The Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success. Chapter 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
PHIL ENTERS UPON HIS DUTIES.
PHIL presented himself in good season the next morning at the store in Franklin Street. As he came up in one direction the youth whom he had seen in the store the previous day came up in the opposite direction. The latter was evidently surprised.
”Halloo, Johnny!“ said he. ”What’s brought you here again?“
”Business,“ answered Phil.
”Going to buy out the firm?“ inquired the youth jocosely.
”Some other day, then,“ said the young man, laughing as if he had said a very witty thing.
As Phil didn’t know that this form of expression, slightly varied, had become a popular phrase of the day, he did not laugh.
”Do you belong to the church?“ asked the youth, stopping short in his own mirth.
”What makes you ask?“
”Because you don’t laugh.“
”I would if I saw anything to laugh at.“
”Come, that’s hard on me. Honor bright, have you come to do any business with us?“
It is rather amusing to see how soon the cheapest clerk talks of ”us,“ quietly identifying himself with the firm that employs him. Not that I object to it. Often it implies a personal interest in the success and prosperity of the firm, which makes a clerk more valuable. This was not, however, the case with G. Washington Wilbur, the young man who was now conversing with Phil, as will presently appear.
”I am going to work here,“ answered Phil simply.
”Going to work here!“ repeated Mr. Wilbur in surprise. ”Has old Pitkin engaged you?“
”Mr. Pitkin engaged me yesterday,“ Phil replied.
”I didn’t know he wanted a boy. What are you to do?“
”Go to the post-office, bank, and so on.“
”You’re to be errand boy, then?“
”That’s the way I started,“ said Mr. Wilbur patronizingly.
”What are you now?“
”A salesman. I wouldn’t like to be back in my old position. What wages are you going to get?“
”Five dollars a week!“ ejaculated Mr. G. Washington Wilbur, in amazement. ”Come, you’re chaffing.“
”Why should I do that? Is that anything remarkable?“
”I should say it was,“ answered Mr. Wilbur slowly.
”Didn’t you get as much when you were errand boy?“
”I only got two dollars and a half. Did Pitkin tell you he would pay you five dollars a week.“
”No; Mr Carter told me so.“
”The old gentleman–Mr. Pitkin’s uncle?“
”Yes. It was at his request that Mr. Pitkin took me on.“
Mr. Wilbur looked grave.
”It’s a shame!“ he commenced.
”What is a shame; that I should get five dollars a week?“
”No, but that I should only get a dollar a week more than an errand boy. I’m worth every cent of ten dollars a week, but the old man only gives me six. It hardly keeps me in gloves and cigars.“
”Won’t he give you any more?“
”No; only last month I asked him for a raise, and he told me if I wasn’t satisfied I might go elsewhere.“
”No, but I mean to soon. I will show old Pitkin that he can’t keep a man of my experience for such a paltry salary. I dare say that Denning or Claflin would be glad to have me, and pay me what I am worth.“
Phil did not want to laugh, but when Mr. Wilbur, who looked scarcely older than himself, and was in appearance but a callow youth, referred to himself as a man of experience he found it hard to resist.
”Hadn’t we better be going up stairs?“ asked Phil.
”All right. Follow me,“ said Mr. Wilbur, ”and I’ll take you to the superintendent of the room.“
”I am to report to Mr. Pitkin himself, I believe.“
”He won’t be here yet awhile,“ said Wilbur.
But just then up came Mr. Wilbur himself, fully half an hour earlier than usual.
Phil touched his hat politely, and said:
”Good-morning!“ returned his employer, regarding him sharply. ”Are you the boy I hired yesterday?“
”Come up-stairs, then.“
Phil followed Mr. Pitkin up-stairs, and they walked together through the sales-room.