“I wonder why Jack don’t come home?” said Mrs. Harding, looking at the clock. “He’s generally here at this time.”
“Perhaps somethin’s happened,” suggested her sister-in-law.
“What do you mean, Rachel?”
“I was reading in the Sun this morning about a boy being run over out West somewhere.”
“You don’t think Jack has been run over!”
“Who knows?” said Rachel, gloomily. “You know how careless boys are, and Jack’s very careless.”
“I don’t see how you can look for such things, Rachel.”
“Accidents are always happening; you know that yourself, Martha. I don’t say Jack’s run over. Perhaps he’s been down to the wharves, and tumbled over into the water and got drowned.”
“I wish you wouldn’t say such things, Rachel. They make me feel uncomfortable.”
“We may as well be prepared for the worst,” said Rachel, severely.
“Not this time, Rachel,” said Mrs. Harding, brightly, “for that’s Jack’s step outside. He isn’t drowned or run over, thank God!”
“I hear him,” said Rachel, dismally. “Anybody might know by the noise who it is. He always comes stamping along as if he was paid for makin’ a noise. Anybody ought to have a cast-iron head that lives anywhere within his hearing.”
Here Jack entered, rather boisterously, it must be admitted, in his eagerness slamming the door behind him.
THE EVENTS OF AN EVENING
“I am glad you’ve come, Jack,” said his mother. “Rachel was just predicting that you were run over or drowned.”
“I hope you’re not very much disappointed to see me safe and well, Aunt Rachel,” said Jack, merrily. “I don’t think I’ve been drowned.”
“There’s things worse than drowning,” replied Rachel, severely.
“Such as what?”
“A man that’s born to be hanged is safe from drowning.”
“Thank you for the compliment, Aunt Rachel, if you mean me. But, mother, I didn’t tell you of my good luck. See this,” and he displayed the dollar bill.
“How did you get it?” asked his mother.
“Holding horses. Here, take it, mother; I warrant you’ll find a use for it.”
“It comes in good time,” said Mrs. Harding. “We’re out of flour, and I had no money to buy any. Before you take off your boots, Jack, I wish you’d run over to the grocery store, and buy half a dozen pounds. You may get a pound of sugar, and quarter of a pound of tea also.”
“You see the Lord hasn’t forgotten us,” she remarked, as Jack started on his errand.
“What’s a dollar?” said Rachel, gloomily. “Will it carry us through the winter?”
“It will carry us through to-night, and perhaps Timothy will have work to-morrow. Hark, that’s his step.”
At this moment the outer door opened, and Timothy Harding entered, not with the quick, elastic step of one who brings good tidings, but slowly and deliberately, with a quiet gravity of demeanor in which his wife could read only too well that he had failed in his efforts to procure work.