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Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World, a novel by Horatio Alger

Chapter 5. Dodger

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_ Chapter V. Dodger

The boy sprang to the side of Florence, and siezed her wrists in his strong young grasp.

"Don't you alarm the house," he said, "or I'll----"

"What will you do?" gasped Florence, in alarm. The boy was evidently softened by her beauty, and answered in a tone of hesitation:

"I don't know. I won't harm you if you keep quiet."

"What are you here for?" asked Florence, fixing her eyes on the boy's face; "are you a thief?"

"I don't know--yes, I suppose I am."

"How sad, when you are so young."

"What! miss, do you pity me?"

"Yes, my poor boy, you must be very poor, or you wouldn't bring yourself to steal."

"No. I ain't poor; leastways, I have enough to eat, and I have a place to sleep."

"Then why don't you earn your living by honest means?"

"I can't; I must obey orders."

"Whose orders?"

"Why, the guv'nor's, to be sure."

"Did he tell you to open that secretary?"


"Who is the guv'nor, as you call him?"

"I can't tell; it wouldn't be square."

"He must be a very wicked man."

"Well, he ain't exactly what you call an angel, but I've seen wuss men than the guv'nor."

"Do you mind telling me your own name?"

"No; for I know you won't peach on me. Tom Dodger."



"That isn't a surname."

"It's all I've got. That's what I'm always called."

"It is very singular," said Florence, fixing a glance of mingled curiosity and perplexity upon the young visitor.

While the two were earnestly conversing in that subdued light, afforded by the lowered gaslight, Tim Bolton crept in through the door unobserved by either, tiptoed across the room to the secretary, snatched the will and a roll of bills, and escaped without attracting attention.

"Oh, I wish I could persuade you to give up this bad life," resumed Florence, earnestly, "and become honest."

"Do you really care what becomes of me, miss?" asked Dodger, slowly.

"I do, indeed."

"That's very kind of you, miss; but I don't understand it. You are a rich young lady, and I'm only a poor boy, livin' in a Bowery dive."

"What's that?"

"Never mind, miss, such as you wouldn't understand. Why, all my life I've lived with thieves, and drunkards, and bunco men, and----"

"But I'm sure you don't like it. You are fit for something better."

"Do you really think so?" asked Dodger, doubtfullly.

"Yes; you have a good face. You were meant to be good and honest, I am sure."

"Would you trust me?" asked the boy, earnestly, fixing his large, dark eyes eloquently on the face of Florence.

"Yes, I would if you would only leave your evil companions, and become true to your better nature."

"No one ever spoke to me like that before, miss," said Dodger, his expressive features showing that he was strongly moved. "You think I could be good if I tried hard, and grow up respectable?"

"I am sure you could," said Florence, confidently.

There was something in this boy, young outlaw though he was, that moved her powerfully, and even fascinated her, though she hardly realized it. It was something more than a feeling of compassion for a wayward and misguided youth.

"I could if I was rich like you, and lived in a nice house, and 'sociated with swells. If you had a father like mine----"

"Is he a bad man?"

"Well, he don't belong to the church. He keeps a gin mill, and has ever since I was a kid."

"Have you always lived with him?"

"Yes, but not in New York."

"Where then?"

"In Melbourne."

"That's in Australia."

"Yes, miss."

"How long since you came to New York?"

"I guess it's about three years."

"And you have always had this man as a guardian? Poor boy!"

"You've got a different father from me, miss?"

Tears forced themselves to the eyes of Florence, as this remark brought forcibly to her mind the position in which she was placed.

"Alas!" she answered, impulsively, "I am alone in the world!"

"What! ain't the old gentleman that lives here your father?"

"He is my uncle; but he is very, very angry with me, and has this very day ordered me to leave the house."

"Why, what a cantankerous old ruffian he is, to be sure!" exclaimed the boy, indignantly.

"Hush! you must not talk against my uncle. He has always been kind to me till now."

"Why, what's up? What's the old gentleman mad about?"

"He wants me to marry my cousin Curtis--a man I do not even like."

"That's a shame! Is it the dude I saw come out of the house a little while ago?"

"Oh, no; that's a different gentleman. It's Mr. de Brabazon."

"You don't want to marry him, do you?"

"No, no!"

"I'm glad of that. He don't look as if he knew enough to come in when it rained."

"The poor young man is not very brilliant, but I think I would rather marry him than Curtis Waring."

"I've seen him, too. He's got dark hair and a dark complexion, and a wicked look in his eye."

"You, too, have noticed that?"

"I've seen such as him before. He's a bad man."

"Do you know anything about him?" asked Florence, eagerly.

"Only his looks."

"I am not deceived," murmured Florence, "it's not wholly prejudice. The boy distrusts him, too. So you see, Dodger," she added, aloud, "I am not a rich young lady, as you suppose. I must leave this house, and work for my living. I have no home any more."

"If you have no home," said Dodger, impulsively, "come home with me."

"To the home you have described, my poor boy? How could I do that?"

"No; I will hire a room for you in a quiet street, and you shall be my sister. I will work for you, and give you my money."

"You are kind, and I am glad to think I have found a friend when I need one most. But I could not accept stolen money. It would be as bad as if I, too, were a thief."

"I am not a thief! That is, I won't be any more."

"And you will give up your plan of robbing my uncle?"

"Yes, I will; though I don't know what my guv'nor will say. He'll half murder me, I expect. He'll be sure to cut up rough."

"Do right, Dodger, whatever happens. Promise me that you will never steal again?"

"There's my hand, miss--I promise. Nobody ever talked to me like you. I never thought much about bein' respectable, and growin' up to be somebody, but if you take an interest in me, I'll try hard to do right."

At this moment, Mr. Linden, clad in a long morning gown, and holding a candle in his hand, entered the room, and started in astonishment when he saw Florence clasping the hand of one whose appearance led him to stamp as a young rough.

"Shameless girl!" he exclaimed, in stern reproof. "So this is the company you keep when you think I am out of the way!" _

Read next: Chapter 6. A Tempest

Read previous: Chapter 4. Florence

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