“Don’t bother me, Ike; I’m thinkin’ of somethin’ else,” muttered Anderson. “Husband nothin’! Do you s’pose she’d ‘a’ trusted that baby with a fool husband on a terrible night like that? Ladies and gentlemen, this here baby was left by a female resident of this very town.” His hearers gasped and looked at him wide-eyed. “If she has a husband, he don’t know he’s the father of this here baby. Don’t you see that a woman couldn’t ‘a’ carried a heavy baskit any great distance? She couldn’t ‘a’ packed it from Boggs City er New York er Baltimore, could she? She wouldn’t ‘a’ been strong enough. No, siree; she didn’t have far to come, folks. An’ she was a woman, ‘cause ain’t all typewritin’ done by women? You don’t hear of men typewriters, do you? People wouldn’t have ’em. Now, the thing fer me to do first is to make a house-to-house search to see if I c’n locate a typewritin’ machine anywheres. Get out of the way, Toby. Doggone you boys, anyhow, cain’t you see I want ter get started on this job?”
“Say, Anderson,” said Harry Squires, the reporter, “I’d like to ask if there is any one in Tinkletown, male or female, who can afford to pay you a thousand dollars a year for taking care of that kid?”
“What’s that?” slowly oozed from Anderson’s lips.
“You heard what I said. Say, don’t you know you can bring up a kid in this town for eleven or twelve dollars a year?”
“You don’t know what you’re talkin’ about,” burst from Anderson’s indignant lips, but he found instant excuse to retire from the circle of speculators. A few minutes later he and his wife were surreptitiously re-reading the note, both filled with the fear that it said $10.00 instead of $1000.
Reflection and Deduction
“By gum, it does say a thousand,” cried Anderson, mightily relieved. “Harry Squires is a fool. He said jest now that it could be did fer eleven or twelve dollars. Don’t you suppose, Eva, that the mother of this here child knows what it costs to bring ’em up? Of course she does. When I find her I’ll prove it by her own lips that she knows. But don’t bother me any more, Eva; I got to git out an’ track her down. This is the greatest job I’ve had in years.”
“See here, Anderson,” said his wife thoughtfully and somewhat stealthily, “let’s go slow about this thing. What do you want to find her for?”
“Why—why, doggone it, Eva, what air you talkin’ about?” began he in amazement.
“Well, it’s just this way: I don’t think we can earn a thousand dollars a year easier than takin’ care of this child. Don’t you see? Suppose we keep her fer twenty years. That means twenty thousand dollars, don’t it? It beats a pension all to pieces.”
“Well, by ginger!” gasped Anderson, vaguely comprehending. “Fifty years would mean fifty thousand dollars, wouldn’t it. Gee whiz, Eva!”
“I don’t imagine we can keep her that long.”