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.
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
“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?”
“I say, are you working 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.
“He looks sly. I am something of a judge of faces, and I don’t like
“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
Ezra Little, turning his glance in the direction of Scott, eyed him
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Yes, by you. You knew just where to look for it, for you concealed it
“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?”
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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,
“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
“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
“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?”
“I am afraid not,” he answered; “but you have another relative who would
be glad to help you.”
“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
“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,
“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
“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
“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
“Am I?” asked Seth, looking amused. “You seem to know a good deal about
“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
“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.”