BOUND FOR CALIFORNIA

“WHAT do you think of my plan, Mr. Sharp?” asked Tom, after describing
in detail his proposed journey.

“It is likely to be rather a wild-goose chase, Tom.”

“I expected you would say so.”

“But you want my consent, nevertheless?”

“Yes, sir.”

“As your mind is fixed upon it, I will not interpose any objections, but
I have not the slightest expectation that you will succeed.”

“Even if I do not,” urged Tom, “I shall enjoy the journey.”

“And spend your money.”

“Not all of it.”

“Remember you have but a few hundred dollars with me.”

“Mr. Armstrong told me that he should probably be able to pay me thirty
cents on a dollar. That will be three thousand dollars. So, you see, I
shall have something to fall back upon when I return.”

“I am glad to hear it. It is much better than anticipated.”

“Besides, I shall only ask you to give me a hundred dollars, beside
paying for my ticket.”

“Then you won’t have enough to pay for returning.”

“I mean to earn that,” said Tom confidently.

“You may not be as fortunate as you expect.”

“I am not afraid,” said Tom, “if I have my health. If I get sick, I will
write to you.”

“When do you want the money?”

“At once, if possible. I want to sail by the next steamer.”

“The money shall be ready. I am not sure that I am doing right in
humoring your whim, but a willful lad must have his way. By the way,
Tom, I want to give you one piece of advice.”

“What is that, sir?”

“You know the name you have here?”

“The Bully of the Village,” said Tom, smiling.

“Yes. I am afraid you have deserved it. Now that you have assumed a
man’s responsibilities, I hope you will give up your domineering spirit,
and have a greater regard for the rights of others.”

“I mean to,” said Tom. “I think it has done me good to lose my fortune.
I feel twice as old and twice as much confidence in myself as before.”

“That is well, but your success in life will depend largely upon the
favorable impression you make upon others. If you still play the bully,
you cannot expect to be liked.”

“I dare say you are right, sir,” said Tom thoughtfully. “I will remember
what you say. But there is one thing I cannot give up.”

“What is that?”

“I mean to stand up for my rights. I won’t let anybody bully over me.”

“Be sure you don’t make any mistake about your rights. Some claim more
than they are entitled to. You see I speak plainly.”

“Thank you, sir. I have no doubt you speak for my good. I will remember
what you say.”

A week later Tom was a passenger on a steamer bound for California. He
had got over his first feeling of seasickness, and was in a condition to
enjoy his meals.

The steamer was full, but not crowded, and as usual contained in its
passenger-list representatives of different social grades.

Tom was bright and active, and prepossessing in his appearance, and
became known to all. He even penetrated at times into that part of the
ship occupied by the steerage passengers.

His attention was particularly drawn to one poor fellow, a young
Irishman of twenty-two, who was seasick through the entire voyage. Now,
seasickness is scarcely tolerable if one has the best accommodations; in
the steerage it must be perfect misery.

Tom carried from the table some fruit almost daily to poor Mike Lawton,
whose stomach revolted from the coarse food to which he was entitled,
and cheered up the poor fellow not a little.

“What would I do widout your kindness?” said Mike one day.

“Don’t speak of it,” said Tom. “It isn’t much to do. I know how bad it
feels to be seasick.”

“Sure, it’s worse than the faver I had onc’t in Ireland, when they
didn’t expect I’d live to see this day. If I was goin’ to be seasick
much longer, I’d wish I hadn’t.”

“Cheer up, Mike. You’ll forget all about it when you get to shore.”

“Then I wish I was there now. But there’s one thing I won’t forget, and
that is how kind a rich young gentleman like you was to a poor fellow
like me.”

“You’re mistaken about my being rich, Mike,” said Tom.

“Sure you look like it.”

“I was rich once, but I am not now. I am going out like you to seek my
fortune.”

“Then I hope you’ll find it. Sure you deserve to.”

“Thank you, Mike. I hope the same thing for you.”

“If iver the likes of me can do you a favor, Mister Tom, I hope you
won’t be too proud to let me.”

“I promise that, Mike. The time may come when I’ll want a friend, and if
I know where you are, I’ll let you know.”

“Thank you, Mr. Tom. I’m a poor fellow, but I can fight for you anyway.”

“I can fight for myself, too,” said Tom, smiling. “I’ve had to, more
than once.”

There was another passenger, of quite a different character, with whom
Tom became intimate, and to whom, also, he was able to do a service.

One morning he noticed an elderly man, evidently quite feeble,
attempting with the help of a cane to pace the deck—about the only
exercise practicable on shipboard. But the vessel was so unsteady that
the old man found the task too great for his strength, and he was
finally obliged, unwillingly, to sit down.

“That’s a pity,” thought Tom. “I’ll offer to help him.”

He approached the old man and said:

“You find it hard work pacing the deck, don’t you, sir?”

“Yes,” answered the other. “I am not young and strong like you, and the
motion of the vessel makes it too much for my scanty strength.”

“If you’ll take my arm, sir, I think I can pilot you safe.”

“But it will be a great deal of trouble for you, won’t it?”

“Oh, don’t think of that, sir; I shall be very glad to be of any service
to you.”

“Thank you. I am tired of sitting, and will accept your offer; but when
you are tired, tell me so.”

“All right, sir.”

Supported by Tom, the old man was able to resume his walk and keep it up
with ease. Our hero was stout and strong, and adapted himself to the
slow gait of his elder companion.

“Are you traveling alone?” asked the old man.

“Yes, sir.”

“Perhaps you meet friends in California?”

“No, sir; I don’t know anybody there.”

“Then how happens it that you are going out? You are not over seventeen,
I judge.”

“I am only sixteen, sir. My principal object in going out is to seek my
fortune.”

“Are you poor?” asked the old man abruptly.

“Not exactly,” said Tom. “That is, I have a few hundred dollars, and
shall perhaps have something besides, but my fortune is to be made. I
have been rich, but I lost nearly all I had.”

“Does it trouble you?”

“Not at all,” said Tom. “I am not afraid but I can make my way.”

“You have, at any rate, something that is better than money,” said the
old man.

“What is that, sir?”

“Youth, health and strength. I have neither of these, but I have money.
How gladly would I exchange with you!”

Tom felt that he would not care to make the exchange.

“I am going to California for my health,” said Tom’s companion. “My
doctor tells me that there is some hope that it may benefit me. Had I
stayed at home, he said he would not insure me twelve months more of
life.”

“Did you come alone, sir?”

“Yes. I am nearly alone in the world. I have neither wife nor child.”

There was a sadness in his voice as he said this, and Tom felt pity for
his desolate condition.

“I think I will sit down now,” he said, after walking half an hour. “I
feel much better for the exercise. It is the first I have enjoyed since
we left the great metropolis of the East.”

“Let me know when you want to walk again, sir,” said Tom. “I shall be
glad to walk with you.”

“You are very kind, my young friend. May I know to whom I am indebted?”

“My name is Thomas Temple. Everybody calls me Tom.”

“Let me give you my card. It may happen that I can at some time be of
service to you. If so, be sure to communicate with me.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Tom took the card. It contained the name

HENRY STODDARD.

Underneath, Mr. Stoddard wrote the name of a banker in San Francisco.

“I cannot tell where my pursuit of health may take me,” said Mr.
Stoddard, “but a letter directed to the care of my banker will be sure
to reach me.”

It was the second offer of service that Tom had received in the same
day. He felt that he would not be wholly friendless in the strange land
which he was about to visit.

FROM the deck of the steamer, as it entered the harbor of San Francisco,
Tom looked with eager interest at the city which was to be the scene of
his future activity. But a few years had elapsed since the discovery of
gold in California, and San Francisco was small compared with what it
has since become. But, built as it was upon a hill-side, overlooking the
bay, it was more conspicuous than many larger towns would have been,
and, as may readily be imagined, was a welcome sight to voyagers who had
been over twenty days at sea.

Mike Lawton had got over his seasickness at length, and was among the
passengers on deck.

“How do you feel, Mike?” asked Tom.

“Mighty wake,” answered Mike, “but it does my eyes good to see land once
more. If I trust myself on the say ag’in, I’m a haythen.”

“Then you mean to stay in California all your life?”

“I don’t know that,” said Mike. “Maybe I’ll go back by land.”

“And get scalped by savage Indians, Mike? That’ll be worse than being
seasick.”

“And what’s that, Mr. Temple?”

“They take a knife and slice off the top of your head, with all the hair
on it.”

“Oh, murdther! do they now? Isn’t it jokin’ ye are?”

“Not at all, Mike. That’s exactly what they do when they get the
chance.”

“Bad luck to the dirty haythen!” said Mike, horror-struck at the
thought. “And what good does it do them?”

“They hang up the scalps in their wigwams—that’s their houses—to show
how many enemies they have killed. The one that has the most scalps is
the greatest man.”

“Faith, then,” said Mike, “I think I’ll be stayin’ here all the days of
my life. What would Bridget say if I should come home without any roof
on my head?”

Tom laughed.

“She wouldn’t have any chance to pull your hair. But what are you going
to do, Mike, in this new country?”

“Make a livin’, I hope, Mister Tom. I must get work soon, for I haven’t
got but ten dollars in my pocket.”

“I’ve got only sixty, Mike.”

“That’s little for a gentleman like you, Mister Tom.”

“I’ve got to go to work, too, Mike.”

“Shure, a gentleman like you will find a place quick.”

“I don’t know, Tom. I hope so.”

Here Mr. Stoddard came up.

“Well, my friend,” he said, “we are near the end of our voyage.”

“Yes, sir, and I am glad of it.”

“I think we all are. Landsmen rarely enjoy the sea. What are your plans,
if I may ask?”

“I shall go to a hotel first, and then take a look round the city and
see what are my prospects for getting something to do.”

“A wise resolution, no doubt. I shall also go to a hotel, summon a
physician, and ask his advice as to whether I had better remain in San
Francisco or go into the interior. We may meet again.”

“Yes, sir, I hope so.”

“Perhaps we may stay at the same hotel.”

Tom shook his head.

“I don’t think it likely, sir,” he said. “I have very little money, and
I must find a cheap place, such as you wouldn’t be likely to go to.”

“I shall go to the best hotel, not from any feeling of pride, but
because my health and age require comforts such as you can do without.
But I should like your company, and if you are not above accepting a
favor from one who, though a comparative stranger, takes a friendly
interest in you, I shall be glad to consider you my guest for a week.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Tom gratefully. “I am not above accepting a
kindness, but I have got to rough it, and the sooner I begin the better.
If I stay at the best hotel even for a few days, it will make it all the
harder for me to come down to humble accommodations afterward. I had
better begin as I can hold out.”

“I dare say you are right, my young friend. There is certainly good
sense and good judgment in what you say. But at any rate, I hope you
will call upon me and let me know how you are getting along, and what
are your prospects.”

“I will, sir, and thank you for the invitation. There is nobody in the
city that I know, and it will be a pleasure and privilege to come.”

The old gentleman was pleased with this remark of Tom’s, since it showed
appreciation of his friendly overtures. Nor did he like him any the less
for the independent spirit that led him to decline becoming his guest.

“He is a fine young fellow,” he said to himself, “and I can’t help
feeling strongly interested in his success. If I can do him a good turn,
I will.”

I pass over the time spent in landing. It was not till five o’clock in
the afternoon that Tom stood on shore, with his carpet-bag in his hand.
He had not brought a trunk, wisely thinking that it would be in his way.
As he stood undecided where to go, a man roughly dressed approached him.

“Do you want to go to a hotel?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Tom. “Can you recommend one?”

“I’ll take your bag and conduct you to a good one,” said the other, and
he laid hold of Tom’s carpet-bag.

“Stop a minute,” said Tom; “what shall you charge for doing it?”

“Five dollars,” said the other coolly.

“Five dollars!” gasped Tom. “_Five dollars_ to carry a carpet-bag? How
far is the hotel?”

“About half a mile.”

“And you ask five dollars for that?” said Tom in amazement.

“Regular price,” said the other.

“I’ll do it for four,” said another man, coming up.

“Will you?” said the first in a menacing tone. “If you interfere with my
business, I’ll blow your brains out.”

“Don’t quarrel, gentlemen,” said Tom hastily, for his two would-be
guides had the air of men who would draw pistols on the least
provocation. “I’ll carry my bag myself. I don’t dispute your price, but
I can’t afford to pay it. I am poor, and I have my fortune to make.”

“All right, stranger,” said the first. “I thought you were rich. Just go
straight ahead for about a quarter of a mile, and then turn to the
right, and you’ll find a cheap house. I don’t charge anything for the
advice.”

“Thank you,” said Tom. “There’s a gentleman,” pointing to Mr. Stoddard,
“who may wish to engage you.”

Tom trudged ahead in the direction indicated.

“If that’s a specimen of California prices,” he said to himself, “my
sixty dollars won’t last long. I wonder what I shall have to pay at the
hotel.”

His guide’s directions were easy to follow. Tom halted in front of a
two-story building of rather primitive appearance, which, however, had
the look of a hotel.

“Is this a hotel?” he asked of a negro at the door.

“Yes,” was the reply. “Have you come by the steamer, sar?”

“Yes,” said Tom. “Where is the office?”

“Go in and you’ll see.”

Tom entered and walked up to a desk which he saw at one corner of the
apartment. A man was seated astride on it, picking his teeth with a
knife.

“I should like to have a room,” said Tom.

“A whole one?” asked the other leisurely.

“I should prefer a room to myself,” said Tom. “What will it cost?”

“About fifteen dollars, I reckon.”

“Fifteen dollars a week,” said Tom, encouraged to find prices less than
he anticipated.

The clerk laughed.

“I say, young chap, when did you arrive?” he asked.

“Just now.”

“I thought so. You don’t understand our prices. I meant fifteen dollars
a day.”

“Is that your lowest price?” asked Tom in dismay.

“You said you wanted a whole room?”

“How much will it be if I go in with somebody else?”

“I can put you in with two other gentlemen,” said the clerk, “for eight
dollars a day.”

This was not so bad, but considering that our hero had but sixty
dollars, it was still a formidable price.

“Is this the best hotel in San Francisco?” he asked.

“There’s more expensive ones,” said the clerk.

“I’ll stay here,” said Tom hastily, “for a day at least.”

“Just as you like, stranger.”

He led the way to an upper room, containing three small beds, and little
else. Tom laid down his bag and looked about him, but forbore comment on
the bare appearance of the room.

“When can I have supper?” he asked.

“In an hour.”

“Well,” thought Tom, sitting down on the bed when the clerk had left
him, “things begin to look serious. I’ve got money enough to pay a
week’s board, and that’s all. I must get work within that time, or
there’s a fine prospect of starvation.”

AFTER supper, which hardly corresponded with the price he was paying,
Tom went out to look at the town. Five years had elapsed since the first
discovery of gold, and society was yet in an unsettled condition. Houses
of all descriptions, some very primitive, were scattered about. It was
easy to see, even at that time, that some time a well-built city would
take the place of this irregular settlement.

Everything indicated progress, everything spoke of enterprise and
energy. Notwithstanding his scanty supply of money, and the certainty
that it would soon be exhausted, Tom felt his spirits rise. If charges
were great, it was probable that wages would also be large, and he felt
sure that he could earn his share.

On his way home, in front of a small shanty, he recognized his steerage
friend, Mike, sitting on a three-legged stool, smoking a clay pipe.

“How are you, Mike?” he said, pleased to find one he knew.

“Is it you, Mister Tom?” responded Mike, his face lighting up with equal
pleasure. “Shure it does me good to see you again.”

“And I am glad to see you, Mike. Is this where you are putting up?”

“Yes, Mister Tom.”

“It doesn’t look like a hotel.”

“Shure it is, though, more by token it belongs to an ould frind of mine,
Carny Rafferty, from my own town in County Cork. Wasn’t it luck jist
that I met him in the strate, and he took me home and gave me a job at
once?”

“I should say it was luck, Mike. What do you think I am paying at my
hotel?”

“How much, Mister Tom?”

“Eight dollars a day.”

“Shure, Carny charges four dollars for jist a bit of a shake down on the
floor and board.”

“You said Carny had given you a job?”

“Yes. I’m the cook and make the beds and such like.”

“What do you know about cooking, Mike?” asked Tom laughing.

“Divil a bit, except to bile pratees,” answered Mike, with a grin, “but
I’ll soon learn.”

“I don’t think I’ll come here to board till after you’ve learned, Mike.”

“Sure it isn’t any place for the likes of you, Mister Tom. It’s for
chaps like me, and poor miners.”

“I don’t know about that, Mike. If I don’t get something to do in a
week, I shall go up in a balloon.”

“Go up in a balloon!” ejaculated Mike, opening his eyes wide with
astonishment.

“I mean that I shall get to the bottom of my purse. Do you mind telling
me how much wages you get?”

“Three dollars a day and board,” said Mike.

“That’s good. Couldn’t you get me a place as cook?”

“It’s jokin’ you are.”

“I am not sure about that. I’ll take a place as cook or anything else
rather than remain idle.”

“If you get out of money, jist come to me, Mister Tom.”

“Thank you, Mike,” said Tom, grasping his hand heartily. “I’ll do that
rather than starve, I promise you, but I’ve got a week to find a place
in, and perhaps I shall be as lucky as you.”

“Thank you, Mister Tom. Mike Lawton’s your friend, if you ain’t ashamed
to own him.”

“Not I, Mike. I am glad of your friendship, and perhaps I’ll prove it,
by and by, by borrowing all your money.”

“Thank you, Mister Tom,” said honest Mike, really gratified by Tom’s
promise.

“And now, Mike, I must bid you good-night. I feel rather sleepy, and
shall enjoy sleeping in a bed again. I’ll come round and see you again
in a day or two.”

As Tom walked away he felt still more encouraged about his prospects.
Since Mike had been fortunate, why might not he be also?

Arrived at his hotel, Tom asked for a candle, as he wished to go to his
room.

“There’s a light up there,” said the clerk. “The other gentlemen have
just gone up.”

“I wonder what they are like?” thought Tom as he ascended the stairs.

The door of his room was ajar, and a faint light streamed out into the
entry. Pushing it open, he saw two roughly dressed and bearded men
sitting down on one of the beds with a pack of cards between them.

“Wall, youngster, what do you want?” asked one.

“I believe we are room-mates,” said Tom. “This bed is mine.”

“Sail in, then. You’re welcome. What’s your name?”

“Tom Temple.”

“Well, Temple, my name’s Jim Granger, and this here’s my pard.”

“Pard?”

“Yes, pardner. Where was you raised not to know that? He’s Bill Rogers.”

“I’m glad to make your acquaintance, gentlemen,” said Tom politely—with
more politeness, perhaps, than sincerity.

“Come, that’s talkin’ fair. Have a drink, Temple?”

“No, thank you.”

“Will you take a hand? Me and pard are playin’ poker.”

“I don’t know the game.”

“Oh, you’ll learn it easy.”

“Thank you, but not to-night. I’m tired, and think I shall go to bed. I
came in the steamer this morning.”

“Me and pard are goin’ back by the same. We’ve made our pile, and now
we’re going to spend it.”

“Have you been to the mines?” asked Tom, with interest.

“Yes, we were there a year and a half.”

“And you were fortunate?”

“Not at first. Three months ago we were high and dry, when we struck a
vein, and now we’re rich.”

All this was very interesting to Tom. His imagination had been dazzled
by the stories he had heard of wealth suddenly acquired at the mines.
There was a romance, too, about a mining life that had a charm about it.
He waited until the game was through and ventured to ask another
question.

“Do you think I shall stand any chance at the mines, Mr. Granger?” he
asked.

“Mr. Granger? Oh, you mean me! That’s the fust time I’ve been called
mister in a year. Well, stranger, about that question of yours, I don’t
know what to say. Maybe there’s a chance, and maybe there isn’t. You’ll
have to rough it.”

“I am ready to do that.”

“And live poorer than you ever did afore, and then maybe you’ll fail.”

“Perhaps I won’t,” said Tom quietly. “You didn’t.”

“I came mighty near it. Well, Temple, go ahead and try it, if you ain’t
afraid of hard work and poor fare, sleeping out o’ nights, and roughin’
it generally.”

“I think I will after a while,” said Tom.

“It’s your deal, pard,” said Rogers.

Granger again turned his attention to the game, and Tom soon fell
asleep. He dreamed that he went out to the mines and found a nugget as
big as his head. In the midst of his joy at his good luck he awoke to
find it broad daylight, and his companions already risen.

“I hope the dream will turn out true,” thought our hero hopefully, as he
dressed himself leisurely.

TOM SPENT five days in pursuit of employment, but without success. True,
he made three dollars one day by carrying a message, but when this was
offset against an expenditure of forty dollars, it did not look
encouraging.

Our hero, though naturally sanguine, begun to feel anxious. Reluctant as
he might be to do so, he feared that he should be obliged to ask Mr.
Stoddard for assistance. On the second day he had called upon that
gentleman at the California Hotel, and been most kindly received. Tom
had every reason to regard him as a man of large property, and willing
to help him.

On the morning of the sixth day he made a second call at the hotel.

“Is Mr. Stoddard at home,” he inquired at the office.

“He’s gone away,” said the clerk.

“Gone away!” repeated Tom, in accents of dismay.

“Do you know where he has gone?”

“Somewhere into the interior, I believe.”

“Didn’t he leave any message for me?” asked Tom, feeling that his last
reliance had failed him.

“What’s your name?”

“Temple.”

“He did leave a little note then. Here it is.”

Tom seized the note with eagerness.

“My young friend,” it commenced, “the physician tells me that the
climate of San Francisco at this season is not favorable to my
complaints. He orders me into the interior, but the place is not
fixed upon. In three months I shall probably return. Meantime, you
can learn from my banker, whose address I inclose, where I am, as I
shall apprise them when I have myself determined. Meanwhile I hope
you may meet with success in all your plans, and beg you to regard
me as your friend and well-wisher.

HENRY STODDARD.”

This was very friendly certainly, but it might be two or three weeks
before Tom could communicate with his new friend, and he was nearly at
the end of his purse.

“I made a mistake to stay in San Francisco. I should at once have gone
to the mines,” thought Tom. “Now I haven’t money enough to leave the
city. I _must_ find something to do.”

He came to a small wooden building, used as a clothing store. Besides
ordinary clothing it contained outfits for miners, and as profits were
enormous, doubtless the business was a profitable one. Tom might have
passed without taking particular notice if he had not heard sounds of
altercation and loud voices as he approached. Then a young man of
twenty-one, or thereabout, ran hastily out, pursued by a stout man of
middle age, whose inflamed countenance showed that he was angry. The
young man, however, was the better runner, and the elder was compelled
to give up the pursuit.

Tom stood still and regarded the scene with interest and curiosity. He
was still standing in front of the shop when the pursuer returned.

“What is the matter, sir?” asked Tom.

“Matter!” repeated the other vehemently. “I’ll tell you what’s the
matter. That young man is a thief.”

“Did he pick your pockets?”

“No, but he might as well. He was my clerk. I engaged him two months
since, and only to-day I found out that he has been robbing me
systematically. He has taken hundreds of dollars probably. If I could
only get hold of him, I would give him a lesson he would never forget.”

Here was Tom’s chance, and he lost no time in pushing it.

“Then you have no clerk now?” he said.

“No, and I don’t know where to get one that I can trust.”

“Take me,” said Tom confidently.

“You!” repeated the merchant in surprise.

“Yes; I am looking for a place, and I will serve you faithfully.”

“How old are you?”

“Sixteen.”

“You are only a boy.”

“I know that, but why can’t a boy sell goods as well as a man. It
doesn’t take size or strength, does it?”

“You’re right there,” said the trader, “but it takes knowledge of the
goods. Do you know anything of the business?”

“No, but I’ll soon learn.”

“Then I shall have the trouble of breaking in a green hand.”

“It’ll be very little trouble,” said Tom confidently. “All you’ve got to
do is to tell me the price of the goods, and I’ll remember.”

“How do I know but you’d follow the example of the scamp that’s just
left me, and purloin my money? Have you any recommendations?”

“No,” said Tom; “I forgot all about bringing any.”

“Don’t you know anybody in the town?”

“Yes; I know an Irishman—Mike Lawton—cook in an Irish hotel.”

“I don’t think he’ll do.”

“Then,” said Tom smiling, “I shall have to write a recommendation for
myself. There’s nobody knows so much about my honesty and capacity as I
do.”

Tom’s frankness had won upon the trader, and he was inclined to overlook
the want of recommendations.

“Suppose I conclude to take you on trial,” he said, “what wages do you
expect?”

Tom felt that in his circumstances he could not afford to bargain. It
was all-important that he should get the place, for his experience
taught him that they were not to be had easily.

“Take me a week on trial,” he said; “give me my board and as much more
as you think I am worth.”

“That’s fair. When do you want to come?”

“I can come now—or rather in an hour. I shall want to go to the hotel
where I am stopping and get my carpet-bag.”

“Very well. I will engage you for a week on trial. When you return with
your carpet-bag, my wife will give you a room.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll be right back.”

Tom breathed a sigh of relief. He had secured a place just in time. In
less than two days his money would be exhausted, and he would be
compelled either to beg or starve. What wages he might get in the place
so unexpectedly opened to him he did not know, or care very much. The
main advantage was, that he was saved from the heavy expense of a hotel
bill. As to the business, he did not think he should like it for a
permanent employment, but it would enable him to live while he was
looking about for something better. In the meantime he could keep his
eyes open, for he had not forgotten that his chief object in this
expedition was to discover the defaulting clerk, whose dishonesty had so
largely affected his own means.

In less than an hour Tom was back in the store and receiving his first
lessons in the prices of articles for sale.