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- Helping Himself - 40/41 -


CHAPTER XXXIX

THE HOUSEKEEPER'S RETRIBUTION

The train from Chicago had just reached the Grand Central Depot. From the parlor car descended two boys who are well known to us, Grant Thornton and Herbert Reynolds.

Herbert breathed a sigh of satisfaction.

"Oh, Grant," he said, "how glad I am to see New York once more! I wonder if papa knows we are to come by this train?"

The answer came speedily.

The broker, who had just espied them, hurried forward, and his lost boy was lifted to his embrace.

"Thank God, I have recovered you, my dear son," he exclaimed, fervently.

"You must thank Grant, too, papa," said the little boy. "It was he who found me and prevented Mr. Ford stealing me again."

Mr. Reynolds grasped Grant's hand and pressed it warmly.

"I shall know how to express my gratitude to Grant in due time," he said.

On their way home Grant revealed to Mr. Reynolds for the first time the treachery of the housekeeper, who had suppressed Herbert's letter to his father, and left the latter to mourn for his son when she might have relieved him of the burden of sorrow.

As Mr. Reynolds listened, his face became stern.

"That woman is a viper!" he said. "In my house she has enjoyed every comfort and every consideration, and in return she has dealt me this foul blow. She will have cause to regret it."

When they entered the house Mrs. Estabrook received them with false smiles.

"So you are back again, Master Herbert," she said. "A fine fright you gave us!"

"You speak as if Herbert went away of his own accord," said the broker sternly. "You probably know better."

"I know nothing, sir, about it."

"Then I may inform you that it was your stepson, Willis Ford, who stole my boy--a noble revenge, truly, upon me for discharging him."

"I don't believe it," said the housekeeper. "I presume it is your office boy who makes this charge?" she added, pressing her thin lips together.

"There are others who are cognizant of it, Mrs. Estabrook. Grant succeeded in foiling Mr. Ford in his attempt to recover Herbert, who had run away from his place of confinement,"

"You are prejudiced against my son, Mr. Reynolds," said Mrs. Estabrook, her voice trembling with anger.

"Not more than against you, Mrs. Estabrook. I have a serious charge to bring against you."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked the housekeeper, nervously.

"Why did you suppress the letter which my boy wrote to me revealing his place of imprisonment?"

"I don't know what you mean, sir," she answered, half defiantly.

"I think you do."

"Did Master Herbert write such a letter?" "Yes."

"Then it must have miscarried."

"On the contrary, the postman expressly declares that he delivered it at this house. I charge you with concealing or suppressing it."

"The charge is false. You can't prove it, sir."

"I shall not attempt to do so; but I am thoroughly convinced of it. After this act of treachery, I cannot permit you to spend another night in my house. You will please pack at once, and arrange for a removal."

"I am entitled to a month's notice, Mr. Reynolds."

"You shall have a month's wages in lieu of it. I would as soon have a serpent in my house."

Mrs. Estabrook turned pale. She had never expected it would come to this. She thought no one would ever be able to trace the suppressed letter to her. She was not likely again to obtain so comfortable and desirable a position. Instead of attributing her ill fortune to her own malice and evil doing, she chose to attribute it to Grant.

"I am to thank you for this, Grant Thornton," she said, in sudden passion. "I was right in hating you as soon as I first saw you. If ever I am able I will pay you up for this."

"I don't doubt it, Mrs. Estabrook," said Grant, quietly, "but I don't think you will have it in your power."

She did not deign to answer, but hurried out of the room. In half an hour she had left the house.

"Now I can breathe freely," said the broker. "That woman was so full of malice and spite that it made me uncomfortable to feel that she was in the house."

"I am so glad that she has gone, papa," said Herbert.

That evening, after Herbert had gone to bed, Mr. Reynolds invited Grant into his library.

"My boy," he said, "I have settled accounts with Mrs. Estabrook; now I want to settle with you."

"Not in the same way, I hope, sir," said Grant.

"Yes, in the same way, according to your deserts. You have done me a service, that which none can be greater. You have been instrumental in restoring to me my only son."

"I don't want any reward for that, sir."

"Perhaps not; but I owe it to myself to see that this service is acknowledged. I shall raise your salary to fifteen dollars a week."

"Thank you, sir," said Grant, joyfully. "How glad my mother will be."

"When you tell her this, you may also tell her that I have deposited on your account in the Bowery Savings Bank the sum of five thousand dollars."

"This is too much, Mr. Reynolds," said Grant, quite overwhelmed. "Why, I shall feel like a man of fortune."

"So you will be in time, if you continue as faithful to business as in the past."

"It seems to me like a dream," said Grant.

"I will give you a week's leave of absence to visit your parents, and tell them of your good fortune."

CHAPTER XL

CONCLUSION

There were anxious hearts in the parsonage at Colebrook. For some weeks the minister had shown signs of overwork. His appetite had failed, and he seemed weary and worn.

"He needs change," said the doctor. "A run over to Europe would do him good. He has no disease; he only wants change."

"A trip to Europe," said Mr. Thornton, shaking his head. "It is impossible. It has been the dream of my life, but a country minister could not, in half a dozen years, save money enough for that."

"If your brother Godfrey would lend you the money, Grant might, in time, help you to pay it."

Godfrey never had forgiven Grant for running counter to his plans.

"I wish I could spare the money myself, Mr. Thornton," said the doctor. "Five hundred dollars would be sufficient, and it would make a new man of you."

"It might as well be five thousand," said the minister, shaking his head. "No, my good friend, I must toil on as well as I can, and leave European trips to more favored men."

It was noised about through the parish that the minister was sick, and the doctor recommended a European trip.


Helping Himself - 40/41

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