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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDo And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 20. An Old Acquaintance In Chicago
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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 20. An Old Acquaintance In Chicago Post by :susan Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1620

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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 20. An Old Acquaintance In Chicago

CHAPTER XX. AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE IN CHICAGO

In due time our travelers reached Chicago, and put up at the Palmer House. Herbert was much impressed by the elegance of the hotel, its sumptuous furniture, and luxurious table. It must be considered that he was an inexperienced traveler, though had he been otherwise he might be excused for his admiration.

"I have some business in Chicago, and shall remain two or three days," said George Melville.

Herbert was quite reconciled to the delay, and, as his services were not required, employed his time in making himself familiar with the famous Western city. He kept his eyes open, and found something new and interesting at every step. One day, as he was passing through the lower portion of the city, his attention was called to a young man wheeling a barrow of cabbages and other vegetables, a little in advance of him. Of course, there was nothing singular about this, but there seemed something familiar in the figure of the young man. Herbert quickened his step, and soon came up with him.

One glance was enough. Though disguised by a pair of overalls, and without a coat, Herbert recognized the once spruce dry-goods clerk, Eben Graham.

Eben recognized Herbert at the same time. He started, and flushed with shame, not because of the theft of which he had been guilty, but because he was detected in an honest, but plebeian labor.

"Herbert Carr!" he exclaimed, stopping short.

"Yes, Eben; it is I!"

"You find me changed," said Eben, dolefully.

"No, I should recognize you anywhere."

"I don't mean that. I have sunk very low," and he glanced pathetically at the wheelbarrow.

"If you refer to your employment, I don't agree with you. It is an honest business."

"True, but I never dreamed when I stood behind the counter in Boston, and waited on fashionable ladies, that I should ever come to this."

"He seems more ashamed of wheeling vegetables than of stealing," thought Herbert, and he was correct.

"How do you happen to be in this business, Eben?" he asked, with some curiosity.

"I must do it or starve. I was cheated out of my money soon after I came here, and didn't know where to turn."

Eben did not explain that he lost his money in a gambling house. He might have been cheated out of it, but it was his own fault, for venturing into competition with older and more experienced knaves than himself.

"I went for thirty-six hours without food," continued Eben, "when I fell in with a man who kept a vegetable store, and he offered to employ me. I have been with him ever since."

"You were fortunate to find employment," said Herbert.

"Fortunate!" repeated Eben, in a tragic tone. "How much wages do you think I get?"

"I can't guess."

"Five dollars a week, and have to find myself," answered Eben, mournfully. "What would my fashionable friends in Boston say if they could see me?"

"I wouldn't mind what they said as long as you are getting an honest living."

"How do you happen to be out here?" asked Eben.

His story was told in a few words.

"You are always in luck!" said Eben, enviously. "I wish I had your chance. Is Mr. Melville very rich?"

"He is rich; but I don't know how rich."

"Do you think he'd lend me money enough to get home?"

"I don't know."

"Will you ask him?"

"I will tell him that you made the request, Eben," answered Herbert, cautiously. "Have you applied to your father?"

"To the old man? Yes. He hasn't any more heart than a grindstone," said Eben, bitterly. "What do you think he wrote me?"

"He refused, I suppose."

"Here is his letter," said Eben, drawing from his pocket a greasy half sheet of note paper. "See what he has to say to his only son."

This was the letter:

"EBEN GRAHAM: I have received your letter, and am not surprised to hear that you are in trouble. 'As a man sows, so also shall he reap.' A young man who will rob his father of his hard earnings is capable of anything. You have done what you could to ruin me, and deserve what you have got. You want me to send you money to come home, and continue your wicked work--I shall not do it. I wash my hands of you; I have already given notice, through the country paper that I have given you your time, and shall pay no more debts of your contracting.

"I am glad to hear that you are engaged in an honest employment. It is better than I expected. I would not have been surprised if I had heard that you were in jail. My advice to you is to stay where you are and make yourself useful to your employer. He may in time raise your wages. Five years hence, if you have turned over a new leaf and led an honest life, I may give you a place in my store. At present, I would rather leave you where you are.

"EBENEZER GRAHAM."

 

"What do you say to that? Isn't that rather rough on an only son, eh?" said Eben.

It occurred to Herbert that Eben hardly deserved very liberal treatment from his father, notwithstanding he was an only son.

"Oh, the old man is awfully mean and close-fisted," said Eben. "He cares more for money than for anything else. By the way, how does Melville treat you?"

"Mr. Melville," said Herbert, emphasizing the Mr., "is always kind and considerate."

"Pays you well, eh?"

"He pays me more than I could get anywhere else."

"Pays all your hotel and traveling expenses, eh?"

"Of course."

"And a good salary besides?"

"Yes."

"Herbert," said Eben, suddenly, "I want you to do me a favor."

"What is it?"

"You've always known me, you know. When you was a little chap, and came into the store, I used to give you sticks of candy."

"I don't remember it," answered Herbert, truthfully.

"I did, all the same. You were so young that you don't remember it."

"Well, Eben, what of it?"

"I want you to lend me ten dollars, Herbert, in memory of old times."

Herbert was generously inclined, on ordinary occasions, but did not feel so on this occasion. He felt that Eben was not a deserving object, even had he felt able to make so large a loan. Besides, he could not forget that the young man who now asked a favor had brought a false charge of stealing against him.

"You will have to excuse me, Eben," he answered. "To begin with, I cannot afford to lend so large a sum."

"I would pay you back as soon as I could."

"Perhaps you would," said Herbert, "though I have not much confidence in it. But you seem to forget that you charged me with stealing only a short time since. I wonder how you. have the face to ask me to lend you ten dollars, or any sum."

"It was a mistake," muttered Eben, showing some signs of confusion.

"At any rate, I won't say anything more about it while you are in trouble. But you must excuse my declining to lend you."

"Lend me five dollars, then," pleaded Eben.

"What do you want to do with it?"

"To buy lottery tickets. I am almost sure I should win a prize, and then I can pay you five dollars for one."

"I wouldn't lend any money for that purpose to my dearest friend," said Herbert "Buying lottery tickets is about the most foolish investment you could make."

"Then I won't buy any," said Eben. "Lend me the money and I will use it to buy clothes."

"You will have to excuse me," said Herbert, coldly.

"I didn't think you'd be so mean," whined Eben, "to a friend in distress."

"I don't look upon you as a friend, and for very good reasons," retorted Herbert, as he walked away.

Eben looked after him with a scowl of hatred.

"I'd like to humble that boy's pride," he muttered, as he slowly resumed his march.

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