Bound to Rise

by Horatio Alger

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Chapter XVII. The Night Scholars

Immediately after Thanksgiving Day, the winter schools commenced. That in the center district was kept by a student of Dartmouth college, who had leave of absence from the college authorities for twelve weeks, in order by teaching to earn something to help defray his college expenses. Leonard Morgan, now a junior, was a tall, strongly made young man of twenty-two, whose stalwart frame had not been reduced by his diligent study. There were several shoe shops in the village, each employing from one to three boys, varying in age from fifteen to nineteen. Why could he not form a private class, to meet in the evening, to be instructed in advanced arithmetic, or, if desired, in Latin and Greek? He broached the idea to Stephen Bates, the prudential committeeman.

"I don't know," said Mr. Bates, "what our boys will think of it. I've got a boy that I'll send, but whether you'll get enough to make it pay I don't know."

"I suppose I can have the schoolhouse, Mr. Bates?"

"Yes, there won't be no objection. Won't it be too much for you after teachin' in the daytime?"

"It would take a good deal to break me down."

"Then you'd better draw up a notice and put it up in the store and tavern," suggested the committeeman.

In accordance with this advice, the young teacher posted up in the two places the following notice:


"I propose to start an evening school for those who are occupied during the day, and unable to attend the district school. Instruction will be given in such English branches as may be desired, and also in Latin and Greek, if any are desirous of pursuing a classical course. The school will commence next Monday evening at the schoolhouse, beginning at seven o'clock. Terms: Seventy cents a week, or five dollars for the term of ten weeks.


"Are you going to join the class, Walton?" asked Frank Heath.

"Yes," said Harry, promptly.

"Where'll you get the money?" asked Luke Harrison, in a jeering tone.

"I shan't have to go far for it."

"I don't see how you can spend so much money."

"I am willing to spend money when I can get my money's worth," said our hero. "Are you going?"

"To school? No, I guess not. I've got through my schooling."

"You don't know enough to hurt you, do you, Luke?" inquired Frank Heath, slyly.

"Nor I don't want to. I know enough to get along."

"I don't and never expect to," said Harry.

"Do you mean to go to school when you're a gray-headed old veteran?" asked Frank, jocosely.

"I may not go to school then but I shan't give up learning then," said Harry, smiling. "One can learn without going to school. But while I'm young, I mean to go to school as much as I can."

"I guess you're right," said Frank; "I'd go myself, only I'm too lazy. It's hard on a feller to worry his brain with study after he's been at work all day. I don't believe I was cut out for a great scholar."

"I don't believe you were, Frank," said Joe Bates.

"You always used to stand pretty well down toward the foot of the class when you went to school."

"A feller can't be smart as well as handsome. As long as I'm good-looking, I won't complain because I wasn't born with the genius of a Bates."

"Thank you for the compliment, Frank, though I suppose it means that I am homely. I haven't got any genius or education to spare."

When Monday evening arrived ten pupils presented themselves, of whom six were boys, or young men, and four were girls. Leonard Morgan felt encouraged. A class of ten, though paying but five dollars each, would give him fifty dollars, which would be quite an acceptable addition to his scanty means.

"I am glad to see so many," he said. "I think our evening class will be a success. I will take your names and ascertain what studies you wish to pursue."

When he came to Harry; he asked, "What do you propose to study?"

"I should like to take up algebra and Latin, if you are willing," answered our hero.

"Have you studied either at all?"

"No, sir; I have not had an opportunity."

"How far have you been in arithmetic?"

"Through the square and cube root?"

"If you have been so far, you will have no difficulty with algebra. As to Latin, one of the girls wishes to take up that and I will put you in the class with her."

It will be seen that Harry was growing ambitious. He didn't expect to go to college, though nothing would have pleased him better; but he felt that some knowledge of a foreign language could do him no harm. Franklin, whom he had taken as his great exemplar, didn't go to college; yet he made himself one of the foremost scientific men of the age and acquired enduring reputation, not only as a statesman and a patriot, but chiefly as a philosopher.

A little later, Leonard Morgan came round to the desk at which Harry was sitting.

"I brought a Latin grammar with me," he said, "thinking it probable some one might like to begin that language. You can use it until yours comes."

"Thank you," said Harry; and he eagerly took the book, and asked to have a lesson set, which was done.

"I can get more than that," he said.

"How much more?"

"Twice as much."

Still later he recited the double lesson, and so correctly that the teacher's attention was drawn to him.

"That's a smart boy," he said. "I mean to take pains with him. What a pity he can't go to college!"

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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.