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Henry Fletcher's Luck by Horatio Alger, Jr.

Author: Alger, Horatio, 1832-1899.
Title: Henry Fletcher's Luck.
In: Peterboro Transcript. (Peterboro, NH). Vol. 28, no. 5 (February 3, 1876)
Format: 2 columns ; 51.5 cm.
Horatio Alger Collection.
Other Title: Peterboro Transcript
Location: PS 1029 .A3 H (Special Collections)
Optically scanned and encoded by Mark A. Williams
Horatio Alger Digital Serials Project, Northern llinois University Libraries
DeKalb, IL
21-April-2000


"What have you got there John?" inquired Henry Fletcher of his fellow clerk, John Raymond.

"A ticket to the concert this evening."

"Who is to sing?"

"Signora Bertaniga, and one or two others whose names I do not remember. Shall you go?''

"How much are the tickets?"

"A dollar."

"Then I shan't go."

"Why not?"

"Because I cannot afford to pay a dollar for an evening's amusement."

"You can afford it as well I can. We both get the same salary."

"That is true. We both get ten dollars a week. But doesn't it seem a little extravagant to spend a tenth part of your wages in a concert ticket."

"How prudent and cautious you are Henry. Of course I don't want to exceed my income. But I shan't do it—I can live on ten dollars a week, and still afford myself a little amusement now and then. So could you if you only thought so."

"I do think so."

"Then why don't you go?"

"Bebause I want to do more than live on my income."

"You don't mean to say that you expect to save anything out of ten dollars a week."

"Yes I do."

"But you'll find you can't do it," said John, increduously.

"I have done it."

"You have?"

Certainly."

"Half a dollar a week, perhaps! but that isn't worth while."

"I should think it worth while if I couldn't save any more."

"How much have you saved?" questioned John with some curiosty.

"During the six months that I have been here, I have saved fifty dollars."

"Why, that's two dollars a week."

"Yes."

"How in the world did you do it?"

"Board costs us five dollars a week."

"Well?"

"I set apart from a dollar and a half to two dollars for clothes."

"It costs me more. And how much for sundries?"

"Enough to make eight dollars. The rest I save."

"But you have to pinch yourself."

"No, I am not conscious of it. I can't go to concerts where the tickets are a dollar, to be sure, but I take two or three weekly papers, and get out books from the Merchantile Library, and with these I have no trouble in passing the time."

"Well, I had no idea money could be saved on our salaries. If all the world were like you, Henry, the signora would make a poor living. You approve of nothing expensive."

"I didn't say that. Some people have larger incomes than you or I. It is proper for them to pay for expensive amusements if they like."

"But after all you can't save much, what is your object?"

"I'll tell you, John. I don't want to be a clerk all my life-time. I want to go into business for myself. But I can't do that without capital."

"So that is what you are saving up for. Well, fifty dollars will set you up in a peanut stand."

"I hope to have more than that when I get ready to go into business. But excuse my lecturing. I hope you will have a pleasant time this evening."

"No doubt I shall. You had better give up your economy for once, and buy a ticket."

"I believe not."

"All right. Perhaps you are wiser than I."

Six months later both the young men who took part in the preceding conversation had their wages raised to twelve dollars per week.

On the strength of this John Raymond went at once to a fashionable tailor, and ordered a new suit of clothes which he particularly desired should be made in style. The suit was not needed, for he was already well provided with clothes, but the extra two dollars per week made him feel rich, and he took this way of making known his prosperity to his acquaintances.

Henry Fletcher, on the contrary, did not think it necessary to increase his expenditures at all, but kept on as if nothing had happened.

''I don't see as it does you much good to have your salary raised, Henry," said his fellow clerk.

"Why not?"

"Why, you don't spend any more."

"But I save more."

"How much?"

"I can lay by four dollars a week, now."

"You can? I don't see how it is. It's two months since our pay was raised, and I have not laid by a cent. Besides I am still in debt on my new suit."

"Better have waited until you could have paid for it."

"O well, I knew I could very soon."

No more passed between the two clerks at this time. At the end of the second year their wages were again raised—this time to fifteen dollars a week. Constant to his original purpose, Henry Fletcher continued to live on eight dollars a week, thus saving seven. But it is not our purpose to follow the fortunes of the two young men in detail. Suffice it to compare their pecuniary positions at the end of three years.

At this time Henry Fletcher was the master of eighteen hundred dollars.

His fellow clerk, John Raymond, was just even with the world. He had increased his expenses as his income advanced, and this was the natural result. He had long since ceased to question Henry about his savings, and had no idea he was so far in advance of him.

It has been remarked that fortune often showers her benefits on those who do not deserve them. At all events John Raymond about this time had twenty-five hundred dollars left him by a near relative. It of course exhilarated him not a little. He had got tired of being a clerk. He determined to go into business for himself. He announced this to Henry one night.

"Well, Henry," said he nonchalantly, I've given old Fairbanks warning."

"You have! When are you going?"

"I've dropped clerking. "I'm going into business for myself.''

"I thought—"

"That I had no capital?"

"Yes."

"Well, I'm lucky enough to have received a legacy of twenty-five hundred dollars."

"I congratulate you. That with your saving—"

"Pooh ! I have saved nothing."

"At any rate that will give you a good start."

"I suppose you'll go on clerking for some time to come."

"There you are mistaken. I have engaged a store, and expect to begin business on my own account in a few weeks."

"You don't say so!" ejaculated Raymond in surprise. "Have you had a windfall too?"

"No."

"Then where did you raise the funds?"

"I have saved up eighteen hundred dollars, and that must do for the present."

"Eighteen hundred? You don't mean to say you saved all?"

"With interest; yes."

"I had no idea you were worth half that. It is most as much as I have."

"Not quite."

"Well, we shall start in business about the same time. I wonder how we shall be situated four years hence?"

"Both prosperous, I hope."

"So do I."

It so happened that the two young men went into their new stores on the same day. Both understood their business. So far as that went there was no reason to doubt of their success. But John Raymond went at once to a fashionable boarding house, where he paid a high price for a fine room, opened a bill at a fashionable tailor's, bought a horse and carriage and boarded the horse at a livery stable, and in fact lived as if his income was equal to his stock in trade. He had no reason to complain of the patronage he received. If his expenditure had not been so much out of his business that he found it hard to meet his bills as they became due but this never led him to retrench his personal expenditures. He must still keep a carriage and pay high board.

So things got worse and worse, till at length a crisis came. In a little short of a year failure came. The money with which he started had somehow melted away, and he found himself thrown upon the world. He was glad to accept his old situation at "old Fairbank's store."

How stood Henry Fletcher at the end of the year? He had managed his business prudently, lived economically, and put his surplus profits into his stock in trade. When he took account of stock at the end of the year, it footed up twenty-five hundred dollars—just where John Raymond had been at the beginning of the year.

Five years later Henry Fletcher found himself worth ten thousand dollars.

John Raymond is just even with the world, and so fixed in the habit of self-indulgence become that it is to be feared he will never be any better off. He thinks Henry Fletcher "a very lucky fellow;" but we know that there is something more and better than good luck at the bottom of his prosperity.—Gleason's Monthly Companion.