Robert Coverdale's Struggle - LightNovelOnl.com
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If Robert had been better dressed he would have received immediate attention. As it was, he looked like a poor boy in want of work and not at all like a customer.
So, at all events, decided a dapper-looking clerk whose attention was drawn to the new arrival.
"Well, boy, what do you want?" he demanded roughly, approaching Robert.
"Civil treatment to begin with," answered Robert with spirit.
"If you've come for a place, we don't want any scarecrows here."
It appears that the firm had advertised for an errand boy that very morning, and it was naturally supposed that Robert was an applicant.
"Are you the owner of this shop?" asked Robert coolly.
"No," answered the clerk, lowering his tone a little.
"I thought so. I'll tell my business to somebody else."
"You'd better not put on airs!" said the clerk angrily.
"You are the one who is putting on airs," retorted Robert.
"What's the matter here?" asked a portly gentleman, walking up to the scene of the altercation.
"I was telling this boy that he would not do for the place," answered the clerk.
"I believe, Mr. Turner, that you are not commissioned to make a selection," said the gentleman.
And Turner retired, discomfited.
"So you want a place?" he said inquiringly to Robert.
"No, sir, I don't."
"Mr. Turner said you did."
"I never told him so."
"Here, Turner," said the gentleman. "Why did you tell me this boy wanted a place?"
"I supposed he did. He looked like it, sir."
"I don't want a place. I want to buy a suit of clothes," said Robert.
"If that young man hadn't treated me so rudely, I should have asked him to show me some."
"Look here, Mr. Turner," said the gentleman sternly, "If you have no more sense than to insult our customers, we can dispense with your services. Mr. Conway, will you wait on this young man?"
Turner was mortified and slunk away, beginning to understand that it is not always safe to judge a man or boy by the clothes he wears.
Mr. Conway was more of a gentleman and civilly asked Robert to follow him.
"What kind of a suit would you like?" he added.
"A pretty good one," answered Robert.
He was shown several suits and finally selected one of gray mixed cloth of excellent quality.
"That is one of our most expensive suits," said Conway doubtfully.
"Will it wear well?"
"It will wear like iron."
"Then I will take it. How much will it cost?"
Conway named the price. Robert would have hesitated about paying so much, but that he was acting under instructions from the hermit.
"Shall we send it to you anywhere?" asked Mr. Conway, a little surprised at Robert's readiness to pay so high a price.
"No, I should like to put it on here."
"You can do so--that is, after paying for it."
Robert drew out a wallet and from his roll of bills took out sufficient to pay for the new suit.
Mr. Conway went to the cashier's desk. The two had a conversation together. Then the stout gentleman was called to the desk. Robert saw them open a copy of a morning paper and read a paragraph, looking at him after reading it. He wondered what it all meant.
Presently Conway came back and asked him to walk up to the desk.
Robert did so, wonderingly.
"You seem to have a good deal of money with you," commenced the stout gentleman.
"Yes, sir," answered Robert composedly.
"A great deal of money for a boy dressed as you are," continued the speaker pointedly.
Robert began to understand now, and he replied proudly:
"Do you generally ask your customers how much money they have?"
"No, but yours is a peculiar case."
"The money is mine--that is, I have a right to spend it. I am acting under orders from the gentleman who employs me."
"Who is that?"
"No one that you would know. He lives at Cook's Harbor. But I didn't come in here to answer questions. If you don't want to sell me a suit of clothes, I will go somewhere else."