“I don’t know what advice you refer to, Rachel,” said Mrs. Harding, patiently.
“No, I don’t expect you do. My words don’t make no impression. You didn’t pay no attention to what I said, that’s the reason.”
“But if you’ll repeat the advice, Rachel, perhaps we can still profit by it,” answered Mrs. Harding, with imperturbable good humor.
“I told you you ought to be layin’ up something agin’ a rainy day. But that’s always the way. Folks think when times is good it’s always a-goin’ to be so, but I know better.”
“I don’t see how we could have been much more economical,” said Mrs. Harding, mildly.
“There’s a hundred ways. Poor folks like us ought not to expect to have meat so often. It’s frightful to think what the butcher’s bill must have been for the last two months.”
Inconsistent Rachel! Only the day before she had made herself very uncomfortable because there was no meat for dinner, and said she couldn’t live without it. Mrs. Harding might have reminded her of this, but the good woman was too kind and forbearing to make the retort. She really pitied Rachel for her unhappy habit of despondency. So she contented herself by saying that they must try to do better in future.
“That’s always the way,” muttered Rachel; “shut the stable door after the horse is stolen. Folks never learn from experience till it’s too late to be of any use. I don’t see what the world was made for, for my part. Everything goes topsy-turvy, and all sorts of ways except the right way. I sometimes think ’tain’t much use livin’!”
“Oh, you’ll feel better by and by, Rachel.”
“No, I shan’t; I feel my health’s declinin’ every day. I don’t know how I can stand it when I have to go to the poorhouse.”
“We haven’t gone there yet, Rachel.”
“No, but it’s comin’ soon. We can’t live on nothin’.”
“Hark, there’s Jack coming,” said his mother, hearing a quick step outside.
“Yes, he’s whistlin’ just as if nothin’ was the matter. He don’t care anything for the awful condition of the family.”
“You’re wrong there, Rachel; Jack is trying every day to get something to do. He wants to do his part.”
Rachel would have made a reply disparaging to Jack, but she had no chance, for our hero broke in at this instant.
“Well, Jack?” said his mother, inquiringly.
“I’ve got a plan, mother,” he said.
“What’s a boy’s plan worth?” sniffed Aunt Rachel.
“Oh, don’t be always hectorin’ me, Aunt Rachel,” said Jack, impatiently.
“Hectorin’! Is that the way my own nephew talks to me?”
“Well, it’s so. You don’t give a feller a chance. I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of, mother. I’ve been talkin’ with Tom Blake; he sells papers, and he tells me he makes sometimes a dollar a day. Isn’t that good?”
“Yes, that is very good wages for a boy.”