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“Ah!" replied Spicer, “and pray what do you know? Perhaps you can tell me all the sins I havo committed.”
“No, Spicer, but perhaps I can tell you of sins which you yourself are not aware of; but first answer me—you know that you cannot live long, Spicer; will you acknowledge that what I state is correct, should it really be so ?"
“I give you my word, that if you tell me anything about me which is true, that I will acknowledge it; so now, Mr. Fortuneteller, here's my hand-it may be useful, you know, in helping your discovery."
“I do not want your hand, Spicer ;—now hear me. Is not your name James ?—and were you not born at Tynemouth?"
Spicer started. “How did you find that out? Well, Tom, it is so, and what then?"
"As you told me yourself, although I knew it before,
your mother, and how you returned from you know where—how you robbed her of every farthing, and left her again destitute and in misery. Is there nothing to repent of in that, Spicer ?”
" Who the devil
“Nay, Spicer, the devil has had nothing to do with the discovery."
"Strange, strange indeed," muttered Spicer; " but still, it is true.”
“ Spicer, you know best how your life was passed from that time until you came into the Hospital; but it was to be hoped, that when laid up to rest in this
haven, after such a stormy life, that you would have amended your life; but what have you
done?" " And what have I done?”
“What would have brought you to the gallows, if I had not held my tongue. You attempted to murder the old woman to obtain her money, and in escaping you received the wound which soon will bring you to your grave.
“What proofs ?”
“Every proof, your stump struck me in the face when you rushed out—the button was off your coat the next morning when I met you—I had every proof, and had I chosen, would have sworn on the Bible to your having been the party.”
“Well, I'll not deny it—why should I, when I cannot be taken out of this bed to be tried, even if
wished ? Have you more to say?"
“ Yes, more.” “I doubt it.”
“ Then hear me : -the poor woman whom you would have murdered, whom I found at her last gasp, and with difficulty restored to consciousness, that poor woman, Spicer, is your own mother !”
“God of Heaven !” exclaimed he, covering his face.
“Yes, Spicer, your fond, indulgent mother, who thinks that you suffered the penalty of the law many years ago ; and whose energies have been crushed by the supposed unhappy fate of her still loved and lamented son. Spicer, this is all true, and have you now nothing to repent of?”
"I thought her dead, long dead. God, I thank thee that I did not the deed; and, Jack, I am really grateful to you for having prevented it. Poor old woman!yes, she did love me, and how cruelly I treated her!And she is then still alive, and thinks that I was hanged—yes, I recollect now, she must think so. Oh! iny brain, my brain !"
“Spicer, I must leave you now.”
“Don't leave me, Jack-yes, do, come to-morrow morning.”
“Spicer, will you do me a favour?"
Yes, if you wish it; but not now: this evening I will, if he'll come.”
I left Spicer, well satisfied with what had passed, and hastened to Anderson, to communicate it to him.
"A strange and providential discovery, Tom, indeed," said he, “and good use it appears to me you have made of it: his heart is softened, that is evident; I will certainly go to him this evening."
SPIOER DISCLOSES STRANGE MATTERS.
The next day, when I called to sec Spicer, I found him in great pain. Anderson had been with him, but he had been in such agony that he found it almost impossible to converse with him. Spicer did not like that I should leave him, although he could not talk, and I therefore remained by his bedside, occasionally assisting him to move from one position to another, or to take the drink that was by his bedside. Towards the evening he became more easy, and went to sleep. I left him, therefore, till the next day. As I supposed, the mortification had commenced, for the doctor told him so the next morning, when he visited him, and the chaplain pointed out to him that all hopes of living were now over. Spicer heard the communication unmoved. He asked the doctor how long he might live, and his reply was, it was possible four or five days, and that he would feel no more pain. He was now able to listen to Anderson, and he did so. I shall not trouble the reader with repeating what Anderson imparted to me, as I can give him an idca of Spicer's feelings by what passed between us.
“ Tom," said he, “I have led a very wicked life, so wicked, that I hate to think of it, and I hate myself. I believe all that Anderson and the chaplain tell me, and I find that I may hope and do hope for mercy ; but I can't cry or wail or tear my hair. The fact is, Tom, I can't feel afraid : if I am pardoned, and I do scarcely expect it, I shall be all gratitude, as well I may. Should I be condemned, I shall acknowledge my punishment just, and not complain, for I have deserved all; but I cannot feel fear; I believe I ought; but it is not in my nature, I suppose.”
“But you do not feel anything like defiance, Spicer ?"
“No, God forbid ! no, nothing like that; but my spirit cannot quail.”
He was very anxious for the chaplain the two last days of his life, and I really believe was sincere in his repentance; but before I wind up his history, I will narrate to the reader those portions of his life which are unknown, and which are necessary to the explanation of other matters.
He told me that when he first went to sea, he had joined a vessel employed in the slave trade, that he had left it at Gambia, and shipped on board of a vessel which was about to cruise on the Spanish main. He was some time in her, and had been appointed second officer, when he resolved to fit out a vessel and cruise for himself. He had therefore quitted the vessel at Surinam, and worked his passage home in a sugar ship.
It was on his return home this time that, as Old Nanny had told me, he had taken to gaming, and eventually had robbed his mother. With the 20001. in his pocket, he had repaired to Liverpool, where he fell in with Fitzgerald, a young man who had served as first mate in the vessel in which they had cruised on the Spanish main, and to him he had proposed to join him as first officer, in the vessel which he was about to fit out. It appeared that this young man had but s few days returned from Ireland, where he had married a young woman, to whom he had been some time attached, and that his disinclination to leave his young wife made him at first refuse the offer made by Spicer. Spicer, however, who was aware of his value, would not lose sight of him, and contrived, when Fitzgerald had taken too much wine, to win of him by unfair means about 15001. Spicer then offered Fitzgerald a release from the debt provided he would sail with him; and he exacted as a farther condition that he should not return, and take a farewell of his wife. To these harsh