“Would that have helped you or your family?”
“No, boy. I was a fool to think of it. I’ll accept your offer, and to-morrow I’ll see what I can do. You’re the best friend I’ve met since I left home.”
THE UNLUCKY MINER
Joe brought out some cold meat and bread and butter, and set it before his guest.
“The fire’s gone out,” he said, “or I would give you some tea. Here is a glass of milk, if you like it.”
“Thank you, boy,” said his visitor. “Milk is good enough for anybody. One thing I can say, I’ve steered clear of liquor. A brother of mine was intemperate and that was a warning to me. I took credit to myself for being a steady-going man, compared with many of my acquaintances out at the mines. But it don’t do to boast. I’ve done worse, perhaps. I’ve gambled away the provision I had made for my poor family.”
“Don’t take it too hard,” said Joe, in a tone of sympathy. “You know how it is out here. Down to-day and up to-morrow.”
“It’ll take me a long time to get up to where I was,” said the other; “but it’s my fault, and I must make the best of it.”
Joe observed, with satisfaction, that his visitor was doing ample justice to the supper spread before him. With a full stomach, he would be likely to take more cheerful views of life and the future. In this thought Joe proved to be correct.
“I didn’t think I could eat anything,” said the miner, laying down his knife and fork, twenty minutes later, “but I have made a hearty supper, thanks to your kindness. Things look a little brighter to me now. I’ve had a hard pullback, but all is not lost. I’ve got to stay here a year or two longer, instead of going back by the next steamer; but I must make up my mind to that. What is your name, boy?”
“You’ve been kind to me, and I won’t forget it. It doesn’t seem likely I can return the favor, but I’ll do it if ever I can. Good night to you.”
“Where are you going?” asked Joe, surprised, as the miner walked to the door.
“Out into the street.”
“But where do you mean to pass the night?”
“Where a man without money must—in the street.”
“But you mustn’t do that.”
“I shan’t mind it. I’ve slept out at the mines many a night.”
“But won’t you find it more comfortable here?”
“Yes; but I don’t want to intrude. You’ve given me a good supper and that is all I can expect.”
“He doesn’t seem much like Hogan,” thought Joe.
“You are welcome to lodge here with me,” he said. “It will cost you nothing and will be more comfortable for you.”
“You don’t know me, Joe,” said the miner. “How do you know but I may get up in the night and rob you?”
“You could, but I don’t think you will,” said Joe. “I am not at all afraid of it. You look like an honest man.”