Dick Hamilton's Cadet Days/Chapter 4
IN WHICH DICK STARTS OFF
Mr. Hamilton came home early that afternoon, bringing Mr. Larabee, his brother-in-law, with him. Dick was anxiously awaiting their arrival.
"Is that fierce beast in the house?" demanded the boy's uncle, as he stood on the front steps. "If he is I'll not come in."
"I've sent him to the stable, uncle," replied the young millionaire.
"That's the proper place for him. Dogs are no good. They eat as much as a man, and what you spend on keeping them would provide for a heathen child in Africa."
Dick wondered if Uncle Ezra provided for any heathen children, from his wealth, but did not think it wise to ask.
"Well, Dick," said Mr. Hamilton, when they were all three in the library, "your uncle thinks it would be a good plan for me to leave you with him, while I'm away."
"Yes?" remarked Dick, his heart beating faster than usual.
"It's the only sensible plan," said Uncle Ezra with a snort. "Your idea of a military academy, where he'll learn to shoot and stab his fellow citizens, is a foolish one, Mortimer."
"It is not altogether my plan," said Mr. Hamilton softly as he thought of his dead wife. "Dick's mother provided for his future in her will, and I must see that her wishes are carried out. Besides, I think a military training is good for a young man."
"Stuff and nonsense!" exclaimed Uncle Ezra. "Neither you nor I had it, Mortimer, and we got along. We're both well off."
"Money isn't everything," said Mr. Hamilton. "No, Ezra, I'm much obliged for your offer, but I think Dick will go to Kentfield. He is to start in the morning."
"Hum! It's a foolish idea," again snorted Uncle Ezra. "You'll live to see the day you'll both be sorry for it."
"I hope not, Ezra."
"Well, you will."
"We'll not discuss that now. Will you have a cigar before dinner?"
"I never smoke. It's a dangerous and expensive habit."
"Slightly dangerous, perhaps, but I smoke very little. As for the expense, I think I can afford it. This has been quite a prosperous year for me—and Dick."
"What you spend for cigars would pay the interest on a large loan," went on Mr. Larabee.
"Yes, but I don't need the loan," declared Mr. Hamilton with a smile, "and I do feel that I need a cigar to rest me after my day's work. However, I don't advocate tobacco for young men, and Dick has promised not to smoke until he is of age, and that will not be for a few years yet."
"Stuff and nonsense!" exclaimed Uncle Ezra, as he could thing of nothing else to say.
"Perhaps you'd like a glass of lemonade before dinner," suggested Dick.
"No," replied the austere man. "I don't think I'll stop for dinner. My visit here has resulted in no good, and the sooner I get back home the better. Besides I've got a new hired man, and I'm almost certain he'll set the barn afire; he's so careless."
"Oh, I hope not, Ezra," said Mr. Hamilton.
"So do I, but I'd be nervous all night and I wouldn't sleep. Then I might get sick, and have to pay out money for a doctor, or some medicine. No; I'll take the late train home."
"But that won't get you there until after midnight."
"That's all right. It'll be cooler then, and there won't be so much danger of overheating the horse. When you overheat a horse you sometimes have to buy medicine for him, and horse medicine is expensive."
Seeing that his brother-in-law could not be prevailed upon to remain, Mr. Hamilton bade him good-bye, and Dick offered to take his uncle to the depot in the auto, but Mr. Larabee would not hear of it. He would walk, he said, and save the car fare.
"He's a queer man—your uncle," said Mr. Hamilton that night. "I guess you wouldn't fancy staying with him; eh Dick?"
"No, indeed, dad. A military academy for mine, as Bricktop would say."
Dick was up early the next morning, when both he and his father were to go away from home, each for a considerable time. The servants had been provided for, and the handsome Hamilton mansion would be closed for several months. Dick accompanied his father to the bank after breakfast, and planned to go to the depot from there, some of his chums having arranged to meet him at the station.
"Ah, good morning, gentlemen!" exclaimed a pompous voice, as Dick and his father entered the institution, and the young millionaire saw "Hank" Darby, ready to greet them. "I understand you are about to become a soldier," he went on to Dick.
"Well, a sort of one," replied our hero.
"Ah, that's a grand and noble calling. I once thought I would be one of the defenders of my country, but I was called into other lines of activity," said the father of the young proprietor of the scrap iron business. He did not specify what the other lines were. "It is indeed noble to fight for one's flag," went on the shiftless man, "but it is also noble to accumulate wealth with which to fit out armies. That is what I am doing. I am accumulating wealth."
"How is it going?" asked Mr. Hamilton, who, as well as did Dick, knew that Henry, the son, made all the money, which "Hank" spent as fast as he could get any of it.
"Well, it might be better," said the shiftless one. "But I have a scheme on hand."
"Another scheme, eh?"
"Yes, this is a very good one. There are enormous possibilities in it, sir, enormous!" and "Hank" fairly stood on his tiptoes to get this last word out with much emphasis.
"Well, I hope you succeed," said Mr. Hamilton, as he and his son went to the millionaire's private office.
The final details for the trips of father and son were arranged. Dick had his own bank account, and would not want for money. His father gave him some advice, and then the two said good-bye to each other, Dick having to leave before his father did, as the latter was to take an express to New York, where he would get a steamer for Europe. Grit, the dog, was to be left in charge of Henry Darby.
"Well, my boy," said Mr. Hamiilton, as he shook hands with Dick, "remember what you are going for. You're under a big handicap, but I guess you will win. You did the other time, though it was a close shave."
"Good-bye," said Dick, unable to keep back the suspicion of a tear.
"Good-bye," replied Mr. Hamilton, turning hastily to his desk, and fumbling among some papers, which seemed to rattle unnecessarily loud.
On the way to the depot Dick met Captain Handlee. The veteran greeted the lad cordially.
"So you're off to learn to be a soldier?" he asked.
"Well, I don't know that the military part of it amounts to much," admitted Dick, who had no false ideas about where he was going, "but dad thinks the discipline will be good for me, I guess."
"That's right. Nothing like discipline of the right sort for lads. We didn't have to learn to be soldiers in my time."
"No, I s'pose you just went right in and fought," said Dick.
"Indeed we did. That's what my boy did. Poor Bill! I wish I could see him, or even hear of him again. You'll not forget your promise; will you?"
"No, Captain Handlee."
"Remember he was the best shot in his company. He could drive a tack in a board at a hundred yards. You make some inquiries, and I think you'll get on the track of him."
"I will," promised Dick, but he had no idea in what a strange way fate was to bring about the old captain's desires through him.
Dick was started on his way to become a cadet.
Dick Hamilions Cadet Days.
"Here he comes!" cried Frank Bender, as he caught sight of Dick.
"Aren't you going to take your rifle with you?" asked Fred Murdock.
"I guess they'll provide me with a gun at Kentfield," answered Dick.
"But they won't give you such grub as we had at camp," remarked Bricktop.
"Oh, I guess they will, but maybe it won't taste so good," replied the young millionaire. "Well, boys, I guess this is my train."
All his chums tried to shake hands with Dick at once as the locomotive pulled into the station.
"Don't forget to send me a souvenier postal," called Bill Johnson.
"Tell us how you like it," chimed in Walter.
"Maybe my dad will send me," added Bricktop.
"Tell us if you meet any girls as pretty as those here," was Fred's contribution.
"Get on the football team," advised Frank.
"And the baseball nine," chimed in Bricktop.
By this time a number of passengers had their heads out of the windows, to see who was getting such a send-off. Dick's chums shook him by the hand, clapped him on the back, and fairly carried him up the steps of the coach.
Then, amid a chorus of good-byes, the train pulled out, and Dick was started on his way to become a cadet.