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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSlow And Sure: The Story Of Paul Hoffman The Young Street-merchant - Chapter 1. Six Months After
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Slow And Sure: The Story Of Paul Hoffman The Young Street-merchant - Chapter 1. Six Months After Post by :Donbaba Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2735

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Slow And Sure: The Story Of Paul Hoffman The Young Street-merchant - Chapter 1. Six Months After

CHAPTER I. SIX MONTHS AFTER

"It's most time for Paul to come home," said Mrs. Hoffman. "I must be setting the table for supper."

"I wonder how he will like my new picture," said Jimmy, a delicate boy of eight, whose refined features, thoughtful look, and high brow showed that his mind by no means shared the weakness of his body. Though only eight years of age he already manifested a remarkable taste and talent for drawing, in which he had acquired surprising skill, considering that he had never taken lessons, but had learned all he knew from copying such pictures as fell in his way.

"Let me see your picture, Jimmy," said Mrs. Hoffman. "Have you finished it?"

She came up and looked over his shoulder. He had been engaged in copying a humorous picture from the last page of _Harper's Weekly. It was an ambitious attempt on the part of so young a pupil, but he had succeeded remarkably well, reproducing with close fidelity the grotesque expressions of the figures introduced in the picture.

"That is excellent, Jimmy," said his mother in warm commendation.

The little boy looked gratified.

"Do you think I will be an artist some day?" he asked.

"I have no doubt of it," said his mother, "if you can only obtain suitable instruction. However, there is plenty of time for that. You are only seven years old."

"I shall be eight to-morrow," said Jimmy, straightening up his slender form with the pride which every boy feels in advancing age.

"So you will. I had forgotten it."

"I wonder whether I can earn as much money as Paul when I get as old," said Jimmy thoughtfully. "I don't think I can. I shan't be half as strong."

"It isn't always the strongest who earn the most money," said his mother.

"But Paul is smart as well as strong."

"So are you smart. You can read unusually well for a boy of your age, and in drawing I think Paul is hardly your equal, though he is twice as old."

Jimmy laughed.

"That's true, mother," he said. "Paul tried to draw a horse the other day, and it looked more like a cow."

"You see then that we all have our different gifts. Paul has a talent for business."

"I think he'll be rich some day, mother."

"I hope he will, for I think he will make a good use of his money."

While Mrs. Hoffman was speaking she had been setting the table for supper. The meal was not a luxurious one, but there was no lack of food. Beside rolls and butter, there was a plate of cold meat, an apple pie, and a pot of steaming hot tea. The cloth was scrupulously clean, and I am sure that though the room was an humble one not one of my readers need have felt a repugnance to sitting down at Mrs. Hoffman's plain table.

For the benefit of such as may not have read "Paul the Peddler," I will explain briefly that Mrs. Hoffman, by the death of her husband two years previous, had been reduced to poverty, which compelled her to move into a tenement house and live as best she could on the earnings of her oldest son, Paul, supplemented by the pittance she obtained for sewing. Paul, a smart, enterprising boy, after trying most of the street occupations, had become a young street merchant. By a lucky chance he had obtained capital enough to buy out a necktie stand below the Astor House, where his tact and energy had enabled him to achieve a success, the details of which we will presently give. Besides his own profits, he was able to employ his mother in making neckties at a compensation considerably greater than she could have obtained from the Broadway shops for which she had hitherto worked.

Scarcely was supper placed on the table when Paul entered. He was a stout, manly boy of fifteen, who would readily have been taken for a year or two older, with a frank, handsome face, and an air of confidence and self-reliance, which he had acquired through his independent efforts to gain a livelihood. He had been thrown upon his own resources at an age when most boys have everything done for them, and though this had been a disadvantage so far as his education was concerned, it had developed in him a confidence in himself and his own ability to cope with the world not usually found in boys of his age.

"Well, mother," said he briskly, "I am glad supper is ready, for I am as hungry as a wolf."

"I think there will be enough for you," said his mother, smiling. "If not, we will send to the baker's for an extra supply."

"Is a wolf hungry, Paul?" asked Jimmy, soberly accepting Paul's simile.

"I'll draw you one after supper, Jimmy, and you can judge," answered Paul.

"Your animals all look like cows, Paul," said his little brother.

"I see you are jealous of me," said Paul, with much indignation, "because I draw better than you."

"After supper you can look at my last picture," said Jimmy. "It is copied from _Harper's Weekly."

"Pass it along now, Jimmy. I don't think it will spoil my appetite."

Jimmy handed it to his brother with a look of pardonable pride.

"Excellent, Jimmy. I couldn't do it better myself," said Paul. "You are a little genius."

"I like drawing so much, Paul. I hope some time I can do something else besides copy."

"No doubt you will. I am sure you will be a famous artist some day, and make no end of money by your pictures."

"That's what I would like--to make money."

"Fie, Jimmy! I had no idea you were so fond of money."

"I would like to help mother just as you are doing, Paul. Do you think I will ever earn as much as you do?"

"A great deal more, I hope, Jimmy. Not but what I am doing well," added Paul in a tone of satisfaction. "Did you know, mother, it is six months to-day since I bought out the necktie stand?"

"Is it, Paul?" asked his mother with interest. "Have you succeeded as well as you anticipated?"

"Better, mother. It was a good idea putting in a case of knives. They help along my profits. Why, I sold four knives to-day, making on an average twenty-five cents each."

"Did you? That is indeed worth while."

"It is more than I used to average for a whole day's earnings before I went into this business."

"How many neckties did you sell, Paul?" asked Jimmy.

"I sold fourteen."

"How much profit did you make on each?"

"About fourteen cents. Can you tell how much that makes?"

"I could cipher it out on my slate."

"No matter; I'll tell you. It makes a dollar and ninety-six cents. That added to the money I made on the knives amounts to two dollars and ninety-six cents."

"Almost three dollars."

"Yes; sometimes I sell more neckties, but then I don't always sell as many knives. However, I am satisfied."

"I have made two dozen neckties to-day, Paul," said his mother.

"I am afraid you did too much, mother."

"Oh, no. There isn't much work about a necktie."

"Then I owe you a dollar and twenty cents, mother."

"I don't think you ought to pay me five cents apiece, Paul."

"That's fair enough, mother. If I get fourteen cents for selling a tie, certainly you ought to get five cents for making one."

"But your money goes to support us, Paul."

"And where does yours go, mother?"

"A part of it has gone for a new dress, Paul. I went up to Stewart's to-day and bought a dress pattern. I will show it to you after supper."

"That's right, mother. You don't buy enough new dresses. Considering that you are the mother of a successful merchant, you ought to dash out. Doesn't Jimmy want some clothes?"

"I am going to buy him a new suit to-morrow. He is eight years old to-morrow."

"Is he? What an old fellow you are getting to be, Jimmy! How many gray hairs have you got?"

"I haven't counted," said Jimmy, laughing.

"I tell you what, mother, we must celebrate Jimmy's birthday. He is the only artist in the family, and we must treat him with proper consideration. I'll tell you what, Jimmy, I'll close up my business at twelve o'clock, and give all my clerks a half-holiday. Then I'll take you and mother to Barnum's Museum, where you can see all the curiosities, and the play besides. How would you like that?"

"Ever so much, Paul," said the little boy, his eyes brightening at the prospect. "There's a giant there, isn't there? How tall is he?"

"Somewhere about eighteen feet, I believe."

"Now you are making fun, Paul."

"Well, it's either eighteen or eight, one or the other. Then there's a dwarf, two feet high, or is it inches?"

"Of course it's feet. He couldn't be so little as two inches."

"Well, Jimmy, I dare say you're right. Then it's settled that we go to the museum tomorrow. You must go with us, mother."

"Oh, yes, I will go," said Mrs. Hoffman, "and I presume I shall enjoy it nearly as much as Jimmy."

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CHAPTER II. BARNUM'S MUSEUMBarnum's Museum now lives only in the past. Its successor, known as Wood's Museum, is situated at the corner of Twenty-ninth street and Broadway. But at the time of my story the old Barnum's stood below the Astor House, on the site now occupied by those magnificent structures, the _Herald building and the Park Bank. Hither flowed daily and nightly a crowd of visitors who certainly got the worth of their money, only twenty-five cents, in the numberless varied curiosities which the unequaled showman had gathered from all quarters of the world. Jimmy had often seen the handbills
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"SLOW AND SURE" is a volume of the stories of New York street life inaugurated by Ragged Dick. While it chronicles the advancement of Paul, the young street merchant, from the sidewalk to the shop, a large portion of it is devoted to the experiences of a street waif, who has been brought up by burglars, and passed the greater part of his time among them, without being wholly spoiled by his corrupt surroundings. His struggles between gratitude and duty on the one hand, and loyalty to his vicious guardians on the other, will, it is hoped, excite the interest and
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