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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 3 of 7||
"Is this your little girl?" asked the lady.
"Oh, mamma! mamma!" cried Edie, bursting into tears, as she sprang to her mother's side and hid her face in her garments.
"Where did you find her, ma'am? Was she lost?" asked Mrs. Claire, looking surprised as well as alarmed. "Won't you walk in, ma'am?" she added, before there was time for a reply.
The lady entered, on this invitation, and when seated in Mrs. Claire's little parlour, related that while walking through Washington Square, she noticed the child she had brought home, crying bitterly. On asking her as to the cause of her distress, she said that she wanted Fanny: and then ran away to some distance along the walks, searching for her lost companion. The lady's interest being excited, she followed and persuaded the child to tell her where she lived. After remaining some time longer in the square, vainly searching for Fanny, she was induced to let the lady take her home. After hearing this relation, Mrs. Claire said to Edith, in as calm a voice as she could assume, in order that the child might think without the confusion of mind consequent upon excitement--
"Where is Fanny, dear?"
"She went with the lady to buy some candies," replied the child.
"What lady?" asked the mother.
"The lady who took us to the square."
"The lady who took you to the square?" said the mother, repeating the child's words from the very surprise they occasioned.
"Yes, mamma," was the simple response.
"What lady was it?"
"I don't know. She met us as we were coming home from school, and asked us to go down and walk in the square. She knew Fanny."
"How do you know, dear?" disked Mrs. Claire.
"Oh, she called her Fanny; and said what a nice big girl she was growing to be."
"And so you went down to the square with her?"
"And what then?"
"We walked about there for a little while, and then the lady told me to wait while she took Fanny to the candy-store to buy some candy. I waited, and waited ever so long; but she didn't come back; and then I cried."
The meaning of all this, poor Mrs. Claire understood but too well. With what a shock it fell upon her. She asked no further question. What need was there? Edie's artless story made every thing clear. Fanny had been enticed away by some one employed by Jasper, and was now in his possession! With pale face and quivering lips, she sat bending over Edie, silent for several moments. Then recollecting herself, she said to the lady---
"I thank you, ma'am, most sincerely, for the trouble you have taken in bringing home my little girl. This is a most distressing affair. The other child has, evidently, been enticed away."
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