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The Store Boy   By: (1832-1899)

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Author of "Brave and Bold," "Bound to Rise," "Risen from the Ranks," "Erie Train Boy", "Paul the Peddler,", "Phil, the Fiddler,", "Young Acrobat," Etc.


"Give me a ride?"

Ben Barclay checked the horse he was driving and looked attentively at the speaker. He was a stout built, dark complexioned man, with a beard of a week's growth, wearing an old and dirty suit, which would have reduced any tailor to despair if taken to him for cleaning and repairs. A loose hat, with a torn crown, surmounted a singularly ill favored visage.

"A tramp, and a hard looking one!" said Ben to himself.

He hesitated about answering, being naturally reluctant to have such a traveling companion.

"Well, what do you say?" demanded the tramp rather impatiently. "There's plenty of room on that seat, and I'm dead tired."

"Where are you going?" asked Ben.

"Same way you are to Pentonville."

"You can ride," said Ben, in a tone by means cordial, and he halted his horse till his unsavory companion climbed into the wagon.

They were two miles from Pentonville, and Ben had a prospect of a longer ride than he desired under the circumstances. His companion pulled out a dirty clay pipe from his pocket, and filled it with tobacco, and then explored another pocket for a match. A muttered oath showed that he failed to find one.

"Got a match, boy?" he asked.

"No," answered Ben, glad to have escaped the offensive fumes of the pipe.

"Just my luck!" growled the tramp, putting back the pipe with a look of disappointment. "If you had a match now, I wouldn't mind letting you have a whiff or two.

"I don't smoke," answered Ben, hardly able to repress a look of disgust.

"So you're a good boy, eh? One of the Sunday school kids that want to be an angel, hey? Pah!" and the tramp exhibited the disgust which the idea gave him.

"Yes, I go to Sunday school," said Ben coldly, feeling more and more repelled by his companion.

"I never went to Sunday school," said his companion. "And I wouldn't. It's only good for milksops and hypocrites."

"Do you think you're any better for not going?" Ben couldn't help asking.

"I haven't been so prosperous, if that's what you mean. I'm a straightforward man, I am. You always know where to find me. There ain't no piety about me. What are you laughin' at?"

"No offense," said Ben. "I believe every word you say."

"You'd better. I don't allow no man to doubt my word, nor no boy, either. Have you got a quarter about you?"


"Nor a dime? A dime'll do."

"I have no money to spare."

"I'd pay yer to morrer."

"You'll have to borrow elsewhere; I am working in a store for a very smell salary, and that I pay over to my mother."

"Whose store?"

"Simon Crawford's; but you won't know any better for my telling you that, unless you are acquainted in Pentonville"

"I've been through there. Crawford keeps the grocery store."


"What's your name?"

"Ben Barclay," answered our hero, feeling rather annoyed at what he considered intrusive curiosity.

"Barclay?" replied the tramp quickly. "Not John Barclay's son?"

It was Ben's turn to be surprised. He was the son of John Barclay, deceased, but how could his ill favored traveling companion know that?

"Did you know my father?" asked the boy, astonished.

"I've heerd his name," answered the tramp, in an evasive tone.

"What is your name?" asked Ben, feeling that be had a right to be as curious as his companion.

"I haven't got any visitin' cards with me," answered the tramp dryly.

"Nor I; but I told you my name."

"All right; I'll tell you mine. You can call me Jack Frost."

"I gave you my real name," said Ben significantly.

"I've almost forgotten what my real name is," said the tramp. "If you don't like Jack Frost, you can call me George Washington."

Ben laughed.

"I don't think that name would suit, he said. George Washington never told a lie."

"What d'ye mean by that?" demanded the tramp, his brow darkening... Continue reading book >>

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