Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/15

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"I heard, but could not believe that you really intended what you gave utterance to. It was so unlike you."

"I repeat it then: that body shall not be mutilated with a dissecting knife."

"You are beside yourself."

"I am, on the contrary, perfectly sane."

"What will you do with it then."

"I will return it to the quiet grave from whence it was taken, and get another. A form like this should not be rudely gazed upon, by the curious eye of the vulgar. Oh! no: it shall be laid gently away again in its earthy home, and feel the rough touch of the student at work with its limbs never. The coarse jest of the thoughtless and unfeeling shall never be uttered over it, or fall—unheard though it be—even upon these dead ears!"

While speaking, the form of the pale student seemed to dilate to an unusual size. He was more erect and dignified than he was wont to he; and his companions were struck with his determined air, and such an extraordinary exhibition of firmness in him.

"I perceive that you are really in earnest, and mean to do just what you have said, so I suppose it is of no use to reason with you on the absurdity of your resolve. But I am, I acknowledge, dissatisfied with you. However, let it pass, and when you get another, I shall be at your service, and happy to assist."

Saying this, the doctor and the student departed, leaving Levator alone with his subject.

"They will think I am doing a foolish thing, but no matter, I feel that I am not obstinate, nor wrong in my intentions, and this consoles me. I know not the reason why, yet something I know not what, tells me not to mar this body with the ruthless knife, and I obey the mysterious impulse, even at the hazard of ridicule. I will now find the resurrectionist. He shall place it safely in the tomb, from whence it was taken, unscathed in body or limbs, where it may crumble and mingle peacefully, and in obedience to natural laws with its kindred atoms. Let me look upon it again, the body of that girl—is it possible that it can feel the'desolating touch of putrefaction. I could hope not, and yet it must."

Saying this, he bent over the corpse, and took the cold hand in his. On one of the stiff fingers were two plain rings. Drawing one gently from its place, he replaced it by one from his own; then carefully covering it again, he locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and passed into the street.