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Chapter 18


The breakfast the next morning was very meager. It was no longer an object to gratify Frank's palate, now that he turned out to be a poor relation, and the family returned to their usual plain diet.

"So you are resolved to go to New York this morning," said Mr. Tarbox. "Of course it would gratify us to have you remain longer, but I appreciate your anxiety to go to work."

Frank was by no means deceived by this statement. He knew very well that Mr. Tarbox would be relieved by his departure, but of this knowledge he made no sign. He merely said that he thought it best to go.

He took leave of his hosts, and, purchasing a ticket at the railway station, found himself within an hour in New York. He had been there before, but it was not for a long time, and he had but a vague general idea of the city.

Frank made inquiries of a kindly man who owned a clean little store on one of the streets. The latter knew of places where Frank could board and lodge for five dollars a week or about that and directed Frank to them. They were all near University Place. He found the place without difficulty.

A slipshod servant answered the bell.

"Have you got any small rooms?" asked Frank.

"Yes," answered the girl. "Missus is out, but I'll show you a hall bedroom, if you like."

"I should like to see it."

Frank followed the girl upstairs.

He was not favorably impressed by the appearance of the interior. He did not so much mind its being shabby, but he was repelled by the evident lack of neatness.

The girl threw open the door of a small hall bedroom at the head of the stairs, but it looked so comfortless that he felt sure he should not like it. He thought it best, however, to inquire the price.

"Five dollars a week with board," answered the girl.

"I don't think it will suit me," said our hero.

"There's a larger room for seven dollars," said the servant.

"No. I think I will look elsewhere."

The next house was not much better, but the third was much neater and more attractive, and Frank agreed to take a room at five dollars per week.

It was a small hall bedroom, but it looked clean, and the lady who showed him about the house was very neat in her dress.

"When will you come?" asked the lady.

"Now," replied Frank, promptly.

"Would you mind paying the first week in advance?"

"Not at all. Here is the money."

And Frank drew a five-dollar bill from his portemonnaie.

"Thank you!" said the boarding-house keeper. "I have lost so much by boarders going away owing me money that I am obliged to ask gentlemen to pay in advance till I am well acquainted with them."

"That is quite right," said Frank. "What is your dinner hour?"

"Six o'clock. We have lunch at half-past twelve for the ladies, but if any gentleman happens to be at home at that time, he can go in."

Frank looked at his watch. It was only eleven o'clock and as so much of the day remained, he decided, as soon as he had unpacked his valise, to go downtown and look for a place without delay.

"I shall not be here at lunch to-day," he said. "You may expect me at dinner."

There was a small bureau in the room—a piece of furniture not often found in hall bedrooms.

Frank deposited the contents of the valise in the bureau drawers, and then went downstairs and out into the street.

Horatio Alger