“Softly, lady, softly!”
“Leave me, sir! leave me, or I will call upon my uncle to protect me from further insult!”
“Your uncle, I fear, was left at the last wood-yard; so I heard my friend De Guy say.”
Emily felt herself the victim of a plot, and, rousing all her energies, she said,
“I see it all. The machinations of a villain—for such you are—shall be foiled.”
“Miss Dumont,” said Maxwell, his passions roused by the severity of her epithet, “do you forget your condition? You are a slave! Your supposed uncle is not here. You have no free papers, and are liable to be committed to the next jail.”
“But I am not without a friend who is able to protect me,” said Emily, with spirit, as she saw Henry Carroll ascend to the deck upon which they stood.
“Your friend is helpless. Another word, and I will proclaim your condition,” and he rudely seized her by the arm. “Your friend cannot help you. He has not your free papers.”
“But he has a strong arm!” shouted Henry Carroll, as with a single blow he struck the attorney to the deck.
“This way, Emily,” said he to the weeping girl, who clung tremblingly to him; “you are safe now.”
Emily was conducted by the gallant arm which had protected her from we know not what indignity. She felt secure in his presence from further molestation, and his soothing words and hopeful promises did much to restore her.
Maxwell soon recovered from the effects of the blow he had received, and, boiling with passion, swore vengeance upon the man who had interrupted him. But his passion was of short duration, and was succeeded by sober reflections upon the “position of his case.” Emily Dumont was not of that class of women with whom he was accustomed to deal. He had found in her an element with which he had not before been conversant,—of which, indeed, he had read in books of poetry, but did not believe it existed in the material world.
In thine own trap! Thou hast confessed it all,—
The means, the end, the motive,—laid all Bare!
O, thou poor knave!—and that convenient friend
Who swears or unswears, speaks or holds his peace,
At thy command,—you have conspired together!”
On board the Chalmetta, Harwell discovered an old acquaintance in the person of a notorious gambler,—a class of persons who congregate on Mississippi steamers, and practise their arts upon the unwary traveller. This person, who went by the name of Vernon, was well known at the faro and roulette boards in New Orleans. He was an accomplished swindler. In the winter season, when the city is crowded with the elite of the state, and with strangers from all parts of the Union, Vernon found abundant exercise for his professional ability at the hells of the city, in the employment of their proprietors, acting the part of banker, or anything else that offered him the means of gratifying his luxurious habits. A twinge of conscience never prevented him from adopting any means of emptying the pockets of his victims, even without the formality of dice or cards.