PAUL THE PEDDLER,
OR THE FORTUNES OF A YOUNG STREET MERCHANT
By Horatio Alger, Jr.
BIOGRAPHY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Horatio Alger, Jr., an author who lived among and for boys and himself remained a boy in heart and association till death, was born at Revere, Mass., January 13, 1834. He was the son of a clergyman, was graduated at Harvard College in 1852, and at its Divinity School in 1860 and was pastor of the Unitarian Church at Brewster, Mass., in 1862-66.
In the latter year he settled in New York and began drawing public attention to the condition and needs of street boys. He mingled with them, gained their confidence showed a personal concern in their affairs, and stimulated them to honest and useful living. With his first story he won the hearts of all red-blooded boys everywhere, and of the seventy or more that followed over a million copies were sold during the author's lifetime.
In his later life he was in appearance a short, stout, bald-headed man, with cordial manners and whimsical views of things that amused all who met him. He died at Natick, Mass., July 18, 1899.
Mr. Alger's stories are as popular now as when first published, because they treat of real live boys who were always up and about—just like the boys found everywhere to-day. They are pure in tone and inspiring in influence, and many reforms in the juvenile life of New York may be traced to them. Among the best known are:
Strong and Steady; Strive and Succeed; Try and Trust; Bound to Rise; Risen from the Ranks; Herbert Carter's Legacy; Brave and Bold; Jack's Ward; Shifting for Himself; Wait and Hope; Paul the Peddler; Phil the Fiddler; Slow and Sure; Julius the Street Boy; Tom the Bootblack; Struggling Upward, Facing the World; The Cash Boy; Making His Way; Tony the Tramp; Joe's Luck; Do and Dare; Only an Irish Boy; Sink or Swim; A Cousin's Conspiracy; Andy Gordon; Bob Burton; Harry Vane; Hector's Inheritance; Mark Mason's Triumph; Sam's Chance; The Telegraph Boy; The Young Adventurer; The Young Outlaw; The Young Salesman, and Luke Walton.
PAUL THE PEDDLER
PAUL THE PEDDLER
"Here's your prize packages! Only five cents! Money prize in every package! Walk up, gentlemen, and try your luck!"
The speaker, a boy of fourteen, stood in front of the shabby brick building, on Nassau street, which has served for many years as the New York post office. In front of him, as he stood with his back to the building, was a small basket, filled with ordinary letter envelopes, each labeled "Prize Package."
His attractive announcement, which, at that time, had also the merit of novelty—for Paul had himself hit upon the idea, and manufactured the packages, as we shall hereafter explain—drew around him a miscellaneous crowd, composed chiefly of boys.
"What's in the packages, Johnny?" asked a bootblack, with his box strapped to his back.
"Candy," answered Paul. "Buy one. Only five cents."
"There ain't much candy," answered the bootblack, with a disparaging glance.
"What if there isn't? There's a prize."
"How big a prize?"
"There's a ten-cent stamp in some of 'em. All have got something in 'em."
Influenced by this representation, the bootblack drew out a five-cent piece, and said:
"Pitch one over then. I guess I can stand it." An envelope was at once handed him.
"Open it, Johnny," said a newsboy at his side. Twenty curious eyes were fixed upon him as he opened the package. He drew out rather a scanty supply of candy, and then turning to Paul, with a look of indignation, said:
"Where's the prize? I don't see no prize. Give me back my five cents."
"Give it to me. I'll show you," said the young merchant.
He thrust in his finger, and drew out a square bit of paper, on which was written—One Cent.
"There's your prize," he added, drawing a penny from his pocket.
"It ain't much of a prize," said the buyer. "Where's your ten cents?"
"I didn't say I put ten cents into every package," answered Paul.
"I'd burst up pretty quick if I did that. Who'll have another package? Only five cents!"
Curiosity and taste for speculation are as prevalent among children as with men, so this appeal produced its effect.
"Give me a package," said Teddy O'Brien, a newsboy, stretching out a dirty hand, containing the stipulated sum. He also was watched curiously as he opened the package. He drew out a paper bearing the words—Two Cents.
"Bully for you, Teddy! You've had better luck than I," said the bootblack.
The check was duly honored, and Teddy seemed satisfied, though the amount of candy he received probably could not have cost over half-a-cent. Still, he had drawn twice as large a prize as the first buyer, and that was satisfactory.
"Who'll take the next?" asked Paul, in a businesslike manner. "Maybe there's ten cents in this package. That's where you double your money. Walk up, gentlemen. Only five cents!"
Three more responded to this invitation, one drawing a prize of two cents, the other two of one cent each. Just then, as it seemed doubtful whether any more would be purchased by those present, a young man, employed in a Wall street house, came out of the post office.
"What have you got here?" he asked, pausing.
"Prize packages of candy! Money prize in every package! Only five cents!"
"Give me one, then. I never drew a prize in my life."
The exchange was speedily made.
"I don't see any prize," he said, opening it.
"It's on a bit of paper, mister," said Teddy, nearly as much interested as if it had been his own purchase.
"Oh, yes, I see. Well, I'm in luck. Ten cents!"
"Ten cents!" exclaimed several of the less fortunate buyers, with a shade of envy.
"Here's your prize, mister," said Paul, drawing out a ten-cent stamp from his vest pocket.
"Well, Johnny, you do things on the square, that's a fact. Just keep the ten cents, and give me two more packages."
This Paul did with alacrity; but the Wall street clerk's luck was at an end. He got two prizes of a penny each.
"Well," he said, "I'm not much out of pocket. I've bought three packages, and it's only cost me three cents."
The ten-cent prize produced a favorable effect on the business of the young peddler. Five more packages were bought, and the contents eagerly inspected; but no other large prize appeared. Two cents was the maximum prize drawn. Their curiosity being satisfied, the crowd dispersed; but it was not long before another gathered. In fact, Paul had shown excellent judgment in selecting the front of the post office as his place of business. Hundreds passed in and out every hour, besides those who passed by on a different destination. Thus many ears caught the young peddler's cry—"Prize packages! Only five cents apiece!"—and made a purchase; most from curiosity, but some few attracted by the businesslike bearing of the young merchant, and willing to encourage him in his efforts to make a living. These last, as well as some of the former class, declined to accept the prizes, so that these were so much gain to Paul.
At length but one package remained, and this Paul was some time getting rid of. At last a gentleman came up, holding a little boy of seven by the hand.
"Oh, buy me the package, papa?" he said, drawing his father's attention.
"What is there in it, boy?" asked the gentleman.
"Candy," was the answer.
Alfred, for this was the little boy's name, renewed his entreaties, having, like most boys, a taste for candy.
"There it is, Alfred," said his father, handing the package to his little son.
"There's a prize inside," said Paul, seeing that they were about to pass.
"We must look for the prize by all means," said the gentleman. "What is this? One cent?"
"Yes sir"; and Paul held out a cent to his customer.
"Never mind about that! You may keep the prize."
"I want it, pa," interposed Alfred, with his mouth full of candy.
"I'll give you another," said his father, still declining to accept the proffered prize.
Paul now found himself in the enviable position of one who, at eleven o'clock, had succeeded in disposing of his entire stock in trade, and that at an excellent profit, as we soon shall see. Business had been more brisk with him than with many merchants on a larger scale, who sometimes keep open their shops all day without taking in enough to pay expenses. But, then, it is to be considered that in Paul's case expenses were not a formidable item. He had no rent to pay, for one thing, nor clerk hire, being competent to attend to his entire business single-handed. All his expense, in fact, was the first cost of his stock in trade, and he had so fixed his prices as to insure a good profit on that. So, on the whole, Paul felt very well satisfied at the result of his experiment, for this was his first day in the prize-package business.
"I guess I'll go home," he said to himself. "Mother'll want to know how I made out." He turned up Nassau street, and had reached the corner of Maiden lane, when Teddy O'Brien met him.
"Did you sell out, Johnny?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Paul.
"How many packages did you have?"
"That's bully. How much you made?"
"I can't tell yet. I haven't counted up," said Paul.
"It's better'n sellin' papers, I'll bet. I've only made thirty cents the day. Don't you want to take a partner, Johnny?"
"No, I don't think I do," said Paul, who had good reason to doubt whether such a step would be to his advantage.
"Then I'll go in for myself," said Teddy, somewhat displeased at the refusal.
"Go ahead! There's nobody to stop you," said Paul.
"I'd rather go in with you," said Teddy, feeling that there would be some trouble in making the prize packages, but influenced still more by the knowledge that he had not capital enough to start in the business alone.
"No," said Paul, positively; "I don't want any partner. I can do well enough alone."
He was not surprised at Teddy's application. Street boys are as enterprising, and have as sharp eyes for business as their elders, and no one among them can monopolize a profitable business long. This is especially the case with the young street merchant. When one has had the good luck to find some attractive article which promises to sell briskly, he takes every care to hide the source of his supply from his rivals in trade. But this is almost impossible. Cases are frequent where such boys are subjected to the closest espionage, their steps being dogged for hours by boys who think they have found a good thing and are determined to share it. In the present case Paul had hit upon an idea which seemed to promise well, and he was determined to keep it to himself as long as possible. As soon as he was subjected to competition and rivalry his gains would probably diminish.
PAUL AT HOME
Paul went up Centre street and turned into Pearl. Stopping before a tenement-house, he entered, and, going up two flights of stairs, opened a door and entered.
"You are home early, Paul," said a woman of middle age, looking up at his entrance.
"Yes, mother; I've sold out."
"You've not sold out the whole fifty packages?" she asked, in surprise.
"Yes, I have. I had capital luck."
"Why, you must have made as much as a dollar, and it's not twelve yet."
"I've made more than that, mother. Just wait a minute, till I've reckoned up a little. Where's Jimmy?"
"Miss Beckwith offered to take him out to walk with her, so I let him go. He'll be back at twelve."
While Paul is making a calculation, a few words of explanation and description may be given, so that the reader may understand better how he is situated.
The rooms occupied by Paul and his mother were three in number. The largest one was about fourteen feet square, and was lighted by two windows. It was covered with a neat, though well-worn, carpet; a few cane-bottomed chairs were ranged at the windows, and on each side of the table. There was a French clock on the mantel, a rocking chair for his mother, and a few inexpensive engravings hung upon the walls. There was a hanging bookcase containing two shelves, filled with books, partly school books, supplemented by a few miscellaneous books, such as "Robinson Crusoe," "Pilgrim's Progress," a volume of "Poetical Selections," an odd volume of Scott, and several others. Out of the main room opened two narrow chambers, both together of about the same area as the main room. One of these was occupied by Paul and Jimmy, the other by his mother.
Those who are familiar with the construction of a New York tenement-house will readily understand the appearance of the rooms into which we have introduced them. It must, however, be explained that few similar apartments are found so well furnished. Carpets are not very common in tenement-houses, and if there are any pictures, they are usually the cheapest prints. Wooden chairs, and generally every object of the cheapest, are to be met with in the dwellings of the New York poor. If we find something better in the present instance, it is not because Paul and his mother are any better off than their neighbors. On the contrary, there are few whose income is so small. But they have seen better days, and the furniture we see has been saved from the time of their comparative prosperity.
As Paul is still at his estimate, let us improve the opportunity by giving a little of their early history.
Mr. Hoffman, the father of Paul, was born in Germany, but came to New York when a boy of twelve, and there he grew up and married, his wife being an American. He was a cabinetmaker, and, being a skillful workman, earned very good wages, so that he was able to maintain his family in comfort. They occupied a neat little cottage in Harlem, and lived very happily, for Mr. Hoffman was temperate and kind, when an unfortunate accident clouded their happiness, and brought an end to their prosperity. In crossing Broadway at its most crowded part, the husband and father was run over by a loaded dray, and so seriously injured that he lived but a few hours. Then the precarious nature of their prosperity was found out. Mr. Hoffman had not saved anything, having always lived up to the extent of his income. It was obviously impossible for them to continue to live in their old home, paying a rent of twenty dollars per month. Besides, Paul did not see any good opportunity to earn his living in Harlem. So, at his instigation, his mother moved downtown, and took rooms in a tenement-house in Pearl street, agreeing to pay six dollars a month for apartments which would now command double the price. They brought with them furniture enough to furnish the three rooms, selling the rest for what it would bring, and thus obtaining a small reserve fund, which by this time was nearly exhausted.
Once fairly established in their new home, Paul went out into the streets to earn his living. The two most obvious, and, on the whole, most profitable trades, were blacking boots and selling newspapers. To the first Paul, who was a neat boy, objected on the score that it would keep his hands and clothing dirty, and, street boy though he had become, he had a pride in his personal appearance. To selling papers he had not the same objection, but he had a natural taste for trade, and this led him to join the ranks of the street peddlers. He began with vending matches, but found so much competition in the business, and received so rough a reception oftentimes from those who had repeated calls from others in the same business, that he gave it up, and tried something else. But the same competition which crowds the professions and the higher employments followed by men, prevails among the street trades which are pursued by boys. If Paul had only had himself to support, he could have made a fair living at match selling, or any other of the employments he took up; but his mother could not earn much at making vests, and Jimmy was lame, and could do nothing to fill the common purse, so that Paul felt that his earnings must be the main support of the family, and naturally sought out what would bring him in most money.
At length he had hit upon selling prize packages, and his first experience in that line are recorded in the previous chapter. Adding only that it was now a year since his father's death, we resume our narrative.
"Do you want to know how much I've made, mother?" asked Paul, looking up at length from his calculation.
"A dollar and thirty cents."
"I did not think it would amount to so much. The prizes came to considerable, didn't they?"
"Listen, and I will tell you how I stand:
One pound of candy . . . . . . . . .20 Two packs of envelopes . . . . . . . .10 Prize. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90
—— That makes . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.20
I sold the fifty packages at five cents each, and that brought me in two dollars and a half. Taking out the expenses, it leaves me a dollar and thirty cents. Isn't that doing well for one morning's work?"
"It's excellent; but I thought your prizes amounted to more than ninety cents."
"So they did, but several persons who bought wouldn't take their prizes, and that was so much gain."
"You have done very well, Paul. I wish you might earn as much every day."
"I'm going to earn some more this afternoon. I bought a pound of candy on the way home, and some cheap envelopes, and I'll be making up a new stock while I am waiting for dinner."
Paul took out his candy and envelopes, and set about making up the packages.
"Did any complain of the small amount of candy you put in?"
"A few; but most bought for the sake of the prizes."
"Perhaps you had better be a little more liberal with your candy, and then there may not be so much dissatisfaction where the prize is only a penny."
"I don't know but your are right, mother. I believe I'll only make thirty packages with this pound, instead of fifty. Thirty'll be all I can sell this afternoon."
Just then the door opened, and Paul's brother entered.
Jimmy Hoffman, or lame Jimmy, as he was often called, was a delicate-looking boy of ten, with a fair complexion and sweet face, but incurably lame, a defect which, added to his delicate constitution, was likely to interfere seriously with his success in life. But, as frequently happens, Jimmy was all the more endeared to his mother and brother by his misfortune and bodily weakness, and if either were obliged to suffer from poverty, Jimmy would be spared the suffering.
"Well, Jimmy, have you had a pleasant walk?" asked his mother.
"Yes, mother; I went down to Fulton Market. There's a good deal to see there."
"A good deal more than in this dull room, Jimmy."
"It doesn't seem dull to me, mother, while you are here. How did you make out selling your prize packages?"
"They are all sold, Jimmy, every one. I am making some more."
"Shan't I help you?"
"Yes, I would like to have you. Just take those envelopes, and write prize packages on every one of them."
"All right, Paul," and Jimmy, glad to be of use, got the pen and ink, and, gathering up the envelopes, began to inscribe them as he had been instructed.
By the time the packages were made up, dinner was ready. It was not a very luxurious repast. There was a small piece of rump steak—not more than three-quarters of a pound—a few potatoes, a loaf of bread, and a small plate of butter. That was all; but then the cloth that covered the table was neat and clean, and the knives and forks were as bright as new, and what there was tasted good.
"What have you been doing this morning, Jimmy?" asked Paul.
"I have been drawing, Paul. Here's a picture of Friday. I copied it from 'Robinson Crusoe.'"
He showed the picture, which was wonderfully like that in the book, for this—the gift of drawing—was Jimmy's one talent, and he possessed it in no common degree.
"Excellent, Jimmy!" said Paul. "You're a real genius. I shouldn't be surprised if you'd make an artist some day."
"I wish I might," said Jimmy, earnestly. "There's nothing I'd like better."
"I'll tell you what, Jimmy. If I do well this afternoon, I'll buy you a drawing-book and some paper, to work on while mother and I are busy."
"If you can afford it, Paul, I should like it so much. Some time I might earn something that way."
"Of course you may," said Paul, cheerfully. "I won't forget you."
Dinner over, Paul went out to business, and was again successful, getting rid of his thirty packages, and clearing another dollar. Half of this he invested in a drawing-book, a pencil and some drawing-paper for Jimmy. Even then he had left of his earnings for the day one dollar and eighty cents. But this success in the new business had already excited envy and competition, as he was destined to find out on the morrow.
PAUL HAS COMPETITORS
The next morning Paul took his old place in front of the post office. He set down his basket in front, and, taking one of the packages in his hand, called out in a businesslike manner, as on the day before, "Here's your prize packages! Only five cents! Money prize in every package! Walk up, gentlemen, and try your luck!"
He met with a fair degree of success at first, managing in the course of an hour to sell ten packages. All the prizes drawn were small, with the exception of one ten-cent prize, which was drawn by a little bootblack, who exclaimed:
"That's the way to do business, Johnny. If you've got any more of them ten-cent prizes, I'll give you ten cents a piece for the lot."
"Better buy some more and see," said Paul.
"That don't go down," said the other. "Maybe there'd be only a penny."
Nevertheless, the effect of this large prize was to influence the sale of three other packages; but as neither of these contained more than two-cent prizes, trade began to grow dull, and for ten minutes all Paul's eloquent appeals to gentlemen to walk up and try their luck produced no effect.
At this point Paul found that there was a rival in the field.
Teddy O'Brien, who had applied for a partnership the day before, came up with a basket similar to his own, apparently filled with similar packages. He took a position about six feet distant from Paul, and began to cry out, in a shrill voice:
"Here's your bully prize packages! Best in the market! Here's where you get your big prizes, fifty cents in some of 'em. Walk up boys, tumble up, and take your pick afore they're gone. Fifty cents for five!"
"That's a lie, Teddy," said Paul, who saw that his rival's attractive announcement was likely to spoil his trade.
"No, 'tisn't," said Teddy. "If you don't believe it, just buy one and see."
"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Paul, "I'll exchange."
"No," said Teddy; "I ain't a-goin' to risk givin' fifty cents for one."
"More likely you'd get ten for one. You're a humbug."
"Have you really got any fifty-cent prizes?" asked a newsboy, who had sold out his morning stock of papers, and was lounging about the post office steps.
"Best way is to buy, Johnny," said Teddy.
The boy did buy, but his prize amounted to only one cent.
"Didn't I tell you so?" said Paul.
"Just wait a while and see," said Teddy. "The lucky feller hasn't come along. Here, Mike, jest buy a package!"
Mike, a boy of fifteen, produced five cents, and said, "I don't mind if I do."
He selected a package, and, without opening it, slipped it into his pocket.
"Why don't you open it?" said Teddy.
"What's the use?" said Mike. "There ain't no fifty cents inside."
However, he drew it out of his pocket, and opened it.
"What's this?" he exclaimed, pulling out a piece of scrip. "Howly St. Patrick! it's I that's in luck, anyhow I've got the fifty cents!"
And he held up to view a fifty-cent scrip.
"Let me look at it," said Paul, incredulously.
But there was no room for doubt. It was a genuine fifty cents, as Paul was compelled to admit.
"Didn't I tell you so?" said Teddy, triumphantly. "Here's where you get fifty-cent prizes."
The appeal was successful. The sight of the fifty-cent prize led to a large call for packages, of which Teddy immediately sold ten, while Paul found himself completely deserted. None of the ten, however, contained over two cents. Still the possibility of drawing fifty cents kept up the courage of buyers, while Paul's inducements were so far inferior that he found himself wholly distanced.
"Don't you wish you'd gone pardners with me?" asked Teddy, with a triumphant grin, noticing Paul's look of discomfiture. "You can't do business alongside of me."
"You can't make any money giving such big prizes," said Paul. "You haven't taken in as much as you've given yet."
"All right," said Teddy. "I'm satisfied if you are. Have a package, Jim?"
"Yes," said Jim. "Mind you give me a good prize."
The package was bought, and, on being opened, proved to contain fifty cents also, to Paul's great amazement. How Teddy's business could pay, as it was managed, he could not comprehend. One thing was certain, however, his new competitor monopolized the trade, and for two hours Paul did not get a solitary customer.
"There's something about this I don't understand," he pondered, thoughtfully. "He must lose money; but he's spoiled my trade."
Paul did not like to give up his beat, but he found himself compelled to. Accordingly he took his basket, and moved off toward Wall street. Here he was able to start in business without competitors, and succeeded in selling quite a number of packages, until a boy came up, and said:
"There's a feller up at the post office that's givin' fifty-cent prizes. I got one of 'em."
There was a group of half-a-dozen boys around Paul, two of whom were about to invest; but on hearing thus they changed their intention, and walked of in the direction of the post office.
Looking up, Paul saw that the boy who had injured his trade was Mike, who had drawn the first fifty-cent prize from his competitor.
"Can't you stop interfering?" he said, angrily. "I've lost two customers by you."
"If you don't like it, you can lump it," said Mike, insolently. "This is a free country, ain't it?"
"It's a mean trick," said Paul, indignantly.
"Say that ag'in, and I'll upset your basket," returned Mike.
"I'll say it as often as I like," said Paul, who wasn't troubled by cowardice. "Come on, if you want to."
Mike advanced a step, doubling his fists; but, finding that Paul showed no particular sign of fear, he stopped short, saying: "I'll lick you some other time."
"You'd better put it off," said Paul. "Have a prize package, sir? Only five cents!"
This was addressed to a young man who came out of an insurance office.
"I don't mind if I do," said the young man. "Five cents, is it? What prize may I expect?"
"The highest is ten cents."
"There's a boy around the post office that gives fifty-cent prizes, mister," said Mike. "You'd better buy of him."
"I'll wait till another time," said the young man. "Here's the money, Johnny. Now for the package."
"Look here," said Paul, indignantly, when his customer had gone away; "haven't you anything to do except to drive off my customers?"
"Give me two cents on every package," said Mike, "and I'll tell 'em you give dollar prizes."
"That would be a lie, and I don't want to do business that way."
Mike continued his persecutions a while longer, and then turned the corner into Nassau street.
"I'm glad he's gone," thought Paul. "Now there's a chance for me."
He managed after a while to sell twenty of his packages. By this time it was twelve o'clock, and he began to feel hungry. He resolved, therefore, to go home to dinner and come out again in the afternoon. He didn't know how much he had made, but probably about fifty cents. He had made more than double as much the day before in less time; but then he did not suffer from competition.
He began to doubt whether he could long pursue this business, since other competitors were likely to spring up.
As he walked by the post office he had the curiosity to look and see how his competitor was getting along.
Teddy had started, originally, with seventy-five packages; but of those scarcely a dozen were left. A group of boys were around him. Among them was Mike, who was just on the point of buying another package. As before, he put it in his pocket, and it was not till Teddy asked, "What luck, Mike?" that he drew it out, and opening it again, produced fifty cents.
"It's the big prize!" he said. "Sure I'm in luck, anyhow."
"You're the boy that's lucky," said Teddy, with a grin.
As Paul witnessed the scene a light broke upon him. Now he understood how Teddy could afford to give such large prizes. Mike and the other boy, Jim, were only confederates of his—decoy ducks—who kept drawing over again the same prize, which was eventually given back to Teddy. It was plain now why Mike put the package into his pocket before opening it. It was to exchange it for another packet into which the money had previously been placed, but which was supposed by the lookers-on to be the same that had just been purchased. The prize could afterward be placed in a new packet and used over again.
"That ain't the same package," said Paul, announcing his discovery. "He had it all the while in his pocket."
"Look here," blustered Mike, "you jest mind your own business! That's the best thing for you."
"Suppose I don't?"
"If you don't there may be a funeral to-morrow of a boy about your size."
There was a laugh at Paul's expense, but he took it coolly.
"I'll send you a particular invitation to attend, if I can get anybody to go over to the island."
As Mike had been a resident at Blackwell's Island on two different occasions, this produced a laugh at his expense, in the midst of which Paul walked off.
TEDDY GIVES UP BUSINESS
"Have you sold all your packages, Paul?" asked Jimmy, as our hero entered the humble room, where the table was already spread with a simple dinner.
"No," said Paul, "I only sold twenty. I begin to think that the prize-package business will soon be played out."
"There's too many that'll go into it."
Here Paul related his experience of the morning, explaining how it was that Teddy had managed to distance him in the competition.
"Can't you do the same, Paul?" asked Jimmy. "Mother's got a gold dollar she could lend you."
"That might do," said Paul; "but I don't know any boy I could trust to draw it except you, and some of them would know we were brothers."
"I think, Paul, that would be dishonest," said Mrs. Hoffman. "I would rather make less, if I were you, and do it honestly."
"Maybe you're right, mother. I'll try it again this afternoon, keeping as far away from Teddy as I can. If I find I can't make it go, I'll try some other business."
"Jimmy, have you shown Paul your drawing?" said his mother.
"Here it is, Paul," said Jimmy, producing his drawing-book, from which he had copied a simple design of a rustic cottage.
"Why, that's capital, Jimmy," said Paul, in real surprise. "I had no idea you would succeed so well."
"Do you really think so, Paul?" asked the little boy, much pleased.
"I really do. How long did it take you?"
"Only a short time—not more than half an hour, I should think," said Mrs. Hoffman. "I think Jimmy succeeded very well."
"You'll make a great artist some time, Jimmy," said Paul.
"I wish I could," said the little boy. "I should like to earn some money, so that you and mother need not work so hard."
"Hard work agrees with me. I'm tough," said Paul. "But when we get to be men, Jimmy, we'll make so much money that mother needn't work at all. She shall sit in the parlor all day, dressed in silk, with nothing to do."
"I don't think I would enjoy that," said Mrs. Hoffman, smiling.
"Will you be in the candy business, then, Paul?" said Jimmy.
"No, Jimmy. It would never do for the brother of a great artist to be selling candy round the streets. I hope I shall have something better to do than that."
"Sit down to dinner, Paul," said his mother. "It's all ready."
The dinner was not a luxurious one. There was a small plate of cold meat, some potatoes, and bread and butter; but Mrs. Hoffman felt glad to be able to provide even that, and Paul, who had the hearty appetite of a growing boy, did full justice to the fare. They had scarcely finished, when a knock was heard at the door. Paul, answering the summons, admitted a stout, pleasant-looking Irishwoman.
"The top of the mornin' to ye, Mrs. Donovan," said Paul, bowing ceremoniously.
"Ah, ye'll be afther havin' your joke, Paul," said Mrs. Donovan, good-naturedly. "And how is your health, mum, the day?"
"I am well, thank you, Mrs. Donovan," said Mrs. Hoffman. "Sit down to the table, won't you? We're just through dinner, but there's something left."
"Thank you, mum, I've jist taken dinner. I was goin' to wash this afternoon, and I thought maybe you'd have some little pieces I could wash jist as well as not."
"Thank you, Mrs. Donovan, you are very kind; but you must have enough work of your own to do."
"I'm stout and strong, mum, and hard work agrees with me; but you're a rale lady, and ain't used to it. It's only a thrifle, but if you want to pay me, you could do a bit of sewin' for me. I ain't very good with the needle. My fingers is too coarse, belike."
"Thank you, Mrs. Donovan; on those terms I will agree to your kind offer. Washing is a little hard for me."
Mrs. Hoffman collected a few pieces, and, wrapping them up in a handkerchief, handed them to her guest.
"And now what have you been doin', Jimmy darlint?" said Mrs. Donovan, turning her broad, good-humored face toward the younger boy.
"I've been drawing a picture," said Jimmy. "Would you like to see it?"
"Now, isn't that illigant?" exclaimed Mrs. Donovan, admiringly, taking the picture and gazing at it with rapt admiration. "Who showed you how to do it?"
"Paul bought me a book, and I copied it out of that."
"You're a rale genius. Maybe you'll make pictures some time like them we have in the church, of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. Do you think you could draw me, now?" she asked, with curiosity.
"I haven't got a piece of paper big enough," said Jimmy, slyly.
"Ah, it's pokin' fun at me, ye are," said Mrs. Donovan, good-humoredly. "Just like my Pat; he run into the room yesterday sayin', 'Mother, there's great news. Barnum's fat woman is dead, and he's comin' afther you this afternoon. He'll pay you ten dollars a week and board.' 'Whist, ye spalpeen!' said I; 'is it makin' fun of your poor mother, ye are?' but I couldn't help laughing at the impertinence of the boy. But I must be goin'."
"Thank you for your kind offer, Mrs. Donovan. Jimmy shall go to your room for the sewing."
"There's no hurry about that," said Mrs. Donovan. "I'll jist bring it in meself when it's ready."
"She is very kind," said Mrs. Hoffman, when Bridget Donovan had gone. "I shall be glad to have her wash. I am apt to feel weak after it. What are you going to do this afternoon, Paul?"
"I'll try to sell out the rest of my stock of packages. Perhaps I shan't succeed, but I'll do my best. Shall you have another picture to show me when I come back tonight, Jimmy?"
"Yes, Paul; I love to draw. I'm going to try this castle."
"It's rather hard, isn't it?"
"I can do it," said Jimmy, confidently.
Paul left the room with his basket on his arm.
He was drawn by curiosity to the spot where he had met with his first success, as well as his first failure—the front of the post office. Here he became witness to an unexpectedly lively scene; in other words, a fight, in which Teddy O'Brien and his confederate, Mike, were the contestants. To explain the cause of the quarrel, it must be stated that it related to a division of the spoils.
Teddy had sold out his last package, seventy-five in number. For these he had received five cents apiece, making in all three dollars and seventy-five cents, of which all but a dollar and seventy-five cents, representing the value of the prizes and the original cost of the packages and their contents, was profit. Now, according to the arrangement entered into between him and Mike, the latter, for his services, was to receive one cent on every package sold. This, however, seemed to Teddy too much to pay, so, when the time of reckoning came, he stoutly asseverated that there were but sixty packages.
"That don't go down," said Mike, indignantly; "it's nearer a hundred."
"No, it isn't. It's only sixty. You've got the fifty cents, and I'll give you ten more."
"You must give me the whole sixty, then," said Mike, changing his ground. "I drawed the fifty as a prize."
Teddy was struck with astonishment at the impudence of this assumption.
"It wasn't no prize," he said.
"Yes, it was," said Mike. "You said so yourself. Didn't he, Jim?"
Jim, who was also a confederate, but had agreed to accept twenty-five cents in full for services rendered, promptly answered:
"Shure, Mike's right. It was a prize he drew."
"You want to chate me!" said Teddy, angrily.
"What have you been doin' all the mornin'?" demanded Mike. "You're the chap to talk about chatin', ain't you?"
"I'll give you twenty-five cents," said Teddy, "and that's all I will give you."
"Then you've got to fight," said Mike, squaring off.
"Yes, you've got to fight!" chimed in Jim, who thought he saw a chance for more money.
Teddy looked at his two enemies, each of whom was probably more than a match for himself, and was not long in deciding that his best course was to avoid a fight by running. Accordingly, he tucked all the money into his pocket, and, turning incontinently, fled down Liberty street, closely pursued by his late confederates. Paul came up just in time to hear the termination of the dispute and watch the flight of his late business rival.
"I guess Teddy won't go into the business again," he reflected. "I may as well take my old stand."
Accordingly he once more installed himself on the post office steps, and began to cry, "Prize packages. Only five cents!"
Having no competitor now to interfere with his trade, he met with fair success, and by four o'clock was able to start for home with his empty basket, having disposed of all his stock in trade.
His profits, though not so great as the day before, amounted to a dollar.
"If I could only make a dollar every day," thought Paul, "I would be satisfied."
PAUL LOSES HIS BASKET
Paul continued in the prize-package business for three weeks. His success varied, but he never made less than seventy-five cents a day, and sometimes as much as a dollar and a quarter. He was not without competitors. More than once, on reaching his accustomed stand, he found a rival occupying it before him. In such cases he quietly passed on, and set up his business elsewhere, preferring to monopolize the trade, though the location might not be so good.
Teddy O'Brien did not again enter the field. We left him, at the end of the last chapter, trying to escape from Mike and Jim, who demanded a larger sum than he was willing to pay for their services. He succeeded in escaping with his money, but the next day the two confederates caught him, and Teddy received a black eye as a receipt in full of all demands. So, on the whole, he decided that some other business would suit him better, and resumed the blacking-box, which he had abandoned on embarking in commercial pursuits.
Mike Donovan and Jim Parker were two notoriously bad boys, preferring to make a living in any other way than by honest industry. As some of these ways were not regarded as honest in the sight of the law, each had more than once been sentenced to a term at Blackwell's Island. They made a proposition to Paul to act as decoy ducks for him in the same way as for Teddy. He liked neither of the boys, and did not care to be associated with them. This refusal Mike and Jim resented, and determined to "pay off" Paul if they ever got a chance. Our hero from time to time saw them hovering about him, but took very little notice of them.
He knew that he was a match for either, though Mike exceeded him in size, and he felt quite capable of taking care of himself.
One day Mike and Jim, whose kindred tastes led them to keep company, met at the corner of Liberty and William streets. Mike looked unusually dilapidated. He had had a scuffle the day before with another boy, and his clothes, always well ventilated, got torn in several extra places. As it was very uncertain when he would be in a financial condition to provide himself with another suit, the prospect was rather alarming. Jim Parker looked a shade more respectable in attire, but his face and hands were streaked with blacking. To this, however, Jim had become so accustomed that he would probably have felt uncomfortable with a clean face.
"How are you off for stamps, Jim?" asked Mike.
"Dead broke," was the reply.
"So am I. I ain't had no breakfast."
"Nor I 'cept an apple. Couldn't I eat, though?"
"Suppose we borrow a quarter of Paul Hoffman."
"He wouldn't lend a feller."
"Not if he knowed it," said Mike, significantly.
"What do you mean, Mike?" asked Jim, with some curiosity.
"We'll borrow without leave."
"How'll we do it?"
"I'll tell you," said Mike.
He proceeded to unfold his plan, which was briefly this. The two were to saunter up to where Paul was standing; and remain until the group, if there were any around him should be dispersed. Then one was to pull his hat over his eyes, while the other would snatch the basket containing his prize packages, and run down Liberty street, never stopping until he landed in a certain alley known to both boys. The other would run in a different direction, and both would meet as soon as practicable for the division of the spoils. It was yet so early that Paul could not have sold many from his stock. As each contained a prize, varying from one penny to ten, they would probably realize enough to buy a good breakfast, besides the candy contained in the packages. More money might be obtained by selling packages, but there was risk in this. Besides, it would take time, and they decided that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush.
"That's a good idea," said Jim, approvingly. "Who'll knock his hat over his head?"
"You can," said Mike, "and I'll grab the basket." But to this Jim demurred, for two reasons: first, he was rather afraid of Paul, whose strength of arm he had tested on a previous occasion; and, again, he was afraid that if Mike got off with the basket he would appropriate the lion's share.
"I'll grab the basket," he said.
"What for?" said Mike, suspiciously, for he, too, felt some distrust of his confederate.
"You're stronger'n I am, Mike," said Jim. "Maybe he'd turn on me, and I can't fight him as well as you."
"That's so," said Mike, who had rather a high idea of his own prowess, and felt pleased with the compliment. "I'm a match for him."
"Of course you be," said Jim, artfully, "and he knows it."
"Of course he does," said Mike, boastfully. "I can lick him with one hand."
Jim had serious doubts of this, but he had his reasons for concurring in Mike's estimate of his own powers.
"We'd better start now," said Jim. "I'm awful hungry."
"Come along, then."
They walked up Liberty street, as far as Nassau. On reaching the corner they saw their unconscious victim at his usual place. It was rather a public place for an assault, and both boys would have hesitated had they not been incited by a double motive—the desire of gain and a feeling of hostility.
They sauntered along, and Mike pressed in close by Paul.
"What do you want?" asked Paul, not liking the vicinity.
"What's that to you?" demanded Mike.
"Quit crowdin' me."
"I ain't crowdin'. I've got as much right to be here as you."
"Here's your prize packages!" exclaimed Paul, in a businesslike tone.
"Maybe I'll buy one if you'll give me credit till to-morrow," said Mike.
"Your credit isn't good with me," said Paul. "You must pay cash down."
"Then you won't trust me?" said Mike, pressing a little closer.
"No, I won't," said Paul, decidedly.
"Then, take that, you spalpeen!" said Mike, suddenly pulling Paul's hat over his eyes.
At the same time Jim, to whom he had tipped a wink, snatched the basket, which Paul held loosely in his hand, and disappeared round the corner.
The attack was so sudden and unexpected that Paul was at first bewildered. But he quickly recovered his presence of mind, and saw into the trick. He raised his hat, and darted in pursuit of Mike, not knowing in what direction his basket had gone.
"That's a mean trick!" he exclaimed, indignantly. "Give me back my basket, you thief!"
"I ain't got no basket," said Mike, facing round.
"Then you know where it is."
"I don't know nothin' of your basket."
"You pulled my hat over my eyes on purpose to steal my basket."
"No, I didn't. You insulted me, that's why I did it."
"Tell me where my basket is, or I'll lick you," said Paul, incensed.
"I ain't nothin' to do with your basket."
"Take that, then, for pulling my hat over my eyes," and Paul, suiting the action to the word, dealt Mike a staggering blow in the face.
"I'll murder you!" shouted Mike, furiously, dashing at Paul with a blow which might have leveled him, if he had not fended it off.
Paul was not quarrelsome, but he knew how to fight, and he was prepared now to fight in earnest, indignant as he was at the robbery which entailed upon him a loss he could ill sustain.
"I'll give you all you want," he said, resolutely, eyeing Mike warily, and watching a chance to give him another blow.
The contest was brief, being terminated by the sudden and unwelcome arrival of a policeman.
"What's this?" he asked authoritatively, surveying the combatants; Paul, with his flushed face, and Mike, whose nose was bleeding freely from a successful blow of his adversary.
"He pitched into me for nothin'," said Mike, glaring at Paul, and rubbing his bloody nose on the sleeve of his ragged coat.
"That isn't true," said Paul, excitedly. "He came up while I was selling prize packages of candy in front of the post office, and pulled my hat over my eyes, while another boy grabbed my basket."
"You lie!" said Mike. "I don't know nothin' of your basket."
"Why did you pull his hat over his eyes?" asked the policeman.
"Because he insulted me."
"How did he insult you?"
"He wouldn't trust me till to-morrow."
"I don't blame him much for that," said the policeman, who was aware of Mike's shady reputation, having on a former occasion been under the necessity of arresting him. Even without such acquaintance, Mike's general appearance would hardly have recommended him to Officer Jones.
"I'll let you go this time," he said, "but if I catch you fighting again on my beat I'll march you off to the station-house."
Mike was glad to escape, though he would almost have been willing to be arrested if Paul could have been arrested also.
The officer walked away, and Mike started down the street.
Paul followed him.
That didn't suit Mike's ideas, as he was anxious to meet Jim and divide the spoils with him.
"What are you follerin' me for?" he demanded, angrily.
"I have my reasons," said Paul.
"Then you'd better stay where you are. Your company ain't wanted."
"I know that," said Paul, "but I'm going to follow you till I find my basket."
"What do I know of your basket?"
"That's what I want to find out."
Mike saw, by Paul's resolute tone, that he meant what he said. Desirous of shaking him of, he started on a run.
PAUL AS AN ARTIST
Paul was not slow in following Mike. He was a good runner, and would have had no difficulty in keeping up with his enemy if the streets had been empty. But to thread his way in and out among the numerous foot passengers that thronged the sidewalks was not so easy. He kept up pretty well, however, until, in turning a street corner, he ran at full speed into a very stout gentleman, whose scanty wind was quite knocked out of him by the collision. He glared in anger at Paul, but could not at first obtain breath enough to speak.
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Paul, who, in spite of his desire to overtake Mike, felt it incumbent upon him to stop and offer an apology.
"What do you mean, sir," exploded the fat man, at last, "by tearing through the streets like a locomotive? You've nearly killed me."
"I am very sorry, sir."
"You ought to be. Don't you know better than to run at such speed? You ought to be indicted as a public nuisance.
"I was trying to catch a thief," said Paul.
"Trying to catch a thief? How's that?" asked the stout gentleman, his indignation giving way to curiosity.
"I was selling packages in front of the post office when he and another boy came up and stole my basket."
"Indeed! What were you selling?"
"Prize packages, sir."
"What was in them?"
"Could you make much that way?"
"About a dollar a day."
"I'd rather have given you a dollar than had you run against me with such violence. I feel it yet."
"Indeed, sir, I'm very sorry."
"Well, I'll forgive you, under the circumstances. What's your name?"
"Well, I hope you'll get back your basket. Some time, if you see me in the street, come up and let me know. Would you know me again?"
"I think I should, sir."
"Well, good-morning. I hope you'll catch the thief."
"I thank you, sir."
They parted company, but Paul did not continue the pursuit. The conversation in which he had taken part had lasted so long that Mike had had plenty of time to find a refuge, and there would be no use in following him.
So Paul went home.
"You are home early, Paul," said his mother. "Surely you haven't sold out by this time."
"No, but all my packages are gone."
"How is that?"
"They were stolen."
"Tell me about it."
So Paul told the story.
"That Mike was awful mean," said Jimmy, indignantly. "I'd like to hit him."
"I don't think you would hurt him much, Jimmy," said Paul, amused at his little brother's vehemence.
"Then I wish I was a big, strong boy," said Jimmy.
"I hope you will be, some time."
"How much was your loss, Paul?" asked his mother.
"There were nearly forty packages. They cost me about a dollar, but if I had sold them all they would have brought me in twice as much. I had only sold ten packages."
"Shall you make some more?"
"No, I think not," said Paul. "I've got tired of the business. It's getting poorer every day. I'll go out after dinner, and see if I can't find something else to do."
"You ain't going out now, Paul?" said Jimmy.
"No, I'll stop and see you draw a little while."
"That's bully. I'm going to try these oxen."
"That's a hard picture. I don't think you can draw it, Jimmy."
"Yes, I can," said the little boy, confidently. "Just see if I don't."
"Jimmy has improved a good deal," said his mother.
"You'll be a great artist one of these days, Jimmy," said Paul.
"I'm going to try, Paul," said the little boy. "I like it so much."
Little Jimmy had indeed made surprising progress in drawing. With no instruction whatever, he had succeeded in a very close and accurate imitation of the sketches in the drawing books Paul had purchased for him. It was a great delight to the little boy to draw, and hour after hour, as his mother sat at her work, he sat up to the table, and worked at his drawing, scarcely speaking a word unless spoken to, so absorbed was he in his fascinating employment.
Paul watched him attentively.
"You'll make a bully artist, Jimmy," he said, at length, really surprised at his little brother's proficiency. "If you keep on a little longer, you'll beat me."
"I wish you'd draw something, Paul," said Jimmy. "I never saw any of your drawings."
"I am afraid, if you saw mine, it would discourage you," said Paul. "You know, I'm older and ought to draw better."
His face was serious, but there was a merry twinkle of fun in his eyes.
"Of course, I know you draw better," said Jimmy, seriously.
"What shall I draw?" asked Paul.
"Try this horse, Paul."
"All right!" said Paul. "But you must go away; I don't want you to see it till it is done."
Jimmy left the table, and Paul commenced his attempt. Now, though Paul is the hero of my story, I am bound to confess that he had not the slightest talent for drawing, though Jimmy did not know it. It was only to afford his little brother amusement that he now undertook the task.
Paul worked away for about five minutes.
"It's done," he said.
"So quick?" exclaimed Jimmy, in surprise. "How fast you work!"
He drew near and inspected Paul's drawing. He had no sooner inspected it than he burst into a fit of laughter. Paul's drawing was a very rough one, and such a horse as he had drawn will never probably be seen until the race has greatly degenerated.
"What's the matter, Jimmy?" asked Paul. "Don't you like it?"
"It's awful, Paul," said the little boy, almost choking with mirth.
"I see how it is," said Paul, with feigned resentment. "You're jealous of me because you can't draw as well."
"Oh, Paul, you'll kill me!" and Jimmy again burst into a fit of merriment. "Can't you really draw any better?"
"No, Jimmy," said Paul, joining in the laugh. "I can't draw any better than an old cow. You've got all the talent in the family in that line."
"But you're smart in other ways, Paul," said Jimmy, who had a great admiration of Paul, notwithstanding the discovery of his artistic inferiority.
"I'm glad there's one that thinks so, Jimmy," said Paul. "I'll refer to you when I want a recommendation."
Jimmy resumed his drawing, and was proud of the praises which Paul freely bestowed upon him.
"I'll get you a harder drawing book when you've got through with these," said Paul; "that is, if I don't get reduced to poverty by having my stock in trade stolen again."
After a while came dinner. This meal in Mrs. Hoffman's household usually came at twelve o'clock. It was a plain, frugal meal always, but on Sunday they usually managed to have something a little better, as they had been accustomed to do when Mr. Hoffman was alive.
Paul was soon through.
He took his hat from the bureau, and prepared to go out.
"I'm going out to try my luck, mother," he said. "I'll see if I can't get into something I like a little better than the prize-package business."
"I hope you'll succeed, Paul."
"Better than I did in drawing horses, eh, Jimmy?"
"Yes, I hope so, Paul," said the little boy.
"Don't you show that horse to visitors and pretend it's yours, Jimmy."
"No danger, Paul."
Paul went downstairs and into the street. He had no definite plan in his head, but was ready for anything that might turn up. He did not feel anxious, for he knew there were plenty of ways in which he could earn something. He had never tried blacking boots, but still he could do it in case of emergency. He had sold papers, and succeeded fairly in that line, and knew he could again. He had pitted himself against other boys, and the result had been to give him a certain confidence in his own powers and business abilities. When he had first gone into the street to try his chances there, it had been with a degree of diffidence. But knocking about the streets soon gives a boy confidence, sometimes too much of it; and Paul had learned to rely upon himself; but the influence of a good, though humble home, and a judicious mother, had kept him aloof from the bad habits into which many street boys are led.
So Paul, though his stock in trade had been stolen, and he was obliged to seek a new kind of business, was by no means disheartened. He walked a little way downtown, and then, crossing the City Hall Park, found himself on Broadway.
A little below the Astor House he came to the stand of a sidewalk-merchant, who dealt in neckties. Upon an upright framework hung a great variety of ties of different colors, most of which were sold at the uniform price of twenty-five cents each.
Paul was acquainted with the proprietor of the stand, and, having nothing else to do, determined to stop and speak to him.
A NEW BUSINESS
The proprietor of the necktie stand was a slender, dark-complexioned young man of about twenty-five, or thereabouts.
His name was George Barry. Paul had known him for over a year, and whenever he passed his stand was accustomed to stop and speak with him.
"Well, George, how's business?" asked Paul.
"Fair," said Barry. "That isn't what's the matter."
"What is it, then?"
"I'm sick. I ought not to be out here to-day."
"What's the matter with you?"
"I've caught a bad cold, and feel hot and feverish. I ought to be at home and abed."
"Why don't you go?"
"I can't leave my business."
"It's better to do that than to get a bad sickness."
"I suppose it is. I am afraid I am going to have a fever. One minute I'm hot, another I'm cold. But I can't afford to close up my business."
"Why don't you get somebody to take your place?"
"I don't know anybody I could get that I could trust. They'd sell my goods, and make off with the money."
"Can you trust me?" asked Paul, who saw a chance to benefit himself as well as his friend.
"Yes, Paul, I could trust you, but I'm afraid I couldn't pay you enough to make it worth while for you to stand here."
"I haven't got anything to do just now," said Paul. "I was in the prize-package business, but two fellows stole my stock in trade, and I'm not going into it again. It's about played out. I'm your man. Just make me an offer."
"I should like to have you take my place for a day or two, for I know you wouldn't cheat me."
"You may be sure of that."
"I am sure. I know you are an honest boy, Paul. But I don't know what to offer you."
"How many neckties do you sell a day?" asked Paul, in a businesslike tone.
"About a dozen on an average."
"And how much profit do you make?"
"It's half profit."
Paul made a short calculation. Twelve neckties at twenty-five cents each would bring three dollars. Half of this was a dollar and a half.
"I'll take your place for half profits," he said.
"That's fair," said George Barry. "I'll accept your offer. Can you begin now?"
"Then I'll go home and go to bed. It's the best place for me."
"You'd better. I'll come round after closing up, and hand over the money."
"All right! You know where I live?"
"I'm not sure."
"No. — Bleecker street."
"I'll come up this evening."
George Barry walked away, leaving Paul in charge of his business.
He did so with perfect confidence. Not every boy in Paul's circumstances can be trusted, but he felt sure that Paul would do the right thing by him.
I may as well say, in this connection, that George Barry had a mother living. They occupied two rooms in a lodging-house in Bleecker street, and lived very comfortably. Mrs. Barry had an allowance of two hundred dollars a year from a relation. This, with what she earned by sewing, and her son by his stand, supported them very comfortably, especially as they provided and cooked their own food, which was, of course, much cheaper than boarding. Still, the loss of the young man's earnings, even for a short time, would have been felt, though they had a reserve of a hundred dollars in a savings bank, from which they might draw if necessary. But George did not like to do this. The arrangement which he made with Paul was a satisfactory one, for with half his usual earnings they would still be able to keep out of debt, and not be compelled to draw upon the fund in the bank. Of course, something depended on Paul's success as a salesman, but he would not be likely to fall much below the average amount of sales. So, on the whole, George Barry went home considerably relieved in mind, though his head was throbbing, and he felt decidedly sick.
Arrived at home, his mother, who understood sickness, at once took measures to relieve him.
"Don't mind the loss of a few days, George," she said, cheerfully; "we shall be able to get along very well."
"It'll only be part loss, mother," he said. "I've got Paul Hoffman to take my place for half the profits."
"Paul Hoffman! Do I know him?"
"I don't think he has ever been here but I have known him for a year."
"Can you trust him?"
"Yes, I'm not at all afraid. He is a smart boy, and as honest as he is smart. I think he will sell nearly as much as I would."
"That is an excellent arrangement. You needn't feel uneasy, then."
"No, the business will go on right."
"I should like to see your salesman."
"You'll see him to-night, mother. He's coming round this evening to let me know how he's got along, and hand over the money he's taken."
"You'd better be quiet now, George, and go to sleep, if you can. I'll make you some warm tea. I think it'll do you good."
Meanwhile Paul assumed charge of George Barry's business. He was sorry his friend was sick, but he congratulated himself on getting into business so soon.
"It's more respectable than selling prize packages," thought Paul. "I wish I had a stand of my own."
He was still a street merchant, but among street merchants there are grades as well as among merchants whose claim to higher respectability rests upon having rent to pay. Paul felt that it was almost like having a shop of his own. He had always looked up to George Barry as standing higher than himself in a business way, and he felt that even if his earnings should not be as great, that it was a step upward to have sole charge of his stand, if only for a day or two.
Paul's ambition was aroused. It was for his interest to make as large sales as possible. Besides, he thought he would like to prove to George Barry that he had made a good selection in appointing him his substitute.
Now, if the truth must be told, George Barry himself was not possessed of superior business ability. He was lacking in energy and push. He could sell neckties to those who asked for them, but had no particular talent for attracting trade. He would have been a fair clerk, but was never likely to rise above a very moderate success. Paul was quite different. He was quick, enterprising, and smart. He was a boy likely to push his way to success unless circumstances were very much against him.
"I'd like to sell more than George Barry," he said to himself. "I don't know if I can, but I'm going to try."
The day was half over, and probably the most profitable, so far as business was concerned. Paul had only four or five hours left.
"Let me see," he said to himself. "I ought to sell six neckties to come up to the average of half a day's sale. I wonder whether I can do it."
As his soliloquy ended, his quick eye detected a young man glancing at his stock, and he observed that he paused irresolutely, as if half inclined to purchase.
"Can't I sell you a necktie to-day?" asked Paul, promptly.
"I don't know," said the other. "What do you charge?"
"You can have your choice for twenty-five cents. That is cheap, isn't it?"
"Yes, that's cheap. Let me look at them."
"Here's one that will suit your complexion," said Paul.
"Yes, that's a pretty one. I think I'll take it."
"You have to pay twice as much in the shops," continued Paul, as he rolled it up. "You see, we have no rent to pay, and so we can sell cheap. You'll save money by always buying your neckties here."
"The only objection to that is that I don't live in the city. I am here only for a day. I live about fifty miles in the country."
"Then I'll tell you what you'd better do," said Paul. "Lay in half a dozen, while you are about it. It'll only be a dollar and a half, and you'll save as much as that by doing it."
"I don't know but you are right," said his customer, whom the suggestion impressed favorably. "As you say, it's only a dollar and a half, and it'll give me a good stock."
"Let me pick them out for you," said Paul, briskly, "unless there's something you see yourself."
"I like that one."
"All right. What shall be the next?"
Finally, the young man selected the entire half-dozen, and deposited a dollar and a half in Paul's hands.
"Come and see me again," said Paul, "and if you have any friends coming to the city, send them to me."
"I will," said the other.
"Tell them it's the first stand south of the Astor House. Then they won't miss it."
"That's a good beginning," said Paul to himself, with satisfaction. "Half a day's average sales already, and I've only been here fifteen minutes. Let me see, what will my profits be on that? Three shillings, I declare. That isn't bad, now!"
Paul had reason to be satisfied with himself. If he had not spoken, the young man would very probably have gone on without purchasing at all, or, at any rate, remained content with a single necktie. Paul's manner and timely word had increased his purchase sixfold. That is generally the difference between a poor salesman and one of the first class. Anybody can sell to those who are anxious to buy; but it takes a smart man to persuade a customer that he wants what otherwise he would go without. The difference in success is generally appreciated by dealers, and a superior salesman is generally paid a handsome salary.
"I don't believe George Barry would have sold that man so many ties," thought Paul. "I hope I shall have as good luck next time."
But this, of course, was not to be expected. It is not every customer who can be persuaded to buy half-a-dozen ties, even by the most eloquent salesman. However, in the course of an hour more, Paul had sold three more to single customers. Then came a man who bought two. Then there was a lull, and for an hour Paul sold none at all. But business improved a little toward the close of the afternoon, and when it was time to close up, our young merchant found that he had disposed of fifteen.
"My share of the profits will be ninety-three cents," thought Paul, with satisfaction. "That isn't bad for an afternoon's work."
A STROKE OF ILL LUCK
Paul transferred his frame of goods to a neighboring office at the end of the afternoon, the arrangement having been made by George Barry, on first entering into business as a street merchant. This saved a good deal of trouble, as otherwise he would have been compelled to carry them home every night and bring them back in the morning.
"Well, Paul," asked his mother, when he returned to supper, "have you found anything to do yet?"
"I have got employment for a few days," said Paul, "to tend a necktie stand. The man that keeps it is sick."
"How much does he pay you, Paul?" asked Jimmy.
"Half the profits. How much do you think I have made this afternoon?"
"What do you say to ninety-three cents? Just look at this," and Paul displayed his earnings.
"That is excellent."
"I had good luck. Generally, I shan't make more in a whole day than this."
"That will be doing very well."
"But I shall make more, if I can. One fellow bought six neckties of me this afternoon. I wish everybody would do that. Now, mother, I hope supper is most ready, for selling neckties has made me hungry."
"Almost ready, Paul."
It was a humble meal, but a good one. There were fresh rolls and butter, tea and some cold meat. That was all; but the cloth was clean, and everything looked neat. All did justice to the plain meal, and never thought of envying the thousands who, in their rich uptown mansions, were sitting down at the same hour to elaborate dinners costing more than their entire week's board.
"Are you going out, Paul?" asked Mrs. Hoffman, noticing that he took his hat.
"Yes, I must go and see George Barry, and carry the money I have received for sales."
"Where does he live?"
"In Bleecker street. I shan't be gone long."
Paul reached the number which had been given him. It was a large, four-story house, with the appearance of a barracks.
"Mr. Barry," said the servant, in answer to his question—"he lives upstairs on the fourth floor. Room on the right."
Paul plodded his way upstairs, and found the room without difficulty.
On knocking, the door was opened by Mrs. Barry, who looked at him inquiringly.
"Does George Barry live here?" asked Paul.
"Yes. Are you the one he left in charge of his business?"
Paul answered in the affirmative, adding, "How is he?"
"He seems quite feverish. I am afraid he is going to have a fever. It's fortunate he came home. He was not able to attend to his business."
"Can I see him?"
"Come in," said Mrs. Barry.
The room was covered with a worn carpet, but looked neat and comfortable. There was a cheap sewing-machine in one corner, and some plain furniture. There was a bedroom opening out of this room, and here it was that George Barry lay upon the bed.
"Is that Paul Hoffman, mother?" was heard from the bedroom.
"Yes," said Paul, answering for himself.
"Go in, if you like," said Mrs. Barry. "My son wishes to see you.
"How do you feel now, George?" asked Paul.
"Not very well, Paul. I didn't give up a minute too soon. I think I am going to have a fever."
"That is not comfortable," said Paul. "Still, you have your mother to take care of you."
"I don't know how I should get along without her. Can you look after my business as long as I am sick?"
"Yes; I have nothing else to do."
"Then that is off my mind. By the way, how many ties did you sell this afternoon?"
"What!" demanded Barry, in surprise. "You sold fifteen?"
"Why, I never sold so many as that in an afternoon."
"Didn't you?" said Paul, gratified. "Then you think I did well?"
"Splendidly. How did you do it?"
"You see, there was a young man from the country that I persuaded to buy six, as he could not get them so cheap at home. That was my first sale, and it encouraged me."
"I didn't think you'd sell more than six in the whole afternoon."
"Nor did I, when I started; but I determined to do my best. I don't expect to do as well every day."
"No, of course not. I've been in the business more than a year; and I know what it is. Some days are very dull."
"I've got the money for you. The fifteen ties came to three dollars and seventy-five cents. I keep one-fourth of this as my commission. That leaves two dollars and eighty-two cents."
"Quite correct. However, you needn't give me the money. You may need to change a bill, or else lose a sale. It will do if you settle with me at the end of the week."
"I see you have confidence in me, George. Suppose I should take a fancy to run away with the money?"
"I am not afraid."
"If I do, I will give you warning a week beforehand."
After a little more conversation, Paul withdrew, thinking he might worry the sick man. He offered to come up the next evening, but George Barry said, "It would be too much to expect you to come up every evening. I shall be satisfied if you come up every other evening."
"Very well," said Paul. "Then you may expect me Saturday. I hope I shall have some good sales to report, and that I shall find you better."
Paul descended to the street, and walked slowly homeward. He couldn't help wishing that the stand was his own, and the entire profits his. This would double his income, and enable him to save up money. At present this was hardly possible. His own earnings had been, and were likely to continue, very fluctuating.
Still, they constituted the main support of the family. His mother made shirts for an establishment on Broadway at twenty-five cents each, which was more than some establishments paid. She could hardly average more than one shirt a day, in addition to her household work, and in order to accomplish this, even, she was obliged to work very steadily all day. Jimmy, of course, earned nothing. Not that he was too young. There were plenty of little newsboys who were as small as he—perhaps smaller. I have seen boys, who did not appear to be more than four years old, standing at the corners, crying the news in their childish treble. But Paul was not willing to have Jimmy sent out into the streets to undergo the rough discipline of street life. He was himself of a strong, robust nature, and did not shrink from the rough and tumble of life. He felt sure he could make his way, and give as well as receive blows. But Jimmy was shy and retiring, of a timid, shrinking nature, who would suffer from what would only exhilarate Paul, and brace him for the contest. So it was understood that Jimmy was to get an education, studying at present at home with his mother, who had received a good education, and that Mrs. Hoffman and Paul were to be the breadwinners. "I wish mother didn't have to sit so steadily at her work," thought Paul, many a time. He resolved some time to relieve her from the necessity; but at present it was impossible.
To maintain their small family in comfort required all that both could earn.
The next morning Paul started out after breakfast for the street stand, wondering what success he was destined to meet with.
About the middle of the forenoon Mrs. Hoffman prepared to go out.
"Do you think you can stay alone for an hour or two, Jimmy?" she asked.
"Yes, mother," answered Jimmy, who was deep in a picture which he was copying from one of the drawing-books Paul had bought him. "Where are you going mother?"
"To carry back some work, Jimmy. I have got half-a-dozen shirts done, and must return them, and ask for more."
"They ought to pay you more than twenty-five cents apiece, mother. How long has it taken you to make them?"
"Nearly a week."
"That is only a dollar and a half for a week's work."
"I know it, Jimmy; but they can get plenty to work at that price, so it won't do for me to complain. I shall be very glad if I can get steady work, even at that price."
Jimmy said no more, and Mrs. Hoffman, gathering up her bundle, went out.
She had a little more than half a mile to go. This did not require long. She entered the large door, and advanced to the counter behind which stood a clerk with a pen behind his ear.
"How many?" he said, as she laid the bundle upon the counter.
"Correct. I will look at them."
He opened the bundle hastily, and surveyed the work critically. Luckily there was no fault to find, for Mrs. Hoffman was a skillful seamstress.
"They will do," he said, and, taking from a drawer the stipulated sum, paid for them.
"Can I have some more?" asked Mrs. Hoffman, anxiously.
"Not to-day. We're overstocked with goods made up. We must contract our manufacture."
This was unexpected, and carried dismay to the heart of the poor woman. What she could earn was very little but it was important to her.
"When do you think you can give me some more work?" she asked.
"It may be a month or six weeks," he answered, carelessly.
A month or six weeks! To have her supply of work cut off for so long a time would, indeed, be a dire misfortune. But there was nothing to say. Mrs. Hoffman knew very well that no one in the establishment cared for her necessities. So, with a heavy heart, she started for home, making up her mind to look elsewhere for work in the afternoon. She could not help recalling, with sorrow, the time when her husband was living, and they lived in a pleasant little home, before the shadow of bereavement and pecuniary anxiety had come to cloud their happiness. Still, she was not utterly cast down. Paul had proved himself a manly and a helpful boy, self-reliant and courageous, and, though they might be pinched, she knew that as long as he was able to work they would not actually suffer.
A NEW PATRON
Mrs. Hoffman went out in the afternoon, and visited several large establishments in the hope of obtaining work. But everywhere she was met with the stereotyped reply, "Business is so dull that we are obliged to turn off some who are accustomed to work for us. We have no room for new hands."
Finally she decided that it would be of no use to make any further applications, and went home, feeling considerably disheartened.
"I must find something to do," she said to herself. "I cannot throw upon Paul the entire burden of supporting the family."
But it was not easy to decide what to do. There are so few paths open to a woman like Mrs. Hoffman. She was not strong enough to take in washing, nor, if she had been, would Paul, who was proud for his mother, though not for himself, have consented to her doing it. She determined to think it over during the evening, and make another attempt to get work of some kind the next day.
"I won't tell Paul till to-morrow night," she decided. "Perhaps by that time I shall have found something to do."
All that day, the first full day in his new business, Paul sold eighteen ties. He was not as successful proportionately as the previous afternoon. Still his share of the profits amounted to a dollar and twelve cents, and he felt quite satisfied. His sales had been fifty per cent. more than George Barry's average sales, and that was doing remarkably well, considering that the business was a new one to him.
The next morning about ten o'clock, as he stood behind his stand, he saw a stout gentleman approaching from the direction of the Astor House. He remembered him as the one with whom he had accidentally come in collision when he was in pursuit of Mike Donovan. Having been invited to speak to him, he determined to do so.
"Good-morning, sir," said Paul, politely.
"Eh? Did you speak to me?" inquired the stout gentleman.
"Yes, sir; I bade you good-morning."
"Good-morning. I don't remember you, though. What's your name?"
"Paul Hoffman. Don't you remember my running against you a day or two since?"
"Oho! you're the boy, then. You nearly knocked the breath out of me."
"I am very sorry, sir."
"Of course you didn't mean to. Is this your stand?"
"No, sir; I am tending for the owner, who is sick."
"Does he pay you well?"
"He gives me half the profits."
"And does that pay you for your labor?"
"I can earn about a dollar a day."
"That is good. It is more than I earned when I was of your age."
"Yes; I was a poor boy, but I kept steadily at work, and now I am rich."
"I hope I shall be rich some time," said Paul.
"You have the same chance that I had."
"I don't care so much for myself as for my mother and my little brother. I should like to become rich for their sake."
"So you have a mother and a brother. Where do they live?"
Paul told him.
"And you help support them?"
"That's a good boy," said the gentleman, approvingly. "Is your mother able to earn anything?"
"Not much, sir. She makes shirts for a Broadway store, but they only pay her twenty-five cents apiece."
"That's very small. She can sew well, I suppose?"
"Oh, yes, sir; no fault is ever found with her work."
"Do you think she would make me a dozen shirts?"
"She would be glad to do so," said Paul, quickly, for he knew that his new acquaintance would pay far more liberally than the Broadway firm.
"I will give the price I usually pay—ten shillings apiece."
Ten shillings in New York currency amount to a dollar and a quarter, which would be five times the price Mrs Hoffman had been accustomed to receive. A dozen shirts would come to fifteen dollars, which to a family in their circumstances would be a great help.
"Thank you, sir," said Paul. "My mother will accept the work thankfully, and will try to suit you. When shall I come for the cloth?"
"You may come to my house this evening, and I will give you a pattern, and an order for the materials on a dry goods dealer in Broadway."
"Where do you live, sir?"
"No. —— Madison avenue, between Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth streets. My name is Preston. Can you remember it?"
"Yes, sir; but I will put it down to make sure."
"Good-morning, sir. I suppose you don't want a tie this morning?"
"I don't think you keep the kind I am accustomed to wear," said Mr. Preston, smiling. "I stick to the old fashions, and wear a stock."
The old gentleman had scarcely gone, when two boys of twelve or thirteen paused before the stand.
"That's a bully tie, Jeff!" said George, the elder of the two. "I have a good mind to buy it."
"It won't cost much," said Jeff. "Only twenty-five cents. But I like that one better."
"If you buy one, I will."
"All right," said Jeff, whose full name was Jefferson. "We can wear them to dancing-school this afternoon."
So the two boys bought a necktie, and this, in addition to previous sales, made six sold during the morning.
"I hope I shall do as well as I did yesterday," thought Paul. "If I can make nine shillings every day I won't complain. It is better than selling prize-packages."
Paul seemed likely to obtain his wish, since at twelve o'clock, when he returned home to dinner, he had sold ten ties, making rather more than half of the previous day's sales.
Mrs. Hoffman had been out once more, but met with no better success than before. There seemed to be no room anywhere for a new hand. At several places she had seen others, out of employment like herself, who were also in quest of work. The only encouragement she received was that probably in a month or six weeks business might so far improve that she could obtain work. But to Mrs. Hoffman it was a serious matter to remain idle even four weeks. She reflected that Paul's present employment was only temporary, and that he would be forced to give up his post as soon as George Barry should recover his health, which probably would be within a week or two. She tried in vain to think of some temporary employment, and determined, in case she should be unsuccessful in the afternoon, which she hardly anticipated, to consult Paul what she had better do.
Paul noticed when he came in that his mother looked more sober and thoughtful than usual.
"Have you a headache, mother?" he inquired.
"No, Paul," she said, smiling faintly.
"Something troubles you, I am sure," continued Paul.
"You are right, Paul," said Mrs. Hoffman, "though I didn't mean to tell you till evening."
"What is it?" asked Paul, anxiously.
"When I carried back the last shirts I made for Duncan & Co., they told me I couldn't have any more for a month or six weeks."
"That will give you some time to rest, mother," said Paul, who wanted to keep back his good news for a while.
"But I can't afford to rest, Paul."
"You forget that I am earning money, mother. I am sure I can earn a dollar a day."
"I know you are a good, industrious boy, Paul, and I don't know how we should get along without you. But it is necessary for me to do my part, though it is small."
"Don't be anxious, mother; I am sure we can get along."
"But I am not willing that the whole burden of supporting the family should come upon you. Besides, you are not sure how long you can retain your present employment."
"I know that, mother; but something else will be sure to turn up. If I can't do anything else, I can turn bootblack, though I would prefer something else. There is no chance of my being out of work long."
"There are fewer things for me to do," said his mother, "but perhaps you can think of something. I shall go out this afternoon, and try my luck once more. If I do not succeed, I will consult with you this evening."
"Suppose I tell you that I have work for you, enough to last for two or three weeks, that will pay five times as well as the work you have been doing; what would you say to that?" asked Paul, smiling.
"Are you in earnest, Paul?" asked his mother, very much surprised.
"Quite in earnest, mother. There's a gentleman up-town that wants a dozen shirts made, and is willing to pay ten shillings apiece."
"Ten shillings! Why, that's a dollar and a quarter."
"Of course it is. I told him I thought you would accommodate him."
"You are sure I can get the work to do?"
"Certainly. I am to go up to his house this evening and get the pattern and an order for the materials."
"It seems too good to be true," said his mother. "Why, I can earn at least a dollar a day."
"Then you will be doing as well as I am."
"Tell me how you heard of it, Paul," said Mrs. Hoffman.
Paul told the story of the manner in which he formed Mr. Preston's acquaintance.
"It's lucky you ran into him, Paul," said Jimmy.
"He didn't think so at the time," said Paul, laughing. "He said I nearly knocked the breath out of him."
"You won't go out this afternoon, mother, will you?" asked Jimmy.
"No, it will not be necessary now; I didn't think this morning that such a piece of good luck was in store for, me."
After supper Paul brushed his clothes carefully and prepared to go to the address given him by Mr. Preston. He decided to walk one way, not wishing to incur the expenses of two railroad fares.
The distance was considerable, and it was nearly eight o'clock when he arrived at his destination.
Paul found himself standing before a handsome house of brown stone. He ascended the steps, and inquired, on the door being opened, if Mr. Preston was at home.
"I'll see," said the servant.
She returned in a short time, and said: "He says you may come upstairs."
Paul followed the servant, who pointed out a door at the head of the first staircase.
Paul knocked, and, hearing "Come in" from within, he opened the door and entered.
He found himself in a spacious chamber, handsomely furnished. Mr. Preston, in dressing-gown and slippers, sat before a cheerful, open fire.
"Come and sit down by the fire," he said, sociably.
"Thank you, sir, I am warm with walking," and Paul took a seat near the door.
"I am one of the cold kind," said Mr. Preston, "and have a fire earlier than most people. You come about the shirts, I suppose?"
"Will your mother undertake them?"
"With pleasure, sir. She can no longer get work from the shop."
"Business dull, I suppose?"
"Then I am glad I thought of giving her the commission. How's business with you to-day, eh?"
"Pretty good, sir."
"How many neckties did you sell?"
"And how much do you get for that?"
"Nine shillings and a half—a dollar and eighteen cents."
"That's pretty good for a boy like you. When I was of your age I was working on a farm for my board and clothes."
"Were you, sir?" asked Paul, interested.
"Yes, I was bound out till I was twenty-one. At the end of that time I was to receive a hundred dollars and a freedom suit to begin the world with. That wasn't a very large capital, eh?"
"But the death of my employer put an end to my apprenticeship at the age of eighteen. I hadn't a penny of money and was thrown upon my own resources. However, I had a pair of good strong arms, and a good stock of courage. I knew considerable about farming, but I didn't like it. I thought I should like trade better. So I went to the village merchant, who kept a small dry-goods store, and arranged with him to supply me with a small stock of goods, which I undertook to sell on commission for him. His business was limited, and having confidence in my honesty, he was quite willing to intrust me with what I wanted. So I set out with my pack on my back and made a tour of the neighboring villages."
Paul listened with eager interest. He had his own way to make, and it was very encouraging to find that Mr. Preston, who was evidently rich and prosperous, was no better off at eighteen than he was now.
"You will want to know how I succeeded. Well, at first only moderately; but I think I had some tact in adapting myself to the different classes of persons with whom I came in contact; at any rate, I was always polite, and that helped me. So my sales increased, and I did a good thing for my employer as well as myself. He would have been glad to employ me for a series of years, but I happened to meet a traveling salesman of a New York wholesale house, who offered to obtain me a position similar to his own. As this would give me a larger field and larger profits, I accepted gladly, and so changed the nature of my employment. I became very successful. My salary was raised from time to time, till it reached five thousand dollars. I lived frugally and saved money, and at length bought an interest in the house by which I had been so long employed. I am now senior partner, and, as you may suppose, very comfortably provided for.
"Do you know why I have told you this?" asked Mr. Preston, noticing the eagerness with which Paul had listened.
"I don't know, sir; but I have been very much interested."
"It is because I like to give encouragement to boys and young men who are now situated as I used to be. I think you are a smart boy."
"Thank you, sir."
"And, though you are poor, you can lift yourself to prosperity, if you are willing to work hard enough and long enough."
"I am not afraid of work," said Paul, promptly.
"No, I do not believe you are. I can tell by a boy's face, and you have the appearance of one who is willing to work hard. How long have you been a street peddler?"
"About a year, sir. Before that time my father was living, and I was kept at school."
"You will find the street a school, though of a different kind, in which you can learn valuable lessons. If you can get time in the evening, however, it will be best to keep up your school studies."
"I am doing that now, sir."
"That is well. And now, about the shirts. Did your mother say how long it would take her to make them?"
"About three weeks, I think, sir. Will that be soon enough?"
"That will do. Perhaps it will be well, however, to bring half the number whenever they are finished."
"All right, sir."
"I suppose your mother can cut them out if I send a shirt as a pattern?"
Mr. Preston rose, and, going to a bureau, took therefrom a shirt which he handed to Paul. He then wrote a few lines on a slip of paper, which he also handed our hero.
"That is an order on Barclay & Co.," he explained, "for the requisite materials. If either you or your mother presents it, they will be given you."
"Very good, sir," said Paul.
He took his cap, and prepared to go.
"Good-evening, Mr. Preston," he said.
"Good-evening. I shall expect you with the shirts when they are ready."
Paul went downstairs and into the street, thinking that Mr. Preston was very sociable and agreeable. He had fancied that rich men were generally "stuck up," but about Mr. Preston there seemed an absence of all pretense. Paul's ambition was aroused when he thought of the story he had heard, and he wondered whether it would be possible for him to raise himself to wealth and live in as handsome a house as Mr. Preston. He thought what a satisfaction it would be if the time should ever come when he could free his mother from the necessity of work, and give little Jimmy a chance to develop his talent for drawing. However, such success must be a long way off, if it ever came.
He had intended to ride home, but his mind was so preoccupied that he forgot all about it, and had got some distance on his way before it occurred to him. Then, not feeling particularly tired, he concluded to keep on walking, as he had commenced.
"It will save me six cents," he reflected, "and that is something. If I am ever going to be a prosperous merchant, I must begin to save now."
So he kept on walking. Passing the Cooper Institute, he came into the Bowery, a broad and busy street, the humble neighbor of Broadway, to which it is nearly parallel.
He was still engaged in earnest thought, when he felt a rude slap on the back. Looking round, he met the malicious glance of Mike Donovan, who probably would not have ventured on such a liberty if he had not been accompanied by a boy a head taller than himself, and, to judge from appearances, of about the same character.
"What did you do that for, Mike?" demanded Paul.
"None of your business. I didn't hurt you, did I?" returned Mike, roughly.
"No, but I don't care to be hit that way by you."
"So you're putting on airs, are you?"
"No, I don't do that," returned Paul; "but I don't care about having anything to do with you."
"That's because you've got a new shirt, is it?" sneered Mike.
"It isn't mine."
"That's what I thought. Who did you steal it from?"
"Do you mean to insult me, Mike Donovan?" demanded Paul, angrily.
"Just as you like," said Mike, independently.
"If you want to know why I don't want to have anything to do with you, I will tell you."
"Because you're a thief."
"If you say that again, I'll lick you," said Mike, reddening with anger.
"It's true. You stole my basket of candy the other day, and that isn't the only time you've been caught stealing."
"I'll give you the worst licking you ever had. Do you want to fight?" said Mike, flourishing his fist.