“It’s Pinky Swett,” answered the child from Grubb’s court. “She wanted to see our teacher.”
“Who is your regular teacher?” was inquired.
“Don’t remember her name.”
“It’s Edith,” spoke up one of the girls. “Mrs. Martin called her that.”
“What did this Pinky Swett want to see her about?”
“Don’t know,” answered the child as she remembered the money Pinky had given her and the promise of more.
The teacher questioned no further, but went on with her work in the class.
IT was past midday when Mr. Dinneford returned home after his fruitless search. Edith, who had been waiting for hours in restless suspense, heard his step in the hall, and ran down to meet him.
“Did you see the baby?"’ she asked, trying to keep her agitation down.
Mr. Dinneford only shook his head,
“Why, not, father?” Her voice choked.
“It could not be found.”
“You saw Mr. Paulding?”
“Didn’t he find the baby?”
“Oh yes. But when I went to Grubb’s court this morning, it was not there, and no one could or would give any information about it. As the missionary feared, those having possession of the baby had taken alarm and removed it to another place. But I have seen the mayor and some of the police, and got them interested. It will not be possible to hide the child for any length of time.”
“You said that Mr. Paulding saw it?”
“What did he say?” Edith’s voice trembled as she asked the question.
“He thinks there is something wrong.”
“Did he tell you how the baby looked?”
“He said that it had large, beautiful brown eyes.”
Edith clasped her hands, and drew them tightly against her bosom.
“Oh, father! if it should be my baby!”
“My dear, dear child,” said Mr. Dinneford, putting his arms about Edith and holding her tightly, “you torture yourself with a wild dream. The thing is impossible.”
“It is somebody’s baby,” sobbed Edith, her face on her father’s breast, “and it may be mine. Who knows?”
“We will do our best to find it,” returned Mr. Dinneford, “and then do what Christian charity demands. I am in earnest so far, and will leave nothing undone, you may rest assured. The police have the mayor’s instructions to find the baby and give it into my care, and I do not think we shall have long to wait.”
An ear they thought not of, heard all this. Mrs. Dinneford’s suspicions had been aroused by many things in Edith’s manner and conduct of late, and she had watched her every look and word and movement with a keenness of observation that let nothing escape. Careful as her husband and daughter were in their interviews, it was impossible to conceal anything from eyes that never failed in watchfulness. An unguarded word here, a look of mutual intelligence there, a sudden silence when she appeared, an unusual soberness of demeanor and evident absorbed interest in something they were careful to conceal, had the effect to quicken all Mrs. Dinneford’s alarms and suspicions.