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violence of the concussion threw Richard backwards; and in a moment he felt the
rough hand of a man grasp him by the throat.
"Who is it?" was the demand simultaneously put
"I will answer you when we are on equal terms,
replied Markham; and, hurling the man away from him, he sprang upon his feet.
"Now — stand off," he cried; "for I am not to be injured with
"I don't want to injure you," said the man.
"But who are you? I know by your voice that you're not one of us."
"You then are an inmate of this house?"
observed Markham, fencing with the other's question.
At that instant another hollow groan echoed through the
"She lives!" cried the man; and in another
moment Markham heard him drawing back the bolts of the massive door which he had
observed in the scullery.
Richard groped his way towards him, and said, "She
lives? whom do you allude to? Surely there cannot be a female imprisoned — "
"Be silent, in the name of heaven!"
interrupted the man, in a whisper. "The life of an unhappy woman depends
upon your secrecy — whoever you may be."
"Then would I rather aid than harm you and her,
both," answered Markham.
Another groan was heard, and Richard could now
distinguish the direction from which it came.
But still the massive door remained unopened.
"This bolt, — this bolt!" muttered the man in a
tone expressive of commingled rage and despair. "Oh! for a light!"
"Can you not procure one?" demanded Richard.
"Stay," said the man — " a good thought!
There should be candles somewhere here — and matches. By Jove! here is a candle —
and, on this shelf — yes — here are matches also!"
The man struck a light.
By a natural impulse he and Markham immediately cast
scrutinising glances at each other.
"Ah! I thought so by your voice — you are a
gentleman," said the man: "then you will not betray me?"
"Betray you!" repeated Markham, surprised at
"I will tell you what I mean presently: there is no
time to be lost! Hark — another groan: she is dying!"
The man, who was tall and good-looking, and evidently
not a scion of the Bohemian race — gave Markham the candle, and proceeded to open
the massive door, the presence of the light enabling him to remove the
fastenings with ease.
He then beckoned Richard to follow him into the cellar,
where he instantly set to work to draw the bolts of a second door.
This task was speedily accomplished; and as the door
grated upon its hinges, another heart-wrung moan emanated from the interior of
the second vault.
The man rushed in; Markham followed with the light, and
beheld a woman stretched almost lifeless upon the mattress.
The groans had all along emanated from her lips: — then
where was the Resurrection Man?
"Margaret — cheer up — it 's me —
it's Skilligalee — I'm come to save you," said the protector of the Rattlesnake as he bent
"How long has she been immured here?" inquired
"Only three or four hours," answered
Skilligalee [-14-] "and so it must be fright
that has half killed her. Pray get some water, sir — there 's plenty in the
Markham hastened to comply with this request; and
Skilligalee bathed the woman's face with the refreshing element.
She opened her eyes, and a smile came over her faded
countenance as she caught sight of the friendly face that greeted her fearful
"How long have I been here?" asked the
Rattlesnake in a faint tone, while her whole frame was convulsed with terror as
recent events rushed to her mind.
"Not many hours, Meg," answered Skilligalee.
"And you will not leave me here any longer?"
she said. "Oh! do not let me die in this horrible place!"
"I am come to save you," returned Skilligalee.
"Are you able to get up and walk?"
"Yes — for the sake of freedom," cried the
Rattlesnake, rising from the mattress. " But who is that?" she added,
as her eyes now fell upon Markham for the first time.
"That's exactly what I don't know myself,"
said Skilligalee. "The gentleman has, however, behaved himself as such; and
that's enough for us. Hark! there's the clock on the staircase striking five! We
have n't much time to lose: come on."
Markham led the way with the light: Skilligalee
followed, supporting the Rattlesnake, who was weak and exhausted with the
effects of extreme terror.
"Which way shall we go?" she inquired, as they
paused for a moment in the scullery, to listen if all were quiet.
"By the back gate," answered Skilligalee.
"I have secured the key. The porter keeps the keys of the front door."
"And what has become of him — that dreadful
man who was the cause of all this misery?" asked the Rattlesnake. "Was
he killed by the blow that the Traveller dealt him with his long dagger?"
These words struck a chord which vibrated to Markham's
"Was any one wounded in this house during the
night?" he demanded hastily.
Skilligalee hesitated: he knew not who Markham was, nor
what might be the consequences of a reply consistent with the truth.
"Answer me, I conjure you," continued Richard,
perceiving this unwillingness to satisfy his curiosity. "I have every
reason to believe that a person whose name is Anthony Tidkins — "
"Oh! yes — yes," murmured the Rattlesnake, with
a convulsive shudder.
"Then I have not been deceived!" cried
Markham. "That individual, who is better known as the Resurrection Man, was
dangerously wounded — if not killed — in this house a few hours since.
"You," he continued, addressing himself to
Skilligalee, "are evidently acquainted with the particulars of the
occurrence: as I have assisted you to liberate this woman who seems dear to you,
reward me by telling me all you know of that event."
"First tell me who you are," said Skilligalee.
"And be quick — I have no time for conversation."
"Suffice It for you to know that I am one whom the
Resurrection Man has cruelly injured. Twice has he attempted my life: once at
his den in Bethnal Green, and again on the banks of the canal at Twig Folly — "
"Then you, sir, are Mr. Markham?" interrupted
the Rattlesnake. "Oh! I know how you have been treated by that fearful man;
and there is no necessity to conceal the truth from you! Yes — sir, it is true
that the wretch who has persecuted you was stabbed in this house; and — if I did
not believe that the wound was mortal — "
Here the Rattlesnake stopped, and leant heavily upon
Skilligalee for support — so profoundly was she terrified at the mere possibility
of Anthony Tidkins being still in existence.
Her companion perceived her emotion, and fathoming its
cause, hastened to exclaim, "But he is no more! You need dread him no
"Are you sure? are you well convinced of
this?" demanded Markham.
"I saw him breaths his last," was the answer.
"Where? Not in this house?" cried Richard.
"No," returned Skilligalee. "Between two
and three this morning the King, his family, and all the Zingarees, except those
who stay to take care of this establishment, took their departure; and I was
compelled to go along with them. In consequence of some communication between
the person you call the Resurrection Man and Aischa, the Queen of the Zingarees,
after he was badly wounded by the Traveller — "
"How do you call the individual who attacked
him?" demanded Richard.
"The Traveller," answered the Skilligalee.
"But it appears, that he had another name — Crankey Jem: at least, he said so
after he had stabbed the man."
"I should know that name," said Richard,
musing. "Oh! I remember! Proceed."
"Well — in consequence of something that the
Resurrection Man told Aischa, when she was attending to his wound, it was
determined to take him along with us; and four of our men carried him down to
the van which was waiting at the back gate. He groaned very much while he was
"I heard him," said Richard, instantaneously
recalling to mind the groans which had met his ears when he was listening at his
chamber door to the bustle of the gipsies' departure.
"You heard him?" repeated Skilligalee.
"Yes — I was in the house at the time.
"We conveyed him down to the van, where we laid him
on a mattress, and he seemed to fall asleep. Then we all divided into twos and
threes, and got safe out of London, into a field near the Pentonville
penitentiary. But when the van, with Aischa, Eva, and Morcar,- — those are some of
our people, sir, — came to the place of appointment we found," added
Skilligalee, his voice assuming a peculiar tone, "that the Resurrection Man
"God be thanked!" ejaculated the Rattlesnake,
with a fervour which made Markham's blood run cold.
"And now that I have told you all I know,
sir," said Skilligalee, "you will have no objection if me and my
companion here go about our business; for it is dangerous to both our interests
to remain here any longer."
Skilligalee uttered these words in his usually jocular
manner; for he was anxious to reassure his female companion, who still laboured
under an [-15-] excess of terror that seemed ready
to prostrate all her energies.
"Yes — let us leave this fearful den," said
Markham: "to me it appears replete with horrors of all kinds."
"Skilligalee now took the candle and led the way,
still supporting Margaret Flathers on his arm.
They all three effected their egress from the palace
without any obstacle.
When they were safe in the alley with which the back
gate communicated, Markham said to Skilligalee, "From what I can
understand, you have fled from the gipsies in order to return and liberate your
companion from the dungeon where we found her."
"That is precisely what I did," answered
Skilligalee. "I gave them the slip when they had set up their tents in the
field near the Penitentiary."
"It is probable that you are not too well provided
with pecuniary resources," said Richard: "the contents of my purse are
at your service."
"Thank you kindly, sir — very kindly," returned
Skilligalee. "I am not in want of such assistance."
Markham vainly pressed his offer: it was declined with
many expressions of gratitude. The truth was that Skilligalee had the greater
portion of his share of Margaret's gold still remaining; and there was something
so generous and so noble in the manner of Richard Markham, that he could not
find it in his heart to impose upon him by taking a sum of which he did not
stand in immediate need.
"At all events, let me advise you to avoid such
companions as those with whom you appear to have been allied," observed
Richard, "and who are cruel enough to immure a female in a subterranean
"I shall not neglect your advice, sir,"
returned Skilligalee; "and may God bless you for it."
"And you," continued Richard, addressing
himself to Margaret Flathers, "second your companion in his good
intentions. I know not what deed on your part could have led to your
incarceration in that cell — neither do I seek to know; — but to you I would
give similar advice — avoid those whose ways are criminal, and whose vengeance
is as terrific as it is lawless. Farewell."
"May God bless you, sir, for your good
counsel!" said Margaret Flathers, weeping.
She had not merely repeated, with parrot-like
callousness, the words uttered by her companion: that benediction emanated with
fervid sincerity from a heart deeply penetrated by anxiety to renew a
long-forgotten acquaintance with rectitude.
"Farewell, sir," said Skilligalee.
He and the Rattlesnake then struck into one of the
streets with which the alley at the back of the gipsies' palace communicated.
Richard took another direction on his way
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