“Good God!” and the old negro shuddered as he bent down over the prostrate form before him.
“Don’t you know me, Peter?”
Peter bent closer down.
“Mass’ Mark Abrams, is dis you? What’s de matter wid you? Who did it? Who killed you? Tell me; tell me for God’s sake.”
“Listen to me, Peter; listen. I am dying-shot in the breast with a pistol.”
“Who did it? Who did it? For Heaven’s sake, who did it?”
“No one, Peter; be calm; listen to me. It was accidental. I had in the inside pocket of my coat a small pistol. In passing through here about eleven o’clock, walking hastily homeward from Crispin’s, I stumbled by some chance, and as I fell the pistol was discharged and has killed me. Here, take the pistol quick, and run for my father. Be quick, man, quick, that I may, if possible, say farewell. Take the pistol with you. I am not strong enough to reach it. Be quick.”
Horrified, the old carrier groped on the ground for it, and accidentally dipped his hand into the pool of blood near the wounded man.
“The devil? I hate blood? Dis is bad, bad, bad! Mass’ Mark! Mass’ Mark!” No reply.
“Mass’ Mark! I b’lieve he’s dead. I feared so. Mass’ Mark!” Still no reply.
“O Lordy! I’ll get away from here. De poor child’s dead, an’ if I’m seen ’bout here dey may ‘cuse me of murder. I can’t go an’ tell nuffin. Ole Peter’s ’fraid. I must git away;” and gathering up his papers and the blanket again, he left the scene of the tragedy as rapidly as his disabled limbs would allow, feeling as if some fearful ghost were in close pursuit. Unconsciously, he carried the pistol with him, and was many squares away before he sufficiently collected his bewildered and terrified faculties, to observe the deadly weapon in his grasp. “What should he do with it?” at once flashed through his brain, and as the brightening daylight prevented his returning it to its place beside the victim, he resolved to keep it. He dared not cast it from him.
As old Peter was too much frightened to reveal the truth concerning the tragedy, he resolved at once to keep the secret forever within his own breast, and as he was guilty of no crime, he had no fears of the mystery being revealed. So he went on in the advancing morning, on his long, tedious round of duty, and no single reader that day missed the “Courier” or suspected the secret that lay hidden in the carrier’s breast. A few hours after the columns of the “Courier” had been carefully scanned, on this January morning, an “Extra” flashed from the press, and flooded the Queen City with consternation and many hearts with woe and lamentation. It ran thus:
“Fearful tragedy! Mysterious assassination! Bridal day turned into a day of mourning and bitter disappointment!