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 règle_.

“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.”

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