The Bread-winners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 316 pages of information about The Bread-winners.

Offitt waited till he could hear the heavy tread of Sleeny completing the first flight of stairs and going around to the head of the second.  He then shut and locked his door, and hung his hat over the keyhole.  He turned up his lamp and sat down by the table to count his night’s gains.  The first package he took from his pocket had a shining stain upon the outside bill.  He separated the stained bill carefully from the rest, and held it a moment in his hand as if in doubt.  He walked to his wash-stand, but at the moment of touching his pitcher he stopped short.  He took out his handkerchief, but shook his head and put it back.  Finally, he lighted a match, applied it to the corner of the bill, and watched it take fire and consume, until his fingers were scorched by the blaze.  “Pity!” he whispered—­“good money like that.”

He seated himself again and began with a fierce, sustained delight to arrange and sort the bank-bills, laying the larger denominations by themselves, smoothing them down with a quick and tender touch, a kindling eye and a beating heart.  In his whole life, past and future, there was not such another moment of enjoyment.  Money is, of course, precious and acceptable to all men except idiots.  But, if it means much to the good and virtuous, how infinitely more it means to the thoroughly depraved—­the instant gratification of every savage and hungry devil of a passion which their vile natures harbor.  Though the first and principal thing Offitt thought of was the possession of Maud Matchin, his excited fancy did not stop there.  A long gallery of vicious pictures stretched out before his flaming eyes, as he reckoned up the harvest of his hand.  The mere thought that each bill represented a dinner, where he might eat and drink what he liked, was enough to inebriate a starved rogue whose excesses had always been limited by his poverty.

When he had counted and sorted his cash, he took enough for his immediate needs and put it in his wallet.  The rest he made up into convenient packages, which he tied compactly with twine and disposed in his various pockets.  “I’ll chance it,” he thought, after some deliberation.  “If they get me, they can get the money, too.  But they sha’n’t get it without me.”

He threw himself on his bed, and slept soundly till morning.



The bright sun and the morning noises of the city waked Offitt from his sleep.  As he dressed himself the weight of the packages in his pockets gave him a pleasant sensation to begin the day with.  He felt as if he were entering upon a new state of existence—­a life with plenty of money.  He composed in his mind an elaborate breakfast as he walked down-stairs and took his way to a restaurant, which he entered with the assured step of a man of capital.  He gave his order to the waiter with more decision than usual, and told him in closing “not to be all day about it, either.”

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The Bread-winners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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