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- Try and Trust - 5/42 -


"If I could get somebody to go back with this horse, I don't know but what I'd walk to Waverley. Are you very busy?"

"Well, I don't know but I could leave off for a short time," said the other, cautiously. "Work's pretty drivin', to be sure. What do you cal'late to pay?"

"How much would it be worth?"

"Well, there's the walk there and back, and then again there's the time."

"You can mount the horse going."

"I guess fifty cents'll about pay me."

Mr. Holden took out his pocketbook and paid the required sum.

"By the way," he said, as if incidentally, "who is the chairman of the selectmen in the village of Waverley?" "You ain't thinkin' of takin' that boy, be you?" said the other, curiously.

"I've had enough to do with him; I don't want ever to lay eyes on him again."

"Well, I dunno as I should, if I was you," said the countryman, rather slyly.

"You haven't answered my question yet," said Holden, impatiently.

"Oh, about the cheerman of the selectmen. It's Captain Joseph Ross."

"Where does he live?"

"A leetle this side of the village. You'll know the house, well enough. It's a large, square house painted white, with a well-sweep in front."

Without a word of thanks for the information, Abner Holden turned, and began to walk toward Waverley. Perhaps his object in making these inquiries has been guessed. It happened that he needed a boy, and, for more reasons than one, he thought he should like to have Herbert bound to him. Herbert, as he had noticed, was a stout boy, and he probably could get a good deal of work out of him. Then, again, it would be gratifying to him to have our hero in subjection to him. He could pay him off then, ten times over, for his insolence, as he chose to term it.

"I'll break his proud spirit," thought Abner Holden. "He'll find he's got a master, if I get hold of him. He don't know me yet, but he will some time."

Mr. Holden resolved to wait on Captain Ross at once, and conclude arrangements with him to take Herbert before our hero had returned from the mill village. He pictured, with a grim smile, Herbert's dismay when he learned who was to be his future master.

With the help of a handkerchief dipped into a crystal stream at the roadside, Abner Holden succeeded in effacing some of the muddy stains upon his coat and pantaloons, and at length got himself into presentable trim for calling upon a "selectman."

At length he came in sight of the house which had been described to him as that of Captain Ross. There was a woman at the well-sweep engaged in drawing water.

"Does Captain Ross live here?" he inquired.

"Yes, sir."

"Is he at home?"

"He's over in the three-acre lot. Was you wantin' to see him?"

"I should like to. Is the field far away?"

"No, it's just behind the house."

"Then I guess I'll go and find him. I want to see him on a little matter of business."

Mr. Holden crossed a mowing-field, and then, climbing over a stone wall, found himself at the edge of the three-acre lot. The captain was superintending one or two hired men, and, as he had his coat off, had probably been assisting them.

"Captain Ross?" said Abner Holden, interrogatively.

"That's my name."

"You are chairman of the selectmen, I believe?"

"Yes, sir."

"I understand that you have a boy that you want to bind out."

"I reckon you mean Herbert Mason."

"Yes, I believe that's the name I heard."

"Are you in want of a boy?"

"Yes, I am looking out for one."

"What is your business?"

"I keep a store, but I should want him to work on land part of the time."

"Do you live hereabouts?"

"Over at Cranston."

"If you'll come to the house, we'll talk the matter over. The boy's a good boy, and we want to get a good place for him. His mother was a widder, and he's her only son. He's a smart, capable lad, and good to work."

"I've no doubt he'll suit me. I'll take him on your recommendation."

"We should want him to go to school winters. He's a pretty good scholar already. His father was a larned man, and used to teach him before he died. If he had lived, I reckon Herbert would certainly have gone to college."

"I'll agree to send him to school in the winter for the next two years," said Holden, "and will give him board and clothes, and when he's twenty- one a freedom suit, and a hundred dollars. Will that do?"

"I don't know but that's reasonable," said Captain Ross, slowly. "The boy's a bit high-spirited, but if you manage him right, I guess you'll like him."

"I'll manage him!" thought Abner Holden. "Can I take him with me to- morrow?" he asked. "I don't come this way very often."

"Well, I guess that can be arranged. We'll go over to Dr. Kent's after dinner, and see if they can get him ready."

"In the meantime," said Holden, afraid that the prize might slip through his fingers, "suppose we make out the papers. I suppose you have full authority in the matter."

Captain Ross had no objection, and thus poor Herbert was unconsciously delivered over to the tender mercies of a man who had very little love for him.

CHAPTER IV

A DISAGREEABLE SURPRISE

After his collision with the traveler, Herbert hurried on to the mill, intent upon making up for lost time. He was satisfied with having successfully maintained his rights; and, as he had no reason to suppose he should ever again see his unreasonable opponent, dismissed him from his thoughts.

On reaching the mill, he found he should have to remain an hour or two before he could have his grain ground. He was not sorry for this, as it would give him an opportunity to walk around the village.

"I wish," he thought, "I could get a place in one of the stores here. There's more going on than there is in Waverley, and I could go over Sundays to see Dr. Kent's family."

On the spur of the moment, he resolved to inquire if some of the storekeepers did not require help. There was a large dry-goods store-- the largest in the village--kept by Beckford & Keyes. He entered and inquired for the senior partner.

"Mr. Beckford is not in," said the clerk. "Mr. Keyes is standing at that desk."

Herbert went up to the desk, and said inquiringly, "Mr. Keyes?"

"That is my name," said that gentleman, pleasantly. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"I am in search of a place," said our hero, "and I thought you might have a vacancy here."

"We have none just at present," said Mr. Keyes, who was favorably impressed by Herbert's appearance; "but it is possible we may have in a few weeks. Where do you live? Not in the village, I suppose?"

"No, sir," said Herbert, and a shadow passed over his face, "My mother died three weeks since, and I am now stopping at the house of Dr. Kent."

"Dr. Kent--ah, yes, I know the doctor. He is an excellent man."

"He is," said Herbert, warmly. "He has been very kind to me."

"What is your name?"

"Herbert Mason."

"Then, Herbert, I will promise to bear you in mind. I will note down your name and address, and as soon as we have a vacancy I will write to


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