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   Chapter 4 PREPARING FOR THE PICNIC.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8104

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


The change in his father's circumstances had come so suddenly that Andy could not immediately decide upon a plan of securing employment.

He was not idle, however. There was work to do on the farm, and he took off his uniform, for Penhurst Academy was a military school, and donned, instead, a rough farm suit, in which he assisted his father.

If he felt a pang of regret he did not show it, for he did not wish to add to his father's grief over his imprudent act of friendship.

It was while he was at work hoeing corn that Conrad Carter came up one day, and leaning against the fence, looked at Andy with an amused expression.

"Oho, you've turned farmer in earnest!" he said.

"Yes, for the time being," answered Andy, composedly.

"You look fine in your overalls."

"Do you think so? Thank you for the compliment."

"You might as well keep on. You will probably succeed better as a farmer than in business."

"I mean to succeed in anything I undertake."

"You've got a comfortable opinion of yourself."

"While you, on the contrary, are modest and unassuming."

"What do you mean?" asked Conrad, coloring.

"I meant to compliment you, but if you don't like it I will take it back. Suppose I say that you are neither modest nor unassuming."

"If that is the way you are going to talk to me I will go away," said

Conrad, haughtily. "It is a little imprudent, considering-"

"Considering what?"

"That my father can turn you all out at the end of two years."

"If that is the way you are going to talk to me I shall be glad to have you go away, as you just threatened."

"Pride and poverty don't go together very well," said Conrad, provoked.

"I don't want to be either proud or poor," returned Andy, smiling.

"That fellow provokes me," thought Conrad. "However, he'll repent it some time."

In five minutes his place was taken by Valentine Burns, an intimate friend of Andy's. His father kept the village store, and was one of the leading citizens of Arden.

"Hard at work, I see, Andy," he said.

"Don't you want to help me?"

"No, I'm too lazy. I have to work in the store out of school hours, you know. Are you going to the picnic?"

"What picnic?"

"There's a Sunday-school picnic next Thursday afternoon. Both churches unite in it. All the young people will be there. You would have heard of it if you hadn't been absent at school."

"I will certainly go. There are so few amusements in Arden that I can't afford to miss any. I suppose there will be the usual attractions?"

"Yes, and an extra one besides. There's a gentleman from the city staying at the hotel, who has offered a prize of ten dollars to the boy who will row across the pond in the shortest time."

"The distance is about half a mile, isn't it?"

"Yes; a little more."

"I suppose you will go in for the prize, Val. You have a nice boat to practice in."

"No amount of practice would give me the prize. I don't excel as a rower."

"Who is expected to win?"

"Conrad Carter confidently counts on securing the prize. There is no boy in Arden that can compete with him, except-"

"Well, except whom?"

"Andy Grant."

"I don't know," said Andy, thoughtfully. "I can row pretty well-that is, I used to; but I am out of practice."

"Why don't you get back your practice?"

"I have no boat."

"Then use mine," said Valentine, promptly.

"You are very kind, Val. How many days are there before the picnic?"

"Five. In five days you can accomplish a great deal."

"I should like to win the ten dollars. I want to go to the city and look for a place, and I don't want to ask father for the money."

"Ten dollars would carry you there nicely, and give you a day or two to look around."

"True; well, Val, I will accept your kind offer. Is Conrad practicing?"

"Yes; he is out every afternoon."

"I can't go till after supper."

"Then begin this evening. You know where I keep my boat. I will be at the boathouse at half-past six, and you can meet me there."

"All right. You are a good

friend, Val."

"I try to be, but it isn't all friendship."

"What else, then?"

"I want Conrad defeated. He is insufferable now, and if he wins the prize he will be worse than ever."

Prospect Pond was a little distance out of the village. It was a beautiful sheet of water, and a favorite resort for picnic parties. Conrad Carter, Valentine Burns, and two or three other boys and young men had boats there, and a man named Serwin kept boats to hire.

But the best boats belonged to Valentine and Conrad. It was rather annoying to Conrad that any one should have a boat as good as his own, but this was something he could not help. He consoled himself, however, by reflecting that he was a better oarsman than Valentine.

He had been out practicing during the afternoon, accompanied by John

Larkin, a neighbor's son. John stood on the bank and timed him.

"Well, John, how do I row?" he asked, when he returned from his trial trip.

"You did very well," said John.

"There won't be any one else that can row against me, eh?"

"I don't think of any one. Valentine has as good a boat-"

"I don't admit that," said Conrad, jealously.

"I would just as soon have his as yours," said John, independently; "but he can't row with you."

"I should think not."

"Jimmy Morris is a pretty good rower, but he has no boat of his own, and would have to row in one of Serwin's boats. You know what they are."

"He couldn't come up to me, no matter in what boat he rowed," said

Conrad.

"Well, perhaps not; I don't know."

"Well, you ought to know, John Larkin."

"My opinion's my own, Conrad," said John, manfully.

"All the same, you are mistaken."

"If Valentine would lend his boat to Jimmy we could tell better."

"He won't do it. He will want it himself," said Conrad.

"As matters stand now, I think you will win the prize."

"I think so myself."

It may be thought surprising that nothing was said of Andy Grant and his chances, but, in truth, his boy friends in Arden had never seen him row during the last two years.

As a matter of fact, he had been the champion oarsman of Penhurst Academy, but this they did not know. During his vacations at home he had done very little rowing, his time being taken up in other ways.

"I wonder whether Andy Grant can row?" said John Larkin.

Conrad laughed.

"He can hoe corn and potatoes better than he can row, I fancy," he said.

"He's a first-rate fellow," said Larkin, warmly.

"He's poor and proud, that's what he is. I called at the farm this morning and he insulted me."

"Are you sure it wasn't the other way?"

"Look here, John Larkin, if you don't treat me with more respect I won't associate with you."

"Do as you like," said John, independently. "I'd just as soon associate with Valentine or Andy."

"My father can buy out both their fathers."

"That don't make you any the better fellow. Why are you so anxious to win this prize? Is it the money you are after?"

"No. If I want ten dollars my father will give it to me. It isn't the money, but the glory that I think of."

"If I had your practice I'd go in for it myself. I shouldn't mind pocketing ten dollars."

"No doubt it would be welcome to you."

"Let me try your boat for a few minutes."

"You can have it for ten minutes."

"I would like it long enough to row over the course."

"You can have it that long. I'm going over it again myself as soon as I have got rested from the last trial."

John Larkin got into the boat and rowed very creditably, but was soon called in by the owner of the craft.

John began to ask himself what benefit he got from associating with

Conrad, who showed his selfishness on all occasions.

"I wish he would get beaten, after all," thought John; "but I don't know who there is to do it. Valentine is only a passable rower, and Jimmy Morris has no boat of his own."

Conrad came back in good spirits. He had beaten his former record by three-quarters of a minute.

"I'm sure of the prize," he said, in exultation.

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