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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDo And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 29. A New Home In The Woods
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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 29. A New Home In The Woods Post by :shoki Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :3609

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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 29. A New Home In The Woods


George Melville had no definite destination. He was traveling, not for pleasure, but for health, and his purpose was to select a residence in some high location, where the dry air would be favorable for his pulmonary difficulties.

A week later he had found a temporary home. One afternoon Herbert and he, each on horseback, for at that time public lines of travel were fewer than at present, came suddenly upon a neat, one-story cottage in the edge of the forest. It stood alone, but it was evidently the home of one who aimed to add something of the graces of civilization to the rudeness of frontier life.

They reined up simultaneously, and Melville, turning to Herbert, said: "There, Herbert, is my ideal of a residence. I should not be satisfied with a rude cabin. There I should find something of the comfort which we enjoy in New England."

"The situation is fine, too," said Herbert, looking about him admiringly.

The cottage stood on a knoll. On either side were tall and stately trees. A purling brook at the left rolled its silvery current down a gentle declivity, and in front, for half a mile, was open country.

"I have a great mind to call and inquire who lives here." said Melville. "Perhaps we can arrange to stay here all night."

"That is a good plan, Mr. Melville."

George Melville dismounted from his horse, and, approaching, tapped with the handle of his whip on the door.

"Who's there?" inquired a smothered voice, as of one rousing himself from sleep.

"A stranger, but a friend," answered Melville.

There was a sound as of some one moving, and a tall man, clad in a rough suit, came to the door, and looked inquiringly at Melville and his boy companion.

Though his attire was rude, his face was refined, and had the indefinable air of one who would be more at home in the city than in the country.

"Delighted to see you both," he said, cordially, offering his hand. "I don't live in a palace, and my servants are all absent, but if you will deign to become my guests I will do what I can for your comfort."

"You have anticipated my request," said Melville. "Let me introduce myself as George Melville, an invalid by profession, just come from New England in search of health. My young friend here is Herbert Carr, my private secretary and faithful companion, who has not yet found out what it is to be in poor-health. Without him I should hardly have dared to come so far alone."

"You are very welcome, Herbert," said the host, with pleasant familiarity. "Come in, both of you, and make yourselves at home."

The cottage contained two rooms. One was used as a bedchamber, the other as a sitting room. On the walls were a few pictures, and on a small bookcase against one side of the room were some twenty-five books. There was an easel and an unfinished picture in one corner, and a small collection of ordinary furniture.

"You are probably an artist," suggested Melville.

"Yes, you have hit it. I use both pen and pencil," and he mentioned a name known to Melville as that of a popular magazine writer.

I do not propose to give his real name, but we will know him as Robert Falkland.

"I am familiar with your name, Mr. Falkland," said Melville, "but I did not expect to find you here."

"Probably not," answered Falkland. "I left the haunts of civilization unexpectedly, some months ago, and even my publishers don't know where I am."

"In search of health?" queried Melville.

"Not exactly. I did, however, feel in need of a change. I had been running in a rut, and wanted to get out of it, so I left my lodgings in New York and bought a ticket to St. Louis; arrived there, I determined to come farther. So here I have been, living in communion with nature, seeing scarcely anybody, enjoying myself, on the whole, but sometimes longing to see a new face."

"And you have built this cottage?"

"No; I bought it of its former occupant, but have done something towards furnishing it; so that it has become characteristic of me and my tastes."

"How long have you lived here?"

"Three months; but my stay is drawing to a close."

"How is that?"

"Business that will not be put off calls me back to New York. In fact, I had appointed to-morrow for my departure."

Melville and Herbert exchanged a glance. It was evident that the same thought was in the mind of each.

"Mr. Falkland," said George Melville, "I have a proposal to make to you."

The artist eyed him in some surprise.

"Go on," he said.

"I will buy this cottage of you, if you are willing."

Falkland smiled.

"This seems providential," he said. "We artists and men of letters are apt to be short of money, and I confess I was pondering whether my credit was good with anybody for a hundred dollars to pay my expenses East. Once arrived there, there are plenty of publishers who will make me advances on future work."

"Then we can probably make a bargain," said Mr. Melville. "Please name your price."

Now, I do not propose to show my ignorance of real estate values in Colorado by naming the price which George Melville paid for his home in the wilderness. In fact, I do not know. I can only say that he gave Falkland a check for the amount on a Boston bank, and a hundred in cash besides.

"You are liberal, Mr. Melville," said Falkland, gratified. "I am afraid you are not a business man. I have not found that business men overpay."

"You are right, I am not a business man," answered Melville, "though I wish my health would admit of my being so. As to the extra hundred dollars, I think it worth that much to come upon so comfortable a home ready to my hand. It will really be a home, such as the log cabin I looked forward to could not be."

"Thank you," said Falkland; "I won't pretend that I am indifferent to money, for I can't afford to be. I earn considerable sums, but, unfortunately, I never could keep money, or provide for the future."

"I don't know how it would be with me," said Melville, "for I am one of those, fortunate or otherwise, who are born to a fortune. I have sometimes been sorry that I had not the incentive of poverty to induce me to work."

"Then, suppose we exchange lots," said the artist, lightly. "I shouldn't object to being wealthy."

"With all my heart," answered Melville. "Give me your health, your literary and artistic talent, and it is a bargain."

"I am afraid they are not transferable," said the artist, "but we won't prolong the discussion now. I am neglecting the rites of hospitality; I must prepare supper for my guests. You must know that here in the wilderness I am my own cook and dishwasher."

"Let me help you?" said Melville.

"No, Mr. Melville," said Herbert, "it is more in my line. I have often helped mother at home, and I don't believe you have had any experience."

"I confess I am a green hand," said Melville, laughing, "but, as Irish girls just imported say, 'I am very willing.'"

"On the whole, I think the boy can assist me better," said Falkland. "So, Mr. Melville, consider yourself an aristocratic visitor, while Herbert and myself, sons of toil, will minister to your necessities."

"By the way, where do you get your supplies?" asked Melville.

"Eight miles away there is a mining camp and store. I ride over there once a week or oftener, and bring home what I need."

"What is the name of the camp?"

"Deer Creek. I will point out to Herbert, before I leave you, the bridle path leading to it."

"Thank you. It will be a great advantage to us to know just how to live."

With Herbert's help an appetizing repast was prepared, of which all three partook with keen zest.

The next day Falkland took leave of them, and Melville and his boy companion were left to settle down in their new home.

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