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Chapter 24

A DISCOURAGING DAY


The next day was indeed a trying one and one of many experiences for Frank.

The first lady did not buy any tea, to be sure, but seemed sorry that she was already supplied, and questioned Frank as to what success he was meeting with.

When twelve o'clock came, Frank had not sold a single pound. Even if he earned nothing however, he had an appetite and must buy lunch.

He entered a small oyster saloon, and went up to the proprietor.

"Can I sell you some tea?" he asked.

"No, I guess not. I get my tea in Harlem."

"Take a couple of pounds," said Frank, "and I will take part of the pay in lunch."

"That is business," said the other. "Let me look at your tea."

Frank showed him his samples.

"Who employs you?'

"The Great Pekin Tea Company."

"They have a good name. Yes, I will try a couple of pounds at fifty cents."

This, of course, came to a dollar, and Frank's profit on the sale amounted to twenty cents. This was precisely the cost of the lunch which he ordered, so that he felt well satisfied with the arrangement.

He left the saloon in better spirits, and resumed his travels from house to house.

I am sorry to say, however, that though he certainly exerted himself to the utmost in the interests of the Great Pekin Tea Company and his own, he did not sell another pound of tea that day.

About three o'clock he got on board a Third Avenue horse car, bound downtown and sat quietly down in a corner.

"Harlem doesn't seem to be a very promising field for an agent," he said to himself. "Perhaps it isn't fair to judge it by the first day. Still, I don't think I shall have courage to come here to-morrow. I would rather go to Jersey City or Brooklyn."

Frank got off the cars at the Bible House and walked to his boarding house, where a disagreeable surprise was in store for him.

The night brought perplexity to Frank, but not discouragement. He was naturally hopeful, and, in a large city like New York, he felt that there are always chances of obtaining employment, provided he could maintain his position, as he would have been able to do if he had not lost the thirty-five dollars which his fellow boarder had stolen. Now, however, circumstances were materially changed.

One thing was tolerably clear to Frank, and this was, that he must give up his agency. He had tried it, and been unsuccessful. That is, he had failed to earn money enough to support himself, and this was necessary.

As to what he should take up next, Frank was quite in the dark. As a boy in a counting room he would be paid not more than four dollars a week, if he could gain such a situation, which was by no means certain.

The more he thought about the matter the more perplexed he felt, and it was in an uncomfortable frame of mind that he came down to breakfast the next morning.

Horatio Alger