With nervous fingers he recommenced the count, fearing that he had met with a loss. He was half through his task, when a knock was heard at the door. The old man started in agitation, and glanced apprehensively at the door. Flanagan, to herself. It's taken me a long time to get it, and it isn't quite a hundred dollars. If I had seventy-five cents more" — he had by this time found the missing quarter — "it would make just a hundred. If Tom wouldn't mind, I could get it easily by begging. I might have it by to-morrow. I wonder if he would care much," muttered the old man, as he put back the coins carefully into the tin box.
He'll never know it. By this time he had locked the box and replaced it beneath the flooring, restoring the plank to its original place. If I go up on Broadway, Tom won't see me.
He ought not to mind my begging. I am too weak to work, and it's the only way I can get money. He lay down on the bed, and, after his exertion, small as it was, the rest was grateful to him. But the thought haunted him continually that he needed but seventy-five cents to make up his hoard to a hundred dollars, and the eager desire prompted him to forsake his rest and go out into the streets. I will get back before Tom comes home. He took an old battered hat from a nail on which it hung, and with feeble step left the room, grasping the banister to steady his steps as he descended the stairs.
Tom'll be mad if he knows ye have gone out. He's only six, but he's a smart lad. I won't be gone long. Flanagan saw that he was obstinate, and she did not press the point. But after he had got down stairs she called Mike, and said:.
I'll give you a penny to buy candy when you get back. Mike was easily persuaded, for he had the weakness for candy common to boys of his age, of whatever grade, and he proceeded to follow his mother's directions. When Jacob got to the foot of the lowest staircase he felt more fatigued than he expected, but his resolution remained firm. He must have the seventy-five cents before night. To-morrow he could rest. Let him but increase his hoard to a hundred dollars, and he would be content. It was not without a painful effort that he dragged himself as far as Broadway, though the distance was scarcely quarter of a mile.
Little Mike followed him, partly because his mother directed him to do it, partly because, young as he was, he was curious to learn where Jacob was going, and what he was going to do. His curiosity was soon gratified. He saw the old man remove his battered hat, and hold it out in mute appeal to the passers-by. This he put into his pocket, thinking that he would be more likely to inspire compassion, and obtain fresh contributions, if only the ten cents were visible.
He did not get another contribution as large. Still, more than one passer-by, attracted by his wretched look, dropped something into his hat, till the sum he desired was made up. He had secured the seventy-five cents necessary to make up the hundred dollars; but his craving was not satisfied. He thought he would stay half an hour longer, and secure a little more. He was tired, but it would not take long, and he could rest long enough afterward.
An unlucky impulse led him to cross the street to the opposite side, which he fancied would be more favorable to his purpose. I say unlucky, for he was struck down, when half way across, by some stage horses, and trampled under foot. Mike explained that he had only a grandson, and the physician thereupon directed that he be carried to Bellevue Hospital, while Mike ran home to bear the important news to his mother.
Tom, of course, knew nothing of Jacob's accident. He fancied him safe at home, and was only concerned to make enough money to pay the necessary expenses of both. He felt little anxiety on this score, as he was of an enterprising disposition, and usually got his fair share of business. He stationed himself near the Astor House, and kept an eye on the boots of all who passed, promptly offering his services where they appeared needed.
Of course, there were long intervals between his customers, but in the course of two hours he had made fifty cents, which he regarded as doing fairly. Finally a gentleman, rather tall and portly, descended the steps of the Astor House, and bent his steps in Tom's direction. The gentleman looked down upon the face of the boy, and a sudden expression swept over his own, as if he were surprised or startled. His boots were tolerably clean; but, after a moment's hesitation, he said:.
Tom was instantly on his knees, first spreading a piece of carpet, about a foot square, to kneel upon, and set to work with energy. Bread and meat don't grow on trees. In his surprise he looked up into his customer's face, and for the first time took notice of it. This was what he saw: a square face, with a heavy lower jaw, grizzled whiskers, and cold, gray eyes.
But there was something besides that served to distinguish it from other faces — a scar, of an inch in length, on his right cheek, which, though years old, always looked red under excitement. Is it possible that this boy can be — ". This was rather philosophical to be addressed to a New York bootblack; but Tom was smart enough to comprehend it. He knows nothing, and need know nothing.
I am safe enough, since between us there is a great gulf of ignorance, and more than a thousand miles of space. The stranger put in his hand a half dollar, and Tom, plunging his hand in his pocket, prepared to give change. Tom shouldered his box, and walked a few steps down Broadway.
It was some time before another customer appeared, and meanwhile another bootblack came up. The name of the newcomer was Pat Walsh.
Tom, the Bootblack book. Read 4 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the origin. Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg.
He enjoyed a bad reputation among his comrades — as one who would take a mean advantage, if he dared, and was at all times ready to bully a smaller boy. He had long cherished an ill feeling toward Tom, because the latter had interfered, on one occasion, to protect a smaller boy whom Pat tried to cheat out of a job. As Tom's prowess was well known, Pat had contented himself hitherto with uttering threats which he hesitated to carry into execution.
It was shrewdly suspected by his companions that he was afraid to contend with Tom, and they had taunted him with it. Finding his authority diminishing, Pat decided to force a quarrel upon Tom at the first opportunity. He had no great appetite for the fight, but felt it to be a disagreeable necessity. Just as he came up a gentleman approached with a valise in his hand.
His boots were decidedly dirty, and he was hailed as a prize by the bootblacks. There was no appeal from this decision, and Pat rose to his feet, his face wearing a very ugly scowl. He remained standing near, while Tom was engaged with his job, watching him with an aspect which betokened mischief. He threw down his box and sprang at Tom. The latter also quickly rid himself of the incumbrance, and the two were soon wrestling at close quarters.
Pat, by his impetuous onset, came near upsetting his adversary; but, by an effort, Tom saved himself. Then commenced a determined contest. Both boys were unusually strong for their ages, and were, in fact, very evenly matched. But at length Tom, by an adroit movement of the foot, tripped his opponent, and came down on top of him. He did not hold him down, for he was fond of fair play, but rose immediately. But our hero kept cool, while Pat was excited, and this placed him at an advantage. So the second contest terminated like the first.
Cheers from a crowd of boys greeted this second victory — cheers to which Pat listened with mortification and rage. Jacob has written a confession explaining all the details. What will he find?
The American boy's book of sports and games : a respository of in-and-out-door amusements for boys and youth. The Young Bank Messenger. Strive and Succeed. Slightest suggestion only of dust-dulling to the spine bands and panel edges. Old Password.
Can he succeed? Horatio Alger, Jr.
The son of a Unitarian minister, Alger also became a Unitarian minister in Brewster, MA, but soon retired from the ministry and moved to New York City where he formed an association with the Newsboys Lodging House and other agencies offering aid to impoverished children. Alger's empathy with the young working men, coupled with the moral values he learned at home, formed the basis for his stories. He is noted as a significant figure in the history of American cultural and social ideals, even though his novels are rarely read these days. Tom the bootblack is a good role-model of honesty, hard work, and persistence.
There are a couple of references to dancing, but the evils of alcoholic drink are strongly emphasized. At the end of Tom, the Bootblack, Alger apparently included a couple of short stories, one about Davie Cameron, a poor Scottish peasant who finds a buried treasure, and the other about a young boy named Lloyd who tries to save a schooner during a storm by building a fire on the beach. Faith in God is stressed in both. Apr 05, Patrick rated it really liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.