“You’d better look out for pickpockets, my lad,” said the conductor, pleasantly. “That big wallet of yours might prove a great temptation.”
“That’s so,” said Dick. “That’s the misfortin’ of being rich. Astor and me don’t sleep much for fear of burglars breakin’ in and robbin’ us of our valooable treasures. Sometimes I think I’ll give all my money to an Orphan Asylum, and take it out in board. I guess I’d make money by the operation.”
While Dick was speaking, the car rolled away, and the boys turned up Fifty-ninth Street, for two long blocks yet separated them from the Park.
INTRODUCES A VICTIM OF MISPLACED CONFIDENCE
“What a queer chap you are, Dick!” said Frank, laughing. “You always seem to be in good spirits.”
“No, I aint always. Sometimes I have the blues.”
“Well, once last winter it was awful cold, and there was big holes in my shoes, and my gloves and all my warm clothes was at the tailor’s. I felt as if life was sort of tough, and I’d like it if some rich man would adopt me, and give me plenty to eat and drink and wear, without my havin’ to look so sharp after it. Then agin’ when I’ve seen boys with good homes, and fathers, and mothers, I’ve thought I’d like to have somebody to care for me.”
Dick’s tone changed as he said this, from his usual levity, and there was a touch of sadness in it. Frank, blessed with a good home and indulgent parents, could not help pitying the friendless boy who had found life such up-hill work.
“Don’t say you have no one to care for you, Dick,” he said, lightly laying his hand on Dick’s shoulder. “I will care for you.”
“If you will let me.”
“I wish you would,” said Dick, earnestly. “I’d like to feel that I have one friend who cares for me.”
Central Park was now before them, but it was far from presenting the appearance which it now exhibits. It had not been long since work had been commenced upon it, and it was still very rough and unfinished. A rough tract of land, two miles and a half from north to south, and a half a mile broad, very rocky in parts, was the material from which the Park Commissioners have made the present beautiful enclosure. There were no houses of good appearance near it, buildings being limited mainly to rude temporary huts used by the workmen who were employed in improving it. The time will undoubtedly come when the Park will be surrounded by elegant residences, and compare favorably in this respect with the most attractive parts of any city in the world. But at the time when Frank and Dick visited it, not much could be said in favor either of the Park or its neighborhood.
“If this is Central Park,” said Frank, who naturally felt disappointed, “I don’t think much of it. My father’s got a large pasture that is much nicer.”