The cooper took out his spectacles, wiped them carefully with his handkerchief, and as carefully adjusted them to his nose. He then took down from the mantelpiece one of the few books belonging to his library—“Dr. Kane’s Arctic Explorations”—and began to read, for the tenth time, it might be, the record of these daring explorers.
The plain little room presented a picture of graceful tranquillity, but it proved to be only the calm which preceded the storm.
The storm in question, I regret to say, was brought about by the luckless Jack. As has been said, he was engaged in constructing a boat, the particular operation he was now intent upon being the excavation, or hollowing out. Now three-legged stools are not the most secure seats in the world. This, I think, no one will deny who has any practical acquaintance with them. Jack was working quite vigorously, the block from which the boat was to be fashioned being held firmly between his knees. His knife having got wedged in the wood, he made an unusual effort to draw it out, in which he lost his balance, and disturbed the equilibrium of his stool, which, with its load, tumbled over backward. Now, it very unfortunately happened that Aunt Rachel sat close behind, and the treacherous stool came down with considerable force upon her foot.
A piercing shriek was heard, and Aunt Rachel, lifting her foot, clung to it convulsively, while an expression of pain disturbed her features.
At the sound, the cooper hastily removed his spectacles, and, letting “Dr. Kane” fall to the floor, started up in great dismay. Mrs. Harding likewise dropped her sewing, and jumped to her feet in alarm.
It did not take long to see how matters stood.
“Hurt ye much, Rachel?” inquired Timothy.
“It’s about killed me,” groaned the afflicted maiden. “Oh, I shall have to have my foot cut off, or be a cripple anyway.” Then, turning upon Jack fiercely: “You careless, wicked, ungrateful boy, that I’ve been wearin’ myself out knittin’ for. I’m almost sure you did it a purpose. You won’t be satisfied till you’ve got me out of the world, and then—then, perhaps”—here Rachel began to whimper—“perhaps you’ll get Tom Piper’s aunt to knit your stockings.”
“I didn’t mean to, Aunt Rachel,” said Jack, penitently, eying his aunt, who was rocking to and fro in her chair. “You know I didn’t. Besides, I hurt myself like thunder,” rubbing himself vigorously.
“Served you right,” said his aunt, still clasping her foot.
“Shan’t I get something for you to put on it, Rachel?” asked Mrs. Harding.
But this Rachel steadily refused, and, after a few more postures indicating a great amount of anguish, limped out of the room, and ascended the stairs to her own apartment.
JACK’S NEW PLAN