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   Chapter 6 A LIBERAL OFFER.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7371

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


Thoroughly mortified and crestfallen, Conrad went home. He hoped to go up to his room without observation, but his father noticed his entrance.

"Well, Conrad," he said, with a smile, "did you carry off the honors at the picnic?"

"No, I didn't," answered Conrad, bitterly.

"Did Valentine Burns defeat you?"

"No."

"Who did win the prize?"

"Andy Grant."

Squire Carter was amazed.

"Can he row?" he ejaculated.

"Yes, a little."

"But he beat you?"

"I tell you how it was, father," said Conrad, who had decided upon his story. "I was well ahead till we got halfway back, when I got a terrible pain in my arm. I must have strained it, I think. Of course I couldn't do anything after that, and Andy, who was next to me, went in and won."

Squire Carter never thought of doubting Conrad's story. His pride extended to his family and all connected with him, and he felt satisfied that Conrad was the best rower in the village.

"Where did the Grant boy learn to row?" he asked.

"I heard him tell Mr. Gale that he learned at the academy."

"You don't think he is equal to you?"

"Of course he isn't. I am miles ahead of him."

"It was very unfortunate that your arm gave out. You had better speak to your mother, and she will put some arnica on it."

"I will," said Conrad cunningly. "I would rather have had any boy beat me than that upstart, Andy Grant. He will put on no end of airs. Besides, I shall miss the money."

"That, at any rate, I can make up to you. Here are two five-dollar bills."

"Thank you, father," said Conrad, as, with much satisfaction, he pocketed the bills. "It was lucky I thought about the strain," he said to himself. "All the same, it is awfully humiliating to be beaten by that beggar."

"How do you think Conrad accounts for his defeat, Andy?" said Valentine the next day.

"I can't tell."

"He says he strained the muscles of his arm."

Andy smiled.

"If it will make him feel any better, I have no objection to that explanation."

"His father has given him ten dollars, so he will not lose any money.

But he won't get any of the boys to believe his story."

"The money is very acceptable to me," said Andy. "If I had lost, my father couldn't have made it up to me."

At five o'clock, on his way to the post office, Andy met Mr. Gale.

Walter Gale was a young man about twenty-five. He had a pleasant face, and his manner was genial. He had a strong sympathy with boys, and he was a favorite with them.

"Well, Andrew," he said; "have you recovered from your exertions in the boat race?"

"Oh, yes; I am used to rowing, and felt very little fatigue."

"I hear that Conrad is very much mortified by his defeat."

"I believe he is. He felt sure of winning."

"And he would have done so if you had remained out of the list."

"He told Valentine Burns that he strained the muscles of his arm, and that this defeated him."

"I should think better of him if he would acknowledge that he was fairly beaten. Are you at leisure this evening?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then call upon me at the hotel. I shall be glad to know you better."

This invitation Andy was very glad to accept. He was drawn to the young man, and felt that he was likely to prove a sincere friend.

At seven o'clock he left the farmhouse, and on arriving at the hotel found Mr. Gale sitting on the piazza.

"I was looking for you," said the young man. "Come up to my room."

He led the way to a front corner apartment on the second floor. It was the best room in the hotel, and he had furnished it in the most comfortable and attractive manner. Pictures hung on the walls, and there was a bookcase containing a goo

dly array of volumes.

"What a pleasant room!" exclaimed Andy.

"Yes; I have tried to make myself comfortable. What I lack most is society."

"I wonder that you are content to live in the country. Are you not accustomed to the city?"

"Yes; but I had a severe sickness in the spring, and the doctors recommended me to absent myself for a time from the excitement of the town and take up my residence in the country."

"Didn't that interfere with your business?"

Walter Gale smiled.

"Fortunately, or unfortunately," he answered, "I have no business. Until two years since I was employed in an insurance office in the city. The death of an uncle has made me pecuniarily independent, so that I had leisure to be sick."

"You look in good health now."

"Yes; but I have a nervous temperament, and am obliged to be careful.

Now tell me about yourself. You have been for some time at Penhurst

Academy?"

"Yes; for two years."

"Do you go back there?"

"No; my father has met with serious losses, and can no longer afford to send me. I must stay at home and help him."

"And this is a disappointment to you?"

"Yes; I was expecting to go to college in a few months."

"I believe your father is a farmer?"

"Yes."

"Do you expect to assist him on the farm?"

"Till I can get something to do. I shall try to get some business situation. Business pays better than farming."

"I suppose you are a good Latin and Greek scholar?"

"Yes; that is, I like the languages, and stood high in my classes."

"My own education is limited. Though I am rich now, I was a poor boy. At sixteen I had made some progress in Latin and commenced Greek, when my father's failure obliged me to seek employment. The uncle who has now made me rich would do nothing for me; so I left school half educated."

"You would be able to make up deficiencies now," suggested Andy.

"That is what I have been thinking of, if I can get a satisfactory teacher."

"I don't think you can find a classical teacher in Arden."

"I know of one, if he would be willing to undertake the task."

"Who is it?" asked Andy, puzzled.

"Andrew Grant," answered this young man, with a smile.

"Do you mean me?" asked Andy, with a wondering face.

"Certainly. You are fresh from school, and I am sure you would be competent to teach me."

"But I am only a boy."

"Age has nothing to do with a teacher's qualifications, except as to discipline. You wouldn't find me a very advanced pupil. I had read one book in Caesar when I was compelled to leave school, and had begun to translate Greek a little. Now the question is, are you willing to teach me?"

"If you think I am competent, Mr. Gale."

"I don't doubt that. We will begin, if you like, next Monday. Perhaps, in order to avoid village gossip, it will be well to pass yourself off as my private secretary. Indeed, I will employ you a little in that way also."

"I shall be very glad to serve you in any way."

"Then come to-morrow morning at nine and remain with me till twelve. Now about the compensation."

"Fix that to suit yourself, Mr. Gale. I am almost ashamed to ask anything."

"The laborer is worthy of his hire, Andy. Suppose I pay you six dollars a week to begin with?"

"The money will be very acceptable, but I am afraid you will be overpaying me."

"I will take my risk of that. On the whole, I will call it nine dollars a week, and we will spend the afternoon together also. I will send to the city for a boat, and you shall give me lessons in rowing."

Andy's eyes sparkled. Nothing would please him better, and the prospect of earning nine dollars a week made him feel like a millionaire.

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