“How did you get up in the world,” asked Dick, anxiously.
“I entered a printing-office as an apprentice, and worked for some years. Then my eyes gave out and I was obliged to give that up. Not knowing what else to do, I went into the country, and worked on a farm. After a while I was lucky enough to invent a machine, which has brought me in a great deal of money. But there was one thing I got while I was in the printing-office which I value more than money.”
“What was that, sir?”
“A taste for reading and study. During my leisure hours I improved myself by study, and acquired a large part of the knowledge which I now possess. Indeed, it was one of my books that first put me on the track of the invention, which I afterwards made. So you see, my lad, that my studious habits paid me in money, as well as in another way.”
“I’m awful ignorant,” said Dick, soberly.
“But you are young, and, I judge, a smart boy. If you try to learn, you can, and if you ever expect to do anything in the world, you must know something of books.”
“I will,” said Dick, resolutely. “I aint always goin’ to black boots for a livin’.”
“All labor is respectable, my lad, and you have no cause to be ashamed of any honest business; yet when you can get something to do that promises better for your future prospects, I advise you to do so. Till then earn your living in the way you are accustomed to, avoid extravagance, and save up a little money if you can.”
“Thank you for your advice,” said our hero. “There aint many that takes an interest in Ragged Dick.”
“So that’s your name,” said Mr. Whitney. “If I judge you rightly, it won’t be long before you change it. Save your money, my lad, buy books, and determine to be somebody, and you may yet fill an honorable position.”
“I’ll try,” said Dick. “Good-night, sir.”
“Wait a minute, Dick,” said Frank. “Your blacking-box and old clothes are upstairs. You may want them.”
“In course,” said Dick. “I couldn’t get along without my best clothes, and my stock in trade.”
“You may go up to the room with him, Frank,” said Mr. Whitney. “The clerk will give you the key. I want to see you, Dick, before you go.”
“Yes, sir,” said Dick.
“Where are you going to sleep to-night, Dick?” asked Frank, as they went upstairs together.
“P’r’aps at the Fifth Avenue Hotel—on the outside,” said Dick.
“Haven’t you any place to sleep, then?”
“I slept in a box, last night.”
“In a box?”
“Yes, on Spruce Street.”
“Poor fellow!” said Frank, compassionately.
“Oh, ’twas a bully bed—full of straw! I slept like a top.”
“Don’t you earn enough to pay for a room, Dick?”
“Yes,” said Dick; “only I spend my money foolish, goin’ to the Old Bowery, and Tony Pastor’s, and sometimes gamblin’ in Baxter Street.”