Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience

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Author: Horatio Alger

Chapter XXXVIII. - Dr. Crawford Is Taken to Task.

After the first greetings, Reuben Ashcroft noticed with pain the fragile look of his friend.

"Are you well?" he asked

"I am not very strong," said Dr. Crawford, smiling faintly, "but Mrs. Crawford takes good care of me."

"And Carl, too—he is no doubt a comfort to you?"

Dr. Crawford flushed painfully.

"Carl has been away from home for a year, he said, with an effort.

"That is strange your own son, too! Is there anything unpleasant? You may confide in me, as I am the cousin of Carl’s mother.’

"The fact is, Carl and Mrs. Crawford didn’t hit it off very well."

"And you took sides against your own son, said Ashcroft, indignantly.

"I begin to think I was wrong, Reuben. You don’t know how I have missed the boy.

"Yet you sent him out into the world without a penny."

"How do you know that?" asked Dr. Crawford quickly.

"I had a little conversation with your stepson as I came to the house. He spoke very frankly and unreservedly about family affairs; He says you do whatever his mother tells you.

Dr. Crawford looked annoyed and blushed with shame.

"Did he say that?" he asked.

"Yes; he said his mother would not allow you to help Carl."

"He—misunderstood "

"Paul, I fear he understands the case only too well. I don’t want to pain you, but your wife is counting on your speedy death."

"I told her I didn’t think I should live long."

"And she got you to make a will?"

"Yes; did Peter tell you that?"

"He said his mother was to have control of the property, and Carl would get nothing if he didn’t act so as to please her."

"There is some mistake here. By my will —made yesterday—Carl is to have an equal share, and nothing is said about his being dependent on anyone."

"Who drew up the will?"

"Mrs. Crawford."

"Did you read it?"

"Yes."

Ashcroft looked puzzled.

"I should like to read the will myself," he said, after a pause. "Where is it now?"

"Mrs. Crawford has charge of it."

Reuben Ashcroft remained silent, but his mind was busy.

"That woman is a genius of craft," he said to himself. "My poor friend is but a child in her hands. I did not know Paul would be so pitiably weak."

"How do you happen to be here in Edgewood, Reuben?" asked the doctor.

"I had a little errand in the next town, and could not resist the temptation of visiting you."

"You can stay a day or two, can you not?"

"I will, though I had not expected to do so."

"Mrs. Crawford is away this afternoon. She will be back presently, and then I will introduce you."

At five o’clock Mrs. Crawford returned, and her husband introduced her to his friend.

Ashcroft fixed his eyes upon her searchingly.

"Her face looks strangely familiar," he said to himself. "Where can I have seen her?"

Mrs. Crawford, like all persons who have a secret to conceal, was distrustful of strangers. She took an instant dislike to Reuben Ashcroft, and her greeting was exceedingly cold.

"I have invited Mr. Ashcroft to make me a visit of two or three days, my dear," said her husband. "He is a cousin to Carl’s mother."

Mrs. Crawford made no response, but kept her eyes fixed upon the carpet. She could not have shown more plainly that the invitation was not approved by her.

"Madam does not want me here," thought Ashcroft, as he fixed his gaze once more upon his friend’s wife. Again the face looked familiar, but he could not place it.

"Have I not seen you before, Mrs. Crawford?" he asked, abruptly.

"I don’t remember you," she answered, slowly. "Probably I resemble some one you have met."

"Perhaps so," answered Ashcroft, but he could not get rid of the conviction that somewhere and some time in the past he had met Mrs. Crawford, and under circumstances that had fixed her countenance in his memory.

After supper Dr. Crawford said: "My dear, I have told our guest that I had, as a prudential measure, made my will. I wish you would get it, and let me read it to him."

Mrs. Crawford looked startled and annoyed.

"Couldn’t you tell him the provisions of it?" she said.

"Yes, but I should like to show him the document."

She turned and went upstairs. She was absent at least ten minutes. When she returned she was empty-handed.

"I am sorry to say," she remarked, with a forced laugh, "that I have laid away the will so carefully that I can’t find it."

Ashcroft fixed a searching look upon her, that evidently annoyed her.

"I may be able to find it to-morrow," she resumed.

"I think you told me, Paul," said Ashcroft, turning to Dr. Crawford, "that by the will your estate is divided equally between Carl and Mrs. Crawford."

"Yes."

"And nothing is said of any guardianship on the part of Mrs. Crawford?"

"No; I think it would be better, Ashcroft, that you should be Carl’s guardian. A man can study his interests and control him better."

"I will accept the trust," said Ashcroft, "though I hope it may be many years before the necessity arises."

Mrs. Crawford bit her lips, and darted an angry glance at the two friends. She foresaw that her plans were threatened with failure.

The two men chatted throughout the evening, and Dr. Crawford had never of late seemed happier. It gave him new life and raised his spirits to chat over old times with his early friend.

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Chicago: Horatio Alger, "Chapter XXXVIII. - Dr. Crawford Is Taken to Task.," Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience Original Sources, accessed June 16, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=49WJR7DE4JH6EAX.

MLA: Alger, Horatio. "Chapter XXXVIII. - Dr. Crawford Is Taken to Task." Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience, in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience, Original Sources. 16 Jun. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=49WJR7DE4JH6EAX.

Harvard: Alger, H, 'Chapter XXXVIII. - Dr. Crawford Is Taken to Task.' in Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience. cited in , Driven from Home, Carl Crawford’s Experience. Original Sources, retrieved 16 June 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=49WJR7DE4JH6EAX.