That was the neatly written sign that had hung so long in the window of Mr. Drake’s grocery store that people wondered why it was that it seemed to be so difficult for him to secure a boy, when the place was such a good one, with chances of promotion. But Mr. Drake could have told them that there were plenty of boys anxious and ready for the position, but that it was hard for him to find one with all the necessary qualifications.
In the first place Mr. Drake required exceptional references, and in addition to that, good security for the boy’s honesty; and though most of the applicants for the position could bring references, none of them were able to furnish the necessary security.
Ned Bown’s face lighted up with hope one morning when he saw the notice on his way down town. Here was just the very chance he had been looking for, and he determined to apply for the vacancy at once.
“Mr. Drake, I want a place very much,” he said, as the merchant looked up from the newspaper he was reading when the boy entered the store.
“And I want a boy very much.” Mr. Drake answered. “So perhaps we can make a bargain. Can you bring me any references and security?”
“I can bring you references Sir,” Ned answered, his hope beginning to diminish at the mention of security.”
That is good, but I have resolved never to take a boy unless someone has confidence enough in his honesty to be willing to go his security.”
“I am afraid I couldn’t furnish any security, sir,” Ned answered sadly, as he realized he had no friend from whom he would like to ask such a favor.
“Then I am afraid we can’t make any bargain,” and Mr. Drake took up his paper again, as if the matter was conclusively settled.
Ned walked slowly out of the store, thinking regretfully of the position he would have been so glad to obtain, and wondering whether in any way it would be possible to get the needed security.
He had almost forgotten about the matter two weeks later, when he went to a confectioner’s store with a school-mate who wanted to buy some candy.
It was a warm day, and the boys were heated with their walk. Presently Ned’s companion exclaimed,--wouldn’t this be a good time to get some ice-cream? Let’s get some. I haven't enough money myself, but can’t you lend me some?” Ned shook his head. I only have the club money in my pocket, and of course I couldn’t use that.”
“Why not?” Harry asked. It wouldn’t be any harm just to use it for a little while, and you could put it back again afterwards. You’re the treasurer, so it wouldn’t matter if you did use it as long as you put it back again. Come on like a good fellow, and stand treat. Some ice-cream would cool us off nicely,” and he made a move for the door of the ice-cream saloon that was at the end of the store, shut off by lace curtains.
But Ned shook his head resolutely.
“No, I can’t use it,” he answered firmly. “I don’t want to be disobliging, Harry, but it wouldn’t be right of me to touch a cent of this money. I’m sorry, for I would like some ice-cream as well as you, but indeed I can’t.”
“I think you’re altogether too particular about a few cents,” grumbled Harry. “Any one would think I was asking you to steal it to hear you talk. You can replace it as soon as you go home if you like, so what can possibly be the harm, I would like to know?”
“Well, you see it’s a trust fund,” Ned answered. “It’s money that has been put in my care, and I must be worthy of the trust. Mother says that just the way people begin, that end up stealing large sums. They take just a little at first, and think they will only borrow it and then put it back; and so they keep on taking a little more every time, until at last they take so much that they can’t replace it, and then they are disgraced. Now, if I don’t take the first step, I shall not go on to anything worse; and so though I could replace this money long before it will be wanted by the club, yet I would not touch a penny of it for anything. I’ll keep my trust.”
“I suppose I’ve got to go without the cream then, since you’re so mighty particular,” Henry answered rather ill-humoredly. “But you’ll find out that you won’t gain anything by being so much more honest than other people.”
A gentleman who had been sitting in the ice-cream saloon, hidden from the boys by the lace curtains looked after them as they passed out of the store, while a satisfied look rested on his face.
The next day when Ned was passing Mr. Drake’s store, he was surprised at being called in, while Mr. Drake inquired,--
“Well, my boy, do you still want to work for me?”
“Yes, Sir, indeed I do,” Ned answered eagerly. “But I can’t furnish any security.”
“Well, I have determined not to wait any longer for the right boy to make his appearance, and I have made up my mind to give you a trial, and see how you suite me. I have reason to feel satisfied as to your honesty since I overheard your conversation with a friend in the confectioner’s yesterday. A boy who will not violate his trust in the smallest particular, may be trusted without any other security than his own word.”
“Don’t you think it pays to be honest, now? Ned answered Harry, when he saw him a few hours later, and told him that Mr. Drake had engaged him.
“Well, maybe it did this time,” Harry grudgingly admitted, but it won’t always.”
He had to confess his mistake, as he found that Ned was soon promoted to a position of responsibility, because his employer learned that he always kept his trust, and could be relied upon.
I think all boys may learn a lesson from Ned. Remember that a trust fund should always be held sacred, and never appropriated to any other uses. If this lesson was only deeply implanted in the hearts of all our boys, we would not hear so much about the dishonesty of those who hold positions of trust.
The Youth’s Instructor
August 3, 1887