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The Pond House

by J.W. Watson


Forty years ago I was placed as junior clerk in the house of Ayerigg and Co., who will be well remembered as leading merchants of the time. The first year of my service with the house was marked by an incident, so strongly fastened on my memory, productive of such great consequences to all concerned, and so powerfully recurring tonight, that I shall use my sleepless hours in putting upon paper what comes up in my brain with the vividness of yesterday.

My fellow clerks were Jared Palmer and Wilson Elliott. Two men more entirely dissimilar in style and habit it would he impossible to find, and yet these two were the firmest friends—more, I may say, like brothers than otherwise. Palmer was the eldest. He was of a quiet, undemonstrative manner; more given to musing absent-mindedness than any other peculiarity—laughing seldom, and apparently enjoyed a silent sociality with more relish than scenes of merriment and pleasure. We spoke of Palmer as of one who was destined for success as a merchant. He was careful, and attentive to duty; and was generally supposed to save a large part from his salary of $500 per annum— a salary which in those days was liberal for a young man.

Elliott, on the contrary, was loose and lavish in his expenditure. He was a gay, handsome fellow, loved dress, and dressed well. His joyous disposition never led him into dissipation by wine or by dissolute companions. When Elliott overreached his income it was never from these causes, but rather from extravagance in dress, or an outlay that his means did not warrant, in order to shine in female society. His salary was the same as Palmers, and yet many times I have known him, as the month was approaching its completion, and pay-day yet some distance away, to borrow of his more saving associate such sums as were necessary to meet casual expenditures until he was again in funds. Whatever… Read More