To his great joy, Peg replied: “I don’t think there can be any objection. I am going to the house now. Will you come with me now, or appoint some other time.”
“Now, by all means,” said Jack, eagerly. “Nothing shall stand in the way of my seeing Ida.”
A grim smile passed over Peg’s face.
“Follow me, then,” she said. “I have no doubt Ida will be delighted to see you.”
“I suppose,” said Jack, with a pang, “that she is so taken up with her new friends that she has nearly forgotten her old friends in New York.”
“If she had,” answered Peg, “she would not deserve to have friends at all. She is quite happy here, but she will be very glad to return to New York to those who have been so kind to her.”
“Really,” thought Jack, “I don’t know what to make of this Mrs. Hardwick. She talks fair enough, though looks are against her. Perhaps I have misjudged her.”
CAUGHT IN A TRAP
Jack and his guide paused in front of a large three-story brick building. The woman rang the bell. An untidy servant girl made her appearance.
Mrs. Hardwick spoke to the servant in so low a voice that Jack couldn’t hear what she said.
“Certainly, mum,” answered the servant, and led the way upstairs to a back room on the third floor.
“Go in and take a seat,” she said to Jack. “I will send Ida to you immediately.”
“All right,” said Jack, in a tone of satisfaction.
Peg went out, closing the door after her. She, at the same time, softly slipped a bolt which had been placed upon the outside. Then hastening downstairs she found the proprietor of the house, a little old man with a shrewd, twinkling eye, and a long, aquiline nose.
“I have brought you a boarder,” she said.
“Who is it?”
“A lad, who is likely to interfere in our plans. You may keep him in confinement for the present.”
“Very good. Is he likely to make a fuss?”
“I should think it very likely. He is high-spirited and impetuous, but you know how to manage him.”
“Oh, yes,” nodded the old man.
“You can think of some pretext for keeping him.”
“Suppose I tell him he’s in a madhouse?” said the old man, laughing, and thereby showing some yellow fangs, which by no means improved his appearance.
“Just the thing! It’ll frighten him.”
There was a little further conversation in a low tone, and then Peg went away.
“Fairly trapped, my young bird!” she thought to herself. “I think that will put a stop to your troublesome appearance for the present.”
Meanwhile Jack, wholly unsuspicious that any trick had been played upon him, seated himself in a rocking-chair and waited impatiently for the coming of Ida, whom he was resolved to carry back to New York.