‘All right! all right! gentlemens,’ he replied, and then, fearing that he had not quite squared himself, turned back, at the kitchen door, and added, ’Oxcuse me.
McClingan looked at him with that leering superior smile of his, and gave him just the slightest possible nod of his head.
McClingan came into my room with me awhile then. He had been everywhere, it seemed to me, and knew everybody worth knowing. I was much interested in his anecdotes of the great men of the time. Unlike the obituary editor his ear was quite as ready as his tongue, though I said little save now and then to answer a question that showed a kindly interest in me.
I went with him to his room at last, where he besought me to join him in drinking ‘confusion to the enemies of peace and order’. On my refusing, he drank the toast alone and shortly proposed ’death to slavery’. This was followed in quick succession by ’death to the arch traitor, Buchanan’; ‘peace to the soul of John Brown’; ’success to Honest Abe’ and then came a hearty ’here’s to the protuberant abdomen of the Mayor’.
I left him at midnight standing in the middle of his room and singing ‘The Land o’ the Leal’ in a low tone savoured with vast dignity.
I was soon near out of money and at my wit’s end, but my will was unconquered. In this plight I ran upon Fogarty, the policeman who had been the good angel of my one hopeful day in journalism. His manner invited my confidence.
‘What luck?’ said he.
‘Bad luck’ I answered. ’Only ten dollars in my pocket and nothing to do.’
He swung his stick thoughtfully.
‘If I was you,’ said he, ’I’d take anything honest. Upon me wurred, I’d ruther pound rocks than lay idle.’
‘So would I.’
‘Wud ye?’ said he with animation, as he took my measure from head to foot.
‘I’ll do anything that’s honest.’
‘Ah ha!’ said he, rubbing his sandy chin whiskers. ’Don’t seem like ye’d been used if hard wurruk.’
‘But I can do it,’ I said.
He looked at me sternly and beckoned with his head.
‘Come along,’ said he.
He took me to a gang of Irishmen working in the street near by.
‘Boss McCormick!’ he shouted.
A hearty voice answered, ‘Aye, aye, Counsellor,’ and McCormick came out of the crowd, using his shovel for a staff.
‘A happy day if ye!’ said Fogarty.
‘Same if youse an’ manny o’ thim,’ said McCormick.
‘Ye’ll gi’me one if ye do me a favour,’ said Fogarty.
‘An’ what?’ said the other.
‘A job for this lad. Wull ye do it?’
‘I wall,’ said McCormick, and he did.
I went to work early the next morning, with nothing on but my underclothing and trousers, save a pair of gloves, that excited the ridicule of my fellows. With this livery and the righteous determination of earning two dollars a day, I began the inelegant task of ’pounding rocks no merry occupation, I assure you, for a hot summer’s day on Manhattan Island.