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Nat continued to gaze at the bill like one in a dream. He had never seen a greenback that was worth a hundred dollars before, but he had no doubt of its genuineness.
"A hundred dollars!" he repeated several times. "Why, it's a small fortune!"
Then he began to wonder if Paul Hampton had not made a mistake, and turned to the slip of paper, upon which he found written:
"I give you this hundred dollars for what you did for me at Niagara Falls. Don't be discouraged. If you ever need a friend, write or come and see me. I sincerely hope the money will bring you good fortune."
"What a kind man," murmured Nat, and read the note again. "It was a mighty lucky thing for me that I went to the Falls."
When he went to bed he felt rich, and he came to the breakfast table whistling merrily.
"Hullo," cried Dick, "have you struck luck at last?"
"I'm in luck in one way," answered our hero. "Look at that," and he showed the bank bill.
"Why, it's a hundred dollars, Nat!" And the newsboy's eyes opened widely.
"Where on earth did you get the money?"
"A gentleman gave it to me."
"For saving his life. But I didn't know I had it until I went to bed last night."
"You're talking in riddles."
"I'll explain," and then our hero told as much of the Niagara Falls episode as he deemed necessary.
"Here is the note," he concluded, showing the slip of paper, which was unsigned. "I don't feel at liberty to mention the gentleman's name. I don't think it would be just right."
"A rich man like that would be a fool to commit suicide," said Dick, bluntly. "What are you going to do with all that money?"
"I don't know. But I shan't squander it, I can tell you that."
"You can go into business for yourself on that amount."
"Maybe, but I guess I had better keep on hunting for a job. I can go into business for myself when I know more about New York."
"That's where you are sensible. You might lose your money in double-quick time in your own business."
Nat put the bill away very carefully, and then went out to look for a position as before. But the week passed and nothing turned up.
On Sunday the country boy attended a church in the vicinity of his boarding house, and in the afternoon he took a walk to Central Park. In the evening he stayed at home and read a paper which Dick brought in.
As was natural Nat read over the want advertisements very carefully. It was not long before he came to one which excited his curiosity. The advertisement was as follows:
"WANTED—A clerk, to whom a liberal salary will be paid. One preferred who comes from the country and is not too old. References expected. Must deposit $100 as security, for which interest will be paid. Inquire Room 24, Dallax Building, Broadway."
"That ought to strike me," mused Nat, as he laid down the paper. "Just the thing, and no mistake. I'll go and see about it."
Our hero had acquired sufficient knowledge of New York to find the place indicated in the advertisement without much trouble. It was a four-story stone building, and he walked up two flights of stairs until he reached Room 24. On the door was the sign:
Entering the office he found it plainly but neatly furnished with two desks and several chairs. In front of one of the desks sat a middle-aged man, well dressed, and smoking a cigar.
"Is this Mr. Dart?" questioned Nat, taking off his hat.
"That is my name," responded Hamilton Dart, with a keen glance at our hero.
"Did you advertise for a clerk. I saw an advertisement——"
"Oh, yes!" interrupted the man. "Pray be seated," and he motioned to one of the chairs. "You came to see about the place, did you?"
"Yes, sir. You advertised that you would like somebody from the country, and that hits me."
"You came from the country to try your luck?"
"Yes, sir. I got tired of the farm."
Hamilton Dart smiled good-naturedly, and blew a cloud of smoke toward the ceiling of his office.
"I don't blame you. I got tired of the farm myself when I was about your age, and came here with less than a hundred dollars in my pocket."
"Well, I came with just a little more than that," answered Nat, innocently.
"Indeed! Then you are better off than I was. But I shan't complain, for I have made money right along. But what do you think I am worth now?"
"I don't know, I am sure—five or ten thousand dollars maybe."
"Nearly fifty thousand dollars," and Hamilton Dart looked at Nat, coolly and innocently.
"Fifty thousand!" cried the boy. "You've certainly been lucky. I wish I could make that much."
"You have the same opportunities that I had. Let me see, what did you say your name was?"
"I didn't say. It is Nat Nason."
"I am glad to know you. You have a bright and honest face, and faces count a good deal with me."
This was gratifying to Nat, and he could not help but think that Mr. Dart was a pleasant gentleman with whom to deal.
"I advertised for a country young man because I was that myself once, and I like to help country young men along," continued Hamilton Dart. "You are out of work at present?"
"Yes, sir. I worked for a firm, but they sold out to another firm."
"I see. Have you any recommendations? Not that they are strictly necessary from one who looks so honest."
"I can refer you to the firm I worked for."
"That will be satisfactory, although I don't mind telling you that I am very particular in the selection of my clerks. So far I have rejected seventeen who applied."
"I should try my best to do what was right," answered Nat, modestly.
"That is the way I like to hear a person talk."
"Then you will take me?"
"We haven't agreed on terms yet. What do you expect in the way of salary?"
"I guess I'll leave that to you," answered Nat, after some hesitation.
"What did you get at your last place?"
"Seven dollars a week."
"Humph! Your employer was not very liberal. A clerk that is worth anything to me is worth ten dollars a week at least."
The mentioning of ten dollars made Nat's heart jump.
"If you'll pay me ten dollars a week, Mr. Dart, I'll do my level best to earn it."
"Do you write a fair hand?"
"Here is my handwriting," answered the boy, and wrote his name on a piece of paper.
"That is quite good—for a boy. I think you will improve by practice. Here you will have quite some writing to do, and bills to sort out. But the work will not be difficult, for the summer is our dull season."
"By the way, I suppose you know I require a deposit of one hundred dollars from each of my clerks," went on Hamilton Dart, with assumed carelessness. "Sometimes my clerks have quite some money to handle for me."
"I can make that deposit," answered Nat. "Will I get a receipt for it?"
"To be sure, and I will also pay you six per cent. interest on the money. You can have it back whenever you leave my service. When can you make the deposit?"
"Right now, if you say so."
"Very well; I'll make out the receipt."
Hamilton Dart wrote out a receipt for a hundred dollars, and signed his name with a flourish. He passed it to Nat, and the boy handed him the hundred-dollar bill.
"You don't believe in carrying small bills," said the man, with an assumed smile.
"That is the only big bill I ever owned," was the answer.
Hamilton Dart pocketed the bill, and looked out of the window as if in deep thought.
"I was thinking you might go to work to-day, but perhaps it will be as well to go to work to-morrow," he said, after a pause. "Come at nine o'clock sharp."
"I will, sir."
"Then that is all for the present. I am sure we will get along very well together. To-morrow another clerk will be here to help you along."
Hamilton Dart turned to his desk, and began to write. Feeling himself dismissed, Nat said "good-morning," and bowed himself out. The man listened to his footsteps as he descended the stairs, and then gave a low chuckle.
"That was easy, Nick," he muttered. "Two so far. I wonder how many more fools I'll catch before the game plays out?"
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