“You here?” he exclaimed, in surprise.
“So it seems,” said Joe.
“Is it a good place?”
“I like it.”
“Who’s your boss?”
“You don’t mean to say this is your own place?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, I’ll be blowed!” ejaculated Hogan, staring stupidly at Joe.
MR. HOGAN’S PROPOSAL
Joe enjoyed Hogan’s amazement. He felt rather proud of his rapid progress. It was not four months since, a poor, country boy, he had come up to New York, and fallen a prey to a designing sharper. Now, on the other side of the continent, he was master of a business and owner of real estate.
The day has passed for such rapid progress. California is no longer a new country, and the conditions of living closely approximate those in the East. I am careful to say this because I don’t wish to mislead my young readers. Success is always attainable by pluck and persistency, but the degree is dependent on circumstances.
“How have you made out?” asked Joe of his visitor.
“I’ve had hard luck,” grumbled Hogan, “I went to the mines, but I wasn’t lucky.”
“Was that the case with other miners?” asked Joe, who had a shrewd suspicion that Hogan’s ill luck was largely the result of his laziness and want of application.
“No,” said Hogan. “Other men around me were lucky, but I wasn’t.”
“Perhaps your claim was a poor one.”
“It was, as long as I had anything to do with it,” said Hogan. “I sold it out for a trifle and the next day the other man found a nugget. Wasn’t that cursed hard?” he grumbled.
“You ought to have kept on. Then you would have found the nugget.”
“No, I shouldn’t. I am too unlucky. If I had held on, it wouldn’t have been there. You’ve got on well. You’re lucky.”
“Yes; I have no reason to complain. But I wasn’t lucky all the time. I was robbed of every cent of money, when I met a good friend, who bought this business for me.”
“Does it pay?” asked the other eagerly.
“Yes, it pays,” said Joe cautiously.
“How much do you make, say, in a week?” asked Hogan, leaning his elbows on the counter and looking up in Joe’s face.
“Really, Mr. Hogan,” said Joe, “I don’t feel called upon to tell my business to others.”
“I thought maybe you’d tell an old friend,” said Hogan.
Joe could not help laughing at the man’s matchless impudence.
“I don’t think you have treated me exactly like a friend, Mr. Hogan,” he said. “You certainly did all you could to prevent my coming to California.”
“There’s some mistake about that,” said Hogan.
“You’re under a misapprehension; but I won’t go into that matter now. Will you trust me for my supper?”
“Yes,” said Joe promptly. “Sit down at that table.”