AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE

After Scott paid his hotel bill and reached his new home, he found that
he had just sixty cents left in his purse. To be sure, he would be at no
more expense for meals, but it made him feel poor.

When he left the ship he had one hundred dollars. There certainly had
been a great shrinkage in his resources.

He was taken by the servant to an inside room on the upper floor. Of
course there was no window, and the only light that entered the room was
from the transom.

It seemed gloomy, and bade fair to be very close. If it had only been an
outside room with a small window, Scott would have been more content. As
it was, he found that the two servants were much better provided for
than he.

The bed, however, was comfortable, and this was a partial compensation.
But he reflected with disappointment that the room would be available
only at night. He could not very well sit in it by day, as it was too
dark for him to read.

“I shall be glad when I get to work,” he thought. “That will take up my
time.”

Meanwhile, as it was but ten o’clock, it occurred to him that he would
call upon Justin Wood at the Gilsey House. He easily found the hotel,
which is on the corner of Twenty-ninth Street and Broadway.

He did not have to inquire for Mr. Wood, as he saw that gentleman
through the window, sitting in the reading room.

Justin Wood looked up from the paper he was reading and recognized Scott
at once.

“I am glad to see you, my young friend,” he said, with a pleasant smile.
“What luck have you had?”

“I have found a place, sir.”

“That is good. It hasn’t taken you long.”

“No, sir.”

“I am afraid it isn’t a very good place. You don’t look in good
spirits.”

“No, sir; I am afraid I shan’t like it.”

“How did you obtain it?”

“Through the relation I was telling you about. He keeps a dry-goods
store on Eighth Avenue, and he will give me a place in his employ.”

“Then he has treated you as a relation should.”

“I am not so sure,” said Scott, slowly. “He took all my money, and I am
to board at his house.”

“Why did he take your money?”

“He said I could not earn my board, and that would make up the deficit.”

Justin Wood laughed.

“He seems to be a very shrewd man. Still, you will have a good home.”

Again Scott looked doubtful, and told his new acquaintance of the small,
dark room which had been assigned him.

“Yet you say that Mr. Little has only a small family.”

“He has one son of about my age.”

“Surely there ought to be a better room for you if he occupies a whole
house.”

“I should think so.”

“He might have put you into the same room with his son.”

“I don’t think I should like to room with Loammi.”

“Then you don’t like him?”

Scott shook his head.

“We shouldn’t agree,” he answered.

“Why not?”

“He feels above me because of my poverty.”

“The most prominent merchants in the city were once poor boys.”

“Then there is hope for me,” said Scott, smiling faintly.

“Have you been to your relative’s store?”

“Not yet, sir.”

“I remember seeing it. It is quite a large one. I think he must be
prosperous.”

“I shall be very glad to get to work. I don’t know what to do with
myself now. Besides, it makes me feel helpless to have only sixty cents
in my pocket.”

“You will have no trouble from the tax collector, that is certain. It is
rather a pity you told Mr. Little how much money you had.”

“I wish I hadn’t now.”

“I don’t think I would have treated a poor cousin so if he had come
across the Atlantic to put himself under my charge.”

“I am sure you wouldn’t, sir.”

“What makes you say that? You don’t know much about me,” said Justin
Wood, with a quiet smile.

“I can tell by your looks.”

“Looks are deceptive,” remarked the young man; but he looked pleased
with the compliment. “So you don’t go to work till Monday?”

“No, sir.”

“And I suppose you have nothing to occupy you to-day?”

“No, sir.”

“Then be my guest. I will show you something of the city.”

“You are very kind,” said Scott, gratefully.

“Oh, I shall be repaid. I was wondering what to do with myself. Now the
problem is solved. Wait here a minute till I go up to my room, and we
will start.”

They passed through Twenty-ninth Street, and boarded a Sixth Avenue car.

“You have never been to Central Park, I presume,” said Wood.

“No, sir. I have only been about in the lower part of the city.”

“We think Central Park a very pleasant place,” said the young man,
“though in some respects it is not equal to the London parks.”

“I like parks. I like green grass and trees. I was born in the
country.”

When they reached Fifty-ninth Street they entered the park, and walked
leisurely to the lake. Scott’s eyes brightened, and his step grew more
elastic.

“This is fine,” he said. “How large is the park?”

“It is about two miles and a half to the extreme northern boundary. We
won’t try to see the whole. I will only show you the most attractive
features. You will be surprised when I tell you that I haven’t been in
the park for two years.”

“Yes, I am surprised.”

“I have no carriage, or I should drive here.”

“But it is pleasant to walk.”

“Yes, if you have a companion. Most of my friends are men of business,
and have no time to spare for park rambles.”

“Mr. Wood, I wish you were in business, and I were in your employ,” said
Scott, impulsively.

“Thank you, Scott. I do think we should get along well. So you think you
would like me better than your new-found relatives?”

“Oh, ever so much!”

“Then I will try to foster the illusion,” said the young man, smiling.
“Suppose I adopt you as a cousin?”

“I wish you would.”

“Very well! Then we will look upon each other in that light.”

“Do you live in the city, Mr. Wood?”

“I am not stationary anywhere. I have no fixed home.”

“Why don’t you go into business?”

“Partly because I am blessed with a sufficiency of this world’s goods.”

“But I should think the time would hang heavy on your hands.”

“Well, you see I have something to do in looking after my property.
Besides, I am literary.”

“Are you an author?”

“I occasionally write for magazines and reviews. I am a graduate of
Columbia College. If I had the spur of necessity, perhaps I might make
some mark in literature. As it is, I don’t have that motive for working
hard. I am rather glad I don’t, for I am afraid I shouldn’t be able to
live at the Gilsey House if I depended upon what I could earn by my pen.
Well, have you seen enough of Central Park?”

“I am ready to go anywhere else, sir.”

“Then I will go with you to the other end of the city and beyond. Have
you ever heard of Staten Island?”

“No, sir.”

“It is a few miles to the south of the Battery. I own a small piece of
property there–a couple of houses at New Brighton, which are let to
tenants. They have sent me word that they need some repairs made, and I
may as well go over and see them. I never like to travel alone, and as I
have a companion I may as well utilize his company.”

Half an hour on the Sixth Avenue Elevated train brought them from
Fifty-ninth Street to South Ferry. Close beside it the Staten Island
boats started from their pier.

Scott and his companion went on board, and ascended the stairs to the
upper cabin. Here they found seats in front, and sat enjoying the fine
breeze which is almost always to be found on this trip.

Mr. Wood pointed out Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty and other
notable sights.

Arrived at Staten Island, they took cars to New Brighton. Mr. Wood
attended to his business, and then took Scott on an extended ride
around the island. But first he stopped at a hotel and ordered dinner.
This they both enjoyed.

When they left the dining room and went out on the piazza they were
treated to a surprise. In an armchair, tilted back, with his feet on the
balustrade, sat Crawford Lane, evidently enjoying the fine breeze.

Justin Wood smiled as he saw how unconscious Lane was of his presence.
Then he walked forward quietly and laid his hand on Lane’s arm.

“Mr. Lane,” he said, “this is an unexpected pleasure.”

Lane turned quickly, and looked very much disconcerted when he saw who
it was that accosted him.

“I–I didn’t expect to meet you here,” he stammered.

“I presume not. Don’t you recognize this boy?”

“Scott Walton?”

“Yes; I am glad you have not forgotten him. He is here on business.”

“On business?”

“Yes; in a fit of absence of mind you relieved him of fifty dollars, or
the equivalent in English bank notes. I don’t say anything about the
considerably larger sum which you took from me in London, for I can
stand the loss, but this boy is poor and wants the money back.”

“I can’t give it to him,” said Lane, desperately.

“Why not?”

“Because I have spent most of it.”

“So you have spent nearly fifty dollars in one day?”

“Yes; I bet on the races.”

“That was foolish. If you had lost your own money it would have served
you right. But you had no business to squander the boy’s money in that
way. How much money have you got left?”

“I–don’t know.”

“Out with your pocketbook, man, and find out,” said Wood, impatiently.

As Lane still hesitated, Justin Wood added, sternly: “Do as I tell you,
or I will arrest you myself and march you to the station house.”

The young man looked as if he were quite capable of carrying out his
threat, and Lane very reluctantly took out his pocketbook.

“I have twelve dollars,” he said.

“Then give ten dollars to the boy, and keep two dollars for yourself.”

“It is all the money I have,” whined Lane.

“That is no concern of mine. The money doesn’t belong to you.”

“I am a very poor man.”

“You are smart enough to make a living by fair means. If you keep on as
you are doing now, you will obtain your board at the expense of the
State.”

Lane, very unwillingly, handed two five-dollar bills to Scott.

“We are letting you off very easy,” said Justin Wood. “We will give you
a chance to reform, but if ever I catch you trying any of your tricks
elsewhere, I will reveal what I know of you.”

Crawford Lane rose from his chair and with a look of chagrin made haste
to leave the hotel. He had already taken dinner there, and intended to
remain until the next day, but now he felt unable to do so.

“I am glad to get some of my money back,” said Scott, in a tone of
satisfaction. “I was reduced to sixty cents. Ten dollars will last me
for a good while.”

“Take care not to let your worthy relative know you have so much money,
or he will want you to give it up to him.”

“But for you I should not have recovered it,” said Scott, gratefully.

“I am very glad to have been the means of your getting it back. I have a
personal grudge against that rascal.”

“Of how much did he rob you?”

“I can’t tell precisely, for I am rather careless about my money, and
seldom know just how much I have. To the best of my knowledge he must
have taken about three hundred dollars.”

“That is a good deal of money.”

“It was much less to me than the sum he took was to you. It did not
especially inconvenience me. But it is getting late, and we had better
take the next boat back to New York.”

This they did. On the same boat, though they were unconscious of it, was
Crawford Lane. He saw them, however, and reflected bitterly that the
fifty dollars which he had taken from Scott was nearly all gone, though
it was only the second day since he got possession of it.

It was half-past four when they reached the Gilsey House.

“I think I must be getting back to my new home,” said Scott. “Thank you
very much for your kindness to me.”

“You have given me a pleasant day, Scott,” replied the young man,
genially. “Call and see me again when you have time.”

“Thank you, sir.”

When Scott reached the house in West Forty-seventh Street, he found
Loammi already there. He had returned from school at about half-past
two, and wondered what had become of his new-found cousin.

“Where have you been?” he asked, abruptly.

“First, I went to Central Park, and afterward I went to Staten Island.”

Loammi looked surprised.

“What could take you to Staten Island? You seem to have plenty of money
to go about with.”

“It didn’t cost me anything.”

“How is that?”

“I went with a gentleman who lives at the Gilsey House.”

“What made him take you? Is he a friend of yours?”

“Yes, he is a friend of mine, though I haven’t known him long.”

“Is he rich?”

“He seems to be.”

“You might introduce me.”

“I may have an opportunity to do so some time.”

Scott felt obliged to say this, though he was convinced that Justin Wood
would not care to make his cousin’s acquaintance.

“Ma told me you were not at home to lunch. Where did you eat?”

“We dined at a hotel on Staten Island.”

“Upon my word, you are getting to be quite a swell for a poor boy.”

Scott smiled.

“I don’t think I shall have much chance to be a swell,” he said, “after
I have begun work in the store.”

“No, I guess not. It was a great thing to have pa take you up and give
you a home.”

“I hope to show my appreciation of it,” said Scott; but under the
circumstances, his gratitude was not as deep as if he had had a better
room, and had not been obliged to give up all his money to his relative.

“How do you like your room?”

“The bed seems comfortable. Where is your room?”

“On the second floor. Follow me and I will show it to you.”

Scott followed his cousin upstairs. Loammi opened the door and led the
way into a large chamber about eighteen feet square, very neatly and
comfortably furnished.

There was a bookcase in one corner containing over a hundred volumes.
Near it was an upright writing desk. Through a half-open door Scott saw
a closet well filled with suits of clothes. Certainly, there was a great
contrast between this apartment, with its comforts and ample
accommodations, and his own small, stifling room on the floor above.
Scott could not quite suppress a feeling of envy.

“You have a fine room.”

“Haven’t I? My room is as nice as pa’s.”

Alongside of it was another room, not as large, but perhaps two-thirds
the size.

“Who occupies that room?” asked Scott.

“No one. We have two spare rooms on this floor.”

It naturally occurred to Scott to wonder why he had not been given one
in place of the poor room that had been assigned him.

He found afterward that Mrs. Little had proposed giving him the room
next to Loammi, but the latter had objected, saying that it was too
good for a penniless boy. In this he had been backed up by Ezra Little,
whose ideas agreed with those of his son.

At six o’clock the family assembled for supper.

“You will sit down to meals with us when we are alone,” said Ezra
Little. “When we have company you can eat in the kitchen.”

Scott said nothing, but his face flushed. It was evident that his
relatives did not look upon him as a social equal.

Yet Justin Wood, who, as Scott suspected, stood higher socially than the
Little family, treated him like a brother. Though in no way related to
him, Scott felt a greater regard for him than for any of the family with
whom he had found a home.

“To-morrow is Saturday,” said Ezra Little, as he rose from the table. “I
had not intended to have you enter the store till Monday, but there is a
little extra work to be done, and you can come in to-morrow.”

“I should like to do so,” said Scott, promptly.

“So you like to work,” said Loammi, sneeringly.

“Yes; at any rate, I like it better than being idle.”

“That is a very proper feeling,” observed Ezra, approvingly.

“Yes,” put in Loammi. “You ought to do all you can to pay pa for his
kindness to you.”

Scott did not answer, but he thought his young cousin about the most
disagreeable boy he had ever met.