“The man seems strong,” replied the wife. “You may not find it an easy task to master him.”
“What can he do?” returned Carter contemptuously. “He is in a dead sleep. I put enough stuff into his wine to keep him in a stupor for twelve good hours. If I’m not a match for a sleeping man, I’ll go and hang myself.”
“But the boy-he took no wine.”
“No; he’s one of them temperance sneaks. But he’s only a baby. I could lay him out with one hand.”
“Don’t harm him, Jack!” said the woman. “I can’t help feeling kindly to him. Our boy, had he lived, would have been about his age. I can’t help thinking of that.”
“Don’t be silly! Because we had a boy once, mustn’t interfere with business.”
“But you won’t hurt him, Jack?” pleaded the woman, who, hard as she seemed, appeared to have a soft side to her nature.
“No; I won’t hurt the brat if he behaves himself and doesn’t get bumptious. Likely enough he’ll be fast asleep. Boys at his age generally sleep well.”
“In the morning they will discover that they have been robbed. What will you say to them?”
“Tell them it’s none of my business; that I know nothing about it.”
“But if the boy is awake, and sees you at work, Jack?”
“Then it will be different. It would have been better for him to have taken the wine.”
“Do you think he suspected anything?”
“No; how could he suspect that the wine was drugged? He is one of them temperance sneaks, I tell you.”
“How soon are you going up, Jack?”
“In half an hour. I want to give the boy time enough to get asleep. That will make matters easy.”
“Don’t you think I had better go up, Jack?”
“Why should you? Why should I let a woman do my work?”
“Then I should know the boy would receive no harm.”
“Oh, that’s it, is it? You make a great fuss about the boy.”
“Yes; I can’t help thinking about my own boy.”
“Oh, drop that! It makes me sick. Wasn’t he my boy as well as yours? I’m sorry he’s gone. I could have brought him up to be a help to us in our business.”
“Never, Jack, never!” exclaimed his wife fervently.
“Hello! what’s that?”
“I mean that I should have been unwilling to have our son grow up no better than we are. He, at any rate, should have been a good man.”
“What’s up now, old woman? You haven’t been attending Sunday-school lately, have you?” demanded Jack, with a sneer.
“I did once, Jack, and I haven’t quite forgotten what I learned there, though it don’t look like it now.”
“Are you going back on me?” demanded Jack fiercely.
“No, Jack, it’s too late for that. I have helped you, and I mean to help you, but to-night the sight of that boy, and the thought of our son, who died so long ago, have given me a turn. If it was a man, it would be different. But you have promised you won’t harm him, and no more need be said.”