Chapter II. A Change for the Better

"I am glad to see you again, lad," Captain David said, when Cyril entered his shop. "I have been thinking of the news you gave me last week, and the mistress and I have been talking it over. Where are you lodging?"

"I have been lodging until now in Holborn," Cyril replied; "but I am going to move."

"Yes; that is what we thought you would be doing. It is always better to make a change after a loss. I don't want to interfere in your business, lad, but have you any friends you are thinking of going to?"

"No, sir; I do not know a soul in London save those I work for."

"That is bad, lad--very bad. I was talking it over with my wife, and I said that maybe you were lonely. I am sure, lad, you are one of the right sort. I don't mean only in your work, for as for that I would back you against any scrivener in London, but I mean about yourself. It don't need half an eye to see that you have not been brought up to this sort of thing, though you have taken to it so kindly, but there is not one in a thousand boys of your age who would have settled down to work and made their way without a friend to help them as you have done; it shows that there is right good stuff in you. There, I am so long getting under weigh that I shall never get into port if I don't steer a straight course. Now, my ideas and my wife's come to this: if you have got no friends you will have to take a lodging somewhere among strangers, and then it would be one of two things--you would either stop at home and mope by yourself, or you would go out, and maybe get into bad company. If I had not come across you I should have had to employ a clerk, and he would either have lived here with us or I should have had to pay him enough to keep house for himself. Now in fact you are a clerk; for though you are only here for six hours a week--you do all the work there is to do, and no clerk could do more. Well, we have got an attic upstairs which is not used, and if you like to come here and live with us, my wife and I will make you heartily welcome."

"Thank you, indeed," Cyril said warmly. "It is of all things what I should like; but of course I should wish to pay you for my board. I can afford to do so if you will employ me for the same hours as at present."

"No, I would not have that, lad; but if you like we can reckon your board against what I now pay you. We feed John Wilkes and the two apprentices, and one mouth extra will make but little difference. I don't want it to be a matter of obligation, so we will put your board against the work you do for me. I shall consider that we are making a good bargain."

"It is your pleasure to say so, sir, but I cannot tell you what a load your kind offer takes off my mind. The future has seemed very dark to me."

"Very well. That matter is settled, then. Come upstairs with me and I will present you to my wife and daughter; they have heard me speak of you so often that they will be glad to see you. In the first place, though, I must ask you your name. Since you first signed articles and entered the crew I have never thought of asking you."

"My name is Cyril, sir--Cyril Shenstone."

His employer nodded and at once led the way upstairs. A motherly looking woman rose from the seat where she was sitting at work, as they entered the living-room.

"This is my Prince of Scriveners, Mary, the lad I have often spoken to you about. His name is Cyril; he has accepted the proposal we talked over last night, and is going to become one of the crew on board our ship."

"I am glad to see you," she said to Cyril, holding out her hand to him. "I have not met you before, but I feel very grateful to you. Till you came, my husband was bothered nearly out of his wits; he used to sit here worrying over his books, and writing from the time the shop closed till the hour for bed, and Nellie and I dared not to say as much as a word. Now we see no more of his books, and he is able to go out for a walk in the fields with us as he used to do before."

"It is very kind of you to say so, Mistress," Cyril said earnestly; "but it is I, on the contrary, who am deeply grateful to you for the offer Captain Dave has been good enough to make me. You cannot tell the pleasure it has given me, for you cannot understand how lonely and friendless I have been feeling. Believe me, I will strive to give you as little trouble as possible, and to conform myself in all ways to your wishes."

At this moment Nellie Dowsett came into the room. She was a pretty girl some eighteen years of age.

"This is Cyril, your father's assistant, Nellie," her mother said.

"You are welcome, Master Cyril. I have been wanting to see you. Father has been praising you up to the skies so often that I have had quite a curiosity to see what you could be like."

"Your father is altogether too good, Mistress Nellie, and makes far more of my poor ability than it deserves."

"And is he going to live with us, mother?" Nellie asked.

"Yes, child; he has accepted your father's offer."

Nellie clapped her hands.

"That is good," she said. "I shall expect you to escort me out sometimes, Cyril. Father always wants me to go down to the wharf to look at the ships or to go into the fields; but I want to go sometimes to see the fashions, and there is no one to take me, for John Wilkes always goes off to smoke a pipe with some sailor or other, and the apprentices are stupid and have nothing to say for themselves; and besides, one can't walk alongside a boy in an apprentice cap."

"I shall be very happy to, Mistress, when my work is done, though I fear that I shall make but a poor escort, for indeed I have had no practice whatever in the esquiring of dames."

"I am sure you will do very well," Nellie said, nodding approvingly. "Is it true that you have been in France? Father said he was told so."

"Yes; I have lived almost all my life in France."

"And do you speak French?"

"Yes; I speak it as well as English."

"It must have been very hard to learn?"

"Not at all. It came to me naturally, just as English did."

"You must not keep him any longer now, Nellie; he has other appointments to keep, and when he has done that, to go and pack up his things and see that they are brought here by a porter. He can answer some more of your questions when he comes here this evening."

Cyril returned to Holborn with a lighter heart than he had felt for a long time. His preparations for the move took him but a short time, and two hours later he was installed in a little attic in the ship-chandler's house. He spent half-an-hour in unpacking his things, and then heard a stentorian shout from below,--

"Masthead, ahoy! Supper's waiting."

Supposing that this hail was intended for himself, he at once went downstairs. The table was laid. Mistress Dowsett took her seat at the head; her husband sat on one side of her, and Nellie on the other. John Wilkes sat next to his master, and beyond him the elder of the two apprentices. A seat was left between Nellie and the other apprentice for Cyril.

"Now our crew is complete, John," Captain Dave said. "We have been wanting a supercargo badly."

"Ay, ay, Captain Dave, there is no doubt we have been short-handed in that respect; but things have been more ship-shape lately."

"That is so, John. I can make a shift to keep the vessel on her course, but when it comes to writing up the log, and keeping the reckoning, I make but a poor hand at it. It was getting to be as bad as that voyage of the Jane in the Levant, when the supercargo had got himself stabbed at Lemnos."

"I mind it, Captain--I mind it well. And what a trouble there was with the owners when we got back again!"

"Yes, yes," the Captain said; "it was worse work than having a brush with a Barbary corsair. I shall never forget that day. When I went to the office to report, the three owners were all in.

"'Well, Captain Dave, back from your voyage?' said the littlest of the three. 'Made a good voyage, I hope?'

"First-rate, says I, except that the supercargo got killed at Lemnos by one of them rascally Greeks.

"'Dear, dear,' said another of them--he was a prim, sanctimonious sort--'Has our brother Jenkins left us?'

"I don't know about his leaving us, says I, but we left him sure enough in a burying-place there.

"'And how did you manage without him?'

"I made as good a shift as I could, I said. I have sold all the cargo, and I have brought back a freight of six tons of Turkey figs, and four hundred boxes of currants. And these two bags hold the difference.

"'Have you brought the books with you, Captain?'

"Never a book, said I. I have had to navigate the ship and to look after the crew, and do the best I could at each port. The books are on board, made out up to the day before the supercargo was killed, three months ago; but I have never had time to make an entry since.

"They looked at each other like owls for a minute or two, and then they all began to talk at once. How had I sold the goods? had I charged the prices mentioned in the invoice? what percentage had I put on for profit? and a lot of other things. I waited until they were all out of breath, and then I said I had not bothered about invoices. I knew pretty well the prices such things cost in England. I clapped on so much more for the expenses of the voyage and a fair profit. I could tell them what I had paid for the figs and the currants, and for some bags of Smyrna sponges I had bought, but as to the prices I had charged, it was too much to expect that I could carry them in my head. All I knew was I had paid for the things I had bought, I had paid all the port dues and other charges, I had advanced the men one-fourth of their wages each month, and I had brought them back the balance.

"Such a hubbub you never heard. One would have thought they would have gone raving mad. The sanctimonious partner was the worst of the lot. He threatened me with the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen, and went on till I thought he would have had a fit.

"Look here, says I, at last, I'll tell you what I will do. You tell me what the cargo cost you altogether, and put on so much for the hire of the ship. I will pay you for them and settle up with the crew, and take the cargo and sell it. That is a fair offer. And I advise you to keep civil tongues in your heads, or I will knock them off and take my chance before the Lord Mayor for assault and battery.

"With that I took off my coat and laid it on a bench. I reckon they saw that I was in earnest, and they just sat as mum as mice. Then the little man said, in a quieter sort of voice,--

"'You are too hasty, Captain Dowsett. We know you to be an honest man and a good sailor, and had no suspicion that you would wrong us; but no merchant in the City of London could hear that his business had been conducted in such a way as you have carried it through without for a time losing countenance. Let us talk the matter over reasonably and quietly.'

"That is just what I am wanting, I said; and if there hasn't been reason and quiet it is from no fault of mine.

"'Well, please to put your coat on again, Captain, and let us see how matters stand!'

"Then they took their ink-horns and pens, and, on finding out what I had paid for the figs and other matters, they reckoned them up; then they put down what I said was due to the sailors and the mate and myself; then they got out some books, and for an hour they were busy reckoning up figures; then they opened the bags and counted up the gold we had brought home. Well, when they had done, you would hardly have known them for the same men. First of all, they went through all their calculations again to be sure they had made no mistake about them; then they laid down their pens, and the sanctimonious man mopped the perspiration from his face, and the others smiled at each other. Then the biggest of the three, who had scarcely spoken before, said,--

"'Well, Captain Dowsett, I must own that my partners were a little hasty. The result of our calculations is that the voyage has been a satisfactory one, I may almost say very satisfactory, and that you must have disposed of the goods to much advantage. It has been a new and somewhat extraordinary way of doing business, but I am bound to say that the result has exceeded our expectations, and we trust that you will command the Jane for many more voyages.'

"Not for me, says I. You can hand me over the wages due to me, and you will find the Jane moored in the stream just above the Tower. You will find her in order and shipshape; but never again do I set my foot on board her or on any other vessel belonging to men who have doubted my honesty.

"Nor did I. I had a pretty good name among traders, and ten days later I started for the Levant again in command of a far smarter vessel than the Jane had ever been."

"And we all went with you, Captain," John Wilkes said, "every man jack of us. And on her very next voyage the Jane was captured by the Algerines, and I reckon there are some of the poor fellows working as slaves there now; for though Blake did blow the place pretty nigh out of water a few years afterwards, it is certain that the Christian slaves handed over to him were not half those the Moors had in their hands."

"It would seem, Captain Dowsett, from your story, that you can manage very well without a supercargo?" Cyril said quietly.

"Ay, lad; but you see that was a ready-money business. I handed over the goods and took the cash; there was no accounts to be kept. It was all clear and above board. But it is a different thing in this ship altogether, when, instead of paying down on the nail for what they get, you have got to keep an account of everything and send in all their items jotted down in order. Why, Nellie, your tongue seems quieter than usual."

"You have not given me a chance, father. You have been talking ever since we sat down to table."

Supper was now over. The two apprentices at once retired. Cyril would have done the same, but Mistress Dowsett said,--

"Sit you still, Cyril. The Captain says that you are to be considered as one of the officers of the ship, and we shall be always glad to have you here, though of course you can always go up to your own room, or go out, when you feel inclined."

"I have to go out three times a week to work," Cyril said; "but all the other evenings I shall be glad indeed to sit here, Mistress Dowsett. You cannot tell what a pleasure it is to me to be in an English home like this."

It was not long before John Wilkes went out.

"He is off to smoke his pipe," the Captain said. "I never light mine till he goes. I can't persuade him to take his with me; he insists it would not be manners to smoke in the cabin."

"He is quite right, father," Nellie said. "It is bad enough having you smoke here. When mother's friends or mine come in they are well-nigh choked; they are not accustomed to it as we are, for a respectable London citizen does not think of taking tobacco."

"I am a London citizen, Nellie, but I don't set up any special claim to respectability. I am a sea-captain, though that rascally Greek cannon-ball and other circumstances have made a trader of me, sorely against my will; and if I could not have my pipe and my glass of grog here I would go and sit with John Wilkes in the tavern at the corner of the street, and I suppose that would not be even as respectable as smoking here."

"Nellie doesn't mean, David, that she wants you to give up smoking; only she thinks that John is quite right to go out to take his pipe. And I must say I think so too. You know that when you have sea-captains of your acquaintance here, you always send the maid off to bed and smoke in the kitchen."

"Ay, ay, my dear, I don't want to turn your room into a fo'castle. There is reason in all things. I suppose you don't smoke, Master Cyril?"

"No, Captain Dave, I have never so much as thought of such a thing. In France it is the fashion to take snuff, but the habit seemed to me a useless one, and I don't think that I should ever have taken to it."

"I wonder," Captain Dave said, after they had talked for some time, "that after living in sight of the sea for so long your thoughts never turned that way."

"I cannot say that I have never thought of it," Cyril said. "I have thought that I should greatly like to take foreign voyages, but I should not have cared to go as a ship's boy, and to live with men so ignorant that they could not even write their own names. My thoughts have turned rather to the Army; and when I get older I think of entering some foreign service, either that of Sweden or of one of the Protestant German princes. I could obtain introductions through which I might enter as a cadet, or gentleman volunteer. I have learnt German, and though I cannot speak it as I can French or English, I know enough to make my way in it."

"Can you use your sword, Cyril?" Nellie Dowsett asked.

"I have had very good teaching," Cyril replied, "and hope to be able to hold my own."

"Then you are not satisfied with this mode of life?" Mistress Dowsett said.

"I am satisfied with it, Mistress, inasmuch as I can earn money sufficient to keep me. But rather than settle down for life as a city scrivener, I would go down to the river and ship on board the first vessel that would take me, no matter where she sailed for."

"I think you are wrong," Mistress Dowsett said gravely. "My husband tells me how clever you are at figures, and you might some day get a good post in the house of one of our great merchants."

"Maybe it would be so," Cyril said; "but such a life would ill suit me. I have truly a great desire to earn money: but it must be in some way to suit my taste."

"And why do you want to earn a great deal of money, Cyril?" Nellie laughed, while her mother shook her head disapprovingly.

"I wish to have enough to buy my father's estate back again," he said, "and though I know well enough that it is not likely I shall ever do it, I shall fight none the worse that I have such a hope in my mind."

"Bravo, lad!" Captain Dave said. "I knew not that there was an estate in the case, though I did hear that you were the son of a Royalist. It is a worthy ambition, boy, though if it is a large one 'tis scarce like that you will get enough to buy it back again."

"It is not a very large one," Cyril said. "'Tis down in Norfolk, but it was a grand old house--at least, so I have heard my father say, though I have but little remembrance of it, as I was but three years old when I left it. My father, who was Sir Aubrey Shenstone, had hoped to recover it; but he was one of the many who sold their estates for far less than their value in order to raise money in the King's service, and, as you are aware, none of those who did so have been reinstated, but only those who, having had their land taken from them by Parliament, recovered them because their owners had no title-deeds to show, save the grant of Parliament that was of no effect in the Courts. Thus the most loyal men--those who sold their estates to aid the King--have lost all, while those that did not so dispossess themselves in his service are now replaced on their land."

"It seems very unfair," Nellie said indignantly.

"It is unfair to them, assuredly, Mistress Nellie. And yet it would be unfair to the men who bought, though often they gave but a tenth of their value, to be turned out again unless they received their money back. It is not easy to see where that money could come from, for assuredly the King's privy purse would not suffice to pay all the money, and equally certain is it that Parliament would not vote a great sum for that purpose."

"It is a hard case, lad--a hard case," Captain Dave said, as he puffed the smoke from his pipe. "Now I know how you stand, I blame, you in no way that you long more for a life of adventure than to settle down as a city scrivener. I don't think even my wife, much as she thinks of the city, could say otherwise."

"It alters the case much," Mistress Dowsett said. "I did not know that Cyril was the son of a Knight, though it was easy enough to see that his manners accord not with his present position. Still there are fortunes made in the city, and no honest work is dishonouring even to a gentleman's son."

"Not at all, Mistress," Cyril said warmly. "'Tis assuredly not on that account that I would fain seek more stirring employment; but it was always my father's wish and intention that, should there be no chance of his ever regaining the estate, I should enter foreign service, and I have always looked forward to that career."

"Well, I will wager that you will do credit to it, lad," Captain Dave said. "You have proved that you are ready to turn your hand to any work that may come to you. You have shown a manly spirit, my boy, and I honour you for it; and by St. Anthony I believe that some day, unless a musket-ball or a pike-thrust brings you up with a round turn, you will live to get your own back again."

Cyril remained talking for another two hours, and then betook himself to bed. After he had gone, Mistress Dowsett said, after a pause,--

"Do you not think, David, that, seeing that Cyril is the son of a Knight, it would be more becoming to give him the room downstairs instead of the attic where he is now lodged?"

The old sailor laughed.

"That is woman-kind all over," he said. "It was good enough for him before, and now forsooth, because the lad mentioned, and assuredly in no boasting way, that his father had been a Knight, he is to be treated differently. He would not thank you himself for making the change, dame. In the first place, it would make him uncomfortable, and he might make an excuse to leave us altogether; and in the second, you may be sure that he has been used to no better quarters than those he has got. The Royalists in France were put to sore shifts to live, and I fancy that he has fared no better since he came home. His father would never have consented to his going out to earn money by keeping the accounts of little city traders like myself had it not been that he was driven to it by want. No, no, wife; let the boy go on as he is, and make no difference in any way. I liked him before, and I like him all the better now, for putting his gentlemanship in his pocket and setting manfully to work instead of hanging on the skirts of some Royalist who has fared better than his father did. He is grateful as it is--that is easy to see--for our taking him in here. We did that partly because he proved a good worker and has taken a lot of care off my shoulders, partly because he was fatherless and alone. I would not have him think that we are ready to do more because he is a Knight's son. Let the boy be, and suffer him to steer his ship his own course. If, when the time comes, we can further his objects in any way we will do it with right good will. What do you think of him, Nellie?" he asked, changing the subject.

"He is a proper young fellow, father, and I shall be well content to go abroad escorted by him instead of having your apprentice, Robert Ashford, in attendance on me. He has not a word to say for himself, and truly I like him not in anyway."

"He is not a bad apprentice, Nellie, and John Wilkes has but seldom cause to find fault with him, though I own that I have no great liking myself for him; he never seems to look one well in the face, which, I take it, is always a bad sign. I know no harm of him; but when his apprenticeship is out, which it will be in another year, I shall let him go his own way, for I should not care to have him on the premises."

"Methinks you are very unjust, David. The lad is quiet and regular in his ways; he goes twice every Sunday to the Church of St. Alphage, and always tells me the texts of the sermons."

The Captain grunted.

"Maybe so, wife; but it is easy to get hold of the text of a sermon without having heard it. I have my doubts whether he goes as regularly to St. Alphage's as he says he does. Why could he not go with us to St. Bennet's?"

"He says he likes the administrations of Mr. Catlin better, David. And, in truth, our parson is not one of the stirring kind."

"So much the better," Captain Dave said bluntly. "I like not these men that thump the pulpit and make as if they were about to jump out head foremost. However, I don't suppose there is much harm in the lad, and it may be that his failure to look one in the face is not so much his fault as that of nature, which endowed him with a villainous squint. Well, let us turn in; it is past nine o'clock, and high time to be a-bed."

Cyril seemed to himself to have entered upon a new life when he stepped across the threshold of David Dowsett's store. All his cares and anxieties had dropped from him. For the past two years he had lived the life of an automaton, starting early to his work, returning in the middle of the day to his dinner,--to which as often as not he sat down alone,--and spending his evenings in utter loneliness in the bare garret, where he was generally in bed long before his father returned. He blamed himself sometimes during the first fortnight of his stay here for the feeling of light-heartedness that at times came over him. He had loved his father in spite of his faults, and should, he told himself, have felt deeply depressed at his loss; but nature was too strong for him. The pleasant evenings with Captain Dave and his family were to him delightful; he was like a traveller who, after a cold and cheerless journey, comes in to the warmth of a fire, and feels a glow of comfort as the blood circulates briskly through his veins. Sometimes, when he had no other engagements, he went out with Nellie Dowsett, whose lively chatter was new and very amusing to him. Sometimes they went up into Cheapside, and into St. Paul's, but more often sallied out of the city at Aldgate, and walked into the fields. On these occasions he carried a stout cane that had been his father's, for Nellie tried in vain to persuade him to gird on a sword.

"You are a gentleman, Cyril," she would argue, "and have a right to carry one."

"I am for the present a sober citizen, Mistress Nellie, and do not wish to assume to be of any other condition. Those one sees with swords are either gentlemen of the Court, or common bullies, or maybe highwaymen. After nightfall it is different; for then many citizens carry their swords, which indeed are necessary to protect them from the ruffians who, in spite of the city watch, oftentimes attack quiet passers-by; and if at any time I escort you to the house of one of your friends, I shall be ready to take my sword with me. But in the daytime there is no occasion for a weapon, and, moreover, I am full young to carry one, and this stout cane would, were it necessary, do me good service, for I learned in France the exercise that they call the baton, which differs little from our English singlestick."

While Cyril was received almost as a member of the family by Captain Dave and his wife, and found himself on excellent terms with John Wilkes, he saw that he was viewed with dislike by the two apprentices. He was scarcely surprised at this. Before his coming, Robert Ashford had been in the habit of escorting his young mistress when she went out, and had no doubt liked these expeditions, as a change from the measuring out of ropes and weighing of iron in the store. Then, again, the apprentices did not join in the conversation at table unless a remark was specially addressed to them; and as Captain Dave was by no means fond of his elder apprentice, it was but seldom that he spoke to him. Robert Ashford was between eighteen and nineteen. He was no taller than Cyril, but it would have been difficult to judge his age by his face, which had a wizened look; and, as Nellie said one day, in his absence, he might pass very well for sixty.

It was easy enough for Cyril to see that Robert Ashford heartily disliked him; the covert scowls that he threw across the table at meal-time, and the way in which he turned his head and feigned to be too busy to notice him as he passed through the shop, were sufficient indications of ill-will. The younger apprentice, Tom Frost, was but a boy of fifteen; he gave Cyril the idea of being a timid lad. He did not appear to share his comrade's hostility to him, but once or twice, when Cyril came out from the office after making up the accounts of the day, he fancied that the boy glanced at him with an expression of anxiety, if not of terror.

"If it were not," Cyril said to himself, "that Tom is clearly too nervous and timid to venture upon an act of dishonesty, I should say that he had been pilfering something; but I feel sure that he would not attempt such a thing as that, though I am by no means certain that Robert Ashford, with his foxy face and cross eyes, would not steal his master's goods or any one else's did he get the chance. Unless he were caught in the act, he could do it with impunity, for everything here is carried on in such a free-and-easy fashion that any amount of goods might be carried off without their being missed."

After thinking the matter over, he said, one afternoon when his employer came in while he was occupied at the accounts,--

"I have not seen anything of a stock-book, Captain Dave. Everything else is now straight, and balanced up to to-day. Here is the book of goods sold, the book of goods received, and the ledger with the accounts; but there is no stock-book such as I find in almost all the other places where I work."

"What do I want with a stock-book?" Captain Dave asked.

"You cannot know how you stand without it," Cyril replied. "You know how much you have paid, and how much you have received during the year; but unless you have a stock-book you do not know whether the difference between the receipts and expenditure represents profit, for the stock may have so fallen in value during the year that you may really have made a loss while seeming to make a profit."

"How can that be?" Captain Dave asked. "I get a fair profit on every article."

"There ought to be a profit, of course," Cyril said; "but sometimes it is found not to be so. Moreover, if there is a stock-book you can tell at any time, without the trouble of opening bins and weighing metal, how much stock you have of each article you sell, and can order your goods accordingly."

"How would you do that?"

"It is very simple, Captain Dave," Cyril said. "After taking stock of the whole of the goods, I should have a ledger in which each article would have a page or more to itself, and every day I should enter from John Wilkes's sales-book a list of the goods that have gone out, each under its own heading. Thus, at any moment, if you were to ask how much chain you had got in stock I could tell you within a fathom. When did you take stock last?"

"I should say it was about fifteen months since. It was only yesterday John Wilkes was saying we had better have a thorough overhauling."

"Quite time, too, I should think, Captain Dave. I suppose you have got the account of your last stock-taking, with the date of it?"

"Oh, yes, I have got that;" and the Captain unlocked his desk and took out an account-book. "It has been lying there ever since. It took a wonderful lot of trouble to do, and I had a clerk and two men in for a fortnight, for of course John and the boys were attending to their usual duties. I have often wondered since why I should have had all that trouble over a matter that has never been of the slightest use to me."

"Well, I hope you will take it again, sir; it is a trouble, no doubt, but you will find it a great advantage."

"Are you sure you think it needful, Cyril?"

"Most needful, Captain Dave. You will see the advantage of it afterwards."

"Well, if you think so, I suppose it must be done," the Captain said, with a sigh; "but it will be giving you a lot of trouble to keep this new book of yours."

"That is nothing, sir. Now that I have got all the back work up it will be a simple matter to keep the daily work straight. I shall find ample time to do it without any need of lengthening my hours."

Cyril now set to work in earnest, and telling Mrs. Dowsett he had some books that he wanted to make up in his room before going to bed, he asked her to allow him to keep his light burning.

Mrs. Dowsett consented, but shook her head and said he would assuredly injure his health if he worked by candle light.

Fortunately, John Wilkes had just opened a fresh sales-book, and Cyril told him that he wished to refer to some particulars in the back books. He first opened the ledger by inscribing under their different heads the amount of each description of goods kept in stock at the last stock-taking, and then entered under their respective heads all the sales that had been made, while on an opposite page he entered the amount purchased. It took him a month's hard work, and he finished it on the very day that the new stock-taking concluded.