« PreviousContinue »
the sheriff,” said the speaker boldly, as he, unbidden, entered the house.
“You the sheriff! What can you want here?”
Turning to the men without, he said in an un. dertone:
“Guard the doors." The dumfounded mother repeated: “You the sheriff! What do you want here?”
“I want to see that precious son of yours, widow Stevens, and I trow he will guess the object of
“My son! Surely he hath done no wrong. He hath broken no law.”
“Where is he?"
The voice of the sheriff was pitched considerably above the ordinary key, and Charles Stevens, hearing it in the kitchen, became alarmed, and hastened into the front apartment, saying: "I am here.
Is it me you want to see?” “Yes, Charles Stevens, I arrest you in the king's name."
“ Arrest me? Marry! what offence have I done that I should be arrested by the king's officers ?
"It is murder!” he answered. “Murder!” shrieked both the mother and son.
Verily, it is,” answered the sheriff. Then he produced a warrant issued on the complaint of
Sarah Williams, charging Charles Stevens with the murder of one Samuel Williams.
Charles could scarcely believe his ears, when he heard the warrant read. He had for a long time known Sarah Williams to be a bold, scheming woman; but that she would proceed to such a bold, desperate measure as this seemed impossible.
“I am innocent!” he declared, while his mother sank into a chair and buried her face in her hands.
“It is ever thus. The most guilty wretch on earth is innocent according to his tell,” the sheriff answered.
Charles Stevens besought the man not to confine him in jail, but was told there was no help for it, and he was hurried away to prison, leaving his mother overcome with grief in her chair.
It was some days before the news of Charles Stevens' arrest reached Boston. The prosecution was interested in keeping the matter from the friends of the accused, for the Stevens family were known to have many friends in high places in the colonies, and they might interfere in the coming trial.
Cora Waters lived for weeks in ignorance of the peril of the man she loved. Her father had come home, her uncle was with them again, and she was almost happy. Poor child of misfortune, she had never known real happiness.
Bleak winter was taking his departure and a smiling spring promised to be New England's guest. Hope and peace and newness of life always come with spring. Spring gladdens the heart and rejuvenates the aged.
One morning, while the frosty breath of winter yet lingered on the air, Cora Waters, who was an early riser, saw a large ship entering the harbor. The wind was dead against the vessel; but she was skillfully handled and tacked this way and that and gradually worked her way into the harbor. A wreath of smoke from one of her ports was followed by the heavy report of a cannon, which salute was answered by a shot from the shore.
“The ship will soon be in,” the girl declared. “I will go and see it.”
In small seaport towns, such as Boston was at that day, the appearance of a ship caused as much excitement as the arrival of a train on a new railroad in a western village does to-day. Many people were hastening down to the beach where the boat would bring in passengers. Some were expecting friends. Others had letters from loved ones across the sea; but Cora had no such excuse. It was simply girlish curiosity which induced her to go with the crowd to the beach.
Boats had been lowered from the vessel, which, having no deck, could not get into shore and was
forced to cast anchor some distance off. The boats, filled with passengers, were rowed ashore.
Cora stood with a careless, idle air gazing on the gentlemen and ladies as they disembarked. None specially excited her interest. Many were there greeting relatives and friends, but she had no friend or relative, and what were all those people to her?
She was about to turn away, when a face and pair of dark-blue eyes attracted her attention. She involuntarily started and stared impudently at the stranger, her heart beating, and her breath coming in short quick gasps. “That face—that face! I have seen in
my dreams!” she thought.
It was the pale face of a woman, still beautiful, although her features showed lines of suffering and anxiety. She was dressed in black from head to foot, and a veil of jet black was wound round her head. For a few moments, she stood looking about and then came directly to Cora and asked:
“Young maid, do you live in this town?”
“I do, for the present,” Cora answered, though she instinctively trembled, for that voice, too, sounded like a long-forgotten dream. What strange spell was this which possessed her? The woman asked:
“Can you direct me to a house of public entertainment?
“Come with me.”
Cora knew that the lady had suffered with seasickness, and was anxious to reach land. She hastened with her to a public house kept by a widow Stevens, whose husband was a distant relative of Charles. As they walked up the hill toward the house, the woman continued to ply Cora with questions:
“Are you a native of America ?” she asked.
“I was quite a child when I came," she answered.
“Have you lived a long while in this town?" “Only a few months,” she answered.
They had nearly reached their destination, when Cora saw her father coming toward them.
At sight of his daughter's companion, the face of the father became white as death, and, bounding forward, he pulled her aside, saying:
“No, no! Cora, you shall not go another step with her!”
At sound of his voice, the woman in black seized his arm and cried: