Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
"How lucky I have been," thought Joe, in the best of spirits. "There wasn't one chance in ten of my succeeding, and yet I have succeeded. Everything has turned out right. If I hadn't met this man, I couldn't have got a ticket at half price."
Joe found that after paying his hotel expenses, he should have a dollar left over. This would be rather a small sum to start with in California, but Joe didn't trouble himself much about that.
In the course of the day Joe found himself in the upper part of the Bowery. It seemed to him a very lively street, and he was much interested in looking in at the shop windows as he passed.
He was standing before a window, when a stone from some quarter struck the pane and shivered it in pieces.
Joe was startled, and was gazing at the scene of havoc in bewilderment, when a stout German, the proprietor, rushed out and seized him by the collar.
"Aha! I have you, you young rascal!" he exclaimed furiously. "I'll make you pay for this!"
By this time Joe had recovered his senses.
"Let me alone!" he exclaimed.
"I let you know!" exclaimed the angry man. "You break my window! You pay me five dollar pretty quick, or I send you to prison!"
"I didn't break your window! It's a lie!"
"You tell me I lie?" shouted the angry German. "First you break my window, then you tell me I lie! You, one bad boy—you one loafer!"
"I don't know who broke your window," said Joe, "but I tell you I didn't. I was standing here, looking in, when, all at once, I heard a crash."
"You take me for one fool, perhaps," said his captor, puffing with excitement. "You want to get away, hey?"
"Yes, I do."
"And get no money for my window?"
By this time a crowd had collected around the chief actors in this scene. They were divided in opinion.
"Don't he look wicked, the young scamp?" said a thin-visaged female with a long neck.
"Yes," said her companion. "He's one of them street rowdies that go around doin' mischief. They come around and pull my bell, and run away, the villians!"
"What's the matter, my boy?" asked a tall man with sandy hair, addressing himself to Joe in a friendly tone.
"This man says I broke his window."
"How was it? Did you break it?"
"No, sir. I was standing looking in, when a stone came from somewhere and broke it."
"Look here, sir," said the sandy-haired man, addressing himself to the German, "what reason have you for charging this boy with breaking your window?"
"He stood shoost in front of it," said the German.
"If he had broken it, he would have run away. Didn't that occur to you?"
"Some one broke mine window," said the German.
"Of course; but a boy who threw a stone must do so from a distance, and he wouldn't be likely to run up at once to the broken window."
"Of course not. The man's a fool!" were the uncomplimentary remarks of the bystanders, who a minute before had looked upon Joe as undoubtedly guilty.
"You've got no case at all," said Joe's advocate. "Let go the boy's collar, or I shall advise him to charge you with assault and battery."
"Maybe you one friend of his?" said the German.
"I never saw the boy before in my life," said the other, "but I don't want him falsely accused."
"Somebody must pay for my window."
"That's fair; but it must be the boy or man that broke it, not my young friend here, who had no more to do with it than myself. I sympathize with you, and wish you could catch the scamp that did it."
At that moment a policeman came up.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"My window was broke—dat's what's de matter."
"Who broke it?" asked the policeman.
"I caught dat boy standing outside," pointing to Joe.
"Aha, you young rascal! I've caught you, have I? I've had my eye on you for weeks!"
And Joe, to his dismay, found himself collared anew.
"I've only been in the city two days," said Joe.
"Take him to jail!" exclaimed the German.
And the policeman was about to march off poor Joe, when a voice of authority stayed him.
"Officer, release that boy!" said the sandy-haired man sternly.
"I'll take you along, too, if you interfere."
"Release that boy!" repeated the other sternly; "and arrest the German for assault and battery. I charge him with assaulting this boy!"
"Who are you?" demanded the officer insolently.
"My name is ———, and I am one of the new police commissioners," said the sandy-haired man quietly.
Never was there a quicker change from insolence to fawning.
"Oh, I beg your pardon, sir," said the officer, instantly releasing Joe. "I didn't know you."
"Nor your duty, either, it appears," said the commissioner sternly. "Without one word of inquiry into the circumstances, you were about to arrest this boy. A pretty minister of justice you are!"
"Shall I take this man along, sir?" asked the policeman, quite subdued.
At this suggestion the bulky Teuton hurried into his shop, trembling with alarm. With great difficulty he concealed himself under the counter.
"You may let him go this time. He has some excuse for his conduct, having suffered loss by the breaking of his window. As for you, officer, unless you are more careful in future, you will not long remain a member of the force."
The crowd disappeared, only Joe and his advocate remaining behind.
"I am grateful to you, sir, for your kindness," said Joe. "But for you I should have been carried to the station-house."
"It is fortunate I came along just as I did. Are you a stranger in the city?"
"You must be careful not to run into danger. There are many perils in the city for the in experienced."
"Thank you, sir. I shall remember your advice."
The next day, about two hours before the time of sailing, Joe went down to the wharf.
As he was going on board a man stopped him.
"Have you got a ticket?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," said Joe, "a steerage ticket. There it is."
"Where did you get this?" asked the man.
Joe told him.
"How much did you pay for it?"
"Then you have lost your money, for it is a bogus ticket. You can't travel on it."
Joe stared at the other in blank dismay. The earth seemed to be sinking under him. He realized that he had been outrageously swindled, and that he was farther from going to California than ever.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.