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- A District Messenger Boy and a Necktie Party - 1/12 -


A DISTRICT MESSENGER BOY AND A NECKTIE PARTY

BY

JAMES OTIS

AUTHOR OF "TOBY TYLER," "TEDDY AND CARROTS," "JENNY WREN'S BOARDING-HOUSE," "THE BOY CAPTAIN," "LITTLE JOE," ETC., ETC.

CONTENTS.

A DISTRICT MESSENGER BOY.

I. UNWILLING PASSENGERS II. HOME AGAIN

DAN HARDY'S CRIPPY

A NECKTIE PARTY. I. SI'S SCHEME II. AGGIE'S SCHEME III. TOM'S SCHEME

A DISTRICT MESSENGER BOY.

CHAPTER I. UNWILLING PASSENGERS.

"What is your name, boy?"

"Joe Curtis, sir."

"And your number? "

" Two hundred and ninety-seven."

" Very well, now listen to what I say, and see that you do exactly as I tell you. I am going to Providence by the Sound steamer that sails in an hour and a half; take these tickets, go to the office of the boat, get the key of the stateroom I have engaged and paid for, and put these satchels in it."

"Yes, sir."

"Then wait near the gangway of the steamer until I come, for I shall probably be late, as I have to take a sick friend with me. Be sure to have the room ready, so that I can have him carried directly from the carriage to his berth."

" I will wait for you, sir."

" What are the rates?"

"For an hour and a half, ninety cents, sir, and car fare extra if you want me to get there in a hurry."

" Very well, here is a dollar, and see that you do exactly as I have told you."

Joe touched his cap, took the two valises that the gentleman pointed out to him in one corner of the office, and, staggering under the heavy weight, started for the nearest elevated railroad station. Joe was scarcely large enough to carry the valises; but, when he succeeded in getting a situation in the messenger service, he knew that he would have plenty of hard work to do, and was fully prepared for it. .Besides, this acting the part of porter was by no means so difficult a job as some that had been assigned to him in the past six weeks, and he went about it as philosophically as if he had been a man, instead of a boy only twelve years old.

Arrived at the dock, he had no trouble in getting the stateroom key, since he had the proper tickets, and, after caring for the baggage, it was only necessary to wait near the gang-plank until his employer should appear.

It was by no means hard work for Joe to wait for the gentleman; in the bustle and confusion everywhere around him he found plenty to occupy his mind, and, forgetting how hard he had. struggled to get the baggage down there, he thought he had been particularly fortunate in being assigned to the work.

The moments went by so fast that, when the last bell sounded, and Joe heard the cry of "All ashore that's going," he could hardly believe it possible that he had been on the boat more than an hour, waiting for the gentleman and his sick friend.

" He's got to come pretty soon, or else his stateroom won't do him much good," Joe said to himself as he stood close by the gang-plank with the key in his hand, ready to deliver it without delay.

But although carriage after carriage was driven up just in time for its occupants to get on the boat, Joe's employer did not come, and the boy began to understand that, unless he made some decided move at once, he would be carried away.

"He told me to look out for the baggage until he came; but I don't s'pose he meant for me to go to Providence if he didn't come."

The sailors were pulling the gang-plank ashore, and Joe saw that his time was indeed limited. Since he had been ordered to care for the baggage until the gentleman came, he had no idea of leaving it on the steamer, neither did he propose to make a trip to Providence.

"I'll get the things out of the room, an' then wait on the pier," he said to himself as he ran up to the saloon where the stateroom was located.

There were a large number of passengers on the boat, and, despite all Joe's efforts, he could not get through the crowd quickly. He struggled and pushed, even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of those gentlemen who were in his way, until he reached the stateroom. To get the valises out after he was once there was but the work of a few moments, and then he had another difficult task to reach the main deck.

When he did get there, breathless and excited, he saw that his efforts had been in vain, for the steamer had already left the dock, and was so far out in the stream that; unless he had been Mr. Giant-Stride of fairy-tale fame, he could not have leaped ashore.

" Well, this is nice!" exclaimed Joe, as he stood with a valise in each hand, looking at the dock, on which he fancied he could see the man who had been the cause of his involuntary voyage. "Now, what'll I do?"

He stood looking about him in doubt and perplexity, uncertain whether to go to the captain of the boat, and demand that he be landed at once, or to explain the situation to some of the passengers, in the vain hope that they might be able to aid him, when he heard the sound of sobs close 'beside him.

" Hello! did you get carried away, too?" he asked, as he saw a boy, not more than eight or nine years old, crying bitterly. "Come here, sonny, an' tell me. what the matter is, for it looks as' if you an' I were in the same scrape:"

"They're takin' me away from mamma an' papa, an' I'll just jump overboard," was sonny's answer.

"Oh, don't get like that," said Joe, soothingly,as he placed the valises carefully in one corner, and took the child by the hand to reassure him. "They ar'n't to blame, 'cause they told everybody to go on shore' that wanted to, an' we didn't go."

" I couldn't," sobbed the boy, "he held me, an' when I cried he struck me in the face."

"Who did?"

"The man that made me come here with him. Mamma let me go out in the street to play if I wouldn't go away from the block; but that man came up an' asked me if I did not want a real live pony, an' I did, an' I went with him to get it"

"An' you forgot what you promised your mother," said Joe, sagely.

" Yes, 'cause he said it was only a little ways off; but when we'd walked two blocks, I wanted to go home, 'and he told me he'd cut my throat wide open if I said anything; and then we come here."

"Why, he's up an' stole you, that's what he's done," said Joe, as, with his hands deep in his pockets, he stood contemplating the boy, whose trouble was so much greater than his.

"Oh, dear!" wailed the child, as he hid his head in the corner, and gave way to his grief. "I'm goin' right straight home, an' I won't stay here."

Joe was touched by the boy's distress; he forgot his own troubles, which .were light as compared to the little fellow's, and did his best to comfort him.


A District Messenger Boy and a Necktie Party - 1/12

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