“My darling,” said Emile to his wife, the day before the proposed trial, “I desire that you shall not be present during the investigation of to-morrow. I fear you may be subjected to insult and indignity which I cannot resent, being in bonds. Besides, dear, you can do me no good.”
“Will my father be there, Emile?”
“I suppose that he will.”
“Then I cannot be present. I feel that I could never meet my father’s eye, unless I knew I had his forgiveness and his love still. But how can I leave you?”
“Remain quietly, dear, at your boarding-place, and await, hopefully, the end. I trust it will all be right. I know I am innocent,” said Emile, with a forced effort at cheerfulness.
“Heaven grant they may find you guiltless! But oh! Emile, I fear, I fear, I fear something-I cannot tell you how it is, but from the day you were taken from our happy Cuban home, not a ray of hope has illuminated my heart.”
“You must be brave, Leah, your sadness will weigh me down, and I cannot, must not go into the presence of my accusers with aught but a look of defiant innocence. Be brave, be cheerful, for my sake, and the sake of our innocent child.”
“Can I see you during the trial?”
“I suppose not; but as it will consume but a few days at most, you can remain quietly at your lodgings till the end.”
“The twilight is gathering in your window, Emile,” said Leah, after a thoughtful silence. “I should have gone an hour ago; your supper will be late to-night, dear; but oh! I fear to leave you! It seems as though you were going to your burial, to-morrow. What will become of me? What will become of our helpless darling?”
Distracted by the plaintive words and agonized look of his wife, Emile said:
“Would you madden me, Leah? Have I not asked you to be brave, even unto the end? If you falter now, I am lost. My health and my strength are already gone. Only the consciousness of innocence sustains me. Leave me now. Sheer me with the hope of acquittal, and be brave as only a woman can be.”
“Forgive me, Emile; forgive my weakness; and when we meet again, may the sunshine of a brighter, happier day, dawn over us. Good-by, my own Emile, my own beloved husband,” and the wretched wife laid her head upon the true, innocent heart of Emile, and wept her last burning tears of sorrow.
From the day that Leah first found her husband in the prison, and observed the coarse, uninviting fare that was served to the prisoners, she had daily prepared his food herself, and supplied it, too, from her scanty purse. By the permission of the jailer, this food was received twice a day from the hands of a trusty negro woman, known to many of the prison inmates as Aunt Dinah.
On this same evening when Leah parted so sadly from her husband, she went at once to her lodging place, and quickly prepared the tempting evening meal. After she had gone, Emile, once more alone, crouched down in a corner of his shadowy cell, and was lost in sorrowful revery, till the jailer, unheeded, opened the cell-door and handed in a basket, saying: