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DARK NIGHT'S WORK.
By the Author of "Mary Barton,"
Printed from the Manuscript and
early Proof-sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."
SUDDENLY there was a shock and
stound all over the vessel, her progress was stopped, and a rocking vibration
was felt every where. The quarter-deck was filled with blasts of steam, which
obscured every thing. Sick people came rushing up out of their berths in strange
undress; the steerage passengers—a motley and picturesque set of people, in many
varieties of gay costume—took refuge on the quarter-deck, speaking loudly in all
varieties of French and Italian patois. Ellinor stood up in silent wondering
dismay. Was the Santa Lucia going down on the great deep, and Dixon unaided in
his peril? Dr. Livingstone was by her side in a moment. She could scarcely see
him for the vapor, nor hear him for the roar of the escaping steam.
"Do not be unnecessarily
frightened," he repeated, a little louder. "Some accident has occurred to the
engines. I will go and make instant inquiry, and come back to you as soon as I
can. Trust to me."
He came back to where she sat
"A part of the engine is broken,
through the carelessness of these Neapolitan engineers; they say we must make
for the nearest port—return to Civita, in fact."
"But Elba is not many miles
away," said Ellinor; "if this steam were but away you could see it still."
"And if we were landed there we
might stay on the island for many days; no steamer touches there; but if we
return to Civita we shall be in time for the Sunday boat."
"Oh, dear, dear!" said Ellinor.
"To-day is the second—Sunday will be the fourth—the assizes begin on the
seventh; how miserably unfortunate!"
"Yes," he said, "it is. And these
things always appear so doubly unfortunate when they hinder our serving others.
But it does not follow that because the assizes begin at Hellingford on the
seventh that Dixon's trial will come on so soon. We may still get to Marseilles
on Monday evening, on by diligence to Lyons; it will, it must, I fear, be
Thursday, at the earliest, before we reach Paris—Thursday, the eighth—and I
suppose you know of some exculpatory evidence that has to be hunted up?"
He added this unwillingly; for he
saw that Ellinor was jealous of the secrecy she had hitherto maintained as to
her reasons for believing Dixon innocent; but he could not help thinking that
she, a gentle, timid woman, unaccustomed to action or business, would require
some of the assistance which he would have been so thankful to give her;
especially as this untoward accident would increase the press of time in which
what was to be done would have to be done.
But no. Ellinor scarcely replied
to his half-inquiry as to her reasons for hastening to England. She yielded to
all his directions, agreed to his plans, but gave him none of her confidence,
and he had to submit to this exclusion from sympathy in the exact causes of her
Once more in the dreary sala,
with the gaudy painted ceiling, the bare, dirty floor, the innumerable rattling
doors and windows! Ellinor was submissive and patient in demeanor, because so
sick and despairing at heart. Her maid was ten times as demonstrative of
annoyance and disgust; she who had no particular reason for wanting to reach
England, but who thought it became her dignity to make as though she had.
At length the weary time was
over, and again they sailed past Elba and neared Marseilles. Now Ellinor began
to feel how much assistance it was to her to have Dr. Livingstone for a
"courier," as he had several times called himself.
He secured the earliest places in
the diligence while Ellinor and the maid were only struggling through the douane,
along with most of their fellow-passengers; he provided that a comfortable meal
should be ready for them before starting; and placed them in the coupe, which he
had secured for the long day-and-night journey, himself retiring to the "interieur."
All through the traveling across France he occupied another compartment or
another carriage to that in which Ellinor was placed; but he was always at their
window if there was any stoppage, to learn their wishes and wants. The waters of
the Rhone were out, and flooded the country through which the diligence had to
pass, and caused a delay of two days. Ellinor seemed as one stupefied with
repeated disappointments. At Paris he brought Ellinor a Galignani of two days
old. He could not help looking over her shoulder as she searched its columns for
some of the intelligence she craved. There was nothing to be learned from them;
a bare announcement of Dixon's approaching trial for a murder committed sixteen
years ago was all that was to be seen. Ellinor laid down the paper, and sighed.
"We shall be in England
to-morrow," said he, with quick sympathy. "We can be in Hellingford the morning
"Thank you; you are very good.
But after I am in England I must go on alone. You must not think me ungrateful,"
continued she, with a faint effort at a smile on her pale face. "Some time I
will tell you how glad I am you have come with me. I could not have done without
your kind help, though I thought once I could. But just now I have no heart to
express gratitude or any other feeling but one."
"But you say you once thought you
have done without my help on the
journey, and yet you see I have really been of use to you—may it not be the same
now?" asked he, anxiously.
" No," said she. "It was all
plain sailing then, but now I must do all myself as well as I can; a terrible—
You must trust me now to judge for myself, for I am aware of circumstances
which— I can not go on talking about it, for you have been so kind to me I shall
say something that I shall be sorry for afterward."
And with this he was obliged to
Off again, to the coast of
France, across the Channel to London, as fast as steam could carry them.
"Where now?" said the Canon, as
they approached the London Bridge station.
"To the Great Western," said she;
"Hellingford is on that line, I see. But, please, now we must part."
"Then I may not go with you to
Hellingford? At any rate you will allow me to go with you to the railway
station, and do my last office as courier in getting you your ticket and placing
you in the carriage."
So they went together to the
station, and learned that no train was leaving for Hellingford for two hours.
There was nothing for it but to go to the hotel close by and pass away the time
as best they could.
Ellinor called for her maid's
accounts, and dismissed her. Some refreshment that the Canon had ordered was
eaten, and the table cleared. He began walking up and down the room, his arms
folded, his eyes cast down. Every now and then he looked at the clock on the
mantle-piece. When that showed that it only wanted a quarter of an hour to the
time appointed for the train to start, he came up to Ellinor, who sat leaning
her head upon her hand, her hand resting on the table.
"Miss Wilkins," he began—and
there was something peculiar in his tone which startled Ellinor—"I am sure you
will not scruple to apply to me if in any possible way I can help you in this
sad trouble of yours."
"No, indeed I won't!" said
Ellinor, gratefully, and putting out her hand as a token. He took it and held
it; she went on a little more hastily than before; "You know you were so good as
to say you would go at once and see Miss Monro, and tell her all you know, and
that I will write to her as soon as I can."
"May I not ask for one line?" he
continued, still holding her hand.
"Certainly; so kind a friend as
you shall hear all I can tell—that is, all I am at liberty to tell."
"A friend! Yes, I am a friend;
and I will not urge any other claim just now. Perhaps—"
Ellinor could not affect to
misunderstand him. His manner implied even more than his words.
"No!" she said, eagerly. "We are
friends. That is it. I think we shall always be friends; though I will tell you
now—something—this much—it is a sad secret. God help me! I am as guilty as poor
Dixon, if, indeed, he is guilty; but he is innocent—indeed he is!"
"If he is no more guilty than
you, I am sure he is! Let me be more than your friend, Ellinor—let me know all,
and help you all that I can, with the right of an affianced husband."
"No, no!" said she, frightened
both at what she had revealed, and his eager, warm, imploring manner. "That can
never be. You do not know the disgrace that may be hanging over me."
"If that is all," said he, "I
take my risk; if that is all, if you only fear that I may shrink from sharing
any peril you may be exposed to."
"It is not peril; it is shame and
obloquy," she murmured.
"Well! shame and obloquy.
Perhaps, if I knew all, I could shield you from it."
"Don't, pray, speak any more
about it now; if you do, I must say 'No.' "
She did not perceive the implied
encouragement in these words; but he did, and they sufficed to make him patient.
The time was up, and he could only render her his last services as courier, and
none other but the necessary words at starting passed between them. But he went
away from the station with a cheerful heart; while she, sitting alone and quiet,
and at last approaching near to the place where so much was to be decided, felt
sadder and sadder, heavier and heavier.
ALL the intelligence Ellinor had
gained since she had seen the Galignani in Paris had been from the waiter at the
Great Western Hotel, who, after returning from a vain search for an unoccupied
Times, had volunteered the information that there was an unusual demand for the
paper because of Hellingford Assizes, and the trial there for murder that was
Thee were no electric telegraphs
in those days; at every station Ellinor put her head out and inquired if the
murder trial at Hellingford was ended. Some porters told her one thing, some
another, in their hurry: she felt that she could not rely on them.
"Drive to Mr. Johnson's, in the
High Street —quick, quick. I will give you half a crown if you will go quick."
For, indeed, her endurance, her
patience was strained almost to snapping; yet at Hellingford station, where
doubtless they could have told her the truth, she dared not ask the question. It
was past eight o'clock at night. In many houses in the little country town there
were unusual lights and sounds. The inhabitants were showing their hospitality
to such of the strangers brought by the Assizes who were lingering there, now
that the business that had brought them was over. The judges had left the town
that afternoon, to wind up the Circuit by the short list of a neighboring county
Mr. Johnson was entertaining a
dinner-party of attorneys when he was summoned from dessert by the announcement
of a "lady who wanted to speak to him immediate and particular."
He went into his study in not the
best of tempers. There he found his client, Miss Wilkins, white and ghastly,
standing by the fire-place, with her eyes fixed on the door.
"It is you, Miss Wilkins! I am
"Dixon!" said she. It was all she
Mr. Johnson shook his head.
"Ah! that's a sad piece of
business, and I'm afraid it has shortened your visit at Rome."
"Ay, I am afraid there's no doubt
of his guilt. At any rate the jury found him guilty, and—"
"And!" repeated she, quickly,
sitting down, the better to bear the words that she knew were coming.
"Is condemned to death!"
"The Saturday but one after the
judges left the town, I suppose—it's the usual time."
"Who tried him?"
"Judge Corbet; and for a new
judge I must say I never knew one who got through his business so well. It was
really as much as I could stand to hear him condemning the prisoner to death.
Dixon was undoubtedly guilty, and he was as stubborn as could be—a sullen old
fellow who would let no one help him through. I am sure I did my best for him,
at Miss Monro's desire and for your sake. But he would furnish me with no
particulars, help us to no evidence. I had the hardest work to keep him from
confessing all before witnesses, who would have been bound to repeat it as
evidence against him. Indeed I never thought he would have pleaded 'Not Guilty.'
I think it was only with a desire to justify himself in the eyes of some old
Hamley acquaintances. Good God, Miss Wilkins! what's the matter? You're not
fainting!" He rang the bell till the rope remained in his hands. "Here, Esther!
Jerry! Whoever you are, come quick! Miss Wilkins has fainted! Water! Wine! Tell
Mrs. Johnson to come here directly!"
Mrs. Johnson, a kind, motherly
woman, who had been excluded from the "gentleman's dinner-party," and had
devoted her time to superintending the dinner her husband had ordered, came in
answer to his call for assistance, and found Ellinor lying back in her chair
white and senseless.
"Bessy, Miss Wilkins has fainted;
she has had a long journey, and is in a fidget about Dixon, the old fellow who
was sentenced to be hung for that murder, you know. I can't stop here; I must go
back to those men. You bring her round, and see her to bed. The blue-room is
empty since Horner left. She must stop here, and I'll see her in the morning.
Take care of her, and keep her mind as easy as you can, will you, for she can do
no good by fidgeting."
And knowing that he left Ellinor
in good hands, and with plenty of assistance about her, he returned to his
Ellinor came to herself before
"It was very foolish of me, but I
could not help it," said she, apologetically.
"No; to be sure not, dear. Here,
drink this; it is some of Mr. Johnson's best port-wine that he has sent out on
purpose for you. Or would you rather have some white soup — or what? We have had
every thing you could think of at dinner, and you've only to ask and have. And
then you must go to bed, my dear —Mr. Johnson says you must; and there's a
well-aired room, for Mr. Horner only left us this morning."
"I must see Mr. Johnson again,
"But indeed you must not. You
must not worry your poor head with business now; and Johnson would only talk to
you on business. No; go to bed and sleep soundly, and then you'll get up quite
bright and strong, and fit to talk about business."
"I can not sleep—I can not rest
till I have asked Mr. Johnson one or two more questions; indeed I can not,"
Mrs. Johnson knew that her
husband's orders on such occasions as the present were peremptory, and that she
could come in for a good conjugal scolding after what he had said, she ventured
to send for him again. Yet Ellinor looked so entreating and wistful that she
could hardly find in her heart to refuse her. A bright thought struck her.
"Here is pen and paper, my dear.
Could you not write down the questions you wanted to ask? and he'll just jot
down the answers upon the same piece of paper. I'll send it in by Jerry. He has
got friends to dinner with him, you see."
Ellinor yielded. She sat, resting
her weary head on her hand, and wondering what were the questions which would
have come so readily to her tongue could she have been face to face with him. As
it was she only wrote this:
"How early can I see you
to-morrow morning? Will you take all the necessary steps for my going to Dixon
as soon as possible? Could I be admitted to him to-night?"
The penciled answers were:
"Eight o'clock. Yes. No."
"I suppose he knows best," said
Ellinor, sighing as she read the last word. "But it seems wicked in me to be
going to bed, and he so near in prison."
When she rose up and stood she
felt the former dizziness return, and that reconciled her to seeking rest before
she entered upon the duties which were becoming clearer before her now that she
knew all, and was on the scene of action.
Mrs. Johnson brought her
white-wine whey instead of the tea she had asked for; and perhaps it was owing
to this that she slept so
soundly. When she wakened the
clear light of dawn was fully in the room. She could not remember where she was;
for so many mornings she had wakened up in strange places that it took her
several minutes before she could make out the geographical whereabouts of the
heavy blue moreen curtains, the print of the lord-lieutenant of the county on
the wall, and all the handsome ponderous mahogany furniture that stuffed up the
room. As soon as full memory came into her mind she started up; nor did she go
to bed again, although she saw by her watch on the dressing-table that it was
not yet six o'clock. She dressed herself with the dainty completeness so
habitual to her that it had become an unconscious habit, and then—the instinct
was irrepressible—she put on her bonnet and shawl, and went down, past the
servant on her knees cleaning the door-step, out into the fresh open air; and so
she found her way down the High Street to Hellingford Castle, the building in
which the courts of assize were held—the prison in which Dixon lay condemned to
die. She almost knew she could not see him; yet it seemed like some amends to
her conscience for having slept through so many hours of the night if she made
the attempt. She went up to the porter's lodge, and asked the little girl
sweeping out the place if she might see Abraham Dixon. The child stared at her,
and ran into the house, bringing out her father, a great burly man, who had not
yet donned either coat or waistcoat, and who, consequently, felt the morning air
as rather nipping. To him Ellinor repeated her question.
"Him as is to be hung come
Saturday se'nnight? Why, ma'am, I've naught to do with it. You may go to the
governor's house and try; but, if you'll excuse me, you'll have your walk for
your pains. Them in the condemned cells is never seen by nobody without the
sheriff's order. You may go up to the governor's house, and welcome; but they'll
only tell you the same. Yon's the governor's house."
Ellinor fully believed the man,
and yet she went on to the house indicated as if she still hoped that in her
case there might be some exception to the rule, which she now remembered to have
heard of before, in days when such a possible desire as to see a condemned
prisoner was treated by her as a wish that some people might have, did
have—people as far removed from her circle of circumstances as the inhabitants
of the moon. Of course she met with the same reply, a little more abruptly
given, as if every man was from his birth bound to know such an obvious
She went out past the porter, now
fully clothed. He was sorry for her disappointment, but could not help saying,
with a slight tone of exultation,
"Well, you see I was right,
A WEDDING IN CAMP.
WE reproduce on
page 216 a picture of Mr.
Waud's, representing A MARRIAGE IN THE CAMP OF THE SEVENTH NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS
in the Army of the Potomac. Mr. Waud writes:
"An event to destroy the monotony
of life in one of Hooker's old regiments. The camp was very prettily decorated,
and being very trimly arranged among the pines, was just the camp a visitor
would like to see. A little before noon the guests began to arrive in
considerable numbers. Among them were
Generals Hooker, Sickles, Carr, Mott, Hobart
Ward, Revere, Bartlett, Birney, Berry, Colonel Dickinson, and other aids to
General Hooker; Colonels Burling, Farnham, Egan, etc. Colonel Francine and
Lieutenant-Colonel Price, of the Seventh, with the rest of the officers of that
regiment, proceeded to make all welcome, and then the ceremony commenced. In a
hollow square formed by the troops a canopy was erected, with an altar of drums,
officers grouped on each side of this. On General Hooker's arrival the band
played Hail to the Chief, and on the approach of the bridal party the Wedding
March. It was rather cold, windy, and threatened snow, altogether tending to
produce a slight pink tinge on the noses present; but the ladies bore it with
courage, and looked, to the unaccustomed eyes of the soldiers, like real angels
in their light clothing. To add to the dramatic force of the scene, the rest of
the brigade and other troops were drawn up in line of battle not more than a
mile away to repel an expected attack from Fredericksburg. Few persons are
wedded under more romantic circumstances than Nellie Lammond and Captain De
Hart. He could not get leave of absence, so she came down like a brave girl, and
married him in camp. After the wedding was a dinner, a ball, fire-works, etc.;
and on the whole it eclipsed entirely an opera at the Academy of Music in
dramatic effect and reality."
page 220 we publish a picture,
by Mr. Thomas Nast, representing the arrival of one of our regiments on a
Southern plantation, and their reception by the ladies and negroes of the
plantation. The picture explains itself. We append, however, a newspaper extract
from an officer's letter in Dixie:
Heavy planters live all along the
road, whose broad acres extend for miles, and whose aristocratic mansions show
them to be the nabobs of the soil. Long rows of negro cabins are seen at short
distances from the residence, indicating that the "institution" still flourishes
here. These negroes, in huge numbers, men, women, and children, come and evince
the most comical and unsophisticated manifestations of delight at our
appearance. The older ones bow, and grin, and scrape, and throw themselves into
all sorts of the most ludicrous attitudes. The younger ones dance and frisk
about in high glee. "Gora-mighty bless you, gemmen — may you live allers!"
exclaimed a delighted old darkey as we passed yesterday. At the same time he
bowed himself almost to the ground. These poor creatures are about all the
friends we have in this region. They most willingly give all the information