“I promise, Mars’ Emile. But be brave, man, be brave; remember you’se a free man now; freedom mighty sweet, Mars’ Emile. I’se ben free dese twenty years, eber sence old Marster Martinet died. He gin me freedom. Ship ahoy, here we are,” said the old negro, as he came alongside of the grim iron-clad, that stood like a huge rock in mid-ocean. Then the old man blew a shrill whistle through his hands that penetrated to the inmost recess of the man-of-war.
“Halloo! Is it you, Peter?” screamed back the mate, as he swung a huge lantern over the side of the vessel and looked down into the water below. “What brings you now, old humpback?”
“A friend, a man, a recruit to your sarvice, if ye wish. Take him, an’ do as you please.”
“Won’t you come aboard, old Peter?” added the jolly tar, aroused to receive the escaping prisoner. “It’s been so long since we saw you, we did not know but a shell had picked you up. Come aboard, General, we’ll show you some more bombs.”
“Not this time, cap’n, my rheumatiz is rather bad for so much climbin.’ I’ll jes’ wait down here for a letter. Ole Peter Martinet ain’t feered of fishes. He, he, he!”
Emile’s letter was written and handed to old Peter, who was soon again steering landward. When the sun shone again in the Queen City, old Peter was hobbling along his daily round of duty, singing occasionally in his own peculiar way, and wearing an expression as innocent as though the night-time had been an undisturbed season of peaceful repose and beautiful dreams.
A letter found upon the door-way of Leah’s lodgings, addressed to her, was picked up and handed to her about the hour that the jail was thrown into a tumult of consternation over the discovery that Emile Le Grande had escaped.
How and whence this letter came was ever a mystery. “U. S. Blockader “Thunderbolt.” “Two o’clock A. M.
“Beloved Leah: The die is cast, that divides us again. Fate, that has so long seemed cruel, has again been kind. Unlooked-for, unhoped-for aid reached me in my prison-cell, and enabled me to escape. I know I am innocent of crime; Heaven knows it; but I feared my tormentors. Those who sought me on a foreign shore, would certainly move earth and sky to prove my guilt. I hope for a brighter day, when we shall be reunited in peace and happiness. I could do nothing for you, were I to stay and brave the storm that awaits me. It might engulf me. I go, with the hope of a bright future yet. Whither I shall go I know not. Maybe to France, where my father has gone. I have nothing to remain in this country for but yourself; and I cannot, and dare not stay near you. Heaven shield and keep you and my child till I can send you succor! If I live, it will come, though it cost my life to obtain it. I dare not look ahead; but be hopeful and brave, faithful, loving Leah, and patiently await a brighter day. When this wretched war is ended, if I cannot come to you, you shall come to me. Living, longing, hoping, for that coming time, with a thousand embraces I am, and shall ever be,