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“ Yes, he did; and it's known all over the Hospital.”
“Well," replied Spicer," he may have said so; but I think I ought to know best how I feel. He'll be herg in half an hour or so, and then I'll put the question to him. I'm a little tired, Jack, so don't speak to mo any more just now.”
“ Shall I go away, Spicer ?"
“No, no, stay here. There's a book or two; read them till I feel a little stronger.”
That my communication had had an effect upon Spicer was evident. He was startled at the idea of the near approach of death, which he had not contemplated. Alas! who is not? He shut his eyes, and I watched him; the perspiration trickled down his forehead. I took up the book he had pointed out to me; it was the History of the Buccaneers, with plates; and I thought then that it was a parallel of Spicer's own
I looked at the plates, for I was not much inclined to read. In a few minutes Spicer opened his eyes. “I am better now, Jack; the faintness has passed away. What book is that?-oh, the Buccaneers. That and Dampier's Voyages were the only two books of my father's library that I ever thought worth reading. Have you ever read it ?”
“No,” replied I, “I never havc. Will you lend it to me?”
“Yes; I'll give it to you, Jack, if you like."
" Thank you. Was your father a sailor, Spicer, as well as you ?"
“Yes, Jack, a sailor every inch of him.”
Here the doctor, who was going round tho wards, came up to Spicer, and asked him how he felt.“ Pretty well, Doctor,” said he.
Come, we must look at your leg, my man; it will require dressing. Is it very painful ?"
“Why, yes, sir : it has been very painful, indeed, all night."
The Hospital mates unbandaged Spicer's leg, and took off the poultices; and I was horrified when I saw the state which his leg was in-one mass of ulceration from the middle of the thigh down to half way below his knee, and his ankle and foot swelled twice their size; a similar inflammation extending up to his hip. The doctor compressed his lips, and looked very grave. He removed some pieces of flesh; it was then cleaned and fresh poultices put on.
“Doctor," said Spicer, who had watched his countenance, “they say in the Hospital that you have stated that I cannot live. Now, I should wish to know your opinion myself on this subject, as I believe I am the most interested party."
“ Why, my man,” said the doctor, “you certainly are in great danger; and if you have any affairs to settle, perhaps it will be prudent so to do."
“ That's a quiet way of saying there is no hope for me; is it not, doctor ?" replied Spicer. I fear, my good man, there is
little." “Tell me plainly, sir, if you please," replied Spicer; “is there any ?" “I am afraid that there is not, my good man ;
it's unpleasant to say so; but perhaps it is kindness to tell the truth.”
“Well, sir, that is honest. May I ask you how long I may expect to live ?"
". That will depend upon when the mortification takes place-about three days; after that, my poor fellow, you will probably be no more. like the chaplain to come and see you ?"
“ Thank you, sir; when I do I'll send for him.”
The doctor and the attendants went away to tho other patients. I was silent. At last Spicer spoke.
Well, Jack, you were right; so it is all over with me. Somehow or another, although I bore up against it, I had an inkling of it myself, the pain has been so dreadful. Well, we can die but once, and I shall die game."
“ Spicer,” said I, “that you will die without fear I know very well; but, still, you know that you should not die without feeling sorry for the sins you have committed, and praying for pardon. We have all of us, the very best of us, to make our peace with Heaven; so, had I not better tell the chaplain to come and talk with you ?"
“ No, Jack, no; I want no parsons praying by my side. What's done is done, and can't be undone. Go now, Jack, I wish to get a little sleep.”
“ Shall I come and see you to-morrow, Spicer ?”
· Yes, come when you will; I like to have some one to talk to; it keeps me from thinking."
I wished him good day, and went away with the book in my hand. Before I went home I sought out old Anderson, and told him what had passed. “ He will not see the chaplain, Anderson, but perhaps he will see you; and by degrees you can bring him to the subject. It is dreadful that a man should die in that way."
Alas, for the pride of us wretched worms!" ejacalated Anderson ; "he talks of dying game,—that is to say, he defies his Maker. Yes, Jack, I will go and see him ; and happy I am that he has a few days to live. I will see him to-night; but will not say much to him, or he might refuse my coming again.”
I went home. I was not in a very gay humour, for the sight of Spicer's leg, and the announcement of his situation, had made a deep impression upon me.
I sat down to read the book which Spicer had made me s present of. I was interrupted by my mother requesting me to go a message for her, and during my absence Virginia had taken up the book.
“Who lent you this book, Tom ?" said she, when I returned.
“Spicer—the man whom they call Black Sam, who is now dying in the Hospital.”
Well, that's not the name on the title-page—it is Walter James, Tynemouth.”
“ Walter James, did you say, dear? Let me look! Even so."
" Why, what's the matter, Tom ?” said my sister; "you look as if you were puzzled.”
And indeed I do not doubt but I did; for it at once recalled to my mind that Old Nanny's married name was James, and that Spicer had said that his father was a sailor, and that he had died at the time that he was born, which agreed with the narrative of Old Nanny. Tho onclusions which I came to in & moment made me shudder.
“Well, my dear, I was surprised, if not frightened; but you don't know why, nor can I tell you; for it's not my secret. Let me look at the book again ?" Here
my father came in, and the conversation took a different turn, which I was not sorry for. I wished, however, to be left to my own reflections, so I soon afterwards took up my candle and retired to my room.
I turned the subject over in my mind in a hundred ways, but could not come to any conclusion as to the best method of proceeding. At last I thought I would see Peter Anderson the next day, and take his advice. I was out immediately after breakfast; but I could not find Anderson, so I walked to the Hospital to see Spicer. I found Anderson sitting by his bed-side, but they were not then conversing. After a short time Anderson rose, and giving a slight shake of the head, as if to inform me that he had had no success, he
“He has been trying to convert mc," said Spicer, with a grim smile.
“ He has been trying, Spicer, to bring you to a sense of your condition; and is he not kind ? he can have no interest but your own good. Do you think that no one knows the sins you have committed except yourself? --there is one eye which sees all.”
“Come, Jack, no preaching."
“Spicer, you are here under a false name, and you think no one knows anything about you; but
everything has been discovered by me; and I cannot help thinking that it has been made known providentially and for your good."