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Now at length Mr. Boxall's brow fell. But he looked more disappointed than angry.
“I am sorry for that, Tom. I wish you could have dined with us. I wont detain you longer. Mind you don't ink your trousers.”
Was Thomas never to hear the last of those trowsers ? He began to wish he had not put them on. He made his bow, and withdrew in chagrin, considering himself disgraced before his fellows, to whom he would gladly have been a model, if he could have occupied that position without too much trouble. But his heart smote him-gently, it must be confessed—for having refused the kindness of Mr. Boxall, and shown so much resentment in a matter wherein the governor was quite right.
Mr. Boxall was a man who had made his money without losing his money's worth. Nobody could accuse him of having ever done a mean, not to say a dishonest thing. This would not have been remarkable, had he not been so well recognized as a sharp man of business. The more knowing any jobber about the Exchange, the better he knew that it was useless to dream of getting an advantage over Mr. Boxall. But it was indeed remarkable that he should be able to steer so exactly in the middle course that, while he was keen as an eagle on his own side, he should yet be thoroughly just on the other. Nor, seeing both sides of a question with even marvellous clearness, was he, in order to keep his own hands clean, driven by uncertainty to give the other side anything more than was just right. Yet Mr. Boxall knew how to be generous upon occasion, both in time and money: the ordinary sharp man of business is stingy of both. The chief fault he had was a too great respect for success. He had risen himself by honest diligence, and he thought when a man could not rise it must be either from a want of diligence or of honesty. Hence he was à priori ready to trust the successful man, and, in some instances, to trust him too much. That he had a family of three daughters only-one of them quite a child —who had never as yet come into collision with any project or favourite opinion of his, might probably be one negative cause of the continuance of his open-heartedness and justice of regard.
Thomas Worboise's father had been a friend of his for many years—at least so far as that relation could be called friendship which consisted in playing as much into each other's hands in the way of business as they could, dining together two or three times in the course of the year, and keeping an open door to each other's family. Thomas was an only son, with one sister. His father would gladly have brought him up to his own profession, that of the law, but Thomas showing considerable disinclination to the necessary studies, he had placed him in his friend's counting-house with the hope that that might suit him better. Without a word having been said on the subject, both the fathers would have gladly seen the son of the one engaged to any daughter of the other. They were both men of considerable property, and thought that this would be a pleasant way of determining the future of part of their posses
sions. At the same time Mr. Boxall was not quite satisfied with what he had as yet seen of . Tom's business-character. However, there had been no signs of approximation between him and either of the girls, and therefore there was no cause to be particularly anxious about the matter.
The Invalid Mother.
O account in some measure for the con2. dition in which we find Tom at the commencement of my story, it will be better to say a word here about his mother. She was a woman of weak health and intellect, but strong character; was very religious, and had a great influence over her son, who was far more attached to her than he was to his father. The daughter, on the other hand, leaned to her father, an arrangement not uncommon in families.
On the evening of the day on which my story commences, office-hours were long over before Tom appeared at home. He went into his mother's room, and found her, as usual, reclining on a couch, supported by pillows. She was a