“They’ll trust the boys,” said Dick. “But I don’t like to get trusted. I’d be ashamed to get trusted for five cents, or ten either. One night I was comin’ down Chatham Street, with fifty cents in my pocket. I was goin’ to get a good oyster-stew, and then go to the lodgin’ house; but somehow it slipped through a hole in my trowses-pocket, and I hadn’t a cent left. If it had been summer I shouldn’t have cared, but it’s rather tough stayin’ out winter nights.”
Frank, who had always possessed a good home of his own, found it hard to realize that the boy who was walking at his side had actually walked the streets in the cold without a home, or money to procure the common comfort of a bed.
“What did you do?” he asked, his voice full of sympathy.
“I went to the ‘Times’ office. I knowed one of the pressmen, and he let me set down in a corner, where I was warm, and I soon got fast asleep.”
“Why don’t you get a room somewhere, and so always have a home to go to?”
“I dunno,” said Dick. “I never thought of it. P’rhaps I may hire a furnished house on Madison Square.”
“That’s where Flora McFlimsey lived.”
“I don’t know her,” said Dick, who had never read the popular poem of which she is the heroine.
While this conversation was going on, they had turned into Twenty-fifth Street, and had by this time reached Third Avenue.
Just before entering it, their attention was drawn to the rather singular conduct of an individual in front of them. Stopping suddenly, he appeared to pick up something from the sidewalk, and then looked about him in rather a confused way.
“I know his game,” whispered Dick. “Come along and you’ll see what it is.”
He hurried Frank forward until they overtook the man, who had come to a stand-still.
“Have you found anything?” asked Dick.
“Yes,” said the man, “I’ve found this.”
He exhibited a wallet which seemed stuffed with bills, to judge from its plethoric appearance.
“Whew!” exclaimed Dick; “you’re in luck.”
“I suppose somebody has lost it,” said the man, “and will offer a handsome reward.”
“Which you’ll get.”
“Unfortunately I am obliged to take the next train to Boston. That’s where I live. I haven’t time to hunt up the owner.”
“Then I suppose you’ll take the pocket-book with you,” said Dick, with assumed simplicity.
“I should like to leave it with some honest fellow who would see it returned to the owner,” said the man, glancing at the boys.
“I’m honest,” said Dick.
“I’ve no doubt of it,” said the other. “Well, young man, I’ll make you an offer. You take the pocket-book—”
“All right. Hand it over, then.”
“Wait a minute. There must be a large sum inside. I shouldn’t wonder if there might be a thousand dollars. The owner will probably give you a hundred dollars reward.”