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86 CHAPTER XV. A strange history revealed.— Mr. Covert’s conduct accounted for. i could only sit and listen, without saying a word, then; for such a web of villainy and romance quite took away my breath! Was my mind under the influence of no dream? Had I not been overpowered with some work of fiction? No. I looked deliberately about the little attic bedroom; and there was the high window, and on another side Wigglesworth’s lank bed, with its check coverlid; and near by the antiquated washstand, and the table by which we sat, and on which lay a package of manuscript; and, leaning against the wall an odd chair, and all lit up by the lamp giving its flickering light. And there in the kind of seat called a Boston rocker, sat poor old Wigglesworth himself. Although he had been out that afternoon, towards dark, and had a long interview with Martha, it was more than he ought to have done. I was quite shocked with the ghastly appearance of the poor 87 old man, and his lurid and bloodshot eyes! He could not be long for this world. Indeed he told me he didn’t think he should have lived till the present hour, except that he thought he had one work to perform. And he couldn’t rest in peace, if it was not done. “I tell you Jack,” said he, excitedly, “this is all that has kept me up for a long while past. As for my body, it gave out months ago. It is dead I tell you; you can see that for yourself.” Poor creature! you did look more like a corpse, that moment, than a living being. “The mind, Jack,” the old man went on, “I never before thought it had such wonderful power. But I resolved to live until I had unravelled the web of deviltry which, as I have told you, I providentially got the clue of; I determined that I would last till this revelation could be made—was made. And now, O my God, I thank thee!” He motioned to me to hand him a glass of water from the stand. When he had taken it, he continued: “You will know without my telling you that I soon after my engagement in his office found out Covert to be a villain . I knew, too, that he had, as Martha’s guardian, control over quite an extensive property; but, bad as he was at heart, I did not until lately believe him so utterly vile as not only to defraud her of her inheritance, but to make that friendless girl a victim to his licentious passions.” I started. And now, ah! I began to see the meaning of 88 Martha’s note, and its hidden allusions. Wigglesworth went on: “Martha’s affairs involve a peculiar history, extending many years back. The package on the table there was written by her father—written in prison, where he was confined for a terrible crime done in the heat of passion. That crime, with his imprisonment, and his death, could not but exercise a gloomy effect upon her; although she was an infant when they occurred. “Poor girl! the more I have learned the more I am interested about her; and this afternoon’s interview with her decided me to unburthen the whole matter, without any reserve, to you. It was for the better understanding of it all, that Martha gave me her father’s story, prepared by himself, which reached her from a trusty source, sometime since, and which she has kept, unknown to Covert. Take this packet, then Jack; but do not read it till you have leisure to weigh well what you read. Some evening let it be, when you are alone, for there is weighty stuff in it. And though you already know the particulars which are contained in it, you have perhaps a right to hear the witness of him who made you fatherless, and to know how deeply he repented and suffered for it.” Truly it was more like romance than sober life, in a dwelling in one of the streets of this matter-of-fact-city. And, after I had buttoned the manuscript in my breastpocket , I had to thump there from time to time to convince myself that I was really awake. 89 As I rose to bid him good night, Wigglesworth took my hand between his, and I felt those feeble palms...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781609385118
Related ISBN
9781609385125
MARC Record
OCLC
970693688
Pages
180
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-14
Language
English
Open Access
No
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