The Train Boy
THE TRAIN BOY.
By HORATIO ALGER, JR.
Author of "The Errand Boy," "Frank Fowler, the Cash Boy," "TomThatcher's Fortune," "Joe's Luck," "Tony, the Hero," etc.
A. L. BURT, PUBLISHER.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883,
By Street & Smith,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
|I.||—The Train for Chicago||9|
|II.||—A Leap from the Train||17|
|III.||—Paul Palmer at Home||25|
|IV.||—An Unwelcome Visitor||33|
|V.||—Paul to the Rescue||41|
|VI.||—Birds of a Feather||48|
|VII.||—A Rejected Suitor||56|
|VIII.||—The Struggling Artist||64|
|IX.||—The First Sitting||72|
|X.||—Miss Framley's Economy||79|
|XI.||—Paul Gets into Trouble||87|
|XII.||—Paul's Critical Position||95|
|XIII.||—Grace Dearborn at Home||103|
|XIV.||—The Artist's Secret||111|
|XVI.||—An Unwelcome Appearance||125|
|XVII.||—Paul Defends His Mother||131|
|XVIII.||—Grace Dearborn's Party||135|
|XIX.||—The Artist's Recreation||143|
|XX.||—A Persevering Suitor||150|
|XXI.||—Miss Framley's Mortification||158|
|XXII.||—An Unexpected Change||166|
|XXV.||—Paul Changes His Business||182|
|XXVI.||—Mr. Bradford's Office||190|
|XXVII.||—Serving a Tyrant||198|
|XXVIII.||—Mr. Manson is Surprised||206|
|XXIX.||—The Book-keeper's Triumph||211|
|XXX.||—Paul is Promoted||215|
|XXXI.||—Paul and His Successor||222|
|XXXIV.||—Major Ashton in a Quandary||234|
|XXXV.||—Wooing the Widow||238|
|XXXVI.||—Paul Sells the Mine||246|
|XXXVII.||—Diamond Cut Diamond||253|
|XXXVIII.||—A Scene at Omaha||261|
|XXXIX.||—A Thief Foiled||265|
|XL.||—The Lady's Secret||269|
|XLI.||—Major Ashton's Engagement||273|
|XLIII.||—Major Ashton at Bay||284|
THE TRAIN BOY.
THE TRAIN FOR CHICAGO.
The four o'clock afternoon train from Milwaukee,bound for Chicago, had just passed Truesdell, whenthe train boy passed through the cars with a pile ofmagazines under his arm.
He handed them to the right and left for passengersto examine, and after an interval passed back again, toreceive pay for any that might be selected, and gatherup the rest.
"Here's the latest magazines!" he cried, in a pleasantvoice. "Harpers, Scribner's, Lippincott's!"
As he is to be our hero, I will pause a moment tosketch Paul Palmer.
He was a boy of sixteen, of medium height for aboy of that age, with dark brown hair, bright, sparkling[Pg 10]eyes, not without a suggestion of mirthfulness,and round cheeks, with a healthful color. It wouldbe hard to find a more attractive-looking boy thanPaul.
The first passenger he came to on his return roundwas an old lady, bordering upon seventy, who wasquite unaccustomed to traveling, and knew very littleof railways and their customs.
When the magazine had been put in her hands shereceived it with glad complacency, supposing it to be agift from the railroad corporation.
She hunted up her spectacles, and was looking atthe pictures with considerable interest when Paultouched her on the arm.
"Want my ticket a'ready?" she asked, thinking itto be the conductor.
"No, ma'am," answered Paul, smiling. "Pleasegive me the magazine."
"Why, you give it to me yourself," said the oldlady in surprise.
"No, I only handed it to you to examine," saidPaul.
"I thought, to be sure, you give it to me, and Iwas goin' to carry it to my darter Sarah Ann as a present.I'm goin' to spend a week with Sarah Ann."
He had met before unsophisticated travelers ready[Pg 11]to impart their family affairs to any one sufficiently interestedto listen to them.
"You can do it now," he said, "if you will buythe magazine. Every body likes to read Harper's."
"How much do you ax for it?" asked the old lady,cautiously.
"Lands sake!" exclaimed the old lady, in dismay."Thirty-five cents for a picture-book!"
"There's some very nice reading in it, ma'am," saidPaul, patiently.
"Maybe there is, but there ain't any covers."
"If there were I should ask a good deal more."
"I'll pay you ten cents," said the old lady, with theair of one who was making a very liberal offer.
"Couldn't take it, ma'am. I should fail if I didbusiness that way," said Paul.
"Well, I guess you'd better take it, then. I can'tafford to pay thirty-five cents for a picture-book."
Paul took the magazine, and passed on.
The next passenger was a young lady. She, too,had Harper's magazine in her hand.
"Won't you take fifteen cents for it?" she asked,with a smile, for she had heard the colloquy betweenPaul and the old lady.
"I am afraid not," said Paul, smiling back, for heunderstood her.
[Pg 12]"Then I must pay your price."
She drew out a purse, through the meshes of whichgleamed not only silver but gold, and put half a dollarinto Paul's hand.
He was about to return her fifteen cents in change,when she said, pleasantly:
"Never mind. Keep the change for yourself."
"Thank you," answered Paul, politely. "I shouldbe glad of many customers like yourself."
"Have you parents living?" asked the young lady.
"My mother is living, but my father died two yearssince."
"And I suppose you help your mother with yourearnings?"
"Yes, miss, I give them all to her."
"I was sure you were a good boy," said the younglady, with a charming smile. "Tell me, now, do youearn good wages by selling papers and magazines onthe train?"
"Yes, miss, more than I could get in a store oroffice. Last week I made eight dollars. Some luckyweeks I have made as much as eleven."
"Have you no brother or sister?"
"Yes, I have a little sister, ten years old."
"And a brother?"
"I have a half-brother—ten years older than myself,"answered Paul, with evident hesitation.
[Pg 13]"And does he help your mother also?" inquiredthe young lady.
Paul shook his head.
"We don't see much of him," he answered. "Heisn't very steady, and is more likely to ask help of usthan to give it."
"And he is a strong, young man!" exclaimed theyoung lady, indignantly. "Why, he can't have anysense of pride or honor."
"Not much. We can do better without him thanwith him."
"It is lucky for your mother and sister that you aredifferent from him."
"That is true enough, miss. I should be ashamedto act like him."
"What is your little sister's name?"
"Why, that is my name. She is a namesake ofmine."
"Then I hope she will be like her namesake," saidPaul, gallantly.
"I see you are old enough to pay compliments,"said the young lady, smiling. "Do you know what Ifeel like doing?"
"I am going to send a gift to my namesake.Here;" and, opening her purse once more, she[Pg 14]drew from it a two dollar and a half gold piece,and put it into Paul's hand.
"Do you really mean this for Grace?" asked theboy, almost incredulous.
"Though you never saw her?"
"I have seen her brother," said the young lady,"and I have a very good opinion of him."
"Thank you very much. Grace will be delighted."
"Do you live in Chicago?"
"Some time bring your little sister to call on me.I live with my aunt, Mrs. Sheldon, in Ashland avenue."
She handed Paul her card. Glancing at it, he ascertainedthat the name of his liberal friend was GraceDearborn.
"Grace shall certainly come, if only to thank youfor her present," said Paul.
After the boy passed on, Mrs. Sheldon, who sat inthe seat just behind, said:
"Upon my word, Grace, you are extremely liberalto a perfect stranger."
"No doubt, aunt; but I took a fancy to the boy."
"How do you know he told you the truth?"
"I would stake my life upon his truth," said Grace,warmly.
[Pg 15]"Did you ever see him before?"
Mrs. Sheldon shrugged her shoulders.
"You must have great confidence in your knowledgeof human nature, then," she said.
"I have, aunt," said the young lady, smiling.
"Well, my dear, you are rich, and are quite able toindulge your quixotic liberality."
"Thanks to Providence, aunt."
"And to your father."
The two would have taken seats beside each otherhad there been an opportunity, but when they enteredthe car the best they could do was to take outside seats,one directly behind the other.
Miss Dearborn's seat companion was a young manof about thirty, with a complexion preternaturallypale, the pallor being heightened by his intenselyblack hair and mustache.
He was well dressed, and on the middle finger ofhis right hand he wore a cameo ring, which was apparentlyof considerable value.
When Grace Dearborn was holding her colloquywith Paul, the young man glanced from behind thepaper he was reading, and took notice of the well-filledpurse which she displayed.
There was a covetous glitter in his eyes, which could[Pg 16]hardly have been expected from one whose appearanceseemed to indicate that he was in easy circumstances.
He noticed also that Grace replaced the purse in apocket on the side nearest to him.
"I must have that purse," said Luke Denton tohimself.
I may as well say that Denton, originally of goodfamily, had so given himself up to evil courses thathe had been disowned by his relatives, and was reducedto making a living by preying upon the community.
In fact, he was an unscrupulous adventurer, and notabove being a thief.
A LEAP FROM THE TRAIN.
Luke Denton still held the paper before him, andappeared to be reading it; but it had ceased to havean interest for him. He cast furtive glances from behindit at the young lady by his side, and watched foran opportunity to transfer to his own pocket the covetedpurse.
This was likely to be more easily effected becauseGrace Dearborn, though she had taken but slightnotice of him, had made up her mind from a casualglance that he was what is technically called a gentleman.That her purse was in danger from a man sowell dressed never occurred to her.
It so happened that Grace was an interested observerof nature, and so as the train sped over the roadshe looked, now out of the windows at one side, nowout of them at the other.
To a novice, theft under such circumstances wouldhave been difficult, but it was not the first time LukeDenton had practiced the art of a pickpocket.
He seized the opportunity when Grace was looking[Pg 18]across the car, stealthily to insert his hand into herpocket and draw therefrom the well-filled purse, theyoung lady meanwhile being quite unconscious thatshe was suffering a loss.
Her aunt, too, had her attention otherwise bestowed,for she was reading the magazine which herniece had just bought of the train boy.
It looked as if Luke would easily be able to escapewith his booty before his theft could be discovered.Indeed he had made up his mind to leave the train atLibertyville, a small station close at hand, so as to beout of the way when Grace realized her loss; but, unfortunatelyfor him, there had been an unsuspectedwitness of his adroit act.
Paul was just entering the car at the moment, andhis first glance, not unnaturally, was directed towardthe pretty young lady who had shown herself so generousto his little sister.
He was startled when he saw her pocket beingpicked, and was rather surprised that the gentlemanlylooking person at her side should be thethief.
"What shall I do?" he asked himself.
His first impulse was to go forward, apprise MissDearborn of her loss, and denounce her seat companion.But this might enable Luke to drop the purse[Pg 19]and assume the airs of an innocent man. PerhapsDenton in his rage might even attack him.
Paul therefore framed a different plan.
He passed through the car into the next, where hemet the conductor. To him he briefly communicatedwhat he had seen.
"You have done right, Paul," said the conductor,who personally knew him. "Ten to one the gentlemanwill be for getting out at Libertyville, unless weare beforehand with him. There is no time to be lost,as we are only about a mile from the station. Comeback with me."
The conductor entered the car where Grace wasseated, with Paul close at his heels.
Luke Denton was looking out of the window, havingfolded his newspaper.
"In five minutes I shall be safe," thought he, asnot far ahead he caught a distant view of the fewhouses which