This was all that passed concerning Ida at that time. The thought of her would have passed from the baker’s mind, if it had not been recalled by circumstances.
Ellen, like most girls of her age, when in possession of money, could not be easy until she had spent it. Her mother advised her to deposit it in some savings bank; but Ellen preferred present gratification.
Accordingly, one afternoon, when walking out with her mother, she persuaded her to go into a toy shop, and price a doll which she saw in the window. The price was seventy-five cents. Ellen concluded to buy it, and her mother tendered the dollar in payment.
The shopman took it in his hand, glanced at it carelessly at first, then scrutinized it with increased attention.
“What is the matter?” inquired Mrs. Harding. “It is good, isn’t it?”
“That is what I am doubtful of,” was the reply.
“It is new.”
“And that is against it. If it were old, it would be more likely to be genuine.”
“But you wouldn’t condemn a bill because it is new?”
“Certainly not; but the fact is, there have been lately many cases where counterfeit bills have been passed, and I suspect this is one of them. However, I can soon ascertain.”
“I wish you would,” said the baker’s wife. “My husband took it at his shop, and will be likely to take more unless he is put on his guard.”
The shopman sent it to the bank where it was pronounced counterfeit.
Mr. Harding was much surprised at his wife’s story.
“Really!” he said. “I had no suspicion of this. Can it be possible that such a young and beautiful child could be guilty of such an offense?”
“Perhaps not,” answered his wife. “She may be as innocent in the matter as Ellen or myself.”
“I hope so,” said the baker; “it would be a pity that so young a child should be given to wickedness. However, I shall find out before long.”
“She will undoubtedly come again sometime.”
The baker watched daily for the coming of Ida. He waited some days in vain. It was not Peg’s policy to send the child too often to the same place, as that would increase the chances of detection.
One day, however, Ida entered the shop as before.
“Good-morning,” said the baker; “what will you have to-day?”
“You may give me a sheet of gingerbread, sir.”
The baker placed it in her hand.
“How much will it be?”
Ida offered him another new bill.
As if to make change, he stepped from behind the counter and placed himself between Ida and the door.
“What is your name, my child?” he asked.
“Ida? But what is your other name?”
Ida hesitated a moment, because Peg had forbidden her to use the name of Harding, and had told her, if ever the inquiry were made, she must answer Hardwick.