This is a continuing work of original historical fiction.
© Copyright by Julie Jeffery Manwarren, 2019. All rights reserved.
To read part one, go here.
The Case of Ella Twomey, con't.
I am destroyed. I cannot hold back the tears that come as the wicked woman opens the door and upon hearing who I am, refuses me entry. She tells me my wife has gone away and I am to forget her. Her weighty words fall upon me and the door is firmly closed.
I go back, I beg and plead. Day after day, I am at the widow Twomey’s and leave empty handed. I had almost given up until, one day I learn from the hired hand that she had Ella committed.
“Committed to where?”
“To the asylum, sir.”
“Committed for what?” I cried, horrified.
“For marrying ye,” he responded.
“What have I done? Be I not good enough? I have cared for her and provided a good home for my Ella. What mother would send her daughter to such a place? I demand to know why.”
“I know not the whole of it, sir.” The boy was indeed sympathetic to my plight and added, “But I know only that she, being Catholic, was to marry a Catholic, with her Mum’s blessing and in that church yonder, and with vows blessed by a priest. And ye, being a heathen Protestant, that is what the missus calls ye, not I, ye, are not wanted. And what’s more, the missus Twomey believes you have bewitched Miss Ella. Having her daughter leave her all alone and suffering all these months without knowledge of her whereabouts, she was quite distraught. She believes the girl to have gone mad and done have her committed to the asylum at Hamilton.”
I was speechless. All of the air and the life had gone out of me. I collected my senses and my breath soon after and found my way to the asylum. I was directed to a Mr. English who informed me that there was nothing he could do since by all records and accounts they had no Ella Dunn. I knew I was at the right place and grew frustrated, crying out for my Ella, until Mr. English had men come to remove me from the property threatening to have me arrested if I dared come again.
I realized my error late into the night.
I could not gain admittance and the large iron gate was locked soundly. I slept in the cold against that gate until morning. A guard admitted me and Mr. English was quite unhappy to see me again upon his arrival. I forced my most cordial and respectful tone as this time I asked for Ella Twomey and not Ella Dunn. His silence was tangible. “Mr. Dunn, I’m afraid that I cannot discuss any matters concerning our patients here.”
“But sir, she is my wife!”
“I do not have anything to cooberate that. If we did have an Ella Twomey as you have assumed, although you first told me a different name all together, and this Twomey creature is indeed your wife, how is it that you were not the one who brought her to us? And how could it be that she be here for so many weeks without one inquiry from you?”
I attempted to explain, but he silenced me and once again had me removed from the property. After inquiries to the police station and directors of the asylum turned up nothing, I had nowhere else to go except to return to Chicago and my restaurant on Dearborn Street.
Royalty free image by Agata822.
It was a bitter hell that I experienced to live and work in such grief and misery in the very same place where I once was happiest. I travelled back several times to plead for the release of my Ella. I did finally get acknowledgment of her being admitted under the name Ella Twomey. But little else was given to me. At last, one mistress of the asylum allowed me an address with which I could write a letter to Ella and promised to give it to her.
So this is how we continued our love for many long years. I struggled persistently to recover my wife. I arrived with a lawyer and her letters in hand and having found the travelling preacher to give me a proper certificate of marriage, I arrived with the most hope I had in the entire long ordeal.
Mr. English, upon seeing the documents and hearing my lawyer testify before him on my behalf, was soon convinced and even admitted that Ella was my legal wife and what is more, that she was mentally competent to be free. He disclosed that she must be held based upon the fact that a great amount was over due and had gone unpaid for her care. He furbished a bill for $2,100 and said her release could not be obtained until the fee was paid. This was the first I had heard of any such bill and at the hearing of such a large amount found myself quite distressed.
I then had to reveal to my Ella that hope was entirely gone as my health had been failing along with my eye sight. The restaurant was suffering and I could not keep it up as I had in my youth. There was no way to raise the finances to free her from that miserable and wretched place.
Her mother had yet passed away and left no estate that we could claim on Ella’s behalf. I sold the restaurant straight away and paid my attorney what I owed him. With the rest, I made my way to Hamilton Ontario yet again.
I offered Mr. English what I had though it be but a partial amount of what he claimed the bill to be. He refused to accept it and demanded payment in full. I allowed myself residence in a poor house nearby and worked for my wages, though when it was found that my eye sight was almost completely gone and I had rheumatism in my limbs, I was put out and now I find myself once again at the gate where my love, Ella, resides. I dared not spend a penny of the amount of the sale of my restaurant for it is all I have to pay Ella’s ransom.
Years passed. Fourteen years after I had bid farewell to my Ella at the train station, I sat in my spot near the asylum gate, and a man with a top hat passed, and introduced himself as a Mr. Thomas Finnegan, a newspaper editor. He asked about my sitting there day after day and when I told him of my plight, he invited me to lunch with him. I ate ravaged, as my Ella did upon the day we met. He asked if he could write about my story and alert the public to the atrocity I had undergone these past fourteen years.
Two days later he located me again, stating he had found me a job in town along with a room where I could board. I was grateful. I now live with a young man named Olney who reads me Ella’s letters and writes for me since I cannot see well. In a letter to her, I enclosed the clipping from Finnegan’s paper so she might read his fair and prudent article on our behalf and find hope. Every penny I make after paying my board, I save toward her freedom.
Mr. English resigned amid a scandal in September and by the close of the year, a new supervisor had been obtained at the Hamilton Asylum. I found Mr. Bendeaux to be fair and agreeable. I believe he took pity on me although I could not see an ounce of expression on his face. He told me that he would accept a partial amount and not the thousands that Mr. English had tallied against us. I saved every penny. During this time Olney became quite ill. The coughing and wheezing in the night kept me up. One night I slept so soundly and as I woke with the sun, I realized why. I fell ill not two days after he was in the ground. I had not eaten well since coming to Ontario as I dared not spend a penny more than need be on food. My body weak, I felt death’s cold hand upon me. Hope kept me alive for longer than fate would have allowed.
I was too ill to leave my bed after collecting the last of my pay. I asked a young girl named Lila to contact Mr. Finnegan, the only friend besides Olney, I had. He came straight away and I know he will respect my wishes.
It was a beautiful June day when my Ella left her prison of the Hamilton Asylum. Mr. Finnegan’s carriage waited for her as she descended the stone steps with her blue satchel and walked through the iron gate where I had waited and wept for her.
The carriage wound through the city’s cobblestone streets as Ella sat quiet but curious, staring out at a world she hadn’t been free to roam in almost two decades. Her eyes darkened as she passed a familiar door with a black iron knocker and then those same eyes filled up with tears as the carriage stopped before a cemetery.
Mr. Finnegan waited as she came to say goodbye to me. My grave had only a wooden cross with my name “John Dunn”. A letter that I had dictated to Finnegan rested beneath it.
“My Dear Darling Ella,
Please forgive me for failing to be there to greet you on this victorious day. I fought to the bitter end, you must believe that. What a burden I would have been to you and so, please know that this is best. You must go and have a full, rich, and happy life.
Be free, my love.
Once more, Your faithful and devoted husband,