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follow it. The driver took a fancy to the sturdy lad, and in return for such little services as rubbing down the horses and cleaning the harness, he often gave Dick a ride, and at night bought him his supper and gave him lodging. When, however, they arrived in the great city, the driver, knowing that Dick had no money, was afraid he would become a troublesome hanger-on, and so gave him a shilling and sent him about his business.
So in tattered clothes, dusty and forlorn, Dick wandered about the city, very soon penniless, for his shilling was all spent for his first meal. At many places he asked for food and sometimes was given a little, but never enough to stop the fierce hunger that boys have. Several times he was tempted to steal, but he was an honest lad and was firm in his resolve to starve rather than take anything that did not belong to him. As he wandered farther and farther into the dark and filthy streets of London, his rich men and ladies and golden streets faded completely away.
After two days of such wandering he learned that he must work if he would eat, and so no longer asked for food. Everywhere he was called an idle rogue and told to go to work, but no one gave him anything to do. At night of the third day, more weary and hungry than ever, he came to the house of a rich merchant in Leadenhall street, where he asked again for work or for food enough to keep him from starving. The cook to whom he had applied was an ill-natured woman, and exclaimed, "Get you gone, you idle fellow. If you tarry here I will kick you into the dog kennel."
This was the last straw for poor Dick, who crept wearily into a corner and lay down upon the ground, unable to go any farther.
In the meantime, Mr. Fitzwarren, the merchant, came home and found the boy lying exhausted by his door. "What business have you here?" asked the merchant. "Get up and leave at once, or I will have you sent to the house of correction, you lazy fellow."
Dick struggled to his feet and tried to walk, but after falling two or three times from faintness, he lay upon the ground and sobbed out, "I am only a poor, half-starved country boy. I am willing to work if you will only give me something to do, no matter what it is. I will work hard for my food only."
Mr. Fitzwarren looked more closely at Dick and satisfied himself that the boy was telling the truth, and as he was a kind-hearted man, he ordered one of his servants to take the boy in, feed him well and set him to work in the kitchen as a scullion. Dick might have had a very happy time in this family but for the ill-natured cook, who was always scolding and finding fault.
"You are to work under me. Now look sharp at your business, clean the spits and dripping pans, make the fires and do all the work I set you about in a hurry, or I will break your head with my ladle."
Such a place was very trying, but it was better than starving, and Dick stuck to his work manfully. However, after a few days, Miss Alice, his master's daughter, hearing of the arrival of the new scullion, came into the kitchen to see him, and learning how unkind the cook was, ordered her to be more considerate to her new help. Then she talked to the boy about his early home and his manner of living and how he came to London, and rinding him frank, honest and pleasing in his answers, she had him dressed properly for his position as a servant in their household.
After this, the cook treated him a little better, but his bed was a poor mattress in the garret, where the rats and mice ran over his face and squealed so loudly and frequently that the)- troubled him almost as much at night as the cook did during the daytime. His bed was so unpleasant that he was always up early in the morning and quite willing to remain diligently at work until late in the evening. Such hard, honest labor ought to have pleased the cook, but her temper was so bad that poor Dick had to take many beatings, and the more he tried to earn her good will, the more she abused him.
About this time a strange merchant came to visit Mr. Fitzwarren, and at night, as was the custom, left his shoes outside the door to be cleaned. Dick polished them carefully, and when he returned them in the morning the gentleman gave him a penny.
The same day as he was going along the street on an errand he met a woman carrying a cat.
"What will you take for the cat?" asked Dick, who was very fond of animals.
"She is a fine mouser, this cat," said the woman, "and I could not sell her for less than a sixpence."
"But I have only a penny," said Dick.
"O, well, if that is the case," said the woman, "you may have the cat for a penny."
Delighted with his purchase, Dick took the cat home and kept her in a box all day for fear she might stray into the kitchen, where the cook would kill her. At night he turned her loose in the garret, and in a little while she had delivered him from his plague of rats and mice.
Whenever Mr. Fitzwarren sent one of his ships out on a voyage, in order that God might bless his endeavors more abundantly, he called all his servants together and gave each an opportunity to venture something in the enterprise free of charge for freight or custom. The ship was ready to sail soon after Dick bought his cat, and all the other servants brought something to venture on the voyage. As he had nothing, neither money nor goods, Dick did not go with the rest of the servants to his master, but remained quietly at work in the kitchen. Miss Alice missed him and went to the kitchen, where she found him cleaning the spit.
"Why don't you invest something in the voyage of the Unicorn?" asked the girl.
"I have nothing," said Dick; "nothing in the world except my cat which I got for a penny."
Returning to the parlor, Alice said to her father, "Dick Whittington, the scullion, is not here because he has nothing to venture on the voyage. He has no money, and owns nothing excepting a cat which he bought for a penny, which has rid his garret of mice and rats. I will put in some money for him and let him have the profit."
"No, no," said the father; "that will not do. Whatever is invested must be his own. Let him bring his cat and let her go."
So Dick brought down his cat, and with tears in his eyes gave her to the captain, who sailed away on his voyage. Kind-hearted Alice gave him a little to buy another cat, but it never quite took the place of the first one. Besides the cook, seeing the interest Alice took in him, grew jealous and more sullen than ever. She was always sneering at him about his grand venture and wondering what he expected to get for his cat. In fact, she led him such a life that he finally gave up in despair and decided to quit the service of the Fitzwarrens for good and all.
Packing up his little bundle one night, he started earlv on All Hallow's Dav, the first of November,