|Newspaper Title||Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Good at Last|
GOOD AT LAST *
So Stephen Smith (he nad given the same name to Thompson, the thought
not occurring to him to take another feigned one) was in due course intro duced to Alfred Harford, of the great firm of Harford,'"West, and Co"T,"whose bank was known to every one-from the millionaire to the one-penoied boy, and whose bachelor establishment in Park Lanej supported by the princely fortune that its owner was supposed to possess, was the envy of many a young fashionable, andthehopeof plenty of hard-np manur&syTiS had m&*iag<&ble daughters for sale "jby auction."
The introduction of theee two was one which was relished by neither; for, although Alfred was not' told the reason why -fhampson .so ..-particularly wished him to-engage his young friend,
Mr. Smith, whose respectability and'5 business qualifications -lie wajs willing to recommend, after such praise of the young friend, Alfred (considering his pecuniary obligations to Thompson) could not decently ask anything as to who he tfrafe or whence he came. Hie
result of; the. interview was . that Stephen was totakchis place in bank. He liked Alfred, at least so far as he was justified in doing so from a first impression. The young banker was one of those .who, form a t class ofwhich Britain may well be proud; tall, straight, bread-eheStedj- well-featured, light-haired, withjustfia ripple among his locks sufficient "(without being womanish) to give ^-together with his bright, sparkling eyes, an air of happy, winning "liveliness to'his appearance. His manner, , tqo, was ^uch that
Stephen, hadhe wished, could,hardly, have avoided liking him. He did sot feel in love, however, with the position that he w&s^plaeed in-^-the having to become a?py pTCrlai»y't)f Ihedoings of a man th$ jje <^4:'^!' C l^endsfip
for. But he had. little or no alter native-Thompson knew enough of his secret to make,.it, unwise for him to cross tbatgen^manV wishes. Ste
phen wen tj -. therefore, -to thehank , moving also to>better lodgings- than< those he had hitherto occupied; taking with him Watts, 'to whom he had, in spite of the.'latter jbay^ng practised' in vino verifier more than Stephen; cared, been drawn by:th'e^y'inpSthy: ;bf help
lessness. " JThf£" bldr felldjv, !too,coyld' not bear &e..tli^ug|it of ^ingiepara^ from the only person who had been
kind to him since he had fallen so lew
in (be ,tir. .\v .
Stephen's position at the bank-i-rlike that of mokt new'hands, was a subor
dinate <»e'^"7iinei^ferrTfid "AljErpd'^at" first care affcmt altering it for 'him, as.' -without any tellingr-he could .guess '
the reason-hisntew clerk had- been so
strongly jft^miflfended, knd'in a way forced nponJjSm.7,7" , . , !"
Stephe^,6opn.obseryed t&at "his em ployer did what heDhought &«trang£> thing fot*a ^ronng, rich manj who had the command of a small; army of-clerks, to do. After office hours. Mfredwould
frequently stay behind for a consider able time. This was not-seen by the other clerks, who, lived in various parts of London$ while Stephen, who dwelt close to the bank, often saw Alfred, emerge therefrom as ' late as eight or nine o'clock "at night. ' He' had not very long, to, wait Jor.^nowledge on the matter ; one Wf .the iig men of the - bank died, . and "Stephen got a' step higher, atod' one of the dutaes of his post wa!sf a. ;fijequent T attendance in Alfred's room, to assist him with Iris books or correspondence. : , Whilst there, Alfredr often eVig-ajgied him in conversatfon, a&d'&nfe 'day* he plainly
asked 0- ...... ,,
" How does it happen, Mr. Smith,
that a Tuvny <evidently-a.'gentleman,/ can lowef imnfeelf to ihe wdrk tbatyoir have undertaken for Thompson '
" What work do you, mean, ,gir; I left Mr. Thompson's employment when > I entered yotiis." ? .
" My > good leUow^d6ilok¥ur fch£r'5n sult me by trying to mgke me. believe an untraVi^jv w";' y.i-.-i*-.* . ..
" Untrotsh,« £iir ; :how. ' >dar& .you ac-j-' cuse me Wf*^bch'f" " ! ^ - < -
" Now,,T>ray, .^nt^getex'citedL1 Yon must sit ddwii againIn the chair you. so nearly capsized byr jumpjag,out of
it in the<&shion of an acrobats r Listen?
to me, and if' I do yon .wrong" by a'fcUs-: picion I Lave^ then yop}may. ijommand ^ any reparation l ean make,"- .
His auditor resumed his seat;-. .: He;
tingled, andhewas in' that generally
comfortable frame of mind which is enjoyed by any who sre~ almost found out doing a thing -they'ought not i»
have done-. 'r r --'-.V
u If I^iniRt&e ffot, MrJ Smith, you have bfeen recommended to me" by
Thompson, because he-.has,* msh.tp" know more, of -ray aHairs than Icare about teIHng%imv &Shasiafact«eiit you here to play the policeman over me. Isn't it so
By this tune^ Stephen's hands had, found out a way in -wficV they -coula cover his face. ' Many would call this weakness- but sueh'WeaknfeSS is" far,
far prefe^le jto 4be -r brazen-faced hypocrisy Wat considers it, manly to stick to a thing oncer, uttered,, even though thatching beja lie. v .v >>->
Alfred rose from hiS Beat, atid crossed over to Stephen; laying, a; hand on each of his ^hoiAdsris, he «aid
t: Do not fancy that" I -think so very badly of you,N -after all.-i What L know now, I suspected as-soon as Thompson told mejie "wduld; like to gi&% [ yoh! fem
. Written r i^«nlftor 1MB jotunaL Bight of repnb Utblng«Mrnd,
ployed in my house. The old wretch . i dogs nothing without«. paying object.
I supposeTT&attyou febrnftrVay.'; in Ms power, end wheja he proposed' your present billet vjouz poverty, ana^ not your will ^consented:; Yft-it. fje-'ila my power to help you to shake him off. I will do so," ' ? 1
" It is neither in your or other man's power to do it; although were it pos sible, I would willingly give half my
life for such a consummation."
" Some secret, I suppose; he has
"secrets of mine, as well. I can make - it; better worth your while to deceive him than he can for you' to fend hut anything that I wish him not.;to know. You are industrious, clever, and appear honorable. Would not
the offer''ofa - higher position here j tea:pt you to mislead him a little as to what you may see ahout me. . J ask you because if I send you away, he swill perhaps force me to take Some! one * in your stead; I'could not help it; I
am a little in his debt." It's not con
venient at present-to pay, and if be " wfire to hint outside that ,'1' could a<it, the credit of the hank . would i>e ruined. There surely cannot
t>e much to hurt your conscience in throwing dust in th6 ®3r<*s of'siich a man as he." 'r 1 . 1
; Although Stephen could not but ex
perience surprise at lns-employeri con fession, he-thought something of the -
reasoning made;use of A him.' It j certainly did not appear^o had to de ceive a man like Thompson as to serve Harford that way. The hank diffi-. pulties must, thought .Stephen, after
(he had heard Alfred's statement, he'' thle cause of his staying so late in "the office; ;most likely to endeavour to ar range matters. With a feeling of
.thankfulness he said
.. *'Your offer is much more than I" deserve, I am so ashamed of the mean ness that you have a light to consider me guilty of, that your generous for giveness of it will bincl me to your in
terests as far as possible without open- ' ing Thompson's eyes too much."
And it "was settled that heJ should
remain at the bank, giving Thompson only such news as" wasagreed upon hy the -two whose conversation has just been reported. -
,Stephen left the room, and,went hack td his desk, pondering o^er what he had now heard as .tq the. bank afiairs, and as to »its beingin the
power of a shark like Thompson.- to. effect the credit of such an old ana' respectable house as, that...lie .belonged
to. ' t it
Much *us fee tfhotigljtt on, and was ptonished at what he had been told, lie had yet to see and hear things more surprising still'xjoncerning the bank and its principal.