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[-345-] 

CHAPTER CCXXXIX.

THE RESURRECTION MAN'S RETURN HOME.

    As the Resurrection Man hurried through the fields, amidst the darkness of the night, he vented in horrible imprecations the rage he experienced at the failure of a scheme to which he had devoted so much time and trouble.
    He knew that the blank acceptance which he had extorted from Vernon, and which he had looked upon as the safe guarantee of the speedy acquisition of three thousand pounds, was now but a valueless slip of paper; and he cursed himself for having been foolish enough to advance some two or three hundred guineas of his own money to furnish his late employer with the supplies necessary for his purposes.
    But as a set-off against these disappointments he had one consolation  a consolation which to a less avaricious mind would have been more than commensurate with the losses that Tidkins deplored. He was possessed of Lady Ravensworth's valuable casket of jewels, which he had removed a few days [-346-] after he had obtained it in the manner already described, to his house in Globe Town.
    And it was to this den that he was now repairing. He was as yet unacquainted with the fate of Gilbert Vernon; but, supposing it probable that justice might already have that individual in his grasp, he at once determined to provide for his own safety. Abandoning, therefore, all his long-nourished schemes of vengeance against the Prince of Montoni, the Rattlesnake, and Crankey Jem, Tidkins was now intent only on securing his treasure, and taking his departure for America with the least possible delay.
    It was about two o' clock in the morning when the Resurrection Man, sinking with the fatigues of his long and circuitous journey round all the northern outskirts of London, arrived at his own house.
    Wearied as he was, he wasted no time in snatching a temporary repose: a glass of spirits recruited his strength and invigorated his energies; and, with his bunch of keys in his hand, he repaired from his own chamber to the rooms on the ground-floor.
    It will be remembered that on a former occasion  on his return home, in the middle of the month of March, after his escape from the Middlesex House of Correction,  the Resurrection Man had perceived certain indications which led him to imagine that the step of an intruder had visited the ground-floor and the subterranean part of his house. His suspicions had fallen upon Banks; but an interview with this individual convinced him that those suspicions were unfounded; for although he did not question him point-blank upon the subject, yet his penetration was such, that he could judge of the real truth by the undertaker's manner.
    Since that period Tidkins had visited his house in Globe Town on several occasions  indeed, as often as he could possibly get away from Ravensworth Hall for the greater portion of a day; and, perceiving no farther indications of the intrusion of a stranger, he became confirmed in the belief which had succeeded his first suspicions, and which was that he had been influenced by groundless alarms.
    But now, the moment he put the key into the lock of the door in the alley, he uttered a terrible imprecation  for the key would not turn, and there was evidently something in the lock!
    Hastily picking the lock with one of those wire-instruments which are used for the purpose by burglars, he extracted from it a piece of a key which had broken in the wards.
    Fearful was now the rage of the Resurrection Man; and when he had succeeded in opening the door, he precipitated himself madly into that department of his abode.
    But what pen can describe his savage fury, when, upon lighting a lantern, he saw the trap raised, and the brick removed from the place in the chimney where it covered the secret means of raising the hearth-stone?
    Plunging desperately down into the subterranean, at the risk of breaking his neck, Tidkins felt like one on whose eyes a hideous spectre suddenly bursts, when he beheld the door of a cell  the very cell in which his treasure was concealed  standing wide open!
    Staggering now, as a drunken man  and no longer rushing wildly along,  but dragging himself painfully,  Tidkins reached that cell.
    His worst fears were confirmed: the stone in the centre was removed from its place;  and his treasure was gone!
    Yes:  money-bags and jewel-casket  the produce of heaven only knows how much atrocity and blackest crime  had disappeared.
    This was the second time that his hoarded wealth was snatched from him.
    Then did that man  so energetic in the ways of turpitude, so strong in the stormy paths of guilt,  then did he sink down, with a hollow groan, upon the cold floor of the cell.
    For a few minutes he lay like one deprived of sense and feeling, the only indications of life being the violent clenching of his fists, and the demoniac workings of his cadaverous countenance.
    Cadaverous!  never did the face of a wretched being in the agonies of strangulation by hanging, present so appalling  so hideous an appearance!
    But in a short time the Resurrection Man started up with a savage howl and a terrible imprecation: his energies  prostrated for a period  revived; and his first idea, when arousing from that torpor, was vengeance  a fearful vengeance upon the plunderer.
    But who was that plunderer? whose hand had suddenly beggared him!
    His suspicions instantly fixed themselves upon two persons  the only two of his accomplices who were acquainted with the mysteries of the subterranean.
    These were Banks and the Buffer.
    He was about to turn from the cell, and repair forthwith  even at that hour  to the dwelling of the undertaker, when his eyes suddenly fell upon. some letters scrawled in chalk upon the pavement, and which the position of the lantern had hitherto prevented him from observing.
    He stooped down, and read the words-"JAMES CUFFIN."
    The mystery was solved: his mortal enemy, Crankey Jem, had robbed him of his treasure!
    Dark  terribly ominous and foreboding  was now the cloud which overspread the countenance of the Resurrection Man.
    "Had I ten times the wealth I have lost," he muttered to himself, with a hyena-like growl, "I would not quit this country till I had wreaked my vengeance upon that man! But this is now no place for me: he has tracked me here  he may set the traps upon me. Let us see if the Bully Grand cannot discover his lurking hole."
    With these words,  and now displaying that outward calmness which often covers the most intensely concentrated rage,  the Resurrection Mat quitted the subterranean, carefully securing the doors behind him.
    He purposely broke a key in the lock of the door leading into the dark alley, so as to prevent the intrusion of any of the neighbours, should their curiosity tempt them to visit the place; for he made up his mind not to return thither again so long as Jem Cuffin was alive and able to betray him.
    Having provided himself with a few necessaries, he closed the up-stairs rooms, and. then took his departure.
    He bent his steps towards the house of the undertaker in Globe Lane; and, knocking him up, obtained admittance and a bed.
    When he awoke from a sound sleep, into which sheer fatigue plunged him in spite of the unpleasant nature of his thoughts, it was broad-daylight.
    [-347-] He immediately rose and despatched one of Banks's boys for the morning newspaper; and from its columns he learnt the fate of the Honourable Gilbert Vernon.
    "Better so than that he should have remained alive perhaps to repent, as these sentimental humbugs in high life usually do, and then blab against me," murmured Tidkins to himself. "The whole business at the Hall is evidently wrapped in considerable mystery; and there I hope it will remain. But now let me devote myself heart and soul to my search after that scoundrel Crankey Jem."

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