Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/41

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"How long since they discovered that the body was missing," enquired the resurrection man.

"Yesterday; some marks which the villains left about the grave excited suspicion, and upon opening it they learned that they were well founded."

"The relations of the deceased have offered a reward for the detection of the offender, and you are entitled to one half of it for the information you have communicated. Crimes of this kind are becoming so frequent, that the law must be put in full force in order to suppress the evil."

"You are quite right," responded Thick, piously. "I hope justice will overtake the offenders, and deal with them as they deserve. Hanging would be too good for them. They should be burnt at the stake. 'Tis a foul business; this stealing out at midnight with spades, dark lanterns, &c, plundering innocent church-yards—digging up men, women and children without distinction of age, sex or condition, and without regard to the feelings or antipathies of the dead. I am shocked at the bare idea of it. I hope, sir, as an enforcer of order, peace, good morals, and the law, you will use your best exertions to bring the criminals to justice. I have a perfect horror of all such depredations."

"I am glad to hear such sentiments," replied the small branch of justice, with dignity, drawing himself up, "and I doubt not but that your wish will be speedily accomplished. No.—M—— Street, you say is where I shall find the ruffians."

"Yes, up three flights of stairs."

Levator stopped to hear no more, but leaving his hiding place as expeditiously as possible, made his way back to the dissecting room.

"What is to be done," cried Dr. Frene, after hearing what had passed between Thick and the constable.

"I hardly know, to tell you the truth," replied the student thoughtfully, "we might resist the officer and keep him out if he should come immediately and without proper authority to search the premises."

"That would be of no service. He would soon return with a sufficient posse to effect his object. It would be better to secrete the body so as to leave no traces of what we have been doing."

"Right, Dr. Take the subject and follow me. I will carry these dirty instruments," said the student, seizing hastily the light, while the Dr. took the corpse in his arms and prepared to follow, apparently as little concerned as if he were going to bed.

"This way—down these stairs—and these—along through this chamber—and so down that flight of steps which brings us to the basement story," said Levator, hurriedly, moving along at a rapid rate.

"Not so fast, my young friend," said the Dr., laughing. "This dead gentleman is quite heavy, and unused to such haste. Beside, it is, I assure you, very uncivil to show your guests through the house in such a cavilier sort of a way."

The Dr.'s foot was on the second step of the last flight of stairs, when, unfortunately losing his balance, he was precipitated with a startling crash to the bottom, changing positions several times in the course of his descent with the corpse, the latter being alternately beneath and above him. But this was not the extent of the disaster.

The stair terminated near the cellar door, which Levator had just opened for the purpose of descending, when the Dr. lost his equilibrium. He heard with alarm, and yet with a strong inclination to laugh, that gentleman's downward, rapid flight. What could he do to avoid actual contact, and the fearful concussion of the vast body falling like a comet towards, and threatening to demolish him. To retreat was to hasten the catastrophe; consequently, his only chance was to proceed; but alas! for human calculations he had hardly placed his foot on the first step, when, what he feared came upon him—that is, the Dr. and the dead man—the latter seeming to take as active a part, and as lively an interest in the proceeding as the former.

The effect of this unwished for recontre must be obvious. The student was hurled by the shock from a perpendicular,—and with a very uncomfortable and unceremonious celerity, made his way into the cellar. Here, then, was a dilemma. The Dr. and the corpse lying upon very amicable terms at the foot of one flight of steps, and the student, with his instruments, in the same predicament at the bottom of the next