“Do you want to go to California?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” said Joe. “I am very anxious to go.”
“Do I understand you to offer a hundred dollars for my ticket?”
“Yes, sir; but I can’t pay you now.”
“When do you expect to be able to pay me, then?”
“Not till I’ve earned the money in California.”
“Have you thought before of going?”
“Yes, sir. Until an hour ago I thought that it was all arranged that I should go. I came down here and found that the ticket I had bought was a bogus one, and that I had been swindled out of my money.”
“That was a mean trick,” said Dick Scudder indignantly. “Do you know the man that cheated you?”
“Yes; he is on board the steamer.”
“How much money have you got left?”
“Only a dollar? And you are not afraid to land in California with this sum?”
“No, sir. I shall go to work at once.”
“Charlie,” said Dick, turning to his friend, “I will do as you say. Are you willing to take this boy into your stateroom in my place?”
“Yes,” said Charles Folsom promptly. “He looks like a good boy. I accept him as my roommate.”
“All right,” said the other. “My boy, what is your name?”
“Well, Joe, here is my ticket. If you are ever able to pay a hundred dollars for this ticket, you may pay it to my friend, Charles Folsom. Now, I advise you both to be getting aboard, as it is nearly time for the steamer to sail. I won’t go on with you, Charlie, as I must go back to my father’s bedside.”
“Good-by, sir. God bless you!” said Joe gratefully. “Good-by, Joe, and good luck!”
As they went over the plank, the officer, recognizing Joe, said roughly:
“Stand back, boy! Didn’t I tell you you couldn’t go aboard without a ticket?”
“Here is my ticket,” said Joe.
“A first-class ticket!” exclaimed the officer, in amazement. “Where did you get it?”
“I bought it,” answered Joe.
“I shall go to California, after all!” thought our hero exultingly.
THE FIRST DAY ON BOARD
“We will look up our stateroom first, Joe,” said his new friend. “It ought to be a good one.”
The stateroom proved to be No. 16, very well located and spacious for a stateroom. But to Joe it seemed very small for two persons. He was an inexperienced traveler and did not understand that life on board ship is widely different from life on shore. His companion had been to Europe and was used to steamer life.
“I think, Joe,” said he, “that I shall put you in the top berth. The lower berth is considered more desirable, but I claim it on the score of age and infirmity.”
“You don’t look very old, or infirm,” said Joe.