Bound to Rise/Chapter XXXV
There was a general silence after Squire Green's departure. Hiram Walton looked gloomy, and the rest of the family also.
"What an awful mean man the squire is!" Tom broke out, indignantly.
"You're right, for once," said Mary.
In general, such remarks were rebuked by the father or mother; but the truth of Tom's observation was so clear, that for once he was not reproved.
"Squire Green's money does him very little good," said Hiram Walton. "He spends very little of it on himself, and it certainly doesn't obtain him respect in the village. Rich as he is, and poor as I am, I would rather stand in my shoes than his."
"I should think so," said his wife. "Money isn't everything."
"No; but it is a good deal I have suffered too much from the want of it, to despise it."
"Well, Hiram," said Mrs. Walton, who felt that it would not do to look too persistently upon the dark side, "you know that the song says, 'There's a good time coming.'"
"I've waited for it a long time, wife," said the farmer, soberly.
"Wait a little longer," said Mrs. Walton, quoting the refrain of the song.
He smiled faintly.
"Very well, I'll wait a little longer; but if I have to wait too long, I shall get discouraged."
"Children, it's time to go to bed," said Mrs. Walton.
"Mayn't I sit up a little longer?" pleaded Mary.
"'Wait a little longer,' mother," said Tom, laughing, as he quoted his mother's words against her.
"Ten minutes, only, then."
Before the ten minutes were over, there was great and unexpected joy in the little house. Suddenly the outer door opened, and, without the slightest warning to anyone, Harry walked in. He was immediately surrounded by the delighted family, and in less time than I am taking to describe it he had shaken hands with his father, kissed his mother and sister, and given Tom a bearlike hug, which nearly suffocated him.
"Where did you come from, Harry?" asked Mary.
"Dropped down from the sky," said Harry, laughing.
"Has the professor been giving exhibitions up there?" asked Tom.
"I've discharge the professor," said Harry, gayly. "I'm my own man now."
"And you've come home to stay, I hope," said his mother.
"Not long, mother," said Harry. "I can only stay a few days."
"What a bully overcoat you've got on!" said Tom.
"The professor gave it to me."
"Hasn't he got one for me, too?"
Harry took off his overcoat, and Tom was struck with fresh admiration as he surveyed his brother's inside suit.
"I guess you spent all you money on clothes," he said.
"I hope not," said Mr. Walton, whom experience had made prudent.
"Not quite all," said Harry, cheerfully. "How much money do you think I have brought home?"
"Ten dollars," said Tom.
"Twenty," said Mary.
"I won't keep you guessing all night. What do you say to fifty dollars?"
"Oh, what a lot of money!" said Mary.
"You have done well, my son," said Mr. Walton. "You must have been very economical."
"I tried to be, father. But I didn't say fifty dollars was all I had."
"You haven't got more?" said his mother, incredulously.
"I've got a hundred dollars, mother," said Harry.
"Here are fifty dollars for you, father. It'll pay your note to Squire Green, and a little over. Here are thirty dollars, mother, of which you must use for ten for yourself, ten for Mary, and ten for Tom. I want you all to have some new clothes, to remember me by.
"But Harry, you will have nothing left for yourself."
"Yes, I shall. I have kept twenty dollars, which will be enough till I can earn some more."
"I don't see how you could save so much money, Harry," said his father.
"It was partly luck, father, and partly hard work. I'll tell you all about it."
He sat down before the fire and they listened to his narrative.
"Well, Harry," said Mr. Walton, "I am very glad to find that you are more fortunate than your father. I have had a hard struggle; but I will not complain if my children can prosper."
The cloud that Squire Green had brought with him had vanished, and all was sunshine and happiness.
It was agreed that no hint should be given to Squire Green that his note was to be paid. He did not even hear of Harry's arrival, and was quite unconscious of any change in the circumstances of the family, when he entered the cottage the next evening.
"Well, neighbor," he said, "I've brought along that ere note. I hope you've raised the money to pay it."
"Where do you think I could raise money, Squire?" asked Hiram Walton.
"I thought mebbe some of the neighbors would lent it to you."
"Money isn't very plenty with any of them, Squire, except with you."
"I calc'late better than they. Hev you got the ten dollars that you agreed to pay ef you couldn't meet the note?"
"Yes," said Hiram, "I raised the ten dollars."
"All right," said the squire, briskly, "I thought you could. As long as you pay that, you can keep the cow six months more, one a new contrack.'
"Don't you think, Squire, it's rather hard on a poor man, to make him forfeit ten dollars because he can't meet his note?"
"A contrack's a contrack," said the squire. "It's the only way to do business."
"I think you are taking advantage of me, Squire."
"No, I ain't. You needn't hev come to me ef you didn't want to. I didn't ask you to buy the cow. I'll trouble you for that ten dollars, neighbor, as I'm in a hurry."
"On the whole, Squire, I think I'll settle up the note. That'll be cheaper than paying the forfeit."
"What! Pay forty-one dollars and twenty cents!" ejaculated the squire, incredulously.
"Yes; it's more than the cow's worth, but as I agreed to pay it I suppose I must."
"I thought you didn't hev the money," said the squire, his lower jaw falling; for he would have preferred the ten dollars' forfeit, and a renewal of the usurious contract.
"I didn't have it when you were in last night; but I've raised it since."
"You said you couldn't borrow it."
"I didn't borrow it."
"Then where did it come from?"
"My son Harry has got home, Squire. He has supplied me with the money."
"You don't say! Where is he? Been a-doin' well, has he?"
Harry entered the room, and nodded rather coldly to the squire, who was disposed to patronize him, now that he was well dressed, and appeared to be doing well.
"I'm glad to see ye, Harry. So you've made money, have ye?"
"Hev you come home to stay?"
"No sir; I shall only stay a few days."
"What hev ye been doin'"
"I am going to be a printer."
"You don't say! Is it a good business?"
"I think it will be," said Harry. "I can tell better by and by."
"Well, I'm glad you're doin' so well. Neighbor Walton, when you want another cow I'll do as well by you as anybody. I'll give you credit for another on the same terms."
"If I conclude to buy any, Squire, I may come round."
"Well, good night, all. Harry, you must come round and see me before you go back."
Harry thanked him, but did not propose to accept the invitation. He felt that the squire was no true friend, either to himself or to his family, and he should feel no pleasure in his society. It was not in his nature to be hypocritical, and he expressed no pleasure at the squire's affability and politeness.
I have thus detailed a few of Harry's early experiences; but I am quite aware that I have hardly fulfilled the promise of the title. He has neither lived long nor learned much as yet, nor has he risen very high in the world. In fact, he is still at the bottom of the ladder. I propose, therefore, to devote another volume to his later fortunes, and hope, in the end, to satisfy the reader. The most that can be said thus far is, that he has made a fair beginning, and I must refer the reader who is interested to know what success he met with as a printer, to the next volume, which will be entitled:
Harry Walton's Success.