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- The Young Explorer - 2/35 -


work on a farm. You're used to that, and I guess you could find a chance before long. There's Deacon Pitkin wants a boy, and would be glad of the chance of gettin' you."

"I suppose he would," said Ben, laughing. "Would you advise me to go there?"

"Well, there might be some objections, but-"

"You know I wouldn't get enough to eat, Uncle Job," interrupted Ben. "Why, Deacon Pitkin's the meanest man in the village."

"You mustn't be hasty in your judgments, nephew."

"I'm not. I know what I'm talking about. I worked for the deacon two days once. He gave me ten cents a day and board-and such board! Why, I got up from the table hungry every meal, and yet the deacon reported afterward that I was a great eater. Mrs. Pitkin cuts a small pie into eight pieces, each about two mouthfuls, and when I asked for a second piece, she asked if I was allowed to have two pieces at home."

"What did you say?" asked Uncle Job, evidently amused.

"I said yes, and that each piece was twice as big as she gave."

"I'm afraid that was rather forward, Ben. Did she say anything to that?"

"She said I must be very greedy, and that boys always ate more'n was good for 'em. No, Uncle Job, I don't care to work for Deacon Pitkin."

"Have you formed any plans, Ben? You don't want to go on a farm, and you don't want to go into a shoeshop, and that's about all you can find to do in Hampton."

"I don't mean to stay in Hampton," said Ben quietly.

"Don't mean to stay in Hampton!" exclaimed Uncle Joe, amazed.

"No, uncle. There's a good many places besides Hampton in the world."

"So there is, Ben," answered Uncle Job, with a disregard of grammar more excusable than his nephew's, for he had never had any special educational advantages,-"so there is, but you don't know anybody in them other places."

"It won't take me long to get acquainted," returned Ben, not at all disturbed by this consideration.

"Where do you want to go?"

"I want to go to California."

"Gracious sakes! Want to go to California!" gasped Job. "What put that idee into your head?"

"A good many people are going there, and there's a chance to get rich quick out among the gold-mines."

"But you're only a boy."

"I'm a pretty large boy, Uncle Job," said Ben complacently, "and I'm pretty strong."

"So you be, Ben, but it takes more than strength."

"What more, Uncle Job?"

"It takes judgment."

"Can't a boy have judgment?"

"Waal, he may have some, but you don't often find an old head on young shoulders."

"I know all that, uncle, but I can work if I am a boy."

"I know you're willin' to work, Ben, but it'll cost a sight of money to get out to Californy to start with."

"I know that. It will take two hundred dollars."

"And that's more'n half of all you've got. It seems to me temptin' Providence to spend such a sight of money for the chance of earning some on t'other side of the world, when you can get a livin' here and put all your money in the bank."

"In five years it would only amount to five hundred dollars, and if I go to California, I expect to be worth a good deal more than that before two years are past."

"I'm afraid you've got large idees, Ben."

"You won't interfere with my going, Uncle Job?" asked Ben anxiously.

"I won't actooly interfere, but I'll do all I can to have you give it up."

"But if my mind is set upon it, you'll let me go, won't you, uncle?"

"I suppose I must," said Job Stanton. "A wilful lad must have his way. But you mustn't blame me if things turn out unlucky."

"No, I shall only blame myself."

"There's one promise you must make me," said his uncle.

"What is that?"

"Take a week to consider whether you hadn't better take my advice and stay at home."

"Yes, uncle, I'll promise that."

"And you'll think it over in all its bearin's?"

"Yes, uncle."

"It ain't best to take any important step without reflection, Ben." "You're right, uncle."

This conversation took place in Job Stanton's little shoe-shop, only a rod distant from the small, plain house which he had occupied ever since he had been married. It was interrupted by the appearance of a pretty girl of fourteen, who, presenting herself at the door of the shop, called out:

"Supper's ready, father."

"So are we, Jennie," said Ben, promptly.

"You are always ready to eat, Ben," said his cousin, smiling.

"That's what Mrs. Pitkin used to think, Jennie. She used to watch every mouthful I took."

CHAPTER II.

DEACON PITKIN'S OFFER.

Ben's father had died three months before. He had lost his mother when ten years old, and having neither brother nor sister was left quite alone in the world. At one time his father had possessed a few thousand dollars, but by unlucky investments he had lost nearly all, so that Ben's inheritance amounted to less than four hundred dollars.

This thought troubled Mr. Stanton, and on his death-bed he spoke about it to his son.

"I shall leave you almost destitute, Ben," he said. "If I had acted more wisely it would have been different."

"Don't trouble yourself about that, father," said Ben promptly. "I am young and strong, and I shall be sure to get along."

"You will have to work hard, and the world is a hard taskmaster."

"I don't feel afraid, father. I am sure I shall succeed."

The dying father was cheered by Ben's confident words. Our hero was strong and sturdy, his limbs active, and his face ruddy with health. He looked like a boy who could get along. He was not a sensitive plant, and not to be discouraged by rebuffs. The father's brow cleared.

"I am glad you are not afraid to meet what is in store for you," he said. "I believe you will do your part, and God helps those who help themselves."

After his father's death, Ben became an inmate of his uncle's family while the estate was being settled. He paid for his board partly by work in the shop, and partly by doing chores. This brings us to the day when the conversation detailed in the first chapter took place.

On the following morning Ben was sent on an errand to the village store. On his way he overtook Deacon Pitkin.

"Good mornin', Ben!" said the deacon. "Where are you goin'?"

"To the store, sir."

"So am I. Ef you ain't in a hurry, le'ss walk along together."

"All right, sir," answered Ben. "I think I know what's comin," he said to himself.

"You're stayin' at your Uncle Job's, ain't you?" asked Deacon


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