Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/29

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THE TWO STUDENTS.

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they were, could not articulate the words of prayer, had they dared to; it was a stranger to them. Lovers and friends had left her, and there she was alone, with her sins and her God. With a mine of gold she could not purchase an hour of that time of which she had squandered years. A daguerreotype of those years was now before her, pictured with startling accuracy, the contemplation of which filled her with the keenest remorse. She would not have looked upon it, but could not turn away. Gathering the strength a few moments of life had left, and that which the terrors of death imposed, she threw herself from the bed and stared with fearful wildness about the room. "I must not die now," she gasped, clenching her trembling hands in a frantic manner—"I cannot,—I will not." The last words were uttered with a painful effort,—the hands fell—the eyes became fixed—horror sat upon the face—and falling forward heavily to the floor, she was "that lifeless thing the living fear"—a corpse.

A short time elapsed; the door of that room opened, and an old woman entered, whom we shall recognise as her whom we have before seen in company with the body snatchers. She had lost none of her former ugliness and seemed to regard without emotion the body of the girl. "Dead at last" she muttered, "dead at last—well she has been no profit to me this month past—better dead than alive. I dare say her body will bring more now than before. Doctors would scarcely have her though, if they knew how she died." She then lifted the corpse in her arms,and after passing several doors, and through a dark passage, found herself in the apartment to which we have before alluded, and opening the large chest, threw in the body of the prostitute.

A few hours after this proceeding the body snatchers returned bearing the body they had just raised at C—— and of which we have already given the details. This was the body Cecil saw and recognized as that of her seducer.

Great was the vexation of the Resurrection Men when they saw the condition of the corpse, and marked the ravages of that revolting and disgusting disease upon its frightful features. As hardened as they were in their trade they were shocked at the spectacle before them.

"To-night's work is thrown away" said Thick, moodily.

"No physician would touch this," responded his comrade, "not one, and of course we shall be paid as many are,—have our labor for our pains."

"What shall we do with the carcass of this virtuous young fellow who lived like a man and died like a christian, hoping for a resurrection."

"He was evidently a hopeful youth," replied Gaunt with a shrug, and a peculiar twinkle of the mouth, "respected by his friends: who erected as a grateful tribute to his memory, and his many virtues, those costly stones! what a wonderful age we live in! We can throw this carrion into the stream. That would be the easiest method of disposing of it I can think of."

"So it would; but hark! a new idea has this moment occured to me. The subject we sold to Levator was to be carried to him tomorrow night, you recollect. What I propose is this,—that we palm off this one upon him instead of the other, as we can readily find a sale for a recent subject like that. What say you old fellow?"

"That is a very luminous idea, and nobody else in the world would have thought of it. Let us act upon it."

The next night the body last raised was carried to Levator, who paid them the stipulated sum without examining the subject, and therefore without any