Cast Upon the Breakers/Chapter XV
As Jasper and his companion moved away, Carton said, "I'm sorry for that poor duffer, Jasper."
"Why should you be sorry?" asked Jasper, frowning.
"Because he has lost a good place and good prospects, and all for no fault of his own."
"You are getting sentimental, Philip," sneered Jasper.
"No, but I am showing a little humanity. He has lost all this through you----"
"Through us, you mean."
"Well, through us. We have made him the scapegoat for our sins."
"Oh well, he is making a living."
"A pretty poor one. I don't think you would like to be reduced to selling papers."
"His case and mine are different."
"I begin to think also that we have made a mistake in getting him discharged so soon."
"We can't take anything more."
"Because there will be no one to lay the blame upon. He is out of the store."
"That is true. I didn't think of that. But I invited him to come around and call. If he should, and something else should be missing it would be laid to him."
"I don't believe he will call. I am terribly hard up, and our source of income has failed us. Haven't you got a dollar or two to spare?"
"No," answered Jasper coldly. "I only get seven dollars a week."
"But you have nearly all that. You only have to hand in two dollars a week to your uncle."
"Look here, Philip Carton, I hope you don't expect to live off me. I have all I can do to take care of myself."
Carton looked at Jasper in anger and mortification.
"I begin to understand how good a friend you are," he said.
"I am not fool enough to pinch myself to keep you," said Jasper bluntly. "You are a man of twenty five and I am only a boy. You ought to be able to take care of yourself."
"Just give me a dollar, or lend it Jasper, and I will risk it at play. I may rise from the table with a hundred. If I do I will pay you handsomely for the loan."
"I couldn't do it, Mr. Carton. I have only two dollars in my pocket, and I have none to spare."
"Humph! what is that?"
Philip Carton's eyes were fixed upon the sidewalk. There was a flimsy piece of paper fluttering about impelled by the wind. He stooped and picked it up.
"It is a five dollar bill," he exclaimed in exultation. "My luck has come back."
Jasper changed his tone at once. Now Philip was the better off of the two.
"That is luck!" he said. "Shall we go into Delmonico's, and have an ice?"
"If it is at your expense, yes."
"That wouldn't be fair. You have more money than I."
"Yes, and I mean to keep it myself. You have set me the example."
"Come, Philip, you are not angry at my refusing you a loan?"
"No; I think you were sensible. I shall follow your example.
I will bid you good night. I seem to be in luck, and will try my fortune at the gaming table."
"I will go with you."
"No; I would prefer to go alone."
"That fellow is unreasonable," muttered Jasper, as he strode off, discontented. "Did he expect I would divide my salary with him?"
Philip Carton, after he parted company with Jasper, walked back to where Rodney was still selling papers.
"Give me a paper," he said.
"Which will you have?"
"I am not particular. Give me the first that comes handy. Ah, the Evening Sun will do."
He took the paper and put a quarter into Rodney's hand.
As he was walking away Rodney called out, "Stop, here's your change,"
"Never mind," said Philip with a wave of the hand.
"Thank you," said Rodney gratefully, for twenty five cents was no trifle to him at this time.
"That ought to bring me luck," soliloquized Philip Carton as he walked on. "It isn't often I do a good deed. It was all the money I had besides the five dollar bill, and I am sure the news boy will make better use of it than I would."
"That was the young man that was walking with Jasper," reflected Rodney. "Well, he is certainly a better fellow than he. Thanks to this quarter, I shall have made eighty cents today, and still have half a dozen papers. That is encouraging."
Several days passed that could not be considered lucky. Rodney's average profits were only about fifty cent a day, and that was barely sufficient to buy his meals. It left him nothing to put towards paying room rent.
He began to consider whether he would not be compelled to pawn some article from his wardrobe, for he was well supplied with clothing, when he had a stroke of luck.
On Fifteenth Street, by the side of Tiffany's great jewelry store, he picked up a square box neatly done up in thin paper. Opening it, he was dazzled by the gleam of diamonds.
The contents were a diamond necklace and pin, which, even to Rodney's inexperienced eyes, seemed to be of great value.
"Some one must have dropped them in coming from the jewelry store," he reflected. "Who can it be?"
He had not far to seek. There was a card inside on which was engraved:
MRS. ELIZA HARVEY,
with an address on Fifth Avenue.
Passing through to Fifth Avenue Rodney began to scan the numbers on the nearest houses. He judged that Mrs. Harvey must live considerably farther up the Avenue, in the direction of Central Park.
"I will go there at once," Rodney decided. "No doubt Mrs. Harvey is very much distressed by her loss. I shall carry her good news."
The house he found to be between Fortieth and Fiftieth Street. Ascending the steps he rang the bell. The door was opened by a man servant.
"Does Mrs. Harvey live here?" asked Rodney.
"What do you want with her, young man?" demanded the servant in a tone of importance.
"That I will tell her."
"What's your name?"
"I can give you my name, but she won't recognize it."
"Then you don't know her."
"If it's money you want, she don't give to beggars."
"You are impudent" said Rodney hotly. "If you don't give my message you will get into trouble."
The servant opened his eyes. He seemed somewhat impressed by Rodney's confident tone.
"Mrs. Harvey doesn't live here," he said.
"Is she in the house?"
"Well, yes, she's visiting here."
"Then why do you waste your time?" said Rodney impatiently. He forgot for the time that he was no longer being educated at an expensive boarding school, and spoke in the tone he would have used before his circumstances had changed.
"I'll go and ask if she'll see you," said the flunky unwillingly.
Five minutes later a pleasant looking woman of middle age descended the staircase.
"Are you the boy that wished to see me?" she asked.
"Yes, if you are Mrs. Harvey."
"I am. But come in! Thomas, why didn't you invite this young gentleman into the parlor?"
Thomas opened his eyes wide. So the boy whom he had treated so cavalierly was a young gentleman.
He privately put down Mrs. Harvey in his own mind as eccentric.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said. "I didn't know as he was parlor company."
"Well, he is," said Mrs. Harvey with a cordial smile that won Rodney's heart.
"Follow me!" said the lady.
Rodney followed her into a handsome apartment and at a signal seated himself on a sofa.
"Now," she said, "I am ready to listen to your message."
"Have you lost anything?" asked Rodney abruptly.
"Oh, have you found it?" exclaimed Mrs. Harvey, clasping her hands.
"That depends on what you have lost," answered Rodney, who felt that it was necessary to be cautious.
"Certainly, you are quite right. I have lost a box containing jewelry bought this morning at Tiffany's."
"What were the articles?"
"A diamond necklace and pin. They are intended as a present for my daughter who is to be married. Tell me quick have you found them?"
"Is this the box?" asked Rodney.
"Oh yes, yes! How delightful to recover it. I thought I should never see it again. Where did you find it?"
"On Fifteenth Street beside Tiffany's store."
"And you brought it directly to me?"
"Have you any idea of the value of the articles?"
"Perhaps they may be worth five hundred dollars."
"They are worth over a thousand. Are you poor?"
"Yes, madam. I am trying to make a living by selling papers, but find it hard work."
"But you don't look like a newsboy."
"Till a short time since I thought myself moderately rich."
"That is strange. Tell me your story."