He saw that it would not do for him to go too far in his persecution of Frank as it might drive the latter to consult a lawyer in regard to the validity of the will by which he had been disinherited.
Frank rather gloomily made his way to the stable. As he reached it, Richard Green came out.
“I’m sorry for you, Mr. Frank. But your mother was a saint. She was too good to suspect the badness of others, Mr. Frank. She thought old Manning was really all that he pretended to be, and that he would be as kind to you as she was herself. When she was alive, he was always as soft as—as silk.”
“His manner has changed now,” said Frank, gravely. “Excuse me, Richard, for finding fault with you, but don’t call him old Manning.”
“Why not, Mr. Frank?”
“I have no liking for Mr. Manning—in fact, I dislike him—but he was the husband of my mother, and I prefer to speak of him respectfully.”
“I dare say you are right, Mr. Frank, but, all the same, he don’t deserve it. Is Mr. Mark to ride Ajax then?”
“If he asks for it, you are to saddle Ajax for him. I don’t want you to get into any trouble with Mr. Manning on my account.”
“I don’t care for that, Mr. Frank. I can get another place, and I don’t much care to serve Mr. Manning.”
“I would rather you would stay, if you can, Richard. I don’t want to see a new face in the stable.”
“I don’t think he means to keep me long, Mr. Frank. Deborah and I will have to go, I expect, and he’ll get some servants of his own here.”
“Has he hinted anything of this, Richard?” asked Frank, quickly.
“No; but he will soon, you may depend on it. I won’t lose sight of you, though. I’ve known you since you were four years old, and I won’t desert you, if I can do any good—nor Deborah, either.”
“I have two friends, then, at any rate,” said Frank to himself. “That is something.”
A SCHOOL FRIEND
Early Monday morning it had been the custom for Frank and Mark to take the train for Bridgeville, to enter upon a new week at the academy.
Frank felt that it would be better for him to go back without any further vacation, as occupation would serve to keep him from brooding over his loss.
“Are you ready, Mark?” he asked, as he rose from the breakfast table.
“Ready for what?”
“To go back to school, of course.”
“I am not going back this morning,” answered Mark.
“Why not?” asked Frank, in some surprise.
“I am going to stay at home to help father,” said Mark, with a glance at Mr. Manning.
“If I can be of any service to you, sir, I will stay, too,” said Frank, politely.
“Thank you, but Mark will do all I require,” replied his stepfather.
“Very well, sir.”
Frank appeared at the academy with a grave face and subdued manner, suggestive of the great loss he had sustained. From his schoolfellows, with whom he was a favorite, he received many words of sympathy—from none more earnest or sincere than from Herbert Grant.