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THE DOCTOR'S -U 0 VICTIM: A STORY OF THE BURKE AND HARE TRAGEDIES. BY R. T. CASSON. Author of "Bonnie Mary," "A Modern Ishmael," "'fbe Doctor's Doom," Maggie Ray," "Dorcas kne," "Faithless Florence," &c., &c. CHAPTER XV. A TERRIBLE CRIME AVERTED. p the stone walls of the cottage which the c soreaats, Burke and Hare, so ruthlessly to destruction ha-d not been thick well built the explosive power of the i S powder would, doubtless, have e w^10^e house, and probably also killed the inmates. But the hopes and j^.Qtions of the murderous twain were not r^^ie °f the cottage were nearly a wet in thickness, and, beyond dislodging, stones in that corner of the hou.-e, ex^mage -was done. The noise made by the tlj; .°Sl°a was, however, exremely loud, and dulr llUnates of the cottage, Mrs. Steenie Mac- ail-d the Lindsays (husband and wife),' e very much frightened., Lindsay was no coward, and, not- standing the terrified entreaties of his <j0 rushed downstairs and out. of the Catj the smoke of the powder nearly suft'o- gng him, t;v jeuiS that the damage done was compara- founJ he went back to his wife, and Mrs. Macduff with her. The explosion iArg^ beneath the room in which she slept, frj i" "Macduff was naturally muoli more ^ifcfid than were John Lindsay and his it f'are not go it auk to that room, even if so> ^rs- Lindsay," said the aim^j £ woman. "It 'was my life that was I h»l: a^' an<^» whoever did TiisTiirfcy work, h0^ ieve the Laird of Thistleden is at the M.. °T'1, °* all. Is the house much damaged, '•Lindsay ?" lidsa M.. °T'1, °* all. Is the house much damaged, '•Lindsay ?" donto vtry little, considering the tremen- Pla reP01"t' Jack Miller, who built the ax ^Vas a reason, and intended it to last is f ? as the lease of the ground, and that °r 200 years. A few stones have been bv'^r'11 ou^' kut so good is the mortar used M'ay there is no fear of others giving Wi go away from Edinburgh in the reaoh^f' am n°t safe anywhere 'within attem,^ v'le ^a'rc'- When he^earns that this Sow i, s failed, he will try again, but by "I w'n F metl10<V' said Mr3. Macduff. city seei the police when I go to the «f+ reiParked John Lindsav, after a pause, laird be unless, Mr. Lindsay. The 'lavc taken care not to identify t° 0^, Wlth the outrage. His determination perty ai.?. Possession of my husband's pro-j city neVer be given up until his rapa- j he wii]S] n satisfied. If he cannot find me, j f compelled to exercise the virtue of ^'Orld 8„ r a time, and that will do him a ««$,<* good." ilagcj'eie.'nill you go, Mrs, Macduff?'' asked '"f(j j^^dsay. i^rnfries, where I have some cousins ^ce L'at' please do not tell anyone. My take thJ iiere before noon, and I will I o cl0c £ ,e, <*>ach as it passes the house at four i feSCaPeii^+i'ee' who had thus marvellously Sc>a an'] i'8 doom intended for Mary Pater- their i ler ai;nt Alice, did not return to Jlight S'T; U^ UP 'n the kitchen until J-here was no house nearer than a hea-rd tl (i yards, and the people who ;vas s noi:?^ of the explosion fancied that, i., betimes the case, the quarry me a tlm 'n?, a ri'.?'|t ".shot" in the quarry. Hur.f dastardly attempt of Burke 6 n°t generally known, even in .W]v t7 0f tUe cottage*. ^'iUi a%pln morning Burke sent his wife ^ditlor, K' ostensibly on a rag-gathering ex- ,at«aoa j ascertain the extent of the Slle retur^1]6! ^-v the explosion. And when a smfv with the intelligence that ?f the h 1 e ^ia(' been made in the corner is' aecom v"wall» the chagrin of Burke and J1 sS? !0e was vei7 affairiiave no more to do with the Xt w Hare' decidedly. R soiJTi .Ve ?ot the laird's £ 20. and must if-u111? ^or it," urged Burke, whose ^-tnoni e^ose upon the rest of the I sh,aii '7 Proiil!ied by David Macduff. Seated T4° 110 move; vou can, if vou like, :,rn th: Sal nO more, but lie resolved to ii)lrn..cfley alone, if it could be done ',e follow; w'fe went out again on T-e c°tta >v' anci ventured to cal! at t saw no one beside Mrs. ,'in nd all the inquiries made by Mrs. one W6 nc'oi1 bcurhood proved fruitless. ^°^age iew ai,ght of the inmates of the °tta,gej^ °» averred the wife of the nearest °'" 1ei»hK ere unco prood, and didna. care When m fowk"" ',lrgh, a0rPaterson returned from Edin- at tfpanied h.v Graham Campbell, his ievecj i+ le °"trage was intense, for he J He J Mary's life which was aimed «. ^'ith thp -• arguments he could think v°.an ear]vV\eu" °f inducing Mary to consent ait! y date for their marriage, but in .^fa,r Graham, it must not be. To a.1? Wndo /0llr wish would be to play into v ^iuir,rr fv° uncle- If I marry before jtnt, "e age of 21, or without hi;; con- shau m/ fortune becomes his property. T° S0 rnuc-1 the richer at my ] °liciu-; ls "se!e« to urge me further." •arrivff tlie decision at which she X'Usle t7'Mrs- Steenie Macduff joined the AT r a con.fi'u °"ac^ in the afternoon, and, ii Buch= Nation with her friends, including 'e l'°le innli sent for to sea the cottnge wall, and help them "The unsuspecting Hare walked into the room." l in coming to some decision on the subject, it was settled that Mary should pay a visit to an aunt of Mr. Buchan, at Dundee, and that, in the meantime, a close watch should be kept upon the laird and his doings by Daft Jamie, who turned up at the cottage soou after Mrs. Macduff had joined the coach. Jamie readily promised Mary to visit Mrs. Lindsav regularly, and report what was going on at Thistleden. The coach for Dundee would not go for two days, and meantime Mary returned to I the Campbells. Knowing that, if Burke and Hare had been I successful in their midnight outrage, the affair -wouid. be the talk of the whole city next day, the Laird of Tiistleden rode to Edinburgh in the afternoon. He put up his horse in the Grassmarket, and joined the loungers in the inn kitchen, but heard never a word of the explosion. He tried a second inn, but with no better result, and was thus forced to the conclusion that the attempt to get rid of his sister-in-law must have failed. What was to be done? Laban Price, the gipsy, would, the laird believed, carry into effect his threat to make the police acquainted with what he had seen of the murder of Steenie. How to obtain the B500 demanded by the gipsy as the price of his silence the Iciinl could not imagine. He was in a more desperate strait than before, and shuddered as he contemplated the consequences of his I failm-v 1, comply ith the gipsy's demands. ) After dusk he ventured into the West Port, and was fortunate in finding Burke in his favourite haunt, spending freely a portion of the £ 20 'which, so far from doing him any good, had driven away from Edinburgh the two women he wished to get rid of. "So you blundered, you fool hissed the laitd, when the two got outside the spirit- sliop. "Sure, "twas no fault of ours. We put ptwder enough to blow up the house in a ho1; in the wall, right under the window of the room in which the women slept; the powder was properly fired, and it went off, but the wall :s so thick that hardly a stone was moved out of its place." "Well, you must hare another try." "You may try youwelf, laird. "My mate will not venture, and I don't care to try it alone." "Have you seen a pnsy anywhere around here—a rough-looking r 'low, tall, and broad, about 30 or -32 year.- :d1" asked the laird, after a pause. "To be sure we hare, laird. Every man iT, the West Port know* him. He says he has come in for a for v' replied Burke. "He does, eh? A me at my expense: money dragged out < -ny pouch. Does he lodge near here?" "At Mickey Doolan's, next door to me," said Hare, who had joined them. "Then it would not be a difficult matter. I'll pay you another JB20. and say no more of your failure over the powder business, if you'll make a '.shot' of the gipsy, Laban Price. What do you say?" "The fellow's as strong as Samson," said Burke. "And can drink whisky like a fish takes Burke. water," remarked Hare. "But there are two of you, and you might give him a dose in his 'liquor, and then get him into your house. The rest would be easy." "Give us the half down, laird ?" said Burke. "Not a penny. I'll pay the money when I "Not a penny. I'll pay the money when I see the body—not before. If you oare to earn it. you will ma.na.ge it to-night. I will come to the end of Tanner's Close half an hour after midnight: in the meantime, use your wits, and you will find means to do the job." And the laird walked rapidly away, in the belief that the seed lie had sown would bear fruit. Fortune, once more, was in favour of Burke and Hare. The drinking bouts of the gipsy blackmailer had begun to tell upon him, and at closing time that night he was so helpless, and yet quarrelsome, that he was pitched into the street, after refusing to leave. Buike and his companion were on the look- out, and, telling the gipsy that they had a quait-bottle of whisky in the house, they easily lured him to Hare's abode. Before midnight the gipsy 'was in a deep stupor, the effect of drugged porter, which ha drank when told the whisky was finished. After taking the precaution to tie his hands and feet with a. stout cord, the rest would I be easy, as the laird had remarked. Some of the lodgers were inclined to be noisy, and the gipsy had been seen when entering the house. HaTe, therefore, went to the common I kitchen, to prevent anyone venturing into the passage leading to the back room where the gipsy lay unconscious, Burke intending to keep watch until the lodgers retired to bed, when the last act of the tragedy was to I be played. Not for a moment did Burke suspect that the effects of the drugged liquor would evapo- be played. Not for a moment did Burke suspect that the effects of the drugged liquor would evapo- rate so quickly as they did. He was standing by the door, listening to the persuasive voice of his accomplice, urging his lodgers to go to bed, when a slight rustling of the straw made of his accomplice, urging his lodgers to go to bed, when a slight rustling of the straw made him turn round quickly. Laban Price was j I sitting up, glaring at Burke with all the ferocity of the .gipsy nature when furious with, anger. "You murdering devil! Untie my hands, or I'll choke the life out of you when I get loose shouted the gipsv. Burke's answer was prompt. He recog- nised the expediency of finishing the business at once, and thre w himself upon the gipsy whose head struck the stone floor in a spot but thinly covered with straw, partly stun ning him. With his knees on the struggling man's chest, one hand' on his throat and the other covering his mouth, Burke had no diffi- culty in accomplishing his gruesome task, and with a gasp the gipsy soon relaxed his efforts to free himself and lay quite quiet. "He's done for, and nobody the wiser. Who is there?" he asked, in a whisper. "Open, quick; it's the laird said Hare. And when the laird entered, the candle on the little square table enabled him to see the dreadful object in the farthest corner. The gipsy's jaw had dropped; his tongue was slightly protruding; his face was of the livid hue of death, and hence the laird did not for a moment doubt that the JB20 had been duly earned. "That will do-I am satisfied. Out of this. for Heaven's sake All three left the room. Hare bolting the door on the outside, and in Hare's private room the laird counted out the money he had promised them. "What will you do with the body?" he asked, standing up to leave. "Mr. Munro is away, and the house is sliut up." Burke and Hare looked at one another with something akin to dismay. The body must be got rid of before morning, in some way. "Couldn't we take it to the caves for a while, until Mr. Munro ccrnes back?" said Burke. "Certainly not. Drop it in a ditch by the roadside somewhere," replied the laird. But there was no necessity. After the laird had gone, Hare went to a rag merchant's stable, not far off, and, as lie had often done before, borrowed the man's pony and cart. Burke in the meantime entered the back room, carrying the tea-chest in which the gipsy's body was to be conveyed away. But the moment Burke entered the room he re- ceived a tremendous blow under the ear, and he dropped like a stone. Laban Price had been shamming, as the only possible way out of the snare into which he had fallen. His immense strength enabled him to strain the cord that bound his hands, "Rated him soundly." by throwing out his elbows, and .soon lie was able to get one hand free, his pocket-knife doing the rest. Then he waited quietly be- hind the door for the return of the two men who had decoyed him into the den. "Shall I go now or wait for the other?" muttered the gipsy. "I'll wait. I wonder if the laird paid them for the job; let's see," and he dived his hand into Burke's pockets. "Ha ha What a stroke of fortune, to be sure. Bank-notes—don't I know the feel of 'em! And the other chap will have his share, I hope." Presently, the cart being left at the end of the close, Hare returned to help Burke with the loaded tea-chest, and the gipsy re- peated the process he 'had adopted with Burke. The unsuspecting Hare walked into the room, and the blow given him by the gipsy sent him reeling on the top of his accomplice. Having tied their hands and feet with the rope Hare had brought to secure the tea-chest, the gipsy searched Hare's pockets, found the notes, and, having filled their mouths with some of the dirty straw from the floor, Laban Price gave both men a part- ing kick, and left the house, after bolting the door of the room in which his captors" ere now lying, "like a couple of trussed fowls," as he'said to himself. "That was a narrow shave, Laban. Must drop the drink, or that crafty old laird will manage better next time. What shall I do now? Go out to Thistleden in the morning, and frighten him a bit? No; he would just laugh at me. knowing that no one would be- lieve the strange tale I should tell. I must have patience, and wait until he gives me a chance to get even with him. And that will not be long, for such an old villain will soon put his foot in it again, never fear, after he knows that I escaped." The morning was well advanced ere Mrs. Hare wondering where her husband could be happened to unbolt the door of tue room in which more than one dark tragedy had taken place. The light from t'<e u e M dow high up in one corner was just sufficient to enable her to see the two men on the floor. Under such circumstances, most women would have run out screaming, and thus have aroused the wdiole neighbourhood but Hare's wife was as cool and wary as either of the men. She divined what had taken place, and fetched a knife, with which she managed to cut the ropes that bound her husband and his friend, who had suffered agonies of torture during the ten hours of their confinement. "Get us something to drink, and be mighty quick about it. That dirty straw has almost poisoned me," cried Hare. "So you let that gipsy chap get the better of ye," said Mrs. Hare, with a curl of her lip that exasperated her husband. "Another word, and I'll truss ye up like a pigeon, and lave ye here till to-morrow morn-, ing," retorted Hare, savagely. "What can we say to the laird? The cursed gipsy will soon let him know that he escaped," said Burke, when the two had breakfasted. "Let him find it out. We are none the better for our trouble. To lose the money after all is enough to provoke the biggest saint in the calendar. But if ever I come across that gipsy-" "Get out of his way as quick as you can; that is what I shall do," and Burke lit his pipe and departed. As for the gipsy, his narrow escape had startled him. He saw that the laird was not the timid, frightened man he had imagined him to be, and that any attempt at blackmail on a large scale must be abandoned. With the JB20 he had stolen from the pockets of Burka end Hare he Qjuld rejoin his tribe, and lay low for a t'me. to return to Thistle-, den when the laird would least expect him. CHAPTER XVI. THE LAIRD'S FALSE MOVE. Having thus, as he believed, managed to silence his gipsy blackmailer, the laim could afford to watoh the course of events with something akin to patience. His counte- nance, though, showed that the failure of his schemes, one after the other, was making him sour and misanthropical. And well he might be so, for lie was continually haunted by the fear that some one of those whom, in various ways, he had injured, would retaliate by an appeal to the la^v. Spring came round again, and David Mac- dutt, having heard from a round-about source that Mary Paterson was living in Dundee, resolved on a brief visit to the northern town. Not that he had any definite object in view, for he had now no reason for wish- ing his once favourite niece any harm. The London packet was arriving when the laird reached Leith pier, and there was evidently some occurrence out of the common agitating the bystanders, who seemed greatly excited. Pushing forward, the laird saw a number of sailors carrying a sheeted bumile .ashore. "It's only the body of a. woman, found floating some little distance out at sea," said another of the packet's crew, in answer to the laird's inquiries. If anyone had asked David Macduff why he followed the men carrying the corpse to the old Town-house, used at that time as a, dead-house for drowned persons, lie would have been at a loss what to say in reply. He had some little difficulty in gaining admis- sion to the dark-room in which the corpse was laid out, but by the aid of a judicious half-crown bestowed on the custodian of the place, he succeeded in satisfying his morbid fancy to see the body. The moment lie snm the face of the dead woman, by the light of the candle held over it by the attendant, David Macduff was startled. "Surely I cannot be mistaken he muttered to himself. "That poor woman must be Steenie's widow. Yes; I am sure of it, Here is the identical ring above her wedding ring, a keeper made like a snake, with a green stone for an eye. It is Alice without doubt." And away went the now elated laird to the office of Mr. Buehan, full of excitement. The lawyer was not greatly surprised at the intelligence brought by the laird. The fact that since her departure by the Carlisle coach Mrs. Steenie Macduff had not once written to or in any other way communicated with her friends in Edinburgh, had paved the way for the belief that she must be dead. Mary knew that her aunt had a, considerable sum in her possession when she started on her journey, and it was deemed by the lawyer quite probable that she had been murdered for the sake of that money. "Yes, I will go with you and see the body, laird," 'he said, inwardly resolving that the evidence of identity must be such as would satisfy him, before* lie moved in the matter now,' doubtless, agitating the mind of the laird—tlie deceased's property. But, after closely scanning the face of the drowned woman, whose death, as the doctor believed, must have occurred at least a fort- night previously, Mr. Buehan was compelled to admit that, so far as he could form an opinion, the laird's belief was well founded. The lawyer also reoognised the ring. which confirmed any doubts lie might have felt. 'I wish your niece had been in Edinburgh but it would scarcely be possible to have her here in time. Mary knew her aunt better than anyone else on this side of the Atlantic," remarked Mr. Buchan. "Site could only confirm our belief, which is founded on evidence that ought to convince anybody, that this poor thing before us is all that remains of my brother's widow" "Then, I suppose you will defray the ex- penses of burial?" asked the lawyer. 1 es; she must be placed in the family vault. J f Pre^ume you know that she made a win?
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I The laird started in astonishment, and hit face, a moment before full of the anticipation of possessing Steenie's wealth, became af black as a thunder-cloud. "A will? No; I never heard of it. If the document in your possession?" "No but I have a copy." "Also signed, witnessed, and attested?" "No only an office copy, from which thC real will was engrossed. But the will itsell was, doubtless, entrusted to the care ot tieV* friends. Probably your niece has it in hot keeping, seeing that she is the principal legatee." "Who else benefits?" "Her cousin George." "And not me ?'' "Did you for a moment expect it? Th^ terrible wrong you peipetrated upon hef could not be so easily forgotten, Laird M&Or duff. If you have been, since you disooverojt the identity of the body, cherishing hopefif that will not be realised, I am sorry for you. Good day. laird." At first the laird thought of refusing to bury the body, but reflection caused him toi" change his mind. If the will were not forth- coming he would be heir-at-law, and that considera.tion decided him in favour of aotinj as chief-mourner at the funeral. Mr. Buchan forthwith wrote to Mary, asking her if she had her aunt's will in her possession, but was not a little disappointed when Mary's answer arrived. She did no? even know that her aunt had made a will. And, to his exceeding chagrin, all the lawyer's inquiries in other directions werfl equally fruitless. The will had disappeared;*) it had probably been taken with her by the deceased lady, and its whereabouts would thus remain a mystery. The laird, meantime, was quietly biding his time. full of exultation at the failure of Mr. Buchan to produce the will of the lady whose agent he had been. Then the laird?, deeming it time to assert his claims, applied to the court for letters of administration.4 But here again he was doomed to further, delay. Mr. Buclian had been beforehajKt with him, having deposited in court the oopjj of the will, with a sworn affidavit that he had drafted tlie will, which might yet ba forthcoming. And when the laird at court his appeal was refused on the gromia that sufficient time had not elapsed since the' disappearance of Mrs. Alice Macduff, whoso will might yet be discovered. The laird had bean "counting his ohiokens before they were hatched." A farm next to some of his otwn lands was for sale, and,' depending upon possession of his deceased- brother's property in a short time, the laird had obtained from the factor, Maclaren, the loan of J31,500 on a bill at two months' date, I for which he was to pay interest, £ 100. His failure to secure the power to deal with his brother's property aroused the fury of monev-loving factor, who threatened to ruin him ÅÅ the loan were not repaid when the bill became due. The scheming, unscrupulous laird was at his; wits' end, and his doom seemed to be inevi- table. He appealed to his nephew Georgo to consent to the cutting off the entail, so that he might raise sufficient on mortgage of Thistleden to repay Maclaren, but George Macduff sternly refused. When but a 'week's grace was left to hint When but a 'week's grace was left to him the laird thought seriously of flight, as hia only way of avoiding imprisonment for debt. He had been to the city daily, indulging1 more frequently in drink than had been his wont, and was one evening going along the Canongate when, in turning the corner leading into Leith Wynd, he came rather violently into collision with a well-dressed woman, who rated him soundly for his awkwardness. It was too dark for either to see the other, for lamps were scarce and small at that time, but the laird did not stop to apologise. To the surprise of Lawyer Buclian. who chanced to be passing, had recognised the laird, and had been enjoying the woman's scolding, the laird ran away as fast as his shaking limbs would carry him. Then Mr. Buchan glancedi at the woman, who stood looking after the laird. There was no mistaking her face;) and no wonder David Macduff was scared: for the woman he had so rudely jostled was his brother's widow, whom lie believed he had! buried in the vault of the Macduffs at Roslin. "Mrs. Macduff!" exclaimed the young lawyer. "Mr. Buchan-the very man I want. Can I walk with you for a short time ?'' "Certainly: and, if you are not staying anywhere—that is, I mean, if you have but recently returned to Edinburgh—my mother will, I am sure, be very pleased if you will make our house your home during your stay in fche city." "Thank you I may stay with you two or three days. I will tell you what has brought me to Edinburgh again when we reach yovir house." 11 n It was another startling episode in Alica Macduff's romantic history. Mrs. Buclian cordially welcomed her son's wealthy client, and after a sumptuous tea. the lawyer took Mrs. Maoduff into his library, where she told hex strange story, "When I left Edinburgh, as you are aware^ f led my niece to believe that I was going t Dumfries, to a relative. But I was so mucif terrified by the attempt to blow up the cot*; tage in which, with my niece, I had beeif staying, that before the coach reached Car- lisle I had changed my mind, and went on to Liverpool, where resides another cousin of my own, the widow of a merchant captaine W ith her I have been staying ever since* happy and cpntented in the knowledge that$ was safe from the schemes of the man wh< £ covets my money. I never saw any Scotch newspapers, but last Saturday an old copy, of the "Edinburgh Advertiser" -was brought home by my cousin's maid-servant, who ha<f got it from another Scotch lass. One of thf first items of news I read was the notice of my own death and funeral; and, thinking my rascal of a brother-in-lawr was again upi to some knavish trick or other, I decided to return here." "So far as I know, Mrs. Macduff, theftt was no trickery in the matter. I was present with the laird at the old town-house at Leith. where the body of the woman supposed tC be you was taken when brought into port bjt the packet, and I certainly tliQUglit ifi