Part 4 out of 5
see something of the city."
"I think I'll lie down awhile; I feel tired. Perhaps we shall meet
later. If not, I shall see you in the morning."
"All right," said Andy.
In a few minutes he went out.
THE DROP GAME
Fairfax had an object in remaining behind. He wanted to see if there
was any way for him to get into Andy's room during the night, that he
might rob him in his sleep. To his great satisfaction, he found that
there was a door between the two rooms, for the accommodation of
persons in the same party, who wished to be in adjoining apartments.
It was, however, locked, but Fairfax was not unprepared for such an
emergency. He took a bunch of keys from his pocket, and tried them,
one after another, in the lock. There was one that would very nearly
fit. For this again, Fairfax was prepared. He took from the same
pocket a file, and began patiently to file away the key till it should
fit. He tried it several times before he found that it fitted. But at
last success crowned his efforts. The door opened.
His eyes danced with exultation, as he saw this.
"I might as well be in the same room," he said, to himself. "Now, you
young rascal, I shall take your money, and be revenged upon you at the
He carefully locked the door, and then, feeling that he had done all
that was necessary to do at present, went downstairs, and took supper.
Andy was out, and did not see him.
Meanwhile, our young hero was out seeing the sights. He walked up
Washington Street, and at Boylston Street turned and reached Tremont
Street, when he saw the Common before him. It looked pleasant, and
Andy crossed the street, and entered. He walked wherever fancy led,
and then found himself, after a while, in a comparatively secluded
part. Here he met with an adventure, which I must describe.
Rather a shabby-looking individual in front of him suddenly stooped
and picked up a pocketbook, which appeared to be well filled with
money. He looked up, and met Andy's eyes fixed upon it. This was what
"Here's a pocketbook," he said. "Somebody must have dropped it."
Andy was interested.
"It seems to have considerable money in it," said the finder.
"Open it, and see," said Andy.
"I hain't time. I have got to leave the city by the next train. I
mean, I haven't time to advertise it, and get the reward which the
owner will be sure to offer. Are you going to stay in the city long?"
"I'm going out to-morrow."
"I must go. I wish I knew what to do."
He seemed to be plunged into anxious thought.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," he said, as if a bright idea had
suddenly struck him. "You take the pocketbook, and advertise it. If
the owner is found, he will give you a reward. If not, the whole will
belong to you."
"All right," said Andy. "Hand it over."
"Of course," said the other, "I shall expect something myself, as I
was the one to find it."
"I'll give you half."
"But I shall be out of the city. I'll tell you what give me ten
dollars, and I'll make it over to you."
"That's rather steep," said Andy.
"Heft it. There must be a lot of money inside."
"I'm afraid the reward might be less than ten dollars," said Andy.
"Well, I'm in a great hurry--give me five."
It is possible that Andy, who was not acquainted with the "drop game,"
might have agreed to this, but a policeman hove in sight, and the
shabby individual scuttled away without further ceremony, leaving Andy
a little surprised, with the pocketbook in his hand.
"What's he in such a hurry for?" thought our hero.
He opened the pocketbook, and a light flashed upon him, as he
perceived that there was no money inside, but was stuffed with rolls
"He wanted to swindle me," thought Andy. "It's lucky I didn't pay him
five dollars. Anyway, I'll keep it. The pocketbook is worth
He put it in his pocket, without taking the trouble to remove the
THE GUEST OF TWO HOTELS
Andy wandered about till nine o'clock, determined to see as much of
the city as possible in the limited time which he had at his disposal;
but at last he became tired, and returned to the hotel. Fairfax was
seated in the reading-room. He looked up as Andy entered.
"Have you been looking around the city?" he asked.
"Yes," said Andy; "I wanted to improve my time."
"I suppose, as this is your first visit, you see a good deal that is
"It's all new," said Andy. "I feel tired, walking around so much."
"No doubt. Are you going to bed now?"
"I guess I'll turn in."
"I shan't go up quite yet. I have been staying here quietly, and I
don't feel tired. I shall go up in the course of an hour or two."
"Good-night, then," said Andy.
"Good-night. I hope you'll sleep sound," said Fairfax, who was
certainly entirely sincere in this wish, as the success of his plans
depended on the soundness of our hero's repose.
Andy went upstairs, and lighted the gas in his bedroom. He noticed the
door communicating with the next one, and tried it, but found it to be
"That's all right," said Andy. "Nobody can get in that way."
He locked the principal door, and bolted it, also, which seemed to
make him perfectly secure.
"Now," thought he, after undressing, "where shall I put the money?"
This was an important question, as he had between five hundred and a
thousand dollars belonging to the Misses Grant, of which it was his
duty to take even more care than if it belonged to himself.
"I guess I'll put it under the bolster," he reflected, "covering it up
with the sheet. Nobody can get in, that I can see, but it is best to
In emptying his pockets, he came across the pocketbook, with its sham
contents, of which mention has already been made.
"I'll leave that in my pocket," he said to himself, with a smile. "I'm
not afraid of losing that. By the powers, it wouldn't be much of a
prize to the man that took it; I'm sure of that."
He laid his clothes on a chair, in the middle of the room, and jumped
into bed, when he soon sank into a deep sleep.
Meanwhile, Fairfax remained below in the reading-room. He was not at
all sleepy, as he had told Andy, and his mind was full of the scheme
of robbery, which appeared so promising. He was glad Andy had retired
so early, as he would be asleep sooner, and this would make things
favorable for his entering his young companion's chamber. It was his
intention, after he had secured the "plunder"--to adopt a Western
phrase--to come downstairs and leave the hotel, not to return, as
otherwise, as soon as Andy should discover his loss, the door between
the two rooms would, naturally, point to him as the thief.
He didn't go up to his room till half-past ten. This was an hour and a
half later than Andy retired, and would give him a chance to get fast
"He must be asleep now," he thought.
On reaching the corridor on which both of the chambers were situated,
he stood a moment before Andy's door, and listened. It was not often
that our young hero was guilty of snoring, but to-night he was weary,
and had begun to indulge in this nocturnal disturbance. The sounds
which he heard were very satisfactory to Fairfax.
"The boy's fast asleep," he muttered. "I'll go into his room, and make
quick work of it. Fairfax, you're in luck, for once. Fortune has taken
Softly he opened the door of his own room, and entered. He lit the
gas, and then, going to the door of communication between the two
rooms, he listened again. There was no cessation of the sounds which
he had heard from the outside. He determined to make the attempt at
once. Taking the proper key from his pocket, he fitted it into the
lock, and, turning it, the door opened, and he stepped into the
adjoining apartment. It was dark, for Andy had extinguished the gas on
going to bed, but the gas from his own room made it sufficiently light
for his purpose. He at once caught sight of Andy's clothes lying on
the chair, where he had placed them. He glanced cautiously at our
hero, as he lay extended upon the bed, with one arm flung out, but he
saw no reason for alarm. Quickly he glided to the chair with noiseless
step (he had removed his boots, by way of precaution), and thrust his
hand into the pocket of the coat. It came in contact with the false
pocketbook, which seemed bulky and full of money. Fairfax never
doubted that it was the right one, and quickly thrust it into his own
pocket. Just then Andy moved a little in bed, and Fairfax retreated,
hastily, through the door, closing it after him.
"Now, the sooner I get out of this hotel, the better!" he thought.
"The boy may wake and discover his loss. It isn't likely, but it may
happen. At any rate it's very much better to be on the safe side."
He did not stop to examine the prize which he had secured. He had no
doubt whatever that it contained the money he was after. To stop to
count it might involve him in peril. He, therefore, put on his boots,
and glided out of the chamber and downstairs.
To the clerk who was at the desk he said, as he surrendered his key:
"How late do you keep open? Till after midnight?"
"Certainly," was the reply.
"All right. I may be out till late."
He left the key, and went out into the street. He hailed a passing car
in Tremont Street, and rode for some distance. In Court Street he got
on board a Charlestown car, and in half an hour found himself in the
city everywhere known by the granite shaft that commemorates the
battle of Bunker Hill. He made his way to a hotel, where he took a
room, entering here under the name of James Simmons, Portsmouth, New
Hampshire. Anxious to examine his prize, he desired to be shown at
once to a chamber. He followed the servant who conducted him with
impatient steps. The stolen money was burning in his pocket. He wanted
to know how much he had, and was more than half resolved to take an
early train the next morning for the West, where he thought he should
be secure from discovery.
"Is there anything wanted, sir?" asked the servant, lingering at the
"No, no," said Fairfax, impatiently. "It's all right."
"Might be a little more polite," muttered the snubbed servant, as he
"Now for it!" exclaimed Fairfax, exultingly. "Now, let me see how much
I have got."
He drew the pocketbook from his pocket, and opened it. His heart gave
a quick thump, and he turned ashy pale, as his glance rested upon the
worthless roll of brown paper with which it had been stuffed.
"Curse the boy!" he cried, in fierce and bitter disappointment. "He
has fooled me, after all! Why didn't I stop long enough to open the
pocketbook before I came away? Blind, stupid fool that I was! I am as
badly off as before--nay, worse, for I have exposed myself to
suspicion, and haven't got a penny to show for it."
I will not dwell upon his bitter self-reproaches, and, above all, the
intense mortification he felt at having been so completely fooled by a
boy, whom he had despised as verdant and inexperienced in the ways of
the, world--to think that success had been in his grasp, and he had
missed it, after all, was certainly disagreeable enough. It occurred
to him that he might go back to the Adams House even now, and repair
his blunder. It was not likely that Andy was awake yet. He was very
weary, and boys of his age were likely, unless disturbed, to sleep
through the night. He might retrieve his error, and no one would be
"I'll do it," he said, at length.
He went downstairs, and left the hotel without the knowledge of the
clerk. Jumping into the horse-cars, he returned to Boston, and entered
the Adams House about half-past twelve o'clock. He claimed his key at
the desk, and went upstairs to his room. He had scarcely lit the gas,
however, when a knock was heard at the door. Opening it
unsuspiciously, he turned pale, as he recognized the clerk, in company
with an officer of the law.
"What's wanted?" he faltered.
"You are wanted," was the brief reply.
"What for?" he gasped.
"You are charged with entering the adjoining room, and stealing a
pocketbook from the boy who sleeps there."
"It's a lie!" he said, but his tone was nervous.
"You must submit to a search," said the officer.
"Do you mean to insult me?" demanded Fairfax, assuming an air of
"Not at all. I am only giving you a chance to clear yourself from
"I am a respectable merchant from Portland. I was never so insulted in
my life," said Fairfax.
"If the charge proves groundless, I will make you an ample apology,"
said the officer.
Fairfax was compelled to submit to the search. He cursed his stupidity
in not throwing away the worthless pocketbook, but this he had
neglected to do, and, of course, it was very significant evidence
against him. Not only was this found, but the variety of keys already
"You carry a great many keys," said the officer.
"It isn't a crime to carry keys, is it?" demanded Fairfax, sullenly.
"Not if no improper use is made of them. I suspect that one of them
will open the door into the next chamber."
The keys were tried, and one did open the door. As the light flashed
into the room, Andy got up.
"Come here, young man," said the officer. "Can you identify that
"I can," said Andy.
"Is it yours?"
"When I went to bed, it was in the pocket of my coat, lying on that
"It is certainly a wonderful pocketbook. I have just found it in that
Fairfax's eyes were bent malignantly upon Andy. A light flashed upon
him. Now, he recognized him.
"I know you," he said. "You are the man that stopped Colonel Preston,
and tried to rob him."
"You lie, curse you!" exclaimed Fairfax, springing forward, and trying
to throw himself upon Andy. But he was not quick enough. The officer
had interposed, and seized him by the collar.
"Not so fast, Mr. Marvin, or whatever your name is. We don't allow any
such games as that. Sit down till I want you."
The baffled adventurer was jerked into a chair, from which he
continued to eye Andy savagely.
"What's that affair you were talking about, young man?" asked the
Andy briefly related his adventure with Fairfax on a former occasion.
"I'll trouble you to come with me, Mr. Marvin, or Fairfax," said the
officer. "There's another hotel where lodgings are provided for such
Resistance was useless, and the detected thief, though his name was
registered at two hotels, was compelled to occupy a less agreeable
room at the station-house. How he was detected will be explained in
the next chapter.
A STARTLING EVENT
Sometimes, the mere presence of a person in the room is sufficient to
interrupt even sound repose. At all events, whether it was the
entrance of Fairfax, acting in some mysterious way upon Andy, or the
light that streamed into the room, his slumber was disturbed, and his
eyes opened just as the adventurer was retiring, with his supposed
Our hero did not immediately take in the situation. He was naturally a
little bewildered, being just aroused from sleep, but in a short time
the real state of the case dawned upon him.
"By the powers!" he said to himself, "it's that man that went to the
museum with me! He saw my money, and he came in for it! I'll get up
Quietly and noiselessly he got out of bed, and, going to the chair,
felt in his pockets, and so discovered the loss of the stuffed
Andy wanted to laugh, but forbore, lest the sound should be heard in
the next room.
"It's a good joke on the dirty thafe!" said Andy, to himself. "He's
welcome to all the money, he's got--it won't carry him far, I'm
Prudence suggested another thought. When Fairfax found out the
worthlessness of his booty, would he not come back and search for the
"If he does, I'll fight him," thought Andy.
Still, he knew the conflict would be unequal, since the other was
considerably his superior in strength. However, Andy determined that,
come what might, he would defend his trust, "or perish in the
attempt." But, while he was coming to this determination, he heard the
door of the adjoining chamber open softly, and then he could hear
steps along the corridor. Evidently, the thief had not found out the
actual character of his booty, but was going off under the impression
that it was valuable.
"Maybe he'll come back," thought Andy. "I guess I'd better go down and
give notice at the desk. Then, if he comes back, he'll get into hot
He hastily dressed himself, and, locking his door, went downstairs.
First, however, he removed the money from under his pillow, and put it
into his pocket. He found the clerk at the desk.
"Has the man that came in with me gone out?" asked Andy.
"He went out about five minutes ago."
"Did he say anything about coming back?"
"He said it would be late when he returned. He asked me if we kept
open after twelve. Did you want to find him?"
"I should like to have the police find him," said Andy.
"How is that?" asked the clerk, surprised.
"He has robbed me."
"Did you leave your door unlocked?"
"No; but there was a door between our rooms. He opened it, and stole a
pocketbook from the pocket of my coat."
"While you were asleep?"
"Yes; but I awoke just in time to see him go through the door."
"How much money was there in it?"
"That's the joke of it," said Andy, laughing; "there was no money at
all, only some folds of paper. He got hold of the wrong pocketbook."
Thereupon, he told the story of the "drop game," of which he came near
being a victim, and what a useful turn the bogus treasure had done
"There's the right pocketbook," he said, in conclusion. "I wish you
would take care of it for me till to-morrow. The money isn't mine, and
I don't want to run any more risk with it."
"I'll lock it up in the safe for you," said the clerk. "Is there
"Several hundred dollars."
"You were very fortunate in escaping as you did," said the clerk.
"True for you," said Andy. "He may come back when he finds out how he
has been fooled."
"If he does, I'll call a policeman. We'll make short work with him."
The reader has already heard how Fairfax (or Marvin) did return, and
how he met with a reception he had not calculated upon. Andy was
informed in the morning that it would be necessary for him to appear
as a witness against him in order to secure his conviction. This he
did the next day, but the judge delayed sentence, on being informed
that the accused was charged with a more serious offense, that of
stopping a traveler on the highway. His trial on this count must come
before a higher court, and he was remanded to prison till his case was
called in the calendar. Andy was informed that he would be summoned as
a witness in that case also, as well as Colonel Preston, and answered
that he would be ready when called upon.
We will so far anticipate events as to say that the testimony of Andy
and the colonel was considered conclusive by the court, and, on the
strength of it, Mr. Fairfax, alias Marvin, was sentenced to several
years' imprisonment at hard labor.
Andy met with no further adventures in his present visit, but had the
satisfaction of delivering the money he had been sent to collect to
Miss Priscilla Grant.
Now, advancing our story some three months, we come to an afternoon
when Miss Sophia Grant, returning from a walk, with visible marks of
excitement, rushed, breathless and panting, into her sister's
"What's the matter, Sophia?" asked Priscilla.
"Such an awful thing!" she gasped.
"What is it?"
"You won't believe it."
"Tell me at once what it is!"
"It seems so sudden!"
"Good heavens! Sophia, why do you tantalize me so?"
"Just so!" gasped Sophia.
"If you don't tell me, I'll shake you!"
"Colonel Preston's dead--dropped dead in the store ten minutes ago. I
was there, and saw him."
This startling intelligence was only too true. Suddenly, without an
instant's warning, the colonel had been summoned from life--succumbing
to a fit of apoplexy. This event, of course, made a great sensation in
the village, but it is of most interest to us as it affects the
fortunes of our young hero.
COLONEL PRESTON'S WILL
Mrs. Preston was a cold woman, and was far from being a devoted wife.
She was too selfish for that supreme love which some women bestow upon
their husbands. Still, when Colonel Preston's lifeless form was
brought into the house, she did experience a violent shock. To have
the companion of nearly twenty years so unexpectedly taken away might
well touch the most callous, and so, for a few minutes, Mrs. Preston
forgot herself and thought of her husband.
But this was not for long. The thought of her own selfish interests
came back, and in the midst of her apparent grief the question forced
itself upon her consideration, "Did my husband make a will?"
Of course, she did not give utterance to this query. She knew what was
expected of her, and she was prudent enough to keep up appearances
before the neighbors, who poured into the house to offer their
sympathy. She received them with her cambric handkerchief pressed to
her eyes, from which, by dint of effort, she succeeded in squeezing a
few formal tears, and, while her bosom appeared to heave with emotion,
she was mentally calculating how much Colonel Preston had probably
"Shan't I stay with you, my dear Mrs. Preston?" said worthy Mrs.
Cameron, in a tone full of warm interest and sympathy.
"Thank you," said Mrs. Preston, in a low voice; "you are very kind,
but I would rather be left alone."
"But it must be so sad for you to be alone in your sorrow," said her
"No. I can bear sorrow better alone," said the newly made widow.
"Perhaps I am peculiar, but I would prefer it."
"If you really wish it," said the other, reluctantly.
"Yes, I wish it. Thank you for your kind offer, but I know my own
feelings, and the presence of others would only increase my pain."
This was what she said to others who made the same offer. It did not
excite great surprise, for Mrs. Preston had never leaned upon anyone
for sympathy, nor was she ready with her sympathy when others were in
trouble. She was self-poised and self-contained, and, in fact, for
this reason was not popular with her neighbors. Still, in this her
distress they were ready to forget all this and extend the same
cordial sympathy which they would have done in other cases. There was
but one person whose company she did crave at this time and this was
her son, Godfrey. So, when Alfred Turner offered to go for him the
next morning, she accepted his offer with thanks.
At last she was left alone. The servant had gone to bed, and there was
no one but herself and her dead husband in the lower part of the
house. She no longer sat with her handkerchief pressed before her
eyes. Her face wore its usual look of calm composure. She was busily
thinking, not of her husband's fate, but of her own future.
"Did he leave a will? And, if so, how much did he leave me?" she
If there was a will, it was probably in the house, and Mrs. Preston
determined to find it, if possible.
"Of course, all ought to come to me and Godfrey," she soliloquized. "I
don't think it is right to leave money to charitable institutions as
long as a wife and child are living. Fortunately, my husband had no
brothers or sisters, or perhaps he would have divided the property. If
there is no will, I shall have my thirds, and shall have the control
of Godfrey's property till he comes of age. I think I will go to
Boston to live. My friend, Mrs. Boynton, has a very pleasant house on
Worcester Street. I should like to settle down somewhere near her. I
don't know how much Mr. Preston was worth, but I am sure we shall have
enough for that. I always wanted to live in the city. This village is
intolerably stupid, and so are the people. I shall be glad to get
Could the good women, whose kind hearts had prompted them to proffer
their sympathy, have heard these words they would not have been likely
to obtrude any more on the hard, cold woman who held them in such low
Mrs. Preston took the lamp in her hand, and began to explore her
husband's desk. She had often thought of doing so, but, as his death
was not supposed to be so near, she had not thought that there was any
immediate cause of doing so. Besides, it had almost been her belief
that he had made no will. Now she began to open drawers and untie
parcels of papers, but it was some time before she came to what she
sought. At length, however, her diligence was rewarded. In the middle
of a pile of papers, she found one labeled on the outside:
Her heart beat as she opened it, and, though there was no need, for it
was now past ten o'clock, and there was not likely to be a caller at
that late hour, she looked cautiously about her, and even peered out
of the window into the darkness, but could find no one whose
observation she might fear.
I am not about to recite at length the items in the will, which
covered a page of foolscap. It is enough to quote two items, which
Mrs. Preston read with anger and dissatisfaction. They are as follows:
"Item.--To my young friend, Andy Burke, son of the widow
Burke, of this village, in consideration of a valuable
service rendered to me on one occasion, and as a mark of my
regard and interest, I give and bequeath the sum of five
thousand dollars; and to his mother, as a token of gratitude
for her faithful nursing when I was dangerously sick with the
smallpox, I give and bequeath, free of all incumbrance, the
cottage in which she at present resides.
"Item.--To the town I give five thousand dollars, the
interest to be annually appropriated to the purchase of books
for a public library, for the benefit of all the citizens,
provided the town will provide some suitable place in which
to keep them."
All the balance of the property was left to his wife and son, in equal
proportions, his wife to be the guardian of Godfrey till he should
have attained his majority. As Colonel Preston was well known to be
rich, this seemed to be an adequate provision, but Mrs. Preston did
not look upon it in that light. On the contrary, she was deeply
incensed at the two legacies of which mention has been made above.
"Was ever anything more absurd than to waste five thousand dollars and
a house upon that Irish boy and his mother?" she said to herself. "I
don't suppose it was so much my husband's fault. That artful woman got
around him, and wheedled him into it. I know now why she was so
willing to come here and take care of him when he was sick. She wanted
to wheedle him into leaving money to her low-lived boy. She is an
artful and designing hussy, and I should like to tell her so to her
The cold and usually impassible woman was deeply excited. Her selfish
nature made her grudge any of her husband's estate to others, except,
indeed, to Godfrey, who was the only person she cared for. As she
thought over the unjust disposition, as she regarded it, which her
husband had made of his property, a red spot glowed in her usually
Then it was another grievance that money should have been left to the
"What claim had the town on my husband," she thought, "that he should
give it five thousand dollars? In doing it, he was robbing Godfrey and
me. It was wrong. He had no right to do it. What do I care for these
people? They are a set of common farmers and mechanics, with whom I
condescend to associate because I have no one else here, except the
minister's and the doctor's family, to speak to. Soon I shall be in
the city, and then I don't care if I never set eyes on any of them
again. In Boston I can find suitable society."
The more Mrs. Preston thought of it, the more she felt aggravated by
the thought that so large a share of her husband's property was to go
to others. She fixed her eyes thoughtfully on the document which she
held in her hand, and a strong temptation came to her.
"If this should disappear," she said to herself, "the money would be
all mine and Godfrey's, and no one would be the wiser. That Irish boy
and his mother would stay where they belonged, and my Godfrey would
have his own. Why should I not burn it? It would only be just."
Deluding herself by this false view, she persuaded herself that it was
right to suppress the will. With steady hand she held it to the flame
of the lamp, and watched it as it was slowly consumed. Then, gathering
up the fragments, she threw them away.
"It is all ours now," she whispered, triumphantly, as she prepared to
go to bed. "It was lucky I found the will."
MRS. PRESTON'S INTENTIONS
Godfrey returned home on the day after his father's death. He had
never witnessed death before, and it frightened him, for the time,
into propriety. He exhibited none of the stormy and impetuous grief
which a warm-hearted and affectionate boy would have been likely to
exhibit. It was not in his nature.
When he and his mother were left alone, he showed his resemblance to
her, by asking:
"Do you know how much property father left?"
"I don't know. He never told me about his affairs as he ought. I think
he must have left near a hundred thousand dollars."
Godfrey's eyes sparkled.
"That's a pile of money," he said. "It goes to me, don't it?"
"To us," said Mrs. Preston.
"A woman doesn't need so much money as a man," said Godfrey,
"You are not a man yet," said his mother, dryly. "Your father may have
left a will. In that case, he may have left a part of his property to
"Do you think he has?" inquired Godfrey, in alarm.
"I don't think any will will be found," said his mother, quietly. "He
never spoke to me of making one."
"Of course not. That wouldn't be fair, would it?"
"It is fitting that the property should all go to us."
"When shall I get mine?"
"When you are twenty-one."
"That's a long time to wait," said Godfrey, grumblingly.
"You are only a boy yet. I shall probably be your guardian."
"I hope you'll give me a larger allowance than father did."
"Must I go back to boarding school? I don't want to."
"If I go to Boston to live, as I think I shall, I will take you with
me, and you can go to school there."
"That'll be jolly," said Godfrey, his eyes sparkling with
anticipation. "I've got tired of this miserable town."
"So have I," said his mother. "We shall have more privileges in
"I can go to the theater as often as I please there, can't I?"
"We will see about that."
"How soon shall we move to the city?"
"As soon as business will allow. I must settle up your father's
"Can't I go beforehand?"
"Would you leave me alone?" asked his mother, with a little touch of
wounded affection, for she did feel attached to her son. He was the
only one, indeed, for whom she felt any affection.
"You won't miss me, mother. It'll be awfully stupid here, and you know
you'll be coming to the city as soon as you get through with the
Mrs. Preston was disappointed, but she should not have been surprised.
Her only son reflected her own selfishness.
"It would not look well for you to go to the theater just at the
present," she said.
"So soon after your father's death."
Godfrey said nothing, but looked discontented. It was early to think
of amusement, while his father lay yet unburied in the next room. He
left the room, whistling. He could not gainsay his mother's
objections, but he thought it hard luck.
A funeral in a country village is a public occasion. Friends and
neighbors are expected to be present without invitation. Among those
who assembled at the house were Mrs. Burke and Andy. They felt truly
sorry for the death of Colonel Preston, who had been a friend to both.
Mrs. Preston saw them enter, and, notwithstanding the solemnity of the
occasion, the thought intruded: "They're after the legacy, but they
will be disappointed. I've taken good care of that."
Godfrey saw them, also, and his thought was a characteristic one:
"What business has that Irish boy at my father's funeral? He ought to
know better than to poke himself in where he is not wanted."
Even Godfrey, however, had the decency to let this thought remain
unspoken. The services proceeded, and among those who followed on foot
in the funeral procession were Andy and his mother. It never occurred
to them that they were intruding. They wanted to show respect for the
memory of one who had been a friend to them.
On the day after the funeral Squire Tisdale called at the house,
invited by Mrs. Preston. The squire had a smattering of law, and often
acted as executor in settling estates.
"I invited you to come here, Squire Tisdale," said Mrs. Preston, "to
speak about my affairs. Of course, it is very trying to me to think of
business so soon after the death of my dear husband"--here she
pressed her handkerchief to her tearless eyes--"but I feel it to be my
duty to myself and my boy."
"Of course," said the squire, soothingly. "We can't give way to our
feelings, however much we want to."
"That is my feeling," said Mrs. Preston, whose manner was wonderfully
cool and collected, considering the grief which she desired to have it
thought she experienced for her husband.
"Did Colonel Preston leave a will?" asked the squire.
"I don't think he did. He never mentioned making one to me. Did you
ever hear of his making any?"
"I can't say that I ever did. I suppose it will be best to search."
"Won't it be more proper for you to make the search, Squire Tisdale?"
said the widow. "I am an interested party."
"Suppose we search together. You can tell me where your husband kept
his private papers."
"Certainly. He kept them in his desk. I locked it as soon as he died;
but here is the key. If there is a will, it is probably there."
"Very probably. We shall soon ascertain, then."
Squire Tisdale took the key, and Mrs. Preston led the way to her late
husband's desk. A momentary fear seized her.
"What if there was an earlier will, or two copies of the last?" she
thought. "I ought to have made sure by looking over the other papers."
But it was too late now. Besides, it seemed very improbable that there
should be another will. Had there been an earlier one, it would,
doubtless, have been destroyed on the drafting of the one she had
found. She reassured herself, therefore, and awaited with tranquillity
the result of the search.
The search was careful and thorough. Mrs. Preston desired that it
should be so. Knowing the wrong she had done to Andy and his mother,
as well as the town, she was unnecessarily anxious to appear perfectly
fair, and assured Squire Tisdale that, had there been a will, its
provisions should have been carried out to the letter.
"There is no will here," said the squire, after a careful search.
"I did not expect you would find one," said the widow; "but it was
necessary to make sure."
"Is there any other place where your husband kept papers?"
"We will look in the drawers and trunks," said Mrs. Preston; "but I
don't think any will be found."
None was found.
"Can I do anything more for you, Mrs. Preston?" asked the squire.
"I should like your advice, Squire Tisdale. I am not used to business,
and I would like the aid of your experience."
"Willingly," said the squire, who felt flattered.
"As my husband left no will, I suppose the estate goes to my son and
"How ought I to proceed?"
"You should apply for letters of administration, which will enable you
to settle up the property."
"Will you help me to take the necessary steps?"
"I should like to settle the estate as rapidly as possible, as I
intend to remove to Boston."
"Indeed? We shall be sorry to lose you. Can you not content yourself
"Everything will remind me of my poor husband," said Mrs. Preston,
with another application of the handkerchief to her still tearless
Squire Tisdale was impressed with the idea that she had more feeling
than he had thought.
"I didn't think of that," he said, sympathetically. "No doubt you are
Mrs. Preston lost no time in applying for letters of administration.
"As soon as I get them," she said to herself, "I will lose no time in
ejecting that Irishwoman from the house my husband bought for her.
I'll make her pay rent, too, for the time she has been in it."
MRS. PRESTON'S REVENGE
Andy Burke was passing the house of Mrs. Preston, within a month after
Colonel Preston's death, when Godfrey, who had not gone back to
boarding school, showed himself at the front door.
"Come here!" said Godfrey, in an imperious tone.
Andy turned his head, and paused.
"Who are you talking to?" he asked.
"To you, to be sure."
"My mother wants to see you."
"All right; I'll come in."
"You can go around to the back door," said Godfrey, who seemed to find
pleasure in making himself disagreeable.
"I know I can, but I don't mean to," said Andy, walking up to the
front entrance, where Godfrey was standing.
"The back door is good enough for you," said the other, offensively.
"I shouldn't mind going to it if you hadn't asked me," said Andy.
"Just move away, will you?"
Godfrey did not stir.
"Very well," said Andy, turning; "tell your mother you would not let
"Come in, if you want to," said Godfrey, at length, moving aside.
"I don't care much about it. I only came to oblige your mother."
"Maybe you won't like what she has to say," said Godfrey, with a
"I'll soon know," said Andy.
He entered the house, and Godfrey called upstairs: "Mother, the Burke
boy is here."
"I'll be down directly," was the answer. "He can sit down."
Andy sat down on a chair in the hall, not receiving an invitation to
enter the sitting-room, and waited for Mrs. Preston to appear. He
wondered a little what she wanted with him, but thought it likely that
she had some errand or service in which she wished to employ him. He
did not know the extent of her dislike for him and his mother.
After a while Mrs. Preston came downstairs. She was dressed in black,
but showed no other mark of sorrow for the loss of her husband.
Indeed, she was looking in better health than usual.
"You can come into the sitting-room," she said, coldly.
Andy followed her, and so did Godfrey, who felt a malicious pleasure
in hearing what he knew beforehand his mother intended to say.
"I believe your name is Andrew?" she commenced.
"Your mother occupies a house belonging to my late husband."
"Yes, ma'am," answered Andy, who now began to guess at the object of
"I find, by examining my husband's papers, that she has paid no rent
for the last six months."
"That's true," said Andy. "She offered to pay it, but Colonel Preston
told her he didn't want no rent from her. He said she could have it
"That's a likely story," said Godfrey, with a sneer.
"It's a true story," said Andy, in a firm voice, steadily eying his
"This may be true, or it may not be true," said Mrs. Preston, coldly.
"If true, I suppose my husband gave your mother a paper of some kind,
agreeing to let her have the house rent-free."
"She hasn't got any paper," said Andy.
"I thought not," said Godfrey, sneering. "You forgot to write her
"Be quiet, Godfrey," said his mother. "I prefer to manage this matter
myself. Then, your mother has no paper to show in proof of what you
"No, ma'am. The colonel didn't think it was necessary. He just told my
mother, when she first came with the rent, that she needn't trouble
herself to come again on that errand. He said that she had nursed him
when he was sick with the smallpox, and he'd never forget it, and that
he'd bought the house expressly for her."
"I am aware that your mother nursed my husband in his sickness," said
Mrs. Preston, coldly. "I also know that my husband paid her very
handsomely for her services."
"That's true, ma'am," said Andy. "He was a fine, generous man, the
colonel was, and I'll always say it."
"There really seems no reason why, in addition to this compensation,
your mother should receive a present of her rent. How much rent did
she pay before my husband bought the house?"
"Fifteen dollars a quarter."
"Then she has not paid rent for six months. I find she owes my
husband's estate thirty dollars."
"Colonel Preston told her she wasn't to pay it."
"How do I know that?"
"My mother says it, and she wouldn't tell a lie," said Andy,
"I have nothing to say as to that," said Mrs. Preston. "I am now
managing the estate, and the question rests with me. I decide that
your mother has been sufficiently paid for her services, and I shall
claim rent for the last six months."
Andy was silent for a moment. Then he spoke:
"It may be so, Mrs. Preston. I'll speak to the doctor, and I'll do as
"I don't know what the doctor has to do with the matter," said Mrs.
"He wants to get an excuse for not paying," said Godfrey, with a
"Mind your business," said Andy, excusably provoked.
"Do you hear that, mother?" said Godfrey. "Are you going to let that
beggar insult me before your very face?"
"You have spoken very improperly to my son," said Mrs. Preston.
"He spoke very improperly to me at first," said Andy, sturdily.
"You do not appear to understand the respect due to me," said Mrs.
Preston, with emphasis.
"If I've treated you disrespectfully, I'm sorry," said Andy; "but
Godfrey mustn't insult me, and call me names."
"We have had enough of this," said Mrs. Preston. "I have only to
repeat that your mother is indebted to me for six months' rent--thirty
dollars--which I desire she will pay as soon as possible. One thing
more: I must request her to find another home, as I have other plans
for the house she occupies."
"You're not goin' to turn her out of her house, sure?" said Andy, in
"It is not her house," said Mrs. Preston; though it occurred to her
that it might have been, if she had not suppressed the will. But, of
course, Andy knew nothing of this, nor did he suspect anything, since
neither he nor his mother had the faintest idea of being remembered in
Colonel Preston's will, kind though he had been to them both in his
"I know it isn't," said Andy; "but she's got used to it. I don't know
any other place we can get."
"That is your lookout," said Mrs. Preston. "I have no doubt you can
get in somewhere. As I said, the house is mine, and I have other views
"Can't we stay till the end of the quarter, ma'am?"
"No; I wish to finish my business here as soon as possible, and then
shall go to Boston."
"How long can we stay, then?"
"Till the first of the month."
"That's only three days."
"It is long enough to find another place. That is all I have to say,"
and Mrs. Preston turned to go.
Andy rose, and followed her, without a word. He saw that it would be
of no use to appeal for more time. Her tone was so firm and determined
that there evidently was no moving her.
"What will we do?" thought Andy, as he walked slowly and silently
along the road.
He felt the need of consulting somebody older and more experienced
than himself. Just in the nick of time he met Dr. Townley, in whose
friendship he felt confidence.
"Can you stop a minute, Dr. Townley?" he said. "I want to speak to you
"I can spare two minutes, if you like, Andy," said the doctor,
Andy explained the case.
"It is quite true," said the doctor. "Colonel Preston intended your
mother to pay no rent--he told me so himself; but, as your mother has
no written proof, I suppose you will have to pay it. Shall I lend you
"No need, doctor. We've got money enough for that. But we must move
out in three days. Where shall we go?"
"I'll tell you. I own the small house occupied by Grant Melton. He
sets out for the West to-morrow, with his family. I'll let it to your
mother for the same rent she's been paying."
"Thank you," said Andy, gratefully. "It's better than the house we've
been living in. It's a good change."
"Perhaps you won't like me for a landlord so well as Mrs. Preston,"
said the doctor, smiling.
"I'll risk it," said Andy.
Two days afterward the transfer was made. Mrs. Preston was
disappointed, and Godfrey still more so, to find their malice had done
the widow Burke no harm.
By advice of the doctor, Andy deferred paying the thirty dollars
claimed as rent, availing himself of the twelve months allowed for the
payment of debts due the estate of one deceased.
"If it was anybody else, I'd pay at once," said Andy; "but Mrs.
Preston has treated us so meanly that I don't mean to hurry."
The delay made Mrs. Preston angry, but she was advised that it was
ANDY LOSES HIS PLACE
Andy and his mother moved into Dr. Townley's cottage. It was rather an
improvement upon the house in which they had lived hitherto, but,
then, there was this great difference: For the one they had no rent to
pay, but for the other they paid fifty dollars rent. Dr. Townley would
gladly have charged nothing, but he was a comparatively poor man, and
could not afford to be as generous as his heart would have dictated.
He had a fair income, being skillful and in good practice, but he had
a son in college, and his expenses were a considerable drain upon his
father's purse. Still, with the money saved, and Andy's weekly
earnings, the Burkes were able to live very comfortably and still pay
the rent. But a real misfortune was in store for Andy.
Miss Sophia Grant was taken sick with lung fever. The sickness lasted
for some weeks, and left her considerably debilitated.
"What do you think of Sophia, Dr. Townley?" asked Priscilla,
anxiously. "She remains weak, and she has a bad cough. I am feeling
alarmed about her."
"I'll tell you what I think, Miss Priscilla," said the doctor, "though
I am sorry to do it. The fact is, the air here is altogether too
bracing for your sister. She will have to go to some inland town,
where the east winds are not felt."
"Then I must go, too," said Miss Priscilla. "We have lived together
from girlhood, and we cannot be separated."
"I supposed you would be unwilling to leave her, so I am afraid we
must make up our minds to lose you both."
"Do you think, doctor, that Sophia will, by and by, be strong enough
to return here?"
"I am afraid not. The effects of lung fever are always felt for a long
time. She will improve, no doubt, but a return to this harsh air
would, I fear, bring back her old trouble."
"I asked because I wanted to know whether it would be best to keep
this place. After what you have told me, I shall try to sell it."
"I am truly sorry, Miss Priscilla."
"So am I, Dr. Townley. I don't expect any place will seem so much like
home as this."
"Have you any particular place that you think of going to?"
"Yes; I have a niece married in a small town near Syracuse, New York
State. They don't have east winds there. I'll get Priscilla (she's
named after me) to hunt up a cottage that we can live in, and move
right out there. I suppose we'd better go soon?"
"Better go at once. Weak lungs must be humored."
"Then I'll write to Priscilla to get me a boarding house, and we'll
start next week."
There was one person whom this removal was likely to affect seriously,
and this was our young hero.
"I hope Andy'll be able to get a place," said Priscilla, after she had
communicated the doctor's orders to her sister.
"Just so, Priscilla. He's a good boy."
"I will give him a good recommendation."
"Just so. Does he know it?"
"No. I will call him in and tell him, so that he can be looking out
for another position."
Andy answered the call of Miss Priscilla. He had been sawing wood, and
there was sawdust in his sleeves.
"How long have you been with us, Andy?" asked his mistress.
"Over a year, ma'am."
"I wish I could keep you for a year to come."
"Can't you?" asked Andy, startled.
"What's the matter, Miss Priscilla? Have I done anything wrong?"
"No, Andy. We are both of us quite satisfied with you."
"You haven't lost any money, ma'am, have you? I'll work for less, if
you can't afford to pay as much as you've been paying."
"Thank you, Andy, but it isn't that. My sister's lungs are weak, and
Dr. Townley has ordered her to move to a less exposed place. We are
going to move away from the town."
"I'm sorry," said Andy, and he was, for other reasons than because he
was about to lose a good place.
"We shall miss you, Andy."
"Just so," chimed in Miss Sophia, with a cough.
"You see how weak my sister's lungs are. It's on her account we are
"Shan't you come back again, ma'am?"
"No, Andy. The doctor says it will never be safe for us to do so. I
hope you will get a good place."
"I hope so, ma'am; but you needn't think of that."
"We are prepared to give you a good recommendation. We feel perfectly
satisfied with you in every way."
"Just so," said Sophia.
"Thank you, ma'am, and you, too, Miss Sophia. I've tried to do my duty
faithfully by you."
"And you have, Andy."
"How soon do you go, ma'am?"
"Next week, if we can get away. The doctor says we can't get away too
soon. So you had better be looking around, to see if you can get a
"I will, ma'am; but I'll stay with you till the last day. You'll need
me to pack up for you."
"Yes, we shall. To-morrow I'll write you the recommendation."
"Thank you, ma'am."
Andy did not sleep as much as usual that night. His wages were the
main support of his mother and sister, and he could think of no other
place in the village where he was likely to be employed. He had a
little money saved up, but he didn't like the idea of spending it.
Besides, it would not last long.
"I wish Dr. Townley wanted a boy," thought Andy. "I'd rather work for
the doctor than for anybody else in the village. He's a nice man, and
he cares just as much for poor folks as he does for rich folks. I am
sure he likes me better than he does Godfrey Preston."
But Dr. Townley already had a boy, whom he did not like to turn off.
Nor could he have afforded to pay Andy as high wages as he had
received from the Misses Grant. There really seemed to be no vacant
place in the village for our young hero to fill, and, of course, this
Next week the Misses Grant got away from the village. They gave Andy
as a present an old-fashioned silver watch, about the size and shape
of a turnip. Andy was glad to get it, old-fashioned as it was, and he
thanked them warmly.
The day afterward he was walking slowly along the village street, when
he came upon Godfrey Preston strutting along, with an air of
importance. He and his mother had removed to Boston, but they were
visiting the town on a little business.
"Hello, there!" said Godfrey, halting.
"Hello!" said Andy.
"You've lost your place, haven't you?" asked Godfrey, with a sneer.
"How are you going to live?"
"By eating, I expect," answered Andy, shortly.
"If you can get anything to eat, you mean?"
"We got enough so far."
"Perhaps you won't have, long. You may have to go to the poorhouse."
"When I do, I shall find you there."
"What do you mean?" demanded Godfrey, angrily.
"I mean I shan't go there till you do."
"You're proud for a beggar."
"I'm more of a gentleman than you are."
"I'd thrash you, only I won't demean myself by doing it."
"That's lucky, or you might get thrashed yourself."
"You're only an Irish boy."
"I'm proud of that same. You won't find me go back on my country."
Godfrey walked away. Somehow, he could never get the better of Andy.
"I hope I'll see you begging in rags, some day," he thought to
But boys like Andy are not often reduced to such a point.
THE WILL AT LAST
The next three months passed very unsatisfactorily for Andy. In a
small country town like that in which he lived there was little
opportunity for a boy, however industrious, to earn money. The farmers
generally had sons of their own, or were already provided with
assistants, and there was no manufacturing establishment in the
village to furnish employment to those who didn't like agriculture.
Andy had some idea of learning the carpenter trade, there being a
carpenter who was willing to take an apprentice, but, unfortunately,
he was unwilling to pay any wages for the first year--only boarding
the apprentice--and our hero felt, for his mother's sake, that it
would not do to make such an engagement.
When the three months were over, the stock of money which Andy and his
mother had saved up was almost gone. In fact, he had not enough left
to pay the next quarter's rent to Dr. Townley.
Things were in this unsatisfactory state, when something happened that
had a material effect upon Andy's fortunes, and, as my readers will be
glad to know, for their improvement.
To explain what it was, I must go back to a period shortly before
Colonel's Preston's death. One day he met the doctor in the street,
and stopped to speak to him.
"Dr. Townley," he said, "I have a favor to ask of you."
"I shall be very glad to serve you, Colonel Preston," said the doctor.
Thereupon Colonel Preston drew from his inside pocket a sealed
envelope of large size.
"I want you to take charge of this for me," he said.
"Certainly," said the doctor, in some surprise.
"Please read what I have written upon the envelope."
The doctor, his attention called to the envelope, read, inscribed in
large, distinct characters:
"Not to be opened till six months after my death."
"I see you want an explanation," said the colonel. "Here it is--the
paper contained in this envelope is an important one. I won't tell you
what it is. When you come to open it, it will explain itself."
"But, colonel, you are likely to live as long as I. In that case, I
can't follow your directions."
"Of course, we can't tell the duration of our lives. Still, I think
you will outlive me. If not, I shall reclaim the paper. Meanwhile, I
shall be glad to have you take charge of it for me."
"Of course I will. It is a slight favor to ask."
"It may prove important. By the way, there is no need of telling
anyone, unless, perchance, your wife. I don't want to force you to
keep anything secret from her. Mrs. Townley, I know, may be depended
"I think she may. Well, Colonel Preston, set your mind at rest. I will
take care of the paper."
When Colonel Preston died, not long afterward, the doctor naturally
thought of the paper, and, as no will was left, it occurred to him
that this might be a will; but, in that case, he couldn't understand
why he should have been enjoined to keep it six months before opening
it. On the whole, he concluded that it was not a will.
Seated at the supper table, about this time, Mrs. Townley said,
"Henry, how long is it since Colonel Preston died?"
"Let me see," said the doctor, thoughtfully. "It is--yes, it is six
"Then it is time for you to open that envelope he gave into your
"So it is. My dear, your feminine curiosity inspired that thought,"
said the doctor, smiling.
"Perhaps you are right. I own I am a little inquisitive in the
"I am glad you mentioned it. I have so much on my mind that I should
have let the day pass, and I should be sorry not to fulfill to the
letter the promise I made to my friend."
"Have you any suspicion as to the nature of the document?"
"I thought it might be a will; but, if so, I can't understand why a
delay of six months should have been interposed."
"Colonel Preston may have had his reasons. Possibly he did not fully
trust his wife's attention to his requests."
"It may be so. I am afraid his married life was not altogether
harmonious. Mrs. Preston always struck me as a very selfish woman."
"No doubt of that."
"She evidently regarded herself as superior to the rest of us."
"In that respect Godfrey is like her. He is a self-conceited,
disagreeable young jackanapes. I wouldn't give much for his chances of
honorable distinction in life. I'll tell you of a boy who will, in my
opinion, beat him in the race of life."
"Who is that?"
"Andy is a good boy, but I am afraid the family is doing poorly now."
"So I fear. The, fact is, there doesn't appear to be much opening for
a lad like Andy in this village."
"I hear that Mr. Graves, the storekeeper, who is getting old, wants to
get a boy, or young man, with a small capital to take an interest in
his business, and, eventually, succeed him."
"That would be a good chance for Andy, if he had the small capital;
but he probably hasn't ten dollars in the world."
"That's a pity."
"If I were a capitalist, I wouldn't mind starting him myself; but as
you, my dear, are my most precious property, and are not readily
convertible into cash, I don't quite see my way to do anything to
"I didn't think of you, Henry. Country doctors are not likely to get
rich. But I thought Colonel Preston, who seemed to take an interest in
the boy, might do something for him."
"If he had lived, he might have done so--probably he would. But Mrs.
Preston and Godfrey hate the Burkes like poison, for no good reason
that I know of, and there is no chance of help from that quarter."
"I should think not."
The next day, Dr. Townley, immediately after breakfast, drew the
envelope already referred to from among his private papers, and,
breaking the seal, opened it.
To his surprise and excitement, he discovered that the inclosure was
the last will and testament of his deceased friend. Accompanying it
was the following note:
"MY DEAR FRIEND, DR. TOWNLEY: This is the duplicate of a will
executed recently, and expresses my well-considered wishes as
to the disposition of my property. The original will may have
been found and executed before you open this envelope. In
that case, of course, this will be of no value, and you can
destroy it. But I am aware that valuable papers are liable to
loss or injury, and, therefore, I deem it prudent to place
this duplicate in your possession, that, if the other be
lost, you may see it carried into execution. I have named you
my executor, and am sure, out of regard to me, you will
accept the trust, and fulfill it to the best of your ability.
I have always felt the utmost confidence in your friendship,
and this will account for my troubling you on the present
From this letter Dr. Townley turned to the perusal of the will. The
contents filled him with equal surprise and pleasure.
"Five thousand dollars to Andy Burke!" he repeated. "That is capital!
It will start the boy in life, and with his good habits it will make
him sure of a competence by and by. With half of it he can buy an
interest in Graves' store, and the balance will, if well invested,
give him a handsome addition to his income. Then there's the bequest
for the town library--a capital idea, that! It will do a great deal to
make the town attractive, and be a powerful agency for refining and
educating the people."
Just then Mrs. Townley, who knew what her husband was about, came into
"Well, Henry," she said, "is the paper important?"
"I should say it was. It is Colonel Preston's last will and
"Is it possible? How does he leave his property?"
"He leaves five thousand dollars for a town library."
"Does he remember Andy Burke?"
"He leaves him five thousand dollars, and gives his mother the house
they used to live in."
"That's splendid! But what will Mrs. Preston say?"
"Well, that remains to be seen," said the doctor, laughing.
MRS. PRESTON IS UNPLEASANTLY SURPRISED
Dr. Townley thought it best to consult with the town authorities as to
the course to be pursued, since, as it appeared, the town was
interested in the will. It was decided that the doctor and Mr. Graves,
who was the Chairman of the Selectmen, should go to Boston the next
day and inform Mrs. Preston of the discovery of the will. Until after
this interview it was deemed best not to mention the matter to Andy or
Mrs. Preston was established in a showy house at the South End. At
last she was living as she desired to do. She went to the theater and
the opera, and was thinking whether she could afford to set up a
carriage. Godfrey she had placed at a private school, and was anxious
to have him prepare for admission to Harvard College, but in this hope
she seemed destined to be disappointed. Godfrey wanted to see life and
enjoy himself, and had no intention of submitting to the drudgery of
"Godfrey," said his mother one morning, "I have received a letter from
your teacher, complaining that you don't work."
"I'm not going to work myself to death," answered Godfrey.
"I don't expect you to hurt yourself with work, but I want you to go
"Oh, well, I'll get in somehow."
"Don't you want to stand well as a scholar?" she asked.
"I leave that to the poor fellows that have got to work for a living.
I am rich."
"You may lose your money."
"I don't mean to."
"Suppose you do?"
"Then I will go to work."
"I should like to have you graduate well at college and then study
law. You might get into Congress," said his mother.
"I guess I'll know enough for that," said Godfrey, carelessly. "I want
to have a good time."
That was not the worst of it, however. He extorted from his mother a
large allowance, which he spent at bars and billiard saloons, and one
day was brought home drunk by a schoolfellow.
"Oh, Godfrey, how can you do so?" exclaimed the selfish woman, for
once fairly alarmed on another's account.
"Hush up, old woman!" hiccoughed Godfrey.
Mrs. Preston was mortified to think this should be said to her before
"He does not know what he is saying," she said, apologetically.
"Yes, I do," persisted Godfrey. "I'm a--a gen'leman's son. I don't
want you to interfere with gen'leman's son."
He was put to bed, and awoke the next morning with a splitting
headache. It was the morning of the day which the doctor and Mr.
Graves had chosen to call on Mrs. Preston. She was preparing to go
out, when a servant came upstairs to announce that two gentlemen were
in the parlor, and wanted to see her.
"Two gentlemen! What do they look like, Nancy?"
"One of 'em looks like he was from the country, mum."
This referred to Mr. Graves, who did have a rustic look. The doctor
would readily have passed for a Bostonian.
"Did they give their names?"
"I will go down directly. I suppose they won't stay long."
Mrs. Preston sailed into the parlor with the air of a city lady, as
she proudly imagined, but stopped short in some surprise when she
recognized her visitors. Of course, she did not suspect the nature of
Dr. Townley arose as she entered.
"Good-morning, Mrs. Preston," he said. "I hope I find you well?"
"I am quite well," said Mrs. Preston, coldly, for she had never liked
the doctor. She had an unpleasant feeling that he understood her, and
was not among her admirers. "Good-morning, Mr. Graves. You come to the
"I don't often get time to come up, but the doctor thought I ought to
"Indeed! I am sorry to say that I am just going out."
"I must ask you to defer going till we have communicated our
business," said the doctor.
"Business?" repeated Mrs. Preston, seating herself in some surprise.
"Yes--business of importance. In short, your husband's will has come
"My husband's will!" exclaimed Mrs. Preston. "I thought----"
She checked herself suddenly. She was about to say, "I thought I had
destroyed it," and that would have let the cat out of the bag with a
"You thought that he left no will," said the doctor, finishing the
sentence for her. "He really left two----"
"That's it--he executed two--exactly alike. One he left in my hands."
"That is a likely story!" said Mrs. Preston, excitedly. "If that is
the case, why, I ask, have we heard nothing of this before?"
"Because it was contained in an envelope, which I was requested not to
open for six months after his decease. The time having expired----"
"May I ask what are the provisions of this pretended will?" demanded
Mrs. Preston, in visible excitement.
"Mrs. Preston," said the doctor, with dignity, "you appear to forget
that you are addressing a gentleman. I am above fabricating a will, as
you seem to insinuate. As to the provisions, it leaves five thousand
dollars to the town for the establishment of a public library, and
five thousand dollars to Andy Burke, besides the small house in which
she used to live to the widow Burke."
The worst had come. In spite of her criminal act, she must lose the
ten thousand dollars; and, worst of all, those whom she hated and
despised were to profit by her loss.
"This is simply outrageous, Dr. Townley," she said.
"You are speaking of your husband's will, Mrs. Preston."
"I don't believe he made it."
"There can be no doubt of it. Mr. Graves has examined it, and he and
myself are so familiar with the handwriting of your husband that we
have no hesitation in pronouncing the will genuine."
"Colonel Preston must have been insane if he really made such a will."
"I was his medical adviser," said Dr. Townley, quietly, "and I never
detected the least sign of an unsound mind."
"The fact of robbing his wife and child to enrich an Irishwoman and
her son is proof enough of his insanity."
"Pardon me, madam, but such bequests are made every day. Outside of
their legacies your husband left ample fortune, and there is no danger
of your being impoverished."
"Did you bring the will with you?"
"No. I did not feel like incurring the risk."
"I shall contest the will," said Mrs. Preston, passionately.
"I would not advise you to. The proof of its genuineness is
overwhelming. I suppose you never saw the other will?"
Mrs. Preston, at this unexpected question, in spite of her strong
nerves, turned pale, and faltered:
"Of course not," she said, after a slight pause.
"Your husband asserts positively in a note to me that he made one,"
said the doctor, bending his eyes searchingly upon her, for he
suspected the truth, and that it was distrust of his wife that led
Colonel Preston to take the precaution he had done. "Its disappearance
"What do you mean?" cried Mrs. Preston, sharply, and not altogether
"I meant only to express my surprise."
"If your business is over, I will go out."
"I have only this to say, that, being named in the will as executor, I
shall take immediate measures to have the will admitted to probate.
Should you make up your mind to contest it, you can give me due notice
through your legal adviser. In that case," he added, significantly,
"the question of the disappearance of the other will will come up."
"I will consult my lawyer," said Mrs. Preston.
Though she said this, her determination was already made. "Conscience
makes cowards of us all," and the doctor's last hint alarmed her so
much that she decided to make no opposition to the setting up of the
will. But it was a bitter pill to swallow.
"Graves," said Dr. Townley, as he left the house, "that woman
destroyed the other will."
"Do you think so?" asked Mr. Graves, startled.
"I feel sure of it. Let me predict also that she will not contest this
will. She is afraid to."
And the doctor was right.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Andy was quite unconscious of the good fortune which had come to him.
Though a manly and stout-hearted boy, he was, in fact, getting
discouraged. He was willing and anxious to work, but there seemed to
be no work for him to do. He would have left home some time since to
try his fortune elsewhere, but for the entreaties of his mother, who
didn't like to lose him.
In the morning after Dr. Townley's visit to Boston, our hero knocked
at the doctor's front door.
"Is Dr. Townley at home?" he asked.
"Yes, Andy," said the doctor, who overheard the inquiry. "Come right
in. You're just the boy I want to see."
Andy entered, twirling his hat awkwardly in his hand.
"Good-morning, Andy," said the doctor, cordially. "Take a seat."
"Thank you, sir," said Andy, but did not sit down.
"What is the matter? You are looking rather blue this morning."
"Faith, doctor, and that's the way I feel entirely."
"You're not sick, are you? Let me feel your pulse."
"No, I'm not sick, but it's discouraged I am."
"Why should a stout boy in good health be discouraged?"
"I can't get any work to do, and I'm afraid we'll all starve."
"It strikes me," said the doctor, fixing his eyes on Andy, enjoying
the effect of his intended announcement, "that I wouldn't talk of
starving, if I were as rich as you are, Andy."
"As rich as me?" echoed Andy. "Shure, doctor, you're jokin'."
"Not at all."
"Why, I haven't got but seventy-five cents in the world."
"Now it's you that are joking, Andy."
"I wish I was," sighed Andy.
"Why, I had it on good authority that you were worth five thousand
Andy stared in earnest.
"I see you're laughin' at me, doctor," he said, suspecting that Dr.
Townley was making game of him.
"No, I am not. I am in earnest."
"Who told you such a big falsehood as that, now?" asked our hero,
"Perhaps I dreamed that somebody told me Colonel Preston had left you
five thousand dollars in his will."
"Are you jokin'? Is it true?" asked Andy, eagerly, something in the
doctor's face telling him that he really meant what he said.
"Maybe I dreamed, too, that the colonel left your mother the house she
used to live in."
"Is it true, doctor? Tell me, quick!" said Andy, trembling with
"Yes, my boy, it's all true, and I'm glad to be the first to
congratulate you on your good fortune."
He held out his hand, which our hero seized, and then, unable to
repress his exultation, threw up his cap to the ceiling and indulged
in an extempore dance, the doctor meanwhile looking on with benevolent
"Excuse me, doctor; I couldn't help it," he panted.
"It's all right, Andy. Are you discouraged now?"
"Divil a bit, doctor. It's wild I am with joy."
"And you don't think of starving yet, eh, Andy?"
"I'll wait a bit. But why didn't I know before?"
"Sit down, and I'll tell you all about it."
So Andy heard the account, which need not be repeated.
"Now," continued the doctor, "I'll tell you what plan I have for you.
Mr. Graves wants to take a boy into his store who will buy an interest
in the business and become his partner. He thinks well of you, and is
willing to take you. What do you say?"
"I'll do whatever you think best, doctor."
"Then I think this is a good opening for you. Mr. Graves wants to
retire from business before long. Probably by the time you are
twenty-one he will leave everything in your hands. You will be paid
weekly wages and perhaps be entitled to a portion of the profits--more
than enough to support you all comfortably. What do you say? Shall we
have a new firm in the village?
"GRAVES & BURKE."
Andy's eyes sparkled with proud anticipation. It was so far above any
dream he had ever formed.
"It's what I'd like above all things," he said. "Oh, what will mother
say? I must go and tell her."
"Go, by all means, Andy, and when you have told her, come back, and
I'll go over with you to Mr. Graves' store, and we'll talk over the
arrangements with him."
Mrs. Burke's delight at her own success and that of Andy may be
imagined. She, too, had been getting despondent, and it seemed almost
like a fairy tale to find herself the owner of a house, and her boy
likely to be taken into partnership with the principal trader in the
village. She invoked blessings on the memory of Colonel Preston,
through whose large-hearted generosity this had come to pass, but
could not help speculating on what Mrs. Preston would say. She
understood very well that she would be very angry.
Mrs. Preston did not dispute the will. She might have done so, but for
her fear that her own criminal act would be brought to light. Godfrey,
who was even more disturbed than she was at the success of "that low
Irish boy," begged her to do it, but in this case she did not yield to
his entreaties. She had never dared to take him into confidence
respecting her destruction of the other will.
While we are upon this subject, we may as well trace out the future
career of Mrs. Preston. Some years later she was induced, by the
expectation of aiding her social standing, to marry an adventurer who
appeared to be doing a flourishing business as a State Street broker.
By spurious representations, he managed to get hold of her property,
and to be appointed Godfrey's guardian. The result may be foreseen. He
managed to spend or waste the whole and when Godfrey was twenty-one,
he and his mother were penniless. Andy, who was now sole
representative of the firm of Graves & Burke, and in receipt of an
excellent income, heard of the misfortunes of his old enemy, and out
of regard to the memory of his old benefactor voluntarily offered Mrs.
Preston an allowance of five hundred dollars. It cost her pride a
great deal to accept this favor from the boy she had looked down upon