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   Chapter 2 SQUIRE CARTER.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8079

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


When Mr. Grant entered the room, he seemed to Andy to have grown five years older. His face was sad, and he had lost the brisk, cheerful manner which was habitual to him.

"Has your mother told you?" he asked.

"Yes, father." Then he added with indignation: "What a wicked man Mr.

Lawrence must be!"

"I suppose he was tempted," said Mr. Grant, slowly. "Here is a note I received from him this morning."

Andy took the envelope from his father's hand, and, opening it, read the following lines:

"OLD FRIEND: Perhaps by the time you receive this letter you will have heard of the wrong I have done you and yours, and the loss I have brought upon you. It is to me a source of the greatest sorrow, for I fear you will never recover from it. I am just ready to go away. I cannot stay here to receive punishment, for it would tie my hands, and prevent my making reparation, as I hope some day to do. Why did I go wrong? I can't explain, except that it was infatuation. In a moment of madness I took some of the funds of the bank and risked them in Wall Street. I lost and went in deeper, hoping to be more fortunate and replace the stolen money. That is the way such things usually happen.

"I can say no more, except that it will be my earnest effort to give you back the money you will lose by me. It may take years, but I hope we both shall live long enough for me to do it.

"NATHAN LAWRENCE."

Andy read this letter in silence and gave it back to his father.

"Do you believe he is sincere?" he asked.

"Yes; he has many good points, and I believe he really feels attached to me."

"He has taken a strange way to show it."

"He was weak, and yielded to temptation. There are many like him."

"Do you believe he will ever be able to make up the loss?"

"I don't know. He is a man of fine business talent, and may be able in time to do something, but his defalcation amounts to twenty thousand dollars."

"We must try to make the best of it, father. You have been spending three hundred dollars a year for me, besides the expense of my clothes. If that is saved, it will make up your loss of income."

"But, my dear boy, I don't like to sacrifice your prospects."

"It won't be sacrificing them," said Andy, with forced cheerfulness. "It will only change them. Of course, I must give up the thought of a college education, but I may make a success in business."

"It will be very hard upon you," said Mr. Grant, sadly.

"No, father. I won't deny that I shall be sorry just at first, but it may turn out better for me in the end."

"You are a good boy, to take it so well, Andy. I had no right to risk so much, even for a friend like Lawrence."

"You have known Mr. Lawrence for many years, have you not, father?"

"Yes; we were schoolboys together. I thought him the soul of honor. But

I ought not to have risked three-quarters of my estate, even for him."

"You can't be blamed, father. You had full confidence in him."

"Yes, I had full confidence in him," sighed Mr. Grant.

"And he may yet be able to make up the loss to you."

Though Andy said this, he only said it to mitigate his father's regret, for he had very little confidence in the missing cashier or his promises. He was repaid by seeing his father brighten up.

"You have cheered me, Andy," he said. "I don't care so much for myself, but I have been thinking of you and your mother."

"And we have been thinking of you, father," said Mrs. Grant. "It might be worse."

"I don't see very well how that could be."

"We are in good health, thank God! and your reputation is unblemished. Compare your position with that of Nathan Lawrence, forced to flee in disgrace under a load of shame."

"You are right, wife. He is more to be pitied than I am."

"Is he a married man, father?"

"No; that is, he is a widower."

"While we are spared to each other. We must trust in God and hope for the best."

"Mother tells me you expect to get part of the money you need from

Squire Carter," said Andy.

"Yes, h

e has promised to take a mortgage of three thousand dollars on the old place."

"I have heard he is a hard man, father. I don't think he is influenced by kindness."

"I can't afford to inquire into his motives. It is enough that he will furnish the money. But for that I might have to sell the farm, and then we should be quite helpless."

About seven o'clock Squire Carter made his appearance. Andy opened the door for him.

He was a tall, florid-faced man, with an air of consequence based upon his knowledge that he was the richest man in the town.

"Good-evening, Andrew," he said, for he was always formal. "So you are home from school?"

"Yes, sir."

"When did you come?"

"This afternoon, sir."

"I suppose you heard of your father's misfortune?"

"Yes, sir."

"Ha! it is very sad-very sad, indeed. I quite feel for your father. I am trying to help him out of his trouble. He was a very foolish man to risk so much on that rascal, Lawrence."

Andy was disposed to agree with the squire, but he did not like to hear his father blamed.

"I think he realizes that he was unwise, Squire Carter," said Andy.

"Won't you walk in?"

"I suppose your father is at home?" said the squire, as he stepped into the front entry.

"Yes, sir; he was expecting you."

Andy opened the door of the sitting room, and the squire entered. Mr. Grant rose from the rocking-chair in which he was seated and welcomed his visitor.

"I am glad to see you, squire," he said. "Take a seat by the fire."

"Thank you," said the squire, with dignity. "I came, as I said I would.

I do not desert an old neighbor because he has been unfortunate."

But for his patronizing tone his words would have awakened more gratitude. As it was, his manner seemed to say: "See how kind-hearted I am."

Somehow, Andy felt more and more sorry to think his father must be indebted to such a man.

"It is getting quite fallish," said the squire, rubbing his hands. "I suppose I am more sensitive to cold, as my home is heated throughout with steam."

"I hope we shall be able to make you comfortable, Squire Carter," returned Mrs. Grant, who had entered the room in time to hear this last speech.

"Oh, yes, Mrs. Grant. I always adapt myself to circumstances."

"That is very kind in you," Andy was tempted to say, but he forbore. It would not do to offend the village magnate.

"I see you have sent for Andrew," observed the squire, with a wave of his hand toward the boy.

"Yes; I shall not be able to keep him at Penhurst Academy any longer."

"Very sensible decision of yours. No doubt it cost you a pretty penny to keep him there?"

"The school charge is three hundred dollars a year."

"Bless my soul! How extravagant! You will excuse my saying so, but I think you have been very unwise. It really seems like a wasteful use of money."

"Don't you believe in education, squire?" asked Mrs. Grant.

"Yes; but why couldn't he get all the education he needs here?"

"Because there is no one here who teaches Latin and Greek."

"And what good would Latin and Greek do him? I don't know anything of

Latin and Greek, and yet I flatter myself I have succeeded pretty well.

I believe I am looked up to in the village, eh?"

"No doubt you occupy a prominent position, squire, but the boy had a fancy for the languages and wanted to go to college."

"I shall not send my son to college, though, of course, I can afford it."

"Perhaps he doesn't care to go."

"No the boy is sensible. He will be satisfied with the advantages his father enjoyed. Supposing your boy had gone to college, what would you have made of him?"

"He thought he would have liked to prepare himself for a teacher or professor."

"It's a poor business, Neighbor Grant. A schoolmate of mine became a teacher-the teacher of an academy-and I give you my word, he's as poor as poverty."

"Money isn't everything, squire."

"It's a good deal, as in your present circumstances you must admit. But we may as well come to business."

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