Meantime Dick Lee’s part in the matter, and that of his family, had been taken for granted, all around. An hour later, however, Mrs. Kinzer’s first reply to her son, after listening to a calculation of his, which almost made it seem as if Dick would make money by going to Grantley, was,—
“What if Mrs. Lee should say she can’t spare him?”
Dab’s countenance fell. He knew Mrs. Lee, but he had not thought so far as that.
He said something not very intelligible, but to that effect.
“Well, Dabney, if we can make the other arrangements, I’ll see her about it.”
Ham Morris had been exchanging remarkable winks with Miranda and Samantha, and now gravely suggested,—
“Maybe the academy authorities will refuse to take him.”
“Ford says they had a blacker boy than he is, there, last year.”
“Now, Dab!” exclaimed Ham.
“Well, I know he’s pretty black; but it don’t come off.”
“Mother,” said Samantha, “Mrs. Foster and Annie are coming through the gate.”
Dab waited just long enough after that to learn the news concerning the “Richard Lee Education Fund” and Mr. Foster’s offer, and then he was off towards the shore.
He knew very well in which direction it was best to go; and, half way to the landing, he met Dick coming up the road with a basket of eels on his arm.
“Dick,” shouted Dabney, “I’m going away to boarding-school, at an academy.”
“Up in New England. They call it Grantley Academy,—where Frank and Ford are going.”
“Dat spiles it all,” said Dick ruefully. “Now I’s got to fish wid fellers ’at don’t know nuffin.”
“No, you won’t. You’re going with us. It’s all fixed,—money and all.”
Dick would never have thought, ordinarily, of questioning a statement made by “Captain Kinzer;” but the rueful expression deepened on his face, the basket of eels dropped heavily on the grass, the tough black fingers of his hands twisted nervously together for a moment, and then he sat mournfully down beside the basket.
“It ain’t no use, Dab.”
“No use? Why not?”
“I ain’t a w’ite boy.”
“What of it? Don’t you learn well enough, over at the school?”
“More dar like me. Wot’d I do in a place whar all de res’ was w’ite?”
“Well as anybody.”
“Wot’ll my mudder say, w’en she gits de news? You isn’t a-jokin’, is you, Dab Kinzer?”
“Joking? I guess not.”
“You’s lit onto me powerful sudden ‘bout dis. Yonder’s Ford an’ Frank a-comin’. Don’t tell ’em. Not jes’ yit.”
“They know all about it. They helped raise the money.”
“Did dey? I’s obleeged to ’em. Well, ’tain’t no use. All I’s good for is eels and crabs and clams and sech. Har dey come. Oh, my!”
Ford and Frank brought a fresh gust of enthusiasm with them, and they had Dick and his eels up from the grass in short order.