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- Do and Dare - 4/40 -

"It costs more money to live in Boston than you think for, father."

"Don't you get ten dollars a week, sir? At your age I got only seven, and saved two dollars a week."

"You didn't live in Boston, father."

"I didn't smoke cigars," said his father, angrily, as he fixed his eye on the one his son was smoking. "How much did you pay for that miserable weed?"

"You're mistaken, father. It's a very good article. I paid eight dollars a hundred."

"Eight dollars a hundred!" gasped Mr. Graham. "No wonder you can't pay your board bill--I can't afford to spend my money on cigars."

"Oh, yes, you can, father, if you choose. Why, you're a rich man."

"A rich man!" repeated Mr. Graham, nervously. "It would take a rich man to pay your bills. But you haven't told me why you have come home."

"I lost my situation, father--some meddlesome fellow told my employer that I occasionally played a game of pool, and my tailor came to the store and dunned me; so old Boggs gave me a long lecture and my walking papers, and here I am."

Ebenezer Graham was sorely troubled, and, though he isn't a favorite of mine, I confess, that in this matter he has my sincere sympathy.



Ebenezer Graham with some difficulty ascertained from Eben that he had other bills, amounting in the aggregate to forty-seven dollars. This added to the board bill, made a total of seventy-seven dollars. Mr. Graham's face elongated perceptibly.

"That is bad enough," he said; "but you have lost your income also, and that makes matters worse. Isn't there a chance of the firm taking you back?"

"No, sir," replied the prodigal. "You see, we had a flare up, and I expressed my opinion of them pretty plainly. They wouldn't take me back if I'd come for nothing."

"And they won't give you a recommendation, either?" said Ebenezer, with a half groan.

"No, sir; I should say not."

"So you have ruined your prospects so far as Boston is concerned," said his father, bitterly. "May I ask how you expect to get along?"

"I have a plan," said Eben, with cheerful confidence.

"What is it?"

"I would like to go to California. If I can't get any situation in San Francisco, I can go to the mines."

"Very fine, upon my word!" said his father, sarcastically. "And how do you propose to get to California?"

"I can go either by steamer, across the isthmus, or over the Union Pacific road."

"That isn't what I mean. Where are you to get the money to pay your fare with?"

"I suppose you will supply that," said Eben.

"You do? Well, it strikes me you have some assurance," ejaculated Mr. Graham. "You expect me to advance hundreds of dollars, made by working early and late, to support a spendthrift son!"

"I'll pay you back as soon as I am able," said Eben, a little abashed.

"No doubt! You'd pay me in the same way you pay your board bills," said Ebenezer, who may be excused for the sneer. "I can invest my money to better advantage than upon you."

"Then, if you will not do that," said Eben, sullenly, "I will leave you to suggest a plan."

"There is only one plan I can think of, Eben. Go back to your old place in the store. I will dismiss the Carr boy, and you can attend to the post office, and do the store work."

"What, go back to tending a country grocery, after being a salesman in a city store!" exclaimed Eben, disdainfully.

"Yes, it seems the only thing you have left. It's your own fault that you are not still a salesman in the city."

Eben took the cigar from his mouth, and thought rapidly.

"Well," he said, after a pause, "if I agree to do this, what will you pay me?"

"What will I pay you?"

"Yes, will you pay me ten dollars a week--the same as I got at Hanbury & Deane's?"

"Ten dollars a week!" ejaculated Ebenezer, "I don't get any more than that myself."

"I guess there's a little mistake in your calculations, father," said Eben, significantly. "If you don't make at least forty dollars a week, including the post office, then I am mistaken."

"So you are--ridiculously mistaken!" said his father, sharply. "What you presume is entirely out of the question. You forget that you will be getting your board, and Tom Tripp only received a dollar and a half a week without board."

"Is that all you pay to Herbert Carr?"

"I pay him a leetle more," admitted Ebenezer.

"What will you give me?"

"I'll give you your board and clothes," said Ebenezer, "and that seems to be more than you made in Boston."

"Are you in earnest?" asked Eben, in genuine dismay.

"Certainly. It isn't a bad offer, either."

"Do you suppose a young man like me can get along without money?"

"You ought to get along without money for the next two years, after the sums you've wasted in Boston. It will cripple me to pay your bills," and the storekeeper groaned at the thought of the inroads the payment would make on his bank account.

"You're poorer than I thought, if seventy-five dollars will cripple you," said Eben, who knew his father's circumstances too well to be moved by this representation.

"I shall be in the poorhouse before many years if I undertake to pay all your bills, Eben."

After all, this was not, perhaps, an exaggeration, for a spendthrift son can get through a great deal of money.

"I can't get along without money, father," said Eben, decidedly. "How can I buy cigars, let alone other things?"

"I don't want you to smoke cigars. You'll be a great deal better off without them," said his father, sharply.

"I understand; it's necessary to my health," said Eben, rather absurdly.

"You won't smoke at my expense," said Ebenezer, decidedly. "I don't smoke myself, and I never knew any good come of it."

"All the same, I must have some money. What will people say about a young man of my age not having a cent in his pocket? They think my father is very mean."

"I'll allow you fifty cents a week," said Mr. Graham, after a pause.

"That won't do! You seem to think I am only six or seven years old!"

Finally, after considerable haggling, Mr. Graham agreed to pay his son a dollar and a half a week, in cash, besides board and clothes. He reflected that he should be obliged to board and clothe his son at any rate, and should save a dollar and a half from Herbert's wages.

"Well," he said, "when will you be ready to go to work?"

"I must have a few days to loaf, father. I have been hard at work for a long time, and need some rest."

"Then you can begin next Monday morning. I'll get Herbert to show you how to prepare the mail, so that you won't have any trouble about the post-office work."

"By the way, father, how do you happen to have the post office? I thought Mrs. Carr was to carry it on."

"So she did, for a time, but a woman ain't fit for a public position of that kind. So I applied for the position, and got it."

Do and Dare - 4/40

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