“If there’s to be any murder going on,” she said, recovering her powers of speech, “I’ll take the first hand! As for the troublesome brat, he’s gone. Got out of the window and climbed down the spout. Wonder he wasn’t killed. Did fall—I don’t know how far—and must have hurt himself, for I heard a noise as if something heavy had dropped in the yard, but thought it was next door. Half an hour afterward, in going up stairs and opening the door of the room where I kept him locked in, I found it empty and the window open. That’s the whole story. I ran out and looked everywhere, but he was off. And now, if the murder is to come, I’m going to be in first.”
And she still kept the long wooden bench poised above her head.
Pinky saw a dangerous look in the woman’s eyes.
“Put that thing down,” she cried, “and don’t be a fool. Let me see;” and she darted past the woman and ran up stairs. She found the window of Andy’s prison open and the print of his little fingers on the snow-covered sill outside, where he had held on before dropping to the ground, a distance of many feet. There was no doubt now in her mind as to the truth of the woman’s story. The child had made his escape.
“Have you been into all the neighbors’ houses?” asked Pinky as she came down hastily.
“Into some, but not all,” she replied.
“How long is it since he got away?”
“More than two hours.”
“And you’ve been sticking down here, instead of ransacking every hole and corner in the neighborhood. I can hardly keep my hands off of you.”
The woman was on the alert. Pinky saw this, and did not attempt to put her threat into execution. After pouring out her wrath in a flood of angry invectives, she went out and began a thorough search of the neighborhood, going into every house for a distance of three or four blocks in all directions. But she could neither find the child nor get the smallest trace of him. He had dropped out of sight, so far as she was concerned, as completely as if he had fallen into the sea.
DAY after day Mr. Dinneford waited for the woman who was to restore the child of Edith, but she did not come. Over a week elapsed, but she neither called nor sent him a sign or a word. He dared not speak about this to Edith. She was too weak in body and mind for any further suspense or strain.
Drew Hall had been nearly thrown down again by the events of that Christmas day. The hand of a little child was holding him fast to a better life; but when that hand was torn suddenly away from his grasp, he felt the pull of evil habits, the downward drift of old currents. His steps grew weak, his knees trembled. But God did not mean that he should be left alone. He had reached down to him through the hand of a little child, had lifted him up and led him into a way of safety; and now that this small