Chapter XXXVIII. An Opening at Shelby

At length they reached Shelby. Colonel Owen lived in a large and handsome mansion with ample grounds.

"Yes," he said, "I have a comfortable home, but my boys are away, and my wife and I feel lonely in this large house. It will brighten us both to have a young face at the table."

How could Walter feel otherwise than pleased. He was charmed with Mrs. Owen.

"I am glad to see you," she said. "May I call you Walter?"

"I wish you would, Mrs. Owen," said Walter.

"Did you find your horse, Richard?" she added.

"Yes, my dear."

"Did you see the man that stole it?"

"Yes, my dear," with a quiet wink at Walter.

"I invited the horse thief to come and make us a visit."

Mrs. Owen certainly was amazed.

"You did!" she ejaculated. "When is he coming?"

"He is here already."

"I don't understand you at all, Richard. You seem to be joking."

"Not at all! There he stands!" and the colonel pointed to Walter.

"What, Walter?"

"Perhaps I had better go to the hotel," suggested Walter.

"No, no! I can't believe anything evil of a young man with your face," said Mrs. Owen. "I am glad my husband brought you home with him."

"I am sure you will both be kind to me," said Walter earnestly, "and I shall appreciate it the more because I have neither father nor mother."

One afternoon Colonel Owen came in radiant.

"Well, Walter," he said, "I've got some work for you to do."

"Mr. Hayward, the teacher of our classical school, is summoned to his home. The question is, Who shall take his place till the end of the school year?

"I have mentioned your name to the trustees, who are ready to accept you on my recommendation."

"There is nothing I should like better," he said, "but do you think I am competent?"

"You ought to be able to teach any of the classes that will come under your charge. How are you in mathematics?"

"I don't think I shall have any difficulty there, sir."

"Then you're better off than I am."

"How much salary shall I receive?" asked Walter, who was beginning to grow interested.

"Twenty-five dollars a week. That's what the trustees authorize me to offer you."

"That will be quite satisfactory. How my old chums will stare when I tell them I am getting twenty-five dollars a week for teaching a classical school. I suppose," added Walter, hesitating, "I ought to look out for a boarding-place."

"What, and leave us?" asked the old lady reproachfully.

"But, Colonel Owen, remember that I shall be earning a good salary."

"You can find a use for it. It will help make up for some of the losses you have incurred. Shall I say you will accept the post?"

"Yes, sir. I will try it, and hope to succeed."