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Chapter 5 Chatham Street and Broadway

  • 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."
  • "Is it?"
  • "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?"
  • "Yes."
  • "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.