“I don’t think they will make one in my case,” said Joe. “I told the agent I would agree to pay the other, half as soon as I earned it, but he said he didn’t do business in that way.”
“Of course. You are a stranger to him, don’t you see? That makes all the difference in the world. Now, I happen to be personally acquainted with him. I am sure he would do me a favor. Just give me the fifty dollars, and I’ll warrant I’ll get the ticket for you.”
Joe was not wholly without caution, and the thought of parting with his money to a stranger didn’t strike him favorably. Not that he had any doubts as to his new friend’s integrity, but it didn’t seem businesslike.
“Can’t I go with you to the office?” he suggested.
“I think I can succeed better in the negotiation if I am alone,” said the stranger. “I’ll tell you what—you needn’t hand me the money, provided you agree to take the ticket off my hands at fifty dollars if I secure it.”
“Certainly I will, and be very thankful to you.”
“I always like to help young men along,” said the stranger benevolently. “I’ll see about it to-morrow. Now, where can I meet you?”
“In this room. How will that do?”
“Perfectly. I am sure I can get the ticket for you. Be sure to have the money ready.”
“I’ll be sure,” said Joe cheerfully.
“And hark you, my young friend,” continued the stranger, “don’t say a word to any one of what I am going to do for you, or I might have other applications, which I should be obliged to refuse.”
“Very well, sir. I will remember.”
Punctually at four the next day the stranger entered the room, where Joe was already awaiting him.
“Have you succeeded?” asked Joe eagerly.
The stranger nodded.
“Let us go up to your room and complete our business. For reasons which I have already mentioned, I prefer that the transaction should be secret.”
“All right, sir.”
Joe got his key, and led the way up-stairs.
“I had a little difficulty with the agent,” said the stranger; “but finally he yielded, out of old friendship.” He produced a large card, which read thus:
California steamship company.
Is Entitled to One Steerage Passage
New York to San Francisco
Below this was printed the name of the agent. Joe paid over the money joyfully.
“I am very much obliged to you,” he said gratefully.
“Don’t mention it,” said the stranger, pocketing the fifty dollars. “Good day! Sorry to leave you, but I am to meet a gentleman at five.”
He went down-stairs, and left Joe alone.