“Ise-been-a-great-sinner, to keep my-mouf-shut-so long; but-I could not-help it. Ole Peter-was feered-but now-I’se feered-no more. Soon-I’ll be wid-de great God-who has-know’d my secret too-an’ I feel-He will-forgive me-if-I-’fess it-’fore-I die. I know-he-will, marster-de Spirit has-tole’-me so.”
“Confess what?” inquired the rabbi softly, supposing that the old man’s utterances were but the ravings of delirium.
“A secret-marster; a secret-dat-I have-kep’-so long-it has become-a sin-an awful sin-dat has burnt-me in here,” placing his feeble hand on his heart, “like coals-of-fire. Listen to me.”
“I knows-how-Mars’-Mark-Abrams got-killed, an’-has-known it-ever since-dat-dark-Jinnewary-night-w’en he-was-shot—”
“Hush! listen-to-me-my-bref-werry-short,” he said, motioning the rabbi to silence, who had turned pale with consternation at the mere mention of his son’s name.
“Hush! Mars’-Mark-was not-murdered-as-everybody-thought-but-was-killed-by-de pistol-he-carried-in his-pocket. It-was-werry dark dat-night-as you-may-remember. He-was-passin’-tru’-de-Citadel Square-to cut-off de walk-comin’-from Crispin’s-he said, an’-in-de dark-he-stumble-an’ fall-an’ de-pistol-go-off-an’ kill him. In de-early-morning-jus’-’for-day-as-I was-hurryin’-aroun’ wid-my-paper, I was-carryin’ de Curyer den-bless-de-Lord, I came-upon-him-an’ ‘fore God-he was-mos’ dead. He call-me-and tell me-how he-was-hurt, an’ beg-me to run-for his-father, for-you, Marster-Abrams. He ask-me-to pick up-de-pistol-an’ run for-you-quick. W’en I foun’-de pistol-I ask-him-another question. He-said-nothin’. I knew-he-was-dead. I was-skeered-awful-skeered-an’-somethin’-tole me-to-run-away. I did run-as-fast as-I-could-an’ w’en-I was-many-squars-off, I foun’ de-pistol-in my-hand. Dat-skeered me-agin. I stop-a minit-to think. I-was-awful skeered-marster-an’ den I ‘cluded I jus’ keep-de secret, an’ de-pistol-too-for-fear-people-might-’cuse-me ob de-murder. An’-so I has-kept both-till now. See-here’s de pistol-an’ I’se-told you-der truth;” and the old man felt about under his pillow for the weapon.
With difficulty he drew it out, and handing it to the rabbi, said:
“Take it-it’s-haunted-me long-enough. It’s jes’ as I found-it-dat-night-only-it’s-mighty rusty. I’se had-it-buried-a long time-for-safe-keepin’.
W’en-Mars’-Emile-Le Grande-was-here in-prison-’cused of-dis-crime,-I often-wanted to tell-my-secret den-but-was-still-afeerd. I-knew he-was-not guilty-an’ I determined-he should-not be-punished. So I helped-him-to ’scape-jail. I-set-him-free. I take-him-in de night time-to one-of de-blockade-wessels-off de Bar. W’ere-he go from dere, God knows-Ole Peter-don’t. Now, Marster Abrams, I’se done. Before-God-dis is-de truf. I’se told-it-at-las’. Tole all-an’ now-I die-happy.
“A-little-more-water-Marster Abrams-if you-please, an’ den Ole-Peter-will-soon-be-at-rest.”