But this afternoon her confidence in human nature had received a cruel wound. When, after an hour’s weary drag to a remote end of the town, she had arrived at the pawnshop where was preserved the handsome clock of the distressed lady, and had confidently presented the ticket and the necessary money, the man had looked awhile perplexed. They had no such clock, he said. And then, as he further examined the ticket, a light broke in upon him.
“My dear lady,” he said, “look here. The year on this ticket has been changed.”
So indeed it had, and poor Aunt Tipping was at least a year too late.
“Did you ever hear of such treatment?” she said to Henry; “and such a nice lady she was. ’I shall never forget your goodness to me, Mrs. Tipping,’ she said as she went away, ‘never, if I live to be a hundred.’ I’ll ‘goodness’ her, if ever I catch her. Cheating honest folks like that! Such people oughtn’t to be allowed. I don’t know how people can behave so!”
Aunt Tipping’s indignation seldom outlived a few plaintive words of this sort; and had the offending lady of the clock appeared next moment, and given some Arabian Nights’ explanation, there is little doubt that Aunt Tipping would have forgiven her on the spot. A tendency to do so was already active in her next remark,—
“Well, poor soul, we mustn’t be too hard on her. We never know what we may be brought to ourselves.” For it was Aunt Tipping’s unformulated axiom that, whatever cock-and-bull stories misfortune may tell, there is always some truth in human misery.
When Henry had told Aunt Tipping his story, and ventured to hint a suggestion that, if it should not be inconvenient for her, he would like to take sanctuary with her for a month or two, till he got his hopes into working order, her little sharp face fairly gleamed with delight. You would have thought that he was bringing her some great benefit, instead of proposing to take something from her. That he should have thought of her, such a little humble aunt; that, added to the love she had for any one with any tincture of her family’s blood running in their veins, plus her general weakness for any one in trouble, brought tears to her eyes that made her look quite young again.
“I should think so indeed!” she said. “The best your poor old auntie’s got is yours with all her heart—Ah, your father never understood you. You’ve got too much of our side of the family in you. You’re a bit wild, you know, lad; but you’re none the worse for that, eh?”
There is no need to say that Aunt Tipping’s understanding of the tastes and ambitions which had driven Henry momentarily to take refuge with her was of the vaguest; but all she needed to know of such a situation was that: here on the one hand was something somebody very much wanted to do, and here on the other were certain stern powers ranked against his doing it. That was enough for her. Her