RICHARD DARE'S VENTURE
STRIKING OUT FOR HIMSELF
BY EDWARD STRATEMEYER Author of Oliver Bright's Search, To Alaska For Gold, The Last Cruise Of The Spitfire, Shorthand Tom, Etc.
PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION.
"Richard Dare's Venture," although a complete story in itself, forms the initial volume of the "Bound to Succeed" Series, a line of books written primarily for boys, but which it would seem not only girls but also persons of mature age have taken up with more or less interest.
The story relates the adventures of a country youth who comes to New York to seek his fortune, just as many country lads have done in the past and many are likely to do in the future. Richard feels that there is nothing for him to do in the sleepy village in which he resides, and that he must "strike out for himself," and he does so, with no cash capital to speak of, but with plenty of true American backbone, and with the firm conviction that if he does his duty as he finds it, and watches his chances, he will be sure to make a place for himself.
Richard finds life in the metropolis no bed of roses, and when he at length gains a footing he is confronted by many a snare and pitfall. But, thanks to the Christian teachings of the best of mothers, and his natural uprightness of character, he escapes these evils, and gives a practical teaching of the Biblical admonition of "returning evil with good."
When the first edition of this work was placed on the market several years ago, the author had hoped that it would receive some notice; but he was hardly prepared for the warm reception which readers and critics alike all over the country accorded it. For this enthusiasm he is profoundly grateful. The street scenes in New York have been particularly commended; the author would add that these are not fictitious, but are taken from life.
NEWARK, N.J., March 1, 1899.
I. A Serious Accident
II. Bitter Moments
III. Preparing to Start
IV. On the Train
V. The Smash-up
VI. Under Suspicion
VII. The End of the Journey
VIII. The "Watch Below"
IX. Locked Out
X. The First Night in New York
XII. On the Search
XIII. Richard Calls on Mr. Joyce
XIV. Work Obtained
XV. New Quarters
XVII. Getting Acquainted
XVIII. A Strange Situation
XIX. The Laurel Club
XX. Trouble Brewing
XXI. Richard in Trouble
XXII. Richard Visits Mr. Joyce Again
XXIII. Strange Discoveries
XXIV. Pep's Home
XXV. Tom Clover
XXVI. A Scene in the Stock-room
XXVII. A Fire and its Result
XXVIII. A Lucky Resolve
XXIX. Frank's Idea
XXX. Mr. Martin's Clerks
XXXI. Tom Clover's Statement
XXXII. The Firm of Massanet and Dare
A SERIOUS ACCIDENT.
"It is high time, mother, that I found something to do. Father seems to be worse, and I'm afraid before long he won't be able to go to work every day. Ever since I finished schooling I've felt like a fish out of water."
And stowing away the remainder of the slice of bread he was eating, Richard Dare leaned back in his chair and gazed inquiringly across the breakfast-table to where his mother stood, ready to clear away the dishes when he had finished his meal.
"I'm sure you have been busy enough, Richard," responded Mrs. Dare fondly. "I am well satisfied with the way you have planted the garden; and no carpenter could have made a neater job of the front fence. You haven't wasted your time."
"Oh, I don't mean that. Fixing up around the house is well enough. But I mean some regular work—some position where I could bring home my weekly wages. I know it would be a big help all around. It takes a heap of money to run a family of three girls and a growing boy."
Mrs. Dare smiled sadly.
"What do you know about that?" she asked. "We all have enough to eat and drink, and our own roof over our heads."
"Yes, but I know that my dear mother sits up sewing sometimes long after we have gone to bed, so that our clothing may be cared for, and I know that she hasn't had a new dress in a year, though she deserves a dozen," added Richard heartily.
"I haven't much use for a new dress—I go out so little," said his mother. "But what kind of work do you wish to get?"
"Oh, anything that pays. I'm not particular, so long as it's honest.
"I'm afraid you will find but few chances in Mossvale. Times are dull here—ever since the hat factory moved away. I guess the stores have all the help they want. You might get a place on one of the farms."
"I don't think any farmer would pay much besides my board," replied the boy. "I've got another plan," he continued, with some hesitation.
"And what is that?"
"To try my luck in New York. There ought to be room enough for me in such a big city."
"New York!" exclaimed Mrs. Dare, in astonishment. "Why, you have never been there in your whole life!"
"I know it, but I've read the papers pretty well, and I wouldn't be afraid but what I could get along first rate."
Mrs. Dare shook her head doubtfully.
"It is almost impossible to get a footing there," she declared. "When we were first married your father struggled hard enough, both there and in Brooklyn, but somehow, he didn't seem to make it go, and so we moved here. Everything rushes in the city, and unless you have some one to speak for you no one will give you a chance."
"I would take the first thing that came to hand, no matter what it paid, and then watch for something better."
"It might be that you would have luck," said Mrs. Dare reflectively. "I don't like to discourage you. Still—"
"You wouldn't like to see me go away and then fail, is that it?"
"Yes. Failures at the start of life often influence all the after years. Suppose you have a talk with your father about this."
"I thought I'd speak to you first, mother. I wanted to know if you would be willing to let me go."
"If your father thinks it best, I shall be satisfied, Richard. Of course, I will miss you."
"I know that, mother," returned Richard rising. "But then I could come home once in a while. The city is not so very far away."
The plan of "striking out" had been in Richard Dare's mind for several months. The country school at Mossvale had closed for the season early in the spring—so as to allow the farmer boys to do their work, and Richard was satisfied that he had about learned all that Mr. Parsons, the pedagogue, was able or willing to teach, and saw no good reason for his returning in the fall. He would have liked to continue his studies, but there was only one other institute of learning in the neighborhood—a boarding academy, where the rates for tuition were high, and to this he well knew his parents could not afford to send him.
Mr. Dare was by trade a house painter and decorator. When a young man he had served three years in the army, during the great rebellion, from which he had come away with a bullet in his shoulder, and a strong tendency towards chronic rheumatism. Shortly after he had married, and now, twenty years later, his family included four children, of which Richard, age sixteen, was next to the oldest.
Mr. Dare was a steady, sober man, who disliked excitement, and the quiet plodding along in Mossvale just suited him. He was only a journeyman, and it is doubtful if his ambition had ever risen beyond his present station. By frugality he and his wife had saved enough to buy a half acre of land in this pretty New Jersey village, on which they had erected a neat cottage, and here apparently John Dare was content to spend the remainder of his life.
But Richard Dare partook of but little of his father's retiring disposition. He was a bright, active boy, with a clear heart and brain, and he longed to get at some work where energy would be the road to success. His comprehension was rapid, and beneath an outwardly calm spirit, lurked the fire of a youth well trained to grapple with noble purposes and bring them to a successful issue.
Richard's desire to go to the metropolis was a natural one. There was nothing in quiet Mossvale to entice any one with push to remain there. The entire population of the district did not number three hundred people, and the only business places were three general stores, a blacksmith shop and a cross-roads hotel.
A number of years previous, Mr. Dixon Maillard, a rich man from Newark, had endeavored to boom the village by starting a hat factory there, then trying to make his employees buy houses and lots from him on the installment plan, but this scheme had fallen flat, and the factory plant was removed to a more promising locality.
The Dare cottage stood some little distance from the village center. As Mrs. Dare had said, Richard had the garden in excellent condition, not only the larger portion devoted to the vegetables and small fruits, but also the front part, in which were planted a great variety of flowers in which his mother took keen delight.
"Is father coming home to dinner to-day?" asked Richard, a little later on, as he entered the kitchen with a pail of water which Nancy, the oldest of his three sisters, had asked him to draw from the well.
"I guess not," replied the girl. "His rheumatism hurt him so much he said he might not be able to walk from Dr. Melvin's new house."
"Ma put up his dinner," put in Grace, the second oldest.
"Then he won't be back," returned Richard, somewhat disappointed, for he had been calculating on broaching the subject of going to New York to his father after the midday meal.
"He said his shoulder hurt him awfully last night," added Grace. "I heard him tell ma he could almost feel the bullet worrying him in the flesh."
"It's mighty queer he doesn't get a pension," said Nancy. "I'm sure he deserves one. Didn't he ever apply, Dick? I read in a Philadelphia paper the other day about a man getting sixteen dollars a month allowed, and a whole lot of back pay—more than two or three thousand dollars!"
"Two or three thousand dollars!" cried Grace. "Oh, Nancy, it's a fortune!"
"But it's true, every word."
"I believe father has tried," replied Richard. "But it seems that he must have witnesses to prove his identity, and all that—"
"And can't he get them?" asked Grace, eagerly.
"I believe not. All his old comrades are either dead or scattered, and he hasn't a single address."
"Did he ever hunt for any of them?"
"I think he wrote two or three letters, but that's all. You know how father is."
"I just guess I wouldn't let it rest there!" declared Grace, diving into the bread batter with a vim. "I'd advertise in the papers, and turn the whole country upside down before I'd give up!"
"Well, father looks at it as a kind of charity, anyway," explained Richard. "And he doesn't care much to accept it so long as he is able to work."
"Yes, but, Dick, if he's entitled to it by law, don't you think he ought to take it?"
"He has certainly lost many a day's work on account of his failing, Nancy. He ought to get something for that."
"Then why don't you speak to him about it?" asked Grace. "He'll listen to you quicker than he will to any of us."
"Perhaps I will. Maybe he will give me a list of those who knew him in the army, and then I can start a grand search, as you suggested. But I've got a little plan of my own to carry out first, and I want you girls to help me."
"What plan?" asked Nancy; and Grace ceased her bread-making to listen to what her brother might have to say.
"I'm thinking of going to New York, and I—"
"New York!" both girls ejaculated. They would have been no more astonished had he said Paris or Pekin. "Why, Dick, what put that idea into your head?" continued Nancy.
"Take me along if you go," added Grace.
"Nobody but myself put it into my head, Nan," replied Richard, "and I won't be able to take anybody along, Grace."
"Going to make your fortune?" queried the younger girl.
"You'll get lost," put in the other.
"Nonsense! catch Dick getting lost!" cried Grace indignantly. "Didn't he bring us all safe through Baker's woods last fall, when we were nutting?"
"Baker's woods isn't New York city," replied her elder sister. "Hundreds of streets and millions of people! He'd have to keep his eyes wide open and his wits about him."
"And that is just what I would do!" broke in Richard. "You don't suppose I'd stand around like a gawk, staring at people!"
"But is it for fortune?" repeated Grace, freeing her hands from the dough and coming up close.
"Yes, it's for fortune, if that's what you call it," said Richard bluntly. "I'm tired of Mossvale, and I'm going to strike out, that is if I can get consent. I've spoken to mother about it already, and if—"
A heavy knock on the back stoop caused Richard to stop speaking. Going to the door, he was confronted by Nicholas Boswell, a young farmer who lived a short distance down the road.
"Hello, Nick!" exclaimed Richard. "That you? Come in!"
Nicholas Boswell was pale, and his face showed a troubled expression. For several seconds ho seemed hardly able to speak.
"No, thank'ee, Dick," he said at last. "I come to tell you that—" and here his eyes roved over to Nancy and Grace, and he stopped short.
"What?" asked the boy. "You ain't sick, are you?" he continued, noticing the unusual pallor on the other's countenance.
"Oh, no, I ain't sick," replied Boswell. "I never get sick. I was never sick in my life—'cepting when I was a babby. But I—that is—there's a man—some men wants to see you," he faltered.
"To see me! Where?"
"They are down the road aways. I'll show you."
"What do they want?"
"Come on—never mind asking questions," closing one eye and bobbing his head, as if he did not wish the girls to hear more.
"All right," returned Richard, and closing the door he followed Boswell up the lane to the road.
"Accidents is bad things, Dick," began the young farmer, as they drew away from the house. "But they will happen, you know—they will happen."
"What do you mean?" asked the boy quickly. "Who's had an accident?"
"Well, you see a man with the rheumatism ain't so sure of his footing as is one who ain't got no such affliction."
"And my father?" began Richard, his heart jumping suddenly into his throat.
"Your father as a painter often climbed long, limbery ladders as he hadn't oughter," continued Boswell soberly.
"Is he—is he dead?" gasped the boy, standing stock-still.
"No, oh, no!" exclaimed the young farmer. "But he had an awful fall, and he's pretty bad. I thought I'd tell you first, 'cause it might shock your mother."
"Where is he?"
"The men is bringing him up the road. Here they come now. You'd better go back, and kinder break the news to the folks. I'm terribly gritty—as gritty as any man—but I can't do that!"
Richard did not hear the last words. Trembling from head to foot, he sped up the road to meet four men, carrying a rude stretcher between them and slowly approaching.
The serious accident that had befallen Mr. Dare was in reality a very simple one. The ladder that he had been ascending was covered with early morning dew, and when near the top his foot had slipped, and, being unable, on account of his rheumatism, to catch a quick hold, he had fallen on his side to the ground. No one had seen his fall, and he lay unconscious for full ten minutes before a fellow workman, who had been busy on the other side of the building, discovered him and summoned assistance.
The five or six men that were soon gathered did what they could to bring him to consciousness, but without success. One of them ran off to hunt up the doctor, and then the others took a door that had not yet been hung in the new house, and, fastening a heavy strip at either end for handles, covered it with their coats, and placed the wounded man upon it.
None of the men cared to face Mrs. Dare with such painful news, and it was only after repeated urging that Nicholas Boswell had been induced to go on ahead.
"My father, my poor father!" was all Richard could say, as he gazed at the motionless form upon the litter.
"Reckon he's hurt pretty bad," said Sandy Stone, a mason, who had been the first to be called to the scene of the accident. "'Tain't outside so much as it's in. Wait till we get him home."
For Richard was bending over his father, and trying his best to do something that would help the unconscious sufferer.
"Did you send for the doctor?"
"Yes; sent for Dr. Melvin first thing," replied one of the others, "But we don't know where he is."
"I think he is over at old Mrs. Brown's," returned the boy. "I saw him walking that way a while ago."
"I'll go and see," put in Nicholas Boswell. "Meanwhile you'd better go and tell your mother."
"My mother! what will she say? And Nancy and Grace and baby Madge! Oh, it's dreadful!" broke out Richard. "I'm sure none of them can stand it."
"I'll send my wife over soon as I can," said Sandy Stone. "She's as good as a doctor, and can quiet your mother, too. Be a brave boy, Dick, and go and tell her. It will be easier, coming from you, than it would from any of us."
So Richard returned to the house. His mother was dusting in the parlor, and going straight to her he said:
"Mother, the men are bringing father home. He slipped on the ladder and got hurt pretty badly. You had better get a bed ready for him, and some bandages, because he's got a cut or two on his head," and then, as the mother's breast began to heave: "Don't worry, mother; it may not be near as bad as we believe it is."
It was over in a moment, and when the men arrived Mrs. Dare was as calm as any of them.
In the cottage one of the bedrooms was situated upon the lower floor, and to this Mr. Dare was carried, and laid down as tenderly as these men were able to do such an unaccustomed task. He drew a deep breath when his head touched the pillow, and an instant later opened his eyes.
"Where am I?" were his first words.
"Home, John," replied his wife. "You had a fail, and—"
"Yes, I remember. Oh, how my side hurts!"
"Lie still. The doctor will soon be here. Would you like a drink?"
Mrs. Dare gave him some water, but he only drank a little, and then began to cough.
"It's inside!" he gasped. "My ribs are broken, I think."
Richard comforted his sisters as best he could. It was not long before Dr. Melvin arrived, and his coming inspired the little household with hope.
"Is it very serious?" asked Richard, after an examination into his father's condition had been made.
"I cannot tell yet. Two of his ribs are dislocated, but I dare not touch them until I find out the extent of his other internal injuries," replied the doctor. "He must keep quiet, and every ten minutes give him a tablespoonful of this mixture."
But, though Dr. Melvin gave these directions, it was fully an hour before he left, and then he promised to return late in the afternoon.
The whole family were gathered in the sick chamber, baby Madge, three years old, sitting on Richard's knee. Nancy and Grace had been frightened into almost absolute silence, and Mrs. Dare addressed herself to her husband, with an occasional remark to the boy as to what might further help the sufferer.
"Don't trouble yourself, Jane," said Mr. Dare feebly. "You've done enough already," and then the pain caused him to faint away.
When Dr. Melvin came back they all left the room but Mrs. Dare. A thorough examination was made that lasted nearly an hour. By the grave look on his face when the doctor called him, Richard knew that he was to receive no encouraging news.
"Your father is worse than I expected," were the doctor's words. "He has ruptured a blood vessel, and that is bad."
"Will he die, do you think?" faltered the boy.
"'While there is life there is hope,'" he responded evasively, after Richard had repeated his question.
"Then you are afraid it will be fatal?" cried the boy, terror-stricken. "Oh, Dr. Melvin, can't we do something?"
The doctor shook his head.
"I have done all I can. Such things are beyond our reach, and mere medicine does no good."
"Have you told my mother and my sisters?"
"I have told your mother. She expected it from the start," replied the doctor. "You had better go in now. Your father wishes to speak to you," he added.
Richard entered the front chamber at once. As he did so, his mother passed out, her eyes filled with tears.
"Did he tell you?" she asked.
"Yes," he replied, without being able to utter another word.
"Oh, Richard, I never, never thought that such a thing would happen! Where are Nan and the rest?"
"In the kitchen."
"I must tell them. It is hard on the poor girls."
"And hard on you," said Dick. "And me, too," he added, with a sigh.
The curtains of the windows had been drawn, and it was quite dark in the room. Richard approached the bed and grasped his father's hand.
"Is it you, Richard?" questioned the sufferer.
"I'm glad you've come. I want to talk to you."
"But it may hurt you to talk too much," said the boy feelingly.
"Never mind. It will all be over soon," replied Mr. Dare with a heavy cough. "I suppose the doctor has told you. He said he would."
The boy nodded his head.
"It is God's will, and we must bow to His judgment," continued the injured man. "But I want to talk to you about what to do when I am gone."
"Hush! I feel that I am sinking, even faster than Dr. Melvin thinks. Listen then to what I have to say."
"I am listening."
"When I'm gone, Richard, you will have to take my place. Your mother is strong, and can do much; but she is a woman, and she, as well as your sisters, will need your help."
"They shall have all that I can possibly give them. I will work, and do all I can."
"I know you will, Richard. You have always been a good boy. I am sorry that I cannot leave you all better off than I'm doing."
"Never mind, father; we will get along."
"I suppose I might have done so if I'd had the courage to strike out," continued Mr. Dare, with a sigh. "I always calculated to do something for myself, but that's all over now. But you take after your mother, the same as your sister Grace, and if you make the right start I feel you will succeed."
"I shall remember what you say."
"Do so. But remember also to be always sober, industrious, and considerate of those around you. Be true to yourself, and to every one with whom you have dealings. You may not get along so fast, but people will respect you more, and your success will be ten times sweeter than it would have been had you risen by pushing others down."
"I shall try to deserve success, even if I don't rise very high, father."
"That's right." Mr. Dare paused for a moment. "I'm sorry that I cannot leave you more of a capital upon which to start in life."
"Never mind; I have a common school education and my health. What more can a boy wish?"
"It is as much as I had upon which to start. But I might have left you more. I deserve a pension as a soldier."
"You never pushed your claim, did you?"
"Yes, once. But I never told any of you, for fear of raising false hopes. I did apply, and it was all straight, but at the last moment the Department decided that I must have another witness to prove my identity, and this I could not get."
"You had one witness, then?"
"Yes. A man named Crawford, who was in our regiment. He was appointed an officer on the same day I was shot; but, as he was appointed after the occurrence they held that his single witnessing was not enough, and so I had to hunt for another."
"And you never found the other?"
"No, though I hunted high and low. Some who saw the affair must be still living, but I have not their addresses, nor do I know how to find them."
"Did you ever advertise in the papers?"
"Yes; I spent fifty dollars in the columns of the leading dailies, but without success."
"You have all the papers in the case?"
"They are in the trunk upstairs. If you can ever push the claim do so—for the others' sake as well as your own."
"I will, father."
"How much it will be worth I do not know, but it may be several thousands of dollars, and that, along with this house, which is free and clear, may suffice to keep the family many a year."
At this juncture a violent fit of coughing seized Mr. Dare, and by the time he had recovered, his wife and the three girls entered.
PREPARING TO START.
Two days later the blinds of the little cottage were closed, and crape hung in solemn black upon the front door. The neighbors, and indeed the whole population of the village, came and went continually—some few with genuine grief and sympathy, and the many others to satisfy a morbid curiosity regarding the man whose life had so suddenly ended.
It was a dismal enough time for the inmates. Richard did all a brave boy can do to comfort his mother and sisters, but he himself needed consolation fully as much as any of them. He had thought much of his father, and the cold form lying in the draped coffin in the parlor sent a chill through his heart that would have an effect in all after life.
At last the funeral was over, and the last of the neighbors had gone away. It was nearly sunset, and the entire family had gathered in the little kitchen to partake of a cup of tea, and to talk over the situation. Mrs. Dare sat in a rocking-chair beside the table, her face plainly showing her intense grief, and near her, on a low stool, sat Richard.
"Well, mother, I suppose I will have to do something very soon now," began the boy. "It won't do for me to remain idle when there is no money coming in."
Mrs. Dare sighed.
"I can't think of money matters yet, Richard," she replied, shaking her head sadly. "It is all so sudden, so unexpected, I cannot realize our terrible loss."
"There isn't a chance for any one in Mossvale," put in Nancy. She herself had been secretly wondering what they were going to do for support.
"So I told mother some time ago," responded Richard. "The few places here are all filled."
"Thought you were going to try New York?" said Grace, who was serving the tea.
"So I was. But—" The boy did not finish, but glanced over to where his mother sat.
"I could hardly bear to have you go away," said Mrs. Dare. "It would be so lonely—your father and you both out of the house. I would rather have you home, even if we had a good deal less to live upon."
"To-morrow I will go out and see what Mossvale has to offer," returned Richard. "In our circumstances it would not be right for me to waste any time."
"Do as you think best," was Mrs. Dare's reply. "You are old enough to think and act for yourself."
But Richard did not wait for the next day before he began his hunt. That evening he called upon Dr. Melvin to obtain some medicine for his mother, and after this portion of his errand was over he broached the subject of securing a position.
"You will find it a hard matter," said the doctor kindly, "unless you wish to go on one of the farms. But they are poor pay, even if you can stand the labor, which I doubt."
"I would not go on a farm unless I could find nothing else," replied the boy. "Could you give me a place?" he asked.
Dr. Melvin nodded his head reflectively.
"I might take you in as an office assistant," he replied. "It would be a good chance to learn medicine. But there would not be much to do, and the pay would be necessarily small."
"Then I couldn't afford to accept it," was Richard's prompt reply. "It is kind in you to make the offer, but I have got to earn enough to support the family."
"I suppose so. Well, I wish you success. I have known you for a number of years, and if you need a recommendation I will give it to you gladly."
"Thank you, doctor. I'll remember that," replied the boy, and after a few more words of conversation he left.
On the following morning he called upon Mr. Barrows, the master painter for whom his father had worked. He found the old workman busy in his shed, mixing up colors for his journeymen to use.
"I suppose you've come down for the money due your father," remarked Mr. Barrows after he had expressed numerous regrets over the sad accident. "Well, here it is, the week in full, and I'm mighty sorry he isn't here to receive it himself, and many another besides," and he held out the amount.
"No, I didn't come for this exactly," replied the boy. "Besides there is too much here," he added, as he counted the bills. "Father did not finish out the week."
"Never mind, you take it anyhow," returned Mr. Barrows briefly. "What was it you wanted?"
"Work. I want to earn something to support my mother and sisters on. We can't live on nothing, and what we have saved up won't last long."
"It's hard luck, Dick, so it is!" exclaimed the old painter. "Tell you what I'll do, though. I'll teach you the trade—teach you it just as good as your father knew it, and pay you a little in the bargain."
"How much I don't care about the money for myself, but—"
"Yes, I understand," broke in Mr. Barrows. "Well, I'll tell you. I'll take you to learn the trade for three years, and start you at two dollars a week. I wouldn't give any other boy half of that, but I know you're smart, and I feel it my duty to help you along."
Richard bit his lip in disappointment. He knew that what Mr. Barrows said about the amount was true, but still he needed more, and for that reason, he had, somehow, expected a larger sum to be offered.
"I'm much obliged, but I'll have to think it over before I decide," he said. "Three years is a long time to bind one's self."
"Oh, they'll slip by before you know it. Besides, I'll raise your wages just as soon as you are worth it," said Mr. Barrows.
"I'll see about it," was all the boy could answer.
"Two dollars a week would not go far towards supporting a family of five," sighed Richard, as he walked away. "And then to be a house painter all one's life! I must strike something else."
But "striking something else" was no easy matter, as the boy soon learned. A visit to the two stores, the blacksmith shop and to several people whom he thought might give him employment, brought forth no results of value. Either they had nothing for him to do, or else the pay offered was altogether too small.
Richard returned home late in the afternoon. Grace met him at the end of the lane.
"Any luck, Dick?" she asked eagerly.
"No," he replied, and related his experience.
"Never mind," returned his sister. "Maybe it isn't so bad after all. The minister is here."
"Yes, he's in the parlor talking to mamma, and I heard them mention your name, and say something about New York."
Richard's heart gave a bound. He knew that Mr. Cook, who was their old family pastor, had great influence with his mother, and that she would probably go to him for advice.
"Guess I'll go in and hear what he has to say," said Richard, and a moment later he knocked on the parlor door and entered.
Mr. Cook shook him cordially by the hand.
"We have just been speaking about you," he said. "How have you fared in your search for employment?"
The boy told him.
"Mossvale is so small, there is hardly any chance," he added.
"Your mother tells me that you have an idea you could do better in New York," went on the minister. "It is a big place, and nearly every one is almost too busy to notice a new-comer."
"I know that. But I should watch my chances."
"And there are many temptations there that never arise in such a place as this," continued Mr. Cook earnestly; "and it very often takes all the will power a person possesses to keep in the straight and narrow path."
"I wouldn't do what wasn't right!" burst out Richard. "I'd starve first!"
Mr. Cook looked down into the clear, outspoken face before him.
"I believe it," he declared. "You have had a good training, thanks to your mother and father. Well, I have advised her to let you try your luck in the great metropolis."
"Oh, Mr. Cook!"
"Yes. Now don't get excited. She has thought it over, and agrees to let you go for two weeks, at least. The fare is only four dollars and a half, and board for that length of time will not be much. Of course you can't put up at an expensive hotel."
"I won't put up anywhere until I find a job," declared Richard. "I only want my railroad ticket, and a dollar or two extra."
"Indeed not!" put in Mrs. Dare. "I would not have you stay out doors all night, like a tramp. There are plenty of cheap lodging-houses."
"And when can I go?" asked Richard eagerly.
His mother gave a sad little smile.
"Do you want to leave your mother so very soon?" she asked.
"Oh, no, only I want to be doing something—helping you and the rest," he replied quickly.
"Then you shall go bright and early next Monday morning," returned Mrs. Dare, and she turned away to hide the tears that sprang up at the thought of her only boy leaving the shelter of the quiet country home, to mingle with strangers in the great city more than a hundred miles away.
As for Richard he was delighted with the prospects. At last the dream of many months was to be realized. He was to go to New York, to tread the streets of the great metropolis, to find a place for himself, and make a fortune!
Little did he know or care for the many trials and disappointments in store for him. He was striking out for himself, and intended to do his level best.
Would he succeed or fail?
We shall see.
ON THE TRAIN.
Of course there was a good deal of talking about Richard's proposed venture. The girls seemed never to tire of it, and the amount of advice that they gave their brother was enough, as the boy declared, "to help him along until eternity, and two days afterwards."
"You'll want your best clothes, city folks are so particular," declared Grace. "And your shirts and collars will have to be as stiff as old Deacon Moore's, I expect."
"I only want things clean and neat," replied Richard. "I'm not going there to be a dude. I'm going there to work—if I can get anything to do."
Nevertheless, Grace was bound that he should look his best, and spent an extra hour over the washtub and ironing-board.
It was decided that he should not be hampered with a trunk, but should take a valise instead.
This Mrs. Dare packed herself, and placed in the hallway late on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile Richard was not idle. He did not wish to leave any work around the place unfinished, and early and late he spent many hours in the house and in the garden, doing the things that were most needed.
Sunday morning the whole family, including little Madge, attended the pretty white church that was the one pride of Mossvale. Richard suspected that Mr. Cook had expected him to be there, for the sermon was on the text, "Be thou strong in the faith," and advised all, especially the young, to stick to their Christian principles, despite the alluring, but harmful, enticements of the great world around them.
It was a sober little crowd that gathered in the kitchen in the dusk after supper. Richard was a trifle louder in his manner than usual, but this was only an effort to cover up the evidence of his real seriousness.
"You must not forget to write as soon as you arrive and find a stopping place," cautioned Mrs. Dare for at least the fifth time.
"Yes, and don't forget to tell us all about what happened on the train," put in Grace. "I'm sure that in such a long ride as that you ought to have some kind of an adventure."
"I trust that he does not," returned the mother. "An adventure would probably mean an accident, and we have had enough already;" and she gave a long sigh.
"Don't fear but what I'll write," replied Richard. "And if anything unusual happens I'll put it down."
But all evenings must come to an end, and finally, as the clock struck ten, the good-night word went its round, and they separated.
No need to call Richard on the following morning. He was up and dressed at five, and impatient for the start. Every one turned in towards serving him a hot breakfast, and in addition Mrs. Dare put him up a tidy lunch in a box.
There was one thing, though, that the boy was obstinate about. He would not accept all of the money that Mrs. Dare thought it her duty to make him take. The price of his ticket and five dollars was Richard's limit, and to this he stuck.
"If I get real hard up I'll write for more," was his declaration. "You will need what you have saved, and I am sure I can get along without it."
Mrs. Dare shook her head. But it was all to no purpose. Richard was firm, and doubly so when Grace gave him a pert look of approval.
The news of the departure had spread, and at the depot the boy met several who had come to see him off—Mr. Cook and two or three boy friends, including Charley Wood, the son of a neighbor, who was not slow in giving the lion's share of his attention to Grace.
"Here comes the train!" exclaimed Nancy, after a rather long wait, and a moment later, with ringing bell, the locomotive rounded the curve below, and the cars rolled into the depot.
"All aboard for Rockvale, Beverly, and New York! Way train for Hurley, Allendale, Hobb's Dam, and all stations south of Bakersville Junction!" shouted the conductor. "Lively, please."
There was a hurried hand-shaking, and several warm kisses.
"Good-by, Richard," said Mrs. Dare. "God be with you!" And then she added in a whisper: "Don't be afraid to come home as soon as you don't like it any more."
"I'll remember, mother," he replied. "Don't worry about me. It's all right. Good-by, each and everybody!"
Valise in hand, he climbed up the steps and entered one of the cars. He had hardly time to reach a window seat, and wave a parting adieu, when the train moved off.
He looked back as long as he could. Mother and sister were waving their handkerchiefs, Grace having brought her largest for this special occasion.
But the train went swiftly on its way, and soon Mossvale and its people were left behind.
"Off at last!" was Richard's mental comment. "It's sink or swim now. Good-by to Mossvale and the old life!"
Yet it must in truth be confessed that there was just the suspicion of a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat as he settled back in his seat, but he hastily brushed away the one and swallowed the other, and put on as bold a front as he could.
The car was only partially filled, and he had a double seat all to himself. He placed his valise beside him, and then gazed at the ever-varying panorama that rushed past.
But his mind was not given to the scenes that were thus presenting themselves. His thoughts were far ahead, speculating upon what it would be best to do when his destination was reached.
He knew New York was a big place, and felt tolerably certain that few, if indeed any, would care to give him the information that he knew he needed.
Presently the train began to stop at various stations, and the car commenced to fill up.
"This seat taken?" said a gentleman, as he stopped beside Richard.
"No, sir," replied the boy, and made room for the other.
"Thank you," returned the gentleman. "Rather crowded," he continued, as he sat down, and deposited a huge valise beside Richard's, which had been placed upon the floor.
"I might have checked my satchel," remarked Richard, noting that the two valises rather crowded things.
"So might I," was the new-comer's reply, "but I thought it would be too much trouble in New York getting it."
"I'm not used to travelling," explained Richard, "and so I thought it best to have my baggage where I could lay my hands on it."
The gentleman looked at him curiously.
"Going to the city?" he asked.
"You'll see a good many strange sights. Going to stay several days, I presume."
"Longer than that, sir. I'm going there to try my luck."
The gentleman looked surprised.
"I hope you'll succeed," he said. "You will find it rather uphill work, I'm afraid. Where are you from, if I may ask?"
"I come from Mossvale. My name is Richard Dare. My father died from an accident a short while ago, and, as there didn't seem to be anything in our village for me to work at, I made up my mind to try New York."
The boy's open manner evidently pleased his listener.
"I am glad to know you," he returned. "My name is Joyce—Timothy Joyce. I am a leather dealer—down in the Swamp. Here is my card."
"The Swamp?" queried Richard, puzzled by the appellation.
"Yes—at least that's what us oldtime folks call it. There used to be a swamp there years ago. I'm on Jacob Street. Maybe I can help you around a bit."
"Thank you, Mr. Joyce; I'm glad to know you," replied Richard gratefully. "I'm a perfect stranger, as I said, and it will be right handy to have some one to give me a few points."
Mr. Joyce smiled. He was quite taken by the boy's frank manner.
"I'll give you all the points I can," he said. "You must keep your eyes and ears open, though, for there are many pitfalls for the unwary."
Mr. Joyce felt in his coat pocket. "Here is a map of the city. I am going out in the smoker presently, to enjoy a cigar. I would advise you to study it while I am gone, and when I come back I'll explain anything that you can't understand."
"Thank you, I will."
"Just look to my bag while I am gone, will you?" continued Mr. Joyce, as he arose. When alone, Richard became absorbed in the map at once.
On and on sped the train, now running faster than ever. But Richard took no notice. He was deep in the little volume, trying his best to memorize the names of the streets and their locations.
"It's not a very regular city," he sighed. "Streets run in all directions, and some of them are as crooked as a ram's horn. If I ever—"
A sudden jar at this instant caused Richard to pitch forward from his seat. Then, before he realized what had happened, the car tilted, and then turned completely over on its side.
Richard was bewildered and alarmed by what had happened. As the car went over upon the side nearest to which he was sitting, he fell down between the windows, with his head resting upon the bundle-holder, that a moment before had been over him.
His own valise and that belonging to Mr. Joyce came down on top of him, and as both were heavy, they knocked the breath completely out of him.
As soon as the boy had somewhat regained this and his scattered senses, he scrambled to his feet, and tried to look around him.
Daylight shone into the car from the windows above, but all was dust and confusion, mingled with the cries of women and the loud exclamations of men.
Luckily Richard was not far from the rear door, and having somewhat recovered from the shock, he resolved to get out as speedily as possible.
The car had now stopped moving, and as there seemed to be no immediate danger of anything more happening, the boy stopped to get the two valises.
With such a load it was no easy matter climbing over the seats to the door. Yet the feat was accomplished, and two minutes later, with an exclamation of relief, Richard pitched his baggage to the bank beside the track, and sprang to the solid ground.
His foot had been slightly sprained when the shock came, but in the excitement he hardly noticed the pain. He could readily see that assistance was needed on all sides, and he was not slow to render all that lay in his power.
The cause of the accident could be seen at a glance. A heavy freight train had backed down from a side track, smashing the locomotive attached to the passenger cars, and throwing three of the latter off the track.
One of the cars—the first—had been turned completely over, and to this every one was hurrying.
"It's the smoking car," replied a man, to Richard's eager question. "It's full of men, too."
Setting down the two valises within easy reach, the boy hurried forward.
"Mr. Joyce is in there," was his thought. "Oh, I hope he isn't hurt!"
Though Richard had known the man but a short hour, yet the city merchant's cordial manner had completely captivated the boy.
It was no easy matter for the men in the smoker to free themselves. In turning over, a number of the seats in the car had become loosened, falling on many, and blocking up both doors as well.
But presently several windows were smashed out, and the occupants began to pour from these, some with their clothing badly torn, others hatless, and several severely injured.
"There are two men in there stuck fast!" exclaimed a short, stout man, as puffing and blowing he reached the ground. "I tried to help 'em both, but it was no use,—the seats all piled up atop of 'em. Beckon they'll have to be cut away, they're jammed in so tight."
Instantly Richard thought of Mr. Joyce. Nowhere in the crowd could he catch sight of the gentleman. It was possible that one of the two might be his newly-made friend.
"There's a tool-house down the road a ways," continued the stout man. "I noticed it as we rode past, a moment before we went over."
"Where?" asked Richard eagerly.
"On the other side, up the embankment," was the reply.
"I'll see if I can get something to work with," returned the boy. "Just watch my baggage while I'm gone."
In an instant he was off, running as fast as possible. He found the building just as it had been described. The door was open, and rushing in, he confronted an Irish laborer, who was cleaning up some tools.
"The train has been wrecked, just below," he exclaimed hurriedly. "We want some tools—an axe or a crowbar—something—quick!"
"Train wrecked?" repeated the man in astonishment.
"Yes,—just below." Richard picked up an axe and an iron bar.
"Bring some more tools with you!" he cried as he started to go. "It may mean life or death!" Richard's earnest manner made an impression upon the laborer, and in a few seconds the man was following the boy, with his arms full of such implements as were handy.
Down at the wreck Richard found that one of the two men, a lean, sallow- complexioned individual, had already been liberated, but the other was still a prisoner.
"Just what we want!" cried one of the workers, as he took the axe from the boy's hand. "Can you use the bar?"
"I guess so."
"Follow me, then."
Richard crawled into the car after the man. Inside it was full of dust, and the thick tobacco smoke nearly stifled the boy.
Near the center of the car they found the unfortunate passenger. It was not Mr. Timothy Joyce.
The man was on his back, and a seat, fastened in some strange manner, pinned him down.
"Help me! help me!" he gasped. "That thing is staving in all my ribs!"
It did not take Richard long to insert the iron bar under one end of the slat and thus pry it up. This done the man with the axe gave the side of the seat a couple of blows, and then the prisoner was free.
"Thank God!" exclaimed the man, as he sprang to his feet, and followed the others out of the car. "And thank you, too, my hearties," he continued to the other man and to Richard. "I thought as how I was strangled sure. But Doc Linyard allers was a lucky tar. Thanky, messmates, thanky."
He was a nautical-looking fellow of perhaps forty. He wore a blue pea- jacket and trousers, and under the rolling collar of his gray flannel shirt was tied a black bandanna in true sailor style.
"Is your chest hurt much?" asked Richard, as he thought he noticed a look of pain cross the man's countenance.
"No bones broken," was the reply, after a deep breath.
The two were soon standing side by side on the bank near the track.
"Wish I could reward you," went on the man. "But I ain't got a dollar all told."
And diving into his capacious pocket he brought to light only a miscellaneous collection of small coins.
"Oh, never mind that," said the boy, coloring a trifle. "I'm glad you're all right."
"So am I—downright glad, and no mistake. As I said afore, my name is Linyard, Doc Linyard, general manager, along with my wife, of the Watch Below, the neatest sailors' lunch-room on West Street, New York. I say neatest acause my wife keeps it. She's a worker, Betty is. Come and see me some time. I won't forget to treat you well."
"Thank you, Mr. Lin—"
"Avast there! Don't tackle no mister to my name," interposed the old sailor. "What's your name?" he continued suddenly.
Richard told him.
"All right, Mr. Dare. I'll remember it, and you too. But don't go for to put a figure-head to my name. Plain Doc Linyard is good enough for such a tough customer as me."
"I'll remember it, Mr—"
"Avast, I say—"
"I mean Doc Linyard."
And shaking hands the two separated.
Picking up the two valises, Richard made his way through the crowd, looking for Mr. Joyce. It seemed rather queer that the gentleman who had left his baggage in the boy's care was nowhere to be found.
Richard made quite a number of inquiries, especially among the men who had occupied the smoking-car, but to no avail.
The smash-up was no small affair, and it took fully an hour before the railroad officials that were present could get assistance to the spot. In the meantime, the injured were laid out on the grass and made as comfortable as circumstances would permit. Luckily, several doctors had been passengers on the train, and as they were uninjured they took charge of all who needed their aid.
Finally a train backed down to take the passengers to Rockvale, the next town of importance.
Richard hardly knew what to do. If Mr. Joyce was hurt it was certainly his duty to remain. But perhaps the gentleman had gone off, to render assistance, or, it was possible, on a search for his satchel.
"Guess I'll take the train and risk it," was Richard's conclusion. "He is bound to follow to Rockvale sooner or later, and we will probably meet in the depot."
Nevertheless, as the boy entered the car he felt rather uncomfortable, carrying off the property of another, who was comparatively a stranger to him.
"Well, I've had an adventure on the road just as Grace hoped I would," was Richard's mental comment, as he lay back in the car seat. "So I'll have something to write home after all. But I don't care particularly to have any more such happenings."
For though Richard had taken the whole affair rather coolly he now found that it had been more the excitement than aught else that had kept him up, and he was beginning to feel the full force of a most uncomfortable shaking up.
But this feeling, bordering upon nervous prostration, was not confined to the boy alone. Every one of the passengers, most of whom had escaped without a scratch, were decidedly ill at ease.
It was not long ere Richard thought to take a look through the train for Mr. Joyce.
"He may have got aboard without my seeing him," he said to himself.
And leaving his baggage piled up in the seat, he made the tour from one end to the other and back.
He was unsuccessful. It was as if the leather merchant had disappeared for good.
"Hope he turns up," thought the boy. "If he doesn't what am I to do with his baggage? I don't know where he lives and—Hold up."
He suddenly thought of Mr. Joyce's card, which that gentleman had given him, but a hasty and then a thorough search convinced him that the bit of pasteboard was no longer in his possession.
"Must have slipped out of my pocket in the smash-up," he thought. "Well, I'll have to make the best of it, only I don't want to carry off another person's property."
Richard did not know enough to leave the valise with the baggage master or some of the other railroad officials. This was his first journey of importance, and everything was new and strange to him. The next station was quite a distance, and after thinking the matter over the boy concluded to let the matter rest until they reached that point.
He still retained the guide-book the merchant had loaned him, and presently he took it out and began to study it more carefully than ever.
"Father used to live up in that neighborhood," he said to himself, as certain familiar names of streets arose in his mind. "Sometime, after I'm settled, I'll visit that district and learn if there are still any people there who knew him. Who knows but what I might run across some one who knew him during the war, and could witness his application?"
The idea was a rather pleasant one, and gave the boy a wide field for meditation and hope. He determined not only to take a "run up," as he had said, but also, when the opportunity offered, to make a thorough canvass of the locality and get every bit of information obtainable.
"Ahoy, there! Mr. Dare. On board, too, eh?" exclaimed a voice, and looking up Richard saw Doc Linyard's beaming face.
"Sit down," returned the boy.
The seat in front was vacant, and in a trice the old sailor had it turned over and himself ensconced in the soft cushions, opposite Richard.
"Might I ask where you're bound?" asked Doc Linyard, after another long string of thanks for the services that had been rendered.
"I can't say any more than that I'm going to New York. I'm looking for work, and I don't know where I'll settle. Perhaps I'll strike nothing and have to go back home."
"What! A strong, healthy young fellow like you? Nonsense! Not if you care to lend a willing hand."
"Oh, I'm anxious enough to do that."
"Then you'll pull through. Them as is anxious and willing always do. I didn't have much to start on when I settled in the city. Only six months' pay at sixteen dollars a month."
"How came you to leave the sea?" asked the boy, with considerable curiosity, for Doc Linyard was the first regular sailor he had ever known.
"Oh, you see I was wrecked a couple of times, and lost one leg; this," he tapped his left knee, "is only a cork one, you know, and then the wife grew afeared, and said as how she wanted me ashore. But a tar used to the rigging and sech don't take kindly to labor on land, so instead of working for other people, I up and started the Watch Below."
"What is it—a boarding-house?"
"Not exactly, though we do occasionally take a fellow in. It's a temperance lunch-room for sailors, with regular first-class ship grub; lobscouse, plum-duff and sech. Most of the fellows know me, and hardly a soul comes ashore but what drops in afore he leaves port."
"It must pay."
"I don't get fancy prices and only make a living. I'd like to ask you down, only maybe it wouldn't be fine enough."
Doc Linyard had noticed Richard's neat appearance, and saw that the boy was accustomed to having everything "nice."
"Oh, I should like to come very much," replied Richard, "that is if I get the chance."
On and on rolled the train, and finally the town for which it was bound was reached, and the passengers alighted and crowded the station.
It was announced that owing to the disaster no train would leave for New York for two hours. This left a long time on Richard's hands, and he hardly knew what to do.
Immediately on the arrival Doc Linyard had gone off to hunt up a friend he fancied lived in the place. Not far from the station was a little park containing a number of benches, and walking over to it Richard sat down.
The lunch his mother had given him came in handy now, and he did full justice to it.
He wished the old sailor was with him to share the repast. He had taken a fancy to the tar, and loved to listen to his hearty voice and open speech.
After the lunch was disposed of, Richard took a short stroll through the town. He did not go far, for he had the two valises with him, and they were heavy.
Presently he returned to the station, and it was not long before the train could be seen approaching in the distance. Along with a number of others, Richard started to walk over to the right track.
As he did so two men, who looked like railroad officials, approached him.
"Say, young fellow," sang out one of the men. "Hold up; we want to speak to you."
"What is it?" asked Richard.
"Whose baggage have you got there?"
"My own and another man's."
"What man?" asked the other official.
"A gentleman I met on the train."
"Where is he now?"
"I don't know. I'm trying to find him."
By this time the train had rolled into the station. Not wishing to miss it, Richard began to move on.
Both officials made a dive for him, and one of them caught him by the shoulder.
"Not so fast, my fine fellow?" he exclaimed.
"Why, what—what do you want?" asked Richard, with a rising color.
"We want you to give an account of yourself," was the reply. "Where did you get that valise?"
THE END OF THE JOURNEY.
Despite the knowledge that he was doing no wrong, Richard's heart sank when he heard the railroad official call him back.
He did not think how easy it might be to prove himself innocent of all wrong-doing. It was bad enough to be suspected. Besides, he had not been the only one to hear the harsh words that had been spoken, and in a moment a crowd had collected.
"I was in the wreck, and this valise belongs to a friend of mine," replied Richard, as soon as he could collect his thoughts.
"What is your name?" asked the official who still held him by the arm.
Richard told him.
"And who was your friend?"
"His name is—is—"
And here, being greatly confused, Richard could not remember the leather merchant's name.
"Come, answer me," continued the man sharply.
"His name is—is—I've forgotten it!" stammered the boy in confusion.
"Humph! A very plausible excuse I must say," sneered the man.
"It's the truth. I met the gentleman on the train. He introduced himself, and we had quite a chat. Then he asked me to look after his baggage while he went into the smoking-car, and while he was gone the accident happened."
"Where is the man now?" asked the first official.
"I don't know. I've been trying to find him."
"Do you expect me to believe that?" exclaimed the other. "There isn't a soul missing from that wreck!"
"I can't help it," replied Richard stoutly, for he was recovering from the shock he had received. "What I'm telling you is a fact."
"What's the matter here?" broke in a hearty voice; and Doc Linyard elbowed his way through the crowd. "What's wrong with the young gentleman?"
"What business is that of yours?" returned the man sharply.
"Not much may be, but if there's trouble for him I want to know it. He saved my life down in the smash-up, and I intend to stand by him," returned the old tar decidedly.
"They think I'm trying to steal this valise," explained Richard.
"What!" roared Doc Linyard. "Confound you for a pair of landlubbers! Don't you know an honest figurehead when you see it? Look at him! 'Pears to me he looks more straightforward than those as accuses him."
Both officials were taken back by the tar's aggressive manner.
"Better be careful," continued the sailor. "You don't know who this young gentleman is, and before long you'll be laying up a heap of trouble for yourselves."
"We have to be on our guard," said the first official in a milder tone.
"The young man will have to leave the valise here, at least," added the other.
"I'm willing to do that," said Richard. "But I'm no thief," he continued as they walked over to the baggage-room.
"Yes, but that man's name—" began one of the men.
"Was Joyce—Timothy Joyce!" cried the boy. "I knew I would remember it sooner or later."
The official took a piece of chalk and scratched the name upon the bottom of the valise.
"That one is yours?"
"Yes; here is my name on the bottom," and Richard showed it.
"All right. You can go. If Mr. Joyce calls he can get his property, otherwise it will be forwarded to the main baggage office in New York."
"Hold up! Not so fast," put in Doc Linyard. "Just give him a receipt for that valise."
"Oh, that's all right," replied the man, turning red.
"Maybe so. But I don't see as how he ought to trust you any more than you trusted him," went on the tar bluntly.
"That's fair," put in an old man, who had stood watching the proceedings. "'What's sauce for the goose is the sauce for the gander.'"
With very bad grace the official wrote down something on a pad, tore the page off and thrust it at Richard.
"I hope you're satisfied," he snapped to Doc Linyard; and taking up Mr. Joyce's valise he entered an inner room, slamming the door behind him.
"Good riddance to him," muttered the old tar. "A few brass buttons on his coat has turned his head."
The train had fortunately been delayed, but it was now moving from the station. Richard and Doc Linyard made a rush for it, and succeeded in boarding the last car.
"Hope we're done with adventures," remarked the old tar, when they were seated. "I'd rather have things quiet and easy."
"I must thank you," said Richard heartily. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come up just when you did."
"Shoo—'tain't nothing, Mr. Dare, alongside of what you did for me," replied the sailor. "But I've had a run of bad luck since I left New York two days ago," he added meditatively.
"Yes?" questioned the boy with some curiosity. "How so?"
"Well, it's this way," began Doc Linyard, crossing his good leg over the cork one: "My wife got a letter from England last week, saying as how an uncle had died, leaving his property to her and her brother, Tom Clover. In the letter she was asked to see her brother and fix the matter up with him. They wrote they didn't have his address, and so left it to her."
"I should think that would be all right," remarked Richard, as the old tar paused.
"It would be, only for one thing—we don't know where Tom is. He used to live in New York, but moved away, we don't know where. A party told me he thought he had got work in a place called Fairwood, but I've just come from there."
"And you didn't find him?"
"No; he had never been in the place. I have an idea he is again somewhere in New York."
"Didn't he used to call on you?"
"Sometimes; but he was a bit queer, and there was times he didn't show up for months and months. He's pretty old, and couldn't get around very well."
"Is the property valuable?"
"It's worth over eight hundred pounds—four thousand dollars."
"It's a fortune!" exclaimed Richard.
"'Twould be to Betty and me," returned the sailor. "We never had over a hundred dollars in cash in our lives."
"It's a pity you can't find him," said the boy. "What are you going to do? Get your wife's share, and let the other rest?"
"No; that's the worst of it. By the provisions of the will the property can't be divided very well except by the consent of both heirs."
"In that case I think I'd commence a pretty good search for Mr.—your wife's brother. It's worth spending quite a few dollars to find him."
"Just my reckoning. But New York is a big place to find any one in."
"Perhaps your brother-in-law will drop in on you when you least expect him."
"Hope he does."
The two continued the conversation for a long time. The more Richard saw of Doc Linyard, the better he liked the bluff old tar, and, to tell the truth, the latter was fully as much taken by Richard's open manner.
It was not long before Richard poured out his own tale in all its details. He found a strong sympathizer in the sailor, who expressed a sincere wish that the pension due the Dare family might be speedily forthcoming.
"Somewhat of a like claim to mine," he remarked. "We are both looking for other people to help us out."
"And I trust we both succeed," added Richard earnestly. "In fact we must succeed," he continued, with sudden energy.
"Right you are!" was the reply. "We're bound to get the proper bearings some time."
Before they reached their journey's end they were fast friends.
It was the brakeman's cry, and an instant later the train rolled into the vast and gloomy depot, and every one was scrambling up and making for the door.
In a moment they were upon the platform, amid a surging, pushing mass of people.
"Which way?" asked Richard, somewhat confused by the unusual bustle.
"This way," replied the sailor. "Just follow me."
"West Shore this side! Checks for baggage! Brooklyn Annex to the right!" and several similar calls filled the boy's ears.
He kept close to the tar, who led the way to the slip where a Cortlandt Street boat was in waiting, and, dodging several trucks and express wagons, they hurried down the bridge and went on board.
The gentlemen's cabin was so full of tobacco smoke that it nearly stifled Richard, and he was not sorry when Doc Linyard led the way straight through to the forward deck.
It was a pleasant day, and the lowering sun cast long shadows over the water, and lit up the spires and stone piles of the great metropolis that lay beyond, tipped with gold, typical of Richard's high hopes.
Swiftly the ferryboat crossed the North River, crowded with boats. Then it ran into the slip—there was the rattle of the ratchets as the line wheels spun around, and finally the gates were opened.
Richard had reached New York at last.
THE "WATCH BELOW."
"Gracious, what a busy place!"
This was the thought that ran through Richard's mind as he stepped from the ferryhouse to West Street, in New York City.
Doc Linyard had managed to get the boy off the boat as soon as the landing was made, but now, as they waited for a chance to cross the slippery thoroughfare that runs parallel to the water's edge, the crowd surged around them until to Richard there seemed to be a perfect jam.
"Hack, sir? Astor House? Coupe, madam? This way for a cab!"
In a moment they were safe upon the other side of the street.
"Made up your mind which way to steer?" asked Doc Linyard.
"Not exactly," replied Richard. "This is the way to Broadway, I suppose," he went on, pointing up Cortlandt Street.
"Yes; but what do you intend to do up there?"
"I thought I'd take a look around. I imagine I can't do much in the way of finding work at this time in the evening."
"No; you'd best wait till morning. Then get a World and a Herald, and look over the want advertisements. I reckon that's the best way of striking a position."
"Thank you, I'll try that plan. Good-by." And Richard held out his hand.
"Won't you come down to my place afore we part?" interposed Doc Linyard. "It's only a few steps from here."
Richard demurred. From the description he had been given of the place he knew money was to be spent there, and he had no cash to spare.
"I—I—guess not," he faltered.
"I—well, to tell the truth, I haven't much to spend."
The old tar slapped the boy heartily on the shoulder.
"Don't worry about that!" he cried. "I'm no land-shark. This trip shan't cost you a cent. Come on."
And Richard followed. To a new-comer West Street is certainly a curious sight. Saloons predominate, but between them are located tiny eating houses, cheap clothing shops, meat stalls, bargain "counters," and lodging-places, only about one in ten of the latter being fit for occupancy.
"Here we are!" exclaimed the sailor presently.
They stepped up to a small restaurant, considerably neater than its neighbors. Its exterior was painted light blue, and over the door in big, black letters, hung the sign:
THE WATCH BELOW, DOC LINYARD, Boatswain.
And to the right of the door, near a figurehead representing a gorgeous mermaid, were added the words:
Messmates Always Welcome.
The doors were wide open, and the two entered.
Several men sat at various tables, eating and drinking, and behind a counter that did the double duty of a pie-stand and a cashier's desk sat a tall, old man with grizzled white hair.
"Well, pop!" exclaimed Doc Linyard, as he stepped up.
"Hello, my boy! Back again," returned the older man. "Did you find 'em?" he added, in an anxious tone.
The old man shook his head ominously.
"Too bad, too bad," he murmured.
But he was evidently too old to take a very strong interest in the matter.
"Never mind, it will all come outright in the end," was the son's reassuring reply. "Where is Betty?"
"In the kitchen."
"This is my father," went on Doc Linyard to Richard. "Pop, here is a chum as I picked up on the road. His name is Mr. Dare, and he saved my life."
"Saved your life?" queried the old man doubtfully.
As he spoke a door in the rear opened, and a buxom woman of thirty tripped out. She came straight up to the sailor and gave him a hearty kiss.
"No luck, Betty," said Linyard soberly.
"Not a bit. Couldn't locate 'em nohow."
"It's too bad, Doc."
"And he says his life was saved by this chap," put in the old man, who had been gazing at Richard ever since the assertion had been made.
"Yes; we've both had strange adventures in the last twelve hours."
This bold praise made Richard blush.
"Oh, I didn't do as much as all that," he exclaimed. "I only helped him out of the car, just as I would have helped any one."
"No sech thing, he did lots."
And sitting down near the counter, Doc Linyard gave a graphic account of all that had transpired.
"I thank you very much," said Mrs. Linyard, when her husband had finished. "I know Doc won't forget what you did, and neither will I." She gave the boy's hand a tight squeeze. "Won't you have some supper with us?"
Richard hesitated. He always was backward in accepting favors.
"Come don't say no," urged Doc Linyard. "By the anchor, it's little enough."
Mrs. Linyard led the way to a cozy nook near the end of the restaurant, and gave them two seats at a small table covered with a snowy white cloth,—a table that was generally reserved for officers, or "upper class" patrons.
"So you've had no luck?" she said to her husband, as she began to bustle around with the tableware. "It's queer. What can have become of Tom?"
"Blessed if I know."
"We may lose that money, all through him," sighed Mrs. Linyard.
"It would be a shame," put in Richard. "Your husband has told me of the matter. I wish I could help you."
The sailor laughed good-naturedly. His disposition was too easy to worry much over the situation.
"Reckon as how you'll have your hands full on your own account, finding work and all that," he returned.
"I suppose I will. Still I would like to help you."
Mrs. Linyard provided a warm and bountiful supper, and both enjoyed every dish that was set before them.
"I mustn't lose too much time," went on the boy, as he was finishing. "I must at least find a boarding-house. I don't want to spend the night in the streets."
"No fear of that," said the old tar hastily. "Betty, another cup of that good coffee, please. Tell you what I'll do if you're willing. This place isn't as grand as a hotel, but Betty's beds are as clean as any of 'em, and if you will you're welcome to stay all night."
"Thank you, I'll do so gladly," replied Richard quickly, for the proposition took a load from his mind. "I'll pay you whatever—"
"Avast there! What do you think I am, to take money from you for that? No, thanky, I'm no land shark."
"I know you're not," replied Richard quickly, for he saw that the sailor's feelings had been hurt, "but I would like to do something in return."
"No need of that. Tell you what you can do though," continued Doc Linyard, after a moment's reflection.
"Write me out an advertisement for the newspapers. My eddication ain't none of the best, and my hand's more used to a marline spike than it is to a pen."
"Willingly. What do you want to advertise?"
"I want to put a notice in for my brother-in-law. I'll give you all the particulars."
"Very well. Have you pen, ink and paper?"
"Yes; Betty, will you bring 'em?"
Mrs. Linyard nodded.
A few minutes later the dishes were cleared away, and Richard prepared to write out the advertisement.
During Richard's and Doc Linyard's meal the Watch Below had been gradually filling up, principally with sailors, the majority of whom were short, heavy-set men, who clapped each other on the back and carried on their conversation in a sea lingo that was nearly unintelligible to Richard.
One thing, however, impressed the boy. All the patrons seemed of a better class than most sailors are, and he was glad to notice that drunkenness and profanity were entirely absent. Once in a while some one would let fall some coarse remark, but he was quickly choked off by the others out of respect for "Doc's Betty," who hurried around with a shining face, waiting on one and exchanging a pleasant word with another.
Every one was on familar terms with the proprietor. They were glad to see him back to the "fo'castle," but those who knew were sorry his mission had been unsuccessful.
"They all know me and wishes me well," remarked the sailor to Richard. "It's something to be proud of—around on this here globe forty-five years and not an enemy in the world."
"How long were you a sailor?"
"Almost thirty years. I shipped as cabin boy on a South America brig when I was fifteen. I'd be at it yet if, as I told you, Betty hadn't anchored me ashore."
"It's long time. Some time I'd like to hear of some of the places you visited. But I'd better get at that advertisement."
"No hurry—the newspaper office is only a few blocks from here."
"But you want this advertisement to go in tomorrow, don't you?"
"They take 'em up to ten o'clock, and maybe later."
Presently the crowd began to thin out, and by nine o'clock only half-a- dozen customers remained. Mrs. Linyard and the old man waited upon these, and Doc Linyard drew up to the table and motioned Richard to go ahead.
"Here is the paper I'm going to put the notice in," he said. "Guess you better follow the style of the other advertisements."
"I will," replied Richard. "What is your brother-in-law's full name?"
"Thomas Clover. He has no middle name."
"And his address?"
"He came from Brighton, England, and lived here, in a number of places on the east side."
"The east side?"
"Yes; he lived somewhere on Cherry Hill last."
"And what is your wife's name?"
"Only Betty. That stands for Elizabeth, I suppose, but she was never anything else to me or anybody else."
"Better let it go at that, then," returned Richard. "Now what is the name of the estate to be divided?"
The old sailor told him.
"And say we want to hear from them at once," he added.
Richard went to work earnestly. Several attempts to get the advertisement into proper shape were failures. Finally he produced the following:
INFORMATION WANTED IMMEDIATELY of THOMAS CLOVER or his heirs, formerly of Brighton, England, but when last heard of lived in Cherry Street, this city. He is an heir of the PELEG SABINE estate which awaits settlement. Address DOC LINYARD, THE WATCH BELOW, West Street, New York.
"How will that do?" asked the boy.
"First-rate?" cried Linyard. "Only don't put my address on it. I want the answer to come through a box in the newspaper office. I don't want to be bothered by lawyers and detectives looking for a job on the case."
"I see," said Richard, and crossing out the address he substituted the words:
"Doc, box —-, this office."
"Guess I'll take a walk over to the newspaper office at once," said the old tar, when the boy had finished. "Reckon as how pop and the mistress can get along for a while. I suppose you'd like to come along."
"Indeed I would. I'd like to see as much of the city as I can before I get to work."
"There's lots of strange sights, no doubt, to new eyes like yours. You'll find lots that's bright and a heap more that's dark and dismal enough."
A moment later they set out. Passing up Liberty Street, they turned into Greenwich and walked along to Fulton.
The Elevated Road, with its noise, was a surprise to the boy, but he was not allowed time to notice it long, for the sailor hurried him up Fulton Street, to St. Paul's Church, and then they stood on Broadway. "What a busy—an awfully busy—street!" was Richard's comment.
"It's rather dull now," said Doc Linyard. "Just wait till day-time. The wagons and people are enough to drive a man wild. That's the postoffice over there," he continued, as he pointed to the stone structure that stands as a wedge, separating Broadway from Park Row and the Bowery.
"Come ahead. Here we are on Newspaper Row, as lots call it. This was the Herald building before that paper moved uptown. It used to be Barnum's Museum years ago. Way down at the head of Frankfort Street is the World, and nearly all the rest of the great dailies are strung along between the two. Here we are."
As Doc Linyard finished he led the way into the outer office of a newspaper about midway down the Row.
It was a lively place, a constant stream of people coming in and going out, and the hum of many voices—the whole putting Richard in mind of some huge machine, grinding out its stipulated work.
Along one side of the counting room was a row of small windows, each labeled with its department name.
Stepping up to that marked "Advertisements," the old sailor handed in the one Richard had written out.
The clerk examined it. Then he wrote in the number of a box, and put down several private marks in the corner.
"Pay at the next desk," he said, handing the paper back.
"How much will it be?" asked Linyard.
At the next window the man in charge put the advertisement on file along with numerous others. Then he took the money the tar handed over, and in return filled out a printed order entitling the bearer to receive all letters bearing the address advertised, for ten days.
"It will go in to-morrow?" asked the tar.
"Suppose we take a walk up the Bowery," suggested the sailor, when they were once more outside. "It's early yet."
Richard readily consented. He had often heard his father speak of the street—how beautiful it had been years ago, and how trade had taken hold of it, and the boy was curious to see what it was like.
The thoroughfare was a revelation to him, just as it is to every one seeing it for the first time. The shops huddled together, their show-windows littered with articles of every description, the second-hand establishments, the pawnbrokers, the peddlers and street-stand merchants, who offered everything from shoelaces to collars, books and trick novelties, were all decidedly new to him.
One stand in particular attracted his attention. It was laden with choice books, at remarkably low prices. There was a well-bound history of the United States for forty-five cents, and a beautiful edition of Shakspere, with steel engravings, for the small price of one dollar.
"Selling 'em off cheap," cried the vender, putting several volumes in Richard's hands. "Take 'em right along. You'll miss the opportunity of a lifetime if you don't."
"They are very nice," replied the boy. "But I guess I won't take any to-night."
"You'd better. They may be all gone by to-morrow. This is only a job lot, and dirt cheap."
"No, I guess not," and Richard put the books reluctantly back on the stand.
"Give you a special discount of ten per cent," persisted the dealer.
"No; I haven't the money."
"Oh! Well, come around to-morrow. I'll lay the books aside for you."
"No, don't do that. I may not be back," and without waiting for further words, Richard hurried off.
Meanwhile Doc Linyard, all unconscious of what was transpiring, had gone on ahead, and when Richard looked around for him, the old sailor was nowhere to be seen.
Rather startled, the boy hurried along to catch up. But under the Elevated Railroad and down by the Brooklyn Bridge all was confusion and jam, and in a moment Richard realized that he had lost his friend.
He hurried along several blocks, and then just as rapidly retraced his steps. But it was useless. Doc Linyard had disappeared in the crowd and was not to be found.
"Now I'm in a pretty pickle," thought Richard. "I suppose there is nothing to do but get back to the Watch Below."
But that was easier said than done. The boy did not like to make too many inquiries, and so started off on his own account.
He paid dearly for the experiment. A wrong turn or two, and lo! it took Richard an hour to get back to West Street and to the restaurant.
And arrived here, an awkward state of affairs confronted the boy. The Watch Below was closed for the night. All was dark, and not a soul was in sight!
THE FIRST NIGHT IN NEW YORK.
For an instant a feeling of intense loneliness swept over Richard's heart as he stood on the dark and silent pavement. He had firmly counted upon spending the night at the Watch Below, and now to find that place closed up caused his heart to sink within him. He reproached himself bitterly for having allowed his curiosity and love of books to make him forgetful of his situation.
"How am I ever to get along in this world unless I watch out?" he said to himself dismally. "I suppose it will do no good to knock on the door. By the way the place is located, the sleeping-room must be upstairs in the rear, and I might pound till doomsday without any one hearing me."
Nevertheless, he rapped loudly upon the door, not once, but several times, and so hard that he drew the attention of the policeman on that beat.
"Phat are you trying to do?" asked the officer as he came up.
"I want to get in;" and Richard related the particulars of his plight.
"You'll have a job, me b'y," was the reply. "Mrs. Betty slapes like a log."
They waited for several minutes in silence. But nobody appeared and no sound came from within.
"Phat are you going to do?" asked the policeman finally.
"I don't know, I'm sure. My valise is inside with my money. I've only got twenty cents in change in my pocket."
"There's a lodging-house in Washington Street where you can get a bed for that," went on the officer. "But it's not over clean."
"I don't want to go where it's dirty," replied the boy, shuddering.
And for a brief instant a vision of his own neat and tidy cot at home floated through his mind.
"Well, oi dunno; you can't stay out here."
While trying to plan what to do a man turned the corner and came toward them. By the walk Richard recognized Doc Linyard, and with a cry of joy he ran up to the old tar.
"Ahoy! so here you are?" exclaimed the sailor, his face beaming with satisfaction. "A nice chase you've led me! Where did you go to?"
"Nowhere. I stopped to look at some books and then I couldn't find you again," replied Richard. "I'm so glad you've come. They've gone to bed."
"All below decks, eh? Well, it's time. I've spent an hour looking for you over on the Bowery. How are you, Mulligan?" the last to the policeman, who nodded pleasantly.
Producing a key, Doc Linyard opened the restaurant door. Then he handed the policeman a cigar as a reward for the trouble the officer had taken, and he and Richard entered.
The old sailor locked the door carefully behind them and lit a hand lamp that his thoughtful wife had placed upon the front counter.
"I thought such places as this kept lights all night," observed Richard, as they walked back.
"Most of 'em do,—them as has gas. But the insurance companies think oil dangerous, so we do without."
Doc Linyard preceded the boy up a narrow stairway to a small room on the third floor.
"Here you are," he exclaimed, as he set the lamp down on a table. "Betty got it all fixed for you. There's your valise and the bed's waiting for you. Take my advice and don't get up too early, not afore seven o'clock any way,—and pleasant dreams to you."
"Thank you; the same to you," replied Richard sincerely.
It was a cozy apartment, and the boy had not been in it over five minutes before he felt perfectly at home. Before retiring he sat down to write the promised letter home.
He had no ink; but paper and envelopes had been brought along, and in half an hour his lead pencil had filled several sheets with a very creditable account of what had transpired.
This done he undressed and retired, not, however, before thanking God for his kind care, and asking for His help and guidance during whatever was to follow.
Despite the varied fortunes of his trip, the boy's sleep was a sound one, and it lacked but a few minutes to seven when he awoke in the morning.
A basin of clean water stood on a stand at the foot of the bed, and after a plunge into this, he dressed, combed his hair, and went below.
Of course the restaurant was already comfortably filled, and as a matter of fact, had been for over an hour.
"Hello, my hearty! on deck I see," called out Doc Linyard. "I hope you slept well in your strange bunk." "First rate," was Richard's reply. "And longer than I expected, too. Guess I'll start right out to look for work.
"Not afore you've had some breakfast. Sit down, and I'll fetch you some coffee and biscuits. Here's the morning papers; you can look 'em over—the Male Help Wanted column. Reckon you'll find something worth trying for."
Finding remonstrances of no avail, Richard sat down and allowed himself to be helped to a morning repast.
While eating he looked over the paper, and found quite a number of places worth hunting up. By the aid of the map Mr. Joyce had loaned him he sorted out the addresses in regular order, and put them down in his note-book.
"Here is that newspaper office order," said the sailor, as Richard was about to leave. "If you're around in that neighborhood in the afternoon just see if there are any answers. One might have come already."
"I will," replied Richard. "Can I leave my valise here?"
"Certainly; I want you to make yourself at home here until you find a better place."
"Thank you. But I must pay you—"
"Not a cent. You helped me, and I'm going to do my duty by you. I'm no land shark."
And the old sailor shook his head in a way that showed he meant every word he said.
BOY WANTED, bright and active; to help feed. Norris Printing Co., Water St., near Wall.
Such was the wording of the first advertisement on Richard's list.
He knew Wall Street ran from Broadway opposite Trinity Church, towards the East River, and he was not long in reaching that famous money mart, where millions of dollars change hands each day between the hours of 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. The grand approaches to many of the buildings made him feel timid, and he could not help but wonder if the place to which he was going was also so magnificent.
But Water Street, crooked, ill paved and dirty, was a decided contrast to its neighbor. Storage and warehouses abounded; and the numerous trucks backed up to receive or deliver goods necessitated walking more in the street than on the sidewalk.
The building occupied by the Norris Printing Co. was at length reached. The office was on the second floor, and climbing up a flight of worn and grimy steps, Richard knocked at the door.
"Come in," said a voice from inside, and he entered.
"I understand you want a boy to help feed," he began, addressing a man who sat at a desk piled with books and printed sheets.
"Apply to Mr. Nelson, in the basement," was the brief reply.
The stairs to the lowest floor were even narrower than the others had been. It led to a pressroom that seemed to be one mass of motion and noise.
Mr. Nelson proved to be a pleasant man of perhaps fifty.
"Had any experience?" he asked, after Richard had announced his errand.
"No, sir; but I think I can learn as quickly as anybody."
"Perhaps; but we couldn't pay you so much while you were learning."
"How much would you start me at—if I worked real hard?"
Mr. Nelson hesitated.
"We'll give you two dollars a week to begin," he said. "When you can do as much as the rest we'll raise you to three or four."
Richard's hopes fell. Even four dollars a week would barely keep him, much less allow of money being sent home.
"I'm afraid I can't accept it," he said. "I must support myself and I can't do it on two dollars a week."
"It's all we can allow," replied Mr. Nelson, and he turned away to his work.
In a moment Richard was on the street again. The setback chilled his ardor, but only for an instant, and then he hurried on to the next place.
It was a confectionery store, and entering, he purchased five cents' worth of chewing gum, such as he knew his little sister would like.
"I understand you want a boy," he said to the proprietor, who happened to be the one to wait on him.
"I hired one about an hour ago," was the reply. "Are you looking for a place?"
The man gave Richard a sharp glance.
"You look like a bright sort of a chap," he said. "Suppose you leave me your address? The other boy may not suit."
So Richard put down his name and the address of the Watch Below.
"I'm only stopping there temporarily," he explained, "and may leave, but I'll drop around again in a day or two if I don't strike anything else."
"Do; I don't like the other boy much. I only took him because a friend asked me to."
"What do you pay?"
"Four dollars a week, and I might make it five if you would be willing to help on the wagon as well as in the store."
"I certainly would," replied Richard promptly. "I'm willing to work real hard at anything, providing it's honest."
"That's the way I like to hear a lad talk," said the confectioner approvingly.
"Five dollars a week is certainly better than two," was Richard's mental comment, as he hurried along. "Perhaps the next place will offer something better still."
But the next place was already filled; and so were the three that followed.
The seventh was on Vesey Street, the neighborhood that supplies half the metropolis with tea and coffee. A boy was wanted to help fill orders and deliver—a man's work—though Richard did not know it.
"We'll pay you seven dollars," was the merchant's reply, after the boy had inquired after the place. "You will have to deliver principally, and collect, of course."
"And when can I go to work?" asked Richard, overjoyed at an opening that promised so well.
"Anytime. Right away if you like. But you'll have to furnish twenty-five dollars security." This news put a damper on the boy's hopes.
"Twenty-five dollars security?" he repeated.
"Yes. You'll have more than that to collect"—which was not true—"and of course you will be responsible, and must turn in the money for every order taken out."
"I'd be sure to do that, or else return the goods."
"We don't take the goods back," was the firm reply. "Everything that goes out has been ordered and is charged to the account of the one taking the goods out."
"Who takes the orders?"
"But the orders may not be good," suggested the boy. "People sometimes change their minds, especially when they've been talked into buying."
"The orders are always good. Besides, if a person refuses to honor his order all you've got to do is to turn round and sell the packages to some one else. Come, what do you say? You'd better try it. It's a good offer."
"I haven't got the money," was Richard's reply.
And for some reason he was glad of the fact.
"Better get it then and go to work," urged the merchant. "You can't make seven dollars a week easier."
"I'll think it over," replied the boy.
There was something in the offer that did not strike him favorably, and indeed it was a good thing that he was not in a position to accept it.
The whole proposition was hardly above a common swindle, enough bogus orders being put among the honest ones either to make the one undertaking the job do a lot of peddling on his own account, or else cause him to pay away half his salary on the goods left over.
Walking up Vesey Street, Richard found himself directly opposite the post-office. By the clock on St. Paul's he saw that it was long after noon.
Rather disheartened at his non-success after spending a whole morning in the search for work, he rounded the Astor House corner and crossed Broadway.
"Newspaper Row," as Doc Linyard had appropriately called it, was just across the opposite street, and the boy made up his mind to visit the office where the advertisement had been left, and see if there were any letters as yet for the old sailor.
The doors of the post-office were open on both sides, and, curious to see how the building looked inside, Richard started to go through instead of going around.
The many departments upon the ground floor were a study to him, and the signs—Domestic Mails, Foreign Mails, Letters for New York City, Letters for Outgoing Mails—all this was in strong contrast to the little three by four box that held all the mail of the village at home.
And the many private boxes! He guessed there must be ten thousand of them. Every second a new-comer walked up to open one.
Presently a familiar figure stepped up to one directly in front of Richard, and taking out a handful of letters, closed the box and turned to go away.