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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHelping Himself; Or Grant Thornton's Ambition - Chapter 26. A Western Cabin
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Helping Himself; Or Grant Thornton's Ambition - Chapter 26. A Western Cabin Post by :inwestart Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2315

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Helping Himself; Or Grant Thornton's Ambition - Chapter 26. A Western Cabin

CHAPTER XXVI. A WESTERN CABIN

"Abner!"

The speaker was a tall, gaunt woman, in a loose, faded, calico dress, and she stood at the door of a cabin in a Western clearing.

"What yer want?" came as a reply from a tall, unhealthy-looking boy in overalls, who was sitting on a log in the yard.

"I want you to split some wood for the stove."

"I'm tired," drawled the boy.

"I'll tire you!" said the mother, sharply. "You tall, lazy, good-for-nothing drone! Here I've been up since five o'clock, slavin' for you and your drunken father. Where's he gone?"

"To the village, I reckon."

"To the tavern, I reckon. It's there that he spends all the money he gets hold of; he never gives me a cent. This is the only gown I've got, except an old alpaca. Much he cares!"

"It isn't my fault, is it?" asked the boy, indifferently.

"You're a-follerin' in his steps. You'll be just another Joel Barton--just as shif'less and lazy. Just split me some wood before I get hold of yer!"

Abner rose slowly, went to the shed for an ax, and in the most deliberate manner possible began to obey his mother's commands.

The cabin occupied by Abner and his parents was far from being a palace. It contained four rooms, but the furniture was of the most primitive description. Joel Barton, the nominal head of the famliy, was the possessor of eighty acres of land, from which he might have obtained a comfortable living, for the soil was productive; but he was lazy, shiftless and intemperate, as his wife had described him. Had he been as active and energetic as she was, he might have been in very different circumstances. It is no wonder that the poor woman was fretted and irritated almost beyond endurance, seeing how all her industry was neutralized by her husband's habits. Abner took after his father, though he had not yet developed a taste for drink, and was perfectly contented with their poor way of living, as long as he was not compelled to work hard. What little was required of him he would shirk if he possibly could.

This cabin was situated about a mile from the little village which had gathered round the depot. The name of the township was Scipio, though it is doubtful if one in fifty of the inhabitants knew after whom it was named. In fact, the name was given by a schoolmaster, who had acquired some rudiments of classical learning at a country academy.

To the depot we must transport the reader, on the arrival of the morning train from Chicago. But two passengers got out. One of them was a young man under twenty. The other was a boy, apparently about ten years of age, whom he held firmly by the hand.

He was a delicate-looking boy, and, though he was dressed in a coarse, ill-fitting suit, he had an appearance of refinement and gentle nature, as if he had been brought up in a luxurious home. He looked sad and anxious, and the glances he fixed on his companion indicated that he held him in fear.

"Where are you going?" he asked timidly, looking about him apprehensively.

"You'll know soon enough," was the rough reply.

"When are you going to take me home, Mr. Ford?" asked the boy, in a pleading tone.

"Don't trouble yourself about that."

"Papa will be so anxious about me--papa and Grant!"

The young man's brow contracted.

"Don't mention the name of that boy! I hate him."

"He was always good to me. I liked so much to be with him."

"He did all he could to injure me. I swore to be even with him, and I will!"

"But I have never injured you, Mr. Ford."

"How could you--a baby like you?" said Ford, contemptuously.

"Then why did you take me from home, and make me so unhappy?"

"Because it was the only way in which I could strike a blow at your father and Grant Thornton. When your father dismissed me, without a recommendation, not caring whether I starved or not, he made me his enemy."

"But he wouldn't if you hadn't--"

"Hadn't what?" demanded Ford, sternly.

"Taken Mrs. Estabrook's bonds."

"Dare to say that again, and I will beat you," said Willis Ford, brutally.

Herbert trembled, for he had a timid nature, and an exquisite susceptibility to pain.

"I didn't mean to offend you," he said.

"You'd better not. Wait here a minutes, while I look around for some one of whom I can make inquiries. Here, sit dowp on that settee, and, mind you, don't stir till I come back. Will you obey me?"

"Yes," answered the boy, submissively.

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