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Hector's Inheritance, Or, the Boys of Smith Institute

Hector's Inheritance, Or, the Boys of Smith Institute

Author:Jr. Horatio Alger


Mr. Roscoe rang the bell, and, in answer, a servant entered the library, where he sat before a large and commodious desk. “Has the mail yet arrived?” he asked. “Yes, sir; John has just come back from the village.” “Go at once and bring me the letters and papers, if there are any.” John bowed and withdrew....
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  Mr. Roscoe rang the bell, and, in answer, a servant entered the library,where he sat before a large and commodious desk.

  “Has the mail yet arrived?” he asked.

  “Yes, sir; John has just come back from the village.”

  “Go at once and bring me the letters and papers, if there are any.”

  John bowed and withdrew.

  Mr. Roscoe walked to the window, and looked thoughtfully out upon asmooth, luxuriant lawn and an avenue of magnificent trees, through whichcarriages were driven to what was popularly known as Castle Roscoe.Everything, even to the luxuriously appointed room in which he sat,indicated wealth and the ease which comes from affluence.

  Mr. Roscoe looked around him with exultation.

  “And all this may be mine,” he said to himself, “if I am only bold. Whatis it old Pindar says? ‘Boldness is the beginning of victory.’ I haveforgotten nearly all I learned in school, but I remember that. There issome risk, perhaps, but not much, and I owe something to my son---”

  He was interrupted by the entrance of the servant with a small leatherbag, which was used to hold mail matter, going from or coming to thehouse.

  The servant unlocked the bag, and emptied the contents on the desk.There were three or four papers and two letters. It was the last whichattracted Mr. Roscoe’s attention.

  We will take the liberty of looking over Mr. Roscoe’s shoulder as hereads the first. It ran as follows:

  “DEAR SIR:-I am in receipt of your favor, asking my terms for boardingpupils. For pupils of fifteen or over, I charge five hundred dollars peryear, which is not a large sum considering the exceptional advantagespresented by Inglewood School. My pupils are from the best families,and enjoy a liberal table. Moreover, I employ competent teachers, andguarantee rapid progress, when the student is of good, natural capacity,and willing to work.

  “I think you will agree with me that it is unwise to economize when theproper training of a youth is in question, and that a cheap school islittle better than no school at all.

  “I have only to add that I shall be most happy to receive your youngnephew, if you decide to send him to me, and will take personal pains topromote his advancement. I remain, dear sir, your obedient servant,


  Mr. Roscoe threw the letter down upon the desk with an impatientgesture.

  “Five hundred dollars a year!” he exclaimed. “What can the man bethinking of? Why, when I went to school, twenty-five years since, lessthan half this sum was charged. The man is evidently rapacious. Let mesee what this other letter says.”

  The second letter was contained in a yellow envelope, of cheap texture,and was much more plebeian in appearance than the first.

  Again we will look over Mr. Roscoe’s shoulder, and read what itcontains. It was postmarked Smithville, and the envelope was disfiguredby a blot. It commenced:

  “DEAR SIR:-It gives me pleasure to answer your inquiries respectingmy school. I have about fifty pupils, part of whom, say one-third, areboarders. Though I say it myself, it will be hard to find any schoolwhere more thorough instruction is given. I look upon my pupils as mychildren, and treat them as such. My system of government is, therefore,kind and parental, and my pupils are often homesick in vacation, longingfor the time to come when they can return to their studies at SmithInstitute. It is the dearest wish of Mrs. Smith and myself to make ouryoung charges happy, and to advance them, by pleasant roads over flowerymeads, to the inner courts of knowledge.

  “Humbug!” muttered Mr. Roscoe. “I understand what all that means.” Hecontinued:

  “I hope you will not consider three hundred dollars per annum toomuch for such parental care. Considering the present high price ofprovisions, it is really as low a price as we can afford to receive.

  “I shall be glad if you consider my letter favorable and decide to placeyour nephew under my charge. Yours respectfully,


  “That is more reasonable,” said Mr. Roscoe, to himself, as he laid downthe letter. “Three hundred dollars I consider a fair price. At any rate,I do not propose to pay any more for Hector. I suppose the table isplain enough, but I don’t believe in pampering the appetites of boys.If he were the master of Roscoe Hall, as he thinks he is, there might besome propriety in it; but upon that head I shall soon undeceive him. Iwill let him understand that I am the proprietor of the estate, and thathe is only a dependent on my bounty. I wonder how he will take it. Idare say he will make a fuss, but he shall soon be made to understandthat it is of no use. Now to answer these letters.”

  Mr. Roscoe sat down in a luxurious armchair, and, drawing pen and papertoward him, wrote first to Dr. Radix. I subjoin the letter, as it throwssome light upon the character of the writer:


  “My DEAR SIR:-I am in receipt of your letter of the 8th instant,answering my inquiries in regard to your school. Let me say at once thatI find your terms too high. Five hundred dollars a year for forty weeks’board and schooling seems to me an exorbitant price to ask. Really, atthis rate, education will soon become a luxury open only to the wealthy.

  “You are probably under a misapprehension in reference to my young ward.Nephew he is not, in a strict sense of the term. He was adopted--notlegally, but practically--by my brother, when he was only a year old,and his origin has been concealed from him. My brother, being childless,has allowed him to suppose that he was his own son. Undoubtedly hemeant to provide for him in his will, but, as often happens, put offwill-making till it was too late. The estate, therefore, goes to me,and the boy is unprovided for. This does not so much matter, since I amwilling to educate him, and give him a fair start in life, if he actsin a manner to suit me. I do not, however, feel called upon to pay anexorbitant price for his tuition, and, therefore, shall be obliged toforego placing him at Inglewood School. Yours, etc.,


  “When this letter is sent, I shall have taken the decisive step,”thought Mr. Roscoe. “I must then adhere to my story, at whatever cost.Now for the other.”

  His reply to the letter of Socrates Smith, A. M., was briefer, butlikely to be more satisfactory to the recipient. It ran thus;


  “DEAR Sir:-Your letter is at hand, and I find it, on the whole,satisfactory. The price you charge-three hundred dollars per annum--isabout right. I hope you are a firm disciplinarian. I do not want Hectortoo much indulged or pampered, though he may expect it, my poor brotherhaving been indulgent to excess.

  “Let me add, by the bye, that Hector is not my nephew, though I mayinadvertently have mentioned him as such, and had no real claims upon mybrother, though he has been brought up in that belief. He was adopted,in an informal way, by my brother, when he was but, an infant. Under thecircumstances, I am willing to take care of him, and prepare him to earnhis own living when his education is completed.

  “You may expect to see me early next week. I will bring the boy with me,and enter him at once as a pupil in your school.

  “Yours, etc., ALLAN ROSCOE.”

  “There, that clinches it!” said Mr. Roscoe, in a tone of satisfaction.“Now for an interview with the boy.”