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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 146 pages of information about Jack's Ward.

“So am I; but I can’t leave mother.”

“Right, my lad; I wouldn’t take you away from her.  But there—­take that, and don’t forget me.”

“You are very kind,” said Jack, as the captain pressed into his hand a five-dollar gold piece.  “May I give it to my mother?”

“Certainly, my lad; you can’t do better.”

Jack stood on the wharf till the vessel was drawn out into the stream by a steam tug.  Then he went home.

CHAPTER VI

THE LANDLORD’S VISIT

It was the night before the New Year.  In many a household in the great city it was a night of happy anticipation.  In the humble home of the Hardings it was an evening of anxious thought, for to-morrow the quarter’s rent was due.

“I haven’t got a dollar to meet the rent, Martha,” said the cooper, in a depressed tone.

“Won’t Mr. Colman wait?”

“I’m afraid not.  You know what sort of a man he is, Martha.  There isn’t much feeling about him.  He cares more for money than anything else.”

“Perhaps you are doing him an injustice.”

“I am afraid not.  Did you never hear how he treated the Underhills?”

“How?”

“Underhill was laid up with rheumatic fever for three months.  The consequence was that when quarter day came round he was in about the same situation with ourselves—­a little worse, even, for his wife was sick also.  But, though Colman was aware of the circumstances, he had no pity; he turned them out without ceremony.”

“Is it possible?” asked Mrs. Harding, uneasily.

“And there’s no reason for his being more lenient with us.  I can’t but feel anxious about to-morrow, Martha.”

At this moment, verifying an old adage, which will perhaps occur to the reader, who should knock but Mr. Colman himself.  Both the cooper and his wife had an instinctive foreboding as to his visit.

He came in, rubbing his hands in a social way, as was his custom.  No one, to look at him, would have suspected the hardness of heart that lay veiled under his velvety softness of manner.

“Good-evening, Mr. Harding,” he said, affably.  “I trust you and your excellent wife are in good health.”

“That blessing, at least, is continued to us,” said the cooper, gravely.

“And how comfortable you’re looking, too, eh!  It makes an old bachelor like me feel lonesome when he contrasts his own solitary room with such a scene of comfort as this.  You’ve got a comfortable home, and dog cheap, too.  All my other tenants are grumbling to think you don’t have to pay any more for such superior accommodations.  I’ve about made up my mind that I must ask you twenty-five dollars a quarter hereafter.”

All this was said very pleasantly, but the pill was none the less bitter.

“It seems to me, Mr. Colman,” answered the cooper, soberly, “you have chosen rather a singular time for raising the rent.”

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