Chapter 10: Demi Settles
'Mother, can I have a little serious conversation with you?' asked Demi one
evening, as they sat together enjoying the first fire of the season, while Daisy
wrote letters upstairs and Josie was studying in the little library close by.
'Certainly, dear. No bad news, I hope?' and Mrs Meg looked up from her sewing
with a mixture of pleasure and anxiety on her motherly face; for she dearly loved
a good talk with her son, and knew that he always had something worth telling.
'It will be good news for you, I think,' answered Demi, smiling as he threw away
his paper and went to sit beside her on the little sofa which just held two.
'Let me hear it, then, at once.'
'I know you don't like the reporting, and will be glad to hear that I have given it
'I am very glad! It is too uncertain a business, and there is no prospect of getting
on for a long time. I want you settled in some good place where you can stay,
and in time make money. I wish you liked a profession; but as you don't, any
clean, well-established business will do.'
'What do you say to a railroad office?'
'I don't like it. A noisy, hurried kind of place, I know, with all sorts of rough men
about. I hope it isn't that, dear?'
'I could have it; but does book-keeping in a wholesale leather business please
'No; you'll get round-shouldered writing at a tall desk; and they say, once a book-
keeper always a book-keeper.'
'How does a travelling agent suit your views?'
'Not at all; with all those dreadful accidents, and the exposure and bad food as
you go from place to place, you are sure to get killed or lose your health.'
'I could be private secretary to a literary man; but the salary is small, and may
end any time.'
'That would be better, and more what I want. It isn't that I object to honest work of
any kind; but I don't want my son to spend his best years grubbing for a little
money in a dark office, or be knocked about in a rough-and-tumble scramble to
get on. I want to see you in some business where your tastes and talents can be
developed and made useful; where you can go on rising, and in time put in your
little fortune and be a partner; so that your years of apprenticeship will not be
wasted, but fit you to take your place among the honourable men who make their
lives and work useful and respected. I talked it all over with your dear father
when you were a child; and if he had lived he would have shown you what I
mean, and helped you to be what he was.'
Mrs Meg wiped away a quiet tear as she spoke; for the memory of her husband
was a very tender one, and the education of his children had been a sacred task
to which she gave all her heart and life, and so far she had done wonderfully
well--as her good son and loving daughters tried to prove. Demi's arm was round
her now, as he said, in a voice so like his father's that it was the sweetest music
to her ear: