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- Helping Himself - 6/41 -


anxious, unfitted him for his professional work."

Mrs. Thornton's course may not be considered wise by some, but she knew her husband's peculiar mental constitution, and her object at least was praiseworthy, to screen him from undue anxiety, though it involved an extra share for herself.

The next morning Grant took an early breakfast, and walked briskly toward the depot to take the first train for New York.

The fare would be a dollar and a quarter each way, for the distance was fifty miles, and this both he and his mother felt to be a large outlay. If, however, he succeeded in his errand it would be wisely spent, and this was their hope.

At the depot Grant found Tom Calder, a youth of eighteen, who had the reputation of being wild, and had been suspected of dishonesty. He had been employed in the city, so that Grant was not surprised to meet him at the depot.

"Hello, Grant! Where are you bound?" he asked.

"I am going to New York."

"What for?"

"A little business," Grant answered, evasively. Tom was the last person he felt inclined to take into his confidence.

"Goin' to try to get a place?"

"If any good chance offers I shall accept it--that is, if father and mother are willing."

"Let's take a seat together--that's what I'm going for myself."

CHAPTER VI

GRANT GETS INTO UNEXPECTED TROUBLE

TOM CALDER was not the companion Grant would have chosen, but there seemed no good excuse for declining his company. He belonged to a rather disreputable family living in the borders of the village. If this had been all, it would not have been fair to object to him, but Tom himself bore not a very high reputation. He had been suspected more than once of stealing from his school companions, and when employed for a time by Mr. Tudor, in the village store, the latter began to miss money from the till; but Tom was so sly that he had been unable to bring the theft home to him. However, he thought it best to dispense with his services.

"What kind of a situation are you goin' to try for?" asked Tom, when they were fairly on their way.

"I don't know. They say that beggars mustn't be choosers."

"I want to get into a broker's office if I can," said Tom.

"Do you consider that a very good business?" asked Grant.

"I should say so," responded Tom, emphatically.

"Do they pay high wages?"

"Not extra, but a feller can get points, and make something out of the market."

"What's that?" asked Grant, puzzled.

"Oh, I forgot. You ain't used to the city," responded Tom, emphatically. "I mean, you find out when a stock is going up, and you buy for a rise."

"But doesn't that take considerable money?" asked Grant, wondering how Tom could raise money to buy stocks.

"Oh, you can go to the bucket shops," answered Tom.

"But what have bucket shops to do with stocks?" asked Grant, more than ever puzzled.

Tom burst into a loud laugh.

"Ain't you jolly green, though?" he ejaculated.

Grant was rather nettled at this.

"I don't see how I could be expected to understand such talk," he said, with some asperity.

"That's where it is--you can't," said Tom. "It's all like A, B, C to me, and I forgot that you didn't know anything about Wall Street. A bucket shop is where you can buy stock in small lots, putting down a dollar a share as margin. If stocks go up, you sell out on the rise, and get back your dollar minus commission,"

"Suppose they go down?"

"Then you lose what you put up."

"Isn't it rather risky?"

"Of course there's some risk, but if you have a good point there isn't much."

This was Tom Calder's view of the matter. As a matter of fact, the great majority of those who visit the bucket shops lose all they put in, and are likely sooner or later to get into difficulty; so that many employers will at once discharge a clerk or boy known to speculate in this way.

"If I had any money I'd buy some stock to-day; that is, as soon as I get to the city," continued Tom. "You couldn't lend me five dollars, could you?"

"No, I couldn't," answered Grant, shortly.

"I'd give you half the profits."

"I haven't got the money," Grant explained.

"That's a pity. The fact is, I'm rather short. However, I know plenty of fellows in the city, and I guess I can raise a tenner or so."

"Then your credit must be better in New York than in Colebrook," thought Grant, but he fore-bore to say so.

Grant was rather glad the little package of pearls was in the pocket furthest away from Tom, for his opinion of his companion's honesty was not the highest.

When half an hour had passed, Tom vacated his seat.

"I'm going into the smoking car," he said, "to have a smoke. Won't you come with me?"

"No, thank you. I don't smoke."

"Then it's time you began. I've got a cigarette for you, if you'll try it."

"Much obliged, but I am better off without it."

"You'll soon get over that little-boy feeling. Why, boys in the city of half your age smoke."

"I am sorry to hear it."

"Well, ta-ta! I'll be back soon."

Grant was not sorry to have Tom leave him. He didn't enjoy his company, and besides he foresaw that it would be rather embarrassing if Tom should take a fancy to remain with him in the city. He didn't care to have anyone, certainly not Tom, learn on what errand he had come to the city.

Two minutes had scarcely elapsed after Tom vacated his seat, when a pleasant-looking gentleman of middle age, who had been sitting just behind them, rose and took the seat beside Grant.

"I will sit with you if you don't object," said he.

"I should be glad of your company," said Grant, politely.

"You live in the country, I infer?"

"Yes, sir."

"I overheard your conversation with the young man who has just left you. I suspect you are not very much alike."

"I hope not, sir. Perhaps Tom would say the same, for he thinks me green."

"There is such a thing as knowing too much--that isn't desirable to know. So you don't smoke?"

"No, sir."

"I wish more boys of your age could say as much. Do I understand that you are going to the city in search of employment?"

"That is not my chief errand," answered Grant, with some hesitation. "Still, if I could hear of a good chance, I might induce my parents to let me accept it."

"Where do you live, my young friend?"

"In Colebrook. My father is the minister there."


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