“I ain’t afraid of them. I’m on the warpath now, Uncle Abel, and they’d better look out for me.”
The first thing to be done by Jack was, of course, in some way to obtain a clew to the whereabouts of Peg, or Mrs. Hardwick, to use the name by which he knew her. No mode of proceeding likely to secure this result occurred to him, beyond the very obvious one of keeping in the street as much as possible, in the hope that chance might bring him face to face with the object of his pursuit.
Following out this plan, Jack became a daily promenader in Chestnut, Walnut and other leading thoroughfares. Jack became himself an object of attention, on account of what appeared to be his singular behavior. It was observed that he had no glances to spare for young ladies, but persistently stared at the faces of all middle-aged women—a circumstance naturally calculated to attract remark in the case of a well-made lad like Jack.
“I am afraid,” said the baker, “it will be as hard as looking for a needle in a haystack, to find the one you seek among so many faces.”
“There’s nothing like trying,” said Jack, courageously. “I’m not going to give up yet a while. I’d know Ida or Mrs. Hardwick anywhere.”
“You ought to write home, Jack. They will be getting anxious about you.”
“I’m going to write this morning—I put it off, because I hoped to have some news to write.”
He sat down and wrote the following note:
“Dear parents: I arrived in Philadelphia right side up with care, and am stopping at Uncle Abel’s. He received me very kindly. I have got track of Ida, though I have not found her yet. I have learned as much as this: that this Mrs. Hardwick—who is a double-distilled she-rascal—probably has Ida in her clutches, and has sent her on two occasions to my uncle’s. I am spending most of my time in the streets, keeping a good lookout for her. If I do meet her, see if I don’t get Ida away from her. But it may take some time. Don’t get discouraged, therefore, but wait patiently. Whenever anything new turns up you will receive a line from your dutiful son,
Jack had been in the city eight days when, as he was sauntering along the street, he suddenly perceived in front of him, a shawl which struck him as wonderfully like the one worn by Mrs. Hardwick. Not only that, but the form of the wearer corresponded to his recollections of the nurse. He bounded forward, and rapidly passing the suspected person, turned suddenly and confronted the woman of whom he had been in search.
The recognition was mutual. Peg was taken aback by this unexpected encounter.
Her first impulse was to make off, but Jack’s resolute expression warned her that he was not to be trifled with.