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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesChester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 12. A Real Estate Office
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Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 12. A Real Estate Office Post by :tuamigo Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1909

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Chester Rand; Or, The New Path To Fortune - Chapter 12. A Real Estate Office


About eight o'clock on Monday morning Chester, accompanied by his friend Conrad, turned down Fourteenth Street from Sixth Avenue and kept on till they reached an office over which was the sign:

"Clement Fairchild, Real Estate."

"This is the place, Chester," said the artist. "I will go in and introduce you."

They entered the office. It was of fair size, and contained a high desk, an office table covered with papers, and several chairs. There was but one person in the office, a young man with black whiskers and mustache and an unamiable expression. He sat on a high stool, but he was only reading the morning paper. He turned lazily as he heard the door open, and let his glance rest on Mr. Conrad.

"What can I do for you?" he asked, in a careless tone.

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


"When will he be in?"

"Can't say, I am sure. If you have any business, I will attend to it."

"I have no special business, except to introduce my young friend here."

"Indeed!" said the clerk, impudently. "Who is he?"

"He is going to work here," returned Mr. Conrad, sharply.

"What?" queried the bookkeeper, evidently taken by surprise. "Who says he is going to work here?"

"Mr. Fairchild."

"He didn't say anything to me about it."

"Very remarkable, certainly," rejoined Conrad. "I presume you have no objection."

"Look here," said the bookkeeper, "I think there is some mistake about this. The place was all but promised to my cousin."

"You'll have to settle that matter with your employer. Apparently he doesn't tell you everything, Mr. ----"

"My name is Mullins--David Mullins," said the bookkeeper, with dignity.

"Then, Mr. Mullins, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Chester Rand, late of Wyncombe, now of New York, who will be associated with you in the real estate business."

"Perhaps so," sneered Mullins.

"He will stay here till Mr. Fairchild makes his appearance."

"Oh, he can sit down if he wants to."

"I shall have to leave you, Chester, as I must get to work. When Mr. Fairchild comes in, show him this note from me."

"All right, sir."

Chester was rather chilled by his reception. He saw instinctively that his relations with Mr. Mullins were not likely to be cordial, and he suspected that if the bookkeeper could get him into trouble he would.

After the artist had left the office, Mr. David Mullins leisurely picked his teeth with his pen-knife, and fixed a scrutinizing glance on Chester, of whom he was evidently taking the measure.

"Do you knew Mr. Fairchild?" he at length asked, abruptly.

"No, sir."

"It's queer he should have engaged you as office boy."

Chester did not think it necessary to make any reply to this remark.

"How much salary do you expect to get?"

"Five dollars a week."

"Who told you so?"

"The gentleman who came in with me."

"Who is he?"

"Mr. Herbert Conrad, an artist and draughtsman."

"Never heard of him."

Mr. Mullins spoke as if this was enough to settle the status of Mr. Conrad. A man whom he did not know must be obscure.

"So, Mr. Fairchild engaged you through Mr. Conrad, did he?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you know anything about the city?"

"Not much."

"Then I can't imagine why Mr. Fairchild should have hired you. You can't be of much use here."

Chester began to feel discouraged. All this was certainly very depressing.

"I shall try to make myself useful," he said.

"Oh, yes," sneered Mr. Mullins, "new boys always say that."

There was a railing stretching across the office about midway, dividing it into two parts. The table and desk were inside. The remaining space was left for the outside public.

A poor woman entered the office, her face bearing the impress of sorrow.

"Is Mr. Fairchild in?" she asked.

"No, he isn't."

"I've come in about the month's rent."

"Very well! You can pay it to me. What name?"

"Mrs. Carlin, sir."

"Ha! yes. Your rent is six dollars. Pass it over, and I will give you a receipt."

"But I came to say that I had only three dollars and a half toward it."

"And why have you only three dollars and a half, I'd like to know?" said Mullins, rudely.

"Because my Jimmy has been sick three days. He's a telegraph boy, and I'm a widow, wid only me bye to help me."

"I have nothing to do with the sickness of your son. When you hired your rooms, you agreed to pay the rent, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir; but----"

"And you didn't say anything about Jimmy being sick or well."

"True for you, sir; but----"

"I think, Mrs. Carlin, you'll have to get hold of the other two dollars and a half some how, or out you'll go. See?"

"Shure, sir, you are very hard with a poor widow," said Mrs. Carlin, wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron.

"Business is business, Mrs. Carlin."

"If Mr. Fairchild were in, he'd trate me better than you. Will he be in soon?"

"Perhaps he will, and perhaps he won't. You can pay the money to me."

"I won't, sir, beggin' your pardon. I'd rather wait and see him."

"Very well! you can take the consequences," and Mr. Mullins eyed the widow with an unpleasant and threatening glance.

She looked very sad, and Chester felt that he should like to give the bookkeeper a good shaking. He could not help despising a man who appeared to enjoy distressing an unfortunate woman whose only crime was poverty.

At this moment the office door opened, and a gentleman of perhaps forty entered. He was a man with a kindly face, and looked far less important than the bookkeeper. Mr. Mullins, on seeing him, laid aside his unpleasant manner, and said, in a matter-of-fact tone:

"This is Mrs. Carlin. She owes six dollars rent, and only brings three dollars and a half."

"How is this, Mrs. Carlin?" inquired Mr. Fairchild, for this was he.

Mrs. Carlin repeated her story of Jimmy's illness and her consequent inability to pay the whole rent.

"When do you think Jimmy will get well?" asked the agent, kindly.

"He's gettin' better fast, sir. I think he'll be able to go to work by Wednesday. If you'll only wait a little while, sir----"

"How long have you been paying rent here?" asked Mr. Fairchild.

"This is the third year, sir."

"And have you ever been in arrears before?"

"No, sir."

"Then you deserve consideration. Mr. Mullins, give Mrs. Carlin a receipt on account, and she will pay the balance as soon as she can."

"Thank you, sir. May the saints reward you, sir! Shure, I told this gentleman that you'd make it all right with me. He was very hard with me."

"Mr. Mullins," said the agent, sternly, "I have before now told you that our customers are to be treated with consideration and kindness."

David Mullins did not reply, but he dug his pen viciously into the paper on which he was writing a receipt, and scowled, but as his back was turned to his employer, the latter did not see it.

When Mrs. Carlin had left the office, Chester thought it best to introduce himself.

"I am Chester Rand, from Wyncombe," he said. "Mr. Conrad came round to introduce me, but you were not in."

"Ah, yes, you have come to be my office boy. I am glad to see you and hope you will like the city. Mr. Mullins, you will set this boy to work."

"He told me he was to work here, but as you had not mentioned it I thought there must be some mistake. He says he doesn't know much about the city."

"Neither did I when I first came here from a country town."

"It will be rather inconvenient, sir. Now, my cousin whom I mentioned to you is quite at home all over the city."

"I am glad to hear it. He will find this knowledge of service--in some other situation," added Mr. Fairchild, significantly.

David Mullins bit his lip and was silent. He could not understand why Felix Gordon, his cousin, had failed to impress Mr. Fairchild favorably. He had not noticed that Felix entered the office with a cigarette in his mouth, which he only threw away when he was introduced to the real estate agent.

"I'll have that boy out of this place within a month, or my name isn't David Mullins," he said to himself.

Chester could not read what was passing through his mind, but he felt instinctively that the bookkeeper was his enemy.

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