Mr. Balch eagerly unlocked the trunk, and there, sure enough, lay the long-sought-for and important document.
“I knew it would be found at last. I always told Walters so; and now,” said he, exultingly, “see my predictions are verified.”
McCloskey seemed anxious to atone for the past by making an ample confession. He told them all he knew of Mr. Stevens’s present circumstances—how his property was situated, and every detail necessary for their guidance. Then his confession was sworn to and witnessed; and the dying man addressed himself to the affairs of the next world, and endeavoured to banish entirely from his mind all thoughts of this.
After a life passed in the exercise of every Christian virtue—after a lengthened journey over its narrow stony pathway, whereon temptations have been met and triumphed over—where we have struggled with difficulties, and borne afflictions without murmur or complaint, cheering on the weary we have found sinking by the wayside, comforting and assisting the fallen, endeavouring humbly and faithfully to do our duty to God and humanity—even after a life thus passed, when we at last lie down to die the most faithful and best may well shrink and tremble when they approach the gloomy portals of death. At such an hour memory, more active than every other faculty, drags all the good and evil from the past and sets them in distinct array before us. Then we discover how greatly the latter exceeds the former in our lives, and how little of our Father’s work we have accomplished after all our toils and struggles. ’Tis then the most devoted servant of our common Master feels compelled to cry, “Mercy! O my Father!—for justice I dare not ask.”
If thus the Christian passes away—what terror must fill the breast of one whose whole life has been a constant warfare upon the laws of God and man? How approaches he the bar of that awful Judge, whose commands he has set at nought, and whose power he has so often contemned? With a fainting heart, and tongue powerless to crave the mercy his crimes cannot deserve!
McCloskey struggled long with death—died fearfully hard. The phantoms of his victims seemed to haunt him in his dying hour, interposing between him and God; and with distorted face, clenched hands, and gnashing teeth, he passed away to his long account.
From the bedside of the corpse Mr. Balch went—late as it was—to the office of the chief of police. There he learned, to his great satisfaction, that the governor was in town; and at an early hour the next morning he procured a requisition for the arrest of Mr. Stevens, which he put into the hands of the man with the keen grey eyes for the purpose of securing the criminal; and with the result of his efforts the reader is already acquainted.
And the last.
With such celerity did Mr. Balch work in behalf of his wards, that he soon had everything in train for the recovery of the property.