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THE night was fine - frosty - and bright with the lustre of a lovely
the chimneys and gables of the squalid [-329-]
of Globe Town appeared to bathe their heads in that flood of silver light.
The Resurrection Man and the Buffer pursued their way towards
For some minutes they preserved a profound silence: at length
the Buffer exclaimed, "I only hope, Tony, that this business won't turn out
as bad as the job with young Markham three nights ago."
"Why should it?" demanded the Resurrection Man, in a
"Well, I don't know why," answered the Buffer. "P'rhaps,
after all, it was just as well that feller escaped as he did. We might have
swung for it."
"Escape!" muttered the Resurrection Man, grinding his
teeth savagely. "Yes - he did escape them; but I haven't done with him yet.
He shall not get off so easy another time."
"I wonder who those chaps was that come up so sudden?" observed
the Buffer, after a pause.
"Friends of his, no doubt," answered Tidkins. "Most
likely he suspected a trap, or thought he would be on the right side. But the
night was to plaguy dark, anti the whole thing was to sudden, it was impossible to
form an idea of who the two strangers might
"One on 'em was precious strong, I know," said the
Buffer. " But, for my part, I think you d better leave the young feller
alone in future. It's no good standing the chance of getting scragged for mere
wengeance. I can't, understand that sort of thing. If you like to crack his crib
for him and hive the swag, I'm your man; but I'll have no more of a business
that's all danger and no profit."
"Well, well, as you like," said the Resurrection Man,
impatiently. "Here we are; so look alive."
They were now under the wall of the cemetery.
The Buffer clambered to the top of the wall, which was not
very high; and the Resurrection Man handed him the implements and tools, which
he dropped cautiously upon the ground inside the enclosure.
He then helped hit companion upon the wall; and in another
moment they stood together within the cemetery.
"Are you sure you can find the way to the right grave?"
demanded the Buffer in a whisper.
"Don't be afraid," was the reply: "I could go
straight up to it blindfold."
[-330-] They then shouldered their implements, and the Resurrection
Man led the way to the spot where Mrs. Smith's anonymous lodger had been buried.
"I'm afeard the ground's precious hard," observed the
Buffer, when he and his companion had satisfied themselves by a cautious glance
around that no one was watching their movements.
The eyes of these men had become so habituated to the
obscurity of night, in consequence of the frequency with which they pursued
their avocations during the darkness which cradled others to rest, that they
were possessed of the visual acuteness generally ascribed to the cat.
"We'll soon turn it up, let it be as hard as it
said the Resurrection Man, in answer to his comrade's remark.
Then, suiting the action to the word, he began his
operations hi the following manner.
He measured a distance of five paces from the head of the
grave. At the point thus marked he took a long iron rod and drove it in an
oblique direction through the ground towards one end of the coffin. So accurate
were his calculations relative to the precise spot in which the coffin was
embedded in the earth, that the iron rod struck against it the very first time
he thus sounded the soil.
"All right," he whispered to the Buffer.
He than took a spade and began to break up the earth just at
that spot where the end of the iron rod peeped out of the ground.
"Not so hard as you thought," he observed. "The fact
is, the whole burial-place is so mixed up with human remains, that the day is
too greasy to freeze very easy."
"I s'pose that's it," said the Buffer.
The Resurrection Man worked for about ten minutes with a
skill and an effect that would have astonished even Jones the grave-digger
himself, had he been thereto see. He then resigned the spade to the Buffer,
who took his turn with equal ardour and ability.
When his ten minutes elapsed, the resurrectionists regaled
themselves each with a dram from Tidkins' flask; and this individual then
applied himself once more to the work in hand. When he was wearied, the Buffer
relieved him; and thus did they fairly divide the toil until the excavation of
the ground was completed.
This portion of the task was finished in about forty minutes.
An oblique channel, about ten feet long, and three feet square at the mouth, and
decreasing only in length, as it verged towards the head of the coffin at the
bottom, was not formed.
The Resurrection Man provided himself with a stout chisel
the handle of which was covered with leather, and with a mallet, the ends of
which were also protected with pieces of the same material. Thus the former
instrument when struck by the latter emitted but little noise.
He then descended into the channel which terminated at the
very head of the coffin.
Breaking away the soil that lay upon that end of the coffin,
he inserted the chisel into the joints of the wood, and in a very few moments
knocked off the board that closed the coffin at that extremity.
The wood-work of the head of the shell was also removed with
ease - for Banks had purposely nailed those parts of the two cases very slightly
Resurrection Man next handed up the tools to his companies, who threw him down
a strong cord.
The end of this rope was then fastened under the armpits of
the corpse as it lay in its coffin.
This being done, the Buffer helped the Resurrection Man out
of the hole.
"So far, so good," said Tidkins: "it must be close
upon one o'clock. We have got a quarter of an hour left - and that's plenty of
time to do all that's yet to be done."
The two men then took the rope between them, and drew the
corpse gently out of its coffin - up the slope of the channel - and landed it safely
on the ground at a little distance from the mouth of the excavation.
The moon fell upon the pale features of the dead - those features which were still as unchanged, save in
colour, as if they had never come in contact with a shroud - nor belonged to a
body that lead been swathed in a winding-sheet!
The contrast formed by the white figure and the black soil on
which it was stretched, would have struck terror to the heart of any one save a
Indeed, the moment the corpse was this, dragged forth from
its grave, the Resurrection Man thrust his hand into its breast, and felt for
It was there - wrapped up as the undertaker has described..
"The blunt is all safe, Jack," said the Resurrection Man;
and he secured the coin about his person.
They then applied themselves vigorously to shovel back the
earth; but, when they had filled up the excavation, a considerable quantity of
the soil still remained to dispose of, it being impossible, in spite of stamping
down, to condense the earth into the same space from which it was originally
They therefore filled two sacks with the surplus soil, and
proceeded to empty them in different parts of the ground.
Their task we so far accomplished, when they heard the low
rumble of wheels in the lane outside the cemetery.
To bundle the corpse neck and heels into a sack, and gather
to their implements, was the work of only a few moments. They then conveyed
their burdens between them to the wall overlooking the lane, where the
well-known voice of Mr. Banks greeted their ears, as he stood upright in his
cart peering over the barrier into the cemetery.
"Got the blessed defunct?" said the undertaker
"Right and tight," answered the Buffer; "and the tin too.
Now, then, look sharp - here's the tools."
"I've got 'em," returned Banks.
"Look out for the stiff 'un, then," added the Buffer; and,
aided by the Resurrection Man, he shoved the body up to the undertaker, who
deposited it in the bottom of his cart.
The Resurrection Man and the Buffer then mounted the wall,
and got into the vehicle, in which they laid themselves down, so that any person
whom they might meet in the streets through which they were to pass would only
see one individual in the cart - namely, the driver. Otherwise, the appearance of
three men at that time of night, or rather at that hour in the morning, might
have excited suspicion.
Banks lashed the sides of his horse; and the animal started
offset a round pace.
Not a word was spoken during the short drive to the surgeon's
residence in the Cambridge Road.
When they reached his house the road was quiet
[-331-] and deserted. A light glimmered through the fanlight over the door; and the
door itself was opened the moment the cart stopped.
The Resurrection Man and the Buffer sprang and, seeing that the coast was
clear, bundled the corpse out of the vehicle in an instant; then in less than
half a minute the "blessed defunct," as the undertaker called it, was safely
lodged in the passage of the surgeon's house.
Mr. Banks, as soon as the body was removed from his vehicle, drove rapidly
away. His portion of the night's work was done; and he knew that his accomplices
would give him his "reg'lars" when they should meet again.
The Resurrection Man and the Buffer conveyed the body into a species of
out-house, which the surgeon, who was passionately attached to anatomical
studies, devoted to purposes of dissection and physiological experiment.
In the middle of this room, which was shout ten feet long and six broad,
stood a strong deal table, forming a slightly inclined plane. The stone pavement
of the out-house was perforated with holes in the immediate vicinity of the
table, so that the fluid which poured from subjects for dissection might escape
into a drain communicating with the common sewer. To the ceiling, immediately
above the head of the table, was attached a pulley with a strong cord, by means
of which a body might be supported in any position that was most convenient to
The Resurrection Man and his companion carried the corpse into this
dissecting-room, and placed it upon the table, the surgeon holding a candle to
light their movements.
"Now, Jack," said Tidkins to the Buffer, "do you take the stiff
'un out of the sack, and lay him along decently on the table ready for business,
while I retire a moment to this gentleman's study and settle
accounts with him."
"Well and good," returned the Buffer. "I'll stay
here till you come back."
The surgeon lighted another candle, which he placed on the
window-sill, and then withdrew, accompanied by the Resurrection
The Buffer shut the door of the dissecting-room, because the draught caused
the candle to flicker, and menaced the light with extinction. He then proceeded to obey the directions which he had received from his accomplice.
The Buffer removed the sack from the body, which he then stretched out at
length upon the inclined table, taking care to place its head on the higher
extremity and immediately beneath the pulley.
"There, old feller," he said, "you're comfortable, at any rate. What
a blessin' it would be to your friends, if they was ever to find out that you'd
been had up again, to know into what skilful hands you'd happened to fall!"
Thus musing, the Buffer turned his back listlessly towards the corpse, and
leant against the table on which it was lying.
"Let me see," he said to himself, "there s thirty-one pounds that
was buried along with him, and then there's ten pounds that the sawbones is a
paying now to Tony for the match; that makes forty-one pounds, and there's
three to go shares. What does that make? Threes into four goes once - threes into
eleven goes three and two over - that's thirteen pounds a-piece, and two pound to
The Buffer started abruptly round, and became deadly
pale. He thought he heard a slight movement of the corpse, and his whole frame
Almost at the same moment some object was hurled violently
against the window; the glass was shivered to atoms; the candle was thrown down
and extinguished; and total darkness reigned in the dissecting-room.
"Holloa!" cried the Buffer, turning sick at heart;
Scarcely had these words escaped his lips when he felt his
hand suddenly grasped by the cold fingers of the corpse.
"O God!" cried the miscreant; and he fell insensible across
the body on the table.
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