Overpowered by these thoughts, the wretched man, enfeebled in mind as well as body, sank down upon the hard pallet, when the sound of footsteps was again heard along the corridor, coming nearer, nearer, nearer to his cell door. Startled, Emile heard the bolt draw back once more and the door open, and the jailer stood before him.
“Le Grande,” he said, “there’s a woman below says she must see you-a beggar; shall I bring her up?”
“Yes, man, in the name of mercy, bring her up. I’d see a dog that would come to me in this lonely place. Bring her up, beggar or not, though I have nothing to give her.”
The jailer withdrew, and Emile’s heart beat wildly from the strange announcement that even a beggar wished to see him in his wretchedness now.
Again the footsteps resounded in the corridor, coming nearer, nearer, nearer, to the cell.
Emile had risen from his pallet, and searching in his pocket said, “I haven’t even so much as a fourpence for the poor old soul.”
The cell door opened. Emile saw the jailer, and a woman with a child. His eye flashed bright, his heart leaped to his throat. The woman’s face grew paler, and tottering forward she fell upon the prisoner’s bosom, and gasped, “My husband!”
He said, “Thank God. My wife! my wife! my child!”
It were impossible to chronicle the half that transpired in the eventful days of those eventful years. Days seemed months, and months seemed years, in their sad, slow progress. When the heart is happy, Time’s wing is light, but as every soul was sorrowful in those dark days, so the progress of the years was slow and dreary.
To none was the time so dark, and hopeless, as to Emile while he languished in prison, and to Leah, as she waited for an uncertain reunion. But the hopeless days had passed, and in unutterable joy the husband and wife clasped each other again. Now, she was never to leave him till the stern fiat of the law should decide his guilt or innocence. In an obscure abode, within the very shadow of the jail, Leah obtained a temporary home. The inadequacy of her means would have forbidden her more comfortable accommodations. But she desired only to dwell in obscurity, and be near, and with her husband, in his loneliness and misfortune. Without comment or observation, she passed in and out of the jail as frequently as the stern prison-law would allow. The jailer was a man who had occupied a higher position in life, and had sought this place to evade the merciless grasp of conscription. Often had he wondered at the pale, lovely face of this unhappy wife, and marked her tenderness toward the child that never seemed to weary the faithful arms that bore it so constantly about. “That woman has a history,” the jailer often said to himself.
But the days passed, and ere Leah had been a month within the Queen City, the trial was at hand. Pressing measures in these awfully chaotic times, Mr. Mordecai was about to bring his culprit to justice, from fear that delay would prove dangerous, if not disastrous, to his purposes.