“Probably it will die,” said Rachel, mournfully. “It’s very hard to raise children. There’s something unhealthy in its looks.”
“It don’t seem to me so. It looks plump and healthy.”
“You can’t never judge by appearances. You ought to know that, Martha.”
“I will take the risk, Rachel.”
“I don’t see what you are going to do with a baby, when we are all on the verge of starvation, and going to be turned into the street this very day,” remarked Rachel, despondently.
“We won’t think of that just now. Common humanity requires us to see what we can do for the poor child.”
So saying, Mrs. Harding took the infant in her arms. The child opened its eyes, and smiled.
“My! here’s a letter,” said Jack, diving into the bottom of the basket. “It’s directed to you, father.”
The cooper opened the letter, and read as follows:
“For reasons which it is unnecessary to state, the guardians of this child find it expedient to intrust it to others to bring up. The good account which they have heard of you has led them to select you for that charge. No further explanation is necessary, except that it is by no means their intention to make this a service of charity. They, therefore, inclose a certificate of deposit on the Broadway Bank of five hundred dollars, the same having been paid in to your credit. Each year, while the child remains in your charge, the same will in like manner be placed to your credit at the same bank. It may be as well to state, further, that all attempt to fathom whatever of mystery may attach to this affair will prove useless.”
The letter was read in amazement. The certificate of deposit, which had fallen to the floor, was picked up by Jack, and handed to his father.
Amazement was followed by a feeling of gratitude and relief.
“What could be more fortunate?” exclaimed Mrs. Harding. “Surely, Timothy, our faith has been rewarded.”
“God has listened to our cry!” said the cooper, devoutly, “and in the hour of our sorest need He has remembered us.”
“Isn’t it prime?” said Jack, gleefully; “five hundred dollars! Ain’t we rich, Aunt Rachel?”
“Like as not,” observed Rachel, “the certificate isn’t genuine. It doesn’t look natural it should be. I’ve heard of counterfeits afore now. I shouldn’t be surprised at all if Timothy got took up for presenting it.”
“I’ll take the risk,” said her brother, who did not seem much alarmed at the suggestion.
“Now you’ll be able to pay the rent, Timothy,” said Mrs. Harding, cheerfully.
“Yes, and it’s the last quarter’s rent I mean to pay Mr. Colman, if I can help it.”
“Why, where are you going?” asked Jack.
“To the house belonging to Mr. Harrison that I spoke of last night, that is, if it isn’t already engaged. I think I will see about it at once. If Mr. Colman should come in while I am gone, tell him I will be back directly; I don’t want you to tell him of the change in our circumstances.”