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Paul the Peddler or the Fortunes of a Young Street Merchant by Horatio Alger, Jr.

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happen to have a five with you?"

"No, I haven't," said the lady, promptly. "I spent all my money
shopping this morning."

"That is unfortunate. Our young friend has rendered us such a
service I don't like to make him wait for his money."

Ephraim Young looked rather blank at this suggestion.

"Let me see, I have a hundred-dollar bill here," said Mr.
Montgomery. "I will go into the next store, and see if I can't
get it changed. Mr. Young, will you be kind enough to remain
with my wife?"

"Certain," said Ephraim, brightening up.

Mr. Montgomery went into a shop near by, but made no request to
have a hundred-dollar bill changed. He was rather afraid that
they might comply with his request, which would have subjected
him to some embarrassment. He merely inquired if he could use a
pen for a moment; request which was readily granted. In less
than five minutes he emerged into the street again. Ephraim
Young looked toward him eagerly.

"I am sorry to say, my young friend," he remarked, "that I was
unable to get my bill changed. I might get it changed at a bank,
but the banks are all closed at this hour."

The countryman looked disturbed.

"I am afraid," continued Mr. Montgomery, "I must wait and send
you the money in a letter from Hayfield Centre."

"I'd rather have it now," said Ephraim.

"I am sorry to disappoint you," said the adventurer smoothly;
"but after all you will only have a day or two to wait. To make
up to you for the delay I have decided to send you ten dollars
instead of five. Finding I could not change my bill, I wrote a
note for the amount, which I will hand you."

Ephraim received the paper, which the other handed him, and read
as follows:

NEW YORK, Sept 15, 18--.

Three days from date I promise to pay Mr. Ephraim Young ten
JOTHAM BARNES, of Hayfield Centre.

"How will that do?" asked the adventurer. "By waiting three
days you double your money."

"You'll be sure to send it," said Ephraim, doubtfully.

"My young friend, I hope you do not doubt me," said the Rev. Mr.
Barnes, impressively.

"I guess it's all right," said Ephraim, "only I thought I might
like to spend the money in the city."

"Much better save it up," said the other. "By and by it may come
in useful."

Ephraim carefully folded up the note, and deposited it in an
immense wallet, the gift of his father. He would have preferred
the money which it represented: but three days would soon pass,
and the ten dollars would be forwarded to him. He took leave of
his new acquaintances, Mr. Montgomery shaking his hand with
affectionate warmth, and requesting him to give his best respects
to his parents. When Ephraim was out of sight he returned to his
wife, with a humorous twinkle in his eye, and said:

"Wasn't that cleverly done, old lady?"

"Good enough!" remarked the lady. "Now you've got the ring back
again, what are you going to do with it?"

"That, my dear, is a subject which requires the maturest
consideration. I shall endeavor to convert it as soon as
possible into the largest possible sum in greenbacks. Otherwise
I am afraid our board bill, and the note I have just given to my
rural friend, will remain unpaid."



Having shaken off his country acquaintance, of whom he had no
further need, Mr. Montgomery started to return to his lodgings.
On the whole, he was in good spirits, though he had not effected
the sale of the ring. But it was still in his possession, and it
had a tangible value.

"I am sorry you did not sell the ring," said Mrs. Montgomery.

"So am I," said her husband. "We may have to sell it in some
other city."

"We can't leave the city without money."

"That's true," returned her husband, rather taken aback by what
was undeniably true.

"We must sell the ring, or raise money on it, in New York."

"I don't know but you are right. The trouble is, there are not
many places where they will buy so expensive an article.
Besides, they will be apt to ask impertinent questions."

"You might go to a pawnbroker's."

"And get fleeced. If I got a quarter of the value from a
pawnbroker, I should be lucky."

"We must do something with it," said Mrs. Montgomery, decidedly.

"Right, my dear. We must get the sinews of war somewhere.
Richard will never be himself again till his pocketbook is lined
with greenbacks. At present, who steals my purse steals trash."

"Suppose you try Tiffany's?"

"The ring has already been offered there. They might remember

"If they do, say that he is your son."

"A good thought," answered the husband. "I will act upon it.
But, on the whole, I'll doff this disguise, and assume my
ordinary garments. This time, my dear, I shall not need your

"Well, the sooner it's done the better. That's all I have to

"As soon as possible."

Mr. Montgomery returned to his lodgings in Amity street, and,
taking off his clerical garb, appeared in the garb in which we
first made his acquaintance. The change was very speedily

"Wish me good luck, Mrs. M.," he said, as he opened the door. "I
am going to make another attempt."

"Good luck to you, Tony! Come back soon."

"As soon as my business is completed. If I get the money, we
will leave for Philadelphia this evening. You may as well be
packing up."

"I am afraid the landlady won't let us carry away our baggage
unless we pay our bill."

"Never mind! Pack it up, and we'll run our chance."

Felix Montgomery left the house with the ring carefully deposited
in his vest pocket. To judge from his air of easy indifference,
he might readily have been taken for a substantial citizen in
excellent circumstances; but then appearances are oftentimes
deceitful, and they were especially so in the present instance.

He made his way quickly to Broadway, and thence to Tiffany's, at
that time not so far uptown as at present. He entered the store
with a nonchalant air, and, advancing to the counter, accosted
the same clerk to whom Paul had shown the ring earlier in the

"I have a valuable ring which I would like to sell," he said.
"Will you tell me its value?"

The clerk no sooner took it in his hand than he recognized it.

"I have seen that ring before," he said, looking at Mr.
Montgomery keenly.

"Yes," said the latter, composedly; "this morning, wasn't it?"


"My boy brought it in here. I ought not to have sent him, for he
came very near losing it on the way home. I thought it best to
come with it myself."

This was said so quietly that it was hard to doubt the statement,
or would have been if information had not been brought to the
store that the ring had been stolen.

"Yes, boys are careless," assented the clerk, not caring to
arouse Mr. Montgomery's suspicions. "You wish to sell the ring,
I suppose."

"Yes," answered the other; "I don't like to carry a ring of so
great value. Several times I have come near having it stolen.
Will you buy it?"

"I am not authorized to make the purchase," said the clerk. "I
will refer the matter to Mr. Tiffany."

"Very well," said Mr. Montgomery. "I am willing to accept
whatever he may pronounce a fair price."

"No doubt," thought the clerk.

He carried the ring to his employer, and quickly explained the

"The man is doubtless a thief. He must be arrested," said the

"If I go for an officer, he will take alarm."

"Invite him to come into the back part of the shop, and I will
protract the negotiation while you summon a policeman."

The clerk returned, and at his invitation Mr. Montgomery walked
to the lower end of the store, where he was introduced to the
head of the establishment. Sharp though he was, he suspected no

"You are the owner of this ring?" asked Mr. Tiffany.

"Yes, sir," said the adventurer. "It has been in our family for
a long time."

"But you wish to sell it now?"

"Yes; I have come near losing it several times, and prefer to
dispose of it. What is its value?"

"That requires some consideration. I will examine it closely."

Mr. Montgomery stood with his back to the entrance, waiting
patiently, while the jeweler appeared to be engaged in a close
examination of the ring. He congratulated himself that no
questions had been asked which it might have been difficult for
him to answer. He made up his mind that after due examination
Mr. Tiffany would make an offer, which he determined in advance
to accept, whatever it might be, since he would consider himself
fortunate to dispose of it at even two-thirds of its value.

Meanwhile the clerk quietly slipped out of the store, and at a
short distance encountered a policeman, upon whom he called for
assistance. At the same moment Paul and Mr. Preston came up.
Our hero, on being released from arrest, had sought Mr. Preston,
and the latter obligingly agreed to go with him to Tiffany's, and
certify to his honesty, that, if the ring should be brought
there, it might be retained for him. Paul did not recognize the
clerk, but the latter at once remembered him.

"Are you not the boy that brought a diamond ring into our store
this morning?" he asked.

"Into Tiffany's?"


"Have you seen anything of it?" asked our hero, eagerly. "I am
the one who brought it in."

"A man just brought it into the store," said the clerk.

"Is he there now?"

"He is talking with Mr. Tiffany. I came out for a policeman. He
will be arrested at once."

"Good!" ejaculated Paul; "I am in luck. I thought I should
never see the ring again. What sort of a man is he?"

From the description, Paul judged that it was Felix Montgomery
himself, and, remembering what a trick the adventurer had played
upon him at Lovejoy's Hotel, he felt no little satisfaction in
the thought that the trapper was himself trapped at last.

"I'll go along with you," he said. "I want to see that man

"You had better stay outside just at first, until we have secured

Meanwhile Mr. Tiffany, after a prolonged examination, said: "The
ring is worth two hundred and fifty dollars."

"That will be satisfactory," said Mr. Montgomery, promptly.

"Shall I give you a check for the amount?" asked the jeweler.

"I should prefer the money, as I am a stranger in the city, and
not known at the banks."

"I can make the check payable to bearer, and then you will have
no difficulty in getting it cashed."

While this conversation was going on, the clerk entered the store
with the policeman, but Mr. Montgomery's back was turned, and he
was not aware of the fact till the officer tapped him on the
shoulder, saying: "You are my prisoner."

"What does this mean? There is some mistake," said the
adventurer, wheeling round with a start.

"No mistake at all. You must come with me."

"What have I done? You take me for some one else."

"You have stolen a diamond ring."

"Who says so?" demanded the adventurer, boldly. "It is true I
brought one here to sell, but it has belonged to me for years."

"You are mistaken, Mr. Montgomery," said Paul, who had come up
unperceived. "You stole that ring from me this morning, after
dosing me with chloroform at Lovejoy's Hotel."

"It is a lie," said the adventurer, boldly. "That boy is my son.

He is in league with his mother to rob me. She sent him here
this morning unknown to me. Finding it out, I took the ring from
him, and brought it here myself."

Paul was certainly surprised at being claimed as a son by the man
who had swindled him, and answered: "I never saw you before this
morning. I have no father living."

"I will guarantee this boy's truth and honesty," said Mr.
Preston, speaking for the first time. "I believe you know me,
Mr. Tiffany."

"I need no other assurance," said the jeweler, bowing. "Officer,
you may remove your prisoner."

"The game is up," said the adventurer, finding no further chance
for deception. "I played for high stakes, and I have lost the
game. I have one favor to ask. Will some one let my wife know
where I am?"

"Give me her address," said Paul, "and I will let her know."

"No. ---- Amity street. Ask her to come to the station-house to
see me."

"I will go at once."

"Thank you," said Mr. Montgomery; "as I am not to have the ring,
I don't know that I am sorry it has fallen into your hands. One
piece of advice I will venture to offer you, my lad," he added,
smiling. "Beware of any jewelers hailing from Syracuse. They
will cheat you, if you give them a chance."

"I will be on my guard," said Paul. "Can I do anything more for

"Nothing, thank you. I have a fast friend at my side, who will
look after me."

The officer smiled grimly at the jest, and the two left the store
arm in arm.

"Do you still wish to sell this ring?" asked Mr. Tiffany,
addressing Paul.

"Yes, sir."

"I renew my offer of this morning. I will give you two hundred
and fifty dollars."

"I shall be glad to accept it."

The sale was quickly effected, and Paul left the store with what
seemed to him a fortune in his pocket

"Be careful not to lose your money," said Mr Preston.

"I should like to place a hundred and fifty dollars in your
hands," said Paul, turning to Mr. Preston.

"I will willingly take care of it for you, and allow you interest
upon it."

The transfer was made, and, carefully depositing the balance of
the money in his pocketbook, our hero took leave of his friend
and sought the house in Amity street.



Mrs. Montgomery impatiently awaited the return of her husband.
Meanwhile she commenced packing the single trunk which answered
both for her husband and herself. She was getting tired of New
York, and anxious to leave for Philadelphia, being fearful lest
certain little transactions in which she and her husband had
taken part should become known to the police.

She had nearly completed her packing when Paul rang the doorbell.

The summons was answered by the landlady in person.

"Is Mrs. Montgomery at home?" asked Paul.

"No such lady lives here," was the answer.

It occurred to Paul as very possible that Mr. Montgomery might
pass under a variety of names. He accordingly said, "Perhaps I
have got the name wrong. The lady I mean is tall. I come with a
message from her husband, who is a stout man with black hair and
whiskers. He gave me this number."

"Perhaps you mean Mr. Grimsby. He and his wife live here."

"Probably that is the name," said Paul.

"I will give Mrs. Grimsby your message," returned the landlady,
whose curiosity was excited to learn something further about her

"Thank you," said Paul; "but it is necessary for me to see the
lady myself."

"Well, you can follow me, then," said the landlady, rather

She led the way upstairs, and knocked at the door of Mrs.
Grimsby, or as we will still call her, Mrs. Montgomery, since
that name is more familiar to the reader, and she was as much
entitled to the one as the other.

Mrs. Montgomery opened the door, and regarded our hero
suspiciously, for her mode of life had taught her suspicion of

"Here's a boy that wants to see you," said the landlady.

"I come with a message from your husband," said Paul.

Mrs. Montgomery remembered Paul as the boy who was the real owner
of the diamond ring, and she eyed him with increased suspicion.

"Did my husband send you? When did you see him."

"Just now, at Tiffany's," answered Paul, significantly.

"What is his message?" asked Mrs. Montgomery, beginning to feel

Paul glanced at the landlady, who, in the hope of gratifying her
curiosity, maintained her stand by his side.

"The message is private," he said.

"I suppose that means that I am in the way," remarked the
landlady, sharply. "I don't want to pry into anybody's secrets.
Thank Heaven, I haven't got any secrets of my own."

"Walk in, young man," said Mrs. Montgomery.

Paul entered the room, and she closed the door behind him.
Meanwhile the landlady, who had gone part way downstairs,
retraced her steps, softly, and put her ear to the keyhole. Her
curiosity, naturally strong, had been stimulated by Paul's
intimation that there was a secret.

"Now," said Mrs. Montgomery, impatiently, "out with it! Why does
my husband send a message by you, instead of coming himself?"

"He can't come himself."

"Why can't he?"

"I am sorry to say that I am the bearer of bad news," said Paul,
gravely. "Your husband has been arrested for robbing me of a
diamond ring."

"Where is he?" demanded Mrs. Montgomery, not so much excited or
overcome as she would have been had this been the first time her
husband had fallen into the clutches of the law.

"At the street station-house. He wants you to come and see him."

"Have you got the ring back?"


Mrs. Montgomery was sorry to hear it. She hoped her husband
might be able to secrete it, in which case he would pass it over
to her to dispose of. Now she was rather awkwardly situated,
being without money, or the means of making any.

"I will go," she said.

Paul, who was sitting next to the door, opened it suddenly, with
unexpected effort, for the landlady, whose ear was fast to the
keyhole, staggered into the room involuntarily.

"So you were listening, ma'am, were you?" demanded Mrs.
Montgomery, scornfully.

"Yes, I was," said the landlady, rather red in the face.

"You were in good business."

"It's a better business than stealing diamond rings," retorted
the landlady, recovering herself. "I've long suspected there was
something wrong about you and your husband, ma'am, and now I know
it. I don't want no thieves nor jail birds in my house, and the
sooner you pay your bill and leave, the better I'll like it."

"I'll leave as soon as you like, but I can't pay your bill."

"I dare say," retorted the landlady. "You're a nice character to
cheat an honest woman out of four weeks' board."

"Well, Paul, what news?" asked Barry.

"I am ready to buy your stand," said Paul.

"Can you pay me all the money down?"

"On the spot."

"Then it is all settled," said Barry, with satisfaction. "I am
glad of it, for now I shall be able to go on to Philadelphia

Paul drew a roll of bills from his pocket, and proceeded to count
out thirty-five dollars. Barry noticed with surprise that he had
a considerable amount left.

"You are getting rich, Paul," he said.

"I am not rich yet," answered Paul, "but I mean to be some time
if I can accomplish it by industry and attention to business."

"You'll be sure to succeed," said George Barry. "You're just the
right sort. Good-by, old fellow. When you come on to
Philadelphia come and see me."

"I may establish a branch stand in Philadelphia before long,"
said Paul, jocosely.



When Paul was left in charge of the stand, and realized that it
was his own, he felt a degree of satisfaction which can be
imagined. He had been a newsboy, a baggage-smasher, and in fact
had pretty much gone the round of the street trades, but now he
felt that he had advanced one step higher. Some of my readers
may not appreciate the difference, but to Paul it was a great
one. He was not a merchant prince, to be sure, but he had a
fixed place of business, and with his experience he felt
confident he could make it pay.

"I am sure I can make from ten to fifteen dollars a week," he
said to himself. "I averaged over a dollar a day when I worked
for George Barry, and then I only got half-profits. Now I shall
have the whole."

This consideration was a very agreeable one. He would be able to
maintain his mother and little Jimmy in greater comfort than
before, and this he cared more for than for any extra indulgences
for himself. In fact, he could relieve his mother entirely from
the necessity of working, and yet live better than at present.
When Paul thought of this, it gave him a thrill of satisfaction,
and made him feel almost like a man.

He set to work soliciting custom, and soon had sold three
neckties at twenty-five cents each.

"All that money is mine," he thought, proudly. "I haven't got to
hand any of it over to George Barry. That's a comfort."

As this thought occurred to him he recognized an old acquaintance
strolling along the sidewalk in his direction. It was no other
than Jim Parker, the friend and crony of Mike Donovan, who will
be remembered as figuring in not a very creditable way in the
earlier chapters of this story. It so happened that he and Paul
had not met for some time, and Jim was quite ignorant of Paul's
rise in life.

As for Jim himself, no great change had taken place in his
appearance or prospects. His suit was rather more ragged and
dirty than when we first made his acquaintance, having been worn
night and day in the streets, by night stretched out in some
dirty alley or out-of-the-way corner, where Jim found cheap
lodgings. He strolled along with his hands in his pockets, not
much concerned at the deficiencies in his costume.

"Hallo!" said he, stopping opposite Paul's stand. "What are you
up to?"

"You can see for yourself," answered Paul. "I am selling

"How long you've been at it?"

"Just begun."

"Who's your boss?"

"I haven't any."

"You ain't runnin' the stand yourself, be you?" asked Jim, in


"Where'd you borrow the stamps?"

"Of my mother," said Paul. "Can't I sell you a necktie this

"Not much," said Jim, laughing at the joke. "I've got my trunks
stuffed full of 'em at home, but I don't wear 'em only Sundays.
Do you make much money?"

"I expect to do pretty well."

"What made you give up sellin' prize packages?" asked Jim slyly.

"Customers like you," answered Paul.

Jim laughed.

"You didn't catch me that time you lost your basket," he said.

"That was a mean trick," said Paul, indignantly.

"You don't want to hire me to sell for you, do you?"

"That's where you're right. I don't."

"I'd like to go into the business."

"You'd better open a second-hand clothing store," suggested Paul,
glancing at his companion's ragged attire.

"Maybe I will," said Jim with a grin, "if you'll buy of me."

"I don't like the style," said Paul. "Who's your tailor?"

"He lives round in Chatham street. Say, can't you lend a fellow
a couple of shillin' to buy some breakfast?"

"Have you done any work to-day?"


"Then you can't expect to eat if you don't work."

"I didn't have no money to start with."

"Suppose you had a quarter, what would you do?"

"I'd buy a ten-cent plate of meat, and buy some evenin' papers
with the rest."

"If you'll do that, I'll give you what you ask for."

"You'll give me two shillin'?" repeated Jim, incredulously, for
he remembered how he had wronged Paul.

"Yes," said Paul. "Here's the money;" and he drew a
twenty-five-cent piece from his vest pocket, and handed it to

"You give me that after the mean trick I played you?" said Jim.

"Yes; I am sorry for you and want to help you along."

"You're a brick!" exclaimed Jim, emphatically. "If any feller
tries to play a trick on you, you just tell me, and I'll lam

"All right, Jim!" said Paul, kindly; "I'll remember it."

"There ain't anybody you want licked, is there?" asked Jim,

"Not at present, thank you," said Paul, smiling.

"When you do, I'm on hand," said Jim. "Now I'll go and get some

He shuffled along toward Ann street, where there was a cheap
eating-house, in which ten cents would pay for a plate of meat.
He was decidedly hungry, and did justice to the restaurant, whose
style of cookery, though not very choice, suited him so well that
he could readily have eaten three plates of meat instead of one,
but for the prudent thought that compelled him to reserve enough
to embark in business afterwards. Jim was certainly a hard
ticket; but Paul's unexpected kindness had won him, and produced
a more profound impression than a dozen floggings could have
done. I may add that Jim proved luck in his business investment,
and by the close of the afternoon had enough money to provide
himself with supper and lodging, besides a small fund to start
with the next day.

Paul sold three more neckties, and then, though it yet lacked an
hour of the time when he generally proposed to close, he prepared
to go home. He wanted to communicate the good news to his mother
and little Jimmy.

Mrs. Hoffman raised her eyes from her sewing as he entered.

"Well, Paul," she said, "have you heard anything of the ring?"

"Yes, mother, it's sold."

"Is it? Well, we must do without it, then," said his mother in a
tone of disappointment.

"There won't be any trouble about that, mother, as long as we
have got the money for it. I would rather have that than the

"Did you recover it, then?" asked his mother, eagerly.

"Yes, mother--listen and I will tell you all about it."

He sat down and told the story to two very attentive listeners.

"What did you do with the money, Paul?" asked Jimmy.

"Mr. Preston is keeping a hundred and fifty dollars for me. He
will allow seven per cent. interest. But I must not forget that
the money belongs to you, mother, and not to me. Perhaps you
would prefer to deposit it in a savings bank."

"I am quite satisfied with your disposal of it, Paul," said Mrs.
Hoffman. "I little thought, when I found the ring, that it would
be of such service to us."

"It has set me up in business," said Paul, "and I am sure to make
money. But I am getting out of stock. I must go round and buy
some more neckties to-morrow."

"How much do you pay for your ties, Paul?" asked his mother.

"One shilling; I sell them for two. That gives me a good

"I wonder whether I couldn't make them?" said Mrs. Hoffman. "I
find there is no sewing at present to be got, and, besides," she
added, "I think I would rather work for you than for a stranger."

"There is no need of your working, mother. I can earn enough to
support the family."

"While I have health I would prefer to work, Paul."

"Then I will bring round some of the ties to-morrow. I have two
or three kinds. There is nothing very hard about any of them. I
think they would be easy to make."

"That will suit me much better than making shirts."

"Suppose I admit you to the firm, mother? I can get a large
signboard, and have painted on it:
How would that sound?"

"I think I would leave the business part in your hands, Paul."

"I begin to feel like a wholesale merchant already," said Paul.
"Who knows but I may be one some day?"

"Many successful men have begun as low down," said his mother;
"with energy and industry much may be accomplished."

"Do you think I'll ever be a wholesale painter?" asked Jimmy,
whose small ears had drank in the conversation.

"Better try for it, Jimmy," said Paul. "I don't know exactly
what a wholesale painter is, unless it's one who paints houses."

"I shouldn't like that," said the little boy.

"Then, Jimmy, you'd better be a retail painter."

"I guess I will," said Jimmy, seriously.

Thus far we have accompanied Paul Hoffman in his career. He is
considerably better off than when we met him peddling prize
packages in front of the post office. But we have reason to
believe that greater success awaits him. He will figure in the
next two volumes of this series, more particularly in the second,
to be called "Slow and Sure; or, From the Sidewalk to the Shop."
Before this appears, however, I propose to describe the
adventures of a friend and protegee of Paul's--under the title of
[Which will be our next Etext, after the Unabridged Dictionary]

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