She was again interrupted.

‘There is no such thing as rheumatism,’ said Miss Gilpet. She said it with the conscious air of defiance that a waiter adopts in announcing that the cheapest-priced claret in the wine-list is no more. She did not proceed, however, to offer the alternative of some more expensive malady, but denied the existence of them all.

Mrs Momeby’s temper began to shine out through her grief.

‘I suppose you’ll say next that Baby hasn’t really disappeared.’

‘He has disappeared,’ conceded Miss Gilpet, ‘but only because you haven’t sufficient faith to find him. It’s only lack of faith on your part that prevents him from being restored to you safe and well.’

‘But if he’s been eaten in the meantime by a hyæna and partly digested,’ said Clovis, who clung affectionately to his wild beast theory, ‘surely some ill-effects would be noticeable?’

Miss Gilpet was rather staggered by this complication of the question.

‘I feel sure that a hyæna has not eaten him,’ she said lamely.

‘The hyæna may be equally certain that it has. You see, it may have just as much faith as you have, and more special knowledge as to the present whereabouts of the baby.’

Mrs Momeby was in tears again. ‘If you have faith,’ she sobbed, struck by a happy inspiration, ‘won’t you find our little Erik for us? I am sure you have powers that are denied to us.’

Rose-Marie Gilpet was thoroughly sincere in her adherence to Christian Science principles; whether she understood or correctly expounded them the learned in such manners may best decide. In the present case she was undoubtedly confronted with a great opportunity, and as she started forth on her vague search she strenuously summoned to her aid every scrap of faith that she possessed. She passed out into the bare and open high road, followed by Mrs Momeby’s warning, ‘It’s no use going there, we’ve searched there a dozen times.’ But Rose-Marie’s ears were already deaf to all things save self-congratulation; for sitting in the middle of the highway, playing contentedly with the dust and some faded buttercups, was a white-pinafored baby with a mop of tow-coloured hair tied over one temple with a pale-blue ribbon. Taking first the usual feminine precaution of looking to see that no motor-car was on the distant horizon, Rose-Marie dashed at the child and bore it, despite its vigorous opposition, in through the portals of Elsinore. The child’s furious screams had already announced the fact of its discovery, and the almost hysterical parents raced down the lawn to meet their restored offspring. The æsthetic value of the scene was marred in some degree by Rose-Marie’s difficulty in holding the struggling infant, which was borne wrong-end foremost towards the agitated bosom of its family. ‘Our own little Erik come back to us,’ cried the Momebys in unison; as the child had rammed its fists tightly into its eye-sockets and nothing could be seen of its face but a widely gaping mouth, the recognition was in itself almost an act of faith.

‘Is he glad to get back to Daddy and Mummy again?’ crooned Mrs Momeby; the preference which the child was showing for its dust and buttercup distractions was so marked that the question struck Clovis as being unnecessarily tactless.

‘Give him a ride on the roly-poly,’ suggested the father brilliantly, as the howls continued with no sign of early abatement. In a moment the child had been placed astride the big garden roller and a preliminary tug was given to set it in motion. From the hollow depths of the cylinder came an earsplitting roar, drowning even the vocal efforts of the squalling baby, and immediately afterwards there crept forth a white-pinafored infant with a mop of towcoloured hair tied over one temple with a pale blue ribbon. There was no mistaking either the features or the lung-power of the new arrival.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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