“I try to be. Do you know, Rodney, I worked better for feelin’ that I had a room of my own to go to after I got through. I hope I’ll soon be able to get into a different business.”
“I hope so, too.”
Two days later Rodney’s trunk arrived. In the evening he opened it. He took out a dark mixed suit about half worn, and said, “Try that on, Mike.”
Mike did so. It fitted as if it were made for him.
“You can have it, Mike,” said Rodney.
“You don’t mean it?” exclaimed Mike, delighted.
“Yes, I do. I have plenty of others.”
Rodney supplemented his gift by a present of underclothing, and on the following Sunday the two boys went to Central Park in the afternoon, Mike so transformed that some of his street friends passed him without recognition, much to Mike’s delight.
MIKE PUTS ON A UNIFORM.
A wonderful change came over Mike Flynn. Until he met Rodney he seemed quite destitute of ambition. The ragged and dirty suit which he wore as bootblack were the best he had. His face and hands generally bore the marks of his business, and as long as he made enough to buy three meals a day, two taken at the Lodging House, with something over for lodging, and an occasional visit to a cheap theater, he was satisfied.
He was fifteen, and had never given a thought to what he would do when he was older. But after meeting Rodney, and especially after taking a room with him, he looked at life with different eyes. He began to understand that his business, though honorable because honest, was not a desirable one. He felt, too, that he ought to change it out of regard for Rodney, who was now his close companion.
“If I had ten dollars ahead,” he said one day, “I’d give up blackin’ boots.”
“What else would you do?”
“I’d be a telegraph boy. That’s more respectable than blackin’ boots, and it ’ould be cleaner.”
“That is true. Do you need money to join?”
“I would get paid once in two weeks, and I’d have to live till I got my first salary.”
“I guess I can see you through, Mike.”
“No; you need all your money, Rodney. I’ll wait and see if I can’t save it myself.”
This, however, would have taken a long time, if Mike had not been favored by circumstances. He was standing near the ladies’ entrance to the Astor House one day, when casting his eyes downward he espied a neat pocketbook of Russia leather. He picked it up, and from the feeling judged that it must be well filled.
Now I must admit that it did occur to Mike that he could divert to his own use the contents without detection, as no one had seen him pick it up. But Mike was by instinct an honest boy, and he decided that this would not be right. He thrust it into his pocket, however, as he had no objection to receiving a reward if one was offered.