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[-351-]  

CHAPTER CXV.

THE TREASURE. - A NEW IDEA.

ALAS! that we should be compelled to turn from such bright scenes as woman's love and lovers' hope, to deeds of infamy and crime.
    But so goes the world; and no faithful historian can venture to deviate from the rule.
    Sad, and dismal, and dark, are many of the phases which this narrative has yet to show; but we can also promise our reader that there will not be wanting bright and cheering scenes to afford relief to his eye.
    Chequered, indeed, are the ways of life: varied and diversified are all its paths.
    And, oh! let him who is wearied with the load of existence, while wending through the rough and craggy places of the world, and when rudely jostled by the world's unfeeling crowd, - let him remember that there is another sphere beyond, where the ways are smooth and pleasant, and where the voice of lamentation is never heard ,-a sphere where angels alone shall be the guides of the elect, and where the sound of grateful harmony shall never cease, - a sphere, whose name is HEAVEN!
    Again we say, alas I that we should be compelled to divert the attention of our reader from scenes of mundane bliss and the contemplation of the purest love, to deeds of iniquity and hatred.
    But to our task.
    It was about five o'clock in the evening of the day that witnessed the incidents of the two preceding chapters, and that had succeeded the night on which the unhappy Viola had signed a deed surrendering up half her property to her unprincipled husband , - that the Resurrection Man returned home to his dwelling in Globe Town.
    But before he ascended to the apartments inhabited by himself and his mistress with a fearful name, he entered the lower part of the building, and, having lighted a candle, descended to the subterranean vaults.
    In the first place he went into a cell opposite to that which was still tenanted by Viola, who, it will be remembered, had received a solemn promise to be restored to her own abode that evening at nine o'clock.
    The Resurrection Man entered the cell to which we have alluded, and which was empty.
    He raised a stone from the floor, and drew from a hole of about a foot deep, a large leathern bag, the contents of which sent forth the welcome metallic sound of gold as he took it in his hand.
    The miscreant seated himself upon the cold floor of the cell, and poured forth into his hat the glittering contents of the bag. His eyes sparkled with delight as he surveyed the treasure.
    He took a few of the coins up in his hand, and let them drop one by one back again into his hat - his glances greedily fixed upon the gold as he thus toyed with it.
    "Two hundred good sterling sovereigns here already," he mused within himself, - "two hundred pounds earned with toil, trouble, daring, and danger. Two hundred pounds are a decent provision for any  man in my line of life! And now," he continued, taking a smaller canvass bag from his pocket, "there is more to add to swell the treasury. Here is a hundred pounds - my half of the sum paid by Tomlinson this afternoon for keeping the secret about his old clerk. The Buffer has got his share; but I warrant he will hoard none of it as I do! Thank my stars, within the last year I have learnt to be economical and saving. I mean to have something for my old age; unless —"
    And his countenance suddenly assumed an expression perfectly hideous, as he reflected upon the probability of his career being cut short by the hand of the law.
    But, in another moment, he grew composed - that is to say, desperately hardened; and he then proceeded with his occupation and his musings.
    "Well, here is my share of the two hundred pounds that the chicken-hearted, contemptible, cowardly Tomlinson paid for a secret which a little calm reflection might have told him that I dared not reveal. That's a hundred pounds to add to my sinking fund; "- and here the miscreant smiled. "Now," he continued, "comes the grand swag - three hundred pounds from Chichester, - and not too much for the trouble I have had in his affair! Two hundred before - Tomlinson's hundred - and Chichester's three hundred, - that makes six hundred pounds of good sterling gold, the property of Mr. Anthony Tidkins!"
    And here the Resurrection Man laughed outright: - it was a horrible chuckle - the triumph of a miscreant of a most atrocious nature.
    But he was happy - happy after his own fashion [-352-] - happy in counting and contemplating the produce of his turpitude.
    While he was consigning his wealth to the larger bag, and gloating over the gold as he passed it through his hand, he was suddenly alarmed by a slight sound in the passage.
    It seemed like a low footstep.
    He listened, but it was not repeated.
    For nearly a minute did he remain motionless, and almost breathless, in a state of painful attention; but not another sound met his ear.
    Then, recovering from the state of uneasy suspense into which that incident had thrown him, he rose from the floor, and hurried into the passage which divided the two rows of cells.
    All was quiet.
    Ashamed of himself for his childish alarm, and stuttering a curse at his folly for having given way to that fear, he returned into the cell, buried his treasure and covered the place with the stone. He then carefully locked the door of the dungeon.
    He crossed the passage, and proceeded gently to open the door leading into the cell occupied by Viola. When he entered this vault, he found the lamp extinguished ; - but by the glare of his candle, he perceived the unhappy woman stretched in a profound slumber upon the bed.
    "All right," he muttered to himself,- "and just as I expected. She will sleep some hours yet, for the wine was well drugged; and thus we can convey her back again to her house in a state of insensibility. When she awakes in her own bed, her servants will assure her that all she has passed through was a mere dream; and by this plan she will be so bewildered, that she will actually fancy she has been delirious, and that her brain has wandered. This was Chichester's suggestion; and I must give him credit for it. True - she will sooner or later discover that the departure of half her property is no dream; but then the first burst of passion will have gone by, and she will consider it prudent to hold her tongue. Well - let her sleep: at nine o'clock Chichester and Tomlinson will come, and then she shall be removed."
    At that instant an idea struck the Resurrection Man. Hitherto he had worked as Chichester's agent, and by Chichester's directions, in this affair: what if he were to turn the business to some good account for himself? The lady had only parted with half her property: she had eight thousand pounds left. Might not all, or a decent portion of this sum thus remaining, pass into the hands of the Resurrection Man? His mode of treatment had excited the first concession: some additional horrors might extort a further grant. The idea was excellent: fool that he was for not having thought of it before!
    Thus reasoned Anthony Tidkins.
    The more he thought of the new plot which had just entered his head, the more he grew enamoured of it. He was well aware that neither Chichester nor Tomlinson would dare to adopt measures to resist his will; and with a grin of savage delight, he exclaimed aloud, "By God, it shall be done!"
    He then removed the bottle of wine from the cell, so that when Viola awoke she might not repeat her dose - supposing that she should be ignorant of the cause of her long lethargic slumber; for the Resurrection Man was not aware of the sudden effect which it had produced upon her, but imagined that the drugged liquid was only powerful enough to operate gradually. He next replenished the lamp with oil from a bottle which stood in one corner of the cell, and, having lighted the lamp, withdrew, carefully bolting and locking the door behind him.
    He ascended from the subterranean prison, replaced the stone trap-door, and issued from the ground-floor of the house, he observed that the door leading into the alley was looked as he had left it when he entered; and this circumstance reassured him relative to the little incident which had temporarily disturbed him when counting his money in the cell.
    Many circumstances combined to put the Resurrection Man into an excellent humour.
    He had that day added four hundred pounds to his hidden treasure; he saw business of all kinds a multiplying upon his hands, and promising a golden harvest; and he had hit upon a scheme which, he bad no doubt, would produce him a larger sum than he had ever yet realized even in his dreams.
    It was therefore with a smiling countenance that he entered the up-stairs room where the Rattlesnake was busily employed in spreading the contents of her cupboard upon the table.
    "Well, Meg, you see I am home before my time," he exclaimed. " I don't want any dinner: I took some at a chop-house in town, as I had to wait on business. But leave the lush: I am in a humour for a glass of grog ;-and you and I, Meg, will sit down and have a cozy chat together."
    "So we will, Tony," returned the woman, with a manner even more wheedling and fawning than she had ever before used towards her terrible paramour. " You seem in excellent spirits, Tony."
    "Yes, Meg - excellent: I have done a good day's work - and now I will enjoy myself till nine o'clock, - when I have got to meet two gentlemen close by here on another little matter."
    "Ah! you seldom tell me what you are doing, Tony," said the Rattlesnake.
    "No - no: I don't like trusting women a bit farther than I can see them. Such things as getting up a body or so - well and good; but serious things, Meg - serious things, never!"
    "Well, just as you like," returned Margaret Flathers, affecting a smile as if she were quite satisfied; but as she turned to replace the meat in the cupboard, her countenance involuntarily assumed an expression of mysterious triumph.
    "Come, now - sit down," said the Resurrection Man: "give me a pipe, and brew me my lush. There - that's a good girl."
    Tidkins lighted his pipe, and smoked for some moments in silence.
    "I tell you what, Meg," he exclaimed, after a pause; "you shall sing me a song. I feel in such an uncommon good humour this evening - in such excellent spirits. No - I won't have a song: I tell you what you shall do."
    "What?" said Margaret, as she mixed two glasses of gin and water.
    "You shall tell me all about the coal-mines, you know - your own history. You told it me once before; but then I wasn't in a humour to hear you. I missed half, and have forgot t' other half. So now come - let's have the Life and Adventures of Miss Margaret Flathers."
    The Resurrection Man laughed at this joke - as he considered and meant it to be; and the Rattlesnake, who never dared to thwart him in any thing, and who apparently had some additional motive to humour him on this occasion, hastened to comply a with his request - or rather command.
    She accordingly related her history, the phraseology of which we have taken the liberty materially to correct and amend, in the following manner.

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