A DISTRICT MESSENGER BOY AND A NECKTIE PARTY
A DISTRICT MESSENGER BOY AND A NECKTIE PARTY
AUTHOR OF "TOBY TYLER" "TEDDY AND CARROTS"
"JENNY WREN'S BOARDING-HOUSE" "THE BOY CAPTAIN" "LITTLE
JOE" ETC. ETC.
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.
"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."
"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
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
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
"Oh don't get like that" said Joe soothinglyas 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."
"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.
"Now see' here-what's your name though?"
" Well Ned you couldn't get home now so you'd better stop crying
an' we'll see if we can't fix it in some way. Where's the man?"
" He went down-stairs when the boat started an' he told me he'd beat
me black an' blue if I spoke to anybody while he was gone."
"An' prob'ly he would" said Joe. "If he dared to reg'larly steal you
he'd dare to do
anything else; but I'll get away before he comes up an' I'll go an'
tell the captain of the boat. Then t rather think the man will wish
he'd never'd said anything about a pony for he'll be arrested."
" No no don't! " cried Ned "he'd be sure to kill me if you should do
that an' then what good would it do me? "
"But you hain't goin' to let him carry you off be you?"
"Oh I don't know" said Ned and he began to cry piteously again
while Joe tried to soothe him by wiping away the big tears with the
cuff of his jacket.
"I think you'd better let me tell the captain" he said.
"I can't 'cause he knows another man on the boat an' one of them
would be sure to kill me. Why won't you let me just go with you?"
"I would if I knew where I was goin'; but you see I'm most as bad off
as you are;" and
then Joe told him of his misfortune in having become an involuntary
passenger concluding his story by saying "An' I've got a mother
that'll feel just as bad as yours will; it will be worse for "her too
'cause she says now that father's dead I'm all that she's got an'
every cent I make I carry home to her 'cause she has to work hard to
get money to pay the rent."
Joe could understand very readily by Ned's clothing that their homes
were widely different.Had it not been for his uniform the messenger
boy would have worn a very shabby suit of clothes while Ned was not
only dressed expensively but he wore what was to Joe the very height
of extravagance - a gold ring.
"Even if you don't know where you're goin' take me with you" said
Ned. "If you'd help
me I'd try to get away from that man - there he comes now; don't 'let
him whip me.".
"I'll go off so's he won't know we've been talkin' an' just as soon
as he leaves again I'll
come back" said he.
He had just time enough to dart behind a pile of baggage before the
man came up and he
needed but one glance to convince him that Ned had good cause for fear.
The man's face
was so brutal looking that even he began to think perhaps it might not
be advisable to appeal to the captain of the steamer lest the story
should not be believed and he be called to an account for interfering.
The valises were still where he had left them and marching boldly
out but feeling quite the reverse of what he tried to assume he took
the baggage not heeding the pleading look Ned gave him and went to
the stateroom where he remained some time trying to make up his mind
what he could do to aid the boy who had appealed to him. He did not for
a moment entertain the idea of leaving him with that man. Suddenly
what seemed to be a very brilliant idea came to him and he walked
down-stairs on to the main deck again leaving the door of the
The man was seated by Ned's side smoking and Joe went from one place
to another keeping the couple in sight all the while until he saw him
walk away with a companion who spoke to him and looked quite as
detestable as he.
Joe made sure that the two had gone into the lower cabin and running
quickly to where Ned sat he said "Come up-stairs with me as fast as
you can an' I'll show you what to do." Then taking the little fellow
by the hand he hurried to the upper deck not looking around and
hardly daring to breathe until they were in the stateroom with the
door securely fastened and the blind of the window closed.
" There!" he exclaimed triumphantly in a whisper "I guess this fixes
Mr. Man an' when
he tries to find you he'll think that stealin' boys hain't so easy as
he thought it was."
"But he'll come up here to get me" said Ned hoping that there was an
opportunity for him to escape yet frightened at the step he had taken.
" He may come up-stairs; but how can he find you? See here Ned I've
got two tickets for the passage in my pocket an' the room's been paid
for by the man I told you about. Now we can keep in here till the boat
stops and then I guess we can give him the slip; but I hain't thought
yet how we either of us can get home."
"But s'posen he comes right up here to the door?"
"He w6n't do that. Can't you see Ned that he don '.t know anything
more about this room
than he does of any other? We're all right for awhile anyhow; but I
guess we'll be pretty
hungry 'cause we can't get anything to eat."
" I don't care 'bout that if he don't get hold of me again" said Ned
growing bright and happy as he realized his temporary safety.
The boys examined the tickets Joe had looked curiously at the snug
little cabin wondered what the man would say or do when he could not
find Ned and finally the first novelty of the situation having
passed away they talked of their homes.
It was the most unwise thing they could have done so far as peace of
mind was concerned for at the thoughts of their mothers waiting and
watching for them both broke down. Ned lay down in the berth without a
thought of hiding his grief; but Joe who considered it his duty in
his position of protector to the younger boy to appear unconcerned
was obliged to stand by the window in order to cry without being seen
heard and he wiped his eyes with the curtain until his cheeks were
stained blue and green
from the dye of the fabric in a sorrowfully ridiculous fashion.
However it happened neither of the boys quite understood but despite
their deep sorrow they both fell asleep shortly after Joe lay down by
the side of Ned to comfort him and did not awaken until morning. The
sun was streaming in through the slats of the blinds the throbbing of
the engine was stilled and everything betokened the end of the voyage.
Neither of the boys had undressed for they had anticipated a long
dreary evening during which they would be very hungry and Joe had
fully intended to walk around the boat for the purpose r of learning
what Ned's enemy was doing. They had not laid any plans arid in this
Joe felt that they had been culpable since now that they were at
liberty to go on shore neither had an idea of what course to pursue.
"While you are washing your face I will go out and see if that man is
around anywhere" said Joe finally "an' I'll lock the door and take
the key with me so's there won't be any chance of his gettin' in while
Ned did not much like being left alone but he made no objections
since he could readily see that it was of the highest importance that
they should learn if the man and his companion were watching for them.
Joe went into every portion of the boat in which passengers are
allowed; but without seeing either Ned's captor or his companion. Had
he been on deck when the steamer arrived at Newport he would have
seen the two men land there after searching vainly for the boy they
had stolen much as if they feared they might be called to an account
for what they had done. Of this of course Joe knew nothing; and when
he failed to see either of the men he naturally feared they were
waiting on shore in the hope of catching Ned as he landed.
It was but seven o'clock and as a number of the passengers were yet on
board the stewards had paid no attention to the stateroom the boys
occupied; otherwise an explanation might have been made which would
have prevented both the young passengers' much trouble.
"It's morning Ned an' I s'pose we're in Providence" said Joe as he
came back to the stateroom where the child was waiting in fear and
trembling the result of his trip on deck. "I can't see anything of the
men an' perhaps if we go on shore now they won't catch us. We've got
to 'take these valises for the man told me to watch 'em an' that
means that I've got to keep right side of 'em."
Ned manfully took hold of one side of the heaviest piece of baggage
and with anxious
hearts the two left the room. At the gangway the children were stopped
by the man whose duty it was to collect the tickets. He looked at the
small boys with the large valises
curiously; but as Joe gave him the two pieces of pasteboard that
entitled them to first cabin passages the officer could do no less
than allow them to land.
Even though they were supposed to be in Providence they were some
distance from the
city as they learned when they were off the pier and Joe said:
"Now Ned I'm sorry to make you do it but we've got to walk fast if
we don't want those men to catch us" and that was sufficient to induce
the boy to do his best.
But no matter how frightened a boy may be he cannot walk very far on a
hot morning without breakfast more especially if he has had no supper
the night previous; and some time before they were near the city both
Ned and Joe were obliged to rest.
As' a matter of course they had seen nothing of the men and with the
feeling of freedom came the question which should have been settled the
night before - that of where they should go.
"I declare I don't know what we will do" said Joe in answer to Ned
and then he chewed a piece of straw vigorously as if by that means he
hoped to be aided in arriving at some satisfactory conclusion. " You
see the trouble is that we've got all this baggage to lug 'round when
it's about as much as we can do to get along ourselves."
"Why don't you leave the things somewhere? You never can find the man
that owns 'em even if you carry them all the way back to New York"
said little Ned sensibly.
" That's so bub" said Joe "but all the same you see he told me to
take care of them an' I've got to do it or else they'll blame me at
Just then an express wagon passed which suggested to Joe a very simple
way of disposing of his burden.
"I'll tell you what we can do" he said as he started to his feet
quickly while his face lighted up with pleasure at the idea. " We'll
walk along until we come to an express office an' then we'll just send
the valises on to where I work. I know we can do that for last week
somebody sent two trunks there an' the manager had to pay the bill for
Unfortunately it never occurred to Joe that it also would be possible
to get money sufficient to pay for the passage .home by telegraphing to
the manager of the office.
"We've got a dollar" he said as they trudged along the valises
seemingly growing heavier each moment "and jest as soon as we get rid
of these we'll get something to eat."
At the express office the clerk took the baggage and gave Joe a receipt
for it without un-
necessary conversation. If he had not been so busy he might have asked
some questions and thus the boys would have been advised as to the
proper course to pursue; but as it was they walked out little
thinking how much they might have learned and rejoicing that they were
freed from a heavy burden.
After they had made a very satisfactory breakfast on a pie; which Joe
bought for the small sum of ten cents in consideration of the fact
that it was not as fresh as a first-class pie should be they walked in
the direction of the wharves as a first step towards learning how they
should get home.
It surely seemed as if they had been singularly fortunate in taking
this step for they had gone hardly more than a block when they met a
boy about ten years old who appeared to know all about it. It was not
a difficult matter to make his acquaintance for he met their advances
considerably more than half-way and in a. few moments the three were
comfortably seated on some barrels near the pier discussing the
A DISTRICT MESSENGER BOY.