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Rufus and Rose - The Fortunes of Rough and Ready
by Horatio Alger, Jr
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"I am glad to make your acquaintance, Mr. Rushton," said Mrs. Colman.

"Thank you," said Rufus.

"I hear that you have come to board with us."

"Yes," he answered, wishing that he might think of something more to say, but not succeeding.

"It is a pleasant boarding-place; I hope you will like it."

"I think I shall."

"You have a very nice little sister; my little girls like her very much. She will be a great deal of company for them."

"I think she is a very good little girl," said Rufus; "but then I am her brother, so I suppose it is natural for me to think so."

"You are in an office in Wall Street, I am told," said Mr. Colman.

"Yes, sir," said Rufus.

"Whose, may I ask?"

"Mr. Turner's."

"He is an able business-man, and stands high. You could not learn business under better auspices."

"I like him very much," said Rufus; "but then I have not been long in his office."

"I find Miss Manning relieves me of a great deal of care and trouble," said Mrs. Colman (her new governess being just then out of the room). "I feel that I was fortunate in securing her services."

"I think you will like her," said Rufus. "She is very kind to Rose. I don't know what I should do with little sister, if I did not have her to look after her."

"Then your mother is not living, Mr. Rushton."

"No," said Rufus; "she has been dead for two years."

"And you are the sole guardian of your little sister?"

"Yes, ma'am."

After half an hour's call, which Rufus found less embarrassing and more agreeable than he anticipated, he excused himself, and went upstairs.

On Tuesday of the nest week, he decided to reveal his new plans to Miss Manning. Accordingly, he managed to reach home about half-past four in the afternoon, and invited her and Rose to take a walk with him.

"Where shall we walk?" she asked.

"Over to Sixth Avenue," said Rufus. "I want to show you a store there."

Miss Manning soon got ready, and the three set out.

It was not far,—scarcely ten minutes' walk. When they arrived opposite the store, Rufus pointed over to it.

"Do you see that periodical store?" he asked.

"Yes," said Miss Manning.

"How do you like it?"

"Why do you ask?" she inquired, puzzled.

"Look at the sign," he answered.

"RUSHTON & BLACK," read Miss Manning. "Why, that is your name!"

"And I am at the head of the firm," said Rufus complacently.

"What does it all mean?" asked Miss Manning. "How can it be?"

"I'll tell you," said Rufus.

A few words made her understand.

"Now," said Rufus, "let us go over to my store, and look in."

"What, is it your store, Rufie?" asked Rose.

"Yes, little sister, it's part mine."

When they entered, they found George Black behind the counter, waiting on a customer, who directly went out.

"Well, George, how's business?" asked Rufus.

"It opens well," said his partner, cheerfully. "It's a good stand, and there's a good run of custom."

"This is my friend, Miss Manning," said Rufus, "and my little sister Rose."

"I am glad to see you, Miss Manning," said the young man. "I hope," he added, smiling, "you will give us a share of your patronage."

"We'll buy all our slate-pencils at Rufie's store, won't we, Miss Manning?" said Rose.

"Yes, I think so," answered Miss Manning, with a smile.

"Then," said Rufus, "we shall be certain to succeed, if there's a large profit on slate-pencils, George."

"Yes, if you charge high enough."

After a little more conversation they left the store.

"What do you think of my store, Miss Manning?" asked Rufus.

"It's a very neat one. I had no idea you had become so extensive a business-man, Rufus."

"Is Rufie an extensive man?" asked Rose.

"I hope to be some day," said Rufus, smiling.



CHAPTER IX.

AT THE END OF THREE MONTHS.

Rufus soon became accustomed to his new boarding-house, and came to like it. It gratified his pride to perceive that he was regarded as an equal by his fellow-boarders, and that his little sister Rose was a general favorite. It seemed almost a dream, and a very disagreeable one, the life they had formerly lived in the miserable tenement-house in Leonard Street; but still the remembrance of that time heightened his enjoyment of his present comforts and even luxuries. He usually spent the evening in Miss Manning's room, and, feeling the deficiencies in his education, commenced a course of study and reading. He subscribed to the Mercantile Library, and thus obtained all the books he wanted at a very moderate rate.

By way of showing how they lived at this time, I will introduce the reader to Miss Manning's room one evening, about three months after Rufus had begun to board in the house.

Miss Manning was seated at the table sewing. Her young pupils were gone to bed, and she had the evening to herself. Rufus was reading Abbott's "Life of Napoleon," which he found very interesting. Little Rose had fallen asleep on the sofa.

"What are you sewing upon, Miss Manning?" asked Rufus, looking up from his book.

"I am making a dress for Rose."

"When you get tired, just let me know, and I will sew a little for you."

"Thank you, Rufus," said Miss Manning, smiling, "but I suppose it won't hurt your feelings much, if I doubt your abilities as a seamstress."

"I am afraid I shouldn't make a very good living at that, Miss Manning. Times have changed a little since you used to sew from morning till night."

"Yes, they have. I used to see some hard times, Rufus. But everything has changed since I got acquainted with you and little Rose. I sometimes am tempted to regard you as my good angel."

"Thank you, I don't know much about angels, but I'm afraid I don't look much like one. They never have red cheeks, and do business in Wall Street, do they?"

"From what I have heard, I don't believe Wall Street is a favorite resort with them. But, seriously, everything seems to have prospered since I met you. Really, I am beginning to be a capitalist. How much money do you think I have saved up out of the three dollars a week which you pay me?"

"You've bought some things for yourself and Rose, haven't you?"

"Yes, we have each had a dress, and some little things."

"Then I don't see how you could save up much."

"I made the dresses myself, and that was a great saving. Let me see, you've paid me forty-two dollars, in all, for fourteen weeks. I will see how much I have left."

She went to the bureau, and took out her pocket-book.

"I have twenty-five dollars," she said, counting the contents. "Am I not growing rich?"

"Perhaps you'd like to speculate with it in Wall Street?" suggested Rufus.

"I think I'd better keep the money, or put it in a savings-bank."

"When you have money enough, I can buy you a fifty-dollar government bond."

"I shall have to wait a while first."

"Well, as for me," said Rufus, "I can't tell exactly how I do stand. I took fifty dollars out of that five hundred I had in the savings-bank. I think I've got about half of it left. The rest of it went for a trunk, car fare, and other expenses. So, you see, I've been going down hill, while you've been climbing up."

"Have you drawn anything from your store yet, Rufus? You were to draw fifty dollars a quarter, I believe."

"Yes; and that reminds me that George Black promised to call this evening, and pay the money. It's about time to expect him."

Rufus had hardly spoken, when a servant knocked at the door.

Rufus opened it.

"There's a young man downstairs, that would like to see you, Mr. Rushton," she said.

"Where is he, Nancy?"

"In the parlor."

"I'll go right down. I think it must be Black," he said, turning to Miss Manning.

"If it is, of course you will bring him up."

"Yes, I should like to. We can't talk very well in such a public place."

Rufus went down, and shortly reappeared with George Black.

"Good-evening, Mr. Black," said Miss Manning; "take a seat. I hope you are well."

"I'm thriving," said Black. "How pleasant and cheerful you look!"

"Yes, the room is rather high up; but it is pleasant when you get to it."

"We were just speaking of you, when the girl came to let us know that you were here."

"I hope you said nothing very bad about me."

"Not very."

"I think I shall be welcome, as I have brought you some money."

"Money is always welcome here," said Rufus. "I'll take care of all you can bring."

"I have brought fifty dollars, according to our agreement."

"Can you spare that amount without affecting the business?"

"Oh, yes."

"I suppose you can't tell me what the profits have been for the last three months."

"Not exactly; but I have made a rough calculation. As it was the first quarter, I knew you would like to know."

"Well, what is your estimate?"

"As well as I can judge we have cleared about two hundred and fifty dollars."

"That is at the rate of a thousand dollars a year."

"Yes; isn't that doing well?"

"Capitally. Do you think the business will hold out at that rate?"

"I feel sure of it. I hope to improve upon it."

"Even if you don't, that will give you nearly seven hundred dollars a year, and me over three hundred."

"That's better than clerking,—for me, I mean."

"Perhaps you might get more as a clerk."

"Perhaps I might; but now I am my own master, and then I shouldn't be. Besides, I have plans in view which I think will increase our custom, and of course our profits also."

"Success to the firm of Rushton & Black!" said Miss Manning, smiling.

"Thank you," said Rufus; "I like that sentiment, and I'd drink to it if I saw anything to drink. Have you got any champagne in the closet, Miss Manning?"

"All that I ever had there, Rufus. If a glass of water will do as well, I can give you that."

At this moment a knock was heard at the door. Miss Manning rose and opened it. The visitor proved to be Mrs. Clifton, of whom mention has already been made.

"Good-evening, Mrs. Clifton," said the governess; "come in."

"Thank you, but I didn't know you had company."

"Don't stand on ceremony, Mrs. Clifton," said Rufus; "my friend, Mr. Black, is perfectly harmless, I assure you. He is neither a bull nor a bear."

"What spirits you have, Mr. Rushton!"

"No spirits at all, Mrs. Clifton. Miss Manning has just been offering us some water as a substitute."

"You are so lively, Mr. Rushton. You remind me so much of my friend, Mr. Hunter."

"I suppose he was one of your admirers before you became Mrs. Clifton."

"Really, Mr. Rushton, you mustn't say such things. Mr. Hunter and I were very intimate friends, but nothing more, I assure you."

"Is Mr. Clifton well?" asked Miss Manning.

"He hasn't got home from the store. You know the dry goods stores always keep open late. Really, I might as well have no husband at all, it is so late when Mr. Clifton gets home, and then he is so sleepy that he can't keep his eyes open."

It was generally believed that Mr. and Mrs. Clifton did not live together as happily as they might have done,—a fact that will not at all surprise those who are familiar with their history before their marriage, which was quite a business arrangement. Mrs. Clifton married because she did not want to be an old maid, and Mr. Clifton because he knew his prospective wife had money, by means of which he could establish himself in business.

"Are you in business in Wall Street, Mr. Black?" inquired Mrs. Clifton.

"No; I keep a store on Sixth Avenue."

"Indeed! my husband keeps a dry goods store on Eighth Avenue."

"Mine is a periodical and fancy goods store. Mr. Rushton here is my partner."

"Indeed, Mr. Rushton, I am surprised to hear that. You have not left Wall Street, have you?"

"No; I have only invested a portion of my extensive capital. My friend Black carries on the business."

Thus far, Rufus had said nothing in the house about his connection with the Sixth Avenue store; but now that it was no longer an experiment he felt that there was no objection to doing so. Mrs. Clifton, who liked to retail news, took care to make it known in the house, and the impression became general that Rufus was a young man of property. Mr. Pratt, who was an elderly man, rather given to prosy dissertations upon public affairs, got into the habit of asking our hero's opinion upon the financial policy of the government, to which, when expressed, he used to listen with his head a little on one side, as though the words were those of an oracle. This embarrassed Rufus a little at first; but as during the day he was in a situation to hear considerable in reference to this subject, he was generally able to answer in a way that was regarded as satisfactory.

"That young man," remarked Mr. Pratt to his wife in private, "has got a head upon his shoulders. He knows what's what. Depend upon it, if he lives long enough, he will become a prominent man."

"I can't judge of that," said good-natured Mrs. Pratt; "but he's a very agreeable young man, I am sure, and his sister is a little darling."



CHAPTER X.

MR. MARTIN AGAIN APPEARS ON THE SCENE.

The success of the periodical store put Rufus into good spirits. He saw that it would yield him, if only the present degree of prosperity continued, at least three hundred dollars a year, which would make quite a handsome addition to his income. He felt justified in going to a little extra expense, and determined to celebrate his good luck by taking Martha and Rose to a place of amusement. It happened that at this time a company of Japanese jugglers were performing at the Academy of Music, which, as my New York readers know, is situated on Fourteenth Street.

Meaning it to be a surprise, he said nothing to Rose or Martha, but before going down town the next day, went to the box-office, and secured three reserved seats in an excellent situation. They were expensive; but Rufus was resolved that he would not spare expense, for this occasion at least.

When he reached home at half-past five in the afternoon, he went up at once to Martha's room.

"Miss Manning," he said, "have you any engagement this evening?"

"It is hardly necessary to ask, Rufus," she replied; "my company is not in very great demand."

"You have heard of the Japanese jugglers at the Academy of Music?"

"Yes; Mrs. Florence was speaking of them this morning. She and her husband went last evening."

"And we are going this evening. Wouldn't you like to go, Rosy?"

"Ever so much, Rufie. Will you take me?"

"Yes, I have got tickets: see here;" and Rufus drew out the three tickets which he had purchased in the morning.

"Thank you, Rufus," said Miss Manning; "I shall like very much to go. It is long since I went to any place of amusement. How much did the tickets cost?"

"A dollar and a half apiece."

"Isn't that rather extravagant?"

"It would be if we went every week; but now and then we can afford it."

"You must let me pay for my ticket, Rufus."

"Not if I know it," said Rufus. "It's a pity if a Wall Street banker can't carry a lady to a place of amusement, without charging her for the ticket."

"If you put it that way, I suppose I must yield," said Miss Manning, smiling.

Rose was highly excited at the idea of going to see the Japanese, whose feats, as described by Mrs. Florence at the breakfast-table, had interested her exceedingly. The prospect of sitting up till eleven in the evening also had its charm, and she was quite too excited to eat much dinner.

"Really," said Mrs. Clifton, "I quite envy you, Miss Manning. I tried to get Mr. Clifton to buy tickets, but he hasn't done it."

"First time I heard of it," said her husband.

"You pay very little attention to what I ask,—I am aware of that," said Mrs. Clifton, in an aggrieved tone.

"We'll go now, if you say so."

"We couldn't get any decent seats. When did you buy yours, Mr. Rushton?"

"This morning."

Mrs. Clifton, who was thoroughly selfish, hinted that probably Rose wouldn't care about going, and that she should be glad to buy the ticket, and accompany Rufus and Miss Manning; but this hint failed to be taken, and she was forced unwillingly to stay at home.

To tell the truth, Miss Manning was scarcely less pleased than Rose at the idea of going. Until recently she had been a poor seamstress, earning scarcely enough to subsist upon, much less to pay for amusements. Sometimes in the early evening she had passed the portals of places of amusement, and wished that she were able to break the tedious monotony of her daily life by entering; but it was quite out of the question, and with a sigh she would pass on. Now she was very differently situated, and her life was much pleasanter.

"Can I wear my new dress, Martha?" asked Rose.

"Yes, Rosy. It was fortunate that I got it finished to-day."

"And will you wear yours, too, Martha?"

"Yes, I think so," she said. "Rufus has bought us nice seats, and we must look as well as we can."

When both were dressed, they surveyed themselves with satisfaction. Miss Manning was not above the weakness, if it is a weakness, of liking to appear well dressed, though she was not as demonstrative as Rose, who danced about the room in high enjoyment.

When they were quite ready, Rufus came into the room. He had a pair of kid gloves in his hand, which he twirled about in rather an embarrassed way.

"I can't get the confounded things on, Miss Manning," he said. "I've been trying for some time, but it's no go. The fact is, I never owned a pair of kid gloves before. I'd enough sight rather go without any, but I suppose, if I am going to sit in a fashionable seat, I must try to look fashionable."

Miss Manning soon explained to Rufus how the gloves should go on. This time the success was better, and he was soon neatly gloved.

"They are pretty gloves, Rufus," she said.

"I don't like the feeling of them," said Rufus; "they feel strange."

"That is because you are not used to them. You'll like them better soon."

"I wonder what some of my old street friends would say to see me now," said Rufus, smiling. "They'd think I was a tip-top swell."

Though the gloves did not feel comfortable, Rufus looked at his hands with satisfaction. Step by step he was getting into the ways of civilized life, and he was very anxious to leave as far behind him as possible his street experiences.

Soon after dinner they left the house, and, proceeding to Broadway, walked up as far as Union Square. Then they turned down Fourteenth Street, and a few minutes brought them to the Academy of Music.

The entrance and vestibule were brilliantly lighted. On the steps and in front were a number of speculators, who were eagerly offering their tickets to those who appeared unprovided.

Rufus pushed his way through, with Martha and Rose at his side. His tickets were taken at the gate, but the portion indicating the number of their reserved seats was torn off, and given back to them. On showing them to the usher, they were conducted to their seats, which were in the sixth row from the stage, and fronting it.

"We'll have a good view here, Miss Manning," he said.

Soon the curtain rose, and the performance commenced. To those who have not seen the Japanese in their peculiar performance, it is enough to say that they show marvellous skill and agility in their feats, some of which are so difficult as to seem almost impossible.

All three enjoyed the performance. Miss Manning, though so much older, was almost as much unaccustomed as little Rose herself to such scenes, and took a fresh interest in it, which those who go often cannot feel. Every now and then, little Rose, unable to restrain her enthusiasm, exhibited her delight openly.

I should like, for the benefit of my younger readers, to give a detailed account of some portions of the performance which seemed most wonderful; but my memory is at fault, and I can only speak in general terms.

It was a little after ten when the curtain finally fell.

"Is that all?" asked Rose, half in disappointment.

"That's all, Rosy. Are you sleepy?"

"Not a bit," said Rose, vivaciously; "I should like to stay here an hour longer. Wasn't it perfectly beautiful, Rufie?"

"Yes; it was very good," said Rufus; "I don't know but I like it almost as well as the Old Bowery."

Though he had risen in the social scale, he had not quite lost his relish for the style of plays for which the Old Bowery, the favorite theatre with the street boys, is celebrated. But that he had a suspicion that it was not exactly a fashionable place of amusement, he would like to have taken Rose and Miss Manning there this evening. He would hardly have liked to mention it at the table afterwards, however.

The audience rose from their seats, and Rufus with them. Slowly they moved towards the door, and at last made their way to the entrance. Had Rufus known who was waiting there, he might have felt a little nervous. But he did not know, and it devolves upon us to explain.

Three days before, Mr. Martin, who had been sentenced to the penitentiary for three months, on account of his attempt at picking pockets, which we have already chronicled, was released. To say the least, he left the prison no better than he had entered it. Better in one sense he was, for he had been forced for three months to abstain from drink, and this he felt to be a great hardship. But it had a favorable influence upon his health, and his skin was clearer, and his nose not quite so ruddy as when he was arrested. But so far as good intentions went, he had not formed any during his exile from society, and now that he was released he was just as averse to living by honest industry as before.

However, his resources were still limited. Money had never been very plentiful with him, and just at present he was not encumbered with any. It did not occur to him that the shortest way to obtain some was to go to work; or, if it did, the suggestion did not strike him favorably. It did occur to him, however, that there were charitable persons in the metropolis who might be induced to help him, and he resolved to act upon this suggestion. Accordingly, he haunted the neighborhood of the Academy of Music, until the stream of people began to pour out from it, and then he felt that the time had come for him to carry out his plans.

He went up to a gentleman who was coming out with a young lady leaning on his arm.

"Will you listen to me a minute, sir?" he said, in a whining tone. "I haven't eaten anything since yesterday, and I have no money to pay for a night's lodging."

"Why don't you go to work?" said the gentleman.

"I can't get anything to do, sir. I've been trying for something all day."

The fact was that Mr. Martin had been lounging about a low bar-room all day.

"Here, take this, and clear the way."

The gentleman, more to get rid of him than anything else, dropped five cents into his hand, and passed on.

"He might have given a quarter," grumbled Martin; "it wouldn't have hurt him."

He looked up, intending to make a similar application to the next person, when he uttered an exclamation of surprise and exultation. Close before him he saw Rufus and his little sister, accompanied by Miss Manning.



CHAPTER XI.

MR. MARTIN'S WILD-GOOSE CHASE.

Probably nothing could have given Martin greater pleasure than this unexpected meeting with his step-children. He did not reflect that the pleasure might not be mutual, but determined to make himself known without delay. Hurrying forward, he placed one hand on the shoulder of Rufus, saying, "Glad to see you, Rufus; what have you been up to lately? Here's Rose too, I expect she's glad to see me."

At the first sound of his voice poor Rose began to tremble. Clinging closer to her brother, she said, "Don't let him take me, Rufie."

"He shan't touch you, Rose," said Rufus, manfully.

"You don't seem very glad to see me," said Martin, smiling maliciously.

"That's where you're right," said Rufus, bluntly. "We are not glad to see you. I suppose that don't surprise you much. Come along, Rose."

He tried to leave Martin, but Martin did not choose to be left. He shuffled along by the side of our hero, considerably to the disgust of the latter, who was afraid he might fall in with some acquaintance whose attention would be drawn to the not very respectable-looking object who had accosted him, and learn the relationship that existed between them.

"You seem to be in a hurry," sneered Martin.

"I am in a hurry," said Rufus. "It's late for Rose to be out."

"That's what I was thinking," said Martin. "Considerin' that I'm her natural protector, it's my duty to interfere."

"A pretty sort of protector you are!" retorted Rufus, scornfully.

"You're an undootiful boy," said Martin, "to speak so to your father."

"Who do you mean?"

"Aint I your father?"

"No, you are not. If you were, I'd be ashamed of you. Mr. Martin, we haven't anything to do with each other. You can go your way, and I'll go mine. I shan't interfere with you, and I shan't allow you to interfere with me."

"Ho, ho!" said Martin, "when was you twenty-one, I'd like to know?"

"It doesn't make any difference when. Good-night."

"You don't get rid of me so easy," said Martin. "I'll follow you home."

By this time they had reached the corner of Broadway and Union Square. Rufus was placed in an awkward position. He had no authority to order Martin away. He might follow them home, and ascertain where they lived, and probably would do so. Rufus felt that this would never do. Were their home known to Mr. Martin, he would have it in his power to lie in wait for Rose, and kidnap her as he had done once before. He would never feel easy about his little sister under these circumstances. Yet what could he do? If he should quicken his pace, Martin would do the same.

"What do you want to follow us for?" he asked. "What good is it going to do you?"

"Don't you trouble yourself about that," said Martin, exulting in our hero's evident perplexity. "Considerin' that you two are my children, I may want to come and see you some time."

Here Rose began to cry. She had always been very much afraid of Martin, and feared now that she might fall into his hands.

"Don't cry, Rose," said Rufus, soothingly. "He shan't do you any harm."

"Maybe he won't if you treat him well," said Martin. "Look here, Rufus. I'm hard up—dead broke. Haven't you a dollar to spare?"

"Are you going to follow us?"

"Maybe I won't if you'll give me the dollar."

"I can't trust you," said Rufus, suspiciously. "I'll tell you what," he added, after a little thought; "go up to Madison Park, and sit down on one of the seats, and I'll come up in half an hour, or three quarters at most, and give you the dollar."

"Do you think I'm so green?" sneered Martin. "I might stop there all night without seein' you. All you want is a chance to get away without my knowin' where."

"No," said Rufus; "I'll do what I promise. But you must go up there now, and not follow us."

"That don't go down," said Martin. "You don't ketch a weasel asleep."

"Well," said Rufus, coolly, "you can do just as you please. If you accept my offer, you shall have a dollar inside of an hour. If you don't, you won't get a penny."

Still Martin was not persuaded. He felt sure that Rufus meant to mislead him, and, being unreliable himself, he put no confidence in the promise made by our hero. He prepared to follow him home, as the knowledge of where Rose lived would probably enable him to extort more than a dollar from the fear and anxiety of Rufus. So he repeated:—

"That don't go down! You aint quite smart enough to take me in. I'm goin' to follow you, and find out where you live."

"Better give him the dollar now, Rufus," suggested Miss Manning, who felt nearly as anxious as Rose.

"No," said Rufus, decidedly; "I shan't gain anything by it. As soon as he got the money, he'd follow us all the same."

"What will you do?" asked Miss Manning, anxiously.

"You'll see," said Rufus, composedly.

He had been busily thinking, and a plan had suggested itself to his mind, which he thought offered probably the best way out of the difficulty. He reflected that probably Mr. Martin, judging from his appearance, was penniless, or nearly so. He therefore decided to jump on board a horse-car, and thus elude him.

When they reached the corner of University Place, a car was seen approaching.

Rufus hailed it.

"Are we going to ride?" asked Rose.

"Yes, Rose; and now, whatever I do, I want you to keep perfectly still and say nothing. Will you promise?"

"Yes, Rufie."

Rufus exacted this promise, as Rose might unconsciously, by some unguarded exclamation, betray the very knowledge which he was anxious to conceal.

Martin fathomed the purpose of our hero, and determined not be balked. He had five cents which had just been given him out of charity at the door of the Academy, and, though the fare on the horse-cars was one cent more, he thought he might make it do. Accordingly he got into the car after Rufus.

"I couldn't bear to leave such agreeable company," he said, with a leer. "Horse-cars are free, I believe."

"I believe they are," said Rufus.

"I wonder how much money he's got," thought our hero. "I guess I can drain him after a while."

The conductor came along, and Rufus paid for Miss Manning and Rose, as well as himself. Martin was hanging on a strap near by.

"Your fare," said the conductor.

Martin plunged his hand into his pocket, and drew out five cents. He plunged his hand in again, and appeared to be hunting about for the extra penny.

"I declare," said he, "I believe I've lost the other cent. Won't five cents do?"

"Couldn't let you ride under six cents," said the conductor. "It's against the rules."

"I can't see where it is," said Martin, hunting again.

"I'll pay the other penny," said a gentleman sitting near.

"Thank you, sir," said Martin. "Very much obliged to you. I'm a poor man; but it's on account of some undutiful children that I've spent all my money on, and now they begrudge their poor father a few pennies."

He looked at Rufus; but our hero did not see fit to apply the remark to himself, nor, considering that he used to help support Martin, did he feel any particular remorse.

If Martin had been a more respectable-looking object, if his nose had been a trifle less red, and his whole appearance less suggestive of intemperate habits, the remark he had let fall might have stirred some of his listeners to compassion. But no one, to look at him, would wonder much at a want of filial affection towards such a father. So, though he looked round to notice the effect, hoping that he might elicit some sympathy which should take a pecuniary form, he perceived that his appeal had fallen upon stony ground. Nobody seemed particularly impressed, and the hope of a contribution from some compassionate listener faded out.

Rufus was a witness of this scene, and of course it enabled him to fathom Martin's resources. He congratulated himself that they were so speedily exhausted. He did not get out when the car reached Waverley Place, for obvious reasons, but kept on till they came to Bleecker Street. Rose was about to express surprise, but a look from Rufus checked her.

At Bleecker Street he signalled to the conductor to stop. The latter obeyed the signal, and our hero got out, followed not only by Rose and Miss Manning, but, as might have been expected, also by Martin.

"You don't get rid of me so easy," said the latter, triumphantly.

"Don't I?" asked Rufus, coolly. "Are you going to follow me still?"

Martin answered in the affirmative, with an oath.

"Then," said Rufus, coolly, "I'll give you all the following you want to do."

A car bound in the opposite direction was approaching. Rufus hailed it, and it came to a stop.

Martin, who had not been anticipating this move, stopped a moment, staring, crestfallen, at Rufus; but, recovering himself quickly, jumped on the platform, resolved to try his luck.

Rufus paid his fare. Martin didn't volunteer to pay his, but looked steadily before him, hoping that he might escape the conductor's observation. But the latter was too sharp for that.

"Fare?" he said.

"All right," said Martin, plunging his hand into his pocket. Of course he drew out nothing, as he anticipated.

"I declare," he said; "I believe I haven't any money with me."

"Then get off."

"Couldn't you let me off this time?" asked Martin, insinuatingly; "I'm a poor man."

"So am I," said the conductor, bluntly. "You must get off."

"Isn't there any gentleman that'll lend a poor man six cents?" asked Martin, looking round.

But nobody seemed disposed to volunteer assistance, and Martin was compelled reluctantly to jump off.

But he didn't give up yet. The car didn't go so fast but that he could keep up with it by running. It chafed him that Rufus should get the better of him, and he ran along on the sidewalk, keeping the car continually in sight.

"He's running," said Miss Manning, looking out. "What a determined man he is! I'm afraid he'll find us out."

"I'm not afraid," said Rufus. "He'll get tired of running by the time we get to Central Park."

"Shall you ride as far as that?"

"If necessary."

For about a mile Martin held out, but by this time he became exhausted, and dropped behind. The distance between him and the car gradually increased, but still Rufus rode on for half a mile further. By this time Martin was no longer in sight.

"We'll cross over to Sixth Avenue," he said, "so that Martin may not see us on our return."

This suggestion was adopted, luckily, for Martin had posted himself at a favorable place, and was scanning attentively every returning car. But he waited and watched in vain till long after the objects of his pursuit were safe at home and in bed.



CHAPTER XII.

MARTIN'S LUCK TURNS.

Martin continued to watch for an hour or two, sitting in a door-way. At length he was forced to conclude that Rufus had given him the slip, and this tended by no means to sweeten his temper. In fact, his position was not altogether a pleasant one. It was now past midnight, and, having no money, he saw no other way than to spend the night in the street. Besides he was hungry, and that was a complaint which was likely to get worse instead of better. As for Rufus, Martin had never before seen him so well dressed, and it seemed clear that he was prospering.

"He's an ungrateful young rascal," muttered Martin,—"livin' in ease and comfort, while I am left to starve in the street!"

It would have been rather hard to tell what Rufus had to be grateful for, unless for the privilege which he had enjoyed for some time of helping support his step-father; but Martin persuaded himself that he was ungrateful and undutiful, and grew indignant over his fancied wrongs, as he lay back in discomfort on the stone step which he had selected as his resting-place.

The night passed slowly away, and when the morning light came Martin got up very stiff and sore, and more hungry than ever, and began to wonder where he was likely to get any breakfast. Begging seemed to him, on the whole, the easiest way of getting along; but it was too early for that. After a while, however, the street began to be peopled, and he walked up to a gentleman who was approaching, and, assuming a look which he thought indicative of wretchedness, whined out, "Would you be willing to help a poor man, sir?"

The gentleman stopped.

"So you are poor?" he said.

"Yes," said Martin, "I have been very unfortunate."

"Why don't you work?"

"I can't find any work to do," answered Martin.

"Haven't you got any friends to help you?"

"They've all turned against me," said Martin. "Even my own children have turned me out of the house to shift for myself."

"How old are your children?" asked the other.

Martin hesitated, for this question was a little embarrassing.

"One of them is sixteen," he said.

"A son?"

"Yes."

"Did you support him, or did he support you?" was the natural inquiry.

"I supported him," said Martin; "but he's an undootiful, ungrateful scamp, and—"

"Then it appears that he has relieved you from taking care of him, and you have only yourself to provide for. It appears to me that you ought to get along better than before."

"If I could get any work."

"What sort of work do you want to do?"

"If I had a few dollars I could set up in some light business."

"You will have to apply elsewhere for the money, my friend," said the gentleman. "To be frank with you, your appearance doesn't speak in your favor;" and he walked on.

"That's the way the rich and prosperous treat the poor," soliloquized Martin, feeling that the whole world was in a conspiracy against him. Those who undertake to live without work are very apt to arrive at such conclusions.

Martin concluded, on the whole, that he wouldn't refer to being turned out of his house next time, as it might lead to embarrassing questions.

He approached another gentleman, and began with the same appeal for assistance.

"What's the matter? Can't you work?" was the reply.

"I've had a severe fit of sickness," said Martin, forcing a cough; "and I'm very feeble. I haint had anything to eat for twenty-four hours, and I've got a wife and five little children dependent on me."

"If that don't bring something," thought Martin, "nothing will."

"Where do you live?"

"No. 578 Twenty-Fourth Street," answered Martin, glibly.

Now the individual addressed was a gentleman of leisure, of a philanthropic turn of mind, and one who frequently visited the poor at their homes. Martin's story seemed pitiful, and he concluded to inquire into it.

"I'm sorry for you," he said. "I'll go round with you and see your family, and see what can be done for them."

This was just what Martin did not want. As the family he spoke of was entirely imaginary, it would only result in exposure and disappointment. Yet he knew not how to refuse.

"I'm much obliged to you, sir," he said. "I'm afraid it would be too much trouble."

"No, I've nothing pressing for an hour. I always like to relieve the unfortunate."

"What shall I do?" thought Martin, as he walked by the side of the benevolent stranger. At length an idea struck him.

"It isn't everybody that would be willing to risk going with me," he said.

"Why not?"

"They'd be afraid to come."

"Why? What danger is there?"

"My third child is 'most dead with the small-pox," answered Martin, with a very dejected look.

"Good heavens! and I might have carried the infection home to my children," exclaimed the stranger, in excitement.

"Then you won't go with me?" asked Martin.

"Here," said the gentleman, producing fifty cents, "here's a little money. Take it, and I hope it'll do you good."

"I reckon it will," thought Martin, as he took the money. "It'll buy me some breakfast and a couple of cigars. That's a pretty good idea, havin' a child sick with the small-pox. I'll know what to do next time anybody wants to go home with me."

As soon as Martin found himself in funds he took measures to satisfy his appetite. He really had not eaten anything since the middle of the day previous, and felt that he could do justice to a substantial breakfast. He walked along until he came to a restaurant where the prices seemed to be reasonable, and went in. Seating himself at one of the tables, he gave his order, and presently a plate of meat and cup of coffee were placed before him. To these he devoted himself with such vigor that they were soon despatched. Still Martin's appetite was not satisfied. Much as he wanted a cigar, the claims of hunger were imperative, and he ordered breakfast to the extent of his resources.

Opposite him at the table sat a man of middle age, with bushy whiskers, and a scar on his left cheek. He wore a loose sack coat, and a velvet vest. His thick, bunchy fingers displayed two large, showy rings, set with stones, probably imitation. He finished his breakfast before Martin, but still retained his seat, and watched him rather attentively. Martin was too busily engaged to notice the scrutiny to which he was subjected. After sitting a while the stranger drew out a cigar, and, lighting it, began to smoke.

This drew Martin's attention. As the flavor of the cigar, which was a very good one, reached his nostrils, he began to feel a regret that he had not reserved a part of his funds for the purchase of a cigar. His opposite neighbor observed his look, and, for a reason which will appear, saw fit to gratify Martin's desire.

"I don't like to smoke alone," he said, drawing another cigar from his pocket. "Won't you have a cigar?"

"Thank you," said Martin, eagerly accepting it. "You're very kind."

"Don't mention it. So you like to smoke. Light it by mine."

"Yes," said Martin; "I like smoking; but I'm a poor man, and I can't afford to smoke as often as I want to."

"Been unfortunate?" said the stranger, suggestively.

"Yes," said Martin, "luck's been ag'inst me. I couldn't get work to do, and my family turned ag'inst me because I was poor. I've got two children living on the fat of the land, but one of 'em refused me a dollar last night, and left me to sleep in the streets."

"That's bad," said the other.

"He's an undootiful son," said Martin.

"Better luck by and by," said the stranger. "Luck'll turn, it's likely."

"I wish it would turn pretty quick," said Martin. "I've spent my last cent for breakfast, and I don't know where I'm to get my dinner."

"The world owes every man a living," remarked the stranger, sententiously.

"So it does," said Martin. "I don't see what's the use of bein' born at all, if you're goin' to starve afterwards."

"Very true. Now I'll tell you what my principle is."

"What is it?" asked Martin, who was becoming interested in his companion.

"If the world owes me a living, and isn't disposed to pay up promptly, I think it's perfectly right for me to collect the debt any way I can."

"So do I," said Martin, though he didn't exactly see the other's drift.

"For instance, if I was starving, and my next neighbor was a baker, and had plenty of bread, the law of self-preservation justifies me in taking a loaf."

"Without payin' for it?"

"Yes; if I haven't got any money to pay. I'm entitled to my share of food, and if others keep it from me, I have a right to help myself, haven't I?"

"That's so," said Martin; "only it's dangerous."

"Of course there is a risk about it; but then there's a risk in starvin', isn't there?"

"I should think there was," said Martin.

"I thought we should agree pretty well. Now tell me what you propose to do. Perhaps I can assist you."

"I don't know what to do," said Martin. "I can't get work. What do you do?"

"I'm in business," said the stranger, evasively.

"Couldn't you give me a chance,—that is, if it aint hard work? I aint so strong as I was once, and I aint fit for hard work."

"Well, perhaps I may be able to do something for you," said the stranger. "If you'll walk with me a little way, we'll smoke another cigar, and talk it over. What do you say?"

Of course Martin accepted the proposal with alacrity. He did not want to go back to his work as a carpenter, having lost all relish for honest industry. He would rather beg, or do anything else for a living. He had a very indefinite idea of the nature of the proposal which was coming, but, whatever it might be, he was not likely to be shocked at it.

"Here, give me your check," said the stranger.

He paid, therefore, for Martin's breakfast as well as his own, leaving that gentleman's fifty cents intact. Martin was not used to such attention, and appreciated it. For the first time he began to think that his luck had really turned.

The two went out into the street together, and were soon engaged in earnest conversation.



CHAPTER XIII.

MARTIN MAKES A BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT.

Martin was agreeably surprised at the attention paid him by his new friend. There are some who have no difficulty in making friends at first sight, but this had not often happened to him. In fact, there was very little that was attractive or prepossessing about him, and though he could not be expected to be fully aware of that, he had given up expecting much on the score of friendship. Yet here was a stranger, who, to Martin's undiscriminating eyes, appeared quite the gentleman, who had given him a cigar, paid his dinner-bill, and treated him with a degree of attention to which he was unaccustomed. Martin felt that he was in luck, and if there was anything to be made out of his new friend he was determined to make it.

They turned down a side street, perhaps because the stranger's course led that way, perhaps because he was not proud of his new acquaintance.

"So you've had poor luck," he remarked, by way of starting the conversation.

"Yes," grumbled Martin, "you may say that. Things have all been ag'inst me. It's a pretty hard rub for a poor man to get a livin' here."

"Just so," said the other. "What's your business?"

"I'm a carpenter."

"And you can't find work?"

"No," said Martin. "Besides," he added, after a pause, "my health aint very good. Hard work don't agree with me."

He might have said that hard drinking did not agree with him, and this would have been rather nearer the truth. But he was afraid his new friend would offer to find him employment as a carpenter, and for this he was not very anxious. There had been a time when he was content to work early and late, for good wages, but he had of late years led such a shiftless and vagabond life, that honest industry had no more attraction for him, and he preferred to get his living by hook or crook, in fact in any way he could, rather than take the most direct path to a good living by working hard for it.

"What is your name?"

"James Martin. What's yours?"

"Mine," said the stranger, pausing, and fixing his eyes thoughtfully upon Martin; "well, you may call me Smith."

"That aint a very uncommon name," said Martin, thinking he had perpetrated a good joke.

"Just so," said the stranger, composedly. "I've been told so often."

"Well, Mr. Smith, do you think you could help me to some light business that wouldn't be too hard on my health?"

"Perhaps I might," said the other. "What do you think you would like?"

"Why," said Martin, "if I only had a little capital, I could set up a small cigar store, or maybe a drinkin' saloon."

"That would be light and genteel, no doubt," said Smith, "but confining. You'd have to be in the store early and late."

"I might have a boy to stay there when I wanted to go out," suggested Martin.

"So you might," said the other. "There doesn't seem any objection, if you can only raise the capital."

This was rather a powerful objection, however, especially as Mr. Smith offered no encouragement about supplying the capital himself. Martin saw this, and he added, "I only mentioned this. I aint any objection to anything else that's light and easy. Do you think of anything I could do?"

"I may be able to throw something in your way," said Mr. Smith. "But, first, I must ask you a question. Can you keep a secret?"

"Yes," said Martin, "just as many as you like."

"Because the business which I have to propose is of rather a confidential character, and a great deal depends on its being kept secret."

"All right; I'm your man then."

"When I saw you in the restaurant," said Smith, "it struck me that you might answer our purpose. You look as if you could be trusted."

"So I can be," said Martin, pleased with the compliment. "I'll never say a word about the matter. What is it?"

"You shall learn presently,—that is, if my partner thinks we had better engage you."

"Where is your place of business?"

"We will go there. Let us jump into this horse-car."

They had reached Eighth Avenue, and entered a car bound downwards. When the conductor came along, Smith said, "I pay for two," indicating Martin. This was fortunate; for Martin's purse was at a low ebb, his entire stock of money being limited to fifty cents.

They rode some fifteen minutes, at the end of which Smith signalled to the conductor to stop.

"We get out here," he said to Martin.

Martin jumped out after him, and they turned westward down one of the streets leading to the North River.

"Is it much farther?" asked Martin.

"Not much."

"It's rather an out-of-the-way place for business, isn't it?" remarked Martin, observing that the street was lined with dwelling-houses on either side.

"For most kinds of business it is," said his new acquaintance; "but it suits us. We like a quiet, out-of-the-way place."

"Are you in the wholesale business?" asked Martin, whose curiosity began to be considerably excited.

"Something of that sort," answered the stranger. "Ah, here we are!"

The house before which he stopped was a brick dwelling-house, of three stories. The blinds were closed, and it might have been readily supposed that no one lived there. Certainly nothing could have looked less like a place of business, so far as outward appearance went, and Martin, whose perceptions were not very acute, saw this, and was puzzled. Still his companion spoke so quietly and composedly, and seemed to understand himself so well, that he did not make any remark.

Instead of pulling the bell, Mr. Smith drew a latch-key from his pocket, and admitted himself.

"Come in, Mr. Martin," he said.

Martin stepped into the entry, and the door was closed.

Before him was a narrow staircase, with a faded stair-carpet upon it. A door was partly open into a room on the right, but still there was nothing visible that looked like business.

"Follow me," said Smith, leading the way up stairs.

Martin followed, his curiosity, if anything, greater than before.

They went into a front room on the second floor.

"Excuse me a moment," said Smith.

Martin was left alone, but in two minutes Smith returned with a tall, powerful-looking man, whose height was such that he narrowly escaped being a giant.

"Mr. Martin," said Smith, "this is my partner, Mr. Hayes."

"Proud to make your acquaintance, I am sure, Mr. Hayes," said Martin, affably. "I met your partner this mornin' in an eatin'-house, and he said you might have a job for me. My health aint very good, but I could do light work well enough."

"Did you tell Mr. Martin," said the giant, in a hoarse voice that sounded as if he had a cold of several years' standing, "that our business is of a confidential nature?"

"Yes," said Martin, "I understand that. I can keep a secret."

"It is absolutely necessary that you should," said Hayes. "You say you can, but how can I be sure of it?"

"I'll give you my word," said Martin.

The giant looked down upon Martin, and ejaculated, "Humph!" in a manner which might be interpreted to convey some doubt as to the value of Martin's word. However, even if Martin had been aware of this, he was not sensitive, and would not have taken offence.

"Are you willing to take your oath that you will never reveal, under any circumstances, anything connected with our business?"

"Yes," said Martin, eagerly, his curiosity being greater than ever.

There was a Bible on the table. Hayes cast his eyes in that direction, but first said something in a low voice to Smith. The latter drew a small brass key from his pocket, and opened a cupboard, or small closet in the wall, from which, considerably to Martin's alarm, he drew out a revolver and a knife. These he laid on the table beside the book.

"What's that for?" asked Martin, with an uneasy glance at the weapons.

"I'll tell you what it's for, my friend," said the giant. "It's to show you what your fate will be if you ever reveal any of our secrets. Perhaps you don't want to take the risk of knowing what they are. If you don't, you can say so, and go."

But Martin did not want to go, and he did want to learn the secrets more than ever.

"I'm ready," he said. "I'll take the oath."

"Very well, you understand now what it means. Put your hand on the book, and repeat after me: 'I solemnly swear, on the penalty of death by pistol or knife, never to reveal any secret I may have imparted to me in this room.'"

Martin repeated this formula, not without a certain shrinking, not to say creeping, of the flesh.

"Now that you have taken the oath," said Smith, "we will tell you our secret."

"Yes," said Martin, eagerly.

"The fact is," said Smith, in a low voice, "we are counterfeiters."

"You don't say so!" ejaculated Martin.

"Yes, there's a light, genteel business for you. There are all ways of making a living, and that isn't the worst."

"Does it pay pretty well?" asked Martin, getting interested.

"Yes, it's a money-making business," said Smith, with a laugh; "but there's a little prejudice against it, and so we have a very quiet place of business."

"Yes, I see," said Martin.

"You see the world owes us a living," continued Smith, "as you remarked this morning, and if it doesn't come in one way, it must in another."

"Isn't it dangerous?" asked Martin.

"Not if it's carefully managed."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Supply money to our agents chiefly. It won't do to have too many come to the house, for it might excite suspicion. You will come every morning, receive money and directions from one of us, and then do as you are bid."

"How much will you give me?"

"What do you say to a hundred dollars a month?"

"In good money," said Martin, his eyes sparkling with pleasure.

"No, of course not. In money of our manufacture."

Martin's countenance fell.

"First thing I know I'll be nabbed," he said.

"Not if you are careful. We'll give you instructions. Do you accept our terms?"

"Yes," said Martin, unhesitatingly.

"Of course you take a risk. No gain without risk, you know. But if you are unlucky, remember your oath, and don't betray us. If you do, you're a dead man within twenty-four hours from the time you leave the prison. There are twenty men bound by a solemn oath to revenge treachery by death. If you betray our secret, nothing can save you. Do you understand?"

"Yes," said Martin, whose mind was suitably impressed with the absolute necessity of silence. The representations of his new friends might or might not be true, but, at all events, he believed them to be in earnest, and their point was gained.

"When do you want me to begin?" he asked.

"To-day; but first it will be necessary for you to be more decently dressed."

"These are all the clothes I have," returned Martin. "I've been unfortunate, and I haven't had any money to buy good clothes with."

"Have we any clothes in the house that will fit this man?" asked Smith of his confederate.

"I will go and see."

The giant soon returned with a suit of clothing, not very fine or very fashionable, but elegant compared with that which Martin now wore.

"I guess these will fit you," he said. "Try them on."

Martin made the change with alacrity, and when it had been effected, surveyed himself in a mirror with considerable complacency. His temporary abstinence from liquor while at the Island had improved his appearance, and the new suit gave him quite a respectable appearance. He had no objection to appearing respectable, provided it were at other people's expense. On the whole, he was in excellent spirits, and felt that at length his luck had turned, and he was on the high road to prosperity.



CHAPTER XIV.

HOW RUFUS SUCCEEDED IN BUSINESS.

Very little has been said of Rufus in his business relations. When he entered Mr. Turner's office, he resolved to spare no pains to make himself useful, and his services satisfactory to his employer. He knew very well that he owed his situation entirely to the service which he had accidentally been able to do Mr. Turner, and that, otherwise, the latter would never have thought of selecting an office-boy from the class to which he belonged. But Rufus was resolved that, whatever might have been his original motive, he should never regret the selection he had made. Therefore he exerted himself, more than under ordinary circumstances he would have done, to do his duty faithfully. He tried to learn all he could of the business, and therefore listened attentively to all that was going on, and in his leisure moments studied up the stock quotations, so that he was able generally to give the latest quotations of prices of the prominent stocks in the market.

Mr. Turner, who was an observant man, watched him quietly, and was pleased with his evident pains to master the details of the business.

"If Rufus keeps on, Mr. Marston," he said to his chief clerk, one day, "he will make an excellent business-man in time."

"He will, indeed," said the clerk. "He is always prompt, and doesn't need to be told the same thing twice. Besides, he has picked up a good deal of outside information. He corrected me yesterday on a stock quotation."

"He did me a great service at one time, and I mean to push him as fast as he will bear it. I have a great mind to increase his pay to ten dollars a week at once. He has a little sister to take care of, and ten dollars a week won't go far in these times."

"Plenty of boys can be got for less, of course; but he is one in a hundred. It is better to pay him ten dollars than most boys five."

In accordance with this resolution, when Rufus, who had gone to the bank, returned, Mr. Turner called him. Rufus supposed it was to receive some new order, and was surprised when, instead, his employer inquired:—

"How is your little sister, Rufus?"

"Very well, thank you, sir."

"Have you a comfortable boarding-place?"

"Yes, sir."

"How much board do you pay?"

"Eight dollars a week for both of us, sir."

"That takes up the whole of your salary,—doesn't it?"

"Yes, sir; but I have invested the money I had in a stationery store on Sixth Avenue, and get a third of the profits. With that I buy clothes for myself and sister, and pay any other expenses we may have."

"I see you are a great financier, Rufus. I was not aware that you had a business outside of mine. How long have you been with me?"

"About four months, sir."

"Your services have been quite satisfactory. I took you into the office for other reasons; but I feel satisfied, by what I have noticed of you, that it will be well worth my while to retain your services."

"Thank you, sir," said Rufus.

He was exceedingly gratified at this testimony, as he had reason to be, for he had already learned that Mr. Turner was an excellent business-man, and bore a high reputation in business circles for probity and capacity.

"I intended, at the end of six months," pursued Mr. Turner, "to raise your pay to ten dollars a week if you suited me; but I may as well anticipate two months. Mr. Marston, you will hereafter pay Rufus ten dollars a week."

"Very well, sir."

"I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Turner," said Rufus, gratefully. "I didn't expect to have my pay raised for a good while, for I knew that I received more already than most office-boys. I have tried to do my duty, and shall continue to do so."

"That is the right way, Rufus," said his employer, kindly. "It will be sure to win success. You are working not only for me, but most of all for yourself. You are laying now the foundation of future prosperity. When an opportunity occurs, I shall promote you from the post of errand-boy to a clerkship, as I judge from what I have seen that you will be quite competent to fill such a position."

This intelligence was of course very gratifying to Rufus. He knew that as yet he was on the lowest round of the ladder, and he had a commendable desire to push his way up. He saw that Mr. Turner was well disposed to help him, and he resolved that he would deserve promotion.

When he returned home to supper, he carried to Miss Manning and Rose the tidings of his increase of pay, and the encouraging words which had been spoken by Mr. Turner.

"I am not surprised to hear it, Rufus," said Miss Manning. "I felt sure you would try to do your duty, and I knew you had the ability to succeed."

"Thank you for your good opinion of me," said Rufus.

"I can tell you of some one else who has a good opinion of you," said Miss Manning.

"Who is it?"

"Mrs. Clifton. She said this forenoon, that she considered you one of the most agreeable and wittiest young men she was acquainted with."

"I suppose I ought to blush," said Rufus; "but blushing isn't in my line. I hope Mr. Clifton won't hear of it. He might be jealous."

"He doesn't seem much inclined that way," said Miss Manning.

At this moment Mrs. Clifton herself entered.

"Good-evening, Mr. Rushton," she said. "Where do you think I called this afternoon?"

"I couldn't guess."

"At your store in Sixth Avenue."

"I hope you bought something. I expect my friends to patronize me."

"Yes. I bought a package of envelopes. I told Mr. Black I was a friend of yours, so he let me have it at the wholesale price."

"Then I'm afraid I didn't make anything on that sale. When I want some dry goods may I tell your husband that I am a friend of yours, and ask him to let me have it at the wholesale price?"

"Certainly."

"Then I shall take an early opportunity to buy a spool of cotton."

"Can you sew?"

"I never took in any fine work to do, but if you've got any handkerchiefs to hem, I'll do it on reasonable terms."

"How witty you are, Mr. Rushton!"

"I am glad you think so, Mrs. Clifton. I never found anybody else who could appreciate me."

Several days had passed since the accidental encounter with Martin outside of the Academy of Music. Rufus began to hope that he had gone out of the city, though he hardly expected it. Such men as Martin prefer to live from hand to mouth in a great city, rather than go to the country, where they would have less difficulty in earning an honest living. At any rate he had successfully baffled Martin's attempts to learn where Rose and he were boarding. But he knew his step-father too well to believe that he had got rid of him permanently. He had no doubt he would turn up sooner or later, and probably give him additional trouble.

He turned up sooner than Rufus expected.

The next morning, when on the way from the bank with a tin box containing money and securities, he suddenly came upon Martin standing in front of the general post office, with a cigar in his mouth. The respectable appearance which Martin presented in his new clothes filled Rufus with wonder, and he could not avoid staring at his step-father with surprise.

"Hillo!" said Martin, his eye lighting up with malicious pleasure. "So you didn't know me, eh?"

"No," said Rufus.

"I'm in business now."

"I'm glad to hear it," said Rufus.

"I get a hundred dollars a month."

"I'm glad you are prosperous, Mr. Martin."

"Maybe you'll be more willing to own the relationship now."

"I'm glad for your sake only," said Rufus. "I can take care of Rose well enough alone. But I must be going."

"All right! I'll go along with you."

"I am in a hurry," said Rufus, uneasily.

"I can walk as fast as you," said Martin, maliciously. "Seein' you're my step-son, I'd like to know what sort of a place you've got."

The street being free to all, Rufus could not shake off his unwelcome companion, nor could he evade him, as it was necessary for him to go back to the office at once. He consoled himself, however, by the reflection that at any rate Martin wouldn't find out his boarding-place, of which he was chiefly afraid, as it might affect the safety of Rose.

"What have you got in that box?" asked Martin.

"I don't care to tell," said Rufus.

"I know well enough. It's money and bonds. You're in a broker's office, aint you?"

"I can't stop to answer questions," said Rufus, coldly. "I'm in a hurry."

"I'll find out in spite of you," said Martin. "You can't dodge me as easy as last time. I aint so poor as I was. Do you see that?"

As he spoke he drew out a roll of bills (they were counterfeit, but Rufus, of course, was not aware of that), and displayed them.

Our hero was certainly astonished at this display of wealth on the part of his step-father, and was puzzled to understand how in the brief interval since he last saw him he could have become so favored by fortune, but his conjectures were interrupted by his arrival at the office.

"TURNER!" repeated Martin to himself, observing the sign. "So this is where my dootiful step-son is employed. Well, I'm glad to know it. It'll come handy some day."

So saying, he lighted a fresh cigar, and sauntered away with the air of a man of independent means, who had come down to Wall Street to look after his investments.



CHAPTER XV.

THE TIN BOX.

"I met my dootiful son this mornin'," remarked Martin to his employer, at their next interview.

"Did you?" said Smith, carelessly, for he felt little interest in Martin's relations.

"Yes; he's in business in Wall Street."

"How's that?" asked Smith, his attention arrested by this statement.

"He's with Turner, the banker. He was going to the bank, with a tin box under his arm. I'd like to have the money there was in it."

"Did he tell you there was money in it?"

"No; but I'll bet there was enough in it to make a poor man rich."

"Perhaps so," said Smith, thoughtfully.

"How old is your son?" he inquired, after a pause.

"Fifteen or sixteen, I've forgotten which. You see he isn't my own son; I married his mother, who was a widder with two children; that's the way of it."

"I suppose he doesn't live with you."

"No; he's an undootiful boy. He haint no gratitude for all I've done for him. He wouldn't care if I starved in the street."

"That shows a bad disposition," said Smith, who seemed disposed to protract the conversation for some purposes of his own.

"Yes," said Martin, wiping his eyes pathetically with a red handkerchief; "he's an ungrateful young scamp. He's set my little daughter Rose ag'inst me,—she that set everything by me till he made her believe all sorts of lies about me."

"Why don't you come up with him?"

"I don't know how."

"I suppose you would have no objections if I should tell you."

"No," said Martin, hesitating; "that is, if it aint dangerous. If I should give him a lickin' in the street, he'd call the police, and swear I wasn't his father."

"That isn't what I mean. I'll think it over, and tell you by and by. Now we'll talk about business."

It was not until the next day that Smith unfolded to Martin his plan of "coming up with" Rufus. It was of so bold a character that Martin was startled, and at first refused to have any part in it, not from any conscientious scruples,—for Martin's conscience was both tough and elastic,—but solely because he was a coward, and had a wholesome dread of the law. But Smith set before him the advantages which would accrue to him personally, in so attractive a manner, that at length he consented, and the two began at once to concoct arrangements for successfully carrying out the little plan agreed upon.

Not to keep the reader in suspense, it was no less than forcibly depriving Rufus of the tin box, some morning on his way home from the bank. This might bring Rufus into trouble, while Martin and Smith were to share the contents, which, judging from the wealth of Mr. Turner, were likely to be of considerable value.

"There may be enough to make your fortune," suggested Smith.

"If I don't get nabbed."

"Oh, there'll be no danger, if you will manage things as I direct you."

"I'll have all the danger, and you'll share the profits," grumbled Martin.

"Isn't the idea mine?" retorted Smith. "Is it the soldiers who get all the credit for a victory, or doesn't the general who plans the campaign receive his share? Besides, I may have to manage converting the securities into cash. There isn't one chance in a hundred of your getting into trouble if you do as I tell you; but if you do, remember your oath."

With this Martin was forced to be contented. He was only a common rascal, while Smith was one of a higher order, and used him as a tool. In the present instance, despite his assurances, Smith acknowledged to himself that the plan he had proposed was really attended with considerable danger, but this he ingloriously managed that Martin should incur, while he lay back, and was ready to profit by it if it should prove successful.

Meanwhile Rufus was at work as usual, quite unconscious of the danger which menaced him. His encounter with Martin gave him a little uneasiness, for he feared that the latter might renew his attempts to gain possession of Rose. Farther than this he had no fears. He wondered at the sudden improvement in Martin's fortunes, and could not conjecture what business he could have engaged in which would give him a hundred dollars a month. He might have doubted his assertion, but that his unusually respectable appearance, and the roll of bills which he had displayed, seemed to corroborate his statement. He was glad that his step-father was doing well, having no spite against him, provided he would not molest him and Rose.

He decided not to mention to Rose or Miss Manning that he had met Martin, as it might occasion them anxiety. He contented himself by warning them to be careful, as Martin was no doubt still in the city, and very likely prowling round in the hopes of finding out where they lived.

It was towards the close of business hours that Mr. Marston, the head clerk, handed Rufus a tin box, saying, "Rufus, you may carry this round to the Bank of the Commonwealth."

"Yes, sir," said Rufus.

It was one of his daily duties, and he took the box as a matter of course, and started on his errand. When he first entered the office, the feeling that property of value was committed to his charge gave him a feeling of anxious responsibility; but now he had become used to it, and ceased to think of danger. Probably he would have felt less security, had he seen Mr. Martin prowling about on the opposite side of the street, his eyes attentively fixed on the entrance to Mr. Turner's office. When Martin saw Rufus depart on his errand, he threw away the cigar he had in his mouth, and crossed the street. He followed Rufus closely, unobserved by our hero, to whom it did not occur to look back.

"It's a risky business," thought Martin, rather nervously. "I wish I hadn't undertaken it. Ten to one I'll get nabbed."

He was more than half inclined to give up his project; but if he should do so he knew he would get into disgrace with his employers. Besides, the inducements held out to him were not small. He looked covetously at the tin box under the arm of Rufus, and speculated as to the value of the contents. Half of it would perhaps make him a rich man. The stake was worth playing for, and he plucked up courage and determined to proceed.

Circumstances favored his design.

Before going to the bank, Rufus was obliged to carry a message to an office on the second floor of a building on Wall Street.

"This is my opportunity," thought Martin.

He quickened his steps, and as Rufus placed his foot on the lower step of the staircase, he was close upon him. Hearing the step behind him, our hero turned, only in time to receive a violent blow in the face, which caused him to fall forward. He dropped the box as he fell, which was instantly snatched by Mr. Martin, who lost no time in making his escape.

The blow was so violent that Rufus was for the moment stunned. It was only for a moment, however. He quickly recovered himself, and at once realized his position. He knew, also, that it was Martin who had snatched the box, for he had recognized him during the instant of time that preceded the blow.

He sprang to his feet, and dashed into the street, looking eagerly on either side for the thief. But Martin, apprehending immediate pursuit, had slipped into a neighboring door-way, and, making his way upstairs, remained in concealment for ten minutes. Not suspecting this, Rufus hastened to Nassau Street, and ran toward the bank, looking about him eagerly for Martin. The latter, in the mean while, slipped out of the door-way, and hurried by a circuitous course to Fulton Ferry, where Smith had arranged to meet him and relieve him of the tin box.

"Have you got it?" asked Smith, who had been waiting anxiously for over an hour.

"Here it is," said Martin, "and I'm glad to be rid of it. I wouldn't do it again for a thousand dollars."

"I hope you'll get more than that out of it," said Smith, cheerfully. "You've done well. Did you have much trouble?"

"Not much; but I had to work quick. I followed him into a door-way, and then grabbed it. When'll you divide?"

"Come round to the house this evening, and we'll attend to it."

"Honor bright?"

"Of course."

Meanwhile Rufus, in a painful state of excitement, ran this way and that, in the faint hope of setting eyes upon the thief. He knew very well that however innocent he had been in the matter, and however impossible it was for him to foresee and prevent the attack, the loss would subject him to suspicion, and it might be supposed that he had connived at the theft. His good character was at stake, and all his bright prospects were imperilled.

Meeting a policeman, he hurriedly imparted to him the particulars of the theft, and described Martin.

"A tall man with a blue coat and slouched hat," repeated the officer. "I think I saw him turn into Wall Street half an hour ago. Was his nose red?"

"Yes," said Rufus.

"He hasn't come back this way, or I should have seen him. He must have gone the other way, or else dodged into some side street or door-way. I'll go back with you."

The two went back together, but it was too late. Martin was by this time at some distance, hurrying towards Fulton Ferry.

Rufus felt that the matter was too serious for him to manage alone, and with reluctant step went back to the office to communicate his loss. A formidable task was before him, and he tried to prepare himself for it. It would naturally be inferred that he had been careless, if not dishonest, and he knew that his formerly having been a street boy would weigh against him. But, whatever might be the consequences, he knew that it was his duty to report the loss instantly.



CHAPTER XVI.

MR. VANDERPOOL.

Rufus entered the office as Mr. Turner was about to leave it.

"You were rather long," he said. "Were you detained?"

"I wish that was all, Mr. Turner," said Rufus, his face a little pale.

"What has happened?" asked the banker, quickly.

"The box was stolen from me as I was going upstairs to the office of Foster & Nevins."

"How did it happen? Tell me quickly."

"I had only gone up two or three steps when I heard a step behind me. Turning to see who it was, I was struck violently in the face, and fell forward. When I recovered, the man had disappeared, and the box was gone."

"Can I depend upon the absolute truth of this statement, Rufus?" asked Mr. Turner, looking in the boy's face searchingly.

"You can, sir," said Rufus, proudly.

"Can you give any idea of the appearance of the man who attacked you?"

"Yes, sir, I saw him for an instant before the blow was given, and recognized him."

"You recognized him!" repeated the banker, in surprise. "Who is he?"

Our hero's face flushed with mortification as he answered, "His name is Martin. He is my step-father. He has only just returned from Blackwell's Island, where he served a term of three months for trying to pick a man's pocket."

"Have you met him often since he was released?" asked Mr. Turner.

"He attempted to follow me home one evening from the Academy of Music, but I dodged him. I didn't want him to know where I boarded, for fear he would carry off my little sister, as he did once before."

"Did he know you were in my employ?"

"Yes, sir; I met him day before yesterday as I was coming home from the post-office, and he followed me to the office. He showed me a roll of bills, and said he was getting a hundred dollars a month."

"Now tell me what you did when you discovered that you had been robbed."

"I searched about for Martin with a policeman, but couldn't find him anywhere. Then I thought I had better come right back to the office, and tell you about it. I hope you don't think I was very much to blame, Mr. Turner."

"Not if your version of the affair is correct, as I think it is. I don't very well see how you could have foreseen or avoided the attack. But there is one thing which in the minds of some might operate to your prejudice."

"What is that, sir?" asked Rufus, anxiously.

"Your relationship to the thief."

"But he is my greatest enemy."

"It might be said that you were in league with him, and arranged to let him have the box after only making a show of resistance."

"I hope you don't think that, sir?" said our hero, anxiously.

"No, I do not."

"Thank you for saying that, sir. Now, may I ask you one favor?"

"Name it."

"I want to get back that box. Will you give me a week to do it in?"

"What is your plan?"

"I would like to take a week out of the office. During that time, I will try to get on the track of Martin. If I find him, I will do my best to get back the box."

Mr. Turner deliberated a moment.

"It may involve you in danger," he said, at length.

"I don't care for the danger," said Rufus, impetuously. "I know that I am partly responsible for the loss of the box, and I want to recover it. Then no one can blame me, or pretend that I had anything to do with stealing it. I should feel a great deal better if you would let me try, sir."

"Do you think there is any chance of your tracing this man, Martin? He may leave the city."

"I don't think he will, sir."

"I am inclined to grant your request, Rufus," said the banker, after a pause. "At the same time, I shall wish you to call with me at the office of police, and give all the information you are possessed of, that they also may be on the lookout for the thief. We had best go at once."

Mr. Turner and Rufus at once repaired to the police office, and lodged such information as they possessed concerning the theft.

"What were the contents of the box?" inquired the officer to whom the communication was made.

"Chiefly railroad and bank stocks."

"Was there any money?"

"Four hundred dollars only."

"Were any of the securities negotiable?"

"There were two government bonds of five hundred dollars each. They were registered, however, in the name of the owner, James Vanderpool, one of our customers. Indeed, the box was his, and was temporarily in our care."

"Then there would be a difficulty about disposing of the bonds."

"Yes."

"We may be able to get at the thief through them. Very probably he may be tempted to offer them for sale at some broker's office."

"It is quite possible."

"We will do our best to ferret out the thief. The chances are good."

"The thief will not be likely to profit much by his theft," said Mr. Turner, when they were again in the street. "The four hundred dollars, to be sure, he can use; but the railway and bank stocks will be valueless to him, and the bonds may bring him into trouble. Still, the loss of the securities is an inconvenience; I shall be glad to recover them. By the way, Mr. Vanderpool ought at once to be apprised of his loss. You may go up there at once. Here is his address."

Mr. Turner wrote upon a card, the name

JAMES VANDERPOOL, No. — West Twenty-Seventh Street

and handed it to Rufus.

"After seeing Mr. Vanderpool, you will come to my house this evening, and report what he says. Assure him that we will do our best to recover the box. I shall expect you, during the week which I allow you, to report yourself daily at the office, to inform me of any clue which you may have obtained."

"You may depend upon me, sir," said our hero.

Rufus at once repaired to the address furnished him by Mr. Turner.

Another difficult and disagreeable task lay before him. It is not a very pleasant commission to inform a man of the loss of property, particularly when, as in the present case, the informant feels that the fault of the loss may be laid to his charge. But Rufus accepted the situation manfully, feeling that, however disagreeable, it devolved upon him justly.

He took the University Place cars, and got out at Twenty-Seventh Street. He soon found Mr. Vanderpool's address, and, ringing the bell, was speedily admitted.

"Yes, Mr. Vanderpool is at home," said the servant. "Will you go up to his study?"

Rufus followed the servant up the front staircase, and was ushered into a front room on the second floor. There was a library table in the centre of the apartment, at which was seated a gentleman of about sixty, with iron-gray hair, and features that bore the marks of sickness and invalidism.

Mr. Vanderpool had inherited a large estate, which, by careful management, had increased considerably. He had never been in active business, but, having some literary and scientific tastes, had been content to live on his income, and cultivate the pursuits to which he was most inclined.

"Mr. Vanderpool?" said Rufus, in a tone of inquiry.

"Yes," said that gentleman, looking over his glasses, "that is my name. Do you want to speak to me?"

"I come from Mr. Turner, the banker," said Rufus.

"Ah, yes; Mr. Turner is my man of business. Well, what message do you bring to me from him?"

"I bring bad news, Mr. Vanderpool," said our hero.

"Eh, what?" ejaculated Mr. Vanderpool, nervously.

"A tin box belonging to you was stolen this morning."

"Bless my soul! How did that happen?" exclaimed the rich man, in dismay.

Rufus gave the account, already familiar to the reader, of the attack which had been made upon him.

"Why," said Mr. Vanderpool, "there were fifty thousand dollars' worth of property in that box. That would be a heavy loss."

"There is no danger of losing all that," said Rufus. "The money I suppose will be lost, and perhaps the government bonds may be disposed of; but that will only amount to about fifteen hundred dollars. The thief can't do anything with the stocks and shares."

"Are you sure of that?" asked Mr. Vanderpool, relieved.

"Yes, sir, Mr. Turner told me so. We have given information to the police. Mr. Turner has given me a week to find the thief."

"You are only a boy," said Mr. Vanderpool, curiously. "Do you think you can do any good?"

"Yes, sir; I think so," said Rufus, modestly. "The box was taken from me, and I feel bound to get it back if I can. If I don't succeed, the certificates of stock can be replaced."

"Well, well, it isn't so bad as it might be," said Mr. Vanderpool. "But are you not afraid of hunting up the thief?" he asked, looking at Rufus, attentively.

"No, sir," said Rufus. "I'd just like to get hold of him, that's all."

"You would? Well now, I would rather be excused. I don't think I have much physical courage. How old are you?"

"Sixteen."

"Well, I hope you'll succeed. I would rather not lose fifteen hundred dollars in that way, though it might be a great deal worse."

"I hope you don't blame me very much for having the box stolen from me."

"No, no, you couldn't help it. So the man knocked you down, did he?"

"Yes, sir."

"That must have been unpleasant. Did he hurt you much?"

"Yes, sir, just at first; but I don't feel it now."

"By the way, my young friend," said Mr. Vanderpool, reaching forward to some loose sheets of manuscript upon the desk before him, "did you ever consider the question whether the planets were inhabited?"

"No, sir," said Rufus, staring a little.

"I have given considerable time to the consideration of that question," said Mr. Vanderpool. "If you have time, I will read you a few pages from a work I am writing on the subject."

"I should be happy to hear them, sir," said Rufus, mentally deciding that Mr. Vanderpool was rather a curious person.

The old gentleman cleared his throat, and read a few pages, which it will not be desirable to quote here. Though rather fanciful, they were not wholly without interest, and Rufus listened attentively, though he considered it a little singular that Mr. Vanderpool should have selected him for an auditor. He had the politeness to thank the old gentleman at the close of the reading.

"I am glad you were interested," said Mr. Vanderpool, gratified. "You are a very intelligent boy. I shall be glad to have you call again."

"Thank you, sir; I will call and let you know what progress we make in finding the tin box."

"Oh, yes. I had forgotten; I have no doubt you will do your best. When you call again, I will read you a few more extracts. It seems to me a very important and interesting subject."

"Thank you, sir; I shall be very happy to call."

"He don't seem to think much of his loss," said our hero, considerably relieved. "I was afraid he would find fault with me. Now, Mr. Martin, I must do my best to find you."



CHAPTER XVII.

DIVIDING THE SPOILS.

Martin did not fail to go to the house occupied by his employers, in the evening. He was anxious to learn the amount of the booty which he had taken. He decided that it must be ten thousand dollars at least. Half of this would be five thousand, and this, according to the agreement between them, was to come to him. It was quite a fortune, and the thought of it dazzled Martin's imagination. He would be able to retire from business, and resolved to do so, for he did not like the risk which he incurred by following his present employment.

Martin had all his life wished to live like a gentleman,—that is, to live comfortably without work; and now his wish seemed likely to be gratified. In the eyes of some, five thousand dollars would seem rather a small capital to warrant such a life; but it seemed a great deal to a shiftless character like him. Besides, the box might contain more than ten thousand dollars, and in that case, of course, his own share would be greater.

So, on the whole, it was with very pleasant anticipations that Martin ascended the front steps of the counterfeiter's den, and rang the bell.

Meanwhile Smith had opened the box, and his disappointment had been great when he found the nature of its contents. Actually but four hundred dollars were immediately available, and, as the banker no doubt had recorded the number of the government bonds, there would be risk in selling them. Besides, even if sold, they would produce, at the market price, barely eleven hundred dollars. As to the bank and railway shares, they could not be negotiated, and no doubt duplicates would be applied for. So, after all, the harvest was likely to prove small, especially as Smith had passed his word to divide with Martin.

After a while it occurred to him that, as Martin did not know the contents of the box, he could easily be deceived into supposing them less than they were. He must tell a falsehood; but then Smith's conscience was tough, and he had told a great many in the course of his life.

When Martin was ushered into the room, he found his confederate looking rather sober.

"Have you opened the box?" inquired Martin, eagerly.

"Yes," said Smith, rather contemptuously. "A great haul you made, I must say."

"Wasn't there anything in it?" asked Martin, in dismay.

"Yes, there were plenty of bank and railroad shares."

"Can't we sell them?" queried Martin, whose knowledge of business was limited.

"You must be a fool! We can't sell them without the owner's indorsement. Perhaps you'll call and ask him for it."

"Can't we do anything with them, then?" asked Martin, anxiously.

"Nothing at all."

"Wasn't there nothing else in the box?"

"Yes, there was a government bond for five hundred dollars."

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