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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDo And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 8. Eben's Assurance
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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 8. Eben's Assurance Post by :Jackie_Fowler Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :3462

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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 8. Eben's Assurance


"A young man wishes to see you, Mr. Melville," said the servant.

George Melville looked up in some surprise from his book, and said: "You may show him up."

"It must be Herbert," he thought.

But when the door was opened, and the visitor shown in, Mr. Melville found it was an older person than Herbert. Eben, for it was he, distorted his mean features into what he regarded as a pleasant smile, and, without waiting to receive a welcome, came forward with extended hand.

"I believe you are Mr. Melville," he said, inquiringly.

"Yes, that is my name," said Melville, looking puzzled; "I don't remember you. Have I met you before?"

"You saw me in father's store, very likely," said Eben. "I am Eben Graham, son of Ebenezer Graham, the postmaster."

"Indeed! That accounts for your face looking familiar. You resemble your father very closely."

"I'm a chip off the old block with modern improvements," said Eben, smirking. "Father's always lived in the country, and he ain't very stylish. I've been employed in Boston for a couple of years past, and got a little city polish."

"You don't show much of it," thought Melville, but he refrained from saying so.

"So you have come home to assist your father," he said, politely.

"Well, no, not exactly," answered Eben, "I feel that a country store isn't my sphere."

"Then you propose to go back to the city?"

"Probably I shall do so eventually, but I may stay here in Wayneboro a while if I can make satisfactory arrangements. I assure you that it was not my wish to take Herbert Carr's place."

"Herbert told me that you had assumed his duties."

"It is only ad interim. I assure you, it is only ad interim. I am quite ready to give back the place to Herbert, who is better suited to it than I."

"I wonder what the fellow is driving at," thought Melville. Eben did not long leave him in doubt.

"Herbert tells me that he has made an engagement with you," continued Eben, desiring to come to his business as soon as possible.

"Yes, we have made a mutual arrangement."

"Of course, it is very nice for him; and so I told him."

"I think I am quite as much a gainer by it as he is," said Melville.

"Herbert was right. He is easily suited," said Eben, to himself.

"Of course," Eben added, clearing his throat, "Herbert isn't so much of a companion to you as if he were a few years older."

"I don't know that; it seems to me that he is a very pleasant companion, young as he is."

"To be sure, Herbert is a nice boy, and father was glad to help him along by giving him a place, with a larger salary than he ever paid before."

"What is he driving at?" thought Melville.

"To come to the point, Mr. Melville," said Eben, "I have made bold to call upon you to suggest a little difference in your arrangements."

"Indeed!" said Melville, coldly. Though he had no idea what his singular visitor was about to propose, it struck him emphatically that Eben was interfering in an unwarrantable manner with his affairs.

"You see," continued Eben, "I'm a good deal nearer your age than Herbert, and I've had the advantage of residing in the city, which Herbert hasn't, and naturally should be more company to you. Then, again, Herbert could do the work in the post office and store, which I am doing, nearly as well as I can. I'll undertake to get father to give him back his place, and then I shall be happy to make an arrangement with you to go hunting and fishing, or anything else that you choose. I am sure I should enjoy your company, Mr. Melville," concluded Eben, rubbing his hands complacently and surveying George Melville with an insinuating smile.

"You have certainly taken considerable trouble to arrange this matter for me," said Melville, with a sarcasm which Eben did not detect.

"Oh, no trouble at all!" said Eben, cheerfully. "You see, the idea came into my head when Herbert told me of his arrangements with you, and I thought I'd come and see you about it."

"Did you mention it to Herbert?" asked George Melville, with some curiosity.

"Well, no, I didn't. I didn't know how Herbert would look at it. I got Herbert to take my place in the store while I ran over to see you about the matter. By the way, though I am some years older than Herbert, I shan't ask more than you pay him. In fact, I am willing to leave the pay to your liberality."

"You are very considerate!" said Melville, hardly knowing whether to be amused or provoked by the cool assurance of his visitor.

"Oh, not at all!" returned Eben, complacently. "I guess I've fetched him!" he reflected, looking at Mr. Melville through his small, half-closed eyes.

"You have certainly surprised me very much, Mr. Graham," said Melville, "by the nature of your suggestion. I won't take into consideration the question whether you have thought more of your own pleasure or mine. So far as the latter is concerned, you have made a mistake in supposing that Herbert's youth is any drawback to his qualification as a companion. Indeed, his youth and cheerful temperament make him more attractive in my eyes. I hope, Mr. Graham, you will excuse me for saying that he suits me better than you possibly could."

Eben's countenance fell, and he looked quite discomfited and mortified.

"I didn't suppose a raw, country boy would be likely to suit a gentleman of taste, who has resided in the city," he said, with asperity.

"Then you will have a chance to correct your impression," said Melville, with a slight smile.

"Then you don't care to accept my offer?" said Eben, regretfully.

"Thank you, no. If you will excuse me for suggesting it, Mr. Graham, it would have been more considerate for you to have apprised Herbert of your object in asking him to take your place this evening. Probably he had no idea that you meant to supersede him with me."

Eben tossed his head.

"You mustn't think, Mr. Melville," he said, "that I was after the extra pay. Six dollars doesn't seem much to me. I was earning ten dollars a week in Boston, and if I had stayed, should probably have been raised to twelve."

"So that you were really consenting to a sacrifice in offering to enter my employment at six dollars a week?"

"Just so!"

"Then I am all the more convinced that I have decided for the best in retaining Herbert. I do not wish to interfere with your prospects in the city."

"Oh, as for that," said Eben, judging that he had gone too far, "I don't care to go back to the city just yet. I've been confined pretty steadily, and a few weeks in the country, hunting and fishing, will do me good."

George Melville bowed, but said nothing.

Eben felt that he had no excuse for staying longer, and reluctantly rose.

"If you should think better of what I've proposed," he said, "you can let me know."

"I will do so," said Melville.

"He's rather a queer young man," muttered Eben, as he descended the stairs. "It's funny that he should prefer a country boy like Herbert to a young man like me who's seen life, and got some city polish--at the same price, too! He don't seem to see his own interest. I'm sorry, for it would have been a good deal more interesting to me, going round with him a few hours a day, than tending store for father. There's one thing sure, I won't do it long. I'm fitted for a higher position than that, I hope."

"For downright impudence and cool assurance, I think that young man will bear off the palm," thought George Melville, as his unwelcome visitor left the room. "Herbert is in no danger from him. It would probably surprise him if he knew that I should consider his company as an intolerable bore. I will tell Herbert to-morrow the good turn his friend has tried to do him."

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