“I hope you have had good luck,” said Folsom.
“Pretty fair,” said Carter, in a tone of satisfaction. “My pile has reached five thousand dollars.”
“And how long have you been at work?”
“A year. I was a bookkeeper in New York on a salary of fifteen hundred dollars a year. I used to spend all my income—the more fool I—till the last six months, when I laid by enough to bring me out here.”
“Then you have really bettered yourself?”
“I should say so. I could only save up five hundred dollars a year at the best in New York. Here I have crowded ten years into one.”
“In spite of your large outlay for clothes?”
“I see you will have your joke. Now, what brings you out here? Are you going to the mines?”
“Presently, but not to dig. I came to survey the country.”
“Let me do what I can for you.”
“I will. First, what hotel shall I go to?”
“There is the Leidesdorff House, on California Street. I’ll lead you there.”
“Thank you. Will you come, Joe?”
“Yes, I will go to find out where it is.”
The three bent their steps to the hotel referred to. It was a shanty compared with the magnificent hotels which now open their portals to strangers, but the charge was ten dollars a day and the fare was of the plainest.
“I guess I won’t stop here,” said Joe, “My money wouldn’t keep me here more than an hour or two.”
“At any rate, Joe, you must dine with me,” said Folsom. “Then you may start out for yourself.”
“You must dine with me, both of you,” said Carter.
Folsom saw that he was in earnest, and accepted.
The dinner was plain but abundant, and all three did justice to it. Joe did not know till afterward that the dinner cost five dollars apiece.
After dinner the two friends sat down to talk over old times and mutual friends, but Joe felt that there was no time for him to lose. He had his fortune to make. Still more important, he had his living to make, and in a place where dollars were held as cheap as dimes in New York or Boston.
So, emerging into the street, with his small bundle under his arm, he bent his steps as chance directed.
JOE FINDS A JOB
Joe knew nothing about the streets or their names. Chance brought him to Clay Street, between what is now Montgomery and Kearny Streets. Outside of a low wooden building, which appeared to be a restaurant, was a load of wood.
“I wonder if I couldn’t get the chance to saw and split that wood?” thought Joe.
It would not do to be bashful. So he went in.
A stout man in an apron was waiting on the guests. Joe concluded that this must be the proprietor.
“Sit down, boy,” said he, “if you want some dinner.”