Horatio Alger.

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

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apple pie, about half baked. The slices given were about half the size
of those that are ordinarily supplied at private tables and restaurants.
Hector managed to eat the apple, but the crust he was obliged to leave.
He noticed, however, that his fellow pupils were not so fastidious.

When the last fragment of pie had disappeared, Mr. Smith again rang the
hand bell.

"Boys," he said, "we have now satisfied our appetites."

"I haven't," thought Hector.

"We have once more experienced the bountiful goodness of Providence in
supplying our material wants. As we sit down to our plain but wholesome
diet, I wonder how many of us are sensible of our good fortune. I wonder
how many of us think of the thousands of poor children, scattered about
the world, who know not where to get their daily bread. You have been
refreshed, and have reinforced your strength; you will soon be ready to
resume your studies, and thus, also, take in a supply of mental food,
for, as you are all aware, or ought to be aware, the mind needs to be
fed as well as the body. There will first be a short season for games
and out-of-door amusements. Mr. Crabb, will you accompany the boys to
the playground and superintend their sports?"

Mr. Crabb also had participated in the rich feast, and rose with the
same unsatisfied but resigned look which characterized the rest. He led
the way to the playground, and the boys trooped after him.

"Really, Wilkins," said Hector, in a low tone, "this is getting serious.
Isn't there any place outside where one can get something to eat?"

"There's a baker's half a mile away, but you can't go till after
afternoon session."

"Show me the way there, then, and I'll buy something for both of us."

"All right," said Wilkins, brightening up.

"By the way, I didn't see Jim Smith at the table."

"No; he eats with his uncle and aunt afterward. You noticed that old
Sock didn't eat just now."

"Yes, I wondered at it."

"He has something a good deal better afterward. He wouldn't like our
dinner any better than we did; but he is better off, for he needn't eat

"So Jim fares better than the rest of us, does he?"

"Yes, he's one of the family, you know."

Just then pleasant fumes were wafted to the boys' nostrils, and they saw
through the open window, with feelings that cannot well be described, a
pair of roast chickens carried from the kitchen to the dining-room.

"See what old Sock and Ma'am Sock are going to have for dinner?" said
Wilkins, enviously.

"I don't like to look at it. It is too tantalizing," said Hector.


It so happened that Hector was well provided with money. During the
life of Mr. Roscoe, whom he regarded as his father, he had a liberal
allowance - liberal beyond his needs - and out of it had put by somewhat
over a hundred dollars. The greater part of this was deposited for
safe-keeping in a savings bank, but he had twenty-five dollars in his

At the time he was saving his money, he regarded himself as the heir and
future possessor of the estate, and had no expectation of ever needing
it. It had been in his mind that it would give him an opportunity of
helping, out of his private funds, any deserving poor person who might
apply to him. When the unexpected revelation had been made to him
that he had no claim to the estate, he was glad that he was not quite
penniless. He did not care to apply for money to Allan Roscoe. It would
have been a confession of dependence, and very humiliating to him.

No sooner was school out, than he asked Wilkins to accompany him to
the baker's, that he might make up for the deficiencies of Mr. Smith's
meager table.

"I suppose, if I guide you, you'll stand treat, Roscoe?" said Wilkins.

"Of course."

"Then let us go," said his schoolfellow, with alacrity. "I'd like to get
the taste of that beastly dinner out of my mouth."

They found the baker's, but close beside it was a restaurant, where more
substantial fare could be obtained.

"Wilkins," said Hector, "I think I would rather have a plate of meat."

"All right! I'm with you."

So the two boys went into the restaurant, and ordered plates of roast
beef, which they ate with evident enjoyment.

"I guess," said the waiter, grinning, "you two chaps come from the

"Yes," answered Hector. "What makes you think so?"

"The way you eat. They do say old Smith half starves the boys."

"You're not far from right," said Wilkins; "but it isn't alone the
quantity, but the quality that's amiss."

They ate their dinner, leaving not a crumb, and then rose refreshed.

"I feel splendid," said Wilkins. "I just wish I boarded at the
restaurant instead of the doctor's. Thank you, Roscoe, for inviting me."

"All right, Wilkins! We'll come again some day."

Somehow the extra dinner seemed to warm the heart of Wilkins, and
inspire in him a feeling of friendly interest for Hector.

"I say, Hector, I'll tell you something."

"Go ahead."

"You've got to keep your eyes open."

"I generally do," answered Hector, smiling, "except at night."

"I mean when Jim Smith's round."

"Why particularly when he is around?"

"Because he means to thrash you."

"What for?"

"You are too independent. You don't bow down to him, and look up to

"I don't mean to," said Hector, promptly.

"If you don't you'll see trouble, and that very soon."

"Let it come!" said Hector, rather contemptuously.

"You don't seem afraid!" said Wilkins, regarding him curiously.

"Because I am not afraid. Isn't that a good reason?"

"You don't think you can stand up against Jim, do you?"

"I will see when the time comes."

"I shouldn't be a bit surprised if he were looking out for you at this
very moment, and wondering where you are."

It seemed that Wilkins was right. As they approached the school grounds,
John Bates came running to meet them.

"Where have you been, you two?" he said.

"To the village," answered Wilkins.

"What for?"

"For a walk," answered Wilkins, with a warning glance at Hector. It
would have been awkward if the principal had heard that they had been
compelled to eke out their meager dinner at a restaurant.

"Well, Jim wants you. Leastways, he wants Roscoe."

Bates looked as if he expected Roscoe would immediately hasten to comply
with the wishes of the redoubtable Jim.

"If he wants me, he can come to me," said Hector, independently.

"But I say, that won't do. Jim won't be satisfied."

"Won't he? I don't know that that particularly concerns me."

"Shall I tell him that?"

"If you choose."

Bates looked as if Hector had been guilty of some enormity. What, defy
the wishes, the mandates, of Jim Smith, the king of the school and the
tyrant of all the small boys! He felt that Hector Roscoe was rushing on
his fate.

"I advise you to come," he said, "Jim's mad with you already, and he'll
lick you worse if you send him a message like that."

"He will probably have to take blows, as well as give them," said

"Then I am to tell him what you said?"

"Of course."

With a look that seemed to say, "Your fate be on your own head!" Bates
walked away.

"John Bates is always toadying to Jim," said Wilkins. "So he's prime
favorite when Jim is good-natured - when he's cross, I've seen him kick

"And Bates didn't resent it?"

"He didn't dare to. He'd come round him the next day the same as ever."

"Has the boy no self-respect?" asked Hector, in a tone of disgust.

"He doesn't seem to have."

As soon as school was out, Jim Smith had looked round for the new boy,
who seemed disposed to defy his authority. On account of eating at
different tables, they had not met during the noon intermission. At any
rate, there had not been time to settle the question of subserviency.
Through the afternoon session Jim had been anticipating the signal
punishment which he intended to inflict upon the newcomer.

"I'll show him!" he said to himself. "Tomorrow he'll be singing a
different tune, or I am mistaken."

This was the way Jim had been accustomed to break in refractory new
arrivals. The logic of his fist usually proved a convincing argument,
and thus far his supremacy had never been successfully resisted. He
was confident that he would not be interfered with. Secretly, his Uncle
Socrates sympathized with him, and relished the thought that his
nephew, who so strongly resembled him in mind and person, should be
the undisputed boss - to use a word common in political circles - of the
school. He discreetly ignored the conflicts which he knew took place,
and if any luckless boy, the victim of Jim's brutality, ventured to
appeal to him, the boy soon found that he himself was arraigned, and not
the one who had abused him.

"Where's that new boy?" asked Jim, as he left the schoolroom.

He had not seen our hero's departure - but his ready tool, Bates, had.

"I saw him sneaking off with Wilkins," said Bates.

"Where did they go?"

"To the Village, I guess."

"They seemed to be in a hurry," said Jim, with a sneer.

"They wanted to get out of your way - that is, the new boy did,"
suggested Bates.

Jim nodded.

"Likely he did," he answered. "So he went to the village, did he?"

"Yes; I saw him."

"Well, he's put it off a little. That boy's cranky. I'm goin' to give
him a lesson he won't forget very soon."

"So you will, so you will, Jim," chuckled Bates.

"That's the way I generally take down these boys that put on airs,"
said Jim, complacently. "This Roscoe's the worst case I've had yet. So
Wilkins went off with him, did he?"

"Yes; I saw them go off together."

"I'll have to give Wilkins a little reminder, then. It won't be safe to
take up with them that defy me. I'll just give him a kick to help his

"He won't like that much, oh, my!" chuckled Bates.

"When you see them coming, Bates, go and tell Roscoe I want to see him,"
said Jim, with the air of an autocrat.

"All right, Jim," said Bates, obediently.

So he went on his errand, and we know what success he met with.


Jim Smith stood leaning indolently against a post, when his emissary,
Bates, returned from his errand. He was experiencing "that stern joy"
which bullies feel just before an encounter with a foeman inferior in
strength, whom they expect easily to master. Several of the boys were
near by - sycophantic followers of Jim, who were enjoying in advance the
rumpus they expected. I am afraid schoolboys do not always sympathize
with the weaker side. In the present instance, there was hardly a boy
who had not at some time or other felt the weight of Jim's fist, and, as
there is an old saying that "misery loves company," it was not, perhaps,
a matter of wonder that they looked forward with interest to seeing
another suffer the same ill-treatment which they had on former occasions

Presently Bates came back.

Jim looked over his head for the boy whom he expected to see in his

"Where's the new boy?" he demanded, with a frown.

"He won't come."

"Won't come?" repeated Jim, with an ominous frown. "Did you tell him I
wanted him?"

"Yes, I did."

"And what did he say?"

"That if you wanted to see him, you could come to him."

All the boys regarded each other with looks of surprise. Was it possible
that any boy in Smith Institute could have the boldness to send such a
message to Jim! Most of all, Jim was moved by such a bold defiance of
his authority. For the moment, he could not think of any adequate terms
in which to express his feelings.

"Did the new boy say that?" he asked, hoarsely.

"Yes, he did."

Jim nodded his head vigorously two or three times.

"You fellows," he said, appealing to the boys around him, "did you ever
hear such impudence?"

"No!" "Never!" exclaimed the boys in concert, Bates being the loudest
and most emphatic.

"I have never been so insulted since I was at the institute," said Jim,
again looking about him for a confirmation of his statement.

"It's because he's a new boy. He don't understand," suggested one.

"That's no excuse," said Jim, sternly. "He needn't think I'll let him
off on that account."

"Of course not," answered Bates.

"What would you advise me to do, boys?" asked Jim, with the air of a
monarch asking the opinion of his counselors.

"Thrash him till he can't stand!" said the subservient Bates. He was
always ready to go farther than anyone else in supporting and defending
the authority of the tyrant of the playground.

"Bates, you are right. I shall follow your advice," said Jim. "Where is
the young reprobate?"

"He is over in Carver's field."

"Is anyone with him?"

"Yes, Wilkins."

"Ha! Wilkins and I will have an account to settle. If he is going to
side with this young rascal he must take the consequences. So, he's over
in the field, is he? What's he doing?"

"I think he was going to walk down to the brook."

Carver's field was a tract, several acres in extent, of pasture land,
sloping down to one corner, where a brook trickled along quietly. Here
three large trees were located, under whose spreading branches the boys,
in the intervals of study, used often to stretch themselves for a chat
or engage in some schoolboy games, such as nimble peg or quoits. The
owner of the field was an easy-going man, who did not appear to be
troubled by the visits of the boys, as long as they did not maltreat the
peaceful cows who gathered their subsistence from the scanty grass that
grew there.

"He wants to keep out of your way, I guess," volunteered Bates.

As this suggestion was flattering to the pride of the "boss," it was
graciously received.

"Very likely," he said; "but he'll find that isn't so easy. Boys, follow
me, if you want to see some fun."

Jim started with his loose stride for the field, where he expected to
meet his adversary, or, rather, victim, for so he considered him, and
the smaller boys followed him with alacrity. There was going to be a
scrimmage, and they all wanted to see it.

Jim and his followers issued from the gate, and, crossing the street,
scaled the bars that separated Carver's field from the highway. Already
they could see the two boys - Roscoe and Wilkins-slowly walking, and
nearly arrived at the brook in the lower part of the field.

"He doesn't seem much afraid," remarked Talbot, one of the recent
comers, incautiously.

Upon him immediately Jim frowned ominously.

"So you are taking sides with him, Talbot, are you?" he said,

"No, Jim," answered Talbot, hurriedly, for he now saw that he had been
guilty of an imprudence.

"What made you say he wasn't scared, then?"

"I only said he didn't seem afraid," answered Talbot, apologetically.

"Be careful what you say in future, young fellow!" said Jim, sternly;
"that is, if you are a friend of mine. If you are going over to Roscoe,
you can go, and I shall know how to treat you."

"But I am not going over to him. I don't like him," said the cowardly

"Very well; I accept your apology this time. In future be careful what
you say."

By this time Wilkins and Roscoe had reached the clump of big trees, and
had seated themselves under their ample branches. Then, for the first
time, glancing backward toward the school, they became aware of the
advancing troop of boys. Wilkins saw them first.

"There's Jim coming!" he exclaimed. "Now you are in a pickle. He means

"I suppose," said Hector, coolly, "he has decided to accept my
invitation, and come to see me."

"You'll find he has," said Wilkins, significantly.

"He seems to have considerable company," remarked Hector, scanning the
approaching party with tranquillity.

"They're coming to see the fun!" said Wilkins.

"I suppose you mean the fight between Jim Smith and myself."

"Well, not exactly. They've come to see you thrashed."

Hector smiled.

"Suppose they should see Jim thrashed instead - what then?"

"They might be surprised: but I don't think they will be," answered
Wilkins, dryly. He was, on the whole, well disposed toward Hector, and
he certainly disliked Jim heartily, but he did not allow his judgment to
be swayed by his preferences, and he could foresee but one issue to the
impending conflict. There was one thing that puzzled him exceedingly,
and that was Hector's coolness on the brink of a severe thrashing, such
as Jim was sure to give him for his daring defiance and disregard of his

"You're a queer boy, Hector," he said. "You don't seem in the least

"I am not in the least alarmed," answered Hector. "Why should I be?"

"You don't mind being thrashed, then?"

"I might mind; but I don't mean to be thrashed if I can help it."

"But you can't help it, you know."

"Well, that will soon be decided."

There was no time for any further conversation, for Jim and his
followers were close at hand.

Jim opened the campaign by calling Hector to account.

"Look here, you new boy," he said, "didn't Bates tell you that I wanted
to see you?"

"Yes," answered Hector, looking up, indifferently.

"Well, why didn't you come to me at once, hey?"

"Because I didn't choose to. I sent word if you wished to see me, to
come where I was."

"What do you mean by such impudence, hey?"

"I mean this, Jim Smith, that you have no authority over me and never
will have. I have not been here long, but I have been here long enough
to find out that you are a cowardly bully and ruffian. How all these
boys can give in to you, I can't understand."

Jim Smith almost foamed at the mouth with rage.

"You'll pay for this," he howled, pulling off his coat, in furious


Hector was not slow to accept the challenge conveyed by his antagonist's
action. He, too, sprang to his feet, flung off his coat, and stood
facing the bully.

Hector was three inches shorter, and more than as many years younger,
than Jim. But his figure was well proportioned and strongly put
together, as the boys could see. On the other hand; Jim Smith was
loosely put together, and, though tall, he was not well proportioned.
His arms were long and his movements were clumsy. His frame, however,
was large, and he had considerable strength, but it had never been
disciplined. He had never learned to box, and was ignorant of the first
rudiments of the art of self-defense. But he was larger and stronger
than any of his school-fellows, and he had thus far had no difficulty in
overcoming opposition to his despotic rule.

The boys regarded the two combatants with intense interest. They could
see that Hector was not alarmed, and meant to defend himself. So there
was likely to be a contest, although they could not but anticipate an
easy victory for the hitherto champion of the school.

Hector did not propose to make the attack. He walked forward to a
favorable place and took his stand. The position he assumed would have
assured the casual observer that he knew something of the art in which
his larger antagonist was deficient.

"So you are ready to fight, are you?" said Jim.

"You can see for yourself."

Jim rushed forward, intending to bear down all opposition. He was
whirling his long arms awkwardly, and it was clear to see that he
intended to seize Hector about the body and fling him to the earth. Had
he managed to secure the grip he desired, opposition would have been
vain, and he would have compassed his design. But Hector was far too
wary to allow anything of this kind. He evaded Jim's grasp by jumping
backward, then dashing forward while his opponent was somewhat unsteady
from the failure of his attempt, he dealt him a powerful blow in the

Jim Smith was unprepared for such prompt action. He reeled, and came
near falling. It may safely be said, also, that his astonishment was as
great as his indignation, and that was unbounded.

"So that's your game, is it?" he exclaimed, furiously. "I'll pay you for
this, see if I don't."

Hector did not reply. He did not propose to carry on the battle by
words. Already the matter had come to a sterner arbitrament, and he
stood on the alert, all his senses under absolute control, watching his
big antagonist, and, from the expression of his face, seeking to divine
his next mode of attack. He had this advantage over Jim, that he was
cool and collected, while Jim was angry and rendered imprudent by his
anger. Notwithstanding his first repulse, he did not fully understand
that the new boy was a much more formidable opponent than he
anticipated. Nor did he appreciate the advantage which science gives
over brute force. He, therefore, rushed forward again, with the same
impetuosity as before, and was received in precisely the same way.
This time the blood started from his nose and coursed over his inflamed
countenance, while Hector was still absolutely unhurt.

Meanwhile the boys looked on in decided amazement. It had been as far
as possible from their thoughts that Hector could stand up successfully
against the bully even for an instant. Yet here two attacks had been
made, and the champion was decidedly worsted. They could not believe the
testimony of their eyes.

Carried away by the excitement of the moment, Wilkins, who, as we have
said, was disposed to espouse the side of Hector, broke into a shout of

"Good boy, Roscoe!" he exclaimed. "You're doing well!"

Two or three of the other boys, those who were least under the
domination of Jim, and were only waiting for an opportunity of breaking
away from their allegiance, echoed the words of Wilkins. If there was
anything that could increase the anger and mortification of the tyrant
it was these signs of failing allegiance. What! was he to lose his hold
over these boys, and that because he was unable to cope with a boy much
smaller and younger than himself? Perish the thought! It nerved him to
desperation, and he prepared for a still more impetuous assault.

Somewhere in his Greek reader, Hector had met with a saying attributed
to Pindar, that "boldness is the beginning of victory." He felt that
the time had now come for a decisive stroke. He did not content
himself, therefore, with parrying, or simply repelling the blow of his
antagonist, but he on his part assumed the offensive. He dealt his blows
with bewildering rapidity, pressed upon Jim, skillfully evading the
grasp of his long arms, and in a trice the champion measured his length
upon the greensward.

Of course, he did not remain there. He sprang to his feet, and renewed
the attack. But he had lost his confidence. He was bewildered, and, to
confess the truth, panic-stricken, and the second skirmish was briefer
than the first.

When, for the third time, he fell back, with his young opponent standing
erect and vigorous, the enthusiasm of the boys overcame the limits of
prudence. There was a shout of approval, and the fallen champion, to
add to his discomfiture, was forced to listen to his own hitherto
subservient followers shouting, "Hurrah for the new boy! Hurrah for
Hector Roscoe!"

This was too much for Jim.

He rose from the ground sullenly, looked about him with indignation
which he could not control, and, shaking his fist, not at one boy in
particular, but at the whole company, exclaimed: "You'll be sorry for
this, you fellows! You can leave me, and stand by the new boy if you
want to, but you'll be sorry for it. I'll thrash you one by one, as I
have often done before."

"Try Roscoe first!" said one boy, jeeringly.

"I'll try you first!" said Jim; and too angry to postpone his intention,
he made a rush for the offender.

The latter, who knew he was no match for the angry bully, turned and
fled. Jim prepared to follow him, when he was brought to by Hector
placing himself in his path.

"Let that boy alone!" he said, sternly.

"What business is it of yours?" demanded Jim, doggedly; but he did not
offer to renew the attack, however.

"It will be my business to put an end to your tyranny and bullying,"
said Hector, undauntedly. "If you dare to touch one of these boys, you
will have to meet me as well."

Jim had had enough of encountering Hector. He did not care to make a
humiliating spectacle of himself any more before his old flatterers. But
his resources were not at an end.

"You think yourself mighty smart!" he said, with what was intended to be
withering sarcasm. "You haven't got through with me yet."

He did not, however, offer to pursue the boy who had been the first to
break away from his allegiance. He put on his coat, and turned to walk
toward the school, saying, "You'll hear from me again, and that pretty

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