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gone, Teresa, that his manners and conduct had been most suspicious. Neither Mrs. Norris nor myself can recollect exactly all that passed, he several times answered in a confused manner; but our suspicions became tenfold greater when we heard afterwards from Captain Smith and our servant, that he had been at his lodgings at four o'clock on Tuesday afternoon; that he had laughed when his landlady's maid gave him our message; and that he had desired Mrs. Cowan to say, if he was again sent for, that he had never been at home. We also ascertained that he dined in town with other young men and that he was up all night."
"I do not wish to make excuses for Walter," said Teresa gently, "or to pronounce his private conduct and mode of life as always irreproachable; but I am at a loss to see how the fact of his keeping late hours proves that he encouraged a little boy to run away from home."
"Nothing can now alter my opinion," said Norris, gravely. "I believe that Walter abetted Donald in his wish to go to sea; that he arranged his flight, and that he probably secreted him somewhere till he could get him off."
"I am certain you are quite mistaken, cousin," said Teresa, warmly; "You do Walter great injustice; and, besides, what motive could he have?"
"He has talked of foreign service himself," answered Norris, "and I suspect he has deluded that boy away to get him into the Russian navy. Nothing that you can say, my dear Teresa, will alter my opinion, and I am compelled, with deep regret, to close my doors against Walter till the matter is cleared up. We were denied to him this morning.'
It was late in the autumn of 1828-a year memorable in the annals of the old City of Edinburgh.
For some time past there had been strange rumours afloat, and people appeared possessed by some vague, indefinable dread, of what they scarcely knew. Their fears assumed no tangible form, suspicion was aroused on every side, but at present it was but suspicion. Under their breaths almost, in publichouses, or cowering over their own hearth-stones, strong men, with pale cheeks, spoke of bands of miscreants bound by oath to destroy human life, who prowled about the streets at night, and under cover of the darkness seized upon their victims, and afterwards slaughtered them; or again, others would hint at something more monstrous and awful, of famishing wretches whose prey and food was human flesh. The
error and apprehension of the people had risen to its utmost height, before the first insight was obtained into the scenes of indescribable, appalling horror, which rendered Tanner's Close so awfully memorable.
An universal panic seized upon society, for it seemed impossible by any natural hypothesis, to account for the sudden and mysterious disappearance of persons, some of them well known in the city, of whom not the slightest clue or trace could be discovered. Justice herself appeared baffled; the conspirators trading in human lifecould not be discovered, all reasonable surmise was exhausted; but the wildest range of fancy scarce came up to the awful reality, to the depths of horror associated with the name of William Burke.
What a bloody drama had been enacting for months past in that city, when young and old had been lured into the human shambles in Tanner's Close, where after a brief scene of revelry and dissipation the victim was led into the little dark room at the back, where the light of life was quenched, and another unit abstracted from the sum of human existence! Then at night forth went the ghastly burthen, borne by murderous hands, some girl, perchance, who, gay, careless, and light-hearted, in spite of poverty and want, had blithely trod the streets at noon-day, and whose cold, lifeless form was doomed to deck at nightfall the dissecting-table in Surgeons' Square.
Here was the great emporium for Burke and Hare's traffic in human life. When darkness fell, creeping under the shadow of the walls, these two ghost-like men stole along-their burthen a scarcely stiffened corpse in a tea-chest or a sack-past scattered groups in the Grassmarket, who little recked the ghastly secret of that burthen, and up Candle-maker Row, and then along the quiet, unfrequented thoroughfares of Brown Square, Argyle Square, and North College Street, jostling sometimes against passers-byincidents to be remembered, later on, by these latter, with shuddering horror, when time brought to light the different acts in the drama, the day and hour of each performance, and the route taken by the actors. Then into that dim silent room, with its lurking terrors, the atmosphere of death in every breath, they carried their victim, and here Knox or his assistants scrutinised their intended purchase before completing the bargain.
Never before had their dissecting-table been so well supplied. Merrilies, or Merry Andrew, so called from his peculiar gait and the contortions into which he twisted his face, and the Spune, two retainers enlisted in the cause of medical science, had been inde. fatigable, clever, and fertile in resources, particularly the former, wherewith to keep up the supply of bodies in Surgeons' Square. Their only field was the graveyard, or the Infirmary. This institu
tion Merrilies would haunt daily, in the hope of hearing of the approaching dissolution of some poor patient; and when this event took place, if relations were not immediately forthcoming, Merrilies, clad in a suit of rusty black, would make his appearance, mourn with the deepest grief over the body of his loved relative; carry it off for interment, and deposit it that night in the hall in Surgeons' Square.
Merrilies traded only with the dead; but, as will be seen, the living were of equal importance to the fiendish inmates of the house in Tanner's Close. Each one, no matter how poor, how degraded, how sunken, represented ten pounds, to be obtained for his or her body. Constant practice made the murderers skilful in their dark and mysterious deeds of blood. They became bolder, more daring, rash, and foolhardy at last; blind to the ever-watchful eye upon them, to the gaze of an all-seeing God, patient and long-suffering, but whose judgments descend, soon or later, with unerring aim.
Who shall say how many human lives were blotted out in that dark and gruesome house? how many waifs and strays were lured to their fate-hapless beings, who had neither kith nor kin to mourn over them or deplore their loss? God alone knows this; but one thing is certain, that Burke and his fiendish companion, Hare, never owned to all their victims, possibly not to one-half of them.
Only the white mice, which for many a long day haunted the awful vicinity of that blood-stained spot inidicated the cruel fate of the poor little Italian boy, far from the sunny skies of his native land. One of the poor, faded, soulless beings, called cinder-women, who at early dawn, like pale shadows, haunted the streets to gather the means of a wretched existence from cinders, refuse, and garbage, is positively known to have swelled the list of Burke's contributions to Surgeons' Hall; but who shall say how many of these friendless creatures may not have gasped out their last sigh, in the terrible house in Tanner's Close?
Nothing opened the eyes of the surgeons, neither the number of bodies furnished by their new contributor, nor any marks upon them of foul play. Day after day fresh burthens were laid on the long table in the dissecting-hall, many, most of them, to be heard of no But the names, the death scenes of a few were to be recapitulated later on, amidst the sighs and shuddering pity of a crowded court, where the eyes of strong men dropped tears of pity, and their grief struggled with their hate of the fiendish men, as they heard of the death agony of the beautiful, unfortunate Mary Patterson, of the poor old Irish grandmother, and the dumb grandson, carried in the same barrel to Surgeons' Hall; and of daft Jamie, the sweet-tempered, gentle imbecile, whose sunny smile and radiant face was so familiar to all, whose well-known figure had haunted the
streets of the old city for years-one of the most harmless and inoffensive of beings, whose very misfortune should have been his shield. He struggled hard for his life with the tigers who thirsted for his blood, but all in vain, and daft Jamie also figured in the drama which was then drawing to its close.'
! The atrocities of Burke and Hare are narrated in Leighton's "Court of Cacus."
THE FALLEN DAUGHTER AT HER FATHER'S
The eye that once was softly blue,
Her hand in agony were pressed
"Oh! God," she cried; and turned aside.
"Oh! God, that I could kneel
Ah! reason now has snapped;
And as the moonbeams softly wrapt
The church, the father's grave, the child,
From the tower, screaming wild,
The owl flew by;
And the breeze, with mournful sigh,