A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
THE rain was falling on the dirty pavements of Liverpool as Jerome left the vessel after her arrival. Passing the custom-house, he took a cab, and proceeded to Brown's Hotel, Clayton Square.
Finding no employment in Liverpool, Jerome determined to go into the interior and seek for work. He, therefore, called for his bill, and made ready for his departure. Although but four days at the Albion, he found the hotel charges larger than he expected; but a stranger generally counts on being "fleeced" in travelling through the Old World, and especially in Great Britain. After paying his bill, he was about leaving the room, when one of the servants presented himself with a low bow, and said,--
"Something for the waiter, sir?"
"I thought I had paid my bill," replied the man, somewhat surprised at this polite dun.
"I am the waiter, sir, and gets only what strangers see fit to give me."
Taking from his pocket his nearly empty purse, Jerome handed the man a half-crown; but he had hardly restored it to his pocket, before his eye fell on another man in the waiting costume.
"What do you want?" he asked.
"Whatever your honor sees fit to give me, sir. I am the tother waiter."
The purse was again taken from the pocket, and another half-crown handed out. Stepping out into the hall, he saw standing there a good-looking woman, in a white apron, who made a very pretty courtesy.
"What's your business?" he inquired.
"I am the chambermaid, sir, and looks after the gentlemen's beds."
Out came the purse again, and was relieved of another half-crown; whereupon another girl, with a fascinating smile, took the place of the one who had just received her fee.
"What do you want?" demanded the now half-angry Jerome.
"Please, sir, I am the tother chambermaid."
Finding it easier to give shillings than half-crowns, Jerome handed the woman a shilling, and again restored his purse to his pocket, glad that another woman was not to be seen.
Scarcely had he commenced congratulating himself, however, before three men made their appearance, one after another.
"What have *you* done for me?" he asked of the first.
"I am the boots, sir."
The purse came out once more, and a shilling was deposited in the servant's hand.
"What do I owe you?" he inquired of the second.
"I took your honor's letter to the post, yesterday, sir."
Another shilling left the purse.
"In the name of the Lord, what am I indebted to you for?" demanded Jerome, now entirely out of patience, turning to the last of the trio.
"I told yer vership vot time it vas, this morning."
"Well!" exclaimed the indignant man, "ask here who o'clock it is, and you have got to pay for it."
He paid this last demand with a sixpence, regretting that he had not commenced with sixpences instead of half-crowns.
Having cleared off all demands in the house, he started for the railway station; but had scarcely reached the street, before he was accosted by an old man with a broom in his hand, who, with an exceedingly low bow, said,--
"I is here, yer lordship."
"I did not send for you; what is your business?" demanded Jerome.
"I is the man what opened your lordship's cab-door, when your lordship came to the house on Monday last, and I know your honor won't allow a poor man to starve."
Putting a sixpence in the old man's hand, Jerome once more started for the depot. Having obtained letters of introduction to persons in Manchester, he found no difficulty in getting a situation in a large manufacturing house there. Although the salary was small, yet the situation was a much better one than he had hoped to obtain. His compensation as out-door clerk enabled him to employ a man to teach him at night, and, by continued study and attention to business, he was soon promoted.
After three years in his new home, Jerome was placed in a still higher position, where his salary amounted to fifteen hundred dollars a year. The drinking, smoking, and other expensive habits, which the clerks usually indulged in, he carefully avoided.
Being fond of poetry, he turned his attention to literature. Johnson's "Lives of the Poets," the writings of Dryden, Addison, Pope, Clarendon, and other authors of celebrity, he read with attention. The knowledge which he thus picked up during his leisure hours gave him a great advantage over the other clerks, and caused his employers to respect him far more than any other in their establishment. So eager was he to improve the time that he determined to see how much he could read during the unemployed time of night and morning, and his success was beyond his expectations.