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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake

Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake

Author:Jr. Horatio Alger


"Come here, you Joe, and be quick about it!" The boy addressed, a stout boy of fifteen, with an honest, sun-browned face, looked calmly at the speaker. "What's wanted?" he asked...
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  "Come here, you Joe, and be quick about it!"

  The boy addressed, a stout boy of fifteen, with an honest,sun-browned face, looked calmly at the speaker.

  "What's wanted?" he asked.

  "Brush me off, and don't be all day about it!" said Oscar Nortonimpatiently.

  Joe's blue eyes flashed indignantly at the tone of the other.

  "You can brush yourself off," he answered independently.

  "What do you mean by your impudence?" demanded Oscar angrily. "Haveyou turned lazy all at once?"

  "No," said Joe firmly, "but I don't choose to be ordered round byyou."

  "What's up, I wonder? Ain't you our servant?"

  "I am not your servant, though your father is my employer."

  "Then you are bound to obey me--his son."

  "I don't see it."

  "Then you'd better, if you know what's best for yourself. Are yougoing to brush me off?"


  "Look out! I can get my father to turn you off."

  "You may try if you want to."

  Oscar, much incensed, went to his father to report Joe'sinsubordination. While he is absent, a few words of explanation willenlighten the reader as to Joe's history and present position.

  Joe Mason was alone in the world. A year previous he had lost hisfather, his only remaining parent, and when the father's affairs weresettled and funeral expenses paid there was found to be just fivedollars left, which was expended for clothing for Joe.

  In this emergency Major Norton, a farmer and capitalist, offered toprovide Joe with board and clothes and three months' schooling in theyear in return for his services. As nothing else offered, Joeaccepted, but would not bind himself for any length of time. He wasfree to go whenever he pleased.

  Now there were two disagreeable things in Joe's new place. The firstwas the parsimony of Major Norton, who was noted for his stingydisposition, and the second was the overbearing manners of Oscar, wholost no opportunity to humiliate Joe and tyrannize over him so far asJoe's independent spirit would allow. It happened, therefore, thatJoe was compelled to work hard, while the promised clothing was ofthe cheapest and shabbiest description. He was compelled to go toschool in patched shoes and a ragged suit, which hurt his pride as hecompared himself with Oscar, who was carefully and even handsomelydressed. Parsimonious as his father was, he was anxious that hisonly boy should appear to advantage.

  On the very day on which our story begins Oscar had insulted Joe in away which excited our hero's bitter indignation.

  This is the way it happened:

  Joe, who was a general favorite on account of his good looks andgentlemanly manners, and in spite of his shabby attire, was walkinghome with Annie Raymond, the daughter of the village physician, whenOscar came up.

  He was himself secretly an admirer of the young lady, but had neverreceived the least encouragement from her. It made him angry to seehis father's drudge walking on equal terms with his own favorite, andhis coarse nature prompted him to insult his enemy.

  "Miss Raymond," he said, lifting his hat mockingly, "I congratulateyou on the beau you have picked up."

  Annie Raymond fully appreciated his meanness, and answered calmly:

  "I accept your congratulations, Mr. Norton."

  This answer made Oscar angry and led him to go further than heotherwise would.

  "You must be hard up for an escort, when you accept such a ragamuffinas Joe Mason."

  Joe flushed with anger.

  "Oscar Norton, do you mean to insult Miss Raymond or me," he demanded.

  "So you are on your high horse!" said Oscar sneeringly.

  "Will you answer my question?"

  "Yes, I will. I certainly don't mean to insult Miss Raymond, but Iwonder at her taste in choosing my father's hired boy to walk with."

  "I am not responsible to you for my choice, Oscar Norton," said AnnieRaymond, with dignity. "If my escort is poorly dressed, it is nothis fault, nor do I think the less of him for it."

  "If your father would dress me better, I should be very glad of it,"said Joe. "If I am a ragamuffin, it is his fault."

  "I'll report that to him," said Oscar maliciously.

  "I wish you would. It would save me the trouble of asking him forbetter clothes."

  "Suppose we go on," said Annie Raymond.

  "Certainly," said Joe politely.

  And they walked on, leaving Oscar discomfited and mortified.

  "What a fool Annie Raymond makes of herself" he muttered. "I shouldthink she'd be ashamed to go round with Joe Mason."

  Oscar would have liked to despise Annie Raymond, but it was out ofhis power. She was undoubtedly the belle of the school, and he wouldhave been proud to receive as much notice from her as she freelyaccorded to Joe. But the young lady had a mind and a will of herown, and she had seen too much to dislike in Oscar to regard him withfavor, even if he were the son of a rich man, while she had the goodsense and discrimination to see that Joe, despite his ragged garb,possessed sterling good qualities.

  When Oscar got home he sought his father.

  "Father," said he, "I heard Joe complaining to Annie Raymond that youdidn't dress him decently."

  Major Norton looked annoyed.

  "What does the boy mean?" he said. "What does he expect?"

  "He should be dressed as well as I am," said Oscar maliciously.

  "Quite out of the question," said the major hastily. "Your clothescost a mint of money."

  "Of course, you want me to look well, father. I am your son, and heis only your hired boy."

  "I don't want folks to talk," said the major, who was sensitive topublic opinion. "Don't you think his clothes are good enough?"

  "Of course they are; but I'll tell you what, father," said Oscar,with a sudden idea, "you know that suit of mine that I got stainedwith acid?"

  "Yes, Oscar," said the major gravely. "I ought to remember it. Itcost me thirty-four dollars, and you spoiled it by your carelessness."

  "Suppose you give that to Joe?" suggested Oscar.

  "He's a good deal larger than you. It wouldn't fit him; and,besides, it's stained."

  "What right has a hired boy to object to a stain? No matter if it istoo small, he has no right to be particular."

  "You are right, Oscar," said the major, who was glad to be saved theexpense of a new suit for Joe. Even he had been unpleasantlyconscious that Joe's appearance had become discreditable to him."You may bring it down, Oscar," he said.

  "I dare say Joe won't like the idea of wearing it, but a boy in hisposition has no right to be proud."

  "Of course not," returned the major, his ruling passion gratified bythe prospect of saving the price of a suit. "When Joseph comeshome--at any rate, after he is through with his chores--you may tellhim to come in to me."

  "All right, sir."

  Before Oscar remembered this message, the scene narrated at thecommencement of the chapter occurred. On his way to complain to hisfather, he recollected the message, and, retracing his steps, said toJoe:

  "My father wants to see you right off."

  This was a summons which Joe felt it his duty to obey. Heaccordingly bent his steps to the room where Major Norton usually sat.