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The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 5940

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The advertisement for Ernest in a St. Louis daily paper came about in this way:

Bolton was in the habit of inquiring from time to time, of Western clients, if they were acquainted with any persons bearing the name of Ray. One gentleman, who frequently visited St. Louis, answered, "Yes, I know a boy named Ray."

"Tell me all you know about him," said Bolton, eagerly.

"I was staying at the Southern Hotel last winter," answered Mr. Windham, "when my attention was called to a bright-looking newsboy who sold the evening newspapers outside. I was so attracted by him that I inquired his name. He said it was Ray, and that he was alone in the world."

"What was his first name?"

"I can't recall. I am not sure that I heard it."

"Was it Ernest?"

"Very possibly. But, as I said before, I cannot speak with any certainty."

"How old did the boy appear to be?"

"About sixteen."

"That would have been the age of Dudley Ray's son," said Bolton to himself.

"I suppose you didn't learn where the boy lived?"


This was all the information Mr. Windham was able to impart, but Bolton felt that it was possibly of importance. It was, in fact, the first clue he had been able to obtain.

That Dudley Ray's son should be forced by dire necessity to sell newspapers was not in the least improbable. He went to an advertising agency, and inserted the advertisement already mentioned.

A few days later he received two letters post-marked St. Louis.

He opened them with a thrill of excitement.

He felt that he was on the verge of making an important discovery.

One letter was addressed in a school-boy hand, and ran thus:


I saw your advertisement in one of the morning papers. I hope it means me. My name is not Ernest, but it may have been changed by some people with whom I lived in Nebraska. I am sixteen years old, and am a poor boy obliged to earn my living by selling papers. My father died when I was a baby, and my mother three years later. So I am alone in the world, and I am having a hard time. I suppose you wouldn't advertise for me unless you had some good news for me. You may send your answer to this letter to the Southern Hotel. The clerk is a friend of mine, and he says he will save it for me.

Yours respectfully, ARTHUR RAY.

"That isn't the boy," said Bolton, laying down the letter in disappointment. "The name is different, and, besides, the writer says that his father died when he was a baby. Of course that settles the question. He is a different boy."

He opened the second letter, hoping that it might be more satisfactory.

It was the letter of Tom Burns, setting forth his meeting Ernest at Oak Forks, and afterwards running across him at Oreville in California.

"Eureka!" exclaimed Bolton, his face beaming with exultation. "This is the boy and no mistake. I will at once answer this letter, and also write to Ernest Ray in California."

This was the letter received by Bu



I am very much indebted to you for the information contained in your letter of two days since. I have reason to think that the boy you mention is the one of whom I am in search. If it proves to be so, I am free to tell you that he will be much benefited by your communication. There is a considerable estate, now wrongfully held by another, to which he is entitled. Should things turn out as I hope and expect, I will see that you lose nothing by the service you have rendered him and myself. I will write to him by this mail. Should you change your address, please notify me.

Yours truly, BENJAMIN BOLTON, 182 Nassau Street, New York.

The letter written to Ernest ran thus:


I have for some time been seeking to find you. Finally, in response to an advertisement inserted in a St. Louis daily paper, I learn that you are at present living in Oreville, California. This information was given me by one Thomas Burns, who is employed at the Planters Hotel. The name is, I hope, familiar to you. It is very desirable that I should have an interview with you. If you are the son of Dudley Ray, formerly residing at or near Elmira, what I have to say will be greatly to your advantage.

Will you write me at once, letting me know whether this is the case? Also, state your present circumstances, and whether you need pecuniary help. It is unfortunate that we are so far apart. I am connected with a New York legal firm, and can not very well go to California, but I might assist you to come to New York if, as I suppose, your means are limited. Will you write to me at once whether this is the case? I shall anxiously await your reply.

BENJAMIN BOLTON, Attorney-at-law, 182 Nassau Street, New York City.

Ernest read this letter with eager interest, and showed it to Luke Robbins.

"What do you think of it, Luke?" he asked.

"What do I think of it? It looks very much as if you were entitled to some money."

"What shall I do?"

"Write this Mr. Bolton that you will go at once to New York, and call upon him."

"But how about the store? I should not like to leave Mr. Ames in the lurch."

"I will take your place here, and in order to qualify myself for it, I will come in to morrow and begin to serve an apprenticeship."

Ernest wrote to Bolton that he would start for New York in a week. He added that he had the money necessary for the journey. He said also that he was the son of Dudley Ray, and that he remembered visiting Elmira with his father.

When Bolton received this letter he exclaimed, triumphantly, "Now, Stephen Ray, I have you on the hip. You looked down upon me when I called upon you. In your pride and your unjust possession of wealth you thought me beneath your notice. Unless I am greatly mistaken, I shall be the instrument under Providence of taking from you your ill-gotten gains, and carrying out the wishes expressed in the last will of your deceased uncle."

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