Tom Thatcher's Fortune
See Transcriber’s Note at end of text.
TOM THATCHER’S FORTUNE
|I.||AN OLD LETTER.||5|
|II.||THE YOUNG RIVALS.||11|
|III.||THE RACE ON ROUND POND.||14|
|IV.||A FALSE FRIEND.||24|
|VI.||ENDS IN A FIRE.||38|
|VII.||THE MIDNIGHT FIRE.||45|
|VIII.||THE BARN LOFT.||50|
|IX.||AN UNEXPECTED CHARGE.||55|
|X.||IN SEARCH OF EMPLOYMENT.||59|
|XI.||A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE.||66|
|XIII.||A CHEAP OVERCOAT.||78|
|XIV.||THE TRAMP TRANSFORMED.||84|
|XV.||THE TRAGEDY AT ROCKY GULCH.||91|
|XVI.||TOM’S VISIT TO PEARL STREET.||97|
|XVII.||TOM GAINS A VICTORY.||103|
|XVIII.||DO THE DEAD LIVE?||108|
|XIX.||TOM STARTS ON HIS JOURNEY.||113|
|XX.||A HOTEL ACQUAINTANCE.||116|
|XXI.||TOM’S NEW EMPLOYER.||120|
|XXII.||A ROUGH DIAMOND.||126|
|XXIII.||PETER BRUSH, THE HUNTER.||131|
|XXIV.||MR. BURNETT BEATS A RETREAT.||135|
|XXV.||A SOLITARY WALK.||139|
|XXVI.||PERCY BURNETT UNMASKS.||143|
|XXVII.||A FRIEND IN NEED.||148|
|XXVIII.||HOW PETER BRUSH CAME TO THE RESCUE.||153|
|XXIX.||THE PACIFIC TRAIL.||159|
|XXX.||THE MAN WITHOUT A SCALP.||163|
|XXXI.||TWO NEW COMRADES.||166|
|XXXII.||A STARTLING SIGHT.||171|
|XXXV.||HOW TOM PASSED THE NIGHT.||183|
|XXXVI.||TOM’S DEADLY PERIL.||186|
|XXXVII.||THE INDIANS ADOPT TOM.||192|
|XXXVIII.||THREE MONTHS IN CAPTIVITY.||197|
|XXXIX.||THE CABIN AT ROCKY GULCH.||201|
|XL.||TOM FINDS HIMSELF RICH.||208|
|XLI.||TOM AND THE GRIZZLY.||213|
|XLII.||A STARTLING DISCLOSURE.||219|
|XLIII.||TOM COMES INTO A FORTUNE.||224|
|XLIV.||A WONDERFUL DISCOVERY.||228|
|XLV.||HOW THINGS WENT ON AT HOME.||233|
|XLVI.||MRS. THATCHER LOSES HER NEW HOME.||238|
|XLVII.||A DOUBLE SURPRISE.||244|
|XLVIII.||RETRIBUTION OVERTAKES JOHN SIMPSON.||251|
|HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.|
BY WILLIAM BENNET.
BY PAUL BLAKE.
Tom Thatcher’s Fortune.
By Horatio Alger, Jr.,
“Joe’s Luck,” “Frank Fowler, the Cash Boy,” “Ragged Dick,” “Tom Temple’s Career,” “Luck and Pluck,” etc., etc.
A. L. BURT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS,
52–58 DUANE STREET, NEW YORK.
Copyright, 1888. By A. L. Burt.
TOM THATCHER’S FORTUNE.
By Horatio Alger, Jr.
TOM THATCHER’S FORTUNE.
“IS SUPPER ready, mother? I’m as hungry as a bear!”
The speaker was a sturdy boy of sixteen, with bright eyes, and asmiling sun-browned face. His shirt sleeves were rolled up displayinga pair of muscular arms. His hands were brown and soiled with labor.It was clear that he was no white-handed young aristocrat. His clothesalone would have shown that. They were of coarse cloth, made withoutany special regard to the prevailing fashion.
Tom Thatcher, for this was his name, had just come home from the shoemanufactory, where he was employed ten hours a day in pegging shoes,for the lucrative sum of fifty cents per day. I may as well state herethat he is the hero of my story, and I hope none of my readers willthink any the worse of him for working in a shop. I am aware that it isconsidered more “genteel” to stand behind a counter, and display goodsto customers, even if the wages are smaller. But Tom, having a motherand little sister to help support, could not choose his employment. Helived in a large shoe6 town, and was glad to find employment in thelarge manufactory of John Simpson, who, by virtue of his large capital,and as the employer of a hundred hands, was a man of mark in the townof Wilton.
“Supper will be ready in five minutes, Tom,” said his mother, rather adelicate-looking woman, of refined appearance, notwithstanding she wasdressed in a cheap calico.
“Are you tired, Tom?” asked his little sister Tillie, whose full name,never used at home, was Matilda.
“Not much, Tillie, but I’ve got a famous appetite.”
“I am sorry I haven’t got something better for you, Tom,” said hismother. “I have only a hot potato, besides tea, and bread and butter.”
“Why, that is good enough, mother,” said Tom, cheerfully.
“You ought to have meat after working hard all day in the shop, my boy;but meat comes so high that I don’t dare to have it on the table everyday.”
“Too much meat might make me savage, mother,” said Tom laughing. “Iwish we could have it oftener, for your sake. Anything will do for me.When I get older I shall earn higher wages, and then we’ll live better.”
“It’s very uncomfortable to be poor,” said Mrs. Thatcher, sighing.“Poor children, if your father were only living you would fare better.I little dreamed when he went to California, eight years ago, that hewould never come back.”
“Mr. Simpson and father went to California together, didn’t they,mother?”
7“Yes. They were both poor men at the time. Mr. Simpson was no betteroff than your father, but now—your poor father is in his grave, andJohn Simpson is one of the richest men in Wilton.”
“Mr. Simpson came home rich, didn’t he?”
“Yes. How rich I don’t know, but from being a journeyman he was able tobuild a manufactory of his own, and has been getting richer ever since.”
“Were he and father together in California?”
“And didn’t father find any gold? How could one be prosperous, and theother unlucky?”
“I never could understand it. The very last letter I received from yourfather mentioned that he was prosperous, and had accumulated a largeamount of gold dust, he and John Simpson also. Three months afterwardJohn Simpson came home, but nothing was ever heard of your poor fatheror his money again.”
“What did Mr. Simpson say? Didn’t he know anything about him?”
“He called on me, and told me that your father and he had separateda little while before leaving California. He made his way to SanFrancisco while your father remained at the mines. He felt quite surethat your father had been robbed and murdered by some desperate personwho had heard of his good fortune.”
“Was that all he could tell you?”
“That was all.”
“Couldn’t he tell how much gold father had at the time?”
8“He said it amounted to some thousands of dollars, but how much hecould not tell exactly. I cared little for that. If your poor fatherhad only come back alive I would have been happy, even if he had comeback in rags, and without a penny.”
“Were he and Mr. Simpson good friends?” asked Tom, thoughtfully.
“They were very intimate before they went to California.”
“And were you and Mrs. Simpson intimate, too, mother?”
“Yes; we lived in the same house. It was a double house, and eachfamily occupied a part. You and Rupert Simpson were born the same day,and played together like brothers when you were both young boys.”
“It isn’t much like that now, mother. Rupert puts on all sorts of airsbecause his father is rich. He wouldn’t think of associating with me onequal terms. He thinks himself altogether superior to a poor boy whoworks in a shoe shop.”
“He has no right to look down upon you, Tom,” said Mrs. Thatcher, withnatural motherly indignation. “You are superior to him in every way.”
“He don’t think so, mother,” he answered, “and I am afraid it wouldbe hard to convince him. But it seems strange to me to think that ourfamilies were once so intimate. Mrs. Simpson rides in her carriage, andalways wears silks or satins to church, while you are compelled to weara cheap gingham for best. She never comes to call on you.”
9“I don’t wish her to,” said Mrs. Thatcher, with honorable pride. “Itwould only be an act of condescension on her part, and Sarah Simpsonisn’t the woman to condescend to me, who was born and brought up herequal.”
“You’re right there, mother. You are just as much a lady as she is,even if you are poor.”
“I hope I am, Tom.”
“You spoke of father’s last letter to you, mother. I haven’t looked atit for a long time. Will you let me see it?”
“Certainly, my son.”
Mrs. Thatcher went to the bureau, and from the top drawer took out anold letter, grown yellow with age, and unfolding it handed it to Tom.It was quite long, but a large part of it would be of no interest to myreaders. I only transcribe the parts which are material to my story.
“I am glad to say, my dear Mary, that I have been veryfortunate. John Simpson and I, some three months ago, chancedupon some very rich diggings, which, lying out of the ordinarycourse of travel and exploration, had thus far failed toattract attention. For a month or more we worked alone,managing in that time to ‘feather our nests’ pretty well. Thenwe sold out a portion of our claims to a third party for alarge sum, and worked the balance ourselves. I don’t dare totell you how much we are worth, but enough to make us verycomfortable. I can say as much as that. It won’t be long beforeI come home. I could come now, but I think it a shame to leaveso much treasure in the ground, when it can be had for thedigging. A little patience, dear wife, and I shall come home,and10 place you and our darling children in a position where youwill never again know the limitations of poverty.
“Simpson’s plans are the same as mine. We shall probably gohome together, and build two nice houses near each other. Itwill be pleasant in years to come to refer to our days ofstruggle when we worked together at the shoe bench for a dollarand a half a day, and had to support our families on thatpaltry sum. Those days, thank God! are over, and I am still ayoung man with half my life before me, as I hope.”
“Poor father!” said Tom. “How little he thought that his good luck wasto prove the cause of his death, and that the money he had securedwould never find its way to his family.”
“It always makes me sad to read that letter,” said Mrs. Thatcher. “Itis so bright and hopeful, and death was even then so near.”
As Tom gave back the letter to his mother, a knock was heard at thedoor.
Tom rose to open it, and admitted a boy of about his own age, HarryJulian, the minister’s son, one of his most intimate friends.
“GOOD-EVENING, Harry,” said Mrs. Thatcher, cordially. “Won’t you sitdown and take a cup of tea?”
“No, thank you, Mrs. Thatcher; I have just got through supper. You mustexcuse my coming so early, but I wanted to be sure to find Tom at home.”
The speaker was a slender, pleasant-faced boy of about Tom’s age. Hewas better dressed than Tom, for though his father received but a smallannual salary from his parish, he was possessed of a considerableprivate fortune, which enabled him to live with more freedom frompecuniary anxiety than most ministers. The boys had always beenintimate, and Tom had more than once been favored by the loan of booksfrom his friend’s library.
“You have found me at home, Julian,” said Tom. “Is there anything goingon this evening?”
“Yes, and that’s what brings me here. There’s going to be a largeskating party on Round Pond, and we want you to join it.”
“I should like it, but I can’t go quite yet. I must saw and split somewood for to-morrow