Bound to Rise

by Horatio Alger

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Chapter XIII. An Invitation Declined

The summer passed quickly, and the time arrived for Robert Leavitt to go to the city. By this time Harry was well qualified to take his place. It had not been difficult, for he had only been required to peg, and that is learned in a short time. Harry, however, proved to be a quick workman, quicker, if anything, than Robert, though the latter had been accustomed to the work for several years. Mr. Leavitt was well satisfied with his new apprentice, and quite content to pay him the three dollars a week agreed upon. In fact, it diminished the amount of cash he was called upon to pay.

"Good-by, Harry," said Robert, as he saw the coach coming up the road, to take him to the railroad station.

"Good-by, and good luck!" said Harry.

"When you come to the city, come and see me."

"I don't think I shall be going very soon. I can't afford it."

"You must save up your wages, and you'll have enough soon."

"I've got another use for my wages, Bob."

"To buy cigars?"

"Harry shook his head. "I shall save it up to carry home."

"Well, you must try to make my place good in the shop."

"He can do that," said Mr. Leavitt, slyly;" but there's one place where he can't equal you."

"Where is that?"

"At the dinner table."

"You've got me there, father," said Bob, good-naturedly." Well, good-by all, here's the stage."

In a minute more he was gone. Harry felt rather lonely, for he had grown used to working beside him. But his spirits rose as he reflected that the time had now come when he should be in receipt of an income. Three dollars a week made him feel rich in anticipation. He looked forward already with satisfaction to the time when he might go home with money enough to pay off his father's debt to Squire Green. But he was not permitted to carry out his economical purpose without a struggle.

On Saturday evening, after he had received his week's pay, Luke Harrison, who worked in a shop near by, met him at the post office.

"Come along, Harry," he said. "Let us play a game of billiards."

"You must excuse me," said Harry.

"Oh, come along," said Luke, taking him by the arm; "it's only twenty-five cents,"

"I can't afford it,"

"Can't afford it! Now that's nonsense. You just changed a two-dollar note for those postage stamps."

"I know that; but I must save that money for another purpose."

"What's the use of being stingy, Harry? Try one game."

"You can get somebody else to play with you, Luke."

"Oh, hang it, if you care so much for a quarter, I'll pay for the game myself. Only come and play."

Harry shook his head.

"I don't want to amuse myself at your expense."

"You are a miser," said Luke, angrily.

"You can call me so, if you like," said Harry, firmly; "but that won't make it so."

"I don't see how you can call yourself anything else, if you are so afraid to spend your money."

"I have good reasons."

"What are they?"

"I told you once that I had another use for the money."

"To hoard away in an old stocking," said Luke, sneering.

"You may say so, if you like," said Harry, turning away.

He knew he was right, but it was disagreeable to be called a miser. He was too proud to justify himself to Luke, who spent all his money foolishly, though earning considerably larger wages than he.

There was one thing that Harry had not yet been able to do to any great extent, though it was something he had at heart. He had not forgotten his motto, "Live and Learn," and now that he was in a fair way to make a living, he felt that he had made no advance in learning during the few weeks since he arrived in Glenville.

The day previous he had heard, for the first time, that there was a public library in another part of the town, which was open evenings. Though it was two miles distant, and he had been at work all day, he determined to walk up there and get a book. He felt that he was very ignorant, and that his advance in the world depended upon his improving all opportunities that might present themselves for extending his limited knowledge. This was evidently one.

After his unsatisfactory interview with Luke, he set out for the upper village, as it was called. Forty minutes' walk brought him to the building in which the library was kept. An elderly man had charge of it--a Mr. Parmenter.

"Can I take out a book?" asked Harry.

"Do you live in town?"

"Yes, sir."

"I don't remember seeing you before. You don't live in this village, do you?"

"No, sir. I live in the lower village."

"What is your name?"

"Harry Walton."

"I don't remember any Walton family."

"My father lives in Granton. I am working for Mr. James Leavitt."

"I have no doubt this is quite correct, but I shall have to have Mr. Leavitt's certificate to that effect, before I can put your name down, and trust you with books."

"Then can't I take any book to-night?" asked Harry, disappointed.

"I am afraid not."

So it seemed his two-mile walk was for nothing. He must retrace his steps and come again Monday night.

He was turning away disappointed when Dr. Townley, of the lower village, who lived near Mr. Leavitt, entered the library.

"My wife wants a book in exchange for this, Mr. Parmenter," he said. "Have you got anything new in? Ah, Harry Walton, how came you here? Do you take books out of the library?"

"That's is what I came up for, but the librarian says I must bring a line from Mr. Leavitt, telling who I am."

"If Dr. Townley knows you, that is sufficient," said the librarian.

"He is all right, Mr. Parmenter. He is a young neighbor of mine."

"That is enough. He can select a book."

Harry was quite relieved at this fortunate meeting, and after a little reflection selected the first volume of "Rollin's Universal History," a book better known to our fathers than the present generation.

"That's a good, solid book, Harry," said the doctor.

"Most of our young people select stories."

"I like stories very much," said Harry; "but I have only a little time to read, and I must try to learn something."

"You are a sensible boy," said the doctor, emphatically.

"I'm afraid there are few of our young people who take such wise views of what is best for them. Most care only for present enjoyment."

"I have got my own way to make," said Harry, "and I suppose that is what influences me. My father is poor and cannot help me, and I want to rise in the world."

"You are going the right way to work. Do you intend to take out books often from the library?"

"Yes, sir."

"It will be a long walk from the lower village."

"I would walk farther rather than do without the books."

"I can save you at any rate from walking back. My chaise is outside, and, if you will jump in, I will carry you home."

"Thank you, doctor. I shall be very glad to ride."

On the way, Dr. Townley said: "I have a few miscellaneous book in my medical library, which I will lend to you with pleasure, if you will come in. It may save you an occasional walk to the library."

Harry thanked him, and not long afterwards availed himself of the considerate proposal. Dr Townley was liberally educated, and as far as his professional engagements would permit kept up with general literature. He gave Harry some valuable directions as to the books which it would benefit him to read, and more than once took him up on the road to the library.

Once a week regularly Harry wrote home. He knew that his letters would give pleasure to the family, and he never allowed anything to interfere with his duty.

His father wrote: "We are getting on about as usual. The cow does tolerably well, but is not as good as the one I lost. I have not yet succeeded in laying up anything toward paying for her. Somehow, whenever I have a few dollars laid aside Tom wants shoes, or your sister wants a dress, or some other expense swallows it up."

Harry wrote in reply: "Don't trouble yourself, father, about your debt to Squire Green. If I have steady work, and keep my health, I shall have enough to pay it by the time it comes due."

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