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The Cash Boy

The Cash Boy

Author:Jr. Horatio Alger


A group of boys was assembled in an open field to the west of the public schoolhouse in the town of Crawford. Most of them held hats in their hands, while two, stationed sixty feet distant from each other, were “having catch.”
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  A group of boys was assembled in an open field to the west of the publicschoolhouse in the town of Crawford. Most of them held hats in theirhands, while two, stationed sixty feet distant from each other, were“having catch.”

  Tom Pinkerton, son of Deacon Pinkerton, had just returned from Brooklyn,and while there had witnessed a match game between two professionalclubs. On his return he proposed that the boys of Crawford shouldestablish a club, to be known as the Excelsior Club of Crawford, to playamong themselves, and on suitable occasions to challenge clubs belongingto other villages. This proposal was received with instant approval.

  “I move that Tom Pinkerton address the meeting,” said one boy.

  “Second the motion,” said another.

  As there was no chairman, James Briggs was appointed to that position,and put the motion, which was unanimously carried.

  Tom Pinkerton, in his own estimation a personage of considerableimportance, came forward in a consequential manner, and commenced asfollows:

  “Mr. Chairman and boys. You all know what has brought us together. Wewant to start a club for playing baseball, like the big clubs they havein Brooklyn and New York.”

  “How shall we do it?” asked Henry Scott.

  “We must first appoint a captain of the club, who will have power toassign the members to their different positions. Of course you will wantone that understands about these matters.”

  “He means himself,” whispered Henry Scott, to his next neighbor; andhere he was right.

  “Is that all?” asked Sam Pomeroy.

  “No; as there will be some expenses, there must be a treasurer toreceive and take care of the funds, and we shall need a secretary tokeep the records of the club, and write and answer challenges.”

  “Boys,” said the chairman, “you have heard Tom Pinkerton’s remarks.Those who are in favor of organizing a club on this plan will pleasesignify it in the usual way.”

  All the boys raised their hands, and it was declared a vote.

  “You will bring in your votes for captain,” said the chairman.

  Tom Pinkerton drew a little apart with a conscious look, as he supposed,of course, that no one but himself would be thought of as leader.

  Slips of paper were passed around, and the boys began to prepare theirballots. They were brought to the chairman in a hat, and he forthwithtook them out and began to count them.

  “Boys,” he announced, amid a universal stillness, “there is one vote forSam Pomeroy, one for Eugene Morton, and the rest are for Frank Fowler,who is elected.”

  There was a clapping of hands, in which Tom Pinkerton did not join.

  Frank Fowler, who is to be our hero, came forward a little, and spokemodestly as follows:

  “Boys, I thank you for electing me captain of the club. I am afraid I amnot very well qualified for the place, but I will do as well as I can.”

  The speaker was a boy of fourteen. He was of medium height for his age,strong and sturdy in build, and with a frank prepossessing countenance,and an open, cordial manner, which made him a general favorite. It wasnot, however, to his popularity that he owed his election, but to thefact that both at bat and in the field he excelled all the boys, andtherefore was the best suited to take the lead.

  The boys now proceeded to make choice of a treasurer and secretary.For the first position Tom Pinkerton received a majority of the votes.Though not popular, it was felt that some office was due him.

  For secretary, Ike Stanton, who excelled in penmanship, was elected, andthus all the offices were filled.

  The boys now crowded around Frank Fowler, with petitions for such placesas they desired.

  “I hope you will give me a little time before I decide about positions,boys,” Frank said; “I want to consider a little.”

  “All right! Take till next week,” said one and another, “and let us havea scrub game this afternoon.”

  The boys were in the middle of the sixth inning, when some one calledout to Frank Fowler: “Frank, your sister is running across the field. Ithink she wants you.”

  Frank dropped his bat and hastened to meet his sister.

  “What’s the matter, Gracie?” he asked in alarm.

  “Oh, Frank!” she exclaimed, bursting into tears. “Mother’s been bleedingat the lungs, and she looks so white. I’m afraid she’s very sick.”

  “Boys,” said Frank, turning to his companions, “I must go home at once.You can get some one to take my place, my mother is very sick.”

  When Frank reached the little brown cottage which he called home, hefound his mother in an exhausted state reclining on the bed.

  “How do you feel, mother?” asked our hero, anxiously.

  “Quite weak, Frank,” she answered in a low voice. “I have had a severeattack.”

  “Let me go for the doctor, mother.”

  “I don’t think it will be necessary, Frank. The attack is over, and Ineed no medicines, only time to bring back my strength.”

  But three days passed, and Mrs. Fowler’s nervous prostration continued.She had attacks previously from which she rallied sooner, and herpresent weakness induced serious misgivings as to whether she wouldever recover. Frank thought that her eyes followed him with more thanordinary anxiety, and after convincing himself that this was the case,he drew near his mother’s bedside, and inquired:

  “Mother, isn’t there something you want me to do?”

  “Nothing, I believe, Frank.”

  “I thought you looked at me as if you wanted to say something.” “Thereis something I must say to you before I die.”

  “Before you die, mother!” echoed Frank, in a startled voice.

  “Yes. Frank, I am beginning to think that this is my last sickness.”

  “But, mother, you have been so before, and got up again.”

  “There must always be a last time, Frank; and my strength is too farreduced to rally again, I fear.”

  “I can’t bear the thought of losing you, mother,” said Frank, deeplymoved.

  “You will miss me, then, Frank?” said Mrs. Fowler.

  “Shall I not? Grace and I will be alone in the world.”

  “Alone in the world!” repeated the sick woman, sorrowfully, “withlittle help to hope for from man, for I shall leave you nothing. Poorchildren!”

  “That isn’t what I think of,” said Frank, hastily.

  “I can support myself.”

  “But Grace? She is a delicate girl,” said the mother, anxiously. “Shecannot make her way as you can.”

  “She won’t need to,” said Frank, promptly; “I shall take care of her.”

  “But you are very young even to support yourself. You are onlyfourteen.”

  “I know it, mother, but I am strong, and I am not afraid. There are ahundred ways of making a living.”

  “But do you realize that you will have to start with absolutely nothing?Deacon Pinkerton holds a mortgage on this house for all it will bring inthe market, and I owe him arrears of interest besides.”

  “I didn’t know that, mother, but it doesn’t frighten me.”

  “And you will take care of Grace?”

  “I promise it, mother.”

  “Suppose Grace were not your sister?” said the sick woman, anxiouslyscanning the face of the boy.

  “What makes you suppose such a thing as that, mother? Of course she ismy sister.”

  “But suppose she were not,” persisted Mrs. Fowler, “you would not recallyour promise?”

  “No, surely not, for I love her. But why do you talk so, mother?” anda suspicion crossed Frank’s mind that his mother’s intellect might bewandering.

  “It is time to tell you all, Frank. Sit down by the bedside, and I willgather my strength to tell you what must be told.”

  “Grace is not your sister, Frank!”

  “Not my sister, mother?” he exclaimed. “You are not in earnest?”

  “I am quite in earnest, Frank.”

  “Then whose child is she?”

  “She is my child.”

  “Then she must be my sister--are you not my mother?”

  “No, Frank, I am not your mother!”