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imposition to expect, because I am tolerably well off, that it is my duty to support other people's children. My own are entitled to all I can do for them."
"That's so, father," said Tom, who was ready enough to give his consent to any proposition of a selfish nature. "Charity begins at home."
With Tom, by the way, it not only began at home, but it ended there, and the same may be said of his father. From time to time Mr. Stanton's name was found in the list of donors to some charitable object, provided his benevolence was likely to obtain sufficient publicity, Mr. Stanton did not believe in giving in secret. What was the use of giving away money unless you could get credit for it? That was the principle upon which he always acted.
"I suppose," continued Tom, "this country cousin of mine wears cowhide boots and overalls, and has got rough, red hands like a common laborer. I wonder what Sam Paget would say if I should introduce such a fellow to him as my cousin. I rather guess he would not want to be quite so intimate with me as he is now."
If anything had been needed, this consideration would have been sufficient to deter Mr. Stanton from sending for his nephew. He could not permit the social standing of his family to be compromised by the presence of a poor relation from the country, rough and unpolished as he doubtless was.
Maria, too, who had been for some time silent, here contributed to strengthen the effect of Tom's words.
"Yes," said she, "and Laura Brooks, my most intimate friend, who is shocked at anything vulgar or countrified--I wouldn't have her know that I have such a cousin--oh, not for the world!"
"There will be no occasion for it," said her father, decidedly. "I shall write at once to this Dr. Kent, explaining to him my views and wishes, and how impossible it is for me to do as he so inconsiderately suggests."
"It's the wisest thing you can do, Mr. Stanton," said his wife, who was to the full as selfish as her husband.
"What is his name, father?" asked Maria.
"Herbert? I thought it might be Jonathan, or Zeke, or some such name. Herbert isn't at all countrified."
"No," said Tom, slyly; "of course not. We all know why you like that name."
"Oh, you're mighty wise, Mr. Tom!" retorted his sister.
"It's because you like Herbert Dartmouth; but it isn't any use. He's in love with Lizzie Graves."
"You seem to know all about it," said Maria, with vexation; for Tom was not far from right in speaking of her preference for Herbert Dartmouth.
"Of course I do," said Tom; "I ought to, for he told me so himself."
"I don't believe it!" said Maria, who looked ready to cry.
"Well, you needn't; but it's so."
"Be quiet, children," said Mrs. Stanton. "Thomas, you mustn't plague your sister."
"Don't take it so hard, Maria," said Tom, in rather an aggravating tone. "There's other boys you could get. I guess you could get Jim Gorham for a beau, if you tried hard enough."
"I wouldn't have him," said Maria. "His face is all over freckles."
"Enough of this quarreling, children," said Mrs. Stanton. "I hope," she continued, addressing her husband, "you won't fail to write at once. They might be sending on the boy, and then we should be in a pretty predicament."
"I will write at once. I don't know but I ought to inclose some money."
"I don't see why you need to."
"Perhaps I had better, as this is the last I intend to do for him."
"At any rate, it won't be necessary to send much," said Mrs. Stanton.
"Five dollars will do, I should think. Because he happens to be your nephew, there is no good reason why he should be thrown upon you for support."
"Perhaps it will be best to send ten dollars," said Mr. Stanton. "People are unreasonable, you know, and they might charge me with meanness, if I sent less."
"Then make it ten. It's only for once. I hope that will be the last we shall hear of him."
The room in which this conversation took place was a handsomely furnished breakfast room, all the appointments of which spoke not only of comfort, but of luxury. Mr. Stanton had been made rich by a series of lucky speculations, and he was at present carrying on a large wholesale store downtown. He had commenced with small means twenty years before, and for some years had advanced slowly, until the tide of fortune set in and made him rich. His present handsome residence he had only occupied three years, having moved to it from one of much smaller pretensions on Bleecker Street. Tom and Maria were forbidden to speak of their former home to their present fashionable acquaintances, and this prohibition they were likely to observe, having inherited to the full the worldly spirit which actuated their parents. It will be seen that Herbert Mason was little likely to be benefited by having such prosperous relations.
INTRODUCING THE HERO
If my young readers do not find the town of Waverley on the map of Ohio, they may conclude that it was too small to attract the notice of the map-makers. The village is small, consisting of about a dozen houses, a church, a schoolhouse, and, as a matter of course, one of that well- known class of stores in which everything required for the family is sold, from a dress-pattern to a pound of sugar. Outside of the village there are farmhouses, surrounded by broad acres, which keep them at respectable distances from each other, like the feudal castles of the Middle Ages. The land is good, and the farmers are thrifty and well-to- do; but probably the whole town contains less than a thousand inhabitants.
In one of the houses, near the church, lived Dr. Kent, whose letter has already been referred to. He was a skillful physician, and a very worthy man, who would have been very glad to be benevolent if his limited practice had supplied him with the requisite means. But chance had directed him to a healthy and sparsely-settled neighborhood, where he was able only to earn a respectable livelihood, and indeed found himself compelled to economize at times where he would have liked to indulge himself in expense.
When Mrs. Mason died it was found that the sale of her furniture barely realized enough to defray the expenses of her funeral. Herbert, her only son, was left wholly unprovided for. Dr. Kent, knowing that he had a rich uncle in New York, undertook to communicate to him the position in which his nephew had been left, never doubting that he would cheerfully extend a helping hand to him. Meanwhile he invited Herbert to come to his house and make it his home till his uncle should send for him.
Herbert was a handsome, well-grown boy of fourteen, and a general favorite in the village. While his mother lived he had done all he could to lighten her tasks, and he grieved deeply for her loss now that she was gone. His father had ten years before failed in business in the city of New York, and, in a fit of depression, had emigrated to this obscure country village, where he had invested the few hundred dollars remaining to him in a farm, from which he was able to draw a scanty income. Being a man of liberal education, he had personally superintended the education of his son till his death, two years before, so that Herbert's attainments were considerably in advance of those of other boys of his age in the neighborhood. He knew something of Latin and French, which made him looked upon as quite a model of learning by his playmates. After his father's death he had continued the daily study of the languages, so that he was able to read ordinary French with nearly as much ease as if it were English. Though studious, he was not a bookworm, but was distinguished in athletic sports popular with boys of his age.
Enough has been said of our hero by way of introduction. Herbert's faults and virtues will appear as the record of his adventures is continued. It may be hinted only that, while he was frank, manly, and generous in his disposition, he was proud and high-spirited also, and perhaps these qualities were sometimes carried to excess. He would not allow himself to be imposed upon if he could help it. Being strong for his age, he was always able to maintain his rights, but never abused his strength by making it the instrument of tyrannizing over weaker boys.
Of course Herbert felt somewhat anxious as to his future prospects. He knew that the doctor had written to his Uncle Benjamin about him, and he hoped that he might be sent for to New York, having a great curiosity to see the city, of which he had heard so much.
"Have you heard from my uncle, Dr. Kent?" he inquired, a few days after the scene recorded in our first chapter.
His question was prompted by seeing the doctor coming into the yard with an open letter in his hand.
"Yes," said Dr. Kent, with troubled expression and perplexed took.
"What does Uncle Benjamin say?" asked our young hero, eagerly.
"Nothing very encouraging, Herbert, I am sorry to say," returned the doctor. "However, here is the letter; you may read it for yourself."
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