Chapter XXVIII. A Lucky Resolve.
 

"Well, Richard, we are gentlemen of leisure now."

It was Frank who spoke, and the occasion was the Monday morning following their final week with Williams & Mann.

"Yes; but it doesn't suit me in the least," returned Richard. "To be idle is the hardest work I can do. Have you anything in view?"

"Not a thing. I put in twelve applications last week to as many different houses, but as yet I haven't heard from a single one."

"What do you intend to do?"

"I hardly know. I don't think it will pay to make any personal applications."

"I'm going to try it," returned Richard, resolutely. "They can't say any more than no, and each no will save just two cents in postage if nothing else."

"When do you intend to start out," asked Frank, who could not help admiring Richard's pluck.

"In about an hour. It is too early yet to catch the heads of the firms."

"Going to start at any particular place?"

"Yes."

"Where?--or perhaps you don't care to tell," added Frank hastily.

"Yes, I do," replied Richard, smiling quietly. "I am going to try the stationer on the corner."

"Who? Martin? Why, he has such a small store I'm sure he doesn't need help. He and his son and a boy do all the business."

"Never mind. I made up my mind to stop at every place, and his is the first on the route; so I'll call, if only for the principle of the thing."

"That's an idea!" cried Frank. "You are bound to have a place if there is a single one vacant. Well, Dick, I trust with all my heart that you'll succeed," he added warmly.

"You had better start out, too, Frank."

"Oh--I--I don't think it's much use," said the other hesitatingly.

"Oh, yes, it is, and you know it. Now confess that it is only your lack of 'nerve' that keeps you from it."

Frank colored slightly.

"Well, I guess it is," he admitted. "I never was a good hand at approaching people."

"Then you ought to break yourself in at once. Just break the ice and you'll have no further trouble. I remember just how bad I felt when I first came to New York to look for work. But I'm over it now, thank goodness!"

And truth to tell in the past few weeks Richard had lost much of his former shyness.

Frank Massanet was silent for a moment.

"I guess I will," he said finally. "I'll start out and have the thing over at once. Which way do you intend to go--up or down?"

"I thought I would try down town first."

"Then I'll go up. We can compare notes at supper-time."

"So we can. I hope we both have luck," said Richard.

But he did not feel particularly elated over the prospects. His former search for employment had convinced him that desirable situations were rarely to be had--there was always some one on hand to fill a vacancy as soon as it occurred.

He felt, however, that he must obtain employment of some kind, and that quickly. The small amount of money he had in hand would not last him long, and though kind-hearted Mrs. Massanet might be willing to let him remain awhile without paying board, he knew that now, with her son idle, the good woman could not afford so generous a course.

Richard had not gone to see Mr. Joyce as yet. He hesitated for several reasons. In the first place the leather merchant had been so kind to him that the boy felt it would be encroaching upon good nature to solicit further aid, and in the second place, Mr. Joyce must know he was out of a place, and would help him if he could, without being bothered about it.

"I won't go to him until after I've done all I can for myself," had been Richard's conclusion. "I would rather show him that I can help myself."

Richard had written home about the fire, and had added that he would probably lose his place in consequence, but he had not sent word home that he was now idle, thinking it would be time enough to do so when he found himself unable to obtain another situation.

The store to which Richard had referred was a small but neat one, situated upon the corner of the street in which the Massanets lived and Second Avenue. It was kept by Jonas Martin, an elderly man, and his son, James. The stock consisted principally of books and stationery, although the proprietors also kept papers and magazines, for which there was a steady daily demand.

"I suppose there is hardly any use in striking him," thought Richard, as he entered the store. "But I said every place, so here goes."

He found the elderly Mr. Martin behind a desk, writing a letter. The storekeeper's face wore a troubled look.

"Good-morning," began Richard. "Is this Mr. Martin?"

"That's my name," was the reply. "What can I do for you?"

"I am looking for a place, sir. I worked for Williams & Mann, but they burned out, as, no doubt you know, and that threw me out of work. Have you anything open? I can furnish good recommendations."

Richard had carefully rehearsed this little speech, and now delivered it so that his hearer might understand every word that was uttered.

Mr. Martin looked at him sharply, and then rubbed his chin reflectively.

"What made you think I needed help?" he asked.

"Oh, I don't know, sir. Every proprietor needs help at one time or another, and I've made up my mind to find a place if there is any open."

"You have recommendations, you say?"

"Yes, sir."

And Richard handed over those he had received from Williams & Mann.

Mr. Martin read them carefully.

"It seems to be all right," he said, as he handed back the paper. "If I thought you would answer my purpose I would look you up."

"Then you need help?" asked Richard, quickly, glad to think he had struck an opening with so little trouble.

"Yes, I do. My son James who helps me is sick in Philadelphia, and consequently I have only the errand boy to relieve me. It is too much for me and I must get a clerk."

"I would like you to try me," said Richard eagerly. "I would do my best to suit, even if the place was only a temporary one."

"It might be permanent. The business is growing. But of course when my son came back I could not pay a clerk so much."

"How much would you pay now?"

"How much do you expect?" asked Mr. Martin cautiously.

"I was getting eight dollars a week at my last place."

"I would be willing to pay that. But I want some one who is trustworthy and willing to learn. Have you other recommendations?"

"I can refer you to Mr. Timothy Joyce," replied Richard; and he wrote down the leather merchant's name and address on a bit of wrapping paper.

Mr. Martin looked at the neat handwriting.

"Come round to-morrow morning this time," he said. "I will look up the references this afternoon and if I find them satisfactory you can come to work at once."

"Thank you, sir. Good-morning."

By this time there were two customers waiting, so not wishing to detain the storekeeper longer. Richard nodded pleasantly and left the place.