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The Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success, a fiction by Horatio Alger

Chapter 10. Phil Calls On Mr. Pitkin

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PHIL paused before an imposing business structure, and looked up to see if he could see the sign that would show him he had reached his destination.

He had not far to look. On the front of the building he saw in large letters the sign:


In the door-way there was another sign, from which he learned that the firm occupied the second floor.

He went up-stairs, and opening a door, entered a spacious apartment which looked like a hive of industry. There were numerous clerks, counters piled with goods, and every indication that a prosperous business was being carried on.

The nearest person was a young man of eighteen, or perhaps more, with an incipient, straw-colored mustache, and a shock of hair of tow-color. This young man wore a variegated neck-tie, a stiff standing-collar, and a suit of clothes in the extreme of fashion.

Phil looked at him hesitatingly.

The young man observed the look, and asked condescendingly:

"What can I do for you, my son?"

Such an address from a person less than three years older than himself came near upsetting the gravity of Phil.

"Is Mr. Pitkin in?" he asked.

"Yes, I believe so."

"Can I see him."

"I have no objection," remarked the young man facetiously.

"Where shall I find him?"

The youth indicated a small room partitioned off as a private office in the extreme end of the store.

"Thank you," said Phil, and proceeded to find his way to the office in question.

Arrived at the door, which was partly open, he looked in.

In an arm-chair sat a small man, with an erect figure and an air of consequence. He was not over forty-five, but looked older, for his cheeks were already seamed and his look was querulous. Cheerful natures do not so soon show signs of age as their opposites.

"Mr. Pitkin?" said Phil interrogatively.

"Well?" said the small man, frowning instinctively.

"I have a note for you, sir."

Phil stepped forward and handed the missive to Mr. Pitkin.

The latter opened it quickly and read as follows:

The boy who will present this to you did me a service this morning. He is in want of employment. He seems well educated, but if you can't offer him anything better than the post of errand boy, do so. I will guarantee that he will give satisfaction. You can send him to the post-office, and to other offices on such errands as you may have. Pay him five dollars a week and charge that sum to me. Yours truly, OLIVER CARTER.


Mr. Pitkin's frown deepened as he read this note.

"Pish!" he ejaculated, in a tone which, though low, was audible to Phil. "Uncle Oliver must be crazy. What is your name?" he demanded fiercely, turning suddenly to Phil.

"Philip Brent."

"When did you meet--the gentleman who gave you this letter?"

Phil told him.

"Do you know what is in this letter?"

"I suppose, sir, it is a request that you give me a place."

"Did you read it?"

"No," answered Phil indignantly.

"Humph! He wants me to give you the place of errand boy."

"I will try to suit you, sir."

"When do you want to begin?"

"As soon as possible, sir."

"Come to-morrow morning, and report to me first."

"Another freak of Uncle Oliver's!" he muttered, as he turned his back upon Phil, and so signified that the interview was at an end. _

Read next: Chapter 11. Phil Enters Upon His Duties

Read previous: Chapter 9. The Old Gentleman Proves A Friend

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