I'll See About
it by T. S. Arthur
MR. EASY sat alone in his counting room, one afternoon, in a most
comfortable frame, both as regards mind and body. A profitable
speculation in the morning had brought the former into a state of
great complacency, and a good dinner had done all that was required
for the repose of the latter. He was in that delicious, half asleep,
half awake condition, which, occurring after dinner, is so very
pleasant. The newspaper, whose pages at first possessed a charm for
his eye, had fallen, with the hand that held—it, upon his knee. His
head was gently reclined backwards against the top of a high, leather
cushioned chair; while his eyes, half opened, saw all things around
him but imperfectly. Just at this time the door was quietly opened,
and a lad of some fifteen or sixteen years, with a pale, thin face,
high forehead, and large dark eyes, entered. He approached the
merchant with a hesitating step, and soon stood directly before him.
Mr. Easy felt disturbed at this intrusion, for so he felt it. He
knew the lad to be the son of a poor widow, who had once seen better
circumstances than those that now surrounded her. Her husband had,
while living, been his intimate friend, and he had promised him, at
his dying hour, to be the protector and adviser of his wife and
children. He had meant to do all he promised, but, not being very
fond of trouble, except where stimulated to activity by the hope of
gaining some good for himself, he had not been as thoughtful in
regard to Mrs. Mayberry as he ought to have been. She was a modest,
shrinking, sensitive woman, and had, notwithstanding her need of a
friend and adviser, never called upon Mr. Easy, or even sent to
request him to act for her in any thing, except once. Her husband had
left her poor. She knew little of the world. She had three quite young
children, and one, the oldest, about sixteen. Had Mr. Easy been true
to his pledge, he might have thrown many a ray upon her dark path, and
lightened her burdened heart of many a doubt and fear. But he had
permitted more than a year to pass since the death of her husband,
without having once called upon her. This neglect had not been
intentional. His will was good but never active at the present moment.
"To-morrow," or "next week," or "very soon," he would call upon Mrs.
Mayberry; but to-morrow, or next week, or very soon, had never yet
As for the widow, soon after her husband's death, she found that
poverty was to be added to affliction. A few hundred dollars made up
the sum of all that she received after the settlement of his
business, which had never been in a very prosperous condition. On
this, under the exercise of extreme frugality, she had been enabled
to live for nearly a year. Then the paucity of her little store made
it apparent to her mind that individual exertion was required
directed towards procuring the means of support for her little
family. Ignorant of the way in which this was to be done, and having
no one to advise her, nearly two months more passed before she could
determine what to do. By that time she had but a few dollars left,
and was in a state of great mental distress and uncertainty. She then
applied for work at some of the shops, and obtained common sewing, but
at prices that could not yield her any thing like a support.
Hiram, her oldest son, had been kept at school up to this period.
But now she had to withdraw him. It was impossible any longer to pay
his tuition fees. He was an intelligent lad—active in mind, and pure
in his moral principles. But like his mother; sensitive, and inclined
to avoid observation. Like her, too, he had a proud independence of
feeling, that made him shrink from asking or accepting a favor,
putting himself under an obligation to any one. He first became aware
of his mother's true condition, when she took him from school, and
explained the reason for so doing. At once his mind rose into the
determination to do something to aid his mother. He felt a glowing
confidence, arising from the consciousness of strength within. He felt
that he had both the will and the power to act, and to act
"Don't be disheartened, mother," he said, with animation. "I can
and will do something. I can help you. You have worked for me a great
many years. Now I will work for you."
Where there is a will, there is a way. But it is often the case,
that the will lacks the kind of intelligence that enables it to find
the right way at once. So it proved in the case of Hiram Mayberry. He
had a strong enough will, but did not know how to bring it into
activity. Good, without its appropriate truth, is impotent. Of this
the poor lad soon became conscious. To the question of his mother—
"What can you do, child!" an answer came not so readily.
"Oh, I can do a great many things," was easily said; but, even in
saying so, a sense of inability followed the first thought of what he
should do, that the declaration awakened.
The will impels, and then the understanding seeks for the means of
affecting the purposes of the will. In the case of young Hiram,
thought followed affection. He pondered for many days over the means
by which he was to aid his mother. But, the more he thought, the more
conscious did he become, that, in the world, he was a weak boy. That
however strong might be his purpose, his means of action were limited.
His mother could aid him but little. She had but one suggestion to
make, and that was, that he should endeavor, to get a situation in
some store, or counting room. This he attempted to do. Following her
direction, he called upon Mr. Easy, who promised to see about looking
him up a situation. It happened, the day after, that a neighbor spoke
to him about a lad for his store—(Mr. Easy had already forgotten his
promise)—Hiram was recommended, and the man called to see his mother.
"How much salary can you afford to give him?" asked Mrs. Mayberry,
after learning all about the situation, and feeling satisfied that
her son should accept of it.
"Salary, ma'am?" returned the storekeeper, in a tone of surprise.
"We never give a boy any salary for the first year. The knowledge
that is acquired of business is always considered a full
compensation. After the first year, if he likes us, and we like him,
we may give him seventy-five or a hundred dollars."
Poor Mrs. Mayberry's countenance fell immediately.
"I wouldn't think of his going out now, if it were not in the hope
of his earning something," she said in a disappointed voice.
"How much did you expect him to earn?" was asked by the
"I didn't know exactly what to expect. But I supposed that he might
earn four or five dollars a week."
"Five dollars a week is all we pay our porter, an able bodied,
industrious man," was returned. "If you wish your son to become
acquainted with mercantile business, you must not expect him to earn
much for three or four years. At a trade you may receive for him
barely a sufficiency to board and clothe him, but nothing more."
This declaration so dampened the feelings of the mother that she
could not reply for some moments. At length she said—
"If you will take my boy with the understanding, that, in case I am
not able to support him, or hear of a situation where a salary can be
obtained, you will let him leave your employment without hard
feelings, he shall go into your store at once."
To this the man consented, and Hiram Mayberry went with him
according to agreement. A few weeks passed, and the lad, liking both
the business and his employer, his mother felt exceedingly anxious
for him to remain. But she sadly feared that this could not be. Her
little store was just about exhausted, and the most she had yet been
able to earn by working for the shops, was a dollar and a half a
week. This was not more than sufficient to buy the plainest food for
her little flock. It would not pay rent, nor get clothing. To meet
the former, recourse was had to the sale of her husband's small,
select library. Careful mending kept the younger children tolerably
decent, and by altering for him the clothes left by his father, she
was able to keep Hiram in a suitable condition, to appear at the
store of his employer.
Thus matters went on for several months. Mrs. Mayberry working late
and early. The natural result was, a gradual failure of strength. In
the morning, when she awoke, she would feel so languid and heavy,
that to rise required a strong effort, and even after she was up, and
attempted to resume her labors, her trembling frame almost refused to
obey the dictates of her will. At length, nature gave way. One morning
she was so sick that she could not rise. Her head throbbed with a
dizzy, blinding pain—her whole body ached, and her skin burned with
fever. Hiram got something for the children to eat, and then taking
the youngest, a little girl about two years old, into the house of a
neighbor who had showed them some good will, asked her if she would
take care of his sister until he returned home at dinner time. This
the neighbor readily consented to do—promising, also, to call in
frequently to see his mother.
At dinner time Hiram found his mother quite ill. She was no better
at night. For three days the fever raged violently. Then, under the
careful treatment of their old family physician, it was subdued.
After that she gradually recovered, but very slowly. The physician
said she must not attempt again to work as she had done. This
injunction was scarcely necessary. She had not the strength to do so.
"I don't see what you will do, Mrs. Mayberry," a neighbor who had
often aided her by kind advice, said, in reply to the widows
statement of her unhappy condition. "You cannot maintain these
children, certainly. And I don't see how, in your present feeble
state, you are going to maintain yourself. There is but one thing
that I can advise, and that advice I give with reluctance. It is to
endeavor to get two of your children into some orphan asylum. The
youngest you may be able to keep with you. The oldest can support
himself at something or other."
The pale cheek of Mrs. Mayberry grew paler at this proposition. She
half sobbed, caught her breath, and looked her adviser with a
strange, bewildered stare in the face.
"O, no! I cannot do that! I cannot be separated from my dear little
children. Who will care for them like a mother?"
"It is hard, I know, Mrs. Mayberry. But necessity is a stern ruler.
You cannot keep them with you—that is certain. You have not the
strength to provide them with even the coarsest food. In an asylum,
with a kind matron, they will be better off than under any other
But Mrs. Mayberry shook her head.
"No—no—no," she replied—"I cannot think of such a thing. I
cannot be separated from them. I shall soon be able to work
again—better able than before."
The neighbor who felt deeply for her, did not urge the matter. When
Hiram returned at dinner time, his face had in it a more animated
expression than usual.
"Mother," he said, as soon as he came in, "I heard today that a boy
was wanted at the Gazette office, who could write a good hand. The
wages were to be four dollars a week."
"You did!" Mrs. Mayberry said, quickly, her weak frame trembling,
although she struggled hard to be composed.
"Yes. And Mr. Easy is well acquainted with the publisher, and could
get me the place, I am sure."
"Then go and see him at once, Hiram. If you can secure it, all will
be well, if not, your little brothers and sisters will have to be
separated, perhaps sent to an orphan asylum."
Mrs. Mayberry covered her face with her hands and sobbed bitterly
for some moments.
Hiram eat his frugal meal quickly, and returned to the store, where
he had to remain until his employer went home and dined. On his
return he asked liberty to be absent for half an hour, which was
granted. He then went direct to the counting room of Mr. Easy, and
disturbed him as has been seen. Approaching with a timid step, and a
flushed brow, he said in a confused and hurried manner—
"Mr Easy there is a lad wanted at the Gazette office."
"Well?" returned Mr. Easy in no very cordial tone.
"Mother thought you would be kind enough to speak to Mr. G—for
"Havn't you a place in a store?"
"Yes sir. But I don't get any wages. And at the Gazette office they
will pay four dollars a week."
"But the knowledge of business to be gained where you are, will be
worth a great deal more than four dollars a week."
"I know that, sir. But mother is not able to board and clothe me. I
must earn something."
"Oh, aye, that's it. Very well, I'll see about it for you."
"When shall I call, sir?" asked Hiram.
"When? Oh, almost any time. Say to-morrow or next day."
The lad departed, and Mr. Easy's head fell back upon the chair, the
impression which had been made upon his mind passing away almost as
quickly as writing upon water.
With anxious trembling hearts did Mrs. Mayberry and her son wait
for the afternoon of the succeeding day. On the success of Mr. Easy's
application, rested all their hopes. Neither she nor Hiram eat over a
few mouthfuls at dinner time. The latter hurried away, and returned to
the store, there to wait with trembling eagerness until his employer
should return from dinner, and he again be free to go and see Mr.
To Mrs. Mayberry, the afternoon passed slowly. She had forgotten to
tell her son to return home immediately, if the application should be
successful. He did not come back, and she had, consequently, to remain
in a state of anxious suspense until dark. He came in at the usual
hour. His dejected countenance told of disappointment.
"Did you see Mr. Easy?" Mrs. Mayberry asked, in a low troubled
"Yes. But he hadn't been to the Gazette office. He said he had been
very busy. But that he would see about it soon."
Nothing more was said. The mother and son, after sitting silent and
pensive during the evening, retired early to bed. On the next day,
urged on by his anxious desire to get the situation of which he had
heard, Hiram again called at the counting room of Mr. Easy, his heart
trembling with hope and fear. There were two or three men present. Mr.
Easy cast upon him rather an impatient look as he entered. His
appearance had evidently annoyed the merchant. Had he consulted his
feelings, he would have retired at once. But that was too much at
stake. Gliding to a corner of the room, he stood, with his hat in his
hand, and a look of anxiety upon his face, until Mr. Easy was
disengaged. At length the gentlemen with whom he was occupied went
away, and Mr. Easy turned towards the boy. Hiram looked up earnestly
in his face.
"I have really been so much occupied my lad," the merchant said, in
a kind of apologetic tone, "as to have entirely forgotten my promise
to you. But I will see about it. Come in again, to-morrow."
Hiram made no answer, but turned with a sigh towards the door. The
keen disappointment expressed in the boy's face, and the touching
quietness of his manner, reached the feelings of Mr. Easy. He was not
a hard hearted man, but selfishly indifferent to others. He could feel
deeply enough if he would permit himself to do so. But of this latter
failing he was not often guilty.
"Stop a minute," he said. And then stood in a musing attitude for a
moment or two. "As you seem so anxious about this matter," he added,
"if you will wait here a little while, I will step down to see Mr.
The boy's face brightened instantly. Mr. Easy saw the effect of
what he said, and it made the task he was about entering upon
reluctantly, an easy one. The boy waited for nearly a quarter of an
hour, so eager to know the result that he could not compose himself
to sit down. The sound of Mr. Easy's step at the door at length made
his heart bound. The merchant entered. Hiram looked into his face.
One glance was sufficient to dash every dearly cherished hope to the
"I am sorry," Mr. Easy said, "but the place was filled this
morning. I was a little too late."
The boy was unable to control his feelings. The disappointment was
too great. Tears gushed from his eyes, as he turned away and left the
counting-room without speaking.
"I'm afraid I've done wrong," said Mr. Easy to himself, as he
stood, in a musing attitude, by his desk, about five minutes after
Hiram had left. "If I had seen about the situation when he first
called upon me, I might have secured it for him. But it's too late
After saying this the merchant placed his thumbs in the arm-holes
of his waistcoat, and commenced walking the floor of his counting room
backwards and forwards. He could not get out of his mind the image of
the boy as he turned from him in tears, nor drive away thoughts of the
friend's widow whom he had neglected. This state of mind continued all
the afternoon. Its natural effect was to cause him to cast about in
his mind for some way of getting employment for Hiram that would yield
immediate returns. But nothing presented itself.
"I wonder if I couldn't make room for him here?" he at length
said—"He looks like a bright boy. I know Mr.—is highly pleased with
him. He spoke of getting four dollars a week. That's a good deal to
give to a mere lad. But, I suppose I might make him worth that to me.
And now I begin to think seriously about the matter, I believe I
cannot keep a clear conscience and any longer remain indifferent to
the welfare of my old friend's widow and children. I must look after
them a little more closely than I have heretofore done."
This resolution relieved the mind of Mr. Easy a good deal.
When Hiram left the counting room of the merchant, his spirits were
crushed to the very earth. He found his way back, how he hardly knew,
to his place of business, and mechanically performed the tasks
allotted him, until evening.
Then he returned home, reluctant to meet his mother, and yet
anxious to relieve her state of suspense, even, if in doing so, he
should dash a last hope from her heart. When he came in Mrs. Mayberry
lifted her eyes to his, inquiringly; but dropped them instantly—she
needed no words to tell her that he had suffered a bitter
"You did not get the place?" she at length said, with forced
"No—It was taken this morning. Mr. Easy promised to see about it.
But he didn't do so. When he went this afternoon, it was too late."
Hiram said this with a trembling voice and lips that quivered.
"Thy will be done!" murmured the widow, lifting her eyes upwards.
"If these tender ones are to be taken from their mother's fold, oh,
do thou temper for them the piercing blast, and be their shelter amid
the raging tempests."
A tap at the door brought back the thoughts of Mrs. Mayberry. A
brief struggle with her feelings enabled her to overcome them in time
to receive a visitor with composure. It was the merchant.
"Mr. Easy!" she said in surprise.
"Mrs. Mayberry, how do you do!" There was some restraint and
embarrassment in his manner. He was conscious of having neglected the
widow of his friend, before he came. The humble condition in which he
found her, quickened that consciousness into a sting.
"I am sorry, madam," he said after he had become seated and made a
few inquiries, "that I did not get the place for your son. In fact, I
am to blame in the matter. But, I have been thinking since that he
would suit me exactly, and if you have no objections, I will take him
and pay him a salary of two hundred dollars for the first year."
Mrs. Mayberry tried to reply, but her feelings were too much
excited by this sudden and unlooked for proposal, to allow her to
speak for some moments. Even then her assent was made with tears
glistening on her cheeks.
Arrangements were quickly made for the transfer of Hiram from the
store where he had been engaged, to the counting room of Mr. Easy.
The salary he received was just enough to enable Mrs. Mayberry, with
what she herself earned, to keep her little together, until Hiram,
who proved a valuable assistant in Mr. Easy's business, could command
a larger salary, and render her more important hid.