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Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World, a novel by Horatio Alger

Chapter 27. Dodger Strikes Luck

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_ Chapter XXVII. Dodger Strikes Luck

When Dodger landed in San Francisco, in spite of the fact that he had made the journey against his will, he felt a natural exhilaration and pleasure in the new and striking circumstances and scenes in which he found himself placed.

It was in the year 1877, and the city was by no means what it is now. Yet it probably contained not far from two hundred thousand people, lively, earnest, enterprising. All seemed busy and hopeful, and Dodger caught the contagion.

As he walked with the reporter to a modest hotel, where the rates were a dollar and a half a day, not far from Montgomery Street, Randolph Leslie asked:

"How do you like San Francisco thus far, Arthur?"

It will be remembered that Dodger, feeling that the name by which he had hitherto been known was hardly likely to recommend him, adopted the one given him by Curtis Waring.

"I think I shall like it ever so much," answered Dodger. "Everybody seems to be wideawake."

"Do you think you will like it better than New York?"

"I think a poor boy will have more of a chance of making a living here. In New York I was too well known. If I got a place anywhere some one would recognize me as Tim Bolton's boy--accustomed to tend bar--or some gentleman would remember that he had bought papers of me. Here nobody knows me, and I can start fair."

"There is a great deal in what you say," returned Leslie. "What do you think of trying to do?"

"First of all I will write a letter to Florence, and tell her I am all right. How long does it take a letter to go from here to New York?"

"About seven days."

"And it took us over four months! That seems wonderful."

"Yes; there is a great difference between coming by sea around Cape Horn and speeding across the country on an express train."

"If I could only know how Florence is getting along," Dodger said, anxiously. "I suppose she thinks I am dead."

"You forget the letter you gave to the vessel we spoke off the coast of Brazil."

"Yes; but do you think it went straight?"

"The chances are in favor of it. However, your idea is a good one. Write, by all means, and then we will discuss future plans."

"What are your plans, Mr. Leslie?"

"I shall try to secure a reporter's berth on one of the daily papers-- the _Call_ or _Chronicle_. I will wait a few days, however, as I have a few hundred dollars by me, and can afford to take a little time to look around."

"I wish I were as well provided; but I have less than twenty-five dollars."

"Don't worry about that, Arthur," said Randolph, laying his hand affectionately on the boy's shoulder. "I shall not allow you to want."

"Thank you, Mr. Leslie," said Dodger, gratefully. "It's something new to me to have a friend like you. But I don't want to be any expense to you. I am large enough and strong enough to earn my own living."

"True; and I feel sure you will have a chance in this enterprising city."

They bought copies of the day's papers, and Dodger looked eagerly over the advertising columns.

At length he saw an advertisement that read as follows:

WANTED--A young man of 18 or 20 to assist in the
office of a local express. Inquire at No. -- ---- St."

"Do you think I would answer for such a place?" he asked.

"I don't see why not. At any rate, 'nothing venture, nothing gain.' You may as well go around and inquire. And, by the way, as your suit is rather shabby, let me lend you one of mine. We are of nearly the same size."

"Thank you, Mr. Leslie."

"Fine feathers make fine birds, you know, and a neat dress always increases the chances of an applicant for employment, though, when it is carried too far, it is apt to excite suspicion. I remember a friend of mine advertised for a bookkeeper. Among the applicants was a young man wearing a sixty-dollar suit, a ruffled shirt, a handsome gold watch and a diamond pin. He was a man of taste, and he was strongly impressed with the young man's elegant appearance. So, largely upon the strength of these, he engaged him, and in less than six months discovered that he had been swindled to the extent of eight hundred dollars by his aesthetic bookkeeper."

"Then I will leave my diamond pin at home," said Dodger, smiling. "Suppose they ask me for recommendations?"

"I will go with you and indorse you. I happen to know one or two prominent gentlemen in San Francisco--among them the president of a bank--and I presume my indorsement will be sufficient."

Dodger went back to the hotel, put on a suit of Mr. Leslie's, got his boots blacked, and then, in company with the young reporter, went to the express office.

"I am afraid some one will have been engaged already," said the reporter; "but if not, your chances will be good."

They entered a good-sized office on a prominent street, and Dodger inquired for Mr. Tucker.

A small man of about forty, keen-eyed and alert, eyed him attentively.

"I am Mr. Tucker," he said.

"I saw your advertisement for an assistant, Mr. Tucker," said Dodger, modestly; "have you filled the place?"

"Let me see," said Tucker, reflectively, "you are the ninth young man who has applied--but the place is still open."

"Then I am afraid you won't want me, as you have rejected so many."

"I don't know. How long have you been in the city?"

"I only just arrived."

"Where from?"

"From New York."

"Have you any idea of going to the mines when you get money enough?"

"I think I would prefer to remain in the city."

"Good! How is your education?"

"I have never been to college," answered Dodger, with a smile.

"Good! I don't care for your college men. I am a practical man myself."

"I am a poor scholar, but Mr. Leslie tells me I write a fair hand."

"Let me see a specimen of your writing."

Now Dodger had taken special pains on the voyage to improve his penmanship, with excellent results.

So it happened that the specimen which he furnished had the good fortune to please Mr. Tucker.

"Good!" he said. "You will, a part of the time, be taking orders. Your handwriting is plain and will do. Never mind about Latin and Greek. You won't need it. Chinese would be more serviceable to you here. When can you go to work?"

"To-morrow morning. To-day, if necessary," answered Dodger, promptly.

Mr. Tucker seemed pleased with his answer.

"To-morrow morning let it be, then! Hours are from eight in the morning till six at night."

"Very well, sir."

"Your wages will be fifteen dollars a week. How will that suit you?"

Dodger wanted to indulge in a loud whoop of exultation, for fifteen dollars was beyond his wildest hopes; but he was too politic to express his delight. So he contented himself with saying:

"I shall be quite satisfied with that."

"Oh, by the way, I suppose I ought to have some reference," said Mr. Tucker, "though as a general thing I judge a good deal by outward appearance."

"I can refer you to my friend, Mr. Leslie, here."

"And who will indorse him?" asked the expressman, shrewdly.

Leslie smiled.

"I see, Mr. Tucker, you are a thorough man of business. I can refer you to Mr. ----, president of the ---- Bank in this city."

"That is sufficient, sir. I am sure you would not refer me to him unless you felt satisfied that he would speak favorably of you. I won't, therefore, take the trouble to inquire. Where are you staying?"

"At the Pacific Hotel; but we shall take a private apartment within a day or two."

As they passed out of the office, Randolph Leslie said:

"You've done splendidly, Arthur."

"Haven't I? I feel like a millionaire."

"As you are to go to work to-morrow, we may as well take up a room at once. It will be cheaper."

In a short time they had engaged a neat suite of rooms, two in number, not far from the Palace Hotel, at twenty dollars per month.

The next day Leslie procured a position on the San Francisco _Chronicle_, at twenty-five dollars per week. _

Read next: Chapter 28. Florence Receives A Letter

Read previous: Chapter 26. Bolton Makes A Discovery

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