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

Chapter 28. Florence Receives A Letter

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_ Chapter XXVIII. Florence Receives A Letter

The discovery, through Tim Bolton, that Curtis Waring had a hand in the disappearance of Dodger, partially relieved the anxiety of Florence--but only partially.

He might be detained in captivity, but even that was far better than an accident to life or limb.

She knew that he would try to get word to her at the earliest opportunity, in order to relieve her fears.

But week after week passed, and no tidings came.

At length, at the end of ten weeks, a note came to her, written on a rough sheet of paper, the envelope marked by a foreign stamp.

It ran thus:

"Dear Florence:--I am sure you have worried over my disappearance. Perhaps you thought I was dead, but I was never better in my life. I am on the ship _Columbia_, bound for San Francisco, around Cape Horn; and just now, as one of the officers tells me, we are off the coast of Brazil.

"There is a ship coming north, and we are going to hail her and give her letters to carry home, so I hope these few lines will reach you all right. I suppose I am in for it, and must keep on to San Francisco. But I haven't told you yet how I came here.

"It was through a trick of your cousin, Curtis Waring. I haven't time to tell you about it; but I was drugged and brought aboard in my sleep; when I woke up I was forty miles at sea.

"Don't worry about me, for I have a good friend on board, Mr. Randolph Leslie, who has been a reporter on one of the New York daily papers. He advises me to get something to do in San Francisco, and work till I have earned money enough to get home. He says I can do better there, where I am not known, and can get higher pay. He is giving me lessons every day, and he says I am learning fast.

"The ship is almost here, and I must stop. Take good care of yourself, and remember me to Mrs. O'Keefe, and I will write you again as soon as I get to San Francisco.


"P. S.--Don't let on to Curtis that you have heard from me, or he might try to play me some trick in San Francisco."

Florence's face was radiant when she had read the letter.

Dodger was alive, well, and in good spirits. The letter arrived during the afternoon, and she put on her street dress at once and went over to the apple-stand and read the letter to Mrs. O'Keefe.

"Well, well!" ejaculated the apple-woman. "So it's that ould thafe of the worruld, Curtis Waring, that has got hold of poor Dodger, just as Tim told us. It seems mighty quare to me that he should want to stale poor Dodger. If it was you, now, I could understand it."

"It seems strange to me, Mrs. O'Keefe," said Florence, thoughtfully. "I thought it might be because Dodger was my friend, but that doesn't seem to be sufficient explanation. Don't you think we ought to show this letter to Mr. Bolton?"

"I was going to suggest that same. If you'll give it to me, Florence, I'll get Mattie to tend my stand, and slip round wid it to Tim's right off."

"I will go with you, Mrs. O'Keefe."

Mattie, who was playing around the corner, was summoned.

"Now, Mattie, just mind the stand, and don't be runnin' away, or them boys will get away wid my whole mornin's profits. Do you hear?"

"Yes, mum."

"And don't you be eatin' all the while you are here. Here's one apple you can have," and the apple-woman carefully picked out one that she considered unsalable.

"That's specked, Mrs. O'Keefe," objected Mattie.

"And what if it is? Can't you bite out the specks? The rest of the apple is good. You're gettin' mighty particular."

Mattie bit a piece out of the sound part of the apple, and, when Mrs. O'Keefe was at a safe distance, gave the rest to a lame bootblack, and picked out one of the best apples for her own eating.

"Bridget O'Keefe is awful mane wid her apples!" soliloquized Mattie, "but I'm too smart for her. Tryin' to pass off one of her old specked apples on me! If I don't take three good one I'm a sinner."

Arrived at the front of the saloon, Mrs. O'Keefe penetrated the interior, and met Tim near the door.

"Have you come in for some whiskey, old lady?" asked Tim, in a jesting tone.

"I'll take that by and by. Florence is outside, and we've got some news for you."

"Won't she come in?"

"No; she don't like to be seen in a place like this. She's got a letter from Dodger."

"You don't mean it!" ejaculated Tim, with sudden interest. "Where is he?"

"Come out and see."

"Good afternoon, Miss Linden," said Tim, gallantly. "So you've news from Dodger?"

"Yes; here is the letter."

Bolton read it through attentively.

"Curtis is smart," he said, as he handed it back. "He couldn't have thought of a better plan for getting rid of the boy. It will take several months for him to reach 'Frisco, and after that he can't get back, for he won't have any money."

"Dodger says he will try to save money enough to pay his way back."

"It will take him a good while."

"It doesn't take long to come back by cars, does it?"

"No; but it costs a great deal of money. Why, it may take Dodger a year to earn enough to pay his way back on the railroad."

"A year!" exclaimed Florence, in genuine dismay--"a year, in addition to the time it takes to go out there! Where will we all be at the end of that time?"

"Not in jail, I hope," answered Bolton, jocularly. "I am afraid your uncle will no longer be in the land of the living."

A shadow came over Florence's face.

"Poor Uncle John!" she said, sadly. "It is terrible to think he may die thinking hardly of me."

"Leavin' his whole fortune to Curtis," continued Tim.

"That is the least thing that troubles me," said Florence.

"A woman's a queer thing," said Tim, shrugging his shoulders. "Here's a fortune of maybe half a million, and half of it rightfully yours, and you don't give it a thought."

"Not compared with the loss of my uncle's affections."

"Money is a great deal more practical than affection."

"Perhaps so, from your standpoint, Mr. Bolton," said Florence, with dignity.

"No offense, miss. When you've lived as long as I, you'll look at things different. Well, I'm glad to hear from the lad. If Curtis had done him any harm, I'd have got even with him if it sent me to jail."

A quiet, determined look replaced Tim Bolton's usual expression of easy good humor. He could not have said anything that would have ingratiated him more with Florence.

"Thank you, Mr. Bolton," she said, earnestly. "I shall always count upon your help. I believe you are a true friend of Dodger----"

"And of yours, too, miss----"

"I believe it," she said, with a smile that quite captivated Tim.

"If it would be any satisfaction to you, Miss Florence," he continued, "I'll give Curtis Waring a lickin'. He deserves it for persecutin' you and gettin' you turned out of your uncle's house."

"Thank you, Mr. Bolton; it wouldn't be any satisfaction to me to see Curtis injured in any way."

"You're too good a Christian, you are, Miss Florence."

"I wish I deserved your praise, but I can hardly lay claim to it. Now, Mr. Bolton, tell me what can I do to help Dodger?"

"I don't see that you can do anything now, as it will be most three months before he reaches 'Frisco. You might write to him toward the time he gets there."

"I will."

"Direct to the post office. I think he'll have sense enough to ask for letters."

"I wish I could send him some money. I am afraid he will land penniless."

"If he lands in good health you can trust him for makin' a livin'. A New York boy, brought up as he was, isn't goin' to starve where there are papers to sell and errands to run. Why, he'll light on his feet in 'Frisco, take my word for it."

Florence felt a good deal encouraged by Tim's words of assurance, and she went home with her heart perceptibly lightened.

But she was soon to have trials of her own, which for the time being would make her forgetful of Dodger. _

Read next: Chapter 29. Mrs. Leighton's Party

Read previous: Chapter 27. Dodger Strikes Luck

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