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Paul Prescott's Charge by Horatio Alger

Part 4 out of 6

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through Ben, letters from Paul, which kept
her acquainted with his progress at school.
These letters were very precious to the old
lady, and she read them over many times.
They formed a bright link of interest which
bound her to the outside world, and enabled
her to bear up with greater cheerfulness
against the tyranny of Mrs. Mudge.



The month after Paul Prescott succeeded
in reaching the head of his class, George Dawkins
exerted himself to rise above him. He
studied better than usual, and proved in truth
a formidable rival. But Paul's spirit was
roused. He resolved to maintain his position
if possible. He had now become accustomed
to study, and it cost him less effort. When the
end of the month came, there was considerable
speculation in the minds of the boys as to the
result of the rivalry. The majority had faith
in Paul, but there were some who, remembering
how long Dawkins had been at the head of the class,
thought he would easily regain his lost rank.

The eventful day, the first of the month,
at length came, and the class-list was read.

Paul Prescott ranked first.

George Dawkins ranked second.

A flush spread over the pale face of Dawkins,
and he darted a malignant glance at Paul,
who was naturally pleased at having retained his rank.

Dawkins had his satellites. One of these
came to him at recess, and expressed his regret
that Dawkins had failed of success.

Dawkins repelled the sympathy with cold disdain.

"What do you suppose I care for the head of
the class?" he demanded, haughtily.

"I thought you had been studying for it."

"Then you thought wrong. Let the sexton's
son have it, if he wants it. It would be of no
use to me, as I leave this school at the end of
the week."

"Leave school!"

The boys gathered about Dawkins, curiously.

"Is it really so, Dawkins?" they inquired.

"Yes," said Dawkins, with an air of
importance; "I shall go to a private school, where
the advantages are greater than here. My
father does not wish me to attend a public
school any longer.

This statement was made on the spur of the
moment, to cover the mortification which his
defeat had occasioned him. It proved true,
however. On his return home, Dawkins succeeded
in persuading his father to transfer
him to a private school, and he took away his
books at the end of the week. Had he recovered
his lost rank there is no doubt that he
would have remained.

Truth to tell, there were few who mourned
much for the departure of George Dawkins.
He had never been a favorite. His imperious
temper and arrogance rendered this impossible.

After he left school, Paul saw little of him
for two or three years. At their first
encounter Paul bowed and spoke pleasantly, but
Dawkins looked superciliously at him without
appearing to know him.

Paul's face flushed proudly, and afterwards
he abstained from making advances which
were likely to be repulsed. He had too much
self-respect to submit voluntarily to such slights.

Meanwhile Paul's school life fled rapidly. It
was a happy time,--happy in its freedom from
care, and happy for him, though all school
boys do not appreciate that consideration, in
the opportunities for improvement which it
afforded. These opportunities, it is only just
to Paul to say, were fully improved. He left
school with an enviable reputation, and with
the good wishes of his schoolmates and teachers.

Paul was now sixteen years old, a stout,
handsome boy, with a frank, open countenance,
and a general air of health which
formed quite a contrast to the appearance he
presented when he left the hospitable mansion
which Mr. Nicholas Mudge kept open at the
public expense.

Paul was now very desirous of procuring
a situation. He felt that it was time he was
doing something for himself. He was ambitious
to relieve the kind sexton and his wife of some portion,
at least, of the burden of his support.

Besides, there was the legacy of debt which
his father had bequeathed him. Never for a
moment had Paul forgotten it. Never for a
moment had he faltered in his determination
to liquidate it at whatever sacrifice to himself.

"My father's name shall be cleared," he said
to himself, proudly. "Neither Squire Conant
nor any one else shall have it in his power
to cast reproach upon his memory."

The sexton applauded his purpose.

"You are quite right, Paul," he said. "But
you need not feel in haste. Obtain your education
first, and the money will come by-and-
by. As long as you repay the amount, principal
and interest, you will have done all that
you are in honor bound to do. Squire Conant,
as I understand from you, is a rich man, so
that he will experience no hardship in waiting."

Paul was now solicitous about a place. The
sexton had little influence, so that he must
depend mainly upon his own inquiries.

He went into the reading-room of the Astor
House every day to look over the advertised
wants in the daily papers. Every day he noted
down some addresses, and presented himself
as an applicant for a position. Generally,
however, he found that some one else had been
before him.

One day his attention was drawn to the
following advertisement.

"WANTED. A smart, active, wide-awake
boy, of sixteen or seventeen, in a retail dry-
goods store. Apply immediately at--Broadway."

Paul walked up to the address mentioned.
Over the door he read, "Smith & Thompson."
This, then, was the firm that had advertised.

The store ran back some distance. There
appeared to be six or eight clerks in attendance
upon quite a respectable number of customers.

"Is Mr. Smith in?" inquired Paul, of the
nearest clerk.

"You'll find him at the lower end of the
store. How many yards, ma'am?"

This last was of course addressed to a customer.

Paul made his way, as directed, to the lower
end of the store.

A short, wiry, nervous man was writing at
a desk.

"Is Mr. Smith in?" asked Paul.

"My name; what can I do for you?" said
the short man, crisply.

"I saw an advertisement in the Tribune for a boy."

"And you have applied for the situation?" said Mr. Smith.

"Yes, sir."

"How old are you?" with a rapid glance at our hero.

"Sixteen--nearly seventeen."

"I suppose that means that you will be
seventeen in eleven months and a half."

"No, sir," said Paul, "I shall be seventeen
in three months."

"All right. Most boys call themselves a
year older. What's your name?"

"Paul Prescott."

"P. P. Any relation to Fanny Fern?"

"No, sir," said Paul, rather astonished.

"Didn't know but you might be. P. P. and
F. F. Where do you live?"

Paul mentioned the street and number.

"That's well, you are near by," said Mr.
Smith. "Now, are you afraid of work?"

"No sir," said Paul, smiling, "not much."

"Well, that's important; how much wages
do you expect?"

"I suppose," said Paul, hesitating, "I
couldn't expect very much at first."

"Of course not; green, you know. What
do you say to a dollar a week?"

"A dollar a week!" exclaimed Paul, in dismay,
"I hoped to get enough to pay for my

"Nonsense. There are plenty of boys glad
enough to come for a dollar a week. At first,
you know. But I'll stretch a point with you,
and offer you a dollar and a quarter. What do
you say?"

"How soon could I expect to have my wages advanced?"
inquired our hero, with considerable anxiety.

"Well," said Smith, "at the end of a month or two."

"I'll go home and speak to my uncle about it,"
said Paul, feeling undecided.

"Can't keep the place open for you.
Ah, there's another boy at the door."

"I'll accept," said Paul, jumping to a decision.
He had applied in so many different quarters
without success, that he could not make up his mind
to throw away this chance, poor as it seemed.

"When shall I come?"

"Come to-morrow"

"At what time, sir?"

"At seven o'clock."

This seemed rather early. However, Paul
was prepared to expect some discomforts, and
signified that he would come.

As he turned to go away, another boy passed him,
probably bent on the same errand with himself.

Paul hardly knew whether to feel glad or
sorry. He had expected at least three dollars
a week, and the descent to a dollar and a quarter
was rather disheartening. Still, he was
encouraged by the promise of a rise at the end
of a month or two,--so on the whole he went
home cheerful.

"Well, Paul, what luck to-day?" asked Mr.
Cameron, who had just got home as Paul entered.

"I've got a place, Uncle Hugh."

"You have,--where?"

"With Smith & Thompson, No.--Broadway."

"What sort of a store? I don't remember the name."

"It is a retail dry-goods store."

"Did you like the looks of your future employer?"

"I don't know," said Paul, hesitating, "He
looked as if he might be a pretty sharp man in
business, but I have seen others that I would
rather work for. However, beggars mustn't
be choosers. But there was one thing I was
disappointed about."

"What was that, Paul?"

"About the wages."

"How much will they give you?"

"Only a dollar and a quarter a week, at first."

"That is small, to be sure."

"The most I think of, Uncle Hugh, is, that
I shall still be an expense to you. I hoped to
get enough to be able to pay my board from the first."

"My dear boy," said the sexton, kindly,
"don't trouble yourself on that score. It costs
little more for three than for two, and the
little I expend on your account is richly made
up by the satisfaction we feel in your society,
and your good conduct."

"You say that to encourage me, Uncle Hugh," said Paul.
"You have done all for me. I have done nothing for you."

"No, Paul, I spoke the truth. Hester and I have both
been happier since you came to us. We hope you will
long remain with us. You are already as dear to us
as the son that we lost."

"Thank you, Uncle Hugh," said Paul, in a
voice tremulous with feeling. "I will do all
I can to deserve your kindness."



At seven o'clock the next morning Paul
stood before Smith & Thompson's store.

As he came up on one side, another boy came
down on the other, and crossed the street.

"Are you the new boy?" he asked, surveying
Paul attentively.

"I suppose so," said Paul. "I've engaged
to work for Smith & Thompson."

"All right. I'm glad to see you," said the other.

This looked kind, and Paul thanked him for
his welcome.

"O." said the other, bursting into a laugh,
"you needn't trouble yourself about thanking
me. I'm glad you've come, because now I
shan't have to open the store and sweep out.
Just lend a hand there; I'll help you about taking
down the shutters this morning, and to-morrow
you'll have to get along alone."

The two boys opened the store.

"What's your name?" asked Paul's new acquaintance.

"Paul Prescott. What is yours?"

"Nicholas Benton. You may call me MR. Benton."

"Mr. Benton?" repeated Paul in some astonishment.

"Yes; I'm a young man now. I've been Smith
& Thompson's boy till now. Now I'm promoted."

Paul looked at MR. Benton with some amusement.
That young man was somewhat shorter
than himself, and sole proprietor of a stock
of pale yellow hair which required an abundant
stock of bear's grease to keep it in order.
His face was freckled and expressionless. His
eyebrows and eyelashes were of the same faded
color. He was dressed, however, with some
pretensions to smartness. He wore a blue
necktie, of large dimensions, fastened by an
enormous breast-pin, which, in its already
tarnished splendor, suggested strong doubts as
to the apparent gold being genuine.

"There's the broom, Paul," said Mr. Benton,
assuming a graceful position on the counter.

"You'll have to sweep out; only look sharp about
raising a dust, or Smith'll be into your wool."

"What sort of a man is Mr. Smith?" asked
Paul, with some curiosity.

"O, he's an out and outer. Sharp as a steel trap.
He'll make you toe the mark."

"Do you like him?" asked Paul, not quite
sure whether he understood his employer's
character from the description.

"I don't like him well enough to advise any
of my folks to trade with him," said Mr. Benton.

"Why not?"

"He'd cheat 'em out of their eye teeth if
they happened to have any," said the young
man coolly, beginning to pick his teeth with a

Paul began to doubt whether he should like
Mr. Smith.

"I say," said Mr. Benton after a pause,
"have you begun to shave yet?"

Paul looked up to see if his companion were
in earnest.

"No," said he; "I haven't got along as
far as that. Have you?"

"I," repeated the young man, a little
contemptuously, "of course I have. I've shaved
for a year and a half."

"Do you find it hard shaving?" asked Paul,
a little slyly.

"Well, my beard is rather stiff," said the
late BOY, with an important air, "but I've got
used to it."

"Ain't you rather young to shave,
Nicholas?" asked Paul.

"Mr. Benton, if you please."

"I mean, Mr. Benton."

"Perhaps I was when I begun. But now I
am nineteen."


"Yes, that is to say, I'm within a few
months of being nineteen. What do you think
of my moustache?"

"I hadn't noticed it."

"The store's rather dark," muttered Mr.
Benton, who seemed a little annoyed by this
answer. "If you'll come a little nearer you
can see it."

Drawing near, Paul, after some trouble,
descried a few scattering hairs.

"Yes," said he, wanting to laugh, "I see it."

"Coming on finely, isn't it?" asked Mr.
Nicholas Benton, complacently.

"Yes," said Paul, rather doubtfully.

"I don't mind letting you into a secret,"
said Benton, affably, "if you won't mention
it. I've been using some of the six weeks' stuff."

"The what?" asked Paul, opening his eyes.

"Haven't you heard of it?" inquired Benton,
a little contemptuously. "Where have
you been living all your life? Haven't you
seen it advertised,--warranted to produce a
full set of whiskers or moustaches upon the
smoothest face, etc. I got some a week ago,
only a dollar. Five weeks from now you'll see
something that'll astonish you."

Paul was not a little amused by his new
companion, and would have laughed, but that
he feared to offend him.

"You'd better get some," said Mr. Benton.
"I'll let you just try mine once, if you want to."

"Thank you," said Paul; "I don't think I
want to have a moustache just yet."

"Well, perhaps you're right. Being a boy,
perhaps it wouldn't be advisable."

"When does Mr. Smith come in?"

"Not till nine."

"And the other clerks?"

"About eight o'clock. I shan't come till
eight, to-morrow morning."

"There's one thing I should like to ask
you," said Paul. "Of course you won't answer
unless you like."

"Out with it."

"How much does Mr. Smith pay you?"

"Ahem!" said Benton, "what does he pay you?"

"A dollar and a quarter a week."

"He paid me a dollar and a half to begin with."

"Did he? He wanted me to come first at
a dollar."

"Just like him. Didn't I tell you he was an
out and outer? He'll be sure to take you in if
you will let him."

"But," said Paul, anxiously, "he said he'd
raise it in a month or two."

"He won't offer to; you'll have to tease
him. And then how much'll he raise it? Not
more than a quarter. How much do you think
I get now?"

"How long have you been here?"

"A year and a half."

"Five dollars a week," guessed Paul.

"Five! he only gives me two and a half.
That is, he hasn't been paying me but that.
Now, of course, he'll raise, as I've been promoted."

"How much do you expect to get now?"

"Maybe four dollars, and I'm worth ten
any day. He's a mean old skinflint, Smith is."

This glimpse at his own prospects did not
tend to make Paul feel very comfortable. He
could not repress a sigh of disappointment
when he thought of this mortifying termination
of all his brilliant prospects. He had
long nourished the hope of being able to repay
the good sexton for his outlay in his behalf,
besides discharging the debt which his father
had left behind him. Now there seemed to be
little prospect of either. He had half a mind
to resign his place immediately upon the entrance
of Mr. Smith, but two considerations
dissuaded him; one, that the sum which he
was to receive, though small, would at least
buy his clothes, and besides, he was not at
all certain of obtaining another situation.

With a sigh, therefore, he went about his duties.

He had scarcely got the store ready when
some of the clerks entered, and the business
of the day commenced. At nine Mr. Smith appeared.

"So you're here, Peter," remarked he, as
he caught sight of our hero.

"Paul," corrected the owner of that name.

"Well, well, Peter or Paul, don't make much
difference. Both were apostles, if I remember
right. All ready for work, eh?"

"Yes, sir," said Paul, neither very briskly
nor cheerfully.

"Well," said Mr. Smith, after a pause, "I
guess I'll put you into the calico department.
Williams, you may take him under your wing.
And now Peter,--all the same, Paul,--I've got
a word or two to say to you, as I always do to
every boy who comes into my store. Don't
forget what you're here for? It's to sell goods.
Take care to sell something to every man,
woman, and child, that comes in your way.
That's the way to do business. Follow it up,
and you'll be a rich man some day."

"But suppose they don't want anything?"
said Paul.

"Make 'em want something," returned
Smith, "Don't let 'em off without buying.
That's my motto. However, you'll learn."

Smith bustled off, and began in his nervous
way to exercise a general supervision over all
that was going on in the store. He seemed to
be all eyes. While apparently entirely occupied
in waiting upon a customer, he took notice of all
the customers in the store, and could tell what
they bought, and how much they paid.

Paul listened attentively to the clerk under
whom he was placed for instruction.

"What's the price of this calico?" inquired
a common-looking woman.

"A shilling a yard, ma'am," (this was not
in war times.)

"It looks rather coarse."

"Coarse, ma'am! What can you be thinking of?
It is a superfine piece of goods. We sell more
of it than of any other figure. The mayor's wife
was in here yesterday, and bought two dress patterns
off of it."

"Did she?" asked the woman, who appeared
favorably impressed by this circumstance.

"Yes, and she promised to send her friends
here after some of it. You'd better take it
while you can get it."

"Will it wash?"

"To be sure it will."

"Then I guess you may cut me off ten yards."

This was quickly done, and the woman departed
with her purchase.

Five minutes later, another woman entered
with a bundle of the same figured calico.

Seeing her coming, Williams hastily slipped
the remnant of the piece out of sight.

"I got this calico here," said the newcomer,
"one day last week. You warranted it to wash,
but I find it won't. Here's a piece I've tried."

She showed a pattern, which had a faded look.

"You've come to the wrong store," said Williams,
coolly. "You must have got the calico somewhere else."

"No, I'm sure I got it here. I remember particularly
buying it of you."

"You've got a better memory than I have, then.
We haven't got a piece of calico like that in the store."

Paul listened to this assertion with unutterable surprise.

"I am quite certain I bought it here," said the woman, perplexed.

"Must have been the next store,--Blake & Hastings.
Better go over there."

The woman went out.

"That's the way to do business," said Williams, winking at Paul.

Paul said nothing, but he felt more than ever
doubtful about retaining his place.



One evening, about a fortnight after his
entrance into Smith & Thompson's employment,
Paul was putting up the shutters, the business
of the day being over. It devolved upon him
to open and close the store, and usually he was
the last one to go home.

This evening, however, Mr. Nicholas Benton
graciously remained behind and assisted Paul
in closing the store. This was unusual, and
surprised Paul a little. It was soon explained,

"Good-night, Nicholas,--I mean, Mr. Benton,"
said Paul.

"Not quite yet. I want you to walk a little
way with me this evening."

Paul hesitated.

"Come, no backing out. I want to confide
to you a very important secret."

He looked so mysterious that Paul's
curiosity was aroused, and reflecting that it was
yet early, he took his companion's proffered
arm, and sauntered along by his side.

"What's the secret?" he asked at length,
perceiving that Nicholas was silent.

"Wait till we get to a more retired place."

He turned out of Broadway into a side
street, where the passers were less numerous.

"I don't think you could guess," said the
young man, turning towards our hero.

"I don't think I could."

"And yet," continued Benton, meditatively,
"it is possible that you may have noticed
something in my appearance just a little unusual,
within the last week. Haven't you, now?"

Paul could not say that he had.

Mr. Benton looked a little disappointed.

"Nobody can tell what has been the state
of my feelings," he resumed after a pause.

"You ain't sick?" questioned Paul, hastily.

"Nothing of the sort, only my appetite has
been a good deal affected. I don't think I
have eaten as much in a week as you would in
a day," he added, complacently.

"If I felt that way I should think I was
going to be sick," said Paul.

"I'll let you into the secret," said Mr. Benton,
lowering his voice, and looking carefully
about him, to make sure that no one was
within hearing distance--"I'M IN LOVE."

This seemed so utterly ludicrous to Paul,
that he came very near losing Mr. Benton's
friendship forever by bursting into a hearty laugh.

"I didn't think of that," he said.

"It's taken away my appetite, and I haven't
been able to sleep nights," continued Mr. Benton,
in a cheerful tone. "I feel just as Howard
Courtenay did in the great story that's
coming out in the Weekly Budget. You've
read it, haven't you?"

"I don't think I have," said Paul.

"Then you ought to. It's tiptop. It's rather
curious too that the lady looks just as Miranda
does, in the same story."

"How is that?"

"Wait a minute, and I'll read the description."

Mr. Benton pulled a paper from his pocket,
--the last copy of the Weekly Budget,--and
by the light of a street lamp read the following
extract to his amused auditor.

"Miranda was just eighteen. Her form was
queenly and majestic. Tall and stately, she
moved among her handmaidens with a dignity
which revealed her superior rank. Her eyes
were dark as night. Her luxuriant tresses,--
there, the rest is torn off," said Mr. Benton,
in a tone of vexation.

"She is tall, then?" said Paul.

"Yes, just like Miranda."

"Then," said our hero, in some hesitation,
"I should think she would not be very well
suited to you."

"Why not?" asked Mr. Benton, quickly.

"Because," said Paul, "you're rather short,
you know."

"I'm about the medium height," said Mr.
Benton, raising himself upon his toes as he

"Not quite," said Paul, trying not to laugh.

"I'm as tall as Mr. Smith," resumed Mr.
Benton, in a tone which warned Paul that this
was a forbidden subject. "But you don't ask
me who she is."

"I didn't know as you would be willing to tell."

"I shan't tell any one but you. It's Miss
Hawkins,--firm of Hawkins & Brewer. That
is, her father belongs to the firm, not she. And
Paul," here he clutched our hero's arm convulsively,
"I've made a declaration of my love, and--and----"


"She has answered my letter."

"Has she?" asked Paul with some curiosity,
"What did she say?"

"She has written me to be under her window
this evening."

"Why under her window? why didn't she
write you to call?"

"Probably she will, but it's more romantic
to say, `be under my window.'"

"Well, perhaps it is; only you know I don't
know much about such things."

"Of course not, Paul," said Mr. Benton;
"you're only a boy, you know."

"Are you going to be under her window,
Nich,--I mean Mr. Benton?"

"Of course. Do you think I would miss the
appointment? No earthly power could prevent
my doing it."

"Then I had better leave you," said Paul,
making a movement to go.

"No, I want you to accompany me as far as
the door. I feel--a little agitated. I suppose
everybody does when they are in love," added
Mr. Benton, complacently.

"Well," said Paul, "I will see you to the
door, but I can't stay, for they will wonder at
home what has become of me."

"All right."

"Are we anywhere near the house?"

"Yes, it's only in the next street," said Mr.
Benton, "O, Paul, how my heart beats! You
can't imagine how I feel!"

Mr. Benton gasped for breath, and looked as
if he had swallowed a fish bone, which he had
some difficulty in getting down.

"You'll know how to understand my feelings
sometime, Paul," said Mr. Benton;
"when your time comes, I will remember your
service of to-night, and I will stand by you."

Paul inwardly hoped that he should never
fall in love, if it was likely to affect him in
the same way as his companion, but he thought
it best not to say so.

By this time they had come in sight of a
three-story brick house, with Benjamin Hawkins
on the door-plate.

"That's the house," said Mr. Benton, in an
agitated whisper.

"Is it?"

"Yes, and that window on the left-hand side
is the window of her chamber."

"How do you know?"

"She told me in the letter."

"And where are you to stand?"

"Just underneath, as the clock strikes nine.
It must be about the time."

At that moment the city clock struck nine.

Mr. Benton left Paul, and crossing the
street, took up his position beneath the window
of his charmer, beginning to sing, in a
thin, piping voice, as preconcerted between them--
"Ever of thee,
I'm fo-o-ondly dreaming."

The song was destined never to be finished.

From his post in a doorway opposite, Paul
saw the window softly open. He could
distinguish a tall female figure, doubtless Miss
Hawkins herself. She held in her hand a
pitcher of water, which she emptied with well-
directed aim full upon the small person of her
luckless admirer.

The falling column struck upon his beaver,
thence spreading on all sides. His carefully
starched collar became instantly as limp as
a rag, while his coat suffered severely from
the shower.

His tuneful accents died away in dismay.

"Ow!" he exclaimed, jumping at least a
yard, and involuntarily shaking himself like a
dog, "who did that?"

There was no answer save a low, musical
laugh from the window above, which was
involuntarily echoed by Paul.

"What do you mean by laughing at me?"
demanded Mr. Benton, smarting with mortification,
as he strode across the street, trying
to dry his hat with the help of his handkerchief,
"Is this what you call friendship?"

"Excuse me," gasped Paul, "but I really
couldn't help it."

"I don't see anything to laugh at,"
continued Mr. Benton, in a resentful tone;
"because I have been subjected to unmanly
persecution, you must laugh at me, instead of
extending to me the sympathy of a friend."

"I suppose you won't think of her any
more," said Paul, recovering himself.

"Think of her!" exclaimed Mr. Benton,
"would you have me tear her from my heart,
because her mercenary parent chooses to frown
upon our love, and follow me with base persecution."

"Her parent!"

"Yes, it was he who threw the water upon
me. But it shall not avail," the young man
continued, folding his arms, and speaking in a
tone of resolution, "bolts and bars shall not
keep two loving hearts asunder."

"But it wasn't her father," urged Paul,
perceiving that Mr. Benton was under a mistake.

"Who was it, then?"

"It was the young lady herself."

"Who threw the water upon me? It is a
base slander."

"But I saw her."

"Saw who?"

"A tall young lady with black hair."

"And was it she who threw the water?"
asked Mr. Benton, aghast at this unexpected


"Then she did it at the command of her
proud parent."

Paul did not dispute this, since it seemed
to comfort Mr. Benton. It is doubtful, however,
whether the young man believed it himself,
since he straightway fell into a fit of
gloomy abstraction, and made no response
when Paul bade him "good-night."



Paul had a presentiment that he should not
long remain in the employ of Smith & Thompson;
it was not many weeks before this presentiment
was verified.

After having received such instruction as
was necessary, the calico department was left
in Paul's charge. One day a customer in turning
over the patterns shown her took up a piece
which Paul knew from complaints made by
purchasers would not wash.

"This is pretty," said she, "it is just what
I have been looking for. You may cut me off
twelve yards."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Wait a minute, though," interposed the
lady, "will it wash?"

"I don't think it will," said Paul, frankly,
"there have been some complaints made about that."

"Then I shall not want it. Let me see what
else you have got."

The customer finally departed, having found
nothing to suit her.

No sooner had she left the store than Mr.
Smith called Paul.

"Well, did you sell that lady anything?"

"No, sir."

"And why not?" demanded Smith, harshly.

"Because she did not like any of the pieces."

"Wouldn't she have ordered a dress pattern
if you had not told her the calico would not

"Yes, sir, I suppose so," said Paul, preparing
for a storm.

"Then why did you tell her?" demanded his
employer, angrily.

"Because she asked me."

"Couldn't you have told her that it would wash?"

"That would not have been the truth," said Paul, sturdily.

"You're a mighty conscientious young man," sneered Smith,
"You're altogether too pious to succeed in business.
I discharge you from my employment."

"Very well, sir," said Paul, his heart sinking,
but keeping up a brave exterior, "then I
have only to bid you good-morning."

"Good-morning, sir," said his employer with
mock deference, "I advise you to study for the
ministry, and no longer waste your talents in
selling calico."

Paul made no reply, but putting on his cap
walked out of the store. It was the middle of
the week, and Mr. Smith was, of course, owing
him a small sum for his services; but Paul was
too proud to ask for his money, which that
gentleman did not see fit to volunteer.

"I am sure I have done right," thought
Paul. "I had no right to misrepresent the
goods to that lady. I wonder what Uncle
Hugh will say."

"You did perfectly right," said the sexton,
after Paul had related the circumstances of
his dismissal. "I wouldn't have had you act
differently for twenty situations. I have no
doubt you will get a better position elsewhere."

"I hope so," said Paul. "Now that I have
lost the situation, Uncle Hugh, I don't mind
saying that I never liked it."

Now commenced a search for another place.
Day after day Paul went out, and day after
day he returned with the same want of success.

"Never mind, Paul," said the sexton
encouragingly. "When you do succeed, perhaps
you'll get something worth waiting for."

One morning Paul went out feeling that
something was going to happen,--he didn't
exactly know what,--but he felt somehow that
there was to be a change in his luck. He went
out, therefore, with more hopefulness than
usual; yet, when four o'clock came, and nothing
had occurred except failure and disappointment,
which unhappily were not at all out of
the ordinary course, Paul began to think that
he was very foolish to have expected anything.

He was walking listlessly along a narrow
street, when, on a sudden, he heard an exclamation
of terror, of which, on turning round,
he easily discovered the cause.

Two spirited horses, attached to an elegant
carriage, had been terrified in some way, and
were now running at the top of their speed.

There was no coachman on the box; he had
dismounted in order to ring at some door,
when the horses started. He was now doing
his best to overtake the horses, but in a race
between man and horse, it is easy to predict
which will have the advantage.

There seemed to be but one person in the
carriage. It was a lady,--whose face, pale
with terror, could be seen from the carriage
window. Her loud cries of alarm no doubt
terrified the horses still more, and, by accelerating
their speed, tended to make matters worse.

Paul was roused from a train of despondent
reflections by seeing the horses coming up the
street. He instantly comprehended the whole
danger of the lady's situation.

Most boys would have thought of nothing
but getting out of the way, and leaving the
carriage and its inmate to their fate. What,
indeed, could a boy do against a pair of powerful
horses, almost beside themselves with fright?"

But our hero, as we have already had
occasion to see, was brave and self-possessed, and
felt an instant desire to rescue the lady, whose
glance of helpless terror, as she leaned her
head from the window, he could see. Naturally
quickwitted, it flashed upon him that
the only way to relieve a horse from one terror,
was to bring another to bear upon him.

With scarcely a moment's premeditation, he
rushed out into the middle of the street, full
in the path of the furious horses, and with
his cheeks pale, for he knew his danger, but
with determined air, he waved his arms aloft,
and cried "Whoa!" at the top of his voice.

The horses saw the sudden movement. They saw
the boy standing directly in front of them.
They heard the word of command to which
they had been used, and by a sudden impulse,
relieved from the blind terror which had urged
them on, they stopped suddenly, and stood still
in the middle of the street, still showing in
their quivering limbs the agitation through
which they had passed.

Just then the coachman, panting with his hurried running,
came up and seized them by the head.

"Youngster," said he, "you're a brave fellow.
You've done us a good service to-day.
You're a pretty cool hand, you are. I don't
know what these foolish horses would have done
with the carriage if it had not been for you."

"Let me get out," exclaimed the lady,
not yet recovered from her fright.

"I will open the door," said Paul, observing
that the coachman was fully occupied in soothing
the horses.

He sprang forward, and opening the door of
the carriage assisted the lady to descend.

She breathed quickly.

"I have been very much frightened," she said;
"and I believe I have been in very great danger.
Are you the brave boy who stopped the horses?"

Paul modestly answered in the affirmative.

"And how did you do it? I was so terrified
that I was hardly conscious of what was passing,
till the horses stopped.

Paul modestly related his agency in the matter.

The lady gazed at his flushed face admiringly.

"How could you have so much courage?"
she asked. "You might have been trampled
to death under the hoofs of the horses."

"I didn't think of that. I only thought of
stopping the horses."

"You are a brave boy. I shudder when I
think of your danger and mine. I shall not
dare to get into the carriage again this afternoon."

"Allow me to accompany you home?" said Paul, politely.

"Thank you; I will trouble you to go with me as far
as Broadway, and then I can get into an omnibus."

She turned and addressed some words to the
coachman, directing him to drive home as soon
as the horses were quieted, adding that she
would trust herself to the escort of the young
hero, who had rescued her from the late peril.

"You're a lucky boy," thought John, the
coachman. "My mistress is one that never
does anything by halves. It won't be for nothing
that you have rescued her this afternoon."

As they walked along, the lady, by delicate
questioning, succeeded in drawing from our
hero his hopes and wishes for the future. Paul,
who was of a frank and open nature, found
it very natural to tell her all he felt and wished.

"He seems a remarkably fine boy," thought
the lady to herself. "I should like to do
something for him."

They emerged into Broadway.

"I will detain you a little longer," said the lady;
"and perhaps trouble you with a parcel."

"I shall be very glad to take it," said Paul politely.

Appleton's bookstore was close at hand.
Into this the lady went, followed by her young

A clerk advanced, and inquired her wishes.

"Will you show me some writing-desks?"

"I am going to purchase a writing-desk for
a young friend of mine," she explained to Paul;
"as he is a boy, like yourself, perhaps
you can guide me in the selection."

"Certainly," said Paul, unsuspiciously.

Several desks were shown. Paul expressed
himself admiringly of one made of rosewood
inlaid with pearl.

"I think I will take it," said the lady.

The price was paid, and the desk was wrapped up.

"Now," said Mrs. Danforth, for this proved
to be her name, "I will trouble you, Paul, to
take the desk for me, and accompany me in the
omnibus, that is, if you have no other occupation
for your time."

"I am quite at leisure," said Paul. "I shall
be most happy to do so."

Paul left the lady at the door of her residence
in Fifth Avenue, and promised to call
on his new friend the next day.

He went home feeling that, though he had
met with no success in obtaining a place, he
had been very fortunate in rendering so important
a service to a lady whose friendship
might be of essential service to him.



"Mrs. Edward Danforth," repeated the sexton,
on hearing the story of Paul's exploit.

"Why, she attends our church."

"Do you know Mr. Danforth?" asked Paul,
with interest.

"Only by sight. I know him by reputation, however."

"I suppose he is very rich."

"Yes, I should judge so. At any rate, he is
doing an extensive business."

"What is his business?"

"He is a merchant."

"A merchant," thought Paul; "that is just
what I should like to be, but I don't see much
prospect of it."

"How do you like Mrs. Danforth?" inquired the sexton.

"Very much," said Paul, warmly. "She was very kind,
and made me feel quite at home in her company."

"I hope she may be disposed to assist you.
She can easily do so, in her position."

The next day Paul did not as usual go out
in search of a situation. His mind was occupied
with thoughts of his coming interview with
Mrs. Danforth, and he thought he would defer
his business plans till the succeeding day.

At an early hour in the evening, he paused
before an imposing residence on Fifth Avenue,
which he had seen but not entered the day previous.

He mounted the steps and pulled the bell.

A smart-looking man-servant answered his ring.

"Is Mrs. Danforth at home?" asked Paul.

"Yes, I believe so."

"I have called to see her."

"Does she expect you?" asked the servant,
looking surprised.

"Yes; I come at her appointment," said Paul.

"Then I suppose it's all right," said the man.
"Will you come in?" he asked, a little doubtfully.

Paul followed him into the house, and was
shown into the drawing-room, the magnificence
of which somewhat dazzled his eyes; accustomed
only to the plain sitting-room of Mr. Cameron.

The servant reappeared after a brief
absence, and with rather more politeness than he
had before shown, invited Paul to follow him
to a private sitting-room upstairs, where he
would see Mrs. Danforth.

Looking at Paul's plain, though neat clothes,
the servant was a little puzzled to understand
what had obtained for Paul the honor of being
on visiting terms with Mrs. Danforth.

"Good evening, Paul," said Mrs. Danforth,
rising from her seat and welcoming our hero
with extended hand. "So you did not forget
your appointment."

"There was no fear of that," said Paul, with
his usual frankness. "I have been looking forward
to coming all day."

"Have you, indeed?" said the lady with a
pleasant smile.

"Then I must endeavor to make your visit
agreeable to you. Do you recognize this desk?"

Upon a table close by, was the desk which
had been purchased the day previous, at Appleton's.

"Yes," said Paul, "it is the one you bought yesterday.
I think it is very handsome."

"I am glad you think so. I think I told
you that I intended it for a present. I have
had the new owner's name engraved upon it."

Paul read the name upon the plate provided
for the purpose. His face flushed with
surprise and pleasure. That name was his own.

"Do you really mean it for me" he asked.

"If you will accept it," said Mrs. Danforth, smiling.

"I shall value it very much," said Paul, gratefully.
"And I feel very much indebted to your kindness."

"We won't talk of indebtedness, for you remember
mine is much the greater. If you will open the desk
you will find that it is furnished with what will,
I hope, prove of use to you."

The desk being opened, proved to contain a liberal
supply of stationery, sealing wax, postage stamps, and pens.

Paul was delighted with his new present,
and Mrs. Danforth seemed to enjoy the
evident gratification with which it inspired him.

"Now," said she, "tell me a little about
yourself. Have you always lived in New York?"

"Only about three years," said Paul.

"And where did you live before?"

"At Wrenville, in Connecticut."

"I have heard of the place. A small country town, is it not?"

Paul answered in the affirmative.

"How did you happen to leave Wrenville,
and come to New York?"

Paul blushed, and hesitated a moment.

"I ran away," he said at length, determined
to keep nothing back.

"Ran away! Not from home, I hope."

"I had no home," said Paul, soberly. "I
should never have left there, if my father had
not died. Then I was thrown upon the world.
I was sent to the Poorhouse. I did not want to go,
for I thought I could support myself."

"That is a very honorable feeling. I suppose
you did not fare very well at the Poorhouse."

In reply, Paul detailed some of the grievances
to which he had been subjected. Mrs.
Danforth listened with sympathizing attention.

"You were entirely justified in running away,"
she said, as he concluded. "I can hardly imagine
so great a lack of humanity as these people showed.
You are now, I hope, pleasantly situated?"

"Yes," said Paul, "Mr. and Mrs. Cameron
treat me with as great kindness as if I were
their own child."

"Cameron! Is not that the name of the
sexton of our church?" said Mrs. Danforth,

"It is with him that I have a pleasant home."

"Indeed, I am glad to hear it. You have
been attending school, I suppose."

"Yes, it is not more than two months since
I left off school."

"And now I suppose you are thinking of
entering upon some business."

"Yes; I have been trying to obtain a place
in some merchant's counting-room."

"You think, then, that you would like the
career of a merchant?"

"There is nothing that would suit me better."

"You have not succeeded in obtaining a
place yet, I suppose?"

"No. They are very difficult to get, and I
have no influential friends to assist me."

"I have heard Mr. Danforth say that he
experienced equal difficulty when he came to
New York, a poor boy."

Paul looked surprised.

"I see that you are surprised," said Mrs.
Danforth, smiling. "You think, perhaps, judging
from what you see, that my husband was
always rich. But he was the son of a poor
farmer, and was obliged to make his own way
in the world. By the blessing of God, he has
been prospered in business and become rich.
But he often speaks of his early discouragements
and small beginnings. I am sorry he
is not here this evening. By the way, he left
word for you to call at his counting-room to-
morrow, at eleven o'clock. I will give you his

She handed Paul a card containing the
specified number, and soon after he withdrew,
bearing with him his handsome gift, and
a cordial invitation to repeat his call.

He looked back at the elegant mansion
which he had just left, and could not help feeling
surprised that the owner of such a palace,
should have started in life with no greater
advantages than himself.



Paul slept late the next morning. He did
not hear the breakfast-bell, and when the sexton
came up to awaken him he rubbed his eyes
with such an expression of bewilderment that
Mr. Cameron could not forbear laughing.

"You must have had queer dreams, Paul,"
said he.

"Yes, Uncle Hugh," said Paul, laughing, "I
believe I have."

"When you have collected your wits, which
at present seem absent on a wool-gathering
expedition, perhaps you will tell what you have
been dreaming about."

"So I will," said Paul, "and perhaps you
can interpret it for me. I dreamed that I was
back again at Mr. Mudge's, and that he sent me
out into the field to dig potatoes. I worked
away at the first hill, but found no potatoes.
In place of them were several gold pieces. I
picked them up in great surprise, and instead
of putting them into the basket, concluded to
put them in my pocket. But as all the hills
turned out in the same way I got my pockets
full, and had to put the rest in the basket. I
was just wondering what they would do for
potatoes, when all at once a great dog came up
and seized me by the arm----"

"And you opened your eyes and saw me,"
said the sexton, finishing out his narrative.

"Upon my word, that's very complimentary
to me. However, some of our potatoes have
escaped transformation into gold pieces, but I
am afraid you will find them rather cold if you
don't get down to breakfast pretty quick."

"All right, Uncle Hugh. I'll be down in a jiffy."

About half-past ten Paul started on his way
to Mr. Danforth's counting-room. It was located
on Wall Street, as he learned from the
card which had been given him by Mrs. Danforth.
He felt a little awkward in making this
call. It seemed as if he were going to receive
thanks for the service which he had rendered,
and he felt that he had already been abundantly
repaid. However, he was bound in courtesy to call,
since he did so at the request of Mrs. Danforth.

It was a large stone building, divided up
into offices, to which Paul had been directed.
Mr. Danforth's office he found after a little
search, upon the second floor.

He opened the door with a little
embarrassment, and looked about him.

In one corner was a small room, used as a
more private office, the door of which was
closed. In the larger room the only one whom
he saw, was a boy, apparently about his own
age, who was standing at a desk and writing.

This boy looked around as Paul entered, and
he at once recognized in him an old acquaintance.

"George Dawkins!" he exclaimed in surprise.

The latter answered in a careless indifferent
tone, not exhibiting any very decided pleasure
at meeting his old schoolmate.

"Oh, it's you, Prescott, is it?"

"Yes," said Paul, "I haven't met you since
you left our school."

"No, I believe we have not met," said Dawkins,
in the same tone as before.

"How long have you been in this office?"
asked our hero.

"I really can't say," said Dawkins, not
looking up.

"You can't say!"

"No, I'm rather forgetful."

Paul could not help feeling chilled at the
indifferent manner in which his advances were
met. He had been really glad to see Dawkins,
and had addressed him with cordiality. He
could not conceal from himself that Dawkins
did not seem inclined to respond to it.

"Still," thought Paul, extenuatingly,
"perhaps that is his way."

As the conversation began to flag, Paul was
reminded of his errand by Dawkins saying, in
a tone which was half a sneer, "Have you any
business with Mr. Danforth this morning, or
did you merely come in out of curiosity?"

"I have called to see Mr. Danforth," said Paul.

"He is usually pretty busy in the morning,"
said Dawkins.

"He directed me to call in the morning,"
said Paul, sturdily.

"Oh, indeed!" said Dawkins, a little
surprised. "I wonder," he thought, "what
business this fellow can have with Mr. Danforth.
Can he be fishing for a place?"

"Mr. Danforth is engaged with a visitor
just now," he at length condescended to say;
"if your time is not too valuable to wait, you
can see him by-and-by."

"Thank you," said Paul, rather nettled,
"you are very polite."

To this Dawkins made no reply, but resumed
his pen, and for the next ten minutes seemed
entirely oblivious of Paul's presence.

Our hero took up the morning paper, and
began, as he had so often done before, to look
over the list of wants, thinking it possible he
might find some opening for himself.

About ten minutes later the door of the
inner office opened, and two gentlemen came
out. One was a gentleman of fifty, a business
friend of Mr. Danforth's, the other was Mr.
Danforth himself.

The former remarked, on seeing Paul, "Is
this your son, Danforth?"

"No," said the merchant, nodding in a
friendly manner to Paul.

"That's a good joke," thought Dawkins,
chuckling to himself; "Mr. Danforth must
be immensely flattered at having a sexton's
adopted son taken for his."

After a final word or two on business
matters, and arrangements for another interview,
the visitor departed, and Mr. Danforth, now
at leisure, turned to Paul.

"Now my lad," he said kindly, "if you will
follow me, we shall have a chance to talk a little."

Paul followed the merchant into his office,
the door of which was closed, much to the regret
of Dawkins, who had a tolerably large
share of curiosity, and was very anxious to
find out what business Paul could possibly
have with his employer.

"Take that seat, if you please;" said Mr.
Danforth, motioning Paul to an arm-chair, and
sitting down himself, "Mrs. Danforth told me
from how great a peril you rescued her. You
are a brave boy."

"I don't know," said Paul, modestly, "I
didn't think of the danger. If I had, perhaps
I should have hesitated."

"If you had not been brave you would have
thought of your own risk. My wife and myself
are under very great obligations to you."

"That more than repays me for all I did,"
said Paul, in a tone of mingled modesty and

"I like the boy," thought Mr. Danforth;
"he is certainly quite superior to the common run."

"Have you left school?" he inquired, after a pause.

"Yes, sir. Last term closed my school life."

"Then you have never been in a situation."

"Yes, sir."

"Indeed! Before you left school?"

"No, sir, since."

"You did not like it, then?"

"No, sir," said Paul.

"And was that the reason of your leaving?"

"No, sir; my employer was not satisfied with me,"
said Paul, frankly.

"Indeed! I am surprised to hear this!
If you have no objection, will you tell me
the circumstances?"

Paul related in a straightforward manner
the difficulty he had had with Smith & Thompson.

"I hope you don't think I did wrong," he concluded.

"By no means," said Mr. Danforth, warmly.
"Your conduct was entirely creditable.
As for Smith, I know of him. He is a sharper.
It would have done you no good to remain in his employ."

Paul was pleased with this commendation.
He had thought it possible that his dismissal
from his former situation might operate
against him with the merchant.

"What are your present plans and wishes?"
asked Mr. Danforth, after a slight pause.

"I should like to enter a merchant's counting-room,"
said Paul, "but as such places are hard to get,
I think I shall try to get into a store."

Mr. Danforth reflected a moment, then
placing a piece of paper before our hero, he
said, "Will you write your name and address
on this piece of paper, that I may know where
to find you, in case I hear of a place?"

Paul did as directed. He had an excellent handwriting,
a point on which the merchant set a high value.

The latter surveyed the address with
approval, and said, "I am glad you write so
excellent a hand. It will be of material
assistance to you in securing a place in a counting-
room. Indeed, it has been already, for I have
just thought of a place which I can obtain for you."

"Can you, sir?" said Paul, eagerly.

"Where is it?"

"In my own counting-room," said Mr.
Danforth, smiling.

"I am very much obliged to you," said Paul,
hardly believing his ears.

"I was prepared to give it to you when you
came in, in case I found you qualified. The
superiority of your handwriting decides me.
When can you come?"

"To-morrow, if you like, sir."

"I like your promptness. As it is the middle
of the week, however, you may take a vacation
till Monday. Your salary will begin to-morrow."

"Thank you, sir."

"I will give you five dollars per week at
first, and more as your services become more
valuable. Will that be satisfactory?"

"I shall feel rich, sir. Mr. Smith only gave
me a dollar and a quarter."

"I hope you will find other differences between
me and Mr. Smith," said the merchant, smiling.

These preliminaries over, Mr. Danforth
opened the door, and glancing at Dawkins,
said, "Dawkins, I wish you to become
acquainted with your fellow clerk, Paul Prescott."

Dawkins looked surprised, and anything but
gratified as he responded stiffly, "I have the
honor of being already acquainted with Mr. Prescott."

"He is a little jealous of an interloper,"
thought Mr. Danforth, noticing the repellent
manner of young Dawkins. "Never mind,
they will get acquainted after awhile."

When George Dawkins went home to dinner,
his father observed the dissatisfied look he wore.

"Is anything amiss, my son?" he inquired.

"I should think there was," grumbled his son.

"What is it?"

"We've got a new clerk, and who do you think it is?"

"Who is it?"

"The adopted son of old Cameron, the sexton."

"Indeed," said Mrs. Dawkins. "I really
wonder at Mr. Danforth's bad taste. There are
many boys of genteel family, who would have
been glad of the chance. This boy is a low
fellow of course."

"Certainly," said her son, though he was
quite aware that this was not true.

"What could have brought the boy to Danforth's
notice?" asked Dawkins, senior.

"I don't know, I'm sure. The boy has
managed to get round him in some way. He is
very artful."

"I really think, husband, that you ought to
remonstrate with Mr. Danforth about taking
such a low fellow into his counting-room with
our George."

"Pooh!" said Mr. Dawkins, who was a
shade more sensible than his wife, "he'd think
me a meddler."

"At any rate, George," pursued his mother,
"there's one thing that is due to your family
and bringing up,--not to associate with this
low fellow any more than business requires."

"I certainly shall not," said George, promptly.

He was the worthy son of such a mother.



At the end of the first week, Paul received
five dollars, the sum which the merchant had
agreed to pay him for his services. With this
he felt very rich. He hurried home, and
displayed to the sexton the crisp bank note which
had been given him.

"You will soon be a rich man, Paul," said Mr. Cameron,
with a benevolent smile, returning the bill.

"But I want you to keep it, Uncle Hugh."

"Shall I put it in the Savings Bank, for you, Paul?"

"I didn't mean that. You have been
supporting me--giving me board and clothes--for
three years. It is only right that you should
have what I earn."

"The offer is an honorable one on your part,
Paul," said the sexton; "but I don't need it.
If it will please you, I will take two dollars
a week for your board, now, and out of the
balance you may clothe yourself, and save
what you can."

This arrangement seemed to be a fair one.
Mr. Cameron deposited the five dollar note in
his pocket-book, and passed one of three
dollars to Paul. This sum our hero deposited the
next Monday morning, in a savings bank. He
estimated that he could clothe himself
comfortably for fifty dollars a year. This would
leave him one hundred towards the payment
of the debt due to Squire Conant.

"By-and-by my salary will be raised,"
thought Paul. "Then I can save more."

He looked forward with eager anticipation
to the time when he should be able to redeem
his father's name, and no one would be entitled
to cast reproach upon his memory.

He endeavored to perform his duties
faithfully in the office, and to learn as rapidly as he
could the business upon which he had entered.
He soon found that he must depend mainly
upon himself. George Dawkins seemed disposed
to afford him no assistance, but repelled
scornfully the advances which Paul made towards
cordiality. He was by no means as
faithful as Paul, but whenever Mr. Danforth
was absent from the office, spent his time in
lounging at the window, or reading a cheap
novel, with one of which he was usually provided.

When Paul became satisfied that Dawkins
was not inclined to accept his overtures, he
ceased to court his acquaintance, and confined
himself to his own desk.

One day as he was returning from dinner, he
was startled by an unceremonious slap upon
the shoulder.

Looking up in some surprise, he found that
this greeting had come from a man just behind
him, whose good-humored face and small,
twinkling eyes, he at once recognized.

"How do you do, Mr. Stubbs?" inquired
Paul, his face lighting up with pleasure.

"I'm so's to be round. How be you?"
returned the worthy pedler, seizing our hero's
hand and shaking it heartily.

Mr. Stubbs was attired in all the glory of a
blue coat with brass buttons and swallow tails.

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