Finally Frank got safely over after several narrow escapes, as he considered them.
“Is it always so crowded?” he asked.
“A good deal worse sometimes,” said Dick. “I knowed a young man once who waited six hours for a chance to cross, and at last got run over by an omnibus, leaving a widder and a large family of orphan children. His widder, a beautiful young woman, was obliged to start a peanut and apple stand. There she is now.”
Dick pointed to a hideous old woman, of large proportions, wearing a bonnet of immense size, who presided over an apple-stand close by.
“If that is the case,” he said, “I think I will patronize her.”
“Leave it to me,” said Dick, winking.
He advanced gravely to the apple-stand, and said, “Old lady, have you paid your taxes?”
The astonished woman opened her eyes.
“I’m a gov’ment officer,” said Dick, “sent by the mayor to collect your taxes. I’ll take it in apples just to oblige. That big red one will about pay what you’re owin’ to the gov’ment.”
“I don’t know nothing about no taxes,” said the old woman, in bewilderment.
“Then,” said Dick, “I’ll let you off this time. Give us two of your best apples, and my friend here, the President of the Common Council, will pay you.”
Frank smiling, paid three cents apiece for the apples, and they sauntered on, Dick remarking, “If these apples aint good, old lady, we’ll return ’em, and get our money back.” This would have been rather difficult in his case, as the apple was already half consumed.
Chatham Street, where they wished to go, being on the East side, the two boys crossed the Park. This is an enclosure of about ten acres, which years ago was covered with a green sward, but is now a great thoroughfare for pedestrians and contains several important public buildings. Dick pointed out the City Hall, the Hall of Records, and the Rotunda. The former is a white building of large size, and surmounted by a cupola.
“That’s where the mayor’s office is,” said Dick. “Him and me are very good friends. I once blacked his boots by partic’lar appointment. That’s the way I pay my city taxes.”
CHATHAM STREET AND BROADWAY
They were soon in Chatham Street, walking between rows of ready-made clothing shops, many of which had half their stock in trade exposed on the sidewalk. The proprietors of these establishments stood at the doors, watching attentively the passersby, extending urgent invitations to any who even glanced at the goods to enter.
“Walk in, young gentlemen,” said a stout man, at the entrance of one shop.
“No, I thank you,” replied Dick, “as the fly said to the spider.”
“We’re selling off at less than cost.”
“Of course you be. That’s where you makes your money,” said Dick. “There aint nobody of any enterprise that pretends to make any profit on his goods.”