They were soon in Chatham Street, walking between rows of ready-made clothin_hops, many of which had half their stock in trade exposed on the sidewalk.
The proprietors of these establishments stood at the doors, watchin_ttentively the passersby, extending urgent invitations to any who eve_lanced at the goods to enter.
"Walk in, young gentlemen," said a stout man, at the entrance of one shop.
"No, I thank you," replied Dick, "as the fly said to the spider."
"We're selling off at less than cost."
"Of course you be. That's where you makes your money," said Dick. "There ain_obody of any enterprise that pretends to make any profit on his goods."
The Chatham Street trader looked after our hero as if he didn't quit_omprehend him; but Dick, without waiting for a reply, passed on with hi_ompanion.
In some of the shops auctions seemed to be going on.
"I am only offered two dollars, gentlemen, for this elegant pair of doeski_ants, made of the very best of cloth. It's a frightful sacrifice. Who'll giv_n eighth? Thank you, sir. Only seventeen shillings! Why the cloth cost mor_y the yard!"
This speaker was standing on a little platform haranguing to three men, holding in his hand meanwhile a pair of pants very loose in the legs, an_resenting a cheap Bowery look.
Frank and Dick paused before the shop door, and finally saw them knocked dow_o rather a verdant-looking individual at three dollars.
"Clothes seem to be pretty cheap here," said Frank.
"Yes, but Baxter Street is the cheapest place."
"Yes. Johnny Nolan got a whole rig-out there last week, for a dollar,—coat, cap, vest, pants, and shoes. They was very good measure, too, like my bes_lothes that I took off to oblige you."
"I shall know where to come for clothes next time," said Frank, laughing. "_ad no idea the city was so much cheaper than the country. I suppose th_axter Street tailors are fashionable?"
"In course they are. Me and Horace Greeley always go there for clothes. Whe_orace gets a new suit, I always have one made just like it; but I can't g_he white hat. It aint becomin' to my style of beauty."
A little farther on a man was standing out on the sidewalk, distributing smal_rinted handbills. One was handed to Frank, which he read as follows,—
"GRAND CLOSING-OUT SALE!—A variety of Beautiful and Costly Articles for Sale, at a Dollar apiece. Unparalleled Inducements!
Walk in, Gentlemen!"
"Whereabouts is this sale?" asked Frank.
"In here, young gentlemen," said a black-whiskered individual, who appeare_uddenly on the scene. "Walk in."
"Shall we go in, Dick?"
"It's a swindlin' shop," said Dick, in a low voice. "I've been there. Tha_an's a regular cheat. He's seen me before, but he don't know me coz of m_lothes."
"Step in and see the articles," said the man, persuasively. "You needn't buy, you know."
"Are all the articles worth more'n a dollar?" asked Dick.
"Yes," said the other, "and some worth a great deal more."
"Such as what?"
"Well, there's a silver pitcher worth twenty dollars."
"And you sell it for a dollar. That's very kind of you," said Dick, innocently.
"Walk in, and you'll understand it."
"No, I guess not," said Dick. "My servants is so dishonest that I wouldn'_ike to trust 'em with a silver pitcher. Come along, Frank. I hope you'l_ucceed in your charitable enterprise of supplyin' the public with silve_itchers at nineteen dollars less than they are worth."
"How does he manage, Dick?" asked Frank, as they went on.
"All his articles are numbered, and he makes you pay a dollar, and then shake_ome dice, and whatever the figgers come to, is the number of the article yo_raw. Most of 'em aint worth sixpence."
A hat and cap store being close at hand, Dick and Frank went in. For seventy- five cents, which Frank insisted on paying, Dick succeeded in getting quite _eat-looking cap, which corresponded much better with his appearance than th_ne he had on. The last, not being considered worth keeping, Dick dropped o_he sidewalk, from which, on looking back, he saw it picked up by a brothe_oot-black who appeared to consider it better than his own.
They retraced their steps and went up Chambers Street to Broadway. At th_orner of Broadway and Chambers Street is a large white marble warehouse, which attracted Frank's attention.
"What building is that?" he asked, with interest.
"That belongs to my friend A. T. Stewart," said Dick. "It's the biggest stor_n Broadway.* If I ever retire from boot-blackin', and go into mercantil_ursuits, I may buy him out, or build another store that'll take the shine of_his one."
* Mr. Stewart's Tenth Street store was not open at the time Dick spoke.
"Were you ever in the store?" asked Frank.
"No," said Dick; "but I'm intimate with one of Stewart's partners.
He is a cash boy, and does nothing but take money all day."
"A very agreeable employment," said Frank, laughing.
"Yes," said Dick, "I'd like to be in it."
The boys crossed to the West side of Broadway, and walked slowly up th_treet. To Frank it was a very interesting spectacle. Accustomed to the quie_f the country, there was something fascinating in the crowds of peopl_hronging the sidewalks, and the great variety of vehicles constantly passin_nd repassing in the street. Then again the shop-windows with thei_ultifarious contents interested and amused him, and he was constantl_hecking Dick to look in at some well-stocked window.
"I don't see how so many shopkeepers can find people enough to buy of them,"
he said. "We haven't got but two stores in our village, and Broadway seems t_e full of them."
"Yes," said Dick; "and its pretty much the same in the avenoos, 'specially th_hird, Sixth, and Eighth avenoos. The Bowery, too, is a great place fo_hoppin'. There everybody sells cheaper'n anybody else, and nobody pretends t_ake no profit on their goods."
"Where's Barnum's Museum?" asked Frank.
"Oh, that's down nearly opposite the Astor House," said Dick.
"Didn't you see a great building with lots of flags?"
"Well, that's Barnum's.* That's where the Happy Family live, and the lions, and bears, and curiosities generally. It's a tip-top place. Haven't you eve_een there? It's most as good as the Old Bowery, only the plays isn't quite s_xcitin'."
* Since destroyed by fire, and rebuilt farther up Broadway, and again burned down in February.
"I'll go if I get time," said Frank. "There is a boy at home who came to Ne_ork a month ago, and went to Barnum's, and has been talking about it eve_ince, so I suppose it must be worth seeing."
"They've got a great play at the Old Bowery now," pursued Dick. "'Tis calle_he 'Demon of the Danube.' The Demon falls in love with a young woman, an_rags her by the hair up to the top of a steep rock where his castle stands."
"That's a queer way of showing his love," said Frank, laughing.
"She didn't want to go with him, you know, but was in love with another chap.
When he heard about his girl bein' carried off, he felt awful, and swore a_ath not to rest till he had got her free. Well, at last he got into th_astle by some underground passage, and he and the Demon had a fight. Oh, i_as bully seein' 'em roll round on the stage, cuttin' and slashin' at eac_ther."
"And which got the best of it?"
"At first the Demon seemed to be ahead, but at last the young Baron got hi_own, and struck a dagger into his heart, sayin', 'Die, false and perjure_illain! The dogs shall feast upon thy carcass!' and then the Demon give a_wful howl and died. Then the Baron seized his body, and threw it over th_recipice."
"It seems to me the actor who plays the Demon ought to get extra pay, if h_as to be treated that way."
"That's so," said Dick; "but I guess he's used to it. It seems to agree wit_is constitution."
"What building is that?" asked Frank, pointing to a structure several rod_ack from the street, with a large yard in front. It was an unusual sight fo_roadway, all the other buildings in that neighborhood being even with th_treet.
"That is the New York Hospital," said Dick. "They're a rich institution, an_ake care of sick people on very reasonable terms."
"Did you ever go in there?"
"Yes," said Dick; "there was a friend of mine, Johnny Mullen, he was _ewsboy, got run over by a omnibus as he was crossin' Broadway down near Par_lace. He was carried to the Hospital, and me and some of his friends paid hi_oard while he was there. It was only three dollars a week, which was ver_heap, considerin' all the care they took of him. I got leave to come and se_im while he was here. Everything looked so nice and comfortable, that _hought a little of coaxin' a omnibus driver to run over me, so I might g_here too."
"Did your friend have to have his leg cut off?" asked Frank, interested.
"No," said Dick; "though there was a young student there that was very anxiou_o have it cut off; but it wasn't done, and Johnny is around the streets a_ell as ever."
While this conversation was going on they reached No. 365, at the corner o_ranklin Street.*
* Now the office of the Merchants' Union Express Company.
"That's Taylor's Saloon," said Dick. "When I come into a fortun' I shall tak_y meals there reg'lar."
"I have heard of it very often," said Frank. "It is said to be very elegant.
Suppose we go in and take an ice-cream. It will give us a chance to see it t_etter advantage."
"Thank you," said Dick; "I think that's the most agreeable way of seein' th_lace myself."
The boys entered, and found themselves in a spacious and elegant saloon, resplendent with gilding, and adorned on all sides by costly mirrors. They sa_own to a small table with a marble top, and Frank gave the order.
"It reminds me of Aladdin's palace," said Frank, looking about him.
"Does it?" said Dick; "he must have had plenty of money."
"He had an old lamp, which he had only to rub, when the Slave of the Lamp would appear, and do whatever he wanted."
"That must have been a valooable lamp. I'd be willin' to give all my Erie shares for it."
There was a tall, gaunt individual at the next table, who apparently hear_his last remark of Dick's. Turning towards our hero, he said, "May I inquire, young man, whether you are largely interested in this Erie Railroad?"
"I haven't got no property except what's invested in Erie," said Dick, with a comical side-glance at Frank.
"Indeed! I suppose the investment was made by your guardian."
"No," said Dick; "I manage my property myself."
"And I presume your dividends have not been large?"
"Why, no," said Dick; "you're about right there. They haven't."
"As I supposed. It's poor stock. Now, my young friend, I can recommend a muc_etter investment, which will yield you a large annual income. I am agent o_he Excelsior Copper Mining Company, which possesses one of the mos_roductive mines in the world. It's sure to yield fifty per cent. on th_nvestment. Now, all you have to do is to sell out your Erie shares, an_nvest in our stock, and I'll insure you a fortune in three years. How man_hares did you say you had?"
"I didn't say, that I remember," said Dick. "Your offer is very kind an_bligin', and as soon as I get time I'll see about it."
"I hope you will," said the stranger. "Permit me to give you my card. 'Samue_nap, No. — Wall Street.' I shall be most happy to receive a call from you, and exhibit the maps of our mine. I should be glad to have you mention th_atter also to your friends. I am confident you could do no greater servic_han to induce them to embark in our enterprise."
"Very good," said Dick.
Here the stranger left the table, and walked up to the desk to settle hi_ill.
"You see what it is to be a man of fortun', Frank," said Dick, "and wear goo_lothes. I wonder what that chap'll say when he sees me blackin' boots to- morrow in the street?"
"Perhaps you earn your money more honorably than he does, after all," sai_rank. "Some of these mining companies are nothing but swindles, got up t_heat people out of their money."
"He's welcome to all he gets out of me," said Dick.