School closed on Thursday, and the students were allowed to remain in the buildings until the following Monday, when, ordinarily, they left. The young men were allowed to provide conveyances for the young ladies to get to the various depots. They esteemed that a very great privilege.
Belton, as you know, was a very poor lad and had but little money. After paying his expenses incident to his graduation, and purchasing a ticket home, he now had just one dollar and a quarter left. Out of this one dollar and a quarter he was to pay for a carriage ride of this young lady friend to the railway station. This, ordinarily, cost one dollar, and Belton calculated on having a margin of twenty-five cents. But you would have judged him the happy possessor of a large fortune, merely to look at him.
The carriage rolled up to the girls’ dormitory and Belton’s friend stood on the steps, with her trunks, three in number. When Belton saw that his friend had three trunks, his heart sank. In order to be sure against exorbitant charges the drivers were always made to announce their prices before the journey was commenced. A crowd of girls was standing around to bid the young lady adieu. In an off-hand way Belton said: “Driver what is your fee?” He replied: “For you and the young lady and the trunks, two dollars, sir.”
Belton almost froze in his tracks, but, by the most heroic struggling, showed no signs of discomfiture on his face. Endeavoring to affect an air of indifference, he said: “What is the price for the young lady and the trunks?”
“One dollar and fifty cents.”
Belton’s eyes were apparently fixed on some spot in the immensity of space. The driver, thinking that he was meditating getting another hackman to do the work, added: “You can call any hackman you choose and you won’t find one who will do it for a cent less.”
Belton’s last prop went with this statement. He turned to his friend smilingly and told her to enter, with apparently as much indifference as a millionaire. He got in and sat by her side; but knew not how on earth he was to get out of his predicament.
The young lady chatted gayly and wondered at Belton’s dullness. Belton, poor fellow, was having a tough wrestle with poverty and was trying to coin something out of nothing. Now and then, at some humorous remark, he would smile a faint, sickly smile. Thus it went on until they arrived at the station. Belton by this time decided upon a plan of campaign.
They alighted from the carriage and Belton escorted his friend into the coach. He then came back to speak to the driver. He got around the corner of the station house, out of sight of the train and beckoned for the driver to come to him. The driver came and Belton said: “Friend, here is one dollar and a quarter. It is all I have. Trust me for the balance until tomorrow.”
“Oh! no,” replied the driver. “I must have my money to-day. I have to report to-night and my money must go in. Just fork over the balance, please.”