In the evening Deacon Pitkin came over to see Job Stanton, and renewed his offer for Ben’s services.
“The boy’s got wild idees about pay,” he said; “but boys haven’t much jedgment. You’re a sensible man, Mr. Stanton, and you and me can make a fair bargain.”
“It won’t be of much use, Deacon Pitkin. Ben’s got his idees, an’ he sticks to ’em.”
“But you’re his uncle. You can make him see his true interest.”
“Ben’s young,” said Job, suspending his work; “but he’s got to look out for himself. He may make mistakes, but I’ve promised not to interfere. I’ve got confidence in him that he’ll come out right in the end. Truth is, deacon, he don’t want to work at farmin’, and that’s why he asked you such a steep price. He knew you wouldn’t agree to give it.”
This put the matter in a new light, and Deacon Pitkin reluctantly concluded that he must abandon the idea of obtaining Ben as a helper on his farm.
Sam Sturgis’ new idea.
During the week which Ben had agreed to take before coming to a final decision, he had another offer of employment.
This is how it came about:
A little out of the village, in a handsome house, the best in Hampton, lived Major Sturgis, a wealthy landholder, who had plenty to live upon and nothing in particular to do, except to look after his property. He was a portly man, who walked with a slow, dignified step, leaning on a gold-headed cane, and evidently felt his importance. His son, Sam, was a chip of the old block. He condescended to associate with the village boys, because solitary grandeur is not altogether pleasant. He occasionally went to New York to visit a cousin of about his own age. From such a visit he had just returned, bringing back with him a new idea.
“Father,” he said, “Cousin Henry has a boy about his own age to wait on him, black his boots, and run errands.”
“Has he?” asked the major mechanically, not looking up from the daily paper which he was reading.
“Yes, sir. He don’t pay him much, you know, only five dollars a month and his board, and Henry finds it very convenient.”
Major Sturgis did not reply. In fact, he was too much interested in the article he was reading.
“Ain’t you as rich as uncle?” asked Sam, who was gradually leading up to his proposal.
“Yes, Sam, I think so,” answered his father, laying down the paper and removing his gold-bowed spectacles.
“Then why won’t you let me have a servant, too?”
“What do you want of a servant? There are servants enough in the house.”
“I want a boy to follow me round, and do just what I bid him.”
“I don’t see any necessity for it.”
“He could do errands for you, too, father,” said Sam diplomatically.
“We would have to send to the city for a boy, in case I let you have one.”