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- Herbert Carter's Legacy - 20/39 -


"I should not be willing to give up the house, sir. My husband built it, and--"

The squire's brow darkened. What a perverse, obstinate woman she was!

"That ain't the question," he exclaimed, pounding his cane on the floor. "There are many things we don't want to do that we've got to do. You stand in your own light, ma'am. I have my rights."

"We don't deny that, sir," said Herbert, who enjoyed the squire's excitement, knowing how it must end.

"I am glad to hear it," said the squire; "but it appears to me you think you and your mother are the only persons to be considered in this matter."

"I think my mother is entitled to some consideration."

"Haven't I considered her? Haven't I offered her a most liberal price for the place?"

"We don't call it liberal."

"Then you are unreasonable. Many men in my position would offer less. Indeed, I don't think I ought to offer more than three hundred dollars."

"We would thank you, Squire Leech, if we could see any favor in offering three or four hundred dollars less than the house is worth."

"We have had enough of this nonsense," said the squire, angrily. "It is not too late to withdraw my offer."

"You had better withdraw it," said Herbert, composedly, "for mother and I have decided to refuse it."

"Refuse it!" gasped the squire. "What do you mean by such outrageous impudence?"

"I don't see how it can be considered impudence. We are not obliged to accept every offer made us."

"You are obliged to accept this," cried Squire Leech, stamping his cane upon the floor again. "You know there is no help for it."

"How do you make that out, sir?" inquired our hero.

"You can't pay the interest."

"I beg your pardon, sir; we are ready to pay."

"I mean the whole of the interest."

"So do I."

"It must be paid at once."

"It shall be paid at once, Squire Leech. Please make out a receipt."

Squire Leech was never more astonished in his life. He was not convinced till Herbert produced what he could distinguish as two ten- dollar bills and one five.

"There will be two dollars and a half change," said Herbert in a business-like manner.

"What did you mean by telling me you could not pay the interest when I was here at twelve o'clock?"

"We could not, then, or thought we could not."

"Then how can you pay me now?"

"We received some money in a letter this morning. The letter had not been opened when you were here, so we didn't know we could meet your claims."

Squire Leech was very angry. He felt that he had been defeated, and that triumph had slipped over to the other side. But he resolved to make one more attempt.

"I have the right to refuse this money," he said. "It comes too late. It should have been paid at twelve."

"I beg your pardon. Squire Leech; you yourself gave us time to consult what to do." "Because," said the squire, unguardedly, "I thought you could not pay the interest."

Herbert could not help smiling.

"We have nothing to do with what you thought."

The squire frowned and bit his lips with vexation. He tried to think of some way of getting over the difficulty but none presented itself. As he dashed off the signature and took the money, he said, angrily: "The time will come when I will have this place. Your convenient letters won't always come just in the nick of time." "I hope to be prepared for you next time, without having to depend on that."

Still, the squire lingered. The fact was, that, though very angry, he was anxious to know from whom Mrs. Carter had received this opportune help.

"Who sent you this letter?" he asked.

"I don't think we need to tell you that," said Herbert.

"I have no objection to tell," said Mrs. Carter. "It was my aunt, Nancy Carter, of Randolph, who so kindly remembered us."

"I wish she'd kept back her letter a day or two," thought the squire.

"Is she rich?" he asked, abruptly.

"No; she has a very modest income left by her brother; but her wants are few, and she thought we might need help. She has a good heart."

"Well, ma'am, as my business is over, I will leave you," said the squire, sulkily. "As for that boy of yours," pointing his finger at Herbert, "I advise you to teach him better manners. He won't gain anything by his impertinence. If he had acted differently I would have given him employment, or got my superintendent to do so."

"I should have been unable to accept it. Squire Leech," said Herbert. "I have made an engagement already."

The squire had forgotten this, and it was mortifying to expect that his patronage was of no importance to the boy whom he detested.

"Good morning!" he said abruptly and left the room

"I am afraid, Herbert, you treated the squire disrespectfully," said Mrs. Carter.

"I don't think so, mother, unless to oppose his wishes is to be disrespectful."

"He spoke as if he thought you did."

"I know that, but he wouldn't if he hadn't been unreasonable. But I've got to go to the hotel in fifteen minutes. Just give me a bite, for I'm awful hungry."

So the day which Herbert had so much dreaded in advance was marked by two pieces of good luck.

CHAPTER XIX

HERBERT BECOMES A PROFESSOR

When Herbert reached the hotel he went up at once to Mr. Cameron's room.

"I believe I am a little late," he said, apologetically; "but I was detained at home by a matter of business."

"You are young to have your time occupied by matters of business," said the young man, smiling.

"Yes, if my father were alive it would not devolve upon me, but my mother generally consults with me."

"I hope your business was arranged satisfactorily."

"Yes, but it came near turning out otherwise. I would like to tell you about it."

"Do so," said Mr. Cameron, kindly. "I shall be interested in whatever affects you."

Herbert gave an account of Squire Leech's attempts to get possession of their cottage.

"But for that letter of Aunt Nancy's," he concluded, "we should have been obliged to part with our house."

"For the paltry sum of twenty-two dollars and a half?"

"It wasn't paltry to us."

"No, to be sure. Why didn't you tell me this morning? I would have lent you the money."

"You would?" exclaimed Herbert.

"With pleasure."

"Thank you, Mr. Cameron," said our hero; "but I shouldn't have dared to ask such a favor of a stranger."

"I must tell you that this Squire Leech has probably taken advantage of your ignorance of business. I don't know exactly how the law is in this State, but I presume that, so far from the squire being authorized to take immediate possession of your place, he would be obliged to give legal notice of sale, on foreclosure of mortgage, by


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