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TOM ARRIVES IN CINCINNATI.
"You haven't told me your name yet," said Bessie, after a while.
"Gilbert Grey," said Tom.
The name sounded strange to himself, for he had always been called Tom; but his street-life was over. He had entered upon a new career, and it was fitting that he should resume the name to which he had a rightful claim.
"That's a good name," said Bessie, approvingly. "Would you like to know mine?"
"I know it already—it's Bessie Benton."
"Oh, you heard me use it. Do you like it?"
"That's another of your boy-words."
"Isn't it good?"
"I like it well enough. I'm not Miss Wiggins."
I am not going to inflict on the reader a full account of all that was said on the journey by Bessie and her young protector. They chatted upon a variety of topics, Tom taking care not to be too communicative touching his street experiences. He wanted to stand well with Bessie, and was afraid that she would not be quite so pleased and social with him if she should learn that he had been a knight of the blacking-brush.
It was early evening when the train reached Cincinnati.
"I think papa will be here to meet me," said Bessie, looking out of the car window, as they entered the depot. "Uncle telegraphed him from Buffalo that I would arrive by this train."
Our hero was sorry they were already at their journey's end. He had enjoyed Bessie's company, and he knew that he might never meet her again. Though he knew nothing of etiquette, he did what was proper on the occasion, and assisted Bessie to ascend the steps upon the platform.
Bessie looked around to find a familiar face.
"Oh, there's Cousin Maurice!" she said. "Here, Maurice, here I am."
A boy, somewhat taller than our hero, who no doubt considered himself a young man, came forward, and was about to kiss Bessie, but the latter drew back slightly and frustrated his design by giving him her hand instead.
Maurice colored a little, and looked vexed.
"Where is papa? Didn't he come?" she asked, quickly.
"He was busy, and sent me. Won't I do as well?"
"Of course I am glad to see you, but I hoped papa would be here."
"The carriage is outside; let us hurry," said Maurice, taking her arm.
"Wait a minute," said Bessie, releasing her arm. She walked up to Tom, and, taking his hand cordially, said: "Good-by, Gilbert. I'm ever so much obliged to you for taking care of me. We live at 116 B—— street. I hope you will call in a day or two. Papa will be glad to see you, and he will thank you, too."
Tom's face flushed with pleasure.
"Thank you, Miss Bessie," he said. "I'd like to do it all over again."
"You'll be sure to come?"
"Yes, I'll come."
Maurice listened to this conversation with impatient annoyance. He liked his pretty cousin enough to be jealous of any one to whom she seemed attentive, and he thought her altogether too cordial with this strange boy.
"Who's that fellow?" he asked, as they were passing out of the depot.
"I don't know whom you mean."
"The boy you spoke to."
"The young gentleman I spoke to," remarked Bessie, with emphasis, "was Gilbert Grey."
"And who is Gilbert Grey, and how did you become acquainted with him?"
"Uncle Henry put me in his charge," said Bessie. "I've traveled with him all the way from Buffalo."
"A great protector he is!" sneered Maurice. "He isn't old enough to take charge of a kitten."
"A kitten would be more trouble than I was," said Bessie. "She might scratch. I never do that, you know, Cousin Maurice."
"I should think Uncle Henry might have found some older person to put you in charge of."
"I am glad he didn't. Gilbert was real nice."
"You shouldn't call him by his first name; it isn't proper."
"Pray don't talk about what's proper. I heard enough of that from Miss Wiggins. Besides, he's only a boy, you know, though, to be sure, he looks almost as old as you."
"Don't be so provoking, Bessie. I am much larger than he."
"Are you? I didn't see it."
"I am sorry you invited him to the house, Bessie. He only traveled with you a few hours. There is no need of becoming intimate with him on that account."
"I want to become intimate with him," said Bessie, with provoking frankness. "He's very nice."
"He seemed to me rather a low, common fellow," said Maurice, irritated.
"You needn't like him, if you don't want to," said Bessie. "Let us talk about something else," and she began to make inquiries about home affairs.
We return to Tom, whom we left standing on the platform in the depot.
"Have a carriage, sir?" asked a hackman.
"Anywhere you like—Burnett House."
"If you know of any nice hotel where they'll board me for the pleasure of my company, you can take me right along."
"They don't do business that way, here."
"Never mind, then. I guess my private carriage is outside."
Tom, of course, knew nothing of Cincinnati; but, picking out a man with a carpet-bag, whose dress indicated limited means, he followed him.
"He won't stop at any of the tip-top hotels," thought our hero. "I can't afford to go first-class any more; my pocket-book ain't so full as it was."
He followed his unconscious guide nearly a mile. The latter finally stopped before a small, third-class hotel, which bore the name Ohio House. After a slight pause he entered, and Tom followed him. After the man had registered his name, Tom went up to the desk.
"What do you charge?" he asked.
"Two dollars a day."
"Is that the lowest price?"
"Where a party stays a week, it's ten dollars," was the reply.
"All right," said our hero.
"Will you register your name?"
Tom took the pen, and would have put down "Gilbert Grey," but, as we know, his education had been neglected, and he was not at all sure as to the proper way of spelling Gilbert. After a little reflection, he put down:
G. Grey, New York.
The clerk wrote the number of a room opposite, and asked our hero if he would go to his room before supper.
Tom decided that he would, and was shown into a stuffy little bedroom, which would never have been mistaken, even by the most inexperienced, for a room in a first-class hotel. However, our hero was not very particular—he had never been accustomed to luxurious accommodations, and he was perfectly satisfied with No. 12.
"You can go," said he to the servant, "I'll be down in a jiffy."
He washed his face and hands—for even in the days of his street-life he had paid more regard to neatness than most of his class—opened his carpet-bag and took out a clean paper collar, which he substituted for the one he wore, and, after brushing his hair, went down stairs. He did not have long to wait for his supper, nor was he wanting in appetite. Though the establishment could boast of no French cook, the table was spread with substantial dishes, which Tom attacked vigorously.
"There's nothing like a good square meal, when a fellow's hungry," he said to himself. "It's more than old Jacob and I often got. I wonder what the old man would say if he knew I was payin' two dollars a day out of his money? I can't foller it up long, that's one sure thing. But it's no use worrying before it's time. I guess I'll find something to do in a big place like this."
Our hero knew little or nothing about geography, or the comparative size of places. He fancied that Cincinnati was nearly as large as New York. At any rate, it was large enough to afford a living for a young man of pluck and industry. He was no doubt correct in this. Pluck and industry are pretty sure to make their way in any place, whatever its size, and these qualities Tom certainly possessed.
He took up a copy of a Cincinnati daily, and looked over its columns to see if there was any vacant position which he could fill.
WANTED—A gentleman of experience and ability, as Principal of the —— Grammar School. Salary, $2,500 the first year.
"The pay would suit me pretty well," said Tom, "and I guess I could lick some of the bad boys; but I could teach 'em all I know in half a day. Here's a coachman wanted. That won't do, either. 'Wanted.—A man with a small capital, to enter upon a light, genteel business.' I've got the small capital, and it's gettin' smaller every day. Perhaps I wouldn't be genteel enough."
After awhile Tom, having exhausted the advertisements, and found nothing to suit him, felt himself growing sleepy, and went up to bed.
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