“To a town on the line of the railroad.”
“And shall we ride in the cars?” asked Ida.
“Yes; didn’t you ever ride in the cars?”
“I think you will like it.”
“And how long will it take us to go to the place you are going to carry me to?”
“I don’t know exactly; perhaps three hours.”
“Three whole hours in the cars! How much I shall have to tell father and Jack when I get back!”
“So you will,” replied Mrs. Hardwick, with an unaccountable smile—“when you get back.”
There was something peculiar in her tone, but Ida did not notice it.
She was allowed to sit next the window in the cars, and took great pleasure in surveying the fields and villages through which they were rapidly whirled.
“Are we ’most there?” she asked, after riding about two hours.
“It won’t be long,” said the nurse.
“We must have come ever so many miles,” said Ida.
“Yes, it is a good ways.”
An hour more passed, and still there was no sign of reaching their journey’s end. Both Ida and her companion began to feel hungry.
The nurse beckoned to her side a boy, who was selling apples and cakes, and inquired the price.
“The apples are two cents apiece, ma’am, and the cakes are one cent each.”
Ida, who had been looking out of the window, turned suddenly round, and exclaimed, in great astonishment: “Why, Charlie Fitts, is that you?”
“Why, Ida, where did you come from?” asked the boy, with a surprise equaling her own.
“I’m making a little journey with this lady,” said Ida.
“So you’re going to Philadelphia?” said Charlie.
“To Philadelphia!” repeated Ida, surprised. “Not that I know of.”
“Why, you’re ’most there now.”
“Are we, Mrs. Hardwick?” inquired Ida.
“It isn’t far from where we’re going,” she answered, shortly. “Boy, I’ll take two of your apples and four cakes. And, now, you’d better go along, for there’s somebody over there that looks as if he wanted to buy something.”
“Who is that boy?” asked the nurse, abruptly.
“His name is Charlie Fitts.”
“Where did you get acquainted with him?”
“He went to school with Jack, so I used to see him sometimes.”
“Yes, Brother Jack. Don’t you know him?”
“Oh, yes, I forgot. So he’s a schoolmate of Jack?”
“Yes, and he’s a first-rate boy,” said Ida, with whom the young apple merchant was evidently a favorite. “He’s good to his mother. You see, his mother is sick most of the time, and can’t work much; and he’s got a little sister—she ain’t more than four or five years old—and Charlie supports them by selling things. He’s only sixteen years old; isn’t he a smart boy?”
“Yes,” said the nurse, indifferently.
“Sometime,” continued Ida, “I hope I shall be able to earn something for father and mother, so they won’t be obliged to work so hard.”