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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 141 pages of information about Ragged Dick, Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot-Blacks.

“Did he?” asked Dick, looking interested.  “How did he do it?”

“Why, you see, a rich merchant took pity on him, and gave him a home in his own house, where he used to stay with the servants, being employed in little errands.  One day the merchant noticed Dick picking up pins and needles that had been dropped, and asked him why he did it.  Dick told him he was going to sell them when he got enough.  The merchant was pleased with his saving disposition, and when soon after, he was going to send a vessel to foreign parts, he told Dick he might send anything he pleased in it, and it should be sold to his advantage.  Now Dick had nothing in the world but a kitten which had been given him a short time before.”

“How much taxes did he have to pay on it?” asked Dick.

“Not very high, probably.  But having only the kitten, he concluded to send it along.  After sailing a good many months, during which the kitten grew up to be a strong cat, the ship touched at an island never before known, which happened to be infested with rats and mice to such an extent that they worried everybody’s life out, and even ransacked the king’s palace.  To make a long story short, the captain, seeing how matters stood, brought Dick’s cat ashore, and she soon made the rats and mice scatter.  The king was highly delighted when he saw what havoc she made among the rats and mice, and resolved to have her at any price.  So he offered a great quantity of gold for her, which, of course, the captain was glad to accept.  It was faithfully carried back to Dick, and laid the foundation of his fortune.  He prospered as he grew up, and in time became a very rich merchant, respected by all, and before he died was elected Lord Mayor of London.”

“That’s a pretty good story,” said Dick; “but I don’t believe all the cats in New York will ever make me mayor.”

“No, probably not, but you may rise in some other way.  A good many distinguished men have once been poor boys.  There’s hope for you, Dick, if you’ll try.”

“Nobody ever talked to me so before,” said Dick.  “They just called me Ragged Dick, and told me I’d grow up to be a vagabone (boys who are better educated need not be surprised at Dick’s blunders) and come to the gallows.”

“Telling you so won’t make it turn out so, Dick.  If you’ll try to be somebody, and grow up into a respectable member of society, you will.  You may not become rich,—­it isn’t everybody that becomes rich, you know—­but you can obtain a good position, and be respected.”

“I’ll try,” said Dick, earnestly.  “I needn’t have been Ragged Dick so long if I hadn’t spent my money in goin’ to the theatre, and treatin’ boys to oyster-stews, and bettin’ money on cards, and such like.”

“Have you lost money that way?”

“Lots of it.  One time I saved up five dollars to buy me a new rig-out, cos my best suit was all in rags, when Limpy Jim wanted me to play a game with him.”

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