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- Helping Himself - 10/41 -


"You don't say so I. Why, that's just the sort of place I wanted. How did you get the chance?"

"I got acquainted with Mr. Reynolds on board the cars that day we came to New York together."

"And you asked him for the place?"

"I asked him this morning."

"You might have given me the chance," grumbled Tom, enviously. "You knew it was the sort of place I was after."

"I don't think I was called upon to do that," said Grant, smiling. "Besides, he wouldn't have accepted you."

"Why not? Ain't I as smart as you, I'd like to know?" retorted Tom Calder, angrily.

"He heard us talking in the cars, and didn't like what you said."

"What did I say?"

"He doesn't approve of boys smoking cigarettes and going to bucket shops. You spoke of both."

"How did he hear?"

"He was sitting just behind us."

"Was it that old chap that was sittin' with you when I came back from the smoking car?"

"Yes."

"Just my luck," said Tom, ruefully.

"When are you goin' to work?" asked Tom, after a pause.

"Next Monday."

"Where are you going to board? We might take a room together, you know. It would be kind of social, as we both come from the same place."

It did not occur to Grant that the arrangement would suit him at all, but he did not think it necessary to say so. He only said: "I am going to Mr. Reynolds' house, just at first."

"You don't say so! Why, he's taken a regular fancy to you."

"If he has, I hope he won't get over it."

"I suppose he lives in a handsome brownstone house uptown."

"Very likely; I've never seen the house."

"Well, some folks has luck, but I ain't one of 'em," grumbled Tom.

"Your luck is coming, I hope, Tom."

"I wish it would come pretty soon, then; I say, suppose your folks won't let you take the place?" he asked, suddenly, brightening up.

"They won't oppose it." "I thought they wanted you to go to college."

"I can't afford it. It would take too long before I could earn anything, and I ought to be helping the family."

"I'm goin' to look out for number one," said Tom, shrugging his shoulders. "That's all I can do."

Tom's mother was a hard-working woman, and had taken in washing for years. But for her the family would often have lacked for food. His father was a lazy, intemperate man, who had no pride of manhood, and cared only for himself. In this respect Tom was like him, though the son had not as yet become intemperate.

"I don't think there is any chance of my giving up the place," answered Grant. "If I do, I will mention your name."

"That's a good fellow."

Grant did not volunteer to recommend Tom, for he could not have done so with a clear conscience. This omission, however, Tom did not notice.

"Well, Tom, I must be going. Good-by, and good luck."

Grant went home with a cheerful face, and announced his good luck to his mother.

"I am glad you are going to your employer's house," she said. "I wish you could remain there permanently."

"So do I, mother; but I hope at any rate to get a comfortable boarding place. Tom Calder wants to room with me."

"I hope you won't think of it," said Mrs. Thornton, alarmed.

"Not for a moment. I wish Tom well, but I shouldn't like to be too intimate with him. And now, mother, I think I ought to write to Uncle Godfrey, and tell him what I have decided upon."

"That will be proper, Grant." Grant wrote the following letter, and mailed it at once:

"DEAR UNCLE GODFREY:

I am afraid you won't like what I have to tell you, but I think it is my duty to the family to give up the college course you so kindly offered me, in view of father's small salary and narrow means. I have been offered a place in the office of a stock broker in New York, and have accepted it. I enter upon my duties next Monday morning. I hope to come near paying my own way, and before very long to help father. I know you will be disappointed, Uncle Godfrey, and I hope you won't think I don't appreciate your kind offer, but I think it would be selfish in me to accept it. Please do forgive me, and believe me to be

Your affectionate nephew, GRANT THORNTON."

In twenty-four hours an answer came to this letter. It ran thus:

"NEPHEW GRANT:

I would not have believed you would act so foolishly and ungratefully. It is not often that such an offer as mine is made to a boy. I did think you were sensible enough to understand the advantages of a professional education. I hoped you would do credit to the name of Thornton, and keep up the family reputation as a man of learning and a gentleman. But you have a foolish fancy for going into a broker's office, and I suppose you must be gratified. But you needn't think I will renew my offer. I wash my hands of you from this time forth, and leave you to your own foolish course. The time will come when you will see your folly.

GODFREY THORNTON."

Grant sighed as he finished reading this missive. He felt that his uncle had done him injustice. It was no foolish fancy, but a conscientious sense of duty, which had led him to sacrifice his educational prospects.

On Monday morning he took the earliest train for New York.

CHAPTER X

A DAY IN WALL STREET

Grant went at once on his arrival in the city to Mr. Reynolds' office. He had in his hand a well-worn valise containing his small stock of clothing. The broker was just leaving the office for the Stock Exchange as Grant entered.

"So you are punctual," he said, smiling.

"Yes, sir, I always on time."

"That is an excellent habit. Here, Harry."

In answer to this summons, Harry Becker, a boy two years older and correspondingly larger than Grant, came forward. He was a pleasant-looking boy, and surveyed Grant with a friendly glance.

"Harry," said Mr. Reynolds, "this is your successor. Do me the favor of initiating him into his duties, so that when you leave me he will be qualified to take your place."

"All right, sir."

The broker hurried over to the Exchange, and the two boys were left together.

"What is your name?" asked the city boy.

"Grant Thornton."

"Mine is Harry Becker. Are you accustomed to the city?"

"No, I am afraid you will find me very green," answered Grant.

"You are not the boy to remain so long," said Harry, scrutinizing him attentively.

"I hope not. You are going to Europe, Mr. Reynolds tells me."

"Yes, the governor is going to take me."

"The governor?"


Helping Himself - 10/41

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