Poems & Short Stories: 4,435
Forum Members: 67,986
Forum Posts: 1,216,101
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
"We will look up our stateroom first, Joe," said his new friend. "It ought to be a good one."
The stateroom proved to be No. 16, very well located and spacious for a stateroom. But to Joe it seemed very small for two persons. He was an inexperienced traveler and did not understand that life on board ship is widely different from life on shore. His companion had been to Europe and was used to steamer life.
"I think, Joe," said he, "that I shall put you in the top berth. The lower berth is considered more desirable, but I claim it on the score of age and infirmity."
"You don't look very old, or infirm," said Joe.
"I am twenty-three. And you?"
"I have a stateroom trunk, which will just slip in under my berth. Where is your luggage?"
Joe looked embarrassed.
"I don't know but you will feel ashamed of me," he said; "but the only extra clothes I have are tied up in this handkerchief."
Charles Folsom whistled.
"Well," said he, "you are poorly provided. What have you got inside?"
"A couple of shirts, three collars, two handkerchiefs, and a pair of stockings."
"And you are going a journey of thousands of miles! But never mind," he said kindly. "I am not much larger than you, and, if you need it, I can lend you. Once in California, you will have less trouble than if you were loaded down with clothes. I must get you to tell me your story when there is time."
They came on deck just in time to see the steamer swing out of the dock.
There were some of the passengers with sober faces. They had bidden farewell to friends and relatives whom they might not see for years—perhaps never again. They were going to a new country, where hardships undoubtedly awaited them, and where they must take their chances of health and success. Some, too, feared seasickness, a malady justly dreaded by all who have ever felt its prostrating effects. But Joe only felt joyful exhilaration.
"You look happy, Joe," said young Folsom.
"I feel so," said Joe.
"Are you hoping to make your fortune in California?"
"I am hoping to make a living," said Joe.
"Didn't you make a living here at home?"
"A poor living, with no prospects ahead. I didn't mind hard work and poor clothes, if there had been a prospect of something better by and by."
"Tell me your story. Where were you living?" Charles Folsom listened attentively.
"Major Norton didn't appear disposed to pamper you, or bring you up in luxury, that's a fact. It would have been hard lines if, on account of losing your aunt's legacy, you had been compelled to go back to Oakville."
"I wouldn't have gone," said Joe resolutely.
"What would you have done?"
"Stayed in New York, and got a living somehow, even if I had to black boots in the street."
"I guess you'll do. You've got the right spirit. It takes boys and men like you for pioneers."
Joe was gratified at his companion's approval.
"Now," said Folsom, "I may as well tell you my story. I am the son of a New York merchant who is moderately rich. I entered the counting-room at seventeen, and have remained there ever since, with the exception of four months spent in Europe."
"If you are rich already, why do you go out to California?" asked Joe.
"I am not going to the mines; I am going to prospect a little for the firm. Some day San Francisco will be a large city. I am going to see how soon it will pay for our house to establish a branch there."
"I see," said Joe.
"I shall probably go out to the mines and take a general survey of the country; but, as you see, I do not go out to obtain employment."
"It must be jolly not to have to work," said Joe, "but to have plenty of money to pay your expenses."
"Well, I suppose it is convenient. I believe you haven't a large cash surplus?"
"I have a dollar."
"You've got some pluck to travel so far away from home with such a slender capital, by Jove!"
"I don't know that it's pluck. It's necessity."
"Something of both, perhaps. Don't you feel afraid of what may happen?"
"No," said Joe. "California is a new country, and there must be plenty of work. Now, I am willing to work and I don't believe I shall starve."
"That's the way to feel, Joe. At the worst, you have me to fall back upon. I won't see you suffer."
"It is very lucky for me. I hope I shan't give you any trouble."
"If you do, I'll tell you of it," said Folsom, laughing. "The fact is, I feel rather as if I were your guardian. An odd feeling that, as hitherto I have been looked after by others. Now it is my turn to assume authority."
"You will find me obedient," said Joe, smiling. "Seriously, I am so inexperienced in the way of the world that I shall consider it a great favor if you will give me any hints you may think useful to me."
Folsom became more and more pleased with his young charge. He saw that he was manly, amiable, and of good principles, with only one great fault—poverty—which he was quite willing to overlook.
They selected their seats in the saloon, and were fortunate enough to be assigned to the captain's table. Old travelers know that those who sit at this table are likely to fare better than those who are farther removed.
While Folsom was walking the deck with an old friend, whom he had found among the passengers, Joe went on an exploring expedition.
He made his way to that portion of the deck appropriated to the steerage passengers. Among them his eye fell on the man who swindled him.
"You here!" exclaimed the fellow in amazement.
"Yes," said Joe, "I am here."
"I thought you said your ticket wasn't good?"
"It wasn't, as you very well know."
"I don't know anything about it. How did you smuggle yourself aboard?"
"I didn't smuggle myself aboard at all. I came on like the rest of the passengers."
"Why haven't I seen you before?"
"I am not a steerage passenger. I am traveling first-class."
"You don't mean it!" ejaculated the fellow, thoroughly astonished. "You told me you hadn't any more money."
"So I did, and that shows that you were the man that sold me the bogus ticket."
"Nothing of the kind," said the other, but he seemed taken aback by Joe's charge. "Well, all I can say is, that you know how to get round. When a man or boy can travel first-class without a cent of money, he'll do."
"I wouldn't have come at all if I had had to swindle a poor boy out of his money," said Joe.
Joe walked off without receiving an answer. He took pains to ascertain the name of the man who had defrauded him. He was entered on the passenger-list as Henry Hogan.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.