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"Well, I've struck luck again," said Nat, when he arrived at his boarding place, and met Dick Talcott.
"Got a job?" questioned the newsboy.
"I hope you're going to get pretty good wages?"
"Ten dollars per week," answered Nat, with just a trace of pride in his voice.
"Ten dollars. That is luck. What at?"
"I'm in a broker's office, and I'm to do writing and sorting out bills."
"Where is the place?"
"Down on Broadway."
"I'm glad to hear of this, Nat," said the newsboy. "Wish I could strike something like that."
"Perhaps you will some day, Dick."
"The trouble is I can't write very well. I never had much schooling."
"If you wish, I'll teach you how to write. It always came easy to me."
"Will you teach me? I'll do my best to learn. We can go at it nights."
Early on the following morning, Nat presented himself at the office on Broadway. He had shined his shoes and brushed his clothes, and presented a very neat appearance. He found Hamilton Dart at his desk, and smoking as before.
"I wish you to go to the post office for me," said the man, as soon as he entered. "Go to the general delivery window and ask for letters for Samuel Barrows. That is my sick brother-in-law who is visiting me from Michigan."
"Of course you know where the post office is?"
"Oh, yes. I've been past there several times."
"You needn't be in a hurry. Wait until they sort the eleven-o'clock mail."
The distance to the post office was a considerable one. But Nat was a good walker, and found it was only half-past nine when he got there. To while away the time he determined to walk out on the Brooklyn Bridge and take in the sights from that elevated structure.
Making his way through the crowd on Park Row, he was soon out on the bridge, and walking in the direction of Brooklyn. There was a stiff breeze blowing, and several times his hat was almost lifted from his head.
Suddenly he heard a shout, and saw a stout man running wildly after some papers which the wind was carrying along the walk on the bridge. The man secured one of the papers, but two others were fast blowing beyond his reach, when Nat rushed up and secured them just as they were on the point of being carried into the river.
"Have—you—got them?" puffed the man, as Nat came towards him.
"Yes, sir. Here you are," and Nat held out the papers.
"Good! I was afraid they were lost to me!" And the stranger heaved a heavy sigh of relief.
"Were they valuable?" asked our hero, curiously.
"Quite so. They are the legal documents in an important real estate case now before the courts. It was very kind of you to pick them up for me."
"Oh, it wasn't so much to do," answered Nat.
"Nevertheless, I am much obliged," added the stout man, warmly. "I shouldn't have come out on the bridge with them. But I love to get the breeze. I think it does me good. Much obliged;" and then he passed on.
"I guess he's a lawyer, or a real estate dealer," thought Nat. "Well, he ought to walk. It may take some of the fat off of him."
Nat walked half-way to Brooklyn, and then back again. Shortly after eleven o'clock he presented himself at the proper window of the post office.
"Has the eleven o'clock mail been sorted yet?" he asked.
"Have you any letters for Samuel Barrows?"
The clerk looked through one of the boxes beside him.
"Nothing," he answered, briefly.
"Nothing at all?"
The post office clerk shook his head. Seeing this Nat walked away, and started back for the office.
He did not suspect that his employer had sent him to the post office merely to get him out of the office, yet such was the fact. Hamilton Dart had no brother-in-law named Samuel Barrows.
As a matter of fact, Hamilton Dart—that was not his real name, but let us use it for the present, nevertheless—was nothing but a swindler. He was worth only a few hundred dollars, and his brokerage and commission business was such in name only.
While Nat was on his post office errand, Hamilton Dart had two other callers. The first was a bright young man, hailing from Newark, New Jersey.
"I am sure you will suit me," said Hamilton Dart, after questioning the young man. "I am very much pleased with your appearance."
"Thank you," was the brief answer.
"You may go to work to-morrow at twelve dollars per week. Will that suit?"
"You will, of course, put up one hundred dollars as security," added the assumed broker.
"What security will you give?" demanded the bright young man from Newark.
"Oh, I'll give you my personal note," answered Hamilton Dart, carelessly.
"Well, I'll think it over."
"Eh? I thought you wanted to accept on the spot?" demanded the swindler.
"No, sir," answered the young man. He intended to make some inquiries into Hamilton Dart's financial standing before investing his cash. "I'll come around again to-morrow morning."
"I shall give the place to somebody else before that time," was the cold response.
"If you do, I'll be out of it," was the equally cold answer of the young Jerseyman, and he walked out of the office.
"One fish I didn't land," muttered Hamilton Dart to himself. "Better luck next time."
Hardly had the young man left than a sickly-looking middle-aged man appeared. He had been in the hospital for two months, and out of work for twice that length of time.
"You advertised for a clerk," he said, sitting down on a chair.
"I am a bookkeeper, and an all-round office man," added the sick man. "I am willing to work hard for low wages."
"I am always willing to pay good wages to the right man," answered Hamilton Dart, smoothly.
At this the face of the sick man brightened.
"I have been sick," he went on, apologetically. "But I am getting stronger every day."
"Well, the work here is not very hard."
"What could you pay me?"
"Twelve dollars per week."
"That would suit me nicely."
"Then you can come to work to-morrow. But you will have to put up one hundred dollars as security. On that I will allow you six per cent. interest."
At this announcement the face of the sick man fell.
"I am very sorry, sir, but I haven't the money. My sickness has reduced me almost to my last dollar."
"Then I can't hire you," said Hamilton Dart, harshly.
"I can give you some excellent references, sir."
"No, I don't care for references. My clerks have to furnish cash security. I employ no others. You had better see if you can't raise the money."
"I don't know how I can do it."
"Haven't you any friends or relatives?"
"I have a sister in Brooklyn. She might possibly loan the amount."
"Then you had better see her. I will keep the place open for you for a couple of days."
The sick man pleaded to be taken on, but Hamilton Dart was obdurate, and at last the visitor left the office.
"Hang the luck; he must take me for a charity association," muttered the swindler. "Two lost! This business isn't paying as well as I hoped it would."
When Nat came back he was somewhat tired from his long tramp. He asked his employer what he should do next.
"Go and get your lunch, and be back in an hour," was the answer.
Hardly had Nat left the office than a young fellow named Harry Bray appeared. He had been in to see Hamilton Dart before and carried a hundred dollars in his vest pocket.
"I will take the position," he said, and handed over his money, which the swindler pocketed with alacrity.
"When shall I go to work?" asked Harry Bray.
"After lunch. You will have another new clerk to help you, a fellow named Nat Nason," answered Hamilton Dart.
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