This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1893
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

to play the part of the bluff and unsuspecting country visitor.

“You are very kind, Mr. Wheeler,” he said, “to take so much trouble for a stranger.”

“My dear sir,” said Wheeler effusively, “I wouldn’t do it for many persons, but I have taken a fancy to you.”

“You don’t mean so?” said Pettigrew, appearing pleased?

“Yes, I do, on my honor.”

“But I don’t see why you should. You are a polished city gentleman and I am an ignorant miner from Montana.”

Louis Wheeler looked complacent when he was referred to as a polished city gentleman.

“You do yourself injustice, my dear Pettigrew,” he said in a patronizing manner. “You do indeed. You may not be polished, but you are certainly smart, as you have shown by accumulating a fortune.”

“But I am not as rich as you.”

“Perhaps not, but if I should lose my money, I could not make another fortune, while I am sure you could. Don’t you think it would be a good plan for us to start a business together in New York?”

“Would you really be willing to go into business with me?”

Jefferson Pettigrew asked this question with so much apparent sincerity that Wheeler was completely deceived.

“I’ve got him dead!” he soliloquized complacently.

He hooked his arm affectionately in the Montana miner’s and said, “My dear friend, I have never met a man with whom I would rather be associated in business than with you. How much capital could you contribute?”

“I will think it over, Mr. Wheeler. By the way what business do you propose that we shall go into?”

“I will think it over and report to you.”

By this time they had reached the theater. The play soon commenced. Mr. Pettigrew enjoyed it highly, for he had not had much opportunity at the West of attending a high class theatrical performance.

When the play ended, Louis Wheeler said, “Suppose we go to Delmonico’s and have a little refreshment.”

“Very well.”

They adjourned to the well known restaurant, and Mr. Pettigrew ordered an ice and some cakes, but his companion made a hearty supper. When the bill came, Louis Wheeler let it lie on the table, but Mr. Pettigrew did not appear to see it.

“I wonder if he expects me to pay for it,” Wheeler asked himself anxiously.

“Thank you for this pleasant little supper,” said Pettigrew mischievously. “Delmonico’s is certainly a fine place.”

Wheeler changed color. He glanced at the check. It was for two dollars and seventy five cents, and this represented a larger sum than he possessed.

He took the check and led the way to the cashier’s desk. Then he examined his pockets.

“By Jove,” he said, “I left my wallet in my other coat. May I borrow five dollars till tomorrow?”

Jefferson Pettigrew eyed him shrewdly. “Never mind,” he said, “I will pay the check.”

“I am very much ashamed of having put you to this expense.”

“If that is all you have to be ashamed of Mr. Wheeler,” said the miner pointedly, “you can rest easy.”

“What do you mean?” stammered Wheeler.

“Wait till we get into the street, and I will tell you.”

They went out at the Broadway entrance, and then Mr. Pettigrew turned to his new acquaintance.

“I think I will bid you good night and good by at the same time, Mr. Wheeler,” he said.

“My dear sir, I hoped you won’t misjudge me on account of my unfortunately leaving my money at home.”

“I only wish to tell you that I have not been taken in by your plausible statement, Mr. Wheeler, if that is really your name. Before we started for the theater I had gauged you and taken your measure.”

“Sir, I hope you don’t mean to insult me!” blustered Wheeler.

“Not at all. You have been mistaken in me, but I am not mistaken in you. I judge you to be a gentlemanly adventurer, ready to take advantage of any who have money and are foolish enough to be gulled by your tricks. You are welcome to the profit you made out of the theater tickets, also to the little supper to which you have done so much justice. I must request you, now, however, to devote yourself to some one else, as I do not care to meet you again.”

Louis Wheeler slunk away, deciding that he had made a great mistake in setting down his Montana acquaintance as an easy victim.

“I didn’t think he’d get on to my little game so quick,” he reflected. “He’s sharper than he looks,”

Rodney took breakfast with Mr. Pettigrew the next morning. When breakfast was over, the Montana man said:

“I’m going to make a proposal to you, Rodney. How much pay did you get at your last place?”

“Seven dollars a week.”

“I’ll pay you that and give you your meals. In return I want you to keep me company and go about with me.”

“I shall not be apt to refuse such an offer as that, Mr. Pettigrew, but are you sure you prefer me to Mr. Wheeler?” laughed Rodney.

“Wheeler be–blessed!” returned the miner.

“How long are you going to stay in New York?”

“About two weeks. Then I shall go back to Montana and take you with me.”

“Thank you. There is nothing I should like better.”

Two days later, as the two were walking along Broadway, they met Mr. Wheeler. The latter instantly recognized his friend from Montana, and scrutinized closely his young companion.

Rodney’s face looked strangely familiar to him, but somehow he could not recollect when or under what circumstances he had met him. He did not, however, like to give up his intended victim, but had the effrontery to address the man from Montana.

“I hope you are well, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“Thank you, I am very well.”

“I hope you are enjoying yourself. I should be glad to show you the sights. Have you been to Grants Tomb?”

“Not yet.”

“I should like to take you there.”

“Thank you, but I have a competent guide.”

“Won’t you introduce me to the young gentleman?”

“I don’t require any introduction to you, Mr. Wheeler,” said Rodney.

“Where have I met you before?” asked Wheeler abruptly.

“In the cars. I had a box of jewelry with me,” answered Rodney significantly.

Louis Wheeler changed color. Now he remembered Rodney, and he was satisfied that he owed to him the coolness with which the Western man had treated him.

“I remember you had,” he said spitefully, “but I don’t know how you came by it.”

“It isn’t necessary that you should know. I remember I had considerable difficulty in getting it out of your hands.”

“Mr. Pettigrew,” said Wheeler angrily, “I feel interested in you, and I want to warn you against the boy who is with you. He is a dangerous companion.”

“I dare say you are right,” said Pettigrew in a quizzical tone. “I shall look after him sharply, and I thank you for your kind and considerate warning. I don’t care to take up any more of your valuable time. Rodney, let us be going.”

“It must have been the kid that exposed me,” muttered Wheeler, as he watched the two go down the street. “I will get even with him some time. That man would have been good for a thousand dollars to me if I had not been interfered with.”

“You have been warned against me, Mr. Pettigrew,” said Rodney, laughing. “Mr. Wheeler has really been very unkind in interfering with my plans.”

“I shan’t borrow any trouble, or lie awake nights thinking about it, Rodney. I don’t care to see or think of that rascal again.”

The week passed, and the arrangement between Mr. Pettigrew and Rodney continued to their mutual satisfaction. One morning, when Rodney came to the Continental as usual, his new friend said: “I received a letter last evening from my old home in Vermont.”

“I hope it contained good news.”

“On the contrary it contained bad news. My parents are dead, but I have an old uncle and aunt living. When I left Burton he was comfortably fixed, with a small farm of his own, and two thousand dollars in bank. Now I hear that he is in trouble. He has lost money, and a knavish neighbor has threatened to foreclose a mortgage on the farm and turn out the old people to die or go to the poorhouse.”

“Is the mortgage a large one?”

“It is much less than the value of the farm, but ready money is scarce in the town, and that old Sheldon calculates upon. Now I think of going to Burton to look up the matter.”

“You must save your uncle, if you can, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“I can and I will. I shall start for Boston this afternoon by the Fall River boat and I want you to go with me.”

“I should enjoy the journey, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“Then it is settled. Go home and pack your gripsack. You may be gone three or four days.”



“Now,” said Mr. Pettigrew, when they were sitting side by side on the upper deck of the Puritan, the magnificent steamer on the Fall River line. “I want you to consent to a little plan that will mystify my old friends and neighbors.”

“What is it, Mr. Pettigrew?”

“I have never written home about my good fortune; so far as they know I am no better off than when I went away.”

“I don’t think I could have concealed my success.”

“It may seem strange, but I’ll explain–I want to learn who are my friends and who are not. I am afraid I wasn’t very highly thought of when I left Burton. I was considered rather shiftless.

“I was always in for a good time, and never saved a cent. Everybody predicted that I would fail, and I expect most wanted me to fail. There were two or three, including my uncle, aunt and the friend who lent me money, who wished me well.

“I mustn’t forget to mention the old minister who baptized me when I was an infant. The good old man has been preaching thirty or forty years on a salary of four hundred dollars, and has had to run a small farm to make both ends meet. He believed in me and gave me good advice. Outside of these I don’t remember any one who felt an interest in Jefferson Pettigrew.”

“You will have the satisfaction of letting them see that they did not do you justice.”

“Yes, but I may not tell them–that is none except my true friends. If I did, they would hover round me and want to borrow money, or get me to take them out West with me. So I have hit upon a plan. I shall want to use money, but I will pretend it is yours.”

Rodney opened his eyes in surprise.

“I will pass you off as a rich friend from New York, who feels an interest in me and is willing to help me.”

Rodney smiled.

“I don’t know if I can look the character,” he said.

“Oh yes you can. You are nicely dressed, while I am hardly any better dressed than when I left Burton.”

“I have wondered why you didn’t buy some new clothes when you were able to afford it.”

“You see we Western miners don’t care much for style, perhaps not enough. Still I probably shall buy a suit or two, but not till I have made my visit home. I want to see how people will receive me, when they think I haven’t got much money. I shall own up to about five hundred dollars, but that isn’t enough to dazzle people even in a small country village.”

“I am wiling to help you in any way you wish, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“Then I think we shall get some amusement out of it. I shall represent you as worth about a hundred thousand dollars.”

“I wish I were.”

“Very likely you will be some time if you go out to Montana with me.”

“How large a place is Burton?”

“It has not quite a thousand inhabitants. It is set among the hills, and has but one rich man, Lemuel Sheldon, who is worth perhaps fifty thousand dollars, but put on the airs of a millionaire.”

“You are as rich as he, then.”

“Yes, and shall soon be richer. However, I don’t want him to know it. It is he who holds the mortgage on my uncle’s farm.”

“Do you know how large the mortgage is?”

“It is twelve hundred dollars. I shall borrow the money of you to pay it.”

“I understand,” said Rodney, smiling.

“I shall enjoy the way the old man will look down upon me very much as a millionaire looks down upon a town pauper.”

“How will he look upon me?”

“He will be very polite to you, for he will think you richer than himself.”

“On the whole, we are going to act a comedy, Mr. Pettigrew. What is the name of the man who lent you money to go to Montana?”

“A young carpenter, Frank Dobson. He lent me a hundred dollars, which was about all the money he had saved up.”

“He was a true friend.”

“You are right. He was. Everybody told Frank that he would never see his money again, but he did. As soon as I could get together enough to repay him I sent it on, though I remember it left me with less than ten dollars in my pocket.

“I couldn’t bear to think that Frank would lose anything by me. You see we were chums at school and always stood by each other. He is married and has two children.”

“While you are an old bachelor.”

“Yes; I ain’t in a hurry to travel in double harness. I’ll wait till I am ready to leave Montana, with money enough to live handsomely at home.”

“You have got enough now.”

“But I may as well get more. I am only thirty years old, and I can afford to work a few years longer.”

“I wish I could be sure of being worth fifty thousand dollars when I am your age.”

“You have been worth that, you tell me.”

“Yes, but I should value more money that I had made myself.”

Above five o’clock on Monday afternoon Mr. Pettigrew and Rodney reached Burton. It was a small village about four miles from the nearest railway station. An old fashioned Concord stage connected Burton with the railway. The driver was on the platform looking out for passengers when Jefferson Pettigrew stepped out of the car.

“How are you, Hector?” said the miner, in an off hand way.

“Why, bless my soul if it isn’t Jeff!” exclaimed the driver, who had been an old schoolmate of Mr. Pettigrew’s.

“I reckon it is,” said the miner, his face lighting up with the satisfaction he felt at seeing a home face.

“Why, you ain’t changed a mite, Jeff. You look just as you did when you went away. How long have you been gone?”

“Four years!”

“Made a fortune? But you don’t look like it. That’s the same suit you wore when you went away, isn’t it?”

Mr. Pettigrew laughed.

“Well no, it isn’t the same, but it’s one of the same kind.”

“I thought maybe you’d come home in a dress suit.”

“It isn’t so easy to make a fortune, Hector.”

“But you have made something, ain’t you?”

“Oh, yes, when I went away I hadn’t a cent except what I borrowed. Now I’ve got five hundred dollars.”

“That ain’t much.”

“No, but it’s better than nothing. How much more have you got, Hector?”

“Well, you see I married last year. I haven’t had a chance to lay by.”

“So you see I did as well as if I had stayed at home.”

“Are you going to stay home now?”

“For a little while. I may go back to Montana after a bit.”

“Is it a good place to make money?”

“I made five hundred dollars.”

“Thats only a little more than a hundred dollars a year.

Frank Dobson has saved as much as that and he’s stayed right here in Burton.”

“I’m glad of that,” said Pettigrew heartily. “Frank is a rousing good fellow. If it hadn’t been for him I couldn’t have gone to Montana.”

“It doesn’t seem to have done you much good, as I can see.”

“Oh, well, I am satisfied. Let me introduce my friend, Mr. Rodney Ropes of New York.”

“Glad to meet you,” said Hector with a jerk of the head.

“Rodney, won’t you sit inside? I want to sit outide with Hector.”

“All right, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“Who is that boy?” asked Hector with characteristic Yankee curiosity, as he seized the lines and started the horses.

“A rich young fellow from New York. I got acquainted with him there.”

“Rich is he?” Jefferson Pettigrew nodded.

“How rich do you think?”

“Shouldn’t wonder if he might be worth a hundred thousand.”

“You don’t say! Why, he beat Squire Sheldon.”

“Oh, yes, Squire Sheldon wouldn’t be considered rich in New York.”

“How did he get his money?”

“His father left him a fortune.”

“Is that so? I wish my father had left me a fortune.”

“He did, didn’t he?”

“Yes, he did! When his estate was settled I got seventy five dollars, if you call that a fortune. But I say, what brings the boy to Burton?”

“His friendship for me, I expect. Besides he may invest in a place.”

“There’s the old Morse place for sale. Do you think he’d buy that?”

“It wouldn’t be nice enough for him. I don’t know any place that would be good enough except the squire’s.”

“The squire wouldn’t sell.”

“Oh, well, I don’t know as Rodney would care to locate in Burton.”

“You’re in luck to get such a friend. Say, do you think he would lend you a hundred dollars if you were hard up?”

“I know he would. By the way, Hector, is there any news? How is my uncle?”

“I think the old man is worrying on account of his mortgage.”

“Who holds it?”

“The squire. They do say he is goin’ to foreclose. That’ll be bad for the old man. It’ll nigh about break his heart I expect.”

“Can’t uncle raise the money to pay him?”

“Who is there round here who has got any money except the squire?”

“That’s so.”

“Where are you goin’ to stop, Jeff?”

“I guess I’ll stop at the tavern tonight, but I’ll go over and call on uncle this evening.”



News spreads fast in a country village. Scarcely an hour had passed when it was generally known that Jefferson Pettigrew had come home from Montana with a few hundred dollars in money, bringing with him a rich boy who could buy out all Burton. At least that is the way the report ran.

When the two new arrivals had finished supper and come out on the hotel veranda there were a dozen of Jefferson Pettigrew’s friends ready to welcome him.

“How are you, Jefferson, old boy?” said one and another.

“Pretty well, thank you. It seems good to be home.”

“I hear you’ve brought back some money.”

“Yes, a few hundred dollars.”

“That’s better than nothing. I reckon you’ll stay home now.”

“I can’t afford it, boys.”

“Are ye goin’ back to Montany?”

“Yes. I know the country, and I can make a middlin’ good livin’ there.”

“I say, is that boy thats with you as rich as they say?”

“I don’t know what they say.”

“They say he’s worth a million.”

“Oh no, not so much as that. He’s pretty well fixed.”

“Hasn’t he got a father livin’?”

“No, it’s his father that left the money.”

“How did you happen to get in with him?”

“Oh, we met promiscuous. He took a sort of fancy to me, and that’s the way of it.”

“Do you expect to keep him with you?”

“He talks of goin’ back to Montana with me. I’ll be sort of guardian to him.”

“You’re in luck, Jeff.”

“Yes, I’m in luck to have pleasant company. Maybe we’ll join together and buy a mine.”

“Would you mind introducin’ him?”

“Not at all,” and thus Rodney became acquainted with quite a number of the Burton young men. He was amused to see with what deference they treated him, but preserved a sober face and treated all cordially, so that he made a favorable impression on those he met.

Among those who made it in their way to call on the two travelers was Lemuel Sheldon, the rich man of the village.

“How do you do, Jefferson?” he said condescendingly.

“Very well, sir.”

“You have been quite a traveler.”

“Yes, sir; I have been to the far West.”

“And met with some success, I am told.”

“Yes, sir; I raised money enough to get home.”

“I hear you brought home a few hundred dollars.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Oh, well,” said the squire patronizingly, “that’s good beginning.”

“It must seem very little to a rich man like you, squire.”

“Oh, no!” said the squire patronizingly. “You are a young man. I shouldn’t wonder if by the time you get as old as I am you might be worth five thousand dollars.”

“I hope so,” answered Mr. Pettigrew demurely.

“By the way, you have brought a young man with you, I am told.”


“I should like to make his acquaintance. He is rich, is he not?”

“I wish I was as rich.”

“You don’t say so! About how much do you estimate he is worth?”

“I don’t think it amounts to quite as much as a quarter of a million. Still, you know it is not always easy to tell how much a person is worth.”

“He is certainly a VERY fortunate young man,” said the squire, impressed. “What is his name?”

“Rodney Ropes.”

“The name sounds aristocratic. I shall be glad to know him.”

“Rodney,” said Mr. Pettigrew. “I want to introduce you to Squire Sheldon, our richest and most prominent citizen.”

“I am glad to meet you, Squire Sheldon,” said Rodney, offering his hand.

“I quite reciprocate the feeling, Mr. Ropes, but Mr. Pettigrew should not call me a rich man. I am worth something, to be sure.”

“I should say you were, squire,” said Jefferson. “Rodney, he is as rich as you are.”

“Oh no,” returned the squire, modestly, “not as rich as that. Indeed, I hardly know how much I am worth. As Mr. Pettigrew very justly observed it is not easy to gauge a man’s possessions. But there is one difference between us. You, Mr. Ropes, I take it, are not over eighteen.”

“Only sixteen, sir.”

“And yet you are wealthy. I am rising fifty. When you come to my age you will be worth much more.”

“Perhaps I may have lost all I now possess,” said Rodney. “Within a year I have lost fifty thousand dollars.”

“You don’t say so.”

“Yes; it was through a man who had charge of my property. I think now I shall manage my money matters myself.”

“Doubtless you are right. That was certainly a heavy loss. I shouldn’t like to lose so much. I suppose, however, you had something left?”

“Oh yes,” answered Rodney in an indifferent tone.

“He must be rich to make so little account of fifty thousand dollars,” thought the squire.

“How long do you propose to stay in town, Mr. Pettigrew?” he asked.

“I can’t tell, sir, but I don’t think I can spare more than three or four days.”

“May I hope that you and Mr. Ropes will take supper with me tomorrow evening?”

“Say the next day and we’ll come. Tomorrow I must go to my uncle’s.”

“Oh very well!”

Squire Sheldon privately resolved to pump Rodney as to the investment of his property. He was curious to learn first how much the boy was worth, for if there was anything that the squire worshiped it was wealth. He was glad to find that Mr. Pettigrew had only brought home five hundred dollars, as it was not enough to lift the mortgage on his uncle’s farm.

After they were left alone Jefferson Pettigrew turned to Rodney and said, “Do you mind my leaving you a short time and calling at my uncle’s?”

“Not at all, Mr. Pettigrew. I can pass my time very well.”

Jefferson Pettigrew directed his steps to an old fashioned farmhouse about half a mile from the village. In the rear the roof sloped down so that the eaves were only five feet from the ground. The house was large though the rooms were few in number.

In the sitting room sat an old man and his wife, who was nearly as old. It was not a picture of cheerful old age, for each looked sad. The sadness of old age is pathetic for there is an absence of hope, and courage, such as younger people are apt to feel even when they are weighed down by trouble.

Cyrus Hooper was seventy one, his wife two years younger. During the greater part of their lives they had been well to do, if not prosperous, but now their money was gone, and there was a mortgage on the old home which they could not pay.

“I don’t know whats goin’ to become of us, Nancy,” said Cyrus Hooper. “We’ll have to leave the old home, and when the farm’s been sold there won’t be much left over and above the mortgage which Louis Sheldon holds.”

“Don’t you think the squire will give you a little more time, Cyrus?”

“No; I saw him yesterday, and he’s sot on buyin’ in the farm for himself. He reckons it won’t fetch more’n eighteen hundred dollars.”

“Thats only six hundred over the mortgage.”

“It isn’t that Nancy. There’s about a hundred dollars due in interest. We won’t get more’n five hundred dollars.”

“Surely, Cyrus, the farm is worth three thousand dollars.”

“So it is, Nancy, but that won’t do us any good, as long as no one wants it more’n the squire.”

“I wish Jefferson were at home.”

“What good would it do? I surmise he hasn’t made any money. He never did have much enterprise, that boy.”

“He was allus a good boy, Cyrus.”

“That’s so, Nancy, but he didn’t seem cut out for makin’ money. Still it would do me good to see him. Maybe we might have a home together, and manage to live.”

Just then a neighbor entered.

“Have you heard the news?” she asked.

“No; what is it?”

“Your nephew Jefferson Pettigrew has got back.”

“You don’t mean so. There, Jefferson, that’s one comfort.”

“And they say he has brought home five hundred dollars.”

“That’s more’n I thought he’d bring. Where is he?”

“Over at the tavern. He’s brought a young man with him, leastways a boy, that’s got a lot of money.”

“The boy?”

“Yes; he’s from New York, and is a friend of Jefferson’s.”

“Well, I’m glad he’s back. Why didn’t he come here?”

“It’s likely he would if the boy wasn’t with him.”

“Perhaps he heard of my misfortune.”

“I hope it’ll all come right, Mr. Hooper. My, if there ain’t Jefferson comin’ to see you now. I see him through the winder. I guess I’ll be goin’. You’ll want to see him alone.”



“How are you, Uncle Cyrus?” said Jefferson Pettigrew heartily, as he clasped his uncle’s toil worn hand. “And Aunt Nancy, too! It pays me for coming all the way from Montana just to see you.”

“I’m glad to see you, Jefferson,” said his uncle. “It seems a long time since you went away. I hope you’ve prospered.”

“Well, uncle, I’ve brought myself back well and hearty, and I’ve got a few hundred dollars.”

“I’m glad to hear it, Jefferson. You’re better off than when you went away.”

“Yes, uncle. I couldn’t be much worse off. Then I hadn’t a cent that I could call my own. But how are you and Aunt Nancy?”

“We’re gettin’ old, Jefferson, and misfortune has come to us. Squire Sheldon has got a mortgage on the farm and it’s likely we’ll be turned out. You’ve come just in time to see it.”

“Is it so bad as that, Uncle Cyrus? Why, when I went away you were prosperous.”

“Yes, Jefferson, I owned the farm clear, and I had money in the bank, but now the money’s gone and there’s a twelve hundred dollar mortgage on the old place,” and the old man sighed.

“But how did it come about uncle? You and Aunt Nancy haven’t lived extravagantly, have you? Aunt Nancy, you haven’t run up a big bill at the milliner’s and dressmaker’s?”

“You was always for jokin’, Jefferson,” said the old lady, smiling faintly; “but that is not the way our losses came.”

“How then?”

“You see I indorsed notes for Sam Sherman over at Canton, and he failed, and I had to pay. then I bought some wild cat minin’ stock on Sam’s recommendation, and that went down to nothin’. So between the two I lost about three thousand dollars. I’ve been a fool, Jefferson, and it would have been money in my pocket if I’d had a guardeen.”

“So you mortgaged the place to Squire Sheldon, uncle?”

“Yes; I had to. I was obliged to meet my notes.”

“But surely the squire will extend the mortgage.”

“No, he won’t. I’ve asked him. He says he must call in the money, and so the old place will have to be sold, and Nancy and I must turn out in our old age.”

Again the old man sighed, and tears came into Nancy Hooper’s eyes.

“There’ll be something left, won’t there, Uncle Cyrus?”

“Yes, the place should bring six hundred dollars over and above the mortgage. That’s little enough, for it’s worth three thousand.”

“So it is, Uncle Cyrus. But what can you do with six hundred dollars? It won’t support you and Aunt Nancy?”

“I thought mebbe, Jefferson, I could hire a small house and you could board with us, so that we could still have a home together.”

“I’ll think it over, uncle, if there is no other way. But are you sure Squire Sheldon won’t give you more time?”

“No, Jefferson. I surmise he wants the place himself. There’s talk of a railroad from Sherborn, and that’ll raise the price of land right around here. It’ll probably go right through the farm just south of the three acre lot.”

“I see, Uncle Cyrus. You ought to have the benefit of the rise in value.”

“Yes, Jefferson, it would probably rise enough to pay off the mortgage, but its no use thinkin’ of it. The old farm has got to go.”

“I don’t know about that, Uncle Cyrus.”

“Why, Jefferson, you haven’t money enough to lift the mortgage!” said the old man, with faint hope.

“If I haven’t I may get it for you. Tell me just how much money is required.”

“Thirteen hundred dollars, includin’ interest.”

“Perhaps you have heard that I have a boy with me–a boy from New York, named Rodney Ropes. He has money, and perhaps I might get him to advance the sum you want.”

“Oh, Jefferson, if you only could!” exclaimed Aunt Nancy, clasping her thin hands. “It would make us very happy.”

“I’ll see Rodney tonight and come over tomorrow morning and tell you what he says. On account of the railroad I shall tell him that it is a good investment. I suppose you will be willing to mortgage the farm to him for the same money that he pays to lift the present mortgage?”

“Yes, Jefferson, I’ll be willin’ and glad. It’ll lift a great burden from my shoulders. I’ve been worryin’ at the sorrow I’ve brought upon poor Nancy, for she had nothing to do with my foolish actions. I was old enough to know better, Jefferson, and I’m ashamed of what I did.”

“Well, Uncle Cyrus, I’ll do what I can for you. Now let us forget all about your troubles and talk over the village news. You know I’ve been away for four years, and I haven’t had any stiddy correspondence, so a good deal must have happened that I don’t know anything about. I hear Frank Dobson has prospered?”

“Yes, Frank’s pretty forehanded. He’s got a good economical wife, and they’ve laid away five or six hundred dollars in the savings bank.”

“I am glad of it. Frank is a good fellow. If it hadn’t been for him I couldn’t have gone to Montana. When he lent me the money everybody said he’d lose it, but I was bound to pay it if I had to live on one meal a day. He was the only man in town who believed in me at that time.”

“You was a littless shif’less, Jefferson. You can’t blame people. I wasn’t quite sure myself how you’d get along.”

“No doubt you are right, Uncle Cyrus. It did me good to leave town. I didn’t drink, but I had no ambition. When a man goes to a new country it’s apt to make a new man of him. That was the case with me.”

“Are you goin’ back again, Jefferson?”

“Yes, uncle. I’m going to stay round here long enough to fix up your affairs and get you out of your trouble. Then I’ll go back to the West. I have a little mining interest there and I can make more money there than I can here.”

“If you can get me out of my trouble, Jefferson, I’ll never forget it. Nancy and I have been so worried that we couldn’t sleep nights, but now I’m beginnin’ to be a little more cheerful.”

Jefferson Pettigrew spent another hour at his uncle’s house, and then went back to the tavern, where he found Rodney waiting for him. He explained briefly the part he wished his boy friend to take in his plan for relieving his uncle.

“I shall be receiving credit to which I am not entitled,” said Rodney. “Still, if it will oblige you I am willing to play the part of the boy capitalist.”

The next morning after breakfast the two friends walked over to the house of Cyrus Hooper. Aunt Nancy came to the door and gave them a cordial welcome.

“Cyrus is over at the barn, Jefferson,” she said. “I’ll ring the bell and he’ll come in.”

“No, Aunt Nancy, I’ll go out and let him know I am here.”

Presently Cyrus Hooper came in, accompanied by Jefferson.

“Uncle Cyrus,” said the miner, “let me introduce you to my friend Rodney Ropes, of New York.”

“I’m glad to see you,” said Cyrus heartily. “I’m glad to see any friend of Jefferson’s,”

“Thank you, sir. I am pleased to meet you.”

“Jefferson says you are goin’ to Montany with him.”

“I hope to do so. I am sure I shall enjoy myself in his company.”

“How far is Montany, Jefferson?”

“It is over two thousand miles away, Uncle Cyrus.”

“It must be almost at the end of the world. I don’t see how you can feel at home so far away from Vermont.”

Jefferson smiled.

“I can content myself wherever I can make a good living,” he said. “Wouldn’t you like to go out and make me a visit?”

“No, Jefferson, I should feel that it was temptin’ Providence to go so far at my age.”

“You never were very far from Burton, Uncle Cyrus?”

“I went to Montpelier once,” answered the old man with evident pride. “It is a nice sizable place. I stopped at the tavern, and had a good time.”

It was the only journey the old man had ever made, and he would never forget it.

“Uncle Cyrus,” said Jefferson, “this is the young man who I thought might advance you money on a new mortgage. Suppose we invite him to go over the farm, and take a look at it so as to see what he thinks of the investment.”

“Sartain, Jefferson, sartain! I do hope Mr. Ropes you’ll look favorable on the investment. It is Jefferson’s idea, but it would be doin’ me a great favor.”

“Mr. Pettigrew will explain the advantages of the farm as we go along,” said Rodney.

So they walked from field to field, Jefferson expatiating to his young friend upon the merits of the investment, Rodney asking questions now and then to carry out his part of the shrewd and careful boy capitalist.

When they had made a tour of the farm Jefferson said: “Well, Rodney, what do you think of the investment?”

“I am satisfied with it,” answered Rodney. “Mr. Hooper, I will advance you the money on the conditions mentioned by my friend, Mr. Pettigrew.”

Tears of joy came into the eyes of Cyrus Hooper and his worn face showed relief.

“I am very grateful, young man,” he said. “I will see that you don’t regret your kindness.”

“When will Squire Sheldon be over to settle matters, Uncle Cyrus?” asked Jefferson.

“He is comin’ this afternoon at two o’clock.”

“Then Rodney and I will be over to take part in the business.”



On the morning of the same day Squire Sheldon sat in his study when the servant came in and brought a card.

“It’s a gentleman thats come to see you, sir,” she said.

Lemuel Sheldon’s eye brightened when he saw the name, for it was that of a railroad man who was interested in the proposed road from Sherborn.

“I am glad to see you, Mr. Caldwell,” he said cordially, rising to receive his guest. “What is the prospect as regards the railroad?”

“I look upon it as a certainty,” answered Enoch Caldwell, a grave, portly man of fifty.

“And it is sure to pass through our town?”

“Yes, I look upon that as definitely decided.”

“The next question is as to the route it will take,” went on the squire. “Upon that point I should like to offer a few suggestions.”

“I shall be glad to receive them. In fact, I may say that my report will probably be accepted, and I shall be glad to consult you.”

“Thank you. I appreciate the compliment you pay me, and, though I say it, I don’t think you could find any one more thoroughly conversant with the lay of the land and the most advisable route to follow. If you will put on your hat we will go out together and I will give you my views.”

“I shall be glad to do so.”

The two gentlemen took a leisurely walk through the village, going by Cyrus Hooper’s house on the way.

“In my view,” said the squire, “the road should go directly through this farm a little to the north of the house.”

The squire proceeded to explain his reasons for the route he recommended.

“To whom does the farm belong?” asked Caldwell, with a shrewd glance at the squire.

“To an old man named Cyrus Hooper.”

“Ahem! Perhaps he would be opposed to the road passing so near his house.”

“I apprehend that he will not have to be consulted,” said the squire with a crafty smile.

“Why not?”

“Because I hold a mortgage on the farm which I propose to foreclose this afternoon.”

“I see. So that you will be considerably benefited by the road.”

“Yes, to a moderate extent.”

“But if a different course should be selected, how then?”

“If the road goes through the farm I would be willing to give a quarter of the damages awarded to me to–you understand?”

“I think I do. After all it seems the most natural route.”

“I think there can be no doubt on that point. Of course the corporation will be willing to pay a reasonable sum for land taken.”

“I think I can promise that, as I shall have an important voice in the matter.”

“I see you are a thorough business man,” said the squire. “I hold that it is always best to pursue a liberal policy.”

“Quite so. You have no doubt of obtaining the farm?”

“Not the slightest.”

“But suppose the present owner meets the mortgage?”

“He can’t. He is a poor man, and he has no moneyed friends. I confess I was a little afraid that a nephew of his just returned from Montana might be able to help him, but I learn that he has only brought home five hundred dollars while the mortgage, including interest, calls for thirteen hundred.”

“Then you appear to be safe. When did you say the matter would be settled?”

“This afternoon at two o’clock. You had better stay over and take supper with me. I shall be prepared to talk with you at that time.”

“Very well.”

From a window of the farmhouse Cyrus Hooper saw Squire Sheldon and his guest walking by the farm, and noticed the interest which they seemed to feel in it. But for the assurance which he had received of help to pay the mortgage he would have felt despondent, for he guessed the subject of their conversation. As it was, he felt an excusable satisfaction in the certain defeat of the squire’s hopes of gain.

“It seems that the more a man has the more he wants, Jefferson,” he said to his nephew. “The squire is a rich man–the richest man in Burton–but he wants to take from me the little property that I have.”

“It’s the way of the world, Uncle Cyrus. In this case the squire is safe to be disappointed, thanks to my young friend, Rodney.”

“Its lucky for me, Jefferson, that you came home just the time you did. If you had come a week later it would have been too late.”

“Then you don’t think the squire would have relented?”

“I know he wouldn’t. I went over a short time since and had a talk with him on the subject. I found he was sot on gettin’ the farm into his own hands.”

“If he were willing to pay a fair value it wouldn’t be so bad.”

“He wasn’t. He wanted to get it as cheap as he could.”

“I wonder,” said Jefferson Pettigrew reflectively, “whether I shall be as hard and selfish if ever I get rich.”

“I don’t believe you will, Jefferson. I don’t believe you will. It doesn’t run in the blood.”

“I hope not Uncle Cyrus. How long have you known the squire?”

“Forty years, Jefferson. He is about ten years younger than I am. I was a young man when he was a boy.”

“And you attend the same church?”


“And still he is willing to take advantage of you and reduce you to poverty. I don’t see much religion in that.”

“When a man’s interest is concerned religion has to stand to one side with some people.”

It was in a pleasant frame of mind that Squire Sheldon left his house and walked over to the farmhouse which he hoped to own. He had decided to offer eighteen hundred dollars for the farm, which would be five hundred over and above the face of the mortgage with the interest added.

This of itelf would give him an excellent profit, but he expected also, as we know, to drive a stiff bargain with the new railroad company, for such land as they would require to use.

“Stay here till I come back, Mr. Caldwell,” he said. “I apprehend it won’t take me long to get through my business.”

Squire Sheldon knocked at the door of the farmhouse, which was opened to him by Nancy Hooper.

“Walk in, squire,” she said.

“Is your husband at home, Mrs. Hooper?”

“Yes; he is waiting for you.”

Mrs. Hooper led the way into the sitting room, where her husband was sitting in a rocking chair.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Hooper,” said the squire. “I hope I see you well.”

“As well as I expect to be. I’m gettin’ to be an old man.”

“We must all grow old,” said the squire vaguely.

“And sometimes a man’s latter years are his most sorrowful years.”

“That means that he can’t pay the mortgage,” thought Squire Sheldon.

“Well, ahem! Yes, it does sometimes happen so,” he said aloud.

“Still if a man’s friends stand by him, that brings him some comfort.”

“I suppose you know what I’ve come about, Mr. Hooper,” said the squire, anxious to bring his business to a conclusion.

“I suppose it’s about the mortgage.”

“Yes, its about the mortgage.”

“Will you be willing to extend it another year?”

“I thought,” said the squire, frowning, “I had given you to understand that I cannot do this. You owe me a large sum in accrued interest.”

“But if I make shift to pay this?”

“I should say the same. It may as well come first as last. You can’t hold the place, and there is no chance of your being better off by waiting.”

“I understand that the new railroad might go through my farm. That would put me on my feet.”

“There is no certainty that the road will ever be built. Even if it were, it would not be likely to cross your farm.”

“I see, Squire Sheldon, you are bound to have the place.”

“There is no need to put it that way, Mr. Hooper. I lent you money on mortgage. You can’t pay the mortgage, and of course I foreclose. However, I will buy the farm and allow you eighteen hundred dollars for it. That will give you five hundred dollars over and above the money you owe me.”

“The farm is worth three thousand dollars.”

“Nonsense, Mr. Hooper. Still if you get an offer of that sum TODAY I will advise you to sell.”

“I certainly won’t take eighteen hundred.”

“You won’t? Then I shall foreclose, and you may have to take less.”

“Then there is only one thing to do.”

“As you say, there is only one thing to do.”

“And that is, to pay off the mortgage and clear the farm.”

“You can’t do it!” exclaimed the squire uneasily.

Cyrus Hooper’s only answer was to call “Jefferson.”

Jefferson Pettigrew entered the room, followed by Rodney.

“What does this mean?” asked the squire.

“It means, Squire Sheldon,” said Mr. Pettigrew, “that you won’t turn my uncle out of his farm this time. My young friend, Rodney Ropes, has advanced Uncle Cyrus money enough to pay off the mortgage.”

“I won’t take a check,” said the squire hastily.

“You would have to if we insisted upon it, but I have the money here in bills. Give me a release and surrender the mortgage, and you shall have your money.”

It was with a crestfallen look that Squire Sheldon left the farmhouse, though his pockets were full of money.

“It’s all up,” he said to his friend Caldwell in a hollow voice. “They have paid the mortgage.”

After all the railway did cross the farm, and Uncle Cyrus was paid two thousand dollars for the right of way, much to the disappointment of his disinterested friend Lemuel Sheldon, who felt that this sum ought to have gone into his own pocket.



“I have another call to make, Rodney,” said Mr. Pettigrew, as they were on their way back to the hotel, “and I want you to go with me.”

“I shall be glad to accompany you anywhere, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“You remember I told you of the old minister whose church I attended as a boy. He has never received but four hundred dollars a year, yet he has managed to rear a family, but has been obliged to use the strictest economy.”

“Yes, I remember.”

“I am going to call on him, and I shall take the opportunity to make him a handsome present. It will surprise him, and I think it will be the first present of any size that he has received in his pastorate of over forty years.

“There he lives!” continued Jefferson, pointing out a very modest cottage on the left hand side of the road.

It needed painting badly, but it looked quite as well as the minister who came to the door in a ragged dressing gown. He was venerable looking, for his hair was quite white, though he was only sixty five years old. But worldly cares which had come upon him from the difficulty of getting along on his scanty salary had whitened his hair and deepened the wrinkles on his kindly face.

“I am glad to see you, Jefferson,” he said, his face lighting up with pleasure. “I heard you were in town and I hoped you wouldn’t fail to call upon me.”

“I was sure to call, for you were always a good friend to me as well as many others.”

“I always looked upon you as one of my boys, Jefferson. I hear that you have been doing well.”

“Yes, Mr. Canfield. I have done better than I have let people know.”

“Have you been to see your uncle? Poor man, he is in trouble.”

“He is no longer in trouble. The mortgage is paid off, and as far as Squire Sheldon is concerned he is independent.”

“Indeed, that is good news,” said the old minister with beaming face. “You must surely have done well if you could furnish money enough to clear the farm. It was over a thousand dollars, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, thirteen hundred. My young friend, Rodney Ropes, and myself managed it between us.”

“I am glad to see you, Mr. Ropes. Come in both of you. Mrs. Canfield will be glad to welcome you.”

They followed him into the sitting room, the floor of which was covered by an old and faded carpet. The furniture was of the plainest description. But it looked pleasant and homelike, and the papers and books that were scattered about made it more attractive to a visitor than many showy city drawing rooms.

“And how are all your children, Mr. Canfield?” asked Jefferson.

“Maria is married to a worthy young man in the next town. Benjamin is employed in a book store, and Austin wants to go to college, but I don’t see any way to send him, poor boy!” and the minister sighed softly.

“Does it cost much to keep a boy in college?”

“Not so much as might be supposed. There are beneficiary funds for deserving students, and then there is teaching to eke out a poor young man’s income, so that I don’t think it would cost over a hundred and fifty dollars a year.”

“That isn’t a large sum.”

“Not in itelf, but you know, Jefferson, my salary is only four hundred dollars a year. It would take nearly half my income, so I think Austin will have to give up his hopes of going to college and follow in his brother’s steps.”

“How old is Austin now?”

“He is eighteen.”

“Is he ready for college?”

“Yes, he could enter at the next commencement but for the financial problem.”

“I never had any taste for college, or study, as you know, Mr. Canfield. It is different with my friend Rodney, who is a Latin and Greek scholar.”

The minister regarded Rodney with new interest.

“Do you think of going to college, Mr. Ropes?” he asked.

“Not at present. I am going back to Montana with Mr. Pettigrew. Perhaps he and I will both go to college next year.”

“Excuse me,” said Jefferson Pettigrew. “Latin and Greek ain’t in my line. I should make a good deal better miner than minister.”

“It is not desirable that all should become ministers or go to college,” said Mr. Canfield. “I suspect from what I know of you, Jefferson, that you judge yourself correctly. How long shall you stay in Burton?”

“I expect to go away tomorrow.”

“Your visit is a brief one.”

“Yes, I intended to stay longer, but I begin to be homesick after the West.”

“Do you expect to make your permanent home there?”

“I can’t tell as to that. For the present I can do better there than here.”

The conversation lasted for some time. Then Jefferson Pettigrew rose to go.

“Won’t you call again, Jefferson?” asked the minister hospitably.

“I shall not have time, but before I go I want to make you a small present” and he put into the hands of the astonished minister four fifty dollar bills.

“Two hundred dollars!” ejaculated the minister. “Why, I heard you only brought home a few hundred.”

“I prefer to leave that impression. To you I will say that I am worth a great deal more than that.”

“But you mustn’t give me so much. I am sure you are too generous for your own interest. Why, it’s munificent, princely.”

“Don’t be troubled about me. I can spare it. Send your boy to college, and next year I will send you another sum equally large.”

“How can I thank you, Jefferson?” said Mr. Canfield, the tears coming into his eyes. “Never in forty years have I had such a gift.”

“Not even from Squire Sheldon?”

“The squire is not in the habit of bestowing gifts, but he pays a large parish tax. May I–am I at liberty to say from whom I received this liberal donation?”

“Please don’t! You can say that you have had a gift from a friend.”

“You have made me very happy, Jefferson. Your own conscience will reward you.”

Jefferson Pettigrew changed the subject, for it embarrassed him to be thanked.

“That pays me for hard work and privation,” he said to Rodney as they walked back to the tavern. “After all there is a great pleasure in making others happy.”

“Squire Sheldon hadn’t found that out.”

“And he never will.”

On the way they met the gentleman of whom they had been speaking. He bowed stiffly, for he could not feel cordial to those whom had snatched from him the house for which he had been scheming so long.

“Squire Sheldon,” said Jefferson, “you were kind enough to invite Rodney and myself to supper some evening. I am sorry to say that we must decline, as we leave Burton tomorrow.”

“Use your own pleasure, Mr. Pettigrew,” said the squire coldly.

“It doesn’t seem to disappoint the squire very much,” remarked Jefferson, laughing, when the great man of the village had passed on.

“It certainly is no disappointment to me.”

“Nor to me. The little time I have left I can use more pleasantly than in going to see the squire. I have promised to supper at my uncle’s tonight–that is, I have promised for both of us.”

Returning to New York, Jefferson and Rodney set about getting ready for their Western journey. Rodney gave some of his wardrobe to Mike Flynn, and bought some plain suits suitable for his new home.

While walking on Broadway the day before the one fixed for his departure he fell in with Jasper Redwood.

“Have you got a place yet Ropes?” asked Jasper.

“I am not looking for any.”

“How is that?” asked Jasper in some surprise.

“I am going to leave the city.”

“That is a good idea. All cannot succeed in the city. You may find a chance to work on a farm in the country.”

“I didn’t say I was going to the country.”

“Where are you going, then?”

“To Montana.”

“Isn’t that a good way off?”


“What are you going to do there?”

“I may go to mining.”

“But how can you afford to go so far?”

“Really, Jasper, you show considerable curiosity about my affairs. I have money enough to buy my ticket, and I think I can find work when I get out there.”

“It seems to me a crazy idea.”

“It might be–for you.”

“And why for me?” asked Jasper suspiciously.

“Because you might not be willing to rough it as I am prepared to do.”

“I guess you are right. I have always been used to living like a gentleman.”

“I hope you will always be able to do so. Now I must bid you good by, as I am busy getting ready for my journey.”

Jasper looked after Rodney, not without perplexity.

“I can’t make out that boy,” he said. “So he is going to be a common miner! Well, that may suit him, but it wouldn’t suit me. There is no chance now of his interfering with me, so I am glad he is going to leave the city.”



The scene changes.

Three weeks later among the miners who were sitting on the narrow veranda of the “Miners’ Rest” in Oreville in Montana we recognize two familiar faces and figures–those of Jefferson Pettigrew and Rodney Ropes. Both were roughly clad, and if Jasper could have seen Rodney he would have turned up his nose in scorn, for Rodney had all the look of a common miner.

It was in Oreville that Mr. Pettigrew had a valuable mining property, on which he employed quite a number of men who preferred certain wages to a compensation depending on the fluctuations of fortune. Rodney was among those employed, but although he was well paid he could not get to like the work. Of this, however, he said nothing to Mr. Pettigrew whose company he enjoyed, and whom he held in high esteem.

On the evening in question Jefferson rose from his seat and signed to Rodney to follow him.

“Well, Rodney, how do you like Montana?” he asked.

“Well enough to be glad I came here,” answered Rodney.

“Still you are not partial to the work of a miner!”

“I can think of other things I would prefer to do.”

“How would you like keeping a hotel?”

“Is there any hotel in search of a manager?” asked Rodney smiling.

“I will explain. Yesterday I bought the `Miners’ Rest.'”

“What–the hotel where we board?”

“Exactly. I found that Mr. Bailey, who has made a comfortable sum of money, wants to leave Montana and go East and I bought the hotel.”

“So that hereafter I shall board with you?”

“Not exactly. I propose to put you in charge, and pay you a salary. I can oversee, and give you instructions. How will that suit you?”

“So you think I am competent, Mr. Pettigrew?”

“Yes, I think so. There is a good man cook, and two waiters. The cook will also order supplies and act as steward under you.”

“What then will be my duties?”

“You will act as clerk and cashier, and pay the bills. You will have to look after all the details of management. If there is anything you don’t understand you will have me to back you up, and advise you. What do you say?”

“That I shall like it much better than mining. My only doubt is as to whether I shall suit you.”

“It is true that it takes a smart man to run a hotel, but I think we can do it between us. Now what will you consider a fair salary?”

“I leave that to you, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“Then we will call it a hundred and fifty dollars a month and board.”

“But, Mr. Pettigrew,” said Rodney in surprise, “how can I possibly earn that much?”

“You know we charge big prices, and have about fifty steady boarders. I expect to make considerable money after deducting all the expenses of management.”

“My friend Jasper would be very much surprised if he could know the salary I am to receive. In the store I was only paid seven dollars a week.”

“The duties were different. Almost any boy could discharge the duties of an entry clerk while it takes peculiar qualities to run a hotel.”

“I was certainly very fortunate to fall in with you, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“I expect it will turn out fortunate for me too, Rodney.”

“When do you want me to start in?”

“Next Monday morning. It is now Thursday evening. Mr. Bailey will turn over the hotel to me on Saturday night. You needn’t go to the mines tomorrow, but may remain in the hotel, and he will instruct you in the details of management.”

“That will be quite a help to me, and I am at present quite ignorant on the subject.”

Rodney looked forward with pleasure to his new employment. He had good executive talent, though thus far he had had no occasion to exercise it. It was with unusual interest that he set about qualifying himself for his new position.

“Young man,” said the veteran landlord, “I think you’ll do. I thought at first that Jefferson was foolish to put a young boy in my place, but you’ve got a head on your shoulders, you have! I guess you’ll fill the bill.”

“I hope to do so, Mr. Bailey.”

“Jefferson tells me that you understand Latin and Greek?”

“I know something of them.”

“Thats what prejudiced me against you. I hired a college boy once as a clerk and he was the worst failure I ever came across. He seemed to have all kinds of sense except common sense. I reckon he was a smart scholar, and he could have made out the bills for the boarders in Latin or Greek if it had been necessary, but he was that soft that any one could cheat him. Things got so mixed up in the department that I had to turn him adrift in a couple of weeks. I surmised you might be the same sort of a chap. If you were it would be a bad lookout for Jefferson.”

In Oreville Mr. Pettigrew was so well known that nearly everyone called him by his first name. Mr. Pettigrew did not care about this as he had no false pride or artificial dignity.

“Do you consider this hotel a good property, Mr. Bailey?”

“I’ll tell you this much. I started here four years ago, and I’ve made fifty thousand dollars which I shall take back with me to New Hampshire.”

“That certainly is satisfactory.”

“I shouldn’t wonder if you could improve upon it.”

“How does it happen that you sell out such a valuable property, Mr. Bailey? Are you tired of making money?”

“No, but I must tell you that there’s a girl waiting for me at home, an old schoolmate, who will become Mrs. Bailey as soon as possible after I get back. If she would come out here I wouldn’t sell, but she has a mother that she wouldn’t leave, and so I must go to her.”

“That is a good reason, Mr. Bailey.”

“Besides with fifty thousand dollars I can live as well as I want to in New Hampshire, and hold up my head with the best. You will follow my example some day.”

“It will be a long day first, Mr. Bailey, for I am only sixteen.”

On Monday morning the old landlord started for his Eastern home and Rodney took his place. It took him some little time to become familiar with all the details of hotel management, but he spared no pains to insure success. He had some trouble at first with the cook who presumed upon his position and Rodney’s supposed ignorance to run things as he chose.

Rodney complained to Mr. Pettigrew.

“I think I can fix things, Rodney,” he said. “There’s a man working for me who used to be cook in a restaurant in New York. I found out about him quietly, for I wanted to be prepared for emergencies. The next time Gordon act contrary and threatens to leave, tell him he can do as he pleases. Then report to me.”

The next day there came another conflict of authority.

“If you don’t like the way I manage you can get somebody else,” said the cook triumphantly. “Perhaps you’d like to cook the dinner yourself. You’re nothing but a boy, and I don’t see what Jefferson was thinking of to put you in charge.”

“That is his business, Mr. Gordon.”

“I advise you not to interfere with me, for I won’t stand it.”

“Why didn’t you talk in this way to Mr. Bailey?”

“That’s neither here nor there. He wasn’t a boy for one thing.”

“Then you propose to have your own way, Mr. Gordon?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Very well, then you can leave me at the end of this week.”

“What!” exclaimed the cook in profound astonishment. “Are you going crazy?”

“No, I know what I am about.”

“Perhaps you intend to cook yourself.”

“No, I don’t. That would close up the hotel.”

“Look here, young feller, you’re gettin’ too independent! I’ve a great mind to leave you tonight.”

“You can do so if you want to,” said Rodney indifferently.

“Then I will!” retorted Gordon angrily, bringing down his fist upon the table in vigorous emphasis.

Oreville was fifty miles from Helena, and that was the nearest point, as he supposed, where a new cook could be obtained.

After supper Rodney told Jefferson Pettigrew what had happened.

“Have I done right?” he asked.

“Yes; we can’t have any insubordination here. There can’t be two heads of one establishment. Send Gordon to me.”

The cook with a defiant look answered the summons.

“I understand you want to leave, Gordon,” said Jefferson Pettigrew.

“That depends. I ain’t goin’ to have no boy dictatin’ to me.”

“Then you insist upon having your own way without interference.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Very well, I accept your resignation. Do you wish to wait till the end of the week, or to leave tonight?”

“I want to give it up tonight.”

“Very well, go to Rodney and he will pay you what is due you.”

“Are you goin’ to get along without a cook?” inquired Gordon in surprise.


“What are you going to do, then?”

“I shall employ Parker in your place.”

“What does he know about cookin’?”

“He ran a restaurant in New York for five years, the first part of the time having charge of the cooking. We shan’t suffer even if you do leave us.”

“I think I will stay,” said Gordon in a submissive tone.

“It is too late. You have discharged yourself. You can’t stay here on any terms.”

Gordon left Oreville the next day a sorely disappointed man, for he had received more liberal pay than he was likely to command elsewhere. The young landlord had triumphed.



At the end of a month Jefferson Pettigrew said: “I’ve been looking over the books, Rodney, and I find the business is better than I expected. How much did I agree to pay you?”

“A hundred and fifty dollars a month, but if you think that it is too much—-“

“Too much? Why I am going to advance you to two hundred and fifty.”

“You can’t be in earnest, Mr. Pettigrew?”

“I am entirely so.”

“That is at the rate of three thousand dollars a year!”

“Yes, but you are earning it.”

“You know I am only a boy.”

“That doesn’t make any difference as long as you understand your business.”

“I am very grateful to you, Mr. Pettigrew. My, I can save two hundred dollars a month.”

“Do so, and I will find you a paying investment for the money.”

“What would Jasper say to my luck?” thought Rodney.

Three months passed without any incident worth recording. One afternoon a tall man wearing a high hat and a Prince Albert coat with a paste diamond of large size in his shirt bosom entered the public room of the Miners’ Rest and walking up to the bar prepared to register his name. As he stood with his pen in his hand Rodney recognized him not without amazement.

It was Louis Wheeler–the railroad thief, whom he had last seen in New York.

As for Wheeler he had not taken any notice of the young clerk, not suspecting that it was an old acquaintance who was familiar with his real character.

“Have you just arrived in Montana, Mr. Wheeler?” asked Rodney quietly.

As Rodney had not had an opportunity to examine his signature in the register Wheeler looked up in quiet surprise.

“Do you know me?” he asked.

“Yes; don’t you know me?”

“I’ll be blowed if it isn’t the kid,” ejaculated Wheeler.

“As I run this hotel, I don’t care to be called a kid.”

“All right Mr.—-“


“Mr. Ropes, you are the most extraordinary boy I ever met.”

“Am I?”

“Who would have thought of your turning up as a Montana landlord.”

“I wouldn’t have thought of it myself four months ago. But what brings you out here?”

“Business,” answered Wheeler in an important tone.

“Are you going to become a miner?”

“I may buy a mine if I find one to suit me.”

“I am glad you seem to be prospering.”

“Can you give me a good room?”

“Yes, but I must ask a week’s advance payment.”

“How much?”

“Twenty five dollars.”

“All right. Here’s the money.”

Louis Wheeler pulled out a well filled wallet and handed over two ten dollar bills and a five.

“Is that satisfactory?” he asked.

“Quite so. You seem better provided with money than when I saw you last.”

“True. I was then in temporary difficulty. But I made a good turn in stocks and I am on my feet again.”

Rodney did not believe a word of this, but as long as Wheeler was able to pay his board he had no good excuse for refusing him accommodation.

“That rascal here!” exclaimed Jefferson, when Rodney informed him of Wheeler’s arrival. “Well, thats beat all! What has brought him out here?”

“Business, he says.”

“It may be the same kind of business that he had with me. He will bear watching.”

“I agree with you, Mr. Pettigrew.”

Louis Wheeler laid himself out to be social and agreeable, and made himself quite popular with the other boarders at the hotel. As Jefferson and Rodney said nothing about him, he was taken at his own valuation, and it was reported that he was a heavy capitalist from Chicago who had come to Montana to buy a mine. This theory received confirmation both from his speech and actions.

On the following day he went about in Oreville and examined the mines. He expressed his opinion freely in regard to what he saw, and priced one that was for sale at fifty thousand dollars.

“I like this mine,” he said, “but I don’t know enough about it to make an offer. If it comes up to my expectations I will try it.”

“He must have been robbing a bank,” observed Jefferson Pettigrew.

Nothing could exceed the cool assurance with which Wheeler greeted Jefferson and recalled their meeting in New York.

“You misjudged me then, Mr. Pettigrew,” he said. “I believe upon my soul you looked upon me as an adventurer–a confidence man.”

“You are not far from the truth, Mr. Wheeler,” answered Jefferson bluntly.

“Well, I forgive you. Our acquaintance was brief and you judged from superficial impressions.”

“Perhaps so, Mr. Wheeler. Have you ever been West before?”


“When you came to Oreville had you any idea that I was here?”

“No; if I had probably I should not have struck the town, as I knew that you didn’t have a favorable opinion of me.”

“I can’t make out much of that fellow, Rodney,” said Jefferson. “I can’t understand his object in coming here.”

“He says he wants to buy a mine.”

“That’s all a pretext. He hasn’t money enough to buy a mine or a tenth part of it.”

“He seems to have money.”

“Yes; he may have a few hundred dollars, but mark my words, he hasn’t the slightest intention of buying a mine.”

“He has some object in view.”