THE FIRST DAY IN NEW YORK

Halfway across the Atlantic the good ship _Arcturus_ was making her way
from Liverpool to New York. She was a sailing vessel, and her speed by
no means equaled that of the mighty steamships, more than one of which
passed her, leaving her far behind.

While she was used chiefly for freight, she carried a few passengers,
less than twenty in all.

I wish to call the reader’s attention to the occupants of one of the
small staterooms, a man and a boy. There was a great contrast between
them. The man was thin and hollow-cheeked, and as he lay in his berth he
looked to be, as he was, in the last stages of consumption.

The boy, who must have been nearly sixteen, was the picture of health.
He was inclined to be dark, with black hair, bright eyes, and with
considerable color in his cheeks.

He bent over the reclining figure, and asked, with anxious solicitude:
“How do you feel, father?”

“No better, Scott,” and the father began to cough.

“Does it hurt you to cough?”

“Yes, but it won’t trouble me long.”

“You will be better?” said the boy, half inquiringly.

“No, Scott, I shall never be better. I am very near the end.”

“You don’t mean that?” exclaimed the boy, in pained surprise.

“Yes, I do, Scott, and you may as well know it. I doubt whether I shall
live to see New York.”

Scott Walton looked dismayed, for till now he had not suspected that his
father’s life was in danger. Yet, as he gazed at the fragile form, he
was forced to believe that his father spoke truly.

“What will become of me,” he said, with emotion, “alone in a strange
land?”

“That is what I want to speak to you about.” Here the man began to cough
again.

“Don’t talk, father. It makes you cough.”

“I must, my son. Perhaps I may have no other chance. I am sorry that I
must leave you almost penniless.”

“I don’t mind that, father. If you could only live—-”

“Don’t interrupt me, for there are some things I must tell you. You will
find in my wallet twenty pounds in English bank notes, worth in America
about one hundred dollars. This sum will support you while you are
looking for a situation, for you will need to find work.”

“I am strong and willing to work, father.”

“Yes, you are strong. You don’t take after me, but after your mother’s
family.”

“Have you any relatives in America?”

“There is a cousin of your mother’s in New York, Ezra Little. I believe
he is well-to-do. I can’t tell you what he is doing or where he lives,
but you can look up his name in the New York directory.”

“Is he the only relative we have in America?

“No, there is a cousin of my own, Philo Walton, who went out to one of
the Western States. He was a good-hearted fellow, and likely to make his
way, but I have heard nothing of him, and I don’t know whether he is
still living or not.

“There seems a very small chance of your finding him, in so large a
country, but you can probably find Ezra Little. Take down these names,
Scott. They may be of importance to you.”

Scott drew out a small memorandum book, and did as directed.

“I would not have started from England, had I supposed I should have
become worse so rapidly,” continued Mr. Walton. “I think the sea air has
aggravated my disease. There seemed nothing for us at home though, and
no friends on whom we could call. I built my hopes on Ezra Little. I
thought for your mother’s sake he would help her boy. If I could live to
see him, and commend him to you in person, I could die in peace.”

He had hardly completed these words when he had a terrible fit of
coughing, which seemed to rack his feeble frame.

“Don’t talk any more, father!” said Scott, in alarm. “Can’t I get you
something to relieve you? I will go to the steward and ask for a cup of
hot tea.”

Without waiting for an answer he left the stateroom and sought the
steward.

He was gone but ten minutes, but when he returned the bedclothes were
stained with blood.

His father had had a hemorrhage, and was lying with closed eyes,
breathing faintly.

The ship doctor was summoned, and applied restoratives, but without
effect. Before the morning dawned, Scott was fatherless.

It was a great trial to the lonely boy to see his father’s body
consigned to the deep. He wished he might carry it to the land which was
to be his future home, and have it buried in some quiet cemetery; but it
would be a week at least before the slow-going ship would reach New
York, and the sailors would have rebelled at having a corpse on board
for that length of time.

Scott secured the money of which his father had spoken, and a sealed
packet inscribed:

_For My Son._

_To be opened a year from my death._

The boy’s grief was so sincere that his curiosity was not aroused by
this inscription. He put the packet in his traveling bag, and tried to
prepare himself for the solitary life he must now lead.

There was a good deal of sympathy felt for the lonely boy on the ship,
and more than one of the passengers proffered sympathy and
companionship.

Scott received their advances politely, but showed by his manner that he
preferred to be alone.

A week later, however, when the vessel was within a few hours of
reaching her destination, he felt that it would be well to obtain some
information about the new country that awaited him.

Among the passengers was a young man who looked to be about twenty-five.
His name was Crawford Lane. He wore a light overcoat, a showy necktie, a
low-cut vest, and was in appearance a very good specimen of the Bowery
swell.

He joined Scott as he was standing on deck, trying to catch the first
glimpse of land.

“Well, my young friend,” he said, affably, “I suppose that you, like the
rest of us, are glad to be near port.”

“I don’t know,” replied Scott, listlessly.

“Of course you miss your father.”

“Oh, so much!” said the boy, the tears coming into his eyes. “For years
we have lived together and been constant companions.”

“Just so! My father died five years ago, and I often miss him.”

“But you doubtless have other relatives, while he was all I had,”
explained Scott.

“Yes, I have other relatives. An uncle of mine is the present mayor of
Chicago. Of course, you have heard of Chicago.”

“Yes; it is one of your largest cities, is it not?”

“Yes, it’s a smart place, Chicago is.”

“Do you live there?”

“Not at present. I have relations in New York also. They are rich; live
on Fifth Avenue, or near by.”

“You are fortunate in having so many relations,” said Scott, with a
touch of envy.

“I don’t know. One of my uncles tried to cheat me out of part of my
inheritance. Relations are not always the best friends.”

“I hope he did not succeed,” said Scott, politely, though he felt very
little interest in the fortunes of his fellow voyager.

“No. That is, he defrauded me of ten thousand dollars, but there was a
good deal more, so that I was not inconvenienced.”

Lane spoke carelessly, and gave Scott the impression that he was a rich
man.

“Then you have a home to go to,” said Scott, sadly.

“No,” answered Lane. “You see my father and mother are dead, and I live
at the hotels or in apartments of my own. I don’t care to live with
relations. Have you any relations in New York?”

“None that I have seen. There is a cousin of my mother, Ezra Little, who
I am told is well-to-do. But I never saw him, and I don’t know how he
will receive me.”

“Then you will probably go to a hotel?”

“I suppose so, but I know nothing of New York.”

“I hope,” said Lane, in an insinuating tone, “that your father left you
in easy circumstances?”

“No, I shall have to make my own way.”

“Surely you have some money.”

“Yes, I have twenty pounds. I am told that amounts to a hundred dollars
in American currency.”

“Yes,” answered Lane, brightening up. “Well, that will tide you over
till you get something to do. But probably your relative will provide
for you.”

“No,” said Scott; “I shall not ask him to do so. I prefer to earn my own
living.”

“Just so. Well, I can be of some service to you. I will find you a
reasonable place to stop, and when you get ready you can call on this
Mr. Little.”

“Thank you!”

Scott was disposed to accept the offer of his new acquaintance, as, of
course, he himself knew absolutely nothing about New York.

When the _Arcturus_ arrived in port, Scott placed himself in charge of
Mr. Lane, and accompanied that gentleman on shore. He congratulated
himself on having a competent guide.

He was struck by the bright and bustling appearance of the great
American metropolis, and, English though he was, he was fain to admit
that it was more attractive than London.

Scott had but one gripsack, but in this respect Crawford Lane was no
better off.

“I just took a brief trip across the water,” he explained, “and I don’t
believe in being hampered with baggage.”

“Then you were not gone long?” said Scott.

“No; I just ran across in company with an old college friend. He will be
absent several months, but I could not spare the time from my business.”

“Have you anything which a boy of my age could do in your office?”
asked Scott, who felt that he must now be on the search for a place.

“Not at present. My business is of a peculiar nature. I travel for a
large house. But I will keep my eyes open, and if I should hear of
anything I will most certainly let you know.”

“Do you expect anyone to meet you at the pier?”

“No, I never say much about my movements. My friends can wait till I get
fairly established in a hotel.”

Scott was somewhat amazed when his new acquaintance conducted him to a
very plain house on the Bowery.

“I don’t care for style,” remarked Lane, observing Scott’s surprise,
“and though I could afford to go to the most expensive hotel in the
city, I know that your means are limited, and I wish to select one in
which you can afford to remain with me.”

“Thank you, Mr. Lane; you are very considerate. I haven’t much money,
and I must be economical.”

“I will step up to the desk and arrange about rooms,” added Lane.

“Thank you.”

Crawford Lane left Scott sitting in the reading room, but he returned in
five minutes.

“I find,” he said, “that the hotel is crowded. I have engaged a single
room with two beds. Will that be agreeable?”

Scott felt that he would have preferred to room alone, but he did not
know how to make objection, and acquiesced in the arrangement.

“I would like to go upstairs at once,” he said, “so that I may wash and
change my underclothing.”

“Very well.”

They were shown up by a bell boy. The room on the third floor was rather
small, but contained two single beds.

The place and its furnishings looked dingy, and even dirty, but Scott
was not disposed to make any unnecessary complaint.

“I will take the bed near the door, if you don’t object,” said Lane.

“It is immaterial to me.”

“Very well. By the way, didn’t you say you had some Bank of England
notes to exchange for American money?”

“Yes.”

“While you are making your toilet, I might slip down to a broker’s in
Wall Street, and make the exchange. What do you say?”

Scott had his share of caution, and he remembered that his knowledge of
Mr. Lane was very limited. Indeed, on reflection, it occurred to him
that his sole knowledge of his acquaintance was derived from that
gentleman himself.

“I think,” he said, “that I will wait till to-morrow. I have a little
silver with me that will do me till then.”

“Oh, very well!” said Lane, in an indifferent tone, though his face
expressed some disappointment. “I only thought that I might save you
some trouble.”

“Thank you, but I don’t mind the trouble. I shall be interested to see
Wall Street myself.”

“All right, I will go there with you to-morrow, or whenever you choose.”

“I should not like to take up your time. Probably you have business of
your own to occupy you.”

“Oh, I can get through a good deal of business in a short time. When you
are ready, come downstairs. You will find me in the office.”

Left to himself, Scott took a good wash and put on some clean linen,
which he found refreshing. He divided his bank notes into two parcels,
one of which he put in his inside coat pocket, the other in an inside
pocket in his vest.

He took the hint from his father’s custom.

In twenty minutes he was ready to go downstairs. He found Crawford Lane
awaiting him in the office.

“Shall we go in to dinner now, Scott?” said his new friend, familiarly.

“Yes,” answered Scott, for, grieving though he did over his father’s
loss, he had the appetite of a healthy boy.

The dinner was plain, and the table neither neat nor attractive, but
Scott felt that he had no right to be fastidious, and upon the whole ate
heartily.

“Now, shall we go for a walk?” suggested Lane.

“If you like.”

Lane led the way to Broadway, pointing out various buildings and objects
of interest.

“What do you think of New York?” he asked.

“This seems a very lively street.”

“Yes, there is but one Broadway in the world.”

“But London is larger.”

“Yes, but less attractive.”

“I hope I can find something to do. Then I shall be contented.”

“Don’t borrow any trouble about that. I have influence, and will see
that you find employment,” said Lane, patronizingly.

“You are very kind, Mr. Lane.”

“I mean to be. I hope you will look upon me as a friend–and a brother.”

These words were kind, but Scott hesitated to respond. He had seen no
occasion to distrust his companion, but for some reason, unaccountable
to himself, he could not give him his confidence.

They sauntered up Broadway till they reached Waverly Place. Just at the
corner they attracted the attention of a boy of perhaps fifteen, who
seemed to recognize Scott’s companion.

He was a dark-haired, pleasant-looking boy, whose face seemed to
indicate German descent.

“Mr. Lane,” he said, touching Scott’s companion on the arm.

Crawford Lane wheeled round and eyed the boy as if disconcerted.

“What do you want, boy?” he demanded, haughtily. “I don’t know you.”

“Oh, yes, you do. My name is John Schickling.”

“I haven’t the honor of knowing you, Mr. John Schickling,” said Lane, in
a tone of sarcasm.

“You know me well enough,” said the boy, persistently.

“Just as you like, but I have no time to spend with you to-day. Pass on
and let me alone,” said Lane, impatiently.

“I will as soon as you pay me what you owe me.”

“Why, you impudent young rascal, how should I owe you anything?”

“You hired a room from my mother at three dollars a week, and you went
off owing three weeks’ lodging, if you will give me nine dollars I will
give you a receipt.”

“This is ridiculous nonsense. I never lived in three-dollar rooms.”

“All the same you had a room at our house for several weeks at the
price. I have been looking for you every day since you left us.”

“Boy,” said Crawford Lane, “I have just returned from Europe, and
therefore cannot have roomed in your house. If you have any doubt on the
subject, my young friend here will tell you that we arrived in New York
this morning on the ship _Arcturus_.”

“That may be,” rejoined John; “but it is two months since you left our
house. You have had time to go to Europe and back.”

“I can’t be troubled with you to-day, boy. Get out of my way!”

“Where can I find you? Where are you stopping?”

Crawford Lane drew a card from his pocket, and scribbling an address on
it, passed it to the boy. While John Schickling was trying to make it
out, Lane hurried on with Scott.

“Fifth Avenue Hotel!” repeated Johnny. “Why, that’s a very dear place.
If Mr. Lane can afford to stay there, he can afford to pay mother’s
bill.”

Later in the day John entered the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and went up to the
desk.

He showed the card to the clerk.

“Is any gentleman of that name staying here?” he asked.

“No,” answered the clerk, shaking his head.

“Has he ever stopped here?”

“No; I should remember the name if he had.”

“Sold again!” said Johnny. “If I ever meet Mr. Lane now, he won’t get
off so easily.”

“That is a very impudent boy!” said Lane, as he resumed his walk with
Scott.

“I thought him a pleasant-looking fellow. Didn’t you know him?”

“Never saw him before in the whole course of my life!”

“It is strange,” mused Scott. “He called you by your name.”

“Did he? I didn’t observe.”

“Yes.”

“Then he must have overheard you addressing me.”

“But he met us. He was not walking behind us.”

“I can’t undertake to explain it,” said Lane, shrugging his shoulders.
“The boy is evidently very artful. It is a put-up job.”

Scott made no comment, but he had been favorably impressed by John
Schickling’s open, frank face, and he felt some doubts about relying on
Lane’s explanation.

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