ARRt ,, MAC DOHW
THE BOY GUARDIAN.
THE BOY GUARDIAN.
HORATIO ALGER, JR.,
AUTHOR OF "BAGGED DICK SERIES," "LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES,"
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COP r BIGHT BY A. K . LORING, 1875.
FRANCIS S. SMITH,
TJ7-JF "NEW YORK WEEKLY*
IS INSCRIBED BY HIS FRIEND,
" Jack's Ward " is founded upon a story which
the author published some years since anony-
mously. It has been wholly rewritten, con-
siderably enlarged, and, it is hoped, improved.
I offer it to my young readers in its present
form as the second volume of the * * Brave and
Bold" Series. I shall have reason to be gratified
if it receives as warm a welcome as its prede-
YORK, Sept. 6, 1875.
THE BOY GUAKDIAN.
JACK HARDING GETS A JOB.
k< LOOK here, boy, can you hold my horse a few
minutes ? " asked a gentleman, as he jumped from his
carriage, in one of the lower streets in New York.
The boy addressed was apparently about twelve,
with a bright face and laughing eye, but dressed in
clothes of coarse material. This was Jack Harding,
who is to be our hero.
u Yes, sir," said Jack with alacrity, hastening to
the horse's head ; " I'll hold him as long as you like."
"All right! I'm going in at No. 39 ; I won't be
" That's what I call good luck," said Jack to him-
10 JACK'S WARD; OB,
self. " No boy wants a job more than I do. Father's
out of work, rent's most due, and Aunt Rachel's wor
rying our lives out with predicting that we'll all be in
the poor-house inside of three months. It's enough
to make a fellow feel blue, listenin' to her complainin'
and groanin' all the time. Wonder whether she
was always so. Mother says she was disappointed in
love when she was young. I guess that's the reason."
" Have you set up a carriage, Jack? " asked a boy
acquaintance, coming up and recognizing Jack.
" Yes," said Jack, " but it aint for long. I shall
set down again pretty soon."
" I thought your grandmother had left you a for-
tune, and you had set up a team."
" No such good news. It belongs to a gentleman
" Inside the carriage?"
"No, in No. 39."
" How long's he going to stay?*
" I don't know."
" If it was half an hour, we might take a ride, and
be back in time."
Jack shook his head.
THE SOT GUARDIAN. 11
"That aint my style," he said. "I'll stay here
till he comes out."
"Well, I must be going along. Are you coming
to school to-morrow ? "
" Yes, if I can't get anything to do."
" Are you trying for that ? "
"I'd like to get a place. Father's out of work,
and anything I can earn comes in handy."
"My father's got plenty of money," said Frank
Nelson, complacently. "There isn't any need of my
" Then your father's lucky."
"And so am I."
" I don't know about that. I'd just as lieve work
" Well, I wouldn't. I'd rather be my own master,
and have my time to myself. But I must be going
"You're lazy, Frank."
" Very likely. I've a right to be."
Frank Nelson went off, and Jack was left alone.
Half an hour passed, and still the gentleman, who
had entered No. 39, didn't reappear. The horse
12 JACK'S WARD; on,
showed signs of impatience, shook his head, and
eyed Jack in an unfriendly manner.
"He thinks it time to be going," thought Jack.
" So do I. I wonder what the man's up to. Per-
haps he's spending the day."
Fifteen minutes more passed, but then relief came.
The owner of the carriage came out.
" Did you get tired of waiting for me?" he asked.
" No," said Jack, shrewdly. " I knew the longer
the job, the bigger the pay."
" I suppose that is a hint," said the gentleman, not
" Perhaps so," said Jack, and he smiled too.
" Tell me now, what are you going to do with the
money I give you buy candy ? "
4 'No," answered Jack, "I shall carry it home to
" That's well. Does your mother need the
" Yes, sir. Father's out of work, and we've got
to live all the same."
" What's your father's business? *
" He's a cooper."
THE BOY GUARDIAN. 13
" So he's out of work?"
"Yes, sir, and has been for six weeks. Ifs on
account of the panic, I suppose."
"Very likely. He has plenty of company just
It may be remarked that our story opens in the
year 1867, memorable for its panic, and the business
depression which followed. Nearly every branch of
industry suffered, and thousands of men were thrown
out of work, and utterly unable to find employment
of any kind. Among them was Timothy Harding,
the father of our hero. He was a sober, steady man,
and industrious ; but his wages had never been large,
and he had been unable to save up a reserve fund, on
which to draw in time of need. He had an excellent
wife, and but one child our present hero ; but there
was another, and by no means unimportant member
of the family. This was Rachel Harding, a spinster
of melancholy temperament, who belonged to that
unhappy class who are always prophesying evil, and
expecting the worst. She had been " disappointed"
in early life, and this had something to do with her
gloomy views, but probably she was somewhat in-
clined by nature to despondency.
The family lived in a humble tenement, which,
however, was neatly kept, and would have been a
cheerful home but for the gloomy presence of Aunt
Kachel, who, since her brother had been thrown out
of employment was gloomier than ever.
But all this while we have left Jack and the
stranger standing in the street.
"You seem to be a good boy," said the latter,
" and, under the circumstances, I will pay you more
than I intended."
He drew from his vest-pocket ft dollar bill, and
handed to Jack.
" What, is all this for me? " asked Jack, joyfully.
" Yes, on the condition that you carry it home, and
give it to your mother."
11 That I will, sir ; she'll be glad enough to get it."
"Well, good-by, my boy. I hope your father'll
find work soon."
"He's A trump!" ejaculated Jack. "Wasn't it
lucky I was here just as he wanted a boy to hold his
THE BOY GUARDIAN. 15
horse. I wonder what Aunt Rachel will have to say
to that. Very likely she'll say the bill is bad."
Jack made the best of his way home. It was
already late in the afternoon, and he knew he would
be expected. It was with a lighter heart than usual
that he bent his steps homeward, for he knew that the
dollar would be heartily welcome.
We will precede him, and give a brief description-
of his home.
There were only five rooms, and these were fur-
nished in the plainest manner. In the sitting-room
were his mother and aunt. Mrs. Harding was a
motherly looking woman, with a pleasant face, the
prevailing expression of which was a serene cheerful-
ness, though of late it had been harder than usual to
preserve this, in the straits to which the family had
been reduced. She was setting the table for tea.
Aunt Rachel sat in a rocking-chair at the window-
She was engaged in knitting. Her face was long and
thin, and, as Jack expressed it, she looked as if she
hadn't a friend in the world. Her voice harmonized
with her mournful expression, and was equally dole-
16 JACK'S WARD; OR,
" I wonder why Jack don't come home," said Mrs.
Harding, looking at the clock. " He's generally here
at this time."
4 'Perhaps something's happened," suggested her
" What do you mean, Rachel?"
" I was reading in the ' Sun ' this morning about
a boy being run over out West somewhere."
" You don't think Jack has been run over ! "
"Who knows?" said Rachel, gloomily. " You
know how careless boys are, and Jack's very care-
" I don't see how you can look for such things,
" Accidents are always happening; you know that
yourself, Martha. I don't say Jack's run over. Per-
haps he's been down to the wharves, and tumbled
over into the water and got drowned."
"I wish you wouldn't say such things, Rachel.
They make me feel uncomfortable."
" We may as well be prepared for the worst," said
"Not this time, Rachel," said Mrs. Harding,
THE EOT GUARDIAN. 17
brightly, "for thafs Jack's step outside. He isn't
drowned or run over, thank God ! "
" I hear him," said Rachel, dismally. " Anybody
might know by the noise who it is. He always comes
stomping along as if he was paid for makin' a noise.
Anybody ought to have a cast-iron head that lives
anywhere within his hearing."
Here Jack entered, rather boisterously, it must be
admitted, in his eagerness slamming the door behind
JACI?S WARD; OB,
THE EVENTS OP AN EVENING.
" I AM glad you've come, Jack," said his mother.
4 * Rachel was just predicting that you were run over
" I hope you're not very much disappointed to see
me safe and well, Aunt Rachel," said Jack, merrily.
" I don't think I've been drowned."
"There's things worse than drowning," replied
"Such as what?"
U A man that's born to be hanged is safe from
" Thank you for the compliment, Aunt Rachel, if
you mean me. But, mother, I didn't tell you of my
good luck. See this," and he displayed the dollar bill.
" How did you get it? " asked his mother.
" Holding horses. Here, take it, mother ; I war-
rant you'll find a use for it."
THE EOT GUARDIAN.
"It comes in good time," said Mrs. Harding.
" We're out of flour, and I had no money to buy any.
Before you take off your boots, Jack, I wish you'd
run over to the grocery store, and buy half a dozen
pounds. You may get a pound of sugar, and quarter
of a pound of tea also."
"You see the Lord hasn't forgotten us," she re-
marked, as Jack started on his errand.
"What's a dollar?" said Rachel, gloomily.
" Will it carry us through the winter?"
" It will carry us through to-night, and perhaps
Timothy will have work to-morrow. Hark, that's-
At this moment the outer door opened, and
Timothy Harding entered, not with the quick, elastic
step of one who brings good tidings, but slowly and
deliberately, with a quiet gravity of demeanor in
which his wife could read only too well that he had
failed in his efforts to procure work.
Reading all this in his manner, she had the deli-
cacy to forbear intruding upon him questions to
which she saw it would only give him pain to reply
Not so Aunt Rachel.
20 JACK'S WARD; os,
"I needn't ask," she began, " whether you've got
work, Timothy. I knew beforehand you wouldn't.
There aint no use in tryin' ! The times is awful dull,
and mark my words, they'll be wuss before they're
better. We mayn't live to see 'em. I don't expect
we shall. Folks can't live without money ; and if we
can't get that, we shall have to starve."
"Not so bad as that, Rachel," said the cooper,
trying to look cheerful ; "I don't talk about starving
till the time comes. Anyhow," glancing at the
table, on which was spread a good plain meal, " we
needn't talk about starving till to-morrow with that
before us. Where's Jack ? "
" Gone after some flour," replied his wife.
" On credit?" asked the cooper.
"No, he's got money enough to pay for a few
pounds," said Mrs. Harding, smiling with an air of
"Where did it come from?" asked Timothy, who
was puzzled, as his wife anticipated. "I didn't know
you had any money in the house."
" No more we had ; but he earned it himself, hold-
ing horses, this afternoon."
THE BOY GUARDIAN. 21
" Come, that* s good," said the cooper, cheerfully.
"We aint so bad off as we might be, you see,
" Very likely the bill's bad," she said, with the air
of one who rather hoped it was.
"Now, Kachel, what's the use of anticipating
evil? " said Mrs. Harding. " You see you're wrong,
for here's Jack with the flour."
The family sat down to supper.
" You haven't told us," said Mrs. Harding, seeing
her husband's cheerfulness in a measure restored,
"what Mr. Blodgett said about the chances for
"Not much that was encouraging," answered
Timothy. " He isn't at all sure when it will be safe
to commence work; perhaps not before spring."
"Didn't I tell you so?" commented Eachel, with
Even Mrs. Harding couldn't help looking sober.
"I suppose, Timothy, you haven't formed any
plans," she said.
" No, I haven't had time. I must try to get some-
thing else to do."
22 JACK'S WARD; OR,
"What, for instance?"
" Anything by which I can earn a little; I don't
care if it's only sawing wood. We shall have to get
along as economically as we can cut our coat
according to our cloth."
" Oh, you'll be able to earn something, and we can
live very plain," said Mrs. Harding, affecting a
cheerfulness she didn't feel.
44 Pity you hadn't done it sooner," was the com-
forting suggestion of Rachel.
"Mustn't cry over spilt milk," said the cooper,
good-humoredly. " Perhaps we might have lived a
leetle more economically, but I don't think we've been
" Besides, I can earn something, father," said
Jack, hopefully. " You know I did this afternoon."
" So you can," said his mother, brightly.
" There aint horses to hold every day," said
Rachel, apparently fearing that the family might
become too cheerful, when, like herself, it was their
duty to be profoundly gloomy.
u You're always tryin* to discourage people, Aunt
Rachel," said Jack, discontentedly.
THE SOT GUARDIAN. 23
Rachel took instant umbrage at these words.
" I'm sure," said she, mournfully, " I don't want to
nake you unhappy. If you can find anything to be
cheerful about when you're on the verge of starva-
tion, I hope you'll enjoy yourselves, and not mind
me. I'm a poor, dependent creetur, and I feel to
know I'm a burden."
" Now, Rachel, that's all foolishness," said Tim-
othy. " You don't feel anything of the kind."
" Perhaps others can tell how I feel better than I
can myself," answered his sister, with the air of a
martyr. "If it hadn't been for me, I know you'd
have been able to lay up money, and have something
to carry you through the winter. It's hard to be a
burden on your relations, and bring a brother's
family to this poverty."
" Don't talk of being a burden, Rachel," said
Mrs. Harding. " You've been a great help to me in
many ways. That pair of stockings, now, you're
knitting for Jack, that's a help, for I couldn't
have got time for them myself."
" I don't expect," said Aunt Rachel, in the same
sunny manner, " that I shall be able to do it long.
24 JACK'S WARD; o*,
From the pains I have in my hands sometimes, I
expect I'm goin' to lose the use of 'em soon, and be
as useless as old Mrs. Sprague, who for the last ten
years of her life had to sit with her hands folded on
her lap. But I wouldn't stay to be a burden, I'd go
to the poor-house first. But perhaps," with the look
of a martyr, "they wouldn't want me there, because I'd
be discouragin' 'em too much."
Poor Jack, who had so unwittingly raised this
storm, winced under the last words, which he knew
were directed at him.
" Then why," asked he, half in extenuation, " why
don't you try to look pleasant and cheerful? Why
won't you be jolly, as Tom Piper's aunt is ? "
" I dare say I aint pleasant," said Rachel, " as my
own nephew twits me with it. There is some folks
that can be cheerful when their house is a burnin'
down before their eyes, and I've heard of one young
man that laughed at his aunt's funeral," directing a
severe glance at Jack ; " but I'm not one of that kind.
I think, with the Scriptures, that there's a time to
THE BOY GUARDIAN. 25
"Doesn't it say there's a time to laugh, too?"
asked Mrs. Harding.
" When I see anything to laugh about, I'm ready
to laugh," said Aunt Eachel ; " but human nater
aint to be forced. I can't see anything to laugh at
now, and perhaps you won't by and by."
It was evidently quite useless to persuade Rachel
to cheerfulness, and the subject dropped.
The tea-things were cleared away by Mrs.
Harding, who then sat down to her sewing. Aunt
Rachel continued to knit in grim silence, while Jack
seated himself on a three-legged stool near his aunt,
and began to whittle out a boat, after a model lent
him by Tom Piper, a young gentleman whose aunt
has already been referred to.
The cooper took out his spectacles, wiped them
carefully with his handkerchief, and as carefully
adjusted them to his nose. He then took down from
the mantel-piece, one of the few books belonging to
his library, " Dr. Kane's Arctic Explorations,"
and began to read, for the tenth time, it might be,
the record of these daring explorers.
The plain little room presented a picture of grace
26 JActfa WARD; oj?,
ful tranquillity, but it proved to be only the calm
which preceded the storm.
The storm in question, I regret to say, was brought
about by the luckless Jack. As has been said, he
was engaged in constructing a boat, the particular
operation he was now intent upon being the excava-
tion, or hollowing out. Now three-legged stools are
not the most secure seats in the world. This, I
think, no one will deny who has any practical
acquaintance with them. Jack was working quite
vigorously, the block from which the boat was to be
fashioned being held firmly between his knees. His
knife having got wedged in the wood, he made an
unusual effort to draw it out, in which he lost his
balance, and disturbed the equilibrium of his stool,
which, with its load, tumbled over backwards. Now,
it very unfortunately happened that Aunt Rachel sat
close behind, and the treacherous stool came down
with considerable force upon her foot.
A piercing shriek was heard, and Aunt Rachel,
lifting her foot, clung to it convulsively, while an
expression of pain disturbed her features.
At the sound, the cooper hastily removed his spec-
THE SOT GUARDIAN. 27
tacles, and, letting "Dr. Kane" fall to the floor,
started up in great dismay. Mrs. Harding likewise
dropped her sewing, and jumped to her feet in
It did not take long to see how matters stood.
"Hurt ye much, Rachel?" inquired Timothy.
"It's about killed me," groaned the afflicted
maiden. " Oh, I shall have to have my foot cut off,
or be a cripple anyway." Then turning upon Jack
fiercely, " You careless, wicked, ungrateful boy, that
I've been wearin' myself out knittin' for. I'm almost
sure you did it a purpose. You won't be satisfied
till you've got me out of the world, and then then,
perhaps "here Rachel began to whimper "per-
haps you'll get Tom Piper's aunt to knit your
" I didn't mean to, Aunt Rachel," said Jack, peni-
tently, eying his aunt, who was rocking to and fro in
her chair. "You know I didn't. Besides, I hurt
myself like thunder," rubbing himself vigorously.
" Served you right," said his aunt, still clasping
28 JAGS' s WARD; OR,
" Sha'n't I get something for you to put on it,
Rachel?" asked Mrs. Harding.
But this Rachel steadily refused, and, after a few
more postures indicating a great amount of anguish,
limped out of the room, and ascended llie stairs to
her own apartment.
TSX BOY GUARDIAN. 29
JACK'S NEW PLAN.
Amrr RACHEL was right in one thing, as Jack
realized. He could not find horses to hold every
day, and even if he had succeeded in that, few would
have paid him so munificently as the stranger of the
day before. In fact, matters came to a crisis, and
something must be sold to raise funds for immediate
necessities. Now the only article of luxury if it
could be called so in the possession of the family
was a sofa, in very good preservation, indeed nearly
new, for it had been bought only two years before
when business was good. A neighbor was willing to
pay fifteen dollars for this, and Mrs. Harding, with
her husband's consent, agreed to part with it.
44 If ever we are able we will buy another," said
" And at any rate we can do without it," said his
30 JActfs WARD; OM,
11 Rachel will miss it."
"She said the other day that it was not com-
fortable, and ought never to have been bought ; that
it was a shameful waste of money."
"In that case she won't be disturbed by our selling
" No, I should think not ; but it's hard to tell how
Rachel will take anything."
This remark was amply verified.
The sofa was removed while the spinster was out,
and without any hint to her of what was going to
happen. When she returned, she looked around for
it with surprise.
"Where's the sofy?" she asked.
"We've sold it to Mrs. Stoddard," said Mrs
"Sold it !" echoed Rachel, dolefully.
" Yes ; we felt that we didn't need it, and we did
need money. She offered me fifteen dollars for it,
and I accepted."
Rachel sat down in a rocking-chair, and began
straightway to show signs of great depression of
THE BOY GUARDIAN. 31
" Life's full of disappointments ! " she groaned.
"Our paths is continually beset by 'em. There's
that sofa. It's so pleasant to have one in the house
when a body's sick. But there, it's gone, and if
I happen to get down, as most likely I shall, for I've
got a bad feeling in my stummick this very minute, I
shall have to go upstairs, and most likely catch my
death of cold, and that will be the end of me."
" Not so bad as that, I hope," said Mrs. Harding,
cheerfully. " You know when you was sick last, you
didn't want to use the sofa ; you said it didn't lay
comfortable. Besides, I hope before you are sick
we may be able to buy it back again."
Aunt Rachel shook her head despondingly.
" There aint any use in hoping that," she said,
" Timothy's got so much behindhand that he won't be
able to get up again ; I know he won't ! "
" But, if he only manages to find steady work
soon, he will."
"No, he won't," said Rachel, positively. "I'm
sure he won't. There won't be any work before
spring, and most likely not then."
" You are too desponding, Aunt Rachel."
32 jActfs WARD; OB,
" Enough to make me so. If you had only taken
advice, we shouldn't have come to this."
I don't know what advice you refer to," Rachel,
said Mrs. Harding, patiently.
"No, I don't expect you do. My words don't
make no impression. You didn't pay no attention to
what I said, that's the reason."
" But if you'll repeat the advice, Rachel, perhaps we
can still profit by it," answered Mrs. Harding, with
imperturbable good humor.
"I told you you ought to be layin' up something
agin a rainy day. But that's always the way.
Folks think when times is good it's always agoin' to
be so, but I know better."
" I don't see how we could have been much more
economical," said Mrs. Harding, mildly.
" There's a hundred ways. Poor folks like us
ought not to expect to have meat so often. It's
frightful to think what the butcher's bill must have
been for the last two months."
Inconsistent Rachel! Only the day before she
nad made herself very uncomfortable, because there