RUFUS AND ROSE;
OR, THE FORTUNES OF ROUGH AND READY.
BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.
AUTHOR OF "RAGGED DICK," "FAME AND FORTUNE," "MARK, THE MATCH BOY," "ROUGH AND READY," "BEN, THE LUGGAGE BOY," "CAMPAIGN SERIES," "LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES," ETC.
PHILADELPHIA: PORTER & COATES.
To MY YOUNG FRIENDS, HENRY AND EUGENE, THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
In presenting to the public the last volume of the "RAGGED DICK SERIES," the author desires to return his thanks for the generous reception accorded, both by the press and the public, to these stories of street life. Several of the characters are drawn from life, and nearly all of the incidents are of actual occurrence. Indeed, the materials have been found so abundant that invention has played but a subordinate part.
The principal object proposed, in the preparation of these volumes, has been to show that the large class of street boys—numbering thousands in New York alone—furnishes material out of which good citizens may be made, if the right influences are brought to bear upon them. In every case, therefore, the author has led his hero, step by step, from vagabondage to a position of respectability; and, in so doing, has incurred the charge, in some quarters, of exaggeration. It can easily be shown, however, that he has fallen short of the truth, rather than exceeded it. In proof, the following extract from an article in a New York daily paper is submitted:—
"As a class, the newsboys of New York are worthy of more than common attention. The requirements of the trade naturally tend to develop activity both of mind and body, and, in looking over some historical facts, we find that many of our most conspicuous public men have commenced their careers as newsboys. Many of the principal offices of our city government and our chief police courts testify to the truth of this assertion. From the West we learn that many of the most enterprising journalists spring from the same stock."
Not long since, while on a western journey, the Superintendent of the Lodging House in Park Place found one of his boys filling the position of District Attorney in a western State, another settled as a clergyman, and still others prosperous and even wealthy business men. These facts are full of encouragement for those who are laboring to redeem and elevate the street boy, and train him up to fill a respectable position in society.
Though the six volumes already issued complete his original purpose, the author finds that he has by no means exhausted his subject, and is induced to announce a second series, devoted to still other phases of street life. This will shortly be commenced, under the general name of the
"TATTERED TOM SERIES." New York, November 1, 1870.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"DON'T YOU TRY TO FOOL ME."
"I'LL TEACH YOU TO DO IT AGAIN."
RUFUS AND ROSE;
OR, THE FORTUNES OF ROUGH AND READY.
"So this is to be your first day in Wall Street, Rufus," said Miss Manning.
"Yes," said Rufus, "I've retired from the newspaper business on a large fortune, and now I'm going into business in Wall Street just to occupy my time."
The last speaker was a stout, well-grown boy of fifteen, with a pleasant face, calculated to inspire confidence. He looked manly and self-reliant, and firm of purpose. For years he had been a newsboy, plying his trade in the streets of New York, and by his shrewdness, and a certain ready wit, joined with attention to business, he had met with better success than most of his class. He had been a leader among them, and had received the name of "Rough and Ready," suggested in part, no doubt, by his name, Rufus; but the appellation described not inaptly his prominent traits. He understood thoroughly how to take care of himself, and thought it no hardship, that, at an age when most boys are tenderly cared for, he was sent out into the streets to shift for himself.
His mother had been dead for some time. His step-father, James Martin, was a drunkard, and he had been compelled to take away his little sister Rose from the miserable home in which he had kept her, and had undertaken to support her, as well as himself. He had been fortunate enough to obtain a home for her with Miss Manning, a poor seamstress, whom he paid for her services in taking care of Rose. His step-father, in order to thwart and torment him, had stolen the little girl away, and kept her in Brooklyn for a while, until Rufus got a clue to her whereabouts, and succeeded in getting her back. At the time when the story opens, he had just recovered her, and having been fortunate enough to render an important service to Mr. Turner, a Wall Street broker, was on this Monday morning to enter his office, at a salary of eight dollars a week.
This sketch of the newsboy's earlier history is given for the benefit of those who have not read the book called "Rough and Ready," in which it is related at length. It is necessary to add that Rufus was in some sense a capitalist, having five hundred dollars deposited in a savings-bank to his credit. Of this sum, he had found three hundred one day, which, as no claimant ever appeared for it, he had been justified in appropriating to his own use. The remainder had been given him by Mr. Turner, in partial acknowledgment of the service before referred to.
"Your new life will seem strange to you at first, Rufus," said Miss Manning.
"Yes, it does already. When I woke up this morning, I was going to jump out of bed in a hurry, thinking I must go round to Nassau Street to get my papers. Then all at once I thought that I'd given up being a newsboy. But it seemed queer."
"I didn't know but you'd gone back to your old business," said the seamstress, pointing to a paper in his hand.
"It's this morning's 'Herald,'" explained Rufus; "you and Rose will have to be looking for another room where Martin can't find you. You'll find two columns of advertisements of 'Boarders and Lodgers Wanted,' so you can take your choice."
"I'll go out this morning," said the seamstress.
"All right. Take Rose along with you, or you may find her missing when you get back."
There was considerable reason to fear that the step-father, James Martin, would make a fresh attempt to get possession of Rose, and Rufus felt that it was prudent to guard against this.
"Have you had breakfast, Rufus?"
"Yes; I got breakfast at the Lodging House."
Here it may be remarked that Rufus had enjoyed advantages superior to most of his class, and spoke more correctly in general, but occasionally fell into modes of pronunciation such as he was accustomed to hear from his street associates. He had lately devoted a part of his evenings to study, under the superintendence of Miss Manning, who, coming originally from a country home, had had a good common-school education.
"It's time I was going down to the office," said Rufus. "Good-morning, Miss Manning. Good-morning, Rosy," as he stooped to kiss his little sister, a pretty little girl of eight.
"Good-morning, Rufie. Don't let Mr. Martin carry you off."
"I think he'd have a harder job to carry me off than you, Rosy," said Rufus, laughing. "Don't engage lodgings on Fifth Avenue, Miss Manning. I'm afraid it would take more than I can earn in Wall Street to pay my share of the expense."
"I shall be content with an humbler home," said the seamstress, smiling.
Rufus left the little room, which, by the way, looked out on Franklin Street near the Hudson River, and the seamstress, taking the "Herald," turned to the column of "Boarders and Lodgers Wanted."
There was a long list, but the greater part of the rooms advertised were quite beyond her slender means. Remembering that it would be prudent to get out of their present neighborhood, in order to put the drunken step-father off the track, she looked for places farther up town. The objection to this, however, was, that prices advance as you go up town. Still the streets near the river are not considered so eligible, and she thought that they might find something there. She therefore marked one place on Spring Street, another on Leroy Street, and still another, though with some hesitation, on Christopher Street. She feared that Rufus would object to this as too far up town.
"Now put on your things, Rose, and we'll take a walk."
"That will be nice," said Rose, and the little girl ran to get her shawl and bonnet. When she was dressed for the street, Rose would hardly have been taken for the sister of a newsboy. She had a pretty face, full of vivacity and intelligence, and her brother's pride in her had led him to dress her better than might have been expected from his small means. Many children of families in good circumstances were less neatly and tastefully dressed than Rose.
Taking the little girl by the hand, Miss Manning led the way down the narrow staircase. It was far from a handsome house in which they had thus far made their home. The wall-paper was torn from the walls in places, revealing patches of bare plastering; there was a faded and worn oil-cloth upon the stairs, while outside the rooms at intervals, along the entry, were buckets of dirty water and rubbish, which had been temporarily placed there by the occupants. As it was Monday, washing was going on in several of the rooms, and the vapor arising from hot suds found its way into the entry from one or two half-open doors. On the whole, it was not a nice or savory home, and the seamstress felt no regret in leaving it. But the question was, would she be likely to find a better.
The seamstress made her way first to Spring Street. She was led to infer, from the advertisement, that she might find cheap accommodations. But when she found herself in front of the house designated, she found it so dirty and neglected in appearance that she did not feel like entering. She was sure it would not suit her.
Next she went to Leroy Street. Here she found a neat-looking three-story brick house.
She rang the bell.
"You advertise a room to let," she said to the servant; "can I look at it?"
"I'll speak to the missis," said the girl.
Soon a portly lady made her appearance.
"You have a room to let?" said Miss Manning, interrogatively.
"Can I look at it?"
"It's for a gentleman," said the landlady. "I don't take ladies. Besides, it's rather expensive;" and she glanced superciliously at the plain attire of the seamstress.
Of course there was no more to be said. So Miss Manning and Rose found their way into the street once more.
The last on the list was Christopher Street.
"Come, Rose. Are you tired of walking?"
"Oh, no," said the child; "I can walk ever so far without getting tired."
Christopher Street is only three blocks from Leroy. In less than ten minutes they found themselves before the house advertised. It was a fair-looking house, but the seamstress found, on inquiry, that the room was a large one on the second floor, and that the rent would be beyond her means. She was now at the end of her list.
"I think, Rose," she said, "we will go to Washington Square, and sit down on one of the seats. I shall have to look over the paper again."
This square is a park of considerable size, comprising very nearly ten acres. Up to 1832, it had been for years used as a Potter's Field, or public cemetery, and it is estimated that more than one hundred thousand bodies were buried there. But in 1832 it became a park. There is a basin and a fountain in the centre, and it is covered with trees of considerable size. At frequent intervals there are benches for the accommodation of those who desire to pass an hour or two in the shade of the trees. In the afternoon, particularly, may be seen a large number of children playing in the walks, and nurse-maids drawing their young charges in carriages, or sitting with them on the seats.
Rose was soon busied in watching the sports of some children of her own age, while Miss Manning carefully scanned the advertisements. But she found nothing to reward her search. At length her attention was drawn to the following advertisement:—
"No. —, Waverley Place. Two small rooms. Terms reasonable."
"That must be close by," thought the seamstress.
She was right, for Waverley Place, commencing at Broadway, runs along the northern side of Washington Square. Before the up-town movement commenced, it was a fashionable quarter, and even now, as may be inferred from the character of the houses, is a very nice and respectable street, particularly that part which fronts the square.
Miss Manning could see the number mentioned from where she was seated, and saw at a glance that it was a nice house. Of course it was beyond her means,—she said that to herself; still, prompted by an impulse which she did not attempt to resist, she determined to call and make inquiries about the rooms advertised.
THE HOUSE IN WAVERLEY PLACE.
Leaving the Park, Miss Manning crossed the street, went up the front steps of a handsome house, and rang the bell.
"What a nice house!" said Rose, admiringly; "are we going to live here?"
"No, I don't think we can afford it; but I will ask to see the rooms."
Soon the door was opened, and a servant-girl looked at them inquiringly.
"Can I see the rooms you have to let?" asked the seamstress.
"Step in a moment, and I'll call Mrs. Clayton."
They stepped into a hall, and remained waiting till a woman of middle age, with a pleasant countenance, came up from below, where she had been superintending the servants.
"I saw your advertisement of rooms to let," commenced Miss Manning, a little timidly, for she knew that the house was a finer one than with her limited means she could expect to enter, and felt a little like a humbug.
"Yes, I have two small rooms vacant."
"Are they—expensive?" asked the seamstress, with hesitation.
"I ought to say that only one is at my disposal," said the landlady; "and that is a hall bedroom on the third floor back. The other is a square room, nicely furnished, on the upper floor, large enough for two. But last evening, after I had sent in the advertisement, Mrs. Colman, who occupies my second floor front, told me she intended to get a young lady to look after her two little girls during the day, and teach them, and would wish her to occupy the larger room. I thought when I first saw you that you were going to apply for the situation."
A sudden thought came to Miss Manning. Why could she not undertake this office? It would pay her much better than sewing, and the children would be companions for Rose.
"How old are the little girls?" she said.
"One is five, the other seven, years old. Mrs. Colman is an invalid, and does not feel able to have the children with her all the time."
"Is Mrs. Colman at home?"
"Yes. Would you like to see her?"
"I should. I am fond of children, and I might be willing to undertake the charge of hers, if she thought fit to intrust them to me."
"I think it quite likely you can come to an agreement. She was wondering this morning where she could hear of a suitable person. Wait here a moment, and I will go and speak to her."
Mrs. Clayton went upstairs, and returned shortly.
"Mrs. Colman would like to see you," she said. "I will lead the way."
Miss Manning followed the landlady upstairs, and was ushered into a large, handsomely furnished room on the second floor. There was a cheerful fire in the grate, and beside it, in an easy-chair, sat a lady, looking nervous and in delicate health. Two little girls, who seemed full of the health and vitality which their mother lacked, were romping noisily on the floor.
"Mrs. Colman," said the landlady, "this is the young lady I spoke of."
"Take a seat, please," said Mrs. Colman, politely. "I am an invalid as you see, Mrs. ——?" here she looked up inquiringly.
"Miss Manning," said the seamstress.
"Then the little girl is not yours?"
"Not mine; but I have the care of her, as her mother is dead."
"How old is she?"
"A little older than my Jennie. Are you fond of children, Miss Manning?"
"Very much so."
"I am looking for some one who will look after my little girls during the day, and teach them. At present they know absolutely nothing, and I have not been willing to send them out of the house to school. What I have been thinking is, of securing some one who would live in the house, and take the care of the children off my hands. I am an invalid, as you see, and sometimes their noise absolutely distracts me."
Miss Manning was struck with pity, as she noticed the pale, nervous face of the invalid.
"Then the children need to go out and take a walk every day; but I have no one to send with them. You wouldn't object to that, would you?"
"No, I should like it."
"Could you come soon?"
"I could come to-morrow, if you desire it," said Miss Manning, promptly.
"I wish you would. I have a nervous headache which will last me some days, I suppose, and the children can't keep still. I suppose it is their nature to be noisy."
"I can take them out for an hour now, if you like it, Mrs. Colman. It would give me a chance to get acquainted."
"Would you? It would be quite a relief to me, and to them too. Oh, there is one thing we must speak of. What compensation will satisfy you?"
"I don't know how much I ought to ask. I am willing to leave that matter to you."
"You would want your little girl to live with you, I suppose."
"Yes, she needs me to look after her."
"Very well. Then I will pay Mrs. Clayton for the board of both of you, and if two dollars a week would satisfy you—"
Would satisfy her? Miss Manning's breath was quite taken away at the magnificent prospect that opened before her. She could hardly conceive it possible that her services were worth a home in so nice a house and two dollars a week besides. Why, toiling early and late at her needle, she had barely earned hitherto, thirty-seven cents a day, and out of that all her expenses had to be paid. Now she would still be able to sew while the children were learning their lessons. She would no longer be the occupant of a miserable tenement house, but would live in a nice quarter of the city. She felt devoutly thankful for the change: but, on the whole, considered that perhaps it was not best to let Mrs. Colman see just how glad she was. So she simply expressed herself as entirely satisfied with the terms that were offered. Mrs. Colman seemed glad that this matter had been so easily arranged.
"Mrs. Clayton will show you the room you are to occupy," she said. "I have not been into it, but I understand that it is very comfortable. If there is any addition in the way of furniture which you may require, I will make it at my own expense."
"Thank you. You are very kind."
Here Mrs. Clayton reappeared, and, at the request of Mrs. Colman, offered to show them the room which they were to occupy.
"It is on the upper floor," she said, apologetically; "but it is of good size and pleasant, when you get to it."
She led the way into the room. It was, as she had said, a pleasant one, well lighted, and of good size. A thick woollen carpet covered the floor; there were a bureau, a clothes-press, a table, and other articles needful to make it comfortable. After the poor room they had occupied, it looked very attractive.
"I think I shall like it," said Miss Manning, with satisfaction.
"Are we to live here?" asked Rose, who had not quite understood the nature of the arrangement.
"Yes, Rosy; do you think you shall like it?"
"Oh, yes, ever so much. When are we coming?"
"To-morrow morning. You will have two little girls to play with."
"The little girls I saw in that lady's room downstairs?"
"Yes. Do you think you shall like it?"
"I think it will be very nice," said Rose, with satisfaction.
"Well, how do you like the room, Miss Manning?" said Mrs. Colman, when they had returned from upstairs.
"It looks very pleasant. I have no doubt I shall like it."
"I think you will need a rocking-chair and a sofa. I will ask Mr. Colman to step into some upholsterer's as he goes down town to-morrow, and send them up. If it wouldn't be too much trouble, Miss Manning, I will ask you to help Carrie and Jennie on with their hats and cloaks. They quite enjoy the thought of a run out of doors with you and your little girl. By the way, what is her name?"
"A very pretty name. I have no doubt the three children will soon become excellent friends. She seems a nice little girl."
"Rose is a nice little girl," said the seamstress, affectionately.
In a short time they were on their way downstairs. In the hall below they met the landlady once more.
"What is the price of your hall bedroom, Mrs. Clayton?" asked Miss Manning.
"Five dollars and a half a week," was the answer.
It needs to be mentioned that this was in the day of low prices, and that such an apartment now, with board, would cost at least twelve dollars a week.
"What made you ask, Miss Manning?" said Rose.
"I was thinking that perhaps Rufus might like to take it."
"Oh, I wish he would," said Rose; "then we would all be together."
"We are speaking of her brother," said Miss Manning, turning to Mrs. Clayton.
"How old is he?"
"Is he at school, or in a place?"
"He is in a broker's office in Wall Street."
"Then, as he is the little girl's brother, I will say only five dollars a week for the room."
"Thank you, Mrs. Clayton. I will let you know what he decides upon to-morrow."
They went out to walk, going as far as Union Square, where Miss Manning sat down on a bench, and let the children sport at will. It is needless to say that they very soon got well acquainted, and after an hour and a half, which their bright eyes testified to their having enjoyed, Miss Manning carried the little Colmans back to Waverley Place, and, with Rose, took the horse-cars back to their old home.
"Won't Rufie be surprised when he hears about it?" said Rose.
"Yes, Rosy, I think he will," said Miss Manning.
JAMES MARTIN'S VICISSITUDES.
While Miss Manning is seeking a new boarding-place for herself and Rose, events are taking place in Brooklyn which claim our attention. It is here that James Martin, the shiftless and drunken step-father of Rufus and Rose, has made a temporary residence. He had engaged board at the house of a widow, Mrs. Waters, and for two or three weeks paid his board regularly, being employed at his trade of a carpenter on some houses going up near by. But it was not in James Martin's nature to work steadily at anything. His love of drink had spoiled a once good and industrious workman, and there seemed to be little chance of any permanent improvement in his character or habits. For a time Rufus used to pay him over daily the most of his earnings as a newsboy, and with this he managed to live miserably enough without doing much himself. But after a while Rufus became tired of this arrangement, and withdrew himself and his sister to another part of the town, thus throwing Martin on his own resources. Out of spite Martin contrived to kidnap Rose, but, as we have seen, her brother had now succeeded in recovering her.
After losing Rose, Martin took the way back to his boarding-house, feeling rather doubtful of his reception from Mrs. Waters, to whom he was owing a week's board, which he was quite unable to pay. He had told her that he would pay the bill as soon as he could exchange a fifty-dollar note, which it is needless to say was only an attempt at deception, since he did not even possess fifty cents.
On entering the house, he went at once to his room, and lay down on the bed till the supper-bell rang. Then he came down, and took his place at the table with the rest of the boarders.
"Where's your little girl, Mr. Martin?" inquired Mrs. Waters, missing Rose.
"She's gone on a visit to some of her relations in New York," answered Martin, with some degree of truth.
"How long is she to stay?"
"'Till she can have some new clothes made up; maybe two or three weeks."
"That's rather sudden, isn't it? You didn't think of her going this morning?"
"No," answered Martin, with his mouth full of toast; "but she teased so hard to go, I let her. She's a troublesome child. I shall be glad to have the care of her off my mind for a time."
This might be true; but Mrs. Waters was beginning to lose confidence in Mr. Martin's statements. She felt that it was the part of prudence to make sure of the money he was already owing her, and then on some pretext get rid of him.
When supper was over, Martin rose, and was about to go out, but Mrs. Waters was too quick for him.
"Mr. Martin," she said, "may I speak to you a moment?"
"Yes, ma'am," answered Martin, turning reluctantly.
"I suppose you are ready to pay my bill; I need the money particularly."
"I'll pay it to-morrow, Mrs. Waters."
"You promised to pay me as soon as you changed a bill, and this morning you said you should have a chance to change it, as you were going to buy your little girl some new clothes."
"I know I did," said Martin, feeling cornered.
"I suppose, therefore, you can pay me the money to-night," said Mrs. Waters, sharply.
"Why, the fact is, Mrs. Waters," said Martin, awkwardly, "I was very unfortunate. As I was sitting in the horse-car coming home, I had my pocket picked of all the money I got in change. There was some over forty dollars."
"I'm sorry," said Mrs. Waters, coldly, for she did not believe a word of this; "but I need my money."
"If it hadn't been for that, I'd have paid you to-night."
"There's only one word I have to say, Mr. Martin," said the landlady, provoked; "if you can't pay me, you must find another boarding-place."
"I'll attend to it in a day or two. I guess I can get the money to-morrow."
"If you can't pay me to-night, you'll oblige me by giving up your room to-morrow morning. I'm a poor widder, Mr. Martin, and I must look out for number one. I can't afford to keep boarders that don't pay their bills."
There was one portion of this speech that set Mr. Martin to thinking. Mrs. Waters was a widow—he was a widower. By marrying her he would secure a home, and the money received from the boarders would be paid to him. He might not be accepted. Still it would do no harm to try.
"Mrs. Waters," he said, abruptly, wreathing his features into what he considered an attractive smile, "since I lost my wife I've been feeling very lonely. I need a wife to look after me and my little gal. If you will marry me, we'll live happy, and—"
"Thank you, Mr. Martin," said Mrs. Waters, considerably astonished at the sudden turn affairs had taken; "but I've got too much to do to think about marrying. Leastways, I don't care about marrying a man that can't pay his board-bill."
"Just as you say," answered Martin, philosophically; "I've give you a good chance. Perhaps you won't get another very soon."
"Well, if there isn't impudence for you!" ejaculated Mrs. Waters, as her boarder left the room. "I must be hard up for a husband, to marry such a shiftless fellow as he is."
The next morning, Mr. Martin made his appearance, as usual, at the breakfast-table. Notwithstanding his proposal of marriage had been so decidedly rejected the day before, his appetite was not only as good as usual, but considerably better. In fact, as he was not quite clear where his dinner was to come from, or whether, indeed, he should have any at all, he thought it best to lay in sufficient to last him for several hours. Mrs. Waters contemplated with dismay the rapid manner in which he disposed of the beef-steak and hash which constituted the principal dishes of her morning meal, and decided that the sooner she got rid of such a boarder the better.
Mr. Martin observed the eyes of the landlady fixed upon him, and misinterpreted it. He thought it possible she might have changed her mind as to the refusal of the day before, and resolved to renew his proposal. Accordingly he lingered till the rest of the boarders had left the table.
"Mrs. Waters," he said, "maybe you've changed your mind since yesterday."
"About what?" demanded the landlady, sharply.
"About marrying me."
"No, I haven't," answered the widow; "you needn't mention the matter again. When I want to marry you, I'll send and let you know."
"All right!" said Martin; "there's several after me, but I'll wait a week for you."
"Oh, don't trouble yourself," said the landlady, sarcastically; "I don't want to disappoint anybody else. Can you pay me this morning?"
"I'll have the money in a day or two."
"You needn't come back to dinner unless you bring the money to pay your bill. I can't afford to give you your board."
Mr. Martin rose and left the house, understanding pretty clearly that he couldn't return. On reaching the street, he opened his pocket-book, and ascertained that twelve cents were all it contained. This small amount was not likely to last very long. He decided to go to New York, having no further inducements to keep him in Brooklyn. Something might turn up, he reasoned, in the shiftless manner characteristic of him.
Jumping upon a passing car, he rode down to Fulton Ferry, and crossed in the boat to the New York side, thus expending for travelling expenses eight cents.
Supposing that Rufus still sold papers in front of the "Tribune" office, he proceeded to Printing House Square, and looked around for him; but he was nowhere to be seen.
"Who you lookin' for, gov'nor?" inquired a boot-black, rather short of stature, but with an old-looking face.
"Aint you the boy that went home with me Wednesday?" asked Martin, to whom Ben Gibson's face looked familiar.
"S'posin' I am?"
"Have you seen a newsboy they call Rough and Ready, this morning?"
"Yes, I seed him."
"Where is he? Has he sold all his papers?"
"He's giv' up sellin' papers, and gone into business on Wall Street."
"Don't you try to fool me, or I'll give you a lickin'," said Martin, sternly.
"Thank you for your kind offer," said Ben, "but lickings don't agree with my constitution."
"Why don't you tell me the truth then?"
"You said Rufus had gone into business in Wall Street."
"So he has. A rich cove's taken a fancy to him, and adopted him as a office-boy."
"How much does he pay him?" asked Martin, considering whether there would be any chance of getting some money out of his step-son.
"Not knowin' can't say," replied Ben; "but he's just bought two pocket-books to hold his wages in."
"You're a humbug!" said Martin, indignantly. "What's the man's name he works for?"
"It's painted in big letters on the sign. You can't miss it."
James Martin considered, for an instant, whether it would be best to give Ben a thrashing, but the approach of a policeman led him to decide in the negative.
"Shine yer boots, gov'nor?" asked Ben, professionally.
"Yes," said Martin, rather unexpectedly.
"Payment in advance!" said Ben, who didn't think it prudent to trust in this particular instance.
"I'll tell yer what," said Martin, to whom necessity had taught a certain degree of cunning, "if you'll lend me fifty cents for a week, I'll let you shine my boots every day, and pay you the money besides."
"That's a very kind proposal," said Ben; "but I've just invested all my money on a country-seat up the river, which makes me rather short."
"Then you can't lend me the fifty?"
"No, but I'll tell you where you can get it."
"Up in Chatham Street. There's plenty'll lend it on the security of that hat of yours."
The hat in question was in the last stages of dilapidation, looking as if it had been run over daily by an omnibus, and then used to fill the place of a broken pane, being crushed out of all shape and comeliness.
Martin aimed a blow at Ben, but the boot-black dexterously evaded it, and, slinging his box over his back, darted down Nassau Street.
Later in the day he met Rough and Ready.
"I see the gov'nor this mornin'," said Ben.
"What, Mr. Martin?"
"What did he say?"
"He inquired after you in the most affectionate manner, and wanted to know where you was at work."
"I hope you didn't tell him."
"Not if I know myself. I told him he'd see the name on the sign. Then he wanted to borrow fifty cents for a week."
"It's a good investment, Ben. I've invested considerable money that way. I suppose you gave him the money?"
"Maybe I did. He offered me the chance of blacking his boots every day for a week, if I'd lend him the money; but I had to resign the glorious privilege, not havin' been to the bank this mornin' to withdraw my deposits."
"You talk like a banker, Ben."
"I'm goin' to bankin' some day, when boot-blacking gets dull."
Ben Gibson had been for years a boot-black, having commenced the business when only eight years old. His life had been one of hardship and privation, as street life always is, but he had become toughened to it, and bore it with a certain stoicism, never complaining, but often joking in a rude way at what would have depressed and discouraged a more sensitive temperament. He was by no means a model boy, though not as bad as many of his class. He had learned to smoke and to swear, and did both freely. But there was a certain rude honesty about him which led Rufus, though in every way his superior, to regard him with friendly interest, and he had, on more than one occasion, been of considerable service to our hero in his newsboy days. Rufus had tried to induce him to give up smoking, but thus far without success.
"It keeps a feller warm," he said; "besides it won't hurt me. I'm tough."
HOW JAMES MARTIN CAME TO GRIEF.
After parting with Ben Gibson, James Martin crossed the street to the City Hall Park, and sat down on one of the wooden benches placed there for the public accommodation. Neither his present circumstances nor his future prospects were very brilliant. He was trying to solve the great problem which has troubled so many lazy people, of how best to live without work. There are plenty of men, not only in our cities, but in country villages, who are at work upon this same problem, but few solve it to their satisfaction. Martin was a good carpenter, and might have earned a respectable and comfortable livelihood, instead of wandering about the streets in ragged attire, without a roof to shelter him, or money to pay for a decent meal.
As he sat on the bench, a cigar-boy passed him, with a box of cigars under his arm.
"Cigars," he cried, "four for ten cents!"
"Come here, boy," said Martin. The boy approached.
"I want a cigar."
"I don't sell one. Four for ten cents."
Martin would willingly have bought four, but as his available funds amounted only to four cents, this was impossible.
"I don't want but one; I've only got four cents in change, unless you can change a ten-dollar bill."
"I can't do that."
"Here, take three cents, and give me a prime cigar."
"I'll sell you one for four cents."
"Hand over, then."
So Martin found himself penniless, but the possessor of a cigar, which he proceeded to smoke with as much apparent enjoyment as if he had a large balance to his credit at the bank.
He remained in the Park till his cigar was entirely smoked, and then sauntered out with no definite object in view. It occurred to him, however, that he might as well call on the keeper of a liquor saloon on Baxter Street, which he had frequently patronized.
"How are you, Martin?" asked "Jim," that being the name by which the proprietor was generally known.
"Dry as a fish," was the suggestive reply.
"Then you've come to the right shop. What'll you have?"
Martin expressed his desire for a glass of whiskey, which was poured out, and hastily gulped down.
"I'm out of stamps," said Martin, coolly. "I s'pose you'll trust me till to-morrow."
"Why didn't you say you hadn't any money?" demanded Jim, angrily.
"Come," said Martin, "don't be hard on an old friend. I'll pay you to-morrow."
"Where'll the money come from?" demanded Jim, suspiciously.
This was a question which Martin was quite unable to answer satisfactorily to himself.
"I'll get it some way," he answered.
"You'd better, or else you needn't come into this shop again."
Martin left the saloon rather disappointed. He had had a little idea of asking a small loan from his friend "Jim;" but he judged that such an application would hardly be successful under present circumstances. "Jim's" friendship evidently was not strong enough to justify such a draft upon it.
Martin began to think that it might have been as well, on the whole, to seek employment at his trade in Brooklyn, for a time at least, until he could have accumulated a few dollars. It was rather uncomfortable being entirely without money, and that was precisely his present condition. Even if he had wanted to go back to Brooklyn, he had not even the two cents needed to pay the boat fare. Matters had come to a crisis with Martin financially, and a suspension of specie payments was forced upon him.
He continued to walk about the streets in that aimless way which results from absence of occupation, and found it, on the whole, rather cheerless work. Besides, he was beginning to get hungry. He had eaten a hearty breakfast at his boarding-house in Brooklyn, but it was now one o'clock, and the stomach began to assert its claims once more. He had no money. Still there were places where food, at least, could be had for nothing. He descended into a subterranean apartment, over the door of which was a sign bearing the words FREE LUNCH.
As many of my readers know, these establishments are to be found in most of our cities. A supply of sandwiches, or similar food, is provided free for the use of those who enter, but visitors are expected to call and pay for one or more glasses of liquor, which are sold at such prices that the proprietor may, on the whole, realize a profit.
It was into one of those places that James Martin entered. He went up to the counter, and was about to help himself to the food supplied. After partaking of this, he intended to slip out without the drink, having no money to pay for it. But, unfortunately for the success of his plans, the keeper at the saloon had been taken in two or three times already that day by similar impostors. Still, had James Martin been well-dressed, he could have helped himself unquestioned to the provisions he desired. But his appearance was suspicious. His ragged and dirty attire betokened extreme poverty, and the man in charge saw, at a glance, that his patronage was not likely to be desirable.
"Look here, my friend," he said, abruptly, as Martin was about to help himself, "what'll you take to drink?"
"A glass of ale," said Martin, hesitatingly.
"All right! Pass over the money."
"The fact is," said Martin, "I left my pocket-book at home this morning, and that's why I'm obliged to come in here."
"Very good! Then you needn't trouble yourself to take anything. We don't care about visitors that leave their pocket-books at home."
"I'll pay you double to-morrow," said Martin, who had no hesitation in making promises he hadn't the least intention of fulfilling.
"That won't go down," said the other. "I don't care about seeing such fellows as you at any time. There's the door."
"Do you want to fight?" demanded Martin, angrily.
"No, I don't; but I may kick you out if you don't go peaceably. We don't want customers of your sort."
"I'll smash your head!" said Martin, becoming pugnacious.
"Here, Mike, run up and see if you can't find a policeman."
This hint was not lost upon Martin. He had no great love for the Metropolitan police, and kept out of their way as much as possible. He felt that it would be prudent to evacuate the premises, and did so, muttering threats meanwhile, and not without a lingering glance at the lunch which was not free to him.
This last failure rather disgusted Martin. According to his theory, the world owed him a living; but it seemed as if the world were disposed to repudiate the debt. Fasting is apt to lead to serious reflection, and by this time he was decidedly hungry. How to provide himself with a dinner was a subject that required immediate attention.
He walked about for an hour or two without finding himself at the end of that time any nearer the solution of the question than before. To work all day may be hard; but to do nothing all day on an empty stomach is still harder.
About four o'clock, Martin found himself at the junction of Wall Street and Nassau. I hardly know what drew this penniless man to the street through which flows daily a mighty tide of wealth, but I suspect that he was hoping to meet Rufus, who, as he had learned from Ben Gibson, was employed somewhere on the street. Rufus might, in spite of the manner in which he had treated him, prove a truer friend in need than the worthless companions of his hours of dissipation.
All at once a sharp cry of pain was heard.
A passing vehicle had run over the leg of a boy who had imprudently tried to cross the street just in front of it. The wheels passed over the poor boy's legs, both of which appeared to be broken. Of course, as is always the case under such circumstances, there was a rush to the spot where the casualty took place, and a throng of men and boys gathered about the persons who were lifting the boy from the ground.
"The boy seems to be poor," said a humane by-stander; "let us raise a little fund for his benefit."
A humane suggestion like this is pretty sure to be acted upon by those whose hearts are made tender by the sight of suffering. So most of those present drew out their pocket-books, and quite a little sum was placed in the hands of the original proposer of the contribution.
Among those who had wedged themselves into the crowd was James Martin. Having nothing to do, he had been eager to have his share in the excitement. He saw the collection taken up with an envious wish that it was for his own benefit. Beside him was a banker, who, from a plethoric pocket-book, had drawn a five-dollar bill, which he had contributed to the fund. Closing the pocket-book, he carelessly placed it in an outside pocket. James Martin stood in such a position that the contents of the pocket-book were revealed to him, and the demon of cupidity entered his heart. How much good this money would do him! There were probably several hundred dollars in all, perhaps more. He saw the banker put the money in his pocket,—the one nearest to him. He might easily take it without observation,—so he thought.
In an evil moment he obeyed the impulse which had come to him. He plunged his hand into the pocket; but at this moment the banker turned, and detected him.
"I've caught you, you rascal!" he exclaimed, seizing Martin with a vigorous grip. "Police!"
Martin made a desperate effort to get free, but another man seized him on the other side, and he was held, despite his resistance, till a policeman, who by a singular chance happened to be near when wanted, came up.
Martin's ragged coat was rent asunder from the violence of his efforts, his hat fell off, and he might well have been taken for a desperate character, as in this condition he was marched off by the guardian of the city's peace.
There was another humiliation in store for him. He had gone but a few steps when he met Rufus, who gazed in astonishment at his step-father's plight. Martin naturally supposed that Rufus would exult in his humiliation; but he did him injustice.
"I'm sorry for him," thought our hero, compassionately; "he's done me harm enough, but I'm sorry."
He learned from one of the crowd for what Martin had been arrested, and started for Franklin Street to carry the news to Miss Manning and Rose.
THE LAST EVENING IN FRANKLIN STREET.
Though Rufus felt sorry for Mr. Martin's misfortune, there was at least one satisfaction connected with it. He would doubtless be sent to Blackwell's Island for three months, and of course when there he would be unable to annoy Rose, or contrive any plots for carrying her off. This would be a great relief to Rufus, who felt more than ever how much the presence of his little sister contributed to his happiness. If he was better than the average of the boys employed like himself, it was in a considerable measure due to the fact that he had never been adrift in the streets, but even in the miserable home afforded by his step-father had been unconsciously influenced towards good by the presence of his mother, and latterly by his little sister Rose. He, in his turn, had gained a salutary influence among the street boys, who looked up to him as a leader, though that leadership was gained in the first place by his physical superiority and manly bearing.
It occurred to him, that perhaps, after all, it might not be necessary for Rose and Miss Manning to move from Franklin Street at present, on account of Mr. Martin's arrest. He was rather surprised, when, on entering the little room, after hurrying upstairs two or three steps at a time, he saw Miss Manning's trunk open and half packed, with various articles belonging to herself and Rose spread out beside it.
"Hallo!" he exclaimed, stopping short on the threshold, "what are you doing?"
"Getting ready to move, Rufus," answered the seamstress.
"So you've found a place?"
"Oh, such a nice place, Rufie!" chimed in little Rose; "there's a nice carpet, and there's going to be a sofa, and oh, it's beautiful!"
"So you're going to live in style, are you?" said Rufus. "But how about the cost, Miss Manning?"
"That's the pleasantest part of it," was the reply; "it isn't going to cost me anything, and I am to be paid two dollars a week besides."
Rufus looked bewildered.
"Can't I get a chance there too?" he asked. "I'd be willin' to give 'em the pleasure of my society for half a price, say a dollar a week, besides a room."
"We are to be boarded also," said Miss Manning, in a tone of satisfaction.
"If it's a conundrum I'll give it up," said Rufus; "just tell a feller all about it, for I begin to think you're crazy, or else have come across some benevolent chap that's rather loose in the upper story."
Hereupon Miss Manning, unwilling to keep Rufus longer in suspense, gave him a full account of her morning's adventures, including her engagement with Mrs. Colman.
"You're in luck," said Rufus, "and I'm glad of it; but there's one thing we'll have to settle about."
"About Rose's board."
"Oh, that is all settled already. Mrs. Colman is to pay for her board as well as mine."
"Yes, I know that; but it is your teachin' that is to pay for it."
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Then I must pay you for her board. That will make it all right."
"Oh, no, Rufus, I couldn't accept anything. You see it doesn't cost me anything."
"Yes, it does," persisted the newsboy; "if it wasn't for that, you would be paid more money."
"If it wasn't for her, I should not have applied for board in that place; so you see that it is to Rose, after all, that I am indebted for the situation."
"I see that you are very kind to Rose, Miss Manning, but I can't have you pay for her board. I am her brother, and am well and strong. I can afford to pay for Rose, and I will. Now how much will it be?"
Miss Manning persisted that she was not willing to receive anything; but upon this point the newsboy's pride was aroused, and finally this arrangement was made: Miss Manning was to receive three dollars a week, and for this sum she also agreed to provide Rose with proper clothing, so that Rufus would have no responsibility or care about her. He wanted the seamstress to accept four dollars; but upon this point she was quite determined. She declared that three dollars was too high, but finally agreed to accept it.
"I don't want to make money out of Rose," she said.
"It'll take some time to get ahead of A. T. Stewart on three dollars a week."
"I shall have five dollars a week."
"But you will have to buy clothes for Rose and yourself."
"I shall make them myself, so that they won't cost me more than half of the money."
"Then you can save up the rest."
"But you will only have five dollars left to pay your expenses, Rufus."
"Oh, I can get along. Don't mind me."
"But I wanted you to come and board with us. Mrs. Clayton has a hall bedroom which she would let to you with board for five dollars a week. But that would leave you nothing for clothes."
"I could earn enough some other way to pay for my clothes," said Rufus; "but I don't know about going to board with you. I expect it's a fashionable place, and I shouldn't know how to behave."
"You will know how to behave as well as I do. I didn't think you were bashful, Rufus."
"No more I am in the street," said the newsboy; "but you know how I've lived, Miss Manning. Mr. Martin didn't live in fashionable style, and his friends were not very select. When I took breakfast at Mr. Turner's, I felt like a cat in a strange garret."
"Then it's time you got used to better society," said Miss Manning. "You want to rise in the world, don't you?"
"Of course I do."
"Then take my advice, and come with us. You'll soon get used to it."
"Maybe I will. I'll come round to-morrow, and see how I like it."
"Remember you are in business in Wall Street, and ought to live accordingly. Don't you think Mr. Turner would prefer to have you board in a good place rather than sleep at the Lodging House, without any home of your own?"
"Yes, I suppose he would," said Rufus.
The idea was a new one to him, but it was by no means disagreeable. He had always been ambitious to rise, but thus far circumstances had prevented his gratifying this ambition. His step-father's drunken habits, and the consequent necessity he was under of contributing to his support as well as that of Rose, and his mother when living, had discouraged him in all his efforts, and led him to feel that all his efforts were unavailing. But now his fortunes had materially changed. Now, for the first time, there seemed to be a chance for him. He felt that it was best to break off, as far as possible, his old life, and turn over a new leaf. So the advice of his friend, Miss Manning, commended itself to his judgment, and he about made up his mind to become a boarder at Mrs. Clayton's. He would have the satisfaction of being in the same house with his little sister Rose, and thus of seeing much more of her than if he boarded down town at the Lodging House. It would cost him more to be sure, leaving him, as Miss Manning suggested, nothing for his clothes; but, as his duties in Wall Street did not commence until nine o'clock, and terminated at five, he felt sure that in his leisure time he would be able to earn enough to meet this expense. Besides, there would be the interest on his five hundred dollars, which would amount to not less than thirty dollars, and probably more, for, with the advice of Mr. Turner, he was about to purchase with it some bank shares. Then, if it should be absolutely necessary, he could break in upon his principal, although he would be sorry to do this, for, though he did not expect to add to it for a year to come, he hoped to keep it at its present amount.
These thoughts passed rapidly through his mind, and, when little Rose, taking his hand, said, pleadingly, "Do come and live with us, Rufie!" he answered, "Yes, Rosy, I will, if Mrs. Clayton will make room for me."
"Oh, that will be so nice, won't it, Miss Manning?" said Rose, clapping her hands.
"Perhaps Mr. Martin will come and board with us," said Rufus, jestingly; "wouldn't you like that, Rose?"
"No," said Rose, looking frightened; "do you think he will find out where we are?"
"Not for some time at least," said her brother. "By the way, I saw him to-day, Miss Manning."
"Did you speak with him, Rufus?"
"Did he try to carry you off, Rufie?" asked Rose, anxiously.
"You forget, Rose, that I am rather too big to carry off," said Rufus. "No, he did not say anything to me. The fact is, he has got into a scrape, and has enough to do to think of himself."
"Tell us about it, Rufus."
"I saw him, just as I was coming home, in the hands of the police. I heard that he had tried to rob a gentleman of his pocket-book."
"What will they do to him?"
"I suppose he will be sent to the Island."
"I am sorry for him, though he has not treated you and Rose right."
"Yes, I am sorry too; but at any rate we need not feel anxious about his getting hold of Rose."
They had a very pleasant supper together. It was the last supper in the old room, and they determined that it should be a good one. Rufus went out and got some sirloin steak, and brought in a pie from the baker's. This, with what they had already had, made a very nice supper.
"You won't have any more cooking to do for some time, Miss Manning," said Rufus; "you'll be a lady, with servants to wait on you. I hope the two little girls won't give you much trouble. If they do, that might be harder work than sewing."
"They seem to be quite pleasant little girls, and they will be a good deal of company for Rose."
"How did you like them, Rosie?" asked her brother.
"Ever so much. Jennie,—that's the oldest, you know, she's almost as big as me,—said she would give me one of her dolls. She's got four."
"That's quite a large family for a young lady to have. Don't you think she would give me one of them?"
"Boys don't have dolls," said Rose, decidedly. "It aint proper."
"Then I suppose I must do without one; but it would be a great deal of company for me when I go down town to business. I could put it in my pocket, you know."
"You're only making fun, Rufie."
"I suppose you think of going up to Mrs. Clayton's the first thing in the morning," said Rufus, turning to Miss Manning.
"Yes," she answered; "I can send up my trunk by a city express, and Rose and I can go up by the horse-cars, or, if it is pleasant, we will walk."
"I will go up with you, and look at the room you spoke of, if you will go early enough for me to be down at the office at nine o'clock."
Miss Manning assented to this arrangement, and Rufus left Franklin Street at nine, and repaired to the Newsboy's Lodging House, to sleep there for the last time.
A NEW HOME.
At an early hour the next morning Miss Manning, accompanied by Rufus and Rose, ascended Mrs. Clayton's steps, and rang the bell.
The summons was answered directly by a servant.
"Is Mrs. Clayton at home?" inquired Miss Manning.
"Yes; you're Mrs. Colman's new governess, aint you?"
"I am; but I would like to see Mrs. Clayton first."
"Come in, and I'll call her."
The three remained standing in the hall, awaiting the appearance of the landlady.
Rufus surveyed the interior of the house, so far as he could see it, with evident approval. Not that the house compared with the homes of many of my young readers who are favored by fortune. It was not magnificent, but it was neat, and well furnished, and looked bright and cheerful. To Rufus it appeared even elegant. He had a glimpse of the parlor through the half-opened door, and it certainly was so, compared with the humble boarding-house in Franklin Street, not to mention the miserable old tenement house on Leonard Street, which the readers of "Rough and Ready" will easily remember.
"I say, Miss Manning, this is jolly," said Rufus, in a tone of satisfaction.
"Isn't it a nice house, Rufie?" said little Rose.
"Yes, it is, Rosie;" and Rough and Ready, to call him for once by his old name, felt happy in the thought that his little sister, whose life, thus far, had been passed in a miserable quarter of the city, would now be so much more favorably situated.
At this moment Mrs. Clayton made her appearance.
"Good-morning, Miss Manning," she said, cordially; "I am sorry the servant left you standing in the hall. Good-morning, my dear," addressing Rose; "is this young man your brother?"
"He is my brother," said Rose; "but he isn't a young man. He's a boy."
"Maybe I'll be a young man in twenty or thirty years," he said. "Miss Manning tells me," he continued, "that you have a small room which you will let for five dollars a week with board."
"Yes," said the landlady; "my price has always been five and a half, but as your sister would like to have you here, I will say five to you."
"Can I look at it?"
"Yes, I will go up and show it to you at once."
They followed Mrs. Clayton up two flights of stairs. The door of the vacant room was already open. It was a hall bedroom of ordinary size. The head of the bed was on the same side as the door, the room being just wide enough for it. Between the foot of the bed and the window, but on the opposite side, was a bureau with a mirror. There were a washstand and a couple of chairs beside it. A neat carpet covered the floor, and the window was screened by a shade.
"You see it is pretty good size for a hall bedroom," said the landlady. "There is no closet, but you can hang your clothes on that row of pegs. If there are not enough, I will have some more put in."
"I think there will be enough," said Rufus, thinking, as he spoke, of his limited wardrobe. He was not much better off than the man who carried all his clothes on his back, and so proclaimed himself independent of trunk-makers.
"Well, Rufus, what do you think of the room?" asked Miss Manning.
"I'll take it," said our hero, promptly. He had been on the point of calling it bully, when it occurred to him that perhaps such a word might not be the most appropriate under the circumstances.
"When will you come, Mr. ——?" here the landlady hesitated, not having been made acquainted with the last name of our new boarder. Here it occurs to me that as yet our hero has not been introduced by his full name, although this is the second volume of his adventures. It is quite time that this neglect was remedied.
"Rushton," said Rufus.
"When will you take possession of the room, Mr. Rushton?"
"I'll be here to-night to dinner," said Rufus, "Maybe I won't send my trunk round till to-morrow."
"I didn't know you had a trunk, Rufie," said Rose, innocently.
"I don't carry my trunk round all the time like an elephant, Rosy," said her brother, a little embarrassed by his sister's revelation, for he wanted to keep up appearances in his new character as a boarder at an up-town boarding-house.
"Rufus, wouldn't you like to go up and see my room?" interposed Miss Manning; "it's on the next floor, but, though rather high up, I think you will like it."
This opportune interruption prevented Rose from making any further reference to the trunk.
So they proceeded upstairs.
Though Mr. Colman had not yet sent in the additional furniture promised by his wife, the room was looking bright and pleasant. The carpet had a rich, warm tint, and everything looked, as the saying is, as neat as a pin.
"This is to be my room," said Miss Manning, with satisfaction,—"my room and Rosy's. I hope you will often come up to visit us. How do you like it?"
"Bully," said Rufus, admiringly, unconsciously pronouncing the forbidden word.
"I think we shall be very comfortable here," said Miss Manning.
Here a child's step was heard upon the stairs, and Jennie Colman entered.
"Mamma would like to see you downstairs, Miss Manning," she said.
"Good-morning, my dear," said her new governess. "Rufus, this is one of my pupils."
"Is that your husband, Miss Manning?" asked Jennie, surveying Rufus with attention.
Rufus laughed, and Miss Manning also.
"He would be rather a young husband for me, Jennie," she said. "He is more suitable for you."
"I am not old enough to be married yet," she answered, gravely; "but perhaps I will marry him some time. I like his looks."
Rufus blushed a little, not being in the habit of receiving compliments from young ladies.
"Have you got that doll for me, Jennie?" asked Rose, introducing the subject which had the greatest interest for her.
"Yes, I've got it downstairs, in mamma's room."
They went down, and at the door of Mrs. Colman's room Miss Manning said, "Won't you come in, Rufus? I will introduce you to Mrs. Colman."
"Yes, come in," said Jennie, taking his hand.
But Rufus declined, feeling bashful about being introduced.
"It's time for me to go to the office," he said; "some other time will do."
"You'll be here in time for dinner, Rufus?"
"Yes," said our hero, and putting on his hat he made his escape, feeling considerably relieved when he was fairly in the open air.
"I s'pose I'll get used to it after a while," he said to himself.
"I am glad you have come, Miss Manning," said Mrs. Colman, extending her hand. "You will be able to relieve me of a great deal of my care. The children are good, but full of spirits, and when I have one of my nervous headaches, the noise goes through my head like a knife. I hope you won't find them a great deal of trouble."
"I don't anticipate that," said the new governess, cheerfully; "I am fond of children."
"Do you ever have the headache?"
"Then you are lucky. Children are a great trial at such a time."
"Have you the headache this morning, Mrs. Colman?" asked Miss Manning, in a tone of sympathy.
"Not badly, but I am seldom wholly free from it. Now suppose we talk a little of our plans. It is time the children were beginning to learn to read. Can your little girl read?"
"A little; not very much."
"I suppose it will be better not to require them to study more than an hour or two a day, just at first. The rest of the time you can look after them. I am afraid you will find it quite an undertaking."
"I am not afraid of that," said Miss Manning, cheerfully.
"The children have no books to study from. Perhaps you had better take them out for a walk now, and stop on your way at some Broadway bookseller's, and get such books as you think they will need."
"Are we going out to walk?" said Jennie. "I shall like that."
"And I too," said Carrie.
"I hope you won't give Miss Manning any trouble," said their mother. "Here is some money to pay for the books;" and she handed the new governess a five-dollar bill.
The children were soon ready, and their new governess went on with them. She congratulated herself on the change in her mode of life. When solely dependent on her labors as a seamstress, she had been compelled to sit hour after hour, from early morning until evening, sewing steadily, and then only earned enough to keep soul and body together. What wonder if she became thin, and her cheek grew pale, losing the rosy tint which it wore, when as a girl she lived among the hills of New England! Better times had come to her at length. She would probably be expected to spend considerable time daily out of doors, as her pupils were too young to study much or long at a time. It was a blessed freedom, so she felt, and she was sure that she should enjoy the society of the two little girls, having a natural love for children. She did not expect to like them as well as Rose, for Rose seemed partly her own child, but she didn't doubt that she should ere long become attached to them.
Then, again, she would not only enjoy an agreeable home, but for the first time would receive such compensation for her services as to be quite at ease in her pecuniary circumstances. Five dollars a week might not be a large sum to a lady with expensive tastes; but Miss Manning had the art of appearing well dressed for a small sum, and, as she made her own clothes, she estimated that three dollars a week would clothe both, and enable her to save two dollars weekly, or a hundred dollars a year. This was indeed a bright prospect to one who had been engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle with poverty for the last five years.
She went into a Broadway bookstore, and purchased primers for her new pupils, and a more advanced reading-book for Rose. At the end of an hour they returned home. They found an express wagon at the door. Two men were lifting out a sofa and a rocking-chair.
"They are for your room, Miss Manning," said Jennie. "I heard ma tell pa this morning, to stop at a furniture place and buy them."
Mr. Colman had certainly been prompt, for, though it was still early, here they were.
When they were carried upstairs, and placed in her room, Miss Manning looked about her with pardonable pride and satisfaction. Though the room was on the fourth floor, it looked quite like a parlor. She felt that she should take great comfort in so neat and pleasant a room. It was a great contrast to her dull, solitary, laborious life in the shabby room, for which, poor as it was, she oftentimes found it difficult to provide the weekly rent.
There were no lessons that morning, for Miss Manning had her trunk to unpack, and Rose's clothes and her own to lay away in the bureau-drawers. She had about completed this work when the bell rang for lunch. Taking Rose by the hand, she led her downstairs to the basement, where, as is common in New York boarding-houses, the dining-room was situated.
There were five ladies and children at the table, the gentlemen being obliged, on account of the distance, to take their lunch down town, somewhere near their places of business.
"You may take this seat, Miss Manning," said the landlady, indicating one near herself. "Your little girl can sit between us, and Jennie and Carrie on the other side. I will trouble you to take care of them. Their mother seldom comes down to lunch."
The repast was plain but plentiful, the principal meal, dinner, being at six, an hour more convenient for men of business. I state this for the benefit of those of my readers who live in the country, and are accustomed to take dinner in the middle of the day.
Miss Manning was introduced to Mrs. Pratt, a stout, elderly lady, with a pleasant face, who sat opposite her; to Mrs. Florence, a young lady recently married, who sat at her left; and to Mrs. Clifton, formerly Miss Peyton, who, as well as her husband, will be remembered by the readers of the second and third volumes of this series. Mr. Clifton kept a dry goods store on Eighth Avenue.
In the afternoon, Miss Manning gave her first lesson, and succeeded in interesting her young pupils, who proved quite docile, and seemed to have taken a fancy to their new governess.
Meanwhile Rufus had succeeded in making an arrangement which promised to add to his weekly income. Of this an account will be given in the next chapter.
A NEW ENTERPRISE.
Rufus felt some doubts as to whether he had done wisely in agreeing to board at Mrs. Clayton's. His own board, together with what he paid for his sister's board and clothes, would just take up the whole of his salary. However, he would have the interest on his five hundred dollars, now deposited in a savings-bank, and yielding six per cent. interest annually. Still this would amount only to thirty dollars, and this would not be sufficient to pay for his clothes alone, not to mention miscellaneous expenses, such as car-fares and other incidental expenses. He felt that he should like now and then to go on an excursion with his sister and Miss Manning, or perhaps to a place of amusement. For all this, one hundred dollars a year would be needed, at a moderate calculation. How should he make up this amount?
Two ways suggested themselves to Rufus. One was, draw upon his principal. Probably he would not be obliged to do this very long, as, at the end of six months, it was probable that his salary would be raised if he gave satisfaction, and this he meant to do. Still, Rufus did not like this plan, for five hundred dollars seemed a good round sum, and he wanted to keep it all. The other way was to make up the necessary sum by extra work outside of the office. This idea he liked best. But it suggested another question, which was not altogether easy to answer. "What should he do, or what kind of work should he choose?"
He might go back to his old employment. As he was not required to be at the office before nine o'clock, why should he not spend an hour or two in the early morning in selling newspapers? He felt confident that he could in this way clear two dollars a week. But there were two objections which occurred to him. The first was, that as Mrs. Clayton's breakfast was at half-past seven in the winter, and not earlier than seven in the summer, he would be obliged to give it up, and take breakfast at some restaurant down town. His breakfasts, probably, would come to very nearly the sum he would make by selling papers, and as Mrs. Clayton took him under her usual price, it was hardly to be expected that she would make any allowance for his absence from the morning meal. Besides, Rufus had left his old life behind him, and he did not want to go back to it. He doubted, also, whether his employer would like to have him spend his time before office hours in selling papers. Then, again, he was about to board at a house of very good rank, and he felt that he did not wish to pass among his new acquaintances as a newsboy, if he could get something better to do. Of course it was respectable, as all honest labor is; but our hero felt that by this time he was suited to something better.
The more Rufus balanced these considerations in his mind, the more perplexed he became. Meanwhile he was walking down Broadway on his way to the office.
Just as he was crossing Canal Street, some one tapped him on the shoulder. Turning round, he recognized a young man whom he remembered as clerk in a stationery store in Nassau Street. His name was George Black.
"Rough and Ready!" he exclaimed, in surprise. "Is this you? Why are you not selling papers? You got up late this morning, didn't you?"
"I've given up selling papers," said Rufus.
"How long since?"
"Only a few days."
"What are you up to now?"
"I'm in an office in Wall Street."
"What sort of an office?"
"A banker's,—Mr. Turner's."
"Yes, I know the firm. What do you get?"
"Eight dollars a week."
"That's pretty good,—better than selling papers."
"Yes, I like it better, though I don't make any more money than I did before. But it seems more like business."
"Well, you've found a place, and I've lost one."
"How is that?"
"My employer failed, and the business has gone up," said Black.
"I suppose you are looking for a new place."
"Yes; but I wouldn't if I only had a little capital."
"What would you do then?"
"I was walking up Sixth Avenue yesterday, when I saw a neat little periodical and fancy goods store for sale, on account of the owner's illness. It's a very good location, and being small does not require much capital to carry it on. The rent is cheap,—only twenty dollars a month. By adding a few articles, I could make a thousand dollars a year out of it."
"Why don't you take it?"
"Because I haven't got but a hundred dollars in the world, and I expect that will be gone before I get a new place."
"What does the owner want for his stock?"
"He says it cost him seven hundred dollars; but he's sick, and wants to dispose of it as soon as possible. He'll sell out for five hundred dollars cash."
"Are you sure the stock is worth that much?" asked Rufus.
"Yes, I am sure it is worth more. I've been in the business, and I can judge."
"Why don't you borrow the money?"
"It is easy enough to say that, but where shall I find anybody to lend it?"
"You might take a partner with money."
"So I might, if I could find one."
"Look here, Mr. Black," said Rufus, in a businesslike tone, "what offer will you make to any one who will furnish you the money to buy out this shop?"
"Do you know of anybody who has got the money?" asked the young man.
"Perhaps I do, and perhaps I don't; but maybe I might find somebody."
"I'll tell you what I'll do. If any one will set me up there, I will give him a third of the profits after paying expenses."
"And you think that you can make a thousand dollars a year?"
"Yes, I feel sure of it."
"That's a good offer," said Rufus, meditatively.
"I'm willing to make it. At that rate I shall make fourteen dollars a week, and I have never been paid but twelve for clerking it. Besides, I should be my own master."
"You might not make so much."
"If I make less I can live on less. There's a small room in back, where I can put in a bed, that will save me room-rent. My meals I can buy at the restaurants. I don't believe it will cost me over three hundred and fifty dollars to live."
"So that you could save up money."
"Yes, I should be sure to. After a while I could buy out the whole business."
Rufus was silent for a moment. He had five hundred dollars. Why should he not set up George Black in business on the terms proposed? Then, instead of getting a paltry thirty dollars' interest for his money, he would get two or three hundred dollars, and this would abundantly make up what he needed to live in good style at Mrs. Clayton's, and afford Rose and himself occasional recreation. Of course a good deal depended on the honesty of George Black. But of this young man Rufus had a very good opinion, having known him for two or three years. Besides, as partner he would be entitled to inquire into the state of the business at any time, and if anything was wrong he would take care that it was righted.
"What are you thinking about?" inquired the young man, observing his silence.
"How would you like me for a partner?" asked Rufus, looking up suddenly.
"I'd just as lief have you as anybody, if you had the money," said George Black.
"I have got the money," said our hero.
"You don't mean to say you've got five hundred dollars?" asked Black, in surprise.
"Yes, I do."
"How did you get it? You didn't make it selling papers in the street."
"You may bet on that. No; I found part of it and the rest I had given me."
"Tell me about it."
Rufus did so.
"Where is the money?"
"I keep it in a savings-bank."
"I'll tell you what, Rufus," said George, "if you'll buy out the shop for me, and come in as my partner, I'll do what I said, and that'll be a good deal better than the savings-bank can do for you."
"That's true; but there'll be more risk."
"I don't think there will. I shall manage the business economically, and you can come in any time and see how it's going on. But I never thought you had so much money."
"If you had, maybe you'd have thought more of me," said Rufus.
"Maybe I should. 'Money makes the mare go' in this world. But when will you let me know about it? I've only got two days to decide in."
"I should like to see the shop myself," said Rufus, with commendable prudence.
"Of course; that's what I'd like to have you do. When will you come round with me and see it?"
"I can't come now," said our hero, "for it would make me late at the office. Is it open in the evening?"
"Then I'll tell you what. I'll meet you there this evening at eight o'clock. Just give me the number, and I'll be sure to be there."
"All right. Have you got a pencil?"
"Yes; and here's one of our cards. You can put it down here."
The address was put down, and the two parted.
George Black went round to the shop at once to say that he would probably be able to make an arrangement. In the evening, at the appointed hour, the two met at the periodical store.
Rufus was favorably impressed on first entering. The room was small, but it was very neat. It had a good window opening to the street, and it appeared well filled with stock. A hasty survey satisfied our hero that the stock was really worth more than the amount asked for it.
The proprietor seemed a sickly-looking man, and the plea of ill-health, judging from his appearance, might readily be credited.
"This is the capitalist I spoke of this morning," said George Black, introducing Rufus.
"He seems young,", said the proprietor, a little surprised.
"I'm not very aged yet," said Rufus, smiling.
"The main thing is, that he's got the money," said Black. "He's in business in Wall Street, and is looking about for an investment of his spare funds."
Rufus was rather pleased with this way of stating his position. He saw that it heightened his importance considerably in the mind of the owner of the shop.
"He'll do well to invest here," said the latter. "It's a good stand. I wouldn't sell out if my health would let me hold on. But confinement doesn't suit me. The doctor says I shan't live a year, if I stay here, and life is better than money."
"How long has this shop been established?" asked Rufus.
"It ought to be pretty well known."
"Yes; it's got a good run of custom. If the right man takes hold of it, he'll make money. He can't help it."
"What do you think of it, Rufus?" asked George Black, turning to our hero. "Isn't it as I represented?"
"Yes," said Rufus. "I should think a good business might be done here."
"If I get hold of it, a good business shall be done here," said Black, emphatically. "But it all depends on you. Say the word, and we'll close the bargain now."
"All right!" said Rufus, promptly. "I'll say the word. We'll take the shop."
THE NEW BOARDING-HOUSE.
It might be considered hazardous for Rufus to invest all his money in a venture which depended to so great an extent upon the honesty of another. But there is no profit without risk, and our hero felt considerable confidence in the integrity of his proposed partner. It occurred to him, however, that he might need some money before he should receive any from the business. Accordingly, as the young man had told him that he had a hundred dollars, he proposed that he should contribute one half of that sum towards the purchase of the shop, while he made up the balance,—four hundred and fifty dollars. This would leave him fifty dollars for contingent expenses, while George Black would have the same.
Our hero's street-life had made him sharp, and he determined to secure himself as far as possible. He accordingly proposed to George Black that they should go to a lawyer, and have articles of agreement drawn up. For this, however, he did not have time till the next morning.
One article proposed by Rufus was, that he should draw fifty dollars a quarter towards the third share of the profits, which it was agreed that he should receive, and at the end of the year any balance that might remain due. No objection was made by George Black, who considered this provision a fair one. The style of the firm,—for as most of the capital was furnished by Rufus, it was thought that his name should be represented,—was "RUSHTON & BLACK."
A new sign was ordered, bearing their names, and it was arranged that the new proprietors should take possession of the store at the commencement of the next week, when it would probably be ready.
Rufus hesitated about announcing his new venture to Miss Manning and Rose, but finally concluded not to do so just at present. It would be time, he thought, when they had got fairly started.
Meanwhile he had transferred himself to the room at Mrs. Clayton's boarding-house. He felt rather bashful at first about appearing at the table. Half an hour before the time, he reached the house, and went up at once to Miss Manning's room.
"O Rufie!" said Rose, jumping up from the sofa and running to meet him, "have you come to stay?"
"Yes, Rosie," he answered, sitting down on the sofa, and taking her in his lap.
"I am so glad. You are going down to dinner, aint you?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
"We have such nice dinners,—don't we, Miss Manning?"
"Very nice, Rose."
"A great deal better than I ever had before. I wonder where you will sit, Rufie."
"He will sit next to you, Rose; I spoke to Mrs. Clayton about it. Rufus will take care of you, and I am to look after Jennie and Carrie."
"That will be very nice."
"How do you like the little girls, Rose?" asked her brother.
"Very much. They have given me some of their dolls."
"And which knows the most,—you or they?"
"Oh, I know ever so much more," said Rose, positively.
"Is that true, Miss Manning, or is Rose boasting?" asked Rufus.
"Rose is farther advanced than either Jennie or Carrie," answered Miss Manning. "They have studied comparatively little yet, but I find them docile, and I think they will soon improve."
By the time Rufus had combed his hair, and put on a clean collar, the dinner-bell rang. He followed Miss Manning down into the dining-room.
"Good-evening, Mr. Rushton," said Mrs. Clayton. "I am glad to see you."
"His name isn't Mr. Rushton," said Rose. "His name is Rufie."
"It is the first time Rose ever heard me called so," said Rufus, smiling. "She will soon get used to it."
He was rather pleased than otherwise to be called Mr. Rushton. It made him feel more like a man.
"You may take that seat, Mr. Rushton," said the landlady. "Your little sister will sit beside you."
Rufus took the chair indicated.
Next to him was seated a lady of thirty or more, whose hair fell in juvenile ringlets. This was Mrs. Clifton, formerly Miss Peyton, who will be remembered by the readers of "Fame and Fortune." Rufus was introduced to her.
"I am very glad to make your acquaintance, Mr. Rushton," said Mrs. Clifton, graciously. "You have a very sweet little sister."
"Yes; she is a very good little girl," said Rufus, better pleased with a compliment to Rose than he would have been with one to himself.
"I understand you are in business in Wall Street, Mr. Rushton."
"Yes," said Rufus. "I am in the office of Mr. Turner."
"I sometimes tell Mr. Clifton I wish he would go into business in Wall Street. He keeps a dry-goods store on Eighth Avenue."
"Can't remember ever hearing you mention the idea, Mrs. C——," remarked her husband, who sat on the other side, in a pause between two mouthfuls. "There aint much money in dry goods just now, by jove! I'll open in Wall Street, if you say the word."
Mrs. Clifton slightly frowned, and did not see fit to answer the remark made to her. Her husband was not very brilliant, either in business, wit, or in any other way, and she had married him, not from love, but because she saw no other way of escaping from being an old maid.
"Do you know, Mr. Rushton," said Mrs. Clifton, "you remind me so much of a very intimate friend of mine, Mr. Hunter?"
"Do I?" added Rufus. "I hope he is good-looking."
"He's very handsome," said Mrs. Clifton, "and so witty."
"Then I'm glad I'm like him," said Rufus.
For some reason he did not feel so bashful as he anticipated, particularly with Mrs. Clifton.
"He's soon going to be married to a very rich young lady,—Miss Greyson; perhaps you know her."
"That's where he has the advantage of me," said Rufus.
"Mr. Clifton," said his wife, "don't you think Mr. Rushton looks very much like Mr. Hunter?"
"Yes," said her husband; "as much as I look like the Emperor Napoleon."
"Don't make a goose of yourself, Mr. Clifton," said his wife, sharply.
"Thank you, I don't intend to. A goose is a female, and I don't care to make such a change."
"I suppose you think that is witty," said Mrs. Clifton, a little disdainfully.
It is unnecessary to pursue the conversation. Those who remember Mrs. Clifton when she was Miss Peyton will easily understand what was its character. It had the effect, however, of putting Rufus at his ease. On the whole, considering that he was only used to cheap restaurants, he acquitted himself very well for the first time, and no one suspected that he had not always been accustomed to live as well. The dinner he found excellent. Mrs. Clayton herself superintended the preparation of dinner, and she was not inclined to undue economy, as is the case with many landladies.
"I'm glad I came here," thought Rufus. "It's worth the difference in price."
As they rose from the table, Mrs. Colman asked Miss Manning, "Is that the brother of your little girl?"
"Yes," answered Miss Manning.
"He has a very good appearance; I should like to have you bring him into our room a while."
Miss Manning communicated this invitation to Rufus. He would have excused himself gladly, but he felt that this would have been hardly polite; therefore he accepted it.