Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 10 A store on Sixth Avenue

  • 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."
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "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.
  • "No, sir."
  • "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?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "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?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "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?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "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.
  • "Mr. Turner."
  • "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.