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The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII, No. 357, October 30, 1886   By:

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THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER.

VOL. VIII. NO. 357.

OCTOBER 30, 1886.

PRICE ONE PENNY.

THE SHEPHERD'S FAIRY

A PASTORALE.

BY DARLEY DALE, Author of "Fair Katherine," etc.

[Illustration: "THE POOR LITTLE BARONESS, WHO WAS ASLEEP, STARTED UP."]

CHAPTER V.

THE CHATEAU AFTER THE LOSS OF THE BABY.

As the baron had conjectured, the housemaid whom he had called out of the nursery to look for Léon's cane, on finding her master had gone without it, did not hurry back, but stopped talking to some of the other servants for perhaps a quarter of an hour, when she returned to the nursery, and to her amazement found the baby was gone. She was not alarmed at first, except she supposed she should get a scolding from the nurse, who she imagined had come in and taken the child to another room; however, having the excellent excuse that her master had called her away she went in search of the nurse, but now not finding her anywhere, and hearing from the footman that she was not expected back till very late, Marie became seriously alarmed.

"Perhaps madame has taken it into her room; she might have heard it crying, and fetched it," suggested the footman, and Marie, very much against her will, felt she was in duty bound to go and see.

So, knocking at her mistress's door, she called out, "Madame, has she taken the baby?"

The poor little baroness, who was asleep, started up, and called to the servant to come in.

"Madame, has she the baby?" repeated the girl.

"The baby? No, what do you mean? Where is it, and where is nurse?" cried the baroness, jumping up and slipping on a dressing gown and slippers.

Marie began to cry, and to pour forth such a volley of words, excuses, fears, alarms, and wonders that the baroness could make out nothing, and rushed to the nursery to see for herself what had happened. The empty cradle did not, however, throw much light upon it, and the servants who answered the bell, which the baroness clashed wildly, looked as scared as the sobbing Marie to find the baby had disappeared. A search from attic to basement was at once instituted, the men servants were sent into the grounds with lanterns, the whole house was turned topsy turvy, in the midst of which the nurse returned, and finding her baby was gone, went into violent hysterics, while the young baroness, with flying hair and dilated eyes, rushed about, wringing her hands, and looking, as she felt, distracted with grief.

The search was, of course, in vain, and they were just coming to the conclusion that the baby had been stolen, when the baron returned from seeing Léon off.

The moment the baroness heard his voice in the hall she flew down the wide oak staircase, crying, "Arnaud! Arnaud! My precious baby is gone, it is stolen; find her, find her, or I shall go mad." And a glance at her wild eyes almost testified she spoke the truth.

"She is not stolen, she is safe enough," said the baron, sulkily.

"Safe? Where? Where? Take me to her, my precious one; where is she?" cried the baroness, with a loud burst of hysteric laughter on hearing her child was safe.

"Silence, Mathilde, don't behave in this ridiculous style. Come with me," said the baron, in a tone his wife had never heard him use to her before, and which had the effect of reducing her to tears; and, sobbing wildly, she hung on her husband's arm as he half led, half carried her upstairs, and laid her on a sofa in her own room.

"Now, Mathilde, if you will try and compose yourself, I will tell you what I have done with the baby. For some time I have felt sure that you were ruining the child's health by the absurd way in which you coddle it up, and, moreover, making yourself a perfect slave to it, neglecting all your other duties," began the baron, as he seated himself on the edge of the sofa by the side of his sobbing wife, who was, however, much too anxious about her baby to be able to listen patiently to the marital lecture to which the baron was about to treat her.

"But Arnaud! Arnaud! where is the baby? Oh, do tell me; it is cruel to keep me in this suspense," sobbed the baroness... Continue reading book >>


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