Fortunately for Dick, his young tutor was well qualified to instruct him.
Henry Fosdick, though only twelve years old, knew as much as many boys o_ourteen. He had always been studious and ambitious to excel. His father, being a printer, employed in an office where books were printed, often brough_ome new books in sheets, which Henry was always glad to read. Mr. Fosdick ha_een, besides, a subscriber to the Mechanics' Apprentices' Library, whic_ontains many thousands of well-selected and instructive books. Thus Henry ha_cquired an amount of general information, unusual in a boy of his age.
Perhaps he had devoted too much time to study, for he was not naturall_obust. All this, however, fitted him admirably for the office to which Dic_ad appointed him,—that of his private instructor.
The two boys drew up their chairs to the rickety table, and spread out th_aper before them.
"The exercises generally Commence with ringin' the bell," said Dick; "but as _int got none, we'll have to do without."
"And the teacher is generally provided with a rod," said Fosdick. "Isn't ther_ poker handy, that I can use in case my scholar doesn't behave well?"
"'Taint lawful to use fire-arms," said Dick.
"Now, Dick," said Fosdick, "before we begin, I must find out how much yo_lready know. Can you read any?"
"Not enough to hurt me," said Dick. "All I know about readin' you could put i_ nutshell, and there'd be room left for a small family."
"I suppose you know your letters?"
"Yes," said Dick, "I know 'em all, but not intimately. I guess I can call 'e_ll by name."
"Where did you learn them? Did you ever go to school?"
"Yes; I went two days."
"Why did you stop?"
"It didn't agree with my constitution."
"You don't look very delicate," said Fosdick.
"No," said Dick, "I aint troubled much that way; but I found lickins didn'_gree with me."
"Did you get punished?"
"Awful," said Dick.
"For indulgin' in a little harmless amoosement," said Dick. "You see the bo_hat was sittin' next to me fell asleep, which I considered improper i_chool-time; so I thought I'd help the teacher a little by wakin' him up. So _ook a pin and stuck into him; but I guess it went a little too far, for h_creeched awful. The teacher found out what it was that made him holler, an_hipped me with a ruler till I was black and blue. I thought 'twas about tim_o take a vacation; so that's the last time I went to school."
"You didn't learn to read in that time, of course?"
"No," said Dick; "but I was a newsboy a little while; so I learned a little, just so's to find out what the news was. Sometimes I didn't read straight an_alled the wrong news. One mornin' I asked another boy what the paper said, and he told me the King of Africa was dead. I thought it was all right til_olks began to laugh."
"Well, Dick, if you'll only study well, you won't be liable to make suc_istakes."
"I hope so," said Dick. "My friend Horace Greeley told me the other day tha_e'd get me to take his place now and then when he was off makin' speeches i_y edication hadn't been neglected."
"I must find a good piece for you to begin on," said Fosdick, looking over th_aper.
"Find an easy one," said Dick, "with words of one story."
Fosdick at length found a piece which he thought would answer. He discovere_n trial that Dick had not exaggerated his deficiencies. Words of tw_yllables he seldom pronounced right, and was much surprised when he was tol_ow "through" was sounded.
"Seems to me it's throwin' away letters to use all them," he said.
"How would you spell it?" asked his young teacher.
"T-h-r-u," said Dick.
"Well," said Fosdick, "there's a good many other words that are spelt wit_ore letters than they need to have. But it's the fashion, and we must follo_t."
But if Dick was ignorant, he was quick, and had an excellent capacity.
Moreover he had perseverance, and was not easily discouraged. He had made u_is mind he must know more, and was not disposed to complain of the difficult_f his task. Fosdick had occasion to laugh more than once at his ludicrou_istakes; but Dick laughed too, and on the whole both were quite interested i_he lesson.
At the end of an hour and a half the boys stopped for the evening.
"You're learning fast, Dick," said Fosdick. "At this rate you will soon lear_o read well."
"Will I?" asked Dick with an expression of satisfaction. "I'm glad of that. _on't want to be ignorant. I didn't use to care, but I do now. I want to gro_p 'spectable."
"So do I, Dick. We will both help each other, and I am sure we can accomplis_omething. But I am beginning to feel sleepy."
"So am I," said Dick. "Them hard words make my head ache. I wonder who made
"That's more than I can tell. I suppose you've seen a dictionary."
"That's another of 'em. No, I can't say I have, though I may have seen him i_he street without knowin' him."
"A dictionary is a book containing all the words in the language."
"How many are there?"
"I don't rightly know; but I think there are about fifty thousand."
"It's a pretty large family," said Dick. "Have I got to learn 'em all?"
"That will not be necessary. There are a large number which you would neve_ind occasion to use."
"I'm glad of that," said Dick; "for I don't expect to live to be more'n _undred, and by that time I wouldn't be more'n half through."
By this time the flickering lamp gave a decided hint to the boys that unles_hey made haste they would have to undress in the dark. They accordingly dre_ff their clothes, and Dick jumped into bed. But Fosdick, before doing so, knelt down by the side of the bed, and said a short prayer.
"What's that for?" asked Dick, curiously.
"I was saying my prayers," said Fosdick, as he rose from his knees.
"Don't you ever do it?"
"No," said Dick. "Nobody ever taught me."
"Then I'll teach you. Shall I?"
"I don't know," said Dick, dubiously. "What's the good?"
Fosdick explained as well as he could, and perhaps his simple explanation wa_etter adapted to Dick's comprehension than one from an older person woul_ave been. Dick felt more free to ask questions, and the example of his ne_riend, for whom he was beginning to feel a warm attachment, had considerabl_ffect upon him. When, therefore, Fosdick asked again if he should teach him _rayer, Dick consented, and his young bedfellow did so. Dick was not naturall_rreligious. If he had lived without a knowledge of God and of religiou_hings, it was scarcely to be wondered at in a lad who, from an early age, ha_een thrown upon his own exertions for the means of living, with no one t_are for him or give him good advice. But he was so far good that he coul_ppreciate goodness in others, and this it was that had drawn him to Frank i_he first place, and now to Henry Fosdick. He did not, therefore, attempt t_idicule his companion, as some boys better brought up might have done, bu_as willing to follow his example in what something told him was right. Ou_oung hero had taken an important step toward securing that genuin_espectability which he was ambitious to attain.
Weary with the day's work, and Dick perhaps still more fatigued by the unusua_ental effort he had made, the boys soon sank into a deep and peacefu_lumber, from which they did not awaken till six o'clock the next morning.
Before going out Dick sought Mrs. Mooney, and spoke to her on the subject o_aking Fosdick as a room-mate. He found that she had no objection, provided h_ould allow her twenty-five cents a week extra, in consideration of the extr_rouble which his companion might be expected to make. To this Dick assented, and the arrangement was definitely concluded.
This over, the two boys went out and took stations near each other. Dick ha_ore of a business turn than Henry, and less shrinking from publicity, so tha_is earnings were greater. But he had undertaken to pay the entire expenses o_he room, and needed to earn more. Sometimes, when two customers presente_hemselves at the same time, he was able to direct one to his friend. So a_he end of the week both boys found themselves with surplus earnings. Dick ha_he satisfaction of adding two dollars and a half to his deposits in th_avings Bank, and Fosdick commenced an account by depositing seventy-fiv_ents.
On Sunday morning Dick bethought himself of his promise to Mr. Greyson to com_o the church on Fifth Avenue. To tell the truth, Dick recalled it with som_egret. He had never been inside a church since he could remember, and he wa_ot much attracted by the invitation he had received. But Henry, finding hi_avering, urged him to go, and offered to go with him. Dick gladly accepte_he offer, feeling that he required someone to lend him countenance under suc_nusual circumstances.
Dick dressed himself with scrupulous care, giving his shoes a "shine" s_rilliant that it did him great credit in a professional point of view, an_ndeavored to clean his hands thoroughly; but, in spite of all he could do, they were not so white as if his business had been of a different character.
Having fully completed his preparations, he descended into the street, and, with Henry by his side, crossed over to Broadway.
The boys pursued their way up Broadway, which on Sunday presents a strikin_ontrast in its quietness to the noise and confusion of ordinary week-days, a_ar as Union Square, then turned down Fourteenth Street, which brought them t_ifth Avenue.
"Suppose we dine at Delmonico's," said Fosdick, looking towards that famou_estaurant.
"I'd have to sell some of my Erie shares," said Dick.
A short walk now brought them to the church of which mention has already bee_ade. They stood outside, a little abashed, watching the fashionably attire_eople who were entering, and were feeling a little undecided as to whethe_hey had better enter also, when Dick felt a light touch upon his shoulder.
Turning round, he met the smiling glance of Mr. Greyson.
"So, my young friend, you have kept your promise," he said. "And whom have yo_rought with you?"
"A friend of mine," said Dick. "His name is Henry Fosdick."
"I am glad you have brought him. Now follow me, and I will give you seats."