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

Chapter 26. A Wonderful Change

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"You may order a carriage, Philip," said Mr. Carter the next morning. "Pick out a handsome one with seats for four."

"Yes, sir."

In five minutes the carriage was at the door.

"Now, Philip, we will go to see my long-neglected niece, Mrs. Forbush. Give the driver the necessary directions."

"Mrs. Forbush does not have many carriage-callers," said Philip, smiling.

"Perhaps she will have more hereafter," said Mr. Carter, "I ought not so long to have lost sight of her. I always liked Rebecca better than Lavinia, yet I let the latter prejudice me against her cousin, who is in disposition, education and sincerity her superior. You see, Philip, there are old fools in the world as well as young ones."

"It is never too late to mend, Mr. Carter," said Phil, smiling.

"That's very true, even if it is a young philosopher who says it."

"I don't claim any originality for it, Mr. Carter."

"By the way, Philip, I have noticed that you always express yourself very correctly. Your education must be good."

"Yes, sir, thanks to my father, or the man whom I always regarded as my father. I am a fair Latin scholar, and know something of Greek."

"Were you preparing for college?" asked Mr. Carter, with interest.

"Yes, sir."

"Would you like to go?"

"I should have gone had father lived, but my step-mother said it was foolishness and would be money thrown away."

"Perhaps she preferred to incur that expense for her own son?" suggested the old gentleman.

"Jonas wouldn't consent to that. He detests study, and would decidedly object to going to college."

"By the way, you haven't heard from them lately?"

"Only that they have left our old home and gone no one knows where."

"That is strange."

By this time they had reached the humble dwelling occupied by Mrs. Forbush.

"And so this is where Rebecca lives?" said Mr. Carter.

"Yes, sir. It is not quite so nice as Mrs. Pitkin's."

"No," returned Mr. Carter thoughtfully.

Philip rang the bell, and the two were admitted into the humble parlor. They had not long to wait for Mrs. Forbush, who, with an agitation which she could not overcome, entered the presence of her long estranged and wealthy uncle.

"Rebecca!" exclaimed the old gentleman, rising, and showing some emotion as he saw the changes which fifteen years had made in the niece whom he had last met as a girl.

"Uncle Oliver! how kind you are to visit me!" cried Mrs. Forbush, the tears starting from her eyes.

"Kind! Nonsense! I have been very unkind to neglect you so long. But it wasn't all my fault. There were others who did all they could to keep us apart. You have lost your husband?"

"Yes, uncle. He was poor, but he was one of the kindest and best of men, and made me happy."

"I begin to think I have been an old fool, Rebecca. Philip thinks so, too."

"Oh, Mr. Carter!" exclaimed our hero.

"Yes, you do, Philip," asserted Mr. Carter, "and you are quite right. However, as you told me, it is never too late to mend."

"Mrs. Forbush will think I take strange liberties with you, sir."

"I don't object to good advice, even from a boy. But who is this?"

Julia had just entered the room. She was a bright, attractive girl, but held back bashfully until her mother said:

"Julia, this is Uncle Oliver Carter. You have heard me speak of him."

"Yes, mamma."

"And scold about him, I dare say. Well, Julia, come and give your old uncle a kiss."

Julia blushed, but obeyed her uncle's request.

"I should know she was your child, Rebecca. She looks as you did at her age. Now tell me, have you any engagement this morning, you two?"

"No, Uncle Oliver."

"Then I will find one for you. I have a carriage at the door. You will please put on your bonnets. We are going shopping."


"Yes, I am going to fit out both of you in a manner more befitting relatives of mine. The fact is, Niece Rebecca, you are actually shabby."

"I know it, uncle, but there has been so many ways of spending money that I have had to neglect my dress.

"Very likely. I understand. Things are different now. Now, don't be over an hour getting ready!"

"We are not fashionable, uncle," said Mrs. Forbush, "and we haven't any change to make."

They entered the carriage, and drove to a large and fashionable store, where everything necessary to a lady's toilet, including dresses quite complete, could be obtained. Mrs. Forbush was in favor of selecting very plain articles, but her uncle overruled her, and pointed out costumes much more costly.

"But, uncle," objected Mrs. Forbush, "these things won't at all correspond with our plain home and mode of living. Think of a boarding-house keeper arrayed like a fine lady."

"You are going to give up taking boarders--that is, you will have none but Philip and myself."

"Will you really live with us, uncle? But the house is too poor."

"Of course it is, but you are going to move. I will speak further on this point when you are through your purchases."

At length the shopping was over, and they re-entered the carriage.

"Drive to No.-- Madison Avenue," said Mr. Carter to the driver.

"Uncle Oliver, you have given the wrong direction."

"No, Rebecca, I know what I am about."

"Do you live on Madison Avenue?" asked Mrs. Forbush.

"I am going to and so are you. You must know that I own a furnished house on Madison Avenue. The late occupants sailed for Europe last week, and I was looking out for a tenant when I found you. You will move there to-morrow, and act as house keeper, taking care of Philip and myself. I hope Julia and you will like it as well as your present home."

"How can I thank you for all your kindness, Uncle Oliver?" said Mrs. Forbush, with joyful tears. "It will be living once more. It will be such a rest from the hard struggle I have had of late years."

"You can repay me by humoring all my whims," said Uncle Oliver, smiling. "You will find me very tyrannical. The least infraction of my rules will lead me to send you all packing."

"Am I to be treated in the same way, Mr. Carter?" asked Philip.


"Then, if you discharge me, I will fly for refuge to Mr. Pitkin."

"That will be 'out of the frying-pan into the fire' with a vengeance."

By this time they had reached the house. It was an elegant brown-stone front, and proved, on entrance, to be furnished in the most complete and elegant manner. Mr. Carter selected the second floor for his own use; a good-sized room on the third was assigned to Philip, and Mrs. Forbush was told to select such rooms for Julia and herself as she desired.

"This is much finer than Mrs. Pitkin's house," said Philip.

"Yes, it is."

"She will be jealous when she hears of it."

"No doubt. That is precisely what I desire. It will be a fitting punishment for her treatment of her own cousin."

It was arranged that on the morrow Mrs. Forbush and Julia should close their small house, leaving directions to sell the humble furniture at auction, while Mr. Carter and Philip would come up from the Astor House.

"What will the Pitkins say when they hear of it?" thought Philip. "I am afraid they will feel bad." _

Read next: Chapter 27. An Unpleasant Surprise

Read previous: Chapter 25. Alonzo Is Puzzled

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