“You are very much in earnest about this matter,” said Mr. Dinneford, seeing how excited the missionary had grown.
“And so would you and every other good citizen become if, standing face to face, as I do daily, with this awful debasement and crime and suffering, you were able to comprehend something of its real character. If I could get the influential citizens to whom I have referred to come here and see for themselves, to look upon this pandemonium in their midst and take in an adequate idea of its character, significance and aggressive force, there would be some hope of making them see their duty, of arousing them to action. But they stand aloof, busy with personal and material interest, while thousands of men, women and children are yearly destroyed, soul and body, through their indifference to duty and ignorance of their fellows’ suffering.”
“It is easy to say such things,” answered Mr. Dinneford, who felt the remarks of Mr. Paulding as almost personal.
“Yes, it is easy to say them,” returned the missionary, his voice dropping to a lower key, “and it may be of little use to say them. I am sometimes almost in despair, standing so nearly alone as I do with my feet on the very brink of this devastating flood of evil, and getting back only faint echoes to my calls for help. But when year after year I see some sheaves coming in as the reward of my efforts and of the few noble hearts that work with me, I thank God and take courage, and I lift my voice and call more loudly for help, trusting that I may be heard by some who, if they would only come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty, would scatter his foes like chaff on the threshing-floor. But I am holding you back from your purpose to visit the mayor; I think you had better act promptly if you would get possession of the child. I shall be interested in the result, and will take it as a favor if you will call at the mission again.”
WHEN Mr. Dinneford and the policeman sent by the mayor at his solicitation visited Grubb’s court, the baby was not to be found. The room in which it had been seen by Mr. Paulding was vacant. Such a room as it was!—low and narrow, with bare, blackened walls, the single window having scarcely two whole panes of glass, the air loaded with the foulness that exhaled from the filth-covered floor, the only furniture a rough box and a dirty old straw bed lying in a corner.