Horatio Alger.

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

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age, who was attracted by our hero's frank countenance. They met
on deck, and took together the "constitutional" which travelers on
shipboard find essential for their health.

"You seem to be alone?" said the clergyman.

"Yes, sir."

"Pardon me, but it is uncommon to meet one so young as yourself who
is making so long a journey. I suppose, however, you have friends or
relatives in California."

"No, sir; I know no one, to my knowledge, in the Golden State."

"Then, perhaps, you go out in search of employment?"

"No, sir; I go out on business."

"You are a young business man," said the clergyman, smiling.

"Perhaps I should rather say, on a mission. I am sent out, by a New York
merchant, in search of his nephew, who is somewhere in San Francisco."

Hector explained himself further. The minister, Mr. Richards, listened
with attention.

"Certainly," he said, "a great responsibility rests upon you. Mr. Newman
must have great confidence in you."

"I hope he will not find it misplaced," answered Hector, modestly.

"It is certainly a compliment to you that a shrewd business man should
consider you worthy of such confidence. The presumption is that he has
good reason for his confidence. I think, my young friend, that you will
enjoy your visit to our State."

"Then you reside there, sir?"

"Oh, yes. I went out twenty years since; in fact, just after I graduated
from the theological school. I spent a year at the mines; but, at the
end of that time, finding an opening in my profession, I accepted the
charge of a church in Sacramento."

"In Sacramento?" exclaimed Hector, eagerly.

"Yes. Have you any associations with that city?"

"It is my birthplace, sir."

"Then you are not a stranger to California?"

"Yes, sir; I came away so early that I have no recollection of the

"What is your name?" asked the clergyman.

"Hector Roscoe."

"Roscoe? The name sounds familiar to me," said the minister,

"How long since you went to Sacramento, Mr. Richards?"

"I went there in 1855."

"And I was born there in 1856. My father and mother lived there for some
time afterwards."

"It is probable that I met them, for Sacramento was a small place then.
Shall you go there?"

"Yes, sir. I have a special reason for going - a reason most important to

As Mr. Richards naturally looked inquisitive, Hector confided in him

"You see, sir," he concluded, "that it is most important to me to
ascertain whether I am really the son of the man whom I have always
regarded as my father. If so, I am heir to a large fortune. If not, my
uncle is the heir, and I certainly should not wish to disturb him in the
enjoyment of what the law awards him."

"That is quite proper," said Mr. Richards. "In your investigation, it
is quite possible that I may be able to help you materially, through my
long residence and extensive acquaintance in Sacramento. When you come
there, lose no time in calling upon me. Whatever help I can render you
shall cheerfully be given."

"Thank you, sir."

"Shall you be much disappointed if you find that you are only the
adopted, instead of the real, son of Mr. Roscoe?"

"Yes, sir; but it won't be chiefly on account of the property. I shall
feel alone in the world, without relations or family connections, with
no one to sympathize with me in my successes, or feel for me in my

"I understand you, and I can enter into your feelings."

Arrived in San Francisco, Hector took lodgings at a comfortable hotel on
Kearney Street. He didn't go to the Palace Hotel, or Baldwin's, though
Mr. Newman had supplied him with ample funds, and instructed him to
spend whatever he thought might be necessary.

"I mean to show myself worthy of his confidence," said Hector to

He arrived in the evening, and was glad to remain quietly at the hotel
the first evening, and sleep off the effects of his voyage. After
the contracted stateroom, in which he had passed over twenty days,
he enjoyed the comfort and luxury of a bed on shore and a good-sized
bedroom. But, in the morning, he took a long walk, which was full of
interest. Less than five minutes' walk from his hotel was the noted
Chinese quarter. Curiously enough, it is located in the central part
of the business portion of San Francisco. Set a stranger down in this
portion of the city, and the traveler finds it easy to imagine himself
in some Chinese city. All around him, thronging the sidewalks, he will
see almond-eyed men, wearing long queues, and clad in the comfortable,
but certainly not elegant, flowing garments which we meet only
occasionally in our Eastern cities, on the person of some laundryman.
Then the houses, too, with the curious names on the signs, speak of a
far-off land. On every side, also, is heard the uncouth jargon of the
Chinese tongue.

There is a part of San Francisco that is known as the Barbary Coast. It
is that part which strangers will do well to avoid, for it is the haunt
of the worst portion of the population. Here floats many a hopeless
wreck, in the shape of a young man, who has yielded to the seductions of
drink and the gaming table - who has lost all hope and ambition, and is
fast nearing destruction.

If Hector allowed himself to explore this quarter, it was not because
he found anything to attract him, for his tastes were healthy, but he
thought, from the description of Gregory Newman, that he would stand a
better chance of meeting him here than in a more respectable quarter.

Hector halted in front of a building, which he judged to be a gambling
house. He did not care to enter, but he watched, with curiosity, those
who entered and those who came out.

As he was standing there, a man of forty touched him on the shoulder.

Hector turned, and was by no means attracted by the man's countenance.
He was evidently a confirmed inebriate, though not at that time under
the influence of liquor. There was an expression of cunning, which
repelled Hector, and he drew back.

"I say, boy," said the stranger, "do you want to go in?"

"No, sir."

"If you do, I know the ropes, and I'll introduce you and take care of

"Thank you," said Hector, "but I don't care to go in."

"Are you afraid?" asked the man, with a slight sneer.

"Yes. Haven't I a reason?"

"Come, sonny, don't be foolish. Have you any money?"

"A little."

"Give it to me and I'll play for you. I'll double it in ten minutes, and
I'll only ask you five dollars for my services."

"Suppose you lose?"

"I won't lose," said the man, confidently. "Come," he said, in a
wheedling tone, "let me make some money for you."

"Thank you, but I would rather not. I don't want to make money in any
such way."

"You're a fool!" said the man, roughly, and with an air of disgust he
left the spot, much to Hector's relief.

Still Hector lingered, expecting he hardly knew what, but it chanced
that fortune favored him. He was just about to turn away, when a youth,
two or three years older than himself in appearance, came out of the
gambling house. He was pale, and looked as if he had kept late hours. He
had the appearance, also, of one who indulges in drink.

When Hector's glance fell upon the face of the youth, he started in
great excitement.

"Surely," he thought, "that must be Gregory Newman!"


As the best way of getting into communication with the youth whom he
suspected to be the object of his search, Hector asked him the name of
the street.

On receiving an answer, he said, in an explanatory way:

"I am a stranger here. I only arrived on the last steamer."

The other looked interested.

"Where do you come from?"

"From New York."

"I used to live there," said Gregory - for it was he - with a sigh.

"Have you bettered yourself by coming out here?" asked Hector.

Gregory shook his head.

"No," he said; "I begin to think I was a fool to come at all."

"Perhaps you had poor prospects in New York?" said Hector.

"No; my uncle is a rich merchant there. I have some property, also, and
he is my guardian."

"Did he favor your coming?"

"No; he was very much opposed to it."

"Perhaps I ought not to take such a liberty, but I begin to agree with
you about your being a fool to leave such prospects behind you."

"Oh, I am not offended. It is true enough."

"I suppose you haven't prospered, then," said Hector.

"Prospered? Look at me! Do you see how shabby I am?"

Gregory certainly did look shabby. His clothes were soiled and frayed,
and he had the appearance of a young tramp.

"That isn't the worst of it," he added, bitterly. "I have spent my last
cent, and am penniless."

"That is bad, certainly. Did you lose any of it in there?" said Hector,
indicating the gaming house.

"I have lost full half of it there," answered Gregory. "This morning I
found myself reduced to four bits - "

"To what?" inquired Hector, puzzled.

"Oh, I forgot you had just arrived. Four bits is fifty cents. Well, I
was reduced to that, and, instead of saving it for my dinner, I went in
there and risked it. If I had been lucky, I might have raised it to ten
dollars, as a man next to me did; but I'm out of luck, and I don't know
what to do."

"Why don't you go back to your uncle in New York?"

"What! and walk all the way without food?" said Gregory, bitterly.

"Of course you couldn't go without money. Suppose you had the money,
would you go?"

"I should be afraid to try it," said Gregory, smiling.

"Why? Don't you think he would receive you back?"

"He might but for one thing," answered Gregory.

"What is that?"

"I may as well tell you, though I am ashamed to," said Gregory,
reluctantly. "I left New York without his knowledge, and, as I knew he
wouldn't advance me money out of my own property, I took five hundred
dollars from his desk."

"That was bad," said Hector, quietly, but he didn't look shocked or
terror-stricken, for this would probably have prevented any further

"It wasn't exactly stealing," said Gregory, apologetically, "for I knew
he could keep back the money from my property. Still, he could represent
it as such and have me arrested."

"I don't think he would do that."

"I don't want to run the risk. You see now why I don't dare to go back
to New York. But what on earth I am to do here I don't know."

"Couldn't you get employment?" asked Hector, for he wished Gregory to
understand his position fully.

"What! in this shabby suit? Respectable business men would take me for a

Hector knew already that a "hoodlum" in San Francisco parlance is a term
applied to street loafers from fifteen to twenty-five years of age, who
are disinclined to work and have a premature experience of vice.

"Suppose you were assured that your uncle would receive you back and
give you another chance?"

Gregory shook his head.

"I don't believe he would, and I am afraid I don't deserve it. No,
I must try to get to the mines in some way. How are you fixed?" said
Gregory, turning suddenly to Hector. "Could you spare a five-dollar gold
piece for a chap that's been unfortunate?"

"Perhaps I might; but I am afraid you would go back into the gambling
house and lose it, as you did your other money."

"No, I won't; I promise you that. Four bits was nothing. Five dollars
would give me a chance of going somewhere where I could earn a living."

Gregory seemed to speak sincerely, and Hector thought it would do him no
harm to reveal himself and his errand.

"Your name is Gregory Newman, isn't it?" he inquired.

Gregory stared at him in uncontrollable amazement.

"How do you know that?" he inquired.

"And your uncle's name is Titus Newman?"

"Yes, but - "

"He lives on Madison Avenue, does he not?"

"Yes, yes; but who are you that seem to know so much about me?"

"My name is Hector Roscoe."

"Did I know you in New York?"

"No; I never met you, to my knowledge."

"Then how do you recognize me and know my name?"

In answer, Hector took from his pocket a photograph of Gregory and
displayed it.

"How did you come by that?" asked Gregory, hurriedly. "Are you a

Gregory looked so startled that Hector had hard work not to laugh. It
seemed ludicrous to him that he should be supposed to be a detective on
Gregory's track, as the boy evidently suspected.

"No," he answered, "I am not a detective, but a friend. I have come out
to San Francisco especially to find you."

"You won't inform against me?" asked Gregory, nervously.

"Not at all. I come as a friend, with a message from your uncle - -"

"What is it?" asked Gregory, eagerly.

"He wants you to come back to New York, and he will give you another

"Is this true?"

"Yes; will you come?"

"I shall be glad to leave San Francisco," said Gregory, fervently. "I
have had no luck since I arrived here."

"Do you think you deserved any?" said Hector, significantly.

"No, perhaps not," Gregory admitted.

"When will you be ready to return?"

"You forget that I have no money."

"I have, and will pay your passage."

Gregory grasped the hands of our hero gratefully.

"You are a trump!" said he.

Then he looked at his wretched and dilapidated suit.

"I don't like to go home like this," he said. "I should be mortified if
I met my uncle or any of my old acquaintances."

"Oh, that can be remedied," said Hector. "If you can lead the way to a
good clothing house, where the prices are moderate, I will soon improve
your appearance."

"That I will!" answered Gregory, gladly.

Within five minutes' walk was a good clothing house, on Kearney Street.
The two entered, and a suit was soon found to fit Gregory. Then they
obtained a supply of underclothing, and Gregory breathed a sigh of
satisfaction. His self-respect returned, and he felt once more like his
old self.

"Now," said Hector, "I shall take you to my hotel, and enter your name
as a guest. You and I can room together."

"Do you know," said Gregory, "I almost fear this is a dream, and that
I shall wake up again a tramp, as you found me half an hour ago? I was
almost in despair when you met me."

Though Gregory seemed quite in earnest in his desire to turn over a new
leaf, Hector thought it prudent to keep the funds necessary for their
journey in his own possession. He gave a few dollars to Gregory as
spending money, but disregarded any hints looking to a further advance.


Now that Hector had succeeded in the main object of his journey, he had
time to think of his own affairs. It was most important for him to visit
Sacramento and make inquiries into the matter that so nearly concerned

"I must find out," he said to himself, "whether I am entitled to the
name I bear, or whether I only received it by adoption."

The second day after his discovery of Gregory Newman, he said to him:

"Gregory, business of importance calls me to Sacramento. Do you wish to
go with me?"

"Does the business in any way relate to me?" asked Gregory.

"Not at all."

"Then I prefer to remain in San Francisco."

"Can I trust you not to fall back into your old ways?" asked Hector.

"Yes; I have had enough of them," answered Gregory, and there was a
sincerity in his tone which convinced Hector that he might safely leave

"I shall probably stay overnight," he said. "If I stay any longer, I
will telegraph to you."

Arrived in Sacramento, Hector sought out the residence of the Rev. Mr.
Richards, whose acquaintance he had made on board the steamer.

His clerical friend received him with evident pleasure.

"How have you fared, my young friend?" he asked.

"Very well, sir. I have succeeded in my mission."

"Then you have found the youth you were in search of?"

"Yes, sir; moreover, I have induced him to return home with me, and turn
over a new leaf."

"That is indeed good news. And now, I think I have also good news for

"Please let me know it, sir," said Hector, eagerly.

"I have found the lady with whom your father and mother boarded while
they were in Sacramento."

"What does she say?"

"She says," answered Mr. Richards, promptly, "that you are Mr. Roscoe's
own son, and were born in her house."

"Thank Heaven!" ejaculated Hector.

"Nor is this all. I have found the minister who baptized you. He is
still living, at a very advanced age - the Rev. Mr. Barnard. I called
upon him, and recalled his attention to the period when your father
lived in the city. I found that he remembered both your parents very
well. Not only that, but he has a very full diary covering that time, in
which he showed me this record:

"'Baptized, June 17th, Hector, the son of Thomas and Martha Roscoe; a
bright, healthy child, in whom the parents much delight."

"Then it seems to me," said Hector, "that my case is a very strong one."

"Unusually so. In fact, it could not be stronger. I marvel how Allan
Roscoe, your uncle, could have ventured upon a fraud which could be so
easily proved to be such."

"He depended upon Sacramento being so far away," said Hector. "He
thought I would accept my father's letter without question."

"That letter was undoubtedly forged," said the minister.

"It must have been, but it was very cleverly forged. The handwriting
was a very close copy of my father's." It was a great pleasure to Hector
that he could say "my father" without a moment's doubt that he was
entitled to say so.

"He thought, also, that you would not have the means to come here to
investigate for yourself," said Mr. Richards.

"Yes, and he would have been right but for the commission Mr. Newman
gave me. What course would you advise me to take," asked Hector, a
little later, "to substantiate my claim?"

"Get Mrs. Blodgett's and Rev. Mr. Barnard's sworn affidavits, and place
them in the hands of a reliable lawyer, requesting him to communicate
with your uncle."

This advice seemed to Hector to be wise, and he followed it.
Fortunately, he had no difficulty in inducing both parties to accede to
his request. The next day he returned to San Francisco.


Armed with the affidavits which were to restore to him the position in
life of which his uncle had wickedly deprived him, Hector returned to
San Francisco. He found Gregory unaffectedly glad to see him.

"Glad to see you back, Hector," he said; "I missed you."

Hector was glad to find that Gregory had not taken advantage of his
absence to indulge in any of his old excesses. He began to hope that he
had already turned over the new leaf which was so desirable.

"I know what you are thinking of," said Gregory, after Hector had
returned his salutation. "You are wondering whether I 'cut up' any while
you were gone."

"You don't look as if you had," said Hector, smiling.

"No; I have had enough of sowing wild oats. It doesn't pay. Shall I tell
you what I did last evening?"

"If you like."

"I attended a lecture illustrated with the stereopticon. I was in bed at

"Gregory," said Hector, taking his hand, "you don't know how glad I am
to hear this. I am sure your uncle will be delighted when you return to
him so changed."

"I've made a great fool of myself," said Gregory, candidly. "Hereafter I
am going to make you my model."

Hector blushed deeply, for he was a modest boy.

"You compliment me too much, Gregory," he said. "Still, if you are in
earnest, I will try to set you a good example."

"You won't have any trouble in doing that. You are one of the fellows
that find it easy to be good."

"I am not sure of that, Gregory. Still, I mean to do my best."

In the evening the two boys attended a theatrical performance. It was
not till after eleven o'clock that they emerged from the theatre, and
slowly, not by the most direct way, sauntered home.

There was no thought of danger in the mind of either, yet, as a fact,
Hector had never in his life been exposed to peril so serious as that
evening. Lurking behind in the shadow a shabby-looking man followed
the two boys, keeping his eyes steadily on Hector. At a place specially
favorable, our hero was startled by hearing a bullet whiz by his ear. He
turned instantly, and so did Gregory. They saw a man running, and
they pursued him. They might not have caught up with him, but that he
stumbled and fell. Instantly they were upon him.

"Well," he said, sullenly, "you've caught me after all."

"Were you the man who fired at me?" asked Hector, "or was it my friend
here you sought to kill?"

"I was firing at you," answered their captive, coolly. "Now, what are
you going to do with me?"

"Was this forced upon you by want? Did you wish to rob me?"

"No; I had another motive."

"What was it?"

"If I tell you, will you let me go free?"

Hector hesitated.

The man proceeded, speaking with emphasis.

"If I tell you who put me up to this, and furnish you proofs so that you
can bring it to him, will you let me go?"

"You will not renew the attempt?" asked Hector.

"No," answered the man; "it isn't likely; I shall have no further

"Yes, I agree."

"Read that letter, then."

"There isn't light enough. Will you accompany me to the hotel, where I
can read it?"

"I will."

The three walked together to the hotel, where Hector and Gregory were
staying. There Hector read the letter. He was astonished and horrified
when he discovered that it was from his uncle to this man, with whom he
seemed to have an acquaintance, describing Hector, and promising him a
thousand dollars if he would put him out of the way.

"This is very important," said Hector, gravely. "Are you ready to
accompany me to New York and swear to this?"

"Yes, if you will pay my expenses."

By the next steamer Hector, Gregory and the stranger, who called himself
Reuben Pearce, sailed for New York.


Allan Roscoe sat at the breakfast table with Guy opposite him. Though
Mr. Roscoe was not altogether free from anxiety since he had learned of
Hector's expedition to California, he had taught himself to believe that
there was little chance of the boy's ferreting out the imposition he had
practiced upon him. He had been a poor and struggling man most of his
life, having, when quite a young man, squandered his inheritance, and
his present taste of affluence was most agreeable. He felt that he could
not part with Castle Roscoe.

"But I am safe enough," he said to himself; "even if Hector discovered
anything, something might happen to him, so that he might be unable to

"Father," said Guy, who had just dispatched an egg, "I want ten dollars
this morning."

"Ten dollars!" said his father, frowning. "How is this? Did I not give
you your week's allowance two days since?"

"Well, I've spent it," answered Guy, "and I need some more."

"You must think I am made of money," said his father, displeased.

"It's pretty much so," said Guy, nonchalantly. "Your income must be ten
thousand a year."

"I have a great many expenses. How have you spent your allowance?"

"Oh, I can't tell exactly. It's gone, at any rate. You mustn't become
mean, father."

"Mean! Don't I give you a handsome allowance? Look here, Guy, I can't
allow such extravagance on your part. This once I'll give you five
dollars, but hereafter, you must keep within your allowance."

"Can't you make it ten?"

"No, I can't," said his father, shortly.

Guy rose from the table, and left the room, whistling.

"The old man's getting mean," he said. "If he doesn't allow me more, I
shall have to get in debt."

As Guy left the room, the mail was brought in. On one of the envelopes,
Mr. Roscoe saw the name of his lawyer. He did not think much of it,
supposing it related to some minor matter of business. The letter ran


"DEAR SIR: Be kind enough to come up to the city at once. Business of
great importance demands your attention.

"Yours respectfully, TIMOTHY TAPE."

"Mr. Tape is unusually mysterious," said Allan Roscoe to himself,
shrugging his shoulders. "I will go up to-day. I have nothing to keep me
at home."

Mr. Roscoe ordered the carriage, and drove to the depot. Guy, noticing
his departure, asked permission to accompany him.

"Not to-day, Guy," he answered. "I am merely going up to see my lawyer."

Two hours later Mr. Roscoe entered the office of his lawyer.

"Well, Tape, what's up?" he asked, in an easy tone. "Your letter was

"I didn't like to write explicitly," said Mr. Tape, gravely.

"The matter, you say, is of great importance?"

"It is, indeed! It is no less than a claim for the whole of your late

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