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

Chapter 7. Florence Leaves Home

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_ Chapter VII. Florence Leaves Home

Florence passed a sleepless night. It had come upon her so suddenly, this expulsion from the home of her childhood, that she could not fully realize it. She could not feel that she was taking her last look at the familiar room, and well-remembered dining-room, where she had sat down for the last time for breakfast. She was alone at the breakfast table, for the usual hour was half-past eight, and she had appointed Dodger to call for her at eight.

"Is it true, Miss Florence, that you're going away?" asked Jane, the warm-hearted table girl, as she waited upon Florence.

"Yes, Jane," answered Florence, sadly.

"It's a shame, so it is! I didn't think your uncle would be so hard-hearted."

"He is disappointed because I won't marry my Cousin Curtis."

"I don't blame you for it, miss. I never liked Mr. Waring. He isn't half good enough for you."

"I say nothing about that, Jane; but I will not marry a man I do not love."

"Nor would I, miss. Where are you going, if I may make so bold?"

"I don't know, Jane," said Florence, despondently.

"But you can't walk about the streets."

"A trusty friend is going to call for me at eight o'clock; when he comes admit him."

"It is a--a young gentleman?"

"You wouldn't call him such. He is a boy, a poor boy; but I think he is a true friend. He says he will find me a comfortable room somewhere, where I can settle down and look for work."

"Are you going to work for a living, Miss Florence?" asked Jane, horrified.

"I must, Jane."

"It's a great shame--you, a lady born."

"No, Jane, I do not look upon it in that light. I shall be happier for having my mind and my hands occupied."

"What work will you do?"

"I don't know yet. Dodger will advise me."

"Who, miss?"


"Who is he?"

"It's the boy I spoke of."

"Shure, he's got a quare name."

"Yes; but names don't count for much. It's the heart I think of, and this boy has a kind heart."

"Have you known him long?"

"I saw him yesterday for the first time."

"Is it the young fellow who was here last night?"


"He isn't fit company for the likes of you, Miss Florence."

"You forget, Jane, that I am no longer a rich young lady. I am poorer than even you. This Dodger is kind, and I feel that I can trust him."

"If you are poor, Miss Florence," said Jane, hesitatingly, "would you mind borrowing some money of me? I've got ten dollars upstairs in my trunk, and I don't need it at all. It's proud I'll be to lend it to you."

"Thank you, Jane," said Florence, gratefully. "I thought I had but one friend. I find I have two----"

"Then you'll take the money? I'll go right up and get it."

"No, Jane; not at present. I have twenty dollars in my purse, and it will last me till I can earn more."

"But, miss, twenty dollars will soon go," said Jane, disappointed.

"If I find that I need the sum you so kindly offer me, I will let you know, I promise that."

"Thank you, miss."

At this point a bell rang from above.

"It's from Mr. Curtis' room," said Jane.

"Go and see what he wants."

Jane returned in a brief time with a note in her hand.

"Mr. Curtis asked me if you were still here," she explained, "and when I told him you were he asked me to give you this."

Florence took the note, and, opening it, read these lines:

"Florence: Now that you have had time to think over your plan
of leaving your old home, I hope you have come to see how
foolish it is. Reflect that, if carried out, a life of
poverty and squalid wretchedness amid homely and uncongenial
surroundings awaits you; while, as my wife, you will live a
life of luxury and high social position. There are many young
ladies who would be glad to accept the chance which you so
recklessly reject. By accepting my hand you will gratify our
excellent uncle, and make me the happiest of mortals. You
will acquit me of mercenary motives, since you are now
penniless, and your disobedience leaves me sole heir to Uncle
John. I love you, and it will be my chief object, if you will
permit it, to make you happy.

"Curtis Waring."

Florence ran her eyes rapidly over this note, but her heart did not respond, and her resolution was not shaken.

"Tell Mr. Waring there is no answer, Jane, if he inquires," she said.

"Was he tryin' to wheedle you into marryin' him?" asked Jane.

"He wished me to change my decision."

"I'm glad you've given him the bounce," said Jane, whose expressions were not always refined. "I wouldn't marry him myself."

Florence smiled. Jane was red haired, and her nose was what is euphemistically called _retrousse_. Even in her own circles she was not regarded as beautiful, and was hardly likely to lead a rich man to overlook her humble station, and sue for her hand.

"Then, Jane, you at least will not blame me for refusing my cousin's hand?"

"That I won't, miss. Do you know, Miss Florence"--and here Jane lowered her voice--"I've a suspicion that Mr. Curtis is married already?"

"What do you mean, Jane?" asked Florence, startled.

"There was a poor young woman called here last month and inquired for Mr. Curtis. She was very sorrowful-like, and poorly dressed. He came up when she was at the door, and he spoke harshlike, and told her to walk away with him. What they said I couldn't hear, but I've a suspicion that she was married to him, secretlike for I saw a wedding ring upon her finger."

"But, Jane, it would be base and infamous for him to ask for my hand when he was already married."

"I can't help it, miss. That's just what he wouldn't mind doin'. Oh, he's a sly deceiver, Mr. Curtis. I'd like to see him foolin' around me."

Jane nodded her head with emphasis, as if to intimate the kind of reception Curtis Waring would get if he attempted to trifle with her virgin affections.

"I hope what you suspect is not true," said Florence, gravely. "I do not like or respect Curtis, but I don't like to think he would be so base as that. If you ever see this young woman again, try to find out where she lives. I would like to make her acquaintance, and be a friend to her if she needs one."

"Shure, Miss Florence, you will be needin' a friend yourself."

"It is true, Jane. I forgot that I am no longer a young lady of fortune, but a penniless girl, obliged to work for a living."

"What would your uncle say if he knew that Mr. Curtis had a wife?"

"We don't know that he has one, and till we do, it would not be honorable to intimate such a thing to Uncle John."

"Shure, he wouldn't be particular. It's all his fault that you're obliged to leave home, and go into the streets. Why couldn't he take no for an answer, and marry somebody else, if he can find anybody to have him?"

"I wish, indeed, that he had fixed his affections elsewhere," responded Florence, with a sigh.

"Shure, he's twice as old as you, Miss Florence, anyway."

"I shouldn't mind that so much, if that was the only objection."

"It'll be a great deal better marryin' a young man."

"I don't care to marry any one, Jane. I don't think I shall ever marry."

"It's all very well to say that, Miss Florence. Lots of girls say so, but they change their minds. I don't mean to live out always myself."

"Is there any young man you are interested in, Jane?"

"Maybe there is, and maybe there isn't, Miss Florence. If I ever do get married I'll invite you to the wedding."

"And I'll promise to come if I can. But I hear the bell. I think my friend Dodger has come."

"Shall I ask him in, miss?"

"No. Tell him I will be ready to accompany him at once."

She went out into the hall, and when the door was opened the visitor proved to be Dodger. He had improved his appearance so far as his limited means would allow. His hands and face were thoroughly clean; he had bought a new collar and necktie; his shoes were polished, and despite his shabby suit, he looked quite respectable. Getting a full view of him, Florence saw that his face was frank and handsome, his eyes bright, and his teeth like pearls.

"Shure, he's a great deal better lookin' than Mr. Curtis," whispered Jane. "Here, Mr. Dodger, take Miss Florence's valise, and mind you take good care of her."

"I will," answered Dodger, heartily. "Come, Miss Florence, if you don't mind walking over to Fourth Avenue, we'll take the horse cars."

So, under strange guidance, Florence Linden left her luxurious home, knowing not what awaited her. What haven of refuge she might find she knew not. She, like Dodger, was adrift in New York. _

Read next: Chapter 8. A Friendly Compact

Read previous: Chapter 6. A Tempest

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