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   Chapter 36 CONCLUSION

Jack's Ward; Or, The Boy Guardian By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 5480

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


As soon as arrangements could be made, Mr. Harding and his whole family removed to Philadelphia. The house which Mrs. Clifton had given them exceeded their anticipations. It was so much better and larger than their former dwelling that their furniture would have appeared to great disadvantage in it. But Mrs. Clifton had foreseen this, and they found the house already furnished for their reception. Even Aunt Rachel was temporarily exhilarated in spirits when she was ushered into the neatly furnished chamber which was assigned to her use.

Through Mrs. Clifton's influence the cooper was enabled to establish himself in business on a larger scale, and employ others, instead of working himself for hire. Ida was such a frequent visitor that it was hard to tell which she considered her home-her mother's elegant residence, or the cooper's comfortable dwelling.

Jack put his thousand dollars into a savings bank, to accumulate till he should be ready to go into business for himself, and required it as capital. A situation was found for him in a merchant's counting-room, and in due time he was admitted into partnership and became a thriving young merchant.

Ida grew lovelier as she grew older, and her rare beauty and attractive manners caused her to be sought after. It may be that some of my readers are expecting that she will marry Jack; but they will probably be disappointed. They are too much like brother and sister for such a relation to be thought of. Jack reminds her occasionally of the time when she was his little ward, and he was her guardian and protector.

One day, as Rachel was walking up Chestnut Street, she was astonished by a hearty grasp of the hand from a bronzed and weather-beaten stranger.

"Release me, sir," she said, hysterically. "What do you mean by such conduct?"

"Surely you have not forgotten your old friend, Capt. Bowling," said the stranger.

Rachel brightened up.

"I didn't remember you at first," she said, "but now I do."

"Now tell me, how are all your family?"

"They are all well, all except me-I don't think I am long for this world."

"Oh, yes, you are. You are too young to think of leaving us yet," said Capt. Bowling, heartily.

Rachel was gratified by this unusual compliment.

"Are you married?" asked Capt. Bowling, abruptly.

"I shall never marry," she said. "I shouldn't dare to trust my happiness to a man."

"Not if I were that man?" said the captain, persuasively.

"Oh, Capt. Bowling!" murmured Rachel, agitated. "How can you say such things?"

"I'll tell you why, Miss Harding. I'm going to give up the sea, and settle down on land. I shall need a good, sensible wife, and if you'll take me, I'll make you Mrs. Bowling at once."

"Thi

s is so unexpected, Capt. Bowling," said Rachel; but she did not look displeased. "Do you think it would be proper to marry so suddenly?"

"It will be just the thing to do. Now, what do you say-yes or no."

"If you really think it will be right," faltered the agitated spinster.

"Then it's all settled?"

"What will Timothy say?"

"That you've done a sensible thing."

Two hours later, leaning on Capt. Bowling's arm, Mrs. Rachel Bowling re-entered her brother's house.

"Why, Rachel, where have you been?" asked Mrs. Harding, and she looked hard at Rachel's companion.

"This is my consort, Capt. Bowling," said Rachel, nervously.

"This is Mrs. Bowling, ma'am," said the captain.

"When were you married?" asked the cooper. It was dinner time, and both he and Jack were at home.

"Only an hour ago. We'd have invited you, but time was pressing."

"I thought you never meant to be married, Aunt Rachel," said Jack, mischievously.

"I-I don't expect to live long, and it won't make much difference," said Rachel.

"You'll have to consult me about that," said Capt. Bowling. "I don't want you to leave me a widower too soon."

"I propose that we drink Mrs. Bowling's health," said Jack. "Can anybody tell me why she's like a good ship?"

"Because she's got a good captain," said Mrs. Harding.

"That'll do, mother; but there's another reason-because she's well manned."

Capt. Bowling evidently appreciated the joke, judging from his hearty laughter. He added that it wouldn't be his fault if she wasn't well rigged, too.

The marriage has turned out favorably. The captain looks upon his wife as a superior woman, and Rachel herself has few fits of depression nowadays. They have taken a small house near Mr. Harding's, and Rachel takes no little pride in her snug and comfortable home.

One word more. At the close of her term of imprisonment, Peg came to Mrs. Clifton and reminded her of her promise. Dick was dead, and she was left alone in the world. Imprisonment had not hardened her, as it often does. She had been redeemed by the kindness of those whom she had injured. Mrs. Clifton found her a position, in which her energy and administrative ability found fitting exercise, and she leads a laborious and useful life in a community where her history is not known. As for John Somerville, with the last remnants of a once handsome fortune, he purchased a ticket to Australia, and set out on a voyage for that distant country. But he never reached his destination. The vessel was wrecked in a violent storm, and he was not among the four that were saved. Henceforth Ida and her mother are far from his evil machinations, and we may confidently hope for them a happy and peaceful life.

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