“I SHOULD like to do that, every day, for a year to come,” said Mr. William Everett, rubbing his hands together quickly, in irrepressible pleasure.
Mr. Everett was a stock and money broker, and had just made an “operation,” by which a clear gain of two thousand dollars was secured. He was alone in his office: or, so much alone as not to feel restrained by the presence of another. And yet, a pair of dark, sad eyes were fixed intently upon his self-satisfied countenance, with an expression, had he observed it, that would, at least, have excited a moment’s wonder. The owner of this pair of eyes was a slender, rather poorly dressed lad, in his thirteenth year, whom Mr. Everett had engaged, a short time previously, to attend in his office and run upon errands. He was the son of a widowed mother, now in greatly reduced circumstances. His father had been an early friend of Mr. Everett. It was this fact which led to the boy’s introduction into the broker’s office.
“Two thousand dollars!” The broker had uttered aloud his satisfaction; but now he communed with himself silently. “Two thousand dollars! A nice little sum that for a single day’s work. I wonder what Mr. Jenkins will say tomorrow morning, when he hears of such an advance in these securities?”
From some cause, this mental reference to Mr. Jenkins did not increase our friend’s state of exhilaration. Most probably, there was something in the transaction by which he had gained so handsome a sum of money, that, in calmer moments, would not bear too close a scrutiny–something that Mr. Everett would hardly like to have blazoned forth to the world. Be this as it may, a more sober mood, in time, succeeded, and although the broker was richer by two thousand dollars than when he arose in the morning, he was certainly no happier.
An hour afterward, a business friend came into the office of Mr. Everett and said–
“Have you heard about Cassen?”
“No; what of him?”
“He’s said to be off to California with twenty thousand dollars in his pockets more than justly belongs to him.”
“Too true, I believe. His name is in the list of passengers who left New York in the steamer yesterday.”
“The scoundrel!” exclaimed Mr. Everett, who, by this time, was very considerably excited.
“He owes you, does he?” said the friend.
“I lent him three hundred dollars only day before yesterday.”
“A clear swindle.”
“Yes, it is. Oh, if I could only get my hands on him!”.
Mr. Everett’s countenance, as he said this, did not wear a very amiable expression.
“Don’t get excited about it,” said the other. “I think he has let you off quite reasonably. Was that sum all he asked to borrow?”
“I know two at least, who are poorer by a couple of thousands by his absence.”
But Mr. Everett was excited. For half an hour after the individual left who had communicated this unpleasant piece of news, the broker walked the floor of his office with compressed lips, a lowering brow, and most unhappy feelings. The two thousand dollars gain in no way balanced in his mind the three hundred lost. The pleasure created by the one had not penetrated deep enough to escape obliteration by the other.
Of all this, the boy with the dark eyes had taken quick cognizance. And he comprehended all. Scarcely a moment had his glance been removed from the countenance or form of Mr. Everett, while the latter walked with uneasy steps the floor of his office.
As the afternoon waned, the broker’s mind grew calmer. The first excitement produced by the loss, passed away; but it left a sense of depression and disappointment that completely shadowed his feelings.
Intent as had been the lad’s observation of his employer during all this time, it is a little remarkable that Mr. Everett had not once been conscious of the fact that the boy’s eyes were steadily upon him. In fact he had been, as was usually the case too much absorbed in things concerning himself to notice what was peculiar to another, unless the peculiarity were one readily used to his own advantage.