Meanwhile Jack reached the park, and from a distance surveyed with satisfaction the evident nervousness of his aunt.
“Ain’t it rich?” he whispered to himself.
Rachel looked anxiously for the gentleman with the red rose pinned to his coat.
She had to wait ten minutes. At last he came, but as he neared her seat, Rachel felt like sinking into the earth with mortification when she recognized in the wearer a stalwart negro. She hoped that it was a mere chance coincidence, but he approached her, and raising his hat respectfully, said:
“Are you Miss Harding?”
“What if I am?” she demanded, sharply. “What have you to do with me?”
The man looked surprised.
“Didn’t you send word to me to meet you here?”
“No!” answered Rachel, “and I consider it very presumptuous in you to write such a letter to me.”
“I didn’t write you a letter,” said the negro, astonished.
“Then what made you come here?” demanded the spinster.
“Because you wrote to me.”
“I wrote to you!” exclaimed Rachel, aghast.
“Yes, you wrote to me to come here. You said you’d wear a blue ribbon on your neck, and I was to have a rose pinned to my coat.”
Rachel was bewildered.
“How could I write to you when I never saw you before, and don’t know your name. Do you think a lady like me would marry a colored man?”
“Who said anything about that?” asked the other, opening his eyes wide in astonishment. “I couldn’t marry, nohow, for I’ve got a wife and four children.”
Rachel felt ready to collapse. Was it possible that she had made a mistake, and that this was not her unknown correspondent, Daniel?
“There is some mistake,” she said, nervously. “Where is that letter you thought I wrote? Have you got it with you?”
“Here it is, ma’am.”
He handed Rachel a letter addressed in a small hand to Daniel Thompson.
She opened it and read:
“Mr. Thompson: I hear you are out of work. I may be able to give you a job. Meet me at Washington Park, Tuesday afternoon, at four o’clock. I shall wear a blue ribbon round my neck, and you may have a red rose pinned to your coat. Otherwise I might not know you.
“Some villain has done this,” said Rachel, wrathfully. “I never wrote that letter.”
“You didn’t!” said Daniel, looking perplexed. “Who went and did it, then?”
“I don’t know, but I’d like to have him punished for it,” said Rachel, energetically.
“But you’ve got a blue ribbon,” said Mr. Thompson. “I can’t see through that. That’s just what the letter said.”
“I suppose somebody wrote the letter that knew I wear blue. It’s all a mistake. You’d better go home.”
“Then haven’t you got a job for me?” asked Daniel, disappointed.