This year there would be no such trouble. Livingstone was pleased at the thought; for Clark was a good fellow, and a capable bookkeeper, even though he was a trifle slow.
Livingstone felt that he had, in a way, a high regard for Clark. He was attentive to his duties, beyond words. He was a gentleman, too,—of a first-rate family—a man of principle. How he could ever have been content to remain a simple clerk all these years, Livingstone could not understand. It gave him a certain contempt for him. That came, he reflected, of a man’s marrying indiscreetly and having a houseful of children on his back.
Clark would be pleased at the showing on the books. He was always delighted when the balances showed a marked increase.
Livingstone was glad now that he had not only paid the old clerk extra for his night-work last year, but had given him fifty dollars additional, partly because of the trouble in his family, and partly because Livingstone had been unusually irritated when Clark got the two accounts confused.
Livingstone prided himself on his manner to his employees. He prided himself on being a gentleman, and it was a mark of a gentleman always to treat subordinates with civility. He knew men in the city who were absolute bears to their employees; but they were blackguards.
He, perhaps, ought to have discharged Clark without a word; that would have been “business;” but really he ought not to have spoken to him as he did. Clark undoubtedly acted with dignity. Livingstone had had to apologize to him and ask him to remain, and had made the amend (to himself) by giving him fifty dollars extra for the ten nights’ work. He could only justify the act now by reflecting that Clark had more than once suggested investments which had turned out most fortunately.
Livingstone determined to give Clark this year a hundred dollars—no, fifty—he must not spoil him, and it really was not “business.”
The thought of his liberality brought to Livingstone’s mind the donations that he always made at the close of the year. He might as well send off the cheques now.
He took from a locked drawer his private cheque-book and turned the stubs thoughtfully. He had had that cheque-book for a good many years. He used to give away a tenth of his income. His father before him used to do that. He remembered, with a smile, how large the sums used to seem to him. He turned back the stubs only to see how small a tenth used to be. He no longer gave a tenth or a twentieth or even a—he had no difficulty in deciding the exact percentage he gave; for whenever he thought now of the sum he was worth, the figures themselves, in clean-cut lines, popped before his eyes. It was very curious. He could actually see them in his own handwriting. He rubbed his eyes, and the figures disappeared.