“February 18, 1883.
“ANDERSON CROW: To your good and merciful care an unhappy creature consigns this helpless though well-beloved babe. All the world knows you to be a tender, loving, unselfish man and father. The writer humbly, prayerfully implores you to care for this babe as you would for one of your own. It is best that her origin be kept a secret. Care for her, cherish her as your own, and at the end of each year the sum of a thousand dollars will be paid to you as long as she lives in your household as a member thereof. Do not seek to find her parents. It would be a fool’s errand. May God bless you and yours, and may God care for and protect Rosalie—the name she shall bear.”
Obviously, there was no signature and absolutely no clew to the identity of the writer Two telegraph line repairers who had been working near Crow’s house during the night, repairing damage done by the blizzard, gave out the news that they had seen a cloaked and mysterious-looking woman standing near the Methodist Church just before midnight, evidently disregarding the rage of the storm. The sight was so unusual that the men paused and gazed at her for several minutes. One of them was about to approach her when she turned and fled down the side street near by.
“Was she carryin’ a big bundle?” asked Anderson Crow.
The men replied in the negative.
“Then she couldn’t have been the party wanted. The one we’re after certainly had a big bundle.”
“But, Mr. Crow, isn’t it possible that these men saw her after she left the basket at—” began the Presbyterian minister.
“That ain’t the way I deduce it,” observed the town detective tartly. “In the first place, she wouldn’t ‘a’ been standin’ ’round like that if the job was over, would she? Wouldn’t she ‘a’ been streakin’ out fer home? ’Course she would.”
“She may have paused near the church to see whether you took the child in,” persisted the divine.
“But she couldn’t have saw my porch from the back end of the church.”
“Nobody said she was standing back of the church,” said the lineman.
“What’s that? You don’t mean it?” cried Anderson, pulling out of a difficulty bravely. “That makes all the difference in the world. Why didn’t you say she was in front of the church? Cain’t you see we’ve wasted time here jest because you didn’t have sense ’nough to—”
“Anybody ought to know it ’thout being told, you old Rube,” growled the lineman, who was from Boggs City.
“Here, now, sir, that will do you! I won’t ’low no man to—”
“Anderson, be quiet!” cautioned Mrs. Crow. “You’ll wake the baby!” This started a new train of thought in Anderson’s perplexed mind.
“Mebby she was waitin’ there while some one—her husband, fer instance—was leavin’ the baskit,” volunteered Isaac Porter humbly.