Cast Upon the Breakers/Chapter XVI
Rodney told his story frankly. Mrs. Harvey was very sympathetic by nature, and she listened with the deepest interest, and latterly with indignation when Rodney spoke of his dismissal from Mr. Goodnow's store.
"You have been treated shamefully," she said warmly.
"I think Mr. Goodnow really believes me guilty," rejoined Rodney.
"A dishonest boy would hardly have returned a valuable box of jewelry."
"Still Mr. Goodnow didn't know that I would do it."
"I see you are disposed to apologize for your late employer."
"I do not forget that he treated me kindly till this last occurrence."
"Your consideration does you credit. So you have really been reduced to earn your living as a newsboy?"
"I must think what I can do for you. I might give you money, but when that was gone you would be no better off."
"I would much rather have help in getting a place."
Mrs. Harvey leaned her head on her hand and looked thoughtful.
"You are right" she said. "Let me think."
Rodney waited, hoping that the lady would be able to think of something to his advantage.
Finally she spoke.
"I think you said you understood Latin and Greek?"
"I have studied both languages and French also. I should have been ready to enter college next summer."
"Then perhaps I shall be able to do something for you. I live in Philadelphia, but I have a brother living in West Fifty Eighth Street. He has one little boy, Arthur, now nine years of age. Arthur is quite precocious, but his health is delicate, and my brother has thought of getting a private instructor for him. Do you like young children?"
"Very much. I always wished that I had a little brother."
"Then I think you would suit my brother better as a tutor for Arthur than a young man. Being a boy yourself, you would be not only tutor but companion."
"I should like such a position very much."
"Then wait here a moment, and I will write you a letter of introduction."
She went up stairs, but soon returned.
She put a small perfumed billet into Rodney's hands. It was directed to John Sargent with an address on West Fifty Eighth Street.
"Call this evening," she said, "about half past seven o'clock. My brother will be through dinner, and will not have gone out at that hour."
"Thank you," said Rodney gratefully.
"Here is another envelope which you can open at your leisure. I cannot part from you without thanking you once more for returning my jewelry."
"You have thanked me in a very practical way, Mrs. Harvey."
"I hope my letter may lead to pleasant results for you. If you ever come to Philadelphia call upon me at No. 1492 Walnut Street."
As Rodney left the house he felt that his ill fortune had turned, and that a new prospect was opened up before him. He stepped into the Windsor Hotel, and opened the envelope last given him. It contained five five dollar bills.
To one of them was pinned a scrap of paper containing these words: "I hope this money will be useful to you. It is less than the reward I should have offered for the recovery of the jewels."
Under the circumstances Rodney felt that he need not scruple to use the money. He knew that he had rendered Mrs. Harvey a great service, and that she could well afford to pay him the sum which the envelopes contained.
He began to be sensible that he was hungry, not having eaten for some time. He went into a restaurant on Sixth Avenue, and ordered a sirloin steak. It was some time since he had indulged in anything beyond a common steak, and he greatly enjoyed the more luxurious meal. He didn't go back to selling papers, for he felt that it would hardly be consistent with the position of a classical teacher--the post for which he was about to apply.
Half past seven found him at the door of Mr. John Sargent. The house was of brown stone, high stoop, and four stories in height. It was such a house as only a rich man could occupy.
He was ushered into the parlor and presently Mr. Sargent came in from the dining room.
"Are you Mr. Ropes?" he asked, looking at Rodney's card.
It is not usual for newsboys to carry cards, but Rodney had some left over from his more prosperous days.
"Yes, sir. I bring you a note of introduction from Mrs. Harvey."
"Ah yes, my sister. Let me see it."
The note was of some length. That is, it covered three pages of note paper. Mr. Sargent read it attentively.
"My sister recommends you as tutor for my little son, Arthur," he said, as he folded up the letter.
"Yes, sir; she suggested that I might perhaps suit you in that capacity."
"She also says that you found and restored to her a valuable box of jewelry which she was careless enough to drop near Tiffany's."
"I have a good deal of confidence in my sister's good judgment. She evidently regards you very favorably."
"I am glad of that sir,"
"Will you tell me something of your qualifications? Arthur is about to commence Latin. He is not old enough for Greek."
"I could teach either, sir."
"And of course you are well up in English branches?"
"I think I am."
"My sister hints that you are poor, and obliged to earn your own living. How, then, have you been able to secure so good an education?"
"I have only been poor for a short time. My father left me fifty thousand dollars, but it was lost by my guardian."
"Who was your guardian?"
"Mr. Benjamin Fielding."
"I knew him well. I don't think he was an unprincipled man, but he was certainly imprudent, and was led into acts that were reprehensible. Did he lose all your money for you?"
"What did you do?"
"Left the boarding school where I was being educated, and came to this city."
"Did you obtain any employment?"
"Yes, sir; I have been employed for a short time by Otis Goodnow, a merchant of Reade Street."
"And why did you leave?"
"Because Mr. Goodnow missed some articles from his stock, and I was charged with taking them."
Rodney was fearful of the effect of his frank confession upon Mr. Sargent, but the latter soon reassured him.
"Your honesty in restoring my sister's jewelry is sufficient proof that the charge was unfounded. I shall not let it influence me."
"Thank you, sir."
"Now as to the position of teacher, though very young, I don't see why you should not fill it satisfactorily. I will call Arthur."
He went to the door and called "Arthur."
A delicate looking boy with a sweet, intelligent face, came running into the room.
"Do you want me, papa?"
"Yes, Arthur. I have a new friend for you. Will you shake hands with him?"
Arthur, who was not a shy boy, went up at once to Rodney and offered his hand.
"I am glad to see you," he said.
Rodney smiled. He was quite taken with the young boy.
"What's your name?" the latter asked.
"Are you going to stay and make us a visit?"
Mr. Sargent answered this question.
"Would you like to have Rodney stay?" he asked.
"How would you like to have him give you lessons in Latin and other studies?"
"I should like it. I am sure he wouldn't be cross. Are you a teacher, Rodney?"
"I will be your teacher if you are willing to have me."
"Yes, I should like it. And will you go to walk with me in Central Park?"
"Then, papa, you may as well engage him. I was afraid you would get a tiresome old man for my teacher."
"That settles it, Rodney," said Mr. Sargent, smiling. "Now, Arthur, run out and I will speak further with Rodney about you."
"All right, papa."
"As Arthur seems to like you, I will give you a trial. As he suggested, I should like to have you become his companion as well as teacher. You will come here at nine o'clock in the morning, and stay till four, taking lunch with your pupil. About the compensation, will you tell me what will be satisfactory to you?"
"I prefer to leave that to you, sir."
"Then we will say fifteen dollars a week--today is Thursday. Will you present yourself here next Monday morning?"
"If you would like an advance of salary, you need only say so."
"Thank you, sir, but I am fairly provided with money for the present."
"Then nothing more need be said. As I am to meet a gentleman at the Union League Club tonight, I will bid you good evening, and expect to see you on Monday."
Rodney rose and Mr. Sargent accompanied him to the door, shaking hands with him courteously by way of farewell.
Rodney emerged into the street in a state of joyous excitement. Twenty five dollars in his pocket, and fifteen dollars a week! He could hardly credit his good fortune.