« AnteriorContinuar »
parations as were necessary for the journey. They started for what was then thought the “far off west.”
Their first stop was in the city of D. The dark muddy streets through which they were compelled to pass were in keeping, Odora thought, with their future prospects. Mr. Willard took his family to a public house, so low and degraded in its character, that once, Mrs. Willard would not have allowed a servant to have entered it. But now she was obliged to stay there with her husband and children, for at least a week, the roads being so bad that it was impossible to get teams to carry them into the country. During their
supper, for which they had waited a full hour and a half, the landlady tried to entertain them by giving the full history of a man, who was to be hung that week for the murder of his wife.
“ They were both drunk,” she added; "he only lived a few miles from here; he has been at our house a great many times. Only just the day before he killed her, my husband sold him a half barrel of whiskey. I presume they were both drunk on that when the quarrel commenced. The hanging bee will be to-morrow; we can all of us go,-it's only down here to the jail."
A gruff voice just behind Odora's chair cried out, “I should like to be your escort then."
Alba and Odora both looked around and shrieked as their
eyes fell upon the most degraded piece of humanity they had ever seen, each taking tremblingly hold of their mother, and hastened to an adjoining room, where they hoped to be quiet. In this they were mistaken; there lay one in a state of intoxica
tion, while another sat reeling by his side, looking as though he would fall upon the floor the next minute. What was to be done? The oaths from the bar-room accompanying the loud and clamorous talk, forbade their going there. Mrs. Willard seemed paralysed by the scene before her. She
undetermined what course to pursue.
Odora and Alba stood weeping by her side ; but Mrs. Willard had no tears. Becoming almost desperate, she tore herself from the girls; with a firm step, and a dignified air, she entered the bar-room. The first person she met was the bloated form that frightened them from the kitchen; he had just drawn back wis arm to strike a man that stood near him. Mrs. Willard seized it, and commanded him to desist. Making her way to her husband on the other side of the room, she asked him to accompany
her. She took his arm and led bim to the sitting room. As she passed out she heard one exclaim, “There, Jack Windsor, you have been floored once."
Odora heard the name, and knew it to be the one that used to persecute poor David. As soon as the door was closed, Mrs. Willard pointed to the two drunken men—both then being asleep-and asked her husband what was to be done? “Why, you must do the best
you can," he indifferently answered.
“Isn't there another public house in the city we can go to ?"
“There are a hundred, I presume, no better than this, and some a great deal worse."
“My husband, I think that impossible. I wish you to speak for a carriage to take myself and daughters to a respectable hotel.”
“I shall not do any such thing," he sharply replied. " It is as good for you and your daughters as it is for me.”
The girls turned pale, and looked frightened. Odora approached him and laid her hand gently, upon his shoulders, and looked kindly into his face, and said, “ Do not think that we want to go without you."
The muscles of his face gave way a little, and he told them that it was eleven o'clock, and that it would be impossible for them to leave that night.
" You had better call the landlady, and have her show you to bed.”
He turned and went into the barroom again. The landladylighted them up a rickety flight of stairs, showing them into a small room containing two beds. They were soon left alone, each striving to hide her