Chapter XXXVII. Ben's Visit to Pentonville
 

On the eighteenth of December Ben arrived in Pentonville. It was his first visit since he went up to New York for good. He reached home without observation, and found his mother overjoyed to see him.

"It has seemed a long, long time that you have been away, Ben," she said.

"Yes, mother; but I did a good thing in going to New York."

"You are looking well, Ben, and you have grown."

"Yes, mother; and best of all, I have prospered. Squire Davenport can't have the house!"

"You don't mean to say, Ben, that you have the money to pay it off?" asked his mother, with eager hope.

"Yes, mother; and, better still, the money is my own."

"This can't be true, Ben!" she said incredulously.

"Yes, but it is, though! You are to ask me no questions until after the twentieth. Then I will tell you all."

"I am afraid I shall have to send you to the store, for I am out of groceries."

A list was given, and Ben started for the store.

Mr. Kirk looked up in surprise as he entered.

"You're the Barclay boy, ain't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"I thought you were in New York."

"I was, but I have just got home."

"Couldn't make it, go, hey?"

Ben smiled, but did not answer.

"I may give you something to do," said Kirk, in a patronizing tone. "You've been employed in this store, I believe."

"Yes, I was here some months."

"I'll give you two dollars a week."

"Thank you," said Ben meekly, "but I shall have to take a little time to decide--say the rest of the week."

"I suppose you want to help your mother move?"

"She couldn't move alone."

"Very well; you can begin next Monday."

When Ben was going home, he met his old enemy, Tom Davenport. Tom's eyes lighted up when he saw Ben, and he crossed the street to speak to him. It may be mentioned that, though Ben had a new and stylish suit of clothes, he came home in the old suit he had worn away, and his appearance, therefore, by no means betokened prosperity.

"So you're back again!" said Tom abruptly.

"Yes."

"I always said you'd come back."

"Are you going to look for something to do?" Tom asked.

"Mr. Kirk has offered me a place in the store."

"How much pay?"

"Two dollars a week."

"You'd better take it."

"I hardly think I can work at that figure," said Ben, mildly.

"Kirk won't pay you any more."

"I'll think of it. By the way, Tom, call around and see me some time."

"I hardly think I shall have time," said Tom haughtily. "He talks as if I were his equal!" he said to himself.

"Well, good afternoon. Remember me to your father."

Tom stared at Ben in surprise. Really the store boy was getting very presumptuous he thought.