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|Ragged Dick||Horatio Alger|
Fosdick Changes His Business
|Page 2 of 4||
"I've seen you before."
"Oh, have you?" said Dick, whirling round; "then p'r'aps you'd like to see me behind."
At this unexpected answer all the boys burst into a laugh with the exception of the questioner, who, evidently, considered that Dick had been disrespectful.
"I've seen you somewhere," he said, in a surly tone, correcting himself.
"Most likely you have," said Dick. "That's where I generally keep myself."
There was another laugh at the expense of Roswell Crawford, for that was the name of the young aristocrat. But he had his revenge ready. No boy relishes being an object of ridicule, and it was with a feeling of satisfaction that he retorted,--
"I know you for all your impudence. You're nothing but a boot-black."
This information took the boys who were standing around by surprise, for Dick was well-dressed, and had none of the implements of his profession with him.
"S'pose I be," said Dick. "Have you got any objection?"
"Not at all," said Roswell, curling his lip; "only you'd better stick to blacking boots, and not try to get into a store."
"Thank you for your kind advice," said Dick. "Is it gratooitous, or do you expect to be paid for it?"
"You're an impudent fellow."
"That's a very cheerin' reflection," said Dick, good-naturedly.
"Do you expect to get this place when there's gentlemen's sons applying for it? A boot-black in a store! That would be a good joke."
Boys as well as men are selfish, and, looking upon Dick as a possible rival, the boys who listened seemed disposed to take the same view of the situation.
"That's what I say," said one of them, taking sides with Roswell.
"Don't trouble yourselves," said Dick. "I aint agoin' to cut you out. I can't afford to give up a independent and loocrative purfession for a salary of three dollars a week."
"Hear him talk!" said Roswell Crawford, with an unpleasant sneer. "If you are not trying to get the place, what are you here for?"
"I came with a friend of mine," said Dick, indicating Fosdick, "who's goin' in for the situation."
"Is he a boot-black, too?" demanded Roswell, superciliously.
"He!" retorted Dick, loftily. "Didn't you know his father was a member of Congress, and intimately acquainted with all the biggest men in the State?"
The boys surveyed Fosdick as if they did not quite know whether to credit this statement, which, for the credit of Dick's veracity, it will be observed he did not assert, but only propounded in the form of a question. There was no time for comment, however, as just then the proprietor of the store came to the door, and, casting his eyes over the waiting group, singled out Roswell Crawford, and asked him to enter.
"Well, my lad, how old are you?"
"Fourteen years old," said Roswell, consequentially.
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