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Sam helped the old man up two flights of stairs.
"Shall we go any farther?" he asked.
"No; that's my office," said his companion, pointing to a door, over which was the number 10. From his pocket he drew a key, and opened the door. Sam entered with him. The room was small. One corner was partitioned off for an inner office. Inside was a chair, something like a barber's chair, and a table covered with instruments. Sam's curiosity was aroused. He wondered what sort of business was carried on here. He also wondered whether he would get anything for his trouble.
"If you don't want me any longer I'll go," he said, by way of a delicate hint.
"Stop a minute," said the old man, who had limped to a sofa in the outer office, and sat down.
"I guess I'll get something," thought Sam, cheerfully complying with the request.
"What do you do for a living?" asked the old man.
"Sometimes I black boots, sometimes I sell papers,—anything that'll pay."
"What are you doing now?"
"Nothing. Business aint good."
"Would you like something to do?"
Sam gave a glance into the office, and answered dubiously, "Yes." He was not at all clear about the nature of the employment likely to be offered.
"Then I may be able to give you a job. Do you know my business?"
"I'm a corn-doctor—you've heard of Dr. Felix Graham, the celebrated corn-doctor, haven't you?" said the old man, complacently.
"Yes," said Sam, thinking that this was the answer expected.
"I am Dr. Graham," said the old man, proudly.
"Are you?" said Sam in some curiosity.
"Yes. Now I'll tell you what I want you to do. Go and bring me that pile of circulars."
He pointed to a pile of papers on the floor in the corner.
Sam brought them as directed.
"Can you read?" asked the doctor.
"Yes, sir, a little."
"Read that circular."
Sam read as follows:
"DR. FELIX GRAHAM,
Corns and bunions cured without pain.
BROADWAY, ROOM 10."
Sam bungled over the word chiropodist, but was put right by the doctor.
"I want a boy to stand at the door, and distribute these circulars," said Dr. Graham. "Can you do it?"
"Of course I can," said Sam. "What pay will I get?"
"Ten cents a hundred;" said the doctor, "but you mustn't do as my last boy did."
"How did he do?" asked Sam.
"He was so anxious to get rid of them that he gave half a dozen away at a time. I caught him in it. He wanted to earn money too fast."
"He was smart," said Sam, with a grin.
"I don't like that kind of smartness," said the doctor, sharply. "I want you to serve me faithfully."
"So I will," said Sam.
"You needn't give to everybody. There isn't much use in giving to children."
"But if you see any one walking as if he had corns, be sure to hand him one."
"Now count off a hundred of the circulars, and go downstairs."
"All right, sir."
This was the first regular employment Sam had obtained, and he felt rather important. He resolved to acquit himself to the satisfaction of the doctor. In his zeal he even determined to improve upon his instructions.
He had no sooner taken his stand than he saw a gentleman and lady approaching. They were young, and, being engaged, were indulging in conversation more interesting to themselves than any one else. The gentleman had on a pair of tight boots, and from his style of walking Sam concluded that he was a suitable customer.
"Here, sir," said he, pressing a circular into the young man's gloved hand.
"What's that?" asked the young man. Then, glancing at it, he showed it with a laugh to the young lady.
"Look here, boy," he said turning to Sam, "what made you give me this?"
"You walked as if you'd got corns," said Sam, honestly. "Walk right up, and Dr. Graham will cure 'em in a jiffy."
"Perhaps you'll tell me what is to become of this young lady while I go up, Johnny?"
"Maybe she's got corns too," said Sam. "She can go up too."
Both the lady and gentleman laughed convulsively, considerably to Sam's surprise, for he was not aware that he had said anything unusual or funny.
"Shall we go up, Eliza?" asked the young man.
The only answer was a laugh, and they passed on.
The next one who attracted Sam's attention was an elderly maiden lady.
"Have you got corns, ma'am?" asked Sam, eagerly.
Now it so happened that the lady was a little deaf, and did not understand Sam's question. Unfortunately for herself, she stopped short, and inquired, "What did you say?"
"I guess she's hard of hearing," Sam concluded, and raising his voice loud enough to be heard across the street, he repeated his question: "HAVE YOU GOT CORNS, MA'AM?"
At the same time he thrust a circular into the hand of the astonished and mortified lady.
Two school-girls, just behind, heard the question, and laughed heartily. The offended lady dropped the paper as if it were contamination, and sailed by, her sallow face red with anger.
"That's funny," thought Sam. "I don't know what's got into all the people. Seems to me they're ashamed of havin' corns."
The next half-dozen took circulars, mechanically glanced at them, and dropped them indifferently.
"Guess they aint got corns," thought the observing Sam.
By and by a countryman came along, and into his hand Sam put the circular.
"What's this?" he asked.
"It's corns. Just go upstairs, and the doctor'll cure 'em less'n no time."
"Wal, I have got two," said the countryman. "They hurt like time too.
What does this doctor charge?"
Sam did not know, but he was not the boy to allow his ignorance to appear.
"Ten cents apiece," he answered.
"That's cheap enough, anyway," said he. "I've got a good mind to go up. Where is it?"
"Come along. I'll show you," said Sam, promptly.
"I guess I may as well. Are you sure he can cure 'em?"
"I ought to know," said Sam. "I had one about as big as a marble on my big toe. The doctor, he cured it in a minute."
"You don't say! He must be pooty good."
"You bet! He's the great Dr. Graham. Everybody's heard of him."
By such convincing assurances the man's faith was increased. He followed Sam into the doctor's office.
"Here," said Sam, "I've brought you a customer, Dr. Graham. I told him you could cure his corns in a jiffy."
The doctor smiled approvingly.
"You are right there. My friend, sit down in this chair."
"You won't hurt, will you, doctor?" asked the customer, glancing with a little alarm at the table with its instruments.
"Oh, no, you'll scarcely feel it."
Sam returned to his post, and began to distribute handbills once more.
About quarter of an hour later he was assailed by an angry voice.
Looking up, he saw the customer he had sent upstairs.
"Look here, boy," he said, angrily; "you told me a lie."
"How did I?" asked Sam.
"You told me the doctor only charged ten cents for each corn.
Jerusalem! he made me fork out a dollar."
Sam was rather surprised himself at the price.
"I guess they was tough ones, mister," he said. "He cured 'em, didn't he?"
"Then it's worth the money. You don't want 'em back, do you?"
"No," admitted the other; "but it's a thunderin' sight to pay;" and he went off grumbling.
"Don't the doctor make money, though?" thought Sam. "He'd orter give me a commission on them two dollars."
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