Part 2 out of 5
"You may, but I doubt it."
"You seem to be carried away by him," said Fitzgerald, pettishly. "I
don't see anything very wonderful about him, except dirty hands."
"Then you have seen more than I have."
"Of course a fellow who meddles with printer's ink must have dirty
hands. Faugh!" said Fletcher, turning up his nose.
At the same time he regarded complacently his own fingers, which he
carefully kept aloof from anything that would soil or mar their
"The fact is, Fitz," said Oscar, argumentatively, "our upper ten, as
we call them, spring from just such beginnings as my friend Harry
Walton. My own father commenced life in a printing office. But, as
you say, he occupies a high position at present."
"Really!" said Fletcher, a little taken aback, for he knew that
Vincent's father ranked higher than his own.
"I daresay your own ancestors were not always patricians."
Fletcher winced. He knew well enough that his father commenced life
as a boy in a country grocery, but in the mutations of fortune had
risen to be the proprietor of a large dry-goods store on Washington
Street. None of the family cared to look back to the beginning of
his career. They overlooked the fact that it was creditable to him
to have risen from the ranks, though the rise was only in wealth, for
Mr. Fletcher was a purse-proud parvenu, who owed all the
consideration he enjoyed to his commercial position. Fitz liked to
have it understood that he was of patrician lineage, and carefully
ignored the little grocery, and certain country relations who
occasionally paid a visit to their wealthy relatives, in spite of the
rather frigid welcome they received.
"Oh, I suppose there are exceptions," Fletcher admitted reluctantly.
"Your father was smart."
"So is Harry Walton. I know what he is aiming at, and I predict that
he will be an influential editor some day."
"Have you got your Greek lesson?" asked Fletcher, abruptly, who did
not relish the course the conversation had taken.
"Then I want you to translate a passage for me. I couldn't make it
Half an hour later Fletcher left Vincent's room.
"What a snob he is!" thought Oscar.
And Oscar was right.
THE CLIONIAN SOCIETY.
On Thursday evening the main school of the Academy building was
lighted up, and groups of boys, varying in age from thirteen to
nineteen, were standing in different parts of the room. These were
members of the Clionian Society, whose weekly meeting was about to
At eight o'clock precisely the President took his place at the
teacher's desk, with the Secretary at his side, and rapped for order.
The presiding officer was Alfred DeWitt, a member of the Senior
Class, and now nearly ready for college. The Secretary was a member
of the same class, by name George Sanborn.
"The Secretary will read the minutes of the last meeting," said the
President, when order had been obtained.
George Sanborn rose and read his report, which was accepted.
"Are any committees prepared to report?" asked the President.
The Finance Committee reported through its chairman, recommending
that the fee for admission be established at one dollar, and that
each member be assessed twenty-five cents monthly.
"Mr. President," said Fitzgerald Fletcher, rising to his feet, "I
would like to say a word in reference to this report."
"Mr. Fletcher has the floor."
"Then, Mr. President, I wish to say that I disagree with the Report
of the Committee. I think a dollar is altogether too small. It
ought to be at least three dollars, and I myself should prefer five
dollars. Again, sir, the Committee has recommended for the monthly
assessment the ridiculously small sum of twenty-five cents. I think
it ought to be a dollar."
"Mr. President, I should like to ask the gentleman his reason," said
Henry Fairbanks, Chairman of the Finance Committee. "Why should we
tax the members to such an extent, when the sums reported are
sufficient to defray the ordinary expenses of the Society, and to
leave a small surplus besides?"
"Mr. President," returned Fletcher, "I will answer the gentleman. We
don't want to throw open the Society to every one that can raise a
dollar. We want to have an exclusive society."
"Mr. President," said Oscar Vincent, rising, "I should like to ask
the gentleman for how many he is speaking. He certainly is not
speaking for me. I don't want the Society to be exclusive. There
are not many who can afford to pay the exorbitant sums which he
desires fixed for admission fee and for monthly assessments, and I
for one am not willing to exclude any good fellow who desires to
become one of us, but does not boast as heavy a purse as the
gentleman who has just spoken."
These remarks of Oscar were greeted with applause, general enough to
show that the opinions of nearly all were with him.
"Mr. President," said Henry Fairbanks, "though I am opposed to the
gentleman's suggestion, (does he offer it as an amendment?) I have no
possible objection to his individually paying the increased rates
which he recommends, and I am sure the Treasurer will gladly receive
Laughter and applause greeted this hit, and Fletcher once more arose,
somewhat vexed at the reception of his suggestion.
"I don't choose--" he commenced.
"The gentleman will address the chair," interrupted the President.
"Mr. President, I don't choose to pay more than the other members,
though I can do it without inconvenience. But, as I said, I don't
believe in being too democratic. I am not in favor of admitting
anybody and everybody into the Society."
"Mr. President," said James Hooper, "I congratulate the gentleman on
the flourishing state of his finances. For my own part, I am not
ashamed to say that I cannot afford to pay a dollar a month
assessment, and, were it required, I should be obliged to offer my
"So much the better," thought Fitzgerald, for, as Hooper was poor,
and went coarsely clothed, he looked down upon him. Fortunately for
himself he did not give utterance to his thought.
"Does Mr. Fletcher put his recommendation into the form of an
amendment?" asked, the President.
"Be kind enough to state it, then."
Fletcher did so, but as no one seconded it, no action was of course
"Nominations for membership are now in order," said the President.
"I should like to propose my friend Henry Walton."
"Who is Henry Walton?" asked a member.
"Mr. President, may I answer the gentleman?" asked Fitzgerald
Fletcher, rising to his feet.
"As the nominee is not to be voted upon this evening, it is not in
"Mr. President," said Oscar, "I should be glad to have the gentleman
report his information."
"Mr. Fletcher may speak if he desires it, but as the name will be
referred to the Committee on Nominations, it is hardly necessary."
"Mr. President, I merely wish to inform the Society, that Mr. Walton
occupies the dignified position of printer's devil in the office of
the 'Centreville Gazette.'"
"Mr. President," said Oscar, "may I ask the indulgence of the Society
long enough to say that I am quite aware of the fact. I will add
that Mr. Walton is a young man of excellent abilities, and I am
confident will prove an accession to the Society."
"I cannot permit further remarks on a matter which will come in due
course before the Committee on Nominations," said the President.
"The next business in order is the debate."
Of the debate, and the further proceedings, I shall not speak, as
they are of no special interest. But after the meeting was over,
groups of members discussed matters which had come up during the
evening. Fletcher approached Oscar Vincent, and said, "I can't see,
Oscar, why you are trying to get that printer's devil into our
"Because he's a good fellow, and smart enough to do us credit."
"If there were any bootblacks in Centreville I suppose you'd be
proposing them?" said Fletcher with a sneer.
"I might, if they were as smart as my friend Walton."
"You are not very particular about your friends," said Fletcher in
the same tone.
"I don't ask them to open their pocket-books, and show me how much
money they have."
"I prefer to associate with gentlemen."
"So do I."
"Yet you associate with that printer's devil."
"I consider him a gentleman."
Fletcher laughed scornfully.
"You have strange ideas of a gentleman," he said.
"I hold the same," said James Hooper, who had come up in time to hear
the last portion of the conversation. "I don't think a full purse is
the only or the chief qualification of a gentleman. If labor is to
be a disqualification, then I must resign all claims to be considered
a gentleman, as I worked on a farm for two years before coming to
school, and in that way earned the money to pay my expenses here."
Fletcher turned up his nose, but did not reply.
Hooper was a good scholar and influential in the Society, but in
Fletcher's eyes he was unworthy of consideration.
"Look here, Fletcher,--what makes you so confoundedly exclusive is
your ideas?" asked Henry Fairbanks.
"Because I respect myself," said Fletcher in rather a surly tone.
"Then you have one admirer," said Fairbanks.
"What do you mean by that?" asked Fletcher, suspiciously.
"Nothing out of the way. I believe in self-respect, but I don't see
how it is going to be endangered by the admission of Oscar's friend
to the Society."
"Am I expected to associate on equal terms with a printer's devil?"
"I can't answer for you. As for me, if he is a good fellow, I shall
welcome him to our ranks. Some of our most eminent men have been
apprenticed to the trade of printer. I believe, after all, it is the
name that has prejudiced you."
"No it isn't. I have seen him."
"In Oscar's room."
"I don't like his appearance."
"What's the matter with his appearance?" asked Oscar.
"He looks low."
"That's where I must decidedly contradict you, Fitz, and I shall
appeal confidently to the members of the Society when they come to
know him, as they soon will, for I am sure no one else shares your
ridiculous prejudices. Harry Walton, in my opinion, is a true
gentleman, without reference to his purse, and he is bound to rise
hereafter, take my word for it."
"There's plenty of room for him to rise," said Fletcher with a sneer.
"That is true not only of him, but of all of us, I take it."
"Do you refer to me?"
"Oh no," said Oscar with sarcasm. "I am quite aware that you are at
the pinnacle of eminence, even if you do flunk in Greek occasionally."
Fitzgerald had failed in the Greek recitation during the day, and
that in school parlance is sometimes termed a "flunk." He bit his
lip in mortification at this reference, and walked away, leaving
Oscar master of the situation.
"You had the best of him there, Vincent," said George Sanborn. "He
has gone off in disgust."
"I like to see Fletcher taken down," said Henry Fairbanks. "I never
saw a fellow put on so many airs. He is altogether too aristocratic
to associate with ordinary people."
"Yes," said Oscar, "he has a foolish pride, which I hope he will some
time get rid of."
"He ought to have been born in England, and not in a republic."
"If he had been born in England, he would have been unhappy unless he
had belonged to the nobility," said Alfred DeWitt.
"Look here, boys," said Tom Carver, "what do you say to mortifying
"Have you got a plan in view, Tom? If so, out with it."
"Yes: you know the pedler that comes into town about once a month to
buy up rags, and sell his tinwares."
"I have seen him. Well, what of him?"
"He is coming early next week. Some of us will see him privately,
and post him up as to Fitz's relations and position, and hire him to
come up to school, and inquire for Fitz, representing himself as his
cousin. Of course Fitz will deny it indignantly, but he will persist
and show that he knows all about the family."
"Good! Splendid!" exclaimed the boys laughing. "Won't Fitz be
"There's no doubt about that. Well, boys, I'll arrange it all, if
you'll authorize me."
"Go ahead, Tom. You can draw upon us for the necessary funds."
Fletcher had retired to his room, angry at the opposition his
proposal had received, and without any warning of the humiliation
which awaited him.
Those of my readers who live in large cities are probably not
familiar with the travelling tin-pedler, who makes his appearance at
frequent intervals in the country towns and villages of New England.
His stock of tinware embraces a large variety of articles for
culinary purposes, ranging from milk-pans to nutmeg-graters. These
are contained in a wagon of large capacity, in shape like a box, on
which he sits enthroned a merchant prince. Unlike most traders, he
receives little money, most of his transactions being in the form of
a barter, whereby be exchanges his merchandise for rags, white and
colored, which have accumulated in the household, and are gladly
traded off for bright tinware. Behind the cart usually depend two
immense bags, one for white, the other for colored rags, which, in
time, are sold to paper manufacturers. It may be that the very paper
on which this description is printed, was manufactured from rags so
Abner Bickford was the proprietor of such an establishment as I have
described. No one, at first sight, would have hesitated to class him
as a Yankee. He was long in the limbs, and long in the face, with a
shrewd twinkle in the eye, a long nose, and the expression of a man
who respected himself and feared nobody. He was unpolished, in his
manners, and knew little of books, but he belonged to the same
resolute and hardy type of men who in years past sprang to arms, and
fought bravely for an idea. He was strong in his manhood, and would
have stood unabashed before a king. Such was the man who was to
mortify the pride of Fitzgerald Fletcher.
Tom Carver watched for his arrival in Centreville, and walking up to
his cart, accosted him.
"Good-morning, Mr. Bickford."
"Good-mornin', young man. You've got the advantage of me. I never
saw you before as I know of."
"I am Tom Carver, at your service."
"Glad to know you. Where do you live? Maybe your wife would like
some tinware this mornin'?" said Abner, relaxing his gaunt features
into a smile.
"She didn't say anything about it when I came out," said Tom,
entering into the joke.
"Maybe you'd like a tin-dipper for your youngest boy?"
"Maybe I would, if you've got any to give away."
"I see you've cut your eye-teeth. Is there anything else I can do
for you? I'm in for a trade."
"I don't know, unless I sell myself for rags."
"Anything for a trade. I'll give you two cents a pound."
"That's too cheap. I came to ask your help in a trick we boys want
to play on one of our number."
"Sho! you don't say so. That aint exactly in my line."
"I'll tell you all about it. There's a chap at our school--the
Academy, you know--who's awfully stuck up. He's all the time
bragging about belonging to a first family in Boston, and turning up
his nose at poorer boys. We want to mortify him."
"Just so!" said Abner, nodding. "Drive ahead!"
"Well, we thought if you'd call at the school and ask after him, and
pretend he was a cousin of yours, and all that, it would make him
"Oh, I see," said Abner, nodding, "he wouldn't like to own a
tin-pedler for his cousin."
"No," said Tom; "he wants us to think all his relations are rich. I
wouldn't mind at all myself," he added, it suddenly occurring to him
that Abner's feelings might be hurt.
"Good!" said Abner, "I see you aint one of the stuck-up kind. I've
got some relations in Boston myself, that are rich and stuck up. I
never go near 'em. What's the name of this chap you're talkin'
"Fletcher!" repeated Abner. "Whew! well, that's a joke!"
"What's a joke?" asked Tom, rather surprised.
"Why, he _is_ my relation--a sort of second cousin. Why, my mother
and his father are own cousins. So, don't you see we're second
"That's splendid!" exclaimed Tom. "I can hardly believe it."
"It's so. My mother's name was Fletcher--Roxanna Fletcher--afore she
married. Jim Fletcher--this boy's father--used to work in my
grandfather's store, up to Hampton, but he got kinder discontented,
and went off to Boston, where he's been lucky, and they do say he's
mighty rich now. I never go nigh him, 'cause I know he looks down on
his country cousins, and I don't believe in pokin' my nose in where I
"Then you are really and truly Fitz's cousin?"
"If that's the boy's name. Seems to me it's a kinder queer one. I
s'pose it's a fust-claas name. Sounds rather stuck up."
"Won't the boys roar when they hear about it! Are you willing to
enter into our plan?"
"Well," said Abner, "I'll do it. I can't abide folks that's stuck
up. I'd rather own a cousin like you."
"Thank you, Mr. Bickford."
"When do you want me to come round?"
"How long do you stay in town?"
"Well, I expect to stop overnight at the tavern; I can't get through
in one day."
"Then come round to the Academy to-morrow morning, about half-past
eight. School don't begin till nine, but the boys will be playing
ball alongside. Then we'll give you an introduction to your cousin."
"That'll suit me well enough. I'll come."
Tom Carver returned in triumph, and communicated to the other boys
the arrangement be had made with Mr. Bickford, and his unexpected
discovery of the genuine relationship that existed between Fitz and
the tin-pedler. His communication was listened to with great
delight, and no little hilarity, and the boys discussed the probable
effect of the projected meeting.
"Fitz will be perfectly raving," said Henry Fairbanks. "There's
nothing that will take down his pride so much."
"He'll deny the relationship, probably," said Oscar.
"How can he?"
"He'll do it. See if he don't. It would be death to all his
aristocratic claims to admit it."
"Suppose it were yourself, Oscar?"
"I'd say, 'How are you, cousin? How's the the business?'" answered
"I believe you would, Oscar. There's nothing of the snob about you."
"I hope not."
"Yet your family stands as high as Fletcher's."
"That's a point I leave to others to discuss," said Oscar. "My
father is universally respected, I am sure, but he rose from the
ranks. He was once a printer's devil, like my friend Harry Walton.
Wouldn't it be ridiculous in me to turn up my nose at Walton, just
because be stands now where my father did thirty years ago? It would
be the same thing as sneering at father."
"Give us your hand, Oscar," said Henry Fairbanks. "You've got no
nonsense about you--I like you."
"I'm not sure whether your compliment is deserved, Henry," said
Oscar, "but if I have any nonsense it isn't of that kind."
"Do you believe Fitz has any suspicion that he has a cousin in the
"No; I don't believe he has. He must know he has poor relations,
living in the country, but he probably thinks as little as possible
about them. As long as they don't intrude themselves upon his
greatness, I suppose he is satisfied."
"And as long as no one suspects that he has any connection with such
"What sort of a man is this tin-pedler, Tom?" asked Oscar.
"He's a pretty sharp fellow--not educated, or polished, you know, but
he seems to have some sensible ideas. He said he had never seen the
Fletchers; because he didn't want to poke his nose in where he wasn't
wanted. He showed his good sense also by saying that he had rather
have me for a cousin than Fitz."
"That isn't a very high compliment--I'd say the same myself."
"Thank you, Oscar. Your compliment exalts me. You won't mind my
strutting a little."
And Tom humorously threw back his head, and strutted about with mock
"To be sure," said Oscar, "you don't belong to one of the first
families of Boston, like our friend, Fitz."
"No, I belong to one of the second families. You can't blame me, for
I can't help it."
"No, I won't blame you, but of course I consider you low."
"I am afraid, Tom, I haven't got any cousins in the tin trade, like
"Poor Fitz! he little dreams of his impending trial. If he did, I am
afraid he wouldn't sleep a wink to-night."
"I wish I thought as much of myself as Fitz does," said Henry
Fairbanks. "You can see by his dignified pace, and the way he tosses
his head, how well satisfied he is with being Fitzgerald Fletcher,
"I'll bet five cents he won't strut round so much to-morrow
afternoon," said Tom, "after his interview with his new cousin. But
hush, boys! Not a word more of this. There's Fitz coming up the
hill. I wouldn't have him suspect what's going on, or he might
defeat our plans by staying away."
FITZ AND HIS COUSIN.
The next morning at eight the boys began to gather in the field
beside the Seminary. They began to play ball, but took little
interest in the game, compared with the "tragedy in real life," as
Tom jocosely called it, which was expected soon to come off.
Fitz appeared upon the scene early. In fact one of the boys called
for him, and induced him to come round to school earlier than usual.
Significant glances were exchanged when he made his appearance, but
Fitz suspected nothing, and was quite unaware that he was attracting
more attention than usual.
Punctually at half-past eight, Abner Bickford with his tin-cart
appeared in the street, and with a twitch of the rein began to ascend
the Academy Hill.
"Look there," said Tom Carver, "the tin-pedler's coming up the hill.
Wonder if he expects to sell any of his wares to us boys. Do you
know him, Fitz?"
"I!" answered Fitzgerald with a scornful look, "what should I know of
Tom's mouth twitched, and his eyes danced with the anticipation of
By this time Mr. Bickford had brought his horse to a halt, and
jumping from his box, approached the group of boys, who suspended
"We don't want any tinware," said one of the boys, who was not in the
"Want to know! Perhaps you haven't got tin enough to pay for it.
Never mind, I'll buy you for old rags, at two cents a pound."
"He has you there, Harvey," said Tom Carver. "Can I do anything for
"Is your name Fletcher?" asked Abner, not appearing to recognize Tom.
"Why, he wants you, Fitz!" said Harvey, in surprise.
"This gentleman's name is Fletcher," said Tom, placing his hand on
the shoulder of the astonished Fitzgerald.
"Not Fitz Fletcher?" said Abner, interrogatively.
"My name is Fitzgerald Fletcher," said the young Bostonian,
haughtily, "but I am at a loss to understand why you should desire to
Abner advanced with hand extended, his face lighted up with an
"Why, Cousin Fitz," he said heartily, "do you mean to say you don't
"Sir," said Fitzgerald, drawing back, "you are entirely mistaken in
the person. I don't know you."
"I guess it's you that are mistaken, Fitz," said the pedler,
familiarly; "why, don't you remember Cousin Abner, that used to trot
you on his knee when you was a baby? Give us your hand, in memory of
"You must be crazy," said Fitzgerald, his cheeks red with
indignation, and all the more exasperated because he saw significant
smiles on the faces of his school-companions.
"I s'pose you was too young to remember me," said Abner. "I haint
seen you for ten years."
"Sir," said Fitz, wrathfully, "you are trying to impose upon me. I
am a native of Boston."
"Of course you be," said the imperturbable pedler. "Cousin
Jim--that's your father--went to Boston when he was a boy, and they
do say he's worked his way up to be a mighty rich man. Your father
is rich, aint he?"
"My father is wealthy, and always was," said Fitzgerald.
"No he wasn't, Cousin Fitz," said Abner. "When he was a boy, he used
to work in grandfather's store up to Hampton; but he got sort of
discontented and went to Boston. Did you ever hear him tell of his
cousin Roxanna? That's my mother."
"I see that you mean to insult me, fellow," said Fitz, pale with
passion. "I don't know what your object is, in pretending that I am
your relation. If you want any pecuniary help--"
"Hear the boy talk!" said the pedler, bursting into a horse laugh.
"Abner Bickford don't want no pecuniary help, as you call it. My
tin-cart'll keep me, I guess."
"You needn't claim relationship with me," said Fitzgerald,
scornfully; "I haven't any low relations."
"That's so," said Abner, emphatically; "but I aint sure whether I can
say that for myself."
"Do you mean to insult me?"
"How can I? I was talkin' of my relations. You say you aint one of
"I am not."
"Then you needn't go for to put on the coat. But you're out of your
reckoning, I guess. I remember your mother very well. She was Susan
"Is that true, Fitz?"
"Ye--es," answered Fitz, reluctantly.
"I told you so," said the pedler, triumphantly.
"Perhaps he is your cousin, after all," said Henry Fairbanks.
"I tell you he isn't," said Fletcher, impetuously.
"How should he know your mother's name, then, Fitz?" asked Tom.
"Some of you fellows told him," said Fitzgerald.
"I can say, for one, that I never knew it," said Tom.
"We used to call her Sukey Baker," said Abner. "She used to go to
the deestrict school along of Mother. They was in the same class. I
haven't seen your mother since you was a baby. How many children has
"I must decline answering your impertinent questions." said
Fitzgerald, desperately. He began to entertain, for the first time,
the horrible suspicion that the pedler's story might be true--that he
might after all be his cousin. But he resolved that he never would
admit it--NEVER! Where would be his pretentious claims to
aristocracy--where his pride--if this humiliating discovery were
made? Judging of his school-fellows and himself, he feared that they
would look down upon him.
"You seem kind o' riled to find that I am your cousin," said Abner.
"Now, Fitz, that's foolish. I aint rich, to be sure, but I'm
respectable. I don't drink nor chew, and I've got five hundred
dollars laid away in the bank."
"You're welcome to your five hundred dollars," said Fitz, in what was
meant to be a tone of withering sarcasm.
"Am I? Well, I'd orter be, considerin' I earned it by hard work.
Seems to me you've got high notions, Fitz. Your mother was kind of
flighty, and I've heard mine say Cousin Jim--that's your father--was
mighty sot up by gettin' rich. But seems to me you ought not to deny
your own flesh and blood."
"I don't know who you refer to, sir."
"Why, you don't seem to want to own me as your cousin."
"Of course not. You're only a common tin-pedler."
"Well, I know I'm a tin-pedler, but that don't change my bein' your
"I wish my father was here to expose your falsehood."
"Hold on there!" said Abner. "You're goin' a leetle too far. I
don't let no man, nor boy neither, charge me with lyin', if he is my
cousin, I don't stand that, nohow."
There was something in Abner's tone which convinced Fitzgerald that
he was in earnest, and that he himself must take care not to go too
"I don't wish to have anything more to say to you," said Fitz."
"I say, boys," said Abner, turning to the crowd who had now formed a
circle around the cousins, "I leave it to you if it aint mean for
Fitz to treat me in that way. If he was to come to my house, that
aint the way I'd treat him."
"Come, Fitz," said Tom, "you are not behaving right. I would not
treat my cousin that way."
"He isn't my cousin, and you know it," said Fitz, stamping with rage.
"I wish I wasn't," said Abner. "If I could have my pick, I'd rather
have him," indicating Tom. "But blood can't be wiped out. We're
cousins, even if we don't like it."
"Are you quite sure you are right about this relationship?" asked
Henry Fairbanks, gravely. "Fitz, here, says he belongs to one of the
first families of Boston."
"Well, I belong to one of the first families of Hampton," said Abner,
with a grin. "Nobody don't look down on me, I guess."
"You hear that, Fitz," said Oscar. "Be sensible, and shake hands
with your cousin."
"Yes, shake hands with your cousin!" echoed the boys.
"You all seem to want to insult me," said Fitz, sullenly.
"Not I," said Oscar, "and I'll prove it--will you shake hands with
"That I will," said Abner, heartily. "I can see that you're a young
gentleman, and I wish I could say as much for my cousin, Fitz."
Oscar's example was followed by the rest of the boys, who advanced in
turn, and shook hands with the tin-pedler.
"Now Fitz, it's your turn," said Tom.
"I decline," said Fitz, holding his hands behind his back.
"How much he looks like his marm did when she was young," said Abner.
"Well, boys, I can't stop no longer. I didn't think Cousin Fitz
would be so stuck up, just because his father's made some money.
"Three cheers for Fitz's cousin!" shouted Tom.
They were given with a will, and Mr. Bickford made acknowledgment by
a nod and a grin.
"Remember me to your mother when you write, Cousin Fitz," he said at
Fitz was too angry to reply. He walked off sullenly, deeply
mortified and humiliated, and for weeks afterward nothing would more
surely throw him into a rage than any allusion to his cousin the
tin-pedler. One good effect, however, followed. He did not venture
to allude to the social position of his family in presence of his
school-mates, and found it politic to lay aside some of his airs of
HARRY JOINS THE CLIONIAN SOCIETY.
A week later Harry Walton received the following note:--
"Centreville, May 16th, 18--,
"Dear Sir: At the last meeting of the Clionian
Society you were elected a member. The next meeting
will be held on Thursday evening, in the Academy
"MR. HARRY WALTON."
Our hero read this letter with satisfaction. It would be pleasant
for him to become acquainted with the Academy students, but he
thought most of the advantages which his membership would afford him
in the way of writing and speaking. He had never attempted to
debate, and dreaded attempting it for the first time; but he knew
that nothing desirable would be accomplished without effort, and he
was willing to make that effort.
"What have you there, Walton?" asked Clapp, noticing the letter which
he held in his hand.
"You can read it if you like," said Harry.
"Humph!" said Clapp; "so you are getting in with the Academy boys?"
"Why shouldn't he?" said Ferguson.
"Oh, they're a stuck-up set."
"I don't find them so--that is, with one exception," said Harry.
"They are mostly the sones of rich men, and look down on those who
have to work for a living."
Clapp was of a jealous and envious disposition, and he was always
fancying slights where they were not intended.
"If I thought so," said Harry, "I would not join the Society, but as
they have elected me, I shall become a member, and see how things
"It is a good plan, Harry," said Ferguson. "It will be a great
advantage to you."
"I wish I had a chance to attend the Academy for a couple of years,"
said our hero, thoughtfully.
"I don't," said Clapp. "What's the good of studying Latin and Greek,
and all that rigmarole? It won't bring you money, will it?"
"Yes," said Ferguson. "Education will make a man more competent to
earn money, at any rate in many cases. I have a cousin, who used to
go to school with me, but his father was able to send him to college.
He is now a lawyer in Boston, making four or five times my income.
But it isn't for the money alone that an education is worth having.
There is a pleasure in being educated."
"So I think," said Harry.
"I don't see it," said Clapp. "I wouldn't be a bookworm for anybody.
There's Walton learning French. What good is it ever going to do
"I can tell you better by and by, when I know a little more," said
Harry. "I am only a beginner now."
"Dr. Franklin would never have become distinguished if he had been
satisfied with what he knew as an apprentice," said Ferguson.
"Oh, if you're going to bring up Franklin again, I've got through,"
said Clapp with a sneer. "I forgot that Walton was trying to be a
"I don't see much chance of it," said Harry, good-humoredly. "I
should like to be if I could."
Clapp seemed to be in an ill-humor, and the conversation was not
continued. He had been up late the night before with Luke Harrison,
and both had drank more than was good for them. In consequence,
Clapp had a severe headache, and this did not improve his temper.
"Come round Thursday evening, Harry," said Oscar Vincent, "and go to
the Society with me. I will introduce you to the fellows. It will
be less awkward, you know."
"Thank you, Oscar. I shall be glad to accept your escort."
When Thursday evening came, Oscar and Harry entered the Society hall
arm in arm. Oscar led his companion up to the Secretary and
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Walton," said he. "Will you sign your
name to the Constitution? That is all the formality we require."
"Except a slight pecuniary disbursement," added Oscar.
"How much is the entrance fee?" asked Harry.
"One dollar. You win pay that to the Treasurer."
Oscar next introduced our hero to the President, and some of the
leading members, all of whom welcomed him cordially.
"Good-evening, Mr. Fletcher," said Harry, observing that young
gentleman near him.
"Good-evening, sir," said Fletcher stiffly, and turned on his heel
without offering his hand.
"Fletcher don't feel well," whispered Oscar. "He had a visit from a
poor relation the other day--a tin-pedler--and it gave such a shock
to his sensitive system that he hasn't recovered from it yet."
"I didn't imagine Mr. Fletcher had such a plebeian relative," said
"Nor did any of us. The interview was rich. It amused us all, but
what was sport to us was death to poor Fitz. You have only to make
the most distant allusion to a tin-pedler in his hearing, and he will
"Then I will be careful."
"Oh, it won't do any harm. The fact was, the boy was getting too
overbearing, and putting on altogether too many airs. The lesson
will do him good, or ought to."
Here the Society was called to order, and Oscar and Harry took their
The exercises proceeded in regular order until the President
announced a declamation by Fitzgerald Fletcher.
"Mr. President," said Fletcher, rising, "I must ask to be excused. I
have not had time to prepare a declamation."
"Mr. President," said Tom Carver, "under the circumstances I hope you
will excuse Mr. Fletcher, as during the last week he has had an
addition to his family."
There was a chorus of laughter, loud and long, at this sally. All
were amused except Fletcher himself, who looked flushed and provoked.
"Mr. Fletcher is excused," said the President, unable to refrain from
smiling. "Will any member volunteer to speak in his place? It will
be a pity to have our exercises incomplete."
Fletcher was angry, and wanted to be revenged on somebody. A bright
idea came to him. He would place the "printer's devil," whose
admission to the Society he resented, in an awkward position. He
rose with a malicious smile upon his face.
"Mr. President," he said, "doubtless Mr. Walton, the new member who
has done us the _honor_ to join our society, will be willing to
supply my place."
"We shall certainly be glad to hear a declamation from Mr. Walton,
though it is hardly fair to call upon him at such short notice."
"Can't you speak something, Harry?" whispered Oscar. "Don't do it,
unless you are sure you can get through."
Harry started in surprise when his name was first mentioned, but he
quickly resolved to accept his duty. He had a high reputation at
home for speaking, and he had recently learned a spirited poem,
familiar, no doubt, to many of my young readers, called "Shamus
O'Brien." It is the story of an Irish volunteer, who was arrested
for participating in the Irish rebellion of '98, and is by turns
spirited and pathetic. Harry had rehearsed it to himself only the
night before, and he had confidence in a strong and retentive memory.
At the President's invitation he rose to his feet, and said, "Mr.
President, I will do as well as I can, but I hope the members of the
Society will make allowance for me, as I have had no time for special
All eyes were fixed with interest upon our hero, as he advanced to
the platform, and, bowing composedly, commenced his declamation. It
was not long before that interest increased, as Harry proceeded in
his recitation. He lost all diffidence, forgot the audience, and
entered thoroughly into the spirit of the piece. Especially when, in
the trial scene, Shamus is called upon to plead guilty or not guilty,
Harry surpassed himself, and spoke with a spirit and fire which
brought down the house. This is the passage:--
"My lord, if you ask me, if in my life-time
I thought any treason, or did any crime,
That should call to my cheek, as I stand alone here,
The hot blush of shame, or the coldness of fear,
Though I stood by the grave to receive my death-blow,
Before God and the world I would answer you, no!
But if you would ask me, as I think it like,
If in the rebellion I carried a pike,
An' fought for ould Ireland from the first to the close,
An' shed the heart's blood of her bitterest foes,
I answer you, _yes_; and I tell you again,
Though I stand here to perish, it's my glory that then
In her cause I was willing my veins should run dhry,
An' that now for her sake I am ready to die."
After the applause had subsided, Harry proceeded, and at the
conclusion of the declamation, when he bowed modestly and left the
platform, the hall fairly shook with the stamping, in which all
joined except Fletcher, who sat scowling with dissatisfaction at a
result so different from his hopes. He had expected to bring
discomfiture to our hero. Instead, he had given him an opportunity
to achieve a memorable triumph.
"You did yourself credit, old boy!" said Oscar, seizing and wringing
the hand of Harry, as the latter resumed his seat. "Why, you ought
to go on the stage!"
"Thank you," said Harry; "I am glad I got through well."
"Isn't Fitz mad, though? He thought you'd break down. Look at him!"
Harry looked over to Fletcher, who, with a sour expression, was
sitting upright, and looking straight before him.
"He don't look happy, does he?" whispered Oscar, comically.
Harry came near laughing aloud, but luckily for Fletcher's peace of
mind, succeeded in restraining himself.
"He won't call you up again in a hurry; see if he does," continued
"I am sure we have all been gratified by Mr. Walton's spirited
declamation," said the President, rising. "We congratulate ourselves
upon adding so fine a speaker to our society, and hope often to have
the pleasure of hearing him declaim."
There was a fresh outbreak of applause, after which the other
exercises followed. When the meeting was over the members of the
Society crowded around Harry, and congratulated him on his success.
These congratulations he received so modestly, as to confirm the
favorable impression he had made by his declamation.
"By Jove! old fellow," said Oscar, as they were walking home, "I am
beginning to be proud of you. You are doing great credit to your
"Thank you, Professor," said Harry. "Don't compliment me too much,
or I may become vain, and put on airs."
"If you do, I'll get Fitz to call, and remind you that you are only a
printer's devil, after all."
VACATION BEGINS AT THE ACADEMY.
Not long after his election as a member of the Clionian Society, the
summer term of the Prescott Academy closed. The examination took
place about the tenth of June, and a vacation followed, lasting till
the first day of September. Of course, the Clionian Society, which
was composed of Academy students, suspended its meetings for the same
length of time. Indeed, the last meeting for the season took place
during the first week in June, as the evenings were too short and too
warm, and the weather was not favorable to oratory. At the last
meeting, an election was held of officers to serve for the following
term. The same President and Vice-President were chosen; but as the
Secretary declined to serve another term, Harry Walton, considerably
to his surprise, found himself elected in his place.
Fitzgerald Fletcher did not vote for him. Indeed, he expressed it as
his opinion that it was a shame to elect a "printer's devil"
Secretary of the Society.
"Why is it?" said Oscar. "Printing is a department of literature,
and the Clionian is a literary society, isn't it?"
"Of course it is a literary society, but a printer's devil is not
"He's as literary as a tin-pedler," said Tom Carver, maliciously.
Fletcher turned red, but managed to say, "And what does that prove?"
"We don't object to you because you are connected with the tin
"Do you mean to insult me?" demanded Fletcher, angrily. "What have I
to do with the tin business?"
"Oh, I beg pardon, it's your cousin that's in it."
"I deny the relationship," said Fletcher, "and I will thank you not
to refer again to that vulgar pedler."
"Really, Fitz, you speak rather roughly, considering he's your
cousin. But as to Harry Walton, he's a fine fellow, and he has an
excellent handwriting, and I was very glad to vote for him."
Fitzgerald walked away, not a little disgusted, as well at the
allusion to the tin-pedler, as at the success of Harry Walton in
obtaining an office to which he had himself secretly aspired. He had
fancied that it would sound well to put "Secretary of the Clionian
Society" after his name, and would give him increased consequence at
home. As to the tin-pedler, it would have relieved his mind to hear
that Mr. Bickford had been carried off suddenly by an apoplectic fit,
and notwithstanding the tie of kindred, he would not have taken the
trouble to put on mourning in his honor.
Harry Walton sat in Oscar Vincent's room, on the last evening of the
term. He had just finished reciting the last French lesson in which
he would have Oscar's assistance for some time to come.
"You have made excellent progress," said Oscar. "It is only two
months since you began French, and now you take a long lesson in
"That is because I have so good a teacher. But do you think I can
get along without help during the summer?"
"No doubt of it. You may find some difficulties, but those you can
mark, and I will explain when I come back. Or I'll tell you what is
still better. Write to me, and I'll answer. Shall I write in
"I wish you would, Oscar."
"Then I will. I'm rather lazy with the pen, but I can find time for
you. Besides, it will be a good way for me to keep up my French."
"Shall you be in Boston all summer, Oscar?"
"No; our family has a summer residence at Nahant, a sea-shore place
twelve miles from Boston. Then I hope father will let me travel
about a little on my own account. I want to go to Saratoga and Lake
"That would be splendid."
"I wish you could go with me, Harry."
"Thank you, Oscar, but perhaps you can secure Fletcher's company.
That will be much better than that of a 'printer's devil' like
"It may show bad taste, but I should prefer your company,
notwithstanding your low employment."
"Thank you, Oscar. I am much obliged."
"Fitz has been hinting to me how nice it would be for us to go off
somewhere together, but I don't see it in that light. I asked him
why he didn't secure board with his cousin, the tin-pedler, but that
made him angry, and he walked away in disgust. But I can't help
pitying you a little, Harry."
"Why? On account of my occupation?"
"Partly. All these warm summer days, you have got to be working at
the case, while I can lounge in the shade, or travel for pleasure.
Sha'n't you have a vacation?"
"I don't expect any. I don't think I could well be spared. However,
I don't mind it. I hope to do good deal of studying while you are
"And I sha'n't do any."
"Neither would I, perhaps, in your position. But there's a good deal
of difference between us. You are a Latin and Greek scholar, and can
talk French, while I am at the bottom of the ladder. I have no time
"You have begun to mount the ladder, Harry. Don't be discouraged.
You can climb up."
"But I must work for it. I haven't got high enough up to stop and
rest. But there is one question I want to ask you, before you go."
"What is it?"
"What French book would you recommend after I have finished this
Reader? I am nearly through now."
"Telemaque will be a good book to take next. It is easy and
interesting. Have you got a French dictionary?"
"No; but I can buy one."
"You can use mine while I am gone. You may as well have it as not.
I have no copy of Telemaque, but I will send you one from Boston."
"Agreed, provided you will let me pay you for it."
"So I would, if I had to buy one. But I have got an old copy, not
very ornamental, but complete. I will send it through the mail."
"Thank you, Oscar. How kind you are!"
"Don't flatter me, Harry. The favors you refer to are but trifles.
I will ask a favor of you in return."
"I wish you would."
"Then help me pack my trunk. There's nothing I detest so much.
Generally I tumble things in helter-skelter, and get a good scolding
from mother for doing it, when she inspects my trunk."
"I'll save you the trouble, then. Bring what you want to carry home,
and pile it on the floor, and I'll do the packing."
"A thousand thanks, as the French say. It takes a load off my mind.
By the way, here's a lot of my photographs. Would you like one to
remember your professor by?"
"Very much, Oscar."
"Then take your choice. They don't do justice to my beauty, which is
of a stunning description, as you are aware, nor do they convey an
idea of the lofty intellect which sits enthroned behind my classic
brow; but such as they are, you are welcome to one."
"Any one would think, to hear you, that you had no end of
self-conceit, Oscar," said Harry, laughing.
"How do you know that I haven't? Most people think they are
beautiful. A photographer told my sister that he was once visited by
a frightfully homely man from the the country, who wanted his 'picter
took.' When the result was placed before him, he seemed
dissatisfied. 'Don't you think it like?' said the artist.--'Well,
ye-es,' he answered slowly, 'but it hasn't got my sweet expression
about the mouth!'"
"Very good," said Harry, laughing; "that's what's the matter with
"Precisely. I am glad your artistic eye detects what is wanting.
But, hold! there's a knock. It's Fitz, I'll bet a hat."
"Come in!" he cried, and Fletcher walked in.
"Good-evening, Fletcher," said Oscar. "You see I'm packing, or
rather Walton is packing. He's a capital packer."
"Indeed!" sneered Fletcher. "I was not aware that Mr. Walton was in
that line of business. What are his terms?"
"I refer you to him."
"What do you charge for packing trunks, Mr. Walton?"
"I think fifty cents would be about right," answered Harry, with
perfect gravity. "Can you give me a job, Mr. Fletcher?"
"I might, if I had known it in time, though I am particular who
handles my things."
"Walton is careful, and I can vouch for his honesty," said Oscar,
carrying out the joke. "His wages in the printing office are not
large, and he would be glad to make a little extra money."
"It must be very inconvenient to be poor," said Fletcher, with a
supercilious glance at our hero, who was kneeling before Oscar's
"It is," answered Harry, quietly, "but as long as work is to be had I
shall not complain."
"To be sure!" said Fletcher. "My father is wealthy, and I shall not
have to work."
"Suppose he should fail?" suggested Oscar.
"That is a very improbable supposition," said Fletcher, loftily.
"But not impossible?"
"Nothing is impossible."
"Of course. I say, Fitz, if such a thing should happen, you've got
something to fall back upon."
"To what do you refer?"
"Mr. Bickford could give you an interest in the tin business."
"Good-evening!" said Fletcher, not relishing the allusion.
"Good-evening! Of course I shall see you in the city."
"I suppose I ought not to tease Fitz," said Oscar, after his visitor
had departed, "but I enjoy seeing how disgusted he looks."
In due time the trunk was packed, and Harry, not without regret, took
leave of his friend for the summer.
HARRY BECOMES AN AUTHOR.
The closing of the Academy made quite a difference in the life of
Centreville. The number of boarding scholars was about thirty, and
these, though few in number, were often seen in the street and at the
postoffice, and their withdrawal left a vacancy. Harry Walton felt
quite lonely at first; but there is no cure for loneliness like
occupation, and he had plenty of that. The greater part of the day
was spent in the printing office, while his evenings and early
mornings were occupied in study and reading. He had become very much
interested in French, in which he found himself advancing rapidly.
Occasionally he took tea at Mr. Ferguson's, and this he always
enjoyed; for, as I have already said, he and Ferguson held very
similar views on many important subjects. One evening, at the house
of the latter, he saw a file of weekly papers, which proved, on
examination, to be back numbers of the "Weekly Standard," a literary
paper issued in Boston.
"I take the paper for my family," said Ferguson. "It contains quite
a variety of reading matter, stories, sketches and essays."
"It seems quite interesting," said Harry.
"Yes, it is. I will lend you some of the back numbers, if you like."
"I would like it. My father never took a literary paper; his means
were so limited that he could not afford it."
"I think it is a good investment. There are few papers from which
you cannot obtain in a year more than the worth of the subscription.
Besides, if you are going to be an editor, it will be useful for you
to become familiar with the manner in which such papers are
When Harry went home he took a dozen copies of the paper, and sat up
late reading them. While thus engaged an idea struck him. It was
this: Could not he write something which would be accepted for
publication in the "Standard"? It was his great ambition to learn to
write for the press, and he felt that he was old enough to commence.
"If I don't succeed the first time, I can try again," he reflected.
The more he thought of it, the more he liked the plan. It is very
possible that he was influenced by the example of Franklin, who,
while yet a boy in his teens, contributed articles to his brother's
paper though at the time the authorship was not suspected. Finally
he decided to commence writing as soon as he could think of a
suitable subject. This he found was not easy. He could think of
plenty of subjects of which he was not qualified to write, or in
which he felt little interest; but he rightly decided that he could
succeed better with something that had a bearing upon his own
experience or hopes for the future.
Finally he decided to write on Ambition.
I do not propose to introduce Harry's essay in these pages, but will
give a general idea of it, as tending to show his views of life.
He began by defining ambition as a desire for superiority, by which
most men were more or less affected, though it manifested itself in
very different ways, according to the character of him with whom it
was found. Here I will quote a passage, as a specimen of Harry's
style and mode of expression.
"There are some who denounce ambition as wholly bad and to be avoided
by all; but I think we ought to make a distinction between true and
false ambition. The desire of superiority is an honorable motive, if
it leads to honorable exertion. I will mention Napoleon as an
illustration of false ambition, which is selfish in itself, and has
brought misery and ruin, to prosperous nations. Again, there are
some who are ambitious to dress better than their neighbors, and
their principal thoughts are centred upon the tie of their cravat, or
the cut of their coat, if young men; or upon the richness and style
of their dresses, if they belong to the other sex. Beau Brummel is a
noted instance of this kind of ambition. It is said that fully half
of his time was devoted to his toilet, and the other half to
displaying it in the streets, or in society. Now this is a very low
form of ambition, and it is wrong to indulge it, because it is a
waste of time which could be much better employed."
Harry now proceeded to describe what he regarded as a true and
praiseworthy ambition. He defined it as a desire to excel in what
would be of service to the human race, and he instanced his old
Franklin, who, induced by an honorable ambition, worked his way up to
a high civil station, as well as a commanding position in the
scientific world. He mentioned Columbus as ambitious to extend the
limits of geographical knowledge, and made a brief reference to the
difficulties and discouragements over which he triumphed on the way
to success. He closed by an appeal to boys and young men to direct
their ambition into worthy channels, so that even if they could not
leave behind a great name, they might at least lead useful lives, and
in dying have the satisfaction of thinking that they done some
service to the race.
This will give a very fair idea of Harry's essay. There was nothing
remarkable about it, and no striking originality in the ideas, but it
was very creditably expressed for a boy of his years, and did even
more credit to his good judgment, since it was an unfolding of the
principles by which he meant to guide his own life.
It must not be supposed that our hero was a genius, and that he wrote
his essay without difficulty. It occupied him two evenings to write
it, and he employed the third in revising and copying it. It covered
about five pages of manuscript, and, according to his estimate, would
fill about two-thirds of a long column in the "Standard."
After preparing it, the next thing was to find a _nom de plume_, for
he shrank from signing his own name. After long consideration, he at
last decided upon Franklin, and this was the name he signed to his
maiden contribution to the press.
He carried it to the post-office one afternoon, after his work in the
printing office was over, and dropped it unobserved into the
letter-box. He did not want the postmaster to learn his secret, as
he would have done had he received it directly from him, and noted
the address on the envelope.
For the rest of the week, Harry went about his work weighed down with
his important secret--a secret which he had not even shared with
Ferguson. If the essay was declined, as he thought it might very
possibly be, he did not want any one to know it. If it were
accepted, and printed, it would be time enough then to make it known.
But there were few minutes in which his mind was not on his literary
venture. His preoccupation was observed by his fellow-workmen in the
office, and he was rallied upon it, good-naturedly, by Ferguson, but
in a different spirit by Clapp.
"It seems to me you are unusually silent, Harry," said Ferguson.
"You're not in love, are you?"
"Not that I know of," said Harry, smiling. "It's rather too early
"I've known boys of your age to fancy themselves in love."
"He is is more likely thinking up some great discovery," said Clapp,
sneering. "You know he's a second Franklin."
"Thank you for the compliment," said our hero, good-humoredly, "but I
don't deserve it. I don't expect to make any great discovery at
"I suppose you expect to set the river on fire, some day," said
"I am afraid it wouldn't do much good to try," said Harry, who was
too sensible to take offence. "It isn't so easily done."
"I suppose some day we shall be proud of having been in the same
office with so great a man," pursued Clapp.
"Really, Clapp, you're rather hard on our young friend," said
Ferguson. "He doesn't put on any airs of superiority, or pretend to
"He's very kind--such an intellect as he's got, too!" said Clapp.
"I'm glad you found it out," said Harry. "I haven't a very high idea
of my intellect yet. I wish I had more reason to do so."
Finding that he had failed in his attempt to provoke Harry by his
ridicule, Clapp desisted, but he disliked him none the less.
The fact was, that Clapp was getting into a bad way. He had no high
aim in life, and cared chiefly for the pleasure of the present
moment. He had found Luke Harrison a congenial companion, and they
had been associated in more than one excess. The morning previous,
Clapp had entered the printing office so evidently under the
influence of liquor, that he had been sharply reprimanded by Mr.
"I don't choose to interfere with your mode of life, unwise and
ruinous as I may consider it," he said, "as long as it does not
interfere with your discharge of duty. But to-day you are clearly
incapacitated for labor, and I have a right to complain. If it
happens again, I shall be obliged to look for another journeyman."
Clapp did not care to leave his place just at present, for he had no
money saved up, and was even somewhat in debt, and it might be some
time before he got another place. So he rather sullenly agreed to be
more careful in future, and did not go to work till the afternoon.
But though circumstances compelled him to submit, it put him in bad
humor, and made him more disposed to sneer than ever. He had an
unreasoning prejudice against Harry, which was stimulated by Luke
Harrison, who had this very sufficient reason for hating our hero,
that he had succeeded in injuring him. As an old proverb has it "We
are slow to forgive those whom we have injured."
A LITERARY DEBUT.
Harry waited eagerly for the next issue of the "Weekly Standard." It
was received by Mr. Anderson in exchange for the "Centreville
Gazette," and usually came to hand on Saturday morning. Harry was
likely to obtain the first chance of examining the paper, as he was
ordinarily sent to the post-office on the arrival of the morning mail.
His hands trembled as he unfolded the paper and hurriedly scanned the
contents. But he looked in vain for his essay on Ambition. There
was not even a reference to it. He was disappointed, but he soon
became hopeful again.
"I couldn't expect it to appear so soon," he reflected. "These city
weeklies have to be printed some days in advance. It may appear yet."
So he was left in suspense another week, hopeful and doubtful by
turns of the success of his first offering for the press. He was
rallied from time to time on his silence in the office, but he
continued to keep his secret. If his contribution was slighted, no
one should know it but himself.
At last another Saturday morning came around and again he set out for
the post-office. Again he opened the paper with trembling fingers,
and eagerly scanned the well-filled columns. This time his search
was rewarded. There, on the first column of the last page, in all
the glory of print, was his treasured essay!
A flash of pleasure tinged his cheek, and his heart beat rapidly, as
he read his first printed production. It is a great event in the
life of a literary novice, when he first sees himself. Even Byron
"'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's self in print."
To our young hero the essay read remarkably well--better than he had
expected; but then, very likely he was prejudiced in its favor. He
read it through three times on his way back to the printing office,
and each time felt better satisfied.
"I wonder if any of the readers will think it was written by a boy?"
thought Harry. Probably many did so suspect, for, as I have said,
though the thoughts were good and sensible, the article was only
moderately well expressed. A practised critic would readily have
detected marks of immaturity, although it was a very creditable
production for a boy of sixteen.
"Shall I tell Ferguson?" thought Harry.
On the whole he concluded to remain silent just at present. He knew
Ferguson took the paper, and waited to see if he would make any
remark about it.
"I should like to hear him speak of it, without knowing that I was
the writer," thought our hero.
Just before he reached the office, he discovered with satisfaction
the following editorial reference to his article:--
"We print in another column an essay on 'ambition' by a new
contributor. It contains some good ideas, and we especially commend
it to the perusal of our young readers. We hope to hear from
"That's good," thought Harry. "I am glad the editor likes it. I
shall write again as soon as possible."
"What makes you look so bright, Harry?" asked Ferguson, as he
re-entered the office. "Has any one left you a fortune?"
"Not that I know of," said Harry. "Do I look happier than usual?"
"So it seems to me."
Harry was spared answering this question, for Clapp struck in,
grumbling, as usual: "I wish somebody'd leave me a fortune. You
wouldn't see me here long."
"What would you do?" asked his fellow-workman.
"Cut work to begin with. I'd go to Europe and have a jolly time."
"You can do that without a fortune."
"I should like to know how?"
"Be economical, and you can save enough in three years to pay for a
short trip. Bayard Taylor was gone two years, and only spent five
"Oh, hang economy!" drawled Clapp. "It don't suit me. I should like
to know how a feller's going to economize on fifteen dollars a week."
"Oh, no doubt," sneered Clapp, "but a man can't starve."
"Come round and take supper with me, some night," said Ferguson,
good-humoredly, "and you can judge for yourself whether I believe in
Clapp didn't reply to this invitation. He would not have enjoyed a
quiet evening with his fellow-workman. An evening at billiards or
cards, accompanied by bets on the games, would have been much more to
"Who is Bayard Taylor, that made such a cheap tour in Europe?" asked
Harry, soon afterward.
"A young journalist who had a great desire to travel. He has lately
published an account of his tour. I don't buy many books, but I
bought that. Would you like to read it?"
"You can have it any time."
On Monday, a very agreeable surprise awaited Harry.
"I am out of copy," he said, going up to Mr. Anderson's table.
"Here's a selection for the first page," said Mr. Anderson. "Cut it
in two, and give part of it to Clapp."
Could Harry believe his eyes! It was his own article on ambition,
and it was to be reproduced in the "Gazette." Next to the delight of
seeing one's self in print for the first time, is the delight of
seeing that first article copied. It is a mark of appreciation which
cannot be mistaken.
Still Harry said nothing, but, with a manner as unconcerned as
possible, handed the lower half of the essay to Clapp to set up. The
signature "Franklin" had been cut off, and the name of the paper from
which the essay had been cut was substituted.
"Wouldn't Clapp feel disgusted," thought Harry, "if he knew that he
was setting up an article of mine. I believe he would have a fit."
He was too considerate to expose his fellow-workman to such a
contingency, and went about his work in silence.
That evening he wrote to the publisher of the "Standard," inclosing
the price of two copies of the last number, which he desired should
be sent to him by mail. He wished to keep one himself, and the other
he intended to forward to his father, who, he knew, would sympathize
with him in his success as well as his aspirations. He accompanied
the paper by a letter in which he said,--
"I want to improve in writing as much as, I can. I want to be
something more than a printer, sometime. I shall try to qualify
myself for an editor; for an editor can exert a good deal of
influence in the community. I hope you will approve my plans."
In due time Harry received the following reply:--
"My dear son:--I am indeed pleased and proud to hear of your success,
not that it is a great matter in itself, but because I think it shows
that you are in earnest in your determination to win an honorable
position by honorable labor. I am sorry that my narrow means have
not permitted me to give you those advantages which wealthy fathers
can bestow upon their sons. I should like to have sent you to
college and given you an opportunity afterward of studying for a
profession. I think your natural abilities would have justified such
an outlay. But, alas! poverty has always held me back. It shuts out
you, as it has shut out me, from the chance of culture. Your
college, my boy, must be the printing office. If you make the best
of that, you will find that it is no mean instructor. Not Franklin
alone, but many of our most eminent and influential men have
graduated from it.
"You will be glad to hear that we are all well. I have sold the cow
which I bought of Squire Green, and got another in her place that
proves to be much better. We all send much love, and your mother
wishes me to say that she misses you very much, as indeed we all do.
But we know that you are better off in Centreville than you would be
at home, and that helps to make us contented. Don't forget to write
"Your affectionate father,
"P. S.--If you print any more articles, we shall be interested to
Harry read this letter with eager interest. He felt glad that his
father was pleased with him, and it stimulated him to increased
"Poor father!" he said to himself. "He has led a hard life,
cultivating that rocky little farm. It has been hard work and poor
pay with him. I hope there is something better in store for him. If
I ever get rich, or even well off, I will take care that he has an
After the next issue of the "Gazette" had appeared, Harry informed
Ferguson in confidence that he was the author of the article on
"I congratulate you, Harry," said his friend. "It is an excellent
essay, well thought out, and well expressed. I don't wonder, now you
tell me of it. It sounds like you. Without knowing the authorship,
I asked Clapp his opinion of it."
"What did he say?"
"Are you sure it won't hurt your feelings?"
"It may; but I shall get over it. Go ahead."
"He said it was rubbish."
"He would be confirmed in his decision, if he knew that I wrote it,"
"No doubt. But don't let that discourage you. Keep on writing by
all means, and you'll become an editor in time."
FERDINAND B. KENSINGTON.
It has already been mentioned that John Clapp and Luke Harrison were
intimate. Though their occupations differed, one being a printer and
the other a shoemaker, they had similar tastes, and took similar
views of life. Both were discontented with the lot which Fortune had
assigned them. To work at the case, or the shoe-bench, seemed
equally irksome, and they often lamented to each other the hard
necessity which compelled them to it. Suppose we listen to their
conversation, as they walked up the village street, one evening about
this time, smoking cigars.
"I say, Luke," said John Clapp, "I've got tired of this kind of life.
Here I've been in the office a year, and I'm not a cent richer than
when I entered it, besides working like a dog all the while."
"Just my case," said Luke. "I've been shoe-makin' ever since I was
fourteen, and I'll be blest if I can show five dollars, to save my
"What's worse," said Clapp, "there isn't any prospect of anything
better in my case. What's a feller to do on fifteen dollars a week?"
"Won't old Anderson raise your wages?"
"Not he! He thinks I ought to get rich on what he pays me now," and
Clapp laughed scornfully. "If I were like Ferguson, I might. He
never spends a cent without taking twenty-four hours to think it over
My readers, who are familiar with Mr. Ferguson's views and ways of
life, will at once see that this was unjust, but justice cannot be
expected from an angry and discontented man.
"Just so," said Luke. "If a feller was to live on bread and water,
and get along with one suit of clothes a year, he might save
something, but that aint _my_ style."
"It's strange how lucky some men are," said Luke. "They get rich
without tryin'. I never was lucky. I bought a ticket in a lottery
once, but of course I didn't draw anything. Just my luck!"
"So did I," said Clapp, "but I fared no better. It seemed as if
Fortune had a spite against me. Here I am twenty-five years old, and
all I'm worth is two dollars and a half, and I owe more than that to
"You're as rich as I am," said Luke. "I only get fourteen dollars a
week. That's less than you do."
"A dollar more or less don't amount to much," said Clapp. "I'll tell
you what it is, Luke," he resumed after a pause, "I'm getting sick of
"So am I," said Luke, "but it don't make much difference. If I had
fifty dollars, I'd go off and try my luck somewhere else, but I'll
have to wait till I'm gray-headed before I get as much as that."
"Can't you borrow it?"
"Who'd lend it to me?"
"I don't know. If I did, I'd go in for borrowing myself. I wish
there was some way of my getting to California."
"California!" repeated Luke with interest. "What would you do there?"
"I'd go to the mines."
"Do you think there's money to be made there?"
"I know there is," said Clapp, emphatically.
"How do you know it?"
"There's an old school-mate of mine--Ralph Smith--went out there two
years ago. Last week he returned home--I heard it in a letter--and
how much do you think he brought with him?"
"Eight thousand dollars!"
"Eight thousand dollars! He didn't make it all at the mines, did he?"
"Yes, he did. When he went out there, he had just money enough to
pay his passage. Now, after only two years, he can lay off and live
like a gentleman."
"He's been lucky, and no mistake."
"You bet he has. But we might be as lucky if we were only out there."
"Ay, there's the rub. A fellow can't travel for nothing."
At this point in their conversation, a well-dressed young man,
evidently a stranger in the village, met them, and stopping, asked
politely for a light.
This Clapp afforded him.
"You are a stranger in the village?" he said, with some curiosity.
"Yes, I was never here before. I come from New York."
"Indeed! If I lived in New York I'd stay there, and not come to such
a beastly place as Centreville."
"Do you live here?" asked the stranger.
"I wonder you live in such a beastly place," he said, with a smile.
"You wouldn't, if you knew the reason."
"What is the reason?"
"I can't get away."
The stranger laughed.
"Cruel parents?" he asked.
"Not much," said Clapp. "The plain reason is, that I haven't got
money enough to get me out of town."
"It's the same with me," said Luke Harrison.
"Gentlemen, we are well met," said the stranger. "I'm hard up
"You don't look like it," said Luke, glancing at his rather flashy
"These clothes are not paid for," said the stranger, laughing; "and
what's more, I don't think they are likely to be. But, I take it,
you gentlemen are better off than I in one respect. You've got
situations--something to do."
"Yes, but on starvation pay," said Clapp. "I'm in the office of the
"And I'm in a shoemaker's shop. It's a beastly business for a young
man of spirit," said Luke.
"Well, I'm a gentleman at large, living on my wits, and pretty poor
living it is sometimes," said the stranger. "As I think we'll agree
together pretty well, I'm glad I've met you. We ought to know each
other better. There's my card."
He drew from his pocket a highly glazed piece of pasteboard, bearing
FREDERICK B. KENSINGTON.
"I haven't any cards with me," said Clapp, "but my name is John
"And mine is Luke Harrison," said the bearer of that appellation.
"I'm proud to know you, gentlemen. If you have no objection, we'll
walk on together."
To this Clapp and Luke acceded readily. Indeed, they were rather
proud of being seen in company with a young man so dashing in manner,
and fashionably dressed, though in a pecuniary way their new
acquaintance, by his own confession, was scarcely as well off as
"Where are you staying, Mr. Kensington?" said Clapp.
"At the hotel. It's a poor place. No style."
"Of course not. I can't help wondering, Mr. Kensington, what can
bring you to such a one-horse place as this."
"I don't mind telling you, then. The fact is, I've got an old aunt
living about two miles from here. She's alone in the world--got
neither chick nor child--and is worth at least ten thousand dollars.
Do you see?"
"I think I do," said Clapp. "You want to come in for a share of the
"Yes; I want to see if I can't get something out of the old girl,"
said Kensington, carelessly.
"Do you think the chance is good?"
"I don't know. I hear she's pretty tight-fisted. But I've run on
here on the chance of doing something. If she will only make me her
heir, and give me five hundred dollars in hand, I'll go to
California, and see what'll turn up."
"California!" repeated John Clapp and Luke in unison.
"Yes; were you ever there?"
"No; but we were talking of going there just as you came up," said
John. "An old school-mate of mine has just returned from there with
eight thousand dollars in gold."
"Lucky fellow! That's the kind of haul I'd like to make."
"Do you know how much it costs to go out there?"
"The prices are down just at present. You can go for a hundred
"It might as well be a thousand!" said Luke. "Clapp and I can't
raise a hundred dollars apiece to save our lives."
"I'll tell you what," said Kensington. "You two fellows are just the
company I'd like. If I can raise five hundred dollars out of the old
girl, I'll take you along with me, and you can pay me after you get
John Clapp and Luke Harrison were astounded at this liberal offer
from a perfect stranger, but they had no motives of delicacy about
accepting it. They grasped the hand of their new friend, and assured
him that nothing would suit them so well.
"All right!" said Kensington. "Then it's agreed. Now, boys, suppose
we go round to the tavern, and ratify our compact by a drink."
"I say amen to that," answered Clapp, "but I insist on standing
"Just as you say," said Kensington. "Come along."
It was late when the three parted company. Luke and John Clapp were
delighted with their new friend, and, as they staggered home with
uncertain steps, they indulged in bright visions of future prosperity.
Miss Deborah Kensington sat in an old-fashioned rocking-chair covered
with a cheap print, industriously engaged in footing a stocking. She
was a maiden lady of about sixty, with a thin face, thick seamed with
wrinkles, a prominent nose, bridged by spectacles, sharp gray eyes,
and thin lips. She was a shrewd New England woman, who knew very
well how to take care of and increase the property which she had
inherited. Her nephew had been correctly informed as to her being