Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

should be-dear to me. You both once may have had relatives who were kind, and from whose affection you have become for a time estranged-to have them again awakened into life at some time, even amid thoughts of villainy and fraud. So it has been with me to-night. For worlds I would not follow up this robbery that has been planned."

-n! (exclaimed Smith Jemmy, as he gnashed his teeth, in a violent rage)- here's a pretty spooney! What d'ye thing of this for a cooler, Cliffy ?"

His more subtle companion, however, concealing his feelings, and thinking that my remorse would be but of short duration, immediately proceeded to use the arts he was so well master of to overrule my determination, by describing the miseries of my penniless state, and the prospect of a rich booty-which, after all, was, as he proceeded to argue, a part only of what I was entitled to.

I heard him in silence. “Come what may, my resolution is determined (I exclaimed, sternly). I shall now proceed to town as I can; and if I but hear of an attempt at putting your scheme into execution, I swear that I will become an informer myself.”

Saying these words, I immediately walked off, amid the murmur of their oaths of disappointment and vengeance.

I had already, indeed, got two miles on my road, and was pleasing myself with the thought that I had, at least, done something worthy of reforming my life, when the idea of my late associates executing the robbery during my absence, and in spite of my threats, suggested itself suddenly to my mind. I knew them both to be desperate men, and with their feelings wound up on the present occasion to the thoughts of successful booty. Besides this, I had completely identified myself with them, and had even been the first to enter the house myself, and leave the door unfastened. They would, therefore, be but slightly influenced by my threat, which would only be imputed to the weakness of the moment. As these new thoughts came into my head, I felt a pang of disappointment at the weakness of my measures, and instantly commenced retracing my steps,'deeming there was yet time to frighten my associates by absolute defiance, in case they persisted, or else, as a last resort, give the alarm.

While making all the haste I could, I deeply lamented not having emerged from my concealment while in the house. That feverish thought seemed to haunt me with one absorbing regret. Was it an emanation from my guardian and better angel, or the mere momentary feelings of acute repentance? Alas ! my regret for that one momentary indecision is doomed to be the closing feeling of my wretched existence. But let me unfold the remainder of my narrative of woe.

I had proceeded back some two miles on my way, when the sound of an ap. proaching cart broke upon my ear. The moon had partially appeared from behind a bank of deep clouds, and by her light I was enabled to recognise the vehicle of the two robbers when a few yards off. Calling out a pass.word which had been agreed upon, the cart, though against the expressed inclination of the elder robber, was stopped.

“You've been late,” I remarked.

“ Late! Jump in; there's no time to ask or answer questions," exclaimed Clifford, in a hurried manner.

“ Tell me (I demanded), have you dared to proceed in this without me?"
“We have,” replied Smith Jemmy, surlily.
“ Villain! you shall answer this—both of you,” I exclaimed.

“Take care of yourself before you think of others," exclaimed Smith Jemmy, in a threatening voice.

“Good God! (I exclaimed, as a ray of moonlight at that moment showed me Clifford's countenance, which was pale as death,) there's streaks of blood upon

your face."

[ocr errors]

« Blood !—I didn't spill it, then (said Clifford, faintly); but get up, and you will hear all. I wish to God we had been guided by you."

“ Mary Clifton-my uncle (I murmured, leaning against the wheel for sup. port during the sickening sensation that crept over me). Have you dared~"

“ Dared! I always said I never would be taken by a single man (muttered Smith Jemmy)- besides, he woke up and grappled me by the arm ; he would have given the alarm."

I heard no more; the intensity of my emotions received a happy relief in insensibility. My perceptions are confused of having been carried to town in the cart by the side of my uncle's murderer. I was seized, indeed, with a raging fever, produced by cold caught from my wet clothes, and exasperated by mental solicitude. It was owing, indeed, entirely to Clifford that I had not been aban. doned on the road. Bad as he had become during a long course of profligacy, I found he had still some humanity left, and besides taking me to town, had placed me in a lodging with some acquaintance, where he left me on going over to Holland to avoid the hot search that was made for the murderers of my uncle.

The secrecy of my abode, together with my illuess, which had reduced me to death's door, had alone perhaps tended to preserve me from being apprehended upon suspicion of that crime of horror, the particulars of which I only gleaned after months of illness from the newspapers. My ill-fated uncle had been awuke on the night of the robbery, by hearing some one in his room, and had jumped out of bed and seized Smith Jemmy in the act of breaking open a jewel box that stood on the toilet table. Calling upon him to surrender, the robber struck him a blow on the head with a small crow-bar, that knocked the old man senseless on the floor.

Fearful that the household would be alarmed, the robbers hastily picked up their booty and decamped, but not before Clifford had had the humanity to lift my uncle on to the bed, and in which he afterwards continued for a fortnight, when he died from effusion of blood on the brain. Mary-poor Mary Clifford, survived him but a few weeks, and, by her dying directions, was laid in the same grave as her father, the victims of a guilty but repentant wretch.


It is nearly eight and furty hours since I tasted food, and famine already bows me to the earth that shall soon close over me. Fearful and many have been my struggles with the fiend that has hourly whispered me to rob, as my only resort. I have sought for employment, but, characterless and garbed in misery, a deaf ear has been turned to my supplications. Maddened by the cravings of bunger, I tried to beg, but my gaunt and frenzied looks appalled rather thau won the charitable if such there be.

Each night that I have crept to my lone garret, strange thoughts and visions of the past have glanced along my seared brain. Can the dead rise to blanch with dread the living ? My senses, I fear, hare wandered-hunger has debili. tated me.

But I have prayed deeply_earnestly-at last. The fiend cannot persuade

Oh! blessed Redeemer, support me- I cannot starve-rather let me shorten the lingering pangs of destitution and death-save me!


And here the M.S. terminated. The latter portion nf it was hardly readable. It had been written apparently at different times, and upon any little scrap of paper that chance threw in his way, with ink of various colours, and sometimes in pencil, -in all probability scrawled out in a coffee-shop or a tap-room.

After the perusal of these Confessions, for such they seemed to be, I laid down the paper with a feeling of deep commiseration for the wretched and guilty man, whom there was great reason to suspect had committed suicide. So deep vas the impression made on my mind, that for several days I thought of little but of the strange circumstances that had made me the depositary of a history so strange and eventful. Desirous, if possible, of gleaning some further particulars of the unfortunate Stawell, I took repeated walks in the parks and Ken. sington Gardens, but looked in vain to behold the object of my solicitude.

It was, I think, at the expiration of six days, that a paragraph in the papers announced the discovery of a man's corpse in the Serpentine, and which was exposed in the dead-house to be owned. I felt certaiu, from the brief account given of the drowned man, that it was the ill-fated object of my search. Nor was I deceived on going to view the body. Though somewhat decomposed, the pale and finely formed features, and curly long black hair, black and tattered dress, the tall and commanding figure, though wasted to nearly a skeleton, at once satisfied me of the identity of the hapless man, who had thus, in the anguish of his guilty and desponding soul, and under the pangs of starvation, rushed unbidden into his Maker's presence.

It is needless to say, there existed no one who could or would recognise the last remains of the wretched outcast. The right shoulder, which had been laid bare, though evidently cut, and scarified, still displayed that fatal brand that in death proclaimed the felon!

“ He's been a bad ’un," exclaimed one of the men of the Humane Society, as, lifting the lifeless and stiffened limb, he allowed it to fall heavily upon the bench on which the body was exposed.

The few spectators who were present shrunk from the sight as if from contamination, and even I turned from a scene that called up so many painful ideas.

The following day I learnt that in a pauper's shell the suicide was consigned to his long home

“ No words of prayer to consecrate his lowly tomb."




DEAREST, a look is but a ray
Reflected in a certain way ;
A word, whatever tone it wear, :
Is but a trembling wave of air,
A touch, obedience to a clause
In nature's pure material laws.
The very flowers that bend and meet,
In sweetening others grow more sweet;
The clods by day, the stars by night,
Inweave their floating locks of light;
The rainbow, heaven's own forehead's braid,
Is but the embrace of sun and shade.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]
« PoprzedniaDalej »