The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 12, October, 1858 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 12, October, 1858.

“You don’t ask me where I’m going,” said the jailer, after a silence that seemed but brief to him,—­such a deal of argument he had dispatched, so many difficulties he had overcome in those few moments, whose like, for mental activity and conclusiveness, he had never seen before, and never would see again.  “I shall be asked if I have told you.  But—­where did you come from?  Do not tell me your name.  But whom did you leave behind you that you would care most should know you are alive and in good hands?”

These questions, asked in good faith, would have had their answer; but while the prisoner was preparing such reply as would have proceeded, brief and wholly to the point, from the confusion of hope and surprise, the Governor of Foray came in sight, drew near, and, suspicious, as became him, walked in silence by the prisoner’s side, while Laval obeyed his mute instructions, leading Manuel back to his cell.  A vessel was approaching the shore of Foray.

Having disposed of his prisoner, the jailer in turn was marched, like one under arrest, up to the fort, where he remained, an object of suspicion, until his time came for sailing, and, without knowing it, he went home under guard.

When Adolphus Montier ascended to the prisoner’s room that night, he found him standing by the window.  After Laval left him, he had looked from out that window, and seen the white sail of a vessel; he could not see it now, but there he stood, watching, as though he knew not that his chance of hope was over.

As Adolphus entered the room, the prisoner turned immediately to him,—­asking quietly, as if he had not been suddenly tossed into a gulf of despair by the breeze that brought him hope,—­

“Has Laval sailed?”

“When the cannon fired,” was the answer.

Then Adolphus placed the dish containing the prisoner’s supper on the table; he had already lighted the lamp in the hall.  And now he wanted to say something, on this his first appearance in the capacity of keeper, and he knew what to say,—­he had prepared himself abundantly, he thought.  But both the heart and the imagination of Adolphus Montier stood in the way of such utterance as he had prepared.  The instant his eyes fell on that figure, lonely and forlorn, the instant he heard that question, his kind heart became weakness, he stood in the prisoner’s place,—­he saw the vessel sailing on its homeward voyage,—­he beheld men stepping from sea to shore, walking in happy freedom through the streets of home;—­a vision that filled his eyes with tears was before him, and he was long in controlling his emotion sufficiently to say,—­

“We are in Laval’s place, Sir, and we hope you will have no cause to regret the change.  I don’t know how to be cruel and severe,—­but I must do my duty.  But I wasn’t put here for a tyrant.”

“I know why you are here; Laval told me,” said the prisoner.

“Then we’re friends, a’n’t we?” asked Adolphus; “though I must do my duty by them that employ me.  You understand.  I’d set every door and window of this building wide open for you, if I had my way; though I don’t know what you’re here for.  But I swear before heaven and earth, nothing will tempt me to forget my duty to the government;—­if you should escape, it would be over my dead body.  So you see my position.”

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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 12, October, 1858 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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