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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
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 finding 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 they 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 early on All Hallow's Day, the first of November, to begin again his rambles about the country. By the time he reached Moorefields he was beginning to regret his resolution, and when he had reached Halloway he sat down by the roadside to consider the situation. While he waited there, lonely and dejected, the bells of Bow Church began to ring a merry peal. The music caught his fancy, and as he listened he thought he could hear them say:
“Turn again, Whittington,
Thrice Lord Mayor of London.” IIe could not resist such an appeal and the good fortune promised him, and so turned back without delay. In fact, so rapidly did he run that he reached the house before the family were stirring, crept softly in at the door he had left ajar, and set to work at his usual drudgery, no one the wiser for his little desertion.
All this time Dick's cat was sharing the fate of the Unicorn, which, driven by contrary winds, was forced to make land on the coast of Barbary, where the Moors, unaccustomed to seeing white people, treated them civilly and were eager to buy the wonderful things that the strangers had for sale. The captain, noticing this, sent samples of his goods to the king of the country, who was much pleased with them and invited him to bring his wares to the palace.
Here, according to the custom of the country, the captain was entertained lavishly, all sitting crosslegged upon carpets of interwoven gold and silver. Tables were brought in, laden with good things to eat; but the feast was sadly marred by the great troops of rats and mice which ran over the carpet