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Robert Coverdale's Struggle Part 23

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"I don't want him to know it, aunt."

"I shall not tell him, Robert, but he may find out."

"That is not all. I have got regular work to do which will bring me in two dollars a week."

Then Robert told his surprised aunt the story of his engagement by the hermit, who for two years had been the mystery of the village.

"It never rains but it pours, you see, aunt," he said cheerfully.



He wondered how his uncle would receive him and whether he would make a fresh demand for the small sum of money which had been the cause of the original trouble.

But John Trafton had been thoroughly alarmed by the consequences of his former act and he had, besides, such experience of Robert's firmness that he concluded it would not be worth while to carry the matter any further. He greeted Robert sullenly.

"So you are back?" he said gruffly.

"Yes," answered the boy.

"Who took you off?"

"I put off on a raft and should have been drowned but for the hermit. He saved me."

"You deserved to be drowned for putting off on a raft."

"Did you think I was going to stay on the island?" asked Robert with spirit. "If I had been drowned it would have been your fault."

"None of your impudence, boy!" said John Trafton.

And then he dropped the subject without referring to the money.

During the day Robert called on Herbert Irving to thank him for his interest in his behalf.

George was in the yard, but his valise was in his hand and he seemed on the point of departure. He scowled at Robert, but didn't speak.

"I'm glad to see you back, Bob," said Herbert warmly. "What an old rascal your uncle is! Now tell me all about how you escaped."

While Robert was telling the story the stage drove up and George got on board.

"Good-by, George!" said Herbert.

George did not deign a reply and rode sullenly away.

"He doesn't find that the climate of Cook's Harbor suits him," said Herbert significantly.

"He doesn't seem very happy about going," said Robert. "I didn't expect he would notice me, but he did not bid you good-by."

"The fact is George and I have had a flare-up," said Herbert. "I was disgusted with his heartlessness in refusing to take you from Egg Island, and I told him so pretty plainly. He accused me of insulting him and threatened to lay a complaint before my mother. I requested him to do so. Considerably to his surprise, she took my part and reproved him for his selfish and disagreeable pride. This was too much for the young gentleman, and he gave notice that he should return to the city. No one attempted to keep him, and he has felt compelled to carry out his threat, a good deal to his disappointment."

"I am sorry you are losing your visitor on my account, Herbert."

"You needn't. Though he is my cousin, I am glad to have him go."

"But you will feel lonely."

"Not if you come to see me every day, Bob."

"If we didn't live in a poor cabin, I would ask you to visit me."

"Never mind about how you live; I will come. It isn't the house I shall come to see, but you. Some time when you are going out fishing I wish you would take me along."

"With all my heart, if you will come."

To Herbert alone Robert confided his discovery of the purse of gold.

It was about a week before Robert had occasion to use any of his gold.

By that time he had spent the balance of the money given him by Mr.

Lawrence Tudor and was forced to fall back upon his gold, having as yet received nothing from the hermit, who knew that he was not in immediate want of money.

Abner Sands was standing behind the counter in his grocery when Robert entered.

"What can I do for ye, Robert?" asked the trader.

"You may give me two pounds of tea and six pounds of flour."

"I s'pose ye've got the money," said Sands cautiously.

"Of course I have."

"You're doin' well now, Robert, I take it?" said the trader.

"Better than I used to," answered Robert.

He did not choose to make a confidant of Mr. Sands, who was a man of great curiosity and an inveterate gossip.

When the goods were done up in separate parcels Robert took out the two-dollar-and-a-half gold piece and passed it to the grocer.

"Why, I declare, it's gold!" exclaimed Mr. Sands wonderingly.

"Yes, it is gold."

"Of all things, I didn't expect to get gold from you, Robert Coverdale.

I reckon you've found a gold mine!"

"Perhaps I have," said Robert, smiling.

As he put his hand in his pocket another gold piece dropped to the floor and he picked it up hastily, provoked at his carelessness, not, however, before the astonished trader had seen it.

He was sorely puzzled to know how a poor boy like Robert could have so much money in his possession and put one or two questions, which our hero evaded.

"The tea and flour came to a dollar and a quarter," said the shrewd trader, "and that leaves a dollar and a quarter to come to you."

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