Author of

"Joe's Luck," "Frank Fowler, the Cash Boy,"
"Tom Temple's Career," "Tom Thatcher's Fortune,"
"Ragged Dick," "Tattered Tom," "Luck and Pluck,"
etc., etc.




Phil Brent was plodding through the snow
in the direction of the house where he lived
with his step-mother and her son, when a snow-ball,
moist and hard, struck him just below his ear with
stinging emphasis. The pain was considerable, and
Phil's anger rose.

He turned suddenly, his eyes flashing fiercely,
intent upon discovering who had committed this outrage,
for he had no doubt that it was intentional.

He looked in all directions, but saw no one except
a mild old gentleman in spectacles, who appeared to
have some difficulty in making his way through the
obstructed street.

Phil did not need to be told that it was not the
old gentleman who had taken such an unwarrantable
liberty with him. So he looked farther, but
his ears gave him the first clew.

He heard a chuckling laugh, which seemed to
proceed from behind the stone wall that ran along the

"I will see who it is," he decided, and plunging
through the snow he surmounted the wall, in time
to see a boy of about his own age running away
across the fields as fast as the deep snow would

"So it's you, Jonas!" he shouted wrathfully. "I
thought it was some sneaking fellow like you."

Jonas Webb, his step-brother, his freckled face
showing a degree of dismay, for he had not calculated
on discovery, ran the faster, but while fear
winged his steps, anger proved the more effectual
spur, and Phil overtook him after a brief run, from
the effects of which both boys panted.

"What made you throw that snow-ball?" demanded
Phil angrily, as he seized Jonas by the collar
and shook him.

"You let me alone!" said Jonas, struggling
ineffectually in his grasp.

"Answer me! What made you throw that snow-
ball?" demanded Phil, in a tone that showed he did
not intend to be trifled with.

"Because I chose to," answered Jonas, his spite
getting the better of his prudence. "Did it hurt
you?" he continued, his eyes gleaming with malice.

"I should think it might. It was about as hard
as a cannon-ball," returned Phil grimly. "Is that
all you've got to say about it?"

"I did it in fun," said Jonas, beginning to see that
he had need to be prudent.

"Very well! I don't like your idea of fun. Perhaps
you won't like mine," said Phil, as he forcibly
drew Jonas back till he lay upon the snow, and then
kneeling by his side, rubbed his face briskly with

"What are you doin'? Goin' to murder me?"
shrieked Jonas, in anger and dismay.

"I am going to wash your face," said Phil,
continuing the operation vigorously.

"I say, you quit that! I'll tell my mother,"
ejaculated Jonas, struggling furiously.

"If you do, tell her why I did it," said Phil.

Jonas shrieked and struggled, but in vain. Phil
gave his face an effectual scrubbing, and did not
desist until he thought he had avenged the bad
treatment he had suffered.

"There, get up!" said he at length.

Jonas scrambled to his feet, his mean features
working convulsively with anger.

"You'll suffer for this!" he shouted.

"You won't make me!" said Phil contemptuously.

"You're the meanest boy in the village."

"I am willing to leave that to the opinion of all
who know me."

"I'll tell my mother!"

"Go home and tell her!"

Jonas started for home, and Phil did not attempt
to stop him.

As he saw Jonas reach the street and plod angrily
homeward, he said to himself:

"I suppose I shall be in hot water for this; but I
can't help it. Mrs. Brent always stands up for her
precious son, who is as like her as can be. Well, it
won't make matters much worse than they have

Phil concluded not to go home at once, but to
allow a little time for the storm to spend its force
after Jonas had told his story. So he delayed half
an hour and then walked slowly up to the side door.
He opened the door, brushed off the snow from his
boots with the broom that stood behind the
door, and opening the inner door, stepped into the

No one was there, as Phil's first glance satisfied
him, and he was disposed to hope that Mrs. Brent--
he never called her mother--was out, but a thin,
acid, measured voice from the sitting-room adjoining
soon satisfied him that there was to be no reprieve.

"Philip Brent, come here!"

Phil entered the sitting-room.

In a rocking-chair by the fire sat a thin woman,
with a sharp visage, cold eyes and firmly compressed
lips, to whom no child would voluntarily
draw near.

On a sofa lay outstretched the hulking form of
Jonas, with whom he had had his little difficulty.

"I am here, Mrs. Brent," said Philip manfully.

"Philip Brent," said Mrs. Brent acidly, "are you
not ashamed to look me in the face?"

"I don't know why I should be," said Philip,
bracing himself up for the attack.

"You see on the sofa the victim of your brutality,"
continued Mrs. Brent, pointing to the recumbent
figure of her son Jonas.

Jonas, as if to emphasize these words, uttered a
half groan.

Philip could not help smiling, for to him it seemed

"You laugh," said his step-mother sharply. "I
am not surprised at it. You delight in your brutality."

"I suppose you mean that I have treated Jonas

"I see you confess it."

"No, Mrs. Brent, I do not confess it. The brutality
you speak of was all on the side of Jonas."

"No doubt," retorted Mrs. Brent, with sarcasm.

"It's the case of the wolf and the lamb over again."

"I don't think Jonas has represented the matter
to you as it happened," said Phil. "Did he tell you
that he flung a snow-ball at my head as hard as a
lump of ice?"

"He said he threw a little snow at you playfully
and you sprang upon him like a tiger."

"There's a little mistake in that," said Phil. "The
snow-ball was hard enough to stun me if it had hit
me a little higher. I wouldn't be hit like that again
for ten dollars."

"That ain't so! Don't believe him, mother!" said
Jonas from the sofa.

"And what did you do?" demanded Mrs. Brent
with a frown.

"I laid him down on the snow and washed his face
with soft snow."

"You might have given him his death of cold,"
said Mrs. Brent, with evident hostility. "I am not
sure but the poor boy will have pneumonia now, in
consequence of your brutal treatment."

"And you have nothing to say as to his attack
upon me?" said Phil indignantly.

"I have no doubt you have very much exaggerated it."

"Yes, he has," chimed in Jonas from the sofa.

Phil regarded his step-brother with scorn.

"Can't you tell the truth now and then, Jonas?"
he asked contemptuously.

"You shall not insult my boy in my presence!"
said Mrs. Brent, with a little spot of color mantling
her high cheek-bones. "Philip Brent, I have too
long endured your insolence. You think because I
am a woman you can be insolent with impunity, but
you will find yourself mistaken. It is time that you
understood something that may lead you to lower
your tone. Learn, then, that you have not a cent of
your own. You are wholly dependent upon my

"What! Did my father leave you all his money?"
asked Philip.

"He was NOT your father!" answered Mrs. Brent



Philip started in irrepressible astonishment as
these words fell from the lips of his step-mother.
It seemed to him as if the earth were crumbling
beneath his feet, for he had felt no more certain of the
existence of the universe than of his being the son
of Gerald Brent.

He was not the only person amazed at this
declaration. Jonas, forgetting for the moment the part
he was playing, sat bolt upright on the sofa, with his
large mouth wide open, staring by turns at Philip
and his mother.

"Gosh!" he exclaimed in a tone indicating utter
surprise and bewilderment.

"Will you repeat that, Mrs. Brent?" asked Philip,
after a brief pause, not certain that he had heard

"I spoke plain English, I believe," said Mrs. Brent
coldly, enjoying the effect of her communication.

"I said that Mr. Brent, my late husband, was not
your father."

"I don't believe you!" burst forth Philip impetuously.

"You don't wish to believe me, you mean,"
answered his step-mother, unmoved.

"No, I don't wish to believe you," said the boy,
looking her in the eye.

"You are very polite to doubt a lady's word," said
Mrs. Brent with sarcasm.

"In such a matter as that I believe no one's
word," said Phil. "I ask for proof."

"Well, I am prepared to satisfy you. Sit down
and I will tell you the story."

Philip sat down on the nearest chair and regarded
his step-mother fixedly.

"Whose son am I," he demanded, "if not Mr.

"You are getting on too fast. Jonas," continued
his mother, suddenly turning to her hulking son, on
whose not very intelligent countenance there was
an expression of greedy curiosity, "do you understand
that what I am going to say is to be a secret,
not to be spoken of to any one?"

"Yes'm," answered Jonas readily.

"Very well. Now to proceed. Philip, you have
heard probably that when you were very small your
father--I mean Mr. Brent--lived in a small town in
Ohio, called Fultonville?"

"Yes, I have heard him say so."

"Do you remember in what business he was then

"He kept a hotel."

"Yes; a small hotel, but as large as the place
required. He was not troubled by many guests. The
few who stopped at his house were business men
from towns near by, or drummers from the great
cities, who had occasion to stay over a night. One
evening, however, a gentleman arrived with an
unusual companion--in other words, a boy of about
three years of age. The boy had a bad cold, and
seemed to need womanly care. Mr. Brent's

"My mother?"

"The woman you were taught to call mother,"
corrected the second Mrs. Brent, "felt compassion
for the child, and volunteered to take care of it for
the night. The offer was gladly accepted, and you--
for, of course, you were the child--were taken into
Mrs. Brent's own room, treated with simple remedies,
and in the morning seemed much better. Your
father--your real father--seemed quite gratified,
and preferred a request. It was that your new
friend would take care of you for a week while he
traveled to Cincinnati on business. After dispatching
this, he promised to return and resume the care
of you, paying well for the favor done him. Mrs.
Brent, my predecessor, being naturally fond of
children, readily agreed to this proposal, and the child
was left behind, while the father started for Cincinnati."

Here Mrs. Brent paused, and Philip regarded her
with doubt and suspense

"Well?" he said.

"Oh, you want to know the rest?" said Mrs. Brent
with an ironical smile. "You are interested in the

"Yes, madam, whether it is true or not."

"There isn't much more to tell," said Mrs. Brent.

"A week passed. You recovered from your cold,
and became as lively as ever. In fact, you seemed
to feel quite at home among your new surroundings,
which was rather unfortunate, FOR YOUR FATHER NEVER

"Never came back!" repeated Philip.

"No; nor was anything heard from him. Mr.
and Mrs. Brent came to the conclusion that the
whole thing was prearranged to get rid of you.
Luckily for you, they had become attached to you,
and, having no children of their own, decided to
retain you. Of course, some story had to be told to
satisfy the villagers. You were represented to be
the son of a friend, and this was readily believed.
When, however, my late husband left Ohio, and
traveled some hundreds of miles eastward to this
place, he dropped this explanation and represented
you as his own son. Romantic, wasn't it?"

Philip looked searchingly at the face of his step-
mother, or the woman whom he had regarded as
such, but he could read nothing to contradict the
story in her calm, impassive countenance. A great
fear fell upon him that she might be telling the
truth. His features showed his contending
emotions. But he had a profound distrust as well as
dislike of his step-mother, and he could not bring
himself to put confidence in what she told him.

"What proof is there of this?" he asked, after a

"Your father's word. I mean, of course, Mr.
Brent's word. He told me this story before I married
him, feeling that I had a right to know."

"Why didn't he tell me?" asked Philip incredulously.

"He thought it would make you unhappy."

"You didn't mind that," said Philip, his lips curling.

"No," answered Mrs. Brent, with a curious smile.
"Why should I? I never pretended to like you, and
now I have less cause than ever, after your brutal
treatment of my boy."

Jonas endeavored to look injured, but could not at
once change the expression of his countenance.

"Your explanation is quite satisfactory, Mrs.
Brent," returned Philip. "I don't think I stood
much higher in your estimation yesterday than today,
so that I haven't lost much. But you haven't
given me any proof yet."

"Wait a minute."

Mrs. Brent left the room, went up-stairs, and
speedily returned, bringing with her a small
daguerreotype, representing a boy of three years.

"Did you ever see this before?" she asked.

"No," answered Philip, taking it from her hand
and eying it curiously.

"When Mr. and Mrs. Brent decided that you were
to be left on their hands," she proceeded, "they had
this picture of you taken in the same dress in which
you came to them, with a view to establish your
identity if at any time afterward inquiry should be
made for you."

The daguerreotype represented a bright, handsome
child, dressed tastefully, and more as would be
expected of a city child than of one born in the
country. There was enough resemblance to Philip
as he looked now to convince him that it was really
his picture.

"I have something more to show you," said Mrs.

She produced a piece of white paper in which the
daguerreotype had been folded. Upon it was some
writing, and Philip readily recognized the hand of
the man whom he had regarded as his father.

He read these lines:

"This is the picture of the boy who was
mysteriously left in the charge of Mr. Brent, April, 1863,
and never reclaimed. l have reared him as my own
son, but think it best to enter this record of the way
in which he came into my hands, and to preserve by
the help of art his appearance at the time he first
came to us. GERALD BRENT."

"Do you recognize this handwriting?" asked Mrs.

"Yes," answered Philip in a dazed tone.

"Perhaps," she said triumphantly, "you will
doubt my word now."

"May I have this picture?" asked Philip, without
answering her.

"Yes; you have as good a claim to it as any one."

"And the paper?"

"The paper I prefer to keep myself," said Mrs.
Brent, nodding her head suspiciously. "I don't
care to have my only proof destroyed."

Philip did not seem to take her meaning, but with
the daguerreotype in his hand, he left the room.

"I say, mother," chuckled Jonas, his freckled face
showing his enjoyment, "it's a good joke on Phil,
isn't it?" I guess he won't be quite so uppish after



When Phil left the presence of Mrs. Brent, he
felt as if he had been suddenly transported
to a new world. He was no longer Philip Brent,
and the worst of it was that he did not know who he
was. In his tumultuous state of feeling, however,
one thing seemed clear--his prospects were wholly
changed, and his plans for the future also. Mrs. Brent
had told him that he was wholly dependent upon
her. Well, he did not intend to remain so. His home
had not been pleasant at the best. As a dependent
upon the bounty of such a woman it would be worse.
He resolved to leave home and strike out for himself,
not from any such foolish idea of independence as
sometimes leads boys to desert a good home for an
uncertain skirmish with the world, but simply be
cause he felt now that he had no real home.

To begin with he would need money, and on opening
his pocket-book he ascertained that his available
funds consisted of only a dollar and thirty-seven
cents. That wasn't quite enough to begin the world
with. But he had other resources. He owned a gun,
which a friend of his would be ready to take off his
hands. He had a boat, also, which he could
probably sell.

On the village street he met Reuben Gordon, a
young journeyman carpenter, who was earning good
wages, and had money to spare.

"How are you, Phil," said Reuben in a friendly

"You are just the one I want to meet," said Phil
earnestly. "Didn't you tell me once you would like
to buy my gun?"

"Yes. Want to sell it?"

"No, I don't; but I want the money it will bring.
So I'll sell it if you'll buy."

"What d'ye want for it?" asked Reuben cautiously.

"Six dollars."

"Too much. I'll give five."

"You can have it," said Phil after a pause. "How
soon can you let me have the money?"

"Bring the gun round to-night, and I'll pay you
for it."

"All right. Do you know of any one who wants
to buy a boat?"

"What? Going to sell that, too?"


"Seems to me you're closin' up business?" said
Reuben shrewdly.

"So I am. I'm going to leave Planktown."

"You don't say? Well, I declare! Where are
you goin'?"

"To New York, I guess."

"Got any prospect there?"


This was not, perhaps, strictly true--that is, Phil
had no definite prospect, but he felt that there must
be a chance in a large city like New York for any
one who was willing to work, and so felt measurably
justified in saying what he did.

"I hadn't thought of buyin' a boat," said Reuben

Phil pricked up his ears at the hint of a possible

"You'd better buy mine," he said quickly; "I'll
sell it cheap."

"How cheap?"

"Ten dollars."

"That's too much."

"It cost me fifteen."

"But it's second-hand now, you know," said Reuben.

"It's just as good as new. I'm taking off five
dollars, though, you see."

"I don't think I want it enough to pay ten dollars."

"What will you give?"

Reuben finally agreed to pay seven dollars and
seventy-five cents, after more or less bargaining, and
to pay the money that evening upon delivery of the

"I don't think I've got anything more to sell," said
Phil thoughtfully. "There's my skates, but they
are not very good. I'll give them to Tommy Kavanagh.
He can't afford to buy a pair."

Tommy was the son of a poor widow, and was very
much pleased with the gift, which Phil conveyed to
him just before supper.

Just after supper he took his gun and the key of
his boat over to Reuben Gordon, who thereupon
gave him the money agreed upon.

"Shall I tell Mrs. Brent I am going away?" Phil
said to himself, "or shall I leave a note for her?"

He decided to announce his resolve in person. To
do otherwise would seem too much like running
away, and that he had too much self-respect to do.

So in the evening, after his return from Reuben
Gordon's, he said to Mrs. Brent:

"I think I ought to tell you that I'm going away

Mrs. Brent looked up from her work, and her cold
gray eyes surveyed Phil with curious scrutiny.

"You are going away!" she replied. "Where are
you going?"

"I think I shall go to New York."

"What for?"

"Seek my fortune, as so many have done before

"They didn't always find it!" said Mrs. Brent
with a cold sneer. "Is there any other reason?"

"Yes; it's chiefly on account of what you told me
yesterday. You said that I was dependent upon

"So you are."

"And that I wasn't even entitled to the name of

"Yes, I said it, and it's true."

"Well," said Phil, "I don't want to be dependent
upon you. I prefer to earn my own living."

"I am not prepared to say but that you are right.
But do you know what the neighbors will say?"

"What will they say?"

"That I drove you from home."

"It won't be true. I don't pretend to enjoy my
home, but I suppose I can stay on here if I like?"

"Yes, you can stay."

"You don't object to my going?"

"No, if it is understood that you go of your own

"I am willing enough to take the blame of it, if
there is any blame."

"Very well; get a sheet of note-paper, and write
at my direction."

Phil took a sheet of note-paper from his father's
desk, and sat down to comply with Mrs. Brent's request.

She dictated as follows:

"I leave home at my own wish, but with the consent
of Mrs. Brent, to seek my fortune. It is wholly
my own idea, and I hold no one else responsible.

"You may as well keep the name of Brent," said
his step-mother, "as you have no other that you know

Phil winced at those cold words. It was not
pleasant to reflect that this was so, and that he was
wholly ignorant of his parentage.

"One thing more," said Mrs. Brent. "It is only
eight o'clock. I should like to have you go out and
call upon some of those with whom you are most
intimate, and tell them that you are leaving home

"I will," answered Phil.

"Perhaps you would prefer to do so to-morrow."

"No; I am going away to-morrow morning."

"Very well."

"Going away to-morrow morning?" repeated
Jonas, who entered the room at that moment.

Phil's plan was briefly disclosed.

"Then give me your skates," said Jonas.

"I can't. I've given them to Tommy Kavanagh."

"That's mean. You might have thought of me
first," grumbled Jonas.

"I don't know why. Tommy Kavanagh is my
friend and you are not."

"Anyway, you can let me have your boat and

"I have sold them."

"That's too bad."

"I don't know why you should expect them. I
needed the money they brought me to pay my expenses
till I get work."

"I will pay your expenses to New York if you
wish," said Mrs. Brent.

"Thank you; but I shall have money enough,"
answered Phil, who shrank from receiving any favor
at the hands of Mrs. Brent.

"As you please, but you will do me the justice to
remember that I offered it."

"Thank you. I shall not forget it."

That evening, just before going to bed, Mrs.
Brent opened a trunk and drew from it a folded

She read as follows--for it was her husband's

"To the boy generally known as Philip Brent,
and supposed, though incorrectly, to be my son, I
bequeath the sum of five thousand dollars, and direct
the same to be paid over to any one whom he may
select as guardian, to hold in trust for him till he
attains the age of twenty-one."

"He need never know of this," said Mrs. Brent to
herself in a low tone. "I will save it for Jonas."

She held the paper a moment, as if undecided
whether to destroy it, but finally put it carefully
back in the secret hiding-place from which she had
taken it.

"He is leaving home of his own accord," she
whispered. "Henceforth he will probably keep
away. That suits me well. but no one can say I
drove him to it."



Six months before it might have cost Philip a
pang to leave home. Then his father was living,
and from him the boy had never received aught
but kindness. Even his step-mother, though she
secretly disliked him, did not venture to show it,
and secure in the affections of his supposed father,
he did not trouble himself as to whether Mrs. Brent
liked him or not. As for Jonas, he was cautioned
by his mother not to get himself into trouble by
treating Phil badly, and the boy, who knew on
which side his interests lay, faithfully obeyed. It
was only after the death of Mr. Brent that both
Jonas and his mother changed their course, and
thought it safe to snub Philip.

Planktown was seventy-five miles distant from
New York, and the fare was two dollars and a quarter.

This was rather a large sum to pay, considering
Phil's scanty fund, but he wished to get to the great
city as soon as possible, and he decided that it would
be actually cheaper to ride than to walk, considering
that he would have to buy his meals on the way.

He took his seat in the cars, placing a valise full
of underclothes on the seat next him. The train was
not very full, and the seat beside him did not appear
to be required.

Mile after mile they sped on the way, and Phil
looked from the window with interest at the towns
through which they passed. There are very few
boys of his age--sixteen--who do not like to travel
in the cars. Limited as were his means, and uncertain
as were his prospects, Phil felt not only cheerful,
but actually buoyant, as every minute took him
farther away from Planktown, and so nearer the
city where he hoped to make a living at the outset,
and perhaps his fortune in the end.

Presently--perhaps half way on--a young man,
rather stylishly dressed, came into the car. It was
not at a station, and therefore it seemed clear that
he came from another car.

He halted when he reached the seat which Phil

Our hero, observing that his glance rested on his
valise, politely removed it, saying:

"Would you like to sit down here, sir?"

"Yes, thank you," answered the young man, and
sank into the seat beside Phil.

"Sorry to inconvenience you," he said, with a
glance at the bag.

"Oh, not at all," returned Phil. "I only put the
valise on the seat till it was wanted by some passenger."

"You are more considerate than some passengers,"
observed the young man. "In the next car is a
woman, an elderly party, who is taking up three extra
seats to accommodate her bags and boxes."

"That seems rather selfish," remarked Phil.

"Selfish! I should say so. I paused a minute at
her seat as I passed along, and she was terribly
afraid I wanted to sit down. She didn't offer to
move anything, though, as you have. I stopped
long enough to make her feel uncomfortable, and
then passed on. I don't think I have fared any the
worse for doing so. I would rather sit beside you
than her."

"Am I to consider that a compliment?" asked Phil,

"Well, yes, if you choose. Not that it is saying
much to call you more agreeable company than the
old party alluded to. Are you going to New York?"

"Yes, sir."

"Live there?"

"I expect to live there."

"Brought up in the country, perhaps?"

"Yes, in Planktown."

"Oh, Planktown! I've heard it's a nice place, but
never visited it. Got any folks?"

Phil hesitated. In the light of the revelation that
had been made to him by Mrs. Brent, he did not
know how to answer. However, there was no call
to answer definitely.

"Not many," he said.

"Goin' to school in New York?"


"To college, perhaps. I've got a cousin in
Columbia College."

"I wish I knew enough to go to college," said
Phil; "but I only know a little Latin, and no Greek
at all."

"Well, I never cared much about Latin or Greek,
myself. I presume you are thinking about a business

"Yes, I shall try to get a place."

"You may find a little time necessary to find one.
However, you are, no doubt, able to pay your board
for awhile."

"For a short time," said Phil.

"Well, I may be able to help you to a place. I
know a good many prominent business men."

"I should be grateful to you for any help of that
kind," said Phil, deciding that he was in luck to
meet with such a friend.

"Don't mention it. I have had to struggle
myself--in earlier days--though at present I am well
fixed. What is your name?"

"Philip Brent."

"Good! My name is Lionel Lake. Sorry I haven't
got any cards. Perhaps I may have one in my
pocket-book. Let me see!"

Mr. Lake opened his porte-monnaie and uttered a
exclamation of surprise.

"By Jove!" he said, "I am in a fix."

Phil looked at him inquiringly.

"I took out a roll of bills at the house of my aunt,
where I stayed last night," explained Mr. Lake, "and
must have neglected to replace them."

"I hope you have not lost them," said Phil

"Oh, no; my aunt will find them and take care of
them for me, so that I shall get them back. The
trouble is that I am left temporarily without funds."

"But you can get money in the city," suggested

"No doubt; only it is necessary for me to stay
over a train ten miles short of the city."

Mr. Lionel Lake seemed very much perplexed.

"If I knew some one in the cars," he said

It did occur to Phil to offer to loan him
something, but the scantiness of his own resources warned
him that it would not be prudent, so he remained

Finally Mr. Lake appeared to have an idea.

"Have you got five dollars, Philip?" he said

"Yes, sir," answered Philip slowly.

"Then I'll make a proposal. Lend it to me and I
will give you this ring as security. It is worth
twenty-five dollars easily.

He drew from his vest-pocket a neat gold ring,
with some sort of a stone in the setting.

"There!" said Mr. Lake, "I'll give you this ring
and my address, and you can bring it to my office
to-morrow morning. I'll give you back the five
dollars and one dollar for the accommodation. That's
good interest, isn't it?"

"But I might keep the ring and sell it," suggested

"Oh, I am not afraid. You look honest. I will
trust you," said the young man, in a careless, off-
hand manner. "Say, is it a bargain?"

"Yes," answered Phil.

It occurred to him that he could not earn a dollar
more easily. Besides, he would be doing a favor to
this very polite young man.

"All right, then!"

Five dollars of Phil's scanty hoard was handed
to Mr. Lake, who, in return, gave Phil the ring,
which he put on his finger.

He also handed Phil a scrap of paper, on which he

"LIONEL LAKE, No. 237 Broadway."

"I'm ever so much obliged," he said. "Good-by.
I get out at the next station."

Phil was congratulating himself on his good stroke
of business, when the conductor entered the car,
followed by a young lady. When they came to where
Phil was seated, the young lady said:

"That is my ring on that boy's finger?"

"Aha! we've found the thief, then!" said the
conductor. "Boy, give up the ring you stole from this
young lady!"

As he spoke he placed his hand on Phil's shoulder.

"Stole!" repeated Phil, gasping. "I don't
understand you."

"Oh, yes, you do!" said the conductor roughly.



No matter how honest a boy may be, a sudden
charge of theft is likely to make him
look confused and guilty.

Such was the case with Phil.

"I assure you," he said earnestly, "that I did not
steal this ring."

"Where did you get it, then?" demanded the
conductor roughly.

He was one of those men who, in any position,
will make themselves disagreeable. Moreover, he
was a man who always thought ill of others, when
there was any chance of doing so. In fact, he preferred
to credit his fellows with bad qualities rather
than with good.

"It was handed me by a young man who just
left the car," said Phil.

"That's a likely story," sneered the conductor.

"Young men are not in the habit of giving
valuable rings to strangers."

"He did not give it to me, I advanced him five
dollars on it."

"What was the young man's name?" asked the
conductor incredulously.

"There's his name and address," answered Phil,
drawing from his pocket the paper handed him by
Mr. Lake.

"Lionel Lake, 237 Broadway," repeated the
conductor. "If there is any such person, which I very
much doubt, you are probably a confederate of his."

"You have no right to say this," returned Phil

"I haven't, haven't I?" snapped the conductor.

"Do you know what I am going to do with you?"

"If you wish me to return the ring to this young
lady, I will do so, if she is positive it is hers."

"Yes, you must do that, but it won't get you out
of trouble. I shall hand you over to a policeman as
soon as we reach New York."

Phil was certainly dismayed, for he felt that it
might be difficult for him to prove that he came
honestly in possession of the ring.

"The fact is," added the conductor, "your story
is too thin."

"Conductor," said a new voice, "you are doing
the boy an injustice."

The speaker was an old man with gray hair, but
of form still robust, though he was at least sixty
five. He sat in the seat just behind Phil.

"Thank you, sir," said Phil gratefully.

"I understand my business," said the conductor
impertinently, "and don't need any instructions
from you."

"Young man," said the old gentleman, in a very
dignified tone, "I have usually found officials of
your class polite and gentlemanly, but you are an

"Who are you?" asked the conductor rudely.
"What right have you to put in your oar?"

"As to who I am, I will answer you by and by.
In reference to the boy, I have to say that his story
is correct. I heard the whole conversation between
him and the young man from whom he received the
ring, and I can testify that he has told the truth."

"At any rate he has received stolen property."

"Not knowing it to be stolen. The young man
was an entire stranger to him, and though I
suspected that he was an unscrupulous adventurer, the
boy has not had experience enough to judge men."

"Very well. If he's innocent he can prove it
when he's brought to trial," said the conductor.
"As for you, sir, it's none of your business."

"Young man, you asked me a short time since
who I am. Do you want to know?"

"I am not very particular."

"Then, sir, I have to inform you that I am Richard
Grant, the president of this road."

The conductor's face was a curious and interesting
study when he heard this announcement. He knew
that the old man whom he had insulted had a right
to discharge him from his position, and bully as he
had shown himself, he was now inclined to humble
himself to save his place.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said in a composed
tone. "If I had known who you were I wouldn't
have spoken as I did."

"I had a claim to be treated like a gentleman,
even if I had no connection with the road," he said.

"If you say the boy's all right, I won't interfere
with him," continued the conductor.

"My testimony would clear him from any charge
that might be brought against him," said the
president. "I saw him enter the car, and know he has
had no opportunity to take the ring."

"If he'll give me back the ring, that's all I want,"
said the young lady.

"That I am willing to do, though I lose five
dollars by it," said Philip.

"Do so, my boy," said the president. "I take it
for granted that the young lady's claim is a just

Upon this Philip drew the ring from his finger
and handed it to the young lady, who went back to
the car where her friends were sitting.

"I hope, sir," said the conductor anxiously, "that
you won't be prejudiced against me on account of
this affair."

"I am sorry to say that I can't help feeling
prejudiced against you," returned the president dryly;
"but I won't allow this feeling to injure you if, upon
inquiring, I find that you are otherwise an efficient

"Thank you, sir."

"I am glad that my presence has saved this boy
from being the victim of an injustice. Let this be a
lesson to you in future."

The conductor walked away, looking quite chop-
fallen, and Philip turned to his new friend.

"I am very much indebted to you, sir," he said.
"But for you I should have found myself in serious

"I am glad to have prevented an injustice, my lad.
I am sorry I could not save you from loss also. That
enterprising rogue has gone off with five dollars
belonging to you. I hope the loss will not be a serious
one to you."

"It was more than a third part of my capital, sir,"
said Phil, rather ruefully.

"I am sorry for that. I suppose, however, you
are not dependent upon your own resources?"

"Yes, sir, I am."

"Have you no parents, then?" asked Mr. Grant,
with interest.

"No, sir; that is, I have a step-mother."

"And what are your plans, if you are willing to
tell me?"

"I am going to New York to try to make a

"I cannot commend your plan, my young friend,
unless there is a good reason for it."

"I think there is a good reason for it, sir."

"I hope you have not run away from home?"

"No, sir; I left home with my step-mother's
knowledge and consent."

"That is well. I don't want wholly to discourage
you, and so I will tell you that I, too, came to New
York at your age with the same object in view, with
less money in my pocket than you possess."

"And now you are the president of a railroad!"
said Phil hopefully.

"Yes; but I had a hard struggle before I reached
that position."

"I am not afraid of hard work, sir."

"That is in your favor. Perhaps you may be as
lucky as I have been. You may call at my office in
the city, if you feel inclined."

As Mr. Grant spoke he put in Phil's hand a card
bearing his name and address, in Wall Street.

"Thank you, sir," said Phil gratefully. "I shall
be glad to call. I may need advice."

"If you seek advice and follow it you will be an
exception to the general rule," said the president,
smiling. "One thing more--you have met with a
loss which, to you, is a serious one. Allow me to
bear it, and accept this bill."

"But, sir, it is not right that you should bear it,"
commenced Phil. Then, looking at the bill, he said:
"Haven't you made a mistake? This is a TEN-dollar

"I know it. Accept the other five as an evidence
of my interest in you. By the way, I go to
Philadelphia and Washington before my return to New
York, and shall not return for three or four days.
After that time you will find me at my office.

"I am in luck after all," thought Phil cheerfully,
"in spite of the mean trick of Mr. Lionel Lake."



So Phil reached New York in very fair spirits.
He found himself, thanks to the liberality of
Mr. Grant, in a better financial position than when
he left home.

As he left the depot and found himself in the
streets of New York, he felt like a stranger upon
the threshold of a new life. He knew almost nothing
about the great city he had entered, and was at
a loss where to seek for lodgings.

"It's a cold day," said a sociable voice at his elbow.

Looking around, Phil saw that the speaker was a
sallow-complexioned young man, with black hair and
mustache, a loose black felt hat, crushed at the
crown, giving him rather a rakish look.

"Yes, sir," answered Phil politely.

"Stranger in the city, I expect?"

"Yes, sir."

"Never mind the sir. I ain't used to ceremony.
I am Signor Orlando."

"Signor Orlando!" repeated Phil, rather puzzled.

"Are you an Italian?"

"Well, yes," returned Signor Orlando, with a
wink, "that's what I am, or what people think me;
but I was born in Vermont, and am half Irish and
half Yankee."

"How did you come by your name, then?"

"I took it," answered his companion. "You see,
dear boy, I'm a professional."

"A what?"

"A professional--singer and clog-dancer. I
believe I am pretty well known to the public,"
continued Signor Orlando complacently. "Last
summer I traveled with Jenks & Brown's circus. Of
course you've heard of THEM. Through the winter
I am employed at Bowerman's Varieties, in the Bowery.
I appear every night, and at two matinees

It must be confessed that Phil was considerably
impressed by the professional character of Signor
Orlando. He had never met an actor, or public
performer of any description, and was disposed to have
a high respect for a man who filled such a conspicuous
position. There was not, to be sure, anything
very impressive about Signor Orlando's appearance.
His face did not indicate talent, and his dress was
shabby. But for all that he was a man familiar with
the public--a man of gifts.

"I should like to see you on the stage," said Phil

"So you shall, my dear boy--so you shall. I'll get
you a pass from Mr. Bowerman. Which way are
you going?"

"I don't know," answered Phil, puzzled. "I
should like to find a cheap boarding-house, but I don't
know the city."

"I do," answered Signor Orlando promptly. "Why
not come to my house?"

"Have you a house?"

"I mean my boarding-house. It's some distance
away. Suppose we take a horse-car?"

"All right!" answered Phil, relieved to find a
guide in the labyrinth of the great city.

"I live on Fifth Street, near the Bowery--a very
convenient location," said Orlando, if we may take
the liberty to call him thus.

"Fifth Avenue?" asked Phil, who did not know
the difference.

"Oh, no; that's a peg above my style. I am not a
Vanderbilt, nor yet an Astor."

"Is the price moderate?" asked Phil anxiously.
"I must make my money last as long as I can, for I
don't know when I shall get a place."

"To be sure. You might room with me, only I've
got a hall bedroom. Perhaps we might manage it,

"I think I should prefer a room by myself," said
Phil, who reflected that Signor Orlando was a
stranger as yet.

"Oh, well, I'll speak to the old lady, and I guess
she can accommodate you with a hall bedroom like
mine on the third floor."

"What should I have to pay?"

"A dollar and a quarter a week, and you can get
your meals where you please."

"I think that will suit me," said Phil thoughtfully.

After leaving the car, a minute's walk brought
them to a shabby three-story house of brick. There
was a stable opposite, and a group of dirty children
were playing in front of it.

"This is where I hang out," said Signor Orlando
cheerfully. "As the poet says, there is no place like

If this had been true it was not much to be regretted,
since the home in question was far from attractive.

Signor Orlando rang the bell, and a stout woman
of German aspect answered the call.

"So you haf come back, Herr Orlando," said this
lady. "I hope you haf brought them two weeks'
rent you owe me."

"All in good time, Mrs. Schlessinger," said
Orlando. "But you see I have brought some one with

"Is he your bruder now?" asked the lady.

"No, he is not, unfortunately for me. His name

Orlando coughed.

"Philip Brent," suggested our hero.

"Just so--Philip Brent."

"I am glad to see Mr. Prent," said the landlady.

"And is he an actor like you, Signor Orlando?"

"Not yet. We don't know what may happen.
But he comes on business, Mrs. Schlessinger. He
wants a room."

The landlady brightened up. She had two rooms
vacant, and a new lodger was a godsend.

"I vill show Mr. Prent what rooms I haf," she
said. "Come up-stairs, Mr. Prent."

The good woman toiled up the staircase panting,
for she was asthmatic, and Phil followed. The
interior of the house was as dingy as the exterior,
and it was quite dark on the second landing.

She threw open the door of a back room, which,
being lower than the hall, was reached by a step.

"There!" said she, pointing to the faded carpet,
rumpled bed, and cheap pine bureau, with the little
six-by-ten looking-glass surmounting it. "This is a
peautiful room for a single gentleman, or even for a
man and his wife."

"My friend, Mr. Brent, is not married," said
Signor Orlando waggishly.

Phil laughed.

"You will have your shoke, Signor Orlando," said
Mrs. Schlessinger.

"What is the price of this room?" asked Phil.

"Three dollars a week, Mr. Prent, I ought to
have four, but since you are a steady young gentleman----"

"How does she know that?" Phil wondered.

"Since you are a steady young gentleman, and a
friend of Signor Orlando, I will not ask you full

"That is more than I can afford to pay," said
Phil, shaking his head.

"I think you had better show Mr. Brent the hall
bedroom over mine," suggested the signor.

Mrs. Schlessinger toiled up another staircase, the
two new acquaintances following her. She threw
open the door of one of those depressing cells known
in New York as a hall bedroom. It was about five
feet wide and eight feet long, and was nearly filled
up by a cheap bedstead, covered by a bed about two
inches thick, and surmounted at the head by a
consumptive-looking pillow. The paper was torn from
the walls in places. There was one rickety chair,
and a wash-stand which bore marks of extreme antiquity.

"This is a very neat room for a single gentleman,"
remarked Mrs. Schlessinger.

Phil's spirits fell as he surveyed what was to be
his future home. It was a sad contrast to his neat,
comfortable room at home.

"Is this room like yours, Signor Orlando?" he
asked faintly.

"As like as two peas," answered Orlando.

"Would you recommend me to take it?"

"You couldn't do better."

How could the signor answer otherwise in
presence of a landlady to whom he owed two weeks'

"Then," said Phil, with a secret shudder, "I'll
take it if the rent is satisfactory."

"A dollar and a quarter a week," said Mrs.
Schlessinger promptly.

"I'll take it for a week."

"You won't mind paying in advance?" suggested
the landlady. "I pay my own rent in advance."

Phil's answer was to draw a dollar and a quarter
from his purse and pass it to his landlady.

"I'll take possession now," said our hero. "Can
I have some water to wash my face?"

Mrs. Schlessinger was evidently surprised that
any one should want to wash in the middle of the
day, but made no objections.

When Phil had washed his face and hands, he
went out with Signor Orlando to dine at a restaurant
on the Bowery.



The restaurant to which he was taken by
Signor Orlando was thronged with patrons, for
it was one o'clock. On the whole, they did not
appear to belong to the highest social rank, though
they were doubtless respectable. The table-cloths
were generally soiled, and the waiters had a greasy
look. Phil said nothing, but he did not feel quite so
hungry as before he entered.

The signor found two places at one of the tables,
and they sat down. Phil examined a greasy bill of
fare and found that he could obtain a plate of meat
for ten cents. This included bread and butter, and
a dish of mashed potato. A cup of tea would be
five cents additional.

"I can afford fifteen cents for a meal," he thought,
and called for a plate of roast beef.

"Corn beef and cabbage for me," said the signor.

"It's very filling," he remarked aside to Phil.

"They won't give you but a mouthful of beef."

So it proved, but the quality was such that Phil
did not care for more. He ordered a piece of apple
pie afterward feeling still hungry.

"I see you're bound to have a square meal," said
the signor.

After Phil had had it, he was bound to confess
that he did not feel uncomfortably full. Yet he had
spent twice as much as the signor, who dispensed
with the tea and pie as superfluous luxuries.

In the evening Signor Orlando bent his steps
toward Bowerman's Varieties.

"I hope in a day or two to get a complimentary
ticket for you, Mr. Brent," he said.

"How much is the ticket?" asked Phil.

"Fifteen cents. Best reserved seats twenty-five

"I believe I will be extravagant for once," said
Phil, "and go at my own expense."

"Good!" said the signor huskily. "You'll feel
repaid I'll be bound. Bowerman always gives the
public their money's worth. The performance
begins at eight o'clock and won't be out until half-
past eleven."

"Less than five cents an hour," commented Phil.

"What a splendid head you've got!" said Signor
Orlando admiringly. "I couldn't have worked that
up. Figures ain't my province."

It seemed to Phil rather a slender cause for
compliment, but he said nothing, since it seemed clear
that the computation was beyond his companion's

As to the performance, it was not refined, nor was
the talent employed first-class. Still Phil enjoyed
himself after a fashion. He had never had it in his
power to attend many amusements, and this was
new to him. He naturally looked with interest for
the appearance of his new friend and fellow-lodger.

Signor Orlando appeared, dressed in gorgeous
array, sang a song which did credit to the loudness
of his voice rather than its quality, and ended by a
noisy clog-dance which elicited much applause from
the boys in the gallery, who shared the evening's
entertainment for the moderate sum of ten cents.

The signor was called back to the stage. He
bowed his thanks and gave another dance. Then he
was permitted to retire. As this finished his part of
the entertainment he afterward came around in
citizen's dress, and took a seat in the auditorium
beside Phil.

"How did you like me, Mr. Brent?" he asked

"I thought you did well, Signor Orlando. You
were much applauded."

"Yes, the audience is very loyal," said the proud

Two half-grown boys heard Phil pronounce the
name of his companion, and they gazed awe-stricken
at the famous man.

"That's Signor Orlando!" whispered one of the

"I know it," was the reply.

"Such is fame," said the Signor, in a pleased tone
to Phil. "People point me out on the streets."

"Very gratifying, no doubt," said our hero, but it
occurred to him that he would not care to be pointed
out as a performer at Bowerman's. Signor Orlando,
however, well-pleased with himself, didn't doubt
that Phil was impressed by his popularity, and
perhaps even envied it.

They didn't stay till the entertainment was over.
It was, of course, familiar to the signor, and Phil
felt tired and sleepy, for he had passed a part of the
afternoon in exploring the city, and had walked in
all several miles.

He went back to his lodging-house, opened the
door with a pass-key which Mrs. Schlessinger had
given him, and climbing to his room in the third story,
undressed and deposited himself in bed.

The bed was far from luxurious. A thin pallet
rested on slats, so thin that he could feel the slats
through it, and the covering was insufficient. The
latter deficiency he made up by throwing his overcoat
over the quilt, and despite the hardness of his
bed, he was soon sleeping soundly.

"To-morrow I must look for a place," he said to
Signor Orlando. "Can you give me any advise?"

"Yes, my dear boy. Buy a daily paper, the Sun
or Herald, and look at the advertisements. There
may be some prominent business man who is looking
out for a boy of your size."

Phil knew of no better way, and he followed Signor
Orlando's advice.

After a frugal breakfast at the Bowery restaurant,
he invested a few pennies in the two papers
mentioned, and began to go the rounds.

The first place was in Pearl Street.

He entered, and was directed to a desk in the
front part of the store.

"You advertised for a boy," he said.

"We've got one," was the brusque reply.

Of course no more was to be said, and Phil walked
out, a little dashed at his first rebuff.

At the next place he found some half a dozen boys
waiting, and joined the line, but the vacancy was
filled before his turn came.

At the next place his appearance seemed to make
a good impression, and he was asked several questions.

"What is your name?"

"Philip Brent."

"How old are you?"

"Just sixteen."

"How is your education?"

"I have been to school since I was six."

"Then you ought to know something. Have you
ever been in a place?"

"No, sir."

"Do you live with your parents?"

"No, sir; I have just come to the city, and am
lodging in Fifth Street."

"Then you won't do. We wish our boys to live
with their parents."

Poor Phil! He had allowed himself to hope that
at length he was likely to get a place. The abrupt
termination of the conversation dispirited him.

He made three more applications. In one of them
he again came near succeeding, but once more the
fact that he did not live with his parents defeated
his application.

"It seems to be very hard getting a place,"
thought Phil, and it must be confessed he felt a little

"I won't make any more applications to-day," he
decided, and being on Broadway, walked up that
busy thoroughfare, wondering what the morrow
would bring forth.

It was winter, and there was ice on the sidewalk.
Directly in front of Phil walked an elderly gentleman,
whose suit of fine broadcloth and gold spectacles,
seemed to indicate a person of some prominence
and social importance.

Suddenly he set foot on a treacherous piece of ice.
Vainly he strove to keep his equilibrium, his arms
waving wildly, and his gold-headed cane falling to
the sidewalk. He would have fallen backward, had
not Phil, observing his danger in time, rushed to his



With some difficulty the gentleman righted
himself, and then Phil picked up his cane.

"I hope you are not hurt, sir?" he said.

"I should have been but for you, my good boy,"
said the gentleman. "I am a little shaken by the
suddenness of my slipping."

"Would you wish me to go with you, sir?"

"Yes, if you please. I do not perhaps require
you, but I shall be glad of your company."

"Thank you, sir."

"Do you live in the city?"

"Yes, sir; that is, I propose to do so. I have
come here in search of employment."

Phil said this, thinking it possible that the old
gentleman might exert his influence in his favor.

"Are you dependent on what you may earn?"
asked the gentleman, regarding him attentively.

"I have a little money, sir, but when that is gone
I shall need to earn something."

"That is no misfortune. It is a good thing for a
boy to be employed. Otherwise he is liable to get
into mischief."

"At any rate, I shall be glad to find work, sir."

"Have you applied anywhere yet?"

Phil gave a little account of his unsuccessful
applications, and the objections that had been made to

"Yes, yes," said the old gentleman thoughtfully,
"more confidence is placed in a boy who lives with
his parents."

The two walked on together until they reached
Twelfth Street. It was a considerable walk, and
Phil was surprised that his companion should walk,
when he could easily have taken a Broadway stage,
but the old gentleman explained this himself.

"I find it does me good," he said, "to spend some
time in the open air, and even if walking tires me it
does me good."

At Twelfth Street they turned off.

"I am living with a married niece," he said, "just
on the other side of Fifth Avenue."

At the door of a handsome four-story house, with
a brown-stone front, the old gentleman paused, and
told Phil that this was his residence.

"Then, sir, I will bid you good-morning," said

"No, no; come in and lunch with me," said Mr.
Carter hospitably.

He had, by the way, mentioned that his name was
Oliver Carter, and that he was no longer actively
engaged in business, but was a silent partner in the
firm of which his nephew by marriage was the
nominal head.

"Thank you, sir," answered Phil.

He was sure that the invitation was intended to
be accepted, and he saw no reason why he should
not accept it.

"Hannah," said the old gentleman to the servant
who opened the door, "tell your mistress that I
have brought a boy home to dinner with me."

"Yes, sir," answered Hannah, surveying Phil in
some surprise.

"Come up to my room, my young friend," said
Mr. Carter. "You may want to prepare for

Mr. Carter had two connecting rooms on the
second floor, one of which he used as a bed-chamber.
The furniture was handsome and costly, and
Phil, who was not used to city houses, thought it

Phil washed his face and hands, and brushed his
hair. Then a bell rang, and following his new
friend, he went down to lunch.

Lunch was set out in the front basement. When
Phil and Mr. Carter entered the room a lady was
standing by the fire, and beside her was a boy of
about Phil's age. The lady was tall and slender,
with light-brown hair and cold gray eyes.

"Lavinia," said Mr. Carter, "I have brought a
young friend with me to lunch."

"So I see," answered the lady. "Has he been
here before?"

"No; he is a new acquaintance."

"I would speak to him if I knew his name."

"His name is----"

Here the old gentleman hesitated, for in truth he
had forgotten.

"Philip Brent."

"You may sit down here, Mr. Brent," said Mrs.
Pitkin, for this was the lady's name.

"Thank you, ma'am."

"And so you made my uncle's acquaintance this
morning?" she continued, herself taking a seat at
the head of the table.

"Yes; he was of service to me," answered Mr.
Carter for him. "I had lost my balance, and should
have had a heavy fall if Philip had not come to my

"He was very kind, I am sure," said Mrs. Pitkin,
but her tone was very cold.

"Philip," said Mr. Carter, "this is my grand-
nephew, Alonzo Pitkin."

He indicated the boy already referred to.

"How do you do?" said Alonzo, staring at Philip
not very cordially.

"Very well, thank you," answered Philip politely.

"Where do you live?" asked Alonzo, after a
moment's hesitation.

"In Fifth Street."

"That's near the Bowery, isn't it?"


The boy shrugged his shoulders and exchanged a
significant look with his mother.

Fifth Street was not a fashionable street--indeed
quite the reverse, and Phil's answer showed that he
was a nobody. Phil himself had begun to suspect
that he was unfashionably located, but he felt that
until his circumstances improved he might as well
remain where he was.

Book of the day: The Errand Boy by Horatio Alger - Full Text Free Book (Part 1/6)