Back home, Dick shows Fosdick the letter. Fosdick suggests that Dick write one in return and even offers to proofread it for him. Dick does this, telling Frank all about his rise in life: how he’s saved money, learned to read and write, and has his own room. He jokingly offers to come to Frank’s school as a teacher, should they need one—so long as the pay is as good as shoe-shining is.
On the way to mailing the letter, Dick encounters Johnny Nolan, whose station remains the same as ever. Johnny is amazed to learn that Dick knows how to read and write. Dick tells the boy that he could learn, too, if he weren’t so lazy. Johnny, however, disagrees.
Johnny serves as an example of what Dick would be if he lacked industriousness. Alger insists that’s what was necessary to propel Dick to his success. Education was required but not sufficient on its own to do so.