“I am describing myself, Frank. A year since I strained my eyes very severely, and have never dared to use them much since by gaslight. Mrs. Bradley, my housekeeper, has read to me some, but she has other duties, and I don’t think she enjoys it very much. Now, why shouldn’t I get you to read to me in the evening when you are not otherwise employed?”
“I wish you would, Mr. Wharton,” said Frank, eagerly. “I would do my best.”
“I have no doubt of that, but there is another question—perhaps you might ask a higher salary than I could afford to pay.”
“Would a dollar a week be too much?” asked Frank.
“I don’t think I could complain of that,” said Mr. Wharton, gravely. “Very well, I will engage you as my reader.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“But about the pay; I have made up my mind to pay you five dollars a week.”
“Five dollars a week!” Frank repeated. “It is much more than my services will be worth sir.”
“Let me judge of that, Frank.”
“I don’t know how to thank you, sir,” said Frank, gratefully. “I never expected to be so rich. I shall have no trouble in paying for Grace’s board and clothes now. When do you want me to begin reading to you?”
“You may as well begin to-night—that is, unless you have some other engagement.”
“Oh, no, sir, I have nothing else to do.”
“Take the Evening Post, then, and read me the leading editorial. Afterward, I will tell you what to read.”
Frank had been reading about half an hour, when a knock was heard at the door.
“Come in,” said Mr. Wharton.
Mrs. Bradley entered, with a soft, quiet step.
“I thought, sir,” she began, “you might like me to read to you, as usual.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Bradley, but I am going to relieve you of that portion of your labors. My young friend here is to come every evening and read to me.”
“Indeed!” ejaculated the housekeeper in a tone of chilly displeasure, and a sharp glance at Frank, which indicated no great amount of cordiality. “Then, as I am intruding, I will take my leave.”
There was something in her tone that made Frank feel uncomfortable.
THE HOUSEKEEPER’S NEPHEW
“By no means,” said Mr. Wharton, as the housekeeper was about to withdraw; “don’t imagine you are intruding. Come in and sit down.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Mrs. Bradley, in a measured tone. “You are very considerate, I am sure, but if you’ll excuse me, I won’t come in this evening.”
“Mrs. Bradley has been with me a good many years,” explained Mr. Wharton, “and I dare say she feels a little disturbed at seeing another occupy her place, even in a duty like this.”
“I am afraid she will be offended with me, sir,” said Frank.
“Oh, no; I will explain matters to her. Go on with your reading, Frank.”