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RESULT OF MARKHAM'S ENTERPRISE.
THE reader at all acquainted with German literature may
probably remember some of those old tales of demonology and witchcraft, in which
assemblies of jovial revellers are frequently dismayed and overawed by the
sudden entrance of some mysterious stranger - perhaps a knight in black armour,
with his visor closed, or a monk with his cowl drawn over his countenance. If
the recollection of such an episode in the sphere of romance recur to the
reader's mind, he will have no difficulty in comprehending as when we state
that the presence of the short, thick-set, middle-aged stranger caused an
immediate damp to fall upon the spirits of the company in the Dark-House
The stranger seemed to take no notice of any one present, but
drank his grog, lighted his cigar, and settled himself in his seat, apparently
with the view of making himself very comfortable.
Still there was something sinister and mysterious about this
man, which did not exactly please the other inmates of the room; and as we
cannot suppose that the consciences of these persons were over pure, the least
appearance of ambiguity to them was an instantaneous omen of danger. Like the dog
that scents the corpse of the murdered victim, even when buried deep in the earth, those wretches possessed an instinct
marvellously sensitive and acute in perceiving the approach or presence of peril.
And yet, to a common beholder, there was nothing very
remarkable about that stranger. He was a plain-looking, quiet, shabbily dressed
person, and one who seemed anxious to smoke his cigar in peace, and neither
speak nor be spoken to.
Good reader - it was the reserve of this man, - his staid and
serious demeanour - his tranquil countenance - and his exclusive manner altogether,
that created the unpleasant impression we have described. Had he entered the
room with a swagger, banged the door behind him, sworn at the waiter, or nodded
to one single individual present, he would have produced no embarrassing
sensation whatever. But he was unknown :- what, then, could he do there, where
all were well known to each other?
However, be continued to smoke, with his eyes intently fixed
upon the blueish wreaths that ascended slowly and fantastically from the end of
his cigar; and for five minutes after his entrance not a word was
At length the coal-whipper broke silence.
"Well, my dear," he said, addressing himself to the
unfortunate girl who had already narrated a portion of her adventures, "you
haven't done your story yet."
"Oh! I do not feel in the humour to go on with it
to-night," she exclaimed, glancing uneasily towards the stranger. " Indeed,
I recollect - I have an appointment - close by "
She hesitated; then, apparently mustering up her courage,
cried "Good-night, all," and left the room.
"Who the deuce is that feller, Tony?" demanded the Cracksman, in a whisper, of his companion. "I
can't say I like his appearance at all."
"Oh! nonsense," answered the Resurrection Man "he is some quiet chap that doesn't like to
and talk at the same time."
"But don't it seem as how he'd throwed a damp on the
whole party?" continued the Cracksman, in the same subdued tone.
"Do you take me for a child that s frightened at a
shadow?" said the Resurrection Man savagely. "I suppose you're afraid that this young Holford will play us
false. Why - what could he do to us? Any thing he revealed would only implicate
himself. He knows nothing about our games up by the Bird-cage Walk there."
"I forgot that - no more he doesn't," cried the Cracksman.
"There a nobody can do us any harm, that I know on."
" One - and one only," answered the Resurrection Man,
sinking his already subdued tone to the lowest possible whisper,- "one only, I
say, can injure us; and he will not dare to do it!"
"Who the devil do you mean?" demanded the Cracksman.
"I mean the only man that ever escaped out of the crib
up by the walk after he had received a blow from my stick," answered the
"You don't mean to say, Tony," whispered the
his countenance giving the most unequivocal signs of alarm, " that there's
a breathing soul which ever went in the door of that crib an intended wictim,
and come out alive agin!"
Never do you mind now. We shall make all the people stare at us if we go on
whispering in this way. Supposing any one did mean to nose upon its haven't we
got our barkers in our pocket?"
[-206-] "Ah! Tony," said the
Cracksman, in whose mind these
words of his companion seemed to arouse a sudden and most disagreeable idea,-
"talking about nosing makes use remember someot that I was told a few days ago up
in Rat's Castle in the Rookery."
"And what was that?" asked the Resurrection Man
friend with his serpent-like eyes in a manner that made him actually quail
beneath the glance.
"What was it?" repeated the Crackaman, who appeared to
hesitate whether he should proceed, or not: "why - I heard a magsman say that
you nosed upon poor Crankey Jem, and that was the reason he got lagged and you
was acquitted three year ago at the Old Bailey."
"And what did you say to that?" demanded the Resurrection Man, looking from beneath his bushy
brows at the Cracksman, as
the ghole in eastern mythology may be supposed to gaze on the countenance of him
whom he marks for his victim.
"What did I say?" answered the Cracksman in s hoarse
whisper: "why - I knocked the fellow down to be sure."
"And you did what you ought to do, and what I should have done
if any one had told me that of you," said the Resurrection Man in a lone of the
moat perfect composure.
While this conversation took place, hurriedly and in
whispers, the mysterious stranger continued to smoke his cigar without once
glancing around him; and the other inmates of the Dark-House parlour, recovering
a little from their panic at the entrance of that individual, made a faint
attempt to renew the discourse.
But although the eyes of the stranger were apparently occupied in watching
the wreaths of smoke, as they curled upwards to the ceiling, they were in
reality intent upon the parlour window, the lower part of which alone was
darkened by the sliding shutter that lifted up and down. There was a bright lamp
over the front door of the public-house; and thus the heads of all the
passengers in the street might be descried, as they passed the window, by the
inmates of the parlour.
"I say, Ben," exclaimed one reveller to another,
"have you heerd
that they're a goin' to lay out a park up by Bonner's Road and Hackney Wick?"
Yes - the Wictora Park," was the reply. "On'y fancy giving them
poor devils of Spitalfields weavers a park to walk in instead o' filling their
bellies. But I spose they'll make a preshus deep pond in it."
"What for?" demanded the first speaker.
"Why - for the poor creturs to drown their selves in,
to be sure."
At this moment the countenance of a man in the street peered
for a single instant over the shutter, and was then immediately withdrawn; but
not before a significant glance had been exchanged with the stranger sitting in
the neighbourhood of the door.
All this, however, remained entirely unnoticed by the male
and female revellers in the parlour.
"Well, it's gone nine," whispered the Cracksman to his
companion, " and this fellow Holford don't come. It's my opinion he ain't
"We'll give him half an hour's grace," returned he Resurrection
Man. "The young fool is hard up, and won't let the hope of five couters
slip through his brain quite so easy."
" Half an hour's grace, as you say, Tony," whispered the
Cracksman; "and then if he don't come we'll be off - eh?"
"Oh! just as you like," growled the Resurrection Man.
"You seem quite chicken-hearted tonight, Tom."
"I don't know how it is," answered the Cracksman;
"but I've got a persentiment - as they calls it - of evil. The sight of that
there feller there " and he nodded towards the stranger.
"Humbug!" interrupted the Resurrection Man. "you
haven't had grog enough - that's it."
He accordingly ordered the waiter to supply fresh tumblers of
hot liquor; and the next half hour slipped away rapidly enough; but no Henry
Hqlford made his appearance.
At a quarter to ten the two villains rose, and, having
settled their score, departed.
Scarcely had the parlour door closed behind them, when the
short thick-set stranger also retreated precipitately from the room.
Disappointed and in an ill-humour, the Resurrection Man and
the Cracksman hurried away from the Dark-House towards the den situate in the
immediate vicinity of the Bird-cage Walk.
The streets were ankle-deep in mud: a thin mizzling rain was
falling; and neither moon nor stars appeared upon the dark and murky field of
The two men walked one a little in advance of the other,
until they reached the top of Brick Lane, where they separated for the purpose
of proceeding by different routes towards the same point - a precaution they
invariably adopted after quitting any public place in each other's company.
But so well were the arrangements of the police concocted,
that while the Resurrection Man, continued his way along Tyssen Street, and the
Cracksman turned to the right in Church Street until he reached Samuel Street,
up which he proceeded, an active officer followed each: while in the
neighbourhood of Virginia Street and the Bird-cage Walk numerous policemen were
concealed in dark alleys, lone courts, and obscure nooks, ready to hasten to any
point whence the spring of rattles might presently emanate."
Also concealed in a convenient hiding-place, and anxiously
awaiting the result of the various combinations effected to discover the den of
the murderers, Richard Markham was prepared to aid in the operations of the
Meantime, the Resurrection Man pursued one route, and the
Cracksman another, both converging towards the same point; but neither
individual suspected that danger was on every side! They advanced as
confidently as the flies that work their way amidst the tangled web of the
At length the Resurrection Man reached his house; and almost
at the same moment the other ruffian arrived at the door.
"All right, Tom."
"All right, Tony."
And the Resurrection Man opened the door, he simply pressing
his foot forcibly against it in a peculiar manner.
He entered the passage, followed by the Cracks man, which
latter individual turned to close the door, when it was burst wide open and
half a dozen policemen rushed into the house.
"Damnation!" cried the Resurrection Man; "we are
sold!"- and, darting down the passage, he rushed into the little back room, the
door of which he succeeded in closing and fastening against the officers.
But the Cracksman had fallen into the hands of the police,
and was immediately secured. Rattles were sprung; and the sudden and unexpected
din, breaking upon the solemn silence of the place and hour, startled the poor
and the guilty in their wretched abodes.
[-207-] " Break open the door there!" cried the serjeant
who commanded the police, and who was no other than the mysterious stranger of
the Dark-House parlour: "break open that door - and two of you run up stairs
As he spoke, a strong light shone from the top of the
staircase. The officers cast their eyes in that direction, and beheld a hideous
old woman scowling down upon them. In her hand she carried a candle, the light
of which was thrown forward in a vivid flood by the reflection of a large bright
This horrible old woman was the Mummy.
Already were two of the officers half-way up the staircase, -
already was the door of the back room on the ground floor yielding to
the strength of a constable, - already were Richard Markham and several officers
hurrying down the street towards the spot, obedient to the signal conveyed by
the springing of the rattles, - when a terrific explosion took place.
"Good God!" ejaculated Markham: "what can that mean?"
"There - there!" cried a policeman near him: "it is all over with the serjeant and my poor comrades!"
Immediately after the explosion, and while Markham and the
officer were yet speaking, a bright column of fire shot up into the air :-
and millions of sparks, glistening vividly, showered down upon the scene of
havoc ; - for a moment - a single moment - the very heavens seemed on fire ;-then all
was black - and silent - and doubly sombre.
The den of the assassins had ceased to exist: it had been
destroyed by gunpowder.
The blackened remains and dismembered relics of mortality
were discovered on the following morning amongst the ruins, or in the immediate
neighbourhood ;- but it was impossible to ascertain how many persons had perished
on this dread occasion.
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