Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Horatio Alger > Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success > This page

The Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success, a fiction by Horatio Alger

Chapter 3. Phil's Sudden Resolution

< Previous
Table of content
Next >

When Phil left the presence of Mrs. Brent, he felt as if he had been suddenly transported to a new world. He was no longer Philip Brent, and the worst of it was that he did not know who he was. In his tumultuous state of feeling, however, one thing seemed clear--his prospects were wholly changed, and his plans for the future also. Mrs. Brent had told him that he was wholly dependent upon her. Well, he did not intend to remain so. His home had not been pleasant at the best. As a dependent upon the bounty of such a woman it would be worse. He resolved to leave home and strike out for himself, not from any such foolish idea of independence as sometimes leads boys to desert a good home for an uncertain skirmish with the world, but simply be cause he felt now that he had no real home.

To begin with he would need money, and on opening his pocket-book he ascertained that his available funds consisted of only a dollar and thirty-seven cents. That wasn't quite enough to begin the world with. But he had other resources. He owned a gun, which a friend of his would be ready to take off his hands. He had a boat, also, which he could probably sell.

On the village street he met Reuben Gordon, a young journeyman carpenter, who was earning good wages, and had money to spare.

"How are you, Phil," said Reuben in a friendly way.

"You are just the one I want to meet," said Phil earnestly. "Didn't you tell me once you would like to buy my gun?"

"Yes. Want to sell it?"

"No, I don't; but I want the money it will bring. So I'll sell it if you'll buy."

"What d'ye want for it?" asked Reuben cautiously.

"Six dollars."

"Too much. I'll give five."

"You can have it," said Phil after a pause. "How soon can you let me have the money?"

"Bring the gun round to-night, and I'll pay you for it."

"All right. Do you know of any one who wants to buy a boat?"

"What? Going to sell that, too?"


"Seems to me you're closin' up business?" said Reuben shrewdly.

"So I am. I'm going to leave Planktown."

"You don't say? Well, I declare! Where are you goin'?"

"To New York, I guess."

"Got any prospect there?"


This was not, perhaps, strictly true--that is, Phil had no definite prospect, but he felt that there must be a chance in a large city like New York for any one who was willing to work, and so felt measurably justified in saying what he did.

"I hadn't thought of buyin' a boat," said Reuben thoughtfully.

Phil pricked up his ears at the hint of a possible customer.

"You'd better buy mine," he said quickly; "I'll sell it cheap."

"How cheap?"

"Ten dollars."

"That's too much."

"It cost me fifteen."

"But it's second-hand now, you know," said Reuben.

"It's just as good as new. I'm taking off five dollars, though, you see."

"I don't think I want it enough to pay ten dollars."

"What will you give?"

Reuben finally agreed to pay seven dollars and seventy-five cents, after more or less bargaining, and to pay the money that evening upon delivery of the goods.

"I don't think I've got anything more to sell," said Phil thoughtfully. "There's my skates, but they are not very good. I'll give them to Tommy Kavanagh. He can't afford to buy a pair."

Tommy was the son of a poor widow, and was very much pleased with the gift, which Phil conveyed to him just before supper.

Just after supper he took his gun and the key of his boat over to Reuben Gordon, who thereupon gave him the money agreed upon.

"Shall I tell Mrs. Brent I am going away?" Phil said to himself, "or shall I leave a note for her?"

He decided to announce his resolve in person. To do otherwise would seem too much like running away, and that he had too much self-respect to do.

So in the evening, after his return from Reuben Gordon's, he said to Mrs. Brent:

"I think I ought to tell you that I'm going away to-morrow."

Mrs. Brent looked up from her work, and her cold gray eyes surveyed Phil with curious scrutiny.

"You are going away!" she replied. "Where are you going?"

"I think I shall go to New York."

"What for?"

"Seek my fortune, as so many have done before me."

"They didn't always find it!" said Mrs. Brent with a cold sneer. "Is there any other reason?"

"Yes; it's chiefly on account of what you told me yesterday. You said that I was dependent upon you."

"So you are."

"And that I wasn't even entitled to the name of Brent."

"Yes, I said it, and it's true."

"Well," said Phil, "I don't want to be dependent upon you. I prefer to earn my own living."

"I am not prepared to say but that you are right. But do you know what the neighbors will say?"

"What will they say?"

"That I drove you from home."

"It won't be true. I don't pretend to enjoy my home, but I suppose I can stay on here if I like?"

"Yes, you can stay."

"You don't object to my going?"

"No, if it is understood that you go of your own accord."

"I am willing enough to take the blame of it, if there is any blame."

"Very well; get a sheet of note-paper, and write at my direction."

Phil took a sheet of note-paper from his father's desk, and sat down to comply with Mrs. Brent's request.

She dictated as follows:

"I leave home at my own wish, but with the consent of Mrs. Brent, to seek my fortune. It is wholly my own idea, and I hold no one else responsible.



"You may as well keep the name of Brent," said his step-mother, "as you have no other that you know of."

Phil winced at those cold words. It was not pleasant to reflect that this was so, and that he was wholly ignorant of his parentage.

"One thing more," said Mrs. Brent. "It is only eight o'clock. I should like to have you go out and call upon some of those with whom you are most intimate, and tell them that you are leaving home voluntarily."

"I will," answered Phil.

"Perhaps you would prefer to do so to-morrow."

"No; I am going away to-morrow morning."

"Very well."

"Going away to-morrow morning?" repeated Jonas, who entered the room at that moment.

Phil's plan was briefly disclosed.

"Then give me your skates," said Jonas.

"I can't. I've given them to Tommy Kavanagh."

"That's mean. You might have thought of me first," grumbled Jonas.

"I don't know why. Tommy Kavanagh is my friend and you are not."

"Anyway, you can let me have your boat and gun."

"I have sold them."

"That's too bad."

"I don't know why you should expect them. I needed the money they brought me to pay my expenses till I get work."

"I will pay your expenses to New York if you wish," said Mrs. Brent.

"Thank you; but I shall have money enough," answered Phil, who shrank from receiving any favor at the hands of Mrs. Brent.

"As you please, but you will do me the justice to remember that I offered it."

"Thank you. I shall not forget it."

That evening, just before going to bed, Mrs. Brent opened a trunk and drew from it a folded paper.

She read as follows--for it was her husband's will:

"To the boy generally known as Philip Brent, and supposed, though incorrectly, to be my son, I bequeath the sum of five thousand dollars, and direct the same to be paid over to any one whom he may select as guardian, to hold in trust for him till he attains the age of twenty-one."

"He need never know of this," said Mrs. Brent to herself in a low tone. "I will save it for Jonas."

She held the paper a moment, as if undecided whether to destroy it, but finally put it carefully back in the secret hiding-place from which she had taken it.

"He is leaving home of his own accord," she whispered. "Henceforth he will probably keep away. That suits me well, but no one can say I drove him to it." _

Read next: Chapter 4. Mr. Lionel Lake

Read previous: Chapter 2. A Strange Revelation

Table of content of Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book