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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOnly An Irish Boy; Or, Andy Burke's Fortunes - Chapter 20. How The News Was Received
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Only An Irish Boy; Or, Andy Burke's Fortunes - Chapter 20. How The News Was Received Post by :cdex911 Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2527

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Only An Irish Boy; Or, Andy Burke's Fortunes - Chapter 20. How The News Was Received

CHAPTER XX. HOW THE NEWS WAS RECEIVED

It is always pleasant to carry good news, and Andy hastened with joyful feet to his mother's humble dwelling.

"Why, Andy, you're out of breath. What's happened?" asked Mrs. Burke.

"I was afraid of bein' robbed," said Andy.

"The robber wouldn't get much that would steal from you, Andy."

"I don't know that, mother. I ain't so poor as you think. Look there, now!"

Here he displayed the roll of bills. There were twenty fives, which made quite a thick roll.

"Where did you get so much, Andy?" asked his sister Mary.

"How much is it?" asked his mother.

"A hundred dollars," answered Andy, proudly.

"A hundred dollars!" repeated his mother, with apprehension. "Oh, Andy, I hope you haven't been stealing?"

"Did you ever know me to stale, mother?" said Andy.

"No, but I thought you might be tempted. Whose money is it?"

"It's yours, mother."

"Mine!" exclaimed Mrs. Burke, in astonishment. "You're joking now, Andy."

"No, I'm not. It's yours."

"Where did it come from, then?"

"Colonel Preston sent it to you as a present."

"I am afraid you are not tellin' me the truth, Andy," said his mother, doubtfully. "Why should he send me so much money?"

"Listen, and I'll tell you, mother, and you'll see it's the truth I've been tellin'."

Thereupon he told the story of his adventure with the highwayman and how he had saved Colonel Preston from being robbed.

His mother listened with pride, for though Andy spoke modestly, she could see that he had acted in a brave and manly way, and it made her proud of him.

"So the colonel," Andy concluded, "wanted to give me a hundred dollars, but I didn't like to take it myself. But when he said he would give it to you, I couldn't say anything ag'inst that. So here it is, mother, and I hope you'll spend some of it on yourself."

"I don't feel as if it belonged to me, Andy. It was you that he meant it for."

"Keep it, mother, and it'll do to use when we nade it."

"I don't like to keep so much money in the house, Andy. We might be robbed."

"You can put part of it in the savings bank, mother."

This course was adopted, and Andy himself carried eighty dollars, and deposited it in a savings bank in Melville, a few days afterward.

Meanwhile Colonel Preston told the story of Andy's prowess, at home. But Mrs. Preston was prejudiced against Andy, and listened coldly.

"It seems to me, Colonel Preston," she said, "you are making altogether too much of that Irish boy. He puts on enough airs to make one sick already."

"I never observed it, my dear," said the colonel, mildly.

"Everyone else does. He thought himself on a level with our Godfrey."

"He is Godfrey's superior in some respects."

"Oh, well, if you are going to exalt him above your own flesh and blood, I won't stay and listen to you."

"You disturb yourself unnecessarily, my dear. I have no intention of adopting him in place of my son. But he has done me a great service this after-noon, and displayed a coolness and courage very unusual in a boy of his age. But for him, I should be eight hundred dollars poorer."

"Oh, well, you can give him fifty cents, and he will be well paid for his services, as you call them."

"Fifty cents!" repeated her husband.

"Well, a dollar, if you like."

"I have given him a hundred dollars."

"A hundred dollars!" almost screamed Mrs. Preston, who was a very mean woman. "Are you insane?"

"Not that I am aware of, my dear."

"It is perfectly preposterous to give such a sum to such a boy."

"I ought to say that I gave it to him for his mother. He was not willing to accept it for himself."

"That's a likely story," said Mrs. Preston, incredulously. "He only wants to make a favorable impression upon you--perhaps to get more out of you."

"You misjudge him, my dear."

"I know he is an artful, intriguing young rascal. You give him a hundred dollars, yet you refused to give Godfrey ten dollars last week."

"For a very good reason. He has a liberal allowance, and must keep within it. He did not need the money he asked for."

"Yet you lavish a hundred dollars on this boy."

"I felt justified in doing so. Which was better, to give him that sum, or to lose eight hundred?"

"I don't like the boy, and I never shall. I suppose he will be strutting around, boasting of his great achievement. If he had a gun it was nothing to do."

"I suspect Godfrey would hardly have ventured upon it," said the colonel, smiling.

"Oh, of course, Godfrey is vastly inferior to the Irish boy!" remarked Mrs. Preston, ironically. "You admire the family so much that I suppose if I were taken away, you would marry his mother and establish her in my place."

"If you have any such apprehensions, my dear, your best course is to outlive her. That will effectually prevent my marrying her, and I pledge you my word that, while you are alive, I shall not think of eloping with her."

"It is very well to jest about it," said Mrs. Preston, tossing her head.

"I am precisely of your opinion, my dear. As you observe, that is precisely what I am doing."

So the interview terminated. It was very provoking to Mrs. Preston that her husband should have given away a hundred dollars to Andy Burke's mother, but the thing was done, and could not be undone. However, she wrote an account of the affair to Godfrey, who, she knew, would sympathize fully with her view of the case. I give some extracts from her letter:

"Your father seems perfectly infatuated with that low Irish boy. Of course, I allude to Andy Burke. He has gone so far as to give him a hundred dollars. Yesterday, in riding home from Melville, with eight hundred dollars in his pocketbook, he says he was stopped by a highwayman, who demanded his money or his life. Very singularly, Andy came up just in the nick of time with a gun, and made a great show of interfering, and finally drove the man away, as your father reports. He is full of praise of Andy, and, as I said, gave him a hundred dollars, when two or three would have been quite enough, even had the rescue been real. But of this I have my doubts. It is very strange that the boy should have been on the spot just at the right time, still more strange that a full-grown man should have been frightened away by a boy of fifteen. In fact, I think it is what they call a 'put-up job.' I think the robber and Andy were confederates, and that the whole thing was cut and dried, that the man should make the attack, and Andy should appear and frighten him away, for the sake of a reward which I dare say the two have shared together. This is what I think about the matter. I haven't said so to your father, because he is so infatuated with the Irish boy that it would only make him angry, but I have no doubt that you will agree with me. (It may be said here that Godfrey eagerly adopted his mother's view, and was equally provoked at his father's liberality to his young enemy.) Your father says he won't give you the ten dollars you asked for. He can lavish a hundred dollars on Andy, but he has no money to give his own son. But sooner or later that boy will be come up with--sooner or later he will show himself in his true colors, and your father will be obliged to confess that he has been deceived. It puts me out of patience when I think of him.

"We shall expect you home on Friday afternoon of next week, as usual."

Andy was quite unconscious of the large space which he occupied in the thoughts of Mrs. Preston and Godfrey, and of the extent to which he troubled them. He went on, trying to do his duty, and succeeding fully in satisfying the Misses Grant, who had come to feel a strong interest in his welfare.

Three weeks later, Sophia Grant, who had been to the village store on an errand, returned home, looking greatly alarmed.

"What is the matter, Sophia?" asked her sister. "You look as if you had seen a ghost."

"Just so, Priscilla," she said; "no, I don't mean that, but we may all be ghosts in a short time."

"What do you mean?"

"Smallpox is in town!"

"Who's got it?"

"Colonel Preston; and his wife won't stay in the house. She is packing up to go off, and I expect the poor man'll die all by himself, unless somebody goes and takes care of him, and then it'll spread, and we'll all die of it."

This was certainly startling intelligence. Andy pitied the colonel, who had always treated him well. It occurred to him that his mother had passed through an attack of smallpox in her youth, and could take care of the colonel without danger. He resolved to consult her about it at once.

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