939. The Daring Twins – A Story for Young Folk . L. Frank Baum
The Daring Twins
A Story for Young Folk
L. Frank Baum
( The author of WIZARD OF OZ)
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Phil Daring walked toward the village with uneasy, nervous strides. There was an anxious expression upon his usually placid face.
“Queer,” he muttered to himself, “that I never thought to ask how we’re able to live. It costs money to feed five hungry youngsters; and where does it come from, I wonder?”
The Eliot house was on the brow of a knoll and the street sloped downward to the little village where the “business center” clustered around the railway station. The river was just beyond, flowing sleepily on its way to the gulf, and at Riverdale a long wooden bridge spanned the murky water. It was a quiet, pretty little town, but had such a limited population that every resident knew nearly everyone else who lived there and kept fairly well posted on the private affairs of each member of the community.
Wallace Daring, the father of the twins, had been the big man of Riverdale before he died a few months ago. He had come to the town many years before, when he was a young man, and built the great beet sugar factory that had made all the farmers around so prosperous, growing crops to supply it. Mr. Daring must have made money from the business, for he married Jonathan Eliot’s daughter and established a cosy home where Phil and Phœbe, and Donald and Becky were born. Afterward he erected a splendid mansion that was the wonder and admiration of all Riverdale. But no one envied Wallace Daring his success, for the kindly, energetic man was everybody’s friend and very popular with his neighbors.
Then began reverses. His well-beloved wife, the mother of his children, was taken away from him and left him a lonely and changed man. He tried to seek consolation in the society of his little ones; but in a brief four years he himself met a sudden death in a railway wreck. Then, to the amazement of all who knew him, it was discovered that his vast fortune had been swept away and he was heavily in debt.
Judge Ferguson, his lawyer, was made his executor by the court and proceeded to settle the estate as advantageously as he could; but the fine mansion had to be sold. The five orphaned children lived in their old home, cared for by honest, faithful Aunt Hyacinth, until two months before the time this story begins, when a man from the East named Randolph bought the place and the Darings moved over to their grandfather’s old-fashioned but roomy and comfortable house across the way.
Phil walked more slowly as he approached the business district. The task he had set himself was an unpleasant one, but he felt that he must face it courageously.