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Acclamations, hoarse and repellent, followed the howl of this dirge, and I hardly know which disgusted me most, the applause or the evident gusto with which the shameful crew joined in the chorus.

Palls grinned modest approbation, and rapped on the coffinlid to restore silence, but in so doing only increased the din by causing the glasses, pots, and bottles to jingle together.

“Brother Tomkins will oblige,” said Palls, and without waiting for pressure, a wretch flushed with drink shouted thus :

Coffins good and coffins strong

Will you want whene'er you die;
Be you short or be you long,
Coffin holds you by-and-bye.

Tick, tick, tack,
White or black,
Hearse and pall,

Thus end all. Ha! ha! ha!” vociferated the infernal crew. I had heard enough—too much-and angrily thrust open the door. The consternation of the assembly was complete. They started at the sight of me as if a ghost had visited them, and surely my presence there, and at that time, was to them most unexpected. Palls endeavoured to mutter some apology, but I anticipated him.

“Palls, I never thought much of you, but I had not the least idea you were such an unmitigated blackguard. What, sir! in the midst of the horrors of this fearful disease, when you, any or all of you, may be suddenly taken, do you hold your abominable orgies? And as for you creatures, I can't call you women; have you no child, nor husband, nor relative whom you may have to mourn before long, if there be mourning in you?”

Well, sir,” said Palls; "it's a very ill wind that blows nobody good. And before the cholera came things was very bad with us. We were only enjoying ourselves in our way a bit, and you know, sir, if you was on your own hook you'd be very glad to have lots to do, and plenty of money for it.”

“Lots to do and money for it! and people dying in agony right and left. But it's no use bandying words with any of you, you wouldn't value them, and you are beneath further notice. I'm very sorry we have such need for you; but look here, we want twenty coffins sent in before twelve to-morrow, and if



you don't do it without fail, I'll take care you'll do no more work for the hospital.”

Certainly, sir,” said the villainous undertaker, rubbing his hands and looking gleefully round the room, which was piled to the ceiling with articles so much and so painfully in request. “You see, sir, we has a few here, and the cellars, kitchen, and bedrooms is full of 'em. It's not only the 'orspittle as keeps me going; there is a very great demand outside as well, and I keeps a good stock accordin’.”

So glad was I to get out of the den, that I scarcely heard the completion of the sentence, and, with rapid strides, my blood being boiling, I reached the hospital. The surgeon had arrived and was in the ward, and I hastened to join him by the bedside of poor Williams.

“Humph!” said he, "pulse 140, skin clammy and perspiring, tongue cold, pupils somewhat dilated. What have you done, Mr. Thomason?"

“I ordered hot bottles to his feet, sir, and got him to bed, and gave him some brandy and water."

Brandy, sir!" said he sharply, "and the man bleeding to death! Ice would have been more like the correct thing.'

Poor Thomason coloured scarlet at this rebuke, but endeavoured, not without some show of reason, to justify himself.

“ The poor fellow was in a dead-faint, and I gave him the brandy to revive him.”

Thomason thought he had scored one; but he had better not have spoken.

“ I've no doubt you intended well,” said the surgeon superciliously; “ but you had better trusted to warmth and time and careful watching of the patient's condition, instead of administering stimulant. Syncope,* sir, is Nature's styptic. If this man had not fainted he might have died of the bleeding into his chest cavity; and the giving of brandy might have done great harm by stimulating the heart and displacing the clots in the wounded lung vessels. Besides, Mr. Thomason, you should have recollected that in these cases the lung is usually in a contracted state, and, consequently, there is more room for the blood to accumulate internally. I have no doubt there is much blood in his chest.” After this brief and severe clinical lecture, the surgeon proceeded to examine the chest, and the nature, direction, and extent of the wound.


* Fainting, or syncope, are synonymous terms,

He percussed or tapped the chest, and made out that there had been a good deal of bleeding, that there was much air escaped from the wounded lung, and that it was occupying the space between the shrivelled lung and the chest-wall. But little air had been extravasated beneath the skin, and, on the whole, Mr. seemed satisfied with the result of his examination. After having ordered appropriate treatment, he gave a favourable prognosis,* and left the hospital.

Early the next morning the night nurse hurriedly summoned me to his bedside. I was fearful lest he might be spitting blood, or have inflammation of the lung, or internal bleeding. My doubts were soon solved, as I found the poor fellow in the first writhings of cholera, cramps, and vomiting. He had been living in the infected neighbourhood, and it is probable that the shock of the injury, and his enfeebled condition, had accelerated the action of the poison. Half-a-dozen hours sufficed to take him on the road which all flesh must travel.

The coroner ordered a post-mortem examination of the body, and an inquest was summoned. As the jurymen assembled in the room set apart for these inquiries, and having to be present as the medical witness who had admitted the patient and made the autopsy, I could not but notice the appearance and behaviour of several of them.

They seemed, for the most part, gathered from the smaller tradesmen of the neighbourhood. Some, especially those who had never, or seldom served on juries, seemed puffed up with dignity and importance; others, who were old stagers in these matters, seemed ill-tempered or dejected, they thought of their business, and of the valuable time they considered themselves to be losing. “The coroner's late," said an elderly man.

“I suppose he thinks we've nothing better to do.”'

Maybe he does. But, I daresay, he's got enough to do himself. What a mighty, pompous chap his beadle is, to be



"You haven't tipped him, I gness, or you'd find him civil enough ; and, what's more, you wouldn't be pestered with more jury summonses till your subscription had run out.”

“What's this ’ere hinquest about,” said a stolid-looking juryman, who was evidently not versed in similar inquiries; ' is it another case of cholera ? I think it's most dangerous,

* Prognosis means a forecast of the probable termination of the case.

and agin the law, to bring us to this ’orspital, where we may all

get it.

And the poor fellow really did look frightened.

Cholery? No!” said another, looking surprised at his fellow-juryman's ignorance. “If it had been that, there could be no doubt why the chap died. It's a stabbing case ; and that's why we are summonsed to sit on the body."

“Sit on the body!” gasped the stolid party. “What, all of us? Oh my! and they say cawpses sometimes bust. It's horful.”

Notwithstanding the sad circumstances and surroundings, his neighbours could not suppress a smile at their fellow juryman's fatuity.

A hospital porter now came to me and said, “If you please, sir, you're wanted to make a P. Hem at once.”

“But, Hoskins, I can't leave; I'm wanted to give evidence at the inquest."

Lor, sir, the coroner won't be here just yet, the beadle says in ’arf-an-hour, mebbe, and that will give you lots of time-leastways, time enough in these busy times, sir."

After seeing the beadle, and telling him that I was required on hospital duty, and leaving word with him where I should be found when the coroner wanted me, I proceeded to the post-mortem theatre.

I was about proceeding with the examination of the body when a knock at the door arrested me. The coroner had come sooner than expected, and he and the jurymen were coming in to view the body.

“Come in,” I cried loudly. “Hoskins, open the door.”

The coroner walked to my side at the post-mortem table, the jury crept affrighted after him. Some held their handkerchiefs to their noses; others, to satisfy their consciences, put their heads round the partition, and as quickly withdrew them; and others just cast their eyes over the top of the partition and as soon withdrew them, disappearing like so many Jacks-in-thebox.

“How d'ye do, Mr.-” said the coroner addressing me. What's the cause of death? Is it the stab?"

“No, he was rallying a little from that, but was taken with cholera and died."

“Oh! do let him in, please kind gentlemen, do let my poor husband see the body? He won't be satisfied till you do,” said Guiseppe's wife, amid sobs.

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I recognised her voice, and her cries awakened sympathetic wailings from the baby at her breast.

“I've been a little detained to-day in persuading the authorities to let the accused see the body," said the coroner; "he

“ said he didn't believe Williams died of the stab, for he didn't stab hard enough, and it was a shame,” said he, “ to hang him before he himself was sure that Williams was dead. You have no objection, I presume ?”

On my assenting, he told the beadle to admit Guiseppe, who soon entered the theatre, handcuffed and between two policemen, who, however, were not holding him.

Poor fellow, he was not versed in the ways of this country, and had the idea that he would see Williams exposed to view in the mortuary, instead of at rest in his shell.

He hesitated as he approached the post-mortem table, and turned ghastly pale. He seemed to be struggling with bodily as well as mental anguish, and his face gave evidence of intense pain. After recovering slightly, he gasped—“No, No, don't remove the sheet, I cannot see him.”

They all turned away and were leaving the mortuary, and I beginning the examination, I had just commenced the incision, when an agonised scream much startled me. It came from Guiseppe, who had suddenly altered his determination, and who in a half mad state, ejaculated “Yes, Yes, that's the noise he made—that's the blood from his mouth-and that's the way he moved. Oh God! oh God !” and fell heavily back dead !

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Reader, the cause of Guiseppe's sudden death was shock acting on a fatty heart. His great fright arose from causes which are understood by medical men. In introducing the knife, the front bone of the chest was pressed upon, bloody froth was expelled from the lungs and issued from the mouth, and in so doing a gurgling sound was made. The sudden movements of the limbs were due to the irritability of the muscles, which continues for some little time in patients dead of cholera; and you may, perhaps, imagine the effect such a sight would make on you if unaccustomed to witness it.

His poor wife, sad woman! little knew what would come of her urgent request to let her husband see Williams's body. But in this instance Providence was kind, for in a day or two the sorrowing, broken-down woman and her miserable and innocent infant were attacked with cholera and died.

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