“It is her image,” answered Jack, decidedly. “I should know it anywhere.”
“Then there can be no further doubt,” said Mrs. Clifton. “It is my child you have cared for so long. Oh! why could I not have known it before? How many lonely days and sleepless nights it would have spared me! But God be thanked for this late blessing! I shall see my child again.”
“I hope so, madam. We must find her.”
“What is your name, my young friend?”
“My name is Harding—Jack Harding.”
“Jack?” repeated the lady, smiling.
“Yes, madam; that is what they call me. It would not seem natural to be called John.”
“Very well,” said Mrs. Clifton, with a smile which went to Jack’s heart at once, and made him think her, if any more beautiful than Ida; “as Ida is your adopted sister—”
“I call her my ward. I am her guardian, you know.”
“You are a young guardian. But, as I was about to say, that makes us connected in some way, doesn’t it? I won’t call you Mr. Harding, for that would sound too formal. I will call you Jack.”
“I wish you would,” said our hero, his face brightening with pride.
It almost upset him to be called Jack by a beautiful lady, who every day of her life was accustomed to live in a splendor which it seemed to Jack could not be exceeded even by royal state. Had Mrs. Clifton been Queen Victoria herself, he could not have felt a profounder respect and veneration for her than he did already.
“Now, Jack,” said Mrs. Clifton, in a friendly manner which delighted our hero, “we must take measures to discover Ida immediately. I want you to tell me about her disappearance from your house, and what steps you have taken thus far toward finding her.”
Jack began at the beginning and described the appearance of Mrs. Hardwick; how she had been permitted to carry Ida away under false representations, and the manner in which he had tracked her to Philadelphia. He spoke finally of her arrest, and her obstinate refusal to impart any information as to where Ida was concealed.
Mrs. Clifton listened attentively and anxiously. There were more difficulties in the way than she had supposed.
“Can you think of any plan, Jack?” she asked, anxiously.
“Yes, madam,” answered Jack. “The man who painted the picture of Ida may know where she is to be found.”
“You are right,” said the lady. “I will act upon your hint. I will order the carriage again instantly, and we will at once go back to the print store.”
An hour later Henry Bowen was surprised by the visit of an elegant lady to his studio, accompanied by a young man of seventeen.
“I think you are the artist who designed ‘The Flower Girl,’” said Mrs. Clifton.
“I am, madam.”
“It was taken from life?”
“You are right.”
“I am anxious to find the little girl whose face you copied. Can you give me any directions that will enable me to find her?”