“Fowler, I believe.”
“I know him—he’s lately come. How did he get in with the old man?”
“Mr. Wharton fell in the street, and he happened to be near, and helped him home.”
“You’ll have to manage it, aunt.”
“I’ll see what I can do to-morrow. He ought to prefer my nephew to a strange boy, seeing I have been twenty years in his service. I’ll let you know as soon as I have accomplished anything.”
“I don’t half like the idea of giving up my evenings. I don’t believe I can stand it.”
“It is only for a little while, to get him interested in you.”
“Maybe I might try it a week, and then tell him my health was failing, and get him to do something else for me.”
“At any rate, the first thing must be to become acquainted.”
Thomas now withdrew, for he did not enjoy spending an evening with his aunt, the richer by five dollars, half of which was spent before the evening closed at a neighboring billiard saloon.
THE HOUSEKEEPER SCHEMING
If Mrs. Bradley had been wiser, she would have felt less confident of her nephew’s producing a favorable impression upon Mr. Wharton. She resolved to open the subject at the breakfast table.
“I didn’t know, Mr. Wharton,” she commenced, “that you intended to engage a reader.”
“Nor did I propose to do so until last evening.”
“I think—you’ll excuse me for saying so—that you will find that boy too young to suit you.”
“I don’t think so. He reads very clearly and distinctly.”
“If I had known you thought of engaging a reader, I would have asked you to engage my nephew.”
“Indeed, I was not aware that you had a nephew in the city. Is he a boy?”
“No; he is a young man. He was twenty years old last June.”
“Is he unfavorably situated?”
“He has a place as salesman.”
“With what firm?”
“Gilbert & Mack.”
“Why, that is the same firm that employs my young friend. It is a good firm.”
“Perhaps it is, but my poor nephew receives a very small salary. He finds it very hard to get along.”
“Your nephew is young. He will be promoted if he serves his employers well.”
“Thomas would have been glad to read to you in the evening, sir,” said Mrs. Bradley, commencing the attack.
“But for my present engagement, I might have taken him,” said Mr. Wharton, politely.
“Have you engaged that boy for any length of time?”
“No; but it is understood that he will stay while I need him, and he continues to suit me. I have a favorable opinion of him. Besides, he needs the pay. He receives but three dollars a week as a cash-boy, and has a sister to support as well as himself.”
“I am sorry,” she said in an injured tone. “I hope you’ll excuse my mentioning it, but I took the liberty, having been for twenty years in your employ.”