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The article in question seems like an extract from a larger piece of work by Horatio Alger. It explains how a heroic event unfolded after Dick, who was a professional young swimmer saved Johnny, who had slipped away from his father's watchful eye. The point of article "From Ragged Dick" is to give a story of how young Dick's fate turned around from being a merchant's assistant to a hero after his saving act one day. The writer's intention is to depict the circumstance that caused Dick's turn-around to his normal life.
Alger begins by recounting Dick's activities in a counting room. He was initially an assistant to a merchant, yet devoting half of the day in blacking people's boots. On one occurrence, Alger explains how Dick decided to take a day off with his close friend Henry Fosdick, after Fosdick's employee gave him an errand to run in the area of Brooklyn. After boarding a ferry, both of them enjoyed the scene of the city receding as the ferry moved more away from the shores.
Alger then introduces a man, whom he later identifies to be James Rockwell. He joins the passengers on the boat accompanied by two of his children, one of whom the writer identifies to be Johnny. He is six years old, and his curiosity drives him to slip away from his father's hands and accidentally plunge himself into the water. His father, not being a swimmer, cries desperately for help and Dick instinctively dives in to save him.
Rockwell feels indebted towards this courageous act and convinces him to dry off at his friend's place on the other side of the shore. While in a confined room, a servant brings him another suit of clothes and a note asking him to meet Rockwell in a counting room on Pearl Street. Alger finishes the article with the implication that Rockwell drastically changed Dick's life after this heroic act, probably after meeting with him in the counting room the following day.