Reading Books on PopNovel APP

Struggling Upward, or Luke Larkin's Luck

Struggling Upward, or Luke Larkin's Luck

Author:Jr. Horatio Alger


One Saturday afternoon in January a lively and animated group of boys were gathered on the western side of a large pond in the village of Groveton. Prominent among them was a tall, pleasant-looking young man of twenty-two, the teacher...
Show All▼

  One Saturday afternoon in January a lively and animatedgroup of boys were gathered on the western side of a large pondin the village of Groveton. Prominent among them was a tall,pleasant-looking young man of twenty-two, the teacher of theCenter Grammar School, Frederic Hooper, A. B., a recent graduateof Yale College. Evidently there was something of importanceon foot. What it was may be learned from the words of the teacher.

  "Now, boys," he said, holding in his hand a Waterbury watch, ofneat pattern, "I offer this watch as a prize to the boy who willskate across the pond and back in the least time. You will allstart together, at a given signal, and make your way to the markwhich I have placed at the western end of the lake, skate aroundit, and return to this point. Do you fully understand?"

  "Yes, sir!" exclaimed the boys, unanimously.

  Before proceeding, it may be well to refer more particularlyto some of the boys who were to engage in the contest.

  First, in his own estimation, came Randolph Duncan, son of PrinceDuncan, president of the Groveton Bank, and a prominent townofficial. Prince Duncan was supposed to be a rich man, and lived ina style quite beyond that of his neighbors. Randolph was his onlyson, a boy of sixteen, and felt that in social position and blueblood he was without a peer in the village. He was a tall, athleticboy, and disposed to act the part of boss among the Groveton boys.

  Next came a boy similar in age and physical strength, but in otherrespects very different from the young aristocrat. This was LukeLarkin, the son of a carpenter's widow, living on narrow means, andso compelled to exercise the strictest economy. Luke worked wherehe could, helping the farmers in hay-time, and ready to do odd jobsfor any one in the village who desired his services. He filled theposition of janitor at the school which he attended, sweeping outtwice a week and making the fires. He had a pleasant expression,and a bright, resolute look, a warm heart, and a clear intellect,and was probably, in spite of his poverty, the most popular boy inGroveton. In this respect he was the opposite of Randolph Duncan,whose assumption of superiority and desire to "boss" the other boysprevented him from having any real friends. He had two or threecompanions, who flattered him and submitted to his caprices becausethey thought it looked well to be on good terms with the youngaristocrat.

  These two boys were looked upon as the chief contestants forthe prize offered by their teacher. Opinions differed as to whichwould win.

  "I think Luke will get the watch," said Fred Acken, a younger boy.

  "I don't know about that," said Tom Harper. "Randolph skatesjust as well, and he has a pair of club skates. His father sentto New York for them last week. They're beauties, I tell you.Randolph says they cost ten dollars."

  "Of course that gives him the advantage," said Percy Hall. "Lookat Luke's old-fashioned wooden skates! They would be dear atfifty cents!"

  "It's a pity Luke hasn't a better pair," said Harry Wright. "I don'tthink the contest is a fair one. Luke ought to have an allowance oftwenty rods, to make up for the difference in skates."

  "He wouldn't accept it," said Linton Tomkins, the son of amanufacturer in Groveton, who was an intimate friend of Luke, andpreferred to associate with him, though Randolph had made advancestoward intimacy, Linton being the only boy in the village whom heregarded as his social equal. "I offered him my club skates, buthe said he would take the chances with his own."

  Linton was the only boy who had a pair of skates equal to Randolph's.He, too, was a contestant, but, being three years younger than Lukeand Randolph, had no expectation of rivaling them.

  Randolph had his friends near him, administering the adulation he somuch enjoyed.

  "I have no doubt you'll get the watch, Randolph," said Sam Noble."You're a better skater any day than Luke Larkin."

  "Of course you are!" chimed in Tom Harper.

  "The young janitor doesn't think so," said Randolph, his lipscurling.

  "Oh, he's conceited enough to think he can beat you, I makeno doubt," said Sam.

  "On those old skates, too! They look as if Adam might have used themwhen he was a boy!"

  This sally of Tom's created a laugh.

  "His skates are old ones, to be sure," said Randolph, who wasquick-sighted enough to understand that any remark of this kindmight dim the luster of his expected victory. "His skates are oldenough, but they are just as good for skating as mine."

  "They won't win him the watch, though," said Sam.

  "I don't care for the watch myself," said Randolph, loftily."I've got a silver one now, and am to have a gold one whenI'm eighteen. But I want to show that I am the best skater.Besides, father has promised me ten dollars if I win."

  "I wish I had ten dollars," said Sam, enviously.

  He was the son of the storekeeper, and his father allowed him onlyten cents a week pocket-money, so that ten dollars in his eyes wasa colossal fortune.

  "I have no doubt you would, Sam," said Tom, joyously; "but youcouldn't be trusted with so much money. You'd go down to New Yorkand try to buy out A. T. Stewart."

  "Are you ready, boys?" asked Mr. Hooper.

  Most of the boys responded promptly in the affirmative; but Luke,who had been tightening his straps, said quickly: "I am not ready,Mr. Hooper. My strap has broken!"

  "Indeed, Luke, I am sorry to hear it," said the teacher, approachingand examining the fracture. "As matters stand, you can't skate."

  Randolph's eyes brightened. Confident as he professed to feel, heknew that his chances of success would be greatly increased byLuke's withdrawal from the list.

  "The prize is yours now," whispered Tom.

  "It was before," answered Randolph, conceitedly.

  Poor Luke looked disappointed. He knew that he had at least an evenchance of winning, and he wanted the watch. Several of his friendsof his own age had watches, either silver or Waterbury, and thisseemed, in his circumstances, the only chance of securing one. Nowhe was apparently barred out.

  "It's a pity you shouldn't skate, Luke," said Mr. Hooper, in a toneof sympathy. "You are one of the best skaters, and had an excellentchance of winning the prize. Is there any boy willing to lend Lukehis skates?"

  "I will," said Frank Acken.

  "My dear boy," said the teacher, "you forget that your feetare several sizes smaller than Luke's."

  "I didn't think of that," replied Frank, who was only twelveyears old.

  "You may use my skates, Luke," said Linton Tomkins. "I think theywill fit you."

  Linton was only thirteen, but he was unusually large for his age.

  "You are very kind, Linton," said Luke, "but that will keep you outof the race."

  "I stand no chance of winning," said Linton, "and I will do myskating afterward."

  "I don't think that fair," said Randolph, with a frown. "Each boyought to use his own skates."

  "There is nothing unfair about it," said the teacher, "except thatLuke is placed at disadvantage in using a pair of skates he isunaccustomed to."

  Randolph did not dare gainsay the teacher, but he looked sullen.

  "Mr. Hooper is always favoring that beggar!" he said in a lowvoice, to Tom Harper.

  "Of course he is!" chimed in the toady.

  "You are very kind, Linny," said Luke, regarding his friendaffectionately. "I won't soon forget it."

  "Oh, it's all right, Luke," said Linton. "Now go in and win!"