Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

“They ’re outside," said Mason. “I thought can't make you believe it, but I'm not guilty.” I'd just take your place at home for a few As he said this, Tom dropped his eyes from days."

Mason's face, and an expression of discourThe sheriff had gone along the hall to open agement overspread his own. the door leading into the room on the side “ You certainly don't seem like a guilty opposite the dungeon. Tom regarded Mason man,” said Hiram. a moment in silence, and presently said with “ The worst of it is,” said Tom, as they folemotion :

lowed the sheriff into the eastern room of the “How can I make anybody believe the jail, “ I can't think, to save my life, who 't was truth? They 'll say that a man who 'd kill that could have done the shooting. I don't another would lie about it. I believe I know of any enemy that Lockwood had, unshould n't care so much about the danger of less you might have called me one. I hated being hung, if I could only make a few people him and talked like a fool about shooting, but know that I did n't kill George Lockwood. I I never seriously thought of such a thing."

[ocr errors]

The eastern room of the wretched little jail Moscow. I went into the house and came out was about fifteen feet wide and twenty feet to go to Moscow and give myself up, but I long. In it were confined from time to time met the sheriff at the gate." ordinary prisoners, and occasionally lunatics, “The first thing is the inquest," said Mason. without separation on account of character or “ Have you thought about a lawyer ? " sex. Fortunately Tom had the jail now to “ There 's no use of a lawyer for that,” said himself.

Tom. “My fool talk about killing Lockwood The sheriff, who in those days was also the is circumstantial evidence against me, and I'll jailer, locked Mason and Tom in the eastern certainly be held for trial — unless the real room while he opened the outside door and murderer should turn up. And I don't know admitted Mrs. Grayson and Barbara to the who that can be. I've puzzled over it all hall. Then he locked the front door behind night.” them and proceeded to unlock the door of the “You studied with Mr. Blackman, I beeastern room. Barbara ran in eagerly and lieve," said Mason. “Could n't you get him threw her arms about Tom.

to defend you?” “ Tell me truly, Tom,” she whispered in his “ I don't know that I want him. He's alear, “ did you do it? Tell me the solemn ready prejudiced against me. He would n't truth, between you and me."

believe that I was innocent, and so he could n't “Before God Almighty, Barb," he answered, do any good.” “I did n't shoot George Lockwood, and I “But you 've got to have somebody," said did n't even see him on the camp-ground. Barbara. I was n’t in that part of the woods, and I had “I've been over the whole list,” said Tom, n't any pistol."

“ and I 'd rather have Abra'm than anybody “Tom, I believe you,” said Barbara, sob- else.” bing on his shoulder. Wondering that her “ Abra'm 'll do it,” said Mrs. Grayson;"1 brother did not return her embrace, she looked kin git him to do it. He's a little beholden down and saw his handcuffs, and felt, as she to me fer what I done fer him when he was had not before, the horror of his situation. little. But he 's purty new to the law-business,

Mrs. Grayson now gently pushed Barbara Tommy." aside and approached Tom.

“ Abra'm Lincoln 's rather new, but he's got "I did n't do it, mother,” said Tom; “I a long head for managing a case, and he's did n't do it.”

honest and friendly to us. The circuit court “Of course you did n't, Tommy; I never begins over at Perrysburg to-morrow, and he'll thought you

did I just knew you could n't like as not stop at the tavern here for dinner do it.” And she put her trembling arms about to-day. You might see him, mother." him.

“Tom! Tom!” The voice was a child's, Hiram had gone into the corridor from and it came from the outside of the windowmotives of delicacy.

grating. A child's fingers were clutched upon “ Could n't you move him into the east the stones beyond the grating; and before room ?” he said to the sheriff. “ It's too bad Tom could answer, the brown head of Janet to have to lie in that dungeon, without air, Grayson was lifted to the level of the high, and in August too. And is it necessary to square little window, and her blue eyes were keep his handcuffs on?

peering into the obscurity of the prison. “Well, you see, it's the regular thing to put Tom, are you there? Did they give you a man into the dungeon that's up for murder, any breakfast?" she faltered, startled and ready and to put handcuffs on. The jail's rather to cry at finding herself calling into a place weak, you know; and if he should escape – so obscure and apparently so void. I'd be blamed.”

“O Janet ! is that you ?” said Tom, putting Mason went into the dark room and ex- his face to the grating. “You blessed litamined the dirty, uncomfortable cot, and felt tle soul, you! But you must n't come to this of the damp walls. Then he returned to the dreadful place.” And Tom tried to wipe his east room just as Tom was explaining his flight eyes with his sleeve. from the camp-ground.

“ Yes, but I am sorry for you, Cousin Tom,” “I saw a rush,” he said, “and I went with she said, dropping to the ground again and the rest.

A man was telling in the dark that turning her head on one side deprecatingly; George Lockwood had been shot, and that “and I was afraid they would n't give you they were looking for a fellow named Gray- enough to eat. Here 's three biscuits.” She son and were going to hang him to the first pulled them out of her pocket with difficulty tree. I ran across the fields to our house, and and pushed them through the grating. by the time I got there I saw that I'd made “ Thank you, thank you," said Tom. “You a mistake. I ought to have come straight to are a dear, loving little darling. But see here,

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

Janet, you'd better not come here any more; ing his nephew, so far as the rigor of the law and don't call me cousin. It 's too bad you allowed. To steady-going people like the should have to be ashamed of your cousin.” Graysons the arrest of Tom on such a charge

“But I will call you cousin, an' I don' care was a severe blow; and his execution would what they say. Are you in there too, Barbara ? compromise for all time their hitherto unsulYou did 'n't kill anybody, did you?" lied respectability in their little world. They

“No; neither did Tom,” said Barbara, lean- drank their breakfast coffee and ate their ing down to the window.

warm biscuit and butter and fried ham and “Janet,” said Tom,“ d' you tell Uncle Tom eggs with rueful faces. The comments they and Aunt Charlotte that I did n't shoot any- made on Tom's career were embittered by body. They won't believe you, but it's a fact." their own share of the penalty. Janet had list

Janet had heard the news at the breakfast- ened till she had made out that Tom was in table. Sheriff Plunkett, wishing to conciliate jail for killing somebody. Then, after hearing so influential a person as Thomas Grayson the some rather severe remarks from her parents elder, had sent him word very early of the about Tom, she burst into tears, rose up and unfortunate predicament in which Tom found stamped her feet in passion, and stormed in himself, and had offered to comply with any her impotent, infantile way at her father and wishes Mr. Grayson might express concern- mother and the people who had locked up

Tom in jail. When the first gust of her indig- “I suppose so," said Grayson, looking out nation had found vent, she fled into the gar- of the window. den to cool off, as was her wont. After awhile “Now it 's not going to do for us to let she came back and foraged in the kitchen, them go without coming here to breakfast," where she pounced upon three biscuits which said the wife.“ People will say we ’re hardhad been left on a plate by the fire to keep hearted; and when they once get to talking them warm. With these she had made off there's no knowing what they won't say. They through the back gate of the garden, thence might blame us about Tom, though the Lord down the alley and across the public square knows we did our best for him.” to the jail.

“Will you go and ask Martha and Barbara Meantime a lively discussion was carried to come over?” said Grayson, with a sneaking on in the house.

desire to escape the disagreeable duty. “We've got to do something for Tom, I “I can't bear to,” said his wife. “I hate to suppose," said Mrs. Grayson, after the discus- go to the jail and see Tom there. Besides, sion of his blameworthiness was exhausted. if they 're coming I must make some coffee." “He's your nephew, and we can't get around Grayson stood still and looked out of the that. Goodness knows he 's given us trouble window. enough, and expense enough, already.” It was “Will they let them come if you ask 'em ?” a favorite illusion with the Graysons that they inquired Janet. had spent money on Tom, though he had “ Let who come ?said her father abearned all he had received.

stractedly. “ Yes,” said Grayson reluctantly; "it 'll be " Aunt Martha and Barbara and Tom.". expected of us, Charlotte, to stand by him. “Of course they'll not keep your Aunt He's got no father, you know. And I suppose Martha nor Barbara. They have n't killed George Lockwood was aggravating enough." anybody."

“ The Lord knows I 'm sorry for Tom; he “ Neither has Tom. He told me to tell you was always good to Janet." This reminded he had n't.” Mrs. Grayson of her daughter, and she went “I suppose they all talk that way. 'T ain't to the open door of the dining-room and like Tom to lie about anything though. He called, “Janet! O Janet! It's curious how generally faces it out, rain, hail, or shine. I she stands by Tom. She 's off in the sulks, wish to goodness he could prove that he did n't and won't answer a word I say. I suppose kill George. Where are you going, Janet ?” you 'll have to go his bail,” she said with ap- “To fetch Aunt Martha and Barbara. I prehension.

wish they 'd let Tom come too." "No, it 's not bailable. They don't bail Grayson spent as much time as possible in prisoners charged with capital offenses." getting his hat, and looking it over before put

" That 's a good thing, anyhow. I hate to ting it on. Then, when he could think of no have you go security.”

other pretext for delay, he started as slowly as “I suppose Martha 'll be able to pay the possible, in order to give Janet time to fetch lawyers," said Thomas Grayson. “She won't his relatives away from the jail before he should expect us to do any more for Tom. It's bad encounter them. Janet found her aunt comenough to have to stand the disgrace of it.” ing out of the prison in order to allow the

“Janet! Janet ! O Janet !" called Mrs. sheriff to go to breakfast. Grayson anxiously. “I declare, I 'm uneasy “ Aunt Martha,” cried Janet. “Ma wants about that child; it 's nearly half an hour you an' Barbara to come to breakfast. She since she went out. I wish you'd go and have sent me to tell you." a look for her."

“I don't like to go there,” said Barbara- to But at that moment Janet rushed in breath- her mother in an undertone. less through the kitchen.

But Mason, who was behind, perceiving “O Pa! I 've been over to the jail to see Barbara's hesitation, came up and whispered: Tom."

“ You 'd better go, Barbara. Tom will need “You've been to the jail!" said Grayson, all the help he can get from your uncle's posirecoiling in his heart from such an experiencé tion. And I 'll take the horse and put bim for Janet.

into your uncle's stable.” "Yes, an' they 've put Barbara and Aunt Martha in there too, along with Tom.” She was bursting with indignation.

“ Thomas,” said Mrs. Grayson, as she gathered up the hitherto neglected breakfast plates, The village of Moscow was founded by “ Martha and Barbara have come from home adventurous pioneers while yet Napoleon's this morning."

Russian expedition was fresh in all men's Vol. XXXV.-94.

XV.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

minds, and took from that memory its Rus- tion, except by slowly and intermittently worksian name, which, like most other transplanted ing his jaws in the manner of a ruminating names of the sort, was universally mispro- cow. nounced. The village had been planted in “ Howdy, Abe,” was the answer. “Where what is called an “ island,” that is, a grove yeh boun' fer?" surrounded by prairie on every side. The • Perrysburg," said the new arrival, alightearly settlers in Illinois were afraid to plant ing and stretching the kinks out of his long, themselves far from wood. As it stands to-day, lank limbs, the horse meanwhile putting his the pretty town is arranged about a large pub- head half-way to the ground and moving farlic square, neatly fenced, and with long hitch- ther into the cool shade. Then the horseman ing rails on all four sides of it. The inside of proceeded to disengage his saddle-bags from the square is trimly kept, and is amply shaded the stirrup-straps, now on one side of the by noble old forest-trees — almost the last sur- horse and then on the other. vivors of the grove that formed the “island.” Have yer hoss fed some corn ?” In askMoscow contains a court-house that is preten- ing this question Captain Biggs with some tious and costly, if not quite elegant, besides difficulty succeeded in detaching himself from other public buildings. On the streets facing the door-post, bringing his weight perpendicuthis park-like square nearly all the trade of larly upon his legs; this accomplished he slugthe thriving country-town is carried on. But gishly descended the three door-steps to the in the time of Tom Grayson's imprisonment ground and took hold of the bridle. the public square was yet a rough piece “What 's this I hear about Tom Grayson, of woods, with roots and stumps still obtrud- Cap'n?” said the new-comer, as he tried to ing where underbrush and trees had been cut pull and wriggle his trousers-legs down to out. There was no fence, and there were no their normal place. hitching-rails. The court-house of that day “Oh, he's gone 'n' shot Lockwood, like the was a newish frame building, which had the blasted fool he is. He wuz blowin' about it public-grounds all to itself except for the jail, afore he lef' town las' month, but nobody reckonone corner of the square. Facing the square, oned it wuz anything but blow. Some trouble on the side farthest from the jail, stood the vil- about k-yards an'a purty gal - John Albaugh's lage tavern. One half of it was of hewn logs, gal. I s'pose Tom 's got to swing fer it, 'less which marked it as dating back to the broad- you kin kinder bewilder the jury, like, an' get ax period of the town's growth; the other him off. Ole Mis' Grayson's in the settin'-room half had been added after the saw-mill age now, a-waitin' to see you about it.” began, and was yet innocent of paint, as were Captain Biggs turned his face, on which was the court-house and several other of the prin- a week's growth of stubby beard, towards that cipal buildings in the town. In front of the of his guest to see how he would take this intavern was a native beech-tree, left behind in formation. The tall, awkward young lawyer the general destruction. Under it were some only drew his brow to a frown and said nothrude benches which afforded a cool and favor- ing; but turned and went into the tavern with ite resort to the leisurely villagers. One of the his saddle-bags on his arm, and walking stiffly boughs of this tree served its day and genera- from being so long cramped in riding. Passtion doubly, for besides contributing to the ing through the cool bar-room with its moist shadiness of the street-corner, it supported a odors of mixed drinks, he crossed the hall inpendant square sign, which creaked most dole- to the rag-carpeted sitting-room beyond. fully whenever there was wind enough to set “Oh Abra'm, I 'm that glad to see you!” it swinging in its rusty iron sockets. The name But here the old lady's feelings overcame her of the hotel was one common to villages of and she could not go on. small attainments and great hopes; the sign “Howdy, Mrs. Grayson. It's too bad about bore for legend in red letters: “City Hotel, Tom. How did he come to do it?" R. Biggs."

“Lawsy, honey, he did n't do it." To the City Hotel there came, on this first “ You think he did n't ? ” day after Tom's arrest, one of those solitary “I know he did n't. He says so himself. horsemen who gave life to nearly every land. I've been a-waitin' here all the mornin' to scape and mystery to nearly every novel of see you, an' git you to defend him.” that generation. This horseman, after the fash- The lawyer sat down on the wooden settee ion of the age, carried his luggage in a pair of by Mrs. Grayson, and after a little time of saddle-bags, which kept time to his horse's trot silence said: by rapping against the flaps of his saddle. “You 'd better get some older man, like

“Howdy, Cap'n Biggs," said the traveler Blackman." to the landlord, who was leaning solidly against “ Tom won't have Blackman; he won't have the door-jamb and showing no sign of anima- nobody but Abe Lincoln, he says."

« AnteriorContinuar »