“What was that, Paul?”
“About the wages.”
“How much will they give you?”
“Only a dollar and a quarter a week, at first.”
“That is small, to be sure.”
“The most I think of, Uncle Hugh, is, that I shall still be an expense to you. I hoped to get enough to be able to pay my board from the first.”
“My dear boy,” said the sexton, kindly, “don’t trouble yourself on that score. It costs little more for three than for two, and the little I expend on your account is richly made up by the satisfaction we feel in your society, and your good conduct.”
“You say that to encourage me, Uncle Hugh,” said Paul. “You have done all for me. I have done nothing for you.”
“No, Paul, I spoke the truth. Hester and I have both been happier since you came to us. We hope you will long remain with us. You are already as dear to us as the son that we lost.”
“Thank you, Uncle Hugh,” said Paul, in a voice tremulous with feeling. “I will do all I can to deserve your kindness.”
Smith and Thompson’s young man.
At seven o’clock the next morning Paul stood before Smith & Thompson’s store.
As he came up on one side, another boy came down on the other, and crossed the street.
“Are you the new boy?” he asked, surveying Paul attentively.
“I suppose so,” said Paul. “I’ve engaged to work for Smith & Thompson.”
“All right. I’m glad to see you,” said the other.
This looked kind, and Paul thanked him for his welcome.
“O.” said the other, bursting into a laugh, “you needn’t trouble yourself about thanking me. I’m glad you’ve come, because now I shan’t have to open the store and sweep out. Just lend a hand there; I’ll help you about taking down the shutters this morning, and to-morrow you’ll have to get along alone.”
The two boys opened the store.
“What’s your name?” asked Paul’s new acquaintance.
“Paul Prescott. What is yours?”
“Nicholas Benton. You may call me Mr. Benton.”
“Mr. Benton?” repeated Paul in some astonishment.
“Yes; I’m a young man now. I’ve been Smith & Thompson’s boy till now. Now I’m promoted.”
Paul looked at Mr. Benton with some amusement. That young man was somewhat shorter than himself, and sole proprietor of a stock of pale yellow hair which required an abundant stock of bear’s grease to keep it in order. His face was freckled and expressionless. His eyebrows and eyelashes were of the same faded color. He was dressed, however, with some pretensions to smartness. He wore a blue necktie, of large dimensions, fastened by an enormous breast-pin, which, in its already tarnished splendor, suggested strong doubts as to the apparent gold being genuine.
“There’s the broom, Paul,” said Mr. Benton, assuming a graceful position on the counter.