Cast Upon the Breakers/Chapter XXVIII
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Chapter XXVIII: A Minister's Good Fortune
|Chapter XXIX: A Mining Town in Montana→|
"I have another call to make, Rodney," said Mr. Pettigrew, as they were on their way back to the hotel, "and I want you to go with me."
"I shall be glad to accompany you anywhere, Mr. Pettigrew."
"You remember I told you of the old minister whose church I attended as a boy. He has never received but four hundred dollars a year, yet he has managed to rear a family, but has been obliged to use the strictest economy."
"Yes, I remember."
"I am going to call on him, and I shall take the opportunity to make him a handsome present. It will surprise him, and I think it will be the first present of any size that he has received in his pastorate of over forty years.
"There he lives!" continued Jefferson, pointing out a very modest cottage on the left hand side of the road.
It needed painting badly, but it looked quite as well as the minister who came to the door in a ragged dressing gown. He was venerable looking, for his hair was quite white, though he was only sixty five years old. But worldly cares which had come upon him from the difficulty of getting along on his scanty salary had whitened his hair and deepened the wrinkles on his kindly face.
"I am glad to see you, Jefferson," he said, his face lighting up with pleasure. "I heard you were in town and I hoped you wouldn't fail to call upon me."
"I was sure to call, for you were always a good friend to me as well as many others."
"I always looked upon you as one of my boys, Jefferson. I hear that you have been doing well."
"Yes, Mr. Canfield. I have done better than I have let people know."
"Have you been to see your uncle? Poor man, he is in trouble."
"He is no longer in trouble. The mortgage is paid off, and as far as Squire Sheldon is concerned he is independent."
"Indeed, that is good news," said the old minister with beaming face. "You must surely have done well if you could furnish money enough to clear the farm. It was over a thousand dollars, wasn't it?"
"Yes, thirteen hundred. My young friend, Rodney Ropes, and myself managed it between us."
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Ropes. Come in both of you. Mrs. Canfield will be glad to welcome you."
They followed him into the sitting room, the floor of which was covered by an old and faded carpet. The furniture was of the plainest description. But it looked pleasant and homelike, and the papers and books that were scattered about made it more attractive to a visitor than many showy city drawing rooms.
"And how are all your children, Mr. Canfield?" asked Jefferson.
"Maria is married to a worthy young man in the next town. Benjamin is employed in a book store, and Austin wants to go to college, but I don't see any way to send him, poor boy!" and the minister sighed softly.
"Does it cost much to keep a boy in college?"
"Not so much as might be supposed. There are beneficiary funds for deserving students, and then there is teaching to eke out a poor young man's income, so that I don't think it would cost over a hundred and fifty dollars a year."
"That isn't a large sum."
"Not in itelf, but you know, Jefferson, my salary is only four hundred dollars a year. It would take nearly half my income, so I think Austin will have to give up his hopes of going to college and follow in his brother's steps."
"How old is Austin now?"
"He is eighteen."
"Is he ready for college?"
"Yes, he could enter at the next commencement but for the financial problem."
"I never had any taste for college, or study, as you know, Mr. Canfield. It is different with my friend Rodney, who is a Latin and Greek scholar."
The minister regarded Rodney with new interest.
"Do you think of going to college, Mr. Ropes?" he asked.
"Not at present. I am going back to Montana with Mr. Pettigrew. Perhaps he and I will both go to college next year."
"Excuse me," said Jefferson Pettigrew. "Latin and Greek ain't in my line. I should make a good deal better miner than minister."
"It is not desirable that all should become ministers or go to college," said Mr. Canfield. "I suspect from what I know of you, Jefferson, that you judge yourself correctly. How long shall you stay in Burton?"
"I expect to go away tomorrow."
"Your visit is a brief one."
"Yes, I intended to stay longer, but I begin to be homesick after the West."
"Do you expect to make your permanent home there?"
"I can't tell as to that. For the present I can do better there than here."
The conversation lasted for some time. Then Jefferson Pettigrew rose to go.
"Won't you call again, Jefferson?" asked the minister hospitably.
"I shall not have time, but before I go I want to make you a small present" and he put into the hands of the astonished minister four fifty dollar bills.
"Two hundred dollars!" ejaculated the minister. "Why, I heard you only brought home a few hundred."
"I prefer to leave that impression. To you I will say that I am worth a great deal more than that."
"But you mustn't give me so much. I am sure you are too generous for your own interest. Why, it's munificent, princely."
"Don't be troubled about me. I can spare it. Send your boy to college, and next year I will send you another sum equally large."
"How can I thank you, Jefferson?" said Mr. Canfield, the tears coming into his eyes. "Never in forty years have I had such a gift."
"Not even from Squire Sheldon?"
"The squire is not in the habit of bestowing gifts, but he pays a large parish tax. May I--am I at liberty to say from whom I received this liberal donation?"
"Please don't! You can say that you have had a gift from a friend."
"You have made me very happy, Jefferson. Your own conscience will reward you."
Jefferson Pettigrew changed the subject, for it embarrassed him to be thanked.
"That pays me for hard work and privation," he said to Rodney as they walked back to the tavern. "After all there is a great pleasure in making others happy."
"Squire Sheldon hadn't found that out."
"And he never will."
On the way they met the gentleman of whom they had been speaking. He bowed stiffly, for he could not feel cordial to those whom had snatched from him the house for which he had been scheming so long.
"Squire Sheldon," said Jefferson, "you were kind enough to invite Rodney and myself to supper some evening. I am sorry to say that we must decline, as we leave Burton tomorrow."
"Use your own pleasure, Mr. Pettigrew," said the squire coldly.
"It doesn't seem to disappoint the squire very much," remarked Jefferson, laughing, when the great man of the village had passed on.
"It certainly is no disappointment to me."
"Nor to me. The little time I have left I can use more pleasantly than in going to see the squire. I have promised to supper at my uncle's tonight--that is, I have promised for both of us."
Returning to New York, Jefferson and Rodney set about getting ready for their Western journey. Rodney gave some of his wardrobe to Mike Flynn, and bought some plain suits suitable for his new home.
While walking on Broadway the day before the one fixed for his departure he fell in with Jasper Redwood.
"Have you got a place yet Ropes?" asked Jasper.
"I am not looking for any."
"How is that?" asked Jasper in some surprise.
"I am going to leave the city."
"That is a good idea. All cannot succeed in the city. You may find a chance to work on a farm in the country."
"I didn't say I was going to the country."
"Where are you going, then?"
"Isn't that a good way off?"
"What are you going to do there?"
"I may go to mining."
"But how can you afford to go so far?"
"Really, Jasper, you show considerable curiosity about my affairs. I have money enough to buy my ticket, and I think I can find work when I get out there."
"It seems to me a crazy idea."
"It might be--for you."
"And why for me?" asked Jasper suspiciously.
"Because you might not be willing to rough it as I am prepared to do."
"I guess you are right. I have always been used to living like a gentleman."
"I hope you will always be able to do so. Now I must bid you good by, as I am busy getting ready for my journey."
Jasper looked after Rodney, not without perplexity.
"I can't make out that boy," he said. "So he is going to be a common miner! Well, that may suit him, but it wouldn't suit me. There is no chance now of his interfering with me, so I am glad he is going to leave the city."