The trio stole upstairs and into the warm bedchamber. There, with Anderson Crow and his wife looking on from a remote corner of the room, the tall woman in black knelt beside the crib that had housed a generation of Crows. The sleeping Rosalie did not know of the soft kisses that swept her little cheek. She did not feel the tears that fell when the visitor lifted her veil, nor did she hear the whisperings that rose to the woman’s lips.
“That is all,” murmured the mysterious stranger at last, dropping her veil as she arose. She staggered as she started for the door, but recovered herself instantly. Without a word she left the room, the Crows following her down the stairs in silence. At the bottom she paused, and then extended her hands to the old couple. Her voice faltered as she spoke.
“Let me clasp your hands and let me tell you that my love and my prayers are forever for you and for that little one up there. Thank you. I know you will be good to her. She is well born. Her blood is as good as the best. Above all things, Mrs. Crow, she is not illegitimate. You may easily suspect that her parents are wealthy or they could not pay so well for her care. Some day the mystery surrounding her will be cleared. It may not be for many years. I can safely say that she will be left in your care for twenty years at least. Some day you will know why it is that Rosalie is not supposed to exist. God bless you.”
She was gone before they could utter a word. They watched her walk swiftly into the darkness; a few minutes later the sound of carriage wheels suddenly broke upon the air. Anderson Crow and his wife stood over the “base-burner,” and there were tears in their thoughtful eyes.
“She said twenty years, Eva. Let’s see, this is 1883. What would that make it?”
“About 1903 or 1904, Anderson.”
“Well, I guess we c’n wait if other people can,” mused he. Then they went slowly upstairs and to bed.
Some Years Go By
Tinkletown as a unit supported Anderson in his application for guardianship papers. They were filed immediately after the secret visit of the mysterious woman; the Circuit Court at Boggs City, after hearing the evidence, at once entered the appointment of Mr. Crow. When the court asked in mild surprise why he did not adopt the child, Anderson and Eva looked at each other sheepishly and were silent for a full minute. Then Anderson spoke up a bit huskily:
“Well, you see, judge, her name would have to be Crow, an’ while it’s a good name an’ an honoured one, it don’t jest seem to fit the young ’un. She ‘pears to be more of a canary than a crow, figuratively speakin’, and Eva an’ me jest decided we’d give her a different sort of a last name if we could find one. Seems to me that Rosie Canary would be a good one, but Eva an’ the childern are ag’in me. They’ve decided to call her Rosalie Gray, an’ I guess that about settles it. If you don’t mind, I reckon that name c’n go in the records. Besides, you must recollect that she’s liable to have a lot of property some time, an’ it seems more fit fer me to be guardian than foster-father if that time ever comes. It’ll be easier to say good-bye if she keers to leave us.”