Bound to Rise/Chapter XI
When Harry awoke the next morning, after a sound and refreshing sleep, the sun was shining brightly in at the window. He rubbed his eyes, and stared about him, not at first remembering where he was. But almost immediately recollection came to his aid, and he smiled as he thought of the eccentric old man whose guest he was. He leaped out of bed, and quickly dressing himself, went downstairs. The fire was burning, and breakfast was already on the table. It was precisely similar to the supper of the night previous. The old man sat at the fireside smoking a pipe.
"Good morning, general," said Harry. "I am up late."
"It is no matter. You have a long journey before you, and it is well to rest before starting."
"Where does he think I am going?" thought our hero.
"Breakfast is ready," said the old man, hospitably. "I can't entertain you now as I could have done when I was President. You must come and see me at the White House next year."
"I should like to."
Harry ate a hearty breakfast. When it was over, he rose to go.
"I must be going, general," he said. "Thank you for your kind entertainment. If you would allow me to pay you."
"General Jackson does not keep an inn," said the old man, with dignity. "You are his guest. I have your instructions ready."
He opened a drawer in the table, and took a roll of foolscap, tied with a string.
"Put it in your bundle," he said. "Let no one see it. Above all, don't let it fall into the hands of Henry Clay, or my life will be in peril."
Harry solemnly assured him that Henry Clay should never see it, and shaking the old man by the hand, made his way across the fields to the main road. Looking back from time to time, he saw the old man watching him from his place in the doorway, his eyes shaded by his hand.
"He is the strangest man I ever saw," thought Harry. "Still he treated me kindly. I should like to find out some more about him."
When he reached the road he saw, just in front of him, a boy of about his own age driving half a dozen cows before him.
"Perhaps he can tell me something about the old man."
"Hello!" he cried, by way of salutation.
"Hello!" returned the country boy. "Where are you going?"
"I don't know. Wherever I can find work," answered our hero.
The boy laughed. "Dad finds enough for me to do. I don't have to go after it. Haven't you got a father?"
"Why don't you work for him?"
"I want to work for pay."
"On a farm?"
"No. I'll work in a shoe shop if I get a chance or in a printing office."
"Do you understand the shoe business?"
"No; but I can learn."
"Where did you come from?"
"You didn't come from there this morning?"
"No, I guess not, as it's over twenty miles. Last night I stopped at General Jackson's."
The boy whistled.
"What, at the old crazy man's that lives down here a piece?"
"What made you go there?"
"It began, to rain, and I had no other place to go."
"What did he say?" asked the new boy with curiosity.
"Did he cut up?"
"Cut up? No, unless you mean the bread. He cut up that."
"I mean, how did he act?"
"All right, except when he was talking about being General Jackson."
"Did you sleep there?"
"I wouldn't sleep in a crazy man's house."
"He wouldn't hurt you."
"I don't know about that. He chases us boys often, and threatens to kill us."
"You plague him, don't you?"
"I guess we do. We call him 'Old Crazy,' and that makes him mad. He says Henry Clay puts us up to it--ho, ho, ho!"
"He thinks Clay is his enemy. He told me so."
"What did you say?"
"Oh, I didn't contradict him. I called him general. He treated me tip-top. He is going to make me Minister of France, when he is President again."
"Maybe that was the best way to get along."
"How long has he lived here? What made him crazy?"
"I don't know. Folks say he was disappointed."
"Did he ever see Jackson?"
"Yes; he fit at New Orleans under him."
"Has he lived long around here?"
"Ever since I can remember. He gets a pension, I've heard father say. That's what keeps him."
Here the boy reached the pasture to which he was driving the cows, and Harry, bidding him "good-by," went on his way. He felt fresh and vigorous, and walked ten miles before he felt the need of rest. When this distance was accomplished, he found himself in the center of a good-sized village. He felt hungry, and the provision which he brought from home was nearly gone. There was a grocery store close at hand, and he went in, thinking that he would find something to help his meal. On the counter he saw some rolls, and there was an open barrel of apples not far off.
"What do you charge for your rolls?" he asked.
"I'll take one. How do you sell your apples?"
"A cent apiece."
"I'll take two."
Thus for four cents Harry made quite a substantial addition to his meal. As he left the store, and walked up the road, with the roll in his hand, eating an apple, he called to mind Benjamin Franklin's entrance of Philadelphia with a roll under each arm.
"I hope I shall have as good luck as Franklin had," he thought.
Walking slowly, he saw, on a small building which he I had just reached, the sign, "Post Office."
"Perhaps the postmaster will know if anybody about here wants a boy," Harry said to himself. "At any rate, it won't do any harm to inquire."
He entered, finding himself in a small room, with one part partitioned off as a repository for mail matter. He stepped up to a little window, and presently the postmaster, an elderly man, presented himself.
"What name," he asked.
"I haven't come for a letter," said Harry.
"What do you want, then?" asked the official, but not roughly.
"Do you know of anyone that wants to hire a boy?"
"Who's the boy?"
"I am. I want to get a chance to work."
"What kind of work?"
"Any kind that'll pay my board and a little over."
"I don't know of any place," said the postmaster, after a little thought.
"Isn't there any shoe shop where I could get in?"
"That reminds me--James Leavitt told me this morning that his boy was going to Boston to go into a store in a couple of months. He's been pegging for his father and I guess they'll have to get somebody in his place."
Harry's face brightened at this intelligence.
"That's just the kind of place I'd like to get," he said.
"Where does Mr. Leavitt live?"
"A quarter of a mile from here--over the bridge. You'll know it well enough. It's a cottage house, with a shoe shop in the backyard."
"Thank you, sir," said Harry. "I'll go there and try my luck."
"Wait a minute," said the postmaster. "There's a letter here for Mr. Leavitt. If you're going there, you may as well carry it along. It's from Boston. I shouldn't wonder if it's about the place Bob Leavitt wants."
"I'll take it with pleasure," said Harry.
It occurred to him that it would be a good introduction for him, and pave the way for his application.
"I hope I may get a chance to work for this Mr. Leavitt," he said to himself. "I like the looks of this village. I should like to live here for a while."
He walked up the street, crossing the bridge referred to by the postmaster, and looked carefully on each side of him for the cottage and shop. At length he came to a place which answered the description, and entered the yard. As he neared the shop he heard a noise which indicated that work was going on inside. He opened the door, and entered.