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The nurse walked as far as Broadway, holding Ida by the hand.
"Where are we going?" asked the child, timidly. "Are you going to walk all the way?"
"No," said the nurse; "not all the way--perhaps a mile. You can walk as far as that, can't you?"
They walked on till they reached the ferry at the foot of Courtland Street.
"Did you ever ride in a steamboat?" asked the nurse, in a tone meant to be gracious.
"Once or twice," answered Ida. "I went with Brother Jack once, over to Hoboken. Are we going there now?"
"No; we are going to the city you see over the water."
"What place is it? Is it Brooklyn?"
"No; it is Jersey City."
"Oh, that will be pleasant," said Ida, forgetting, in her childish love of novelty, the repugnance with which the nurse had inspired her.
"Yes, and that is not all; we are going still further," said the nurse.
"Are we going further?" asked Ida, in excitement. "Where are we going?"
"To a town on the line of the railroad."
"And shall we ride in the cars?" asked Ida.
"Yes; didn't you ever ride in the cars?"
"I think you will like it."
"And how long will it take us to go to the place you are going to carry me to?"
"I don't know exactly; perhaps three hours."
"Three whole hours in the cars! How much I shall have to tell father and Jack when I get back!"
"So you will," replied Mrs. Hardwick, with an unaccountable smile--"when you get back."
There was something peculiar in her tone, but Ida did not notice it.
She was allowed to sit next the window in the cars, and took great pleasure in surveying the fields and villages through which they were rapidly whirled.
"Are we 'most there?" she asked, after riding about two hours.
"It won't be long," said the nurse.
"We must have come ever so many miles," said Ida.
"Yes, it is a good ways."
An hour more passed, and still there was no sign of reaching their journey's end. Both Ida and her companion began to feel hungry.
The nurse beckoned to her side a boy, who was selling apples and cakes, and inquired the price.
"The apples are two cents apiece, ma'am, and the cakes are one cent each."
Ida, who had been looking out of the window, turned suddenly round, and exclaimed, in great astonishment: "Why, Charlie Fitts, is that you?"
"Why, Ida, where did you come from?" asked the boy, with a surprise equaling her own.
"I'm making a little journey with this lady," said Ida.
"So you're going to Philadelphia?" said Charlie.
"To Philadelphia!" repeated Ida, surprised. "Not that I know of."
"Why, you're 'most there now."
"Are we, Mrs. Hardwick?" inquired Ida.
"It isn't far from where we're going," she answered, shortly. "Boy, I'll take two of your apples and four cakes. And, now, you'd better go along, for there's somebody over there that looks as if he wanted to buy something."
"Who is that boy?" asked the nurse, abruptly.
"His name is Charlie Fitts."
"Where did you get acquainted with him?"
"He went to school with Jack, so I used to see him sometimes."
"Yes, Brother Jack. Don't you know him?"
"Oh, yes, I forgot. So he's a schoolmate of Jack?"
"Yes, and he's a first-rate boy," said Ida, with whom the young apple merchant was evidently a favorite. "He's good to his mother. You see, his mother is sick most of the time, and can't work much; and he's got a little sister--she ain't more than four or five years old--and Charlie supports them by selling things. He's only sixteen years old; isn't he a smart boy?"
"Yes," said the nurse, indifferently.
"Sometime," continued Ida, "I hope I shall be able to earn something for father and mother, so they won't be obliged to work so hard."
"What could you do?" asked the nurse, curiously.
"I don't know as I can do much yet," answered Ida, modestly; "but perhaps when I am older I can draw pictures that people will buy."
"Have you got any of your drawings with you?"
"No, I didn't bring any."
"I wish you had. The lady we are going to see would have liked to see some of them."
"Are we going to see a lady?"
"Yes; didn't your mother tell you?"
"Yes, I believe she said something about a lady that was interested in me."
"That's the one."
"And shall we come back to New York to-night?"
"No; it wouldn't leave us any time to stay."
"West Philadelphia!" announced the conductor.
"We have arrived," said the nurse. "Keep close to me. Perhaps you had better take hold of my hand."
As they were making their way slowly through the crowd, the young apple merchant came up with his basket on his arm.
"When are you going back, Ida?" he asked.
"Mrs. Hardwick says not till to-morrow."
"Come, Ida," said the nurse, sharply. "I can't have you stopping all day to talk. We must hurry along."
"Good-by, Charlie," said Ida. "If you see Jack, just tell him you saw me."
"Yes, I will," was the reply.
"I wonder who that woman is with Ida?" thought the boy. "I don't like her looks much. I wonder if she's any relation of Mr. Harding. She looks about as pleasant as Aunt Rachel."
The last-mentioned lady would hardly have felt flattered at the comparison.
Ida looked about her with curiosity. There was a novel sensation in being in a new place, particularly a city of which she had heard so much as Philadelphia. As far back as she could remember, she had never left New York, except for a brief excursion to Hoboken; and one Fourth of July was made memorable by a trip to Staten Island, under the guardianship of Jack.
They entered a horse car just outside the depot, and rode probably a mile.
"We get out here," said the nurse. "Take care, or you'll get run over. Now turn down here."
They entered a narrow and dirty street, with unsightly houses on each side.
"This ain't a very nice-looking street," said Ida.
"Why isn't it?" demanded her companion, roughly.
"Why, it's narrow, and the houses don't look nice."
"What do you think of that house there?" asked Mrs. Hardwick, pointing to a dilapidated-looking structure on the right-hand side of the street.
"I shouldn't like to live there," answered Ida.
"You wouldn't, hey? You don't like it so well as the house you live in in New York?"
"No, not half so well."
The nurse smiled.
"Wouldn't you like to go in, and look at the house?"
"Go in and look at the house?" repeated Ida. "Why should we?"
"You must know there are some poor families living there that I am interested in," said Mrs. Hardwick, who appeared amused at something. "Didn't your mother ever tell you that it is our duty to help the poor?"
"Oh, yes, but won't it be late before we get to the lady?"
"No, there's plenty of time. You needn't be afraid of that. There's a poor man living in this house that I've made a good many clothes for, first and last."
"He must be much obliged to you," said Ida.
"We're going up to see him now," said her companion. "Take care of that hole in the stairs."
Somewhat to Ida's surprise, her guide, on reaching the first landing, opened a door without the ceremony of knocking, and revealed a poor, untidy room, in which a coarse, unshaven man was sitting, in his shirt sleeves, smoking a pipe.
"Hello!" exclaimed this individual, jumping up. "So you've got along, old woman! Is that the gal?"
Ida stared from one to the other in amazement.
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