Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/24

This page needs to be proofread.



motion. Gaunt tore the napkin from the head, it rolls heavily to one side, and towards Cecil, but—oh God! what a face! did human being ever present such a one before? Never! Where should be the nose, was seen only a blackened cavity—the cheek had sloughed off during life, and presented only a spongy and half decayed bone—around the eyes which were imperfectly closed, was a dark putrid line, while the throat was swollen, and what remained of the teeth of the lower jaw, were exposed to view, by the absence of the nether lip, which had perished as other portions of the face—yet reader, in that horrid visage she recognized her seducer.


Something Unexpected.

It was nine o'clock when the Body Snatchers left the dissecting room of Levator, with the "fair subject" placed carefully under the direction of the latter, in the sack provided for the purpose. For a while they moved cautiously along with their burden in silence, threading their way through the most unfrequented alleys.

"This grows heavier," said Thick, pausing to rest. "I believe people are heaviest when dead."

"Of course they are," replied his companion patronisingly. "I knew it long ago."

"Perhaps a little practical knowledge would make you still more sensible of the fact. So let me lift this upon your shoulder."

"I have no doubts at all upon the subject, Mr. Thick. I am satisfied of the truth of what you offer without any experiments," cried Gaunt, deprecatingly edging himself away from his friend.

"But you must carry it, or I shall leave it in the street," insisted Thick, who was well aware that it was beyond the strength of Gaunt to bear it; but still he wished for a little sport at his expense. "There, be careful that you do not let it fall," he continued, placing it safely on the shoulder of his skeleton comrade. Keep cool—steady—stand a little more erect—if you please—so—exert yourself—ah! you are doing finely."

"By an effort into which he threw all the strength yet remaining in his shriveled frame, he managed to support the body, and totter—it could not be called walking—a few paces, to the great amusement of his friend, who followed closely upon his footsteps, instructing and commending, as the nature of the case would allow. At length completely exhausted, he was about to fall to the pavement, when Thick humanely resumed his burden.

"I had rather carry two living bodies than one dead one,' gasped Gaunt, when he had sufficiently recovered himself to speak.