Theron was interested in finding that this office-boy was no other than Harvey—the lad who brought milk to the parsonage every morning. He remembered now that he had heard good things of this urchin, as to the hard work he did to help his mother, the Widow Semple, in her struggle to keep a roof over her head; and also bad things, in that he did not come regularly either to church or Sunday-school. The clergyman recalled, too, that Harvey had impressed him as a character.
“Well, sonny, are you going to be a lawyer?” he asked, as he seated himself by the window, and looked about him, first at the dusty litter of old papers, pamphlets, and tape-bound documents in bundles which crowded the stuffy chamber, and then at the boy himself.
Harvey was busy at a big box—a rough pine dry-goods box which bore the flaring label of an express company, and also of a well-known seed firm in a Western city, and which the boy had apparently just opened. He was lifting from it, and placing on the table after he had shaken off the sawdust and moss in which they were packed, small parcels of what looked in the fading light to be half-dried plants.
“Well, I don’t know—I rather guess not,” he made answer, as he pursued his task. “So far as I can make out, this wouldn’t be the place to start in at, if I was going to be a lawyer. A boy can learn here first-rate how to load cartridges and clean a gun, and braid trout-flies on to leaders, but I don’t see much law laying around loose. Anyway,” he went on, “I couldn’t afford to read law, and not be getting any wages. I have to earn money, you know.”
Theron felt that he liked the boy. “Yes,” he said, with a kindly tone; “I’ve heard that you are a good, industrious youngster. I daresay Mr. Gorringe will see to it that you get a chance to read law, and get wages too.”
“Oh, I can read all there is here and welcome,” the boy explained, stepping toward the window to decipher the label on a bundle of roots in his hand, “but that’s no good unless there’s regular practice coming into the office all the while. That’s how you learn to be a lawyer. But Gorringe don’t have what I call a practice at all. He just sees men in the other room there, with the door shut, and whatever there is to do he does it all himself.”
The minister remembered a stray hint somewhere that Mr. Gorringe was a money-lender—what was colloquially called a “note-shaver.” To his rustic sense, there was something not quite nice about that occupation. It would be indecorous, he felt, to encourage further talk about it from the boy.
“What are you doing there?” he inquired, to change the subject.
“Sorting out some plants,” replied Harvey. “I don’t know what’s got into Gorringe lately. This is the third big box he’s had since I’ve been here—that is, in six weeks—besides two baskets full of rose-bushes. I don’t know what he does with them. He carries them off himself somewhere. I’ve had kind of half a notion that he’s figurin’ on getting married. I can’t think of anything else that would make a man spend money like water—just for flowers and bushes. They do get foolish, you know, when they’ve got marriage on the brain.”