What a merry happy party it was—how they all seemed to enjoy themselves—and how they all laughed, when the bride essayed to cut the cake, and could not get the knife through the icing—and how the young girls put pieces away privately, that they might place them under their pillows to dream upon! What a happy time they had!
Father Banks enjoyed himself amazingly; he eat quantities of stewed terrapin, and declared it the best he ever tasted. He talked gravely to the old people—cheerfully and amusingly to the young; and was, in fact, having a most delightful time—when a servant whispered to him that there was a person in the entry who wished to see him immediately.
“Oh dear!” he exclaimed to Mr. Balch, “I was just congratulating myself that I should have one uninterrupted evening, and you see the result—called off at this late hour.”
Father Banks followed the servant from the room, and inquired of the messenger what was wanted.
“You must come to the hospital immediately, sir; the man with the typhus-fever—you saw him yesterday—he’s dying; he says he must see you—that he has something important to confess. I’m to go for a magistrate as well.”
“Ah!” said Father Banks, “you need go no further, Alderman Balch is here—he is quite competent to receive his depositions.”
“I’m heartily glad of it,” replied the man, “it will save me another hunt. I had a hard time finding you. I’ve been to your house and two or three other places, and was at last sent here. I’ll go back and report that you are coming and will bring a magistrate with you.”
“Very good,” rejoined Father Banks, “do so. I will be there immediately.” Hastening back to the supper room, he discovered Mr. Balch in the act of helping himself to a brandy peach, and apprised him of the demand for his services.
“Now, Banks,” said he, good-humouredly, “that is outrageous. Why did you not let him go for some one else? It is too bad to drag me away just when the fun is about to commence.” There was no alternative, however, and Mr. Balch prepared to follow the minister to the bedside of McCloskey.
When they arrived at the hospital, they found him fast sinking—the livid colour of his face, the sunken glassy eyes, the white lips, and the blue tint that surrounded the eyes and mouth told at once the fearful story. Death had come. He was in full possession of his faculties, and told them all. How Stevens had saved him from the gallows—and how he agreed to murder Mr. Garie—of his failure when the time of action arrived, and how, in consequence, Stevens had committed the deed, and how he had paid him time after time to keep his secret.
“In my trunk there,” said he, in a dying whisper,—“in my trunk is the will. I found it that night amongst his papers. I kept it to get money out of his children with when old Stevens was gone. Here,” continued he, handing his key from beneath the pillow, “open my trunk and get it.”