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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFacing The World - Chapter 8. A Liberal Offer
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Facing The World - Chapter 8. A Liberal Offer Post by :AesopHD Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1226

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Facing The World - Chapter 8. A Liberal Offer

CHAPTER VIII. A LIBERAL OFFER

Then commenced a round of travel--what the professor called a professional tour. By day they traveled in the wagon, carrying their paraphernalia with them, stopping at the principal towns, and giving evening entertainments. At many of these places the magician was well known, and his tricks were not new. But he had an attraction in his young assistant, who was regularly advertised on the posters as the "celebrated young vocalist, whose songs are everywhere received with admiring applause."

Indeed it was very near the truth. Harry was really a fine singer, and his fresh, attractive face and manly appearance won him a welcome in all the towns on their route. Sometimes a young girl in the audience threw him a bouquet. This made him blush and smile, and the donor felt rewarded.

Where was it going to end? Was he to continue in the service of the professor, and in time become himself a magician and a traveling celebrity? Harry was not sure about it. He saw that it would pay him better than most kinds of business, and he also discovered that Professor Hemenway was even better off than he had represented. Yet, he was not quite ready to select the same profession, but, being only sixteen, felt that he could afford to remain in it a while longer.

One day the professor gave him a surprise.

"Harry," he said, as they were jogging along a dusty road, "do you think you would like to travel?"

"I am traveling now," answered Harry, with a smile.

"True, but I don't mean that. Would you like to go on a long journey?"

"I should like nothing better," replied Harry, promptly.

"I'll tell you what I've been thinking about. I recently read in some paper that a man in my line had made a trip to Australia, and reaped a rich harvest. Everywhere he was received with enthusiasm, and made as much money, in one month as he would do here in four. Now why shouldn't I go to Australia?"

Harry's eyes sparkled.

"It would be a fine thing to do," he said.

"Then you would be willing to accompany me?"

"I would thank you for taking me," answered the boy.

"That is well!" said the professor, in a tone of satisfaction. "I confess I shouldn't like to go alone. It would be a great undertaking, but with a companion it would seem different. But, is there anyone who would object to your going?"

"Yes," answered Harry, smiling, "Mr. Fox, my 'guardeen,' would."

"We won't mind Mr. Fox. Very well, then, Harry, we will consider it settled. I shall rely on you to help me by your singing there as you do here. As to your wages, I may be able to pay you more."

"Never mind about that, professor. It will cost you a good deal to get us there. I am perfectly willing to work for the same sum I do now, or even less, on account of the extension of the trip."

"Then you leave that matter to me. I won't take advantage of your confidence, but you shall prosper if I do."

"How soon do you propose to go, professor?" asked Harry, with interest.

"As soon as possible. I shall ascertain when the first packet leaves Boston, and we will take passage in her."

The professor's decision pleased Harry. He had been a good scholar in geography--indeed, it was his favorite study--and had, besides, read as many books of travel as he could lay his hands on. Often he had wondered if it ever would be his fortune to see some of the distant countries of which he read with so much interest. Though he had cherished vague hopes, he had never really expected it. Now, however, the unattainable seemed within his grasp. He would not have to wait until he was a rich man, but when still a boy he could travel to the opposite side of the world, paying his expenses as he went along.

Two weeks passed. Each day they halted in some new place, and gave an evening performance. This life of constant motion had, at first, seemed strange to Harry. Now he was accustomed to it. He never felt nervous when he appeared before an audience to sing, but looked upon it as a matter of course.

At last they reached Boston. They were to give two entertainments at a hall at the south end. It was the first large city in which Harry had sung, but he received a welcome no less cordial than that which had been accorded to him in country towns.

They were staying at a modest hotel, comfortable, but not expensive. Harry was sitting in the reading room, when a servant brought in a card. It bore the rather remarkable name of

"DR. MENDELSSOHN BROWN."

"A gentleman to see you, Mr. Vane," said the servant.

Harry rose and surveyed the stranger in some surprise. He had long hair, of a reddish yellow, with an abundant beard of the same hue. His suit of worn black fitted him poorly, but Dr. Brown evidently was not a devotee of dress. No tailor could ever point to him, and say with pride: "That man's clothes were made at my shop."

"Do I speak to Mr. Harry Vane, the young vocalist?" asked the stranger, with a deferential smile.

"That's my name," answered our hero.

"You are alone?"

"Yes, sir," said Harry, a little puzzled.

"It is well. I will come to business at once. You have probably heard of me, eh?"

"Probably I have, but I do not remember names well."

"The name of Mendelssohn Brown, is pretty well known, I flatter myself," said the visitor, complacently. "To be brief--I heard you sing last evening, and was much pleased with your rendition of the various selections."

Harry bowed.

"I am about to form a juvenile Pinafore company, and would like to have you take the leading part. You would make an excellent _Admiral_. I propose to take my opera company all over the United States. I should be willing to pay you, as the star performer, twenty-five dollars a week."

Harry opened his eyes in amazement.

"Do you think me capable of singing in opera?" he asked.

"Yes, after being trained by your humble servant. What do you say?"

"I thank you for your flattering offer, Dr. Brown, but I don't feel at liberty to leave Professor Hemenway."

The doctor frowned.

"Let me tell you, you stand in your own light, Mr. Vane," he said, impatiently. "There is some difference between a common juggler, like the Magician of Madagascar"--the doctor laughed ironically--"and a well-known musical director, who could make you famous. Does Hemenway pay you as much as I offer?"

"No, sir."

"I thought so. Then how can you hesitate?"

"We are about to make an Australian tour," answered Harry, "and, apart from all other considerations, I am glad to have a chance to travel."

"Couldn't you put it off?"

"No, sir."

"Then," said Dr. Brown, rather crestfallen, "I can only bid you good-morning. I think you are making a mistake."

"Perhaps, after I return from Australia, I might be ready to accept your offer."

"It will be too late," said the doctor, gloomily.

"Twenty-five dollars a week is large pay," thought Harry, "but I don't believe I should ever get it. Dr. Brown doesn't look much like a capitalist."

Half an hour later Professor Hemenway entered the hotel.

"Well, my boy," he said, "the die is cast! Next Saturday we sail from Long Wharf, bound for Australia."

"But professor, I have just had an offer of twenty-five dollars a week to sing in Pinafore."

"And have accepted!" exclaimed the magician in dismay.

"No; I respectfully declined. I would rather go with you."

"You shan't regret it, Harry!" said the professor, relieved. "If I am prosperous, you shall share in my prosperity."

"Thank you, professor; I am sure of that. What is the name of our vessel?"

"The Nantucket. It's a good, solid-looking craft, and I think it will bear us in safety to our destination."

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