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

Chapter 12. A Friend, Though A Dude

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_ Chapter XII. A Friend, Though A Dude

Percy de Brabazon looked sincerely glad to meet Florence, and she herself felt some pleasure in meeting one who reminded her of her former life.

But it was quite impossible that she should allow him to accompany her to her poor home on the East Side.

"Thank you, Mr. de Brabazon, but my engagements this morning will hardly permit me to accept your escort," she said.

"I suppose that means that you are going shopping; but I don't mind it, I assure you, and I will carry your bundles," he added, magnanimously.

"That would never do. What! the fashionable Mr. de Brabazon carrying bundles? You would lose your social status."

"I don't mind, Miss Florence, as long as you give me--aw--an approving smile."

"I will give it now, as I bid you good-morning."

"May I--aw--have the pleasure of calling upon you to-morrow evening, Miss Linden?"

"It is evident that you have not heard that I am no longer residing with my uncle."

Mr. de Brabazon looked surprised.

"No, I had not heard. May I ask--aw--where you are wesiding?"

"With friends," answered Florence, briefly. "As you are a friend and will be likely to hear it, I may as well mention that my uncle is displeased with me, and has practically disowned me."

"Then, Miss Florence," said Mr. de Brabazon, eagerly, "won't you accept--aw--my heart and hand? My mother will be charmed to receive you, and I--aw--will strive to make you happy."

"I appreciate your devotion, I do, indeed, Mr. de Brabazon," said Florence, earnestly; "but I must decline your offer. I will not marry without love."

"I don't mind that," said Percy, "if you'll agree to take a feller; you'll learn in time to like him a little. I am wich--I know you don't care for that--but I can give you as good a home as your uncle. If you would give me hope--aw----"

"I am afraid I cannot, Mr. de Brabazon, but if you will allow me to look upon you as a friend, I will call upon you if I have need of a friend's services."

"Will you, weally?"

"Yes, there is my hand on it. I ought to tell you that I must now earn my own living, and am to give lessons to a young pupil in West ---- Street, three hours daily."

"You don't mean to say you are actually poor?" said Mr. de Brabazon, horrified.

"Yes, indeed, I am."

"Then, won't you let me lend you some money? I've got more than I need, I have, 'pon my honor."

"Thank you, I promise to call upon you if I need it."

Mr. de Brabazon looked pleased.

"Would you mind telling me where you are going to teach, Miss Florence?"

Florence hesitated, but there was something so sincere and friendly in the young man's manner--dude though he was--that she consented to grant his request.

"I am to teach the daughter of Mr. Robert Leighton."

"Why, Miss Leighton is my cousin," said Percy, in joyous excitement.

"Indeed! Had I known that I would hardly have told you."

"Don't be afwaid! I will be vewy discreet," said Mr. de Brabazon.

"Thank you, and good-morning."

Florence went on her way, cheered and encouraged in spite of herself, by her success in obtaining employment, and by the friendly offers of Mr. de Brabazon.

"It is wrong to get discouraged," she said to herself. "After all, there are warm hearts in the world."

When she entered her humble home, she found Dodger already there. There was an eagerness in his manner, and a light in his eye, that seemed to indicate good news.

"Well, Dodger, what is it?"

"I've been waitin' half an hour to see you, Florence," he said. "I've got some work for you."

"What is it--sewing on a button, or mending a coat?"

"No, I mean workin' for money. You can play on the pianner, can't you?"


"They want a young lady to play the pianner at a dime museum, for nine dollars a week. It's a bully chance. I just told the manager--he's a friend of mine--that I had a young lady friend that was a stunnin' player, and he wants you to come around and see him."

It was a preposterous idea--so Florence thought--that she should consent to play at such a place; but she couldn't expect Dodger to look at the matter in the same light, so she answered, very gently and pleasantly:

"You are very kind, Dodger, to look out for me, but I shall not need to accept your friend's offer. I have secured a chance to teach uptown."

"You have? What'll you get?"

"I am to be employed three hours daily, at fifty cents an hour."

"Geewhillikens! that's good! You'd have to work as much as twelve hours at the museum for the same pay."

"You see, therefore, that I am provided for--that is, if I suit."

Dodger was a little disappointed. Still, he could not help admitting that it would be better for Florence to teach three hours, than to work ten or twelve. As to her having any objection to appearing at a dime museum, that never occurred to him.

Florence had sent for her trunk, and it was now in her room.

Dodger accompanied an expressman to the house, and luckily saw Jane, who arranged everything for him.

"How's the old gentleman?" asked Dodger. "Florence wanted me to ask."

"He's feeble," said Jane, shaking her head.

"Does he miss Florence?"

"That he do."

"Why don't he send for her, then, to come back?" asked Dodger, bluntly.

"Because Curtis Waring makes him believe she'll come around and ask forgiveness, if he only holds out. I tell you, Dodger, that Curtis is a viper."

"So he is," answered Dodger, who was not quite clear in his mind as to what a viper was. "I'd like to step on his necktie."

"If it wasn't for him, my dear young mistress would be back in the house within twenty-four hours."

"I don't see how the old gentleman can let him turn Florence out of the house."

"He's a snake in the grass, Dodger. It may be wicked, but I just wish something would happen to him. And how is Miss Florence lookin', poor dear?"

"She's lookin' like a daisy."

"Does she worry much?"

"She did at first, but now she's workin' every day, and she looks more cheerful-like."

"Miss Florence workin'! She that was always brought up like a lady!"

"She's teachin' a little girl three hours a day."

"Well, that isn't so bad!" said Jane, relieved. "Teachin' is genteel. I wish I could see her some day. Will you tell her, Dodger, that next Sunday is my day out, and I'll be in Central Park up by the menagerie at three o'clock, if she'll only take the trouble to be up there?"

"I'll tell her, Jane, and I'm sure she'll be there."

A day or two afterward Curtis Waring asked: "Have you heard from my Cousin Florence since she went away?"

"Yes, sir."

"Indeed! Where is she staying?"

"She didn't send me word."

"How, then, did you hear from her?"

"Dodger came with an expressman for her trunk."

Curtis Waring frowned.

"And you let him have it?" he demanded, sternly.

"Of course I did. Why shouldn't I?"

"You should have asked me."

"And what business have you with Miss Florence's trunk, I'd like to know?" said Jane, independently.

"Never mind; you ought to have asked my permission."

"I didn't think you'd want to wear any of Miss Florence's things, Mr. Waring."

"You are silly and impertinent," said Curtis, biting his lips. "Did that boy tell you anything about her?"

"Only that she wasn't worryin' any for you, Mr. Curtis."

Curtis glanced angrily at his cousin's devoted friend, and then, turning on his heel, left the room.

"I'll bring her to terms yet," he muttered. "No girl of seventeen shall defy me!" _

Read next: Chapter 13. Tim Bolton's Saloon

Read previous: Chapter 11. Florence Secures Employment

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