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[-69-]

CHAPTER XXVII.

THE REPUBLICAN AND THE THE RESURRECTION MAN.

     As Richard was walking up and down the yard, an hour or two after his interview with Mr. Monroe, he was attracted by the venerable appearance of an elderly gentleman who was also parading that dismal place to and fro.
    This individual was attired in a complete suit of black; and his pale countenance, and long grey hair flowing aver his coat-collar, were rendered the more remarkable by the mournful nature of his garb. He stooped considerably in his gait, and walked with his hands joined together behind him. His eyes were cast upon the ground; and his meditations appeared to be of a profound and soul-absorbing nature.
    Markham immediately experienced a strange curiosity to become acquainted with this individual, and to ascertain the cause of his imprisonment. He did not, however, choose to interrupt that venerable man's reverie. Accident presently favoured his wishes, and placed within his reach the means or introduction to the object of his curiosity. The old gentleman changed his line of walk in the spacious yard, and tripped over a loose flagstone. His head came suddenly in contact with the ground. Richard hastened to raise him up, and conducted him to a bench. The old gentleman was very grateful for these attentions; and, when he was recovered from the effects of his fall, he surveyed Markham with the utmost interest.
    "What circumstance has thrown you into this vile den?" he inquired, in a pleasant tone of voice.
    Richard instantly related, from beginning to end, those particulars with which the reader is already acquainted.
    The old man remained silent for some minute., and then fixed his eyes upon Markham in a manner that seemed intended to read the secrets of his soul.
    Richard did not quail beneath that eagle glance; but a deep blush suffused his countenance.
    "I believe you, my boy  -I believe every word you have uttered," suddenly exclaimed the stranger - "you are the victim of circumstances; and deeply do I commiserate your situation.
    "I thank you sincerely - most sincerely for your good opinion, said Richard. "And now, permit me to ask you what has plunged you into a gaol? No crime, I feel convinced before you speak!"
    Never judge hastily, young man," returned the old gentleman. "My conviction of your innocence was principally established by the very circumstance which would have led others to pronounce in favour of your guilt. You blushed - deeply blushed, but it was not the glow of shame: it was the honest flush of conscious integrity unjustly suspected. Now with regard to myself, I know why you imagine me to be innocent of any crime; but, remember that a mild, peaceable, and venerable exterior frequently covers a heart eaten up with every evil passion, and a soul stained with every crime. You were, however, right in your conjecture relative to myself. I am a person accused of a political offence - a libel upon the government, in a journal of considerable influence which I conduct. I shall be tried next session my sentence; [-70-] will not be severe, perhaps; but it will not be the less unjust. I am the friend of my fellow countrymen and my fellow-creatures: the upright and the enlightened denominate me a philanthropist my enemies denounce me as a disturber of the public peace, a seditious agitator, and a visionary. You have undoubtedly heard of Thomas Armstrong?"
    "I have not only heard of you, sir," said Richard, surveying the great Republican writer with profound admiration and respect, "but I have read your works and your essays with pleasure and interest."
    "In certain quarters," continued Armstrong, "I am represented as a character who ought to be loathed and shunned by all virtuous and honest people, - that I am a moral pestilence, - a social plague; and that my writings are only deserving of being burnt by the bands of the common hangman. The organs of the rich and aristocratic classes, level every species of coarse invective against me. And yet, O God!" he added enthusiastically, " I only strive to arouse the grovelling spirit of the industrious millions to a sense of the wrongs under which they labour, and to prove to them that they were not sent into this world to lick the dust beneath the feet of majesty and aristocracy! "
    "Do you not think," asked Richard, timidly, "that you are somewhat in advance of the age? Do you not imagine that a republic would be dangerously premature?"
    "My dear youth, let us not discuss this matter in  a den where all our ideas are concentrated in the focus formed by our misfortunes. Let me rather assist you with my advice upon the mode of conduct you should preserve in this prison, so that you may not become too familiar with the common herd, nor offend by being too distant."
    Mr. Armstrong then proffered his counsel upon this point.
    "I feel deeply indebted to you for your kindness," exclaimed Markham: "very - very grateful! "
    "Grateful!" cried the old man, somewhat bitterly. "Oh! how I dislike that word! The enemies who persecute me now, are those who have received the greatest favours from me. But there is one - one whose treachery and base ingratitude I never can forget - although I can forgive him? Almost four years ago, I accidently learnt that a young man of pleasing appearance, genteel manners, and good acquirements, was in a state of the deepest distress, in an obscure lodging in Hoxton Old Town, I called upon him: the account which had reached my ears was too true. He was bordering upon starvation, and - although he assured me that he had relations and friends moving in a wealthy sphere - he declared that particular reasons, which he implored me not to dive into, compelled him to refrain from addressing them. I relieved his necessities; I gave him money and procured him clothes. I then took him as my private secretary, and soon put the greatest confidence in him. Alas! how was I recompensed? He betrayed all my political secrets to the government: he literally sold me! At length absconded, taking with him a considerable sum of money, which be abstracted from my desk."
    "How despicable!" ejaculated Richard.
    "That is not all. I met him afterwards, and forgave him! " said Armstrong.
    "Ah! you possess, sir, a noble heart," cried Richard: " I hope that this misguided young man gave sincere proofs of repentance!"
   
"Oh! he was very grateful!" ejaculated Mr. Armstrong, with a satirical smile: " when he heard that there was a warrant issued for my apprehension upon a charge of libel on the government, he secretly instructed the officers relative to my private haunts and thus sold me again!"
    "The villain !" cried Markham, with unfeigined indignation. "Tell me his name, that I may avoid him as I would a poisonous viper!"
    "His name is George Montague," returned Mr Armstrong.
    "George Montague!" cried Richard.
    "Do you know him? have you heard of him before? If you happen to be aware of his present abode —"
    "You would send and have han arrested for the robbery of the money in your desk ?"
    " No - write and assure him of my forgiveness once more," replied the noble-hearted republican. "But how came you acquainted with his name ?" 
    "I have heard of that young man before, but not in a way to do him honour. A tale of robbery and seduction - of heartless cruelty and vile deceit - has been communicated to me relative to this George Montague. Can you forgive such a wretch as he is?"
    "From the bottom of my heart," answered the republican.
    Markham gazed upon that venerable gentleman with profound respect. He remembered to have seen the daily Tory newspapers denounce that same old man as "an unprincipled agitator -  the enemy of his country - the foe to morality - a political ruffian - a bloody-minded votary of Robespierre and Danton :"  - and he now beard the sweetest and holiest sentiment of Christian morality emanate from the lips of him who had thus been fearfully represented. And that sentiment was uttered without affectation, but with unequivocal sincerity!
    For a moment, Richard forgot his own sorrows and misfortunes, as he contemplated the benign and holy countenance of him whom a certain class loved to depict as a demon incarnate!
    The old man did not notice the interest which he had thus excited, for he had himself fallen into a profound reverie.
    Presently the conversation was resumed; and the more that Markham saw of the Republican, the more did he respect and admire him.
    In the course of the afternoon, Markham was accosted by one of his fellow-prisoners, who beckoned him aside in a somewhat mysterious manner. This individual was a very short, thin, cadaverous looking man, with coal-black hair and whiskers, and dark piercing eyes half concealed beneath shaggy brows of the deepest jet. He was apparently about five and thirty years of age. His countenance was down cast; and when he spoke, he seemed as if he could not support the glance of the person whom he addressed. He was dressed in a seedy suit of black, and wore an oil-skin cap with a large shade.
    This person, who was very reserved and retired in his habits, and seldom associated with his fellow-prisoners, drew Markham aside, and said, "I've taken a liberty with your name; but I know you won't mind it. In a place like this we must help and assist each other."
    "And in what way —" began Markham.
    "Oh! nothing very important; only it's just as well to tell you in case the turnkey says a word about it. The fact is, I haven't half enough to eat with this infernal gruel and soup that they give those who, like me are forced to take the gaol allowance, [-71-] and my old mother - who is known by the name of the Mummy - has promised to send me in presently a jolly good quartern loaf and three or four pound of Dutch cheese."
    "But I thought that those who took the gaol allowance were not permitted to receive, any food from outside?" said Markham.
    "That's the very thing," said the man: "so I have told the Mummy to direct the parcel to you, as I know that you grub yourself at your own cost."
    "So long as it does not involve me —"
    "No - not in the least, my good fellow," interrupted the other. "And, in return," he added, after a moment's pause, "if I can ever do you a service, outside or in, you may reckon upon the Resurrection man."
    The Resurrection Man!" ejaculated Richard, appalled, in spite of himself, at this ominous title.
    "Yes - that's my name and profession," said the man. "My godfathers and godmothers called me Anthony, and my parents had previously blessed me with the honourable appellation of Tidkins: so you may know me as Anthony Tidkins, the Resurrection Man."
    "And are you really —" began Richard, with a partial shudder; "are you really a —"
    "A body-snatcher ?" cried Anthony; "of course I am - when there's any work to be done; and when there isn't, then I do a little in another line."
    "And what may that be?" demanded Markham.
    This time the Resurrection Man did look his interlocutor full in the face; but it was only for a moment; and he again averted his glance in a sinister manner, as he jerked his thumb towards the wall of the yard, and exclaimed, "Crankey Jem on t'other side will tell you if, you ask him. They would not put us together: no - no," he added, with a species of chuckle; "they know a trick worth two of that. We shall both be tried together: fifteen years for him - freedom for me! That's the way to do it."
    With these words the Resurrection Man turned upon his heels, and walked away to the farther end of the yard.
    We shall now take leave of Markham for the present: when we again call the reader's attention to his case, we shall find him standing in the dock of the Central Criminal Court, to take him trial upon the grave accusation of passing forged notes.

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