Timothy was warned, by experience of Rachel’s temper, that silence was his most prudent course. Anything that he might say would only be likely to make matters worse than before.
Aunt Rachel sank into a fit of deep despondency, and did not say another word till dinner time. She sat down to the table with a profound sigh, as if there was little in life worth living for. Notwithstanding this, it was observed that she had a good appetite. Indeed, Miss Harding appeared to thrive on her gloomy views of life and human nature. She was, it must be acknowledged, perfectly consistent in all her conduct, so far as this peculiarity was concerned. Whenever she took up a newspaper, she always looked first to the space appropriated to deaths, and next in order to the column of accidents, casualties, etc., and her spirits were visibly exhilarated when she encountered a familiar name in either list.
The cooper continued to look out for work; but it was with a more cheerful spirit. He did not now feel as if the comfort of his family depended absolutely on his immediate success. Used economically, the money he had by him would last eight months; and during that time it was hardly possible that he should not find something to do. It was this sense of security, of having something to fall back upon, that enabled him to keep up good heart. It is too generally the case that people are content to live as if they were sure of constantly retaining their health, and never losing their employment. When a reverse does come, they are at once plunged into discouragement, and feel the necessity of doing something immediately. There is only one way of fending off such an embarrassment; and that is, to resolve, whatever may be the amount of one’s income, to lay aside some part to serve as a reliance in time of trouble. A little economy—though it involves self-denial—will be well repaid by the feeling of security it engenders.
Mr. Harding was not compelled to remain inactive as long as he feared. Not that his line of business revived—that still remained depressed for a considerable time—but another path was opened to him.
Returning home late one evening, the cooper saw a man steal out from a doorway, and attack a gentleman, whose dress and general appearance indicated probable wealth.
Seizing him by the throat, the villain effectually prevented his calling for help, and at once commenced rifling his pockets, when the cooper arrived on the scene. A sudden blow admonished the robber that he had more than one to deal with.
“What are you doing? Let that gentleman be!”
The villain hesitated but a moment, then springing to his feet, he hastily made off, under cover of the darkness.
“I hope you have received no injury, sir,” said Mr. Harding, respectfully, addressing the stranger he had rescued.
“No, my worthy friend; thanks to your timely assistance. The rascal nearly succeeded, however.”