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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDriven From Home; Or Carl Crawford's Experience - Chapter 7. Ends In A Tragedy
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Driven From Home; Or Carl Crawford's Experience - Chapter 7. Ends In A Tragedy Post by :ozventures Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1765

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Driven From Home; Or Carl Crawford's Experience - Chapter 7. Ends In A Tragedy

CHAPTER VII. ENDS IN A TRAGEDY

Carl obtained permission to leave his trunk at the Vance mansion, merely taking out what he absolutely needed for a change.

"When I am settled I will send for it," he said. "Now I shouldn't know what to do with it."

There were cordial good-bys, and Carl started once more on the tramp. He might, indeed, have traveled by rail, for he had ten dollars and thirty-seven cents; but it occurred to him that in walking he might meet with some one who would give him employment. Besides, he was not in a hurry to get on, nor had he any definite destination. The day was fine, there was a light breeze, and he experienced a hopeful exhilaration as he walked lightly on, with the world before him, and any number of possibilities in the way of fortunate adventures that might befall him.

He had walked five miles, when, to the left, he saw an elderly man hard at work in a hay field. He was leaning on his rake, and looking perplexed and troubled. Carl paused to rest, and as he looked over the rail fence, attracted the attention of the farmer.

"I say, young feller, where are you goin'?" he asked.

"I don't know--exactly."

"You don't know where you are goin'?" repeated the farmer, in surprise.

Carl laughed. "I am going out in the world to seek my fortune," he said.

"You be? Would you like a job?" asked the farmer, eagerly.

"What sort of a job?"

"I'd like to have you help me hayin'. My hired man is sick, and he's left me in a hole. It's goin' to rain, and----"

"Going to rain?" repeated Carl, in surprise, as he looked up at the nearly cloudless sky.

"Yes. It don't look like it, I know, but old Job Hagar say it'll rain before night, and what he don't know about the weather ain't worth knowin'. I want to get the hay on this meadow into the barn, and then I'll feel safe, rain or shine."

"And you want me to help you?"

"Yes; you look strong and hardy."

"Yes, I am pretty strong," said Carl, complacently.

"Well, what do you say?"

"All right. I'll help you."

Carl gave a spring and cleared the fence, landing in the hay field, having first thrown his valise over.

"You're pretty spry," said the farmer. "I couldn't do that."

"No, you're too heavy," said Carl, smiling, as he noted the clumsy figure of his employer. "Now, what shall I do?"

"Take that rake and rake up the hay. Then we'll go over to the barn and get the hay wagon."

"Where is your barn?"

The farmer pointed across the fields to a story-and-a-half farmhouse, and standing near it a good-sized barn, brown from want of paint and exposure to sun and rain. The buildings were perhaps twenty-five rods distant.

"Are you used to hayin'?" asked the farmer.

"Well, no, not exactly; though I've handled a rake before."

Carl's experience, however, had been very limited. He had, to be sure, had a rake in his hand, but probably he had not worked more than ten minutes at it. However, raking is easily learned, and his want of experience was not detected. He started off with great enthusiasm, but after a while thought it best to adopt the more leisurely movements of the farmer. After two hours his hands began to blister, but still he kept on.

"I have got to make my living by hard work," he said to himself, "and it won't do to let such a little thing as a blister interfere."

When he had been working a couple of hours, he began to feel hungry. His walk, and the work he had been doing, sharpened his appetite till he really felt uncomfortable. It was at this time--just twelve o'clock--that the farmer's wife came to the front door and blew a fish horn so vigorously that it could probably have been heard half a mile.

"The old woman's got dinner ready," said the farmer. "If you don't mind takin' your pay in victuals, you can go along home with me, and take a bite."

"I think I could take two or three, sir."

"Ho, ho! that's a good joke! Money's scarce, and I'd rather pay in victuals, if it's all the same to you."

"Do you generally find people willing to work for their board?" asked Carl, who knew that he was being imposed upon.

"Well, I might pay a leetle more. You work for me till sundown, and I'll give you dinner and supper, and--fifteen cents."

Carl wanted to laugh. At this rate of compensation he felt that it would take a long time to make a fortune, but he was so hungry that he would have accepted board alone if it had been necessary.

"I agree," he said. "Shall I leave my rake here?"

"Yes; it'll be all right."

"I'll take along my valise, for I can't afford to run any risk of losing it."

"Jest as you say."

Five minutes brought them to the farmhouse.

"Can I wash my hands?" asked Carl.

"Yes, you can go right to the sink and wash in the tin basin. There's a roll towel behind the door. Mis' Perkins"--that was the way he addressed his wife--"this is a young chap that I've hired to help me hayin'. You can set a chair for him at the table."

"All right, Silas. He don't look very old, though."

"No, ma'am. I ain't twenty-one yet," answered Carl, who was really sixteen.

"I shouldn't say you was. You ain't no signs of a mustache."

"I keep it short, ma'am, in warm weather," said Carl.

"It don't dull a razor any to cut it in cold weather, does it?" asked the farmer, chuckling at his joke.

"Well, no, sir; I can't say it does."

It was a boiled dinner that the farmer's wife provided, corned beef and vegetables, but the plebeian meal seemed to Carl the best he ever ate. Afterwards there was apple pudding, to which he did equal justice.

"I never knew work improved a fellow's appetite so," reflected the young traveler. "I never ate with so much relish at home."

After dinner they went back to the field and worked till the supper hour, five o'clock. By that time all the hay had been put into the barn.

"We've done a good day's work," said the farmer, in a tone of satisfaction, "and only just in time. Do you see that dark cloud?"

"Yes, sir."

"In half an hour there'll be rain, or I'm mistaken. Old Job Hagar is right after all."

The farmer proved a true prophet. In half an hour, while they were at the supper table, the rain began to come down in large drops--forming pools in the hollows of the ground, and drenching all exposed objects with the largesse of the heavens.

"Where war you a-goin' to-night?" asked the farmer.

"I don't know, sir."

"I was thinkin' that I'd give you a night's lodgin' in place of the fifteen cents I agreed to pay you. Money's very skeerce with me, and will be till I've sold off some of the crops."

"I shall be glad to make that arrangement," said Carl, who had been considering how much the farmer would ask for lodging, for there seemed small chance of continuing his journey. Fifteen cents was a lower price than he had calculated on.

"That's a sensible idea!" said the farmer, rubbing his hands with satisfaction at the thought that he had secured valuable help at no money outlay whatever.

The next morning Carl continued his tramp, refusing the offer of continued employment on the same terms. He was bent on pursuing his journey, though he did not know exactly where he would fetch up in the end.

At twelve o'clock that day he found himself in the outskirts of a town, with the same uncomfortable appetite that he had felt the day before, but with no hotel or restaurant anywhere near. There was, however, a small house, the outer door of which stood conveniently open. Through the open window, Carl saw a table spread as if for dinner, and he thought it probable that he could arrange to become a boarder for a single meal. He knocked at the door, but no one came. He shouted out: "Is anybody at home?" and received no answer. He went to a small barn just outside and peered in, but no one was to be seen.

What should he do? He was terribly hungry, and the sight of the food on the table was tantalizing.

"I'll go in, as the door is open," he decided, "and sit down to the table and eat. Somebody will be along before I get through, and I'll pay whatever is satisfactory, for eat I must."

He entered, seated himself, and ate heartily. Still no one appeared.

"I don't want to go off without paying," thought Carl. "I'll see if I can find somebody."

He opened the door into the kitchen, but it was deserted. Then he opened that of a small bedroom, and started back in terror and dismay.

There suspended from a hook--a man of middle age was hanging, with his head bent forward, his eyes wide open, and his tongue protruding from his mouth!

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