“I do not know,” replied Mrs. Bray. “After seeing your father—”
“My father! When did you see him?” exclaimed Edith, betraying in her surprised voice the fact that Mr. Dinneford had kept so far, even from her, the secret of that brief interview to which she now referred.
“Oh, he hasn’t told you! But it’s no matter—he will do that in good time. After seeing your father, I made an effort to get possession of your child and restore him as I promised to do. But the woman who had him hidden somewhere managed to keep out of my way until this morning. And now she says he got off from her, climbed out of a second-story window and disappeared, no one knows where.”
“This woman’s name is Pinky Swett?” said Edith.
Mrs. Bray felt the hand that was still upon her arm shake as if from a violent chill.
“Do you believe what she says?—that the child has really escaped from her?”
“Where does she live?”
Mrs. Bray gave the true directions, and without hesitation.
“Is this child the one she stole from the Briar-street mission on Christmas day?” asked Edith.
“He is,” answered Mrs. Bray.
“How shall I know he is mine? What proof is there that little Andy, as he is called, and my baby are the same?”
“I know him to be your child, for I have never lost sight of him,” replied the woman, emphatically. “You may know him by his eyes and mouth and chin, for they are yours. Nobody can mistake the likeness. But there is another proof. When I nursed you, I saw on your arm, just above the elbow, a small raised mark of a red color, and noticed a similar one on the baby’s arm. You will see it there whenever you find the child that Pinky Swett stole from the mission-house on Christmas day. Good-bye!”
And the woman, seeing that her companion was off of her guard, sprang away, and was out of sight in the crowd before Edith could rally herself and make an attempt to follow. How she got home she could hardly tell.
FOR weeks the search for Andy was kept up with unremitting vigilance, but no word of him came to the anxious searchers. A few days after the meeting with Mrs. Bray, the police report mentioned the arrest of both Pinky Swett and Mrs. Bray, alias Hoyt, alias Jewett, charged with stealing a diamond ring of considerable value from a jewelry store. They were sent to prison, in default of bail, to await trial. Mr. Dinneford immediately went to the prison and had an interview with the two women, who could give him no information about Andy beyond what Mrs. Bray had already communicated in her hurried talk with Edith. Pinky could get no trace of him after he had escaped. Mr. Dinneford did not leave the two women until he had drawn from them a minute and circumstantial account of all they knew of Edith’s child from the time it was cast adrift. When he left them, he had no doubt as to its identity with Andy. There was no missing link in the chain of evidence.