Chapter XXIX. Frank's Idea.
 

"That's what I call luck!" thought Richard, as he hurried back to the Massanets' home. "I'm mighty glad I called on Mr. Martin. He seems to be a gentleman and will no doubt do what is right. I hope Frank has been equally fortunate."

Mrs. Massanet was surprised to see him returning so soon.

"What ees eet?" she asked, anxiously. "I hope you no deesheartened a'ready?"

"No, indeed!" returned the boy; and he told her of his good fortune.

"Zat ees nice!" exclaimed the Frenchwoman. "I hope you gits zee place widout trouble."

And then she gave a little sigh as she thought of her son's uncertain search.

"Maybe Frank will be as lucky," said Richard, who fancied he could read her thoughts.

"I sincerely hope so," returned Mrs. Massanet.

Not having anything special to do for the rest of the day, Richard sat down and wrote a long letter home. He intended not to send it until the following day, when he could add a postscript that the new place was positively his.

Five weeks in the great metropolis had worked wonders in the boy. He no longer looked or felt "green," and he was fast acquiring a business way that was bound, sooner or later, to be highly beneficial to him.

In these five weeks he had received several letters from friends and not a few from home, the most important news in all of them being the announcement of his sister Grace's engagement to Charley Wood, and baby Madge's first efforts to master her A B C's.

"I wish I could afford to bring them all to New York," had been Richard's thought. "Or else near enough so that I could go home to them every night. It would be so pleasant to have them around me. Perhaps some day I can afford to get a little cottage right near the city, which would be nicest of all; for I am sure mother would like to have a garden, even if it was a small one."

His letter for home finished, Richard spent an hour or more in the preparation of an advertisement which he intended to insert in one of the army journals on the following week. The advertisement gave his father's full name, company, regiment and so forth, and asked for the address of any one who had known him during the war, with promise of reward for information.

By the above it is easy to see that Richard was now in earnest about getting his father's pension money. Not only was he satisfied that they were entitled to it, but just now when his mother and sisters were struggling in Mossvale to make both ends meet, it was actually needed.

During the time that he had been working Richard had sent home every cent that he could spare. To be sure, the total amount had not been large--only a few dollars--but in the country this went a long way, and for it, as well as for the fact that it showed the son and brother's willingness to help, those at home were extremely grateful.

It was dinner-time when Richard had finished writing out the advertisement. Mrs. Massanet had prepared only a lunch, reserving a regular meal for the evening.

After he had eaten the time hung heavy upon Richard's hands. He put on his hat and sauntered down the street, and finally concluded to pay a visit to his friends at the Watch Below. He had not seen Doc Linyard since that visit to Frying Pan Court, and he was curious to know how Tom Clover was, and if the property in England had been heard from further.

It being the middle of the afternoon, trade at the small restaurant was slack, and Richard found both the old sailor and his wife glad to see him.

"Tom's mendin' fast," was the old sailor's reply to Richard's question concerning the sick man. "We are goin' to bring him down here to-morrow or the day after. He's in his bearings again--right mind, you know--and I think as how the worst is over."

"And where is Pep?"

"Pep's to school; I sent him last week. He's got to have an eddication, no two ways on it. Betty's goin' to manage it with Tom when he is well."

"I am glad to hear that. And how about your property?"

"Oh, it's safe. Last week I run afoul of an old lawyer friend of mine-- saved his life onct in a blow off Cape Hatteras--and he's taken it in tow. He's written to the lawyers on the tudder side and we're to fix it up just as soon as Tom's strong enough to sign articles." "Good enough," said Richard, heartily.

During the course of the conversation which followed he told Doc Linyard of his hopes of finding some one who had known his father during the war.

"Tom is an old soldier!" exclaimed Doc. "He took to the army and I took to the navy."

"Is that so? What regiment was he in?"

"I don't know. He was in Boston at the time, and was drafted from there."

"My father went from here. But he might he able to put me on some sort of a track," added Richard, who was unwilling to let even the smallest chance escape him.

"I'll ask him about it when he's strong enough. How much would the pension money amount to?"

"Not less than a thousand dollars--perhaps twice that."

"Phew! It's worth workin' for."

"Yes, indeed!" put in Mrs. Linyard. "I hope you get it, Mr. Dare; you deserve it."

When Richard returned to his boarding-place he met Frank Massanet at the door. He could see by his friend's face that he had not met with success.

"I tried twenty-six places," reported Frank. "Every one had all the help needed. One man offered to put me on the road, selling goods on commission, but I was to pay my own expenses. The offer didn't appear good and I declined it. How did you make out?"

Richard told him. Of course Frank was surprised.

"It wasn't luck though," he said, "it was sticking to the principle you started out on. I trust it is a sure thing. It will give you an insight into the retail trade, so that you may start for yourself some day. I would start in for myself to-morrow, if I had the capital."

"Do you understand the retail business?" asked Richard, with much interest.

"Pretty well. Last year and around the holidays I tended during the evenings for a firm on Fourteenth Street, and I had a good chance to learn all the ins and outs. Besides, I was in the business when I went to school--carrying papers and parcels between school-hours."

"How much would you need to start?"

"I've got six hundred dollars saved. If I had twice that I wouldn't be afraid to hire a store and try it."

"Can't you raise the other?"

"I haven't tried yet. I would rather use my own money--or take a partner, if I could find the right fellow."

"I'd like to go in with you," said Richard. "I think we would get along first-rate together."

"I know we would," cried Frank, enthusiastically. "Can't you raise the money?"

"I don't think I can. I'll think of it though."