“It is; but hasten the search.”
“Well, I must; though, to confess the truth, I’d sooner handle anything than this.”
“It is not the most pleasant thing in the world, for there is no knowing what may be the result—what creeping thing has made a home of it.”
“Don’t mention anything about it.”
Henry and Charles Holland now began to search the pockets of the clothes of the dead body, in one of which was something hard, that felt like a parcel.
“What have you got there?” said Chillingworth, as he held his lantern up so that the light fell upon the ghastly object that they were handling.
“I think it is the prize,” said Charles Holland; “but we have not got it out yet, though I dare say it won’t be long first, if this wind will but hold good for about five minutes, and keep the stench down.”
They now tore open the packet and pulled out the papers, which appeared to have been secreted upon his person.
“Be sure there are none on any other part of the body,” said Chillingworth, “because what you do now, you had better do well, and leave nothing to after thought, because it is frequently impracticable.”
“The advice is good,” said Henry, who made a second search, but found nothing.
“We had better re-bury him,” said the doctor; “it had better be done cleanly. Well, it is a sad hole for a last resting-place, and yet I do not know that it matters—it is all a matter of taste—the fashion of the class, or the particular custom of the country.”
There was but little to be said against such an argument, though the custom of the age had caused them to look upon it more as a matter of feeling than in such a philosophical sense as that in which the doctor had put it.
“Well, there he is now—shovel the earth in, Charles,” said Henry Bannerworth, as he himself set the example, which was speedily and vigorously followed by Charles Holland, when they were not long before the earth was thrown in and covered up with care, and trodden down so that it should not appear to be moved.
“This will do, I think,” said Henry.
“Yes; it is not quite the same, but I dare say no one will try to make any discoveries in this place; besides, if the rain continues to come down very heavy, why, it will wash much of it away, and it will make it look all alike.”
There was little inducement to hover about the spot, but Henry could not forbear holding up the papers to the light of the lantern to ascertain what they were.
“Are they all right?” inquired the doctor.
“Yes,” replied Henry, “yes. The Dearbrook estate. Oh! yes; they are the papers I am in want of.”
“It is singularly fortunate, at least, to be successful in securing them. I am very glad a living person has possession of them, else it would have been very difficult to have obtained it from them.”
“So it would; but now homeward is the word, doctor; and on my word there is reason to be glad, for the rain is coming on very fast now, and there is no moon at all—we had better step out.”