Dick decided to adopt Fosdick’s suggestion. He had very serious doubts as to his ability to write a letter. Like a good many other boys, he looked upon it as a very serious job, not reflecting that, after all, letter-writing is nothing but talking upon paper. Still, in spite of his misgivings, he felt that the letter ought to be answered, and he wished Frank to hear from him. After various preparations, he at last got settled down to his task, and, before the evening was over, a letter was written. As the first letter which Dick had ever produced, and because it was characteristic of him, my readers may like to read it.
Here it is,—
“Dear frank,—I got your letter this mornin’, and was very glad to hear you hadn’t forgotten Ragged Dick. I aint so ragged as I was. Openwork coats and trowsers has gone out of fashion. I put on the Washington coat and Napoleon pants to go to the post-office, for fear they wouldn’t think I was the boy that was meant. On my way back I received the congratulations of my intimate friend, Micky Maguire, on my improved appearance.
“I’ve give up sleepin’ in boxes, and old wagons, findin’ it didn’t agree with my constitution. I’ve hired a room in Mott Street, and have got a private tooter, who rooms with me and looks after my studies in the evenin’. Mott Street aint very fashionable; but my manshun on Fifth Avenoo isn’t finished yet, and I’m afraid it won’t be till I’m a gray-haired veteran. I’ve got a hundred dollars towards it, which I’ve saved up from my earnin’s. I haven’t forgot what you and your uncle said to me, and I’m tryin’ to grow up ’spectable. I haven’t been to Tony Pastor’s, or the Old Bowery, for ever so long. I’d rather save up my money to support me in my old age. When my hair gets gray, I’m goin’ to knock off blackin’ boots, and go into some light, genteel employment, such as keepin’ an apple-stand, or disseminatin’ pea-nuts among the people.
“I’ve got so as to read pretty well, so my tooter says. I’ve been studyin’ geography and grammar also. I’ve made such astonishin’ progress that I can tell a noun from a conjunction as far away as I can see ’em. Tell Mr. Munroe that if he wants an accomplished teacher in his school, he can send for me, and I’ll come on by the very next train. Or, if he wants to sell out for a hundred dollars, I’ll buy the whole concern, and agree to teach the scholars all I know myself in less than six months. Is teachin’ as good business, generally speakin’, as blackin’ boots? My private tooter combines both, and is makin’ a fortun’ with great rapidity. He’ll be as rich as Astor some time, if he only lives long enough.
“I should think you’d have a bully time at your school. I should like to go out in the boat, or play ball with you. When are you comin’ to the city? I wish you’d write and let me know when you do, and I’ll call and see you. I’ll leave my business in the hands of my numerous clerks, and go round with you. There’s lots of things you didn’t see when you was here before. They’re getting on fast at the Central Park. It looks better than it did a year ago.