“I hope I shan’t have to go back again to Oakville. I won’t go unless I am obliged to,” he determined.
He washed his hands and face, and went down-stairs. He found that dinner was just ready. It was not a luxurious meal, but, compared with the major’s rather frugal table, there was great variety and luxury. Joe did justice to it.
“Folks live better in the city than they do in the country,” he thought; “but, then, they have to pay for it. A dollar a day! Why, that would make three hundred and sixty-five dollars a year!”
This to Joe seemed a very extravagant sum to spend on one person’s board and lodging.
“Now,” thought Joe, after dinner was over, “the first thing for me to find out is when the California steamer starts and what is the lowest price I can go for.”
In the barroom Joe found a file of two of the New York daily papers, and began to search for the advertisement of the California steamers.
At last he found it.
The steamer was to start in three days. Apply for passage and any information at the company’s offices.
“I’ll go right down there, and find out whether I’ve got money enough to take me,” Joe decided.
JOE BUYS A TICKET
The office of the steamer was on the wharf from which it was to start. Already a considerable amount of freight was lying on the wharf ready to be loaded. Joe made his way to the office.
“Well, boy, what’s your business?” inquired a stout man with a red face, who seemed to be in charge.
“Is this the office of the California steamer, sir?”
“What is the lowest price for passage?”
“A hundred dollars for the steerage.”
When Joe heard this his heart sank within him. It seemed to be the death-blow to his hopes. He had but fifty dollars, or thereabouts, and there was no chance whatever of getting the extra fifty.
“Couldn’t I pay you fifty dollars now and the rest as soon as I can earn it in California?” he pleaded.
“We don’t do business in that way.”
“I’d be sure to pay it, sir, if I lived,” said Joe. “Perhaps you think I am not honest.”
“I don’t know whether you are or not,” said the agent cavalierly. “We never do business in that way.”
Joe left the office not a little disheartened.
“I wish it had been a hundred dollars Aunt Susan left me,” he said to himself.
Joe’s spirits were elastic, however. He remembered that Seth had never given him reason to suppose that the money he had would pay his passage by steamer. He had mentioned working his passage in a sailing-vessel round the Horn. Joe did not like that idea so well, as the voyage would probably last four months, instead of twenty-five days, and so delay his arrival.