“Yes, sir,” said Paul.
The next day Paul resumed his place in Mr. Danforth’s counting-room.
Paul redeems his pledge.
Two years passed, unmarked by any incident of importance. Paul continued in Mr. Danforth’s employment, giving, if possible, increased satisfaction. He was not only faithful, but exhibited a rare aptitude for business, which made his services of great value to his employer. From time to time Mr. Danforth increased his salary, so that, though only nineteen, he was now receiving twelve dollars per week, with the prospect of a speedy increase. But with his increasing salary, he did not increase his expenses. He continued as economical as ever. He had not forgotten his father’s dying injunction. He remained true to the charge which he had taken upon himself, that of redeeming his father’s memory from reproach. This, at times subjected him to the imputation of meanness, but for this he cared little. He would not swerve from the line of duty which he had marked out.
One evening as he was walking down Broadway with an acquaintance, Edward Hastings, who was employed in a counting-room near him, they paused before a transparency in front of a hall brilliantly lighted.
“The Hutchinsons are going to sing to-night, Paul,” said Hastings. “Did you ever hear them?”
“No; but I have often wished to.”
“Then suppose we go in.”
“No, I believe not.”
“Why not. Paul? It seems to me you never go anywhere. You ought to amuse yourself now and then.”
“Some other time I will,—not now.”
“You are not required to be at home in the evening, are you?”
“Then why not come in now? It’s only twenty-five cents.”
“To tell the truth, Ned, I am saving up my money for a particular purpose; and until that is accomplished, I avoid all unnecessary expense.”
“Going to invest in a house in Fifth Avenue? When you do, I’ll call. However, never mind the expense. I’ll pay you in.”
“I’m much obliged to you, Ned, but I can’t accept.”
“Because at present I can’t afford to return the favor.”
“Never mind that.”
“But I do mind it. By-and-by I shall feel more free. Good-night, if you are going in.”
“He’s a strange fellow,” mused Hastings.
“It’s impossible to think him mean, and yet, it looks a great deal like it. He spends nothing for dress or amusements. I do believe that I’ve had three coats since he’s been wearing that old brown one. Yet, he always looks neat. I wonder what he’s saving up his money for.”
Meanwhile Paul went home.
The sexton and his wife looked the same as ever. Paul sometimes fancied that Uncle Hugh stooped a little more than he used to do; but his life moved on so placidly and evenly, that he grew old but slowly. Aunt Hester was the same good, kind, benevolent friend that she had always been. No mother could have been more devoted to Paul. He felt that he had much to be grateful for, in his chance meeting with this worthy couple.