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to different causes.
I possessed the key to unlock the truth, but that formed no part of
my vocation. Weeks, nay months, elapsed, and I was only reminded of this circumstance by the daily appearance of Middleton. The few short months were as years upon the calendar of his face, while the curse of memory was dragging him with an iron grasp to an early tomb. One day he observed to me in a manner evidently intended to convey to me the request more as a matter of business than otherwise, to deliver his letters to no person but himself: remember, he repeated, to no one, if you please, sir. I promised to follow his instructions strictly. He had his reasons, and I knew it.
As I had anticipated, his wife, a lovely woman, in the fulness of life's bloom, rich in accomplishments, the observed of all observers, called at the office; I could detect, beneath the bland smile, the canker worm of domestic sorrow; the seeds of misery were sown, the harvest was ripening. Are there any letters here for Mr. Middleton ? If I detest any thing in the world, it is the telling of a white lie; it soon leads to a black one. I replied that there were, but orders had been given to deliver them to no person but himself. Orders, sir ?-did he leave such orders ? He did, madam. She struggled with passion—it was, however, in vain. The words “perjured villain” escaped her, and she left the office.
I could now imagine their domestic scenes; conscious guilt on the one side, injured and insulted innocence on the other. But even this was doomed to have an end.
A report ran through the city, that a murder had been committed at No. 26, Gaskell street. Good heavens! The dwelling of Caroline! I hurried to the scene of blood, and there lay the dead body of Middleton, and beside him, in
the custody of two officers, his murderer-a youthful paramour of this modern Jezebel.
He forfeited his life upon the gallows, and Caroline Somerville died of mania a potu in the almshouse.
What became of the wife of the unfortunate Middleton ? the reader may inquire. Do you see that little red frame house which stands alone-that one with the neat little gar. den connected with it? There resides Mrs. Middleton, the once happy wife, together with her four small children; to maintain them, she takes in washing. Yes, reader, such, alas! is her destiny.
The tide of public opinion rolls from crime, even while it carries upon its bosom many a bark freighted with the unhallowed
cargo, and involves many an innocent victim in its reckless and overwhelming course. She is now alone in the world, with none to sympathize, none to alleviate her anguish. Her little ones are the peopled world in which she moves; beyond that, all is chaos.
MANY years ago, which will remind our readers of “once upon a time,” there was a truly good man, a philanthropist, one who like many good men of the present day, went about doing good. His visits were not to the residents of the outside of a prison, but to those who were inside. He
was the Lord's messenger on earth, a missionary of the heart, one who had deeply studied all the workings of poor human nature, its struggles, its temptations -- its downfall. He had in his capacity visited many prisons, and became acquainted with men, and their fearful histories -- histories which if given, as told in the deep dark cells of the penitentiary, would make the young heart quake and tremble, like the startled fawn.
Some incidents this good man told the writer of this book, one of which made a fearsul impression on his mind, more particularly as the chief of the robbers, a murderer, was hanged, and he stood beneath the gallows, and witnessed that fearful end, of a wicked man. The interest of those who escaped naturally increased; and years passed away, and silence and doubt rested on their fate. !
From the MSS. of this old missionary, the following legend was written; and as it developes the mystery of crime, in a manner identified with the mysteries of life, it is given as one of the dark leaves of our book.
THE MURDERER'S DOOM, OR EIGHT PAGES
FROM THE BOOK OF LIFE.
PAGE 1.—THE LOCALITY.
On the great national road between Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and Cumberland, Maryland, the traveller passes over two mountains, known as the Big and Little Savage. Except in the beauty of the scenery, which is of a wild and picturesque character, there are no other features in these “ savage" hills, than that which belongs to the nature of the soil, and the giant-like formation of its rocks and trees.
is but a messengers
Prior, however, to the march of improvement, and the enterprise of the people, which have thrown over hill, mountain, and valley, roads, canals, and telegraphic modes of communication, this portion of our country presented quite a different aspect to what it does at the present day. The deep valleys, high towering mountains, whose summits play hide and seek with the clouds, and interminable forests, the resort of the wild deer and bear, gave to it all those characteristic features which render the American forests in point of sublimity and grandeur, equal, if not superior to those of other countries. We might probably interest our readers in a description of the wilds of the West: but, as the pen poor substitute for the pencil, and both fall so immeasurably short in sketching the reality, that we will be excused the task of attempting to paint that which is so far beyond the reach of art. On the extreme height of what is called the Little Savage, stood in the year 1829 a rude log hut; this was before the road, (which now winds its way around the base, and up the sides of the mountain, like a huge serpent,) was made. Then it was a wilderness, yet a wilderness of gardens—for up the hill side and down the deep valleys, the violet and the wild forest rose bloomed in their pride of beauty, and shed their perfume on the persumed air: the birds at morn awoke the slumbering insects of the wood, and with their happy notes made all things musical ; the bee on the rose, hummed in sweet concert with the choir; and when at night their more tired throats and plaintive strains were heard, they sounded as requiems of departing day. Much of the wild character of the scenery still remains; but perhaps the most remarkable, apart from the natural attractions of these mountains, is that of the skeleton
of a man, which to this day can be seen on a projecting rock, overhanging a small stream which meanders through the deep valleys, and loses itself in the waters of the romantic Monongahela. For seventeen years and upwards, has that skeleton rested upon the rock. It has become a part and portion of it; in fact, it looks as if the sculptor had chiseled it out of the main body of the stone, and left it there as a specimen of his art! There is a fearful history connected with these bones-one which has thrown a charm, as of fear, over and around their immediate vicinity. It is indeed a wild and fearful spot-blasted oaks surround it; the tendril vines which were wont, in their pride, to cling so fondly to their stately lords, the oaks, now crawl away, clinging to the earth as if in dread. The wild flowers bloom no longer there, and the gaunt wolf whose den was beneath the rock, howls afar off! The vultures, too, have long since deserted the place -- the flesh of their victim is gone, and the spirit of the table-rock no longer spreads his human banquet there! Yes: high up on that lone rock, bleached by the storm and the tempest, and baked in seventeen summer suns, hardened even unto the consistency of the stone itself, are to be seen the bones of one whose name no longer dwells in the memory of man! It has passed away-for the tomb of crime is oblivion!
PAGE II.—THE OLD MAN_DANGER.
Our story commences on a beautiful evening in the month of June, 1830, in the log hut already alluded to; at the door of which sat, on this occasion, an aged man and two young girls. The man's age was probably sixty; and although his head was silvered o'er with the