“No, I suppose not,” returned our hero.
“Without entering into details as to the character of our business,” said Mr. Fitch, “I may say that you would be chiefly employed in making collections. It is because considerable sums of money would pass through your hands that we require a deposit in order to protect ourselves. By the way, have you the fifty dollars with you?”
Ben admitted that he had.
Mr. Fitch’s face brightened up, for he had not felt quite sure of that.
“I am glad to hear of it,” he said. “It shows that you mean business. You may hand it to me, and I will give you a receipt for it.”
“I would like to ask you one or two questions first,” said Ben, making no movement toward his pocket.
Mr. Fitch frowned.
“Really, I fail to catch your meaning,” he said, in a changed tone. “Do you wish to enter my employ, or do you not?”
“I should like to earn ten dollars a week.”
“Precisely. Then all you have to do is to hand me the fifty dollars and go to work.”
“You might keep me only a week,” suggested Ben.
“We shall keep you if you suit us, and you can if you try. If you are discharged, we give you back your money, and pay you for the time you work for us. That is fair, isn’t it?”
“Then we may as well settle the matter at once,” and he waited for Ben to draw forth his money. Our hero would, undoubtedly, have done so, if he had not been cautioned by Tom Cooper. As it was, he could not help feeling suspicious.
“I should like to propose something to you, sir,” he said.
“What is it?” asked Fitch impatiently.
“Suppose you keep five dollars a week out of my wages for ten weeks-that’ll make fifty dollars-and only pay it to me when I leave you.”
“Young man,” said Mr. Fitch sternly, “this is trifling, and my time is too valuable for such discussion. Have you, or have you not, brought fifty dollars with you?”
“Then you can secure the place-a place such as few New York boys are fortunate enough to fill. You must decide for yourself.”
He threw himself back in his chair and looked at Ben.
“He seems very anxious about the money,” thought our hero, “and I don’t see any signs of any business. I’d better back out.”
“There are plenty of boys who want the place,” continued Fitch, trying to look indifferent.
“I guess you can give it to one of them,” said Ben coolly.
Mr. Fitch could not conceal his disappointment. The fifty dollars had a great attraction for him. He saw that Ben was in earnest, for he was already opening the door to go out. He must make an effort to detain him.
“Wait a moment, my young friend. I like your appearance, and we may be disposed to take you on a little easier terms. Fifty dollars is probably a large sum to you.”