WHEN Tom deposited himself in bed, he found the straw-bed even more
uncomfortable than he anticipated. The straw crackled beneath him at
every movement, and was far from affording that ease which our hero
“I might as well sleep on a bed of thorns or briers,” he said to
himself. “It’s cheap, and that is the only recommendation it has, but I
can’t stand it, and I don’t mean to.”
At first Tom intended to make no disturbance till the next day, but Mrs.
Middleton’s evident unwillingness to provide anything better decided him
to take action immediately.
“What shall I do?” he thought.
A bright idea came to him.
In his trunk were two boxes of torpedoes which he had saved over from
the last Fourth of July. These he took, two or three at a time, and
struck against the uncarpeted floor, producing the series of noises
which startled his guardians.
“I guess that’ll bring ’em up,” thought Tom.
In anticipation of a visit he had slipped on his pants.
Presently he heard a tapping at the door, but at first he took no notice
of it, but kept on firing the torpedoes.
“Can’t you knock louder, Mr. Middleton?” said his wife impatiently, and
she herself rigorously pounced the door.
“I guess I’ll let ’em in,” said Tom to himself.
He accordingly opened the door and stared at his visitors in a vacant
“What’s the matter? Is it morning?” he asked, with the air of one who
had just waked up.
“What mischief are you up to?” demanded Mrs. Middleton sternly.
“I, up to mischief?” said Tom, with an air of bewilderment.
“Yes; what are you making this outrageous racket for?”
Tom passed his hand over his eyes as if to recall himself to a
realization of the situation.
“I must have been firing torpedoes,” he said, looking at the box in his
“Torpedoes, indeed!” exclaimed Mrs. Middleton, sniffing indignantly. “Do
you consider that proper conduct at time of night, disturbing the
“I told you that I got up in my sleep sometimes,” said Tom.
Mrs. Middleton evidently thought this “too thin,” and looked her
“What could have made you get up?” asked her husband.
“I know what it was.” said Mrs. Middleton. “It was eating late at night.
I knew it wouldn’t agree with you.”
“No doubt you are right, my dear,” chimed in her husband.
“It wasn’t that,” said Tom bluntly. “Eating never disagrees with me. It
was the straw-bed.”
“Yes, it’s as hard as a brick-bat. It doesn’t agree with my spine.”
“Mr. Middleton and I sleep on a straw-bed,” said the lady.
“Perhaps you have a feather-bed, too,” suggested our hero.
As this happened to be true, the lady did not see fit to reply directly.
“I don’t believe the bed had anything to do with it,” she said
snappishly, “and, moreover, I don’t want any torpedoes in the house.”
“My dear,” said her husband soothingly, “I am sure our young friend will
not care to keep them. Doubtless it is a mere accident that he happened
to have them.”
“It’s lucky they were not fire-crackers,” said Tom. “It might have set
the bed on fire.”
“Something must be done,” said Nathan, in alarm. “My dear, isn’t there a
feather-bed or a mattress in the house?”
“There is a mattress in the spare chamber,” said the lady reluctantly.
“Then, by all means, let us give it to our young friend, that he may
have a comfortable night’s rest.”
“That’s just the thing,” said Tom briskly. “I’ll help you bring it in.”
Mrs. Middleton would like to have objected, but there seemed to be no
other way of securing quiet, and she tacitly consented. That is, she
held her peace while her husband and Tom went to the spare chamber and
transferred the cherished mattress to the chamber of the latter.
“There,” said she, “I hope you are satisfied now.”
“Thank you,” said Tom politely. “It is a decided improvement. I shall
sleep like a top now.”
“Good-night,” said Nathan, and Tom responded, “Good-night.”
“I’d like to see that boy flogged,” said Mrs. Middleton, addressing her
husband later in the privacy of their own apartment. “He’s the most
impudent young ruffian I ever saw. He’s turned the house upside down
“Think of the pay, Corinthia,” said her husband soothingly. “Six dollars
a week! Why, it’s a dollar a day for you, leaving out Sunday.”
This happily diverted his wife’s thoughts in a more agreeable channel.
She reflected that in a few days she would be able to buy a new bonnet
with her board-money—an article she had long needed, but had been too
mean to buy—and she gradually calmed down.
Now, though I by no means intend to justify Tom in his eccentric
conduct, I submit that he was entitled to a comfortable bed and enough
to eat, especially considering the liberal board he was to pay, and
probably he would have found it difficult to compass his desires, but by
some such decisive measure as he adopted. At any rate he made no further
disturbance, but “kept the peace” till morning.
Usually breakfast at the Middletons’ was a very frugal meal. Bread and
butter, accompanied by thin and watery coffee, supplemented occasionally
by a little cold meat, satisfied the economical pair. But they rightly
judged that Tom would require something more, and Mrs. Middleton was
induced to provide a small portion of beefsteak and some fried potatoes,
which, in her eyes, constituted a sumptuous repast.
Tom consumed the greater portion of the steak, rightly thinking that if
there was not enough for all the loss should fall to those who chose to
provide too small a supply. He used much more milk and sugar than the
lady of the house regarded as sufficient, but it was very evident that
on this subject she and her new boarder were not likely to agree.
Breakfast was scarcely over when a tall man, with a very stiff,
dignified figure was seen entering the front gate.
“It’s Lawyer Davenport,” said Nathan, in a flustered manner. “What can
bring him here so early?”
“No doubt it is on account of the assault Mr. Temple made upon his son,”
said Mrs. Middleton.
“I am afraid it is,” said her husband, evidently disturbed. “I fear, my
young friend, you have got into hot water.”
“I don’t think it will scald me,” said Tom coolly.
“Mr. Davenport is one of our first citizens,” said Nathan.
“He seems to think he is,” said Tom. “He walks so erect that he bends
“He has a proper sense of his social position,” said Mrs. Middleton
“So has his son,” said Tom.
A ponderous knock here notified the party that the lawyer had arrived at
the front door, and demanded admittance.
Mr. Middleton himself answered the call, and with an air of deference
ushered the distinguished visitor into the sitting-room.
“I hope I see you well, Mrs. Middleton,” said the visitor, with stately
“Thank you, sir; I am not as well as I have been,” said the lady. “I
have been subjected to unusual trials during the last twenty-four
hours,” she continued, with a side glance at Tom.
“I am sorry to hear it,” said the lawyer. “I regret also to say that I
have called this morning on rather an unpleasant matter connected, if I
mistake not, with the young man whom I see here.”
“This is Thomas Temple, Squire Davenport, my ward.”
“Indeed! I was not aware that you had a ward.”
“He is the son of my old school-mate, Stephen Temple, who desired at his
death that his son should come to me.”
“It is very kind of you to assume the charge,” said the lawyer, who
fancied that Tom was without means.
“Not at all,” said Nathan modestly. “For the sake of my old friend I am
glad to assume his place to his orphan boy.”
“I hope, young man,” said the lawyer, “that you are sensible of Mr.
“Oh, yes,” said Tom, “I appreciate it properly.”
Our hero’s tone was rather peculiar, and Nathan Middleton felt
uncomfortable, not knowing what he might be tempted to say. He was quite
conscious that boarding Tom for twenty dollars a week did not involve
any extraordinary kindness on his part.
“I believe, young man, you had some difficulty with my son yesterday,”
said the lawyer, in a tone calculated to overawe our hero.
“I had a little difficulty with two boys,” said Tom coolly.
“My son and nephew.”
“I am very sorry that anything unpleasant should have occurred, Squire
Davenport,” said Nathan nervously.
“It is for the young man to apologize, not you, Mr. Middleton,” said the
“You are quite mistaken, sir,” said Tom; “it is for your son to
“Young man, this assurance is most extraordinary,” gasped the lawyer, in
“If your son had behaved like a gentleman he would have had nothing to
complain of,” said Tom. “He refused to play with me, and I playfully
threw his ball into a corn-field. Then, as he rushed at me, I defended
“Mr. Middleton, do you sustain this boy in his extraordinary and defiant
“There must have been a misunderstanding,” said Nathan eagerly. “I am
anxious that Thomas should enjoy the privilege of associating with your
son and nephew, and I hope when they come to know each other better they
will become friends.”
“It is rather presumptuous for a charity boy to expect to associate with
my family,” thought the lawyer; but he said: “If this young man will
apologize for this outrage of yesterday and treat my son with proper
respect, I may consent to his occasionally visiting him.”
“I am sure he will be willing,” said Mr. Middleton.
“Quite a mistake,” said Tom. “He owes me an apology for his boorish
conduct. As to the ball—if it’s lost, I’ll pay for it.”
He drew out his pocket-book and displayed a roll of bills, considerably
to the astonishment of the lawyer, who begun to think he had acted too
“Be kind enough to take pay for the ball out of that,” said Tom,
offering a ten-dollar bill to the visitor.
Lawyer Davenport had a respect for money. Tom was no longer a charity
boy, to be condescended to, but a young gentleman.
“On no account,” he said mildly. “The offer is sufficient. No doubt it
was a mere boy’s quarrel. We’ll say no more about it. I shall be glad to
have you come over and take supper with us some evening, Master Temple.
I have no doubt you and James will become good friends yet.”
“Oh, I bear no malice,” said Tom easily. “I’ll be happy to come.”
“Come this evening, then.”
“All right. Thank you, sir.”
“I must say good-morning, Mr. Middleton,” said the lawyer.
“Good-morning, Mr. Temple.”
Mr. Davenport took care to inquire of Nathan Middleton the extent of
Tom’s property, when he accompanied him to the door, and went away with
very different feelings toward him from those with which he entered.
“James,” said he, on his return home, “I fear you have been very rude to
the young gentleman who is boarding at Mr. Middleton’s.”
“Young gentleman! He is a bully.”
“Hush, James. He is a young man of large property—fifty thousand
dollars, at the very least, as Mr. Middleton informs me—just the
companion I desire for you and Edwin. He very handsomely offered to buy
you a new ball, but I wouldn’t permit it.”
“Is he so rich, father?” inquired James, in astonishment.
“Yes, you made a great mistake about him. I have invited him to supper
here this evening, and I expect you and Edwin to treat him with
James was like his father, and needed no admonition. Tom was no longer a
bully in his eyes, but a young gentleman entitled to consideration.
TWO HOURS later a note was received from Mrs. Davenport, inviting Tom to
pass the day at her house. It was brought by an errand-boy, and arrived
just as Tom, having arranged his wardrobe, was about to start on a
journey of exploration.
“I’ll come with pleasure,” said Tom. “Say I’ll be round in fifteen
“You see, my dear,” said Mr. Middleton, “Tom has been taken up by the
Davenports; we must take care to gratify him in all his wishes. It will
do us credit to have him at our house.”
“I wonder they have invited him. I am sure he was very impudent to
“Boys will be boys, my dear, and our young friend is rich.”
“Well, I’m glad of one thing, he’ll be away for two meals.”
“True, my dear, that will be a saving. He certainly has a great
Meanwhile Tom, having brushed his hair and put on a clean collar, walked
round to Lawyer Davenport’s. He found the two boys in front of the
“Good-morning,” said Tom.
“Good-morning,” said James, rather sheepishly.
“Will you let me play with you this morning?” said Tom smiling.
“We didn’t know who you were yesterday,” said James, “but as you’re a
gentleman, we are glad to see you.”
“Thank you. Did you find the ball?”
“Yes. Mike, the errand-boy, found it. Shall we have a toss?”
“I should like it.”
They went into the field before referred to, and spent a couple of hours
very pleasantly. James and Edwin, looking upon their companion as a
young man of fortune, were very courteous and polite. Indeed it was hard
to think of them as the same boys who had treated Tom so rudely the day
before. Our hero was clear-sighted and understood very well the meaning
of the change in their manners, but he took the world as he found it,
and didn’t choose to quarrel with the respect which his wealth procured
At dinner he made acquaintance with Mrs. Davenport. This lady was very
much like her husband and son. When she had heard of Tom’s difficulty
with James, she was very indignant, supposing our hero to be a poor boy.
Now that she had ascertained his circumstances, she was prepared to
receive him cordially.
“I am glad that my son and nephew have found a suitable companion,” she
said affably. “I don’t want to say anything against the village boys,
who are very well in their way, but of course they are not the social
equals of my boys. They are lacking in culture and refinement.”
“They’re low,” said James.
“I was low yesterday,” thought Tom, “but it’s different to-day.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” he said, “you are very obliging.”
“I am told you are to reside with the Middletons, Mr. Temple,” the lady
“They are very worthy people—not stylish, but respectable. Was your
father connected with them?”
“He was a school-mate of Mr. Middleton, I believe.”
“I say, Tom,” said James, “you must look out or you will get the gout
“I’ll take care of that,” said Tom.
“Mrs. Middleton will, if you don’t.”
“James, you should not make such remarks,” said his mother. “It is true,
I believe, that the Middletons are rather economical in their table
expenses, but doubtless out of regard to Mr. Temple they will adopt a
Tom smiled, but said nothing. He did not consider it honorable to refer
to Mr. Middleton’s domestic arrangements.
At this moment two girls entered the room. One was evidently Mrs.
Davenport’s daughter, as she bore a striking resemblance to that
dignified lady. She was by no means pretty, but evidently thought
considerable of herself, and was not troubled with bashfulness. She made
a low courtesy, in the most approved dancing-school style, to Tom, who
was sufficiently well-bred to acquit himself creditably.
“My daughter, Imogene, Mr. Temple,” said Mr. Davenport.
The other girl was probably a year younger, and as pretty as Imogene was
unattractive. But she was plainly dressed, and had a timid, retiring
look. In fact she was a poor cousin, a dependent upon the lawyer’s
bounty, and made to feel her position by all the family.
“Mary Somers, Mr. Temple,” said Mrs. Davenport slightingly.
Mary blushed, and offered her hand timidly to our hero.
“What a pretty girl!” thought Tom. “She’s ever so much prettier than the
other, but I guess from the old lady’s manner that she hasn’t got the
They sat down to the dinner-table, which Tom saw with satisfaction
presented a very different appearance from the frugal board of Mr.
Middleton. It was a capital dinner, and Tom enjoyed it.
“I shouldn’t mind boarding here,” he thought.
There was only one drawback. He was seated next to Imogene, when he
would have very much preferred a seat next to Mary Somers, the poor
“WHAT shall we do this afternoon?” asked James, as they rose from the
“Suppose we go out rowing?” said Edwin.
“I should like that,” said Tom eagerly.
“Can you row?” asked James.
“I can keep up my side of the boat,” said Tom.
“Very well, we’ll go, then,” said James. “Come along, fellows.”
Half a mile from the lawyer’s house was a river, narrow but with a swift
current. Thither the boys directed their steps. Under a tree a
round-bottomed boat of fair size was padlocked.
“The boat belongs to me,” said James complacently. “It was a birthday
“It looks like a good one. Let us get in,” said Tom.
They unlocked the boat and pushed off.
“You can steer,” said James, “and Edwin and I will row.”
“Just as you please,” said Tom. “You own the boat.”
He would have preferred to row, but was willing to wait till one of the
boys got tired and yielded the oars. He seated himself therefore in the
end of the boat and steered.
“I am not used to the river,” said Tom, “and you must tell me if I steer
They had the current in their favor, and the boat went merrily onward,
easily impelled by the two boys, who were evidently pleased with their
“It’ll be rather different rowing back,” said Tom.
“Oh, we can manage it,” said James, with an air of consequence. “We are
used to rowing.”
“The current will be against you.”
“We can manage,” said James confidently.
A little later they were startled by a loud scream. A boy of six had
tumbled into the river while playing on the bank, and though it was
shallow, was in danger of drowning.
Tom was the first to perceive his danger.
“Row to the shore, quick!” he shouted. “A boy is drowning.”
He turned the rudder, and James and his cousin mechanically obeyed. Tom
reached over and grasped the urchin by his arm and deposited him in the
bottom of the boat.
It was a young Irish boy, dirty-faced and in rags, and dripping, of
course, from his recent immersion.
James surveyed him with evident disgust.
“The dirty brat will wet the boat and make it unfit for us to stay in,”
“Do you want me to pitch him into the water again?” asked Tom coolly.
[Illustration: “‘ROW TO THE SHORE, QUICK!’ TOM SHOUTED. ‘A BOY IS
“No,” said James slowly. “Of course I don’t want him to drown, but I
don’t enjoy taking in one of the lower order as a passenger. We’d better
put him on shore.”
“So I think,” said Edwin. “The little beggar will be better off there.”
“I don’t think so,” said Tom. “Do you see how the little chap is
shivering? He’ll catch his death of cold if he doesn’t change his wet
clothes soon. What is your name, my little boy?”
“Jimmy Grady,” said the boy, his teeth chattering.
“He’s got your name, James,” said Tom slyly. “He’s your namesake.”
“Don’t associate me with him,” said James loftily.
“Of course it’s very impudent for him to have the same name,” said Tom
smiling. “Perhaps he’ll change it. Where do you live, Jimmy?”
“There,” said the boy, pointing to a small, unpainted dwelling further
up the river, and about twenty rods from the bank.
“Turn back,” said Tom, “we’ll carry him home.”
“I don’t choose to trouble myself about such a beggar as that,” said
James. “We’ll go on, and on our way back we’ll land him.”
“And let him die of exposure?” said Tom sternly.
“Oh, such beggars are tough,” said James, in a tone quite destitute of
feeling. “Row away, Edwin.”
“I forbid it!” said Tom, with startling emphasis. “Reverse your stroke.
We are going back.”
At the same time he changed the course of the boat as far as he was able
by turning the rudder.
James Davenport flushed. He was accustomed to have his own way and he
didn’t relish dictation.
“The boat is mine,” said he, doggedly. “We _won’t_ turn back!”
“Turn back instantly, or I’ll throw you overboard,” said Tom, in a
“I haven’t got to obey you,” said James angrily.
Tom sprung from his seat, grasped James by the shoulder, and repeated
his command. There was something in our hero’s look when he was fairly
aroused that showed that he was not to be trifled with. James thought of
his encounter the day before, and he was by no means sure that Tom would
not carry out his threat.
“Will you do it or not?” demanded Tom.
“If you’re so very anxious, I’ll do it,” said James, backing down. “You
make more fuss about the little chap than he deserves.”
“His life is worth as much to him as ours is to us,” said Tom, resuming
his seat. “When I have restored him to his home, I will go up or down,
as you choose.”
Rather mortified at his defeat, and indignant also, James sullenly rowed
to the shore at the point opposite little Jimmy’s humble home. His
mother was on the bank, looking anxiously for her lost boy.
“It’s me, mother,” said Jimmy, his tear-begrimed face lighting up with
“We’ve got Jimmy safe, Mrs. Grady,” called out Tom, cheerfully. “He
tumbled into the river, and is wet through. You’d better take off his
wet clothes, or he’ll get cold.”
“The saints be praised!” exclaimed the poor woman, fervently. “I thought
the poor boy was drowned. I’m sure I’m very thankful to you, young
gentlemen, for taking so much trouble with a poor woman’s boy. How could
you run away so, Jimmy, darlint?”
“I didn’t mane to tumble in,” said Jimmy, as Tom helped him over the
side into his mother’s arms.
“Thank you kindly, gentlemen,” said Mrs. Grady, repeating her thanks,
but only Tom responded.
The other two regarded the poor woman scornfully.
“Thank Heaven! we’ve got rid of that beggar,” said James. “I don’t mean
to let one into my boat again. I shall have to have it washed out.”
“Whenever either of you gets tired, I’ll row,” said Tom.
“I’m tired,” said Edwin. “It’s hard rowing up stream!”
“Against the current. I told you it would be. I’ll take your place.”
They changed places, and Tom begun to ply his oar. James soon found out
that our hero had not only rowed before, but that he was very strong and
dexterous, and considerably more than a match for him, even if he had
not been tired. He would have been glad to have been relieved himself,
but was too proud to own that he was fatigued.
“Shall we go up or down?” asked Tom.
“I don’t appear to have much to say about it,” said James unpleasantly.
“You appear to control the boat.”
“Come, James, don’t bear malice,” said Tom pleasantly. “I wouldn’t have
interfered, except to save Jimmy a fit of sickness. I knew you didn’t
realize the danger of his going a long time with wet clothing. Now I am
ready to receive your commands. Up or down?”
“We’d better go home,” said Edwin. “It’ll be hard getting there as it
is, against the current.”
“Home then,” said James, his pride somewhat soothed by Tom’s leaving the
matter to him.
Presently Tom, seeing that his companions lagged in rowing, said:
“If you are tired, James, I’ll take both oars for a little while.”
“I don’t believe you can.”
“Oh, I’m used to it.”
“Try it then,” said James, glad of a respite; “I am not much tired, but
I’d like to see how you will make out.”
Tom took both oars and used them vigorously. He found his task a
difficult one, but he kept up single-handed for a mile, when Edwin came
to his assistance.
They were all glad to reach the starting-point. Jumping out, James
secured the boat.
“Now we’ll go home,” he said.
“We’ve had a bully row,” said Tom, “though it was rather a hard pull
back. It’s lucky for Jimmy that we went back.”
“It would have served the little beggar right if he’d drowned,” muttered
“I’m glad he didn’t, though,” said Tom.
“Small loss if he had,” muttered the lawyer’s son.
“Perhaps some might say so of us,” said Tom.
“I hope you don’t compare me with that low boy,” said James scornfully.
“I dare say his mother wouldn’t exchange one Jimmy for another,”
remarked Tom jokingly.
“She’s welcome to the brat,” said James loftily. “I have nothing in
common with such people.”
THE SUPPER was as excellent as the dinner, and Tom, made hungry by his
exertions upon the river, enjoyed it.
By accident he found himself seated next to Mary Somers, the poor
cousin. The two conversed quite socially, rather to the disgust of
Imogene, who, hearing that Tom was rich, wished to monopolize him
herself. She was vexed to find that he was considerably more attentive
to her penniless cousin than he had been to herself.
If Mary had been homely, and she herself handsome, she could have been
quite friendly, but Mary’s fresh color and bright eyes showed to such
advantage compared with her own sallow complexion and dull eyes that she
envied and hated her.
“Did you have a pleasant afternoon, Mr. Temple?” asked Mary.
“Very pleasant,” said Tom. “We had an adventure, too.”
“What was it?”
“We saved a little Irish boy from drowning.”
“That is new business for Cousin James,” said Mary, smiling.
“You needn’t lay it to me,” said James. “I didn’t have anything to do
with the little brat.”
“You speak as if it were discreditable,” said Tom. “I’ll stand the
“I didn’t want him to drown,” said James, “but I am not partial to
“It is always well to be humane,” said Lawyer Davenport. “I am glad that
my boy was instrumental in preserving the life of a fellow-being.”
Mary and Tom continued their conversation, while Imogene grew more and
more vexed with her cousin, till she had the ill-breeding to say, in an
“Really, Mary, you talk so much that nobody else gets a chance.”
“I am sorry,” said Mary blushing.
“I am just as much to blame,” said Tom good-naturedly. “I’ve been asking
your cousin questions.”
“I hate to see girls so forward,” said Imogene spitefully.
Mary looked pained, and there was some spirit in her answer.
“I didn’t think it would be polite to refuse answering Mr. Temple,” she
“Imogene is right,” said Mrs. Davenport, who thoroughly sympathized with
her daughter. “You are too forward.”
Mary’s mouth quivered with mortification, but she said nothing. Neither
did Tom. He was indignant at the petty malice of Imogene, and
determined, if he could not speak to Mary, he would not speak at all. He
only answered the questions of the rest in monosyllables during the
remainder of the meal.
When supper was over, Mrs. Davenport said:
“We will go into the parlor. Imogene, can’t you play for Mr. Temple?”
“Do you like music, Mr. Temple?” asked Imogene.
“Pretty well,” said Tom, “but I am not much of a judge of it.”
“I have taken lessons for three years,” said Imogene complacently.
“Have you? Do you like it?”
“I am passionately fond of it,” said the young lady.
“Does your cousin play, too?”
“A little,” said Imogene ungraciously. “She hasn’t much taste for it,
but it is really necessary for her to learn.”
“Because she is to be a governess,” said Imogene. “She is very poor—in
fact she has nothing of her own. Pa kindly agreed to take her and give
her an education, so as to qualify her to earn her own living. She’ll be
a governess, or teach school, or something of the kind, when she’s old
“Perhaps she won’t have to,” said Tom, who liked to annoy his companion.
“She has got to earn her living.”
“I mean she may get married.”
“Yes,” said Imogene, “but, of course, she can’t expect to make much of a
match. She may get a farmer, or mechanic, perhaps.”
“I suppose,” said Tom, “_you_ would not marry a farmer or mechanic?”
“I should think not,” said Imogene, tossing her head. “I have a right to
look higher. I may marry a lawyer like pa. What do you expect to be, Mr.
“I haven’t thought about it,” said Tom.
“I suppose you won’t have to do anything. You are rich, are you not?”
“I suppose so,” said Tom, who was not inclined to boast of his wealth,
“but I shouldn’t be willing to be idle.”
“You might buy an estate and take care of it, and live on your income.”
“Then I should be a farmer.”
“Oh, that’s different. You wouldn’t have to work yourself. What shall I
play for you?” asked the young lady, who was now seated at the piano.
“I’m not particular. I like songs best.”
Imogene sang a fashionable song, but her voice was thin and shrill, and
Tom could not in conscience praise the performance. He thanked her, but
did not ask for another. Imogene, however, played two other pieces, and
then rose from the piano.
“Miss Mary,” said Tom, “won’t you play something?”
“Shall I aunt?” asked Mary.
“If Mr. Temple wishes to hear you,” said Mrs. Davenport ungraciously.
“He will make allowances, as he can hardly expect you to perform as well
So Mary took her place at the piano.
“I do not play very much,” she said apologetically.
“I’m not a critic,” said Tom. “I sha’n’t find fault. Do you sing?”
“A few common songs, such as ‘Sweet Home.’”
“That’s just what I like.”
So Mary played and sang “Sweet Home.” Her voice was sweet and fresh, far
superior to her cousin’s, and her performance was wholly free from
“Thank you,” said Tom, at the conclusion of the song. “I enjoyed it very
He was about to ask for another song, when Imogene said:
“Don’t bang away on the piano any more, Mary, I am sure Mr. Temple will
gladly excuse you.”
“You are mistaken,” said Tom, “I particularly enjoy your cousin’s
“I want to show you some engravings,” said Imogene, determined to
separate the two.
Mary rose from the piano. It would be impossible to continue after such
a broad hint.
“I shall hope to hear you again,” said Tom, as he led her to a seat.
“Some other time I will sing to you, if you wish,” said Mary. “Imogene
doesn’t want me to now.”
“What a spiteful girl her cousin is!” thought Tom. “She’s a little more
disagreeable than James, if possible. If she expects to make any
impression on me, she’s very much mistaken.”
Tom had no further opportunity to converse with Mary Somers that
evening. Imogene laid herself out to entertain him, and at all events
succeeded in monopolizing his attention. Tom was not unaccustomed to
society, and although he was weary of his companion, he was too polite
to say so. He permitted her to show him several collections of
engravings, and forced himself to converse, though his eyes frequently
wandered to Mary, who was sitting at the other end of the room, wholly
neglected. Neither James nor Edwin thought it necessary to go near her,
but were playing a game of checkers, while Mr. Davenport was nodding
over his newspaper, and Mrs. Davenport was attending to some feminine
Our hero was glad when the time came to go. He found the Middletons
curious to hear the particulars of his reception by the great man of the
“What do you think of Miss Imogene?” asked Nathan.
“She’s thin and bony,” said Tom; “not at all good-looking.”
“Really,” said Nathan, rather shocked, “I think you are unjust. She is
considered a very stylish young lady.”
“Her cousin Mary is pretty,” said Tom.
“I suppose you know she is only a poor relation.”
“I know all about that,” said Tom, laughing. “Imogene told me. She
thought I was paying her too much attention.”
Mr. and Mrs. Middleton exchanged glances. They understood that the great
man’s daughter was pleased with Tom, and thought more of him
“Will you have some refreshments before you retire?” asked Mrs.
“No, thank you. I had a jolly supper at Mr. Davenport’s.”
Mrs. Middleton was relieved to hear this, and did not press her
The next day Tom went on an exploring expedition. He was returning about
the middle of the afternoon, when he was startled by a young girl’s
shriek. Turning his head he saw a terrified figure pursued by a fierce
dog. A moment’s glance revealed to him that it was Mary Somers.
She recognized him at the same moment.
“Oh, save me, Mr. Temple!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands.
“I will,” said Tom resolutely.