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with him; while in her master's chamber no portion of clothing was discovered that could have belonged to the dead man.
Thus closed the first evidence, to which such undivided attention was paid by the jury and the crowd of bystanders, that the peculiar and intense interest Mr. Parr took in every word uttered by the woman escaped remark. With his chin resting on his hands, which were supported by his gold.headed cane, he never permitted his eyes to wander from the face of the witness till she had ceased speaking. He then groaned audibly, shook his head, and leant back in his chair, saying, in a deliberate but whispered tone, “This is past my comprehension.
Mr. Greene looked in the direction of the old juror, and sneeringly remarked to several of the youngest men near him, that elderly people ought to know when they were past work, and then proceeded to call the farmer mentioned in the evidence of Sarah Hodge. From this witness nothing more could be elicited than a corroboration of the find. ing of the body of the dead man on the bed, and the unaccountable fact that, on searching the apartment, no wearing apparel could be disco. vered as having belonged to the deceased. Lastly, the constable who arrested Mr. Morton was sworn, and stated that his prisoner, from the moment the charge was made against him of being privy or accessary to the death of the stranger in his house, had refused io answer any question put to him. In short, from the depositions of the two last witnesses, it appeared that the bearing of the accused was cold, haughty, and collected, as though he either felt conscious of his innocence, or was prepared for the worst; the housekeeper, Sarah Hodge, alone having perceived in him any agitation.
The time, however, had now arrived when it was necessary that any evidence which Mr. Morton might have to offer should be heard. Scarcely ten hours had elapsed since his apprehension; for the event which caused it had occurred the preceding night. He was then in custody of two constables in an adjoining apartment, a door communi. cating with which being thrown open, he was summoned to appear. Every eye in the room was strained towards the opening. So great was the excitement, that several of the jury rose, in spite of Mr. Greene's authoritative “ Keep your seats, gentlemen; no confusion. Const will you command silence among the people there, or I shall order the room to be cleared ?” Mr. Parr, who had resumed his former position, his venerable head resting on his cane, convulsively grasped the strong support, which trembled under the influence of his agitation as the prisoner entered. Mr. Morton was habited in deep mourning, with a scrupulous regard to neatness. His features, which were of a Grecian cast, might hare been handsome, but for their haggardness. His head was nearly bald, the forehead low, and squarely formed.
Al. together, the appearance of the prisoner was such, that even had he not come there under the existing extraordinary circumstances, it must have commanded attention from the most superficial observer.
After cautioning Mr. Morton not to commit himself, the coroner inquired if he had anything he wished to communicate in the present state of the proceedings ? But the eye of the accused met not the peering regard of Mr. Greene; it had rested for a moment on the linen cloth which hid the body, and the long-drawn breath which followed evidently showed the relief Mr. Morton experienced in being spared the more painful sight of the stark and hideous corpse. Again he looked around the coroner was speaking—the prisoner heard him not. Mr.
Parr had risen from his seat; the old man trembled in every limb. He fixed his gaze on the supposed murderer-their eyes met. Mr. Greene followed the direction of Mr. Morton's wild look of recogni. tion; but, not being the most acute of coroners, he saw nothing very par ticular in it. Mr. Parr had fallen down in a fit, and this he imagined had called the prisoner's attention.
“ I thought it would be so !” he exclaimed. “ Too bad, too bad, interrupting business in this way. However much I may respect Mr. Parr in private life, this is the last time I shall ever allow him to be summoned on a jury. He is too old for the work.” Then turning to the accused, who, whatever might be his sensations at the sight of the juror, had apparently recovered his self-possession, for his large dark eyes rested quietly on the speaker,—Mr. Greene said, “ We will hear anything you may have to offer in explanation of the part you may have taken in this matter another time.” Mr. Morton bowed, and the coroner, looking round on the jurymen, remarked, “ It will be neces. sary to subject the body to medical examination, so the inquest must at all events have been adjourned, had not this interruption occurred. To-morrow, gentlemen, at the same hour, if you please. The prisoner will of course remain in custody, with liberty to communicate with his friends, they not being witnesses as to the question touching the death of the deceased.”
The inquest was adjourned, and Mr. Morton being conducted to an upper room of the inn, the door of which a constable strictly guarded, was left to commune with his own heart, and ponder over the events of the last twelve hours.
Mr. Parr in the mean time had been conveyed home to his own house. He had long been a widower ; but, his nephew and niece resided with him, and paid him the attention of a son and daughter. His second indisposition was, like the first, only a fainting fit, and to. wards evening he was quite recovered. His energy of mind seemed also to have rallied, and he expressed his intention of visiting the prisoner at the Crown Inn. On his nephew representing to him that it might be imprudent to risk further excitement, which, from physical debility, he was unable to bear, the old man said,
“I am determined to go. I understand Mr. Greene has struck my name out of the list of jurymen, and I shall appear no more in this extraordinary case; but I have reasons of my own for feeling interested in it. You need not mention what I am now saying. One day I may be more explicit on the subject; but before I sleep I must have speech with him they call the poisoner of yon horrid corpse."
Mr. Parr shuddered as he concluded this short expostulation with his nephew, who, fearing to distress him by further opposition, yielded the point, and, carefully wrapped up by his niece, the old gentleman proceeded to the Crown, which was situated in the next street.
Mr. Parr had prepared a note for the prisoner. On this being deli. vered, an answer was returned that Mr. Morton would see him.
“ You are the only person that he has allowed to come nigh him except the constables, and those he could not keep away," said the landlord of the inn. “ To Mr. Vellum, the attorney, who wanted to be his lawyer, he sent word that he did not stand in need of his advice. Then there's Sarah Hodge, his housekeeper, who, now she has had time to think a bit, is very sorry she was in such a mortal hurry to charge her master with being a murderer, and he so kind-hearted too
as she said, who would not hurt a fly. Sarah wanted to beg his par. don; but Mr. Morton sent her word by one of the constables, that though he could not see her, she should not be without her wages. He's a generous gentleman, and has ordered the two men that keep watch on him to call for what they like. I don't believe he poisoned the man at all,” concluded Boniface, on whose opinion this liberality for the good of the house was working a visible change, as he conducted the old juror to the door of the prisoner's room. Here he was made over to the charge of a constable, who ushered him into the presence of the individual he sought.
“ You are welcome,” said Mr. Morton, after having for a moment silently regarded the countenance of his visiter. He waved his hand to the constable, who, placing a chair for Mr. Parr, withdrew.
“You remember me, then," replied the juror. “Perhaps you saw me this morning, and expected that I should seek you.”.
“ I saw you-remembered you I felt that you would come to me,” exclaimed the prisoner in a hollow tone. " There are dispensations of an angry and avenging Providence which must have a record, or many a fearful warning would be lost. Need I tell you that the present is one of these?”
“You have much to tell me,” answered Mr. Parr, "if I am to understand that which I beheld this morning. I tremble now to think of it. An event of a quarter of a century ago seemed again enacted before my eyes. It appeared to me that
It appeared to me that I once more looked on the corpse of my friend and of your brother. I tried to think it was but a vision, fancy such as the mind is sometimes betrayed into when we imagine that we have ere now been participators in the scene around us. I returned to the room I had left; the sheet was then over the corpse,—I might have been mistaken,--but I beheld you, changed, yet still"
“A living judgment !" interrupted the prisoner. “It is but right you should be informed how—why you may perchance guess."
With a calmness of manner that was almost appalling to Mr. Parr, who could not but suspect the storm that raged within the breast of the wretched man, he now rose from the seat, which he had not quitted on the entrance of his visiter, and placed a bottle of wine and glasses on the table. He again threw himself into his chair, and confronted the old juror, who, having watched his proceedings, at length said,
“I want no refreshment, Mr. Morton, if so it please you to be called. My only thirst is for information as to the sight of 10-day in connection with the past, when you bore another and, to me, a more familiar name.”
“What is thy thirst to me?” hoarsely cried the prisoner, while in an instant a hideous smile, that was “not of mirth,” lighted up his thin face. “ I can drink! Yes!-to-day the goblet comes not from the hands of the dead--and to-day I may drink the wine to the dregs, nor see it bubble again to the brim of the cup, that the pale blue lips of the murdered may quaff!"
Morton poured wine into a large glass, and drank it off. When he replaced the tumbler on the table his countenance had lost the gleam of unnatural excitement which had so strangely illumined it.
“ You may pledge me safely,” he remarked, laying particular em. phasis on the word “safely.” Mr. Parr bowed, and would have an. swered ; but, in a tone which admitted not of reply, the prisoner con
tinued, “ You came not here to bandy compliments with me-drink or not, as it pleases you. There is mercy in Heaven-I can drink.”
As he uttered ihis last extraordinary expression, it occurred to Mr. Parr, prepared as he was for the excitement of the interview he had sought, that he might have possibly put himself in the power of a maniac. He was in another instant reassured by Morton, who, clasping his head between his two emaciated hands, as though to still the rocking of his brain, exclaimed,
"Forgive me--forgive me, my dear sir! I will be collected, and I will tell you all you wish to know, but not now. Do not be alarmed if I talk wildly ; it is not madness, but sane-sane agony. I may inform you of things hard to believe, but doubt them not. What saw you this morning ? What now lies in the room beneath us? Do not be afraid
To-morrow I will give myself up to justice—will that satisfy you ? Now leave me. Before I die I will place in your hands a tale of horror, which you must not read till after my death. You may call it the ravings of madness; but it has been to me all too true.”
The prisoner became suddenly silent. He buried his face in his hands, and bowed his head on the table. Mr. Parr again addressed him, expressing a wish not to be considered in the light of an enemy who sought his destruction, but as a friend, who, let his guilt be what it might, would willingly serve bim. Mr. Morton answered not but by a convulsive laugh; he waved his hand impatiently, but looked not up; and his visiter was constrained, in courtesy to the wretchedness he could not alleviate, to quit the apartment.
The next day Mr. Parr was too unwell to attend the inquest even as a spectator, but his nephew brought him the information that Mr. Mor. ton had declared himself the murderer of the deceased; but had not offered any explanation as to who his victim was, or any particulars respecting the cause of his crime. The body had undergone surgical ex. amination, and the action of a violent poison on the brain and intestines was evident, but the exact nature of this active agent of death not all the medical men within twenty miles of the town could discover. The servant, James, had not yet returned—the time for which he had leave to absent himself not having expired. Nothing further was likely to be elicited by protracting the inquest, and it was accordingly brought to a close, Mr. Morton being committed by the coroner's warrant to the county gaol, to await his trial for the murder of a person unknown.
It so happened that in the whole case there was not any magisterial examination, the local magistrates being in London, deeply interested in a question connected with the franchise of the borough; and the only other law-dispenser of the neighbourhood, the vicar of the parish, being dangerously ill.
Before Mr. Morton was rernoved to the county-prison, he directed that the body of the murdered man should be buried by torch-light, and a most expensive funeral, the cost of which was liberally defrayed by the supposed murderer, gathered together a crowd of spectators, such as never before assembled in the churchyard of — Curiosity was at its utmost stretch to discover who the deceased person was, and whether he had been introduced alive or dead into Mr. Morton's house; but no further light was thrown on the matter. The time had come and passed when, according to the housekeeper's statement, James, the manservant, ought to have returned; but he had not made his appearance, though every means of procuring his evidence by advertisements in the
papers, and posting-bills distributed throughout the country, were duly tried. In spite of Sarah Hodge's testimony that the deceased was in many respects unlike her fellow-servant, not a few of the gossips of the town believed that James was the murdered man; but how were they to account for the pains his murderer must have taken to disguise the body? Other busy tongues said that James must have been an acces. sary in the crime committed by his master, and had, therefore, kept out
of the way
At length the assize time arrived. The day was fixed for Mr. Morton's trial, when it was hoped this extraordinary criminal would make full confession. His behaviour in prison had been marked by the most profound melancholy. He held little communion with any one, the medi. cal attendant, and the chaplain of the gaol excepted; the former of these officials gave it as his opinion that the prisoner was sinking fast, and that even if he escaped the penalty of the law, his death would speedily ensue ; the latter, as a physician of the soul, found his cares equally unavailing. Mr. Morton treated him with courtesy, but ever refused to join him in religious exercises, and shunned all mention, either in justification or repentance, of his crime.
Old Mr. Parr who had kept all he knew respecting the accused scrupulously locked in his own bosom, repaired to the assize town, to be at hand in case Mr. Morton might at any time recollect his promise to him, and require his attendance. He had written to the prisoner, and was much disappointed that no answer had been returned, even up to the morning of the day fixed for the trial. At seven o'clock that morning Mr. Morton was found dead in his bed. The prisoner had passed from the finite judgment of man to the dread tribunal of an un. seen world. Never was public curiosity so completely baffled. The day of trial had come, but the accused was even as his supposed victim -dead, and his secret had died with him.
It was towards noon of the day marked by this last event that, as Mr. Parr was on the point of returning to H he was waited on by the chaplain of the gaol. Mr. Morton had not forgotten his promise to the old merchant, having placed in the safe custody of the reverend gentleman the strange document which we now lay before our readers. “ Richard Merville now called Morton, to Charles Parr, gentleman,
late merchant of Liverpool. “ I know not why I should feel a satisfaction in revealing my un. natural crime, and its terrible consequences; but for a reason which, if I recollect rightly, influenced my promise to you when we last metmet, after a lapse of many years, when my career was nearly endedas if it were ordained that so awful a judgment might not be without record. I feel that I have almost done with time. This pulse beats feebly the last throbs of existence. Let me, then, at once lay bare the ulcer of my soul. I have not to tell you who I was when you knew me in Liverpool, where, perhaps, you envied my happy position. My father was rich, and I was indulged as few sons have been. Car. riages, horses, money, all at my command; but I expended, not en. joyed. I had a burning discontent at my heart; my twin-brotherhe who was born but some few minutes before I had" looked upon the light-my father, in the pride of his heart, had resolved to make his principal heir. We were his only children, for our birth had caused