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   Chapter 30 AN UNEXPECTED PROPOSAL.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7638

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


Three months later, when Andy entered the office one morning, he found

Mr. Crawford in a thoughtful mood.

"I wish you were older, Andy," he began, abruptly.

"Why, sir?"

"Because I have a commission I could then intrust to you."

"Then I am too young for it now?"

"I am afraid so. And yet-but I will tell you what it is, and see if you consider yourself equal to it. How old are you now?"

"Seventeen, sir."

"I will explain myself. I am intimately acquainted with the men who are engineering the Northern Pacific Railroad, and I have reliable advices that work will at once be resumed on it, and probably the road will be completed in less than a year."

"I suppose this will raise the price of our land in Tacoma?"

"Precisely. Still, I think it will not be advisable to sell for some time to come. My object is rather to buy more land."

"I should think it would be a good idea."

"The time to buy is now, before the public learn of the probable early completion of the railroad. If I could spare the time from my business I would go out there at once."

"I should think it would pay, Mr. Crawford."

"Doubtless it would, but I cannot arrange to leave now. I expect to have some large transactions in real estate during the next two or three months."

"I see the difficulty, sir."

"I will come to the point. Do you think you could go to Tacoma, look carefully over the ground, and secure desirable lots for me?"

"I think I could, sir, under instructions from you."

"That is what I had in view when I said I wished you were older."

"You could, at any rate, rely upon my faithfully carrying out your instructions."

"I am sure of that, and I also have considerable confidence in your good judgment. At any rate, I will take the risk. What day is to-day?"

"Thursday."

"Make preparations to start on Monday. Can you do so?"

"Yes, sir."

Andy felt a thrill of delight at the prospect held out to him. He had always felt a strong desire to see the great West, but had realized that he should probably have to wait a good many years before his wish was gratified. It had been a dream, but now his dream bade fair to become actuality.

"I will prepare a general letter of instructions and make such suggestions as may occur to me," continued Mr. Crawford. "I will excuse you from office work for the balance of the week, in order that you may make the necessary preparations."

As the Northern Pacific road was not completed, it was decided that Andy should go to San Francisco by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific roads, and take steamer thence to Puget Sound.

"You can stay in San Francisco three days," said Mr. Crawford, considerately. "It will give you a chance to rest and see the city."

On Monday Andy started on his long journey. He wrote a brief letter to his mother, as follows:

"DEAR MOTHER: I am going West on some business for Mr. Crawford. I will write you on the way. You are at liberty to tell this to any one in Arden, but I don't care to have the extent of my journey known. You may think I am young for such a trip, but I have no fears. The business is important, but it is simple, and I hope to carry it through successfully.

In haste, your loving son,

ANDY."

However, Mrs. Grant was not the first one to hear of Andy's trip. It so happened that at the station Andy met Conrad Carter, who had just come into the city for a day.

"How do you happen to be here?" asked Conrad, in surprise.

"I am leaving the city."

"I suppose you are discharged and going home," remarked Conrad, loftily.

"No; I am going on some business for my employer."

"How far do you go?"

"My first stop will be Chicago."

Conrad was amazed.

"Is this straight?" he asked.

"Yes."

"You are going on business for the firm?"

"Yes."

"Mr. Crawford must be a fool."

"Why?"

"To send an ignorant country boy to Chicago."

Andy smiled.

"Mr. Crawford has succeeded very well in business, and I don't think he is a fool."

"He must be infatuated with you."

"If he is, that is lucky for me."

"How long do you expect to be away?"

"I can't say; I can't tell how long it will take me to transact my business."

"I wish pa would let me go to Chicago," said Conrad, enviously. "You are a poor boy, and yet you travel more than I."

"Your time will come, Conrad."

"Has your employer given you much money to travel with?"

"I am to draw on him for what I want."

"Say, won't you write me a letter from Chicago? I wish I had known you were going; I would have asked pa to let me go with you."

Andy was amused at Conrad's change of front. He knew very well that Conrad was no more his friend than before, but that his notions were strictly selfish. However, he promised to write to him if he could get time, and made the promise in good faith.

"I wish Valentine were going with me," he thought; "but I should not enjoy Conrad's company."

Andy's journey to Chicago was uneventful. About two hours before the train arrived a tall man left his seat on the opposite side of the car and seated himself beside Andy.

"Good-morning," he began. "I suppose, like me, you propose to stop in

Chicago?"

"For about twenty-four hours," answered Andy.

"And then you go on further?"

"Yes, sir."

"How far?"

"I cannot tell you definitely," answered Andy, who thought it wise to be on his guard.

"Could you oblige me with small bills for a ten? I am owing a dollar to the porter."

Andy took out a large-sized wallet from an inner pocket and opened it.

It contained about fifty dollars in bills of different denominations.

"I am afraid I cannot accommodate you," he said, "unless two five-dollar bills will answer your purpose."

"I am afraid it won't help me."

"I am sorry," said Andy, politely.

He did not observe the covetous glance of the stranger as he noted the large wallet and its contents. It occurred to him afterward that his companion had not produced the bill he wished changed.

"Oh, well," said the stranger, carelessly, "it doesn't matter. I can get the bill changed at the depot. Are you traveling on business?" he inquired.

"Yes, sir."

"So am I. I represent the firm of Arnold & Constable, in New York.

Doubtless you have heard of them."

"Oh, yes. They are well known."

"I have been in their employ for five years. Before that I worked for

Claflin."

"Indeed!"

"You do not mention the name of your firm."

"No, I am traveling on private business for the head of the firm."

"Ah, yes. I don't wish to be inquisitive. You do right to keep the business to yourself."

"You see, it is not my business."

"Just so! You are young for a business agent."

"That is true, but I am growing older every day."

"Exactly so! Good joke!"

Andy's companion laughed quite heartily, rather to the surprise of his young acquaintance.

"I am very glad to have met you. You see, I am very social, and can't stand being alone. By the way, where do you stop in Chicago?"

"At the Sherman House."

"Good hotel! I have stopped there often. Still, there is nothing as homelike as a private house. I have a friend living in the city who keeps a first-class boarding house and only charges transient guests a dollar and a quarter a day. I wish you could be induced to go there with me. At the hotel you will have to pay three or four dollars."

Now, Andy was naturally economical, and thought it would be praiseworthy to save money for Mr. Crawford. He inquired the location of the boarding house, and imprudently decided to act on his companion's proposal.

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