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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 4 of 6||
"Very well in body, but not so well in mind," was the frank reply, as he took the proffered hand of his old employer.
"Not well in mind, ah! That's about the worst kind of sickness I know of, Edward. What's the matter?"
"As I have dropped in to talk with you a little about my own affairs, I will come at once to the point."
"That is right. Speak out plainly, Edward, and you will find in me, at least, a sincere friend, and an honest adviser. What is the matter now?"
"I don't like my present situation, Mr. Melleville!"
"Ah! Well? What's the trouble? Have you and Jasper had a misunderstanding?"
"Oh no! Nothing of that. We get on well enough together. But I don't think its a good place for a young man to be in, sir!"
"I can be plain with you. In a word, Mr. Jasper is not an honest dealer; and he expects his clerks to do pretty much as he does."
Mr. Melleville shook his head and looked grave.
"To tell the truth," continued Edward, "I have suffered myself to fall, almost insensibly, into his way of doing business, until I have become an absolute cheat--taking, sometimes, double and treble profit from a customer who happened to be ignorant about prices."
"Edward!" exclaimed the old man, an expression of painful surprise settling on his countenance.
"It is all too true, Mr. Melleville--all too true. And I don't think it good for me to remain with Mr. Jasper."
"What does he give you now?"
"The same as at first. Five hundred dollars."
The old man bent his head and thought for a few moments.
"His system of unfair dealing toward his customers is your principal objection to Mr. Jasper?"
"That is one objection, and a very serious one, too: particularly as I am required to be as unjust to customers as himself. But there is still another reason why I wish to get away from this situation. Mr. Jasper seems to think and care for nothing but money-getting. In his mind, gold is the highest good. To a far greater extent than I was, until very recently, aware, have I fallen, by slow degrees, into his way of thinking and feeling; until I have grown dissatisfied with my position. Temptation has come, as a natural result; and, before I dreamed that my feet were wandering from the path of safety, I have found myself on the brink of a fearful precipice."
"My dear young friend!" said Mr. Melleville, visibly moved, "this is dreadful!"
"It is dreadful. I can scarcely realize that it is so," replied Claire, also exhibiting emotion.
"You ought not to remain in the employment of Leonard Jasper. That, at least, is plain. Better, far better, to subsist on bread and water, than to live sumptuously on the ill-gotten gold of such a man."
"Yes, yes, Mr. Melleville, I feel all the truth of what you affirm, and am resolved to seek for another place. Did you not say, when we parted two years ago, that if ever I wished to return, you would endeavour to make an opening for me?"
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