“Captain Ross?” said Abner Holden, interrogatively.
“That’s my name.”
“You are chairman of the selectmen, I believe?”
“I understand that you have a boy that you want to bind out.”
“I reckon you mean Herbert Mason.”
“Yes, I believe that’s the name I heard.”
“Are you in want of a boy?”
“Yes, I am looking out for one.”
“What is your business?”
“I keep a store, but I should want him to work on land part of the time.”
“Do you live hereabouts?”
“Over at Cranston.”
“If you’ll come to the house, we’ll talk the matter over. The boy’s a good boy, and we want to get a good place for him. His mother was a widder, and he’s her only son. He’s a smart, capable lad, and good to work.”
“I’ve no doubt he’ll suit me. I’ll take him on your recommendation.”
“We should want him to go to school winters. He’s a pretty good scholar already. His father was a larned man, and used to teach him before he died. If he had lived, I reckon Herbert would certainly have gone to college.”
“I’ll agree to send him to school in the winter for the next two years,” said Holden, “and will give him board and clothes, and when he’s twenty-one a freedom suit, and a hundred dollars. Will that do?”
“I don’t know but that’s reasonable,” said Captain Ross, slowly. “The boy’s a bit high-spirited, but if you manage him right, I guess you’ll like him.”
“I’ll manage him!” thought Abner Holden. “Can I take him with me to-morrow?” he asked. “I don’t come this way very often.”
“Well, I guess that can be arranged. We’ll go over to Dr. Kent’s after dinner, and see if they can get him ready.”
“In the meantime,” said Holden, afraid that the prize might slip through his fingers, “suppose we make out the papers. I suppose you have full authority in the matter.”
Captain Ross had no objection, and thus poor Herbert was unconsciously delivered over to the tender mercies of a man who had very little love for him.
A DISAGREEABLE SURPRISE
After his collision with the traveler, Herbert hurried on to the mill, intent upon making up for lost time. He was satisfied with having successfully maintained his rights; and, as he had no reason to suppose he should ever again see his unreasonable opponent, dismissed him from his thoughts.
On reaching the mill, he found he should have to remain an hour or two before he could have his grain ground. He was not sorry for this, as it would give him an opportunity to walk around the village.
“I wish,” he thought, “I could get a place in one of the stores here. There’s more going on than there is in Waverley, and I could go over Sundays to see Dr. Kent’s family.”
On the spur of the moment, he resolved to inquire if some of the storekeepers did not require help. There was a large dry-goods store— the largest in the village—kept by Beckford & Keyes. He entered and inquired for the senior partner.