Chapter 27




THE RACE

James broached the subject which was uppermost in his mind as soon as he got home.

"I wish you'd buy me a new boat, father," he said.

"What's the matter with the boat you have now?"

"I don't want to be outdone by Herbert Carter." "I don't see how that can be."

"He's got a beautiful new boat, twice as handsome as mine ever was."

"He has!" exclaimed the squire, in amazement. "How can he have, without any money?"

"Mr. Cameron gave it to him."

"I don't believe it. Probably the boat belongs to Mr. Cameron and he has only let Herbert use it."

"No, Mr. Cameron gave it to him. Herbert told me."

"Perhaps he has not told the truth."

"He wouldn't tell a lie—that is, about that," said James, modifying his first assertion lest it might be a compliment. In reality he had implicit confidence in Herbert's word.

"You wouldn't want me to be rowing around in a poor boat, while that beggar has a new one," said James, artfully appealing to his father's pride.

"Well, the fact is, my son," said the squire, rather embarrassed, "it would not be convenient for me to buy you a new boat just now."

"Why not, father? I thought you had plenty of money."

"So I have; but I have made some investments under the advice of Mr. Temple. If you can arrange to exchange boats by paying a little to boot, you may do so."

"I have proposed it, but Herbert is very stiff about it."

"Humph!" said the squire, clearing his throat; "I think you will have to wait a while."

"How long?" asked James, dissatisfied.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said his father, "If things go well, I expect to make a good deal of money within twelve months. Instead of a rowboat, I'll buy you a beautiful little sailboat next season."

"Will you?" exclaimed James, delighted.

"Yes; won't that be much better?"

"You are right, father."

Certainly a sailboat would be far better and there was very little chance of Herbert's having one given him. So James went cut rowing contentedly the next afternoon, although Herbert was out also in the new boat.

"Your boat is better than mine," said James. "However, I am to have an elegant yacht next year."

"Are you?" said Herbert, interested.

"Father has promised to get me one. He would get me one this season but it would be some time before it could be got ready and I can have it the first thing next spring." "I congratulate you," said Herbert. "I should like a sailboat myself."

"I dare say you would," said James, pompously, "but of course you cannot expect to have one."

"I don't think there is much chance myself, unless somebody leaves me a fortune," said Herbert, good-naturedly. "I am satisfied with this boat."

"Of course it is more than a boy in your circumstances could expect."

Herbert smiled. He was used to references to his circumstances. James never allowed him to forget that he was a poor boy. He thought it hardly worth noticing.

"Shall we have a race?" he asked.

"Just as you say," said James.

James thought himself the better rower or he would not have consented to row across the pond.

"Are you ready?" asked Herbert.

"Yes."

"Give way, then."

Both bent to their oars and rowed their best. But it was not long before Herbert began to draw away from his antagonist. He had not had as much practice as James, but he was stronger in the arms, and had paid more attention to Cameron's instructions. He came in more than a dozen lengths ahead of his competitor.

"I've won the race, James," he said, with a smile.

"You ought to," said James, in a surly tone.

"I haven't had as much practice as you."

"What if you haven't? You've got a new boat, while mine is old and clumsy."

"If you think that makes any difference I'll row back with you, changing boats."

"Agreed," said James. But James brought up the rear at about the same distance.

"Beaten again," said Herbert, pleased with his success.

"There's nothing to crow about," said James, crossly. "Your boat is a good one but I'm not used to it."

"I am not much used to it myself. I only rowed in it yesterday for the first time."

"That's long enough to get the hang of it. There isn't much fun in rowing. I'd a good deal rather sail."

"I like both. There's more exercise in rowing."

"Don't you get exercise enough in hoeing potatoes?" asked James, with a sneer. "I shouldn't think laborers would need any extra exercise."

"There's some advantage in varying your exercise. There isn't much fun in hoeing."

"No, I should think not."

"Are you going in?" asked Herbert, noticing that James was proceeding to fasten his boat.

"Yes, I've got tired of the water."

Herbert was not to be alone, however, for just then Mr. Cameron appeared on the bank.

"I think I'll go out with you," he said.

"All right," said Herbert, with alacrity, as he rowed the boat to shore.

"Mr. Cameron," said our hero, "mother has asked me to invite you to take tea with us this evening."

"I shall be very glad to come," said Cameron.

"We live in humble style, you know," said Herbert, "but I told mother you wouldn't mind that."

"Thank you for saying so. I shall be very glad to meet your mother, and expect to enjoy myself better than at Squire Leech's table. It isn't the style, but the company. Why is James going away so soon?"

"I have beaten him in two races," said Herbert.

"I am not surprised to hear of your success. You are really gaining very fast."

"I am glad of it. I want to be a good rower."

"It is a good thing to do well anything you undertake, whether it be rowing or anything else."

"James thinks I don't need to row for exercise."

"Why not?"

"He thinks I shall get enough exercise in hoeing potatoes," answered
Herbert, with a smile.

"It wouldn't do him any harm to get exercise in the same way."

"The very idea would shock him."



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