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0105_001E True Riches T.S. Arthur

Chapter VII

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The position of Edward was a trying one. He could not state the true reasons for wishing to leave his present situation, without giving great offence, and making, perhaps, an enemy. This he wished, if possible, to avoid. A few days before he would not have scrupled at the broadest equivocation, or even at a direct falsehood. But there had been a birth of better principles in his mind, and he was in the desire to let them govern his conduct. As he did not answer promptly the question of Jasper as to his reasons for wishing to leave him, the latter said--

"This seems to be some sudden purpose, Edward. Are you going to receive a higher salary?"

Still Edward did not reply; but looked worried and irresolute. Taking it for granted that no motive but a pecuniary one could have prompted this desire for change, Jasper continued--

"I have been satisfied with you, Edward. You seem to understand me, and to comprehend my mode of doing business. I have found you industrious, prompt, and cheerful in performing your duties. These are qualities not always to be obtained. I do not, therefore, wish to part with you. If a hundred, or even a hundred and fifty dollars a year, will be any consideration, your salary is increased from to-day."

This, to Edward, was unexpected. He felt more bewildered and irresolute than at first. So important an advance in his income, set against a reduction of the present amount, was a strong temptation, and he felt his old desires for money arraying themselves in his mind.

"I will think over your offer," said he. "I did not expect this. In the morning I will be prepared to decide."

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"Very well, Edward. If you remain, your salary will be increased to six hundred and fifty dollars."

To Claire had now come another hour of darkness. The little strength, just born of higher principles, was to be sorely tried. Gold was in one scale, and the heavenly riches that are without wings in the other. Which was to overbalance?

The moment Claire entered the presence of his wife, on returning home that evening, she saw that a change had taken place--an unfavourable change; and a shadow fell upon her pure spirit.

"I spoke to Mr. Jasper about leaving him," he remarked, soon after he came in.

"What did he say?" inquired Edith.

"He does not wish me to go."

"I do not wonder at that. But, of course, he is governed merely by a selfish regard to his own interests."

"He offers to increase my salary to six hundred and fifty dollars," said Edward, in a voice that left his wife in no doubt as to the effect which this had produced.

"A thousand dollars a year, Edward," was the serious answer, "would be a poor compensation for such services as he requires. Loss of self-respect, loss of honour, loss of the immortal soul, are all involved. Think of this, my dear husband! and do not for a moment hesitate."

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True Riches
T.S. Arthur

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