Storm bowed his head silently and sighed. But when the baby, after having rather indifferently submitted to a caress from me, stretched out its arms to him and consented with great good humor to a final good-night kiss, large tears rolled down over his cheeks, while he smiled, as I thought only the angels could smile.
I am obliged to add before the curtain is dropped upon this nocturnal drama, that my friend was guilty of an astonishing piece of Vandalism. When my landlady had deposited the sleeping child in his large, exquisitely carved and canopied bed (which, as he declared, made him feel as if a hundred departed grandees were his bed-fellows), we both went in to have a final view of our little foundling. As we stood there, clasping each other’s hands in silence, Storm suddenly fixed his eyes with a savage glare upon one of the bed-posts which contained a tile of porcelain, representing Joseph leaving his garment in the hand of Potiphar’s wife; on the post opposite was seen Samson sheared of his glory and Delilah fleeing through the opened door with his seven locks in her hand; a third represented Jezebel being precipitated from a third-story window, and the subject of the fourth I have forgotten. It was a remnant of the not always delicate humor of the seventeenth century. My friend, with a fierce disgust, strangely out of keeping with his former mood, pulled a knife from his pocket, and deliberately proceeded to demolish the precious tiles. When he had succeeded in breaking out the last, he turned to me and said:
“I have been an atrocious fool. It is high time I should get to know it.”
A week later I found four new tiles with designs of Fra Angelico’s angels installed in the places of the reprobate Biblical women.
“Wer zum ersten Male liebt,
Sei es auch gluecklos ist ein Gott.”—HEINE.
During the following week, Storm and I, with the aid of the police, searched New York from one end to the other; but Emily must have foreseen the event, and covered up her tracks carefully. Our seeking was all in vain. In the meanwhile the baby was not neglected; my friend’s third room, which had hitherto done service as a sort of state parlor, was consecrated as a nursery, a stout German nurse was procured, and much time was devoted to the designing of a cradle (an odd mixture of the Pompeiian and the Eastlake style), which was well calculated to stimulate whatever artistic sense our baby may have been endowed with. If it had been heir to a throne, its wants could not have been more carefully studied. Storm was as flexible as wax in its tiny hand. Life had suddenly acquired a very definite meaning to him; he had discovered that he had a valuable stake in it. Strange as it may seem, the whole gigantic world, with its manifold and complicated institutions, began to readjust itself in his mind with sole reference to its possible influence upon the baby’s fate.