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Tom called the next day at the hospital, and left ten dollars, finding this to be the right amount for Jacob's coffin. He took a last look at the old man, so long his companion, and then, feeling that he could do no more, went on his way. He next went to a railroad office, on Broadway, and bought a through-ticket to Cincinnati. This was the city where, according to Jacob's story, his father had been in business, and he himself had been born. His inquiries for the uncle who had defrauded him must commence here.
Having taken his seat in the cars, he was led to make an examination of his pocket-book. He found it, by no means, well filled. A hundred dollars had seemed to him a good deal of money, but he had expended half of it for clothes. His railway ticket, and the money he left at the hospital, consumed thirty dollars more, and he had, therefore, but twenty dollars left.
"That ain't much to set up as a gentleman on," said Tom to himself. "I didn't know it cost so much to get along; I'll have to go to work afore long."
Tom was not in the least daunted, however; he had always been accustomed to earn his living, and didn't doubt that he could do it now.
He had little money, but he had his wits and two strong arms, and he thought he could keep out of the poor-house. No anxious fears for the future marred the pleasure which the journey afforded him. With an eye of interest he regarded the rich and productive country through which the train was speeding at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour.
There is more than one route from New York to Cincinnati, a fact of which Tom knew nothing, and it was only by accident that he had selected that which led through Buffalo. He stopped over a night at this enterprising city, and at an early hour entered the cars to go on to the chief city in Ohio. The passengers were nearly all seated. In fact, every seat was occupied, except that beside Tom, when a stout, elderly gentleman entered the car, followed by an attractive young girl of fourteen.
"There don't seem to be any seats, Bessie," he said.
"Here's one, uncle," said the young lady, indicating the seat of which our hero occupied half.
"Is this seat engaged, young man?" asked the old gentleman.
Tom looked up, and, seeing that a pretty girl was to sit beside him, answered, with alacrity:
"Then, Bessie, you may as well sit down here. I am very sorry you must take this long journey alone. I thought, till the last moment, that Mr. Armstrong was going."
"Oh! never mind, uncle; I can get along well enough."
"But it don't seem right; I am afraid your father will blame me."
"Perhaps," said Bessie, with a little coquettish glance at Tom, whom she privately thought a very good-looking boy; "perhaps this young gentleman will look after me."
The old gentleman looked dubious, and would have preferred a person of more maturity. Still, there was no choice, and he said:
"Young man, are you going to Cincinnati?"
"Yes, sir," said Tom.
"Then, if it won't be too much trouble, I will ask you to look after my niece a little. I am unable to go with her myself."
"All right, sir; I'll do it," said Tom, in a confident tone.
"There goes the bell, uncle," said Bessie. "You'd better go, or you will be carried along with us."
The old gentleman bent over and kissed his niece. Our hero thought he should have been willing to relieve him of the duty. The young girl beside him looked so fresh and pretty that, though he was too young to fall in love, he certainly did feel considerable pleasure in the thought that she was to be his companion in a journey of several hundred miles. It gave him a feeling of importance, being placed in charge of her, and he couldn't help wondering whether he would have got the chance if he had been dressed in his old street suit.
"There's a good deal in clo's," thought Tom, philosophically. "It makes all the difference between a young gentleman and a bootblack."
"Would you like to sit by the window?" he asked, by way of being sociable and polite.
"Oh, no! I can see very well from here," said the young lady. "Do you come from Buffalo?"
"No; I am from New York."
"I never was there; I should like to go very much. I have heard that Central Park is a beautiful place."
"Yes, it's a bully place," said Tom.
"That's a regular boy's word," she said. "Miss Wiggins, our teacher, was always horrified when she heard any of us girls use it. I remember one day I let it out without thinking, and she heard it. 'Miss Benton,' said she, 'never again let me hear you employ that inelegant expression. That a young lady under my charge should, even once, have been guilty of such a breach of propriety, mortifies me extremely.'"
Bessie pursed up her pretty lips, and imitated the manner of the prim schoolmistress, to the great amusement of our hero.
"Is that the way she talked?" he asked.
"Yes; and she glared at me through her spectacles. She looked like a beauty, with her tall bony figure, and thin face. Did you ever go to boarding-school?"
"No," said Tom; "nor to any other," he might almost have added.
"You wouldn't like it, though boys' boarding-schools may be better than girls'. I have been two years at Miss Wiggins' boarding-school, in Buffalo. Now I'm going home, on a vacation, and I really hope papa won't send me there again."
"Do you live in Cincinnati?"
"Yes—that is, papa does. Are you going to stay there long?"
"I think I shall live there," said Tom, who fancied it would be agreeable to live in the same city with Bessie Benton.
"Oh, I hope you will! Then you could come and see us."
"That would be bully," Tom was about to say, but it occurred to him that it would be in better taste to say: "I should like to very much."
"Have you finished your education?" asked Bessie.
"There wasn't much to finish," thought Tom, but he said, aloud:
"Maybe I'll study a little more."
"Where did you study?" asked the persevering Bessie.
"I've been to Columbia College," said Tom, after a little pause.
So he had been up to the college grounds, but I am afraid he intended Bessie to believe something else.
"Then you must know a great deal," said Bessie. "Do you like Latin and Greek very much?"
"Not very much," said Tom.
"I never went farther than the Latin verbs. They're tiresome, ain't they?"
"I'll bet they are," said Tom, who wouldn't have known a Latin verb from a Greek noun.
"I suppose they come easier to boys. Were you long in college?"
"I suppose you were a Freshman?"
"Yes," said Tom, hazarding a guess.
"Don't the Sophomores play all sorts of tricks on the Freshmen?"
"Awful," said Tom, who found it safest to chime in with the remarks of the young lady.
"I had a cousin at Yale College," continued Bessie. "When he was a Freshman, the Sophomores broke into his room one night, blindfolded him, and carried him off somewhere. Then they made him smoke a pipe, which made him awful sick, and poured a pail of water over his head. Did they ever do such things to you?"
"No, they wouldn't dare to," said our hero.
"You couldn't help yourself."
"Yes, I could; I'd put a head on them."
"I don't know what Miss Wiggins would say if she should hear you talk. She'd have a fit."
"What did I say?" he asked, innocently.
"You said you'd put a head on them."
"So I would."
"Only it is a very inelegant expression, as Miss Wiggins says."
"If you don't like it, I won't say it any more."
"Oh! I don't care," said Bessie, laughing. "You needn't be afraid I'll have a fit. I ain't such a model of propriety as that. Perhaps I shall be some time, when I get to be a stiff old maid like Priscilla Wiggins."
"You won't be that."
"How do you know?" said Bessie, saucily.
"You don't look like it."
"Don't I? Perhaps nobody will marry me," she said, demurely.
"If nobody else will, send for me!" said Tom, blushing immediately at his unexpected boldness.
"Am I to regard that as a proposal?" asked Bessie, her eyes sparkling with fun.
"Yes, if you want to," said Tom, manfully.
"I'm sure I'm very much obliged," said the young lady. "I won't forget it, and, if nobody else will have me, I'll send for you."
"She's a trump," he thought, but fortunately didn't make use of a word which would have been highly objectionable to Miss Wiggins.
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