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The Rise of Silas Lapham Chapter 4

 

The Rise of Silas Lapham Chapter 4
 
 
 
 
PARTI
At almost the exact moment, young Corey, in the library of the Corey home, was discussing the same subject with his fa­ther, Bromfield Corey. As the Lapham girls had suspected, he had found Mr. Lapham more boastful in manner than a gen­tleman should be yet, as he explained to his father, Lapham had not seemed vulgar in any way; he simply appeared to take a pleasure in his success and lie did not hesitate to show it.
 
The father interrupted with a laugh. “But I thought it was the daughter, rather than her father, who interested you. I un­derstand from what your mother told me after meeting her in Canada that the girl is uncommonly pretty.”
 
“There are two of them,” the son answered indifferently. “Oh, two daughters? And is the sister pretty too?”
 
“Not pretty, but rather interesting. She is like her mother,” Tom said. Then, with greater interest, he added, as though the subject was of more importance to him, “I don’t believe that I can make you see Colonel Lapham just as I did. He struck me as very simple-hearted and direct. Of course he could be bor­ing we all can and I suppose his range of ideas is limited. But he is a force, and not a bad one.”
 
“Surely you know what you are about, Tom,” said his fa­ther. “But remember that we are an old Boston family and probably have very little in common with the I '’ohams. I will tell you plainly that I don’t like the idea of a man who has put advertisements of his paint on every rock and hill throughout the whole countryside. I don’t say there are not worse men but he simply isn’t to my taste.”
 
“I suppose, however,” said the son, “that there is nothing really to be ashamed of in house paint. People go into all kinds of things.”
 
His father took his cigarette from his mouth and looked his son full in the face. “Oh, is that it?”
 
“It has crossed my mind,” admitted the son. “I must do something. I’ve wasted time and money enough. I’ve seen much younger men all through the West and South taking care of themselves. I don’t think I was particularly fit for anything down there, but I am ashamed to come back and live upon you, sir.”
 
His father shook his head a little sadly. “Ah, we shall never have a real aristocracy in this country while sons like you, Tom, insist upon going to work instead of living off their parents. It strikes at the very roots of our social system. I am more and more convinced, the longer I know you, that you are descended directly from your great-grandfather, Giles Corey, who worked right up until the day he died. I had supposed that perhaps you wished to marry the daughter’s money, and here you are think­ing of going into business with her father.”
 
Young Corey laughed like a son who sees that his father is a little old-fashioned, yet still has a deep respect for him. “I don’t know that it’s quite as bad as that; but the thing has-cer- tainly crossed my mind. I don’t know how it’s to be approached, and I don’t know that it’s at all possible. But I admit that I ‘took’ to Colonel Lapham from the moment I saw him. He looked as though he ‘meant business’ and I mean business too.” The father smoked thoughtfully. His son’s attitude was diffi­cult for him to understand. He himself had been quite content to live as a gentleman all his life. As a young man he had stud­ied painting in Italy, and, returning to Boston, could possibly have made a name for himself as a portrait painter, if he had not had so much money. But he had plenty of money, left him by his father; and by this time he was married, and beginning to have a family. It was foolish for him to paint portraits for tell you plainly that I don’t like the idea of a man who has put advertisements of his paint on every rock and hill throughout the whole countryside. I don’t say there are not worse men but he simply isn’t to my taste.”
 
“I suppose, however,” said the son, “that there is nothing really to be ashamed of in house paint. People go into all kinds of things.”
 
His father took his cigarette from his mouth and looked his son full in the face. “Oh, is that it?” 
 
“It has crossed my mind,” admitted the son. “I must do something. I’ve wasted time and money enough. I’ve seen much younger men all through the West and South taking care of themselves. I don’t think I was particularly fit for anything down there, but I am ashamed to come back and live upon you, sir.”
 
His father shook his head a little sadly. “Ah, we shall never have a real aristocracy in this country while sons like you, Tom, insist upon going to work instead of living off their parents. It strikes at the very roots of our social system. I am more and more convinced, the longer I know you, that you are descended directly from your great-grandfather, Giles Corey, who worked right up until the day he died. I had supposed that perhaps you wished to marry the daughter’s money, and here you are think­ing of going into business with her father.”
 
Young Corey laughed like a son who sees that his father is a little old-fashioned, yet still has a deep respect for him. “I don’t know that it’s quite as bad as that; but the thing has-cer- tainly crossed my mind. I don’t know how it’s to be approached, and I don’t know that it’s at all possible. But I admit that I ‘took’ to Colonel Lapham from the moment I saw him. He looked as though he ‘meant business’ and I mean business too.” The father smoked thoughtfully. His son’s attitude was diffi­cult for him to understand. He himself had been quite content to live as a gentleman all his life. As a young man he had stud­ied painting in Italy, and, returning to Boston, could possibly have made a name for himself as a portrait painter, if he had not had so much money. But he had plenty of money, left him by his father; and by this time he was married, and beginning to have a family. It was foolish for him to paint portraits for Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What did Tom Corey say to his father about Mr. Lapham?
2. What did he say about Penelope Corey?
3. Why did Mr. Corey think that the Coreys and the Laphams didn’t have much in common?
4. How did Lapham advertise his paint?
5. What was Tom Corey thinking of doing?
6. Why did Mr. Corey think that there would never be a real aristocracy in the United States?
7. Why was it difficult for Mr. Corey to understand his son’s attitude?
8. Why did Tom Corey feel that something had to be done about the family’s fortune?
9. What did Mr. Corey suggest that they might do?
10. Why didn’t Tom think his father’s idea was the right thing to do?
11. What did Tom suggest doing?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
boastful                                  energy
range                                     inherit
countryside                            cotton
aristocracy                             look at
parent                                    look for
descend                                look over
thoughtful                              look through
portrait                                    look up
look up to                               look down upon
PART II
 
Accordingly, the following day, Tom Corey left to see his mother and sisters, who were spending the summer at a small hotel at Bar Harbour. Tom mentioned at once to his mother the new plan which he had been considering. He admitted to her that there seemed no very good opening for him in Texas, from which he had recently returned. He might do as well there as his friend, Loring Stanton, but he doubted if Stanton was doing well. His mother could not deny that his plan had some advantages, but she could not think of any young man of their acquaintance who had gone into the paint business, and it seemed to her that it was not a very dignified kind of work for such a person as Tom.
 
“There was one of those particularly ugly advertisements of Mr. Lapham’s paint along the shore as we came down,” she said.
Corey smiled. “Well, I understand that the paint itself is of very high quality and is considered the best on the market.” “Well, the whole thing’s a little unpleasant to me, Tom,” said his mother finally. “It’s not the kind of business, but the kind of people you would be mixed up with.”
 
“I thought you didn’t find them so bad when, we first met them last summer in Canada.”
 
“But that was before I went to visit them in their home in Nankeen Square.”
 
“You can see them on the water side of Beacon Street when you go back.”
 
Then he told of his meeting with the Lapham family in the new home they were building on Back Bay. His mother simply answered, “It is getting very common down there,” and she did not try to oppose anything further to his plan.
 
The young man went to see Colonel Lapham a few days after returning to Boston. He paid his visit directly to Lapham’s of­fice and, as simply as possible, laid his plan before Lapham. He had a small amount of capital which he was ready to invest, he said, but he knew Lapham had no need of capital and no desire for a partner. What young Corey suggested, therefore, was that he be permitted to introduce Lapham’s paint in several foreign countries, particularly those of South America. He knew Spanish quite well and had also traveled widely in many of these countries.
 
The colonel was so surprised and impressed that he could hardly speak. He turned his thick neck, and looked round at the office door to see if it was shut. He would not have liked any of the office workers outside to hear him, but there is no saying what amount of money he would have given if his wife had been there to hear what Corey said. 
 
As Corey went into more detail, the colonel listened with greater interest, yet now he shook his head. “But the paint’s placing itself in some of those foreign markets as fast as there’s any need for it,” he said. “It wouldn’t pay us to send anybody out to look after it. Your salary and expenses would eat up about all we should make on it.”
 
“Yes,” returned the young man bravely, “if you had to pay me a salary and expenses. But I propose to work for commis­sions.” The colonel was beginning to shake his head again, but Corey hurried on, “I haven’t come to you without finding out. something about your paint, and I know how it stands with those who know best. I believe in it.”
 
Lapham lifted his head and looked at the young man, deep­ly moved. “It’s the best paint in God’s whole world,” he said.
“It’s the best in the market,” said Corey; and he repeated, “I believe in it.”
 
“You believe in it?” began the colonel, and he seemed to warm to the young man in every way, not only because he could not help doing so toward anyone who believed in his paint, but because a few days earlier, he had done this innocent person a great wrong in speaking so unflatteringly of his in­stincts and character.
 
Corey rose. “You mustn’t let me take too much of your time,” he said, looking at his watch. “I don’t expect you to give me a detailed answer on the spot. All that I ask is that you con­sider what I propose.”
 
“Don’t hurry,” said Lapham. “Sit still. I want to tell you about the paint,” he added. “I want to tell you all about it. I am taking the boat down to Nantasket but I can catch a later one. Look here!” The colonel pulled open a drawer, as Corey sat down again, and took out a picture of the mine. “Here’s where we get it, that is, the raw material. This picture doesn’t half do the place justice. It’s one of the prettiest places in the country, and here’s the very spot,” he covered it with his huge finger, “where my father found the paint more than forty years ago. Yes, sir!”
 
He went on and told the whole story in great detail, how his father had first discovered the paint sticking to the roots of a larpe tree which had been blown down during a storm. But, though his father had great faith in his discovery, he had been very poor and unable to do anything about putting the paint on the market. Lapham himself had started out in life as a driver of a stagecoach. Later, with money saved up, he bought the stagecoach station. The station needed painting badly and one day he decided to try some of the paint from his father’s old farm. The paint was an immediate success, and from that time on he had given all his time and energy toward establish­ing himself in the paint business. Mrs. Lapham had helped him greatly at first.
 
“It’s a very interesting story,” said Corey at last, with a long breath, as both men rose and Lapham hurriedly put on his coat. He had missed the earlier boats to Nantasket and there remained only a few minutes in which to catch the last one for the night. It occurred to Lapham that Corey might go along with him to Nantasket; they could continue to discuss their business on the way. “I can give you a bed as well as not,” said Lapham. “And then we can finish up our talk.”
 
“Well, I can’t see why I shouldn’t,” Corey allowed himself to say after a moment, in answer to Lapham’s invitation. “I ad­mit I should like to have the matter settled myself, if it can be finished up in the right way.”
 
“Well, we’ll see,” said Lapham. “Want to send any word home first?”
 
“No, while the rest of the family is away during the summer, my father and I come and go as we like, without keeping much track of each other. If I don’t come home, he knows I’m not there. That’s all.”
 
“Well, that’s convenient. You’ll find you can’t do that when you’re married.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What did Mrs. Corey think about Tom’s going into the paint business?
2. When had Mrs. Corey seemed to like the Laphams? What had changed her mind?
3. What was the plan that Tom Corey laid before Lapham?
4. What was the colonel’s reaction to Tom’s plan?
5.How did Tom propose to be paid?
6. What had he found out about Lapham’s paint?
7. Where and when had the paint been found?
8. How had Lapham gotten his business started?
9. What did Lapham invite Tom Corey to do?
 
B. Use the following words and own:
dignified                        be mixed up
capital                            eat up
salary                             blow up
commission                 blow up
raw                                  keep track of