Horatio Alger.

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

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fixedly at his employer.

"If you please, Mr. Crabb."

"Then, sir, you shall have it. Your proposal that I should apologize to
that overgrown bully for restraining him in his savage treatment of a
fellow-pupil is both ridiculous and insulting."

"You forget yourself, Mr. Crabb," said Socrates, gazing at the hitherto
humble usher in stupefaction.

"As to promising not to do it again, you will understand that I shall
make no such engagement."

"Then, Mr. Crabb," said Socrates, angrily, "I shall adhere to what I
said the other day. At the end of this week you must leave me."

"Of course, sir, that is understood!"

"You haven't another engagement, I take it," said Mr. Smith, very much
puzzled by the usher's extraordinary independence.

"Yes, sir, I have."

"Indeed!" said Socrates, amazed. "Where do you go?" Then was Mr. Crabb's
time for triumph.

"I have received this morning an offer from the city of New York," he

"From New York! Is it in a school?"

"No, sir; I am to be private tutor in a family."

"Indeed! Do you receive as good pay as here?"

"As good!" echoed the usher. "I am offered sixty dollars a month and
board, with the possibility of a larger sum, in the event of extra
service being demanded."

Socrates Smith had never been more surprised.

This Mr. Crabb, whom he had considered to be under his thumb, as being
wholly dependent upon him, was to receive a salary which he considered

"How did you get this office?" he asked.

"Through my friend, Hector Roscoe," answered the usher.

"Probably he is deceiving you. It is ridiculous to offer you such a

"I am quite aware that you would never think of offering it, but, Mr.
Smith, there are other employers more generous."

Mr. Crabb left the office with the satisfied feeling that he had the
best of the encounter.. He would have felt gratified could he have known
the increased respect with which he was regarded by the principal as a
teacher who could command so lucrative an engagement in the great city
of New York.

Before closing this chapter I must take notice of one circumstance which
troubled Mr. Smith, and in the end worked him additional loss.

I have already said that Jim Smith, in appropriating his uncle's wallet,
abstracted therefrom a five-dollar bill before concealing it in Hector's

This loss Mr. Smith speedily discovered, and he questioned Jim about it.

"I suppose Roscoe took it," said Jim, glibly.

"But he says he did not take the wallet," said Socrates, who was assured
in his own mind that his nephew was the one who found it on the bureau.
Without stigmatizing him as a thief, he concluded that Jim meant to get
Hector into trouble.

"Wasn't it found in his pants' pocket?" queried Jim.

"Yes, but why should he take five dollars out of the wallet?"

"I don't know."

"It doesn't look likely that he would!" said Socrates, eying Jim keenly.

"Then it may have been Ben Platt or Wilkins," said Jim, with a bright

"So it might," said the principal, with a feeling of relief.

"They said they were in the room - at any rate, Platt said so - at the
time it was concealed, only he made a mistake and took Roscoe for me."

"There is something in that, James. It may be as you suggest."

"They are both sneaks," said Jim, who designated all his enemies by that
name. "They'd just as lieve do it as not. I never liked them."

"I must look into this matter. It's clear that some one has got this
money, and whoever has it has got possession of it dishonestly."

"To be sure," answered Jim, with unblushing assurance. "If I were you I
would find out who did it, that is, if you don't think Roscoe did it."

"No, I don't think Roscoe did it, now. You may tell Platt and Wilkins
that I wish to see them."

Jim could not have been assigned a more pleasing duty. He hated the two
boys quite as much as he did Hector, and he was glad to feel that they
were likely to get into hot water.

He looked about for some time before he found the two boys. At length he
espied them returning from a walk.

"Here, you two!" he called out, in a voice ef authority. "You're

"Who wants us?" asked Ben Platt.

"My uncle wants you," answered Jim, with malicious satisfaction. "You'd
better go and see him right off, too. You won't find it a trifling
matter, either."

"Probably Jim has been hatchng some mischief," said Wilkins. "He owes us
a grudge. We'll go and see what it is."


When Mr. Smith had made the two boys' understand that he suspected them
of purloining the missing five-dollar bill, they were naturally very

"Mr. Smith," said Ben Platt, in a spirited tone, "no one ever suspected
me of dishonesty before."

"Nor me," said Wilkins.

"That's neither here nor there," said the principal, dogmatically. "It
stands to reason that some one took the money. Money doesn't generally
walk off itself," he added, with a sneer.

"I don't dispute that," said Ben; "but that does not prove that Wilkins
or I had anything to do with it."

"You were in the room with the money for half an hour, according to your
own confession," said Socrates.

"Yes, I was."

"And part of that time Wilkins was also present."

"Yes, sir," assented Wilkins.

"I am no lawyer," said the principal, triumphantly, "but that seems to
me a pretty good case of circumstantial evidence."

"You seem to forget, sir, that there is another person who had an
excellent chance to take the money," said Ben Platt.

"You mean Hector Roscoe? That is true. It lies between you three."

"No, Mr. Smith, I do not mean Hector Roscoe. I have as much confidence
in Roscoe as myself."

"So have I," sneered Socrates.

"And I know he would not take any money that did not belong to him. I
mean a very different person - your nephew, James Smith."

Socrates Smith frowned with anger. "There seems to be a conspiracy
against my unfortunate nephew," he said. "I don't believe a word of your
mean insinuations, and I am not deceived by your attempt to throw your
own criminality upon him. It will not injure him in my eyes. Moreover, I
shall be able to trace back the theft to the wrongdoer. The missing bill
was marked with a cross upon the back, and should either of you attempt
to pass it, your guilt will be made manifest. I advise you to restore it
to me while there is yet time."

"The bill was marked?" asked Wilkins, eagerly.


"Then, sir, you may have a chance to find out who took it."

"The discovery might not please you," said Socrates, with a sneer.

"It would give me the greatest pleasure, Mr. Smith. If I can in any way
help you discover the missing note, I will do so."

"You can go," said Socrates, abruptly.

When the two boys had left the presence of the principal, Ben Platt,
said, "What are you going to do about it, Wilkins?"

"First of all," answered Wilkins, promptly, "I am going to find out if
Jim took that money."

"How can you find out?"

"Did you notice that he had come out with a new ring?"

"No, I didn't observe it."

"He has bought it since that money was lost!" said Wilkins,

"Do you think he purchased it with the missing bill?"

"I wouldn't wonder at all. At any rate, I am going to find out. He must
have bought it from Washburn, the jeweler. Will you go with me, and

"Yes," answered Ben, eagerly. "Let us go alone. If we can only prove the
theft upon Jim, so that old Sock can't help believing that he stole the
money, we shall be cleared; though, as to that, there isn't a scholar in
school who would believe the charge against us."

"Still, we may as well do what we can to bring the guilt home to Jim

Ten minutes later the two boys entered the shop of Mr. Washburn.

"Will you show me some rings, Mr. Washburn?" asked Wilkins.

"Certainly," answered the jeweler, politely.

"What is the price of that?" asked Wilkins, pointing to one exactly like
the one he had seen on Jim's finger.

"Three dollars and a half. It is a very pretty pattern."

"Yes, sir. There's one of our boys who has one just like it."

"You mean James Smith, the principal's nephew."

"Yes, sir."

"He bought it of me yesterday."

The two boys exchanged a quick glance.

They felt that they were on the brink of a discovery.

"Did he give you a five-dollar bill in payment?" asked Ben Platt.

"Yes," answered the jeweler, in surprise.

"Could you identify that bill?"

"What are you driving at, boys?" asked Mr. Washburn, keenly.

"I will explain to you if you will answer my questions first."

"Yes, I could identify the bill."

"Have you it in your possession still?"

"I have."

"How will you know it?"

"It seems to me, my boy, you are in training for a lawyer."

"I have a very urgent reason for asking you this question, Mr.

"Then I will answer you. When the note was given me, I noticed that it
was on the Park Bank of New York."

"Will you be kind enough to see if you can find it?"'


The jeweler opened his money drawer, and after a brief search, produced
the bill in question.

It was a five-dollar bill on the Park Bank of New York, as he had
already told the boys.

"Now, Mr. Washburn," asked Wilkins, trying to repress his excitement,
"will you examine the back of the bill, and see if there is any mark on

The jeweler did as requested, and announced, after slight examination,
that there was a cross on the back of the bill in the upper right hand

"Hurrah!" shouted Ben, impulsively.

To the wondering jeweler he explained his precise object in the inquiry
he had made, and the boys were complimented by Mr. Washburn for their

"If I ever meet with a loss, I shall certainly call on you for
assistance, boys," he said.

"Thank you, Mr. Washburn," answered Wilkins, "but I do not expect to be
here to be called upon."

"You are not going to leave the institute, are you?"

"I shall write to my father in what manner I have been treated, and let
him understand how the principal manages the school, and I feel sure he
will withdraw me."

"Ditto for me!" said Ben Platt. "Old Sock's partiality for his nephew
has been carried too far, and now that the only decent teacher is
going - Mr. Crabb - I don't mean, to stay here if I can help it."

The boys, upon their return to the school, sought out the principal.

"Well, boys," he said, "have you come to confess?"

"No, sir," answered Ben, "but we have come to give you some information
about your money."

"I was sure you knew something about it," said Socrates, with a sneer.
"I am glad you have decided to make a clean breast of it."

"You are mistaken, sir."

"Well, out with your information!" said the principal, roughly.

"A five-dollar bill, marked as you have described, was paid to Mr.
Washburn, the jeweler, only yesterday."

"Ha! Well?"

"The one who offered it purchased a gold ring."

"I don't care what he bought. Who was it that offered the money?"

"Your nephew, James Smith!"

"I don't believe it," said the teacher, very much disconcerted.

"Then, sir, I advise you to question Mr. Washburn."

"How can he identify the bill? Is it the only five-dollar bill he has?"

"The only five-dollar bill on the Park Bank of New York, and he says he
noticed that this was the bank that issued the bill handed him by your

"What of that?"

"The note, which he still has in his possession, is marked just exactly
as you have described."

"It may have been marked since it came into Mr. Washburn's hands," said
Socrates, but he was evidently very much disturbed by the intelligence.
He might not confess it, but he could not help believing that Jim was
the thief, after all.

"You can go," he said, harshly. "I will look into this improbable


Hector lost no time in drawing up a statement of the facts connected
with the loss of the wallet, which he got Wilkins and Ben Platt to sign.
This he put into an envelope directed to Allan Roscoe, accompanied by a
brief note, which I subjoin:

"MR. ROSCOE: I send you a statement, signed by two of my schoolmates,
showing that the charge which Mr. Smith was in such a hurry to bring
against me, in order to screen his nephew, who is the real thief, is
wholly unfounded. I am not particularly surprised that you were ready
to believe it, nor do I care enough for your good opinion to worry. I
consider that it is due to myself, however, to prove to you that I have
done nothing of which I need be ashamed. Finding the scholars here in
terror of a bully, who imposed upon his schoolfellows with impunity
because, being the principal's nephew, he was protected in so doing, I
taught him a lesson which may not do him good, but has certainly been of
benefit to his fellow-pupils. In so doing, I have incurred his enmity,
and that of his uncle, who, for more than one reason, is utterly unfit
to conduct a school of this kind.

"You threaten to remove me from school at the end of this term. I do not
wish to remain, and shall remove myself at the end of this week. I shall
not look to you for support, nor do I expect again to depend upon the
estate to which I once thought myself the heir, unless I should be
able to prove that I am the son of your brother, as I fully believe,
notwithstanding the letter you exhibit."


When Mr. Allan Roscoe received this letter he was very much disturbed.
As he had no affection for Hector, and did not care what became of him,
this may, perhaps, excite surprise. Could it be the last sentence which
excited his alarm?

"Is that letter from Hector?" asked Guy, who had noticed the postmark as
it lay upon his father's table.

"Yes," answered Allan Roscoe.

"Does he try to explain his theft?" asked Guy.

"He says he had nothing to do with it."

"Oh, of course!" sneered Guy. "You don't believe it, do you?"

"He sends a statement of two of the pupils to the effect that the wallet
was taken by another pupil, a nephew of the principal."

"That's too thin!"

"I don't know. It may be true. I don't like the boy, but I hardly think
it probable he would steal."

"You think better of him than I do. I suppose he wants to get into your
good graces again?"

"No; he says he shall leave school at the end of this week, and will not
again look to me for support."

"That's jolly!" exclaimed Guy, much pleased. "You're well rid of him,
papa. Let him go away and make a living as he can. He'll have to
turn newsboy, or something of that sort - perhaps he'll have to be a
bootblack. Wouldn't that be a good come down for a boy like Hector?"

Guy spoke with great glee, but his father did not seem to enjoy his
release as well as Guy. He showed that he understood the boy better when
he said:

"Hector will not have to resort to any such employment. He has a good
education, and he can get some decent position, probably. On the whole,
I am sorry he is going to leave my protection, for friends of the family
may, perhaps, blame me."

"But it isn't your fault, papa. He is taking his own course."

"To be sure. You are right there!"

Mr. Roscoe thought so much on the subject, however, that the next day he
went to Smith Institute to see Hector, without telling Guy where he was

Arrived there, he asked to see Mr. Smith.

The latter did not appear to be in a happy frame of mind.

"How do you do, Mr. Roscoe?" he said.

"Very well," answered Mr. Roscoe, briefly. "Mr. Smith, I wish to see my

"I am sorry you cannot see him, Mr. Roscoe."

"Cannot see him! Why not?"

"Because he has left the institute."

Allan Roscoe frowned.

"Why has he left?" he asked.

"He has left against my will. I think he has been influenced by an usher
in my employ who has behaved very ungratefully. I took him, sir, when he
was in danger of starving, and now he leaves me at a day's notice, after
doing all he can to break up my school."

"I feel no particular interest in your usher," said Allan Roscoe,
coldly. "I wish to obtain information about the boy I placed under your
charge. Do you know where he has gone?"

"No; he did not tell me," answered the principal.

"You wrote me that he had been detected in stealing a wallet!"

"Yes," answered Socrates, embarrassed. "Appearances were very much
against him."

"Do you still think he took it?"

"I may have been mistaken," answered Mr. Smith, nervously, for he began
to see that the course he had been pursuing was a very unwise one.

"Hector has written me, inclosing a statement signed by two of his
schoolfellows, implicating your own nephew, and he charges that you made
the charge against him out of partiality for the same."

"There is considerable prejudice against my nephew," said Socrates.

"And for very good reasons, I should judge," said Allan Roscoe,
severely. "Hector describes him as an outrageous bully and tyrant. I am
surprised, Mr. Smith, that you should have taken his part."

Now, Socrates had already had a stormy interview with his nephew. Though
partial to Jim, and not caring whether or not he bullied the other
boys, as soon as he came to see that Jim's presence was endangering
the school, he reprimanded him severely. He cared more for himself - for
number one - than for anyone else in the universe. He had been
exceedingly disturbed by receiving letters from the fathers of Wilkins
and Ben Platt, and two other fathers, giving notice that they should
remove their sons at the end of the term, and demanding, in the
meantime, that his nephew should be sent away forthwith.

And now Allan Roscoe, whom he had hoped would side with him, had also
turned against him. Then he had lost the services of a competent usher,
whom he got cheaper than he could secure any suitable successor, and,
altogether, things seemed all going against him.

Moreover, Jim, who had been the occasion of all the trouble, had
answered him impudently, and Socrates felt that he had been badly used.
As to his own agency in the matter, he did not give much thought to

"My nephew is going to leave the school, Mr. Roscoe," said Socrates,

"I should think it was full time, Mr. Smith."

"Perhaps so," said Smith; "but if I have stood by him, it has been
in ignorance. I cannot think him as wrong as your ward has probably
represented. Hector was jealous of him."

"Of his scholarship, I presume?"

"Well, no," answered the principal, reluctantly, "but of his physical
superiority, and - and influence in the school. I may say, in fact,
Mr. Roscoe, that till your ward entered the school it was a happy and
harmonious family. His coming stirred up strife and discontent, and
I consider him primarily responsible for all the trouble that has

"I don't defend Hector Roscoe," said Allan, "but he writes me that your
nephew was a bully, who imposed upon his schoolfellows, and that he, by
taking their part and stopping this tyranny, incurred his ill-will and

"I supposed I should be misrepresented," said Socrates, meekly. "I am
devoted to my school and my pupils, Mr. Roscoe. I am wearing out my life
in their service. I may make mistakes sometimes, but my heart - my heart,
Mr. Roscoe," continued Socrates, tapping his waistcoat, "is right, and
acquits me of any intentional injustice."

"I am glad to hear it, Mr. Smith," said Allan Roscoe, stiffly. "As
Hector has left you, I have only to settle your bill, and bid you

"Will you not exert your influence to persuade the boy to return?"
pleaded Socrates.

"As I don't know where he is, I don't see how I can," said Allan Roscoe,

"That man is an arch hypocrite!" he said to himself, as he was returning

I may state here that at the end of the term half the pupils left Smith
Institute, and Socrates Smith lamented too late the folly that had made
him and his school unpopular.


Mr. Crabb and Hector were sitting side by side in a railroad car,
speeding away from Smith Institute. In the heart of each was a feeling
of relief, which increased as each minute carried them farther away from
the school.

"Hector," said the usher, looking younger and happier than his pupil had
ever known him, "I feel like a free man now. It is a feeling that I have
not had since I first set foot in Smith Institute."

"I think you will lead a happier life in New York, Mr. Crabb."

"I am sure of it. Thanks to your considerate kindness, I shall for the
first time earn an ample salary, and even be able to lay up money. Is my
future pupil about your age?"

"He is a year younger."

"Where did you make his acquaintance?"

"At Saratoga, My father and I spent two months at Congress Hall two
summers ago, and as Walter's family were also there, we naturally got to
be friends. He is a capital fellow, and you will be sure to like him."

"I am ready to like him after reading that letter he wrote you. Is he
fond of study?"

"That is his weak point," said Hector, laughing. "Walter was never
cut out for a scholar. I don't mean, of course, that he hasn't fair
capacity, but his taste doesn't lie that way. However, he won't give you
any trouble, only you won't succeed as well as you may wish in pushing
him on."

"All boys are not cut out for scholars," said the usher. "Now you,
Hector, would do excellently, and might hope to make a very successful
professional man."

Hector shook his head.

"I must look to a different career," he said. "I am to be the architect
of my own fortune, you know."

"What are your plans, Hector?" asked the usher.

"I will consult with Mr. Boss, Walter's father. By the way, he knows
nothing of the change in my circumstances. He supposes me to be the heir
to the Roscoe estate."

"Trouble has come upon you early, Hector. Should you need help
hereafter, you must remember that I am earning a good salary and - "

"Thank you, Mr. Crabb," gratefully, "but you will need all you earn. I
don't look upon my loss of fortune as a trouble. I think it will make me
more manly and self-reliant, and stimulate me to exertion. I have a fair
education, and I am sure I can earn my living in some honest way."

"If that is your spirit, Hector, I am sure you will succeed. You are
young and hopeful. I am too much inclined to despond. I have always been
timid about the future. It is a matter of temperament."

It was early in the afternoon when they reached New York. As they
emerged from the depot a bright-faced boy came up eagerly and greeted

"How are you, Hector?" he said. "You see, I came to meet you. I have
been longing to have you come."

"I am just as glad to see you, Walter," said Hector, heartily. "Mr.
Crabb, here is your future pupil, Walter Boss."

"I hope we may soon be friends, Walter," said the usher, attracted by
the bright, sunny face of the boy.

Walter gave the usher his hand.

"I hope so, too," he said, smiling. "I'll try not to worry you any more
than I can help."

"I have no misgivings," said Mr. Crabb, as he mentally contrasted his
new pupil with Jim Smith, and two or three others at the institute, who
had been a frequent source of trouble and annoyance.

"Here is the carriage," said Walter, pointing out a plain but handsome
carriage waiting outside. "Bundle in, both of you! I beg your pardon,
Mr. Crabb, for my familiarity. That was intended for Hector."

"I am ready to be classed with Hector," said Mr. Crabb.

"I am glad to hear you say so. I was afraid you would be stiff and

"I think I shall take my cue from you."

"Oh, my rule is, go as you please. Edward, drive home!"

The house occupied by Mr. Boss was a fine brown-stone dwelling on
Forty-second Street. Arrived there, Mr. Crabb was shown into a spacious
chamber, on the third floor, furnished with a luxury to which the poor
usher was quite unaccustomed.

"Now, Hector, you can have a room to yourself, or you may share my den,"
said Walter.

"I would rather share the den," said Hector.

"That's what I hoped. You see, we shall have ever so much to say to each
other. We haven't seen each other for over a year."

A slight shade of gravity overspread Hector's face. Since he had met his
friend, his father had died, and he had been reduced from the heir of
wealth to a penniless orphan. Of this last change Walter knew nothing,
but Hector did not mean long to leave him in ignorance.

At dinner the two newcomers saw Mr. Ross, from whom they received a
friendly welcome. The usher was put at his ease at once.

"I hope you'll get along with my boy," said the bluff city merchant. "Of

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