“I can get on with half of it,” said John confidently.
“We will settle that matter afterward,” said Mr. Lenox.
They sat in silence for some minutes, John staring thoughtfully at the table, unconscious of the occasional scrutiny of his father’s glance. At last he said, “Well, sir, I will do anything that you advise.”
“Have you anything to urge against it?” asked Mr. Lenox.
“Not exactly on my own account,” replied John, “though I admit that the three years or more seems a long time to me, but I have been drawing on you exclusively all my life, except for the little money I earned in Rush & Company’s office, and—”
“You have done so, my dear boy,” said his father gently, “with my acquiescence. I may have been wrong, but that is a fact. If in my judgment the arrangement may be continued for a while longer, and in the mean time you are making progress toward a definite end, I think you need have no misgivings. It gratifies me to have you feel as you do, though it is no more than I should have expected of you, for you have never caused me any serious anxiety or disappointment, my son.”
Often in the after time did John thank God for that assurance.
“Thank you, sir,” he said, putting down his hand, palm upward, on the table, and his eyes filled as the elder man laid his hand in his, and they gave each other a lingering pressure.
Mr. Lenox divided the last of the wine in the bottle between the two glasses, and they drank it in silence, as if in pledge.
“I will go in to see Carey & Carey in the morning, and if they are agreeable you can see them afterward,” said Mr. Lenox. “They are not one of the great firms, but they have a large and good practice, and they are friends of mine. Shall I do so?” he asked, looking at his son.
“If you will be so kind,” John replied, returning his look. And so the matter was concluded.
This history will not concern itself to any extent with our friend’s career as a law clerk, though, as he promised himself, he took it seriously and laboriously while it lasted, notwithstanding that after two years of being his own master, and the rather desultory and altogether congenial life he had led, he found it at first even more irksome than he had fancied. The novice penetrates but slowly the mysteries of the law, and, unless he be of unusual aptitude and imagination, the interesting and remunerative part seems for a long time very far off. But John stuck manfully to the reading, and was diligent in all that was put upon him to do; and after a while the days spent in the office and in the work appointed to him began to pass more quickly.