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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFive Hundred Dollars; Or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret - Chapter 7. Uncle Jacob Leaves Lakeville
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Five Hundred Dollars; Or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret - Chapter 7. Uncle Jacob Leaves Lakeville Post by :Trey_Brister Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1670

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Five Hundred Dollars; Or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret - Chapter 7. Uncle Jacob Leaves Lakeville

CHAPTER VII. UNCLE JACOB LEAVES LAKEVILLE

On his way home to dinner the next day, Bert fell in with Percy Marlowe.

"I saw you out driving last evening," remarked Percy.

"Yes," answered Bert composedly.

"You had Houghton's best team?"

"Yes."

"How much did you have to pay?"

"I believe Uncle Jacob paid two dollars."

"He must be crazy to pay two dollars for a ride. Why, he's almost a pauper."

"I think that is _his business, Percy. As to being a pauper, I don't believe he will ever be that."

"Don't be too sure of it. Why, he told father he had only five hundred dollars. How long do you think that's going to last him if he throws away his money on carriage rides?"

"It's only for once, and, as I said, that isn't our business."

"I don't know about that, either. When he has spent all his money he'll be coming upon father to support him."

"I don't believe he will," said Bert, to whom it was disagreeable to hear the kind old man spoken of slightingly.

"You see if he doesn't. But it won't do any good. Father says as he makes his bed he must lie on it. And I say, Bert Barton, it isn't very creditable to you and your mother to help the old man squander his money."

"I don't thank you for your advice, Percy Marlowe," retorted Bert, with spirit. "If ever Uncle Jacob does come to want, I'll work for him, and help him all I can."

"You! why you're as poor as poverty itself!" exclaimed Percy, with a mocking laugh.

"Good morning!" said Bert shortly, provoked, but not caring to prolong the discussion.

When he reached home, he gave Uncle Jacob an account of his conversation with Percy.

The old man laughed.

"So Albert says that as I make my bed I must lie upon it?" he repeated.

"Yes, sir; but I hope you won't be troubled at that. You will always be welcome here."

Uncle Jacob's eyes grew moist, and he regarded Bert with affection.

"You are a good boy and a true friend, Bert," he said, "and I shall not forget it."

"I don't know but Percy was right, Uncle Jacob. It does seem extravagant paying such a price for a ride."

"It's only for once in a way, Bert. You mustn't grudge the old man a little enjoyment in his vacation. I shall be going to work next week."

"You will? Where?" asked Bert eagerly.

"In New York. An old California friend of mine, who is in charge of a mine that has been put on the New York market, will give me a clerkship and a small salary which will support me in comfort. So you see I am all right."

"I am very glad to hear it, Uncle Jacob," said Bert joyfully. "I was afraid you wouldn't find anything to do, and would have to spend all your money on living."

"Come, Bert, that isn't much of a compliment to my ability. If I _am sixty-five, I am able to earn a living yet, and though twelve dollars a week isn't much----"

"If I could earn twelve dollars a week I should feel rich, Uncle Jacob."

"True, but you are only fifteen."

"Almost sixteen."

"I forgot that," said Uncle Jacob, smiling. "Well, even at sixteen, a boy can hardly expect to earn as much as twelve dollars a week. By the way, how much does Albert pay you?"

"Four dollars a week."

"Is that about the usual price for boys employed as you are?"

"Most shoe bosses pay more. The squire pays low wages all round."

"Then why don't the men go elsewhere?"

"Because they live here, and it is better to work cheaper here than to move. Some have gone away."

"Well, keep up your courage, Bert, and the time will come when you will be earning twelve dollars a week like your rich old uncle. If the office were only in Lakeville, so that I could board with your mother----"

"I wish it was, Uncle Jacob."

"Well, Mary, I shan't have to open a cigar store in Lakeville," remarked Uncle Jacob, as his niece entered the room.

Mrs. Barton looked an inquiry, and Bert exclaimed: "Uncle Jacob has secured a clerkship in New York at twelve dollars a week."

"I am _really glad!" said Mrs. Barton, with beaming face.

"Come, Mary, did you too think, like Bert here, that I was headed for the poorhouse?"

"I felt a little anxious for you, Uncle Jacob, I admit."

"You see that your fears were idle."

"Will you have to work very hard?" asked Mrs. Barton.

"No; my employer is an intimate friend."

"When do you commence work?"

"Next Monday, so that I must leave you on Saturday."

"Bert and I will both miss you; but as it is for your good, we won't complain. Now, Uncle Jacob, I hope you won't take it amiss if I urge you not to be too free with your money, but to try to save up some of your salary so that you can add to your little fund."

"Thank you, Mary. I suppose you are afraid I will be driving fast horses in Central Park, eh?"

"I am more afraid you will be too generous with your money, and give away more than you can afford."

"Well thought of, Mary! So far from that, I am going to turn miser and hoard up every cent I can."

"I don't think there is much danger of that."

"Oh, you have no idea how mean I can be if I try. However, as I shall be acting according to your advice, you can't find fault with me."

"I see you don't mean to follow my advice, Uncle Jacob."

"Still I am glad you gave it. It shows that you feel a real interest in your shabby old uncle. Some time--I can't promise how soon--I shall invite you and Bert to come and spend the day in New York. I will get a day off from the office, and we'll have a nice excursion somewhere."

On Friday, Uncle Jacob called on Squire Marlowe; not at the house, however, but at the factory.

"I've come to bid you good-by, Albert," he said.

"Are you going back to California?" asked the Squire.

"No, I am going to New York."

"It is expensive living in New York."

"I have obtained a situation there."

"Ah, indeed! That is different. What sort of a position?"

"I shall be a clerk in a mining office."

"What pay will you get?"

"Twelve dollars a week."

"Very fair! I congratulate you. You ought to live on that and save money besides."

"That's what Mary Barton says."

"Then she gives you very sensible advice. It will be a great deal better than opening a cigar store in Lakeville."

"I wouldn't do that after what you said on the subject," returned Uncle Jacob in a deferential tone, though there was a twinkle in his eye.

"I am glad you recognize the fact that I counseled you for your good," said the Squire pompously. "As an experienced business man, my judgment is worth something, I apprehend."

"Quite so, Albert; quite so! Is your wife feeling better?"

(Uncle Jacob had seen Mrs. Marlowe riding out the day before, apparently in full health.)

"She is somewhat improved, but still delicate," said Squire Marlowe guardedly. "I am sorry I cannot invite you to dine with us again before you go to the city."

"I should hardly be able to do so, as I go away to-morrow."

"Just so! I will say good-by for you, and that will do just as well."

"That's a load off my mind!" soliloquized the squire, after Uncle Jacob had left him. "I was afraid the old man would squander all his money, and then come upon me for that old loan. I hope he'll keep away from Lakeville in the future."

The next day Uncle Jacob left town. As he quitted the house, he put a sealed envelope into Mary Barton's hand.

"If you are ever in trouble, and cannot communicate with me," he said, "open this envelope. Take good care of it!"

"I will, Uncle Jacob. I will put it away in my trunk."

"Well, good-by, Mary, and God bless you!"

A minute later and Uncle Jacob was gone. Mrs. Barton went back to covering balls and Bert to his place in the shoe shop. Their united earnings enabled them to live comfortably, and they were content, though they had nothing to spare. But trouble was close at hand, though they did not suspect it.

What that trouble was will be disclosed in the next chapter.

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