And so they left her without covering or shelter in the wet and chilly air of a late November night, drunk and asleep.
As the little crowd gathered by this ripple of excitement melted away, a single figure remained lurking in a corner of the yard and out of sight in its dark shadow. It was that of a man. The moment he was alone with the unconscious woman he glided toward her with the alert movements of an animal, and with a quickness that made his work seem instant, rifled her pockets. His gains were ten cents and the policy-slip she had just received at Sam McFaddon’s. He next examined her shoes, but they were of no value, lifted her dirty dress and felt its texture for a moment, then dropped it with a motion of disgust and a growl of disappointment.
As he came out from the yard with his poor booty, the light from a street-lamp fell on as miserable a looking wretch as ever hid himself from the eyes of day—dirty, ragged, bloated, forlorn, with scarcely a trace of manhood in his swollen and disfigured face. His steps, quick from excitement a few moments before, were now shambling and made with difficulty. He had not far to walk for what he was seeking. The ministers to his appetite were all about him, a dozen in every block of that terrible district that seemed as if forsaken by God and man. Into the first that came in his way he went with nervous haste, for he had not tasted of the fiery stimulant he was craving with a fierce and unrelenting thirst for many hours. He did not leave the bar until he had drank as much of the burning poison its keeper dispensed as his booty would purchase. In less than half an hour he was thrown dead drunk into the street and then carried by policemen to the old wagon-yard, to take his night’s unconscious rest on the ground in company with Mother Hewitt and a score besides of drunken wretches who were pitilessly turned out from the various dram-shops after their money was spent, and who were not considered by the police worth the trouble of taking to the station-house.
When Mother Hewitt crept back into her cellar at daylight, the baby was gone.
FOR more than a week after Edith’s call on Dr. Radcliffe she seemed to take but little interest in anything, and remained alone in her room for a greater part of the time, except when her father was in the house. Since her questions about her baby a slight reserve had risen up between them. During this time she went out at least once every day, and when questioned by her mother as to where she had been, evaded any direct answer. If questioned more closely, she would show a rising spirit and a decision of manner that had the effect to silence and at the same time to trouble Mrs. Dinneford, whose mind was continually on the rack.
One day the mother and daughter met in a part of the city where neither of them dreamed of seeing the other. It was not far from where Mrs. Bray lived. Mrs. Dinneford had been there on a purgational visit, and had come away lighter in purse and with a heavier burden of fear and anxiety on her heart.