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- Herbert Carter's Legacy - 30/39 -
"It wouldn't do him any harm to get exercise in the same way."
"The very idea would shock him."
MRS. CARTER'S GUEST
At five o'clock Mr. Cameron knocked at the door of Mrs. Carter's cottage. It was opened by Herbert himself.
"Walk in, Mr. Cameron," he said, cordially. "My mother is in the next room."
Mrs. Carter was prepossessed in favor of Cameron. In worldly advantages he was her superior; yet with the instinct of a gentleman he seemed unconscious of any such difference and did not exhibit the least trace of condescension, as many ill-bred persons might have.
"I have wanted to see you, Mrs. Carter," he said. "As the mother of my professor, the desire was only natural."
"Herbert tells me he has learned a good deal since he has been reading to you. He has often spoken of his good fortune in meeting you."
"I feel equally fortunate in meeting him. Not every boy of his age would adapt himself as readily and intelligently as he has."
"I am very glad if you find Herbert of service to you," said Mrs. Carter. "In all ways the engagement has been of advantage to him."
"Squire Leech was kind enough to offer me the services of his son, James," said Cameron, smiling.
"James would hardly have been willing to sacrifice so much of his time," said Herbert, "though he might be willing to try it for a day or two to supersede me."
"I think I shall have to worry along with my present professor," said Cameron, "and allow James to devote his superior talents to some other business."
The table was already spread in honor of the guest, and both Herbert and Mrs. Carter were gratified to find that the young collegian did ample justice to the meal.
"I feel almost ashamed of my appetite," said Cameron; "but the change from the stereotyped bill of fare at the hotel is pleasant and gives the food an increased relish."
"I am glad to hear you say so, Mr. Cameron; I could hardly expect to compete with the hotel in point of variety. Let me give you another cup of tea."
"Thank you. I don't often venture on a third cup, but I think I will make an exception to-night."
"Dr. Johnson sometimes got up to a dozen, I believe," said Herbert.
"He exceeded that number at times; but we must remember that the cups in his day barely contained a third as much as ours, so he was not so immoderate, after all. His excesses in eating were less pardonable."
"Was he a very large eater?" asked the widow.
"He actually gorged himself, if we are to believe the accounts that have come down to us," said Cameron. "I am afraid, Mrs. Carter, you would have found him a very unprofitable boarder."
"But," said Herbert; "there is one of Dr. Johnson's labors I shall not seek to imitate. I shall never attempt to write a dictionary."
"It must be a monotonous and wearisome labor. Besides, I don't think we could either of us improve upon Webster or Worcester."
They arose, and Mrs. Carter, who could not afford to keep a servant, herself cleared away the tea table.
"Herbert," said the young collegian, "you mentioned one day that your father was an inventor."
"He made one invention, but whether it will amount to anything, I don't know. He had high hopes of it, but died before he had any opportunity of testing its value."
"Will you show it to me?"
Herbert led Cameron upstairs into his own chamber, where, since his father's death, the work which had cost his father so many toilsome hours had been kept. Cameron examined it carefully. Herbert waited anxiously for his verdict. At length he spoke.
"As far as I am qualified to judge," he said, "your father's invention seems to embody an improvement. But you must not rely too much upon my opinion. My knowledge of the details of manufacturing is superficial. I should like to show it to my father."
"There is nothing that I would like better," said Herbert, "if you think he would be willing to examine it."
"He would be glad to do so. It is for his interest to examine anything which will facilitate the details of his business. I am intending to go home next Friday afternoon, and, with your permission, will carry this with me."
"I shall feel very much obliged to you if you will," said Herbert. "It may be worth nothing. I know it would have been my father's wish to have it examined by one who is qualified to judge."
"It is a pity your father could not have lived to enjoy the benefit of his invention, if it succeeds."
"He was a great loss to us," said Herbert. "There were but three of us, and he was at an age when we might hope to have him with us for a good many years yet. If I had been a few years older, I should have been better able to make up his loss to my mother."
"She is fortunate in having a son who is so willing to do his best for her," said Cameron, kindly. "We don't know what the future may have in store for us, Herbert; but you may rely upon my continued friendship."
Herbert pressed the hand of the young collegian warmly, for he knew that the offer of service was no empty compliment, but made in earnest sincerity.
The evening passed pleasantly and at nine o'clock Cameron took his leave. Herbert accompanied him as far as the hotel. He was walking leisurely back when he heard his name called and, turning, saw that it was James Leech who had accosted him.
"Where have you been, Carter?" inquired James; "been to see Mr. Cameron, I suppose? Doesn't he get enough of your company in the daytime?"
"You must ask him that. He has been taking tea at our house and I accompanied him home."
"He took supper at your house!"
"He seems very fond of keeping low company."
"What do you mean?" demanded Herbert, his eyes flashing with indignation at this insolence.
"I mean what I say," answered James, doggedly.
"Then I advise you hereafter to keep your impudence to yourself," retorted Herbert; "and for fear you may forget it, I give you this as a reminder."
An instant later James Leech found himself lying on his back on the sidewalk with Herbert bending over him.
He kept upon his feet, pale with rage and mortification.
"I'll be revenged upon you yet, you brute!" he shrieked, in his rage leaving our hero victor of the field.
"I wouldn't have touched him if he hadn't spoken against my mother," said Herbert.
A BITTER PILL
James Leech was furious at the humiliation. What he, a gentleman's son, to be knocked down and triumphed over by a boy who was compelled to work! Why, it was almost a sacrilege and no punishment could be too severe for such, flagrant outrage. How should he be revenged? First of all, he would get Herbert discharged from his present employment. Surely Mr. Cameron would not continue to avail himself of the services of a common bully. To attain this, he decided to reveal the matter to his father.
"That boy actually knocked you down!" exclaimed the squire. "But why did you permit him?"
"He took me by surprise," said James.
"And what did you do? Did you knock him over?"
"I would," said James, "but I didn't care to pursue him. I thought I would wait and tell you."
"And what do you want me to do?"
"To get Mr. Cameron to turn him off. I want him to starve," said James, bitterly.
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