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HOME > Short Stories > Ted and the Telephone > CHAPTER XIV THE FERNALDS WIN THEIR POINT
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 The trial of Alf Sullivan and Jim Cronin was one of the most spectacular and thrilling events Freeman's Falls had ever witnessed. That two such notorious criminals should have been captured through the efforts of a young boy was almost inconceivable to the police, especially to the State detectives whom they had continually outwitted. And yet here they were in the dock and the town officers made not the slightest pretense that any part of the glory of their apprehension belonged to them. To Ted Turner's prompt action, and to that alone, the triumph was due.  
In consequence the boy became the hero of the village. He had always been a favorite with both young and old, for every one liked his father, and it followed that they liked his father's son. Now, however, they had greater cause to admire that son for his own sake and cherish toward him the warmest gratitude. Many a man and woman reflected that it was this slender boy who had stood between them and a calamity almost too horrible to be believed; and as a result their gratitude was tremendous. And if the townsfolk were sensible of this great obligation how much more keenly alive to it were the Fernalds whose property had been thus menaced.
"You have topped one service with another, Ted," Mr. Lawrence Fernald declared. "We do not see how we are ever to thank you. Come, there must be something that you would like—some wish you would be happy to have gratified. Tell us what it is and perhaps we can act as magicians and make it come true."
"Yes," pleaded Mr. Clarence Fernald, "speak out, Ted. Do not hesitate. Remember you have done us a favor the magnitude of which can never be measured and which we can never repay."
"But I do not want to be paid, sir," the lad answered. "I am quite as thankful as you that the wretches who purposed harm were caught before they had had opportunity to destroy either life or property. Certainly that is reward enough."
"It is a reward in its way," the elder Mr. Fernald asserted. "The thought that it was you who were the savior of an entire community will bring you happiness as long as you live. Nevertheless we should like to give you something more tangible than pleasant thoughts. We want you to have something by which to remember this marvelous escape from tragedy. Deep down in your heart there must be some wish you cherish. If you knew the satisfaction it would give us to gratify it, I am sure you would not be so reluctant to express it."
Ted colored, and after hesitating an instant, shyly replied:
"Since you are both so kind and really seem to wish to know, there is something I should like."
"Name it!" the Fernalds cried in unison.
"I should like to feel I can return to the shack next summer," the boy remarked timidly. "You see, I have become very fond of Aldercliffe and Pine Lea, fond of Laurie, of Mr. Hazen, and of the little hut. I have felt far more sorry than perhaps you realize to go away from here." His voice quivered.
"You poor youngster!" Mr. Clarence exclaimed. "Why in the name of goodness didn't you say so? There is no more need of your leaving this place than there is of my going, or Laurie. We ought to have sensed your feeling and seen to it that other plans were made long ago. Indeed, you shall come back to your little riverside abode next summer—never fear! And as for Aldercliffe, Pine Lea, Laurie and all the rest of it, you shall not be parted from any of them."
"But I must go back to school now, sir."
"What's the matter with your staying on at Pine Lea and having your lessons with Laurie and Mr. Hazen instead?"
"Should you like to?"
"Oh, Mr. Fernald, it would be——"
Laurie's father laughed.
"I guess we do not need an answer to that question," Grandfather Fernald remarked, smiling. "His face tells the tale."
"Then the thing is as good as done," Mr. Clarence announced. "Hazen will be as set up as an old hen to have two chicks. He likes you, Ted."
"And well he may," growled Grandfather Fernald. "But for Ted's prayers and pleas he would not now be here."
"Yes, Hazen will be much pleased," reiterated Mr. Clarence Fernald, ignoring his father's comment. "As for Laurie—I wonder we never thought of all this before. It is no more work to teach two boys than one, and in the meantime each will act as a stimulus for the other. The spur of rivalry will be a splendid incentive for Laurie, to say nothing of the joy he will take in your companionship. He needs young people about him. It is a great scheme, a great scheme!" mused Mr. Fernald, rubbing his hands with increasing satisfaction as one advantage of the arrangement after another rotated through his mind.
"If only my father does not object," murmured Ted.
"Object! Object!" blustered Grandfather Fernald. "And why, pray, should he object?"
That a man of Mr. Turner's station in life should view the plan with anything but pride and complacency was evidently a new thought to the financier.
"Why, sir, my father and sisters are very fond of me and may not wish to have me remain longer away from home. They have missed me a lot this summer, I know that. You see I am the youngest one, the only boy."
"Humph!" interpolated the elder Mr. Fernald.
"In spite of the fact that we are crowded at home and too busy to see much of one another, Father likes to feel I'm around," continued Ted.
"I—suppose—so," came slowly from the old gentleman.
"I am sure I can fix all that," asserted Mr. Clarence Fernald briskly. "I will see your father and sisters myself, and I feel sure they will not stand in the way of your getting a fine education when it is offered you—that is, if they care as much for you as you say they do. On the contrary, they will be the first persons to realize that such a plan is greatly to your advantage."
"It is going to be almightily to your advantage," Mr. Lawrence Fernald added. "Who can tell where it all may lead? If you do well at your studies, perhaps it may mean college some day, and a big, well-paid job afterward."
Ted's eyes shone.
"Would you like to go to college if you could?" persisted the elder man.
"You bet I would—I mean yes, sir."
The old gentleman chuckled at the fervor of the reply.
"Well, well," said he, "time must decide all that. First lay a good foundation. You cannot build anything worth building without something to build upon. You get your cellar dug and we will then see what we will put on top of it."
With this parting remark he and his son moved away.
When the project was laid before Laurie, his delight knew no bounds. To have Ted come and live at Pine Lea for the winter, what a lark! Think of having some one to read and study with every day! Nothing could be jollier! And Mr. Hazen was every whit as pleased.
"It is the very thing!" he exclaimed to Laurie's father. "Ted will not be the least trouble. He is a fine student and it will be a satisfaction to work with him. Besides, unless I greatly miss my guess, he will cheer Laurie on to much larger accomplishments. Ted's influence has never been anything but good."
And what said Laurie's mother?
"It is splendid, Clarence, splendid! We can refurnish that extra room that adjoins Laurie's suite and let Mr. Hazen and the boys have that entire wing of the house. Nothing could be simpler. I shall be glad to have Ted here. Not only is he a fine boy but he has proved himself a good friend to us all. If we can do anything for him, we certainly should do it. The lad has had none too easy a time in this world."
Yes, all went well with the plan so far as the Fernalds were concerned; but the Turners—ah, there was the stumbling block!
"It's no doubt a fine thing you're offering to do for my son," Ted's father replied to Mr. Clarence Fernald, "and I assure you I am not unmindful of your kindness; but you see he is our only boy and when he isn't here whistling round the house we miss him. 'Tain't as if we had him at home during his vacation. If he goes up to your place to work summers and stays there winters as well, we shall scarcely see him at all. All we have had of him this last year was an occasional teatime visit. Folks don't like having their children go out from the family roof so young."
"But, Father," put in Nancy, "think what such a chance as this will mean to Ted. You yourself have said over and over again that there was nothing like having an education."
"I know it," mused the man. "There's nothing can equal knowing something. I never did and look where I've landed. I'll never go ahead none. But I want it to be different with my boy. He's going to have some stock in trade in the way of training for life. It will be a kind of capital nothing can sweep away. As I figure it, it will be a sure investment—that is, if the boy has any stuff in him."
"An education is a pretty solid investment," agreed the elder Mr. Fernald, "and you are wise to recognize its value, Mr. Turner. To plunge into life without such a weapon is like entering battle without a sword. I know, for I have tried it."
"Have you indeed, sir?"
Grandfather Fernald nodded.
"I was brought up on a Vermont farm when I was a boy."
"You don't say so! Well, well!"
"Yes, I never had much schooling," went on the old man. "Of course I picked up a lot of practical knowledge, as a boy will; and in some ways it has not been so bad. But it was a pretty mixed-up lot of stuff and I have been all my life sorting it ou............
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