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|Ragged Dick||Horatio Alger|
Dick's Early History
|Page 3 of 4||
Dick shook his head.
"I'm afraid all my wallets will be like this," said Dick, indicating the one he had received from the dropper, "and will be full of papers what aint of no use to anybody except the owner."
"That depends very much on yourself, Dick," said Frank. "Stewart wasn't always rich, you know."
"When he first came to New York as a young man he was a teacher, and teachers are not generally very rich. At last he went into business, starting in a small way, and worked his way up by degrees. But there was one thing he determined in the beginning: that he would be strictly honorable in all his dealings, and never overreach any one for the sake of making money. If there was a chance for him, Dick, there is a chance for you."
"He knowed enough to be a teacher, and I'm awful ignorant," said Dick.
"But you needn't stay so."
"How can I help it?"
"Can't you learn at school?"
"I can't go to school 'cause I've got my livin' to earn. It wouldn't do me much good if I learned to read and write, and just as I'd got learned I starved to death."
"But are there no night-schools?"
"Why don't you go? I suppose you don't work in the evenings."
"I never cared much about it," said Dick, "and that's the truth. But since I've got to talkin' with you, I think more about it. I guess I'll begin to go."
"I wish you would, Dick. You'll make a smart man if you only get a little education."
"Do you think so?" asked Dick, doubtfully.
"I know so. A boy who has earned his own living since he was seven years old must have something in him. I feel very much interested in you, Dick. You've had a hard time of it so far in life, but I think better times are in store. I want you to do well, and I feel sure you can if you only try."
"You're a good fellow," said Dick, gratefully. "I'm afraid I'm a pretty rough customer, but I aint as bad as some. I mean to turn over a new leaf, and try to grow up 'spectable."
"There've been a great many boys begin as low down as you, Dick, that have grown up respectable and honored. But they had to work pretty hard for it."
"I'm willin' to work hard," said Dick.
"And you must not only work hard, but work in the right way."
"What's the right way?"
"You began in the right way when you determined never to steal, or do anything mean or dishonorable, however strongly tempted to do so. That will make people have confidence in you when they come to know you. But, in order to succeed well, you must manage to get as good an education as you can. Until you do, you cannot get a position in an office or counting-room, even to run errands."
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