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- Helping Himself - 3/41 -


"Twenty-five dollars," answered the boy, knowing that part of the money borrowed must go in other quarters. "Will that be satisfactory?"

"That's more like!" said Tudor, calming down. "Ef you'll pay that I'll give you a leetle more time on the rest. Do you want anything this mornin'? I've got some prime butter just come in."

"I'll call for some articles this afternoon, Mr. Tudor. Here are the eight dollars. Please credit us with that sum."

"Well, I've accomplished something," said Grant to himself as he plodded homeward.

CHAPTER III

GRANT WALKS TO SOMERSET

GODFREY THORNTON, Grant's uncle, lived in the neighboring town of Somerset. He was an old bachelor, three years older than his brother, the minister, and followed the profession of a lawyer. His business was not large, but his habits were frugal, and he had managed to save up ten thousand dollars. Grant had always been a favorite with him, and having no son of his own he had formed the plan of sending him to college. He was ambitious that he should be a professional man.

It might have been supposed that he would have felt disposed to assist his brother, whose scanty salary he knew was inadequate to the needs of a family. But Godfrey Thornton was an obstinate man, and chose to give assistance in his own way, and no other. It would be a very handsome thing, he thought, to give his nephew a college education. And so, indeed, it would. But he forgot one thing. In families of limited means, when a boy reaches the age of fifteen or sixteen he is very properly expected to earn something toward the family income, and this Grant could not do while preparing for college. If his uncle could have made up his mind to give his brother a small sum annually to make up for this, all would have been well. Not that this idea had suggested itself to the Rev. John Thorn-ton. He felt grateful for his brother's intentions toward Grant, and had bright hopes of his boy's future. But, in truth, pecuniary troubles affected him less than his wife. She was the manager, and it was for her to contrive and be anxious.

After Grant had arranged the matters referred to in the preceding chapter, he told his mother that he proposed to go to Somerset to call on his uncle.

"No, Grant, I don't object, though I should be sorry to have you lose the chance of an education."

"I have a very fair education already, mother. Of course I should like to go to college, but I can't bear to have you and father struggling with poverty. If I become a business man, I may have a better chance to help you. At any rate, I can help you sooner. If I can only induce Uncle Godfrey to give you the sum my education would cost him, I shall feel perfectly easy."

"You can make the attempt, my son, but I have doubts about your success."

Grant, however, was more hopeful. He didn't see why his uncle should object, and it would cost him no more money. It seemed to him very plain sailing, and he set out to walk to Somerset, full of courage and hope.

It was a pretty direct road, and the distance--five miles--was not formidable to a strong-limbed boy like Grant. In an hour and a half he entered the village, and soon reached the small one-story building which served his uncle as an office.

Entering, he saw his uncle busy with some papers at his desk.

The old lawyer raised his eyes as the door opened.

"So it's you, Grant, is it?" he said. "Nobody sick at home, eh?"

"No, Uncle Godfrey, we are all well."

"I was afraid some one might be sick, from your coming over. However, I suppose you have some errand in Somerset."

"My only errand is to call upon you, uncle."

"I suppose I am to consider that a compliment," said the old bachelor, not ill pleased. "Well, and when are you going to be ready for college?"

"I can be ready to enter in September," replied Grant.

"That is good. All you will have to do will be to present yourself for examination. I shall see you through, as I have promised."

"You are very kind, Uncle Godfrey," said Grant; and then he hesitated.

"It's Thornton family pride, Grant. I want my nephew to be somebody. I want you to be a professional man, and take a prominent place in the world."

"Can't I be somebody without becoming a professional man, or---"

"Or, what?" asked his uncle, abruptly.

"Getting a college education?" continued Grant.

"What does this mean?" asked the old lawyer, knitting his brow. "You're not getting off the notion of going to college, I hope?"

"I should like to go to college, uncle."

"I'm glad to hear that," said Godfrey Thornton, relieved. "I thought you might want to grow up a dunce, and become a bricklayer or something of that kind."

Somehow Grant's task began to seem more difficult than he had anticipated.

"But," continued Grant, summoning up his courage, "I am afraid it will be rather selfish."

"I can't say I understand you, Grant. As long as I am willing to pay your college bills, I don't see why there is anything selfish in your accepting my offer."

"I mean as regards father and mother."

"Don't I take you off their hands? What do you mean?"

"I mean this, Uncle Godfrey," said Grant, boldly, "I ought to be at work earning money to keep them. Father's income is very small, and--"

"You don't mean to say you want to give up going to college?" said Godfrey Thornton, hastily.

"I think I ought to, uncle."

"Why?"

"So that I can find work and help father along. You see, I should be four years in college, and three years studying a profession, and all that time my brother and sister would be growing older and more expensive, and father would be getting into debt."

Uncle Godfrey's brow wore a perceptible frown.

"Tell me who has put this idea into your head?" he said. "I am sure it isn't your father."

"No one put it into my head, Uncle Godfrey. It's my own idea."

"Humph! old heads don't grow on young shoulders, evidently. You are a foolish boy, Grant. With a liberal education you can do something for your family."

"But it is so long to wait," objected Grant.

"It will be a great disappointment to me to have you give up going to college, but of course I can't force you to go," said his uncle, coldly. "It will save me three hundred dollars a year for four years-I may say for seven, however. You will be throwing away a grand opportunity."

"Don't think I undervalue the advantage of a college training, uncle," said Grant, eagerly. "It isn't that. It's because I thought I might help father. In fact, I wanted to make a proposal to you."

"What is it?"

"You say it will cost three hundred dollars a year to keep me in college?"

"Well?"

"Would you be willing to give father two hundred a year for the next four years, and let me take care of myself in some business place?"

"So this is your proposal, is it?"

"Yes, sir."

"All I have got to say is, that you have got uncommon assurance. You propose to defeat my cherished plan, and want me to pay two hundred dollars a year in acknowledgment of your consideration."

"I am sorry you look upon it in that light, Uncle Godfrey."

"I distinctly decline your proposal. If you refuse to go to college, I wash my hands of you and your family. Do you understand that?"


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