“Look here, boy, can you hold my horse a few minutes?” asked a gentleman, as he jumped from his carriage in one of the lower streets in New York.
The boy addressed was apparently about twelve, with a bright face and laughing eyes, but dressed in clothes of coarse material. This was Jack Harding, who is to be our hero.
“Yes, sir,” said Jack, with alacrity, hastening to the horse’s head; “I’ll hold him as long as you like.”
“All right! I’m going in at No. 39; I won’t be long.”
“That’s what I call good luck,” said Jack to himself. “No boy wants a job more than I do. Father’s out of work, rent’s most due, and Aunt Rachel’s worrying our lives out with predicting that we’ll all be in the poorhouse inside of three months. It’s enough to make a fellow feel blue, listenin’ to her complainin’ and groanin’ all the time. Wonder whether she was always so. Mother says she was disappointed in love when she was young. I guess that’s the reason.”
“Have you set up a carriage, Jack?” asked a boy acquaintance, coming up and recognizing Jack.
“Yes,” said Jack, “but it ain’t for long. I shall set down again pretty soon.”
“I thought your grandmother had left you a fortune, and you had set up a team.”
“No such good news. It belongs to a gentleman that’s inside.”
“Inside the carriage?”
“No, in No. 39.”
“How long’s he going to stay?”
“I don’t know.”
“If it was half an hour, we might take a ride, and be back in time.”
Jack shook his head.