In the lodging-house everything looked very much as before. The chairs were still occupied with filthy-looking men, who smoked and spat and talked in undertones among themselves. The boy paid no attention to any of them, but, walking up to the seedy individual behind the counter, asked him if he could go to bed now. The man answered, “Certainly,” and sent a fellow with Archie to show him his bed. It was in a long, narrow room, which was poorly lighted with a few gas-jets here and there, and which was filled with about thirty beds, all narrow, and all dirty. One of these was pointed out to Archie, and then the man left him. The poor lad felt more homesick than ever, and had it not been that he had a glorious to-morrow to look forward to, he would have been very miserable indeed. As it was, he undressed and got between the chilly sheets, when he remembered that he hadn’t looked after his little roll of bills for a long time, and that some of them might be missing. He crawled out of bed again, and felt inside the lining of his coat for the purse. He had sewed it there for safe-keeping until he reached the city, for he had some little change in his pocket, which he knew would last him for several days.
The poor boy’s hand felt nothing but a cut in the lining, where the roll of bills had been, and all at once he realised that the money must have been stolen from him. And he at once thought of the night in the ruins, when he fell asleep among the tramps, and there was no doubt in his mind but that they had taken his money from him. This was a terrible blow. Here he was, with just a few cents in his pocket, and no one to whom he could appeal for aid. It was the worst predicament Archie had ever been in, and he hardly knew what to do. He sat on the side of his dirty little bed for awhile, and then he snuggled under the covers and was soon asleep again. For a boy who has been walking all day seldom stays awake from worry.
But when he awoke in the morning, it was to realise the fact that he must get some money this very day or go to the police station. The few cents he had remaining were only enough to buy some coffee and bread for breakfast, and the poor lad didn’t know where his next meal would come from. As he went out, the clerk in the filthy office of the lodging-house told him that he needn’t come back any more.
“Why did you tell him that?” asked the fat man with a sly face.
“Because I went through his clothes last night when he was asleep, and he had only six cents in his pocket. We don’t want no starvin’ brats around here, to bring the Gerry Society down upon us.”