“I never knew Aunt Rachel to be jolly but once,” said Jack under his breath; “and that was at a funeral.”
One of the first results of the new prosperity which had dawned upon the Hardings, was Jack’s removal from the street to the school. While his father was out of employment, his earnings seemed necessary; but now they could be dispensed with.
To Jack, the change was not altogether agreeable. Few boys of the immature age of eleven are devoted to study, and Jack was not one of these few. The freedom which he had enjoyed suited him, and he tried to impress it upon his father that there was no immediate need of his returning to school.
“Do you want to grow up a dunce, Jack?” said his father.
“I can read and write already,” said Jack.
“Are you willing to enter upon life with that scanty supply of knowledge?”
“Oh, I guess I can get along as well as the average.”
“I don’t know about that. Besides, I want you to do better than the average. I am ambitious for you, if you are not ambitious for yourself.”
“I don’t see what good it does a feller to study so hard,” muttered Jack.
“You won’t study hard enough to do you any harm,” said Aunt Rachel, who might be excused for a little sarcasm at the expense of her mischievous nephew.
“It makes my head ache to study,” said Jack.
“Perhaps your head is weak, Jack,” suggested his father, slyly.
“More than likely,” said Rachel, approvingly.
So it was decided that Jack should go to school.
“I’ll get even with Aunt Rachel,” thought he. “She’s always talking against me, and hectorin’ me. See if I don’t.”
An opportunity for getting even with his aunt did not immediately occur. At length a plan suggested itself to our hero. He shrewdly suspected that his aunt’s single blessedness, and her occasional denunciations of the married state, proceeded from disappointment.
“I’ll bet she’d get married if she had a chance,” he thought. “I mean to try her, anyway.”
Accordingly, with considerable effort, aided by a school-fellow, he concocted the following letter, which was duly copied and forwarded to his aunt’s address:
“Dear girl: Excuse the liberty I have taken in writing to you; but I have seen you often, though you don’t know me; and you are the only girl I want to marry. I am not young—I am about your age, thirty-five—and I have a good trade. I have always wanted to be married, but you are the only one I know of to suit me. If you think you can love me, will you meet me in Washington Park, next Tuesday, at four o’clock? Wear a blue ribbon round your neck, if you want to encourage me. I will have a red rose pinned to my coat.
“Don’t say anything to your
brother’s family about this. They may not
like me, and they may try to keep us apart. Now be sure and come.