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"So you have become quite a hero, Mark," said his mother smiling, as Mark entered the house at half-past six.
"Have you heard of it then, mother?" asked the messenger boy.
"Yes, a little bird came and told me."
"I suppose you saw the Evening Globe."
"Yes, I sent Edith out to buy a copy."
"But how did you know it contained anything about me?"
"Because a reporter came to me for your picture."
"That explains it. I couldn't understand how they got that."
"It makes me shudder, Mark, when I think of the risk you ran. How did you dare to go near that terrible man?"
"I knew something must be done or we should all lose our lives. No one seemed to think what to do except myself."
"You ought to have been handsomely paid. The least Mr. Rockwell could do was to give you five dollars."
"He gave me ten, and told me to call at the office next week."
"Then," said his mother relieved, "we shall be able to pay the rent."
"That was provided for already. The young lady I escorted to the theater last evening gave me three dollars over the regular charges for my services."
"Why didn't you tell me before, Mark?"
"I ought to have done so, but I wanted it to be an agreeable surprise. So you see I have thirteen dollars on hand."
"It is a blessed relief. Oh, I mustn't forget to tell you that Mrs. Mack came in this morning to offer to lend me three dollars."
"What! has the old woman become kind-hearted all at once?"
"As to that, I think there is very little kindness in offering three dollars at thirty-three per cent. interest for three days. She was willing to lend three dollars, but demanded four dollars in return."
"It is lucky we shall not have to pay such enormous interest. Now, mother, what have you got for supper?"
"Some tea and toast, Mark."
"We must have something better. I will go out and buy a sirloin steak, and some potatoes. We will have a good supper for once."
At the entrance to the street Mark found Tom Trotter.
Tom's honest face lighted up with pleasure.
"I see you've got into de papers, Mark," he said.
"I wouldn't believe it when Jim Sheehan told me, but I went and bought de Evening Globe, and there you was!"
"I hope you'll get into the papers some time, Tom."
"There ain't no chance for me, 'cept I rob a bank. Where you goin', Mark?"
"To buy some steak for supper. Have you eaten supper yet?"
"Then come along with me, and I'll invite you to join us."
"I don't look fit, Mark."
"Never mind about your clothes, Tom. We don't generally put on dress suits. A little soap and water will make you all right."
"What'll your mudder say?"
"That any friend of mine is welcome."
So Tom allowed himself to be persuaded, and had no reason to complain of his reception. The steak emitted appetizing odors as it was being broiled, and when at length supper was ready no one enjoyed it more than Tom.
"How do you think my mother can cook, Tom?" asked Mark.
"She beats Beefsteak John all hollow. I just wish she'd open a eaten' house."
"I'll think about it, Tom," said Mrs. Mason smiling. "Would you be one of my regular customers?"
"I would if I had money enough."
It is hard to say which enjoyed the supper most. The day before Mrs. Mason had been anxious and apprehensive, but to-day, with a surplus fund of thirteen dollars, she felt in high spirits.
This may seem a small sum to many of our readers, but to the frugal little household it meant nearly two weeks' comfort.
The table was cleared, and Mark and Tom sat down to a game of checkers. They had just finished the first game when steps were heard on the stairs and directly there was a knock at the door.
"Go to the door, Mark," said his mother.
Mark opened the door and found himself in the presence of a stout man, rather showily dressed, and wearing a white hat.
"Is this Mark Mason?" asked the visitor.
The visitor took out a copy of the Evening Globe, and compared Mark with the picture.
"Yes, I see you are," he proceeded. "You are the telegraph boy that disarmed the dynamite crank in Mr. Rockwell's office."
"Allow me to say, young man, I wouldn't have been in your shoes at that moment for ten thousand dollars."
"I wouldn't want to go through it again myself," smiled Mark.
All the while he was wondering why the stout man should have taken the trouble to come and see him.
"Perhaps you'll know me when I tell you that I'm Bunsby," said the stout visitor drawing himself up and inflating his chest with an air of importance.
"Of Bunsby's Dime Museum?" asked Mark.
"Exactly! You've hit it the first time. Most people have heard of me," he added complacently.
"Oh yes, sir, I've heard of you often. So have you, Tom?"
"Yes," answered Tom, fixing his eyes on Mr. Bunsby with awe-struck deference, "I've been to de museum often."
"Mr. Bunsby," said Mark gravely, "this is my particular friend, Tom Trotter."
"Glad to make your acquaintance, Mr. Trotter," said Mr. Bunsby, offering his hand.
Tom took it shyly, and felt that it was indeed a proud moment for him. To be called Mr. Trotter by the great Bunsby, and to have his hand shaken into the bargain, put him on a pinnacle of greatness which he had never hoped to reach.
"Won't you walk in, Mr. Bunsby? This is my mother, Mrs. Mason, and this is my sister Edith."
"Glad to meet you, ladies both! I congratulate you, Mrs. Mason, on having so distinguished a son."
"He is a good boy, Mr. Bunsby, whether he is distinguished or not."
"I have no doubt of it. In fact I am sure of it. You already know that I keep a dime museum, where, if I do say it myself, may be found an unrivaled collection of curiosities gathered from the four quarters of the globe, and where may be witnessed the most refined and recherché entertainments, which delight daily the élite of New York and the surrounding cities."
"Yes, sir," assented Mrs. Mason, rather puzzled to guess what all this had to do with her.
"I have come here to offer your son an engagement of four weeks at twenty-five dollars a week, and the privilege of selling his photographs, with all the profits it may bring."
"But what am I to do?" asked Mark.
"Merely to sit on the platform with the other curiosities."
"But I am not a curiosity."
"I beg your pardon, my dear boy, but everybody will want to see the heroic boy who foiled a dynamite fiend and saved the life of a banker."
Somehow this proposal was very repugnant to Mark.
"Thank you, Mr. Bunsby," he said, "but I should not like to earn money in that way."
"I might say thirty dollars a week," continued Mr. Bunsby. "Come, let us strike up a bargain."
"It isn't the money. Twenty-five dollars a week is more than I could earn in any other way, but I shouldn't like to have people staring at me."
"My dear boy, you are not practical."
"I quite agree with Mark," said Mrs. Mason. "I would not wish him to become a public spectacle."
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