Once more within the familiar limits of the old city, she paused, and leaning against the angle of a shop, looked curiously about her, as if endeavoring to define certain localities. At length she said softly:
“Yes, I see the Citadel, and Christ Church spire. But I must rest. I’ll enter yonder inn.” She stepped forward toward a shabby looking tavern a few doors off, where a crowd of garrulous soldiers were grouped about the door. Too weary to observe any one, Leah staggered into the forlorn, miserably furnished reception-room of the Good Cheer House, and called for food and lodging for herself and child for the night.
The ruddy beams of an October sun shone through the one window of the little rudely furnished room that Leah occupied in the inn. Weary from her long, toilsome journey, she still slept. Though tired nature for a time resisted the intrusion of the garish sunlight, the chirruping of her little child at length aroused Leah to consciousness. The tiny, dimpled hands were tangled in the long black hair that hung about the mother’s shoulders in dishevelled grace, and the merry child laughed gleefully as the mother awoke.
“Is my bird always ready to sing?” said Leah tenderly, as she beheld the innocent, happy child by her side. “May you never know a note of sadness, my love; sing on, while you may.” Then Leah sadly turned her eyes upward to the cracked, stained wall overhead, and faintly murmured, “Here I am at last, alone-alone in the Queen City, friendless and penniless-alone in the place where I once possessed thousands-alone in my search for the only being who loves me, in this wide world-alone, with nothing to cheer me but my own faithful, resolute heart. When that fails me I shall find rest. Poor, beloved Emile!”
Overcome by weariness, anxiety, and fear, Leah covered her face with the coarse brown coverlet of her bed, and wept and sobbed in very bitterness of heart. At length, astonished at the withdrawal of its mother’s smile, the child cried; and ceasing to weep, Leah clasped the helpless creature to her bosom in a fond, impassioned embrace. “God keep you, blessed one!” she said with deepest pathos. “Heaven shield you, my angel, from such sorrow as now fills your mother’s heart! But I must be up and doing. Weeping will not accomplish the end and object of my coming.”
Arising resolutely, she hastily performed their simple toilets, and descended the narrow stairway to the breakfast-room.
The plain repast was soon over, the coarse, garrulous inmates of the inn departed, and Leah with her child sat alone in the ill-furnished reception-room. She had sent a wiry-looking little negro boy for the proprietor, and was awaiting his appearance. Suddenly a thump, thump, thump, sounded along the narrow entry, and a short, red-faced, bald-headed, pompous looking old man, with a wooden leg, stood before her.