We sailed along for days and
And had the very best of plays;
But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
So there was no one left but me.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Dick Whittington was a poor little boy who lived in the country.
His father and mother were both dead.
Poor little Dick was always willing to work, but sometimes there was no work for him to do, so he often had nothing to eat.
Now Dick was a bright boy.
He kept both ears open to hear what was said around him.
He had heard many times about the great city of London.
Men said that in this great city the people were rich.
Dick had even heard that the streets were paved with gold.
“How I should like to visit that great city,” thought Dick, “for I could pick up gold from the streets!”
Dick had earned a little money, so one day he set out to walk to London.
He walked and walked and walked, but London was a long way from his home.
At last a man with a wagon came along. He was a kind man, and he gave Dick a ride.
“Where are you going?” asked Dick.
“I’m going to London,” said the man.
“You are very good to give me a ride. I am going there, too,” said Dick.
It was dark when they reached London.
That night Dick slept in a barn with the horses.
The next morning he looked for the golden stones in the streets.
He looked and looked, but he could find only dust and dirt.
There were many, many people in London, and Dick thought that he could soon find something to do.
He wandered around the streets, seeking for work.
He asked many people, but no one wanted the poor little country boy.
As Dick had no money for food, he soon became very, very hungry.
At last he grew so weak that he fell down before the door of a great house.
Here the cook found him and began to beat him with a stick.
“Run away, you lazy boy!” she cried.
Poor Dick tried to rise, but he was so faint from want of food that he could not stand.
Just then the owner of the house, Mr. Fitzwarren, came up. He took pity on the poor boy and ordered the cook to give him some food.
Then he turned to Dick and said:
“If you wish to work, you may help the cook in the kitchen. You will find a bed in the attic.”
Dick thanked Mr. Fitzwarren again and again for his kindness.
The cook was very cross to Dick and whipped him almost every day.
His bed in the attic was only a pile of old rags.
He soon found that there were many rats and mice in the attic.
They ran over his bed and made so much noise every night that he could not sleep.