“We are going home.”
“What will the gentleman say?”
“The one that took me away from Peg’s. Why, there he is now!”
Mrs. Clifton followed the direction of Ida’s finger, as she pointed to a gentleman passing.
“Is he the one?” asked Mrs. Clifton, in surprise.
“Yes, mamma,” answered Ida, shyly.
Mrs. Clifton pressed Ida to her bosom. It was the first time she had ever been called mamma, for when Ida had been taken from her she was too young to speak. The sudden thrill which this name excited made her realize the full measure of her present happiness.
Arrived at the house, Jack’s bashfulness returned. Even Ida’s presence did not remove it. He hung back, and hesitated about going in.
Mrs. Clifton observed this.
“Jack,” she said, “this house is to be your home while you are in Philadelphia. Come in, and Thomas shall go for your luggage.”
“Perhaps I had better go with him,” said Jack. “Uncle Abel will be glad to know that Ida is found.”
“Very well; only return soon. As you are Ida’s guardian,” she added, smiling, “you will need to watch over her.”
“Well!” thought Jack, as he re-entered the elegant carriage, and gave the proper direction to the coachman, “won’t Uncle Abel be a little surprised when he sees me coming home in this style! Mrs. Clifton’s a trump! Maybe that ain’t exactly the word, but Ida’s in luck anyhow.”
NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND
Meanwhile Peg was passing her time wearily enough in prison. It was certainly provoking to be deprived of her freedom just when she was likely to make it most profitable. After some reflection she determined to send for Mrs. Clifton, and reveal to her all she knew, trusting to her generosity for a recompense.
To one of the officers of the prison she communicated the intelligence that she had an important revelation to make to Mrs. Clifton, absolutely refusing to make it unless the lady would visit her in prison.
Scarcely had Mrs. Clifton returned home after recovering her child, than the bell rang, and a stranger was introduced.
“Is this Mrs. Clifton?” he inquired.
“Then I have a message for you.”
The lady looked at him inquiringly.
“Let me introduce myself, madam, as one of the officers connected with the city prison. A woman was placed in confinement this morning, who says she has a most important communication to make to you, but declines to make it except to you in person.”
“Can you bring her here, sir?”
“That is impossible. We will give you every facility, however, for visiting her in prison.”
“It must be Peg,” whispered Ida—“the woman that carried me off.”
Such a request Mrs. Clifton could not refuse. She at once made ready to accompany the officer. She resolved to carry Ida with her, fearful that, unless she kept her in her immediate presence, she might disappear again as before.