Robert Coverdale's Struggle Part 16

Robert Coverdale's Struggle -

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"I don't think it was quite as much as that," said George.

"I guess twenty-five cents will about pay me."

"Twenty-five cents!" repeated George, all his meanness asserting itself.

"I think that is a very high price!"

"Did you expect to get the boat for nothing?" asked the fisherman, surprised.

"Of course not. I wouldn't be beholden to a fisherman," George said haughtily.

"Indeed! How much did you calculate to pay?"

"I think twenty cents is enough."

"Then the only difference between us is five cents?"


"Then you can pay me twenty cents. I can live without the extra five cents."

George, pleased at gaining his point, put two ten-cent pieces in the hands of the owner of the boat, saying:

"I don't care about the five cents, of course, but I don't like to pay too much."

"I understand, Master Randolph," said the fisherman with a quizzical smile. "In your position, of course, you need to be economical."

"What do you mean?" asked George with a flushed face.

"Oh, nothing!" answered Ben Bence, smiling.

The smile made George uncomfortable. Was it possible that this common fisherman was laughing at him? But, of course, that did not matter, and he had saved his five cents.

George got home in time for supper, but it was not till after supper that he mentioned to Herbert:

"I saw that young fisherman this afternoon."

"What young fisherman?"

"The one you played croquet with this morning."

"Oh, Bob Coverdale! Where did you see him?" asked Herbert with interest.

"On Egg Island."

"How came he there?" inquired Herbert, rather surprised.

"He went there in a boat with his uncle. I expect he's there now."

"Why should he stay over there so long?"

"It's a rich joke," said George, laughing. "It seems his uncle was mad with him and landed him there as a punishment. He's got to stay there all night."

"I don't see anything so very amusing in that," said Herbert, who was now thoroughly interested.

"He wanted me to take him off," proceeded George. "He was trying to build a raft. I told him he'd better keep at it."

If George had watched the countenance of his cousin he would have seen that Herbert was very angry, but he was so amused by the thought of Robert's perplexity that he did not notice.

"Do you mean to say that you refused to take him off?" demanded Herbert in a quick, stern tone that arrested George's attention.

"Of course I did! What claim had he on me?"

"And you deliberately left him there, when it would have been no trouble to give him a passage back?"

"Really, Herbert, I don't like your way of speaking. It was my boat--or, at least, I was paying for the use of it--and I didn't choose to take him as a passenger."

"George Randolph, do you want to know my opinion of you?" asked Herbert hotly.

"What do you mean?" stammered George.

"I mean this, that I am ashamed of you. You are the most contemptibly mean fellow I ever met, and I am heartily sorry there is any relationship between us."

"I consider that an insult!" exclaimed George, pale with anger.

"I am glad you do. I mean it as such. Just tell my mother I won't be back till late in the evening."

"Where are you going?"

"I am going to get a boat and row to Egg Island for Bob Coverdale," and Herbert dashed up the street in the direction of the beach.

"He must be crazy!" muttered George, looking after his cousin.

Herbert Irving reached the beach and sought out Ben Bence.

"Mr. Bence," he said, "I want to go to Egg Island. If you can spare the time, come with me and I'll pay you for your time."

"What are you going for, Master Herbert?"

Upon this Herbert explained the object of his trip.

"Now, will you go?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the fisherman heartily, "I'll go and won't charge you a cent for the boat or my time. Bob Coverdale's a favorite of mine, and I'm sorry his uncle treats him so badly."

Strong, sturdy strokes soon brought them to the island.

"Bob! Where are you. Bob?" called Herbert.

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