“I fear, for her sake, that my knowledge is too limited to avail anything to her. Maxwell assured me she was his slave, and showed me the bill of sale. I believed him, or he could never have had my help.”
“You were too willing to believe him,” said the doctor, sternly.
“I told him, at the outset, that I would expose all I knew (which is but little), if I discovered she was not a slave. I will tell you all.”
“Let Miss Dumont be called, Jerry.”
Emily came at the summons, and Dr. Vaudelier informed her of the position of the matter.
“Can you forgive me, Miss Dumont, for the wrong I have done?”
“Freely, sir; and may God enable you to persevere in the course you have taken!”
“Thank you! With an angel’s prayer, I shall begin the new life with the strength your good wishes impart.”
Vernon now related all he knew of the machinations of the attorney, concealing no part of his own or his confederate’s villany. Of the will he knew nothing, his operations having been confined to the attempts to obtain possession of her person.
Dr. Vaudelier was satisfied that his son had told the whole truth. It was a source of much satisfaction to him that he had chosen the better part. His fervent prayer ascended that the penitent might be faithful to his good resolutions.
All the circumstances relating to the will were unknown to Vernon, which was the occasion of much congratulation both to his father and to Emily. It seemed to relieve him from some portion of the guilt which the subsequent transactions fastened upon him; and, when these circumstances were related to him, a burst of generous indignation testified that he, the blackleg, the robber, was above such villany. However depraved in some respects, that vice which is commonly called meanness had no place within him. He was, or rather had been, of that class of operators who “rob the rich to pay the poor;” who have no innate love of vice, only a desire to be free from wholesome restraint, and have at hand, without toil or sacrifice, the means of enjoying life to the utmost.
“Jerome,” said Dr. Vaudelier, “this Maxwell must be watched, and, if you are true to yourself, no one can do this duty as well as you.”
“Trust me, sir! I am strong in this lady’s service.”
“I shall not doubt you, my son, until I have occasion to do so. I am satisfied, if Miss Dumont is.”
“I feel perfectly confident in the good faith of your son, and am indebted to him for the zeal he manifests in my cause.”
“Thank you, Miss Dumont,” said Vernon. “You are too generous; but, be assured, your confidence shall not be abused.”
It was determined that Vernon should immediately depart for Vicksburg, whither Maxwell had gone.
“He gives me leave
to attend you,
And is impatient till he sees you.”