Part 1 out of 4
Scanned by Charles Keller
with OmniPage Professional OCR software
donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226.
Contact Mike Lough
PAUL THE PEDDLER OR THE FORTUNES OF A YOUNG STREET MERCHANT
BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.
BIOGRAPHY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Horatio Alger, Jr., an author who lived among and for boys and
himself remained a boy in heart and association till death, was
born at Revere, Mass., January 13, 1834. He was the son of a
clergyman, was graduated at Harvard College in 1852, and at its
Divinity School in 1860 and was pastor of the Unitarian Church at
Brewster, Mass., in 1862-66.
In the latter year he settled in New York and began drawing
public attention to the condition and needs of street boys. He
mingled with them, gained their confidence showed a personal
concern in their affairs, and stimulated them to honest and
useful living. With his first story he won the hearts of all
red-blooded boys everywhere, and of the seventy or more that
followed over a million copies were sold during the author's
In his later life he was in appearance a short, stout,
bald-headed man, with cordial manners and whimsical views of
things that amused all who met him. He died at Natick, Mass.,
July 18, 1899.
Mr. Alger's stories are as popular now as when first published,
because they treat of real live boys who were always up and
about-just like the boys found everywhere to-day. They are pure
in tone and inspiring in influence, and many reforms in the
juvenile life of New York may be traced to them. Among the best
Strong and Steady; Strive and Succeed; Try and Trust; Bound to
Rise; Risen from the Ranks; Herbert Carter's Legacy; Brave and
Bold; Jack's Ward; Shifting for Himself; Wait and Hope; Paul the
Peddler; Phil the Fiddler; Slow and Sure; Julius the Street Boy;
Tom the Bootblack; Struggling Upward, Facing the World; The Cash
Boy; Making His Way; Tony the Tramp; Joe's Luck; Do and Dare;
Only an Irish Boy; Sink or Swim; A Cousin's Conspiracy; Andy
Gordon; Bob Burton; Harry Vane; Hector's Inheritance; Mark
Mason's Triumph; Sam's Chance; The Telegraph Boy; The Young
Adventurer; The Young Outlaw; The Young Salesman, and Luke Walton.
PAUL THE PEDDLER
PAUL THE PEDDLER
"Here's your prize packages! Only five cents! Money prize in
every package! Walk up, gentlemen, and try your luck!"
The speaker, a boy of fourteen, stood in front of the shabby
brick building, on Nassau street, which has served for many years
as the New York post office. In front of him, as he stood with
his back to the building, was a small basket, filled with
ordinary letter envelopes, each labeled "Prize Package."
His attractive announcement, which, at that time, had also the
merit of novelty--for Paul had himself hit upon the idea, and
manufactured the packages, as we shall hereafter explain--drew
around him a miscellaneous crowd, composed chiefly of boys.
"What's in the packages, Johnny?" asked a bootblack, with his
box strapped to his back.
"Candy," answered Paul. "Buy one. Only five cents."
"There ain't much candy," answered the bootblack, with a
"What if there isn't? There's a prize."
"How big a prize?"
"There's a ten-cent stamp in some of 'em. All have got something
Influenced by this representation, the bootblack drew out a
five-cent piece, and said:
"Pitch one over then. I guess I can stand it." An envelope was
at once handed him.
"Open it, Johnny," said a newsboy at his side. Twenty curious
eyes were fixed upon him as he opened the package. He drew out
rather a scanty supply of candy, and then turning to Paul, with a
look of indignation, said:
"Where's the prize? I don't see no prize. Give me back my five
"Give it to me. I'll show you," said the young merchant.
He thrust in his finger, and drew out a square bit of paper, on
which was written- One Cent.
"There's your prize," he added, drawing a penny from his pocket.
"It ain't much of a prize," said the buyer. "Where's your ten
"I didn't say I put ten cents into every package," answered Paul.
"I'd burst up pretty quick if I did that. Who'll have another
package? Only five cents!"
Curiosity and taste for speculation are as prevalent among
children as with men, so this appeal produced its effect.
"Give me a package," said Teddy O'Brien, a newsboy, stretching
out a dirty hand, containing the stipulated sum. He also was
watched curiously as he opened the package. He drew out a paper
bearing the words- Two Cents.
"Bully for you, Teddy! You've had better luck than I," said the
The check was duly honored, and Teddy seemed satisfied, though
the amount of candy he received probably could not have cost over
half-a-cent. Still, he had drawn twice as large a prize as the
first buyer, and that was satisfactory.
"Who'll take the next?" asked Paul, in a businesslike manner.
"Maybe there's ten cents in this package. That's where you
double your money. Walk up, gentlemen. Only five cents!"
Three more responded to this invitation, one drawing a prize of
two cents, the other two of one cent each. Just then, as it
seemed doubtful whether any more would be purchased by those
present, a young man, employed in a Wall street house, came out
of the post office.
"What have you got here?" he asked, pausing.
"Prize packages of candy! Money prize in every package! Only
"Give me one, then. I never drew a prize in my life."
The exchange was speedily made.
"I don't see any prize," he said, opening it.
"It's on a bit of paper, mister," said Teddy, nearly as much
interested as if it had been his own purchase.
"Oh, yes, I see. Well, I'm in luck. Ten cents!"
"Ten cents!" exclaimed several of the less fortunate buyers,
with a shade of envy.
"Here's your prize, mister," said Paul, drawing out a ten-cent
stamp from his vest pocket.
"Well, Johnny, you do things on the square, that's a fact. Just
keep the ten cents, and give me two more packages."
This Paul did with alacrity; but the Wall street clerk's luck was
at an end. He got two prizes of a penny each.
"Well," he said, "I'm not much out of pocket. I've bought three
packages, and it's only cost me three cents."
The ten-cent prize produced a favorable effect on the business of
the young peddler. Five more packages were bought, and the
contents eagerly inspected; but no other large prize appeared.
Two cents was the maximum prize drawn. Their curiosity being
satisfied, the crowd dispersed; but it was not long before
another gathered. In fact, Paul had shown excellent judgment in
selecting the front of the post office as his place of business.
Hundreds passed in and out every hour, besides those who passed
by on a different destination. Thus many ears caught the young
peddler's cry--"Prize packages! Only five cents apiece!"--and
made a purchase; most from curiosity, but some few attracted by
the businesslike bearing of the young merchant, and willing to
encourage him in his efforts to make a living. These last, as
well as some of the former class, declined to accept the prizes,
so that these were so much gain to Paul.
At length but one package remained, and this Paul was some time
getting rid of. At last a gentleman came up, holding a little
boy of seven by the hand.
"Oh, buy me the package, papa?" he said, drawing his father's
"What is there in it, boy?" asked the gentleman.
"Candy," was the answer.
Alfred, for this was the little boy's name, renewed his
entreaties, having, like most boys, a taste for candy.
"There it is, Alfred," said his father, handing the package to
his little son.
"There's a prize inside," said Paul, seeing that they were about
"We must look for the prize by all means," said the gentleman.
"What is this? One cent?"
"Yes sir"; and Paul held out a cent to his customer.
"Never mind about that! You may keep the prize."
"I want it, pa," interposed Alfred, with his mouth full of candy.
"I'll give you another," said his father, still declining to
accept the proffered prize.
Paul now found himself in the enviable position of one who, at
eleven o'clock, had succeeded in disposing of his entire stock in
trade, and that at an excellent profit, as we soon shall see.
Business had been more brisk with him than with many merchants on
a larger scale, who sometimes keep open their shops all day
without taking in enough to pay expenses. But, then, it is to be
considered that in Paul's case expenses were not a formidable
item. He had no rent to pay, for one thing, nor clerk hire,
being competent to attend to his entire business single-handed.
All his expense, in fact, was the first cost of his stock in
trade, and he had so fixed his prices as to insure a good profit
on that. So, on the whole, Paul felt very well satisfied at the
result of his experiment, for this was his first day in the
"I guess I'll go home," he said to himself. "Mother'll want to
know how I made out." He turned up Nassau street, and had
reached the corner of Maiden lane, when Teddy O'Brien met him.
"Did you sell out, Johnny?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Paul.
"How many packages did you have?"
"That's bully. How much you made?"
"I can't tell yet. I haven't counted up," said Paul.
"It's better'n sellin' papers, I'll bet. I've only made thirty
cents the day. Don't you want to take a partner, Johnny?"
"No, I don't think I do," said Paul, who had good reason to doubt
whether such a step would be to his advantage.
"Then I'll go in for myself," said Teddy, somewhat displeased at
"Go ahead! There's nobody to stop you," said Paul.
"I'd rather go in with you," said Teddy, feeling that there would
be some trouble in making the prize packages, but influenced
still more by the knowledge that he had not capital enough to
start in the business alone.
"No," said Paul, positively; "I don't want any partner. I can do
well enough alone."
He was not surprised at Teddy's application. Street boys are as
enterprising, and have as sharp eyes for business as their
elders, and no one among them can monopolize a profitable
business long. This is especially the case with the young street
merchant. When one has had the good luck to find some attractive
article which promises to sell briskly, he takes every care to
hide the source of his supply from his rivals in trade. But this
is almost impossible. Cases are frequent where such boys are
subjected to the closest espionage, their steps being dogged for
hours by boys who think they have found a good thing and are
determined to share it. In the present case Paul had hit upon an
idea which seemed to promise well, and he was determined to keep
it to himself as long as possible. As soon as he was subjected
to competition and rivalry his gains would probably diminish.
PAUL AT HOME
Paul went up Centre street and turned into Pearl. Stopping
before a tenement-house, he entered, and, going up two flights of
stairs, opened a door and entered.
"You are home early, Paul," said a woman of middle age, looking
up at his entrance.
"Yes, mother; I've sold out."
"You've not sold out the whole fifty packages?" she asked, in
"Yes, I have. I had capital luck."
"Why, you must have made as much as a dollar, and it's not twelve
"I've made more than that, mother. Just wait a minute, till I've
reckoned up a little. Where's Jimmy?"
"Miss Beckwith offered to take him out to walk with her, so I let
him go. He'll be back at twelve."
While Paul is making a calculation, a few words of explanation
and description may be given, so that the reader may understand
better how he is situated.
The rooms occupied by Paul and his mother were three in number.
The largest one was about fourteen feet square, and was lighted
by two windows. It was covered with a neat, though well-worn,
carpet; a few cane-bottomed chairs were ranged at the windows,
and on each side of the table. There was a French clock on the
mantel, a rocking chair for his mother, and a few inexpensive
engravings hung upon the walls. There was a hanging bookcase
containing two shelves, filled with books, partly school books,
supplemented by a few miscellaneous books, such as "Robinson
Crusoe," "Pilgrim's Progress," a volume of "Poetical Selections,"
an odd volume of Scott, and several others. Out of the main room
opened two narrow chambers, both together of about the same area
as the main room. One of these was occupied by Paul and Jimmy,
the other by his mother.
Those who are familiar with the construction of a New York
tenement-house will readily understand the appearance of the
rooms into which we have introduced them. It must, however, be
explained that few similar apartments are found so well
furnished. Carpets are not very common in tenement-houses, and
if there are any pictures, they are usually the cheapest prints.
Wooden chairs, and generally every object of the cheapest, are to
be met with in the dwellings of the New York poor. If we find
something better in the present instance, it is not because Paul
and his mother are any better off than their neighbors. On the
contrary, there are few whose income is so small. But they have
seen better days, and the furniture we see has been saved from
the time of their comparative prosperity.
As Paul is still at his estimate, let us improve the opportunity
by giving a little of their early history.
Mr. Hoffman, the father of Paul, was born in Germany, but came to
New York when a boy of twelve, and there he grew up and married,
his wife being an American. He was a cabinetmaker, and, being a
skillful workman, earned very good wages, so that he was able to
maintain his family in comfort. They occupied a neat little
cottage in Harlem, and lived very happily, for Mr. Hoffman was
temperate and kind, when an unfortunate accident clouded their
happiness, and brought an end to their prosperity. In crossing
Broadway at its most crowded part, the husband and father was run
over by a loaded dray, and so seriously injured that he lived but
a few hours. Then the precarious nature of their prosperity was
found out. Mr. Hoffman had not saved anything, having always
lived up to the extent of his income. It was obviously
impossible for them to continue to live in their old home, paying
a rent of twenty dollars per month. Besides, Paul did not see
any good opportunity to earn his living in Harlem. So, at his
instigation, his mother moved downtown, and took rooms in a
tenement-house in Pearl street, agreeing to pay six dollars a
month for apartments which would now command double the price.
They brought with them furniture enough to furnish the three
rooms, selling the rest for what it would bring, and thus
obtaining a small reserve fund, which by this time was nearly
Once fairly established in their new home, Paul went out into the
streets to earn his living. The two most obvious, and, on the
whole, most profitable trades, were blacking boots and selling
newspapers. To the first Paul, who was a neat boy, objected on
the score that it would keep his hands and clothing dirty, and,
street boy though he had become, he had a pride in his personal
appearance. To selling papers he had not the same objection, but
he had a natural taste for trade, and this led him to join the
ranks of the street peddlers. He began with vending matches, but
found so much competition in the business, and received so rough
a reception oftentimes from those who had repeated calls from
others in the same business, that he gave it up, and tried
something else. But the same competition which crowds the
professions and the higher employments followed by men, prevails
among the street trades which are pursued by boys. If Paul had
only had himself to support, he could have made a fair living at
match selling, or any other of the employments he took up; but
his mother could not earn much at making vests, and Jimmy was
lame, and could do nothing to fill the common purse, so that Paul
felt that his earnings must be the main support of the family,
and naturally sought out what would bring him in most money.
At length he had hit upon selling prize packages, and his first
experience in that line are recorded in the previous chapter.
Adding only that it was now a year since his father's death, we
resume our narrative.
"Do you want to know how much I've made, mother?" asked Paul,
looking up at length from his calculation.
"A dollar and thirty cents."
"I did not think it would amount to so much. The prizes came to
considerable, didn't they?"
"Listen, and I will tell you how I stand:
One pound of candy . . . . . . . . .20
Two packs of envelopes . . . . . . . .10
Prize. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90
That makes . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.20
I sold the fifty packages at five cents each, and that brought me
in two dollars and a half. Taking out the expenses, it leaves me
a dollar and thirty cents. Isn't that doing well for one
"It's excellent; but I thought your prizes amounted to more than
"So they did, but several persons who bought wouldn't take their
prizes, and that was so much gain."
"You have done very well, Paul. I wish you might earn as much
"I'm going to earn some more this afternoon. I bought a pound of
candy on the way home, and some cheap envelopes, and I'll be
making up a new stock while I am waiting for dinner."
Paul took out his candy and envelopes, and set about making up
"Did any complain of the small amount of candy you put in?"
"A few; but most bought for the sake of the prizes."
"Perhaps you had better be a little more liberal with your candy,
and then there may not be so much dissatisfaction where the prize
is only a penny."
"I don't know but your are right, mother. I believe I'll only
make thirty packages with this pound, instead of fifty.
Thirty'll be all I can sell this afternoon."
Just then the door opened, and Paul's brother entered.
Jimmy Hoffman, or lame Jimmy, as he was often called, was a
delicate-looking boy of ten, with a fair complexion and sweet
face, but incurably lame, a defect which, added to his delicate
constitution, was likely to interfere seriously with his success
in life. But, as frequently happens, Jimmy was all the more
endeared to his mother and brother by his misfortune and bodily
weakness, and if either were obliged to suffer from poverty,
Jimmy would be spared the suffering.
"Well, Jimmy, have you had a pleasant walk?" asked his mother.
"Yes, mother; I went down to Fulton Market. There's a good deal
to see there."
"A good deal more than in this dull room, Jimmy."
"It doesn't seem dull to me, mother, while you are here. How did
you make out selling your prize packages?"
"They are all sold, Jimmy, every one. I am making some more."
"Shan't I help you?"
"Yes, I would like to have you. Just take those envelopes, and
write prize packages on every one of them."
"All right, Paul," and Jimmy, glad to be of use, got the pen and
ink, and, gathering up the envelopes, began to inscribe them as
he had been instructed.
By the time the packages were made up, dinner was ready. It was
not a very luxurious repast. There was a small piece of rump
steak--not more than three-quarters of a pound--a few potatoes, a
loaf of bread, and a small plate of butter. That was all; but
then the cloth that covered the table was neat and clean, and the
knives and forks were as bright as new, and what there was tasted
"What have you been doing this morning, Jimmy?" asked Paul.
"I have been drawing, Paul. Here's a picture of Friday. I
copied it from 'Robinson Crusoe.' "
He showed the picture, which was wonderfully like that in the
book, for this--the gift of drawing--was Jimmy's one talent, and
he possessed it in no common degree.
"Excellent, Jimmy!" said Paul. "You're a real genius. I
shouldn't be surprised if you'd make an artist some day."
"I wish I might," said Jimmy, earnestly. "There's nothing I'd
"I'll tell you what, Jimmy. If I do well this afternoon, I'll
buy you a drawing-book and some paper, to work on while mother
and I are busy."
"If you can afford it, Paul, I should like it so much. Some time
I might earn something that way."
"Of course you may," said Paul, cheerfully. "I won't forget
Dinner over, Paul went out to business, and was again successful,
getting rid of his thirty packages, and clearing another dollar.
Half of this he invested in a drawing- book, a pencil and some
drawing-paper for Jimmy. Even then he had left of his earnings
for the day one dollar and eighty cents. But this success in the
new business had already excited envy and competition, as he was
destined to find out on the morrow.
PAUL HAS COMPETITORS
The next morning Paul took his old place in front of the post
office. He set down his basket in front, and, taking one of the
packages in his hand, called out in a businesslike manner, as on
the day before, "Here's your prize packages! Only five cents!
Money prize in every package! Walk up, gentlemen, and try your
He met with a fair degree of success at first, managing in the
course of an hour to sell ten packages. All the prizes drawn
were small, with the exception of one ten-cent prize, which was
drawn by a little bootblack, who exclaimed:
"That's the way to do business, Johnny. If you've got any more
of them ten-cent prizes, I'll give you ten cents a piece for the
"Better buy some more and see," said Paul.
"That don't go down," said the other. "Maybe there'd be only a
Nevertheless, the effect of this large prize was to influence the
sale of three other packages; but as neither of these contained
more than two-cent prizes, trade began to grow dull, and for ten
minutes all Paul's eloquent appeals to gentlemen to walk up and
try their luck produced no effect.
At this point Paul found that there was a rival in the field.
Teddy O'Brien, who had applied for a partnership the day before,
came up with a basket similar to his own, apparently filled with
similar packages. He took a position about six feet distant from
Paul, and began to cry out, in a shrill voice:
"Here's your bully prize packages! Best in the market! Here's
where you get your big prizes, fifty cents in some of 'em. Walk
up boys, tumble up, and take your pick afore they're gone. Fifty
cents for five!"
"That's a lie, Teddy," said Paul, who saw that his rival's
attractive announcement was likely to spoil his trade.
"No, 'tisn't," said Teddy. "If you don't believe it, just buy
one and see."
"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Paul, "I'll exchange."
"No," said Teddy; "I ain't a-goin' to risk givin' fifty cents for
"More likely you'd get ten for one. You're a humbug."
"Have you really got any fifty-cent prizes?" asked a newsboy,
who had sold out his morning stock of papers, and was lounging
about the post office steps.
"Best way is to buy, Johnny," said Teddy.
The boy did buy, but his prize amounted to only one cent.
"Didn't I tell you so?" said Paul.
"Just wait a while and see," said Teddy. "The lucky feller
hasn't come along. Here, Mike, jest buy a package!"
Mike, a boy of fifteen, produced five cents, and said, "I don't
mind if I do."
He selected a package, and, without opening it, slipped it into
"Why don't you open it?" said Teddy.
"What's the use?" said Mike. "There ain't no fifty cents
However, he drew it out of his pocket, and opened it.
"What's this?" he exclaimed, pulling out a piece of scrip.
"Howly St. Patrick! it's I that's in luck, anyhow I've got the
And he held up to view a fifty-cent scrip.
"Let me look at it," said Paul, incredulously.
But there was no room for doubt. It was a genuine fifty cents,
as Paul was compelled to admit.
"Didn't I tell you so?" said Teddy, triumphantly. "Here's where
you get fifty-cent prizes."
The appeal was successful. The sight of the fifty-cent prize led
to a large call for packages, of which Teddy immediately sold
ten, while Paul found himself completely deserted. None of the
ten, however, contained over two cents. Still the possibility of
drawing fifty cents kept up the courage of buyers, while Paul's
inducements were so far inferior that he found himself wholly
"Don't you wish you'd gone pardners with me?" asked Teddy, with
a triumphant grin, noticing Paul's look of discomfiture. "You
can't do business alongside of me."
"You can't make any money giving such big prizes," said Paul.
"You haven't taken in as much as you've given yet."
"All right," said Teddy. "I'm satisfied if you are. Have a
"Yes," said Jim. "Mind you give me a good prize."
The package was bought, and, on being opened, proved to contain
fifty cents also, to Paul's great amazement. How Teddy's
business could pay, as it was managed, he could not comprehend.
One thing was certain, however, his new competitor monopolized
the trade, and for two hours Paul did not get a solitary
"There's something about this I don't understand," he pondered,
thoughtfully. "He must lose money; but he's spoiled my trade."
Paul did not like to give up his beat, but he found himself
compelled to. Accordingly he took his basket, and moved off
toward Wall street. Here he was able to start in business
without competitors, and succeeded in selling quite a number of
packages, until a boy came up, and said:
"There's a feller up at the post office that's givin' fifty-cent
prizes. I got one of 'em."
There was a group of half-a-dozen boys around Paul, two of whom
were about to invest; but on hearing thus they changed their
intention, and walked of in the direction of the post office.
Looking up, Paul saw that the boy who had injured his trade was
Mike, who had drawn the first fifty-cent prize from his
"Can't you stop interfering?" he said, angrily. "I've lost two
customers by you."
"If you don't like it, you can lump it," said Mike, insolently.
"This is a free country, ain't it?"
"It's a mean trick," said Paul, indignantly.
"Say that ag'in, and I'll upset your basket," returned Mike.
"I'll say it as often as I like," said Paul, who wasn't troubled
by cowardice. "Come on, if you want to."
Mike advanced a step, doubling his fists; but, finding that Paul
showed no particular sign of fear, he stopped short, saying:
"I'll lick you some other time."
"You'd better put it off," said Paul. "Have a prize package,
sir? Only five cents!"
This was addressed to a young man who came out of an insurance
"I don't mind if I do," said the young man. "Five cents, is it?
What prize may I expect?"
"The highest is ten cents."
"There's a boy around the post office that gives fifty-cent
prizes, mister," said Mike. "You'd better buy of him."
"I'll wait till another time," said the young man. "Here's the
money, Johnny. Now for the package."
"Look here," said Paul, indignantly, when his customer had gone
away; "haven't you anything to do except to drive off my
"Give me two cents on every package," said Mike, "and I'll tell
'em you give dollar prizes."
"That would be a lie, and I don't want to do business that way."
Mike continued his persecutions a while longer, and then turned
the corner into Nassau street.
"I'm glad he's gone," thought Paul. "Now there's a chance for
He managed after a while to sell twenty of his packages. By this
time it was twelve o'clock, and he began to feel hungry. He
resolved, therefore, to go home to dinner and come out again in
the afternoon. He didn't know how much he had made, but probably
about fifty cents. He had made more than double as much the day
before in less time; but then he did not suffer from competition.
He began to doubt whether he could long pursue this business,
since other competitors were likely to spring up.
As he walked by the post office he had the curiosity to look and
see how his competitor was getting along.
Teddy had started, originally, with seventy-five packages; but of
those scarcely a dozen were left. A group of boys were around
him. Among them was Mike, who was just on the point of buying
another package. As before, he put it in his pocket, and it was
not till Teddy asked, "What luck, Mike?" that he drew it out,
and opening it again, produced fifty cents.
"It's the big prize!" he said. "Sure I'm in luck, anyhow."
"You're the boy that's lucky," said Teddy, with a grin.
As Paul witnessed the scene a light broke upon him. Now he
understood how Teddy could afford to give such large prizes.
Mike and the other boy, Jim, were only confederates of his--decoy
ducks--who kept drawing over again the same prize, which was
eventually given back to Teddy. It was plain now why Mike put
the package into his pocket before opening it. It was to
exchange it for another packet into which the money had
previously been placed, but which was supposed by the lookers-on
to be the same that had just been purchased. The prize could
afterward be placed in a new packet and used over again.
"That ain't the same package," said Paul, announcing his
discovery. "He had it all the while in his pocket."
"Look here," blustered Mike, "you jest mind your own business!
That's the best thing for you."
"Suppose I don't?"
"If you don't there may be a funeral to-morrow of a boy about
There was a laugh at Paul's expense, but he took it coolly.
"I'll send you a particular invitation to attend, if I can get
anybody to go over to the island."
As Mike had been a resident at Blackwell's Island on two
different occasions, this produced a laugh at his expense, in the
midst of which Paul walked off.
TEDDY GIVES UP BUSINESS
"Have you sold all your packages, Paul?" asked Jimmy, as our
hero entered the humble room, where the table was already spread
with a simple dinner.
"No," said Paul, "I only sold twenty. I begin to think that the
prize-package business will soon be played out."
"There's too many that'll go into it."
Here Paul related his experience of the morning, explaining how
it was that Teddy had managed to distance him in the competition.
"Can't you do the same, Paul?" asked Jimmy. "Mother's got a
gold dollar she could lend you."
"That might do," said Paul; "but I don't know any boy I could
trust to draw it except you, and some of them would know we were
"I think, Paul, that would be dishonest," said Mrs. Hoffman. "I
would rather make less, if I were you, and do it honestly."
"Maybe you're right, mother. I'll try it again this afternoon,
keeping as far away from Teddy as I can. If I find I can't make
it go, I'll try some other business."
"Jimmy, have you shown Paul your drawing?" said his mother.
"Here it is, Paul," said Jimmy, producing his drawing- book, from
which he had copied a simple design of a rustic cottage.
"Why, that's capital, Jimmy," said Paul, in real surprise. "I
had no idea you would succeed so well."
"Do you really think so, Paul?" asked the little boy, much
"I really do. How long did it take you?"
"Only a short time--not more than half an hour, I should think,"
said Mrs. Hoffman. "I think Jimmy succeeded very well."
"You'll make a great artist some time, Jimmy," said Paul.
"I wish I could," said the little boy. "I should like to earn
some money, so that you and mother need not work so hard."
"Hard work agrees with me. I'm tough," said Paul. "But when we
get to be men, Jimmy, we'll make so much money that mother
needn't work at all. She shall sit in the parlor all day,
dressed in silk, with nothing to do."
"I don't think I would enjoy that," said Mrs. Hoffman, smiling.
"Will you be in the candy business, then, Paul?" said Jimmy.
"No, Jimmy. It would never do for the brother of a great artist
to be selling candy round the streets. I hope I shall have
something better to do than that."
"Sit down to dinner, Paul," said his mother. "It's all ready."
The dinner was not a luxurious one. There was a small plate of
cold meat, some potatoes, and bread and butter; but Mrs. Hoffman
felt glad to be able to provide even that, and Paul, who had the
hearty appetite of a growing boy, did full justice to the fare.
They had scarcely finished, when a knock was heard at the door.
Paul, answering the summons, admitted a stout, pleasant-looking
"The top of the mornin' to ye, Mrs. Donovan," said Paul, bowing
"Ah, ye'll be afther havin' your joke, Paul," said Mrs. Donovan,
good-naturedly. "And how is your health, mum, the day?"
"I am well, thank you, Mrs. Donovan," said Mrs. Hoffman. "Sit
down to the table, won't you? We're just through dinner, but
there's something left."
"Thank you, mum, I've jist taken dinner. I was goin' to wash
this afternoon, and I thought maybe you'd have some little pieces
I could wash jist as well as not."
"Thank you, Mrs. Donovan, you are very kind; but you must have
enough work of your own to do."
"I'm stout and strong, mum, and hard work agrees with me; but
you're a rale lady, and ain't used to it. It's only a thrifle,
but if you want to pay me, you could do a bit of sewin' for me.
I ain't very good with the needle. My fingers is too coarse,
"Thank you, Mrs. Donovan; on those terms I will agree to your
kind offer. Washing is a little hard for me."
Mrs. Hoffman collected a few pieces, and, wrapping them up in a
handkerchief, handed them to her guest.
"And now what have you been doin', Jimmy darlint?" said Mrs.
Donovan, turning her broad, good-humored face toward the younger
"I've been drawing a picture," said Jimmy. "Would you like to
"Now, isn't that illigant?" exclaimed Mrs. Donovan, admiringly,
taking the picture and gazing at it with rapt admiration. "Who
showed you how to do it?"
"Paul bought me a book, and I copied it out of that."
"You're a rale genius. Maybe you'll make pictures some time like
them we have in the church, of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints.
Do you think you could draw me, now?" she asked, with curiosity.
"I haven't got a piece of paper big enough," said Jimmy, slyly.
"Ah, it's pokin' fun at me, ye are," said Mrs. Donovan,
good-humoredly. "Just like my Pat; he run into the room
yesterday sayin', 'Mother, there's great news. Barnum's fat
woman is dead, and he's comin' afther you this afternoon. He'll
pay you ten dollars a week and board.' 'Whist, ye spalpeen!' said
I; 'is it makin' fun of your poor mother, ye are?' but I couldn't
help laughing at the impertinence of the boy. But I must be
"Thank you for your kind offer, Mrs. Donovan. Jimmy shall go to
your room for the sewing."
"There's no hurry about that," said Mrs. Donovan. "I'll jist
bring it in meself when it's ready."
"She is very kind," said Mrs. Hoffman, when Bridget Donovan had
gone. "I shall be glad to have her wash. I am apt to feel weak
after it. What are you going to do this afternoon, Paul?"
"I'll try to sell out the rest of my stock of packages. Perhaps
I shan't succeed, but I'll do my best. Shall you have another
picture to show me when I come back tonight, Jimmy?"
"Yes, Paul; I love to draw. I'm going to try this castle."
"It's rather hard, isn't it?"
"I can do it," said Jimmy, confidently.
Paul left the room with his basket on his arm.
He was drawn by curiosity to the spot where he had met with his
first success, as well as his first failure--the front of the
post office. Here he became witness to an unexpectedly lively
scene; in other words, a fight, in which Teddy O'Brien and his
confederate, Mike, were the contestants. To explain the cause of
the quarrel, it must be stated that it related to a division of
Teddy had sold out his last package, seventy-five in number. For
these he had received five cents apiece, making in all three
dollars and seventy-five cents, of which all but a dollar and
seventy-five cents, representing the value of the prizes and the
original cost of the packages and their contents, was profit.
Now, according to the arrangement entered into between him and
Mike, the latter, for his services, was to receive one cent on
every package sold. This, however, seemed to Teddy too much to
pay, so, when the time of reckoning came, he stoutly asseverated
that there were but sixty packages.
"That don't go down," said Mike, indignantly; "it's nearer a
"No, it isn't. It's only sixty. You've got the fifty cents, and
I'll give you ten more."
"You must give me the whole sixty, then," said Mike, changing his
ground. "I drawed the fifty as a prize."
Teddy was struck with astonishment at the impudence of this
"It wasn't no prize," he said.
"Yes, it was," said Mike. "You said so yourself. Didn't he,
Jim, who was also a confederate, but had agreed to accept
twenty-five cents in full for services rendered, promptly
"Shure, Mike's right. It was a prize he drew."
"You want to chate me!" said Teddy, angrily.
"What have you been doin' all the mornin'?" demanded Mike.
"You're the chap to talk about chatin', ain't you?"
"I'll give you twenty-five cents," said Teddy, "and that's all I
will give you."
"Then you've got to fight," said Mike, squaring off.
"Yes, you've got to fight!" chimed in Jim, who thought he saw a
chance for more money.
Teddy looked at his two enemies, each of whom was probably more
than a match for himself, and was not long in deciding that his
best course was to avoid a fight by running. Accordingly, he
tucked all the money into his pocket, and, turning incontinently,
fled down Liberty street, closely pursued by his late
confederates. Paul came up just in time to hear the termination
of the dispute and watch the flight of his late business rival.
"I guess Teddy won't go into the business again," he reflected.
"I may as well take my old stand."
Accordingly he once more installed himself on the post office
steps, and began to cry, "Prize packages. Only five cents!"
Having no competitor now to interfere with his trade, he met with
fair success, and by four o'clock was able to start for home with
his empty basket, having disposed of all his stock in trade.
His profits, though not so great as the day before, amounted to a
"If I could only make a dollar every day," thought Paul, "I would
PAUL LOSES HIS BASKET
Paul continued in the prize-package business for three weeks.
His success varied, but he never made less than seventy-five
cents a day, and sometimes as much as a dollar and a quarter. He
was not without competitors. More than once, on reaching his
accustomed stand, he found a rival occupying it before him. In
such cases he quietly passed on, and set up his business
elsewhere, preferring to monopolize the trade, though the
location might not be so good.
Teddy O'Brien did not again enter the field. We left him, at the
end of the last chapter, trying to escape from Mike and Jim, who
demanded a larger sum than he was willing to pay for their
services. He succeeded in escaping with his money, but the next
day the two confederates caught him, and Teddy received a black
eye as a receipt in full of all demands. So, on the whole, he
decided that some other business would suit him better, and
resumed the blacking-box, which he had abandoned on embarking in
Mike Donovan and Jim Parker were two notoriously bad boys,
preferring to make a living in any other way than by honest
industry. As some of these ways were not regarded as honest in
the sight of the law, each had more than once been sentenced to a
term at Blackwell's Island. They made a proposition to Paul to
act as decoy ducks for him in the same way as for Teddy. He
liked neither of the boys, and did not care to be associated with
them. This refusal Mike and Jim resented, and determined to "pay
of" Paul if they ever got a chance. Our hero from time to time
saw them hovering about him, but took very little notice of them.
He knew that he was a match for either, though Mike exceeded him
in size, and he felt quite capable of taking care of himself.
One day Mike and Jim, whose kindred tastes led them to keep
company, met at the corner of Liberty and William streets. Mike
looked unusually dilapidated. He had had a scuffle the day
before with another boy, and his clothes, always well ventilated,
got torn in several extra places. As it was very uncertain when
he would be in a financial condition to provide himself with
another suit, the prospect was rather alarming. Jim Parker
looked a shade more respectable in attire, but his face and hands
were streaked with blacking. To this, however, Jim had become so
accustomed that he would probably have felt uncomfortable with a
"How are you off for stamps, Jim?" asked Mike.
"Dead broke," was the reply.
"So am I. I ain't had no breakfast."
"Nor I 'cept an apple. Couldn't I eat, though?"
"Suppose we borrow a quarter of Paul Hoffman."
"He wouldn't lend a feller."
"Not if he knowed it," said Mike, significantly.
"What do you mean, Mike?" asked Jim, with some curiosity.
"We'll borrow without leave."
"How'll we do it?"
"I'll tell you," said Mike.
He proceeded to unfold his plan, which was briefly this. The two
were to saunter up to where Paul was standing; and remain until
the group, if there were any around him should be dispersed.
Then one was to pull his hat over his eyes, while the other would
snatch the basket containing his prize packages, and run down
Liberty street, never stopping until he landed in a certain alley
known to both boys. The other would run in a different
direction, and both would meet as soon as practicable for the
division of the spoils. It was yet so early that Paul could not
have sold many from his stock. As each contained a prize,
varying from one penny to ten, they would probably realize enough
to buy a good breakfast, besides the candy contained in the
packages. More money might be obtained by selling packages, but
there was risk in this. Besides, it would take time, and they
decided that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush.
"That's a good idea," said Jim, approvingly. "Who'll knock his
hat over his head?"
"You can," said Mike, "and I'll grab the basket." But to this
Jim demurred, for two reasons: first, he was rather afraid of
Paul, whose strength of arm he had tested on a previous occasion;
and, again, he was afraid that if Mike got off with the basket he
would appropriate the lion's share.
"I'll grab the basket," he said.
"What for?" said Mike, suspiciously, for he, too, felt some
distrust of his confederate.
"You're stronger'n I am, Mike," said Jim. "Maybe he'd turn on
me, and I can't fight him as well as you."
"That's so," said Mike, who had rather a high idea of his own
prowess, and felt pleased with the compliment. "I'm a match for
"Of course you be," said Jim, artfully, "and he knows it."
"Of course he does," said Mike, boastfully. "I can lick him with
Jim had serious doubts of this, but he had his reasons for
concurring in Mike's estimate of his own powers.
"We'd better start now," said Jim. "I'm awful hungry."
"Come along, then."
They walked up Liberty street, as far as Nassau. On reaching the
corner they saw their unconscious victim at his usual place. It
was rather a public place for an assault, and both boys would
have hesitated had they not been incited by a double motive--the
desire of gain and a feeling of hostility.
They sauntered along, and Mike pressed in close by Paul.
"What do you want?" asked Paul, not liking the vicinity.
"What's that to you?" demanded Mike.
"Quit crowdin' me."
"I ain't crowdin'. I've got as much right to be here as you."
"Here's your prize packages!" exclaimed Paul, in a businesslike
"Maybe I'll buy one if you'll give me credit till to-morrow,"
"Your credit isn't good with me," said Paul. "You must pay cash
"Then you won't trust me?" said Mike, pressing a little closer.
"No, I won't," said Paul, decidedly.
"Then, take that, you spalpeen!" said Mike, suddenly pulling
Paul's hat over his eyes.
At the same time Jim, to whom he had tipped a wink, snatched the
basket, which Paul held loosely in his hand, and disappeared
round the corner.
The attack was so sudden and unexpected that Paul was at first
bewildered. But he quickly recovered his presence of mind, and
saw into the trick. He raised his hat, and darted in pursuit of
Mike, not knowing in what direction his basket had gone.
"That's a mean trick!" he exclaimed, indignantly. "Give me back
my basket, you thief!"
"I ain't got no basket," said Mike, facing round.
"Then you know where it is."
"I don't know nothin' of your basket."
"You pulled my hat over my eyes on purpose to steal my basket."
"No, I didn't. You insulted me, that's why I did it."
"Tell me where my basket is, or I'll lick you," said Paul,
"I ain't nothin' to do with your basket."
"Take that, then, for pulling my hat over my eyes," and Paul,
suiting the action to the word, dealt Mike a staggering blow in
"I'll murder you!" shouted Mike, furiously, dashing at Paul with
a blow which might have leveled him, if he had not fended it off.
Paul was not quarrelsome, but he knew how to fight, and he was
prepared now to fight in earnest, indignant as he was at the
robbery which entailed upon him a loss he could ill sustain.
"I'll give you all you want," he said, resolutely, eyeing Mike
warily, and watching a chance to give him another blow.
The contest was brief, being terminated by the sudden and
unwelcome arrival of a policeman.
"What's this?" he asked authoritatively, surveying the
combatants; Paul, with his flushed face, and Mike, whose nose was
bleeding freely from a successful blow of his adversary.
"He pitched into me for nothin'," said Mike, glaring at Paul, and
rubbing his bloody nose on the sleeve of his ragged coat.
"That isn't true," said Paul, excitedly. "He came up while I was
selling prize packages of candy in front of the post office, and
pulled my hat over my eyes, while another boy grabbed my basket."
"You lie!" said Mike. "I don't know nothin' of your basket."
"Why did you pull his hat over his eyes?" asked the policeman.
"Because he insulted me."
"How did he insult you?"
"He wouldn't trust me till to-morrow."
"I don't blame him much for that," said the policeman, who was
aware of Mike's shady reputation, having on a former occasion
been under the necessity of arresting him. Even without such
acquaintance, Mike's general appearance would hardly have
recommended him to Officer Jones.
"I'll let you go this time," he said, "but if I catch you
fighting again on my beat I'll march you off to the
Mike was glad to escape, though he would almost have been willing
to be arrested if Paul could have been arrested also.
The officer walked away, and Mike started down the street.
Paul followed him.
That didn't suit Mike's ideas, as he was anxious to meet Jim and
divide the spoils with him.
"What are you follerin' me for?" he demanded, angrily.
"I have my reasons," said Paul.
"Then you'd better stay where you are. Your company ain't
"I know that," said Paul, "but I'm going to follow you till I
find my basket."
"What do I know of your basket?"
"That's what I want to find out."
Mike saw, by Paul's resolute tone, that he meant what he said.
Desirous of shaking him of, he started on a run.
PAUL AS AN ARTIST
Paul was not slow in following Mike. He was a good runner, and
would have had no difficulty in keeping up with his enemy if the
streets had been empty. But to thread his way in and out among
the numerous foot passengers that thronged the sidewalks was not
so easy. He kept up pretty well, however, until, in turning a
street corner, he ran at full speed into a very stout gentleman,
whose scanty wind was quite knocked out of him by the collision.
He glared in anger at Paul, but could not at first obtain breath
enough to speak.
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Paul, who, in spite of his desire
to overtake Mike, felt it incumbent upon him to stop and offer an
"What do you mean, sir," exploded the fat man, at last, "by
tearing through the streets like a locomotive? You've nearly
"I am very sorry, sir."
"You ought to be. Don't you know better than to run at such
speed? You ought to be indicted as a public nuisance.
"I was trying to catch a thief," said Paul.
"Trying to catch a thief? How's that?" asked the stout
gentleman, his indignation giving way to curiosity.
"I was selling packages in front of the post office when he and
another boy came up and stole my basket."
"Indeed! What were you selling?"
"Prize packages, sir."
"What was in them?"
"Could you make much that way?"
"About a dollar a day."
"I'd rather have given you a dollar than had you run against me
with such violence. I feel it yet."
"Indeed, sir, I'm very sorry."
"Well, I'll forgive you, under the circumstances. What's your
"Well, I hope you'll get back your basket. Some time, if you see
me in the street, come up and let me know. Would you know me
"I think I should, sir."
"Well, good-morning. I hope you'll catch the thief."
"I thank you, sir."
They parted company, but Paul did not continue the pursuit. The
conversation in which he had taken part had lasted so long that
Mike had had plenty of time to find a refuge, and there would be
no use in following him.
So Paul went home.
"You are home early, Paul," said his mother. "Surely you haven't
sold out by this time."
"No, but all my packages are gone."
"How is that?"
"They were stolen."
"Tell me about it."
So Paul told the story.
"That Mike was awful mean," said Jimmy, indignantly. "I'd like
to hit him."
"I don't think you would hurt him much, Jimmy," said Paul, amused
at his little brother's vehemence.
"Then I wish I was a big, strong boy," said Jimmy.
"I hope you will be, some time."
"How much was your loss, Paul?" asked his mother.
"There were nearly forty packages. They cost me about a dollar,
but if I had sold them all they would have brought me in twice as
much. I had only sold ten packages."
"Shall you make some more?"
"No, I think not," said Paul. "I've got tired of the business.
It's getting poorer every day. I'll go out after dinner, and see
if I can't find something else to do."
"You ain't going out now, Paul?" said Jimmy.
"No, I'll stop and see you draw a little while."
"That's bully. I'm going to try these oxen."
"That's a hard picture. I don't think you can draw it, Jimmy."
"Yes, I can," said the little boy, confidently. "Just see if I
"Jimmy has improved a good deal," said his mother.
"You'll be a great artist one of these days, Jimmy," said Paul.
"I'm going to try, Paul," said the little boy. "I like it so
Little Jimmy had indeed made surprising progress in drawing.
With no instruction whatever, he had succeeded in a very close
and accurate imitation of the sketches in the drawing books Paul
had purchased for him. It was a great delight to the little boy
to draw, and hour after hour, as his mother sat at her work, he
sat up to the table, and worked at his drawing, scarcely speaking
a word unless spoken to, so absorbed was he in his fascinating
Paul watched him attentively.
"You'll make a bully artist, Jimmy," he said, at length, really
surprised at his little brother's proficiency. "If you keep on a
little longer, you'll beat me."
"I wish you'd draw something, Paul," said Jimmy. "I never saw
any of your drawings."
"I am afraid, if you saw mine, it would discourage you," said
Paul. "You know, I'm older and ought to draw better."
His face was serious, but there was a merry twinkle of fun in his
"Of course, I know you draw better," said Jimmy, seriously.
"What shall I draw?" asked Paul.
"Try this horse, Paul."
"All right!" said Paul. "But you must go away; I don't want you
to see it till it is done."
Jimmy left the table, and Paul commenced his attempt. Now,
though Paul is the hero of my story, I am bound to confess that
he had not the slightest talent for drawing, though Jimmy did not
know it. It was only to afford his little brother amusement that
he now undertook the task.
Paul worked away for about five minutes.
"It's done," he said.
"So quick?" exclaimed Jimmy, in surprise. "How fast you work!"
He drew near and inspected Paul's drawing. He had no sooner
inspected it than he burst into a fit of laughter. Paul's
drawing was a very rough one, and such a horse as he had drawn
will never probably be seen until the race has greatly
"What's the matter, Jimmy?" asked Paul. "Don't you like it?"
"It's awful, Paul," said the little boy, almost choking with
"I see how it is," said Paul, with feigned resentment. You're
jealous of me because you can't draw as well."
"Oh, Paul, you'll kill me!" and Jimmy again burst into a fit of
merriment. "Can't you really draw any better?"
"No, Jimmy," said Paul, joining in the laugh. "I can't draw any
better than an old cow. You've got all the talent in the family
in that line."
"But you're smart in other ways, Paul," said Jimmy, who had a
great admiration of Paul, notwithstanding the discovery of his
"I'm glad there's one that thinks so, Jimmy," said Paul. "I'll
refer to you when I want a recommendation."
Jimmy resumed his drawing, and was proud of the praises which
Paul freely bestowed upon him.
"I'll get you a harder drawing book when you've got through with
these," said Paul; "that is, if I don't get reduced to poverty by
having my stock in trade stolen again."
After a while came dinner. This meal in Mrs. Hoffman's household
usually came at twelve o'clock. It was a plain, frugal meal
always, but on Sunday they usually managed to have something a
little better, as they had been accustomed to do when Mr. Hoffman
Paul was soon through.
He took his hat from the bureau, and prepared to go out.
"I'm going out to try my luck, mother," he said. "I'll see if I
can't get into something I like a little better than the
"I hope you'll succeed, Paul."
"Better than I did in drawing horses, eh, Jimmy?"
"Yes, I hope so, Paul," said the little boy.
"Don't you show that horse to visitors and pretend it's yours,
"No danger, Paul."
Paul went downstairs and into the street. He had no definite
plan in his head, but was ready for anything that might turn up.
He did not feel anxious, for he knew there were plenty of ways in
which he could earn something. He had never tried blacking
boots, but still he could do it in case of emergency. He had
sold papers, and succeeded fairly in that line, and knew he could
again. He had pitted himself against other boys, and the result
had been to give him a certain confidence in his own powers and
business abilities. When he had first gone into the street to
try his chances there, it had been with a degree of diffidence.
But knocking about the streets soon gives a boy confidence,
sometimes too much of it; and Paul had learned to rely upon
himself; but the influence of a good, though humble home, and a
judicious mother, had kept him aloof from the bad habits into
which many street boys are led.
So Paul, though his stock in trade had been stolen, and he was
obliged to seek a new kind of business, was by no means
disheartened. He walked a little way downtown, and then,
crossing the City Hall Park, found himself on Broadway.
A little below the Astor House he came to the stand of a
sidewalk-merchant, who dealt in neckties. Upon an upright
framework hung a great variety of ties of different colors, most
of which were sold at the uniform price of twenty-five cents
Paul was acquainted with the proprietor of the stand, and, having
nothing else to do, determined to stop and speak to him.
A NEW BUSINESS
The proprietor of the necktie stand was a slender,
dark-complexioned young man of about twenty-five, or thereabouts.
His name was George Barry. Paul had known him for over a year,
and whenever he passed his stand was accustomed to stop and speak
"Well, George, how's business?" asked Paul.
"Fair," said Barry. "That isn't what's the matter."
"What is it, then?"
"I'm sick. I ought not to be out here to-day."
"What's the matter with you?"
"I've caught a bad cold, and feel hot and feverish. I ought to
be at home and abed."
"Why don't you go?"
"I can't leave my business."
"It's better to do that than to get a bad sickness."
"I suppose it is. I am afraid I am going to have a fever. One
minute I'm hot, another I'm cold. But I can't afford to close up
"Why don't you get somebody to take your place?"
"I don't know anybody I could get that I could trust. They'd
sell my goods, and make off with the money."
"Can you trust me?" asked Paul, who saw a chance to benefit
himself as well as his friend.
"Yes, Paul, I could trust you, but I'm afraid I couldn't pay you
enough to make it worth while for you to stand here."
"I haven't got anything to do just now," said Paul. "I was in
the prize-package business, but two fellows stole my stock in
trade, and I'm not going into it again. It's about played out.
I'm your man. Just make me an offer."
"I should like to have you take my place for a day or two, for I
know you wouldn't cheat me."
"You may be sure of that."
"I am sure. I know you are an honest boy, Paul. But I don't
know what to offer you."
"How many neckties do you sell a day?" asked Paul, in a
"About a dozen on an average."
"And how much profit do you make?"
"It's half profit."
Paul made a short calculation. Twelve neckties at twenty-five
cents each would bring three dollars. Half of this was a dollar
and a half.
"I'll take your place for half profits," he said.
"That's fair," said George Barry. "I'll accept your offer. Can
you begin now?"
"Then I'll go home and go to bed. It's the best place for me."
"You'd better. I'll come round after closing up, and hand over
"All right! You know where I live?"
"I'm not sure."
"No. -- Bleecker street."
"I'll come up this evening."
George Barry walked away, leaving Paul in charge of his business.
He did so with perfect confidence. Not every boy in Paul's
circumstances can be trusted, but he felt sure that Paul would do
the right thing by him.
I may as well say, in this connection, that George Barry had a
mother living. They occupied two rooms in a lodging-house in
Bleecker street, and lived very comfortably. Mrs. Barry had an
allowance of two hundred dollars a year from a relation. This,
with what she earned by sewing, and her son by his stand,
supported them very comfortably, especially as they provided and
cooked their own food, which was, of course, much cheaper than
boarding. Still, the loss of the young man's earnings, even for
a short time, would have been felt, though they had a reserve of
a hundred dollars in a savings bank, from which they might draw
if necessary. But George did not like to do this. The
arrangement which he made with Paul was a satisfactory one, for
with half his usual earnings they would still be able to keep out
of debt, and not be compelled to draw upon the fund in the bank.
Of course, something depended on Paul's success as a salesman,
but he would not be likely to fall much below the average amount
of sales. So, on the whole, George Barry went home considerably
relieved in mind, though his head was throbbing, and he felt
Arrived at home, his mother, who understood sickness, at once
took measures to relieve him.
"Don't mind the loss of a few days, George," she said,
cheerfully; "we shall be able to get along very well."
"It'll only be part loss, mother," he said. "I've got Paul
Hoffman to take my place for half the profits."
"Paul Hoffman! Do I know him?"
"I don't think he has ever been here but I have known him for a
"Can you trust him?"
"Yes, I'm not at all afraid. He is a smart boy, and as honest as
he is smart. I think he will sell nearly as much as I would."
"That is an excellent arrangement. You needn't feel uneasy,
"No, the business will go on right."
"I should like to see your salesman."
"You'll see him to-night, mother. He's coming round this evening
to let me know how he's got along, and hand over the money he's
"You'd better be quiet now, George, and go to sleep, if you can.
I'll make you some warm tea. I think it'll do you good."
Meanwhile Paul assumed charge of George Barry's business. He was
sorry his friend was sick, but he congratulated himself on
getting into business so soon.
"It's more respectable than selling prize packages," thought
Paul. "I wish I had a stand of my own."
He was still a street merchant, but among street merchants there
are grades as well as among merchants whose claim to higher
respectability rests upon having rent to pay. Paul felt that it
was almost like having a shop of his own. He had always looked
up to George Barry as standing higher than himself in a business
way, and he felt that even if his earnings should not be as
great, that it was a step upward to have sole charge of his
stand, if only for a day or two.
Paul's ambition was aroused. It was for his interest to make as
large sales as possible. Besides, he thought he would like to
prove to George Barry that he had made a good selection in
appointing him his substitute.
Now, if the truth must be told, George Barry himself was not
possessed of superior business ability. He was lacking in energy
and push. He could sell neckties to those who asked for them,
but had no particular talent for attracting trade. He would have
been a fair clerk, but was never likely to rise above a very
moderate success. Paul was quite different. He was quick,
enterprising, and smart. He was a boy likely to push his way to
success unless circumstances were very much against him.
"I'd like to sell more than George Barry," he said to himself.
"I don't know if I can, but I'm going to try."
The day was half over, and probably the most profitable, so far
as business was concerned. Paul had only four or five hours
"Let me see," he said to himself. "I ought to sell six neckties
to come up to the average of half a day's sale. I wonder whether
I can do it."
As his soliloquy ended, his quick eye detected a young man
glancing at his stock, and he observed that he paused
irresolutely, as if half inclined to purchase."
"Can't I sell you a necktie to-day?" asked Paul, promptly.
"I don't know," said the other. "What do you charge?"
"You can have your choice for twenty-five cents. That is cheap,
"Yes, that's cheap. Let me look at them."
"Here's one that will suit your complexion," said Paul.
"Yes, that's a pretty one. I think I'll take it."
"You have to pay twice as much in the shops," continued Paul, as
he rolled it up. "You see, we have no rent to pay, and so we can
sell cheap. You'll save money by always buying your neckties
"The only objection to that is that I don't live in the city. I
am here only for a day. I live about fifty miles in the
"Then I'll tell you what you'd better do," said Paul. "Lay in
half a dozen, while you are about it. It'll only be a dollar and
a half, and you'll save as much as that by doing it."
"I don't know but you are right," said his customer, whom the
suggestion impressed favorably. "As you say, it's only a dollar
and a half, and it'll give me a good stock."
"Let me pick them out for you," said Paul, briskly, "unless
there's something you see yourself."
"I like that one."
"All right. What shall be the next?"
Finally, the young man selected the entire half-dozen, and
deposited a dollar and a half in Paul's hands.
"Come and see me again," said Paul, "and if you have any friends
coming to the city, send them to me."
"I will," said the other.
"Tell them it's the first stand south of the Astor House. Then
they won't miss it."
"That's a good beginning," said Paul to himself, with
satisfaction. "Half a day's average sales already, and I've only
been here fifteen minutes. Let me see, what will my profits be
on that? Three shillings, I declare. That isn't bad, now!"
Paul had reason to be satisfied with himself. If he had not
spoken, the young man would very probably have gone on without
purchasing at all, or, at any rate, remained content with a
single necktie. Paul's manner and timely word had increased his
purchase sixfold. That is generally the difference between a
poor salesman and one of the first class. Anybody can sell to
those who are anxious to buy; but it takes a smart man to
persuade a customer that he wants what otherwise he would go
without. The difference in success is generally appreciated by
dealers, and a superior salesman is generally paid a handsome
"I don't believe George Barry would have sold that man so many
ties," thought Paul. "I hope I shall have as good luck next
But this, of course, was not to be expected. It is not every
customer who can be persuaded to buy half-a-dozen ties, even by
the most eloquent salesman. However, in the course of an hour
more, Paul had sold three more to single customers. Then came a
man who bought two. Then there was a lull, and for an hour Paul
sold none at all. But business improved a little toward the
close of the afternoon, and when it was time to close up, our
young merchant found that he had disposed of fifteen.
"My share of the profits will be ninety-three cents," thought
Paul, with satisfaction. "That isn't bad for an afternoon's
A STROKE OF ILL LUCK
Paul transferred his frame of goods to a neighboring office at
the end of the afternoon, the arrangement having been made by
George Barry, on first entering into business as a street
merchant. This saved a good deal of trouble, as otherwise he
would have been compelled to carry them home every night and
bring them back in the morning.
"Well, Paul," asked his mother, when he returned to supper, "have
you found anything to do yet?"
"I have got employment for a few days," said Paul. "to tend a
necktie stand. The man that keeps it is sick."
"How much does he pay you, Paul?" asked Jimmy.
"Half the profits. How much do you think I have made this
"What do you say to ninety-three cents? Just look at this," and
Paul displayed his earnings.
"That is excellent."
"I had good luck. Generally, I shan't make more in a whole day
"That will be doing very well."
"But I shall make more, if I can. One fellow bought six neckties
of me this afternoon. I wish everybody would do that. Now,
mother, I hope supper is most ready, for selling neckties has
made me hungry."
"Almost ready, Paul."
It was a humble meal, but a good one. There were fresh rolls and
butter, tea and some cold meat. That was all; but the cloth was
clean, and everything looked neat. All did justice to the plain
meal, and never thought of envying the thousands who, in their
rich uptown mansions, were sitting down at the same hour to
elaborate dinners costing more than their entire week's board.
"Are you going out, Paul?" asked Mrs. Hoffman, noticing that he
took his hat.
"Yes, I must go and see George Barry, and carry the money I have
received for sales."
"Where does he live?"
"In Bleecker street. I shan't be gone long."
Paul reached the number which had been given him. It was a
large, four-story house, with the appearance of a barracks.
"Mr. Barry," said the servant, in answer to his question-- "he
lives upstairs on the fourth floor. Room on the right."
Paul plodded his way upstairs, and found the room without
On knocking, the door was opened by Mrs. Barry, who looked at him
"Does George Barry live here?" asked Paul.
"Yes. Are you the one he left in charge of his business?"
Paul answered in the affirmative, adding, "How is he?"
"He seems quite feverish. I am afraid he is going to have a
fever. It's fortunate he came home. He was not able to attend
to his business."
"Can I see him?"
"Come in," said Mrs. Barry.
The room was covered with a worn carpet, but looked neat and
comfortable. There was a cheap sewing-machine in one corner, and
some plain furniture. There was a bedroom opening out of this
room, and here it was that George Barry lay upon the bed.
"Is that Paul Hoffman, mother?" was heard from the bedroom.
"Yes," said Paul, answering for himself.
"Go in, if you like," said Mrs. Barry. "My son wishes to see
"How do you feel now, George?" asked Paul.
"Not very well, Paul. I didn't give up a minute too soon. I
think I am going to have a fever."
"That is not comfortable," said Paul. "Still, you have your
mother to take care of you."
"I don't know how I should get along without her. Can you look
after my business as long as I am sick?"
"Yes; I have nothing else to do."
"Then that is off my mind. By the way, how many ties did you
sell this afternoon?"
"What!" demanded Barry, in surprise. "You sold fifteen?"
"Why, I never sold so many as that in an afternoon."
"Didn't you?" said Paul, gratified. "Then you think I did
"Splendidly. How did you do it?"
"You see, there was a young man from the country that I persuaded
to buy six, as he could not get them so cheap at home. That was
my first sale, and it encouraged me."
"I didn't think you'd sell more than six in the whole afternoon."
"Nor did I, when I started; but I determined to do my best. I
don't expect to do as well every day."
"No, of course not. I've been in the business more than a year;
and I know what it is. Some days are very dull."
"I've got the money for you. The fifteen ties came to three
dollars and seventy-five cents. I keep one-fourth of this as my
commission. That leaves two dollars and eighty-two cents."
"Quite correct. However, you needn't give me the money. You may
need to change a bill, or else lose a sale. It will do if you
settle with me at the end of the week."
"I see you have confidence in me, George. Suppose I should take
a fancy to run away with the money?"
"I am not afraid."
"If I do, I will give you warning a week beforehand."
After a little more conversation, Paul withdrew, thinking he
might worry the sick man. He offered to come up the next
evening, but George Barry said, "It would be too much to expect
you to come up every evening. I shall be satisfied if you come
up every other evening."
"Very well," said Paul. "Then you may expect me Saturday. I
hope I shall have some good sales to report, and that I shall
find you better."
Paul descended to the street, and walked slowly homeward. He
couldn't help wishing that the stand was his own, and the entire
profits his. This would double his income, and enable him to
save up money. At present this was hardly possible. His own
earnings had been, and were likely to continue, very fluctuating.
Still, they constituted the main support of the family. His
mother made shirts for an establishment on Broadway at
twenty-five cents each, which was more than some establishments
paid. She could hardly average more than one shirt a day, in