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

Chapter 34. Just In Time

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_ Chapter XXXIV. Just In Time

Dodger, who was a strong, stout boy, gathered himself up and dashed against the ruffian with such impetuosity that he fell over his intended victim, and his bludgeon fell from his hand.

It was the work of an instant to lift it, and raise it in a menacing position.

The discomfited villain broke into a volley of oaths, and proceeded to pick himself up.

He was a brutal-looking fellow, but was no larger than Dodger, who was as tall as the majority of men.

"Give me that stick," he exclaimed, furiously.

"Come and take it," returned Dodger, undaunted.

The fellow took him at his word, and made a rush at our hero, but a vigorous blow from the bludgeon made him cautious about repeating the attack.

"Curse you!" he cried, between his teeth. "I'd like to chaw you up."

"I have no doubt you would," answered Dodger; "but I don't think you will. Were you going to rob this man?"

"None of your business!"

"I shall make it my business. You'd better go, or you may be locked up."

"Give me that stick, then."

"You'll have to do without it."

He made another rush, and Dodger struck him such a blow on his arm that he winced with pain.

"Now I shall summon the police, and you can do as you please about going."

Dodger struck the stick sharply on the sidewalk three times, and the ruffian, apprehensive of arrest, ran around the corner just in time to rush into the arms of a policeman.

"What has this man been doing?" asked the city guardian, turning to Dodger.

"He was about to rob this man."

"Is the man hurt?"

"Where am I?" asked the prostrate man, in a bewildered tone.

"I will take care of him, if you will take charge of that fellow."

"Can you get up, sir?" asked Dodger, bending over the fallen man.

The latter answered by struggling to his feet and looking about him in a confused way.

"Where am I?" he asked. "What has happened?"

"You were attacked by a ruffian. I found you on the sidewalk, with him bending over you with this club in his hand."

"He must have followed me. I was imprudent enough to show a well-filled pocketbook in a saloon where I stopped to take a drink. No doubt he planned to relieve me of it."

"You have had a narrow escape, sir."

"I have no doubt of it. I presume the fellow was ready to take my life, if he found it necessary."

"I will leave you now, sir, if you think you can manage."

"No, stay with me. I feel rather upset."

"Where are you staying, sir?"

"At the Palace Hotel. Of course you know where that is?"

"Certainly. Will you take my arm?"

"Thank you."

Little was said till they found themselves in the sumptuous hotel, which hardly has an equal in America.

"Come to my room, young man; I want to speak to you."

It was still early in the evening, and Dodger's time was his own.

He had no hesitation, therefore, in accepting the stranger's invitation.

On the third floor the stranger produced a key and opened the door of a large, handsomely-furnished room.

"If you have a match, please light the gas."

Dodger proceeded to do so, and now, for the first time, obtained a good view of the man he had rescued. He was a man of about the average height, probably not far from fifty, dressed in a neat business suit, and looked like a substantial merchant.

"Please be seated."

Dodger sat down in an easy-chair conveniently near him.

"Young man," said the stranger, impressively, "you have done me a great favor."

Dodger felt that this was true, and did not disclaim it.

"I am very glad I came up just as I did," he said.

"How large a sum of money do you think I had about me?" asked his companion.

"Five hundred dollars?"

"Five hundred dollars! Why, that would be a mere trifle."

"It wouldn't be a trifle to me, sir," said Dodger.

"Are you poor?" asked the man, earnestly.

"I have a good situation that pays me fifteen dollars a week, so I ought not to consider myself poor."

"Suppose you had a considerable sum of money given you, what would you do with it?"

"If I had five hundred dollars, I should be able to defeat the schemes of a villain, and restore a young lady to her rights."

"That seems interesting. Tell me the circumstances."

Dodger told the story as briefly as he could. He was encouraged to find that the stranger listened to him with attention.

"Do you know," he said, reflectively, "you have done for me what I once did for another--a rich man? The case was very similar. I was a poor boy at the time. Do you know what he gave me?"

"What was it, sir?"

"A dollar! What do you think of that for generosity?"

"Well, sir, it wasn't exactly liberal. Did you accept it?"

"No. I told him that I didn't wish to inconvenience him. But I asked you how much money you supposed I had. I will tell you. In a wallet I have eleven thousand dollars in bank notes and securities."

"That is a fortune," said Dodger, dazzled at the mention of such a sum.

"If I had lost it, I have plenty more, but the most serious peril was to my life. Through your opportune assistance I have escaped without loss. I fully appreciate the magnitude of the service you have done me. As an evidence of it, please accept these bills."

He drew from the roll two bills and handed them to Dodger.

The boy, glancing at them mechanically, started in amazement. Each bill was for five hundred dollars.

"You have given me a thousand dollars!" he gasped.

"I am aware of it. I consider my life worth that, at least. James Swinton never fails to pay his debts."

"But, sir, a thousand dollars----"

"It's no more than you deserve. When I tell my wife, on my return to Chicago, about this affair, she will blame me for not giving you more."

"You seem to belong to a liberal family, sir."

"I detest meanness, and would rather err on the side of liberality. Now, if agreeable to you, I will order a bottle of champagne, and solace ourselves for this little incident."

"Thank you, Mr. Swinton, but I have made up my mind not to drink anything stronger than water. I have tended bar in New York, and what I have seen has given me a dislike for liquor of any kind."

"You are a sensible young man. You are right, and I won't urge you. There is my card, and if you ever come to Chicago, call upon me."

"I will, sir."

When Dodger left the Palace Hotel he felt that he was a favorite of fortune.

It is not always that the money we need is so quickly supplied.

He resolved to return to New York as soon as he could manage it, and take with him the wife and child of Curtis Waring.

This would cost him about five hundred dollars, and he would have the same amount left.

Mr. Tucker was reluctant to part with Dodger.

"You are the best assistant I ever had," he said. "I will pay you twenty dollars a week, if that will induce you to stay."

"I would stay if it were not very important for me to return to New York, Mr. Tucker. I do not expect to get a place in New York as good."

"If you come back to San Francisco at any time, I will make a place for you."

"Thank you, sir."

Mrs. Waring was overjoyed when Dodger called upon her and offered to take her back to New York.

"I shall see Curtis again," she said. "How can I ever thank you?"

But Dodger, though unwilling to disturb her dreams of happiness, thought it exceedingly doubtful if her husband would be equally glad to see her. _

Read next: Chapter 35. The Darkest Day

Read previous: Chapter 33. An Important Discovery

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