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A Hero of Romance by Richard Marsh

I hate your huggermuggering existence


He startled them by putting a question point-blank to Bailey, one which he had put before.

"Why don't you run away?"

"I--I don't know!" stammered Bertie. Then, frankly, as the idea occurred to him, "Because I never thought of it."

Mr. Bankes laughed. His constant tendency to laughter, with or without apparent reason, seemed to be his not least remarkable characteristic.

"Now you have thought of it, why don't you run away?"

Bailey turned the matter over in his mind.

"Why should I?"

His friends looked at each other, thinking the conversation just a trifle queer.

"Why ever should he run away?" asked Griffin.

"And wherever would he run to?" added Wheeler.

Dick Ellis said nothing, but possibly he thought the more. Mr. Bankes directed his reply directly at Bailey.

"I'll tell you why you ought to run away; because that's the shortest cut into a world into which you will never get by any other road. I'll tell you where you ought to run to, out of this little fleabite of an island, into the lands of golden dreams and golden possibilities, my lad; where men at night lay themselves down poor, and in the morning rise up rich."

Mr. Bankes, warming with his theme, began to gesticulate and stamp about the room, the boys following him with all their eyes.

"I hate your huggermuggering existence; why should a lad of parts huggermugger all his life away? When I saw you stand up to that great lout, I said to myself, 'That lad has grit; he's just the very spit of what I was when I was just his age; he's too good to be left to muddle in this old worn-out country, to waste his time with books and sums and trash.' I said to myself, 'I'll lend him a helping hand,' and so I will. I'll show you the road, if I do nothing else; and if you don't choose to take it, it's yourself's to blame, not me.

"When I was out in Colorado, at Denver City, there was a boy came along, just about your age; he came along from away down East. He was English; he'd got himself stowed away, and he'd made his way to the promised land. He took a spade one day, and he marked out a claim, and that boy he worked it, he did, and it turned up trumps; there wasn't any dirt to dig, because pretty nearly all that his spade turned up was virgin silver. He sold that claim for 10,000 dollars, money down, and he went on and prospered. That boy is now a man; he owns, I daresay, half a dozen silver mines, and he's so rich,--ah, he's so rich he doesn't know how rich he is. Now why shouldn't you have been that boy?"

Mr. Bankes paused for a reply, but his listeners furnished none. Griffin was on the point of suggesting that Bailey was not that boy because he wasn't; but he refrained, thinking that perhaps that was not quite the sort of answer that was wanted.


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