chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
| > next chapter >
Tidkins sate down and smoked his pipe as calmly as if he were not at all afraid
to be left alone to the company of the thoughts which the occupation was likely
to stir up within him.
For when a man takes up his pipe, all the most important
ideas in his brain are certain to present themselves to his contemplation; and
think on them he must, willing or unwilling.
But Tidkins shrank not from any of those reflections: he
was not one of your villains who are either afraid in the dark, or who loathe
solitude; — what he did he perpetrated systematically, and reviewed
He did not have recourse to the pipe on account of its
soothing qualities — for as long as he made money, he had no cares;
and when he indulged in a glass, it was by no means to drown remorse — because
he had no compunctions to still.
"A few months more in this country, and I shall be
all right," he mused to himself: "then off to America — plunge
into the far-west — change my name — buy land — and
live comfortable for the rest of my days. This business of Katherine Wilmot must
produce me something handsome: — Gilbert Vernon's affair is sure to
do so, in one way or the other; — and if any other business worth
taking, and speedily done, comes in the meantime, all the better. That rascal
Tomlinson regularly bilked me: and yet the fellow did it cleverly! Bolted with
the old man — got clean away. For my part, I wonder he didn't do it
long ago. Well — perhaps I shall meet them both some day in America;
for I dare say they are gone there. All run-a-ways go to America — because
there is no fear of questions being asked in the back-woods, and no need of
letters of introduction when a chap has got plenty of money in his pocket. With
what I've got already, and what I hope to get from the things now in hand, I
shall stand a chance of taking a few thousands with me. But before I do go I
must pay one or two [-270-] people out: — there's
that hated Markham — when he comes back; then there's the
Rattlesnake; and there's Crankey Jem, who, they say in the papers, will have a
free pardon before the trial of that young fool Holford comes on. Well — I
have got something to do, in one way or another, before I leave England; but I'm
not the man to neglect business — either in the pursuit of money or
to punish an enemy Ha! that was a knock at the door! who can come to me at this
The Resurrection Man looked at his watch:-the time had
passed rapidly away while he was smoking and thinking; — and it was
now nearly an hour past mid-day.
The knock — which was low and timid — was
"It is a knock," said Tidkins; and he hastened
down to the street door.
He opened it and beheld a lady, enveloped in a large
cloak, and wearing a black veil which was so elaborately worked and so well
arranged in thick folds that it was impossible to catch even the faintest
glimpse of the countenance that it concealed.
Tidkins, however, perceived at the first glance that it
was no mean person who had sought his abode; for the delicate kid gloves were
drawn on the small hands with a scrupulous nicety; the foot which rested upon
the door-step was diminutive to a fault; and the appearance of the lady, even
disguised as she was, had something of superiority and command which could not
"Does Mr. Tidkins reside here?" she said, in a
tremulous and half-affrighted tone.
"My name's Tidkins, ma'am — at your
service," answered the Resurrection Man, in as polite a manner as he could
It seemed as if the lady looked at him through her veil
for a few moments, ere she made a reply and she even appeared to shudder as she
made that survey.
And no wonder; — for a countenance with a
more sinister expression never met her eyes; and she had moreover recognised the
man's voice, which she had heard before.
"Will you step in, ma'am?" said Tidkins;
seeing that she hesitated. "I am all alone; — and if you come
to speak on any particular business — as of course you do — there'll
be no one to overhear us."
For another instant did Adeline — (there is
no necessity to affect mystery here) — hesitate ere she accepted
this invitation: — then she thought of her torturess Lydia — and
she boldly crossed the threshold.
But when Tidkins closed and bolted the door behind her,
and she found herself ascending the steep staircase, — when she
remembered that she was now alone in that house with a man concerning whom her
notions were of the most appalling nature, — she felt her legs
tremble beneath her.
Then again was she compelled to encourage herself by
rapidly passing in mental review the horrors of those tortures and the extent of
those indignities which she endured at the hands of Lydia Hutchinson! — and
her strength immediately revived.
She ascended the stairs, and entered the back room, to
which the Resurrection Man directed her in language as polite as he could
Then, having placed a chair for his mysterious visitor
near the fire, he took another at a respectful distance from her — for
he knew that it would be impolitic to alarm one who was evidently a well-bred
lady, by appearing to be too familiar.
"I dare say you are surprised to see a — a
female — alone and unprotected — visit your abode in
this — in this unceremonious manner?" said Adeline, after a
long pause, but still fearfully embarrassed.
"I am not surprised at any thing, ma'am, in this
world," replied Tidkins: "I've seen too much ever to wonder. Besides,
it is not the first time that I have had dealings with gentlemen and ladies even
of the highest class. But I ask no impertinent questions, and make no
impertinent remarks. One thing, however, I should like to learn, ma'am — if
it would not be rude: and that is, how you came to address yourself to me for
whatever business you may have in hand?"
"That I cannot explain," returned Adeline:
then, after a moment's thought, she said, "Will it not be sufficient for
you to know that I obtained your address from one of those high-born persons to
whom you ere now alluded?"
"Quite sufficient, ma'am," answered Tidkins.
"In what way can I aid you?"
"I scarcely know how to explain myself," said
Lady Ravensworth. "I require a great service — a terrible one;
but I am prepared to pay in proportion."
"Do not hesitate with me, ma'am," observed
Tidkins, his countenance brightening up considerably at the prospect of reaping
a good harvest by means of his new customer. "Of course you require
something which a lawyer can't do, or else you'd go to one: therefore what you
want is illegal, ma'am; and my business, in a word, is to do every thing which
can be done in opposition to the law."
"But are you prepared to accomplish a deed which,
if detected — Oh! I cannot explain myself! No: — let me
depart — I never should have come hither!"
And Adeline was seized by a sudden paroxysm of remorse
"Calm yourself, ma'am," said Tidkins. "If
you wish to go, I cannot prevent you; but if you really need my aid — in
any way — no matter what — speak at your leisure. I am
not particular, ma'am, as to what I undertake; and don't think I mean to offend
you in what I'm going to say — it's only to give you confidence
towards me, and to afford you an idea of what I now and then do for great folks
and others, both male and female. Suppose a lady has pawned or sold her diamonds
to pay a gaming debt, she wants a sham burglary got up in the house to cover the
loss of them: well, ma'am, I'm the man to break in and carry off a few trifles,
besides forcing open the door of the closet or bureau where the casket of
jewels ought to be. Or perhaps a tradesman who is about to become bankrupt,
wants the stock removed to a place of safety where he can have it again after a
time: there again, ma'am, I'm the individual to accomplish the whole affair in
the night, and give the house the appearance of having been robbed. Or else a
gentleman insures his house and furniture, and wants the money: he goes off into
the country — his place is burnt to a cinder during his absence-and
no one can possibly suspect him of having had any thing to do with it. Besides,
the whole thing seems an accident-so cleverly do I manage it. And, to go a
little farther, ma'am — if a lady should happen to want to get rid
of a severe husband — an illegitimate child — an
extortionate lover — or a successful rival — "
[-271-] "Or a bitter
enemy!" added Lady Ravensworth, hastily — for she had been
enabled to collect her thoughts and compose herself while Tidkins was thus
expatiating upon his exploits.
"Yes, ma'am — or a bitter enemy,"
he repeated; — "it's all the same to me; for," — and
he lowered his voice as he spoke — "I have either the means of
imprisoning them till they're driven raving mad and can be safely removed to an
asylum — or I make shorter work of it still!" he added,
"Ah! you have the means of imprisoning
persons — of keeping them for ever out of the way — and
yet not go to the last extreme!" said Adeline, catching at this
"I have, ma'am," was the calm reply.
"But wherefore do you speak thus freely to me? why
do you tell me so much?" demanded Adeline, a vague suspicion entering her
mind that this fearful man knew her. "I am a complete stranger to you — "
"Yes, ma'am: and you may remain so, if it suits
your purpose," answered Tidkins, who divined the motive of her
observations. "Tell me what you wish done-pay me my price — and
I shall ask you no questions. And if you think that I am incautious in telling
you so much concerning myself, let me assure you that I am not afraid of your
being a police-spy. The police cannot get hold of such persons as yourself to
entrap men like me. I knew that you have business to propose to me: your words
and manner prove it. Now, ma'am, answer me as frankly as I have spoken to you.
You have a bitter enemy?"
"I have indeed," answered Adeline, reassured
that she was not known to the Resurrection Man: "and that enemy is a
"Saving your presence, ma'am, a woman is a worse
enemy than a man," said Tidkins. "And of course you wish to get your
enemy out of the way by some means!"
"I do," replied Adeline, in a low and hoarse
tone — as if she only uttered those monosyllables with a great
"There are two ways, ma'am," said the
Resurrection Man, significantly: "confinement in a dungeon, or — "
"I understand you," interrupted Lady
Ravensworth, hastily. "Oh! I am at a loss which course to adopt — which
plan to decide upon! Heaven knows I shrink from the extreme one — and
yet — "
"The dead tell no tales," observed Tidkins, in
a low and measured tone.
Adeline shuddered, and made no reply.
She fell back in the chair, and rapidly reviewed in her
mind all the perils and circumstances of her position.
She wished to rid herself of Lydia Hutchinson — for
ever! She was moreover anxious that this object should be effected in a manner
so mysterious and secret that she might not afterwards find herself at the mercy
of the agent whom she employed in her criminal purpose. She had, indeed, already
settled a plan to that effect, ere she called upon Tidkins. During the whole of
the preceding night had she pondered upon that terrible scheme; and so well
digested was it that Lydia might be made away with — murdered, in
fine — and yet Tidkins would never know whom he had thus cut off,
where the deed was accomplished, nor by whom he had been employed. Thus,
according to that project all traces of the crime would disappear, without the
possibility of ever fixing it upon herself.
Now this idea was disturbed by the hint thrown out
relative to imprisonment in a dungeon. Were such a scheme carried into effect,
Tidkins must know who his prisoner was, and by whom he was employed. A hundred
chances might lead to an exposure, or enable Lydia to effect her escape.
Moreover, by adopting this project, Adeline saw that she should be placing
herself at the mercy of a ferocious man, who might become an extortioner, and
perpetually menace her by virtue of the secret that would be in his keeping. She
felt that she should live in constant alarm lest Lydia might effect he, release
by bribery or accident. But chiefly did she reason that she had suffered so much
at the hand of one who was acquainted with a dread secret concerning her, that
she shrank from the idea of so placing herself at the mercy of another.
All these arguments were reviewed by the desperate woman
in far less time than we have occupied in the narration.
But while she was thus wrapped up in her awful reverie,
Tidkins, who guessed to a certain extent what was passing in her mind, sate
silently and patiently awaiting her decision between the two alternatives
proposed — a dungeon or death!
Had he been able to penetrate with a glance through the
folds of that dark veil, he would have beholden a countenance livid white, and
distorted with the fell thoughts which occupied the mind of his visitor: — but
never once during this interview did he obtain a glimpse of her features.
"Mr. Tidkins," at length said Adeline, in a
low tone and with a visible shudder, "my case is so desperate that nothing
but a desperate remedy can meet it. Were you acquainted with all the
particulars, you would see the affair in the same light. Either my enemy must
die — or I must commit suicide! Those are the alternatives."
"Then let your enemy die," returned the
"Yes-yes: it must be so! "exclaimed Adeline,
stifling all feelings of compunction: then taking from beneath her cloak a heavy
bag, she threw it upon the table, the chink of gold sounding most welcome to the
ears of the Resurrection Man. "That bag contains a hundred
sovereigns," she continued: "it is only an earnest of what I will give
if you consent to serve me precisely in the manner which I shall point
"That is a good beginning, at all events,"
said Tidkins, his eyes sparkling with joy beneath their shaggy brows. "Go
on, ma'am — I am ready to obey you."
"My plan is this," continued Adeline, forcing
herself to speak with calmness: — "you will meet me to-night at
the hour and place which I shall presently mention; you will accompany me in a
vehicle some few miles; but you must consent to be blindfolded as long as it
suits my purposes to keep you so: when the deed is accomplished, you shall
receive two hundred sovereigns in addition to the sum now lying before you; and
you will return blindfolded with me to the place where I shall think fit to
leave you. Do you agree to this!"
"I cannot have the least objection, ma'am,"
answered Tidkins, overjoyed at the prospect of obtaining such an important
addition to the ill-gotten gains already hoarded. "Where and when shall I
[-272-] "This evening,
at nine o'clock — at the corner of the Edgeware Road and Oxford
Street," replied Adeline.
"I will be punctual to the minute," said the
Lady Ravensworth then took her departure.
As soon as it was dusk, Tidkins filled a basket with
provisions, and repaired to the subterranean dungeon where the old hag was
"How do you get on!" he demanded, as he placed
the basket upon the table.
"Alack! I have not half completed my task,"
returned the old woman: "my thoughts oppress me — my hand
trembles — and my sight is bad."
"Then you will have to wait in this place a few
hours longer than I expected," said Tidkins. "But that basket contains
the wherewith to cheer you, and you need not expect to see me again until
tomorrow morning, or perhaps to-morrow night. So make yourself comfortable — and
get on with your work. I shall keep my word about the reward — do
you keep yours concerning the true history and the written proofs of Katherine's
"I shall not deceive you — I shall not
deceive you," answered the hag. "Alack! I am too anxious to escape
from this horrible den."
"You may leave it to-morrow night for
certain," returned Tidkins: "at least, it all depends on
He then closed the door, bolted it carefully, and
quitted the subterranean.
While he was engaged in making some little changes in
his toilet ere he sallied forth to his appointment with the veiled lady, he thus
mused upon a project which he had conceived — "I have more than
half a mind to get the Buffer to dog that lady and me, and find out where she
takes me to. And yet if we go far in a vehicle, the Buffer never could follow on
foot; and if he took a cab, it would perhaps be observed and excite their
suspicions. Then she might abandon the thing altogether, and I should lose my
two hundred quids extra. No: — I must trust to circumstances to
obtain a clue to all I want t know — who she is, and where she is
going to take me."
Having thus reasoned against the project which he had
for a moment considered feasible, the Resurrection Man armed himself with a
dagger and pistols, enveloped himself in his cloak, slouched his hat over his
forbidding countenance, and then took his departure,
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
| > next chapter >