“Miss Rufe, de man’s come fer de trunks. Is dey ready?” asked Rachel from the hall.
Ruth rose and put her hand on the back of the chair to steady herself.
“Yes; yes, they are ready,” she said with an effort. “And, Rachel, tell the man to go as quietly as possible. Mr. Carter must not be disturbed until it is time to start.”
“THE SHADOW ON THE HEART”
Just off Main street, under the left wing of the court-house, lay the little county jail. It frowned down from behind its fierce mask of bars and spikes, and boldly tried to make the town forget the number of prisoners that had escaped its walls.
In a small front cell, beside a narrow grated window, Ricks Wilson had sat and successfully planned his way to freedom.
The prisoner who now occupied the cell spent no time on thoughts of escape. He paced restlessly up and down the narrow chamber, or lay on the cot, with his hands under his head, and stared at the grimy ceiling. The one question which he continually put to the jailer was concerning the latest news of Judge Hollis.
Sandy had been given an examining trial on the charge of resisting an officer and assisting a prisoner to escape. Refusing to tell what he knew, and no bail being offered, he was held to answer to the grand jury. For two weeks he had seen the light of day only through the deep, narrow opening of one small window.
At first he had had visitors—indignant, excited visitors who came in hotly to remonstrate, to threaten, to abuse. Dr. Fenton had charged in upon him with a whole battery of reproaches. In stentorian tones he rehearsed the judge’s kindness in befriending him, he pointed out his generosity, and laid stress on Sandy’s heinous ingratitude. Mr. Moseley had arrived with arguments and reasons and platitudes, all expressed in a polysyllabic monotone. Mr. Meech had come many times with prayers and petitions and gentle rebuke.
To them all Sandy gave patient, silent audience, wincing under the blame, but making no effort to defend himself. All he would say was that Ricks Wilson had not done the shooting, and that he could say no more.
A wave of indignation swept the town. Almost the only friend who was not turned foe was Aunt Melvy. Her large philosophy of life held that all human beings were “chillun,” and “chillun was bound to act bad sometimes.” She left others to struggle with Sandy’s moral welfare and devoted herself to his physical comfort.
With a clear conscience she carried to her home flour, sugar, and lard from the Hollises’ store-room, and sat up nights in her little cabin at “Who’d ‘a’ Thought It” to bake dumplings, rolls, and pies for her “po’ white chile.”
Sandy felt some misgivings about the delicacies which she brought, and one day asked her where she made them.
“I makes ’em out home,” she declared stoutly. “I wouldn’t cook nuffin’ fer you on Miss Sue’s stove while she’s talkin’ ’bout you lak she is. She ’lows she don’t never want to set eyes on you ag’in as long as she lives.”