Two boys were walking in the campus of the Bridgeville Academy. They were apparently of about the same age—somewhere from fifteen to sixteen—but there was a considerable difference in their attire.
Herbert Grant was neatly but coarsely dressed, and his shoes were of cowhide, but his face indicated a frank, sincere nature, and was expressive of intelligence.
His companion was dressed in a suit of fine cloth, his linen was of the finest, his shoes were calfskin, and he had the indefinable air of a boy who had been reared in luxury.
He had not the broad, open face of his friend—for the two boys were close friends—but his features were finely chiseled, indicating a share of pride, and a bold, self-reliant nature.
He, too, was an attractive boy, and in spite of his pride possessed a warm, affectionate heart and sterling qualities, likely to endear him to those who could read and understand him.
His name was Frank Courtney, and he is the hero of my story.
"Have you written your Latin exercises, Frank?" asked Herbert.
"Yes; I finished them an hour ago."
"I was going to ask you to write them with me. It is pleasanter to study in company."
"Provided you have the right sort of company," rejoined Frank.
"Am I the right sort of company?" inquired Herbert, with a smile.
"You hardly need to ask that, Herbert. Are we not always together? If I did not like your company, I should not seek it so persistently. I don't care to boast, but I have plenty of offers of companionship which I don't care to accept. There is Bob Stickney, for instance, who is always inviting me to his room; but you know what he is—a lazy fellow, who cares more to have a good time than to study. Then there is James Cameron, a conceited, empty-headed fellow, who is very disagreeable to me."
"You don't mention your stepbrother, Mark Manning."
"For two reasons—he doesn't care for my company, and of all the boys I dislike him the most."
"I don't like him myself. But why do you dislike him so much?"
"Because he is a sneak—a crafty, deceitful fellow, always scheming for his own interest. He hates me, but he doesn't dare to show it. His father is my mother's husband, but the property is hers, and will be mine. He thinks he may some day be dependent on me, and he conceals his dislike in order to stand the better chance by and by. Heaven grant that it may be long before my dear mother is called away!"
"How did she happen to marry again, Frank?"
"I can hardly tell. It was a great grief to me. Mr. Manning was a penniless lawyer, who ingratiated himself with my mother, and persecuted her till she consented to marry him. He is very soft-spoken, and very plausible, and he managed to make mother—who has been an invalid for years—think that it would be the best thing for her to delegate her cares to him, and provide me with a second father."
Frank did not like his stepfather, he did not trust him.
"Your stepbrother, Mark Manning, enjoys the same advantages as yourself, does he not?" inquired Herbert.
"Then his father's marriage proved a good thing for him."
"That is true. When he first came to the house he was poorly dressed, and had evidently been used to living in a poor way. He was at once provided with a complete outfit as good as my own, and from that time as much has been spent on him as on me. Don't think that I am mean enough to grudge him any part of the money expended upon him. If he were like you, I could like him, and enjoy his society; but he is just another as his father."
Here Herbert's attention was drawn to a boy who was approaching with a yellow envelope in his hand.
"Frank," he said, suddenly, "there's Mark Manning. He looks as if he had something to say to you. He has either a letter or a telegram in his hand."
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