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5 CHAPTER I. An approved specimen of young America—the Lawyer in his office—Old age, down at the heel—entrance of Telemachus and Ulysses—a bargain closed. punctually at half past 12, the noon-day sun shining flat on the pavement of Wall street, a youth with the pious name of Nathaniel, clapt upon his closely cropt head, a straw hat, for which he had that very morning given the sum of twenty-five cents, and announced his intention of going to his dinner. “COVERT Attorney at Law” stared into the room (it was a down-town law-office) from the door which was opened wide and fastened back, for coolness; and the real Covert, at that moment, looked up from his cloth-covered table, in an inner apartment, whose carpet, book-cases, musty smell, big chair, with leather cushions, and the panels of only one window out of three being opened, and they but partially so, announced it as the 6 sanctum of the sovereign master there. That gentleman’s garb marked him as one of the sect of Friends, or Quakers. He was a tallish man, considerably round-shouldered, with a pale, square, closely shaven face; and one who possessed any expertness as a physiognomist, could not mistake a certain sanctimonious satanic look out of the eyes. From some suspicion that he didn’t appear well in that part of his countenance, Mr. Covert had a practice of casting down his visual organs. On this occasion, however, they lighted on his errand-boy. “Yes, go to thy dinner; both can go,” said he, “for I want to be alone.” And Wigglesworth, the clerk, a tobacco-scented old man—he smoked and chewed incessantly—left his high stool, in the corner where he had been slowly copying some document. Old Wigglesworth! I must drop a word of praise and regret upon you here; for the Lord gave you a good soul, ridiculous old codger that you were. I know few more melancholy sights than these old men present, whom you see here and there about New York; apparently without chick or child, very poor, their lips caved in upon toothless gums, dressed in seedy and greasy clothes, and ending their lives on that just debatable ground between honorable starvation and the poor house. Old Wigglesworth had been well off once. The key to his losses, and his old age of penury, was nothing more nor less than intemperance. He did not get drunk, out and out, but 7 he was never perfectly sober. Covert now employed him at a salary of four dollars a week. Nathaniel, before-mentioned, was a small boy with a boundless ambition; the uttermost end and aim of which was that he might one day drive a fast horse of his own on Third avenue. In the meantime, he smoked cheap cigars, cultivated with tenderness upon his temples, his bright brown hair, in that form denominated “soap-lock,” and swept out the office and ran the errands; occasionally stopping to settle a dispute by tongue or fist. For Nathaniel was brave, and had a constitutional tendency to thrust his own opinions upon other people by force if necessary. Freed from the presence of the two, Mr. Covert sat meditating and writing alternately; until he had finished a letter, on which he evidently bestowed considerable pains.—He then folded, enveloped, sealed it, and locked it in his desk. A tap at the door. “Come in.” Two persons enter. One is a hearty middle-aged man, of what is called the working classes. The other is your humble servant, who takes all these pains in narrating his adventures, for your entertainment; his name is Jack Engle, and at the time of this introduction he is of the roystering age of twenty—stands about five feet ten, in his stocking feet—carries a pair of brown eyes and red cheeks to match, and looks mighty sharp at the girls as they go home through Nassau street from their work downtown. “Mr. Covert, I suppose,” said my companion. 8 “That is my name, sir. Will thee be seated?” “My name’s Foster,” settling himself in a chair, and putting his hat on the table, “you got a line from me the other day, I suppose?” “Ah, yes—yes,” slowly answers the lawyer. Then looking at me, “and this is the young man, then?” “This is the young man, sir; and we have come to see whether we can...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781609385118
Related ISBN
9781609385125
MARC Record
OCLC
970693688
Pages
180
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-14
Language
English
Open Access
No
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