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   Chapter 21 No.21

What Might Have Been Expected By Frank Richard Stockton Characters: 4645

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

A Last Resort.

The Board was fully agreed that something must be done to relieve Aunt Matilda's present necessities, but what to do did not seem very clear.

Wilson Ogden proposed issuing some kind of scrip or bonds, redeemable in six or seven months, when the company should be on a paying basis.

"I believe," said he, "that Mr. Darby would take these bonds at the store for groceries and things, and we might pay him interest, besides redeeming the bonds when they came due."

This was rather a startling proposition. No one had suspected Wilson of having such a financial mind.

"I don't know," said Harry, "how that would work. Mr. Darby might not be willing to take the bonds; and besides that, it seems to me that the company ought not to make any more promises to pay when it owes so much already."

"But you see that would be different," said Wilson. "What we owe now we ought to pay right away. The bonds would not have to be paid for ever so long."

"That may be pretty sharp reasoning," remarked Tom Selden, "but I can't see into it."

"It would be all the same as running in debt for Aunt Matilda, wouldn't it?" asked Kate.

"Yes," said Wilson, "a kind of running in debt, but not exactly the common way. You see-"

"But if it's any kind at all, I'm against it," said Kate, quickly. "We're not going to support Aunt Matilda that way."

This settled the matter. To be sure, Kate had no vote in the Board; but this was a subject in which she had what might be considered to be a controlling interest, and the bond project was dropped.

Various schemes were now proposed, but there were objections to all of them. Everyone was agreed that it was very unfortunate that this emergency should have arisen just at this time, because as soon as the company got into good working order, and the creek had been up a few times it was probable that Aunt Matilda would really have more money than she would absolutely need.

"You ought to look out, Harry and Kate," said Harvey Davis, "that all the darkies she knows don't come and settle down on her and live off her. She's a great old woman for having people around her, even now."

"Well," said Kate, "she has a right to have company if she wants to, and can afford it."

"Yes," said Tom Selden; "but having company's very different from

having a lot of good-for-nothing darkies eating her out of house and home."

"She won't have anything of that sort," said Harry. "I'll see that her money's spent right."

"But if it's her money," said Harvey, "she can spend it as she chooses."

A discussion here followed as to the kind of influence that ought to be brought to bear upon Aunt Matilda to induce her to make a judicious use of her income; but Harry soon interrupted the arguments, with the remark that they had better not bother themselves about what Aunt Matilda should do with her money when she got it, until they had found out some way of preventing her from starving to death while she was waiting for it.

This was evidently good common sense, but it put a damper on the spirits of the Board.

There was nothing new to be said on the main question, and it was now growing toward supper-time; so the meeting adjourned.

On their way home, Harry said to Kate, "Has Aunt Matilda anything to eat at all?"

"Oh yes; she has enough for her supper to-night, and for breakfast, too, if nobody comes to see her. But that's all."

"All right, then," said Harry.

"I don't think it is all right," replied Kate. "What's two meals, I'd like to know?"

"Two meals are very good things, provided you don't take them both at once," said Harry. And he began to whistle.

The next day, Harry went off and staid until dinner-time.

Kate could not imagine where he had gone. He was not with the Board, she knew, for Harvey Davis had been inquiring for him.

Just before dinner he made his appearance.

Kate was in the house, but he hurried her out under the catalpa-tree.

"Look here!" said he, putting his hand in his pocket and pulling out several "greenbacks." "I reckon that'll keep Aunt Matilda until the company begins to make money."

Kate opened her eyes their very widest.

"Why, where on earth did you get all that money, Harry? Is it yours?"

"Of course it's mine," said Harry. "I sold my gun."

"Oh, Harry!" and the tears actually came into Kate's eyes.

"Well, I wouldn't cry about it," said Harry. "There's nothing to shoot now; and when we get rich I can buy it back again, or get another."

"Got rich!" said Kate. "I don't see how we're going to do that; especially when it's such dreadfully dry weather."

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