Month: March 2016

A Baby in the Boat

Posted by – March 9, 2016

December, 1886

A BABY IN THE BOAT.

babe

How a Wretch Abandoned a Helpless Infant Yesterday Afternoon.

 

“Say, there’s somebody left a basket in the cabin here.”

It was Billy Hughes, the handsome deckhand of the ferryboat Wenonah, on the Camden and Philadelphia Ferry, to whom these words were addressed by a woman who was leaving the boat early yesterday afternoon. Billy dropped the rope with which he had just pulled the gang-plank down from the Camden slip, and dove for the cabin. 

“Look here. There’s a basket some one has left on one of the seats.”

It was a man who spoke to Hughes this time, and he paused in his plunge for the cabin just long enough to wonder how it happened that there were two honest folks on one ferryboat. Then he stepped into the cabin and picked up a little split basket over which a towel was carefully spread and without examining its contents took it to the ticket collector’s office and left it, in the full expectations that somebody would come tearing down through the slush and mud in about two minutes and ask for it. But nobody came.

David Moore, the genial collector, hadn’t time to spare from hauling in little bronze shekels for the company to examine the package, even if he had been disposed to do so.

“Kee-wah, kee-wah.”

Mr. Moore’s face assumed a more surprised look than usual.

“Look into that basket and see what’s there,” he said in as off-hand a manner as possible. “I believe it’s a poll parrot.”

Nobody wanted to look, but in a minute someone plucked up the courage to turn the towel down, and there was the face of a new-born baby. It was already growing purple with cold. Examination showed that the little thing was carefully wrapped up in very plain garments.

“I’m absolutely unable to perform the duties of a wet-nurse!” shouted the collector, as he began to make frantic passes at imaginary pennies in order that it might be seen that he had no time to nurse the baby.

“Anybody that would do such a thing ought to be tarred and feathered,” growled Johnnie Middleton, as he tugged ferociously at his strawberry blonde moustache. Then the telephone was put in operation and arrangements were made to send the little thing to the Almshouse.

“I’ll bet that man and woman had something to do with that,” remarked Hughes as the boat pulled out from the slip, and a passenger sat in the cabin and told blood-wodling [sic] tales all the way over of how he had seen seventeen babies’ bodies taken from the Fairmount reservoir when it was cleaned, and how he had seen blood on the sumps there, where the little bodies had been sucked in and crushed to fragments.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1886 Morbid Scrapbook