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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFive Hundred Dollars; Or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret - Chapter 1. A New Arrival In Lakeville
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Five Hundred Dollars; Or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret - Chapter 1. A New Arrival In Lakeville Post by :netlady Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2573

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Five Hundred Dollars; Or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret - Chapter 1. A New Arrival In Lakeville


Slowly through the village street walked an elderly man, with bronzed features and thin gray hair, supporting his somewhat uncertain steps by a stout cane. He was apparently tired, for, seeing a slight natural elevation under a branching elm tree, he sat down, and looked thoughtfully about him.

"Well," he said, "Lakeville hasn't changed much since I left it, twenty years since. Has there been any change among those who are near to me? I don't know, but I shall soon find out. Shall I receive a welcome or not? There ought to be two families to greet me, but----"

Here a boy appeared on the scene, a boy of fifteen, with a sturdy figure and a pleasant face, whose coarse suit indicated narrow means, if not poverty. Seeing the old man, with instinctive politeness he doffed his hat and with a pleasant smile bade him good-morning.

"Good-morning," returned the traveller, won by the boy's pleasant face and manner. "If you are not in a hurry won't you sit down by me and answer a few questions?"

"With pleasure, sir; my business isn't driving."

"This is Lakeville, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir."

"I used to know the place--a good many years since. It hasn't grown much."

"No, sir; it's rather quiet."

"Chiefly a farming region, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir; but there is a large shoe manufactory here, employing a hundred hands."

"Who is the owner?"

"Squire Marlowe."

"Ha!" ejaculated the old man, evidently interested. "Albert Marlowe, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir; do you know him?"

"I haven't met him for twenty years, but we are acquainted. I suppose he is prosperous."

"He is considered a rich man, sir. He is a relation of mine."

"Indeed! What then is your name?" asked the old man, eagerly.

"Herbert Barton--most people call me Bert Barton."

Bert was surprised at the keen scrutiny which he received from the traveller.

"Was your mother Mary Marlowe?" the latter asked.

"Yes, sir," returned Bert. "Did you know her, too?"

"I ought to; she is my niece, as the man you call Squire Marlowe is my nephew."

"Then you must be Uncle Jacob, who has lived so many years in California?" said Bert, excitedly.

"The same."

"Mother will be very glad to see you," added Bert, cordially.

"Thank you, my boy. Your kind welcome does me good. I hope your mother is well and happy."

"She is a widow," answered Bert soberly.

"When did your father die?"

"Two years ago."

"I hope he left your mother in comfortable circumstances."

Bert shook his head.

"He only left the small house we live in, and that is mortgaged for half its value."

"Then how do you live?"

"Mother covers base-balls for a firm in the next town, and I am working in the big shoe shop."

"Doesn't Squire Marlowe do anything for your mother?"

"He gave me a place in the shop--that is all."

"Yet he is rich," said the old man, thoughtfully.

"Yes, he lives in a fine house. You can see it down the street on the other side that large one with a broad piazza. He keeps two horses and two handsome carriages, and I am sure he must have plenty of money."

"I am glad to hear it. I have been a long time among strangers. It will be pleasant to come to anchor at the house of a rich relation. Where does your mother live?"

"In a small cottage at the other end of the street. Won't you come home with me, Uncle Jacob? Mother will be glad to see you."

"I must call at Albert Marlowe's first. What family has he?"

"He has one boy about my own age."

"I suppose you are very intimate--being cousins."

Bert laughed.

"He wouldn't thank you for calling us cousins," he answered. "Percy Marlowe is a boy who thinks a good deal of himself. He puts on no end of airs."

"Like his father before him. Is he a smart boy?"

"Do you mean in his studies?"


"I don't know what he could do if he tried, but he doesn't exert himself much. He says it isn't necessary for him, as his father is a rich man."

"How is it with you?"

"I only wish I had his chance," said Bert, warmly. "I am fond of study, but I am poor, and must work for a living."

"You have the right idea, and he has not," said the old man, sententiously.

At this moment a light buggy was driven swiftly by. Seated in it was a boy about the age of Bert, apparently, but of slighter figure. The horse, suddenly spying the old man, shied, and in a trice the buggy was upset, and the young dude went sprawling on the ground.

Bert grasped the situation, and sprang to the rescue. He seized the terrified horse, while the old man helped reverse the carriage, which fortunately had not met with any material damage. The same may be said of the young driver who, with mortified face, struggled to his feet, and surveyed ruefully the muddy stains on his handsome suit.

"I hope you're not hurt, Percy," said Bert, with solicitude.

"I've spoiled my suit, that's all," returned Percy, shortly. "What made you scare my horse?"

"I didn't," answered Bert, with spirit. "What right have you to charge me with such a thing?"

"Then if it wasn't you, it was that old tramp you were talking with," persisted Percy, sullenly.

"Hush, Percy!" said Bert, apprehensive lest the old man's feelings might be hurt. "You don't know who this gentleman is."

"I never met the gentleman before," rejoined Percy, with ironical deference.

"Then let me introduce him as your uncle, Jacob Marlowe, from California!"

Percy's face betrayed much more surprise than pleasure as he stammered, "Is that true?"

"Yes," answered the old man, smiling calmly; "I have the honor to be related to you, young gentleman."

"Does father know you are here?"

"No; I am going to call upon him."

Percy hardly knew what to think. He had heard his father speak of "Uncle Jacob" and indulge in the hope that he had accumulated a fortune in California. His shabby attire did not suggest wealth, certainly, but Percy was wise enough to know that appearances are not always to be relied upon. If this old man were wealthy, he would be worth propitiating. At any rate, till he knew to the contrary he had better be polite.

"Will you ride to the house with me, sir?" he asked, considerably to Bert's surprise.

"No, thank you. There might be another upset. Jump into the buggy, and I'll walk along after you."

Percy was relieved by this decision, for he had no wish to be seen with such a companion.

"All right, sir," he said. "I'll see you at the house."

Without a word of acknowledgment to Bert, Percy sprang into the buggy and drove rapidly away.

"Shall I go with you, Uncle Jacob?" asked Bert.

"No, thank you. I can find the way. Tell your mother that I will call on her very soon."

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