The young man followed the strangely assorted pair to the apartments which Peg occupied. From the conversation which he overheard he learned that he had been mistaken in his supposition as to the relation between the two, and that, singular as it seemed, Peg had the guardianship of the child. This made his course clearer. He mounted the stairs and knocked at the door.
“What do you want?” demanded a sharp voice.
“I should like to see you just a moment,” was the reply.
Peg opened the door partially, and regarded the young man suspiciously.
“I don’t know you,” she said, shortly.
“I presume not,” said the young man, courteously. “We have never met, I think. I am an artist. I hope you will pardon my present intrusion.”
“There is no use in your coming here,” said Peg, abruptly, “and you may as well go away. I don’t want to buy any pictures. I’ve got plenty of better ways to spend my money than to throw it away on such trash.”
No one would have thought of doubting Peg’s word, for she looked far from being a patron of the arts.
“You have a young girl living with you, about seven or eight years old, have you not?” inquired the artist.
Peg instantly became suspicious.
“Who told you that?” she demanded, quickly.
“No one told me. I saw her in the street.”
Peg at once conceived the idea that her visitor was aware of the fact that the child had been lured away from home; possibly he might be acquainted with the cooper’s family? or might be their emissary.
“Suppose you did see such a child on the street, what has that to do with me?”
“But I saw the child entering this house with you.”
“What if you did?” demanded Peg, defiantly.
“I was about,” said the artist, perceiving that he was misapprehended, “I was about to make a proposition which may prove advantageous to both of us.”
“Eh!” said Peg, catching at the hint. “Tell me what it is and we may come to terms.”
“I must explain,” said Bowen, “that I am an artist. In seeking for a face to sketch from, I have been struck by that of your child.”
“Yes, if that is her name. I will pay you five dollars if you will allow me to copy her face.”
“Well,” she said, more graciously, “if that’s all you want, I don’t know as I have any objections. I suppose you can copy her face here as well as anywhere?”
“I should prefer to have her come to my studio.”
“I shan’t let her come,” said Peg, decidedly.
“Then I will consent to your terms, and come here.”
“Do you want to begin now?”
“I should like to do so.”
“Come in, then. Here, Ida, I want you.”
“This gentleman wants to copy your face.”
Ida looked surprised.
“I am an artist,” said the young man, with a reassuring smile. “I will endeavor not to try your patience too much, or keep you too long. Do you think you can stand still for half an hour without too much fatigue?”