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The New Bloomfield, Pa. times. (New Bloomfield, Pa.) 1877-188?, December 27, 1881, Image 1

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90069164/1881-12-27/ed-1/seq-1/

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NO. 52.
11 w
An Independent Family Newspaper,
f 1.30 PKU VKAK, PONTAGE Fltr.1
To uborlbeM reildlns In this cooktt, where
we Imve no postnKO to pv. a dlswiiiHt of 2S cents
from the above terms will be made If payment Is
mnile In advance.
" Advertising ratos furnished upon appllca
Pretty Jane and the Pedlar.
THUS assuming a cheerfulness which
she did not feel, she affectionately
klsBed tbe cold cheek of the trembling
girl, and leading her into the little cham
ber, begged her to try to sleep. But as
she closed the door, she looked back, and
saw that Jane had seated herself ou the
floor beneath the window, and was rock
ing herself to and fro, with her head
bent down to ber knees, in the moon
light which glimmered through the half
drawn curtains into the room.
The widow then retired to ber own
apartment, but several hours passed and
Bbe was still awake, for ever and anon a
moan, distinctly audible through the
thin board partition, reached her ear.
About midnight, however, she had sunk
into a slight slumber, when a shriek of
thrilling sharpness aroused her. She
sprang from her bed, and opened the
communicating door between the two
chambers. Jane still sat where she had
left her, with her dress unchanged, ex
cept that she had thrown the scarf over
her flaxen curls, and held It closely fold
ed upon her breast. She made no reply
to tbe hurried inquiry of her foster
mother, but with one of her pale, slen
der Angers she pointed convulsively to
the window.
The widow looked cautiously out. "I
see nothing, dear," Bald she ; "you must
have fallen asleep and been dreaming of
Something to alarm you. There is no
unusual sound stay I think a shadow
did pasB along the porch, but It may
have been the wind stirring the long
. branches of the willow, yet the night J,s
calm. What was It you saw Jane V"
But though the cold sweat glistened
ou the forehead of Jane, and her teeth
chattered as if with an ague, Bbe return
ed no answer.
"You should not allow yourgelf to be
0 so overcome with fear, dear child," re
sumed Widow Slade; "we are so close
to the road that it would be strange If
stragglers should not be sometimes
tempted to look in upon us. Yet our
bolts and bars have always kept us safe
from tbe ill-intentioned, if any such
came near ub, and they would be suffl
clentnow. But come, you must sit here
no longer. I will draw the curtains
close, and watch by you till your fright
is over."
She unwound the scarf from the shoul
ders of Jane, and laid it in a drawer,
and then, after removing the remainder
of her dress, without any assistance of
her own, led her in the same passive
ness to her bed.
The widow returned to hei own cham
ber no more that night. She lighted a
candle and placed it at a distance from
the bed, but she could see by it, when
she took her seat at the bedside, that the
tears were rolling fast from between the
closed eyelids of Jane. Still she could
elicit no explanation, for there was noth
ing to satisfy her In the few unconnected
words which were always returned to
her anxlouB questions. Toward morn
ing she ceased to weep, her countenance
grew more haggard, Bhe gesticulated
wildly, and in Indescribable alarm, her
foster mother despatched a message, by
the first passing neighbor, to the physi
cian of the settlement. Hours, however,
must have elapsed before the summons
could be answered, and the widow, who
was skilled in simples, went out to se
lect, from ber garden stores, such medi
cinal berbs as she believed efficacious in
nervous disorders, for of that nature she
presumed Jane's malady to be. She was
arrested in her task by the abrupt en
trance of a neighbor, a carpenter, who
had been employed In the repairs of the
"Let me sit down, neighbor Slude,"
said he, grasping bar of trellis, and
throwing himself on a border of myrtle ;
"I have just seen a sight that makes me
as weak as a child."
"Why, Davis, man, you are 111, come
Into the house, or let me bring you out a
bowl of water," said tbe widow, with
kind solicitude.
"No, no, stop, my breath has come
back again and I can tell you now ; but
first have you heard nothing from the
old bouse yonder r"' poiuting to the par
sonage. "Certainly not ; what was there to be
heard V"
"It's an unlucky bouse, and I have
seen in it what will go fur to. break the
heart of poor Jane. I was a boy when I
saw her mother lying there, stiff and
frozen, but the sight was nothing like
this frightful frightful I I went after
sunrise to take away some tools I had
left in the kitchen, and not knowing
who bad the key, I thought I would get
In at one of the cellar windows I bad
myself hung the wooden shutter so that
it could be opened from the outside. I
jumped down, and stumbled on what I
supposed to be a log lying against the
wall. To save myself from falling I
stretched down my hand 'toward the
ground, and it struck upon the clay-cold
face of a dead body I
"But hear tbe worst, bear the worst I "
he proceeded, after the interruption of
Widow Blade's loud ejaculation of hor
ror; "it was our young minister it was
Lewis Walton I don't give way now,
neighbor Slade ;" and he grasped her
arm, for her limbs seemed to be failing
her; "you have seen sorrowful and ter
rible sights in your time, and all your
strength is now needed to keep up the
heart of that poor young creature who
will feel the blow the heaviest. I could
hardly believe my own senses, but the
light came in strongly at the window I
bad left open, and there could be no
mistake. I hurried up the stairs, and
saw through the entry, and on the door
step, daubs of clotted blood. He must
have beenjmurdered brutally murdered
and the body must have been carried
through the house, though tbe door was
locked and the key gone good Heav
ens 1 can that be Jane, and could she
have heard me V"
The livid face of Jane was protruded
through the window,' with eyes blood
shot, and a ghastly smile upon the lips.
"Go in, Jane, go to yourbed, darling,"
said the widow, prompted to suppress
her own emotion .by tbe necessity of
using all her firmness of mind for the
support of her hapless ward, whose sing
ular aliment she briefly described to the
The man listened with something of
awe. "Depend upon it, neighbor," said
he, "she has had warning of this ; it is
not a mere girl's sorrow after a lover she
expects to see in a week ; she has had
some token of bis death perhaps Bbe
has seen his spirit. There must have
been some reason for her scream in tbe
night, and what living thing would have
frightened her speechless V"
He arose to carry his startling tale fur
ther, and as he lifted his bat which he
had thrown upon the myrtle vines, he
saw beneath it a large key pressingdown
the dark-green leaves. "Why, here's
one of the strangest things of all, neigh,
bor Slade," said he ; "can you tell me
how this came here r"
"I cannot, indeed ; to my knowledge
I never saw the key before. It does not
belong here, for our doors all fasten with
bolts and screw latches."
"It is the key of tbe parsonage," said
the carpenter. "I have had it in my
house day after day, since I undertook
the repairs, and I know it well. This
leather loop I tied in the ring with my
own hands ; it was but yesterday I part
ed with it, and then I gave it up to
Lewis Walton himself."
"And this, is it yours?" asked the
widow, pointing to a handkerchief which
hung by a slight hold on a bush against
the fence, as If it had accidentally fallen
upon it.
"That i no, a man's silk handker
chief don't you know it V"
"No more than I did the key ; it is
new and unhemmed, yet it has been
"There is blood upon it I" exclaimed
the man ; "those dark, stiff spots are
blood ! It must have come here with tbe
key ; it looks as If you bad been in dan
ger too, neighbor Slade; the villains
must have dropped the things as they
climbed the fence, for you keep your
gate locked, I believe."
The widow shuddered. ' "Then Jane's
alarm In the night may not have been
from her own fancy," said she ; "there,
take the handkerchief, Davis, along
with the key. You may be able to do
more with such proofs than I could."
The ill tidings Hew as only such can
fly. The whole country rouud was filled
with grief and horror. Hundreds col
lected at the parsonage through mingled
curiosity and regard for tbe memory of
the unfortunate young pastor, and
among the crowds that constantly filled
the rond, poor Jane received a full pro
portion of sympathy and commiseration.
The story of ber strange malady was
soon circulated with tbe customary
amount of exaggeration, and was specu
lated upon by many with superstitious
wonder. She remained in her chamber
during the day, and ber foster mother
remarked that tbe unusual bustle in tbe
house, occasioned by tbe continual coin
ing and going of tbe kind-hearted and
the inquisitive, failed to draw from her
a single question, rational or otherwise.
The only words that escaped her lips
were the monotonous "Oh, nothing,
nothing 1" uttered with a melancholy
wildness that made the listeners tremble.
Night came, and once more alone, the
widow collected her thought, and at
tempted to devise some means of im
pressing the mind so mysteriously im
paired. She drew a little table to the
bedside, and taking down from its shelf
the old bible which she had taught Jane
to treasure as the most precious relio of
her departed mother, she commenced
reading in a low, calm voice, such pas
sages as, in her lively faith, she trusted
could not strike ineffectually upon her
ear. Whilst she was thus earnestly en
gaged, she heard the slow tramp of an
approaching horse and then the sound
of heavy footsteps around the hou Be.
She paused to listen. A door faintly
creaked, and she saw the eyes of Jane,
which had appeared fixed on vacancy,
dilate to an unnatural fullness, and sud
denly from her pal Id lips burst forth the
same thrilling scream, that the night
before had aroused her from her pillow.
She looked round in affright, and beheld
her son close behind her.
"Hush, mother 1" he exclaimed, with
rapid utterance, "you must hide me, and
instantly ; you refused me money yes
terday to pay my debts, and now the
constables are at my heels. Try to do
something to serve me now."
He had opened the door of his moth
er's chamber, and was about to pass into
it, he turned quickly and threw himself
under the bed on which the young suf
ferer lay, muttering, "If there's a safe
place, it Is here."
Then came a loud rap on the door, and
to the tremulous answer of the widow,
Mr. Merrill, the sheriff of the county,
presented himself.
"Do not let me alarm you, good Mis
tress Slade," said he, after a brief saluta
tion bespeaking an old filend; "but
circumstances, which I will afterward
explain, render it proper that I should
search your premises. There is an out
building connected with your house
which I wish to look Into. Will you
furnish me with lights, and, if not in
convenient, oblige me by leading the
way t There is an inside door, is there
not V this open one, I believe ;" and as
pale and silent she complied with his
request, he added, kindly, "pray let me
assure you, you have no cause for per
sonal apprehension of any kind."
The out house alluded to was one ad
joining the main building, serving, in
the lower part, as a woodshed, and
above, as a repository for various kinds
of lumber. The sheriff looked carefully
about the neatly arranged woodpiles, and
then, after ascending the steep Btairs, as
carefully among the spinning-wheels,
the reels, the barrels and bundles, and
other articles which generally comprise
the store of a farm-house garret.
"All appears as it should be," remark
ed Mr, Merrill : "I presume you have
observed nothing which would indicate
there having been an unusual occupant
in the place r" .
"Nothing, excepting this," returned
the trembling woman ; "these bundles
of wool and flax have always been kept
hanging to the Joists 1"
"And now they are laid together on
the floor, as if they had been so arranged
for a bed," rejoined Mr. Merrill, turning
the bundles over, but without finding
any thing extraneous among them, and
as they ascended the Btairs and entered
the sitting-room he continued; "to ex I
plain the reason of my visit, which
seems to have agitated you ' much more
than I could have apprehended, it is
this. After the attempt I made during
tbe forenoon to investigate tbe horrible
occurrence at the parsonage, I rode on
toward N , and from a neighbor of
yours, whom t chanced to meet on his
return from there, I learned that as he
passed this in tbe middle of tbe nlghton
bis way to market, be bad seen a man
climb into the window of the woodshed.
That circumstance, in connection with
the finding of the key and the handker
chief, induced me to believe that their
possessor had made your premises a
place of concealment for a longer or
shorter time, unaccountable as it would
seem that he should do so, and I regard
ed it as my duty to come hither without
delay, and make an examination which
would satisfy me as to whether he had
left further proofs behind him. Several
persons of the neighborhood, who were
present when he made Lis communica
tion, have accompanied me to know the
result, and, at a notion of their own,
that he might have biddeu himself in
the loft, waiting for the cover of the
night to travel further, have stationed
themselves around the house to stop
him if I should disturb him in bis stolen
The sheriff paused as he laid his hand
on the door, and looked back to inquire,
"How is Jane, our poor, Pretty Jane Y
have you seen any change in her for the
better y"
"None in the least."
"Poor child 1 poor child 1 her singular
illness has undoubtedly some relation to
this deplorable transaction, and my
strongest hope of detecting tbe perpetra
tor rests upon her recovery." He took
leave, and after the tramp of his horse
and the voices of his companions had
died in the distance, George Blade reap
peared from his place cf concealment.
"So then, I have had my alarm for
nothing ;" said he, with a forced laugh ;
"but when a man has got himself into
difficulties it makes him cowardly, and
I'm very well satisfied not to have been
the object of pursuit. But you must
give me something to eat, for I am again
in a hurry to be gone."
Without waiting for his mother to
place refreshments on the table as she
proposed, he opened a large corner cup
board in which they were contained, and
ate voraciously. "I should not have felt
pleasant to be locked up for want of a
little money, particularly after my own
mother had refused to save me from it ;"
he proceeded, and looking at her sharp
ly, he asked, "was the money returned
which you gave to that unlucky young
preacher V was it found about him V"
''No, George, that must have been the
temptation to the wicked deed, for Lewis
Walton had no enemies. Of course the
body was robbed ;" and sighing to think
of the cold avarice of her son, which she
believed caused him to allude thus to an
event which she regarded with such deep
distress, she continued ; "but I have a
considerable sum that I can now let you
have, since the expenses for which it was
Intended will not be incurred. I fear I
may not be doing right to give it to you,
but my mind Is troubled aud I cannot
think clearly. If you can get yourself a
good name by it, you are welcome to it ;
if not, do not let it sink you still deeper
Into evil courses."
She withdrew to her chamber, and
after some minutes returned full of sur
prise, perplexity and alarm. "It is
gone," said she, "stolen from my chest.
But yesterday I had it In my hands, and
now it has disappeared."
"Pshaw 1 you have only changed
your mind, mother; returned George,
with affected incredulity, and then, as if
satisfied by her grave silence, he ob
served, "well, this comes of withholding
your substance from your own flesh and
blood, to bestow it upon Btrangers. But
since you can do nothing for me, I had
better be off. You may as well keep to
yourself that you have seen me, for I
owe some scores in the neighborhood,
that I don't care to be reminded of Just
Was it strange that during the succes
sive incidents of that day, no thought of
tbe implication of Georee In the hidden
deed it had brought tonight, should have
entered the mind of the widow 7 Me
wa hit mother, and what mother, with'
out proofs palpable as her own sense of
exlstence,could suspect of so foul a crime
the child of ber own bosom I But for
several minutes after his departure she
stood in earnest and sad reflection, for in
the acknowledgment of his irregular life
afforded by his recent alarm, there was
sufficient to make her heart still heavier.
When she returned to Jane, she saw
In her a startling change. Her body
seemed to have sunk as well as her
mind, and she lay in a state of suspend
ed animation that fearfully resembled
death. She hurriedly resorted to such
restoratives as were at hand, and when
her efforts bad partially succeeded, sbe
remem bered a bottle of perfu med essence,
then too rare foreommon use, which had
long been kept hoarded among the little
trinkets and other valued ornaments of
the invalid. Sbe opened a drawer to
search for it, and, among its various
contents, she moved ' aside the scarf
which she had, herself, thrown into It
the night before. As she did so her eye
was caught by a large, dark red stain on
the snowy silk, so peculiarly defined,
that in an irresistible impulse she drew
it to tbe light. It was the impress, dis
tinct even to tbe minute lines in the
skin, of a human band the hand, with
its shrunken and mutilated fore-finger,
of George Slade.
Vain would be the use of words to de
scribe the feelings of the heart-struck
mother. The different circumstances of
which she had been cognizant, tending
to support the horrible evidence before
her, flashed across her memory with the
rapidity and vividness of lightning her
conversation with George on his visit of
the evening before, his importunity for
money, his abrupt departure, his unex
plained absence and stealthy return. She
could now comprehend the state of poor
Jane, who must have been a witness of
the fatal rencontre, and amidst her ago
nizing conviction, she could appreciate
the forbearance of the devoted girl in
smothering the natural expression of
her own horror and woe to conceal from
her the guilt of her son. . But her life
long habit of seeking relief in religious
communion did not fail her now, and
throwing herself on her knees, sbe re
mained in silent supplication, it might
have been for hours, for she took no note
of time. When she arose, she laid her
self by the side of Jane, whose insensi
bility seemed to have terminated in that
of a heavy sleep, and tbe next morning
she was found, by the' harvesters of her
little demesne, in a low fever, from
which there seemed much to apprehen
Tbe sleep of Jane lasted until late in
the morning, and when she awoke from
it, her mind seemed to be recovering its
tone. She, indeed, spoke to no one, but
she was partially conscious of what was
passing around her. This was apparent
immediately on her waking, for she
gazed intently on the haggard face pil
lowed beside her own, passed her hand
over it, and laying her head on the ach
ing heart of her foster mother, wept
with the abandonment of a little child.
Widow Blade's Illness inereased, and
as sbe rapidly sank, tbe governing af
fection of Jane's being resumed ita as
cendancy. Though able in a day or two
to move about the cottage, she selttom
left the bedside of her mother, but, with
ber watchful eyes fixed upon her face,
sat holding ber hands in a drooping and
speechless melancholy, which seemed to
evince that her filial anxiety had ab
stracted her from any other source of
But the hours of the widow werenum
bered. No efforts could subdue her dis
ease, and ' in answer to her own direct
and solemn demand, she was told that
human skill was no longer of avail. She
requested to be left alone with Jane, and
broke the communication to her with
gentle calmness. "Yes, Jane," said she,
."I must die, and let me go without the
pain of seeing you grieve. Think, dear
child, where is there mercy like that
which promises to tbt weary and heavy
laden soul a rest iu tbe bosom of its Re
deemer ? Jane, Jane, look in toy face
you will not grieve for me V
: "Oh, no, my mother dear 1" answered
'.. ; .

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