Walter Sherwood's Probation by Horatio Alger
Chapter V. Walter Takes Matters Philosophically
Walter's announcement, recorded at the close of the preceding chapter, fell like a thunderbolt on his room-mate.
"You have lost your money?" repeated Gates, in a tone of incredulity. "You don't mean it!"
"Read that letter, Gates," said Walter, pushing it over to his chum.
The letter was, of course, from Doctor Mack, and ran thus:
"DEAR WALTER: Your letter asking for an extra check for one hundred dollars came to hand three or four days since. I have delayed answering for two reasons. I am satisfied that you are spending more money than is necessary, and, moreover, I have shrunk from communicating to you some unpleasant intelligence. Upon me have devolved the investment and management of your property, and while I have tried to be cautious, there have been losses which I regret. In one case three-fourths of an investment has been lost. Of course, you didn't know this, or you would have been less free in your expenditures.
"I am not prepared to tell you how you stand. I think it will be prudent for you to leave college at the end of this term, and for a year to seek some employment. During that time I will do what I can to settle matters on a better footing, and perhaps at the end of that time you will be able to return to your studies. You are so young--I think you must be younger than the majority of your classmates--that you can afford to lose the time.
"I send you a check for sixty dollars in place of a hundred. I wish you to have your regular term bills sent to me, and I will forward checks in payment. I will see that you leave Euclid owing no man anything. When you come home for the vacation we can consult as to the future. I hope you will not be much depressed or cast down by the news I send. Your money is not all lost, and I may be able, in the course of twelve months, to recover in a large measure what has been sunk.
"Your affectionate guardian,
"A regular sockdolager, isn't it, Gates?" said Walter.
"I don't see that it's so bad," answered Gates slowly. "Your money isn't all lost."
"But I must leave college."
"True; but, as your guardian says, you are young, and if you come back at the end of a year you will still be a year younger than I for your standing. Of course, I am sorry to have you go."
"I am sure of that, Gates."
"Is the prospect of working for a year so unpleasant to you, Walter?"
"No, I can't say it is," said Walter, brightening up, "not if I can choose my employment. I shouldn't like to go behind the counter in a grocery store, or--"
"Black boots for a living?"
"Well, hardly," said Walter, laughing.
"Probably your guardian will consult your preferences."
"I wish I could arrange to travel. I should like to see something of the world."
"Why not? You might get an agency of some kind. One college vacation-- last summer--I traveled about as book agent."
"How did you like it?"
"Not very much. I met with a good many rebuffs, and was occasionally looked upon with suspicion, as I could see. Still, I made a living, and brought back thirty dollars to start me on my new term."
"Just what my supper cost the other evening."
"Yes; I didn't think it wise to spend the money in the same way."
"You have cheered me up, Gates. I really believe I shall like to spend a year in some kind of business."
"Write your guardian to that effect. He may be blaming himself for his agency in your misfortune, and a cheerful letter from you will brighten him up."
"All right! I will."
Walter sat down and dashed off the following note:
"DEAR GUARDIAN: Your letter just received. I won't pretend that I am not sorry for the loss of my money, but I am sure that you acted for the best. Don't trouble yourself too much about the matter. Perhaps it will all come out right in a year or so. In the meantime I think I shall find it not unpleasant to work for a year if you will let me select the kind of business I am to follow.
"I will make the money you sent me do for the present, and will send you my term bills as you desire. You can depend upon my settling up as cheap as possible, though I confess I have not hitherto been nearly as economical as I might have been. Now that I know it is necessary, you shall have no reason to complain of me.
"Your affectionate ward,
"What do you think of that, Gates?" asked Walter, giving the letter to his chum to read.
"Excellent! It shows the right spirit."
"I am glad you think so."
"Do you know, Walter, I think I have more occasion for regret than you? I must bid farewell to my room-mate and this pleasant room."
"To your room-mate, yes, but not necessarily to the room."
"I shall have to furnish it in very different style for the present. I am not sure that I can afford a carpet. The luxury of my present surroundings, I am afraid, will spoil me for humble quarters."
"Don't borrow any trouble about that. I shall leave you the furniture as it stands, and when I come back to college, even if we are in different classes, you must take me in again."
"Of course I will agree to an arrangement so much in my favor, but perhaps your guardian will think you had better sell the furniture and realize what you can."
"No, I am sure he won't. There's nothing mean about Doctor Mack. You can take in any one you please in my place, only I am to come back at the end of a year if things turn out well."
"I heartily hope you will come back, and if you will excuse my saying so, with a more earnest spirit, and a determination to do justice to your really excellent talents."
"Good advice! I'll adopt it. I'll begin to do better at once. I was intending to take a drive this evening, but it would cost me two dollars, and I will stay at home and save the money."
"Come with me on a walk, instead."
"We will go to the top of Mount Legar. At sunset there will be a fine view from there."
"I must stop on the way and pay Mr. Daniels what I owe him. He will lose a good deal by my going away."
"True; but his loss will be your gain."
At the outset of their walk the two students called at the hotel, and found Mr. Daniels on the piazza.
"Glad to see you, Mr. Sherwood," said the landlord briskly.
"I think you will be, Mr. Daniels, for I have come to pay your bills."
"Money is always welcome, Mr. Sherwood. You have no idea how much I lose by trusting students. There was Green, of the last graduating class, left college owing me forty-five dollars. He has gone West somewhere, and I never expect to get a cent of my money."
"You came pretty near losing by me, Daniels."
"How is that?" queried the landlord, looking surprised.
"I've lost a lot of money, or my guardian has for me, and I've got to leave college at the end of this term."
"You don't say so!" ejaculated Mr. Daniels regretfully.
"It's all true. My guardian wrote me about it this morning."
"I suppose you're a good deal cut up about it, Mr. Sherwood."
"Well, I was at first, but I may be able to come back after a year or two. I shall go into some business, and meanwhile my guardian will do what he can to recover the money lost. It isn't so bad, after all."
"I shall be sorry to have you go, Mr. Sherwood."
"You will miss my bills, at any rate. I wouldn't have given that supper the other evening if I had known how things stood. I would have put the thirty dollars to better use."
"Well, you've paid up like a gentleman, anyway. I hope you'll come back in a year as rich as ever. You wanted a team to-night, James told me."
"That was before I got my guardian's letter. I shall walk, instead of taking a carriage-ride."
"I will let the account stand, if you wish."
"No. I can't afford to run up any bills. Good night, Mr. Daniels."
"You did right, Walter," said Gates. "It is a bad thing to run up bills."
"Especially when you are poor. It seems odd to be poor."
"I am used to it, Walter. You don't seem very sad over it."
"I am not. That is what puzzles me. I really begin to think I like it."