“I’ll tell my father as soon as he gets home,” he decided; and he kept his word.
In consequence, Frank, by that time returned, was summoned into Mr. Manning’s presence.
“What is this I hear?” he began. “Did you ride Ajax this evening?”
“Where did you find him?”
“In Col. Vincent’s stable.”
“This is a high-handed proceeding, Frank Courtney. Have you any excuse to offer?”
“None is needed sir. Col. Vincent has given me permission to ride him whenever I please.”
“It appears to me, Mark,” said Mr. Manning, sharply, “that you have made a fool of yourself.”
“How should I know?” replied Mark, mortified by the collapse of his sensation. “Frank didn’t tell me he had leave to use the horse.”
And he left the room, looking foolish.
MARK YIELDS TO TEMPTATION
There are some boys, as well as men, who cannot stand prosperity.
It appeared that Mark Manning was one of these.
While his stepmother was living and his father’s prospects—and consequently his own—were uncertain, he had been circumspect in his behavior and indulged in nothing that could be considered seriously wrong.
When his father came into possession of a large fortune, and his pocket money was doubled, Mark began to throw off some of the restraint which, from motives of prudence, he had put upon himself.
About the middle of the week, as Frank was taking a walk after school hours, he was considerably surprised to see Mark come out of a well-known liquor saloon frequented by men and boys of intemperate habits.
The students of Bridgeville Academy were strictly forbidden this or any other saloon, and I am sure that my boy readers will agree with mo that this rule was a very proper one.
Mark Manning appeared to have been drinking. His face was flushed, and his breath, if one came near enough to him, was redolent of the fumes of alcohol. With him was James Carson, one of the poorest scholars and most unprincipled boys in the academy. It was rather surprising that he had managed for so long to retain his position in the institution, but he was crafty and took good care not to be caught.
To go back a little, it was chiefly owing to James Carson’s influence that Mark had entered the saloon.
When he learned that Mark’s worldly prospects had improved, and that he had a large supply of pocket money, he determined to cultivate his acquaintance—though privately he thought Mark a disagreeable boy—with the intention of obtaining for himself a portion of Mark’s surplus means.
At the first of the term he had made similar advances to Frank, but they were coldly received, so much so that he did not think it worth while to persevere in courting our hero’s intimacy.