|Chapter Title||HOW HE GAME TO START AS ERRAND-BOY.|
|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||A Boy's Fortune. A Story for Children|
HOW HE GAME TO STABT AS ERRAND-BOY*
Madame Ddmare was the widow of a cele brated advocate, who earned a great deal of money, but who loved to spend it so much that he died without leaving anything to his family. Their only daughter, who was re markably beautiful, was married when very young to one of the richest shipowners of Havre, who married her without a settle ment. M. BcSrard (for that was the name of the merchant) was as generous as he was rich, and did not wish his mother-in-law to live in the state of discomfort to which the death of her husband had reduced her. So
M. B6rard gave her a handsome annuity, which he continued after the death of his wife, who died at the age of twenty, after having given birth to Robert.
This child seemed destined to inherit an enormous and honestly acquired fortune, when a series of fearful events brought about the ruin of M. Bdrard. The worthy mer chant's only hope lav in the return of a richly-laden vessel .which had been sent to America, and when the news arrived that this vessel had perished on the shores of Spain, he died tne same night of an attack of apoplexy from the effects of this last cruel
When all the debts of the deceased ship owner had been paid, he left nothing behind him but an honest name. Hone of ms credi tors lost anything, but Robert had not even enough to buy bread with.
Madame Dimare did not hesitate to take charge of the poor orphan, who had no rela tives on his father's side. In total ignorance as to how she was going to earn her own living, she hastened to Havre to fetch the child to her house in Paris. As she had
given up going into society since the death of her husband, it was very easy for her to make herself quite forgotten by going and establishing herself on the fourth floor in a remote neighbourhood. After having Bent away her cook with the intention of keep ing only one servant, she sold her furniture, which was far too good for her present position, and the sum which it fetched, aided by her many plans of saving, appeared to her to be enough for her support for the next two or three years. She possessed, besides, some jewels, which she wished to keep in case of some unforeseen accident stopping her daily work, upon which she counted a great deal; for Madame Ddmare excelled in every sort of needlework, and embroidered admirably. Although this plan was based upon the strictest economy, and Madame Ddmare pur sued it rigorously from the first year, her debts exceeded her receipts. She had not
known until then that the beautiful em broidery for which she had paid so much when she enjoyed a large fortune brought so little to the workwomen, and that what the shopkeepers paid to the makers was scarcely enough for them to buy food with. Before Robert had attained tne age of seven she was obliged to have recourse to the sale of some of her jewels to enable her to send the child as a day-boarder to an excellent school in the neighbourhood.
Robert was as beautiful as his mother, whom he strongly resembled, and Madame Ddmare idolized Mm, and found him a con solation for all her troubles. The little boy loved his grandmother with such infinite tenderness, that to be near her would take the place of any other pleasure. He would never amuse himself, on leaving school, with his school companions; he was always in such haste to rejoin his grandmother. Madame Dfimare had discharged her servant, and this gave her a great deal of wearying work to do; but when Robert was only ten he became of the greatest use to her, and guessed her smallest wish. Also, with an intelligence far above his age, he succeeded in distracting her attention, when she con versed with nim about their past life and compared it with their present, and as he worked eagerly at his lessons, which made him the top of his classes, he took off her attention from her sad thoughts by talking to her of the future.
That future was nevertheless* far removed, and all their resources were exhausted, when one day—the very day on which Robert was thirteen—Madame Ddmare sold her watch, the last of her valuables, and, when he returnedfronischool, he found her weeping.
Thus surprised, the poor grandmother could no longer conceal from him the cause of her tears, and did not leave him in ignorance of their cruel position.
Robert, although he endeavoured to com fort her, was not less alarmed than herself as to the future which was before them. He
did not close his eyes that night, and next day he did not come back from school until long after his usual time. Madame D6mare, feeling very uneasy, was just going to run to the school to know what could .have become
of him, ..when at last the door of the room opened.'
" Ah! dear child!" cried she, relieved from her fearful anxiety, " What has happened? It is. nearly 6 o'clock. You must have gone after your pleasure on leaving school."
" I nave not been to school, good mother," replied Robert, embracing her with more
than usual tenderness.
" How! where then have you been?"
"I will tell you all that; but I beg you do not be angry with_me for having acted with out your leave."
Madame Ddmare sat down, and threw uneasy glances at the boy, who continued, hesitating at each word—
' Yon know the furnished hotel opposite, you not ?" Yes."
'Yon also know the portress, Madame Duclos, whom you told one morning about one of the chimneys of her house being on fire, and whom you salute every time you pass her in the street?"
" Certainly. Well ?"
"Well, her husband broke his leg last week. The day before yesterday, on my way home, I went into the lodge to ask how he was, and the poor woman told me the surgeon said that he will be obliged to remain in bed for a long time, and that she is afraid she will lose her place in conse quence, and she is going to look for some one who will replace lluclos as long as he is in bed to run of errands of the lodgers, who like to have a messenger always there, and also to attend to the lodge between 8 and 9 in the morning when she sweeps the yard and 6tairs. . . Then I forgot—I foigottosay that Madame Duclos does not wish to pay this person, because the errands and a few other little profits would bring him thirty or forty sous a day. Then"
" Continue, dear child, said Madame Ddmare in a trembling voice.
"Then." continued Robert courageously, " I thought last night that it was not difficult to run of errands and pull the bell of a lodge door, and so, instead of going to school I offered myself to Madame Duclos to replace her hnsband during his illness."
" And she accepted you ?" asked Madame Ddmare, scarcelybreatning.
" Yes, yes," replied Robert with a joyful
air, "I have already carried two letters to day, and there are thirty sous which I give to you," he exclaimed throwing himself into his grandmother's arms, who began to sob.
" And your studies, and your future, dear child 1" she cried clasping him to her heart.
"You see, dear mother," replied the poor boy, "we soon Bhall not have enough to pay for the school. Let us wait until we are less unfortunate. I can assure you that I shall not forget anything that I have already learnt. Now, with what I shall earn and with what you earn we can live, and that is the first thing to think of."
"To see you become a errand-boy! ex claimed Madame DiSmare ,unable to restrain
" Bah ! That is all the same to me. Be sides, if I take a great many journeys in the tcwn, the exercise will make me grow, and w aen I am big I shall take another situa
It was in this way he managed to give a little comfort to the only woman he loved in this world, and the woman who only lived
The porter Duclos recovered slowly, and Robert had replaced him for three months at the hdtel to which we bslw him going at the beginning of this story.