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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.

“What’s that?”

“I never stole,” said Dick.  “It’s mean and I wouldn’t do it.”

“Were you ever tempted to?”

“Lots of times.  Once I had been goin’ round all day, and hadn’t sold any matches, except three cents’ worth early in the mornin’.  With that I bought an apple, thinkin’ I should get some more bimeby.  When evenin’ come I was awful hungry.  I went into a baker’s just to look at the bread.  It made me feel kind o’ good just to look at the bread and cakes, and I thought maybe they would give me some.  I asked ’em wouldn’t they give me a loaf, and take their pay in matches.  But they said they’d got enough matches to last three months; so there wasn’t any chance for a trade.  While I was standin’ at the stove warmin’ me, the baker went into a back room, and I felt so hungry I thought I would take just one loaf, and go off with it.  There was such a big pile I don’t think he’d have known it.”

“But you didn’t do it?”

“No, I didn’t and I was glad of it, for when the man came in ag’in, he said he wanted some one to carry some cake to a lady in St. Mark’s Place.  His boy was sick, and he hadn’t no one to send; so he told me he’d give me ten cents if I would go.  My business wasn’t very pressin’ just then, so I went, and when I come back, I took my pay in bread and cakes.  Didn’t they taste good, though?”

“So you didn’t stay long in the match business, Dick?”

“No, I couldn’t sell enough to make it pay.  Then there was some folks that wanted me to sell cheaper to them; so I couldn’t make any profit.  There was one old lady—­she was rich, too, for she lived in a big brick house—­beat me down so, that I didn’t make no profit at all; but she wouldn’t buy without, and I hadn’t sold none that day; so I let her have them.  I don’t see why rich folks should be so hard upon a poor boy that wants to make a livin’.”

“There’s a good deal of meanness in the world, I’m afraid, Dick.”

“If everybody was like you and your uncle,” said Dick, “there would be some chance for poor people.  If I was rich I’d try to help ’em along.”

“Perhaps you will be rich sometime, Dick.”

Dick shook his head.

“I’m afraid all my wallets will be like this,” said Dick, indicating the one he had received from the dropper, “and will be full of papers what aint of no use to anybody except the owner.”

“That depends very much on yourself, Dick,” said Frank.  “Stewart wasn’t always rich, you know.”

“Wasn’t he?”

“When he first came to New York as a young man he was a teacher, and teachers are not generally very rich.  At last he went into business, starting in a small way, and worked his way up by degrees.  But there was one thing he determined in the beginning:  that he would be strictly honorable in all his dealings, and never overreach any one for the sake of making money.  If there was a chance for him, Dick, there is a chance for you.”

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