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

Chapter 29. A Truce

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No more distasteful news could have come to the Pitkins than to learn that Philip and their poor cousin had secured a firm place in the good graces of Uncle Oliver. Yet they did not dare to show their resentment. They had found that Uncle Oliver had a will of his own, and meant to exercise it. Had they been more forbearing he would still be an inmate of their house instead of going over to the camp of their enemies, for so they regarded Mrs. Forbush and Phil.

"I hate that woman, Mr. Pitkin!" said his wife fiercely. "I scorn such underhanded work. How she has sneaked into the good graces of poor, deluded Uncle Oliver!"

"You have played your cards wrong, Lavinia," said her husband peevishly.

"I? That is a strange accusation, Mr. Pitkin. It was you, to my thinking. You sent off that errand boy, and that is how the whole thing came about. If he had been in your store he wouldn't have met Uncle Oliver down at the pier."

"You and Alonzo persuaded me to discharge him."

"Oh, of course it's Alonzo and me! When you see Rebecca Forbush and that errand boy making ducks and drakes out of Uncle Oliver's money you may wish you had acted more wisely."

"Really, Lavinia, you are a most unreasonable woman. It's no use criminating and recriminating. We must do what we can to mend matters."

"What can we do?"

"They haven't got the money yet--remember that! We must try to re-establish friendly relations with Mr. Carter."

"Perhaps you'll tell me how?"

"Certainly! Call as soon as possible at the house on Madison Avenue."

"Call on that woman?"

"Yes; and try to smooth matters over as well as you can. Take Alonzo with you, and instruct him to be polite to Philip."

"I don't believe Lonny will be willing to demean himself so far."

"He'll have to," answered Mr. Pitkin firmly.

"We've all made a mistake, and the sooner we remedy it the better."

Mrs. Pitkin thought it over. The advice was unpalatable, but it was evidently sound. Uncle Oliver was rich, and they must not let his money slip through their fingers. So, after duly instructing Alonzo in his part, Mrs. Pitkin, a day or two later, ordered her carriage and drove in state to the house of her once poor relative.

"Is Mrs. Forbush at home?" she asked of the servant.

"I believe so, madam," answered a dignified man-servant.

"Take this card to her."

Mrs. Pitkin and Alonzo were ushered into a drawing-room more elegant than their own. She sat on a sofa with Alonzo.

"Who would think that Rebecca Forbush would come to live like this?" she said, half to herself.

"And that boy," supplemented Alonzo.

"To be sure! Your uncle is fairly infatuated."

Just then Mrs. Forbush entered, followed by her daughter. She was no longer clad in a shabby dress, but wore an elegant toilet, handsome beyond her own wishes, but insisted upon by Uncle Oliver.

"I am glad to see you, Lavinia," she said simply. "This is my daughter."

Julia, too, was stylishly dressed, and Alonzo, in spite of his prejudices, could not help regarding this handsome cousin with favor.

I do not propose to detail the interview. Mrs. Pitkin was on her good behavior, and appeared very gracious.

Mrs. Forbush could not help recalling the difference between her demeanor now and on the recent occasion, when in her shabby dress she called at the house in Twelfth Street, but she was too generous to recall it.

As they were about to leave, Mr. Carter and Philip entered the room, sent for by Mrs. Forbush.

"How do you do, Philip?" said Mrs. Pitkin, graciously. "Alonzo, this is Philip."

"How do?" growled Alonzo, staring enviously at Phil's handsome new suit, which was considerably handsomer than his own.

"Very well, Alonzo."

"You must come and see Lonny," said Mrs. Pitkin pleasantly.

"Thank you!" answered Phil politely.

He did not say it was a pleasure, for he was a boy of truth, and he did not feel that it would be.

Uncle Oliver was partially deceived by his niece's new manner. He was glad that there seemed to be a reconciliation, and he grew more cordial than he had been since his return.

After awhile Mrs. Pitkin rose to go.

When she was fairly in the carriage once more, she said passionately:

"How I hate them!"

"You were awful sweet on them, ma!" said Alonzo, opening his eyes.

"I had to be. But the time will come when I will open the eyes of Uncle Oliver to the designs of that scheming woman and that artful errand boy."

It was Mrs. Pitkin's true self that spoke. _

Read next: Chapter 30. Phil's Trust

Read previous: Chapter 28. An Unsatisfactory Conference

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