Chapter 33




HERBERT AS A NEWSBOY

The next morning, by advice of his roommate, Herbert got up early, and made his way downtown and obtained a supply of morning papers.

The first day was not a success, chiefly on account of his inexperience. He was "stuck" on nearly half his papers, and the profits were less than nothing. But Herbert was quick to learn. The second day, though he still had some papers left, he cleared twenty- five cents. The third day he netted seventy-five. He felt now that he had passed the period of experiment, and that he would at any rate, be able to pay his board. Of course, he hoped for something better, and indeed felt confident of it.

Three weeks later, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, as he stood in front of the Astor House, with his last paper in his hand, he heard his name called:

"Hello, Carter; are you here?"

He did not need to turn around to recognize James Leech.

"Good-morning, James," he said, politely.

"So you're a newsboy," said James.

"Yes; any way to make a living."

"Do you make much?" inquired his old foe, curiously.

"I haven't made enough to retire upon yet; but I can manage to pay my board."

"How much do you pay for your board?"

Herbert hesitated about gratifying his curiosity, but finally did so.

"Four dollars," repeated James, scornfully. "It can't be much of a boarding house."

"An Italian count boards there," said Herbert, knowing James' respect for rank.

"You don't say so!" returned James, rather impressed. "Did he ever speak to you?"

"He spoke to me this morning."

"What did he say?"

"'Will you pass ze butter?'"

"Do you save up any money?" inquired James.

Herbert penetrated his motive in asking the question, and did not mean to give too definite information. But James was bent on learning all he could.

"How much do you make a day?" he asked.

"Sometimes more, sometimes less, just as it happens."

"I can't tell anything from that."

"Why do you want to know?" asked Herbert, pointedly.

"Curiosity, I suppose."

"So I thought. If it was from interest in me, I would tell you; but I don't care to gratify your curiosity."

"You don't expect me to feel any interest in a common newsboy, do you?"

"No; I don't. I know you too well for that."

"I don't see what object you have in refusing to answer my questions."

"If you are thinking of going into the business, yourself, I'll tell you."

"I a newsboy? I sell papers in the street? You must be crazy!" returned James, haughtily.

"I suppose you feel above it," said Herbert, smiling.

"To be sure I do. Haven't I a right to?"

"Oh, you must settle that question for yourself. Papers, sir?"

The gentleman addressed purchased the last remaining paper, and
Herbert was free till afternoon.

"How do you like the city?" asked James.

"Very much. I should like to have my mother here; then I would be contented."

"We may come to live here," said James. "Of course, we shall live in a brownstone front, uptown."

"I live in a brick house," said Herbert, smiling.

"Fashionable people live in brownstone fronts."

"I may be rich some time."

"Then you'll have to go into some other business. But there isn't much hope for you. You'll be a poor man."

"You seem very confident of it."

"You've got no chance, you know. But I must be going."

"Who do you think I met this morning, father?" asked James, later in the day.

"I don't know."

"The Carter boy."

"Where did you meet him?"

"He was selling papers in front of the Astor House."

"He won't get rich very fast in that business. What did he have to say for himself?"

"He wouldn't tell me how much money he was making. He pays four dollars a week for board." "He probably finds it hard to pay that. It isn't likely he lays up anything. He would do better to stay in Wrayburn."

"Then you think he can't send any money to his mother?" "No; he will find it hard to pay his own expenses."

"Then she won't be able to pay the interest on the mortgage?"

"I don't see how she can."

"And you will seize the house?"

"I fully intend to do so."

"Good! That'll bring down Carter's pride. He's as cheeky as ever."

"He hasn't much to be proud of."

"That don't seem to make any difference with him. He talks as if he were my equal."

"That don't make him so."

"When are you going to move to the city, father?"

"I don't know," said the squire, shortly.

"I've got tired of Wrayburn."

"You'll have to stay there till my business will allow me to move."

The fact was, Squire Leech had just had an unsatisfactory interview with Mr. Andrew Temple. Under the advice of that gentleman he had invested a very considerable sum of money in some mining shares, in the assurance that he would be able in a very short time to sell at a large profit. But from the time he bought, they began to drop. He asked an explanation of Mr. Temple.

"My dear sir," said the financier, "there's no being sure of the market. So many trivial circumstances affect it, that the wisest of us cannot absolutely predict anything. We can only calculate probabilities."

"You told me there was no doubt about the stock rising," grumbled the squire.

"Nor is there any, if you only have patience to wait Rome was not built in a day, you know."

"It seems to me there is a good deal of uncertainty and risk in these stock operations," objected the squire, very sensibly.

"Not under discreet guidance; if you only have pluck and patience, you are morally sure of a fortune in the end. Fortunes are made every day. Why, there's old Jenkins, a grocer on Sixth Avenue—you've heard of his luck, haven't you?"

"No."

"Made fifty thousand dollars in six months from an original investment of ten thousand. At first, things went against him, but he was bound to see the thing through, and he did, and he's forty thousand better off for it."

"What did he invest in? "asked the squire, eagerly.

Mr. Temple told him, but I regret to say that the whole thing was a fiction, intended to encourage his dupe. He succeeded in influencing the squire to put another large sum into his hands, and sent him away hopeful. To raise this sum Squire Leech was obliged to sell or mortgage most of his real estate to parties whom Mr. Temple found for him. The prices realized were less than his valuation of the property; but Temple told him this was not so important, as he was sure to double his money in twelve months by investments in Wall Street.

So Squire Leech gave himself up to dreams of sudden wealth. He subscribed for two financial papers, and spent many hours in studying their columns. He was soon able to talk glibly of stocks and bonds, and the Wrayburn people thought he was on the high road to becoming a millionaire.

"Depend upon it, the squire's a long-headed man," said old Tom Cooper, in the village tavern. "It wouldn't surprise me a mite if he died worth a million."



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