“When she had finished and risen, and readjusted her disarranged flounces, Christina took her tablet and wrote:
“I could not marry your son. As to the rest, I will think it over. Please do not come again.’
“The widow would have gotten down on her knees and gone at it again; but I took her aside and said to her:
’Do you not see that this poor girl is very weak, and your appeals distress her? Go home and I will communicate with you.’
“And I took her by the arm, and firmly but respectfully led her out of the room, furbelows, gold chains and all. She did not feel at all satisfied with the success of her mission; but I saw her into her carriage and told the driver to take her home. I was indignant. I felt that the whole thing was an attempt to play upon the sympathies of my poor little patient, and that the woman was a hollow, heartless old fraud.
“The next day, at the appointed hour, the chief of police came, accompanied by the prisoner. The latter had had no liquor for several days and was collapsed enough. All his courage and vanity had oozed out of him. He was a dilapidated wreck. He knew that the penitentiary yawned for him, and he felt his condition as deeply as such a shallow nature could feel anything. I scowled at the wretch in a way which alarmed him for his personal safety, and he trembled and hurried behind the policeman.
“Christina had been given a strengthening drink. The doctor was there with his finger on her pulse; she was raised up on some pillows. Her father and mother were present. When we entered she looked for an instant at the miserable, dejected little creature, and I saw a shudder run through her frame, and then she closed her eyes.
“‘Miss Jansen,’ said the chief of police, ’be kind enough to say whether or not this is the man who tried to kill you.’
“I handed her the tablet and pencil. She wrote a few words. I handed it to the chief.
“‘What does this mean?’ he said, in evident astonishment.
“I took the tablet out of his hand, and was thunderstruck to find on it these unexpected words:
“’This is not the man.’
“‘Then,’ said the chief of Police, ’there is nothing more to do than to discharge the prisoner.’
“Her father and mother stepped forward; but she waved them back with her hand; and the chief led the culprit out, too much stunned to yet realize that he was free.
“‘What does this mean, Christina?’ I asked, in a tone that expressed indignation, if not anger.
“She took her tablet and wrote:
“’What good would it do to send that poor, foolish boy to prison for many years? He was drunk or he would not have hurt me. It will do no good to bring disgrace on a respectable family. This great lesson may reform him and make him a good man.’
“At that moment I made up my mind to make Christina my wife, if she would have me. Such a soul was worth a mountain of rubies. There are only a few of them in each generation, and fortunate beyond expression is the man who can call one of them his own!