In the pretty walk, bordered by bright flowers and low, overhanging
shrubbery, which lies back of the Albert Memorial, in Kensington
Gardens, London, Jonas sat on a green bench, with his baby on his knee.
A few nurses were pushing baby-carriages about in different parts of
the walk, and there were children playing not far away. It was drawing
toward the close of the afternoon, and Jonas was thinking it was nearly
time to go home, when Pomona came running to him from the gorgeous
monument, which she had been carefully inspecting.
"Jone," she cried, "do you know I've been lookin' at all them great men
that's standin' round the bottom of the monnyment, an' though there's
over a hundred of 'em, I'm sure, I can't find a American among 'em!
There's poets, an' artists, an' leadin' men, scraped up from all parts,
an' not one of our illustrious dead. What d'ye think of that?"
"I can't believe it," said Jonas. "If we go home with a tale like that
we'll hear the recruiting-drum from Newark to Texas, and, ten to one,
I'll be drafted."
"You needn't be makin' fun," said Pomona; "you come an' see for
yourself. Perhaps you kin' find jus' one American, an' then I'll go
"All right," said Jonas.
And, putting the child on the bench, he told her he'd be back in a
minute, and hurried after Pomona, to give a hasty look for the desired
Corinne, the offspring of Jonas and Pomona, had some peculiarities. One
of these was that she was accustomed to stay where she was put. Ever
since she had been old enough to be carried about, she had been carried
about by one parent or the other; and, as it was frequently necessary
to set her down, she had learned to sit and wait until she was taken up
again. She was now nearly two years old, very strong and active, and of
an intellect which had already begun to tower. She could walk very
well, but Jonas took such delight in carrying her that he seldom
appeared to recognize her ability to use her legs. She could also talk,
but how much her parents did not know. She was a taciturn child, and
preferred to keep her thoughts to herself, and, although she sometimes
astonished us all by imitating remarks she had heard, she frequently
declined to repeat the simplest words that had been taught her.
Corinne remained on the bench about a minute after her father had left
her, and then, contrary to her usual custom, she determined to leave
the place where she had been put. Turning over on her stomach, after
the manner of babies, she lowered her feet to the ground. Having
obtained a foothold, she turned herself about and proceeded, with
sturdy steps, to a baby-carriage near by which had attracted her
attention. This carriage, which was unattended, contained a baby,
somewhat smaller and younger than Corinne, who sat up and gazed with
youthful interest at the visitor who stood by the side of her vehicle.
Corinne examined, with a critical eye, the carriage and its occupant.
She looked at the soft pillow at the baby's back, and regarded with
admiration the afghan crocheted in gay colors which was spread over its
lap, and the spacious gig-top which shielded it from the sun. She
stooped down and looked at the wheels, and stood up and gazed at the
blue eyes and canary hair of the little occupant. Then, in quiet but
decided tones, Corinne said:—
The other baby looked at her, but made no movement to obey. After
waiting a few moments, an expression of stern severity spreading itself
the while over her countenance, Corinne reached over and put her arms
around the fair-haired child. Then, with all her weight and strength,
she threw herself backward and downward. The other baby, being light,
was thus drawn bodily out of its carriage, and Corinne sat heavily upon
the ground, her new acquaintance sprawling in her lap. Notwithstanding
that she bore the brunt of the fall upon the gravel, Corinne uttered no
cry; but, disengaging herself from her encumbrance, she rose to her
feet. The other baby imitated her, and Corinne, taking her by the hand,
led her to the bench where she herself had been left.
"Dit up!" said Corinne.
This, however, the other baby was unable to do; but she stood quite
still, evidently greatly interested in the proceedings. Corinne left
her and walked to the little carriage, into which she proceeded to
climb. After some extraordinary exertions, during which her fat legs
were frequently thrust through the spokes of the wheels and ruthlessly
drawn out again, she tumbled in. Arranging herself as comfortably as
she knew how, she drew the gay afghan over her, leaned back upon the
soft pillow, gazed up at the sheltering gig-top, and resigned herself
to luxurious bliss. At this supreme moment, the nurse who had had
charge of the carriage and its occupant came hurrying around a corner
of the path. She had been taking leave of some of her nurse-maid
friends, and had stayed longer than she had intended. It was necessary
for her to take a suitable leave of these ladies, for that night she
was going on a journey. She had been told to take the baby out for an
airing, and to bring it back early. Now, to her surprise, the afternoon
had nearly gone, and hurrying to the little carriage she seized the
handle at the back and rapidly pushed it home, without stopping to look
beneath the overhanging gig-top, or at the green bench, with which her
somewhat worried soul had no concern. If anything could add to
Corinne's ecstatic delight, it was this charming motion. Closing her
eyes contentedly, she dropped asleep.
The baby with canary hair looked at the receding nurse and carriage
with widening eyes and reddening cheeks. Then, opening her mouth, she
uttered the cry of the deserted; but the panic-stricken nurse did not
hear her, and, if she had, what were the cries of other children to
her? Her only business was to get home quickly with her young charge.
About five minutes after these events, Jonas and Pomona came hurrying
along the path. They, too, had stayed away much longer than they had
intended, and had suddenly given up their search for the American, whom
they had hoped to find in high relief upon the base of the Albert
Memorial. Stepping quickly to the child, who still stood sobbing by the
bench, Jonas exclaimed, "You poor itty—!"
And then he stopped suddenly. Pomona also stood for a second, and then
she made a dash at the child, and snatched it up. Gazing sharply at its
tear-smeared countenance, she exclaimed, "What's this?"
The baby did not seem able to explain what it was, and only answered by
a tearful sob. Jonas did not say a word; but, with the lithe quickness
of a dog after a rat, he began to search behind and under benches, in
the bushes, on the grass, here, there, and everywhere.
About nine o'clock that evening, Pomona came to us with tears in her
eyes, and the canary-haired baby in her arms, and told us that Corinne
was lost. They had searched everywhere; they had gone to the police;
telegrams had been sent to every station; they had done everything that
could be done, but had found no trace of the child.
"If I hadn't this," sobbed Pomona, holding out the child, "I believe
I'd go wild. It isn't that she can take the place of my dear baby, but
by a-keepin' hold of her I believe we'll git on the track of Corinne."
We were both much affected by this news, and Euphemia joined Pomona in
"Jonas is scourin' the town yet," said Pomona. "He'll never give up
till he drops. But I felt you ought to know, and I couldn't keep this
little thing in the night-air no longer. It's a sweet child, and its
clothes are lovely. If it's got a mother, she's bound to want to see it
before long; an' if ever I ketch sight of her, she don't git away from
me till I have my child."
"It is a very extraordinary case," I said. "Children are often stolen,
but it is seldom we hear of one being taken and another left in its
place, especially when the children are of different ages, and totally
"That's so," said Pomona. "At first, I thought that Corinne had been
changed off for a princess, or something like that, but nobody couldn't
make anybody believe that my big, black-haired baby was this
"Can't you find any mark on her clothes," asked Euphemia, "by which you
could discover her parentage? If there are no initials, perhaps you can
find a coronet or a coat of arms."
"No," said Pomona, "there aint nothin'. I've looked careful. But
there's great comfort to think that Corinne's well stamped."
"Stamped!" we exclaimed. "What do you mean by that?"
"Why, you see," answered Pomona, "when Jone an' I was goin' to bring
our baby over here among so many million people, we thought there might
be danger of its gittin' lost or mislaid, though we never really
believed any such thing would happen, or we wouldn't have come. An' so
we agreed to mark her, for I've often read about babies bein' stole an'
kept two or three years, and when found bein' so changed their own
mothers didn't know 'em. Jone said we'd better tattoo Corinne, for them
marks would always be there, but I wouldn't agree to have the little
creature's skin stuck with needles, not even after Jone said we might
give her chloryform; so we agreed to stamp initials on her with
Perkins's Indelible Dab. It is intended to mark sheep, but it don't
hurt, and it don't never come off. We put the letters on the back of
her heels, where they wouldn't show, for she's never to go barefoot,
an' where they'd be easy got at if we wanted to find 'em. We put R.G.
on one heel for the name of the place, and J.P. on the other heel for
Jonas an' me. If, twenty years from now," said Pomona, her tears
welling out afresh, "I should see a young woman with eyes like
Corinne's, an' that I felt was her, a-walking up to the bridal altar,
with all the white flowers, an' the floatin' veils, an' the crowds in
the church, an' the music playin', an' the minister all ready, I'd jist
jerk that young woman into the vestry-room, an' have off her shoes an'
stockin's in no time. An' if she had R.G. on one heel, an' J.P. on the
other, that bridegroom could go home alone."
We confidently assured Pomona that with such means of identification,
and the united action of ourselves and the police, the child would
surely be found, and we accompanied her to her lodgings, which were now
in a house not far from our own.
When the nurse reached home with the little carriage it was almost
dark, and, snatching up the child, she ran to the nursery without
meeting any one. The child felt heavy, but she was in such a hurry she
scarcely noticed that. She put it upon the bed, and then lighting the
gas she unwrapped the afghan, in which the little creature was now
almost entirely enveloped. When she saw the face, and the black hair,
from which the cap had fallen off, she was nearly frightened to death,
but, fortunately for herself, she did not scream. She was rather a
stupid woman, with but few ideas, but she could not fail to see that
some one had taken her charge, and put this child in its place. Her
first impulse was to run back to the gardens, but she felt certain that
her baby had been carried off; and, besides, she could not, without
discovery, leave the child here or take it with her; and while she
stood in dumb horror, her mistress sent for her. The lady was just
going out to dinner, and told the nurse that, as they were all to start
for the Continent by the tidal train, which left at ten o'clock that
night, she must be ready with the baby, well wrapped up for the
journey. The half-stupefied woman had no words nor courage with which
to declare, at this moment, the true state of the case. She said
nothing, and went back to the nursery and sat there in dumb
consternation, and without sense enough to make a plan of any kind. The
strange child soon awoke and began to cry, and then the nurse
mechanically fed it, and it went to sleep again. When the summons came
to her to prepare for the journey, in cowardly haste she wrapped the
baby, so carefully covering its head that she scarcely gave it a chance
to breathe; and she and the lady's waiting-maid were sent in a cab to
the Victoria Station. The lady was travelling with a party of friends,
and the nurse and the waiting-maid were placed in the adjoining
compartment of the railway-carriage. On the six hours' channel passage
from Newhaven to Dieppe the lady was extremely sick, and reached France
in such a condition that she had to be almost carried on shore. It had
been her intention to stop a few days at this fashionable
watering-place, but she declared that she must go straight on to Paris,
where she could be properly attended to, and, moreover, that she never
wanted to see the sea again. When she had been placed in the train for
Paris she sent for the nurse, and feebly asked how the baby was, and if
it had been seasick. On being told that it was all right, and had not
shown a sign of illness, she expressed her gratification, and lay back
among her rugs.
The nurse and the waiting-maid travelled together, as before, but the
latter, wearied by her night's attendance upon her mistress, slept all
the way from Dieppe to Paris. When they reached that city, they went
into the waiting-room until a carriage could be procured for them, and
there the nurse, placing the baby on a seat, asked her companion to
take care of it for a few minutes. She then went out of the station
door, and disappeared into Paris.
In this way, the brunt of the terrible disclosure, which came very
soon, was thrown upon the waiting-maid. No one, however, attached any
blame to her: of course, the absconding nurse had carried away the
fair-haired child. The waiting-maid had been separated from her during
the passage from the train to the station, and it was supposed that in
this way an exchange of babies had been easily made by her and her
confederates. When the mother knew of her loss, her grief was so
violent that for a time her life was in danger. All Paris was searched
by the police and her friends, but no traces could be found of the
wicked nurse and the fair-haired child. Money, which, of course, was
considered the object of the inhuman crime, was freely offered, but to
no avail. No one imagined for an instant that the exchange was made
before the party reached Paris. It seemed plain enough that the crime
was committed when the woman fled.
Corinne, who had been placed in the charge of a servant until it was
determined what to do with her, was not at all satisfied with the new
state of affairs, and loudly demanded her papa and mamma, behaving for
a time in a very turbulent way. In a few days, the lady recovered her
strength, and asked to see this child. The initials upon Corinne's
heels had been discovered, and, when she was told of these, the lady
examined them closely.
"The people who left this child," she exclaimed, "do not intend to lose
her! They know where she is, and they will keep a watch upon her, and
when they get a chance they will take her. I, too, will keep a watch
upon her, and when they come for her I shall see them."
Her use of words soon showed Corinne to be of English parentage, and it
was generally supposed that she had been stolen from some travellers,
and had been used at the station as a means of giving time to the nurse
to get away with the other child.
In accord with her resolution, the grief-stricken lady put Corinne in
the charge of a trusty woman, and, moreover, scarcely ever allowed her
to be out of her sight.
It was suggested that advertisement be made for the parents of a child
marked with E.G. and J.P. But to this the lady decidedly objected.
"If her parents find her," she said, "they will take her away; and I
want to keep her till the thieves come for her. I have lost my child,
and as this one is the only clue I shall ever have to her, I intend to
keep it. When I have found my child, it will be time enough to restore
Thus selfish is maternal love.
Pomona bore up better under the loss than did Jonas. Neither of them
gave up the search for a day; but Jonas, haggard and worn, wandered
aimlessly about the city, visiting every place into which he imagined a
child might have wandered, or might have been taken, searching even to
the crypt in the Guildhall and the Tower of London. Pomona's mind
worked quite as actively as her husband's body. She took great care of
"Little Kensington," as she called the strange child from the place
where she had been found; and therefore could not go about as Jonas
did. After days and nights of ceaseless supposition, she had come to
the conclusion that Corinne had been stolen by opera singers.
"I suppose you never knew it," she said to us, "for I took pains not to
let it disturb you, but that child has notes in her voice about two
stories higher than any operer prymer donner that I ever heard, an'
I've heard lots of 'em, for I used to go into the top gallery of the
operer as often as into the theayter; an' if any operer singer ever
heard them high notes of Corinne's,—an' there was times when she'd let
'em out without the least bit of a notice,—it's them that's took her."
"But, my poor Pomona," said Euphemia, "you don't suppose that little
child could be of any use to an opera singer; at least, not for years
"Oh, yes, ma'am," replied Pomona; "she was none too little. Sopranners
is like mocking-birds; they've got to be took young."
No arguments could shake Pomona's belief in this theory. And she daily
lamented the fact that there was no opera in London at that time that
she might go to the performances, and see if there was any one on the
stage who looked mean enough to steal a child.
"If she was there," said Pomona, "I'd know it. She'd feel the scorn of
a mother's eye on her, an' her guilty heart would make her forget her
Pomona frequently went into Kensington Gardens, and laid traps for
opera singers who might be sojourning in London. She would take Little
Kensington into the gardens, and, placing her carefully in the corner
of a bench, would retire to a short distance and pretend to be absorbed
in a book, while her sharp eyes kept up the watch for a long-haired
tenor, or a beautifully dressed soprano, who should suddenly rush out
from the bushes and seize the child.
"I wouldn't make no fuss if they was to come out," she said. "Little
Kensington would go under my arm, not theirn, an' I'd walk calmly with
'em to their home. Then I'd say: 'Give me my child, an' take yourn,
which, though she probably hasn't got no voice, is a lot too good for
you; and may the house hurl stools at you the next time you appear, is
the limit of a mother's curse.'"
But, alas for Pomona, no opera singers ever showed themselves.
These days of our stay in London were not pleasant. We went about
little, and enjoyed nothing. At last Pomona came to us, her face pale
"It's no use," she said, "for us to keep you here no longer, when I
know you've got through with the place, and want to go on, an' we'll
go, too, for I don't believe my child's in London. She's been took
away, an' we might as well look for her in one place as another. The
perlice tells us that if she's found here, they'll know it fust, an'
they'll telegraph to us wherever we is; an' if it wasn't fur nuthin'
else, it would be a mercy to git Jone out of this place. He goes about
like a cat after her drowned kittens. It's a-bringin' out them chills
of hisn, an' the next thing it'll kill him. I can't make him believe in
the findin' of Corinne as firm as I do, but I know as long as Perkins's
Indelible Dab holds out (an' there's no rubbin' nor washin' it off)
I'll git my child."
I admitted, but not with Pomona's hopefulness, that the child might be
found as easily in Paris as here.
"And we've seen everything about London," said Euphemia, "except
Windsor Castle. I did want, and still want, to see just how the Queen
keeps house, and perhaps get some ideas which might be useful; but Her
Majesty is away now, and, although they say that's the time to go
there, it is not the time for me. You'll not find me going about
inspecting domestic arrangements when the lady of the house is away."
So we packed up and went to Paris, taking Little Kensington along.
Notwithstanding our great sympathy with Corinne's parents, Euphemia and
myself could not help becoming somewhat resigned to the affliction
which had befallen them, and we found ourselves obliged to enjoy the
trip very much. Euphemia became greatly excited and exhilarated as we
entered Paris. For weeks I knew she had been pining for this city. As
she stepped from the train she seemed to breathe a new air, and her
eyes sparkled as she knew by the prattle and cries about her that she
was really in France.
We were obliged to wait some time in the station before we could claim
our baggage, and while we were standing there Euphemia drew my
attention to a placard on the wall. "Look at that!" she exclaimed.
"Even here, on our very entrance to the city, we see signs of that
politeness which is the very heart of the nation. I can't read the
whole of that notice from here, but those words in large letters show
that it refers to the observance of the ancient etiquettes. Think of
it! Here in a railroad station people are expected to behave to each
other with the old-time dignity and gallantry of our forefathers. I
tell you it thrills my very soul to think I am among such a people, and
I am glad they can't understand what I say, so that I may speak right
I never had the heart to throw cold water on Euphemia's noble emotions,
and so I did not tell her that the notice merely requested travellers
to remove from their trunks the anciennes etiquettes, or old railway
We were not rich tourists, and we all took lodgings in a small hotel to
which we had been recommended. It was in the Latin Quarter, near the
river, and opposite the vast palace of the Louvre, into whose
labyrinth of picture-galleries Euphemia and I were eager to plunge.
But first we all went to the office of the American Consul, and
consulted him in regard to the proper measures to be taken for
searching for the little Corinne in Paris. After that, for some days,
Jonas and Pomona spent all their time, and Euphemia and I part of ours,
in looking for the child. Euphemia's Parisian exhilaration continued to
increase, but there were some things that disappointed her.
"I thought," said she, "that people in France took their morning coffee
in bed, but they do not bring it up to us."
"But, my dear," said I, "I am sure you said before we came here that
you considered taking coffee in bed as an abominable habit, and that
nothing could ever make you like it."
"I know," said she, "that I have always thought it a lazy custom, and
not a bit nice, and I think so yet. But still, when we are in a strange
country, I expect to live as other people do."
It was quite evident that Euphemia had been looking forward for some
time to the novel experience of taking her coffee in bed. But the
gray-haired old gentleman who acted as our chambermaid never hinted
that he supposed we wanted anything of the kind.
Nothing, however, excited Euphemia's indignation so much as the
practice of giving a pourboire to cabmen and others. "It is simply
feeding the flames of intemperance," she said. When she had occasion to
take a cab by herself, she never conformed to this reprehensible
custom. When she paid the driver, she would add something to the
regular fare, but as she gave it to him she would say in her most
distinct French: "Pour manger. Comprenezvous?" The cocher would
generally nod his head, and thank her very kindly, which he had good
reason to do, for she never forgot that it took more money to buy food
In spite of the attractions of the city, our sojourn in Paris was not
satisfactory. Apart from the family trouble which oppressed us, it
rained nearly all the time. We were told that in order to see Paris at
its best we should come in the spring. In the month of May it was
charming. Then everybody would be out-of-doors, and we would see a
whole city enjoying life. As we wished to enjoy life without waiting
for the spring, we determined to move southward, and visit during the
winter those parts of Europe which then lay under blue skies and a warm
sun. It was impossible, at present, for Pomona and Jonas to enjoy life
anywhere, and they would remain in Paris, and then, if they did not
find their child in a reasonable time, they would join us. Neither of
them understood French, but this did not trouble them in the slightest.
Early in their Paris wanderings they had met with a boy who had once
lived in New York, and they had taken him into pay as an interpreter.
He charged them a franc and a half a day, and I am sure they got their
Soon after we had made up our minds to move toward the south, I came
home from a visit to the bankers, and joyfully told Euphemia that I had
"Baxter?" said she, inquiringly; "who is he?"
"I used to go to school with him," I said; "and to think that I should
meet him here!"
"I never heard you mention him before," she remarked.
"No," I answered; "it must be fifteen or sixteen years since I have
seen him, and really it is a great pleasure to meet him here. He is a
capital fellow. He was very glad to see me."
"I should think," said Euphemia, "if you like each other so much that
you would have exchanged visits in America, or, at least, have
"Oh, it is a very different thing at home," I said; "but here it is
delightful to meet an old school friend like Baxter. He is coming to
see us this evening."
That evening Baxter came. He was delighted to meet Euphemia, and
inquired with much solicitude about our plans and movements. He had
never heard of my marriage, and, for years, had not known whether I was
dead or alive. Now he took the keenest interest in me and mine. We were
a little sorry to find that this was not Baxter's first visit to
Europe. He had been here several times; and, as he expressed it, "had
knocked about a good deal over the Continent." He was dreadfully
familiar with everything, and talked about some places we were longing
to see in a way that considerably dampened our enthusiasm. In fact,
there was about him an air of superiority which, though tempered by
much kindliness, was not altogether agreeable. He highly approved our
idea of leaving Paris. "The city is nothing now," he said. "You ought
to see it in May." We said we had heard that, and then spoke of Italy.
"You mustn't go there in the winter," he said. "You don't see the
country at its best. May is the time for Italy. Then it is neither too
hot nor too cold, and you will find out what an Italian sky is." We
said that we hoped to be in England in the spring, and he agreed that
we were right there. "England is never so lovely as in May."
"Well!" exclaimed Euphemia; "it seems to me, from all I hear, that we
ought to take about twelve years to see Europe. We should leave the
United States every April, spend May in some one place, and go back in
June. And this we ought to do each year until we have seen all the
places in May. This might do very well for any one who had plenty of
money, and who liked the ocean, but I don't think we could stand it. As
for me," she continued, "I would like to spend these months, so cold
and disagreeable here, in the sunny lands of Southern France. I want to
see the vineyards and the olive groves, and the dark-eyed maidens
singing in the fields. I long for the soft skies of Provence, and to
hear the musical dialect in which Frederic Mistral wrote his 'Miréio.'"
"That sounds very well," said Baxter, "but in all those southern
countries you must be prepared in winter for the rigors of the climate.
The sun is pretty warm sometimes at this season, but as soon as you get
out of it you will freeze to death if you are not careful. The only way
to keep warm is to be in the sun, out of the wind, and that won't work
on rainy days, and winter is the rainy season, you know. In the houses
it is as cold as ice, and the fires don't amount to anything. You
might as well light a bundle of wooden tooth-picks and put it in the
fire-place. If you could sleep all the time you might be comfortable,
for they give you a feather-bed to cover yourself with. Outside you
may do well enough if you keep up a steady walking, but indoors you
will have hard work to keep warm. You must wear chest-protectors. They
sell them down there—great big ones, made of rabbit-skins; and a nice
thing for a man to have to wear in the house is a pair of cloth bags
lined with fur. They would keep his feet and legs warm when he isn't
walking. It is well, too, to have a pair of smaller fur bags for your
hands when you are in the house. You can have a little hole in the end
of one of them through which you can stick a pen-holder, and then you
can write letters. An india-rubber bag, filled with hot water, to lower
down your back, is a great comfort. You haven't any idea how cold your
spine gets in those warm countries. And, if I were you, I'd avoid a
place where you see them carting coal stoves around. Those are the
worst spots. And you need not expect to get one of the stoves, not
while they can sell you wood at two sticks for a franc. You had better
go to some place where they are not accustomed to having tourists. In
the regular resorts they are afraid to make any show of keeping warm,
for fear people will think they are in the habit of having cold
weather. And in Italy you've got to be precious careful, or you'll be
taken sick. And another thing. I suppose you brought a great deal of
baggage with you. You, for instance," said our friend, turning to me,
"packed up, I suppose, a heavy overcoat for cold weather, and a lighter
one, and a good winter suit, and a good summer one, besides another for
spring and fall, and an old suit to lie about in in the orange groves,
and a dress suit, besides such convenient articles as old boots for
tramping in, pocket-lanterns, and so forth."
Strange to say, I had all these, besides many other things of a similar
kind, and I could not help admitting it.
"Well," said Baxter, "you'd better get rid of the most of that as soon
as you can, for if you travel with that sort of heavy weight in the
Mediterranean countries, you might as well write home and get your
house mortgaged. All along the lines of travel, in the south of Europe,
you find the hotels piled up with American baggage left there by
travellers, who'll never send for it. It reminds one of the rows of ox
skeletons that used to mark out the roads to California. But I guess
you'll be able to stick it out. Good bye. Let me hear from you."
When Baxter left us, we could not but feel a little down-hearted, and
Euphemia turned to her guide-book to see if his remarks were
"Well, there is one comfort," she exclaimed at last; "this book says
that in Naples epidemics are not so deadly as they are in some other
places, and if the traveller observes about a page of directions, which
are given here, and consults a physician the moment he feels himself
out of order, it is quite possible to ward off attacks of fever. That
is encouraging, and I think we might as well go on."
"Yes," said I, "and here, in this newspaper, a hotel in Venice
advertises that its situation enables it to avoid the odors of the
Grand Canal; and an undertaker in Nice advertises that he will forward
the corpses of tourists to all parts of Europe and America. I think
there is a chance of our getting back, either dead or alive, and so I
also say, let us go on."
But before we left Paris, we determined to go to the Grand Opera, which
we had not yet visited, and Euphemia proposed that we should take
Pomona with us. The poor girl was looking wretched and woe-begone, and
needed to have her mind diverted from her trouble. Jonas, at the best
of times, could not be persuaded to any amusement of this sort, but
Pomona agreed to go. We had no idea of dressing for the boxes, and we
took good front seats in the upper circle, where we could see the whole
interior of the splendid house. As soon as the performance commenced,
the old dramatic fire began to burn in Pomona. Her eyes sparkled as
they had not done for many a day, and she really looked like her own
bright self. The opera was "Le Prophète," and, as none of us had ever
seen anything produced on so magnificent a scale, we were greatly
interested, especially in the act which opens with that wonderful
winter scene in the forest, with hundreds of people scattered about
under the great trees, with horses and sleighs and the frozen river in
the background where the skaters came gliding on. The grouping was
picturesque and artistic; the scale of the scene was immense; there was
a vast concourse of people on the stage; the dances were beautiful; the
merry skaters graceful; the music was inspiring.
Suddenly, above the voices of the chorus, above the drums and bass
strings of the orchestra, above the highest notes of the sopranos,
above the great chandelier itself, came two notes distinct and plain,
and the words to which they were set, were:—
Like a shot Pomona was on her feet. With arms outspread and her whole
figure dilating until she seemed twice as large as usual, I thought she
was about to spring over the balcony into the house below. I clutched
her, and Euphemia and I, both upon our feet, followed her gaze and saw
upon the stage a little girl in gay array, and upturned face. It was
the lost Corinne.
Without a word, Pomona made a sudden turn, sprang up the steps behind
her, and out upon the lobby, Euphemia and I close behind her. Around
and down the steps we swept, from lobby to lobby, amazing the
cloak-keepers and attendants, but stopping for nothing; down the grand
staircase like an avalanche, almost into the arms of the astonished
military sentinels, who, startled from their soldier-like propriety,
sprang, muskets in hand, toward us. It was only then that I was able to
speak to Pomona, and breathlessly ask her where she was going.
"To the stage-door!" she cried, making a motion to hurl to the ground
the soldier before her. But there was no need to go to any stage-door.
In a moment there rushed along the corridor a lady, dressed apparently
in all the colors of the rainbow, and bearing in her arms a child.
There was a quick swoop, and in another moment Pomona had the child.
But clinging to its garments, the lady cried, in excellent English, but
with some foreign tinge:—
"Where is my child you stole?"
"Stole your grandmother!" briefly ejaculated Pomona. And then, in grand
forgetfulness of everything but her great joy, she folded her arms
around her child, and standing like a statue of motherly content, she
seemed, in our eyes, to rise to the regions of the caryatides and the
ceiling frescos. Not another word she spoke, and amid the confusion of
questions and exclamations, and the wild demands of the lady, Euphemia
and I contrived to make her understand the true state of the case, and
that her child was probably at our lodgings. Then there were great
exclamations and quick commands; and, directly, four of us were in a
carriage whirling to our hotel. All the way, Pomona sat silent with her
child clasped tightly, while Euphemia and I kept up an earnest but
unsatisfactory conversation with the lady; for, as to this strange
affair, we could tell each other but little. We learned from the lady,
who was an assistant soprano at the Grand Opera, how Corinne came to
her in Paris, and how she had always kept her with her, even dressing
her up, and taking her on the stage in that great act where as many
men, women, and children as possible were brought upon the scene. When
she heard the cry of Corinne, she knew the child had seen its mother,
and then, whether the opera went on or not, it mattered not to her.
When the carriage stopped, the three women sprang out at once, and how
they all got through the door, I cannot tell. There was such a
tremendous ring at the gate of the court that the old concierge, who
opened it by pulling a wire in his little den somewhere in the rear,
must have been dreadfully startled in his sleep. We rushed through the
court and up the stairs past our apartments to Pomona's room; and there
in the open doorway stood Jonas, his coat off, his sandy hair in wild
confusion, his face radiant, and in his hands Little Kensington in her
"I knew by the row on the stairs you'd brought her home," he exclaimed,
as Little Kensington was snatched from him and Corinne was put into his
We left Jonas and Pomona to their wild delight, and I accompanied the
equally happy lady to the opera house, where I took occasion to reclaim
the wraps which we had left behind in our sudden flight.
When the police of Paris were told to give up their search for an
absconding nurse accompanied by a child, and to look for one without
such encumbrance, they found her. From this woman was obtained much of
the story I have told, and a good deal more was drawn out, little by
little, from Corinne, who took especial pleasure in telling, in brief
sentences, how she had ousted the lazy baby from the carriage, and how
she had scratched her own legs in getting in.
"What I'm proud of," said Pomona, "is that she did it all herself. It
wasn't none of your common stealin's an' findin's; an' it aint
everywhere you'll see a child that kin git itself lost back of Prince
Albert's monnyment, an' git itself found at the operer in Paris, an'
attend to both ends of the case itself. An', after all, them two high
notes of hern was more good than Perkins's Indelible Dab."