Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/46

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MARIETTA, OR

young lady was fixed long, and thoughtfully. At this moment she was interrupted by the entrance of a dark eyed girl, who bounded lightly to her side, and in a tender manner commenced playing with her long tresses, while thus in a soft voice she addressed her, "Oh! how thankful I am that you have been thus miraculously restored to our arms, even after we had laid you sorrowfully and bitterly in the grave,—looked our last, as we believed, upon that beautiful face—heard the earth thrown with that hollow, horrible sound upon you. I thought my poor heart would break then, Marietta. It throbbed so violently, and such a desolate feeling crept over me—such an indescribable sensation of utter loneliness. Oh! Marietta, I can hardly believe that I am waking, or that I am really looking at you. It is only when I am encircling you thus, that I can credit my senses."

"Dear Ada, my feelings are not unlike yours. It requires an effort,—a great effort, for me to convince myself that I am not the victim of some horrible delusion. Can it be? I sometimes say to myself, can it be that I am indeed living, and with my friends? It seems more like a dream, the illusion of which will soon vanish."

"How fortunate that your parents were absent, and did not receive the news of your supposed death."

"I am thankful that they were spared the grief such tidings would have caused them. I shall soon be able to return to that home, which came so near being made desolate by my living inhumation."

The young lady whom we have introduced as Ada, now proceeded to dress a small wound upon the neck of her companion, which had the appearance of being made with some sharp instrument, by a single downward stroke.

We now return to Cecil. After the conversation with Levator, she awaited in the momentary expectation of her lover's appearance. Hour after hour passed, still he came not. How tardily the time passed away, and how heavily it hung upon her hands. Still she counted impatiently each moment that dragged itself wearily along. She heard with saddened heart the clock tell the hour of ten, eleven, and then twelve. She had abandoned the idea that Eugene would make his appearance.

Throwing herself upon her couch, she fell into a troubled sleep, in which she lived o'er again the last few months of her life. But in every scene that passed before her vision she saw the lifeless, ghastly remains of her seducer, as on the night of its exhumation by the body-snatchers.

The remembrance of that revolting sight had never been absent from her thoughts a moment, and in her dreams it came back with terrible distinctness. Often, in an agony of fear, had she sprung from her bed, while a cold perspiration forced itself from every pore of her body.

She had slept perhaps an hour when she was aroused from its restless embrace—such a state was not rest—by what sounded to her like a key turning cautiously in the door. With a vague apprehension of danger she sprang from her couch, and placed herself in such a manner that when the door opened, it would swing towards her.

The bolt was thrown back with as little noise as possible, and it was carefully opened, while a person advanced softly in the direction of the bed, which she had just left. He carried no light, but by that which was admitted by the door she had no difficulty in recognizing the uncouth, misshapen form of Thick, the body-snatcher.

Every limb of the poor girl trembled with extreme fear. There was no human being in the world whose presence she dreaded so much, and whom she held in such utter abhorrence as the man before her. She had never looked upon him without a shudder, or thought of him without fear, more especially since she had learned the secret of his horrid trade, and seen the corpse of her false lover in his possession. She had also good reason to suppose that to all his other crimes he had had added that of murder.

Alice Conway occupied the apartment adjoining hers, and although she had been the victim of a disgusting disease which would ultimately have proved the means of her death, she felt almost certain she might have lived several months had she not been in the hands of Thick, and his accomplice—the virago. She had seen her about as usual the