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A PLUCKY BOY.
The boy marched straight up to the counter. “Well, my little man,” said the merchant pleasantly—he had just risen from such a good dinner — "what will you have to-day?”
“Oh, please, sir, may I do some work for you?”
It might have been the pleasant blue eyes that did it, for the man was not accustomed to talk with such small gentlemen. Tommy wasn't seven yet, and small for his age at that.
There were a few locks of hair along the edges of the merchant's temples, and, looking down on the appealing face, the man pulled at them. When he had done stroking them, he gave the ends of his cravat a brush, and then his hands traveled down to his vest pocket.
“Do some work for me, eh? Well, now, about what kind of work do you think you are able to do? Why, you can't look over the counter!”
“Oh, yes, I can, and I'm growing, please — growing fast. There! see if I can't look over the counter.”
“Yes, by standing on your toes. Are they coppered ?” “What, sir?”
“Why, your toes. Your mother could not keep you in shoes if they were not.'
“She can't keep me in shoes anyhow, sir,” and the voice hesitated.
The man took pains to look over the counter. It was too much for him: he couldn't see the little toes. Then he went all the way around.
“I thought I should need a microscope,” he said, very gravely; "but I reckon if I get close enough I can see what you look like.”
“I'm older than I'm big, sir,” was the neat reply. “Folks say I am very small for my age.”
“What might your age be, sir?” asked the man.
“I am almost seven," said Tommy, with a look calculated to impress even six feet nine.
“You see, my mother hasn't anybody but me, and this morning I saw her crying because she could not find five cents in her pocket-book, and she thinks the boy who took the ashes stole it. And I have not had any — any breakfast, sir.” The voice again hesitated, and tears came to the blue eyes.
“I reckon I can help you to a breakfast, my little fellow,” said the man, feeling in his vest pocket. “There, will that quarter do ?”
The boy shook his head.
“Mother wouldn't let me beg, sir,” was the simple answer.
“Humph! Where is your father?”
“We never heard of him, sir, after he went away. He was lost, sir, in the steamer City of Boston.”
“Ah, that's bad. But you are a plucky little fellow, anyhow. Let me see;” and he puckered up his mouth and looked straight down into the boy's eyes, which were looking straight into his.
“Saunders,” he asked, addressing a clerk who was rolling up and writing on parcels, “is Cash Number Four still sick ?"
“Dead, sir; died last night,” was the low reply. .
“Ah, I'm sorry to hear that. Well, here's a youngster that can take his place.”
Mr. Saunders looked up slowly, put his pen behind his ear and glanced curiously from Tommy. to Mr. Towers.
“Oh, I understand,” said the latter. “Yes, he is small, very small indeed, but I like his pluck. What did Number Four get?”
“Three dollars, sir,” said the still astonished clerk.
“Put this boy down for four dollars. — There! Youngster, give him your name, and run home and tell your mother hat you have a place at four dollars a week. Come back on Monday, and I'll tell you what to do. Here's a dollar in advance; I'll take it out of your first week. Can you remember?”
“Work, sir — work all the time ?”.
Tommy shot out of that shop. If ever broken stairs that had a twist through the whole flight creaked and trembled under the weight of a small boy — or perhaps, as might be better stated, laughed and chuckled on account of a small boy's good luck - those in that tenementhouse enjoyed themselves thoroughly that morning, as Tommy ran up to his mother's room.
“I've got it, mother! I'm took! I'm a cash-boy! Don't you know when they take parcels the clerks call 'Cash'? Well, I'm that. Four dollars a week! And the man said I had real pluck --- courage, you know. And
here's a dollar for breakfast. And don't you ever cry again, for I'm the man of the house now.”
The house was only a little ten-by-fifteen room, but how those blue eyes did magnify it! At first the mother looked astonished; then she looked — Well, it passes my power to tell how she did look as she took her little manly boy in her arms, and hugged and kissed him; the tears, meanwhile, were streaming down her cheeks. But they were the tears of thankfulness.
THE MANLIEST MAN.
GEORGE W. BUNGAY.
Puts forth his hand to help another.
Which makes the man a man and brother
His words are warm upon his lips,
He is a friend and loyal neighbor.
He earns his bread with honest labor.
He lifts the fallen from the ground,
Of dreaming Jacob's starry ladder,
Which stingeth like the angry adder.
He strikes oppression to the dust,
He shrinks not from the post of danger.
Though cradled in humble manger.
Hail to the manly man! he comes
Though grand as any duke, and grander;
He's greater than great Alexander.
Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
--- Shakespeare. Henry VI. Part II.