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Mark Mason's Victory
by Horatio Alger
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Mrs. Mason surveyed her son with alarm. A terrible suspicion entered her mind. Was he becoming mentally unbalanced? Mark understood her thoughts and was amused.

"Don't think I am crazy, mother," he said. "The fact is, Mr. Rockwell made me a present of a thousand dollars this morning."

"Is this really true? You are not joking?"

"I was never more serious in my life. He told me that I had saved his life, and he didn't think he was overpaying me in giving me a thousand dollars."

"He was right, but I was afraid few men would have been so generous. So I really have a rich son."

"And I shall have a rich mother when she gets her share of her father's estate."

"Oh, by the way, there is a letter for you. Edith, get Mark's letter."

"I guess it's from a girl, Mark," said his sister, as she handed the messenger boy a dainty epistle in a square envelope.

Mark opened it and read it aloud.

Miss Maud Gilbert asks the favor of Mr. Mark Mason's company at her residence on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 23d.

"An invitation to a party," said Mark flushing with pleasure.

"Where, Mark?"

"At the house of Miss Maud Gilbert."

"Shall you go?"

"Yes, I can go now, for I shall have a nice suit."

"You are getting to be fashionable, Mark. Who knows but you will be counted among the Four Hundred some time?"



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE TWO SISTERS MEET.

Solon Talbot had two strong desires. One was to acquire wealth. The other was to get into good society.

He had moved to the city of New York with the idea of helping himself in both these particulars. He took a house on an up-town street at a considerable rental. It was really beyond his means, but he felt that he must make a good appearance.

He sent Edgar to a fashionable school where he instructed him to be especially attentive to his wealthier schoolfellows. Though Edgar made himself disagreeable to his poor relations, he flattered and fawned upon the boys who he thought could help him socially, for he, like his father, was ambitious to "get into society."

Thus he contrived to get invited to the party given by Maud Gilbert.

When he had compassed this he was greatly elated.

"Father," he said on his return home, "I am invited to Miss Gilbert's party next Thursday evening."

"Do you mean the Gilberts of West Forty-Fifth Street?"

"Yes."

"I am very much pleased, Edgar. Mr. Gilbert is a wealthy merchant, and stands very high in society. How did you manage it?"

"Through Stanley Rayburn, who knows her brother."

"Have you made the acquaintance of Miss Gilbert?"

"Yes, I met her walking with Stanley on Fifth Avenue. He introduced me."

"I should hardly think she would have invited you on such short acquaintance."

"I got Stanley to make a personal request of her. She objected at first, but finally came round. Stanley says she is very good-natured and obliging."

"Luckily for you. Well, I am glad you have the invitation. It will be an entering wedge. You must try to get acquainted with as many of her guests as possible."

"Trust me for that, father. I know on which side my bread is buttered."

"I know you are sensible. You quite accord with me in your views on this subject. As for your mother she has no proper pride. She would be contented to associate with persons in the same social position as Mrs. Mason and Mark. This very morning she applied to me for permission to call upon her sister."

"Of course you refused."

"Of course. Not but I would consent if your aunt, instigated by Mark, had not acted in such an extraordinary way about signing a release to me as administrator to your grandfather's estate."

"What is her reason?"

"I suppose she thinks she ought to have more than she has received from it."

"Grandfather was very poor, wasn't he?"

"I didn't think so when he lived, but he left next to nothing after his debts were paid."

"Some people are very unreasonable."

"Of course. I suppose Mrs. Mason and Mark think I ought to make up for their disappointment."

"But you won't, father?"

"Certainly not. I did offer them a hundred dollars out of pity for their poverty, but they are standing out for more."

"It is quite disgusting."

"It is human nature, I suppose," said Mr. Talbot leniently. "I don't know that I am surprised."

Mrs. Talbot was very unlike her husband and son. She was sincerely attached to her sister, and her affection had not been diminished by Mrs. Mason's poverty.

It was her desire to call on her as soon as she arrived in the city, but she stood somewhat in awe of her husband who had positively refused his consent. So she unwillingly gave up the plan for the present, hoping that the time would soon come when she and her sister could meet.

It came two days before the party.

With the money with which Mark supplied her, Mrs. Mason went up town to the well-known store of Arnold & Constable, intending to get dress patterns there.

She had made her purchases and received her bundle.

"Will you have it sent home?" asked the salesman courteously.

"No, thank you."

Mrs. Mason shrank from having the parcel brought to her humble abode in St. Mark's Place.

She was turning to go when she heard her name called in glad and familiar accents.

"Why, Ellen, do I meet you at last?"

"Lucy!" exclaimed Mrs. Mason, as she clasped hands warmly with her sister. "This is a delightful surprise."

"To me also; I thought I should never see you again."

"It is not my fault, Lucy."

"No, no. I know it," answered Mrs. Talbot. "Mr. Talbot is peculiar, as you know. He thinks everything of social rank. Now tell me, how are you getting on?"

"Very poorly till lately, but now better."

"You are not in want? Solon doesn't allow me much money, but——"

"No, Lucy. I want for nothing. Mark is a good boy, and he has been fortunate. You see I have just bought two dress patterns, one for Edith, the other for myself."

"I am glad indeed to hear it. Mark is a telegraph messenger, is he not?"

"Yes."

"I shouldn't think that would pay very well."

"It does not, so far as wages go, but some who have employed him have been liberal."

"Come out with me for a walk. My purchases can wait. We will go to Sixth Avenue, as we are less likely to be seen together than on Broadway."

For an hour the two sisters talked, and it seemed delightful to both to be again together.

"I must go home now," said Mrs. Mason, "as I left Edith alone. Besides it is time for me to prepare supper for Mark. I wish you could go with me."

"I would, Ellen, but Mr. Talbot would be angry."

"Do you think he is justified in keeping you away from your only sister?"

"No, but, Ellen, I am ready to make a sacrifice for a quiet life."

"Can't we meet again?"

"Yes; I will go to Arnold & Constable's next week on the same day and at the same hour. I wish I could invite you to my house, but you know how matters stand."

"Yes I know. Mr. Talbot appears to have increased his property."

"Yes, I judge so, though I receive no larger allowance. But he tells me very little of his affairs. He is more confidential with Edgar than myself."

"I have seen Edgar. He came to my rooms with his father some time since. He is about the age of Mark."

"Yes; there is not over a month's difference between them."

"If Mr. Talbot was different they would be company for each other. I believe Mark meets Edgar occasionally in the street. I hope Edgar is a comfort to you."

"He is my son, and of course I love him; but, Ellen; I fear his father is not exercising a good influence upon him. He is making him proud and arrogant. I would not mention this except to you."

At this moment Mark, going up-town on an errand in a Sixth Avenue car, saw his mother and his aunt together on the sidewalk. He instantly left the car and joined them.

"How do you do, Aunt Lucy?" he said, his face lighting up.

"And this is Mark!" said Mrs. Talbot equally pleased. "How you have grown and how well you look!"

"Thank you, aunt. I am tall enough to look over my mother's head."

"As Edgar is taller than I. Your mother tells me you meet Edgar sometimes."

"Yes, Aunt Lucy," returned Mark smiling, "but he doesn't care to be very intimate with his poor relations."

Mrs. Talbot looked grave.

"You won't suspect me of the same feeling, Mark?" she said.

"No; you are too much like mother."

"I am glad to hear that you are doing well."

"Yes; I have been fortunate."

"I wish you were in a better position. Perhaps Mr. Talbot might interest himself to get you a better place."

"No, aunt, don't ask him. I have other friends who will help me when I wish to make a change. For the present I am content to remain as I am."

Mark excused himself and boarded the next car, as he did not wish to lose any time.

The sisters separated and Mrs. Mason went home feeling cheered by her unexpected interview with Mrs. Talbot.

When she returned to her humble home Edith said, "Mrs. Mack wants to see you. I think she is very sick. A gentleman came to see her, but I don't know whether it was a doctor."

Mrs. Mason went up stairs immediately.

The old lady was lying on the bed, looking fatigued.

"How do you do, Mrs. Mack?" said Mrs. Mason kindly.

"I feel tired, but I am strong—oh, yes, I am very strong. I think I shall live ten years," and the old woman peered anxiously into Mrs. Mason's face hoping for a confirmation of her opinion.

"I hope you will if you desire it. Edith tells me you have had a visit from the doctor."

"No, it was not the doctor; it was a lawyer. I have made my will."

Mrs. Mason looked surprised.

"Not that I have much to leave, but I don't want my nephew to get anything. If anything happens to me—some years hence—I would like you to call on my lawyer and tell him. He has an office at 132 Nassau Street. Mr. Page. You will remember?"

"Yes."

"He has my will. I didn't want to leave it here. It might be stolen, or mislaid, and then Jack Minton would inherit. You'll put down the address?"

"I will do it at once."

"That is all. I think I will sleep now."

"I wonder who will inherit the old lady's money," thought Mrs. Mason. "Very probably she has left it to some charitable society. I know of no other relation except Jack Minton."



CHAPTER XXV.

MAUD GILBERT'S PARTY.

Edgar Talbot looked forward with eager anticipation to the evening of Maud Gilbert's party. It was to be his introduction into New York society.

He flattered himself that his appearance would win him favor. Though far from handsome, he thought himself so—a delusion not uncommon among boys and men. He dressed himself very carefully, and at the proper time set out for the house where the party was to be held. He and Stanley Rayburn had agreed to go together.

On reaching the house they were directed to the room set apart for gentlemen to arrange their toilet and leave their coats. The mansion was brilliantly decorated, and as Edgar went up-stairs he felt a thrill of exultation at being a guest in such a house.

He inwardly resolved that he would take advantage of his slight acquaintance with the Gilberts and push himself into intimate friendship. In that way he would be in a position to extend his acquaintance among fashionable people.

But a surprise and a shock were in store for him. As he entered the room he saw a boy standing in front of the mirror brushing his hair. He started in surprise.

The figure looked familiar. Could it be! Yes, it was his cousin Mark Mason—Mark Mason, handsomely dressed in party costume, and with a rose in his button-hole.

Mark turned round to see who were the newcomers.

"Good evening, Edgar," said Mark.

"You here!" exclaimed Edgar, in unqualified amazement.

"Yes; I did not expect to have the pleasure of meeting you," answered Mark with an amused smile. He understood Edgar's surprise, and the reason of it.

Meanwhile Stanley Rayburn stood by in silence.

"Introduce me to your friend, Edgar," he said, for he was attracted by Mark's frank, handsome face.

"Mark Mason—Stanley Rayburn!" said Edgar awkwardly. He would have liked to decline introducing Stanley to his poor cousin, but there seemed to be no way of avoiding it.

"I am glad to make your acquaintance, Mr. Mason," said Stanley cordially.

"Thank you, but don't call me Mr. Mason."

"I would rather say Mark. Any friend of Edgar——"

"Mark Mason and I are only acquaintances," said Edgar hurriedly, and in the worst possible taste.

"I hope that we shall be friends," said Stanley with emphasis, thinking that Edgar was a cad.

"I hope so too," rejoined Mark earnestly, "if, after getting my 'character' from Edgar," he added with a smile, "you still wish it."

Stanley was a little puzzled, not knowing how Mark was regarded by his companion.

"I think I shall go down at once," said Stanley. "I don't think I require any finishing touches to my toilet."

"Be ready to go with me to Miss Gilbert," said Edgar. "I will follow you in a minute."

"Very well."

"Now," said Edgar, when he and his cousin were alone, "how do you happen to be here?"

"By Miss Gilbert's invitation, of course. I suppose that is the case with you."

"Certainly. Does she know that you are a telegraph boy?"

"Yes."

"That's strange. Did you ever meet her?"

"Oh, yes; I have spent the evening here two or three times."

"That's queer. By the way, you seem to be very nicely dressed."

"I am glad you like my suit."

"Yet you are as poor as poverty. It was a crazy idea to run into debt for an expensive suit."

"I didn't run into debt. My suit is paid for."

"Yet your mother claims to be very poor."

"We are getting along better now."

"It would have been wiser for you to save the money you spent on this suit and keep it for rent and food."

"Your advice is very kind, Edgar, but I really feel that I can manage my own business."

"Oh, well, if you choose to resent my good advice——"

"I don't. I hope it springs from your interest in me."

During this conversation Edgar was brushing his hair carefully and "prinking" before the glass, for he was anxious to appear as fascinating as possible when he presented himself to Miss Gilbert.

"Shall we go down?" asked Mark.

"Yes, perhaps we may as well. I suppose you would feel awkward entering the drawing-room alone."

"Perhaps so," said Mark smiling.

As the two presented themselves in the room below Edgar looked about for Stanley, but did not see him.

"I wonder where Stanley has disappeared to," he said in a tone of vexation. "He promised to go up with me to Miss Gilbert."

"If he doesn't show up, Edgar, I shall be glad to take his place. As you have only recently come to the city, I suppose you don't know her well."

"I only met her once," Edgar admitted, "and she may not remember me."

"Then come with me."

Almost against his wishes Edgar found himself walking up to the other end of the room with his despised cousin. He would not have believed it possible if this had been predicted to him an hour earlier.

"Good evening, Mark! I am glad to see you here," said Maud Gilbert, with a pleasant smile.

"Let me present Mr. Edgar Talbot," said Mark after a suitable acknowledgment.

"I had the pleasure of meeting you when in company with Stanley Rayburn," explained Edgar.

"Oh, yes, I remember. And so you are also acquainted with Mark."

"Yes," answered Edgar, rather awkwardly. "I expected Mr. Rayburn to present me."

"You have found a sponsor equally good," returned Maud.

Then the two walked on, giving place to others.

"You seem to know Miss Gilbert very well," said Edgar in a tone of curiosity.

"Yes."

"It is strange. I don't understand it."

Edgar was relieved to find that Mark did not claim him as a cousin, though to his surprise he saw that Mark stood particularly well with the young hostess.

"How do you, Mark?" The speaker was a bright boy of sixteen, the brother of Miss Gilbert. "How well you are looking!"

"Thank you, Charlie. If a young lady had told me that it would make me proud."

"Come along. I will introduce you to a couple of nice girls."

"Who is that?" asked Edgar of Rayburn, who had now come up.

"Don't you know? That is Charlie Gilbert, Maud's brother."

"So he knows Mark, too."

"Why shouldn't he?"

"Because Mark is—you will be surprised to hear it—a common telegraph boy."

"He may be a telegraph boy, but he certainly is not a common one. He is a nice-looking fellow, and I am glad to know him."

Presently dancing began. In his earlier days, when his father was living, Mark had taken lessons from a teacher, and though he was rather out of practise he ventured to go out on the floor, having as his partner one of the prettiest girls in the room.

As there was space for but two sets of dancers, Edgar was obliged to sit still and see the others dance. He felt very much dissatisfied especially as Mark seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly.

"Society in New York seems to be very much mixed," he said to himself, "when telegraph boys can push in and make themselves so conspicuous in rich men's houses."

Edgar got a chance to dance once later on, but the girl he danced with was very small and insignificant in appearance.

* * * * *

"Well, what kind of a time did you have?" asked Solon Talbot when his son returned home.

"Very good."

"I suppose it was quite a brilliant affair," said Solon Talbot complacently. "I am glad to have you invited to such a swell house. Did Stanley Rayburn take you up to Miss Gilbert?"

"No; he promised to, but when I looked for him he was not to be found."

"That was awkward."

"No; I found a substitute, a boy whom you and I both know."

"I have no idea whom you can mean."

"No; you might guess all night, but without success. It was Mark Mason."

"What! You don't mean to say that Mark Mason was a guest at the party?"

"Yes he was, and he seemed very well acquainted too."

"Was he in his telegraph uniform?"

"No; he had on a nice new suit, as handsome as mine. He had a rose in his button-hole and looked quite like a dude."

"How very extraordinary!" ejaculated Solon.

"I thought you would say so."

"Why, they are living from hand to mouth, steeped in poverty."

"So I thought, but it doesn't seem like it."

"The boy must be very cheeky, but even so, I can't account for his success. I shall have to call on his mother and ask what it means."



CHAPTER XXVI.

AN IMPORTANT COMMISSION.

A week later Mark received the following letter:

"Mark Mason: Please call at my office as soon as convenient.

"D. GILBERT."

"This letter is from Maud Gilbert's father," said Mark, addressing his mother. "I wonder what he wants."

"Nothing disagreeable, I am sure. Of course you will go."

"I will call to-morrow morning."

Mr. Gilbert was a commission merchant, with an office in the lower part of the city, west of Broadway. Mark obtained leave of absence for an hour agreeing to pay the price usually charged to customers.

He had seen Mr. Gilbert, a stout, portly man of fifty, during his call at the house in Forty-Fifth Street. Therefore when he was admitted to Mr. Gilbert's office, he addressed him not as a stranger but as an old acquaintance.

"I received your note, Mr. Gilbert, and have called according to your request."

"That is right, Mark. Sit down till I have finished looking over my letters. You will find the morning Herald on the table near you."

In ten minutes the merchant had finished with his letters, and whirled round in his chair.

"I believe you are a telegraph boy," he said.

"Yes, sir."

"What pay do you receive?"

"I don't average over six dollars a week."

"How old are you?"

"Sixteen."

"My daughter thinks you are unusually bright and intelligent."

"I am very much obliged to Miss Maud for her good opinion," said Mark, his face flushing with gratification.

"How can you get along on six dollars a week? You have a mother partially dependent upon you, I believe."

"I have lately had a present of a thousand dollars from Mr. Luther Rockwell, the banker. I was in his office when a dynamite crank threatened to blow us all up."

"I heartily congratulate you, Mark. You deserved the gift for your coolness and courage, but it isn't every rich man who would make so generous an acknowledgment for your services."

"That's true, sir. Mr. Rockwell has been very kind."

"How do you like the position of telegraph boy?"

"I would like to give it up. It doesn't lead to anything. But I don't want to throw myself out of work. Six dollars a week is a small income, but it is better than nothing."

"I approve your prudence, but I think other and better employment can be obtained for you. Maud tells me that you were sent not long since to Cleveland with some valuable jewelry."

"Yes, sir."

"You succeeded in your mission?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you meet with any adventures while you were gone?"

"Yes, sir."

"Tell me briefly what they were."

Mark did so.

"Don't think I am influenced by curiosity," said Mr. Gilbert. "The fact is, I have a still longer journey for you if you don't object, and I wished to assure myself that you were adequate to undertake it. It may take six weeks, or it may take two months. I should advise you to give up your position as messenger, and I will guarantee you an equally good place when you return."

"Thank you, sir. In that case I won't hesitate to give it up."

"Your week closes to-morrow, I suppose."

"Yes, sir."

"Then give notice at once."

"Where are you going to send me, sir?" asked Mark, with pardonable curiosity.

"To California."

Mark looked amazed. He knew that California was even further away than Liverpool, and having the love of travel and adventure natural to boys of his age he felt that he should thoroughly enjoy the trip.

"I should like very much to go," he said promptly.

"Now I must tell you why I send you. A cousin of mine has just died in California, leaving a young son of ten years of age. He wrote me a letter from his death-bed commending the boy to my care. I will gladly undertake the charge of the boy, as I had a strong regard for his father, who, by the way had died poor.

"But a difficulty presented itself. The boy could not come East by himself, and there seemed no one to bring him. Of course I can't leave my business, and there is no one else in my family who can be sent. Under these circumstances Maud has recommended me to send you."

"I shall be glad to go, sir."

"You are a rather young guardian for a young boy, but I think you possess the necessary qualification. Your experience as a telegraph boy has made you sharp and self-reliant, and altogether I think you will acquit yourself to my satisfaction."

"I will try to, sir."

"I need no assurance of that."

"How am I to go?"

"By the Union and Central Pacific Road from Omaha. I will supply you with a through ticket."

"Shall you wish me to return immediately?"

"No; you can stay in California two or three weeks and get acquainted with the boy. I have never seen him, but I think you won't find him troublesome. Are you fond of children?"

"Very, sir."

"The poor boy will need a kind friend, having lost his father so recently. And now, there is one thing more to be spoken of—your compensation."

"I shall be satisfied with whatever you think right."

"Then we will fix that after your return. But you will need to leave some money with your mother to pay expenses while you are away."

"I can draw from Mr. Rockwell."

"No; if you have money in his hands let it remain. I will advance you a hundred dollars to leave with your mother. I may as well do that now. On Saturday evening, when you are released from your present position, call at the house and receive your ticket and final instructions."

"Thank you, sir."

Mr. Gilbert rang a little bell, and a boy appeared.

"Go to the bank and get this check cashed," said the merchant.

In a few minutes he returned with a roll of bills.

"Count them over and see if they are right, Mark."

"Yes, sir; they are correct."

"Very good! Remember that they are for your mother. Tell her also that if you remain longer than I anticipate, and she gets short of money, she can call at my office and I will supply her with more."

Mark left the office in a state of joyful excitement.

He was to make a long journey across the continent. He would see many states and cities, and become acquainted with places which he now knew only by hearsay. And after he returned his prospects would be brighter, for Mr. Gilbert had promised to find him a position at least equal to the one he resigned.

In the afternoon as Mark was returning from an errand in West Fiftieth Street, he saw Edgar Talbot in the neighborhood of Bryant Park.

"Hallo!" said Edgar condescendingly. "Are you on an errand?"

"Yes."

"Ho, ho! how you will look in a telegraph boy's uniform when you are a young man of twenty-five."

"What makes you think I am going to be a telegraph boy so long?"

"Because you are not fit for any other business."

Mark smiled.

"I am sorry for that," he said, "for as it happens I have tendered my resignation."

"You don't mean that you are going to leave the messenger service?"

"Yes."

"But how are you going to live? It won't be any use to ask father for money."

"I presume not."

"Perhaps," suggested Edgar hopefully, "you have been discharged."

"I discharged myself."

"Have you got another position?"

"I am going to travel for a while."

Edgar Talbot was more and more perplexed. In fact he had always found Mark a perplexing problem.

"How can you travel without money?"

"Give it up. I don't propose to."

"Have you got any money?"

Mark happened to have with him the roll of bills given him for his mother. He drew it out.

"Do you mean to say that is yours? How much is there?"

"A hundred dollars."

"I don't believe it is yours."

"It isn't. It belongs to my mother."

"But father said she was very poor."

"At any rate this money belongs to her."

"Where are you going to travel?"

"Out West."

This was all the information Mark would give. Edgar reported the conversation to his father, who was also perplexed.

"Mark Mason is a strange boy," he said. "I don't understand him."



CHAPTER XXVII.

LAST INSTRUCTIONS.

Mark had intended to find a new and more comfortable place for his mother, being dissatisfied with their humble rooms in St. Mark's Place, but the journey he was called upon so unexpectedly to make, led to a postponement of this plan.

"You can move, mother, if you like," said Mark, after placing the hundred dollars in her hands. "You'll have money enough."

"That's true, Mark, but you wouldn't know how to address me, and I might lose some of your letters. I shall be satisfied to stay here till you return. But do you think you had better go? You are very young to cross the continent alone."

"I am nearly sixteen, mother, and I have been in the habit of looking out for myself. Besides Mr. Gilbert thinks I am old enough, and if he has confidence in me I ought to have confidence in myself."

"I suppose it is all right, but I shall miss you terribly."

"It is for my good, and will be for yours, mother. I have long wanted to leave the messenger service and get into some steady position where I can push myself ahead, and this seems to me my chance."

"You will write often, Mark?"

"I will be sure to do that. You don't think I will forget my mother?"

On Saturday evening Mark went to Mr. Gilbert's to receive instructions.

"I must tell you something about the boy of whom you are to be temporary guardian," said Mr. Gilbert. "Perhaps it will be best for me to read you in the first place the letter I received from my poor cousin just before his death. It was written at his dictation, for he was already too weak to hold the pen."

He drew from a desk this letter which he proceeded to read aloud:

"GULCHVILLE, CALIFORNIA,

"Oct. 17.

"MY DEAR COUSIN,

"When this letter reaches you I shall in all probability be in a better world. I am dying of consumption. I leave behind me a boy of ten—my poor little Philip. I leave him to the mercies of a cold world, for I am penniless. I had a little property once, but I speculated and lost all. Poor Philip will be an orphan and destitute. I know you are rich and prosperous. Won't you, in your generosity, agree to care for my poor boy? He won't require much, and I shall be content to have him reared plainly, but I don't want him to suffer.

"I am sick at the house of a cousin of my wife. He is a mean man, and his wife is also penurious and mean. They have made my sickness still more bitter by their taunts. They complain that I am an expense to them, and they would turn me out of doors, sick as I am, I am convinced, if they were not ashamed to do so. Poor Philip will be left to their tender mercies, but I hope only for a short time. I can bear to suffer myself, but I can't bear to think of his suffering. He is a sensitive boy, not over strong, and ill-fitted to bear the buffetings of a cold and unkind world. Won't you send for him as soon as you can? In your hands I am sure he will be safe and kindly cared for.

"I am getting very tired and must stop. God bless you!

"Your unfortunate cousin,

"JOHN LILLIS.

"P. S. The man in whose house I am stopping is named Nahum Sprague."

"You see, Mark, your mission will be one of mercy. The sooner the poor boy is rescued from such people as Mr. and Mrs. Sprague the better for him. By the way, I don't want them to say my cousin has been an expense to them. Therefore I will authorize you to obtain from them an itemized account of what they have spent for him and the boy and pay it. You will see that they don't impose upon me by presenting too large a bill."

"Yes, sir. I will look sharply after your interests."

"I shall give you more than enough to get you to San Francisco, and I will give you a letter to a firm there, authorizing you to draw upon them for any sum you may require up to a thousand dollars."

"But that will be a great deal more than I shall need."

"I presume so, but I give you so large a credit to use in case of emergencies."

"You are trusting me very far, Mr. Gilbert."

"I am aware of that, but I feel entirely safe in doing so."

"Thank you, sir."

Other directions were given, and it was agreed that Mark should start on his long journey on Monday morning.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

MARK AT OMAHA.

Some days later Mark found himself at Omaha. Here he was to transfer himself to the Union Pacific Railroad; at that time the only Pacific road built with the exception of the Central Pacific, which formed with it a continuous line to San Francisco. Mark decided to remain in Omaha for a single day and then take the train for his destination.

At the hotel Mark found himself sitting next to a man with bronzed face and rough attire who embodied his ideas of a miner. The stranger during the meal devoted himself strictly to business, but going out of the dining-room at the same time with Mark he grew sociable.

"Well, young pard.," he said, "what's your trail?"

Mark looked puzzled.

"I mean which way are you going—East or West?"

"I am going to San Francisco."

"Ever been there before?"

Mark shook his head.

"I never was as far West as this before," he answered. "I came from New York."

"So I thought. You look like a tenderfoot. Are you going out to stay?"

"Only a short time. I am going after a young boy. I am going to carry him back with me."

"A kid, eh? You're not much more than a kid yourself."

"I guess I can take care of myself," said Mark with a smile.

"Shouldn't wonder. You look like it. Nothing soft about you."

"I hope I haven't got a soft head. As to my heart, I hope that isn't hard."

"Good for you. I reckon you're a likely kind of boy."

"I suppose you have been to California," said Mark, thinking it his turn to ask questions.

"Yes; I've been on the coast for three years, more or less."

"How do you like it out there?"

"Well, I've had my ups and downs. A year ago, six months for that matter, I was dead broke."

"Did your luck change?"

"Not till I struck Nevada. Then I got a small interest in the Golden Hope mine——"

"The Golden Hope mine?" exclaimed Mark in excitement.

"Do you know anything of that mine, youngster?"

"Yes; I have a—a friend who owns some stock in it."

"Then your friend is in luck. Why, do you know where the stock stands to-day?"

"No, but I should like to know."

"At 110."

Mark's eyes sparkled with joyous excitement.

"Is it possible?" he exclaimed.

"It's so. I've got a block of a hundred shares myself, which I bought eighteen months ago for a song. I give you my word I didn't think it worth more than a dollar or two a share—what I gave—when I learned not long since that they'd struck it rich, and I was no longer a pauper."

"That's good news for me," said Mark slowly.

"Why? Have you got any of it?"

"My mother is entitled to two hundred shares from her father's estate."

"Whew! Have you come out to see about it?"

"No; that was not my object, but I shall find what I can about it."

"You're in luck."

"Well, perhaps so. But my uncle is trying to cheat my mother out of it."

"Then he must be a rascal. Tell me about it."

The man looked sympathetic and trustworthy, and Mark without hesitation told him the story as it is already known to the reader.

"Do you think the stock has reached its highest point?" he asked anxiously.

"No; it will probably rise to two hundred."

"Then my uncle probably won't close it out just at present."

"No; he will hear how the matter stands, and if he is sharp he will hold on."

"I am glad of that, for I want a little time to decide how to act."

"I am going to stop at the mine on my way to 'Frisco."

"I will give you my address and ask you to write me a line to the care of my banker there, letting me know what you can about the mine."

"All right, boy! I like you, and I'll do it. When do you start?"

"To-morrow."

"We'll start together, and I'll get off the train in Nevada."



CHAPTER XXIX.

NAHUM SPRAGUE AND HIS ORPHAN WARD.

Leaving Mark on his way we will precede him, and carry the reader at once to Gulchville, in California, where he was to find the young boy of whom Mr. Gilbert had requested him to take charge.

In an unpainted frame house lived Mr. Nahum Sprague. In New England such a building would hardly have cost over five hundred dollars, but here it had been erected at more than double the expense by the original owner. When he became out of health and left California it was bought for a trifling price by Nahum Sprague.

The latter was a man of forty-five with small eyes and a face prematurely wrinkled. He was well-to-do, but how he had gained his money no one knew. He and his wife, however, were mean and parsimonious.

They had one son, a boy of fifteen, who resembled them physically and mentally. He was named Oscar, after a gentleman of wealth, in the hope that at his death the boy would be remembered. Unfortunately for Oscar the gentleman died without a will and his namesake received nothing.

The disappointed parents would gladly have changed the boy's name, but Oscar would not hear of it, preferring the name that had become familiar.

This was the family whose grudging hospitality had embittered the last days of John Lillis, and to them he was obliged to commit the temporary guardianship of his little son Philip.

In the field adjoining, Philip Lillis, a small pale boy, was playing when Oscar Sprague issued from the house.

"Come here, you little brat!" he said harshly.

Philip looked with a frightened expression.

"What do you want of me?" he asked.

"What do I want? Come here and see."

The little fellow approached.

He was received with a sharp slap in the face.

"Why do you hit me, Oscar?" Philip asked tearfully.

"Because you didn't come quicker," answered the young tyrant.

"I didn't know you were in a hurry."

"Well, you know it now."

"You wouldn't have hit me when papa was alive," said Philip with a flash of spirit.

"Well, he isn't alive, see?"

"I know he isn't, and I am alone in the world."

"Well, don't snivel! If anything makes me sick at the stomach it is to see a boy snivel."

"Maybe you'd cry if your papa was dead."

"There ain't much fear. The old man's too tough," responded Oscar, who had no sentimental love for his father. Indeed, it would have been surprising if he had shown any attachment to Nahum Sprague, who was about as unattractive in outward appearance as he was in character and disposition.

"You didn't tell me what you wanted me to do."

"Just wait till I tell you, smarty. Do you see this bottle?"

"Yes."

"Take it to the saloon and get it full of whisky."

"Papa didn't want me to go into a liquor saloon."

"Well, your papa ain't got nothing to do with you now. See? You just do as I tell you."

Philip took the bottle unwillingly and started for the saloon.

"Mind you don't drink any of it on the way home," called out Oscar.

"As if I would," said Philip indignantly. "I don't drink whisky and I never will."

"Oh, you're an angel!" sneered Oscar. "You're too good for this world. Ain't you afraid you'll die young, as they say good boys do?"

"I don't believe you'll die young, Oscar."

"Hey? Was that meant for an insult? But never mind! I don't pretend to be one of the goody-goody Sunday-school kids. Now mind you don't loiter on the way."

Oscar sat down on the doorstep and began to whittle.

The door opened and his father came out.

"Why didn't you go to the saloon as I told you?" he asked hastily.

"It's all the same. I sent Philip."

"You sent that boy? He ain't fit to send on such an errand."

"Why ain't he? He can ask to have the bottle filled, can't he?"

"What did he say? Was he willing to go?"

"He said his papa," mimicked Oscar, "didn't want him to go into a liquor saloon."

"He did, hey? All the more reason for making him go. His poverty-stricken father can't help him now. Why, I am keeping the boy from starving."

"Are you going to keep him always, dad?"

"I ought to turn him over to the town, but folks would talk. There's a man in New York that his father said would send for him. I don't know whether he will or not. There's a matter of fifty dollars due to me for burying John Lillis. That's the way I get imposed upon."

Philip kept on his way to the saloon. He was a timid, sensitive boy, and he shrank from going into the place which was generally filled with rough men. Two miners were leaning against the front of the wooden shanty used for the sale of liquor when Philip appeared.

As he passed in one said to the other, "Well, I'll be jiggered if here isn't a kid comin' for his liquor. I say, kid, what do you want?"

"Some whisky," answered Philip timidly.

"How old are you?"

"Ten."

"I say, young 'un, you're beginnin' early."

"I don't want it for myself," returned Philip half indignantly.

"Oh, no, of course not. You won't take a sip yourself, of course not."

"No, I won't. My papa never drank whisky, and he told me not to."

"Where is your papa?"

"Gone to Heaven."

The miner whistled.

"Then who sent you for whisky?"

"Mr. Sprague."

"Old Nahum?"

"His name is Nahum."

"I thought he was too mean to buy whisky. Do you live with him?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is he any kin to you?"

"No," answered Philip quickly.

"Does he treat you well?"

"I don't like to answer such questions," said Philip guardedly.

"I suppose you are afraid to. Did your father leave any money?"

"No," answered Philip sadly.

"Then I understand how it is. Do you expect to keep on living with Mr. Sprague?"

"Papa wrote to a gentleman in New York. I expect he will send for me."

"I hope he will for your sake, poor little chap. Well, go on and get your whisky. I don't want to take up your time."

As Philip entered the first speaker remarked, "Well, Bill, I don't pretend to be an angel, but I wouldn't send a kid like that for whisky. I drink it myself, but I wouldn't want a boy like that to go for it. I'd go myself."

"I agree with you," said Bill. "That Sprague ain't of much account any way. I'd lick him myself for a dollar. He's about as mean as they make 'em."



CHAPTER XXX.

PHILIP FINDS A FRIEND.

When the two unauthorized ministers of justice had departed Oscar and his father looked at each other in anger and stupefaction.

"It's an outrage!" exclaimed Nahum Sprague.

"I'd like to shoot them!" returned Oscar. "I'd like to see them flayed within an inch of their lives."

"So would I. They are the most audacious desperadoes I ever encountered."

"Do you know them, dad?"

"Yes; they are Bill Murphy and Joe Hastings. They are always hanging round the drinking saloon."

"We can lick Philip at any rate!" said Oscar, with a furious look at poor Phil. "He brought it on us."

But Nahum Sprague was more prudent. He had heard the threat of Bill and Joe to repeat the punishment if Philip were attacked, and he thought it best to wait.

"Leave it to me," he said. "I'll flog him in due time."

"Ain't you going to do anything to him, dad?" asked Oscar in disappointment.

"Yes. Come here, you, sir!"

Phil approached his stern guardian with an uncomfortable sense of something unpleasant awaiting him.

Nahum Sprague seized him by the collar and said, "Follow me."

He pushed the boy before him and walked him into the house, then up the stairs into an attic room, where he locked him in. Just then the bell rang for dinner.

Poor Phil was hungry, but nothing was said about dinner for him. A dread suspicion came to him that he was to be starved. But half an hour later the door opened, and Oscar appeared with two thin slices of bread without butter.

"Here's your dinner," he said.

It was a poor enough provision for a hungry boy, but Phil ate them with relish, Oscar looking on with an amused smile.

"Is that all I am to have?" asked Phil.

"Yes; it is all you deserve."

"I don't know what I have done."

"You don't, hey? You broke the bottle and spilled the whisky."

"I wouldn't have done it if you hadn't pushed me."

"There you go, laying it off on me. You'd better not."

"But it's true, Oscar."

"No, it isn't. You broke the bottle to spite pa."

"I wouldn't have dared to do it," said Philip.

"You dared a little too much, anyway. Didn't you get those men to follow you and interfere with what was none of their business?"

"No, I didn't."

"Hadn't you spoken with them at the saloon?"

"Yes."

"I thought so."

"They asked me who sent me for the whisky and I told them."

"You didn't need to tell them. If it hadn't been for that they wouldn't have come round to our place and assaulted pa and me. They'll catch it, pa says. Shouldn't wonder if they'd be put in prison for five years."

Young as he was Phil put no faith in this ridiculous statement, but he thought it best not to make any comment.

"How long is your father going to keep me here?" he asked.

"Maybe a month."

This opened a terrible prospect to poor Phil, who thought Mr. Sprague quite capable of inflicting such a severe punishment.

"If he does I won't live through it," he said desperately.

"You don't mean to kill yourself!" said Oscar, startled.

"No, but I shall starve. I am awfully hungry now."

"What, after eating two slices of bread?"

"They were very thin, and I have exercised a good deal."

"Then I advise you to make it up with pa. If you get down on your knees and tell him you are sorry, perhaps he will forgive you, and let you out."

Phil did not feel willing to humiliate himself in that way, and remained silent.

"There ain't any bed for me to sleep on," he said, looking around.

"You will have to sleep on the floor. I guess you'll get enough of it."

Oscar locked the door on the outside and went down-stairs. Disagreeable as he was Phil was sorry to have him go. He was some company, and when left to himself there was nothing for him to do. If there had been any paper or book in the room it would have helped him tide over the time, but the apartment was bare of furniture.

There was one window looking out on the side of the house. Phil posted himself at this, and soon saw Oscar and his father leave the premises and go down the street. Nahum had a bottle in his hand, and Phil concluded he was going to the drinking saloon to get a fresh bottle of whisky.

Phil continued to look out of the window.

Presently he saw a boy pass whom he knew—a boy named Arthur Burks.

He opened the window and called out eagerly, "Arthur!"

Arthur turned round and looking up espied Philip.

"Hello!" he cried. "What are you doing up there?"

"I am locked in."

"What for?"

"I accidentally dropped a bottle of whisky, and spilled it. Mr. Sprague got mad and locked me up here."

"That's a shame. How long have you got to stay?"

"Oscar says he may keep me here a month."

"He's only frightening you. Old Sprague wouldn't dare to do it."

"That isn't all. I am half starved. He only gave me two small slices of bread for dinner."

"He's a mean old hunks. I just wish you could come round to our house. We'd give you enough to eat."

"I wish I were there now," sighed Philip.

"I've got an idea," said Arthur, brightening up. "What time do Mr. Sprague and Oscar go to bed?"

"Very early. About nine o'clock."

"Would you run away if you could?"

"Yes."

"Then I'll tell you what I'll do. At half-past nine Albert Frost and I will come around with a tall ladder—Mr. Frost has got one—and we'll put it up against your window. Will you dare to get out of the window, and come down?"

"Yes, I'll do anything to get away. But can you get the ladder?"

"Yes; Albert will manage it. Do you think the old man will be likely to see or hear us?"

"No; he sleeps on the other side of the house."

"All right! You can expect us. I guess I had better go now, for fear I may be seen, and they might suspect something."

"But where can I go when I leave here?"

"Come to our house. You can sleep with Rob, my little brother."

"Thank you, Arthur. I'll expect you."

Philip felt a good deal more cheerful after Arthur had gone. He knew that in Arthur's house he would be very differently treated from what he had been by Nahum Sprague. He did not feel it wrong to leave the Spragues', as they were constantly complaining that he was a burden.

"If Mr. Burks would only let me live with him," he thought, "I should be happy, and I would be willing to work hard."

At half-past five Oscar came up to the room again, this time accompanied by his father.

"How do you like being locked up here?" asked Nahum.

"Not very well."

"Get down on your knees and beg my pardon for your bad conduct, and I will let you out."

"I would rather not, sir."

"Do you hear that, Oscar? He would rather not."

"I heard it, pa."

"It is only right that he should suffer the penalty of his headstrong conduct. Give him his supper and we will leave him to think of his sinfulness."

Oscar produced two more thin slices of bread and a cup of very weak tea.

"You are not entitled to tea," said Nahum. "It is only because we are kind-hearted that I permitted Mrs. Sprague to send up a cup. I have not put in milk or sugar because I refuse to pamper you."

Philip made no comment, but disposed of the tea and bread in a very short space of time. He felt ready to join in with Oliver, in Dickens's immortal story, when he asked for "more." But he knew it would be of no use.

"Now, we will go down, Oscar."

"All right, pa. I hope the house won't catch fire in the night," he added, with the laudable purpose of terrifying Philip, "for we might not be able to come up and unlock the door."

Philip felt uncomfortable, but he reflected that before many hours, if Arthur Burks kept his promise, he would no longer be an inmate of Mr. Sprague's home.

"He'll have a sweet time sleeping on the floor, pa," said Oscar as they went down-stairs.

"It will serve the little fool right," returned Nahum Sprague grimly.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE MINING STOCK IS SOLD.

"But I understood that you were poor," said Mr. Rockwell, surprised at Mark's statement.

"That we are so is because Mr. Talbot as executor has concealed from my mother the existence of the stock as a part of grandfather's estate."

"How long since you grandfather died?"

"Nearly two years."

"And the stock is only now to be sold?"

"Yes; my uncle had advices that it would be well to wait, as it was likely to go up."

"And your mother's share is half—say, two hundred shares?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then she will be comfortable for life. At the price I am thinking of paying, this will amount to over fifty thousand dollars. Now can you give me any information about the mine?"

"Yes, sir; I made it my business to inquire. It is confidently expected to go considerably higher. It is growing richer every day."

"I shall rely upon your statements and buy the stock. After it is sold I advise you to take immediate steps to secure your share. Have you consulted a lawyer?"

"Yes; a young man."

"In a matter of this importance an older and more experienced lawyer will be better, I will give you a note to my own lawyer."

"Thank you, sir."

"I am now going to the office of Crane & Lawton where I shall meet your uncle, and conclude the business. Come here in less than two hours and I may be able to tell you the result."

"I will do so."

Solon Talbot was much elated when informed by Crane & Lawton that they had found a purchaser for his mining stock in the person of Luther Rockwell, the well-known banker.

"Do you think he would stand a higher price?" asked Talbot.

"It would not be wise to ask it."

"He is very rich. He could afford to pay more."

"True; but he became rich through prudence and shrewdness. Sell to him and you won't have to wait for your money."

"No doubt you are right. I will be guided by your advice."

When Solon Talbot was introduced to Mr. Rockwell he made a deferential bow.

"I am honored in making your acquaintance, Mr. Rockwell," he said.

"Thank you, sir."

The banker would have been more cordial but for what he had heard from Mark.

"How long have you owned this stock, Mr. Talbot?" inquired Mr. Rockwell.

"Three years."

"It is not held in your name."

"No; it belongs to the estate of my late father-in-law, Elisha Doane."

"I take it that you are the executor of the estate."

"Yes, sir."

Solon Talbot would not have been so communicative if he had supposed that the banker was a friend to Mark. He had forgotten Mark's agency in protecting Mr. Rockwell from the dynamite fiend.

"The stock was probably purchased at a very low figure."

"I presume so, though I do not know what was paid for it. Indeed I never heard of it until I came to examine the items of my father-in-law's estate. He didn't have much else."

"It is fortunate for his heirs."

"Yes," answered Talbot rather nervously.

He was afraid Mr. Rockwell might inquire who were the other heirs. Had he done so, he would have evaded the question or boldly declared that there was no other heirs except himself.

After half an hour's conversation the purchase was made, and a check for one hundred and four thousand dollars was handed to Mr. Talbot.

"I hope you will not have occasion to regret your purchase, Mr. Rockwell," said Solon.

"I think I shall not from advices I have received about increasing richness."

At the time appointed Mark called at Mr. Rockwell's office.

"Well, Mark," said the lawyer, "I made the purchase."

"At two hundred and sixty?"

"Yes. I congratulate you."

"That is, if I succeed in getting our share from my uncle."

"I will give you a letter to my lawyer, Mr. Gerrish. Obtain a letter from him, as your counsel, and call to-morrow upon your uncle with a formal demand for your mother's share of the proceeds of the mining stock."



CHAPTER XXXII.

CONCLUSION.

Solon Talbot went home in high spirits. It was only recently that he had become aware of the great value of the Golden Hope shares. It had come to him as an agreeable surprise.

"With what I was worth before," he soliloquized, "I may now rate myself at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That is very good—for a beginning. I can afford to buy the house in Forty-Seventh Street, for I shall still have a hundred thousand dollars over, and in five years I mean to make it half a million."

He paced up and down his library in a state of joyous excitement. No thought of giving his sister-in-law her rightful due entered his mind.

"How can she find out?" he reflected. "Old Mr. Doane never told any of us of his mining shares. I presume he looked upon them as rather a risky investment. It has proved to be a splendid speculation, but it was rather a lucky accident than a shrewd purchase."

It was after breakfast on the morning succeeding the sale of stock. Mr. Talbot was preparing to go over to the house which he proposed to purchase for a last examination before making up his mind, when the servant entered the library.

"There is a boy down-stairs wishes to see you, Mr. Talbot," he said.

"Perhaps a boy from Crane & Lawton," he reflected. "Show him up."

Directly afterwards Mark Mason entered the room.

"Mark!" exclaimed Talbot. "What brings you here!"

"A matter of business, Uncle Solon."

"Then you will have to wait, for I am just going out."

"The business is important," said Mark significantly.

"Well, what is it?"

"I understand you sold yesterday the shares in the Golden Hope Mine belonging to grandfather's estate."

"What!" exclaimed Solon Talbot, his face showing his surprise and dismay.

"There were four hundred shares, and they were sold to Luther Rockwell, the banker."

"Who told you this? Have you had any communication from Crane & Lawton?"

"No; though I know the sale was made through them."

Solon Talbot paused long enough to pull himself together. It would never do to surrender at discretion. He would brazen it out to the last.

"Your information is partly true," he said. "I did sell some shares of mining stock, but they belonged to me. You have nothing to do with them."

"Uncle Solon," said Mark composedly, "it is useless to try to deceive me. The four hundred shares were bought by my grandfather, and belonged to his estate. Half of the proceeds rightfully belongs to my mother."

Spots of perspiration stood on Solon Talbot's brow. Should he allow fifty thousand dollars to slip from his grasp?

"You audacious boy!" he exclaimed. "How dare you make such an assertion?"

"Because I happen to know that the four hundred shares stood in the name of my grandfather, Elisha Doane."

"That is a lie. May I ask where you got this information?"

"From the purchaser of the stock, Luther Rockwell."

"What do you know of Luther Rockwell?" demanded Solon Talbot, incredulous.

"He is one of my best friends. Before buying the shares of the Golden Hope mine he asked my advice."

"Do you expect me to believe such ridiculous stuff? What could you know about the mine?"

"I have recently returned from California. On the way I stopped in Nevada, and I have in my pocket a statement signed by the secretary of the company, that four hundred shares of the stock stood in the name of my grandfather."

It was a series of surprises. Solon Talbot walked up and down the library in a state of nervous agitation.

"What do you expect me to do?" he added finally.

"This letter will inform you, Uncle Solon."

"From whom is it?"

"From my lawyer, George Gerrish."

Mr. Gerrish, as Mr. Talbot knew, was one of the leaders of the bar. He opened it with trembling hands, and read the following:

"MR. SOLON TALBOT:

"DEAR SIR:

"My client, Mark Mason, authorizes me to demand of you an accounting of the sums received by you as executor of the estate of his late grandfather, Elisha Doane, to the end that his mother, co-heiress with your wife, may receive her proper shares of the estate. An early answer will oblige,

"Yours respectfully,

"GEORGE GERRISH."

"Do you know Mr. Gerrish well, too?" asked Talbot.

"No, sir, but Mr. Rockwell gave me a note to him. I have had an interview with him."

"Say to him that he will hear from me."

Mark bowed and withdrew. Within a week Solon Talbot had agreed to make over to his sister-in-law, Mrs. Mason, a sum of over fifty thousand dollars, representing her share of her father's estate. He reconsidered his purpose of buying the house in West Forty-Seventh Street, and decided to remain in the flat which he then occupied.

Mrs. Mason and Mark took a handsome flat up town, and henceforth were able to live as well as their pretentious relatives. Mark was advised by Mr. Rockwell as to the investment of his mother's money, and it has already increased considerably. He is himself taking a mercantile course at a commercial college, and will eventually enter the establishment of Mr. Gilbert, with whom he is as great a favorite as ever.

It never rains but it pours. One morning Mrs. Mack, the aged miser, was found dead in bed. She left a letter directing Mark to call on her lawyer. To his surprise he found that he was left sole heir to the old lady's property, amounting to about five thousand dollars.

"What shall I do with it, mother?" he asked. "I have no rightful claim to it. She only left it to me that her nephew might not get it."

"Keep it till he gets out of prison, and then help him judiciously if he deserves it. Meanwhile invest it and give the income to charity."

Mark was glad that he was able to follow this advice. Jack Minton is still in jail, and it is to be feared that his prison life will not reform him, but Mark means to give him a chance when he is released.

Through Mark's influence, his old friend, Tom Trotter, has been taken into a mercantile establishment where his natural sharpness is likely to help him to speedy promotion. Mark has agreed to pay his mother's rent for the next three years, and has given Tom a present of two hundred dollars besides. He is not one of those who in prosperity forget their humble friends.

And now after some years of privation and narrow means Mrs. Mason and Mark seem in a fair way to see life on its sunny side. I hope my readers will agree that they merit their good fortune.

On the other hand, Mr. Talbot has lost a part of his money by injudicious speculation, and his once despised sister-in-law is now the richer of the two. Edgar has got rid of his snobbishness and through Mark's friendship is likely to grow up an estimable member of society.

THE END.



BY CAPTAIN ALAN DOUGLAS

SCOUTMASTER

THE VICTORY BOY SCOUTS

Stories from the pen of a writer who possesses a thorough knowledge of his subject. In addition to the stories there is an addenda in which useful boy scout nature lore is given, all illustrated. There are the following twelve titles in the series:

1. The Campfires of the Wolf Patrol. 2. Woodcraft; or, How a Patrol Leader Made Good. 3. Pathfinder; or, the Missing Tenderfoot. 4. Great Hike; or, the Pride of Khaki Troop. 5. Endurance Test; or, How Clear Grit Won the Day. 6. Under Canvas; or, the Search for the Carteret Ghost. 7. Storm-bound; or, a Vacation Among the Snow-Drifts. 8. Afloat; or, Adventures on Watery Trails. 9. Tenderfoot Squad; or, Camping at Raccoon Lodge. 10. Boy Scout Electricians; or, the Hidden Dynamo. 11. Boy Scouts in Open Plains; or, the Round-up not Ordered. 12. Boy Scouts in an Airplane; or, the Warning from the Sky.

THE END

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