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Our Little Newsboy
by [?]

Hurrying to catch a certain car at a certain corner late one stormy night, I was suddenly arrested by the sight of a queer-looking bundle lying in a door-way.

‘Bless my heart, it’s a child! O John! I’m afraid he’s frozen!’ I exclaimed to my brother, as we both bent over the bundle.

Such a little fellow as he was, in the big, ragged coat; such a tired, baby face, under the fuzzy cap; such a purple, little hand, still holding fast a few papers; such a pathetic sight altogether was the boy, lying on the stone step, with the snow drifting over him, that it was impossible to go by.

‘He is asleep; but he’ll freeze, if left so long. Here! wake up, my boy, and go home, as fast as you can,’ cried John, with a gentle shake, and a very gentle voice; for the memory of a dear little lad, safely tucked up at home, made him fatherly kind to the small vagabond.

The moment he was touched, the boy tumbled up, and, before he was half awake, began his usual cry, with an eye to business.

‘Paper, sir? “Herald!” “Transkip!” Last’–a great gape swallowed up the ‘last edition,’ and he stood blinking at us like a very chilly young owl.

‘I’ll buy ’em all if you’ll go home, my little chap; it’s high time you were abed,’ said John, whisking the damp papers into one pocket, and his purse out of another, as he spoke.

‘All of ’em?–why there’s six!’ croaked the boy, for he was as hoarse as a raven.

‘Never mind, I can kindle the fire with ’em. Put that in your pocket; and trot home, my man, as fast as possible.’

‘Where do you live?’ I asked, picking up the fifty cents that fell from the little fingers, too benumbed to hold it.

‘Mills Court, out of Hanover. Cold, ain’t it?’ said the boy, blowing on his purple hands, and hopping feebly from one leg to the other, to take the stiffness out.

‘He can’t go all that way in this storm–such a mite, and so used up with cold and sleep, John.’

‘Of course he can’t; we’ll put him in a car,’ began John; when the boy wheezed out,–

‘No; I’ve got ter wait for Sam. He’ll be along as soon’s the theatre’s done. He said he would; and so I’m waitin’.’

‘Who is Sam?’ I asked.

‘He’s the feller I lives with. I ain’t got any folks, and he takes care o’ me.’

‘Nice care, indeed; leaving a baby like you to wait for him here such a night as this,’ I said crossly.

‘Oh, he’s good to me Sam is, though he does knock me round sometimes, when I ain’t spry. The big feller shoves me back, you see; and I gets cold, and can’t sing out loud; so I don’t sell my papers, and has to work ’em off late.’

‘Hear the child talk! One would think he was sixteen, instead of six,’ I said, half laughing.

‘I’m most ten. Hi! ain’t that a oner?’ cried the boy, as a gust of sleet slapped him in the face, when he peeped to see if Sam was coming. ‘Hullo! the lights is out! Why, the play’s done, and the folks gone, and Sam’s forgot me.’

It was very evident that Sam had forgotten his little protege; and a strong desire to shake Sam possessed me.

‘No use waitin’ any longer; and now my papers is sold, I ain’t afraid to go home,’ said the boy, stepping down like a little old man with the rheumatism, and preparing to trudge away through the storm.

‘Stop a bit, my little Casabianca; a car will be along in fifteen minutes; and while waiting you can warm yourself over there,’ said John, with the purple hand in his.

‘My name’s Jack Hill, not Cassy Banks, please, sir,’ said the little party, with dignity.

‘Have you had your supper, Mr. Hill?’ asked John, laughing.