Starting his own business, or, The boy who caught on

Starting his own business, or, The boy who caught on

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Starting his own business, or, The boy who caught on
Series Title:
Fame and fortune weekly : stories of boys who make money
A self-made man (J. Perkins Tracy)
Place of Publication:
New York
Frank Tousey
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1 online resource (28 pages)


Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Wealth ( lcsh )
Entrepreneurship -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Boys ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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F18-00096 ( USFLDC DOI )
f18.96 ( USFLDC Handle )
031336667 ( ALEPH )
839681281 ( OCLC )

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At that moment a horse and wagon came tearing up the road. F"armer Whipple was sta:nding up and pulling hard but ineffectually at the reins. To avert e. smash-up against the fence, Tom grabbed the gate and swung it open.


) OF BOYS WHO MAKE MONEY he had g He Weekl11-B11 Subsiwiption 12.50 per 11ear. Entered according to A.ct of Congress, in the 11ear 1907, in the oJflce of the Librariah h o/ Oongreu, Wa1hington, D. O., b11 Frank Touse11, Publieher, 24 Union Square, New York, sue a cf B:e were 10. 95 NEW YORK, JULY 26, 1907. PRICE 5 CENTS. corn1 mai . ST ARTINfi HIS OWN BUSINESS DB, TIIE BOY WHO CAUGHT ON By A SELF-MADE MAN CHAPTER I. INTRODUCES '.OOM: SHERIDAN AND HIS SURROUNDINGS. "Where are you bound, Tom?" asked Bob Pennington. "After the doctor." "For your aunt?" "Yes. She's very bad. I'm afraid she's going to die," said Tom Sheridan, gulping back a lump in his throat, while his eyes filled with tears. "Too bad," replied Bob. "I'm dead sorry for her. She's had a pretty hard time of it for some time back, ever since--" And then he stopped and kicked a. dent in the country road. "I know what you mean, Bob," saiq Tom solemnly. "She has had a hard time of it. No one knows that better than me. I've tried to make 'things as easy for her as I could; but Mr. Bagley has si1mply acted like a brute all along. He's down at the Corners, now, getting his usual jag on, I though where he gets the money to fill up on is a mystery to me. When she's gone he'll go to the dogs, not but that he's pretty near there now." "You'll pull out, I suppose," said Bob. "There's nothing else for me to do. I'd have gone away from here long ago, only for aunt. I wouldn't leave her to the mercy of that hog not for a million dollars." "You've done the square thing by her, Tom." "I've tried to. She was my father's sister, and was always good to me. I don't like to lose her, but she'll be happier away from this life." Tom leaned his a.rm on the rail fence and hid his face in the foldslof his jacket. B:e felt very badly, indeed, and his friend respected his feelings. "Well," he said, pulling himself together, "what's the use of kicking against fate? Are you coming my way?" "I'm going to the village." "Come on, then." B:alf a mile down the road the boys parted, Tom enter ing the gateway before a neat-looking cottage where Dr. Kent lived. The physician had just returned from visiting a patient, and his buggy stood in the back yard waiting for the hired man to take the horse out. The order to do so was countermanded, and Tom and the doctor were soon driving up the road toward the erable dwelling, where the lad lived with his aunt, Mrs. Sarah Bagley, and lier shiftless husband. Once on a time that wretched habitation had been a neat and comfortable cottage, with a good piece of ground for vegetables and fruit trees, the whole surrounded by a white picket fence. There had also been a hen-house, and pig-styes, and a small barn. All this, however, was altered now. The garden and small orchard had run wild with weeds. The pigs and poultry, and cow, had been sold, while the hen-house, pig-styes, a nd part of the barn had been pulled down for fuel. Ten years since that desolate place had been the well-


2 STARTI G HIS OW:N" BUSINESS. furnished, comfortable home 0 William Bagley and his contented wife, Sarah. He was a carpenter and builder and had plenty of work. He owned the cottage and ground, and was considered fairly prosperous. He had a little money saved, and he hoped one day to add a neighboring bit of property to his possessions. The owner of the property died suddenly, and the op portunity was offered to him to get the place cheap for cash. But he didn't have the cash, and he hated mortgage his own little property. While he was considering the matter lie discovered that a well to-do farmer on the other side, a man whom he hated, pas after the property, too. He was in a quandary, for he didn't want Farmer Whipple to get it. However, he had the adva._ntage of the first chance Unfortunately, at this juncture a reckless acquaintance of earlier years turned up. He had just come out of prison, but kept that fact to himself. He learned how Bagley was fixed, and taking advan tage of his old weakness for liquor, which he had, to a certain extent conquered, got him intoxicated one night and persuaded him to take part in an enterprise which promised considerable monetary results. It was nothing more nor less than the robbery 0 Farmer Whipple's home Bagley's friend, Tom Johnson, had sent a note to the fa.rmer, telling him that his uncle, a wealthy farmer in the next county, was dying, and that Whipple and his wife must come there at once. Johnson calculated that this would leave the house at his mercy. The scheme would probably have succeeded only it hap pened that the uncle in question had set out to make a visit to his nephew, and the two parties came together on the road. Farmer Whipple was much astonished to meet the man in good health he supposed to be dying. Perhaps he was also disappointed, for he yearned for his uncle's money. Explanations ensued, and these gave Whipple a strong suspicion that something was wrong. The combined party hunied back to the Whipple farm, arriving just in time to capture Johnson, and the intoxi cated Bagley, red-handen. Both were tried and seht to the penitentiary for :five years. When Bagley got out he was a changed man. His return to the village was eyed with suspicion. llis wife, who had borne up as well as she could under the disgrace, 11ad managed to get along after a fashion. She was the only one who gave him a welcome when he came back, the only one who stood his friend, and a poor return she got for it. He no attempt to go to work; in fact, nobody wished to employ him, and the first thing he did was to mortgage his home. With the money, he sought the questionable society at the Corners, and commenced the downward path. About this time, Tom Sheridan, a bright i.. trious lad, came to live with the Bagleys. Tom was an orphan, and Mrs Bagley was his ; father's only sister. The boy soon saw how things were going, and as grew older he remonstrated with Mr Bagley, who c him away from the cottage. Ile went to work for Farmer Pennington and with him about a year. Then his aunt was stricken with a lingering illne i Tom went back to the to do what he could fo1 for nobody else would stay with her on account 0 husband, who had got pretty low by this time. Several times she had seemed at the point of death, 1 had pulled through. Tom was her only consolation and support, and he nobly responded. On the day our story opens she had been taken with one of her sinking spells, and from the way she looked Tom was afraid that she wouldn't get over it. The only thing he could do was to go for the doctor. When they reached the cottage Mrs. Bagley seemed to. be better. The doctor's experienced eye saw that she could not live long-not many hours at the most-and after he had done what he could for her he took Tom aside and told him what he might expect The boy was shocked and upset, though he had pi;ac tically expected it. He smothered his grief as best he could and sat down by his aunt's bedside to stick to her to the last. Night found him still there. He made no attempt to get any supper for himself, as he had no heart to eat. His aunt, who had been in a semi conscious state for some time, came to herself about nine o'clock. "Tom, I am going to die," she said, in a weak voice. "I feel it here," putting her hand on her heart. "I shan't live till morning. Where is William, my husband? Hasn't he come home yet?" "No, aunt. He doesn't usually get baek till after mid night." "I must see him, Tom. I must see him before I die," she cried, feverishly "You'll see him all right," he replied, reassuningly. "But I must see him now He's at the Corners You'll go for him, Tom, and bring him to me, won't you?" she begged, earnestly. "There is no one to stop with you if I go, aunt." "No matter. I shall want for nothing. Do go at once and bring him home. I want to see him before I die." She was so insistent that Tom felt that he must oblige her. So he kissed her tenderly and departed on his errand. He made all haste to reach the Corners. This was the junction of three roads, two miles outside the village. H consisted of a blacksmith shop, a small, general store, several scattered houses and a roadhouse. The latter carried on a thriving business, especially in the barroom.


STARTING HIS OWN BUSINESS. After raismg a s to be seen there at all. hours of the day while Bagley, catching the bottle, labelled whiskey, his wife was indee<;! night. staggered on his feet. That quieted one of all was William Bagley, who, in Tom, realizing that he was in an embarrassing position, as if he was sorr+ve years, had spent several hundred dollars sta1-ted to get out of it without regard to consequences Tom relented' Failing to disengage his arm be struck at the man who breakfast. 1 ed to be a profitable customer,. but because held him. Soon after eatWn a way, he was tolerated and furnished Swat! he had gone to tl n he couldn't pay for it. The blow reached the fellow's jaw and he fell against He turned Upti' wanted to find Bagley he would have gone Bagley. such a quarrelso of the roadhouse, and that is where the boy The latter lost his uncertain balance and both men fell He was easiJght as he could go. together. were glad to lleve:r been in the place before, and he hated The bottle was smashed against the table. Next dl! ity that forced him to go there that night; but Bagley held on to the jagged end and, as his hand corner of S no help for it. swung around, he struck his companion a glancing blow, mained o)lace was dim with tobacco smoke and at first cutting open his cheek\ in compa1s not able to see the object of his errand. The wounded man, bJ.eeding like a pig, jumped on Bag After ength he saw him at a table with three other men ley and began to pound him . 11roh talking and smoking, as if life held no bette; Tom made use of his chance to leave the barroom in a employment. hurry. He walked straight up to his aunt's husband and tapped him on the shoulder. The man turned his inflamed countenance toward him and recognized him "Oh, it's you, is it?" he said. "What do you want? How's the old woman?" The indifferent and insulting way the words were spoken made Tom's blood boil with indignation. It would probably have afforded him a certain satis faction to have struck Mr. Bagley to the floor. But he did not dare show his anger under the circum stances. "Aunt Sarah is dying," he said, huskily. "She wants to see you, and sent me to fetch you." "Oh, she did?" snarled Bagley, who was in a quarrel some humor. "She sent you to fetch me. You go back and tell her I'll come when I get good and ready "But she wants to see you now." "What do I care what she wants?" he cried, with an imprecation. "Do you s'pose I'm gain' to leave my friends just to oblige her? Not by a jugfull." "If you don't come you may never see her alive again," persisted Tom. "Well, not worryin' abo11t her dyin'," replied Bag ley, heartlessly. "She's been dyin' several times, but I notice she didn't turn up her toes, just the same. Now just go back and mind your own. business, d'ye under stand? Maybe you're dry and would like a drink, first. There's the bottle-help yourself." "I wouldn't touch the vile stuff," answered the boy, with much spirit. "You wouldn't, eh?" cried Bagley, with a wicked grin. "I've a great mind to make you, you sanctimonious little monkey What say? Shall we pour some down his throat?" he added, turning to ward his associates, and at the same time grabbing Tom by the sleeve of his jacket. "You won't pour any down m:y throat, Mr. Bagley," he said, resolutely. 0 h, I won't ? We'll see whether I won't He attempted to seize Tom around the waist, but the muscular boy shook him off. One of the other men, caught him by the arm, CHAPTER IL TOM IS THROWN ON HIS OWN RESOURCES. Tom started for the cottage, conscious that his errand had been fruitless. He saw that was little chance 0 Mr. Bagley ap pearing at his dying wife's bedside for some hours, and he did not know what kind of report to make to his aunt, who he knew was feverishly anxious to see her husband. His feelings toward Bagley, never of a pleasant char acter, were now. decidedly aggressive. He blamed him for all the misery that had befallen his father's sister for the past nine years, and especially for his treatment of her since he had returned from the peni tentiary. When he opened the back door and entered the kitchen, the very silence of the place struck a chill to the boy's heart. A strange premonition that something had happened to his aunt during his short absence fell upon him like an ice-cold blanket. He ascended the stairs to the bedroom on the floor above and sotly entered. His aunt lay on the bed, just as he had left her, the soft glow of the lamp shaded from her face, but to his sharp eye there was something about her that looked differ ent even across the room. He stopped and listened intently. Not the faintest sound or movement came from the bed. With a great fear oppressing him, he crossed the room and looked down at her. The dropped jaw and staring eye told their story. His aunt was dead . It was a terrible shock for Tom, and for some time he was quite overcome by grief, but at length he pulled him self together and proceeded to tie up her lower jaw and close her eyes, on which he put a couple of small pebbles that he found on a shelf. After that he sat down to pass the night as a silent an-1 mournful watcher. About two in the morning he heard a voice in the ro::!, : singing discordantly.


( 4 STARTING HIS OWN BUSINESS. "That's Mr, Bagley," he muttered, a hard look coming into his young face. "Well, I see his finish right here. The only friend he had in the world is gone. .After this he'll have to carry his jags somewhere else. The lawyer who foreclosed the mortgage months ago, but who per mitted us to live here because he didn't want to turn aunt out into the road, will now take possession of the property and turn it to some account." The door hanged downstairs as Bagley entered the kitchen. In a moment or two Tom heard him staggering upstairs. Finally he appeared in the doorway; clinging to the sides. He was a picture for fair. He had been badly handled in the scrap brought about by his ineffectual effort to force iiquor on Tom, and his face looked as ugly as sin. The boy, after one. glance at it, scented trouble, and he steeled himself to meet it. He was in a humor to stand no fooling from the dead woman's husband, and was plucky and strong enough to resist any aggression on the part of the drunken man. Bagley gazed around the room before entering, and his eyes rested on the boy. Then they began to twinkle with a tipsy fury, and roll ing up his sleeve as he advanced, he made direct for Tom. The lad got on his feet with a deliberation that showea he was to meet the issue, whatever it might be, and his eyes fl.ashed resentfullv. "Now, you little monkey, I'v'e got you and I'm goin' to thrash you within an inch of your life!" snarled Bagley. "You'd better not touch me, Mr. Bagley, if you know when you're well off," replied Tom. "I've taken all I'm going to from you. If you had the feelings of a mouse you'd respect the presence of the dead, but I don't imagine that you have any." "Dead!" exclaimed Bagley, coming to a stop. "What d'ye mean?" "I mean your wife is dead. She died while I was over at the Corners trying to persuade you to come to her, as she begged me to do. But you wouldn't come. No, you preferred to stay with your cronies. Well, you'll have full swing after this to stay with them right along-if they'll let you. It's a long lane that hasn't a turning and you've reached the turn of yours. I hope you'll enjoy the sensa tion." Bagley turned from Tom and staggered to the bed. "Dead!" he muttered. "I don't believe it. You're only sha.mmin' to save that little villain from a lickin'. Wake up I Wake up I Or I'll pull you out of bed." He grabbed the dead woman by the arm and shook her roughly. "Let her alone; you brute!" fl.ashed Tom, springing forward and pulling him away. Bagley swung half around and crashed over a The shock sent the liquor fumes to his head. He made one feeble effort to rise, and then rolled over, stupidly, and presently was snoring in a drunken sleep. The boy regarded him with contempt. "You're a fine specimen to call yourself a man, you are," he said. "If I wanted a warning to leav.e liquor alone I'd find it in you. You ought to be photographed as you are no-w. The pictu'fe would make a i.. temperance l ecture." Tom grabbed him by the arms and his the opposite side of the room where h e h turned to his post. :r and as He replaced the pebbles on his a .unt's who c the rumpled bedclothes, and sat down to aviy' of morning. and .At length daylight dawned, and after wan he started for the Penning.ton farm.. .,. illne f He found Bob just commg out in the yarc!,1ld foi "Hello, Tom!" exclaimed his friend, in some t of seeing hlm so early. "What brings you here at tr How's your .th 1 "She's dead," replied Tom, sadly, but without a "Dead! My gracious, you don't say I When nobly die?" "Last night. I would like you to come over i me out a bit." "Sure I will. We'll have breakfast in a little while. You'll eat with me, of course. I'll tell father I'm going over with you." The P enningtons liked Tom, and they sympathized with him in his loss, though they believed that his aunt was far better off at rest. Mrs. Pennington said that she and her girl would go to the cottage in a little while and wash and lay out th e dead woman for burial. Tom thanked her for the proposed kindness. Mr. Pennington asked the boy if he needed any money for immediate expenses, and offered him a $20 bill. Tom accepted it gratefully, promising to repay it when he could. He said that the furniture and personal property of his aunt ought to easily cover the expenses of her fune.ral. If. there was anything left over he intended to expend it on a tombstone. "If Mr. Bagley with me in any way, or asserts his_,J'ight to the property necessary to bury my aunt, I'll swear out a warrant against him, and have him put in the lock-up as a vagrant," said Tom, resolutely. "I would,'' replied Mi-. Pennington. "What do you expect to do after the funeral, Tom?" "Hustle for myself," replied the boy, promptly. "I can give you something to do ort the farm for awhile, and that will g ive you time to consider the future." "Thank you, Mr. P ennington. I will accept your offer." After breakfast 'rom returned to the cottage with Bob. Bagley was st ill snoring away where Tom had left him during the night. With Bob's help, Tom carried the man into a back room, laid him upon the bed he was accus tomed to use since his habits had go. t so bad, and locked him in. "Now he's out of the way," said Tom. "If you don't mind staying here on watch, Bob, I'll call on Mr. Mold, the undertaker." Bob had no objection, and Tom departed on his errand. He came back with Mr. Mold, and while the under taker was performing his first duties with the dead, Bag ley woke up, fairly sober, and finding himself locked in side the room, started to ki

STARTING HIS OWN BUSINESS. 5 After raising a small ruction, his \\i.l'.e was indeed dead. Bagley discovered that outside of Liberty didn't Tom with a sensE: of young Whipple's superiority. 1 That quieted him down, and for a little while i.t looked as if he was sorry for his conduct toward the poor woman. Tom relented toward him so far as to cook him some breakfast. Soon after eating it he disappeared, and the boys guessed he had gone to the Corners to drown his feelings in liquor. He turned up late that night, full, as usual, but not in such a quarrelsome mood. Re was easily persuaded to go to bed, and the watchers were glad to he relieved of his presence. Next day Mrs. Sarah Bagley was buried in a sunny corner of the village churchyard, and her husband re mained ober long enough to accompany the funeral party, in company with Tom, as chief mourner. After the funeral Tom went over to the Pennington farmhouse, where for tm next month he shared Bob's room and worked at odd jobs about the place. In the meantime the contents of the cottage was sold at auctiqn to liquidate the funeral and other expenses, and the property taken in hand by the owner, who proceeded to put it into shape for a tenant. Bagley, being thrown out on the charity of an un sympathetic world, disappeared, and Tom did not care if he never saw him again. CHAPTER III. TOM IIAS A RUN-IN WITH TIIE WHIPPLES-FATHER AND SON. Farmer Whipple, for the attempted burglary of whose house Tom Johnson and William Bagley had served a fiveyear sentence in the penitentiary, lived on a good-sized farm which adjoined the Pennington's. He was not a popular man in the neighborhood, but that fact didn't worry him. He was also a man of strong prejudices, who never for gave a real or a fancied injury, and his wife and son, Ezra, were very much like him. Bagley might have got off with a lighter sentence, as it was shown at his trial that he hardly knew what he was about the night of the robbery, but for Whipple's ani While Bagley was serving his time, the Whipple family made things as hard as they could for poor Mrs. Bagley, though everybod1 knew tha.t she had no hand in or sym pathy with, her husband's crime. Tom Sheridan, when he came to live with his aunt, also came in for his share of the Whipple family's aversion and suspicion. Ezra Whipple hated Tom becau&e he was much better looking than himself, and because he soon established him self in the favorable estimation of the girls and boys in the neighborhood which he never could do himself. He tried bis best to lord it over Tom on the strength of the fact that bis father was regarded as one of the most prosperous farmers in the county, because Tom was poor. But it didn't work very well, for Tom was independent and wouldn't stand any nonsense from any one. The fact that Ezra liveQ. in the finest and biggest house Both he and Bob had Ezra down pretty fine. They knew him for a blow-hard and a coward-a boy ready to make the most of any advantage that came his way, but the first to put up a squeal when things went against him. One morning, Mr. Pennington sent Tom o ver to Farmer Whipple's to borrow a small tool which he wanted to use, but found he could not buy in Liberty. Tom would rather have been excused from the errand, but as Bob had gone to the village for something, there was no one else to go. So he put on his best clothes, none too good at that, and started for the Whipple farmhouse, a rather imposing three-story, square-built frame structure fronting directly on the road. There stood a small barn between the fence surrounding the house and the fence encircling the field beyond, and Tom, seeing somebody at work therein, walked in. The somebody in question was Ezra in his working clothes. The moment his eyes lighted on Tom his brow clouded. "What do you want here?" he asked, in a surly tone. Tom mentioned the object of his errand 'in a pleasant way. "I don't know nothin' about the tool," replied Ezra. "Where can I find your father?" asked Tom. "Dunno. Go hunt for him," replied Ezra, ungraciously. "Is he out in one of the fields?" "No, be ain't." "Is he in the house?" "No, he isn't in the house." "Look here, Ezra Whipple, why can't you talk to a fellow in a civil manner?" asked Tom, disgusted with the snap pishness shown by the other. "I don't want to talk to you at all. I don't want nothin' to do with a common boy like you. Your uncle was a jail bird, and your aunt was a--" "Don't you dare say a word against my aunt," ex claimed Tom, threateningly. "If you do, I'll make you sorry for it." "Keep away from me or I'll hit you with this ilhovP-1," snarled Ezra. "If my father was here he'd kick you off the farm. We don't want you around here." "You're a nice boy, you are, I don't think," retorted Tom, holding himself in check with an effort. "Yah !" snorted Ezra, favoring him witk a vindictive look. "Why don't you go when I tell you we don't want you around?" "I'm going. I wouldn't waste my time on such a disagreeable young cub as you are," answered Tom, turning around and walking out of the barn. He walked to the corner of the field fence where there was a wide gate communicating with the pasture, and paused, undecided whether to wait awhile for the owner of the property or not. At that moment a horse and wagon came tearing up the road. Farmer Whipple was standing up and pulling hard but ineffectually at the reins.


6 srl'ARTLi:JG HIS OWN BUSINESS. To avert a smash-up against fence, Tom grabbed the gate and swung it open. The horse, which was frightened and unmanageable, dashed blindly at the opening and passed through. The wagon was not quite so fortunate. The hub of the forward wheel came into collision with the gatepost. Crash! 'rhe wagon. came up all standing, the horse tore itself free and kept on, pulling the farmer, who had lost his balance through the shock, over the dashboard. Ephraim Whipple turned a half sommersault, struck the animal's back and tumbled, head first, into the dirt, where he was dragged several yards before the reins slipped from his fingers. Ezra hacl rushed out of the barn as the runaway ap proached the fence and saw Tom's prompt action which clearly saved the horse's life. Then he stood gazing, open-mouthed, at the stranded wagon which filled up the opening, while Tom vaulted the fence and hastened to Farmer Whipple's aid. "You're not hurt, are you, Mr. Whipple?" asked Tom, as he raised him up. The farmer spat out a mouthful of dirt and gazed about him in a bewildered manner. For the moment he hardly knew what had happened to him. If Tom had tolcl him that an earthquake had just shaken up the neighborhood he would have believed the boy. His face was all streaked with moist soil, anc1 his iron gray hair was plastered with it, w.hile his clothes looked as if they had been in a mangling machine. He was certainly a sight. "Who are you?" asked the farmer, as he began to come to himself. "Tom Sheridan." The farmer rubbed his eyes and stared at him with a hard look. "What are yoUJ doin' here?" "Mr. Pennington sent me over to bo.rrow--" "He ain't got no business to send you here to borry nothin'. I don't want you on my property, .cl'ye under stand. I won't have none of the Bagley brood around here. Fust thing I know my house might be robbed ag 'in." "What do you take me for, Mr. Whipple?" asked Tom, indignantly. "I don't take you for nothin' good. So git out of here jest as quick as you kin, or I'll sot one of the clogs on you." "All right. I'll report your generous reception of me to Mr. Pennington," replied Tom, thoroughly disgusted with the farmer. "If it hadn't been that I opened the gate your horse would have probably broken his legs, and you'd had to shoot him, while you might have broken your own neck. If you were half way decent you wouldn't treat me this way after what I clicl for you; but I suppose you don't know any better," concluded Tom, sarcastically, for he was pretty mad at the farmer's words. "What's that, you young whippersnapper?" roared Mr. Whipple, furiously. "You dare to talk to me in that fashion Just wait till I git my whip, I'll make your back tingle." He scrambled to his feet and started for the wagon. Tom, perceiving that the farmer intended to ac1opt rig orous measures, concluded not to wait for him to carry out his inhuman intentions. He jumped the fence as the man began to climb into the wagon after the whip. "Stop him, Ezra!" he shouted to hi.s son. "Don't let him git a .way. He insulted me, and I'm goin' to take it out of his hide." Tom ma.c1e no attempt to run, as he considered that would be both undignified and cowardly. He simply walked off without paying any attention to Ezra. 'l'he boy, however, encouraged by his father's presence, started to head Tom off. Tom made an effort to avoid him, but finding that he couldn't, stopped. "If you know what's good f you, you won't block my way, Ezra Whipple. I am on Tue public road n0w, so get out of my way." "You can't get away from here till you've had a lickin'." grinned Ezra. "Can't I? We'll see about that. Are you going to move?" "No, I'm not." Tom seized him like a flash and tripping him up walked on, leaving him wallowing in the dust and yelling that he was killed. Ephraim Whipple, whip in hand, leaped from the wagon and came tearing after Tom, with blood in his eye. "You young rascal! I'll skin ye within an inch of your life!" he shouted. Seeing that he could not escape unless he took to his heels, which he scorned to do, Tom stopped and faced the irate farmer. "I wouldn't advise you to touch me with that whip, Mr. Whipple," he said, calmly and deliberately. "You might regret it. You have no right to attempt to me for merely coming here on an errand for Mr. Penmng ton." Ephraim Whipple paused within arm's length of him and glaring at him, !laic1: "You've insulted me, you beggar's bra.t, and I intend to thrash you." "You mean you've insulted me several times yourself," returned Tom. "Lick him, father, lick him good!" shouted Ezra, from a safe distance. "Insulted you!" roared the farmer, amazed at what he considered the boy's impudence. "Why, you--" Rage prevented further utterance, but it urged him on to immediate vengeance. He raised the whip and lashed Tom around the body with it. Quick as a wink, the boy seized the lash, sprang forward, grabbed the handle and wrenched the whip from the farmer's hand. Then he tossed it over into a field on the opposite side of the road. As he proceeded to walk away, Farmer Whipple sprang at him, like a wild beast, aiming a blow at his head. Tom ducked, put out his foot, and his enemy measured his length in the road.


STARTING HIS OWN BUSINESS. The boy took advantage of his opportunity to walk quickly away, which he was permitted to do without further molestation. CHAPTER LV. TOl\1 GETS INTERESTED IN A MONEY MAKIN'G SCHEME. When Tom got back to the Pennington farm he re ported the unfruitful result of his mission, and also told l\fr. Pennington of the run-in he had had with both Farmer Whipple and his son "I'm not particularly surprised at Ephraim Whipple's conduct," said Mr. Pennington. "He is the most pig headed and unreasonable man I have ever run across. His son is a chip of the old block, with the ignorance of youth added." "You don't blame me for resenting their attitude to ward me, do you, sir?" said Tom. "I didn't look for Mr. Whipple to thank me for saving his rig from a total smash -up, but I did expect he'd behave decent "Of course, I don't blame you, Tom. Whipp le only got a small portion of what he richly deserved. I guess I'll have to send you over to the Kenilworth Farm for that harness tool, though I am not sure that Brown has it. Whipple has it, I know, but I might have known that he's not an accommodating man. You needn't start till after dinner." "All right, sir," replied Tom, starting for the baJ.n to resume the job he had left unfinished. When Bob returned, Tom told him all about what had happened to him over at the Whipple farm, and Bob was tickled to death at his description of the tumble the old farmer had got when his wagon collided with the gate post. "I wish I had been there at the time," he chuckled. "It must have been as good as a circus act." "It was, if you can imagine Whipple as the clown of the show." "Then you tumbled Ezra intp the road, eh?" "I did that when he tried to hold me up so his father could get at me with his whip I just took him by surprise. Then he lay in the dust and velled "For a chap of his size aiid strength he's got mighty little pluck." "He acts as though he had none at all, though I've heard that he's brave enough when he tackles a boy of about half his age." "That's right. None of the boys like him, while they all like you It's the same way with the girls. That's why he's dead nuts on you Ile's jealous of you The old man is sore on you because you're related in a way to Bagley, and he Bagley because of his connection with that robbery. H Bacrley hadn't gone to the Old Bov of his own accord, I've no doubt he'cl have hounded hiri:; out of the county There's precious little charity in Whipple's makeup." "He and Ur. Bagley were not good friends before that unfortunate affair," said rrom. "Ai least my aunt told me so. 'J'hat probably accounts for Whipple being so hard on him the moment he got him in his power." "I guess so," replied Bob. At that moment the bell rang for dinner and the boys adjourned to the big kitchen, where the table was laid. When the meal was over, Tom started for the Kenil worth Farm. It was about five miles away, and he was going to walk the distance. It took him about an hour to reach the place, and he found l\Ir Brown, the owner, in his little office, which was an annex to the kitchen Tom handed him the note he had brought from Mr. Pennington l\1r. Brown read it, ancl said he had the tool in question and would be happy to loan it. Telling Tom to wait, he went out to his barn to get it. The Kenilworth Farm was the biggest fruit and pro duce farm in the State. The nearest railroad station to which he had to cart his goods every day, was three miles to the west of Liberty village, or nine miles from the Kenilworth Farm. This made the carriage of his products quite an item to l\Ir. Brown Just before Tom reached the farm, Mr. Brown had re ceived a letter from the freight department of the railroad line, notifying him of an increased rate that would go into effect on the first o.f the month. As 1\'.Ir. Brown's monthly freight bill was considerable as it was, he certainly did not relish the idea of paying more. His only sati faction was that his rival, the Ivanhoe Dairy and Fruit Farm, a mile distant, would be i:Q. the same boat. A few minutes later Hiram Jones, proprietor of the Ivanhoe Faim, made his appearance. Ile said he had called to see if he and Mr Brown, being extensive shippers, couldn't petition the railroad company jointly, with some effect, to secure a rebate from the new tariff about to go into effect. "This new schedule is bound to make a hole in our income, M:r. Brown," he said "I consider it an outrage, but i.hc railroad has us tied hand and foot because there is no other way by which we can get our stufl' to the Toledo market, If there was only some means by which we couL1 ship our stuff to Cherryville on the Maumee, where a con nection could be made with the l\Iaumee Navigation Oo.'s boat, I'd be in favor switching off from the railroad alto gether ancl sending our products all the way by water." "Cherryville is twenty miles from here via the Maumee Branch, and it is fori7-five miles by river from there to 'l'oledo. Transport of our goods by water, if such a thing was possible, would tafre three times as long as it does now by rail," said Mr. Brown. "Not quite, Mr. Brown," replied Mr. Jones "Remem. ber, it takes us a good hour and a half to carry our products to 1.hc station It woulcln't take but a third of that time i.o carry them to a convenient wharf on the Maumee Branch." "True enough; but what's the use of talking about such a thing when there i s no suitable means of carrying our stuff clown to Cherryville?" said Mr. Brown. "0.f course," said l\[r. Jones "This iclca of mine is purely a visionary plan, I must admit, but I wish some--


8 STARTING HIS OWN BUSINESS. body took a notion to send a steamboat up the branch as far as Liberty." 1'It wouldn't pay, I guess, or I have no doubt somebody would have put such a thing into execution before this/' "I think a small boat did run up the branch years ago before the railroad was built through this part of the State." appealed to Tom, and he grew quite excited over the possi bilities he thought he saw in it. At any rate, by the time he got back to the farm he was fully resolved to look into the matter for all it was worth, and when Tom Sheridan determined to do a thing he always did it if it was possible to get around it. CHAPTER V. "I never heard of it, but then you've livecl here longer than I. The railroad was very accommodating before it was absorbed by the P., Ft. w. & c., and made a part TOM VISITS CHERRYVILLE .A.ND MEETS WITH A GREAT of its system. These big trunk lines things their SURPRISE. own way, and shippers have to suffer The railroad makes That evening Tom talked the water freight route over the rate and we have to pay it. That's about all there is with Bob. to it. We'll either have to continue using the railroad or "'l'hat's a bang-up idea, Tom," said young Pennington, go out of business." enthusiastically. The gentlemen talked for some time lon ger on the sub"That's what I think. If I can get these two big shipject of the rapaciousness of the railroad, and once or twice pers to take a practical interest in it, I consider I'm sure of Mr . Jones referred to the river route again as something a job. They might even let me manage it for them, con much to be desired but not to be expected. sidering that I'm the person to bring it forward in workTom, inst ead of reading the magazine, founcl more ining shape." terest in listening to their conversation, and by the time "Why, of course you'd get a job, and a good one. the interview was ended he found himself speculating upon Brown and Jones are the most important people in this Mr. .Jones's ide a of a '.freight line down the Maumee section of the county. I'd like to get a job on the boat, too. Branch, which formed the southern boundary of the Pen-I'm sick of farming." nin gton and Whipple farms, to Cherryville. "Would your father let you make a change?" "I think there would be money in it," he said to him"Sure he would, if he thought it would benefit me." self, after the two men had walked outside. "If I had the "Well, I'd lilj:e to have you in with me, first-rate. By money to start such a thing I'd like nothing better than the way, do you think your father would help the scheme to go into it. I know a small steamboat laid up in Cherryalong by letting his wharf on the branch he used for a ville that would just fill the bill. I believe she could be steamboat landing?" bought cheap and run cheap. It's a wonder Mr. Brown "Why not? He doesn't use it now at all. Besides, he ancl Mr. Jones wouldn't buy her and run her in their own could then ship farm stuff himself by water instead of interest. But probably they don't know anything about carting it over to the railroad. I'll bet he;d take to your her. ,I think it might pay me to look into the matter in idea right off." their interest. I could find out the price of the boat, what "Then, another thing, Brown and Jones would have to it would cost to run her up and down the branch every get the right pf way from the county road, through yom day, and other pamiculars. Then I could submit the lane, down to the wharf, so they could cart their products scheme to Mr Jones, who seems to be stuck on a water to the river. Of course, your father would be entitled to route to Cherryville, and then if he liked it and sucCded sfJme concession for this privilege." in interesting Mr. Brown in the project, and they started "Oh, he wouldn't stand in the way if it was the matter it, I'd proba.bly be able to secure a good job on, or in conof public service. He isn't that kind of man. Now, if it nection with, the boat." was Farmer Whipple, you might make up your mind right Mr. Brown now came back with the harness tool that now that he wouldn't let any man alive use his lane if he Mr. Pennington wanted, and handed it to Tom, who thought any one was going to benefit by it." thanked him for the loan of it and started back for the "You're right; he wouldn't." farm. "He's got a wharf, too, and would expect the boat to He could think of nothing else on his way but the new stop at his place. It would make him boiling mad if he water freight route from that locality fu Cherryville, and was cut out and forced to keep on using the railroad." the more he considered it the more enthusiastic he grew "That would be poor policy-cutting off one's nose to over it. spite his face His money is as good as any one else's, anc1 He was tirec1 of farm work, and ambitious to get into I'd take it every time i I was running a freight line to something that promised a future for him. Cherryville." He was a born hustler, anyway, and thoroughly believed "If you were running the boat as your own speculation, in the old fable "that heaven helps those who help themand be knew it, I'll bet he'd rather send his stuff by rail selves." than throw a penny profit in your way." Many fascinating schemes had presented themselves to "That wouldn't suqJrise me," replied Toni. "He likes his mind before this, but as all required money to put me a whole lot, I don't think; especially after to-day" into practice, and as he had no money, nor saw an immeNext morning Tom told M:r. Pennington that he wanted cliate prospect of accumulating a sum large enough to fill to go to Cherryville for the day, and he received permis the bill, he had been obliged to forget them, for the time sion to do so, and some money to pay bis expenses being at any rate. He walked in to Liberty and took a trolley for the town Somehow or another this water freight route strongly of Carlyle, a distance of fifteen miles.


STAR'rING HIS OWN BUSINESS. 9 There he changed to the Cherryville line, which took him the ground together in a heap, the bundles flying out of through two other small towns en route, and finally landed the men's hands. him at his destination after a twentv-five mile ride from Tom, who was as agile as a monkey, was first on his fret Liberty. Then he was treated to the surprise of his life as the Cherryville was an enterpfising town at the junction men, with loud imprecations, picked themselves up. of the Maumee River and the Maumee Branch. He recognized one of them. The first thing Tom did was to go into a restaurant and It was his late aunt's husband, William Bagley get his lunch. The other was Tom Johnson, but Tom did not know him, Then he went to the agent of the Maumee River Navinever having seen him be.fore.' gation Co., down on the water front, and made inquiries The boy was fairly staggered by the unexpected meeting about the steamer Elsie French. with Mr. Bagley under circumstances that, to say the It was quite possible that the boat had been sold since least, were suspicious. he last heard about her, and that fact did not strike him "You-Tom Sheridan!" gasped Bagley, recognizing until he entered the agent's office. him. If she had been disposed of, that would knock his newly "Yes," replied Tom. "What are you doing herr ?" conceived scheme into a cocked hat. "None of your business!" snarled Bagley, looking On getting an interview with the agent of the steamboat around for his bundle. company, he found to his relief that the small steamboat "Yes, it is my business," replied Tom, pluckily. "You had n ot been sold. two have evidently no right in that house. You've been He found that she could be chartered by the clay, week up to some crooked business. Robbing the place, I'll bet, or month, or longer for that matter, at a sliding scale, acfor the peo;ple all seem to be away You've set the house cording to the length of time contracted for. on fire, too." The price included an engineer, fireman, pilot, who acted "Blast you! You young marplot !"roared Bagley "I've as captain, and two deckhands. a great mind to--" Tom got the freight rates from Cherryville to Toledo He raised his arm to strike at the boy when at that on all the products that he knew Messrs. Brown and Jones mombnt the cry of "Fire!" was raised in the street, and shipped East. several persons came running into the grounds. He inquired into all matters connected with the enter"Quick, you fool!" cried Johnson. "Let's get away. prise he had in view, and having transacted all the busiWe haven't a moment to lose ness that brought him to town he boarded a trolley car 'l'hey made a snatch at their bundles to continue their for Carlyle. retreat, but Tom blocked them. Both then made a vicious attack on the boy, to the As the car was passing through the suburbs of Cherryastonishment of the newcomers on the scene. ville, along a shaded street bordered by the better of "Gra.b these men!" exclaimed Tom, dodging a vicious residences, he noticed smoke issuing from the second story blow aimed at him by Johnson. "They're thieves and front windows of a handsome, tllree-story mansion, which incendiaries." stood well back from the sidewalk, and was surrounded by Bagley snatched up his bundle and made a. dash for the a well-kept lawn. back of the grounds. "Look!" cried Tom, excitedly, to the conductor. "That Johnson, abandoning his, followed on his companion's house is surely on fire." heels. "By George, it is!" replied the man. "That's, the home "Don't let them get away!" cried Toon. of Sidney French, president of the Maumee River N avi-Two men started after the retreating rascals, but Johngation Company. You'd better jump off and alarm the son and Bagley managed to elude them and got clear off people, for they don't appear to be aware of the danger under cover of the excitement. they are in. I'll give the alarm from the drug store at In the meantime the fire appeared to have got comthe next corner." plete control of the second story, the flames bursting from Tom sprang from the moving car and rushed into the several of the windows, and a dense cloud of smoke rising grounds where the fire was. into the comparatively calm afternoon air. He was rather surprised that nobody came running out The fire alarm bell was now ringing out its note, start in the usual panic-stricken fashion, crying "Fire!" and for ling everybody in town help. Crowds, attracted by the smoke, began to gravitate to Maybe the family is away, but there ought to be a serward the scene of the conflagration. vant or two around in the lower part of the house," he The two engines and the hook and ladder company were breathed. "I'll make for the kitchen." also on the wing by this time, creating more excitement on He ran toward the rear of the dwelling. the streets, and drawing boys and idlers in their train. He could not see a soul through any of the windows as A big crowd was lined up in the street before the blazing he passea. building, and scores of curious spectators invaded the The kitchen door was closed, and as he laid his hand grounds and surrounded the house at a safe distance. on the knob to try it, it was suddenly flung open in his A couple of men followed Tom into the kitche:a of the way, and two rough-looking men rushed forth, with bundles mansion, and the first thing they saw were the bound and in their hands. gaged forms of the cook and a maid, secured to chairs. They collided with the boy, and all three went down in. While the men were cutting them loose, Tom dashe d up


10 STARTING III OWN BUSI ESS. the back stairs to see to what extent the :fiie hacl obtained headway, and to make sure, if possible, that no other per son was in peril of their lives above. The smoke was not so dense at the back as'it was in the front of the house, where it was pol!ring down the main stnirs into the hall. Reaching the first landing, he opened a door communicating with the forward upstairs hall. A cloud of smoke rolled out into his face. Gasping and choking, Tom slammed the door shut again. Hecovering himself, he opened another door into a rpom. 'The air was thick with smoke, and the boy, dropping on his hands and knees, crawled toward another door that he dimly made out through the haze. Reaching up and turning the knob, he partially opened the door. Dense smoke rolled forth, through which he caught the bright gleam of the flames in the room beyond. Tom pushed the door shut and with his eyes tingling and his breath coming in quick gasps, he crawled back to the landing. There was a closed window on the landing. Tom staggered to it, and, throwing it open, leaned out to catch a breath of air. His appearance was greeted by a shout from those within range, who took him for an inmate of the house. With a jingle of bells the first engine and hose-carriage arrived on the scene. r The firemen began to get busy with a pair of hose lines At that moment a fresh and thrilling aspect was lent to the situa tion. The fire had by this time burned into the third story front, and from one of the winclows of that section of the buil

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