Horatio Alger.

Hector's Inheritance, Or, the Boys of Smith Institute online

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"It was, indeed," said Jim. "I am cast out of my uncle's house, and now
I have no home, and hardly any money."

"Hector is in the city. Have you seen him?" asked Allan Roscoe.

"Yes; I met him a few minutes since."

"Did you speak to him?"

"Yes; I reproached him for getting me into trouble, but he only laughed
in my face. He told me he hated you both," added Jim, ingenuously.

"Just like Hector!" said Guy. "What have I always told you, papa?"

"I am sorry you have suffered such injustice at the hands of anyone in
any way connected with my family," said Mr. Roscoe, who, like Guy, was
not indisposed to believe anything to the discredit of Hector. "I do
not feel responsible for his unworthy acts, but I am willing to show my
sympathy by a small gift."

He produced a five-dollar note and put it into Jim's ready hand.

"Thank you, sir," he said. "You are a gentleman."

So the interview closed, and Jim left the spot, chuckling at the manner
in which he had wheedled so respectable a sum out of Allan Roscoe.

Meanwhile Hector, after looking about him, turned, and, getting into
a Broadway stage, rode uptown as far as Twenty-third Street, where
the stage turned down toward Sixth Avenue. He concluded to walk the
remainder of the way.

As he was walking up Madison Avenue, his attention was drawn to a little
girl in charge of a nursemaid. The latter met an acquaintance and forgot
her charge. The little girl, left to herself, attempted to cross the
street just as a private carriage was driven rapidly up the avenue. The
driver was looking away, and it seemed as if, through the double neglect
of the driver and the nurse, the poor child would be crushed beneath the
hoofs of the horses and the wheels of the carriage.


Hector's heart stood still as he realized the peril of the child. He
dashed forward on the impulse of the moment, and barely succeeded in
catching up the little girl and drawing her back out of harm's way.
The driver, who had done his best to rein up his horses, but without
success, ejaculated with fervent gratitude, for he, too, had a child of
his own about the age of the little girl, "God bless you, boy."

The little girl seemed less concerned than anyone of the spectators. She
put her hand confidently in Hector's, and said: "Take me to Mary."

"And who is Mary?" asked Hector, kindly.

He did not require an answer, for the nurse, who, rather late in the
day, had awakened to the fact that her charge was in danger, came
running forward, crying: "Oh! Miss Gracie, what made you run away?"

"The little girl would have been killed but for this boy's timely help,"
said a middle-aged spectator, gravely.

"I'm sure I don't know what possessed her to run away," said Mary,

"She wouldn't if she had been properly looked after," said the
gentleman, sharply, for he had children of his own.

Hector was about to release the child, now that he had saved her, but
she was not disposed to let him go.

"You go with me, too!" she said.

She was a pretty child, with a sweet face, rimmed round by golden curls,
her round, red cheeks glowing with exercise.

"What is her name?" asked Hector, of the nurse.

"Grace Newman," answered the nurse, who felt the necessity of saying
something in her own defense. "She's a perfect little runaway. She
worries my life out running round after her."

"Grace Newman!" said the middle-aged gentleman already referred to.
"Why, she must be the child of my friend, Titus Newman, of Pearl

"Yes, sir," said the nurse.

"My old friend little knows what a narrow escape his daughter has had."

"I hope you won't tell him, sir," said Mary, nervously.

"Why not?"

"Because he would blame me."

"And so he ought!" said the gentleman, nodding vigorously. "It's no
merit of yours that she wasn't crushed beneath the wheels of that
carriage. If you had been attending to your duty, she wouldn't have been
in danger."

"I don't see as it's any business of yours," said Mary, pertly. "You
ain't her father, or her uncle."

"I am a father, and have common humanity," said the gentleman, "and I
consider you unfit for your place."

"Come along, Grace!" said Mary, angry at being blamed. "You've behaved
very badly, and I'm going to take you home."

"Won't you come, too?" asked the little girl, turning to Hector.

"No, there's no call for him to come," said the nurse, pulling the child

"Good-by, Gracie," said Hector, kindly.

"Good-by!" responded the child.

"These nursemaids neglect their charges criminally," said the gentleman,
directing his remarks to Hector. "Mr. Newman owes his child's safety,
perhaps her life, to your prompt courage."

"She was in great danger," said Hector. "I was afraid at first I could
not save her."

"A second later and it would have been too late. What is your name, my
brave young friend?"

"Hector Roscoe, sir."

"It is a good name. Do you live in the city?"

"At present I do, sir. I was brought up in the country."

"Going to school, I take it."

"I am looking for a place, sir."

"I wish I had one to give you. I retired from business two years since,
and have no employment for anyone."

"Thank you, sir; I should have liked to serve you."

"But I'll tell you what, my young friend, I have a considerable
acquaintance among business men. If you will give me your address, I may
have something to communicate to you ere long."

"Thank you, sir."

Hector drew a card from his pocket, and added to it the number of Mr.
Ross' house.

"I am much obliged to you for your kind offer," he said.

"You don't look as if you stood in need of employment," said the
gentleman, noticing the fine material of which Hector's suit was made.

"Appearances are sometimes deceitful," said Hector, half smiling.

"You must have been brought up in affluence," said Mr. Davidson, for
this was his name.

"Yes, sir, I was. Till recently I supposed myself rich."

"You shall tell me the story some time; now I must leave you."

"Well," thought Hector, as he made his way homeward, "I have had
adventures enough for one morning."

When Hector reached the house in Forty-second Street, he found Walter
just rising from his lessons.

"Well, Hector, what have you been doing?" asked Walter.

"Wandering about the city."

"Did you see anybody you knew while doing so?"

"Oh, yes! I was particularly favored. I saw Allan Roscoe and Guy - "

"You don't say so! Were they glad to see you?"

"Not particularly. When Guy learned that I was staying here, he proposed
to call and make your acquaintance."

"I hope you didn't encourage him," said Walter, with a grimace.

"No; I told him that we were generally out in the afternoon."

"That is right."

"I suppose you have been hard at work, Walter?"

"Ask Mr. Crabb."

"Walter has done very well," said the usher. "If he will continue to
study as well, I shall have no fault to find."

"If I do, will you qualify me to be a professor in twelve months' time?"

"I hope not, for in that case I should lose my scholar, and have to bow
to his superior knowledge."

"Then you don't know everything, Mr. Crabb?"

"Far from it! I hope your father didn't engage me in any such illusion."

"Because," said Walter, "I had one teacher who pretended to know all
there was worth knowing. I remember how annoyed he was once when I
caught him in a mistake in geography."

"I shall not be annoyed at all when you find me out in a mistake, for I
don't pretend to be very learned."

"Then I think we'll get along," said Walter, favorably impressed by the
usher's modesty.

"I suppose if I didn't know anything we should get along even better,"
said Mr. Crabb, amused.

"Well, perhaps that might be carrying things too far!" Walter admitted.

In the afternoon Hector and Walter spent two hours at the gymnasium in
Twenty-eighth Street, and walked leisurely home after a healthful amount
of exercise.

For some reason, which he could not himself explain, Hector said nothing
to Walter about his rescue of the little girl on Madison Avenue, though
he heard of it at the gymnasium.

One of the boys, Henry Carroll, said to Walter: "There was a little girl
came near being run over on Madison Avenue this noon!"

"Did you see it?"

"No, but I heard of it."

"Who was the little girl?"

"Grace Newman."

"I know who she is. How did it happen?"

The boy gave a pretty correct account.

"Some boy saved her," he concluded, "by running forward and hauling her
out of the road just in time. He ran the risk of being run over himself.
Mr. Newman thinks everything of little Grace. I'd like to be in that
boy's shoes."

Neither of the boys noticed that Hector's face was flushed, as he
listened to the account of his own exploit.

The next morning, among the letters laid upon the breakfast table was
one for Hector Roscoe.

"A letter for you, Hector," said Mr. Ross, examining the envelope in
some surprise. "Are you acquainted with Titus Newman, the Pearl Street

"No, sir," answered Hector, in secret excitement.

"He seems to have written to you," said Mr. Ross.

Hector took the letter and tore open the envelope.


The letter alluded to in the last chapter ran thus. It was written from
Mr. Newman's house in Madison Avenue, though inclosed in a business

"MASTER HECTOR ROSCOE: I learn that I am indebted to you for the rescue
of my little daughter from imminent peril during my absence from home
yesterday. A friend who witnessed her providential escape has given me
such an account of your bravery in risking your own life to save that of
an unknown child, that I cannot rest till I have had an opportunity
of thanking you in person. You will do me a favor, if not otherwise
engaged, if you will call at my house this evening, about eight o'clock.
Yours gratefully,

"Titus NEWMAN."

It is needless to say that Hector read this letter with feelings of
gratification. It is true, as we are often told, that "virtue is its own
reward," but it is, nevertheless, pleasant to feel that our efforts to
do well and serve others are appreciated.

"No bad news, I hope, Hector?" said Walter.

"No," answered Hector. "You may read the letter, if you like, Mr. Ross."

Mr. Ross did so, and aloud, much to the surprise of everyone at table.

"You did not tell me of this," said Walter, in astonishment.

"No," answered Hector, smiling.

"But why not?"

"Because Hector is modest," Mr. Ross answered for him. "Now, if you had
done such a thing, Walter, we should have been sure to hear of it."

"I don't know," returned Walter, comically. "You don't know how many
lives I have saved within the last few years."

"Nor anyone else, I fancy," replied his father. "By the way, Hector,
there is a paragraph about it in the Herald of this morning. I read
it, little suspecting that you were the boy whose name the reporter was
unable to learn."

Hector read the paragraph in question with excusable pride. It was, in
the main, correct.

"How old was the little girl?" asked Walter.

"Four years old, I should think."

"That isn't quite so romantic as if she had been three times as old."

"I couldn't have rescued her quite as easily, in that case."

Of course, Hector was called upon for an account of the affair, which
he gave plainly, without adding any of those embellishments which some
boys, possibly some of my young readers, might have been tempted to put

"You are fortunate to have obliged a man like Titus Newman, Hector,"
said Mr. Ross. "He is a man of great wealth and influence."

"Do you know him, papa?" asked Walter.

"No - that is, not at all well. I have been introduced to him."

Punctually at eight o'clock Hector ascended the steps of a handsome
residence on Madison Avenue. The door was opened by a colored servant,
of imposing manners.

"Is Mr. Newman at home?" asked Hector, politely.

"Yes, sar."

"Be kind enough to hand him this card?"

"Yes, sar."

Presently the servant reappeared, saying:

"Mr. Newman will see you, sar, in the library. I will induct you

"Thank you," answered Hector, secretly amused at the airs put on by his
sable conductor.

Seated at a table, in a handsomely furnished library, sat a stout
gentleman of kindly aspect. He rose quickly from his armchair and
advanced to meet our hero.

"I am glad to see you, my young friend," he said. "Sit there," pointing
to a smaller armchair opposite. "So you are the boy who rescued my dear
little girl?"

His voice softened as he uttered these last few words, and it was easy
to see how strong was the paternal love that swelled his heart.

"I was fortunate in having the opportunity, Mr. Newman."

"You have rendered me a service I can never repay. When I think that but
for you the dear child - " his voice faltered.

"Don't think of it, Mr. Newman," said Hector, earnestly. "I don't like
to think of it myself."

"And you exposed yourself to great danger, my boy!"

"I suppose I did, sir; but that did not occur to me at the time. It was
all over in an instant."

"I see you are modest, and do not care to take too great credit to
yourself, but I shall not rest till I have done something to express my
sense of your noble courage. Now, I am a man of business, and it is my
custom to come to the point directly. Is there any way in which I can
serve you."

"Yes, sir."

"I am glad to hear it. Name it."

"I am looking for a situation in some mercantile establishment, Mr.

"Pardon me, but, judging from your appearance, I should not suppose that
it was a matter of importance to you."

"Yes, sir; I am poor."

"You don't look so."

"You judge from my dress, no doubt" - Hector was attired in a suit of
fine texture - "I suppose I may say," he added, with a smile, "that I
have seen better days."

"Surely, you are young to have met with reverses, if that is what you
mean to imply," the merchant remarked, observing our hero with some

"Yes, sir; if you have time, I will explain to you how it happened."

As the story has already been told, I will not repeat Hector's words.

Mr. Newman listened with unaffected interest.

"It is certainly a curious story," he said. "Did you, then, quietly
surrender your claims to the estate simply upon your uncle's unsupported

"I beg pardon, sir. He showed me my father's - that is, Mr.
Roscoe's - letter."

"Call him your father, for I believe he was."

"Do you, sir?" asked Hector, eagerly.

"I do. Your uncle's story looks like an invention. Let me think, was
your father's name Edward Roscoe?"

"Yes, sir."

"And in what year were you born?"

"In the year 1856."

"At Sacramento?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then I feel quite sure that I made your father's acquaintance in the
succeeding year, and your own as well, though you were an infant - that
is, you were less than a year old."

"Did my father say anything of having adopted me?"

"No; on the contrary, he repeatedly referred to you as his child, and
your mother also displayed toward you an affection which would have been
at least unusual if you had not been her own child."

"Then you think, sir - " Hector began.

"I think that your uncle's story is a mere fabrication. He has contrived
a snare in which you have allowed yourself to be enmeshed."

"I am only a boy, sir. I supposed there was nothing for me to do but to
yield possession of the estate when my uncle showed me the letter."

"It was natural enough; and your uncle doubtless reckoned upon your
inexperience and ignorance of the law."

"What would you advise me to do, sir?"

"Let me think."

The merchant leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and gave himself
up to reflection. In the midst of his reverie the pompous servant
entered, bringing a letter upon a silver salver.

"A letter, sar," he said.

"That will do. You can go, Augustus."

"Yes, sar."

Mr. Newman glanced at the postmark, tore open the letter, read it with a
frown, and then, as if he had suddenly formed a resolution, he said:

"This letter has helped me to a decision."

Hector regarded him with surprise. What could the letter have to do with

"Have you any objection to going out to California by the next steamer?"
asked Mr. New-man.

"No, sir," answered Hector, with animation "Am I to go alone?"

"Yes, alone."


It is needless to say that Hector was very much surprised, not to say
startled, at this sudden proposal. What could Mr. Newman possibly want
him to go to California for? If on business, how did it happen that he
trusted a mere boy with so responsible a mission?

The explanation came soon.

"No doubt, you are surprised," said the merchant, "at the proposal I
have made you. I am not prepared myself to say that I am acting with
good judgment. In making it, I have obeyed a sudden impulse, which
is not always prudent. Yet, in more than one instance, I have found
advantage in obeying such an impulse. But to my explanation. By the way,
let me first ask you two or three questions. Have you any taste for any
kind of liquor?"

"No, sir," answered Hector, promptly.

"Even if you had, do you think you would have self-control enough to
avoid entering saloons and gratifying your tastes?"

"Yes, sir."

"That is well. Do you play pool?"

"No, sir," answered Hector, wondering whither all these questions

"I ask because playing pool in public rooms paves the way for
intemperance, as bars are generally connected with such establishments."

"I don't even know how to play pool, sir," said Hector.

"Do you ever bet or gamble?" continued the merchant.

"No, sir."

"You will understand why I ask all these questions when I tell you that
I have a nephew now nineteen years of age, who does all these things. He
is not only my nephew, but my ward. I have a moderate sum of money in my
charge which belongs to him - enough, if he were a young man of correct
habits, to buy him an interest in a respectable business. That use I
had proposed to make of it when he reached twenty-one, or rather, to
recommend to him, but for his yielding to temptation in more than one
form, and, finally, running away from my protection."

"Where is he now, sir?"

"In California. Three months since he disappeared, and it was some
weeks before I learned where he had gone. As I do not intend to conceal
anything from you, I must tell you that he carried with him five hundred
dollars purloined from my desk. This grieved me most of all. I wrote out
to a mercantile friend in San Francisco, who knows the boy by sight, to
hunt him up, and see if he could do anything for him. He writes
me - this is the letter I hold in my hand - that he has seen Gregory, and
expostulated with him, but apparently without effect. The boy has pretty
much run through his money, and will soon be in need. I do not intend,
however, to send him money, for he would misuse it. I don't think
it will do him any harm to suffer a little privation, as a fitting
punishment for his wayward courses. I would not wish him to suffer too
much, and I am anxious lest he should go further astray. I now come to
the explanation of my proposal to you. I wish you to go to California,
to seek out Gregory, obtain his confidence, and then persuade him to
give up his bad course, and come home with you, prepared to lead a
worthier life. Are you willing to undertake it?"

"Yes, sir," answered Hector. "I will undertake it, since you are willing
to place such a responsibility upon me. I will do my best to accomplish
what you desire, but I may fail."

"In that case I will not blame you," answered the merchant.

"What sort of a boy is Gregory? Shall I find it difficult to gain his

"No; he is a youth of very amiable disposition - indeed, he was generally
popular among his companions and associates, but he is morally weak, and
finds it difficult to cope with temptation. I believe that a boy like
you will stand a better chance of influencing him than a man of mature

"I will do my best, sir."

"One thing more. You may assure Gregory that I forgive him the theft of
my money, though it gave me great pain to find him capable of such an
act, and that I am prepared to receive him back into my favor if he will
show himself worthy of it. I will give you a letter to that effect. Now,
when will you be ready to start?"

"By the next steamer."

"That is well."


The California steamer was to start in two days. This gave Hector but
little time for preparation, but then he had but scanty preparation to
make. Mr. Ross and Walter were naturally surprised at the confidence
placed in Hector by a stranger, but were inclined to think that our hero
would prove himself worthy of it.

"Don't be gone long, Hector," said Walter. "I shall miss you. I depended
upon having your company for a good while yet."

"Come back to my house, Hector," said Mr. Ross, cordially, "when you
return, whether you are successful or not. Consider it a home where you
are always welcome."

"Thank you, sir," said Hector, gratefully. "I wish you were my uncle
instead of Mr. Allan Roscoe."

"By the way, Hector, take time, while you are in California, to go to
Sacramento to see if you can learn anything of your early history. It is
most important to you, and I'm sure Mr. Newman will not object."

"He has already suggested it to me," said Hector. "Moreover, he has
given me the name of the minister who baptized me, and, should he
be dead or removed, he has given me the name of another person - a
lady - with whom my father boarded during his residence in Sacramento."

"It is to be hoped that one or the other of these persons may still be
living. It will afford me sincere pleasure if, by reliable testimony,
you can defeat the wicked conspiracy into which Mr. Roscoe has entered,
with the object of defrauding you of your inheritance."

Hector's ticket was purchased by Mr. Newman, and he was provided with
a considerable sum of money as well as an order upon a bank in San
Francisco for as much more as he might need.

"You are trusting me to an unusual extent, Mr. Newman," said Hector.

"That is true, but I have no hesitation in doing so. I am a close
observer, and, though I have seen but little of you, I have seen enough
to inspire me with confidence."

"I hope I shall deserve it, sir."

"That depends upon yourself, so far as integrity and fidelity go.
Whether you succeed or not in your undertaking depends partly upon

My young readers may wonder how Hector would be expected to recognize a
young man whom he had never seen. He was provided with a photograph of
Gregory, which had been taken but six months before, and which, as Mr.
Newman assured him, bore a strong resemblance to his nephew.

"He may have changed his name," he said, "but he cannot change his face.
With this picture you will be able to identify him."

The great steamer started on her long voyage. Walter and Mr. Crabb
stood on the pier and watched it till Hector's face was no longer
distinguishable for the distance, and then went home, each feeling that
he had sustained a loss.

Among those who watched the departure of the steamer was a person who
escaped Hector's notice, for he arrived just too late to bid good-by to
an acquaintance who was a passenger on board.

This person was no other than Allan Roscoe.

When he recognized Hector's face among the passengers he started in
surprise and alarm.

"Hector Roscoe going to California!" he inwardly ejaculated. "What can
be his object, and where did he raise money to go?"

Conscience whispered: "He has gone to ferret out the fraud which you
have practiced upon him, and his mission is fraught with peril to you."

Allan Roscoe returned to his elegant home in a state of nervous
agitation, which effectually prevented him from enjoying the luxuries
he was now able to command. A sword seemed suspended over him, but
he resolved not to give up the large stake for which he played so
recklessly without a further effort.

By the next mail he wrote a confidential letter to an old acquaintance in
San Francisco.


Hector was seasick for the first twenty-four hours, but at the end of
that time he had become accustomed to the rise and fall of the billows,
and was prepared to enjoy himself as well as he could in the confined
quarters of an ocean steamer.

Of course, he made acquaintances. Among them was a clergyman, of middle

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