“Hastily I placed my hand upon the region of the heart, and to my great delight I found it still warm. I drew off the cap that covered the face, and then, for the first time, my eyes rested upon the countenance of him who now calls himself—Heaven only knows why—Sir Francis Varney.”
“Good God!” said Henry, “are you certain?”
“It may have been some other rascal like him,” said the admiral.
“No, I am quite sure now; I have, as I have before mentioned to you, tried to get out of my own conviction upon the subject, but I have been actually assured that he is the man by the very hangman himself.”
“Go on, go on! Your tale certainly is a strange one, and I do not say it either to compliment you or to cast a doubt upon you, but, except from the lips of an old, and valued friend, such as you yourself are, I should not believe it.’
“I am not surprised to hear you say that,” replied the doctor; “nor should I be offended even now if you were to entertain a belief that I might, after all, be mistaken.”
“No, no; you would not be so positive upon the subject, I well know, if there was the slightest possibility of an error.”
“Indeed I should not.”
“Let us have the sequel, then.”
“It is this. I was most anxious to effect an immediate resuscitation, if it were possible, of the hanged man. A little manipulation soon convinced me that the neck was not broken, which left me at once every thing to hope for. The hangman was more prudent than I was, and before I commenced my experiments, he said,—
“’Doctor, have you duly considered what you mean to do with this fellow, in case you should be successful in restoring him to life?’
“‘Not I,’ said I.
“‘Well,’ he said, ’you can do as you like; but I consider that it is really worth thinking of.’
“I was headstrong on the matter, and could think of nothing but the success or the non-success, in a physiological point of view, of my plan for restoring the dead to life; so I set about my experiments without any delay, and with a completeness and a vigour that promised the most completely successful results, if success could at all be an ingredient in what sober judgment would doubtless have denominated a mad-headed and wild scheme.
“For more than half an hour I tried in vain, by the assistance of the hangman, who acted under my directions. Not the least symptom of vitality presented itself; and he had a smile upon his countenance, as he said in a bantering tone,—
“’I am afraid, sir, it is much easier to kill than to restore their patients with doctors.’
“Before I could make him any reply, for I felt that his observation had a good amount of truth in it, joined to its sarcasm the hanged man uttered a loud scream, and opened his eyes.
“I must own I was myself rather startled; but I for some moments longer continued the same means which had produced such an effect, when suddenly he sprang up and laid hold of me, at the same time exclaiming,—