“I can’t decide yet, Charlie,” answered she seriously; “if we were situated as we were before—were not such absolute paupers—I wouldn’t hesitate to accept him; but to bring a family of comparative beggars upon him—I can’t make up my mind to do that.”
Charlie looked grave as Esther made this last objection; boy as he was, he felt its weight and justice. “Well, Ess,” rejoined he, “I don’t know what to say about it—of course I can’t advise. What does mother say?”
“She leaves it entirely to me,” she answered. “She says I must act just as I feel is right.”
“I certainly wouldn’t have him at all, Ess, if I didn’t love him; and if I did, I shouldn’t let the money stand in the way—so, good night!”
Charlie slept very late the next morning, and was scarcely dressed when Esther knocked at his door, with the cheerful tidings that her father had a lucid interval and was waiting to see him.
Dressing himself hastily, he followed her into their father’s room. When he entered, the feeble sufferer stretched out his mutilated arms towards him and clasped him round the neck, “They tell me,” said he, “that you came yesterday, and that I didn’t recognize you. I thought, when I awoke this morning, that I had a dim recollection of having seen some dear face; but my head aches so, that I often forget—yes, often forget. My boy,” he continued, “you are all your mother and sisters have to depend upon now; I’m—I’m——” here his voice faltered, as he elevated his stumps of hands—“I’m helpless; but you must take care of them. I’m an old man now,” said he despondingly.
“I will, father; I’ll try so hard” replied Charlie.
“It was cruel in them, wasn’t it, son,” he resumed. “See, they’ve made me helpless for ever!” Charlie restrained the tears that were forcing themselves up, and rejoined, “Never fear, father! I’ll do my best; I trust I shall soon be able to take care of you.”
His father did not understand him—his mind was gone again, and he was staring vacantly about him. Charlie endeavoured to recall his attention, but failed, for he began muttering about the mob and his hands; they were compelled to quit the room, and leave him to himself, as he always became quiet sooner by being left alone.
We must now admit our readers to a consultation that is progressing between Mr. Balch and Mr. Walters, respecting the future of the two Garie children. They no doubt entered upon the conference with the warmest and most earnest desire of promoting the children’s happiness; but, unfortunately, their decision failed to produce the wished-for result.
“I scarcely thought you would have succeeded so well with him,” said Walters, “he is such an inveterate scoundrel; depend upon it nothing but the fear of the exposure resulting from a legal investigation would ever have induced that scamp to let twelve thousand dollars escape from his clutches. I am glad you have secured that much; when we add it to the eight thousand already in my possession it will place them in very comfortable circumstances, even if they never get any more.”