. I’ll
show him her real character. I wish pa would send her off to some cheap
boarding-school.”

THREE months passed, and Tom was still a boarder with the Middletons.
The academy—for there was one in the town—was in session, and Tom was
numbered among the pupils. James Davenport, his sister Imogene, and Mary
Somers, also attended. Edwin, who had only been on a visit, had returned
to his home in the city.

Our hero had easily gained an ascendency in the school. His physical
prowess made his companions shy of opposing him, and I am compelled to
say that he showed a disposition to assert authority over his
school-fellows. He oftentimes insisted on carrying his point, when it
would have been in better taste to consult the wishes of others. There
was evidently some ground for the name which he had won in his former
home, that of the bully of the village. But Tom had redeeming traits. He
always sided with the weaker against the stronger. Though he domineered
over the smaller boys, he allowed no one else to do so. He had more than
once interfered to protect younger boys from the exactions of the
lawyer’s son, who was also inclined to be despotic, but was mean as
well. James was always compelled to give in to Tom, partly because he
was afraid of him, but partly, also, because he respected Tom’s wealth.
“A boy who is rich has a right to command,” thought James. Still he did
not like Tom, nor did Tom like him, but James thought it best to
preserve the peace between them. As for Imogene, she partly liked and
partly hated our hero. He was rich, and she was ambitious of receiving
his attentions, but she hated him because he would often neglect her and
devote himself to Mary Somers, who, poor girl, received more than one
angry lecture from her jealous cousin.

“Was it my fault that Tom chose to go home with me?” she asked on one
occasion.

“Probably you invited him?” sneered Imogene.

“I did not.”

“Then you looked as if you wanted him to come. I know your sly ways,
miss.”

“You are too bad, Imogene. Go and speak to Tom, if you want to—I am not
to blame. Besides, doesn’t he go home with you sometimes?”

“That is different. I am his social equal. He is rich, and so am I. But
you are as poor as poverty.”

“It isn’t very kind to be reminding me of that all the time.”

“I wouldn’t if you didn’t forget your place. You seem to forget that you
have got to earn your own living.”

“I wish I could now,” said Mary rather bitterly. “I would rather work
among strangers, no matter how hard, than to be a dependent, and be
continually twitted with my poverty.”

“There’s gratitude for you,” said Imogene sarcastically.

“I would defy any one to feel grateful to _you_,” said Mary with some
spirit.

“I wish pa would follow my advice and send you to a boarding-school,”
said Imogene.

“I wish he would,” answered her cousin. “I might get a little peace
then.”

“Fine talk, miss. You wouldn’t be willing to leave your darling Tom.”

Mary was about to reply, when both girls started, for it so happened
that our hero was close behind them.

“Who is talking about me?” he asked roguishly, for he had heard the word
“darling.”

“Imogene,” said Mary quickly.

“Thank you for your flattering opinion of my humble self,” said Tom,
bowing low.

“It’s a mistake,” said Imogene. “I was alluding to Mary’s unwillingness
to go to a boarding-school because she would be separated from you.”

“Is that true?” asked Tom, turning to Mary with evident pleasure.

“It is true that I should miss you, Tom,” said Mary frankly.

“I am glad to hear that.”

“But still there are reasons why I should be willing to go to a
boarding-school.”

“Couldn’t we go together?” asked Tom insinuatingly.

“I am afraid you couldn’t pass for a girl,” said Mary laughing.

“I am afraid not,” said Tom reflectively. “My mustache would betray me.”

“There isn’t enough of it to do any harm,” said Mary saucily.

“I will be revenged for that,” said Tom. “When you slight my mustache
you touch me in my tenderest point.”

“Mary,” said Imogene sharply, “I wish you would stop talking nonsense.”

Imogene disliked particularly the familiarity that marked Mary’s
conversation with our hero. Though she had known him equally long, she
did not venture upon a similar tone, nor would she have succeeded very
well in _badinage_, for she had little sense of humor. It made her angry
to think Tom was more intimate with her poor cousin than with herself.

“Let us be serious, then,” said Tom. “Is it true that you are going to a
boarding-school, Mary?”

“Ask Imogene.”

Tom turned to Imogene.

“Very probable,” said Imogene snappishly.

“And shall you go too?”

“Oh, no,” answered the young lady. “I should not be willing to give up
my fine home for the shabby accommodations of a boarding-school.”

“Then why is your cousin to go?”

“Her case is different.”

“Why?”

“I’ll tell you,” answered Mary, her lip curling, “and spare Imogene the
trouble. I am a poor relation. Some time I’ve got to work for my living.
It doesn’t matter much about me. The shabby accommodations of a
boarding-school will suit me very well.”

“That is perfectly true,” said Imogene sharply, “though you probably
don’t mean it. As you can’t expect anything better than a common home
when you are grown up, it would be better that you should prepare for it
in a boarding-school than to become accustomed to luxury in my father’s
house.”

“You are extremely considerate, Imogene,” said Mary. “I suppose I ought
to feel grateful to you for thinking so much about what would be best
for me.”

“I don’t expect any gratitude from you, miss,” retorted Imogene, “though
my papa does board you and pay all your bills.”

“Tom must feel very much interested in our conversation,” said Mary,
flushing with mortification.

“Uncommonly,” said Tom. “Do I understand that you mean to earn your
living some day?”

“Yes, if I get the chance.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Be a teacher—seamstress—anything.”

“Good!” said Tom. “I’ll engage you to give me lessons.”

“In what?”

“Sewing,” said Tom gravely; “or would you recommend knitting?”

Mary laughed.

“I should prefer sewing, as I understand it better; but I am afraid you
won’t be patient enough.”

“Try me.”

By this time they had reached the lawyer’s house, and the two girls
entered. Imogene was thoroughly in earnest in her resolution to get rid
of Mary.

That evening a family conclave was held; the papers were examined for
the advertisement of a cheap boarding-school, the cheapest was selected,
and early the next week Mary Somers started by the coach for a new home.

As the coach whirled away Imogene looked after it with exultation.

“I’ve got rid of her,” she exclaimed, “and now I shall have Tom all to
myself.”

But Tom’s own stay in Plympton was to be short, though she did not know
it, nor he either.

TOM GOT along tolerably well with the Middletons. They had found out
that it was necessary to give him his own way, for he was sure to obtain
it sooner or later in a way that annoyed them. They were obliged to
considerably improve their frugal table, but after all there was a
handsome profit in Tom’s board, and besides, they fared better
themselves.

At the end of every month Nathan rode over to Centerville, twelve miles
distant, and collected eighty-three dollars and thirty-four cents for
Tom’s board. He might have waited for a check, but he was afraid it
might be delayed, and besides, he had a chance to combine a little
insurance business with his other errand.

So it happened that one October day he stopped his horse before the
office of Ephraim Sharp, attorney-at-law, who had charge of Tom’s
property. With a pleasant smile, he entered the office and greeted the
attorney, who was sitting at a desk, his brow knit with care.

“How do you do, Mr. Sharp?” said Nathan. “Fine morning!”

“Is it?” said the lawyer abruptly. “I hadn’t time to think of the
weather.”

“You see the month brings me round,” said Nathan. “Tom’s very well.”

“And you want that money for his board I suppose?”

“Well, I don’t mind telling you that it will be convenient,” answered
Nathan, rubbing his hands with the pleased look of a man who is to
receive money.

“Sit down, Mr. Middleton,” said the lawyer. “I am glad you have come
over; I want to talk to you.”

“I hope he won’t propose to take Tom away from me,” thought Mr.
Middleton, a little nervously. It occurred to him that Tom might have
written to Mr. Sharp expressing a desire to leave Plympton. Yet that
seemed hardly likely, for his young ward had appeared quite contented.

“I wish to speak to you about Tom’s property,” Mr. Sharp begun.

Mr. Middleton pricked up his ears and assumed a look of deep attention.
He hoped the lawyer had got tired of his trust and wanted to resign the
charge of the property to him, in which case he could charge a nice
commission.

“I believe I told you on the occasion of my first visit that Tom’s
fortune amounted to forty thousand dollars.”

“And a very nice, ample property,” murmured Mr. Middleton.

“But when it came into my charge it was invested in a way that seemed to
me injudicious. For instance, Mr. Temple, Tom’s father, lent ten
thousand dollars to a New York merchant, with absolutely no security—a
very unbusiness-like proceeding.”

“Extremely so,” said Mr. Middleton.

“The merchant was a personal friend, and that was no doubt the motive
that influenced Mr. Temple. Well, the merchant has failed, and his
assets are next to nothing—possibly he may pay five cents on a dollar.”

“Shocking!” exclaimed Nathan, who almost felt it a personal loss.

“We may as well count it a total loss. That is not all. Fifteen thousand
dollars were invested in Western mining shares, which my late friend was
induced to buy in the hope of making unheard-of dividends. For a time
prospects were flattering, but investigations which I have been quietly
making during the last three months satisfy me that they are little
short of worthless. That’s fifteen thousand dollars more gone.”

“Good gracious!” exclaimed Nathan dismally, for he saw that his young
boarder would no longer be able to pay the handsome rate of board he had
thus far received.

“That isn’t all,” said the lawyer.

“What, more losses?” groaned Nathan.

“I am sorry to answer in the affirmative. The remainder of the money,
that is, all but a few hundred dollars, was invested in an assorted
cargo, sent in conjunction with an old friend in trade, as a mercantile
venture to India. I received tidings yesterday that the vessel—the
Harbinger—is lost.”

“But the insurance?” suggested Nathan eagerly. “That can be recovered.”

“It will be contested, and probably cannot be recovered. Some of the
conditions of safety, it is alleged, were violated.”

“Then Tom has lost all his fortune,” said Mr. Middleton in
consternation.

“It is more than likely,” answered the lawyer gravely.

“It is a terrible misfortune,” said Nathan, wiping his forehead with his
red silk handkerchief. But he thought rather of the loss to himself than
to Tom.

“Of course we must make some different arrangements for him.”

“You said something was left, didn’t you?” inquired Nathan.

“Yes; a few hundred dollars.”

“That will pay his board a few months longer.”

“And leave him penniless at the end! My dear sir, do you imagine he is
in a situation to pay twenty dollars a week for board?”

“I might take him for a _little_ less,” said Nathan reluctantly.

“It would have to be a great deal less. These four hundred
dollars—possibly five—are all that the boy is sure of. They must be
husbanded. My idea is, that he should be sent to a cheap boarding-school
for a year, or else begin to learn some business at once. Under the
changed circumstances five dollars a week must be the limit charged for
his board.”

“I should lose money if I took him for that,” said Nathan. “Besides I am
sure Mrs. Middleton would not consent. He really has a great appetite,
and he is very dainty about his victuals. Really you would be surprised
to know how much my expenses are increased by his becoming a member of
my family.”

“He is a growing boy. I can readily believe that he is hearty.”

“And he gives a great deal of trouble.”

“I told you when you agreed to take him that he was not a model boy. I
had no doubt he would give you trouble.”

“He is very headstrong, and I really could not stand it unless—unless it
was made worth my while.”

“No doubt. Well, I don’t think it best that he should stay in Plympton.
He can’t afford to pay you enough to make up for the trouble he will
cause. I think it will be best that you send him at once to me.”

“I’ll send him to-morrow,” said Nathan promptly, “but about the board
due for the last month?” he inquired with anxiety.

“That shall be paid. Where is your bill?”

“I have got it here,” said Nathan, considerably relieved. “The board
comes to eighty-three dollars and thirty-four cents. Then I have spent
five dollars and fifty-six cents besides for books, and I have charged
fifty cents for a pane of glass which Tom broke in my kitchen
window—altogether, eighty-nine dollars and forty cents.”

“I will hand you a check for that amount and three dollars besides,
which you may give to Tom for traveling expenses.”

Nathan received the money with mingled joy and regret, the latter
feeling being roused by the thought that it was the last money he would
receive on Tom’s account.

“And he’s a beggar after all,” said Nathan to himself as he rode
homeward. “Who would have thought it? It’ll take down a little of his
independence, I reckon. I ain’t sorry as far as he’s concerned. His
pride deserves to have a fall. But it’ll be a terrible loss to me.”