“You impudent boy!” exclaimed Aunt Rachel, in great indignation. Then, relapsing into melancholy: “I’m a poor, afflicted creetur, and the sooner I leave this scene of trial the better.”
“I’m afraid, Mrs. Clifton,” said Jack, “Aunt Rachel won’t live to wear that silk dress you brought along. I’d take it myself, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t be of any use to me.”
“A silk dress!” exclaimed Rachel, looking up with sudden animation.
It had long been her desire to have a new silk dress, but in her brother’s circumstances she had not ventured to hint at it.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Clifton, “I ventured to purchase dresses for both of the ladies. Jack, if it won’t be too much trouble, will you bring them in?”
Jack darted out, and returned with two ample patterns of heavy black silk, one for his mother, the other for his aunt. Aunt Rachel would not have been human if she had not eagerly examined the rich fabric with secret satisfaction. She inwardly resolved to live a little longer.
There was a marked improvement in her spirits, and she indulged in no prognostications of evil for an unusual period.
Mrs. Clifton and Ida stopped to supper, and before they returned to the hotel an early date was fixed upon for the Hardings to remove to Philadelphia.
In the evening Jack told the eventful story of his adventures to eager listeners, closing with the welcome news that he was to receive the reward of a thousand dollars offered for the detection of the counterfeiters.
“So you see, father, I am a man of fortune!” he concluded.
“After all, Rachel, it was a good thing we sent Jack to Philadelphia,” said the cooper.
Rachel did not notice this remark. She was busily discussing with her sister-in-law the best way of making up her new silk.
As soon as arrangements could be made, Mr. Harding and his whole family removed to Philadelphia. The house which Mrs. Clifton had given them exceeded their anticipations. It was so much better and larger than their former dwelling that their furniture would have appeared to great disadvantage in it. But Mrs. Clifton had foreseen this, and they found the house already furnished for their reception. Even Aunt Rachel was temporarily exhilarated in spirits when she was ushered into the neatly furnished chamber which was assigned to her use.
Through Mrs. Clifton’s influence the cooper was enabled to establish himself in business on a larger scale, and employ others, instead of working himself for hire. Ida was such a frequent visitor that it was hard to tell which she considered her home—her mother’s elegant residence, or the cooper’s comfortable dwelling.
Jack put his thousand dollars into a savings bank, to accumulate till he should be ready to go into business for himself, and required it as capital. A situation was found for him in a merchant’s counting-room, and in due time he was admitted into partnership and became a thriving young merchant.