“That’s where Ida is right,” said Jack, smacking his lips. “Apple turnovers are splendid.”
“They are very unwholesome,” remarked Rachel.
“I shouldn’t think so from the way you eat them, Aunt Rachel,” retorted Jack. “You ate four the last time we had them for supper.”
“I didn’t think you’d begrudge me the little I eat,” said his aunt, dolefully. “I didn’t think you counted the mouthfuls I took.”
“Come, Rachel, don’t be so unreasonable,” said her brother. “Nobody begrudges you what you eat, even if you choose to eat twice as much as you do. I dare say Jack ate more of the turnovers than you did.”
“I ate six,” said Jack, candidly.
Rachel, construing this into an apology, said no more.
“If it wasn’t for you, Aunt Rachel, I should be in danger of getting too jolly, perhaps, and spilling over. It always makes me sober to look at you.”
“It’s lucky there’s something to make you sober and stiddy,” said his aunt. “You are too frivolous.”
Evening came, but it did not bring Ida. An indefinable sense of apprehension oppressed the minds of all. Martha feared that Ida’s mother, finding her so attractive, could not resist the temptation of keeping her.
“I suppose,” she said, “that she has the best claim to her, but it would be a terrible thing for us to part with her.”
“Don’t let us trouble ourselves about that,” said Timothy. “It seems to me very natural that her mother should keep her a little longer than she intended. Think how long it is since she saw her. Besides, it is not too late for her to return to-night.”
At length there came a knock at the door.
“I guess that is Ida,” said Mrs. Harding, joyfully.
Jack seized a candle, and hastening to the door, threw it open. But there was no Ida there. In her place stood Charlie Fitts, the boy who had met Ida in the cars.
“How are you, Charlie?” said Jack, trying not to look disappointed. “Come in and tell us all the news.”
“Well,” said Charlie, “I don’t know of any. I suppose Ida has got home?”
“No,” answered Jack; “we expected her to-night, but she hasn’t come yet.”
“She told me she expected to come back to-day.”
“What! have you seen her?” exclaimed all, in chorus.
“Yes; I saw her yesterday noon.”
“Why, in the cars,” answered Charlie.
“What cars?” asked the cooper.
“Why, the Philadelphia cars. Of course you knew it was there she was going?”
“Philadelphia!” exclaimed all, in surprise.
“Yes, the cars were almost there when I saw her. Who was that with her?”
“Mrs. Hardwick, her old nurse.”
“I didn’t like her looks.”
“That’s where we paddle in the same canoe,” said Jack.
“She didn’t seem to want me to speak to Ida,” continued Charlie, “but hurried her off as quick as possible.”