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   Chapter 7 AN ENCOUNTER WITH A TRAMP.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8112

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


It is hardly necessary to say that Andy's parents were equally surprised and pleased at his new engagement.

"You will like that better than working on the farm, I expect, Andy?" said Sterling Grant.

"Yes, father. I am willing to work, but I don't feel much interest in farming."

"It is hard work and poor pay, Andy, but I like it. I was brought up to it when a boy, and there is nothing else I can do."

"Andy is already beginning to get some advantage from his education," said Mrs. Grant.

Andy reported for duty, and during the first morning made up his mind that he should enjoy his new employment. Mr. Gale really desired to acquire a knowledge of Latin and Greek, and worked faithfully.

To Andy it was like a review of his own studies, and he experienced a satisfaction in the rapid progress of his pupil.

He felt quite at home with Mr. Gale, though their acquaintance had been so brief. When twelve o'clock came he was really sorry.

"What time shall I come over this afternoon, Mr. Gale?" he asked.

"At two o'clock. Can you borrow your friend Valentine's boat? I have sent for one, but it may be several days before it arrives."

"Oh, yes; I am sure Val will let me have it. He is a very good-natured boy."

"I will be glad to pay for its use."

"I don't think he'd accept anything."

"Then I will make him a present."

Before he returned to the hotel, Andy saw Valentine and obtained the loan of his boat.

At three o'clock Mr. Gale and Andy started from the boathouse, and again

Andy became a teacher.

The young man was a good rower, but Andy was able to give him some points. Sometimes they sat idle and let the boat float at will.

About four o'clock Conrad came down for his usual afternoon row. He was surprised and not altogether pleased at meeting Andy and his companion.

"Why are you not hoeing potatoes?" he asked.

"I've got a vacation," answered Andy, with a smile.

"Are you out for a row?" inquired Mr. Gale, pleasantly.

"Yes," answered Conrad, sullenly.

Though Walter Gale had nothing to do with his defeat, he could not quite forgive him for awarding the prize to Andy. He felt mortified whenever he thought of it, and wished Mr. Gale to understand that he was not inferior to Andy.

"I was unlucky the other day," he said. "I strained my muscles or I would not have been beaten."

"That was lucky for me, then," said Andy, good-naturedly.

"I didn't care so much for the money, but if I had been in my usual form

I should have gained the prize."

"Then you wouldn't object to a second race?" said Walter Gale, quietly.

"What do you mean?"

"If you would like to try it again over the same course, I will put up five dollars."

Conrad hesitated.

He would not object to winning five dollars. Indeed, he wished very much to have that sum, but he was not quite so sure that he could beat Andy as he claimed to be.

Should Andy win again, he would be obliged to concede his superiority.

"No," he said, after a pause; "I don't think I care to race again."

"Then I will make you another offer, but not so good a one. I row a little myself-indeed, Andy is training me, so that I hope soon to row better. If you will row against me, I will pay you two dollars. That will be the prize."

"But suppose you win?"

"Then I keep the two dollars myself. It will cost you nothing."

"I'll row," said Conrad, eagerly.

"Very well. We will appoint Andy umpire, or referee, whatever you call it."

Conrad was not altogether pleased with this selection, but he waived his objections and the race was rowed, Andy giving the signal.

Conrad won by a dozen lengths, Mr. Gale making a very good second.

"You have won, Conrad," said the young man, good-naturedly. "Here is the prize."

Conrad pocketed the bill with a good deal of satisfaction.

"I will row you any day," he said.

Walter Gale shook his head.

"I must wait till I have improved," he said, "or you will beat me every time."

Conrad would much prefer to have beaten Andy, but the

two dollars gave him not a little satisfaction.

"Mr. Gale must be rich," he reflected. "I wish I could get in with him."

"As Andy has to work on the farm," he said, "I shall be glad to go out with you any afternoon."

"Thank you; but I have made an arrangement with Andy that will save him from the necessity of farm work."

Conrad opened his eyes in surprise.

Later in the evening, when he met Andy at the village store, he asked:

"How much does Mr. Gale pay you for going with him?"

"The arrangement is private, Conrad, or I would tell you."

"How much are you with him?"

"I go to the hotel at nine o'clock in the morning."

"What do you do then?"

"He calls me his private secretary."

"Do you get as much as three dollars a week?"

"I am sorry, I can't tell you."

"Oh, well, if it is such a profound secret. You seem to have got in with him."

"He treats me very kindly."

"Is he rich?"

"I don't know, but I presume he is."

"I don't see what keeps him in such a dull hole as Arden, when he could live in the city and be in the midst of things."

"At any rate, it is lucky for me that he chooses to stay here."

"What on earth does he want of a private secretary?" demanded Conrad.

"Perhaps you had better ask him."

"Probably he only hires you out of pity."

"I won't trouble myself about his motives, as long as he appears to like having me with him."

Several days passed. The mornings were spent in study, the afternoons on the pond.

There had been no change in the program, so that Andy was surprised when, one morning, Mr. Gale said:

"We will omit our lessons this morning; I am going to send you to Benton on an errand."

"Very well, sir."

"I have an account with the bank, and will send a check by you to be cashed."

"All right, sir."

"I will engage a top buggy for you at the hotel stable. I suppose you are used to driving?"

"Oh, yes, sir."

"And I suppose you know the way to Benton?"

"I have been there a good many times."

"Then there will be no trouble."

"When do you want me to start?"

"At eleven o'clock. That would get you home late to dinner. You may, therefore, stop and dine at the hotel in Benton."

This would make it a day's excursion. Andy liked driving, and the visit to Benton would be a pleasure to him.

"I will run home and tell mother I shall not be back to dinner," he said.

"Very well. Be back here at eleven o'clock."

"All right, sir."

When Andy reached the hotel on his return he found the buggy ready.

Harnessed to it was the best horse in the hotel stable.

"A pleasant journey to you!" said Walter Gale, smiling at Andy from the piazza.

"Thank you, sir."

Andy drove off at good speed. It was a bright, clear morning. The air was invigorating, and his spirits rose.

He reflected upon his good luck in having found such a friend as Walter Gale. He had been unfortunate, to be sure, in being compelled to leave school, but the hardship was very much mitigated by Mr. Gale's friendship.

He had gone two-thirds of the way when he overtook a man whose bloated look and shabby clothing proclaimed him to belong to the large class of tramps whose business seems to be to roam through the country in quest of plunder.

The man looked up as Andy reached him.

"I say, boy," he called out, "give me a lift, won't you?"

Andy was kind-hearted, but he was repelled by the unsavory look of the man who asked him this favor. He felt that it would be very unpleasant to have such a man sitting beside him in the buggy.

"I think you must excuse me," he said.

"What for?" asked the man, with a scowl. "Are you too proud to take in a poor man?"

"I don't object to you being poor," answered Andy; "but you look as if you had been drinking."

The man replied by an oath, and, bending over, he picked up a good-sized stone and flung it at the young driver. Fortunately his condition made his aim unsteady, and the stone flew wide of the mark.

Andy whipped up the horse, and was soon out of danger.

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