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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 146 pages of information about Jack's Ward.

“Yes, Aunt Peg.”

“Do you know what it is for?”

“To shoot people with,” answered the child.

“Yes,” said the nurse; “I see you understand.  Well, now, do you know what I would do if you should tell anybody where you came from, or attempt to run away?  Can you guess, now?”

“Would you shoot me?” asked Ida, terror-stricken.

“Yes, I would,” said Peg, with fierce emphasis.  “That’s just what I’d do.  And what’s more even if you got away, and got back to your family in New York, I would follow you, and shoot you dead in the street.”

“You wouldn’t be so wicked!” exclaimed Ida.

“Wouldn’t I, though?” repeated Peg, significantly.  “If you don’t believe I would, just try it.  Do you think you would like to try it?” she asked, fiercely.

“No,” answered Ida, with a shudder.

“Well, that’s the most sensible thing you’ve said yet.  Now that you are a little more reasonable, I’ll tell you what I am going to do with you.”

Ida looked eagerly up into her face.

“I am going to keep you with me for a year.  I want the services of a little girl for that time.  If you serve me faithfully, I will then send you back to New York.”

“Will you?” asked Ida, hopefully.

“Yes, but you must mind and do what I tell you.”

“Oh, yes,” said Ida, joyfully.

This was so much better than she had been led to fear, that the prospect of returning home at all, even though she had to wait a year, encouraged her.

“What do you want me to do?” she asked.

“You may take the broom and sweep the room.”

“Yes, Aunt Peg.”

“And then you may wash the dishes.”

“Yes, Aunt Peg.”

“And after that, I will find something else for you to do.”

Mrs. Hardwick threw herself into a rocking-chair, and watched with grim satisfaction the little handmaiden, as she moved quickly about.

“I took the right course with her,” she said to herself.  “She won’t any more dare to run away than to chop her hands off.  She thinks I’ll shoot her.”

And the unprincipled woman chuckled to herself.

Ida heard her indistinctly, and asked, timidly: 

“Did you speak, Aunt Peg?”

“No, I didn’t; just attend to your work and don’t mind me.  Did your mother make you work?”

“No; I went to school.”

“Time you learned.  I’ll make a smart woman of you.”

The next morning Ida was asked if she would like to go out into the street.

“I am going to let you do a little shopping.  There are various things we want.  Go and get your hat.”

“It’s in the closet,” said Ida.

“Oh, yes, I put it there.  That was before I could trust you.”

She went to the closet and returned with the child’s hat and shawl.  As soon as the two were ready they emerged into the street.

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