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- Richard Dare's Venture - 6/35 -
The news of the departure had spread, and at the depot the boy met several who had come to see him off--Mr. Cook and two or three boy friends, including Charley Wood, the son of a neighbor, who was not slow in giving the lion's share of his attention to Grace.
"Here comes the train!" exclaimed Nancy, after a rather long wait, and a moment later, with ringing bell, the locomotive rounded the curve below, and the cars rolled into the depot.
"All aboard for Rockvale, Beverly, and New York! Way train for Hurley, Allendale, Hobb's Dam, and all stations south of Bakersville Junction!" shouted the conductor. "Lively, please."
There was a hurried hand-shaking, and several warm kisses.
"Good-by, Richard," said Mrs. Dare. "God be with you!" And then she added in a whisper: "Don't be afraid to come home as soon as you don't like it any more."
"I'll remember, mother," he replied. "Don't worry about me. It's all right. Good-by, each and everybody!"
Valise in hand, he climbed up the steps and entered one of the cars. He had hardly time to reach a window seat, and wave a parting adieu, when the train moved off.
He looked back as long as he could. Mother and sister were waving their handkerchiefs, Grace having brought her largest for this special occasion.
But the train went swiftly on its way, and soon Mossvale and its people were left behind.
"Off at last!" was Richard's mental comment. "It's sink or swim now. Good-by to Mossvale and the old life!"
Yet it must in truth be confessed that there was just the suspicion of a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat as he settled back in his seat, but he hastily brushed away the one and swallowed the other, and put on as bold a front as he could.
The car was only partially filled, and he had a double seat all to himself. He placed his valise beside him, and then gazed at the ever-varying panorama that rushed past.
But his mind was not given to the scenes that were thus presenting themselves. His thoughts were far ahead, speculating upon what it would be best to do when his destination was reached.
He knew New York was a big place, and felt tolerably certain that few, if indeed any, would care to give him the information that he knew he needed.
Presently the train began to stop at various stations, and the car commenced to fill up.
"This seat taken?" said a gentleman, as he stopped beside Richard.
"No, sir," replied the boy, and made room for the other.
"Thank you," returned the gentleman. "Rather crowded," he continued, as he sat down, and deposited a huge valise beside Richard's, which had been placed upon the floor.
"I might have checked my satchel," remarked Richard, noting that the two valises rather crowded things.
"So might I," was the new-comer's reply, "but I thought it would be too much trouble in New York getting it."
"I'm not used to travelling," explained Richard, "and so I thought it best to have my baggage where I could lay my hands on it."
The gentleman looked at him curiously.
"Going to the city?" he asked.
"You'll see a good many strange sights. Going to stay several days, I presume."
"Longer than that, sir. I'm going there to try my luck."
The gentleman looked surprised.
"I hope you'll succeed," he said. "You will find it rather uphill work, I'm afraid. Where are you from, if I may ask?"
"I come from Mossvale. My name is Richard Dare. My father died from an accident a short while ago, and, as there didn't seem to be anything in our village for me to work at, I made up my mind to try New York."
The boy's open manner evidently pleased his listener.
"I am glad to know you," he returned. "My name is Joyce--Timothy Joyce. I am a leather dealer--down in the Swamp. Here is my card."
"The Swamp?" queried Richard, puzzled by the appellation.
"Yes--at least that's what us oldtime folks call it. There used to be a swamp there years ago. I'm on Jacob Street. Maybe I can help you around a bit."
"Thank you, Mr. Joyce; I'm glad to know you," replied Richard gratefully. "I'm a perfect stranger, as I said, and it will be right handy to have some one to give me a few points."
Mr. Joyce smiled. He was quite taken by the boy's frank manner.
"I'll give you all the points I can," he said. "You must keep your eyes and ears open, though, for there are many pitfalls for the unwary."
Mr. Joyce felt in his coat pocket. "Here is a map of the city. I am going out in the smoker presently, to enjoy a cigar. I would advise you to study it while I am gone, and when I come back I'll explain anything that you can't understand."
"Thank you, I will."
"Just look to my bag while I am gone, will you?" continued Mr. Joyce, as he arose. When alone, Richard became absorbed in the map at once.
On and on sped the train, now running faster than ever. But Richard took no notice. He was deep in the little volume, trying his best to memorize the names of the streets and their locations.
"It's not a very regular city," he sighed. "Streets run in all directions, and some of them are as crooked as a ram's horn. If I ever--"
A sudden jar at this instant caused Richard to pitch forward from his seat. Then, before he realized what had happened, the car tilted, and then turned completely over on its side.
Richard was bewildered and alarmed by what had happened. As the car went over upon the side nearest to which he was sitting, he fell down between the windows, with his head resting upon the bundle-holder, that a moment before had been over him.
His own valise and that belonging to Mr. Joyce came down on top of him, and as both were heavy, they knocked the breath completely out of him.
As soon as the boy had somewhat regained this and his scattered senses, he scrambled to his feet, and tried to look around him.
Daylight shone into the car from the windows above, but all was dust and confusion, mingled with the cries of women and the loud exclamations of men.
Luckily Richard was not far from the rear door, and having somewhat recovered from the shock, he resolved to get out as speedily as possible.
The car had now stopped moving, and as there seemed to be no immediate danger of anything more happening, the boy stopped to get the two valises.
With such a load it was no easy matter climbing over the seats to the door. Yet the feat was accomplished, and two minutes later, with an exclamation of relief, Richard pitched his baggage to the bank beside the track, and sprang to the solid ground.
His foot had been slightly sprained when the shock came, but in the excitement he hardly noticed the pain. He could readily see that assistance was needed on all sides, and he was not slow to render all that lay in his power.
The cause of the accident could be seen at a glance. A heavy freight train had backed down from a side track, smashing the locomotive attached to the passenger cars, and throwing three of the latter off the track.
One of the cars--the first--had been turned completely over, and to this every one was hurrying.
"It's the smoking car," replied a man, to Richard's eager question. "It's full of men, too."
Setting down the two valises within easy reach, the boy hurried forward.
"Mr. Joyce is in there," was his thought. "Oh, I hope he isn't hurt!"
Though Richard had known the man but a short hour, yet the city merchant's cordial manner had completely captivated the boy.
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