He stood in the dingy shop looking out of the window at the retreating form of the lady, and then at the gathering clouds over the evening sunset, and at the houses on the opposite side of the street, apparently that he might divert his mind from something. Then he looked at the coin which he had received for the work, as if it were an amulet or a charm.
Suddenly his attention was distracted by the appearance, on the other side of the street, of a very pretty young woman, accompanied by a young man in good attire and of fine bearing.
“Well, well,” said the ex-convict, “I wonder if that’s what it means? That’s Bartram himself, as sure as I’m born, an’ with him is Mrs. Prency’s only daughter an’ only child. Well, well!”
As the summer lengthened into early autumn, Sam Kimper became more and more troubled by the necessities of his family. He had been working day after day in the shop of his acquaintance the shoemaker, when there was work enough for two, and earned enough to pay for the plainest food. But casual pay was not sufficient to all the necessities of a family as large as that for which Sam was responsible, particularly as the return of the head of the family had reminded every one, from the mother down to the youngest child except the baby, of a number of needs of which no one seemed to have thought before.
Mrs. Kimper herself, who was a feeble creature at best, shivered at every wind that penetrated the broken windows, and insisted that unless she had some warm clothing very soon she would fall into a decline. Tom, who had not yet got his growth, was protruding physically from the ends of his shirts and trousers, and assured his father that he never again could get into his last winter’s jacket without subjecting himself to a series of remarks by the boys in the town, which would make him feel very uncomfortable. Billy, who had gone barefooted all summer, as was the custom with the boys in town, came home late one evening and announced triumphantly,—
“Dad, you needn’t bother yourself about me any more about shoes. I’ve got a pair. See here!”
The head of the family took the new shoes into his hand and examined them. Then he dropped them with a sort of shiver, for they were of a well-remembered pattern,—that upon which he had worked for two years in the penitentiary.
“How did you get ’em, Billy?” the father asked, at length.
“Oh, I found ’em,” said the boy, with a wink at his elder brother,—a wink which was returned to him in the shape of an evil leer.
“Found ’em! Where? Tell me all about it,” said the father, very sharply and sternly, for he remembered a time when he had “found” things himself.
Billy looked appealingly at his brother Tom, but the elder brother put on a hang-dog look and sauntered out of the room and was afterwards seen disappearing rapidly through the back yard.