The directress smiled. "Before I hear your story, I must tell you our method of placing babies. The parents or guardian who bring them to us have ten days in which to take them back, if during that time they change their minds or find they can care for their little ones themselves. Toward the end of that ten days we get in touch with foster parents who may want this or that particular child. You understand we try not to keep the babies here a day longer than necessary. And at the end of the ten days if the babies are unclaimed the foster parents adopt them. This is the tenth day we have had that little boy, but I must call what family he has before I can give him away...Now will you tell me a little about yourself?
"My grandmother came out West in an oxcart in the '50s. Her husband was a sergeant in the Civil War. My father still farms in the county where Eben and I live. Before I married I taught in the rural school there."
The directress nodded, with a wise deep-seeing look in her eyes. "And your husband's people?"
"His grandfather hired out to my grandmother during the War,--for fifty dollars a year and his board. He learned English with a book in front of him while he was cutting wood. He saved enough to buy his own farm...and that's our farm now."
"This baby's mother and father came from your state," said the directress. "Naturally we do not give out all the details that make it impossible for parents to keep their baby, but I can tell you that much. Now if it turns out that this little boy is not for adoption, there is a dear baby girl a month old who is ready to go." The directress rose and Myrtle knew the important interview was ended.
But there was one thing she must say before she went. Slowly she pulled on her gloves. She must say this exactly right; she must show the directress that this baby boy upstairs was for her and for no one else. "I wouldn't feel safe in tryin' to take care of a wee one...Besides we've given Ebenezer his name already."
"We'll hope for the best," smiled the directress. "Don't forget your belongings." She nodded at the hooded basket and the little bundle of clothes.
"May I just leave them 'til this afternoon?" asked Myrtle. "I'll go find my husband and tell him about our baby."
"You'd better call me at one-thirty to get a positive answer," said the directress. "But we'll take care of your cunning basket for you."
Myrtle walked with winged feet down the steps of the Child Placing Society and down the street. She felt too excited to eat a meal. Surely nothing could come between her and Baby Ebenezer now. She'd just sip a soda in the drugstore opposite the park where she could see Eben if he came looking for her. At one-thirty sharp she would telephone the directress.