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

Chapter 13. Tim Bolton's Saloon

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_ Chapter XIII. Tim Bolton's Saloon

Not far from Houston Street, on the west side of the Bowery, is an underground saloon, with whose proprietor we are already acquainted.

It was kept by Tim Bolton, whose peculiar tastes and shady characteristics well fitted him for such a business.

It was early evening, and the gas jets lighted up a characteristic scene.

On the sanded floor were set several tables, around which were seated a motley company, all of them with glasses of beer or whiskey before them.

Tim, with a white apron on, was moving about behind the bar, ministering to the wants of his patrons. There was a scowl upon his face, for he was not fond of work, and he missed Dodger's assistance.

The boy understood the business of mixing drinks as well as he, and often officiated for hours at a time, thus giving his guardian and reputed father a chance to leave the place and meet outside engagements.

A tall, erect gentleman entered the saloon, and walked up to the bar.

"Good-evening, colonel," said Tim.

"Good-evening, sir," said the newcomer, with a stately inclination of the head.

He was really a colonel, having served in the Civil War at the head of a Georgia regiment.

He had all the stately courtesy of a Southern gentleman, though not above the weakness of a frequent indulgence in the strongest fluids dispensed by Tim Bolton.

"What'll you have, colonel?"

"Whiskey straight, sir. It's the only drink fit for a gentleman. Will you join me, Mr. Bolton?"

"Of course, I will," said Tim, as, pouring out a glass for himself, he handed the bottle to the colonel.

"Your health, sir," said the colonel, bowing.

"Same to you, colonel," responded Tim, with a nod.

"Where's the boy?"

Col. Martin had always taken considerable notice of Dodger, being naturally fond of boys, and having once had a son of his own, who was killed in a railroad accident when about Dodger's age.

"Danged if I know!" answered Tim, crossly.

"He hasn't left you, has he?"

"Yes; he's cleared out, the ungrateful young imp! I'd like to lay my hands on the young rascal."

"Was he your son?"

"He was my--stepson," answered Tim, hesitating.

"I see, you married his mother."

"Yes," said Tim, considering the explanation satisfactory, and resolved to adopt it. "I've always treated him as if he was my own flesh and blood, and I've raised him from a young kid. Now he's gone and left me."

"Can you think of any reason for his leaving you?"

"Not one. I always treated him well. He's been a great expense to me, and now he's got old enough to help me he must clear out. He's the most ungrateful cub I ever seen."

"I am sorry he has gone--I used to like to have him serve me."

"And now what's the consequence? Here I am tied down to the bar day and night."

"Can't you get some one in his place?"

"Yes, but I'd likely be robbed; I had a bartender once who robbed me of two or three dollars a day."

"But you trusted the boy?"

"Yes, Dodger wouldn't steal--I can say that much for him."

"There's one thing I noticed about the boy," said the colonel, reflectively. "He wouldn't drink. More than once I have asked him to drink with me, but he would always say, 'Thank you, colonel, but I don't like whiskey.' I never asked him to take anything else, for whiskey's the only drink fit for a gentleman. Do you expect to get the boy back?"

"If I could only get out for a day I'd hunt him up; but I'm tied down here."

"I seed him yesterday, Tim," said a red-nosed man who had just entered the saloon, in company with a friend of the same general appearance. Both wore silk hats, dented and soiled with stains of dirt, coats long since superannuated, and wore the general look of barroom loafers.

They seldom had any money, but lay in wait for any liberal stranger, in the hope of securing a free drink.

"Where did you see him, Hooker?" asked Tim Bolton, with sudden interest.

"Selling papers down by the Astor House."

"Think of that, colonel!" said Tim, disgusted. "Becomin' a common newsboy, when he might be in a genteel employment! Did you speak to him, Hooker?"

"Yes, I asked him if he had left you."

"What did he say?"

"That he had left you for good--that he was going to grow up respectable!"

"Think of that!" said Tim, with renewed disgust. "Did he say where he lived?"


"Did he ask after me?"

"No, except he said that you were no relation of his. He said he expected you stole him when he was a kid, and he hoped some time to find his relations."

Tim Bolton's face changed color, and he was evidently disturbed. Could the boy have heard anything? he wondered, for his suspicions were very near the truth.

"It's all nonsense!" he said, roughly. "Next time you see him, Hooker, foller him home, and find out where he lives."

"All right, Tim. It ought to be worth something," he insinuated, with a husky cough.

"That's so. What'll you take?"

"Whiskey," answered Hooker, with a look of pleased anticipation.

"You're a gentleman, Tim," he said, as he gulped down the contents of a glass without winking.

Briggs, his dilapidated companion, had been looking on in thirsty envy.

"I'll help Hooker to look for Dodger," he said.

"Very well, Briggs."

"Couldn't you stand a glass for me, too, Tim?" asked Briggs, eagerly.

"No," answered Bolton, irritably. "I've been at enough expense for that young rascal already."

But the colonel noticed the pathetic look of disappointment on the face of Briggs, and he was stirred to compassion.

"Drink with me, sir," he said, turning to the overjoyed Briggs.

"Thank you, colonel. You're a gentleman!"

"Two glasses, Tim."

So the colonel drained a second glass, and Briggs, pouring out with trembling fingers as much as he dared, followed suit.

When the last drop was drunk, he breathed a deep sigh of measureless enjoyment.

"If either of you bring that boy in here," said Tim, "I'll stand a couple of glasses for both."

"We're your men, Tim," said Hooker. "Ain't we, Briggs?"

"That's so, Hooker. Shake!"

And the poor victims of drink shook hands energetically. Long since they had sunk their manhood in the intoxicating cup, and henceforth lived only to gratify their unnatural craving for what would sooner or later bring them to a drunkard's grave.

As they left the saloon, the colonel turned to Tim, and said:

"I like whiskey, sir; but I'll be hanged if I can respect such men as those."

"They're bums, colonel, that's what they are!"

"How do they live?"

"Don't know. They're in here about every day."

"If it's drink that's brought them where they are, I'm half inclined to give it up; but, after all, it isn't necessary to make a beast of yourself. I always drink like a gentleman, sir."

"So you do, colonel."

At that moment a poor woman, in a faded calico dress with a thin shawl over her shoulders, descended the steps that led into the saloon, and walked up to the bar.

"Has my husband been here to-night?" she asked.

Tim Bolton frowned.

"Who's your husband?" he asked, roughly.


"No, Bill Wilson hasn't been here to-night. Even if he had you have no business to come after him. I don't want any sniveling women here."

"I couldn't help it, Mr. Bolton," said the woman, putting her apron to her eyes. "If Bill comes in, won't you tell him to come home? The baby's dead, and we haven't a cent in the house!"

Even Tim was moved by this.

"I'll tell him," he said. "Take a drink yourself; you don't look strong. It shan't cost you a cent."

"No," said the woman, "not a drop! It has ruined my happiness, and broken up our home! Not a drop!"

"Here, my good lady," said the colonel, with chivalrous deference, "you have no money. Take this," and he handed the astonished woman a five-dollar bill.

"Heaven bless you, sir!" she exclaimed, fervently.

"Allow me to see you to the street," and the gallant Southern gentleman escorted her up to the sidewalk.

"I'd like to horsewhip that woman's husband. Don't you sell him another drop!" he said, when he returned. _

Read next: Chapter 14. The Missing Will

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

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