Return to page 5      Return to page 1               Andy Grant Part 6    Preparing for the Picnic

Andy thought he would try to get a job but for the moment he could not decide what he wanted to do. He took off his school uniform and put on some overalls and started working on the farm to help his father.

It was while he was at work making hay that Conrad Carter came up one day. He leant against the fenceand looked at Andy with smirk on his face.

"Oh, you're practising to be a farm boy!" he said.              Picture of Andy at a hay shed.

Andy was very careful not to sound angry. "For the moment I am helping my father on the farm,"he said.

"You look fine in your overalls."

"Do you think so? Thank you for the compliment."

"I suppose that you will start ploughing soon. I imagine you will be very good as a plough boy." Conrad said this in such a way as to show that he thought that being a plough boy was a very poor job.

"You will probably succeed better as a plough boy than in business."

"I mean to succeed in anything I do."

"You think you are clever don't you?"

"I suppose you are saying that you are modest and never boast," said Andy.

Conrad's face started to turn red.

"Now you are being rude," said Conrad, "so I will go away. I think you are being very foolish to talk to me like that."

"Why?" said Andy.

"Remember that my father can take away your farm at the end of two years," said Conrad.

This was really very nasty. Conrad was really saying, "You need to be very nice to me or my father will take your farm."

"If that is the way you are going to talk to me," said Andy, "I shall be glad to have you go away, as you just threatened."

"People who are poor like you cannot afford to be proud" said Conrad.

"I don't want to be either proud or poor," returned Andy, smiling.

"That fellow annoys me," thought Conrad. "However, he'll be sorry!"

Conrad went away and in a few minutes, another boy called Victor Burns came up to speak to Andy.
Victor was a good friend of Andy's and Andy was pleased to see him.

"Hard at work, I see, Andy," he said.

"Don't you want to help me?"

"No, I'm too lazy. I have to work in the store out of school hours, you know. Are you going to the picnic?"

"What picnic?"

"There's a Sunday-school picnic next Thursday afternoon. The Sunday schools in both churches have got together to arrange it. All the young people will be there. You would have heard of it if you hadn't been away at school."

"I will certainly go. There are so few amusements in Arden that I can't afford to miss any. I suppose there will be the usual attractions?"

"There's a gentleman who has offered a prize of ten dollars to the boy who will row across the pond in the shortest time."

"The distance is about half a mile, isn't it?"

"Yes; a little more."

"I suppose you will go in for the prize, Victor. You have a nice boat to practice in."

"No, I am not a good rower and it does not matter how much I practise I would not become good enough to win." 
"Who is expected to win?"

"Conrad Carter is sure that he will win the prize. There is no boy in Arden that can compete with him, except--"

"Well, except whom?"

"Except you ,Andy "

"I don't know," said Andy, thoughtfully. "I can row pretty well--that is, I used to; but I am out of practice."

"Why don't you get back your practice?"

"I have no boat."

"Then use mine," said Victor, promptly.

"You are very kind, Victor. How many days are there before the picnic?"

"Five. I am sure that will be long enough for you."

"I should like to win the ten dollars. I want to go to the city and look for a job, and I don't want to ask father for the money."

"Ten dollars would carry you there nicely, and give you a day or two to look around."
"True; well, Victor, I will accept your kind offer. Is Conrad practising?"

"Yes; he is out every afternoon."

"I can't go till after supper."

"Then begin this evening. You know where I keep my boat. I will be at
the boathouse at half-past six, and you can meet me there."

"All right. You are a good friend, Victor."

"I try to be, but it isn't all friendship."

"What else, then?"

"I want Conrad defeated. He is big-headed and annoying now, and if he wins the
prize he will be worse than ever."

Prospect Pond was a little distance out of the village. It was a beautiful sheet of water, and a favourite resort for picnic parties. Conrad Carter, Victor Burns, and two or three other boys and young men had boats there, and a man named Serwin kept boats to hire.

But the best boats belonged to Victor and Conrad. It was rather annoying to Conrad that any one should have a boat as good as his own, but this was something he could not help. He consoled himself, however, by thinking of how he would beat Victor in the race.

Conrad had been out practising during the afternoon, accompanied by John Larkin, a neighbour's son. John stood on the bank and timed him.

"Well, John, how do I row?" he asked, when he returned from his trial trip.

"You did very well," said John.

"There won't be any one else that can beat me in the race."

"I don't think of any one. Victor has as good a boat--"

"I don't think so," said Conrad. He did not like to think that Victor's boat was as good as his.

" If I were rowing I could do just as well in his boat as in yours," said John," but he cannot row as well as you."
"I should think not."

"Jimmy Morris is a pretty good rower, but he has no boat of his own.  He will have to row in one of Serwin's boats and they are heavy and they are not streamlined like yours."

"It doesn't matter what boat he was in he couldn't do as well as me."

"I am not so sure about that,"said John

"Don't be stupid!" said Conrad.

"There's no need to be annoyed," said John, I am allowed to think what I like."

"All the same, you are mistaken."

"If Victor would lend his boat to Jimmy we could tell better."

"He won't do it. He will want it himself," said Conrad.

"As matters stand now, I think you will win the prize."

"I think so myself."

Now Andy Grant had been a champion rower at school but no one knew this.

"I wonder whether Andy Grant can row?" said John Larkin.

Conrad laughed.

"He can hoe corn and potatoes better than he can row, I fancy," he said.

"He's a really nice lad ," said Larkin, warmly.

"He's poor and proud. I called at the farm this morning and he insulted me."

"Are you sure you didn't insult him?"

"Look here, John Larkin, I am important and if you don't treat me with more respect I won't
be friendly with you."

"Do as you like," said John, independently. "I'd just as soon be friends with Victor or Andy."

"My father has more money than both their fathers."

"That don't make you a better person. Why are you so anxious to win this prize? Is it the money you are after?"

"No. If I want ten dollars my father will give it to me. It isn't the money, but the glory that I think of."

"If I had your practice I'd go in for it myself. I shouldn't mind pocketing ten dollars."

"No doubt it would be welcome to you."

"Let me try your boat for a few minutes."

"You can have it for ten minutes."

"I would like it long enough to row over the course."

"You can have it that long. I'm going over it again myself as soon as I have got rested from the last trial."

John Larkin got into the boat and rowed very well, but Conrad called for him to row back before he reached the other side of the pond.

John began to ask himself why he was friendly to Conrad, who was always very selfish.

"I wish he would get beaten, after all," thought John; "but I don't know who there is to do it. Victor is only a moderately good rower, and Jimmy Morris has no boat of his own."

Conrad rowed across the pond once more. He came back in good spirits. He had beaten his former record by three-quarters of a minute.

"I'm sure of the prize," he said.

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