Joe the Hotel Boy

Author: Horatio Alger

Chapter VII. - Blows and Kind Deeds.

Several days passed and Joe went out half a dozen times on the lake with parties from the hotel. All whom he served were pleased with him and treated him so nicely that, for the time being, his past troubles were forgotten.

At the beginning of the week Ned Talmadge came to see him.

"I am going away to join the folks out West," said Ned.

"I hope you will have a good time," answered our hero.

"Oh, I’m sure to have that, Joe. By the way, you are nicely settled here, it would seem."

"Yes, and I am thankful for it."

"Mr. Mallison is a fine man to work for, so I have been told. You had better stick to him."

"I shall—as long as the work holds out."

"Maybe he will give you something else to do, after the boating season is over."

A few more words passed, and then Ned took his departure. It was to be a long time before the two friends would meet again.

So far Joe had had no trouble with anybody around the hotel, but that evening, when he was cleaning out his boat, a man approached him and caught him rudely by the shoulder.

"So you’re the feller that’s took my job from me, eh?" snarled the newcomer.

Our hero looked up and recognized Sam Cullum, the boatman who had been discharged for drinking. Even now the boatman was more than half under the influence of intoxicants.

"I haven’t taken anybody’s job from him," answered Joe.

"I say yer did!" growled Cullum. "It ain’t fair, nuther!"

To this our hero did not reply, but went on cleaning out his boat.

"Fer two pins I’d lick yer!" went on the tipsy boatman, lurching forward.

"See here, Sam Cullum, I want you to keep your distance," said Joe, sharply. "Mr. Mallison discharged you for drinking. I had nothing to do with it."

"I don’t drink; leastwise, I don’t drink no more’n I need."

"Yes, you do. It would be the best thing in the world for you if you’d leave liquor alone entirely."

"Humph! don’t you preach to me, you little imp!"

"Then leave me alone."

"You stole the job from me an’ I’m going to lick you for it."

"If you touch me you’ll get hurt," said Joe, his eyes flashing. "Leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone."

"Bah!" snarled the other, and struck out awkwardly. He wanted to hit Joe on the nose, but the boy dodged with ease, and Sam Cullum fell sprawling over the rowboat.

"Hi! what did ye trip me up for?" spluttered the half-intoxicated man, as he rose slowly. "Don’t you do that ag’in, do yer hear?"

"Then don’t try to strike me again."

There was a moment of silence and then Sam Cullum gathered himself for another blow. By this time a small crowd of boys and hotel helpers began to collect.

"Sam Cullum’s going to fight Joe Bodley!"

"Sam’ll most kill Joe!"

With all his strength the man rushed at Joe. But the boy dodged again and put out his foot and the man went headlong.

"Now will you let me alone?" asked our hero, coolly.

"No, I won’t!" roared Sam Cullum. "Somebody give me a club! I’ll show him!"

Arising once more, he caught up an oar and launched a heavy blow at Joe’s head. For a third time our hero dodged, but the oar struck him on the arm, and the blow hurt not a little.

Joe was now angry and believed it was time to defend himself. He edged towards the end of the dock and Sam Cullum followed. Then, of a sudden the boy ducked under the man’s arm, turned, and gave him a quick shove that sent him with a splash into the lake.

"Hurrah! score one for Joe!"

"That will cool Sam Cullum’s temper."

"Yes, and perhaps it will sober him a little," came from a man standing by, who had witnessed the quarrel from the beginning. "He brought this on himself; the boy had nothing to do with it."

Sam Cullum floundered around in the water like a whale cast up in the shallows. The lake at that point was not over four feet deep, but he did not know enough to stand upright.

"Save me!" he bellowed. "Save me! I don’t want to drown!"

"Swallow a little water, it will do you good!" said a bystander, with a laugh.

"Walk out and you’ll be all right," added another.

At last Sam Cullum found his feet and walked around the side of the dock to the shore. A crowd followed him and kept him from going at Joe again.

"I’ll fix him another time," growled the intoxicated one, and shuffled off, with some small boys jeering him.

"You treated him as he deserved," said one of the other boatmen to Joe.

"I suppose he’ll try to square up another time," answered our hero.

"Well, I wouldn’t take water for him, Joe."

"I don’t intend to. If he attacks me I’ll do the best I can to defend myself."

"He has made a nuisance of himself for a long time. It’s a wonder to me that Mr. Mallison put up with it so long."

"He was short of help, that’s why. It isn’t so easy to get new help in the height of the summer season."

"That is true."

Joe expected to have more trouble with Sam Cullum the next day but it did not come. Then it leaked out that Cullum had gotten into a row with his wife and some of her relatives that night and was under arrest. When the boatman was brought up for trial the Judge sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment.

"And it serves him right," said the man who brought the news to Joe.

"It must be hard on his wife."

"Well, it is, Joe."

"Have they any children?"

"Four—a boy of seven and three little girls."

"Are they well off?"

"What, with such a father? No, they are very poor. She used to go out washing, but now she has to stay at home to take care of the baby. Sam was a brute to strike her. I don’t wonder the relatives took a hand."

"Perhaps the relatives can help her."

"They can’t do much, for they are all as poor as she is, and one of them is just getting over an operation at the hospital."

"Where do the Cullums live?"

"Down on Railroad Alley, not far from the water tower. It’s a mite of a cottage."

Joe said no more, but what he had been told him set him to thinking, and that evening, after his work was over, he took a walk through the town and in the direction of Railroad Alley.

Not far from the water station he found the Cullum homestead, a mite of a cottage, as the man had said, with a tumbled-down chimney and several broken-out windows. He looked in at one of the windows and by the light of a smoking kerosene lamp beheld a woman in a rocking-chair, rocking a baby to sleep. Three other youngsters were standing around, knowing not what to do. On a table were some dishes, all bare of food.

"Mamma, I want more bread," one of the little ones was saying.

"You can have more in the morning, Johnny," answered the mother.

"No, I want it now," whimpered the youngster. "I’m hungry."

"I’m hungry, too," put in another little one.

"I can’t give you any more to-night, for I haven’t it," said the mother, with a deep sigh. "Now, be still, or you’ll wake the baby."

"Why don’t dad come home?" asked the boy of seven.

"He can’t come home, Bobby—he—had to go away," faltered the mother. "Now all be still, and you shall have more bread in the morning."

The children began to cry, and unable to stand the sight any longer Joe withdrew. Up the Alley was a grocery store and he almost ran to this.

"Give me some bread," he said, "and some cake, and a pound of cheese, and some smoked beef, and a pound of good tea, and some sugar. Be quick, please."

The goods were weighed out and wrapped up, and with his arms full he ran back to the cottage and kicked on the door.

"Who is there?" asked Mrs. Cullum, in alarm.

"Here are some groceries for you!" cried Joe. "All paid for!"

"Oh, look!" screamed the boy of seven. "Bread, and cheese!"

"And sugar!" came from one of the little girls.

"And tea! Mamma, just what you like!" said another.

"Where did this come from?" asked Mrs. Cullum.

"A friend," answered Joe. "It’s all paid for."

"I am very thankful."

"Now we can have some bread, can’t we?" queried the boy.

"Yes, and a bit of smoked beef and cheese, too," said the mother, and placing the sleeping baby on a bed, she proceeded to deal out the good things to her children.


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Chicago: Horatio Alger, "Chapter VII. - Blows and Kind Deeds.," Joe the Hotel Boy in Joe the Hotel Boy Original Sources, accessed June 25, 2024,

MLA: Alger, Horatio. "Chapter VII. - Blows and Kind Deeds." Joe the Hotel Boy, in Joe the Hotel Boy, Original Sources. 25 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Alger, H, 'Chapter VII. - Blows and Kind Deeds.' in Joe the Hotel Boy. cited in , Joe the Hotel Boy. Original Sources, retrieved 25 June 2024, from