older than the reality. When Peter, not knowing that there was a mirror there, caught the faint traces of his own figure, he partly imagined that the former Peter Goldthwaite had come back, either to assist or impede his search for the hidden wealth. And at that moment a strange notion glimmered through his brain, that he was the identical Peter who had concealed the gold, and ought to know whereabout it lay. This, however, he had unaccountably forgotten.
'Well, Mr. Peter!' cried Tabitha, on the garret stairs. 'Have you torn the house down enough to heat the tea-kettle?'
'Not yet, old Tabby,' answered Peter; but that's soon done,—as you shall see.'
With the word in his mouth, he uplifted the axe, and laid about him so vigorously, that the dust flew, the boards crashed, and, in a twinkling, the old woman had an apron full of broken rubbish.
'We shall get our winter's wood cheap,' quoth Tabitha.
The good work being thus commenced, Peter beat down all before him, smiting and hewing at the joists and timbers, unclenching spike-nails, ripping and tearing away boards, with a tremendous racket, from morning till night. He took care, however, to leave the outside shell of the house untouched, so that the neighbors might not suspect what was going on.
Never, in any of his vagaries, though each had made him happy while it lasted, had Peter been happier than now. Perhaps, after all, there was something in Peter Goldthwaite's turn of mind, which brought him an inward recompense for all the external evil