Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience

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Author: Horatio Alger

Chapter XXXIII. - From Albany to Niagara.

Carl took the afternoon train on the following day for Buffalo. His thoughts were busy with the startling discovery he had made in regard to his stepmother. Though he had never liked her, he had been far from imagining that she was under the ban of the law. It made him angry to think that his father had been drawn into a marriage with such a woman—that the place of his idolized mother had been taken by one who had served a term at Sing Sing.

Did Peter know of his mother’s past disgrace? he asked himself. Probably not, for it had come before his birth. He only wondered that the secret had never got out before. There must be many persons who had known her as a prisoner, and could identify her now. She had certainly been fortunate with the fear of discovery always haunting her. Carl could not understand how she could carry her head so high, and attempt to tyrannize over his father and himself.

What the result would be when Dr. Crawford learned the antecedents of the woman whom he called wife Carl did not for a moment doubt. His father was a man of very strict ideas on the subject of honor, and good repute, and the discovery would lead him to turn from Mrs. Crawford in abhorrence. Moreover, he was strongly opposed to divorce, and Carl had heard him argue that a divorced person should not be permitted to remarry. Yet in ignorance he had married a divorced woman, who had been convicted of theft, and served a term of imprisonment. The discovery would be a great shock to him, and it would lead to a separation and restore the cordial relations between himself and his son.

Not long after his settlement in Milford; Carl had written as follows to his father:

"Dear Father:—Though I felt obliged to leave home for reasons which we both understand, I am sure that you will feel interested to know how I am getting along. I did not realize till I had started out how difficult it is for a boy, brought up like myself, to support himself when thrown upon his own exertions. A newsboy can generally earn enough money to maintain himself in the style to which he is accustomed, but I have had a comfortable and even luxurious home, and could hardly bring myself to live in a tenement house, or a very cheap boarding place. Yet I would rather do either than stay in a home made unpleasant by the persistent hostility of one member.

"I will not take up your time by relating the incidents of the first two days after I left home. I came near getting into serious trouble through no fault of my own, but happily escaped. When I was nearly penniless I fell in with a prosperous manufacturer of furniture who has taken me into his employment. He gives me a home in his own house, and pays me two dollars a week besides. This is enough to support me economically, and I shall after a while receive better pay.

"I am not in the office, but in the factory, and am learning the business practically, starting in at the bottom. I think I have a taste for it, and the superintendent tells me I am making remarkable progress. The time was when I would have hesitated to become a working boy, but I have quite got over such foolishness. Mr. Jennings, my employer, who is considered a rich man, began as I did, and I hope some day to occupy a position similar to his.

"I trust you are quite well and happy, dear father. My only regret is, that I cannot see you occasionally. While my stepmother and Peter form part of your family, I feel that I can never live at home. They both dislike me, and I am afraid I return the feeling. If you are sick or need me, do not fail to send for me, for I can never forget that you are my father, as I am your affectionate son,

Carl."

This letter was handed to Dr. Crawford at the breakfast table. He colored and looked agitated when he opened the envelope, and Mrs. Crawford, who had a large share of curiosity, did not fail to notice this.

"From whom is your letter, my dear?" she asked, in the soft tone which was habitual with her when she addressed her husband

"The handwriting is Carl’s," answered Dr. Crawford, already devouring the letter eagerly.

"Oh!" she answered, in a chilly tone. "I have been expecting you would hear from him. How much money does he send for?"

"I have not finished the letter." Dr. Crawford continued reading. When he had finished he laid it down beside his plate.

"Well?" said his wife, interrogatively. "What does he have to say? Does he ask leave to come home?"

"No; he is quite content where he is."

"And where is that?"

"At Milford."

"That is not far away?"

"No; not more than sixty miles."

"Does he ask for money?"

"No; he is employed."

"Where?"

"In a furniture factory."

"Oh, a factory boy."

"Yes; he is learning the business."

"He doesn’t seem to be very ambitious," sneered Mrs. Crawford.

"On the contrary, he is looking forward to being in business for himself some day."

"On your money—I understand."

"Really, Mrs. Crawford, you do the boy injustice. He hints nothing of the kind. He evidently means to raise himself gradually as his employer did before him. By the way, he has a home in his employer’s family. I think Mr. Jennings must have taken a fancy to Carl."

"I hope he will find him more agreeable than I did," said Mrs. Crawford, sharply.

"Are you quite sure that you always treated Carl considerately, my dear?"

"I didn’t flatter or fondle him, if that is what you mean. I treated him as well as he could expect."

"Did you treat him as well as Peter, for example?"

"No. There is a great difference between the two boys. Peter is always respectful and obliging, and doesn’t set up his will against mine. He never gives me a moment’s uneasiness."

"I hope you will continue to find him a comfort, my dear," said Dr. Crawford, meekly.

He looked across the table at the fat, expressionless face of his stepson, and he blamed himself because he could not entertain a warmer regard for Peter. Somehow he had a slight feeling of antipathy, which he tried to overcome.

"No doubt he is a good boy, since his mother says so," reflected the doctor, "but I don’t appreciate him. I will take care, however, that neither he nor his mother sees this."

When Peter heard his mother’s encomium upon him, he laughed in his sleeve.

"I’ll remind ma of that when she scolds me," he said to himself. "I’m glad Carl isn’t coming back. He was always interferin’ with me. Now, if ma and I play our cards right we’ll get all his father’s money. Ma thinks he won’t live long, I heard her say so the other day. Won’t it be jolly for ma and me to come into a fortune, and live just as we please! I hope ma will go to New York. It’s stupid here, but I s’pose we’ll have to stay for the present."

"Is Carl’s letter private?" asked Mrs. Crawford, after a pause.

"I—I think he would rather I didn’t show it ," returned her husband, remembering the allusion made by Carl to his stepmother.

"Oh, well, I am not curious," said Mrs. Crawford, tossing her head.

None the less, however, she resolved to see and read the letter, if she could get hold of it without her husband’s knowledge. He was so careless that she did not doubt soon to find it laid down somewhere. In this she proved correct. Before the day was over, she found Carl’s letter in her husband’s desk. She opened and read it eagerly with a running fire of comment.

"`Reasons which we both understand,’" she repeated, scornfully. "That is a covert attack upon me. Of course, I ought to expect that. So he had a hard time. Well, it served him right for conducting himself as he did. Ah, here is another hit at me—`Yet I would rather do either than live in a home made unpleasant by the persistent hostility of one member.’ He is trying to set his father against me. Well, he won’t succeed. I can twist Dr. Paul Crawford round my finger, luckily, and neither his son nor anyone else can diminish my influence over him."

She read on for some time till she reached this passage: "While my stepmother and Peter form a part of your family I can never live at home. They both dislike me, and I am afraid I return the feeling." "Thanks for the information," she muttered. "I knew it before. This letter doesn’t make me feel any more friendly to you, Carl Crawford. I see that you are trying to ingratiate yourself with your father, and prejudice him against me and my poor Peter, but I think I can defeat your kind intentions."

She folded up the letter, and replaced it in her husband’s desk.

"I wonder if my husband will answer Carl’s artful epistle," she said to herself. "He can if he pleases. He is weak as water, and I will see that he goes no farther than words."

Dr. Crawford did answer Carl’s letter. This is his reply:

"Dear Carl:—i am glad to hear that you are comfortably situated. I regret that you were so headstrong and unreasonable. It seems to me that you might, with a little effort, have got on with your stepmother. You could hardly expect her to treat you in the same way as her own son. He seems to be a good boy, but I own that I have never been able to become attached to him."

Carl read this part of the letter with satisfaction. He knew how mean and contemptible Peter was, and it would have gone to his heart to think that his father had transferred his affection to the boy he had so much reason to dislike.

"I am glad you are pleased with your prospects. I think I could have done better for you had your relations with your stepmother been such as to make it pleasant for you to remain at home. You are right in thinking that I am interested in your welfare. I hope, my dear Carl, you will become a happy and prosperous man. I do not forget that you are my son, and I am still your affectionate father,

"Paul Crawford."

Carl was glad to receive this letter. It showed him that his stepmother had not yet succeeded in alienating from him his father’s affection.

But we must return to the point where we left Carl on his journey to Buffalo. He enjoyed his trip over the Central road during the hours of daylight. He determined on his return to make an all-day trip so that he might enjoy the scenery through which he now rode in the darkness.

At Buffalo he had no other business except that of Mr. Jennings, and immediately after breakfast he began to make a tour of the furniture establishments. He met with excellent success, and had the satisfaction of sending home some large orders. In the evening he took train for Niagara, wishing to see the falls in the early morning, and resume his journey in the afternoon.

He registered at the International Hotel on the American side. It was too late to do more than take an evening walk, and see the falls gleaming like silver through the darkness.

"I will go to bed early," thought Carl, "and get up at six o’clock."

He did go to bed early, but he was more fatigued than he supposed, and slept longer than he anticipated. It was eight o’clock before he came downstairs. Before going in to breakfast, he took a turn on the piazzas. Here he fell in with a sociable gentleman, much addicted to gossip.

"Good-morning!" he said. "Have you seen the falls yet?"

"I caught a glimpse of them last evening I am going to visit them after breakfast."

"There are a good many people staying here just now—some quite noted persons, too."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, what do you say to an English lord?" and Carl’s new friend nodded with am important air, as if it reflected great credit on the hotel to have so important a guest.

"Does he look different from anyone else?" asked Carl, smiling.

"Well, to tell the truth, he isn’t much to look at," said the other. "The gentleman who is with him looks more stylish. I thought he was the lord at first, but I afterwards learned that he was an American named Stuyvesant."

Carl started at the familiar name.

"Is he tall and slender, with side whiskers, and does he wear eyeglasses?" he asked, eagerly.

"Yes; you know him then?" said the other, in surprise.

"Yes," answered Carl, with a smile, "I am slightly acquainted with him. I am very anxious to meet him again."

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Chicago: Horatio Alger, "Chapter XXXIII. - From Albany to Niagara.," Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience Original Sources, accessed September 20, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1IDYW1KBZY7LZY.

MLA: Alger, Horatio. "Chapter XXXIII. - From Albany to Niagara." Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience, in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience, Original Sources. 20 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1IDYW1KBZY7LZY.

Harvard: Alger, H, 'Chapter XXXIII. - From Albany to Niagara.' in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience. cited in , Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience. Original Sources, retrieved 20 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1IDYW1KBZY7LZY.