Read CHAPTER XXII - LOOKING AHEAD. of A Jolly Fellowship , free online book, by Frank R. Stockton, on

“We have made up our minds,” said Uncle Chipperton, that afternoon, “to go home and settle down, and let Corny go to school.  I hate to send her away from us, but it will be for her good.  But that wont be until next fall.  We’ll keep her until then.  And now, I’ll tell you what I think we’d all better do.  It’s too soon to go North yet.  No one should go from the soft climate of the semi-tropics to the Northern or Middle States until mild weather has fairly set in there.  And that will not happen for a month yet.

“Now, this is my plan.  Let us all take a leisurely trip homeward by the way of Mobile, and New Orleans and the Mississippi River.  This will be just the season, and we shall be just the party.  What do you say?”

Everybody, but me, said it would be splendid.  I had exactly the same idea about it, but I didn’t say so, for there was no use in it.  I couldn’t go on a trip like that.  I had been counting up my money that morning, and found I would have to shave pretty closely to get home by rail, ­and I wanted, very much, to go that way ­although it would be cheaper to return by sea, ­for I had a great desire to go through North and South Carolina and Virginia, and see Washington.  It would have seemed like a shame to go back by sea, and miss all this.  But, as I said, I had barely enough money for this trip, and to make it I must start the next day.  And there was no use writing home for money.  I knew there was none there to spare, and I wouldn’t have asked for it if there had been.  If there was any travelling money, some of the others ought to have it.  I had had my share.

It was very different with Rectus and the Chippertons.  They could afford to take this trip, and there was no reason why they shouldn’t take it.

When I told them this, Uncle Chipperton flashed up in a minute, and said that that was all stuff and nonsense, ­the trip shouldn’t cost me a cent.  What was the sense, he said, of thinking of a few dollars when such pleasure was in view?  He would see that I had no money-troubles, and if that was all, I could go just as well as not.  Didn’t he owe me thousands of dollars?

All this was very kind, but it didn’t suit me.  I knew that he did not owe me a cent, for if I had done anything for him, I made no charge for it.  And even if I had been willing to let him pay my expenses, ­which I wasn’t, ­my father would never have listened to it.

So I thanked him, but told him the thing couldn’t be worked in that way, and I said it over and over again, until, at last, he believed it.  Then he offered to lend me the money necessary, but this offer I had to decline, too.  As I had no way of paying it back, I might as well have taken it as a gift.  There wasn’t anything he could offer, after this, except to get me a free pass; and as he had no way of doing that, he gave up the job, and we all went down to supper.  That evening, as I was putting a few things into a small valise which I had bought, ­as our trunks were lost on the “Tigris,” I had very little trouble in packing up, ­I said to Rectus that by the time he started off he could lay in a new stock of clothes.  I had made out our accounts, and had his money ready to hand over to him, but I knew that his father had arranged for him to draw on a Savannah bank, both for the tug-boat money and for money for himself.  I think that Mr. Colbert would have authorized me to do this drawing, if Rectus had not taken the matter into his own hands when he telegraphed.  But it didn’t matter, and there wasn’t any tug-boat money to pay, any way, for Uncle Chipperton paid that.  He said it had all been done for his daughter, and he put his foot down hard, and wouldn’t let Rectus hand over a cent.

“I wont have any more time than you will have,” replied Rectus, “for I’m going to-morrow.”

“I didn’t suppose they’d start so soon,” I said “I’m sure there’s no need of any hurry.”

“I’m not going with them,” said Rectus, putting a lonely shirt into a trunk that he had bought.  “I’m going home with you.”

I was so surprised at this that I just stared at him.

“What do you mean?” said I.

“Mean?” said he.  “Why, just what I say.  Do you suppose I’d go off with them, and let you straggle up home by yourself?  Not any for me, thank you.  And besides, I thought you were to take charge of me.  How would you look going back and saying you’d turned me over to another party?”

“You thought I was to take charge of you, did you?” I cried.  “Well, you’re a long time saying so.  You never admitted that before.”

“I had better sense than that,” said Rectus, with a grin.  “But I don’t mind saying so now, as we’re pretty near through with our travels.  But father told me expressly that I was to consider myself in your charge.”

“You young rascal!” said I.  “And he thought that you understood it so well that there was no need of saying much to me about it.  All that he said expressly to me was about taking care of your money.  But I tell you what it is, Rectus, you’re a regular young trump to give up that trip, and go along with me.”

And I gave him a good slap on the back.

He winced at this, and let drive a pillow at me, so hard that it nearly knocked me over a chair.

The next morning, after an early breakfast, we went to bid the Chippertons good-bye.  We intended to walk to the depot, and so wanted to start early.  I was now cutting down all extra expenses.

“Ready so soon!” cried Uncle Chipperton, appearing at the door of his room.  “Why, we haven’t had our breakfast yet.”

“We have to make an early start, if we go by the morning train,” said I, “and we wanted to see you all before we started.”

“Glad to see you at any hour of the night or day, ­always very glad to see you; but I think we had better be getting our breakfast, if the train goes so early.”

“Are you going to start to-day?” I asked, in surprise.

“Certainly,” said he.  “Why shouldn’t we?  I bought a new suit of clothes yesterday, and my wife and Corny look well enough for travelling purposes.  We can start as well as not, and I’d go in my green trousers if I hadn’t any others.  My dear,” he said, looking into the room, “you and Corny must come right down to breakfast.”

“But perhaps you need not hurry,” I said.  “I don’t know when the train for Mobile starts.”

“Mobile!” he cried.  “Who’s going to Mobile?  Do you suppose that we are?  Not a bit of it.  When I proposed that trip, I didn’t propose it for Mrs. Chipperton, or Corny, or myself, or you, or Rectus, or Tom, or Dick, or Harry.  I proposed it for all of us.  If all of us cannot go, none of us can.  If you must go north this morning, so must we.  We’ve nothing to pack, and that’s a comfort.  Nine o’clock, did you say?  You may go on to the depot, if you like, and we’ll eat our breakfasts, take a carriage, and be there in time.”

They were there in time, and we all went north together.

We had a jolly trip.  We saw Charleston, and Richmond, and Washington, and Baltimore, and Philadelphia; and at last we saw Jersey City, and our folks waiting for us in the great depot of the Pennsylvania railroad.

When I saw my father and mother and my sister Helen standing there on the stone foot-walk, as the cars rolled in, I was amazed.  I hadn’t expected them.  It was all right enough for Rectus to expect his father and mother, for they lived in New York, but I had supposed that I should meet my folks at the station in Willisville.  But it was a capital idea in them to come to New York.  They said they couldn’t wait at home, and besides, they wanted to see and know the Chippertons, for we all seemed so bound together, now.

Well, it wasn’t hard to know the Chippertons.  Before we reached the hotel where my folks were staying, and where we all went to take luncheon together, any one would have thought that Uncle Chipperton was really a born brother to father and old Mr. Colbert.  How he did talk!  How everybody talked!  Except Helen.  She just sat and listened and looked at Corny ­a girl who had been shipwrecked, and had been on a little raft in the midst of the stormy billows.  My mother and the two other ladies cried a good deal, but it was a sunshiny sort of crying, and wouldn’t have happened so often, I think, if Mrs. Chipperton had not been so ready to lead off.

After luncheon we sat for two or three hours in one of the parlors, and talked, and talked, and talked.  It was a sort of family congress.  Everybody told everybody else what he or she was going to do, and took information of the same kind in trade.  I was to go to college in the fall, but as that had been pretty much settled long ago, it couldn’t be considered as news.  I looked well enough, my father said, to do all the hard studying that was needed; and the professor was anxiously waiting to put me through a course of training for the happy lot of Freshman.

“But he’s not going to begin his studies as soon as he gets home,” said my mother.  “We’re going to have him to ourselves for a while.”  And I did not doubt that.  I hadn’t been gone very long, to be sure, but then a ship had been burned from under me, and that counted for about a year’s absence.

Corny’s fate had been settled, too, in a general way, but the discussion that went on about a good boarding-school for her showed that a particular settlement might take some time.  Uncle Chipperton wanted her to go to some school near his place on the Hudson River, so that he could drive over and see her every day or two, and Mrs. Colbert said she thought that that wouldn’t do, because no girl could study as she ought to, if her father was coming to see her all the time, and Uncle Chipperton wanted to know what possible injury she thought he would do his daughter by going to see her; and Mrs. Colbert said, none at all, of course she didn’t mean that, and Mrs. Chipperton said that Corny and her father ought really to go to the same school, and then we all laughed, and my father put in quickly, and asked about Rectus.  It was easy to see that it would take all summer to get a school for Corny.

“Well,” said Mr. Colbert, “I’ve got a place for Sammy.  Right in my office.  He’s to be a man of business, you know.  He never took much to schooling.  I sent him travelling so that he could see the world, and get himself in trim for dealing with it.  And that’s what we have to do in our business.  Deal with the world.”

I didn’t like this, and I don’t think Rectus did, either.  He walked over to one of the windows, and looked out into the street.

“I’ll tell you what I think, sir,” said I.  “Rectus ­I mean your son Samuel, only I shall never call him so ­has seen enough of the world to make him so wide awake that he sees more in schooling than he used to.  That’s my opinion!”

I knew that Rectus rather envied my going to college, for he had said as much on the trip home; and I knew that he had hoped his father would let him make a fresh start with the professor at our old school.

“Sammy,” cried out Mrs. Colbert, ­“Sammy, my son, do you want to go to school, and finish up your education, or go into your father’s office, and learn to be a merchant?”

Rectus turned around from the window.

“There’s no hurry about the merchant,” he said.  “I want to go to school and college, first.”

“And that’s just where you’re going,” said his mother, with her face reddening up a little more than common.

Mr. Colbert grinned a little, but said nothing.  I suppose he thought it would be of no use, and I had an idea, too, that he was very glad to have Rectus determine on a college career.  I know the rest of us were.  And we didn’t hold back from saying so, either.

Uncle Chipperton now began to praise Rectus, and he told what obligations the boy had put him under in Nassau, when he wrote to his father, and had that suit about the property stopped, and so relieved him ­Uncle Chipperton ­from cutting short his semi-tropical trip, and hurrying home to New York in the middle of winter.

“But the suit isn’t stopped,” said Mr. Colbert.  “You don’t suppose I would pay any attention to a note like the one Sammy sent me, do you?  I just let the suit go on, of course.  It has not been decided yet, but I expect to gain it.”

At this, Uncle Chipperton grew very angry indeed.  It was astonishing to see how quickly he blazed up.  He had supposed the whole thing settled, and now to find that the terrible injustice ­as he considered it ­was still going on, was too much for him.

“Do you sit there and tell me that, sir?” he exclaimed, jumping up and skipping over to Mr. Colbert.  “Do you call yourself ­”

“Father!” cried Corny.  “Keep perfectly cool!  Remain just where you are!”

Uncle Chipperton stopped as if he had run against a fence.  His favorite advice went straight home to him.

“Very good, my child,” said he, turning to Corny.  “That’s just what I’ll do.”

And he said no more about it.

Now, everybody began to talk about all sorts of things, so as to seem as if they hadn’t noticed this little rumpus, and we agreed that we must all see each other again the next day.  Father said he should remain in the city for a few days, now that we were all here, and Uncle Chipperton did not intend to go to his country-place until the weather was warmer.  We were speaking of several things that would be pleasant to do together, when Uncle Chipperton broke in with a proposition: 

“I’ll tell you what I am going to do.  I am going to give a dinner to this party.  I can’t invite you to my house, but I shall engage a parlor in a restaurant, where I have given dinners before (we always come to New York when I want to give dinners ­it’s so much easier for us to come to the city than for a lot of people to come out to our place), and there I shall give you a dinner, to-morrow evening.  Nobody need say anything against this.  I’ve settled it, and I can’t be moved.”

As he couldn’t be moved, no one tried to move him.

“I tell you what it is,” said Rectus privately to me.  “If Uncle Chipperton is going to give a dinner, according to his own ideas of things in general, it will be a curious kind of a meal.”

It often happened that Rectus was as nearly right as most people.