Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
ON THE BOWERY.
After leaving the bootblack Ralph hardly knew what to do with himself. It was barely three o'clock, and he fancied it still too early to visit Horace Kelsey's office again.
He concluded to walk around and see the sights, and accordingly strolled up Broadway past the City Hall Park, and continued on up until Fourteenth street was reached.
This great thoroughfare, with its immense stores, interested him greatly. He spent fully half an hour in looking into the show-windows.
"What a lot of money must be invested in business here," he thought. "How I would like to be a merchant on such a scale. A person who had never been here would not imagine it was so grand!"
When a neighboring clock showed the hour of four the boy thought it time to return to the insurance agent's office. He was soon on his way downtown.
At the entrance to the office, a policeman tapped him on the shoulder. It was the one he had met earlier in the day.
"Hallo, young fellow," he said. "Did you get your money back?"
"Yes, I got my money, and a trifle more," returned Ralph. "Did you catch the man?"
"No, the rascal gave me the slip. So you got more than your money, eh?"
"I got five dollars more. But he has my pocketknife and a silver temperance badge. He can have his money when he gives me my things back."
"I reckon you'll have to call it square," laughed the policeman. "He was a slick one."
"He was, sir."
"You are a stranger in the city, I take it," went on the policeman, with a glance at Ralph's country clothes.
"You want to have your eyes open in the future, or you'll be robbed again before long.
"If you sleep in a room with others, pin your money fast inside of your shirt. Then they can't get it without waking you up."
"Thank you, I'll remember that."
"I shall watch out for that sharper, and nab him the first chance I get."
"That's right; he ought to be arrested."
"The trouble will be that there will be no one to make a complaint," went on the policeman.
"I'll make a complaint if I am still in the city," said Ralph.
"But where will I find you?"
"Ask for me at Mr. Kelsey's office in this building."
"Oh! All right," said the guardian of the peace, and then he and the boy separated.
In a minute more Ralph was back in the offices upstairs.
"Sorry, but Mr. Kelsey has not returned," said the clerk. "Better come in to-morrow about ten o'clock."
"Thank you, I will," replied Ralph.
He went downstairs much disappointed.
"I'll have to find some sort of a sleeping-place for to-night," he thought. "And it must be a cheap one, for if Mr. Kelsey doesn't come back in a day or two I will have to go home without seeing him, and I want to save the carfare to do it. No more riding in empty freight cars for me!" and he laughed to himself, as he remembered his experience in that line.
Ralph had often heard of the Battery, as the lower end of the city is called, and he determined to pay it a brief visit before nightfall should set in.
From a passer-by he learned that Broadway ran directly down there, and on he walked against the great tide of humanity which was now setting in toward up-town.
It was not long before he reached the little park back of Castle Garden and the emigrant offices, and here he sat down on a bench to take a look at the bay, and also at the various types of people that were moving about in all directions.
It was dark when Ralph moved off. During his stay he had heard two young men speak of the Bowery, and the many odd sights to be seen there, especially during the evening.
"I have nothing to do between now and bedtime," he thought. "I'll take a stroll up the Bowery, and take in all that is to be seen. In such a place as New York it will be easy enough to find a cheap hotel when I want to retire."
So leaving the Battery, he traveled up to Park Row, and continued along until the Bowery was reached.
The Bowery, even at this early hour in the evening, was alive with people. Many of the men and women were of very questionable character, but Ralph did not know this. He walked along, staring at everything to be seen.
Presently he came to a clothing establishment, in front of which were hung a number of suits marked at very low figures. He stopped to examine them, and hardly had he done so when an outside salesman, or "puller-in," as he is called, approached him.
"Nice suits, eh?" he said, pleasantly, as he placed his hand on Ralph's arm.
"They look so," returned the boy.
"Come in and try one on."
"No, thank you; not to-night."
"Won't cost you anything; come on," persisted the fellow.
"I don't care to buy to-night."
"That's all right; just try 'em on, and see how nice they look on you."
"Thank you, but I won't bother you," and Ralph attempted to walk away.
The "puller-in" was not going to lose him thus easily, however. Trade had been bad with him for the day, and he felt he must sell something or his position with the owner of the establishment would be at stake.
"It's no trouble to show goods, my dear sir; walk right in," he said, and, instead of letting Ralph go, pushed him toward the open store doors.
"But I don't want to buy," insisted Ralph, who began to fancy he was not being treated just right.
"Didn't ask you to buy, my dear sir. Isaac just show this young gentleman some of those beautiful all-wool suits for nine and ten dollars."
A greasy old Jew at once came forward, rubbing his hands.
"Chust sthep back here," he said, smiling broadly. "I vill show you der greatest pargains in New York."
"But I don't care to bu----" began Ralph again, but the Jew cut him short.
"Ve got dese suits at a great pargain," he said. "Da vos made originally to sell at twenty dollars. So efery von vot buys von of dem suits saves ten or elefen dollars on der burchase brice."
He hurried Ralph back to the rear of the store, and in a trice had at hand half a dozen suits, more or less faded, and of exceedingly doubtful material.
"Chust try on der coat and vest," he said. "Here, Rachel, hold der young gentleman's coat an' vest till I fit him to perfection," he went on to his wife, who had come up.
"Oh, Isaac, it vos a shame to sold dem peautiful allvool suits for twelfe dollars!" she cried, in assumed dismay.
"I vos sold dem for nine and ten dollars," returned Isaac.
"Vot, you reduced dem again?" she cried, in well-assumed horror.
"Yah, I vos got to haf der monish."
"It vos der greatest pargain sale in der vorld!" cried the woman. "You ought to buy two suits vile it lasts," she went on to Ralph.
In the meantime her husband was trying to make Ralph take off his coat and vest. He at length succeeded, and in a trice had part of one of the store suits on his back.
"Ach! vot an elegant fit!" he cried, in deep admiration. "Chust like it vos made to order!"
"Peautiful! peautiful!" joined in his wife.
"Vill you try on der bants?" asked the Jew.
"No," returned Ralph, decidedly.
"You had better. Da might not fit chust so vell as der coat."
"But I do not want to buy," cried Ralph, desperately.
"Vat?" screamed the old Jew. "And dot suit fits so elegantly!"
"Of course he takes dot suit," put in his wife. "Vot more you vonts, hey?"
"I didn't want to buy from the start," returned Ralph. "Give me my coat and vest."
And taking off the store coat and vest, he flung them on a counter.
"You dinks I vos a fool!" shrieked the old Jew. "Vot you try dem clothes on for, hey? Dot suit chust fits you--it's chust vot you vonts. I wraps dem up and you bays for dem and say noddings more! I vos here to sell goots--not to be fooled mit!"
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.