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Driven from Home; Or, Carl Crawford's Experience

Driven from Home; Or, Carl Crawford's Experience

Author:Jr. Horatio Alger


A boy of sixteen, with a small gripsack in his hand, trudged along the country road. He was of good height for his age, strongly built, and had a frank, attractive face. He was naturally of a cheerful temperament, but at present his face was grave, and not without a ...
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  A boy of sixteen, with a small gripsack in his hand, trudged along thecountry road. He was of good height for his age, strongly built, and hada frank, attractive face. He was naturally of a cheerful temperament,but at present his face was grave, and not without a shade of anxiety.This can hardly be a matter of surprise when we consider that he wasthrown upon his own resources, and that his available capital consistedof thirty-seven cents in money, in addition to a good education and arather unusual amount of physical strength. These last two itemswere certainly valuable, but they cannot always be exchanged for thenecessaries and comforts of life.

  For some time his steps had been lagging, and from time to time he hadto wipe the moisture from his brow with a fine linen handkerchief, whichlatter seemed hardly compatible with his almost destitute condition.

  I hasten to introduce my hero, for such he is to be, as Carl Crawford,son of Dr. Paul Crawford, of Edgewood Center. Why he had set out toconquer fortune single-handed will soon appear.

  A few rods ahead Carl’s attention was drawn to a wide-spreading oaktree, with a carpet of verdure under its sturdy boughs.

  “I will rest here for a little while,” he said to himself, and suitingthe action to the word, threw down his gripsack and flung himself on theturf.

  “This is refreshing,” he murmured, as, lying upon his back, he looked upthrough the leafy rifts to the sky above. “I don’t know when I have everbeen so tired. It’s no joke walking a dozen miles under a hot sun, witha heavy gripsack in your hand. It’s a good introduction to a life oflabor, which I have reason to believe is before me. I wonder how I amcoming out--at the big or the little end of the horn?”

  He paused, and his face grew grave, for he understood well that for himlife had become a serious matter. In his absorption he did not observethe rapid approach of a boy somewhat younger than himself, mounted on abicycle.

  The boy stopped short in surprise, and leaped from his iron steed.

  “Why, Carl Crawford, is this you? Where in the world are you going withthat gripsack?”

  Carl looked up quickly.

  “Going to seek my fortune,” he answered, soberly.

  “Well, I hope you’ll find it. Don’t chaff, though, but tell the honesttruth.”

  “I have told you the truth, Gilbert.”

  With a puzzled look, Gilbert, first leaning his bicycle against thetree, seated himself on the ground by Carl’s side.

  “Has your father lost his property?” he asked, abruptly.


  “Has he disinherited you?”

  “Not exactly.”

  “Have you left home for good?”

  “I have left home--I hope for good.”

  “Have you quarreled with the governor?”

  “I hardly know what to say to that. There is a difference between us.”

  “He doesn’t seem like a Roman father--one who rules his family with arod of iron.”

  “No; he is quite the reverse. He hasn’t backbone enough.”

  “So it seemed to me when I saw him at the exhibition of the academy. Youought to be able to get along with a father like that, Carl.”

  “So I could but for one thing.”

  “What is that?”

  “I have a stepmother!” said Carl, with a significant glance at hiscompanion.

  “So have I, but she is the soul of kindness, and makes our home thedearest place in the world.”

  “Are there such stepmothers? I shouldn’t have judged so from my ownexperience.”

  “I think I love her as much as if she were my own mother.”

  “You are lucky,” said Carl, sighing.

  “Tell me about yours.”

  “She was married to my father five years ago. Up to the time of hermarriage I thought her amiable and sweet-tempered. But soon after thewedding she threw off the mask, and made it clear that she dislikedme. One reason is that she has a son of her own about my age, a mean,sneaking fellow, who is the apple of her eye. She has been jealous ofme, and tried to supplant me in the affection of my father, wishingPeter to be the favored son.”

  “How has she succeeded?”

  “I don’t think my father feels any love for Peter, but through mystepmother’s influence he generally fares better than I do.”

  “Why wasn’t he sent to school with you?”

  “Because he is lazy and doesn’t like study. Besides, his mother prefersto have him at home. During my absence she worked upon my father,by telling all sorts of malicious stories about me, till he becameestranged from me, and little by little Peter has usurped my place asthe favorite.”

  “Why didn’t you deny the stories?” asked Gilbert.

  “I did, but no credit was given to my denials. My stepmother wascontinually poisoning my father’s mind against me.”

  “Did you give her cause? Did you behave disrespectfully to her?”

  “No,” answered Carl, warmly. “I was prepared to give her a warm welcome,and treat her as a friend, but my advances were so coldly received thatmy heart was chilled.”

  “Poor Carl! How long has this been so?”

  “From the beginning--ever since Mrs. Crawford came into the house.”

  “What are your relations with your step-brother--what’s his name?”

  “Peter Cook. I despise the boy, for he is mean, and tyrannical where hedares to be.”

  “I don’t think it would be safe for him to bully you, Carl.”

  “He tried it, and got a good thrashing. You can imagine what followed.He ran, crying to his mother, and his version of the story was believed.I was confined to my room for a week, and forced to live on bread andwater.”

  “I shouldn’t think your father was a man to inflict such a punishment.”

  “It wasn’t he--it was my stepmother. She insisted upon it, and heyielded. I heard afterwards from one of the servants that he wanted mereleased at the end of twenty-four hours, but she would not consent.”

  “How long ago was this?”

  “It happened when I was twelve.”

  “Was it ever repeated?”

  “Yes, a month later; but the punishment lasted only for two days.”

  “And you submitted to it?”

  “I had to, but as soon as I was released I gave Peter such a flogging,with the promise to repeat it, if I was ever punished in that manneragain, that the boy himself was panic-stricken, and objected to my beingimprisoned again.”

  “He must be a charming fellow!”

  “You would think so if you should see him. He has small, insignificantfeatures, a turn-up nose, and an ugly scowl that appears whenever he isout of humor.”

  “And yet your father likes him?”

  “I don’t think he does, though Peter, by his mother’s orders, paysall sorts of small attentions--bringing him his slippers, running onerrands, and so on, not because he likes it, but because he wants tosupplant me, as he has succeeded in doing.”

  “You have finally broken away, then?”

  “Yes; I couldn’t stand it any longer. Home had become intolerable.”

  “Pardon the question, but hasn’t your father got considerable property?”

  “I have every reason to think so.”

  “Won’t your leaving home give your step-mother and Peter the insidetrack, and lead, perhaps, to your disinheritance?”

  “I suppose so,” answered Carl, wearily; “but no matter what happens, Ican’t bear to stay at home any longer.”

  “You’re badly fixed--that’s a fact!” said Gilbert, in a tone ofsympathy. “What are your plans?”

  “I don’t know. I haven’t had time to think.”