Leah’s heart throbbed wildly in her bosom, and every limb trembled like an aspen; but the old man did not detect her emotion, and continued:
“He will soon be tried here. I hear the friends of the dead man and the Mordecais are pushing up the trial. When the trial comes off, I guess the banker’s family will come back.”
“Is the unfortunate man confined in the old city prison here?” inquired Leah, with a faltering voice.
“Yes, madam. At one time a shell struck the old prison, and some of the inmates came nigh escaping, but they have had it repaired, and now it’s pretty full, sure. If a bomb could strike it, and finish all the inmates at once, I guess that would suit them. I don’t know why else they keep that jail full of thieves and murderers. I am too busy with my wayside house, giving cheer and comfort to my unfortunate countrymen, to bother much about the jail-birds. Yes, Michael Moran is too busy for that.”
“What is my bill, sir?” said Leah faintly, oblivious of the wordy Michael’s harangue, and thinking only of the prison-the dim, dark prison, where her husband was languishing. “I have no money but gold,” she continued; “how much do I owe you for my food and lodging?”
“Gold!” repeated Michael with eager emphasis; and then, as if fearing to betray his characteristic love of the shining ore, he added with an air of indifference, “well, I guess, as you have nothing else, gold will do. you owe me—” and he named a certain sum. “Remarkable low price. Michael Moran hasn’t the heart to be hard on a woman; and I know you’ll be sorry, to your dyin’ day, that you had to quit the Good Cheer House so soon.”
Leah made no reply and evinced no regret, as she handed out, from her low supply of money, the amount demanded. Hurrying away from the inn, with the child in her arms, she hastened forward toward the dismal jail that, as she well remembered, was many streets away.
On the same bright October morning that opened the eyes of Leah in the Queen City, Emile Le Grande was pacing to and fro in his prison cell at an early hour. The confinement of so many long, weary months had left its impress on every feature; and pale and emaciated he scarcely resembled his former self. Before him, on a tin platter, was the coarse prison breakfast, as yet untasted. Restless and miserable, he trod backward and forward within the narrow limits of his cell, now glancing up at the sunlight that streamed through the narrow window so far above his head, then turning his ready ear to catch the sound of every human footstep that trod the corridors, or moved in the adjoining cells of this wretched place.
Despair had settled upon him, and death was a coveted visitor. “Is it myself,” he muttered, as he convulsively ran his fingers through his hair, grown long from neglect, “or is it some other unfortunate wretch? Have I a wife and child on a far-off foreign shore, or is this thought a horrid, hideous nightmare, that comes to harrow my brain? O birds of the air, I envy you! O breezes that wander, I envy you! O sunlight, that streams through my window, give me my freedom, my freedom, I pray!”