Ragged Dick, or, Street Life in New York. Chapter 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
About nine o’clock Dick sought his new lodgings. In his hands he carried his professional wardrobe, namely, the clothes which he had worn at the commencement of the day, and the implements of his business. These he stowed away in the bureau drawers, and by the light of a flickering candle took off his clothes and went to bed. Dick had a good digestion and a reasonably good conscience; consequently he was a good sleeper. Perhaps, too, the soft feather bed conduced to slumber. At any rate his eyes were soon closed, and he did not awake until half-past six the next morning.
He lifted himself on his elbow, and stared around him in transient bewilderment.
“Blest if I hadn’t forgot where I was,” he said to himself. “So this is my room, is it? Well, it seems kind of ‘spectable to have a room and a bed to sleep in. I’d orter be able to afford seventy-five cents a week. I’ve throwed away more money than that in one evenin’. There ain’t no reason why I shouldn’t live ‘spectable. I wish I knowed as much as Frank. He’s a tip-top feller. Nobody ever cared enough for me before to give me good advice. It was kicks, and cuffs, and swearin’ at me all the time. I’d like to show him I can do something.”
While Dick was indulging in these reflections, he had risen from bed, and, finding an accession to the furniture of his room, in the shape of an ancient wash-stand bearing a cracked bowl and broken pitcher, indulged himself in the rather unusual ceremony of a good wash. On the whole, Dick preferred to be clean, but it was not always easy to gratify his desire. Lodging in the street as he had been accustomed to do, he had had no opportunity to perform his toilet in the customary manner. Even now he found himself unable to arrange his dishevelled locks, having neither comb nor brush. He determined to purchase a comb, at least, as soon as possible, and a brush too, if he could get one cheap. Meanwhile he combed his hair with his fingers as well as he could, though the result was not quite so satisfactory as it might have been.
A question now came up for consideration. For the first time in his life Dick possessed two suits of clothes. Should he put on the clothes Frank had given him, or resume his old rags?
Now, twenty-four hours before, at the time Dick was introduced to the reader’s notice, no one could have been less fastidious as to his clothing than he. Indeed, he had rather a contempt for good clothes, or at least he thought so. But now, as he surveyed the ragged and dirty coat and the patched pants, Dick felt ashamed of them. He was unwilling to appear in the streets with them. Yet, if he went to work in his new suit, he was in danger of spoiling it, and he might not have it in his power to purchase a new one. Economy dictated a return to the old garments. Dick tried them on, and surveyed himself in the cracked glass; but the reflection did not please him.
“They don’t look ‘spectable,” he decided; and, forthwith taking them off again, he put on the new suit of the day before.
“I must try to earn a little more,” he thought, “to pay for my room, and to buy some new clo’es when these is wore out.”
He opened the door of his chamber, and went downstairs and into the street, carrying his blacking-box with him.
It was Dick’s custom to commence his business before breakfast; generally it must be owned, because he began the day penniless, and must earn his meal before he ate it. To-day it was different. He had four dollars left in his pocket-book; but this he had previously determined not to touch. In fact he had formed the ambitious design of starting an account at a savings’ bank, in order to have something to fall back upon in case of sickness or any other emergency, or at any rate as a reserve fund to expend in clothing or other necessary articles when he required them. Hitherto he had been content to live on from day to day without a penny ahead; but the new vision of respectability which now floated before Dick’s mind, owing to his recent acquaintance with Frank, was beginning to exercise a powerful effect upon him.