Author's Note: So, though this is my first story under my new pen name, I'm an old hand at fanfiction. I am back after about five years, and starting off with something a little more light-hearted and a little less dramatic than what I usually write. I suppose there's very little to say other than that my sincerest wish is that you enjoy the story, and give me some feedback please. Should these two things occur, we'll be good friends in no time : )
Disclaimer: Alas, the Newsies are not my own.
It all began with Mush's cold. Mush belonged to that rare class of individuals whose immune system seems to grant them perpetual health. So when he fell ill that December, all the newsboys residing at Kloppman's Lodging House were shocked. The long overdue illness, however, consumed the poor boy with a vengeance. Mush was all snot and tears for over a week and the other boys were scraping pennies to keep him under a roof. It was quite near Christmas and Mush was just mourning his ill luck at being bedridden during such a wonderful selling time, when there came a knock at the door.
It must be noted that there were only two classes of people to pass through the doors of Kloppman's Lodging House (if not Kloppman himself). First were the newsies, and as the Lodging House was their home they felt no need to knock. The second were the bulls, and they don't generally possess manners enough to knock when they're on their way to collar an unfortunate delinquent newsboy. Therefore it was at this moment that Mush realized he had never, ever, heard anyone knock on that door.
The poor invalid knew that he was the only one home to answer. He also knew that going all the way downstairs would probably take more energy than he had at present. Finally, bemoaning his weakness in letting his curiosity overcome his precarious physical condition, Mush pulled a ratty blanket around his shoulders and made his way to the door.
"Who is it?" he asked politely, cringing at how raspy his own voice sounded.
The answer was delivered in the tones of a gentleman and Mush opened the door as he apologized:
"Whatcha sayin'?" he coughed. "I'm sorry, I can't hear nuthin', and even less than nuthin' through dat big door."
Once the door was opened the two men stared at each other as if through the looking-glass. The one being sick and sullied, housing dirt upon his person everywhere from behind his ears to under his fingernails – the other being stuffy and shiny, clearly pleased with the fact that even his bald spot was reflective with polish.
"May I inquire if there be here living an individual by the name of Anthony Higgins?"
Mush didn't understand much of what was being said to him, but he recognized the name. "Sure does, but he's out sellin'. Wanna wait?" Mush opened the door to offer the inside of his dingy little home. The stranger must have taken it for granted that he had had the good fortune to have alighted upon the nicest newsie in the place (anyone else would have responded to a similar inquiry with a resounding "Who's askin'?" or perhaps no more than a rude "Beat it!" before slamming the door in his face), for he merely turned up his nose and proffered a business card and a letter.
"Unfortunately I haven't the leisure to linger. Please offer Mr. Higgins my sincerest apologies to that effect. I leave this to your good keeping, sir, and implore you to impress upon your comrade the importance of his immediate compliance in reporting to the address given on the card."
Mush fumbled with keeping hold of his blanket and reaching for the documents. "Uh, sure. I'll get it tah him."
The man inclined his head graciously and turned to depart when Mush's curiosity overcame his sense for the second time that afternoon. "Heya mister!" he called, before the man could reach the street. "What's dis all about anyhow? If ya don't mind me askin'."
The man chuckled and explained: "Why, whether or not it be known to him, Mr. Higgins is the only remaining heir to a very old and a very wealthy family. The last will and testament of my late master having been read just this Sunday past, his lawyer sent me to secure the young man with all possible haste." Upon seeing that the unfortunate newsie with whom he was speaking understood not a whit of what he was saying, the gentleman clarified his rhetoric: "Your friend has just become richer than William Randolph Hearst."
The gentleman then departed with a charitable smile upon his lips, secretly entertaining the hope that the young newsie who was about to become his new master would not be quite so unrefined as the simple individual with whom he'd just crossed paths. Mush retreated wondering how he would tell Racetrack without his friend suffering a conniption...