“It shall be taken better care of for the future, sister Betty,” said Miss Kitty penitently. “Though how it got out I can’t think now.”
“Why, bless my soul! you don’t suppose it got there of itself, sister?” snapped Miss Betty. “How it did get there is another matter.”
“I felt pretty confident about it, for my own part,” smiled the parson as he joined them.
“Do you mean to say, sir, that you knew it was there?” asked Miss Betty, solemnly.
“I didn’t know the precise spot, my dear madam, but——”
“You didn’t see it, sir, I hope?” said Miss Betty.
“Bless me, my dear madam, I found it!” cried the parson.
Miss Betty bridled and bit her lip.
“I never contradict a clergyman, sir,” said she, “but I can only say that if you did see it, it was not like your usual humanity to leave it lying there.”
I’ve got it in my hand,
He’s got it in his hand, sister!”
cried the parson and Miss Kitty in one breath. Miss Betty was too much puzzled to be polite.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“The diamond, oh dear, oh dear! The diamond!” cried Miss Kitty. “But what are you talking about, sister?”
“The baby” said Miss Betty.
It was found under a broom-bush. Miss Betty was poking her nose near the bank that bordered the wood, in her hunt for the diamond, when she caught sight of a mass of yellow of a deeper tint than the mass of broom-blossom above it, and this was the baby.
This vivid color, less opaque than “deep chrome” and a shade more orange, seems to have a peculiar attraction for wandering tribes. Gipsies use it, and it is a favorite color with Indian squaws. To the last dirty rag it is effective, whether it flutters near a tent on Bagshot Heath, or in some wigwam doorway makes a point of brightness against the grey shadows of the pine forest.
A large kerchief of this, wound about its body, was the baby’s only robe, but he seemed quite comfortable in it when Miss Betty found him, sleeping on a pillow of deep hair moss, his little brown fists closed as fast as his eyes, and a crimson toadstool grasped in one of them.
When Miss Betty screamed the baby awoke, and his long black lashes tickled his cheeks and made him wink and cry. But by the time she returned with her sister and the parson, he was quite happy again, gazing up with dark eyes full of delight into the glowing broom-brush, and fighting the evening breeze with his feet, which were entangled in the folds of the yellow cloth, and with the battered toadstool which was still in his hand.
“And, indeed, sir,” said Miss Betty, who had rubbed her nose till it looked like the twin toadstool to that which the baby was flourishing in her face, “you won’t suppose I would have left the poor little thing another moment, to catch its death of cold on a warm evening like this; but having no experience of such cases, and remembering that murder at the inn in the Black Valley, and that the body was not allowed to be moved till the constables had seen it, I didn’t feel to know how it might be with foundlings, and—”