“I am not afraid of that, Herbert.”
“I don’t think Mark will have that idea any more. I gave him a piece of my mind, and left him very angry. But what does it all mean, Frank?”
“I know no more than you do, Herbert. I cannot understand it.”
“What could have induced your mother to make such a will?”
“I cannot believe my poor mother ever made such a will; but, if she did, I am very sure that she was over-persuaded by my stepfather, who is one of the most plausible of men.”
“What shall you do about it?”
“What can I do? I am only a boy. I have no proof, you know.”
“How are you likely to be treated?”
“I have had a little foretaste of that.”
“It looks very bad for you, Frank,” admitted Herbert, in a tone of sympathy.
“I don’t so much care for the loss of the property, Herbert,” said Frank, “but I am afraid I shall have sorts of annoyances to endure from Mark and his father. But I won’t anticipate trouble. I will do my duty, and trust that things will turn out better than I fear.”
The next afternoon a letter was placed in Frank’s hands. It was in a brown envelope, and directed in a cramped and evidently unpracticed hand, with which Frank was not familiar.
On opening it, a glance at the signature showed that it was from Richard Green, the coachman. It commenced:
“Dear Mr. Frank: This comes hoping you are well. I have no good news to tell. Mr. Manning has sold your horse, Ajax, and he is to be taken away to-night. I thought you ought to know it, and that is why I take my pen in hand to write.”
There was more, but this is all that was important.
Frank’s face flushed with anger. He immediately went in search of Mark, who, he felt assured, knew of the sale.
It may be said here that Ajax was one of Frank’s dearest trophies, a gift from his mother.
A NEW PLAN
Mark was in his room, where Frank found him trying on a new necktie. Though decidedly plain, Mark fancied himself very good-looking, and spent no little time on personal adornment. In particular, he had a weakness for new neckties, in which he indulged himself freely.
When the boys came to the academy, the principal proposed that they should room together; but both objected, and Mark had a room to himself—no one caring to room with him.
“Take a seat, Frank,” said Mark, condescendingly. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Yes,” answered Frank. “I hear your father has sold Ajax, or is intending to do so. Will you tell me if it is true?”
“I believe it is,” answered Mark, indifferently.
“And what right has he to sell my horse?” demanded Frank, indignantly.
“You’d better ask him,” said Mark, with provoking coolness.
“It is an outrage,” said Frank, indignantly.