Philip’s grief was not violent. He had so long anticipated his father’s death that it gave him only a mild shock.
Friends and neighbors made the necessary arrangements for the funeral, and the last services were performed. Then, at length, Philip realized that he had lost his best earthly friend, and that he was henceforth alone in the world. He did not as yet know that Squire Pope had considerately provided him with a home in the village poorhouse.
Philip at home.
When the funeral was over, Frank Dunbar, whom Philip regarded as his most intimate friend, came up to him.
“Philip,” he said, “my mother would like to have you spend a few days with us while you are deciding what to do.”
“Thank you, Frank!” answered Philip. “But until the auction I shall remain at home. I shall soon enough be without a home.”
“But it will be very lonely for you,” objected Frank.
“No; I shall have my thoughts for company. When I am alone I can think best of my future plans.”
“Won’t you come to our house to meals, then?”
“Thank you, Frank! I will do that.”
“When is the auction to be?”
“To-day is Monday. It is appointed for Thursday.”
“I hope there will be something left for you.”
“There will be about enough left to pay my father’s small debts and his funeral expenses. I would not like to have him indebted to others for those. I don’t think there will be anything over.”
Frank looked perplexed.
“I am sorry for you, Phil,” he said. “I wish we were rich, instead of having hard work to make both ends meet. You would not lack for anything then.”
“Dear Frank,” said Philip earnestly, “I never doubted your true friendship. But I am not afraid that I shall suffer. I am sure I can earn my living.”
“But why do you shut yourself up alone, Philip?” asked Frank, not satisfied to leave his friend in what he considered the gloomy solitude of a house just visited by death.
“I want to look over my father’s papers. I may find out something that I ought to know, and after the auction it will be too late. Father had some directions to give me, but he did not live long enough to do it. For three days I have the house to myself. After that I shall perhaps never visit it again.”
“Don’t be downhearted, Philip,” said Frank, pressing his hand with boyish sympathy.
“I don’t mean to be, Frank. I am naturally cheerful and hopeful. I shall miss my poor father sadly: but grieving will not bring him back. I must work for my living, and as I have no money to depend upon, I cannot afford to lose any time in forming my plans.”
“You will come over to our house and take your meals!”
Frank Dunbar’s father was a small farmer, who, as Frank had said, found it hard work to make both ends meet. Among all the village boys, he was the one whom Philip liked best, though there were many others whose fathers were in hotter circumstances. For this, however, Philip cared little. Rich or poor, Frank suited him, and they had always been known as chums, to adopt the term used by the boys in the village.