A FRIEND IN NEED
Herbert left Mr. Godfrey’s counting-room very much depressed in spirits. But an hour before he had rejoiced in his excellent prospects, and, depending on the favor of his employer and his own fidelity, had looked forward to a bright future. Now all was changed. He was dismissed from his situation in disgrace, suspected of a mean theft. He had, to be sure, the consciousness of innocence, and that was a great deal. He was not weighed down by the feeling of guilt, at least. Still his prospects were dark. Suppose the matter should not be cleared up, and he should still remain under suspicion? How could he hope to obtain another place without a recommendation from his late employer? No; he must resign all hope of a position and adopt some street occupation, such as selling papers or vending small articles in a basket, as he had seen boys of his own age doing. He did not doubt but that in some way he could get a living, but still he would be under suspicion, and that was hard to bear.
While these things were passing through his mind he walked down Broadway, with his eyes fixed upon the sidewalk. All at once he started to hear his name called, and, looking up, to his unbounded astonishment he saw before him Ralph the Ranger, whom he had supposed a thousand miles away in his cabin in the Ohio woods.
The sight of a friendly face was most welcome to him at such a time, and Ralph’s face was friendly.
“Ralph!” he exclaimed, seizing the Ranger’s hand. “How did you come here? When did you arrive? You are the last person I expected to see.”
“And you are the one I most wanted to see,” said Ralph, his tone unconsciously softened by his friendly interest in the boy before him.
“I can say the same, Ralph,” said Herbert, soberly, “for I am in trouble.”
“In trouble, boy? I am sorry for that. Is it money? I can get you out of that trouble.”
“It is not that exactly, Ralph. If you will come into the City Hall Park and sit down on a bench with me I will tell you all about it.”
“Instead of that, let us go into the Astor House,” said Ralph. “It is where I am stopping.”
“You are stopping at the Astor House?” said Herbert, in momentary surprise. “Perhaps you do not know that there are cheaper hotels. Shall I direct you to one?”
“No, Herbert, I am not poor, as you perhaps think. I suppose I should be called rich; but that I can explain afterwards. For the present your affairs require attention. Come in.”
They went up the steps of the Astor House, and Ralph led the way to his room, an apartment of good size and handsomely furnished.
“Now, Herbert, take a chair and tell me all,” he said.
To repeat Herbert’s story here is unnecessary. Ralph listened with attention, and when it was concluded he said: “The main thing is to account for the money in your possession. Do you think you should remember the policeman who aided you in recovering your money?”