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LONDON [Vol. II]
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PRISONER IN THE SUBTERRANEAN.
was on the same morning when Adeline came to London in the manner just
described, that Anthony Tidkins merged [-sic-] from
his dwelling, hastened up the dark alley, and entered the ground-floor of the
He was not, however, alone: — Mr. Banks, who
had been breakfasting with him, followed close behind.
"Light the darkey, old fellow," said the
Resurrection Man, when they were both in the back room; "while I raise the
trap. We must bring matters to an end somehow or another this morning."
"I hope so," returned Banks. "It isn't
wary probable that the poor old wessel will have pluck enow to hold out much
longer. Why — it must be near upon ten days that she's been
"I dare say it is," observed the Resurrection
Man, coolly: "but she'll never stir out till she gives us the information
we want. It would be worth a pretty penny to us. The young girl was evidently
dying to know about her parents, that night she met the old woman; and she can
get money from her friends — she said so."
"Well," returned Banks, "let us hope that
the old woman has thought better on it by this time and will make a clean buzzim
of it. It would be a great pity and a wery useless crime if we was obleeged to
knock the sinful old wessel on the head arter all: her corpse would fetch
nothing at the surgeon's."
"Don't be afraid," said Tidkins: "it
won't come to that. She was half inclined to tell every thing last night when I
visited her as usual. But come along, and let's see how she is disposed this
The Resurrection Man descended the stone staircase,
followed by Banks, who carried the light.
In a few moments they entered the vault where their
prisoner was confined.
And that prisoner was the vile hag of Golden Lane!
A lamp burned feebly upon the table in the subterranean;
and the old woman was already up and dressed when the two men made their
She was sitting in a chair, dolefully rocking herself to
and fro and uttering low moans as she pondered upon her condition and the terms
on which she might obtain her release.
When the Resurrection Man and Banks entered the
subterranean, she turned a hasty glance towards them, and then continued to rock
and moan as before.
The two men seated themselves on the side of the bed.
"Well," said the Resurrection Man, "have
you made up your mind, old woman? Because me and my friend Banks are pretty
tired of this delay; and if the solitary system won't do — why, we
must try what good can be effected by starvation."
"Alack! I have always thought myself bad
enough," said the old hag; "but you are a very devil."
"Ah! and you shall find this place hell too,
if you go on humbugging me much longer," returned the Resurrection Man,
savagely. "You have only got yourself to thank for all this trouble that
you're in. If you had behaved in a straightforward manner, all would have gone
on right enough. My friend Banks here can tell you the same. But you tried to
get the upper hand of me throughout the business."
"No — no," murmured the hag, still
"But I say yes — yes," answered
the Resurrection Man. "In the first place you would tell me nothing about
Catherine Wilmot's parentage: you kept it all close to yourself. I suspected
you — I even told you so. I declared that 'if I caught you out in
any of your tricks, I would hang you up to your own bed-post, as readily as I
would ring the neck of your old cat.' And I will keep my word yet, if you
refuse to give me the information I require."
"What will become of me? what will become of
me?" moaned the old hag. "Alack! alack!"
"You'll very soon find out," answered Tidkins.
"But I just want to prove to you that I am right in all I am doing with
regard to you. In the first place you would speak to Katherine alone: that
didn't look well. You said I might be a witness at a distance — or
when the money was paid; but I knew that to be all humbug. However, I let you
have your way at the beginning — if it was only to see how the young
girl would receive you. Well, friend Banks drives us to Hounslow: we set off to
the farm — we meet Katherine and another young lady — and
this Miss Monroe throws cold water on the whole business. Still you won't speak
before witnesses. We go back to the inn at Hounslow: we concoct the note to
Kate; and friend Banks undertakes to deliver it, as it seemed he knew something
of her. He managed to give it to her; and you, old woman, go off to meet her at
seven. Now did you think I was so precious green as not to take advantage of the
opportunity? Not I! I went after you — I crept round behind the
fences near where you and Katherine met each other — and I heard
every word that passed between you."
"Alack! alack!" moaned the old woman.
"Yes — I heard every thing,"
continued the Resurrection Man; — "enough to prove to me that
the young girl would give half her fortune to learn the truth concerning her
father and mother. I also understood pretty well that there is the name of Markham
in the case; and I was struck by the manner in which you urged her to purchase
your secret, when she informed you that Richard Mark-[-268-]ham — the
Markham whom I know and hate — had been made a great lord. All you
said in respect to the conditions on which your secret was to be sold didn't
astonish me at all. It only confirmed me in the conviction that you had intended
throughout to gammon me. You meant to make use of me as a tool to find out
Katherine's address, and then to reserve for your own particular plucking the
pigeon whose hiding-place I had detected. 'The man who was with me this
morning, is a bad one,' said you: 'he is avaricious, and desires to turn
my knowledge of this secret to a good account.' — And so I did,
you old harridan; and so I mean to do now — He is a desperate
man, and I dare not offend him,' you went on to say. — Egad!
you've found out that you spoke pretty truly. — 'He wants money;
and money he must have.' — True again: and money I will have
too. The girl tells you she is rich and anxious to purchase the secret; and when
she asks you how much will satisfy me, you coolly tell her, 'A hundred
pounds,' — A hundred devils! And then, in your gammoning,
snivelling way, you demand of her the 'wherewith to make your few remaining
"Alas! I am a poor old soul — a poor
old soul!" murmured the horrible crone, shaking her head. "Do with me
what you will — kill me at once!"
"And what the devil good would your carcass be to
us?" exclaimed the Resurrection Man.
"A workus coffin would be thrown away on it,"
added Mr. Banks.
"So it would, Ned," returned Tidkins.
"But I'll just finish what I have to say to the old woman; and we'll then
go to the point. I was so disgusted, and in such an infernal rage, when I heard
you going on in such a rascally manner, — selling me, and taking
care of yourself, — that I determined at one time to come down from
behind the palings, and force you to tell Katherine Wilmot on the spot all you
knew about her parents, and then trust to her generosity. And as the night had
turned dark, I had moved away from the spot, and was coming towards you along
the path, when you heard the rustling of my cloak. At that instant another idea
struck me: I resolved to bring you here, and get the secret out of you. I
therefore crept softly back behind the fence. Then you went on with a deal more
nonsense — all of which I heard as well as the rest. I was now
determined to punish you: so I got back to the inn before you — arranged
it all with Banks — and we had you up to London, and safely lodged
here in this pleasant little place, that very night. Now, tell me the truth, old
woman — don't you deserve it all!"
"Lack-a-day!" crooned the harridan.
"She does indeed deserve it, Tony," said
Banks, shaking his head with that solemnity which he had affected so long as at
length to use it mechanically: "she's as gammoning an old weasel as ever
stood a chance of making a ugly carkiss to be burnt in the bone-house by my
friend Jones the grave-digger."
"Now, by Satan!" suddenly ejaculated the
Resurrection Man, starting up, and laying his iron hand on the hag's shoulder so
as to prevent her from rocking to and fro any longer; "if you don't give up
this infernal croaking and moaning, I'll invent some damnable torture to make
you tractable. Speak, old wretch!" he shouted in her ears, as he shook her
violently: "will you tell us the secret about Katherine Wilmot — or
will you not?"
"Not now — not now!" cried the
hag: "another time!"
"I will not wait another hour!" ejaculated the
Resurrection Man; "but, by God! I'll put you to some torture. What shall we
do to her, Banks?"
"Screw her cussed carkiss down in one of my coffins
for an hour or so," answered the undertaker.
"No — that won't do," said the
"I always punishes my children in that way,"
observed Banks; "and I find it a wery sallitary example."
"I know what we'll do," exclaimed Tidkins
"they say that Dick Turpin used to put old women on the fire to make them
tell where their money was. Suppose we serve this wretched hag out in the same
"I'm quite agreeable," returned Banks, with as
much complacency as if a party of pleasure had been proposed to him. "I
b'lieve you've got a brazier."
"Yes — up in the front room,
ground-floor, where all the resurrection-tools are kept," answered Tidkins.
"You go and fetch it — bring plenty of coal and wood, and the
bellows — and we'll precious soon make the old woman speak
The undertaker departed to execute this commission; and
Tidkins again reasoned with the hag.
But all he could get out of her was a moaning
exclamation; and as soon as he withdrew his hand from her shoulder, she began
rocking backwards and forwards as before.
It suddenly struck the Resurrection Man that she was
actually losing her senses through the rigours of confinement; and he became
alarmed — not on her account, but for the secret which he wished to
extort from her.
As this idea flashed to his mind, he cast a rapid glance
towards the old woman; and surprised her as she herself was scrutinising his
countenance with the most intense interest, while she was all the time
pretending to be listlessly rocking herself.
"Another gag — by hell!"
ejaculated Tidkins "What do you take me for? You think that I am such a
miserable fool as to be deluded by your tricks? Not I, Indeed! Ah! you would
affect madness — idiotcy — would you? Why, if you really
went mad through captivity in this place, I would knock you on the head at
once — for fear that if you were let loose you might peach in your
ravings about my designs concerning Kate Wilmot. But if you tell me, in your
sober senses, all I want to know, I'll give you your freedom in twelve hours;
because I am very well aware that you would not, when in possession of your
reason, attract attention to your own ways of life by betraying mine."
"And if I tell you all I know," said the hag,
seeing that her new design was detected and that it was useless to persist in
it, — "if I tell you all I know, why will you not allow me to
go home at once?"
"Because you came here in the night — and
you shall go away in the night: because you arrived blindfolded — and
you shall depart blindfolded," replied the Resurrection Man, sternly.
"Do you think that I would let an old treacherous hag like you discover the
whereabouts of this house? Why — you have no more idea at present
whether you're in Saint Giles's or the Mint — Clerkenwell or
Shoreditch — Bond Street or Rosemary Lane; — and I [-269-]
don't intend you ever to be any wiser. But here comes Banks, with the
The undertaker made his appearance, laden with the
articles for which he had been sent.
The Resurrection Man laid the wood and coals in the
brazier, and applied a match. In a few moments there was a bright blaze, which
he fanned by means of the bellows.
"It'll be a good fire in a minute or two,"
said Tidkins, coolly.
"Almost as good as Jones makes in the bone-house
where he burns the blessed carkisses of wenerable defuncts," returned Mr.
"Don't blow any more, Mr. Tidkins — save
yourself the trouble," said the hag, now really alarmed. "I will make
terms with you."
"Terms, indeed!" growled the Resurrection Man.
"Well — what have you to say!"
"If I tell you every thing, you can get what money
you choose out of Katherine," continued the old woman; "and I shall
not receive a penny."
"Serve you right for having tried to gammon
"That will be very hard — very hard
indeed," added the hag. "And after all, when you go to Katherine
Wilmot and reveal to her the secrets I communicate to you, she will ask you for
proofs — proofs," repeated the old woman, with a cunning
leer; "and you will have no proofs to give her."
"Then you shall write out the whole history, and
sign it," said Tidkins; "and my friend Banks will witness it."
"Yes," observed the undertaker, smoothing his
limp cravat-ends: "Edward Banks, of Globe Lane, Globe Town — Furnisher
of Funerals on New and Economic Principles — Good Deal Coffin, Eight
Shillings and — "
"Hold your nonsense, Ned," cried Tidkins: then
addressing himself again to the old woman, he said, "Well — don't
you think that scheme would answer to the purpose?"
"Very likely — very likely,"
exclaimed the hag. "But proofs — written proofs — would
not be bad companions to the statement that you wish me to draw up."
"And have you such written proofs?" demanded
"I have — I have," was the reply.
"Where are they?"
"Where you cannot discover them — concealed
at my own abode. No one could find them even if they pulled the house down,
And again the hag leered cunningly.
"This only makes the matter more important,"
mused the Resurrection Man, now hesitating between his avarice and his desire to
possess such important testimony. "Well," he continued after a
pause, — "to use your own words, we will make terms. I
tell you what I'll do: — write out your history of the whole
business in full — in full mind; and I will give you ten guineas
down. At night me and Banks will take you home — to your own place;
where you shall give me up the written proofs you talk of — and I
will give you another ten guineas. Now is that a bargain!"
"Alack! It must be — it must be!"
said the hag. "But why not let me go home to write out the history!"
"I am not quite such a fool," returned Tidkins.
"And mind you do not attempt to decieve [-sic-]
me with any inventions for I shall deuced soon be able to tell whether your
history tallies with all I overheard you and Katherine say together on the
subject. Besides, the written proofs must be forthcoming — and they,
too, must fully corroborate all you state. Fail in any one of these
conditions — and, by Satan I'll cut your throat from ear to ear. Do
"I do," answered the hag. "Give me paper
Tidkins departed to fetch writing materials, food, some
strong liquor, and oil for the old woman's lamp.
In five minutes he returned; and, placing those articles
upon the table, said, "When will your task be completed?"
"It will take me some hours," returned the
hag: "for I have much to think of — much to write!" And
she heaved a deep sigh.
"This evening I will visit you again," said
the Resurrection Man.
He and Banks then fastened the huge door upon the old
woman, and left the subterranean.
When they reached the street, the undertaker departed in
the direction of his own house; and the Resurrection Man ascended to his
apartment on the first floor.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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