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James repeated to his father what Herbert had told him, and the squire jumped to the conclusion that Herbert and his mother were in his power, and must accede to his demand. He decided to take advantage of their necessities, and allow only three hundred dollars for the house.
He entered the little house with the air of a proprietor.
"I suppose you know my errand, Mrs. Carter," he said pompously.
"I believe this is interest day," returned the widow.
"Yes. I presume you have by this time seen the folly of holding on to the place. You can't afford it, and it is best to accept my offer."
"My mother and I have thought it over, and decided to sell," said
"I am glad you are so sensible," observed Squire Leech, in a tone of satisfaction. "I will give you three hundred dollars over and above the mortgage."
"You offered us fifty dollars more before."
"Then is not now. You should have accepted my offer when I made it."
"We have no idea of selling at that price," said Herbert. "Our lowest price is six hundred and fifty dollars over and above the mortgage."
"Are you crazy?" ejaculated the squire, angrily.
"No; we have fixed upon that as a fair price," said Herbert, coolly.
"You know you can't get it."
"Then we won't sell."
"Young man, I apprehend you do not understand how the matter stands.
You will have to sell."
"Why must we?"
"You can't live on nothing."
"Of course not."
"You have made a failure in New York."
"I made my expenses while I was there."
"Then why didn't you stay?"
"I wanted to do something for mother's support."
"You have altogether too high an idea of your own abilities."
"I hope not, sir."
"You influence your mother to her harm."
"I don't think so, Squire Leech."
"But in this case you must yield. You can't expect me to wait for my money."
"Do you mean the interest?"
"Of course I do."
"We shall not ask you to wait. I am ready to pay it."
The squire stared in discomfiture while Herbert drew out the precise sum needed to pay the interest.
"Where did you get that money?" he inquired, chop-fallen.
"Honestly, Squire Leech. Will you give me a receipt?"
The squire did so mechanically.
"I will give you the three hundred and fifty dollars," he said; "but you must accept it to-day, or it is withdrawn."
"Neither to-day nor any other day will it be accepted, Squire Leech," said Herbert, firmly. "If you choose to pay six hundred and fifty, we will sell."
"You must think I am crazy."
"No, sir; it is a fair offer. If you don't want to buy, we will make another offer. We will rent the house for ninety dollars a year. That is the interest on fifteen hundred dollars at six per cent. I believe a man in your employ wishes to live here."
"Where do you propose to live?" asked Squire Leech, in surprise.
"We are going to leave town."
"Have you got a chance to work outside?"
"Yes; but I have declined to. I am going to school for two years—to an academy."
"But how are you going to live all this time?" inquired the squire, in amazement.
"I shall live on my income," answered Herbert, smiling.
"Income! Have you had a legacy?"
"From whom? I thought you only got a trunk of old clothes from your uncle."
"My legacy comes from my father."
"But he died poor."
"He left behind him an invention, half of which we have sold for an income of a thousand dollars a year."
"A thousand a year!" ejaculated the squire.
"Yes. I have sold it to the father of Mr. Cameron, who employed me last summer. You see, there is no occasion for our selling the house."
"You have been very fortunate," said Squire Leech, soberly. "I congratulate you both."
"Thank you," said Herbert, who privately thought their visitor looked excessively annoyed at their good fortune.
"I will see you about the house," he said, as he rose to go.
"Well, the squire congratulated us," said Herbert, after he went away; "but he didn't look happy when he did so. I shouldn't wonder if he accepted our terms, now that he knows we needn't sell."
Herbert proved to be right. Two days later the squire offered six hundred dollars over the mortgage for the place, and it was accepted.
"The place is worth more, mother," he said; "but it will relieve us from care to sell it."
James was even more annoyed than his father when he heard of Herbert's good fortune; but after his first annoyance he showed a disposition to be friendly. It is the way of the world. Nothing makes us sought after like a little good fortune. James felt that, now Herbert was in a position to live without work, he was a gentleman, and to be treated accordingly. Herbert received his overtures politely, but rated them at their real value.
Two years slipped away.
Herbert has finished his course at the academy, and is about to enter the manufactory as an office clerk. Mr. Cameron means to promote him as he merits, and I should not be at all surprised if our young friend eventually became junior partner. He and his mother have bought the house into which they moved, and have done not a little to convert it into a tasteful home. The invention has proved all that Mr. Cameron hoped for it. It has been widely introduced, and Herbert realizes as much from his own half as Mr. Cameron agreed to pay for that which he purchased. So his father's invention has proved to be Herbert Carter's most valuable legacy.
Squire Leech has been unfortunate. Too late he found, that Andrew Temple had deceived and defrauded him. All his large property, except a few thousand dollars, has been swept away, and James, disappointed in his lofty hopes, last week applied to Herbert to use his influence to obtain him a situation in Mr. Cameron's establishment. There was no vacancy there, but our hero has found him a place in a dry-goods store in the same town. Whether he will keep it remains to be seen. Times have changed since James looked upon Herbert as far beneath him. Now he is glad to be acknowledged as his companion. If James profits by his altered circumstances, the loss of his father's property may not prove so much of a misfortune after all, for wealth is far from being the greatest earthly good. For our young friend Herbert we may confidently indulge in cheerful anticipations. He has undergone the discipline of poverty and privation, and prosperity is not likely to spoil him. He has done his duty under difficult circumstances, and now he reaps the reward.
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