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Chapter 19

FRANK SEEKS EMPLOYMENT IN VAIN


It was a bright, pleasant day, and Broadway looked very lively. In spite of his being alone in a strange city, with uncertain prospects, Frank felt in good spirits.

Boys of his age usually like excitement and bustle, and Frank was quick to notice the shifting scenes of the great panorama.

"Here are thousands of people," he reflected, "all of whom make a living in some way. I don't see why I can't succeed as well as they."

Some of the objects he saw amused him.

In front of him walked an elderly man with a large placard strapped to his back, on which was the advertisement of a "Great Clothing Emporium."

"I don't think I should fancy that kind of employment," thought our hero.

As he was looking in at a shop window, a boy about his own age hailed him.

"I say, Johnny, what's the price of turnips?"

"Do you want to buy any?" asked Frank quietly.

"Well, I might. Have you got any with you?"

"I am sorry I can't supply you," said Frank, coolly. "Up our way we keep our cattle on turnips."

"You ain't so green, after all," said the boy, laughing good-naturedly.

"Thank you for the compliment!"

"I suppose I look countrylike," thought Frank, "but it won't last long. I shall get used to city ways."

Close by he saw in a window the sign:

"CASH BOY WANTED."

Frank as not altogether certain about the duties of cash boys nor their rate of compensation, but he made up his mind not to lose sight of any chances, and accordingly stepped into the store.

It proved to be a large dry-goods store.

Near the entrance he met a tall man, with black whiskers.

"Do you want any cash boys?" inquired Frank.

"Are you inquiring for yourself?"

"Yes, sir."

"You are too large. Besides, you would not be satisfied with the wages?"

"How much do you pay, sir?"

"Two dollars a week."

"No; I don't think I should like to work for that," said Frank. "Are those cash boys?" he asked, pointing out some boys of apparently ten to twelve years, old, who were flitting about from desk to counter.

"Yes."

"I see they are much younger than I. Excuse the trouble I have given you!"

"None whatever," said the man, politely.

Frank left the store, and continued his walk down Broadway.

He began to feel a little serious. It was evident that the boys did not receive as large compensation for their services as he had supposed.

The problem promised to be a perplexing one, but Frank was by no means discouraged. In fact, if he had been, he would hardly have deserved to be the hero of my story.

Though Clinton Place is not very far uptown, it is a considerable walk from this point to the Astor House.

There was so much to see, however, that Frank did not become tired, nor was he sensible of the distance. He walked a little beyond the Astor House, and, crossing Broadway, turned down Fulton Street.

On the left side of the street his attention was drawn to a restaurant, and he was led by the prompting of appetite to enter.

The prices he found to be reasonable, and the tables were already pretty well filled with clerks and business men, who were partaking of their midday lunch.

Frank found that a plate of meat, with potato and a small supply of bread and butter, could be obtained for fifteen cents.

He afterward found restaurants where the same could be gotten for ten cents, but generally there was a deficiency in quality or quantity, and there was less neatness in serving the articles.

Seated at the same table with Frank were two young men, neither probably much over twenty. One appeared to be filling a regular clerkship.

"What are you doing now, Jack?" he asked of the other.

"I am in the tea business."

"How is that?"

"You know the Great Pekin Tea Company, of course?"

"Yes."

"Well, until I can get a place, I am selling for them."

"How do you make out?"

"I can't tell you, for I have only just commenced," said his friend.

"How do they pay—salary or commission?"

"They are to pay me a commission—twenty per cent on what I sell."

"That is a good commission."

"Yes; it is good enough, if I can make a fair amount of sales. There is a good deal of uncertainty about it of course. I would much rather have a place like yours."

Frank listened with interest. He wondered whether the Great Pekin Tea Company would employ him. If so, he would have a field for his energy, and every inducement to work hard, since his pay would depend on the amount of his sales. Besides, as an agent, he would occupy a comparatively independent position, and Frank was ambitious enough to enjoy this.

Horatio Alger