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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJoe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 17. Joe Starts In Business
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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 17. Joe Starts In Business Post by :waytogo-store Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1343

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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 17. Joe Starts In Business

CHAPTER XVII. JOE STARTS IN BUSINESS

"Do you think you can keep a hotel, Joe?" asked Morgan.

"I can try," said Joe promptly.

"Come in, gentlemen," said the restaurant-keeper.

"We can talk best inside."

The room was small, holding but six tables. In the rear was the kitchen.

"Let me see your scale of prices," said Morgan.

It was shown him.

"I could breakfast cheaper at Delmonico's," he said.

"And better," said the proprietor of the restaurant; "but I find people here willing to pay big prices, and, as long as that's the case, I should be a fool to reduce them. Yes, there's a splendid profit to be made in the business. I ought to charge a thousand dollars, instead of five hundred."

"Why don't you?" asked Morgan bluntly.

"Because I couldn't get it. Most men, when they come out here, are not content to settle down in the town. They won't be satisfied till they get to the mines."

"That seems to be the case with you, too."

"It isn't that altogether. My lungs are weak and confinement isn't good for me. Besides, the doctors say the climate in the interior is better for pulmonary affections."

"What rent do you have to pay?"

"A small ground-rent. I put up this building myself."

"How soon can you give possession?"

"Right off."

"Will you stay here three days, to initiate my young friend into the mysteries of the business?"

"Oh, yes; I'll do that willingly."

"Then I will buy you out."

In five minutes the business was settled.

"Joe," said Morgan, "let me congratulate you. You are now one of the business men of San Francisco."

"It seems like a dream to me, Mr. Morgan," said Joe. "This morning when I waked up I wasn't worth a cent."

"And now you own five hundred dollars," said Mr. Morgan, laughing.

"That wasn't exactly the way I thought of it, sir, but are you not afraid to trust me to that amount?"

"No, I am not, Joe," said Morgan seriously. "I think you are a boy of energy and integrity. I don't see why you shouldn't succeed."

"Suppose I shouldn't?"

"I shall not trouble myself about the loss. In all probability, you saved my life last evening. That is worth to me many times what I have invested for you."

"I want to give you my note for the money," said Joe. "If I live, I will pay you, with interest."

"I agree with you. We may as well put it on a business basis."

Papers were drawn up, and Joe found himself proprietor of the restaurant. He lost no opportunity of mastering the details of the business. He learned where his predecessor obtained his supplies, what prices he paid, about how much he required for a day's consumption, and what was his scale of prices.

"Do you live here, Mr. Brock?" asked Joe.

"Yes; I have a bed, which I lay in a corner of the restaurant. Thus I avoid the expense of a room outside, and am on hand early for business."

"I'll do the same," said Joe promptly.

"In that way you will have no personal expenses, except clothing and washing," said Brock.

"I shall be glad to have no bills to pay for board," said Joe. "That's rather a steep item here."

"So it is."

"I don't see but I can save up pretty much all I make," said Joe.

"Certainly you can."

In two days Joe, who was naturally quick and whose natural shrewdness was sharpened by his personal interest, mastered the details of the business, and felt that he could manage alone.

"Mr. Brock," said he, "you promised to stay with me three days, but I won't insist upon the third day. I think I can get along well without you."

"If you can, I shall be glad to leave you at once. The fact is, a friend of mine starts for the mines to-morrow, and I would like to accompany him. I asked him to put it off a day, but he thinks he can't."

"Go with him, by all means. I can get along."

So, on the morning of the third day, Joe found himself alone.

At the end of the first week he made a careful estimate of his expenses and receipts, and found, to his astonishment, that he had cleared two hundred dollars. It seemed to him almost incredible, and he went over the calculations again and again. But he could figure out no other result.

"Two hundred dollars in one week!" he said to himself. "What would Oscar say to that? It seems like a fairy tale."

Joe did not forget that he was five hundred dollars In debt. He went to George Morgan, who had bought out for himself a gentlemen's furnishing store, and said:

"Mr. Morgan, I want to pay up a part of that debt."

"So soon, Joe? How much do you want to pay?"

"A hundred and fifty dollars."

"You don't mean to say that you have cleared that amount?" said Morgan, in amazement.

"Yes, sir, and fifty dollars more."

"Very well. I will receive the money. You do well to wipe out your debts as soon as possible."

Joe paid over the money with no little satisfaction.

Without going too much into detail, it may be stated that at the end of a month Joe was out of debt and had three hundred dollars over. He called on the owner of the land to pay the monthly ground-rent.

"Why don't you buy the land, and get rid of the rent?" asked the owner.

"Do you want to sell?" asked Joe.

"Yes; I am about to return to the East."

"What do you ask?"

"I own two adjoining lots. You may have them all for a thousand dollars."

"Will you give me time?"

"I can't. I want to return at once, and I must have the cash."

A thought struck Joe.

"I will take three hours to consider," said Joe.

He went to George Morgan and broached his business.

"Mr. Morgan," he said, "will you lend me seven hundred dollars?"

"Are you getting into pecuniary difficulties, Joe?" asked Morgan, concerned.

"No, sir; but I want to buy some real estate."

"Explain yourself."

Joe did so.

"It is the best thing you can do," said Morgan, "I will lend you the money."

"I hope to repay it inside of two months," said Joe.

"I think you will, judging from what you have done already."

In two hours Joe had paid over the entire amount, for it will be remembered that he had three hundred dollars of his own, and was owner of three city lots.

"Now," thought he, "I must attend to business, and clear off the debt I have incurred. I shan't feel as if the land is mine till I have paid for it wholly."

Joe found it a great advantage that he obtained his own board and lodging free. Though wages were high, the necessary expenses of living were so large that a man earning five dollars a day was worse off oftentimes than one who was earning two dollars at the East.

"How shall I make my restaurant more attractive?" thought Joe.

He decided first that he would buy good articles and insist upon as much neatness as possible about the tables. At many of the restaurants very little attention was paid to this, and visitors who had been accustomed to neatness at home were repelled.

Soon Joe's dining-room acquired a reputation, and the patronage increased. At the end of the third month he had not only paid up the original loan of seven hundred dollars, but was the owner of the three lots, and had four hundred dollars over. He began to feel that his prosperity was founded on a solid basis.

One day about this time, as he was at the desk where he received money from his patrons as they went out, his attention was drawn to a rough fellow, having the appearance of a tramp, entering at the door. The man's face seemed familiar to him, and it flashed upon him that it was Henry Hogan, who had defrauded him in New York.

The recognition was mutual.

"You here?" he exclaimed, in surprise.

"So it seems," said Joe.

"Is it a good place?"

"I like it."

"Who's your boss?"

"Myself."

"You don't mean to say this is your own place?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I'll be blowed!" ejaculated Hogan, staring stupidly at Joe.

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