Chapter IX. Locked Out.
 

During Richard's and Doc Linyard's meal the Watch Below had been gradually filling up, principally with sailors, the majority of whom were short, heavy-set men, who clapped each other on the back and carried on their conversation in a sea lingo that was nearly unintelligible to Richard.

One thing, however, impressed the boy. All the patrons seemed of a better class than most sailors are, and he was glad to notice that drunkenness and profanity were entirely absent. Once in a while some one would let fall some coarse remark, but he was quickly choked off by the others out of respect for "Doc's Betty," who hurried around with a shining face, waiting on one and exchanging a pleasant word with another.

Every one was on familar terms with the proprietor. They were glad to see him back to the "fo'castle," but those who knew were sorry his mission had been unsuccessful.

"They all know me and wishes me well," remarked the sailor to Richard. "It's something to be proud of--around on this here globe forty-five years and not an enemy in the world."

"How long were you a sailor?"

"Almost thirty years. I shipped as cabin boy on a South America brig when I was fifteen. I'd be at it yet if, as I told you, Betty hadn't anchored me ashore."

"It's long time. Some time I'd like to hear of some of the places you visited. But I'd better get at that advertisement."

"No hurry--the newspaper office is only a few blocks from here."

"But you want this advertisement to go in tomorrow, don't you?"

"They take 'em up to ten o'clock, and maybe later."

Presently the crowd began to thin out, and by nine o'clock only half-a- dozen customers remained. Mrs. Linyard and the old man waited upon these, and Doc Linyard drew up to the table and motioned Richard to go ahead.

"Here is the paper I'm going to put the notice in," he said. "Guess you better follow the style of the other advertisements."

"I will," replied Richard. "What is your brother-in-law's full name?"

"Thomas Clover. He has no middle name."

"And his address?"

"He came from Brighton, England, and lived here, in a number of places on the east side."

"The east side?"

"Yes; he lived somewhere on Cherry Hill last."

"And what is your wife's name?"

"Only Betty. That stands for Elizabeth, I suppose, but she was never anything else to me or anybody else."

"Better let it go at that, then," returned Richard. "Now what is the name of the estate to be divided?"

The old sailor told him.

"And say we want to hear from them at once," he added.

Richard went to work earnestly. Several attempts to get the advertisement into proper shape were failures. Finally he produced the following:

INFORMATION WANTED IMMEDIATELY of THOMAS CLOVER or his heirs, formerly of Brighton, England, but when last heard of lived in Cherry Street, this city. He is an heir of the PELEG SABINE estate which awaits settlement. Address DOC LINYARD, THE WATCH BELOW, West Street, New York.

"How will that do?" asked the boy.

"First-rate?" cried Linyard. "Only don't put my address on it. I want the answer to come through a box in the newspaper office. I don't want to be bothered by lawyers and detectives looking for a job on the case."

"I see," said Richard, and crossing out the address he substituted the words:

"Doc, box ---, this office."

"Guess I'll take a walk over to the newspaper office at once," said the old tar, when the boy had finished. "Reckon as how pop and the mistress can get along for a while. I suppose you'd like to come along."

"Indeed I would. I'd like to see as much of the city as I can before I get to work."

"There's lots of strange sights, no doubt, to new eyes like yours. You'll find lots that's bright and a heap more that's dark and dismal enough."

A moment later they set out. Passing up Liberty Street, they turned into Greenwich and walked along to Fulton.

The Elevated Road, with its noise, was a surprise to the boy, but he was not allowed time to notice it long, for the sailor hurried him up Fulton Street, to St. Paul's Church, and then they stood on Broadway. "What a busy--an awfully busy--street!" was Richard's comment.

"It's rather dull now," said Doc Linyard. "Just wait till day-time. The wagons and people are enough to drive a man wild. That's the postoffice over there," he continued, as he pointed to the stone structure that stands as a wedge, separating Broadway from Park Row and the Bowery.

"Come ahead. Here we are on Newspaper Row, as lots call it. This was the Herald building before that paper moved uptown. It used to be Barnum's Museum years ago. Way down at the head of Frankfort Street is the World, and nearly all the rest of the great dailies are strung along between the two. Here we are."

As Doc Linyard finished he led the way into the outer office of a newspaper about midway down the Row.

It was a lively place, a constant stream of people coming in and going out, and the hum of many voices--the whole putting Richard in mind of some huge machine, grinding out its stipulated work.

Along one side of the counting room was a row of small windows, each labeled with its department name.

Stepping up to that marked "Advertisements," the old sailor handed in the one Richard had written out.

The clerk examined it. Then he wrote in the number of a box, and put down several private marks in the corner.

"Pay at the next desk," he said, handing the paper back.

"How much will it be?" asked Linyard.

"Ninety cents."

At the next window the man in charge put the advertisement on file along with numerous others. Then he took the money the tar handed over, and in return filled out a printed order entitling the bearer to receive all letters bearing the address advertised, for ten days.

"It will go in to-morrow?" asked the tar.

"Certainly."

"Suppose we take a walk up the Bowery," suggested the sailor, when they were once more outside. "It's early yet."

Richard readily consented. He had often heard his father speak of the street--how beautiful it had been years ago, and how trade had taken hold of it, and the boy was curious to see what it was like.

The thoroughfare was a revelation to him, just as it is to every one seeing it for the first time. The shops huddled together, their show-windows littered with articles of every description, the second-hand establishments, the pawnbrokers, the peddlers and street-stand merchants, who offered everything from shoelaces to collars, books and trick novelties, were all decidedly new to him.

One stand in particular attracted his attention. It was laden with choice books, at remarkably low prices. There was a well-bound history of the United States for forty-five cents, and a beautiful edition of Shakspere, with steel engravings, for the small price of one dollar.

"Selling 'em off cheap," cried the vender, putting several volumes in Richard's hands. "Take 'em right along. You'll miss the opportunity of a lifetime if you don't."

"They are very nice," replied the boy. "But I guess I won't take any to-night."

"You'd better. They may be all gone by to-morrow. This is only a job lot, and dirt cheap."

"No, I guess not," and Richard put the books reluctantly back on the stand.

"Give you a special discount of ten per cent," persisted the dealer.

"No; I haven't the money."

"Oh! Well, come around to-morrow. I'll lay the books aside for you."

"No, don't do that. I may not be back," and without waiting for further words, Richard hurried off.

Meanwhile Doc Linyard, all unconscious of what was transpiring, had gone on ahead, and when Richard looked around for him, the old sailor was nowhere to be seen.

Rather startled, the boy hurried along to catch up. But under the Elevated Railroad and down by the Brooklyn Bridge all was confusion and jam, and in a moment Richard realized that he had lost his friend.

He hurried along several blocks, and then just as rapidly retraced his steps. But it was useless. Doc Linyard had disappeared in the crowd and was not to be found.

"Now I'm in a pretty pickle," thought Richard. "I suppose there is nothing to do but get back to the Watch Below."

But that was easier said than done. The boy did not like to make too many inquiries, and so started off on his own account.

He paid dearly for the experiment. A wrong turn or two, and lo! it took Richard an hour to get back to West Street and to the restaurant.

And arrived here, an awkward state of affairs confronted the boy. The Watch Below was closed for the night. All was dark, and not a soul was in sight!