The Death Warrant
|The mirror, which hung above the dressing bureau, reflected the handsome form of Col. Fitz-Cowles. It must
be confessed that the Colonel looked decidedly interesting, as standing before the mirror, in the glare of the
morning sun, he surveyed his form for the last time, ere he sallied forth on Chesnut street. His figure, with its
broad chest and tapering waist was enveloped in a close-fitting overcoat of dark cloth, which, falling open
along the breast, disclosed his black scarf, gathered over his shirt front with a plain gold pin, and tastefully
disposed within the collar of his glossy coat and satin vest, whose jet black hues were in harmony with the other
portions of his attire.
The dark visage of the Colonel, relieved by long curling locks of jet-black hair, was surmounted by an
elegant hat, remarkable for its conical crown and width of brim. This was the much admired and very aristocratic
‘Fitz-Cowles’ hat,’ worn by all the distinguished bloods of the Quaker City. Introduced by the gallant Colonel,
it soon became the rage, and was at the time of which we write, the standing test of fashion and elegance among
the exquisites of Chesnut street.
"Dim—" said the Colonel, gently waving the gold-headed cane, which he held within the white-kid glove of
his right hand—"Are they all gone?"
"All turned out, Massa. De sarvants tumble ‘em down stairs more an half-hour ago—"
"Dim—" continued the Colonel, impregnating his snow-white handkerchief with an additional scent of
patchoully*—"What’s the damage?"
"De looking-glass ‘bove de mantel broke in tousan’ pieces—one ob de winder curtains torn down. De
berry debbil kicked up all ober de room—"
"Buzby—" resumed the Colonel, passing a comb lightly through the locks of his jet-black hair—"How did
you like it?"
"Quite recherché. But won’t they sue you for their various?"
"Let them sue and be hanged! The amount I owe them, applied in the proper way, would command a great
influence in Court. Why man I’ve got the price of seven judges, ten juries and some score of lawyers, in my
pocket. These things are all for sale—"
"Ha! ha! This is libellous! Hello! There’s a knock at the door—"
"See who it is, Dim—"
Dim opened the door at the extreme end of the bed-chamber. He gazed for an instant through the aperture,
and then closing the door with a sudden movement, he came running to his Master’s side, his eyes dilating vith
surprise and his tawny face, pale as Fitz-Cowles’s white kid gloves.
"What in the deuce, is the matter Dim?"
"Oh, Golly Massa! Oh Lor! Oh de debbil!" cried the Creole, dancing about the room.
"Shall I knock you down with the chair you scoundrel? Or would you like to be held out of a fourth-story
window, by the heels, again?"
Dim approached his master’s side, and whispered in his ear.
The Colonel’s face grew suddenly pale, and a blasphemous oath escaped from his lips.
"Buzby, go into the next room—" he cried harshly, with the same tone, he would use, in getting rid of a
troublesome dog—"Be quick. I have a visiter, whom I must see alone. Why do you stand there, staring in my
face like an idiot? Begone I say—I must be alone—"
Buzby Poodle, disappeared through the Saloon door, with a look of malignant anger, that boded no good
to his friend, Colonel Fitz-Cowles.
"Open the door. D’ye hear Dim?" shouted the Colonel, as his face grew paler, and his dark eye, emitted a
clear flashing glance, that betokened powerful though suppressed emotion. "Show our visiter in—"
Dim opened the door, at the end of the bed-chamber, farthest from the windows, and the visiter entered. It
must be confessed that the surprise which the mere utterance of his name occasioned, might be easily explained,
when the singular appearance of the newcomer, was taken into consideration.
A short, thickset, little man, dressed in a suit of glossy black cloth, advanced from the open door. His face,
which from its remarkable length, gave you the idea of a horse’s head, affixed to the remnant of a human body,
seemed to lay upon his heart, while his shoulders arose on either side, as high as his ears, and his back
protruding in a shapeless hump, was visible above the outline of his head.
His face, it is true, from its extreme length, and the peculiar manner, in which it seemed to lay on his breast,
might have appeared distorted and deformed, yet were the features perfectly regular, the nose a decided
aquiline, the mouth well-proportioned and indicative of firmness, the chin, full and round, while the high forehead,
with the dark eyebrows, over-arched two large and brilliant eyes, whose intense lustre beaming from a face,
marked by a clear, healthy complexion, gave the beholder the idea, that he beheld a supernatural, rather than a
Should the latter portion of this description, appear overstrained, the reader will remember, that the
diminutive stature of the strange visiter, the hump on his back, and the manner in which his face, seemed to rest
on his chest, all gave additional effect to the expression of his face and eyes. ‘Jew,’ was written on his face as
clearly and distinctly as though he had fallen asleep at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, in the days of
Solomon, the rake and moralist; and after a nap of three thousand years, had waked up in the Quaker City, in a
state of perfect and Hebraic preservation.
"You are, here, are you?" whispered Fitz-Cowles in a tone of ungovernable rage—"Why is this? Why leave
your hiding place in broad daylight?"
"I’ave comsh bekos I vanted to comsh—" said the Jew, calmly, as he folded his hands across his breast.
"You have, have you?" whispered Fitz-Cowles, as the gleam of rage, brightened in his dark eyes—"Do you
know—you dog, you miserable dog—that I’ve a great notion to give you a taste of this—"
And as he spoke, quick as thought, he flung open the breast of his overcoat, and drawing the Bowie knife,
from a secret pocket, he brandished it above the head of the Jew, with a look of ungovernable hatred.
"Puts away te carving-knifes—Puts away te carving-knifes—" said the humpback, with a bitter, though
scarcely perceptable sneer—"You vill not hurts noboty."
"Perhaps you will tell me, why you have left your hiding place! In broad day, with all the police at your
heels? Ha! Ha! This is delightful! Curse that Devil-Bug—" he muttered as he strode to the window—"How
could he have let this dog escape?"
"I tells you vy I’ave left dat nashty plashe—" said the Hebrew in the coolest manner imaginable—"Bekos it
vos a nashty plashe! Bekos dese leetle hand do all te vorks—andt maybe after all, you reaps te profit. I mosh
hide in dat hole—viles you valksh Cheshnut Streets? Vos dat de kontraksh? You keep your pargain, vill yous?"
"And what was that bargain?" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles again facing the Jew.
"Ven te tings vos done, you vos to gif me ten tousand tollars in goldt. I vos to sail for Europes. Vot have
you done? Left me to rots among roppers and tiefs, viles you walksh Cheshnut Streets! Got-tam!"
The Jew sate down, or rather fixed himself on the sofa, and looked up calmly into the flushed countenance
"Well, well, Von Gelt, let’s shake hands, and talk the matter over—"
"We may talksh as mosh as we pleashes, but we tont shake handts—"
"Just as you like. Well, Judas—is that your first name Von Gelt?"
"Supposh it vos my naturs? Vonder how long afore the handsome Curnels would be—Father Moses—I
"So you threaten, me, do you Gabriel? Ha!-ha! This is amusing. May I ask what you propose to do?"
"To morrow mornings I vill take te carsh for New Yorksh. Nex tay I vill sail for Europes. To tay, you will
gif me, ten tousandt tollars—"
"But Judas—that is Gabriel—Judas for short, you know? You must remember that I have not ten thousand
dollars in my possession—"
"Veres is te ole hair trunksh?"
"But Gabriel—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles in a conciliating tone, as he seated himself, beside the table
opposite the Jew—"But Gabriel, you know, that it is impossible for us to have this money, for months to come.
The sovreigns and the notes, might be recognized at once. It is better to wait a little while and make sure of the
whole sum beyond a chance of detection. Pen and ink, Dim."
"Meanviles te poleesh ranshack Monks-halls, andt fint me, hit avay among tiefs and roppers. No—No! I
vill bear tish no longers. Tish tay I mosh ave ten tousandt tollars, or—or—"
"Or—or—" echoed Fitz-Cowles as he scrawled a few words on a sheet of gilt-edged note paper—"Or—
or—You was about to observe—"
"May be I can git ten tousandt tolars, someveres else—" said the Jew with a meaning look.
"Ah—ha! You grow humorous, Gabriel—" observed Fitz-Cowles with a smile—"Please deliver this little
note to Devil-Bug if you should chance to see him again, before you start for Europe. Will you Gabby?"
"Ha! vot is tish!" exclaimed the hump-backed Jew, as his eye glanced over the note, which read as follows
‘Devil-Bug—Our friend leaves us to-morrow. It is all right. Aid him as far as you can,
in anything that concerns his departure.
"Den you conshents?" exclaimed Gabriel, with a smile of triumph—"You vill gif me te monish?"
"Of course, of course. You know I would never refuse you anything, Gabriel. You must be careful though,
Gabriel, with the money. Mighty careful—"
"Vot a fool I vos, ever to part mit it!" muttered Gabriel—"I hadt it all in mine own handts won time—"
"Excuse me one moment, Gabriel, while I write a note to my jeweller—" said Fitz-Cowles, with a pleasant
smile. "Here, Dim take this ring and this note down to Melchoir, the Jeweller, in Fourth street near Chesnut.
Hurry back, d’ye hear?"
As he seized the note and folded it, Fitz-Cowles gazed smilingly in the face of the Hebrew. But when he
took the diamond ring from his finger, and handed it to Dim, with one quick flashing glance of his dark eyes, the
smile deepened into an agreeable laugh, and Fitz-Cowles looked, for all the world, like a man whose mind is
unburdened by a single care. And this, while his life and fortune hung upon the note which he handed to the
"Dim—you understand? This ring and note are for the Jeweller in Fourth below Chesnut?"
"Yes, Massa—" answered Dim, with a stolid and imperturbable expression of countenance. "I’ll be back d’
That note was the Death Warrant of the Jew.
Thus it read:
Devil-Bug——When the Jew comes back to Monk-hall he will have about his
person ten thousand dollars. You can pay yourself for the care and trouble you have
had with him. The ring will tell you what I mean.
"Now, Gabby—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles, as Dim hastened from the room—"You can amuse yourself by
looking out of the window, while I get you the money."
As the handsome Algernon, stooping to the floor, drew the hair trunk from beneath the sofa, Gabriel, the
Jew, rose from his seat and advanced toward the window.
"Dere’s noting like improvin’ vons times—" he muttered, as he seized an object, which lay exposed on the
top of the dressing bureau. "Father Moses! He vill swear ven he misshes dis ting—"
"Ten notes of a thousand dollars each—" murmured Fitz-Cowles, locking the trunk again—"Much good
will they do him! Devil-Bug is such an amiable man!"
"Now I vill pegone!" exclaimed Gabriel, hastily concealing the notes within the breast of his overcoat. "Dish
countries is too hot to holdt me."
He strode to the door, and looked back at Fitz-Cowles, as he uttered this pleasant good-bye.
"Farewells! Ven ve meetsh agin may ve pe in betterish spiritsh—Goot byesh!"
He disappeared, and in a moment was heard passing hurriedly along the entry, without the bedchamber.
"Go!" shrieked Fitz-Cowles, the moment he had disappeared—"Go, and to your DEATH!"
He paced hurriedly along the room, his brow darkening over with a heavy frown, and his eye blazing with
"Ha! The door leading into the saloon is ajar—could anyone have listened to our conversation?" he pushed
the door open and glanced around the spacious apartment as he spoke—"Ha, ha! There is no one in this room!
What a fool I am to fancy a listener near. And yet that fellow, Buzby—but he’s too cowardly to betray a man.
He might muster courage to betray a lame nigger woman, or a sick rag picker—but a man—never!"
He closed the door, leading into the saloon, as he spoke.
And as the door was closed, the form of a man stole softly from the folds of the silken window curtains, and
Buzby Poodle stood disclosed in the light. His face was very pale, and his hands trembled like pendulums, very
much out of order.
"Here’s a secret worth a fortune—" he exclaimed, as he passed through the saloon door, into the winding
entry of the fourth story—"Betray a rag picker, indeed! Ho! Ho! What if I betray a forger?"
Meanwhile Fitz-Cowles strode swiftly along the floor of his bedchamber, his face and manner, betraying the
wild excitement which possessed his soul.
"If I manage my cards right I am safe! Ha! ha! That Jew got up some very neat letters from my father the
Earl of Lyndeswold, Lincolnshire, England! To give the d——l his due, the Jew managed these letters with a
masterly hand. English post marks and all! I showed them to Dora, together with a parchment containing our
pedigree—the Lyndeswolds of Lyndeswold! I have used the Jew, and now—egad!—he must retire from the
scene! By next Monday morning I can arrange every thing! And then, as from the decks of a steamer bound for
England, I gaze upon the receding shores of America, while Dora smiles in my face, and the cash rattles in my
pocket, then—ha, ha, ha!—how I shall laugh at these fools of the Quaker City!"
|Next week we visit another character in her privacy,
someone even more dangerous than Fitz-Cowles or his hunchbacked visitor,
someone whose heart is as cold as the stone of her namesake
Dora Livingstone at Home