The Store Boy
Horatio Alger, Jr.
Part 4 out of 4
"Suppose I were ready to come to your terms--mind, I don't say I
am--would you sign the papers to-day?"
Jackson looked perplexed. He knew could not do it.
"What's your hurry?" he said.
"The capitalists whom I represent are anxious to get to work as soon
as possible. That's natural, isn't, it?"
"Ye-es," answered Jackson.
"So, the sooner we fix matters the better. I want to go back to New
York to-morrow if I can."
"I don't think I can give my answer as soon as that. Wait a minute,
A boy was approaching, Jackson's son, if one could judge from the
resemblance, holding a letter in his hand.
"Come right here, Abner," he called out eagerly.
Abner approached, and his father snatched the letter from his hand.
It bore the New York postmark, but, on opening it, Jackson looked
bitterly disappointed. He had hoped it was from Mrs. Hamilton,
accepting his offer for the farm; but, instead of that, it was an
"I'll have to take time to think over your offer, Mr. Taylor," he
said. "You see, I'll have to talk over matters with the old woman."
"By the way," said Taylor carelessly, "I was told in the village that
you didn't own the farm--that it was owned by a lady in New York."
"She used to own it," said the fanner, uneasily; "but I bought it of
her a year ago."
"So that you have the right to sell it?"
"Of course I have."
"What have you to say to that, Ben?" asked Taylor quietly.
"That if Mrs. Hamilton has sold the farm to Mr. Jackson she doesn't
"What do you mean, boy?" gasped Jackson.
"I mean that when I left New York Mrs. Hamilton owned the farm."
"It's a lie!" muttered the farmer; but he spoke with difficulty. "I
bought it a year ago."
"In that case it is strange that you should have written a week ago
offering five thousand dollars for the farm."
"Who says I wrote?"
"I do; and I have your letter in my pocket," answered Ben firmly.
BEN SELLS THE FARM
The farmer stared at Ben panic-stricken. He had thought success
within his grasp. He was to be a rich man--independent for life--as
the result of the trick which he was playing upon Mrs. Hamilton. His
disappointment was intense, and he looked the picture of discomfiture.
"I don't believe you," he faltered after a pause.
Ben drew a letter from his inside pocket and held it up.
"Do you deny the writing?" he said.
"Give it to me!" said Jackson, with a sudden movement.
"No, thank you; I prefer to keep it. I shall make no use of it unless
it is necessary. I called here to notify you that Mrs. Hamilton does
not propose to sacrifice the farm. If it is sold at all it will be to
someone who will pay its full value."
"You can't sell it," said Jackson sullenly. "I have a lease."
"At any rate, I shall stay till my year's out."
"That will depend upon the new owner. If he is willing, Mrs. Hamilton
will not object."
"I think you've got him there, Ben," said Mr. Taylor, with a laugh.
"Mr. Jackson, I think it won't be worth while to continue our
conversation. You undertook to sell what was not yours. I prefer to
deal with the real owner or her representative."
"That boy is an impostor!" muttered Jackson. "Why, he's only a school
boy. What does he know about business?"
"I think he has proved a match for you. Good-morning, Mr. Jackson.
Ben, let us be going."
"Now," said Taylor as they were walking toward the inn, "what do you
say to my offer?"
"Please state it, Mr. Taylor."
"I offer forty thousand dollars for the farm. It may be worth
considerably more than that; but, on the other hand, the wells may
soon run dry. I have to take the chances."
"That seems a fair offer, Mr. Taylor," said Ben frankly. "If I were
the owner I would accept it; but I am acting for another who may not
think as I do."
"Will you consult her and let me know?"
"I will write at once."
"Why not telegraph? The delay would be too great if you trust to the
"I will do as you suggest," answered Ben, "if there is an opportunity
to telegraph from this place."
"There is an office at the depot."
"Then I will take that on my way back to the hotel."
At one corner of the depot Ben found a telegraph operator. After a
little consideration, he dashed off the following telegram:
"No. ---- Madison Avenue, New York.
"To Mrs. Hamilton:
"Oil has been discovered on your farm. I am offered forty thousand
dollars for it by a responsible party. What shall I do?
"Send answer to the hotel," said Ben, to the operator.
Four hours later a messenger brought to Ben the following dispatch:
"Your news is most surprising. Sell at the figure named if you think
it best. You have full powers.
Mr. Taylor watched Ben's face eagerly as he read the telegram, for he
knew that it must relate to his offer.
"What does your principal say?" he inquired.
"You can read the telegram, Mr. Taylor."
Taylor did so.
"So you have full powers?" he said. "Mrs. Hamilton must feel great
confidence in you."
There was a proud flush on Ben's cheek as he replied:
"I have reason to think that she does. I hope it is not misplaced."
"I hope you won't drive a hard bargain with me, Ben."
"I don't mean to bargain at all. You have made a fair offer, and I
will accept it."
Taylor looked pleased.
"Some boys in your position," he said, "would have stipulated for a
"I shall do nothing of the kind," said Ben promptly. "I should not
think it honest."
"Your honesty, my boy, is of the old-fashioned kind. It is not the
kind now in vogue. I like you the better for it, and if you were not
in Mrs. Hamilton's employ I would try to secure your services myself."
"Thank you, Mr. Taylor. The time may come when shall remind you of
"You will find I have not forgotten it. And now to business. We will
go to a lawyer and have the necessary papers drawn up, which you shall
sign in behalf of your principal."
The business was speedily arranged, and by supper-time Ben found that
he had nothing further to detain him in Centerville. He felt that he
had done a smart stroke of business. Mrs. Hamilton had been surprised
at receiving an offer of five thousand dollars for the farm, yet he
had sold it for forty thousand!
As they were returning from the lawyer's office they met farmer
Jackson just returning from the post office.
"By the way, Mr. Jackson," said Taylor, "you will perhaps be
interested to learn that your farm has been sold."
The farmer paused, and looked troubled.
"Are you going to turn me out of the house?" he asked.
"Not if you wish to live in it. I shall employ workmen at once to
sink wells, and develop the property. They will need to board
somewhere. Are you willing to board them?"
"Yes; I shall be glad to," answered Jackson. "I am a poor man, and
it's hard work living by farming."
"Very well; we can no doubt make an arrangement. I am obliged to go
to New York to complete arrangements for the transfer of the property,
but I shall come back as soon as possible and commence operations."
"I wouldn't mind workin' for myself," said Jackson.
"Then you are the first man I engage."
The old farmer brightened up. He was to make money out of the new
discoveries after all, though not in the way he had comtemplated.
"When are you going back to New York, Ben?" asked Taylor.
"There is nothing to detain me here any longer."
"We can go back together, then."
"I shall be glad to travel in your company, sir."
"Do you expect to remain in Mrs. Hamilton's employ?"
"I don't know," answered Ben.
"What were you doing?"
"Keeping accounts and acting as her private secretary."
"Do you like it?"
"Yes; I find it very pleasant, or would be but for one thing."
"What is that?"
"She has relatives living in the house who do not like me."
"Let me say frankly, that you are fitted for something higher. I am a
good judge of men--"
"Boys, then; and I consider you a boy of excellent business capacity.
After I have got my oil wells under way, I should like to engage you
"I am flattered by your good opinion, Mr. Taylor, but it is a business
I know nothing of."
"You would make it your business to learn it, or I mistake you."
"You are right there, sir."
"However, there will be plenty of time to arrange about this matter.
It would probably be two months before I felt justified in leaving
another in charge."
The two started for New York. About fifty miles before reaching the
city, as Ben was reading a magazine he had purchased from the
train-boy, he felt a touch upon his shoulder.
Looking up, he recognized, to his amazement, the tramp with whom he
had had an adventure some weeks before in Pentonville.
"I see you know me," said the tramp, with a smile.
The tramp, as we may call him for want of a different name, certainly
showed signs of improvement in his personal appearance. He looked
quite respectable, in fact, in a business suit of gray mixed cloth,
and would have passed muster in any assemblage.
"I think I have met you before," answered Ben, with a smile.
"Perhaps it would have been more of a compliment not to have
recognized me. I flatter myself that I have changed."
"So you have, and for the better."
"Thank you. I believe we rode together when we last met."
"Yes," said Ben.
"And you were not sorry to part copy with me--is it not so?"
"I won't contradict you."
"Yet I am inclined to be your friend."
"I am glad of it," said Ben politely, though, truth to tell, he did
not anticipate any particular benefit to accrue from the acquaintance
of the speaker.
"I see you don't attach much importance to my offer of friendship.
Yet I can do you an important service."
Mr. Taylor, who had been occupying a seat with Ben, here arose.
"You have something to say to my young friend," he said. "Take my
"Don't let me deprive you of it," said the other with a politeness Ben
had not deemed him capable of.
"By no means. I am going into the smoking car to smoke a cigar. Ben,
I will be back soon."
"I didn't expect to meet you so far from Pentonville," said Ben's new
companion, unable to suppress his curiosity.
"I don't live in Pentonville now."
"In the city of New York."
"Are you employed there?"
"Yes; but I am just returning from a trip to Western Pennsylvania."
"Did you go on business?"
"Well, you are getting on, for a country boy. What do you hear from
"My mother is well, but I fancy that is not what you mean."
"Yes, I am interested about your mother. Has she yet paid off that
mortgage on her cottage?"
"How did you know there was a mortgage," asked Ben, in surprise.
"I know more than you suppose. What are the chances that she will be
able to pay?"
"They are very small," answered Ben, gravely, "but the money is not
"When will it be due?"
"In about six weeks."
"Squire Davenport will foreclose--I know him well enough for that."
"So I suppose," said Ben, soberly.
"Is there no friend who will oblige you with the money?"
"I don't know of anyone I should feel at liberty to call on."
It came into his mind that Mrs. Hamilton was abundantly able to help
them, but she did not know his mother, and it would savor of
presumption for him to ask so great a favor. True, he had effected a
most profitable sale for her, but that was only in the line of his
faithful duty, and gave him no claim upon his employer.
"I thought, perhaps, the gentlemen you were traveling with--the one
who has gone info the smoking-car--might--"
"He is only a business acquaintance; I have known him less than a
"To be sure, that alters matters. He is not your employer, then?"
"Then I believe I shall have to help you myself."
Ben stared at his companion in amazement. What! this man who had
robbed him of a dollar only four weeks before, to offer assistance in
so important a matter!
"I suppose you are joking," said he, after a pause.
"Joking! Far from it. I mean just what I say. If Squire Davenport
undertakes to deprive your mother of her home, I will interfere, and,
you will see, with effect."
"Would you mind explaining to me how you would help us?" asked Ben.
"Yes, in confidence, it being understood that I follow my own course
in the matter."
"That is fair enough."
"Suppose I tell you, then, that Squire Davenport--I believe that is
the title he goes by in your village--owes your mother more than the
amount of the mortgage."
"Is this true?" said Ben, much surprised.
"It is quite true."
"But how can it be?"
"Your father, at his death, held a note of Davenport's for a thousand
dollars--money which he had placed in his hands--a note bearing six
per cent. interest."
Ben was more and more surprised; at first he was elated, then
"It will do me no good," he said, "nothing was found at father's
death, and the note is no doubt destroyed."
"So Squire Davenport thinks," said his companion quietly.
"But isn't it true?"
"No; that note not only is in existence, but I knew where to lay my
hands on it."
"Then it will more than offset the mortgage?" said Ben joyfully.
"I should say. No interest has been paid on the note for more than
five years. The amount due must be quite double the amount of the
"How can I thank you for this information?" said Ben. "We shall not
be forced to give up our little cottage, after all. But how could
Squire Davenport so wickedly try to cheat us of our little property?"
"My dear boy," said the tramp, shrugging his shoulders, "your question
savors of verdancy. Learn that there is no meanness too great to be
inspired by the love of money."
"But Squire Davenport was already rich."
"And for that reason he desired to become richer."
"When shall we go to see the squire and tell him about the note?"
"I prefer that you should wait till the day the mortgage comes due.
When is that?"
"On the twentieth of December."
"Then on the nineteenth of December we will both go to Pentonville and
wait till the squire shows his hand."
"You seem to be--excuse me--in better circumstances than when we last
"I am. An old uncle of mine died last month, and considerately left
me ten thousand dollars. Perhaps if he had known more about my way of
life he would have found another heir. It has led me to turn over a
new leaf, and henceforth I am respectable, as befits a man of
property. I even keep a card case."
He drew out a card case and handed a card to Ben. It bore the name of
"Mr. Dinsmore," said our young hero, I rejoice at your good fortune."
"Thank you. Shall we be friends?"
"Then I have more good news for you. Your father owned twenty-five
shares in a Western railway. These shares are selling at par, and a
year's dividends are due."
"Why, we shall be rich," said Ben, fairly dazzled by this second
stroke of good fortune.
"I hope so; though this is only a beginning."
"How can we prove that the railway shares belong to us?"
"Leave that to me. On the nineteenth of December you will meet me in
Pentonville. Till then we probably shall not meet."
At this moment Mr. Taylor made his appearance, returning from the
smoking-car, and Harvey Dinsmore left them.
"Well, Ben, has your friend entertained you?" asked Taylor.
"He has told me some very good news."
"I am glad to hear it."
In due time they reached New York, and Ben started uptown to call upon
CONRAD GOES INTO WALL STREET
When Conrad succeeded Ben as Mrs. Hamilton's private secretary, he was
elated by what he considered his promotion. His first disappointment
came when he learned that his salary was to be but five dollars a
week. He did not dare to remonstrate with his employer, but he
expressed himself freely to his mother.
"Cousin Hamilton might afford to pay me more than five dollars a
week," he said bitterly.
"It is small," said his mother cautiously, "but we must look to the
"If you mean till Cousin Hamilton dies, it may be twenty or thirty
years. Why, she looks healthier than you, mother, and will probably
Mrs. Hill looked grave. She did not fancy this speech.
"I don't think we shall have to wait so long," she said. "When you
are twenty-one Cousin Hamilton will probably do something for you."
"That's almost five years," grumbled Conrad.
"At any rate we have got Ben Barclay out of the house, that's one
"Yes, I am glad of that; but I'd rather be in my old place than this,
if I am to get only five dollars a week."
"Young people are so impatient," sighed Mrs. Hill. "You don't seem to
consider that it isn't alone taking Ben's place, but you have got rid
of a dangerous rival for the inheritance."
"That's true," said Conrad, "and I hated Ben. I'd rather any other
boy would cut me out than he."
"Do you know what has become of him?"
"No; I expect that he has gone back to the country--unless he's
blacking boots or selling papers downtown somewhere. By Jove, I'd
like to come across him with a blacking-brush. He used to put on such
airs. I would like to have heard Cousin Hamilton give him the grand
Nothing could be more untrue than that Ben putting on airs, but Conrad
saw him through the eyes of prejudice, and persuaded himself that such
was the fact. In reality Ben was exceedingly modest and unassuming,
and it was this among other things that pleased Mrs. Hamilton.
Conrad continued to find his salary insufficient. He was still more
dissatisfied after an interview with one of his school companions, a
boy employed in a Wall Street broker's office.
He was just returning from an errand on which Mrs. Hamilton had sent
him, when he overtook Fred Lathrop on his way uptown.
The attention of Conrad was drawn to a heavy gold ring with a handsome
stone on Fred's finger.
"Where did you get that ring?" asked Conrad, who had himself a fancy
"Bought it in Maiden Lane. How do you like it?"
"It is splendid. Do you mind telling me how much you paid?"
"I paid forty-five dollars. It's worth more."
"Forty-five dollars!" ejaculated Conrad. "Why, you must be a
millionaire. Where did you get so much money?"
"I didn't find it in the street," answered Fred jocularly.
"Can't you tell a feller? You didn't save it out of your wages, did
"My wages? I should say not. Why, I only get six dollars a week, and
have to pay car fare and lunches out of that."
"Then it isn't equal to my five dollars, for that is all clear. But,
all the same, I can't save anything."
"Then how can you afford to buy forty-five dollar rings?"
"I don't mind telling you," said Fred. "I made the money by
"Speculating!" repeated Conrad, still in the dark.
"Yes. I'll tell you all about it."
"Do! there's a good fellow."
"You see, I bought fifty Erie shares on a margin."
"Why I got a broker to buy me fifty shares on a margin of one per
cent. He did it to oblige me. I hadn't any money to put up, but I
had done him one or two favors, and he did it out of good nature. As
the stock was on the rise, he didn't run much of a risk. Well, I
bought at 44 and sold at 45 1-4. So I made fifty dollars over and
above the commission. I tell you I felt good when the broker paid me
over five ten-dollar bills."
"I should think you would."
"I was afraid I'd spend the money foolishly, so I went right off and
bought this ring. I can sell it for what I gave any time."
Conrad's cupidity was greatly excited by this remarkable luck of
"That seems an easy way of making money," he said. "Do you think I
could try it?"
"Anybody can do it if he's got the money to plank down for a margin."
"I don't think I quite understand."
"Then I'll tell you. You buy fifty shares of stock, costing, say,
fifty dollars a share."
"That would be twenty-five hundred dollars."
"Yes, if you bought it right out. But you don't. You give the broker
whatever per cent. he requires, say a dollar a share--most of them
don't do it so cheap--and he buys the stock on your account. If it
goes up one or two points, say to fifty-one or fifty-two, he sells
out, and the profit goes to you, deducting twenty-five cents a share
which he charges for buying and selling. Besides that, he pays you
back your margin."
"That's splendid. But doesn't it ever go down?"
"I should say so. If it goes down a dollar a share, then, of course,
you lose fifty dollars."
Conrad looked serious. This was not quite so satisfactory.
"It is rather risky, then," he said.
"Of course, there's some risk; but you know the old proverb, 'Nothing
venture, nothing have.' You must choose the right stock--one that is
"I don't know anything about stock," said Conrad.
"I do," said Fred. "If I had money I know what I'd buy."
"What?" asked Conrad eagerly.
"Do you think that's going up?"
"I feel sure of it. I overheard my boss and another broker talking
about it yesterday, and they both predicted a bull movement in it."
"Does that mean it's going up?"
"To be sure."
"I should like to buy some."
"Have you got money to plank down as a margin?"
Conrad had in his pocketbook fifty dollars which he had collected for
Mrs. Hamilton, being a month's rent on a small store on Third Avenue.
It flashed upon him that with this money he could make fifty dollars
for himself, and be able to pay back the original sum to Mrs. Hamilton
as soon as the operation was concluded.
"Could you manage it for me, Fred?" he asked.
"Yes, I wouldn't mind."
"Then I'll give you fifty dollars, and you do the best you can for me.
If I succeed I'll make you a present."
"All right. I hope you'll win, I am sure [illegible]"
Not giving himself time to think of the serious breach of trust he was
committing, Conrad took the money from his pocket and transferred it
to his companion.
"It won't take long, will it?" he asked anxiously.
"Very likely the stock will be bought and sold to-morrow."
"That will be splendid. You'll let me know right off?"
"Yes; I'll attend to that."
Conrad went home and reported to Mrs. Hamilton that the tenant had not
paid, but would do so on Saturday.
Mrs. Hamilton was a little surprised, for the Third Avenue tenant had
never before put her off. Something in Conrad's manner excited her
suspicion, and she resolved the next day to call herself on Mr. Clark,
the tenant. He would be likely to speak of the postponement, and give
reasons for it.
TURNING THE TABLES
"Now Conrad," said Mrs. Hamilton, "will you tell me by what authority
you send away my visitors?"
"I didn't suppose you would want to see Ben," stammered Conrad.
"After what he has done?"
"What has he done?"
"He stole your opera glass and pawned it."
"You are mistaken. It was stolen by a different person."
Conrad started uneasily, and his mother, who was not in the secret,
"I know who took the opera glass," continued Mrs. Hamilton.
"Who was it?" asked the housekeeper.
"Your son, I regret to say."
"This is a slander!" exclaimed Mrs. Hill angrily. "Cousin Hamilton,
that boy has deceived you."
"My information did not come from Ben, if that is what you mean."
"My son would be incapable of stealing," continued Mrs. Hill.
"I should be glad to think so. It can easily be settled. Let Conrad
go with me tomorrow to the pawnbroker from whom I recovered the glass,
and see if he recognizes him."
"He would be sure to say it was me," stammered Conrad.
"At any rate he told me it was not Ben, who made no opposition to
"I see there is a plot against my poor boy," said Mrs. Hill bitterly.
"On the contrary, I shall be glad to believe him innocent. But there
is another matter that requires investigation. Conrad, here is a
letter which has come for you. Are you willing I should open and read
"I don't like to show my letters," said Conrad sullenly.
"The boy is right," said his mother, always ready to back up her son.
"I have good reason for wishing to know the contents of the letter,"
said Mrs. Hamilton sternly. "I will not open it, unless Conrad
consents, but I will call on the brokers and question them as to their
motive in addressing it to a boy."
Conrad was silent. He saw that there was no escape for him.
"Shall I read it?" asked Mrs. Hamilton.
"Yes," answered Conrad feebly.
The letter was opened.
It ran thus:
"Mr. Conrad Hill:
"You will be kind enough to call at our office at once, and pay
commission due us for buying add selling fifty shares Pacific Mail.
The fall in the price of the stock, as we have already notified you,
exhausted the money you placed in our hands as margin.
"BIRD & BRANT."
"I hope, Cousin Hamilton, you won't be too hard on the poor boy," said
the housekeeper. "He thought he would be able to replace the money."
"You and Conrad have done your best to prejudice me against Ben."
"You are mistaken," said the housekeeper quickly, showing some
evidence of agitation.
"I have learned that the letter which lured Ben to a gambling house
was concocted between you. The letter I have in my possession."
"Who told you such a falsehood? If it is Ben--"
"It is not Ben, Mrs. Hill. He is as much surprised as you are to
learn it now. The letter I submitted to an expert, who has positively
identified the handwriting as yours, Mrs. Hill. You were very
persistent in your attempts to make me believe than Ben was addicted
to frequenting gambling houses."
"I see you are determined to believe me guilty," said Mrs. Hill.
"Perhaps you think I know about the opera glass and this stock
"I have no evidence of it, but I know enough to justify me in taking a
Mrs. Hill listened apprehensively.
"It is this: you and Conrad must leave my house. I can no longer
tolerate your presence here."
"You send us out to starve?" said the housekeeper bitterly.
"No; I will provide for you. I will allow you fifty dollars a month
and Conrad half as much, and you can board where you please."
"While that boy usurps our place?" said Mrs. Hill bitterly.
"That is a matter to be decided between Ben and myself."
"We will go at once," said the housekeeper.
"I don't require it. You can stay here until you have secured a
satisfactory boarding place."
But Conrad and his mother left the house the next morning. They saw
that Mrs. Hamilton was no longer to be deceived, and they could gain
nothing by staying. There was an angry scene between the mother and
"Were you mad, Conrad," said his mother, "to steal, where you were sure
to be found out? It is your folly that has turned Cousin Hamilton
"No; it is that boy. I'd like to wring his neck!"
"I hope he will come to some bad end," said Mrs. Hill malignantly.
"If he had not come to the house none of this would have happened."
Meanwhile Ben and his patroness had a satisfactory conversation.
"I hope you are satisfied with my management, Mrs. Hamilton?" said our
"You have done wonderfully, Ben. Through you I am the richer by
thirty-five thousand dollars at the very least, for the farm would
have been dear at five thousand, whereas it was sold for forty
"I am very glad you are satisfied."
"You shall have reason to be glad. I intend to pay you a commission
for selling the place."
"Thank you," said Ben joyfully.
He thought it possible Mrs. Hamilton might give him fifty dollars, and
this would have been very welcome.
"Under the circumstances, I shall allow you an extra commission--say
10 per cent. How much will 10 per cent. amount to on forty
"Four thousand," answered Ben mechanically.
"Consider yourself worth fourth thousand dollars, then."
"But this is too much, Mrs. Hamilton," said Ben, scarcely crediting
his good fortune.
"Then give half of it to your mother," said Mrs. Hamilton, smiling.
"Now we can pay off the mortgage!" exclaimed Ben, joyfully.
Ben told the story, and it aroused the lively sympathy of his
"As soon as the purchase money is paid," she said, "you shall have you
commission, and sooner if it is needed."
A LETTER FROM ROSE GARDINER
Ben resumed his place as the secretary and confidential clerk of Mrs.
Hamilton. He found his position more agreeable when Mrs. Hill and
Conrad were fairly out of the house. In place of the first a
pleasant-faced German woman was engaged, and there were no more sour
looks and sneering words.
Of course Ben kept up a weekly correspondence with his mother. He did
not tell her the extent of his good fortune--he wished that to be a
surprise, when the time came. From his mother, too, he received
weekly letters, telling him not unfrequently how she missed him,
though she was glad he was doing so well.
One day beside his mother's letter was another. He did not know the
handwriting, but, looking eagerly to the end, he saw the name of Rose
"What would Rose say," Ben asked himself, "if she knew that I am worth
four thousand dollars?"
The money had been paid to Ben, and was deposited in four different
savings banks, till he could decide on a better investment. So he was
quite sure of having more than enough to pay off the mortgage and
redeem the cottage.
"Since mother is worrying, I must write and set her mind at rest," he
He wrote accordingly, telling his mother not to feel anxious, for he
had wealthy friends, and he felt sure, with their help, of paying off
the mortgage. "But don't tell anybody this," he continued, "for I
want to give the squire and Mr. Kirk a disagreeable surprise. I shall
come to Pentonville two days before, and may stay a week."
He had already spoken to Mrs. Hamilton about having this week as a
BEN'S VISIT TO PENTONVILLE
On the eighteenth of December Ben arrived in Pentonville. It was his
first visit since he went up to New York for good. He reached home
without observation, and found his mother overjoyed to see him.
"It has seemed a long, long time that you have been away, Ben," she
"Yes, mother; but I did a good thing in going to New York."
"You are looking well, Ben, and you have grown."
"Yes, mother; and best of all, I have prospered. Squire Davenport
can't have the house!"
"You don't mean to say, Ben, that you have the money to pay it off?"
asked his mother, with eager hope.
"Yes, mother; and, better still, the money is my own."
"This can't be true, Ben!" she said incredulously.
"Yes, but it is, though! You are to ask me no questions until after
the twentieth. Then I will tell you all."
"I am afraid I shall have to send you to the store, for I am out of
A list was given, and Ben started for the store.
Mr. Kirk looked up in surprise as he entered.
"You're the Barclay boy, ain't you?"
"I thought you were in New York."
"I was, but I have just got home."
"Couldn't make it, go, hey?"
Ben smiled, but did not answer.
"I may give you something to do," said Kirk, in a patronizing tone.
"You've been employed in this store, I believe."
"Yes, I was here some months."
"I'll give you two dollars a week."
"Thank you," said Ben meekly, "but I shall have to take a little time
to decide--say the rest of the week."
"I suppose you want to help your mother move?"
"She couldn't move alone."
"Very well; you can begin next Monday."
When Ben was going home, he met his old enemy, Tom Davenport. Tom's
eyes lighted up when he saw Ben, and he crossed the street to speak to
him. It may be mentioned that, though Ben had a new and stylish suit
of clothes, he came home in the old suit he had worn away, and his
appearance, therefore, by no means betokened prosperity.
"So you're back again!" said Tom abruptly.
"I always said you'd come back."
"Are you going to look for something to do?" Tom asked.
"Mr. Kirk has offered me a place in the store."
"How much pay?"
"Two dollars a week."
"You'd better take it."
"I hardly think I can work at that figure," said Ben, mildly.
"Kirk won't pay you any more."
"I'll think of it. By the way, Tom, call around and see me some
"I hardly think I shall have time," said Tom haughtily. "He talks as
if I were his equal!" he said to himself.
"Well, good afternoon. Remember me to your father."
Tom stared at Ben in surprise. Really the store boy was getting very
presumptuous he thought.
On the evening of the nineteenth of December, Ben stood on the piazza
of the village hotel when the stage returned from the depot. He
examined anxiously the passengers who got out. His eyes lighted up
joyfully as he recognized in one the man he was looking for.
"Mr. Dinsmore," he said, coming forward hastily.
"You see I have kept my word," said Harvey Dinsmore, with a smile.
"I feared you would not come."
"I wished to see the discomfiture of our friend Squire Davenport. So
to-morrow is the day?"
"I should like to be on hand when the squire calls."
"That will be at twelve o'clock. My mother has received a note from
him fixing that hour."
"Then I will come over at half-past eleven if you will allow me."
"Come; we will expect you."
"And how have you fared since I saw you, my young friend?"
"I have been wonderfully fortunate, but I have kept my good fortune a
secret from all, even my mother. It will come out to-morrow."
"Your mother can feel quite at ease about the mortgage."
"Yes, even if you had not come I am able to pay it."
"Whew! then you have indeed been fortunate for a boy. I suppose you
borrowed the money?"
"No; I earned it."
"Evidently you were born to succeed. Will you take supper with me?"
"Thank you. Mother will expect me at home."
At half-past eleven the next forenoon the stranger called at door of
Mrs. Barclay. He was admitted by Ben.
"Mother," said Ben, "this is Mr. Harvey Dinsmore."
"I believe we have met before," said Dinsmore, smiling. "I fear my
first visit was not welcome. To-day I come in more respectable guise
and as a friend."
"You are welcome, sir," said the widow courteously. "I am glad to see
you. I should hardly have known you."
"I take that as a compliment. I am a tramp no longer, but a
respectable and, I may add, well-to-do citizen. Now I have a favor to
"Name it, sir."
"Place me, if convenient, where I can hear the interview between Mr.
Davenport and yourself without myself being seen."
Ben conducted Dinsmore into the kitchen opening out of the sitting
room, and gave him a chair.
At five minute to twelve there was a knock at the outer door, and Ben
admitted Squire Davenport.
"So you are home again, Benjamin," said the squire. "Had enough of the
"I am taking a vacation. I thought mother would need me to-day."
"She will--to help her move."
"Step in, sir."
Squire Davenport, with the air of a master, followed Ben into the
sitting room. Mrs. Barclay sat quietly at the table with her sewing
"Good-day, widow," said the squire patronizingly.
He was rather surprised at her quiet, unruffled, demeanor. He
expected to find her tearful and sad.
"Good-day, Squire Davenport," she said quietly. "Is your family
"Zounds! she takes it coolly," thought the squire.
"Very well," he said dryly. "I suppose you know my business?"
"You come about the mortgage?"
"Yes; have you decided where to move?"
"My mother does not propose to move," said Ben calmly.
"Oho! that's your opinion, is it? I apprehend it is not for you to
"That's where we differ. We intend to stay."
"Without consulting me, eh?"
"You are impudent, boy!" said the squire, waxing wrathful. "I shall
give you just three days to find another home, though I could force
you to leave at once."
"This house belongs to my mother."
"You are mistaken. It belongs to me."
"When did you buy it?"
"You are talking foolishly. I hold a mortgage for seven hundred
dollars on the property, and you can't pay it. I am willing to cancel
the mortgage and pay your mother three hundred dollars cash for the
"It is worth a good deal more."
"Who will pay more?" demanded the quire, throwing himself back in his
"I will," answered Ben.
"Ho, ho! that's a good joke," said the squire. "Why, you are not
worth five dollars in the world."
"It doesn't matter whether I am or not. My mother won't sell."
"Then pay the mortgage," said the squire angrily.
"I am prepared to do so. Have you a release with you?"
Squire Davenport stared at Ben in amazement.
"Enough of this folly!" he said sternly. I am not in the humor for
"Squire Davenport, I am not joking. I have here money enough to pay
the mortgage," and Ben drew from his pocket a thick roll of bills.
"Where did you get that money?" asked Squire Davenport, in evident
"I don't think it necessary to answer that question; but there is
another matter I wish to speak to you about. When will you be ready
to pay the sum you owe my father's estate?"
Squire Davenport started violently.
"What do you mean?" he demanded hoarsely.
Harvey Dinsmore entered the room from the kitchen at that point.
"I will answer that question," he said. "Ben refers to a note for a
thousand dollars signed by you, which was found on his father's person
at the time of his death."
"No such note is in existence," said the squire triumphantly. He
remembered that he had burned it.
"You are mistaken. That note you burned was only a copy! I have the
original with me."
"You treacherous rascal!" exclaimed the squire, in great excitement.
"When I have dealings with a knave I am not very scrupulous," said
"I won't pay the note you have trumped up. This is a conspiracy."
"Then," said Ben, "the note will be placed in the hands of a lawyer."
"This is a conspiracy to prevent my foreclosing the mortgage. But it
won't work," said the squire angrily.
"There you are mistaken. I will pay the mortgage now in the presence
of Mr. Dinsmore, and let the other matter be settled hereafter.
Please prepare the necessary papers."
Suddenly the squire did as requested. The money was paid over, and
Ben, turning to his mother, said:
"Mother, the house is ours once more without incumbrance."
"Thank God!" ejaculated the widow.
"Mr. Dinsmore," said Squire Davenport, when the business was
concluded, "may I have a private word with you? Please accompany me
to my house."
"As you please, sir."
When they emerged into the street Squire Davenport said:
"Of course this is all a humbug. You can't have the original with
"But I have, sir. You should have looked more closely at the one you
"Can't we compromise this matter?" asked the squire, in an insinuating
"No sir," said Dinsmore with emphasis. "I have got through with
rascality. You can't tempt me. If I were as hard up as when I called
upon you before, I might not be able to resist you; but I am worth
over ten thousand dollars, and--"
"Have you broken into a bank?" asked Squire Davenport, with a sneer.
"I have come into a legacy. To cut matters short, it will be for your
interest to pay this claim, and not allow the story to be made known.
It would damage your reputation."
In the end this was what the squire was forced very unwillingly to do.
The amount he had to pay to the estate of the man whose family he had
sought to defraud was nearly fifteen hundred dollars. This, added to
Ben's four thousand, made the family very comfortable. Mr. Kirk was
compelled to look elsewhere for a house. No one was more chagrined at
the unexpected issue of the affair than Tom Davenport, whose mean and
jealous disposition made more intense his hatred of Ben.
* * * * * * * * *
Several years have elapsed. Ben is in the office of a real estate
lawyer in New York, as junior partner. All Mrs. Hamilton's business
is in his hands, and it is generally thought that he will receive a
handsome legacy from her eventually. Mrs. Barclay prefers to live in
Pentonville, but Ben often visits her. Whenever he goes to
Pentonville he never fails to call on Rose Gardiner, now a beautiful
young lady of marriageable age. She has lost none of her partiality
for Ben, and it is generally understood that they are engaged. I have
reason to think that the rumor is correct and that Rose will change
her name to Barclay within a year. Nothing could be more agreeable to
Mrs. Barclay, who has long looked upon Rose as a daughter.
Tom Davenport is now in the city, but his course is far from
creditable. His father has more than once been compelled to pay his
debts, and has angrily refused to do so again. In fact, he has lost a
large part of his once handsome fortune, and bids fair to close his
life in penury. Success has come to Ben because he deserved it, and
well-merited retribution to Tom Davenport. Harvey Dinsmore, once
given over to evil courses, has redeemed himself, and is a reputable
business man in New York. Mrs. Hamilton still lives, happy in the
success of her protege. Conrad and his mother have tried more than
once to regain their positions in her household, but in vain. None of
my young readers will pity them. They are fully rewarded for their
Typographical errors have been left as in the original book. Specifically,
meaness, companoin's, housekeper
Repeated or incorrect words have been left as in the original book.
how do do, turn to looked, worth fourth thousand
In a couble of places, the original material is illegible. This is
marked in the text.
Occassional missing quote marks have been fixed.
Accented characters have been replaced with plain ones in matinee
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