Horatio Alger.

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

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"Yes; I think he rather likes it."

"Don't the boys resist?"

"It won't do any good. You see, Jim's bigger than any of us."

Hector took a good look at this redoubtable Jim Smith.

He was rather loosely made, painfully homely, and about five feet nine
inches in height. Nothing more need be said, as, in appearance, he
closely resembled his uncle.

Jim Smith soon gave Hector an opportunity of verifying the description
given of him by Wilkins.

The boy at the bat had struck a ball to the extreme boundary of the
field. The fielder at that point didn't go so fast as Jim, who was
pitcher, thought satisfactory, and he called out in a rough, brutal

"If you don't go quicker, Archer, I'll kick you all round the field."

Hector looked at Wilkins inquiringly.

"Does he mean that?" he asked.

"Yes, he does."

"Does he ever make such a brute of himself?"


"And the boys allow it?"

"They can't help it."

"So, it seems, you have a tyrant of the school?"

"That's just it."

"Isn't there any boy among you to teach the fellow better manners? You
must be cowards to submit."

"Oh, you'll find out soon that you must submit, too," said Wilkins.

Hector smiled.

"You don't know me yet," he said.

"What could you do against Jim? He's three or four inches taller than
you. How old are you?"

"I shall be sixteen next month."

"And he is nineteen."

"That may be; but he'd better not try to order me round."

"You'll sing a different tune in a day or two," said Wilkins.

By this time Jim Smith had observed the new arrival.

"What's that you've got with you, Wilkins?" he demanded, pausing in his

"The new boy."

"Who's he?"

"His name is Roscoe."

"Ho! Hasn't he got any other name?" asked Jim, meaningly.

Wilkins had forgotten the new arrival's first name, and said so.

"What's your name, Roscoe?" asked Jim, in the tone of a superior.

Hector resented this tone, and, though he had no objection, under
ordinary circumstances, to answering the question, he did not choose to
gratify his present questioner.

"I don't happen to have a card with me," he answered, coldly.

"Oh, that's your answer, is it?" retorted Jim, scenting insubordination
with undisguised pleasure, for he always liked the task of subduing a
new boy.


"I guess you don't know who I am," said Jim, blustering.

"Oh, yes, I do."

"Well, who am I, then?"

"The bully of the school, I should suppose, from your style of

"Do you hear that, boys?" demanded Jim, in a theatrical tone, turning to
the other boys.

There was a little murmur in response, but whether of approval or
reprobation, it was not easy to judge.

"That boy calls me a bully! He actually has the audacity to insult me!
What do you say to that?"

The boys looked uneasy. Possibly, in their secret hearts, they admired
the audacity that Jim complained of; but, seeing the difference between
the two boys in size and apparent strength, it did not seem to them
prudent to espouse the side of Hector.

"Don't you think I ought to teach him a lesson?"

"Yes!" cried several of the smaller boys, who stood in awe of the bully.

Hector smiled slightly, but did not seem in the least intimidated.

"Jim," said Wilkins, "the boy's guardian is inside with your uncle."

This was meant as a warning, and received as such. A boy's guardian is
presumed to be his friend, and it would not be exactly prudent, while
the guardian was closeted with the principal, to make an assault upon
the pupil.

"Very well," said Jim; "we'll postpone Roscoe's case. This afternoon
will do as well. Come, boys, let us go on with the game."

"What made you speak to Jim in that way?" expostulated Wilkins. "I'm
afraid you've got into hot water."

"Didn't I tell the truth about him?"

"Yes," answered Wilkins, cautiously; "but you've made an enemy of him."

"I was sure to do that, sooner or later," said Hector, unconcernedly.
"It might as well be now as any time."

"Do you know what he'll do this afternoon?"

"What will he do?"

"He'll give you a thrashing."

"Without asking my permission?" asked Hector, smiling.

"You're a queer boy! Of course, he won't trouble himself about that. You
don't seem to mind it," he continued, eying Hector curiously.

"Oh, no."

"Perhaps you think Jim can't hurt. I know better than that."

"Did he ever thrash you, then?"

"Half a dozen times."

"Why didn't you tell his uncle?"

"It would be no use. Jim would tell his story, and old Sock would
believe him. But here's Mr. Crabb, the usher, the man I was to introduce
you to."

Hector looked up, and saw advancing a young man, dressed in rusty black,
with a meek and long-suffering expression, as one who was used to being
browbeaten. He was very shortsighted, and wore eyeglasses.


"Mr. Crabb," said Wilkins, "this is the new scholar, Roscoe. Mr. Smith
asked me to bring him to you."

"Ah, indeed!" said Crabb, adjusting his glasses, which seemed to sit
uneasily on his nose. "I hope you are well, Roscoe?"

"Thank you, sir; my health is good."

"The schoolbell will ring directly. Perhaps you had better come into the
schoolroom and select a desk."

"Very well, sir."

"Are you a classical scholar, Roscoe?"

"Yes, sir."

"And how far may you have gone now?" queried Crabb.

"I was reading the fifth book of Virgil when I left off study."

"Really, you are quite a scholar. I suppose you don't know any Greek?"

"I was in the second book of the Anabasis."

"You will go into the first class, then. I hope you will become one of
the ornaments of the institute."

"Thank you. Is the first class under Mr. Smith?"

"No; I teach the first class," said Crabb, with a modest cough.

"I thought the principal usually took the first class himself?"

"Mr. Smith comes into the room occasionally and supervises, but he has
too much business on hand to teach regularly himself."

"Is Mr. Smith a good scholar?" asked Hector.

"Ahem!" answered Mr. Crabb, evidently embarrassed; "I presume so. You
should not ask Ahem! irrelevant questions."

In fact, Mr. Crabb had serious doubts as to the fact assumed. He knew
that whenever a pupil went to the principal to ask a question in
Latin or Greek, he was always referred to Crabb himself, or some other
teacher. This, to be sure, proved nothing, but in an unguarded moment,
Mr. Smith had ventured to answer a question himself, and his answer was
ludicrously incorrect.

The schoolroom was a moderate-sized, dreary-looking room, with another
smaller room opening out of it, which was used as a separate recitation

"Here is a vacant desk," said Mr. Crabb, pointing out one centrally

"I think that will do. Who sits at the next desk?"

"Mr. Smith's nephew."

"Oh, that big bully I saw on the playground?"

"Hush!" said Crabb, apprehensively. "Mr. Smith would not like to have
you speak so of his nephew."

"So, Mr. Crabb is afraid of the cad," soliloquized Hector. "I suppose I
may think what I please about him," he added, smiling pleasantly.

"Ye-es, of course; but, Master Roscoe, let me advise you to be prudent."

"Is he in your class?"


"Is he much of a scholar?"

"I don't think he cares much for Latin and Greek," answered Mr. Crabb.
"But I must ring the bell. I see that it wants but five minutes of

"About my desk?"

"Here is another vacant desk, but it is not as well located."

"Never mind. I will take it. I shall probably have a better neighbor."

The bell was rung. Another teacher appeared, an elderly man, who
looked as if all his vitality had been expended on his thirty years
of teaching. He, too, was shabbily dressed - his coat being shiny and
napless, and his vest lacking two out of the five original buttons.

"I guess Smith doesn't pay very high salaries," thought Hector. "Poor
fellows. His teachers look decidedly seedy."

The boys began to pour in, not only those on the playground, but as many
more who lived in the village, and were merely day scholars. Jim
Smith stalked in with an independent manner and dropped into his seat
carelessly. He looked around him patronizingly. He felt that he was
master of the situation. Both ushers and all the pupils stood in fear of
him, as he well knew. Only to his uncle did he look up as his superior,
and he took care to be on good terms with him, as it was essential to
the maintenance of his personal authority.

Last of all, Mr. Smith, the learned principal, walked into the
schoolroom with the air of a commanding general, followed by Allan
Roscoe, who he had invited to see the school in operation.

Socrates Smith stood upright behind his desk, and waved his hand

"My young friends," he said; "this is a marked day. We have with us a
new boy, who is henceforth to be one of us, to be a member of our happy
family, to share in the estimable advantages which you all enjoy. Need I
say that I refer to Master Roscoe, the ward of our distinguished friend,
Mr. Allan Roscoe, who sits beside me, and with interest, I am sure,
surveys our institute?"

As he spoke he turned towards Mr. Roscoe, who nodded an acknowledgment.

"I may say to Mr. Roscoe that I am proud of my pupils, and the progress
they have made under my charge. (The principal quietly ignored the two
ushers who did all the teaching.) When these boys have reached a high
position in the world, it will be my proudest boast that they were
prepared for the duties of life at Smith Institute. Compared with this
proud satisfaction, the few paltry dollars I exact as my honorarium are
nothing - absolutely nothing."

Socrates looked virtuous and disinterested as he gave utterance to this

"And now, boys, you will commence your daily exercises, under the
direction of my learned associates, Mr. Crabb and Mr. Jones."

Mr. Crabb looked feebly complacent at this compliment, though he knew it
was only because a visitor was present. In private, Socrates was rather
apt to speak slightingly of his attainments.

"While I am absent with my distinguished friend, Mr. Roscoe, I expect
you to pursue your studies diligently, and preserve the most perfect

With these words, the stately figure of Socrates passed through the
door, followed by Mr. Roscoe.

"A pleasant sight, Mr. Roscoe," said the principal; "this company of
ambitious, aspiring students, all pressing forward eagerly in pursuit of

"Quite true, sir," answered Allan Roscoe.

"I wish you could stay with us for a whole day, to inspect at your
leisure the workings of our educational system."

"Thank you, Mr. Smith," answered Mr. Roscoe, with an inward shudder;
"but I have important engagements that call me away immediately."

"Then we must reluctantly take leave of you. I hope you will feel easy
about your nephew - "

"My ward," corrected Allan Roscoe.

"I beg your pardon - I should have remembered - your ward."

"I leave him, with confidence, in your hands, my dear sir."

So Allan Roscoe took his leave.

Let us look in upon the aspiring and ambitious scholars, after Mr. Smith
left them in charge of the ushers.

Jim Smith signalized his devotion to study by producing an apple core,
and throwing it with such skillful aim that it struck Mr. Crabb in the
back of the head.

The usher turned quickly, his face flushed with wild indignation.

"Who threw that missile?" he asked, in a vexed tone.

Of course no one answered.

"I hope no personal disrespect was intended," continued the usher.

Again no answer.

"Does anyone know who threw it?" asked Mr. Crabb.

"I think it was the new scholar," said Jim Smith, with a malicious look
at Hector.

"Master Roscoe," said Mr. Crabb, with a pained look, "I hope you have
not started so discreditably in your school life."

"No, sir," answered Hector; "I hope I am not so ungentlemanly. I don't
like to be an informer, but I saw Smith himself throw it at you. As he
has chosen to lay it to me, I have no hesitation in exposing him."

Jim Smith's face flushed with anger.

"I'll get even with you, you young muff!" he said.

"Whenever you please!" said Hector, disdainfully.

"Really, young gentlemen, these proceedings are very irregular!" said
Mr. Crabb, feebly.

With Jim Smith he did not remonstrate at all, though he had no doubt
that Hector's charge was rightly made.


Presently the class in Virgil was called up. To this class Hector had
been assigned, though it had only advanced about half through the third
book of the AEneid, while Hector was in the fifth.

"As there is no other class in Virgil, Roscoe, you had better join the
one we have. It will do you no harm to review."

"Very well, sir," said Hector.

The class consisted of five boys, including Hector. Besides Jim Smith,
Wilkins, Bates and Johnson belonged to it. As twenty-five lines had been
assigned for a lesson, Hector had no difficulty in preparing himself,
and that in a brief time. The other boys were understood to have studied
the lesson out of school.

Bates read first, and did very fairly. Next came Jim Smith, who did
not seem quite so much at home in Latin poetry as on the playground.
He pronounced the Latin words in flagrant violation of all the rules of
quantity, and when he came to give the English meaning, his translation
was a ludicrous farrago of nonsense. Yet, poor Mr. Crabb did not dare,
apparently, to characterize it as it deserved.

"I don't think you have quite caught the author's meaning, Mr. Smith,"
he said. By the way, Jim was the only pupil to whose name he prefixed
the title "Mr."

"I couldn't make anything else out of it," muttered Jim.

"Perhaps some other member of the class may have been more successful!
Johnson, how do you read it?"

"I don't understand it very well, sir."

"Wilkins, were you more successful?"

"No, sir."

"Roscoe, can you translate the passage?"

"I think so, sir."

"Proceed, then."

Hector at once gave a clear and luminous rendering of the passage, and
his version was not only correct, but was expressed in decent English.
This is a point in which young classical scholars are apt to fail.

Mr. Crabb was not in the habit of hearing such good translations, and he
was surprised and gratified.

"Very well! Very well, indeed, Roscoe," he said, approvingly. "Mr.
Smith, you may go on."

"He'd better go ahead and finish it," said Smith, sulkily. "He probably
got it out of a pony."

My young readers who are in college or classical schools, will
understand that a "pony" is an English translation of a classical

"He is mistaken!" said Hector, quietly. "I have never seen a translation
of Virgil."

Mr. Smith shrugged his shoulders, and drew down the corners of his
mouth, intending thereby to express his incredulity.

"I hope no boy will use a translation," said the usher; "it will make
his work easier for the time being, but in the end it will embarrass
him. Roscoe, as you have commenced, you may continue. Translate the
remainder of the passage."

Hector did so, exhibiting equal readiness.

The other boys took their turns, and then words were given out to parse.
Here Jim Smith showed himself quite at sea; though the usher, as it was
evident, selected the easiest words for him, he made a mistake in every
one. Apparently he was by no means certain which of the words were
nouns, and which verbs, and as to the relations which they sustained to
other words in the sentence he appeared to have very little conception.

At length the recitation was over. It had demonstrated one thing, that
in Latin scholarship Hector was far more accurate and proficient than
any of his classmates, while Jim Smith stood far below all the rest.

"What in the world can the teacher be thinking of, to keep such an
ignoramus in the class?" thought Hector. "He doesn't know enough to join
a class in the Latin Reader."

The fact was, that Jim Smith was unwilling to give up his place as a
member of the highest class in Latin, because he knew it would detract
from his rank in the school. Mr. Crabb, to whom every recitation was a
torture, had one day ventured to suggest that it would be better to
drop into the Caesar class; but he never ventured to make the suggestion
again, so unfavorably was it received by his backward pupil. He might,
in the case of a different pupil, have referred the matter to the
principal, but Socrates Smith was sure to decide according to the wishes
of his nephew, and did not himself possess knowledge enough of the Latin
tongue to detect his gross mistakes.

After a time came recess. Hector wished to arrange the books in his
desk, and did not go out.

Mr. Crabb came up to his desk and said: "Roscoe, I must compliment you
on your scholarship. You enter at the head. You are in advance of all
the other members of the class."

"Thank you, sir," said Hector, gratified.

"There is one member of the class who is not competent to remain in it."

"Yes, sir; I observed that."

"But he is unwilling to join a lower class. It is a trial to me to hear
his daily failures, but, perhaps, he would do no better anywhere else.
He would be as incompetent to interpret Caesar as Virgil, I am afraid."

"So I should suppose, sir."

"By the way, Roscoe," said the usher, hurriedly; "let me caution you
against irritating Smith. He is the principal's nephew, and so we give
him more scope."

"He seems to me a bully," said Hector.

"So he is."

"I can't understand why the boys should give in to him as they do."

"He is taller and stronger than the other boys. Besides, he is backed up
by the principal. I hope you won't get into difficulty with him."

"Thank you, Mr. Crabb. Your caution is kindly meant, but I am not afraid
of this Jim - Smith. I am quite able to defend myself if attacked."

"I hope so," said the usher; but he scanned Hector's physical
proportions doubtfully, and it was very clear that he did not think him
a match for the young tyrant of the school.

Meanwhile, Jim Smith and his schoolfellows were amusing themselves in
the playground.

"Where's that new fellow?" asked Jim, looking back to see whether he had
come out.

"He didn't come out," said Bates.

Jim nodded his head vigorously:

"Just as I expected," he said. "He knows where he is well off."

"Do you think he was afraid to come?" asked Bates.

"To be sure he was. He knew what to expect."

"Are you going to thrash him?" asked Johnson.

"I should say I might."

"He's a very good Latin scholar," remarked Wilkins.

"He thinks he is!" sneered Jim.

"So Mr. Crabb appears to think."

"That for old Crabb!" said Jim, contemptuously, snapping his fingers.
"He don't know much himself. I've caught him in plenty of mistakes."

This was certainly very amusing, considering Smith's absolute ignorance
of even the Latin rudiments, but the boys around him did not venture to
contradict him.

"But it don't make any difference whether he knows Latin or not,"
proceeded Jim. "He has been impudent to me, and he shall suffer for it.
I was hoping to get a chance at him this recess, but it'll keep."

"You might spoil his appetite for dinner," said Bates, who was rather a
toady to Jim.

"That's just exactly what I expect to do; at any rate, for supper. I've
got to have a reckoning with that young muff."

The recess lasted fifteen minutes. At the end of that time the
schoolbell rang, and the boys trooped back into the schoolroom.

Hector sat at his desk looking tranquil and at ease. He alone seemed
unaware of the fate that was destined for him.


At twelve o'clock the morning session closed. Then came an intermission
of an hour, during which the day scholars either ate lunch brought with
them, or went to their homes in the village to partake of a warm repast.

At ten minutes past twelve, a red-armed servant girl made her appearance
at the back door looking out on the playground, and rang a huge dinner
bell. The boys dropped their games, and made what haste they could to
the dining room.

"Now for a feast!" said Wilkins to Hector, significantly.

"Does Mr. Smith furnish good board?" asked Hector, for he felt the
hunger of a healthy boy who had taken an early breakfast.

"Good grub?" said Wilkins, making a face. "Wait till you see. Old Sock
isn't going to ruin himself providing his pupils with the delicacies of
the season."

"I'm sorry for that. I am confoundedly hungry."

"Hungry!" exclaimed Wilkins. "I've been I hungry ever since I came

"Is it as bad as that?" asked Hector, rather alarmed.

"I should say so. I haven't had a square meal - what I call a square
meal - for four weeks, and that's just the time since I left home."

They had reached the door of the dining-room by this time.

In the center stood a long table, but there didn't seem to be much on it
except empty plates. At a side table stood Mrs. Smith, ladling out soup
from a large tureen.

"That's the first course," whispered Wilkins. "I hope you'll like it."

The boys filed in and took seats. The servant girl already referred to
began to bring plates of soup and set before the boys. It was a thin,
unwholesome-looking mixture, with one or two small pieces of meat, about
the size of a chestnut, in each plate, and fragments of potatoes and
carrots. A small, triangular wedge of dry bread was furnished with each
portion of soup.

"We all begin to eat together. Don't be in a hurry," said Wilkins, in a
low tone.

When all the boys were served, Socrates Smith, who sat in an armchair at
the head of the table, said:

"Boys, we are now about to partake of the bounties of Providence, let me
hope, with grateful hearts."

He touched a hand bell, and the boys took up their soup spoons.

Hector put a spoonful gingerly into his mouth, and then, stopping short,
looked at Wilkins. His face was evidently struggling not to express

"Is it always as bad?" he asked, in a whisper.

"Yes," answered Wilkins, shrugging his shoulders.

"But you eat it!"

Wilkins had already swallowed his third spoonful.

"I don't want to starve," answered Wilkins, significantly. "You'll get
used to it in time."

Hector tried to dispose of a second spoonful, but he had to give it up.
At home he was accustomed to a luxurious table, and this meal seemed to
be a mere mockery. Yet he felt hungry. So he took up the piece of bread
at the side of his plate, and, though it was dry, he succeeded in eating

By this time his left-hand neighbor, a boy named Colburn, had finished
his soup. He looked longingly at Hector's almost untasted plate.

"Ain't you going to eat your soup?" he asked, in a hoarse whisper


"Give it to me?"


In a trice, Colburn had appropriated Hector's plate and put his own
empty one in its place. Just after this transfer had been made, Mr.
Smith looked over to where Hector was sitting. He observed the empty
plate, and said to himself: "That new boy has been gorging himself. He
must have a terrible appetite. Well, that's one good thing, he ain't
dainty. Some boys turn up their noses at plain, wholesome diet. I didn't
know but he might."

Presently the hand bell rang again, and the soup plates were removed. In
their places were set dinner plates, containing a small section each of
corned beef, with a consumptive-looking potato, very probably "soggy."
At any rate, this was the case with Hector's. He succeeded in eating the
meat, but not the potato.

"Give me your potato?" asked his left-hand neighbor.


It was quickly appropriated. Hector looked with some curiosity at the
boy who did so much justice to boarding-school fare. He was a thin, pale
boy, who looked as if he had been growing rapidly, as, indeed, he had.
This, perhaps, it was that stimulated his appetite. Afterward Hector
asked him if he really liked his meals.

"No," he said; "they're nasty."

He was an English boy, which accounted for his use of the last word.

"You eat them as if you liked them," remarked Hector.

"I'm so hungry," apologized Colburn, mournfully. "I'm always hungry. I
eat to fill up, not 'cause I like it. I could eat anything."

"I believe he could," said Wilkins, who overheard this conversation.
"Could you eat fried cat, now?" he asked.

"Yes," answered Colburn, honestly. "There would be something hearty and
filling about fried cat. I ain't half full now."

It was just after dinner.

Hector might have said the same thing at the end of his first dinner.
There was, indeed, another course. It consisted of some pale, flabby

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