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- The Young Explorer - 10/35 -


"Thank you, Miss Sinclair; but you are spending a great deal of money for me."

"I have an object in doing so. Besides, I have no lack of money."

"Shall I go with you to the hotel now?"

"Yes."

"May I speak a moment to the boy who was with me?"

"Certainly."

"May I tell him where I am going?"

"Yes, but ask him to keep it to himself."

"I will, Miss Sinclair," and Ben was about to walk away.

"On the whole, call the boy here," said Miss Sinclair. "Tom!" Tom Cooper answered the summons.

"I am going to California with this lady," said Ben. "She has paid my passage."

"You're in luck!" exclaimed Tom. "Say, miss, you don't want a boy to go along to black your boots, do you?"

Miss Sinclair smiled faintly.

"I think not," she answered.

"Tom," continued Ben, "you won't say a word about my going, will you?"

"Not if you don't want me to. Besides, there ain't nobody to tell."

Miss Sinclair looked relieved. She drew out her pocketbook, and took from it a ten-dollar bill.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Tom Cooper, ma'am."

"Then, Tom, allow me to offer you a small present."

"Is it all for me?" exclaimed Tom, in amazement.

"Yes."

Tom thrust it into his vest pocket, and immediately executed a somersault, rather to Miss Sinclair's alarm.

"Excuse me, ma'am," said Tom, assuming his natural posture; "I couldn't help it, I felt so excited. I never was so rich before."

"May I tell Tom where we are going to stop?" asked Ben.

"Certainly, if he will keep it to himself."

"I shall be at the Astor House, Tom. Come round and see me."

Tom watched the two as they preceded him on their way to Broadway.

"I wonder if I'm dreaming," he said to himself. "If I am, I hope I won't wake up till I've spent this ten dollars. I guess I'll go to the Old Bowery to-night."

CHAPTER IX.

AT THE ASTOR HOUSE.

As they walked up to the hotel together, Miss Sinclair said: "You are probably surprised at what has taken place, but I have strong reasons for acting as I have done."

"I don't doubt it, Miss Sinclair," returned Ben.

"It is desirable that I should tell you-"

"Don't tell me anything unless you like, Miss Sinclair. I am not troubled with curiosity."

"Thank you, but in the confidential relations which we are to hold toward each other, it is necessary that you should understand my position. I will reserve my explanation, however, till we reach the hotel."

"We are to stop at the Astor House?"

"Yes, and I wish you to put down my name and your own on the register, and obtain two rooms as near together as convenient."

"Very well, Miss Sinclair."

"You may put me down as from-well, from Philadelphia."

"All right. Shall I put myself down from Philadelphia, too?"

"Not unless you choose. Your native village will answer. By the way, you are to pass for my cousin, and it will be better, therefore, that you should call me by my first name-Ida."

"I wouldn't take the liberty but for your wishing it."

"I do wish it-otherwise it would be difficult to pass you off as my cousin."

"All right, Miss Sinclair-I mean Ida."

"That is better. I shall call you Ben."

"You couldn't very well call me Mr. Stanton," said our hero, smiling.

"Not very well. But here we are at the hotel. We will go in together. I will go to the ladies' parlor, and you can join me there after securing rooms at the office."

"Very well-Ida."

Of course Ben was not used to city hotels, and he was a little afraid that he should not go to work properly, but he experienced no difficulty. He stepped up to the desk, and said to the clerk:

"I should like to engage rooms for my cousin and myself."

The clerk pushed the register toward him.

Ben inscribed the names. At first he could not remember his companion's last name, and it made him feel awkward. Fortunately it came to him in time.

"We can give you rooms on the third floor. Will that do?"

"Yes, sir, I think so. We would like to be near together."

"Very well. I can give you two rooms directly opposite to each other."

"That will do, sir."

The clerk touched a bell, and a porter presented himself:

"Here are the keys of sixty-six and sixty-eight," said the hotel clerk. "Take this young gentleman's luggage to sixty-six, and show the lady with him to number sixty-eight."

Ben followed the porter, pausing at the door of the ladies' parlor, where his companion awaited him.

"Come, Ida," he said, feeling a little awkward at addressing Miss Sinclair so familiarly. "The servant is ready to show us our rooms."

"Very well, Ben," said Miss Sinclair, smiling. She did not seem so nervous now.

As the clerk had said, the rooms were directly opposite each other. They were large and very comfortable in appearance. As Miss Sinclair entered her room she said:

"Join me in the ladies' parlor in fifteen minutes, Ben. I have something to say to you."

Ben looked around him with considerable satisfaction. He had only left home that morning; he had met with a severe disappointment, and yet he was now fortunate beyond his most sanguine hopes. He had heard a great deal of the Astor House, which in Hampton and throughout the country was regarded at that time as the most aristocratic hotel in New York, and now he was actually a guest in it. Moreover, he was booked for a first-class passage to California.

"It's like the Arabian Nights," thought Ben, "and Miss Sinclair must be a fairy."

He took out his scanty wardrobe from the carpetbag, and put it away in one of the drawers of the bureau.

"I might just as well enjoy all the privileges of the hotel," he said to himself.

He took out his brush and comb, and brushed his hair. Then he locked the door of No. 66 and went down-stairs to the ladies' parlor.

He did not have to wait long. In five minutes Miss Sinclair made her appearance.

"Ben," she said, "here is the check for my trunk. You may take it down to the office and ask them to send for it. Then come back and I will acquaint you with some things I wish you to know."


The Young Explorer - 10/35

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