Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive American Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/theyoungoutlaw00algerich
THE YOUNG OUTLAW;
Adrift in the Streets.
HORATIO ALGER, JR.,
* * * * * *
Horatio Alger's Successful Books for Boys and Girls.
"Half a million of readers shows how popular they are."
Ragged Dick Series.
Complete in Six Volumes—in a Box.
I. RAGGED DICK; or, Street Life in New York. II. FAME AND FORTUNE; or, The Progress of Richard Hunter. III. MARK, THE MATCH BOY. IV. ROUGH AND READY; or, Life Among New York Newsboys. V. BEN, THE LUGGAGE BOY; or, Among the Wharves. VI. RUFUS AND ROSE; or, The Fortunes of Rough and Ready.
Price, $1.25 per volume.
Tattered Tom Series.
A Continuation of the Ragged Dick Series.
FIRST SERIES, Complete in Four Volumes—in a Box.
I. TATTERED TOM; or, The Story of a Street Arab. II. PAUL, THE PEDDLER; or, The Adventures of a Young Street Merchant. III. PHIL, THE FIDDLER; or, The Young Street Musician. IV. SLOW AND SURE; or, From the Sidewalk to the Shop.
Price, $1.25 a volume.
I. JULIUS; or, The Street Boy out West. II. THE YOUNG OUTLAW; or, Adrift in the World. III. SAM'S CHANCE, and How He improved It. IV.
Price, $1.25 a volume.
Complete in Three Volumes—in a Box.
I. FRANK'S CAMPAIGN. II. PAUL PRESCOTT'S CHARGE. III. CHARLIE CODMAN'S CRUISE.
Price, $1.25 per volume.
Luck and Pluck Series.
FIRST SERIES, Complete in Four Volumes—in a Box,
I. LUCK AND PLUCK; or, John Oakley's Inheritance. II. SINK OR SWIM; or Harry Raymond's Resolve. III. STRONG AND STEADY; or, Paddle your own Canoe. IV. STRIVE AND SUCCEED; or, The Progress of Walter Conrad.
Price, $1,50 per volume.
SECOND SERIES, Complete in Four Volumes—in a Box,
I. TRY AND TRUST; or, The Story of a Bound Boy. II. BOUND TO RISE; or, How Harry Walton rose in the World. III. RISEN FROM THE RANKS; or, Harry Walton's Success. IV. HERBERT CARTER'S LEGACY; or, the Inventor's Son.
Price, $1.50 per volume.
Brave and Bold Series.
To be completed in four Volumes.
I. BRAVE AND BOLD; or, The Story of a Factory Boy. II. JACK'S WARD: or, The Boy Guardian. III. SHIFTING FOR HIMSELF.
Price, $1.50 per volume.
Each volume sold separate from the set.
LORING, PUBLISHER, BOSTON.
* * * * * *
[Frontispiece: the deacon asks directions of the street Arab.]
[Series Title Illustration]
THE YOUNG OUTLAW;
Adrift in the Streets.
HORATIO ALGER, JR.,
Author of "Ragged Dick,"—"Tattered Tom,"—"Luck and Pluck,"—"Brave and Bold," Series.
Loring, Publisher, Cor. Washington and Bromfield Streets, Boston.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by A. K. Loring, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
Rockwell & Churchill, Printers and Stereotypers, 39 Arch Street, Boston.
MY YOUNG FRIEND,
HARRY L. DE VISSER,
"The Young Outlaw" is the sixth volume of the Tattered Tom Series, and the twelfth of the stories which are wholly or mainly devoted to street-life in New York. The story carries its moral with it, and the writer has little fear that the Young Outlaw will be selected as a model by the boys who may read his adventures, and be amused by the scrapes into which he manages to fall. In previous volumes he has endeavored to show that even a street-boy, by enterprise, industry and integrity, may hope to become a useful and respected citizen. In the present narration he aims to exhibit the opposite side of the picture, and point out the natural consequences of the lack of these qualities.
This may be a proper occasion to express gratitude for the very remarkable favor with which these stories of humble life have been received throughout the country. The writer is glad to believe that they have done something to draw attention to a neglected class of children, whom it is important to elevate and redeem.
NEW YORK, March 25, 1875.
THE YOUNG OUTLAW;
ADRIFT IN THE STREETS.
THE YOUNG OUTLAW.
"Boy, is this Canal Street?"
The speaker was evidently from the country. He was a tall man, with prominent features, and a face seamed and wrinkled by the passage of nearly seventy years. He wore a rusty cloak, in the style of thirty years gone by, and his clothing generally was of a fashion seldom seen on Broadway.
The boy addressed was leaning against a lamppost, with both hands in his pockets. His clothes were soiled and ragged, a soft hat, which looked as if it had served in its varied career as a foot-ball, was thrust carelessly on his head. He looked like a genuine representative of the "street Arab," with no thought for to-morrow and its needs, and contented if he could only make sure of a square meal to-day. His face was dirty, and marked by a mingled expression of fun and impudence; but the features were not unpleasing, and, had he been clean and neatly dressed, he would undoubtedly have been considered good-looking.
He turned quickly on being addressed, and started perceptibly, as his glance met the inquiring look of the tall, stranger. He seemed at first disposed to run away, but this intention was succeeded by a desire to have some fun with the old man.
"Canal Street's about a mile off. I'll show yer the way for ten cents."
"A mile off? That's strange," said the old man, puzzled. "They told me at the Astor House it was only about ten minutes walk, straight up."
"That's where you got sold, gov'nor. Give me ten cents, and you won't have no more trouble."
"Are you sure you know Canal Street, yourself?" said the old man, perplexed. "They'd ought to know at the hotel."
"I'd ought to know too. That's where my store is."
"Your store!" ejaculated the old man, fixing his eyes upon his ragged companion, who certainly looked very little like a New York merchant.
"In course. Don't I keep a cigar store at No. 95?"
"I hope you don't smoke yourself," said the deacon (for he was a deacon), solemnly.
"Yes, I do. My constitushun requires it."
"My boy, you are doing a lasting injury to your health," said the old man, impressively.
"Oh, I'm tough. I kin stand it. Better give me a dime, and let me show yer the way."
The deacon was in a hurry to get to Canal Street, and after some hesitation, for he was fond of money, he drew out ten cents, and handed it to his ragged companion.
"There, my boy, show me the way. I should think you might have done it for nothing."
"That aint the way we do business in the city, gov'nor."
"Well, go ahead, I'm in a hurry."
"You needn't be, for this is Canal Street," said the boy, edging off a little.
"Then you've swindled me," said the deacon, wrathfully. "Give me back that ten cents."
"Not if I know it," said the boy, mockingly. "That aint the way we do business in the city. I'm goin to buy two five-cent cigars with that money."
"You said you kept a cigar-store yourself," said the deacon, with sudden recollection.
"You mustn't believe all you hear, gov'nor," said the boy, laughing saucily.
"Well now, if you aint a bad boy," said the old man.
"What's the odds as long as you're happy?" said the young Arab, carelessly.
Here was a good chance for a moral lesson, and the deacon felt that it was his duty to point out to the young reprobate the error of his ways.
"My young friend," he said, "how can you expect to be happy when you lie and cheat? Such men are never happy."
"Aint they though? You bet I'll be happy when I'm smokin' the two cigars I'm goin to buy."
"Keep the money, but don't buy the cigars," said the deacon, religion getting the better of his love of money. "Buy yourself some clothes. You appear to need them."
"Buy clo'es with ten cents!" repeated the boy, humorously.
"At any rate, devote the money to a useful purpose, and I shall not mind being cheated out of it. If you keep on this way, you'll end in the gallus."
"That's comin' it rather strong, gov'nor. Hangin's played out in New York. I guess I'm all right."
"I'm afraid you're all wrong, my boy. You're travellin' to destruction."
"Let's change the subject," said the street boy. "You're gittin' personal, and I don't like personal remarks. What'll you bet I can't tell your name?"
"Bet!" ejaculated the deacon, horrified.
"Yes, gov'nor. I'll bet you a quarter I kin tell your name."
"I never bet. It's wicked," said the old man, with emphasis.
"Well, we won't bet, then," said the boy. "Only, if I tell your name right, you give me ten cents. If I don't get it right, I'll give back this dime you gave me. Aint that fair?"
The deacon might have been led to suspect that there was not much difference between the boy's proposal, and the iniquity of a bet, but his mind was rather possessed by the thought that here was a good chance to recover the money out of which he had been so adroitly cheated. Surely there was no wrong in recovering that, as of course he would do, for how could a ragged street boy tell the name of one who lived a hundred and fifty miles distant, in a small country town?
"I'll do it," said the deacon.
"You'll give me ten cents if I tell your name?"
"Yes, and you'll give me back the money I give you if you can't tell."
"That's it, gov'nor."
"Then what's my name, my boy?" and the deacon extended his hand in readiness to receive the forfeit of a wrong answer.
"Deacon John Hopkins," answered the boy, confidently.
The effect on the old man was startling. He was never more surprised in his life. He stared at the boy open-mouthed, in bewilderment and wonder.
"Well, I declare!" he ejaculated. "I never heard of such a thing."
"Aint I right, gov'nor?"
"Yes, my boy, you're right; but how on earth did you find out?"
"Give me the money, and I'll tell you;" and the boy extended his hand.
The deacon drew the money from his vest-pocket, and handed it to the young Arab, without remonstrance.
"Now tell me, my boy, how you know'd me."
The boy edged off a few feet, then lifted his venerable hat so as to display the whole of his face.
"I'd ought to know you, deacon," he said; "I'm Sam Barker."
"By gracious, if it aint Sam!" ejaculated the old man. "Hallo! stop, I say!"
But Sam was half-way across the street. The deacon hesitated an instant, and then dashed after him, his long cloak floating in the wind, and his hat unconsciously pushed back on the top of his head.
"Stop, you Sam!" he shouted.
But Sam, with his head over his shoulder, already three rods in advance, grinned provokingly, but appeared to have no intention of stopping. The deacon was not used to running, nor did he make due allowance for the difficulty of navigating the crowded streets of the metropolis. He dashed headlong into an apple-stand, and suffered disastrous shipwreck. The apple-stand was overturned, the deacon's hat flew off, and he found himself sprawling on the sidewalk, with apples rolling in all directions around him, and an angry dame showering maledictions upon him, and demanding compensation for damages.
The deacon picked himself up, bruised and ashamed, recovered his hat, which had rolled into a mud-puddle, and was forced to pay the woman a dollar before he could get away. When this matter was settled, he looked for Sam, but the boy was out of sight. In fact, he was just around the corner, laughing as if he would split. He had seen his pursuer's discomfiture, and regarded it as a huge practical joke.
"I never had such fun in all my life," he ejaculated, with difficulty, and he went off into a fresh convulsion. "The old feller won't forget me in a hurry."
SAM'S EARLY LIFE.
Three years before the meeting described in the previous chapter Sam Barker became an orphan, by the death of his father. The father was an intemperate man, and no one grieved much for his death. Sam felt rather relieved than otherwise. He had received many a beating from his father, in his fits of drunken fury, and had been obliged to forage for himself for the most part, getting a meal from one neighbor, a basket of provision from another, and so managed to eke out a precarious subsistence in the tumble-down shanty which he and his father occupied.
Mr. Barker left no will, for the good and sufficient reason that he had no property to dispose of. So, on the day after the funeral, Sam found himself a candidate for the poorhouse. He was a stout boy of twelve, strong and sturdy in spite of insufficient food, and certainly had suffered nothing from luxurious living.
It was a country town in Connecticut, near the Rhode Island border. We will call it Dudley. The selectmen deliberated what should be done with Sam.
"There isn't much for a lad like him to do at the poorhouse," said Major Stebbins. "He'd ought to be set to work. Why don't you take him, Deacon Hopkins?"
"I do need a boy," said the deacon, "but I'm most afeard to take Sam. He's a dreadful mischievous boy, I've heerd."
"He's had a bad example in his father," said the major. "You could train him up the way he'd ought to go."
"Mebbe I could," said the deacon, flattered by this tribute, and reflecting, moreover, that he could get a good deal of work out of Sam without being obliged to pay him wages.
"You could train him up to be a respectable man," said the major. "They wouldn't know what to do with him at the poorhouse."
So the deacon was prevailed upon to take Sam to bring up.
"You're goin to live with me, Samuel," said the deacon, calling the boy to his side.
"Am I?" asked Sam, surveying the old man attentively.
"Yes; I shall try to make a man of you."
"I'll get to be a man anyway, if I live long enough," said Sam.
"I mean I will make a man of you in a moral sense," explained the deacon.
This, however, was above Sam's comprehension.
"What would you like to do when you're a man?" asked the deacon.
"Smoke a pipe," answered Sam, after some reflection.
The deacon held up his hands in horror.
"What a misguided youth!" he exclaimed. "Can you think of nothing better than to smoke a pipe?"
"Dad liked it," said Sam; "but I guess he liked rum better."
"Your father was a misguided man," said the deacon. "He wasted his substance in riotous living."
"You'd ought to have seen him when he was tight," said Sam, confidentially. "Didn't he tear round then? He'd fling sticks of wood at my head. O jolly! Didn't I run? I used to hide under the bed when I couldn't run out of doors."
"Your father's dead and gone. I don't want to talk against him, but I hope you'll grow up a very different man. Do you think you will like to live with me?"
"I guess so," said Sam. "You live in a good house, where the rain don't leak through the roof on your head. You'll give me lots to eat, too; won't you?"
"You shall have enough," said the deacon, cautiously, "but it is bad to over-eat. Boys ought to be moderate."
"I didn't over-eat to home," said Sam. "I went one day without eatin' a crumb."
"You shall have enough to eat at my house, but you must render a return."
"You must pay me for it."
"I can't; I aint got a cent."
"You shall pay me in work. He that does not work shall not eat."
"Have I got to work very hard?" asked Sam, anxiously.
"I will not task you beyond your strength, but I shall expect you to work faithfully. I work myself. Everybody works in my house."
Sam was occupied for a brief space in considering the great problem that connects labor and eating. Somehow it didn't seem quite satisfactory.
"I wish I was a pig!" he burst out, rather unexpectedly.
"Why?" demanded the deacon, amazed.
"Pigs have a better time than men and boys. They have all they can eat, and don't have to work for it nuther."
"I'm surprised at you," said the deacon, shocked. "Pigs are only brute animals. They have no souls. Would you be willing to give up your immortal soul for the sake of bein' idle, and doin' no work?"
"I don't know anything bout my immortal soul. What good does it do me?" inquired Sam.
"I declare! the boy's actilly gropin' in heathen darkness," said the deacon, beginning to think he had undertaken a tough job.
"What's that?" asked Sam, mystified.
"I haven't time to tell you now, but I must have a long talk with you some day. You aint had no sort of bringing up. Do you ever read the Bible?"
"No, but I've read the life of Cap'n Kidd. He was a smart man, though."
"Captain Kidd, the pirate?" asked the deacon, horrified.
"Yes. Wa'n't he a great man?"
"He calls a pirate a great man!" groaned the deacon.
"I think I'd like to be a pirate," said Sam, admiringly.
"Then you'd die on the gallus!" exclaimed the deacon with energy.
"No, I wouldn't. I wouldn't let 'em catch me," said Sam, confidently.
"I never heerd a boy talk so," said the deacon. "He's as bad as a—a Hottentot."
Deacon Hopkins had no very clear ideas as to the moral or physical condition of Hottentots, or where they lived, but had a general notion that they were in a benighted state, and the comparison seemed to him a good one. Not so to Sam.
"You're calling me names," he said, discontentedly. "You called me a Hottentot."
"I fear you are very much like those poor, benighted creatures, Samuel," said his new guardian; "but it isn't wholly your fault. You have never had any religious or moral instruction. This must be rectified. I shall buy you a catechism this very day."
"Will you?" asked Sam, eagerly, who, it must be explained, had an idea that a catechism was something good to eat.
"Yes, I'll stop at the store and get one."
They went into Pendleton's store,—a general country variety store, in which the most dissimilar articles were kept for sale.
"Have you got a catechism?" asked the deacon, entering with Sam at his side.
"We've got just one left."
"How much is it?"
"I'll take it."
Sam looked on with interest till the clerk produced the article; then his countenance underwent a change.
"Why, it's a book," he said.
"Of course it is. It is a very good book, from which you will learn all about your duty, and your religious obligations."
"You needn't buy it. I don't want it," said Sam.
"Don't want the catechism!" said the deacon, not without anger.
"No, it aint any good."
"My boy, I know better what is good for you than you do. I shall buy you the catechism."
"I'd rather you'd get me that book," said Sam, pointing to a thin pamphlet copy of "Jack, the Giant-Killer."
But Deacon Hopkins persisted in making the purchase proposed.
"Are there any pictures in it?" asked Sam.
"Then I shan't like it."
"You don't know what is for your good. I hope you will be wiser in time. But here we are at the house. Come right in, and mind you wipe your feet."
This was Sam's first introduction into the Hopkins' household. He proved a disturbing element, as we shall presently see.
A HARD CASE.
The first meal to which Sam sat down at the deacon's house was supper. It was only a plain supper,—tea, bread and butter, and apple-pie; but to Sam, who was not used to regular meals of any kind, it seemed luxurious. He despatched slice after slice of bread, eating twice as much as any one else at the table, and after eating his share of the pie gazed hungrily at the single slice which remained on the plate, and asked for that also.
Deacon Hopkins thought it was time to interfere.
"You've had one piece a'ready," he said.
"I know it," said Sam; "but I'm hungry."
"I don't see how you can be. You've eat more than any of us."
"It takes a good deal to fill me up," said Sam, frankly.
"The boy'll eat us out of house and home," said Mrs. Hopkins, in alarm. "You can't have any more. You've had enough."
Sam withdrew his plate. He did not look abashed, for he was never much inclined that way, nor did his feelings appear to be hurt, for he was not sensitive; but he took the matter coolly, and pushing back his chair from the table was about to leave the room.
"Where are you a-goin?" asked his new guardian.
"Stop. I've got something for you to do."
The deacon went to the mantel-piece and took therefrom the catechism.
"You aint had no bringin' up, Samuel," he said. "You don't know nothin' about your moral and religious obligations. It's my dooty to make you learn how to walk uprightly."
"I can walk straight now," said Sam.
"I don't mean that—I mean in a moral sense. Come here."
Sam unwillingly drew near the deacon.
"Here, I want you to study the first page of the catechism, and recite it to me before you go to bed."
Sam took the book, and looked at the first page doubtfully.
"What's the good of it?" he demanded, in a discontented voice.
"What's the good of the catechism?" exclaimed the deacon, shocked. "It'll l'arn you your duties. It'll benefit your immortal soul."
"I don't care if it will," said Sam, perversely. "What do I care about my soul? It never did me no good."
"Did you ever see such a heathen, Martha?" said the deacon, in despair, turning to his wife.
"You'll be sorry you ever took him," said Mrs. Hopkins, shaking her head.
"Set down in the corner, and l'arn your lesson, Samuel," said the old man.
Sam looked undecided whether to obey or not, but under the circumstances he thought it best to obey. He began to read the catechism, but it did not interest him. His eyes were not long fixed on the printed page. They moved about the room, following the movements of Mrs. Hopkins as she cleared off the table. He saw her take the pie and place it in the closet. His eyes glistened as he caught sight of an entire pie on the lower shelf, designed, doubtless, for to-morrow's supper.
"I wish I had it," he thought to himself. "Wouldn't it be jolly?"
Pretty soon the deacon took his hat and cane and went out. Then Mrs. Hopkins went into the next room, and Sam was left alone. There was a fine chance to escape, and Sam was not slow in availing himself of it. He dropped the catechism on the floor, seized his hat, and darted out of the room, finding his way out of the house through the front door. He heaved a sigh of relief as he found himself out in the open air. Catching sight of the deacon in a field to the right, he jumped over a stone wall to the left, and made for a piece of woods a short distance away.
It was not Sam's intention to run away. He felt that it would be foolish to leave a house where he got such good suppers, but he wanted a couple of hours of freedom. He did not mean to return till it was too late to study the catechism any longer.
"What's the use of wearin' out a feller's eyes over such stuff?" he thought.
It is not necessary to follow Sam's movements through the evening. At nine o'clock he opened the front door, and went in, not exactly abashed, but uncertain how the deacon would receive him.
Deacon Hopkins had his steel-bowed spectacles on, and was engaged in reading a good book. He looked up sternly as Sam entered.
"Samuel, where have you been?" he asked.
"Out in the woods," said Sam, coolly.
"Didn't I tell you to get your catechism?" demanded the old man, sternly.
"So I did," said Sam, without blushing.
"I am afraid you are telling a lie. Mrs. Hopkins said she went out of the room a minute, and when she came back you were gone. Is that so?"
"Yes, I guess so," said Sam.
"Then how did you have time to l'arn your lesson?"
"It wasn't long," muttered Sam.
"Come here, and I will see if you know anything about it."
The deacon took the book, laid it flat on his lap, and read out the first question, looking inquiringly at Sam for the answer.
Sam hesitated, and scratched his head. "I give it up," said he.
"Do you think I am askin' conundrums?" said the deacon, sternly.
"No," said Sam, honestly.
"Why don't you know?"
"Because I can't tell."
"Because you didn't study it. Aint you ashamed of your ignorance?"
"What's the use of knowin'?"
"It is very important," said the deacon, impressively. "Now I will ask you the next question."
Sam broke down, and confessed that he didn't know.
"Then you told me a lie. You said you studied the lesson."
"I didn't understand it."
"Then you should have studied longer. Don't you know it is wicked to lie?"
"A feller can't tell the truth all the time," said Sam, as if he were stating a well-known fact.
"Certainly he can," said the deacon. "I always do."
"Do you?" inquired Sam, regarding the old man with curiosity.
"Of course. It is every one's duty to tell the truth. You ought to die rather than tell a lie. I have read of a man who was threatened with death. He might have got off if he had told a lie. But he wouldn't."
"Did he get killed?" asked Sam, with interest.
"Then he must have been a great fool," said Sam, contemptuously. "You wouldn't catch me makin' such a fool of myself."
"He was a noble man," said the deacon, indignantly. "He laid down his life for the truth."
"What good did it do?" said Sam.
"I am afraid, Samuel, you are in a very benighted condition. You appear to have no conceptions of duty."
"I guess I haven't," said Sam. "I dunno what they are."
"It is all the more necessary that you should study your catechism. I shall expect you to get the same lesson to-morrow evenin'. It's too late to study now."
"So it is," said Sam, with alacrity.
"I will show you where you are to sleep. You must get up airly to go to work. I will come and wake you up."
Sam was not overjoyed at this announcement. It did not strike him that he should enjoy going to work early in the morning. However, he felt instinctively that it would do no good to argue the matter at present, and he followed the deacon, upstairs in silence. He was ushered into a small room partitioned off from the attic.
"You'll sleep there," said the deacon, pointing to a cot-bed in the corner. "I'll call you at five o'clock to-morrow mornin'."
Sam undressed himself, and got into bed.
"This is jolly," thought he; "a good deal better than at home. If it warn't for that plaguey catechism, I'd like livin' here fust-rate. I wish I had another piece of that pie."
In ten minutes Sam was fast asleep; but the deacon was not so fortunate. He lay awake a long time, wondering in perplexity what he should do to reform the young outlaw of whom he had taken charge.
"He's a cur'us boy," thought the good man. "Seems to have no more notion of religion than a Choctaw or a Hottentot. An yet he's been livin' in a Christian community all his life. I'm afeared he takes after his father."
SAM FRIGHTENS THE HOUSEHOLD.
Sam usually slept the whole night through; but to-night was an exception. It might have been because he was in a strange bed, and in a strange house. At any rate, he woke in time to hear the clock on the church, of which his guardian was deacon, strike two.
"Where am I?" was his first thought.
He remembered almost immediately, and the thought made him broad awake. He ought not to have been hungry at that hour, and in fact he was not, but the thought of the pie forced itself upon his mind, and he felt a longing for the slice that was left over from supper. Quick upon this thought came another, "Why couldn't he creep downstairs softly, and get it? The deacon and his wife were fast asleep, Who would find him out?"
A boy better brought up than Sam might have reflected that it was wrong; but, as the deacon said, Sam had no "conceptions of duty," or, more properly, his conscience was not very active. He got out of bed, slipped on his stockings, and crept softly downstairs, feeling his way. It was very dark, for the entries were unlighted, but finally he reached the kitchen without creating any alarm.
Now for the closet. It was not locked, and Sam opened the door without difficulty.
"I wish I had a match, so's to see where the pie is," he thought.
He felt around, but the pie must have been placed elsewhere, for he could not find it. It had really been placed on the highest shelf, which Sam had not as yet explored. But there are dangers in feeling around in the dark. Our hero managed to dislodge a pile of plates, which fell with a crash upon his feet. There was a loud crash of broken crockery, and the noise was increased by the howls of Sam, who danced up and down with pain.
The noise reached the chamber where the deacon and his wife were calmly reposing. Mrs. Hopkins was a light sleeper, and was awakened at once.
She was startled and terrified, and, sitting up in bed, shook her husband violently by the shoulder.
"Deacon—Deacon Hopkins!" she exclaimed.
"What's the matter?" asked the deacon, drowsily.
"Matter enough. There's robbers downstairs."
Now the deacon was broad awake.
"Robbers!" he exclaimed. "Pooh! Nonsense! You're dreamin', wife."
Just then there was another racket. Sam, in trying to effect his escape, tumbled over a chair, and there was a yell of pain.
"Am I dreaming now, deacon?" demanded his wife, triumphantly.
"You're right, wife," said the deacon, turning pale, and trembling. "It's an awful situation. What shall we do?"
"Do? Go downstairs, and confront the villains!" returned his wife, energetically.
"They might shoot me," said her husband, panic-stricken. "They're—they're said to be very desperate fellows."
"Are you a man, and won't defend your property?" exclaimed his wife, taunting him, "Do you want me to go down?"
"Perhaps you'd better," said the deacon, accepting the suggestion with alacrity.
"What!" shrieked Mrs. Hopkins. "You are willing they should shoot me?"
"They wouldn't shoot a woman," said the deacon.
But his wife was not appeased.
Just then the unlucky Sam trod on the tail of the cat, who was quietly asleep on the hearth. With the instinct of self-defence, she scratched his leg, which was undefended by the customary clothing, and our hero, who did not feel at all heroic in the dark, not knowing what had got hold of him, roared with pain and fright.
"This is terrible!" gasped the deacon. "Martha, is the door locked?"
"Then I'll get up and lock it. O Lord, what will become of us?"
Sam was now ascending the stairs, and, though he tried to walk softly, the stairs creaked beneath his weight.
"They're comin' upstairs," exclaimed Mrs. Hopkins. "Lock the door quick, deacon, or we shall be murdered in our bed."
The deacon reached the door in less time than he would have accomplished the same feat in the daytime, and hurriedly locked it.
"It's locked, Martha," he said, "but they may break it down."
"Or fire through the door—"
"Let's hide under the bed," suggested the heroic deacon.
"Don't speak so loud. They'll hear. I wish it was mornin'."
The deacon stood at the door listening, and made a discovery.
"They're goin up into the garret," he announced. "That's strange—"
"What do they want up there, I wonder?"
"They can't think we've got anything valuable up there."
"Deacon," burst out Mrs. Hopkins, with a sudden idea, "I believe we've been fooled."
"Fooled! What do you mean?"
"I believe it isn't robbers."
"Not robbers? Why, you told me it was," said her husband, bewildered.
"I believe it's that boy."
"What would he want downstairs?"
"I don't know, but it's him, I'll be bound. Light the lamp, deacon, and go up and see."
"But it might be robbers," objected the deacon, in alarm. "They might get hold of me, and kill me."
"I didn't think you were such a coward, Mr. Hopkins," said his wife, contemptuously. When she indulged in severe sarcasm, she was accustomed to omit her husband's title.
"I aint a coward, but I don't want to risk my life. It's a clear flyin' in the face of Providence. You'd ought to see that it is, Martha," said the deacon, reproachfully.
"I don't see it. I see that you are frightened, that's what I see. Light the lamp, and I'll go up myself."
"Well, Martha, it's better for you to go. They won't touch a woman."
He lighted the lamp, and his wife departed on her errand. It might have been an unconscious action on the part of the deacon, but he locked the door after his wife.
Mrs. Hopkins proceeded to the door of Sam's bed-chamber, and, as the door was unfastened, she entered. Of course he was still awake, but he pretended to be asleep.
"Sam," said Mrs. Hopkins.
There was a counterfeited snore.
Sam took no notice.
The lady took him by the shoulder, and shook him with no gentle hand, so that our hero was compelled to rouse himself.
"What's up?" he asked, rubbing his eyes in apparent surprise.
"I am," said Mrs. Hopkins, shortly, "and you have been."
"I!" protested Sam, innocently. "Why, I was sound asleep when you came in. I don't know what's been goin on. Is it time to get up?"
"What have you been doing downstairs?" demanded Mrs. Hopkins, sternly.
"Who says I've been downstairs?" asked Sam.
"I'm sure you have. I heard you."
"It must have been somebody else."
"There is no one else to go down. Neither the deacon nor myself has been down."
"Likely it's thieves."
But Mrs. Hopkins felt convinced, from Sam's manner, that he was the offender, and she determined to make him confess it.
"Get up," she said, "and go down with me."
"I'm sleepy," objected Sam.
"So am I, but I mean to find out all about this matter."
Sam jumped out of bed, and unwillingly accompanied Mrs. Hopkins downstairs. The latter stopped at her own chamber-door, and tried to open it.
"Who's there?" asked the deacon, tremulously.
"I am," said his wife, emphatically.
"So you locked the door on your wife, did you, because you thought there was danger. It does you great credit, upon my word."
"What have you found out?" asked her husband, evading the reproach. "Was it Sam that made all the noise?"
"How could I," said Sam, "when I was fast asleep?"
"I'm goin to take him down with me to see what mischief's done," said Mrs. Hopkins. "Do you want to go too?"
The deacon, after a little hesitation, followed his more courageous spouse, at a safe distance, however,—and the three entered the kitchen, which had been the scene of Sam's noisy exploits. It showed traces of his presence in an overturned chair. Moreover, the closet-door was wide open, and broken pieces of crockery were scattered over the floor.
A light dawned upon Mrs. Hopkins. She had solved the mystery!
SAM COMBINES BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE.
"You came down after that pie," she said, turning upon Sam..
"What pie?" asked Sam, looking guilty, however.
"Don't ask me. You know well enough. You couldn't find it in the dark, and that's the way you came to make such a noise. Ten of my nice plates broken, too! What do you say to that, Deacon Hopkins?"
"Samuel," said the deacon, "did you do this wicked thing?"
A moment's reflection convinced Sam that it would be idle to deny it longer. The proofs of his guilt were too strong. He might have plead in his defence "emotional insanity," but he was not familiar with the course of justice in New York. He was, however, fertile in expedients, and thought of the next best thing.
"Mebbe I walked in my sleep," he admitted.
"Did you ever walk in your sleep?" asked the deacon, hastily.
"Lots of times," said Sam.
"It is rather strange you should go to the closet in your sleep," said Mrs. Hopkins, suspiciously. "I suppose, if you'd found it, you'd have eaten it in your sleep."
"Likely I should," said Sam. "I was dreamin' of the pie. You know how to make pie, Mrs. Hopkins; I never tasted so good before."
Mrs. Hopkins was not a soft woman, but she was proud of her cooking, and accessible to flattery on that subject. Sam could not have defended himself better.
"That may be," she said, "about your walking in your sleep; but once is enough. Hereafter I'll lock your door on the outside. I can't be waked up every night, nor I can't have my plates broken."
"S'pose the house should catch fire," suggested Sam, who didn't fancy being locked up in his room.
"If it does, I'll come and let you out. The house is safer when you're safe in bed."
"My wife is right, Samuel," said the deacon, recovering his dignity now that his fears were removed. "You must be locked in after to-night."
Sam did not reply. On the whole, he felt glad to get off so well, after alarming the house so seriously.
"Do you mean to stay downstairs all night, Deacon Hopkins?" demanded his wife, with uncalled-for asperity. "If so, I shall leave you to yourself."
"I'm ready to go up when you are," said her husband. "I thought you mightn't feel like stayin' down here alone."
"Much protection you'd be in time of danger, Mr. Hopkins,—you that locked the door on your wife, because you was afraid!"
"I wasn't thinkin'," stammered the deacon.
"Probably not," said his wife, in an incredulous tone. "Now go up. It's high time we were all in bed again."
Sam was not called at as early an hour as the deacon intended. The worthy man, in consequence of his slumbers being interrupted, overslept himself, and it was seven o'clock when he called Sam.
"Get up, Samuel," he said; "it's dreadful late, and you must be spry, or you won't catch up with the work."
Work, however, was not prominent in Sam's mind, as his answer showed.
"Is breakfast ready?" he asked, rubbing his eyes.
"It's most ready. Get right up, for it's time to go to work."
"I 'spose we'll have breakfast first," said Sam.
"If it's ready."
Under these circumstances, Sam did not hurry. He did not care to work before breakfast, nor, for that matter, afterwards, if he could help it. So he made a leisurely, though not an elaborate toilet, and did not come down till Mrs. Hopkins called sharply up the attic stairs, "Come down, you Sam!"
"All right, ma'am, I'm comin'," said Sam, who judged rightly that breakfast was ready.
"We shan't often let you sleep so late," said Mrs. Hopkins, who sat behind the waiter. "We were broken of our rest through your cutting up last night, and so we overslept ourselves."
"It's pretty early," said Sam.
"We'd ought to have been at work in the field an hour ago," said the deacon.
At the table Sam found work that suited him better.
"You've got a good appetite," said Mrs. Hopkins, as Sam took the seventh slice of bread.
"I most generally have," said Sam, with his mouth full.
"That's encouraging, I'm sure," said Mrs. Hopkins, drily.
There was no pie on the table, as Sam noticed, to his regret. However, he was pretty full when he rose from the table.
"Now, Samuel, you may come along with me," said the deacon, putting on his hat.
Sam followed him out to the barn, where, in one corner, were kept the hoes, rakes, and other farming implements in use.
"Here's a hoe for you," said the deacon.
"What are we going to do?" asked Sam.
"The potatoes need hoeing. Did you ever hoe potatoes?"
"You'll l'arn. It aint hard."
The field was some, little distance from the house,—a two-acre lot wholly devoted to potatoes.
"I guess we'll begin at the further corner," said the deacon. "Come along."
When they had reached the part of the field specified, the deacon stopped.
"Now," said he, "just see how I do it;" and he carefully hoed around one of the hills.
"There, you see it's easy."
"I guess I can do it. Are you goin to stay here?"
"No, I've got to go to the village, to the blacksmith's. I'll be back in about two hours. Jest hoe right along that row, and then come back again on the next. Do you understand?"
"Yes," said Sam.
"I want you to work as spry as you can, so's to make up for lost time."
"What time do you have dinner?" asked our hero.
"You aint hungry so quick, be you?"
"No, but I shall be bimeby. I thought I'd like to know when to quit work, and go to dinner."
"I'll be back before that. You needn't worry about that."
The deacon turned, and directed his steps homeward.
As long as he was in sight Sam worked with tolerable speed. But when the tall and stooping figure had disappeared from view he rested, and looked around him.
"It'll be a sight of work to hoe all them potatoes," he said to himself. "I wonder if the old man expects me to do the whole. It'll be a tough job."
Sam leisurely hoed another hill.
"It's gettin' hot," he said. "Why don't they have trees to give shade? Then it would be more comfortable."
He hoed another hill, taking a little longer time.
"I guess there must be a million hills," he reflected, looking around him thoughtfully. "It'll take me from now till next winter to hoe 'em all."
At the rate Sam was working, his calculation of the time it would take him was not far out probably.
He finished another hill.
Just then a cat, out on a morning walk, chanced to pass through the field a few rods away. Now Sam could never see a cat without wanting to chase it,—a fact which would have led the cat, had she been aware of it, to give him a wide berth. But, unluckily, Sam saw her.
"Scat!" he exclaimed, and, grasping his hoe, he ran after puss.
The cat took alarm, and, climbing the wall which separated the potato-field from the next, sped over it in terror. Sam followed with whoops and yells, which served to accelerate her speed. Occasionally he picked up a stone, and threw at her, and once he threw the hoe in the excitement of his chase. But four legs proved more than a match for two, and finally he was obliged to give it up, but not till he had run more than quarter of a mile. He sat down to rest on a rock, and soon another boy came up, with a fishing-pole over his shoulder.
"What are you doing, Sam?" he asked.
"I've been chasin' a cat," said Sam.
"Didn't catch her, did you?"
"No, hang it."
"Where'd you get that hoe?"
"I'm to work for Deacon Hopkins. He's took me. Where are you goin?"
"I wish I could go."
"So do I. I'd like company."
"Where are you goin to fish?"
"In a brook close by, down at the bottom of this field."
"I'll go and look on a minute or two. I guess there isn't any hurry about them potatoes."
The minute or two lengthened to an hour and a half, when Sam roused himself from his idle mood, and shouldering his hoe started for the field where he had been set to work.
It was full time. The deacon was there before him, surveying with angry look the half-dozen hills, which were all that his young assistant had thus far hoed.
"Now there'll be a fuss," thought Sam, and he was not far out in that calculation.
SAM'S SUDDEN SICKNESS.
"Where have you been, you young scamp?" demanded the deacon, wrathfully.
"I just went away a minute or two," said Sam, abashed.
"A minute or two!" ejaculated the deacon.
"It may have been more," said Sam. "You see I aint got no watch to tell time by."
"How comes it that you have only got through six hills all the morning?" said the deacon, sternly.
"Well, you see, a cat came along—" Sam began to explain.
"What if she did?" interrupted the deacon. "She didn't stop your work, did she?"
"Why, I thought I'd chase her out of the field."
"I thought she might scratch up some of the potatoes," said Sam, a brilliant excuse dawning upon him.
"How long did it take you to chase her out of the field, where she wasn't doing any harm?"
"I was afraid she'd come back, so I chased her a good ways."
"Did you catch her?"
"No, but I drove her away. I guess she won't come round here again," said Sam, in the tone of one who had performed a virtuous action.
"Did you come right back?"
"I sat down to rest. You see I was pretty tired with running so fast."
"If you didn't run any faster than you have worked, a snail would catch you in half a minute," said the old man, with justifiable sarcasm. "Samuel, your excuse is good for nothing. I must punish you."
Sam stood on his guard, prepared to run if the deacon should make hostile demonstrations. But his guardian was not a man of violence, and did not propose to inflict blows. He had another punishment in view suited to Sam's particular case.
"I'll go right to work," said Sam, seeing that no violence was intended, and hoping to escape the punishment threatened, whatever it might be.
"You'd better," said the deacon.
Our hero (I am afraid he has not manifested any heroic qualities as yet) went to work with remarkable energy, to the imminent danger of the potato-tops, which he came near uprooting in several instances.
"Is this fast enough?" he asked.
"It'll do. I'll take the next row, and we'll work along together. Take care,—I don't want the potatoes dug up."
They kept it up for an hour or more, Sam working more steadily, probably, than he had ever done before in his life. He began to think it was no joke, as he walked from hill to hill, keeping up with the deacon's steady progress.
"There aint much fun about this," he thought. "I don't like workin' on a farm. It's awful tiresome."
"What's the use of hoein' potatoes?" he asked, after a while. "Won't they grow just as well without it?"
"No," said the deacon.
"I don't see why not."
"They need to have the earth loosened around them, and heaped up where it's fallen away."
"It's a lot of trouble," said Sam.
"We must all work," said the deacon, sententiously.
"I wish potatoes growed on trees like apples," said Sam. "They wouldn't be no trouble then."
"You mustn't question the Almighty's doin's, Samuel," said the deacon, seriously. "Whatever he does is right."
"I was only wonderin', that was all," said Sam.
"Human wisdom is prone to err," said the old man, indulging in a scrap of proverbial philosophy.
"What does that mean?" thought Sam, carelessly hitting the deacon's foot with his descending hoe. Unfortunately, the deacon had corns on that foot, and the blow cost him a sharp twinge.
"You careless blockhead!" he shrieked, raising the injured foot from the ground, while a spasm of anguish contracted his features. "Did you take my foot for a potato-hill?"
"Did I hurt you?" asked Sam, innocently.
"You hurt me like thunder," gasped the deacon, using, in his excitement, words which in calmer moments he would have avoided.
"I didn't think it was your foot," said Sam.
"I hope you'll be more careful next time; you most killed me."
"I will," said Sam.
"I wonder if it isn't time for dinner," he began to think presently, but, under the circumstances, thought it best not to refer to the matter. But at last the welcome sound of the dinner-bell was heard, as it was vigorously rung at the back door by Mrs. Hopkins.
"That's for dinner, Samuel," said the deacon. "We will go to the house."
"All right!" said Sam, with alacrity, throwing down the hoe in the furrow.
"Pick up that hoe, and carry it with you," said the deacon.
"Then we won't work here any more to-day!" said Sam, brightening up.
"Yes, we will; but it's no way to leave the hoe in the fields. Some cat might come along and steal it," he added, with unwonted sarcasm.
Sam laughed as he thought of the idea of a cat stealing a hoe, and the deacon smiled at his own joke.
Dinner was on the table. It was the fashion there to put all on at once, and Sam, to his great satisfaction, saw on one side a pie like that which had tempted him the night before. The deacon saw his look, and it suggested a fitting punishment. But the time was not yet.
Sam did ample justice to the first course of meat and potatoes. When that was despatched, Mrs. Hopkins began to cut the pie.
The deacon cleared his throat.
"Samuel is to have no pie, Martha," he said.
His wife thought it was for his misdeeds of the night before, and so did Sam.
"I couldn't help walkin' in my sleep," he said, with a blank look of disappointment.
"It aint that," said the deacon.
"What is it, then?" asked his wife.
"Samuel ran away from his work this mornin', and was gone nigh on to two hours," said her husband.
"You are quite right, Deacon Hopkins," said his wife, emphatically. "He don't deserve any dinner at all."
"Can't I have some pie?" asked Sam, who could not bear to lose so tempting a portion of the repast.
"No, Samuel. What I say I mean. He that will not work shall not eat."
"I worked hard enough afterwards," muttered Sam.
"After I came back—yes, I know that. You worked well part of the time, so I gave you part of your dinner. Next time let the cats alone."
"Can I have some more meat, then?" asked Sam.
"Ye-es," said the deacon, hesitating. "You need strength to work this afternoon."
"I s'pose I get that catechism this afternoon instead of goin to work," suggested Sam.
"That will do after supper, Samuel. All things in their place. The afternoon is for work; the evening for readin' and study, and improvin' the mind."
Sam reflected that the deacon was a very obstinate man, and decided that his arrangements were very foolish. What was the use of living if you'd got to work all the time? A good many people, older than Sam, are of the same opinion, and it is not wholly without reason; but then, it should be borne in mind that Sam was opposed to all work. He believed in enjoying himself, and the work might take care of itself. But how could it be avoided?
As Sam was reflecting, a way opened itself. He placed his hand on his stomach, and began to roll his eyes, groaning meanwhile.
"What's the matter?" asked Mrs. Hopkins.
"I feel sick," said Sam, screwing up his face into strange contortions.
"It's very sudden," said Mrs. Hopkins, suspiciously.
"So 'tis," said Sam. "I'm afraid I'm going to be very sick. Can I lay down?"
"What do you think it is, Martha?" asked the deacon, looking disturbed.
"I know what it is," said his wife, calmly. "I've treated such attacks before. Yes, you may lay down in your room, and I'll bring you some tea, as soon as I can make it."
"All right," said Sam, elated at the success of his little trick. It was very much pleasanter to lie down than to hoe potatoes on a hot day.
"How easy I took in the old woman!" he thought.
It was not long before he changed his mind, as we shall see in The next chapter.
SAM MEETS HIS MATCH.
Sam went upstairs with alacrity, and lay down on the bed,—not that he was particularly tired, but because he found it more agreeable to lie down than to work in the field.
"I wish I had something to read," he thought,—"some nice dime novel like 'The Demon of the Danube.' That was splendid. I like it a good deal better than Dickens. It's more excitin'."
But there was no library in Sam's room, and it was very doubtful whether there were any dime novels in the house. The deacon belonged to the old school of moralists, and looked with suspicion upon all works of fiction, with a very few exceptions, such as Pilgrim's Progress, and Robinson Crusoe, which, however, he supposed to be true stories.
Soon Sam heard the step of Mrs. Hopkins on the stairs. He immediately began to twist his features in such a way as to express pain.
Mrs. Hopkins entered the room with a cup of hot liquid in her hand.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
"I feel bad," said Sam.
"Are you in pain?"
"Yes, I've got a good deal of pain."
Sam placed his hand on his stomach, and looked sad.
"Yes, I know exactly what is the matter with you," said the deacon's wife.
"Then you know a good deal," thought Sam, "for I don't know of anything at all myself."
This was what he thought, but he said, "Do you?"
"Oh, yes; I've had a good deal of experience. I know what is good for you."
Sam looked curiously at the cup.
"What is it?" he asked.
"It's hot tea; it's very healin'."
Sam supposed it to be ordinary tea, and he had no objection to take it. But when he put it to his lips there was something about the odor that did not please him.
"It doesn't smell good," he said, looking up in the face of Mrs. Hopkins.
"Medicine generally doesn't," she said, quietly.
"I thought it was tea," said Sam.
"So it is; it is wormwood-tea."
"I don't think I shall like it," hesitated Sam.
"No matter if you don't, it will do you good," said Mrs. Hopkins.
Sam tasted it, and his face assumed an expression of disgust.
"I can't drink it," he said.
"You must," said Mrs. Hopkins, firmly.
"I guess I'll get well without," said our hero, feeling that he was in a scrape.
"No, you won't. You're quite unwell. I can see it by your face."
"Can you?" said Sam, beginning to be alarmed about his health.
"You must take this tea," said the lady, firmly.
"I'd rather not."
"That's neither here nor there. The deacon needs you well, so you can go to work, and this will cure you as quick as anything."
"Suppose it doesn't?" said Sam.
"Then I shall bring you up some castor-oil in two hours."
Castor-oil! This was even worse than wormwood-tea, and Sam's heart sank within him.
"The old woman's too much for me," he thought, with a sigh.
"Come, take the tea," said Mrs. Hopkins. "I can't wait here all day."
Thus adjured, Sam made a virtue of necessity, and, shutting his eyes, gulped down the wormwood. He shuddered slightly when it was all done, and his face was a study.
"Well done!" said Mrs. Hopkins. "It's sure to do you good."
"I think I'd have got well without," said Sam. "I'm afraid it won't agree with me."
"If it don't," said Mrs. Hopkins, cheerfully, "I'll try some castor-oil."
"I guess I won't need it," said Sam, hastily.
"It was awful," said Sam to himself, as his nurse left him alone. "I'd rather hoe potatoes than take it again. I never see such a terrible old woman. She would make me do it, when I wasn't no more sick than she is."
Mrs. Hopkins smiled to herself as she went downstairs.
"Served him right," she said to herself. "I'll l'arn him to be sick. Guess he won't try it again very soon."
Two hours later Mrs. Hopkins presented herself at Sam's door. He had been looking out of the window; but he bundled into bed as soon as he heard her. Appearances must be kept up.
"How do you feel now, Sam?" asked Mrs. Hopkins.
"A good deal better," said Sam, surveying in alarm a cup of some awful decoction in her hand.
"Do you feel ready to go to work again?"
"Almost," said Sam, hesitating.
"The wormwood-tea did you good, it seems; but you're not quite well yet."
"I'll soon be well," said Sam, hastily.
"I mean you shall be," said his visitor. "I've brought you some more medicine."
"Is it tea?"
"I don't need it," said Sam, getting up quickly. "I'm well."
"If you are not well enough to go to work, you must take some oil."
"Yes, I am," said Sam. "I'll go right out into the field."
"I don't want you to go unless you are quite recovered. I'm sure the oil will bring you 'round."
"I'm all right, now," said Sam, hastily.
"Very well; if you think so, you can go to work."
Rather ruefully Sam made his way to the potato-field, with his hoe on his shoulder.
"Tea and castor-oil are worse than work," he thought. "The old woman's got the best of me, after all. I wonder whether she knew I was makin' believe."
On this point Sam could not make up his mind. She certainly seemed in earnest, and never expressed a doubt about his being really sick. But all the same, she made sickness very disagreeable to him, and he felt that in future he should not pretend sickness when she was at home. It made him almost sick to think of the bitter tea he had already drunk, and the oil would have been even worse.
The deacon looked up as he caught sight of Sam.
"Have you got well?" he asked innocently, for he had not been as clear-sighted as his wife in regard to the character of Sam's malady.
"Yes," said Sam, "I'm a good deal better, but I don't feel quite so strong as I did."
"Mebbe it would be well for you to fast a little," said the deacon, in all sincerity, for fasting was one of his specifics in case of sickness.
"No, I don't think it would," said Sam, quickly. "I'll feel better by supper-time."
"I hope you will," said the deacon.
"I wish I had a piece of pie or somethin' to take the awful taste out of my mouth," thought Sam. "I can taste that wormwood jist as plain! I wonder why such things are allowed to grow."
For the rest of the afternoon Sam worked unusually well. He was under the the deacon's eye, and unable to get away, though he tried at least once. After they had been at work for about an hour, Sam said suddenly, "Don't you feel thirsty, Deacon Hopkins?"
"What makes you ask?" said the deacon;
"Because I'd jist as lieves go to the house and get some water," said Sam, with a very obliging air.
"You're very considerate, Samuel; but I don't think it's healthy to drink between meals."
"Supposin' you're thirsty," suggested Sam, disappointed.
"It's only fancy. You don't need drink railly. You only think you do," said the deacon, and he made some further remarks on the subject to which Sam listened discontentedly. He began to think his situation a very hard one.
"It's work—work all the time," he said to himself. "What's the good of workin' yourself to death? When I'm a man I'll work only when I want to."
Sam did not consider that there might be some difficulty in earning a living unless he were willing to work for it. The present discomfort was all he thought of.
At last, much to Sam's joy, the deacon gave the signal to return to the house.
"If you hadn't been sick, we'd have got through more," he said; "but to-morrow we must make up for lost time."
"I hope it'll rain to-morrow," thought Sam. "We can't work in the rain."
At supper the wormwood seemed to give him additional appetite.
"I'm afraid you'll make yourself sick again, Samuel," said the deacon.
"There aint no danger," said Sam, looking alarmed at the suggestion. "I feel all right now."
"The wormwood did you good," said Mrs. Hopkins, drily.
"I wonder if she means anything," thought Sam
A month passed, a month which it is safe to say was neither satisfactory to Sam nor his employer. The deacon discovered that the boy needed constant watching. When he was left to himself, he was sure to shirk his work, and indulge his natural love of living at ease. His appetite showed no signs of decrease, and the deacon was led to remark that "Samuel had the stiddyest appetite of any boy he ever knew. He never seemed to know when he had eaten enough."
As for Mrs. Hopkins, Sam failed to produce a favorable impression upon her. He was by no means her ideal of a boy, though it must be added that this ideal was so high that few living boys could expect to attain it. He must have an old head on young shoulders, and in fact be an angel in all respects except the wings. On these Mrs. Hopkins probably would not insist. Being only a boy, and considerably lazier and more mischievous than the average, there was not much prospect of Sam's satisfying her requirements.
"You'd better send him to the poorhouse, deacon." she said more than once. "He's the most shif'less boy I ever see, and it's awful the amount he eats."
"I guess I'll try him a leetle longer," said the deacon. "He aint had no sort of bringin' up, you know."
So at the end of four weeks Sam still continued a member of the deacon's household.
As for Sam, things were not wholly satisfactory to him. In spite of all his adroit evasions of duty, he found himself obliged to work more than he found agreeable. He didn't see the fun of trudging after the deacon up and down the fields in the warm summer days. Even his meals did not yield unmingled satisfaction, as he had learned from experience that Mrs. Hopkins did not approve of giving him a second slice of pie, and in other cases interfered to check the complete gratification of his appetite, alleging that it wasn't good for boys to eat too much.
Sam took a different view of the matter, and felt that if he was willing to take the consequences, he ought to be allowed to eat as much as he pleased. He was not troubled with the catechism any more. The deacon found him so stolid and unteachable that he was forced to give up in despair, and Sam became master of his own time in the evening. He usually strayed into the village, where he found company at the village store. Here it was that he met a youth who was destined to exercise an important influence upon his career. This was Ben Barker, who had for a few months filled a position in a small retail store in New York city. Coming home, he found himself a great man. Country boys have generally a great curiosity about life in the great cities, and are eager to interview any one who can give them authentic details concerning it. For this reason Ben found himself much sought after by the village boys, and gave dazzling descriptions of life in the metropolis, about which he professed to be fully informed. Among his interested listeners was Sam, whose travels had been limited by a very narrow circle, but who, like the majority of boys, was possessed by a strong desire to see the world.
"I suppose there as many as a thousand houses in New York," he said to Ben.
"A thousand!" repeated Ben, in derision. "There's a million!"
"Yes, they reach for miles and miles. There's about twenty thousand streets."
"It must be awfully big. I'd like to go there."
"Oh, you!" said Ben, contemptuously. "It wouldn't do for you to go there."
"You couldn't get along nohow."
"I'd like to know why not?" said Sam, rather nettled at this depreciation.
"Oh, you're a country greenhorn. You'd get taken in right and left."
"I don't believe I would," said Sam. "I aint as green as you think."
"You'd better stay with the deacon, and hoe potatoes," said Ben, disparagingly. "It takes a smart fellow to succeed in New York."
"Is that the reason you had to come home?" retorted Sam.
"I'm going back pretty soon," said Ben. "I shan't stay long in such a one-horse place as this."
"Is it far to New York?" asked Sam, thoughtfully.
"Over a hundred miles."
"Does it cost much to go there?"
"Three dollars by the cars."
"That isn't so very much."
"No, but you've got to pay your expenses when you get there."
"I could work."
"What could you do? You might, perhaps, black boots in the City Hall Park."
"What pay do boys get for doing that?" asked Sam, seriously.
"Sometimes five cents, sometimes ten."
"I'd like it better than farmin'!"
"It might do for you," said Ben, turning up his nose.
"What were you doing when you were in New York, Ben?"
"I was chief salesman in a dry goods store," said Ben, with an air of importance.
"Was it a good place?"
"Of course it was, or I wouldn't have stayed there."
"What made you leave it?"
"I had so much care and responsibility that the doctor told me I must have rest. When the boss was away, I run the store all alone."
There was no one to contradict Ben's confident assertions, and though some doubt was entertained by his listener none was expressed. Considering Ben's large claims, it was surprising that his services were not sought by leading New York firms, but, then, merit is not always appreciated at once. That was Ben's way of accounting for it.
Sam was never tired of asking Ben fresh questions about New York. His imagination had been inflamed by the glowing descriptions of the latter, and he was anxious to pass through a similar experience. In fact, he was slowly making up his mind to leave the deacon, and set out for the brilliant Paradise which so dazzled his youthful fancy. There was one drawback, however, and that a serious one,—the lack of funds. Though the deacon supplied him with board, and would doubtless keep him in wearing apparel, there was no hint or intimation of any further compensation for his services, and Sam's whole available money capital at this moment amounted to only three cents. Now three cents would purchase three sticks of candy, and Sam intended to appropriate them in this way, but they formed a slender fund for travelling expenses; and the worst of it was that Sam knew of no possible way of increasing them. If his journey depended upon that, it would be indefinitely postponed.
But circumstances favored his bold design, as we shall see.
One evening as Sam was returning from the store, a man from a neighboring town, who was driving by, reined up his horse, and said, "You live with Deacon Hopkins, don't you?"
"Are you going home now?"
"Then I'll hand you a note for him. Will you think to give it to him?"
"I would stop myself, but I haven't time this evening."
"All right. I'll give it to him."
"Take good care of it, for there's money in it," said the man, as he passed it to the boy.
Money in it! This attracted Sam's attention, and excited his curiosity.
"I wonder how much there is in it," he thought to himself. "I wish it was mine. I could go to New York to-morrow if I only had it."
With this thought prominent in his mind, Sam entered the house. Mrs. Hopkins was at the table knitting, but the deacon was not to be seen.
"Where is the deacon?" asked Sam.
"He's gone to bed," said Mrs. Hopkins. "Did you want to see him?"
"No," said Sam, slowly.
"It's time you were abed too, Sam," said the lady. "You're out too late, as I was tellin' the deacon to-night. Boys like you ought to be abed at eight o'clock instead of settin' up half the night."
"I guess I'll go to bed now," said Sam, taking a lamp from the table.
"You'd better, and mind you get up early in the mornin'."
Sam did not answer, for he was busy thinking.
He went upstairs, fastened his door inside, and taking out the letter surveyed the outside critically. The envelope was not very securely fastened and came open. Sam could not resist the temptation presented, and drew out the inclosure. His face flushed with excitement, as he spread out two five-dollar bills on the table before him.
"Ten dollars!" ejaculated Sam. "What a lot of money! If it was only mine, I'd have enough to go to New York."
SAM TAKES FRENCH LEAVE.
If Sam had been brought up to entertain strict ideas on the subject of taking the property of others, and appropriating it to his own use, the temporary possession of the deacon's money would not have exposed him to temptation. But his conscience had never been awakened to the iniquity of theft. So when it occurred to him that he had in his possession money enough to gratify his secret desire, and carry him to New York, there to enter upon a brilliant career, it did not occur to him that it would be morally wrong to do so. He did realize the danger of detection, however, and balanced in his mind whether the risk was worth incurring. He decided that it was.
"The deacon don't know I've got the money," he reflected. "He won't find out for a good while; when he does I shall be in New York, where he won't think of going to find me."
This was the way Sam reasoned, and from his point of view the scheme looked very plausible. Sam had a shrewd idea that his services were not sufficiently valuable to the deacon to induce him to make any extraordinary efforts for his capture. So, on the whole, he made up his mind to run away.
"Shall I go now, or wait till mornin'?" thought Sam.
He looked out of his window. There was no moon, and the night was therefore dark. It would not be very agreeable to roam about in the darkness. Besides, he was liable to lose his way. Again, he felt sleepy, and the bed looked very inviting.
"I'll wait till mornin'," thought Sam. "I'll start about four, and go over to Wendell, and take the train for New York. I'll be awful hungry when I get there. I wish I could wait till after breakfast; but it won't do."
Sam was not usually awake at four. Indeed he generally depended on being waked up by the deacon knocking on his door. But when boys or men have some pleasure in view it is apt to act upon the mind even when wrapped in slumber, and produce wakefulness. So Sam woke up about quarter of four. His plan flashed upon him, and he jumped out of bed. He dressed quickly, and, taking his shoes in his hand so that he might make no noise, he crept downstairs, and unlocked the front door, and then, after shutting it behind him, sat down on the front door-stone and put on his shoes.
"I guess they didn't hear me," he said to himself. "Now I'll be going."
The sun had not risen, but it was light with the gray light which precedes dawn. There was every promise of a fine day, and this helped to raise Sam's spirits.
"What'll the deacon say when he comes to wake me up?" thought our hero, though I am almost ashamed to give Sam such a name, for I am afraid he is acting in a manner very unlike the well-behaved heroes of most juvenile stories, my own among the number. However, since I have chosen to write about a "young outlaw," I must describe him as he is, and warn my boy readers that I by no means recommend them to pattern after him.
Before accompanying Sam on his travels, let us see how the deacon was affected by his flight.
At five o'clock he went up to Sam's door and knocked.
There was no answer.
The deacon knocked louder.
Still there was no answer.
"How sound the boy sleeps!" muttered the old man, and he applied his knuckles vigorously to the door. Still without effect. Thereupon he tried the door, and found that it was unlocked. He opened it, and walked to the bed, not doubting that he would see Sam fast asleep. But a surprise awaited him. The bed was empty, though it had evidently been occupied during the night.
"Bless my soul! the boy's up," ejaculated the deacon.
A wild idea came to him that Sam had voluntarily got up at this early hour, and gone to work, but he dismissed it at once as absurd. He knew Sam far too well for that.
Why, then, had he got up? Perhaps he was unwell, and could not sleep. Not dreaming of his running away, this seemed to the deacon the most plausible way of accounting for Sam's disappearance, but he decided to go down and communicate the news to his wife.
"Why were you gone so long, deacon?" asked Mrs. Hopkins. "Couldn't you wake him up?"
"He wasn't there."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that Sam's got up already. I couldn't find him."
"Couldn't find him?"
"Had the bed been slept in?"
"Of course. I s'pose he was sick, and couldn't sleep, so he went downstairs."
"Perhaps he's gone down to the pantry," said Mrs. Hopkins, suspiciously. "I'll go down and see."
She went downstairs, followed by the deacon. She instituted an examination, but found Sam guiltless of a fresh attempt upon the provision department. She went to the front door, and found it unlocked.
"He's gone out," she said.
"So he has, but I guess he'll be back to breakfast," said the deacon.
"I don't," said the lady.
"Because I think he's run away."
"Run away!" exclaimed the deacon. "Why, I never had a boy run away from me."
"Well, you have now."
"Where would he go? He aint no home. He wouldn't go to the poorhouse."
"Of course not. I never heard of anybody that had a comfortable home running away to the poorhouse."
"But why should he run away?" argued the deacon.
"Boys often run away," said his wife, sententiously.
"He had no cause."
"Yes, he had. You made him work, and he's lazy, and don't like work. I'm not surprised at all."
"I s'pose I'd better go after him," said the deacon.
"Don't you stir a step to go, deacon. He aint worth going after. I'm glad we've got rid of him."
"Well, he didn't do much work," admitted the deacon.
"While he ate enough for two boys. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say."
"I don't know how he's goin' to get along. He didn't have no money."
"I don't care how he gets along, as long as he don't come back. There's plenty of better boys you can get."
Sam would not have felt flattered, if he had heard this final verdict upon his merits. It must be confessed, however, that it was well deserved.
A few days afterwards, the deacon obtained the services of another boy, whom he found more satisfactory than the runaway, and Sam was no longer missed. It was not till the tenth day that he learned of the theft. While riding on that day, he met Mr. Comstock, who had confided to Sam the money-letter.
"Good-morning, Deacon Hopkins," said he, stopping his horse.
"Good-morning," said the deacon.
"I suppose your boy handed you a letter from me."
"I haven't received any letter," said the deacon, surprised.
"It was early last week that I met a boy who said he lived with you. As I was in a hurry, I gave him a letter containing ten dollars, which I asked him to give to you."
"What day was it?" asked the deacon, eagerly.
"Monday. Do you mean to say he didn't give it to you?"
"No; he ran away the next morning, and I haven't seen him since."
"Then he ran away with the money—the young thief! I told him there was money in it."
"Bless my soul! I didn't think Sam was so bad," ejaculated the deacon.
"Didn't you go after him?"
"No; he wasn't very good to work, and I thought I'd let him run. Ef I'd knowed about the money, I'd have gone after him."
"It isn't too late, now."
"I'll ask my wife what I'd better do."
The deacon conferred with his wife, who was greatly incensed against Sam, and would have advised pursuit, but they had no clue to his present whereabouts.
"He'll come back some time, deacon," said she. "When he does, have him took up."
But years passed, and Sam did not come back, nor did the deacon set eyes on him for four years, and then under the circumstances recorded in the first chapter.
SAM'S ADVENTURES AT THE DEPOT.
It was six miles to the station at Wendell, where Sam proposed to take the cars for New York. He had to travel on an empty stomach, and naturally got ravenously hungry before he reached his destination. About half a mile this side of the depot he passed a grocery-store, and it occurred to him that he might get something to eat there.
Entering he saw a young man in his shirt-sleeves engaged in sweeping.
"Have you got anything good to eat?" asked Sam.
"This aint a hotel," said the young man, taking Sam for a penniless adventurer.
"I knew that before," said Sam, "but haven't you got some crackers or something, to stay a feller's stomach?"
"Haven't you had any breakfast?" asked the clerk, curiously.
"Don't they give you breakfast where you live?"
"Not so early in the morning. You see I had to take an early start, 'cause I'm goin' to attend my grandmother's funeral."
This of course was a story trumped up for the occasion.
"We've got some raw potatoes," said the clerk, grinning.
"I've had enough to do with potatoes," said Sam. "Haven't you got some crackers?"
"Come to think of it, we have. How many will you have?"
"About a dozen."
While they were being put up in a paper bag, the clerk inquired, "How far off does your grandmother live?"
"About twenty miles from here, on the railroad," answered Sam, who didn't care to mention that he was bound for New York.
"Warwick, I suppose."
"Yes," said Sam, at a venture. "How soon does the train start?"
"In about half an hour. Hold on, though; that's the New York train, and don't stop at Warwick."
"I guess I'll be goin," said Sam, hurriedly. "Where's the depot?"
"Half a mile straight ahead, but you needn't hurry. The train for Warwick don't go till ten."
"Never mind. I want to see the New York train start;" and Sam hurried off eating crackers as he walked.
"I'm glad the train starts so quick," thought Sam. "I don't want to wait round here long. I might meet somebody that knows me."
He had no difficulty in finding the depot. It was a plain building, about twenty by thirty feet, with a piazza on the side towards the track. He entered, and going up to the ticket-office asked for a ticket to New York.
"For yourself?" asked the station-master.
"Yes," said Sam.
"How old are you?"
"Then you'll have to pay for a whole ticket. Three dollars."
"All right," said Sam, promptly, and he drew out a five-dollar bill, receiving in return two dollars and a ticket.
"Do you live in New York, sonny?" asked the station-master.
"No, I'm only goin to see my aunt," answered Sam, with another impromptu falsehood.
"I know something about New York. In what street does your aunt live?"
Sam was posed, for he did not know the name of even one street in the city he was going to.
"I don't exactly remember," he was forced to admit.
"Then how do you expect to find her if you don't know where she lives?"
"Oh, she'll meet me at the depot," said Sam, readily.
"Suppose she don't?"
"I'll find her somehow. But she's sure to meet me."
"Going to stay long in the city?"
"I hope so. Perhaps my aunt'll adopt me. How soon will the train be along?"
"In about fifteen minutes."
Here an old lady came up, and asked for a ticket to New York.
"Three dollars, ma'am."
"Three dollars! Can't you take less?" asked the old lady, fumbling in her pocket for her purse.
"No ma'am, the price is fixed."
"It's a sight of money. Seems throwed away, too, jest for travellin'. You haint got anything to show for it. I never was to York in my life."
"Please hurry, ma'am, there are others waiting."
"Massy sakes, don't be so hasty! There's the money."
"And there's your ticket."
"I wish I know'd somebody goin to New York. I'm afeared to travel alone."
"There's a boy going," said the station-master, pointing to Sam.
"Are you goin to York?" asked the old lady, peering over her spectacles at Sam.
"Was you ever there afore?"
"Aint your folks afeared to have you go alone?"
"Oh, no, they don't mind."
"I wish you was older, so's you could look after me."
Sam was rather flattered by the idea of having a lady under his charge, and said, "I'll take care of you, if you want me to."
"Will you? That's a good boy. What's your name?"
"Sam Barker," answered our hero, with some hesitation, not feeling sure whether it was politic to mention his real name.
"Do you live in New York?"
"No, ma'am; but I'm goin to."
"When will the cars git along?"
"In about ten minutes."
"You'll help me get in, won't you? I've got two bandboxes, and I don't know how to manage."
"Yes, ma'am, I'll help you. I'm goin out on the platform, but I'll come in when the cars come along."
Sam went out on the platform, and watched eagerly for the approach of the cars. Up they came, thundering along the track, and Sam rushed into the depot in excitement.
"Come along, ma'am," he said. "The cars are here."
The old lady was in a flutter of excitement also. She seized one bandbox, and Sam the other, and they hurried out on the platform. They were just climbing up the steps, when the conductor asked, "Where are you going?"
"To York, of course."
"Then this isn't the train. It is going in the opposite direction."
"Lawful suz!" ejaculated the old lady in dismay. "What made you tell me wrong, you bad boy?" and she glared at him reproachfully over her glasses.
"How should I know?" said Sam, rather abashed. "I didn't know about no other train."
"You come near makin' me go wrong."
"I can't help it. It would be just as bad for me."
"When does the train go to York, somebody?" asked the old lady, looking about her in a general way.
"Next train; comes round in about five minutes."
Sam helped the old lady back into the depot, rather ashamed of the mistake he had made. He saw that she had lost some of her confidence in him, and it mortified him somewhat.
It was nearly ten minutes afterwards,—for the train was late, before the right cars came up.
Sam dashed into the depot again, and seized a bandbox.
"Here's the cars. Come along," he said.
"I won't stir a step till I know if it's the right cars," said the old lady firmly.
"Then you may stay here," said Sam. "I'm goin'."
"Don't leave your grandmother," said a gentleman, standing by.
"She isn't my grandmother. Isn't this the train to New York?"
Sam seized the bandbox once more, and this time the old lady followed him.
They got into the cars without difficulty, and the old lady breathed a sigh of relief.
Sam took a seat at the window just behind her, and his heart bounded with exultation as he reflected that in a few hours he would be in the great city, of which he had such vague and wonderful ideas. The only drawback to his enjoyment was the loss of his usual morning meal. The crackers helped to fill him up, but they were a poor substitute for the warm breakfast to which he had been accustomed at the deacon's. Still Sam did not wish himself back. Indeed, as he thought of the deacon's bewilderment on discovering his disappearance, he broke into an involuntary laugh.
"What are you laffin' at?" asked the old lady, suspiciously.
Sam answered, "I was thinkin' how near we came to bein' carried off to the wrong place."
"That aint anything to laff at," said the old lady, grimly.
FIRST EXPERIENCES IN THE CITY.
There are few boys who do not enjoy a trip on the railroad, especially for the first time. The five hours which Sam spent on his journey gave him unqualified delight. Occasionally his attention was called off from the scenery by an exclamation from the old lady, who at every jolt thought the cars were off the track.
Sam liberally patronized the apple and peanut merchant, who about once an hour walked through the cars. The crackers which he had purchased at the grocery store had not spoiled his appetite, but rather appeared to sharpen it. The old lady apparently became hungry also, for she called the apple vender to her.
"What do you ask for them apples?" she inquired.
"The largest are three cents apiece, the smallest, two cents."
"That's an awful price. They aint worth half that."
"We can't sell 'em for less, and make any profit."
"I'll give you a cent for that one," she continued, pointing to the largest in the basket.
"That! Why, that's a three-center. Can't take it nohow."
"I'll give you three cents for them two."
"No, ma'am, you may have 'em for five cents."
"Then I won't buy 'em. My darter will give me plenty for nothin'."
"She may, but I can't."
So the old lady heroically put away the temptation, and refused to purchase.
All things must have an end, and Sam's journey was at length over. The cars entered the great depot. Sam hurried out of the cars, never giving a thought to the old lady, who expected his help in carrying out her bandboxes. He was eager to make his first acquaintance with the streets of New York. There was a crowd of hackmen in waiting, all of whom appeared to Sam to be seeing which could talk fastest.
"Have a carriage, sir? Take you to any hotel."
One of them got hold of Sam by the arms, and attempted to lead him to his carriage.
"Hold on a minute, mister," said Sam, drawing back. "Where are you goin' to take me?"
"Anywhere you say. Astor House, St. Nicholas, or any other."
"Is it far?"
"About five miles," said the hackman, glibly.
"How much are you goin to charge?"
"Only three dollars."
"Three dollars!" repeated Sam, in amazement.
He had less than seven dollars now, and, though he was not particularly provident, he knew that it would never do to spend almost half his slender stock of money for cab-hire.
"Never mind," said he. "I'll walk."
"You can't; it's too far," said the hackman, eager for a fare.
So Sam walked out of the depot, and walked away. He didn't know exactly where to go, and thought he would follow a man with a carpet-bag who appeared to know his way. This man unconsciously guided him to Broadway. Sam realized, from the stately character of the buildings, that he was in an important street, and, cutting loose from his guide, walked down towards the City Hall Park. It seemed to him like a dream; these beautiful warehouses, showy stores, and the moving throng, which never seemed to grow less, surprised him also. Though he knew in advance that New York must be very different from the little country town which, until now, had been his home, he was not prepared for so great a difference, and wandered on, his mouth and eyes wide open.
At last he reached the City Hall Park, and, catching sight of a bench on which one or two persons were already sitting, Sam, feeling tired with his walk, entered the Park, and sat down too.
"Black yer boots?" inquired a dirty-faced boy, with a box slung over his shoulders.
Sam looked at his shoes, begrimed with a long country walk, and hesitated.
"What do you ask?" he said.
"It's worth a quarter to black them shoes," said the boy, swinging them critically.
"Then I can't afford it,"
"No," said Sam. "I've got to earn my own living, and I can't afford it. Is blackin' boots a good business?"
"Some days it is, but if it comes rainy, it isn't. I'll give you a bully shine for ten cents."
"Will you show me afterwards where I can get some dinner cheap?" asked Sam, who was still hungry.
"Yes," said the boot-black. "I know a tip-top place."
"Is it far off?"
"Right round in Chatham street—only a minute's walk."
"All right. Go ahead. I'll give you ten cents."
Sam felt that he was paying his money not only for the actual service done, but for valuable information besides. On the whole, though he knew he must be economical, it seemed to him a paying investment.
"Did you come from the country?" asked the young knight of the blacking-brush, while he was vigorously brushing the first shoe.
"Yes," said Sam. "I only got here just now."
"That's what I thought."
"Because you look like a greenhorn."
"Do you mean to insult me?" asked Sam, nettled.
"No," said the other; "only if you've never been here before of course you're green."
"I won't be long," said Sam, hastily.
"Course you won't, 'specially if you have me to show you round."
"Have you lived long in New York?" inquired Sam.
"I was born here," said the boy.
"Have you been long blackin' boots?"
"Ever since I was knee-high to a door-step."
"Then you make a living at it?"
"I don't starve. What made you leave the country?"
"I got tired of working on a farm."
"Did you have enough to eat?"
"And a good bed to sleep in?"
"Then you'd ought to have stayed there," said the boot-black.
"I think I shall like the city better," said Sam. "There's a good deal more goin' on."
"I'd like to try the country. You don't live at the West, do you?"
"Lots of boys goes West. Maybe I'll go there, some time."
"Is it a good place?"
"That's what they say. The boys gets good homes out there on farms."
"Then I don't want to go," said Sam. "I'm tired of farmin'."
By this time the shoes were polished.
"Aint that a bully shine?" asked the boot-black, surveying his work with satisfaction.
"Yes," said Sam. "You know how to do it."
"Course I do. Now where's the stamps?"
Sam drew out ten cents, and handed to the boy.
"Now show me where I can get some dinner."
"All right. Come along!" and the boy, slinging his box over his shoulder, led the way to a small place on Chatham street. It was in a basement, and did not look over-neat; but Sam was too hungry to be particular, and the odor of the cooking was very grateful to him.
"I guess I'll get a plate o' meat, too," said the boot-black. "I aint had anything since breakfast."
They sat down side by side at a table, and Sam looked over the bill of fare. He finally ordered a plate of roast beef, for ten cents, and his companion followed his example. The plates were brought, accompanied by a triangular wedge of bread, and a small amount of mashed potato. It was not a feast for an epicure, but both Sam and his companion appeared to enjoy it.
Sam was still hungry.
"They didn't bring much," he said. "I guess I'll have another plate."
"I aint got stamps enough," said his companion.
"If you want another plate, I'll pay for it," said Sam, with a sudden impulse of generosity.
"Will you? You're a brick!" said the boot-black heartily. "Then I don't mind. I'll have another."
"Do they have any pie?" asked Sam.
"Course they do."
"Then I'll have a piece afterwards."
He did not offer to treat his companion to pie, for he realized that his stock of money was not inexhaustible. This did not appear to be expected, however, and the two parted on very good terms, when the dinner was over.
Sam continued to walk about in the neighborhood of the City Hall Park, first in one direction, then in another; but at last he became fatigued. It had been an unusually exciting day, and he had taken more exercise than usual, though he had not worked; for his morning walk, added to his rambles about the city streets, probably amounted to not less than twelve miles. Then, too, Sam began to realize what older and more extensive travellers know well, that nothing is more wearisome than sight-seeing.
So the problem forced itself upon his attention—where was he to sleep? The bed he slept in the night before was more than a hundred miles away. It struck Sam as strange, for we must remember how inexperienced he was, that he must pay for the use of a bed. How much, he had no idea, but felt that it was time to make some inquiries.
He went into a hotel on the European system, and asked a man who was standing at the cigar stand, "What do you charge for sleeping here?"
"Ask of that man at the desk," said the cigar-vender.
Sam followed directions, and, approaching the room-clerk, preferred the same inquiry.
"One dollar," was the answer.
"One dollar, just for sleeping?" inquired Sam, in surprise, for in his native village he knew that the school-teacher got boarded for three dollars a week, board and lodging complete for seven days.
"Those are our terms," said the clerk.
"I don't care about a nice room," said Sam, hoping to secure a reduction.
"We charge more for our nice rooms," said the clerk.
"Aint there any cheaper hotels?" asked our hero, rather dismayed at his sudden discovery of the great cost of living in New York.
"I suppose so," said the clerk, carelessly; but he did not volunteer any information as to their whereabouts.
Sam walked slowly out of the hotel, quite uncertain where to go, or what to do. He had money enough to pay for a night's lodging, even at this high price, but he judged wisely that he could not afford to spend so large a part of his small stock of money.
"I wonder where the boys sleep that black boots," he thought. "They can't pay a dollar a night for sleeping."
He looked around for the boy who had guided him to a restaurant, but could not find him.
It was now eight o'clock, and he begun to think he should have to go back to the hotel after all, when a shabby-looking man, with watery eyes and a red nose, accosted him.
"Are you a stranger in the city, my young friend?" he asked.
"Yes," said Sam, rather relieved at the opportunity of speaking to somebody.
"So I thought. Where are you boarding?"
"Nowhere," said Sam.
"Where do you sleep to-night?"
"I don't know," said Sam, rather helplessly.
"Why don't you go to a hotel?"
"They charge too much," said Sam.
"Haven't you got money enough to pay for a lodging at a hotel?" asked the stranger, with rather less interest in his manner.
"Oh, yes," said Sam, "a good deal more than that; but then, I want to make my money last till I can earn something."