MORTON’S BUSINESS

Morton set out for Portland the next morning, leaving Rich glad and
grateful, and in the best of spirits himself, arising from the
conviction that better days were in store both for Rich and his parents.
He took his seat on the box, and was still more confirmed in this
opinion by the conversation with the driver, of whom he had inquired the
way to Mr. Richardson’s shop the afternoon of his arrival.

“Then you didn’t have any trouble finding Richardson’s shop t’other day:
git, git, git along there, you white horse.”

“No, I found it without the least difficulty.”

“Thought you would. Belong in these parts? What you ’bout there, old
Dick?” Crack, crack, crack!

“No, I belong up back of Portland.”

“Buxton, praps.”

“No.”

“Maybe you’re from Conway.”

“Thereabouts.”

“Fine men them ere two Richardsons.”

“Yes, but they have met with a great misfortune.”

“That’s so; and it’s made a great stir and talk, and a great feelin’;
for they was two men that was master sot by in this place, and desarved
to be; folks are both glad and sorry.”

“I shouldn’t think people would be glad if they were generally liked.”

“Well, that’s what I call a kernondrum. Ha, ha!–Whey there, Tom; what
you foolin’ for?–People ain’t glad that they lost their property; no,
no; everybody’s sorry for that, and they could hire any amount of money,
and go on again, if they would; but you see they’re the greatest
blacksmiths; there never was anybody in these parts could temper any
kind of an edge tool like as Clement Richardson, ‘cept his old dad afore
him; and he, they said, took it up in his own head. You take notice ’tis
born in ’em, same as a cat carries her navigation in her head. So people
say, ‘Now Clem Richardson has gone to work agin, we shall have good
tools;’ and so they feel kind of glad about that ere. They’ll have a
master sight of work as soon as it’s known round, and they’ll rise agin.
Squire Walker says ‘they’re bound to.’ I heard him tell Dr. Jones.
‘Quainted with Dr. Jones?”

“I haven’t that pleasure.”

“First-rate man. I heard him say with my own ears (that is, the
squire), says he, ‘Doctor, you can’t kill one of them Richardsons, not
if you cut their head off;’ and the doctor, he says, ‘The young sprig,
that’s been thought to be a sort of baby, is jest as good grit as the
old ones, and comes right up to the collar.’ Them isn’t jestly his
words, but that’s the upshot on ’em. Then there’s two of ’em, and they
can carry on both parts of the work. There’s only one family to support,
’cause Bob’s an old bach, and they’re not only brothers in name, but in
natur, are well matched, and step alike, jest like them ere leaders of
mine; about as good going horses as a man need wish to drive. Reckon
you’re some kin to the Richardsons.”

“No, none at all.”

“Maybe you’re sparkin’ one of the gals.”

“No, I never had the courage.”

“Reckon you’re a college-larnt man, like young Richardson; praps you’re
a doctor or lawyer, or some sich.”

“No, I’m in a _business_.”

“Du tell. What kind of a business?”

“One that pays the best the closer it’s followed.”

“I reckon that’s so with most all business.”

“I’ve invented something–something that will make my fortune.”

“Maybe you’d be willing to tell a feller what it is.”

“It is a hog-sty that will fat hogs without corn.”

“Massy sakes! How does it do it?”

“That’s the secret.”

“On course you’ll make a lot; that’s the master. How many on ’em you
sold in this town?”

“I haven’t got to work yet.”

The next day the story was all over town that the stranger who was
visiting at Richardson’s was worth a mint of money, that he had invented
a hog-sty to fat hogs without corn, and came to offer himself to Mary
Richardson, but his courage failed, and he went off without doing it.

What a pity! people said: it would have been such a nice thing for the
Richardsons, just as they were situated.

A good many thought Rich would write to the young man, and invite him to
come again.

At this period the country around the head waters of the rivers was one
unbroken forest. The lumbering operations, previous to this, had
extended but a short distance from the sea-coast; but now vast numbers
of men and teams were sent into the woods in all directions. The
character of Clement Richardson as a superior axe and edge-tool maker
was well known everywhere, and the news that he had resumed work soon
spread among the lumbermen who were laying their plans and arranging to
put teams into the woods the coming winter.

As early as the tenth of July orders for axes began to pour in upon the
Richardsons. The mills formerly belonging to them, shattered in the
freshet, were repaired, and new ones built upon the sites of those
entirely destroyed, occasioning a good deal of blacksmith work, as new
mill-chains, dogs, hooks, bands, bolts, and pintles were to be made.
Horse and ox-shoeing, and carriage work, also increased with the
increase of business.

The result of this was, that Andrew Montague enlarged the shop, built
two new chimneys and forges, and the Richardsons not only bought the old
tools, but also two pairs of bellows, anvils and other tools, for the
new forges. They now moved into their father’s old house, vacated by
Coleman, hired journeymen and took two apprentices, Clement giving his
attention entirely to the manufacture of edge tools, and Robert to
horse-shoeing and carriage work, ox-shoeing and tiring of heavy wheels.
The Richardsons now found themselves in comfortable circumstances; they
had a good house rent free, as Montague absolutely refused to receive
any rent, either for the house or shop, until the expiration of a year
from the time of occupancy, saying that they would want one year to get
fairly started, and all their money to buy coal, iron, and tools.

In consequence of this increase of work, Rich was able to leave home
sooner than he had supposed possible at the period of Morton’s visit,
and accordingly wrote to Perk that he would be with him in a week after
the commencement of the fall term.

He found Perk at the public house, waiting to welcome him, as the stage
drove up about sundown. It was the first time they had met since the
morning they left Radcliffe Hall. Our readers, who are apprised of the
relations existing between these two boys in college, and the
temperament of each, can imagine the nature of the greeting. It is
sufficient to say that it was not remarkably formal. This, however, was
not in the least objectionable to a band of academy boys (who, in
expectation of his arrival, had assembled to have a look at their new
teacher, and whom Perk now presented to Rich as a portion of his
scholars), if we may judge from the talk among themselves as they went
away, arm-in-arm, a boy every now and then breaking rank, and walking
backwards, those at the end of the file keeping about two steps in
advance, in order to face the rest, and impress their own sentiments
more forcibly upon their companions of less sanguine temperaments.

They were scarcely out of ear-shot, when Dan Clemens, breaking with a
jump from the midst, and walking backwards, with one hand on the
shoulder of Ned Baker, and the other on that of Frank Merrill, shouted
as though he was afraid some other would get the start of him,–

“Ned, Frank, all of you! I know I shall like that man; can’t help
liking him. I’m _bound_ to like him.”

“I’m the same way!” shouted Horace Williams from the extreme right.
“Didn’t you see, boys, how he and Mr. Perkins caught hold of each other?
That’s what took me down. There’s some soul in that man, I tell you.”

“O, he’s a bully man!” roared Clinton Blanchard from the extreme left;
“a fellow can tell by the looks of him; he shows it right out in his
face.”

“You might know he’s a first-rate man,” cried Phil Greely; “else Mr.
Perkins wouldn’t love him so. I thought I never should like anybody else
as Master Perkins; but I guess this man is just like him, and I mean to
tell all the fellows I know.”

By this time, as boy after boy kept stepping out, they had got into a
circle, and further progress was necessarily arrested: not so, however,
the expression of opinions.

“He has not a very scholarly look,” said Edward Randolph, who was a very
proper boy; “not at all the air of a close student. His hands are rough
and hard; he hurt me when he shook my hand.”

“You shut up,–will you?” retorted Dan. “You’ve got the dyspepsy.”

“No, I haven’t, neither.”

“Well, you want to have it,” said Frank Merrill.

It was evident that in respect to popularity among these boys, the star
of Rich was in the ascendant, and before nine o’clock the next morning
they had brought the rest of the school to the same opinion.

First impressions go a great way with all persons, especially with the
young. Had Rich gone deliberately to work to win the hearts of his
future scholars, he could have devised no method so effectual as this
unconscious manifestation of his true nature in their presence.

“The first thing for me to do, Perk,” said Rich, “is to look up a
boarding-place; till that is done I shall stay here.”

“No, you won’t stay here; you are not going to stop here; you are going
home with me to stop, to-night, at my boarding-place, and I think you
will conclude to remain there.”

When they reached the house, Perk introduced Rich to the mistress of it,
who he at the same time informed him was his aunt.

A few minutes after they sat down to supper, her son came, in whom Rich
recognized Dan Clemens, one of the boys Perk had introduced to him at
the _tavern_. Hotels were not in fashion in that section of Maine.




After the repast they went to Perk’s room. The first thing that
attracted the attention of Rich was a large picture hung over the
mantle-piece.

“I should like to know, Perk, where you got that.”

“Stole it out of Mort’s desk. I was afraid if I didn’t he’d give it to
you; but I told him of it, and he gave it to me afterwards. Isn’t that
something to call up old friends and old associations?” It was the
original sketch of James Trafton as a negro, drawn at midnight by Morton
in Radcliffe.

“It is so, Perk. How that brings the whole thing back! It seems to me I
can see you scrubbing his face, that was as white as your own, with soap
and ashes, and hear him say, ‘Does it come off, Perk?'”

“I tell you what tickled me most, Rich–to see Savage spreading ink on
that poultice, and Trafton thinking it came off his own face.”

“Those were pleasant days, Perk; but they can come back only in
recollection; and I feel like applying to that production of Mort’s the
language of Burns,–

‘Thou mind’st me of departed joys,
Departed never to return.'”

“Rich, kick off your boots and put on these slippers.” Rich obeyed. “Now
put on this study-gown.”

Perk then pulled a lounge up to the fire, and they sat down to talk.

After reviewing the past, which old class-mates are as sure to do as is
an old sailor to overhaul his chest, and take everything out of it
(sometimes a very light job), as soon as he gets to sea, Perk said,–

“I didn’t expect you so soon, Rich.”

“I was able to leave sooner than I expected when I wrote you. Might,
indeed, have come before; but it took me a week to clean up. Look at
these.” He spread out his hands, that were hard, the palms and the edges
of the forefingers and thumbs a rusty brown, and cracked.

“It is not dirt, but stains from iron and from coal dust; and that, too,
after using on them a quart of linseed oil, not to mention vinegar,
soap, and rye meal.”

“How are you pleased with my aunt, Rich?”

“Very much indeed. The boy at table is one of those I met at the stage
tavern. Is he your cousin?”

“Yes, and a downright good boy he is, too, and a real comfort to my
aunt, who is a widow. He is dead in love with you.”

“Perhaps he will change his mind; boys are not wont to cherish a very
fervent love for teachers.”

“You’ll find yourself mistaken in that respect. Dan, and a crony of his,
Horace Williams, will take to you, and cling to you, just as Ned Austin
and Will Montgomery did to you and Mort. You can stimulate them, and
they will leap under it as a high-spirited horse catches the excitement
of its rider, especially if he loves him.”