Bound to Rise/Chapter XXII
The week passed and Luke carefully avoided our hero going so far as to cross the street so as not to meet him. On Saturday evening, according to his arrangement, Luke was to have paid the surplus of his wages, after meeting his board bill, to Mr. Merrill, for Harry.
But he did not go near him. On Monday, the tailor meeting him, inquired why he had not kept his agreement.
"The fact is," said Luke," I have been unlucky."
"I had my wages loose in my pocket, and managed to lose them somehow."
"That is very singular," said the tailor, suspiciously.
"Why is it singular?" asked Luke. "Didn't Harry Walton lose his money?"
"You seem to have lost yours at a very convenient time."
"It's hard on me," said Luke. "Owing so much, I want to pay as quick as I can, so as to have my wages to myself. Don't you see that?"
"Where do you think you lost the money?"
"I'm sure I don't know, said Luke.
"Well," said Merrill, dryly, "I hope you will take better care of your wages next Saturday evening."
"I mean to. I can't afford to lose anymore."
"I don't believe, a word of what he says about losing his money," said the tailor, privately, to Harry. "I think it's only a trick to get rid of paying you."
"Don't you think he'll pay me?" asked Harry.
"He won't if he can help it," was the answer. "He's a slippery customer. I believe his money is in his pocket at this moment."
Mr. Merrill was not quite right; but it was only as to the whereabouts of the money. It was in Luke's trunk. He intended to run away, leaving all his creditors in the lurch. This was the "new way to pay old debts," which occurred to Luke as much the easiest.
The next Saturday evening, Mr. Merrill waited in vain for a call from his debtor.
"What excuse will he have now?" he thought.
On Monday morning he learned that Luke had left town without acquainting anyone with his destination. It transpired, also, that he was owing at his boarding house for two weeks' board. He was thus enabled to depart with nearly thirty dollars, for parts unknown.
"He's a hard case," said Mr. Merrill to Harry. "I am afraid he means to owe us for a long time to come."
"Where do you think he is gone?" asked Harry.
"I have no idea. He has evidently been saving up money to help him out of town. Sometime we may get upon his track, and compel him to pay up."
"That won't do me much good," said Harry, despondently. And then he told the tailor why he wanted the money. "Now," he concluded," I shan't be able to have the money ready in time."
"You'll have most of it ready, won't you?"
"I think I will."
"I would lend you the money myself," said the tailor, "but I've got a heavy payment to meet and some of my customers are slow pay, though I have not many as bad as Luke Harrison."
"Thank you, Mr. Merrill," said Harry. "I am as much obliged to you as if you could lend the money."
But it is said that misfortunes never come singly. The very next day Mr. Leavitt received a message from the wholesale dealer to whom he sold his shoes, that the market was glutted and sales slow.
"I shall not want any more goods for a month or two," the letter concluded. "I will let you know, when I more."
Mr. Leavitt read this letter aloud in the shop.
"So it seems we are to have a vacation," he said. "That's the worst of the shoe trade. It isn't steady. When it's good everybody rushes into it, and the market soon gets overstocked. Then there's no work for weeks."
This was a catastrophe for which Harry was no prepared. He heard the announcement with a grave face, for to him it was a serious calamity. Twenty-three dollars were all that he had saved from the money lost and this would be increased by a dollar or two only, when he had settled up with Mr. Leavitt. If he stayed here did not obtain work, he must pay his board, and that would soon swallow up his money. Could he get work in any other shop? That was an important question.
"Do you think I can get into any other shop in town?" he inquired anxiously of Mr. Leavitt.
"You can try, Harry; but I guess you'll find others no better off than I."
This was not very encouraging, but Harry determined not to give up without an effort. He devoted the next day to going around among the shoe shops; but everywhere he met with unfavorable answers. Some had ready suspended. Others were about to do so.
"It seems as if all my money must go," thought Harry, looking despondently at his little hoard. "First the ten dollars Luke Harrison stole. Then work stopped. I don't know but it would be better for me to go home."
But the more Harry thought of this, the less he liked it. It would be an inglorious ending to his campaign. Probably now he would not be able to carry out his plan of paying for the cow; but if his father should lose it, he might be able, if he found work, to buy him another Squire Green's cow was not the only cow in the world and all would not be lost if he could not buy her.
"I won't give up yet," said Harry, pluckily. "I must expect to meet with some bad luck. I suppose everybody does. Something'll turn up for me if I try to make it."
This was good philosophy. Waiting passively for something to turn up is bad policy and likely to lead to disappointment; but waiting actively, ready to seize any chance that may offer, is quite different. The world is full of chances, and from such chances so seized has been based many a prosperous career.
During his first idle day, Harry's attention was drawn to a handbill which had been posted up in the store, the post office, the tavern, and other public places in the village. It was to this effect:
"The celebrated Magician,
"Will exhibit his wonderful feats of Magic and Sleight of Hand in the Town Hall this evening, commencing at 8 o'clock. In the course of the entertainment he will amuse the audience by his wonderful exhibition of Ventriloquism, in which he is unsurpassed.
"Tickets 25 cents. Children under twelve, 15 cents."
In a country village, where amusements are few, such entertainments occupy a far more important place than in a city, where amusements abound.
"Are you going to the exhibition, Walton?" asked Frank Heath.
"I don't know," said Harry.
"Better come. It'll be worth seeing."
In spite of his economy, our hero wanted to go.
"The professor's stopping at the tavern. Come over, and we may see him," said Frank.