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- Hector's Inheritance - 30/41 -


"That word is trouble,'" answered the bootblack.

"Come with me into this side street," said Hector, leading the way into Howard Street. "You have a story to tell, and I want to hear it."

"Yes, I have a story to tell."

"I hope your father and mother are well," said Hector, interrupting him.

"Yes, they are well in health, but they are in trouble, as I told you."

"What is the trouble?"

"It all comes of Mr. Allan Roscoe," answered Larry, "and his son, Guy."

"Tell me all about it."

"I was walking in the fields one day," said Larry, "when Guy came out and began to order me round, and call me a clodhopper and other unlikely names, which I didn't enjoy. Finally he pulled off my hat, and when I put it back on my head, he pulled it off again. Finally I found the only way to do was to give him as good as he sent. So I pulled off his hat and threw it up in a tree. He became very angry, and ordered me to go up after it. I wouldn't do it, but walked away. The next day my father was summoned to the house, where Mr. Allan Roscoe complained of me for insulting his son. He asked my father to thrash me, and when father refused, he discharged him from his employment. A day or two afterward a new gardener came to Roscoe Castle, and father understood that there was no chance of his being taken back."

"That was very mean in Mr. Roscoe," said Hector, indignantly.

"Yes, so it was; but father couldn't do anything. He couldn't get a new place, for it wasn't the right time of year, and Mr. Roscoe said he wouldn't give him a recommendation. Well, we had very little money in the house, for mother has been sick of late years, and all father's extra earnings went to pay for medicines and the doctor's bill. So one day I told father I would come to New York and see if I couldn't find something to do."

"I think you did the right thing, Larry," said Hector, approvingly. "It was your duty to help your father if you could."

"I can't help him much," answered Larry.

"What made you take up this business, Larry?"

"I couldn't get anything else to do. besides, this pays better than working in a store or office."

"How--much can you earn at it?"

"Six or seven dollars a week."

"I should think it would require all that to support you."

"It would if I went to a boarding house, but I can't afford that,"

"Where do you live?"

"At the Newsboys' Lodging House."

"How much does that cost you?"

"For eighteen cents a day I get supper, lodging and breakfast. In the middle of the day I go to a cheap restaurant."

"Then you are able to save something?"

"Yes; last week I sent home three dollars, the week before two dollars and a half."

"Why, that is doing famously. You are a good boy, Larry."

"Thank you, Hector; but, though it is doing very well for me, it isn't as much as they need at home. Besides, I can't keep it up, as, after a while, I shall need to buy some new clothes. If your father had been alive, my father would never have lost his place. Master Hector, won't you use your influence with your uncle to have him taken back?"

Hector felt keenly how powerless he was in the matter. He looked grave, as he answered:

"Larry, you may be sure that I would do all in my power to have your father restored to the position from which he never should have been removed; but I fear I can do nothing."

"Won't you write to Mr. Roscoe?" pleaded Larry, who, of course, did not understand why Hector was powerless.

"Yes, I will write to him, but I am sorry to say that I have very little influence with Mr. Roscoe."

"That is strange," said Larry; "and you the owner of the estate."

Hector did not care to explain to Larry just how matters stood, so he only said:

"I can't explain to you what seems strange to you, Larry, but I may be able to do so some time. I will certainly write to Mr. Roscoe, as you desire; but you must not build any hopes upon it. Meanwhile, will you accept this from me, and send it to your father?"

As he spoke, he drew from his pocketbook a five-dollar bill and handed it to his humble friend.

Larry would not have accepted it had he known that Hector was nearly as poor as himself, but, supposing him to be the heir of a large and rich estate, he felt no hesitation.

"Thank you very much, Hector," he said; "you had always a kind heart. This money will do my father very much good. I will send it to him to-day."

"Do you generally stand here, Larry?" asked Hector.

"Yes."

"Then I will take pains to see you again."

"Shall you stay long in the city, Master Hector?"

"Not Master Hector."

"Then Hector, if you don't mind."

"I shall be here for the present--I don't know how long."

"Then let me black your boots for nothing every time you come by--I want to do something for you."

"Thank you, Larry; but I don't like to have a friend perform such a service. Remember me to your father when you write."

"I wish I could do something for Larry," said Hector, to himself, as he walked away. "As it is, I stand in need of help myself."

He was to make a friend that day under rather unusual circumstances.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

TWO MORE ACQUAINTANCES.

Hector continued his walk downtown. Despite the crowds of persons who thronged the sidewalks, he did not anticipate meeting anyone else that he knew. But he was destined to another surprise. On the corner of Murray Street he saw two persons advancing toward him, the last, perhaps, that he expected to see. Not to keep the reader in suspense, it was Allan Roscoe and his son, Guy.

Guy was the first to recognize Hector. Of course, he, too, was surprised.

"Why, there's Hector!" he exclaimed, directing his father's attention to our hero.

Allan Roscoe looked up quickly. It is hard to tell whether he felt glad or the reverse at this meeting with the boy whom he called his ward.

An instant later Hector recognized Guy and his father.

"How do you do, Mr. Roscoe?" he said, politely.

"Very well. When did you reach New York?"

"On Saturday."

It should have been explained that Hector had spent Sunday quietly with Mr. Ross and Walter, and that this was Monday.

"Ahem! I was very much surprised at your leaving the institute," said Mr. Roscoe.

"I explained to you in my letter why I proposed to leave it," Hector answered, coldly.

"I did not think your reason sufficient."

"As Mr. Smith saw fit to bring a base charge against me, and persisted in it, even after he must have been convinced that his nephew was guilty, I was unwilling to remain under his charge any longer."


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