Tommy was sitting on the bench near the end of the lane. By his side was a basin tied up in a cotton handkerchief; in the buttonhole of his coat there was a sprig of sweet-william. The girls from the big house came and stood still in front of him, staring at him rudely, but he did not speak.
"Tommy, are you tired?" they asked.
"Yes," Tommy answered, crossly, "I'm very tired, and father's working in the fields, and I have got to take him his dinner before I go to the fair."
"Why don't the servants take it?"
"Servants!" said Tommy scornfully; "we've no servants. We are not rich people!"
"Wouldn't you like to be rich?" the eldest sister asked, while the two little ones walked slowly round Tommy, looking at the feather in his hat; he had put it there so that he might look smart when he went on to the village.
"No, it's too expensive," said Tommy, shaking his head; "rich people have to buy such a lot of things, and to wear fine clothes, and they can't have dinner in the fields."
"My father has his dinner in a room," said the girl.
"That's because he's rich," answered Tommy, "and people would talk if he didn't; rich people can't do as they like, as poor can."
"And my father lives in a big house," the girl went on, for she was vulgar, and liked to boast.
"Yes, and it takes up a lot of room; my father's got the whole world to live in if he likes; that's better than a house."
"But my father doesn't work," said the girl, scornfully.
"Mine does," said Tommy, proudly. "Rich people can't work," he went on, "so they are obliged to get the poor folk to do it. Why, we have made everything in the world. Oh! it's a fine thing to be poor."
"But suppose all the rich folk died, what would the poor folk do?"
"But suppose all the poor folk died," cried Tommy, "what would the rich folk do? They can sit in carriages, but can't build them, and eat dinners, but can't cook them." And he got up and went his way. "Poor folk ought to be very kind to rich folk, for it's hard to be the like of them," he said to himself as he went along.