He remembered the place where he had stayed with Uncle Henry, but he knew that this would be too high-priced for his pocketbook, so he started up the Bowery, where he expected to find some very cheap places. He didn’t like the looks of the people he met in the street, but his experiences on the way to New York had taught him not to be too particular about a little dirt. So when he came to a rickety building with a sign up, “Beds, ten and fifteen cents,” he immediately went up the dark, filthy stairway, and found himself in a large room at the top which served as the “hotel” office. There were rows of chairs in front of the windows and along the walls, and in the chairs were the queerest-looking lot of men he had ever seen. He didn’t pay any attention to them, though, but went up to the seedy individual behind the desk, and asked him if he could get a bed for the night. “Sure, Mike,” the man replied, and Archie signed his name in a dirty book with torn pages. He paid the man ten cents, and asked if he could leave his bundle while he went outside. “Sure, Mike,” was again his answer, and the man took his little bundle of necessities and threw them on the floor behind the counter. When Archie had gone out, a fat man with a baby face came up and whispered to the clerk. “Anything in the bloke?” he inquired. “Nit,” said the clerk, “don’t yer see his baggage? Does it look like there’s anything in it?” And the mysterious conversation closed, to be continued later in the evening.
LOOKING FOR WORK— WASHING DISHES IN A BOWERY RESTAURANT.
After a couple of hours spent in going about the streets, Archie went into a place where he bought some coffee and rolls for his supper. He paid only five cents for three sweet rolls and a large cup of coffee which was not at all bad to taste, and he returned to the lodging-house on the Bowery feeling better than he had expected to feel when he started out from the homestead where he spent the previous night, If he could get a good meal for five or ten cents, and could sleep for ten cents more, he would have enough to keep him going for some time.
The Bowery at night presented a wonderful appearance to Archie’s mind. The brilliantly lighted shops, the cheap theatres with their bands of musicians on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, were all attractive to his boyish eyes, but he was wise enough to pass them all by, and to make his way as quickly as possible to the cheap lodging-house. The street was jammed with persons of every description. He was surprised particularly at the number of Chinamen he met, for he didn’t know that a block or two away was the centre of the Chinese population of New York, where the Celestials have their theatre, their hotels, their great stores, and their joss-house. There were many Italians in the street, too, and Polish Jews, to say nothing of Frenchmen and Germans.