“I don’t allow no other newsboys in this block,” said the other.
“Don’t you? You ain’t the city government, are you?”
“I don’t want any of your impudence. Clear out!”
“Clear out yourself!”
“I’ll give you a lickin’!”
“Perhaps you will when you’re able.”
Jack spoke manfully; but the fact was that the other boy probably was able, being three years older, and as many inches taller.
Jack kept on crying his papers, and his opponent, incensed at the contemptuous disregard of his threats, advanced toward him, and, taking Jack unawares, pushed him off the sidewalk with such violence that he nearly fell flat. Jack felt that the time for action had arrived. He dropped his papers temporarily on the sidewalk, and, lowering his head, butted against his young enemy with such force as to double him up, and seat him, gasping for breath, on the sidewalk. Tom Rafferty, for this was his name, looked up in astonishment at the unexpected form of the attack.
“Well done, my lad!” said a hearty voice.
Jack turned toward the speaker, and saw a stout man dressed in a blue coat with brass buttons. He was dark and bronzed with exposure to the weather, and there was something about him which plainly indicated the sailor.
“Well done, my lad!” he repeated. “You know how to pay off your debts.”
“I try to,” said Jack, modestly. “But where’s my papers?”
The papers, which he had dropped, had disappeared. One of the boys who had seen the fracas had seized the opportunity to make off with them, and poor Jack was in the position of a merchant who had lost his stock in trade.
“Who took them papers?” he asked, looking about him.
“I saw a boy run off with them,” said a bystander.
“I’m glad of it,” said Tom Rafferty, sullenly.
Jack looked as if he was ready to pitch into him again, but the sailor interfered.
“Don’t mind the papers, my lad. What were they worth?”
“I gave twenty cents for ’em.”
“Then here’s thirty.”
“I don’t think I ought to take it,” said Jack. “It’s my loss.”
“Take it, my boy. It won’t ruin me. I’ve got plenty more behind.”
“Thank you, sir; I’ll go and buy some more papers.”
“Not to-night. I want you to take a cruise with me.”
“All right, sir.”
“I suppose you’d like to know who I am?” said the sailor, as they moved off together.
“I suppose you’re a sailor.”
“You can tell that by the cut of my jib. Yes, my lad, I’m captain of the Argo, now in port. It’s a good while since I’ve been in York. For ten years I’ve been plying between Liverpool and Calcutta. Now I’ve got absence to come over here.”
“Are you an American, sir?”
“Yes; I was raised in Connecticut, but then I began going to sea when I was only thirteen. I only arrived to-day, and I find the city changed since ten years ago, when I used to know it.”