Bound to Rise

by Horatio Alger

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Chapter IX. Leaving Home

Monday morning came, and the whole family stood on the grass plat in front of the house, ready to bid Harry good-by. He was encumbered by no trunk, but carried his scanty supply of clothing wrapped in a red cotton handkerchief, and not a very heavy bundle at that. He had cut a stout stick in the woods near by, and from the end of this suspended over his back bore the bundle which contained all his worldly fortune except the twenty-five cents which was in his vest pocket.

"I don't like to have you go," said his mother, anxiously. "Suppose you don't get work?"

"Don't worry about me, mother," said Harry, brightly. "I'll get along somehow."

"Remember you've got a home here, Harry, whatever happens," said his father.

"I shan't forget, father."

"I wish I was going with you," said Tom, for the first time fired with the spirit of adventure.

"What could you do, Tom?" said Jane, teasingly.

"Work, of course."

"I never saw you do it yet."

"I'm no more lazy than you," retorted Tom, offended.

"Don't dispute, children, just as your brother is leaving us," said Mrs. Walton.

"Good-by, mother," said Harry, feeling an unwonted moistening of the eyes, as he reflected that he was about to leave the house in which he had lived since infancy.

"Good-by, my dear child," said his mother, kissing him.

"Be sure to write."

"Yes I will."

So with farewell greetings Harry walked out into the world. He had all at once assumed a man's responsibilities, and his face grew serious, as he began to realize that he must now look out for himself.

His native village was situated in the northern part of New Hampshire. Not far away could be seen, indistinct in the distance, the towering summits of the White Mountain range, but his back was turned to them. In the south were larger and more thriving villages, and the wealth was greater. Harry felt that his chances would be greater there. Not that he had any particular place in view. Wherever there was an opening, he meant to stop.

"I won't come back till I am better off," he said to himself. "If I don't succeed it won't be for want of trying."

He walked five miles without stopping. This brought him to the middle of the next town. He was yet on familiar ground, for he had been here more than once. He felt tired, and sat down by the roadside to rest before going farther. While he sat there the doctor from his own village rode by, and chanced to espy Harry, whom he recognized.

"What brings you here, Harry?" he asked, stopping his chaise.

"I'm going to seek my fortune," said Harry.

"What, away from home?"

"Yes, sir."

"I hadn't heard of that," said the doctor, surprised.

"You haven't run away from home?" he asked, with momentary suspicion.

"No, indeed!" said Harry, half indignantly. "Father's given his permission for me to go."

"Where do you expect to go?"

"South," said Harry, vaguely.

"And what do you expect to find to do?"

"I don't know--anything that'll bring me a living."

"I like your spunk," said the doctor, after a pause. "If you're going my way, as I suppose you are, I can carry you a couple of miles. That's better than walking, isn't it?"

"I guess it is," said Harry, jumping to his feet with alacrity.

In a minute he was sitting beside Dr. Dunham in his old-fashioned chaise. "I might have known that you were not running away," said the doctor. "I should be more likely to suspect your Brother Tom."

"Tom's too lazy to run away to earn his own living," said Harry, laughing, "as long as he can get it at home."

The doctor smiled.

"And what put it into your head to start out in this way?" he asked.

"The first thing, was reading the' Life of Franklin.'"

"To be sure. I remember his story."

"And the next thing was, because my father is so poor. He finds it hard work to support us all. The farm is small, and the land is poor. I want to help him if I can."

"Very commendable, Harry," said the doctor, kindly.

"You owe a debt of gratitude to your good father, who has not succeeded so well in life as he deserves."

"That's true, sir. He has always been a hard-working man."

"If you start out with such a good object, I think you will succeed. Have you any plans at all, or any idea what you would like to do?"

"I thought I should like to work in a shoe shop, if I got a chance," said Harry.

"You like that better than working on a farm, then?"

"Yes, sir, There isn't much money to be earned by working on a farm. I had a chance to do that before I came away."

"You mean working on your father's land, I suppose?"

"No, Squire Green wanted to hire me."

"What wages did he offer?"

"Two dollars a month, at first. Afterwards he got up to three."

The doctor smiled.

"How could you decline such a magnificent offer?" he asked.

"I don't think I should like boarding at the squire's."

"A dollar is twice as large at least in his eyes as in those of anyone else."

By this time they had reached a place where a road turned at right angles.

"I am going down here, Harry," said the doctor. "I should like to have you ride farther, but I suppose it would only be taking you out of your course."

"Yes, doctor. I'd better get out."

"I'll tell your father I saw you."

"Tell him I was in good spirits," said Harry, earnestly. "Mother'll be glad to know that."

"I will certainly. Good-by!"

"Good-by, doctor. Thank you for the ride."

"You are quite welcome to that, Harry."

Harry followed with his eyes the doctor's chaise. It seemed like severing the last link that bound him to his native village. He was very glad to have fallen in with the doctor, but it seemed all the more lonesome that he had left him.

Harry walked six miles farther, and then decided that it was time to rest again. He was not only somewhat fatigued, but decidedly hungry, although it was but eleven o'clock in the forenoon. However, it must be considered that he had walked eleven miles, and this was enough to give anyone an appetite.

He sat down again beside the road, and untying the handkerchief which contained his worldly possessions, he drew therefrom a large slice of bread and began to eat with evident relish. There was a slice of cold meat also, which he found tasted particularly good.

"I wonder whether they are thinking of me at home," he said to himself.

They were thinking about him, and when an hour later the family gathered around the table, no one seemed to have much appetite. All looked sober, for all were thinking of the absent son and brother.

"I wish Harry was here," said Jane, at length, giving voice to the general feeling.

"Poor boy," sighed his mother. "I'm afraid he'll have a hard time. I wish he had stayed at home, or even have gone to Squire Green's to work. Then we could have seen him every day."

"I should have pitied him more if he had gone there than I do now," said his father. "Depend upon it, it; will be better for him in the end."

"I hope so," said his mother, dubiously.

"But you don't feel sure? Well, time will show. We shall hear from him before long."

We go back to Harry.

He rested for a couple of hours, sheltered from the sun by the foliage of the oak beneath which he had stretched himself. He whiled away the time by reading for the second time some parts of the "Life of Franklin," which he had brought away in his bundle, with his few other possessions. It seemed even more interesting to him now that he, too, like Franklin, had started out in quest for fortune.

He resumed walking, but we will not dwell upon the details of his journey. At six o'clock he was twenty-five miles from home. He had not walked much in the afternoon when, all at once, he was alarmed by the darkening of the sky. It was evident that a storm was approaching. He looked about him for shelter from the shower, and a place where he could pass the night.

Return to the Bound to Rise Summary Return to the Horatio Alger Library

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson