Susan came to the door, and the old man was delighted to hear her speak again. “If it would not be too bold,” said he, “I’m a stranger in this part of the country, and come from afar off. My boy has got a bed for himself here in the village; but I have no place. Could you be so kind as to give an old blind man a night’s lodging?”
Susan said she would step in and ask her mother, and she soon returned with an answer that he was heartily welcome, if he could sleep upon the children’s bed, which was but small.
The old man entered thankfully, and, as he did so, struck his head against the low roof. “Many roofs that are twice as high do not shelter folk so kind,” he said. For he had just come from the house of Mr. Case, and Barbara, who had been standing at the hall-door, said he could have no help there. The old man’s harp was set down in Farmer Price’s kitchen, and he promised to play a tune for the boys before they went to bed, as their mother had given them leave to sit up to supper with their father.
The farmer came home with a sad face, but how soon did it brighten, when Susan, with a smile, said to him, “Father, we’ve good news for you! good news for us all!—You have a whole week longer to stay with us; and perhaps,” she went on, putting her little purse into his hands—“perhaps with what’s here, and the bread-bills, and what may somehow be got together before a week’s at an end, we may make up the nine guineas. Who knows, dearest mother, but we may keep him with us for ever!” As she spoke, she threw her arms round her father, who pressed her to him without speaking, for his heart was full. It was some little time before he could believe that what he heard was true; but the smiles of his wife, the noisy joy of his little boys, and the delight that shone in Susan’s face at last convinced him that he was not in a dream.
As they sat down to supper, the old harper was made welcome to his share of the simple meal.
Susan’s father, as soon as supper was finished, even before he would let the harper play a tune for his boys, opened the little purse which Susan had given him. He was surprised at the sight of the twelve shillings, and still more, when he came to the bottom of the purse to see the bright golden guinea.
“How did you come by all this money, Susan?” said he.
“How, I can’t make out, except by the baking,” said her proud mother. “Hey, Susan, is this your first baking?”
“Oh, no, no,” said her father, “I have the money for her first baking snug here, besides, in my pocket. I kept it for a surprise, to do your mother’s heart good, Susan. Here’s twenty-nine shillings, and the Abbey bill, which is not paid yet, comes to ten more. What think you of this, wife? Have we not a right to be proud of our Susan? Why,” he went on, turning to the harper, “I ask your pardon for speaking before strangers in praise of my own child; but the truth is the fittest thing to be spoken, I think,