“Perhaps you do. But I don’t give it to Herbert because he earns it, for it is not likely that he will do so at present. But he has no other resources. You have a comfortable home, and are not obliged to pay for your board out of your wages.”
“No, I hope not,” said Tom.
“Therefore you do not need as much as he does. You are not entitled to this explanation, but I give it, nevertheless, that you may know my motives.”
Tom did not reply, feeling that it would be imprudent to do so, but he bent sullenly to his work, by no mans satisfied with the explanation. He began to feel a dislike for his cousin, and determined to injure him, if he could, in the estimation of the firm. It would have been satisfactory if he could have looked down upon him as an inferior, but that was not easy.
“I hope the fellow won’t find out the relationship between us,” he said to himself. “He’d be calling me Cousin Tom all the time, and I don’t care about owning a cousin that lives in Stanton Street.”
Tom need not have troubled himself. Herbert had no idea of claiming relationship, though, as we know, he was fully aware of its existence.
A FAMILY COUNCIL
As soon as he was released from business, Tom Stanton hurried home to impart the unexpected intelligence that his cousin Herbert had arrived in the city. As might be expected, the news gave no particular pleasure in the Stanton homestead.
“Did you tell him who you were, Thomas?” asked his mother.
“Catch me doing it!” said Tom. “I ain’t quite a fool. I don’t care about owning any pauper relations.”
“He isn’t a pauper,” said Mr. Stanton, who, hard man of the world as he was, could not forget that Herbert was the son of his sister.
“He’s the next door to it,” said Tom, carelessly.
“Thomas is right,” said Mrs. Stanton. “You may depend upon it, Mr. Stanton, that when this boy finds you out, he will apply to you for assistance.”
“Possibly he may.”
“I hope you won’t be such a fool as to encourage him in his application.”
“If he were in actual distress, my dear,” said Mr. Stanton, “I should feel that I ought to do something.”
“Then you’d allow yourself to be imposed upon, that’s all I’ve got to say. There is no need of his being in distress. He is a stout boy, and capable of earning his own living.”
“He might get sick,” suggested Mr. Stanton, who was not so hard-hearted as his wife.
“Then let him go to the hospital. It’s provided for such cases.”
“Is Herbert good-looking?” asked Maria, with interest.
“He won’t get a prize for his beauty,” said Tom, disparagingly.
“Is he homely?”
“No,” said Tom, reluctantly. “I suppose he’ll pass; but he’s countrified. He hasn’t got any style,” and he glanced complacently at his own reflection in a mirror, for Tom was vain of his personal appearance, though by no means as good-looking as Herbert. In fact, he was compelled secretly to confess this to himself, and for this reason was more than ever disposed to view his cousin with prejudice.