Dan, the Newsboy - Horatio Alger - ebook

Dan, the Newsboy ebook

Horatio Alger



Tom Carver twirled his delicate cane and walked on complacently, feeling no pity for the schoolfellow with whom he used to be so intimate. He was intensely selfish - a more exceptional thing with boys than men. It sometimes happens that a boy who passes for good-hearted changes into a selfish man; but Tom required no change to become that. His heart was a very small one, and beat only for himself...

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Horatio Alger


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“EVENING TELEGRAM! ONLY ONE LEFT. Going for two cents, and worth double the money. Buy one, sir?”

Attracted by the business-like tone of the newsboy, a gentleman paused as he was ascending the steps of the Astor House, and said, with a smile:

“You seem to appreciate the Telegram, my boy. Any important news this afternoon?”

“Buy the paper, and you’ll see,” said the boy, shrewdly.

“I see—you don’t care to part with the news for nothing. Well, here are your two cents.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Still the gentleman lingered, his eyes fixed upon the keen, pleasant face of the boy.

“How many papers have you sold to-day, my boy?” he asked.

“Thirty-six, sir.”

“Were they all Telegrams?”

“No; I sell all the papers. I ain’t partial. I’m just as willing to make money on the Mail, or Commercial, or Evening Post, as the Telegram.”

“I see you have an eye to business. How long have you dealt in papers?”

“Three years, sir.”

“How old are you?”


“What did you do before you sold papers?”

A shadow rested on the boy’s bright face.

“I didn’t have to work then, sir,” he said. “My father was alive, and he was well off. We lived in a nice house up town, and I went to a private school. But all at once father failed, and soon afterward he died, and then everything was changed. I don’t like to think about it, sir.”

The gentleman’s interest was strongly excited.

“It is a sad story,” he said. “Is your mother living?”

“Yes, sir. The worst of it is, that I don’t make enough to support us both, and she has to work, too.”

“What does she do?”

“She makes vests for a man on Chatham street.”

“I hope she is well paid.”

“That she is not. He only allows her twenty cents apiece.”

“That is a mere pittance. She can’t earn much at that rate.”

“No, sir; she has to work hard to make one vest a day.”

“The man can’t have a conscience,” said the gentleman, indignantly. “It is starvation wages.”

“So it is, sir, but he pretends that he pays more than the work is worth. Oh, he’s a mean fellow,” pursued the boy, his face expressive of the scorn and disgust which he felt.

“What is your name, my boy?”

“Dan, sir—Dan Mordaunt.”

“I hope, Dan, you make more money than your mother does.”

“Oh, yes, sir. Sometimes I make a dollar a day, but I don’t average that. I wish I could make enough so that mother wouldn’t have to work.”

“I see you are a good son. I like to hear you speak in such terms of your mother.”

“If I didn’t,” said Dan, impetuously, “I should deserve to be kicked. She’s a good mother, sir.”

“I have no doubt of it. It must be hard for her to be so reduced after once living liberally. How happened it that your father failed?”

The boy’s pleasant face assumed a stern expression.

“On account of a rascal, sir. His book-keeper ran off, carrying with him thirty thousand dollars. Father couldn’t meet his bills, and so he failed. It broke his heart, and he didn’t live six months after it.”

“Have you ever heard of this book-keeper since?”

“No, sir, not a word. I wish I could. I should like to see him dragged to prison, for he killed my father, and made my mother work for a living.”

“I can’t blame you, Dan, for feeling as you do. Besides, it has altered your prospects.”

“I don’t care for myself, sir. I can forget that. But I can’t forgive the injury he has done my poor father and mother.”

“Have you any idea what became of the defaulter?”

“We think that he went to Europe, just at first, but probably he returned when he thought all was safe.”

“He may have gone out West.”

“I shouldn’t wonder, sir.”

“I live in the West myself—in Chicago.”

“That’s a lively city, isn’t it, sir?”

“We think so out there. Well, my lad, I must go into the hotel now.”

“Excuse me for detaining you, sir,” said Dan, politely.

“You haven’t detained me; you have interested me. I hope to see you again.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Where do you generally stand?”

“Just here, sir. A good many people pass here, and I find it a good stand.”

“Then I shall see you again, as I propose to remain in New York for a day or two. Shall you have the morning papers?”

“Yes, sir; all of them.”

“Then I will patronize you to-morrow morning. Good-day.”

“Good-day, sir.”

“He’s a gentleman,” said Dan to himself, emphatically. “It isn’t every one that feels an interest in a poor newsboy. Well, I may as well be going home. It’s lonely for mother staying by herself all day. Let me see; what shall I take her? Oh, here are some pears. She’s very fond of pears.”

Dan inquired the price of pears at a street stand, and finally selected one for three cents.

“Better take two for five cents,” said the fruit merchant.

“I can’t afford it,” said Dan. “Times are hard, and I have to look after the pennies. I wouldn’t buy any at all if it wasn’t for my mother.”

“Better take another for yourself,” urged the huckster.

Dan shook his head.

“Can’t afford it,” he said. “I must get along without the luxuries. Bread and butter is good enough for me.”

Looking up, Dan met the glance of a boy who was passing—a tall, slender, supercilious-looking boy, who turned his head away scornfully as he met Dan’s glance.

“I know him,” said Dan to himself. “I ought to know Tom Carver. We used to sit together at school. But that was when father was rich. He won’t notice me now. Well, I don’t want him to,” proceeded Dan, coloring indignantly. “He thinks himself above me, but he needn’t. His father failed, too, but he went on living just the same. People say he cheated his creditors. My poor father gave up all he had, and sank into poverty.”

This was what passed through Dan’s mind. The other boy—Tom Carver—had recognized Dan, but did not choose to show it.

“I wonder whether Dan Mordaunt expected me to notice him,” he said to himself. “I used to go to school with him, but now that he is a low newsboy I can’t stoop to speak to him. What would my fashionable friends say?”

Tom Carver twirled his delicate cane and walked on complacently, feeling no pity for the schoolfellow with whom he used to be so intimate. He was intensely selfish—a more exceptional thing with boys than men. It sometimes happens that a boy who passes for good-hearted changes into a selfish man; but Tom required no change to become that. His heart was a very small one, and beat only for himself.

Dan walked on, and finally paused before a large tenement-house. He went in at the main entrance, and ascended two flights of stairs. He opened a door, and found himself in the presence of the mother whom he so dearly loved.



WHILE DAN WAS STRONG, STURDY, and the picture of health, his mother was evidently an invalid. She was pale, thin, and of delicate appearance. She was sitting in a cane-seated rocking-chair, which Dan had bought second-hand on one of his flush days at a small place on the Bowery. She looked up with a glad smile when Dan entered.

“I am so glad to see you, my dear boy,” she said.

“Have you been lonely, mother?” asked Dan, kissing her affectionately.

“Yes, Dan, it is lonely sitting here hour after hour without you, but I have my work to think of.”

“I wish you didn’t have to work, mother,” said Dan. “You are not strong enough. I ought to earn enough to support us both.”

“Don’t trouble yourself about that, my dear boy. I should feel more lonely if I had nothing to do.”

“But you work all the time. I don’t like to have you do that.”

In truth the mother was very tired, and her feeble fingers were cramped with the stitch, stitch, stitch in endless repetition, but she put on a cheerful countenance.

“Well, Dan, I’ll stop now that you are at home. You want some supper.”

“Let me get it, mother.”

“No, Dan, it will be a relief to me to stir around a little, as I have been sitting so long.”

“Oh, I nearly forgot, mother—here’s a nice pear I bought for you.”

“It does look nice,” said Mrs. Mordaunt. “I don’t feel hungry, but I can eat that. But where is yours, Dan?”

“Oh, I’ve eaten mine,” answered Dan, hastily.

It was not true, but God will forgive such falsehoods.

“You’d better eat half of this.”

“No; I’ll be——flummuxed if I do,” said Dan, pausing a little for an unobjectionable word.

Mrs. Mordaunt set the little table for two. On it she spread a neat cloth, and laid the plain supper—a plate of bread, ditto of butter, and a few slices of cold meat. Soon the tea was steeped, and mother and son sat down for the evening meal.

“I say, mother, this is a jolly supper,” said Dan. “I get awfully hungry by supper-time.”

“You are a growing boy, Dan. I am glad you have an appetite.”

“But you eat next to nothing, mother,” said Dan, uneasily.

“I am not a growing boy,” said Mrs. Mordaunt, smiling. “I shall relish my supper to-night on account of the pear you brought me.”

“Well, I’m glad I thought of it,” said Dan, heartily. “Pears ain’t solid enough for me; I want something hearty to give me strength.”

“Of course you do, Dan. You have to work hard.”

“I work hard, mother! Why, I have the easiest time going. All I do is to walk about the streets, or stand in front of the Astor House and ask people to buy my papers. Oh, by the way, who do you think I saw to-day?”

“Any of our old friends?” asked Mrs. Mordaunt.

“Any of our old friends! I should say not,” answered Dan, disdainfully. “It was Tom Carver.”

“Was it he? He used to sit next you in school, didn’t he?”

“Yes, for six months. Tom and I were chums.”

“Did he say whether his family was well?”

“What are you thinking of, mother? Do you suppose Tom Carver would notice me, now that I am a poor newsboy?”

“Why shouldn’t he?” demanded the mother, her pale face flushing. “Why shouldn’t he notice my boy?”

“Because he doesn’t choose to,” answered Dan, with a short laugh. “Didn’t you know it was disgraceful to be poor?”

“Thank Heaven, it isn’t that!” ejaculated Mrs. Mordaunt.

“Well, it might as well be. Tom thinks me beneath his notice now. You should have seen him turn his head to the other side as he walked by, twirling his light cane.”

“Did you speak to him, Dan?”

“What do you take me for, mother? Do you think I’d speak to a fellow that doesn’t want to know me?”

“I think you are proud, my boy.”

“Well, mother, I guess you’re right. I’m too proud to force myself upon the notice of Tom Carver, or any other purse-proud sneak.”

Dan spoke with a tinge of bitterness, and it was evident that he felt Tom’s slight more than he was willing to acknowledge.

“It’s the way of the world, Dan,” said his mother, sighing. “Not one of all my friends, or those whom I accounted such, in my prosperous days, has come to see us, or shown any interest in our fate.”

“They can stay away. We can do without them,” said Dan, sturdily.

“We must; but it would be pleasant to see some of the old faces,” said his mother, plaintively. “There is no one in this house that is company for me.”

“No, mother; you are an educated and refined lady, and they are poor and ignorant.”

“They are very good people, some of them. There is Mrs. Burke on the next floor. She was in this afternoon, and asked if she couldn’t do something for me. She thought I looked poorly, she said.”

“She’s a brick, mother!”

“My dear Dan, you do use such extraordinary language sometimes. You didn’t talk so when we lived on Madison avenue.”

“No, mother, but I associate with a different class now. I can’t help catching the phrases I hear all the time. But don’t mind, mother; I mean no harm. I never swear—that is, almost never. I did catch myself at it the other day, when another newsboy stole half a dozen of my papers.”

“Don’t forget that you are a gentleman, Dan.”

“I won’t if I can help it, mother, though I don’t believe anybody else would suspect it. I must take good care not to look into the looking-glass, or I might be under the impression that I was a street-boy instead of a gentleman.”

“Clothes don’t make the gentleman, Dan. I want you to behave and feel like a gentleman, even if your clothes are poor and patched.”

“I understand you, mother, and I shall try to follow your advice. I have never done any mean thing yet that I can remember, and I don’t intend to.”

“I am sure of that, my dear boy.”

“Don’t be too sure of anything, mother. I have plenty of bad examples before me.”

“But you won’t be guided by them?”

“I’ll try not.”

“Did you succeed well in your sales to-day, Dan?”

“Pretty well. I made ninety-six cents.”

“I wish I could earn as much,” said Mrs. Mordaunt, sighing. “I can only earn twenty cents a day.”

“You earn as much as I do, mother, but you don’t get it. You see, there’s a difference in earning and being paid. Old Gripp is a mean skinflint. I should like to force one of his twenty-cent vests down his miserly throat.”

“Don’t use such violent language, Dan. Perhaps he pays me all he can afford.”

“Perhaps he does, but I wouldn’t bet high on it. He is making a fortune out of those who sew for him. There are some men that have no conscience. I hope some time you will be free from him.”

“I hope so, too, Dan, but I am thankful to earn something. I don’t want all the burden of our maintenance to fall on you.”

“Don’t call it a burden, mother. There’s nothing I enjoy so much as working for you. Why, it’s fun!”

“It can’t be fun on rainy, disagreeable days, Dan.”

“It wouldn’t be fun for you, mother, but you’re not a boy.”

“I am so sorry that you can’t keep on with your education, Dan. You were getting on so well at school.”

It was a thought that had often come to Dan, but he wouldn’t own it, for he did not wish to add to his mother’s sadness.

“Oh, well, mother,” he said, “something may turn up for us, so we won’t look down in the mouth.”

“I have got my bundled work ready, Dan, if you can carry it round to Mr. Gripp’s to-night.”

“Yes, mother, I’ll carry it. How many vests are there?”

“There are six. That amounts to a dollar and twenty cents. I hope he’ll pay you to-night, for our rent comes due to-morrow.”

“So it does!” ejaculated Dan, seriously. “I never thought of it. Shall we have enough to pay it? You’ve got my money, you know.”

“We shall be a dollar short.”

“Even if old Gripp pays for the vests?”


Dan whistled—a whistle of dismay and anxiety, for he well knew that the landlord was a hard man.



NATHAN GRIPP’S CLOTHING STORE WAS located about a quarter of a mile from the City Hall, on Chatham street. Not many customers from Fifth avenue owned him as their tailor, and he had no reputation up town. His prices were undeniably low, though his clothes were dear enough in the end.

His patrons were in general from the rural districts, or city residents of easy tastes and limited means.

The interior of the store was ill-lighted, and looked like a dark cavern. But nearly half the stock was displayed at the door, or on the sidewalk, Mr. Gripp himself, or his leading salesman, standing in the door-way with keen, black eyes, trying to select from the moving crowds possible customers.

On the whole Gripp was making money. He sold his clothes cheap, but they cost him little. He paid the lowest prices for work, and whenever told that his wages would not keep body and soul together, he simply remarked:

“That’s nothing to me, my good woman. If you don’t like the pay, leave the work for somebody else.”

But unfortunately those who worked for Mr. Gripp could not afford to leave the work for somebody else. Half wages were better than none, and they patiently kept on wearing out their strength that Nathan might wax rich, and live in good style up town.

Mr. Gripp himself was standing in the door-way when Dan, with the bundle of vests under his arm, stopped in front of the store. Mr. Gripp was a little doubtful whether our hero wished to become a customer, but a glance at the bundle dispelled his uncertainty, and revealed the nature of his errand.

“I’ve brought home half a dozen vests,” said Dan.

“Who from?” asked Gripp, abruptly, for he never lavished any of the suavity, which was a valuable part of his stock in trade, on his work people.

“Mrs. Mordaunt.”

“Take them into the store. Here, Samuel, take the boy’s bundle, and see if the work is well done.”

It was on the tip of Dan’s tongue to resent the doubt which these words implied, but he prudently remained silent.

The clerk, a callow youth, with long tow-colored locks, made sleek with bear’s grease, stopped picking his teeth, and motioned to Dan to come forward.

“Here, young feller,” he said, “hand over your bundle.”

“There it is, young feller!” retorted Dan.

The clerk surveyed the boy with a look of disapproval in his fishy eyes.

“No impudence, young feller!” he said.

“Where’s the impudence?” demanded Dan. “I don’t see it.”

“Didn’t you call me a young feller?”

“You’ve called me one twice, but I ain’t at all particular. I’d just as lief call you an old feller,” said Dan, affably.

“Look here, young chap, I don’t like your manners,” said the clerk, with an irritating consciousness that he was getting the worst of the verbal encounter.

“I’m sorry for that,” answered Dan, “because they’re the best I’ve got.”

“Did you make these vests yourself?” asked the salesman, with a feeble attempt at humor.

“Yes,” was Dan’s unexpected rejoinder. “That’s the way I amuse my leisure hours.”

“Humph!” muttered the tallow-faced young man, “I’ll take a look at them.”

He opened the bundle, and examined the vests with an evident desire to find something wrong.

He couldn’t find any defect, but that didn’t prevent his saying:

“They ain’t over-well made.”

“Well, they won’t be over-well paid,” retorted Dan. “So we’re even.”

“I don’t know if we ought to pay for them at all.”

“Honesty is the best policy, young feller,” said Dan.

“No more of your impudence!” said the clerk, sharply. “Wait here a minute till I speak to Mr. Gripp.”

He kept Dan before the counter, and approached the proprietor.

“Well, what is it, Samuel?” asked Mr. Gripp, stroking his jet-black whiskers. “Are the vests all right?”

“Pretty well, sir, but the boy is impudent.”

“Ha! how is that?”

“He keeps calling me ‘young feller.’”

“Anything more?”

“He don’t seem to have any respect for me—or you,” he added, shrewdly.

Nathan Gripp frowned. He cared very little about his clerk, but he resented any want of respect to himself. He felt that the balance at his bankers was large enough to insure him a high degree of consideration from his work-people at least.

“How many vests are there?” he asked.

“Half a dozen.”

“And the boy wants his pay, I suppose.”

“He hasn’t asked for it, but he will. They always do.”

“Tell him we only pay when a full dozen are finished and brought in. We’ll credit him, or his mother, with these.”

“That’ll pay them off,” thought the astute clothing merchant.

Samuel received this order with inward satisfaction, and went back smiling.

“Well, young feller,” said he, “it’s all right. The vests ain’t over-well done, but we’ll keep ‘em. Now you can go.”

But Dan did not move.

“It seems to me you’ve forgotten something,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“You haven’t paid me for the work.”

“It’s all right. We’ll pay when the next half dozen are brought in. Will you take ‘em now?”

Dan was disagreeably surprised. This was entirely out of the usual course, and he knew very well that the delay would be a great inconvenience.

“We’ve always been paid when we brought in work,” he said.

“We’ve changed our rule,” said the clerk, nonchalantly. “We only pay when a full dozen are brought in.”

“What difference does it make to you? We need the money, and can’t wait.”

“It’s my orders, young feller. It’s what Mr. Gripp just told me.”

“Then I’ll speak to him,” said Dan, promptly.

“Just as you like.”

Dan approached the proprietor of the establishment.

“Mr. Gripp,” said he, “I’ve just brought in half a dozen vests, but your clerk here won’t pay me for them.”

“You will get your pay, young man, when you bring in another half dozen.”

“But, Mr. Gripp, we need the money. We haven’t got a big bank account. Our rent is due to-morrow.”

“Is it, indeed? I don’t see how that concerns me.”

“Will you pay me to-night as a favor?” pleaded Dan, humbling himself for his mother’s sake.

“I can’t break over my rule,” said Nathan Gripp. “Besides, Samuel says the work isn’t very well done.”

“Then he lies!” exclaimed Dan, provoked.

“Do you hear that, Mr. Gripp?” ejaculated the angry Samuel, his tallowy complexion putting on a faint flush. “Didn’t I tell you he was impudent?”

Nathan Gripp’s small black eyes snapped viciously.

“Boy,” said he, “leave my store directly. How dare you address me in such a way, you young tramp?”

“I’m no more a tramp than yourself,” retorted Dan, now thoroughly angry.

“Samuel, come here, and put out this boy!” exclaimed Nathan, too dignified to attempt the task himself.

Samuel advanced, nothing loth, his fishy eyes gleaming with pleasure.

“Get out, you vagabond!” he exclaimed, in the tone of authority.

“You’re a couple of swindlers!” exclaimed Dan. “You won’t pay for honest work.”

“Out with him, Samuel!” ordered Gripp.

Samuel seized Dan by the shoulder, and attempted to obey orders, but our hero doubled him up with a blow from his fist, and the luckless clerk, faint and gasping, staggered and nearly fell.

Dan stepped out on the sidewalk, and raising his hat, said, with mock politeness, “Good-morning, gentlemen!” and walked away, leaving Gripp and his assistant speechless with anger.



WHEN DAN’S EXCITEMENT WAS OVER, he felt that he had won a barren victory. He had certainly been badly treated, and was justified in yielding to his natural indignation; but for all that he had acted unwisely.

Nathan Gripp had not refused payment, he had only postponed it, and as he had the decided advantage, which money always has when pitted against labor, it would have been well to have been conciliatory. Now Gripp would undoubtedly annoy him with further delay, and refuse to give Mrs. Mordaunt any further work.

“I suppose I’ve acted like a fool,” said Dan to himself, with compunction. “My spunk is always getting the better of me, and I am afraid poor mother will have to suffer. Well, there’s no use crying for spilt milk; I must see what I can do to mend matters.”

While these thoughts were passing through Dan’s mind he found himself passing the clothing establishment of Jackson & Co., who were special rivals of Mr. Gripp.

“Perhaps I can get some work for mother here,” thought Dan. “I’ll try, at any rate.”

He entered, and looking about him, attracted the attention of a clerk.

“Do you want something in our line to-day?” asked the clerk, pleasantly.

“Yes, I do,” said Dan, “if you’re giving things away; but as I’ve got a note of ten thousand dollars to meet to-morrow, I can’t pay anything out.”

“Your credit ought to be good,” said the salesman, smiling, “but we don’t trust.”

“All right,” said Dan; “I may as well proceed to business. My mother makes vests for amusement. Can you give her any work?”

“I will speak to Mr. Jackson. One of our hands is sick, and if your mother understands how to do the work, we may be able to give her some.”

The young man went to the rear of the store, and returned with the proprietor.

“Has your mother any experience?” asked the proprietor, a big man, with sandy whiskers.

He was an Englishman, as any one might see, and a decided improvement on Nathan Gripp, whom he cordially hated.

“Yes, sir; she has been making vests for the last two years.”

“For whom has she been working?”

“For Nathan Gripp.”

“Humph! Has Gripp discharged her?”

“No, sir; she has discharged him.”

Mr. Jackson laughed, and nodded to his salesman. He rather enjoyed this allusion to his rival.

“Then she didn’t like Gripp?”

“No, sir. He paid her starvation wages and made her wait for the money. He’s a mean fellow.”

“I don’t admire him much myself,” said the Englishman. “How much now did he pay for vest-making?”

“Twenty cents apiece.”

“We don’t pay much more ourselves. There is so much competition that we have to sell low.”

“Mother would rather make for you at eighteen cents than for Gripp for twenty,” said Dan.

Mr. Jackson was pleased, but he said, by way of drawing out Dan:

“How do you know but I am a mean skinflint, too?”

“You don’t look like one,” said the boy.

Mr. Jackson smiled graciously.

“Joseph,” said he, “have we any vests ready for making?”

“Yes, sir. We have some bundles of half a dozen each.”

“Take this boy’s name and address and give him one. My boy, we will pay your mother twenty-five cents each, but we expect good work.”

“You will be satisfied, sir,” said Dan, confidently, and he left the store in excellent spirits.

“It’s turned out right, after all,” thought he; “but I am afraid we shall miss the money old Gripp owed mother. I don’t know how we are going to pay the rent to-morrow. We shall be over two dollars short unless something turns up.”

Dan carried the bundle of work home, and told his mother what had happened. She was pleased with the increase of pay, but that was in the future. It would be a week before she could collect any pay from Jackson & Co., and the landlord would not wait.

“I wish I could think of some way of raising money,” said Dan, putting his face between his hands and looking thoughtful. “If you only had some jewels, mother, that we could raise money on now, we would be all right.”

“I have nothing but my wedding-ring,” said Mrs. Mordaunt, sadly.

“You must keep that, mother. Don’t part with that unless you are obliged to.”

“I would rather not, Dan, but if there is no other way——”

“There must be another way. I will find another way. Just don’t think of it any more, mother. When does the landlord come?”

“Generally between twelve and one.”

“Then we shall have all the forenoon to forage round in. It’s only two dollars and a half we want. I ought to be able to raise two dollars and a half.”

“That is a great deal of money to us now, Dan.”

“I wonder whether Shorty wouldn’t lend it to me?” said Dan, reflectively.

“Who is Shorty, my son?”

“He is a little hump-backed dwarf that keeps a cigar stand down on Broadway, not far from Trinity Church. He has a good trade, and doesn’t waste his money. Yes, I will ask Shorty.”

“I hope he will be willing to grant your request, Dan.”

“I hope so, too. He’s a good-natured fellow, Shorty is, and he’ll do it, if he can. I’ll see him the first thing to-morrow morning.”