Try and Trust by Horatio Alger
Chapter XXII. Robbed in the Night
Herbert entered the cars, and took a seat by the window. His small bundle, containing all the extra clothing he had been able to bring away from the inhospitable home of Mr. Holden, he placed in the seat beside him.
It was yet early, and there were but few persons in the car. But as the hour for starting approached, it gradually filled up. Still, the seat next to Herbert remained untaken.
At length a young man, apparently about nineteen, walked up the aisle, and, pausing, inquired, "Is this seat engaged?"
"No," said Herbert, at the same time removing his bundle.
"Then, if you have no objection, I'll take possession."
He accordingly seated himself, and commenced a conversation.
"Going to New York?" he asked.
"Yes," said Herbert.
"Do you live there?"
"No; I have never been there before."
"Are you going on a visit?"
"No; I am going to live there; that is, if I can find anything to do."
"Are you alone?"
"So am I. Suppose we hitch teams."
"I don't understand."
"Suppose we go to some hotel together. I have been there before, and can tell you where to go. It's awful dull being alone. I always like to pick up company."
Herbert hardly knew what to say to this proposition. He did not exactly like the appearance, or fancy the free and easy manners of his new acquaintance, but he felt lonely, and, besides, he hardly knew what excuse to make. He, therefore, gave his assent to the arrangement proposed.
"What's your name?" asked his new friend, familiarly.
"Mine is Greenleaf--Peter Greenleaf. Have you come from a distance?"
"From Waverley, in Ohio, not far from Cincinnati."
"I am from Philadelphia. I've been in a store there, but I didn't like the style, and I concluded to go to New York. There's more chance for a fellow of enterprise there."
"What sort of a store were you in?"
"Dry-goods store--Hatch & Macy. Old Hatch is a mean skinflint, and wouldn't pay me half what I was worth. I don't want to brag, but there wasn't a man in that store that sold as much as I did. And how much do you think I got?"
"I don't know."
"Only seven dollars a week. If I hadn't made something another way. I couldn't have paid my expenses."
"I should think you might live on seven dollars a week."
This was before the war had increased the expenses of living.
"Couldn't do it. Board cost me four dollars a week, and that only left three for other expenses. My cigars cost me nearly that. Then I wanted to go to the theater now and then, and, of course, I must dress like a gentleman. I tell you what, seven dollars a week didn't begin to do me."
"How did you manage, then?"
"Oh, I made so much more by banking."
"By banking?" repeated Herbert, in astonishment.
"Yes; only it was a faro bank. I used to pick up considerable that way, sometimes."
"A faro bank!" repeated Herbert, in dismay. "Why, that's the same as gambling, isn't it?"
"Well, what's the odds? You take your chance, and you may win or lose. It's a pretty fair thing."
After this confession, Herbert became more than ever doubtful whether he should care to remain long in the company of his present companion.
Meanwhile, the cars were moving rapidly. Peter Greenleaf, as he called himself, talked volubly, and appeared to have a considerable familiarity with certain phases of life, the knowledge of which was not likely to have been very profitable to him. Still, Herbert was interested in his communications, though the opinion which he formed of him was far from favorable.
"Where are you going to stop when you get to New York?" inquired Peter.
"I don't know anything about the city. I suppose I shall have to go to a hotel first."
"Suppose we go to French's Hotel?"
"Where is that?"
"Near the park. It's on the European plan. You pay fifty cents a day for your rooms, and whatever you please for your meals."
"I think I shall like that. I shall want to get into a boarding-house as soon as possible."
"All right. We'll take a room together at the hotel."
This arrangement was not to Herbert's taste, but he did not care to offend his companion by objecting to it, so by his silence, he gave consent.
"What are you going to do in New York?" he asked.
"I shall look up a situation. I won't take less than fifteen dollars a week. A man of my experience ought to be worth that. Don't you think so?"
"Yes," said Herbert, dubiously, though it occurred to him that if he were an employer, he would not be likely to engage such a clerk at any price. But it is rather fortunate, all things considered, that we are able to keep our thoughts to ourselves, otherwise, the complacency of our companions, and sometimes our own, would run the risk of being rudely disturbed.
In course of time the terminus of the road was reached, and, crossing over from Jersey City, Herbert found himself, for the first time in his life, in the noise and whirl of the great city.
"And I am actually to live here," thought Herbert. "I wonder what Mr. Holden would say if he knew where I was?" Uncertain as his prospects were, he felt very glad that he was out of the clutches of the petty despot, whose chief pleasure was to make him uncomfortable. Here, at least, the future was full of possibilities of good fortune; there, it was certain discomfort and little to hope for.
"Where is the hotel you spoke of?" he asked, turning to Greenleaf.
"I'll lead you to it."
They walked up to Broadway, then up by the Astor House, and across the park to the hotel.
"We'll go in and secure a room the first thing," he said.
They entered, Greenleaf taking the lead.
"Show us a room with two beds," said Peter to the clerk.
A servant was summoned, and the room assigned to them was indicated.
"Have you any baggage?" asked the clerk.
"No," said Greenleaf, carelessly. "Mine was checked through from Philadelphia. I shan't send for it till morning."
"Then I must ask you to pay in advance."
"All right. Fifty cents, isn't it?"
"Mason," said Greenleaf, "have you got a dollar about you? I've got nothing less than a ten."
Herbert drew out a dollar and paid for himself and his companion.
They were now shown up to a room on the third floor, which proved to be a very comfortable one, looking out on the street. Herbert was glad to get a chance to wash himself thoroughly after the dusty journey which he had just completed. This ceremony over, they went down to the restaurant connected with the hotel, and took a hearty meal. Greenleaf made an effort to have Herbert pay for both, but this time Herbert also had a bill to change. It was rather a suspicious circumstance, he thought, that Greenleaf, who had no bill smaller than a ten, paid for his meal out of a one-dollar bill.
After supper Greenleaf bought a couple of cigars, and offered Herbert one.
"No, thank you," said our hero.
"Don't you smoke?"
"Where have you been living all your life? I couldn't get along without my cigar."
"Don't you think it hurtful to a boy to smoke?"
"I don't know about that. I'm a man now, but I've smoked ever since I was a boy. I think it does a fellow good."
"But it's expensive."
"Yes, that's so. I expect I've smoked a thousand dollars' worth of cigars in the course of my life."
"Don't you wish you had the money instead?"
"Yes; I should rather like the money, but I shouldn't be half the man I am if I hadn't smoked. It's mostly milksops that don't smoke. Nothing personal, you know, Mason."
"Of course not," said Herbert, smiling.
"Better have a cigar."
"No; I guess not."
"You'll come to it in time. I'll smoke it for you, then."
After smoking, Greenleaf expressed his intention of going to the theater. Herbert preferred to go to bed early, feeling rather tired. He was kept awake at first by the noise of the horse-cars and the bustle of the street outside, as well as by the exciting thoughts that crowded upon him, suggested by his actual arrival in the city, where he hoped to make a place for himself by energy and industry. But at last he fell asleep.
He slept soundly through the night. But towards morning he had a dream in which Abner Holden figured. His old employer seemed to be approaching him with a smile of exultation, and was about to lay violent hands upon him, when he awoke. It was broad daylight, being already seven o'clock in the morning. Herbert remembered where he was, and looked across the room for Greenleaf. But he was not visible. The bed was disarranged, and evidently had been slept in, but the occupant had risen.
"I didn't think he was a fellow to rise early," thought Herbert. "I suppose he is downstairs. I might as well get up, too."
Herbert jumped out of bed, and, going to the wash-stand, washed his face and hands. He then proceeded to dress.
"I wonder Greenleaf didn't wake me up," he thought.
But the reason was too soon made evident. Happening to put his hand in the pocket where he usually kept his pocketbook, he was startled at finding it empty. Somewhat alarmed, he began to hunt round upon the floor, thinking it possible that it might have dropped out. But his search was vain. It was not to be found. He then examined carefully the remaining pockets, still without success.
It was not until this moment that a suspicion entered his mind concerning his companion.
"Is it possible," he thought, "that Greenleaf has been mean enough to strip me of my money?"
Herbert did not want to believe this. He disliked to think badly of anyone, and he still hoped it would prove otherwise. It was barely possible that Greenleaf had taken his money by way of playing a practical joke upon him, and he might now be downstairs, waiting to be amused at Herbert's look of dismay when he discovered that he was penniless. Drowning men will catch at straws, and Herbert, in his trouble, tried to think this was probably the way it had happened.
"Greenleaf is rather a hard case, according to his own account," he said to himself. "but I can't believe he would be mean enough to rob me. I will go downstairs and see if I can find him."
Accordingly, leaving his chamber, he descended the staircase, and made his way to the office.
Herbert went up and spoke to the clerk who chanced to be inside.
"Have you seen my roommate?" he asked.
"What is the number of your room?"
"I remember now. He has gone."
"Gone!" echoed Herbert, in dismay.
"Yes; didn't you know of it?"
"He went away while I was asleep. How long since did he go?"
"He came to the office two hours since, and said he should not require the room any longer."
"Did he leave any message for me?"
"Did he say where he was going?"
Such an expression of dismay and perplexity overspread Herbert's face that the clerk could not help observing it.
"Is anything wrong?" he asked.
"Yes," said Herbert. "He has robbed me of my pocketbook, containing all my money."
"Whew!" whistled the clerk. "How much had you?"
"About sixty dollars."
"You're unlucky, that's a fact. Have you nothing left?"
Just then it flashed across Herbert's mind that when he had paid for his supper he had changed a five-dollar bill, and placed the balance, about four dollars and a half in his vest pocket. He at once felt in that pocket, and found it still there. Greenleaf had contented himself with the pocketbook.
"I have a little left," he said.
He paid for his room in advance for another day, and went down to breakfast.