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Abner Balberry and his bride remained in New York four days longer, and during that time Nat did all in his power to make their visit a pleasant one. He received Mr. Garwell's permission to remain away from work one day, and took his uncle and aunt to Central Park, and to the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. They were greatly pleased, and were frank enough to tell Nat so.
"I guess you are more cut out for the city than for the farm," said Abner to his nephew. "I hope you do well. You must write to us often, an' some day you must pay us a visit."
"I certainly will do that, Uncle Abner," said Nat, and then, to please the bride, he purchased for her a souvenir book, containing many illustrations of the metropolis. This book Mrs. Balberry prized highly, and from that moment she began to like Nat.
"He ain't half so bad as I was led to expect," she said, on the way home. "He seems to know what he is doing."
"He certainly is gettin' along," responded Abner. "Shouldn't wonder but what he'll be a regular business man some day."
"Do you think it would pay to send Fred down to the city?"
"No, he better stay on the farm. Fred ain't got the way about him thet Nat's got."
"He's just as smart," said the youth's mother, quickly.
"Maybe, but he ain't got the knack o' it."
"He would do just as well if he had the chance," continued Mrs. Balberry. As was perhaps natural she thought her own son as good as any boy.
On the day after Nat's uncle left New York John Garwell called the boy into his private office.
"Did you arrange matters with Mr. Balberry?" he asked, pleasantly.
"Yes, sir. He is going to leave me alone after this," and our hero smiled.
"I am glad to hear it, Nat. Then there is nothing in the way of your continuing here."
"In that case I want to ask you a question. How would you like to take up stenography and typewriting?"
"I'd like it first-rate, if I thought I could do anything with them after I had learned them."
"I would like to have a private secretary who understood stenography, and the use of the typewriter."
"Oh, Mr. Garwell, do you think I would do?"
"Perhaps. You are bright, and I feel that I can trust you."
"If you want me to, I'll go at stenography and typewriting at once."
"You'll have to have some time for it."
"I can go at night. There are several evening schools I know of."
"Very well, then, you may start in at once, and I will pay your tuition fees."
"I can pay those out of my savings."
"No, bring the bills to me, Nat. And after this week your duties will be wholly as my private clerk," added John Garwell.
This made quite a change for our hero. But it was an agreeable one, and he went at his new duties with vigor. A good school was selected, which Nat attended five nights in the week.
"This kind of knocks me out," said Dick, when our hero told him of the change.
"No, it don't," said Nat, quickly. "I've made arrangements for you, Dick."
"You are to come three nights a week, for lessons in arithmetic and penmanship."
"Do they give the lessons free?"
"No, I am going to settle that."
"How much will you pay?"
"Three dollars a month."
"I ought to pay that."
"No, I am going to do it," said Nat, firmly, and he kept his word.
As John Garwell's private clerk, Nat received ten dollars per week, and as he had no school bills to pay for himself he found it easy to pay for Dick. The newsboy was making rapid progress, and this not only pleased his mother, but also the man who had promised to give Dick a position in his stationery store.
"I'm going to have a job in the store next month," said the newsboy one day. "Mr. Andrews' clerk is going to leave, and I am to take his place."
"And how much will Mr. Andrews give you?" asked Mrs. Talcott.
"Six dollars a week to start on, and he says he will give me eight dollars as soon as I can help on the books."
"I am glad to hear it, Dick."
"I guess I've got Nat to thank for the job," said the newsboy. "I had to do some writing for Mr. Andrews, and he said the writing was all right."
"Yes, you can certainly thank Nat," said Mrs. Talcott.
The days passed swiftly for Nat. He made good progress at the evening school, and Mr. Garwell was correspondingly pleased. Every day the real estate broker trusted Nat more and more, until the lad occupied a truly responsible position.
One day Nat was sent to Brooklyn, to have a certain document signed by a lady of wealth.
"You must get Mrs. Parloe's signature to this, Nat," said his employer, "and get somebody to witness the signature, and sign here," he added.
"The paper is valuable, and I don't want you to let it go out of your sight," went on John Garwell.
"I'll take care to keep my eye on it," answered Nat.
He was soon on his way, and after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, took a street car to the address given him. It was a fine brownstone house, with elegant lace curtains at the windows.
"Does Mrs. Parloe live here?" he asked of the girl who came to the door.
"I would like to see her on business," and Nat handed out a card on which was printed:
The girl told Nat to take a seat, and went off with the card. He waited for fully five minutes, during which he heard a low murmur of voices in a back room. Then a tall, dark-eyed man came forward.
"What do you wish of Mrs. Parloe?" he questioned, abruptly.
"Excuse me, but my business is with the lady," answered Nat, politely. He had been told to transact business with Mrs. Parloe and with nobody else.
"Oh! I suppose you came about that property," went on the dark-eyed man, surlily. "If you did, let me tell you, it won't do any good."
To this our hero made no reply.
"Mrs. Parloe will see you upstairs," said the girl, returning, and showed Nat the way up. The dark-eyed man started to follow, but the girl called him back.
"Mrs. Parloe wished you to remain below, Mr. Cameron," she said.
At this the man uttered something under his breath which Nat could not catch. Evidently, he was very angry, and he went into a side room, slamming the door after him.
Nat found Mrs. Parloe sitting in an easy chair by a front window. She was something of an invalid and rather old.
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Nason," said she. "Take a seat."
"Thank you," returned Nat. "Here is a note for you from Mr. Garwell," and he passed it over.
The old lady read the communication carefully, nodding to herself as she did so. Then she turned again to our hero.
"Have you the document with you?"
"Yes, ma'am," and Nat brought it forth. "You will have to have somebody as a witness. Can I call somebody for you?"
The old lady mused for a moment.
"I don't believe Rufus will do it," she said, half aloud.
"Do you mean the gentleman I met downstairs?"
"Yes, my nephew, Rufus Cameron. He does not wish me to transact business with Mr. Garwell. You may call John, my hired man. He is quite intelligent."
"Where will I find him?"
"You will—but never mind, Mary can call him."
Mrs. Parloe touched a bell, and soon Mary appeared, and went off to find the hired man. In the meantime, Nat fixed a reading stand so it could be used as a writing table, and brought out a stylographic pen his employer had given him.
Soon the hired man appeared. He was fairly well educated, and showed it in his face and manner.
"I am going to sign this document, John," said the old lady. "I wish you to witness my signature."
Not without something of an effort, Mrs. Parloe affixed her signature to the paper. Then Nat handed the document to John, and told him where to place his own name in full, and also his address. In a minute the matter was concluded, and Mrs. Parloe told the hired man to go, and he did so.
"I trust Mr. Garwell has no further difficulty in this matter," said the old lady, as Nat stowed the document away in his pocket.
"He told me to say that he is going to put it through just as soon as he can," answered Nat. "I don't know anything more about it than that."
"Are you one of his clerks?"
"Yes, ma'am—his private clerk."
"You are rather young for such a position."
"I suppose I am, but Mr. Garwell seems to like me, and I am doing what I can to please him."
"Mr. Garwell is a good man," said the old lady, and there the interview came to an end, and Nat left the room. He was just going to leave the house when the dark-eyed man stepped into the lower hallway, and caught him by the arm.
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