Roswell kept on his way with his heavy bundle, more discontented than ever.
The bundle seemed heavier than ever. Dick had no such bundles to carry. He ha_n easier time, his business position was better, and his wages more tha_ouble. And all this in spite of the glaring fact that Roswell was _entleman's son, and Dick wasn't. Surely fortune was very blind, and unfair i_he distribution of her favors.
"I suppose he'll be crowing over me," thought Roswell, bitterly, judging fro_hat would have been his own feeling had the case been reversed. "I hope he'l_ave to go back to boot-blacking some day. I wish mother'd buy me a gold watc_nd chain. There'd be some sense in _my_ wearing it."
Roswell evidently thought it very inappropriate that Dick should wear _andsome gold watch, more especially as he was quite sure beforehand that hi_other would not gratify his own desire to possess one. Still he resolved t_sk.
There was another thing he meant to ask. Feeling that his services were wort_ore than the wages he received, and convincing himself that his employer_ould be unwilling to lose him, he determined to ask an advance of two dollar_ week, making six dollars in all. Not that he considered that even this woul_ay him, but as he could hardly hope that he would be appreciated according t_is deserts, he limited his request to that sum. He concluded to defer makin_is application until Saturday evening, when he would receive his week'_ages.
He consulted his mother upon this subject, and she, having nearly as high a_pinion of her promising son as he had himself, consented to the application.
If his cousin, James Gilbert, had heard of his intention, he was enough of _usiness man to have dissuaded him from the attempt. Though he saw fit t_spouse the cause of Roswell against Dick, it was more because he disliked th_atter than because he was blind to the faults of the former. Indeed, he had _ery moderate opinion of his young cousin's capabilities.
The days slipped by, and Saturday night came. It was nine o'clock befor_oswell was released, the Saturday-night trade being the best of the week. Th_ther clerks had been paid, Roswell's turn coming last, because he was th_oungest.
The designation of the firm was Hall & Turner. Mr. Hall, the senior partner, usually went home early in the evening; and Mr. Turner, the junior partner, _an of about thirty-five, attended to the evening business, and paid th_eekly wages.
"Here, Crawford," he said, counting out four one dollar bills; "it's your tur_ow."
"I want to speak to you for a moment, Mr. Turner," said Roswell, beginning t_eel a little nervous; for now that the time had come for making his request, he felt a little uncertain how it would be received.
"Very well," said his employer, showing a little surprise; "be quick about it, for I want to get through."
"I want to know if you will not be willing to raise my wages," said Roswell, rather awkwardly.
"On what ground do you ask for it?" said Mr. Turner, looking up.
"I thought I might be worth more," said Roswell.
"How long have you been in my employment,—do you remember?"
"About four months," said Roswell.
"Do you think you have learned enough in that time to make you worth more?"
"Yes, sir," said Roswell, with a little hesitation.
"How much more would satisfy you?"
"Two dollars more,—for the present," said Roswell, beginning to feel a littl_opeful.
"That is six dollars a week."
"And how soon would you expect another advance?" asked Mr. Turner, quietly.
"In about six months."
"You are quite moderate in your demands, certainly."
There was something in Mr. Turner's tone which struck Roswell as unfavorable, and he hastily said in his own justification:—
"There's a friend of mine, no older than I am, who gets ten dollars a week."
Certainly Roswell must have spoken inadvertently, or he would hardly hav_eferred to Dick as his friend; but his main idea at present was to produce a_mpression upon the mind of Mr. Turner.
"Is your friend in a dry goods store?" asked Mr. Turner.
"Then I don't see that his wages have any bearing upon your case. There may b_ome special circumstances that affect his compensation. How long has he bee_n the service of his present employer?"
"Only a week or two."
"Is this his first place?"
"It may be that he is some relative of his employer."
"That isn't very likely," said Roswell, his lip curling. "He used to be _oot-black about the streets."
"Indeed!" said Mr. Turner, keenly. "I think you said he was a friend o_ours."
"No, sir," said Roswell, proudly; "I haven't the honor."
"You certainly said 'There's a friend of mine, no older than I am, who get_en dollars a week.'"
"I didn't mean to speak of him as my friend," said Roswell; "I'm a gentleman'_on."
"If you are, his friendship might do you no harm. If he receives the wages yo_tate, he must be a smart fellow. If he didn't earn as much, probably he woul_ot receive it."
"I don't believe he'll keep his place long," muttered Roswell, his wish bein_ather to the thought.
"If he doesn't, you may be able to succeed him," said Mr. Turner. "I shall b_ompelled to refuse your request. Indeed, so far from increasing you_ompensation, I have been considering during the last week whether it woul_ot be for my interest to get another boy in your place."
"Sir!" exclaimed Roswell, in dismay.
"I will give you my reasons. You appear to think yourself of too grea_onsequence to discharge properly the duties of your position."
"I don't understand you, sir," stammered Roswell.
"I believe you claim to be a gentleman's son."
"Yes, sir," said Roswell. "My father used to keep a store on Broadway."
"And I am led to suppose you think it incompatible with your dignity to carr_undles to different parts of the city."
"I would rather stand behind the counter and sell goods," said Roswell.
"Of course you will be a salesman in time, if you stick to busines_aithfully. But it so happens that we didn't hire you as a salesman, but as _oy, whose chief business it should be to carry bundles. But we don't want t_mpose a disagreeable duty upon you. Therefore, if you think upon reflectio_hat you would prefer not to continue in your situation, we will hire somebod_lse."
"That won't be necessary, sir," said Roswell, considerably crest-fallen.
"You are content, then, to remain?"
"And upon four dollars a week?"
"Yes, sir. I suppose I may hope to have my wages increased some time?"
"When we find your services worth more, you shall receive more," said Mr.
Turner. "That is fair,—isn't it?"
"Then here is your money. I didn't mean to talk so long; but it's as well t_ome to an understanding."
Roswell left the store considerably crest-fallen. He found that, instead o_egarding him worth an advance of wages, Mr. Turner had had it in his mind t_ischarge him; and that hurt his pride. It was certainly very singular tha_eople shouldn't be more impressed with the fact that he was a gentleman'_on. He could not have received less deference if he had been an ex-boot- black, like Dick himself. He certainly was no more contented than before, no_as his self-appreciation materially diminished. If the world did no_ecognize his claims, there was one comfort, his mother appreciated him, an_e appreciated himself. As to his cousin, he did not feel quite so certain.
"Why are you so late, Roswell?" asked his mother, looking up from her work a_e entered. "It seems to me they kept you later than usual at the store, eve_or Saturday evening."
"I'm sick of the store," said Roswell, impatiently.
"What's the matter?"
"I asked old Turner to-night if he wouldn't raise my wages," said Roswell.
"Well, what did he say?"
"He said he wouldn't do it."
"Did he give any reason?"
"He said I didn't earn any more. He's a stingy old hunks, any way, and I wis_ was in another place."
"So do I; but it isn't so easy to get a new position. You had better stay i_his till another offers."
"I hate carrying bundles through the streets. It isn't fit work for _entleman's son."
"Ah, if your poor father had lived, things would have been very different wit_s all!" said Mrs. Crawford, with a sigh. She chose to forget that previous t_is death her late husband's habits had been such that he contributed ver_ittle to the comfort or support of the family.
"I wouldn't care if I were a salesman," continued Roswell; "but I don't lik_eing an errand boy. I'd just as lives go to the post-office for letters, o_o the bank with money, but, as for carrying big bundles of calico under m_rm, I don't like it. I was walking on Madison Avenue the other day with _en-pound bundle, when the boot-black came up, dressed handsomely, with a gol_atch and chain, and exulted over me for carrying such a big bundle."
There was a little exaggeration about this, for Dick was very far fro_xulting over Roswell, otherwise he certainly would not have volunteered t_arry the bundle himself. But it often happens that older persons than Roswel_re not above a little misrepresentation now and then.
"He's an impudent fellow, then!" said Mrs. Crawford, indignantly. "Then Mr.
Hall won't raise your wages?"
"It wasn't Mr. Hall I asked. It was Mr. Turner," said Roswell.
"Didn't he hold out any hopes of raising your wages hereafter?"
"He said he would raise them when I deserve it. He don't amount to much. He'_o gentleman," said Roswell, scornfully.
"Who's no gentleman?" inquired James Gilbert, who chanced just then to ente_he room.
"Who's Mr. Turner?"
"My employer,—Hall & Turner, you know."
"What's amiss with him?"
"I asked him to raise my wages to-night, and he wouldn't."
"Umph! How much did you ask for?"
"Two dollars more a week."
"You're a fool!"
" _What!_ " said Roswell, astonished.
"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Crawford, angrily.
"I say the lad's a fool to ask for so large an advance so soon. Of course hi_mployers refused it. I would, in their place."
"You're very hard upon the poor boy!" said Mrs. Crawford. "I thought you wer_is friend."
"So I am; but he's acted foolishly for all that. He should have known better."
"I ought to be worth six dollars, if your boot-black is worth ten," responde_oswell.
"He isn't worth ten."
"Why do you pay him that, then?"
"It's Mr. Rockwell who pays him, not I. Why he does it, I can't say. It isn'_ecause he earns it. No boy of his age, or yours either, can earn ten dollar_ week."
"At any rate he gets ten, and I get only four. I certainly earn more tha_hat," said Roswell.
"I am not so sure about that," said his cousin. "But if it will afford you an_omfort, I'll venture to make the prediction that he won't remain in Rockwell & Cooper's employment a week longer."
"Has anything happened?" asked Roswell, eagerly.
" _Not yet_ ," said James Gilbert, significantly.
"Then something is going to happen?"
"You need not trouble yourself to ask questions. Wait patiently, and whe_nything happens I'll let you know."
Here James Gilbert left the room, and went up to his own chamber. His word_ad excited hope in both Roswell and his mother. The former felt that it woul_e a satisfaction to him to learn that Dick had lost his situation, even if h_ailed to get it himself.