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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDriven From Home; Or Carl Crawford's Experience - Chapter 9. A Plausible Stranger
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Driven From Home; Or Carl Crawford's Experience - Chapter 9. A Plausible Stranger Post by :ozventures Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1678

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Driven From Home; Or Carl Crawford's Experience - Chapter 9. A Plausible Stranger

CHAPTER IX. A PLAUSIBLE STRANGER

Three days later found Carl still on his travels. It was his custom to obtain his meals at a cheap hotel, or, if none were met with, at a farmhouse, and to secure lodgings where he could, and on as favorable terms as possible. He realized the need of economy, and felt that he was practicing it. He had changed his ten-dollar bill the first day, for a five and several ones. These last were now spent, and the five-dollar bill alone remained to him. He had earned nothing, though everywhere he had been on the lookout for a job.

Toward the close of the last day he overtook a young man of twenty-five, who was traveling in the same direction.

"Good-afternoon," said the young man, sociably.

"Good-afternoon, sir."

"Where are you bound, may I ask?"

"To the next town."

"Fillmore?"

"Yes, if that is the name."

"So am I. Why shouldn't we travel together?"

"I have no objection," said Carl, who was glad of company.

"Are you in any business?"

"No, but I hope to find a place."

"Oh, a smart boy like you will soon find employment."

"I hope so, I am sure. I haven't much money left, and it is necessary I should do something."

"Just so. I am a New York salesman, but just now I am on my vacation--taking a pedestrian tour with knapsack and staff, as you see. The beauty of it is that my salary runs on just as if I were at my post, and will nearly pay all my traveling expenses."

"You are in luck. Besides you have a good place to go back to. There isn't any vacancy, is there? You couldn't take on a boy?" asked Carl, eagerly.

"Well, there might be a chance," said the young man, slowly. "You haven't any recommendations with you, have you?"

"No; I have never been employed."

"It doesn't matter. I will recommend you myself."

"You might be deceived in me," said Carl, smiling.

"I'll take the risk of that. I know a reliable boy when I see him."

"Thank you. What is the name of your firm?"

"F. Brandes & Co., commission merchants, Pearl Street. My own name is Chauncy Hubbard, at your service."

"I am Carl Crawford."

"That's a good name. I predict that we shall be great chums, if I manage to get you a place in our establishment."

"Is Mr. Brandes a good man to work for?"

"Yes, he is easy and good-natured. He is liberal to his clerks. What salary do you think I get?"

"I couldn't guess."

"Forty dollars a week, and I am only twenty-five. Went into the house at sixteen, and worked my way up."

"You have certainly done well," said Carl, respectfully.

"Well, I'm no slouch, if I do say it myself."

"I don't wonder your income pays the expenses of your vacation trip."

"It ought to, that's a fact, though I'm rather free handed and like to spend money. My prospects are pretty good in another direction. Old Fred Brandes has a handsome daughter, who thinks considerable of your humble servant."

"Do you think there is any chance of marrying her?" asked Carl, with interest.

"I think my chance is pretty good, as the girl won't look at anybody else."

"Is Mr. Brandes wealthy?"

"Yes, the old man's pretty well fixed, worth nearly half a million, I guess."

"Perhaps he will take you into the firm," suggested Carl.

"Very likely. That's what I'm working for."

"At any rate, you ought to save something out of your salary."

"I ought, but I haven't. The fact is, Carl," said Chauncy Hubbard, in a burst of confidence, "I have a great mind to make a confession to you."

"I shall feel flattered, I am sure," said Carl, politely.

"I have one great fault--I gamble."

"Do you?" said Carl, rather startled, for he had been brought up very properly to have a horror of gambling.

"Yes, I suppose it's in my blood. My father was a very rich man at one time, but he lost nearly all his fortune at the gaming table."

"That ought to have been a warning to you, I should think."

"It ought, and may be yet, for I am still a young man."

"Mr. Hubbard," said Carl, earnestly, "I feel rather diffident about advising you, for I am only a boy, but I should think you would give up such a dangerous habit."

"Say no more, Carl! You are a true friend. I will try to follow your advice. Give me your hand."

Carl did so, and felt a warm glow of pleasure at the thought that perhaps he had redeemed his companion from a fascinating vice.

"I really wish I had a sensible boy like you to be my constant companion. I should feel safer."

"Do you really have such a passion for gambling, then?"

"Yes; if at the hotel to-night I should see a party playing poker, I could not resist joining them. Odd, isn't it?"

"I am glad I have no such temptation."

"Yes, you are lucky. By the way, how much money have you about you?"

"Five dollars."

"Then you can do me a favor. I have a ten-dollar bill, which I need to get me home. Now, I would like to have you keep a part of it for me till I go away in the morning. Give me your five, and I will hand you ten. Out of that you can pay my hotel bill and hand me the balance due me in the morning."

"If you really wish me to do so."

"Enough said. Here is the ten."

Carl took the bill, and gave Mr. Hubbard his five-dollar note.

"You are placing considerable confidence in me," he said.

"I am, it is true, but I have no fear of being deceived. You are a boy who naturally inspires confidence."

Carl thought Mr. Chauncy Hubbard a very agreeable and sensible fellow, and he felt flattered to think that the young man had chosen him as a guardian, so to speak.

"By the way, Carl, you haven't told me," said Hubbard, as they pursued their journey, "how a boy like yourself is forced to work his own way."

"I can tell you the reason very briefly--I have a stepmother."

"I understand. Is your father living?"

"Yes."

"But he thinks more of the stepmother than of you?"

"I am afraid he does."

"You have my sympathy, Carl. I will do all I can to help you. If you can only get a place in our establishment, you will be all right. Step by step you will rise, till you come to stand where I do."

"That would satisfy me. Has Mr. Brandes got another daughter?"

"No, there is only one."

"Then I shall have to be content with the forty dollars a week. If I ever get it, I will save half."

"I wish I could."

"You can if you try. Why, you might have two thousand dollars saved up now, if you had only begun to save in time."

"I have lost more than that at the gaming table. You will think me very foolish."

"Yes, I do," said Carl, frankly.

"You are right. But here we are almost at the village."

"Is there a good hotel?"

"Yes--the Fillmore. We will take adjoining rooms if you say so."

"Very well."

"And in the morning you will pay the bill?"

"Certainly."

The two travelers had a good supper, and retired early, both being fatigued with the journey. It was not till eight o'clock the next morning that Carl opened his eyes. He dressed hastily, and went down to breakfast. He was rather surprised not to see his companion of the day before.

"Has Mr. Hubbard come down yet?" he asked at the desk.

"Yes; he took an early breakfast, and went off by the first train."

"That is strange. I was to pay his bill."

"He paid it himself."

Carl did not know what to make of this. Had Hubbard forgotten that he had five dollars belonging to him? Fortunately, Carl had his city address, and could refund the money in New York.

"Very well! I will pay my own bill. How much is it?"

"A dollar and a quarter."

Carl took the ten-dollar bill from his wallet and tendered it to the clerk.

Instead of changing it at once, the clerk held it up to the light and examined it critically.

"I can't take that bill," he said, abruptly.

"Why not?"

"Because it is counterfeit."

Carl turned pale, and the room seemed to whirl round. It was all the money he had.

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