“How are you, Sam?” was Ben’s familiar greeting. “Want to go fishing with me?”
“He’s entirely too familiar,” thought Sam. “I’ll cure him of that when he is under my orders.”
At present Sam did not think it politic to express his feelings on the subject. Ben was so independent that it might frustrate his plan.
“I will walk along with you, Ben,” said Sam condescendingly.
“All right. Haven’t you got a fishing-pole at home?”
“Yes, I have a very handsome one; it cost five dollars.”
“Then it’s rather ahead of mine,” said Ben.
“I should say so,” remarked Sam, surveying Ben’s pole with contempt.
“But I’ll bet you can’t catch as many fish with it,” said Ben promptly. “I don’t think it makes much difference to the fish,” he added, with a laugh, “whther they are caught with a five-dollar pole or a five-cent one.”
“Very likely,” said Sam briefly, “but I prefer to use a nice pole.”
“Oh, there’s no objection,” said Ben, “if you fancy it. It doesn’t make any difference to me.”
“When are you going to work?” asked Sam abruptly.
“I am working every day-that is, I am helping Uncle Job.”
“But I suppose you mean to get regular work somewhere, don’t you?”
“What’s he after, I wonder?” thought Ben. “Maybe I do,” he said aloud.
“Perhaps I can throw something in your way,” said Sam, in a patronizing way.
“You are very kind,” said Ben, who supposed Sam had heard of some business position which he could fill. Our hero decided that perhaps he had misjudged the major’s son, and he was prepared to make amends. “If you get me a position, I shall be much obliged.”
“The fact is,” said Sam, “I should find it convenient to have a boy go about with me, and be at my orders. My Cousin Henry has one, and father says I may engage you.”
Ben faced round, and looked steadily at Sam. He felt that he would far rather work for Deacon Pitkin, in spite of his meager table, or toil twelve hours a day in his uncle’s shoe-shop, than accept such a place as was now offered him. He penetrated Sam’s motive, and felt incensed with him, though he did not choose to show it.
“What are you willing to pay?” asked Ben, in a businesslike tone.
“Five dollars a month and your board,” said Sam. “You’ll live better than you ever did before in your life, and your duties will be easy.”
“What would you want me to do?” asked Ben.
“Why, I would take you with me whenever I went out rowing or fishing. That would be easy enough. Then, in the morning you would black my shoes and keep my clothes well brushed, and go of any errands I had for you. Oh, well, I can’t tell you all you would have to do, but you’d have an easy time.”
“Yes, I don’t think it would tire me out,” said Ben. “You’d want me to black your boots?”