I waited with nervous impatience for the close of the trial in New Jersey, when I hoped to welcome my son Henry to New York. It was so plain a case, as it seemed to me, and must appear, I thought, to everybody, that I hardly doubted his instant acquittal. But very shortly the New York lawyer whom I had sent to Belvidere, came back and brought terrible news. Henry had been tried, and notwithstanding the fairest showing in his favor, he was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment at Trenton.
As it appeared, it was I really, and not Henry, who was on trial. The circumstances of the desperate struggle, and my knocking down one of the men with the butt of my whip, were conspicuous in the case. Even the little boy was put on the stand, and was made to testify against his older half-brother. Henry himself was astounded at the result of the trial, and was firmly convinced that instead of “proving his innocence” to Jersey jurymen, he had better have let his innocence go by default. We never even got back again the three hundred dollars which had been put into the hands of the man who went bail for Henry when he was bound over for trial. For us, it was bad business from beginning to end.
Henry wrote a letter to me, that just before his trial, before he had delivered himself up, and while he was still under bail, he had gone to see Sarah Scheimer on the little farm which was bought with her money, and was worked, so far as it was worked at all, by her drunken husband. The family were even poorer than the landlord at Water Gap had reported. Sarah herself was miserable and unhappy. She told Henry, when he informed her who he was, that if I had wanted to see her or her son, I should have been welcome. She would have been very glad to have had me take the boy and clothe him decently; but she could not part with him, and would not have let me take him away; still, I could see him at any time, and as often as I liked, and the boy should grow up to know and to look upon me as his father.
And this, really, was all I desired, all I wanted; and it was all easily within my grasp, ready in fact to be put into my hands, and I had gone ahead in my usual mad, blundering way, acting, not only without advice, but against such advice as came from Henry at the last moment, and had alienated the mother from me, lost the boy, and had sent Henry, who was wholly innocent, to state prison for eighteen months.
The poor fellow was take to Trenton and was put into the prison where I had spent seven months. He was almost crazy when he got there. His mother and sister went with him, and took lodgings in the place so as to be near him, to render him any assistance that might be in their power.