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Do and Dare; or, A Brave Boy's Fight for Fortune: Plot Summary

Do and Dare; or, A Brave Boy's Fight for Fortune, New York: Hurst and Company, 1900

          Hero Herbert Carr is the son of a war widow who had assumed her husband's place as postmaster of the small rural town in Waynesboro. Widow Carr is upset because Squire Walsingham is using his political influence to take the post away from the widow to put into the hands of his nephew, Ebenezer Graham, the local miser and shopkeeper. Walsingham succeeds in his efforts and the post is given to Mr. Graham. Since Mr. Graham is uncertain of how to run a post office, he offers to hire Herbert for a pittance to run things until he learns what must be done. However, Mr. Graham's son, Eben Graham, a fop/spendthrift, returns from Boston where he had been a shop clerk. Fired because of his own arrogance, he returns home seeking employment. Mr. Graham fires Herbert and hires his son.
Do and Dare cover image is borrowed from the Dime Novels Collection of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester          Herbert is at first dismayed, but then encounters his patron, George Melville, a young man who is incredibly wealthy (the amount of his fortune is never disclosed), who had trained to be a lawyer but was forced to abandon his practice due to consumption. He offers Herbert an extravagant amount weekly to engage him in outdoor activities to cure his illness. Henry is extremely happy with this opportunity to care for his mother and readily agrees. When Eben hears about Herbert's windfall, he is outraged, feeling that he would be the better companion. After going to Melville's hotel suite and asking him for Herbert's job (and being refused), he organizes a plot of false accusation to have Herbert arrested on charges of theft from the post office. Although Herbert is taken before the judge, his previous good behavior convinces all involved that he is innocent. Furthermore, George Melville uses his education in law to prove that Eben was the true thief in cross-examination.
          Next, George takes Herbert to Boston for a day-trip. While there, Melville asks Herbert to cash a check for one hundred and fifty dollars while he is at the doctor's office. Although Herbert is careful with the money, he is not so careful with his company. While looking about the city, he falls in with a villain who pretends to be a patron. There is an attempted robbery of the entrusted money, but Herbert manages to fend off the attack. Also on the trip to Boston, Herbert runs into Eben, who has stolen money from his father and is going west. Herbert understands the situation but makes no accusation. Both George and Herbert also come across the villain once again, this time accused of stealing from a jewelry store. Although Herbert comes forward to implicate the villain's character, he is sympathetic and does not press charges for his own attempted robbery.
          George then heads to Colorado with Herbert to help him fight his consumption. Along the way, they run into Eben, who has fallen to selling vegetables. They also fall in with another disguised villain, who goes by the name Colonel Warner (who is in fact Jerry Lane, a famed highwayman). Warner claims to be a self-made man, and offers to travel with the two to Colorado. Once there, he encourages them to take a stagecoach with other rich Easterners to an inn run by his cohorts. After the travelers go to bed, Lane plans the robbery with his gang. However, Herbert overhears the conversation and relates the information to George. George takes advantage of the foreknowledge and reveals Warner to be Jerry Lane before the robbery takes place. Warner does not admit to his identity but manages to call off the robbery in time. Once in Colorado, George buys a luxuriant manor from an artist who is returning to the East. Inside is a polylingual library, which serves as a source for Herbert's education. George teaches Herbert French and German.
          Herbert's education is not strictly based in texts. One day when hunting, he comes across Jack Holden, an old miner who is held at gunpoint by an Indian. The Indian plans to kill Jack for a beating he administered after catching the Indian in an attempt to steal his horse. Herbert feels compelled to shoot the Indian in the arm; once the Indian is incapacitated, however, Jack kills him. Herbert's nebulous Christian faith rebels at the murder of any human, and he regrets the situation. Jack thanks Herbert profusely and offers him a partnership in a mine. Melville is excited at Herbert's opportunity and lends him the money for capital. Jack and Herbert find the mine to be profitable and sell it to an Eastern Capitalist for twenty-five times the buying rate. During this transaction, Melville is at the manor alone. Jerry Lane appears for revenge, and is about to hang Melville. Luckily, Jack and Herbert return in time to shoot and wound Lane and turn him over to the authorities. On his way to trial, the narrator relates, Lane is killed by an unseen assassin, proving that one dies as one lives. George and Herbert decide to return to Massachusetts, giving the manor to Jack.
          On their return, they stop in Chicago, where they find Eben in even lower circumstances than before. He now works for food under a black man. Herbert takes the opportunity to become a patron himself, offering Eben the money for new clothes and a ticket home in return for his word that he will lead a healthy and industrious life. Melville and Herbert take him home where he is accepted back into his clerkship under his father. He performs well and is on the path to a partnership within the year. Herbert moves his mother to Boston where Melville boards with them, working his trade as author. Herbert takes a job in the counting room of the capitalist to whom he sold his mine, and he is performing well and, thanks to Melville, is a scholar in French, German, and English literature.