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- Helping Himself - 1/41 -


Produced by Carrie Fellman.

HELPING HIMSELF

Or

Grant Thornton's Ambition

By HORATIO ALGER, JR.

NEW YORK

HELPING HIMSELF

CHAPTER I

THE MINISTER'S SON

"I wish we were not so terribly poor, Grant," said Mrs. Thornton, in a discouraged tone.

"Is there anything new that makes you say so, mother?" answered the boy of fifteen, whom she addressed.

"Nothing new, only the same old trouble. Here is a note from Mr. Tudor, the storekeeper."

"Let me see it, mother."

Grant took a yellow envelope from his mother's hand, and drew out the inclosure, a half sheet of coarse letter paper, which contained the following lines:

"July 7, 1857.

REV. JOHN THORNTON:

DEAR SIR: Inclosed you will find a bill for groceries and other goods furnished to you in the last six months, amounting to sixty-seven dollars and thirty-four cents ($67.34). It ought to have been paid before. How you, a minister of the Gospel, can justify yourself in using goods which you don't pay for, I can't understand. If I remember rightly, the Bible says: 'Owe no man anything.' As I suppose you recognize the Bible as an authority, I expect you to pay up promptly, and oblige,

Yours respectfully, THOMAS TUDOR."

Grant looked vexed and indignant. "I think that is an impudent letter, mother," he said.

"It is right that the man should have his money, Grant."

"That is true, but he might have asked for it civilly, without taunting my poor father with his inability to pay. He would pay if he could."

"Heaven knows he would, Grant," said his mother, sighing.

"I would like to give Mr. Tudor a piece of my mind." "I would rather pay his bill. No, Grant, though he is neither kind nor considerate, we must admit that his claim is a just one. If I only knew where to turn for money!"

"Have you shown the bill to father?" asked Grant.

"No; you know how unpractical your father is. It would only annoy and make him anxious, and he would not know what to do. Your poor father has no business faculty."

"He is a very learned man," said Grant, proudly.

"Yes, he graduated very high at college, and is widely respected by his fellow ministers, but he has no aptitude for business."

"You have, mother. If you had been a man, you would have done better than he. Without your good management we should have been a good deal worse off than we are. It is the only thing that has kept our heads above water."

"I am glad you think so, Grant. I have done the best I could, but no management will pay bills without money."

It was quite true that the minister's wife was a woman of excellent practical sense, who had known how to make his small salary go very far. In this respect she differed widely from her learned husband, who in matters of business was scarcely more than a child. But, as she intimated with truth, there was something better than management, and that was ready cash.

"To support a family on six hundred dollars a year is very hard, Grant, when there are three children," resumed his mother.

"I can't understand why a man like father can't command a better salary," said Grant. "There's Rev. Mr. Stentor, in Waverley, gets fifteen hundred dollars salary, and I am sure he can't compare with father in ability."

"True, Grant, but your father is modest, and not given to blowing his own trumpet, while Mr. Stentor, from all I can hear, has a very high opinion of himself."

"He has a loud voice, and thrashes round in his pulpit, as if he were a--prophet," said Grant, not quite knowing how to finish his sentence.

"Your father never was a man to push himself forward. He is very modest."

"I suppose that is not the only bill that we owe," said Grant.

"No; our unpaid bills must amount to at least two hundred dollars more," answered his mother.

Grant whistled.

Two hundred and sixty-seven dollars seemed to him an immense sum, and so it was, to a poor minister with a family of three children and a salary of only six hundred dollars. Where to obtain so large a sum neither Grant nor his mother could possibly imagine. Even if there were anyone to borrow it from, there seemed no chance to pay back so considerable a sum.

Mother and son looked at each other in perplexity. Finally, Grant broke the silence.

"Mother," he said, "one thing seems pretty clear. I must go to work. I am fifteen, well and strong, and I ought to be earning my own living."

"But your father has set his heart upon your going to college, Grant."

"And I should like to go, too; but if I did it would be years before I could be anything but an expense and a burden, and that would make me unhappy."

"You are almost ready for college, Grant, are you not?"

"Very nearly. I could get ready for the September examination. I have only to review Homer, and brush up my Latin."

"And your uncle Godfrey is ready to help you through."

"That gives me an idea, mother. It would cost Uncle Godfrey as much as nine hundred dollars a year over and above all the help I could get from the college funds, and perhaps from teaching school this winter. Now, if he would allow me that sum for a single year and let me go to work, I could pay up all father's debts, and give him a new start. It would save Uncle Godfrey nine hundred dollars."

"He has set his heart on your going to college. I don't think he would agree to help you at all if you disappoint him."

"At any rate, I could try the experiment. Something has got to be done, mother."

"Yes, Grant, there is no doubt of that. Mr. Tudor is evidently in earnest. If we don't pay him, I think it very likely he will refuse to let us have anything more on credit. And you know there is no other grocery store in the village."

"Have you any money to pay him on account, mother?"

"I have eight dollars."

"Let me have that, and go over and see what I can do with him. We can't get along without groceries. By the way, mother, doesn't the parish owe father anything?"

"They are about sixty dollars in arrears on the salary."

"And the treasurer is Deacon Gridley?"

"Yes."

"Then I'll tell you what I will do. I'll first go over to the deacon's and try to collect something. Afterward I will call on Mr. Tudor."

"It is your father's place to do it, but he has no business faculty, and could not accomplish anything. Go, then, Grant, but remember one thing."

"What is that, mother?"


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