“Le Grande, here’s a supper for a king. Cheer up, man, and eat it. Old Dinah brought it from your wife, and she says the bread is ‘perticklar fine.’”
“I want no supper to-night, jailer. But I’ll keep it, for my wife’s sake.”
“Old Dinah said you must eat, whether you craved food or not; said you must eat to be strong.” The jailer deposited the small basket that contained the tempting brown buns and some cold slices of ham, and departed.
For a moment Emile still remained crouched in his corner, and listened to the dying footsteps of the retreating jailer; then rousing himself, he moved forward, and lifting up the basket, said:
“For love’s sake, I’ll taste the bread, not from hunger. Heaven knows when I shall feel hunger again.” The daylight was nearly gone, but enough light penetrated the dismal cell to reveal the contents of the basket. Taking up a soft brown loaf, he turned it in his hand, then laid it down. Again he picked it up, and said, “It is so nice, for love’s sake I’ll taste it.” Then he broke it gently, and there fell into his hand from it a small piece of brown paper. Astonished, he opened it, and read these words:
“An unknown friend wishes to help you. Meet me at midnight at the prison gate. I’ll save you. Skeleton keys and wires will enable you to escape, Find them in the buns. As you value your life and liberty meet me.”
“What means this?” said the terrified prisoner. “Is Heaven kind at last?” and then he curiously and cautiously opened the bread that, sure enough, yielded up the secreted appliances for effecting his escape. In astonishment, even terror, Emile held these unlawful little contrivances in his hand for a time, eyeing them curiously, and then half-fearfully tucked them away in his bosom.
“Who is this unknown friend, I wonder, that so desires my escape?” pondered Emile, as he watched the darkening twilight as it withdrew the last vestige of daylight from his cell. “Can it be Leah who has done this, my own desolate Leah? Can she save me at last? She upon whose heart I have innocently brought such sorrow and disappointment? Alas! alas! dear heart! But should it prove some one else, how can I leave my wife and child? What if it should prove to be an enemy trying to betray me into further trouble? And yet I do not fear. This dreary cell has made me tired of life, and death were welcome if it comes in the struggle for freedom! No, I cannot stay; I’ll leave this cursed place, though I be betrayed again-leave it, though my escape may take me heaven knows where-leave it, and hope a brighter future is bringing me prosperity and a peaceful reunion with those who are so dear to me. Stay I cannot, I dare not. My tormentors are insatiable, my innocence disbelieved, my friends gone; money I have none. I shrink from the coming ordeal. The promise of freedom is offered me. I accept it.