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

Chapter 23. Through The Golden Gate

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_ Chapter XXIII. Through The Golden Gate

"Well, this is certainly a remarkable letter," said the reporter, as he handed it back to Dodger. "I am at a loss to understand the interest which this man appears to feel in you."

"I look upon him as my enemy," said Dodger. "But an enemy doesn't spend so much money upon another as he has."

"Unless he has object in it," amended Leslie, shrewdly. "Do you know of any connection this man has with you?"

"No; I never heard of him until I entered his house," and Dodger flushed as he thought that his entrance into the mansion on Madison Avenue had been as a burglar.

"It seems to me that he knows more about you than you do about him. It also seems to me that he is anxious to get you out of New York, the farther the better."

"But what harm could I do him in New York?" asked Dodger, puzzled.

"That is the question which I cannot answer. You say he was instrumental in getting his Cousin Florence out of the house?"

"Yes; he wanted to marry her."

"And she would not consent?"

"No; I think she hates him."

"How old is she?"


"And he?"

"He looks about thirty-five."

"The difference in years isn't great enough to constitute an obstacle, provided she loved him. I am thirty years old."

"I am sure Florence would prefer you to Curtis Waring."

"Don't flatter me. I am vain enough already. The time may come when I may ask your good offices with Miss Linden. What I was about to ask was: Is Miss Linden also entitled to a share in her uncle's estate?"

"She is just as nearly related to him as Mr. Waring."

"Then I can understand his wishing to get rid of her. I don't know why he should want to send you to a distance. I suppose there can't be any relationship?"

"Is it likely that I--a poor street boy--should be related to a rich man like Mr. Linden?"

"It doesn't seem likely, I admit," said Leslie, musingly. "Well, I suppose," he continued, after a pause, "there is no use in speculating about the matter now. The important point is, what are we to do with ourselves during the four or five months we must spend on shipboard?"

"I don't know what I can do," said Dodger. "I can't sell papers, and I can't smash baggage."

"And there appears to be no need of your doing either, as you are provided with board and lodging till we reach shore."

"That seems strange to me, for I've always had to hustle for a living."

"I was about to make a proposal to you. But first let me ask you about your education. I suppose you are not an accomplished scholar?"

"I'm about as ignorant as they make 'em," answered Dodger, drolly. "Tim was afraid to send me to college, for fear I'd get to know too much for my business."

"Tending bar does not require an acquaintance with Latin and Greek. Would you like to know more?"

"I wish I did. Florence was teaching me nights when I was in New York. Now I've got to give up all that."

"Not necessarily. Listen to me, Arthur. Before I came to New York to go into journalism, I taught school for two years; and I believe I may say that I was tolerably successful. Suppose I take you as a scholar?"

"I should like it very much, Mr. Leslie, but I'm afraid I haven't got money enough to pay you."

"That is true. You will need all the money you have when you land in California. Twenty-five dollars won't go far--still you have all the money that is necessary, for I do not intend to charge you anything."

"You are very kind to me, Mr. Leslie, considerin' you don't know me," said Dodger, gratefully.

"On the contrary, I think I know you very well. But about the kindness --my motives are somewhat mixed. I should like to do you a service, but I should also like to find employment for myself that will make the days less monotonous. I have a collection of books in my trunk, enough for our needs, and if you will agree we will commence our studies to-morrow."

"I should like it very much. I'd like to show Florence, when I see her, that I have improved. Till I saw her I didn't care much, but when I talk with her I feel awfully ignorant."

"In four months a great deal can be accomplished. I don't know how quick you are to learn. After we have had one or two lessons I can judge better."

Two days later Mr. Leslie pronounced his opinion, and a favorable one.

"You have not exaggerated your ignorance," he said to Dodger. "You have a great deal to learn, but on the other hand you are quick, have a retentive memory, and are very anxious to learn. I shall make something of you."

"I learn faster with you than with Florence," said Dodger.

"Probably she would succeed better with girls, but I hold that a male teacher is better for boys. How long are you willing to study every day?"

"As long as you think best."

"Then we will say from two to three hours. I think you have talent for arithmetic. I don't expect to make you fit for a bookkeeper, but I hope to make you equal to most office boys by the time we reach San Francisco. What do you intend to do in California?"

"I don't know. I should like to go back to New York, but I shall not have money enough."

"No; twenty-five dollars would go but a little way toward the passage. Evidently Mr. Waring did not intend to have you return, or he would have provided you with more."

"That is just why I should like to go back. I am afraid he will do some harm to Florence."

"And you would like to be on hand to protect her?"


Randolph Leslie smiled.

"You seem to take a great deal of interest in Florence, if I may make as free with her name as you do."

"Yes; I do, Mr. Leslie."

"If you were only a little older I might suspect the nature of that interest."

"I am older than she is."

"In years, yes. But a young lady of seventeen, brought up as she has been, is older by years than a boy of eighteen. I don't think you need apprehend any harm to Miss Linden, except that Mr. Waring may cheat her out of her rightful share of the inheritance. Is her uncle in good health?"

"No, sir; he is a very feeble man."

"Is he an old man?"

"Not so very old. I don't believe he is over sixty."

Really Mr. Linden was but fifty-four, but, being a confirmed invalid, he looked older.

"Should you say that he was likely to live very long?"

"No," answered Dodger. "He looks as if you could knock him over with a feather. Besides, I've heard Florence say that she was afraid her uncle could not live long."

"Probably Curtis Waring is counting upon this. If he can keep Florence and her uncle apart for a few months, Mr. Linden will die, and he will inherit the whole estate. What is this will he speaks of in the letter you showed me?"

"I don't know, sir."

"Whatever the provisions are, it is evident that he thinks it important to get it into his possession. If favorable to him, he will keep it carefully. If unfavorable, I think a man like him would not hesitate to suppress it."

"No doubt you are right, sir. I don't know much about wills," said Dodger.

"No; I suppose not. You never made any, I suppose," remarked the reporter, with a smile.

"I never had nothing to leave," said Dodger.

"Anything would be a better expression. As your tutor I feel it incumbent upon me to correct your grammar."

"I wish you would, Mr. Leslie. What do you mean to do when you get to San Francisco?"

"I shall seek employment on one of the San Farncisco daily papers. Six months or a year so spent will restore my health, and enable me to live without drawing upon my moderate savings."

"I expect I shall have to work, too, to get money to take me back to New York."

And now we must ask the reader to imagine four months and one week passed.

There had been favorable weather on the whole, and the voyage was unusually short.

Dodger and the reporter stood on deck, and with eager interest watched the passage through the Golden Gate. A little later and the queen city of the Pacific came in sight, crowning the hill on which a part of the city is built, with the vast Palace Hotel a conspicuous object in the foreground. _

Read next: Chapter 24. Florence In Suspense

Read previous: Chapter 22. The Other Passenger

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