Digging for GoldŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
As Grant gave a careless glance at the structure, which he was not intending to cross, he saw something that startled him. The supports of the further end of the bridge had given way, and it hung, partially fallen, supported only from the other end. It was clear that no train could pass over it in its present condition without being precipitated into the creek below.
ďGood Heavens,Ē thought Grant, ďthereíll be an accident! I wonder what could have weakened the bridge.Ē
It was useless speculating about this point. The danger was imminent, for in less than ten minutes a train was due.
Grant thought of going to the village and giving the alarm, but there was no time. Before he could return the train would have arrived, if on time, and the accident would have happened.
ďWhat shall I do?Ē Grant asked himself in excitement. ďThe engineer will have no warning, and the train will push on at its usual speed.Ē
A vision of the wrecking of the train and the death of innocent and unsuspecting passengers rose before Grantís mind, and he felt that the catastrophe must be averted if possible. If only some one would come along with whom to consult. But he was alone, and on his young shoulders rested a terrible responsibility.
What could he do?
GRANT SAVES THE TRAIN
ďI must signal to the engineer in some way,Ē thought Grant. ďHow shall I do it?Ē
He felt in his pocket and found that he had a white handkerchief of large size. He wore a soft felt hat. This he took off, spread the handkerchief over it, and then lifted it in the air on the tines of the pitchfork. Then he sought a place where he might attract the attention of the engineer.
About two hundred feet from the bridge there was a small eminence on one side of the railroad. It was just in front of a curve, and this seemed to Grant the best place to station himself. He posted himself there, raised the pitchfork, and waited anxiously for the train.
By and by he heard the cars approaching. His heart was in his mouth.
ďWill they see me?Ē he asked himself. ďIf not Ė Ē but he could not bear to think of the alternative.
As the train drew nearer and nearer he began to wave the hat vigorously, shouting at the same time, though he knew that his voice would be drowned by the thunderous noise of the train.
Nearer and nearer came the train. Would it stop?
All at once his heart was filled with joy, for the train began to slow up, and stopped just a little beyond where he was standing.
Grant ran forward till he was abreast with the engine.
ďWhatís the matter, boy?Ē demanded the engineer, half inclined to be angry. ďIf you are playing a trick on me, Iíll give you a good horse-whipping.Ē
ďItís no trick,Ē answered Grant earnestly. ďThe bridge just ahead is broken down.Ē
ďGood Heavens! is this true?Ē
ďGet out and see for yourself.Ē
The engineer lost no time in following Giantís advice.
He and his young guide walked forward, and he saw that Grantís information was correct.
ďItís a narrow escape,Ē he said slowly. ďThe train would have been wrecked, and by this time in all probability I should have been a dead man.Ē
By this time a number of passengers, curious to know what had happened, and why the train had stopped so suddenly, got off the cars and advanced to where the engineer stood with Grant at his side.
ďWhatís the matter,Ē asked the first man.
ďYou can see for yourself,Ē answered the engineer, pointing to the bridge.
ďYouíve been as near death as you probably ever will be without meeting it.Ē
ďAnd what saved us?Ē
ďThis boy,Ē said the engineer, pointing to Grant. ďBut for him, some of us would be dead men at this moment.Ē
Grant blushed, for all eyes were fixed on him.
ďIt was lucky I was here and discovered the broken bridge,Ē he said.
ďGentlemen,Ē said a portly, gray-haired man, a clergyman, ďthis boy has under Providence been the means of saving our lives. He deserves a reward.Ē
ďSo he does! So he does!Ē exclaimed a dozen men heartily.
ďLet me set the example,Ē and the minister took off his hat and deposited therein a five dollar bill. ďI am not a rich man Ė ministers seldom are Ė but what I give, I give with all my heart.Ē
ďHere is another!Ē said the engineer. ďI am perhaps under deeper obligations than any one.Ē
ďLet me contribute!Ē said a sweet-faced old lady, and she dropped another five-dollar bill into the ministerís hat.
Then the passengers generally brought forward their contributions, though some were able to give but a silver coin. There was one notable exception: One man, when he saw what was going forward, quietly shrunk away, and got back into the train.
ďWhoís that man,Ē asked the engineer sharply.
ďI know,Ē said an Irishman, who out of his poverty had given a dollar. ďItís Mr. Leonard Buckley, of New York. Heís worth a million. He is rich enough to buy us all up.Ē
ďNo matter how much money he possesses, he is a poor man,Ē said the minister significantly.
ďHeís given all his life is worth to the world,Ē said a passenger cynically. ďWhen he dies he wonít be missed.Ē
ďAnd now, my young friend,Ē said the clergyman to Grant, ďlet me make over to you this collection of money as a small acknowledgement from the passengers of this train of the great service you have rendered us.Ē
While the collection was being taken up, Grant stood as if dazed. All had passed so suddenly that he could not realize what it meant. Now he found a voice to speak.
ďI donít think I ought to take it,Ē he said. ďI didnít do it for money.Ē
ďOf course you didnít!Ē said the clergyman. ďIf you had, your act would have been far less commendable, though it might have been as effective. I think you need not hesitate to take the money.Ē
ďTake it, take it!Ē said more than one.
So Grant took the hat, and held it awkwardly for a moment, hardly knowing what to do with the contents till some one suggested, ďPut it in your own hat!Ē
Grant did so, and then the engineer went forward to examine the bridge more carefully, and decide what had better be done.
There was no further reason for Grant to remain, and he walked a little distance away and began to count his money. There were one hundred and forty dollars in bills, and about twelve dollars in silver.
ďOne hundred and fifty-two dollars!Ē said Grant, elated. ďNow,Ē and his face brightened up, ďnow I can go to California!Ē
But what should he do with the money? He felt that it would not be prudent to carry it home, for his step-father would be sure to claim it. He might hide it somewhere, but there was danger that it would be discovered, and lost. Finally, he decided to carry it to Luke Weldon, and ask him to keep it for him for the present. Luke was a poor man, but he was thoroughly honest. There was no one in town who would not sooner have trusted him than Seth Tarbox, though Seth had twenty dollars to his one.
When Grant entered the farm-yard again, Luke looked up with surprise.
ďWhat brings you back, Grant?Ē he asked.
ďI want to ask a favor of you, Mr. Weldon.Ē
ďI am always ready to do you a favor, Grant.Ē
ďWill you keep some money for me?Ē
Luke Weldon was surprised. He knew pretty well how Grant was situated, and that money must be a scarce article with him. Perhaps, however, he had a little extra change which he was afraid of losing, he reflected.
ďAll right, Grant!Ē was his reply. ďIíll keep it for you. How much is it?Ē
When Grant began to draw the bills out of his pocket, Lukeís eyes opened with amazement.
ďWhere did you get all this money, Grant?Ē he asked. ďYou havenít been Ė no, I canít believe it possible youíve been robbing the old man.Ē
ďI should think not,Ē returned Grant indignantly. ďI havenít sunk so low as that.Ē
ďBut where did you get it? Why didnít you ask me to take charge of it when you were here before?Ē
ďBecause I didnít have it.Ē
ďHave you got it since?Ē
ďThen you found it somewhere. It must belong to some one who hid it.Ē
ďNo, it doesnít. It was given to me.Ē
ďI want to believe you, Grant, and I never knew you to tell a lie, but it aint easy, boy, it aint easy. If you donít tell me where and how you got it, I canít agree to keep it for you. It might be stolen money for aught I know.Ē
ďThen Iíll tell you, Luke. When I crossed the railroad I found the bridge was broken. I signalled the train just in time to stop itís going across.Ē
ďSho! you donít say! Then but for you the train would have been wrecked?Ē
ďIím proud of you, Grant! Give me your hand. Why, boy, youíve saved fifty lives, perhaps.Ē
ďThatís what the engineer said.Ē
ďBut about the money Ė Ē
ďThe passengers took up a contribution, and here it is.Ē
ďHow much is there?Ē
ďAs near as I can tell, for I counted it in a hurry, thereís a hundred and fifty-two dollars.Ē
ďAnd you deserve it all, Grant. Yes, Iíll keep it for you, and give it back whenever you ask for it.Ē
ďI was afraid Mr. Tarbox might try to get it away from me.Ē
ďSo he would, I make no doubt. He wonít get it from me, Iíll tell you that.Ē
ďNow I must be getting home. Iíve been away a long time.Ē
When Grant approached the farm-house, Rodney, who was standing in front of the house, hailed him.
ďSay, thereís a rod in pickle for you. Grandfatherís awfully mad at your staying so long.Ē
GRANT ORDERS A NEW SUIT
Grant listened to what Rodney said, but Mr. Tarboxís anger did not signify as much to him as it would have done a few hours earlier. The money he possessed made him feel independent.
Seth Tarbox appeared at the door, ready to empty the vials of his wrath on Grantís devoted head.
ďSo youíve been loiteriní on the way, have you?Ē he said harshly. ďYouíve been twice as long as you need to be.Ē
ďWell, perhaps I have,Ē Grant admitted coolly.
ďSo you own up to it, do you?Ē
ďOf course I do.Ē
ďAnd what excuse have you?Ē
ďDo you expect me to work all the time?Ē
ďI expect you to earn your board and clothes.Ē
ďI earn them both, and more too, but I donít get the clothes.Ē
ďHey? Oh, I see. You loitered because I wouldnít buy you a suit of clothes,Ē snarled Seth.
ďYou can take it that way if you want to,Ē said Grant.
ďWhatís got into you, Grant Colburn? íPears to me you are mighty independent all at once.Ē
ďThatís the way I feel.Ē
ďYou seem to forget that but for me you wouldnít have a home.Ē
ďWhen you get tired of providing me with a home, Mr. Tarbox, I will find one somewhere else.Ē
ďSo you think, but if you leave my home youíll become a poor tramp.Ē
ďI guess youíre right, grandfather,Ē he said.
Grant darted a look at him which showed that he understood the nature of his feelings.
ďWell,Ē he said, ďIíll take the risk.Ē
ďI donít take back the offer of a suit of clothes, Grant,Ē said Rodney smoothly. ďIíll bring íem over the next time I come.Ē
ďYes, do, Rodney,Ē put in his grandfather.
ďYou neednít take the trouble, Rodney,Ē said Grant. ďI shanít wear the suit if you bring it.Ē
ďI suppose you expect Iíll buy you a new one,Ē sneered Seth Tarbox.
ďNo, I donít.Ē
ďThen you are content to go as you are?Ē
ďNo, I shall have a new suit in a few days, if I have to pay for it myself.Ē
ďYouíre welcome to do that,Ē responded Seth in a tone of satisfaction, for he concluded that Grantís mother would pay the bill, and that suited him.
No more was said to Grant on the subject of his delay in returning from the other farm. He had occasion a little later to go on an errand, and called at the village tailorís.
ďMr. Shick,Ē he said, ďI want you to make me up a good serviceable suit. How much will it cost?Ē
ďIt depends on the cloth, Grant. Here is a remnant that will wear like iron. I can make it up in two styles, according to the trimmings, seventeen dollars or twenty.Ē
ďI want a good suit, and will pay twenty.Ē
The tailor was rather surprised, for he knew that Grantís step-father was a thoroughly mean man.
ďMr. Tarbox is getting liberal, isnít he?Ē he inquired. ďThatís more than he pays for his own suits.Ē
ďHe isnít going to pay for mine.Ē
ďOh, itís your mother, then.Ē
ďNo, I shall pay for it myself.Ē
ďWill it be cash down?Ē
ďI am glad you are so well off, Grant,Ē said Mr. Shick, puzzled.
ďSo am I. You may rest assured that you wonít have to wait for your money.Ē
ďThen Iíll do a good job. You shall have as nice a suit as any boy in the village. You deserve it, too, Grant, for youíre a hard-working boy.Ē
ďJust say that to Mr. Tarbox when you meet him,Ē said Grant, smiling, ďfor I am afraid he doesnít fully appreciate me.Ē
As Grant left the tailorís shop he met Rodney at the door. Rodney found the farm rather a slow place, and had made a second visit to the village.
ďHallo,Ē he exclaimed, ďhave you been into the tailorís?Ē
ďI suppose you had business there.Ē
ďWhat was it?Ē
ďYou can ask Mr. Shick, if you like. Iím in a hurry.Ē
Rodney decided to act on this suggestion.
ďHow do you do, Mr. Shick?Ē he said politely, for he wanted to get some information. ďI see Grant has just been in here.Ē
ďAre you going to make him a suit?Ē
Rodney was surprised.
ďWould you mind showing me the cloth?Ē he asked. ďI might like to get a suit myself.Ē
ďI shall be happy to fill your order. This is the cloth.Ē
ďIt looks pretty good.Ē
ďYes, it is of excellent quality.Ē
ďHow much do you charge for a suit off this cloth?Ē
ďTwenty dollars is what I charged Grant.Ē
It must be explained that Shick, being in the country, was obliged to put his prices a good deal lower for the same article than if he lived in the city.
ďWell, I hope youíll get your pay,Ē said Rodney shortly.
ďI shanít trouble myself about that. Grant is an honest boy.Ē
ďWell, Iím glad you feel so confident.Ē
Rodney left the shop abruptly, and, going into the street, came face to face with his grandfather.
ďGrandfather,Ē he said, ďIíve got some news for you.Ē
ďHave you, Rodney? What is it?Ē
ďGrant has ordered a suit of Mr. Shick, for which the price is twenty dollars.Ē
ďYou donít mean it?Ē ejaculated the farmer.
ďYes, I do. I suppose the bill will be sent to you,Ē added Rodney, desirous of making trouble.
ďI wonít pay it!Ē exclaimed Seth Tarbox excitedly.
ďYouíd better see Mr. Shick about it.Ē
Seth Tarbox entered the shop, looking flurried.
ďIs it true, Mr. Shick,Ē he said abruptly, ďthat Grant has ordered a twenty-dollar suit of you?Ē
ďYes, Mr. Tarbox.Ē
ďIf you expect me to pay for it, youíll be disappointed. Did Grant tell you to charge it to me?Ē
ďNo; he said he would pay for it himself.Ē
ďI suppose he expects to get the money out of his mother,Ē continued Mr. Tarbox, feeling somewhat relieved. ďIt will be a shame to make her pay so much. Why, I donít pay that for my own suits.Ē
ďWhy donít you?Ē asked the tailor bluntly. ďYou can afford it.Ē
ďI donít believe in throwing away money,Ē answered Seth shortly.
ďYou wouldnít. This suit of Grantís will wear like iron.Ē
ďItís all foolish extravagance. Rodney, my grandson, offered to give him one of his old cast-off suits.Ē
Mr. Shick smiled.
ďProbably Grant thought he would prefer a new one.Ē
ďBut itís wasteful extravagance.Ē
ďMr. Tarbox, you need a new suit yourself. Youíd better let me make you one. You donít want your step-son to outshine you.Ē
ďIíll see about it. I can make the old one do a little longer.Ē
When Mr. Tarbox got home he at once tackled his wife.
ďMrs. T.,Ē he said, ďIím surprised at your letting Grant order a twenty-dollar suit. Truly a fool and his money are soon parted, as the saying is.Ē
ďI donít know what you mean, Mr. Tarbox, and Iíll thank you not to call me a fool,Ē she added, with a flash of spirit.
ďYou mean to say you havenít authorized Grant to order a twenty-dollar suit at Mr. Shickís?Ē
ďGrant hasnít asked me to buy him a suit?Ē
ďWell, heís ordered one, for Mr. Shick told me so. It aint possible that heís going to trust that boy. I donít understand it.Ē
ďNor do I. I will speak to Grant about it.Ē
Mrs. Tarbox felt anxious, for the story seemed strange and almost incredible. It did not seem like Grant, but still she knew that he was very anxious to have a new suit. She would have been willing to advance ten dollars to buy him a ready-made one, but twenty dollars in her circumstances would be extravagant.
Just then Grant entered the room.
ďGrant,Ē she said, ďhave you ordered a suit at Mr. Shickís?Ē
ďAt twenty dollars?Ē
ďHow could you be so inconsiderate? Mr. Tarbox will not pay for it, and I cannot afford to pay so high a price.Ē
ďDonít be worried, mother,Ē said Grant quietly, ďI shall pay for it myself.Ē
SETH TARBOX MAKES A DISCOVERY
Two pairs of eyes were fixed upon Grant in wonderment Ė those of his mother and Mr. Tarbox.
ďAre you crazy, Grant Colburn?Ē asked Mr. Tarbox.
ďNot that I know of, Mr. Tarbox.Ē
ďDo you mean to say you have got twenty dollars to pay for your suit?Ē
ďYes, I do.Ē
ďShow it to me.Ē
ďI havenít got the money with me.Ē
ďWhere is it, then?Ē
ďI decline to tell.Ē
ďDo you know, Grant, that I, as your step-father, and natural guardian, have a right to make you tell?Ē
ďNo, I donít. At any rate, I shanít tell.Ē
ďYouíre getting dreadful contrary lately, Grant. Mrs. T., I think we are going to have trouble with that boy. Of course Mr. Shick wonít be paid, and heíll send in his bill to you or me likely. He canít make us pay, for he has trusted a minor without consultiní his parents or guardians. I wash my hands of the matter.Ē
So saying, Mr. Tarbox left the room.
ďGrant,Ē said his mother, ďI canít help feeling anxious. It does seem a crazy idea for you to order a twenty-dollar suit.Ē
ďWhy should it, mother?Ē
ďWhen you have no money to pay for it.Ē
ďMother, did you ever know me to tell a lie?Ē
ďThen, when I tell you that Iíve got money enough to pay for this suit, and more, too, you can believe me.Ē
ďWas it got honestly, Grant?Ē
ďOf course it was.Ē
ďAnd the money is really and truly yours?Ē
ďAre you willing to tell me where you got it?Ē
ďNot just yet, mother. I will before long.Ē
ďWell, Grant, I will trust your word,Ē said Mrs. Tarbox, relieved, ďand I am really glad of your good fortune.Ē
ďYou wonít worry any more, then, mother?Ē
ďI am glad you havenít lost confidence in me.Ē
Grant took an opportunity, after supper, to go to Luke Weldonís, and draw twenty-five dollars. On his way back he called at the tailorís, and paid Mr. Shick for his suit in advance. The remaining five dollars, in silver, he kept in his pocket.
ďIt is so long since I carried any money,Ē he said to himself, ďthat I want to know how it seems.Ē
Meanwhile Jotham Perry, a neighbor, called at the farm-house on an errand.
ďThatís a pretty bad thing, the breaking down of the railroad bridge, isnít it?Ē
ďI havenít heard of it,Ē said Seth Tarbox, pricking up his ears.
ďSho! I thought everybody knew it.Ē
ďHow did it happen?Ē
ďI donít know, except it gave way from old age. Itís long been shaky.Ē
ďWhen was it found out?Ē
ďThis afternoon, just before the accommodation train came along. I tell you it was a narraw escape for the train. They stopped just a few rods before they got to the bridge.Ē
ďWhat made them stop? How did the engineer come to suspect?Ē
ďIt seems a boy came along that way, and saw the condition of the bridge, and signalled the train.Ē
ďYes. He had a pitchfork, and stuck his hat and a handkerchief on the tines, and so attracted the engineerís attention.Ē
Mr. Tarbox opened his eyes wide, and a sudden revelation came to him.
ďWhy, it must have been Grant,Ē he said.
ďDidnít he tell you anything about it?Ē
ďI heerd the passengers took up a collection for the boy, whoever he was. He must have got as much as twenty-five dollars.Ē
ďThatís where Grantís money came from,Ē exclaimed Seth Tarbox, slapping his leg vigorously. ďHeís gone and ordered a twenty-dollar suit, and been hintiní mysteriously that heíd got money enough to pay for it.Ē
ďYes, I suppose that explains it. Well, the boy needs a new suit and heís earned it easy.Ē
ďBut itís such a foolish way of spendiní his money. My grandson Rodney offered him a suit of his for nothiní, and he might have given me the money to keep for him.Ē
ďYes, he might,Ē said Jotham with a queer smile, ďbut I think if Iíd been in Grantís place Iíd have done the same thing he did.Ē
Mr. Perry went away directly afterward, and Seth Tarbox sought his wife.
ďWhere is Grant, Mrs. T.?Ē
ďHe went out to walk after his chores were done, but he didnít say where he was going.Ē
ďIíve found out where he got his money,Ē said Seth, nodding his head.
ďWhere, then? He didnít do anything wrong, I am sure.Ē
ďWell, no, not in gettiní the money, but heíd ought to have consulted me before beiní so extravagant.Ē
ďWhere did he get the money?Ē
ďHe found out the bridge was broken, and signalled the train and saved it from being wrecked.Ē
Mrs. Tarboxís eyes sparkled with maternal pride.
ďIt was a noble act,Ē she said.
ďThe passengers took up a contribution, and Jotham Perry thinks Grant got about twenty-five dollars.Ē
ďHe deserved it.Ē
ďWell, Iím glad he got it, but he had no right to spend it himself. Therís one thing that donít occur to you, Mrs. T. What he did was done in time, and he lost at least an hour by the delay it cost. You know yourself how late he came home.ĒŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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