Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/50

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many black sins weighing upon me. Will you not save me? I am a murderer—I cannot appear in the presence of God with all my crimes upon me. As you hope for mercy save me.

"I would save you," shrieked Cecil, but I cannot—it will be only to hasten my own death. I have not the strength to save you, if I would. Pray, miserable man—pray for that mercy which I cannot give,—and which I dare not ask. There may yet be hope for you in the next world, but there is none for you here.

"I cannot pray, I never prayed," groaned Thick despairingly, "and if I could, think you it would avail me. Oh no—no—!" he shrieked, "I feel more like cursing my ill luck, than praying. But I am falling—give me your hand, for the sake of Christ."

"And you will not harm me," cried; Cecil touched with pity.

"I swear it by the great God."

Approaching as near as she dares, she reaches out one hand, while with the other, she grasps firmly the end of a projecting board. With difficulty, the body snatcher relinquished his slight hold upon the floor, and took the small hand of Cecil. She put forth all her strength, and Thick now fast raising himself to a place of security, and imagining himself safe, exclaimed in a triumphant voice, "now you cannot escape me."

With a sudden effort she wrested her hand from the grasp of the miscreant. For an instant he clung with one hand to the floor.

"Pray," said Cecil, "for your time is short."

"Curse you" gasped the body snatcher, and then she heard a shriek, and in a moment a dull shock away many feet below her. She shuddered, and covered her face with her hands, as though to shut out some terrible sight, and then creeping cautiously to the edge of the apperture, and straining her vision to its utmost, she beheld a dark shapless mass, without a pulse of life.

About ten o'clock the succeeding morning, the body of the resurrectionist was found, but it was as unlike the remains of a human being, as it well could be. There was a pool of blood, and something resembling the hair of an animal, with a crushed heap of flesh, and bones. "When the shadows of night, dark and gloomy, had fallen upon the earth, Gaunt took those mangled, shapless remains, and the body of the man he had assisted in "raising" at C. and by the assistance of the old virago, placed them in the boat; then throwing in several large stones, he pushed silently from the shore. When he had gained the middle of the stream, he lay down his oars, and fastening to each of the bodies a large stone, threw them over the side; being borne down by the weight, they sank quickly, disturbing the smooth surface of the water, only by a few light surges which soon settled away, and left it calm as before the remains of the two human bodies had disappeared beneath. Resuming his oars, he rowed to the shore, from whence he came. The virago awaited him in the dead-room.

"You must go another voyage, Gaunt; this carcase has a terrible odour, no physician would put a scalpel to it," she said, pointing to the corpse of Alice Conway; "besides," continued she in a whisper, "there is poison in it—Nitric Acid enough to kill ten persons. How rapidly it decays, the stench is horrible. Perhaps you'll have to make another trip on the Mystic to-night, she added mysteriously, and with a grim smile, but it is not impossible, that some better way may offer."

Again Gaunt launched his frail bark, and rowed into the stream as before. He had attached a weight to the emaciated body of Alice, and was about to precipitate it into the water, when a dark looking object arose to the surface. It was the body of the man, which he had thrown in a little while before. Having become disengaged from the stone, it had arisen. "Ah! this is fortunate," said Gaunt brutally, "I will give you a grave together. You are old friends, and it is a pity to part you, even in death. Here is your Alice, Mr. Libertine, reach us your hand old fellow." Saying this, he lashed them firmly together, those diseased—wasted—ghastly bodies, and adding heavier weights, they sank together.

Having returned from his second voyage, he proceeded with the virago to set fire to several parts of the house, then stepping into the boat, suffered themselves to float down the stream. The hiding place of Cecil had been dis-