“No, we wouldn’t,” answered Sam.
“Do you know of any one around here?”
“Yes; there is Ben Stanton. He’s got to find something to do.”
“I thought you didn’t like Ben Stanton,” said the major, in some surprise. “I have heard you say-”
“Oh, he’s rather uppish-feels too big for a poor boy; but I would soon train him. I’d make him know his place.”
“Your remarks are well founded, my son. Only yesterday I met the boy on the village street, and instead of taking off his hat and making a low bow, as he should do to a man of my position, he nodded carelessly, and said. ‘How are you, major?’ Really, I don’t know what the country is coming to, when the rising generation is so deficient in veneration.”
“The fact is, father, Ben thinks himself as good as anybody. You’d think, by the way he speaks to me, that he considered himself my equal.”
“That is one of the evils incident to a republican form of government,” said the major pompously. “For my part, I prefer the English social system, where the gentry are treated with proper deference.”
“Well, father, may I engage Ben as my servant?”
“I am afraid you would not find him properly subordinate.”
“Just leave that to me,” said Sam confidently. “If I can’t teach him his place, then nobody can. I should enjoy having him to order about.”
Sam generally carried his point with his father, and the present instance was no exception.
“I don’t know that I have any particular objection,” said the major.
“How much wages may I offer, father?”
“The same that your Cousin Henry’s servant gets.”
“All right, sir,” said Sam, with satisfaction. “I guess I’ll go round, and see him about it this afternoon. I suppose he can come any time?”
“Yes, my son.”
As Sam went out of the room his father thought, complacently:
“My son has all the pride and instincts of a gentleman. He will do credit to the family.”
Few persons in the village would have agreed with the major. Sam Sturgis was decidedly unpopular. No boy who puts on airs is likely to be a favorite with any class of persons, and Sam put on rather more than he was entitled to. From time to time he received a rebuff, but still money will tell. He had his followers and sycophants, but we may be sure that Ben was not numbered among them. It was quite useless for Sam to patronize him-he would not be patronized, but persisted in treating the major’s son with the most exasperating familiarity. Of course this would be impossible if he became Sam’s servant, and this more than anything else was the motive of the young aristocrat in wishing to engage him. As to conferring a favor on Ben, that was the last thing in his thoughts.
Sam bent his steps toward the humble home of Job Stanton, but he did not have to go the whole distance. He met Ben with a fishing-pole over his shoulder.