Chapter IV. A Brilliant Chance.
 

The week was over, and Ben persisted in his determination to leave Hampton.

"I'm sorry you are going, Ben," said his Cousin Jennie. "I shall miss you awfully."

As Jennie was the prettiest girl in the village, though she did not inherit any good looks from her plain-looking father, Ben was gratified.

"You'd forget me soon," he said.

"No, I won't."

"Especially when Sam Sturgis comes round to see you."

"I don't want to see him. He's a stuck-up boy, and thinks himself too good to associate with common people."

"He wanted to have me black his boots," said Ben.

"He isn't fit to black yours," said Jennie energetically.

"Oh, yes, he is," said Ben, laughing. "That's where you and I disagree."

"I guess we both mean about the same thing," said Jennie, who saw the point.

Ben's resolve to go to California was modified by an advertisement in a New York daily paper which he saw at the village tavern.

It ran thus:

"Wanted, six boys, from fifteen to eighteen years of age, to fill positions of trust. Ten dollars per week will be paid; but a deposit of fifty dollars is required as a guarantee of honesty. This sum will be repaid at the close of term of service. Address Fitch & Perguson, No.--Nassau Street."

This advertisement looked quite attractive to Ben. He copied it, and showed it to Uncle Job.

"Isn't that a good chance, Uncle Job?" he said. "Just think! Ten dollars a week!"

"You'd have to pay your board out of it," said his uncle.

"I know that, but my board wouldn't cost more than four dollars a week. That would leave me six."

"So it would. I declare it does seem to be a good chance. Maybe they've got all the boys they want."

"Why, you see, uncle, there's a good many boys that couldn't pay the deposit money. That would limit the number of applicants. Now, I have the money, and I guess I'd better write to New York at once about it."

"Maybe you had, Ben."

Ben immediately procured a sheet of paper and wrote to the advertisers, stating that he would like the position, and assuring them of his ability to furnish the required sum. The letter went to New York by the afternoon mail.

Naturally Ben was a little excited and suffered a little from suspense. He feared that all the places would be filled, and such another chance was hardly to be expected again very soon. However, on Monday morning he was gratified by the receipt of the following letter:

"No.--NASSAU STREET, NEW YORK.

"MR. BENJAMIN STANTON: Your letter of yesterday is at hand. Fortunately we have one vacancy, the other places being already filled. We have rejected three applicants for it on account of unsatisfactory penmanship. Yours, however, is up to the mark, and we will engage you on the strength of it. It will be necessary for you to report as soon as possible at our office for duty. We require the deposit on account of the sums of money which you will handle. We do not doubt your honesty, but it seems desirable that you should furnish a guarantee, particularly as we pay a much larger salary than is usually given to young clerks.

"Yours respectfully,

"FITCH & FERGUSON.

"P. S. Your engagement will not commence until the fifty dollars are in our hands."

Ben was quite elated by his success.

"I must start to-morrow morning," he said, "or I shall be in danger of losing the place."

"It seems very sudden," said his aunt. "I am afraid I sha'n't have time to get your clothes ready. Some are dirty, and others need mending. If I'd had a little notice-"

"It won't make any difference, Aunt Sarah," said Ben. "I'll take a few clothes in a carpetbag, and you can send the rest by express when they are ready."

"Yes, Sarah, that will be the best way," said Uncle Job. "Ben don't want to run the risk of losing the place by delay."

Mrs. Stanton acquiesced rather unwillingly, and for the remainder of the day Ben was busy making preparations to leave his country home.