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- Helping Himself - 2/41 -


"You have a quick temper, my son. Don't allow yourself to speak hastily, or disrespectfully, even if you are disappointed. Mr. Tudor's bill is a just one, and he ought to have his money."

"I'll do the best I can, mother."

CHAPTER II

GRANT MAKES TWO BUSINESS CALLS

Deacon Gridley had a small farm, and farming was his chief occupation, but he had a few thousand dollars laid away in stocks and bonds, and, being a thrifty man, not to say mean, he managed to save up nearly all the interest, which he added to his original accumulation. He always coveted financial trusts, and so it came about that he was parish treasurer. It was often convenient for him to keep in his hands, for a month at a time, money thus collected which ought to have been paid over at once to the minister, but the deacon was a thoroughly selfish man, and cared little how pressed for money Mr. Thornton might be, as long as he himself derived some benefit from holding on to the parish funds.

The deacon was mowing the front yard of his house when Grant came up to his front gate.

"Good-morning, Deacon Gridley," said the minister's son.

"Mornin', Grant," answered the deacon. "How's your folks?"

"Pretty well in health," returned Grant, coming to business at once, "but rather short of money."

"Ministers most gen'ally are," said Deacon Gridley, dryly.

"I should think they might be, with the small salaries they get," said Grant, indignantly.

"Some of 'em do get poorly paid," replied the deacon; "but I call six hundred dollars a pooty fair income."

"It might be for a single man; but when a minister has a wife and three children, like my father, it's pretty hard scratching."

"Some folks ain't got faculty," said the deacon, adding, complacently, "it never cost me nigh on to six hundred dollars a year to live."

The deacon had the reputation of living very penuriously, and Abram Fish, who once worked for him and boarded in the family, said he was half starved there.

"You get your milk and vegetables off the farm," said Grant, who felt the comparison was not a fair one. "That makes a great deal of difference."

"It makes some difference," the deacon admitted, "but not as much as the difference in our expenses. I didn't spend more'n a hundred dollars cash last year."

This excessive frugality may have been the reason why Mrs. Deacon Gridley was always so shabbily dressed. The poor woman had not had a new bonnet for five years, as every lady in the parish well knew.

"Ministers have some expenses that other people don't," persisted Grant.

"What kind of expenses, I'd like to know?"

"They have to buy books and magazines, and entertain missionaries, and hire teams to go on exchanges."

"That's something," admitted the deacon. "Maybe it amounts to twenty or thirty dollars a year."

"More likely a hundred," said Grant.

"That would be awful extravagant sinful waste. If I was a minister, I'd be more keerful."

"Well, Deacon Gridley, I don't want to argue with you. I came to see if you hadn't collected some money for father. Mr. Tudor has sent in his bill, and he wants to be paid."

"How much is it?"

"Sixty-seven dollars and thirty-four cents."

"You don't tell me!" said the deacon, scandalized. "You folks must be terrible extravagant."

Grant hardly knew whether to be more vexed or amused.

"If wanting to have enough to eat is extravagant," he said, "then we are."

"You must live on the fat of the land, Grant."

"We haven't any of us got the gout, nor are likely to have," answered Grant, provoked. "But let us come back to business. Have you got any money for father?"

Now it so happened that Deacon Gridley had fifty dollars collected, but he thought he knew where he could let it out for one per cent, for a month, and he did not like to lose the opportunity.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Grant," he answered, "but folks are slow about payin' up, and--"

"Haven't you got any money collected?" asked Grant, desperately.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said the deacon, with a bright idea. "I've got fifty dollars of my own--say for a month, till I can make collections."

"That would be very kind," said Grant, feeling that he had done the deacon an injustice.

"Of course," the deacon resumed, hastily, "I should have to charge interest. In fact, I was goin' to lend out the money to a neighbor for a month at one per cent; but I'd just as lieve let your father have it at that price."

"Isn't that more than legal interest?" asked Grant.

"Well, you see, money is worth good interest nowadays. Ef your father don't want it, no matter. I can let the other man have it."

Grant rapidly calculated that the interest would only amount to fifty cents, and money must be had.

"I think father'll agree to your terms," he said. "I'll let you know this afternoon."

"All right, Grant. It don't make a mite of difference to me, but if your father wants the money he'll have to speak for it to-day."

"I'll see that the matter is attended to," said Grant, and he went on his way, pleased with the prospect of obtaining money for their impoverished household, even on such hard terms.

Next he made his way to Mr. Tudor's store.

It was one of those country variety stores where almost everything in the way of house supplies can be obtained, from groceries to dry goods.

Mr. Tudor was a small man, with a parchment skin and insignificant features. He was in the act of weighing out a quantity of sugar for a customer when Grant entered.

Grant waited till the shopkeeper was at leisure.

"Did you want to see me, Grant?" said Tudor.

"Yes, Mr. Tudor. You sent over a bill to our house this morning."

"And you've come to pay it. That's right. Money's tight, and I've got bills to pay in the city."

"I've got a little money for you on account," said Grant, watching Tudor's face anxiously.

"How much?" asked the storekeeper, his countenance changing.

"Eight dollars."

"Eight dollars!" ejaculated Tudor, indignantly. "Only eight dollars out of sixty-seven! That's a regular imposition, and I don't care ef your father is a minister, I stick to my words."

Grant was angry, but he remembered his mother's injunction to restrain his temper.

"We'd like to pay the whole, Mr. Tudor, if we had the money, and--"

"Do you think I can trust the whole neighborhood, and only get one dollar in ten of what's due me?" spluttered Mr. Tudor. "Ministers ought to set a better example."

"Ministers ought to get better pay," said Grant.

"There's plenty don't get as much as your father. When do you expect to pay the rest, I'd like to know? I s'pose you expect me to go on trustin', and mebbe six months from now you'll pay me another eight dollars," said the storekeeper, with withering sarcasm.

"I was going to tell you, if you hadn't interrupted me," said Grant, "that we should probably have some more money for you to-morrow."

"How much?"


Helping Himself - 2/41

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