Chapter V. The Envelope
 

Herbert woke up early the next morning, and a feeling of sadness came over him as he reflected that it was his last morning in Waverley. He was going out into the world, and, as he could not help thinking, under very unfavorable auspices. New scenes and new experiences usually have a charm for a boy, but Mr. Holden's disagreeable face and unpleasant smile rose before him, and the prospect seemed far from tempting.

When he came downstairs, he found Mrs. Kent in the kitchen.

"You are up early, Mrs. Kent," said Herbert.

"Yes, Herbert; I want you to have a good breakfast before you go."

It certainly was a nice breakfast. Tender beefsteak, warm biscuit, golden butter, potatoes fried crisp and brown, and excellent coffee, might have tempted any appetite. Herbert, in spite of his sadness, did full justice to the bountiful meal.

The family had hardly risen from breakfast when the sound of wheels was heard outside, and directly there was a knock at the door.

"It's Mr. Holden," said the doctor, looking from the front window.

"Must we part from you so soon, Herbert?" said Mrs. Kent, affectionately.

"Where oo goin', Herbert?" asked little Mary, clinging to his knee,

"Herbert's going away, Mary," said he, stooping and kissing his little friend.

"Herbert mustn't go 'way," said the little girl, in discontent.

"Herbert come back soon, and bring candy for Mary," he said, wishing that his words might come true.

By that time Mr. Holden had entered, and was surveying the scene with his disagreeable smile.

"Little Mary is quite attached to Herbert," said the doctor.

"I am sorry," said Mr. Holden, "that I have no little girls, as Herbert seems fond of them."

Herbert doubted if he could become attached to anyone related to Mr. Holden.

"I'm a bachelor," said Mr. Holden, "though perhaps I ought to be ashamed to say so. If I had had the good fortune early in life to encounter a lady like your good wife here, it might have been different."

"It isn't too late yet, Mr. Holden," said the doctor.

"Well, perhaps not. If Mrs. Kent is ever a widow, I may try my luck."

"What a disagreeable man," thought the doctor's wife, not propitiated by the compliment. "Herbert," she said, "here are a couple of handkerchiefs I bought in the village yesterday. I hope you will find them useful."

"Yes; no doubt he will," said Mr. Holden, laughing. "He will think of you whenever he has a bad cold."

Nobody even smiled at this witty sally, and, Mr. Holden, a little disappointed, remarked: "Well, time's getting on. I guess we must be going, as we have a long journey before us."

The whole family accompanied Herbert to the road. After kissing Mary and Mrs. Kent, and shaking the doctor cordially by the hand, Herbert jumped into the wagon. Just before the horse started the doctor handed our hero a sealed envelope, saying, "You can open it after a while."

Though, like most boys of his age, Herbert had a great horror of making a baby of himself, he could hardly help crying as he rode up the street, and felt that he had parted from his best friends. His eyes filled with tears, which he quietly wiped away with the corner of his handkerchief.

"Come, come, don't blubber, boy," said Mr. Holden, coarsely.

Herbert was not weak enough to melt into tears at an unkind word. It roused his indignation, and he answered, shortly, "When you see me blubbering, it'll be time enough to speak, Mr. Holden."

"It looked a good deal like it, at any rate," said Abner. "However, I'm glad if I'm mistaken. There's nothing to cry about that I can see."

"No, perhaps not," said Herbert; "but there's something to be sorry for."

"Something to be sorry for, is there?" said Abner Holden.

"Yes."

"Well, what is it?"

"I've left my best friends, and I don't know when I shall see them again."

"Nor I," said Mr. Holden. "But I think it's high time you left them."

"Why?" asked Herbert, indignantly.

"Because they were petting you and making too much of you. You won't get such treatment as that from me."

"I don't expect it," said our hero.

"That's lucky," said Abner Holden, dryly. "It's well that people shouldn't expect what they are not likely to get."

Here a sense of the ludicrous came over Herbert as he thought of being Mr. Holden's pet, and he laughed heartily. Not understanding the reason of his sudden mirth, that gentleman demanded, in a tone of irritation, "What are you making a fool of yourself about?"

"What am I laughing at?" said Herbert, not liking the form of the question.

"Yes," snarled Abner.

"The idea of being your pet," explained Herbert, frankly.

Mr. Holden did not appreciate the joke, and said roughly, "You better shut up, if you know what's best for yourself."

They rode along in silence for a few minutes. Then Abner Holden, thinking suddenly of the envelope which Dr. Kent had placed in Herbert's hand at parting, and feeling curious as to its contents, asked:

"What did the doctor give you just as you were starting?"

"It was an envelope."

"I know that; but what was there in it?"

"I haven't looked," said our hero.

He felt a little satisfaction in snubbing Mr. Holden, whom he saw he would never like.

"Why don't you open it?"

"I didn't think of it before."

"I suppose there is some present inside."

Herbert decided to open the envelope, out of respect for Dr. Kent. On opening it, he drew out a five-dollar bill, and a few penciled words, which were as follows:

"DEAR HERBERT: I would gladly give you more if I had the means. I hope you will use the inclosed money in any way that may be most serviceable to you. You must write to me often. Be a good boy, as you always have been; let your aims be noble; try to do right at all hazards, and may God bless your efforts, and make you a good and true man. Such is the prayer of your affectionate friend, GEORGE KENT."

Herbert read these lines with emotion, and inwardly resolved that he would try to carry out the recommendations laid down. His thoughts were broken in upon by Mr. Holden, whose sharp eyes detected the bank-note.

"There's money in the letter, isn't there?"

"Yes."

"How much?"

"Five dollars."

"Five dollars, hey?" he said. "You'd better give it to me to keep for you."

"Thank you, Mr. Holden; I can take care of it, myself."

"It isn't a good plan for boys to have so large a sum of money in their possession," said Abner Holden, who was anxious to secure it himself.

"Why not?" asked Herbert.

"Because they are likely to spend it improperly."

"Dr. Kent didn't seem to think I was likely to do that."

"No; he trusted you too much."

"I hope it won't prove so."

"You'd better keep out of the way of temptation. You might lose it, besides."

"I don't often lose things."

"Come, boy," said Mr. Holden, getting impatient; "Dr. Kent, no doubt, intended that I should take care of the money for you. You'd better give it up without further trouble."

"Why didn't he give it to you, then?" demanded Herbert.

"He supposed you would give it to me."

Mr. Holden's motive for getting the money into his own hands was twofold. First, he knew that without money Herbert would be more helpless and more in his power. Secondly, as he had agreed to supply Herbert with clothing, he thought he might appropriate the money towards this purpose, and it would be so much of a saving to his own pocket. Perhaps Herbert suspected some such design. At any rate, he had no intention of gratifying Mr. Holden by giving up the money.

"Well, are you going to give me the money?" blustered Abner Holden, taking out his pocketbook, ready to receive it.

"No," said Herbert.

"You'll repent this conduct, young man," said Holden, scowling.

"I don't think I shall," said our hero. "I don't understand why you are so anxious to get hold of the money."

"It is for your good," said Abner.

"I'd rather keep it," said Herbert.

Abner Holden hardly knew what to do. The money was by this time safely stowed away in Herbert's pocket, where he could not very well get at it. However, he had a plan for getting it which he resolved to put into practice when they stopped for dinner.