MoboReader > Literature > Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent

   Chapter 11 THE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES.

Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8798

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Jasper was quietly thinking over his change of circumstances when he was roused by a rather violent slap on the shoulder.

Turning hastily, he saw that it was Nicholas.

"I say, this is a jolly place, Jasper," said Thorne.

"Yes," said Jasper. "It has been my home as far back as I can remember."

"That's where you have the advantage of me, but after all it doesn't make much difference, as long as it's going to be my home now."

Jasper didn't reply.

"I say, Kent, it seems odd that me and you are brothers," said Thorne, not very grammatically.

"We are not," said Jasper, quickly.

"It's all the same-we've got the same mother."

"You are mistaken," said Jasper, coldly.

"You know what I mean. She's my mother and your step-mother."

"That's very different. Besides, the relationship is so very recent that I find it hard to think of your mother as any relation at all."

"She is, though. I suppose me and you will be a good deal together now."

"I don't know what my future plans will be," said Jasper, not very much elated by this prospect.

"No, I suppose not. Mother'll arrange about them. How much allowance did your father use to give you?"

Jasper thought at first of refusing to reply, but it occurred to him that under the new and strange circumstances it was not an improper question for Nicholas to ask. He therefore decided to reply.

"Five dollars a week," he answered.

"When was it paid?"

"On Saturday."

"See here," said Thorne, drawing from his vest pocket the five-dollar bill his mother had given him.

"What of it?" said Jasper.

"It's my allowance for this week," said Thorne, triumphantly.

"I congratulate you," said Jasper, coldly.

"That's kind in you," returned Thorne, with a sneer, "especially as you are cut down."

"What do you mean?" asked Jasper, hastily.

"Mother says five dollars a week is too much for you. She's going to cut you down to three."

The indignant color came to Jasper's cheek. Was this interloper-this stranger-to be preferred to him in his own father's house? He was not excessively fond of money, and had there been need would not have objected to a reduction of his allowance. But to be deprived of his rights in favor of a fellow like Thorne was intolerable. If Nicholas wished to annoy and anger him, he had succeeded.

"Who told you this?" demanded Jasper, sharply.

"My mother," answered Nicholas, with a gratified smile.

"When?"

"About fifteen minutes ago," replied Thorne, with provoking coolness.

"I don't think she would do anything so outrageous."

"Don't you? You'll find mother's got plenty of grit."

"So have I," said Jasper, his face hardening. "If your mother undertakes to wrong me she will repent it."

"You had better not say that to her," said Thorne, insolently.

"I shall when the proper time comes. My allowance is not due yet. I don't care for the money, but my father knew what it was proper for me to have."

"There's going to be a row," thought Nicholas, with satisfaction. "I'll bet on mother. She'll put down this whipper-snapper."

Jasper turned away, and walked out of the yard.

"Where are you going?" asked Thorne.

"To walk."

"I guess I'll go along, too."

"I would rather go alone."

"You're not very polite."

"Excuse me," said Jasper, with the instinct of a gentleman. "You would find me very poor company. Another time we will walk together."

"Oh, just as you like; I don't want to intrude," said Thorne, sulkily.

They did not meet again till supper. Mrs. Kent presided. On one side sat Nicholas, on the other Jasper. Our hero looked sad. The kind, worn face he was accustomed to see at the head of the table was gone forever. He felt that he was indeed desolate. His appetite was very small, while, on the other hand, Nicholas seemed to be famished. His mother kept plying him with dainties and tidbits, and he appeared to like the treatment amazingly.

"Why don't you eat, Jasper?" asked Thorne with his mouth full.

"I am not hungry."

"I should think your walk might have given you an appetite."

"It doesn't appear to."

"You look awful glum. Is it what I said this afternoon?"

"About what?"

"Your allowance being cut down."

"I wasn't thinking about that particularly. Besides, you are not the one from whom I expect to receive such communications."

"It's all true, though, as yo

u will find. Ain't it, mother?" persisted Nicholas, who was anxious to have the row come off as soon as possible.

Jasper turned his glance upon Mrs. Kent.

"You needn't have introduced the subject, Nicholas," she said, with slight reproof.

"Why not, mother?"

"It isn't a proper subject to introduce at the supper-table."

"You see, Jasper didn't half believe what I told him."

"He may rely upon your statement," said Mrs. Kent.

"Am I to understand that my allowance is reduced to three dollars a week?" asked Jasper, who felt that he had been dragged into the discussion.

"Yes. I consider that three dollars a week is a liberal allowance for a boy of your age."

"My father gave me five."

"Your father acted according to his judgment," said Mrs. Kent, coldly. "On some points I differ from him in judgment. I think that he indulged you too much, probably because you were his only child."

"He was always kind to me," said Jasper. "It was his nature to be kind."

"You will find me kind, too, if you deserve it," said his step-mother. But her tone belied her words.

"Nicholas tells me that his allowance is to be five dollars," said Jasper.

"I conceive that the amount of his allowance has nothing to do with yours," said Mrs. Kent.

"Is it true?" persisted Jasper.

"It is," said Mrs. Kent, with a defiant look, which Jasper interpreted to mean "What are you going to do about it?"

"Why is he to receive five dollars, if I am only to get three?"

"Because I choose."

"You have answered rightly," said Jasper, scornfully. "Even you are unable to defend it on the score of fairness or justice."

Mrs. Kent's thin lips compressed.

"Audacious boy!" she exclaimed, "do you dare to speak to me in this style?"

"I am not aware of any impropriety, madam. I am protesting against your unjust partiality for Nicholas."

"He is my son."

"I am aware of that; but the money out of which the allowance is paid came to you from my father."

"Do you dare to continue your impertinent remarks?" exclaimed his step-mother, pale with rage.

"Madam, I am only stating the truth," said Jasper, sturdily. "You cannot expect me to submit tamely to such an injustice. Had you reduced my allowance and given Nicholas no more I would have let it pass."

"I won't submit to this impertinence!" exclaimed Mrs. Kent, furiously. "Nicholas, will you sit there and see your mother insulted?"

"What do you want me to do, mother?" asked Thorne, not exactly liking the turn matters had taken.

"Put that unmannerly boy out of the room."

"Oh, there ain't any need of that," said Thorne, who knew by experience Jasper's strength.

"Do as I say, or I will give you no allowance at all!" said Mrs. Kent, stamping her foot angrily.

Nicholas unwillingly arose from his seat and approached Jasper.

"You'd better not try it, Thorne," said Jasper, coolly.

"Do you hear that, sir? He has insulted you, too," said Mrs. Kent, in a furious passion.

It was these words, perhaps, that spurred Nicholas to his task. Jasper had now risen, and Thorne threw himself upon him.

But Jasper was prepared. In less time than I have required to tell it, Thorne found himself prostrate on the floor.

"Madam," said Jasper, turning to his step-mother, "I am ready to leave your presence now, but of my own accord."

He left the room. Mrs. Kent was too astonished to speak. She had felt no doubt that Nicholas was more than a match for Jasper, as he certainly was bigger, and weighed twenty pounds more.

"My poor boy!" she said, pitifully, bending over her son; "are you much hurt?"

"Yes," said Nicholas; "and it's all on account of you!"

"I thought you were stronger than he."

"So I am, but he knows how to wrestle; besides, he's so quick."

"I thought you could have put him out easily."

"Well, don't set me to doing it again," said Thorne, sulkily. "I didn't want to fight. You made me."

"Don't mind it, my dear boy. It was because I was angry with him."

"Oh, how my head aches!"

"I'll put on some cologne. I'll give you an extra five dollars, too, for standing by your mother."

"All right, mother," said Thorne, in a more cheerful tone. "That's the way to talk. Give it to me now."

Jasper did not see either of them again that evening. He called on a friend, and, entering the house at ten o'clock, went directly to his own room.

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