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From Farm to Fortune; or, Nat Nason's Strange Experience By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 6978

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The sight of Abner Balberry flat on his back, and with the milk flowing over him, was a comical one, and for the instant Nat had to laugh out-right.

"Hi! hi!" roared the farmer. "Git away! Drat the beasts! Now, Nat Nason, jest see what you've done!"

He struggled to his feet, and Nat at once became sober, for he realized that trouble was at hand.

"It's too bad, Uncle Abner--" began the youth.

"Too bad? I should say it was too bad!" cried the farmer. "An' all your fault, too!"

"I can't see how it was my fault. You told me to drive the cow up here."

"Don't tell me, Nat Nason! It's your fault. An' all that fresh milk gone to waste!" Abner Balberry gave a groan. "I don't know most what I'm a-goin' to do with you fer this."

"I can't see how it's my fault."

"You made the cows git frightened."

"No, I didn't."

"Don't tell me! Don't you know that milk is worth money?"

"Yes, but--"

"You scart thet cow out o' her wits," went on the farmer, his rage growing as he looked at the spilt milk. "Nat Nason, I tell you, you're a bad boy!"

To this the youth made no reply.

"I'm a-goin' to teach ye a lesson fer it!"

"Shall I milk Jule?"

"Yes, an' mind ye don't spill a drop nuther!"

Silently Nat went to work, and milked not only the new cow but also two of the others. By this time milking was over, and the lacteal fluid was carried to the spring-house to cool. Then the cows were allowed to wander down to the pasture for the night.

When Nat approached the kitchen again an appetizing odor of frying fish filled the air. The boy's uncle followed him.

"Supper is ready," said Mrs. Felton, cheerfully. "You had some trouble with the cows, didn't you?" she continued.

"It was Nat's fault," grumbled Abner Balberry. "He made them run around an' upset everything. Nat, I said as how I was going to teach ye a lesson. You wash up an' go to bed at once."

"Go to bed?" queried the boy.

"Thet's what I said, didn't I?"

"Do you mean right after supper?"

"No, I mean before supper," snarled Abner Balberry.

"Oh, isn't he to have his supper first?" put in the housekeeper, timidly.

"No, he ain't."

After this abrupt declaration there was an awkward pause.

"Do you want me to go to bed without my supper?" asked Nat, slowly.

"That's what I said."

"It isn't fair."

"Ain't it?"

"No, it isn't. It wasn't my fault that the milk was spilt, so there!"

"You say much more to me an' I'll tan yer hide well fer ye!" stormed Abner Balberry.

"Don't you want him to have none of the fish he brought in?" asked the housekeeper.

"The fish ain't worth much."

"Maybe you'd like to have all the fish yourself?" put in Nat, tartly, before he had stopped to think.

Angered at this remark the farmer turned around and caught the youth by the collar and began to shake him.

"I'll teach ye to talk back to me!" he snarled. "I'll teach ye! Now go to bed, an' be quick about it."

"I want my supper!" came doggedly from Nat. He felt that he had earned the meal and he needed it.

"Not a mouthful."

"If you don't give me my supper I won't work for you any more, Uncle Abner!"

"Wot! Goin' to talk to me like this!" screamed the farmer, and caught the boy once again. "Up to your room with ye, before I trounce ye well!"

He shook Nat fiercely, and a struggle ensued between the pair which came to an end when a chair was overturned and then a side table on which rested some of the things for supper.


Oh, the eating!" screamed the housekeeper, in alarm. "And the teapot is smashed!" she added, sadly.

"It's all Nat's fault," came from Abner Balberry. "He is a good-fer-nuthin', he is! Off to bed with ye, before I git my horsewhip!"

He opened the door leading to the enclosed stairs, and fearful of another attack Nat retreated. As soon as he was on the stairs, the farmer slammed the door shut and bolted it. A minute later he and Mrs. Felton heard the youth ascend the stairs to his own room.

"It was kind of hard on the boy to make him go to bed without his supper," remarked the housekeeper, as she gathered up the things on the floor.

"It's his own fault," snorted the farmer. "He's got to be took down, he has!"

"He hasn't had a mouthful since noon, and we had a light dinner, too."

"I can't help that, Mrs. Felton. I'm goin' to teach him a lesson."

"Nat is a high-spirited boy, Mr. Balberry. Maybe he won't stand for it."

"He has got to stand fer it," was the answer, from the sink, where the farmer was washing his face and hands.

"But if he won't?"

"Wot can he do, I'd like to know?"

"I'm sure I don't know-but he may do something that you least expect."

"He won't do nuthin'," said the farmer, and sank down in his seat at the table. "He can't do nuthin'. I give him a good home, but he don't seem to a'preciate it nohow."

To this Mrs. Felton did not reply, but set the food on the table. The fish had not been spoilt, and the farmer ate all he wished of the dish.

"Why don't you eat?" he asked of the housekeeper, seeing that she had abstained from touching the fish.

"I-I don't care for it," she answered. She had in mind to save what was left and give it to Nat for his breakfast.

"That boy is gittin' too big fer his boots," went on Abner Balberry. "He acts like he was of age, an' he is only sixteen. Last week he wanted to know how soon I was goin' to pay him reg'lar wages."

"And what did you tell him?"

"Told him I'd pay him wages when he was wuth it an' not before."

"He does almost a man's work now, doesn't he?"

"Not much! Besides, don't I feed an' clothe him an' give him a comfortable home? He's got too high-falutin' notions, he has!"

"But don't you think he ought to have some money?" went on Mrs. Felton, who could be a trifle independent herself at times.

"No. Money is the ruination o' young folks. Week before last he wanted a quarter to go to the circus with, but he didn't git it."

"Almost all of the boys in this district went to the circus. Tom Bradley told me it was very good, too."

"Humph! That Bradley boy is going to the dogs as fast as he can go."

"Deacon Slide thinks he is a very good boy."

"Well, the deacon don't know everything. I'm goin' to make Nat toe the mark until he is twenty-one. After that I'll wash my hands o' him."

The farmer finished his supper and then went out to see that everything was all right around the farm for the night. A little later he took a lamp and went upstairs. Tiptoeing his way through an upper hall he came to a pause in front of Nat's room.

"Asleep, jest as I thought," he told himself, after listening to the boy's breathing. Then he peeped into the room, to behold Nat lying under the cover of the bed, with his face turned to the wall.

"I'll give him another talkin' to in the mornin'," the farmer told himself; and then retired, with no thought of what was going to happen before the sun arose upon another day.

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