A hundred dollars! It might as well have been ten thousand, as far as Joe was concerned. He received no money wages, nor was he likely to as long as he remained in the major’s employ. There was a shoe shop in the village, where money wages were paid, but there was no vacancy; and, even if there were, Joe was quite unacquainted with the business, and it would be a good while before he could do any more than pay his expenses.
Joe sighed as he thought how far away was the prospect of his being able to go to California. He could not help wishing that he were the possessor of the magic carpet mentioned in the Arabian tale, upon which the person seated had only to wish himself to be transported anywhere, and he was carried there in the twinkling of an eye.
Joe walked home slowly, dreaming of the gold-fields on the other side of the continent, and wishing he were there.
The next day was Saturday. There was no school, but this did not lighten Joe’s labors, as he was kept at work on the farm all day.
He was in the barn when Deacon Goodwin, a neighbor, drove up.
Oscar was standing in front of the house, whittling out a cane from a stick he had cut in the woods.
“Is Joe Mason at home?” the deacon inquired.
Oscar looked up in surprise. Why should the deacon want Joe Mason?
“I suppose he is,” drawled Oscar.
“Don’t you know?”
“Probably he is in the barn,” said Oscar indifferently.
“Will you call him? I want to see him on business.”
Oscar was still more surprised. He was curious about the business, but his pride revolted at the idea of being sent to summon Joe.
“You’ll find him in the barn,” said he.
“I don’t want to leave my horse,” said the deacon. “I will take it as a favor if you will call him.”
Oscar hesitated. Finally he decided to go and then return to hear what business Joe and the deacon had together. He rather hoped that Joe had been trespassing on the deacon’s grounds, and was to be reprimanded.
He opened the barn door and called out:
“Deacon Goodwin wants you out at the gate.”
Joe was as much surprised as Oscar.
He followed Oscar to the front of the house and bade the deacon good morning.
“Oscar tells me you want to see me,” he said.
“Yes, Joe. Do you remember your Aunt Susan?”
“My mother’s aunt?”
“Yes; she’s dead and buried.”
“She was pretty old,” said Joe.
“The old lady had a small pension,” continued the deacon, “that just about kept her, but she managed to save a little out of it. When the funeral expenses were paid it was found that there were fifty-six dollars and seventy-five cents over.”
“What’s going to be done with it? he inquired.