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Cast Adrift, a fiction by T. S. Arthur


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_ CHAPTER XXVI. Mrs. Bray does not call on Mr. Dinneford, as she
promised--Peril to Andrew Hall through loss of the
child--Help--Edith longs to see or write to Granger, but does
not--Edith encounters Mrs. Bray in the street--"Where is my
baby?"--Disappointment--How to identify the child if found

_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 hand, the soft, touch
of which had gone to his heart and stirred him with old memories,
sad and sweet and holy, had dropped away from him, and he seemed to
be losing his hold of heaven, God sent him, in Mr. Dinneford, an
angel with a stronger hand. There were old associations that held
these men together. They had been early and attached friends, and
this meeting, after many years of separation, under such strange
circumstances, and with a common fear and anxiety at heart, could
not but have the effect of arousing in the mind of Mr. Dinneford the
deepest concern for the unhappy man. He saw the new peril into which
he was thrown by the loss of Andy, and made it his first business to
surround him with all possible good and strengthening influences. So
the old memories awakened by the coming of Andy did not fade out and
lose their power over the man. He had taken hold of the good past
again, and still held to it with the tight grasp of one conscious of

"We shall find the child--no fear of that," Mr. Dinneford would say
to him over and over again, trying to comfort his own heart as well,
as the days went by and no little Andy could be found. "The police
have the girl under the sharpest surveillance, and she cannot baffle
them much longer."

George Granger left the asylum with his friends, and dropped out of
sight. He did not show himself in the old places nor renew old
associations. He was too deeply hurt. The disaster had been too
great for any attempt on his part at repairing the old
dwelling-places of his life. His was not what we call a strong
nature, but he was susceptible of very deep impressions. He was fine
and sensitive, rather than strong. Rejected by his wife and family
without a single interview with her or even an opportunity to assert
his innocence, he felt the wrong so deeply that he could not get
over it. His love for his wife had been profound and tender, and
when it became known to him that she had accepted the appearances of
guilt as conclusive, and broken with her own hands the tie that
bound them, it was more than he had strength to bear, and a long
time passed before he rallied from this hardest blow of all.

Edith knew that her father had seen Granger after securing his
pardon, and she had learned from him only, particulars of the
interview. Beyond this nothing came to her. She stilled her heart,
aching with the old love that crowded all its chambers, and tried to
be patient and submissive. It was very hard. But she was helpless.
Sometimes, in the anguish and wild agitation of soul that seized
her, she would resolve to put in a letter all she thought and felt,
and have it conveyed to Granger; but fear and womanly delicacy drove
her back from this. What hope had she that he would not reject her
with hatred and scorn? It was a venture she dared not make, for she
felt that such a rejection would kill her. But for her work among
the destitute and the neglected, Edith would have shut herself up at
home. Christian charity drew her forth daily, and in offices of
kindness and mercy she found a peace and rest to which she would
otherwise have been stranger.

She was on her way home one afternoon from a visit to the
mission-school where she had first heard of the poor baby in Grubb's
court. All that day thoughts of little Andy kept crowding into her
mind. She could not push aside his image as she saw it on Christmas,
when he sat among the children, his large eyes resting in such a
wistful look upon her face. Her eyes often grew dim and her heart
full as she looked upon that tender face, pictured for her as
distinctly as if photographed to natural sight.

"Oh my baby, my baby!" came almost audibly from her lips, in a burst
of irrepressible feeling, for ever since she had seen this child,
the thought of him linked itself with that of her lost baby.

Up to this time her father had carefully concealed his interview
with Mrs. Bray. He was in so much doubt as to the effect that
woman's communication might produce while yet the child was missing
that he deemed it best to maintain the strictest silence until it
could be found.

Walking along with heart and thought where they dwelt for so large a
part of her time, Edith, in turning a corner, came upon a woman who
stopped at sight of her as if suddenly fastened to the
ground--stopped only for an instant, like one surprised by an
unexpected and unwelcome encounter, and then made a motion to pass
on. But Edith, partly from memory and partly from intuition,
recognized her nurse, and catching fast hold of her, said in a low
imperative voice, while a look of wild excitement spread over her

"Where is my baby?"

The woman tried to shake her off, but Edith held her with a grasp
that could not be broken.

"For Heaven's sake," exclaimed the woman "let go of me! This is the
public street, and you'll have a crowd about us in a moment, and the
police with them."

But Edith kept fast hold of her.

"First tell me where I can find my baby," she answered.

"Come along," said the woman, moving as she spoke in the direction
Edith was going when they met. "If you want a row with the police, I

Edith was close to her side, with her hand yet upon her and her
voice in her ears.

"My baby! Quick! Say! Where can I find my baby?"

"What do I know of your baby? You are a fool, or mad!" answered the
woman, trying to throw her off. "I don't know you."

"But I know you, Mrs. Bray," said Edith, speaking the name at a
venture as the one she remembered hearing the servant give to her

At this the woman's whole manner changed, and Edith saw that she was
right--that this was, indeed, the accomplice of her mother.

"And now," she added, in voice grown calm and resolute, "I do not
mean to let you escape until I get sure knowledge of my child. If
you fly from me, I will follow and call for the police. If you have
any of the instincts of a woman left, you will know that I am
desperately in earnest. What is a street excitement or a temporary
arrest by the police, or even a station-house exposure, to me, in
comparison with the recovery of my child? Where is he?"

"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

"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. _


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