CHAPTER XIII  THE NEWCOMER

    He could not move for a moment, then he sprang to his feet and ran towards her. She looked pale and dazed, and she held something in her arms; something wrapped up in her scarf. As he pressed her to him, the something in the bundle struggled against his breast and emitted a squall- just like the squall of a cat. He drew back, and Emmeline, tenderly moving her scarf a bit aside, exposed a wee face. It was brick-red and wrinkled; there were two bright eyes, and a tuft of dark hair over the forehead. Then the eyes closed, the face screwed itself up, and the thing sneezed twice.

    "Where did you get it?" he asked, absolutely lost in astonishment as she covered the face again gently with the scarf.

    "I found it in the woods," replied Emmeline.

    Dumb with amazement, he helped her along to the house, and she sat down, resting her head against the bamboos of the wall.

    "I felt so bad," she explained; "and then I went off to sit in the woods, and then I remembered nothing more, and when I woke up it was there."

    "It's a baby!" said Dick.

    "I know," replied Emmeline.

    Mrs. James's baby, seen in the long ago, had risen up before their mind's eyes, a messenger from the past to explain what the new thing was. Then she told him things--things that completely shattered the old "cabbage bed" theory, supplanting it with a truth far more wonderful, far more poetical, too, to he who can appreciate the marvel and the mystery of life.

    "It has something funny tied on to it," she went on, as if she were referring to a parcel she had just received.

    "Let's look," said Dick.

    "No," she replied; "leave it alone."

    She sat rocking the thing gently, seeming oblivious to the whole world, and quite absorbed in it, as, indeed, was Dick. A physician would have shuddered, but, perhaps fortunately enough there was no physician on the island. Only Nature, and she put everything to rights in her own time and way.

    When Dick had sat marvelling long enough, he set to and lit the fire. He had eaten nothing since the day before, and he was nearly as exhausted as the girl. He cooked some breadfruit, there was some cold fish left over from the day before; this, with some bananas, he served up on two broad leaves, making Emmeline eat first.

    Before they had finished, the creature in the bundle, as though it had smelt the food, began to scream. Emmeline drew the scarf aside. It looked hungry; its mouth would now be pinched up and now wide open, its eyes opened and closed. The girl touched it on the lips with her finger, and it seized upon her fingertip and sucked it. Her eyes filled with tears, she looked appealingly at Dick, who was on his knees; he took a banana, peeled it, broke off a bit and handed it to her. She approached it to the baby's mouth. It tried to suck it, failed, blew bubbles at the sun and squalled.

    "Wait a minute," said Dick.

    There were some green cocoa-nuts he had gathered the day before close by. He took one, removed the green husk, and opened one of the eyes, making an opening also in the opposite side of the shell. The unfortunate infant sucked ravenously at the nut, filled its stomach with the young cocoa-nut juice, vomited vioiently, and wailed. Emmeline in despair clasped it to her naked breast, wherefrom, in a moment, it was hanging like a leech. It knew more about babies than they did.


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