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LONDON [Vol. II]
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IN THE GIPSY PALACE.
a few moments Richard remained rooted to the spot where the returned convict had
left him. He was uncertain how to proceed.
Warned by the desperate adventure which had nearly cost
him his life at Twig Folly, he feared lest the present occurrence might be
another scheme of the Resurrection Man to ensnare him.
Then he reflected that the individual who had just left
him, had met him accidentally, and had narrated to him circumstances which had
every appearance of truth.
We have before said that Markham was not a coward — far
from it; and he moreover experienced a lively curiosity to satisfy himself
concerning the fate of an individual whose inveterate malignity had so
frequently menaced not only his dearest interests, but his life.
This reflection decided him; and, without farther
hesitation, he knocked boldly at the front door of the Gipsies' Palace.
Some minutes elapsed ere his summons appeared to have
created any attention within; and he was about to repeat it, when the door
slowly moved on its hinges.
But to Markham's surprise no person appeared in the
obscure lobby into which the pale moon threw a fitful light; in fact, the front
door was opened by means of a simple mechanism which the porter worked in his
While Markham was lost in wonder at this strange
circumstance, the trap was suddenly raised above, and a strong light was thrown
through it into the lobby.
"Who are you?" demanded the gruff voice of the
"I seek a few hours' repose and rest,"
"Who sent you here?"
"A person who is a friend to you."
"Do you know what place this is?"
"Yes — it is the head-quarters of the Zingarees"
"So far, so good," said the porter. "Well
wait a few moments — I must see."
The trap closed — the lobby was again involved in total
darkness; and for the next ten minutes the silence of death appeared to reign
within the house.
At the expiration of that time the inner door was
opened: and the porter, bearing a light, appeared.
"You may enter," he said. "The Zingarees
never refuse hospitality when it can be safely granted."
Markham crossed the threshold without hesitation.
The porter closed both doors with great care.
"Follow me," said the man.
He then led the way up stairs to the first floor. and
conducted our hero into a room where there were several beds, all of which were
"You have your choice of the downies,"
observed [-11-] the porter, with a half smile;
"and I shall leave you this light. Do you require any food?"
"None, I thank you."
"So I should think," said the man drily, as he
surveyed Markham's appearance in a manner which seemed to express a wonder why a
person in his situation of life had come thither at all.
We have, however, before observed that curiosity formed
but a faint feature of the gipsy character; and, even when it existed, it was
not expressed in verbal queries. Moreover, individuals in a respectable sphere
not unfrequently sought in the Holy Land a refuge against the officers of the
laws which they violated; and hence the appearance of a person had nothing to do
with the fact of admission into the gipsies' establishment.
Nevertheless, the porter did survey Markham in a dubious
way for a moment; but whether the preceding incidents of the night, or the calm
tranquillity of our hero's manner, — so inconsistent with the idea that he was
anxious to conceal himself from the eyes of justice, — excited the suspicions of
the porter, it is impossible to say.
But that glance of curiosity was only momentary.
Averting his eyes from our hero, the porter placed the
light upon the floor, wished him a good night's rest, and retired.
But to the surprise and annoyance of Markham, the gipsy
locked the door of the apartment.
As the key turned with a grating sound, a tremor crept
over Richard's frame; and he almost repented having sought the interior of an
abode the character and inmates of which were almost entirely unknown to him.
Indeed, all that he knew of either was derived from the meagre information of
the man (and that man an acknowledged assassin!) who had induced him to visit
the place where be now found himself.
"How weak I am to yield to this sentiment of
fear!" he exclaimed. "Rather let me determine how to act."
He proceeded to examine the room in which he appeared to
be a prisoner. The numerous beds seemed to indicate that he really was in a
species of barrack, or lodging-house of some kind; and this circumstance,
coupled with the fact that the porter who had admitted him was evidently a
member of the Egyptian or Bohemian race, reassured him — for he felt convinced
that he was actually in the abode of gipsies.
So far the stranger, who had been the means of his visit
to that strange tenement, had not deceived him.
But how was he to satisfy himself in regard to the
Resurrection Man? He tried the door — it was indeed fastened: he examined the
windows — they were not barred, but were of a dangerous height from the back-yard
on which they looked.
Markham paced the room uncertain how to act.
Suddenly his reverie was Interrupted by the tread of
many steps upon the stairs; and then a species of subdued bustle took place
throughout the house.
The whispering of voices — the removal of heavy objects
overhead — the running of persons hither and thither — and the opening and shutting
of doors, announced that some extraordinary movement was taking place.
Richard listened with breathless anxiety.
At length the sounds of several heavy steps, in the
landing outside his door, met his ears; and this was at short intervals varied
by deep groans.
The groans seemed to accompany the tread of the heavy
steps just mentioned.
These steps and those expressions of human suffering
grew fainter and fainter, as they descended the stairs, until at length they
were no longer audible.
Nevertheless Markham kept his ear fixed to the key-hole
of his chamber-door.
Silence now once more reigned throughout the house; but
in a few minutes the noise and bustle seemed to have been transferred to the
Richard hurried to the window; but the moon had gone
down and the darkness without was intense.
He concealed the light in a corner of the room, and then
gently raised one of the windows.
But he could distinguish nothing with his eyes; and the
sounds that met his ears were those of footsteps bustling to and fro. At length
these ceased: a door was closed at the end of the yard; and almost immediately
afterwards Richard heard, in the same direction, the rumbling noise of a vehicle
moving heavily away.
When that din had ceased, the most profound tranquillity
prevailed not only in the house but also in its neighbourhood.
That silence was interrupted only for a few moments by
the sonorous bell of St. Giles's Church, proclaiming the hour of three.
"Time wears on," said Markham impatiently;
"and no opportunity of satisfying myself upon the one point seems to
present itself. To attempt to seek repose is impossible: to pass the dull hours
in supense [-sic-] like this is intolerable!"
Then he seated himself on one of the beds, and
considered what course he should pursue.
Slowly — slowly passed the time: and though he revolved in
his mind many plans, he could fix upon none.
At length the clock struck four.
"The hour for departure will come, and I shall
leave this house as full of doubt and uncertainty as when I entered it!" he
ejaculated, starting up.
His eye chanced to fall upon a long nail in the wall
opposite to the bed from which he had just risen.
A scheme which had already suggested itself to his mind,
now assumed a feasible aspect: — he knew that the door was only locked, and not
bolted; and that nail seemed to promise the means of egress.
He, however, first examined the candle which had been
left him, and which still burned in the corner where he had concealed it — to his
joy he found that there was an inch remaining.
"With the assurance of light for another half hour,
and good courage," he said to himself, "I may yet accomplish my
Having extracted the nail from the wall, he proceeded to
pick the lock of the room-door — an operation which he successfully achieved in a
Without a moment's hesitation, he issued from the room,
bearing the candle in his hand.
As he crossed the landing towards the staircase, which
he resolved to ascend, his foot came in contact with some object.
He picked it up: It was an old greasy pocket-book, tied
loosely round with a coarse string, and as Markham raised it a letter dropped
Richard was in the act of replacing the document in the
pocket-book, which he intended to leave upon the stairs, so as to attract the
notice of the inmates of the house, when the address on the outside of the
letter caught his eyes.
The candle nearly fell from his hand, so great; was the
astonishment which immediately seized upon him.
That address consisted simply of the words "ANTHONY
TIDKINS!" — but the handwriting — Oh! there was no possibility of mistaking
that! Markham knew it so well; and though years had elapsed since he had last
seen it, still it was as familiar to him as his own — the more so, as it remained
unchanged in style; for it was the writing of his brother Eugene.
With a hasty but trembling hand he opened the letter,
the wafer of which had already been broken; — he did not hesitate to read the
contents; — judging by his own frank and generous heart, he conceived that such a
licence was permitted between brothers. Moreover, he experienced a profound and
painful anxiety to ascertain what link could connect his brother with the
terrible individual to whom the letter was addressed.
But all that the letter contained was this: —
"Come to me to-night without fail, between eleven
and twelve. Knock in the usual manner."
Richard examined the handwriting with the most minute
attention; and the longer he scrutinized it, the more he became confirmed in his
belief that is was Eugene's.
But Eugene a patron or colleague of the greatest
miscreant that had ever disgraced human nature! Was such a thing possible?
The letter bore no date — no signature — and was addressed
from no place. It had no post-mark upon it, and had, therefore, evidently been
delivered by a private hand.
"Oh!" thought Richard within himself, "if
my unhappy brother have really been the victim, the associate, or the employer
of that incarnate demon, may God grant that the wretch is indeed no more — for the
sake of Eugene!"
And then his curiosity to ascertain the truth relative
to the alleged assassination of Tidkins, became more poignant.
"It must be so!" reasoned Markham within
himself; "that stranger has not deceived me: — the presence of this
pocket-book here is an undeniable trace of the miscreant. Oh, how much it now
behoves me to convince myself that he is indeed removed from the theatre of his
Subduing as much as possible the painful emotions which
that letter had suddenly excited within him, Markham secured the pocket-book
about his person; for now that accident had revealed to him to whom it belonged,
he did not consider himself called upon to part with an object which, in case
the statement of Tidkins' death should prove untrue, might contain some paper
calculated to afford a clue to his haunts or proceedings.
Scarcely decided in what manner to pursue his
investigation in that house, and trusting more to accident than to any settled
plan to aid him in testing the truth of the self-accused stranger's statement
relative to Tidkins, — Markham stole softly up the staircase.
Arrived on the first landing to which it led, he
listened attentively at the various doors which opened from it.
All was silent as death within the rooms to which those
Not even the sound of human respiration met his ears.
Could it be possible that the house was deserted? Perhaps the bustle which he
had heard ere now was caused by the departure of its occupants?
As this idea grew upon him, he was emboldened to try the
latch of one of the doors at which he had already listened. It yielded to his
hand, he pushed the door open with great caution, and entered the chamber.
Not a human soul was there.
He visited the other rooms upon that landing, the doors
of which were all unlocked: and they were alike untenanted.
There was another story above; and thither he proceeded.
The first three rooms which he entered were an empty,
like the preceding ones; but in the fourth there were three men. They were,
however, fast asleep in their beds; and Richard's visit was so an noiseless that
they were not in the least disturbed.
Hastily retreating, and closing the door carelessly
behind him, Markham descended to the landing on which his own room opened, and
where he had found the pocket-book.
On that floor were four apartments, as on each of the
upper flats, in addition to the porter's lodge, which, it will be remembered,
was precisely over the lobby below.
To avoid elaborate detail, we may state that Markham
found the doors of the other three rooms (besides his own) on the first floor
unlocked, and the chambers themselves untenanted.
He was about to leave the last room, when the appearance
of one of the beds attracted his attention; and on a closer examination, he
perceived that it was saturated with blood. Moreover, on a chair close by, there
were pieces of linen rag, on which large stains of gore were scarcely dry,
together with lint and bandages — unquestionable proofs that a wound had very
recently been dressed in that apartment.
"No — that self-accuser has not deceived me!"
thought Markham, as he contemplated these objects. "All circumstances
combine to bear evidence to the truth of his assertion! Doubtless the gipsies
have an departed, carrying away the corpse with them!"
He stood gazing on the blood-dyed bed at his feet musing
in this manner: and then he thought how fearful was the fate of the miscreant,
the evidences of whose death he believed to be beneath his eyes, cut off in the
midst of his crimes without a moment's preparation or repentance!
But suddenly he asked himself — "Am I certain that he
is no more? That lint to stanch the blood — those bandages to bind the wound —
they not rather bear testimony to a blow which was not fatal, but left life
behind it? And yet, for what purpose could the body be removed — save for secret
interment Oh! if that man be yet alive — and if Eugene be indeed his accomplice or
his patron — "
And Markham experienced emotions of the most intense
anguish! He loved his brother with the most ardent affection; and the idea that
the individual so loved could be a criminal, or the friend of criminals, was
harrowing to his soul.
"But, after all," thought Richard, his
naturally [-13-] upright and almost severe
principles asserting their empire in his mind, — "after all, ought I not to
rejoice, if this man be indeed still alive, that he has survived the assassin's
blow — that he is allowed leisure for repentance! My Maker, who can read all
hearts, knows that I am not selfish; and yet it is a principle of our frail
human nature to rejoice a at the fall of a deadly enemy! Oh! when I think of all
the wrongs and injuries I have experienced at the hands of that man, —
exposures — persecutions — attempts upon my life, — I cannot pray that he may
live to be the scourge of others — and perhaps of my brother — as he has been of
Unwilling to contend longer with the varied emotions
which agitated his breast, Markham hurried from the room.
The lower part of the house yet remained to be explored: —
perhaps the body — if the Resurrection Man were indeed dead — had been
removed to a room on the ground floor?
Determined to leave no stone unturned to satisfy his
doubts, Markham cautiously descended the stairs, and visited the
refectory-rooms, one after the other.
They were all empty.
His candle was now waxing dim; but he saw that his
search was nearly over. A flight of steps, apparently leading to offices in the
basement of the building, alone remained for him to visit.
To that part of the house he descended, and found
himself in a small place which had the appearance of a scullery.
On one side was a massive door, secured with huge bolts,
and evidently leading into a vault or cellar. But scarcely had Markham time to
cast a glance around him in the subterranean, when the candle flickered and
At the same moment a hollow groan echoed through the
Richard started: he was in total darkness — and a
momentary tremor came over him.
The groan was repeated.
His fears vanished; and he immediately concluded that
the Resurrection Man, wounded and suffering, must be somewhere near.
At that idea, all sentiments of aversion, hatred, and
abhorrence, — all reminiscence of injury and wrong, fled from the mind of that
generous-hearted young man: he thought only that a fellow-creature was in
anguish and in pain — perhaps neglected, and left to die without a soul to
Reckless of the danger which he might incur by alarming
the inmates of the house, he determined upon rousing the porter in order to
obtain a light. He turned from the scullery, and was rushing up the Stone steps
in pursuance of his humane intention, when he suddenly came in violent contact
with a person who was descending the same stairs.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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