“I’ll be standin’ here, if you ain’t gone too long.”
“What’s your name?”
“I am Ben Stanton. Thank you for your advice.”
“You’re a good feller if you do come from the country. Just look out for them fellers. Don’t let ’em hook you in.”
“All right, Tom.”
Ben moved on, watching the numbers as he walked slowly along, till he came to the one mentioned in the advertisement. There was a hallway and a staircase, with a directory of persons occupying offices on the floors above. From this Ben ascertained that Fitch & Ferguson occupied Room 17, on the fourth floor.
“I wonder what business they are in,” thought our hero as he mounted the stairs. “They must have considerable or they wouldn’t need so many boys-that is, if they are on the square.”
Presently he stood in front of a door bearing the number 17.
He knocked for admittance.
Mr. Pitch, the senior partner.
“Come in,” said a loud voice.
Ben opened the door and entered.
He found himself in a square room, almost bare of furniture. In an office chair at a table sat a dark-complexioned man of near forty. He appeared to be reading the morning paper.
“Is this the office of Fitch & Ferguson?” inquired Ben.
A glance at Ben’s carpetbag indicated that he had come in answer to the advertisement, and he was received very graciously.
“Come in,” said the man in the chair, smiling affably. “This is the office of Fitch & Ferguson. I am Mr. Fitch.”
“My name is Stanton-Ben Stanton,” said our hero. “I wrote you from Hampton about your advertisement.”
“For a boy at ten dollars a week?” suggested the dark man, with a pleasant smile.
“We agreed to take you, did we not?” asked Mr. Fitch.
“Have you had any business experience?” inquired Pitch.
“I am sorry for that,” said Mr. Fitch gravely. “Experience is important. I am not sure whether we ought to pay you ten dollars a week.”
Ben did not reply. He was not so much concerned about the amount of his compensation as about the reliable character of Fitch & Ferguson.
“Still,” mused Mr. Fitch, “you look like a boy who would learn fast. What do you think about it yourself?”
“I think I could,” answered Ben. “I should try to serve you faithfully.”
“That is well. We want to be served faithfully,” said Mr. Fitch.
“What kind of a business is it?” Ben ventured to ask, surveying the empty office with a puzzled look, which Mr. Fitch observed and interpreted aright.
“We do a commission business,” he said. “Of course, we keep no stock of goods here. Business is not done in the city, my young friend, as it is in the country.”