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   Chapter 25 SQUIRE CARTER'S RELATIVES.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7436

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


Andy was kind-hearted, and the boy's evident sorrow appealed to him. He went forward and placed his hand on the boy's shoulder.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"I went to the baker's to buy some bread for mother, and the baker tells me that the quarter is a bad one."

"Let me look at it."

The coin had a dull appearance and a greasy feeling. It was unquestionably counterfeit.

"Yes, it is bad," said Andy. "Is your mother poor?"

"Very poor," answered the boy. "This quarter was all the money she had, and now we shall have no supper."

"Whom do you mean by 'we'?"

"My little brother and myself."

Andy intended at first simply to give the boy a good coin for the bad one, but he saw that there was a call for something more.

"Do you live near here?" he asked.

"Yes, sir; just across the street."

"I will go back with you to the baker's, and then I will go with you to see your mother. Perhaps I can help her."

The boy put his hand confidingly in Andy's, and the two went a little distance to the baker's.

"Now make your purchases," said Andy.

"If you have brought back that bad quarter I won't take it," announced the baker, sharply.

"I will pay you," said Andy, quietly.

"Then it's all right. The boy brought me a very bad quarter. I have to look sharp, for a good many bad coins are offered me."

Andy produced a genuine silver piece, and the bread was handed to the boy, with the change.

The boy looked at it hesitatingly.

"It is yours," he said to Andy.

"No, I have changed quarters with you. I will keep the bad one."

Again he looked at the boy, and again the resemblance to some familiar face puzzled him.

"What is your name?" he asked.

"Ben Carter."

Carter! That explained it. The boy looked like Conrad Carter, though he had a pleasanter expression.

"Have you an Uncle Philemon?" he inquired.

"How did you know?" asked the boy, in surprise.

"Because you look like Conrad Carter."

"He is my cousin."

"And you are poor?"

"Yes."

"Your uncle is considered rich."

"I know he is, but he won't do anything for mother."

Andy was now all the more desirous of seeing the boy's family.

"I know your uncle," he said. "Do you think he knows you are so poor?"

"Yes, for mother has written to him."

By this time they had reached the place which Ben called home.

"Go upstairs and I will follow," said Andy.

They went up two flights, and the boy opened a door at the top of the landing.

There was a woman not far from forty in the room. On her face was a look of settled sorrow. At her knee was a small boy five years of age. She looked at Andy inquiringly.

"Mother," said Ben, "here is the bread. I couldn't have bought it, for the quarter was bad, if this boy had not given me another quarter."

"This young gentleman," corrected the mother.

"No, Mrs. Carter; I am a boy, and I prefer to be called so. I came up with Ben, for I find that he is related to Squire Carter, of Arden, whom I know very well."

"You know Philemon Carter?"

"Yes; he lives in Arden. That is my birthplace."

Mrs. Carter's countenance fell.

"Philemon Carter was my husband's brother," she said; "but there is little friendship between us."

"He is reputed rich."

"And we are poor. I see you wonder at that. When my husband's father died, Philemon was executor. It was understood that he was worth twenty-five thousand dollars. Yet of this amount my poor husband received but one thousand. I may be uncharitable, but I have always felt that Philemon cheated us out of our rightful share."

"I should not be surprised. I never liked Squire Carter. He always seemed to me to be a selfish man."

"He has certain

ly acted selfishly toward us."

"Does he know of your poverty?"

"Yes. Only two weeks since, in a fit of despair, I wrote to him for help. Here is his answer."

She handed a letter to Andy. He instantly recognized the handwriting of the magnate of Arden.

"Shall I read it?" he asked.

"Yes, do so, and let me know what you think of it."

This was the letter:

"SOPHIA: I have received your letter, and am surprised that you should expect me to help support you. You are my brother's widow, it is true, but your destitution is no fault of mine. My brother was always shiftless and unpractical, and to such men good luck never comes. He might at any rate have insured his life, and so made comfortable provision for you. You cannot expect me to repair his negligence. You say you have two boys, one eleven years of age. He is certainly able to earn money by selling papers or tending an office.

"As for myself, I am not a rich man, but have always been careful to meet my expenses and provide for the future. I, too, have a son, Conrad, whom I think it my duty to educate and start in life. Any money I might send you would be so much taken from him. I advise you to apply to some charitable society if you need temporary assistance. It will be much better than to write me begging letters. Yours truly,

"PHILEMON CARTER."

"This is a very cold-blooded letter," said Andy, indignantly. "He might at least have inclosed a five-dollar bill."

"He inclosed nothing. I shall never apply to him again."

"Philemon Carter is considered to be one of the richest men in Arden. He is taxed for twenty-five thousand dollars, and is probably worth double that sum. People wonder where he got all his money."

"A part of it is my husband's rightful share of the estate, I have no doubt."

"Can you do nothing about it?"

"How can I? I am poor and have no influential friends. He denies everything."

"I will think of that, Mrs. Carter. I know a lawyer down town who may some time look into the matter for you. In the meanwhile, is there any special work you can do?"

"Before I was married I was for a time a typewriter."

"I will see if I can hear of a situation of that kind. The lawyer I spoke of may require an operator."

"I would thankfully accept such a position."

"Does Ben earn anything?"

"He makes a little selling papers."

"He ought to be going to school at his age."

"If I could get any work to do I would send him."

"Mrs. Carter, will you accept a little help from me?"

Andy drew a five-dollar bill from his pocketbook and tendered it to the widow.

"But," she said, "can you spare this? It is a large sum, and you are only a boy, probably not earning much."

"I am a boy, but I am handsomely paid for my services. Besides, I have good friends to whom I can apply if I run short of money."

"Heaven bless you!" said Mrs. Carter, earnestly. "You cannot tell how much good this money will do me. This morning I was utterly discouraged. I felt that the Lord had forsaken me. But I was mistaken. He has raised up for me a good friend, who-"

"Hopes to be of a good deal more service to you. I must leave you now, but I shall bear you in mind, and hope soon to be the bearer of good tidings. I will take down your address, and call upon you again soon. Will you allow me to offer you a suggestion?"

"Certainly."

"Then send out and buy some meat. This dry bread is not sufficient for you. Don't be afraid to spend the money I leave with you. I will see that you have more."

As Andy left Mrs. Carter's humble home he felt more than ever the cold and selfish character of the man who, himself living luxuriously, suffered his brother's family to want.

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