“What?” asked Rachel, with melancholy curiosity.
“A pair of spectacles.”
“Spectacles!” retorted Rachel, indignantly. “It will be a good many years before I am old enough to wear spectacles. I didn’t expect to be insulted by my own brother. But I ought not to be surprised. It’s one of my trials.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, Rachel,” said the cooper, perplexed.
“Good-night!” said Rachel, rising and taking a lamp from the table.
“Come, Rachel, don’t go up to bed yet; it’s only nine o’clock.”
“After what you have said to me, Timothy, my self-respect will not allow me to stay.”
Rachel swept out of the room with something more than her customary melancholy.
“I wish Rachel wasn’t quite so contrary,” said the cooper to his wife. “She turns upon a body so sudden it’s hard to know how to take her. How’s the little girl, Martha?”
“She’s been asleep ever since six o’clock.”
“I hope you don’t find her very much trouble? That all comes on you, while we have the benefit of the money.”
“I don’t think of that, Timothy. She is a sweet child, and I love her almost as much as if she were my own. As for Jack, he perfectly idolizes her.”
“And how does Rachel look upon her?”
“I am afraid she will never be a favorite with Rachel.”
“Rachel never took to children much. It isn’t her way. Now, Martha, while you are sewing, I will read you the news.”
WHAT THE ENVELOPE CONTAINED
The card which had been handed to the cooper contained the name of Thomas Merriam, No. —— Pearl Street.
Punctually at twelve, he presented himself at the countingroom, and received a cordial welcome from the merchant.
“I am glad to see you,” he said, affably. “You rendered me an important service last evening, even if the loss of money alone was to be apprehended. I will come to business at once, as I am particularly engaged this morning, and ask you if there is any way in which I can serve you?”
“If you could procure me a situation, sir, you would do me a great service.”
“I think you told me you were a cooper?”
“Does this yield you a good support?”
“In good times it pays me two dollars a day, and on that I can support my family comfortably. Lately it has been depressed, and paid me but a dollar and a half.”
“When do you anticipate its revival?”
“That is uncertain. I may have to wait some months.”
“And, in the meantime, you are willing to undertake some other employment?”
“I am not only willing, but shall feel very fortunate to obtain work of any kind. I have no objection to any honest employment.”
Mr. Merriam reflected a moment.
“Just at present,” he said, “I have nothing better to offer you than the position of porter. If that will suit you, you can enter upon its duties to-morrow.”