The Bread-winners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Bread-winners.
be had to supply this sick lady with the ordinary conveniences of life, and she died in his arms, on the hot prairie, in the shade of an overloaded baggage wagon.  He mourned her with the passing grief one gives to a comrade fallen on the field of honor.  Often since he left the army, he reproached himself for not have grieved for her more deeply.  “Poor Nellie,” he would sometimes say, “how she would have enjoyed this house, if she had lived to possess it.”  But he never had that feeling of widowhood known to those whose lives have been torn in two.

IV.

PROTECTOR AND PROTEGEE.

A few days later, Mr. Farnham attended a meeting of the library board, and presented the name of Miss Matchin as a candidate for a subordinate place in the library.  There were several such positions, requiring no special education or training, the duties of which could be as well filled by Miss Maud as by any one else.  She had sent several strong letters of recommendation to the board, from prominent citizens who knew and respected her father, for when Maud informed him of her new ambition, Matchin entered heartily into the affair, and bestirred himself to use what credit he had in the ward to assist her.

Maud had not exaggerated the effect of her blandishments upon Dr. Buchlieber.  The old gentleman spoke in her favor with great fluency; “she was young, healthy, active, intelligent, a graduate of the high school.”

“And very pretty, is she not?” asked a member of the board, maliciously.

The Doctor colored, but was not abashed.  He gazed steadily at the interrupter through his round glasses, and said: 

“Yes, she is very fine looking—­but I do not see that that should stand in her way.”

Not another word was said against her, and a ballot was taken to decide the question.  There were five members of the board, three besides Farnham and Buchlieber.  Maud had two votes, and a young woman whose name had not been mentioned received the other three.  Buchlieber counted the ballots, and announced the vote.  Farnham flushed with anger.  Not only had no attention been paid to his recommendation, but he had not even been informed that there was another candidate.  In a few sarcastic words he referred to the furtive understanding existing among the majority, and apologized for having made such a mistake as to suppose they cared to hear the merits of appointees discussed.

The three colleagues sat silent.  At last, one of them crossed his legs anew and said: 

“I’m sure nobody meant any offence.  We agreed on this lady several days ago.  I know nothing about her, but her father used to be one of our best workers in the seventh ward.  He is in the penitentiary now, and the family is about down to bedrock.  The reason we didn’t take part in the discussion was we wanted to avoid hard feelings.”

The other two crossed their legs the other way, and said they “concurred.”

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The Bread-winners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.