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“So I should think,” said Tom, significantly.
Mr. Chaffin looked at Tom as if he did not quite know what to make of the remark, but said nothing, and breakfast being laid they sat down to it together. The contractor looked larger and more important by daylight, Tom thought, than he did the previous evening; perhaps it was because he had been out to stretch himself, as he said. Under the genial influence of buttered toast and broiled fish he soon recovered from the little rebuff which he had met with, and his broad face bending over his plate presented a picture of rude health, good humour, and unbounded self-satisfaction.
“Ten fifty is our train,” he said; “it's late for me, but I wanted to have a look round before starting off. I told the waiter to call you early, that you might go with me, but old Mother Roseberry would not let him. She would have her own way, and said you were not to be disturbed. A woman is harder to manage than a hundred navvies. Eat away, boy, I ordered a good breakfast for you, and you need not be afraid of the expense : I'll pay. You are going to school with my son Marmadook; you and he will be great cronies, I expect, so you're my guest this morning. No briled bones-eh-what!”
The boy was not particularly hungry, but he could not help thinking that he had been very fortunate in meeting with two such kind people as Mrs. Roseberry and Mr. Chaffin on landing at a strange place, and he made a better breakfast than he might otherwise have done.
The waiter brought him his bill when he asked for it, a very moderate one, with no charge for the breakfast; that was put down to Mr. Chaffin; and the landlady met him in the passage with a hamper containing some other good things besides the cake; and he returned her kiss warmly when she bade him good-bye.
“ You won't forget me," she said, “if you ever come this way?"
"No," he replied; “I shall never forget you, whether I come this way again or not.” And it may safely be predicated, even at this early period of his history, that he never did, or will. The good woman's deed, to be sure, was not much; but the kindness and sympathy which find expression in such little attentions are above price and deserve to be commemorated
A PROMISING SPECULATION.
Springes to catch woodcocks.-Shakespeare.
asked of Mr. Chaffin, as he sat opposite to him in the train.
“No, I shall not have time; time is money, and money ismoney. I told Marmadook to come down to the station if he could to see me en passant, that's all; and he will be sure to show himself, if it is only in the expectation of a tip. got business at Sandy Frith, two stations farther on, if you know such a place.”
“Sandy Frith! Oh, yes. I have never been there myself, but I have some friends there—at least, I know somebody else who has friends there ; and I mean to go over and see them as soon as I can.”
"Have they got property in the place ?”
“Yes, I suppose so; Mr. Dean is a shipbuilder, and has a shipyard; he builds fishing-boats, and yachts, and everything of the sort. It must be a very jolly place, I should think.”
What did you say his name was ?" the contractor asked, taking out his note-book and making an entry in it. “Joshua Dean? I may perhaps come across him some day. Jolly place ?
What! Well, not particularly so just at present. It's only a little fishing village, and a poor one, too; but it has great capabilities; fine sea-good sand for bathing-nice rising ground, with capital sites for building. We shall make something of it by-and-by. Some gentlemen that I am connected with have picked it out for a fashionable watering-place; they have bought a lot of land there, and are getting up a company
— Sandy Frith Land, Building, and General Improvement and Investment Company, Limited.' The only thing I don't like about it is the name. Sandy Frith! It don't sound well, does it? I think we must change it. Something ending with ville would be more attractive. Abbotsville would do, perhaps, as it's not far from Abbotscliff.”
Tom Howard did not feel so sure about the improvements contemplated. He liked the idea of the fishing village and the shipyard best; and Sandy Frith was a much pleasanter name to his ears than anything ending with “ville.” But as his opinion was not asked, and would not have had any weight, he did not give it; and Mr. Chaffin went on with evident satisfaction.
“First thing to be done,” he said, “will be to run up a row of lodging-houses, three or four storeys high, facing the sea, and call it the Parade ; circulating library at one corner, bazaar and wheel of fortune at the other. Company's hotel and billiardroom, of course; a crescent; baths and bathing machines, and as many doctors as we can get to go there, rent-free the first year if needful. We have had a lot of excursionists over already from neighbouring towns, and shall run one or two trains from London as soon as we get a little more advanced, just to advertise the place and make it known. I'm in hopes we shall find a spaw."
" What's that?" said Tom.
" A spaw! Why, mineral waters, of course—hot and col?rising out of the ground naturally.”
“ You could not make that, I suppose ?” Tom suggested, his eyes twinkling.
“I don't know," Mr. Chaffin said ; "we can make anything almost. We shall find one somehow or other, I dare say. The beach is the chief thing, however, in a watering-place, and that's capital. Just put those prospectuses in your pocket, and send them to your friends ; it will be doing them a service. Shares may be had now at a moderate price; by-and-by they will go up tremendously. It will pay, sir-it will pay well. What! Safe as a rock, too. Just look at the names on the directorate. Chairman, Michael Forard, Esq., of Castle Nubes, director of the Royal Abyssinian Banking Company and half-adozen others; that will show you the sort of man he is; Reginald Hoppus Quick, Esq., ditto, ditto; Sir Lupus M Ravin, Bart. ; G. O. Headlong, Esq., and so on. I'm a practical man myself, and would not be led away by anybody's name. Still, there they are. Then there's Oakenshore, the well-known timberdealer; Oram, one of the largest iron-masters in the kingdom; Glimmers, of the firm of Glimmers and Co., the great glass people—to say nothing of Stride, the secretary, a very active and intelligent fellow; has been secretary to two or three other companies before. Oh, yes; there will be fortunes made at Sandy Frith, I'll answer for it. What!”
“Have you any shares ?” Tom asked.
“Who? Me? No; I'm in a different position. I do the work, don't you see? I shall apply for the contract, and shall get it. I shall have to take some shares in part payment, no doubt; but I don't mind that.”
Mr. Chaffin was still enlarging upon the advantages which the first and early investors in the Sandy Frith Land, Building, and General Improvement and Investment Company might hope to derive from a bold and speculative policy under the splendid board of directors who had taken that village under
their especial protection, when the train stopped at Abbotscliff station.
“ There he is,” cried the contractor, pointing to a tall, lean, large-headed boy on the platform. “There's Marmy. Hi!”
Marmy recognised his father's voice and style of address immediately, and came to the carriage, when Mr. Chaffin introduced him to Tom Howard. Chaffin junior nodded to him, and stood still looking at him as he alighted, until he saw him drag Mrs. Roseberry's hamper from under the seat, when he at once offered his assistance, and volunteered to take charge of the basket while its owner hurried away to look after the rest of his luggage. By the time he had found it, and had returned to the carriage door, the train was starting off again, and Tom could only say " Good-bye" to Mr. Chaffin as he passed, the latter calling to him to “take care of those papers, and give them out right and left among his friends and schoolfellows."
Marmaduke also had some of the prospectuses, but he crumpled them up disrespectfully as soon as the train was out of sight, with the remark that that was shop, and he did not mean to have anything to do with the shop-not he.
“How am I to get to the school ?” Tom asked, looking from his luggage to young Chaffin.
“What have you got in that hamper ?” said the other, without roplying to his question. "Guess," said Tom.
Cakes and oranges, and a bottle of wine, perhaps.” “ There's no wine," said Tom.
“That's a nuisance. Wine is not allowed in the boardinghouse, of course, but we can always get it in if it comes.”
Before Tom could answer him, a porter, who had been looking at his name on his portmanteau, came up and said, “There's another hamper for you in the office, I think, just like the