“At length some one did come in, and I remarked I had been there all the evening and had not played. I had an invitation to play with him, which ended, by a little sleight of hand, in my favour; and on that I had calculated as much as on any good fortune I might meet. The person I played with observed it not, and, when we left off playing, I had some six or seven pounds in pocket. This, to me, was a very great sum; and, the moment I could decently withdraw myself, I ran off home.
“I was fearful of the scene that awaited me. I expected something; worse than I had yet seen. Possibly Lizzy might be angry, and scold as well as complain. I therefore tapped at the door gently, but heard no one answer; but of this I took no notice, as I believed that they might be, and were, most probably, fast asleep. I had provided myself with a light, and I therefore opened the door, which was not fastened.
“‘Lizzy!’ said I, ‘Lizzy!’ There was no answer given, and I paused. Everything was as still as death. I looked on the bed—there lay my wife with her clothes on.
“‘Lizzy! Lizzy!’ said I. But still she did not answer me.
“‘Well,’ said I, ‘she sleeps sound;’ and I walked towards the bed, and placed my hand upon her shoulder, and began to shake her, saying, as I did so,—
“‘Lizzy! Lizzy! I’m come home.’ But still no answer, or signs of awaking.
“I went on the other side of the bed to look at her face, and some misgivings overtook me. I trembled much. She lay on the bed, with her back towards the spot where I stood.
“I came towards her face. My hand shook violently as I endeavoured to look at her. She had her eyes wide open, as if staring at me.
“‘Lizzy,’ said I. No answer was returned. I then placed my hand upon her cheek. It was enough, and I started back in great horror. She was dead!
“This was horror itself. I staggered back and fell into a chair. The light I placed down, Heaven knows how or why; but there I sat staring at the corpse of my unfortunate wife. I can hardly tell you the tremendous effect this had upon me. I could not move. I was fascinated to the spot. I could not move and could not turn.”
* * * * *
“It was morning, and the rays of the sun illumined the apartment; but there sat I, still gazing upon the face of my unfortunate wife, I saw, I knew she was dead; but yet I had not spoken, but sat looking at her.
“I believe my heart was as cold as she was; but extreme horror and dread had dried up all the warm blood in my body, and I hardly think there was a pulsation left. The thoughts of my child never once seemed to cross my mind. I had, however, sat there long—some hours before I was discovered, and this was by the landlady.
“I had left the door open behind me, and she, in passing down, had the curiosity to peep, and saw me sitting in what she thought to be a very strange attitude, and could hear no sounds.