Fame and Fortune: Plot Summary

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Fame and Fortune: Plot Summary

Fame and Fortune; or, The Progress of Richard Hunter, Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1868
Fame and Fortune cover image is borrowed from the General Collection of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester
          Dick and Henry move into a new, slightly more expensive boarding house. After securing their room and moving their belongings from their old dwelling, Dick runs into Frank Whitney. Frank re-introduces Dick to his uncle, who is quite pleased to see his progress: "In this free country there is every inducement for effort, however unpromising may be the early circumstances in which one is placed" (25-6).
          At his job under Mr. Rockwell, Dick encounters Mr. Gilbert, bookkeeper and uncle to fop Roswell Crawford, whom Henry beat out of a job at a gentleman's store. Gilbert takes an instant dislike to Dick on account of his intelligence and signs of greatness; Gilbert feels that Dick does not show him enough respect. Mr. Rockwell soon arrives and shows his great admiration and hope for Dick, which further frustrates Gilbert. Dick is placed to work under the head clerk, Mr. Murdock, who respects the same qualities in Dick that Rockwell identifies.
          That evening, Henry explains to Dick that he has taught him all he can, but that they should find some way to continue their education; Henry specifically mentions that they should improve their mathematics and learn French. Luckily, a teacher rents the room across the hall, and is willing to teach them for a fair price. Other boarders include Clifton, a well-intentioned spendthrift who shows no signs of ever saving enough money to make anything of himself. Luckily for him, he gains the affections of another boarder, Miss Peyton, a curly-haired, marriage-minded coquette with an inheritance of several thousand dollars. We are told that they marry and start a business together that performs well enough to keep them in style.
          Next, Dick is invited to Rockwell's home; at the end of the evening, the Rockwells give Dick two gifts, a gold watch and chain and a check for one thousand dollars: in one night, Dick's savings are multiplied tenfold. Uncertain of what to do with the money, Dick turns to Murdock, who asks Dick to join him in a real estate venture, buying lots that the city will then buy at a later date to expand Central Park. Despite the fact that this investment will initially cost money in taxes, Dick recognizes the opportunity and goes in with Murdock.
          Meanwhile, Roswell is incensed when he hears of Dick's success, knowing him to be a friend of Henry's. Envious, he encourages Gilbert to get Dick fired so Crawford can get his job. To do so, he employs Mickey Maguire to frame Dick for theft, thus making him lose his job. The plan initially succeeds: Dick is taken to jail to await trial.
          However, the police officer remembers Dick from his years as a bootblack, and knows him to be honest. Because of this, he agrees to let Dick send letters to his friends. He writes to both Henry and Mr. Murdock, both come and are certain of his innocence. The messenger was a witness to the original crime; he describes Mickey, whom Murdock recognizes because he saw the young villain talking with Gilbert. Gilbert had refused to reward Mickey appropriately, and threw him out of the office. Although Murdock is not yet certain of Gilbert's guilt, he now suspects that the bookkeeper is involved somehow.
          At trial, Dick is exonerated thanks to the witness's testimony. Maguire is arrested and convicted for three months at a juvenile prison. Dick shows no malice towards Mickey, explaining to his new friends that it is a result of Mickey's abusive father and long life on the streets rather than any real malice on Mickey's part.
          The next episode occurs at the birthday party of Ida Greyson, at which Dick is given the opportunity to speak French, and learn dance steps. Thanks to his natural grace, he catches on quickly and is accepted as a true gentleman.
          Three months later, Mickey is out of prison; he goes to Rockwell's office to implicate Gilbert in Dicks' frame-up. Rockwell believes him enough to question Gilbert. The bookkeeper is so flustered that he feigns indignancy at the questions and insists on leaving. Rockwell takes pity on Mickey, reading him in much the same way as Dick has in the past. With the position of bookkeeper open, he creates a new arrangement: he will hire a temporary bookkeeper to fill the position for six months, during which Dick will attend an evening school in commerce. Once he is qualified for the position of bookkeeper, he will be promoted. Meanwhile, Dick will teach Mickey how to do his job, and then Mickey will move up in his own right. Mickey agrees, and apologizes to Dick for his past behavior. Dick forgives him and teaches him well.
          In conclusion, Mickey becomes a porter thanks to his abilities. Dick is an excellent bookkeeper and is eventually promoted to partner. He sells the lots of park property at a fivefold gain, and at twenty-four years of age, proposes to Ida Greyson, who happily accepts.