Cast Upon the Breakers/Chapter XVII

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Mike Flynn was overjoyed to hear of Rodney's good fortune.

"Fifteen dollars a week!" he repeated. "Why you will be rich."

"Not exactly that, Mike, but it will make me comfortable. By the way, as I have so much more than you, it will only be fair for me to pay the whole rent."

"No, Rodney, you mustn't do that."

"I shall insist upon it, Mike. You would do the same in my place."

"Yes I would."

"So you can't object to my doing it."

"You are very kind to me, Rodney," said Mike, who had the warm heart of his race. "It isn't every boy brought up like you who would be willing to room with a bootblack."

"But you are not a bootblack now. You are a telegraph boy."

"There are plenty that mind me when I blacked boots down in front of the Astor House."

"You are just as good a boy for all that. How much did you make last week?"

"Four dollars salary, and a dollar and a half in extra tips."

"Hereafter you must save your rent money for clothes. We must have you looking respectable."

"Won't you adopt me, Rodney?" asked Mike with a laughing face.

"That's a good idea. Perhaps I will. In that case you must obey all my orders. In the first place, what are you most in want in the way of clothing?"

"I haven't got but two shirts."

"That is hardly enough for a gentleman of your social position. Anything else."

"I'm short on collars and socks."

"Then we'll go out shopping. I'll buy you a supply of each."

"But you haven't begun to work yet."

"No, but Mrs. Harvey made me a present of twenty five dollars. We'll go to some of the big stores on Sixth Avenue where we can get furnishing goods cheap."

Rodney carried out his purpose, and at the cost of four dollars supplied his room mate with all he needed for the present.

"See what it is to be rich, Mike," he said. "It seems odd for me to be buying clothes for my adopted son."

"You're in luck, Rodney, and so am I. I hope some time I can do you a favor."

"Perhaps you can, Mike. If I should get sick, you might take my place as tutor."

"You must know an awful lot, Rodney," said Mike, regarding his companion with new respect.

"Thank you for the compliment, Mike. I hope Mr. Sargent will have the same opinion."

The next day it is needless to say that Rodney did not resume the business of newsboy. He was very glad to give it up. He dressed with unusual care and took a walk down town.

As he passed Reade Street by chance Jasper was coming around the corner. His face lighted up first with pleasure at seeing Rodney, for it gratified his mean nature to triumph over the boy whom he had ousted from his position, and next with surprise at his unusually neat and well dressed appearance. Rodney looked far from needing help. He might readily have been taken for a boy of aristocratic lineage.

"Hallo!" said Jasper, surveying Rodney curiously.

"How are you this morning, Jasper?" returned Rodney quietly.

"Why ain't you selling papers?"

"I don't like the business."

"But you've got to make a living."

"Quite true."

"Are you going to black boots?"

"Why should I? Is it a desirable business?"

"How should I know?" asked Jasper, coloring.

"I didn't know but you might have had some experience at it. I haven't."

"Do you mean to insult me?" demanded Jasper hotly.

"I never insult anybody. I will only say that you are as likely to take up the business as I."

"I've got a place."

"How do you know but I have?"

"Because you were selling papers yesterday and are walking the street today."

"That is true. But I have a place engaged for all that. I shall go to work on Monday."

Jasper pricked up his ears.

"Where is it?" he asked.

"I don't care to tell at present."

"Is it true? Have you got a place?"

"Yes."

"I don't see how you could. Mr. Goodnow wouldn't give you a recommendation."

"There is no reason why he should not."

"What, after your taking cloaks and dress patterns from the store?"

"I did nothing of the kind. Sooner or later Mr. Goodnow will find out his mistake. Probably the real thief is still in his employ."

Jasper turned pale and regarded Rodney searchingly, but there was nothing in his manner or expression to indicate that his remark had been personal. He thought it best to turn the conversation.

"How much pay do you get--four dollars?"

"More than that."

"You don't get as much as you did at our store?"

"Yes; I get more."

Now it was Jasper's turn to show surprise. He did not know whether to believe Rodney or not, but there was something in his face which commanded belief.

"How much do you get?" he asked.

"You would not believe me if I told you."

"Try me," returned Jasper, whose curiosity was aroused.

"I am to get fifteen dollars a week."

Jasper would not have looked more surprised if Rodney had informed him that he was to become a Cabinet minister.

"You're joking!" he ejaculated.

"Not at all."

"How could you have the face to ask such a price. Did you pass yourself off as an experienced salesman?"

"No."

"I don't understand it at all, that is, if you are telling the truth."

"I have told you the truth, Jasper. I have no object in deceiving you. The salary was fixed by my employer."

"Who did you say it was?"

"I didn't say."

Jasper's cunning scheme was defeated. He felt disturbed to hear of Rodney's good fortune, but he had a shot in reserve.

"I don't think you will keep your place long," he said in a malicious tone.

"Why not?"

"Your employer will hear under what circumstances you left our store, and then of course he will discharge you."

"You will be sorry for that won't you?" asked Rodney pointedly.

"Why of course I don't want you to have bad luck."

"Thank you. You are very considerate."

"Suppose you lose your place, shall you go back to selling papers?"

"I hope to find something better to do."

"Where are you going now?"

"To get some lunch."

"So am I. Suppose we go together."

"Very well, providing you will lunch with me."

"I don't want to impose upon you."

"You won't. We may not meet again for some time, and we shall have this meal to remind us of each other."

They went to a well known restaurant on Park Row. Rodney ordered a liberal dinner for himself, and Jasper followed his example nothing loath. He was always ready to dine at the expense of others, but even as he ate he could not help wondering at the strange chance that had made him the guest of a boy who was selling papers the day before.

He had nearly finished eating when a disturbing thought occurred to him. Suppose Rodney didn't have money enough to settle the bill, and threw it upon him.

When Rodney took the checks and walked up to the cashier's desk he followed him with some anxiety. But his companion quietly took out a five dollar bill, from his pocket and tendered it to the cashier. The latter gave him back the right change and the two boys went out into the street.

"You seem to have plenty of money," said Jasper.

"There are very few who would admit having that," smiled Rodney.

"I don't see why you sold papers if you have five dollar bills in your pocket."

"I don't want to be idle."

"May I tell my uncle and Mr. Goodnow that you have got a place?"

"If you like."

"Well, good by, I must be hurrying back to the store."

Rodney smiled. He rather enjoyed Jasper's surprise and perplexity.