Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience

Author: Horatio Alger

Chapter V. - Carl’s Stepmother.

Five minutes later, as Gilbert was closing the trunk, Jane reappeared.

"The doctor and Mrs. Crawford would like to see you downstairs," she said.

Gilbert followed Jane into the library, where Dr. Crawford and his wife were seated. He looked with interest at the woman who had made home so disagreeable to Carl, and was instantly prejudiced against her. She was light complexioned, with very light-brown hair, cold, gray eyes, and a disagreeable expression which seemed natural to her.

"My dear," said the doctor, "this is the young man who has come from Carl."

Mrs. Crawford surveyed Gilbert with an expression by no means friendly.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Gilbert Vance."

"Did Carl Crawford send you here?"

"No; I volunteered to come."

"Did he tell you that he was disobedient and disrespectful to me?"

"No; he told me that you treated him so badly that he was unwilling to live in the same house with you," answered Gilbert, boldly.

"Well, upon my word!" exclaimed Mrs. Crawford, fanning herself vigorously. "Dr. Crawford, did you hear that?"


"And what do you think of it?"

"Well, I think you may have been too hard upon Carl."

"Too hard? Why, then, did he not treat me respectfully? This boy seems inclined to be impertinent."

"I answered your questions, madam," said Gilbert, coldly.

"I suppose you side with your friend Carl?"

"I certainly do."

Mrs. Crawford bit her lip.

"What is the object of your coming? Does Carl wish to return?"

"I thought Dr. Crawford might have told you."

"Carl wants his clothes sent to him," said the doctor. "He only carried a few with him."

"I shall not consent to it. He deserves no favors at our hands."

This was too much even for Dr. Crawford.

"You go too far, Mrs. Crawford," he said. "I am sensible of the boy’s faults, but I certainly will not allow his clothes to be withheld from him."

"Oh, well! spoil him if you choose!" said the lady, sullenly. "Take his part against your wife!"

"I have never done that, but I will not allow him to be defrauded of his clothes."

"I have no more to say," said Mrs. Crawford, her eyes snapping. She was clearly mortified at her failure to carry her point.

"Do you wish the trunk to be sent to your house?" asked the doctor.

"Yes, sir; I have packed the clothes and locked the trunk."

"I should like to examine it before it goes," put in Mrs. Crawford, spitefully.


"To make sure that nothing has been put in that does not belong to Carl."

"Do you mean to accuse me of stealing, madam?" demanded Gilbert, indignantly.

Mrs. Crawford tossed her head.

"I don’t know anything about you," she replied.

"Dr. Crawford, am I to open the trunk?" asked Gilbert.

"No," answered the doctor, with unwonted decision.

"I hate that boy! He has twice subjected me to mortification," thought Mrs. Crawford.

"You know very well," she said, turning to her husband, "that I have grounds for my request. I blush to mention it, but I have reason to believe that your son took a wallet containing twenty-five dollars from my bureau drawer."

"I deny it!" said Gilbert.

"What do you know about it, I should like to ask?" sneered Mrs. Crawford.

"I know that Carl is an honorable boy, incapable of theft, and at this moment has but thirty-seven cents in his possession."

"So far as you know."

"If the money has really disappeared, madam, you had better ask your own boy about it."

"This is insufferable!" exclaimed Mrs. Crawford, her light eyes emitting angry flashes. "Who dares to say that Peter took the wallet?" she went on, rising to her feet.

There was an unexpected reply. Jane entered the room at this moment to ask a question.

"I say so, ma’am," she rejoined.

"What?" ejaculated Mrs. Crawford, with startling emphasis.

"I didn’t mean to say anything about it till I found you were charging it on Master Carl. I saw Peter open your bureau drawer, take out the wallet, and put it in his pocket."

"It’s a lie!" said Mrs. Crawford, hoarsely.

"It’s the truth, though I suppose you don’t want to believe it. If you want to know what he did with the money ask him how much he paid for the gold ring he bought of the jeweler down at the village."

"You are a spy—a base, dishonorable spy!" cried Mrs. Crawford.

"I won’t say what you are, ma’am, to bring false charges against Master Carl, and I wonder the doctor will believe them."

"Leave the house directly, you hussy!" shrieked Mrs. Crawford.

"If I do, I wonder who’ll get the dinner?" remarked Jane, not at all disturbed.

"I won’t stay here to be insulted," said the angry lady. "Dr. Crawford, you might have spirit enough to defend your wife."

She flounced out of the room, not waiting for a reply, leaving the doctor dazed and flurried.

"I hope, sir, you are convinced now that Carl did not take Mrs. Crawford’s money," said Gilbert. "I told you it was probably Peter."

"Are you sure of what you said, Jane?" asked the doctor.

"Yes, sir. I saw Peter take the wallet with my own eyes."

"It is his mother’s money, and they must settle it between them I am glad Carl did not take it. Really, this has been a very unpleasant scene."

"I am sorry for my part in it. Carl is my friend, and I feel that I ought to stand up for his rights," remarked Gilbert.

"Certainly, certainly, that is right. But you see how I am placed."

"I see that this is no place for Carl. If you will allow me, I will send an expressman for the trunk, and take it with me to the station."

"Yes, I see no objection. I—I would invite you to dinner, but Mrs. Crawford seems to be suffering from a nervous attack, and it might not be pleasant."

"I agree with you, sir."

Just then Peter entered the room, and looked at Gilbert with surprise and wrath, remembering his recent discomfiture at the hands of the young visitor.

"My stepson, Peter," announced Dr. Crawford.

"Peter and I have met before," said Gilbert, smiling.

"What are you here for?" asked Peter, rudely.

"Not to see you," answered Gilbert, turning from him.

"My mother’ll have something to say to you," went on Peter, significantly.

"She will have something to say to you," retorted Gilbert. "She has found out who stole her money."

Peter’s face turned scarlet instantly, and he left the room hurriedly.

"Perhaps I ought not to have said that, Dr Crawford," added Gilbert, apologetically, "but I dislike that boy very much, and couldn’t help giving him as good as he sent."

"It is all very unpleasant," responded Dr. Crawford, peevishly. "I don’t see why I can’t live in peace and tranquility."

"I won’t intrude upon you any longer," said Gilbert, "if you will kindly tell me whether you will consent to make Carl a small weekly allowance."

"I can’t say now. I want time to think. Give me your address, and I will write to Carl in your care."

"Very well, sir."

Gilbert left the house and made arrangements to have Carl’s trunk called for. It accompanied him on the next train to Warren.


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Chicago: Horatio Alger, "Chapter V. - Carl’s Stepmother.," Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2023,

MLA: Alger, Horatio. "Chapter V. - Carl’s Stepmother." Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience, in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience, Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2023.

Harvard: Alger, H, 'Chapter V. - Carl’s Stepmother.' in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience. cited in , Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2023, from