Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Horatio Alger > Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World > This page

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

Chapter 9. The New Home

< Previous
Table of content
Next >
_ Chapter IX. The New Home

"You can tell Tim Bolton," said Dodger, "that I don't intend to come back at all."

"You don't mean it, Dodger?" said Ben Holt, incredulously.

"Yes, I do. I'm going to set up for myself."

"Oh, Dodger," said Florence, "I'm afraid you will get into trouble for my sake!"

"Don't worry about that, Miss Florence. I'm old enough to take care of myself, and I've got tired of livin' with Tim."

"But he may beat you!"

"He'll have to get hold of me first."

They had reached a four-story tenement of shabby brick, which was evidently well filled up by a miscellaneous crowd of tenants; shop girls, mechanics, laborers and widows, living by their daily toil.

Florence had never visited this part of the city, and her heart sank within her as she followed Mrs. O'Keefe through a dirty hallway, up a rickety staircase, to the second floor.

"One more flight of stairs, my dear," said Mrs. O'Keefe, encouragingly. "I've got four rooms upstairs; one of them is for you, and one for Dodger."

Florence did not reply. She began to understand at what cost she had secured her freedom from a distasteful marriage.

In her Madison Avenue home all the rooms were light, clean and luxuriously furnished. Here---- But words were inadequate to describe the contrast.

Mrs. O'Keefe threw open the door of a back room about twelve feet square, furnished in the plainest manner, uncarpeted, except for a strip that was laid, like a rug, beside the bedstead.

There was a washstand, with a mirror, twelve by fifteen inches, placed above it, a pine bureau, a couple of wooden chairs, and a cane-seated rocking-chair.

"There, my dear, what do you say to that?" asked Mrs. O'Keefe, complacently. "All nice and comfortable as you would wish to see."

"It is--very nice," said Florence, faintly, sacrificing truth to politeness.

"And who do you think used to live here?" asked the apple-woman.

"I'm sure I don't know."

"The bearded woman in the dime museum," answered Mrs. O'Keefe, nodding her head. "She lived with me three months, and she furnished the room herself. When she went away she was hard up, and I bought the furniture of her cheap. You remember Madam Berger, don't you, Dodger?"

"Oh, yes, I seen her often."

"She got twenty-five dollars a week, and she'd ought to have saved money, but she had a good-for-nothin' husband that drank up all her hard earnin's."

"I hope she didn't drink herself," said Florence, who shuddered at the idea of succeeding a drunken tenant.

"Not a drop. She was a good, sober lady, if she did work in a dime museum. She only left here two weeks ago. It isn't every one I'd be willin' to take in her place, but I see you're a real leddy, let alone that Dodger recommends you. I hope you'll like the room, and I'll do all I can to make things pleasant. You can go into my room any hour, my dear, and do your little cookin' on my stove. I s'pose you'll do your own cookin'?"

"Well, not just at present," faltered Florence. "I am afraid I don't know much about cooking."

"You'll find it a deal cheaper, and it's more quiet and gentale than goin' to the eatin'-houses. I'll help you all I can, and glad to."

"Thank you, Mrs. O'Keefe, you are very kind," said Florence, gratefully. "Perhaps just at first you wouldn't object to taking me as a boarder, and letting me take my meals with you. I don't think I would like to go to the eating-houses alone."

"To be sure, my dear, if you wish it, and I'll be glad of your company. I'll make the terms satisfactory."

"I have no doubt of that," said Florence, feeling very much relieved.

"If I might be so bold, what kind of work are you going to do?"

"I hardly know. It has come upon me so suddenly. I shall have to do something, for I haven't got much money. What I should like best would be to write----"

"Is it for the papers you mean?"

"Oh, no; I mean for some author or lawyer."

"I don't know much about that," said Mrs. O'Keefe. "In fact, I don't mind tellin' you, my dear, that I can't write myself, but I earn a good livin' all the same by my apple-stand. I tell you, my dear," she continued in a confidential tone, "there is a good dale of profit in sellin' apples. It's better than sewin' or writin'. Of course, a young leddy like you wouldn't like to go into the business."

Florence shook her head, with a smile.

"No, Mrs. O'Keefe," she said. "I am afraid I haven't a business turn, and I should hardly like so public an employment."

"Lor', miss, it's nothin' if you get used to it. There's nothin' dull about my business, unless it rains, and you get used to havin' people look at you."

"It isn't all that are worth looking at like you, Mrs. O'Keefe," said Dodger, slyly.

"Oh, go away wid your fun, Dodger," said the apple-woman, good-naturedly. "I ain't much to look at, I know."

"I think there's a good deal of you to look at, Mrs. O'Keefe. You must weigh near three hundred."

"I've a good mind to box your ears, Dodger. I only weigh a hundred and ninety-five. But I can't be bothered wid your jokes. Can you sew, Miss Florence?"

"Yes; but I would rather earn my living some other way, if possible."

"Small blame to you for that. I had a girl in Dodger's room last year who used to sew for a livin'. Early and late she worked, poor thing, and she couldn't make but two dollars a week."

"How could she live?" asked Florence, startled, for she knew very little of the starvation wages paid to toiling women.

"She didn't live. She just faded away, and it's my belief the poor thing didn't get enough to eat. Every day or two I'd make an excuse to take her in something from my own table, a plate of meat, or a bit of toast and a cup of tay, makin' belave she didn't get a chance to cook for herself, but she got thinner and thinner, and her poor cheeks got hollow, and she died in the hospital at last."

The warm-hearted apple-woman wiped away a tear with the corner of her apron, as she thought of the poor girl whose sad fate she described.

"You won't die of consumption, Mrs. O'Keefe," said Dodger. "It'll take a good while for you to fade away."

"Hear him now," said the apple-woman, laughing. "He will have his joke, Miss Florence, but he's a good bye for all that, and I'm glad he's goin' to lave Tim Bolton, that ould thafe of the worruld."

"Now, Mrs. O'Keefe, you know you'd marry Tim if he'd only ask you."

"Marry him, is it? I'd lay my broom over his head if he had the impudence to ask me. When Maggie O'Keefe marries ag'in, she won't marry a man wid a red nose."

"Break it gently to him, Mrs. O'Keefe. Tim is just the man to break his heart for love of you."

Mrs. O'Keefe aimed a blow at Dodger, but he proved true to his name, and skillfully evaded it.

"I must be goin'," he said. "I've got to work, or I can't pay room rent when the week comes round."

"What are you going to do, Dodger?" asked Florence.

"It isn't time for the evenin' papers yet, so I shall go 'round to the piers and see if I can't get a job at smashin' baggage."

"But I shouldn't think any one would want to do that," said Florence, puzzled.

"It's what we boys call it. It's just carryin' valises and bundles. Sometimes I show strangers the way to Broadway. Last week an old man paid me a dollar to show him the way to the Cooper Institute. He was a gentleman, he was. I'd like to meet him ag'in. Good-by, Miss Florence; I'll be back some time this afternoon."

"And I must be goin', too," said Mrs. O'Keefe. "I can't depend on that Kitty; she's a wild slip of a girl, and just as like as not I'll find a dozen apples stole when I get back. I hope you won't feel lonely, my dear."

"I think I will lie down a while," said Florence. "I have a headache."

She threw herself on the bed, and a feeling of loneliness and desolation came over her.

Her new friends were kind, but they could not make up to her for her uncle's love, so strangely lost, and the home she had left behind. _

Read next: Chapter 10. The Arch Conspirator

Read previous: Chapter 8. A Friendly Compact

Table of content of Adrift in New York: Tom and Florence Braving the World


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book