At this, the struggling man, like one borne to energy by the last throes of despair, gives a desperate spring, succeeds in turning his antagonist, grasps him by the throat with his left hand, and from his pocket fires a pistol with his right. The report alarms; the shrill whistle calls to the rescue; but the ball has only taken effect in the flesh of Romescos’s right arm. Quick to the moment, his arm dripping with gore from the wound, he draws his glittering dirk, and plunges it, with unerring aim, into the breast of his antagonist. The wounded man starts convulsively, as the other coolly draws back the weapon, the blood gushing forth in a livid stream. “Is not that in self-defence?” exclaims the bloody votary, turning his haggard and enraged face to receive the approval of the bystanders. The dying man, writhing under the grasp of his murderer, utters a piercing shriek. “Murdered! I’m dying! Oh, heaven! is this my last-last-last? Forgive me, Lord,—forgive me!” he gurgles; and making another convulsive effort, wrings his body from under the perpetrator of the foul deed. How tenacious of life is the dying man! He grasps the leg of a desk, raises himself to his feet, and, as if goaded with the thoughts of hell, in his last struggles staggers to the door,—discharges a second shot, vaults, as it were, into the street, and falls prostrate upon the pavement, surrounded by a crowd of eager lookers-on. He is dead! The career of Mr. M’Fadden is ended; his spirit is summoned for trial before a just God.
The murderer (perhaps we abuse the word, and should apply the more southern, term of renconterist), sits in a chair, calling for water, as a few among the crowd prepare to carry the dead body into Graspum’s slave-pen, a few squares below.
Southern sensibility may call these scenes by whatever name it will; we have no desire to change the appropriateness, nor to lessen the moral tenor of southern society. It nurtures a frail democracy, and from its bastard offspring we have a tyrant dying by the hand of a tyrant, and the spoils of tyranny serving the good growth of the Christian church. Money constructs opinions, pious as well as political, and even changes the feelings of good men, who invoke heaven’s aid against the bondage of the souls of men.
Romescos will not flee to escape the terrible award of earthly justice. Nay, that, in our atmosphere of probity, would be dishonourable; nor would it aid the purpose he seeks to gain.
A common incident shortly told.