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and watching the countenance of his debtor. “Well ? you can read, can you not ? Do you not find it all right?” he continued, speaking rather sharply.
“Oh yes, it is all right, I dare say : but, my good fellow, I really have not got the money yet.”
Now, Sam Brown was not a very formidable looking youth ; and Albert had never before been afraid to look him, or any other boy, full in the face : but now his eyes were turned aside; he durst not encounter the angry glances of a disappointed creditor; and enraged he knew Sam would be. We shall, however, pass over the strife of words that followed poor Albert's confession of inability to pay. Another month's indulgence and quiet was at length purchased by the harassed young debtor, with his last remaining sixpence.—"But take care you have the money ready then,” was Sam Brown's parting admonition. “I will not be put off again in this way, I can tell you."
The boy debtor having thus dearly paid for a respite from the importunity of his creditor, determined to make a good use of it. He was too deeply mortified by the taunts and reproaches which had been cast on him to desire their repetition. He wrote, that same day, to his father, to request a fresh supply of spending money; and anxiously waited the result of his application. Several days passed, and no answer arrived ; and when it did come, alas ! and alas ! it was a post letter, and not a neat little packet, such as he hoped would be sent to him by the carrier who once a week passed by his father's house. It was too plain that there was no money in the letter, and he dreaded to open it. At length he plucked up courage to open, to
read, and to find his worst fears all but confirmed. His father, indeed, did not absolutely refuse Albert's request: but he desired, first of all, to know what had become of all the money his son had taken with him to school, and for what particular urgency he required a fresh supply. This was a sad blow to Albert; nevertheless, there was no help for it, and he sat down to give the required account of himself, and his finances.
Albert's father was a tradesman, strictly honourable in all his dealings, and who, if he had any pride at all, was proud of the great accuracy with which he kept his own accounts. Albert knew this full well ; and he knew, also, that he had more than once displeased his father by not following his directions in this particular. “Spend your money, if you please,” had been said to him : “it was given you to spend; but
take an account of every purchase you make, and show me that account when you come home. I shall know, then, how your money goes; and the habit of accuracy you will thus cultivate will be cheaply bought by a few pence, or even shillings, foolishly wasted.” But, notwithstanding this somewhat indulgent method of viewing boyish extravagancies, Albert had always given in just such meagre cash accounts as were to be expected from one who put off to the end of every six months what ought to have been done from day to day, or from week to week. On this occasion, it was very unwillingly that he set about what he considered a very unpleasant task. True, he could remember perfectly well how much money his purse contained at the beginning of the half year, how much of it was given to him by his father, how much by his mother, and how much was contributed by
aunt Rachel, uncle John, cousin Peter, and so on : the difficulty lay on the other side of the balance sheet.
Long did poor Albert labour to reduce to some kind of commercial order and exactness, a strange jumble of items that bewildered his brain. Pears, apples, shoestrings, gingerbread, snuff-box, bow and arrows, etc., etc., all seemed to be bustling for pre-eminence on his paper; and it was long before he could arrange them to his own satisfaction. At last he completed his list, so far as he could recollect what he had spent, and how he had spent it. But, alas ! when he came to draw the balance, although he had added the now heartily hated flute to the number of his fair purchases, there required much more yet to account for his entire destitution. Besides this, he could not but see that so much gingerbread, fruit, and other delica