The Hired Baby
Marie Corelli (1855 - 1924) was an eccentric British novelist who enjoyed great literary success from the publication of her first novel in 1886 until World War I. Corelli's novels sold more copies than the combined sales of popular contemporaries, including Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, and Rudyard Kipling and she was the most widely read popular author of her day. Her fans included Winston Churchill, Mark Twain and the British Royal Family. The Hired Baby is a short story which gives a breathtaking snapshot of Victorian London life. Liz, a young street rents a sickly newborn by the day from its grasping low-life parents, in the hope of attracting greater sympathy from passers by. She encounters mised reactions, from cruel scorn to genuine charity. She visits a Catholic church, and is mystified as to why people pray to a statue of a woman with a baby. Over time, Liz develops a deep love for the sick baby, often denying herself food in order to buy milk for the infant. As the baby grows weaker, Liz's life too seems to lose meaning and purpose, until one New Year's Eve the situation comes to a head.