She answered reluctantly: “Ida Hardwick.”
The baker observed her hesitation, and this increased his suspicion.
“Hardwick!” he repeated, musingly, endeavoring to draw from the child as much information as possible before allowing her to perceive that he suspected her. “And where do you live?”
Ida was a child of spirit, and did not understand why she should be questioned so closely.
She said, with some impatience: “I am in a hurry, sir, and would like to have the change as soon as you can.”
“I have no doubt of it,” said the baker, his manner suddenly changing, “but you cannot go just yet.”
“Why not?” asked Ida.
“Because you have been trying to deceive me.”
“I trying to deceive you!” exclaimed Ida.
“Really,” thought Mr. Harding, “she does it well; but no doubt she is trained to it. It is perfectly shocking, such artful depravity in a child.”
“Don’t you remember buying something here a week ago?” he asked, in as stern a tone as his good nature would allow him to employ.
“Yes,” answered Ida, promptly; “I bought two rolls, at three cents apiece.”
“And what did you offer me in payment?”
“I handed you a dollar bill.”
“Like this?” asked the baker, holding up the one she had just offered him.
“And do you mean to say,” demanded the baker, sternly, “that you didn’t know it was bad when you offered it to me?”
“Bad!” gasped Ida.
“Yes, spurious. Not as good as blank paper.”
“Indeed, sir, I didn’t know anything about it,” said Ida, earnestly; “I hope you’ll believe me when I say that I thought it was good.”
“I don’t know what to think,” said the baker, perplexed. “Who gave you the money?”
“The woman I board with.”
“Of course I can’t give you the gingerbread. Some men, in my place, would deliver you up to the police. But I will let you go, if you will make me one promise.”
“Oh, I will promise anything, sir,” said Ida.
“You have given me a bad dollar. Will you promise to bring me a good one to-morrow?”
Ida made the required promise, and was allowed to go.
DOUBTS AND FEARS
“Well, what kept you so long?” asked Peg, impatiently, as Ida rejoined her at the corner of the street. “I thought you were going to stay all the forenoon. And Where’s your gingerbread?”
“He wouldn’t let me have it,” answered Ida.
“And why wouldn’t he let you have it?” said Peg.
“Because he said the money wasn’t good.”
“Stuff and nonsense! It’s good enough. However, it’s no matter. We’ll go somewhere else.”
“But he said the money I gave him last week wasn’t good, and I promised to bring him another to-morrow, or he wouldn’t have let me go.”