Robert Coverdale's Struggle - LightNovelOnl.com
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"Shall I take care of it for you, Robert?" asked Mrs. Trafton.
"No, Aunt Jane; he would find it out, and I don't want to get you into any trouble. I know of a good place to put it--a place where he will never find it. I will put it there till we need to use it."
"You must buy something for yourself with it. The money is yours."
Robert shook his head decidedly.
"I don't need anything--that is, I don't need anything but what I can do without. We will keep it to buy bread and tea and anything else that we need. Now, aunt, while you are steeping the tea, I will go out and dispose of the money."
Here it is necessary to explain that though John Trafton started for home when he heard from Mr. Sands about Robert's unexpected wealth, he changed his mind as he passed the tavern. He thought he must have one more drink.
He entered and preferred his request.
"Trafton," said the landlord, "don't you think you've had enough?"
"Not quite. I want one more glass and then I'll go home."
"But you are owing me several dollars. Clear off that score and then you may have as much as you will."
"I'll pay you a dollar on account to-morrow."
"Do you mean it?"
"Yes. Bob's got some money of mine--over a dollar. I'll get it to-night and bring it round tomorrow."
"Of course, Trafton, If you'll keep your credit good, I won't mind trusting you. Well, what shall it be?"
John Trafton gave his order and sat down again in the barroom. He felt so comfortable that he easily persuaded himself that there was no hurry about collecting the money in his nephew's hands. Robert was at home by this time and would have no way of spending the balance of his cash.
"It's all right," said the fisherman; "I'll wait till ten o'clock and then I'll go home."
Meanwhile Robert went out on the cliff and looked about him. He looked down upon the waves as they rolled in on the beach and he enjoyed the sight, familiar as it was, for he had a love of the grand and beautiful in nature.
"I think if I were a rich man," thought the poor fisherman's boy, "I would like to build a fine house on the cliff, with an observatory right here, where I could always see the ocean. It's something to live here, if I do have to live in a poor cabin. But I must consider where I will hide my money."
At his feet was a small tin box, which had been thrown away by somebody, and it struck Robert that this would make a good depository for his money. Fortunately the cover of the box was attached to it.
He took the money from his vest pocket and dropped it into the box. Then he covered it, and, finding a good place, he scooped out the dirt and carefully deposited the box in the hole.
He carefully covered it up, replacing the dirt, and took particular notice of the spot, so that there would be no difficulty in finding it again whenever he had occasion.
Having attended to this duty, he retraced his steps to the cabin and found that the tea had been steeped and the table was covered with a neat cloth and two cups and saucers were set upon it.
"Tea's all ready, Robert," said his aunt cheerfully. "The smell of it does me good. It's better than all the liquor in the world!"
Robert did not like tea as well as his aunt, but still he relished the warm drink, for the night was cool, and more than ever he rejoiced to see how much his aunt enjoyed what had latterly been rather a rare luxury.
About nine o'clock Robert went to bed and very soon fell asleep.
He had not been asleep long before he was conscious of being rudely shaken.
Opening his eyes, he saw his uncle with inflamed face and thickened utterance.
"What's wanted, uncle?" he asked.
"Where's that money, you young rascal? Give me the dollar and forty-two cents you're hiding from me!"
MAN AGAINST BOY
As Robert, scarcely awake, looked into the threatening face of his uncle he felt that the crisis had come and that all his firmness and manliness were demanded.
Our hero was not disposed to rebel against just authority. He recognized that his uncle, poor as his guardianship was, had some claim to his obedience.
In any ordinary matter he would have unhesitatingly obeyed him. But, in the present instance, he felt that his aunt's comfort depended, in a measure, upon his retention of the small amount of money which he was fortunate enough to possess.
Of course he had thought of all this before he went to sleep, and he had decided, in case his uncle heard of his good luck, to keep the money at all hazards.
For a minute he remained silent, meeting calmly the angry and impatient glance of his uncle.
"Give me that money, I tell you!" demanded the fisherman with thickened utterance.
"I haven't got any money of yours, Uncle John," said Robert, now forced to say something.
"You lie, boy! You've got a dollar and forty-two cents."
"I haven't got as much as that, but I have nearly as much."
"Have you been spending any more money?"
"I bought a loaf of bread for six cents."
"Then you've got a dollar and thirty-six cents left."
"Yes, I have."
"Give it to me!"
"You want to spend it for rum, I suppose, uncle."
"Curse your impudence! What difference does it make to you what I do with it?"
Robert rose to a sitting posture, and, carried away by just indignation, he said:
"I mean to keep that money and spend it for my aunt. There ought to be no need of it. You ought to support her yourself and supply her with all she needs; but, instead of that, you selfishly spend all your money on drink and leave her to get along the best way she can!"