With Lee in Virginia: A Story Of The American Civil War, by G. A. Henty, Chapter 10

With Lee in Virginia: A Story Of The American Civil War.

Chapter X.
The Escape.

The discipline in the prison at Elmira was not rigorous. The prisoners had to clean up the cells, halls, and yard, but the rest of their time they could spend as they liked. Some of those whose friends had money were able to live in comparative luxury, and to assist those who had no such resources; for throughout the war there was never any great difficulty in passing letters to and from the South. The line of frontier was enormous, and it was only at certain points that hostilities, were actively carried on; consequently letters and newspapers were freely passed, and money could be sent in the same way from one part of the country to another.

At certain hours of the day hawkers and vendors of such articles as were in most demand by the prisoners were allowed to enter the yard and to sell their wares to the Confederates. Spirits were not allowed to be carried in, but tobacco and all kinds of food were permitted to pass. Vincent had at Alexandria written a letter to his mother, and had given it to a man who represented that he made it his business to forward letters to an agent at Richmond, being paid for each letter the sum of a dollar on its delivery. Vincent therefore felt confident that the anxiety that would be felt at home when they learned that he was among the missing at the battle of Antietam would be relieved.

He was fairly supplied with money. He had, indeed, had several hundred dollars with him at the time he was captured; but these were entirely in Confederate notes, for which he got but half their value in Northern paper at Alexandria. He himself found the rations supplied in the prison ample, and was able to aid any of his fellow-prisoners in purchasing clothes to replace the rags they wore when captured.

One day Vincent strolled down as usual toward the gate, where, under the eye of the guard, a row of men and women, principally negroes and negresses, were sitting on the ground with their baskets in front of them containing tobacco, pipes, fruit, cakes, needles and thread, buttons, and a variety of other articles in demand, while a number of prisoners were bargaining and joking with them. Presently his eye fell upon a negro before whom was a great pile of watermelons. He started as he did so, for he at once recognized the well-known face of Dan. As soon as the negro saw that his master’s eye had fallen upon him he began loudly praising the quality of his fruit.

“Here, massa officer, here berry fine melyons, ripe and sweet; no green trash; dis un good right through. Five cents each, sah. Berry cheap dese.”

“I expect they cost you nothing, Sambo,” one of the Confederate soldiers said as he bought a melon. “Got a neighbor’s patch handy, eh?”

Dan grinned at the joke, and then selecting another from the bottom of his pile in the basket, offered it to Vincent.

“Dis fine fruit, sah. Me sure you please with him!”

Vincent took the melon and banded Dan five cents. A momentary glance was exchanged, and then he walked away and sat down in a quiet corner of the yard and cut open the melon. As he expected, he found a note rolled up in the center. A small piece of the rind had been cut out and the pulp removed for its reception. The bit of rind had then been carefully replaced so that the cut would not be noticed without close inspection. It was from one of his fellow-officers, and was dated the day after his capture. He read as follows:

“My Dear Wingfield.—We are all delighted this afternoon to hear that instead, as we had believed, of your being knocked on the head you are a prisoner among the Yanks. Several of us noticed you fall just as we halted at the river, and we all thought that from the way in which you fell you had been shot through the head or heart. However, there was no time to inquire in that terrific storm of shot and shell. In the morning when the burying parties went down we could find no signs of you, although we knew almost to a foot where you had fallen.

“We could only conclude at last that you had been carried off in the night by the Yanks, and as they would hardly take the trouble of carrying off a dead body, it occurred to us that you might after all be alive. So the colonel went to Lee, who at once sent a trumpeter with a flag down to the river to inquire, and we were all mightily pleased, as you may imagine, when he came back with the news that you were not only a prisoner, but unwounded, having been only stunned in some way. From the way you fell we suppose a round shot must have grazed your head; at least that is the only way we can account for it.

“Your horse came back unhurt to the troop, and will be well cared for until you rejoin us, which we hope will not be long. Your boy kept the camp awake last night with his howlings, and is at present almost out of his mind with delight. He tells me he has made up his mind to slip across the lines and make his way as a runaway to Alexandria, where you will, of course, be taken in the first place. He says he’s got some money of yours; but I have insisted on his taking another fifty dollars, which you can repay me when we next meet. As he will not have to ask for work, he may escape the usual lot of runaways, who are generally pounced upon and set to work on the fortifications of Alexandria and Washington.

“He intends to find out what prison you are taken to, and to follow you, with some vague idea of being able to aid you to escape. As he cannot write, he has asked me to write this letter to you, telling you what his idea is. He will give it to you when he finds an opportunity, and he wishes you to give him an answer, making any suggestion that may occur to you as to the best way of his setting about it. He says that he shall make acquaintances among the negroes North, and will find some one who will read your note to him and write you an answer. I have told him that if he is caught at the game he is likely to be inside a prison a bit longer than you are, even if worse doesn’t befall him. However, he makes light of this, and is bent upon carrying out his plans, and I can only hope he will succeed.

“I have just heard that we shall fall back across the Rappahannock to-morrow, and I imagine there will not be much hard fighting again until spring, long before which I hope you will be in your place among us again. We lost twenty-three men and two officers (Ketler and Sumner) yesterday. Good-by, old fellow! I need not say keep up your spirits, for that you are pretty sure to do.

“Yours truly, “James Sinclair.”

After the first start at seeing Dan, Vincent was scarcely surprised, for he had often thought over what the boy would do, and had fancied that while, if he supposed him dead, he would go straight back to the Orangery, it was quite possible that, should he hear that he was a prisoner, Dan might take it into his head to endeavor to join him. As to his making his escape, that did not appear to be a very difficult undertaking now that he had a friend outside. The watch kept up was not a very vigilant one, for such numbers of prisoners were taken on both sides that they were not regarded as of very great importance, and, indeed, the difficulty lay rather in making across the country to the Southern border than in escaping from prison; for with a friend outside, with a disguise in readiness, that matter was comparatively easy. All that was required for the adventure was a long rope, a sharp file, and a dark night.

The chief difficulty that occurred to Vincent arose from the fact that there were some twenty other prisoners in the same ward. He could hardly file through the bars of the window unnoticed by them, and they would naturally wish to share in his flight; but where one person might succeed in evading the vigilance of the guard, it was unlikely in the extreme that twenty would do so, and the alarm once given all would be recaptured. He was spared the trouble of making up his mind as to his plans, for by the time he had finished his letter the hour that the hucksters were allowed to sell their goods was passed, and the gates were shut and all was quiet.

After some thought he came to the conclusion that the only plan would be to conceal himself somewhere in the prison just before the hour at which they were locked up in their wards. The alarm would be given, for the list of names was called over before lock-up, and a search would of course be made. Still, if he could find a good place for concealment, it might succeed, since the search after dark would not be so close and minute as that which would he made next morning. The only disadvantage would be that the sentries would be especially on the alert, as, unless the fugitive had succeeded in some way in passing out of the gates in disguise, he must still be within the walls, and might attempt to scale them through the night. This certainty largely increased the danger, and Vincent went to bed that night without finally determining what had better be done.

The next morning while walking in the grounds he quite determined as to the place he would choose for his concealment if he adopted the plan he had thought of the evening before. The lower rooms upon one side of the building were inhabited by the governor and officers of the prison, and if he were to spring through an open window unnoticed just as it became dusk, and hide himself in a cupboard or under a bed there he would be safe for a time, as, however close the search might be in other parts of the building, it would be scarcely suspected, at any rate on the first alarm, that he had concealed himself in the officers’ quarters. There would, of course, be the chance of his being detected as he got out of the window again at night, but this would not be a great risk. It was the vigilance of the sentries that he most feared, and the possibility that, as soon us the fact of his being missing was known, a cordon of guards might be stationed outside the wall in addition to those in the yard. The danger appeared to him to be so great that he was half inclined to abandon the enterprise. It would certainly be weary work to be shut up there for perhaps a year while his friends were fighting the battles of his country; but it would be better after all to put up with that than to run any extreme risk of being shot.

When he had arrived at this conclusion be went upstairs to his room to write a line to Dan. The day was a fine one, and he found that the whole of the occupants of the room had gone below. This was an unexpected bit of good fortune, and he at once went to the window and examined the bars. They were thick and of new iron, but had been hastily put up. The building had originally been a large warehouse, and when it had been converted into a prison for the Confederate prisoners the bars had been added to the windows. Instead, therefore, of being built into solid stone and fastened in by lead, they were merely screwed on to the wooden framework of the windows, and by a strong turn-screw a bar could be removed in five minutes. This altogether altered the position. He had only to wait until the rest of the occupants of the room were asleep and then to remove the bar and let himself down.

He at once wrote:

“I want twenty yards of strong string, and the same length of rope that will bear my weight; also a strong turn-screw. When I have got this I will let you know night and hour. Shall want disguise ready to put on.”

He folded the note up into a small compass, and at the hour at which Dan would be about to enter he sauntered down to the gate. In a short time the venders entered, and were soon busy selling their wares. Dan had, as before, a basket of melons. Vincent made his way up to him.

“I want another melon,” he said, “as good as that you me last night.”

“Dey all de same, sah. First-rate melyons dose; just melt away in your mouf like honey.”

He held up one of the melons, and Vincent placed in his hands the coppers in payment. Between two of them he bad placed the little note. Dan’s bands closed quickly on the coins, and dropping them into his pocket he addressed the next customer, while Vincent sauntered away again. This time the melon was a whole one, and Vincent divided it with a couple of other prisoners for the fruit was too large for one person to consume, being quite as large as a man’s head.

The next day another melon was bought, but this time Vincent did not open it in public. Examining it closely, he perceived that it had been cut through the middle, and no doubt contained a portion of the rope. He hesitated as to his next step. If he took the melon up to his room he would be sure to find some men there, and would be naturally called upon to divide the fruit; and yet there was nowhere else he could hide it. For a long time he sat with his back to the wall and the melon beside him, abusing himself for his folly in not having told Dan to send the rope in small lengths that he could hide about him. The place where he had sat down was one of the quietest in the yard, but men were constantly strolling up and down. He determined at last that the only possible plan was in the first place to throw his coat over his melon, to tuck it up underneath it, then to get hold of one end of the ball of rope that it doubtless contained and to endeavor to wind it round his body without being observed. It was a risky business, and he would gladly have tossed the melon over the wall had he dared to do so; for if he were detected, not only would he be punished with much more severe imprisonment, but Dan might be arrested and punished most severely.

Unfortunately the weather was by no means hot, and it would look strange to take off his coat, besides, if he did so, how could he coil the rope round him without being observed? So that idea was abandoned. He got up and walked to an angle in the wall, and there sat down again, concealng the melon as well as he could between him and the wall when any one happened to come near him. He pulled the halves apart and found, as he had suspected, it was but a shell, the whole of the fruit having been scooped out. But he gave an exclamation of pleasure on seeing that instead, as be feared, of a large ball of rope being inside, the interior was filled with neatly-made hanks, each containing several yards of thin but strong rope, together with a hank of strong string.

Unbuttoning his coat, he thrust them in; then he took the melon rind and broke it into very small pieces and threw them about. He then went up to his room and thrust the hanks, unobserved, one by one among the straw which, covered by an army blanket, constituted his bed. To-morrow, no doubt, Dan would supply him somehow with a turn-screw. On going down to the gate next day he found that the negro had changed his commodity, and that this time his basket contained very large and fine cucumbers. These were selling briskly, and Vincent saw that Dan was looking round anxiously, and that an expression of relief came over his face as he perceived him. He had, indeed, but eight or ten cucumbers left.

“Cucumbers to-day, sah? Berry fine cucumbers—first-rate cucumbers dese.”

“They look rather over-ripe,” Vincent said.

“Not a bit, sah; dey just ripe. Dis berry fine one-ten cents dis.”

“You are putting up your prices, darkey, and are making a fortune out of us,” Vincent said as he took the cucumber, which was a very large and straight one. He had no difficulty with this, as with the melon; a sharp twist broke it in two as be reached the corner he had used the day previously. It had been out in half, one end had been scooped out for the reception of the handle of the turn-screw, and the metal been driven in to the head in the other half. Hiding it under his jacket, he felt that he was now prepared for escape.

He now asked himself whether be should go alone or take one or more of his comrades into his confidence, and finally determined to give a young Virginian officer named Geary, with whom he had been specially friendly during his imprisonment, and Jackson, a chance of escape. He did not like the latter, but be thought that after the reconciliation that had taken place between them it was only right to take him rather than a stranger. Drawing them aside, then, he told them that he had arranged a mode of escape; it was impossible that all could avail themselves of it, but that they were welcome to accompany him. They thanked him heartily for the offer, and, when he explained the manner in which be intended to make off, agreed to try their fortune with him.

“I propose,” he said, “as soon as we are fairly beyond the prison, we separate, and each try to gain the frontier as best he can. The fact that three prisoners have escaped will soon be known all over the country, and there would be no chance whatever for us if we kept together. I will tell my boy to have three disguises ready; and when we once put aside our uniforms I see no reason why, traveling separately, suspicion should fall upon us; we ought to have no difficulty until at any rate we arrive near the border, and there must be plenty of points where we can cross without going anywhere near the Federal camps.” The others at once agreed that the chances of making their way separately were much greater than if together. This being arranged, Vincent passed a note next day to Dan, telling him to have three disguises in readiness, and to be at the foot of the western wall, halfway along, at twelve o’clock on the first wet night. A string would be thrown over, with a knife fastened to it. He was to pull on the string till the rope came into his band, and to hold that tight until they were over. Vincent chose this spot because it was equally removed from the sentry-boxes at the corners of the yard, and because there was a stone seat in the yard to which one end of the rope could be attached.

That night was fine, but the next was thick and misty. At nine o’clock all were in bed, and he lay listening to the clocks in the distance. Ten struck, and eleven, and when he thought it was approaching twelve he got up and crept to the window. He was joined immediately by the others; the turn-screw was set to work; and, as he expected, Vincent found no trouble whatever with the screws, which were not yet rusted in the wood, and turned immediately when the powerful screw-driver was applied to them. When all were out the bar was carefully lifted from its place and laid upon the floor.

The rope was then put round one of the other bars and drawn through it until the two ends came together. These were then dropped to the ground below. Geary went first, Jackson followed, and Vincent was soon standing beside them. Taking one end of the rope, he pulled it until the other passed round the bar and fell at their feet. All three were barefooted, and they stole noiselessly across the yard to the seat, which was nearly opposite their window. Vincent had already fastened his clasp-knife to the end of the string, and he now threw it over the wall, which was about twenty feet high.

He had tied a knot at forty feet from the end, and, standing close to the wall, he drew in the string until the knot was in his hand. Another two yards, and he knew that the knife was hanging a yard from the ground against the wall. He now drew it up and down, hoping that the slight noise the knife made against the wall might aid Dan in finding it. In two or three minutes he felt a jerk, and knew that Dan had got it. He fastened the end of the string to the rope and waited. The rope was gradually drawn up; when it neared the end he fastened it to the stone seat.

“Now,” he said, “up you go, Geary.”

The order in which they were to ascend had been settled by lot, as Geary insisted that Vincent, who had contrived the whole affair, should be the first to escape; but Vincent declined to accept the advantage, and the three had accordingly tossed up for precedence.

Geary was quickly over, and lowered himself on the opposite side. The others followed safely, but not without a good deal of scraping against the wall, for the smallness of the rope added to the difficulty of climbing it. However, the noise was so slight that they had little fear of attracting attention, especially as the sentries would be standing in their boxes, for the rain was now coming down pretty briskly. As soon as they were down Vincent seized Dan by the hand.

“My brave lad,” he said, “I owe you my freedom, and I sha’n’t forget it. Now, where are the clothes?”

“Here day are, sah. One is a rough suit, like a workingman’s; another is a black-and-white sort of suit—a check-suit; de oder one is for you—a clargy’s suit, sir. You make very nice young minister, for sure.”

“All right, Dan!” Vincent said laughing; “give me the minister’s suit.”

“Then I will be the countryman,” Geary said.

There was a little suppressed laughter as they changed their clothes in the dark; and then, leaving their uniforms by the wall, they shook hands and started at once in different directions, lest they might come across some one who would, when the escape was known, remember four men having passed him in the dark.

“Now, Dan, what is the next move?” Vincent asked as they walked off. “Have you fixed upon any plan?”

“No special plan, sah, but I have brought a bag; you see I have him in my hand.”

“I suppose that’s what you carried the clothes in?”

“No, sir; I carried dem in a bundle. Dis bag has got linen, and boots, and oder tings for you, sah. What I tink am de best way is dis. Dar am a train pass trou here at two o’clock and stop at dis station. Some people always get out. Dar is an hotel just opposite the station, and some of de passengers most always go there. I thought the best way for you would be to go outside the station. Just when the train come in we walk across de road wid the others and go to hotel. You say you want bedroom for yo’self, and that your sarvant can sleep in de hall. Den in de morning you get up and breakfast, and go off by de fust train.”

“But then they may send down to look at the passengers starting, and I should be taken at once.”

“De train go out at seven o’clock, sah. I don’t expect dey find dat you have got away before dat.”

“No, Dan. We all turn out at seven, and I shall be missed then; but it will be some little time before the alarm is given, and they find out how we got away, and send out search-parties. If the train is anything like punctual we shall be off long before they get to the station.”

“Besides, sah, dar are not many people knows your face, and it not likely de bery man dat know you come to the station. Lots of oder places to search, and dey most sure to tink you go right away—not tink you venture to stop in town till the morning.”

“That is so, Dan; and I think your plan is a capital one.”

Dan’s suggestion was carried out, and at seven o’clock next morning they ware standing on the platform among a number of other parsons waiting for the train. Just as the locomotive’s whistle was heard the sound of a cannon boomed out from the direction of the prison.

“That means some of the prisoners have escaped,” one of the porters on the platform said. “There have been five or six of them got away in the last two months, but most of them have been caught again before they have gone far. You see, to have a chance at all, they have got to get rid of their uniforms, and as we are all Unionists about here that ain’t an easy job for ’em to manage.”

Every one on the platform joined in the conversation, asking which way the fugitive would be likely to go, whether there were any cavalry to send after him, what would be done to him if he were captured, and other questions of the same kind, Vincent joining in the talk. It was a relief to him when the train drew up, and he and Dan took their place in it, traveling, however, in different cars. Once fairly away, Vincent had no fear whatever of being detected, and could travel where he liked, for outside the prison there were not ten people who knew his face throughout the Northern States. It would be difficult for him to make his way down into Virginia from the North as the whole line of frontier there was occupied by troops, and patrols were on the watch night and day to prevent persons from going through the lines. He therefore determined to go west to St. Louis, and from there work his way down through Missouri. After two days’ railway traveling they reached St. Louis, a city having a large trade with the South, and containing many sympathizers with the Confederate cause. Vincent, having now no fear of detection, went at once to an hotel, and taking up the newspaper, one of the first paragraphs that met his eye was headed:

“Escape of three Confederate officers from Elmira. Great excitement was caused on Wednesday at Elmira by the discovery that three Confederate officers had, during the night, effected their escape from prison. One of the bars of the window of the ward on the first floor in which they were, with fifteen other Confederate officers, confined, had been removed; the screws having been taken out by a large screw-driver which they left behind them. They had lowered themselves to the yard, and climbed over the wall by means of a rope which was found in position in the morning. The rest of the prisoners professed an entire ignorance of the affair, and declare that until they found the beds unoccupied in the morning they knew nothing of the occurrence.

“This is as it may be, but it is certain they must have been aided by traitors outside the prison, for the rope hung loose on the outside of the wall, and must have been held by some one there as they climbed it. The inside end was fastened to a stone seat, and they were thus enabled to slide down it on the other side. Their uniforms were found lying at the foot of the wall, and their accomplice had doubtless disguises ready for them. The authorities of the prison are unable to account for the manner in which the turn-screw and rope were passed in to them, or how they communicated with their friends outside.”

Then followed the personal description of each of the fugitives, and a request that all loyal citizens would be on the look-out for them, and would at once arrest any suspicious character unable to give a satisfactory account of himself. As Vincent sat smoking in the hall of the hotel he heard several present discussing the escape of the prisoners.

“It does not matter about them one way or the other,” one of the speakers said. “They seem to be mere lads, and whether they escape or not will not make any difference to any one. The serious thing is that there must be some traitors among the prison officials, and that next time, perhaps two or three generals may escape, and that would be a really serious misfortune.”

“We need not reckon that out at present,” another smoker said. “We haven’t got three of the rebel generals yet, and as far as things seem to be going on, we may have to wait some time before we have. They are pretty well able to take care of themselves, I reckon.”

“They are good men, some of them, I don’t deny,” the first speaker said; “but they might as well give up the game. In the spring we shall have an army big enough to eat them up.”

“So I have heard two or three times before. Scott was going to eat them up, McClellan was going to eat them up, then Pope was going to make an end of ’em altogether. Now McClellan is having a try again, but somehow or other the eating up hasn’t come off yet. It looks to me rather the other way.”

There was an angry growl from two or three of those sitting round, while others uttered a cordial “That’s so.”

“It seems to me, by the way you put it, that you don’t wish to see this business come to an end.”

“That’s where you are wrong now. I do wish to see it come to an end. I don’t want to see tens of thousands of men losing their lives because one portion of these States wants to ride roughshod over the other. The sooner the North looks this affair squarely in the face and sees that it has taken up a bigger job than it can carry through, and agrees to let those who wish to leave it go if they like, the better for all parties. That’s what I think about it.”

“I don’t call that Union talk,” the other said angrily.

“Union or not Union, I mean to talk it, and I want to know who is going to prevent me?”

The two men rose simultaneously from their chairs, and in a second the crack of two revolvers sounded. As if they had only been waiting for the signal, a score of other men leaped up and sprang at each other. They had, as the altercation grew hotter, joined in with exclamations of anger or approval, and Vincent saw that although the Unionists were the majority the party of sympathizers with the South was a strong one. Having neither arms nor inclination to join in a broil of this kind he made his escape into the street the instant hostilities began, and hurried away from the sound of shouts, oaths, the sharp cracks of pistols, and the breaking of glass. Ten minutes later he returned. The hotel was shut up, but an angry mob were assembled round the door shouting, “Down with the rebels! down with the Secessionists!” and were keeping up a loud knocking at the door. Presently a window upstairs opened, and the proprietor put out his head.

“Gentlemen,” ha said, “I can assure you that the persons who were the cause of this disturbance all left the hotel by the back way as soon as the affair was over. I have sent for the police commissioner, and upon his arrival he will be free to search the house, and to arrest any one concerned in this affair.”

The crowd were not satisfied, and renewed their knocking at the door; but two or three minutes later an officer, with a strong body of police, arrived on the spot. In a few words he told the crowd to disperse, promising that the parties concerned in the affair would be taken in and duly deal with. He than entered the house with four of his men, leaving the rest to wait. Vincent entered with the constables, saying that he was staying at the house. The fumes of gunpowder were still floating about the hall, three bodies were lying on the floor, and several men were binding up their wounds. The police-officer inquired into the origin of the broil, and all present concurred in saying that it arose from some Secessionists speaking insultingly of the army of the Union.

Search was then made in the hotel, and it was found that eight persons were missing. One of the killed was a well-known citizen of the town; he was the speaker on the Union side of the argument. The other two were strangers, and no one could say which side they espoused. All those present declared that they themselves were Union men, and it was supposed that the eight who were missing were the party who had taken the other side of the question. The evidence of each was taken down by the police-officer. Vincent was not questioned, as, having entered with the constables, it was supposed he was not present at the affair.

In the morning Vincent read in the local paper a highly colored account of the fray. After giving a large number of wholly fictitious details of the fray, it went on to say: “The victims were Cyrus D. Jenkins, a much-esteemed citizen and a prominent Unionist; the other two were guests at the hotel; one had registered as P. J. Moore of Vermont, the other James Harvey of Tennessee. Nothing is as yet known as to the persons whose rooms were unoccupied, and who had doubtless made their escape as soon as the affray was over; but the examination of their effects, which will be made by the police in the morning, will doubtless furnish a clew by which they will be brought to justice.”

Having read this, Vincent looked for the news as to the escape from Elmira, being anxious to know whether his companions had been as fortunate as himself in getting clear away. He was startled by reading the following paragraph: “We are enabled to state that the police have received a letter stating that one of the officers who escaped from Elmira prison has adopted the disguise of a minister, and is traveling through the country with a black servant. At present the authorities are not disposed to attach much credit to this letter, and are inclined to believe that it has been sent in order to put them on a wrong scent. However a watch will doubtless be kept by the police throughout the country for a person answering to this description.”

Accustomed to rise early, Vincent was taking his breakfast almost alone, only two or three of the other guests having made their appearance. He finished his meal hastily, and went out to Dan, who was lounging in front of the hotel.

“Dan, go upstairs at once, pack the bag, bring it down and get out with it immediately. I will pay the bill. Don’t stop to ask questions now.”

Vincent then walked up to the desk at the and of the hall, at which a clerk was sitting reading the paper. Sincerely hoping that the man’s eye had not fallen on this paragraph, he asked if his account was made out. As he had fortunately mentioned on the preceding evening that he should be leaving in the morning, the bill was ready; and the clerk, scarce looking up from the paper, handed it to him. Vincent paid him the amount, saying carelessly, “I think I have plenty of time to catch the train for the east?”

The clerk glanced at the clock.

“Yes, it goes at 8, and you have twenty minutes. It’s only five minutes’ walk to the station.”

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