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The Errand Boy by Horatio Alger

Part 2 out of 6

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But, though he lived in an unfashionable street, it
could not be said that Phil, in his table manners,
showed any lack of good breeding. He seemed
quite at home at Mrs. Pitkin's table, and in fact
acted with greater propriety than Alonzo, who was
addicted to fast eating and greediness.

"Couldn't you walk home alone, Uncle Oliver?"
asked Mrs. Pitkin presently.


"Then it was a pity to trouble Mr. Brent to come
with you."

"It was no trouble," responded Philip promptly,
though he suspected that it was not consideration
for him that prompted the remark.

"Yes, I admit that I was a little selfish in taking
up my young friend's time," said the old gentleman
cheerfully; "but I infer, from what he tells me,
that it is not particularly valuable just now."

"Are you in a business position, Mr. Brent?"
asked Mrs. Pitkin.

"No, madam. I was looking for a place this

"Have you lived for some time in the city?"

"No; I came here only yesterday from the country."

"I think country boys are very foolish to leave
good homes in the country to seek places in the
city," said Mrs. Pitkin sharply.

"There may be circumstances, Lavinia, that make
it advisable," suggested Mr. Carter, who, however,
did not know Phil's reason for coming.

"No doubt; I understand that," answered Mrs.
Pitkin, in a tone so significant that Phil wondered
whether she thought he had got into any trouble at

"And besides, we can't judge for every one. So I
hope Master Philip may find some good and satisfactory
opening, now that he has reached the city."

After a short time, lunch, which in New York is
generally a plain meal, was over, and Mr. Carter
invited Philip to come up-stairs again.

"I want to talk over your prospects, Philip," he

There was silence till after the two had left the
room. Then Mrs. Pitkin said:

"Alonzo, I don't like this."

"What don't you like, ma?"

"Uncle bringing this boy home. It is very
extraordinary, this sudden interest in a perfect

"Do you think he'll leave him any money?" asked
Alonzo, betraying interest.

"I don't know what it may lead to, Lonny, but it
don't look right. Such things have been known."

"I'd like to punch the boy's head," remarked
Alonzo, with sudden hostility. "All uncle's money
ought to come to us."

"So it ought, by rights," observed his mother.

"We must see that this boy doesn't get any
ascendency over him."

Phil would have been very much amazed if he
had overheard this conversation.



The old gentleman sat down in an arm-chair
and waved his hand toward a small rocking-
chair, in which Phil seated himself.

"I conclude that you had a good reason for
leaving home, Philip," said Mr. Carter, eying our hero
with a keen, but friendly look.

"Yes, sir; since my father's death it has not been
a home to me."

"Is there a step-mother in the case?" asked the
old gentleman shrewdly.

"Yes, sir."

"Any one else?"

"She has a son."

"And you two don't agree?"

"You seem to know all about it, sir," said Phil,

"I know something of the world--that is all."

Phil began to think that Mr. Carter's knowledge
of the world was very remarkable. He began to wonder
whether he could know anything more--could
suspect the secret which Mrs. Brent had communicated
to him. Should he speak of it? He decided
at any rate to wait, for Mr. Carter, though kind, was
a comparative stranger.

"Well," continued the old gentleman, "I won't
inquire too minutely into the circumstances. You
don't look like a boy that would take such an important
step as leaving home without a satisfactory reason.
The next thing is to help you."

Phil's courage rose as he heard these words. Mr.
Carter was evidently a rich man, and he could help
him if he was willing. So he kept silence, and let
his new friend do the talking.

"You want a place," continued Mr. Carter. "Now,
what are you fit for?"

"That is a hard question for me to answer, sir. I
don't know."

"Have you a good education?"

"Yes, sir; and I know something of Latin and
French besides."

"You can write a good hand?"

"Shall I show you, sir?"

"Yes; write a few lines at my private desk."

Phil did so, and handed the paper to Mr. Carter.

"Very good," said the old gentleman approvingly.

"That is in your favor. Are you good at accounts?"

"Yes, sir."

"Better still."

"Sit down there again," he continued. "I will
give you a sum in interest."

Phil resumed his seat.

"What is the interest of eight hundred and forty-
five dollars and sixty cents for four years, three
months and twelve days, at eight and one-half per

Phil's pen moved fast in perfect silence for five
minutes. Then he announced the result.

"Let me look at the paper. I will soon tell you
whether it is correct."

After a brief examination, for the old gentleman
was himself an adept at figures, he said, with a
beaming smile:

"It is entirely correct. You are a smart boy."

"Thank you, sir," said Phil, gratified.

"And you deserve a good place--better than you
will probably get."

Phil listened attentively. The last clause was not
quite so satisfactory.

"Yes," said Mr. Carter, evidently talking to
himself, "I must get Pitkin to take him."

Phil knew that the lady whom he had already
met was named Pitkin, and he rightly concluded
that it was her husband who was meant.

"I hope he is more agreeable than his wife,"
thought Philip.

"Yes, Philip," said Mr. Carter, who had evidently
made up his mind, "I will try to find you a place
this afternoon.

"I shall be very much obliged, sir," said Philip

"I have already told you that my nephew and I
are in business together, he being the active and I
the silent partner. We do a general shipping
business. Our store is on Franklin Street. I will give
you a letter to my nephew and he will give you a

"Thank you, sir."

"Wait a minute and I will write the note."

Five minutes later Phil was on his way down town
with his credentials in his pocket.



PHIL paused before an imposing business structure,
and looked up to see if he could see the
sign that would show him he had reached his destination.

He had not far to look. On the front of the
building he saw in large letters the sign:


In the door-way there was another sign, from
which he learned that the firm occupied the second

He went up-stairs, and opening a door, entered a
spacious apartment which looked like a hive of
industry. There were numerous clerks, counters
piled with goods, and every indication that a prosperous
business was being carried on.

The nearest person was a young man of eighteen,
or perhaps more, with an incipient, straw-colored
mustache, and a shock of hair of tow-color. This
young man wore a variegated neck-tie, a stiff
standing-collar, and a suit of clothes in the extreme of

Phil looked at him hesitatingly.

The young man observed the look, and asked

"What can I do for you, my son?"

Such an address from a person less than three
years older than himself came near upsetting the
gravity of Phil.

"Is Mr. Pitkin in?" he asked.

"Yes, I believe so."

"Can I see him."

"I have no objection," remarked the young man

"Where shall I find him?"

The youth indicated a small room partitioned off
as a private office in the extreme end of the store.

"Thank you," said Phil, and proceeded to find
his way to the office in question.

Arrived at the door, which was partly open, he
looked in.

In an arm-chair sat a small man, with an erect
figure and an air of consequence. He was not over
forty-five, but looked older, for his cheeks were
already seamed and his look was querulous. Cheerful
natures do not so soon show signs of age as their

"Mr. Pitkin?" said Phil interrogatively.

"Well?" said the small man, frowning instinctively.

"I have a note for you, sir."

Phil stepped forward and handed the missive to
Mr. Pitkin.

The latter opened it quickly and read as follows:

The boy who will present this to you did me a
service this morning. He is in want of employment.
He seems well educated, but if you can't offer him
anything better than the post of errand boy, do so.
I will guarantee that he will give satisfaction. You
can send him to the post-office, and to other offices
on such errands as you may have. Pay him five
dollars a week and charge that sum to me.
Yours truly,

Mr. Pitkin's frown deepened as he read this note.

"Pish!" he ejaculated, in a tone which, though
low, was audible to Phil. "Uncle Oliver must be
crazy. What is your name?" he demanded fiercely,
turning suddenly to Phil.

"Philip Brent."

"When did you meet--the gentleman who gave
you this letter?"

Phil told him.

"Do you know what is in this letter?"

"I suppose, sir, it is a request that you give me a

"Did you read it?"

"No," answered Phil indignantly.

"Humph! He wants me to give you the place of
errand boy."

"I will try to suit you, sir,"

"When do you want to begin?"

"As soon as possible, sir."

"Come to-morrow morning, and report to me

"Another freak of Uncle Oliver's!" he muttered,
as he turned his back upon Phil, and so signified that
the interview was at an end.



Phil presented himself in good season the next
morning at the store in Franklin Street. As he
came up in one direction the youth whom he had
seen in the store the previous day came up in the
opposite direction. The latter was evidently surprised.

"Halloo, Johnny!" said he. "What's brought
you here again?"

"Business," answered Phil.

"Going to buy out the firm?" inquired the youth

"Not to-day."

"Some other day, then," said the young man,
laughing as if he had said a very witty thing.

As Phil didn't know that this form of expression,
slightly varied, had become a popular phrase of the
day, he did not laugh.

"Do you belong to the church?" asked the youth,
stopping short in his own mirth.

"What makes you ask?"

"Because you don't laugh."

"I would if I saw anything to laugh at."

"Come, that's hard on me. Honor bright, have
you come to do any business with us?"

It is rather amusing to see how soon the cheapest
clerk talks of "us," quietly identifying himself with
the firm that employs him. Not that I object to it.
Often it implies a personal interest in the success
and prosperity of the firm, which makes a clerk more
valuable. This was not, however, the case with G.
Washington Wilbur, the young man who was now
conversing with Phil, as will presently appear.

"I am going to work here," answered Phil simply.

"Going to work here!" repeated Mr. Wilbur in
surprise. "Has old Pitkin engaged you?"

"Mr. Pitkin engaged me yesterday," Phil replied.

"I didn't know he wanted a boy. What are you
to do?"

"Go to the post-office, bank, and so on."

"You're to be errand boy, then?"


"That's the way I started," said Mr. Wilbur patronizingly.

"What are you now?"

"A salesman. I wouldn't like to be back in my
old position. What wages are you going to get?"

"Five dollars."

"Five dollars a week!" ejaculated Mr. G.
Washington Wilbur, in amazement. "Come, you're chaffing."

"Why should I do that? Is that anything remarkable?"

"I should say it was," answered Mr. Wilbur

"Didn't you get as much when you were errand

"I only got two dollars and a half. Did Pitkin
tell you he would pay you five dollars a week."

"No; Mr Carter told me so."

"The old gentleman--Mr. Pitkin's uncle?"

"Yes. It was at his request that Mr. Pitkin took
me on."

Mr. Wilbur looked grave.

"It's a shame!" he commenced.

"What is a shame; that I should get five dollars
a week?"

"No, but that I should only get a dollar a week
more than an errand boy. I'm worth every cent of
ten dollars a week, but the old man only gives me
six. It hardly keeps me in gloves and cigars."

"Won't he give you any more?"

"No; only last month I asked him for a raise, and
he told me if I wasn't satisfied I might go elsewhere."

"You didn't?"

"No, but I mean to soon. I will show old Pitkin
that he can't keep a man of my experience for such
a paltry salary. I dare say that Denning or Claflin
would be glad to have me, and pay me what I am

Phil did not want to laugh, but when Mr. Wilbur,
who looked scarcely older than himself, and was in
appearance but a callow youth, referred to himself
as a man of experience he found it hard to resist.

"Hadn't we better be going up stairs?" asked Phil.

"All right. Follow me," said Mr. Wilbur, "and
I'll take you to the superintendent of the room."

"I am to report to Mr. Pitkin himself, I believe."

"He won't be here yet awhile," said Wilbur.

But just then up came Mr. Wilbur himself, fully
half an hour earlier than usual.

Phil touched his hat politely, and said:


"Good-morning!" returned his employer, regarding
him sharply. "Are you the boy I hired yesterday?"

"Yes, sir."

"Come up-stairs, then."

Phil followed Mr. Pitkin up-stairs, and they
walked together through the sales-room.

"I hope you understand," said Mr. Pitkin
brusquely, "that I have engaged you at the request
of Mr. Carter and to oblige him."

"I feel grateful to Mr. Carter," said Phil, not quite
knowing what was coming next.

"I shouldn't myself have engaged a boy of whom
I knew nothing, and who could give me no city references."

"I hope you won't be disappointed in me," said

"I hope not," answered Mr. Pitkin, in a tone
which seemed to imply that he rather expected to

Phil began to feel uncomfortable. It seemed evident
that whatever he did would be closely scrutinized,
and that in an unfavorable spirit.

Mr. Pitkin paused before a desk at which was
standing a stout man with grayish hair.

"Mr. Sanderson," he said, "this is the new errand
boy. His name is--what is it, boy?"

"Philip Brent."

"You will give him something to do. Has the
mail come in?"

"No; we haven't sent to the post-office yet."

"You may send this boy at once."

Mr. Sanderson took from the desk a key and
handed it to Philip.

"That is the key to our box," he said. "Notice
the number--534. Open it and bring the mail.
Don't loiter on the way."

"Yes, sir."

Philip took the key and left the warehouse.
When he reached the street he said to himself:

"I wonder where the post-office is?"

He did not like to confess to Mr. Sanderson that
he did not know, for it would probably have been
considered a disqualification for the post which he
was filling.

"I had better walk to Broadway," he said to
himself. "I suppose the post-office must be on the
principal street."

In this Phil was mistaken. At that time the post-
office was on Nassau Street, in an old church which
had been utilized for a purpose very different from
the one to which it had originally been devoted.

Reaching Broadway, Phil was saluted by a bootblack,
with a grimy but honest-looking face.

"Shine your boots, mister?" said the boy, with a

"Not this morning."

"Some other morning, then?"

"Yes," answered Phil.

"Sorry you won't give me a job," said the bootblack.
"My taxes comes due to-day, and I ain't got
enough to pay 'em."

Phil was amused, for his new acquaintance scarcely
looked like a heavy taxpayer.

"Do you pay a big tax?" he asked.

"A thousand dollars or less," answered the knight
of the brush.

"I guess it's less," said Phil.

"That's where your head's level, young chap."

"Is the post-office far from here?"

"Over half a mile, I reckon."

"Is it on this street?"

"No, it's on Nassau Street."

"If you will show me the way there I'll give you
ten cents."

"All right! The walk'll do me good. Come on!"

"What's your name?" asked Phil, who had become
interested in his new acquaintance.

"The boys call me Ragged Dick."

It was indeed the lively young bootblack whose
history was afterward given in a volume which is
probably familiar to many of my readers. At this
time he was only a bootblack, and had not yet begun
to feel the spur of that ambition which led to his
subsequent prosperity.

"That's a queer name," said Phil.

"I try to live up to it," said Dick, with a comical
glance at his ragged coat, which had originally been
worn by a man six feet in height.

He swung his box over his shoulder, and led the
way to the old post-office.



Phil continued his conversation with Ragged
Dick, and was much amused by his quaint way
of expressing himself.

When they reached Murray Street, Dick said:

"Follow me. We'll cut across the City Hall Park.
It is the shortest way."

Soon they reached the shabby old building with
which New Yorkers were then obliged to be content
with as a post-office.

Phil secured the mail matter for Pitkin & Co.,
and was just about leaving the office, when he noticed
just ahead of him a figure which looked very

It flashed upon him of a sudden that it was his
old train acquaintance, Lionel Lake. He immediately
hurried forward and touched his arm.

Mr. Lake, who had several letters in his hand,
started nervously, and turned at the touch. He
recognized Phil, but appeared not to do so.

"What do you wish, boy?" he asked, loftily.

"I want to speak a word with you, Mr. Lake."

The young man shrugged his shoulders.

"You are mistaken in the person," he said. "My
name is not Lake."

"Very likely not," said Phil significantly, "but
that's what you called yourself when we met on the

"I repeat, boy, that you are strangely mistaken.
My name is"--he paused slightly--"John Montgomery."

"Just as you please. Whatever your name is, I
have a little business with you."

"I can't stop. My business is urgent," said Lake.

"Then I will be brief. I lent you five dollars on
a ring which I afterward discovered to be stolen. I
want you to return that money."

Mr. Lake looked about him apprehensively, for
he did not wish any one to hear what Phil was saying.

"You must be crazy!" he said. "I never saw you
before in the whole course of my life."

He shook off Phil's detaining hand, and was about
to hurry away, but Phil said resolutely:

"You can't deceive me, Mr. Lake. Give me that
money, or I will call a policeman."

Now, it happened that a policeman was passing
just outside, and Lake could see him.

"This is an infamous outrage!" he said, "but I
have an important appointment, and can't be detained.
Take the money. I give it to you in

Phil gladly received and pocketed the bank-note,
and relinquishing his hold of Mr. Lake, rejoined
Dick, who had been an interested eye-witness of the

"I see you've got pluck," said Dick. "What's it
all about?"

Phil told him.

"I ain't a bit s'prised," said Dick. "I could tell
by his looks that the man was a skin."

"Well, I'm even with him, at any rate," said Phil.

"Now I'll be getting back to the office. Thank you
for your guidance. Here's a quarter."

"You only promised me ten cents."

"It's worth a quarter. I hope to meet you

"We'll meet at Astor's next party," said Dick,
with a grin. "My invite came yesterday."

"Mine hasn't come yet," said Phil, smiling.

"Maybe it'll come to-morrow."

"He's a queer chap," thought Phil. "He's fit for
something better than blacking boots. I hope he'll
have the luck to get it."

Phil had been detained by his interview with Mr.
Lake, but he made up for it by extra speed, and
reached the warehouse in fair time. After delivering
the letters he was sent out on another errand,
and during the entire day he was kept busy.

Leaving him for the moment we go back to the
Pitkin mansion, and listen to & conversation between
Mr. and Mrs. Pitkin.

"Uncle Oliver is getting more and more eccentric
every day," said the lady. "He brought home a boy
to lunch to-day--some one whom he had picked up
in the street."

"Was the boy's name Philip Brent?" asked her

"Yes, I believe so. What do you know about
him?" asked the lady in surprise.

"I have engaged him as errand boy."

"You have! What for?" exclaimed Mrs. Pitkin.

"I couldn't help it. He brought a letter from
your uncle, requesting me to do so, and offering to
pay his wages out of his own pocket."

"This is really getting very serious," said Mrs.
Pitkin, annoyed. "Suppose he should take a fancy to
this boy?"

"He appears to have done so already," said her
husband dryly.

"I mean, suppose he should adopt him?"

"You are getting on pretty fast, Lavinia, are you

"Such things happen sometimes," said the lady,
nodding. "If it should happen it would be bad for
poor Lonny."

"Even in that case Lonny won't have to go to the

"Mr. Pitkin, you don't realize the danger. Here's
Uncle Oliver worth a quarter of a million dollars,
and it ought to be left to us."

"Probably it will be."

"He may leave it all to this boy. This must be


"You must say the boy doesn't suit you, and
discharge him."

"Well, well, give me time. I have no objection;
but I suspect it will be hard to find any fault with
him. He looks like a reliable boy."

"To me he looks like an artful young adventurer,"
said Mrs. Pitkin vehemently. "Depend upon it,
Mr. Pitkin, he will spare no pains to ingratiate
himself into Uncle Oliver's favor."

It will be seen that Mrs. Pitkin was gifted--if it
can be called a gift--with a very suspicious temperament.
She was mean and grasping, and could not
bear the idea of even a small part of her uncle's
money going to any one except her own family.
There was, indeed, another whose relationship to
Uncle Oliver was as close--a cousin, who had
estranged her relatives by marrying a poor
bookkeeper, with whom she had gone to Milwaukee.
Her name was never mentioned in the Pitkin household,
and Mrs. Pitkin, trusting to the distance between
them, did not apprehend any danger from this
source. Had she known Rebecca Forbush was even
now in New York, a widow with one child, struggling
to make a living by sewing and taking lodgers,
she would have felt less tranquil. But she knew
nothing of all this, nor did she dream that the boy
whom she dreaded was the very next day to make
the acquaintance of this despised relation.

This was the way that it happened:

Phil soon tired of the room he had taken in Fifth
Street. It was not neatly kept, and was far from
comfortable. Then again, he found that the restaurants,
cheap as they were, were likely to absorb
about all his salary, though the bill-of-fare was far
from attractive.

Chance took him through a side-street, between
Second and Third Avenues, in the neighborhood of
Thirteenth Street.

Among the three and four-story buildings that
lined the block was one frame-house, two-story-and-
basement, on which he saw a sign, "Board for
Gentlemen." He had seen other similar signs, but his
attention was specially drawn to this by seeing a
pleasant-looking woman enter the house with the
air of proprietor. This woman recalled to Philip his
own mother, to whom she bore a striking resemblance.

"I would like to board with one whose face
recalled that of my dear dead mother," thought Phil,
and on the impulse of the moment, just after the
woman had entered, he rang the door-bell.

The door was opened almost immediately by the
woman he had just seen enter.

It seemed to Phil almost as if he were looking into
his mother's face, and he inquired in an unsteady

"Do you take boarders?"

"Yes," was the answer. "Won't you step in?"



The house was poorly furnished with cheap
furniture, but there was an unexpected air of
neatness about it. There is a great difference
between respectable and squalid poverty. It was the
first of these that was apparent in the small house in
which our hero found himself.

"I am looking for a boarding-place," said Philip.
"I cannot afford to pay a high price."

"And I should not think of asking a high price
for such plain accommodations as I can offer," said
Mrs. Forbush. "What sort of a room do you desire?"

"A small room will answer."

"I have a hall-bedroom at the head of the stairs.
Will you go up and look at it?"

"I should like to do so."

Mrs. Forbush led the way up a narrow staircase,
and Philip followed her.

Opening the door of the small room referred to,
she showed a neat bed, a chair, a wash-stand, and a
few hooks from which clothing might be hung. It
was plain enough, but there was an air of neatness
which did not characterize his present room.

"I like the room," he said, brightening up. "How
much do you charge for this room and board?"

"Four dollars. That includes breakfast and
supper," answered Mrs. Forbush. "Lunch you provide
for yourself."

"That will be satisfactory," said Phil. "I am in
a place down town, and I could not come to lunch,
at any rate."

"When would you like to come, Mr.----?" said
the widow interrogatively."

"My name is Philip Brent."

"Mr. Brent."

"I will come some time to-morrow."

"Generally I ask a small payment in advance, as
a guarantee that an applicant will really come, but
I am sure I can trust you."

"Thank you, but I am quite willing to conform to
your usual rule," said Phil, as he drew a two-dollar
bill from his pocket and handed it to the widow.

So they parted, mutually pleased. Phil's week at
his present lodging would not be up for several
days, but he was tired of it, and felt that he would
be much more comfortable with Mrs. Forbush. So
he was ready to make the small pecuniary sacrifice

The conversation which has been recorded took
but five minutes, and did not materially delay Phil,
who, as I have already said, was absent from the
store on an errand.

The next day Phil became installed at his new
boarding-place, and presented himself at supper.

There were three other boarders, two being a
young salesman at a Third Avenue store and his
wife. They occupied a square room on the same
floor with Phil. The other was a female teacher,
employed in one of the city public schools. The
only remaining room was occupied by a drummer,
who was often called away for several days together.
This comprised the list of boarders, but Phil's attention
was called to a young girl of fourteen, of sweet
and attractive appearance, whom he ascertained to
be a daughter of Mrs. Forbush. The young lady
herself, Julia Forbush, cast frequent glances at Phil,
who, being an unusually good-looking boy, would
naturally excite the notice of a young girl.

On the whole, it seemed a pleasant and social
circle, and Phil felt that he had found a home.

The next day, as he was occupied in the store,
next to G. Washington Wilbur, he heard that young
man say:

"Why, there's Mr. Carter coming into the store!"

Mr. Oliver Carter, instead of making his way
directly to the office where Mr. Pitkin was sitting,
came up to where Phil was at work.

"How are you getting along, my young friend?"
he asked familiarly.

"Very well, thank you, sir."

"Do you find your duties very fatiguing?"

"Oh, no, sir. I have a comfortable time."

"That's right. Work cheerfully and you will win
the good opinion of your employer. Don't forget to
come up and see me soon."

"Thank you, sir."

"You seem to be pretty solid with the old man,"
remarked Mr. Wilbur.

"We are on very good terms," answered Phil,

"I wish you had introduced him to me," said Wilbur.

"Don't you know him?" asked Phil, in surprise.

"He doesn't often come to the store, and when he
does he generally goes at once to the office, and the
clerks don't have a chance to get acquainted."

"I should hardly like to take the liberty, then,"
said Phil.

"Oh, keep him to yourself, then, if you want to,"
said Mr. Wilbur, evidently annoyed.

"I don't care to do that. I shall be entirely
willing to introduce you when there is a good chance."

This seemed to appease Mr. Wilbur, who became
once more gracious.

"Philip," he said, as the hour of closing
approached, "why can't you come around and call upon
me this evening?"

"So I will," answered Phil readily.

Indeed, he found it rather hard to fill up his
evenings, and was glad to have a way suggested.

"Do. I want to tell you a secret."

"Where do you live?" asked Phil.

"No.---- East Twenty-second Street."

"All right. I will come round about half-past

Though Wilbur lived in a larger house than he,
Phil did not like his room as well. There being only
one chair in the room, Mr. Wilbur put his visitor in
it, and himself sat on the bed.

There was something of a mystery in the young
man's manner as, after clearing his throat, he said
to Phil:

"I am going to tell you a secret."

Phil's curiosity was somewhat stirred, and he
signified that he would like to hear it.

"I have for some time wanted a confidant," said
Mr. Wilbur. "I did not wish to trust a mere acquaintance,
for--ahem!--the matter is quite a delicate one.

Phil regarded him with increased interest.

"I am flattered by your selecting me," said he.
"I will keep your secret."

"Phil," said Mr. Wilbur, in a tragic tone, "you
may be surprised to hear that I am in LOVE!"

Phil started and wanted to laugh, but Mr. Wilbur's
serious, earnest look restrained him.

"Ain't you rather young?" he ventured to say.

"No; I am nineteen," answered Mr. Wilbur.

"The heart makes no account of years."

Whether this was original or borrowed, Phil could
not tell.

"Have you been in love long?" asked Phil.

"Three weeks."

"Does the lady know it?"

"Not yet," returned Mr. Wilbur. "I have
worshiped her from afar. I have never even spoken to

"Then the matter hasn't gone very far?"

"No, not yet."

"Where did you meet her first?"

"In a Broadway stage."

"What is her name?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know much about her, then?"

"Yes; I know where she lives."


"On Lexington Avenue."


"Between Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Streets.
Would you like to see her house?"

"Yes," answered Phil, who saw that Mr. Wilbur
wished him so to answer.

"Then come out. We might see her."

The two boys--for Mr. Wilbur, though he considered
himself a young man of large experience, was
really scarcely more than a boy--bent their steps to
Lexington Avenue, and walked in a northerly direction.

They had reached Twenty-eighth Street, when the
door of house farther up on the avenue was opened
and a lady came out.

"That's she!" ejaculated Mr. Wilbur, clutching
Phil by the arm.

Phil looked, and saw a tall young lady, three or
four inches taller than his friend and as many years
older. He looked at his companion with surprise.

"Is that the young lady you are in love with?"
he asked.

"Yes; isn't she a daisy?" asked the lover fervently.

"I am not much of a judge of daisies,' answered
Phil, a little embarrassed, for the young lady had
large features, and was, in his eyes, very far from



Phil did not like to hurt the feelings of his
companion, and refrained from laughing, though
with difficulty.

"She doesn't appear to know you," he said.

"No," said Wilbur; "I haven't had a chance to
make myself known to her."

"Do you think you can make a favorable
impression upon--the daisy?" asked Phil, outwardly sober,
but inwardly amused.

"I always had a taking way with girls," replied
Mr. Wilbur complacently.

Phil coughed. It was all that saved him from

While he was struggling with the inclination, the
lady inadvertently dropped a small parcel which she
had been carrying in her hand. The two boys were
close behind. Like an arrow from the bow Mr. Wilbur
sprang forward, picked up the parcel, and while
his heart beat wildly, said, as he tendered it to the
owner, with a graceful bow and captivating smile:

"Miss, I believe you dropped this."

"Thank you, my good boy," answered the daisy

Mr. Wilbur staggered back as if he had been
struck. He fell back in discomfiture, and his face
showed the mortification and anguish he felt.

"Did you hear what she said?" he asked, in a
hollow voice.

"She called you a boy, didn't she?"

"Yes," answered Mr. Wilbur sadly.

"Perhaps she may be near-sighted," said Phil consolingly.

"Do you think so?" asked Mr. Wilbur hopefully.

"It is quite possible. Then you are short, you

"Yes, it must be so," said G. Washington Wilbur,
his face more serene. "If she hadn't been she would
have noticed my mustache."


"She spoke kindly. If--if she had seen how old I
was, it would have been different, don't you think so?"

"Yes, no doubt."

"There is only one thing to do," said Mr. Wilbur,
in a tone of calm resolve.

"What is that?" inquired Phil, in some curiosity.

"I must wear a stove-pipe hat! As you say, I am
small, and a near-sighted person might easily suppose
me to be younger than I am. Now, with a
stove-pipe hat I shall look much older."

"Yes, I presume so."

"Then I can make her acquaintance again, and
she will not mistake me. Phil, why don't you wear
a stove-pipe?"

"Because I don't want to look any older than I
am. Besides, an errand-boy wouldn't look well in a
tall hat."

"No, perhaps not."

"And Mr. Pitkin would hardly like it."

"Of course. When you are a salesman like me it
will be different."

Mr. Wilbur was beginning to recover his
complacency, which had been so rudely disturbed.

"I suppose you wouldn't think of marrying on
your present salary?" said Phil. "Six dollars a
week wouldn't support a married pair very well."

"The firm would raise my salary. They always
do when a man marries. Besides, I have other resources."


"Yes; I am worth two thousand dollars. It was
left me by an aunt, and is kept in trust for me until
I am twenty-one. I receive the interest now."

"I congratulate you," said Phil, who was really
pleased to hear of his companion's good fortune.

"That money will come in handy."

"Besides, I expect SHE'S got money," continued
Mr. Wilbur. "Of course, I love her for herself
alone--I am not mercenary--still, it will be a help
when we are married."

"So it will," said Phil, amused at the confident
manner in which Mr. Wilbur spoke of marriage with
a lady of whom he knew absolutely nothing.

"Philip," said Mr. Wilbur, "when I marry, I want
you to stand up with me--to be my groomsman."

"If I am in the city, and can afford to buy a
dress-suit, I might consent."

"Thank you. You are a true friend!" said Mr.
Wilbur, squeezing his hand fervently.

The two returned to Mr. Wilbur's room and had a
chat. At an early hour Phil returned to his own

As time passed on, Phil and Wilbur spent considerable
time together out of the store. Mr. G. Washington
Wilbur, apart from his amusing traits, was a
youth of good principles and good disposition, and
Phil was glad of his company. Sometimes they
went to cheap amusements, but not often, for neither
had money to spare for such purposes.

Some weeks after Phil's entrance upon his duties
Mr. Wilbur made a proposal to Phil of a startling

"Suppose we have our fortunes told, Phil?" he said.

"If it would help my fortune, or hurry it up, I
shouldn't object," said Phil, smiling.

"I want to know what fate has in store for me,"
said Wilbur.

"Do you think the fortune-tellers know any better
than you do?" asked Phil incredulously.

"They tell some strange things," said Wilbur.

"What, for instance?"

"An aunt of mine went to a fortune-teller and
asked if she would ever be married, and when? She
was told that she would be married before she was
twenty-two, to a tall, light-complexioned man."

"Did it come true?"

"Yes, every word," said Mr. Wilbur solemnly.
"She was married three months before her twenty-
second birthday, and her husband was just the
kind of man that was predicted. Wasn't that

"The fortune-teller might easily have guessed all
that. Most girls are married as young as that."

"But not to tall, light-complexioned men!" said
Wilbur triumphantly.

"Is there anything you wish particularly to
know?" asked Phil.

"I should like to know if I am going to marry--
you know who."

"The daisy?"


Phil was not much in favor of the scheme, but
finally agreed to it.

There was a certain "Veiled Lady," who
advertised her qualifications in the Herald, as the seventh
daughter of a seventh daughter, and therefore
gifted with the power to read the future. Mr.
Wilbur made choice of her, and together they went to
call upon her one evening.

They were shown into an anteroom, and in due
time Mr. Wilbur was called into the dread presence.
He was somewhat nervous and agitated, but "braced
up," as he afterward expressed it, and went in. He
wanted Phil to go in with him, but the attendant
said that madam would not allow it, and he went
forward alone.

Fifteen minutes afterward he re-entered the room
with a radiant face.

"Have you heard good news?" asked Phil.

Mr. Wilbur nodded emphatically and whispered,
for there were two others in waiting:

"It's all right. I am to marry her."

"Did the fortune-teller say so?"


"Did she give her name?"

"No, but she described her so that I knew her at

"Will it be soon?" asked Phil slyly.

"Not till I am twenty-four," answered Mr.
Wilbur soberly. "But perhaps she may be mistaken
about that. Perhaps she thought I was older than
I am."

"Do you doubt her knowledge, then?"

"No; at any rate, I can wait, since she is to be
mine at last. Besides, I am to be rich. When I am
thirty years old I am to be worth twenty thousand

"I congratulate you, Wilbur," said Phil, smiling.
"You are all right, at least,"

"The next gentleman!" said the attendant.

Phil entered the inner room, and looked about
him in curiosity.

A tall woman sat upon a sort of throne, with one
hand resting on a table beside her. A tall wax-
taper supplied the place of the light of day, which
was studiously excluded from the room by thick,
dark curtains. Over the woman's face was a black
veil, which gave her an air of mystery.

"Come hither, boy!" she said, in a clear,
commanding voice.

Phil advanced, not wholly unimpressed, though he
felt skeptical.

The woman bent forward, starting slightly and
scanned his face eagerly.



Do you wish to hear of the past or the future?"
asked the fortune-teller.

"Tell me something of the past," said Phil, with
a view of testing the knowledge of the seeress.

"You have left an uncongenial home to seek your
fortune in New York. You left without regret, and
those whom you have left behind do not miss you."

Phil started in amazement. This was certainly

"Shall I find the fortune I seek?" asked our hero

"Yes, but not in the way you expect. You think
yourself alone in the world!"

The fortune-teller paused, and looked searchingly
at the boy.

"So I am," returned Phil.

"No boy who has a father living can consider
himself alone."

"My father is dead!" returned Phil, growing

"You are mistaken."

"I am not likely to be mistaken in such a matter.
My father died a few months since."

"Your father still lives!" said the fortune-teller
sharply. "Do not contradict me!"

"I don't see how you can say that. I attended
his funeral."

"You attended the funeral of the man whose
name you bear. He was not your father."

Phil was much excited by this confirmation of his
step-mother's story. He had entertained serious
doubts of its being true, thinking it might have been
trumped up by Mrs. Brent to drive him from home,
and interfere with his succession to any part of Mr.
Brent's property.

"Is my step-mother's story true, then?" he asked
breathlessly. "She told me I was not the son of
Mr. Brent."

"Her story was true," said the veiled lady.

"Who is my real father, then?"

The lady did not immediately reply. She
seemed to be peering into distant space, as she said

"I see a man of middle size, dark-complexioned,
leading a small child by the hand. He pauses before
a house--it looks like an inn. A lady comes out
from the inn. She is kindly of aspect. She takes
the child by the hand and leads him into the inn.
Now I see the man go away--alone. The little
child remains behind. I see him growing up. He
has become a large boy, but the scene has changed.
The inn has disappeared. I see a pleasant village
and a comfortable house. The boy stands at the
door. He is well-grown now. A lady stands on the
threshold as his steps turn away. She is thin and
sharp-faced. She is not like the lady who welcomed
the little child. Can you tell me who this boy is?"
asked the fortune-teller, fixing her eyes upon Phil.

"It is myself!" he answers, his flushed face
showing the excitement he felt.

"You have said!"

"I don't know how you have learned all this,"
said Phil, "but it is wonderfully exact. Will you
answer a question?"


"You say my father--my real father--is living?"

The veiled lady bowed her head.

"Where is he?"

"That I cannot say, but he is looking for you."

"He is in search of me?"


"Why has he delayed it so long?"

"There are circumstances which I cannot explain
which have prevented his seeking and claiming

"Will he do so?"

"I have told you that he is now seeking for you.
I think he will find you at last."

"What can I do to bring this about?"

"Do nothing! Stay where you are. Circumstances
are working favorably, but you must wait.
There are some drawbacks."

"What are they?"

"You have two enemies, or rather one, for the
other does not count."

"Is that enemy a man?"

"No, it is a woman."

"My step-mother!" ejaculated Phil, with immediate

"You have guessed aright."

"And who is the other?"

"A boy."


"It is the son of the woman whom you call your

"What harm can they do me? I am not afraid
of them," said Phil, raising his head proudly.

"Do not be too confident! The meanest are
capable of harm. Mrs. Brent does not like you
because she is a mother."

"She fears that I will interfere with her son."

"You are all right."

"Is there anything more you can tell me?" asked
Phil. "Have I any other enemies?"

"Yes; there are two more--also a woman and her

"That puzzles me. I can think of no one."

"They live in the city."

"I know. It is Mrs. Pitkin, my employer's wife.
Why should she dislike me?"

"There is an old man who likes you. That is the

"I see. She doesn't want him to be kind to any
one out of the family."

"That is all I have to tell you," said the fortune-
teller abruptly. "You can go."

"You have told me strange things," said Phil.
"Will you tell me how it is you know so much about
a stranger?"

"I have nothing more to tell you. You can go!"
said the veiled lady impatiently.

"At least tell me how much I am to pay you."


"But I thought you received fees."

"Not from you."

"Did you not take something from my friend who
was in here before me?"


"You told him a good fortune."

"He is a fool!" said the fortune-teller
contemptuously. "I saw what he wanted and predicted

She waved her hand, and Phil felt that he had no
excuse for remaining longer.

He left the room slowly, and found Mr. Wilbur
anxiously awaiting him.

"What did she tell you, Phil?" he asked eagerly.
"Did she tell you what sort of a wife you would

"No. I didn't ask her," answered Phil, smiling.

"I should think you'd want to know. What did
she tell you, then?"

"She told me quite a number of things about my
past life and the events of my childhood."

"I shouldn't have cared about that," said Wilbur,
shrugging his shoulders. "Why, I know all about
that myself. What I want to know about is,
whether I am to marry the girl I adore."

"But you see, Wilbur, I don't adore anybody. I
am not in love as you are."

"Of course that makes a difference," said Wilbur.
"I'm glad I came, Phil. Ain't you?"

"Yes," answered Phil slowly.

"You see, it's such a satisfaction to know that all
is coming right at last. I am to marry HER, you
know, and although it isn't till I am twenty-

"She will be nearly thirty by that time," said Phil

"She won't look it!" said Mr. Wilbur, wincing a
little. "When I am thirty I shall be worth twenty
thousand dollars."

"You can't save it very soon out of six dollars a

"That is true. I feel sure I shall be raised soon.
Did the fortune-teller say anything about your getting rich?"

"No. I can't remember that she did. Oh, yes!
she said I would make my fortune, but not in the
way I expected."

"That is queer!" said Mr. Wilbur, interested.
"What could she mean?"

"I suppose she meant that I would not save a
competence out of five dollars a week."

"Maybe so."

"I have been thinking, Wilbur, you have an
advantage over the young lady you are to marry. You
know that you are to marry her, but she doesn't
know who is to be her husband."

"That is true," said Wilbur seriously. "If I can
find out her name, I will write her an anonymous
letter, asking her to call on the veiled Lady."



Now that Phil is fairly established in the
city, circumstances require us to go back to
the country town which he had once called home.

Mrs. Brent is sitting, engaged with her needle, in
the same room where she had made the important
revelation to Phil.

Jonas entered the house, stamping the snow from
his boots.

"Is supper most ready, mother?" he asked.

"No, Jonas; it is only four o'clock," replied Mrs.

"I'm as hungry as a bear. I guess it's the skating."

"I wish you would go to the post-office before
supper, Jonas. There might be a letter."

"Do you expect to hear from Phil?"

"He said nothing about writing," said Mrs. Brent
indifferently. "He will do as he pleases about it."

"I did'nt know but he would be writing for
money," chuckled Jonas.

"If he did, I would send him some," said Mrs.

"You would!" repeated Jonas, looking at his
mother in surprise.

"Yes, I would send him a dollar or two, so that
people needn't talk. It is always best to avoid

"Are you expecting a letter from anybody,
mother?" asked Jonas, after a pause.

"I dreamed last night I should receive an
important letter," said Mrs. Brent.

"With money in it?" asked Jonas eagerly.

"I don't know."

"If any such letter comes, will you give me some
of the money?"

"If you bring me a letter containing money," said
Mrs. Brent, "I will give you a dollar."

"Enough said!" exclaimed Jonas, who was fond
of money; "I'm off to the post-office at once."

Mrs. Brent let the work fall into her lap and
looked intently before her. A flush appeared on
her pale face, and she showed signs of restlessness.

"It is strange," she said to herself, "how I have
allowed myself to be affected by that dream. I am
not superstitious, but I cannot get over the idea that
a letter will reach me to-night, and that it will have
an important bearing upon my life. I have a feeling,
too, that it will relate to the boy Philip."

She rose from her seat and began to move about
the room. It was a, relief to her in the restless state
of her mind. She went to the window to look for
Jonas, and her excitement rose as she saw him
approaching. When he saw his mother looking from
the window, he held aloft a letter.

"The letter has come," she said, her heart beating
faster than its wont. "It is an important letter.
How slow Jonas is."

And she was inclined to be vexed at the deliberation
with which her son was advancing toward the

But he came at last.

"Well, mother, I've got a letter--a letter from
Philadelphia," he said. "It isn't from Phil, for I
know his writing."

"Give it to me, Jonas," said his mother, outwardly
calm, but inwardly excited.

"Do you know any one in Philadelphia, mother?"


She cut open the envelope and withdrew the
inclosed sheet.

"Is there any money in it?" asked Jonas eagerly.


"Just my luck!" said Jonas sullenly.

"Wait a minute," said his mother. "If the letter
is really important, I'll give you twenty-five

She read the letter, and her manner soon showed
that she was deeply interested.

We will look over her shoulders and read it with

"DEAR MADAM:--I write to you on a matter of
the greatest importance to my happiness, and shall
most anxiously await your reply. I would come to
you in person, but am laid up with an attack of
rheumatism, and my physician forbids me to travel.

"You are, as I have been informed, the widow of
Gerald Brent, who thirteen years since kept a small
hotel in the small village of Fultonville, in Ohio.
At that date I one day registered myself as his
guest. I was not alone. My only son, then a boy
of three, accompanied me. My wife was dead, and
my affections centered upon this child. Yet the
next morning I left him under the charge of
yourself and your husband, and pursued my journey.
From that day to this I have not seen the boy, nor
have I written to you or Mr. Brent. This seems
strange, does it not? It requires an explanation,
and that explanation I am ready to give.

"To be brief, then, I was fleeing from undeserved
suspicion. Circumstances which I need not detail
had connected my name with the mysterious
disappearance of a near friend, and the fact that a
trifling dispute between us had taken place in the
presence of witnesses had strengthened their
suspicions. Knowing myself to be innocent, but unable
to prove it, I fled, taking my child with me. When
I reached Fultonville, I became alive to the ease with
which I might be traced, through the child's
companionship. There was no resource but to leave
him. Your husband and yourself impressed me as
kind and warm-hearted. I was specially impressed
by the gentleness with which you treated my little
Philip, and I felt that to you I could safely trust
him. I did not, however, dare to confide my secret
to any one. I simply said I would leave the boy
with you till he should recover from his temporary
indisposition, and then, with outward calmness but
inward anguish, I left my darling, knowing not if I
should ever see him again.

"Well, time passed. I went to Nevada, changed
my name, invested the slender sum I had with me in
mining, and, after varying fortune, made a large
fortune at last. But better fortune still awaited me.
In a poor mining hut, two months since, I came
across a man who confessed that he was guilty of the
murder of which I had been suspected. His confession
was reduced in writing, sworn to before a
magistrate, and now at last I feel myself a free man.
No one now could charge me with a crime from
which my soul revolted.

"When this matter was concluded, my first
thought was of the boy whom I had not seen for
thirteen long years. I could claim him now before
all the world; I could endow him with the gifts of
fortune; I could bring him up in luxury, and I could
satisfy a father's affectionate longing. I could not
immediately ascertain where you were. I wrote to
Fultonville, to the postmaster, and learned that you
and Mr. Brent had moved away and settled down in
Gresham, in the State of New York. I learned
also that my Philip was still living, but other details
I did not learn. But I cared not, so long as my boy
still lived.

"And now you may guess my wish and my intention.
I shall pay you handsomely for your kind
care of Philip, but I must have my boy back again.
We have been separated too long. I can well understand
that you are attached to him, and I will find
a home for you and Mr. Brent near my own, where
you can see as often as you like the boy whom you
have so tenderly reared. Will you do me the favor
to come at once, and bring the boy with you? The
expenses of your journey shall, of course, be
reimbursed, and I will take care that the pecuniary
part of my obligations to you shall be amply repaid.
I have already explained why I cannot come in person
to claim my dear child.

"Telegraph to me when you will reach Philadelphia,
and I will engage a room for you. Philip will
stay with me. Yours gratefully,

"Mother, here is a slip of paper that has dropped
from the letter," said Jonas.

He picked up and handed to his mother a check
on a Philadelphia bank for the sum of one hundred

"Why, that's the same as money, isn't it?" asked

"Yes, Jonas."

"Then you'll keep your promise, won't you?"

Mrs. Brent silently drew from her pocket-book a
two-dollar bill and handed it to Jonas.

"Jonas," she said, "if you won't breathe a word
of it, I will tell you a secret."

"All right, mother."

"We start for Philadelphia to-morrow."

"By gosh! that's jolly," exclaimed Jonas, overjoyed.
"I'll keep mum. What was in the letter,

"I will not tell you just now. You shall know
very soon."

Mrs. Brent did not sleep much that night. Her
mind was intent upon a daring scheme of imposture.
Mr. Granville was immensely wealthy, no doubt.
Why should she not pass off Jonas upon him as his
son Philip, and thus secure a fortune for her own



Later in the evening Mrs. Brent took Jonas
into her confidence. She was a silent, secretive
woman by nature, and could her plan have been
carried out without imparting it to any one, she
would gladly have had it so. But Jonas must be her
active accomplice, and it was as well to let him know
at once what he must do.

In the evening, when Jonas, tired with his day's
skating, was lying on the lounge, Mrs. Brent rose
deliberately from her seat, peeped into the adjoining
room, then went to each window to make sure there
was no eavesdropper, then resumed her seat and

"Jonas, get up. I want to speak to you."

"I am awfully tired, mother. I can hear you
while I lie here."

"Jonas, do you hear me? I am about to speak to
you of something no other person must hear. Get a
chair and draw it close to mine."

Jonas rose, his curiosity stimulated by his mother's
words and manner.

"Is it about the letter, mother?" he asked.

"Yes, it relates to the letter and our journey to-

Jonas had wondered what the letter was about
and who had sent his mother the hundred-dollar
check, and he made no further objection. He drew
a chair in front of his mother and said:

"Go ahead, mother, I'm listening."

"Would you like to be rich, Jonas?" asked Mrs.

"Wouldn't I?"

"Would you like to be adopted by a very rich
man, have a pony to ride, plenty of pocket-money,
fine clothes and in the end a large fortune?"

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