“I will accompany you to the place where she lives, if you desire it, madam,” said the young artist, politely. “It is a strange neighborhood in which to look for so much beauty.”
“I shall be deeply indebted to you if you will oblige me so far,” said Mrs. Clifton. “My carriage is below, and my coachman will obey your orders.”
Once more they were on the move. In due time the carriage paused. The driver opened the door. He was evidently quite scandalized at the idea of bringing his mistress to such a place.
“This can’t be the place, madam,” he said.
“Yes,” said the artist. “Do not get out, Mrs. Clifton. I will go in, and find out all that is needful.”
Two minutes later he returned, looking disappointed.
“We are too late,” he said. “An hour since a gentleman called, and took away the child.”
Mrs. Clifton sank back in her seat in keen disappointment.
“My child! my child!” she murmured. “Shall I ever see thee again?”
Jack, too, felt more disappointed than he was willing to acknowledge. He could not conjecture what gentleman could have carried away Ida. The affair seemed darker and mere complicated than ever.
IDA IS FOUND
Ida was sitting alone in the dreary apartment which she was now obliged to call home. Peg had gone out, and, not feeling quite certain of her prey, had bolted the door on the outside. She had left some work for the child—some handkerchiefs to hem for Dick—with strict orders to keep steadily at work.
While seated at work, she was aroused from thoughts of home by a knock at the door.
“Who’s there?” asked Ida.
“A friend,” was the reply.
“Mrs. Hardwick—Peg—isn’t at home,” returned Ida.
“Then I will come in and wait till she comes back,” answered the voice outside.
“I can’t open the door,” said the child. “It’s fastened outside.”
“Yes, so I see. Then I will take the liberty to draw the bolt.”
Mr. John Somerville opened the door, and for the first time in seven years his glance fell upon the child whom for so long a time he had defrauded of a mother’s care and tenderness.
Ida returned to the window.
“How beautiful she is!” thought Somerville, with surprise. “She inherits all her mother’s rare beauty.”
On the table beside Ida was a drawing. “Whose is this?” he inquired.
“Mine,” answered Ida.
“So you have learned to draw?”
“A little,” answered the child, modestly.
“Who taught you? Not the woman you live with?”
“No,” said Ida.
“You have not always lived with her, I am sure?”
“You lived in New York with a family named Harding, did you not?”
“Do you know father and mother?” asked Ida, with sudden hope. “Did they send you for me?”