“There were reasons for that,” said the cooper. “She wanted to keep her destination secret.”
“I don’t know what it was,” said the boy, “but I don’t like the woman’s looks.”
HOW IDA FARED
We left Ida confined in a dark closet, with Peg standing guard over her.
After an hour she was released.
“Well,” said the nurse, grimly, “how do you feel now?”
“I want to go home,” sobbed the child.
“You are at home,” said the woman.
“Shall I never see father, and mother, and Jack again?”
“That depends on how you behave yourself.”
“Oh, if you will only let me go,” pleaded Ida, gathering hope from this remark, “I’ll do anything you say.”
“Do you mean this, or do you only say it for the sake of getting away?”
“I mean just what I say. Dear, good Mrs. Hardwick, tell me what to do, and I will obey you cheerfully.”
“Very well,” said Peg, “only you needn’t try to come it over me by calling me dear, good Mrs. Hardwick. In the first place, you don’t care a cent about me; in the second place, I am not good; and finally, my name isn’t Mrs. Hardwick, except in New York.”
“What is it, then?” asked Ida.
“It’s just Peg, no more and no less. You may call me Aunt Peg.”
“I would rather call you Mrs. Hardwick.”
“Then you’ll have a good many years to call me so. You’d better do as I tell you, if you want any favors. Now what do you say?”
“Yes, Aunt Peg,” said Ida, with a strong effort to conceal her repugnance.
“That’s well. Now you’re not to tell anybody that you came from New York. That is very important; and you’re to pay your board by doing whatever I tell you.”
“If it isn’t wicked.”
“Do you suppose I would ask you to do anything wicked?” demanded Peg, frowning.
“You said you wasn’t good,” mildly suggested Ida.
“I’m good enough to take care of you. Well, what do you say to that? Answer me?”
“There’s another thing. You ain’t to try to run away.”
Ida hung down her head.
“Ha!” exclaimed Peg. “So you’ve been thinking of it, have you?”
“Yes,” answered Ida, boldly, after a moment’s hesitation. “I did think I should if I got a good chance.”
“Humph!” said the woman, “I see we must understand one another. Unless you promise this, back you go into the dark closet, and I shall keep you there.”
Ida shuddered at this fearful threat—terrible to a child of but eight years.
“Do you promise?”
“Yes,” said Ida, faintly.
“For fear you might be tempted to break your promise, I have something to show you.”
Mrs. Hardwick went to the closet, and took down a large pistol.
“There,” she said, “do you see that?”