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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesChester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 23. Chester Is Discharged
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Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 23. Chester Is Discharged Post by :anita Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1352

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Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 23. Chester Is Discharged

CHAPTER XXIII. CHESTER IS DISCHARGED

"Well," said David Mullins, addressing his cousin Felix, "did you go to the Fifth Avenue Hotel last evening?"

"Yes, Cousin David."

"Did you see that man from Minneapolis and Chester?"

"Yes."

"Where did they go?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?" frowned Mullins. "And why not, I should like to know?"

"Because I went to Palmer's Theater."

"So that is the way you spent the quarter I gave you?" exclaimed the bookkeeper, indignantly.

"I couldn't go to Palmer's on that."

"Did you go with them?" asked Mullins, hopefully.

"No, but Mr. Perkins gave me money to go."

"What made him do it?"

"He thought I was a friend of Chester."

"How much did he give you?"

"I occupied a dollar seat," answered Felix, noncommittally.

He did not care to mention that the sum given him was two dollars, half of which he still had in his pocket.

"Humph! so he gave you a dollar. Why didn't you take it and stay with them?"

"Because he gave it to me expressly for the theater. It would have looked strange if I had stayed with them after all."

"I would have found a way, but you are not smart."

Felix did not make any reply, being content with having deceived his cousin as to Mr. Perkins' gift.

"I say, Cousin David, aren't you going to bounce that boy pretty quick and give me his place?"

"Yes, as soon as I get a good excuse."

"Will you do it to-day?"

"No; it would look strange. You may be sure I won't keep him long."

At this point Chester came into the office and was surprised to see Mr. Mullins and Felix already there. Usually the bookkeeper did not show up till half an hour later.

"Good-morning," said Mullins, smoothly. "Did you dine with Mr. Perkins last evening?"

"Yes, sir."

"I suppose you went to the theater?"

"No; Mr. Perkins preferred to take a walk, as he has not been in New York since he was a boy. Did you enjoy the play, Felix?"

"Yes, thank you. It was very nice. I am ever so much obliged to Mr. Perkins for the money to go."

"Mr. Perkins must be a rich man?" said Mullins, interrogatively.

"I think he is pretty well off," answered Chester.

"How long does he stay in the city?"

"He was to leave this morning. He is going to Washington."

David Mullins was glad to hear this. It would make it easier for him to discharge Chester.

He dispatched him on an errand, and was about to make some entries in the books when Dick Ralston strolled in.

"How are you, Dick? Can I do anything for you this morning?"

"Yes; you can let me have a hundred dollars."

"I can't do that," answered the bookkeeper, with a slight frown.

"You'll have to settle up soon," said Ralston, in a surly tone.

"Give me time, can't you? I can't do everything in a minute. What is the matter with you? You look as if you had got out of the wrong side of the bed."

"I had a disagreeable thing happen last evening. Who should appear to me on Madison Avenue but the old man."

"Your father?"

"Yes; he left a good, comfortable home up in the country, and came here to see if he couldn't get some money out of me."

"Did he?"

"I gave him a quarter and advised him to go back. He seems to think I am made of money."

"So he has a comfortable home?"

"Yes," answered Ralston, hesitating slightly. "He's better off than I am in one way. He has no board to pay, and sometimes I haven't money to pay mine."

"I suppose he is staying with friends or relatives," said Mullins, who was not aware that Mr. Ralston, senior, was the inmate of a poorhouse.

"It is an arrangement I made for him. I felt angry to see him here, and I told him so. However, he isn't likely to come again. Have you heard from Fairchild yet?"

"No; it isn't time. He won't reach Chicago till this evening or to-morrow morning."

"Meanwhile--that is, while he is away--you have full swing, eh?"

"Yes; I suppose so."

"Then you'll be a fool if you don't take advantage of it."

David Mullins did not answer. He repented, now that it was too late, that he had placed himself in the power of such a man as Dick Ralston. As long as he owed him seven hundred and fifty dollars there was no escaping him, and Mullins felt very uncomfortable when he considered what steps the gambler wanted him to take to get free from his debts.

At this moment a dignified-looking gentleman living on West Forty-seventh Street entered the office. He was the owner of a large building, of which Mr. Fairchild acted as agent. He looked askance at Dick Ralston, whose loud dress and general appearance left little doubt as to his character.

"Is Mr. Fairchild in?" the caller asked.

"No, sir; he started for the West yesterday."

"I am sorry."

"I can attend to your business, Mr. Gray."

"No, thank you. I prefer to wait. How long will Mr. Fairchild be absent?"

"Probably six weeks."

The gentleman took his leave, with another side glance at Ralston.

When he had gone, Ralston said, "Who is that, Mullins?"

"Mr. Gray, a wealthy banker, living on Forty-seventh Street."

"So? Why didn't you introduce me to the old duffer? I might have made something out of him."

"He is not your style, Dick. He wouldn't care to be introduced to a stranger."

"So he puts on airs, does he?"

"No; but he is rather a proud, reserved man."

"Thinks himself better than his fellow men, I suppose," sneered the gambler.

"I can't say, but it wouldn't have been policy to make you acquainted. If you won't be offended, Dick, I will say that though I am personally your friend, I am afraid that it isn't best for you to be here so much."

"So you are getting on your high horse, Mullins, are you?"

"No; but you are too well known, Dick. If you were only an ordinary man, now, it would be different, but your striking appearance naturally makes people curious about you."

Dick Ralston was not insensible to flattery, and this compliment propitiated him. He was about to go out when Chester entered, returning from his errand.

"How are you, kid?" inquired Ralston.

"Very well, Mr. Ralston," answered Chester, coldly, for he could not forget how the gambler had treated his old father.

"Well, did you pass the evening with that cowboy from Minneapolis?"

"I spent the evening with Mr. Perkins."

"Of course! That's what I mean. Has he got money?"

"He didn't tell me."

"He gave Felix money to go to the theater," interposed Mullins.

"Is that so? He seems to be liberal. I'd like to cultivate his acquaintance. How long is he going to stay at the Fifth Avenue?"

"He left for Washington this morning."

"I am sorry to hear it. Another chance gone, Mullins."

The bookkeeper looked warningly at Ralston. He did not care to have him speak so freely before the office boy.

"I don't suppose we are likely to have any business with Paul Perkins," he said. "I offered to sell him a house, but he doesn't care to locate in New York."

Things went on as usual for the rest of the day. Mr. Mullins, if anything, treated Chester better than usual, and the office boy began to think that he had done the bookkeeper injustice. Felix spent considerable of his time in the office, spending his time in reading nickel libraries, of which he generally carried a supply with him.

On the next day, about three o'clock in the afternoon, Chester was sent downtown on an errand. He was delayed about ten minutes by a block on the Sixth Avenue car line. When he entered the office, Mullins demanded, sharply, "What made you so long?"

Chester explained.

"That's too thin!" retorted the bookkeeper. "I have no doubt you loitered, wasting your employer's time."

"That isn't true, Mr. Mullins," said Chester, indignantly.

"You won't mend mattters by impertinence. It is clear to me that you won't suit us. I will pay you your wages up to this evening, and you can look for another place."

"Mr. Fairchild engaged me, Mr. Mullins. It is only right that you should keep me till he returns, and report your objections."

"I don't require any instructions from you. You are discharged--do you understand?"

"Yes," answered Chester, slowly.

"You needn't wait till evening. Here is your money. Felix will take your place for the present."

"Yes, Cousin David," returned Felix, with alacrity.

"I protest against this sudden discharge," said Chester, "for no fault of my own, Mr. Mullins."

"You have said enough. I understand my business."

There was nothing for Chester to do but to accept the dismissal. It took him by surprise, for though he anticipated ill treatment, he had not expected to be discharged.

"Well, Felix," said the bookkeeper, "you've got the place at last."

"Yes," smiled Felix, complacently. "Didn't Chester look glum when you bounced him?"

"I don't know and I don't care. I have no further use for him. He's too fresh!"

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