INVENTION

Four days later, Scott received the following note:

“DEAR SCOTT: I am at the Windsor Hotel. Can you call this evening?
WINDERMERE.”

Scott lost no time in responding to the invitation. He was greeted with
the greatest cordiality.

“I am delighted to see you,” said the earl. “I missed you more than I
anticipated after you left me. Now I have a favor to ask.”

“What is it?” asked Scott.

“I have taken a suite of rooms here, and I have set aside a bedroom for
you. I shall be in the city for four weeks, and I want you with me.”

“I am afraid you have forgotten that I am only a boy working for my
living.”

“No; I don’t forget it. I respect you more for it. In fact, Scott, I
want your company. Will you come?”

“Thank you, Mr. Grant–I can’t refuse. I seem to forget that you are an
earl.”

“That is what I wish.”

Just then there was a knock at the door, and a hall boy entered with a
card.

The person whose name it bore came up directly afterward.

He brought a dinner invitation from a well-known social club. The earl
good-naturedly accepted.

The visitor regarded Scott inquiringly.

“Is this young gentleman one of your party, my lord?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. It is my young friend, Mr. Scott Walton.”

“Then I am authorized to include him in the invitation.”

Scott looked at the earl inquiringly.

“I accept for him,” said the earl, promptly.

He smiled when his visitor left the room.

“You are in for it, Scott,” he said. “I advise you to order a dress suit
at once, if you are not provided with one.”

“Won’t the club think they are imposed upon when they find that I am
only a humble business boy?”

“You are not invited on that ground, but as my intimate friend.”

“Then, Mr. Grant, I will throw the whole responsibility upon you,” said
Scott, smiling.

“I will accept it. How will it do for me to dub you Sir Scott Walton?”

“It might embarrass me in my business.”

“True. Then you shall be plain Mr. Walton. Mind that you get a handsome
suit. It will be expected, as you belong to my party.”

One of the leading New York dailies, a few days later, in describing the
dinner, after giving the earl’s modest little speech, continued thus:
“The earl was accompanied by a handsome young gentleman, Mr. Scott
Walton, who is understood to be a near relative. Mr. Walton was called
upon for a speech, but modestly declined.”

When Ezra Little read this paragraph, he was immensely surprised.

“Read that, Loammi,” he said.

“What a humbug that boy is!” said Loammi, much disgusted.

“Humbug or not, he has got into the best society and his success
reflects credit upon us, his cousins.”

“The idea of his palming himself off as a relative of the earl!”

“Perhaps he didn’t. It was probably a conjecture of the reporter.”

“I don’t believe it. I feel sure Scott put him up to it. I’d like to
tell him it is all a mistake.”

“I won’t allow you to do anything of the sort. As the matter stands, it
may lead to the supposition that we also are related to the earl.”

This seemed such a clever idea that Ezra determined to act upon it.

When one of his business acquaintances inquired whether Scott was really
a connection of the earl’s, he answered: “He is related to me, and there
may also be a distant relationship to the earl. Probably the earl
authorized the statement.”

“Why don’t you invite the earl to dinner?”

“Egad, I will!” exclaimed the merchant.

The next day Scott received the following note from Mr. Little:

“DEAR SCOTT: Can you induce your friend, the earl, to accept an
invitation to dinner at our house any day next week? It would give
me great pleasure, as an Englishman born, to pay some attention to
so distinguished a representative of my native country. The choice
of the day rests entirely with the earl. We shall be only too glad
to receive him at any time.

“Sincerely, your cousin, EZRA LITTLE.”

Scott showed this letter to the earl.

The earl smiled.

“I am glad,” he said, “that I have been the means of so cordially
uniting your cousin and yourself. Of course, I know that I am only
invited as your friend.”

Scott laughed.

“That didn’t occur to me,” he said.

“But as to accepting the invitation,” continued the earl, “I am afraid I
cannot. Should I accept Mr. Little’s invitation, I should be overwhelmed
by similar invitations from other parties.”

“He will be terribly disappointed.”

“I can partially make it up to him. I will secure a box at one of the
theatres for some evening next week, and invite your uncle’s family to
join our party. That will involve no embarrassment.”

“I am sure Cousin Ezra will be delighted to accept.”

“Then I will make out an invitation which I will send by you. I will
also invite Mr. Tower, your senior employer, as it may help you with
him.”

“It will, I am sure.”

When Scott called at his uncle’s house, Ezra inquired, eagerly: “Did you
receive my note?”

“Yes, Cousin Ezra.”

“Will the earl accept my invitation?”

“He would be glad to do so, but it would bring upon him so many others
that it would prove embarrassing.”

Mr. Little’s face fell.

“Can’t you influence him to accept?” he asked, with a degree of
deference that was new to Scott.

“No, but he sends you an invitation.”

Scott put in Mr. Little’s hands this missive:

“The Earl of Windermere will be glad to have Mr. Ezra Little and
family join him at the Star Theatre next Wednesday evening to see
Henry Irving in ‘Hamlet.’

“R. S. V. P.”

“Tell the earl I shall be delighted, and so will Mrs. Little and
Loammi,” said the gratified merchant.

“I think, Cousin Ezra, etiquette requires a written acceptance.”

“Tell me what to write, and I will copy it.”

Scott did so, and succeeded in toning down the exuberant terms in which
Mr. Little was at first inclined to couch his acceptance.

Mr. Tower, though a more sensible man, was undeniably flattered by the
invitation which Scott brought him. The earl had called at the store, so
that the invitation was _en r├Ęgle_.

“Really, Scott,” he said, “I shall feel obliged to raise your pay,
since, in addition to your services here, you are introducing me into
such distinguished society.”

“I have no objection to that, Mr. Tower,” said Scott, smiling.

“And you are really the guest of the earl at the Windsor Hotel? It is
most extraordinary.”

“I hope, Mr. Tower, you will appreciate me as much as the earl does.”

“I do already, Scott, but for business reasons.”

Mr. Little sent for reporters on two of the daily papers, and managed to
have his presence in the earl’s box prominently mentioned. Loammi was
immensely gratified, and contrived to make himself conspicuous, while
Scott modestly withdrew into the background.

Seth Lawton happened to reach New York on the morning following the
theatre party. He read in amazement the paragraph which served to
indicate the intimacy of his relatives with the earl.

“My young cousin is getting on,” he said. “Well, he deserves it.”

Mr. Lawton himself was modest, and was considerably surprised when
Scott brought him a cordial invitation to dine at the Windsor with the
earl.

“I don’t know, Scott,” he said. “I am an old-fashioned fellow. I am not
used to stylish company.”

“The earl will like you all the better on that account.”

Scott was right. The Earl of Windermere could see the sterling gold in
Cousin Seth’s character, and treated him with a cordiality that pleased
the old man.

“I never thought I should like an earl,” he said afterward to Scott,
“but your friend is a trump. He ought to be an American citizen.”

Ezra Little was rather disgusted when he heard that Seth Lawton had been
the earl’s guest.

“You ought to have prevented it, Scott,” he said. “What will the earl
think of us when such a homely old fellow is introduced as a cousin?”

“Cousin Seth and the earl are great friends,” replied Scott.

“Humph! I suppose he felt obliged to be polite to him. Seth is a mere
clodhopper.”

He would have been surprised to learn that the earl rated the
“clodhopper” higher than himself.

From this time forth Ezra Little began to pay more attention to his poor
relation. Scott’s social and business success had surprised him. He was
compelled, though reluctantly, to consider him a young man of promise.

He had no idea, however, how successful Scott was, and would have been
very much amazed to learn the extent of his income.

One result, however, was to excite the jealousy of Loammi. He found that
Scott dressed better than himself and had more command of money.
Accordingly, he applied to his father for an increased allowance.

“What do you want more money for, Loammi?” asked his father, in a tone
far from encouraging. “Don’t you get a dollar a week?”

“What can I do with a dollar a week, pa?”

“It was more than I received at your age.”

“You were a poor boy, while I am the son of a rich man.”

“Ahem! not exactly rich, Loammi,” said Ezra Little, complacently.

“Everybody calls you rich, pa.”

“I have some money,” admitted Mr. Little, cautiously, “but it is only by
great care that I am moderately well off.”

“Scott dresses better than I, and always has money in his pocket.”

“He is very foolish to spend all his spare money on clothes. By the time
he is twenty-one he won’t have a cent laid up.”

“At any rate, he has plenty of cash now. The fact is, pa, people are
beginning to notice that he dresses better than I. Percy Shelton was
walking with me the other day when we met Scott. ‘I thought your cousin
was poor,’ he said. ‘He only has his wages to depend upon,’ I said.
‘Then he must be pretty well paid,’ he replied. ‘I saw him at Patti’s
concert Tuesday night, occupying a three-dollar seat.’ That made me feel
awfully mean, for you wouldn’t let me go to hear Patti.”

“No; it would be throwing money away.”

“All the fashionable people go. People that know you are rich think it
strange not to see me there.”

This argument had some effect on Mr. Little, who was anxious that his
son should be admitted into fashionable society, but was too close to
supply him with the necessary means.

“How much do you want, Loammi?” he asked, cautiously.

“Percy Shelton gets five dollars a week.”

“Well, you won’t,” said his father, sharply. “You must think that I am
made of money.”

“I will try to make it do with four, pa.”

“You won’t get that either. I will give you two dollars a week, and that
ought to be enough to satisfy you.”

Loammi was not satisfied, but did not think it prudent to say any more
just then.

There was one more concert by Patti, and he had hoped to attend. Indeed,
he had told Percy that he expected to do so. He might, indeed, have
bought a dollar ticket, but he was ashamed to be seen occupying a cheap
seat.

Loammi had not much taste for music, and cared chiefly to attend the
concert because most of his fashionable friends would be there.

In this dilemma he received unexpected assistance.

He met Scott one evening near the Fifth Avenue Hotel. His poor cousin
was handsomely dressed, and looked to be on good terms with the world,
as indeed he was.

“Good-evening, Loammi,” he said.

“Good-evening, Scott. Are you still working for Tower, Douglas & Co.?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Do they pay you well?”

“I am quite satisfied.”

“How much do you get?”

“I would rather not tell.”

“Percy Shelton told me he saw you at Patti’s concert Tuesday evening.”

“Yes, I was there.”

“The tickets are rather high, ain’t they?”

“I paid three dollars for mine.”

“I want to go ever so much; but pa, though he is rolling in wealth,
keeps me very close. How much do you think I get for my weekly
allowance?”

“I couldn’t guess.”

“Only two dollars.”

“But you have nothing to pay for board or clothes.”

“That is true; but of course I can’t go to hear Patti.”

“Do you really want to go?”

“Of course I do. All my friends have attended.”

“Then I will invite you to accompany me to-morrow evening.”

“On three-dollar tickets?”

“Yes.”

“You’re a good fellow, Scott,” said Loammi, overjoyed. “I always said
so.”

Scott smiled. He did not feel quite certain about that, but forbore to
remind Loammi of certain recent experiences.

“When will you buy the tickets?”

“We will go now if you have time.”

“All right.”

Two days afterward Loammi fell in with Percy Shelton.

“I saw you at the concert last evening,” said his friend.

“Yes.”

“Was that your cousin with you?”

“Yes; I thought he would like to go.”

“That was very kind of you,” said Percy, who naturally concluded that
Scott went by Loammi’s invitation.

“Scott must get a good salary,” thought Loammi. “I wonder how much he is
paid.”

But Scott preferred to keep this to himself. He knew that if Loammi
were told, he would have frequent occasion to borrow, and he felt that
it would be prudent in him to lay by a portion of his earnings.

It will be remembered that his friend, Justin Wood, had bought for him
an interest in the invention of Mr. Babcock, advancing the inventor a
sum of money, which put him on his feet.

Scott had not forgotten this, but forbore to look up Mr. Babcock, not
having quite so much confidence in his success as the inventor himself.

One evening, however, as he was preparing to go out to walk, he met
Babcock coming upstairs.

“Good-evening, Mr. Babcock,” he said; “I am glad to see you.”

“You were going out?” asked the inventor.

“Only for a walk. I shall be better pleased to receive a visit from
you.”

“Then I will accept your invitation. I thought you would look me up.”

“I was afraid I might interfere with you. I presume you are busy.”

“Yes, very busy, I am glad to say. And how is your friend, Mr. Wood?”

“At present he is out of the city.”

“I should like to see him to thank him for his timely aid.”

“Then it has been of service to you?”

“I should say so. I am succeeding beyond my anticipations.”

“I am glad to hear that,” said Scott, cordially.

“You have reason to be. Are you not my partner?”

“I believe I do own an interest in your discovery,” said Scott, smiling.

“I see you do not attach much importance to it. You have not considered
what your profits will amount to.”

“No, Mr. Babcock, I have not thought of that at all. I only hoped that
it would give you a fair living.”

“It will do more. In fact, I have come to see you on business to-night.
The parties who are manufacturing my window fastener have made me an
offer for it. As you hold a one-third interest, I cannot accept without
consulting you.”

“How much do they offer, Mr. Babcock?”

Scott thought the sum might be a thousand dollars, and was very much
surprised when the inventor answered: “Fifteen thousand dollars!”

“Is it possible?” he ejaculated.

“I thought you would be surprised. But it is true. That would give you
five thousand dollars.”

“I don’t see how so small an article can pay so well.”

“It is the small inventions that pay best. What do you say?”

“I want to consult your interest in the matter, Mr. Babcock. This would
give you ten thousand dollars, to be sure, but it would throw you out of
work.”

“No. They engage me as superintendent of the manufactory at a salary of
a hundred dollars per month.”

“That is very good. In that case, if you think it wise to sell, I will
agree.”

“Then you can come to-morrow to see them, and conclude the bargain?”

“I shall be occupied, but I am sure my employers will give me leave of
absence when I tell them the cause. But I don’t think I ought to receive
so large a sum as five thousand dollars. It was you who made the
discovery.”

“True, but I never should have reaped any benefit from it if you had not
introduced me to your friend, Mr. Wood.”

The next day the sale was made, and Scott found himself enriched by
five thousand dollars. It seemed to him almost like a dream, from which
he was afraid that he might awake.

“What would Mr. Little say if he knew?” thought Scott. “He did me a
great favor when he discharged me from his store under a cloud.”

Continue Reading

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING

Red Ralph and his companion slept soundly till after nine o’clock. The
drug was only of moderate strength, or they would have slept longer.

When Ralph opened his eyes he saw the breakfast table spread, and his
wife moving about the room. He looked around him half dazed.

“How does it happen that I am asleep on the floor?” he asked.

“You fell from your chair last night.”

“Why didn’t you rouse me, and make me go to bed?”

“I tried to, but you slept too sound.”

“It is strange I should sleep so–and Conrad, too. What time is it?”

“Half-past nine.”

“Has there been any noise in the room above, where the strangers are
sleeping?”

“I have heard none.”

“The potion kept them asleep. I must go up and rouse them.”

“What are you going to do to them, Ralph? You won’t injure them?”

“I must have their money. I may as well take Conrad with me. Here,
Conrad, wake up!” and he shook his companion with no gentle hand.

Conrad opened his eyes, and looked sleepily around him.

“How came I here?” he asked.

“You took too much whisky and got stupid drunk,” said Ralph, not
mentioning that he, too, had been in the same box. “Is breakfast ready,
Sarah?”

“Yes.”

“Then we’ll sit up and eat. I am famished. Come, Conrad.”

“Won’t you rouse the strangers first?”

“No. That will do afterward. If I get their money, you may give them
some breakfast, too.”

“Very well.”

The woman spoke calmly, but she was inwardly excited. She knew that her
husband would be enraged when he learned that the prisoners had escaped,
but she hoped that her agency in the matter would not be suspected.

The two men ate heartily, and his breakfast made Ralph feel better
natured.

When the meal was over, he said: “Come with me, Conrad. We have work to
do.”

He went upstairs, followed by his accomplice.

The key was in the lock, just as he had left it, apparently.

He turned the key, and opened the door of the chamber. What he expected
to see was the two travelers in a profound slumber. What he did see was
the bed disarranged and the chamber empty.

“What does all this mean?” he ejaculated, starting back in surprise.

“They’re not here!” said Conrad, looking about him.

“Of course they’re not, you fool! But how could they get away?”

Conrad pointed to one of the windows that was half open.

“That explains it,” he said.

Ralph hurried to the window, and put his head out.

Stretching from the window to the ground was the bed cord.

This was a piece of strategy on the part of his wife. After the
departure of Scott and the earl, she had removed the bed cord, and
fastened it to the window to mislead her husband into supposing that it
was in this way their guests had escaped.

“Well, I’ll be blowed!” ejaculated Ralph.

“They must have smelt a rat,” said Conrad, sagely.

“What I can’t understand is how a man of good weight could have been
held up by such a slender cord. And it doesn’t seem to be stretched at
all.”

“It may be stronger than you think,” suggested Conrad.

“I suppose it was, but I wouldn’t like to trust myself to it.”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

“Try it, then.”

Conrad was a man who inclined to be venturesome. He got out of the
window, and tried to lower himself by the rope. The slender cord broke,
and he fell and lay an inglorious heap on the greensward below.

“I told you so!” said Ralph, with a loud laugh.

“The man strained it,” said Conrad, looking rather foolish.

“Here, Sarah,” called out Ralph, “come and look here.”

Outwardly calm, but with inward trepidation, Ralph’s wife ascended the
stairs.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“What’s the matter? You can see for yourself. The men have escaped.”

“So they have,” she said, in affected surprise. “How did they do it?”

“Climbed out of the window by the bed cord. Didn’t you hear it?”

“They must have done it before I was up,” she replied, evading a direct
answer.

“Conrad,” called out Ralph, with a sudden thought, “go out to the barn,
and see if they have taken the horse.”

“Yes, they have. The horse isn’t there,” reported Conrad.

“Then I’ve been taken in, and done for. What beats me is, how did they
suspect anything?”

“You forget,” said the wife, “that they may have missed the wallet.”

“That’s true. I should like to know how long they have been gone. I
wonder you didn’t hear the horse.”

“I think I slept pretty sound myself. It was not till late that I went
to bed.”

“Well, there’s no use in crying over spilt milk,” said Ralph,
philosophically. “At any rate we’ve got the five dollars.”

“And that will pay for all they got here.”

“Especially,” chimed in Conrad, “as they went off without their
breakfast.”

“So they did,” said Ralph, with a broad smile.

He seemed amused by the thought that their guests had, after all, been
overreached, and this contributed to restore his good humor.

Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Her stratagem had been successful, and
there was no suspicion entertained by her husband that she had assisted
the two to escape. Had he suspected it, she shuddered to think what
would have happened.

When Scott and the earl reached the hotel at Niagara, they went up to
their room to finish out a night’s rest, their slumber at the farmhouse
having been interrupted.

The consequence was that they appeared late at breakfast.

Meanwhile there had been an arrival at the hotel of two characters well
known to the reader.

Two days previously, Ezra Little suddenly determined to go to Buffalo.
By the failure of a large firm in that city a considerable stock of
goods had been thrown on the market. It was almost certain that the
stock would be sold out for much less than its real value.

Ezra Little, among others, had received a notice from the assignee of
the approaching sale. The goods were, many of them, in his line, and in
several departments his own stock was getting short.

“I think, Mr. Allen,” he said to his superintendent, “I shall run on to
Buffalo, and examine the stock of Frost, Burks & Co., and if it is a
sacrifice sale I shall probably make considerable purchases.”

“It will be an excellent plan, I think, Mr. Little. We are running short
in several departments. Besides, it will be a pleasant trip for you.”

“That is true; I haven’t been fifty miles from the city for three years.
Three years since, I went to Philadelphia, and ever since then I have
tied myself down to business.”

“I will look after things while you are gone. I understand your system.”

When Ezra Little announced at home that he was going to Buffalo, the
news made a sensation.

“Isn’t Buffalo near Niagara Falls?” asked Loammi.

“Certainly.”

“You will go there, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will try to get time. I shall never have a better opportunity.”

“Oh, pa, won’t you take me?” asked Loammi, eagerly.

“Take you? Why should I?”

“I should enjoy it so much.”

“No doubt, but the expense will be too great. The car fare and hotel
rates will amount to considerable.”

“But, pa, as you were just saying, you will probably clear more than a
thousand dollars by the purchase you propose to make.”

“That is not certain.”

“Oh, yes it is; you are so sharp and shrewd, pa.”

Ezra Little’s pride was flattered.

“Well, yes,” he said, “I think I am fairly sharp.”

“And my expenses won’t be much.”

Ezra looked undecided.

At this point his wife intervened.

“You had better take Loammi, Ezra,” she said. “It will be a pleasure to
him, and if you are sick he can take care of you.”

“Well, Loammi,” said his father, with unwonted good humor, “I think I
will let you go. But you must be ready at six o’clock this evening.”

“I’ll be ready, pa, never fear.”

Loammi and his father arrived late in the evening at Niagara, and put up
at the International Hotel. Had they looked back in the book of arrivals
they would have seen the name of Scott Walton, but they failed to do so.

As they sped over the Central Railroad, Loammi was in high spirits. It
was his first long journey and he felt somehow that it would increase
his consequence. He was prepared to make much of it on his return, and
he felt that his friends and schoolfellows would be impressed.

The International Hotel seemed to him quite grand, and as he had never
been a guest at a hotel before, he quite enjoyed his new way of living.

“Isn’t it fine, pa?” he said, as they walked through the office.

“It is fine enough,” responded his father, practically, “but it costs
money, Loammi; I expect they’ll be charging me four or five dollars a
day.”

“Oh, well, pa, you can afford it.”

“That may be, but I am afraid it is money thrown away to pay your
expenses on such a trip. It would have been better to pay you ten
dollars, and let you stay at home.”

“I wouldn’t have been willing to do it, pa. Wouldn’t Scott like to be
traveling as we are doing?”

“I presume he would. You haven’t heard anything of him, have you?”

“No.”

“He can’t be in New York, I should say.”

“He’s probably tramping about somewhere,” said Loammi, rather
contemptuously.

“I think the boy has some business talent,” his father remarked, who was
not so much prejudiced as his son.

“Oh, I suppose he’d pass, but he couldn’t hold a place. He had to leave
you and now he’s left Tower, Douglas & Co.”

“Do you know why he left them?”

“One of the clerks told me he was too fresh.”

This was not quite correct, as it was Loammi who had designated his
cousin in that way.

While they were waiting for breakfast, a traveling acquaintance from
Boston, a Mr. Norwood, greeted them.

“Do you know,” he said, “there’s an English earl staying in this hotel?”

“Is there? Who is it?” asked Ezra Little, for he had a reverence for
rank.

“It is the Earl of Windermere.”

“Yes, I know of the title. Have you seen him?”

“No, but I saw his name on the register.”

“I hope we shall meet him, pa,” said Loammi. “It would be quite a
feather in our cap if we could get introduced to him.”

“I should like that myself, Loammi. Do you know if he is a young man, or
an old one, Mr. Norwood?”

“He is a young man, under thirty.”

“We will look for him at breakfast.”

When they took their seats at the table, Mr. Little said to the waiter:
“I hear there’s an earl staying at the hotel?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Could you point him out to us?”

The waiter looked across the room.

“He generally sits at that table, sir, but he has not come in yet.”

“Is any one of his family with him?”

“I don’t rightly know. There’s a boy goes round with him a good
deal–about the age of this young gentleman.”

“I will try to get acquainted with him, pa,” said Loammi. “I guess
that’ll be the easiest way to get in with the earl.”

The breakfast proceeded and was nearly over for Loammi and his father,
when the waiter came up.

“There’s the earl just coming in, sir,” he said, “and the boy with him.”

Both father and son looked toward the earl with eager curiosity. They
did not at first take special notice of the boy. When they did, Loammi
grasped his father’s arm in excitement.

“The boy looks just like Scott,” he said.

“It is Scott,” pronounced his father, looking through his eyeglasses.

“Nonsense, pa, it can’t be!” said Loammi. “It’s ridiculous to think of
Scott being in company with an earl.”

“Ridiculous or not, it is a fact.”

“Perhaps they are not together,” said Loammi, who did not like to
believe that his humble cousin was in such aristocratic company. “Is
that the boy that usually goes around with the earl?” he asked, turning
to the waiter.

“Yes, sir, it’s the very identical boy,” answered the waiter.

“I never heard of such a thing,” gasped Loammi. “That boy’s cheek seems
too great for anything. But perhaps he is the earl’s valet, though I
don’t know how he could have got the position.”

“I don’t know but he’s the earl’s brother,” said the waiter. “Anyhow,
they’re pretty thick. They went out riding together yesterday
afternoon.”

“He isn’t the earl’s brother,” said Loammi, emphatically. “He’s a–a
relative of ours.”

“Lor’ now, you don’t mean it! Didn’t you know he was traveling with the
earl?”

“No,” answered Loammi; “I haven’t seen much of him lately.”

“The earl seems to think everything of him. They’re always together.”

“I never was so astonished in my life, pa,” said Loammi, when the waiter
had left them.

“It does seem singular.”

“I’ll get Scott to introduce me.”

“I thought you didn’t care to take any more notice of him.”

“No more I did, but as he’s intimate with an earl that makes a
difference.”

Mr. Little and his son lingered at the table till they saw the earl and
his young companion rise. Then they followed them out.

Scott had not noticed the presence of Loammi and his father, but it was
soon made evident to him.

As he was walking with the earl, suddenly he felt a tap on his arm, and
looking round espied Loammi.

“Loammi!” he exclaimed, in surprise.

“Yes, I am here with pa. I was surprised to find you here.”

Scott smiled.

“I have been traveling for some weeks,” he said.

“Here’s pa.”

“How do you do, Scott? I hope you are well,” said Ezra Little,
graciously.

“Very well, thank you.”

The earl, noticing that Scott had met acquaintances, walked slowly on.

“Won’t you introduce us to your friend, Scott?” asked Loammi, eagerly.

“If he is willing,” Scott said.

He went up to the earl and acquainted him with his cousin’s request.

“Are they friends of yours, Scott?”

“I can’t say they are friends, but they are my cousins. I have told you
of them. They are my cousin, Loammi Little, and his father.”

“Do you think they know who I am?”

“Yes. It is probably your title that makes them desirous of an
introduction.”

“Very well.”

In answer to a look, Loammi and his father approached.

“My lord,” said Scott, formally, “let me present to you Mr. Ezra Little
and his son, Loammi. They are relatives of mine.”

“I am glad to meet any relative of my young friend, Mr. Walton,” said
the earl, with dignity.

“My lord earl,” said Mr. Little, with a profound bow, “I am indeed
honored in making your acquaintance.”

“And I, too,” murmured Loammi.

“I am an Englishman, like yourself, my lord.”

“And so, I believe, is my young friend, Scott,” said the nobleman.

“Yes,” said Scott, “but I have nearly forgotten it. I intend to be an
American citizen.”

“I shall never forget that I am an Englishman,” observed Ezra Little.

“Gentlemen,” said the earl, “will you excuse me? I have a letter to
write.”

“Certainly, my lord.”

“I will meet you in half an hour, Scott,” said the earl, familiarly.
“You will find me in the reading room.”

“How on earth did you get so thick with the earl, Scott?” asked Loammi.

“He seemed to take a fancy to me.”

“Are you with him a good deal?”

“Yes.”

“How can you afford to stay at this expensive hotel?” asked Ezra Little.

“I am traveling on business.”

“For what house?”

“Please excuse my mentioning just yet.”

“How long are you going to stay here?”

“I expected to leave this morning, but I have a letter from my employers
with instructions that will detain me here a day or two longer. But how
do you and Loammi happen to be here?”

“I have business in Buffalo.”

Scott smiled.

“So have I,” he said.

“I intend to make large purchases from the assignees of Frost, Burks &
Co.”

“I shall probably meet you both this evening.”

As Scott walked away, Loammi said, enviously: “Did you notice how well
Scott was dressed?”

“I didn’t notice.”

“He doesn’t look much like the poor relation we took in some months ago.
But it won’t last.”

Continue Reading

ON WATCH

There was nothing especially noticeable about the chamber into which
Scott and the earl were ushered. It was a corner apartment, and had two
windows on different sides of the room.

There was a double bed, a washstand, a small table, and two chairs,
besides a plain pine bureau. There was no carpet on the floor, but
beside the bed was a cheap rug.

“Will this do you?” asked the woman, as she set the candle on the table.

“Yes,” answered the earl, after a comprehensive glance around the room.

“We don’t keep a hotel. If we did—-”

“My good lady, make no apologies. We are obliged to you for taking us
in.”

“I hope you’ll sleep well,” said the woman, with her hand on the latch.

“We generally do,” replied the earl.

“Ah!” she said, and there seemed something significant in her tone.

She opened the door and went downstairs, leaving the two travelers
alone.

“This isn’t very luxurious, Mr. Grant,” remarked Scott.

“No.”

“I suppose you are used to a luxurious house?”

“When I am at home–yes; but I have knocked about the world so much that
I can stand a little discomfort. How is the bed?”

He felt of the mattress, and found that it was of straw. Had there been
a feather bed over it there would have been greater comfort.

“Only a straw bed,” he said. “This is, certainly, Spartan simplicity. I
don’t think Red Ralph would be a success as an innkeeper.”

“I think I can sleep, Mr. Grant,” rejoined Scott. “I feel quite tired.”

“Is there a lock on the door?”

Scott went forward to examine.

“Yes,” he reported, “there is a lock, but no key.”

“Is there a bolt?”

“No.”

“I wonder,” said the earl, very thoughtfully, “whether the key has been
lost or intentionally removed?”

“We might ask for a key.”

“No. That would make it evident that we were distrustful. Besides, it
may be that the people below are not aware that there is no means of
locking them out. On the whole, we will not call attention to our
defenseless condition.”

While they were talking, a step was heard on the stairs–a heavy step,
too heavy for the woman. Then came a knock at the door.

Scott opened it.

There stood Red Ralph, holding in his hand a pitcher and glass.

“I have brought you a nightcap,” he said. “I had my wife mix some whisky
and water. It is good for the stomach. I drink some every night before I
go to bed.”

“Thank you,” returned the earl, politely. “You are very considerate.”

He took the pitcher and set it down on the table. Red Ralph lingered a
moment, and his eyes wandered about the apartment.

There was nothing to see, however, as the travelers had brought no
luggage with them, not expecting to be detained overnight.

“I hope that you will be comfortable,” he said, cordially.

“Thank you.”

“Do you sleep sound?”

“Generally. Do you?”

“Oh, I never wake from the time I strike the bed. At what hour shall I
wake you?”

“At seven.”

“Good! I will tell the wife to have breakfast at half-past seven.”

“By the way, may I trouble you to look after my horse? I meant to go out
to the barn before I retired.”

“I will look after him. I am used to horses. I am a horse trader.”

“Thank you. Good-night.”

“Good-night.”

“Our friend is unusually attentive,” said the earl, with a glance at the
pitcher.

“Yes; perhaps we have misjudged him.”

“Perhaps, but I am not sure. Scott, will you hold the candle?”

He took the pitcher and peered into it attentively, rather to Scott’s
surprise. Then he poured out a small quantity, and tasted it.

“I hope you will excuse me from drinking, Mr. Grant,” said Scott. “I
promised my father I would never drink whisky.”

“Even if you did indulge, I should not advise you to drink any of
this.”

“Why not? Is it of poor quality?”

“I am quite confident that it is drugged. It has a peculiar taste, and I
detect minute particles of some foreign substance which has been mixed
with it.”

“Poison?” asked Scott, looking startled.

“Not so bad as that. It is only a sleeping potion. Our friend had an
object in asking if we slept soundly. He means that we shall.”

“Are you quite sure the whisky has been tampered with, Mr. Grant?”

“I am reasonably sure of it.”

“Then of course we won’t drink it.”

“Certainly not, but we will appear to have done so. Open the window.”

The earl poured out a glass of the whisky and emptied it out of the
window. He filled the glass a second time, and again emptied it.

“That is better than to have swallowed it,” he said. “I will leave a
small portion in the pitcher to disarm suspicion.”

“What do you think Red Ralph intends to do?” asked Scott, in a low tone.

“I think he intends to make us a visit during the night. As there is no
way of locking the door, that will be very easily managed. Had we drunk
the whisky, we should have slept so profoundly that Ralph could have
ransacked the room without interference.

“Have you a pistol, Mr. Grant?”

“Yes, but I might as well be without one. I have no means of loading
it.”

“What, then, do you propose to do?”

“That is not easy to decide.”

“Can we secure the door in any way?”

“I can think of no way.”

“We might put the bureau against it.”

“Yes; I will consider whether that is best. It interposes only a
temporary obstacle. Then Ralph and his companion may be armed, while we
are not. The two would be more than a match for us.”

“I suppose they would be satisfied if you would give up your money.”

“Probably, but though the loss of the money would not seriously
embarrass me–it is only five hundred dollars–I decidedly object to
being robbed of it. By the way, have you a newspaper with you?”

“Yes, Mr. Grant. Here it is.”

The earl took the paper, and carefully tore it into strips about the
size of a bank bill. Then he removed the bank bills from his wallet, put
them in an inside pocket in his vest, and replaced them with strips of
newspaper.

“It is a good plan to oppose roguery with artifice,” he said. “Possibly
this will help to circumvent the enemy.”

Scarcely had he done this when Ralph’s step was heard on the staircase,
and a moment afterward there was a knock at the door.

“Open it, Scott.”

There stood Ralph, smiling craftily.

“Have you drunk the whisky, gentlemen?” he asked. “Would you like to
have me fill the pitcher again?”

“We shall not need any more, thank you,” said the earl. “Perhaps you
will kindly take the pitcher?”

Ralph looked into the pitcher, and his face indicated satisfaction. From
the little that remained he felt assured that both his guests had drunk
liberally.

“I hope you liked it,” he said.

“You were very kind to think of us,” rejoined the earl, avoiding a reply
to his question.

“Won’t you let me fill the pitcher?”

“No, we shall not need any more. I think you said it would make us sleep
sound?”

“It has that effect upon me.”

“I think you are right. I can hardly keep my eyes open,” and the earl
yawned ostentatiously.

“I feel the same way,” added Scott.

Red Ralph smiled.

“Yes,” he said, “I am sure you will have a good night’s sleep. I will
remember to call you at seven. I won’t stay any longer, for you must
wish to retire.”

“Good-night, then.”

“Now,” said the earl, when the coast was clear, “we must decide what to
do.”

“Shall we go to bed?”

“We will lie on the bed, but it will be better not to undress. We must
be prepared for any contingency.”

“Shall I move the bureau against the door?”

“No. We will try to keep awake for an hour. My opinion is that our
friend will make us a visit within that time.”

Though the two travelers had not removed their clothes, they covered
themselves up with the quilt, in order to deceive anyone entering the
room. Then they lay and waited.

It was perhaps ten minutes less than the hour when they heard the door
softly opened. In the half light they saw Red Ralph enter. He had
removed his shoes, and was walking in his stocking feet.

The earl had hung his coat from a nail just behind the door.

Ralph saw it, and at once began to search the pockets. He only glanced
carelessly at the bed, for he felt sure that the potion had done its
work, and that both his guests were asleep.

In the side pocket he found the wallet. He uttered an ejaculation of
satisfaction, and quickly transferred it to his own pocket.

He could not very well examine it in the darkness. But he could tell
from the feeling that it was well filled, and naturally concluded that
the contents represented a large sum of money.

Having got what he wanted, he withdrew as quietly as he came, carefully
shutting the door behind him.

When he had gone, Scott broke the silence.

“What will he do when he discovers that the wallet is stuffed with waste
paper?”

“Probably he will be angry, and feel that he has been defrauded.”

Scott laughed.

“Do you think he will make us another visit?”

“If he does, and complains of the deception, it will involve a
confession that he is a thief. I confess I don’t know what to
anticipate.”

Ten minutes later a slow step was heard ascending the staircase.

Scott and the earl listened in excitement. They could not forecast the
next act in the drama.

The steps paused before the door, but the door was not opened. In place
of this they heard a key turn in the lock outside. It was clear that
they were locked in.

“Ralph does not mean that we should escape,” said the earl.

“What shall we do?”

“I shall go to sleep. I think we are secure from any other visit.
Hostilities are probably deferred till morning. What will be done then I
am quite at a loss to understand, but when that time comes we can decide
what to do.”

When Red Ralph went downstairs after purloining the wallet, it was with
a feeling of satisfaction at the apparent success of his dishonest
scheme.

Below, his wife and his accomplice still sat before the fire.

“Well, Ralph?” said the latter, with an eager look of interrogation.

“I have got it,” chuckled Ralph.

“I don’t like such doings,” said his wife, wearily. “Heaven will never
prosper dishonesty.”

“Shut up, Sarah,” commanded Ralph, harshly. “I can’t stand a sniveling
woman. What I have done is my business, not yours.”

“I wish they had never come. I ought to have sent them away.”

“You did just right. You invited them in, and delivered them into my
hands.”

“Open the wallet!” said the dark man, impatiently.

Ralph seated himself in the chair which he had vacated before he went
upstairs, and, with a smile, opened the wallet.

But the smile quickly faded from his face, and it grew dark with anger,
as the contents were disclosed.

“Confusion!” he muttered. “Look at this!” and he threw the paper into
the fire.

“What does it mean?” asked his accomplice, bewildered.

“It means that we have been fooled–tricked! They have filled the wallet
with this trash, in order to deceive us.”

“But are you sure that they had any money?”

“Sure? Why, I saw it with my own eyes. Didn’t you, Sarah? Didn’t the man
pull out a thick roll of bills when he paid the five dollars he agreed
upon?”

“Yes,” answered the woman, reluctantly.

“There was no mistake about that. The money was real, fast enough. There
must have been two or three hundred dollars.”

“Where could he have put it, then?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why should he play such a trick upon you?”

“He evidently suspected something.”

“How could he suspect a man with your honest face?”

“Be careful, Conrad! I don’t allow any man to insult me,” said Ralph,
with lowering brow.

“Don’t get mad, Ralph; I was only joking. What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know.”

“The money must be somewhere in the chamber,” said Conrad, suggestively.

“Probably it is, but it is concealed. I can’t get at it without waking
them up.”

“If they drank the doctored whisky, it would be safe enough.”

“I don’t know whether they did drink it or not. They pretended to, but
if they suspected me, they may have emptied it out of the window.”

“Then you won’t do anything?” asked Conrad, in evident disappointment.

“I will lock them in. I will see, at any rate, that they don’t escape
from the room. In the morning I will consider what is best to be done.”

The woman breathed a sigh of relief. She was honest at heart, and felt
no sympathy with her outlaw husband.

It was perhaps by way of consoling themselves for their disappointment
that the two men resumed their drinking, and drank heavily.

“Go and get some more whisky, Sarah,” said Ralph, for the pitcher was
about empty.

The woman did so, but an idea had occurred to her. She was resolved to
prevent the robbery of her guests, and to afford them a chance to
escape.

She turned the tables upon her husband, and dropped into the whisky some
of the same sleeping potion which had been intended for the two
travelers.

Red Ralph and his accomplice were too much affected already to notice
any peculiar taste in the whisky. They drank deep, getting more and more
drowsy, until at last Ralph slipped from his chair to the floor, where
he lay without sense or motion.

“Good-night, old fellow!” hiccoughed Conrad. “I’m with you,” and he was
soon lying beside his friend.

Sarah looked at the twain half remorsefully.

“Ought I to have done it?” she asked herself. “But there was no other
way. I have perhaps saved my husband from prison, for the theft would
surely have been found out. The man looked strong and resolute, and
would not have allowed himself to be robbed without seeking to punish
the robber.”

She left the two men lying upon the floor, and sought her own bed.

“They won’t wake till late,” she reflected, “and I can let the travelers
lie till morning. I won’t deprive them of their night’s rest.”

She went upstairs and saw the key in the lock. “I guess I will leave it
there,” she said, “till morning.”

About five o’clock–her usual time for rising–she dressed and went
upstairs. She unlocked the door, and knocked loudly upon it.

“Who is it?” asked Scott, jumping out of bed.

“It is I,” answered Sarah.

Scott was agreeably surprised, for he had feared it might be Ralph.

“The door is locked,” he said.

“You can open it.”

He did so, and saw the nervous, half-frightened look of his hostess.

“You must get up at once,” she said, “you and your friend. It is not
safe to remain here.”

“I had found that out. But won’t your husband interfere with us?”

“He is sound asleep, and won’t wake for hours. But you had better get
up now, and avoid difficulty.”

“Wait a minute, till I wake my friend.”

But the earl was already awake. He quickly grasped the situation.

“Are you not exposing yourself to danger on our account?” he asked,
earnestly, of the woman.

“No, I shall know how to manage, but go now. It is morning, and the
sooner you get away the better.”

“Can we get into the barn, and take our horse?”

“Yes, there will be no difficulty. Make as little noise as possible
coming downstairs. My husband might awake.”

“Madam,” said the earl, “we are much indebted to you. Take this as an
acknowledgment,” and he tendered her a ten-dollar bill.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Should my husband discover that I had
money he would suspect that I had let you out. Then I should be in
danger.”

“Then we can only thank you.”

They were already dressed, and followed the woman downstairs. They saw
Ralph and his friend lying like logs on the floor, and suspected why
they slept so soundly. Both were snoring loudly.

With a sensation of disgust they left the house, and led the horse out
of the barn. He seemed to be much better of his lameness, so that he was
able to travel, though slowly. They reached Niagara in time for
breakfast.

Continue Reading

RED RALPH

Scott intended to start on his homeward journey the next morning, but an
hour before he was to leave he received a telegram to the following
effect:

“Wait for letter. TOWER.”

Scott understood at once that the letter would contain instructions from
the firm, and therefore informed the earl that he would remain a day
longer.

“That will suit me admirably,” said the earl. “If you are at leisure, we
will take a long drive.”

“I shall have nothing to do till I receive my letter,” answered Scott.

“Then you can join me?”

“I shall be glad to do so.”

It turned out that the earl wished to ride across the country to a point
some twenty miles distant. What the attraction was it is not necessary
here to state. Probably the trip was undertaken chiefly for the drive.

At the end of twenty miles a village was reached, which contained a
passable hotel. Here the two tourists dined, and did not leave on their
return till about six o’clock.

“We shall be rather late,” said the earl. “Still, our horse is a good
one, and we ought to reach the hotel in two hours, or little more.”

“That won’t be very late.”

“Then we can stop on the way somewhere.”

When the travelers had proceeded half a dozen miles on their way, the
horse suddenly showed signs of lameness. What had occasioned it neither
could tell, but as he appeared to be in pain, it was decided, upon
consultation, to stop at the next house and make arrangements to pass
the night. It would be easy to start again on the following morning with
the horse they had, or, if necessary, a substitute. Neither felt in
haste, and the time lost would not be serious.

The next house proved to be situated on the edge of the woods. It
occupied a lonely location, and seemed in rather a dilapidated state.
Everything about it bore an aspect of neglect.

Scott jumped from the carriage, and went to the door.

It was opened, after he had knocked two or three times, by a careworn
woman of middle age. Her face was lined, and she wore a look of
depression and discouragement.

“What’s your will?” she asked.

“Our horse has fallen lame, and we would like to stop here overnight,
and let the horse rest. I see you have a barn.”

“I don’t know,” said the woman, slowly. “We don’t keep a hotel.”

“I am quite aware of that, and we must apologize for intruding. We shall
give you some trouble, but we are willing to pay for it. If five dollars
will compensate you we will be glad to pay that sum for supper, lodging
and breakfast for ourselves, and accommodation for our horse.”

The woman seemed surprised by the liberality of the offer. In such a
household five dollars was a good deal of money.

“You can come in,” she said, “and I will get you some supper. My man
will soon be home, and if he is willing you can stay all night.”

“I hope he will soon be back, as we would like to know what to depend
upon.”

“He’ll be here in an hour, likely.”

“May we put the horse in the barn?”

“Yes, if you can do it yourself. There ain’t no men folks ’round.”

“Oh, yes, we will attend to it.”

“I’ll go right to work getting supper. I’ve got some eggs and bacon in
the house, if that will do you.”

“That will do very well, I think. You can give us some tea, too, I
presume?”

“Yes, or you can have some whisky. My man always wants some.”

“Thank you, but I think we should prefer tea.”

“That’s just as you like. I have tea for myself. My man won’t drink it.
He says it’s only fit for women.”

“Consider us women, then,” said Scott, laughing. “I will go and tell my
friend that you will receive us.”

“If my man agrees.”

“That is understood.”

“What is your friend’s name?”

“Mr. Grant,” answered Scott, knowing that the earl would not care to
have his rank known in such a place. It might have led to extravagant
terms for the accommodation rendered, and Scott considered that he had
already offered liberal compensation.

He communicated to the earl the result of his mission.

“Do you think we shall get decent fare?” the earl inquired.

“I think so, but we may have to rough it a little. It won’t be equal to
our hotel.”

“Oh, well, it will be an adventure. I have roughed it before.”

“I thought earls always fared luxuriously,” said Scott, smiling.

“Earls, as well as other men, are subject to circumstances, and can
rough it, if necessary. Some time I will tell you how I fared in Italy
last winter. I confess that my appetite has been sharpened, and I am
exceedingly hungry.”

“So am I. We are to have bacon and eggs. I hope you have no prejudice
against such a dish.”

“No, it is a favorite with me. My only apprehension is, that they won’t
have enough to satisfy me.”

In the barn the visitors found stalls for two horses, both of them
unoccupied. They unharnessed their horse, or rather Scott did, for the
earl, who had always had this work done for him, seemed awkward and
inexperienced.

“I am sorry to put all the work upon you, Scott,” he said.

“Never mind. It is no trouble.”

“I suppose I ought to be ashamed of my awkwardness.”

“I can easily understand that you never had to do it. In England, father
for a time kept a horse, and I had the care of him.”

When the horse was safely stalled, Scott and the earl came out into the
yard.

“Shall we go into the house?” asked Scott.

“No, we might be in the way. Here is a fence rail. We can sit upon
that.”

“You are making yourself very democratic,” Scott said.

“Why should I not be?”

“Our new acquaintance, Mr. Alderman Burton, would be surprised to see
you sitting on a fence rail.”

“I shouldn’t do it before him. I should keep up my dignity, or he might
be shocked.”

“What do you think he asked me last evening, when you were out of the
room?”

“What was it?”

“He asked me if you ever dined with the queen?”

“What did you answer?”

“Only when you were invited.”

“Quite correct. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever was honored
by such an invitation, or, as we consider it, a command.”

“He also asked me to inquire of you whether the queen wore her crown at
the dinner table.”

“Poor old lady; I should pity her if she were obliged to do so.”

Half an hour later the woman came to the door, and looking toward them,
called out: “Supper’s ready.”

“And so am I,” said the earl, in a low voice. “I hope our hostess has
made a liberal provision for us.”

On entering the kitchen, where the table was spread, they found she had
done so. A dozen eggs, flanked by several slices of bacon, were on a
dish in the center, and there was an ample supply of butter and corn
bread.

An expression of profound satisfaction lit up the faces of the two
travelers.

“Thank you, madam, for kindly complying with our request. We appreciate
it more because we know you do not keep a hotel.”

“I hope you’ll like it,” replied the woman. “I misremember what the boy
said your name was.”

“Mr. Grant,” said Scott.

“Is he your brother?”

“No; my name is Walton.”

“Be you in any business, Mr. Grant?” asked the woman, who began to show
curiosity.

“No, madam, not at present. I am an Englishman. Possibly my friend and I
might buy out a store in Buffalo.”

Scott could scarcely forbear smiling. It seemed a great joke to him to
think of going into a business partnership with an earl.

They ate supper with evident enjoyment. They had about concluded it,
when a heavy step was heard outside.

“That is my man,” said the woman, nervously.

Scott and the earl looked up with curiosity to see him enter.

The man who entered was of medium height, thickset, and his hair and
beard were red. His face was far from prepossessing.

He looked at the visitors, and then at his wife inquiringly.

“So you have company?” he said.

“Yes, Ralph,” answered the woman, rather nervously. “I told them we
didn’t keep a hotel, but they offered me five dollars to take care of
them and the horse till morning.”

The man’s face lost its scowl. The sum offered made an impression.

“You did right,” he said. “I am willing to accommodate. Where’s the
horse?”

“We put him in the barn.”

“All right. And where may you be from?” he asked, addressing the earl.

“I am an Englishman.”

“Are you in any business?”

“Not at present.”

“But you have money?”

This remark was accompanied by a look of keen curiosity.

“I have some,” answered the earl, cautiously.

“He is going to buy out a store in Buffalo,” put in the woman.

“What sort of a store?”

“I haven’t decided yet,” replied the earl, who did not choose to take
the man into his confidence.

“It takes a power of money to buy a store.”

“It depends on the nature of the business, I should think.”

“About how much do you mean to invest?”

“Really, the fellow is getting impertinent,” thought his guest.

“I don’t think I can answer that question,” he answered.

Their host took from a shelf a dirty clay pipe, filled it with tobacco,
and began to smoke. The fumes were far from pleasant, and the earl,
rising from his chair, signaled to Scott to go outside with him.

“Where are you going?” asked the red-haired man.

“We are going to take a walk.”

“Has he paid you the five dollars?” asked the man, addressing his wife.

“No.”

“Then you may as well hand it over,” said the host.

“Certainly, if you wish it now.”

“That is safest. You might take your horse and give us the slip. Then
we’d be so much out.”

“What do you take us for?” demanded the earl, indignantly.

“I don’t know anything about you. You may be gentlemen, or—-”

“This will settle the question,” and the earl took out his wallet, and
from a thick roll of bills picked out a five-dollar note, and handed it
to the woman.

“Give it here to me, Sarah,” said her husband, sharply. “I take charge
of the money.”

With meek obedience she passed the bill to him.

He scrutinized it closely, but the result of his inspection seemed to be
favorable, and he put it away in his vest pocket.

Scott noticed that he had regarded the roll of bills with a covetous
glance, and he felt that the earl had been imprudent in making such a
display of his money.

“It’s all right,” their host said, slowly. “You’re an honest man. You
pay your bills.”

The earl smiled, and opening the outer door, went out, followed by
Scott.

“What do you think of our host, Scott?” he asked.

“I distrust him, Mr. Grant. I am sorry you showed him that roll of
bills.”

“It may have been imprudent, but I don’t think there is any danger of
his attempting to rob me.”

“He was curious to learn your business. I wonder what his is.”

“To-morrow we shall leave the house, and we are never likely to meet him
again,” said the earl, indifferently. “So it is hardly worth thinking
about.”

They strolled along in a leisurely way, and sat down under a tree, about
a mile distant from their home. Under the same tree reclined a young man
who looked like a farmer or a farmer’s assistant.

“Good-evening,” said the earl, courteously.

“Good-evening, sir.”

“Do you live hereabouts?”

“Yes, I am working for my uncle, who owns a farm not far from here. You
are a stranger, are you not?”

“Yes, my friend and myself are staying at Niagara. We were taking a
long drive, but the horse went lame, and we engaged lodgings for the
night about a mile from here.”

“At what house?” asked the young man.

“I will tell you, and you can perhaps tell me something of the man who
occupies it.”

The young man listened to the description, and when it was finished
shrugged his shoulders.

“I shouldn’t care to be in your place,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Red Ralph doesn’t have a very good reputation,” he explained.

“Is that what he is called?”

“Yes. You noticed his profusion of red hair. His real name is Moody, I
believe, but everybody calls him Red Ralph.”

“How long has he lived in this neighborhood?”

“About three years.”

“What is his business, or, rather, how does he make his living?”

“That is hard to tell. I believe he trades in horses to some extent.”

“Is nothing known of his history before he came here?”

“It is reported that he has been in jail. A man who saw him there said
that he was quite confident he had seen him in a visit to Joliet
prison.”

“Is his life reputable? Has he ever been in any trouble since he came
here?”

“Nothing has been proved against him, but more than one rough-looking
man has been seen in his house.”

“Decidedly, Scott,” said the earl, “we have not been fortunate in our
selection of a lodging house. However, it is only for one night.”

“Have you much money with you?” asked their new acquaintance.

“A tolerably large sum,” answered the earl.

“Then, I advise you to bolt your door when you retire.”

“I shall do so. Without knowing anything of our worthy host, I had
formed an unfavorable opinion of him before I spoke with you.”

“He will bear watching,” said the young man, briefly.

“What could have been his object in establishing himself here? If he is
a rogue, I don’t see what opportunities he has of practicing
dishonesty.”

“Bear in mind that this house is not many miles from the border. If he
committed a robbery in the States, he could easily take refuge in his
Canadian home, where he would be safe from arrest.”

“There is something in that.”

“If you don’t care to remain in his house overnight, I think I could
insure you a welcome from my uncle, who lives not far away.”

“Thank you, but it would be awkward to make a change at this late hour.
Besides, what explanation could we give?”

“Still, if you distrust him—-”

“There is another consideration. We have paid in advance,” suggested
Scott.

“I should not mind forfeiting five dollars,” said the earl. “There is
one thing I should mind more.”

“What is that?”

“To leave now would be a confession of cowardice. We ought–the two of
us–to be a match for Red Ralph.”

“I will do my share,” said Scott, smiling.

“Yes, you look like a brave boy.” Then, turning to the young man, “I
thank you for your kind offer, but I think we will stay with Red Ralph
for this one night.”

Already it was getting dark, and the air was chill.

“Let us go back, Scott,” said the earl. “It is not very late, but I
feel sleepy, and I think I shall retire early.”

“Very well, sir.”

It was not quite nine o’clock when they entered the farmhouse. There was
a fire of logs in the fireplace, and before it, with his legs stretched
out, sat Red Ralph. But he was not alone.

A man of dark complexion sat opposite him. He was tall and swarthy, and,
though differing in appearance seemed a fitting companion for Red Ralph.
Both had pipes in their mouths, and the room was pervaded by the fumes
of bad tobacco.

“Well, stranger, you took a long walk,” said Red Ralph, turning in his
chair.

“We sat down under a tree to rest,” responded the earl. “Can we have a
candle?”

The woman got up from her chair at the back of the room and lighted one.

“Come with me,” she said, “and I will show you your chamber.”

Continue Reading

AT NIAGARA FALLS

On the Monday succeeding, Scott started on his trip with a supply of
samples and full instructions. His route extended as far as Cleveland,
including Albany and the principal towns in New York State, besides some
in Ohio.

He traveled slowly, having been told to make a thorough canvass of the
places he visited.

He was everywhere well received. His bright, pleasant manner made
friends, and though sometimes his youth proved at first an obstacle, in
a short time he won the confidence of customers. It became clear that he
understood his business.

“You are rather young to represent such a large firm as Tower, Douglas &
Co,” said a careful Scotch merchant in Syracuse.

“I think so myself,” answered Scott, good-humoredly.

“Have they any other drummers as young?”

“I don’t think so. In fact, I know they have not.”

“How did they come to make an exception in your case?”

“I don’t know, unless it was out of kindness.”

“Then you don’t think it was because you were extra smart?” asked the
merchant, pointedly.

“Time will show whether I am or not,” said Scott, smiling.

“Well, I will ask you a few questions, and then I can judge for myself.”

Scott answered these questions freely and intelligently. He seemed to
understand the different qualities of the goods he carried, and would
not allow himself to make any claims for them that could not be
substantiated. As a result, Mr. Cameron bought a large order.

“I begin to understand why you were selected,” he said.

“I hope you think the firm was justified.”

“I do. You understand your business, and you make no
misrepresentations.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“If ever you leave your present place I will give you a position.”

“Thank you still more. I will remember it.”

At Elmira, Scott received the following in a letter from Mr. Douglas,
the junior partner: “You are doing finely. You are beating the record.”

This pleased Scott. He did not know whether he had done as well as was
anticipated, but this reassured him.

Two days after Scott started on his mission, Loammi entered the store on
a visit instigated by curiosity. It was partly also at the suggestion of
his father, who thought through Scott’s influence he might redeem his
error and obtain an interest in the invention, which he believed would
be very profitable.

Entering the store, Loammi looked about him, and finally spoke to a
young man near the door.

“Is a boy named Scott Walton employed here?” he asked.

The clerk addressed was a friend of Scott, and guessed who it was that
was inquiring about him. He was tempted to play a joke on Loammi.

“There was a clerk here by that name,” he answered, slowly.

“Isn’t he here now?”

“He left us two or three days since.

“Has he got another place?”

“I don’t think so.”

Loammi brightened up. It seemed too good news to be true. His despised
cousin had been discharged.

Loammi could not have heard anything that would have pleased him more.

“Do you know why he was discharged?” he asked, eagerly.

“No, I don’t,” answered the other, with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you
know him?”

“Yes; he is a distant relation of mine.”

“Then perhaps you can judge better than I why he did not give
satisfaction.”

“I am not at all surprised. He was too fresh. That was the matter with
him.”

“Dear me! How unfortunate!”

“Yes; he’ll never stay long anywhere. Pa had him in his store for a
while–Ezra Little’s store, Eighth Avenue–but he was obliged to send
him away.”

“And are you Mr. Little’s son?” asked the young clerk, with mock
deference.

“Yes; I am his only son,” answered Loammi, loftily.

“Dear me! I am proud to know you. And I suppose you will some time own
the store?” continued the clerk, inquiringly.

“Probably, though I am not sure but I may become a lawyer. Do you know
where Walton lives?”

“No. There are so many in the store that I know the residences of very
few.”

Loammi took his departure in a very complacent frame of mind. He had
always been jealous of Scott, and the intelligence that he had lost his
place was very agreeable to him.

It so happened that on Broadway he met Seth Lawton, whom he had not seen
for a good while. Under ordinary circumstances he would have taken no
notice of him, but now he had an object in speaking to him.

“Good-morning, Mr. Lawton,” he said, condescendingly.

“Oh, good-morning, Loammi,” rejoined the old man, who was short-sighted,
when he realized who it was that had addressed him.

“Where do you think I have been?”

“I am sure I cannot tell.”

“I have been to the store of Tower, Douglas & Co., to call upon Scott.”

“Indeed! That was very kind of you.”

“And you can imagine my surprise to find that he had been discharged.”

“Is it possible?” ejaculated Seth, who at once guessed how Loammi had
been misled.

“Yes.”

“That is a great pity. Perhaps your father will take him back into the
store.”

“I don’t think he will. If he don’t do for Tower, Douglas & Co., he
won’t do for pa.”

“But the poor boy must live.”

“Oh, well,” said Loammi, carelessly, “he can get a chance to sell papers
or–black boots.”

“Surely your father would not allow his young cousin to sink to that
employment.”

“Pa wouldn’t interfere. I have heard him say that he has washed his
hands of Scott. If he had behaved himself it would have been different.”

“Poor boy! I must see what I can do for him.”

“You’d better not, Cousin Seth. You are a poor man, and it will be all
you can do to look after yourself.”

“Still, Loammi, consider Scott’s position.”

“He must look out for himself. I advise you not to call round and ask pa
to take him back.”

“I must think what I can do for him.”

“The old man feels pretty bad,” thought Loammi. “Well, they are a good
match. For my part I don’t think much of poor relations.”

Loammi hurried home to impart the welcome news to his father.

“What do you think, pa?” he burst out. “Scott’s lost his position.”

“Is this true, Loammi?” asked his father, in some surprise.

“Yes, pa; I went to the store this morning, and one of the clerks told
me.”

“Do you know what was the matter?”

“Oh, I suppose he was too fresh. Now, I suppose, he will be trying to
come back to you.”

“I might agree to take him if he would come back on the old terms.”

“You don’t mean it, pa! After he has lost his place, too!”

“Oh, well, I could look after him. He would be worth his board.”

“One thing, he couldn’t put on any airs after his disgrace. By the way,
I met Mr. Lawton on Broadway.”

“Cousin Seth?”

“Yes.”

“Did he have anything to say about Scott’s discharge?”

“He didn’t appear to know anything about it till I told him.”

“Do you know where Scott boards?”

“No.”

“Oh, well, he will probably be coming around to see me after a while. I
should like to have him, as I want to get at that inventor through him.”

“Do you think there’s money in it, pa?”

“As I should manage it there might be,” said his father, cautiously.

Mr. Little looked for Scott from day to day, but three weeks passed and
he heard nothing from him.

On his way back from Cleveland, Scott, having the necessary leisure,
stopped a couple of days at Niagara Falls. He registered his name at the
Clifton House, on the Canada side.

He lost no time in visiting the objects of interest connected with the
falls, and at the close of the first day sat on the piazza, with the
falls in sight.

A blond-bearded young man of perhaps twenty-five, evidently an
Englishman, sat near by. He looked at Scott once or twice, as if tempted
to speak, but a certain reticence characteristic of his countrymen
appeared to prevent.

Scott observed this, and made a remark by way of opening a conversation.

“Yes,” answered the young man, “you are right. The falls are grand. You
Americans ought to be very proud of them.”

“But,” said Scott, smiling, “I am not an American.”

The Englishman looked surprised, for Scott, though he had only been in
America a year, had come to resemble the people among whom he had cast
his lot.

“What, then, are you?” inquired his new acquaintance, looking puzzled.

“I was born in England.”

“Indeed!” said the other. “Then we are countrymen.”

“I am glad to know it,” said Scott, courteously.

“How long have you been in America, if I may ask?”

“A little more than a year.”

“And do you live in Canada?”

“No, I live in New York.”

“You are not–in business?” queried the Englishman, noticing his
youthful appearance.

“Oh, yes, I am employed by a New York firm.”

“But how do you happen–excuse my asking–to be here? But perhaps it is
your vacation.”

“No, I am traveling for the firm. I am a traveling salesman for the
house of Tower, Douglas & Co.”

“That is a large firm, I have heard.”

“One of the largest in New York.”

“I confess I am puzzled. You occupy such a responsible position, and yet
you are so young.”

“I believe my case is exceptional. I am the youngest traveler for our
house.”

“I rejoice in your success, since you are an English boy. May I ask your
name?”

Scott handed his new acquaintance a card like this:

SCOTT WALTON
Representing
TOWER, DOUGLAS & CO.
NEW YORK.

“Thank you,” said the other.

He took from his pocket a card, from which Scott learned that he was
Lord Cecil Grant, Earl of Windermere.

“I am honored in making your acquaintance,” said Scott. “May I say that
you seem young to be an earl? I fancied all earls were at least fifty
years of age.”

“I wish that I had waited till fifty for my title,” said the young
Englishman, gravely; “but my poor father died suddenly, six months ago,
and partly to dissipate my grief I came to America.”

“Have you been here long, my lord?” asked Scott, not knowing exactly how
to address his distinguished companion.

“Never mind the title,” said the earl, smiling.

“It comes awkwardly to an American to use it, and you are already half
an American.”

“What shall I call you, then?”

“You may call me Mr. Grant, if you like. If you come to know me better,
you may call me Cecil. I shall take the liberty, since you are a boy, to
call you Scott.”

As he spoke there was a winning smile upon his face, and Scott felt that
he should like him.

“I will try to forget that you are an earl,” he said, “and then I shall
feel more at home with you.”

“What do you say to a walk, Scott? The evening is too fine to spend
here.”

“I shall be delighted.”

He put on his hat, and the two sauntered off together. They were both
good walkers, and had covered several miles before they returned to the
hotel.

“I wish I had met you before, Scott,” said the earl, familiarly. “Won’t
you tell me something about yourself, and your history? I am sure you
have one.”

Almost before he knew it, Scott had told the story already familiar to
the reader. The earl listened with evident interest.

“Really,” he said, “it is worthy of telling in book form. That uncle of
yours—-”

“My mother’s cousin,” corrected Scott.

“No matter. We will say relative. He must certainly be a mean,
disagreeable fellow, don’t you know, and as to your cousin with the
peculiar name—-”

“Loammi.”

“Yes, I never heard the name before. Well, he must be a cad.”

“I think he is,” said Scott, smiling; “but I assure you he considers
himself infinitely above me.”

“I shall not ask you for an introduction.”

“He would like nothing better than to become acquainted with you, Mr.
Grant.”

“You compliment me. Well, here we are at the hotel. What are your plans
for to-morrow? I hope you do not leave in the morning?”

“No; I shall spend another day here.”

“Why not spend it together?”

“I should like nothing better,” said Scott, sincerely.

“Then we will do so. I will secure a carriage in the morning, and we
will make a day of it.”

He was as good as his word, and Scott had a delightful time. He almost
succeeded in forgetting his companion’s rank, and found him a congenial
companion.

Just after supper, when the earl had gone up to his room, a
pretentious-looking man of middle age, who seemed to be continually
trying to assert his claim to superiority, came up to Scott.

“Boy,” he said, “I understand there is an English earl staying at the
hotel?”

“Yes, sir. It is the Earl of Windermere.”

“Have you seen him? Could you point him out to me?”

“He has gone up to his room, but will probably be back almost
immediately.”

“How shall I know him?”

“He will come up and speak to me, and then we shall probably go out to
walk together.”

“Are you a friend of the earl?” asked Mr. Burton, in surprise.

“I think I may call myself so. We have been together all day.”

Mr. Burton regarded Scott with new respect. He had unceremoniously
called him “boy,” but it was before he knew that he was a friend of an
earl.

“Would you kindly introduce me?” he asked, eagerly.

“I am not quite sure whether he would be willing,” returned Scott, with
hesitation.

“Would you mind asking him?”

“If you will let me know your name, sir.”

“I am Nathan Burton, of Albany. I have been an alderman,” said the
other, consequentially.

“I hope you may yet be mayor,” answered Scott, amused.

“Stranger things have happened,” rejoined Mr. Burton, complacently. “Did
you come over with the earl?”

“A year earlier,” returned Scott, gravely.

From this Mr. Burton inferred that they had been friends on the other
side.

“And your name is—-”

“Scott Walton.”

“An aristocratic name!” thought the Albany alderman. “Are you related to
the earl?”

“No, sir. We are only friends.”

At this moment the earl entered the room, and at once went up to Scott.

“Are you ready for a walk, Scott?” he asked.

“Yes, but first—-” And here in a low voice Scott communicated Mr.
Burton’s request.

The earl looked around at the alderman and seemed amused.

“Very well,” he said, smiling.

At a signal, Mr. Burton approached.

“My lord,” said Scott, formally, “allow me to present Mr. Alderman
Burton, of Albany.”

Mr. Burton bowed profoundly.

“I am glad to become acquainted with a representative American,” said
the earl, in a dignified voice, quite different from his tone in talking
with Scott.

“My lord earl, I feel very much honored to make your acquaintance,” said
Mr. Burton, with another profound bow.

“I believe you Americans have no titles,” said the earl.

“No, my lord; but I should be in favor of having them.”

“In that case, you might become Earl of Albany.”

“You do me proud, indeed you do, my lord,” said the gratified alderman.

“I am sorry to leave you so soon, but my young friend and I propose to
have a walk.”

“Don’t let me detain you, my lord. If I might dare to ask one favor—-”

“What is it, sir?”

“If you would favor me with your card?”

With a smile, the earl produced the coveted bit of pasteboard and
handed it to the alderman.

When they were fairly out of the hotel, both laughed merrily.

“Do you want me to be as respectful as Mr. Alderman Burton?” asked
Scott.

“No, be yourself, Scott. That will suit me better.”

Continue Reading

DISAPPOINTMENT

Had Scott spent all his salary he could not have been charged with
extravagance, for ten dollars a week in a large city melts away, but he
made it a matter of principle to save two dollars weekly. So at the end
of a year he had one hundred dollars, and was fairly well clothed.

It was on the last day of the year that he received a summons to the
office.

He answered it with some little trepidation, for it was possible that
the firm had decided to dispense with his services.

“Take a seat, Scott,” said Mr. Tower, pleasantly, when he entered the
office. “I believe you have been with us for a year.”

“Yes, sir.”

“We are quite satisfied with you. You have shown ability as a salesman,
and have taken an intelligent interest in the business. For this reason
we are disposed to promote you.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Scott, much gratified.

“Though you are unusually young, we are disposed to try you on the road.
How would you like that?”

“I should like nothing better.”

“Your compensation, if you are successful, would be considerably greater
than you are now paid. How much, will depend upon your success.”

“I should be quite content with that arrangement, sir.”

“We shall start you out probably within a week. One of our salesmen is
sick, and we shall put you on his route. You will go to Cleveland and
intermediate places. You will receive your instructions in due time.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Scott left the office much elated. He knew that there was no drummer
employed by the firm less than twenty-three years of age, while he was
barely eighteen. He resolved to succeed if success were possible, for he
felt that this would give him an important position and an excellent
income.

“How fortunate I did not stay with Cousin Ezra,” he thought. “If I had
probably I should not be receiving more than six dollars a week now.”

Scott, as has already been said, boarded on Lexington Avenue. He
occupied a small room, and paid but five dollars a week, but those who
occupied the larger rooms paid in proportion to the accommodation
enjoyed.

In the room just opposite to his lived a man of about forty, whom Scott
had met more than once on the stairs but did not feel very well
acquainted with.

Just after supper he was preparing to go out, when there was a knock at
the door.

Opening it, he found that the caller was his opposite neighbor. He was
looking pale and depressed.

“Can you lend me a few matches?” he asked.

“Certainly, Mr. Babcock; won’t you step in and sit down?” said Scott,
cordially.

The visitor hesitated, then said, slowly: “I will do so, but I shall not
be very good company.”

“I am glad of the chance of making your acquaintance,” said Scott. “I
have only seen you on the stairs heretofore.”

“I don’t think you will see much more of me,” said the visitor, soberly.

“Why not? Are you intending to move away?”

“It is not exactly a matter of choice,” said Babcock.

Scott could guess why, for his visitor was very poorly clad. His suit
was frayed and rusty, and there were unmistakable marks of poverty about
his whole appearance.

Scott felt delicate about speaking of this. He contented himself with
saying: “I am sorry to hear it.”

“The fact is,” went on Babcock, with a sigh, “I am a failure, and have
just begun to realize it.”

“If you wouldn’t mind telling me about it,” said Scott, gently, “I can
at least sympathize with you.”

“Sympathy will be welcome. It is long since I have had any.”

He paused, and presently continued:

“You must know that I am an inventor. I need say no more to satisfy you
that I am a visionary and unpractical man.”

“I don’t know about that. There have been many successful inventors.”

“And I might be one but for one unfortunate circumstance.”

“What is that, sir?”

“I have used up all my money, and though the invention is perfected, I
am unable to reap the benefit of it.”

“Would you mind telling me the nature of your invention?”

“It is a window fastener. You may think it a trifle, but it is the small
inventions which from their nature come into common use, and thus pay
the best.”

“I can understand that. How long have you been at work on your
invention?”

“A year. I had a little money when I began, and it has supported me
while I was at work. Now that the invention is perfected, I am without
funds. I may as well be plain, and say that I cannot pay my next week’s
board.”

“Couldn’t you get some man with money to help you?”

“It is what I have been hoping for. In fact, I called yesterday on a
prominent merchant, and laid the matter before him.”

“Who was it, Mr. Babcock?”

“Ezra Little.”

Scott looked surprised.

“He is a relative of mine,” he said. “How did he treat you?”

“He listened to what I had to say, and promised to write to me. He did
so. Shall I show you the letter?”

“If you are willing.”

The inventor drew from his pocket a typewritten letter, and showed it to
Scott. It ran thus:

“MR. HENRY BABCOCK.

“DEAR SIR: I have thought over the small invention you showed me
yesterday. I doubt if there is any money in it, but as I presume
you are in want, I will give you thirty-five dollars for it. I can
stand the small loss, and it will tide you over till you can get a
position that will support you.

“Yours truly,

“EZRA LITTLE.”

“Mr. Little is not very liberal,” said Scott, smiling.

“No,” answered the inventor, bitterly. “Think of the year’s labor I have
spent upon it, and the prospect before me if I accept this paltry sum.
With economy it would last me a month, and then what would become of
me?”

“True; but there are other men besides Mr. Little, who might perhaps
deal with you more generously.”

“You are right, but I don’t think you understand my position. My
available funds are reduced to two dollars. Sometimes in my desperation
I have thought I would go down to Brooklyn Bridge, and end it all. I
think I should have done so but for one thing.”

“What is that?” asked Scott, beginning to show a strong personal
interest in his unfortunate visitor.

“I have a little daughter–four years old. I must live for her.”

“Yes, you must live for her and yourself, too. You may yet be
successful.”

“Do you perhaps know of some capitalist?” asked the inventor, eagerly.

“I know of a gentleman who is well supplied with money, and I will lay
the matter before him. Meanwhile, as you need the money, accept this
loan.”

Scott drew from his pocket two five-dollar bills and tendered them to
Mr. Babcock.

“You have given me new life and new hope,” said the inventor, his pale
face brightening. “Who is the gentleman?”

“A Mr. Wood–Justin Wood. He lives at the Gilsey House, and he has been
very kind to me. In fact, I owe the position I hold to him.”

“Is he–a practical man? Would he see the possibilities of my
invention?”

“I can’t say, but out of regard to me he would give it consideration.”

“When can we see him? Excuse my impatience, but you can understand how
much it means to me.”

“I do, Mr. Babcock, and I will therefore go with you to his hotel this
very evening, though we may possibly not find him in.”

“If you will be so kind I will get ready at once.”

In five minutes they were on their way to the Gilsey House.

Arrived at the Gilsey House, Scott went into the reading room, thinking
he might find Mr. Wood there. But he failed to see him.

“Whom are you looking for?” asked Edward Stripling, the telephone boy,
who occupied one corner of the room.

“Mr. Wood.”

“Perhaps you are the one he wanted to see. He told me to tell any one
inquiring that he would be back in fifteen minutes.”

“Then we shan’t have to wait long, Mr. Babcock.”

The inventor took up a paper from the table, but he was so nervous that
he could not concentrate his attention upon it.

Ten minutes later Justin Wood entered the room.

“I am glad to see you, Scott,” was his cordial greeting.

“Thank you, Mr. Wood. I come on business. Let me introduce Mr.
Babcock.”

“Glad to see you, Mr. Babcock,” said Wood, courteously.

“Could we go up to your room? We won’t keep you long.”

“Certainly. Follow me.”

Mr. Wood had a front room on the third floor a pleasant apartment, for
which he paid a high rent.

“Now, Mr. Wood,” began Scott, “I am going to ask your attention for ten
minutes.”

“I will give you fifteen, if necessary,” said Wood, smiling.

Thereupon Scott told the story of the inventor, to which Justin Wood
listened attentively.

“Have you a model of your invention?” he asked, turning to Babcock.

“Here it is, sir.”

The young man asked various questions, which Babcock answered
satisfactorily.

“I think well of your invention,” said Mr. Wood, in conclusion. “Now,
what do you want me to do?”

Scott answered.

“Mr. Babcock has exhausted all his means and is penniless,” he said.
“The invention is perfected, but he is not in a position to put it
before the public. He has, to be sure, received offers of assistance
from a gentleman whom we both know.”

“To whom do you refer?”

“Ezra Little.”

“Indeed! Is that liberal gentleman willing to help him?”

“He offers me thirty-five dollars for the invention,” said Babcock,
bitterly. “I have spent a whole year in perfecting it, and this is to be
my compensation.”

“I think you had better not trouble Mr. Little,” observed Justin,
quietly. “How much money do you need to put it before the public?”

“If I had one hundred and fifty dollars,” said the inventor,
hesitatingly, “I think I could manage. I would be willing to sell a
one-half interest for that sum.”

“That would not be enough,” said Wood, decidedly.

“With it I’d stand some chance of success.”

“I will tell you what I will do. I will give you five hundred dollars
for one-third interest, on condition that you work zealously to make it
a success.”

“Oh, sir, you are too generous,” said Babcock, with emotion. “With that
money I see my way clear.”

“What would be your plan?”

“I can make arrangements with a responsible party to manufacture it, and
will myself travel and put it before the public.”

“I will risk it.”

“I am sure, sir, that you will get your money back several times over.”

“I hope so. I am not buying it for myself, but for a friend of mine.”

Scott looked at him inquiringly.

“The friend is Scott Walton,” he said, smiling. “Should it pay, I shall
deduct the five hundred dollars from the first money received in the way
of profit, and then make over the whole investment to you, Scott. I hope
it may make you rich.”

“How can I thank you, Mr. Wood?” said Scott, gratefully.

“Wait till you see whether you have anything to be grateful for.”

“There is no doubt about that,” said the inventor, confidently. “You
will excuse me for saying, Mr. Wood, that I shall work even harder for
my young friend Walton than I would for you.”

“That is just what I wish. I am already rich, while Scott has his
fortune yet to make.”

“I will help him to make it.”

“Come around to-morrow, Mr. Babcock, at ten o’clock, and I will have the
money ready. We will also have papers regularly drawn up, so that
Scott’s share of the investment may be secured to him. And now, I shall
have to bid you good-evening, as I have an engagement with a friend at
the Union League Club.”

The two went out.

The inventor was fairly radiant.

“Mr. Walton,” he said, “you don’t know what you have done for me. You
have given me a new lease of life. When I came to your room to-night I
was in a mood that might have led me to throw myself from the Brooklyn
Bridge. Mr. Little’s cold-blooded letter had much to do with bringing on
that mood. I felt that there was no hope for me.”

“And now?”

“Now I have hope–and confidence. I have a presentiment of success. I
shall make myself rich and you also.”

“I hope your presentiment will prove prophetic,” said Scott, smiling. “I
can assure you that a fortune will be welcome. At present I have only
accumulated one hundred dollars.”

“That is not bad for a young man of your age.”

“Say a boy. I am not ashamed of being a boy.”

“Remember I am speaking of my partner. I must speak of him with
respect.”

“Did I tell you I was going to leave the city for a time?”

“No. Why is it? You have not lost your place, I hope.”

“No, I am going to travel for the firm. If I am lucky I shall soon earn
an excellent income.”

“You are sure to do that.”

“How can you tell that I will succeed?”

“I was not referring to your regular position. I was thinking of your
interest in my invention.”

“You are confident, then, of success?”

“I am quite confident of it.”

“I hope you are right; mostly, however, on your account, for I think my
future is tolerably secure.”

“I see you have no idea of the value of your interest in my enterprise.”

“I shall not think seriously of it, but I will welcome any good that may
come to me from it.”

“My life will be changed,” said Babcock. “I shall at once send for my
little Molly.”

“Is that your little daughter?”

“Yes.”

“Where is she now?”

“In the country. Now, I shall feel justified in bringing her to the
city. She is a sweet little girl.”

“I am sure you will be happier for having her with you.”

“Yes, you may well say that.”

“By the way, have you answered Ezra Little’s letter?”

“No; I shall answer it in person to-morrow, after I have concluded
arrangements with your friend.”

About two o’clock the next day, the inventor took his way to Ezra
Little’s dry-goods store on Eighth Avenue. He sent in his name and was
admitted.

He was a welcome visitor, for Mr. Little, who was a practical man, had a
fair conception of the value of his invention, and meant to make a
fortune out of it–for himself. As for the poor inventor, he cared
little for him.

Henry Babcock entered the merchant’s presence, and was bidden to take a
seat.

“I received a letter from you, Mr. Little,” he said.

“Yes. I offered you thirty-five dollars for your invention.”

“That seems to me very small.”

“Probably it is more than I shall make out of it, but you seemed to be
in need, and I am willing to help you.”

“Don’t you think, however, you could let me have more? Thirty-five
dollars would not support me a month.”

“It would give you time to look for a place, Mr. Babcock.”

“But, Mr. Little, think of the time I have spent–and the money!”

“That does not concern me,” said the merchant, coldly.

“I think I shall have to decline your offer.”

“That is foolish. However, I will strain a point, and give you fifty
dollars.”

Henry Babcock shook his head.

“Mr. Little,” he said, triumphantly, “I have sold a one-third interest
in my invention for five hundred dollars.”

Ezra Little looked amazed and disappointed. It was a chance of his life
lost.

“What fool gave you that sum?” he asked, roughly.

“A Mr. Wood, to whom your cousin, Scott Walton, introduced me.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that at first?” snarled Ezra Little. “Wood must
have been a fool to be influenced by that boy. Good-morning!”

Continue Reading

A NEW PLACE

Scott opened the letter, which proved to be brief. It was dated at the
Sherman House, Chicago, and ran thus:

“I am called away suddenly on business, and may be absent for a
month. Should you need to consult me on any subject, direct to me
here, as letters will be forwarded if I am absent from the city.

COUSIN SETH.”

Scott showed the letter to Mr. Wood.

“I shall be glad to make the acquaintance of Mr. Lawton,” said Justin.
“He is evidently a good friend of yours.”

“If he were here now he might get me a place. I don’t stand much chance
myself.”

“I must see if I can’t find some temporary work for you to do. Suppose
we take an ice cream. Do you know any good place near by?”

“There is one on Sixth Avenue.”

“Very well, we will go there.”

Scott led the way to the place already referred to, frequented by his
cousin, Loammi. When they entered, Scott saw Loammi seated at a table in
the rear part of the saloon.

He espied the new arrival, and was evidently surprised to meet Scott in
such a place.

“Hello, Scott!” he called out.

“Good-evening, Loammi,” returned Scott, coolly.

“Goin’ to take an ice cream?”

“Yes.”

“I say, are you working yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Then how can you afford to buy ice cream?” Loammi was about to ask, but
the presence of Justin Wood checked him. Mr. Wood was handsomely
dressed, and looked like a man of means.

“I wonder where Scott picked him up,” thought Loammi. He wished to be
introduced, but Scott did not give any encouragement in that direction.

Loammi, having no good excuse to stay, rose and left the saloon.

“So that’s your cousin?” remarked Justin Wood.

“Yes.”

“He looks sly. I am something of a judge of faces, and I don’t like
his.”

“I suppose I am prejudiced against him,” said Scott. “I don’t think I
could ever like him.”

Scarcely had Loammi left the saloon, when Scott was surprised to see
Ezra Little and his wife enter.

Mrs. Little first caught sight of Scott, and spoke in a low tone to her
husband.

Ezra Little, turning his glance in the direction of Scott, eyed him
severely.

“So this is where you spend your ill-gotten money,” he said, not
noticing that Scott was in the company of the fashionably dressed young
man sitting on the opposite side of the table.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Justin Wood, “but it is my money that is
being spent.”

“I was not aware that you were in the boy’s company,” said Ezra Little,
respectfully, for he saw that Mr. Wood was a gentleman of social
position. “I must explain that your companion left my house a week since
under discreditable circumstances.”

“He told me the circumstances. You assumed that the money he had in his
possession was stolen.”

“There can hardly be a doubt of it. There was a five-dollar bill–and
the missing pocketbook contained a five-dollar bill.”

“I am personally cognizant of the fact that the money was his own.
Indeed, I helped to recover it for him from a swindler who had robbed
him of it.”

“This does not explain the pocketbook being found in his chamber.”

“Where your son put it.”

“This is a strange charge to make, sir. Have you any grounds for making
it?”

“Scott and I called at your house this evening. The servant said that an
hour before the discovery of the pocketbook your son was seen by her
coming out of Scott’s room.”

Ezra Little looked startled, and Mrs. Little looked distressed.

“Moreover, I think if you inquire, you will find that some of the stolen
money was disposed of in this saloon. Your son only went out ten minutes
since. Suppose you inquire whether he has changed a five-dollar bill
here recently.”

“I will do so.”

Ezra Little went up to the cashier.

“I understand,” he said, “that my son comes in here frequently.”

“Yes, sir, he was here this evening.”

“Can you call to mind whether you have ever changed a five-dollar bill
for him?”

“I did so about a week since. Was there anything wrong about the bill?”

“I only asked out of curiosity.”

Ezra was a hard man, but he was not altogether unjust.

“Scott,” he said, “I think there may have been some mistake about your
taking the pocketbook. If you will call at the store to-morrow, I will
see about taking you back.”

Scott bowed, but did not speak. He felt that he could never again be
contented in Mr. Little’s employment.

When they left the saloon he asked: “What do you advise me to do about
going back, Mr. Wood?”

“Don’t go,” said Justin Wood, promptly. “I will stand by you, and see if
I can’t get you something better.”

“Thank you, sir. I don’t want to go back if I can help it. But I am glad
my innocence has been proved.”

“I fancy your cousin will find himself in hot water.”

Loammi was already at the house when his father and mother came in. He
had no suspicion of trouble, but was eager to tell his father that he
had seen Scott.

He did not observe the unusual sternness on Mr. Little’s face.

“Pa,” he said, “I saw Scott to-night.”

“Where did you see him?”

“At an ice-cream saloon on Sixth Avenue. His money seems to have lasted
him pretty well.”

“What were you doing there?” was his father’s unexpected question.

“Getting an ice cream,” answered Loammi, in surprise.

“So your money seems to have lasted pretty well also,” said his father.

“An ice cream costs only ten cents, pa.”

“How many times have you been there within a week?”

“Once or twice, I believe,” answered Loammi, wondering what his father
meant by his strict cross-examination.

“Are you sure you have not been there every evening?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Have you ever had a bill changed there?”

“I don’t know what you mean, pa.”

But Loammi began to fear that he did understand, and he turned pale.

“Where,” asked his father, sternly, “did you get the five-dollar bill
that you got changed there a week ago to-day?”

“I don’t know anything about any five-dollar bill.”

Loammi looked frightened.

“Wasn’t it the money you found in your mother’s pocketbook?”

“But Scott took that, pa. You know the pocketbook was found in his
room.”

“Yes, by you. You knew just where to look for it, for you concealed it
there.”

“Oh, pa, who told you any such wicked story about me?”

“Go downstairs and ask Ellen to come up here.”

Loammi would willingly have been excused from doing this, but he knew
there was no alternative.

When Ellen appeared, Mr. Little said: “Do you remember the evening when
the pocketbook was found in Master Scott’s room?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Had Scott been in his room that evening?”

“I think not, sir.”

“Had any one else been in the room?”

“I saw Loammi coming out from the room about half-past eight.”

“Oh, what a story!” ejaculated Loammi, in perturbation.

“It is true, sir,” said Ellen, firmly.

“I have no doubt of it. That will do, Ellen.”

“Now, what have you to say?” demanded Ezra Little, addressing his son.
“Did you or did you not take the pocketbook?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Loammi, reluctantly.

“And you had the meanness to throw suspicion on your cousin. I am
ashamed of you.”

Loammi made no reply for the very good reason that he had nothing to
say.

“I have myself seen Scott this evening, and I also learned from the
keeper of the ice-cream saloon that you changed a five-dollar bill there
a week since. I have told Scott to come back to the store. As for you,
you deserve to be punished. I shall therefore reduce your allowance from
a dollar a week to fifty cents till the sum you stole has been made up.
Now, you can go upstairs to bed.”

Loammi shed tears of vexation.

“Now Scott will be crowing over me,” he thought to himself. “I can’t
stand it; I think I will run away.”

But he was spared this humiliation.

Scott went into Mr. Little’s store the next day and sought the
proprietor.

“You can come back to work on Monday morning,” said Ezra, “and you can
go round to the house this evening.”

“Thank you, sir; but I have got another place.”

“Another place? Where?”

“With Tower, Douglas & Co.”

Ezra Little was very much surprised, for the firm mentioned was in the
wholesale line and stood very high.

“How did you get there?”

“Mr. Wood, the gentleman that was with me last evening, recommended me.”

“Very well,” said Mr. Little, curtly. “You will bear in mind that I
offered you your position back. Of course, if you lose your new place I
can make no promises.”

“Then I will try not to lose it.”

The house of Tower, Douglas & Co. occupied a very high position in New
York, and was known by reputation all over the country. The firm was
liberal and considerate, and there were plenty of boys and young men who
sought to enter their establishment.

Rich men sometimes offered the services of their sons, but Mr. Tower was
never willing to accept them.

“A boy who works for nothing,” he said, “is worth only what he receives.
He loses his self-respect, and has no ambition to rise.”

Generally, however, the wages paid to beginners were small, not over
three or four dollars a week.

Of course it was impossible for Scott to live on such pay. Justin Wood
was a relative of Mrs. Tower, and being personally liked by her husband,
was the better able to secure favors.

When he obtained Scott’s engagement he said: “Now as to the rate of
compensation, Mr. Tower; how much are you willing to pay my young
friend?”

“We usually pay three dollars a week. We will stretch a point and make
it four in the case of young Walton.”

“I want you to pay him ten dollars a week.”

Mr. Tower looked amazed.

“Impossible!” he exclaimed. “You must be crazy.”

“The boy is wholly dependent on what he earns.”

“That may be; but I am under no obligation to support him.”

“True,” said Justin Wood, smiling, “but you may charge the extra six
dollars to me.”

“That will make a difference; but suppose our other employees find it
out; then there will be dissatisfaction.”

“Then let him understand that he is only paid ten dollars as a special
favor to me, and that the arrangement must be kept strictly secret.”

“That will do; but suppose he does not meet our expectations?”

“He will. You need be under no apprehensions. I am something of a judge
of boys, and I can assure you that he has a talent for business.”

“I will take your word for it until I have a chance to judge for
myself.”

When Scott was informed that he would receive ten dollars a week he was
delighted, and thanked Mr. Tower warmly.

“I am afraid I can’t earn that sum, sir,” he said.

“I know you can’t,” said the merchant, “but Mr. Wood is a cousin of my
wife, and it is on his account that I pay you so liberal a salary. I
expect you to work zealously so that you may deserve it.”

“Thank you, sir; I will.”

Scott spoke confidently, and Mr. Tower was pleased with his modest
self-assurance.

“I don’t think Justin is deceived in the boy,” he said to himself. “At
any rate, I will give him a fair chance.”

Six months later, when Justin Wood called and asked how Scott was
progressing, Mr. Tower said: “He is a born salesman. He is quick,
shrewd, intelligent, and above all, he inspires confidence in customers.
We will hereafter pay him ten dollars a week on our own account, and
will not ask you to reimburse us. But we will not raise him above that
till the end of the year.”

“That is perfectly satisfactory. I have only one favor to ask.”

“What is that?”

“Send him on the road as soon as you consider him competent. I think he
will make a successful drummer.”

“That is my intention. Some of my salesmen can never go outside the
store. Young Walton will make a good record outside.”

Scott had been with the new firm for a month, when Seth Lawton returned
from Chicago. He was much pleased at Scott’s success, but understood
very well that he was indebted for it to the friendly offices of Justin
Wood.

“Do your best, Scott,” he said. “You are at the bottom of the ladder,
but you must climb. Your future depends on yourself. Do you ever see
anything of Loammi?”

“I have met him two or three times. He seems surprised, and I think a
little disappointed, at my success.”

“Does he know how much you receive?”

“No; I promised to keep that a secret. But he knows that I live in a
comfortable boarding house on Lexington Avenue, and have a good room.
If he knew I was paid ten dollars a week he would want to borrow money.
His father has reduced his allowance to fifty cents a week, and he
complains that he might as well be a newsboy. ‘Don’t you think the old
man is mean?’ he asked me yesterday.”

“And what did you reply?”

“I told him that I didn’t care to criticise his father.”

“Good! I see you are discreet. What is Ezra going to do with his son?
Will he train him up to business?”

“Loammi says he is going to Columbia College, or perhaps to Yale.”

“He will never get there. He won’t study hard enough.”

“So I think, Cousin Seth. I wish I had the chance.”

“Would you really like to go to college, Scott?” asked Seth Lawton,
thoughtfully.

“No, I think not as I am at present situated. I could not enter before I
am eighteen, and by that time I shall be well advanced in the knowledge
of business.”

“I think you are right, but I advise you to study, and read instructive
books in your leisure hours.”

“I am doing that, Cousin Seth, and I am thinking soon of taking a
commercial course in some business college.”

“Do so, and I will pay the bill for tuition.”

“I can afford to pay that myself, cousin. You are too generous. That is
what keeps you poor.”

Seth Lawton smiled.

“Oh, I am not so unselfish as you suppose,” he said. “I make enough to
live comfortably.”

“Yes, Cousin Seth, but you ought to be saving up money. You are no
longer a young man.”

“I should think not, at fifty-five.”

“And suppose you get sick, how are you to live?”

“Don’t you think Ezra Little would take care of me?”

Scott laughed.

“I am afraid not,” he answered; “but you have another relative who would
be glad to help you.”

“Meaning yourself.”

“Yes.”

“Good boy!” said Seth, and he looked moved. “Yes, I think you would be
willing to help me if I were in need, but at present you have only
enough for yourself.”

“I am saving a little money, cousin.”

“What! Out of ten dollars a week?”

“Yes; ten dollars a week is quite a liberal salary.”

“You are right. It will do you no harm to be economical. By the way, has
Ezra Little never returned to you the forty dollars you placed in his
hands?”

“No.”

“You should ask him for it.”

“I would rather not,” said Scott, shrinking.

“But it is rightfully yours. He has no excuse for keeping it.”

“I don’t think I would like to speak to him on the subject,” said Scott,
thoughtfully.

“Then I will.”

In fact, Mr. Lawton lost no time in doing as he proposed. He called at
Ezra Little’s house and broached the subject.

“Ezra,” he said, “I understand that you have forty dollars belonging to
Scott.”

“I don’t look upon it in that light,” said Mr. Little. “I gave the boy a
place in my store.”

“And all you gave him was his board.”

“True; but that was more than he earned.”

“I don’t agree with you. It strikes me, Ezra, that it is small business
to take the boy’s small capital and appropriate it to your own use.”

Ezra Little looked incensed.

“Mr. Lawton,” he said, “it strikes me that your interference is
impertinent.”

“On the contrary, as Scott has no one else to speak up for him, I
consider that, as his near relative, it is my duty to do it.”

“If you had attended to your own affairs, instead of meddling with
others, you would not be in danger of going to the poorhouse, as you are
at present.”

“Am I?” asked Seth, looking amused. “You seem to know a good deal about
my affairs.”

“I don’t suppose you have a hundred dollars in the world. If you should
be in need you mustn’t expect me to help you.”

“I shall not. You are pretty safe on that score, Ezra.”

“I see you are poor and proud. However, I am glad to hear it.”

“Then suppose we return to Scott’s money. Are you prepared to give it
back?”

“No, I am not.”

“I don’t think it will do you any good. Robbing the orphan—-”

“Mr. Lawton, I will not submit to such insinuations. If Scott should
lose his position, as he is likely to do if he is guided by your advice,
I will help him out of the money in my hands.”

“Very well; I will hold you to that. However, I don’t think he is likely
to be placed in that predicament.”

“How much does he receive from Tower, Douglas & Co.?”

“More than you paid him. However, I will not occupy any more of your
time. If you become ashamed of your meanness, you can let me know.”

“Seth Lawton, I won’t stand any more of your impertinence. You appear to
forget who I am.”

“I am not likely to forget who and what you are, Ezra. Good-evening!”

“The beggar!” soliloquized the merchant. “He need never expect any
favors from me. He will yet repent his impertinence.”

Continue Reading

A NEW HOME

“I don’t think Scott would take my money,” said Mrs. Little.

“I don’t like to think so myself,” rejoined Loammi, “but some one must
have taken it.”

“You say that Scott has a five-dollar bill?” said his mother,
doubtfully.

“Yes, I saw it.”

“When did you see it?”

“This evening. I was surprised, for I knew he was poor.”

Mrs. Little began to think that Scott might have yielded to sudden
temptation.

“Won’t you call Scott?” she said. “He is in his room.”

Loammi obeyed with alacrity.

He knocked at Scott’s door, and it was opened to him.

“Scott,” he said, “ma wants to see you. Can you come downstairs?”

“Certainly.”

Scott was somewhat surprised, but he went down at once.

Mrs. Little looked embarrassed. She was a kind-hearted woman, and she
shrank from charging Scott with theft.

“Did you wish to speak with me, Mrs. Little?” asked Scott.

“Yes; I have met with a loss. My pocketbook, containing a sum of money,
has disappeared.”

“I am sorry to hear it.”

“I thought possibly you or Loammi might have seen it.”

“I have not seen anything of a pocketbook. When did you miss it?”

“I have not seen it since three o’clock this afternoon.”

“Do you remember whether you laid it down anywhere?”

“Yes; I laid it on the bureau in my room.”

“Then how could I have seen it? I don’t go into your room.”

“Nor I,” put in Loammi.

“I hope you don’t suspect either of us of stealing it,” said Scott,
gravely.

“I don’t know what to think. Loammi tells me that you have in your
possession a five-dollar bill. The pocketbook contained a five-dollar
bill.”

“Yes, Mrs. Little; I have a five-dollar bill of my own, I have had it
for some time. This Loammi knew, and also where I got it.”

“I don’t know anything about that. But it seems very strange what can
have become of the money.”

“Ma,” put in Loammi, “tell me in what sort of a pocketbook you kept the
money?”

Mrs. Little gave a description of it.

“I have something to propose. Suppose you search my chamber and Scott’s,
to see if there is any such pocketbook in either.”

“I don’t like to do that. It would be acting as if I thought you
dishonest.”

“I have no objection for one,” said Loammi. “Have you, Scott?”

“None whatever.”

“Then suppose we go about it. Go to my chamber first.”

The three went into Loammi’s room. Of course the search revealed nothing
of the lost pocketbook.

“Now, let us go upstairs.”

So they proceeded to Scott’s room.

Scott sat down on a chair.

“Don’t mind me,” he said. “Look wherever you see fit.”

Loammi lifted the pillow, then the bedclothes, peered behind the table,
and under the bed.

“Of course, I haven’t the slightest idea of finding it here, Scott,” he
said, “but it is just as well to look thoroughly.”

“You can’t please me better.”

With a nonchalant air Loammi went to the shelf, and raised the cover of
a small tin box.

“What is this?” he asked, drawing from it the pocketbook.

“That is my pocketbook,” said Mrs. Little, quickly. “Oh, Scott, how
could you have taken it?”

“I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Loammi, trying to look surprised.

“Let me see that pocketbook,” said Scott, quickly.

It was placed in his hand.

“Is this the pocketbook you lost?” he asked, turning to Mrs. Little.

“If it is not, it is exactly like it. Did you have one of this kind?”

“No, and I never saw this before.”

Loammi looked significantly at his mother.

“I hope what you say is true,” said Mrs. Little, looking troubled.

“It is true. What else was there in the pocketbook except a five-dollar
bill?”

“A one-dollar note.”

“I know nothing of either. Open this, Loammi, and see if either is in it
now.”

Loammi did so, but of course the pocketbook was empty.

“Do you think I took this pocketbook from your room, Mrs. Little?” asked
Scott.

“What am I to think?”

“I can’t tell you. I can tell you what I think.”

“What is it?”

“That the person who stole the pocketbook took out the money and placed
it where it was found.”

“Oh, of course,” sneered Loammi; “but who was it?”

“I don’t know, but I mean to find out.”

He gazed fixedly at Loammi, who flushed a little, for he saw that he was
suspected.

“Ma,” he said, “I hope you’ll forgive Scott. Probably he will be willing
to give up the money.”

“I consider that remark an insulting one, Loammi. I don’t want to be
forgiven, nor can I give up money that I didn’t take.”

“Haven’t you got a five-dollar note in your pocket?”

“Yes, but it’s my own.”

“We won’t continue the discussion,” said Mrs. Little, sadly. “I would a
great deal rather have given away the money than lose it in this way.”

“So you think me guilty, Mrs. Little?”

“I shall have to, if you don’t explain how the pocketbook came to be in
your room.”

“That I can’t do. Of course it was placed there, but I can’t tell who
did it.”

“Of course I must report the matter to Mr. Little.”

“Do so, madam. Perhaps he can think of some way to find out the real
thief.”

“Ma, I am sleepy. I think I will go to bed,” said Loammi.

Mother and son rose, and left the room.

It will readily be supposed that Scott did not sleep much that night. He
saw the awkwardness of his position.

He felt convinced that Loammi, if he had not taken the money, had
secreted the pocketbook in his room with the design of throwing
suspicion upon him. But how could he prove this?

That was the question, and one that baffled him.

Of course it was a despicable thing to do, but he believed that his
cousin was quite capable of it.

The next morning Scott shrank from going down to breakfast. It was
embarrassing for him to be looked upon as a thief, even though he were
supported by the consciousness of innocence.

As soon as he entered the dining room, he saw by Mr. Little’s cold and
frigid expression that he had been told.

Still, nothing was said until the meal was over.

When Scott rose from the table, Mr. Little said: “Stay behind a minute,
young man. I have something to say to you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Mrs. Little has told me of the discovery that was made in your chamber
last evening.”

“Very well, sir.”

“But it is not very well. It looks very bad for you.”

“Mr. Little, do you think I took your wife’s pocketbook?”

“The evidence is pretty conclusive.”

“All I can say is that I am as innocent as you are.”

“The pocketbook contained a five-dollar bill. I learn that you have a
five-dollar bill.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I think that settles it.”

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Little, but you yourself probably have a
five-dollar bill in your pocket. It proves nothing.”

“You are very plausible, but I am not easily fooled. I have just one
thing to say. Give up that five-dollar bill, and we will overlook the
theft.”

“And if not?”

“Then you must leave my house and consider yourself discharged from my
store.”

Scott was pale but composed.

“You are treating me with great injustice,” he said. “My innocence will
some day appear. In the meantime I shall leave your house at once, sir.”

“That is for you to decide,” said Mr. Little, coldly, as he rose from
the table.

Scott walked up slowly to his little chamber. His heart was heavy within
him.

He was innocent, yet adjudged guilty. His home and situation were taken
from him, and he was turned out into the street.

He resolved to go around and see Cousin Seth. Of his sympathy he felt
assured.

He rang the bell, and Mrs. Mead opened the door in person.

“Good-morning, Scott,” she said, pleasantly.

“Is Mr. Lawton in?” asked Scott.

“No; he left last evening for the West, to be absent about a month. He
asked me to say that he would write you in a day or two. He was called
away suddenly by a telegram.”

Scott’s heart sank within him. He seemed to have lost his only friend.

“Did you wish to see Mr. Lawton about something important?” asked Mrs.
Mead.

“Yes, I wish to ask his advice. I have lost my place.”

“At Mr. Little’s store?”

“Yes.”

“I never liked Mr. Little. I am glad Willie has another position.”

“Have you a small room vacant, Mrs. Mead? I have left Mr. Little’s house
also, and I must find a room somewhere.”

“I have a small hall bedroom on the third floor.”

“What rent do you charge?”

“Two dollars a week, usually, but to you I will make it a dollar and a
half.”

“Then I will take it. Can I go up at once and leave my valise?”

“Yes; I will show the way.”

The room was small, as Mrs. Mead had described it, but it was
scrupulously clean. Scott felt that he would be very well satisfied with
it, if only he could continue to pay the rent. It was certainly
pleasanter than the room he had occupied at Ezra Little’s.

“You must dine with us to-night, Mr. Walton,” said Mrs. Mead,
hospitably. “Willie will be glad to see you, and then you can tell us
how you came to leave the store.”

As soon as he was settled, Scott went out and began to look for a
position. He bought a morning paper, and looked over the advertisements
of “Help Wanted.”

He took down several names, and began to call in rotation. In several
instances he found the places already filled. In one place he was
offered two dollars and a half a week, which he knew it would be idle to
accept, as it would do little more than pay his room rent.

In one place he was asked where he had worked last.

“At Little’s dry-goods store on Eighth Avenue,” he answered.

“Why did you leave?”

“Because of a disagreement with Mr. Little.”

“I don’t think we shall require your services,” said the merchant,
coldly.

He turned away, as if to intimate that the conference was at an end.

Scott was depressed. He saw that any explanation he might give of his
leaving his former place would only injure him. Yet, almost everywhere
the question would be asked.

This made him feel all the more that he had been very unjustly treated
by Ezra Little. He had been required to plead guilty to a theft which he
had not committed, and to replace the money lost with money of his own.
He had very properly declined to do this, and now he was thrown out of
employment, with very little chance of securing another place.

Several days passed, and Scott must have made application for a hundred
situations. But his luck did not improve. One obstacle was a general
business depression which made employers averse to hiring new employees.

And all the while his scanty funds were diminishing. He sought out cheap
restaurants and limited his orders to the barest necessities, but still
his money melted away till at length he was reduced to fifty cents.
Besides, his week was about out and he would be called upon to pay a
second week’s rent.

This was, of course, out of the question. Poor Scott was deeply
perplexed. He began to think it would have been better if he had
complied with Ezra Little’s demand for the five-dollar bill. It was
about gone now, and he was without an income.

He chanced to be passing the Gilsey House at four o’clock in the
afternoon, when he heard his name called.

Looking up, he recognized the familiar face of Justin Wood, whom he had
not met for some weeks.

“I am glad to see you once more, Scott,” said the young man, cordially.
“Why haven’t you called upon me?”

“I did call once, but I did not find you in.”

“It must have been when I was making a short visit to Philadelphia. But
now come in, and give an account of yourself. How does it happen that
you are in the streets at this hour?”

“Because, Mr. Wood,” answered Scott, gravely, “I have lost my place.”

“Then you have a story to tell. Come in, and tell me all about it.”

He led the way into the hotel, and Scott followed him into the reading
room.

“Now take a seat at the window,” said Justin Wood, pointing to an
armchair, “and tell me why you were discharged.”

Scott told the story in as few words as possible.

“This money which Mr. Little wished you to give up was a part of what
you recovered from that swindler at Staten Island, I presume?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then I could certify to its belonging to you. Do you wish me to do so?”

“I don’t want to go back to Mr. Little’s if I can find another place.
Besides, it will still be said that the pocketbook was found in my
room.”

“Have you any idea who put it there?”

“Yes, I think it was put there by Loammi.”

“That is my own conclusion.”

“But I don’t see how I can bring it home to him.”

“There will be a difficulty. If you get evidence of his having changed a
five-dollar bill about that time, now—-”

“I don’t see how I can do that. It happened a week since.”

“Where are you living now?”

“I have a room on West Sixteenth Street, at the house of a Mrs. Mead,
but I shall have to leave it to-morrow.”

“Why?”

“Because I have no money to pay the rent for a second week.”

“How much is it?”

“A dollar and a half.”

“I might be willing to lend you as much as that,” said Justin Wood,
smiling.

“Thank you, sir, but I shall need money to buy my meals besides.”

“Then I think I shall have to come to your assistance.”

Justin Wood put his hand in his pocket, and drew out two five-dollar
bills.

“That will tide you over for the present,” he said.

“But,” said Scott, “ought I accept so much? I don’t know when I shall be
able to repay you.”

“Then we had better consider it a gift.”

“Thank you very much, sir.”

“It is hardly worth mentioning,” he said. “If it will do you good I am
glad. Now, you must come in and take some dinner with me. I have eaten
nothing since breakfast, and am almost famished.”

The young man ordered a plain, but most appetizing dinner, to which
Scott and himself did equal justice. Scott, too, had eaten nothing since
breakfast, and that breakfast had been a meager one.

After dinner the two friends hailed a car and went uptown. They spent an
hour in Central Park.

Mr. Wood proposed to walk back, and Scott accompanied him.

“Would you mind if I called at Mr. Little’s house?” asked Scott. “There
may be a letter for me from Cousin Seth.”

“Do so, by all means, Scott.”

Scott rang the bell, and the door was opened by Ellen. Her eye
brightened when she saw Scott, whom she liked much better than Loammi.

“I am glad to see you, Scott,” she said. “And where are you living,
now?”

“I am boarding on West Sixteenth Street.”

“And have you got another place?”

“Not yet. I suppose you heard why I left the house.”

“Yes, I did, and it’s a shame.”

“Did you hear that Mrs. Little’s pocketbook was found in my room?”

“Yes, I did, and I know who put it there.”

“Who was it?” asked Scott, eagerly.

“Only an hour before, I myself saw Loammi coming out of your chamber. He
pretended that he went there expecting to see you.”

“Did you tell Mr. Little that?”

“No; but I will if you want me to.”

“I may ask you to do it some time. Do you think Loammi took the money?”

“I do that. All this week he’s been unusually flush of cash. It’s easy
to guess where it came from.”

“And I have had to suffer for his theft. Oh, by the way, Ellen, has any
letter come here for me?”

“There was one came this morning. I’ll get it for you.”

Scott looked at the postmark of the letter, and saw that it was from
Chicago.

Continue Reading

TEMPTATION

Cousin Seth arranged everything as he had planned, and Mrs. Mead’s
landlord, when he called, learned to his surprise that his poor tenant
was intending to move.

“Have you found cheaper rooms?” he asked.

“No, but I am going to take a whole house.”

The landlord looked astonished.

“Where?” he asked.

“On West Sixteenth Street.”

“Yet you have always been pleading poverty, and only last month I had to
wait two days for the last dollar of the rent.”

“That is true; but an old friend has found me out, and will give me a
helping hand.”

Of course, no more was to be said.

The removal was soon made, for Mrs. Mead had little to move, and with
Seth Lawton’s efficient help, the widow found herself in possession of
her new establishment, with everything running smoothly.

“Now,” said Mr. Lawton, “I must see if I can’t do something for Willie.
How much does Ezra Little pay him?”

“Two dollars and a half a week.”

“That is too little.”

“I don’t think Mr. Little will pay more.”

“Let him ask.”

“I am afraid in that case he will lose his place. The last time Willie
asked for a raise he was angry.”

“Very well, if he loses his place I will find him another. Or, stay, I
will ask Ezra myself.”

“That will be better.”

So Seth called the next evening on his rich relative. He was not
received with open arms, for Mr. Little was under the impression that he
wanted to borrow money.

“I can’t give you much time to-night, Seth,” said the merchant. “I have
a business engagement. Have you found anything to do?”

“I think I can see my way clear to a place as confidential clerk and
bookkeeper in a small office downtown.”

“How much salary?”

“Possibly fifteen dollars a week.”

“You had better accept. You are extremely lucky at your age to get such
an office.”

“You wouldn’t be satisfied with it, Ezra,” returned Seth, with a smile.

“I? You are dreaming. What, a well-known and long-established merchant
to think of such a salary! You must be insane.”

“Yet you are within five years as old as I am, Ezra.”

“What does that matter? I take it there is considerable difference
between your position and mine.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“To tell the truth, I didn’t think you would be able to get any position
at all. I hope this won’t slip through your fingers.”

“Then you advise me to accept it?”

“Of course. You would be crazy not to do so. Remember, you will have to
depend upon yourself. The fact that you are a relation will not justify
you in asking help from me.”

“I have a favor to ask, however, Ezra.”

“I cannot lend you money, if that’s what you mean,” said Ezra,
brusquely.

“It isn’t. I find that one of your cash boys is the son of an old
friend of ours–Mary Mead, formerly Mary Grant.”

“Yes; I gave the boy a place in order to help her.”

“You pay him two dollars and a half a week. There are only two boys, and
this is very small.”

“It is all I pay any of the boys.”

“But Willie is a well-grown boy of fourteen. Surely, out of old
friendship, and to help his mother, you can pay him more.”

“Have you been talking to Mrs. Mead, and encouraged her to think that I
will increase her boy’s wages?”

“Yes.”

“Then you have done a foolish thing. I decline. I am half inclined to
discharge the boy.”

“It won’t be necessary. He will leave the store at the end of the week.”

“What does this mean?”

“That I will undertake to find him a better place.”

Ezra looked annoyed and angry.

“You can’t do it,” he said. “You have no acquaintances in the city. You
are not even sure of employment yourself.”

“So it seems you have sized me up, Ezra,” said Seth Lawton, mildly.

“That is easy enough. You were born to be an unsuccessful man. You are
fifty-six years old, and I suppose you haven’t saved enough money to
keep you going for three months.”

“I don’t owe a cent, Ezra.”

“That is something. But I can’t remain here talking. Don’t forget what I
said about making sure of the place you spoke of.”

“Just as I expected,” thought Seth. “Ezra seems to be a thoroughly
selfish man. It is lucky for me that—-” but he did not finish the
sentence.

Mr. Little did not think of the matter again till the superintendent
told him on Saturday night: “One of the cash boys has resigned his
place.”

“Who is it?”

“William Mead.”

“It is all the bad advice of Seth Lawton,” he reflected. “He is a
perfect meddler. Probably his mother will be here in a day or two to beg
me to take him back.”

But no such application came. Willie had obtained a place on Grand
Street at four dollars a week.

Scott continued to enjoy the companionship of Seth Lawton, but
sometimes Cousin Seth was out of the city for days at a time, in which
event Scott was thrown back on the company of Loammi, but this gave him
very little satisfaction.

One evening Loammi happened upon his cousin coming out of a store on
Sixth Avenue.

“Have you been buying anything?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“What?”

“A couple of neckties.”

“Where did you get the money?”

Scott said, quietly: “That is my business, Loammi.”

“I thought you gave pa all the money you had.”

“I gave him forty dollars.”

“How much have you got left?”

“I don’t care to tell.”

This was enough for Loammi, who saw a chance to do his cousin an ill
turn. Accordingly he said to his father that evening: “Pa, did you know
that Scott had money?”

“What do you mean?”

Then Loammi told the story.

“I asked him how much he had, and he wouldn’t tell me. It seems to me
he ought to have handed it to you.”

In this Mr. Little agreed with his son.

“Call Scott,” said he.

Scott was in his small chamber, and there Loammi found him.

“Pa wants to see you, Scott.”

Scott went downstairs and into Mr. Little’s presence.

“Do you wish to see me, sir?”

“Yes. Loammi tells me you have some money.”

“Yes; I have a little money.”

“I thought you gave up all you had when you came here.”

“So I did, all but sixty cents, but I have regretted it since.”

“Why?”

“Because I understood it was to be used for my clothing, and it was
not.”

“I told you in what light I considered it. But I won’t dwell upon that
now. You deceived me in letting me think you had given up all your
money.”

“No, I did not, sir.”

“Then how do you explain your having money at present. Was it given you
by Mr. Lawton?”

“No, sir.”

“Where, then, did you get it?”

“It was money that I was swindled out of by a fellow passenger. I
induced him to return a part of it.”

“How much have you now?”

“About five dollars.”

“You may give it to me.”

“I prefer not to do so, Mr. Little; I need it myself.”

Scott spoke respectfully, but firmly.

“Do you refuse?” demanded Ezra, angrily.

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you think this is a suitable return for all I have done for you?”

“You have given me a home, but it is in return for services in your
store. As for this money, it was given me by my father and I prefer to
keep it.”

Ezra Little was taken aback by the boy’s resolute tone. On the whole, he
decided not to press the demand.

“Be it so,” he said; “but understand that I shall, hereafter, give you
nothing but your board and lodging. When you require clothing or
anything else, you must buy it yourself.”

“I understand, sir.”

“Seth has been talking to that boy,” reflected Ezra Little. “It would
serve him right for me to discharge him.”

But Ezra Little knew that Scott was an excellent salesman, and that he
could not supply his place at less than eight dollars a week, so he did
not care to dismiss him.

“I’ll bring him to terms yet,” he said to himself.

Loammi had a high idea of his personal qualities and social standing.
But he had one grievance.

He received an allowance from his father, but it was much less than he
thought he needed. Ezra Little was not a liberal man. He gave Loammi a
dollar every Saturday night, and obstinately refused to give him more.

“It is very hard to get along on a dollar, pa,” complained Loammi.

“When I was your age I had no allowance at all, my son.”

“You were a poor boy. You were not expected to keep up appearances.”

“You have no clothes to buy. I provide for you in that respect, and I
think you are as well dressed as most of the boys you associate with.”

“I don’t complain of my clothes, but a boy wants to keep up his end
with his school friends. Yesterday afternoon, Henry Bates proposed to me
to go in and get an ice cream, but I couldn’t, for I had no money.”

“Have you spent all your weekly allowance?”

“Yes, every cent.”

“Yet it is only Wednesday.”

“And I must scrimp till Saturday night.”

“Then you should manage better. If you limited yourself to ten cents a
day for the first five days, you would be able to spend twenty-five
cents on Friday and Saturday.”

“That’s easier said than done, pa.”

“I am afraid you are getting extravagant, Loammi.”

“Even Scott goes around with more money in his pocket than I do.”

“How much money has he got?”

“About five dollars.”

“He will have to spend it for clothes. He won’t be able to buy ice cream
with it.”

“Still, it makes a fellow feel good to have as much money as that in his
pocket.”

“Then I advise you to save up money for a few weeks till you have as
much.”

“Pa,” suggested Loammi, insinuatingly, “couldn’t you let me have a
five-dollar bill to carry round with me, so that I could show it to my
friends? They would think more of me.”

“How long do you think it would remain unbroken?” asked his father,
shrewdly.

“Oh, ever so long.”

“I don’t wish to try the experiment. Your friends will respect you
without that. They know that you are the son of a man who is well off.”

“No, they don’t think so, when they see that I am always short of money
and hard up.”

“Then let them think what they please. If they thought you had money
they would want to borrow it, or urge you to spend it on them.”

So Loammi failed in his effort to obtain a larger allowance.

One day–it was Friday–he particularly wanted to use some money and was
without a penny. Under these circumstances it occurred to him that his
despised cousin was well supplied with cash, and might be induced to
accommodate him with a loan.

Scott was rather surprised when, as he was going out after supper,
Loammi joined him.

“Are you going out for a walk?” he asked, in an unusually gracious tone.

“Yes, Loammi.”

“I will join you if you don’t mind.”

“Certainly. I shall be glad to have your company.”

“Have you called on Mr. Lawton lately?”

“No; he is out of town just now. I think he has gone to Philadelphia.”

“Has he got a place?”

“He is doing something, but I don’t know what it is. He doesn’t seem to
say much about his affairs.”

“I hope he won’t spend all his money.”

“So do I. He seems to be generous, even beyond his means.”

“I wish he’d be generous to me,” thought Loammi.

They walked down Broadway, Loammi chatting pleasantly.

“Oh, by the way,” he said, suddenly, “I find I have left my purse at
home. Could you lend me a dollar?”

Then it flashed upon Scott what was the meaning of his cousin’s
agreeable manner. He was of an obliging disposition, but he knew Loammi
well enough to be certain that he would never see his money back.

“I am sorry, Loammi,” he said, “but I am afraid I can’t lend you any
money.”

“Haven’t you got any?”

“Yes, but I have to buy my own clothes, as you know, and I need some
underclothing.”

“That won’t cost much.”

“True, but there are other things I need, also.”

“I don’t ask you to give me the money. To-morrow evening I shall get my
allowance from pa, and then I can pay you back.”

“You must excuse me, Loammi, but I have so little money that I have to
be very careful of that little. If I had some one to buy my clothes for
me, as you have, it would be different.”

“Oh, well,” said Loammi, offended, “do as you like. You seem to forget
that but for pa you would be in the poorhouse.”

“I don’t think I should.”

“Of course you would. Doesn’t he give you your living?”

“No. I earn it.”

“All the same. He gave you a place in his store.”

“I think I could have got work somewhere else. However, I don’t deny
that your father gave me employment.”

“And you repay him by refusing a slight favor to his son.”

“I wish I were differently situated, Loammi, but—-”

“Oh, you needn’t go on. You have refused me a small favor.
Good-evening!” and Loammi left his cousin, and went off in a huff.

“Now, I suppose Loammi will dislike me more than ever,” thought Scott.
“Well, I must put up with it. I am not rich enough to lend him money
which he won’t pay back.”

Meanwhile, Loammi went home in a very unsatisfactory frame of mind. He
was disgusted with himself now because he had humiliated himself so far
as to ask his cousin for a loan.

“I’ll get even with him if I get a chance,” he reflected, angrily.

He was destined to another mortification.

Before he reached home he met a schoolmate named Paul Granger. He wished
he could have avoided him for a reason that will immediately appear, but
Paul met him as he turned in from the corner of West Forty-fourth
Street.

“I am glad to meet you, Loammi,” said Paul. “You are owing me a dollar,
you know. I should like it back, as I want to go to a picnic to-morrow.”

“All right,” said Loammi, and he put his hand in his pocket.

“By Jove!” he exclaimed, in apparent astonishment. “My purse is empty. I
shall have to make you wait a day or two.”

“But I have been waiting already for three weeks,” protested Paul.

“I am sorry, but I really can’t do anything for you to-night. About the
first of next week.”

“Why don’t you ask your father for some money? He is a rich man, isn’t
he?”

“Yes, but he would be angry if he knew that I had borrowed money. He is
very strict about such matters.”

“Then you ought not to have borrowed money of me,” said Paul.

“Oh, I’ll make it all right in a day or two,” said Loammi.
“Good-evening, I am in a little of a hurry.”

Paul Granger walked away, pretty well assured that he would never get
back his dollar.

“I suppose that fellow will be annoying me every day,” said Loammi to
himself. “Heigh-ho! it’s awful inconvenient to be so poor. Pa could make
it all right if he’d open his heart and give me five or ten dollars.”

Loammi entered the house fully convinced that he was very ill used, and
that his father was a very selfish man.

He walked upstairs slowly, and as he passed through the upper hall he
saw the door of his mother’s chamber open. He went in, thinking that he
might be able to borrow from her, when as his eyes glanced around the
room he saw something that made his heart beat quicker.

On the bureau lay a small pocketbook, which he recognized as his
mother’s.

Under present circumstances the sight of a pocketbook affected him
powerfully.

Without any definite idea of what he would do, he walked softly to the
bureau, and taking the pocketbook in his hand, opened it. It contained
two bills, a five-dollar note and a one.

“This would just get me out of my trouble,” he thought. “I wish this
money was mine.”

It was a strong temptation. With the one dollar he could pay Paul
Granger, and the five would last him some time, supplementing what he
called his miserable allowance.

He put the pocketbook in his pocket, and slipping downstairs stealthily,
went out again into the street.

Continue Reading

A HELPING HAND

The next day Mr. Little asked: “Did you take that suit to my tailor for
alterations, Scott?”

“Thank you, sir,” said Scott, coloring, “but I think I will get along
for the present with the suit I am wearing.”

“What does that mean?” demanded Ezra Little, quickly.

“I don’t care to wear Loammi’s clothes.”

“Oh, you are proud, are you?” sneered Mr. Little.

“If it were necessary I would do so, but I think I am entitled to a new
suit.”

“On what do you base your claim?”

“On the money which I handed you, Mr. Little,” replied Scott.

“We will not discuss this question,” said Ezra Little, coldly. “I have
already told you that this money will be needed to pay your expenses.”

Scott did not reply.

“Well, what have you to say to that?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“You have no just cause of complaint. I have offered you a suit which,
when altered, would be almost as good as new. If you change your mind
about accepting it, you may let me know.”

“Very well, sir.”

On Thursday evening Scott made a call at Seth Lawton’s boarding house.

“I am glad to see you, Scott,” said Mr. Lawton, cordially. “But you look
sober.”

“I feel so, Cousin Seth.”

“Why is that? Anything unpleasant happened?”

“I applied to Mr. Little for a new suit. He declined to buy me one, but
said I could have an old suit of Loammi’s altered over for me.”

“Didn’t you mention the money you had placed in his hands?”

“Yes, but he said I was not earning my board, and this would make up the
deficit.”

Seth Lawton rose from his chair and paced the room. It was his habit to
do so when he was disturbed.

“I didn’t think Ezra Little would be so mean, though I knew he was far
from liberal. What did you say to his proposal?”

“I declined it. Loammi is not as large as I am, and, besides, I don’t
feel like wearing his second-hand clothes when Mr. Little has money of
mine in his possession.”

“What do you think of his claim that your services do not pay for your
board?”

“Judging from what I have found out about the pay of other salesmen, I
think that I earn more than my board.”

“I think so, too. So you are to have no new suit?”

“No, sir.”

“Perhaps you will be luckier than you imagine. You must remember that I
am your relative as well as Ezra Little. I will buy you a suit.”

“But, Cousin Seth, I don’t want to put you to that expense. You will
need all your money yourself.”

Seth Lawton smiled.

“I will promise not to put myself to any inconvenience,” he said. “Will
that satisfy you? Will you now refuse a favor at my hands, Scott, my
boy?”

“I would rather receive a favor from you than from Mr. Little, if you
really feel that you can afford it.”

“You need not be apprehensive on that score. At what time do you go out
to lunch?”

“At twelve o’clock.”

“I will call at that time to-morrow, and we will manage to get time to
stop at a tailor’s and leave your measure.”

“But, Cousin Seth, a ready-made suit will answer.”

“As this is the first present I have given you, I will make it a good
one. Probably we can find a tailor near your store.”

“Yes; Mr. Little’s tailor has a shop only three blocks away. Here is his
card.”

“The very thing.”

When the suit was finished Scott put it on at once, and left his old one
to be cleaned and repaired.

It was hardly to be supposed that it would escape the observation of
Loammi and his father. As a matter of fact, it was handsomer than any
his cousin wore.

“Where did you get that suit?” asked Loammi, in amazement.

“It was a present,” answered Scott.

“From whom?”

“Cousin Seth.”

Loammi was not slow in carrying the news to his father.

“Pa,” he said, “see the new suit Mr. Lawton has given Scott.”

Mr. Little put on his glasses and closely examined his young relative.

“Did you ask Mr. Lawton to buy you a suit?” he asked, abruptly.

“No, sir. I did not wish him to go to such an expense.”

“It must have cost at least twenty-five dollars.”

“I think it cost twenty-eight.”

“Seth is a fool. He is probably poor, and could not afford such an
extravagant outlay.”

“He told me he could afford it, and I had to take his word.”

“It is better than my best suit, pa,” complained Loammi.

“You shall have as good a one when you need it. It is only three weeks
since I bought you a suit.”

“Was it a ready-made suit?” asked Loammi of Scott.

“No; it was made to order by the tailor your father mentioned to me.”

“You will soon get it shabby wearing it every day.”

“I don’t intend to do so. I left my old suit to be cleaned and
repaired.”

“Well, you are provided for, for the present, thanks to Seth Lawton’s
folly. I don’t wonder he is poor if that is the way he manages. Do you
know if he has got work yet?”

“He told me part of his time was occupied.”

“I suppose he has got a little job to do at bookkeeping. Possibly it
will pay him twenty-five dollars. On the strength of that he has bought
you a suit at twenty-eight dollars. Seth always was a fool. When he
finds himself in need, it won’t do him any good to apply to me.”

It was clear that Mr. Lawton had not raised himself in the estimation of
his rich relatives by his kindness to Scott.

Among the cash boys who worked in the store was a pleasant-faced boy,
named William Mead. He was two years younger than Scott, but the latter
had taken special notice of him, and without knowing much of him, had
come to feel an interest in him.

Usually Willie, as he was called, was bright and cheerful, but one day
he appeared with a sad countenance.

“What is the matter, Willie?” asked Scott, when the two boys went out
together at the noon hour.

Scott bought his lunch at a neighboring restaurant, but the cash boy
brought his with him from home.

“I don’t like to annoy you with my troubles.”

“But they won’t annoy me. Please think of me as a friend.”

“Then I will tell you. I have a brother three years older than I am, who
earns six dollars a week. He has been sick for two weeks, and my mother
misses his wages. You know I only get two dollars and a half a week.”

“That is very small.”

“Some of the stores pay more, but Mr. Little never pays more than that
to a cash boy. Next week our rent comes due, and as we have a strict
landlord, I am afraid he will put us out when he finds mother is not
ready with the rent.”

“I am sorry for you, Willie,” said Scott, in a tone of sympathy. “Have
you no friend you can call upon for a loan?”

“Our friends are as poor as ourselves.”

“When does your rent come due?”

“Next Saturday.”

“I will think whether I can do anything for you, I will see you again
to-morrow.”

“But you are poor yourself. Mr. Little’s son was at the store one day,
and I overheard him telling one of the salesmen that you were a poor
relation.”

“He is not likely to let me forget that. I am not sure that I can do
anything for you, Willie, but if I can I will.”

“You have already done me good by speaking kindly to me.”

“Come in to lunch with me, Willie. A cup of coffee will do you good.”

That evening Scott had arranged to call on Mr. Lawton. He decided to
tell him of the young cash boy’s troubles. Seth Lawton’s face showed his
sympathy.

“It is really a hard case,” he said. “We must see if we can’t do
something for your friend.”

“I hope you don’t think I was hinting this to you, Cousin Seth.”

“I don’t, but still you won’t object to my doing something for the boy.”

“Mr. Little says you are foolishly generous, and this is why you keep
poor.”

“He will never make himself poor by his generosity. If you have the
boy’s address we will call upon him.”

The cash boy and his mother lived in a westside tenement house.

Just in front of the house, Scott met Willie Mead with a loaf of bread
which he was bringing home from a neighboring bakery. His eye lighted up
with pleasure when he saw Scott.

“Do you live here, Willie?” asked Scott.

“Yes, we live on the fourth floor.”

“I have brought a gentleman with me who may be able to help your mother.
We will follow you upstairs.”

“You may not like to climb so high, sir,” said the cash boy, turning to
Mr. Lawton.

“I think I can stand it for once,” rejoined Seth Lawton. “I am a little
more scant of breath than when I was a young man, but I am still good
for a climb.”

Willie started ahead and the two visitors followed him.

“We will stop here on the landing till you have told your mother she is
to have visitors,” said Seth, considerately.

The boy opened a door and entered a rear room. He reappeared in a short
time, and said: “Come in, please.”

The room was neat, but the scanty and well-worn furniture showed
evidences of dire poverty.

Mrs. Mead, a woman of forty, though poorly dressed, had a look of
refinement, though her face was sad and anxious.

As she watched the entrance of the visitors her eyes seemed riveted upon
Seth Lawton. She took a step forward.

“Surely,” she said, “I cannot be deceived. This is Seth Lawton.”

“You know me?” said Seth, in amazement.

“Yes, and you ought to know me. We were born in the same village.”

“Mary Grant!” ejaculated Seth, after a brief scrutiny.

“That was my name. Now I am Mary Mead. I married, but my husband is
dead. But sit down. It does me good to see an old friend.”

“It seems incredible,” said Seth, as he took the proffered seat. “We met
last in England, and now again under strange and unexpected
circumstances.” Seth Lawton seemed moved, but his tone was one of
satisfaction.

“Yes, Seth, much has happened since we parted.”

“How long have you lived in America?”

“Ten years.”

“And when did your husband die?”

“Three years since. He left me nothing but the children, and it has been
a sad and sorrowful time. We have lived, but there have been times when
we have been on the verge of starvation. And you, how has it been with
you?”

“I have no right to complain. I have lived comfortably. You know Ezra
Little?”

“Yes, it was at my request that he took Willie into his store. But the
two dollars and a half a week, which he pays him, seems very small.”

“I should think so. Didn’t he know how poor you were?” asked Seth,
indignantly.

“Yes, but he said he could not favor one cash boy more than the rest.”

“Then he might have made you a present.”

“I don’t think it ever occurred to him, Seth. But how did you find me?
Did he give you my address?”

“No, that was not likely. Scott Walton–you must have known his mother,
my cousin Lucy–works in the same store. It was he who heard of your
trouble and reported it to me. Now tell me how you are situated.”

“We are likely to be turned out of these poor rooms, because we cannot
pay the rent. My eldest boy, Sam, has been sick, and as he earned six
dollars a week, it took most of our income from us. Next week I think he
will be able to go to work again.”

“This is a poor place for you, Mary.”

“We are glad of even this shelter. We are too poor to be particular.”

“Your income consists only of what the two boys earn?”

“I earn something by sewing, but I have no sewing machine, and the
prices paid are very low. Still, every little helps.”

“If you had a whole house and kept lodgers, you could make a better
income.”

“No doubt, and I think I could do it if I had the means. But with no
capital, that is out of the question,” she finished, with a sigh.

“I have a proposal to make to you. I have a room in a house on West
Sixteenth Street. It is a moderate sized house, and is to let
furnished. My present landlady is desirous of giving up the house, as
she wishes to be with her mother in the country, but she is tied by a
lease. Suppose you take it off her hands?”

“I should like nothing better, but you can judge whether an offer from
one so poor as myself would be accepted.”

“Don’t trouble yourself about that,” said Seth Lawton, quietly. “I will
arrange it all, and will retain my room. I may say that the rooms are
all taken, so that you would be sure of an income at once.”

“I should like the arrangement very much, and I should like especially
to have you with me, Seth; but it seems like a dream.”

“We will make it a reality. I will see Mrs. Field this evening, and call
on you again to-morrow. When does your month here expire?”

“In three days.”

“The time is short, but it is sufficient. You will hear from me very
soon. Meanwhile accept this small favor.” He drew from his pocket a
ten-dollar note, and handed it to the widow.

“You are too kind, Seth,” she said, gratefully. “You look poor yourself,
and—-”

“I never was in the habit of dressing very handsomely,” said Mr.
Lawton, smiling, “and just at present I look shabbier than usual.
Perhaps I have an object in it. At any rate, it is a fact. The help I
offer you will not embarrass me in the least.”

“What a difference between you and Ezra Little,” said Mrs. Mead. “He has
never offered me a dollar, though he knew me as well as you.”

“He acts according to his nature, Mary. Scott is an orphan–his father
died on the ship that brought them over from England–but Ezra treats
him as meanly as he has treated you and your boy. He makes him work for
his board, and has refused him a suit of clothes, though he stood in
need of it.”

Mr. Lawton remained for half an hour. Then he rose, and went downstairs,
followed by Scott.

“It is strange you should have met an old acquaintance, Cousin Seth,”
said Scott.

“More than an acquaintance, Scott. It may seem strange to you that an
old fellow like me should ever have been in love, but the time was when
I was in love with Mary Grant, and asked her to be my wife.”

“And she refused you?”

“Yes, Scott; I was fifteen years her senior, and she liked the man,
whom she soon after married, better. It was this disappointment chiefly
that led to my leaving England. I am very glad to have met Mary again.
Though years have passed I have not lost my attachment for her. I am
glad indeed that I can do the poor woman a service.”

His voice softened as he spoke, and it was clear that his early romance
was not dead.

“Mr. Mead was a handsome man,” continued Seth. “You can judge of that,
for the boy Willie looks like him. He made a good husband, I presume,
but he had not the knack of succeeding in life.”

“Like Mr. Little.”

“Yes, like Ezra Little.”

It occurred to Scott that the same thing might be said of Seth Lawton
himself, but he would not, of course, speak of it. He was beginning to
have a sincere respect and regard for Cousin Seth.

What matter if he were poor–at least compared with Ezra Little–he
evidently had a kind heart, and was inclined to be generous beyond his
means.

“All cannot become rich,” said Scott. “I wish you had Mr. Little’s
money, though.”

“Don’t wish that, Scott, for without that Ezra would be poor indeed. It
is all that he has to boast of.”

“I am afraid it will be the same with Loammi.”

“With this difference: Ezra, with all his faults, is enterprising and
industrious, and I don’t think his son will be either. In the race of
life you may eclipse him, after all.”

“It doesn’t seem much like it now.”

“No, but you are young yet, and time often works wonders.”

“Won’t it cost a good deal to set up Mrs. Mead in her new business?”
asked Scott, thoughtfully.

“Not very much. She will enter into a house fully furnished and
equipped, and with a sure and prompt income from a good set of lodgers.”

“I hope she will succeed.”

“I think she will. If Ezra would pay you wages, in place of giving you a
home in his house, you might take a room there, too.”

“I wish I could.”

“Well, it may come about some time. But look, there is Loammi.”

Yes, it was Loammi, sporting a light cane, and evidently on very good
terms with himself.

“Good-evening, Loammi,” said Cousin Seth.

“Good-evening, Mr. Lawton,” responded Loammi, patronizingly. “Are you
and Scott taking a walk?”

“Yes; and you?”

“Oh, I have been to call on a schoolmate. His father’s awful rich.”

“We, too, have been to make a call–on the mother of one of your
father’s cash boys.”

Loammi turned up his nose.

“You keep fashionable company,” he said.

“We are not fashionable, like you, Loammi,” said Scott, smiling.

“No, of course not,” answered Loammi, in a matter-of-course tone. “Well,
ta, ta!”

“I wonder how that boy will turn out!” said Cousin Seth, thoughtfully.

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