“If I do succeed, Herbert, I may be able to find something for you.”
“I wish you might,” Herbert replied; but he was not as sanguine as Frank.
He understood, better than his friend, that for a boy to set out alone into the great world to earn a living is a serious undertaking.
Frank had fixed upon the Tuesday morning succeeding the close of the academic term for his departure from home. Monday was devoted to a few necessary preparations and a few calls on old friends, among them Col. Vincent, the owner of Ajax.
“My dear Frank,” said the colonel, kindly, “I feel a strong interest in your welfare, more especially because of the wrong which I do not scruple to say has been done you. What does Mr. Manning say to your plan?”
“He makes no objection,” said Frank.
“Suppose he had done so?”
“I would not have run away. He is my stepfather and guardian, and I would have endured staying at home as well as I could.”
“There you are right, Frank. Though I have a poor opinion of Mr. Manning, he is not likely to treat you in a manner to justify your going away without his permission. From what I have heard within the last week, I suspect that he feels relieved to have you go.”
“What have you heard, sir?”
“That Mr. Manning will shortly sail for Europe, taking Mark with him.”
Frank was surprised, having no suspicion of this.
“Now are you not sorry that you have decided to go out into the world to earn a living when you might have seen something of the Old World?”
“Mr. Manning would never have taken me along,” answered Frank, quietly, “nor should I have enjoyed traveling with him and Mark.”
“Of the two, who would interfere the more with your enjoyment?”
“Then you prefer the father to the son?” said the colonel.
“The father has much more agreeable manners. I don’t think Mark could be agreeable if he tried.”
Col. Vincent smiled.
“Perhaps you are right, Frank,” he said. “Now, as your father’s old friend, I shall exact a promise from you.”
“What is it, sir?”
“You are going out into the world to earn your own living. Boys of your age are apt to think it an easy thing. I have seen more of life, and I am sure you will find it more difficult than you suppose. You may find yourself in difficulty, possibly in want. In that case, promise to let me know, and I will come to your assistance.”
“I will, sir,” answered Frank.
The time came for Frank to say good-bye to Mr. Manning and Mark, and the house which had been his home from infancy.
His stepfather handed him a small pocketbook.
“Frank,” he said, “in this pocketbook you will find twenty-five dollars. It is not much, but—”