In The Young Outlaw: Or, Adrift in the Streets by Horatio Alger, Jr., a novel written in 1875, the hero is briefly employed as a chiropodist’s assistant, one of the few high points of a relatively uninspiring novel. Possibly in an effort to write a “flawed” protagonist, Alger makes Sam Barker a less than sterling example of boyhood, depriving this story of many of the feel-good beats that are typical of Alger’s books. A little comedy in an otherwise dreary story:
A young dandy advanced, dressed in the height of fashion, swinging a light cane in his lavender-gloved hand. A rose was in his button-hole, and he was just in the act of saluting a young lady, when Sam thrust a circular into his hand.
“Go right upstairs,” he said, “and get your corns cured. Only a dollar.”
The young lady burst into a ringing laugh, and the mortified dandy reddened with mortification.
“Keep your dirty paper to yourself, boy,” he said. “I am not troubled with those—ah, excrescences.”
“I never heard of them things,” said Sam. “I said corns.”
“Stand out of my way, boy, or I’ll cane you,” exclaimed the incensed fop.
“Your cane wouldn’t hurt,” said Sam, regarding the slight stick with disdain. “Never mind; you needn’t go up. I don’t believe you’ve got a dollar.”
This was rather impudent in Sam, I acknowledge; and the dandy would have been glad to chastise him.
“Miss Winslow,” he said, “I hope you won’t mind the rudeness of this—ah, ragamuffin.”
“Oh, I don’t,” said the young lady, merrily; “he amuses me.”
“So he does me; ha, ha! very good joke,” said the dandy, laughing too, but not very merrily. “I hope you are quite well to-day.”
“Thank you, quite so. But don’t let me detain you, if you have an engagement upstairs.”
“I assure you,” protested the young man, hurriedly, “that I have no intention of going up at all.”
“Then I must say good-morning, at any rate, as I am out shopping;” and the young lady passed on.
“I’ve a great mind to flog you,” said the dandy, frowning at Sam. “I would if you wasn’t so dirty. I wouldn’t like to soil my hands by taking hold of you.”
“That’s lucky for you,” said Sam, coolly.
The answer was a withering frown, but Sam was tough, and not easily withered.
“Aint he stuck up, though?” thought he, as the young man left him. “He don’t seem to like me much.”by