“I shall be very glad to undertake it, sir. Anything is better than idleness.”
“As to the compensation, that shall be the same that you have been accustomed to earn by your trade—two dollars a day.”
“I only received that in the best times,” said Timothy, conscientiously.
“Your services as porter will be worth that amount, and I will cheerfully pay it. I will expect you to-morrow morning at eight, if you can be here at that time.”
“I will be here promptly.”
“You are married, I suppose?” said the merchant, inquiringly.
“Yes, sir; I am blessed with a good wife.”
“I am glad of that. Stay a moment.”
Mr. Merriam went to his desk, and presently came back with a sealed envelope.
“Give that to your wife,” he said.
“Thank you, sir.”
Here the interview terminated, and the cooper went home quite elated by his success. His present engagement would enable him to bridge over the dull time, until his trade revived, and save him from incurring debts, of which he had a just horror.
“You are just in time, Timothy,” said Mrs. Harding, cheerfully, as he entered. “We’ve got an apple pudding to-day.”
“I see you haven’t forgotten what I like, Martha.”
“There’s no knowing how long you’ll be able to afford puddings,” said Rachel, dolefully. “To my mind it’s extravagant to have meat and pudding both, when a month hence you may be in the poorhouse.”
“Then,” said Jack, “I wouldn’t eat any if I were you, Aunt Rachel.”
“Oh, if you grudge me the little I eat,” said his aunt, in serene sorrow, “I will go without.”
“Tut, Rachel! nobody grudges you anything here,” said her brother; “and as to the poorhouse, I’ve got some good news to tell you that will put that thought out of your head.”
“What is it?” asked Mrs. Harding, looking up brightly.
“I have found employment.”
“Not at your trade?”
“No; but at something else which will pay equally well till trade revives.”
Here he told the chance by which he was enabled to serve Mr. Merriam the evening previous, and then he gave an account of his visit to the merchant’s countingroom, and the engagement which he had made.
“You are indeed fortunate, Timothy,” said his wife, her face beaming with pleasure. “Two dollars a day, and we’ve got nearly the whole of the money left that came with this dear child. Why, we shall be getting rich soon!”
“Well, Rachel, have you no congratulations to offer?” asked the cooper of his sister, who, in subdued sorrow, was eating as if it gave her no pleasure, but was rather a self-imposed penance.
“I don’t see anything so very fortunate in being engaged as a porter,” said Rachel, lugubriously. “I heard of a porter once who had a great box fall upon him and kill him instantly; and I was reading in the Sun yesterday of another out West somewhere who committed suicide.”