“You must be careful not to run into danger. There are many perils in the city for the in experienced.”
“Thank you, sir. I shall remember your advice.”
The next day, about two hours before the time of sailing, Joe went down to the wharf.
As he was going on board a man stopped him.
“Have you got a ticket?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” said Joe, “a steerage ticket. There it is.”
“Where did you get this?” asked the man.
Joe told him.
“How much did you pay for it?”
“Then you have lost your money, for it is a bogus ticket. You can’t travel on it.”
Joe stared at the other in blank dismay. The earth seemed to be sinking under him. He realized that he had been outrageously swindled, and that he was farther from going to California than ever.
JOE’S LUCK CHANGES
The intelligence that his ticket was valueless came to Joe like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. The minute before he was in high spirits—his prospects seemed excellent and his path bright.
“What shall I do?” he ejaculated.
“I can’t tell you,” said the officer. “One thing is clear—you can’t go to California on that ticket.”
Poor Joe! For the moment hope was dead within his breast. He had but one dollar left and that was only half the amount necessary to carry him back to the village where we found him at the commencement of our story. Even if he were able to go back, he felt he would be ashamed to report the loss of his money. The fact that he had allowed himself to be swindled mortified him not a little. He would never hear the last of it if he returned to Oakville.
“No; I wouldn’t go back if I could,” he decided.
“Wouldn’t I like to get hold of the man that sold me the ticket!”
He had hardly given mental expression to this wish when it was gratified. The very man passed him and was about to cross the gangplank into the steamer. Joe’s eyes flashed, and he sprang forward and seized the man by the arm.
The swindler’s countenance changed when he recognized Joe, but he quickly decided upon his course.
“What do you want, Johnny?” he asked composedly.
“What do I want? I want my fifty dollars back.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You sold me a bogus ticket for fifty dollars,” said Joe stoutly. “Here it is. Take it back and give me my money.”
“The boy must be crazy,” said the swindler.
“Did you sell him that ticket?” inquired the officer.
“Never saw him before in my life.”
“Ain’t you mistaken, boy?” asked the officer.
“No, sir. This is the very man.”
“Have you any business here?” asked the officer.