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   Chapter 15 GOOD-BYE.

Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7160

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Without exception, Jasper," said Mr. Miller, on his return, "I consider your step-mother the most disagreeble woman I ever met."

Jasper could not help smiling at the look of disgust upon the features of his father's friend.

"Then, sir, I infer that you did not succeed in your mission," he said.

"Succeed? No. She will offer no terms except unconditional submission on your part."

"That I won't agree to." said Jasper, promptly.

"I don't blame you-not a particle," said Mr. Miller.

"So much is settled, then," said Jasper. "Now the question comes up-what am I to do?"

"How old are you?"

"Nearly sixteen."

"Then five years must elapse before you come into possession of your property?"

"Yes, sir."

"And for that length of time you are to be under the guardianship of Mrs. Kent?"

"Yes, sir."

"It is unfortunate," said the old gentleman, shrugging his shoulders. "I took the liberty to suggest to your step-mother that if the cares of a guardian should prove burdensome to her I would assume them."

"What did she say?"

"She replied in a sarcastic manner, and avowed her determination to remain your guardian."

"What would you advise me to do, then, Mr. Miller?"

"Before answering, Jasper, I will tell you a secret."

Jasper looked curious.

"Your father left in my hands a paper to be opened two years after his death. It undoubtedly relates to you."

"What do you think it is?"

"It may relate to the guardianship, but that is only conjecture."

"Does my step-mother know of this?"

"Neither she nor anyone else, save you and myself."

"It will do us no good at present?"

"No; but it influences my advice. Go to school for the next two years. I will advance the money to pay your bills. If at the end of that time the paper is what I hope it is, you will then be able to pay me, and for the balance of your minority I can become your guardian."

"I wish you might, Mr. Miller; but I don't think, under the circumstances, I want to go back to school."

"What do you wish to do, Jasper?"

"I am young, and I would like to see something of the world. I would like to imagine myself a poor boy, as I really am just now, and see if I cannot make my own way."

"I hardly know what to say to that, Jasper. I am afraid you do not appreciate the difficulties in your way."

"To battle against them will make me strong."

"Suppose you get in a tight place?"

"Then I will write to you for help."

"That's better. On this condition I will make no further opposition to your wishes. But have you any money?"

"Ten dollars."

"Rather a small sum to begin the world with."

"Yes, sir. If you are willing to lend me fifty more I think I can get along till I can earn some."

"Willingly. Where do you propose to go?"

"To the West. My father has a cousin, a lady, married, and living in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi. I have never been to the West. I should like to go out there and see if I can't find some employment in that neighborhood."

"I suppose I must not object, but your plan appears to me rather quixotic."

"You might not have thought so at my age, Mr. Miller."

"No; we look upon such things differently as we grow older. When do you want to start?"

"To-morrow."

"Stay at my house till then."

"Thank you, sir. I will go home this afternoon and get my carpet-bag and a few underclothes, and then I shall be ready to start to-morrow morning."

Jasper did as proposed. He would gladly have dispensed with this call at the house which had once been a home to hi

m, but was so no longer; but it was necessary to make it.

He caught sight of Tom Forbes near the house.

"Tom," he called out, "do you know if Mrs. Kent is at home?"

"No, Master Jasper, she went out riding, and her cub went with her."

"I am afraid you're not respectful, Tom," said Jasper, laughing.

"He don't deserve respect. He puts on as many airs as a prince. I warrant he was poor enough before his mother took him home. What do you think he said to me?"

"What was it?"

"'Look here, Tom, you harness the horse right up, do you hear? Don't stand dawdling there, for I and mother are going out to ride.'"

"That sounds like Nicholas."

"You may be sure he ain't used to prosperity, or he wouldn't put on so many airs!"

"Well, Tom, I'm glad Mrs. Kent is out. I don't want to meet her, nor Nicholas, either."

"You'll see 'em at supper, won't you?"

"No; I shall not be here to supper."

"When are you coming back?"

"Not at all."

"You don't mean that, Master Jasper?"

"Yes, I do."

"Are you going to school?"

"No; I'm going out West."

"Out West?" exclaimed Tom Forbes, stopping work in surprise.

"Yes, Tom, I'm going out there to seek my fortune."

"But there ain't any need of that, Master Jasper. Didn't your father leave you a fortune?"

"I'm not to have it till I'm twenty-one, and till then my step-mother is my guardian. Now, I put it to you, Tom, can I stay at home to be treated as you saw me treated this morning?"

"No, you can't, that's a fact. Master Jasper, I wish you'd take me with you as your servant."

"As to that, Tom, I am in no position to have a servant; I've got to work for my own living."

"And she here living on the fat of the land!" exclaimed Tom, indignantly. "It's an outrageous shame!"

"Strong language, Tom," said Jasper, smiling. "Mind my amiable step-mother doesn't hear you."

"I don't care if she does."

"Thank you for your offer, Tom, but I must go alone. Perhaps I shall prosper out there. I hope so, at any rate."

"Have you got any money, Master Jasper? I've got a few dollars laid by. If they'll do you any good you're welcome to take 'em. I shan't need 'em."

"Thank you, Tom," said Jasper, cordially grasping his toil-embrowned hand, "but I am well provided for. Mr. Miller, my father's friend, is mine, too. He has lent me some money, and will lend me more if I need it."

"I'm glad of that. You'll always find friends."

Half an hour later, as Jasper was going up the street, with his carpet-bag in one hand, he saw the open carriage approaching in which Mrs. Kent and Nicholas were seated. He would liked to have escaped observation, but there was no chance.

"Why, there's Jasper!" said Nicholas, "and he's got a carpet-bag in his hand."

"Stop the carriage!" said Mrs. Kent, peremptorily.

Nicholas, who was driving, obeyed.

"Have you been to the house?" asked the step-mother.

"Yes," said Jasper.

"What does that carpet-bag mean?"

"It means that I am going away."

"Where? As your guardian, I demand to know!"

"As my guardian, will you provide for my expenses?"

"No."

"Then I don't feel called upon to tell you."

"You will repent this insubordination," said Mrs. Kent, angrily. "You will yet return home in rags."

"Never!" answered Jasper, with emphasis. "Good-afternoon, Mrs. Kent."

"Drive on, Nicholas!" said Mrs. Kent, angrily. "How I hate that boy!" she ejaculated.

"It strikes me, mother, you've got the best of it," said Nicholas. "You've got his property, and as to his company, we can do without that."

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