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On the strength of his good luck, Sam provided himself with a good breakfast, which cost him forty cents. He felt pretty sure of earning something more during the day to add to the remaining thirty-five. But Fortune is capricious, and our hero found all his offers of service firmly refused. He tried again to excite compassion by his fictitious story of a starving family at home; but his appeals were made to the flinty-hearted or the incredulous. So, about two o'clock, he went to dinner, and spent the remainder of his money.
Again he spent the night with Tim in the wagon, and again in the morning he set out to earn his breakfast. But luck was against him. People insisted on carrying their own carpet-bags, to the great detriment of the baggage-smashing business. Tim was no luckier than Sam. About ten o'clock they were walking despondently through a side street, discussing ways and means.
"I'm awful hungry, Tim," said Sam, mournfully.
"So am I, you bet!"
"I wouldn't mind if I had a couple of apples," said Sam, fixing his eyes upon an old woman's apple-stand. "Wouldn't she trust?"
"Not much," said Tim. "You try her, if you want to."
"I will," said Sam, desperately.
The two boys approached the apple-stand.
"I say," said Sam to the wrinkled old woman who presided over it, "how do you sell your apples?"
"A penny a piece," she answered, in a cracked voice. "Is that cheap enough for ye?"
"I'll take five," said Sam.
The old woman began eagerly to pick out the required number, but stopped short when he finished the sentence,—"if you'll trust me till afternoon."
"Is it trust ye?" she ejaculated suspiciously. "No farther than I can see yer. I'm up to your tricks, you young spalpeen, thryin' to chate a poor widder out of her money."
"I'll pay you sure," said Sam, "but I haven't earned anything yet to-day."
"Then it's I that can't be supportin' a big, strong boy like you. Go away and come back, whin you've got money."
Here Tim broke in.
"My friend always pays his bills," he said. "You needn't be afraid to trust him."
"And who are you?" asked the old woman. "I don't know you, and I can't take your word. You're tryin' the two of you to swindle a poor widder."
"My father's an alderman," said Tim, giving the wink to Sam.
"Is he now? Thin, let him lind your friend money, and don't ask a poor woman to trust."
"Well, I would, but he's gone to Washington on business."
"Thin, go after him, and lave me alone. I don't want no spalpeens like you round my apple-stand."
"Look here, old woman, I'll have you arrested for callin' me names.
Come away, Sam; her apples are rotten anyhow."
The old woman began to berate them soundly, indignant at this attack upon her wares; and in the midst of it the two boys walked off.
"We didn't make much," said Sam. "I'm awful hungry."
"Take that, then," said Tim, pulling an apple out of his pocket,
Sam opened his eyes.
"How did you get it?" he asked in astonishment.
Tim put his tongue in his cheek.
"I took it when you were talkin' to the ould woman," he answered; "and here's another."
So saying he produced a companion apple, and made a vigorous onslaught upon it, Sam following suit.
"I don't see how you could do it," said Sam, admiringly, "and she looking on all the time."
"It's easy enough when you know how," said Tim, complacently.
"She'd catch me, sure."
"Likely she would; you aint used to it."
Sam ought to have felt uneasy at appropriating the result of a theft; but his conscience was an easy one, and he felt hungry. So he made short work of the apple, and wished for more.
"I wish you'd taken two apiece," he said.
"I couldn't," said Tim. "She'd have seen 'em stickin' out of my pocket, and called a copp."
"One's better than none; I feel a little better," said Sam, philosophically. "I 'spose it's stealing, though."
"Oh, what's the odds? She'll never miss 'em. Come along."
In the course of the forenoon Sam managed to earn ten cents, and was forced to content himself with a very economical dinner. There was a place on Ann street, where, for this small sum, a plate of meat and a potato were furnished, but enough only to whet the appetite of a hearty boy like Sam. A suspicion did enter his mind as he rose from the table penniless once more, and his appetite still unsatisfied, that he had bought his liberty dearly, if his affairs did not improve. In the country he had enough to eat, a good bed to sleep in, and no care or anxiety, while he was not overworked. Here there was constant anxiety, and he never knew, when he rose in the morning, where his dinner was to come from, or whether he would be able to buy one. Still there was a fascination in the free, lawless life, and if he could only be sure of making even fifty cents a day he would probably have preferred it.
It is not necessary to describe Sam's life in detail for the next month. He and Tim were constant companions; and under Tim's instruction he was rapidly acquiring the peculiar education of a street vagabond. Of his employments in that brief period it would be difficult to give a complete list. At one time he blacked boots for another boy, to whom he paid half his receipts, in return for the use of the box and blacking. But Sam was detected by his employer in rendering a false account, and was thrown upon his own resources again. It would have been much more to his interest to have a blacking-brush and box of his own; but whenever Sam had capital enough he preferred to spend it for a good dinner, so there did not seem much chance of his getting ahead. He had, before this time, been introduced to the Newsboys' Lodging House, where he was interrogated about his past life by the superintendent. Sam was obliged to have recourse to his imagination in reply, feeling that if he spoke the truth he would be liable to be returned to his country home.
"Are your parents living?" inquired Mr. O'Connor.
"No," said Sam, telling the truth this time.
"When did they die?"
"Two years ago."
"Did they die in New York?"
"Yes, sir. They died of small-pox," volunteered Sam.
"And have you been supporting yourself since then?"
"How does it happen that you have not been round here before?"
"I was living with my uncle," answered Sam, hesitating.
"Why have you left him?"
"He didn't treat me well."
"Perhaps you didn't behave well."
"Oh, yes, I did."
"What is your uncle's name?"
"Where does he live,—in what street?"
"He's moved away from the city now," said Sam, feeling that he must put a stop to these inconvenient inquiries.
So Sam was admitted to the privileges of the lodging-house. Now, he found it much easier to get along. For eighteen cents a day he was provided with lodging, breakfast and supper, and it was not often that he could not obtain as much as that. When he could earn enough more to buy a "square meal" in the middle of the day, and a fifteen-cent ticket to the pit of the Old Bowery theatre in the evening, he felt happy. He was fairly adrift in the streets of the great city, and his future prospects did not look very brilliant. It is hardly necessary to say that in a moral point of view he had deteriorated rather than improved. In fact, he was fast developing into a social outlaw, with no particular scruples against lying or stealing. One thing may be said in his favor, he never made use of his strength to oppress a younger boy. On the whole, he was good-natured, and not at all brutal. He had on one occasion interfered successfully to protect a young boy from one of greater strength who was beating him. I like to mention this, because I do not like to have it supposed that Sam was wholly bad.
We will now advance the story some months, and see what they have done for Sam.
To begin with, they have not improved his wardrobe. When he first came to the city he was neatly though coarsely dressed; now his clothes hang in rags about him, and, moreover, they are begrimed with mud and grease. His straw hat and he have some time since parted company, and he now wears a greasy article which he picked up at a second-hand store in Baxter street for twenty-five cents. If Sam were troubled with vanity, he might feel disturbed by his disreputable condition; but as he sees plenty of other boys of his own class no better dressed, he thinks very little about it. Such as they are, his clothes are getting too small for him, for Sam has grown a couple of inches since he came to the city.
Such was our hero's appearance when one day he leaned against a building on Broadway, and looked lazily at the vehicles passing, wishing vaguely that he had enough money to buy a square meal. A Broadway stage was passing at the time. A small man, whose wrinkled face indicated that he was over sixty, attempted to descend from the stage while in motion. In some way he lost his footing, and, falling, managed to sprain his ankle, his hat falling off and rolling along on the pavement.
Sam, who was always on the lookout for chances, here saw an opening. He dashed forward, lifted the old gentleman to his feet, and ran after his hat, and restored it.
"Are you hurt?" he asked.
"I think I have sprained my ankle. Help me upstairs to my office," said the old man.
He pointed to a staircase leading up from the sidewalk.
"All right," said Sam. "Lean on me."
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