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

Chapter 11. Florence Secures Employment

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_ Chapter XI. Florence Secures Employment

For a few days after being installed in her new home Florence was like one dazed.

She could not settle her mind to any plan of self-support.

She was too unhappy in her enforced exile from her home, and it saddened her to think that the uncle who had always been so kind was permanently estranged from her.

Though Mrs. O'Keefe was kind, and Dodger was her faithful friend, she could not accustom herself to her poor surroundings.

She had not supposed luxury so essential to her happiness.

It was worse for her because she had nothing to do but give way to her morbid fancies.

This Mrs. O'Keefe was clear-sighted enough to see.

"I am sorry to see you so downcast like, my dear young lady," she said.

"How can I help it, Mrs. O'Keefe?" returned Florence.

"Try not to think of your wicked cousin, my dear."

"It isn't of him that I think--it is of my uncle. How could he be so cruel, and turn against me after years of kindness?"

"It's that wicked Curtis that is settin' him against you, take my word for it, Miss Florence. Shure, he must be wake-minded to let such a spalpeen set him against a swate young leddy like you."

"He is weak in body, not in mind, Mrs. O'Keefe. You are right in thinking that it is Curtis that is the cause of my misfortune."

"Your uncle will come to his right mind some day, never fear! And now, my dear, shall I give you a bit of advice?"

"Go on, my kind friend. I will promise to consider whatever you say."

"Then you'd better get some kind of work to take up your mind--a bit of sewin', or writin', or anything that comes to hand. I suppose you wouldn't want to mind my apple-stand a couple of hours every day?"

"No," answered Florence. "I don't feel equal to that."

"It would do you no end of good to be out in the open air. It would bring back the roses to your pale cheeks. If you coop yourself up in this dark room, you'll fade away and get thin."

"You are right. I will make an effort and go out. Besides, I must see about work."

Here Dodger entered the room in his usual breezy way. In his hand he brandished a morning paper.

"How are you feelin', Florence?" he asked; he had given up saying Miss Florence at her request. "Here's an advertisement that'll maybe suit you."

"Show it to me, Dodger," said Florence, beginning to show some interest.

The boy directed her attention to the following advertisement:

"Wanted.--A governess for a girl of twelve. Must be a good performer on the piano, and able to instruct in French and the usual English branches. Terms must be moderate. Apply to Mrs. Leighton, at 127 W. ---- Street."

"There, Florence, what do you say to that? That's better than sewin'."

"I don't know, Dodger, whether I am competent."

"You play on the pianner, don't you?"


"Well enough to teach?"

"I think so; but I may not have the gift of teaching."

"Yes, you have. Haven't you been teachin' me every evenin'? You make everything just as clear as mud--no, I don't mean that. You just explain so that I can't help understandin'."

"Then," said Florence, "I suppose I am at liberty to refer to you."

"Yes; you can tell the lady to call at the office of Dodger, Esq., any mornin' after sunrise, and he'll give her full particulars."

Florence did not immediately decide to apply for the situation, but the more she thought of it the more she felt inclined to do so. The little experience she had had with Dodger satisfied her that she should enjoy teaching better than sewing or writing.

Accordingly, an hour later, she put on her street dress and went uptown to the address given in the advertisement.

No. 127 was a handsome brown-stone house, not unlike the one in which Florence had been accustomed to live. It was a refreshing contrast to the poor tenement in which she lived at present.

"Is Mrs. Leighton at home?" inquired Florence. "Yes, miss," answered the servant, respectfully. "Whom shall I say?"

"I have come to apply for the situation of governess," answered Florence, feeling rather awkward as she made the statement.

"Ah," said the servant, with a perceptible decline in respect. "Won't you step in?"

"Thank you."

"Well, she do dress fine for a governess," said Nancy to herself. "It's likely she'll put on airs."

The fact was that Florence was dressed according to her past social position--in a costly street attire--but it had never occurred to her that she was too well dressed for a governess.

She took her seat in the drawing-room, and five minutes later there was a rustling heard, and Mrs. Leighton walked into the room.

"Are you the applicant for the position of governess?" she asked, surveying the elegantly attired young lady seated on the sofa.

"Yes, Mrs. Leighton," answered Florence, easily, for she felt more at home in a house like this than in the tenement.

"Have you taught before?"

"Very little," answered Florence, smiling to herself, as she wondered what Mrs. Leighton would say if she could see Dodger, the only pupil she ever had. "However, I like teaching, and I like children."

"Pardon me, but you don't look like a governess, Miss----"

"Linden," suggested Florence, filling out the sentence. "Do governesses have a peculiar look?"

"I mean as to dress. You are more expensively dressed than the average governess can afford."

"It is only lately that my circumstances required me to support myself. I should not be able to buy such a dress out of my present earnings."

"I am glad to hear you say that, for I do not propose to give a large salary."

"I do not expect one," said Florence, quietly. "You consider yourself competent to instruct in music, French and the English branches?"

"Oh, yes."

"Do you speak French?"

"Yes, madam."

"Would you favor me with a specimen of your piano playing?"

There was a piano in the back parlor. Florence removed her gloves, and taking a seat before it, dashed into a spirited selection from Strauss.

Mrs. Leighton listened with surprised approval.

"Certainly you are a fine performer," she said. "What--if I should engage you--would you expect in the way of compensation?"

"How much time would you expect me to give?"

"Three hours daily--from nine to twelve."

"I hardly know what to say. What did you expect to pay?"

"About fifty cents an hour."

Florence knew very well, from the sums that had been paid for her own education, that this was miserably small pay; but it was much more than she could earn by sewing.

"I will teach a month on those terms," she said, after a pause.

Mrs. Leighton looked well pleased. She knew that she was making a great bargain.

"Oh, by the way," she said, "can you give references?"

"I can refer you to Madam Morrison," naming the head of a celebrated female seminary. "She educated me."

"That will be quite satisfactory," said Mrs. Leighton, graciously. "Can you begin to-morrow?"

"Yes, madam."

"You will then see your pupil. At present she is out."

Florence bowed and withdrew.

She had been afraid Mrs. Leighton would inquire where she lived, and she would hardly dare to name the humble street which she called home.

She walked toward Fifth Avenue, when, just as she was turning the corner, she met Mr. Percy de Brabazon, swinging a slender cane, and dressed in the extreme of the fashion.

"Miss Linden!" he exclaimed, eagerly. "This is--aw--indeed a pleasure. Where are you walking this fine morning? May I--aw--have the pleasure of accompanying you?"

Florence stopped short in deep embarrassment. _

Read next: Chapter 12. A Friend, Though A Dude

Read previous: Chapter 10. The Arch Conspirator

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