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- Helping Himself - 4/41 -
"Yes, Uncle Godfrey," answered Grant, crestfallen.
"Go home and think over the matter. My offer still holds good. You can present yourself at college in September, and, if you are admitted, notify me."
The lawyer turned back to his writing, and Grant understood that the interview was over.
In sadness he started on his return walk from Somerset. He had accomplished nothing except to make his uncle angry. He could not make up his mind what to do.
He had walked about four miles when his attention was sharply drawn by a cry of terror. Looking up quickly, he saw a girl of fourteen flying along the road pursued by a drunken man armed with a big club. They were not more than thirty feet apart, and the situation was critical.
Grant was no coward, and he instantly resolved to rescue the girl if it were a possible thing.
A TIMELY RESCUE
"I will save her if I can," said Grant to himself.
The task, however, was not an easy one. The drunken man was tall and strongly made, and his condition did not appear to interfere with his locomotion. He was evidently half crazed with drink, and his pursuit of the young girl arose probably from a blind impulse; but it was likely to be none the less serious for her. Grant saw at once that he was far from being a match for the drunkard in physical strength. If he had been timid, a regard for his personal safety would have led him to keep aloof. But he would have despised himself if he had not done what he could for the girl--stranger though she was--who was in such peril.
It chanced that Grant had cut a stout stick to help him on his way. This suggested his plan of campaign. He ran sideways toward the pursuer, and thrust his stick between his legs, tripping him up. The man fell violently forward, and lay as if stunned, breathing heavily. Grant was alarmed at first, fearing that he might be seriously hurt, but a glance assured him that his stupor was chiefly the result of his potations.
Then he hurried to overtake the girl, who, seeing what had taken place, had paused in her flight.
"Don't be frightened," said Grant. "The man can't get up at present. I will see you home if you will tell me where you live."
"I am boarding at Mrs. Granger's, quarter of a mile back, mamma and I," answered the girl, the color, temporarily banished by fright, returning to her cheeks.
"Where did you fall in with this man?" inquired Grant.
"I was taking a walk," answered the girl, "and overtook him. I did not take much notice of him at first, and was not aware of his condition till he began to run after me. Then I was almost frightened to death, and I don't think I ever ran so fast in my life."
"You were in serious danger. He was fast overtaking you."
"I saw that he was, and I believe I should have dropped if you had not come up and saved me. How brave you were!"
Grant colored with pleasure, though he disclaimed the praise.
"Oh, it was nothing!" he said, modestly. "But we had better start at once, for he may revive."
"Oh, let us go then," exclaimed the girl in terror, and, hardly knowing what she did, she seized Grant's arm. "See, he is beginning to stir. Do come quickly!"
Clinging to Grant's arm, the two hastened away, leaving the inebriate on the ground.
Grant now had leisure to view more closely the girl he had rescued. She was a very pretty girl, a year or two younger than himself, with a bright, vivacious manner, and her young rescuer thought her very attractive.
"Do you live round here?" she asked.
"I live in Colebrook, the village close by. I was walking from Somerset."
"I should like to know the name of the one who has done me so great a service."
"We will exchange names, if you like," said Grant, smiling. "My name is Grant Thornton. I am the son of Rev. John Thornton, who is minister in Colebrook."
"So you are a minister's son. I have always heard that minister's sons are apt to be wild," said the girl, smiling mischievously.
"I am an exception," said Grant, demurely.
"I am ready to believe it," returned his companion. "My name is Carrie Clifton; my mother is a minister's daughter, so I have a right to think well of ministers' families."
"How long have you been boarding in this neighborhood, Miss Carrie?"
"Only a week. I am afraid I shan't dare to stay here any longer."
"It is not often you would meet with such an adventure as this. I hope you won't allow it to frighten you away."
"Do you know that drunken man? Does he live nearby?"
"I think he is a stranger--a tramp. I never saw him before, and I know almost everybody who lives about here."
"I am glad he doesn't live here."
"He will probably push on his way and not come this way again during the summer."
"I hope you are right. He might try to revenge himself on you for tripping him up."
"I don't think he saw me to recognize me. He was so drunk that he didn't know what he was about. When he gets over his intoxication he probably won't remember anything that has happened."
By this time they had reached the gate of the farmhouse where Carrie was boarding, and Grant prepared to leave her.
"I think you are safe now," he said.
"Oh, but I shan't let you go yet," said the girl. "You must come in and see mother."
Grant hesitated, but he felt that he should like to meet the mother of a young lady who seemed to him so attractive, and he allowed himself to be led into the yard. Mrs. Clifton was sitting in a rustic chair under a tree behind the house. There Grant and his companion found her. Carrie poured forth her story impetuously, and then drawing Grant forward, indicated him as her rescuer.
Her mother listened with natural alarm, shuddering at the peril from which her daughter had so happily escaped.
"I cannot tell how grateful I am to you for the service you have done my daughter," she said, warmly. "You are a very brave boy. There is not one in ten who would have had the courage to act as you did."
"You praise me more than I deserve, Mrs. Clifton. I saw the man was drunk, and I did not really run much risk in what I did. I am very thankful that I was able to be of service to Miss Carrie."
"It is most fortunate that you were at hand. My daughter might have been killed."
"What do you think, mother? He is a minister's son," said Carrie, vivaciously.
"That certainly is no objection in my eyes," said Mrs. Clifton, smiling, "for I am a minister's daughter. Where does your father preach?"
"His church is only a mile distant, in the village."
"I shall hear him, then, next Sunday. Last Sunday Carrie and I were both tired, and remained at home, but I have always been accustomed to go to church somewhere."
"Papa will be here next Sunday," said Carrie. "He can only come Saturday night on account of his business."
"Does he do business in New York?" asked Grant.
"Yes; his store is on Broadway."
"We live on Madison Avenue, and whenever you are in the city we shall be very glad to have you call," said Mrs. Clifton, graciously.
"Thank you; I should like to call very much," answered Grant, who was quite sincere in what he said. "But I don't often go to New York."
"Perhaps you will get a place there some time," suggested Carrie.
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