Part 4 out of 4
"What are you doing?" she demanded, suspiciously. "Let me out."
But Jack was standing with his back to the door. The door to the right
opened, and a policeman appeared.
"Arrest this woman," said Jack. "She's one of them."
"I suppose I must yield," said Peg, sulkily; "but you shan't be a gainer
by it," she continued, addressing Jack.
"Where is Ida?" asked our hero, anxiously.
"She is safe," said Peg, sententiously.
"You won't tell me where she is?"
"No; why should I? I suppose I am indebted to you for this arrest. She
shall be kept out of your way as long as I have power to do so."
"Then I shall find her," said Jack. "She is somewhere in the city, and
I'll find her sooner or later."
Peg was not one to betray her feelings, but this arrest was a great
disappointment to her. It interfered with a plan she had of making a
large sum out of Ida. To understand what this was, we must go back a day
or two, and introduce a new character.
MR. JOHN SOMERVILLE
Jack's appearance on the scene had set Mrs. Hardwick to thinking. This
was the substance of her reflections: Ida, whom she had kidnaped for
certain reasons of her own, was likely to prove an incumbrance rather
than a source of profit. The child, her suspicions awakened in regard to
the character of the money she had been employed to pass off, was no
longer available for that purpose.
Under these circumstances Peg bethought herself of the ultimate object
which she had proposed to herself in kidnaping Ida--that of extorting
money from a man who has not hitherto figured in our story.
John Somerville occupied a suite of apartments in a handsome lodging
house in Walnut Street. A man wanting yet several years of forty, he
looked many years older than that age. Late hours and dissipated habits,
though kept within respectable limits, left their traces on his face. At
twenty-one he inherited a considerable fortune, which, combined with
some professional income--for he was a lawyer, and not without
ability--was quite sufficient to support him handsomely, and leave a
considerable surplus every year. But latterly he had contracted a
passion for gaming, and, shrewd though he might be naturally, he could
hardly be expected to prove a match for the wily _habitues_ of the
gaming table, who had marked him for their prey.
The evening before his introduction to the reader he had passed till a
late hour at a fashionable gaming house, where he had lost heavily.
His reflections on waking were not the most pleasant. For the first time
within fifteen years he realized the folly and imprudence of the course
he had pursued. The evening previous he had lost a thousand dollars, for
which he had given his IOU. Where to raise the money he did not know.
After making his toilet, he rang the bell and ordered breakfast.
For this he had but scanty appetite. He drank a cup of coffee and ate
part of a roll. Scarcely had he finished, and directed the removal of
the dishes, than the servant entered to announce a visitor.
"Is it a gentleman?" he inquired, hastily, fearing that it might be a
creditor. He occasionally had such visitors.
"A child? But what could a child want of me?"
"No, sir. It isn't a child," said the servant, in reply.
"Then if it's neither a gentleman, lady nor child," said Somerville,
"will you have the goodness to inform me what sort of a being it is?"
"It's a woman, sir," answered the servant, his gravity unmoved.
"Why didn't you say so when I asked you?"
"Because you asked me if it was a lady, and this isn't--leastways she
don't look like one."
"You can send her up, whoever she is," said Somerville.
A moment afterward Peg entered his presence.
John Somerville looked at her without much interest, supposing that she
might be a seamstress, or laundress, or some applicant for charity. So
many years had passed since he had met with this woman that she had
passed out of his remembrance.
"Do you wish to see me about anything?" he asked. "You must be quick,
for I am just going out."
"You don't seem to recognize me, Mr. Somerville."
"I can't say I do," he replied, carelessly. "Perhaps you used to wash
for me once."
"I am not in the habit of acting as laundress," said the woman, proudly.
"In that case," said Somerville, languidly, "you will have to tell me
who you are, for it is quite out of my power to remember all the people
"Perhaps the name of Ida will assist your recollection; or have you
forgotten that name, too?"
"Ida!" repeated John Somerville, throwing off his indifferent manner,
and surveying the woman's features attentively. "Yes."
"I have known several persons of that name," he said, recovering his
former indifferent manner. "I haven't the slightest idea to which of
them you refer. You don't look as if it was your name," he added, with a
"The Ida I mean was and is a child," she said. "But there's no use in
beating about the bush, Mr. Somerville, when I can come straight to the
point. It is now about seven years since my husband and myself were
employed to carry off a child--a female child of a year old--named Ida.
You were the man who employed us." She said this deliberately, looking
steadily in his face. "We placed it, according to your directions, on
the doorstep of a poor family in New York, and they have since cared for
it as their own. I suppose you have not forgotten that?"
"I remember it," he said, "and now recall your features. How have you
fared since I employed you? Have you found your business profitable?"
"Far from it," answered Peg. "I am not yet able to retire on a
"One of your youthful appearance," said Somerville, banteringly, "ought
not to think of retiring under ten years."
"I don't care for compliments," she said, "even when they are sincere.
As for my youthful appearance, I am old enough to have reached the age
of discretion, and not so old as to have fallen into my second
"Compliments aside, then, will you proceed to whatever business brought
"I want a thousand dollars," said Peg, abruptly.
"A thousand dollars!" repeated Somerville. "Very likely. I should like
that amount myself. Did you come here to tell me that?"
"I have come here to ask you to give me that amount."
"Have you a husband?"
"Then let me suggest that your husband is the proper person to apply to
in such a case."
"I think I am more likely to get it out of you," said Peg, coolly. "My
husband couldn't supply me with a thousand cents, even if he were
"Much as I am flattered by your application," said Somerville, with a
polite sneer, "since it would seem to place me next in estimation to
your husband, I cannot help suggesting that it is not usual to bestow
such a sum on a stranger, or even a friend, without an equivalent
"I am ready to give you an equivalent."
"Of what nature?"
"I am willing to be silent."
"And how can your silence benefit me?"
"That you will be best able to estimate."
"Explain yourself, and bear in mind that I can bestow little time on
"I can do that in a few words. You employed me to kidnap a child. I
believe the law has something to say about that. At any rate, the
child's mother may have."
"What do you know about the child's mother?" demanded Somerville,
"All about her!" said Peg, emphatically.
"How am I to credit that? It is easy to claim a knowledge you do not
"Shall I tell you the whole story, then? In the first place, she married
your cousin, after rejecting you. You never forgave her for this. When,
a year after marriage, her husband died, you renewed your proposals.
They were rejected, and you were forbidden to renew the subject on pain
of forfeiting her friendship forever. You left her presence, determined
to be revenged. With this object you sought Dick and myself, and
employed us to kidnap the child. There is the whole story, briefly
"Woman, how came this within your knowledge?" he demanded, hoarsely.
"That is of no consequence," said Peg. "It was for my interest to find
out, and I did so."
"I know one thing more--the residence of the child's mother. I hesitated
this morning whether to come here, or to carry Ida to her mother,
trusting to her to repay from gratitude what I demand from you because
it is for your interest to comply with my request."
"You speak of carrying the child to her mother. How can you do that when
she is in New York?"
"You are mistaken," said Peg, coolly. "She is in Philadelphia."
John Somerville paced the room with hurried steps. Peg felt that she had
He paused after a while, and stood before her.
"You demand a thousand dollars," he said.
"I have not that amount with me. I have recently lost a heavy sum, no
matter how. But I can probably get it to-day. Call to-morrow at this
time--no, in the afternoon, and I will see what I can do for you."
"Very well," said the woman, well satisfied.
Left to himself, John Somerville spent some time in reflection.
Difficulties encompassed him--difficulties from which he found it hard
to find a way of escape. He knew how difficult it would be to meet this
woman's demand. Gradually his countenance lightened. He had decided what
that something should be.
When Peg left John Somerville's apartments, it was with a high degree
of satisfaction at the result of the interview. All had turned out as
she wished. She looked upon the thousand dollars as already hers. The
considerations which she had urged would, she was sure, induce him to
make every effort to secure her silence.
Then, with a thousand dollars, what might not be done? She would
withdraw from the business, for one thing. It was too hazardous. Why
might not Dick and she retire to the country, lease a country inn, and
live an honest life hereafter? There were times when she grew tired of
the life she lived at present. It would be pleasant to go to some place
where they were not known, and enroll themselves among the respectable
members of the community. She was growing old; she wanted rest and a
quiet home. Her early years had been passed in the country. She
remembered still the green fields in which she played as a child, and to
this woman, old and sin-stained, there came a yearning to have that life
But her dream was rudely broken by her encounter with the officers of
the law at the house of her employer.
A PROVIDENTIAL MEETING
"By gracious, if that isn't Ida!" exclaimed Jack, in profound surprise.
He had been sauntering along Chestnut Street, listlessly troubled by the
thought that though he had given Mrs. Hardwick into custody, he was
apparently no nearer the discovery of his young ward than before. What
steps should he take to find her? He could not decide. In his perplexity
his eyes rested suddenly upon the print of the "Flower Girl."
"Yes," he said, "that is Ida, fast enough. Perhaps they will know in the
store where she is to be found."
He at once entered the store.
"Can you tell me anything about the girl in that picture?" he asked,
abruptly, of the nearest clerk.
"It is a fancy picture," he said. "I think you would need a long time to
find the original."
"It has taken a long time," said Jack. "But you are mistaken. That is a
picture of my sister."
"Of your sister!" repeated the salesman, with surprise, half incredulous.
"Yes," persisted Jack. "She is my sister."
"If it is your sister," said the clerk, "you ought to know where she is."
Jack was about to reply, when the attention of both was called by a
surprised exclamation from a lady who had paused beside them. Her eyes
also were fixed upon the "Flower Girl."
"Who is this?" she asked, in visible excitement. "Is it taken from
"This young man says it is his sister," said the clerk.
"Your sister?" repeated the lady, her eyes fixed inquiringly upon Jack.
In her tone there was a mingling both of surprise and disappointment.
"Yes, madam," answered Jack, respectfully.
"Pardon me," she said, "there is very little personal resemblance. I
should not have suspected that you were her brother."
"She is not my own sister," explained Jack, "but I love her just the
"Do you live in Philadelphia? Could I see her?" asked the lady, eagerly.
"I live in New York, madam," said Jack; "but Ida was stolen from us
about three weeks since, and I have come here in pursuit of her. I have
not been able to find her yet."
"Did you call her Ida?" demanded the lady, in strange agitation.
"My young friend," said the woman, rapidly, "I have been much interested
in the story of your sister. I should like to hear more, but not here.
Would you have any objection to coming home with me, and telling me the
rest? Then we will together concert measures for recovering her."
"You are very kind, madam," said Jack, bashfully; for the lady was
elegantly dressed, and it had never been his fortune to converse with a
lady of her social position. "I shall be glad to go home with you, and
shall be very much obliged for your advice and assistance."
"Then we will drive home at once."
With natural gallantry, Jack assisted the lady into the carriage, and,
at her bidding, got in himself.
"Home, Thomas!" she directed the driver; "and drive as fast as possible."
"How old was your sister when your parents adopted her?" asked
Jack afterward ascertained that this was her name.
"About a year old, madam."
"And how long since was that?" asked the lady, waiting for the answer
with breathless interest.
"Seven years since. She is now eight."
"It must be," murmured the lady, in low tones. "If it is indeed, as I
hope, my life will indeed be blessed."
"Did you speak, madam?"
"Tell me under what circumstances your family adopted her."
Jack related briefly how Ida had been left at their door in her infancy.
"And do you recollect the month in which this happened?"
"It was at the close of December, the night before New Year's."
"It is, it must be she!" ejaculated Mrs. Clifton, clasping her hands,
while tears of joy welled from her eyes.
"I--I don't understand," said Jack, naturally astonished.
"My young friend," said the lady, "our meeting this morning seems
providential. I have every reason to believe that this child--your
adopted sister--is my daughter, stolen from me by an unknown enemy at
the time of which I speak. From that day to this I have never been able
to obtain the slightest clew that might lead to her discovery. I have
long taught myself to think of her as dead."
It was Jack's turn to be surprised. He looked at the lady beside him.
She was barely thirty. The beauty of her girlhood had ripened into the
maturer beauty of womanhood. There was the same dazzling complexion, the
same soft flush upon the cheeks. The eyes, too, were wonderfully like
Ida's. Jack looked, and as he looked he became convinced.
"You must be right," he said. "Ida is very much like you."
"You think so?" said Mrs. Clifton, eagerly.
"I had a picture--a daguerreotype--taken of Ida just before I lost her;
I have treasured it carefully. I must show it to you when we get to my
The carriage stopped before a stately mansion in a wide and quiet
street. The driver dismounted and opened the door. Jack assisted Mrs.
Clifton to alight.
Bashfully our hero followed the lady up the steps, and, at her bidding,
seated himself in an elegant parlor furnished with a splendor which
excited his admiration and wonder. He had little time to look about him,
for Mrs. Clifton, without pausing to remove her street attire, hastened
downstairs with an open daguerreotype in her hand.
"Can you remember Ida when she was first brought to your house?" she
asked. "Did she look anything like this picture?"
"It is her image," answered Jack, decidedly. "I should know it
"Then there can be no further doubt," said Mrs. Clifton. "It is my child
you have cared for so long. Oh! why could I not have known it before?
How many lonely days and sleepless nights it would have spared me! But
God be thanked for this late blessing! I shall see my child again."
"I hope so, madam. We must find her."
"What is your name, my young friend?"
"My name is Harding--Jack Harding."
"Jack?" repeated the lady, smiling.
"Yes, madam; that is what they call me. It would not seem natural to be
"Very well," said Mrs. Clifton, with a smile which went to Jack's heart
at once, and made him think her, if any more beautiful than Ida; "as Ida
is your adopted sister--"
"I call her my ward. I am her guardian, you know."
"You are a young guardian. But, as I was about to say, that makes us
connected in some way, doesn't it? I won't call you Mr. Harding, for
that would sound too formal. I will call you Jack."
"I wish you would," said our hero, his face brightening with pride.
It almost upset him to be called Jack by a beautiful lady, who every day
of her life was accustomed to live in a splendor which it seemed to Jack
could not be exceeded even by royal state. Had Mrs. Clifton been Queen
Victoria herself, he could not have felt a profounder respect and
veneration for her than he did already.
"Now, Jack," said Mrs. Clifton, in a friendly manner which delighted our
hero, "we must take measures to discover Ida immediately. I want you to
tell me about her disappearance from your house, and what steps you have
taken thus far toward finding her."
Jack began at the beginning and described the appearance of Mrs.
Hardwick; how she had been permitted to carry Ida away under false
representations, and the manner in which he had tracked her to
Philadelphia. He spoke finally of her arrest, and her obstinate refusal
to impart any information as to where Ida was concealed.
Mrs. Clifton listened attentively and anxiously. There were more
difficulties in the way than she had supposed.
"Can you think of any plan, Jack?" she asked, anxiously.
"Yes, madam," answered Jack. "The man who painted the picture of Ida may
know where she is to be found."
"You are right," said the lady. "I will act upon your hint. I will order
the carriage again instantly, and we will at once go back to the print
An hour later Henry Bowen was surprised by the visit of an elegant lady
to his studio, accompanied by a young man of seventeen.
"I think you are the artist who designed 'The Flower Girl,'" said Mrs.
"I am, madam."
"It was taken from life?"
"You are right."
"I am anxious to find the little girl whose face you copied. Can you
give me any directions that will enable me to find her?"
"I will accompany you to the place where she lives, if you desire it,
madam," said the young artist, politely. "It is a strange neighborhood
in which to look for so much beauty."
"I shall be deeply indebted to you if you will oblige me so far," said
Mrs. Clifton. "My carriage is below, and my coachman will obey your
Once more they were on the move. In due time the carriage paused. The
driver opened the door. He was evidently quite scandalized at the idea
of bringing his mistress to such a place.
"This can't be the place, madam," he said.
"Yes," said the artist. "Do not get out, Mrs. Clifton. I will go in, and
find out all that is needful."
Two minutes later he returned, looking disappointed.
"We are too late," he said. "An hour since a gentleman called, and took
away the child."
Mrs. Clifton sank back in her seat in keen disappointment.
"My child! my child!" she murmured. "Shall I ever see thee again?"
Jack, too, felt more disappointed than he was willing to acknowledge. He
could not conjecture what gentleman could have carried away Ida. The
affair seemed darker and mere complicated than ever.
IDA IS FOUND
Ida was sitting alone in the dreary apartment which she was now obliged
to call home. Peg had gone out, and, not feeling quite certain of her
prey, had bolted the door on the outside. She had left some work for the
child--some handkerchiefs to hem for Dick--with strict orders to keep
steadily at work.
While seated at work, she was aroused from thoughts of home by a knock
at the door.
"Who's there?" asked Ida.
"A friend," was the reply.
"Mrs. Hardwick--Peg--isn't at home," returned Ida.
"Then I will come in and wait till she comes back," answered the voice
"I can't open the door," said the child. "It's fastened outside."
"Yes, so I see. Then I will take the liberty to draw the bolt."
Mr. John Somerville opened the door, and for the first time in seven
years his glance fell upon the child whom for so long a time he had
defrauded of a mother's care and tenderness.
Ida returned to the window.
"How beautiful she is!" thought Somerville, with surprise. "She inherits
all her mother's rare beauty."
On the table beside Ida was a drawing. "Whose is this?" he inquired.
"Mine," answered Ida.
"So you have learned to draw?"
"A little," answered the child, modestly.
"Who taught you? Not the woman you live with?"
"No," said Ida.
"You have not always lived with her, I am sure?"
"You lived in New York with a family named Harding, did you not?"
"Do you know father and mother?" asked Ida, with sudden hope. "Did they
send you for me?"
"I will tell you that by and by, my child. But I want to ask you a few
questions first. Why does this woman, Peg, lock you in whenever she goes
"I suppose," said Ida, "she is afraid I'll run away."
"Then she knows you don't want to live with her?"
"Oh, yes, she knows that," said the child, frankly. "I have asked her to
take me home, but she says she won't for a year."
"And how long have you been with her?"
"About three weeks, but it seems a great deal longer."
"What does she make you do?"
"I can't tell what she made me do first."
"Because she would be very angry."
"Suppose I should promise to deliver you from her, would you be willing
to go with me?"
"And you would carry me back to my father and mother?" asked Ida,
"Certainly, I would restore you to your mother," was the evasive reply.
"Then I will go with you."
Ida ran quickly to get her bonnet and shawl.
"We had better go at once," said Somerville. "Peg might return, you
know, and then there would be trouble."
"Oh, yes, let us go quickly," said Ida, turning pale at the remembered
threats of Peg.
Neither knew as yet that Peg could not return if she would; that, at
this very moment, she was in legal custody on a charge of a serious
nature. Still less did Ida know that in going she was losing the chance
of seeing Jack and her real mother, of whose existence, even, she was
not yet aware; and that this man, whom she looked upon as her friend,
was in reality her worst enemy.
"I will conduct you to my own rooms, in the first place," said her
companion. "You must remain in concealment for a day or two, as Peg will
undoubtedly be on the look-out for you, and we want to avoid all
Ida was delighted with her escape, and with the thoughts of soon seeing
her friends in New York. She put implicit faith in her guide, and was
willing to submit to any conditions which he saw fit to impose.
At length they reached his lodgings.
They were furnished more richly than any room Ida had yet seen; and
formed, indeed, a luxurious contrast to the dark and scantily furnished
apartment which she had occupied since her arrival in Philadelphia.
"Well, you are glad to get away from Peg?" asked John Somerville, giving
Ida a comfortable seat.
"Oh, so glad!" said Ida.
"And you wouldn't care about going back?"
The child shuddered.
"I suppose," she said, "Peg will be very angry. She would beat me, if
she got me back again."
"But she shan't. I will take good care of that."
Ida looked her gratitude. Her heart went out to those who appeared to
deal kindly with her, and she felt very grateful to her companion for
delivering her from Peg.
"Now," said Somerville, "perhaps you will be willing to tell me what it
was Peg required you to do."
"Yes," said Ida; "but she must never know that I told."
"I promise not to tell her."
"It was to pass bad money."
"Ha!" exclaimed her companion, quickly. "What sort of bad money?"
"It was bad bills."
"Did she do much in that way?"
"A good deal. She goes out every day to buy things with the money."
"I am glad to learn this," said John Somerville, thoughtfully.
"Why?" asked Ida, curiously; "are you glad she is wicked?"
"I am glad, because she won't dare to come for you, knowing I can have
her put in prison."
"Then I am glad, too."
"Ida," said her companion, after a pause, "I am obliged to go out for a
short time. You will find books on the table, and can amuse yourself by
reading. I won't make you sew, as Peg did," he added, smiling.
"I like to read," she said. "I shall enjoy myself very well."
"If you get tired of reading, you can draw. You will find plenty of
paper on my desk."
Mr. Somerville went out, and Ida, as he had recommended, read for a
time. Then, growing tired, she went to the window and looked out. A
carriage was passing up the street slowly, on account of a press of
other carriages. Ida saw a face that she knew. Forgetting her bonnet in
her sudden joy, she ran down the stairs into the street, and up to the
"Oh! Jack!" she exclaimed; "have you come for me?"
It was Mrs. Clifton's carriage, just returning from Peg's lodgings.
"Why, it's Ida!" exclaimed Jack, almost springing through the window of
the carriage in his excitement. "Where did you come from, and where have
you been all this time?"
He opened the door of the carriage and drew Ida in.
"My child, my child! Thank God, you are restored to me!" exclaimed Mrs.
She drew the astonished child to her bosom. Ida looked up into her face
in bewilderment. Was it nature that prompted her to return the lady's
"My God! I thank thee!" murmured Mrs. Clifton, "for this, my child, was
lost, and is found."
"Ida," said Jack, "this lady is your mother."
"My mother!" repeated the astonished child. "Have I got two mothers?"
"This is your real mother. You were brought to our house when you were
an infant, and we have always taken care of you; but this lady is your
Ida hardly knew whether to feel glad or sorry.
"And you are not my brother, Jack?"
"No, I am your guardian," said Jack, smiling.
"You shall still consider him your brother, Ida," said Mrs. Clifton.
"Heaven forbid that I should seek to wean your heart from the friends
who have cared so kindly for you! You may keep all your old friends, and
love them as dearly as ever. You will only have one friend the more."
"Where are we going?" asked Ida, suddenly.
"We are going home."
"What will the gentleman say?"
"The one that took me away from Peg's. Why, there he is now!"
Mrs. Clifton followed the direction of Ida's finger, as she pointed to a
"Is he the one?" asked Mrs. Clifton, in surprise.
"Yes, mamma," answered Ida, shyly.
Mrs. Clifton pressed Ida to her bosom. It was the first time she had
ever been called mamma, for when Ida had been taken from her she was too
young to speak. The sudden thrill which this name excited made her
realize the full measure of her present happiness.
Arrived at the house, Jack's bashfulness returned. Even Ida's presence
did not remove it. He hung back, and hesitated about going in.
Mrs. Clifton observed this.
"Jack," she said, "this house is to be your home while you are in
Philadelphia. Come in, and Thomas shall go for your luggage."
"Perhaps I had better go with him," said Jack. "Uncle Abel will be glad
to know that Ida is found."
"Very well; only return soon. As you are Ida's guardian," she added,
smiling, "you will need to watch over her."
"Well!" thought Jack, as he re-entered the elegant carriage, and gave
the proper direction to the coachman, "won't Uncle Abel be a little
surprised when he sees me coming home in this style! Mrs. Clifton's a
trump! Maybe that ain't exactly the word, but Ida's in luck anyhow."
NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND
Meanwhile Peg was passing her time wearily enough in prison. It was
certainly provoking to be deprived of her freedom just when she was
likely to make it most profitable. After some reflection she determined
to send for Mrs. Clifton, and reveal to her all she knew, trusting to
her generosity for a recompense.
To one of the officers of the prison she communicated the intelligence
that she had an important revelation to make to Mrs. Clifton, absolutely
refusing to make it unless the lady would visit her in prison.
Scarcely had Mrs. Clifton returned home after recovering her child, than
the bell rang, and a stranger was introduced.
"Is this Mrs. Clifton?" he inquired.
"Then I have a message for you."
The lady looked at him inquiringly.
"Let me introduce myself, madam, as one of the officers connected with
the city prison. A woman was placed in confinement this morning, who
says she has a most important communication to make to you, but declines
to make it except to you in person."
"Can you bring her here, sir?"
"That is impossible. We will give you every facility, however, for
visiting her in prison."
"It must be Peg," whispered Ida--"the woman that carried me off."
Such a request Mrs. Clifton could not refuse. She at once made ready to
accompany the officer. She resolved to carry Ida with her, fearful that,
unless she kept her in her immediate presence, she might disappear again
As Jack had not yet returned, a hack was summoned, and they proceeded at
once to the prison. Ida shuddered as she passed within the gloomy portal
which shut out hope and the world from so many.
"This way, madam!"
They followed the officer through a gloomy corridor, until they came to
the cell in which Peg was confined.
Peg looked up in surprise when she saw Ida enter with Mrs. Clifton.
"What brought you two together?" she asked, abruptly.
"A blessed Providence," answered Mrs. Clifton.
"I saw Jack with her," said Ida, "and I ran out into the street. I
didn't expect to find my mother."
"There is not much for me to tell, then," said Peg. "I had made up my
mind to restore you to your mother. You see, Ida, I've moved," she
continued, smiling grimly.
"Oh, Peg," said Ida, her tender heart melted by the woman's misfortunes,
"how sorry I am to find you here!"
"Are you sorry?" asked Peg, looking at her in curious surprise. "You
haven't much cause to be. I've been your worst enemy; at any rate, one
of the worst."
"I can't help it," said the child, her face beaming with a divine
compassion. "It must be so sad to be shut up here, and not be able to go
out into the bright sunshine. I do pity you."
Peg's heart was not wholly hardened. Few are. But it was long since it
had been touched, as now, by this warm-hearted pity on the part of one
whom she had injured.
"You're a good girl, Ida," she said, "and I'm sorry I've injured you. I
didn't think I should ever ask forgiveness of anybody; but I do ask your
The child rose, and advancing toward her old enemy, took her large hand
in hers and said: "I forgive you, Peg."
"From your heart?"
"With all my heart."
"Thank you, child. I feel better now. There have been times when I have
thought I should like to lead a better life."
"It is not too late now, Peg."
Peg shook her head.
"Who will trust me when I come out of here?" she said.
"I will," said Mrs. Clifton.
"You will?" repeated Peg, amazed.
"After all I have done to harm you! But I am not quite so bad as you may
think. It was not my plan to take Ida from you. I was poor, and money
"Who could have had an interest in doing me this cruel wrong?" asked the
"One whom you know well--Mr. John Somerville."
"Surely you are wrong!" exclaimed Mrs. Clifton, in unbounded
astonishment. "That cannot be. What object could he have?"
"Can you think of none?" queried Peg, looking at her shrewdly.
Mrs. Clifton changed color.
"Perhaps so," she said. "Go on."
Peg told the whole story, so circumstantially that there was no room for
"I did not believe him capable of such great wickedness," ejaculated
Mrs. Clifton, with a pained and indignant look. "It was a base, unmanly
revenge to take. How could you lend yourself to it?"
"How could I?" repeated Peg. "Madam, you are rich. You have always had
whatever wealth could procure. How can such as you understand the
temptations of the poor? When want and hunger stare us in the face we
have not the strength that you have in your luxurious homes."
"Pardon me," said Mrs. Clifton, touched by these words, half bitter,
half pathetic. "Let me, at any rate, thank you for the service you have
done me now. When you are released from your confinement come to me. If
you wish to change your mode of life, and live honestly henceforth, I
will give you the chance."
"After all the injury I have done you, you are yet willing to trust me?"
"Who am I that I should condemn you? Yes, I will trust you, and forgive
"I never expected to hear such words," said Peg, her heart softened, and
her arid eyes moistened by unwonted emotion; "least of all from you. I
should like to ask one thing."
"What is it?"
"Will you let her come and see me sometimes?" pointing to Ida as she
spoke. "It will remind me that this is not all a dream--these words
which you have spoken."
"She shall come," said Mrs. Clifton, "and I will come too, sometimes."
They left the prison behind them, and returned home.
There was a visitor awaiting them.
"Mr. Somerville is in the drawing room," said the servant. "He said he
would wait till you came in."
Mrs. Clifton's face flushed.
"I will go down and see him," she said. "Ida, you will remain here."
She descended to the drawing room, and met the man who had injured her.
He had come with the resolve to stake his all upon one desperate cast.
His fortunes were desperate. But he had one hope left. Through the
mother's love for the daughter, whom she had mourned so long, whom as he
believed he had it in his power to restore to her, he hoped to obtain
her consent to a marriage which would retrieve his fortunes and gratify
Mrs. Clifton entered the room, and seated herself quietly. She bowed
slightly, but did not, as usual, offer her hand. But, full of his own
plans, Mr. Somerville took no note of this change in her manner.
"How long is it since Ida was lost?" inquired Somerville, abruptly.
Mrs. Clifton heard this question in surprise. Why was it that he had
alluded to this subject?
"Seven years," she answered.
"And you believe she yet lives?"
"Yes, I am certain of it."
John Somerville did not understand her. He thought it was only because a
mother is reluctant to give up hope.
"It is a long time," he said.
"It is--a long time to suffer," said Mrs. Clifton, with deep meaning.
"How could anyone have the heart to work me this great injury? For seven
years I have led a sad and solitary life--seven years that might have
been gladdened and cheered by my darling's presence!"
There was something in her tone that puzzled John Somerville, but he was
far enough from suspecting that she knew the truth, and at last knew him
"Rosa," he said, after a pause, "I, too, believe that Ida still lives.
Do you love her well enough to make a sacrifice for the sake of
"What sacrifice?" she asked, fixing her eye upon him.
"A sacrifice of your feelings."
"Explain. You speak in enigmas."
"Listen, then. I have already told you that I, too, believe Ida to be
living. Indeed, I have lately come upon a clew which I think will lead
me to her. Withdraw the opposition you have twice made to my suit,
promise me that you will reward my affection by your hand if I succeed,
and I will devote myself to the search for Ida, resting not day or night
till I have placed her in your arms. This I am ready to do. If I
succeed, may I claim my reward?"
"What reason have you for thinking you would be able to find her?" asked
Mrs. Clifton, with the same inexplicable manner.
"The clew that I spoke of."
"And are you not generous enough to exert yourself without demanding of
me this sacrifice?"
"No, Rosa," he answered, firmly, "I am not unselfish enough. I have long
loved you. You may not love me; but I am sure I can make you happy. I am
forced to show myself selfish, since it is the only way in which I can
"But consider a moment. Put it on a different ground. If you restore me
my child now, will not even that be a poor atonement for the wrong you
did me seven years since"--she spoke rapidly now--"for the grief, and
loneliness, and sorrow which your wickedness and cruelty have wrought?"
"I do not understand you," he said, faltering.
"It is sufficient explanation, Mr. Somerville, to say I have seen the
woman who is now in prison--your paid agent--and that I need no
assistance to recover Ida. She is in my house."
He uttered only this word, and, rising, left the presence of the woman
whom he had so long deceived and injured.
His grand scheme had failed.
It is quite time to return to New York, from which Ida was carried but
three short weeks before.
"I am beginning to feel anxious about Jack," said Mrs. Harding. "It's
more than a week since we heard from him. I'm afraid he's got into some
"Probably he's too busy to write," said the cooper, wishing to relieve
his wife's anxiety, though he, too, was not without anxiety.
"I told you so," said Rachel, in one of her usual fits of depression.
"I told you Jack wasn't fit to be sent on such an errand. If you'd only
taken my advice you wouldn't have had so much worry and trouble about
him now. Most likely he's got into the House of Reformation, or
somewhere. I knew a young man once who went away from home, and never
came back again. Nobody ever knew what became of him till his body was
found in the river half eaten by fishes."
"How can you talk so, Rachel?" said Mrs. Harding, "and about your own
"This is a world of trial and disappointment," said Rachel, "and we
might as well expect the worst, for it's sure to come."
"At that rate there wouldn't be much joy in life," said Timothy.
"No, Rachel, you are wrong. God did not send us into the world to be
melancholy. He wants us to enjoy ourselves. Now, I have no idea that
Jack has jumped into the river, or become food for the fishes. Even if
he should happen to tumble in, he can swim."
"I suppose," said Rachel, with mild sarcasm, "you expect him to come
home in a coach and four, bringing Ida with him."
"Well," said the cooper, good-humoredly, "that's a good deal better to
anticipate than your suggestion, and I don't know but it's as probable."
Rachel shook her head dismally.
"Bless me!" interrupted Mrs. Harding, looking out of the window, in a
tone of excitement, "there's a carriage just stopped at the door,
and--yes, it is Jack and Ida, too!"
The strange fulfillment of her own ironical suggestion struck even Aunt
Rachel. She, too, hastened to the window, and saw a handsome carriage
drawn, not by four horses, but by two, standing before the door.
Jack had already jumped out, and was now assisting Ida to alight. No
sooner was Ida on firm ground than she ran into the house, and was at
once clasped in the arms of her adopted mother.
"Oh, mother," she exclaimed, "how glad I am to see you once more!"
"Haven't you a kiss for me, too, Ida?" said the cooper, his face radiant
with joy. "You don't know how much we've missed you."
"And I am so glad to see you all, and Aunt Rachel too!"
To her astonishment, Aunt Rachel, for the first time in her remembrance,
kissed her. There was nothing wanting to her welcome home.
But the observant eyes of the spinster detected what had escaped the
cooper and his wife, in their joy at Ida's return.
"Where did you get this handsome dress, Ida?" she asked.
Then, for the first time, the cooper's family noticed that Ida was more
elegantly dressed than when she went away. She looked like a young
"That Mrs. Hardwick didn't give you this gown, I'll be bound!" said Aunt
"Oh, I've so much to tell you," said Ida, breathlessly. "I've found my
mother--my other mother!"
A pang struck to the honest hearts of Timothy Harding and his wife. Ida
must leave them. After all the happy years which they had watched over
and cared for her, she must leave them at length.
While they were silent in view of their threatened loss, an elegantly
dressed lady appeared on the threshold. Smiling, radiant with happiness,
Mrs. Clifton seemed, to the cooper's family, almost a being from another
"Mother," said Ida, taking the hand of the stranger, and leading her up
to Mrs. Harding, "this is my other mother, who has always taken such
good care of me, and loved me so well."
"Mrs. Harding," said Mrs, Clifton, her voice full of feeling, "how can I
ever thank you for your kindness to my child?"
It was hard for Mrs. Harding to hear another speak of Ida this way.
"I have tried to do my duty by her," she said, simply. "I love her as if
she were my own."
"Yes," said the cooper, clearing his throat, and speaking a little
huskily, "we love her so much that we almost forgot that she wasn't
ours. We have had her since she was a baby, and it won't be easy at
first to give her up."
"My good friends," said Mrs. Clifton, earnestly, "I acknowledge your
claim. I shall not think of asking you to make that sacrifice. I shall
always think of Ida as only a little less yours than mine."
The cooper shook his head.
"But you live in Philadelphia," he said. "We shall lose sight of her."
"Not unless you refuse to come to Philadelphia, too."
"I am a poor man. Perhaps I might not find work there."
"That shall be my care, Mr. Harding. I have another inducement to offer.
God has bestowed upon me a large share of this world's goods. I am
thankful for it since it will enable me in some slight way to express my
sense of your great kindness to Ida. I own a neat brick house, in a
quiet street, which you will find more comfortable than this. Just
before I left Philadelphia, my lawyer, by my directions, drew up a deed
of gift, conveying the house to you. It is Ida's gift, not mine. Ida,
give this to Mr. Harding."
The child took the parchment and handed it to the cooper, who took it
mechanically, quite bewildered by his sudden good fortune.
"This for me?" he said.
"It is the first installment of my debt of gratitude; it shall not be
the last," said Mrs. Clifton.
"How shall I thank you, madam?" said the cooper. "To a poor man, like
me, this is a most munificent gift."
"You will best thank me by accepting it," said Mrs. Clifton. "Let me
add, for I know it will enhance the value of the gift in your eyes, that
it is only five minutes' walk from my house, and Ida will come and see
you every day."
"Yes, mamma," said Ida. "I couldn't be happy away from father and
mother, and Jack and Aunt Rachel."
"You must introduce me to Aunt Rachel," said Mrs. Clifton, with a grace
all her own.
Ida did so.
"I am glad to make your acquaintance, Miss Rachel," said Mrs. Clifton.
"I need not say that I shall be glad to see you, as well as Mr. and Mrs.
Harding, at my house very frequently."
"I'm much obleeged to ye," said Aunt Rachel; "but I don't think I shall
live long to go anywheres. The feelin's I have sometimes warn me that
I'm not long for this world."
"You see, Mrs. Clifton," said Jack, his eyes dancing with mischief, "we
come of a short-lived family. Grandmother died at eighty-two, and that
wouldn't give Aunt Rachel long to live."
"You impudent boy!" exclaimed Aunt Rachel, in great indignation. Then,
relapsing into melancholy: "I'm a poor, afflicted creetur, and the
sooner I leave this scene of trial the better."
"I'm afraid, Mrs. Clifton," said Jack, "Aunt Rachel won't live to wear
that silk dress you brought along. I'd take it myself, but I'm afraid it
wouldn't be of any use to me."
"A silk dress!" exclaimed Rachel, looking up with sudden animation.
It had long been her desire to have a new silk dress, but in her
brother's circumstances she had not ventured to hint at it.
"Yes," said Mrs. Clifton, "I ventured to purchase dresses for both of
the ladies. Jack, if it won't be too much trouble, will you bring them
Jack darted out, and returned with two ample patterns of heavy black
silk, one for his mother, the other for his aunt. Aunt Rachel would not
have been human if she had not eagerly examined the rich fabric with
secret satisfaction. She inwardly resolved to live a little longer.
There was a marked improvement in her spirits, and she indulged in no
prognostications of evil for an unusual period.
Mrs. Clifton and Ida stopped to supper, and before they returned to the
hotel an early date was fixed upon for the Hardings to remove to
In the evening Jack told the eventful story of his adventures to eager
listeners, closing with the welcome news that he was to receive the
reward of a thousand dollars offered for the detection of the
"So you see, father, I am a man of fortune!" he concluded.
"After all, Rachel, it was a good thing we sent Jack to Philadelphia,"
said the cooper.
Rachel did not notice this remark. She was busily discussing with her
sister-in-law the best way of making up her new silk.
As soon as arrangements could be made, Mr. Harding and his whole family
removed to Philadelphia. The house which Mrs. Clifton had given them
exceeded their anticipations. It was so much better and larger than
their former dwelling that their furniture would have appeared to great
disadvantage in it. But Mrs. Clifton had foreseen this, and they found
the house already furnished for their reception. Even Aunt Rachel was
temporarily exhilarated in spirits when she was ushered into the neatly
furnished chamber which was assigned to her use.
Through Mrs. Clifton's influence the cooper was enabled to establish
himself in business on a larger scale, and employ others, instead of
working himself for hire. Ida was such a frequent visitor that it was
hard to tell which she considered her home--her mother's elegant
residence, or the cooper's comfortable dwelling.
Jack put his thousand dollars into a savings bank, to accumulate till he
should be ready to go into business for himself, and required it as
capital. A situation was found for him in a merchant's counting-room, and
in due time he was admitted into partnership and became a thriving young
Ida grew lovelier as she grew older, and her rare beauty and attractive
manners caused her to be sought after. It may be that some of my readers
are expecting that she will marry Jack; but they will probably be
disappointed. They are too much like brother and sister for such a
relation to be thought of. Jack reminds her occasionally of the time
when she was his little ward, and he was her guardian and protector.
One day, as Rachel was walking up Chestnut Street, she was astonished by
a hearty grasp of the hand from a bronzed and weather-beaten stranger.
"Release me, sir," she said, hysterically. "What do you mean by such
"Surely you have not forgotten your old friend, Capt. Bowling," said the
Rachel brightened up.
"I didn't remember you at first," she said, "but now I do."
"Now tell me, how are all your family?"
"They are all well, all except me--I don't think I am long for this
"Oh, yes, you are. You are too young to think of leaving us yet," said
Capt. Bowling, heartily.
Rachel was gratified by this unusual compliment.
"Are you married?" asked Capt. Bowling, abruptly.
"I shall never marry," she said. "I shouldn't dare to trust my happiness
to a man."
"Not if I were that man?" said the captain, persuasively.
"Oh, Capt. Bowling!" murmured Rachel, agitated. "How can you say such
"I'll tell you why, Miss Harding. I'm going to give up the sea, and
settle down on land. I shall need a good, sensible wife, and if you'll
take me, I'll make you Mrs. Bowling at once."
"This is so unexpected, Capt. Bowling," said Rachel; but she did not
look displeased. "Do you think it would be proper to marry so suddenly?"
"It will be just the thing to do. Now, what do you say--yes or no."
"If you really think it will be right," faltered the agitated spinster.
"Then it's all settled?"
"What will Timothy say?"
"That you've done a sensible thing."
Two hours later, leaning on Capt. Bowling's arm, Mrs. Rachel Bowling
re-entered her brother's house.
"Why, Rachel, where have you been?" asked Mrs. Harding, and she looked
hard at Rachel's companion.
"This is my consort, Capt. Bowling," said Rachel, nervously.
"This is Mrs. Bowling, ma'am," said the captain.
"When were you married?" asked the cooper. It was dinner time, and both
he and Jack were at home.
"Only an hour ago. We'd have invited you, but time was pressing."
"I thought you never meant to be married, Aunt Rachel," said Jack,
"I--I don't expect to live long, and it won't make much difference,"
"You'll have to consult me about that," said Capt. Bowling. "I don't
want you to leave me a widower too soon."
"I propose that we drink Mrs. Bowling's health," said Jack. "Can anybody
tell me why she's like a good ship?"
"Because she's got a good captain," said Mrs. Harding.
"That'll do, mother; but there's another reason--because she's well
Capt. Bowling evidently appreciated the joke, judging from his hearty
laughter. He added that it wouldn't be his fault if she wasn't well
The marriage has turned out favorably. The captain looks upon his wife
as a superior woman, and Rachel herself has few fits of depression
nowadays. They have taken a small house near Mr. Harding's, and Rachel
takes no little pride in her snug and comfortable home.
One word more. At the close of her term of imprisonment, Peg came to
Mrs. Clifton and reminded her of her promise. Dick was dead, and she was
left alone in the world. Imprisonment had not hardened her, as it often
does. She had been redeemed by the kindness of those whom she had
injured. Mrs. Clifton found her a position, in which her energy and
administrative ability found fitting exercise, and she leads a laborious
and useful life in a community where her history is not known. As for
John Somerville, with the last remnants of a once handsome fortune, he
purchased a ticket to Australia, and set out on a voyage for that
distant country. But he never reached his destination. The vessel was
wrecked in a violent storm, and he was not among the four that were
saved. Henceforth Ida and her mother are far from his evil machinations,
and we may confidently hope for them a happy and peaceful life.
The next volume in this series will be SHIFTING FOR HIMSELF.