Try and Trust by Horatio Alger
Chapter XXVIII. Peter Greenleaf Again
Notwithstanding he was receiving a salary larger than is usually paid boys of his age, Herbert felt cramped for the want of money. Six dollars a week would have paid his expenses comfortably, if he had been well provided to begin with. But all the clothing he had, besides what he wore, he had brought with him in a small bundle, the greatest part having been left in his trunk at the house of Abner Holden. He often wished that he could have them with him, but, of course, this wish was vain. Indeed, Mr. Holden, when the conviction was forced upon him that there was no chance of recovering his bound boy, quietly confiscated the trunk and its contents; and this, to some extent, consoled him for the departure of the owner.
Herbert found himself sadly in need of underclothing; and, of course, his only suit, from constant wear, was likely to deteriorate rapidly. He saved all the money he could from his weekly wages toward purchasing a new one, but his savings were inconsiderable. Besides, he needed a trunk, or would need one, when he had anything to put in it.
"If I only had that money Greenleaf stole from me, I should be all right," he said to himself, after long and anxious thought on the great question of ways and means. "I don't see how I can save up more than two dollars a week out of my wages, and it will take a long time for that to amount to much."
There certainly did not appear to be much chance of saving more. His boarding place was as cheap as he could obtain, or, if there were cheaper anywhere, they would probably be also poorer, and our hero felt that Mrs. Morgan's was as poor as he should be able to endure.
He was rather mortified, too, at the poverty of his wardrobe. Mrs. Morgan asked him one day, "When is your trunk coming?" and Herbert was obliged to own, with some shame, that he had none. The landlady looked surprised, but he had no explanation to offer.
"I suppose I shall have to wait till my wages are raised," thought Herbert, with a little sigh. This, he reflected, would not be very soon, as he had started with a salary greater than he was likely to earn, as Mr. Godfrey had said.
But relief was nearer than he anticipated.
One day, as he was walking up the Bowery, he saw, at a little distance in front of him, a figure which he well remembered. The careless, jaunty step and well-satisfied air were familiar to him. In short, it was Peter Greenleaf, who had played so mean a trick upon him at the hotel.
Herbert's heart beat quick with excitement, mingled with pleasure. He felt a natural indignation against this young man, who had cheated him so remorselessly, and left him, indifferent to his fate, alone and almost penniless in a strange city.
What should he do?
Close behind him was a policeman slowly pacing his regular round. Herbert went up to him, and, pointing to Greenleaf, rapidly recounted his grievances.
"It was a mean trick," said the policeman, who was a favorable specimen of his class. "Is this the first time you have seen him?"
"Tell me what you want to do."
"I want to get my money back."
"Probably he has spent it. How long since he robbed you?"
"Not much chance, then. Probably his pocket's empty, unless he's fleeced somebody else in the meantime. However, it's as well to see what can be done. Now, I'll tell you how to act. Go up to him boldly, and demand your money. If he bluffs you off, call me."
"All right," said Herbert.
He hastened his step, and, advancing, tapped Greenleaf on the shoulder.
Greenleaf turned. When he recognized Herbert, he looked surprised and disconcerted. But he had plenty of assurance, and quickly determined upon his course. Assuming a stolid look, he said: "Well, my lad, who are you; and what do you want?"
"You know who I am, well enough," said Herbert, angrily.
"Do I? Then I'm uncommonly forgetful. I haven't any recollection of your interesting countenance," he said, with a sneer.
"I suppose you don't want to remember me, Mr. Greenleaf," said Herbert.
"Greenleaf! You are thinking of somebody else. My name's Thompson."
"Your name was Greenleaf when you stopped with me at French's Hotel," said Herbert, sturdily.
"You're crazy, I fancy," said Greenleaf, shrugging his shoulders. "I never stopped at the hotel you mention, in my life."
"Where's the money you took from me?" demanded Herbert, who felt convinced of Greenleaf's identity, in spite of his denial.
"What are you talking about?" said Greenleaf, assuming a look of surprise.
"You went off before I was awake, with more than fifty dollars of mine."
"Do you mean to insult me?" said Greenleaf, drawing himself up. "I've a great mind to knock you over!"
"Mr. Greenleaf," said Herbert, firmly, "either return my money, or as much as you have got left, or I will call a policeman."
"Just what I shall do, myself, unless you stop this nonsense," said Greenleaf, angrily; but not without a sensation of uneasiness, as it struck his mind that Herbert might really intend to do what he had said.
"Once more, will you give up that money?" said Herbert, firmly.
"Stand out of the way," said Greenleaf, "if you know what is best for yourself!"
He was about to push by, thrusting Herbert roughly out of the way, when our hero turned, and his look summoned the policeman, who hastened to the spot.
"Give this boy his money," he said, authoritatively. "I know all about your little game. It's up now. Unless you hand over your plunder, you must go with me."
Greenleaf changed color, and was evidently alarmed.
"I've got nobody's money, except my own," he said.
"Come along, then," said the officer, taking him by the arm.
"Stop a minute," said he, hurriedly, finding that matters had come to a crisis. "If I give up what I have, will you let me go?"
"Well, that depends on how much you have."
"I've got twenty dollars."
Herbert was about to say that this would do, but the policeman shook his head.
"Won't do," said he. "Come along."
After a little haggling, Greenleaf produced forty dollars, which Herbert pocketed, with much satisfaction.
"Now go along, and mind you don't try any more such games."
Greenleaf needed no second permission to be gone. He feared that the officer might change his mind, and he might, after all, be consigned to the station house.
"Thank you," said Herbert, gratefully. "I needed the money badly. I shouldn't have recovered it but for you."
"Take better care of it next time," said the officer, not unkindly. "Take care not to trust a stranger too easily. Better take my advice, and put it in a savings bank." "I shall be obliged to use most of it," said Herbert. "What I don't need, I will put in the bank."
The recovery of so much of his lost money seemed to Herbert quite a lucky windfall. He went at once to a trunk store, and, for five dollars, purchased a good, durable trunk, which he ordered sent home to his lodgings. Fifteen dollars more he invested in necessary underclothing, and this left him one-half of the money for future use. Besides this he had six dollars, which, in three weeks, he had saved from his wages. With this sum, and the articles he had purchased, he felt quite rich, and returned to the counting-room--this happened during the hour given him for dinner--in unusually good spirits. He had other reasons for encouragement. He was getting accustomed to his duties at the counting- room. Mr. Godfrey always treated him kindly, and had called upon him again that very morning to assist him in translating a French letter, complimenting him, at the same time, upon his scholarship.
"I'll do my best," thought Herbert. "'Try and Trust,' that's my motto. I think it will bring me success."
But even while he spoke, an unforeseen danger menaced him.