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   Chapter 30 STILL HIGHER!

Bart Stirling's Road to Success; Or, The Young Express Agent By Allen Chapman Characters: 7704

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Bart Stirling was a proud and happy boy as he stood at the door of the express office looking down the tracks of the B. & M.

A new spur was being constructed, and it divided to semi-inclose a substantial foundation which was the start of the new and commodious express office. The blue sky, smiling down on the busy scene, was no more serene than the prospect which the future seemed to offer for the successful young express agent.

With his last reckless crime Lem Wacker had ceased to be a disturbing element at Pleasantville. After two months' confinement he had limped out of the hospital, out of town, and out of Bart Stirling's life.

Colonel Jeptha Harrington himself had left town with the beginning of winter. It was said he intended to make an extended trip in Europe.

With his departure, a new Mr. Baker seemed to spring into existence. Divested of his disguise, no longer a fear-filled roustabout fugitive, Bart's strange friend had found a steady, lucrative position at the hotel, and Bart felt that he had certainly been the means of doing some real good in the world every time he looked at the happy, contented face of his protégé.

Concerning all the details of Baker's past, Bart never knew the entire truth.

Baker felt, however, that it was due to his champion that he explain in the main the mystery of his connection with Colonel Harrington, and he told a strange story.

It seemed that the purse-proud colonel had a poor brother living in another State.

This brother owned a farm on which there lived with him a man named Adams, a widower, and his little daughter, Dorothy.

Adams was a close friend of Samuel Harrington, and out of his earnings saved the place from being taken on a mortgage.

Samuel Harrington always told Adams that he had made a will, and that in case of his sudden death the farm would go to him. He gave Adams a letter certifying to his having a claim of over three thousand dollars against the property, which he told Adams to show to his rich brother when he died, asserting that, although Colonel Harrington had shamefully neglected him, he would never dishonorably repudiate a claim of that kind.

When Samuel Harrington died, his brother appeared, took possession of the farm as only heir, and cruelly drove Mr. Adams and his child from the place.

He tore up the written statement Adams gave him, ridiculed his claims, and, no will being found, sold the place for a song and left Adams an invalid pauper.

Adams had done Baker, or, as his real name was, Albert Baker Mills, a great service once.

Baker, or Mills, supported Adams and his child for a year. Adams spent all his time bemoaning his fate, and haunted the old farm in a search of the will of Samuel Harrington.

One day he did not appear, nor the following. Early on the morning of the third day he staggered into the house, weak and fainting. He was taken down with a fever, was delirious for a week, and at the end of that time died.

Just before his death he tried to tell something about the will. Baker made out that he had found it, that it was at Pleasantville, nothing more.

After his friend's death, Baker wrote a letter to Colonel Harrington. He accused him of his dishonorable conduct, and threatened to publicly expose him if he did not provide in some way for the little orphan, Dorothy, for whom he had found a home with a poor relative.

A week later Colonel Harrington sought out Baker, told him he had trumped up a charge against him that would land him in jail, which Baker later discovered was the truth, and gave him twenty-four hours to leave the country.

From that time the poor fellow was a fugitive, venturing to appear only in disguise at Pleasantville. Adams, it seemed, had found the will and had sent it to Pleasantville addressed to himself, not daring to face the c

olonel with the important document in his possession, but never living to carry out his plan.

In the settlement with Colonel Harrington, Baker had received a letter exculpating him totally from the trumped up charge, and a check for five thousand dollars, which money was now held in trust by a bank to provide for little Dorothy's future.

Bart felt much gratified over the way all these tangled strands in the warp and woof of his young life had been straightened out, but he experienced a final blessing that filled him with unutterable joy and gratefulness.

A week previous his father had returned from a month's treatment by a city expert oculist.

Robert Stirling came back to Pleasantville a well man.

That was a joyful night at the little Stirling home, when Mr. Stirling once again looked with restored sight upon the faces of the many friends who respected and loved him.

Mr. Stirling, while in the city, had been an invited guest at the home of Mr. Leslie, and the express superintendent had learned a good deal more about his devoted son than he had ever known before.

"Come out of it!" hailed a jolly voice, and Bart was disturbed in his pleasant reverie by the appearance of Darry and Bob Haven.

"It's settled!" cried the latter ecstatically?-"we're going into the regular business at last."

"I don't quite catch on," returned Bart.

"The printing and publishing business," put in Darry. "We have got the money together for a nice little plant, and father and mother are willing that we shall go ahead. Some day you'll see us running a regular newspaper."

"Well, I wish you good luck-you certainly deserve it," answered the young express agent, warmly.

"There is only one drawback," resumed Bob. "We'll have to give up helping you."

"Don't let that bother you. I'll find somebody else. Say, it will be fine to start a regular newspaper," went on Bart. "I guess you'd wake some of the old-timers up-they are so moss-eaten. This town needs a bright, up-to-date sheet."

"We are going to push the printing and publishing business all we can," answered Darry, earnestly. How he and his brother carried out their project I shall relate in another story, to be called, "Working Hard to Win." It was no light undertaking, but the boys entered into it with a vigor that was bound to command success.

"You see, father can help us a good deal," said Bob. "He used to be an editor, you know. And more than that, mother can make us whatever pictures we may need."

"Oh, you'll be right in it, I know," laughed Bart. "When you start your newspaper put me down as the first subscriber. Your subscription money is ready whenever you want it."

At that moment a messenger appeared.

"Letter for you," said he to the young express agent, and hurried about his business.

"From the express people," murmured Bart, tearing open the letter.

As he perused it, such a quick, bright glow flashed into his face and eyes, that the watchful Darry at once surmised that Bart had received a communication out of the ordinary.

"Good news, Bart?" he inquired.

"Read it," said Bart simply, and quick-witted Darry saw that he was almost too overcome to speak further.

The letter was from Mr. Leslie the superintendent, and contained two paragraphs.

The first stated that from the fifteenth of the coming month Mr. Robert Stirling would resume his position as express agent at Pleasantville, thenceforward made a "Class B" station, at a salary of seventy dollars a month.

The second paragraph requested Mr. Bart Stirling to report at headquarters for assignment to duty at a city office as assistant manager.

Darry Haven reached out and caught the hand of his loyal friend in a warm, glad clasp.

"Capital!" he cried enthusiastically-"in line with your motto, Bart Stirling-higher still!"

THE END

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