Cast Upon the Breakers/Chapter V
"You have been very fortunate in recovering your jewels," said the agent.
"I owe it to you," replied Rodney gratefully.
"Well, perhaps so. If I have rendered you a service I am very glad."
"And I am very glad to have found so good a friend. I hope you will let me pay for your ticket to New York."
"It won't be necessary. The interruption of our journey won't invalidate the ticket we have."
An hour later they reached New York.
"What are your plans, Rodney?" asked Adin Woods, who by this time had become quite intimate with his young companion.
"I shall call on my guardian, and perhaps he may give me some advice as to what I do. Where would you advise me to go--to a hotel?"
"No; it will be too expensive. I know of a plain boarding house on West Fourteenth Street where you can be accommodated with lodging and two meals--breakfast and supper, or dinner as we call it here--for a dollar a day."
"I shall be glad to go there, for the present, at least. I haven't much money, and must find something to do as soon as possible."
"We will both go there, and if you don't object we will take a room together. That will give us a larger apartment. Mrs. Marcy is an old acquaintance of mine, and will give you a welcome."
Rodney was glad to accept his companion's proposal. They proceeded at once to the boarding house, and fortunately found a good room vacant on the third floor. Mr. Woods went out in the evening to make a call, but Rodney was glad to go to bed at nine o'clock.
The next morning after breakfast Rodney consulted his companion as to what he should do with the casket.
"Do you want to raise money on it?" asked the agent.
"No; I shall not do this unless I am obliged to."
"Have you any idea as to the value of the jewels?"
"Then I will take you first to a jeweler in Maiden Lane, a friend of mine, who will appraise them. Afterwards I advise you to deposit the casket at a storage warehouse, or get Tiffany to keep it for you."
"I will do as you suggest."
Maiden Lane is a street largely devoted to jewelers, wholesale and retail. Rodney followed Mr. Woods into a store about midway between Broadway and Nassau Street. A pleasant looking man of middle age greeted the agent cordially.
"What can I do for you?" he asked. "Do you wish to buy a diamond ring for the future Mrs. Woods?"
"Not much. I would like to have you appraise some jewelry belonging to my young friend here."
The casket was opened, and the jeweler examined the contents admiringly.
"This is choice jewelry," he said. "Does your friend wish to sell?"
"Not at present," answered Rodney.
"When you do give me a call. I will treat you fairly. You wish me to appraise these articles?"
"Yes, sir, if you will."
"It will take me perhaps fifteen minutes."
The jeweler retired to the back part of the store with the casket.
In about a quarter of an hour he returned.
"Of course I can't give exact figures," he said, "but I value the jewelry at about twelve hundred dollars."
Rodney looked surprised.
"I didn't think it so valuable," he said.
"I don't mean that you could sell it for so much, but if you wish to dispose of it I will venture to give you eleven hundred."
"Thank you. If I decide to sell I will certainly come to you."
"Now," said the agent, "I advise you on the whole to store the casket with Tiffany."
"Shall I have to pay storage in advance?" asked Rodney anxiously.
"I think not. The value of the jewels will be a sufficient guarantee that storage will be paid."
Rodney accompanied Adin Woods to the great jewelry store on the corner of Fifteenth Street and Union Square, and soon transacted his business.
"Now, you won't have any anxiety as to the safety of the casket," said the agent. "Your friend of the train will find it difficult to get hold of the jewels. Now I shall have to leave you, as I have some business to attend to. We will meet at supper."
Rodney decided to call at the office of his late guardian, Benjamin Fielding. It was in the lower part of the city.
On his way down town he purchased a copy of a morning paper. Almost the first article he glanced at proved to be of especial interest to him. It was headed
SKIPPED TO CANADA
Rumors have been rife for some time affecting the busines standing of Mr. Benjamin Fielding, the well known commission merchant. Yesterday it was discovered that he had left the city, but where he has gone is unknown. It is believed that he is very deeply involved, and seeing no way out of his embarrassment has skipped to Canada, or perhaps taken passage to Europe. Probably his creditors will appoint a committee to look into his affairs and report what can be done.
LATER--An open letter has been found in Mr. Fielding's desk, addressed to his creditors. It expresses regret for their losses, and promises, if his life is spared, and fortune favors him, to do all in his power to make them good. No one doubts Mr. Fielding's integrity, and regrets are expressed that he did not remain in the city and help unravel the tangle in which his affairs are involved. He is a man of ability, and as he is still in the prime of life, it may be that he will be able to redeem his promises and pay his debts in full, if sufficient time is given him.
"I can get no help or advice from Mr. Fielding," thought Rodney. "I am thrown upon my own resources, and must fight the battle of life as well as I can alone."
He got out in front of the Astor House. As he left the car he soiled his shoes with the mud so characteristic of New York streets.
"Shine your boots?" asked a young Arab, glancing with a business eye at Rodney's spattered shoes.
Rodney accepted his offer, not so much because he thought the blacking would last, as for the opportunity of questioning the free and independent young citizen who was doing, what he hoped to do, that is, making a living for himself.
"Is business good with you?" asked Rodney. "It ought to be with the street in this condition."
"Yes; me and de Street Commissioner is in league together. He makes business good for me."
"And do you pay him a commission?" asked Rodney smiling.
"I can't tell no official secrets. It might be bad for me."
"You are an original genius."
"Am I? I hope you ain't callin' me names."
"Oh no. I am only paying you a compliment. What is your name?"
"Were do you live, Mike?"
"At the Lodge."
"I suppose you mean at the Newsboys' `Lodge?'"
"How much do you have to pay there?"
"Six cents for lodgin', and six cents for supper and breakfast."
"That is, six cents for each."
"Yes; you ain't comin' to live there, are you?" asked Mike.
"I don't know--I may have to."
"What makes you think I am joking?"
"Because you're a swell. Look at them clo'es!"
"I have a good suit of clothes, to be sure, but I haven't much money. You are better off than I am."
"How's that?" asked Mike incredulously.
"You've got work to do, and I am earning nothing."
"If you've got money enough to buy a box and brush, you can go in with me."
"I don't think I should like it, Mike. It would spoil my clothes, and I am afraid I wouldn't have money enough to buy others."
"I keep my dress suit at home--the one I wear to parties."
"Haven't you got any father or mother, Mike? How does it happen that you are living in New York alone?"
"My farder is dead, and me mudder, she married a man wot ain't no good. He'd bate me till I couldn't stand it. So I just run away."
"Where does your mother live?"
"Some time when you earn money enough you can ask her to come here and live with you."
"They don't take women at the Lodge."
"No, I suppose not," said Rodney, smiling.
"Besides she's got two little girls by her new husband, and she wouldn't want to leave them."
By this time the shine was completed, and Rodney paid Mike.
"If I ever come to the Lodge, I'll ask for you," he said.
"Where do you live now?"
"I'm just staying at a place on Fourteenth Street, but I can't afford to stay there long, for they charge a dollar a day."
"Geewholliker, that would bust me, and make me a financial wreck as the papers say."
"How did you lose your fortune and get reduced to blacking boots?" asked Rodney jocosely.
"I got scooped out of it in Wall Street," answered Mike. "Jay Gould cleaned me out."
"And I suppose now he has added your fortune to his."
"You've hit it boss."
"Well, good day, Mike, I'll see you again some day----"
"All right! I'm in my office all de mornin'."